Showing 1 - 10 of 36 posts found matching keyword: william powell

16/2327. The Racing Scene (1969)
James Garner narrates a documentary about a year in the life of his racing company. It's a lot like Grand Prix with the most dramatic moments edited out.

17/2328. Cornbread, Earl and Me (1975)
It would be easy to handwave away this innocent-black-kid-gets-shot-by-police story as an overly melodramatic mid-70s exploitation film if the same shit wasn't still making headlines.

Drink Coke! (Cornbread, Earl, and Me)
Drinking pop is a key plot element that the Coke product placement team wisely stays away from.

18/2329. True Justice: Family Ties (2024)
It seems that Hallmark is leaning more into the procedural style mystery movie, which I suppose is fine for variety. Unfortunately, the plot construction follows the "last, least likely suspect" approach, so the murderer's motive is... weak. Oh well. As I've said before, I don't watch these things for realism.

19/2330. The Fake (1953)
An American insurance agent stumbles into a British art forgery scheme with just enough fisticuffs, romance, and plot twists thrown in so that all the boxes can be checked off. I enjoyed it in spite of its limitations, but all the cliche elements do tend to encourage eye-rolling.

20/2331. Adaptation (2002)
Brilliantly written meta-movie satire by Charlie Kaufman who uses himself as the fulcrum to demonstrate that Hollywood films are all a waste of time. It's no wonder the material attracted such an accomplished cast. (Kudos also to director Spike Jonze for getting himself out of the way so it seems all Charlie's film.) Even when it is completely predictable — seriously, the second half couldn't be telegraphed harder — it never goes quite where I expect. Loved it.

21/2332. The Girl Who Had Everything (1953)
What else do you give the girl who has everything but William Powell to play her father? Sadly, Powell is criminally underused because the studio is clearly more interested in the dumb, doomed romance built around Elizabeth Taylor. If I were in charge there would have been less Taylor, more Powell. (I suspect Powell thought so, too. This is the last movie he ever made at MGM.)

More to come.

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11/2322. Mystery Island (2023)
So far as Hallmark mystery movies go, this one tries harder than most to echo an Agatha Christie novel. There are several overt references to And Then There Were None which sort of gives the game away. The fun here was watching the characters, mostly crime novel fans supposedly familiar with Christie's oeuvre, fail in different ways to find the obvious answer.

12/2323. The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)
I avoided this Michelangelo biopic for years because it's long and I don't like biopics. But I finally gave in after reading that it's apparently pretty accurate, including subtle hints that Michelangelo was a homosexual. I'm no Michelangelo, but I can certainly relate to some of his artistic attitudes.

13/2324. Haunted Harmony Mysteries: Murder in G Major (2023)
More Hallmark! It's a bit more... fantastic than what the channel usually tries -- one of the amateur sleuths in this is a ghost -- but it's still the usual small cast plus love-interest detective. Hey, at least they're willing to try something different.

14/2325. It's a Big Country (1951)
This anthology film, mostly of immigrant stories, is pretty blatant pro-America Cold War propaganda, which sometimes feels a little preachy. But it's got William Powell in it delivering a lecture on the parts of America he loves, so I give it two thumbs up.

15/2326. Somewhere I'll Find You (1942)
Two brothers, both newspaper foreign correspondents covering the unrest leading to World War II, fall for the same woman... and it's just terrible. Every scene of Clark Gable being a dick to Lana Turner is too long and dull, dull, dull. For frustrated housewives only.

More to come.

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As you can tell from the following numbering, we've rolled into a new year of movies!

1/2312. Fear of a Black Hat (1993)
I thought I'd seen this mockumentary years ago, but surely I would have remembered something this funny. This hews closely to the template laid down by Spinal Tap, but the song parodies and attacks on hip hop stereotypes make it fresh and unique.

2/2313. Where Danger Lives (1950)
I'm not going to lie, this title brought back no memories, so I had to look it up on imdb to refresh my memory. I know now why I forgot it. (Doctor Robert Mitchum falls for an insane patient!) The irony of my failing memory is that just yesterday I was thinking about Claude Rains' ridiculously small part herein as an accused abusive husband. When you only remember what a movie got wrong... well, that's your capsule review.

