Classic Links


I was sorry to hear of the passing of Italian actress Virna Lisi. Though I don't know her work well, I adore her performance in Anyone Can Play (1968). It was so much fun to see her and her glamorous costars get the opportunity to be goofy--The Guardian

It's always exciting when the National Film Registry puts out a new list of films that will be preserved by the Library of Congress. I'm especially excited to see the musicals The Gang's All Here (1943) and Down Argentine Way (1940) among the chosen this year--The Dissolve

I love Laura Grieve's list of 12 overlooked Christmas movies at ClassicFlix. Lots of interesting picks and a few I'd never heard of--ClassicFlix

Leonard Maltin has written a fantastic review about Leonard Workman's new film about Orson Welles. I was always curious to see it, now I can hardly wait to check it out--Movie Crazy

I'm curious about this new program AMC theaters is testing where you can buy unilmited access to movies for about $35-45 a month. It looks like you could see a movie a day with the plan--Hello Giggles

As legendary director Agnès Varda accepts an award, she makes a plea that more women be recognized in the film industry--The Guardian

This film of art from Criterion Collection releases is an amazing two minutes:




Birthdays

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Ralph Richardson (1902-1983)
Edmund Purdom (1924-2009)

Birthdays

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Lynn Bari (1913-1989)
Betty Grable (1916-1973)
Ossie Davis (1917-2005)
Jules Dassin (1911-2008)
Celia Johnson (1908-1982)

Warner Archive: Young Robert Mitchum in Till The End of Time (1946)


I was drawn to the new Warner Archive release Till the End of Time (1946) almost entirely because it features Robert Mitchum in an early supporting role, a year after his breakout in Story of G.I. Joe (1945). Other than that, I was happy to see Dorothy McGuire in the cast list, but not so excited by the prospect of watching veterans struggling to adjust to life after World War II. It all seemed so depressing. Fortunately I had Mitchum to draw me in, because while this is in many ways a sad film, it is also inspiring and deeply touching.

Star Guy Madison made his screen debut in Since You Went Away (1944), another film that explores war from the home front, but spent the bulk of his career in westerns. Here he is Cliff Harper, one of three veterans who continue their friendship as they adjust to life at home again. Bill Williams is a former boxer who has lost his legs in combat, while Robert Mitchum plays a cowboy with a steel plate in his head. Though not officially a part of this trio, as traumatized war widow Pat Ruscomb, Dorothy McGuire is as lost as these men who have lived to come home.

While Cliff gets plenty of attention from the perky 18-year-old girl next door, he is drawn to Pat's gravity. He is still childish in many ways, but war has also matured him, and the melancholy widow gives him the understanding he needs as he readjusts to civilian life. Eventually, he is able to understand her aimlessness as well.

The film has its share of heat: arguments, frustration and even a wild bar fight, but for the most part it unfolds quietly. It treats its subjects gently, just as the townspeople do their newly-returned soldiers. There's a tenderness to its characters, even when, as with Harper's parents, they are baffled by the veterans' behavior.

While the movie doesn't look for solutions to the problems of returning soldiers, it offers hope. The wounds these men, and those at home, suffer will not completely heal, but time will help. The boxer won't wear his new prosthetic legs because they hurt him, but he throws them on and charges out of the house when he thinks a friend needs him. Mitchum's character lives recklessly, and in pain, but his buddies watch out for him, and you know they're not going to let him destroy himself.

Cliff's problems are more subtle. He struggles to stay employed, and to accept Pat's way of mourning, because the years where he should have been building an understanding of these things were spent at war. He's never in any real peril, his family will always support him, but his struggle is significant, because it shows how no matter the state of the soldier's bodies when they returned home, they all had psychic wounds.

All of the performances are strong. McGuire is especially touching in her role, and Mitchum steals all of his scenes, clearly showing the birth of a star. He seems to have started his film career fully-formed; there's little sign of a novice here.

I hope that this film will get more attention now that it is available on DVD, because it is certainly deserving of classic status and a good, low-key companion to that more legendary return from war drama The Best Years of Our Lives (1946).

Many thanks to Warner Archive for providing a copy of the film for review. This is a Manufacture on Demand (MOD) DVD. To order, visit The Warner Archive Collection.

Birthdays

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Noël Coward (1899-1973)
Max Linder (1883-1925)
Barbara Kent (1906-2011)
Liv Ullmann (76)

Theatrical Review: Comin' At Ya! (1981) in 3D


Comin' At Ya is 3D for the sake of 3D. With guns, snakes, fists, even a bare baby bottom hurtling at you, you are never allowed to forget that. It was the first film in a short-lived 3D revival in the early eighties, and successful enough that its makers explored the format again with Treasure of the Four Crowns in 1983.

When I was offered the opportunity to check out a screening of the new 4K restoration, which had been converted to Real 3D Technology, I was curious, because I realized I'd never seen a 3D film in a theater. It was an interesting introduction to the format, to say the least.

The title has nothing to do with the plot of the movie, and only refers to all the things, flying, flying, flying at you. It's a spaghetti western, complete with sweaty, hideous villains, a strong, soft-spoken hero and an operatic female singing "ooh-oohs" over a dramatic Ennio Morricone-inspired score. The unusually-named Tony Anthony stars as H.H. Hart, a bank robber on the search for his wife and partner in crime Abilene (Pedro Almodóvar regular Victoria Abril in an early role), after her abduction by greasy bandits, who plan to sell her into white slavery.

Hart's attempts to rescue Abilene and dozens of other kidnapped women make up the bulk of the film. which probably would run about 30 minutes without the long drawn out scenes, frequent use of slow motion and, of course, all those things lunging at the screen.

It often was silly, and I did hear a lot of laughs in the theater. However, I was startled by the brutal nature of the film. I have a hard time laughing about attempted rape, women being abused and sold into prostitution, and a man being eaten alive by rats. Watching Abril spend most of her screen time being beaten, dragged behind a horse and attacked by bats was not fun either.

Anthony is good as the hero though, and it's a surprisingly decent western, despite being full of clichés and weirdly-paced dialogue, and a lot more devoted to being a straight genre flick than I expected. It made all of the random 3D moments all the more bizarre. I mean, sometimes they'd come in a barrage: coins, beans, a yo-yo, just all sorts of things popping out at you.

Other times, there'd be an extended shot, as with a death scene where an Indian is impaled with a pitchfork and the wooden handle keeps plunging towards the audience. That moment inspired my seatmate to whisper to me that she hoped there wouldn't be any full frontal male nudity.

That said, I did laugh a lot at this movie, and so did the audience. It's being marketed as a wild experience for stoners, and I think if I'd seen it with that kind of crowd, watching it would have been a lot different. As it was, I was with a mellow group on a Sunday night, and no one seemed baked, fried or even a little drunk.

In fact, while it was a long hour-and-a-half as I saw it, I'd be up for watching it again with a wild crowd. At least now I know what I'm in for.

Many thanks to Sara Huey Publicity & Promotions, LLC for providing tickets to the film.


Quote of the Week



You must cut out feeling abused. If you hang on to all that foolish stuff, it will prevent you from going ahead, from creating. I know, because that’s what happened to me once. But it will never happen again, no matter what.

-Jean Arthur, in 1972

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