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The Big Knife (1955)

Director: Robert Aldrich
Writers: James Poe (screenplay), Clifford Odets (stage play)
Cast: Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, Rod Stieger, Wendell Corey, Shelley Winters, Everett Sloane
Genre: Drama, Film-Noir


Synopsis (spoiler free): Hollywood movie star Charles Castle (Jack Palance) has some deep troubles! His wife (Ida Lupino) is divorcing him. The head of the studio (Rod Steiger) is blackmailing him into signing a 7 year movie contract. His best friend's wife (Jean Hagen) has the hots for him...So does a no-talent struggling actress (Shelley Winters) who happens to be shooting off her mouth around town about the actors dark past. All of this comes to head over a course of 48 hours.

My thoughts: Damn! this was one intensely emotional film that really digs into the seedy side of Hollywood and the dark secrets that tinsel town hides. I knew this was going to be down and dirty when we first meet the cut-throat gossip columnist Patty Benedict (Ilka Chase), based on real life Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, who made and broke many a career by a stroke of her pen.

Jack Palance
as a handsome leading man? Yeah it works, he's surprisingly effective as a movie star with a soft artist side who's sold out his artistry to make money for the studio. And he makes a lot of money and that's why the conniving & manipulative studio head Stanley Shriner Hoff pulls out all the stops to break the will of the actor. Rod Steiger, plays his role to utter perfection and is based on several real life studio heads, including Harry Cohn and Louie B Mayer.

This was Shelley Winter's first film and one that would type cast her in future movies.

Based on a stage play, this is wordy and the monologues give flesh to the motives of the characters much in the same way as was done in Twelve Angry Men. Fans of that movie should find a keen interest in The Big Knife, so should fans of The Bad and the Beautiful find something to like here.


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Union Station
(1950)

Director: Rudolph Maté
Writers: Sydney Boehm (screenplay), Thomas Walsh (story)
Cast: William Holden, Nancy Olson, Barry Fitzgerald, Jan Sterling
Genre: Crime Drama, Film-Noir


"A sharp-eyed woman spots a man with a gun on a train and her alert to the railroad police helps them in their search for a ruthless gang who have kidnapped a blind heiress."


The bad guys are brutal and so are the cops in this 1950 police procedural film wrapped up with noir trimmings. The head bad guy in the kidnapping ring is so evil, he not only wants to shoot the poor blind rich girl he as tied up to a chair but threatens his platinum blonde girlfriend played with heart by Jan Sterling. The cops too are a hoot, when they're not beating confessions out of the bad guys they're threatening to throw them under the train, 'so that it looks like an accident'....Ahh, the good old days.

William Holden is pretty good here, he's a determined and intelligent cop based out of New York's Union Station. He doesn't believe a crime has been committed at first but agrees to investigate anyway. Holden has a certain way about him that makes him likable.

Barry Fitzgerald
is the head cop, wise, tough and very personable. I liked him in this. His role reminded me of another noir movie, The Naked City (1948)

Mostly the draw here is the noir style cinematography and the on location shooting in LA's Union Station. The story too has a lot to offer with a cleaver plot and excitement.

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Had the exact opposite response to We Need To Talk Aboit Kevin. The structure and editing bothered me for a bit but I quickly became enamored with how Ramsey is only telling us the mother's story. It's not about Kevin or the father. We are meant to feel her confusion and angst. I did, shame you didn't but I can totally understand your feeling in the film because you didn't connect in that way.
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Had the exact opposite response to We Need To Talk Aboit Kevin. The structure and editing bothered me for a bit but I quickly became enamored with how Ramsey is only telling us the mother's story. It's not about Kevin or the father. We are meant to feel her confusion and angst. I did, shame you didn't but I can totally understand your feeling in the film because you didn't connect in that way.
It's probably a very good thing that the film didn't resonate with me, otherwise it would have stuck in my mind, and, that's something I don't need stuck in my head.




ALL THE KING'S MEN (1949)

Director: Robert Rossen
Writers: Robert Penn Warren (novel), Robert Rossen (screenplay)
Cast: Broderick Crawford, John Ireland, Joanne Dru
Genre: Drama


"The rise and fall of a corrupt politician, who makes his friends richer and retains power by dint of a populist appeal."


