Cinecon 53 Classic Film Festival Report with Plot Summaries, Movie Reviews and Ratings
Featuring my reviews, ratings (from 1 to 10, 10 being tops), plus plot summary for each of the films screened at the Cinecon 53 Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, California. Held over Labor Day weekend from August 31st to September 4th 2017 at the Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Blvd.
For more information about the festival visit :
Cinecon Classic Film Festival
My Reviews for Cinecon 53 Films
Running Themes list
Random Thoughts list
Cinecon 53 is over now. It was fun and I saw many interesting films -- but, unfortunately, the L.A. area was hit with a really, really brutal heatwave that made me exhausted and starting to feel a bit sick almost from the first movie. I had a lot of trouble sleeping when I got home each night, from the excessive heat - so didn't see as many movies as usual. Still, I saw quite a few things and, even though I am now suffering from a very bad cold (now two weeks later: coughing, coughing, coughing), I have squeaked out some reviews. The weather is now cloudy and much cooler (why couldn't it have been this way during Cinecon?!).
(Please note the films reviewed on this site contain plot summaries and may contain SPOILERS. Most of the plot summaries on this page are based on my memory from one viewing at Cinecon, so not sure if every one is 100 percent accurate.)
Movie Screenings Thursday August 31, 2017
- Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928) - Seen this before, more than once - not among my most fave Buster Keaton films, but very good. This screening was accompanied by a live orchestra, the Famous Players Orchestra, which was great and helped make this special. The best part of this was the climax scene of the movie involving a huge cyclone hitting the town, with houses blowing over and such (this all looked amazing on the huge screen at the Egyptian Theatre). The orchestra included sound effects including wind sounds that seriously enhanced these scenes - from where I was sitting I could hear the sound effects coming from different sides of the theater, making it sound like it was following the action on the screen. The cyclone segment of this film is so good, in fact, I will have to rethink by opinions on this one - I have a Buster Keaton set on DVD, may rewatch this soon. Rating - * 9/10 stars *
- Now I'll Tell (1934) - Losing my memory now over the plot of this one, but it stars Spencer Tracy and I always seem to enjoy his films. I have seen this movie before, but it was quite a few years ago so didn't remember anything about it at all. Notable for a very gorgeous Alice Faye, singing in close-up on the big screen - and a brief appearance by a very young Shirley Temple. Rating - * 8/10 stars *
Movie Screenings Friday September 1, 2017
- Woman Chases Man (1937) - PLOT SUMMARY - Romantic-comedy/screwball starring Miriam Hopkins as Virginia, a wannabee architect who tries to get a job with millionaire Nolan (Charles Winninger), an inventor with plans to create his dream suburb, a housing tract he wants to call "Nolan Heights". Virginia already has plans for houses that she has drawn up and feels would be perfect for Nolan Heights. He thinks her designs are great, but can't hire her and brings her home to his mansion to explain why. There she finds the place empty, the servants all let go, half of the furnishings covered in sheets. Seems he's broke! He has invested too much dough in half-baked inventions and quack ideas. He shows her several pictures of his son on the wall - as a boy, a teen, and nerdy grown college grad with glasses. He then explains his plan to help get his son, a rich man, to invest in Nolan Heights - and recruits Virginia to help. The plan is this -- Virginia will greet the son when he arrives for a visit, and will have a note from dad explaining that she is an "old friend" and that dad is "out of town". Meanwhile, the senior Nolan will be hiding somewhere in the house (for some reason), listening. She must then try to convince the son to invest some big bucks in the housing project. Though the son doesn't look handsome in his pictures, he has transformed big-time. When she sees him, she falls for him (well, he is Joel McCrea). Meanwhile, they have recruited her sister and beau to pose as maid and butler so the son won't get the notion that dad's short on bucks (and was forced to reduce his staff). This pair has no experience working as servants and even dress in uniforms from their previous work as theatre ushers. They come across as rather inept, service-wise. Young Nolan tells them that he is a "one drink only man" and that he goes crazy, investing in inventions he shouldn't, whenever he has more than one drink. Okey-dokey, that's her clue to get him drunk. Crafty Nolan senior gets busy making her a gown he sews together from the window curtains. Very skilled with the needle and thread, the gown comes out gorgeous and she uses it to trick handsome younger Nolan into drinking champagne with her - by telling him that it is her traditional birthday toast. He drinks it, but it doesn't work - but he ends up getting served brandy by someone, and that does the trick. Now he's ready to "sign for anything" and in a scene up a tree, Virginia gets him to offer up the investment money needed to start Nolan Heights.
REVIEW - This was a pretty good screwball comedy, nothing great - but not too bad. It's pretty fast-paced, and I thought the two leads - Miriam Hopkins and Joel McCrea - were both pretty good (maybe even had some chemistry together). Okay, one plot point that I'm a bit shaky on - I don't quite see why the character of Nolan senior had to pretend to be out of town in this (thus hiding in the house so he's not seen by his son) - why couldn't he have been there, introduced the woman as a friend, and then let her do her stuff. Seems like she could still have tried her best to get the son to invest even with Pop around. Oh well.
Just to note: I think I must really enjoy the style of Joel McCrea's acting and the characters he plays in these sort of screwball-type movies he has starred in, because several of his are among my favorites - "The Palm Beach Story", "Sullivan's Travels", and "The More the Merrier". I've seen all three of these movies multiple times and never get tired of them. Rating - * 7 to 7.5/10 stars *
- The Lion, The Lamb, The Man (1914) - Rather primitive early film, boosted up by being filmed in the great outdoors and featuring a nicely muscle-toned, buff Lon Chaney in a small role. Actress Pauline Bush is promoted as the star of this "drama in two parts" in advertisements from the day - one ad promoting this as "another of those clever Rex Dramas featuring this ever popular actress". Typical of films from this time period, the photography includes no close-ups of the actor's faces and I found it a bit hard to distinguish one fellow from the other (had to look for those muscle-toned arms here). There are two men that are fighting and in conflict with each other based around a young woman. She takes off her stockings to wade in a river, only to have one of them float away. She chases after it and comes upon a man down the river who has found the stocking and been showing interest in discovering the owner of it. Pretty much the next shot later, this new man and her are married with baby. The first two fellows, out of luck. Another film at this year's Cinecon that I was rather drowsy during, so that didn't help me follow this plot. Rating - * 7.5/10 stars *
- Shark Monroe (1918) - PLOT SUMMARY - William S. Hart plays Shark Monroe, a handsome, brooding sea captain described in the title cards as "primitive : half-devil, half-child". He meets up with a brother/sister pair in a saloon and it seems the brother has a problem with drink and has boozed away all their money on liquor. The sister asks Monroe if there are jobs to be had for a female aboard his ship, the Indiana, which is soon to sail for Skagway, the sibling's destination. Monroe hires on the brother, giving him "dirty work" - while Sis, young and pretty (of course), is offered this captain's own cabin for her quarters. Ignoring this fact, she gets plenty mad at Shark for his treatment of her brother, calling him a "BEAST". Finally in Skagway, this bro/sis duo are still broke and are soon in debt to the owner of the lodging house where they are staying. The owner, "Big Baxter", suggests she "marry him" in order to pay off the debt, and she sadly agrees. But at the wedding, Shark suddenly steps in with his own "preacher man" in tow, then makes the girl marry him instead. Well, being married to Shark makes her unhappy and lonely - and when she cries, he lets her go (and that's not too hard, 'cause it seems his "preacher man" was a fake - and he, being an upright fellow, has not touched her yet). Back in town, Big Baxter repeats his offer of marriage to her. This time she rejects him, telling him "I don't love you and won't marry you". Next thing you know, Shark lets her brother beat him up so that he can learn to be a "real man" (yeah, a bit weird). And she suddenly realizes that she's in love with Shark. Kiss. The end.
