Reviews of Classic Film, with artwork and news
LAST UPDATE January 24, 2023
Love is News, 1937
Loretta Young and Tyrone Power find love and attraction the screwball comedy way: they hate each other almost on sight and then spend copious amounts of energy trying to humiliate and torment one another until they've been thrown together so often that the cruelty segue ways into affection.
Tyrone is a fast-talking, clever veteran reporter for the New York Daily Express named Steve Leyton (though Tyrone sometimes looks much younger than his 23 years) and Loretta is a wealthy "tin can" heiress named Tony Gateson. She is coming off of a highly publicized broken-engagement from "the Count" (George Sanders) who is what they called in 30's films "a chiseler." The Reporter is trying to get a scoop for his paper about the Heiress, so he poses as part of a special police protection unit to help her get from the airport into the city and to avoid the press mob waiting outside of her private plane. She is jaded with the half-truths and full-lies that the press has told about her in the past, so when she realizes she's been suckered again she starts onto a movie-length pattern of revenge on Leyton by announcing to the world the two are engaged to be married. This turns him into a "public freak" (the phrase is used in the film several times) and Leyton is soon inundated with people trying to sell him something since the Heiress has also announced she's put a $1 million dollar dowry on him. Ironically, he's actually nearly penniless and behind on his rent at his boarding house, and not unlike the Preston Sturges' film Easy Living, which came out a few months later, the story in Love is News is also about the crushing inanity of money, supposed money, mixed with welcome/unwelcome fame.
Don Ameche is Leyton's newspaper editor that spends a great deal of his screen time leaning over a telephone and intoning "Yes, Mabel" to his wife, who we never see and cannot clearly hear, but is constantly calling the paper to simply endlessly talk, and all the while Ameche is a whirlwind trying to get the production of the daily newspaper moving forward so that they can outsell their competitors who, rather consistently since Tony Gateson (Loretta) is helping them, "out-scoops" the New York Daily Express.
The script for Love is News is by a large team of writers, with screen credits to Harry Tugend and Jack Yellen, from a story by WIlliam Lipman and Frederick Stephani. Uncredited work is attributed to Allen Rivkin and Wallace Sullivan. The film is so fast and efficient with its 78 minute screen-time that it sometimes has an impromptu-like comedy feel to it courtesy of director Tay Garnett. The writers and director provide an endless supply of sight gags, such as on the wall of the bar where the reporters congregate
"If your babys need shoes you can't buy them here"
and other little side jokes to populate the tale, along with short showcases for the comedy-chops of Walter Catlett, George Sanders (who plays 'His Highness Andre Pierre Gaston,' referred to within the story as "a blue-blooded moron"), Stepin Fetchit, Elisha Cooke Jr., Walter Catlett, Dudley Diggs, and Eddie Anderson. Tyrone Power also shows he can do some nice stunt work when he rolls over a desk after getting punched in the jaw by Ameche as part of a bet.
Some of Love is News seems spontaneous, like the humor in the first The Thin Man film and even a little bit of Marx Bros. For example, George Summerville as Judge Hart at the falling-apart Meadowville County jail where Loretta and Tyrone spend part of their time together in adjoining cells. Judge Hart's fascination with confiscated slot machines ("contraptions of the devil" he calls them) is also a funny interlude within a movie with many funny interludes. A first class screwball comedy.
The 2023 Oscar announcements – MSN Hollywood Reporter
Exclusive: I just heard direct from the author, James Curtis, that Warners is doing a miniseries based on his fantabulous Buster Keaton bio, starring Rami Malek, a huge Buster fan. Rami is already working with a motion coach who prepped with him on his Freddie Mercury portrayal. pic.twitter.com/hpDQmHbrib— Sister Celluloid, @email@example.com (@sistercelluloid) January 20, 2023
Never Love a Stranger 1958 – Featuring John Drew Barrymore, Lita Milan and Robert Bray
Steve McQueen and John Drew Barrymore as friends on the mean streets of New York City – More Never Love A Stranger 1958
Gina Lollobrigida has died
Born in 1927 in Subiaco, Italy. Died on January 16, 2023 in Rome.
