Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

The failures of the women in Woolf are reflective of the time in which it was made, which is ironic, considering this was very clearly intended to be an indictment of America’s sociocultural clime. It succeeds as being timeless far better than almost any other social consciousness film, and certainly is one of Albee’s best in this regard, but the need for the play to destroy Honey and Martha is telling. Continue reading

Bulldog Drummond (1929) and Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951)

Bulldog Drummond (1929) was not the first film based on the popular British character, but it was the first talking film, and thanks to being a product of Sam Goldwyn’s exacting (though sometimes baffling) standards, it’s probably one of the best early talkies made. It’s fun and exciting and shockingly modern, with a camera that moves and audio that’s easy to hear and jokes that don’t fall flat — you can’t say that about most early talkies. Continue reading

The Man and the Moment (1929)

The big surprise here is that, despite its many flaws, The Man and the Moment is still a lot of fun to watch. Maybe not entirely for the reasons it was meant to be fun — La Rocque channels Franklin Pangborn a lot and I find that charming and fascinating — but at this late date, who’s to quibble? Just being able to watch the film is a fantastic thing. Continue reading

Suspicion (1941) on Blu-ray from Warner Archive

If you’ve seen Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion (1941), and you probably have, you know that by the end we discover it was all just a big misunderstanding. Golly! Continue reading

Brotherly Love (Country Dance, 1970)

Brotherly Love has been saddled with the label “tragicomedy” for decades, though there is very little outright comedy here, just wry observations and O’Toole waving his arms about more than usual. Essentially, York and O’Toole both give fine performances while both seemingly failing to understand the humor in all of this. Though the screenplay was written by Kennaway, it feels like an inferior adaptation, and O’Toole’s role feels like a rehearsal for The Ruling Class (1972). Continue reading

Not So Dumb (1930)

With an ex-con butler, silly parlour games and a house full of whackadoos, Not So Dumb is a direct ancestor to the screwball comedies that would become popular in the late 1930s. Dulcy’s jangly bracelets are reminiscent of Mame Dennis’ acting debut and plot points seen in Not So Dumb are used again and again in films like Arsenic and Old Lace, Holiday, The Philadelphia Story, and others. And for those of you who think Gone With the Wind was the first instance of a mainstream film using naughty, naughty swears, note that Mr. Forbes, the cranky businessman, declares, “I don’t care a damn about pictures!” And he doesn’t stop there. Continue reading

The Woman in White (1948)

Woman in White is a post-Code lurid Gothic horror, and as such pushes its own boundaries within the genre, mostly through the character of Count Fosco. It’s interesting to note that the film was made in 1946 and not released until 1948, when standards had lessened to a degree; I can’t imagine Frederick’s assertion that he personally has no problem with pre-marital sex being allowed in a film in 1946. But concessions were apparently made to appease the Production Code, and by the time the useless and unstable Frederick reveals himself to be a libertine, he’s been so sufficiently coded as evil and gay that his open-mindedness is easy to overlook. Continue reading

Completely Delightful Nonsense: Marion Davies in The Florodora Girl (1930)

Not precisely a revival nor a biopic, the 1930 Marion Davies vehicle The Florodora Girl takes little more than a name and the vague idea of a Florodora Girl and transplants her into pre-Code Hollywood, and to strange, though not uninteresting, effect. So light at times that it looks as though it will blow away, reviewer Creighton Peet of The Outlook dubbed The Florodora Girl as “completely delightful nonsense.” Continue reading

Station West (1948)

While the link between Westerns and noir films is well documented, very few films have been as literal as Station West in borrowing tropes from one genre and superimposing them onto another. Continue reading

Darling Lili (1970)

Darling Lili is a beautiful film, with some fine aerial shots during the battle scenes, some truly fantastic costuming, plus gorgeous sets and lighting. Continue reading