REVIEW - Though Hart plays a sea captain in this film instead of his usual cowboy, the plot of this is decidedly similar to most of his other films. He's forever the handsome, tough, quiet and serious loner who usually connects up with a brother/sister duo or simply a pretty girl. He falls for the girl character, who helps soften his rough exterior and bring him out of his shell. This film was entertaining, but not a standout for one of his movies. William S. Hart (rather a heartthrob, in my eyes) is one of my most favorite stars from the silent era, so I was pretty sure to like to this one. Rating - * 8/10 stars *
- Universal and Mentone Shorts - A selection of four rare early musical variety shorts that featured a number of performances by different vaudeville and musical acts of the day. These were pretty interesting to watch (I always really enjoy seeing shorts that showcase these early vaudeville performers).
1. --- I Know Everybody and Everybody's Racket (1933) - In which Walter Winchell, as himself, helps out a pretty and wide-eyed small-town reporter by pointing out the various celebrities and mobsters at a New York City nightclub ('cause he knows everybody). She's absolutely "gaga" about it all. Ends up though, she's not so "small town" after all. Featured music by Paul Whiteman and his Rhythm Boys and others.
2. --- Ed Sullivan's Headliners (1934) - The memories of this short are pretty vague now but it definitely stood out for starring a really young Ed Sullivan, who comes across exactly the same as in his later TV show (just with a younger face).
3. --- Television Highlights (1936) - This featured a young Henny Youngman, and showcased vaudeville acts seen via an early television set screen. Most memorable in my mind now being an entertaining dance number by the "Twelve Prom Girls". There was also a pre-teen girl singer/acrobat who I liked (and think was in this same number, if I am remembering correctly). ---- NOTE: Tried to find out something more about this act, and couldn't find much, but did find - from The Film Daily (Nov. 30, 1936), in a blurb about this short says "Patsy Wynn and the Twelve Prom Girls do their song and dance specialty".
4. --- School for Swing (1937) - Okay, what the heck - I have zero memory of this and I was definitely there, in my seat, watching this. I don't remember falling asleep (though I was definitely pretty drowsy during some of the movies at this year's Cinecon). This description of this short justs draws a blank in my mind. From the Motion Picture Herald (Feb. 6, 1937):
- Sensation Seekers (1927) - The minute this silent film started the scenes started looking familiar to me. Scene after scene, like deja vu - I began to be pretty sure I had seen this movie before, and not that long ago either. I had not remembered that this was shown at Cinecon 48 and I even wrote a review of it, posted here: www.silentmoviecrazy.com/cinecon48-filmreviews.htm#sensationseekers . I am surprised they showed something at Cinecon that they ran so recently. Oh well, I enjoyed it again - and the print looked really, really gorgeous. Rating - * 8.5 to 9/10 stars *
- No More Women (1934) - B-movie. Pretty forgettable - I have forgotten it already. Rating - * 3.5 to 4/10 stars *
- The Brat (1931) - PLOT SUMMARY - At night court, a 17-year-old waif (Sally O'Neil) appears before the judge on charges of skipping out without paying for her meal at a local spaghetti joint (she insulted the chef's cooking, so he turned her in). Her excuse - she was starving, living on her own her whole life, and - literally - born in jail. This was not the first time she's skipped out without paying, it seems. A well-to-do novelist who is sitting alongside the judge doing research for his next writing project, is interested in her story. He pays her bail and invites her to come stay at his mansion in the country, where he wants to research her persona for use in his upcoming novel. Sassy, smart, tomboyish, wise yet naive - she then basically charms the whole household with her street urchin chatter and youthful ways. She's given the nickname "the Brat", which is meant to be endearing not insulting. She becomes "pals" with the author's younger brother (a sort of family black sheep who struggles with the booze), but falls in love with the author himself (though he's quite a bit older). Meanwhile, she is bought snazzy new clothes, served yummy chicken sammies, and allowed to live in the house for several months before this man reveals plans to kick her out at the end of his research. She reveals her love for him and he decides to kiss her several times - but without passion (it's for "research" purposes only). Eventually she realizes, on the strength of a kiss, that she actually loves the younger brother instead. They decide to marry and all's well that ends well.
REVIEW - This pre-code "coming-of-age" tale was directed by John Ford. I thought this was a really good film, boosted up by a well done, memorable performance by a wide-eyed Sally O'Neil as "the Brat". At close to twenty-three years old, Sally O'Neil comes across perfectly as a seventeen-year-old teenager. I really liked this one a lot and would love to see it again. Rating - * 9/10 stars *
- The Perfect Woman (1920) - PLOT SUMMARY - Silent film starring Constance Talmadge as Mary, a young woman who seeks a job as secretary for James Stanhope, a wealthy young man who is basically a woman-hater with a notion that women are "inferior". She has a fancy for him but doesn't know about his "quirk". He has set up a system for employing women at his business in which they must pass a test done by a so-called character expert who grades recruits solely on their physical appearance. Receiving low marks for "intelligence" (and two other things, "honesty" perhaps and ?) Stanhope refuses to hire her. So - she finds a quack book offering tips on the physical characteristics of intelligence, etc. and uses these ideas to transform herself into an ugly duckling, ready for hire. Using another name, she tries again and, indeed, she was originally seen as simply too pretty - 'cause with her hair pulled tightly back off her forehead, her chin jutted out, a pair of borrowed glasses, and a long frumpy dress with a high-neckline, she receives a score of 100! Stanhope sees her as "the perfect woman" now and she's immediately hired on as his new secretary. Seems this guy is heading an anti-anarchist group and wants her to work (and live) at his home. In order to keep in touch with her real self, Mary fixes her appearance (including hair, makeup, and dress) back to her normal style while in the privacy of her upstairs room. But when an anarchist's bomb is thrown at the house, she runs downstairs in fear and is caught in the act of her transformation to her old self. Stanhope is puzzled by her deception, asking "why the disguise?", and even accuses her of being one of the anarchists! She explains that she was unable to be hired with her true appearance, so was forced into making herself unattractive to get the job. He decides (with a little help from his mother, Mary's new champion) he will keep her on, but is now distracted by her good looks and can't get his work done. Weirdly, she is in love with this creep. She tells him of her love and they decide to marry - but now that that's done, he decides she is after him for his money (boy, she just can't win with this guy - I say, move on). So to show him that she is no gold-digger, she goes after a man who is 20 times richer than Stanhope, then rejects the proposal from this man. It works.
