Sunday, September 30, 2012

Silent Sundays: Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)

Steamboat Bill Jr. along with The General is considered to be Buster Keaton’s greatest film. I can see why people would say. It has a fun light story and much physical comedy from Keaton for which he was known for.
            Steamboat Bill Sr. runs a steamboat called the Stonwall Jackson. It has been running up and down the Mississippi River successfully for a number of years. The rich banker in town J.J. King has created a newer, better, and classier steamboat and plans to run Steamboat Bill out of business.
            Bill gets a letter from his son William Canfield Jr. (Keaton) telling him he will be coming by train and will be wearing a white carnation. Bill has not seen his son since he was a little baby and is excited to see him. At the train station almost every man who disembarks is wearing a white carnation on their jacket. The last man to get off the train is short, is wearing nice clothes, carrying a small guitar, and had a mustache. It takes Bill some time to realize this feminine looking man is his son. Bill takes Willie to the barber telling the barber to “Take that barnacle off his face.” While in barber’s a young woman is getting her haircut as well and recognizes Willie from Boston. The girl is J.J. King’s daughter Willie. Bill next tries to get his son working clothes and a new hat for the boat but that of course falls apart.
            When King sees Willie dressed in his sailing outfit he laughs hysterically that he is Steamboat Bill’s son. Willie and Kitty try to speak to each on their respective steamboats but they each getting kicked off the other boat when they try to go aboard. Each father tells their child that they will be picking their future spouses since they are not choosing the right ones themselves.
            After a short time with his son Bill has had enough of Willie so he buys the boy a ticket on the next train back to Boston. When Bill walks back to his boat he sees there has been a sign posted that the Stonewall Jackson has been condemned as unsafe. Bill knows exactly who had that sign posted and goes straight over to J.J. King. Bill goes after King and the banker has the steamboat captain thrown in jail. At hearing the news of his father being put into jail, Willie comes back to town to try to get him out. He is almost successful sneaking in a loaf of bread filled with tools to break his father out but in perfect comedic style the tools fall out of the bread and he says that the bread must have fallen on the tool chest while he was baking it. Bill gets out but Willie gets caught and rather have his son take the heat Bill comes back to take his place in jail.
            A ferocious storm rips through the town dragging Willie through the town with it. At the end of the storm the Stonewall Jackson is the only riverboat still afloat while King’s has not fared well at all.
            In the end Willie gets the girl and becomes a bit of a hero when he saves King from the water.
            I loved Buster Keaton in this film. He just had the perfect look and body language for a clumsy young boy in love as well as one who is trying to make a good impression on a father he barely knows. I was cracking up over Keaton the moment he steps off the train with a thin mustache looking so preppy. Keaton is physical comedy personified and I am sure this film is the reason he has that reputation. This film has the famous scene where the front frame of a house falls on Keaton with the open window falling on him and he goes through it. It was great finally seeing that scene in context I am so used to seeing it in film montages I never saw the scene in the actual film until now. It was not only hysterical but extremely tense!
            Steamboat Bill Jr. has a simple story of two fathers hating each other so they keep their kids apart from each other as well. Romeo and Juliet as a silent comedy film… perfection. I enjoyed sitting through every minutes of Steamboat Bill Jr. Buster Keaton never fails to be funny for one moment. The humor of his stories is so innocent and his delivery of the humor is so physical that they just blend perfectly. Steamboat Bill Jr. is without a doubt a comedy classic and deserves to be for its brilliance in story and acting. It is a classic comedy not to be missed.


Friday, September 28, 2012

The Squall (1929)

“Jealousy and hate- born from the fickle whim of a woman’s passion”

            The Squall sounds like an alright film on paper: a gypsy woman comes to live in this wealthy family’s home and she tears the family apart because the men fall dangerously in love with her. It sounds like a melodrama and it is but to me it sounded like it had potential. The only thing the film really has going for it is excellent sound quality for an early talking film and also that Myrna Loy by this time in career and at age twenty-four was already a good actress for what she was given.
            The story takes place on a country farm in Hungry. The farm is owned by a man named Josef with his wife Maria and son Paul. They have a dinner gathering for some close family and friends. Paul has been seeing a young girl named Irma (Loretta Young). He wants to marry her and he asks his parents and her grandfather that night. His father is reluctant at first because Paul is going to school and needs to focus on his studies but they reassure him that they will not get married until Paul is finished with school.
            A bad storm- a squall- kicks in. Irma thinks she hears someone scream, when she voices her concern everyone thinks she is just hearing things until they too hear the scream. Their servant Peter opens the door and in comes flying a gypsy woman who is part of the traveling gypsy caravan. The woman Nubi (Loy) is running away from her master El Morro who she says is trying to beat her and begs to let her stay because she is frightened. The men want to turn her away since she is a gypsy but Maria is too kind and will not especially with a horrible man after her. They hide Nubi in the cellar when El Morro comes into the house. When Nubi comes out from the cellar she thanks Maria saying she will repay her by becoming her slave. Maria takes Nubi on as a new servant. Nubi then goes on to make a crazy speech to herself but letting the others hear how she does not want to go back with the gypsies. Paul and Peter listen to her with a feverish look in their eyes.
            A title card lets the viewers know that Nubi’s presence is beginning to have an effect on the men of the house. While working outside one day Paul is being followed by the housemaid Lena who he had planned on marrying. They see Nubi sitting under the trees not doing anything, again as Lena points out. When Lena goes away Peter begins to sing a song about how unhappy he is because he knows he should marry Lena but he also wants Nubi. Peter and Nubi chase each other around the garden. He asks her if she has ever loved anyone else before him and she says no.
            All the men on the farm go after Nubi including Paul. He spends some time with her and completely begins to ignore Irma. Peter is furious that Nubi has been spending time with Paul. He basically attacks her. At that moment Josef walks in seeing Nubi struggling to get away from Peter. Josef kicks Peter out of the house for his actions. Nubi then sets her claws on Josef. Maria asks Josef some time later how much of what happened was actually Peter’s fault and how much was Nubi’s since before her Peter never laid eyes on any other woman but Lena.
            Paul comes home one day saying that he has failed at school. Nubi is the reason he cannot think of anyone or anything else but her. Paul is not the only to fall victim to the gypsy woman. Eventually Josef is out meeting her in the orchards. Irma comes by the house and comments on how everything has changed since Nubi came to live in the house there is no light or laughter anymore. Paul tells Irma he does not want to marry her anymore until he can get things for himself which will not be for a long time.
            Eventually the family has Nubi taken off their hands when the gypsy caravan comes through town. El Morro comes to the house and no one is going to save Nubi now. He tells them all that Nubi is his wife and they have a child and that she loves no one.
            So sounds like your typical melodrama and it totally is. I liked the story mostly because Myrna Loy gave these fabulous seductive looks that let you know what was going on in the character’s mind and that you were supposed to know she was absolutely no good. The unfortunate thing about this film is the acting. The acting is terrible. Even Loretta Young was bad she sounded like she was just repeating her lines how she remembered them. But I will forgive her I am sure this was one of her first speaking roles and she was only sixteen. Some of the acting especially by the actress who played Maria was so over the top and just wicked.
            Myrna Loy in her autobiography writes that Nubi was her ultimate vamp role. She humorously writes: “‘ Nubi, she be geepsy, she do dis, she do dat, she do dee other ting.’ She was a real heller, that one.” You can clearly see that this was her ultimate vamp role since she was getting all the men into trouble!       It is strange watching Loy in this film because she puts on this accent and has a bit of a high voice. Her hair is wild as if she has been in the woods for most of her life. Her crystal blue eyes come up so light they are mysterious and add to vampiness. I had yet to see Loy in her early vamp roles and this was my first one. I can absolutely see why Warners and MGM casted her in those roles for so long she had the look she had that mysteriously lovely face. This is not Myrna Loy the actress from The Thin Man but you can tell that by this time she had her acting down and really knew how to act. She was the only actor and character that did not seem phony.
            Loretta Young as I mentioned was only sixteen and her acting had yet to improve. But goodness was she so pretty! She was like pretty, adorable. Young was perfect in the role as the ingénue she had the look.
            The Squall is not the greatest film ever by any means but it is not terrible. A reviewer wrote that TCM called The Squall a guilty pleasure. Trust me when I say it is not that terrible to be considered a guilty pleasure. This does not mean to rush out and find it. Unless you are a fan of Myrna Loy or Loretta Young skip The Squall.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Countess From Hong Kong (1967)

A Countess from Hong Kong is not a typical Charlie Chaplin film. It is silly with some dramatic moments but the story is not balanced like his earlier films such as The Kid and The Great Dictator were. Also unlike his other films Charlie Chaplin is not the main character and he greatly miscast Marlon Brando in the lead.
            Ogden Mears (Brando) is on a cruise that stops in Hong Kong. He does not want to go on the mainland but an older gentleman he knows through his father comes abroad with three young women who were once real countesses. One of the women is Natascha (Sophie Loren) is a White Russian who has lived in Hong Kong all her life. Odgen and Natascha get along very nicely.
            The following day Ogden gets up with a bad hangover and several numbers in lipstick written on his shirt. He goes to the closet to get a robe out, hears a small yell and closes the door apologizing. He opens it again to see Natascha who he cannot remember at all for a few minutes. She tells him she has stowed away to go to America. Ogden is not happy at all about this especially because he could get into so much trouble and she does not have her papers.
            Throughout the trip Natascha drives Ogden crazy about everything from clothes to where she will sleep. Eventually Harvey, Ogden’s friend, finds Natascha in bathroom when he goes to get a towel. He thinks all she wants is Ogden’s money and that he should get rid of her in Tokyo. They talk to Natascha she says she does not want money she just wants to go to America. As they are speaking to each other Harvey is smoking a cigar and the stink along with the rough waves begins to get to them all and they all get sick.
            A few days later Ogden says he was sick with Malaria and Natascha helped him to get better. He is beginning to have a soft spot for the stowaway. That night there is a dance and Natascha is left alone. Ogden is not having a good time dancing with all the annoying young girls. Harvey goes down to check on Natascha when an electrician comes in by an extra key. Harvey thinks it is better to have her come up to the dance than to be caught in the room. At the dance people think she is the lady who has been sick since the boat left Hong Kong. Natascha runs into a man knew she knew in Hong Kong. He will not leave her alone so Ogden and Harvey come up with a plan to get her away from him and it works the guy cannot find her at all.
            While sitting out on the deck Harvey hears over the radio that Martha (Tippi Hedren), Ogden’s wife, will be coming aboard that night. They need to make it look like Natascha has nothing to do with Ogden and they have to eventually get her onto American soil. Ogden has his servant Hudson marry her to make her an American citizen. They make it seem as if her papers were blown overboard. Hudson is hilariously excited and Natascha thinks the man is insane.
            The next day Natascha decides to jump off the ship when it docks in Hawaii since the captain of the ship has told her the marriage may not be legal. She tells Harvey to meet her at Waikiki beach the following day. Martha, Ogden, and Harvey go on land. Martha tells Harvey she knows that Natascha is not Hudson’s wife or his that she is a prostitute from Hong Kong.
            Luckily the papers go through and Natascha can get a passport and papers to go to the mainland. She is heartbroken that Ogden has left for the mainland. Ogden calls Harvey to tell him that he did not leave with the ship he has stayed behind to see Natascha.
            The ending is very typical Charlie Chaplin with the happy couple dancing and not saying a word.
            Marlon Brando was horribly miscast as Ogden. But there are times where I could not believe he was actually good in a comedic scene. The scene after Ogden finds Natascha in the closet is the funniest of film. The two of them run around and bang into things as she tries to hide in the bathroom or the next room. I am not used to seeing Brando act funny this was something different and I liked him in the scene very much. Brando and Chaplin did not get along during the making of the film. You can see that Brando was doing his job and that is it he seemed like he was not trying. Sophie Loren was fabulous as Natascha I liked her so much. She was hysterical she definitely carried the comedy. Loren looked stunning from beginning to end even in oversized pajamas and clothes. Tippi Hedren is in the film for the last five minutes. I will say this about the woman she was very pretty but good lord she could not act to save her life! Chaplin’s son Sydney played Harvey. He was not a bad actor at all he was very good. There are some scene where you can tell he is Chaplin’s son they had the same eyes and cheeks. And he also included his daughter Geraldine Chaplin. She dances with Brando. 
            This was Charlie Chaplin’s last film he made. He wrote and directed it and even had a small cameo as a porter. Unfortunately the film did not do well which is sad considering the long and successful career he had. Chaplin had actually come up with the story in the 1930s as a film called “Stowaway” for his then wife Paulette Goddard. I can absolutely see Paulette Goddard in the role of Natascha especially in the scenes where she has to run to hide and where Ogden chases Natascha around to try to get rid of her. Chaplin I can see him having played Hudson. The night he marries Natascha Hudson goes crazy with excitement and she just stares in stunned silence at him (Sophie Loren’s face is hilarious). I can just picture Chaplin going through all his wacky body movement and his devilish smile and as he flips blankets all over the place. As I mentioned at the beginning the story has a mix of comedy and drama but it is not balanced like Chaplin’s earlier films. I do not know why it did not work maybe it was the cast or maybe it was Chaplin’s writing.
             A Countess from Hong Kong may not be Charlie Chaplin’s best film but it would be outrageously unfair to him to completely write the film off. It had a good story it was not offensive or mean and you can still tell it was Charlie Chaplin’s humor. You can definitely tell after reading that he wanted to make it in the 1930s it would have worked in that era a little better but it worked out perfectly that the subject of this former countess who turned into an escort was made at a later date even if would have been implied in the 1930s. A Countess from Hong Kong is enjoyable and I think should be given more of a chance. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Never a Dull Moment (1950)

