March 1946: Strange Impersonation

Well, this is a strange little movie. Barely an hour long and filmed on cheap (but nice (with the least convincing lab set ever in the history of ever)) sound stages, but it seems to have some ambition.

It’s a B movie film noir/mystery thing, and is kinda unusual in that all the characters that do something are all women, leaving the menfolk mostly just to react (and not understand what’s going on).

It’s pretty good. Director Anthony Mann would go on to greater fame later…

Strange Impersonation. Anthony Mann. 1946.

Popular movies in March 1946 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
1721 7.8 To Each His Own
675 7.1 The Captive Heart
304 7.0 Two Years Before the Mast
292 6.8 Sentimental Journey
780 6.8 The Kid from Brooklyn
380 6.8 Night Editor
316 6.6 From This Day Forward
442 6.5 Strange Impersonation
478 6.3 House of Horrors
247 5.3 Swing Parade of 1946

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

February 1946: Breakfast in Hollywood

Perhaps I should have limited the number of movies from the 50 movie box set of (presumably public-domain) small-studio musical comedies for this blog series, but some of them have been unexpected gems. The vast majority are just vaudeville skits with some dialogue to fill in the gaps.

Just like the previous movie, this is about a variety/comedy/audience participation game show radio show. Must have been a craze around the time?

This is kinda amusing, but it’s basically a filmed version of the radio show.

The plot-ey bits turn rather abusive: It’s about a guy meeting a girl who doesn’t want to meet him, really, and via the usual complications the radio show host ends up having her arrested when she’s escaping Hollywood. It all ends happily with all the right people hooking up.

That bit’s kinda creepy.

Breakfast in Hollywood. Harold D. Schuster. 1946.

Popular movies in February 1946 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
21302 7.8 Gilda
6983 7.5 The Spiral Staircase
974 7.4 Little Giant
4027 7.0 Terror by Night
1204 6.8 Deadline at Dawn
926 6.7 The Diary of a Chambermaid
345 6.6 Behind Green Lights
337 5.8 The Bandit of Sherwood Forest
283 4.9 The Flying Serpent

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

January 1946: People are Funny

Of all the B-movies I’ve seen during this blog series, this is the one of them. As usual, it’s a series of vaudeville bits with some plots in between.

The plot here is slightly more substantial (if that’s the word) than usual. I think. It was awfully confusing, but perhaps that’s because I’ve got a cold.

People are Funny. Sam White. 1946.

Popular movies in January 1946 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
1789 7.5 Tomorrow Is Forever
2630 7.1 The Harvey Girls
900 7.1 My Reputation
241 7.0 Live Wires
1104 7.0 Three Strangers
261 7.0 A Letter for Evie
1867 6.9 Tarzan and the Leopard Woman
357 6.5 Strangler of the Swamp
566 6.4 Abilene Town
1637 6.3 Shock

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

December 1945: Doll Face

I knew they had short ties back in the 40s, but…

This is a B movie from that box set where all the other B movies I’ve been watching. And as usual, it’s set in a vaudeville theatre, so that the movie makers can just film a bunch of stage actors and then pretend that there’s a plot between the bits.

This has a more substantial scripts than most of these movies….

It’s not a particularly inspiring movie. I can’t even work up enough enthusiasm to dis this thing.

It’s just meh.

Doll Face. Lewis Seiler. 1945.

Popular movies in December 1945 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
10378 7.9 Scarlet Street
8223 7.7 Leave Her to Heaven
511 7.5 The Red Dragon
5682 7.4 The Bells of St. Mary’s
2765 7.3 A Walk in the Sun
6031 7.3 They Were Expendable
1337 6.7 Cornered
216 6.6 Pink String and Sealing Wax
392 6.5 The Stork Club
1917 6.4 Caesar and Cleopatra

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

November 1945: The Lost Weekend

Oh, Billy Wilder. I wasn’t quite aware that he had done a film noir, I think? I’ve seen all his 50s/60s comedies…

This movie won all the Oscars, and confirms most of my prejudices against those movies. It’s about a tedious alcoholic doing tedious alcoholic things, but very dramatically.

