Change Ad Consent Films Worth Viewing Year 2 | Page 11 | The Boneyard

Films Worth Viewing Year 2

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storrsroars

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Just wanted to note that "Nobody's Fool" is now streaming free on Amazon till end of Sept. It's a small movie about nothing important, but Paul Newman makes it a great watch.
 
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"My Man Godfrey"-Gregory LaCava-1936

This has a funny and clever trailer. The introduction credits are also worth seeing (they run in lights across drawings of buildings.) Ted Tetzlaff is director of photography. The script is by Morrie Ryskind and Eric Hatcher from his novel. I'm not sure why MGM loaned out William Powell;"The Thin Man" assured his status as a top leading man. He picked hisex-wife, Carole Lombard, as his co-star. This was a solid comedy cast:Eugene Pallette, Misha Auer, and Gail Patrick.

The story starts engagingly; a scavenger hunt brings some of the idle rich to the dump to find a forgotten man.
Godfrey Smith chooses to go with Irene(Lombard) rather than with her sister Constance (Patrick). Irene wins the contest and she hires Godfrey as the family Butler.

Of course there is a developing love story between Godfrey and Irene. In this dysfunctional family it is barely noticed. Godfrey tries to be the best butler he can be. He also must conceal his secret. Constance has a nasty streak, and she tries to make trouble. Mrs. Bullock wastes time and money with Carlo (Misha Auer). Mr. Bullock has the best lines:" All you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people." Or how about: Life in this house is one subpoena after another."

The film had a bundle of Oscar nominations, but didn't win a single one. It made money, but Universal needed Diana Durbin to become solvent again. The film is considered by many to be one of the best screwball comedies. It has its moments, but I find Lombard's performance annoying and lacking. Powell is great, but the romance is central to the story. It does not seem plausible to me.

This is available every where since it went into the public domain. The print on Prime is excellent. I should warn you that my opinion is not shared by most viewers.
 
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"My Man Godfrey"-Gregory LaCava-1936

This has a funny and clever trailer. The introduction credits are also worth seeing (they run in lights across drawings of buildings.) Ted Tetzlaff is director of photography. The script is by Morrie Ryskind and Eric Hatcher from his novel. I'm not sure why MGM loaned out William Powell;"The Thin Man" assured his status as a top leading man. He picked hisex-wife, Carole Lombard, as his co-star. This was a solid comedy cast:Eugene Pallette, Misha Auer, and Gail Patrick.

The story starts engagingly; a scavenger hunt brings some of the idle rich to the dump to find a forgotten man.
Godfrey Smith chooses to go with Irene(Lombard) rather than with her sister Constance (Patrick). Irene wins the contest and she hires Godfrey as the family Butler.

Of course there is a developing love story between Godfrey and Irene. In this dysfunctional family it is barely noticed. Godfrey tries to be the best butler he can be. He also must conceal his secret. Constance has a nasty streak, and she tries to make trouble. Mrs. Bullock wastes time and money with Carlo (Misha Auer). Mr. Bullock has the best lines:" All you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people." Or how about: Life in this house is one subpoena after another."

The film had a bundle of Oscar nominations, but didn't win a single one. It made money, but Universal needed Diana Durbin to become solvent again. The film is considered by many to be one of the best screwball comedies. It has its moments, but I find Lombard's performance annoying and lacking. Powell is great, but the romance is central to the story. It does not seem plausible to me.

This is available every where since it went into the public domain. The print on Prime is excellent. I should warn you that my opinion is not shared by most viewers.
"My Man Godfrey" is one of my favorite comedies, and is one of my favorite films from this time period. It gets billed as a screwball comedy (which it is), but this movie does have a serious side as well, when William Powell's character launches a campaign to help out his former "forgotten man" compatriots in the second half of the movie. I do concur that Eugene Pallette as Mr. Bullock gets the best lines in this movie.
 
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"All Quiet on the Western Front"-Lewis Milestone-1930

The film ends with a memorable image. A soldier through his rifle port in the trench sees a butterfly near a can in front of the trench. He needs to touch that butterfly,so he raises his head up above the trench wall and extends his hand above the wall. His hand gets ever closer to the butterfly. Beyond the wall an enemy sniper takes aim. His hand gets closer and closer to the wall. Then a bang of a shot. We see the hand clench and finally relax. The soldier is dead. Remember in the last few frames we saw only his hand; he has become anonymous. Then in a final few frames we see his face again among thousands of his comrades, and finally a huge graveyard with an unending sea of crosses.

You might ask, why should we care? Ah, we care because Paul (Lew Ayers) is the central protagonist in the film.
We have followed him from his decision to enlist. He led a group of his fellow students to enlist. Outside the classroom there is a huge military parade. Inside the classroom the teacher encourages his students to enlist to serve and defend the fatherland. Yes, the classroom is in Germany. The film is based on a celebrated novel by Erich Maria Remarque. Remarque wrote a sequel, "The Road Back", which was also made into a film at Universal.
This time the film was directed by James Whale; we know him for his work in the horror genre, but we looked at his "Showboat" as well.

Back to All Quiet, we follow Paul through four years of war. His friends die;he is wounded. His return home is more than uncomfortable. He comes back to the front;he searches out Kat an older soldier who taught him how to survive. Kat is out scavenging for food for the squad. They meet up, but Kat is wounded by a plane attack. Paul seeks to carry him out of danger. While Paul is carrying him to the aide station, he receives a fatal wound. Paul is unaware of this. When he arrives at the aide station, the soldiers there make no special notice. Kat is just another dead soldier.

The world wide audience which saw this film, is not today's audience. This was the very early days of sound, and even motion pictures were not that understood. There was still much of the magic which led early audiences to jump back from pictures of trains hurtling down the track. Milestone relied on this silent magic to conclude the film. There is no dialogue and only one sound. I'm not sure if I've written one thousand words to describe a few shots of the movie. This is storytelling of the most imaginative. The final scenes are set up by two hours of story.

