Friday, September 30, 2011

The Bride Walks Out (1936)

“Without my wife, I'm comparatively alone in the world. Even with my wife, I'm comparatively alone in the world”

            Barbara Stanwyck takes a turn at comedy in her 1936 film The Bride Walks Out. She plays a young woman named Carolyn. She has a boyfriend named Michael Martin (Gene Raymond) who is an engineer. Michael wants her to marry him but he makes no money in his job. To make things worse he wants her to give up her job so he can be the bread winner. Carolyn reluctantly marries him even though she loves him.
            Carolyn and Michael marry in city hall and it is not the nice wedding with hundreds of ushers and bridesmaids she wanted. It is rushed because Michael has to go back to work. Carolyn starts to cry and yell at Michael and a police officer tells them to keep quiet or leave. Michael gets mad and hits the officer and is arrested. At court the next day he can pay fifty dollars or go to jail for a month. A young, rich man named Hugh (Robert Young) had been sitting next to Carolyn during the hearing and feels bad for them. He loans them the fifty dollars. Hugh becomes their friend or more Carolyn’s friend.
            Things get rough with Michael only making thirty-five dollars a week and she is not working. Their bills are weeks and even months behind. Towards the end of the film their furniture gets reposed. It is New Year’s Day when their furniture gets taken. Michael wants to take her out with the fifty dollars he got working. She tries to make him see that they need to be saved but he thinks everything is financially alright. They go out and she brings up the fact that she needs to go to work but that does not go over well. The couple get back home and Carolyn sees the furniture is back in the house. Hugh has helped them out.

            A little later Carolyn does not tell Michael she got a job. He gets home before she does and he sees a maid in the house and the maid tells him everything. He is not happy whatsoever when he gets home and his pride is hurt thinking he did not save for his equipment himself. Michael walks out and Carolyn seeks out a divorce.
            Take a guess what happens at the end.
            Barbara Stanwyck was so good in the film. She had so many good parts but my favorite is when she gets drunk with Robert Young, Helen Broderick, and the furniture guys. Hugh brought over two huge things of Champagne and they all drink together. She plays the piano and they are all drunk singing. The furniture guys move out the piano with Matti (Broderick) still on top of it. Michael and Matti’s  husband are waiting for the women downstairs in the lobby. When the elevator opens both women cannot even keep their heads up they are so drunk. Matti is holding Carolyn up from falling. Carolyn cannot even say hello without hiccuping. Carolyn walks over to Michael who she is seeing six of and she says “I love all of you.” The whole scene is hysterical Stanwyck was so good and so funny. Another really cute scene was at the beginning of the film. Michael calls Carolyn to get up in the morning. After he calls she falls back to sleep. Michael calls again and she tells him she did not go back to sleep saying she is getting in the shower and that she has the towel in her hand and waves the blanket to the phone to show him. Stanwyck looked so adorable. She was much better looking as a brunette than a blonde. I liked seeing her in a comedy especially after seeing her so many times in dramas.

            Now the rest of the cast was great except for Gene Raymond. I am not a fan of Raymond’s. I have seen him in other films and to me he is just a filler. He was so odd looking and not that great as an actor he was terrible as the leading man. Robert Young would have been perfect I can see Stanwyck going back to him and being in love with him instead of Raymond. The film would have been perfection if the lead male roles were reversed. Helen Broderick was awesome I love her deadpan-ness. She always seems to be paired with a bum for a boyfriend or husband and plays off that. She had a great scene where she was crying because she was afraid her husband would get hurt.
            I wish The Bride Walks Out was available on DVD. It was so damn adorable!! Barbara Stanwyck was such a good actress that she could make a mediocre story and make it worth seeing. TCM aired the film in August. Definitely try to catch it if the station airs it again.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Sentinel (1977)

Rebecca and Malcolm Stinnett. Sell. Gerde Engstrom. Emma and Lillian Clotkin. Anna Clark. All people the Parker girl said she met.”
“All killers, all dead. She went to a party with eight dead murderers.”

