As I Watch With Increasing Exasperation ...

Here's the place to talk about DVDs (or VHS) films and movies you have seen on television and recommend or don't recommend. Discuss actors and scores, too.

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dulcinea
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Location: tampa, fl

As I Watch With Increasing Exasperation ...

Post by dulcinea » Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:10 am

... the lame moldy fifth-raters that TCM has been playing all year during daytime hours, I have to ask why Turner torments faithful regular viewers such as myself with stale old turkeys that were never any good, not even when they were brand new.
I suppose 'tis instructive to be shown that not all old movies are classics like CASABLANCA and THE MALTESE FALCON; also I have made discoveries such as the charming rascal Warren William, who regrettably died too young at 53. On the whole, however, I have to ask who wants to see fetid stinkers that give B movies a bad name. Many of those movies that have actors who are still famous are such a waste of their talent that I bet those actors would gladly have given away all their valuables for the opportunity of destroying all trace of those bombs that are a disgrace to their reputations.
Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord! Alleluya!

jbuck919
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Re: As I Watch With Increasing Exasperation ...

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:32 pm

I watched TCM disproportionately during my lengthy hospital stays and I agree that its offerings are uneven. I also sometimes thought that there had to be excellent but not famous films that they were failing to show in place of the mediocre one I was actually watching. But it may not be so. It may just be that movies are a genre of limitations even within the framework of possibilities relatively artistic movies have to offer, limitations for all sorts of reasons, including durability. Enough years ago that Blockbuster was the source for VHS, I rented the movie Saratoga to watch with my mother while my sister was visiting, out of curiosity because it is a local subject. Now here is a movie that starred, among others, Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Lionel Barrymore, Frank Morgan, Walter Pidgeon, Hattie McDaniel, and Margaret Hamilton. But it was a total bore.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Wallingford
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Re: As I Watch With Increasing Exasperation ...

Post by Wallingford » Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:03 pm

Where's your joie de vivre? I'm having a BALL taping, then duping onto DVD-R, these veritable treasuretroves TCM has had to offer! Since moving back to Colorado (and my parents' cable), I've been adding to my "Directors" series (sets of one to seven DVD-R discs devoted to each director) of the men who took their craft seriously before "auteur" became a term too pretentious to even consider using today. These were guys who were pros through and through, yet artists just the same.....Vincent Minnelli, Howard Hawks, Gregory la Cava, Gordon Douglas, David Butler, Busby Berkeley, John Ford, Stanley Kramer, George Sidney, Howard Hugues (!!!).....and about fifty others.

I think only Howard Hughes was the director who was a millionaire back in those days!
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

Tarantella
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Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: As I Watch With Increasing Exasperation ...

Post by Tarantella » Sun Sep 16, 2012 3:09 am

Nobody has named any of the "stinkers" presented by TCM. I guess, like any cultural artefact, a great number of these will be consigned to the dust-bin of history. They were mostly identified as "A" or "B" Grade movies, and you'd get the "B" grade in the first half of a 'session' each time you went to the movies. Yes, some of these were stale old cheese - to be sure. Even some block-busters, like the execrable "Quo Vadis", absolutely sucked!! And some of those early Tony Curtis vehicles from the late 40's/early 50's were dreadful. Also most of the B or C grade westerns which regularly appear as 'filler' on TV channels - we can live without those too. I'd rather watch the much better acted and scripted re-runs of "Wagon Train" or "Rawhide". TV was very patchy too - so it wasn't just films.

Wallingford, those directors you named were fine indeed (most of the time). Even my beloved Howard Hawks made some shockers very late in his career (that one about the car racing, title forgotten, forgettable film). Hawks did very well financially out of films. Howard Hughes wasn't much of a film 'producer' - more of an entrepreneur who knew little about cinema and all about how to have a huge ego. There are a great number of very fine films from 1915 onwards - even "Birth of a Nation" is wonderful in terms of production values and film art. Avert your eyes from the racism and you have the first real use of a grammar of film-making. Many wonderful silent films include those by Lon Chaney who was actually an astonishing actor. I find his performances compelling and I only learned in comparatively recent years that both his parents were deaf and this is where he learned his skills in mime and facial communication. He was a master.

