Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day #21,531

Walk km 6147-6153: Robson/Denman/sea walk(north)/Waterfront/Howe/Cordova/Water/Powell/Columbia/Pender

Movie #1496 (#281 this year): Blindman (Ferdinando Baldi, 1971)

This is better. I was looking through the HMV store and checked out this cheapy compilation of 10 spaghetti westerns for $10. Then I noticed that some of them were "widescreen". Yes! You see, you can buy the cheap movies from Mill Creek but they cut the ends off all the widescreen movies rendering them unwatchable. Finally, someone is issuing these garbage movies in the format that they were shot in.
And then there's the bonus of Blindman: Ringo Starr's dramatic acting debut. Mr Baldi has added a few nice touches here and there but it's still tough to keep your attention focused through 83 minutes of fake-Leone and fake-Morricone.
Update: IMDB says that this movie is 105 minutes - 22 missing minutes from this print.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day #21,530

Walk 6142-6145(15,385 to go): to the library
Walk 6145-6147(15,383 to go): to Denman @ Davie

Movie #1494 (#279 this year): Lady In The Death House(1944, Steve Sekely)

Marcia Mae Jones (the sister of The Lady In The Death House)

Once again, it's PRC time. This is a whodunit but it's a rather dark and solemn one so I'm willing to overlook that.
Jean Parker is on death row and Lionel Atwill is the detective. Both do a fine job - at least in comparison to some of the other cast members who appear to be thespianly challenged. Another fellow with an important role is Douglas Fowley and you can definitely see the resemblance between him and his famous son Kim.

Movie #1495 (#280 this year): Waterfront(1944, Steve Sekely)

We're back at PRC for the second half of our Steve Sekely double feature. This time it's Nazis in San Francisco. Story is a lot of hooey but it does give John Carradine and J Carrol Naish plenty of opportunities to ham it up as Nazi bad guys.
Again, Sekely seems to know his way around a movie set. That could be because he was really István Székely and he had a long career of directing films under that name in Hungary before he came to Hollywood.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day #21,529

Walk km 6135-6142: 21st/22nd/Valdez/23rd/E Blvd/Arbutus

back end of a Corvette
aprox km 6138 23rd Ave.

Movie #1493 (#278 this year): Buongiorno Notte(2003, Marco Bellocchio)

Fictionalized account (since nobody knows what really happened) of the kidnapping and murder of Aldo Moro.
The kidnappers are portrayed as idiots who believe that the proletariat will rise up to support them. They are dismayed to find that the masses hate them. Two of the four kidnappers begin to realize that they've been duped and various scenarios are played out where Moro is killed and Moro is freed.
Quite interesting. Kept my attention throughout.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day #21,528

Walk km 6130-6135: Burrard/Georgia/Main/Terminal/sea walk/Carrall

Book #347 (#45 this year): Saved From Oblivion(2000, Bernard Vorhaus)

I think it was 1972 or 1973 when I purchased an LP by a band called "White Noise" in a second hand record shop on Main Street in Winnipeg. Fast forward about 38 years and I'm watching a movie called "The Ghost Camera". The connection?
Well, "White Noise" (1969) was made by three people, one of which was David Vorhaus. "The Ghost Camera" (1933) was directed by his father Bernard Vorhaus. And when Bernard was 95 years old he wrote his memoirs, "Saved From Oblivion" (2000).
I found "Saved From Oblivion" at the Vancouver Library and it's in such pristine condition that I wouldn't be surprised if I'm the only one who has read it. But I was so impressed by "The Ghost Camera" that I recognized the name Bernard Vorhaus right away when I was browsing through the stacks at the local library.
This may not be the best book ever written but it's the fact that it exists at all that's so amazing. None of Vorhaus' films are well known by the public. Even movie buffs would be hard pressed to remember even one of his films. The only reason it was written was because David Lean (who was the film editor on "The Ghost Camera") dropped his name during an interview.
The last item in the book was about the 95 year old's wish to return to America to start digging where his old house stood to try and find a lost film that he had buried there before he was forced to leave the USA by HUAC. I'll go and check IMDB but I'm sure he never made it back.
IMDB Update: It shows that Bernard died in 2000 just 2 days before his 96th birthday. He died in London so I guess he never made it back to Hollywood.

