Monday, October 15, 2007

Recent movies - The Thin Man, Double Indemnity, Galipoli, Lake Placid

The Thin Man (1934) - Loved it! I'm probably just going to be repeating the same reasons everyone else gives for loving this series, but I'm new, so bear with me. The couple, Nick and Nora, have such delightful chemistry, and their quirks and mannerisms come off as genuine rather than forced, which really helps the charm of the movie. The murder-mystery part of the story does indeed play second-fiddle to watching these characters do their thing. Nick is like a jovial/drunk Sam Spade. He's still a bad mo' (disarming thugs and dodging bullets), but he never let's it get him down. Nora is really cute. Making faces at her husband, pushing him into danger for her own amusement, insulting his friends. Excellent. It was also funny seeing this in-love couple sleeping in separate beds.

Amy and I will be checking out the rest of the series, no doubt.

Double Indemnity (1944) - Somehow I've managed to avoid seeing any movie with either Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, or Edward G. Robinson up to this point. I like Edward G. Robinson a lot, based on his performance here. Barbara Stanwyck, too, was perfect. Fred MacMurray I'm less jazzed about. Hearing him talk got a bit old after a while. He chose a speaking rhythm and never deviated from it, to the point where I could turn on the sub-titles and mimic his delivery perfectly without hearing him do it first. A bit too much of the "fast talk."

The movie is not happy, but very well put together. They (the murderous couple) really sell you on their plot, so you think, "It's fool proof! They'll get away scot-free!", and then Robinson sells you just the opposite direction, and you realize how much Stanwyck and MacMurray overlooked.

Galipoli (1981) - I added this to my queue ages ago, so when it finally arrived, I couldn't remember why I added it. Then, as it started, I realized it was directed by Peter Weir. I think that was part of it, though the unique WWI-from-the-Australian-perspective probably had something to do with it, too.

**minor spoilers ahead**

Gosh, sad movie. It begins very upbeat and adventurous, celebrating life and friendship, and then ends so tragically. Weir describes it as an anti-war film in the making-of, but, along with Paths of Glory, it seems less anti-war and more anti-trench-war and anti-a-hole-military-commanders. Seriously, how many times did awful pointless "everyone over the the wall to your death for absolutely nothing gained!" moments happen in WWI? In both movies, the hero characters are not against war, but they are against military hubris and pointlessly sending men to their deaths. Weir doesn't address the reasons behind the war much. He seems mostly interested in the fact that it was Australia's first time fighting, and that many of the best and brightest young men never returned.

Lake Placid (1999) - Fun movie! Bear vs. crocodile = awesome. What ever happened to Oliver Platt? He's pretty funny here. And Bill Pullman? Brendan Gleason tries desperately to cover up his accent, but it's hard not to hear it.


Sher said...

The Thin Man movies are some of my favorites! You think they're funny when they have a dog, wait until they have a kid! :)

jeri said...

Platt is a severely underrated actor and is always such a delight to watch!

I don't know why, but I've always had an aversion to Barbara Stanwyck, even in childhood. I know I saw that movie ages ago, but don't remember it. Maybe I need to give her another try. I used to hate Katherine Hepburn too, but I think I've gotten over that.

Nobody said...

Last spring I caught myself up on a few essential film noirs including this one, The Big Sleep, and The Postman Always Rings Twice. Everyone cites Double Indemnity as the quintessential film noir but I just didn't buy MacMurray as simultaneously super cool (VO, one-handed match-striking) and a naive insurance salesman.

Did he become so world-weary that by the time he left the dictaphone confession he was suddenly capable of delivering a hard boiled voice over? Admittedly my childhood image of MacMurray is from his 60s comedies like The Absent Minded Professor and The Shaggy Dog, but there's a reason why Disney put him in so many of his movies.

I also have an aversion to both Stanwyck and K. Hepburn, and as for Indemnity I just don't think Stanwyck is attractive enough to be a femme fatale! She was pretty enough in the 1920s but in the 40s she was more witch than bewitching.

That leaves Edward G. Robinson to steal the show, and he does, especially with his memorable suicide speech. You must have seen him in a movie before without realizing it, Ryan. You've never seen The Ten Commandments?

In any case I think you'd like the other James M. Cain adaptation, The Postman Always Rings Twice, much more. The story has more surprises and Stanwyck can't hold a candle to Lana Turner.

Ryan said...

The Big Sleep is in my queue, but I'll have to add The Postman Always Rings twice.

I forgot to mention MacMurray's one-handed no-box match-striking. That was awesome, and I want to know how to do that.

I have seen The Ten Commandments, and as soon as I read that, I got this flash image of Robinson as Pharaoh. Is that right? Checking IMDB...

No, Yul Brynner was Pharaoh. Robinson did have an Egyptian head-piece, though, so at least I remembered the image correctly.

I perused Robinson's IMDB listing, and I think that those are the only movies of his I've seen! I haven't seen any of his early gangster flicks like Little Caesar.

Nobody said...

I just came across a list of 30 introductory films noir that is as good a list as any other I've seen. Appropriately, two-thirds are from the 1940s and 12 just from 1944-46.