Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Palm Beach Story Is Quite The Story

THE PALM BEACH STORY

Released: November 7, 1942
Directed: Preston Sturges
Starring: Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, Mary Astor, Rudy Vallee

After a fairly blissful marriage, Gerry Jeffers (Claudette Colbert), decides to divorce her husband, Tom (Joel McCrea). She believes she can help him financially if she could divorce him and marry a millionaire. Tom refuses to let her go, so Gerry runs away with nothing but her charms and beauty to help her. She manages to convince a group of millionaires to buy her a train ticket. Then, when she loses her clothes and ticket, another man by the name of J.D. Hackensacker III (Rudy Vallee) offers to buy her clothes. Gerry discovers he is a millionaire and gladly clings to him. Tom tracks Gerry down and when she introduces him as her brother, things get complicated.
THE PALM BEACH STORY is another great Sturges film. The beginning is very confusing and it never really makes sense. Not even at the end. But once you get past that, the story is brilliant. The movie pokes fun at married couples, millionaires, and even divorce. It is a lot of fun. Joel McCrea is really at his best in this picture. I think this is where I fell in love with him. Claudette Colbert is always fantastic in the screwball role and Rudy Vallee and Mary Astor are great supporting players. The Weinie King is adorable and I love him so much. A really great film. Honest.

You're not being rude, dear, you're just being yourself,
LW


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

But Darling, I Love You Again

I LOVE YOU AGAIN

Released: August 9, 1940
Directed: W.S. Van Dyke
Starring: William Powell, Myrna Loy

Larry Wilson (William Powell) is an uptight and boring businessman from Habersville. In an attempt to rescue the drunken 'Doc' Ryan (Frank McHugh) after he falls over board, Larry gets hit on the head by an oar. When he comes to he can't recall the last nine years. In fact, he's no longer Larry, but a conman named George Carey. He's had amnesia for  nine years. He's absolutely disgusted by his stuffy alter ego and decides to book it. But George notices Larry's bank book and decides to pull a quick con, with Doc Ryan by his side. Things don't go according to plan, however, as he discovers that the money belongs to the community chest and Larry owes the bank money. George is not dismayed and attempts to con the town. Things are complicated when George falls for Larry's wife, Kay (Myrna Loy), who's divorcing him! George has to con the town and make Kay fall in love with him, again.
This is a highly amusing picture. I LOVE YOU AGAIN is just so much fun. A Powell/Loy film will always be lots of fun and wonderfully funny. The two just have a great chemistry and are so perfect together. The story is a bit unrealistic, but that's the point of these screwball comedies. It is really a wonderful film. Watch it!

I'll never stuff another squirrel as long as I live,
LW

Friday, November 18, 2011

What's Life Without Love

WITHOUT LOVE

Released: March 22, 1945
Directed: Harold S. Bucquet
Starring: Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Lucille Ball

Pat Jamieson (Spencer Tracy) is a government scientist working on a top secret oxygen mask for the war. He comes to D.C but is unable to find a place to stay. A drunken Quentin Ladd (Keenan Wynn) shares Pat's taxi and invites him to stay at his cousin Jaime's house. Pat agrees and the next morning meets cousin Jaime Rowan (Katharine Hepburn), a widow. Jaime thinks Pat is the new caretaker and Pat plays along. When she discovers who he is, she obligingly allows him to stay. The two have very different views on love. Pat has had all the worst of it, Jaime all the best. The two become quick friends and Jaime eventually asks Pat to marry her on the condition of a loveless marriage. He agrees and she becomes his assistant. They're in a loveless marriage, but will it last?
WITHOUT LOVE is a very nice film but the script isn't the greatest. The scene at the piano is very confusing. It's like the writer needed to put in a speech but didn't know how to go about it. Lucille Ball plays Jaime's friend and real estate agent Kitty Trimble. Keenan Wynn is very funny as Quentin Ladd. He has a tendency to be both a dork and a suave guy all at the same time. Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn are just lovely. I adore the films they've done together. They just have it.

In a very little while,
LW

Sunday, November 13, 2011

You Said What! No Beer?

WHAT! NO BEER?

Released: February 10, 1933
Directed: Edward Sedgwick
Starring: Buster Keaton

Elmer J. Butts (Buster Keaton), a taxidermist,  is hopelessly in love with Hortense (Phyllis Barry), a gangster's moll. He wants to obtain a million dollars so he could afford to buy her a rolls royce. Jimmy Potts (Jimmy Durante), Elmer's pal, is obsessed with repealing prohibition and convinces Elmer to vote 'wet' at the upcoming election. Their agenda has been fulfilled and Jimmy has a brilliant idea of opening a brewery. Elmer agrees because a.) he has the money, and, b.) he thinks this will allow him to win Hortense. The two purchase a brewery and hire three homeless men who lived in it. They start selling "real beer - 5 cents", only prohibition hasn't been officially repealed and get arrested. But when the police chemists test the beer they discover that it's near beer. The two continue selling it only now Jimmy has changed the formula so it's real beer, only Elmer still thinks it's near beer. Things get complicated when Elmer agrees to partner with a gangster.
WHAT! NO BEER? doesn't have the best or clearest story.This movie is pretty ridiculous. The Buster scenes are of course, the best. Jimmy Durante annoys the hell out of me. Grrr. This was Buster's last film at MGM despite the fact that right before this film, he had resigned with them. At this time, he and Natalie were getting a divorce and Buster's alcoholism made filming difficult. He either arrived on set intoxicated or not at all. Despite all that, he was still able to do his funny bits and remember all of his lines. Of course, considering the garbage he was given, he could do it intoxicated, asleep, and on his head. I have a lot of anger towards MGM during Buster's five years with them. Another one for true fans. If this is your first Keaton film, I would suggest watching some of his earlier works. Even his earlier talkies are much better than this film.