            Rarely do I watch any kind of movie that was made past 1960. I cannot stand many movies made in the 1970s (alright except for Star Wars but who does NOT like Star Wars? And I have no choice but to like the trilogy my brothers watch it all the time. Oh and I like Dirty Harry too that is really good and Murder on the Orient Express). I find after the studio system fell the glamour went out of movies. Anyway, so I have The Sentinel a chance and that as only because Ava Gardner had a part in it and to my discovery so did many other actors. It is almost like a who’s who of acting.
            Alison Parker (Cristina Raines) is a young model. She has been living with her boyfriend Michael who is a lawyer. He wants her to marry him but his wife died recently and there was a big scandal with that and she tried to kill herself afterwards. Cristina wants to move out of the apartment she shares with Michael so she can think things over and be by herself. With the help of a woman named Miss Logan (Ava Gardner) she finds a nice old apartment building in Brooklyn facing the water.
            Alison likes the apartment very much. It is furnished with old furniture and nice and spacious. One by one she meets her neighbors and they are all very odd. An old man named Chase (Burgess Meredith) is obsessed with his cat going so far as to throw it a birthday party and there are two lesbian dancers living downstairs from her. A blind and very old priest lives upstairs and constantly stares out the window. Not long after she is settled Alison begins to hear things in the middle of the night and she faints and does not feel well when she is doing shoots.
            Things turn really creepy and scary for Alison. One night she believes she stabbed someone and runs out into the street in a fit and has to be put into the hospital. The police (one of them includes a young Christopher Walken) investigate what happened to Alison because they suspect Michael is behind something (they feel he killed his wife). She and Michael individually find out the Catholic Church is behind what is going on with her and they are not good.
            Alright so I did not really explain the plot but I cannot give the whole thing away. The movie was alright, the story was so-so. Someone online gave a review saying that if you like The Sixth Sense you will like this movie. Well let me tell you The Sentinel is nothing like The Sixth Sense and I was laughing throughout the movie.
            The cast was interesting. I am saying interesting because it was not the greatest and it is odd that all these people are in it. Ava Gardner as Miss Logan added a touch of glamour to a crappily made movie. I mean come she’s Ava Gardner no matter how old the woman got she was still gorgeous (her voice was deeper if you just heard her voice you would not believe it was her and the effects of her hard living were starting to show). Burgess Meredith was a creepy bastard, he reminded me of the old men that flirt with me when I work (being a hostess in a restaurant is so much fun *sarcastic tone*). A young Beverly D’Angelo plays one of the lesbian dancers and I will never be able to look at her in Christmas Vacation the same way ever again. Eli Wallach is the older detective. Jerry Orbach is in one scene as a director. Jeff Goldbloom is a photographer in a few scenes. Martin Balsalm gets one of the top billings but he is only in one scene for like two seconds. Cristina Raines was good I have heard of her but never seen her in anything. She was very very pretty.
            This is one movie that was made in the ‘70s that had all these old stars because there was a renewed appreciation for old Hollywood. I feel they put all these old actors in films because they knew they were better than the ones around and they knew that most of them were getting old and would not be around anymore. Or better reason they knew they would draw audiences.
            The Sentinel is not the greatest of movies ever made. It is one of the movies that are so bad they are so good. I plan on getting on DVD so me and my friends can laugh watching it together. This is one movie I would not mind being remade it had potential to be good but it fell flat on the scary and it kind of dragged. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Baby Face (1933)

“Yeah, I'm a tramp, and who's to balme? My Father. A swell start you gave me. Ever since I was fourteen, what's it been? Nothing but men! Dirty rotten men! And you're lower than any of them. I'll hate you as long as I live!” 

            I know whenever I post about a Pre-code film I usually say it is one of the perfect examples of the genre but with Baby Face it is one of THE prime examples. This is probably one of the reasons why the Code was enforced.
            Lily Powers (Barbara Stanwyck) lives in an industrial section of Erie, Pennsylvania. She lives with her father who runs a speakeasy and has a reputation for being easy. Her father is just as slimy as the men who come in after a day’s work. A powerful man in the town comes in looking to get something from Lily. The man gives her father the freedom to run his saloon without interference from the police. Lily wants nothing to do with the man and as he rubs her knee she just stares at him and then pours coffee on his hand. The man chases after her to her bedroom but she gets him out. The man is so outraged that he tells her father that he will have the police on the saloon. Lily’s father yells at her but she does not care she has had enough of her surroundings and him. That night her father dies in an explosion and she is nothing but happy.

