Saturday, January 26, 2008

I Love You Again (1940)

I had to see this... One of the movies where Myrna Loy and William Powell are together, but not as Nick and Nora. Luckily I really liked it... four stars...

When the movie starts, Larry (Powell) is almost the opposite of Nick. His drink of choice is ginger ale with grape juice (some kind of warped Shirley Temple?). He's so stuffy that he walks around saying things like, "You're inebriated," and people laugh about him and call him "Mr. Grape Juice." Near the beginning of the movie Larry falls off a cruise ship trying to rescue a drowning man and gets conked on the head with an oar. When he wakes up, he has no memory of being Larry and of the last nine years of his life. It turns out he is really a swindler named George who got amnesia when he was knocked in the head in a fight nine years ago. He immediately starts to scheme with the rescued-from-drowning crook about ways to steal money from the town where Larry has been living. Things get more complicated when George steps off of the ship to find that Larry has a wife, Kay (Loy). He is torn between getting right to work on his plot and pursuing Kay, who is about to divorce him for being too boring and stuffy. Of course now that Larry is really George, he has a whole new personality, realizes he is hopelessly in love with Kay and cannot let her go, and much hilarity ensues.

My favorite scene might be when George/Larry gets Kay to dance with him by dancing alone in a crowded restaurant until she goes to get him. You can see it at:

There are just too many good lines in this movie. Myrna Loy and William Powell play off of each other just as well as in the Thin Man movies.

It makes me want to see some of their other non-Nick and Nora movies, even though I still have the final Thin Man waiting to be watched.

Charade (1963)

Four stars. Of course I'll see it again.

How I can have seen this movie three times and still be surprised at times is beyond me. I guess the trick is to wait 5-10 years between viewings. Regina (Audrey Hepburn) meets Cary Grant at a ski resort near the beginning of the movie. They have a wonderful flirty/sarcastic conversation during which he tells her he is divorced, and she lets him know that she is about to be divorced, and is he going to call her when they're back in Paris? Regina returns home to Paris to find her apartment empty and to be told that her husband is murdered. Before he was killed he turned all their possessions into cash... cash that is nowhere to be found. Cary Grant turns up at her apartment, offers help, and the intrigue begins. It turns out Regina's husband's money was stolen (from the US government!), and there are many shady characters after it.

I love that this is a romantic comedy while being a mystery/thriller, whatever you want to call it. I love movies that I want to quote. "Oh, I love you, Adam, Alex, Peter, Brian, whatever your name is, I love you! I hope we have a lot of boys and we can name them all after you!"

"How do you shave in there?":

And I love this scene, where Cary Grant showers in his clothes. Drip dry:

CG: "I usually sing a medly of old favorites when I'm in the shower...any requests?"
AH: "Shut the door."
CG: "Oh, I'm afraid I don't know that one, Miss."

Oh, here's the scene:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Pocketful of Miracles (1961)

A remake of Capra's Lady for a Day. In color, with a lot more money, as far as I can tell...same story: a woman has somehow managed to convince her daughter that she is a well-bred society lady while at the same time maintaining a life as an apple-seller on the streets of New York City.

Things to love...
1. It's a Christmas Movie. Are all Preston Sturges movies Christmas movies secretly?
2. There is a theme song sung by children.
3. Bette Davis is playing Apple Annie.

4. There is a new angle with the Dude's girlfriend who wants to settle down and live a quiet life.
5. Columbo is in it.
6. Columbo suddenly starts narrating about half an hour into the movie.
7. Annie is secretly classy and you can tell this because she listens to classical music.

8. There are dozens of little details that catch your attention like the argument between two crooks pretending to be gentlemen over who gets to be the Postmaster General versus the Secretary of the interior.
9. You have this simple story of rags to fake riches at the center of the movie so even when you lose track of the Dave the Dude story or the story with the reporters in the closet or the story of the Count and the Consul General, you get the big picture.

The plot pieces fit together so nicely, it's like a puzzle solving itself.

Couldn't give it less than 4 stars.

