Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"You've got the cutest little...holy crap!"

"Babyface." This is the movie I'm currently mini-obsessed with. I got the Turner Classic Movies "Forbidden Hollywood Vol. 1" DVD set for Christmas (thanks, Dad!) and I watched all three movies within a few days.

"Waterloo Bridge" kind of grew on me; I liked it well enough from the beginning, although I wasn't wowed by it. "Red Headed Woman" was very good. I had never seen Chester Morris before, and I liked him right away. I can see why the movie was shocking in its time (and helped promote the wrath of the censors) and it's even kind of shocking today, in some ways. In one scene, Morris slaps Jean Harlow across the face, and she gasps, "Do it again! I like it! Do it again!" Yeah...I don't think you'd see that, even today. And the cuts between Una Merkel (she's always funny) and Harlow as Una sheds Jean's pajamas to give them back to her...very well done; racy without being at all explicit. Ah, being subtle is a lost art in today's films, what with boobs and butts flying out all over the place.

But "Babyface"...that took the cake. Ted Turner, bless his heart, put both versions on the DVD set: the theatrical release, and the pre-cut version. One is shocking enough; the other blows right off the chart. TCM's review of the movie talks about the differences between the two here. When they say the cuts change the whole tone of the film, they're not kidding. The character of Adolf Cragg does a complete 180, from a "Nietzsche-quoting local cobbler" to a "spokesman of morality." His scenes with Barbara Stanwyck make a lot more sense in the original form; when he's being all preachy to her, you wonder why she's agreeing with him, because she obviously has other (less savory) ideas. In his original form, Cragg and Lily are of the same mind, and so her attitude feels much more natural. I watched the theatrical version first, then the pre-cut. I found the pre-cut version superior. I've watched it a couple times since then, and it just gets better. I don't think they'd remake this movie even today; at least not with the same level of cynicism. Which is sort a shame, and yet a good thing, because no remake could top the original.

TCM ends their review by saying, "In all, this is an excellent, entertaining movie, and comparing the two versions is tremendously interesting. This DVD is one of the most notable of 2006 and belongs on every collector's shelf." I couldn't agree more.

P.S. I'm slowing going back and adding tags to my previous posts. Thanks for the nifty feature, Google.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Golllllllllllllld Diiiiiiiiiiiggerrrrrrrrrrr

That's what happens when you watch "Goldfinger" immediately following "Gold Diggers of 1937." You keep singing the GF theme, but with the word digger instead of finger (yes, I am insane).

It's been so long since I posted, I had no idea Blogger had merged with Google. Oops.

Anyhow, I had recorded Gold Diggers on DVR, so I watched that last night. I love Dick Powell and Joan Blondell together, and this movie had the added bonus of no Ruby Keeler (not that I hate her...but I don't like her a lot, either). After seeing this one, though, I can see why they stopped with 1937. The plot is boring (when a movie opens with a song about insurance salesman, you know you're in for a slow ride), and you wait waaaaay too long for the Busby Berkeley musical number, which, face it, is pretty much the main reason to watch a movie like this anyway. (Well, the first GD is pretty funny, what with Aline MacMahon ("Oh, Fanny!") and Guy Kibbee; plus, you get a musical number right off the bat, and a famous one, at that: "We're In The Money.") One bright spot was Victor Moore as JJ Hobart; he was a total hoot. He along with Glenda Farrell have just been added to my Find A Grave What A Character! virtual cemetery.

After that Dad and I were channel surfing, and we came across Goldfinger, about half way through, so we watched that until the end. I've seen it a bunch of times, but never all the way through at once. I think it's my favorite Bond movie by default; it's the one I've seen the most times. Plus, I like Goldfinger. He's evil, but he has style. ;)