Just a little about Lew Ayers. He was only 22 when the film was made. He was Milestone's choice for the role.
Ayers became a pacifist. He served in WWII but as a medic. This almost ruined his movie career. Olivia de Haviland held out for Ayers to play the lead in a picture in 1946. He was nominated for his performance in "Johnny Belinda." This is available for streaming on YouTube. This is an enduring classic.
 
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"Witness for the Prosecution"- Billy Wilder-1947

This is a wonderfully clever film. The advertising campaign was equally clever. Don't reveal the ending. In fact when a special showing was arranged for the British Royal Family, they were asked to maintain secrecy about the ending. Of course this wouldn't work if the ending wasn't good. The film was written by Billy Wilder and Harry Kurnitz. This was Kurnitz's only collaboration with Wilder who he found maddening. He called Wilder Mr.Hyde and Mr.Hyde; he was without Dr. Jeckyl side. Surprisingly, Wilder was admired by all the actors. Charles Laughton and his wife Elsa Lanchester entertained him. Tyrone Power said this was one of the three films in his career of which he was proud. Marlene Dietrich said he was one of her three favorite directors; the others were Sternberg and Orson Welles. (Welles helped Dietrich with her special makeup.)

This is basically a courtroom drama. The principal set was was a painstaking reconstruction of the London Central Criminal Court. It was all filmed on MGM's backlot. They had me fooled. Leonard Vole is accused of murdering a wealthy widow. Vole (Tyrone Power) tries to hire Sir Wilfred Roberts (Charles Laughton) London's finest criminal barrister. Unfortunately, Roberts is recovering from a heart attack; his doctors have forbidden him to take any criminal cases. They have dispatched Miss Plimsoll (Elsa Lanchester) to see that he sticks to a treatment and rest regime. (Plimsoll is the British word for sneaker. Lanchester doesn't sneak around.) the interplay between the two witty and fun filled.

Naturally, Sir Wilfred takes the case. He meets Vole's wife Christine (Marlene Dietrich). Vole met and married her at the end of World War II in Germany. Sir Wilfred is taken aback by her attitude; Vole is depending upon her as an a witness. Laughton is tremendous in this role. He received one of the 4 Oscar nominations, but the film won none.

The film is available on Prime. Dietrich gives one of the best performances of her career. While this isn't Wilder's best film, it is still compelling viewing more than 60 years after it opened. This is two hours of pure enjoyment. Should anyone care; there are other versions available. There is a good 1982 film (available to stream), and a 2016 BBC mini-series which goes back to Agatha Christie's original. You really should view this film.
 
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"The Bishop's Wife"-Henry Koster-1947

Goldwyn was totally dissatisfied with this production. He fired the director and brought in a new director. The film opens with a well dressed stranger walking down a busy street. He stops to help a blind man cross the street. Then he notices a women lifting up one child to better view a Christmas window. As she does this her baby carriage begins to roll along the sidewalk. Just before the carriage rolls into the side street, the stranger
stops the carriage. She is both thankful and contrite as she promises the stranger never to let this happen again. We, the audience, have immediately recognized Cary Grant. We find out that he is named Dudley. We are never sure if this is his first or last name. He later declares to Bishop Brougham that he is angel. Cary Grant
was originally cast as the Bishop with David Niven playing the angel. Grant opposed the change, but Koster eventually won him over. Dudley has immense charm and charisma on screen, Cary Grant trademarks; it certainly would have been a different picture with the roles as originally cast.

Hollywood excelled in this type of pleasant fantasy. This picture was shooting simultaneously with "The Miracle of 34th Street." 'The Bishop's Wife" is barely remembered today. It never achieved a spot in the holiday film rota. Still this is well acted, well scripted, and well shot. The supporting cast particularly Elsa Lanchester as the maid and Joseph Gleeson as a taxi driver is solid.

The Bishop has lost his way. His push to build a great cathedral occupies all his time. His marriage to Julia (Loretta Young) is suffering. He is unhappy, and the joy is gone from his life. He prays to God, and Dudley is the answer. Dudley has his own problem, he falls for a human woman, Julia. He stops himself, and in addition to solving the cahedral situation, Julia and Bishop Henry are reunited. Along the way Dudley helps the delightful Professor Wutheridge (Monte Wooley) to write a significant book on Roman history. This is not
a prequel to Wim Wender's "Wings of Desire." This is Hollywood whimsy of the late 40's, well done and enjoyable. This is available on Prime and on free streaming elsewhere. Highly recommended.
 
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"The Bishop's Wife"-Henry Koster-1947

Goldwyn was totally dissatisfied with this production. He fired the director and brought in a new director. The film opens with a well dressed stranger walking down a busy street. He stops to help a blind man cross the street. Then he notices a women lifting up one child to better view a Christmas window. As she does this her baby carriage begins to roll along the sidewalk. Just before the carriage rolls into the side street, the stranger
stops the carriage. She is both thankful and contrite as she promises the stranger never to let this happen again. We, the audience, have immediately recognized Cary Grant. We find out that he is named Dudley. We are never sure if this is his first or last name. He later declares to Bishop Brougham that he is angel. Cary Grant
was originally cast as the Bishop with David Niven playing the angel. Grant opposed the change, but Koster eventually won him over. Dudley has immense charm and charisma on screen, Cary Grant trademarks; it certainly would have been a different picture with the roles as originally cast.

Hollywood excelled in this type of pleasant fantasy. This picture was shooting simultaneously with "The Miracle of 34th Street." 'The Bishop's Wife" is barely remembered today. It never achieved a spot in the holiday film rota. Still this is well acted, well scripted, and well shot. The supporting cast particularly Elsa Lanchester as the maid and Joseph Gleeson as a taxi driver is solid.

