Sunday, August 17, 2014

THE GOODBYE GIRL (1977)

Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role, huh?  Four other Oscar nominations, huh? I guess a lot has changed between 1977 and 2956 (yes, I'm still timeblogging) because this film was lost on me.  Dancer Marsha Mason's actor boyfriend just dumped her and moved out of the country.  Even worse, he subleased his apartment to another actor, Richard Dreyfuss, without informing her.  So now, kinda like in THE MORE THE MERRIER, she has an uninvited guest living with her.  At first they are at each other like cats and dogs, but of course they eventually fall in love.  Never saw that coming.

Normally I'm a fan of Neil Simon's work, but this one wasn't that good.  Actually that might be a little bit wrong, the story was alright (unoriginal, but alright), but I didn't care for the characters.  Dreyfuss comes across as a self-absorbed dick and Mason's entire existence seems to revolve around if she has a boyfriend or not.  I didn't feel any sympathy of either one of them.

As far as the acting goes, Richard Dreyfuss was pretty much your standard onscreen Richard Dreyfuss.  I thought he was much better in JAWS.  Marsha Mason...ehh, she wasn't all that good, but maybe that was just the pathetic character she was playing.  All in all I found the entire movie to be a slight bore.  Unlikeable characters, small kid full of wise beyond her years wisecracks, highly predictable but still disappointing ending (there's no way in hell these too loons are gonna make it), 70's interior designs, interesting outdoor NYC street scenes, Dreyfuss playing a supergay Richard III (the only funny part of the movie), mediocre acting (Woody Allen should have won the Acting Oscar instead for ANNIE HALL).  Not a bad film just a dated (what the hell was the "blood test" line about?) and boring one.  Skip it.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

STRANGER ON HORSEBACK (1955)

Circuit judge Joel McCrea is making the rounds when he comes upon a town that's run completely by one man, Josiah Bannerman (played by John McIntire).  There also happened to be an undocumented shooting a few days ago featuring Bannerman's son, Tom (Kevin McCarthy).  The shooting was supposedly in self-defense, but once McCrea starts doing some digging he sees that the younger Bannerman has a history of killing people in "self-defense".  He arrests Tom, but that doesn't go over well with Bannerman and his hired guns.  Will McCrea live long enough to get Tom to trial?

The story's not original, but the strong cast makes this an interesting time waster.  Unfortunately due to the lack of action scenes the time your gonna waster is barely even an hour (66 minutes of you count the credits).  Director Jacques Tourneur had a lot of films under his belt by this time in his career so I'm sure he knew the script needed punching up, but I'm guessing the budget didn't allow it.  Fortunately his next film, the same year's WICHITA (also staring McCrea) turned out better.

Good cast, steady pace, low action, forced romantic storyline, cat sitting on a desk, nice photography, unoriginal story.  Average lower budget 1950's Western.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

KEY LARGO (1948)

Bogart versus Robinson with an all-star supporting cast!

World War II vet Humphrey Bogart travels to Key Largo to visit the family (father: Lionel Barrymore, widow: Lauren Bacall) of one of the soldiers he served with.  The guy was killed in battle in Italy, so Bogart is hoping to give them some closure.  The family owns a hotel and even though it's off season the entire hotel is rented out...by one mysterious, unseen guest and his hoodlum crew.  There's some tension in the air, but things seem to be going alright, until a hurricane warning is issued and the coppers start snooping around.  Next thing you know some bad shit goes down and it's up to Bogart to do some quick thinking or ain't nobody gettin' out alive.

Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore, Claire Trevor, Harry Lewis (doing an impersonation of Richard Widmark in KISS OF DEATH), Marc Lawrence, William Haade, Dan Seymour and Thomas Gomez all directed by John Huston...how cool is that?!  I really enjoyed KEY LARGO, especially the scenes with Robinson holding court and being an asshole.  Yeah, the film has some blemishes (the outdoor shots by the dock were obviously shot on a man made pool and not the ocean, boom microphone reflection, dead body moving, visible wires used to pull the palm trees during the special effects shot, etc.), but the acting out shadows all of that.  Edward G. Robinson is wonderful as the aging gangster who's too proud to realize that his brand of gangsterism is over and he's now a dinosaur.  On the other end is Humphrey Bogart as a ex-military guy with personal demons who has to use his wits save the day.

Good story, great supporting cast (it's always a joy to see Lionel Barrymore), quick pace, hilarious facial expressions by Robinson.  KEY LARGO is a must see.  And "No." I don't consider it to be a film noir even though I often see it listed as one.