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Dead End, 1937

Tensions are rife in a New York slum, as fancy riverside apartments have just gone up literally looking down on the impoverished people living there. Drina (Sylvia Sidney) is part of a labor strike, and is fighting to keep her little brother, Tommy (Billy Halop) from getting in too deep with the local street gang. Drina also has a complicated relationship with childhood crush Dave (Joel McCrea), a man who grew up with her in the slum and is trying to make an honest living of things. Adding to the already simmering tension is the return of locally infamous bad boy and killer, Baby Face Martin (Humphrey Bogart), on the run from the cops.

Well this was a real surprise! The cover on the streaming site made this look like kind of a cheap 30s potboiler drama. Yet the film, adapted from the stage play by Lillian Hellman and directed by William Wyler, is a complex look at the damaging social gaps between the rich and the poor and the cycle of violence and poverty that plagues so many from even a young age.

This is honestly the type of storytelling that I associate more with modern films: several different subplots taking place at the same time, all overlapping and intersecting with each other. Between Dave, Baby Face Martin, and Tommy, ideas about what it means to be a "real man" and to have a code of honor get a real workout.

The film starkly and brutally portrays the violence and desperation of the people living in the slum. Drina is a polite, honest, sweet person, and she several times mentions what it's like being on the picket line, including watching a police officer punch one of the protesting women in the face. The street gang makes a habit of violence, their cynicism about authority making them mostly immune to any correction, aside from a baseline fear of the police and reform school.

Despite the fact that he's a murderer, and a ruthless one at that, Baby Face Martin's story is also tinged with tragedy. When he goes to see his mother, she bitterly and with a stunned, detached air, asks why he couldn't have left her alone to forget him. When he later catches up with a former flame, Francey (Claire Trevor), he finds that she has become a prostitute and is suffering from an STI. He asks why she didn't "wait for me, or starve first." She can only shrug.

Finally, the film has an interesting commentary on the way that the behaviors of the depraved are at once feared and glamorized. Baby Face Martin is, in many ways, treated as a local celebrity. When certain exploits from the slum make the newspaper, the story is filled with romantic (and false) touches. The local boys incredulously read the story, wondering aloud at all of the falsehoods and the lurid picture it paints of their neighborhood.

Significantly, the boys in the local gang are not all that sympathetic. They are rude and violent. They are whiny and sarcastic. In one sequence, they lay a trap for a wealthy boy who lives in the apartment, violently jumping him, beating him, and stealing his things. But they are victims of the aggrandizing of people like Baby Face. With little or no prospects for a successful honest life, the best they can hope for is to be the top of the heap on the street. As Drina and Dave, Sidney and McCrea walk a fine line as the two adults who understand the boys and want to protect them, and yet are frustrated by the violent path that the boys are walking down.

Complex and harrowing, I would highly recommend this one.






Dead End, 1937

Complex and harrowing, I would highly recommend this one.

What streaming service did you find it on?



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Maybe one of the last couple of films you posted here might show up in a future HoF
I know exactly what you mean
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What to do if you find yourself stuck with no hope of rescue:
Consider yourself lucky that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn't been good to you so far, which given your present circumstances seems more likely, consider yourself lucky that it won't be troubling you much longer.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?

By FilmAffinity, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6706117

La Dolce Vita - (1960)

With the help of La Dolce Vita I think I'm finally starting to understand films like The Rules of the Game. Here is an examination of a wealthy section of society that aspires to nothing more than pleasure in the moment, and completely rejects anything deeper than booze and sex, along with a certain joy in being cruel. Scams are given applause, and philosophy condemnation, because scams work and make these people happy while the lone philosopher in this movie is miserable. In this film we witness the fall of gossip columnist Marcello (who is teetering on a pretty low precipice to start with) - he has the potential to be something more, but is seduced and easily corrupted. There's something child-like about him. The film is rich with symbolism (I'd heard about that opening statue scene - "It's Jesus!") I liked the bookends - where Marcello simply cannot hear. You sense a deep well of contempt in Fellini for the people in his life who inspired this particular film.

It's hard to hate any individual in this, but when lumped together these people have the knack of turning something beautiful into something ugly. I find myself wondering what Fellini would make of today's elite.

I already have the urge to examine this film further...

8.5/10

Foreign language hall of fame films seen : 49/100


By impawards, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11790072

Across the Universe - (2007)

Constructing a movie around Beatles songs is pretty risky business. Just look at 1978s Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - it's like a grotesque creature. Across the Universe started pretty badly for me, rendering a lot of songs that originally had a very fast tempo into quavering meditations on pitch control - the kind of singing I hate. When characters such as Jude, Prudence, Sadie and Lucy are introduced I feel like cringing, because their songs are being telegraphed a mile away. But as this film got to it's last third, and the climax of the story hit crisis after crisis, I felt the songs were finally making use of their inspirational quality to help give a sense of something serious. I actually found myself liking the film a lot more - which I have to admit, visually, is pretty easy on the eyes. So there you go, not bad in the end.

