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  1. One of the cool things about retro-watching classic Hollywood films are the secondary screens listing the secondary actors and actresses. For example, take "All About Eve" (1950): And I have to give yet-another shout-out to Edith Head, who has won more Academy Awards (8) than any woman in history (Walt Disney has her beat with 22, which could be a difficult number to surpass): : I know two things about "All About Eve" going into the film: 1) It's one of the most famous movies ever made, and 2) I know nothing else about it. That is a *good* combination - I know it has Bette Davis in it (and also Marilyn Monroe from the above screen - if it's even possible, you might not recognize her at first unless you knew she was in the film (*)), and that it won an Academy Award for Best Picture from 1950, but that's about it - if I were writing a review of the film, you'd be getting a *v-e-r-y* pure critique, but I can hardly call what I do "reviews" so much as "calls for discussion" (because I want to enjoy the movie). I'm on the border of doing a separate thread for Gary Merrill - I've seen him in more than enough things where he deserves one: Likewise George Sanders, who not only plays the entitled critic Addison DeWitt in "All About Eve," but also played the scoundrel Jack Favell ten years before in "Rebecca." I've seen so many of these actors over the past month - Hugh Marlowe (who played Lloyd Richards) was an important character in "The Day the Earth Stood Still," released just a year after this was. And can anyone give a better "eat-shit" look than Bette Davis? *** SPOILER ALERT *** We all "know what happens" at the beginning of the film; it's how we get there that's the mystery. Yet, there are hints and clues throughout the movie (Eve (Anne Baxter) getting caught preening in front of the mirror with Margo's (Bette Davis's) gorgeous dress, for example). Interestingly, the one brash person in the world of Margo - Birdie (Thelma Ritter) - is also the one who plays the fool, and I mean the Fool in King Lear: Pay attention to everything she says in the film so you don't need to watch it twice. (*) This is such a great screen shot - remember my comment above about Marilyn Monroe. You can't really see Addison DeWitt (George Sanders), but it captures the essence of the three females *so well* (remember, Monroe wasn't famous yet, and she has a very minor role, but it still represents her in a picture-perfect way): A very interesting thing I noticed about "All About Eve" is the motif in the theme song, which is repeated in numerous places throughout the film - the first five notes are *exactly* the same as the first five notes in that of "Gone with the Wind." Perhaps my favorite exchange of dialogue in the film, between a furious Margo Channing (Davis, the actress) and an equally furious Lloyd Richards (Marlowe, the playwright). An angry screaming match: Richards: "Just when does an actress decide they're her words she's saying, and her thoughts she's expressing?" Channing: "Usually at the point when she has to rewrite and rethink them, to keep the audience from leaving the theater!" Richards: "It's about time the piano realized it has *not* written the concerto!" One thing about Addison DeWitt, the rogue theater critic: He knows what he's doing. Yes, he's corrupt as hell, but he still knows what he's doing, and only someone so full of self-interest would take the time to do the research that he did, all about Eve. If you understand the symbolism of this final scene, I like you, and want you to be a frequent poster in this forum; if you don't, please keep at it, watch as many great movies as you can, read as much as your time permits, and let's discuss things along the way. Likewise, if you understand why this is a genuinely great motion picture, but possibly a touch overrated, please also be a regular contributor (I don't really know why I'm saying these things, because I want everyone to be regular contributors here). "All About Eve" is a must-see for all serious students of film.
  2. Like the 1939 Jimmy Stewart classic, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," Washington, DC residents can revel in the scenery of "The Day the Earth Stood Still," as virtually the entire film takes place inside the city, and you'll see numerous places you recognize, filmed 66-years ago (make sure you don't watch the 2008 remake, which is supposed to be pretty awful). Except it wasn't exactly "Mr. Smith" who came to Washington in this film - not by a long-shot. *** SPOILER ALERT *** A spaceship, circling the earth at 4,000 mph, plops down in the middle of the mall in DC, and out strides Klaatu (Michael Rennie, whom I just saw in episodes 16 and 17 ("Fly Away Home, Parts 1 and 2") on "Route 66" - why Rennie didn't become more famous after playing Klaatu is beyond my comprehension. Klaatu is a tall, debonair, handsome alien, at first dressed in a twinkly spacesuit, and carrying some sort of baton-like instrument which makes all the soldiers panic, and one of them shoots it out of his hand. "It was a gift for your President," Klaatu said - it would have helped him study life on other planets. So, once again, our "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality implants the bullet directly into our own foot. Unfortunately for Earth, after Klaatu is wounded, out comes the tremendously imposing Gort, an 8-foot tall robot with a "death ray" which he can shoot from his eye (sounds odd, but it's quite effective). After destroying the soldiers' guns (but leaving the soldiers unharmed), Gort picks up Klaatu, and carries him back into the ship, before reemerging to stand guard. Gort is made of the same, impregnable material as the spaceship - impervious to every known human weapon - lasers, diamond drills, everything. And now we wait. The President of the U.S.A. wants to meet with Klaatu, but Klaatu doesn't care about America - he wants to address all the leaders on Earth simultaneously. When told that's impossible due to political conditions, he decides to give a harmless show of power in case they don't agree: For exactly 30 minutes, he shuts off all electricity on the planet - all electricity, that is, except for airplanes in flight, hospitals, and other situations that would bring harm to people. This causes worldwide panic. Klaatu decides to integrate among the earth's population, so he sneaks out, looking dapper in a suit, rents a room in a DC house, and makes friends with a little boy, Bobby (Billy Gray who played Bud on "Father Knows Best" - you won't recognize him), taking him out for an entire afternoon of fun. He sees the problems in our culture, and only sees peace and harmony in this child. Klaatu sustains a relatively minor injury, and is immensely worried about Gort going into "automatic protection mode" - he gives Bobby's entrusted mother (Patricia Neal) a three-word order ("Klaatu barada nikto") to stop Gort from hurting anyone, and makes his way back to the ship. He turns towards the leaders of Earth, and gives a long, moral speech - his planet is a member of sort of an "interplanetary United Nations" that has been watching Earth. They didn't worry about the planet's own infighting, i.e., WWII, but now that they're nearing the ability to have space travel, they're worried that they'll take their newfound nuclear capabilities, and cause harm to other planets. He says, in no uncertain terms, that Earth's inhabitants have two choices: 1) Work out their violent tendencies, or 2) Face total destruction. Klaatu then gets back into the ship, after releasing his friend - the boy's mother - gives a friendly nod to Bobby, and takes back off into outer space, and the movie ends, with the Earth obviously left to ponder its ultimate future. "The Day the Earth Stood Still" may not be a "great movie," but it's one of a handful of 1950s science-fiction films worth watching - it's an important and influential film.
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