tilly_stratford: (Fops with canes are teh sex)
Yes, time to confirm it: My newest obsession is definitely John Barrymore in his silent era. Which is a relief, I mean-- I've spent a couple of months just half-heartedly liking things. That's not me at all. Thank God something came along.

I don't want to burn through all his best silent movies in just a few days, so my rule is only one (...ish) every week, with some of his early talkies (I'm ignoring everything after 1934 because yeesh, his alcoholism and mental issues really took their toll) in between.

His silent films are great fun though, even the ones that aren't particularly good. There's a lot of action, and even more romance. I've been infatuated with lots of actors and obviously I always enjoy when they get a love scene, but Barrymore love scenes really are next level stuff; Hands trembling, chest heaving, eyelashes fluttering... If you're really lucky it's all shot in profile, like in When a Man Loves (I've never seen an actor shot as much in profile as Barrymore):


Congratulations, you've just seen Drew Barrymore's grandparents making out (they married the next year). Share my shame.

When a Man Loves, incidentally, is a ridiculous, melodramatic film (he plays a priest, but can suddenly fence like a champ in the last reel) and I wouldn't recommend it to anybody, but it sure has a lot of sweet scenes.

*This is the first time I've had to fix the image quality of a film before I could gif it. Usually I gif a video file exactly as-is, but my copy of this film is kinda blurry and glitchy. That said, giffing silent films, turns out, is a cinch compared to seventies' BBC video transfer.
tilly_stratford: (Astaire: Wry smile)
There are certain actors I try to avoid seeing in colour. Sure it's fine for novelty's sake (I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that Ginger Rogers' ostrich feather gown in Top Hat was actually very very blue), but for the duration of an entire movie it can be really distracting to me.

To be honest, I think my distaste comes from the fact that the sort of actors and actresses I think were beautiful and handsome and yummy during the thirties and forties were getting on in years by the time colour film were becoming the big thing. Not even tons of makeup could disguise drooping jowls and wrinkles from early Technicolor, boy was that an unforgiving medium. (To me, Georges Guètary looks at least ten years older in An American in Paris than he does in some his later French movies).

I've been thinking about this because yesterday I saw Fred Astaire in Technicolor, and the routine was so good it's probably the first time I've been able to forget that I'm watching Fred Astaire in Technicolor.

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(Too bad this video flattens the colours further - I think I like Lucille Bremer in this scene mostly because her bright red hair reminds me of Moira Shearer).

Trust me to love any storyline involving elegant thieves. And maybe it was due to how for the most part Ziegfield Follies (1945) is a bore up until this sequence, but that step and turn he does at 06:08 had me gasping audibly. I'd forgotten how much I absolutely adore Astaire. Later on in the movie he dances with Gene Kelly you know, in their only real teamup ever - which in turn reminded me how much I love Kelly (who sure fills out that suit in a way Astaire never could, mmmm those legs).
tilly_stratford: (Astaire: Wry smile)
I know I'd sworn off Capra movies, but then I read some line from Platinum Blonde (1931) that made me laugh, and decided to give it a go. I'm glad I did!

Not only did it make me realize that yes, Jean Harlow definitely earned her status as a Sex Symbol (which certainly doesn't come across in plain pictures, but wow, watching her on screen is spellbinding), but it also made me fall completely in love with the male lead, Robert Williams.

I mean, that easygoing Clark Gable-type charm! That witty delivery! His obvious chemistry with Harlow! Those eyes! I thought, "Why hasn't anybody told me about Robert Williams! He should be up there alongside Spencer Tracy and Jimmy Cagney and James Stewart! I need to see his entire filmography ASAP!"

See, funny thing about Robert Williams... Turns out, Platinum Blonde was his first big role. Also, he died three days after it premiered, of appendicitis.

Ahhhhh darn. At least I appreciate that I'm not alone in thinking he'd really been considered one of the great actors of the 1930s had he lived.
tilly_stratford: (Holmes: Curious collection)
The Son of Frankenstein was different than I'd anticipated, not going for the same sympathetic approach the previous movie did, but it was still a delightful straight-up horror movie. I got a kick out of the lampshade hanging about how the majority of people seem to think Frankenstein is the name of the monster, that got a titter out of me.

Aaah Basil Rathbone, supreme moustache wearer of my heart. I was half expecting him to just do a carbon copy performance of Colin Clive's role, but I was delighted to see him bringing his own very English, jittery (and gloriously camp) approach to the movie. He was a delight to watch.

