Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Slight Case of Murder

If there's anything I love more than a good gangster flick, it's actors like Eddie G. spoofing their gangster image in comedies. At my dad's house today I popped this DVD in. "Oh," he said after a few minutes, "I've seen this before. It's a serious movie about a gangster trying to go straight."

"Um," I replied, "If you think it's a serious movie, you definitely haven't seen it before."

I thought it would make him laugh and I was right. Eddie is so cute and funny as Remy Marko, a gangster who sees the end of Prohibition coming and makes plans to go "strictly legitimate." His goofy sidekicks include some of my favorite character actors: Alan Jenkins, Edward Brophy, and Harold Huber.

I've seen other movies where a gangster character of Eddie's is determined to be "classy;" he even does it in Little Caesar, although there's not much to like about that character. However, I usually find it very touching that this guy wants to improve himself so much. He plays a very similiar role in The Little Giant and he makes it work really well there, too, but with less hilarity.

Ruth Donnelly is an absolute scream as Mrs. Marko, who's not too sure at first about this whole "going straight" deal but gets to like it in spite of herself. Watching her shift back and forth between society matron ("I can't imagine where our butler and steward have got to.") and the asides as her former gangster moll self ("Where are those mugs?") is a treat.

Afterwards Mr. Roberts was on TCM, so we watched that too. I love, love Cagney in this role, even though he is pure evil, because he's just so over the top crazy with it. And of course, one of the best final lines in movie history: "Captain, it is I, Ensign Pulver, and I just threw your stinkin' palm tree overboard!"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hot summer movies

It's hot and humid here in lovely Philadelphia, and with that comes a yen to watch certain movies. Although I'm not a big fan of being out in this weather, I love movies about other people who are. Here are some tried and true favorites I've been rewatching lately.

  1. Objective, Burma! - (please note that official title includes the punctuation, haha) Poor Errol Flynn. He made this movie in an attempt to help with the war effort, and the British press just chewed him up for it, feeling that he was trying to take all the glory of the Burma fight for the Americans. Although he wanted to, he was unable to serve due to health issues (recurring malaria and a heart murmur) that of course Warners would never let him admit to. However, I agree with George Tobias that I would "follow him down the mouth of a cannon." Lots of adventure, highly recommended.

  2. Key Largo - Oh, Eddie G., how I adore you. I know he got tired of the gangster roles, but he is so delicious in this one. I could usually take or leave Bogart, but I love him this time. Poor Lionel Barrymore was really in a wheelchair (L.B. Mayer had the role written specifically to accomodate him) and I always wince when he takes a dive trying to sock Johnny Rocco. One of my favorite scenes is when Frank asks Rocco what he really wants out of life...Rocco isn't sure, until Frank says he just wants "more." "Yeah, that's it, I want more!" Rocco exclaims. Will he ever get enough?, Frank asks. No, