Gideon58's Reviews

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LET'S DANCE (1950)

Fred Astaire and Betty Hutton made a surprisingly effective musical duo in a forgotten 1950 gem called Let's Dance, a sparkling musical comedy that actually offers a little more substance than an average MGM musical but also provides the kind of musical interludes we expect from a Fred Astaire musical.

Betty Hutton plays Kitty McNeil, a former USO performer who broke up with partner Don Elwood (Astaire) six years ago, got married and had a child, but her husband dies and she is now trapped in a comfortable but miserable existence with her husband's family, a group of stuffy Bostonians who Kitty can't stand, so she packs up her son, Richie one night and moves back to New York in hopes of resuming her musical career.

Not long after arriving in New York, Kitty gets a job as a cigarette girl in Larry Channock's Supper Club, where the entire staff has adopted Richie and takes great care of him and she is also reunited with Don, who does what he can to help when lawyers working for Richie's great grandmother, Serena (Lucille Watson) show up at the supper club to inform Kitty that Serena is suing for custody of Richie.

The pleasant surprise about this movie and maybe the reason it was one of Astaire's lesser known movies is it is more of a musical comedy than a musical. This is really a comedy that is accentuated by some musical numbers, where the story really takes precedence as opposed to a lot of musicals of the period that were just musical numbers with dialogue inserted around them. In this case, we have a real story rich with entertaining characters and classic musical comedy misunderstandings that neatly wrap themselves up in a little over 90 minutes.

Betty Hutton was a very particular kind of talent who a lot of directors had trouble reining in. She is best known for playing Annie Oakley in the film version of Annie Get Your Gun, but the actress definitely had a limited appeal that made her somewhat exhausting to watch at times, but director Norman Z. MacLeod, who directed a lot of the Marx Brothers and Danny Kaye's best films, seemed to have an understanding on how to handle this actress because she is quite charming in this performance as a young mother who puts nothing ahead of the welfare of her child and she actually makes a more than competent partner for Astaire, whether or not she was that strong a dancer or choreographer Hermes Pan adapted the routines to fit her skillset, it's hard to say, but her dancing with Astaire in this movie works.

The film features a handful of nice songs written by Frank Loesser (Guys & Dolls) including "Oh them dudes", a rowdy western style number set in a saloon and a delicious patter song called "Can't Stop Thinking (About Him)" that accentuates the story which MacLeod and screenwriter Dane Lussler always keep center stage. And for those who expect an Astaire staple, a dance solo with an inanimate object for a partner, don't worry, our boy does a great duet with a piano here. The film also features a pretty solid supporting cast for a musical comedy including Ruth Warrick, Barton MacLane, Sheppard Struddick, Roland Young, and little Gregory Moffet is adorable as Richie. If you like you musical comedy with a little meat on its bones, belly up.



I hadn't read anything positive online about it before I watched it and considering how much I hated the Grease remake I thought I would hate this too but I didn't. I really enjoyed it and nothing anyone says is going to change my opinion about it or anything I wrote in my review and if anyone has a problem with that, feel free to write your own review.

I was surprised to read how much you liked The Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016). I'm not a fan of the original version, but I thought this version was terrible. I watched it long enough to see Tim Curry, Adam Lambert, and Ben Vereen in it, and then I turned it off.

I thought maybe I hated it so much because I don't like the original version, but when I read some reviews of it online, it seems like most people hated it, especially the die-hard "Rocky Horror" fans.
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I'm surprised that a musical comedy with Fred Astaire and Betty Hutton somehow managed to slip past me, but I've never even heard of Let's Dance. It sounds like my kind of movie, so I added it to my watchlist.


I think I found it on YouTube. Is this the right movie?



I'm surprised that a musical comedy with Fred Astaire and Betty Hutton somehow managed to slip past me, but I've never even heard of Let's Dance. It sounds like my kind of movie, so I added it to my watchlist.
It slipped past me too. At least I don't remember watching it. I've seen Betty Hutton before and she's always interesting and funny. So sounds like a good movie.



I was surprised to read how much you liked The Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016). I'm not a fan of the original version, but I thought this version was terrible. I watched it long enough to see Tim Curry, Adam Lambert, and Ben Vereen in it, and then I turned it off.

I thought maybe I hated it so much because I don't like the original version, but when I read some reviews of it online, it seems like most people hated it, especially the die-hard "Rocky Horror" fans.
Yeah, it's starting to look like I'm the only person on the planet who liked it...oh well...I actually am curious why you bothered to watch it if you didn't like the original. I can't imagine anyone bothering to watch the remake of an original they hated and act surprised that they hated it.



THE BIG COUNTRY

It seems 1958 turned out be a very good year for lavish, all-star cinematic soap operas. We met the Pollitt family in the Tennessee Williams drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and the Varners in The Long Hot Summer. Director William Wyler lent a slightly heavy-handed directorial hand to a third soap opera that year called The Big Country that tells a compelling story but suffers from a screenplay that definitely could have used some tightening.