The Bishop has lost his way. His push to build a great cathedral occupies all his time. His marriage to Julia (Loretta Young) is suffering. He is unhappy, and the joy is gone from his life. He prays to God, and Dudley is the answer. Dudley has his own problem, he falls for a human woman, Julia. He stops himself, and in addition to solving the cahedral situation, Julia and Bishop Henry are reunited. Along the way Dudley helps the delightful Professor Wutheridge (Monte Wooley) to write a significant book on Roman history. This is not
a prequel to Wim Wender's "Wings of Desire." This is Hollywood whimsy of the late 40's, well done and enjoyable. This is available on Prime and on free streaming elsewhere. Highly recommended.
For me, James Gleason is usually a welcome addition to the cast of movies from this time period. Cary Grant carries the film for me, and both Gleason and Monty Woolley add a nice touch as well. "The Bishop's Wife" is a very good film and one of the better Christmas movies around. "Miracle on 34th Street" is also mentioned here, for me that one is one of my top four Christmas films of all time, I just love it.
 
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For me, James Gleason is usually a welcome addition to the cast of movies from this time period. Cary Grant carries the film for me, and both Gleason and Monty Woolley add a nice touch as well. "The Bishop's Wife" is a very good film and one of the better Christmas movies around. "Miracle on 34th Street" is also mentioned here, for me that one is one of my top four Christmas films of all time, I just love it.
I believe that Koster made the right choice; Grant owns this role. The ice skating sequence is a delight. Grant is a total pro, and it is a real pleasure to view this performance.
 
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I believe that Koster made the right choice; Grant owns this role. The ice skating sequence is a delight. Grant is a total pro, and it is a real pleasure to view this performance.
Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart are my favorite movie actors of all time, with James Stewart not far behind them at number 3. Totally agree with what you say about Grant in "The Bishop's Wife", so much that is hard to imagine the Grant and Niven roles being reversed. And Niven was hardly a slouch actor. One of my favorite movies is "A Matter of Life and Death", which I have mentioned before in this thread. Niven is absolutely wonderful in that film, but the role of Dudley and Cary Grant is the perfect match.
 
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"To Kill a Mockingbird"-Robert Mulligan-1962

Few things are more powerful than the unlocking of human memories. The film's credits begin with the opening of a cigar box. Inside the box we see two carved figures, a pair of glasses, an old pocket watch, and some crayons. We are being invited to share someone's memories. A hand removes a crayon which is used to write the title:"To Kill a Mockingbird." The we hear an adult voice in narration (Kim Stanley) taking us back in time to the summer of 1932 in a small Alabama town. The narrator says that we had been told that "we had nothing to fear, but fear itself." Wait, that line comes from FDR's inaugural speech March 4, 1933. Then I had the good sense to realize the the narrator could be making a factual error,human memory is not perfect, but that it could be emotionally true. In this summer of 1932 the Finch children Jem (Phillip Alford) and Scout (Mary
Badham) have nothing to fear as the story begins. Their father, Atticus (Gregory Peck), is a lawyer, but he spends time with them every day. Their mother died so far back that Scout has no real memories of her. Scout and Jem are allowed freedom to play unsupervised, but they are given values which guide their developing lives.

In the novel the story covers several years, but the film covers a period of less than a year and a half. In this few months Jem and Scout make a new friend, Dill (John Megna), see their father shoot a mad dog, watch their father defend an innocent Black man accused of raring a white woman, and finally be rescued by an almost fantasy figure,Boo Radley(Robert DuVall) when their lives are threatened.

The book "To Kill a Mockingbird" was published in 1960. It was a huge success and won the Pulitzer Prize. Surprisingly, it was not snapped up by major studios. That allowed the independent production company of Robert Mulligan and Allan Pakula to acquire the rights. The novel was sent to Gregory Peck. He read it immediately and said he was your man. Horton Foote, a native Southerner, living in Rye, New York was hired to write the script. Harper Lee's home town was looked as a possible shooting site, but it had changed too much. The set for the town including the courthouse was constructed on a Hollywood. Harper Lee, who took an active part in the production, was wowed by the accuracy of the set. The production design won one of the film's three Oscars. The other two were for Best Actor (Peck) and best adapted screenplay (Foote). The book and the film are widely read and seen in schools today.

I had some difficulty writing this comment. In my most recent viewing in addition to watching the film, I watched the DVD extras. They include two feature length films. The first is "A Conversation with Gregory
Peck" is a PBS production and is readily available to stream. The second, "Fearful Symmetry", deals with the making of the film, and it is not readily available. I wrestled with how to begin. Should I try and detail the story? I could also have discussed in detail what went into the making of the film. I decided to focus on what
drew me into the film. Memories are powerful, and some of my childhood memories were awakened. Let me share just one. I had a happy childhood. I grew up in Manchester, Ct.. My parents allowed me the freedom of unsupervised play with my friends. I did experience one tragedy. I had a friend, Billy Prentice, who lived on my street who had cancer. When we were in sixth grade he died, and I was a pall bearer at his funeral. Looking back I wonder how it affected me. I felt a sense of duty to be a pall bearer, and to an extent it made the concept of death more real.

The memory box is really Jem's and not Scout's. The story is told from Scout's viewpoint. It is the adult voice of Scout who narrates the story. A writer who can use her memories to engage and involve her readers has a gift. If she is further able to use her memories to lead us to understand her memories as emotional truth has performed a miracle of storytelling. Sometimes this can be liberating; remember "Big Fish" where the son becomes involved with his father's stories by helping to create one. Sometimes memories are found by a third person. Remember "Amelie" where she discovers a box of boyhood memories and restores them to a man who left them behind many years ago. Harper Lee in the book and the cast in the movie opened the box of my memories.

Gregory Peck has spoken often about what he is proud of in his life. He once responded that he was most
of his being a good father and husband. With regard to his profession; he felt proudest of his ability as a storyteller. He tells one story about the courtroom scene where he is questioning the defendant, Tom Robinson (Brock Peters). Peters was crying, and Peck looked over him so that he wouldn't cry. That would have been too much and ruined the 6 and 1/2 minute scene. It would have ruined the story. Peck worried that he overdid his jury summation. He used the word temerity to explain how Tom Robinson's felling sorry for the alleged victim could color the jury's perception. Blacks couldn't be sorry for whites in Alabama in 1933.

Brock Peters stated that he summoned his memories of a lifetime of mistreatment in the scene where he is questioned by Atticus Finch. The tears then were natural. Atticus tells Scout that she must be able to get into another person's skin to understand them. She needs to walk around in it. We walk around in Scout's skin while watching this movie. That for most of us is easier than to walk in Tom Robinson's skin.

