Sunday, September 29, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Morocco (1930) at the Aero Theatre

We enjoyed a marvelous afternoon today at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica!

The occasion was a double bill of two Marlene Dietrich films, MOROCCO (1930) and SHANGHAI EXPRESS (1932).

The movies were preceded by a wonderfully informative presentation on pre-Codes and fashion by our friend Kimberly Truhler; Kim also gave an excellent background on Dietrich's early years and her fashion colloborations with costume designer Travis Banton.

Kim blogs at GlamAmor and just accepted a position as Executive Director of the Woman's Club of Hollywood; she also has an upcoming book on film noir style.

There was a wonderful turnout at the Aero by the L.A. area classic film community, with several friends in attendance, and it was a wonderful surprise to enter the theater and discover one of our film friends from New York had come out just to attend the screenings! While she was in town she also got to attend Jeremy Arnold's 75th anniversary presentations of LAURA (1944) and DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944)! I would have loved to be able to be there.

This was my third time to see SHANGHAI EXPRESS, and I loved it all over again. This film was a big factor in finally enabling me to appreciate Dietrich's screen persona; I also love "train movies," and this film is a wonderful example. I've now seen SHANGHAI EXPRESS three times in three and a half years so I think it can safely be said that I love it! I'm sure I'd be happy to watch it again next year.

Today was my first time to see MOROCCO (1930), which was Dietrich's first American film. It was wonderfully stylish in every way. Truth to tell, the plot's not much, as the love between cabaret performer Dietrich and French Foreign Legion soldier Gary Cooper which develops in Morocco is pretty much built on nothing; they spend a lot of time staring at each other, powerfully attracted, but there's not much more to it. Meanwhile a wealthy, kind man (Adolphe Menjou) waits in the wings, hoping Dietrich will put Cooper behind her and marry him.

That really doesn't matter, though, as despite the minimal plot the movie manages to propel forward in brisk fashion, with its gorgeous leads in marvelous set pieces, with beautifully filmed fashions and fantastic art design. The viewer can stay busy simply looking around all the corners of the frame -- and was it ever spectacular on a big screen! Dietrich's famous number in a tuxedo was one of several visual high points.

Some of the other standout moments were a Dietrich-Cooper kiss behind a fan and an agitated Dietrich breaking a pearl necklace as she realizes she must know whether Cooper has survived a deployment. They were such simple moments, yet the staging made these shortest of scenes something to really remember. I had a thoroughly good time watching the film from start to finish.

Both movies today were presented in very nice-looking digital projections. I assume SHANGHAI EXPRESS was the digital restoration I first saw in 2016 at the TCM Classic Film Festival.

MOROCCO was directed by Josef von Sternberg; it was filmed by Lee Garmes and the uncredited Lucien Ballard. The running time was 92 minutes.

MOROCCO is available on DVD in Marlene Dietrich: The Glamour Collection, a five-film set which is currently a real steal on Amazon. It's also part of Criterion's box set of Dietrich-von Sternberg films or as a single title in the Universal Vault Collection.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

TCM in October: Highlights

October is just about here, so it's time for a close look at the upcoming month's schedule on Turner Classic Movies!

The October Star of the Month is Paul Muni. Over 18 Muni films will be shown on Monday evenings in October. Please note there will not be a separate Star of the Month post for October.

Wednesdays will feature a fantastic series, "Short & Sweet," spotlighting 100 movies with running times of 75 minutes or less. The films will begin each Wednesday morning and continue through prime time.

"Short & Sweet" is really my kind of series! The films are grouped in 10 different genres, including romances, Westerns, musicals, and gangster films, to name a few. I've seen many of the films in the series and will be highlighting a number of titles below.

October Thursdays will focus on "Horror Classics," while Friday nights are devoted to Godzilla movies.

October's Noir Alley films are TRAPPED (1949) on October 5th and 6th, CLASH BY NIGHT (1952) October 12th and 13th, THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942) on the 19th and 20th, and FORCE OF EVIL (1948) on October 26th/27th.

I really enjoyed TRAPPED, which was restored by UCLA; I was able to see it at both the Noir City Hollywood and Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in Palm Springs earlier this year. THIS GUN FOR HIRE with Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake is also terrific.

