Showing 1 - 10 of 16 posts found matching keyword: myrna loy
Saturday 3 October 2020
It's finally October, so let's get to some movies.
151. (1805.) Promise Her Anything (1966)
Softcore pornographer Warren Beatty does some very questionable things with a child in order to bone the kid's mom. It's a very 1960s take on 1950's idea of a sex comedy.
Planning to get a widow so drunk she'll let you in her pants? Don't forget the Coke!
152. (1806.) Illegal (1955)
Imagine what a John Grisham book might have looked like in the 1940s and you'll have something near this pretty good legal thriller. Edward G. Robinson plays a crackerjack attorney who makes a mistake that destroys his world. (The innocent who is put to death for a crime he didn't commit is a young DeForest Kelley!) The road to redemption is very rocky indeed.
153. (1807.) Dream Wife (1953)
Cary Grant unintentionally discovers that when you educate a young, subservient middle-eastern Islamic woman in the ways of America, she'll make your life miserable! As close as the 1950s was capable to getting to women's lib.
154. (1808.) Sitting Pretty (1948)
This is the movie that introduced the character of the perfect butler Mr. Belvedere to the screen. There's some dated sexual politics misadventures in this, too, but they're handled with a more empathy for women's point of view. Very enjoyable.
155. (1809.) McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
Robert Altman's idea of a Western is an iconic representation of his style, but it's not an entirely satisfying cinematic experience thanks in no small part to a very weak narrative. (We're all just prostitutes doomed to live in shit and die. Fun!)
156. (1810.) The Senator Was Indiscreet (1947)
The always delightful William Powell plays a corrupt and stupid old Senator who tries to blackmail his way into the White House. With a little plot tightening, this would be the perfect digestif to the unrealistic optimism of Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I liked it plenty even before discovering the film closed with an uncredited appearance by Ms. Nora Charles herself, Myrna Loy! Hooray! (This is their last movie together. Boo!)
More to come!
Sunday 15 September 2019
Not so many movies watched so far this September (because football!), but I saw more than enough in August to take up the slack.
139. (1578.) Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
The big eyes are a mistake. The story arc is a mistake. The acting is a... well, let's just say it's for children. In any case, I can see why audiences turned a cold shoulder to it. I'm sure the Pacific Rim crowd loved it. I didn't.
140. (1579.) Susan and God (1940)
A busybody uses religion to justify her holier-than-thou attitude and comes to regret it. A passable way to spend an afternoon without football.
141. (1580.) The Key (1934)
A bad melodrama, this is the worst William Powell film I've seen. He's the only good thing in it, which is not a recommendation.
142. (1581.) A Dry White Season (1989)
When one good man discovers that operatives of the South African government are so terrified of the oppressed native peoples that they are willing to murder anyone who dares question them, he begins to work against them. Then his family turns against him. It's really a horror film as much as a tragedy.
143. (1582.) Fort Apache (1948)
Having seen it in bits and pieces before, I watched the whole thing beginning to end and very much enjoyed myself, especially the dark ending conceding that the myth of American history has been built by those determined not to admit their mistakes.
144. (1583.) The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)
Shirley Temple never grew into much of an actress, but Myrna Loy is really the star of this romantic comedy (as she ought to be).
145. (1584.) Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
The improved version of Pretty in Pink where everyone gets what's coming to them. Nice.
More to come.
Sunday 28 July 2019
Since I started seriously tracking the movies I watched in 2012, the actor I've seen the most is William Powell (33 times). That isn't an accident.
Powell is one of those "actors" who always turned the characters he played into some variation of himself. We usually call that class of actor — which includes the likes of Jimmy Stewart, Clint Eastwood, and Tom Cruise — "movie stars."
Powell's cool, confident, and sarcastic persona was perfect for playing con men, attorneys, and especially gumshoes. He's most famous as Nick Charles, the detective who caught the Thin Man in seven movies (the best of which is the first), but you may recognize him as Philo Vance who he played in five other films (beginning with the silent-turned-talky The Canary Murder Case).