3/2314. You Can't Take It with You (1938)
If I'm so irritated by Frank Capra's trademark too-happy-to-be-possible endings, why do I keep watching his films? In this case, it was to see a Jimmy Stewart film I hadn't yet seen. And now I have. Bonus: appearance of Spring Byington, who is for my mother what Agnes Moorehead is for me, e.g. an actress we're always delighted to bump into in an unexpected supporting role.

4/2315. The Youngest Profession (1943)
This family melodrama in the "Andy Hardy" vein is about a girl autograph hound who thinks her father is cheating on her mother because of the evil machinations of... Agnes Moorehead! Seriously, I didn't know Moorehead was in this when I set my DVR to record it. No, that was because the poster promised me William Powell, who has one line at the very, very end of the movie. Still worth the wait. William Powell is the best.

5/2316. Barbie (2023)
Mom bought the DVD for herself for Christmas, and we watched it together. She was lukewarm -- it wasn't really to her taste -- but I had a blast. Greta Gerwig wins again! I've watched it twice more since. Honestly, my favorite part is that Ken was nominated for the Academy Award but not Barbie, which is exactly the very sharp point of the entire film. I hope he wins.

More to come.

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84/2250. Elmer, the Great (1933)
The premise here is that baseball player Elmer (Joe E. Brown in an over-the-top performance of buffoonery that would embarrass Adam Sandler) is such a great batter with such intolerable eccentricates that the Chicago Cubs are forced to lie to him about his love interest in order to ride his bat to the World Series. Of course, the lies lead to crime, specifically a gambling syndicate, that potentially compromise the game. Because that's what lies do.

85/2251. Skippy (1931)
Never heard of the comic strip "Skippy"? I doubt this film will make you seek it out, although I'm lead to believe it was a big hit in its day. Li'l Jackie Cooper breathes life into one of the most famous comic strip characters of the early 20th century in a series of misadventures involving, among other things, dog murder. Seriously. Cooper was nominated for an Oscar for this because everyone is heartbroken to see a child crying over a dead dog. Shame on you, Hollywood!

86/2252. Three on a Match (1932)
While the popularity of the Skippy comic strip inspired a peanut butter brand to steal the name, Three on a Match was built on the popular superstition encouraged (created?) by a safety match tycoon to sell more matches. The story is a salacious tale of intertwining lives of three former classmates. Naturally, the third one to light on the match suffers a bad end, although that's owed more to her use of drugs than her thrifty use of matches. (Trivia note: this movie also supposedly includes Jack Webb's first screen appearance, but good luck spotting him in the crowd.)

87/2253. Private Detective 62 (1933)
Decades before Remington Steele, debonaire but destitute William Powell fast-talks his way into a becoming a partner in a private detective agency. Too bad for Bill that his new partner is no Stephanie Zimbalist and lacks any sort of scruples.

88/2254. The Castle of Sand (1974)
I interrupt today's list of pre-code Hollywood films with this Japanese police procedural with a very strong social justice message. (Lepers are people too!) The last act leans a little too heavily into sentimentality for my tastes, but the extended Dragnet-style investigation that precedes it earned my tolerance as the killer's motivations are finally revealed.

89/2255. Svengali (1931)
From the German Expressionism of the set designs to the Horrific gothic shadows of the lighting and costumes, it's pretty clear this production was heavily influenced (for the better) by the original Dracula. What's most surprising about this adaptation of the novel Trilby is how sympathetic it actually is to the hypnotic outsider Svengali, who really could (and perhaps should) be presented as something of a demonic sexual predator. I think the movie is much less kind to the prudish English fop Billee, who in his own way, isn't any better than the story's titular "villain," although I'm certainly willing to admit that my 21st-century perspective probably colors my interpretation of what "acceptable behavior" is. Worth a watch.

More to come.

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The more I've seen, the more I've tried to get at least a little more discerning with the movies I watch. Have I been successful? You be the judge.

53. (1912.) How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)
I watched this strictly because I'd seen the two previous — the first I liked a lot, the second not so much — and I genuinely wanted to know how the trilogy was going to end. Even if this was more or less the same plot as the second movie, I very much appreciated how the characters and themes matured over time. (I'd still say that no one needs to see past the first film, but I'm not mad at the series.)

54. (1913.) A Tale of Two Cities (1937)
I don't think I've made any secret of the fact that I am no fan of Charles "Why Write One Word When Ten Will Do" Dickens, and this critically acclaimed adaptation of his best selling novel didn't change my mind. Take the words out, and Dickens is still just stalling for time until the curtain drops.

