Showing 1 - 6 of 6 posts found matching keyword: william powell

I only saw 11 new-to-me movies in the month of November. I'm no numerologist, but that seems an appropriate number.

193. (1632.) Caged Heat (1974)
This was the first movie that Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) directed. They grow up so fast! No, really, it looks only slightly more professional than the average women-in-prison exploitation flick. Hard to imagine while watching it that the guy behind this went on to Philadelphia.

194. (1633.) Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
TCM spent the month highlighting films chosen by the The American Society of Cinematographers, and I'm so glad they did. This silent film directed by the legendary F.W. Murnau (Nosferatu) with the assistance of two great cinematographers (Charles Rosher and Karl Struss) is almost as perfect as a movie can be. There are very few title cards; the movie simply doesn't need them. This should be a must watch for everyone who loves movies.

195. (1634.) Fashions of 1934 (1934)
A comedy of errors? A screwball? A romantic comedy? A little bit of all of them. Not quite a classic, though it does feature a pairing of William Powell and a criminally underused Bette Davis, for those who love such things.

196. (1635.) The Big Picture (1989)
Kevin Bacon is put through the wringer of the Hollywood system in this satire a la The Player (with less murder). I didn't love it. Didn't hate it. Maybe it just didn't speak to me.

197. (1636.) Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
After watching a Murnau movie, I decided to watch this, a fictional re-telling of the making of Nosferatu as if the vampire was a real vampire. I remember William Dafoe promoting this on the talk show circuit at the time. It's a pretty good atmospheric horror. I liked it.

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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Where were we? Oh, yes. Movies!

88. (1527.) My Man Godfrey (1936)
William Powell plays William Powell as a down-on-his-luck fellow in the Depression who lands a job as butler to a family of rich cads. Very entertaining. (It's easy to see why William Powell was Cary Grant's mother's favorite actor.)

91. (1530.) Ruby Herring Mysteries: Silent Witness (2019)
Someone got the breakdown of a typical Hallmark Movies and Mystery channel movie... and shot it as-is. The result, as you might expect, is average.

90. (1529.) Moana (2016)
Catchy songs! Not much else to say. Are all Disney animated films so bland? I think the answer is yes. That's why you have to get kids watching while they're so young.

92. (1531.) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
Watches like a marketing exercise in "How to squeeze more blood out of the Harry Potter franchise." This is only the second movie I've ever seen in said franchise, and frankly, that's two too many.

94. (1533.) The Trip to Bountiful (1985)
I really think I watched this character study of an old woman coming to terms with living in the imaginary past in a civics class in 1989. It's not my usual cup of tea, but it's well done.

95. (1534.) The Chocolate War (1988)
I can best describe this as A Separate Peace done right. I've read that the ending differs from the book, but it's about as dark as "Hollywood" can manage. (I was the right age for this in 1988. Why hadn't I seen it before? Was I too busy watching old ladies visit Bountiful, Texas?)

96. (1535.) Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
This much maligned sci-fi Christmas film is much maligned for a reason (low budget, bad acting, bat-shit crazy story...). But it was clearly made to entertain children, like television's Batman of the same era. Watched through that prism, its flaws are forgivable (and its imagination, laudable). I chuckled at the intentionally camp sensibilities more than once, especially when Santa Claus escapes an air lock shaped like a chimney without further explanation.

More to come.

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Finishing up movies from June:

59. (997.) The Outfit (1973)
Robert Duvall stars in this, essentially the same story as Lee Marvin's Point Blank, although Marvin got to work with Keenan Wynn instead of Joe Don Baker. That may be a big part of why Point Blank is a better movie.

60. (998.) Mystery Team (2009)
As with all comedies, your mileage may vary, but I found this movie to be a hysterical satire of Encyclopedia Brown mysteries. Lots of fun.

61. (999.) The Ghost Goes West (1936)
Hollywood loves the ghost story/romance mash-up. I think watching a living person fall in love with a dead person to be kind of disturbing, but this movie keeps it light. I liked that.

That's only seven movies watched in June. Part of the reason for the low total was my vacation. The other part is that my next movie will be my 1,000th since starting to keep track in 2012, and I want it to be significant somehow. You'll find out what I picked in my next movie update.

In the meantime, this seems like a good place to mention that in the past 4-and-a-half years, I've seen 31 William Powell movies and 20 Myrna Loy movies. Micheal Caine comes in a distant third with 14.

Alfred Hitchcock (15) has been my most watched director, and MGM (142) has produced the most (fitting, given that I watch so much TCM). My list of writers has been a little better distributed. Neil Simon is in the lead with 6, though Orson Welles, Billy Wilder, Richard Brooks, and Robert Riskin are only one back.

And without a doubt, I prefer comedies. More than a quarter of all the movies I've tracked have been classified as comedies, easily beating out dramas, crime stories, and action/adventure films (and 20 other categories) by a wide margin. What can I say? I like to laugh.

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This is it, the final batch of movies I watched in 2015.

186. (933.) 2 Guns (2013)
I remember this movie getting some bad reviews when it was released, largely because it's a pretty by-the-numbers action/revenge flick. The charisma of the stars, plus some pretty entertaining action sequences, more than overcome the predictability. C'mon. let's face it: no one watches a Mark Wahlberg movie to be surprised.

187. (934.) Pale Rider (1985)
I was certain that I'd seen this movie, but catching the beginning on AMC revealed otherwise. I love High Plains Drifter, and I most certainly would have realized that this was a derivation of that formula if I'd seen this before. In High Plains Drifter, Eastwood is a devil. Here, he's an angel. Same story, different ethics. Frankly, High Plains Drifter is better.

198. (936.) Dick Tracy (1945)
I assumed I must have seen this in the early 90s when my brother was on a big Dick Tracy comic kick. However, like Pale Rider, I had no memory of the actors or the action when I actually put my eyes on it. Unlike Pale Rider, which has some memorable scenes, I doubt I'll remember much about this movie a few months from now.

190. (937.) Despicable Me 2 (2013)
As good as the first? No. But still cute and clever and entertaining. Note to future sequel writers: get the characters right, and everything else will write itself.

191. (938.) The Terrorists (1974)
To cap off the 2015 appropriately, I saved this Sean Connery film for last. Marketed like an action film, I think it was intended to be more of a suspense film. There's remarkably little of either. I recommend against this unless you're a Connery completist.

So there you go, 191 movies watched in 2015. (If you were paying attention, you might notice that the numbering got wonky here at the end. I screwed them up waaay back in July and only noticed it in December. I was busy watching movies, not numbers.)

As a quick recap, note that the actor I saw most often in 2015 was William Powell. Seven William Powell movies in 2015 brings my total count of William Powell films seen to thirty! Long live William Powell. IMDb.com says he was in 96 movies over the course of his career. Obviously, I have to step up my game.

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To be continued...

 

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