Movie Blog - Film Review, Rating, Plot Summary / Synopsis - Archive 2004

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I Love Silents - Silent Movies

2004 BLOG Archive. My personal movie watching diary - started September 12, 2004. NOTE: there may be spoilers for some entries.

ratings: 1 = dud; 2 = fair; 3 = good; 4 = excellent

December 29, 2004 - Another rainy day - the perfect morning to watch an old Bette Davis tearjerker Dark Victory (1939). Bette Davis plays Judith Traherne - a young woman from the rich set on Long Island who loves to play bridge every day, ride her horse Challenger, and throw drunken house parties that last 'til 5:30 in the morning. Life is great for "Judy" except for one thing - she has been getting terrible headaches for months and now is starting to see double. Still, she is stubborn and won't see a doctor until her personal secretary and best gal pal Ann (Geraldine Fitzgerald), along with her doddering local doctor (Henry Travers) force her to see a specialist - Doctor Steele (George Brent), a brain doctor. Sadly, she is diagnosed as having a brain tumor and requires immediate surgery. Her hair (well, only a *little* hair off the back, it seems, which she easily covers with a small skull cap for half the movie) is cut off, the surgery performed, but bad news: Prognosis Negative - she only has a few months to live. Ann and Doctor agree to keep the news a secret, Judith throws a big after-surgery celebration party with champagne for all - except boring Doctor Steele who doesn't EVER seem to want to indulge in drinks with party happy Judy, but (what else?!) she falls in love with him anyway. Love this movie. It even has Humphrey Bogart (my long-time fave actor) in a small part as Judy's personal horse trainer Michael O'Leary (including fake Irish accent), and Ronald Reagan (also small part) as one of her drunken pals. (4 stars)
Tonight watched the John Waters film Hairspray (1988) - In 1962 Baltimore, tubby teen Tracy Turnblad (Ricki Lake) and her skinny blonde geek-girl gal pal Penny Pingleton like nothing better than to turn on the tube and dance to their fave teen dance show - The Corny Collins Show. They have tickets to GO to the show one day - Tracy struts her stuff with all the show dancers to Madison Time, proves herself to be a great dancer, and is picked to be one of the show's regulars. She soon becomes one of the most popular stars of the show, bleaches her BIG hair blonde (Tracy: "I'm big, blonde, and beautiful"), gets a gig pushing fat girl clothes from The Hefty Hideaway, scoops the hottest teen guy from the show as her new boyfriend, and helps fight the powers-that-be to allow black kids to dance on the show. This movie is real campy and loads of fun, has lots of great dance numbers, and also lots of great side characters like transvestite Divine as Tracy's mom, and other small parts played by Sonny Bono, Debbie Harry, Jerry Stiller, Ric Ocasek, and Pia Zadora. (3.75 stars)

December 28, 2004 - Today was a rainy, rainy day and I watched Parisian Love (1925) (on the same DVD as Down to the Sea in Ships, which I watched yesterday). Clara Bow as Marie, a girl who entertains the "Americans" by dancing the Apache dance in this seedy Paris nightclub along with her "pretty boy" boyfriend Armand, and another guy. After their dance one night, they decide to rob the house of "rich and famous" Pierre Marcel, who is at the club that night. Marie disguises herself as a boy (and then waits outside - so why the disguise?), while the two men break into the house, only to find Pierre there who rises from bed and captures them. Oddly enough, he seems to recognize the handsome Armand and then makes excuses to the cops for him by saying he was a friend (why? My first impression was they were former lovers?!) while the other man is chased by the cops and killed. Armand thinks Marie was killed by the cops too - but it seems to me he has absolutely NO problem switching his affections from female to male as Pierre and Armand figure out that Armand was once Pierre's student at University, they "bond", and then move in together. Marie is jealous and decides to get even with Pierre for stealing her man. So she makes a plan to take Pierre for "every franc he's got" - by marrying him. She now disguises herself as a girl from a convent, introduces herself to Pierre as a friend of a deceased friend, and then dances the tango with Pierre who quickly falls in love with her. This movie is pretty good - nothing great, but quite enjoyable. The music on the Kino DVD is a decent / neutral piano score. Nice-looking tinted print too. (3 stars)

December 27, 2004 - Watched my DVD of Down to the Sea in Ships (1922) about a 19th Century Quaker family in the whaling community of New Bedford, Massachusetts which includes the strict Quaker father, Charles Morgan, who owns a fleet of whaling ships and is a real stickler for the Quaker way of life, patient good daughter named, of course, Patience, and tomboy Granddaughter Dot Morgan (Clara Bow) who likes to fight and has a crush on local boy Jimmy. Meanwhile two "bad men" have a plan to steal Morgan's ships so they plant one of them, Samuel Siggs, in town where he pretends to be a Quaker and a whaler and soon has his mind set on marrying beautiful Patience. Meanwhile Patience has set her cap for "the boy-next-door" who dad doesn't like 'cause he never harpooned a whale. Dot disguises herself as a boy so she can go on a whaling ship with Jimmy when he signs on as a cabin boy. Meanwhile, Siggs and his partner decide to kidnap Boy-Next-Door (and make him "disappear" forever) so the path is clear for Siggs to marry Patience. So they drug him, tie him up, and put him, by coincidence, on the same whaling ship as Dot is a stowaway on. This movie is quite enjoyable although I think it's kind of boring during the lengthy whaling ship scenes - not to mention the fact that it seems quite "yucky" seeing them harpoon and cut up a poor whale. My DVD is from Kino - it has a nice clear tinted print and a piano score by William Perry that is really, really good. Love the music in this. (3.5 stars)

