Saturday, July 17, 2021

Summer Indulgence: June Recap

The best laid plans... Here are some of the movies I caught on the Criterion Channel in June because it was easier to flip on a streaming movie than open up the player and pop in a disc. That pretty much says it all for how June went for me.

Experiment in Terror (1962)

Glenn Ford, Lee Remick, Stefanie Powers and Ross Martin come together for a shadowy crime thriller from Blake Edwards that is a must see. Once I started watching it, I realized I had seen it before, which is a true testament to the unreliability of my memory, since it is not an easy film to forget. This is why I need to write these things down. Fortunately, it's a great movie to see again. The opening scene is worth the price of admission and will have you thinking of David Lynch. 

Days of Wine and Roses (1962)

Another Blake Edwards movie with Lee Remick, Jack Lemmon and Jack Klugman. A social drinker turns his wife on to booze and the good times quickly turn sour. Interesting to see Jack Lemmon not be funny. It's a good movie, but not the kind of film that makes me want to go back for seconds. 

No Man of Her Own (1950) 

A Mitchell Leisen film with Barbara Stanwyck and John Lund, not to be confused with 1932 version which is an entirely different story with Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. A woman gets knocked up and dumped by her boyfriend. She meets a nice newlywed couple on a train, and is mistaken for the woman, who is also pregnant, when the couple is killed in a train accident. While she initially tries to clear up the mistaken identity, she soon realizes that being taken in by the wealthy parents will be what's best for her newborn's future. She's placed in jeopardy when her old beau decides to show up and blackmail her. An engaging film with an interesting ending. 

Darling, How Could You! (1951)

Another Mitchell Leisen film with John Lund and Joan Fontaine. A doctor and his wife have been away for five years curing diseases during the construction of the Panama Canal while their three children are cared for by a nanny in their absence, which makes for some awkward interactions upon their return. Their teenage daughter inadvertently sees a play about an unfaithful wife, causing her to assume her mother is having an affair after overhearing a phone conversation with a male friend. It was a bizarre story, and only somewhat funny when the daughter goes to break up the assumed affair. I didn't care much for this one.

The Mark of Zorro (1940)

A Rouben Mamoulian movie with Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, and Basil Rathbone. I think I enjoyed Tyrone Power playing the part of a useless dandy even more than being a masked crusader. Wonderful filmography in this picture, and though I'm quite fond of Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes, it's always fun to see him relish the role of villain. This is an infinitely rewatchable film.

Mr.& Mrs. Smith (1941)

A Hitchcock comedy with Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery that has a married couple learn that they're not really married because of a technicality. Before learning this inconvenient information, the husband foolishly admits to the wife that he wouldn't marry her if he had it to do all over again, so when she finds out that they're not really married, she decides to let him go, kicks him out, and begins dating his best friend. He sets about trying to win her back, but has little success. It's a curio in the Hitchcock filmography that's entertaining for what it is. There is a requisite Hitchcock cameo lest you forget who was directing this atypical film. 

The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956)

This was one of three in a collection of Jane Russell films on the Criterion Channel and was directed by Raoul Walsh. I had never seen any of her films, and ended up watching all three, beginning with this one. Mamie Stover is a prostitute who gets run out of San Francisco and ends up on a boat to Hawaii, where she meets and falls in love with a writer, who expects her to change her ways in exchange for his love, but her desire for money puts her at odds with her new boyfriend. Jane Russell gets to show off her assets in some lovely fashions. There is a frightening portrayal of the Pearl Harbor attack and a great appearance by Agnes Moorhead. It was an enjoyable film, though probably not one I'd revisit. 

