Don't be deceived by the cute title. This nasty piece of business is a wild pre-code tale full of sin, immorality and lust. Its main character, played flawlessly by Barbara Stanwyck, is an openly amoral woman without a shred of decency or regret. We discover that Stanwyck's father has been pimping her at his speakeasy since she was fourteen. At his death, marrying a little Nietzschean philosophy into her need to climb social and financial ladders, she seduces one man after another with no regrets. The sex and immorality are left out of camera range, leaving questionable situations to the imagination of the viewer.
In "Baby Face," Warner Bros. breaks every rule in the book with wild abandon that had to have driven the religious conservatives of the day into nuts. In the spring of 1933 it was submitted to the New York State Board of Censors, who rejected it, demanding a number of cuts and changes. Warner Brothers made these changes prior to the film's release in July 1933. In 2004, a "dupe negative" copy of the film as it existed prior to being censored was located at the Library of Congress. This uncensored version received its public premiere at the London Film Festival in November 2004, more than 70 years after it was made.
Come see what all the excitement was about. It's actually a really fun, and racy, movie.
If I mention a film-noir setting, where does your mind go? Maybe to a damp alley at night or a detective's office or maybe a police interrogation room. Probably not to the New Mexican dessert. Yet that's exactly where this very dark film-noir is set.
A man is trapped in a cave. No problem. A local contractor can have him out in eighteen hours. Unfortunately that rescue gets in the way of other peoples' needs. Instead of a quick rescue a six days-long media circus (and then, later, an actual circus) is staged for maximum effect.
The reporter at the center of the story is played by Kirk Douglas in a powerful performance. He's cynical, unethical, unscrupulous and a master manipulator. He was fired from a high-profile newspaper because of his drinking problem, lying and even for having an affair with the wife of one of his bosses. He convinces a local corrupt sheriff to milk an underground rescue attempt to pile up votes for the next election, and together they bully the contractor to delay. Even the wife of the trapped man is a cold remorseless woman. As in most film-noirs, sympathetic characters are rare.
This movie comes from Billy Wilder who also gave us, "Double Indemnity" and "Sunset Boulevard." This movie is as dark and cynical as its cinematic siblings.
At is heart there is a basic meanness, a violence, a grit that makes this movie unforgettable. In its day it failed to find its audience. Today, its statements about the media and about mis-applied ethics are, perhaps, more timely than when this film was released 65 years ago. Take a look!
So I've got this thing that I do. If I see a film's coming on, I'm not sure if I want to see it, I'll record it. When I watch it I'll give it 15 minutes. If it hasn't given me anything in 15 minutes, no matter the rave reviews and rants, out it goes.
So I recorded IN America. At the 15 minute mark my thumb hoovered dangerously over the delete button. I wasn't sure. Maybe there was something there. I couldn't decide. Alright, I decided. I'll renew my 15 minute mark.
Around minute 30 I still wasn't completely certain. I paused the film. Delete? Watch? Ah nuts, maybe 15 more minutes.
By the 45 minute mark I realized what was happening. The movie was a constricting serpent. In those 45 minutes it had slowly coiled around my legs and was working its way up my torso. No sense fighting it now.
By the film's end it had done its trick. It squeezed all of the skepticism and reluctance out of me. They came oozing out of my tear ducts. I went from casual reluctance to realizing that I just found one of my all time favorite movies.
If you don't cry by the end of the movie schedule a doctor's appointment. Ask him to check you for a pulse.
I had high hopes for this show, before I actually saw it. This is from an American production company named "The Asylum." They given us other gems like Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, Supercroc, Sharknado, Sharknado 2: The Second One and, of course, Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark. Their specialty is producing "mockbusters." That means when another, higher budget, producer has a hot idea they fabricate a cheap knockoff to try to catch some of the residual cash floating around (hence the Lincoln title mentioned above was released in tandem with Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter).
Z Nation would never exist without having The Walking Dead doing as well as it has. The only thing I'll say on behalf of this ersatz clone is that it makes me appreciate just how good The Walking Dead is.
