Sunday, December 18, 2011

This Here's A Magic Town

MAGIC TOWN

Released: October 7, 1947
Directed: William A. Wellman
Starring: James Stewart, Jane Wyman

Lawrence "Rip" Smith (James Stewart) is an opinion pollster looking for the perfect town. The one town that mirrors the opinions of the entire nation. His polling company closes down, but before he's about to give up he finds a discarded telegram that answers his prayer. The town is Grandview, a wholly unremarkable town that's on the verge of change. Rip needs the town to stay the same and cuts down the idea proposed by Mary Peterman (Jane Wyman) to build a new civic center. The two become enemies, but that doesn't stop Rip from trying to get to know her. He and his team secretly poll the townspeople while posing as insurance salesmen. Rip, who's never really felt at home, quickly falls in love with Mary, the town, and the basketball team. Mary discovers Rip's secret and, being the acting editor, prints it in the newspaper. Rip asks her not to because he knows that no one, not even a nice town like Grandview, should be told they're special. Will Grandview disintegrate? Will Mary see the error of her ways? Will Rip and Mary get together? Will the civic center ever get built? Find out, and watch MAGIC TOWN.
This is a sweet little film. Probably not one of James Stewart's or Jane Wyman's most well known films, but it is a great picture. It has it's funny moments and touching ones. You might hate Wyman for a while, but that's because Mary isn't the brightest person in the universe. I always feel awful sorry for Rip. He tries so hard to make things right. There's basketball, headache powders, and insurance policies. Fun fact, this is one first movies released about the opinion polling, the newest science. It was also a commercial flop. But this little film is wonderful and it was the loss of many people who wouldn't come out.

I wanna see the editor of this imitation newspaper,
LW

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

There's Always The Muppet Movie

THE MUPPET MOVIE

Released: June 22, 1979
Directed: James Frawley
Starring: Jim Henson, Frank Oz

Kermit the Frog sings Rainbow Connection in the swamp. Dom DeLuise (or Bernie the agent) persuades Kermit to go to Hollywood. He rides off on his bicycle and meets up with Fozzie Bear. They slowly accumulate, and meet, all the other Muppets, while trying to avoid Doc Hopper (Charles Durning) who wants Kermit to be the spokesfrog for his frog legs restaurant chain.
That is, in a nutshell the plot. Now considering it is a muppet film, and the first muppet film, it is zany, fun, and musical. There are many wonderful songs, including the ever famous Rainbow connection. You get to see and hear the muppets as they original were. Not to mention Rolf! I absolutely adore Rolf, and after Jim Henson past away, you don't really see him in films. In this one, he's got a pretty big(ish) part. THE MUPPET MOVIE breaks the fourth wall (if it didn't I'd be deeply depressed), makes several movie jokes, reads the script, and generally carry on. Not to mention cameos from some wonderful stars. I won't guarantee you'll love this movie. I absolutely adore the muppets. Always have, but there are some people without souls who don't like them at all. If you love the muppets and haven't seen the movie that started it all, then you're missing out. Then you should watch their other films. And show. And even the one that's in theatres now. Do it!

This is a narrative of very heavy duty proportions,
LW

Monday, December 12, 2011

I Can See It In The Milky Way

THE MILKY WAY

Released: February 7, 1936
Directed: Leo McCarey
Starring: Harold Lloyd, Adolphe Menjou

Burleigh Sullivan (Harold Lloyd) is an shy and inept milkman. His sister, Mae (Helen Mack), is harassed by a drunken Speed McFarlan (William Gargan), the middleweight champ of the world, and his bodyguard/sidekick Spider Schultz (Lionel Stander). Burleigh attempts to stop them which results in Speed being knocked out. Speed's manager, Gabby Sloan (Adolphe Menjou), is terribly upset by this, especially when they see the small fellow that is Burleigh. He informs them that he didn't knock out Speed; Spider did. Burleigh then tells them how as a child he was always picked on so he learned how to dodge, bob, and weave. It's all in the footwork. Gabby gets an idea to make him a boxer but Burleigh refuses. Unfortunately, Burleigh gets fired from his job over his horse, Agnes. He needs the money and decides to take up boxing much to the dismay of his sister and girlfriend.
MILKY WAY was Harold Lloyd's most successful talkie. It has several funny bits, but I felt it relied more on dialogue from Lloyd, than actual action. You're a silent star Lloyd, don't try the talking business. Of course, I haven't seen much of Lloyd's work other than GRANDMA'S BOY. I suppose I like the idea of silent stars sticking to their element. In the world of sound, words don't have to be the cause, but the result. Anyways... this film is rather entertaining. However, having seen the 1946 remake, THE KID FROM BROOKLYN, starring Danny Kaye, I knew what was going to happen. I also found the remake far superior. Maybe it's my inevitable love for Kaye, or perhaps it's because I felt Lloyd could do better. Either way, they're both good films, but while this version ties the knots, the remake shows you how it was done. In other words, the story makes much more sense. Now I'm just rambling.