7/10
I was pretty amazed by La Dolce Vita when I saw it at the beginning of this year. Pretty intrigued to see what a second viewing will bring to light.

And Across the Universe has been on my watchlist for a couple of years now from a number of folks talking about it, here. I TRULY need to see this for the current Countdown BEFORE I make my list.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?


Dead End, 1937

Tensions are rife in a New York slum, as fancy riverside apartments have just gone up literally looking down on the impoverished people living there. Drina (Sylvia Sidney) is part of a labor strike, and is fighting to keep her little brother, Tommy (Billy Halop) from getting in too deep with the local street gang. Drina also has a complicated relationship with childhood crush Dave (Joel McCrea), a man who grew up with her in the slum and is trying to make an honest living of things. Adding to the already simmering tension is the return of locally infamous bad boy and killer, Baby Face Martin (Humphrey Bogart), on the run from the cops.

Well this was a real surprise! The cover on the streaming site made this look like kind of a cheap 30s potboiler drama. Yet the film, adapted from the stage play by Lillian Hellman and directed by William Wyler, is a complex look at the damaging social gaps between the rich and the poor and the cycle of violence and poverty that plagues so many from even a young age.

This is honestly the type of storytelling that I associate more with modern films: several different subplots taking place at the same time, all overlapping and intersecting with each other. Between Dave, Baby Face Martin, and Tommy, ideas about what it means to be a "real man" and to have a code of honor get a real workout.

The film starkly and brutally portrays the violence and desperation of the people living in the slum. Drina is a polite, honest, sweet person, and she several times mentions what it's like being on the picket line, including watching a police officer punch one of the protesting women in the face. The street gang makes a habit of violence, their cynicism about authority making them mostly immune to any correction, aside from a baseline fear of the police and reform school.

Despite the fact that he's a murderer, and a ruthless one at that, Baby Face Martin's story is also tinged with tragedy. When he goes to see his mother, she bitterly and with a stunned, detached air, asks why he couldn't have left her alone to forget him. When he later catches up with a former flame, Francey (Claire Trevor), he finds that she has become a prostitute and is suffering from an STI. He asks why she didn't "wait for me, or starve first." She can only shrug.

Finally, the film has an interesting commentary on the way that the behaviors of the depraved are at once feared and glamorized. Baby Face Martin is, in many ways, treated as a local celebrity. When certain exploits from the slum make the newspaper, the story is filled with romantic (and false) touches. The local boys incredulously read the story, wondering aloud at all of the falsehoods and the lurid picture it paints of their neighborhood.

Significantly, the boys in the local gang are not all that sympathetic. They are rude and violent. They are whiny and sarcastic. In one sequence, they lay a trap for a wealthy boy who lives in the apartment, violently jumping him, beating him, and stealing his things. But they are victims of the aggrandizing of people like Baby Face. With little or no prospects for a successful honest life, the best they can hope for is to be the top of the heap on the street. As Drina and Dave, Sidney and McCrea walk a fine line as the two adults who understand the boys and want to protect them, and yet are frustrated by the violent path that the boys are walking down.

Complex and harrowing, I would highly recommend this one.

Have not seen or heard of this one. It has a slight similarity to Angels With Dirty Faces (1938) with Bogart, James Cagney, Pat O'Brien AND those kids who would have a run of films as The Dead End Kids and then as The Bowery Boys. But this sounds far grittier and with a lot more depth.
On the Watchlist it goes.

And like every review I read of yours and the ones, like this, that become additions. . . THANK YOU. For both the amazing reading and for the amazing recommendations.



I managed to squeeze a couple of movies into my New World grind.

No One Gets Out Alive (2021)

A bland Netflix horror that does the lack of explanations wrong. At least it wasn't particularly woke.

--
House (1977)

Ooookay. I do respect Obayashi for making films his own way. I don't love his style, but I adore the finger he gives to conventionalism. House is an annoyingly peppy film that mostly resembles a cheap children's movie (with some nudity and blood and severed limbs). It gets a bit better along the way, and I can see its influence in later films but it mostly works as a curiosity. Kinda easy to see why it has a cult status, though.
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'Buy me a Gun' (2018)
Dir.:Julio HernŠndez Cordůn


Neat little Mexican film set at an undisclosed time in history. Huck, a small girl has to fend for her and her troubled father in a dystopian Mexican village which has been destroyed by a Mad Max type gang intent on capturing and enslaving all females they can find. It seems to be another cautionary tale type film from South and Central America that have popped up recently (see also Bacurau, Monos, New Order etc)

Despite the obvious low budget, the Director does a really good job of ramping up tension. And although the end is perhaps ambiguous with a little bit of magical realism that seems a touch forced (the viewer can choose hope or bleakness!), it's a pretty good way to spend 80 minutes.