It's nearly impossible to have a watchable zombie-apocalypse knock off. Why? Because, unlike other monster genres, a well-crafted zombie story doesn't focus on the monsters. It focuses on the surviving humans. To do that requires two very special effects that Z Nation will never have - good writing and good acting.
I have seen some spectacular animation over the years. I love good animation. I'm crazy about great animation. But I can safely say that The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is the only animated short that I have ever seen that made me cry. If you have lived your life with books, as I have, you will be drawn into this world. In fact if you are a book person this IS your world.
The protagonist, Morris Lessmore, is heavily influenced by Buster Keaton. The scenes of the storm were a combination of the storm sequences of Steamboat Bill jr. and the 1939 Wizard of Oz and the all too real hurricane Katrina (the story opens in Louisiana and the studio that shot it, Moonbot, is located there). After the remarkable devastation Lessmore is saddened to witness the devastation around him. One of the great tragedies is that the storm swept the letters off the pages. Wandering along Lessmore spots a beautiful woman carried aloft on flying books tethered with ribbons. She casts one to Lessmore. The animated Humpty Dumpty pulls the protagonist into a world of enchanted books.
Anyone who loves books can tell you there's nothing fanciful here. Of course books have wings! Of course they enable us to fly. If you don't believe me then shut off your computer now and grab a book. And when you meet Mr. Morris Lessmore give him my regards.
This was a sparkling, well thought out, murder mystery. It dealt with the part of World War II that we seldom get to see on the screen. These four women had developed their minds to nearly super-human levels, only to let them rust in the decades following the war. This drama is set in that curious after-time. It's a time when hands that had once killed and maimed had to be placed in a domestic setting. Both the protagonists and villain were all products of that curious time. They captured the sense of mid- 50's London exquisitely. The piece was well cast, well filmed and well acted. I hope that we get to see more of the amazing women of Beltchley!
Hollywood has never reconciled with its silent past. Most of the infrastructure that supports the 21st century film industry, from film technique to the studios themselves, have their roots in the silent era. This film (and Martin Scorcesse's Hugo) helps to bridge that gap and does it brilliantly.
The two leads, Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, are spot on perfect in their performances. The direction of Michel Hazanavicius was pristine.
We're afforded glimpses of the lives of Douglas Fairbanks, John Gilbert, Gretta Garbo and other silent luminaries in this story of how Hollywood learned to talk.
This story is not exclusively for young or old, male or female, or any particular nationality. It's for anyone who loves cinema.
Some reviewers have attributed the failure of this miniseries to weak source material. I adored the novel Bag of Bones. The title comes from a Thomas Hardy quote that when authors try to breathe life into their characters, at their best, they're only a bag of bones. I felt that King animated these characters to be far more than that. I got very involved with Mike Noonan (the main character) and those whose life he touched.
Writer/director Mick Garris took this diaphanous weave of character and plot, cored it out, and threw in every bad horror movie cliché in its place. The result is an empty bag of pixels stretched out over four hours.
My heartfelt advice: take that four hours and invest it in reading the very good book or listening to King's reading in the audio book. It's far more satisfying.
I've read that the Warner's release, High Pressure, with William Powell, as the fast-talking pitchman Gar Evans, was a hit when it was released in January, 1932. Daryl Zanuck (writing as Mark Canfield) wrote a sequel. When Warner's couldn't get the writer of the original novel to agree to a price that they wanted to pay they transformed conman Gar Evans into the rapid-fire king-maker "Hal Blake." Instead of goods he was selling candidates. They bumped Powell (fearing a lawsuit if they used the same actor for similar characters) in favor of Warren William and the movie became The Dark Horse.
What a crackerjack little film! It had a large cast of assembly-line actors and crew who knew how to crank out a film hot enough to ignite the nitrate stock it was printed on. This film went through pre- production, production and post-production in time for its release in June, 1932. That's just five months after the film that inspired it! Its rushed release didn't show in its spot-on rapid fire dialog or delivery.
Other reviewers have whined about a later subplot involving Hal Blake's ex. By that time I was so completely won over the charms of this pre- code gem that I completely accepted, and enjoyed, the late curveball.