REVIEW - This film is quite a good one, boosted up by a very engaging performance by pretty, perky Constance Talmadge (another one of my favorites). She is really good, and amusing too, in her disguise as the efficient "plain jane". This light romantic-comedy is the sort that I often enjoy. Rating - * 8.5 to 9/10 stars *
- The Black Room (1935) - PLOT SUMMARY - Dark tale set in the 19th century, starring Boris Karloff as identical twin brothers, born under a local prophecy that one day the younger twin will murder the older one. Inside the village castle where they live is a "black room" where this murder is supposed to take place - it has been sealed up in hopes of preventing the prophecy from coming true. Years go by, the boys now grown, and the older brother is now Baron of the town. The younger brother has a deformity, born with a paralyzed arm which he carries tucked up against his chest. But - villagers have been disappearing (in particular, attractive young women) and suspicions surround the Baron, who some think is evil (they got that right!). When the well-liked, kindly younger brother returns to the village, the Baron has a plan in place to make himself "more popular" with the folks in town - he signs papers giving his brother his position as Baron, then murders him and assumes his identity, impersonating the brother right down to the paralyzed arm. Everyone loves the sensitive, gentle "new" Baron (all believing he is the younger brother - except one wise and loyal dog, who knows better). But this man/fiend has a way of murdering people and pushing them into the bottom of this deep pit inside, yes, the "black room". Seems he secretly found a way into this place years ago and likes to use it as a spot for disposing of bodies, the bottom of the creepy pit filled up with the "remains" of his years at work as a serial killer - ugh (see, told you this one was dark).
REVIEW - This gothic horror melodrama was very entertaining to watch. Quite atmospheric, with interesting cinematography. Boris Karloff is great here, in a dual role, portraying the kind and gentle "younger" twin and his villainous brother, the Baron -- he really comes across as two separate people. The use of mirrors in this is interesting, particularly in a scene where the character of the evil Baron signs the abdication paper, turning over the Baronship to his brother. Apparently not ambidextrous, he secretly uses the "fake deformed/paralyzed" right hand to sign and it is witnessed by one of the characters in a mirror (that character then gets bumped off, of course). I really liked this film a lot and would love to see it again (wonder if this turns up sometimes on TCM?). Some of the scenes in this film seemed vaguely familiar, like I had seen this once many, many years ago (but definitely didn't remember anything).
The evil twin in film : Hmm, this leaves me trying to remember all the movies I have seen involving a good/bad twin pair. Popping into my head is --- A Stolen Life (1946 - Bette Davis as twins chasing lighthouse hottie), The Other (1972), Dead Ringer (1964 - Bette Davis) and Dead Ringers (1988 - Jeremy Irons, twin in this is creepy gynecologist). Okay, I know there is way more. This is a storyline seen very often on daytime soaps - I can't tell you how many good/bad twin stories I've seen on these shows over the years (there's definitely several characters currently going on GH that either have or had an evil twin - "had" being that the evil twin usually ends up killed in some way, then the actor continues to carry on the role as the "good" twin). Rating - * 9 to 9.5/10 stars *
Movie Screenings Saturday September 2, 2017
I, unfortunately, missed the Cinecon screenings on Saturday morning to catch up on sleep. After staying until midnight to see "The Black Room", by the time I got back to my house via train - it was almost 1:30 am! I would have liked to have seen "The Texas Streak (1926)" and also a new Harold Lloyd documentary. Glad I saw "The Black Room" though.
(Rambling notes: I have to take two trains back - and both had delays while en route to home, including all people aboard the Gold Line being removed because of an "incident" on the track we were on, then being switched to a new train that was on the other track. Hmm, not so great).
Arrived in Hollywood in time for:
- No Children (1929) - Rather bizarre silent two-reeler. This was one of a series of comedy shorts based on the comic strip "Smitty". This is sort of a one gag (done multiple times) comedy, but interesting anyway. One of the weirdest parts about this is the wild hoop-skirted coat the younger boy wears. This short tells the tale of a family who can't get a hotel room because of a "no children allowed" policy. Mom and Dad tell their two boys to pretend they are ventriloquist dummies (see, told you this was bizarre) so they can acquire a room. Most of this seemed to involve the kids going up and down a laundry chute to different floors as a man is going up and down floors trying to figure out why these dummies keep appearing in different places (every time he comes across them though, they are in frozen poses as the dummies).
I have an interest in early comic strips, I am going to look into this series of shorts (as well as the comic strip) some more and see what I can learn. Looks like this strip started in 1922 and was still going even when I was a kid (I think I do remember this strip from the newspaper), running all the way until 1973.
1. Appears to be ten of these shorts based on this strip.
2. Name of younger boy is normally spelled "Herby" in the strip (the IMDb has this character as "Herbie" for the Smitty shorts).
Herby character as drawn in the Smitty comic strip (this panel from 1923, strip by Walter Berndt), the coat worn by this character in the film is significantly more "ballooned" out, but the look is very similar.