I'm delivering grade A milk, for better babies!
LW

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Remember The Night

REMEMBER THE NIGHT

Released: January 19, 1940
Directed: Mitchell Leisen
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray

Lee Leander (Stanwyck) gets arrested for shoplifting a bracelet, right before the holidays. Assistant District Attorney, John Sargent (Fred MacMurray), who has never lost a case with a woman on trial, is sent in specially to prosecute Lee. Sargent, knowing she'll never be sentenced with holiday cheer in the air, postpones the trial until after New Years. Lee is forced to spend the holidays in jail, which tugs at John's conscious. He makes it so her bail is set. The bondsman takes her to his place and, still feeling guilty, takes her out to dinner. While there they run into the judge of their case. John also finds out that Lee is from Indiana, just like him. And since she has no place to go, he offers to take her home for the holidays. Great adventure is had in Pennsylvania and when they get to Indiana, Lee is given a cold reception by her mother. Feeling bad, John invites Lee to spend the holidays with him, his mother, aunt, and cousin at their house. But John's good nature won't let her stay without telling his mother (Beulah Bondi) about her.
REMEMBER THE NIGHT, is one of those Christmas movies that don't center around Christmas. It's mentioned the first half of the film, and then it passes and there are other things to attend to. This is also a film that caused me to spasm on the couch, fall off, and yell at the ceiling. It's so wonderful and I was so invested in it, that I was deeply upset when it ended. Maybe it was the ending. You'll have to decide. Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck are quite wonderful. I've never been much of a fan of MacMurray but after this film and THE HAPPIEST MILLIONAIRE, I'm sold. I suppose I've seen THE APARTMENT one too many times. If you have a heart, you'll root for our lovely Lee Leander and be as devoted to this story as I was. This was the last picture that Preston Sturges wrote before he started writing/directing. Sturges spent much time on set and reportedly told Stanwyck that he'd write a comedy for her, which he did: THE LADY EVE. A fantastic film. If you're extremely sensitive (unlike me), you might want a tissue box nearby. This is also the first of four movies that Stanwyck and MacMurray would star in.

That gag's so old it's got whiskers!
LW

Friday, December 9, 2011

This Is Some High Pressure

HIGH PRESSURE

Released: January 30, 1932
Directed: Mervyn Leroy
Starring: William Powell, Evelyn Brent

"Colonel" Ginsburg (George Sidney) is looking for a promoter to start up a new company, manufacturing artificial rubber. Mike Donahey (Frank McHugh) knows the guy: Gar Evans (William Powell). Gar is a con man and refuses the deal until he finds out it's on the level. He names the company the Golden Gate Artificial Rubber Company and begins his project. Ginsburg is exasperated by all the demands, and more so by the demand of having Francine (Evelyn Brent) around. But Francine is sick and tired of Gar's lack of commitment and decides she's going to marry a South American. Without Francine, Gar won't go on. Not that he'll be able to, considering the scientist who figured out how to make artificial rubber from sewage, is missing.
HIGH PRESSURE is a very fast paced movie. If you leave for a second, you're bound to miss something. It's not awful, but it isn't particularly great. William Powell is wonderful, as usual. But the supporting players were all a bit dull and stereotypical. Frank McHugh gives a great performance, but then I was always taken with him, ever since I LOVE YOU AGAIN. Powell gives a riveting speech that'll have you hurrahing. It may get intolerable after a while, but Gar has a sort of cathphrase. He says something about a person and then says, "and you know there aren't that many around." You can just see it coming. Not the best written movie, but it's an entertaining late night movie.

If that's a little, I'd hate to see him drunk,
LW

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Go To The Matchmaker

THE MATCHMAKER

Released: August 12, 1958
Directed: Joseph Anthony
Starring: Shirley Booth, Anthony Perkins, Shirley MacLaine

Dolly Gallagher Levi (Shirley Booth) has made it her job to find a match for rich, yet crotchety Horace Vandergelder (Paul Ford). And although Vandergelder thinks that's what she's doing, Dolly is really planning on marrying Vandergelder himself. Vandergelder tells Dolly that he's planning on proposing to Irene Malloy (Shirley MacLaine), and in order to stop him, she shows him a photo of "Ernestina Simple." He bites the hook and decides to delay his proposal. He goes off to New York City and leaves his sales clerks, Cornelius Hackl (Anthony Perkins) and Barnaby Tucker (Robert Morse), behind. Cornelius itches for adventure and ropes Barnaby into playing hooky in New York City where they won't come back until they've spent all their money, almost get arrested, and kiss a girl - three times. The two spot Irene Malloy in her hat shop and it's love at first sight for her and Cornelius. What's gonna happen?
If you've seen HELLO DOLLY! then chances are you already know. But if you don't, then THE MATCHMAKER will be a gulp of fresh air. THE MATCHMAKER is a thoroughly delightful film, and much better than it's musical remake. Most of the young cast was just starting out in Hollywood and the two veteran actors are just superb. Shirley Booth gives a wonderful performance. The restaurant scene is just priceless and it really gives us a taste (no pun intended) as to Dolly's character. Anthony Perkins, who is perhaps the most adorable creature in the universe, is wonderful in this comedy. He was usually in dramas, and it's nice to see him let loose, particularly his pre-Norman Bates days. Robert Morse, who was the only original actor in the Broadway showing, plays innocent Barnaby Tucker. For those who've seen HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, you'll probably notice his Finchiness. I've never quite like Shirley MacLaine, but in this picture, I forget entirely that she's here. She is Irene Malloy. The movie does break the fourth wall on several occasions and borders on annoying, but not so much. It's actually quite nice once you realize it's going to be happening throughout the film. Especially when you get to Cornelius' monologue which is uber adorable. I really adore Anthony Perkins. A fantastic film. If you can help it, don't watch HELLO DOLLY!, either ever or not until afterwards. You'll note the differences and can judge which one you prefer. (I choose this one).