December 26, 2004 - Tonight watched an old favorite of mine - Gigi (1958) - about a young Parisian girl named (what else?!) Gigi (Leslie Caron) who is a clumsy rompy "schoolgirl" being taught proper table manners, how to sniff a cigar, how to tell the difference between a topaz and a yellow diamond - in other words, how to be a proper young lady in the company of "men" - by her spinster aunt. Louis Jourdan plays rich playboy Gaston Lachaille who "all of Paris - and all of the world is watching" but he prefers to spend time with Gigi and her Grandmama more than schmooze with the rich set at Maxim's. It is pretty clear from the get-go that Gigi and Gaston are a couple waiting to happen - after all, Gaston thinks everything is "a bore" but he can actually laugh and have a good time when he is with Gigi, and even though she is just a "child" he likes to pass her champagne and put her "over his knee" - hmmm. Gigi soon grows up, literally overnight, as she switches her little Scotch dress for some skin-tight lace gowns. Maurice Chevalier is great as Gaston's bachelor uncle who sings some great tunes including "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" and "I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore". As a matter of fact, I LOVE all the musical numbers in this movie. Great! (4 stars)

December 20, 2004 - As I said I would yesterday - tonight I watched A Little Princess (1917) (started it from the beginning, so rewatched the part I saw yesterday). Mary Pickford as little girl Sara Crewe. Sara lives in Bombay with her beloved daddy, but he takes her to London and checks her into boarding school - "Miss Minchin's School for Select Young Ladies". Sara is so down from missing her daddy, she can't eat - but soon she gets over it and next thing you know she is gaily riding her pony cart and having secret "fairy story" sessions at night where she thrills all the girls with the story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (seen acted out, including Mary as the slave girl). Sara is very kind to slavey "Becky-Of-All-Work" (Zasu Pitts), a poor girl who works at the school. Then during Sara's 10th birthday party, bad news: Sara's daddy is dead, and he lost all their money in a bad diamond mine investment. Mean old crank Miss Minchin dresses up Sara in a black dress and makes her work as a slavey alongside Becky. Then a kindly man and his Indian manservant see the sad life of lonely little Sara through their window across the way. So they set up a special dinner for Sara and Becky. All works out for Sara in the end (except the fact that her dad really is dead!) as it is happily revealed that the kindly man across the way was her dad's "best friend" and has been looking for Sara to give her her "fortune" from the diamond mine scheme, which paid off after all. I really enjoyed this movie (except I was a little bored during the telling of the Ali Baba story), the print looked nice, and I really loved the music in this done by Jon Mirsalis - it went very well with the movie (and reminded me of being at Cinecon, which I always enjoy so much). Oh, and another thing - there IS a Christmas scene in this at the end - so it followed my b-day tradition after all! By the way, this movie is quite different from the Shirley Temple version which I have seen oh so many times - in which Sara is in search for her father who she doesn't BELIEVE is dead - and it ends up being that he is actually alive. (3.75 stars)

December 19, 2004 - My birthday today - following my birthday tradition I had my annual screening of Little Women (1994) - my favorite version of the classic story of the four March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. I love this movie - love, love, love the score by Thomas Newman. This movie makes me happy, hence one of the reasons for the annual b-day screening. (4 stars) - - - On my birthday I like to watch favorite movies - but my rule is this: must be a movie I love, must be a happy movie, and must have a Christmas scene (since my b-day is so close to Christmas).
After that I really felt like watching my DVD of A Little Princess (1917) starring Mary Pickford. Even though this breaks my tradition in that I haven't seen the movie - so it isn't a "favorite" yet, and I didn't know if there would be a Christmas scene - I don't recall one in the Shirley Temple version (not sure though - actually, maybe there is, now that I think about it). Anyway, I started up the movie, was really enjoying it, but got a couple phone calls during the movie to wish me happy birthday, and then I had to allow enough time to wash my hair (hey, my hair is long, it takes at least two hours to get it dry!) for going out to dinner with Hubby, so I only saw half the movie. Going to start it from the beginning tomorrow though.

December 15, 2004 - Three silents, all produced by Howard Hughes, tonight on TCM - hurrah! First, saw Two Arabian Knights (1927) - two guys, played by pug-faced Louis Wolheim and handsome William Boyd (who reminded me a lot of Leonardo DiCaprio), don't like each other much in the trenches of France during WWI - but they are soon captured and put in a German POW camp, where they bond while being de-loused. Soon the two pals are planning an escape by tunnel under the floor boards (just like The Great Escape - hmm, doesn't Stalag 17 have an escape like that too?!). During their escape, they put on white Arab robes so their uniforms won't be seen on the snow and by a series of incidents soon end up on a ship headed for Arabia! They rescue an Arabian girl (Mary Astor) who falls overboard and both fall for her despite the fact that she is veiled and they have never seen her face (well, the veil is SO thin, you can see her face anyway). The girl and her choice of man from the two, the more handsome William Boyd, soon fall in love as her veil is removed - but when the ship reaches it's destination, her "fiance" is there to great them (what else?!). Then a series of incidents happen in Arabia, which I didn't find as interesting as the first part of the movie. And gosh, I don't know why she objected so much to the fiance - I mean, he WAS kind of evil, but was very handsome too. I REALLY enjoyed this movie - it ended up being my favorite of the three shown tonight. And I really loved the music score for this done by Robert Israel - really great. (3.75 stars)
Next up was The Racket (1928) - organized crime movie starring Thomas Meighan as a "copper" who is trying to break up two rival groups of gangsters, his main target being Mob Boss Nick Scarsi (Louis Wolheim) who thinks stuff like "women are poison to me". Marie Prevost plays the woman in this - blonde showgirl who teases Nick's kid brother, a guy Nick is trying to keep out of "the racket". Nicely photographed, but not really that great. The music for this by Robert Israel was enjoyable. (2.75 stars)
Third movie tonight - saw The Mating Call (1928) - Thomas Meighan as a farmer who becomes a hero in WWI, so local girl / seductress, played by Evelyn Brent, marries him (even though apparently wouldn't give him the time of day before the war) while he is on leave. After the war is over, he comes home to find the parent's of the little vixen had his marriage annulled (under age girl!) and she has married someone else. But, seducer of men that she is, she still chases after him. So he lies and tells her he married a girl in France - then goes to Ellis Island and picks one up. He finds Renee Adoree (who just happens to be very beautiful, and is trying to avoid being deported) and offers to help her (and her parents) if she agrees to marry him - she is shocked but goes with his plan, and soon is living in his house, dousing his ex-wife with water, and cavorting naked in a nearby lake where he covers her with a "robe" that is just about completing see-through (hey, I told Hubby afterwards he really missed something there, by not watching tonight!). Meanwhile there is some *weird* stuff going on in this town involving a group of men called "The Order" - who dress like black-robed KKK members and whip men in town for having loose morals. Yeah, pretty good. This also had a good score by Robert Israel. (3.25 stars)