More exploring the newspaper archives about this coming. Rating - * 7.5 to 8/10 stars *
- Bell Boy 13 (1923) - PLOT SUMMARY - A nephew (Douglas MacLean) works for his uncle at his bond company and wants Uncle to consent to his marrying the girl he loves, an actress. Uncle refuses (though has never even met the girl), so the nephew arranges with the actress to meet her at the train station later that day, so they can secretly elope. Unfortunately, the uncle overhears his phone conversation and decides to put the kibosh on the meeting. He invites over the "Fish family" which includes a very plain young woman who dreams of marriage and perhaps has her eye on our youthful hero. She plays piano and sings a song about a "birdie", while he must sit and suffer through it. Coming up with a plan to make his escape from the house - he fakes a fire upstairs, then gets "rescued" by jumping out the window into a fireman's net. But when he finally gets to the station to meet his pretty girlfriend, she has changed her mind and is no longer willing to marry without getting the uncle's consent. Next thing you know, he's been fired from his job and disinherited by Uncle. The girlfriend tells him that every young man must "have a job". So - he gets himself hired to work as a bellboy at a local big hotel. When Uncle comes to stay at the hotel (the reasons why he is staying there has escaped my memory), he is assigned "room 666". Nephew carries the man's bags while walking to the room behind him, so never realizes that he is serving his own uncle. Then he mistakenly puts Uncle into "room 667", which happens to be a room where the actress girlfriend is staying! (There is also an attempt, at one point to put Uncle in room 999, which results in the door being opened up on a woman in a state of undress - of course). Uncle ends up befriending the girlfriend and suggests to his nephew that he should marry a woman like her and not that "actress". Now the truth is revealed and our fellow gets the desired "consent". Success!
REVIEW - Enjoyable silent romantic-comedy, I liked this but think it could have benefited by having a different actor in the lead role. I found Douglas MacLean rather "bland". I was definitely feeling pretty drowsy/exhausted during this one, and there was lots going on in this sort of screwball plot that got sort of blurred in my mind, but I did like this okay (would like a chance to see again, if this was ever put on DVD). Rating - * 7.5/10 stars *
- The Accusing Finger (1936) - PLOT SUMMARY - In which an assistant District Attorney (Paul Kelly) gets accused of murdering his soon-to-be ex- wife after a thief kills her during an attempted jewel robbery, the D.A. picking up the gun and shooting at the man as he escapes into the night (and the maid popping into the room just in time to see him holding the weapon). The accusations against him are also based around the fact that he has been seen around town fighting with his estranged wife while out cavorting with his pretty secretary (his new "girlfriend") at some nightclub. A court trial leads to the D.A. getting sent to the "big house" on death row, where he had a hand in the convictions of many of the current inmates. All the inmates hold a grudge against him, so he goes in a hated man - but there is one young man (who we actually see on trial and getting convicted in the beginning scene of this film) who should hate him, but doesn't. They become rather friendly with each other as both face a horrible future - death in the electric chair. While the men sweat it out in prison (the fear of that chair always hanging over them) the secretary girlfriend (Marsha Hunt) hooks up with an investigator to help find the jewel thief/real killer. And they better move fast, 'cause this guy is about to get zapped for a crime he didn't commit!
REVIEW - Fast-paced crime drama that I thought was quite good. Especially good here is a very young Robert Cummings playing the young man who faces dying in the electric chair. Tensions mount in scenes that show the chair being "tested" the days before each upcoming execution. Actress Marsha Hunt, close to 100 years old, was in the audience for the screening of this film. Rating - * 8.5/10 stars *
- The Rat's Knuckles (1925) : Charley Chase - PLOT SUMMARY - Silent comedy one-reeler starring Charley Chase as a man who has invented a "better mouse trap" (more humane). He visits his girlfriend (Martha Sleeper), waitress at a diner counter, and they dream of being rich after he sells his fantastic invention (and the dream is visualized, with the pair wearing fancy dress in front of a huge mansion - complete with servants and a giant mouse statue in front - then seen driving about town and even giving nods to passerby Prince Edward). But when Charley tries to sell his mouse trap to a man who purchases inventions, the man won't watch his demonstration and leaves, placing up an "out to lunch" sign. Charley heads to the river to drown his sorrows, but an entrepreneur is there who says he might possibly buy his invention and asks Charley to show him how it works. He does - and the man pushes him into the river! SPOILER: Seems the great invention features a live mouse in a tiny box, a piece of cheese on a string, and a "Jack in the Box" that is activated when the mouse is let out and goes after the cheese. The mouse then darts back into his little box out of "shame". Okey dokey.
REVIEW - This short featured a very, very clear print with lots of contrast. It actually looked like it was shot yesterday. I thought this was amusing and quite entertaining, a quirky little short that is really rather fun. Okay, I did feel sorry for the poor little mousie forced to live in such a tiny box in this guy's pocket - hope no animal was harmed in the making of this (or was the little guy even real?). I am a fan of Charley Chase (as well as all Hal Roach Studios shorts), so was happy to see this. Rating - * 8/10 stars *
- Baby Brother (1927) : Our Gang - PLOT SUMMARY - Our Gang comedy short. In which rich boy Joe Cobb has a mother who is more interested in her bridge party than her son and his feelings. She boots him out and the maid offers to take him to "her neighborhood" where there are tons of little boys for him to play with. Meeting up with the boys of the gang, Joe finds that all of them have a baby brother except him. The boys encourage Joe to "ask his mother" for a baby brother - and Joe does, right in front of her bridge party society ladies. He even tells Mama that it won't be any trouble for her 'cause he'll keep the baby in the basement. Yikes - the mother is totally embarassed and looks at Joe with absolute loathing. Poor Joe. Well, Farina sees an opportunity to make some money and looks for a baby to sell to Joe for 3 bucks. He ends up running off with a neighbor woman's baby to sell to Joe, the baby is black - so, he paints the baby's face with white shoe polish and Joe bites (asking something like "what makes him so pale?"). Now we get into a business the gang has set up in a local barn - featuring an assembly line baby wash, dry, and powder system. But when Joe's new baby ends up on the assembly line, the water washes off that white paint and Joe wants his money back - that is until the baby calls him "Papa" and Joe says "He recognized me - I'll keep him!".
REVIEW - This is a well done, cute short - not one of the very best from the Our Gang silents, but entertaining to watch. I have actually seen this one quite a few times before, but never with such a nice print on such a huge screen. Nice! This particular short doesn't have as many outdoor street scenes as some of the other Our Gang's from the silent era (which are often chock full of neat street scenes). This included a few shots of the kids on Motor Ave. in Palms (in L.A., near Culver City), a vacant lot area off of the same street, and a sidewalk and outside entrance to Joe's mansion (don't know the location of this). The baby assembly line scenes show some really miserable looking babies being moved along via conveyor belt, dipped into water as they sit in buckets, and then being sat above a flame to dry. The kids used here were obviously not real happy (and don't look happy until they end up at the end of the process, inside a big padded playpen together). One of the babies was played by Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins in his first Our Gang film. He plays the baby brother of Jay R. Smith, and Wheezer appears to have fake freckles added to his face so that he looks related to Jay R. (I don't recall Wheezer being particularly freckled like this in his later films, so that's why I think the freckles were "drawn" on). I am a giant fan of Our Gang, particularly the silents. Would love to see these screened more often at Cinecon (this was the first one shown is years). Rating - * 8/10 stars *
- The Chimp (1932) : Laurel and Hardy - PLOT SUMMARY - Comedy short in which Stan and Ollie work for a travelling circus, "help" with the cannon act, and end up collapsing the big-top tent. The failing circus must close, and the owner decides to divvy up all the circus props and property (including animals) in order to pay wages owed. Drawing names of each item from a hat to divide up the goods, Stan ends up "winning" the flea circus - and Ollie wins Ethel, the dancing chimp. The boys end up getting a room and sneaking Ethel in (no monkeys allowed). The hotel owner is jealous over the antics of his wife, who he's worried might be "chasing around" again - her name also happens to be Ethel. So, of course, the boys have to bed down in the same bed after the fleas end up getting loose in one of the room's twin beds - and the owner overhears them telling Ethel to "come to bed" and thinks his wife is in their room! Okay, we could all see that coming. (That chimp also ends up in the bed with Ollie, at one point - and, of course, he thinks it's Stan).