Never a Dull Moment had a plot I thought I would be bored with. I realized it was a comedy but I thought it was not going to be too great. I happy to say I was wrong because as soon as Irene Dunne is put on a western ranch I could not stop laughing.
            Kay Kingsley (Dunne) is a successful songwriter and composer living in New York City. She helps to organize a charity that benefits kids in Manhattan. The charity is a rodeo show with Chris Heyward (Fred MacMurray) as one of the riders. Kay’s friend notices Chris looking at Kay and Chris’s friend Orvie (Andy Devine) notices Chris looking at Kay. The two friends have them meet and Chris asks Kay out for dinner.
            As you can guess not too long later Chris and Kay are married. He takes her back to his place out west. Kay tries to keep an open mind but gets nervous as they get closer to his ranch. At first she thinks the neighbor’s nice clean house is their house. A stone’s throw away is Chris’s old house. It is not run down but it is not what Kay was expecting. Before she can walk into the house Chris’s daughters Nan (Natalie Wood) and Tina come home from school. They seem unsure of her at first then they quickly take to her. The girls show Kay around the house. As Kay walks towards the bed in Chris’s room she nearly falls through a loose floorboard!
            As Kay and Chris prepare for bed after a long day, Orvie and a whole bunch of people come banging on the house. They are there to throw the new couple a party. All Kay wanted to do was go to sleep and now she has to entertain people. Kay has a lot of fun dancing and singing with her new neighbors and friends. Chris sees his grumpy neighbor Mears looking in through the window. Mears has control of the water that flows into Chris’s house and into his land. Chris thinks the man is there because the music is too loud. Kay goes outside to bring him into the party thinking he might soften up if he is asked to join the party. Unfortunately Mears gets humiliated when he falls into some food and storm out of the house. The party does not end until early in the morning. Not too long after they go to bed Kay and Chris are woken up by some of his friends looking for him to go out cougar hunting with them.
            Kay goes back to sleep for a while when Chris leaves. The girls get up and decide to get Kay up so they can teach her how to do chores. The girls put Kay through the ringer that day. She walks in from falling down in the barn, riding a horse and falling off the horse all sore and tired. Chris comes home with a dead cougar he wants prepared for dinner. Kay goes out on the porch and gets the life scared out of her when she sees the dead animal in front of her. She goes back in the house and starts crying. Chris hugs her and she says she cannot cook a cougar.
            As time goes on Kay tries her hardest at house work. She tries cooking biscuits and they come out all weird. A high wind comes through and brings dust into the house. On that very day her writing partner Jed comes to the house. He tells her he wants her to come back to New York to help him write songs for a play. Kay’s face lights up with the thought of returning to the city to work on music again. She does not see the harm in going to a while to make some money but she tells Jed she will get back to him. Chris comes home that night completely wiped out. He tells Kay that before her he would go to bed dirty and with an empty stomach. The girls had heard that Kay might be going back to New York and tell their father. Kay walks in and says she is not going anywhere.
            Chris had gone out one day and found a watering hole on his property was bone dry. He tells Kay is going to tell Mears once and for all that he needs more water than what he is being given. Kay and the family friend Jean go into town. Some well to do annoying dude ranchers come into the store where the women are as well as Mears. The ranchers bring in their noisy annoying grandkids and they wreck the place. The ranchers tell Mears that they bought a ranch not far from him. Mears hates the thought of the those dude ranchers being anywhere near him. Kay uses this to her advantage by telling Mears Chris was thinking of selling his ranch to them because there is no water coming in. Mears quickly goes home and draws up rights to the water supply for Chris.
            The next day Chris tells Kay he wants her to go out hunting with him and his friends. The following morning Kay wakes up to find the men all gone and the real reason they brought her was so she could make breakfast. While she is alone she thinks she hears a cougar and shoots it. When Chris and the men come back they find Kay killed Mears’s prize bull. Now Chris will never get the water he needs. They argue and Kay decides to go back to New York.
'Never A Dull Moment'
            Chris travels with the rodeo again to make money. Kay and Jed have been working on material. The music is supposed to be about New York but Kay cannot keep her mind out of the west and the ranch. They both think they hear spurs clinking but that it is only their imaginations until her dog goes nuts hearing them as well. They open the door and Nan and Tina storm in hugging Kay. Orvie carried Chris up the stairs. Chris and Kay both realize they have been lost without each other and get back together.
'Never A Dull Moment'
            Irene Dunne was fabulous. And I mean fabulous as in her acting because she never acted terribly in her films and fabulous as in she was fifty-two years old when she made this film and she looked incredible. I loved how she was not afraid to get dirty and get put through the ringer as actress for certain comedic scenes. According to IMDB Dunne took over the role when Myrna Loy passed it over. There is no way in hell I could have seen Myrna Loy in this role. Dunne was so classy and sophisticated but she was not so classy and sophisticated like Loy who you cannot imagine doing a role like this. Dunne just had that great comedic touch and silliness that made her believable in the role. All I have to say about Fred MacMurray is that he was good. He did not leave an impact on me at all.
publicity - with Fred MacMurray
            Never a Dull Moment is a really cute comedy. It is not one of Irene Dunne’s best comedy films but she is so amazing and so funny in all her scenes. She truly looked out of place on a ranch setting and it just makes her more believable. Never a Dull Moment is not available on DVD nor is it on Youtube. If TCM airs the film again definitely watch it. 
publicity -with Fred MacMurray