And oh, I wound up loving Ygor in spite of everything, but that's definitely Bela Lugosi's charisma affecting me and not the script. Put Karloff, Rathbone and Lugosi in a scene together and Lugosi's sure to steal the scene every time. Wonderful.
tilly_stratford: (Astaire: Wry smile)
I was at the library, picking movies to tide me through the weekend when I read the cover of the Kurosawa movie The Scandal and had to snicker. It began something like (in Norwegian): "The handsome and smooth Toshirô Mifune plays Ichiro, an artist who [...]"

Ignoring how weird it for a professional movie synopsis to immediately start telling me how attractive the main actor is before even mentioning the plot (or bringing up the physical appearance of the actors, period), what's up with the ambiguous wording, "smooth" (glatt) there? In Norwegian I take it to mean one of two things, either smooth as in hairless/smooth-faced (because I guess Mifune usually had some chin fuzz going in most of his samurai movies, or maybe it's to bring attention to how young he was at the time?) or the more negative glætt, i.e. someone who thinks they're charming but comes across more as insufferable or obnoxious.

Well, it didn't intrigue me enough to actually get The Scandal anyway, at least not today. Actually I tried to watch another early Kurosawa/Mifune movie last week, Nora Inu, but it's officially the first Kurosawa movie I couldn't get through. Between this and Hakuchi (The Idiot) I'm starting to think that contemporary-set Kurosawa movies just aren't for me.

So no Japanese cinema for me this weekend, though I've got both Korean and French movies in addition to the usual British and American ones.
tilly_stratford: (Bogie)
Ah man, why have I kept putting off watching Sanjuro? That was kind of awesome! Definitely more my kind of thing than Yojimbo.

Well for one, Sanjuro takes itself a lot less seriously than Yojimbo. I have definitely never laughed out loud this much during a Kurosawa movie before! Sanjuro himself is as invincible and untouchable as before, taking some of the excitement out of the story, but he's slightly more human - even though this might be one of the more stylized Kurosawa movies I've seen in terms of characterization. The movie have the purity of a fable about it; The story of an eccentric ronin, nine naïve warriors, two dotty ladies, a cuddly hostage in a closet, and an army of bad guys.

I realized this movie was quicker to engage me than other Kurosawa films too. At the beginning, when Sanjuro tells the crying servant girl she should go back to the hostage situation she has just managed to escape from, and she sets her face in determination and goes back, I got so mad because Jesus, way to send a girl to her potential doom to save your own skin. But then Sanjuro mutters, "There goes a true samurai." and my heart nearly couldn't take that amount of awesome. Aaah that might be my new favourite Kurosawa moment.

And halfway through the movie I thought to myself, "Hey! For once I'm going to be able to write about a Kurosawa movie without going on a tangent about how Toshirô Mifune's good looks shakes me to the very core of my womanly nature! I mean, come on, he's still an awesome actor at this point but physically he's past his prime..." and then - BAM!

tilly_stratford: (Kaizer: Humping Terje)
I've done all my little "unwind when you can't sleep" routines; I've played Tetris, I've sketched, I've made Lupin GIFs... Actually I really feel like playing more Assassin's Creed, but I know that'd only make me forget to go to sleep at all.

So whatever, random fannish thoughts help keep those "everything sucks and what are you doing with your life anyway" thoughts at bay:

Let's see; Assassin's Creed, Lupin, Scarface, Le Samouraï, and samurais )

Okay, so what if I just do my "going to bed" routine all over again? Make a cup of tea, watch an episode of Pink Jacket, cuddle the cat. Maybe my body didn't notice the first time.
tilly_stratford: (ST: Relevant to my interests)
I was actually trying to locate some Cole Porter lyrics when I stumbled over an article about "cross-vocals" - when male singers perform songs written for female singers, or vise versa, without changing the pronouns. Apparently it was quite usual back in the day; In the twenties/thirties music publishers had such a hold on the rights to their tunes singers weren't allowed to change a single word.

Among the examples listed was a 1928 Bing Crosby rendition of a song called 'There Ain't No Sweet Man That's Worth The Salt of My Tears'. "Huh, I need to listen to this," I thought.


