January 16, 2014

Zoolander (2001)

I thought Zoolander (in essence, a comic take on The Manchurian Candidate) was an Adam Sandler movie so I never saw it. When I was informed that it was Ben Stiller and not the aforementioned, I found it immediately, watched it, and loved it! All white guys look alike.

January 9, 2014

Hedy Lamarr as a Nymphomaniac

Dishonored Lady is a 1947 potboiler in which the ravishing, patent-owning Hedy Lamarr, without so much as uttering the word, plays a nymphomaniac who seeks the help of a psychiatrist. Although timely in its themes (for example, Lamarr works in a man's job), the public domain movie plays out as one might expect from post-code Hollywood: love and marriage and murder (not in that order). The final scene almost plagiarizes the final scene of Casablanca - interesting considering the producers of the 1936 Joan Crawford vehicle Letty Lynton were convicted of plagiarizing the play version of Dishonored Lady causing the Crawford film to be pulled from circulation to this date.

January 6, 2014

It Happened One Christmas (1977)

It Happened One Christmas, the rarely-aired 1977 gender-reversed remake of It's A Wonderful Life was the first Frank Capra movie I saw; in other words, the television movie is pretty much a shot-by-shot copy of the classic original - with the same artificial snow and some small script modifications. Fortunately, the story is so strong that this version stands on it's own as a pleasant tale. Producer Marlo Thomas (who as lead actor channels her future television daughter, Jennifer Aniston) also made the right decisions in hiring Orson Welles (as Mr. Potter) for gravitas, Cloris Leachman (as angel Clara Oddbody) for humor and Wayne Rogers (as Mary Bailey's other half) for banality.

January 4, 2014

This Gun For Hire (1942)

This Gun For Hire, the 1942 film noir, is at times hopelessly propagandized, ridiculously out-dated, magically tuneful, screamingly over-the-top and miraculously riveting. In the film that made him a star (and with a part that belies his fourth billing), Alan Ladd creates the template for hired killers by stroking kittens, slapping women, killing men and seeking revenge while packing an unstoppable punch; the monologue in which Ladd recounts a battered childhood was an emotionally draining experience for both of us. Veronica Lake is the sultry songstress who becomes his redemption and Robert Preston is her guy and although you always know how this one will end, the last twenty or so minutes is a nicely paced, pulse-racing chase scene with great black and white cinematography that is not as expected.