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I've Been Going to the...MOOOOvies


bigstickbonzo
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It recently dawned on me that I had never seen any of Ann Sothern's "Maisie" movies. So for the couple of weeks or so, I have been rectifying that hole in my movie viewing.
I started with the first one, 1939's "Maisie", natch. Then proceeded with "Gold Rush Maisie" (1940), "Maisie Was a Lady" (1941), "Maisie Gets Her Man" (1942), "Swing Shift Maisie" (1943), and "Maisie Goes to Reno" (1944). Mary C. McCall, Jr. had a hand in writing most of the scripts, the character of Maisie being based on the 1935 book "Dark Dame" by Wilson Collison.
The films are slight and amusing, not very consequential but perfect for distracting the Depression/World War II-era audiences from the tensions of the day. Ann Sothern fits the role like a glove and I especially enjoy hearing the 1940s patter in these movies. Like the scene in "Gold Rush Maisie" in which a waiter in a diner barks to his cook for a burger with no tears (no onions). Virginia Weidler and Mary Nash from "The Philadelphia Story" are both in "Gold Rush Maisie", which is one reason "Gold Rush Maisie" is one of my favourites of the entire Maisie series of films.
Robert Young, Ruth Hussey, Lew Ayres, Maureen O'Sullivan, Donald Meek, Red Skelton, Allen Jenkins, Leo Gorcey, Donald Meek, John Qualen, and Ava Gardner are some of the recognizable faces that populate the Maisie movies.
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Last night's double-feature. Two unusual "Christmas" movies.

New York City upstages the actors in 1961's "Blast of Silence". Prime 1960s black-and-white New York...Harlem, the Apollo, Rockefeller Center, the Village Gate nightclub...all filmed during Christmas. The narration is by Lionel Stander, who was blacklisted at the time.

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The one and only film directed by Charles Laughton. Sad that he never got another chance. Beautiful cinematography by Stanley Cortez.

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First, I watched the 1961 Robert Wise film in preparation before seeing the Steven Spielberg remake last night.

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Every time I saw George Chakiris in the past year and asked him for his thoughts about Spielberg remaking "West Side Story", he said he had faith in Spielberg as an artist and thought Spielberg would do it justice.
After seeing the new "West Side Story" last night, all I can say is George Chakiris's faith has been rewarded. If it is not quite exactly the 1961 Robert Wise classic film (or the 1957 Broadway original), it is a far sight better than I expected/feared it would be.
I won't give away spoilers, but aside for some modifications for these modern, multicultural times ('Anybodys' is now a trans instead of a tomboyish girl, the fighting is more explicit and less stylized), it is still the same lovely songs and music and choreography that has bewitched generations of theatre-goers since 1957.
I had fears that Spielberg and company would give it the "Rent/Hamilton" treatment. Thank goodness my fears were unfounded, and we get the Los Angeles Philharmonic's very own Gustavo Dudamel conducting Leonard Bernstein's classic score, with some contributions from composer David Newman.
Some of the stagings and choreography are different. "America" has been moved from the rooftop at night to the city streets in the morning. I prefer the 1961 version (with Bernardo's purple shirt and Anita's purple dress!) but at least the dancing is still vibrant and Spielberg films it properly, giving full screen views of the bodies in motion. None of that post-MTV herky-jerky frappé editing that afflicts modern movie musicals. The biggest choreography change is the "Cool" number. "Cool" has also been put back before the rumble, like in the 1957 stage version, instead of after the rumble in the 1961 film version.
Of the cast, the characters Riff, Maria, and Officer Krupke came off best. Bernardo and Anita were good but they just can't compare to George Chakiris and Rita Moreno. Also, for some reason David Alvarez was reminding me of Colin Farrell. But how wonderful to see Rita Moreno as the owner of Doc's Drugstore! I just wish Spielberg could have used George Chakiris in some role.
Alas, Tony was Tony...it just seems to be the plague of "West Side Story" that Tony will always come off as a bland sap. Richard Beymer, all is forgiven.
I missed not having the overture in the beginning and I prefer the opening pan across New York in the 1961 version to Spielberg's pan in the new one.
But these are just nitpicks. What Spielberg's "West Side Story" proves is that when you have a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, songs by Stephen Sondheim, and choreography by Jerome Robbins, you have a musical that is pretty much indestructible. You'd have to be a real schmuck to muck it up.
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"Screwed" can only be tenuously called a 'Christmas movie'. The late Norm MacDonald, a young Dave Chappell, Danny DeVito, Elaine Stritch, Sarah Silverman, Sherman Hemsley. The movie has moments but it's not great. The best part of this screening was hanging out afterwards and hearing the stories told by writers/directors Scott Alexander and Larry Karasweski ("Ed Wood", "Man on the Moon", "The People vs. Larry Flynt", "Dolemite Is My Name"). The best one involved Sherman Hemsley. Apparently, he was a big prog fan and loved nothing more than taking acid and listening to Yes all night. He even asked to leave the shoot for a day so he could go to a Yes concert in Cleveland. I am cracking up picturing George Jefferson tripping balls on LSD and jamming to "Siberian Khatru".

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Tom Cruise and Sean Penn (his first film) were mere babes in the woods at this point. George C. Scott is great, as always.

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Edited by Strider
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9 hours ago, Strider said:

"Screwed" can only be tenuously called a 'Christmas movie'. The late Norm MacDonald, a young Dave Chappell, Danny DeVito, Elaine Stritch, Sarah Silverman, Sherman Hemsley. The movie has moments but it's not great. The best part of this screening was hanging out afterwards and hearing the stories told by writers/directors Scott Alexander and Larry Karasweski ("Ed Wood", "Man on the Moon", "The People vs. Larry Flynt", "Dolemite Is My Name"). The best one involved Sherman Hemsley. Apparently, he was a big prog fan and loved nothing more than taking acid and listening to Yes all night. He even asked to leave the shoot for a day so he could go to a Yes concert in Cleveland. I am cracking up picturing George Jefferson tripping balls on LSD and jamming to "Siberian Khatru".

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Tom Cruise and Sean Penn (his first film) were mere babes in the woods at this point. George C. Scott is great, as always.

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Great, very well done movie. One of my favorites and the performances from such a young cast are truly impressive.

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15 hours ago, cryingbluerain said:

Woke is death to art, which means death at the box office, which means good people get to lol every time these left-wing fascists lose money.

Like Joe Louis, John Nolte pulls no punches. 

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18 minutes ago, BobDobbs said:

HA! I was referring to Taps :hysterical:

Though Danny DeVito would have been awesome in Taps in the George C. Scott role, however the movie would have been a wee bit different as a result.

“You go to the movies, you read books. A military leader is always portrayed as slightly insane" - General Harlan Bache, Taps

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