November 26, 2005

Lost at sea - Hitchocock's Lifeboat

I haven't been feeling well the last few days and thus haven't had an inclination to do much of anything, but ... I did manage to watch a film or two, including Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat (1944).

It was pretty good. As with most Hitchcock, he sets himself a challenge - in this case, shooting an entire movie within the confines of a lifeboat. From the opening shot of Tallulah Bankhead in her fur coat, with her camera sitting in the boat, right to the end, everything goes on in the boat.

You would think the film would get claustrophopic, but it doesn't. In fact, the scenes move quite quickly, and compellingly.

The film works partly because of the script (a story by John Steinbeck, screenplay by Jo Swerling). Relationships form, shift and develop through the movie. And it's set on the Atlantic during World War II (when it was also shot), so part of the drama comes from the fact that one of the passengers on the lifeboat is the captain of the German boat that sank the liner the rest of the passengers had been on.

In a way, it's a standard dramatic situation - take a disparate group of people and throw them together, here in a tightly enclosed space none of them can flee.

In a way, Hitchcock has made an entire film using a single set, much as he did with Rope though his approach is very different.

Regardless of what he does, the end result is a very entertaining movie.

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November 22, 2005

King Kong on deck

I can't say I'm overly excited about Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong - but that may change once it's out. As a general rule, I don't like remakes.

I am excited, however, about the Amazon package that arrived today with my King Kong Collection. This includes the special edition two disc set of the original King Kong (1933), the sequel Son of Kong, and Mighty Joe Young (1949). Also arriving in the Amazon box was a completely unrelated movie, Operation Petticoat (1959), which starred Cary Grant and Tony Curtis.

Jackson's King Kong may be the exception - a good remake. But until I see it and can judge, I'm more than happy to have the original. There's a certain charm to those black and white movies.

And really, there is no remaking Fay Wray, the girl from Cardston, Alberta.

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November 20, 2005

Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder quite slow

I see most movies by myself - perhaps because I watch so many, and so many during the week. But seeing movies with others, especially with people who like movies but are not aficionados, definitely is insightful.

After dinner last night, three of us sat down to watch Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder (1954).

Well, Liz fell asleep. Mind you, she was pretty whipped. Still, tired or not, someone falling asleep, especially early in a film, is not a good sign.

As we watched, I felt it dragged quite a bit, at least in the first half, due to all the tedious exposition - especially the scene where Ray Milland goes on with no apparent end essentially establishing the set up for the second half of the film. That's the scene where he explains to Anthony Dawson, who is being blackmailed into killing Grace Kelly, the scheme.

Gord, during all of this, commented on how bad the script was. I think he was responding to how extremely long the scene is, and how it was all dialogue. Sure, people moved around, there was some camera movement and a few cuts, but you can see how it is based on a play and that means people just talking, explaining. Hitchcock does try to make it visual but still, it is all dialogue. For an audience of today, the scene is quite deadly.

It's a weakness of the murder mystery - they inevitably have to establish story elements - characters and plot points - which usually means exposition. I find this in most of the old Columbo mysteries from TV. The first 20 or 30 minutes are boring because that is where they establish the crime and the characters. It isn't till Columbo shows up that things get interesting.

So it is in Dial M for Murder. It isn't engaging until the murder attempt is made, almost halfway through the film.

In the end, Dial M is worth seeing - there are some good elements. But it's also dated somewhat and, partly due to genre and partly due to its being based on a play, it is tedious for a large part of the film.

Still, watching Grace Kelly is, as always, delightful.

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November 17, 2005

Another of my recurring Cary Grant phases

I seem to be going through one of my recurring Cary Grant phases. I finished reading Cary Grant by Marc Eliot, and it was certainly interesting. (I made a brief post about on my other blog, Crazy Ass Planet.)

Of course, since I was reading about Grant, I had to watch (or rewatch) some of his movies. That meant The Philadelphia Story, The Awful Truth, North by Northwest and Brining Up Baby. But it also meant picking up a few of his other movies, ones I either hadn't seen or didn't remember.

So I also watched People Will Talk (1951) with Jeanne Crain and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Not a bad movie, but not great either. It's a little too earnest and Cary Grant is just a little too ... posed? There's very little range in his character. He's just a handsome good guy.

The other film I watched was The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer with Myrna Loy and Shirley Temple, directed by Irving Reis. I liked this one much more, though once again it's far from great. But, despite a pretty silly storyline, it's quite funny - largely because Grant plays comedy so well. And it is well-directed in a functional way. Grant seems much more comfortable and assured in this film than in People Willl Talk and I think it's because he was much more comfortable playing comedy, poking fun at himself, than in drama (unless he was being directed by Hitchcock).

Speaking of whom, the next on my list is Suspicion. I haven't seen that one for a while.

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November 13, 2005

For your viewing pleasure, Gina Lollobrigida

I don't know why, but I'm getting a lot people dropping off here looking for Gina Lollobrigida. I, too, am very fond of Gina.

I just don't know why people are looking for her here.

Actually, I do. Some time back I discovered, while searching for something else, a Gina Lollobrigida link came up - very high in the listing of results. I thought that was odd, posted about it, and used a Gina image in the post.

Now I'm one of the top, if not the top result when you search for Gina Lollobrigida images on Google.

Searchers must be very disappointed. This is not the place to be looking for Gina Lollobrigida information or images. It's just a blog about movies by a guy who likes Gina Lollobrigida, amongst many other actors. Ah well!

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