What a photo! I love it!...It's raw, intense and focused. It's a great publicity photo...and Mercedes McCambridge was a powerhouse in this movie. I mean she was one tough hard boiled lady! and in 1949 you just didn't get characters like that. And that's what I liked about All the King's Men, dynamic, forceful characters that seemed real.

Broderick Crawford made a damn good, corrupt-political boss, Huey Long. I've seen a documentary on the real Huey Long and he really did operate like a crime boss, using every trick he could to keep his political machine going. It's pretty sickening actually that he did what he did for so long.

Broderick Crawford was a great choice for this. I can't image another actor at the time better suited to playing Huey long. John Ireland was a good choice too, I liked him and most all of the supporting cast.

Though I didn't care for Joanne Dru who plays Anne. I thought she was miscast IMO. She was too much of a sweet, supporting type to two-time on her boyfriend with Willie Stark. That didn't work for me. But overall it was a well done movie and one I'm glad to have watched as it was on my 'too watch list' and it's a Best Picture Winner that I hadn't seen.


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The Ten Commandments (1956)

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Cast: Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson, Yvonne De Carlo, Debra Pagent, John Derek, Cedric Hardwicke, Judith Anderson, Vincent Price, John Carradine
Length: 3hours 40minutes


Yes, you can enjoy The Ten Commandments even if you're not religious. Sure the movie covers the biblical tale from Book of Exodus which covers the Jews flight from Egypt where they were slaves, to their wondering in the Sinai desert for 40 years...

And of course it tells the story of the biblical prophet Moses who led his people out of bondage and received the cornerstone of early Christian religion, the ten commandments....But you don't have to be religious to enjoy Cecil B. DeMille's spectacle and grandeur of ancient Egypt and this story of love and revenge...and there's a lot of revenge going on in this story.

But if you think this is a stuff preachy bible stuff, you'd be wrong. This is a dynamic, sweeping story epic story, that's also a very personal story of love and friendship, of greed and power plays, it's great melodrama, and visually it's vast. I mean for it's time the parting of the Red Sea was one cool special effect! And more importantly it's a goose bump moment! Lots of scenes like are both grand and deeply personal.

And it's just not about Moses who's played to perfect by Charlton Heston, it's also the story of his adopted brother Ramses the Pharaoh of Egypt stunningly played by Yul Brynner. Then there are sub stories with their own plots and characters, like the turn coat Jewish overseer (Edward G. Robinson) who brutalizes his own people as they build the old Pharaohs city. I could go on, but I'll end by saying it's a very complex movie full of humanity.

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ALL THE KING'S MEN (1949)

Director: Robert Rossen
Writers: Robert Penn Warren (novel), Robert Rossen (screenplay)
Cast: Broderick Crawford, John Ireland, Joanne Dru
Genre: Drama


"The rise and fall of a corrupt politician, who makes his friends richer and retains power by dint of a populist appeal."
...
Though I didn't care for Joanne Dru who plays Anne. I thought she was miscast IMO. She was too much of a sweet, supporting type to two-time on her boyfriend with Willie Stark. That didn't work for me. But overall it was a well done movie and one I'm glad to have watched as it was on my 'too watch list' and it's a Best Picture Winner that I hadn't seen.


Great pics so far! "King's Men" is a very enjoyable film. It's director, Robert Rossen, went on to direct The Hustler, one of my favorite films.

Huey long was for all practical purposes the king of Louisiana. He was an extremely corrupt mover and shaker, who's concept of wealth redistribution would have made Bernie Sanders' look like a fiscal conservative.. The country would have been worse off had he realized his ambitions for national office. His son Russell was a piece of cake as well, but not as nutsy as his father.

You make a good point about Joanne Dru's casting. But to me, as great a performance as B. Crawford gave, he was also miscast. He sounded and acted like he just got off the train from Bayonne, NJ.

Long was a little bit of a kook, and ran the state by his whims. His administration commenced the level of corruption and graft that has not changed much since that day.

I was up in the LA State Capitol building where Long was assassinated. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisiana_State_Capitol They even left the bullet holes in the wall where he got shot up. Very creepy, but fascinating.

I wish someone would do a remake of this film. If done honestly, and with the appropriate actor as Long, it would make a helluva film.

~Doc



@GulfportDoc

The Hustler
is one of my favorite films too. Though I'm not a big fan of The Color of Money.