Saturday morning programming in October will include Traveltalk shorts, Popeye cartoons, Ruth Roman in the JUNGLE QUEEN (1945) serial, Bowery Boys films, and a slate of minor crime movies: BULLETS FOR O'HARA (1941), airing October 5th, CODE OF THE SECRET SERVICE (1939) on the 12th, ESCAPE FROM CRIME (1942) on October 19th, and EXPERIMENT ALCATRAZ (1950) on October 26th.

Finally, a reminder that the Silent Sunday Nights series is now hosted by Jacqueline Stewart, a professor from the University of Chicago.

Here are a few more of the interesting titles being shown on TCM this month. Please click any hyperlinked title to read the corresponding film review.

...There are a number of lesser-known musicals airing on Tuesday, October 1st, including Jane Powell in THE GIRL MOST LIKELY (1958). It was the final film made at RKO and includes location shooting which took place on Balboa Island here in Orange County.

...The Short & Sweet series begins on Wednesday, October 2nd, with 11 romances, followed by 10 romantic comedies. Many -- but not all -- of the films are from the pre-Code era; the first day's schedule also includes the mid-'50s film INDISCRETION OF AN AMERICAN WIFE (1954). On this day I particularly recommend George Brent and Jean Muir in the charming DESIRABLE (1934) and Warren William and Marian Marsh in the delightfully amusing BEAUTY AND THE BOSS (1932), with a fun supporting performance by Charles Butterworth. There are many more worthwhile films on that date, including UNION DEPOT (1932) and JEWEL ROBBERY (1932) to name just two more titles.

...Thursday, October 3rd, features films set in Texas, including COW COUNTRY (1953), a "darn good Western" with Edmond O'Brien leading a strong cast. A foreign version of the poster is seen here.

...Later on the 3rd, the Horror Classics kick off for the month with James Stewart, Kim Novak, and Jack Lemmon in BELL BOOK AND CANDLE (1958).

...The Godzilla films start up on Friday night, October 4th, with GODZILLA (1954), known as GOJIRA in its native Japan.

...Short & Sweet continues with Westerns and war movies on October 9th. I really like the Johnny Mack Brown Western FLAME OF THE WEST (1945), and the schedule also includes good stuff like Wild Bill Elliott in THE LONGHORN (1951) and Randolph Scott in RIDE LONESOME (1959), one of the best short Westerns ever. There's also a fascinating look at the High Sierras town of Bodie, now a ghost town but filmed when it was still inhabited in 1929 for William Wyler's HELL'S HEROES (1930), one of the earliest surviving versions of the THREE GODFATHERS story which has been filmed multiple times.

...Short & Sweet switches to war films in the evening on the 9th, including the memorable and unsettling ADDRESS UNKNOWN (1944). I saw this film starring Paul Lukas at the 2017 Noir City Film Festival; it really stays with you.

...The goofy and entertaining QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE (1958), with Zsa Zsa Gabor in the title role, will be shown October 10th.

...A tribute to George Stevens on October 11th includes several good films, including THE MORE THE MERRIER (1943). This delightful romantic comedy starring Joel McCrea, Jean Arthur, and Charles Coburn cannot be recommended too many times! Always delightful no matter how many times you've seen it...and if it's a first-time watch, the viewer is in for a real treat.

...The four-star classic LAURA (1944), with Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney leading a great cast, will be shown in prime time on Sunday, October 13th.

...A day of William Powell and Myrna Loy films on October 15th includes one of my favorite comedies, LIBELED LADY (1936), in which they costar with Spencer Tracy and Jean Harlow.

...A scheduling note, since I highlighted this film in my October Preview last summer: It appears that the Irene Dunne film IT GROWS ON TREES (1952) has been dropped from the schedule; it was originally listed for October 15th. It no longer shows up on the monthly schedule or the Pacific Time version of the daily schedule, yet as I write, it still shows up on the daily schedule for a couple other time zones. I'll be watching this issue and update this post if I learn more.

...21 gangster and film noir titles will be shown as part of Short & Sweet on October 16th. I've seen the vast majority of the movies and could happily watch the entire day's lineup! There are many short yet memorable titles on the schedule, including Ricardo Cortez, Loretta Young and Franchot Tone in William Wellman's MIDNIGHT MARY (1933), seen here; Young and James Cagney in TAXI! (1932; Joan Blondell and Chester Morris in BLONDIE JOHNSON (1933); DILLINGER (1945) with Lawrence Tierney and Anne Jeffreys; KID GLOVE KILLER (1942) with Van Heflin and Marsha Hunt; and several more terrific films.