This time for me the courtroom scenes are not the strength of the film. There is one exception, when the black preacher says: "Miss Jean Louise, stand up your father's passing." I must mention the performance of
James Anderson as Bob Ewell the evil center the mad dog of the film. He was disconcerting to the other actors. His presence in the film inspires fear.

This available for free streaming. I should read the book again. This is one of those films that for most of us
remains a part of our cinematic memory which we can and should revisit. Just seeing the reveal of Arthur Rafley behind the door while Jem lies injured on the bed can't be adequately described in words. Watch this film again.
 
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"The Accountant"-Gavin O'Connor-2016

This original script by Bill Dubuque was on the blacklist of best unfilmed scripts. Action films form a solid foundation for the international box office. However, they are dominated by super heroes and sequels. Is there some new template for a hero which can achieve box office success? This was considered to be a medium budget film, under $50 million. It was successful and a sequel has been rumored since release.

The novel aspect of this action film is that the protagonist has Asperger's. He is high functioning as is David Byrne of The Talking Heads. His back story is interspersed with the present action. We meet Christian Wolf (Ben Affleck), one of his many identities. operating as an accountant in a strip mall. His clients are a farmer and his wife who makes necklaces. He solves their tax problems, they offer him shooting privileges on their farm.

Wolf takes a job to forensically examine the books of a robotics company planning to go public. A discrepancy in the books was discovered by a junior accountant, Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick). Wolf asks for 15 years of financial records. He reviews the 15 years of records in less than 24 hours. He writes his findings all over the glass walls of the small conference room. He shows his work to Dana Cummings. Shortly thereafter he is fired.
He hasn't quite finished the job and he is more than frustrated. The company president, Lamar Blackburn (John Lithglow) gives him a check.

That is the present situation. That is track one of the story. Track two is a Treasury Department investigation headed by Ray King (J.K. Simmons). Wolf is the accountant of choice for many top level criminals. His identity is
unknown. King tasks Maybeth Medina (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) with the task of uncovering the Accountant's identity. Medina has a juvenile record; Kink uses this to force her into taking this job.

Track three is Wolfe's backstory. We first meet him when his parents are visiting a special school for children with his type of problems. While his parents are talking with the head of the school, the boy is assembling a puzzle with the picture face down. He completes the task, but one piece is missing. He exhibits extreme distress, a girl with his symptoms is watching. She hands him the piece; he completes the puzzle. Meanwhile, his father decides that the school will not prepare him for real life. The father works in Psy-Ops, and the family moves around the world.

The fourth track is the introduction of a security specialist. He, Brax( John Barentrall) uses very violent methods to achieve his client's goals.

Of course the tracks are eventually merged. I need to mention one further character Francis Silverberg (Geffrey Tambour) a mob accountant who practically invented money cleaning. He and Wolf are prison cellmates. Francis teaches him the principles of cooking books and washing money. This is the education he needs to become the Accountant.

I liked this picture. The meshing of the story tracks was well done. There are interesting surprises along the way. Afleck does an excellent job as the protagonist. It made solid money. Critics had some negatives to point out. One of the most common was that this was Bourne 2.0. My gut tells me that the sequel won't be made. This is available to stream for free. This merits a solid recommendation, but there is a lot of violence.
 
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"Miss Sloane"-John Madden-2016

I have been rooting around relatively contemporary films recently. I haven't seen any of these films in theaters.
I know that is a mistake, but I've become curious about what works with audiences and critics in today's world film market. This is a well made film with a problematic protagonist who happens to be a woman. The film industry is more open to female leads than in the past. Surprisingly, Disney has been ahead of the industry here. This film is neither action, nor cartoon, and it is based in Washington, D.C.. It also deals with a hot political issue, gun control. The script was a first for Jonathan Perera. Madden is a well known British director. The financing came from Europe (France in particular). The U.S. market is critical for big success. Next is China. Disney had huge hopes for the live action "Mulan." Unfortunately, they filmed a few scenes in a province with a Muslim majority. I am beginning this comment with this material with this background information to highlight some of factors which determine whether or not a project gets greenlit.

This was a low mid-budget film dealing with a U.S. social problem with a female protagonist who isn't remotely likable. Miss Elizabeth Sloane is a lobbyist, a profession not noted for its high-mindedness. Many Americans find their influence in politics and legislation to be bad bordering on evil. Just recently it has been reported that the Meat Packing Industry Association wrote the first draft of President Trump's order to keep the industry open during the coronavirus pandemic. Miss Sloane (Jessica Chastain) has no values other than winning. She leaves a major D.C. firm to lobby for what is the normally loosing position on gun control. This is an excellent portrait of a flawed woman. Among her problems are an addiction to stimulants, and hiring an escort for sex. She takes about half of her team with her when she leaves. One of those who stayed behind was Jane Malloy (Allison Pill)
who wanted to return to academia. The head of the big firm, George Dupont (Sam Watterson) wants to destroy
her. He had wanted to represent the pro 2nd amendment forces for years. Jane Malloy becomes key to his plans because she had served as her assistant for several years. The plot has plenty of twists and turns. The head of the good guy lobbying group, Rudolfo Schmidt (Mark Strong) allows Sloane to lead the effort by his firm to support gun control legislation. Strong has built a reputation as an actor who portrays characters with questionable morals.

I want to single out one of actors, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, she is the daughter of a Nigerian born doctor and an English nurse. She was brought up in England and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. She has made a number of independent films in England. She starred in a failed U.S. tv series. She plays an American
who had a negative gun experience. Sloane exploits this to help the cause. This is a classic supporting effort.
should also mention John Lithglow who plays a compromised U.S. senator very well.

This is a solid film which was a box office debacle. The plot is clever, the twists are engaging. There are several superior performances. The dialogue is fresh. This was a box office debacle of the first order. Those who actually saw the generally liked it. However,there was a substantial minority who found the film to be Hollywood moralizing. This is on Prime, and it also streams for free. I recommend this highly. This is an emotionally cold film, but well worth viewing.
 

