Sunday, May 24, 2015

May 23rd   
The Hollywood Revue of 1929       

(US 1929)                
MGM. 118m. bw(Technicolor sequences)

Extremely sluggish theatre-style revue complete with slowly parting curtains and total silent audience appreciation, one of MGM's more economical spectaculars using mostly mid-division stars in slightly out-of-character spots, including Laurel and Hardy, whose guest appearance is all too brief.

Written by: Al Boasberg, Robert E. Hopkins.
Producer: Harry Rapf.
Director: Charles F. Reisner.
Starring: Jack Benny, Conrad Nagel, Joan Crawford, Marion Davies, Marie Dressler, Polly Moran, Oliver Hardy, Stan Laurel, Bessie Love, Buster Keaton, Norma Shearer, John Gilbert, Lionel Barrymore, Gus Edwards, Ukelele Ike, and others.
Photography: John Arnold, Irving Ries, Maximilian Fabian.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

May 16th    
The Man Who Knew Too Much*   

(US 1955)                            

An American family on holiday in Marrakesh stumble into an assassination plot at London's Albert Hall.
Leisurely, surprisingly laborious and indulgent Hitchcock remake of his own 1934 original (qv), with varied locations and a good star teaming of James Stewart and Doris Day, but otherwise the best scenes were those from the original anyway.

Written by: John Michael Hayes, Angus MacPhail.
Producer/Director: Alfred Hitchcock.
Starring: James Stewart, Doris Day, Bernard Miles, Brenda de Banzie, Daniel Gelin, Ralph Truman, Alan Mowbray, Carolyn Jones, Christopher Olsen.
Photography: Robert Burks.
Music: Bernard Herrmann, Arthur Benjamin.

Preceded by:
Pathe News (1954)
(Jordan's Arab Legion Parade - Comet III - The Queen Comes Home.)

Friday, May 15, 2015

May 13th
The Wind and the Lion**      

(US 1975)                                          

In 1904 a rogue Arab kidnaps an American writer and her children, to cause ructions not only in Morocco but also internationally.
Stylish and evocatively made (hankering obviously after Lawrence of Arabia) historical adventure, with some interesting parallels with America's intervention in Vietnam then (in 1975), and its later involvement in the Middle East now - although the style, it has to be said, is very much Saturday Evening Post hyperbole, with action scenes rather thoughtlessly executed with little reason or meaning, in between Milius clearly enjoying his historical preaching from both Old world and New.

Written and Directed by: John Milius.
Producers: Herb Jaffe, Phil Rawlins.
Starring: Sean Connery, Candice Bergen, Brian Keith (as Theodore Roosevelt), Vladek Sheybal, Geoffrey Lewis, John Huston, Steve Kanaly, Nadim Sawalha.
Photography: Billy Williams.
Music: Jerry Goldsmith.
Editing: Robert L. Woolfe.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

May 1st
Kiss Me Deadly**     

(US 1955)                      

A small-time Los Angeles detective stumbles onto a sinister plot, with literally explosive results.
One of the best adaptations of Mickey Spillane's slightly thuggish detective Mike Hammer, a cult item for its paranoid atmosphere with a deliberately unsettling plot reflecting the atomic menace of the time, and some quirky touches (such as credits sloping upwards), that brought this director's name to the major attention of Hollywood.

Written by: A.I. Bezzirides, from the novel by Mickey Spillane.
Producer/Director: Robert Aldrich.
Starring: Ralph Meeker, Maxine Cooper, Albert Dekker, Paul Stewart, Gaby Rodgers, Wesley Addy, Juano Hernandez, Cloris Leachman.
Photography: Ernest Laszlo.
Music: Frank DeVol.

KISS ME DEADLY. Gaby Rodgers opens the proverbial Pandora's Box. This image was famous enough for Tarantino to reference it in Pulp Fiction.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Apr 30th   
North Face**       

(Ger/Austria/Swi 2008)

In 1936 two Bavarian soldiers climb the north face of the Eiger mountain, but what starts as an intended Nazi propaganda triumph becomes a fight for survival.
Billed as a mountaineering war thriller but actually a heartfelt and stunningly photographed fact-based historical drama, with the class distinction of those watching the climbers from below only occasionally spoiling the suspense and atmosphere.

Written by: Christoph Silber, Rupert Henning, Johannes Naber, Philipp Stolzl.
Producers: Boris Schonfelder, Danny Krausz, Benjamin Herrmann.
Director: Philipp Stolzl.
Starring: Benno Furmann, Florian Lukas, Johanna Wokalek, Ulrich Tukur, Simon Schwarz, Georg Friedrich.
Photography: Kolja Brandt.
Music: Christian Kolonovits.
Editing: Sven Buddelmann.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Apr 25th  
Swiss Miss*  (U)                                            
(Manifest Theatre, Manningtree)

(US 1938)

Two mousetrap salesmen go to Switzerland at the hotel where a jealous composer is feuding with his beautiful singing star wife.
Sporadically charming Laurel and Hardy comedy with musical asides, quite lavishly presented but lacking a few fresh jokes, with rehashed gags from The Music Box and The Chimp evident, and like most of their other musical features, the plot only partly gives the Boys anything useful to do.

Written by: James Parrott, Felix Adler, Charles Nelson, from a story by Jean Negulesco, Charles Rogers.
Producer: Hal Roach.
Director: John G. Blystone.
Starring: Stam Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Della Lind (Greta Natzler), Walter Woolf King, Adia Kuznetzkoff, Eric Blore, Anita Garvin, Charles Gamora.
Photography: Norbert Brodine, Art Lloyd.
Music: Phil Charig.
Lyrics: Arthur Quenzer.

Preceded by:
You're Darn Tootin'**
(US 1929. 20m. bw. silent; Two street musicians are dismissed from an orchestra, then evicted, and set off a local riot of trouser-ripping.; w: H.M. Walker; d: Edgar Kennedy; s: Sran Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Otto Lederer.)

Night Owls**
(US 1930. 20m. bw; An inept policeman hires two equally inept burglars to to rob the police chief's house.; w: Leo McCarey; d: James Parrott; s: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Edgar Kennedy, James Finlayson, Anders Randolph.)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Apr 24th  
Lady Godiva Rides Again*                                       

(GB 1951)

A local girl unexpectedly wins a beauty pageant, but the subsequent road to fame is a bumpy one.
Touching but rather half-baked satire on the glamour business of the 50s (though an interesting snapshot of the time, with the likes of Joan Collins and Ruth Ellis allegedly among the beauty contestants), not as whimsical as Ealing nor as cutting as the later Boulting Brothers comedies, with a plot that rather falls apart half way through and becomes depressing.

Written by: Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat, Val Valentine.
Producer: Sidney Gilliat.
Director: Frank Launder.
Starring: Pauline Stroud, Stanley Holloway, Dennis Price, Diana Dors, George Cole, Bernadette O'Farrell, John McCallum, Eddie Byrne, Dora Bryan, Kay Kendall, Sidney James.
Photography: Wilkie Cooper.
Music: William Alwyn.

+ uncredited cameos by Googie Withers, Alastair Sim, Trevor Howard

LADY GODIVA RIDES AGAIN (1951). The contestants for Miss Fascination. Pauline Stroud and Diana Dors (instantly recognisable) centre, with fifth from right, Joan Collins, and fourth from left, Ruth Ellis.