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Out of the Fog (1941)

“The man that collects the money always comes.”

            Out of the Fog was really boring. I think I grew bored with the film like ten minutes into it. The story was not too great and John Garfield or his character was just outrageously annoying. You know what now that I think about it both actor and character were annoying to no end. There were too many aspects of the film that were bothersome to sit through there was really nothing I liked about it.
            The story takes place on the docks of Brooklyn. Jonah Goodwin (Thomas Mitchell) and his friend Olaf Johnson are fishermen. They dream of owning a large boat that is for sale so they can sail down to the Gulf of Mexico and catch all the large fish they can possibly find.
            On the pier a man named Harold Goff (Garfield) sets fire to a boat to convince some of the fishermen to buy protection from him. Harold eventually corners Jonah and Olaf and forces them to buy his protection for five dollars a week. Harold sees Jonah’s daughter Stella (Ida Lupino) in a local restaurant and starts following her around. He hears that she wants more out of life she does not want to stay around the pier and have a typical life with her boyfriend George (Eddie Bracken).
            Stella starts going out with Harold having no idea what he is doing to her father and Olaf. At some point Stella told Harold that her father was giving her one hundred and ninety dollars to go away to Cuba to get away. Harold just hears the money and goes to Jonah and Harold for it. Jonah gets fed up and calls for the police but nothing happens to Harold because he pulls out a contract he forced the men to sign at gun point.
            Jonah realizes the only way to get Harold off their back is to kill him. He and Olaf take Harold out into the middle of the harbor where they make like their engine has seized. Harold starts getting upset and nervous because he cannot swim. He stands up and accidentally goes overboard.
            I think the police find Harold’s death was an accident I am not sure because by this time I just zoned out and lost track of what was going on.
            Thomas Mitchell, John Qualen, and Ida Lupino were the only good actors in the whole film. Lupino was not even really that good she was a little too over dramatic but still she was good compared to most of the others. She was barely in the film and she gets top billing. Warners was dumb they knew who drew in the money for the studio. John Garfield as I said was annoying I could not stand him after one minute of him being on the screen.
            Out of the Fog is not a long film, but because it was slow and boring it felt like it took forever. Humphrey Bogart was supposed to have John Garfield’s part but Ida Lupino did not want to work with him again and got her way (at twenty- three years old she had a lot of pull at Warner Bros.). Bogart was upset but I think after the film was released he should thanked her because he would not have been right for the role at all. Out of the Fog is only a film I would recommend seeing if you are a huge fan of Ida Lupino or John Garfield other than them skip it completely. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Silent Sundays: The Haunted Castle (1921)

Let me start off by saying there is no haunted castle in The Haunted Castle. I read somewhere that the title was not translated well and it is obvious once you watch the film that the castle is not haunted. Well maybe in a way the place is; it is haunted with memories and guilt. Ah, I get it now I thought the title out, took me a while to figure that out.
            I had a little trouble following the plot. Looking back I have no idea why but I did. So from what I was able to absorb a group of men are gathered at a castle owned by a man named Vogeloed for a hunting party that got rained out. A man named Count Oetsch comes to the party uninvited. Oetsch has been convicted of a crime by the rumor of a local judge of killing his own brother. His brother’s wife Baroness Safferstätt and her new husband have been invited to the party. Oetsch plans to have the Baroness confess to what happened to his brother and his plan is genius.
            The film is not that long to really write a synopsis of the plot and to give too much away. Thinking back on the film and the plot it really was very good and I feel maybe ahead of its time. The plot is heavy for a silent film and the story is a story that would not be done again for a long time (possibly I am just saying this based on my current film studies knowledge please correct me I am wrong I do not mind).
            The Haunted Castle is currently on Youtube. The more I see of German silent films the more I admire their filmmaking and style and their stories. The Haunted Castle had a good story that has been done since but not in the same style. There is a definite chilling sense of mystery and suspense. The Haunted Castle is not a silent film I would rush to watch but if you have the time and want to see a different kind of silent film head over and give it a go. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ghosts Italian Style (1969)