"Saratoga" is interesting because it was Harlow's last film and you can see she's dying of kidney failure in some of the scenes. I quite like this comparatively 'early' talkie, watching the development of spoken acting, blocking skills, camera movement and the idiosyncrasies of those major stars, whose style wouldn't pass muster today - not to mention the 'doubling' scenes for the deceased Harlow. Lionel Barrymore more or less played the same role in his career, but in "Dinner at Eight" he was actually superb.

I never particularly liked John Barrymore, but I think he was outstanding in "Dinner at Eight" giving an absolutely magnificent performance, full of nuance and subtlety, of a man who has had one (hundred) too many love affairs and a few thousand drinks too many. The film only became twee in the scenes with Billie Burke, but was more than redeemed by the aforesaid Barrymore brothers, Harlow, Beery and Cukor's astute direction, as well as the fantastic Marie Dressler......and what about those last lines of the film:

Harlow: "I was reading a book the other day....."

Dressler: (stunned, staring, as her slow walk grinds to a sudden halt), "A book????"

Harlow: "yes, it's about civilization or something.....a nutty kind of a book... this guy said machines are going to take the place of every profession!".

Dressler: (looking stunned then non-plussed, and then at Harlow's skin-tight silk dress; she raises her eyebrows) "Well, my dear, that's something you need never worry about!!".

(They both continue walking into 'the dinner' as if nothing has been said.)

And Wallace Beery's coarse wannabee - very prescient!! (I live around these kinds of people. He reminds me of a famous 'mining magnate' we have here in Australia.) Three cheers for the writing team of Herman Mankiewicz, Edna Ferber, George S. Kaufman, Francis Marion, Donald Ogden Stewart and director George Cukor. I absolutely love it and when I start my film appreciation group (at my house) "Dinner at Eight" will be the first order of business!

Here's a brief scene between Beery and Harlow as the fighting spouses - it's hilarious and they're wonderful together.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om9nTKzG ... re=related

dulcinea
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Re: As I Watch With Increasing Exasperation ...

Post by dulcinea » Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:05 pm

jbuck919 wrote:I watched TCM disproportionately during my lengthy hospital stays and I agree that its offerings are uneven. I also sometimes thought that there had to be excellent but not famous films that they were failing to show in place of the mediocre one I was actually watching. But it may not be so. It may just be that movies are a genre of limitations even within the framework of possibilities relatively artistic movies have to offer, limitations for all sorts of reasons, including durability. Enough years ago that Blockbuster was the source for VHS, I rented the movie Saratoga to watch with my mother while my sister was visiting, out of curiosity because it is a local subject. Now here is a movie that starred, among others, Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Lionel Barrymore, Frank Morgan, Walter Pidgeon, Hattie McDaniel, and Margaret Hamilton. But it was a total bore.
Moving pictures are a new invention--nothing to compare to painting, which goes back to the caves of Altamira and Lascaux. Await a few centuries, and the number of classic movies will reach to the MILLIONS!; TCM and AMC will then find themselves in a pickle trying to accommodate such an embarrassment of riches.
Speaking of embarrassment, 'tis funny how even the greatest filmmakers have a few turkeys in their closet. Bogart starred in an unusually large number of classics, but he also starred in PASSAGE TO MARSEILLES, a WWII melodrama about inmates of Devil's Island whose patriotism is so chauvinistic and jingoistic and just plain blowhard that one inevitably reaches the conclusion that they were expelled to French Guiana because their loudmouthed patrioteria=jingoism was embarrassing the rest of France.
Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord! Alleluya!

Tarantella
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Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:09 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: As I Watch With Increasing Exasperation ...

Post by Tarantella » Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:10 pm

Not to mention "We're No Angels" in which Bogart starred with Peter Ustinov and Aldo Ray. It's meant to be a comedy but is so badly directed by Michael Curtiz that it just falls completely flat. Curtiz set the camera up rigidly and let the action unfold as if it was a stage play, with few close-ups and nothing of any cinematic interest to release it from it's screenplay, which just didn't work. When I think of all the visual metaphors he could have used and the sight gags (there's really only one) it's a wonder he was ever regarded as a good director!!

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