Sonntag, 29. April 2012

I am sorry..

Dear, dear followers!

I have to ask you to forgive me for I was very lazy this month. Actually I always watch a film before doing a review here - and for I watched soleley about one classic Hollywood film this month and wasn't overwhelmed at all by it there was nothing I could have written about which would have been of your interest. 

Otherwise I watched only tons of German films or newer ones - so you see I simply had nothing to write about for this blog. I also had some private problems to deal with which kept me from writing stuff I did not feel at that time. 

I hope I can make good some other time. 
Thank you for those who visited this blog - and thank you very much, Monty, for writing two posts this month. 


Sonntag, 15. April 2012

Let's watch.. .. LILIES OF THE FIELD (1963)

Excellent film with Sidney Poitier in an Oscar winning performance as Homer Smith, an ex-GI now traveling contractor. Homer is making his way through a small town in Arizona when his car overheats. He pulls into a place and encounters a group of East German Catholic nuns led by the strict Mother Superior Maria (Lilia Skala). All Homer wants is some water for his radiator but he ends up staying at the request of Mother Maria to help out around the place. And when Mother Maria asks him to build a chapel cause she thinks God has sent him for that task, Homer reluctantly agrees. Lilies of the Field is a wonderful film mixing drama with some humor and a great performance by Mr. Poitier. I used to think Sidney's best acting work was in Guess Who's Coming To Dinner. I stand corrected, Lilies is by far his best work and he deservedly was named Best Actor for 1963. He makes Homer such an engaging character that most people can identify with. And all the actresses portraying the nuns give worthy performances also. Lilies is a small but immensely enjoyable film. One of the best scenes in the film is when Homer teaches the nuns how to sing an old time church hymn called Amen. It's heavenly, rousing, and funny all at once. A great music score by Jerry Goldsmith is a plus also. Add this to Poitier's list of films that he made in the 1960's and you have one of the best stretches of film acting ever delivered. His other films during this period include A Raisin in the Sun (1961); The Bedford Incident (1965); To Sir, With Love (1967); Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967); and In The Heat Of The Night (1967). All equally impressive films during a six year span. And Lilies is right up there with them.

Check out this wonderful scene from a wonderful film..

Donnerstag, 12. April 2012

Let's watch.. ..TOBACCO ROAD (1941)

You might remember the star of last month.. Gene Tierney..  – today I will present one directed by John Ford she did in the beginning of her career - and which actually deals a bit with religion:


The Great Depression has left people poor and disappointed.  Jeeter Lester (Charley Grapewin) and his family are living in Tobacco Road – one of the poorest places. The Jeeters live by stealing and so do their neighbours – to work on their farms is too straining and frequently postponed. When the new owner of their land ask for $100 rent for the farm for one year the Jeeters have to face the possibility to live at the poor farm – which is horrifying (They would have to bath before they get something to eat! Awful..) The Lester children are no help either: Ellie May (Gene Tierney) and Dude (William Tracy) are not too smart – and while Ellie May is very much interested in her brother-in-law Lov (Ward Bond) who has frequently troubles with his wife Pearl, Dude marries Sister Bessie (Marjorie Rambeau) a religious woman who is almost twice his age – but has enough money to buy him a car with a wonderful horn..

~ young love.. wily William Tracy and wonderful Marjorie Rambeau ~

TOBACCO ROAD is based on a play – which is based on the novel by Erskine Caldwell (who also wrote GOD'S LITTLE ACRE). I can’t tell you about the play – but the book I have read. Just by the way: It is set in Georgia – near to Augusta. For obvious reasons the scenes which contained sex – and I guess that’s one aspect that made Erskine Caldwell’s books so successful.. – are now much tamer: The scene in which the Lester Family is stealing Lov’s turnips just shows Gene Tierney’s character almost in a kiss with Lov. It’s very well done and has actually some eroticism in it (Gene Tierney and Ward Bond did a very good job here..) – but in the book they are doing things which made Lov much more distracted..

~ this picture is a publicity still - in the film Ward Bond and Gene Tierney are much MUCH closer to earth.. ~

Another very Hollywood-natural change: in the book Ellie Mae has a harelip (that’s why Lov didn’t want her for his wife in the first place and took Pearl.) – of course in this film Ellie Mae is beautiful but simply a bit dirty..
~ ... that's how an ugly woman looks in Hollywood..  ~

But this film isn’t after all a typical Hollywood glamour comedy – the Lesters are very canny (I think this is a characteristic which is supposed to be typical for every country folk all over the world..)  but due to Jeeter’s laziness  their home is quite rotten. Another typicall thing for Erskine Caldwell’s books is used in this film, too: Most Hollywood films take Religion for a higher thing – here it is mostly used by the characters to get what they’re longing for – to manipulate. It’s the overall argument for everything. Unlike the book the film has almost a happy-end though I fear that after six month Jeeter and his wife (Elizabeth Patterson) have again to pack their things and leave their farm..
The only character in this who is a little bit more cultivated, mannered and nice is a minor character played by Dana Andrews - but his character isn't that poor - so maybe that's the cause for that..

~ Charley Grapewin as Jeeter Lester ~

If you’re okay with partly overacting characters (I won’t blame the actors because I think this is caused in the story) and a very much cynical way to look at live: I highly recommend this film – people who prefer good manners and lovely personas will be deeply disappointed. 

Enjoy the show, please!



Dienstag, 3. April 2012

Let's watch...ELMER GANTRY (1960)

 Burt Lancaster is all fire and brimstone as a traveling salesman who crosses path with a lady preacher named Sharon Falconer (played by Jean Simmons in an Award worthy performance) and becomes part of her traveling roadshow. Burt gives a showy and deserving Oscar winning performance as Gantry, who manages to smooth talk just about everyone he meets. But his past catches up with him later on in the form of Lulu Bains, a prostitute (played by Shirley Jones, who won an Oscar for her work here) who brings down her fury on Gantry in the final act. It's hard to mix religion and film and come away with everything working so well. The three leads: Lancaster, Simmons, and Jones are all top notch. There is also strong support from Arthur Kennedy as a local newspaper man who doesn't fall for Gantry's theatrics. I liked Elmer Gantry. It doesn't beat you over the head with the ideas of religion but does make you think about all the things that go along with it. All the music, preaching, etc combine to make a very solid film.
Jean Simmons in Elmer Gantry
Burt Lancaster & Jean Simmons in in Elmer Gantry
Shirley Jones in Elmer Gantry
Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry
Shirley Jones & Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry
 I do believe Simmons was overlooked by the Academy by not even being nominated for her amazing performance as Sister Sharon. Her scenes preaching to the masses will hook you in immediately with her soft and delicate features but strong and commanding voice. Jones part was small but very effective. She doesn't enter the film until about 90 minutes in, but makes quite the impression as Lulu. She is very smart and very capable of taking down anyone who wrongs her such as Gantry did in their past. And finally Lancaster is top notch with this show stopping role that lets him cut loose with some big attention grabbing scenes and also with some quieter effective moments as well. If you have never seen Elmer Gantry, you need to check it out.

 Count our lucky stars


Sonntag, 1. April 2012

This month at The Show

Again this month will have a theme - and we decided to feature films which deal with religion. No matter which religion - and maybe they won't even be classic religious film but have characters which are priests or nuns  or god(desse)s - or have some other connection to this month's theme..

Ava Gardner - as Venus herself.. 

 And of course those classics like THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956) etc will be featured also..

Just by the way: Our covergirl for this month is dancer Agnes de Mille.

Have a wonderful month!

Enjoy the Show!!