What was the last movie you saw?

Rachel and the Stranger (1948) Frontier Widower David Harvey (William Holden) is encouraged to marry again for the sake of his son. But the only single woman around is a bondwoman (Loretta Young), and after marrying her, he wants little else to do with her. Along comes his buddy, Jim Fairways (Robert Mitchum), a trapper, who sees the Harvey's neglect of his wife, and offers to buy her, and treat her as a proper wife. Friend or no, this is conflict.

Where Danger Lives (1950) NOIR ALLEY.

Dr. Jeff Cameron (Robert Mitchum) treats a yong woman he suspects attempted suicide. Margo Lannington (Faith Domergue) denies it, etc. Eventually Comeron becomes emotionally involved, & goes to her home, SShe introduces him to her father Frederick Lannington (Claude Rains), or was it that Cameron assumed this older man was her father. Suddenly, the older guy announces he is her husband!

I cannot recall much else, other than that this was very good!

THE MIDNIGHT MAN - 1974 - Burt Lancaster is an ex-cop and an ex-con who gets hired as a security guard and is soon involved in a murder case (Catherine Bach is the victim--the first time I saw this, I didn't recognize her without the Daisy Duke accent). The story hits on a theme that relates to Chinatown but not quite so extreme and feels like a tv-movie.
THE MIDNIGHT MAN - 1974 - Burt Lancaster is an ex-cop and an ex-con who gets hired as a security guard and is soon involved in a murder case (Catherine Bach is the victim--the first time I saw this, I didn't recognize her without the Daisy Duke accent). The story hits on a theme that relates to Chinatown but not quite so extreme and feels like a tv-movie.
For what it's worth, it wasn't a TV-movie. I remember when it came out it sounded like it was a star vehicle at at time when Lancaster was headed over the hill for leading man roles.
For what it's worth, it wasn't a TV-movie.
There is a Cameron Mitchell butt shot.
And they swear a bit.
This could almost be a pilot for a series, especially the way it ends.

Burt Lancaster was co-director and writer on it as well.
It was described as a neo-noir. It does have that atmosphere.
633 SQUADRON 1964 --One of the films used as a reference for Star Wars and you can tell. The flying scenes are exciting (except for one repeating shot of a toy plane going near some cliffs). There's also a brief interrogation scene with an Ilsa-She Wolf of the SS type of character. I wish they showed more of her. What's interesting is that usually when a soldier is captured, the guy's comrades will say "he is too tough-he'll never talk."
Not the case here. As soon as they learn he is captured--they are thinking--"he is going to talk really fast--we better bomb the place before he does."
Some faith they have in the guy.
Another thing is that one of the pilots (named Singh) is a Sikh I assume, because he wears a turban. But not in the cockpit. He wears a typical flight cap with goggles. During a meeting, we see Singh with the other pilots--and he is the only one wearing his flight cap in the room. I assume this was because they felt it would look strange if he was wearing a turban. I am wondering how he fits the cap over his turban. And that made me think--in Star Trek, Khan Noonian Singh is a Sikh but he does not have a turban. He should also have a ceremonial dagger.

But the movie does have Donald Houston, and his last movie was Clash of the Titans where he gets crushed to death by Sir Laurence Olivier.

Anyway, that's the kind of mental digression that can happen when watching a movie alone.
The Good Guys and the Bad Guys (1969) A Western comedy/drama
Flagg (Robert Mitchum) is a town Marshall, who gets information that the notorious McKay (George Kennedy) was seen nearby. Because the RR shipment of gold or cash is on its way, Flagg figures that McKay will be involved in a robbery attempt. When he requests the Mayor Wilker (Martin Balsam) to authorize a posse, he declines, because the election is next week, and if he can keep the town quiet. Fearing the Marshall will act on his own, the Mayor holds a retirement/appreciation shindig for him. Without his badge ("Badges? I don't need to show you any stinking badges!" anyone remember that guy?) he has no authority to act.

Going out on his own, he finds the bad guys' camp, and confronts them.
Finding the younger guys have no sense of ethics, McKay joins Flagg in a scheme to foil them.

Supporting cast includes gang leader Waco (David Carradine) & Ticker (John Carradine), the train conductor.

8/10; though it did have a bit of silliness.
The Johnstown Flood (1926) The TCM host said that this was the 1st time for this film on TCM, but, I saw scenes or elements that resonated. Seems I had seen similar ones before this.

