Author Topic: 1945 Retrospots: Discovery Project  (Read 3909 times)

Teproc

  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2434
Re: 1945 Retrospots: Discovery Project
« Reply #160 on: August 26, 2017, 02:15:16 PM »
Detour (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1945)

A noir with an initially interesting premise that gradually becomes silly to the point of absurdity, and the wettest blanket you've ever seen as a protagonist. I thought MacMurray was a vacuum of charisma in Double Indemnity, but that's only because I hadn't yet stared into the abyss that is Tom Neal here. A whiny abyss, too. Ann Savage's unhinged performance is really the film's saving grace, chewing the scenery as the villainous and domineering Vera... not that there's much to dominate, but still.

4/10

1SO

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 29624
  • Marathon Man
Re: 1945 Retrospots: Discovery Project
« Reply #161 on: August 28, 2017, 09:31:40 PM »

Pillow to Post
"Love is a beautiful thing."
"I get two hours of it every Saturday night at a movie. That's enough for me."


I hate to be down on Ida Lupino, because she's so talented and rarely mentioned except as a pioneer female director in Hollywood. She also happens to be a great dramatic actress, but her wonderful toughness doesn't naturally soften for comedy. In Pillow to Post I can see her trying to be funny, with broad expressions and a delivery that's trained instead of instinctual. The artificial performance only further drags this overly-complicated plot away from screwball into TV sitcom land.

The supporting cast is TV sitcom gold, with Sydney Greenstreet, Ruth Donnelly, child star Robert Blake and Willie Best. (Best will activate your racism reflex, but he has most of the best lines.) There's also a sweet musical performance by Louis Armstrong and Dorothy Dandridge.

Rating: * * 1/2, #45 out of 83 for 1945

Possible Nominations: none

pixote

  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 32603
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
Re: 1945 Retrospots: Discovery Project
« Reply #162 on: October 06, 2017, 12:56:56 AM »


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn  (Elia Kazan, 1945)

It took me two tries to watch this movie, and now I'm struggling even more to write about it. I'm not sure what the block is. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is, on paper, exactly the kind of film I've needed lately but I could only muster up minimal enthusiasm for it. Elia Kazan's direction might be partly to blame there; I've never been a huge fan of his filmmaking. Young Peggy Ann Garner carries much of the film, impressively so. I'm eager now to see her in something else perhaps Junior Miss, the other film for which she was honored with the Oscar for best child actress of 1945. I just wish I'd been more affected by the surrounding story. I could really have used a good cry. I'm glad, at least, I was finally inspired to take this book off my shelf.

Potential Nominations: Art Direction, Juvenile Performance

Grade: B-

pixote
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

pixote

  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 32603
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
Re: 1945 Retrospots: Discovery Project
« Reply #163 on: November 26, 2017, 12:22:45 AM »


Scarlet Street  (Fritz Lang, 1945)

Review here.

Grade: C+

Possible Nominations: Best Actor (Edward G. Robinson)
     

My Name Is Julia Ross  (Joseph H. Lewis, 1945)

Review here.

Grade: B-

Possible Nominations: Hidden Gem



I doubt there's room on my ballot for either of these, but I'm happy to have watched them.

pixote
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

Teproc

  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2434
Re: 1945 Retrospots: Discovery Project
« Reply #164 on: January 07, 2018, 02:50:47 PM »
Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz, 1945)

My first Joan Crawford film! She's quite good. The film very much feels like the adaptation that it is in that it is more of a succession of events than a coherent story, with characters going through huge events and undergoing massive changes in a matter of minutes. We rarely get the time to sit with the characters (aside from Mildred herself), which proves especially problematic with Mildred's older daughter. There's a lot to unpack there, and the film doesn't let the character breathe enough for the developments around her to really work. It leaves a lot on the performers' shoulders, which works well with Jack Carson and Eve Arden, who play their characters big (and entertaining), less so for Ann Blyth as Mildred's daughter, Bruce Bennett as her first husband and, to a lesser extent, Zachary Scott.

Having not read the source material or seen the Todd Haynes miniseries (which I'm curious about now), I didn't know the noir structure of a flashback and a bit of a murder mystery was the film's invention, but I found it worked pretty well: now it looks like a genre mashup, but weren't noir just called melodramas at the time ?

The other problem I have here is one that goes with the period, and that's the ending. I'm guessing it's a Hayes Code thing, but it undermines the whole film and especially Crawford's performance as Mildred so badly that you can't just overlook it: it's there in the film, and it's pretty terrible.

