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Showing results for tags 'Hal B. Wallis'.
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A few years ago, I began a project where I was going through all the 1967 Academy Award nominees, because I feel 1967 was a watershed year in film. I had stopped the project, and the reason is "Barefoot in the Park," an adaption of Neil Simon's 1963 Broadway Play. I've now seen thirteen films that were nominated for various Academy Awards in 1967, and the only one I've seen that's *worse* than this is Dr. Dolittle, which is probably the single worst film ever nominated for Best Picture. At least "Barefoot" only had Mildred Natwick as a nominee for Best Supporting Actress (she didn't win, and she didn't deserve to win - I like Mildred Natwick, but she had nothing to work with here). I suppose I should say that I have a strong dislike for Jane Fonda (as well as her despicably self-centered, immature character in this) and Neil Simon (who is the single most overrated playwright in history that I can think of). It isn't hard to guess how this movie might have been marketed: "A joyously flamboyant romp through a spirited, nascent marriage," but it was none of the above (except for nascent) - it just plain sucked. The movie is dated, trite, not funny, not charming, stupid, contrived, and only saved (actually, *not* saved) by some decent acting (which is its one, sole virtue) - namely Natwick, Redford, and Boyer. If for any reason you decide to do a 1967 retrospective, do yourself a favor, and save "Barefoot in the Park" and "Dr. Dolittle" for *last* in the off chance that you should get run over by a train before you finish. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" is much better than this, and that's saying something because that film was pretty awful as well.
*** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** "True Grit" is a continuance of 'Hollywood Classics which I've never before seen.' It begins with a surprise murder by Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey), then a distressingly *non*-surprising gathering at the Courthouse, where they're going to be hanging three men that day. Why people have always wished to gather to witness others being violently killed is beyond my capability of understanding. And in case you think our species has evolved since the days of the Wild West: Aug 14, 2014 - "20,000 Watched the Last Public Hanging 78 Years Ago" by Mark Murrmann on motherjones.com Hating human beings, but loving cats and dogs, is perfectly justified, don't you think? Hey, I have an idea! Let's all have a get-together, and push our kids on swings while three men await their deaths! Anyway, daughter Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) is understandably furious at the murder of her father, Frank Ross (John Pickard). Mattie is one of the witnesses to the public hanging, and thinks the cold-hearted judge (who "flips the switch") is *just* the man she needs to try the murderer of her daddy, and it's hard to blame her. Interestingly, Kim Darby was 21-years-old when she portrayed 14-year-old Mattie - she really does have a youthful appearance. Mattie reveals to us that she's from Dardenelle, in Yell County, Arkansas, establishing the setting of "True Grit." Frank Ross (Mattie's dad) was killed in Ft. Smith, just west of where the courthouse is, and one of the westernmost places in all of Arkansas. A pretty telling scene occurs when the Sheriff tells Mattie that Tom Chaney is now in "Indian Territory," which is out of his jurisdiction, and only U.S. Marshals can pursue him there. He names three of them for Mattie: the best tracker, the most merciless (Rooster Cogburn, played by John Wayne), and the straightest - Mattie immediately asks the Sheriff where she can find this "Rooster Cogburn" - she's out for vengeance, plain and simple. I'm very curious why Cogburn wears the eye-patch. This seems to have caught on as a generic "tough guy" symbol, and I wonder if this picture had anything to do with it - I suspect some older, pirate-based movie started it before this. Rrrrrrrrrr there any you can think of? Defense attorney Goudy (I didn't name these people) was played by Alfred Ryder, a character actor who was in many television shows, including "The Man Trap" - the first (non-pilot) episode of "Star Trek." (Darby, by the way, had the lead in the "Star Trek" episode "Miri" as the eponymous character - an important role.) In the same scene, there's a man sitting in the very front row of the courtroom, in what can only be described as a "bit part" - non-speaking, uncredited, and only on camera for maybe thirty seconds total. "True Grit," it turns out, was Wilfred Brimley's very first movie, and this is him - I think (but am not sure) that he's the somewhat stocky, somewhat balding man in the beige leather jacket towards the right of the photo: The only reason I even knew he was in here was because Amazon X-Ray listed him - there is *no way* I would have picked this up on my own. Brimley was personal friends with Robert Duvall - who plays Lucky Ned Pepper - and I strongly suspect that's how Brimley got the part - he was born in 1934, so he would have been only 35 when this was filmed. I'm not convinced this man is Brimley, but he's somewhere in the courtroom: When you see this film, concentrate on the initial, extended, one-on-one conversation between Mattie Ross and the Texas Ranger, Mr. La Boeuf (Glen Campbell). This conversation came across as stilted and poorly directed - essentially, an interplay between two inexperienced actors (which they both were) - nevertheless, this one falls on the Director, Henry Hathaway, and he didn't make it work. It didn't ruin the film, of course, but it was simply not a good scene. A very interesting note: I later read, long after I wrote the preceding sentences, in the "Trivia" section of the IMDB website, that Hathaway hated Campbell's performance, calling it "wooden," and only had him in the movie so he could have a hit song