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(Jessica Chastain)
I find her to be consistently very good. Have you seen her in "Molly's Game?" If not, you should add it to your list. Another fairly recent, very well done film that didn't really find an audience.
 
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I find her to be consistently very good. Have you seen her in "Molly's Game?" If not, you should add it to your list. Another fairly recent, very well done film that didn't really find an audience.
I've seen it, but I probably should rewatch it. I have a feeling that she is an actress definitely worth following.
 
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I find her to be consistently very good. Have you seen her in "Molly's Game?" If not, you should add it to your list. Another fairly recent, very well done film that didn't really find an audience.
I've seen it, but I probably should rewatch it. I have a feeling that she is an actress definitely worth following.
I can't claim to be totally familiar with her work, but I thought Jessica Chastain was very good in "The Martian", which is definitely a terrific movie.
 
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"The Shape of Water"-Guillermo del Toro-2017

Hey, I even liked his Hellboy films. Del Toro continually surprises me. I found out in my research that this romance was a childhood dream dating back to his seeing "The Creature from the Black Lagoon." Del Toro also references Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast." He wanted the beast to stay a beast as did Marlene Dietrich. This film is told through three incomplete or perhaps marginal individuals: a mute, a homosexual, and a black woman. The mute, Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) is fascinated by music, particularly dance music. Often in myths music enraptures the beast. The homosexual, Giles (Richard Jenkins) is an artist driven to attempt to create Jello adds. The only person with whom he communicates is Elisa. The black woman, Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer) is Elisa's defender. She is intensely practical; Elisa is romantic. All three of these characters are observers rather than actors who move their world. All three are outsiders.

The insider is Robert Strickland (Michael Shannon); he captured the monster in the Amazon. He is white, male, heterosexual, and part of the military who plan to use this amphibian to help the space program. Zelda and Elisa are part of the janitorial staff. Giles lost his job at an advertising agency; probably because of his sexual orientation. The film is set in 1962, remember the Cuban Missile Crisis? It begins in this time period. The Russians are ahead in Space; it is hoped that by studying the amphibian monster that the US will gain some advantages for their astronauts. Strickland's idea of communication with the "Monster" is to poke it with an electric cattle prod. Elisa gains the creature's trust with the magical combination of music and hard boiled eggs.

Del Toro began working on the creature in 2011. He financed the development with his own money. He also put up the seed money for the underground secret government lab. He creates his own myth set in a period of American history which he despises. Remember "King Kong"; it was beauty that killed the beast. In this case beauty frees the beast. Sally Hawkins isn't conventionally beautiful. Her beauty is soul deep. She is able
to touch outsiders. She believes the beast sees her as she is; she intuitively knows how to communicate with this monster. Of course he isn't a monster in her eyes. The combination of the suit, the actor (Doug Jones) and some computer magic create an individual worthy of being loved for who he is. There is a magical dance sequence lifted from an Astaire and Rogers number in "Follow the Fleet." When the decision is made to kill
the monster and to dissect him; Elisa is forced to develop a plan to free him. Things don't work out as planned, and she needs the help of not only Zelda, but an undercover Russian agent posing as one of the projects scientists (Michael Stulhberg) to bring off the escape plan.

This is just short of a must see for me,near great. Surprisingly, it was a moneymaker big time. This is very unusual for Best Picture Winners recently. It was budgeted at 19 million; the world wide gross was over 194 million. If you haven't seen it you should, the DVD extras are excellent. It is available to stream for for free. It won 4 Oscars:film, director, music, and production design. Del Toro wrote, directed, produced, and probably did dozens of other non credited jobs. He is very hands on. One interesting tidbit about him is that he built a second house to house his collection of comics, graphic novels, and films.
 
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"The Shape of Water"-Guillermo del Toro-2017

Hey, I even liked his Hellboy films. Del Toro continually surprises me. I found out in my research that this romance was a childhood dream dating back to his seeing "The Creature from the Black Lagoon." Del Toro also references Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast." He wanted the beast to stay a beast as did Marlene Dietrich. This film is told through three incomplete or perhaps marginal individuals: a mute, a homosexual, and a black woman. The mute, Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) is fascinated by music, particularly dance music. Often in myths music enraptures the beast. The homosexual, Giles (Richard Jenkins) is an artist driven to attempt to create Jello adds. The only person with whom he communicates is Elisa. The black woman, Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer) is Elisa's defender. She is intensely practical; Elisa is romantic. All three of these characters are observers rather than actors who move their world. All three are outsiders.

The insider is Robert Strickland (Michael Shannon); he captured the monster in the Amazon. He is white, male, heterosexual, and part of the military who plan to use this amphibian to help the space program. Zelda and Elisa are part of the janitorial staff. Giles lost his job at an advertising agency; probably because of his sexual orientation. The film is set in 1962, remember the Cuban Missile Crisis? It begins in this time period. The Russians are ahead in Space; it is hoped that by studying the amphibian monster that the US will gain some advantages for their astronauts. Strickland's idea of communication with the "Monster" is to poke it with an electric cattle prod. Elisa gains the creature's trust with the magical combination of music and hard boiled eggs.

Del Toro began working on the creature in 2011. He financed the development with his own money. He also put up the seed money for the underground secret government lab. He creates his own myth set in a period of American history which he despises. Remember "King Kong"; it was beauty that killed the beast. In this case beauty frees the beast. Sally Hawkins isn't conventionally beautiful. Her beauty is soul deep. She is able
to touch outsiders. She believes the beast sees her as she is; she intuitively knows how to communicate with this monster. Of course he isn't a monster in her eyes. The combination of the suit, the actor (Doug Jones) and some computer magic create an individual worthy of being loved for who he is. There is a magical dance sequence lifted from an Astaire and Rogers number in "Follow the Fleet." When the decision is made to kill
the monster and to dissect him; Elisa is forced to develop a plan to free him. Things don't work out as planned, and she needs the help of not only Zelda, but an undercover Russian agent posing as one of the projects scientists (Michael Stulhberg) to bring off the escape plan.