So, there is a lumber business and a dam that yields power to run the lumber business. At the bottom of the dam, is a town; the dams needs maintenance, but the owner wants to fill a contract before bothering with it. Oops!

Only 2, count 'em, two names are familiar to me, and neither one was prominent at this time. Gary Cooper as a Flood Survivor, and Clark Gable as an Extra in a bar; both uncredited.

Noted for some very intense special effects. 9/10
Secrets of a Model (1940)

Cheap exploitation film. Nice young woman from the Midwest goes to Hollywood in an attempt to be a model, but winds up as a carhop. Nice young milkman romances her a bit, but her slightly more worldly roommate, also a carhop, convinces her to accept an offer from a rich guy to go on a date. (Present also is a not so nice young woman, whose presence is only an excuse for 1. Worldly roommate to punch her in the jaw when she tries to take away the flowers the rich guy sent to our heroine and 2. All three of them to strip down to their underwear as they change out of their carhop uniforms.)

Rich guy gets her a job as a painter's model. The artist is played for very broad comedy. His presence, other than the obvious plot point, is only an excuse for four models to strip down to their underwear.

Now that the real reason for the film is over, we get to the melodrama. Rich guy gets our heroine drunk and, we assume, has his way with her. She runs off in shame and suffers from what we assume must be pregnancy, causing her to faint and be hospitalized. When she's well again (miscarriage?) she goes back to being a carhop, and has to warn her roommate, who isn't quite as worldly as we thought, away from the predatory rich guy, who meets his doom. Happy ending? Of course!

Not a good film at all, but a look at the vanished professions of carhop and milkman, along with the mild attempt at salaciousness, make it of some interest.
THE FOURTH VICTIM - 1971 - Michael Craig finds his third wife drowned in the pool. He is put on trial but gets off. Then Carroll Baker shows up and he marries her. Will the marriage last? Do we care? Or are we distracted by Baker's face? In the final analysis, does it really matter as much as the revelation that Sharon Stone's plastic surgeon based the rhinoplasty operation on Baker's nose. I can't prove it--but I suspect so. Yet Sharon Stone never had the advantage of late 60s giallo filmmaking, so what does a nose matter?
Recommended double-feature on Amazon

Bettie Page Reveals All (2012) dir. Mark Mori

Documentary about the pinup model who became more famous through late Boomer nostalgia than she had been in her modeling years.

Much of the documentary focuses on the modeling years, her rise, the infamy that came with it, including the social shaming of being arrested. Several people she worked with were interviewed and to a one appear to have loved her and loved working with her. Apparently, as a kid she loved movies and along with her sisters would recreate poses from the movie magazines, which ended up being early preparation for modeling, though her career comes across as less planned than one lucky contact after another pushing her along. Her success and eventual iconic status stemmed in large part because her pleasure at modeling comes through and her pictures exude playfulness, good humor and enjoyment of her own sexuality.

But what a sad life before and after modeling. Page narrates (though you never see the older Betty; she preferred to let the old images stand in for her), and early on her sex addicted father apparently mistreated her and her sisters, her mother left him and took her kids and they lived in poverty, her first husband came back from WWII ragingly possessive and jealous (sounds like PTSD) and even tried to kill her after she left him. Post-modelling career, what sounds like around the onset of menopause, she began hearing voices (actually, there was some of that previously) and was eventually diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic. Eventually she received help and seemed to settle into a retired, quiet life.

Concludes with acknowledgement by many artists (notably Olivia de Berardinis and Dave Stevens) and later models (Laetitia Casta, Shalom Harlow, Rebecca Romijn, others) about her influence. Which leads to …

Dave Stevens Draw to Perfection (2022) dir. Kelvin Mao

Stevens was an illustrator, comic book and pinup artist, best known for The Rocketeer and its later film adaptation; he also worked on the story boards for Raiders of the Lost Ark. He was also smitten with Bettie Page’s pictures --I don't recall the documentary saying when he came across them -- and her image featured in a great deal of his work, notably as the Rocketeer’s girlfriend, to the point where she was almost more center stage than he was.

If you’re interested in comic book creation and popular art, this should be catnip, but for a guy who spent most of his time working alone in a room, his life had some interesting highlights in part because of the range of people he interacted with. Those include the creative forces behind the movie -- Danny Bilson (writer), Joe Johnston (director) -- and also Brink Stevens, to whom he was married briefly and who acted as model and muse, before going on to her own career as a B-movie actress (they met at an early ComicCon), and with whom he remained close even after divorce. Maybe it was her interest or maybe it was shared with her by Stevens, but you can see Page’s influence in how Stevens presented herself as a model.

