Showing 11 - 20 of 34 posts found matching keyword: myrna loy

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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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.

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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.

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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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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. 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.

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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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Okay, now that I'm rested, let's continue the vacation!

Day 4 (June 30): National Portrait Gallery

  1. National Portrait Gallery
  2. Smithsonian American Art Museum
  3. National Gallery Sculpture Garden

I loved the portrait and American art museums. Loved 'em. I could have spent the whole week in there.

George Washington

Myrna Loy
America's Sweetheart, Myrna Loy

Day 5 (July 1): Newseum

  1. Newseum
  2. United States Capitol
  3. Library of Congress
  4. Supreme Court

The Newseum is the only museum we paid admission fee for. It was worth it. I must not have been the only person to think so; it was pretty crowded. The one exhibit that was totally empty was the section investigating journalistic ethics. I wish that was a joke.

Berlin Wall

Library of Congress
Library of Congress Great Hall

Day 6 (July 2): Back to Virginia

  1. Arlington National Cemetery
  2. Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center
  3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
  4. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
  5. Thomas Jefferson Memorial
  6. George Mason Memorial
  7. National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial
  8. Air Force Memorial
  9. US Marine Corps Memorial

Udvar-Hazy is the satellite campus (ha, ha) of the Air and Space Museum located 30 minutes away from DC in Dulles, Virginia. Like all Smithsonian museums, admission is free. Parking will set you back $15. This museum is home to the Enola Gay and the Space Shuttle Discovery. It also has a Concorde and some foreign military aircraft, but otherwise, I didn't find it as impressive as the Warner Robins Museum of Aviation. At least in Warner Robbins, parking is free.

Udvar-Hazy Center

Arlington Cemetery
Remember the Maine

Day 7 (July 3): Lexington, VA

  1. Lee Chapel & Museum
  2. Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery

Lexington is home to Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Academy. No surprise it also has the final resting place of General Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Brian was very excited to stop here because it meant we'd completed our pilgrimage to the graves of all three men on Stone Mountain. (Lee and Jackson's horses, Traveller and Little Sorrel, respectively, are also on Stone Mountain, and both buried in Lexington as well.) Mission accomplished.

Stonewall Jackson Cemetery

We returned home in the wee hours of July 4, and that was all right with me. I enjoyed the trip, but there's no place like home.

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Enough about dead dogs. Let's recap some movies! I've seen five so far this month. (It's getting harder and harder to find movies that I want to watch.)

43. (981.) Hollywood Party (1934)
This musical comedy is fantastic. It's just a series of vaudeville bits and musical reviews, and about halfway through Jimmy Durante grabs Mickey Mouse by the tail and forces Mickey to play a cartoon about gingerbread men soldiers torn to crumbs by war. I really enjoyed the whole thing.

44. (982.) Indecent (1932)
I watched this because I saw it advertised as Myrna Loy's first lead role. I've since learned that wasn't quite true, which is good because this isn't a very good movie. It manages to make its salacious subject matter positively boring. I've seen plenty of silents with better camera work and editing than this early talkie. According to the title cards, Loy was on loan from MGM, and the makers of this "independent" movie must have been new at what they were doing.

45. (983.) The Trial (1962)
Uh... this is... I guess the word is Kafkaesque. (Franz Kafka wrote the book this Orson Welles movie is based on.) I don't know what it's all supposed to mean, and I have a hunch Kafka didn't either. It's all German Expressionism and Orwellian dystopia, two great tastes that leave you wanting to throw up. Your mileage may vary.

46. (984.) Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. (1966)
The story for this movie is credited not to Daniel Defoe, the writer of Robinson Crusoe, but one "Retlaw Yensid," which as anyone named Walter can tell you, is "Walter Disney" spelled backwards. This appears to be the only feature length movie that Walt Disney was ever credited with writing the story for. What a shame it's so mediocre (despite the efforts of Dick Van Dyke).