associated with it. If this *isn't* the worst scene in the movie, then that worries me. I. Do. Not. Like. Kim Darby in this role. I hope to God she gets better, because I have a feeling this film is going to hinge on her acting abilities. So far, Darby is every bit as "wooden" as Campbell - maybe more so. However, *this* gentleman, Chen Lee (H.W. Gim) knows how to slice bacon! As of right now, I'm 50 minutes into a 2'10" movie, and two of the three leads can't act worth a damn. I know that Duvall is going to show up soon, and so is Dennis Hopper - right now, I'm praying for a miracle, or at least that these two, along with Wayne, can act "louder" than Campbell and Darby - it must be so in order for this to be a good film: fingers, crossed. The film is half over, and we just met two horse thieves: Emmett Quincy (Jeremy Slate) and Moon Dennis Hopper (thank goodness - btw, when is the last time Dennis Hopper has been spotted in a role that involves being very "off?"): Maybe now, we won't have to watch Wayne attempt to carry the entire movie by himself - Wayne was a good actor, but he wasn't good enough to carry a film when he's handicapped with Campbell and and Darby. Well, five minutes later, so much for either Quincy or Moon possibly saving the film. Now, we have to hope for Pepper (Duvall), who will be along shortly. For those of you into biker flicks, Jeremy Slate played the leader of the gang, "The Born Losers," a sub-par but highly influential movie that was the first of the "Billy Jack" enterprise. For those few of you who saw the film, here's a little memory stimulant to help you remember Slate's role, that of gang leader and lead antagonist, Danny Carmody, Billy Jack's (Tom Laughlin's) nemesis and gadfly: With Quincy and Moon gone, and over halfway into "True Grit," I'm painfully reminded that - just as with all the other art forms including the culinary arts, wine, music, and sports - I don't like "movies" per se; I like *good* movies. And so far, this simply isn't one due to the sub-par acting and the plot, which is thus far moving at a snail's pace. Why have I heard so much about "True Grit" throughout my life? I refuse to look until it's over - I'm just going to try and enjoy it, or at least to glean whatever I can from it. The extended, character-developing dialogue that Darby and Cogburn had, about 1:15 into the film, was *so much better* than the dialogue that Darby and La Boeuf had early on, that maybe it was mostly Glen Campbell, and not as much Darby, who was completely devoid of acting talent. I really enjoyed listening to those two talk with each other, and the viewer really learned quite a bit about Cogburn in the process. This is a *very* imposing gang that Pepper has, and that Cogburn, La Boeuf, and Darby are going to have to face by themselves (Duvall is third from the right): The whole, extended attack scene, complete with rattlesnake pit, made up for a *lot* of the film's first half of ennui. It was exciting, dramatic, well-acted by everyone, and just plain fun to watch. In many ways, it might have been an inspiration for "Raiders of the Lost Ark." It is, by far, the high-point of the film, and enough on its own to make the movie arguably worth watching. Yes, it was a long, painful build-up, but it was one heck of an extended piece of suspense - even La Boeuf died a complete hero, winning over the hearts of all viewers. The near-mythical lawyer "Dagget" ended up being played by John Fielder, another famous character actor (who also played in "Star Trek," as Administer Hengst in "Wolf in the Fold.") He, too, deserves his own thread - he has done so much with his career, including being the voice of Piglet in "Winnie the Pooh." Dagget, to a much lesser degree, was to "True Grit" what "Keyser Söze" was to "The Usual Suspects." How do you not at least "like" a film that ends with such a sweet shot?
It's incredible that I'd never before seen "The Maltese Falcon" (it's one of those films where you're not sure if you've seen or not, but I hadn't). Turner Classic Movies has embarked upon a project where they're slowly releasing classic films in dribs and drabs onto the big screen - one, maybe two, a month - and out here in San Francisco right now, "The Maltese Falcon" is playing only four times (two days this week, twice each day). I am *so* glad I saw this on the big screen. I really wasn't expecting all that I got from this film, but I thought it was wonderful. It was Humphrey Bogart's first leading role. It was Sydney Greenstreet's first role period (he was in his 60s, and made his Hollywood debut). It was the first major effort in the film noir genre, and I can't imagine anyone but Humphrey Bogart playing Sam Spade. It was a delightful hour and forty minutes, and I simply cannot compare this with Star Wars: The Force Awakens I saw two days before because I liked this infinitely more. Stepping out of the theater, I felt like I saw a *movie*; not rode a ride designed by computer-effects specialists at Walt Disney. You can call this film noir if you want, but it was also a character study, with virtually no character being portrayed in black-and-white terms. This was the films 75th anniversary, and oh, how Hollywood has fallen backwards in so very many ways. (I'm not saying in *all* ways; when I say "no character being portrayed in black and white terms," I could have also said "no black character portrayed" except maybe a bellhop.) At one point in the film, Humphrey Bogart burned a piece of paper in an ashtray, and we couldn't figure out what it was, or why he was burning it - has anyone seen this film recently? This film is based on Dashiell Hammett's 1929 novel of the same name, and was actually the *third* version of the film released by Hollywood (there was one in 1931, and one in 1936 (*) Bette Davis), but this is reportedly the best of the three by far. (*) To tie this post in with restaurants, I swear to you that the 1936 film, entitled "Satan Met A Lady," featured none other than Arthur Treacher. Yes, *that* Arthur Treacher.