...A marvelous October 17th birthday tribute to Jean Arthur includes the charming IF YOU COULD ONLY COOK (1935), costarring Herbert Marshall (seen at left). It's another day with several great films in a row!

...The top-notch ghostly romance THE UNINVITED (1944) airs in prime time on October 17th. Ray Milland, Gail Russell, and Ruth Hussey star.

...The classic screwball comedy MY MAN GODFREY (1936), starring William Powell and Carole Lombard, will be shown October 20th.

...Musicals and comedies are the focus of Short & Sweet on October 23rd. I love RKO's WALKING ON AIR (1936) with Ann Sothern and Gene Raymond. (TCM accidentally showed this film stretched to widescreen a few weeks ago, so I'm hoping this showing will be in the film's appropriate Academy ratio.) Also on the 23rd: THE AFFAIRS OF DOBIE GILLIS (1953) with Bobby Van, Debbie Reynolds, and Bob Fosse.

...Earlier this year I reviewed Ginger Rogers in PROFESSIONAL SWEETHEART (1933). It's airing on October 25th.

...I revisited A KISS BEFORE DYING (1956) at this year's Noir City Hollywood Festival. I especially like the mystery-solving second half of this film which stars Robert Wagner, Joanne Woodward, Jeffrey Hunter, and Virginia Leith. I'ts shown October 27th.

...An excellent day of crime films on October 29th includes Marie Windsor in DOUBLE DEAL (1950), Lawrence Tierney and Claire Trevor in BORN TO KILL (1947), and Laraine Day, Bob Cummings, and Jean Muir in AND ONE WAS BEAUTIFUL (1940).

...The final day of Short & Sweet films on October 30th showcases short mystery and horror films. Titles include the very enjoyable TROUBLE FOR TWO (1936) with Robert Montgomery and Rosalind Russell and I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943) starring Frances Dee and Tom Conway.

For more on TCM in October 2019, please visit my Quick Preview of TCM in October along with the complete online schedule posted by TCM.

Happy October viewing!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Lone Pine Film Festival Preview at Classic Movie Hub

The 30th Lone Pine Film Festival will take place this year in Lone Pine, California, running from October 10th through 13th.

This year my annual preview of the festival may be found at Classic Movie Hub. Please click over to my Western Roundup column at the Classic Movie Hub site for complete details, including lists of guests, tours, and films.

Additional information on the festival may be found at the Museum of Western Film History website, which is also linked in my Classic Movie Hub column.

As usual, I'll have complete coverage of the festival here at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings immediately after the festival concludes!

Links to my complete coverage of the last five Lone Pine Film Festivals may be found in each of these annual overview posts: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Previous Classic Movie Hub Western Roundup Column Links: June 2018; July 2018; August 2018; September 2018; October 2018; November 2018; December 2018; January 2019; February 2019; April 5, 2019; April 30, 2019; May 2019; June 2019; July 2019; August 2019.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Blindfold (1966) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Rock Hudson and Claudia Cardinale star in BLINDFOLD (1966), an engaging comedic thriller just released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

Hudson plays Dr. Bartholomew Snow, a well-known New York City psychiatrist. One morning when he's out riding in Central Park he's approached by General Prat (Jack Warden), who needs the doctor's help.

It seems one of the doctor's former patients (Alejandro Rey), a scientist in possession of top secret information, has suffered a mental breakdown. The general, fearing the man will be a target for spies from other countries due to his weakened condition, is hiding him and needs the doctor to treat him.

Dr. Snow is blindfolded every time he's taken to treat the man, so he has no idea where he is. Things quickly get stranger; the scientist's sister Vicky (Cardinale) begins snooping around the doctor's office, and a man (Guy Stockwell) who claims to be from the CIA insists he's the good guy and the general's a fake. And when Dr. Snow calls the CIA and the military trying to verify identities, no one is authorized to confirm who's legitimate...

I found BLINDFOLD to be a lot of fun, a good exemplar of a '60s suspense comedy in the style of CHARADE (1963). While not on a level with that classic Cary Grant-Audrey Hepburn thriller, BLINDFOLD is an entertaining film, well played by the leads and supporting cast. Cardinale's Jean Louis wardrobe, the Lalo Schifrin musical score, and the widescreen Panavision shots of New York all combine in the best kind of way to stamp the film as a glamorous product of the '60s.

