Cinemagraphe

CINEMAGRAPHE

LAST UPDATE June 13, 2022

Reviews of Classic Film, with artwork and news


Edward Andrews

Dward Andrews

Easily recognized character actor who appeared in 187 film and TV show roles (for example, he has 8 film appearances in 1964 alone). Born October 9, 1914 in Griffin, Georgia. Died March 8, 1985 in Santa Monica, California.


Fast Review: The Brass Bottle – 1964

Tony Randall's character of Harold Ventimore in The Brass Bottle is an architect who purchases an antique brass bottle which, when unsealed, releases Burl Ives (as Fakrash, though his name sounds like "back-rash") in a genie suit. Fakrash has been locked up in the bottle for 3,000 years, but is ready and willing to magically produce any wish his new, young, 20th century master has for him. On the surface, this seems like just what Ventimore needs, a poor nebbish up against professional failure and the expectations of his girlfriend (Barbara Eden, who is not a genie in this film) and her overbearing family.

A significant part of this film is Randall simply refusing to utilize the genie's power, so Fakrash takes matters into his own hands and creates a variety of comedic scenes involving unasked for wishes involving gold bars, an army of slaves, clients for Ventimore's architectural skills, and of course, belly dancers (particularly "Lulu Porter, International Dancing Sensation" as she is listed on the trailer and advertising materials).

Fighting against this windfall of wealth and success is Ventimore's primary duty for most of the movie, and in this way The Brass Bottle mimics a similar problem plaguing Tony Randall in the 1957 Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? which had the same dilemma of Randall's character getting everything his ambition seems to want, but seeing it hilariously destroy his life. This was far better demonstrated in the earlier movie, and in The Brass Bottle the tale never really establishes its phantasy world beyond the level of a TV sitcom (in fact, the later I Dream of Jeannie TV Show did this aspect better), and aside from Burl Ive's energetic portrayal and Randall looking effortless playing a character type he'd already done many times before (and would do many times again), plus a veteran cast of character actors like Edward Andrews and Philip Ober, the script simply turns into a series of episodes about the peculiar effects a genie has on Ventimore's world, and there's no question made about where all of this power is coming from however surprised everyone is when it happens right in front of them.

At some point the ironic twist of the film would be how to put the genie back in the bottle, and the point of the genie would be the temptations of the world against the desires of a "saint" (though only the Hollywood version of one, which is Randall's character). But none of this really happens, and though there is plenty of wit in the dialogue and the cast is fine (though Kathie Browne and Richard Erdman as beatniks Hazel and Seymour Jenks seem bizarrely more artificial than even Burl Ives in a genie getup) the film simply lacks a certain amount of logical cohesion, even for the rather looser-standards of a fantasy film about a genie, belly-dancers, and imaginative blue-screen projection special effects.

At times Fakrash is played gleefully by Ives, and is the best part of the film, and one can only wish the producers and scriptors (screenplay by Oscar Brodneyn from a novel by Thomas Anstey Guthrie) could have let Ives exploit the role further. But as it is, The Brass Bottle is undercut by its own lack of ambition, never getting completely free of the bottle.


Mini-Review: Maleficent II: Mistress of Evil

Maleficent Angelina Jolie

The tale in Maleficent II: Mistress of Evil is mostly about the relationship between "Mother" (Maleficent played by Angelina Jolie) and "Beasty" (the character is actually named Aurora, is a princess, and is played by Elle Fanning) which is stretched to the breaking point by the extreme Machiavellian machinations of evil Queen Ingrith (played by Michelle Pfeiffer).

The two combatting leads of Jolie and Pfieffer are given a heavy veneer of makeup, are heavily filtered, but so is a great deal of the rest of the film which is bathed deeply in the river of Disney's "more is more" aesthetic...

Read review of Maleficent Mistress of Evil



A bio-pic of Billy Wilder is comingheyuguys

Christoph Waltz has signed up to play the iconic filmmaker Billy Wilder in the Stephen Frears directed ‘Billy Wilder and Me.... A part coming-of-age story, part true-life portrait of the beloved Billy Wilder (Waltz), the film is set during the summer of 1977, when an innocent young woman begins working for the famed director and his screenwriter Iz Diamond on a Greek island during the filming of Fedora...



Jungle Rules and nostalgia for the past

Review: Divorce - 1945

Divorce with Kay Francis and Helen Mack

"I was just playing the rules as they put them down. Jungle rules, if you know what I mean."

Kay Francis stars in and is the producer for Divorce, a Monogram film from 1945 in which an old flame (Kay as Dianne Carter) returns after four lucrative divorces to her old hometown, where she then proceeds to steal her childhood boyfriend Bob (Bruce Cabot) from his wife Martha (Helen Mack).

When Kay's character is first introduced aboard a train headed to her hometown, the camera focuses directly on her long legs then moves up to show us the whole person. When we last see her in Divorce (in both instances she is talking with the same train porter played by Napoleon Simpson), her legs are covered up by her fur coat aboard a train as she flees the town. Director William Nigh shows us that she is no longer "hunting," and her thoughtful (though troubled) demeanor, as the train porter comments on, tells us that Dianne Carter has been changed.

More Review of DIvorce – 1945 with Kay Francis


Mini-Review: Star Wars Rogue One - 2016

Unexpected! A faster, more enjoyable Star Wars movie than the bombastic The Force Awakens. Director Gareth Edwards keeps the tale pushing forward and has less overhead baggage than the J.J. Abrams film from 2015, though Rogue One is also littered with references to the famous original Lucas films (which makes sense, of course, Rogue One is a true prequel to the 1977 Star Wars).

