July 2006 – Elizabeth Taylor

July 2006 – Elizabeth Taylor

July 1-5 – I’m trying something a little bit different this summer. Because of time constraints (and the fact that I’ve added index pages) this section will now only include links to my newest reviews and brief comments on other films for which I haven’t written (at least) capsules.

Alibi Ike (1935) – an all new capsule review!

Angels In The Outfield (1951) – this original version of the divine assisted baseball team is an enjoyable comedy worth seeing if you haven’t. The lead cast includes Paul Douglas Janet Leigh (miscast too young!) Keenan Wynn Lewis Stone and Spring Byington. The supporting players include Hall of Fame ballplayers Ty Cobb & Joe Dimaggio as well as Bing Crosby (as himself) and Barbara Billingsley!

Fear Strikes Out (1957) – A terrific drama starring Anthony Perkins as Major League baseball player Jimmy Piersall about his mental struggles. Also with Karl Malden.

The Wiz (1978) – a TCM premiere!

Wizard of Oz (1925) – a TCM premiere!

tom thumb (1958) – nothing great about this Russ Tamblyn (in the title role) feature story-wise though it is a decent family film that did win an Oscar for Best Effects; and you can catch Peter Sellers and Terry-Thomas in supporting roles.

The 5000 Fingers Of Dr. T. (1953) – received an Academy Award nomination for its Score; proves Hayao Miyazaki wasn’t the first to author of wildly creative stories (making one wonder if he was taking hallucinogenic drugs) Dr. Seuss was the first! Bizarre boring too.

Without Reservations (1946) – an all new capsule review!

Edge of Outside (2006) – a TCM premiere documentary!

Faces (1968) – a TCM premiere!

A Woman Under the Influence (1974) – a TCM premiere!

July 6-July 12

The Romance of Rosy Ridge (1947) – an all new full review!

Lassie Come Home (1943) – a family classic featuring the famous titled collie who returns home against all odds after an incredible journey to her family which includes Donald Crisp Elsa Lanchester and child actor Roddy McDowall. Dame May Whitty Elizabeth Taylor (in only her second film) Edmund Gwenn and Nigel Bruce (to whom with Taylor Lassie had been sold by the impoverished family) also appear. Nominated for a Best Color Cinematography Oscar it was added to the National Film Registry in 1993. Hugo Butler (Edison the Man (1940)) adapted Eric Knight’s novel of the same name.

The Ipcress File (1965) – pretty good spy movie with Michael Caine in a star making role as secret agent Harry Palmer from the Len Deighton novels. Begins rather slowly but moves quickly once the bodies start piling up. Also with Nigel Green Guy Doleman Sue Lloyd and Gordon Jackson.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962) – an all new essential capsule review!

Tokyo Drifter (1966) – a TCM premiere!

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) – Directed by Robert Aldrich this movie adapted from the Mickey Spillane novel features Ralph Meeker as Mike Hammer who picks up a trench-coat clothed hysterical woman (Cloris Leachman in her film debut) on a lonely highway at night only to find out that she’s an escaped mental patient. After he’s almost killed when some unknown assailants do succeed in murdering her Hammer is questioned by the police. He then decides to unravel the mystery himself which leads to the discovery of a dangerous (e.g. Pandora’s) box and one of the most bizarre movie endings you’ll ever see. Also with Albert Dekker Paul Stewart Juano Hernandez and Maxine Cooper. Added to the National Film Registry in 1999.

Murder My Sweet (1944) – From director Edward Dmytryk & John Paxton (Crossfire (1947)) who wrote the screenplay for this Raymond Chandler novel named "Farewell My Lovely" this above average murder mystery follows detective Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell) as he’s hired by two clients for different yet intertwined purposes. It also stars Claire Trevor (Key Largo (1948)) the lovely Anne Shirley (Stella Dallas (1937)) Otto Kruger and that "big lug" Mike Mazurki among others. Worth a look.

Dark Passage (1947) – one of the four great Bogie & Bacall pairings. This film noir has Bogart as a man falsely accused of murdering his wife he escapes and searches for the real killer with help from Bacall and trouble from Agnes Moorehead.

The Nutty Professor (1963) – pretty good Jerry Lewis comedy later remade with Eddie Murphy also featuring Stella Stevens. Added to the National Film Registry in 2004.