7.3/10




THE LAST DUEL

Ridley Scottís best since Kingdom of Heaven DC. Affleck steals every scene he is in. The best ďme tooĒ film Iíve seen thus far (and I thought VERY highly of the Assistant). This didnít deserve to flop.

Bring on House of Gucci!




I managed to squeeze a couple of movies into my New World grind.

No One Gets Out Alive (2021)

A bland Netflix horror that does the lack of explanations wrong. At least it wasn't particularly woke.

--
House (1977)

Ooookay. I do respect Obayashi for making films his own way. I don't love his style, but I adore the finger he gives to conventionalism. House is an annoyingly peppy film that mostly resembles a cheap children's movie (with some nudity and blood and severed limbs). It gets a bit better along the way, and I can see its influence in later films but it mostly works as a curiosity. Kinda easy to see why it has a cult status, though.
House is awesome!



THE LAST DUEL

Ridley Scottís best since Kingdom of Heaven DC. Affleck steals every scene he is in. The best ďme tooĒ film Iíve seen thus far (and I thought VERY highly of the Assistant). This didnít deserve to flop.

Bring on House of Gucci!

Seriously?
Honestly, I thought it looked like hot garbage but I'm glad to hear it's not.





Looks clunky & old-fashioned now, but, overall, a sweet movie. Maybe the only Lancaster movie Iíve seen & Iím fine with this. Re-watch.
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Iím here only on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. Thatís why Iím here now.



Seriously?
Honestly, I thought it looked like hot garbage but I'm glad to hear it's not.
I too was off put by the trailers and Scottís general inconsistency. In fact, during the first chapter, I was still on the fence. However, the 2nd and 3rd did things that make it such a profound and nuanced conception of rape culture that it makes films like Promising Young Woman look like an angry college freshman wrote it.

This is an intricate examination of perspectives, similar to Rashomon, but it strips away ambiguities for a very deliberate and potent point. I donít think itís a coincidence that the last film that Affleck and Damon wrote was Weinstein joint.

Plus, it has exceptional medieval violence. Scott was operating in The Duelists meets Gladiator level of filmmaking.



The trick is not minding
Iíve been meaning to go and watch the Last Duel, being a fan of Scott.

I wonder how historically accurate it is, considering it was an actual event. I know people will point at it as part of the Metoo movement, but thatís unavoidable, even if it predates the movement by centuries.



Iíve been meaning to go and watch the Last Duel, being a fan of Scott.

I wonder how historically accurate it is, considering it was an actual event. I know people will point at it as part of the Metoo movement, but thatís unavoidable, even if it predates the movement by centuries.
My friend I saw it with has read the book. Itís fairly accurate to the original text but makes a conscious choice to emphasize the voice of the victim, something largely absent from the narrative.

Itís certainly a film that was adapted by these people, in this manner, due to the political climate and Me Too. Choosing to adapt a historical story to comment on current events is hardly a radical or new thing. *gestures emphatically at the Crucible, just standing over there, minding its own business*



The trick is not minding
My friend I saw it with has read the book. Itís fairly accurate to the original text but makes a conscious choice to emphasize the voice of the victim, something largely absent from the narrative.

Itís certainly a film that was adapted by these people, in this manner, due to the political climate and Me Too. Choosing to adapt a historical story to comment on current events is hardly a radical or new thing. *gestures emphatically at the Crucible, just standing over there, minding its own business*
Right, Iím aware that itís nothing new. But while itís adapted for the movement, I doubt most people are aware of its historical basis and will brush it off as just another Metoo woke movie.
Which is a shame, really, if it turns o it as good as I hear, and hope, it is.



Right, Iím aware that itís nothing new. But while itís adapted for the movement, I doubt most people are aware of its historical basis and will brush it off as just another Metoo woke movie.
Which is a shame, really, if it turns o it as good as I hear, and hope, it is.
I think audiences are more likely to not turn out just because itís a 2 1/2 hour period piece drama that deals with a heavy subject rather than any political motivation.*

Itís a shame that itís currently flopping though. Thatís for sure because itís Scottís best in a very, very long time.



I think audiences are more likely to not turn out just because itís a 2 1/2 hour period piece drama that deals with a heavy subject rather than any political motivation.*

Itís a shame that itís currently flopping though. Thatís for sure because itís Scottís best in a very, very long time.
Good enough to make me ignore Damon's mullet?
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The trick is not minding
I think audiences are more likely to not turn out just because itís a 2 1/2 hour period piece drama that deals with a heavy subject rather than any political motivation.*

Itís a shame that itís currently flopping though. Thatís for sure because itís Scottís best in a very, very long time.
Eh, in this case, probably, as most arenít likely to make that connection.
I think the last film of his I absolutely loved was Kingdom of Heaven, which was a good 15 years ago?
I still havenít seen The Martian or All the Money in the World yet