47. (985.) Wind Across the Everglades (1958)
This is another film that left me wondering what exactly the point was. In his first movie role, Christopher Plummer (looking exactly like Michael Fassbender) plays a Audubon Society marshal charged with preventing Burl Ives from killing any more birds in the Florida Everglades at the turn of the 20th century. In the end, I guess he succeeds, kind of, but not really. Honestly, the third act reminds me of Apocalypse Now!. Is that a good thing?

More to come.

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I already told you what I thought of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but I watched 10 other films in December. Here's the first five.

182. (929.) And Then There Were None (1945)
Agatha Christie changed the ending to her famous novel when she adapted it for the stage. I did not know that when I sat down to watch this movie, and I was surprised by the "Hollywood" ending. But I have to give Christie credit; I think the original story ending would have been hard to justify in a film of the old-school style like this. It's worth a watch, especially if you've only read the novel.

183. (930.) Iron Man 3 (2013)
Honestly, this isn't as bad I was expecting. Yes, the source material has been stretched beyond recognition and the third act is a hot mess, but Downey Jr. is still the glue that holds the Marvel Universe movies together.

184. (931.) Ten Little Indians (1966)
Another film adaptation of the stage adaptation of And Then There Were None, this is more stylish — the location has been swapped from an island to a mountain — yet also less effective. It's okay, but not great. Watch the other one.

185. (932.) Topaze (1933)
This movie decries the fall of morality in modern Capitalistic society, yet it allows its sympathetic protagonist to unapologetically join those who contribute to society's ills at the end of the movie. It seems the moral is "corruption is bad, but we're all going to be corrupted by life so we might as well enjoy it." If a side effect of being corrupted is earning the love of Myrna Loy, sign me up!

186. (933.) The Last American Hero (1973)
Young Jeff Bridges stars in this biopic of Junior Johnson. I generally haven't cared for the roles he chose in middle age, but the more I see him as a young man, the more I like Bridges. The kid had charisma and talent to spare.

More to come.

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I watched 9 movies in November. Here's the first batch of 5.

173. (920.) From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1973)
This movie (based on a book of the same name) is also known as The Hideaways, which is a much more accurate name. Either the children's book or movie was the inspiration for character backstories in The Royal Tenenbaums (which, I will point out for the thousandth time, is one of my favorite, favorite movies). This movie is a little light on story, but does successfully manage to convey a child's impression that the world is a big, amazing place, which is the point. Not at all bad.

174. (921.) Whipsaw (1935)
Ah, Myrna Loy. She's perfect in this film as a mob moll on the run, trying to stay a step ahead of her rival (and love interest!), G-man Spencer Tracy. Very enjoyable.

175. (922.) The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)
This is an old-school adventure story, with princesses and attempted regicide, star-crossed romance and sword fights. These days, the sword fights would all be done with CGI. Douglas Fairbanks Jr has a smallish role, but he steals the screen with an evil smirk. Totally worth watching if you like Victor Hugo-style adventure.

176. (923.) Shanghai Express (1932)
TCM host Ben Mankiewicz told me that this movie was considered equal to Grand Hotel when it was released, and in fact it was nominated for a Best Picture award. I have a hard time understanding why. Putting aside the fact that it hasn't aged well — it's unfair to judge 80-year-old attitudes by standards of modern culture — the story and characters are still paper thin caricatures. I think that my disappointment with this film may have more to do with the many movies (mostly westerns) made in the decades since that treat similar material much better. I didn't love it, but I don't regret having watched it.

177. (924.) Hud (1963)
I regret having watched this. It reminded me of Five Easy Pieces in the fact that the cinematography was masterful, and the west Texas scenery never looked better on film. (It deserved the Best Cinematography award it won.) But like Five Easy Pieces, the protagonist was a waste of character study that completely failed to entertain me or enrich my life. Once again, I blame Paul Newman. I think he only plays people I would never want to meet. Even in my favorite Paul Newman movie, The Hudsucker Proxy, Newman plays a complete dick. Maybe it was an all an act, but I'm still not inclined to buy his salad dressing.

More to come.

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To be continued...