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) – Directed by Robert Aldrich this movie adapted from the Mickey Spillane novel features Ralph Meeker as Mike Hammer who picks up a trench-coat clothed hysterical woman (Cloris Leachman in her film debut) on a lonely highway at night only to find out that she’s an escaped mental patient. After he’s almost killed when some unknown assailants do succeed in murdering her Hammer is questioned by the police. He then decides to unravel the mystery himself which leads to the discovery of a dangerous (e.g. Pandora’s) box and one of the most bizarre movie endings you’ll ever see. Also with Albert Dekker Paul Stewart Juano Hernandez and Maxine Cooper. Added to the National Film Registry in 1999.

Heaven Can Wait (1978) – This remake of the classic Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) won an Oscar for Art Direction-Set Decoration. The film’s producer co-director (with Buck Henry) & co-screenwriter (with Elaine May) Warren Beatty stars as football quarterback Joe Pendleton who’s mistakenly taken early to the afterlife by an escort (Henry). So he’s put back on Earth (by James Mason) in the person of a billionaire named Farnsworth whose wife (Diane Cannon) and lover (Charles Grodin) have just murdered him as a placeholder until a more appropriate body can be found. After surprising the co-conspirators by still being alive Farnsworth meets a pretty Brit (Julie Christie) who’s protesting against the billionaire’s anti-environment plans. When Pendleton as Farnsworth changes these she falls in love with him. Only Pendleton’s friend Max (Jack Warden) knows his true identity; Farnsworth asks Max to help him get into football playing shape. Vincent Gardenia appears as the police officer investigating the strange goings-on. Nominated for Best Picture Director Screenplay Cinematography and Score. Actors Beatty Cannon and Warden also received nominations.

Angel On My Shoulder (1946) – maybe not the greatest film but definitely entertaining and definitely worth watching IMO. Paul Muni didn’t make another film for 5 years after this one not sure why. Claude Rains plays the Devil in it and Anne Baxter plays Muni’s character’s girlfriend.

The Red Lily (1924) – an all new full review!

As You Like It (1936) – nearly unwatchable film version of Shakespeare’s comedy about a young woman (Elisabeth Bergner) who disguises herself as a man to win the attention of the one she loves (Laurence Olivier). See Olivier wrestle!

Raffles (1939) – an all new full review!

Tom Jones (1963) – a TCM premiere and an all new review!

Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) – an all new capsule review!

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) – an all new essential capsule review!

Absence of Malice (1981) – Screenwriter Kurt Luedtke received his first Oscar nomination before he won for 1985’s Best Picture winner; Paul Newman & Melinda Dillon received acting nominations Sally Field also stars.

A Woman of Paris (1923) – Though this film doesn’t feature the actor Chaplin (though he does appear in a very brief unrecognizable cameo) it is a pretty good film featuring Edna Purviance as a presumably jilted woman who goes to Paris to sew her oats as Adolphe Menjou’s lover. When her former fiancé Jean (Carl Miller) returns she learns that there was a misunderstanding regarding their failed elopement and can’t decide what to do … neither can Jean who’s influenced by his mother. Not a comedy!

Orson Welles: The Tragedy of Othello The Moor of Venice (1952) – though highly thought of I couldn’t stay awake watching this Cannes Film Festival winner from Orson Welles.

Henry V (1944) – Laurence Olivier won a special Oscar for his writing his direction and his playing the title role in his production of Shakespeare’s story. He had received two nominations Best Actor & Best Picture; the film’s Art Direction & Score were also nominated. Too dull for my tastes.

July 13-19

We’re Only Human (1936) – an all new full review!

Mephisto (1983) – a TCM premiere!

The Importance of Being Earnest (1952) – an all new full review!

Monkey Business (1931) – not quite as funny as most of their movies but still a pretty good Marx Brothers film featuring a few classic scenes. The four brothers are traveling to America as stowaways on a cruise ship during which they become involved with competing "gangsters". Groucho falls for one of their molls played by Thelma Todd.

Thunder Road (1958) – an all new capsule review!

Foreign Correspondent (1940) – this week’s TCM Essential and an all new capsule review!

For Heaven’s Sake (1926) – very good Harold Lloyd comedy silent

James Cagney’s birthday

The Odd Couple (1968) – this second successful comedy pairing of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau later made into a TV series with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman earned Neil Simon his first Academy recognition (an Oscar nomination for his writing; its Editing was also nominated)

‘G’ Men (1935) – an all new full review!