55. (1914.) Mortal Engines (2018)
Imagine a movie pitch meeting where someone says "Let's remake Star Wars but with cyberpunk!" It's got everything Star Wars is known for: densely decorated sets, orphans destined for great things, cool-looking villains, suave mercenaries, alien robots, world-ending turbolasers. Unlike Star Wars, its actors don't have the charisma to cover for thin characterization and giant plot holes. Oh, well. They can't all make a billion dollars.

56. (1915.) Pather Panchali (1955)
This Indian movie is on a bunch of all-time "greatest" lists because there isn't really much like it. It is beautiful, but its thin narrative rolls along so slowly that I found it very hard to maintain focus. I won't argue with those who call it great, but I won't call it one of my favorites.

57. (1916.) Hairspray (1988)
I'd seen (and liked) the musical but never the original. Though, like most John Waters movies, the choppy editing belies a modest budget, the film overflows with an exuberance that makes it impossible not to enjoy. Quite a gem.

58. (1917.) The Hoodlum Saint (1946)
William Powell plays a newspaperman (Act I: comedy) who cons his way into business (Act II: drama) and then finds himself at the mercy of a fake religion he started to get his good-for-nothing "friends" off his back (Act III: tragedy). Ho hum. I really will watch anything William Powell is in.

More to come.

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America may be collapsing under the weight of the single worst mental health crisis the country has ever seen, but at least we've still got movies.

194. (1848.) Times Square (1980)
Two teenaged girls, a runaway and a homeless manic depressive, struggle to find their own way to adulthood. There are hints that this is supposed to be a lesbian love story, but the finished product never quite gels. Still, it's not entirely without some charm (in large part thanks to Tim Curry).

195. (1849.) Carnival Story (1954)
A runaway falls in with a carnival barker who turns out to be a cad. The bad romance gets more complicated when both the carnival high diver and strong man also fall for her. Equal parts exploitative and macabre, it's very much a B movie.

Drink Coke! (Carnival Story)
Every carnival has a Coca-Cola stand, right? Right?

196. (1850.) Frenzy (1972)
I'm slowly working my way through every Alfred Hitchcock movie ever, and Frenzy is one of the best. Even though it spends a lot of time with the killer, it's still very suspenseful. Recommended to suspense fans.

197. (1851.) Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962)
If you haven't figured it out by now, TCM featured circus movies in November. This one is a Doris Day/Jimmy Durante musical comedy of errors, and frankly, it's not as entertaining as Carnival Story.

198. (1852.) Too Many Kisses (1925)
This romantic comedy is the first film appearance of any Marx Brother. Given that it is a silent film, you won't be surprised to learn that Marx Brother is Harpo. I liked it, mostly because I like the lead, Richard Dix, and I like the actor playing the villain even more: William Powell. (Here he's an evil Spaniard. What range!)

More to come.

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Movie reviews part 1821 through 1823 in a series of indeterminate length:

167. (1821.) Reckless (1935)
This movie's script is, frankly, bad. (What starts as a romantic musical comedy collapses into bland melodrama based on current events with a preachy ending.) It seems the studio paired William Powell and his sweetheart Jean Harlow with the intention of overcoming that shortcoming. I don't think Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone could have saved it.

168. (1822.) People Will Talk (1951)
This anti-hypocrisy morality play could only work with someone like Cary Grant in the title role. Dr. Noah Praetorius' self-righteousness would be insufferable without Grant's impish charm.

169. (1823.) Lost in America (1985)
Albert Brooks and Julie Haggerty yell at each other across America. The comedy exists largely in what is not said, as the characters are blind to their own absurdity. It definitely has its moments, not the least of which is when the couple's RV travels through Atlanta and the delightful hamlet of Newnan, Georgia:

See Yentl, a movie about a crossdressing Jew, at The Alamo theater down the street from the First Baptist Church!

US 29 runs right by my house!

Thirty-five years later, Lagrange Street still looks like this on the way to Newnan High School. Of course, in 1985, that sign was pointing to I-85 Exit 8. They now call it Exit 41, which is just as well since they added an additional exit just up the road when they moved the hospital from Hospital Road to Poplar Road to accommodate the giant Summergrove residential community built on the east side of the Interstate back at the turn of the 21st century. They call the new exit 44, which is probably a better name than 8½.

More to come.

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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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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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To be continued...


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