December 10, 2004 - Saw The Waterdance (1992) - starring Eric Stoltz as a guy recovering in a hospital ward from a hiking accident that has made him a paraplegic. The movie is all about his dealings with the other recovering men in the ward, all of them dealing with their own paralysis, and his dealings with Helen Hunt, his girlfriend - a pretty loose chick who happens to be married to someone else. When this movie first started it didn't seem like it was going to be very good, but I decided I would sit through it anyway so I could check it off "my list" - but it turned out to be a reasonably good movie after all. (3 stars)

December 9, 2004 - This morning I saw Our Modern Maidens (1929) - silent (with sound effects and soundtrack) starring Joan Crawford as fun-lovin' flapper Billie Brown - dancin', drum-playin', dice-rollin', party girl and seducer of men. On the night of the Commencement Prom (was this meant to be high school?! - I think so. Everyone looks about thirty) Billie is secretly engaged to Gil Jordan (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) who her best girlfriend Kentucky (Anita Page) is secretly in love with. Billie wants Gil to get an appointment in the Paris Embassy and says she'll do whatever it takes to get it for him. Well, on the train back after Prom night (where the "children" have their own car and "drink" their lunch) Billie meets Glenn "Dynamite" Abbott (played by the oh so handsome Rod La Rocque) who is a political bigwig in Washington. So Billie seduces the poor sucker (who quickly falls in love with her) into getting an Embassy job in Paris for Gil. But Billie turns out to be not SUCH a bad girl after all, and is very loyal to her best gal pal too. This movie was pretty good - enjoyable. (3.25 stars)

December 8, 2004 - Tonight - Annie Get Your Gun (1950) on TCM, starring Betty Hutton as Annie Oakley. Great Technicolor version of the broadway play, I first saw this on the big screen when they showed it at Cinecon 35 (it was hubby's birthday too, and I remember it was the last screening of the day and there was a LONG interview with Howard Keel after the movie, which was interesting, but I was a bit anxious as I had to get home for hubby's b-day dinner out). I really enjoyed the Cinecon screening - the Technicolor looked AMAZING. Tonight's viewing didn't have quite the same effect as far as the Technicolor (it didn't really POP - looked kind of faded on the TV screen) but I still thoroughly enjoyed the movie and all the great musical numbers in this. Hubby watched most too. Bonus: there was a REALLY interesting interview with Betty Hutton before they showed the movie. She's great! (3.75 stars)

December 7, 2004 - This morning I saw Ice Follies of 1939 (1939) on TCM. Jimmy Stewart as Larry Hall and Lew Ayres as Eddie Burgess - an ice skating duo who apparently were having success until Larry takes on a third partner for their act - Mary McKay (played by Joan Crawford), a singer who can't skate and wrecks the act. They're fired. Meanwhile, Larry and Mary get married - but apparently "Hall and Burgess" were REAL close partners 'cause Burgess is next seen living with the newlyweds, all three together and broke. On their way out of the Ice Palace where they had their last job, the trio's car gets rear-ended by the head of Mammoth Studios (Lewis Stone), who gives them his card to contact him with the damages. Mary decides instead to get herself a job, hits the studio and is hired on the spot - soon they change her name to Sandra Lee and she becomes a huge star! Larry is the kind of guy who won't have a wife more successful than himself (I don't get guys like that) - so, weird, he leaves her to start up his dream idea: an Ice Follies show. He becomes a huge success and then says something to Mary like "Now that we are both equally successful, we can be together again" - hmmm. Anyway, there are some pretty good stunt ice numbers and synchronized skating showgirl numbers in his Follies. This movie is in black and white, but switches to Technicolor for the big finale - a weird version of Cinderella that is kind of dull (and includes a dubbed Joan Crawford singing - she doesn't seem too right for the part of Cinderella to me!). All in all, the story is a bit silly, but the stars in this make it a good movie anyway. And no - Stewart, Crawford, and Ayres don't actually skate in this. (3 stars)
Tonight - Spite Marriage (1928) - Buster Keaton as a pants presser who is in love with a stage actress named Trilby Drew. So he sits in the front row of her latest play "The Carolinas" night after night just to see her. Meanwhile Trilby is in love with the lead actor of her play, a "player" who seems to be leading Trilby on while at the same time running around with a "Society Blonde". So to get even with the guy, she goes into a "spite" marriage with poor sap Buster. This movie is fairly good, although I would have to rate it as one of Keaton's lesser films. (3 stars)

December 4, 2004 - Heath Ledger tonight. Watched 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) - this movie is a take-off on Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew all taking place in a Seattle high school. It is about the Stratford sisters - Kat (Julia Stiles) and Bianca. Bianca is the boy crazy younger sister - popular school "virgin" who all the guys have a crush on. Kat is the older sister - a rebel and a "shrew". The sister's dad comes up with a weird rule to keep Bianca away from the boys: Bianca can date - - - when Kat does (and Kat has NO interest in dating: "Have you seen the unwashed miscreants that go to our school?!"). Meanwhile a new guy in school named Cameron is in love with Bianca, so Cameron and his friend come up with a plan to PAY a guy to take out Kat so Cameron can take out Bianca. Hence the arrival of Heath Ledger as the guy they hire - Patrick Verona: long dirty-haired school bad boy who has the rep that he spent a year in prison and once ate a live duck. This is my favorite Heath Ledger film - it is funny, I love the music in this - and talk about swoon factor! Love the paintball scene, and the school dance, and when Heath sings "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" (gee - I can't take MY eyes off of Heath). I could watch this movie again and again - and do. (4 stars)

December 1, 2004 - Tonight watched Fever Pitch (1997) - U.K. film with Colin Firth as an English teacher and football hooligan who is obsessed with the team Arsenal. In the classroom next to his works a female English teacher who is sort of a prude with a stick-in-the-behind (how else can I put it!). Anyway, she hates him - so, of course, they soon end up in bed together. The movie is all about Firth's obssession with Arsenal winning the league cup (I think it's the cup - anyway, you get what I mean) which they haven't won in eighteen years. I love this movie - and I learned something about English Football too (I don't think I ever even heard of Arsenal before I saw this movie the first time!). And, needless to say, I adore Colin Firth, he is just SO cute (quite shaggy-haired in this movie). (3.75 stars)

November 27, 2004 - Today it was pouring rain and super cold, the kind of day I like to just sit and watch movies. So I put on my DVD of The Garden of Eden (1928) - about a girl from Vienna named Toni (Corinne Griffith) who works in her parents bakery but would rather be an opera singer than make pretzels. So she takes a train to Budapest to take a singing job in this dive cabaret called the Palais de Paris. The joint is run by a lesbian who steers her girls into sleazy show dance numbers - and soon Toni, who thinks she is doing a high--brow opera number in long gown, ends up on stage with the lighting geared to make her dress completely see-through! Poor Toni is devastated, but is befriended by an older lady named Rosa (Louise Dresser) who works in the cabaret wardrobe, but is secretly a baroness who works like a slave all year JUST so she can live it up for two weeks a year at the Hotel Eden in Monte Carlo - hmmm. She takes Toni to Monte Carlo with her and pretends Toni is her daughter Antoinette. Toni soon meets a dandy (Charles Ray) who wants to marry her - my only prob with this movie - zero chemistry between leading man and lady. This movie then becomes a sort of screwball comedy / bedroom farce - suitors hiding behind doors, dresses coming on and off, ya know the stuff. This movie is quite good, and is very nicely photographed too. My DVD version is from Flicker Alley and has quite a good quality print, as well as a good organ music score done by Robert Israel. Really enjoyed this one. (3.75 stars)
Tonight watched Doctor Zhivago (1964) on TCM. Seen this many times - an epic that all takes place during the Russian Revolution. Great score by Maurice Jarre. This is one of my ten favorite films (talkies). Love! (4 stars)

November 26, 2004 - As usual around Thanksgiving, Hubby and I watched Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) which has three Thanksgiving party scenes. Really good movie about Hannah (Mia Farrow) married to a wolf (Michael Caine) who has a crush on Hannah's pretty sister Lee (Barbara Hershey) and he chases all around after her (without the little woman knowing, of course). Hannah and her sister have another sister (Dianne Wiest) who is kind of a flake girl, turning from acting to singing to catering to writing, and she's pretty much a kind of emotional wreck too. Meanwhile, Woody Allen is "The Hypochondriac" - Hannah's ex-husband and for most of the movie worried about possibly having a brain tumor. I first saw this movie in a multiplex theater in the Valley when it was new and, even though most of the movie is a drama, there is some comedy in in too (particularly most of the scenes with Woody Allen). I remember laughing at a number of funny scenes in this movie quietly to myself as no one in this Valley audience seemed to understand the humor of Woody Allen - I always thought that was strange (don't write letters - I swear, I'm not knocking the Valley - I grew up there, but this really did happen - no one in the close to FULL theater was laughing at a single thing!). Hubby, who doesn't usually watch movies of any kind, has watched the last three films I've seen this last week with me (he DOES love Woody Allen). He must be on a kick. (4 stars)

November 23, 2004 - Watched an old fave, Stella Dallas (1937), on TCM tonight. Barbara Stanwyck is great playing the part of Stella, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who chases and GETS the rich and classy boss of the local factory, Stephen Dallas (John Boles). They have a daughter, Laurel (aka "Lollie", played by Anne Shirley aka Dawn O'Day) who seems to be all that is holding them together for awhile, as the differences in their classes soon becomes pretty apparent - Stella prefers to party all night with her new racetrack gambler / drunken pal, Ed Munn (Alan Hale) and his buddies, rather than go home and rest after she first has her baby, Stephen is always up for an "early night". The Dallas's soon split up - and the story becomes a real Soaper about the conflicts Lollie feels between living with her father or mother who live vastly different lifestyles. I love this movie. (4 stars)

November 20, 2004 - Watched Best Years of Our Lives (1946) - currently one of my top ten favorite films (talkies, that is). Such a great movie about three guys who come home after WW2 and try and get back into their lives at home again. (4 stars)

November 22, 2004 - Watched Up In Mabel's Room (1926) - a silly sort of bedroom farce the main plot of which involves all kinds of people diving under beds and a hunt for an autographed see-thru nightie. It is about a vampish flapper girl (Marie Prevost) chasing her ex-husband (Harrison Ford) who she has filed for divorce from 'cause she caught him buying women's lingerie and he "couldn't explain it" (but now she knows he was buying a gift for HER). At one point she literally chases him around the desk where she plants one on him and he is worried that people will think he is a "swivel-chair sheik"! Pretty good movie, and that Harrison Ford is quite a cutie. Maybe yet another new crush for me, hmmm?! My video of this is from Nostalgia Family Video. The picture quality was medium. The score was pretty so-so - sometimes the music didn't go at all with what was going on in the movie, a few parts it was okay. Probably would have liked this one better with a better score. (2.75 stars)

November 19, 2004 - This evening watched my DVD of Days of Heaven (1978). I have seen this film many times and I think it has got to be one of the most gorgeously photographed movies ever made. I first saw this in the theater when it was new, and even as a teenager I remember being amazed at the beautiful cinematography. I also love the music in this movie. It is a simple period story, set in 1916, about a bunch of workers picking wheat on a big farm owned by Sam Shepard. Linda Manz does the voiceover narration and plays the little sister of Richard Gere, a young man whose girlfriend (Brooke Adams) is the object of interest to the owner of the farm. The owner, even though young, is very ill - so they come up with a plan for the girlfriend to marry the owner thinking he will die soon and they will get all his money. This is a quiet movie without a lot of dialogue, and there is something about the way this movie is done that makes me feel like I am really there, in 1916, in the wheatfields, next to that big Victorian house. Just a terrific movie. NOTE: for silent movie interest, there is a brief scene where they are having a home screening of Charlie Chaplin's The Immigrant. (4 stars)

November 17, 2004 - Watched my DVD of The Drop Kick (1927). Richard Barthelmess plays Jack, a Mama's Boy / Football Hero college student (who looks like he is approaching forty years old!). One day he meets up with innocent young Cecily, who has been in love with Jack since childhood. Jack is not that keen on her, but is soon persuaded by his mother (played by Hedda Hopper) to take Cecily (Barbara Kent) to the Thanksgiving Prom. He is bored out of his mind dancing with Cecily so pawns her off on another guy while he starts dancing with other girls including his old flame, Eunice, a vamp who is now married to the school football coach (but she doesn't let that stop her from "having a good time"). The Vamp is really after Jack, but Jack soon (real soon) falls for Cecily - apparently the green-eyed monster was all it took to turn Jack's opinion of Cecily - he sees her dancing with another man. Meanwhile the coach is having money troubles which is not limited to the fact that his wife Eunice spent $700 (!!) on an evening gown and cape. This turns into a real Soaper - all ending up with the Big Game at the end. This was a reasonably good film, and Barthelmess is oh so handsome. My DVD is from Nostalgia Family Video and has a tinted print that looks pretty good, but the music (although okay during some parts) didn't match the movie very well, and sometimes was kind of irritating. (3 stars)
This evening saw The Missing (2003). Oh dear, what can I say? - - starring Tommy Lee Jones, directed by Ron Howard, and with a nice musical score by James Horner (all of these things should be big plusses in my book) - this was just SO violent and vile that I can't give it very high marks. I am okay with violence in a movie, if it fits with the story, but this movie just seemed to be geared around showing more and more violence just to show it. About a prairie woman (Cate Blanchett) with two daughters - the teenage one is kidnapped by a group of renegade Indian / white men who steal young girls to sell in Mexico. The kidnapped girl's grandfather (Tommy Lee Jones) is an Indian wannabee and not on good terms with his daughter - but he sets out with them to help rescue the girl. This movie was photographed quite nicely, has a good score, and could have been quite a good movie, but it just sort of made me sick. (2.75 stars)

November 10, 2004 - Watched Chained (1934) - Joan Crawford as Diane (aka "Dinah") - homewrecker / good girl who is having an affair with her much older, married boss. The boss asks his wife for a divorce, wife refuses, then Dinah goes off on an ocean voyage where she meets hunk Clark Gable and downs Sherry Flips, her drink of choice. They fall in love, then separate after the voyage ends, and she finds out the boss's wife has now granted the divorce - and, well, she just can't break his heart 'cause he is such a nice guy. So she writes Gable a "Dear John" letter and marries the boss. More to come - you can guess! Good one, enjoyed this. Had Mickey Rooney in a bit part in the pool scene. (3 stars)

November 9, 2004 - This morning saw Song of the City (1937) - about a San Francisco dull guy: from the rich set, but bankrupt. He has a girlfriend who is "one of the richest young ladies in the country" and wants to marry him, but he isn't interested. While on a ship he falls overboard and is fished up by some Italian fishermen who bring him home with them. He then gets involved with this kind of stereotypical Italian family - a happy family that sings, fishes, eats big bowls of spaghetti, and has a pretty daughter who is a nurse but wants to be an opera singer. Of course, he falls for her. The family give him a job fishing on their small boat - well, he doesn't really take to it or at least his lily white hands don't. He gets in fights with the brute fisherman son, and later plays a hero as he miraculously rescues the people (including Nurse Girl) from a ship that is on fire. Guess who gets hooked up in the end?! (2.5 stars)

November 8, 2004 - Watched a couple movies starring Joan Carroll on TCM - first, Obliging Young Lady (1942) has Joan Carroll (looking and talking very much like Shirley Temple) as a little girl, Bridget Potter, whose hobby is placing tacks on chairs for people to sit on. Little Miss Tack Girl's parents are split apart and fighting in court over her, so the judge orders her into the custody of, of all things, their LAWYER. Lawyer Man lives in a "men's club" so his secretary Linda Norton (Ruth Warrick) takes Bridget to live with her. Meanwhile, Edmund O'Brien (who earlier in the movie fell for Linda when he saw her out his train window, jumped out and kissed her, and got a slap in the face for his trouble) is now in love with Miss Linda Norton and searching for her, and in yet another one of those "movie coincidences" that I keep seeing lately, ends up on a train where he befriends young Bridget who is traveling with Linda to go in hiding. Later there is all kinds of stuff in a lodge run by a bunch of real "characters", including the arrival of a bird-watching group (lead by Franklin Pangborn) that are a real bunch of strangies and do some rather realistic bird calls. So so. (2.5 stars)
Petticoat Larceny (1943) - Joan Carroll as Joan Mitchell, child radio star, who thinks the scripts for her show Underworld stink, so sets out to seek reality so she can write a script herself. The very night she is set to sneak out, by coincidence, a mug called Pinky is robbing her house - so they decide to join forces and split the "take". Soon she is living with Pinky and his gang - three bumbling old desperados who turn out to have hearts of gold for the kid who they nickname "Small Change". Meanwhile, her publicity agent back home gets accused of faking her "kidnapping" 'cause, afterall, he talked about doing just that a few days before. So so. (2.5 stars)
Tonight watched a precode musical that I actually have never seen before - Love Me Tonight (1932). A very unusual movie with all kinds of rhyming dialogue, lots of interesting camera work, and three old dames that look like the witches of Macbeth (one is played by Elizabeth Patterson "Mrs. Trumbull" of I Love Lucy fame). Maurice Chevalier is a singing tailor who meets Jeanette MacDonald on the road one day and falls in love with her (I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, says he). In yet another one of those movie coincidences, Maurice unknowingly ends up at her castle (YES, turns out she is a Princess) posing as a baron and meets and woos her again. My favorite parts of the movie were all the great songs they sing including Isn't It Romantic and Mimi. The only problem I had with this movie was the *extreme* lack of chemistry between leading man and lady - it was just impossible to believe their characters cared two hoots for each other. (3.25 stars)