Good heavens, who else is under there?
LW

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Come To The Double Wedding

DOUBLE WEDDING

Released: October 17, 1937
Directed: Richard Thorpe
Starring: William Powell, Myrna Loy

Irene Agnew (Florence Rice) has dreams of becoming a Hollywood star. She and her fiance, Waldo Beaver (John Beal), have been sneaking out to see Charles Lodge (William Powell), an eccentric movie director. Margit Agnew (Myrna Loy), Irene's controlling older sister is completely shocked and upset by this news. Waldo is easily maneuvered and influenced by Margit which upsets Irene. She breaks off their engagement and convinces herself that she is infatuated with Charles. In order to keep Charles away from her sister, Margit agrees to sit for a portrait by Charles, much to Charles' delight. He tries to loosen up Margit and Margit tries to tighten him up. Could love be in the air?
You really can't go wrong with a Powell/Loy film, and I know I harp on it a lot. DOUBLE WEDDING is an enjoyable film despite the sad undertones of production. During filming, Jean Harlow passed away, whom Powell was engaged to. Production stopped for a few weeks. And although this picture most likely did not hold the best memories for both Powell and Loy, it is still a wonderfully funny film.

Don't think - you're an actor,
LW


Friday, December 2, 2011

The Ex-Mrs. Bradford Is At It Again

THE EX-MRS. BRADFORD

Released: May 13, 1936
Directed: Stephen Roberts
Starring: William Powell, Jean Arthur, James Gleason

Paula Bradford (Jean Arthur), a mystery writer and ex-wife to Dr. Lawrence 'Brad' Bradford (William Powell), comes back from her world travels just in time to bother him with a recent death of a jockey. Brad thinks it's an accident, but when his pal Mike North tells him it's a murder, Brad is dragged into the investigation, despite that's why he and Paula got divorced in the first place. He does an autopsy on the jockey and finds a sample of gelatin on the body. The murderer, knowing that Brad is on his trail, kills North and leaves him, literally, on Brad's front step. The police conveniently come and suspect Brad of murder. Now in order to clear his name, Dr. Bradford must solve the jockey's murder, but not without help from his plucky ex-wife.
This was a highly entertaining movie. THE EX-MRS. BRADFORD is one those movies I've been waiting to see. Not only does it have William Powell, but also Jean Arthur. These two are just so funny together. The plot was very much like a THIN MAN picture, but then again RKO was trying to cash in on the popularity of those films. Very enjoyable, and to be perfectly honest, I didn't suspect the murderer at all, for basic reasons.

You're looking pretty healthy for a corpse,
LW

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Come On Down To Holiday Inn

HOLIDAY INN

Released: August 4, 1942
Directed: Mark Sandrich
Starring: Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds

Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby), Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), and Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale) make up a musical act in New York. Jim has plans to retire from show business to work at a farm in Connecticut. He and Lila are going to get married, but Lila has a change of heart. She decides to continue on dancing with Ted, whom she has just discovered she's in love with. They break the news to him and Jim goes off to his farm alone. A year goes past without a day to relax and Jim is sent off to a sanatorium. He comes back with a fabulous idea for a a night club: Holiday Inn. It's open only on holidays. He meets Linda Mayson (Marjorie Reynolds) who he hires to entertain. Meanwhile, Ted and Lila become engaged but on New Years Eve she runs off with a Texas millionaire. Drunk and depressed, Ted stumbles down to Jim's place where he dances with Linda. Everyone thinks she's his new partner, but he can't remember who she is. Ted's looking for Linda, Jim's hiding her from him, Hollywood comes a knockin', and beautiful songs are sung.
HOLIDAY INN is one of my holiday favorites. It is a celebration of every holiday, but Christmas is starred about three times which officially makes it a Christmas movie in my book. Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire are at their best. I love how much I hate Fred in this picture. He's just a jerk who's trying to screw over his best pal. Marjorie Reynolds and Virginia Dale are two fabulous dancers and singers. I really don't know much of their careers, but I hope it was as fun and entertaining as this picture.

What brings you here on this bright and uninviting day?
LW