REVIEW - Pretty amusing. I love Laurel and Hardy and have seen this one (and all their movies) a number of times before. But - it's been awhile and this was shown with a nice, clear print on the big screen. The "chimp" was your typical man-in-a-monkey-suit you always see in old comedies. This particular chimp sports a tutu. The short includes a couple of regular comics from Hal Roach Studios including Billy Gilbert as the hotel owner and Jimmy Finlayson (love him!) as circus ringmaster. Rating - * 8/10 stars *
- Hare Ribbin' (1944) - Bugs Bunny Technicolor cartoon, screened with an original nitrate print. This was interesting to see and looked very good - and I did remember this one. It's a bit surreal, and most of the action in this takes place underwater - I definitely remembered the "rabbit sandwich" scene. Though I was devoted to Underdog (and Casper) all those years ago, I definitely watched a lot of Bugs Bunny cartoons when I was a kid. I haven't watched these much at all over the last (too many to name) years though - yet, I saw these SO many times when I was a youngster that whenever I see a Bugs cartoon (or even a clip) now, I still remember it. Apparently, the cartoon screened at Cinecon had a different, more violent, ending than what was altered into something slightly more tame for TV years later.
- Untamed (1940) - PLOT SUMMARY - In which Ray Milland plays a big city surgeon who heads to the wildnerness with a couple of buddies on a hunting trip and ends up getting mauled by a huge bear. Unlike the famous and gruesome "bear scene" with DiCaprio in "The Revenant", he only ends up with a broken leg (and no claw marks or ripped clothing to be seen anywhere!). Forced to stay in a nearby small mountain village for several months to recover, he soon befriends a young beauty (Patricia Morison) who lives unhappily in this isolated town with her husband, yet yearns to return to life in the big city. She did not marry for love, it seems, and, well, this new man in town is handsome and a doctor. They are soon in love, of course (but this guy is an upright fellow, so no funny business - well, there is that kiss they soon can't resist). When the aging local doctor becomes ill in the middle of performing an emergency surgery, our Doc takes over - the local doctor ends up dying and our man decides to stay in town and become their new doctor. He actually really likes the peace and beauty of this wooded retreat even though this place is filled with a bunch of small town busybodies, spreading gossip about the doctor and his relationship with the girl. A finale involving a gigantic blizzard and a contagious fever hitting the town rounds things out as our hero and heroine set out into the woods during the blizzard to bring back some much needed medicine before the fever becomes an epidemic and devastates the town.
REVIEW - This Technicolor film was screened on an original nitrate print and looked very, very nice. The movie itself is quite entertaining and I am definitely a fan of good-looker Ray Milland! Actress Patricia Morison, now 102 years old, appeared in person for a Q&A after the screening and said that the blizzard was created inside an ice house in Los Angeles, it was quite cold inside during the filming of this, and that when they were done each day she was happy to step outside into the 100 degree heat. Well, they certainly did a good job creating this blizzard 'cause it looked real to me. Rating - * 8.5/10 stars *
Movie Screenings Sunday September 3, 2017
Unfortunately, I missed this morning's screenings based on sleep again. Missed "Anything Goes" (1936) (would have liked to have seen this) and --- a big disappointment for me was missing "Captain Blood" (1924) -- (just about as disappointing as when I had to miss "Golf Widows" at a Cinecon years ago - and I "love love" handsome Harrison Ford the Original. I still haven't seen that movie).
(More rambling notes: House like a "hothouse" all night, awake all night, couldn't get to sleep until nearly 7 am, I must be getting very old - I could not get up! Plus I was worried about being too sleepy later to enjoy "Polly Redhead" if I was on no sleep).
- North to the Klondike (1942) - PLOT SUMMARY - Adventure tale in which beefy Brod Crawford arrives to the rugged wilds of the north, where homesteaders are setting up a town. He's a mine inspector, summoned to town by a "bad man" (Lon Chaney Jr.) who wants a mine he has found, well, inspected. But he is told that a mistake has been made and it would be best for him to leave town immediately (seems the bad man and his entourage have found out a homesteader has claimed the land where the mine is located). Well, Brod is immediately suspicious of the sudden dismissal and decides to stay on and poke around. So now these guys want to find a way to get rid of the homesteaders and get ahold of the mine - they decide to set fire to the supply boat, leaving all the townsfolk without food and other needed supplies for the entire snowbound winter (with hopes that they will all give up their claims and leave). Instead, these folks send a man to fetch new supplies before the snow arrives. And, no surprise, this guy ends up being shot to death - so the town Doc is, in secret, sent to retrieve the supplies. Meanwhile, the owner of the land where the mine is located is also murdered (yeah, these are pretty bad guys we're dealing with). The Broderick Crawford character continues to work the land though, taking off where the murdered man left off in building a house. And the memory fades (mine that is). Seems to me there was a blonde in the mix here (sister to the homesteader who owns the land with the mine) and she's interested in that new beefy and rugged "manly man" in town (Crawford, that is).