A lot of people notice accents that are off. I see comments about that all the time here at MoFo. I hardly ever notice bad accents myself, maybe it's because I'm from the west coast where we don't have accents At least my ears never hear it.

I was up in the LA State Capitol building where Long was assassinated.
Wow! Interesting! What were you doing there at the time? What did you see?...If I ever visit Louisiana I'll have to check out those bullet holes!




Rocky (1976)
Director: John G. Avildsen
Writer: Sylvester Stallone
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young
Genre: Sports Drama


"Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer, gets a supremely rare chance to fight heavy-weight champion Apollo Creed in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect."

I really liked the small budget, on location indie film feeling that Rocky had. I didn't expect that from this film. I thought this would be a glossy, big budget, feel good flick. Instead it felt more personal and more real too. I know that Sylvester Stallone had wrote the script and tried for years to get his movie made. I'm glad he did, it was quite the achievement for a unknown to get his movie made.

I thought Stallone was excellent here, very personable and very realistic, I liked his character. I've basically not seen him in any other movies, with the exception of Creed (2015) and Death Race 2000 (1975). So to me this was all new.

I liked the Talia Shire character Adrian, though it was kind of funny how she went from nearly catatonic and frumpy looking, to very stylish dressed...and where did her glasses go?...I liked her best in the pet store scene and the first part of the movie. I wish her character had been developed more, because to me the story of Rocky getting his own life together, was more interesting than the boxing.

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Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
Yeah, I believe the "Saga" is over 7 hours long! Yikes! Definitely has to be watched over 2 or 3 nights.
I watched the first two Godfathers in one sitting! And yes, I realize Saga is montaged differently.
__________________
In the strictest sense lesbians can't have sex at all period.




I really liked the small budget, on location indie film, feeling that Rocky had. I didn't expect that from this film. I thought this would be a glossy, big budget, feel good flick. Instead it felt more personal and more real too. I know that Sylvester Stallone had wrote the script and tried for years to get his movie made. I'm glad he did, it was quite the achievement for a unknowing to get his movie made.

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This. The look of the film went perfectly with the spirit of the story - i.e. the indie feel of the film, then having the film rise to the level of a big budget feature reflected Rocky's story of rising from obscurity to championship level.

As you probably know, the story was based on real life NJ boxer Chuck Wepner who went on to challenge world champion Muhammad Ali.

Surprised to find you've never seen this before!

The sequels are a mixed bag, but all in all a pretty successful and entertaining series:
II is a great sequel (though slightly predictable),
III is a personal favorite as some major changes occur and Mr. T. makes his debut as the challenger,
IV has some redundancy and a shlocky Cold War theme,
V... I won't even comment on - I don't even acknowledge it in the lexicon.
VI ("Rocky Balboa" 2006) I thought was a good comeback movie.
And I haven't seen "Creed" yet.



@GulfportDoc

The Hustler
is one of my favorite films too. Though I'm not a big fan of The Color of Money.

A lot of people notice accents that are off. I see comments about that all the time here at MoFo. I hardly ever notice bad accents myself, maybe it's because I'm from the west coast where we don't have accents At least my ears never hear it.

Wow! Interesting! What were you doing there at the time? What did you see?...If I ever visit Louisiana I'll have to check out those bullet holes!
Well I live only 90 minutes away from Baton Rouge, on the Dixie Riviera. I'd been wanting to tour the State Capitol building for quite awhile. We went on the weekend when the state assemblies were not in session. It's a magnificent building, for years the tallest skyscraper in the South. Up at the top you can see for miles-- seemingly all the way to New Orleans. Stunning view! And the building itself is full of art deco stylings.

~Doc




A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Director: Ron Howard
Writers: Akiva Goldsman, Sylvia Nasar (book)
Cast: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly
Genre: Biography, Drama

"After John Nash, a brilliant but asocial mathematician, accepts secret work in cryptography, his life takes a turn for the nightmarish."


That photo sums up how director Ron Howard told the story of the brilliant but asocial mathematician John Nash. Like that photo the movie hits all the cues for making one feel you're watching something special. And the story of John Nash who struggled with schizophrenia and later won the Nobel prize should have been a soul stirring film. Instead it focused on too many plot twist and contrived feel good moments, which then takes away the more powerful story that could have been told.