I mention this because tomorrow, July 29, would be Mr. Powell's 107th birthday. TCM is celebrating with seven films between 6AM and 6PM. Manhattan Melodrama is in the middle (11:15AM). That's the movie that Public Enemy Number One John Dillinger was walking out of when he was gunned down by G-Men. It's also the first film to pair Powell with his on-screen soul mate Myrna Loy, the future Nora Charles (and not-coincidentally, the actress I've seen the most, 35 times). Oh, and Cary Grant is in it, too (14 times).
Happy Birthday, Mr. Powell.
Monday 12 November 2018
I haven't blogged about movies in weeks! Time to correct that oversight.
166. (1395.) Stamboul Quest (1934)
Myrna Loy plays a German spy in World War I. The movie is more romance with espionage trappings than thriller, but I enjoyed it anyway. I enjoy almost anything with Myrna Loy in it.
167. (1396.) Into the Blue (2005)
Jessica Alba in a bikini diving for cocaine. You had me at Jessica Alba in a bikini. (Don't expect any more from this. You won't get it.)
168. (1397.) Twenty Plus Two (1961)
The Fugitive's David Janssen takes his turn as a hunter in this noir-ish murder mystery about a long-lost heiress and the men who raped her. It's got atmosphere. I liked it.
169. (1398.) The Presidio (1988)
I remember advertisements for this movie from back in the day. Mark Harmon! Sean Connery! Meg Ryan! Apparently, I didn't miss out on much.
170. (1399.) Robot & Frank (2012)
Frank is a former cat burglar and bad parent now going senile. Robot is a mechanical assistant designed to help manage Frank's condition. Together, they commit one last robbery before they both lose their minds. For a comedy, it's actually quite sad. And it's probably my favorite (and arguably the objective best) of this bunch of movies.
171. (1400.) Four Jills in a Jeep (1944)
You'd think that four comediennes in a Jeep (plus Phil Silvers!) would be a good time. You'd be wrong. It turns out that everything sucks in a war. To be fair, the film is more variety show than narrative, so if that's your bag, you'll probably enjoy it more than I did.
More to come.
Wednesday 5 September 2018
I watched 21 movies in August and have so far only mentioned 3 of them. Time to speed up.
139. (1368.) The Letter (1940)
Did Bette Davis kill her lover by accident or was it premeditated? I felt it was damaged by the "crime doesn't pay" Hollywood ending.
140. (1369.) The Day of the Triffids (1963)
Referenced in the theme to Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Day of the Triffids is a very enjoyable British apocalyptic sci-fi tale.
141. (1370.) Wife vs. Secretary (1936)
When the wife is Myrna Loy, how could she lose? (Side note: this film follows the exact same format you would expect in modern rom-coms.)
142. (1371.) Pat and Mike (1952)
The highlight of this film is seeing prim Katharine Hepburn beat up young gangster Charles Bronson late in the run time. Lots of fun.
143. (1372.) Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)
A thin plot and lack of characterization (and a completely ridiculous villain) damn this action film. I should have spent the time playing the video games it is based on instead.
144. (1373.) The Naughty Flirt (1930)
Not much of a plot here — an airheaded debutante pursues a young lawyer — though I only had eyes for Myrna Loy in the role of the scheming villainness. (Have I mentioned lately that I'm sweet on Myrna Loy?)
147. (1376.) Big Top Pee-Wee (1988)
For years, I've avoided this film because I was told that it wasn't as good as Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. I've been a fool. While it is true that Big Adventure is superior, this isn't without its joys.
149. (1378.) The Howards of Virginia (1940)
Cary Grant makes a very unconvincing American revolutionary in this uninspired melodrama.
More to come.
Thursday 2 February 2017
The final tally of movies watched in January was 14. I've already given you the first batch of 6 (including La La Land — have I mentioned La La Land?). So here are the remaining 8.
7. (1066.) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
I really don't understand why people like this movie. Yes, it's patterned after a World War II movie, but few of the "sci-fi" elements (by which I mean fantasy elements with electrical power) or enemy motivations make any sense. Worse, no time is spent on character development. (I swear, some of the characters exist just to sell toys.) Everyone seeing this already knows who wins, so when people start dying, as they must, THERE IS NO REASON TO CARE. If you don't just love all things Star Wars — because, I don't know, nostalgia? — avoid this exercise in fanwankery.