REVIEW - This B-movie was just so-so. Now, is it just me, or do Broderick Crawford and Lon Chaney Jr. look rather alike?! I could barely tell one guy from the next in this. Perhaps I'm not so good at telling people apart that look similar, but one of my movie casting pet peeves is: don't cast actors who look the same (unless they are meant to be brothers or something) - makes the plot hard to follow with confusion over which man is which. Rating - * 6/10 stars *
- La Conga Nights (1940) - PLOT SUMMARY - B-comedy/musical about a cabbie/wannabe dancer (Dennis O'Keefe) who meets a pretty gal/ wannabee singer (Constance Moore) with no fare and invites her to live at the boarding house where he rooms, a lively spot filled with mostly theatrical types who like to perform for each other every evening. This house is run by a kindly old woman who cares more about song and friends than money. She doesn't demand rent payment, just allows her boarders to pay "when they can". She even runs an odd system to pay her bills, where the next bill that is hanging in a line-up of bills (literally) is the next one paid when money comes in. Unfortunately, this has put her way behind in her tenant rent agreement with the property owner. An eviction notice is put up. The owner, Dibble (Hugh Herbert), is a wealthy man with four domineering sisters (played by Herbert, in drag) and an ear for music (which doesn't please the sisters!). He's also rather a dizzy goofball with a mind of his own. Arriving at the property he owns, he hears some of the boarders rehearsing a song - and - well, he really, really loves music. So, he asks to rent a room -- and he's got cash on hand! He also insists on constant music to be performed (and they happily oblige). Nobody is aware of the fact that he is rich and that he owns the property. With three days left before they all have to vacate the premises, the gang decides to turn the boarding house into a nightclub called "Club Conga" to raise money. Lots of songs and dances make the place a hit. Dibble finds out they are being evicted (seems his secretary carried out the eviction on his "behalf", without his knowledge) he reveals who he is and stops the eviction. The original cabbie and girl have, of course, now become a couple (they had, in an earlier scene, performed a dance number à la "Fred and Ginger" in a club where they both fell on something that Dibble had shot onto the floor, ruining their chances for a career - or so they thought).
REVIEW - This sort of silly, but fun romp featured several well done musical numbers including a sort of Latin jitterbug and, of course, a Conga line in the big finale. Lots of movies from around the same time period this film was released, 1940, seemed to feature Conga numbers as this was quite a big fad of that year. (The large Conga dance number in Mickey and Judy's "Strike Up the Band" comes to mind, but I have seen other films from that time that feature this too). The cross-dressing scenes of the sisters is quite amusing, I wish there had been a bit more of these characters in the film. In addition to dressing up as the different sisters, Hugh Herbert also cross dresses as their mother and is seen as a portrait of their father on the wall (I think I remember it moving, like the pictures in the "Haunted Mansion" at Disneyland). A B-movie, but pretty good. Rating - * 7/10 stars *
- Riders of the Santa Fe (1944) - PLOT SUMMARY - Western involving a town goofball named Bullseye who has just been made mayor, a newly arrived marshall who doesn't carry a gun, a bad man claiming questionable water rights, and one of those brother/sister pairs often seen in old westerns. The brother is a cattleman who wants to water his herd but the bad man wants to charge him a dollar a head - and he won't pay. At one point, Bullseye disguises himself as a woman to try and steal the land maps showing where the real boundaries to the water rights are. And well - this guy is not exactly "pretty" in his disguise - yet, of course, the fellow he is trying to trick asks if he can "step out with her". Yikes.
REVIEW - This B-Western was just so-so. Rather average, with an easily forgettable plotline. I did find the cross-dressing scene rather amusing - I don't think I have ever seen a film in which a man disguises himself as a woman and there isn't at least one or two male characters in the storyline that are attracted to him/her (no matter how hideous and/or masculine he looks in his disguise). They also never seem to see that this cross-dressed male is NOT a woman. Rating - * 5/10 stars *
- Spring Tonic (1935) - PLOT SUMMARY - Screwball farce starring Clair Trevor as a runaway bride (yes, that same old plot) who seeks adventure and recruits her scatterbrained maid (Zasu Pitts) to accompany her on the road to finding it. They end up at this mountain lodge, dark and deserted, and run by a man who is not so keen on renting a room to them (but does anyway). Chasing after her for a story is a gung-ho reporter, played by Jack Haley. Meanwhile, at a nearby travelling circus, a Latin lover with an eye for the ladies has been hitting on most of the pretty young women who work at the circus - much to the anger of his wife, the tiger tamer. Desiring to get rid of his wife for several hours (to give himself free time to seduce one of these young women), he releases her tiger. Now the wife is off into the wild to find the tiger (luckily, this tiger is tame so no one is actually in any danger). There is lots of shooting going on near the mountain lodge as hunters are trying to shoot this tiger, while the lady tiger tamer is going about trying to find and bring the animal back to her "little cage" at the circus. The Latin cad encounters our runaway bride somewhere in all this, and seduces her by serenading outside her lodge window. It works, and she plans to romance - and even marry - this man. Meanwhile, the jilted fiance (Lew Ayres) has been trying to find his bride - and when he does, he tries to win her back. In the end, he does - and basically tells her that he is the "man" and he will do all her thinking for her in future. That he owns her and she simply needs to obey. Wow - a real prize she's getting there.
REVIEW - This movie was fairly good, and I especially liked ZaSu Pitts in this (okay, I like her in everything). I see this film as a sort of cross between two of my fave screwball comedies of the 30s, the earlier "It Happened One Night (1934)" (runaway bride, newspaper man chasing after her, etc.) and the later "Bringing Up Baby (1938)" (the tame leopard = tame tiger). Rating - * 7.5 to 8/10 stars *
- Polly Redhead (1917) - PLOT SUMMARY - Poor waif Polly is a red-headed 12-year old sent to sub for her sick Aunt as maid for a wealthy young-ish man whose main concern is taking on someone who can grill his bacon to perfection. Polly fits the bill, he's happy with the all-important breakfast bacon and tells her that she looks like an angel (and she responds, very "Anne"-like, that "an angel never has red hair"). He likes to call her "Pollyooly". Polly has brought along her cute little brother, a toddler oddly known as "The Lump". When she receives word that her Auntie has died, Polly is concerned over losing her position and wants to protect The Lump from ending up in the poorhouse - so, she doesn't tell her employer. Several weeks go by and an old hag of a scullery maid finds out the Aunt has died and Polly has lied about it. The woman tattles and Polly is dismissed for lying. But the haggish maid is caught drinking up the whiskey of the wealthy man's father - and he's really mad, not just about the whiskey but even more that she was "watering" it down to hide the deed (and no one gets away with watering his whiskey). She's fired and Polly is restored to her job (I think) and next thing you know, a houseguest has arrived who immediately spots our Polly as a total doppelganger for her niece "Marion", right down to the red hair. There is some sort of tale of a divorce where the father insisted on keeping Marion and the mother hardly sees her. So Polly is recruited to pose as Marion at the father's house, while the "real" Marion spends time with her mother. The only person to see through this deception is a 12-year old boy who thinks this new Marion is "prettier and nicer" and recognizes right away that she isn't actually Marion. This all ends up with a kiss between the two kids, and one between the man and lady houseguest. And I can't remember exactly how this came out for Marion and parents (but I think it worked out for them too).