Here is the website to watch his "The Ghost Camera"
Here's the site to watch another of his films "The Amazing Mr X"
Here's a site where you can download some music by his son David Vorhaus

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day #21,527

Walk km 6126-6130: 29th/Puget/Eddington/Haggart/32nd

Movie #1489 (#276 this year): Leave Her To Heaven(1945, John M Stahl)

Well, this must have been a treat in 1945. A movie in gorgeous colour. Beautiful landscapes of New Mexico, Georgia and Maine as the filthy rich frolic about.
However, to me it's just a soap opera. I'm afraid that I didn't believe a single scene. I'm not sure why but I did think those scenes of the characters staring off into the distance looked rather contrived. I'll have to blame Mr Stahl.

Movie #1491 (#277 this year): Wolke 9(2008, Andreas Dresen)

Your typical woman has affair, husband finds out and commits suicide story. The difference in this one is these characters aren't in their 20s or 30s, they're senior citizens.
Well made - I did believe that these people were really going through this upheaval in their lives. Of course, they got the whole thing screwed up so that one of the three had to kill himself instead of doing something rational.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day #21,526

Walk km 6124-6126: to the library

Movie #1488 (#275 this year): The Death Kiss(1932, Edwin L Marin)

It's a whodunit and I hate whodunits. It looks like the producers were aware that a lot of people hated whodunits also so they included a bunch of comic relief as well. The result: a mess.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day #21,525

Walk km 6119-6124 (15,401 to go): Arbutus/20th/Valley/19th/Arbutus/18th/Valley/16th/Stephens/Broadway

Book #345 (#44 this year): Yellow-Dog Contract(1977, Ross Thomas)

I read this one to follow-up on "The Procane Chronicle". This one is of equal quality. I'm not about to go scouting around looking for any more by Mr Thomas but in a pinch I could do worse.

Movie #1487 (#274 this year): $(1971, Richard Brooks)

Caper movie with Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn. Makes for a fun 2 hours.

Movie #1486 (#273 this year): Tish(1942, S Sylvan Simon)

This is the first Simon I've seen since his wonderful "I Love Trouble". He does a nice job here too but this is a romantic comedy rather than film noir. The romance part of this one is tedious but the comedy part ain't bad at all. The best scenes are those with Marjorie Main, Zasu Pitts and Aline McMahon. Those three make a great team.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day #21,524

Walk km 6114-6117 (15,407 to go): running errands
Walk km 6117-6119 (15,405 to go): to Davie @ Denman

Movie #1485 (#272 this year): West Of Shanghai(1937, John Farrow)

Once again a bunch of Hollywood actors find themselves in China. They are in northern China but somehow think they are "west of Shanghai". John Wayne was up against the dreaded and yet inept communists but here the cast is up against that philosophical Chinese warlord, Boris Karloff.
Not much to recommend here but Boris' portrayal of the Chinese warload is quite a hoot.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day #21,519

I'm taking a little trip over the next 4 days. Bad news: no internet access for 4 days. Good news: when I get back I'll have the doctor's OK to start walking again.

Movie #1484 (#271 this year): The Perils Of Pauline(1947, George Marshall)

This is #4 of the 4 Betty Hutton movies that I recorded from TCM. This one starts out OK with Betty singing "Rumble Rumble Rumble" early on. But, that's it. Boredom sets in right thereafter and never lets up. Yawn.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day #21,518

Movie #1483 (#270 this year): Blood Alley(1955, William Wellman)

I've seen quite a few Communist propaganda movies from China. Now I get a chance to see the flip side of that coin. John Wayne leads an entire village of hapless Chinese to safety in Hong Kong. It seems that these Chinese are totally helpless unless that have a strong American to lead them.
It's interesting that the film actually agrees with the Communists. The villain in the movie is the richest man in the village. However, they just turn history on its head and make him the communist!
All in all, I prefer the Communist propaganda movies to this American Imperialist one. One plus for the communist movies: no John Wayne!

