StinkyLulu’s Smackdown: 1992

I was once again charmed with the opportunity to participate in StinkyLulu’s excellent Supporting Actress Smackdown series, and this year was a great one: 1992. Don’t remember it off the top of your head? Two words: Marisa Tomei. You have to go read the comments and reviews on StinkyLulu’s post! This is one of the best entries in an always-outstanding series. Alex’s video is great, too, as always. So stop reading here and go there! So, for good or ill (probably ill) I have some theories about why Tomei won in 1992. And these theories don’t involve a drunken Jack Palance. As Stinkylulu said, it’s surprising that Tomei was nominated, but not surprising she won. I completely agree, and I think that is the most apt thing anyone has ever said about this controversial win. I can’t tell you why she was nominated. I have no clue. But when looking at the other nominees, it seems as though most of them had a “reason” for losing. “Reason” is in quotes because I don’t think the Oscars have ever been about performances alone, they’ve been about image and politics and favorites, and the reasoning behind half of their awards eludes me to the point that I sometimes think there was no reason at all. Joan Plowright in “Enchanted April” gave a good performance, but this was a pretty light film that started out as a made-for-TV film in the UK. The Academy hates the stink of television on their precious movies. … Continue reading

Bette Davis Project #4: Bordertown (1935)

Bordertown (1935) Paul Muni is Johnny Ramirez, a poor Latino living in L.A. who has just earned his law degree by spending 5 years in night school. His first real case comes when an elderly neighbor is hit by a drunk driver, the exceptionally racist and spoiled Dale Ewell (Margaret Lindsay) and her boyfriend lawyer, who was also in the car at the time. The boyfriend lawyer and judge in the case are classist, racist jerks — as is Dale, who sketches Johnny during the trial and titles the drawing “savage” — and Johnny loses the case, more out of bigotry than his inexperience. When the boyfriend lawyer continues to insult him, Johnny loses his temper and decks him. The judge and boyfriend make sure that Johnny is immediately disbarred. Johnny (and the movie) decide that the problem wasn’t racism, it was money, so Johnny heads south to Bordertown to become rich and powerful in revenge. At first he works as a bouncer for Charlie Roark (Eugene Pallette) but quickly becomes indispensable and a partner in the casino. Meanwhile Charlie’s wife, Marie (Bette Davis), has eyes for Johnny, but he doesn’t reciprocate. Bette does the best with what she is given in this film, which seems to be par for the course in many of the movies before “Dangerous”. Despite her critically acclaimed performance in “Of Human Bondage” she didn’t seem to get many solid roles. She spends most of her time off screen but positively exploding when she appears, … Continue reading

I like movies, except when I don’t


I’ve been on a movie kick lately, because my beloved laptop has gone tits up and there’s nothing else to do in the living room except watch movies. And when I say “movie kick”, I mean more than the normal 20-odd movies I watch per month. The problem, though, is that I’ve recorded a bunch of movies that suck on toast. Well, let me back up: I haven’t watched the entire movie in most cases, so the film may actually not suck on toast. It may be brilliant. Perhaps these films include giant mechanical spiders, which automatically elevate any boring old movie to genius level. That was Orson Welles’ big secret, you know. Giant mechanical spiders. They always stole the scene from Joseph Cotten, which is why he eventually went mad and invented Cherry Garcia ice cream. But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. These are the films I’ve recently been unable to finish, some because they might, perhaps, just maybe, suck out loud:1. Danger Lights (1930) – I should have known that this was going to blow when I saw in the opening credits that Hugh “Captain Mumblypants” Herbert was the fucking dialogue director for this film. Come on, people. Hugh Herbert? The mumblemumbleWOOWOO guy? I actually wrote down a couple of things Alan Roscoe said in this film, which I think you’ll enjoy: “Whine on you mumpus menargh!” and “What is the shoe doo, bupuko bakah?” Great job directing the dialogue, Hugh! Alan Roscoe doesn’t … Continue reading

The Kitteh in teh Lake


I discovered today that my kitteh Petey’s favorite movie is “The Lady in the Lake” (1946). He usually never pays attention to the TV, but he couldn’t stop staring at the movie today, especially when Audrey Totter was on screen. He even ran up to the TV to try to catch her when her bracelet shone particularly brightly. Audrey Totter is friend to kittehs everywhere!

Bette Davis Project #3: Housewife (1934)

Housewife (1934): Bill Reynolds (George Brent) and wife Nan (Ann Dvorak) are happily married but struggling financially and quite frustrated with everyday irritations. Nan tries to get Bill to apply for better jobs because she’s disappointed that he is such a milquetoast, and of course this attitude strains their marriage further. Bill’s new, highly-paid supervisor Patricia (Bette Davis) had been friends with Bill and Nan in high school. Bill had been BMOC and Patricia admired him, then left town heartbroken when he married Nan. Several years later she’s made a name for herself and is back in the old hometown, while Bill is still in a go-nowhere job and refusing to take risks. Ironically, Alfred E Green, who directed this film and many other 1930s Bette Davis films, always seemed the kind of director who never tried new things. He wasn’t the kind of guy to take a risk and improve himself, at least not that I can tell in his films. Green’s films are forgettable unless a performance or something specific in the material stands out from his reliable, unimaginative direction; “Central Airport” is a good example of the forgettable, while “Baby Face” is a good example of the performances raising the quality of the film despite the director. Considering the contrast between Bill’s lack of ambition in this film and Patricia’s exciting, upwardly-mobile career, I wonder if Patricia’s arrival was supposed to trigger Bill’s desire to better himself. It’s not specifically played that way, though, so we’ll never … Continue reading

Counting Down the Zeroes: Gosford Park (2001)

Ibetolis at Film for the Soul is more than just a gifted blogger with an ambitious project, he is also the model of patience. As part of the Counting Down the Zeroes series, I was fortunate enough to again participate with a post about “Gosford Park” (2001) — a post that was a solid week late, thanks to family issues and my struggle to figure out just what I thought about Altman’s film. Below is my review for “Gosford Park”, as originally appeared at Film for the Soul. While you’re there, take time to read the rest of the wonderful reviews for the years 2000 and 2001. You’ll see why Counting Down the Zeroes was nominated as Best Blog-a-thon/Meme for the 2009 LAMMYs. *** “Gosford Park” isn’t an immediately impressive film. When released, publicity called it an English murder mystery turned upside down, made into something it never had been before. I knew the English manor house mystery genre well and was excited at the prospect of a new take on an old friend. After so much anticipation, I watched the film and found myself frustrated and sad when the entire experience was flat and dull. In the intervening years I’d decided it was a film I needed to view again. I was so sure I’d missed the big Something that “Gosford Park” had wowed everyone else with. But now I know that, for good or ill, that big Something was only a phantom. There is no reason to go … Continue reading

Barbara Leonard

A little art deco glamour: Barbara Leonard from Monsieur le Fox (1930)

Boeing Boeing (1965)

I officially give up on 1960s sex comedies. Enough is enough.“Boeing Boeing” (1965), also known as “Boeing (707) Boeing (707)”, is a sex comedy starring Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis. Curtis plays Bernard, a reporter in Paris who has an apartment he shares with 3 female flight attendants. None of these women know anything about each other; they’re all lead to believe this is their permanent home and that Bernard is their fiance. He makes sure they’re all away at the appropriate times by keeping strict control of their schedules and noting the times when they’re away on their respective flight schedules. This is skeevy enough, but his maid Bertha (Thelma Ritter doing the same damn role she did in every movie she made) helps him in his scheme. She changes out the ladies’ underwear so the German woman doesn’t accidentally find the French woman’s bras, changes the photo in the living room to the appropriate girlfriend, stuff like that. Even takes the blame when something suspicious happens so that the girlfriends hate her and think she’s the cause of all the weird goings-on. Bertha’s ire is almost always directed at the women, too, while she’s just moderately frustrated with Bernard. Not skeevy enough? Good, there’s more! Bernard’s acquaintance Robert (Jerry Lewis) arrives and decides he likes the set-up so much he’s going to steal it from him. Not just the apartment, but the three girlfriends and even Bertha, who he lies to in an extended scene where he tries … Continue reading

Fashions of 1920


I was watching part of “Within Our Gates” (1920) last night — only part of it because my disk had run out of room about an hour into recording, so I was a wee bit peeved — but I was absolutely enamored of the fashions of that era. Sylvia especially has a gorgeous white dress in the early part of the film. I’m not usually into fashion of any era, but I was so struck with Sylvia’s dress that I thought I’d do a little fashion spam post. This is Evelyn Preer, who played Sylvia in “Within Our Gates”. (sauce: Omega418 on flickr) She’s so gorgeous. She was reportedly one of the best actresses of her day, but sadly very few of her films survive. Sylvia’s dress in the movie looked a lot like Bess Truman’s, seen here in her 1919 wedding to some guy named Harry. I think he did something once. Maybe a couple of somethings. Here are some patterns of dresses very similar to ones seen in “Within Our Gates”. Alma, the supporting female role, wears a suit almost exactly like the one on the right. (sauce – some fun early fashion stuff here) Another set of patterns. So pretty. Sylvia had a coat in the film a lot like the woman on the left does. Photo circa 1925. (sauce) A 1920 fashion study by photographer Baron de Meyer. Beautiful. (Update March 2010: A terrific link on de Meyer here at Aesthetes Lament, courtesy Dfordoom of Cult … Continue reading

Marie Prevost

A little Marie Prevost cheesecake brightens anyone’s day.