Why go on about Page? Because Stevens eventually tracked her down – she was living not too far away in the L.A. area – made her aware of her impact on artists and models, worked to get her fees for use of her image (he was the first to pay her), and became a good friend who looked after her. Ironically, he died before she did, but her final years were probably a lot easier because of his efforts.

Includes interviews with family, friends (Thomas Jane, etc.), co-workers (Danny Bilson, Glen Murakami, etc.) and models (Jewel Shepard, etc).

I found these documentaries both sad and oddly heart-warming. Stevens comes across as an insecure but talented artist, a perfectionist, maybe a little sexist, but mostly a sweet, if flawed, guy, just as Page comes across as in some ways a little ahead of her time, and who was at core a decent, sweet person afflicted by poverty and mental illness. That Page found in him a friend and protector, and Stevens found in her a muse and friend, … well, it seems almost a Hollywood (if melancholic) ending.
Drive (2011): A wheelman gets mixed up with the Mafia. I saw this a few weeks ago and should've posted this earlier, because I forgot so much of the plot. I do remember liking it.

Wonka (2024): A prequel rather than a retread. Not bad, but I found myself just wanting to watch Gene Wilder. That being said, there are many creative choices I liked, namely the characters. Key does a wonderfully hilarious turn as a chocolate-addicted policeman.

Monkey Man (2024): I had trouble understanding some of the movie, although it's mostly in English, perhaps due in part to the thick accents of some of the actors. What I did get out of it was amazing. A man paid to lose in wrestling fights seeks revenge for the rape and murder of his mother, the death of his neighbors, and the destruction of his village. He takes inspiration from the Hindu god Hanuman. I love the "oppressed underdog gets revenge" formula, so I really had no chance to dislike it. Would recommend for any action fan.
THE THIEF OF BAGDAD 1924 - I wanted to see this since Siskel and Ebert featured it as part of their silent film favorites and I am glad I finally caught up with it for its centennial. It has a lot of stand out sequences.
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Berserk! (1967)

Joan Crawford had her penultimate feature film role in this shocker. She's the owner/ringmaster of a circus. Right away, a tightrope walker has his wire break. He doesn't fall to his death, but the wire somehow gets around his neck and he's hanged.

Handsome young tightrope walker replaces him and soon starts romancing Crawford, although she's a quarter century older. (Hey, men in movies are involved with much younger women all the time.) He does this insane act where he walks the wire blindfolded over a bunch of steel bayonets pointing up from the ground. Plot point, you think?

Crawford's business partner (Michal Gough) gets it next, with a metal spike driven through his head, coming out of his forehead in our one gore scene. So much for our main red herring.

Time is filled up with a lot of real circus acts. (The trained poodles are cute.) Later we'll have an odd scene in which four "freaks" (midget, strong man, fake bearded lady, and skinny guy) sing a song pretty much mocking themselves.

Blonde bombshell Diana Dors blames the deaths on Crawford. She's part of a "saw a woman in half" act and . . . well, you see where this is going.

Meanwhile, Crawford's teenage daughter is kicked out of boarding school. She winds up being the "target" in a knife throwing act. Not the greatest idea, I'd think, given all the "accidents" happening.

Anyway, somebody else gets killed. Despite a ton of police work, nobody figures out whodunit until the killer self-reveals.

Not a great film -- the padding really slows it down -- but tolerable.
I've just finished watching (on Amazon prime) Robert Donat in the 39 steps (1935) I've seen it a few times and always enjoyed it..
Inspired by this I'm going to try and stream the Kenneth More version (1959) , and also look out for the Robert Powell version (1978)

There's also a TV movie and a mini series but I don't really fancy watching those
I've just finished watching (on Amazon prime) Robert Donat in the 39 steps (1935) I've seen it a few times and always enjoyed it..
Inspired by this I'm going to try and stream the Kenneth More version (1959) , and also look out for the Robert Powell version (1978)

There's also a TV movie and a mini series but I don't really fancy watching those

The book is rubbish.

Tonight No. One Son and I watched. Edgar Wright's Baby Driver - which I wanted to like a lot more than I did. Too tricksy and violent for my taste.
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