This is just short of a must see for me,near great. Surprisingly, it was a moneymaker big time. This is very unusual for Best Picture Winners recently. It was budgeted at 19 million; the world wide gross was over 194 million. If you haven't seen it you should, the DVD extras are excellent. It is available to stream for for free. It won 4 Oscars:film, director, music, and production design. Del Toro wrote, directed, produced, and probably did dozens of other non credited jobs. He is very hands on. One interesting tidbit about him is that he built a second house to house his collection of comics, graphic novels, and films.
I concur with the above, "Shape of Water" is an excellent film. Del Toro also directed "Pan's Labyrinth", which I feel is just a bit better, and that is saying something. Nothing wrong with a career which produces these two very fine movies.
 
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"Get Shorty"-Barry Sonnenfeld-1995

Elmore Leonard is a name in crime fiction which for devotees brings a quick smile. He began by writing novels set around Detroit; then some of the characters migrated to Florida. In this novel they migrate from Florida to Hollywood. Scott Frank wrote the screen play. When Travolta landed the part of Chilli Palmer; he fought to maintain the Leonard dialogue. This is Leonard's favorite adaptation of his work.

Travolta was damaged goods for much of the 80's and into the early 90's. Quentin Tarantino raised him from the box office dead with a role in "Pulp Fiction." Chilli Palmer is a Miami outpost for a big time NYC ( Brooklyn)
mobster, Mo. Mo features in one classic Elmore Leonard scene, He struggles to climb along stairway to make an important meeting. He finally reaches the top of the stairs; he opens the door a large applauding crowd awaits him. Signs proclaim "Happy 65th Mo"; he drops dead of a heart attack. This affects Chilli in that now he falls under another NYC mobster, and his Miami Rep is Ray "Bones" Barboni. He and Chilli have already come to blows over a leather coat.

Chilli leaves Miami in search of Leo Devoe who has skipped out owing a considerable sum. He ran a scam on the airlines and his wife. Chilli follows him to Vegas. Devoe (David Paymer) has skipped for LA; when a friend working at a casino gives him this info; he asks Chilli to look up Harry Zinn (Gene Hackman) who owes a sizeable debt to the casino and isn't answering his phone. Chilli agrees. CHilli likes this extra because Zinn is a Hollywood producer of low budget horror films. Palmer is a devotee of all films; he seemingly remembers everything he sees. There is a lot of film trivia, for instance who plays what role in Rio Bravo; and in what film does Charlton Heston have a Spanish accent?

The film is a warm hearted satire of both Hollywood and gangster films. The title refers to Martin Witt (Danny De Vito) who is a major star. A billboard of him as Napoleon is prominently featured. Chilli decides he wants to become a Hollywood producer. Yes, as Preson Sturges admonished there is a girl in the picture; Karen Flores (Rene Russo) who is Witt's ex-wife. Zinn wants to get Martin for the lead in his picture. Zinn not only owes money to the casino; he owes money to an LA based drug dealer and Limo company owner, Bo Catlett (Delroy Lindo). Bo also wants to break into films. Balboni (Dennis Farina) turns up in LA to collect from Leo Devoe. The plot is like a spinning top crossed with a bowling ball.

The film ends with a sequence where a film is being shot with Penny Marshall as the director and Harvey Keitel as one of the characters. An inferior sequel followed. I really like this film. This role fits Travolta like a bespoke suit. The comedy is surprisingly organic despite being the product of a storyline as complex as Marcel Proust. This is too good to be a guilty pleasure, but many would classify it so. It is available to stream for free. You should enjoy this film without guilt,
 
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"White Heat"-Raoul Walsh-1949

Cagney returned to Warner Brothers after several years as an independent after winning the Oscar in 1942. He was disappointed that he was continually cast as a bad guy in gangster films. He was allowed to choose his scripts. So what did he choose, a gangster film, but what a gangster film. If you can access the Warner DVD, you can luxuriate in the extras. The director, Raoul Walsh, was a studio stalwart. His first big film was Douglas Fairbanks' 1924 "Thief of Baghdad."

The writers, Cliff and Roberts, weren't well known. The character of Cody Jarrett is based on several gangsters beginning with Francis Crowley. The relationship with his mother was based on Ma Barker. The train robbery which opens the film was based on a real event in 1923. It was Cagney's idea that Cody was a psychopath with
migraines/seizures and mother problems. The train robbery brings in a huge haul, $300,000, but it puts the gang under huge scrutiny by the Treasury Department. The gang had left behind one member whose face was scalded by steam. He later freezes to death. When his body is found, a connection to the gang is made when the fingerprints of a member are found on a cigarette pack.

Jarrett is almost caught so he leaves his mother (Margaret Wycherly) and his wife (Virginia Mayo) behind and travels to Illinois where he pleads to another robbery. This robbery will only get him a two or three year sentence. The train robbery left 4 dead and it was a federal crime. The Treasury Department sends in an undercover agent (Hank Fallon/Vic Pardo) played by Edmund O'Brien. Cagney liked O'Brien so he did things like show him his poetry. Pardo saves Cody's life from a falling piece of machinery. He has a setup escape plan with
the Treasury Department.

Back home in California one of the gang members, Big Ed Sommers (Steve Cochran) is taking over the gang and Cody's wife. Ma Jarrett is wise to the plan. She visits Cody in prison and tells him that she will take out
Big Ed. Cody tells her not to. Ma is killed, Cody is informed when the inmates are eating. Cagney pulls a fast
one. With 300 extras on scene and unscripted he goes crazy literally. This is one of the top prison scenes ever. The best is yet to come. Naturally, Cody escapes, but not with the Treasury Department plan. When he gets free he confronts his wife. Again Cagney broke with the script and really frightened Virginia Mayo. He liked her and he had her play a leading role in his next picture, "West Point." He kills Big Ed. Then he plans another job. This is a payroll for an oil company.

That takes us to the final scene one of the most memorable in cinema history. The Treasury Department and the local police are there, all his fellow gang members are dead, some by his hand, and he climbs to the top of the tanks. "Made it Ma. Top of the world." The top of the world phrase occurs a half a dozen times in the film. He fires his shotgun into a tank and everything explodes. On the ground with other Treasury Agents,
Hank Fallon says: "He finally got to the top of the world...and it blew up in his face.