6/10

Potential nominations:
Actress (Joan Crawford)
Supporting Actor (Jack Carson)
Cinematography

Teproc

  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2434
Re: 1945 Retrospots: Discovery Project
« Reply #165 on: March 25, 2018, 12:12:06 PM »
"I Know Where I'm Going!" (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1945)

A very charming romance, pretty basic in most ways except for its setting. The first five minutes or so are pretty awkwardly written, and mostly there to quickly set up the plot and get us to Scotland. I found myself regretting that this wasn't Technicolor, but the Hebrides looked stunning all the same in B&W, and the location gives the film a lot of character. Livesey and Hiller are quite good, but mostly I enjoyed the flurry of varied Scottish accents the ensemble cast had going on: I don't know if that indicates idiosyncratic versimilitude or complete lack of care, but it made a lot of these secondary or tertiary characters instantly distinctive, and mostly likable. I can't say the chemistry between the leads was anything that special, but it worked well enough, and really that's the whole film in a nutshell: a solid romance with a great setting. Good enough for me.

7/10

Potential nominations
Cinematography
Ensemble Cast
Actor (Roger Livesey)

Teproc

  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2434
Re: 1945 Retrospots: Discovery Project
« Reply #166 on: May 12, 2018, 04:03:40 AM »
Leave Her to Heaven (John M. Stahl, 1945)



A confusing watch for me, as I was constantly torn between the mood of the film, with its constant tension and its great use of Technicolor and gorgeous locations, and the performances within it. Leaving aside Tierney for a second, we have our usual wet blanket noir protagonist in Cornel Wilde, an utterly lost Vincent Price hamming it up in courtroom scenes that feel like they're out of another movie altogether (one that looks more fun than this one though), and a younger brother (Darryl Hickman) that I'm now convinced inspired the young character in The Room.

The women fare much better, though I'm also conflicted about Tierney, who is almost mannered to the point of parody, and never brings humanity to her psychopatic (probably abused by her stepfather, right ?) character, choosing to portray a very fetching space alien instead. It is distinctive and memorable though, and the film is too interesting for me to fully dismiss, but I did not have a great time with it.

5/10

Potential nominations:

Cinematography

pixote

  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 32603
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
Re: 1945 Retrospots: Discovery Project
« Reply #167 on: July 04, 2018, 04:10:03 PM »


Falbalas  (Jacques Becker, 1945)

I would guess that this film was part of Paul Thomas Anderson's research when preparing Phantom Thread. It's set inside a Parisian fashion house of designer Philippe Clarence (Raymond Rouleau), a selfish, narcissistic jerk of the highest order. Women can't get enough of him, apparently, nor he of them. His whole world seems to consist of seamstresses and models, many of whom are also sexual conquests that act as disposable muses for the genius. (I couldn't keep them all straight.) There are three exceptions: Solange (Gabrielle Dorziat), the cool, spinsterish backbone of the house (whom I took to be Philippe's sister, but I may have just been thinking of Lesley Manville); Daniel Rousseau (Jean Chevrier), a debonair silk manufacturer who seems to be Philippe's best (only?) friend; and Micheline Lafaurie (Micheline Presle), Daniel's new fiancee, whom the ever horrible Philippe starts seducing the second he meets her (in rapey fashion).

The film opens with Philippe dead on the ground, clutching a mannequin in a wedding gown; a great hook. The rest of the film flashes back to the events that lead up to this moment, allowing me, as a viewer, to take solace in the fact that Philippe would inevitably die. I hated being around him, and I judged other characters for tolerating him, let alone falling in love with him. The story has the shape of a tragedy, but the more sympathetic characters (Daniel, Solange, and discarded lover Anne-Marie) are too peripheral. I had no investment in the mutual heartbreak of Philippe and Micheline because their actions are either too distasteful or too incomprehensible. The only character I truly cared about was the mannequin, who seemed a lovely metaphor for Philippe's dream woman: all surface beauty, loyal and unchanging, with no inner self or free will.

Becker, in his second directorial effort, makes the film much more watchable and interesting that I've made it out to be so far. The milieu of the Parisian fashion world doesn't interest me all that much, but Paris Frills (as it's sometimes known) does well to immerse us in it completely and immediately, without much context or exposition. It's a fast-moving world, and Becker doesn't necessarily wait for us get up to speed with it (usually for the best). I also appreciated Becker's occasional willingness to linger on seemingly extraneous things, like a group of kids meeting up in the park; those moments help let the story breathe, keeping it from getting too overwrought. The use of a ping-pong game to elevate the unspoken tension of a key scene is rather masterfully done; and Becker's direction of the final scene manages to wring artistic elegance out of some borderline silly writing.