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Setting aside that Bing Crosby sings about those sweet sweet men for a moment, that song is absolutely wonderful. Let me count the ways:

- Twenty-five year old Bing Crosby (coming in at 1:17), who I love at any age but in his youth he had such a wonderful purity to his voice. Listen to him hit those high notes! Goosebumps!
- And twenty-five year old Bing Crosby of course means the rest of The Rhythm Boys, a.k.a. the best boyband in history! And when there's The Rhythm Boys, you know there's scat singing, awww yeah!
- Completely badass tympani solo at 2:30, immediately followed by Bix Beiderbecke, okay, playing a clarinet solo that's also of the "so good I could cry" variety. Take this however you will, but Bix is the only clarinet player I've ever bothered with memorizing the name of. Jazzgasm.

Excuse me, I'm going to listen to the Paul Whiteman Orchestra for the rest of my life now.
tilly_stratford: (Fops with canes are teh sex)
The Nostalgia Chick did a video on Les Miserables the musical this week, and that's how I learned that there was a 25th anniversary concert made a couple of years ago.

This might not be common knowledge, but back in the nineties my video of the 10th anniversary concert was my most prized possession. I watched it until the video tape wore out and then later the DVD became my most prized possession. I've been obsessed with the book too, but that's for another entry.

But you can understand my interest was peaked when I learned there had been another anniversary concert.

aaaaaah Les Mis )

There, outpouring and nostalgia done.
tilly_stratford: (Bogie)
Wow, I'd heard A Fistful of Dollars was based off of Yojimbo, but I had no idea how closely it followed the plot! Between this and Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven I'm starting to really see the ingenuity of transposing Japanese Jidaigeki cinema (I learned this term today, neat) and Westerns. There's obviously something good that crosses over there considering I love all of those movies.

- Weeell I consider A Fistful of Dollars the weakest of the Man With No Name trilogy... Actually in both that and Yojimbo I didn't get invested before our brave hero got captured. Finally a handicap, much more interesting.

Speaking of badass heroes, at risk of repeating myself:

Ooh Mifune ooh. I feel a distinct need to fan myself every time he appears on screen.

Not that he's got a lot to work with in Yojimbo. While badass movie characters are fun to watch once in a while, they're sort of one-note. Toshirô Mifune is so much more captivating onscreen when he's playing crooks and war heroes and cowards and... What would you call Kikuchiyo from Seven Samurai? Adorable asshole?

So what Kurosawa movie next? You'd think I'd want to watch Yojimbo's sequel, Sanjuro, but I think I'll let that wait. I thoroughly enjoyed Ran as King-Lear-in-Feudal-Japan, and only today I learned that Kurosawa also made Macbeth(my favourite Shakespeare play ever!)-in-Feudal-Japan! With Mifune in the lead! So yeah, I think Throne of Blood is my next venture, oh boy oh boy oh boy.
tilly_stratford: (Buster: kiss)
Don't be fooled: Although I was taught French for three years when I was a teenager*, about 90 % of my French vocabulary stems from the fact that I find cheesy French crooners from the fifties and sixties irresistible (though not Maurice Chevalier for some reason. Possibly because I remember hearing him sing 'Thank Heaven for little girls' when I was one myself and was severely creeped out). The smugger and more theatrical the better.

Today I discovered this:

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Puddle. I am reduced to a puddle. I too want to do awkward not-quite-touching Eskimo kisses with tiny Charles Aznavour! I too want Georges Guétary (who's admittedly looking a little pudgy and worse for wear there) to rub his face against mine in a somewhat creepy way.

The worst thing is, I wish I was kidding. Ooh, très attrayants.

*The wording of this sentence was a bit tricky. "I took French" and "I did French" sounded so terribly dirty all of a sudden.
tilly_stratford: (Astaire: Wry smile)
It's Frank Capra month down at the film club. I'm not a big fan of Capra - I just can't buy into that sentimental retreading of "humble everyman teaches the fatcats/girl/himself what life is all about how great it is to be a Caucasian American male, and in the final scene everybody hugs with tears in their eyes" (I realize Arsenic and Old Lace deviates from this formula, but it has drunk Peter Lorre and is therefore great so shush).

Having been promised plenty of James Stewart and Claude Rains I went to see Mr. Smith Goes to Washington yesterday. And do you know, after three years of going to the film club regularly this is the first time I've been completely alone in the movie theatre! Just me, Stewart, Rains and Jean Arthur. You'll be surprised to hear I did behave myself in spite of being all alone - I didn't lick the canvas or anything (though there were times when I was sorely tried - oh gosh bb Stewart with the world's narrowest hips and hair always falling into his eyes, nnngh).

