"The Young Philadelphians" (1959)
Nice early Paul Newman flick. It's adapted from some old Peyton Place-y novel, and has some delightfully catty moments, as well as a hefty dose of melodrama. Mostly, it's pretty engaging... and Newman was a super-hunk, uber-babe, mega-hotty. Mark Wahlberg shirtless? Child's play, compared to Newman in the big seduction scene here. Worth checking out.
"Cover Girl" (Columbia, 1944)
A dismally scripted, poorly choreographed Technicolor musical featuring Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth, both at their most lackluster. Phil Silvers is also in here -- also to no great effect. In fact, Eve Arden seems to be the only actor who even seems to be trying on this one. The costumes are grotesque, the sets are minimal and even the score - a collaboration between Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin -- is a dud. Why the movie guides like this one is a mystery to me. Only one good scene, when Kelly dances alongside his spectral reflection, other than that, this is strictly dullsville!
"You Were Never Lovelier" (1942, Columbia)
A delightful comedic pairing of the ever-babilicious Rita Hayworth and the ever-dashing Fred Astaire... A followup to their earlier hit, You'll Never Be Rich. The pacing on this film is great -- it hardly drags at all, has a great ensemble and some genuinely funny routines. The action is set in Argentina (although there's nary a bad accent to be heard in the entire film), and Latin bandleader Xavier Cugat provides all the musical backup. He also gets a BIG speaking part -- if you really want to see Cugie in full swing, this movie is the one to check out! His vocalist, the renowned Miguelito Valdes is also featured in a number at the film's start... Astaire, of course, is also a wonder to behold; these songs aren't his best, but he still shines while performing them! Recommended.
"Snoopy Come Home" (Paramount, 1972)
I think this might have been the first film I ever saw in a theatre by myself, at age 6. It didn't hold up as well as I hoped. Oh, well.
"A Farewell To Arms" (1932)
This seemed appropriate somehow... Tres melodramatic, but interesting cinematography. Very artsy.
"Kriemhild's Revenge" (1924)
Fritz Lang's adaptation of Richard Wagner's Rings Of The Niebelung, this episode is the sequel to the more fantastical and visually alluring Siegfreid, but it's still a great classic silent film. The special effects aren't as dazzling as Siegfreid, but the plot is much more compelling, as Kriemhild, a woman scorned, seeks her revenge against the carefree Siegfried. Modern viewers might find it hard to get on this film's wavelength, but I think that's largely due to the difference in cinematic vocabularies. For those willing to let go of modern notions of what an action film should be like, this Germanic fairy tale certainly has its charms. Plotwise, some harsh stuff.... and who ever expected themselves to feel sorry for Attila the Hun?
"Orchestra Wives" (1942, Fox)
Swing king Glenn Miller plays himself (sort of) as a bandleader with woman problems... problems with women married to his musicians!! A mildly interesting attempt to introduce some melodramatic social commentary about the strains that life on the road can impose on even the best marriages... A few campy catfights don't keep the wives' club scenes from dragging down the script, but the music is great. Highlights include the opening number, "People Like Us," which gives us a good look at the whole band, and a typically dazzling tap routine by the Nicholas Brothers, during the "I Got A Gal From Kalamazoo" medley finale. Miller plays his role with a surprisingly hardbitten edge; Cesar Romero, Jackie Gleason beef up the cast, and it's always a hoot to see Harry Morgan in one of his early roles as a teenage geek. Some funny references to the wartime swing scene.
"The Real Glory" (MGM, 1937)
Rented the night before the World Trade Center bombings, this pre-WWII action film had an eerie feel later in the week, as Gary Cooper plays an Army doctor contending with Muslim fanatics in the Philippines -- including grim assassins who attacked the Army leaders in suicide missions that they believed would send them to heaven, with the blessing of Allah. Besides the creepy timeliness, this is also a gripping action film; raw, realistic and well-paced, this is a fascinating movie, even if its historical accuracy is somewhat questionable.
"One Touch Of Venus" (Republic, 1948)
Nice light comedy with Ava Gardner at her most babilicious. She plays the Roman goddess of love, here on Earth to see what we mere mortals are up to these days. Suffice it to say, she gets a lot of action as all the guys drool each times she passes their way. Easy to recast for the present day: Joshua Jackson could play the hero, Eddie Hatch (originally played by Robert Walker), Liv Tyler --of course -- would be Venus (Ava Gardner), Janeanne Garafolo as the Jane Hathaway-like Molly Stewart (Eve Arden) and Renee O'Connor (Gabrielle from TV's Xena) as Gloria, the other girl (Olga San Juan). It's too bad Tim Curry is too old to play Dick Haymes' part... at times he's a dead ringer, but perhaps Leonardo Decaprio or some other hottie could play the department store head, Mr. Savory (Tom Conway).
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