So much drama.

It’s not that Ray Milland is bad at being a drug fiend, shooting up marijuana into his eyeballs, er I mean, hitting the sauce hard, but…

It’s Oscar bait in all the worst ways.

As boring as listening to a real-life drunk.

I like the guy playing the bartender.

Heh heh:

Once The Lost Weekend was completed, it was shown to a preview audience, who laughed at what they considered Milland’s overwrought performance, and the studio actually considered shelving the film. Part of the problem was that the print shown at the preview didn’t have Miklós Rózsa’s original musical soundtrack, but instead had a temporary track containing upbeat jazz music.

I can just picture it. Yakety Sax playing while Milland is sweatily crawling on the floor looking for a bottle of booze.

That sounds like a better movie than this is.

The Lost Weekend. Billy Wilder. 1945.

Popular movies in November 1945 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
27366 8.1 Brief Encounter
26215 8.0 The Lost Weekend
6174 7.7 ‘I Know Where I’m Going!’
2677 7.6 Road to Utopia
10343 7.4 Detour
3286 7.2 Fallen Angel
1235 7.1 My Name Is Julia Ross
1104 7.0 The Seventh Veil
310 6.9 Allotment Wives
477 6.8 Danger Signal

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

October 1945: And Then There Were None

Oh, this is the Agatha Christie thing! I’ve seen a bunch of versions and read the book etc, but I don’t think I’ve seen this version before. And I’ve forgotten who the murderer is. How delightful.

At first I thought that they had embellished the novel greatly (as they usually did back in the days; all the script writers seemed to think they were more clever than Christie (spoiler: they weren’t)), but I think that’s wrong? This movie seems the most genuinely Christie-like movie of the early ones I’ve seen, although René Clair has added some comedy bits. I think.

This bluray restoration is… OK? I mean, they’ve preserved every last bit of grain from the film? Perhaps overdoing it? But there’s an annoying flickering effect: It’s like there’s a very very regular dimming thing going on: It’s like it cycles between dark and light four times per second. It’s not horrible, but it’s something that should have been fixed.

This is a very enjoyable watch. So many genteel murders.

And Then There Were None. René Clair. 1945.

Popular movies in October 1945 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
34220 7.6 Spellbound
9637 7.6 And Then There Were None
533 7.2 Kitty
2515 7.2 Pursuit to Algiers
744 7.1 Perfect Strangers
1873 7.0 Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in Hollywood
284 6.9 Strange Confession
741 6.7 Week-End at the Waldorf
544 6.5 The Dolly Sisters
1139 6.4 The Spanish Main

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

September 1945: Mildred Pierce

Surely I’ve seen this Joan Crawfordaganza before, but it really doesn’t seem very familiar…

This is the Criterion-restored DVD version. It’s good, but it doesn’t look as brilliant as their best restorations do. The blacks never go down to full blackness, so everything is a bit washed out… but perhaps that’s what the director was going for.

And speaking of directing: This film is one awesome film noir show after another. It’s really quite astounding. Everything underlines the tension and the mystery; everybody’s smoking all the time; all the guys crack wise and all the gals are gorgeous.

It’s noirer than noir. Well, at least the framing section is: The main part of the movie is a flashback to brighter times, and the cinematography changes radically.

There’s no menzion of ze var except for one guy saying that “nylons are out for the duration”, which I assume is about stocking shortages…

I guess it’d be extremely easy to make a parody of this movie, because it’s so over the top and bits of the storyline are so… well… clichéd. Like the very-much telegraphed sex/death thing. But the melodrama really is gripping.

I think it sags when we get into the Vedaness of the plot and it kinda spins off into boredom.

Mildred Pierce. Michael Curtiz. 1945.

Popular movies in September 1945 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
16604 8.0 Mildred Pierce
337 8.0 Come Out Fighting
8183 7.7 Dead of Night
1272 7.6 Our Vines Have Tender Grapes
2170 6.8 The House on 92nd Street
3040 6.6 Isle of the Dead

This blog post is part of the Decade series.