This western drama is the story of Jim McKay (Gregory Peck), a New England city slicker who arrives for a visit in a western town to visit his fiancee, Pat Terrill (Carroll Baker) who he met while Pat was on a visit back east. Pat has persuaded Jim to visit in order to see if he has the stuff to be a genuine cowboy. Upon arrival, Jim finds himself at the center of a long and bitter feud between Pat's family and another family named the Hannaseys who are battling over the water rights on a parcel of land which actually belongs to a schoolteacher named Julie Maragon (Jean Simmons) whom the eldest Hannassey boy, Buck (Chuck Connors) tells his tyrannical father Rufus (Burl Ives) that her feelings for Buck will eventually make Julie give up the land.

On the other side of the feud, Pat's dad, the wealthy Major Henry Terrill (Charles Bickford) has tread lightly because Julie is Pat's best friend. We also meet Henry's devoted # 1 ranch hand, Steve (Charlton Heston) who has been secretly lusting after Pat for the longest time but has been hiding it from everyone, and there you have it, all the elements of a classic soap opera, except that most of it takes place on horseback.

William Wyler is no stranger to this kind of spectacle, it just would have been nice if he had been aware that his story isn't as original as he apparently thought it was, because he certainly takes his time telling this story, even though we can see what is going on about 20 minutes in, which would have been all right if the story by James R. Webb, Sy Bartlett, and Robert Wilder was as suspense filled as Wyler seemed to think it was. Wyler puts a lot of trust in a story that he allows to unfold much too slowly and asks a lot of the viewer to invest this much time into a story this predictable.

Don't get me wrong...the film does have a lot going for it, including some interesting characters and some offbeat casting that really works. Gregory Peck is an unlikely western hero but he really commands the screen here and I don't think I have ever enjoyed Charlton Heston onscreen as much as I did here. Jean Simmons brings a layer of strength to her accustomed onscreen beauty and even Carroll Baker is somewhat interesting as the spoiled and self-absorbed Pat. Bickford was strong as Maj. Terrill and Burl Ives is absolutely superb as Rufus Hannassey, a performance that won him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. I had always wondered why Ives won the Oscar for this and not for his Big Daddy Pollitt, but now that I've finally seen this, I have to admit this is the superior performance and he won for the right film.

Wyler has created a sweeping and beautifully photographed western horse opera that works on most levels, even if it goes on a little too long. That familiar theme music was composed by Jerome Moross and if you blink, you'll miss a young Roddy McDowell in a bit part.



Yeah, it's starting to look like I'm the only person on the planet who liked it...oh well...
Twenty years from now, everyone will be saying they love it, it was better than the original, etc.



I was surprised to read how much you liked The Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016). I'm not a fan of the original version, but I thought this version was terrible. I watched it long enough to see Tim Curry, Adam Lambert, and Ben Vereen in it, and then I turned it off.

I thought maybe I hated it so much because I don't like the original version, but when I read some reviews of it online, it seems like most people hated it, especially the die-hard "Rocky Horror" fans.
Yeah, it's starting to look like I'm the only person on the planet who liked it...oh well...I actually am curious why you bothered to watch it if you didn't like the original. I can't imagine anyone bothering to watch the remake of an original they hated and act surprised that they hated it.

I watched it mostly out of curiosity about some of the actors, but I wasn't surprised that I hated it. I was surprised that everyone else hated it.

I watched "American Idol" when Adam Lambert was on it, and while he wasn't my favorite singer that season, it was very obvious how talented he is, so I wanted to see him as Eddie. I also watched to see Tim Curry as the Narrator/Criminologist, but it was more sad to see him in that role than anything else. And I wanted to see Ben Vereen as Dr. Scott, mainly because I thought it was very strange casting him in that role, and as I expected, his talent was wasted.



I watched it mostly out of curiosity about some of the actors, but I wasn't surprised that I hated it. I was surprised that everyone else hated it.
I'm still confused here...it still goes back to the fact that you didn't like the original film...if you didn't like the '75 film, why watch the remake at all, no matter who was in the cast? You even said you didn't like Adam Lambert when he was on Star Search yet you were curious about him as Eddie and that you thought the casting of Ben Vereen was strange. It seems to me that you had it in for this production before watching it, so why watch it? You came into it looking to hate it and seem to be looking for someone to validate the hate that seemed to be implanted before you even tuned in. It seems like this production didn't really have a chance with you and that you couldn't wait to come here and rip it apart.



I'm still confused here...it still goes back to the fact that you didn't like the original film...if you didn't like the '75 film, why watch the remake at all, no matter who was in the cast?
Is it really all that shocking? If they remade The Big Lebowski with Jake Gyllenhaal, I'd see it.

Originally Posted by Gideon58
You came into it looking to hate it and seem to be looking for someone to validate the hate that seemed to be implanted before you even tuned in. It seems like this production didn't really have a chance with you and that you couldn't wait to come here and rip it apart.
Aye-yi-yi.



Gideon, I think you hated the Rocky Horror remake, too, but you just wanna be different and act like it was fantastic.