Hudson and Cardinale have nice chemistry as a battling twosome who are also wildly attracted to one another; a scene where she wrestles her apartment key out of his hand as they kiss, each then retreating in stunned amazement, is a winner. Dr. Snow has been engaged half a dozen previous times, but when he is forced to announce a fake engagement to Vicky as a cover, ironically it turns out that's the engagement he'd like for keeps. (Of course, it's Claudia Cardinale!)

I especially liked that Cardinale isn't a damsel in distress but pitches right in battling the bad guys, including a very well-placed kick out a window. With the charming Hudson and/or Cardinale onscreen for the majority of the film, what's not to like?

Anne Seymour is an absolute treat as the doctor's wisecracking loyal secretary. Her presence classes up the film and lifts it into the "better than average" category. Likewise Warden is amusing as the general; he's such a nice, funny guy you can't believe he'd be a villain, but stranger things have happened. Stockwell is also good as the stuttering CIA man.

Vicky's warm family (including Angela Clarke, John Megna, and Vito Scotti) and the way they embrace Dr. Snow rather called to mind THE MIDNIGHT STORY (1957), a crime film which starred Tony Curtis and Marisa Pavan.

Also along for the ride: Hari Rhodes as a captain working for the general, and Brad Dexter as a dimwitted policeman. Ted Knight of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW plays another doctor who becomes involved in the case. Ned Glass is also in the cast.

BLINDFOLD runs 102 minutes. It was directed by Philip Dunne, from a script written by Dunne and W.H. Menger. The script was based on a novel by Lucille Fletcher.

The movie was filmed in Technicolor by Joseph MacDonald.

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray includes the BLINDFOLD trailer and five additional trailers, along with an image gallery. The widescreen print looks very good, and the sound is excellent.

Coming soon: A review of another '60s suspense film just released by Kino Lorber, MIRAGE (1965), starring Gregory Peck and Diane Baker.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Man of Iron (1935) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Barton MacLane stars as the MAN OF IRON (1935), released on DVD earlier this year by the Warner Archive.

MAN OF IRON is a short 61-minute "B" drama from Warner Bros. MacLane plays Chris Bennett, a factory shop foreman who is greatly appreciated by the owner, Harrison Balding (Joe King). Balding promotes Chris to general manager, which leaves the current assistant manager, Tanahill (John Eldredge), none too happy. Tanahill and secretary Vida (Mary Astor) conspire to undermine Chris in his new role.

Despite the lack of support from Tanahill and Vida, Chris's boss is happy with his work and promotes Chris to Vice President. Then the real trouble begins, as Chris gets a little too big for his britches and neglects his work in order to invest his time in building a large house. (Future cowboy star "Wild" Bill Elliott, billed as Gordon Elliott, plays the architect!) Chris's wife Bessie (Dorothy Peterson) isn't happy with the overspending, and meanwhile problems at the factory begin to snowball...

It gets a bit old when Chris doesn't wise up and neglects his work too long in the last third of the film; you'd think a working man smart enough to rate repeated promotions would have the common sense to stayed focused.

Otherwise I enjoyed this film pretty well; it's nothing especially memorable but provides a pleasant hour for those who appreciate minor films of the era. Chris and Bessie have a nice supportive relationship, and I enjoyed the cast, which also included Craig Reynolds, Joe Sawyer, Joseph Crehan, and John Qualen.

Curiously, Mary Astor's role is a completely nothing part, to the point where I wondered if some of her scenes were left on the cutting-room floor. It seemed like quite a small, inconsequential role for someone who had starred in numerous films to this point; perhaps she wasn't working at the time this was made and the studio wanted to be sure they were getting their money's worth out of her contract!

I find the publicity still seen here rather hilarious, as they threw Astor into a photo dramatizing a scene where Chris rescues a coworker from an accident. Astor had nothing to do with the sequence in the actual movie; audiences sold on seeing the film after seeing a photo like this must have been surprised at how little she has to do in the movie.

The movie was directed by William C. McGann and filmed by L.W. O'Connell.

The Warner Archive DVD is a bit soft but all in all a solid print with good sound. There are no extras on the disc.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Tonight's Movie: The Spoilers (1942) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott, and John Wayne star in the rip-roaring Alaskan adventure film THE SPOILERS (1942), which was just released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

The movie is also known as REX BEACH'S THE SPOILERS; the screenplay by Lawrence Hazard and Tom Reed was based on Beach's 1906 novel. This is, in fact, one of multiple film versions of the story; a fascinating bit of trivia is that William Farnum, who plays Wayne's lawyer, had played Wayne's character in a 1914 film version, nearly three decades before!