            After the funeral she goes to a man named Cragg who is the only person in her life who sees the potential in her. Lily tells him that she is heading for New York to start over. Cragg tells her to use men to their advantage that that is the only way she will be able to get anywhere in life if she uses what she has and uses men for all they got. Lily takes this advice right away. She and her friend take a boxcar to the city and a train worker sees them and tells them they have to get off the train or he will go to the police. Lily gives him a look and tells him they can work something out. We see the man take his gloves off and turn out the light.
            Once in New York Lily finds work at a banking firm. From the moment she enters the personnel office all the way to the top Lily sleeps her way to better jobs. Once at the top she gets into great trouble when a man named Ned Stevenson becomes obsessed with Lily and his boss and almost father-in-law starts seeing her. When he finds the two together he shoots the older man and himself. The bank sends Lily away to their Paris branch after her lie about her involvement with the dead men backfires. The new head of the bank Courtland Trenholm (George Brent) begins to fall in love with Lily. Lily tries her best not to love him but she does.
            No matter immoral the film may be the ending is moralizing. Depending on where you read the reviews you can see it as a weak ending or a good ending. I found the ending to be alright not bad but not that great.
            Barbara Stanwyck was unbelievably incredible. She was the perfect mix of tough and sexy. I had my mouth open the whole time there were so many scenes where Stanwyck was drop dead sexy. Stanwyck’s eyes and silence are what make her so cold and so appealing. All she needed to do was give men a look with her big eyes and they came running. When three men in her life are killed her eyes stay emotionless. No could have been better as Lily Powers than Barbara Stanwyck because she was had a reputation for being tough as nails and forceful and that is what Lily Powers is tough and forceful.

            I like seeing George Brent in films. In the films I have seen him in he has been the guy who falls head over heels in love with a woman and he also happens to be a wealthy man or a playboy. Trenholm was the only one who genuinely loved Lily and he was excellent especially when Lily really broke his heart towards the end.
            John Wayne has a very small role in the film. For his first scene all we really get to see is the back of his head. Wayne was one of the men who was head over heels for Lily the only difference with him was Lily never went him he was too nice. He was cute he was so young.
            My favorite aspect of the film is the way the sexuality and immorality is shown out of range leaving whatever happened to our imagination. I love it when films leave things to the audiences imaginations. One of my favorite things Alfred Hitchcock said is that what is not shown is much scarier than what is shown because we allow our minds to think of awful scary things. Well with Baby Face our minds can think of the dirtiest, sexiest things!!  
            Baby Face is such a great film. My explanations of the film and Barbara Stanwyck and George Brent do not any justice you just have to see the film. Baby Face is such a fantastic Pre-Code film and should not be missed. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Footsteps in the Dark (1941)

Errol Flynn takes a rare turn in a comedy film in Footsteps in the Dark as lawyer by day amateur detective running around with the cops by night. In his spare time Francis is a mystery writer writing under the penname F.X. Pettyjohn. His new book entitled Footsteps in the Dark has sparked some controversy. His mother-in-law and her book club want to sue the author for slander since he has based some of his story on them. His wife and mother-in-law do not know he is the author of the book so throughout the film he has to try to keep his identities in order.
            Francis goes out with the police at night working to get ideas for his stories. He comes home late climbing up a lader and through his bedroom window. He has a loving wife Rita who does not suspect anything at first.
            At his office one day a man named Leopold Fissue comes in pretty much demanding that he become Francis’s client. The man deals with diamonds and he wants Francis to help him invest them. Francis says that he is not the kind of client he normally takes on but the man is shady and very persuasive. Fissue tells Francis to come by his place that night and they can talk the deal over. Francis goes to Fissue’s place but the man does not show up. His butler tells Francis that Fissue went out on his boat but he cannot imagine what could be keeping him.
            Francis finds it odd that Fissue never showed up so he goes to hang out with his police buddies. The station gets a call that a man was found dead on his boat, Francis tags along. The man on the boat is Fissue. The police do not know that Francis is Francis Warren the lawyer they know him only by his pen name so they do not know that Fissue had seen and set up a meeting with the lawyer during the day. Francis is one step ahead of the police who he sees and we see as incompetent and bumbling and are more than happy to stop the case once the coroner reports that Fissue died from cardiac arrest due to alcoholism. Francis knows better and starts his own investigation while the real detectives chase their tails.
            The further Francis investigates on his own the more he gets in trouble both with the law and with his wife and mother-in-law.
             The very ending of the film is really cute. You know that Francis will never stop doing what does chasing after the police seeking a thrill so his wife figures if he will not stop she will go with him.
            As I was watching this film I could not help but thinking of the show Castle with Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic. If you do not watch Castle the show is about an author who tags along with a detective and her team to get information for his books and also helps to solve murders. I would not be surprised if the creator of the show got the idea from Footsteps in the Dark. I enjoyed this film very much. Errol Flynn when he was given the chance to do something more than play cowboys and action heroes was so fabulous. He was so charming and handsome and slick. I like seeing him in his modern roles rather than period pieces. Ralph Bellamy also stars in the film, he is not in it a lot but he has a very important role and one that is so out of character from what he usually played.
            Footsteps in the Dark is very different for a classic film which is the reason why it is fun to watch today. The story and plot is light, entertaining and fun. Errol Flynn does not fail to capture and keep your attention with his handsomeness and his charm as he outsmarts the police. Footsteps in the Dark is a hidden classic comedic gem that must be seen by all those who call themselves film buff.