April 1941: That Uncertain Feeling

That Uncertain Feeling. Ernst Lubitsch. 1941.

There’s like… nothing here. The film spins its wheels from the start to the end, and nothing really happens.

It’s plain weird.

But it might just be my lack of concentration? I don’t know. I skipped back a few times because I just didn’t track what (if anything) was happening, and I still don’t know what this film is all about.

I blame alcohol!

I should probably watch this all over again while sober, so take the dice with a grain of salt.

Popular movies in April 1941 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
sc-tt0033533.jpg 2795 7.8 The Devil and Miss Jones
sc-tt0034272.jpg 3024 7.4 That Hamilton Woman
sc-tt0033677.jpg 2577 7.3 The Great Lie
sc-tt0034116.jpg 2394 7.2 Road to Zanzibar
sc-tt0034012.jpg 4785 7.2 Penny Serenade
sc-tt0034273.jpg 542 6.9 That Night in Rio
sc-tt0034415.jpg 1900 6.9 Ziegfeld Girl
sc-tt0033853.jpg 311 6.8 Love on the Dole
sc-tt0034274.jpg 1705 6.8 That Uncertain Feeling
sc-tt0033902.jpg 818 6.6 Men of Boys Town

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

March 1941: Meet John Doe

Meet John Doe. Frank Capra. 1941.

I’ve seen this before!

Unfortunately, this is the Amazon Prime version of this movie, and the video sucks and the audio is very mp3-artifactey. (Everybody is talking from underneath the ocean. Whoosh whoosh.)

NEVER AMAZON PRIME AGAIN (unless I really have to).

This is, of course, a very good movie by Frank Capra. Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper are great, and the conceit of the film is totally original. It’s somewhat amusing that the premise of the film is that newspapers are downsizing because of reasons, which pretty much describes our times.

And the fake news, of course.

And the fascist who tries to co-opt the popular uprising. It’s kinda a movie for 2018.

But I’m not enjoying watching this movie as much as I probably ought to, and I think that’s all down to the lousy Amazon Prime video quality. So my rating is probably way too low.

I liked the speech from that milkman or whatever he was.

Amazon sucks!

Popular movies in March 1941 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
sc-tt0033891.jpg 9569 7.7 Meet John Doe
sc-tt0033317.jpg 724 7.6 Adventures of Captain Marvel
sc-tt0034162.jpg 2372 7.5 The Sea Wolf
sc-tt0033519.jpg 863 7.5 Dead Men Tell
sc-tt0033613.jpg 406 7.0 Flying Wild
sc-tt0033868.jpg 940 7.0 Major Barbara
sc-tt0034303.jpg 1861 7.0 Topper Returns
sc-tt0033616.jpg 654 6.8 Footsteps in the Dark
sc-tt0034199.jpg 263 6.8 Sleepers West
sc-tt0033664.jpg 228 6.7 A Girl, a Guy, and a Gob

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

February 1941: Road Show

Road Show. Hal Roach. 1941.

I love it! It’s one of those screwball comedy things. It’s absolutely insane.

This is another movie from the absurd box set, and the audio/video quality is a lot better than anybody has a reason to expect.

It’s a low budget movie, so I guess it’s a “B movie” of its time, but it’s so inventive and cooky. It doesn’t really make much sense, but if you go along with the antics, it’s something else.

And! It’s got a random musical scene! With a four-man black singing troupe! The Charioteers? It’s positively pinko commie.

(It does bring us back to that eternal question: Is it more racist to make a movie without any black actors, or a movie with some black actors, where at least a couple of them do the totally standard “wide-open eyes and totally a coward’ thing? And watermelon? Not to mention the Native American thing. But is it!?)

No mention of the European Situation, though.

Popular movies in February 1941 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
sc-tt0033804.jpg 15154 8.0 The Lady Eve
sc-tt0034236.jpg 2375 7.4 The Strawberry Blonde
sc-tt0033661.jpg 300 7.2 The Ghost of St. Michael’s
sc-tt0033365.jpg 373 7.0 Back Street
sc-tt0034384.jpg 1729 6.8 Western Union
sc-tt0034297.jpg 1540 6.7 Tobacco Road
sc-tt0033890.jpg 357 6.7 Meet Boston Blackie
sc-tt0033950.jpg 223 6.7 Nice Girl?
sc-tt0033459.jpg 443 6.7 Cheers for Miss Bishop
sc-tt0033342.jpg 332 6.7 Andy Hardy’s Private Secretary

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

January 1941: Come Live With Me

Come Live With Me. Clarence Brown. 1941.

This is another pro-immigration movie, with a refugee from Austria who’s being deported, and the very odd hi-jinx that ensue. (Which include her married boyfriend frittering and his wife (and her boyfriend) and you know.)

It’s obliquely making references to the Situation in Europe.

It’s very risque, and Verree Teasdale’s dialect is so perfectly mid-Atlantic that I would have taken this for a much earlier movie if I didn’t know better. And she’s wonderful.

I had a look at James Stewart’s imdb listing, and it’s empty after this film until 1946. So I thought, wha? They sent as famous people as James Stewart into the military? Not only that, but:

In October 1940, Stewart was drafted into the United States Army but was rejected for failing to meet the weight requirements for his height for new recruits—Stewart was 5 pounds (2.3 kg) under the standard. To get up to 143 pounds (65 kg), he sought out the help of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s muscle man and trainer Don Loomis, who was noted for his ability to help people gain or lose weight in his studio gymnasium.

