Monthly Archives: July 2010

Metropolis

Directed by Fritz Lang
Produced by Erich Pommer
Written by Thea von Harbou
Fritz Lang (uncredited)
Starring Alfred Abel
Brigitte Helm
Gustav Fröhlich
Rudolf Klein-Rogge
Music by Gottfried Huppertz (original version)
Cinematography Karl Freund, Günther Rittau &Walter Ruttmann
Distributed by UFA (Germany)
Paramount Pictures (US)
Release date 10 January 1927 (Germany) [1]
6 March 1927 (US)
Running time 153 minutes/24 frame/s
(German premiere cut)
114 minutes/25 frame/s
(1927 US cut version)
Country Germany
Language Silent film
German intertitles

Metropolis is a film that features some incredible visuals. The art-deco inspired backgrounds look very stunning as well. As for the content of the film itself, well I am not so sure. A lot of the time I wasn’t exactly sure of what was going on, and a lot of the characters seemed to be really quite stupid, especially Joh Frederson the industrialist/dictator. I did enjoy some of the facia; expressions shown by the actress Brigitte Helm when she was the Machine Man, intent on causing chaos and destrucion and the scenes of her dancing as well. One thing that helps make these sort of scenes look amusing is the fact that silent films run at a different speed to talkies, so the action goes a little faster


Images I Rejected

Here are a few of the images I was going to use for an upcoming post on Hollywood heart-throbs, but decided to reject. Guess if you can see why…

Rosie O'Donnell

Rasputin

L. Ron Hubbard Jr.

Rock Hudson

Ron Jeremy


Boys Town

Directed by Norman Taurog
Produced by John W. Considine Jr.
Written by Dore Schary, Eleanore Griffin & John Meehan
Starring Spencer Tracy
Mickey Rooney
Henry Hull
Music by Edward Ward
Cinematography Sidney Wagner
Editing by Elmo Veron
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date 9 September 1938
Running time 96 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Boys Town is a hard film to review for me because although I thought it was a great story, and Spencer Tracy’s fine portrayal of Father Flannigan was pretty good, there was one element that almost ruined the film for me. I am talking about Mickey Rooney’s performance as Whitey Marsh.

I have seen a few Mickey Rooney films and know that he can be quite a ham, but here his over-acting really affected my enjoyment of the film. The part really could have used a little subtlety instead of Mickey trying to steal every scene when he really didn’t have to. Perhaps I could put it down to him just being 18 at the time he made this film BUT… he had been acting in vaudeville and movies all his life so there shouldn’t be an excuse. Perhaps because Tracy’s  portrayal of Father Flannigan is very understated the director wanted to have the Mickster play his part way OTT.


The Girl Can’t Help It

Directed by Frank Tashlin
Produced by Frank Tashlin
Written by Frank Tashlin & Herbert Baker
Starring Tom Ewell
Jayne Mansfield
Edmond O’Brien
Music by Bobby Troup
Cinematography Leon Shamroy
Editing by James B. Clark
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date December 1, 1956
Running time 99 min
Country United States
Language English

The Girl Can’t Help It is an interesting film for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was one of the first rock ‘n’ roll movies and featured performances by Little Richard, Gene Vincent and others. In fact this film was the inspiration for a couple of Liverpool lads to get decide to become rock stars too. Apparently some guy named John Lennon was obsessed with the film and seeing all of his heroes on the big screen, while another guy, Paul McCartney impressed Lennon with his impression of Eddie Cochran’s performance of Twenty Flight Rock  from this movie. They started their own band which later became known as the Beatles or something. You may have heard of them.

The film was directed by Frank Tashlin, who as I have previously said started off directing cartoons for Warner Bros. He brings a few cartoony gag including one that I found quite funny and was a little rude. I am talking about the scene where Jayne Mansfield walks past the milkman and the lids of the milk bottles pop off and the milk starts coming out.

The film’s star is Jayne Mansfield who really was nothing more than a Marilyn Monroe wannabe. This may seem a bit harsh but it looks as though she was told in this film to act as much like Marilyn as possible, as that is all she does. Mansfield was not really known for her acting ability but for something else, as Sophia Loren can see in the picture here. Let’s just say that her bosoms were bigger than her talent. Later in her career Mansfield became more well-known for her wardrobe malfunctions than any of the movies that she made. She later appeared in a film called Promises! Promises! where she became the first mainstream film star since the early 30s to appear on film in the nude, thanks to the demise of the Hays Code. Jayne’s daughter is Mariska Hargitay, who plays Olivia Benson on Law & Order SVU. You can certainly see the resemblance between the two, especially in the facial features.

As for the film, it is funny and entertaining and the music is great but it is a bit dated.


The Naughty Nineties

Directed by Jean Yarbrough
Produced by John Grant & Edmund L. Hartmann
Written by Edmund L. Hartmann, John Grant, Edmund Joseph &
Hal Fimberg
Starring Bud Abbott
Lou Costello
Alan Curtis
Rita Johnson
Music by Lloyd Akridge & Paul Dessau
Editing by Arthur Hilton
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date June 20, 1945
Running time 76 min
Language English

This is one of Abbott & Costello’s funniest films and includes a few of their better known sketches, including Who’s On First.

I’d recommend the film just on the basis that it contains Who’s On First as it’s probably one of the best film comic routines ever. (I do know that A&C did do it in an earlier film and that a lot of their material was recycled over and over again, but I really don’t care!)


The Ghost Breakers

Directed by George Marshall
Produced by Arthur Hornblow, Jr.
Written by Walter DeLeon
Starring Bob Hope
Paulette Goddard
Richard Carlson
Paul Lukas
Music by Ernst Toch
Cinematography Charles B. Lang
Editing by Ellsworth Hoagland
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date June 21, 1940
Running time 83 min.
Country United States
Language English

The Ghost Breakers is another one of the 1940s comedy/horror films that were made during that time. (I realise that this sentence sounds awkward) This one starred Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard and is a sequel of sorts to the haunted house comedy The Cat And The Canary from a year earlier.

While it probably wasn’t as funny as Abbott & Costello’s similar type film Hold That Ghost, this film did have a few more scary scenes in it. Hope has a few good lines and is quite funny but I found Goddard’s performance to be a little disappointing, especially when compared to her other big role from 1940 in The Great Dictator. My favourite role of Goddard’s so far is in Modern Times. In The Ghost Breakers she has a few good scenes but doesn’t really do anything funny. I guess you could stereotype her role as standard damsel in distress.

The Ghost Breakers was still quite an enjoyable film to watch and one that I enjoyed a lot.


Monkey Business

Directed by Norman Z. McLeod
Produced by Herman J. Mankiewicz (uncredited)
Written by S. J. Perelman & Will B. Johnstone
Starring Groucho Marx
Harpo Marx
Chico Marx
Zeppo Marx
Thelma Todd
Music by John Leipold (uncredited)
Cinematography Arthur L. Todd
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date 19 September 1931
Running time 77 minutes
Country United States
Language English

This is the third film that the Marx Bros. made, the one that features them as stowaways on a ship. The film is perhaps a bit more chaotic that the later Marx films but it still has some funny moments. Perhaps the most well known scene in this film is this one…

The only real downer in the film comes in the last fifteen minutes when Chico has his obligatory piano recital and Harpo plucks the harp. Then again these things happen in all Marx Bros. films and one can always press the fast forward button. You can at least be thankful that there is no lame crooner taking up screen time from the Brothers’ antics, which would happen when they went to MGM.

It is a great film although not quite as funny as Duck Soup.

It’s currently available from Target for less than $10 and has just been re-released by Universal as part of their Studio Classics range.


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