REVIEW - I thought this was a cute film, very reminiscent of the plots of Mary Pickford films being done at this time. I actually thought near the beginning that this film would end up having the main man romance young Polly (what with the nicknames and the compliments) as she gets a few years older (which often happens in Mary Pickford films), but this didn't happen. Ella Hall, the actress who plays Polly, had an unusual looking face, not really pretty, but interesting - with big blue eyes that have lots of expression and rather wild hair. A great face for the silent screen - I liked her quite a bit. The little fellow who plays "The Lump" looked to me like a sort of cross between Prince George and Spanky. Rating - * 8.5to 9/10 stars *
Polly Redhead 1917 newspaper advertisement. Um - sort of sad for the little "baldheaded" youngster who doesn't get his free ticket.
Movie Screenings Monday September 4, 2017
- Woman-Wise (1937) - PLOT SUMMARY - About a sports editor, Tracey Browne (Michael Whalen), who sidelines assisting boys with their sports at a local boys club and gets involved in protecting an aging (all of forty-plus) has-been boxer who is going to attempt a comeback. He feels that this boxer is being used for profit by some greedy fight promoters and writes about this abuse in his news column. He offers to box this guy himself, to prove that this man is too old to be fighting. He does it - and wins. The feisty and beautiful grown daughter (Rochelle Hudson) of the fighter is plenty mad at Browne because her down-and-out dad needed this fight for the money. She tells Browne that dad wasn't "in condition" yet and would have had a chance to win - now he was finished for good. She also clobbers Browne with a strong right-hook of her own. Okay, next thing I remember about this film is she is hired by Browne to tag along after a young, drunken reporter to keep him on the job (and away from the booze). It works 'cause she's very pretty and the fellow falls for her, of course.
REVIEW - Rather a B-movie, but fairly good - though I must say, I am having a hard time remembering the plot and I just saw this yesterday. (NOTE: I thought the hotel clerk, in bit scene, played by actor George Chandler looked - and sounded - like an exact doppelganger to actor Jackie Earle Haley.) Rating - * 6.5 to 7/10 stars *
- Salvation Hunters (1925) - PLOT SUMMARY - The story of three down-and-out people who struggle with life as they seem to live outside society, on the harbor docks where mud is constantly being scooped by a huge dredger. "The Boy" (George K. Arthur) feels that the world is composed of "people of the mud" and "people of the sun" and he, in his mind, places himself somewhere between the two as he sadly mopes around in some despair (but also retains "hope"). There is also the Girl (Georgia Hale), bitter and hopeless and hardened to the world around her, and the orphaned child, a little boy who has no one and is beaten by a man who works on the dredge. The Boy and Girl come to the child's rescue and become sort of "parents" to this youngster, as the three sit around all day next to each other - quiet and staring into space, basically. One day they leave, exchanging mud for stone, as they head for the gritty big city. There they are approached by two con men who offer them a rather seedy room to stay in, where the three continue to sit on an old coach - still quiet and staring and waiting, perhaps with some hope. The Boy tries to find a job, while his companions wait. The child is hungry, really hungry - and with no job to be found by The Boy - The Girl decides to take the low road of prostitution (which appears to be what the bad men were after all along). She lights a match, blows it out, then darkens her eyebrows with the soot off the match. With the help of a prostitute who lives in another room in the house, she puts dark lipstick on her lips and is ready to sell her body for food. But she is unable to go through with it, and the "bad man" decides to use "love" to get her to do what he wants, so invites her and her companions to accompany the whole gang on a picnic in the country. Well, one of these bad guys starts beating up on that poor child again and The Boy steps in to protect him, giving the "beater" a beating, basically. The three head off together into the sun, now unafraid of life and their future.
REVIEW - Terrific. This is a very unusual and interesting silent film, directed by Josef von Sternberg. Slow-moving and interesting visually - also rather thought-provoking. I tend to really like odd (even weird), visual films such as this - to me it even sort of had the feel of an Ingmar Bergman film, with it's visual style and very slow pace. I could see that this movie might not be for everyone, but I definitely liked this one a lot. By the way, this would be the silent film I would recommend to "NOT" show to that newbie looking to view his/her first silent movie (stick with Harold Lloyd). Rating - * 9.5 to 10/10 stars *
- Power of the Press (1943) - Movie about "fake news", the term "fake news" actually said more than once in this film. I failed to get the plot of this written up, and now it has faded. I thought this was just "okay", and was worth seeing (though definitely was not "feeling the love" for this along with most of the audience). Note: I quite like the actor Lee Tracy, but he wasn't in this as much as I would have liked. Often seen in old movies character actor Guy Kibbee takes a lead role in this, and does it well. Rating - * 7.5 to 8/10 stars *
- The President Vanishes (1934) - I found this film to be very boring and muddled, and had a hard time focusing on the plot. Whatever the plot was, that is -- it's a case of "The Plot Vanishes", from my mind at least, as I can't remember much about this at all (other than that while watching it, I wasn't enjoying it). Disappointing (and this was one I had been looking forward to). Sad. Rating - * 4.5/10 stars *
- When Dawn Came (1920) - PLOT SUMMARY - A brilliant surgeon who works in the slums, uses his skills to help the poor down-and-out locals with needed surgeries including curing a little boy's blindness. A young society lady accidentally hits a little girl with her car - and then, in a brilliant bit of surgical skill, our doctor comes up with a surgery to help the crippled little girl walk again. His prowess and inventive new technique makes the newspapers. This lady tells him that his skills are being wasted working for poor people and she recruits a surgeon friend to offer to partner with him at his offices in the big city. Our man decides to do it, moves his practice, and begins to treat the new locals - a bunch of rich snobs. Falling in love with the society gal, he has a large bouquet of flowers to offer her - but happens to overhear her and the other doctor making fun of him behind his back as they laugh over the notion that he seems to think he can fit into "their world" (high society). Our man loses it and starts to choke her - she falls to the ground and he angrily (very angrily - and violently) throws the bouquet on her face. Feeling scorned by a woman, he's now disenchanted with his chosen path and he takes to drink -- leading to shaky hands and the loss of his skills. Soon the partnership is dissolved and he leaves, ending up at the mission in San Juan Capistrano where an old friend, a priest from his early years in an orphanage, now lives. At the mission, there lives a beautiful young blind girl (Colleen Moore), who quietly wanders the garden grounds each day. He takes an interest in her and they become friends. She begins to fall in love with him and wishes she could see what he looked like. SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS AHEAD : Now our surgeon makes an effort to get himself back into condition and recover his skills so that he can perform a surgery that he "knows" will cure her blindness. He does a successful operation. In her room, she pulls the bandages off her eyes and - yay - she can see. He comes into the room and when she sees him, the camera zooms close into her face as her eyes look at him with what I can only describe as horror. "The end".
