Saturday, December 29, 2012

SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943)

Life in a small town is so boring, so young Teresa Wright is quite excited when her Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) comes to visit her family.  Things are all hunky dory for a few days until Teresa starts to notice a few odd things about her uncle she hasn't seen in years.  First off, he's kinda an asshole.  Secondly, he carries a lot of cash on him and acts peculiar.  Thirdly, he's a fucking serial killer!!!  And worst of all: he knows she knows.  Yikes!

In the hands of Alfred Hitchcock this story rocks.  A lot of directors would be clumsy and screw the whole thing up, but Hitch plays it perfectly and even for such an old film it's still pretty exciting.  The story's logic is stretched a few times, but it's alright.  Great photography, quick pace, quirky characters, Skinny Puppy sample, strong performances, dark humor, lots of vampire themes/references.  Solid Hitchcock outing.  Worth a watch for sure.
 On the set.

 I recognize that big ol' head off to the left.

 Oh shit!  It's the Skimmer from T-MEN!

 Film debut of Hume Cronyn.

THE CANARY MURDER CASE (1929)

Very rough around the edges early talkie mystery starting a pre-THIN MAN William Powell as detective Philo Vance.  It seems as though a stage performer by the name of the Canary has her hooks into the son of a wealthy banker.  She plans on blackmailing him and when his father goes to talk some sense into her she winds up very dead.  Around the same time a whole slew of wannabe Canary fuckers were hanging around her crib, so now it's up to Philo Vance to figure out who all was there and who did the killing.

Sounds exciting, but it's not in the least.  Powell might have been at the top of his game in the mid-30's, but here with this script he's pretty dull.  But not as dull as those around him!  My Satan, it was torture getting through this...and I love old movies.  If it hadn't been for my curiosity to see a young William Powell and Jean Arthur I probably would've never made it through.  And speaking of Jean Arthur: she has like one minute of screen time.  Louise Brooks doesn't have much more.

Watch it if you want, but I'll never watch it ever again.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946)

At the end of WWII three men with three very different lives come home.  Fredric March was a platoon Sargent in the South Pacific who's a banker with a loving wife (Myrna Loy) and two teenage children including Teresa Wright.   Harold Russell (a real life Army veteran who lost both his hands in 1944) was a seaman who lost his hands in an explosion.  He lives with his parents and has a fiancee.  Dana Andrews is an Air Force captain and bombardier married to nightclub waitress (Virginia Mayo) who's been living the party life while he's been gone.  Their lives might be different, but all three face the same problems with readjusting to civilian life and putting the demons of war behind them.  That's all you really need to know about the story.

THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES rightfully won a wheelbarrow full of Oscars, but I think it should have won two more.  Most notably Teresa Wright for Best Supporting Actress.  I thought she was absolutely stunning in her performance of a young woman tormented with her emotions.  I haven't yet seen Anne Baxter's performance in THE RAZOR'S EDGE (she did win) but I can't imagine that it tops Teresa's performance. [I put TRE at the top pf my Netflix queue so I should have a review up in the next few weeks]  Also it should have won for Best Cinematography.

Another thing is Fredric March as Best Actor.  I do agree that he was quite good, but the Oscar should have gone to Jimmy Stewart in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.  And here's one that'll probably anger some people but Dana Andrews should have won over Harold Russell for Best Supporting Actor.  Russell was good and he did get an honorary Oscar for his brave performance, but as far as acting skill goes Dana Andrews turns in one of the best performances of his career in THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES.  And with as many outstanding performances as he had that saying something.

I have a lot to say about TBYOOL's, but honestly your time would be better spent just watching the movie, so get to it!