8. (1067.) My Favorite Brunette (1947)
Friend Otto called me an artless heathen because I mentioned that I don't like Bob Hope movies, so he insisted that I watch this. It's cute. I can definitely say that it's the best Bob Hope movie I've ever seen (but that's a pretty low bar).
9. (1068.) American Gigolo (1980)
This film, cut from the same cloth as Basic Instinct, looks and sounds like Miami Vice. No wonder Richard Gere only plays prostitutes or johns. He's good at it.
10. (1069.) Here Comes the Groom (1951)
Bing Crosby stars in a Frank Capra musical! If your idea of romance is hitting a woman over the head with a club and dragging her back to your cave as you whistle Johnny Mercer tunes, this movie is for you!
11. (1070.) Too Hot to Handle (1938)
Another "love" story that shows its age as Myrna Loy's career is destroyed and saved by A Number 1 sleazeball Clark Gable (and B Number 2 sleazeball Walter Pidgeon).
12. (1071.) When Ladies Meet (1933)
Myrna Loy has a heart-to-heart with her lover's wife. The dialog is pretty darn good. I liked it.
13. (1072.) The Barbarian (1933)
Rich fiancee takes a trip to Egypt where she is kidnapped by a prince posing as a peasant. She refuses his love and escapes back to her fiance. Then, at the wedding, she pledges her love to the prince. "Stockholm Syndrome" wouldn't be named for another forty years, but it could have been called "Barbarian Syndrome." Myrna Loy is beautiful, but this is not her best work.
14. (1073.) Midnight Lace (1960)
Doris Day plays a role that should have gone to Grace Kelly in this would-be Hitchcockian thriller. I found it predictable, but the suspense was still top rate.
More to come.
Saturday 21 January 2017
Movies are off to a good start in 2017! (I'm trying extra hard to escape from reality these days.)
1. (1060.) King Solomon's Mines (1950)
The character of Alan Quatermain is famous as the stereotype of the colonial era European huntsman in Darkest Africa. I thought Stewart Granger was quite good. His female lead, played by Deborah Kerr, however, was treated with less sympathy than the natives, and her post-haircut scene is laugh-out-loud ridiculous. Ah, Golden Age Hollywood.
2. (1061.) Donnie Brasco (1997)
Remember when Johnny Depp was a good actor? I still don't like "mob" movies because they always always always glorify crime, but I found Al Pacino's depiction of a lesser, wannabe wiseguy very enjoyable.
3. (1062.) Spaceflight IC-1: An Adventure in Space (1965)
As much as I love '50s sci-fi, this felt more like a pilot for a television series than a standalone film. Its premise — a mutiny on a deep space colony mission organized by a tyrannical government — would make for a pretty good movie in 2017.
4. (1063.) Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969)
Honestly, all art should be judged in context of its time, and movies are no different. B&C&T&A is very much a movie for the straight-laced upper middle classes struggling to understand the Summer of Love. I found it incredibly tame (and boring) by 2017 standards. Like Easy Rider, this one is probably best left to film historians and nostalgia buffs.
5. (1064.) La La Land (2016)
I usually leave movies I've covered elsewhere out of these lists, but damn, I loved this movie. I loved it, I loved it, I loved it. Am I gushing? Is this what gushing feels like? I loved it! (I bought the soundtrack CD and now I sing all of Ryan Gosling's lines and listen to Emma Stone sing back to me. Is that weird? It doesn't feel weird.)
6. (1065.) Broadway Bill (1934)
Ok, so to recap, I don't like gangster movies, but I watched Donnie Brasco anyway. I don't like Natalie Wood movies, but I watched Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice anyway. And I don't like Frank Capra movies, but I watched Broadway Bill anyway. I'd say that I must be a masochist, but I only watched this to see more Myrna Loy. It was worth it. (I'd let Myrna Loy sing to me, too.)
More to come.
Saturday 7 January 2017
Ok, let's get the last of those movies from December out of the way so that I can clear my DVR for January.
115. (1053.) Fire Sale (1977)
This comedy is... not funny. That's a shame considering all the talent involved. If feels like Alan Arkin's trying a "zany" take on Neil Simon, but while it does have some clever ideas for gags, they don't gel well. Oh, well. They can't all be winners.