Update Jan 20, 2023 : "Gina Lollobrigida fans say goodbye at funeral as inheritance feud rages" – Protothema
"Italian actress and renowned beauty Gina Lollobrigida dies at 95" – UPI Press International
"The actress resisted Howard Hughes' advances and rose to prominence in such films as 'Beat the Devil'" – Hollywood Reporter
"Iconic Italiain Film Star Gina Lollobrigida Dead at 95" – Daily Beast Yahoo News
"Italian film legend Gina Lollobrigida dies at age 95" – ABC News
"From post-war film legend to artist" – MSN Reuters
January 16 – Anniversary of the death of Carole Lombard in plane crash, 1942 – UPI Press International [English]
Working on Johnstown Flood (1926). This is what Nitrate Decomposition looks like: pic.twitter.com/Ve3a16SdLR— James Mockoski (@AZFilmArchivist) January 6, 2023
Remember the Night 1940 – Preston Sturges script + Stanwyck and MacMurray
Preston Sturges is known for his comedy films, and there is plenty of comedy in Remember the Night, but the affectionate, sentimental streak is pretty wide in this tale of a shoplifter (Barbara Stanwyck) facing a public prosecutor (Fred MacMurray) in court with Christmas just around the corner. Through a series of circumstances, quite unintentionally the prosecutor ends up with the shoplifter accompanying him on a trek from New York City to Indiana, and then for a week-long stay at the prosecutor's widowed mother's (Beulah Bondi) home, and as you might suspect, a certain attraction crops up between them. However, Sturges' real story is about the effect an emotionally cruel childhood has on a person, and how much power a good (Bondi) mother and a bad (Georgia Caine) mother can have on a kid. Apart from that, there's also some goofy characters on the screen (Sterling Holloway, Fred Toones and Elizabeth Patterson) and several nice comedy sections where MacMurray and Stanwyck end up sleeping in a farm field for a night, then giving false names when forced into a local courthouse for trespassing, and escaping and then later travelling back to New York City through Canada to avoid the frustrated arm of the law. Remember the Night is not the whirligig comedy spectaculars of Sturges' own directed films, but the director here, Mitchell Leisen, keeps this cross-country tale moving and lets the plot simmer a bit on the unusual (for Sturges) out in the open and in your face homage to Motherhood.
Criterion is releasing MILDRED PIERCE in 4K on disk in March, 2023 - Page at Criterion about this
Review of Strangers on A Train
Hitchcock's Strangers on A Train - Released June 27, 1951, directed by Alfred Hitchcock
"I don't talk much, you go ahead and read."
Robert Walker (as Bruno Antony) says this to tennis star Guy (played by Farley Granger) when they meet aboard a train traveling north out of Washington DC's Union Station. Comfortably lounging across from one another, their shoes bump together and their chance meeting turns into the seed of the story running through the rest of Strangers on a Train, that is, Bruno trying to get Guy to fulfill on an odd little bargain made in sincerity by Bruno but only in jest by Guy: that they swap murders of two people that are tormenting them.
Hollywood: The Oral History
Fast Review of the new book by Jeanine Basinger and Sam Wasson, 2022
Literally thousands of quotations from famous (and no-so-famous) participants in Hollywood history make up the 768 pages of Hollywood The Oral History, and it is a mostly seamless flow of easy to read remarks, some just a few lines, such as:
Clint Eastwood: I'm not going to play Hamlet. I have no interest in miscasting myself.
Katherine Hepburn: Ethel Merman is not going to play Florence Nightingale. Everybody has their limitations.
But other quotations are much longer, spreading over several pages. Remarks are mostly from discussing films, actors, directors, and just about every other position within the industry. There are flashbacks, reminisces, and lots of friendly analysis of, for example, why a director thought a certain actor was good, but another not so good; or why a star thought they were succeeding (and more often confused a bit by how they're doing it); and much more.
More about Hollywood the Oral History - 2022
Mickey Kuhn, the last surviving cast member from Gone With The Wind has died – NY Post
Mickey Kuhn, a child star of the 1930s and ’40s Golden Age of Hollywood — has died. ...He was the last surviving member of that cast, as Olivia de Havilland, who played Melanie, passed at 104 in 2020.
The Vampire 1957 (aka Mark of the Vampire) – Coleen Gray and John Beal
Effective low budget monster film that crosses 1950s laboratory disaster with a chunk of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a twist of vampire bat trouble and then more problems involving pills. John Beal makes the film work because he puts real effort into showing us the tortured decline of a small town family doctor facing a problem he can't understand. As he begins waking up without any idea of what he's been doing, but getting awfully suspicious as the dead body count starts to climb, Beal's portrait of a physician depending upon experimental pills to protect him in a race between losing his mind or committing suicide pushes The Vampire into being an analogy to the real world dilemma of chemical addiction. Coleen Gray is onscreen as the doctor's dependable nurse who gets threatened later on, since the film, aside from Beal's strong work, still follows the familiar monster movie plot about a monster on the loose. Though the vampire angle here doesn't equal blood-drained bodies, in The Vampire the victims instead experience total "cellular disintegration"
Caught In The Draft - 1941 - Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour
Bob Hope first presented his "cowardly hero" persona in the 1939 The Cat and the Canary, but by Caught in the Draft the portrait is all worked out and as a mechanism for making one liners, Hope is cut loose and shooting free. One thing that is interesting about Caught in the Draft is that since it was released prior to the advent of America's involvement in World War II, the film contains the kind of knowing-joking about army life that, like Abbott and Costello's Buck Privates also from 1941, has humor at the army's expense that would vanish (mostly) for the duration of the coming war, though in no way does Caught in the Draft come anywhere near the anarchy of the Marx Bros Duck Soup which satirized things military (among much else). Caught in the Draft hurtles along through a simple plot and really doesn't move too far beyond the sketches that hold it together, so the character portraits are thin and seem like the equivalence of walk-on parts in a funny stage play that moves all the dramatology out of the way whenever possible to make space for the next series of funny set-ups. Eddie Bracken appears and provides some of the humour (such as the bizarre adventures of a tank rampaging across the countryside, picking up girls and getting into a lot of mischief).
Love on Repeat - 2019
Caught in a time-loop at work, office-worker Amber (played by Jen Lilley) has to develop skills to stop triggering a repeating day of personal and professional disaster.
Read more Love on Repeat 2019