The Last Gangster (1937) – an all new full review!

Born to be Bad (1950) – an all new full review!

On Dangerous Ground (1951) – Directed and adapted by Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause (1955)) this drama features Ida Lupino as a blind woman who’s brother (Sumner Williams) is a murder suspect being hunted by too rough street cop Robert Ryan. Ward Bond Ed Begley and Ian Wolfe among others also appear.

July 20-July 26

Kind Lady (1951) – an all new full review!

Day of Wrath (1943) – A gem by director (and writer) Carl Theodor Dreyer. An engaging film about an aging minister who marries a young wife only to have his son return from divinity college. Can you guess what happens? Kind of a Salem witchcraft and Scarlett Letter tale wrapped into one.

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) – an all new full review!

Million Dollar Mermaid (1952) – an all new full review!

Soylent Green (1973) – though there is no great mystery or intrigue about what the titled substance is made of in this futuristic film focused on the problems of overpopulation this Charlton Heston film is noteworthy in that it features the great Edward G. Robinson’s last performance on film that of a man who would give his life to see the beauty of our unspoiled country once again (even if it’s only a virtual reality).

Cops (1922) – one of the many essential Buster Keaton silent comedy shorts; this 18 minute classic was added to the National Film Registry in 1997

The Narrow Margin (1952) – A relatively short film yet highly regarded. A gangster’s former moll (Marie Windsor) asks for protection which the police provide during her train journey to police headquarters where she’ll be expected to give testimony against her former lover. The cop (Charles McGraw) assigned to escort her is not so friendly and is perhaps even a little resentful at first but must do his job against the odds. Directed by Richard Fleischer (Design for Death (1947)) it was nominated for a Best Writing Motion Picture Story Oscar.

George Washington Slept Here (1942) – an all new full review!

Northwest Passage (1940) – nominated for a Color Cinematography Oscar this true story of Rogers’ Rangers features Spencer Tracy as the famous Major from the French and Indian (pre-Revolutionary) War times. Robert Young Walter Brennan Ruth Hussey and Nat Pendleton also appear in this King Vidor directed film.

The Ghost Breakers (1940) – this is the only clip I’ve seen of this comedy

Love Me Or Leave Me (1955) – this true story of singer Ruth Etting & her relationship with the gangster who made her a star gives you an opportunity to see two special (and different) performances by Doris Day & James Cagney. Cagney’s performance was Oscar nominated and the film received a total of six nominations winning one for Motion Picture Story Writing.

Nashville (1975) – Producer/director Robert Altman earned two Academy Award nominations Supporting Actor Keith Carradine’s song "I’m Easy" won the Oscar. Ronee Blakley & Lily Tomlin earned their only Academy recognition (to date) with Supporting Actress nominations. This musical drama also stars Ned Beatty Karen Black Shelley Duvall Henry Gibson and many other recognizable actors in early roles.

July 27

Born Free (1966) – a great movie to see with preteen children who love animals with an unforgettable score. It’s about a game warden and his wife in Africa who befriend a lion cub which grows to big to keep as a pet. So they then have to teach it to be able to survive on its own. The titled song and John Barry’s score won Oscars (his first of four!).

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) – Directed by Howard Hawks and featuring Marilyn Monroe’s famous "Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend" performance this slightly above average musical romantic comedy also stars Jane Russell Charles Coburn Elliot Reid and Tommy Noonan (among others).

The Spirit of the Beehive (1973) – a TCM premiere!

Hope and Glory (1987) – a TCM premiere! Producer Director Screenplay writer John Boorman (Deliverance (1972)) received the last of his three Academy Award nominations for this semi-autobiographical drama about a boy growing up in London during World War II and the Germans’ bombings; the film was also nominated for its Art Direction-Set Decoration & Cinematography.

Blossoms in the Dust (1941) – an all new full review!

The Opposite Sex (1956) – an all new full review!

Dark Passage (1947) – one of the four great Bogie & Bacall pairings. This film noir has Bogart as a man falsely accused of murdering his wife he escapes and searches for the real killer with help from Bacall and trouble from Agnes Moorehead.

The Land That Time Forgot (1975) – a TCM premiere!

Tarzan The Ape Man (1932) – the original the classic featuring Johnny Weissmuller in the title role Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane C. Aubrey Smith as her father & Neil Hamilton as her boyfriend. Directed by W.S. Van Dyke and based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel.

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