For some time now I have been interested in seeing a Sophie Loren movie. I have been curious to see what the big deal is about her since she has been named one of AFI’s top twenty-five greatest actresses of all time. I personally believe Loren and a few other actresses are on the list because they are icons and known for their beauty not so much their acting skills. I will stop there because I have already written my opinion about AFI’s lists of actors and actresses. Anyway… I found Sophie Loren’s movie Ghosts- Italian Style on TCM and I decided to give it a try.
            Maria (Loren) and Pasquale have fallen on hard times. They went through some (unexplained) hard times and are left with barely any money. Pasquale was walking home when he bought a fortune that luck is starring him in the face if he looks. He turns around and finds he is standing in front of an old palace. A man named Raffael tells Pasqual that he can live in the palace and the owner will pay him to live in it and eventually sell it. Raffael also tells him that the ghost of the Duke who built the palace in the seventeenth century is said to haunt it.
            In the meantime Maria goes to an orphanage called Holy Souls in Purgatory looking for the president Alfredo. Maria has been seeing Alfredo because she feels Pasquale neglects her. Alfredo tells her he loves her and wants to take her away.
            Pasquale does not tell Maria that the place is haunted. Raffael tells Pasquale that he had someone dust the palace and ten minutes later is dusty again. He tells Pasquale more things how the ghost does not like to hear anyone complain and most importantly that things disappear and reappear all the time. A large closet comes in. When Pasquale is out of the room Alfredo comes out of the closet telling Maria he loves her and has all the money they could ever need to go away. Pasquale is coming back into the room and Alfredo goes back into the closet. The door slowly opens revealing Alfredo. Pasquale thinks Alfredo is a ghost and asks Maria if she sees anyone but trying to get out of the situation she says no and leaves the room. Alfredo walks out of the closet and his back with the money opens and money falls out. Pasquale sees this as a sign from God and takes the money.
            Pasquale uses the money to transform some their part of the palace into a boarding house. Raffael has rented the room upstairs to Alfredo. Pasquale thinks Alfredo walking around is the ghost. Pasquale thinking Alfredo is the duke goes to have a look around. Alfredo walks through a passage down to Maria. Pasquale writes on the fireplace that if the ghost does not give him a few thousand lire. Maria thinks that Pasquale knows about her and Alfredo and she gets really mad at him.
            Things begin to go a little crazy and I lost interest because it was getting a bit ridiculous. It gets to the point where it looks like Pasquale has killed Maria in a rage of jealousy when he finds out Maria has been cheating on him with Alfred. Seven months later after the trial and some jail time he goes back to palace. Surprisingly if you did not see it coming Maria comes out from the passage. They faked her death for some reason I did not catch. Maria and Pasquale make up very nicely. She tells him she is going to make him breakfast but she has to get some oil. Alfredo has made a shrine to her down in the sewers where her body was apparently dumped and he has an internal flame. He notices some stole the olive oil in the lamp the day before. Maria was the one who took the oil and she is seen by Alfredo. Alfredo thinks she is an angel and she plays along. She has him give her money. The money allows her and Pasquale to leave the country. They find work in an old castle in Scotland where they have a real life ghost encounter.
            Ghost- Italian Style was silly and after a while it got to be too much. The last ten minutes I found to be the funniest when Alfredo sees Maria and thinks she is a ghost and when Pasquale and Maria sees an actual ghost. Sophie Loren was not a completely terrible actress but she was not the best. She was absolutely beautiful. If TCM ever happens to air Ghosts- Italian Style give it a try because it was a good story. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Talk of the Town (1942)

“What is the law? It's a gun pointed at somebody's head. All depends upon which end of the gun you stand, whether the law is just or not.”

