Showing 1 - 10 of 33 posts found matching keyword: myrna loy

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.

Drink Coke! (Promise Her Anything)
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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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You thought I wouldn't get through my list of 2017 movies before 2018, didn't you? Well, this is it! December, part 2 of 2:

163. (1222.) It's a Wonderful World (1939)
This screwball comedy staring Jimmy Stewart should not be confused with It's a Wonderful Life. There's little exceptional about this, which is not to say it's bad. It's just not a classic.

164. (1223.) Ace in the Hole (1951)
Man, Kirk Douglas made some great movies. The premise of this movie, that a journalist would endanger the life of an innocent man to get a bigger story, is so 2017. Too late does he realize what this has done to his soul. Very good.

165. (1224.) The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
The movie that inspired You've Got Mail with Jimmy Stewart in Tom Hanks' role. I like Tom Hanks as much as the next American, but Stewart does it best.

166. (1225.) Man-Proof (1938)
Myrna Loy isn't so much "man-proof" as she is "man obsessed." I guess that would have made a worse title. I do adore Loy, but I can't say even her presence does much to redeem this rather sappy melodrama.

UPDATE 2018-07-26: I just now realized that I watched this movie in 2012 and didn't remember. Oops.

168. (1227.) Dudes (1987)
A cult classic starring Jon Cryer as a New Yorker having a fever dream trip through the modern Old West. This eclectic movie has a lot of quirkiness going for it — especially Daredelvis — but despite its charm can't overcome the fundamental problem of its violent heart.

This movie included an overt bit of Coca-Cola product placement. After seeing this and the Coke bottles in Ace in the Hole, I decided from now on, whenever I see a Coke on screen, I'm going to include a screen grab in my review. So have a Coke and a Dude:

Drink Coke! (Dudes)

169. (1228.) Broadway Melody of 1936 (1936)
Jack Benny! Eleanor Powell! Buddy Ebsen! There's a lot to like about this tap-dancing musical. It has some product placement itself, as Ebsen wears a Mickey Mouse sweater for his first dance number (with his sister)! Utterly charming.

170. (1229.) Joysticks (1983)
Teen sex comedies of the 1980s have a special place in my heart (and my groin). This one concerns a video arcade that runs afoul of Jo Don Baker with all the bizarre misadventures you'd expect. Not a bad choice to end the year.

Whew! 170 movies in 2017. Can I top that? Tune in next year and see!

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Movies watched in June, batch 2 of 3:

84. (1143.) Madea's Big Happy Family (2011)
Tyler Perry's satirical family dramadies aren't high art. In fact, they usually feel like Lifetime specials. However, his over-the-top Madea character is a lot of fun. I will watch more.

85. (1144.) Lucky Night (1939)
I'm pretty sure this film wouldn't work without Myrna Loy as the spoiled rich girl determined to live up to her mistakes. Frankly, the ending is terrible, but the journey definitely had its moments, most of them thanks to Loy's wit and smart mouth.

86. (1145.) The Nun's Story (1959)
Audrey Heburn's well-intentioned nun is stymied at every turn by Catholic bureaucracy, misogyny, and racism, yet the movie walks a fine line, refusing to condemn the practices of the religion at its center. It leaves that to the viewer. Mildly recommended.

87. (1146.) Monsieur Hulot's Holiday (1953)
A true cinematic gem. Barely more than a silent comedy, the characters, scenes, and gags really stick with you. Highly recommended.

88. (1147.) A Boy and His Dog (1975)
Less recommended. The dog isn't as big a character as I was hoping, and Don Johnson's protagonist isn't very charming. That said, I think the bigger problem here is the writer that inspired it. I don't think I generally care for Harlan Ellison stories. He seems to take the point of view in his stories that that humanity isn't worth the trouble. That's some dark shit, and I get plenty of that point-of-view in the nightly news. I don't really want it in my entertainment.

89. (1148.) The World's Greatest Sinner (1962)
Now this movie left me in a terrible mood! The Internet tells me that this movie was never released to the general public, and I can see why. As a selfish salesman declares he is a god and takes over American politics, I felt like I was watching the Donald Trump story. Well, at least until the end, when the Devil kills the protagonist's family for no good reason. At least I think that's what happened. Do not watch to find out if I'm wrong. It's not worth it. Sad!

