Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Plague Times Diary (10) - Adrian Danks and David Stratton keep the enthusiasm high

Adrian Danks suggests some plague times viewing:

A 10 or 12 list of movies you have (& would gladly) see again & again. Not quite sure how to make this different from my favorite movies, as that would be a criteria for all of them as well. But my main guide for this are movies I'd probably just keep watching if glimpsed on TV, even with ads in them - & that they create a world for one to live within (even if pretty bleak, like the Melville). So here goes, off the top of my head:
JULES ET JIM (above)
3:10 TO YUMA

David Stratton writes:

You wanted an update on our viewing.  As you know, we are trawling through the films of 1944.  We started on March 24 with COVER GIRL and since have seen 14 more.  I think the last one I mentioned was THE WAY AHEAD (April 2).  

Since then:-
THE THIN MAN GOES HOME – the last, and probably least, of the Thin Man series and the only one not directed by W.S. Van Dyke.  Pretty slim and also pretty protracted.  But I’m a fan of Myrna Loy (did I ever tell you about encountering her at a party in L.A. in the 70s and she was smoking dope?)

THE MASK OF DIMITRIOS – Eric Ambler intrigue directed by Jean Negulesco.  Pretty silly but it’s one of the films that paired Lorre and Greenstreet and that makes it eminently watchable.

GREENWICH VILLAGE.  After all this ‘noir’ Susie was in the mood for Technicolor.  It’s a terrible film (Walter Lang was a serious hack) and I loathe Carmen Miranda, but there’s a show-stopping sequence with The Four Step Brothers, one of those incredibly talented African-American dance acts that helped make some of the lesser musicals of the 40s endurable.

DOUBLE INDEMNITY.  (Picture above) A pristine Blu-ray makes all that venetian blind lighting look better than ever.  MacMurray was always at his best as a heel (cf THE APARTMENTbut also the underrated PUSHOVER), Stanwyck is genuinely alluring and Edward G. almost steals the picture.

A CANTERBURY TALE.  Susie had never seen this and didn’t know what to make of it at first – but it all comes together most beautifully and the ending is extraordinarily moving.  It compares interestingly with….

THE WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER. This is a forgotten Clarence Brown epic, slow-paced and set in a palpably phoney England between the wars.  But then, towards the end, there’s that fascinating theme of the importance of Brits and Yanks getting together for the common good, a theme Powell and Pressburger also embraced.  The film has all those Brit ex-pats – C. Aubrey Smith, Dame May Whitty, Arthur Shields (sorry, Irish ex-pats too), Miles Mander, Gladys Cooper, Peter Lawford, Roddy McDowall.  Plus it has an uncredited appearance from Elizabeth Taylor in a tiny part, but given four or five lingering close-ups as if she was being auditioned for NATIONAL VELVET, which is coming up on our movie schedule shortly.

The other news is that we have branched out into another year, this one selected by Susie.  She chose 1993, and we started with PHILADELPHIA, the perfect film for a pandemic – and what a seriously fine movie it is.  Jonathan Demme, we miss you!

That has been followed by IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, which was pretty intense, and A PERFECT WORLD, an underrated Clint Eastwood film in which most of the running time is given to Kevin Costner as the escaped convict who has taken a small boy hostage.  It’s an odd film in many ways but a compelling one.  Good to see Laura Dern too.
From now on we alternate our chosen years; Susie’s turn next so we expect to unearth something exciting from 1993.

I can’t believe anyone but me (and possibly you) is interested in this…


Editor’s Note: Contributions welcome. Send them to filmalert101@gmail.com

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