The seems like a film that Otto Preminger would have loved, and that's probably part of my problem with it.

Potential Nominations: Art Direction

Grade: C+

pixote
« Last Edit: July 04, 2018, 04:14:45 PM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

pixote

  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 32603
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
Re: 1945 Retrospots: Discovery Project
« Reply #168 on: July 06, 2018, 11:11:09 PM »


Quote from: Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide
Corn Is Green, The (1945) 114m. ★★★ D: Irving Rapper. Bette Davis, Nigel Bruce, John Dall, Joan Lorring, Rhys Williams, Rosalind Ivan, Mildred Dunnock. Thoughtful acting in this story of devoted middle-aged teacher Davis in Welsh mining town coming to terms with her prize pupil. Emlyn Williams' play was adapted by Casey Robinson and Frank Cavett. Remade, beautifully, for TV with Katharine Hepburn in 1979.

The Corn Is Green  (Irving Rapper, 1945)

According to Wikipedia, Davis returned to this role in the 1970s in a musical stage adaptation that transplanted the story to the American South. Even though that production was a disaster, I almost wish the 1945 film had taken a similar approach to adapting Willams' play. There's a surprising amount of singing in Rapper's film you know how miners are after work but it remains largely peripheral, unable to impede on the theatricality of the story. I would have loved for the film to use those miners as more of a foregrounded chorus. Also, moving the story out of Wales would have been a blessing, if only to get the film out of the shadow cast by How Green Was My Valley. I generally try not to let the existence of an earlier film factor into my criticism e.g., "How can you like Y when X did it so much better?" but I couldn't escape that feeling here. The Corn Is Green feels rather stilted and artificial compared to Ford's film.

Suffice it to say, this isn't the film I wanted it to be. That extends to the story as well. I would have been very happy to see Bette Davis's Goodbye, Mrs. Chips, with all the conventions of the inspiring teacher narrative. In actuality, Davis' character does very little teaching in the film. She's more of a school administrator half principal, half guidance counselor and Morgan Evans, the star pupil played by John Dall, is practically a co-lead. That's unfortunate, because Morgan Evans (they say his name five thousand times) is a rather bland character and John Dall is no Bette Davis. It doesn't help that he looks all all of his twenty-four years when he's supposed to be playing a teenager; but he also just doesn't project any of the hidden intelligence his character is supposed to possess. He's all surface.

Besides Davis' character, the most interesting figure in the film is the town itself, and it too gets too little screen time. The film is at its most entertaining when Davis' fierce progressivism clashes with the ingrained traditionalism of the community, as represented by the "Squire" character played by Nigel Bruce. Bruce is fine here, if perhaps overused (a little of his schtick goes a long way), but his greatest contribution is merely providing a foil for Davis, especially with his chauvinism bringing out Davis' wonderful feminism. I wish more of the story had followed along those lines; it's another reason why the focus on a single student instead of a wide array of students is regrettable.

I really liked Joan Lorring in the first half of the film, when she's a completely minor (and somewhat confounding) character. There's a strong vividness and even electricity to her performance (which feels more 1950s than 1940s), and it really helped enliven the film. I correctly guessed that she'd originated the role on stage it just has that feel to it. When her character's role in the story becomes more overblown in the second half, Lorring's performance unfortunately follows suit. I still liked her more than Mildred Dunnock, who seemed to spend the movie doing an impression of Glinda the Good Witch.

Possible Nominations: Best Actress - Bette Davis, Best Supporting Actor - John Dall, Best Hidden Gem
Oscar Nomination: Best Supporting Actor - John Dall, Best Supporting Actress - Joan Lorring
Chances that somebody else will watch this: 95% chance that Sandy will seek this out

I wish I could join you on that Hidden Gem consideration, but I was just too disappointed. Even my grade below feels generous more a product of how much I wanted to like the movie than of how much I actually liked it. And, as implied above, I preferred Lorring's performance to Dall's, but I don't rally see this film making my final ballot at all, alas.

Potential Nominations: Actress (Bette Davis), Supporting Actress (Joan Lorring)

Grade: B-

pixote
« Last Edit: July 06, 2018, 11:13:11 PM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.