How could you not love a movie with a song like:
Upstate, downstate Cities and the sticks, The voters yell for change Even babies cry for Hicks! Boys and girls together Toms and Harrys and Dicks, Climb the big bandwagon, While they cast their vote for Hicks!
I know there are a lot of negative reviews of this film. As is often the case I'm glad that I shut myself off from them. I started with Green Lantern when I was in elementary school in the early 60's. If someone were to pull the Silver Age Green Lantern from my mind and splashed him onto celluloid the end result would have been this movie. I'm not comparing it to any other superhero film because I feel that Green Lantern is such a special character. The Green Lantern Corps (especially Sinestro), the Guardians of Oa, the reckless Hal Jordan - all of it rang true.
Martin Campbell has solid action creds. He was the perfect choice for director. It was well shot by Dion Beebe and solidly edited by Stuart Baird. The acting was okay, but, frankly, if I want good acting I'll re- watch ON THE WATERFRONT. This movie was pure fun, from first frame to last. I wouldn't have changed a thing.
Wonderful film - and a good companion piece to This Happy Breed
This is a letter perfect film taking in the sweep of time from 1900-1933 for a British upper-class family (the Marryots) and a family that serves them (the Bridges).
If you enjoyed Cavalcade you might want to see the 1944 film, This Happy Breed. I think of the two as companion pieces.
Cavalcade looked took an Upstairs-Downstairs approach, showing families at either end of the economic and class scale, from 1900-1933. This Happy Breed focuses on the Gibbons, a middle-class family, beginning with the end of the Great War to the start of World War II. It was the second film directed by David Lean.
The movies common ancestor is Noel Coward. Both films adapted from plays written by him.
I didn't like the movie. I didn't like the original TV show. I haven't bothered with its clones.
Finally, finally I've found a Stargate that I love.
What drew me to the show was the presence of Robert Carlyle. It's refreshing to find such a talented actor in a sci-fi series. There's no Trek. Battlestar's over. Babylon 5 is a warm memory. I'm pleased to elevate Stargate Universe, in all its dark plot twists, shadowy sets, deceitful characters with dubious motives, up to their ranks.
Don't listen to the whining. If you like any of those franchises, check out SGU.
When I saw WATCHMEN I had a reaction that I sadly seldom have with films today. My mind raced with a single burning question - "When can I see this again?" I'd been hearing of Alan Moore's graphic novel for years. People would talk about it in reverential tones. When I'd confess that I had never read it they'd give me a piteous look and, with the passion of true believers, urge me to read it as soon as possible.
Three years ago I did. When I finished I thought that, if anything, their praise simply wasn't lofty enough! This is a masterwork.
I held me breath at the prospect of someone trying to catch that lightening in a bottle. The cinematic road is littered with the bones of worthless suitors who've taken on the name of great works but not the heart.
Zack Snyder captured it completely. I have tried to describe it to others who haven't seen it. I'm frustrated at my lack of vocabulary in appraising this film. I keep using the word "amazing" over and over. Across the pages of a thousand thesauruses there must be other more adequate words. None come to mind.
Like many of you, I love movies. In every film that I've seen; sound and silent, short and feature length, narrative and documentary, a main character emerges. Sometimes, like in Fail-Safe and Dr. Strangelove, more than one emerges as part of a shifting focus, usually against the backdrop of a grand narrative. I've never seen a film, with the possible exception of very early cinema and raw news footage, where there is not even a pretense at a central character.
Instead, the city of Naples itself is the main character. With no disrespect meant to the men and women of Naples who faced the German Army, it's as though the city itself becomes a dog shaking off its deadly fleas.
Mall Megaplexes are jammed with the same few films, with different casts and titles perhaps, but stories told with a very limited scope. I encourage you to sample what great cinema looks like when told from a completely unique viewpoint.
So far I've only seen the pilot episode. I admit it. I've got a mad man-crush for this show.
The show's about Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) as a sort of a superhero. He's a human lie detector. He looks for dozens of subtle tells in the face and on the body. He's studied human communication so intensely that he always knows if someone is concealing something.