Well, apart from the chest-thumping patriotism (which is excused, you know, having been made in the thirties and all) and the most abrupt ending I think I've ever seen in a mainstream movie, it was very enjoyable! Stewart was appealing and naïve, Arthur was a capable and interesting gal, Claude Rains was something as rare as a relatable villain - quite possibly the best role I've seen him in.

But what really pleasantly surprised me was the scene where James Stewart sits down on his packed suitcase in the Lincoln Memorial and starts to cry.

Imagine that: A Hollywood movie (I'd say "a thirties' Hollywood movie" but it's rare even today) in which the male hero cries - and not for any of the Accepted Conventional Reasons for Manly Crying (which usually involves the love interest being killed and roaring "NOOOOO" at the skies), but just because he's sad and frustrated - and yet it isn't portrayed as something effeminate or cowardly.

Okay so point goes to you Mister Capra.
tilly_stratford: (Bogie)
You know how I am with Peter Lorre. You know I'm the same way with Conrad Veidt. Not to mention Humphrey Bogart. Lucky for me, they're all in Casablanca. Today I happened to discovered that they all starred in a movie called All Through the Night the year before, and it turned out to be easy enough to pirate get hold of.

And God knows I've seen all kinds of Bogie movies, but this is the first time I've seen one that is sort of laughably bad. Oh God.

It's a movie that wants to be a film noir, a gangster flick, and a chest-pounding "America fuck yeah" soapbox movie at the same time. But most of all it wants to be a comedy. Bad puns abound, our heroes trip over their own feet and take so long to figure out completely obvious plot points you wonder if all that excessive smoking has damaged their brains.

I don't think any other scene is as indicative of the stupidity of this movie as when Bogie, as the most milquetoast gangster boss ever, have infiltrated a Nazi meeting under the guise of being a German scientist, is called upon to give a report. After a lot of um-ing and aah-ing he goes up on the podium and delivers a torrent of silly fake German, ending each point with such a rousing "Sieg Heil" the Nazis in the room apparently forget that they're Germans. Oy. (Their plan to take over America, by the way? Use a small motorboat to blow up a slightly bigger boat. This will apparently drive America to its knees. Deutschland über alles!)

Also there's actually very little shooting.

Though then again it's pretty charming to have Warner Bros. gangsters as the good guys for once (though sadly there's not a tommy gun in sight) - and Conrad Veidt (who of course plays a coldly efficient Nazi - in American movies I think he only ever played Nazis and Arabs) carries around a Dachshund called Hansel at all times; And he (Veidt, not Hansel) and Lorre speak copious amounts of German together. I love hearing Lorre speak German. (As a side note, I think by now I've seen Lorre play every kind of European except Hungarian).

Also I'm still not sure what exactly it is that is supposed to go on "All Through the Night". I suspect it might be the telling of horrible puns. ("Say, there's more here than meets the FBI!")
tilly_stratford: (Astaire: Wry smile)
Yes! Success! Triumph!

For years I've been wanting to see the Leslie Howard/Bette Davis/Olivia de Havilland vehicle It's Love I'm After and tonight I finally got to see it!

What an extraordinary movie. For one it's a screwball comedy, and it's so odd to see Leslie Howard playing farce - and one with such noticeable ties to both his career and private life (he plays a dashing romantic actor who can't keep it in his pants. Wow.) It's a joy seeing him in such a caddish role though; Between this and The Scarlet Pimpernel I've discovered I really prefer his more flamboyant parts.

God, I thought I finally was over him. Those propaganda war movies had me thinking I could just appreciate him as an actor and an attractive (balding, lean, crooked-toothed) man, but oh, he kisses Davis, he kisses de Havilland, and I'm sighing audibly every time.

But wait, let's talk about the bits of the movie that completely blew my mind: The sex. The implied sexuality in a movie from 1937! Not only the recurring gay jokes about Howard's character and his valet, but what about that scene where Howard tries to scare de Havilland by implying he means to rape her, and it's all that he can do to stop her from tearing off his clothes. That's Olivia de Havilland we're talking about here, and she's playing a character who's not pure as the driven snow? How on earth did this movie pass the censors?

Hang on toots, you get to marry him in Gone with the Wind.

I think I might love this movie.