When Cagney's films are ranked, this portrayal is #1 or #2. There are other wonderful bits, for instance when he sits in his mother's lap. Margaret Wycherly deserves cudos; this is a memorable performance. This film in common with other top Cagney films has a continuous forward motion. If you enjoy Cagney; this is a must see. Remember, he improvised many of the best bits. He really could act. Available on OK RU for streaming.
Wow, what a performance!
 
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"White Heat"-Raoul Walsh-1949

Cagney returned to Warner Brothers after several years as an independent after winning the Oscar in 1942. He was disappointed that he was continually cast as a bad guy in gangster films. He was allowed to choose his scripts. So what did he choose, a gangster film, but what a gangster film. If you can access the Warner DVD, you can luxuriate in the extras. The director, Raoul Walsh, was a studio stalwart. His first big film was Douglas Fairbanks' 1924 "Thief of Baghdad."

The writers, Cliff and Roberts, weren't well known. The character of Cody Jarrett is based on several gangsters beginning with Francis Crowley. The relationship with his mother was based on Ma Barker. The train robbery which opens the film was based on a real event in 1923. It was Cagney's idea that Cody was a psychopath with
migraines/seizures and mother problems. The train robbery brings in a huge haul, $300,000, but it puts the gang under huge scrutiny by the Treasury Department. The gang had left behind one member whose face was scalded by steam. He later freezes to death. When his body is found, a connection to the gang is made when the fingerprints of a member are found on a cigarette pack.

Jarrett is almost caught so he leaves his mother (Margaret Wycherly) and his wife (Virginia Mayo) behind and travels to Illinois where he pleads to another robbery. This robbery will only get him a two or three year sentence. The train robbery left 4 dead and it was a federal crime. The Treasury Department sends in an undercover agent (Hank Fallon/Vic Pardo) played by Edmund O'Brien. Cagney liked O'Brien so he did things like show him his poetry. Pardo saves Cody's life from a falling piece of machinery. He has a setup escape plan with
the Treasury Department.

Back home in California one of the gang members, Big Ed Sommers (Steve Cochran) is taking over the gang and Cody's wife. Ma Jarrett is wise to the plan. She visits Cody in prison and tells him that she will take out
Big Ed. Cody tells her not to. Ma is killed, Cody is informed when the inmates are eating. Cagney pulls a fast
one. With 300 extras on scene and unscripted he goes crazy literally. This is one of the top prison scenes ever. The best is yet to come. Naturally, Cody escapes, but not with the Treasury Department plan. When he gets free he confronts his wife. Again Cagney broke with the script and really frightened Virginia Mayo. He liked her and he had her play a leading role in his next picture, "West Point." He kills Big Ed. Then he plans another job. This is a payroll for an oil company.

That takes us to the final scene one of the most memorable in cinema history. The Treasury Department and the local police are there, all his fellow gang members are dead, some by his hand, and he climbs to the top of the tanks. "Made it Ma. Top of the world." The top of the world phrase occurs a half a dozen times in the film. He fires his shotgun into a tank and everything explodes. On the ground with other Treasury Agents,
Hank Fallon says: "He finally got to the top of the world...and it blew up in his face.

When Cagney's films are ranked, this portrayal is #1 or #2. There are other wonderful bits, for instance when he sits in his mother's lap. Margaret Wycherly deserves cudos; this is a memorable performance. This film in common with other top Cagney films has a continuous forward motion. If you enjoy Cagney; this is a must see. Remember, he improvised many of the best bits. He really could act. Available on OK RU for streaming.
Wow, what a performance!
I'm pretty much in agreement with the above review. "White Heat" is one of those movies that we will watch anytime we find it on television. While I think it is very good, there is no question in my mind that my wife likes it even more than I do, she is quite enthusiastic about this film. She is a Cagney fan, and she just loves his energy in this movie. And there is no question that Cagney is indeed the show in this one. One scene that isn't mentioned in the above review that I just love is when Cagney gives a little ventilation to someone who is complaining about not being able to breath well in the trunk of a car. Of course, he does it with the use of a gun.
 
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I'm pretty much in agreement with the above review. "White Heat" is one of those movies that we will watch anytime we find it on television. While I think it is very good, there is no question in my mind that my wife likes it even more than I do, she is quite enthusiastic about this film. She is a Cagney fan, and she just loves his energy in this movie. And there is no question that Cagney is indeed the show in this one. One scene that isn't mentioned in the above review that I just love is when Cagney gives a little ventilation to someone who is complaining about not being able to breath well in the trunk of a car. Of course, he does it with the use of a gun.
just reading that air conditioning scene comment made me smile.
 
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"Snowden"-Oliver Stone-2016

Laura Poitras, well known documentary film maker., made Citizen 4 which covers much of the same material.
This is available on IDMb free with commercials. It's worth a look if the subject interests you. The basics of this situation are probably known to most of you. Snowden held various positions in US intelligence and with private contractors who supplied minds to the intelligence services. What Stone's film does is to provide background and context for Snowden's actions in releasing a vast trove of secret information. Reading a bit about Snowden and watching these two films, i believe that Snowden acted from a motive of exposing the government's collection program on every American and millions of foreigners. The government's reason was to protect the US against Terrorist attacks; Snowden alleges that the material was used more as an economic/political weapon than for national security purposes.

If you have followed me so far, then you know if this subject interests you. Freedom of information and freedom from surveillance are major issues for me. Stone does a good job presenting the material, and involving the viewer. Snowden believes he is a patriot; he comes from a military family. He joined the Army, but he failed to complete Ranger training because of what appears to be epileptic seizures, but that is not reallyy made clear. He does complete CIA training in the film. His mentor, Corban O'Brien (Rhys Ivans) says to the trainees" Bombs won't stop terrorism, brains will." This film character is a composite of several real life individuals. The other major characters are real people with the exception of Hank Forrester (Nicholas Cage) who is based on a single real character who appears in the documentary.