His company, so far, is involved with police and political matters. There's some significant room to bring in lots of personal interplay as well (we've seen a glimpse of that already).
This is from Imagine Entertainment, the company that does 24. I hope that, as the show evolves, that the fate of the planet doesn't rest on everything that Dr. Lightman does and says. One Jack Bauer is plenty, thanks.
I also hope that the show doesn't become driven by an overarching nemesis. Shows with a strong internal mythology and skin-tight story arcs can be fun, but we've seen so much of them lately that I wouldn't mind seeing the episodic adventures of a flawed hero trying to do something right.
If you have any affection for 50's monster movies, you'll love ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS. It's a valentine to the low-budget slapped together movies of a bygone era, most especially to the Lord of Low-Budgets, Roger Corman.
A low-budget film crew have realized that they have equipment and a location for a couple of extra days. Why not make another feature? That's exactly how Corman came to direct THE TERROR, in 1963 with Jack Nicholson and Boris Karloff. That movie was spontaneously filmed when Corman realized he had some leftover sets and a couple of days to spare after shooting THE RAVEN.
ATTACK OF THE BAT MONSTERS gracefully walks a fine line of celebrating bad movies without, itself, becoming a bad movie. It's not for everyone, but if you like the nasty old drive-in movies of that era, you'll love this one!
I think this show is screamingly funny! It's not for every taste, and I'm not going to elevate or denigrate the folks that don't get it. I'm sure they're wonderful bright people that operate at a different wavelength. But if you like it, you REALLY like it. Sarah plays a self-infatuated loser named "Sarah Silverman" who often finds her self in Homerian predicaments (that's "Homerian" as in "Homerian Simpsonian").
I remember Sarah Silverman from her brief gig on Saturday Night Live in the early 90's. I liked her immediately then and I go out of my way to check out anything she's done.
This show is choke-on-your-food-and-wet-your-pants funny. Therefore I always fast before watching it and wear adult diapers. Check it out!
Please don't think I'm exaggerating when I call this movie a "must see." Other reviews have called this film depressing. I agree, but for entirely different reasons. The depressing part comes in realizing that there seems to be no room for the sort of superb writing and spot-on flawless performances in a mature drama such as we have offered to us by THE BACHELOR PARTY.
The reason for the scarcity of wonderful films like this owes to the movie's origin as a TV-play, at a time when the young medium was still showing outstanding pieces written by writers like the author of this screenplay, Paddy Chayefsky.
I once read an interview with King Vidor, discussing his amazing 1928 classic, THE CROWD. He said that there were people that he didn't care for in his life, but that he didn't have any actual "villains." His goal was to make a movie that, like life, was free from external fiends and instead was peopled with characters that had some internal obstacles over which they must prevail. That's the sort of thing that Chayefsky so brilliantly captured in THE BACHELOR PARTY. Each character had some missing or broken part with which they struggled. Some seem to triumph over their problems. Some might eventually. Some, well, let's simply say they have a long road ahead.
It was great to see E.G. Marshall and Jack Warden together again after seeing them in another movie from the same year (1957) - 12 ANGRY MEN. It was wonderful to see Philip Abbot as the nervous groom. Folks of a certain age will mostly recall him from dozens of guest-star appearances on popular TV shows. I didn't realize that Larry Blyden, who I mostly remember from classic game shows like "Match Game," "What's My Line?" "Password" and "To Tell the Truth" was also such an accomplished actor. The lead, Don Murray, isn't as highly regarded today and what a pity that is. I can't recall a Don Murray performance that I didn't like. Check out BUS STOP (1956), A HAT FULL OF RAIN (1957), HOODLUM PRIEST (1961), BABY THE RAIN MUST FALL (1964) and THE BORGIA STICK (1967) to get an idea of what this remarkable performer is capable of doing. And finally, in small roles, it was fun to see a pre-"Addams Family" Carolyn Jones in a part that bagged her a Best Supporting Actress nomination and Nancy Marchand as a friend or the main character's wife. Many of you know her as the mother from hell to Tony Soprano.