Manly day

Jan. 6th, 2011 09:29 pm
tilly_stratford: (Bogie)
Talked my sister Tiny (and her fiancé, but he didn't need to be talked into it) to watch The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on the pretext that I should show her that Clint Eastwood was a yummy yummy man once upon a time. And compare Blondie with Wolverine, because we do things like that.

And Tiny being Tiny, as the Mexican standoff in the cemetery was about to commence, indicated Blondie and Angel Eyes and asked "What are they doing, some kind of mating dance?"

As for me, this is the second time I watch this movie and just like the first time, every time somebody refers to Angel Eyes by name I get the most intense urge to burst into a rousing rendition of this song. Now I'm going to have it stuck in my brain for ages instead.

And before I forget; Yeah, it really doesn't look like I'm heading home to Bergen tomorrow. I think Monday is the new plan.
tilly_stratford: (Fops with canes are teh sex)
You know, there are several similarities between this bout of influenza-with-added-infections-no-extra-charge and that time I had mono: Like being long-term ill, lying in my mum's living room all day, too little sleep and salivating over Greg Wise in period costume.

Greg Wise in period costume obviously being the best part.

I can thank my bout of mono for introducing me to the Hornblower series (and by extension Greg Wise with a French accent in nineteenth Century uniform), which was running as daytime television at the time, while I've now had the time to watch Return to Cranford (which also features something like six of my favourite actors).

Ooh that Greg Wise. I've never seen you in jeans and I hope I never will.

Speaking of Return to Cranford, I think it's time to come out of the closet and admit that my favourite female actress of all time isn't any of the classic Hollywood leading ladies, it isn't one of those current sexy babes running around with guns akimbo, it. is. Dame Judi Dench. Goddamnit how I love Judi Dench.
tilly_stratford: (Bogie)
I wonder if it makes me a cinetast wannabe if I admit I get through the slower parts of Akira Kurosawa-movies by gratefully ogling Toshirô Mifune?

Don't get me wrong, based on the Kurosawa epics I've seen so far I think they're absolutely dead brilliant (I particularly love how I hardly ever notice the soundtrack before midway through a dramatic scene), but Mifune is just SO. MANLY. He really appeals to that girly part of me I only notice once in a blue moon and that really responds to that muscles-and-beard stuff.


How apropos of Japanese cinema; I'm making onigiri tonight. You know me, I can't stand cooking anything more complicated than "throw it in a pot and heat it", but I first tried making them two weeks ago when I was desperate for a refuge from all the studying and they weren't too bad.

I couldn't get the salt right last time, so tonight I'm making them by hand, the proper way. And instead of the traditional pickled plums or salted salmon (now there's some alliteration for you!), I found smoked sausage (bam!) works a treat as filling.

ETA: Well screw that, shaping them by hand is about as easy as skinning a flea. I'll just stick to my shrink wrap then. At least I got them nice and salty this time.
tilly_stratford: (Fred and Cyd: Don't mind you watching)
I finally got my hands on one of those British WWII propaganda movies starring Leslie Howard I've been meaning to see - Pimpernel Smith (a.k.a. Mister V) from 1941. I think these kind of movies are very interesting relics of their time - the gallant Englishman shames the Nazis with his bravery and intellect, and in the closing scene the music swells and with a steely glare he tells the cowardly gestapo how sooner or later, their regime of hate and terror will fail - before he slips into the night.

And yes, it's particularly chilling coming from Leslie Howard. While watching it's hard to forget that just a few years later the Nazis did get him.

Well, Pimpernel Smith is charmingly overindulgent in any case. I actually wound up watching it over the course of three nights because man, that is one slow movie. But the story of a brave archaeologist fighting Nazis does kind of sound familiar, doesn't it?

And sweet Jesus, I'd forgotten what a stunningly beautiful man Howard was.

tilly_stratford: (Buster: kiss)
Again back from the film club, and after watching The Tales of Hoffmann (1951) I've come to realize a couple of things:

You know that creepy guy who was the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? That was Robert Helpmann, a celebrated Australian ballet dancer! Also he was kinda hot. And Wikipedia tells me his obituary in The Times described him as "a homosexual of the proselytizing kind" which I find all kinds of hardcore. And a little humorous.

Second, that this haunting song right here:

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- is, in fact, from The Tales of Hoffmann. I've loved it for years, and I had no idea. (And oh my God, it's the music from the Evergood coffee commercials! I had 'Barcarolle' on CD, and just now I realized it's used in those commercials!)


tilly_stratford: (Default)

March 2015



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