Day #21,517

Book #344 (#43 this year): The Procane Chronicles(1971, Ross Thomas)

Ross Thomas is a highly regarded crime writer that I've avoided reading before now. I read a stinker quite a long time ago and I never could remember if it was Ross Thomas or Robert B Parker. I've come to believe it was Parker so I thought I'd give Thomas a try. And I can't say I'm disappointed. Good characters sent through their paces using a well crafted plot. He's no Izzi but then who is?

Movie #1482 (#269 this year): Annie Get Your Gun(1950, George Sidney)

This is the 3rd of 4 Betty Hutton musicals that I recorded off of TCM. The first two were kinda entertaining but this one............it's crap!
This is more of a standard musical. The others tried to mix the musical numbers in naturally but in this one the characters just break out into song whenever the mood strikes them. And that of course ruins the plot which in this case might have been a good thing. The endless insulting of Indians was pretty disgusting. And the final scene where Annie has to lose a shooting contest to get her man is awful because she does it willingly.
And the music sucks too. Couldn't they get a decent songwriter to come up with a few good tunes?
Betty does try her best but this one is beyond saving. Yuck!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day #21,516

Movie #1481 (#268 this year): The Crimson Kimono(1959, Sam Fuller)

Not exactly your smooth Hollywood production. Mr Fuller has quite a jarring visual style shown to best effect in the opening and closing sequences. Interesting throughout but those two street scenes are worth the price of admission alone.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day #21,515

Movie #1480 (#267 this year): Doomed To Die(1940, William Nigh)

It's a whodunit. I hate whodunits. And this one is about as bad as they come. A whole string of suspects during the first 66 minutes and then they just pick one at random in the 67th. Boring.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day #21,514

Book #343 (#42 this year): The Running Man(1982, Stephen King)

I read this one because it was recommended by one of the characters in "Real World". It's not as good as "Real World" because it's almost totally plot driven. "Real World" digs deep in to the mind of those Japanese kids but here the only thing except for the plot is US vs THEM. But, I'm not selling plot short: King is one of the best at plotting and it shows.
Another thing about this book is that it's set in the near future and King hits two of his forecasts dead on. Right away we see that TV has become dominated by reality shows of the Survivor type. The second one I won't give away because it has to do with the ending but I'm sure you'll see it coming about half way through if you decide to read this one yourself. Of course he does screw up occasionally as when he tries to explain bluffing in poker terms. He explains that the highest form of poker is 5 card stud (like the game they played in "The Cincinnati Kid"). Now, if he would have realized that by 2010 5 card stud would have totally died out and been replaced by the current highest form of poker: 7 card stud hi/lo, then I would have fallen right out of my chair.

Movie #1479 (#266 this year): The Stork Club(1945, Hal Walker)

This one has me stumped. It's Betty Hutton again but this time they've got her under wraps. Too much makeup. Too many fancy gowns. Too many ballads. They should be letting her show that old Betty verve. She was the perkiest girl in Hollywood you know!
Well, somehow it works anyway. I enjoyed it but I'm not sure why.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day #21,513

Movie #rewatch (#265 this year): Johnny Guitar(1954, Nicholas Ray)

One of my favourite westerns so I decided to watch it again when it came on TCM. The main thing I remember about it was Mercedes McCambridge's performance. Now her performance and everything about this movie looks totally artificial. The dialogue is nothing that would ever be spoken in real life. The plot makes no sense. My favourite this time: Ernest Borgnine's line "Some people just won't listen".
The artificial feel of this one sets it off so much from other westerns that it becomes enjoyable.
Of course, ten years later Sergio Leone would take the artificial western to all new heights with "A Fist Full Of Dollars".

Day #21,512

Movie #1478 (#264 this year): The Whole Shootin' Match(1978, Eagle Pennell)

Independent film about a couple of odd-job guys who are dumb enough to believe that prosperity is right around the corner. Yes, this does look pretty good for the obviously miniscule budget that it was made for but........... there's no plot so basically they're showing us a slice-of-life that just ain't that interesting. We all know that there plenty of folks like Lloyd and Frank out there. The film shows them to us but that's all.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day #21,511

Movie #1476 (#262 this year): The Long Memory(1953, Robert Hamer)

John Mills spends a day at the beach in "The Long Memory"

Watched this one because it had the same plot line as one I watched a few days back: innocent man is sent to prison where he dreams of revenge once he gets out.
I'm not sure why English films aren't my cup of tea but there's not too many of them that I like. This one is well acted, well directed and well scripted. Still, it's seems to be a lot less than the sum of its parts. The best part: the extraordinarily drab scenery along the English coast (near the well named "Gravesend").