November 7, 2004 - Sunday morning - I watched The Little Foxes (1941) - one I haven't seen in quite a few years so the story was new to me again (hey, I see so many movies sometimes something I last saw two years ago is like new). All about a wealthy family in 1900 and their schemes to make more money. Bette Davis as Regina, Teresa Wright as Alexandra "Xan" - her innocent teenage daughter, and Herbert Marshall as Horace - the good, but extremely sick husband of Bette Davis. The family wants to marry off Xan to their smarmy nephew Leo (Xan's first cousin!), but she meanwhile is busy flirtin' up a storm with young, poor, but extremely cute (yup!) local boy David (Richard Carlson). Regina and her brothers want Horace to invest in some scheme, but when he refuses, young Leo who works in the bank "borrows" bonds out of Horace's safe deposit box and the uncle's cut Regina out of the deal. But she finds out - oh boy! Really good. (3.75 stars)
This afternoon I watched Chances Are (1989) - Robert Downey Jr. plays Alex Finch, the reincarnation of Corinne's (played by Cybill Shepherd) dead husband Louie. She was pregnant when Louie died and afterwards gives birth to a daughter, Miranda (Mary Stuart Masterson), who meets Alex at Yale, and later coincidences occur when Alex meets up with Ryan O'Neal (once Louie's best pal and in love, then and now, with Corinne) and he brings Alex home to the same house where he once lived his life as Louie and where Corinne and Miranda (who turns out to be his daughter in the past life) live. Since when Louie died he didn't get the mandatory shot to "make you forget your last life" that they give you in heaven - he now remembers being Louie. But to find out more - - tune in tomorrow, same time, same channel. Gosh this movie sounds like a Soap. Always liked this one - and after all, I've never seen a reincarnation movie I didn't like. Nice score by Maurice Jarre - I could hear touches of Doctor Zhivago and lots of Passage to India in this score. (3.5 stars)

November 5, 2004 - Saw one I haven't seen before: Primrose Path (1940). Ginger Rogers as Ellie May, a girl who lives in the bad neighborhood of Primrose Hill and has a family that includes a drunken father who quotes Greek philosophers, a little bratty sister named "Honeybell", a grandma that is, there's no other way to put it, an old bitch, and a ma who runs around with other men but really has a heart of gold. Ellie May dresses in pigtails to make herself look like a kid so the fellows won't chase her, but (surprise) they chase her anyway. She goes clammin' at the beach, and ends up at a joint called "Hamburgers by the Sea" where the workers trade quips with patrons by making jokes about the poor quality of the food. Joel McCrea plays Ed - a smart-alecky guy who works at the joint, and soon gets mixed up with "the kid", kisses her (even though he seems to think she's a schoolgirl "barely off the elementary school playground"), and pretty much by the next day they are married and she is working as a waitress in the joint and trading barbs like an old pro. Things go awry when she takes Ed home to meet her family. Good one - enjoyed this movie quite a bit, it even had a few laughs in the earlier parts (like a wild motorcycle ride along the beach) although becomes much more serious later in the film. (3.5 stars)

November 3, 2004 - Early morning on TCM - I saw She Couldn't Say No (1954) - Jean Simmons and Robert Mitchum pretty much wasted in this slow mover all about a kind of annoying gal who gets entangled with the folks in the small town of Progress, Arkansas including the town drunk, dull doctor (Mitchum) who likes to fish for a fish called Hercules more than he likes doctoring, and a young boy named Digger who seems to have NOTHING else to do but constantly hang around the adults of town and put in his two cents worth over the silly stuff they do. The Jean Simmons character gives gifts including envelopes full of money to all the dullards of town 'cause she feels she owes them for pooling money for an operation that saved her life when she was two, and meanwhile falls for Dull Doc - who gives her one of the most lifeless kisses ever put on film (obviously no attraction there for these two actors). Not that good. (2.25 stars)
Tonight was the start of Clark Gable "Star of the Month" on TCM and I watched one I have seen quite a few times before - Saratoga (1937). Horse racing movie with Clark Gable as a racing bookie, Jean Harlow as the girl (there's ALWAYS a girl), and everyone going to the different tracks by ridin' the rails and singin' "The Horse with the Dreamy Eyes" on the "Racing Special". Jean Harlow died during the making of this film and there is a double during a few scenes where you only see her from the back - these scenes are kind of odd, but it really is only in a few spots. I always quite liked this, and all movies pairing Gable and Harlow. (3 stars)

November 1, 2004 - Nostalgia - watched my DVD of Some Kind of Wonderful (1987) - a high school guy (Eric Stoltz) from the proverbial "wrong side of the tracks" works at the local gas station and has a cute little blonde tomboy (Mary Stuart Masterson) as his best friend. Tomboy girl is in love with him, but he loves Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson) - a sort of stuck-up girl from school who is pretty, popular, and dates the school rich heartthrob/big jerk guy. I love all these John Hughes high school movies from the 80s, and the new wave 80s music, the clothes, the hair-dos, etc. in these is really nostalgic - brings me right back to those years (which weren't really all that long ago - hmm?!!). (3.75 stars)

October 31, 2004 - Halloween - this afternoon saw a movie I have seen oh SO many times - The Bad Seed (1956). Patty McCormack is great as Rhoda Penmark - blonde pigtails, red dress, and a pair of shoes with cleats - the most psycho-evil little girl ever on film who will do whatever it takes to get herself the school penmanship medal. Henry Jones is so memorable as Leroy - I just love all the scenes he is in. In my "youth" my dad and I used to always do the dialogue together of the scenes between Rhoda and Leroy - all that stuff about "Little Miss Uppity", stick bloodhounds, pink and blue electric chairs, etc. - we knew all the lines (and the WAY the lines are spoken)! This movie is unforgettable. (4 stars)
- - - - This Halloween evening watched The Haunting (1963) on TCM (Hubby watched most with me). Four people arrive for an experiment in ghost hunting at a big old haunted house called Hill House. Julie Harris plays one of the guests - a woman seen at the beginning of the film lonely and sleeping on the couch in her sister and brother-in-law's house. She and another woman introduced as a psychic (Claire Bloom) are real scared in Hill House at night, they cozy up together in bed (at least that is the way my husband saw it - that was his favorite part), as all kinds of noises and weird stuff is going on. As the days go by, the Julie Harris character is getting more and more crazy neurotic as spooky stuff keeps happening - she's really starting to lose it, but doesn't want to go back home to her empty life. Well, this movie was not that great, but kinda' spooky and suitable to watch on Halloween. If I had seen this when I was ten or eleven years old - I would have LOVED it, I used to really like stuff like this at that age. (2.5 stars)
After that, watched the Silent Sunday screening of The Phantom of the Opera (1925). Lon Chaney as Erik - the Phantom, a man seen only in a mask who loves a singer in the Paris Opera and "helps" her career, then later kidnaps her down to his hideaway several levels down below the Opera House. In a great scene, she is overcome by curiousity and pulls off his mask to reveal the monstrous features underneath. Great! And I love the neat two-strip Technicolor Masked Ball scene. This version has a nice musical score done by Carl Davis (my fave).(3.75 stars)

October 30, 2004 - Tonight watched My Boss's Daughter (2003) - comedy about a guy (Ashton Kutcher) who has a crush on the daughter of his boss, so (thinking she is asking him for a date, the dope) he agrees to housesit the boss's house including taking care of his pet OWL. Soon the house is full of a bunch of derelicts, the owl is loose, and the house is a wreck (what a surprise). I laughed a couple of times but as a whole, a pretty dumb movie. (2 stars)

October 29, 2004 - Early today I watched A Fool There Was (1915) - Theda Bara plays "The Vampire" - a very bad girl who seduces man after man and "ruins" them including one left "rotting in prison" and another who commits suicide as she purrs that classic line "Kiss me, my fool". She follows a wealthy man sailing on the "Gigantic" to England, quickly makes her mark, and he is next seen in Italy two months later having left his wife and little Shirley Temple blonde curled daughter for the Vamp (who basically, in the end, leaves the guy a blithering idiot - completely wiped out every way there is, and seen crawling along the floor in ruin). Yea, pretty good. Had a decent / neutral piano score to accompany. (3 stars)
Tonight I watched Quicksand (1950) starring Mickey Rooney (and with Peter Lorre in quite a small part). Mickey is a guy who sees a blonde, "borrows" 20 bucks from the cash register where he works to take her out, and quickly goes downhill committing more crimes to try and make things right - he just wants out of this situation! Unfortunately, I fell asleep on the couch and missed the end, but thought this a good movie anyway. (3 stars)

October 27, 2004 - Watched Whale Rider (2002) - a girl power movie from New Zealand. About a young Maori girl named Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes) and the conflict between her and her grandfather in a rural seaside village in NZ. Pai is the first born in a long line of first born males who are the leaders of the tribe - but, much to Granddaddy's distress, she is a girl! Gramps teaches the young males of the village how to be warriors - Pai wants to learn too, but is set down every step of the way by the old stickler for tradition. She finds her way anyway, rides a whale, etc. - you go girl! Quite good. (3.5 stars)

October 25, 2004 - Watched a John Cusack movie - Gross Pointe Blank (1997) - about a guy who is a "professional killer" and goes back home to Gross Pointe to attend his ten-year high school reunion. He reunites with his old girlfriend Debi (Minnie Driver) who he didn't bother to pick up for their prom date ten years earlier (so she is kinda' fake mad at him, but just a little). I guess this was supposed to be a comedy, but it just didn't quite hit the mark for me. I didn't care for all the shooting with two guns flying that was in this - if it was supposed to be funny, it wasn't really. I was slightly amused by the scene in the 7-11 style mini-market where there is a shootout and the worker guy in there doesn't even hear it because he is busy playing this shooter video game and thinks the sounds are coming from the game. (2.5 stars)

October 18, 2004 - Watched Open Range (2003) with Robert Duvall, Kevin Costner, and Annette Bening - I thought it was fantastic. Super! Four men are running cattle on the open range where they come into conflict with men in a small town that don't like "free rangers". Great western - and I have loved seeing Robert Duvall in a cowboy role ever since he was so great in Lonesome Dove. (4 stars)

October 17, 2004 - Sunday morning and watched one of my favorites The Apartment (1960) on TCM. Jack Lemmon works in one of those huge offices you see in old movies - you know the ones: with rows and rows of desks all in one room and a swingin' wild office Christmas party with secretaries dancing on desks. He does his best to move up the "corporate ladder" by letting a group of middle-aged married executives use his apartment to bring their mistresses for flings. Shirley MacLaine is great as the cute pixie-haired gal who runs the elevator. And I love, love, love Jack Lemmon in every movie I've seen him in. (4 stars)
Tonight watched an Australian movie Muriel's Wedding (1994). Muriel is the plump girl who loves Abba and hangs out with four, how shall I put it, "stuck-up bitch" gal pals. She meets an old school chum, Rhonda, one night, leaves her small Australian town of Porpoise Spit with Rhonda to live it up in Sydney, and comes out of her shell while dreaming of the perfect wedding despite having no boyfriend. Good film and I love all the Abba songs in this. (3 stars)

October 16, 2004 - Today watched a recent French film with subtitles called Jet Lag (2002). All about a kind of psychotic girl obssessed with make-up and hair spraying her stiff bob. She meets a guy in the Paris airport after their flight is delayed and they end up sharing a room together, strictly plutonic. Well, it turns out he is plenty weird himself including a freakish thing about not liking any smells, so maybe these two are kind of made for each other, hmm?!. Quite good. (3 stars)
Tonight on TCM - watched an old one I've never seen before called Wild Boys of the Road (1933). Two high-school fellows, Eddie (played by Frankie Darro) and Tommy, have parents out of work so decide to hit the road so their families aren't "burdened" with them. They bum rides on trains and meet up with a cute young gal, Sally, who is dressed as a boy. They find out quickly she is a girl yet oddly seem to have no interest in her other than as a "pal". The three of them travel around the country together trying to find work. At one point Eddie is offered a job and the three decide they will all live in a flat together, yet still neither of the guys tries to hit on Sally! This movie was pretty good - seemed like a propaganda film to push the new NRA (sign prominently seen behind the desk of the judge in one later scene). The background music was full of songs from Golddiggers of 1933 - perhaps that was being pushed as well?! (3 stars)