Wayne is billed third, under both Dietrich and Scott, but proves to be the true leading man, starring as Roy Glennister. It's 1900, and Roy's return to the rough and rowdy mining town of Nome, Alaska, is anxiously awaited by saloon owner Cherry Malotte (Dietrich).

Cherry, who's head over heels for Roy, has an unpleasant surprise when Roy gets off the boat with lovely Helen Chester (Margaret Lindsay), whose uncle (Samuel S. Hinds) is a judge arriving to adjudicate mine claims.

Cherry fears that the "respectable" Helen will steal Roy away, but while Roy isn't above exchanging a kiss or two with Helen, Cherry is the woman he's serious about.

Moreover, unbeknownst to everyone, Helen isn't the nice girl she appears to be; she and her uncle are part of a gang of crooks -- the "spoilers" of the title -- in cahoots with mining commissioner Alex McNamara (Scott) and Attorney Stuve (Charles Halton) to rob the miners. Their biggest target: The rich mine owned by Roy and his partner Dextry (Harry Carey Sr.).

The battle for the mine is played out alongside a three-way battle for Cherry's affections between Roy, Alex, and Cherry's right-hand man Bronco (Richard Barthelmess). It all comes to a head in an exciting slam-bang fistfight between Roy and Alex.

I love Wayne and Scott but somehow had never seen this film before, nor any other version of the story. I found the movie quite engaging, with well-delineated characters, a good story and dialogue, and an interesting setting. Most of all, it has the star power of its three leads; they're all good but for my money it's Wayne who lights up the screen every time he walks in the room. I found both Wayne and the movie quite a treat.

If the name Cherry Malotte sounds familiar, it was also the name of the woman of "ill repute" in another movie I recently reviewed, THE SILVER HORDE (1930). It too was based on a Beach novel and set in Alaska; in that one Cherry, played by Evelyn Brent, ended up with Boyd Emerson (Joel McCrea). It seems to be a case of the same character being used by the author in two completely different stories.

Dietrich, as Cherry, is all one would expect; this may be the wild north, but Dietrich is dressed to the nines in glamorous gowns and fancy hairstyles, beautifully filmed by Milton Krasner. She's quite good, whether she's trading barbed dialogue with Scott or mooning over whether Wayne has found himself a more respectable gal. A scene where she quietly wipes away a tear over Roy is quite moving.

The excellent supporting cast includes the always-delightful Marietta Canty as Cherry's maid, with Russell Simpson, George Cleveland, and Forrest Taylor among the large cast.

THE SPOILERS was released by Universal Pictures in June 1942; Universal then quickly reteamed the trio of Wayne, Scott, and Dietrich in PITTSBURGH (1942), released in December '42. PITTSBURGH was also just released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber; look for a review here in the near future. (Update: Here it is!) Kino Lorber is certainly making Dietrich fans happy of late, having also recently released A FOREIGN AFFAIR (1948), which I reviewed here earlier this month.

THE SPOILERS was directed by Ray Enright. It runs 87 well-paced minutes. Location shooting included Lake Arrowhead, California.

I'm looking forward to listening to Toby Roan's commentary in the near future. Other extras on the Kino Lorber Blu-ray are the trailer, a trailer gallery for seven additional films, and an image gallery.

The print and sound quality are excellent. This is a very nice release of an entertaining film which will be enjoyed by classic film fans in general and Wayne and Dietrich fans in particular. Recommended.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.

Tonight's Movies: Hit Parade of 1941 (1940), Crooked Streets (1920), and Chatterbox (1943) at Cinecon

And finally, a look at my final day at this year's Cinecon Classic Film Festival!

I spent Labor Day at Cinecon 55 watching a trio of films back to back: HIT PARADE OF 1941 (1940), CROOKED STREETS (1920), and CHATTERBOX (1943). It was a fairly diverse lineup, starting off with a musical, then going back in time a couple of decades for a silent suspense film, then jumping back to the '40s for a comedy.

HIT PARADE OF 1941 was in my top three favorites of the nine films I saw at the festival. It was right up my alley, with great singing (Frances Langford) and marvelous dancing (Ann Miller). It even had a touch of the WWII-era "Good Neighbor Policy" promoting our allies to the south, which I'm always interested to run into in early '40s films; in this case there was a South American themed fashion show and dance.