REVIEW --- SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS AHEAD : Okay, the ending sort of left me a bit confused. Did her expression mean she was scared because she had never seen a human being before? Or did this just mean she was initially startled, but they would eventually match up and become a couple. Or did I totally misinterpret this and misread the expression on her face? Was this the original intent of this film - or was a piece missing from the end? (I don't know. But whatever the ending was supposed to be, I kind of like it better that she could be horrified by him - rather than the usual happy ending!). Quite interesting, anyway. Colleen Moore does a terrific job in her performance as a blind girl. Her movements, and her innocent facial expressions perfectly portraying a girl who lives life in a quiet, isolated world all her own. Later part of this movie was filmed on-location in San Juan Capistrano, California.
Note: Interesting to see the Mission San Juan Capistrano circa 1920 in this. Makes me want to get on that Amtrak and have a nice day trip over there to see the mission again, which is quite interesting (followed by a couple of drinks at that rather cool dive bar, the Swallows Inn). Rating - * 9/10 stars *
- The Texas Rangers (1936) - Oops, missed writing something up on this one. A western to close out Cinecon - my memories are pretty hazy about this movie. It seemed pretty average and overly long. Well, I was awfully tired --- and already thinking about that Martini (or two) coming my way when I got home. Rating - * 5/10 stars *
Running Themes --- I noticed quite a few running themes and things that kept repeating in movie after movie at this year's Cinecon. Here's a few I remember:
1. Drinking a glass of buttermilk -- Okay, I think I saw four different movies at Cinecon 53 in which someone drinks a glass of milk. Two of those films the word "buttermilk" was definitely mentioned. (Blank now on which movies these scenes were in.)
2. Alcohol plays a part in the plot -- a) Polly Redhead: the old scullery maid drinks several shots of whiskey out of her bosses carafe, then waters it down to make it look like none is missing. b) When Dawn Came: the surgeon loses his skills to whiskey and ends up with shaky hands, ruining his career. c) Woman-Wise: the female lead character must try to keep a young reporter on the job and off the barstools. d) Sensation Seekers: main character of Egypt gets caught in a "booze raid". e) Woman Chases Man: Joel McCrea is a "one drink only" man and Miriam Hopkins attempts to get him drunk so he'll invest in their idea, pouring him this huge glass of champagne to "celebrate her birthday". f) Shark Monroe: brother/sister duo are out of funds 'cause the brother has spent it all on booze. g) The Brat: the younger brother of the novelist character is seen coming home drunk.
(I think there may have been a few other films too - plus, I didn't see everything shown this year, so maybe even more!)
3. Talking out of side of the mouth -- Two movies: In Woman Chases Man, Miriam Hopkins talks out of the side of her mouth to demonstrate that that is the way her family grew up talking. Her sister talks out of the side of her mouth in a scene, as well. Then, surprisingly, a similar scene pops up when one of the little boys in the short No Children talked out of the side of his mouth in one scene.
4. Our Gang kids -- An "Our Gang" silent Baby Brother was screened, and in addition to that there was Our Ganger Donald Haines in the short No Children (and was also in I'll Never Tell), Darryl Hickman in Untamed (not a regular in Our Gang, but did appear as a sort of "guest star" in a late Our Gang episode "Going to Press").
5. Cross-dressing -- Featured big-time in La Conga Nights and also in a quite amusing scene in the movie Riders of the Santa Fe.
6. Brother/Sister Duo -- Brother character fits into a piece of conflict in the storyline, while the sister character plays a "love interest" for the main/lead male character. Seen in Shark Monroe, North to the Klondike, and also Riders of the Santa Fe.
7. Fast-cut courtroom witness cross-examination -- Two scenes like this that looked very similar to each other were seen in "The Black Room" and also in "The Accusing Finger". Pretty strange that two movies both with this rather unusual editing style to showcase people being cross-examined on a witness stand during a trial were shown one day apart at the same Cinecon.
My CINECON 53 RANDOM THOUGHTS, NOTES, and OTHER "STUFF":
1. This year's Cinecon was, I believe, the hottest weather-wise that I have been to. Absolutely brutal heat for most of the five days (and it had already been seriously hot for days before Cinecon started, so I was getting really worn out from lack of sleep because of the heat - and, yes, I do sleep with a fan on me, but it was just too hot to help).
2. It rained two different times at Cinecon 53. It almost never rains at this time of year in L.A., so that was pretty unusual. (Okay, there is that time a few years ago that there was a huge downpour as I was arriving at the Noho train station and I, yes, slipped in the mud -- then arrived in Hollywood - train ride is only about 8 minutes - for the opening night of Cinecon and it was bright sun and close to cloudless! An evening of movies with mud on my pants.)
3. Overlapping screenings returned to Cinecon : years ago I remember there was two screenings going on at once (I particularly recall this when Cinecon was held at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood and they showed movies both in the "Blossom Room" and also the "Cinegrill"). I am not sure I like this. I had to miss the animation program they had (and I really love early animation) to see the Hal Roach shorts (screened at the same time in the main theater) 'cause Hal Roach Studios stuff is "my thing" (couldn't miss seeing an "Our Gang" on the big screen). The animation program showed a Felix - and how much do I love Felix the Cat?! Sad I missed it. One of my earliest cats (when I was just a wee tot) was named Felix. I still particularly love black and white cats.
4. The Cinecon 53 program booklet was nicer this year - best part: easy to read schedule with nice big, dark print that I could read, even in the darkened theater.
5. I thought this Cinecon screened too many B-movies and felt like I got "short-changed" on the silents (let's put it this way: if Cinecon changed into showing entirely silent movies and nothing else, I would attend every year -- if they eliminated the silents, I would have to really consider what was being shown before deciding if I wanted to attend or not).
6. This year, no wait ever for ladies room. Men's room usual long line between movies (I always hear at least one person talking about this phenomenon when I am in the bathroom).
7. First year I rode the Gold Line/Red Line every single time to get to Cinecon. No Noho/Valley route this year - and I would really not want to drive into Hollywood (ugh).
8. Was not harassed on Hollywood Blvd as much as usual by all those tour operators asking if I "wanna take a tour?" (maybe the heat kept them quieter). There did seem to be more of the Scientologist people trying to push their program on passersby though.
I welcome any questions or comments on this review, email me at:
10 = Absolutely Fabulous/Superb
9 = Really Good/Excellent
8 = Good
7 = Fairly Good/Decent
6 = So-so, some flaws
5 = Mediocre
4 = Not that good, many flaws
3 = Poor
2 = Very Poor/Stinker
1 = One of the worst BOMBS ever filmed