Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Movie Watching...

I've been getting a hella-good dose of classic movie watching the last few weeks and thought I'd review a few of them here. Unless noted, they are all "new to me"...

"The Nuisance" (1933) - Lee Tracy plays a fast-talking schiester lawyer who will go to ANY lengths to win his case. Fun pre-code MGM film with Madge Evans, Frank Morgan and hilarious Charles Butterworth as a career traffic accident victim.

"The Big Shakedown" (1934) - Bette Davis, Charles Farrell and Ricardo Cortez star in half way decent WB b-film about a druggist getting involved with a racketeer who wants him to manufacture various counterfiet household drugstore items. Intersting to see former silent mega-star Farrell (from those legendary films with Janet Gaynor) in a talkie.

"The Finger Points" (1931) - Very interesting pre-code drama from WB starring Richard Barthelmess and Fay Wray and co-starring Clark Gable in one of his awesome early roles as a heavy! My biggest complaint with this film was a relatively slack pace from director John Francis Dillon (who also directed "The Big Shakedown" up above) but I still enjoyed the film and the cast. In the hands of someone like William Wellman this film could have been really special.

Patricia Ellis
"Down the Stretch" (1936), "Sing Me a Love Song" (1936) and "Elmer the Great" (1933) all 3 films had WB ingenue Patricia Ellis in the cast, of whom I might possibly be the worlds biggest fan of! The last of the 3 listed was one of the Joe E. Brown "baseball trilogy" films and easily the least of the 3.

"The World Changes" (1933) - Epic "Cimmaron" type story with Paul Muni brilliantly portraying the rise and fall of a South Dakota farmboy who hits the big time in the cattle industry. Well cast with the always excellent Aline MacMahon, Mary Astor, Margaret Lindsay and yup Patricia Ellis all lending great support but its Muni's film all the way. Directed with gusto by the great Mervyn LeRoy at WB. Not the great film it set out to be but very good!

"Grand Slam" (1933) - If you love playing bridge then this is a must-see! Paul Lukas stars as a waiter who, along with his new wife played by Loretta Young, inadvertantly end up becoming the nations number 1 bridge players! Frank McHugh stole the show as a drunken ghostwriter smitten with Young (who wouldnt be!). Overall i was disappointed in the film WB B-film. The cast really was the best reason to watch.

I was very happy to see that during TCM's awesome Summer under the Stars in August they were devoting an entire day to one of my all-time favorite actresses, Joan Blondell! Too often overlooked and under-appreciated, Joan was a consumate pro and a fine actress. Fact is she never seems like she's acting at all and that IS the trick isnt it? oh yeah, she looks good too!

Joan Blondell"Good Girls go to Paris" (1939) - Silly story but fun! Joan teams up with Melvyn Douglas and Walter Connolly in fairly zany story of a gold digger who causes all kinds of trouble for all kinds of people yet saves all their asses in the end! I noticed a reviewer on IMDB stated that Joan's gold-digging antics were out of character for her....ummm I guess he/she never saw "Goldiggers of 1993", or 1937, never saw "Havanna Widows", never saw "We're in the Money", never saw "Three men on a Horse, etc etc, etc...playing a gold digger was one of Joan's Stock in trade in the 1930's! Weird seeing Joan in a Columbia picture.

"Traveling Saleslady" (1935) - Joan is a total delight in very silly and fun story of the daughter of a chauvenistic toothpaste tycoon who, because her father refuses to met her work for him, gets a job with his rival and proceeds to nearly put him out of business with her line of "Cocktail flavored toothpastes"! Hugh herbert is hilarious as the bumbling but brilliant chemist who comes up with the various concoctions. Snappy direction by the always snappy Ray Enright.

"Lawyer Man" (1932), "Central Park" (1932), "Big City Blues" (1932), "The Reckless Hour" (1931) "Sinners Holiday" (1930) - All worthy pre-code WB B-films, loaded with sordid people, places and situations and that last one having the bonus of being the screen debuts of Joan AND a certain Mr. Cagney! It had been a good number of years since I last saw any of these so it was great fun revisiting them!

"Sucker Punch" (2011) - Totally awesome hot chicks planning an escape from an insane asylum with insanely cool "action dream sequences" centered around objects needed for their escape. To reveal anymore would be very uncool...just see it for yourself, you'll either love it or hate it!


Raquelle said...

I've seen The Finger Points! I mostly watched it for Richard Barthlemass but Clark Gable was a nice added extra. Did you notice they put him in a bowler hat? That was very unfortunate because of Gable's big ears.

Looks like you've been busy watching great movies! Wish I still had TCM. :-(

Artman2112 said...

I'll watch anything with Richard Barthelmess so i can relate! YES i did notice the bowler hat, it was VERY odd seeing Gable wearing that. I'm sure you've heard the story that WB didnt give him a long term contract because of his big ears!
that is indeed a shame you dont have TCM, is it because your cable provider doesnt have it or do you simply not have cable at all right now? if i didnt have TCM i wouldnt even care to have cable or satelite at all. i almost never change the channel!
thanks for the comment Raquelle!

joe bloke said...

mmmmm, Joan Blondell. . .

I dunno what the American TCM's like, but I used to love the one we get over here, it was the sole reason I agreed to get the cable in the first place. of late, they've started showing old episodes of Bonanza and Rawhide, and a few too many modern tv dramas, which has royally cheesed me off, so I don't watch it as much, but, yeah, I still watch it a lot more than any of the other channels.

& Sucker Punch was a cracking good laugh.