A technological innovation is a CGI Peter Cushing (as Grand Moff Tarkin) and this is both bizarre and amazing. It's also not completely successful, he's obviously not the real Cushing and isn't a genuine filmed human being. The same goes for the end section where Carrie Fisher is "re-youthed" by CGI, but her eyes sort of float on her face a bit in a way that just isn't real.

CGI complaints aside, once Rogue One sets up its objective, it pounds forward like a World War II commando film, and the main cast (Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, and Alan Tudyk as the robot K-2SO) are quite likeable and warm, though they're not on screen to build up their characters past a certain point, but rather to accomplish the plot goals that connects Rogue One to the 1977 Star Wars and then to die in a blaze of glory, and they certainly accomplish that. If someone had predicted the ossified Star Wars franchise could produce a fast-moving suicide-mission war film as part of it's offerings, I would've thought that was a bridge too far.

I wish the whole batch of new Star Wars films could all be this slightly shlocky and have this much verve.


Ray Liotta has died

Ray Liotta

Obits:

Actor Ray Liotta has died in the Dominican RepublicABC News

Critics, fans and colleagues react to Ray Liotta’s death at 67Washington Post

Ray Liotta, star of Goodfellas and Field of Dreams, dies aged 67UK Guardian

Jamie Lee Curtis, Lorraine Bracco, Taron Egerton and More React to Ray Liotta's Death People.com

Ray Liotta dies at age 67UPI at MSN

126 acting credits listed at IMDB


Quick Review: Uncharted – 2022

At times Uncharted is an inventive adventure film charged with tension as an action film should be, showing us a tale about buried treasure (in a watery location) while giving us a shifting story of alliances between our main characters portrayed by Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Antonio Banderas, Sophia Ali and Tati Gabrielle. The plot is fast moving and it is easy to keep up with what's happening despite the rapid movements around the globe as the treasure hunting takes on more complexity. Eventually there are double-crosses and a few characters drop out of the cast due to those double-crosses.

Uncharted's shortcomings are rather straight-forward. The dialogue is too often inadequate to presenting characterization with any depth, or of informing the audience of the urgency that is all around a character, making the film seem unreal because the dialogue suddenly becomes unnatural. The "back story" between characters is also thin but more of it gets squeezed into the ongoing film at a regular drumbeat which helps flesh out the tale, though it never truly establishes everything hinted at.

Stunt work is fantastic, and though clearly a lot of stuff is "green screen" CGI spectaculars, there's also a lot of leaping, jumping (and dropping) that is well done in the way of a classic adventure film that is full of physical activity. Art direction is very good and the various scenes in auction houses, etc., as the characters try to put together all the accumulating mass of clues on the location of their golden-goal, are fascinating. Part of the film is set in a tropical environment that is gorgeous to look at.


Quick Review: I Was A Male War Bride – 1949

Ann Sheridan and Cary Grant are pushed together by circumstances as two members of the military occupation in Europe (she's American and he's French) following World War II, and though they fight, bicker and argue through a great deal of the story (usually in funny ways) they are also eyeing one another so it is no surprise when a romantic association becomes cemented into marriage. The challenge though is finding a way to get the two together for the marriage, as military regulations are keeping them too far apart and then Sheridan is ordered to exit Europe for the United States, and they've got to figure out a way to bring new husband Cary to the states, too.

Cary Grant was a specialist in male humiliation comedies and he's in perfect form here, regularly getting into a situation that would be a terrifying nightmare in "real life" but is the seed bed of a lot of humor in I Was A Male War Bride, some of it slapstick but a lot of the funny is derived from the slapshot dialogue between Sheridan and Grant. She's very good at observing events and laughing at them, which is a not so subtle way of getting the audience to follow suit, though director Howard Hawks works the comedy in legitimate ways and with good effect, and most of it is carried on Grant's portrayal of a French officer suffering and then suffering some more.

There's probably not a funnier film made (or possible) about this sort of situation set in the wreckage (often seen on screen) of a bombed-out Germany following the end of the war. While I Was A Male War Bride is also a military comedy with the requisite jabs at military regulations, inefficiency and illogic, it takes for granted a kind of grudging admiration for the gigantic scope of the operation that was picking up the pieces in the end after the defeat of Nazi Germany. Sheridan and Grant sail through this scenery of ruin and Hawks puts them into the center of the screen in that evergreen comedy plot of a romantic entanglement between two dramatically different and conflicting personalities.


The Atomic Kid – 1954

The Atomic Kid

Let's look at the record. He was eating a peanut-butter sandwich before the bomb went off. And he did survive, didn't he? So, it must have been the peanut-butter!"

Mickey Rooney and Robert Strauss are a pair of amateur uranium prospectors who wander into an atomic testing ground. Lost, exhausted and starving, they find what they mistake as a "model home" standing alone in a broad and empty plain, filled with furniture and mannequin dummies, not realizing it is a test structure to record the effects of an atomic explosion* that is just minutes from going off. Strauss (as Stan Cooper) departs with a car he "borrows" from outside the house to go to town to try and find the owner of the home, and Rooney (as "Blix") stays, determined to find something to eat and to guard the location from any other prospectors, the two believing there must be a lucrative uranium deposit nearby judging by the readings on their Geiger counter.

More on The Atomic Kid – 1954



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