Gideon, I think you hated the Rocky Horror remake, too, but you just wanna be different and act like it was fantastic.

You're really enjoying this aren't you, Sexy?



Well, look -- let me say something. I thought the Rocky Horror remake didn't start off THAT bad. I thought the usherette and the people watching it in a theater were nice. It was good to see Tim Curry involved. However, once they arrived at Frank N Furter's castle, that's when everything fell apart for me. Laverne Cox didn't seem too bad, but everything else, It lost me, I felt I couldn't take it anymore, I turned off the TV and then discovered that everyone else hated it, too.



I watched it mostly out of curiosity about some of the actors, but I wasn't surprised that I hated it. I was surprised that everyone else hated it.

I watched "American Idol" when Adam Lambert was on it, and while he wasn't my favorite singer that season, it was very obvious how talented he is, so I wanted to see him as Eddie. I also watched to see Tim Curry as the Narrator/Criminologist, but it was more sad to see him in that role than anything else. And I wanted to see Ben Vereen as Dr. Scott, mainly because I thought it was very strange casting him in that role, and as I expected, his talent was wasted.
I'm still confused here...it still goes back to the fact that you didn't like the original film...if you didn't like the '75 film, why watch the remake at all, no matter who was in the cast? You even said you didn't like Adam Lambert when he was on Star Search yet you were curious about him as Eddie and that you thought the casting of Ben Vereen was strange. It seems to me that you had it in for this production before watching it, so why watch it? You came into it looking to hate it and seem to be looking for someone to validate the hate that seemed to be implanted before you even tuned in. It seems like this production didn't really have a chance with you and that you couldn't wait to come here and rip it apart.

I didn't say that I "didn't like" Adam Lambert on "American Idol". I said that "he wasn't my favorite singer that season". I even admitted that it was obvious that he was talented. (He was the favorite to win that season.) The main thing that I didn't like about him was his song choices because I don't like the type of songs he sang, but he's an incredibly talented singer, who I thought would have done an amazing job as Dr. Frank-N-Furter. I was surprised that he was cast as Eddie, and I wanted to see how he would be in that role. (And he was one of the bright spots of the show.)

I'll admit that I went into it expecting to hate it, but I didn't go into it looking to hate it. I wanted to give it a fair chance to at least be entertaining. I was more surprised that all the reviews that I read about it were negative. It made sense that I didn't like it, but I thought that other people would have liked it. I really expected the reviews to be positive, and that I would have been the only person who hated it. That would have made more sense to me.

And I didn't "rip it apart". I just said that I didn't like it. And after reading so many bad reviews of it online, I was just surprised that you liked it.



I knew he would like it. I was actually thinking about Gideon while watching the Rocky Horror remake.



It's hard to like remakes. Especially remakes that try to be different. Certain things capture the magic of something. When you deviate from those things, the magic isn't there.



THE BACK-UP PLAN

The 2010 romantic comedy The Back-up Plan has flashes of originality in terms of story, but suffers from an overly padded screenplay, a rather annoying lead character, and a less than charismatic leading man.

Jennifer Lopez, away from the big screen for a minute, returns as Zoe, a romance-challenged pet shop owner who decides she can't wait for the right man in order to have a baby so she decides to be artificially inseminated. On the very day that she has the procedure, Zoe meets cute with a gourmet cheese maker named Stan (Alex O'Loughlin) and falls for him almost instantly and once she confesses that she is pregnant (with twins) and Stan wants to commit to her anyway, she does everything she can to drive him away.

Kate Angelo, who was a contributor to the screenplay for the Cameon Diaz/Jason Segel comedy Sex Tape, scores points for creating a leading character who is not afraid of having a child on her own and seems ready for the challenges ahead of her, but really isn't. I did like the fact that the entire film was not about Zoe trying to hide the fact that she was pregnant, but it was after this reveal and Stan commits to her anyway is where the film really starts to get messy.

Once Stan makes the commitment to stay with Zoe and to raise these twins as his own, Zoe seems to think this gives her license to behave anyway she wants and Stan is just supposed to roll with it. The story initially establishes Zoe as someone positive and contemporary and likable but forgets about all that about halfway through the film and turns her into a whiny, spoiled, entitled diva who expects Stan and everyone else to bow to her whim, driving Stan away and making me want to give up on this seemingly very long and often tiresome cinematic journey.

The performances are a matter of taste...Lopez, who looks absolutely amazing, overacts throughout and commits to a lot of forced physical comedy that just slowed the film down. O'Loughlin looks good without a shirt, but his performance was lifeless and uninteresting. An actor with a little more experience in this role really might have helped here. Ryan Gosling comes to mind. There were some fun comic bits contributed along the way by Anthony Anderson as a Mr. Mom who offers advice to Stan, Melissa McCarthy as the leader of a single moms therapy group, and Linda Lavin as Zoe's grandmother. This film also marked the final film appearance of the late Tom Bosley as Grandma's fiancee. Hardcore Lopez fans might add half a bag of popcorn to this rating, but for this reviewer, this one was pretty hard going.