He got in, became a fly boy, and finally convinced the powers that be that he should do real service and flew a number of raids.

I had no idea.

ANYWAY! You have to admire Hollywood movies like this: They have such clarity of vision. Instead of cluttering things up with extraneous characters and complications, they keep the focus on what matters: The love story, and how to bring the star-crossed lovers together for real, somehow.

Popular movies in January 1941 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
sc-tt0033717.jpg 11859 7.6 High Sierra
sc-tt0033436.jpg 3375 7.3 Buck Privates
sc-tt0033582.jpg 695 7.2 The Face Behind the Mask
sc-tt0032916.jpg 203 7.1 Play Girl
sc-tt0033477.jpg 1270 7.1 Come Live with Me

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

December 1940: Kitty Foyle

Kitty Foyle. Sam Wood. 1940.

I guess you could call this a light-hearted romp… or loathsome misogynistic propaganda.

But that’s only the intro, and then we’re into the main part of the movie, and things get less divisive, I guess, but… I don’t understand these people at all. “My favorite movie of all time” “Another Philadelphia Story” “Probably Ginger Roger’s best film” What are they seeing that I’m not?

I totally see what they’re going for: A serious romantic film about a life-changing dilemma. It’s got Ginger Rogers in the main role. This should be great!

But it’s not. I hate using the b-word, but it’s downright boring. I just have zero interest in the proceedings, and that’s either on me or it’s because this just isn’t a very good film. Or perhaps I just don’t like any of the male leads, but especially the Wyn guy.

I can’t stop imagining what a director like Douglas Sirk could have done with this material. It would have been glorious.

But here Ginger tells whatsisface they can’t get married because of class differences. “Is that all?” “We’re both the same color, if that’s what you mean.”

Zing.

Heh. The DVD includes two animated shorts that both do the “Kitty Foiled” pun:

Popular movies in December 1940 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
sc-tt0032904.jpg 51856 8.0 The Philadelphia Story
sc-tt0032819.jpg 913 7.5 Murder Over New York
sc-tt0032559.jpg 260 7.2 The Green Hornet Strikes Again!
sc-tt0032671.jpg 2379 7.1 Kitty Foyle
sc-tt0034064.jpg 480 7.0 Pride of the Bowery
sc-tt0032536.jpg 4217 6.9 Go West

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

November 1940: Little Nellie Kelly

Little Nellie Kelly. Norman Taurog. 1940.

So Irish. So very Irish.

But this is an odd duck. It takes us through the American immigration process in excruciating detail. Is it meant as a manual for Irish immigrants? It’s based on a Broadway show from 1922… so what was the reason for the movie version in 1940? (And according to this the entire first act (i.e., all the immigration stuff) wasn’t there in the original version.) There’s an enormous number of scenes of American patriotism… so was the point to appeal to the faction who wanted to join in the WWII festivities, or the ones who wanted to stay out of it?

So many questions.

This isn’t a good movie, though.

Popular movies in November 1940 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
sc-tt0032455.jpg 73812 7.8 Fantasia
sc-tt0032701.jpg 8824 7.7 The Letter
sc-tt0032762.jpg 7738 7.6 The Mark of Zorro
sc-tt0032234.jpg 5481 7.3 The Bank Dick
sc-tt0032221.jpg 824 6.9 Arizona
sc-tt0033167.jpg 356 6.7 Tin Pan Alley
sc-tt0032718.jpg 370 6.5 Little Nellie Kelly
sc-tt0032256.jpg 354 6.4 Bitter Sweet
sc-tt0032687.jpg 215 6.3 Lady with Red Hair
sc-tt0032903.jpg 321 6.2 Phantom of Chinatown

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

October 1940: Christmas in July

Christmas in July. Preston Sturges. 1940.

Oh my god. This is one of those spiralling-out-of-control comedies with plenty of room for embarrassment, which I have to watch from behind a pillow. But it’s really good. Such great lines and so likeable characters.

Is this one of those films they show on TV every Xmas? Because it’d be perfect for that. The first time you watch it, it’s really too exciting, but on subsequent viewings you can just revel in the fantasy.

It’s a great little movie.

There’s a couple of references to The War: They decide to not, perhaps, go on holiday to Europe, and the swell cop alternatively calls the capitalist big-wig “Hitler” and “Mussolini”. As he should!

Popular movies in October 1940 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
sc-tt0032553.jpg 146464 8.5 The Great Dictator
sc-tt0033152.jpg 9511 7.6 The Thief of Bagdad
sc-tt0032338.jpg 2474 7.6 Christmas in July
sc-tt0032728.jpg 2953 7.1 The Long Voyage Home
sc-tt0032220.jpg 550 7.0 Arise, My Love
sc-tt0032447.jpg 660 7.0 Escape
sc-tt0032873.jpg 1292 6.9 One Night in the Tropics
sc-tt0032676.jpg 1392 6.8 Knute Rockne All American
sc-tt0033153.jpg 570 6.8 Third Finger, Left Hand
sc-tt0033038.jpg 891 6.8 Seven Sinners

This blog post is part of the Decade series.