Lady for a Day (1933)

Frank Capra directed this classic story about a poor woman who is turned into a lady in order to fool her daughter's fiance. The charm of this movie is in the play between, on the one hand, the frank class-consciousness of the idea that a poor woman has to be dressed up and coached by people in order to "pass" as a rich woman (obviously, poor and rich aren't just about how much money you have) and, on the other hand, the revelation that the fine character of this humble woman makes her a lady in the true sense of the word.

That is the closest thing to a paper for film class that I've written since college.

I won't bore you with it any more.

I've watched this movie twice and I can't figure out why I haven't blogged it yet.

The great part is that the movie COULD be a drama, but, BUT, Apple Annie is transformed into a lady by Dave the Dude, a gangster who's very name tickles me. The combination of the gangster and his thugs, Apple Annie and her community of beggars and bums, and the Count (who she is trying to impress) and his entourage is classic comedy.

Four stars, will definitely watch again.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Talk of the Town (1942)

I learned a new game from this movie. Next time you're walking down the street with a friend, the first one of you to spot a man with a beard should call out, "Beaver!" and lick their thumb. Some random girls walking down the street of the small town where this movie takes place get to yell beaver at Professor Lightcap (Ronald Colman). Professor Lightcap needs his beard, because until he grew one, women winked at him and people were prone to calling him "sonny."

This is a fun but also very long movie. I can't remember exactly how long it was, and it may not really have been much longer than two hours, but it felt long. It just kept going and going. Not without a purpose, though. At the beginning of the movie local semi-political activist Leopold Dilg (Grant) is indicted for arson (someone has burned down the town mill!) and murder (a man has died in the fire!). Leopold escapes from jail and makes it to a rental house owned by Nora Shelley (Jean Arthur). After a bit of craziness, she agrees to hide him until his lawyer can help him. The new renter, prominent law professor Lightcap, shows up 12 hours earlier than expected, though, and hilarity ensues.

Why Grant's last name is Dilg is beyond me. Leopold about his name: "Stop saying 'Leopold' like that, tenderly. It sounds funny. You can't do it with a name like Leopold"

One of the reasons I get a kick out of this movie, is that for the first portion of it, the professor sits around having discussions about the law with Leopold, who he is introduced to as Joseph the gardener. He is so pleased to have met a philosophical gardener that he can almost suppress his condescending tone when talking to him. (The professor often struggles to suppress this tone, for example when he proposes to Miss Shelley by telling her he has an opening for an important job in Washington. It would be “more than a secretary…It would be an important job for life…”) The professor is so taken with Joseph the gardener that he even takes the time to pick up a special order of borscht with a raw egg mixed in for him during a trip to town, because he knows that Joseph will be beside himself with joy when he gets the borscht. Here are the professor and Leopold bonding over chess...

Unfortunately for Leopold, the borscht leads to his downfall with the professor. As Professor Lightcap unwraps the newspaper from around the bottle of borscht, he sees Leopold's face on the front page of the paper. He has been tricked by Leopold and Miss Shelley! As the fine upholder of the law that he is, the professor goes right inside to call the police, leading to the following very calmly delivered but very emotional dialogue...

Leopold: "Well, here we have the two schools of thought, Professor, this time in action. That telephone to you means law and order, and to me…well, I've got to stop you using that telephone, with violence if necessary."
Professor Lightcap: "Yes, I see. That’s bad. I have a very warm feeling for you Joseph, but I must use this telephone."
Leopold: "And if you do, Professor, and I’m as fond of you as a brother, I’ll be compelled to knock you down."

Can you feel then tension between these two great friends? See the tension below...

Anyways, of course the Professor uses the telephone, Leopold knocks him out, and all kinds of new craziness ensues, including Miss Shelley's confusion over which man to pick.

Bonus: The professor and Miss Shelley arrive home with their borscht to find Leopold cooking, wearing a lovely women's apron with a giant bow over the butt. Apparently Cary Grant also thinks this scene is a great bonus, because we get to watch him check out his own butt.

Three stars, I think, and I'm sure I will watch it again. And not just because I own it!