Macao (1952)

Josef von Sternberg began directing this film, but was fired by Howard Hughes during the making of it and replaced by Nicholas Ray. Jane Russell, Robert Mitchum, William Bendix and Gloria Grahame make for an entertaining cast of characters to watch. It's a nice noir adventure with a drifter, a salesman, and a singer arriving by ship to Macao, where a crime boss has been making sure any police detectives who come after him to interfere with his jewel smuggling business don't leave alive. He knows a detective has just arrived by ship, and goes after the guy who is also making time with the beautiful singer he's just hired. It was an engaging movie with all the shadowy shots I love to see. 

His Kind of Woman (1951)

Of the three Jane Russell films I saw, this is the one I enjoyed the most. Directed by John Farrow, with Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, Vincent Price, Jim Backus and Raymond Burr. A professional gambler is offered a lot of money to go to Mexico, and is told the details of the job will be provided when he gets there. He meets up with an interesting group of people, including a lovely singer who is dating a well known actor, and soon finds out that his job is to provide a gangster with his identity to enable him to return to the United States. Vincent Price steals the show throughout, but especially during a suspenseful ending. I highly recommend this film.

Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

A stylish, thought provoking film directed by Otto Preminger with Jimmy Stuart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Eve Arden, George C. Scott, and Murray Hamilton. A soldier kills a man he believes to have raped and beaten his wife and is defended by a small town lawyer. This is one of the best courtroom dramas I've seen portrayed in film, with an amazing score by Duke Ellington. Don't miss seeing this one. 

Thelma & Louise (1991)

A Ridley Scott film with Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon, Harvey Keitel and Brad Pitt. What starts out as a fun getaway vacation for two gal pals turns into a crime spree. I haven't seen this film in over 20 years and wanted to peer back into that era. It's still an interesting and relevant film.

During the month of June, I've also been revisiting The Twilight Zone and Sherlock Holmes in print, TV and film, and continuing to update My Film Collection while shelving recent arrivals and acquisitions. At the same time, I am finally getting around to working on The Invaders, now that my adventures in Dark Shadows is about to finally wrap up with Night of Dark Shadows in the next few weeks. Since Brother John has kindly donated some films he was shocked to hear I had not seen, there will be some days coming dedicated to John Carpenter and George Romero. I also hope to dig into more film noir, French film, and silent movies, and finally get around to indulging myself properly.


Don said...

Are Robert Montgomery and Carole Lombard usually better than in Mr. & Mrs. Smith? I found the film decent enough, but they were nothing special to be so famous.

Two great ones just seen on Criterion: I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang and The Ox-Bow Incident.

Might watch The Story of Louis Pasteur tonight. Just the idea that they made a movie about him amuses me.

Christine said...

Lombard and Montgomery may not have paired well with Hitchcock's subtle humor or they may be an acquired taste, though I've enjoyed them both more in some of their other films. If you like black comedy, check out "To Be or Not to Be" with Lombard on CC.

Thanks for the recommendations, Don. I am hoping to get around to more of the films in the Paul Muni collection. The Ox-Bow Incident is on my watchlist, as I've enjoyed many a William Wellman film.

For something completely different, check out Lois Weber's "Suspense" on CC. It's an 11 minute thriller from 1913 that is pretty impressive, and one I've written up here. You might also want to see the pre-code film Murder at the Vanities if you can before it leaves July 31st: "A grisly murder, nearly nude chorines, and a razzle-dazzle ode to marijuana all feature in this outrageous musical mystery..." It's no Busby Berkeley, but it's a sight to see for sure. Just a warning, that marihuana song will really stick with you.

Don said...

At 11 minutes, I had to watch Suspense right away. It was great -- amazing how much they had figured out by 1913. So much of it reminded me of Body Double that I rewatched last week -- split screen, suspense, overwrought score, running/driving to the scene of the crime, shot composition. Maybe DePalma was not ripping off Hitchcock after all.

Christine said...

I wonder if it's possible that Hitchcock mined some ideas from Lois Weber himself.

I AM A FUGITIVE... was awesome! That surely put some depression into the Depression. I have a special fondness for movies that don't feel obligated to provide a Hollywood ending.