Tuesday, June 13, 2017

1956 - THE KING AND FOUR QUEENS


All this western has going for it is the star power of Clark Gable because this is a fairly drab film.
Gable is a con man who shows up at a ranch run by 4 women and their battle axe of a mother in law in search of some buried gold.  Gable charms each of the woman in his search for the gold and that's about it for a story.

I suppose the idea was base the film around Gable's star power but approach probably called for a director who could bring out the personalities of the actors.  The director Raoul Walsh was probably not the ideal choice in this case.


The film was shot in Cinemascope which was probably not the best choice for an intimate chamber piece of a story.

86 minutes.

2017 - WONDER WOMAN, fell for the hype again.


Without a hair our of place Wonder Woman takes on the evil Germans during World War I in this way too long superhero film,

A lot has been made about the fact that the film stars a woman and was directed by a woman.   All this goes to prove is that women can make these boring cookie cutter superhero movies the same as any male director.


I'm surprised this film got such good reviews because I've already seen this movie several times before right down to the overblown action scenes.

When you finally get down to it I suppose Wonder Woman is as good a piece of junk as anything else in the theater this summer.

141 minutes.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

1947 - A DOUBLE LIFE, the kind of stuff they give awards out for.


A famous actor goes nuts while appearing in Othello and can't separate reality from his performance in the play.

Ronald Coleman a popular actor during the 1930's and 40's with a melodious voice is the actor.  The script was by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin so the theatrical backgrounds are well established.  The film was well directed by George Cukor who was known for getting good performances out of actors. 


The problem with this film is that it is just plain dumb. Coleman rolls his eyes and breaks out into a sweat as he descends into madness.  The fact that no one seems to notice he is off his rocker until about the last 20 minutes of the film is really ridiculous.

This is the kind of stuff people win Academy Awards for.  Lots of hysterics from the leading man.  A musical score that borders on the melodramatic from Miklos Rosza and of course a death scene to make sure everyone in the audience knows what great acting they are watching.

104 minutes.


1941 - I WANTED WINGS, Army Air Force film with a ridiculous plot.


This film was made as a tribute to the Army Air Corps and shows what is involved in training men to become pilots for the upcoming war.  This film also has one of the most ridiculous soap operaish plots that takes any sincerity the film is trying to promote and crashes it into the ground not unlike some of the pilots during their training.

Ray Milland is the rich kid trying to prove himself by enlisting in the Air Corps.  William Holden looking very young is the grease monkey mechanic hoping to better his social standing.  Veronica Lake is the bad girl they both get involved with.  The plot has Lake attempting to ruin the career of Milland if he doesn't marry her.  To keep Milland out of trouble Holden marries her instead which leads to all sorts of complications.  It ends up with Lake stowing away on Milland's bomber during a training mission in a rather ridiculous climax.


As a film production I Wanted Wings looks great.  The special effects, photography and for the most part the acting aren't bad.  But man oh man what a ridiculous story line.  Veronica Lake as the bad girl is hot and this ridiculous part made her a box office star for a brief period during the 1940's.

Needless to say a film as dumb as this made a lot of money.  Never under estimate the movie going public. 

135 minutes.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

1954 - SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, a high point for the MGM musical


An acknowledged classic MGM musical.  This film is unusual in that it is an original musical with music and choreography created especially for this film.


MGM had so little faith in this film that they cut the budget which accounts for some of the phony sets the actors perform against.  It turned out to be when of their biggest box office hits of that year beating out their overblown turkey Brigadoon.


The film was very well directed by Stanley Donen with the dances and musical numbers staged by Michael Kidd.  The dance numbers particularly the barn raising number are extremely well done.


A superior example of the Hollywood musical during the 1950's.

102 minutes.

1951 - SHOWBOAT, MGM updates an old musical


In 1936, Universal Studios made a version of Showboat that was directed by James Whale.  This version apparently follows the stage musical fairly closely.  MGM remade and updated it in the 1950's with some significant changes. 

The screenwriter an old Hollywood veteran named John Lee Mahin changed almost all of the dialog and condensed the action to have the lovers reunited while they are young instead of 40 years later.  MGM filmed Showboat in Technicolor and clearly poured a lot of money into the production.  They kept the Jerome Kern songs and hired Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson to belt out the score with their almost bombastic singing styles.


If you are looking for a version of Showboat as the ground breaking musical theater that it was in the 1920's this isn't it.  The racial issues that production addressed have been played down quite a bit and Julie the mixed racial tragic heroine is played by the very glamorous Ava Gardner,

Still the music is good the film looks great and the score is well sung.  The dancing in the film is from the then husband and wife team Marge and Gower Champion.  Overall this is a slick piece of MGM film making.

107 minutes.

1953 - KISS ME KATE, a good musical


MGM and director George Sidney did a very good job filming this Cole Porter musical.  The songs are good, the dancing is great and the film has that overall MGM polish that they always gave their films.

The starts were Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson who were acting together for the third time in a musical.  Grayson was a soprano and Keel was a baritone.  Their bombastic style made them a pretty good match when it came to singing together.


Kiss Me Kate is noted for the dancing and choreography of Bob Fosse.  Fosse did a little two minute bit where you can see the start of his finger snapping and strutting style.  But really all the dancers are  excellent particularly Ann Miller a very good tap dancer and Tommy Rall who was no slouch when it came to dancing.

The film was shot in the silly 3-D process then released flat as the bottom feel out of the 3-D market.  You can see the scenes where they are throwing stuff at the camera and other such nonsense but this doesn't distract from the quality of the film.

109 minutes