116. (1054.) Killer Party (1986)
Another one that doesn't quite work. This horror movie (that combines the holidays of Halloween and April Fools into one blood-soaked mess) cheats at the end and becomes something other than the subgenre you though it was for the first hour. I didn't like that. I felt like I was the one being pranked. Plenty of bare tits, though. That always helps.
117. (1055.) Thirteen Women (1932)
Ah, now this is better. I guess you could call it a horror too, though of the old-school variety that is more thriller than anything else. A woman uses superstition to murder the girls she briefly went to school with. Even as the "half-indian" villainess, Myrna Loy sparkles.
118. (1056.) 22 Jump Street (2014)
This is how sequels should be done: with tongue held firmly in cheek as they gamely reference their previous outing at every turn. While perhaps not as out-and-out funny as its predecessor, I think I liked this one more.
119. (1057.) Casualties of War (1989)
Damn it, Michael J. Fox was a pretty good actor, easily holding his own against Sean Penn. The story was also pretty good, though I found the cinematography to be a weakness. For all the closeups, it could just as easily have been filmed on a back lot as the jungles of southeast Asia. The moral of this story is that war isn't as bad as the people who fight it. (Fun fact: first film for John C. Reily and the second for John Leguizamo.)
120. (1058.) Used Cars (1980)
Kurt Russell plays a slick used car salesman in a comedy from the same men who brought us Back to the Future. The climax felt a little padded, but the film is otherwise a charming diversion with some genuine chuckles.
121. (1059.) Penthouse (1933)
I was a little disappointed in this film, though mostly because Myrna Loy doesn't show up for the first thirty minutes. When she finally does, her lines are great. The "mystery" plot isn't very deep, but then it's sort of supposed to be, and I guess that's okay. It's worth sitting through some dumb films to get more Myrna Loy.
And that's that on movies for 2016. I aim for 120 each year, and this year I hit it almost on the button. Hooray, me!
More to come.
Friday 16 December 2016
Movies to start December!
105. (1043.) The Squall (1929)
Californian Myrna Loy plays a racist stereotype of a European gypsy doing terrible gypsy things, which mainly consists of seducing stupid men. I found it completely believable. (Damn sexy gypsies! *shakes fist at sky*)
106. (1044.) The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again (2016)
I don't get it. I don't understand the point of remaking a movie exactly like its predecessor. This remake went out of its way to look and sound sound like the original (which it openly references at point, such as a crack about Meatloaf for dinner). The music was over produced, and for a film celebrating deviancy, everyone is just too damn pretty. The polish here only shows how much more creative the original was. Watch that instead.
107. (1045.) Beloved Infidel (1959)
A film based on F. Scott Fitzgerald and his romance with gossip columnist Sheilah Graham. I watched it to learn a little more about the final years of the great novelist, but it might as well be yet another remake of A Star is Born, with Graham in the up-and-comer role.
108. (1046.) The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933)
This is another early Myrna Loy movie. She's a (badly dubbed) singer who falls for (real life) boxer Max Baer. It's got a bit of a Rocky vibe, where the romance is more important than the boxing, even to the boxer.
109. (1047.) Night Flight (1933)
Myrna Loy has a very small part in this as the wife of a pilot. That's okay. Clark Gable has an equally small part as a pilot (though not her pilot). The main plot involves a couple of Barrymores. It's not as great as it wants to be, but it's hardly bad.
More to come.
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Monday 12 December 2016
I'm sorry I didn't mention this sooner, but Myrna Loy is the Star of the Month at TCM.
I didn't discover Loy until I watched The Thin Man much too late in life. (After years of hearing people say "Have you see The Thin Man," I finally took the hint.) Loy's screen presence matches a keen, playful mind and a knowing, beautiful face, often with more than a small pinch of wry cynicism. I simply love her.
(According to my notes, I've watched 21 Loy movies in the past 4 years. That's a small fraction of her catalog. IMDB.com credits her with 131 movie roles in all. I've got some watching to do!)
Sadly, this warning comes too late for you to check out the terrible Mask of Fu Manchu or the underrated Whipsaw, but there's still plenty of Loy to come. All six Thin Man movies will be showing on December 23. There are much worse ways to spend a Friday.