I saw this film in 2006 with the Imaginative Cinema Society in Baltimore, MD. I hadn't seen it in some time. I was the murderous Jonathan Brewster in the play in high school. so I was very familiar with the material. I could even sit there and recite some of Raymond Massey's lines with him (just don't ask me to find my car keys from 10 minutes ago!).
What a pleasure! I could scarcely believe that this chestnut, released more than 6 decades before, held up so well.
Cary Grant, so suave and in control in other films, discovers he is under siege by a legion of corpses. This legion is composed of gentlemen who have been drafted to the cause. They have reached their terminus a tad prematurely thanks to the "kindness" of his lovely old aunts.
Grants leaping Mortimer, Massey's looming Jonathan and John Alexander bringing his stage role of Teddy to the screen; all under the hand of Frank Capra at the height of his powers, make this a wonderfully fresh and watchable comedy after all these years.
Let's see if anyone's writing about a current teen-slacker comedy in such glowing terms 6 decades hence.
I saw this movie with the Imaginative Cinema Society in Baltimore. Having the presence of so many friends around me was the only thing that elevated this movie from pain to pleasure.
Please, whatever you do, don't watch this movie alone! That would be the cinematic equivalent of drinking alone. This movie needs to be seen by rowdy mobs who can guffaw and wisecrack their way through the morass.
I've seen that some of my fellow comment-authors have tried to describe the plot. Another piece of advice - this reed thin whup-the-terrorist plot will generate more energy among the audience trying to discern it then was expended by the geniuses who cobbled this together.
Fuhget about plot! Like Plan 9, Robot Monster and the life works of Ray Dennis Steckler this movie is one of those mutant little runt-puppies that you've just gotta love. Let the movie with actual budgets and actual actors worry about actual plot. My advice is to just sit back, watch the pretty pictures and laugh!
I taped this movie from Turner Classic Movies. I intended to see 10-15 minutes of it to get a taste of the era and then say goodbye to it. I arrived at the figure "10-15 minutes" because I assumed that's all that I could stand without ripping out my eyeballs.
I'm happy to say that I survived the entire length of the movie with orbs still safely ensconced and a big goofy grin on my face. I love this movie! I understand things I didn't know before. I see that the British pop scene desperately needed the Beatles (and the rest of what we call, on this side of the pond, the "British Invasion") to come to its rescue. I understand why it was that every time I'd read an interview with a rising young British star of the era they'd always cite American jazzmen as leading influences on them. And I especially understand why Richard Lester was chosen to direct the Beatles' films. We see that same light-hearted touch with visual puns and a steady IV drip of surrealism.
I encourage you to see this movie if you have the chance. I promise you it will result in a far more pleasant and memorable experience then many of today's white elephants.
In most ways that matters, this is the perfect film. Yes, as an adapted stage-play it sometimes gets a little claustrophobic by modern standards that say movies are a collection of chase-scenes, fight-scenes, love-scenes and with the odd bit of dialog tossed in to grease the wheels. But in this age of special effects this film offers us two of the most spectacular effects there are - great writing and great performances.
I first saw this movie when I was 13 years old, in the spring of 1966, at the Paramount theater in Baltimore. When I walked into the theater, in my private universe, everyone had this thing in life that they were supposed to do, be it sinner or saint, business or baking. When I walked out that universe was closed forever. What if, I wondered, there is no fit? What if, like Murray Burns, life was made up of a series of trade-offs and compromises. As I write these words the Paramount has been dark for decades. Most of the movies that I saw have been digested and placed in their apportioned slots in my life. But not this one.
A THOUSAND CLOWNS is like a pig in a python for me. Its imprint is still fresh 41 years later.
Friends know that I'm "into" movies. I watch them. I sometimes write and lecture about them. Silent or sound, domestic or foreign, classics, b's, newly released - it doesn't matter. I'm fairly omnivorous. I'm often asked for my favorite movie. I never struggle for an answer or give out my top five. I simply smile and reply, "A THOUSAND CLOWNS." Some are puzzled by it. Most have never heard of it. None of them really seem to understand it.