More to come.

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People keep telling me about television shows they enjoy and think I would like. I agree; I might like them. However, I am always reluctant to commit to any dramatic serialized production until it's over, as I'm really bothered when the story doesn't end well (or at all). That's part of what I like about movies: they're self-contained stories told in (generally) 2 hours. They're the short stories of visual media compared to television's novellas.

That said, let's review the first batch of films I watched in June.

78. (1137.) When Ladies Meet (1941)
This is the Joan Crawford remake of the Myrna Loy movie (though both are based on a play). The Myrna Loy version is better, much better. Crawford replaces Loy's dry wit with a melodramatic self-righteousness that is infinitely less charming.

79. (1138.) A Hologram for the King (2016)
Does this Tom Hanks movie have a point? It starts off like it does, with a surrealistic blast that put me in mind of Trainspotting, itself a harsh take-down of modern life. Then Hologram meanders through some dark, dark territory before eventually settling into a mild romance tale with the bland moral that humans are "all more alike than different." Yawn.

80. (1139.) He Walked by Night (1948)
This cheap crime thriller has some spectacular, high-contrast cinematography that exemplifies the best of mid-century noir. Jack Webb plays a crime lab technician, and this film's DNA is all over Webb's long-running Dragnet. Very good.

81. (1140.) Lassiter (1984)
No! Just no! Tom Selleck plays a cat burglar drafted into helping the London police steal diamonds from Nazi agents because . . . well, I still have no idea why. It's supposed to be part spy thriller, part crime story, part period piece, but none of it comes together. If you have the opportunity to see this, don't.

82. (1141.) The Horror at 37,000 Feet (1973)
William Shatner plays a defrocked priest confronting a pagan celtic demon in an airplane in this attempt to capitalize on the success of The Exorcist. There's a lot of silly here, and Shatner really comes delivers in the end. Thanks, Bill!

83. (1142.) Aeon Flux (2005)
This seemed . . . pointless. Don't get me wrong, there are some great visuals, but they don't do much to help a very mundane story about typical sci-fi issues like cloning, free will, faith, blah, blah, blah. The whole thing comes down to a bog-standard gun fight anyway, so I recommend you watch RoboCop (preferably the Peter Weller version) instead.

More to come.

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Movies watched in March, 3 of 3:

40. (1099.) The Jackie Robinson Story (1950)
Jackie Robinson plays himself, St. Jackie Robinson, in this sanitized true story. You won't be surprised if I tell you that Robinson was a better ball player than an actor.

41. (1100.) Anchors Aweigh (1945)
Like Brigadoon, something about this film left me cold, though I did greatly enjoy some of the more inventive cinematography, like the piano concert filmed through transparent keyboards. However, I definitely prefer Sinatra movies where Frank doesn't sing (and Gene Kelly isn't a sexist pig).

42. (1101.) Test Pilot (1938)
Myrna Loy makes this sad/sappy love story work thanks to her ability to deliver the snappiest of dialog with a sly wink and a nod. She's still the best! (Side note: No offense to Ms. Loy, but I just can't accept than any woman as smart and sure as her would instantly fall for the sort of cocky, selfish cads that Clark Gable generally plays. Aw, what am I talking about? These days, we'd elect him president.)

43. (1102.) Tammy (2014)
This was designed to be a girly equivalent of a raunchy buddy road comedy, but it's soaked with a chick flick's treacly sentimentality that generate sympathy for the characters and prevent the rougher humor from getting the laughs it should. The highlight is Kathy Bates, who arrives for the third act and steals every scene she's in from stars Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon.

44. (1103.) Scanners (1981)
Nope, I'd never seen Scanners. Here's a textbook example of a movie with script problems. The final hero/villain confrontation is very clumsy with exposition that really should have been handled (or at least hinted at) earlier. However, the gory special effects are a lot of fun, and sometimes that's enough.

45. (1104.) Bureau of Missing Persons (1933)
Whoa, the first half of this movie was exactly the movie I wanted it to be as we followed around the detectives in a police department like a lighthearted Dragnet. Then it turned into a dumb crime/love story. Still, not bad. Not bad at all.

More to come.

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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.

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To be continued...

 

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