Sunday, December 03, 2006

Short Takes Vol. 6


Sat 12/2

I had The Wind and the Lion (1975) suggested for my viewing some time ago, and have just finally gotten around to seeing the thing. While the movie is apperently bad history, its passable as adventure story material. The plot concerns the kidnapping of American widow Eden Pedecaris (Candice Bergen) and her two children (Simon Harrison, Polly Gottesmann) by the rebel Mulay Achmed Mohammed el-Raisuli the Magnificent in 1904 Morocco, as well as the efforts of the administration of Teddy Roosevelt (Brian Keith) to get them rescued. Keith is so good as Roosevelt that I wish the movie had just been about him, I felt I'd scene everything that the Connery/Bergen relationship had to offer in other movies. However the scenes with the American ambassadors and military in Morocco where mildley entertaining. The best insight in the movie was TR's speech about America being like a Gizzley Bear, "a little blind and reckless at times." John Huston added some value to the film as Secretary of State John Hay.

Sun 12/3

Watched the other film on the Paul Robeson set, though the DVD scrambled for the last seven minutes so I can only surmise how it ended. Big Fella (1937) concerns Robeson, now playing a French doc worker as opposed to the English one he started out as in the other film, who builds a fatherly relationship with a run away English boy, whom he tries to reunite his rich parents (the boys not Robeson's). Elisabeth Welch (1904-2003) again plays Robesons love intrest, and both get to sing some nice songs. This movie was marketed as a family picture.

That night I watched The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines a sequal to the 2004 TNT film The Librarian: Quest for the Spear. Like the first film, this one stars Noah Wyle as a well meaning nerd tasked by a secret socity based out of the New York Public Library, to retreave dangours mythical-type objects, in this case the magical 'book of Solomen'. Wyle's love interest/helper in this installment is played by Gabriell Anwar, who plays the requiset sexy movie archeologist with considerable charm. Bob Newhart, Jane Curtin, and Olympia Dukakis all reprise their roles from the first film, with Robert Foxworth added as Wylie's "Uncle". I liked it and I suspect they'll make one more and complet a trilogy. Director Jonathan Frakes also appears in a small cameo.

In addition I watched 'The First Presidency Christmas Devotional' last night, but I'm not going to review it.

Mon 12/4

Winner of the Oscar for best picture, The Broadway Melody (of 1929) is representative of the musicals of its time, which with a few exceptions (such as King Vidor's Hallelujah or the orignial Show Boat), were fairly static affairs with a stage setting. I know that from my vast film knowldge, but seeing as I've had very limited exposer to other films of this sort, I enjoyed Broadway, though am still a little surprised that it won the best picture against Disreali. The plot is your standard love triangel between a songsmith played by Charles King, and a pair of sisters who are aspiring preformers, both played admirably by Bessie Love and Anita Page (still alive at 96, with her most recent film credit listed as 2004 on IMDB). The film boasts a couple good songs, and some rather obvious word gags (Ziegfields Follies becomes Zanfields Dollies). Included as special features on the DVD are a number of early filmed vaudville acts, including two guys singing a vaguely racist song, and another performer who used very gay body language.

Fri 12/8

Earth vs. The Flying Saucers: I probably should have watched this one closer to Halloween. In the movie Ray Harryhausen animated stop-motion flying saucers attempt to invaid the earth and destroy Washington D.C. (insert own,' before the Dem's/GOP can do it' joke here). However Earth has one of those resourcefull 50's scientists (here played by the vaugley Mitt Romney looking Hugh Marlowe) who is able to foil the saucers plans, by distrupting there magnetic drive systems with big satellite dishs straped to the back of army supply trucks. Better then average for this type of movie, still you see it for the effects not the plot.

Sat 12/9

Meet Me in St. Louis: Rare instance of cultural ground shared and appriaciated by both 'traditional values' conservatives and the gay community. This piece of Americana was directed by Vincente Minnelli and stars his then future wife Judy Garland (who else), in a story about one year in the life of the Smith family of St. Louis Missouri, 1903-1904. Supporting cast includes Mary Astor, Margaret O'Brien, June Lockhart, Leon Ames, Marjorie Main (as a maid who looks and talks like 'Alice' from The Brady Bunch), and interestingly enough, a young Hugh Marlowe. Garlands rendition of 'Have Yourself a Marry Little Christmas' is heartbreaking, but perhaps even better used in the 2005 film The Family Stone.

Sun 12/10

The Trouble with Marnie: Documentary about the making of the 1964 Hitchcock film Marnie. The most intersting story presented therein, is about how the project with through three screenwriters, one leaving over a morally objectionable rape scene.


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