My world changed in 1966 in ways that, even now, I'm still discovering. This is the movie that as present at the creation.
One last thing - if you want to put together an interesting double feature, watch this in tandem with King Vidor's 1928 masterwork, THE CROWD. The two films share some fascinating common themes.
I whine with the best (worst?) of 'em about the dearth of watchable TV with the departure of ANGEL, BUFFY, B-5 and some occasionally watchable TREK. So, when a series comes along that's doing something right I think it deserves some support.
BLADE is good TV. I never read the comics, but I enjoyed the first two films (and endured the third). It's got a decent lead character and some interesting mythology set-ups for a summer series on Spike TV. For example, remember all those vamps that Angel and Buffy dusted? What's up with that dust? On this series it's a sought after prize among a certain sub-strata of society. For a couple of hours it confers tremendous strength and speed on its mortal users. The downside? It also carries an intense bloodlust with it. Its users are easy to spot. They have a tendency to devour their own fingers to satiate their blood-hunger.
In this universe we don't have wanton turning of people into vamps. Vampire status is awarded a very select few who've likely been waiting for a long time for this precious benefit.
A primer for what's wrong with American cinema in the early 21st century
I read the fawning thoughts of my fellow-reviewers, marveling over what they consider a masterpiece of horror and suspense and I keep thinking, guys, you've really got to see more movies. "An American Haunting" is a piece of forgettable cinematic roadkill littering American screens today. It would be like calling bathtub flatulence a tsunami or a swarm of gnats a flock of eagles.
American cinema today confuses modest CGI & F/X shots for a story. It's almost an echo of early 20th century cinema just jump around a lot and the folks will love it! There's no depth or resonance to this movie.
The single greatest failing is its pacing. Once things start happening, fairly early on, the movie bumps and twitches along for about an hour and change. A truly frightening film should work like a roller coaster, a serene climb heavenward, followed by a 3-G plunge and a loopty-loop, then another slow steady spot, etc. Shock is effective when the audience never sees it coming. "An American Haunting" hyperactively jumps and jitters with no pause for that sense of safety that could have punched it up.
The result of this is that we never feel the horror. We watch the horror. Everything is strictly visual. Think back to movies that two of the leads were in earlier in their careers. I'm thinking of Donald Sutherland's "Don't Look Now" (1973) and Sissy Spacek's "Carrie" (1976). In both movies we felt what those characters were feeling. Their nightmare became ours. In "An American Haunting" we passively sit there as: (A) An actor starts twitching (B) The screen flickers into black & white (C) Composer Caine Davidson pounds us over the head with a non-stop, noisy, in-your-ear score.
There's no interior sense. No feel for a quiet terrible threat. As a result this feels more like a Halloween made-for-TV movie that would air on the Hallmark Channel than a legitimate masterwork of suspense that we'd see on the large screen.
The point-of-view is all messed up. The movie's supposed to be a letter from a mother to her daughter but keeps dipping into territory the mother couldn't possibly know. Is this the mother's story? The daughter's? We also get to see scenes from the father's and the entity's point-of-view.
Director Courtney Solomon's only other directing credit (according to the IMDb) is the 2000 "Dungeons & Dragons." I'm stunned that he was able to survive the wreckage of that film to release another (there must be a 5-year statute of limitations on nearly unwatchable drek). If you want a good scare we have about 100 years of cinema and dozens of wonderful examples. "An American Haunting" does not deserve to be on the same list as "The Haunting," "The Innocents," "Psycho" or any of numerous other horror classics.
In too many senses America's not, and has never been, "one nation," as depicted in its pledge of allegiance. This movie shows those terrible fault lines that run through our cultures and through our hearts. The principal characters almost all do something terrible in this movie. And they all do something wonderful. The film the offered the two best, and hardest to find, special effects - an amazing script and spot-on performances. If you haven't seen it yet see it. You'll be glad you did.
I am not familiar Paul Haggis - the movie's writer/director/producer. If this is indicative of what he's capable of doing I may have a new favorite filmmaker.