The film cycles between making the documentary and Snowden's life before the releasing of classified and secret information. Melissa Leo plays Laura Poitras; Zach Quinto plays Glenn Greenwald, Guardian Journalist, Tom Wilkinson plays another Guardian journalist, and Joseph Gordan-Levitt plays Edward Snowden. He is excellent. Shaleen Woodley plays his long time romantic interest, Lindsay Mills.

Stone interviewed Snowden multiple times before filming began. Gordon-Levitt also met Snowden and viewed available film and talked to his family. There is agreement among journalists, the family, and critics that this is an accurate performance. The US government sought to arrest Snowden under the Espionage Act.
This is a problematic law which allows the defendant virtually no defense. This includes the defense that the government itself broke the law, Snowden ended up in Russia; he is still there. Many people believe he is a traitor. His revelations did force some changes in practices by the NSA.

This a well made film. I found it interesting and entertaining. However, it like Snowden is pretty nerdy. It is available to view for free, Another motto from the film: "Secrecy is security; security is victory."
 
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"The Borstal Boy"-Peter Sheridan-2000

Why this unknown film? I'm not really sure; I was working on a comment on "The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner" a Tony Richardson film from the early sixties. That film is also set in a Borstal (reformatory). Brendan Behan is the author of a memoir about his time in Borstal. He was won of the most important Irish writers of the 20th century. He died from drink at only 43. Talking about his early years in Dublin during the Depression he said about the struggle to survive: "To get drunk was a victory." He joined the IRA and at age 16 he went to England to set off a bomb on the Liverpool docks. He was caught and he was sentenced to a Borstal. This was at the beginning of WWII. I'm not sure how historically accurate the memoir is. My feeling is that it is accurate.
I read the memoir when it came out in the US. I hadn't thought about it for years, but watching "Loneliness..."
brought back the memories. This is a good low budget effort; it is Peter Sheridan's only feature film. It's available on YouTube.

This is a coming of age story. Shawn Hatosy plays Behan. He's been in a lot of TV series (South land, Animal Kingdom, Bosh, etc), and he does a good job. Michael York plays the warden Joyce. This is well worth viewing
and it is a good introduction to Behan.
 
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"The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"-Tony Richardson-1962

This is taken from a short story by Allan Silitoe who wrote the script. This film is part of a movement in British Cinema to tell realistic stories about lower class individuals. Richardson was known for a series of powerful films: Look Back in Anger, The Entertainer a great part by Laurence Olivier as a washed up stage performer, Taste of Honey (a commercial success filmed on location), Tom Jones, and The Loved One. Richardson is pretty much forgotten today. This film is important for several reasons; it was shot entirely on location,; it had a cast of unknowns except for Michael Redgrave who plays the head of the Borstal; the score incorporates free form jazz, and it is noted for it's classic black and white cinematography.

It was also the first major role for Tom Courtenay; he went on to leads in "Dr. Zhivago, "King Rat", "Billy Liar", and "The Dresser." He was more prominent as a stage actor; he was knighted. Courtenay plays Colin Smith a juvenile who is arrested for robbing a bakery. He is sentenced to a Borstal. The head believes that the boys can be reformed through a program of athletics. He achieves his goal of scheduling a sports day competition between the Borstal and a Local Public School, Renley. Remember in the UK, public schools are actually private schools. Colin has caught the head's eye because he is an excellent long distance runner. The big event at the sports 'day competition is a five mile cross country race for a special challenge cup.

The Cinematographer, Walter Lasselly, worked out every practice session with Richardson. The music adds another element. When he runs Colin almost feels free. The head tells him that he has great talent; he could even represent England in the Olympics. Scenes of the Borstal are intercut with scenes from the past year before he was sentenced to the Borstal.

The climax is the big race. There is a short epilog which shows one of the consequences of his performance.
The climax was much discussed. There are aspects of class conflict throughout the film. The ending is difficult for American audiences. Our mythos is that through hard work and honest effort you can succeed.
This ending offers another point of view, don't play the upper classes' game.

This is worthy of a very strong recommendation. It isn't an easy film. The resolution is not what we might hope. It's on Prime and is available for free streaming elsewhere. Take a chance on this you; won't regret it.
 
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"Manhattan Melodrama"-W.S. Van Dyke-1934

This film achieved a certain fame because it was the film Dillinger watched just before he died. It was well reviewed and had a solid showing at the box office. It won an Oscar for it's screenplay. This was the first time Myra Loy and William Powell were paired on screen. Van Dyke's next film was "The Thin Man" one of the most durable movie series in history. We have the opportunity to look at the past when viewing a film like this.

What do we see? This is a film which falls between two popular genres the gangster film and the wisecracking, fast speaking, wild comedy of that period. The three principal stars, Clark Gable (Blackie Gallagher), William Powell (Jim Wade), and Myrna Loy (Eleanor) had an ease with this material. They carried it off with style and verve. The film begins in 1904 using a historical disaster, the sinking of the excursion steamer General Sloane with over 1,000 fatalities. Two boys Blackie (Micky Rooney) and Jim (Jim Butler) were among the passengers. They were rescued by Father Joe (Leo Carillo), but their parents died. They were already friends, but this experience cemented a lifelong relationship.

The story quickly skips through their childhood, and when their adult personages meet at a heavyweight championship fight; they have chosen different life paths. Jim is an assistant district attorney, and Blackie is a successful big time gambler with his own club. Blackie has an attractive mistress, Eleanor, who because of Blackie's habit of being late spends an evening together at the Cotton Club on the night Jim is elected Manhattan D.A.. Eleanor loves Blackie, but she wants him to change his lifestyle because being a big time gambler brings him into contact with real criminals.

Eleanor leaves Blackie and marries Jim. Blackie's life has gone out of control and he commits a murder. The evidence is not compelling and he is not charged. This presents a problem for the governor's race for Jim.
The conclusion of the film is unexpected, but emotionally satisfying. The performances are excellent, and the dialogue is crisp. This is still a solid film; it is available to stream on OkRu. I liked it; for those of you who enjoy well made old films; this is a solid choice.
 

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