I did mostly like the first 1 hour 45 minutes and the film should have ended shortly after he returned home from the hospital, had another relapse and he ask his wife for one more chance to work out his problems...she then goes over to the bed where he's setting and hugs him. The film could have then faded into black, with a title card that said Princeton 1994 and faded into the pen presentation ceremony, then...faded into the Nobel prize scnee. That's how I would have done it.

As it was, I found the last 30 minutes a drag, and I really got tired of seeing the three imaginary people over and over again. I don't even think showing the three imaginary people following him around worked as a visual representation of schizophrenia. I do know it got tiring seeing it at the end.

I have to believe that playing a genius mathematician who's both asocial and schizophrenic would be tough for any actor. So I'd say Russell Crowe did as good as the script allowed. However there were a few times he seemed to be smirking at the camera, and was more Crowe than Nash. I also got the feeling he played the character as a higher functioning autistic person.

Jennifer Connelly was fine as the supporting wife, acting wise that is... But she's way too beautiful for the story to be convincing. She's so stunningly beautiful in this, that it really took me out of the movie. Not her fault, actually it's the director's fault. They could have had the make-up department make her up less glamorous. All the women in this film were made up like that...as totally smokin hot babes. Which seems silly for a story of such a serious nature.

But... Ed Harris did rock the film in the first 2/3rds of this movie. He's just so good! I wish the Soviet spy bomb plot had been the whole movie, as it was much more interesting than the story told of John Nash.





Moonlight (2016)

Director: Barry Jenkins
Writers: Barry Jenkins (screenplay), Tarell Alvin McCraney (story)
Cast: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Trevante Rhodes
Genre: Drama


"A chronicle of the childhood, adolescence and burgeoning adulthood of a young, African-American, gay man growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami."

Moonlight was 2017's Best Picture Academy Award winner. A win that was somewhat controversial as at first the wrong movie was read as the winner.

I liked the first two segments which compose the bulk of the movie. I especially found the middle segment with the teen Chiron to be powerful. In the first two segments we see how Chiron being different in a hostile environment filled with drugs and violence effects him. I really felt bad for him! Especially as his home and mother were so deeply messed up. The scenes with his mother were some of the most powerful that I've seen in any movie. The film really immerses us in his personal story and makes his world seem so real. Good film making! And I wanted more of that story.

But the last act with the muscle bound adult Chiron lost it for me. No longer did I care about him as he looked bad ass enough to take on anyone, thus removing the one dynamic of the film that worked so well...sympathy for the underdog.





I won't dance. Don't ask me...
CR, have you seen Dolans Mother? I'm curious, if you would like it more than We must talk about Kevin?

You are right about Ezra preformance, but for me he had supporting role. He was instumental for the plot, coz it was about mother, who "dare" not to love her child. This issue was taboo few years ago. Maybe still is?
What do you think?



CR, have you seen Dolans Mother? I'm curious, if you would like it more than We must talk about Kevin?

You are right about Ezra preformance, but for me he had supporting role. He was instumental for the plot, coz it was about mother, who "dare" not to love her child. This issue was taboo few years ago. Maybe still is?
What do you think?
I haven't seen Mother (2017), it doesn't sound like my kind of movie. I'm not a horror fan and from I read about it, it sounds like a film I wouldn't like.

I never thought of the mother in We Need to Talk About Kevin daring not to love her child. It seemed to me she kept trying to reach out and love him but he was a bad seed from the day he was born. The movie could be seen as a pro abortion movie.




The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Writers: Fredric M. Frank & Barré Lyndon (screenplay)
Cast: Charlton Heston, Betty Hutton, Cornel Wilde, James Stewart, Gloria Grahame
Genre: Drama

"The dramatic lives of trapeze artists, a clown, and an elephant trainer are told against a background of circus spectacle."

Oscar winner for Best Picture...but did it deserve to win over such classics as John Ford's The Quiet Man or the Gary Cooper film High Noon. Well, the answer is complex. No one wanted to vote for the anti McCarthy message film High Noon. And Cecil B. de Mille was highly regarded in Hollywood and yet had never been directly rewarded with an Oscar. And while the story line itself in The Greatest Show on Earth is strictly by the numbers and uninspired...and the acting is mishmash at times, there's no denying the grandeur that was the hallmark of Cecil B. de Mille.