Movie #1477 (#263 this year): Les gens normaux n'ont rien d'exceptionnel (1993, Laurence Ferreira Barbosa)

Valeria organizes a picnic

Hey, it's one of those Valeria Bruni Tedeschi movies! Val gets to play a woman who goes bonkers when her boyfriend dumps her. She takes up residence in an insane asylum where she takes on the role of a "mother hen". Maybe no great shakes but definitely worth it to watch Ms Tedeschi who is on screen nearly 100% of the time and delivers another outstanding performance.

Day #21,510

Book #342 (#41 this year): Real World(2008, Natsuo Kirino)

Since this one only took a day and a half to read, I cannot claim to dislike it. A Japanese teen decides to kill his mother by beating her over the head with a baseball bat. The story is about how the other teens react to this. This sort of thing seems to be a Japanese specialty but I'd only seen it manifested in movies before. This is the first novel that I've read with this sort of extreme storyline.
Whereas some of those movies (like "Battle Royale" which is mentioned by the teens in this movie) are pretty low grade stuff, this book is well written and the pages just go flying by.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day #21,509

Book #339 (#40 this year): Ellipsis(2000, Stephen Greenleaf)

Over the years I've read quite a few Greenleaf books and all were first class. This one appears to be merely zircon amidst the jewels. The problem is that our main character, P.I. Marsh Tanner, doesn't really delve deeply into the plot. Everything seems to be on the surface. I think the problem is that this was planned as the final Tanner book and so it's a kind of summing up and doesn't stand too well on its own. In fact, in the final chapter all the characters from previous Tanner books come back to throw him a party. In the context of the book the party is because he's inherited a lot of money but in reality it's a farewell party.
These Greenleaf novels are good but it's much better to start at the beginning: Grave Error(1979).

Movie #1475 (#261 this year): Bell Book And Candle(1958, Richard Quine)

one of the best images in the movie: the eyes of Kim Novak and a cat

I liked watching this one. But I didn't like what I heard.
This one was on Crackle in all its wide-screen glory. Hollywood at its best. Except for the plot: a lot of nonsense about witches and warlocks. I think it was supposed to be whimsical. I hate whimsy.
Check it out on Crackle - just leave the sound off and make up your own storyline.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day #21,508

Movie #1473 (#260 this year): I Love Trouble(1948, S Sylvan Simon)

I think this is a wonderful movie. It's a little hard to tell because the print at Internet Archives is in horrible condition.
I think I've got to give a lot of credit to the script by Roy "Rockford Files" Huggins. Roy's name pops up on too many good movies to be a coincidence. Direction looks good too. I haven't seen any S Sylvan Simon movies before but I better keep an eye out for them.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day #21,507

Movie #1471 (#258 this year): The Outer Gate(1937, Raymond Cannon)

Kay Linaker

After watching The Blob I thought I'd check out Kay Linaker's (The Blob's screenwriter) work as an actress. Man, this is about as low as you can go. This one is inept in pretty much every way. Linaker isn't much of an actress and neither is the rest of the cast. Mr Cannon simply points the camera in his job as director. The plot is a morality play: which is best, an eye-for-an-eye or turn-the-other-cheek? The scriptwriters are all for turn-the-other-cheek and are helped by the inept cast as there is no smooth Hollywood production to distract from the question at hand. Looking at this, it appears that these are real joes and janes wrestling with this question.
So, in conclusion, inept but enjoyable.