            When I read the summary for Talk of the Town I was expecting the film to be a long straight forward drama. I should have known a bit better since Jean Arthur one of the funniest classic actresses and Cary Grant are in the film together… although they had made the drama Only Angels Have Wings which was not that great. Anyway, honestly I watched the film mostly because I was looking for something different to watch and I found it on Youtube and I wanted to watch it before it disappeared. I had an excellent time watching Talk of the Town it was a perfect mix of seriousness and comedy.
            The film begins with a fire at a factory and a man dying in the fire. The fire and the death are immediately blamed on Leopold Dilg (Grant). Leopold escapes from jail. He evades the police long enough to run to the home of a woman he had grown up with. Nora Shelley (Arthur) was at her former house that she and her mother are renting out to someone the next day when Leopold shows up. She is not happy to see him but has no choice to keep him in the house after he collapses from running and the pain in his ankle.
            Not long after there is a knock on the door. Nora rushes Leopold to the attic. Standing outside is the renter a law professor named Michael Lightcap (Ronald Coleman). Nora keeps Michael outside for a few minutes to allow Leopold to get to the attic. She is freaking out a little bit because Michael was not supposed to be at the house until the following day. All Michael wants is to go to sleep he is very tired. He tells Nora not to slam the door on her way out but she slams the door and runs back upstairs to Leopold. When Michael wakes up in the middle of the night for another blanket he sees Nora is still in the house. She tells him that she and her mother have had a fight and she had planned to stay the night to give her some space from her mother. Michael gives her pajamas to sleep in. During the rest of the night Leopold can be heard snoring very loudly in the attic. Michael thinks the snoring is coming from Nora and tells her in the morning.
            In the morning Leopold’s lawyer comes to the house explaining that Leopold was set up for the fire and the murder the owner of the factory hated him. Michael does not want anything to do with the case he is on vacation to write a book. At this point everyone and their mother comes to the house either reporters or furniture movers or the police. When everyone leaves Nora tells Michael she can be his stenographer and cook so she can stay in the house for Leopold. He reluctantly agrees.
            One day as Michael was dictating a letter to Nora outside she sees Leopold come downstairs from the attic looking for food. He cannot help but put in his two cents about law and philosophy. Nora quickly pulls herself together telling Michael that Leopold is the gardener Joseph. The same day the senator comes by the house to tell Michael that the President of the United States has named him (Michael) as a judge of the Supreme Court. All he has to do is stay out of the papers.
            As the days go by Leopold and Michael become very good friends. He has Nora take Michael places to see how corrupt the town is with their views on Leopold. The judge of the case already has his mind made up that Leopold is guilty without hearing the evidence. The police get a tip that Leopold is at Nora’s house after Michael and Nora order food from a deli of something only he gets. Michael finds out who Leopold really is but when he goes to call the police Leopold punches him out.
            To make a very long story short Michael and Nora help to get the man who was supposed to be dead and expose the corrupt judge as well as the factory owner.
            I loved the way Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, and Ronald Coleman all worked together they were excellent. You can tell they all got along (well I hope they got along it seems like they did) and had good chemistry. I like seeing Cary Grant play a seemingly bad guy but turns out to be good. That did not work too well for him in Suspicion but that aspect works very well for him here. Jean Arthur was a panic. She was a neurotic mess. She was the comedic break of the film. I was cracking up when she woke up the morning after Leopold and Michael came to the house and she was in Michael’s pajamas. She was looking at herself in the mirror and doing a little act that was so cute and hysterical. The whole scene where she is in Michael’s pajamas was adorable everyone kept commenting. Ronald Coleman was just charming and sweet. I can listen to the man talk all day he is the kind of actor that can make the phone book sound interesting. Coleman was in his fifties by this time and he did not look like it at all he was still incredibly handsome.
            Talk of the Town while a little long and drawn out in some parts especially at the end was very good and very entertaining. The story was not bad at all. The characters and the actors were perfect. Talk of the Town is still on Youtube so watch it if you can before it gets taken down.