The plot is a bunch of lightweight yet engaging silliness, thanks to the talented cast. A ding-a-ling business owner (Hugh Herbert) buys the radio station which plays the show where he's been advertising and tries to make a success of it. This includes also broadcasting the latest craze -- television!

Another station sponsor, department store owner Emily Potter (Mary Boland), agrees to pay for a TV show to showcase her daughter Annabelle (Miller) and her singing talent. The only problem is, Annabelle doesn't have much singing ability, despite many lessons -- but she's a heck of a dancer!

Foreshadowing SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952) a dozen years later, station manager David (Kenny Baker) persuades lovely radio singer Pat Abbott (Langford) to dub Annabelle's singing voice. Annabelle becomes a huge TV singing star, but Pat's sister Judy (Patsy Kelly) becomes increasingly frustrated with Pat being hidden in the background, especially as Pat loves David but he's often too busy promoting Annabelle to spend time with her.

Judy deliberately exposes the dubbing hoax during a telecast, but all's well that ends well, as Pat and Annabelle can each now be appreciated for their true talents.

I wondered when I watched this if anyone behind SINGIN' IN THE RAIN had seen this film, as there were definitely a couple of parallels. It was quite a fun movie, with faces like Phil Silvers, Sterling Holloway, Franklin Pangborn, Donald MacBride, and Barnett Parker in support of the leads. Herbert manages to be slightly less annoying than usual, and Boland is quite amusing as the dimwitted store owner.

Langford is a joy to hear singing, and it boggles the mind that dancing dynamo Ann Miller was just 17 when she made this! She's lovely; her dark coloring and hairstyle in this made me think of Snow White.

The movie received two Oscar nominations, including an Original Song nomination for Jule Styne and Walter Bullock's "Who Am I?"

HIT PARADE OF 1941 was an 88-minute Republic Pictures film directed by John H. Auer and filmed in black and white by Jack Marta. The movie was later shown on TV as ROMANCE AND RHYTHM, as seen in a poster above.

For more on this very enjoyable film check out Mark Fertig's 2012 review at Cin-Eater.

CROOKED STREETS was a real change of pace, but I also found it an entertaining time, accompanied by live piano music.

Gail Ellis (Ethel Clayton, a new name for me) applies for a job serving as secretary to an antique dealer (Clyde Fillmore) and they travel to Shanghai, along with the dealer's wife (Josephine Crowell) and adult son (Clarence Geldart).

Gail has a mysterious reason for wanting to make the trip to such an exotic place, and when she explores the more dangerous parts of the city she runs into difficulty. Gallant Britishman Rupert O'Dare (Jack Holt) battles a nasty French sailor (Frederick Starr) to rescue Gail.

It will later turn out that Gail repays the favor and rescues Rupert, but I won't spoil the rest of the story...there are some fun plot turns.

This was quite a fun watch, with great atmosphere. I'm sure this was the earliest film I've been Holt in, and I was amused that he played a Brit -- since it was silent, the lack of an accent didn't matter! Clayton was very good as the enterprising, determined Gail.

CROOKED STREETS was directed by Paul Powell and filmed by William Marshall. It ran 63 minutes. The movie was produced by Famous Players-Lasky Corporation and distributed by Paramount-Artcraft Pictures.

My final film of the day was CHATTERBOX, a Republic Pictures comedy starring Joe E. Brown and Judy Canova. (A side note, this film has no connection to a 1936 Anne Shirley film of the same name.) The movie was introduced by Canova's daughter Julieta. Incidentally, some readers may be more familiar with Canova's other daughter, actress Diana Canova, known for the '70s comedy SOAP.

I was a bit dubious about seeing this film, as Brown and Canova are known for the kind of broad slapstick comedy which doesn't appeal to me, but it proved to be a reasonably entertaining 77 minutes.

Brown plays Rex Vane, a radio cowboy who's signed to a movie contract but doesn't know the first thing about actually being a cowboy.

When Rex runs into trouble riding a horse at a personal appearance, he's saved by Judy (Canova). The public is dismayed to learn Rex can't ride, so the studio attempts to salvage the film Rex has signed to make by cashing in on publicity and casting Judy as his leading lady.