Her smell will always linger in my nostrils,
LW

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It Should Happen To You My Friends

IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU

Released: January 15, 1954
Directed: George Cukor
Starring: Judy Holliday, Peter Lawford, Jack Lemmon

Gladys Glover (Judy Holliday) is at the end of her rope. She's been in New York for two years and nobody knows who she is. Plus she was just fired for being 3/4 of a inch too large around the hips. Pete Sheppard (Jack Lemmon) is a documentarist who runs into Gladys in Central Park and he's absolutely smitten. He's shooting a documentary on Central Park and  promises to show her the finished film. He leaves but not before departing some wisdom, "Where there's a will, there's a way. And where there's a way, there's a will." Gladys sees a blank billboard on Columbus Circle and gets a marvelous idea. She decides to rent it and put her name up on it in big letters. A few days later she sees that Pete has moved in across the hall from her and the two become quick friends but he's not happy with her billboard craze. Due to some mishap, the Adams Soap company tries to buy off Gladys for use of that specific billboard. She refuses until Evan Adams III (Peter Lawford) offers her six billboards. Suddenly everyone knows Gladys Glover which puts a strain on her and Pete's relationship.
This is a really great movie. This is also the feature film debut of Jack Lemmon and it's easy to see why he became a star. He's so likeable. Judy Holliday does a fantastic job playing the dumb blonde. It's such a shame she was never given much juicier roles. IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU is such a feel good film, that you won't want to turn it off. It is very funny and says a lot about consumerism, as well as how stupid people can be. And I don't mean Gladys. A fantastic little film.

It's my business if there's a maniac running loose,
LW

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fall In Love With The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE

Directed: William Joyce, Brandon Oldenburg

Wow.
Wow.
That is all I can really say about THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE.
Inspired by Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, books, and Hurricane Katrina, MORRIS LESSMORE is a beautiful mix of 3D, 2D, minitiares and so many other animation techniques.
It tells the story of Mr. Morris Lessmore, a young man who after a hurricane is brought back to life by his love for books. He in turn brings the books and the rest of the town back to life.
It is a truly beautiful piece of art. Most of my friends are animators and I'm the lone live action/pre-production film kid. Thanks to me, they all knew who the main character was, and thanks to them, I could appreciate THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE on a much deeper level.
Alright, so it totally changed my life.
And I know it will change yours. It's not even fifteen minutes long. It won't take much out of your day and at the end, you'll be glad you did. It is a beautiful story with beautiful animation.

LW


I Happen To Know Three Guys Named Mike

THREE GUYS NAMED MIKE

Released: March 1, 1951
Directed: Charles Walters
Starring: Jane Wyman, Van Johnson, Howard Keel

Marcy Lewis (Jane Wyman) is a big hearted girl with a head full of ideas. She is embarking on her newest passion: airline stewardess. She is accepted into the program and makes new friends at training camp. After camp, Marcy is an official stewardess and goes on her first flight. The flying captain is Mike Jamison (Howard Keel), whom she gets off on the wrong foot. Later, on a trip to L.A. from Chicago, she meets Michael Lawrence (Van Johnson), a grad research student who she incorrectly thinks is a V.I.P. A few days later, while looking for a house, she runs into Mike Tracy (Barry Sullivan), an advertising agent. She likes each one equally, but they all vie for her attention. Things are complicated when all three gentlemen meet. Mike, Micky, and Michael are each going to fight to win the heart of their Marcy.
This is a very entertaining movie. It gives a great insight into American Airlines in the early 50's. It's so weird to think they had training camps. Jane Wyman was a pretty big star at the time and so they got a leading man and two up and coming male actors as her love interests. Van Johnson is absolutely adorable as the science nerd. Howard Keel is pretty amazing in  this early role. I don't know much about Barry Sullivan, but he's pretty good. It's a fun movie that you don't have to take too seriously, but it's worth at least a watch.

He lights up,
LW

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Must Reread The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother

THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES' SMARTER BROTHER

Released: December 14, 1975
Directed: Gene Wilder
Starring: Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman

Sherlock Holmes (Douglas Wilmer) and Dr. Watson (Thorley Walters) claim that they are unable to take a case and push it onto Sigerson Holmes (Gene Wilder), Sherlock's younger, and self proclaimed smarter brother than 'Sheer-luck'. Sherlock sends a Scotland Yard clerk, Sgt. Orville Stanley Sacker (Marty Feldman) to relay the message. Sigerson coldly accepts and is met with Jenny Hill (Madeline Kahn), a seriously disturbed young woman. She is being blackmailed and needs Holmes' help to retrieve the unforgivable document. Unfortunately, she's not a very reliable client nor witness and it is going to take all of Sigerson's wit and brains to solve the ever evolving case.
THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES' SMARTER BROTHER is a very complicated, yet hilarious story. I've seen it on various occasions and each time I forget how much I love it. It is a true gem that more people should know about. It definitely pokes fun at our favorite characters and perhaps the mystery detective genre as a whole. This is also Gene Wilder's directorial debut. He also wrote and starred in it which is pretty groovy. There are several running gags and songs. You might see some familiar faces based on the type of movies you watch. Leo McKern and Roy Kinnear are both in this film (as Moriarty and assistant, respectfully) of whom I know by watching HELP! way too many times. There are the usual characters actors such as Dom DeLuise and of course our other headliners. The humour can be bit raunchy but not terrible. If you like Mel Brooks' movies, then this is right up your alley. Great. Love it.

Never mind. I'll explain it to you later,
LW