October 11, 2004 - Tonight watched The Third Man (1949) (and Hubby actually watched this one with me!). Love the slanting camera angles and zither music. Joseph Cotten is one of my faves. (4 stars)

October 9, 2004 - Gender Bender night on TCM - I watched one of my old faves, Some Like It Hot (1951). I have seen this many times - but never get tired of it. I might as well admit - I have never seen a cross-dressing movie I didn't like. I love the scene on the train in the upper berth and a nighttime drinks party for Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe, and lots of blondes. (4 stars)

October 5, 2004 - Watched Flying Down to Rio (1933) tonight on TCM. I love the musical numbers is this - namely the Ginger Rogers solo number - don't remember the name of the song, but she is wearing a kind of see-through dress - and I love when she and Fred Astaire dance the Carioca. I also like the number at the end with the wingwalkers, but unfortunately I was sleepy yet again tonight (having a tired week, I guess) and fell asleep on the couch only to wake up and find I missed that number and the movie was over! (3 stars)

October 4, 2004 - Tonight on TCM I saw That's Entertainment Part 2 (1976) and even though I have seen it many, many times - I really enjoyed it. One of those documentaries I saw in the Seventies that really got me into old movies. They also showed Part 1 of this tonight but I was eating dinner and missed most but the end. Then they showed That's Entertainment Part 3 (1994) - I may have only seen this once before. I really like the way this one was done - lots of neat clips in it too. Unfortunately, being quite sleepy tonight, I fell asleep for a lot of the last half. Poo. (4 stars for That's Entertainment 1, 2, and 3)

October 3, 2004 - Silent Sunday and a screening of Judex (1917) - an early serial, they showed episodes 1 to 4 tonight. Unfortunately, I drowsed through most of it, and it seemed good too. I have got to start taping these things and watching earlier in the day.

September 27, 2004 - Tonight I watched Freaky Friday (2003) and really enjoyed it. I may as well admit it now - I have never seen a body switching movie I didn't like. (3.5 stars)
Afterwards I decided to have a trip back in time to the Roaring Twenties and watched a silent - Brown at Harvard (1927). Smart-alecky, charm boy, Tom Brown (played by the very likable William Haines) is a freshman at Harvard. To get the idea of the type of guy this is - he actually wears a belt he calls his "Sheik Belt" with a notch cut in it for every girl who falls for him. Brown's "half-pint" roommate Doo (played by cute Jack Pickford) is quite sickly but sticks by his pal no matter what. Well, Brown the lady's man, of course, soon falls for a professor's daughter, Mary (Mary Brian). But there is also some rather close "bonding" between the two fellows, specifically in the form of Brown rubbing Doo's bare chest (quite tenderly) with some sort of VapoRub. Hmmm. This is quite an enjoyable film. The video version I have has a reasonably good / neutral piano score on it. (3.25 stars)

September 26, 2004 - Sunday morning and a bit of a hangover from last night. So, I tried to watch an old favorite of mine on TCM - Clash of the Titans (1981) - but TCM was runnin' bad today apparently. The movie started then went black until after waiting and waiting for the movie to come back on, I finally had to abandon it. Blah. Tonight I watched a romantic comedy that I somehow had never seen before - While You Were Sleeping (1995) - and I LOVED it! Really romantic, just the kind of thing I like, with Sandra Bullock as a girl who works in the Chicago El ticket office, and is in love with a man she sees each day but has never spoken to. On Christmas Day he is there waitiing for the train when some thugs mug him and he gets pushed onto the tracks. Sandra plays the hero, pushes him off the tracks just as a train is coming, then goes to the hospital with him where he is a pronounced in a coma. When his family comes to the hospital, she pretends to be his fiancee. When she meets his brother Jack, played by Bill Pullman, she starts to fall for him. This movie was great! I think I like the romantic comedies better where I, myself, find the male lead attractive and I found Bill Pullman to be really attractive in this film. (4 stars)

September 24, 2004 - Watched a recent movie that I was anxious to see - Mona Lisa Smile (2003). Julia Roberts as the new feminist, pants wearing, art instructor at Wellsley College circa 1953. She wants the girls to become more than "just housewives" and deals with several of her students including Kirsten Dunst as a snooty, just about to be married, little problem maker and her friend, played by Julia Stiles, torn between dreams of law school and the housewife route. This was a really good film, although I had pretty high expectations for this and it wasn't as great as I was hoping. Still, really quite good. (3.75 stars)

September 18, 2004 - Watched a recent bit of silly stuff called The Guru (2002). Not really that good, but had a few laughs here and there. About a guy from India who comes to America to make his fortune (wants to be a famour STAR) and ends up "The Guru of Sex" by using stuff that his porn star girlfriend (Heather Graham) says to him. Liked the spoofs of the Bollywood films and takeoff on Grease musical number. (2.5 stars)

September 12, 2004 - Watched The Parson's Widow (1920) on TCM's Silent Sunday. I first saw this film at an early morning screening at Cinecon 33 (I think this was the morning of the day Princess Diana was killed) and I thought it was really good (I remember being glad I had gotten myself out of bed early to get over to the Red Lion Hotel and see the movie). I enjoyed this film again tonight. In a 17th century village, a new parson is being chosen from three hopeful tryouts - our hero, a geeky scholar, and a pudgy buffoon (our hero sticks a feather in the back of buffoon guy's head who then does his whole tryout with it there). After our hero is chosen as the new parson he finds out it is tradition for the parson to marry the widow of the previous parson - a very old craggy-looking woman. Here's the rub - hero has a fiancee. So he introduces the fiancee Mari to the parson's widow and asks if she can live with them. Parson's widow agrees, and gets hero drunk on Scnapps so that he sees her as young and goes ahead with the marriage. Hero and Mari now are just hoping the old woman dies, so they can marry. The old woman gives all appearances of being a real old sourpuss - but is she really? All works out in the end, when she reveals that she too was once young, in love, and waiting for the parson's widow to die. I enjoyed watching this the second time almost (well, not on big screen) as much as the first. Music in this was pretty good - not really memorable though. (3.5 stars)

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