There were some pretty funny scenes, especially when Judy, who can't act, is asked to emote the line "My lover, he's been shot!" Her repeated deadpan deliveries had me in stitches. Canova brought a certain sensitivity to the role, along with the comedy, and I enjoyed her in this more than I expected.

A longish sequence with Brown and other actors in drag was less amusing, but I liked the movie's Western filmmaking theme and overall it was a pretty good time.

I was drawn to the film in part by some of the supporting cast members, but they all received relatively short shrift. Rosemary Lane had a decent amount of screen time, including setting up the final set piece with Rex and Judy endangered by explosions, but her role didn't really take advantage of her talents, including her singing ability.

Similarly, the Mills Bros. are in the film, but their appearance was quite short, singing at a cookout.

A young Anne Jeffreys was prominently billed, her 11th film released in a bit more than a year, but she was little more than an extra. I think she had one line near the end! Her next film was CALLING WILD BILL ELLIOTT (1943), which I recently wrote about for Classic Movie Hub, and from there her career began to pick up speed, with numerous leads in "B" films and increasing prominence in films such as DILLINGER (1945).

CHATTERBOX was directed by Joseph Santley and filmed in black and white by Ernest Miller. Some of the scenes were filmed in the familiar environs of Iverson Ranch in Southern California.

I had a terrific time in my 48 hours at this year's Cinecon, enjoying nine films, a two-reeler short, and a cartoon. I hope to attend again in 2020!

Friday, September 20, 2019

Last Night at Disney California Adventure: Oogie Boogie Bash

A week ago we took our first look at Disneyland's 2019 Halloween Time decorations, and last night we had a wonderful experience at the Oogie Boogie Bash at Disney California Adventure.

This is the party's first year in Disney California Adventure. Like Mickey's Halloween Party in Disneyland, which we attended three years ago, the Oogie Boogie Bash is a separately ticketed private party with several entertainment options which are only available at the party.

Buena Vista Street is all decked out for Halloween Time!

During the party there are "trick or treat" trails all over the park; each trail has several bins of candy, and the cast members put generous handfuls in each bag as guests pass by. By the end of the night guests can collect a rather amazing amount of candy to take home.

Some of the trails have characters midway through who interact with the guests, including Maleficent from SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959), Dr. Facilier from THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG (2009), and (seen here) the Mad Hatter from Tim Burton's ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2010).

One of the first things we did was catch Mickey's Trick & Treat show in the Disney Theater. It was fun simply because all the little costumed kids were so excited dancing and interacting with Mickey and the gang! And they passed out more candy at the end!

The Guardians of the Galaxy ride with its seasonal Monsters After Dark overlay was a "walk-on"! I only go on this ride every two or three years, as it's pretty intense, but I couldn't resist riding it without a line, and it was a lot of fun.

After dark the Treat Trails had these glowing signs to lead guests to even more candy!

Hollywood Boulevard spookily lit as dark descended...

The Headless Horseman's arrival signifies that it's almost time for the Halloween parade! Speaking of the Headless Horseman, next month I'll be attending a very special event on the Disney Studios lot, "Mostly Ghostly," which will include a screening of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" from THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD (1949).

We really enjoyed the Frightfully Fun Parade. While the party was well attended (sold out, in fact), it was nice that the crowd levels were lower than a typical busy day at the park, which made it easier to enjoy things like the parade.

The Haunted Mansion float:

And the dragon from SLEEPING BEAUTY! Our daughter took this shot, as well as several other photos seen in this post.

The Carthay Circle...

...which periodically featured some amazing animation making it look as though the building was crumbling!

Loved the spooky fog effects seen at Grizzly Rapids:

The misty Villains Grove at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail was a remarkable walk-through light and effects show. My favorite part was a Queen of Hearts display with red roses everywhere...and the area even smelled of roses!

The Cheshire Cat grinning near the Queen of Hearts display:

Some of the beautiful lights in the trees.

At the very end of the grove, the lights change to a more tranquil look, giving the effect that you're walking out of the spooky darkness and into a beautiful, peaceful light...very effective!

Our evening concluded with the brand-new Villainous! World of Color water show on Paradise Bay, which we very much enjoyed.

We had an absolutely wonderful evening and were able to do everything on our "must" lists. We really felt we got our money's worth! This year's parties are completely sold out, but I recommend it for guests who may be able to attend in future years. (Tip: September parties are a lower price than the parties in October, hence our early celebration of the holiday!)

Early wishes to my readers for a happy and fun Halloween!

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