Much of this film works as a documentary with much actual behind the scenes footage filmed at
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's Florida camp, and features the actual circus troupe who appears in the film, along with hundreds of animals, and trainloads of equipment and tents.

One of the high lights of this technicolor film is the actual circus performances by the stars. That's Gloria Grahame's face that a very real elephant rest it's foot on! And the multi talented Betty Hutton had to learn how to do the trapezes as did her male co star, Cornell Wilde.



This was Charlton Heston's first leading role in a movie and launched his career. James Stewart plays his entire role in clown make up so isn't as well remembered but he should be.

At 2.5 hours this is long, but well worth it for the exciting and real circus scenes.




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I won't dance. Don't ask me...
I think Dani's talking about I Killed My Mother by Xavier Dolan.
I haven't seen Mother (2017), it doesn't sound like my kind of movie. I'm not a horror fan and from I read about it, it sounds like a film I wouldn't like.

I never thought of the mother in We Need to Talk About Kevin daring not to love her child. It seemed to me she kept trying to reach out and love him but he was a bad seed from the day he was born. The movie could be seen as a pro abortion movie.
I was thinking about Mommy. Sorry for the mistake.

Speaking about taboo I was thinking rather about the disenchantment of the candy vision of motherhood, like in sweet commercials.
Those only loose associations




One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)


Director: Milos Forman
Writers: Lawrence Hauben & Bo Goldman (screenplay), Ken Kesey (novel)
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Michael Berryman
Genre: Drama


"A criminal pleads insanity after getting into trouble again and once in the mental institution rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients."


I'm impressed!...I don't even know where to start with my praises! Cuckoo's Nest has one of the best written scripts I've ever had the joy to experience in a movie. So kudos to Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman, both who won Oscars for their effort.

And kudos to the actors, the entire cast was extremely talented:

Jack Nicholson, OMG was he great in this or what! To his credit he played R.P. McMurphy as a man who might just be an actual sociopath or instead might just be one huge jack ass. The questionable nature of his character worked wonders as the audience is in the same shoes as the doctors...we don't know if this man really belongs in a mental institute or not?

At first he seems like the typical anti-hero, a role he often played in other movies, but the film then flips that on it's head when he comes with in seconds of choking Nurse Ratchet to death. Which makes me think he's a real sociopath (a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.)...and that sounds like R.P. McMurphy to me.

When I was younger I thought he was the victim and the nurse was the evil one...but now I can see those roles being blurred and questioned, and that's brilliant screen writing...and acting.



Louise Fletcher
, holy cow she rocked! I had seen this film once like 30 years ago and I remembered her as this evil conniving, sadistic nurse...boy was I wrong! She gave Nurse Ratched depth...and I could see she believed the actions she took was in the best interest of the patients. And yet she's a control freak and McMurphy challenges her control which then pushes her deeper into her authoritativeness.

Nurse Ratched extruded this passive-aggressive personality that was layered with that overly calm & collected voice, brilliant! But she never really crosses the line and becomes an evil caricature, in fact I rather like her...at least until the end. Both her and Nicholson richly deserved their Oscars.

But you know who I thought was great in this Brad Dourif in his first major movie role. He's always been a favorite actor of mine ever since I seen him in Dune (1984). He was flat out amazing in Star Trek Voyager as a reoccurring character who had become psychotic and murdered a crew member.

The rest of the cast were equally good. I learned in an interview with the director that he hated movies where the supporting actors all looked alike, as the audience can confuse them. So he purposely populated his film with actors that had a very distinctive look. He went with unknown actors at the time, that way he could keep his film feeling more real. The only known actor was Nicholson and he was the audiences proxy into the story, so familiarity was a plus for the lead.

The director had one thing he kept telling the actors over an over, 'keep it natural' and that's why the film works so good, it feels like you're in this mental institute with real patients.



And if all this wasn't enough, they actually filmed and lived for 10 days in a wing of the Oregon Hospital for mental patients. Gosh that makes this film look so authentic as those are real rooms, real sets.

According to the DVD extras the actors really got into their roles and kept in character the entire time. Oh and the head doctor at the beginning of the film, he's a real doctor who worked at Oregon Hospital.

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