Movie #1472 (#259 this year): Dear Wendy(2005, Thomas Vinterberg)

Gun culture picture for teens. Appears to be a re-enactment of the history of gun culture in the USA. Teens go from wearing old-timey clothes and caring for their guns to a big time shootout ending. Kept me entertained but there's not much substance to this one.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day #21,506

Movie #1470 (#257 this year): The Blob(1958, Irvin S Yeaworth Jr)

This is a tie-in with the book that I read a little while back called "The Family". It seams that this Yeaworth guy was at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. He had an idea for an anti-Communist movie disguised as a horror/scifi flic. This red blob would invade small town America and the only way to stop it would be for all Americans to band together to stop it. How to stop it? Freeze it ("the cold war").
I saw this movie years ago and I'm afraid that I didn't get the blob/Communism connection at all. Of course, I watched on a b&w TV so I couldn't see that the blob was red. But even so.....
I loved Steve McQueen's last line. You see, they transport the blob to the Artic so it'll stay frozen forever. So Ste says, "as long as the Artic stays cold". How in the world did these people know about global warming in 1958?
UPDATE: after further research, the screenwriter that Yeaworth hooked up with at the National Prayer Breakfast was Kay Linaker. She had been primarily an actress appearing in 56 movies between 1936 and 1945. At the time of meeting Yeaworth, she had had only one script produced: a TV episode of the United States Steel Hour in 1955. "The Blob" was her only produced movie script. And after re-reading that part of "The Family" concerning Yeaworth, I cannot tell who originally came up with the idea of the blob as a symbol for communism.

Movie #1469 (#256 this year): Fools For Scandal(1938, Mervyn LeRoy)

Allen Jenkins with the annoying Fernand Gravet

OK, who is this Fernand Gravet fellow? I've seen a lot of movies in my day but I've never heard of him. And he's co-starring here with Carole Lombard? Surely someone at the studio must have made a huge mistake. He is so annoying. He makes this movie quite a chore to watch.
I'll have to check IMDB but my guess is that he probably died of embarrassment shortly after this movie's release.
Update: I've checked IMDB and it appears that I'm mistaken. Fernand Gravet continued acting right up until his death in 1970.

Day #21,505

Movie #1468 (#255 this year): Twentieth Century(1934, Howard Hawks)

Maybe I'm watching too many movies. This one is supposed to be one of the all-time greats. Hawks directs, Hecht scribbles and Barrymore acts. It was OK. John Barrymore gets an opportunity to make a real ham of himself and he doesn't disappoint.
Quite pleasant with a few chuckles but nothing more.

Book #338 (#39 this year): The Peep Diaries(2009, Hal Niedzviecki)

A book about "peep culture". This is the replacement of fiction with "real life" as entertainment. It includes being entertained by reality TV, internet blogging, surveillance cameras etc rather than the traditional novels and movies.
There's two parts here: info and editorializing. The info was fun but the conclusions drawn were of little interest because I doubt that too many of them were accurate.
I don't watch reality TV so that part was informative. Surveillance info was good - now I know why I see so many Westjet ads when I'm on the internet. His experiment with Facebook "friends" was revealing.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day #21,504

Movie #1466 (#253 this year): Getting Any?(1994, Takeshi Kitano)

A fun movie taken in small doses. It started off funny but all the gags began to grow tiresome after 60 minutes. I decided to shut it down and continue watching the following day. Sure enough, the last 40 minutes were fun.
The comedy is on a "three stooges" type level.

Movie #1467 (#254 this year): Red Hot & Blue(1949, John Farrow)

I hate musicals. However, this one is a bit different. I actually like most of the musical numbers. It's the crappy plot that drags this one down. It's the usual story of the girl trying to make it big on Broadway. The difference is that the girl trying to make it big is Betty Hutton. Betty Hutton is the perkiest person to ever grace a movie screen.
There are only 4 songs here and one is a ballad so that don't count. Three spiffy ones including the amazing "Hamlet" which (according to Last.FM) is the 34th most played tune this year (on my stereo).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day #21,503

Walk km 6109-6114: to Yaletown Station/(skytrain)/Cambie/57th

blue Mercedes
aprox km 6113 Angus near 57th

Day #21,502

Movie #1462 (#252 this year): I Can't Escape(1934, Otto Brower)

I seem to be addicted to these old relics from the scrapheap of Hollywood history. I have a subscription with MUBI so I could be watching bright shiny movies from this century but for some reason I keep watching these grainy black & white photoplays.
I assume this one is pre-code as an ex-con and a prostitute shack up and try to lead a life as square johns. OK entertainment.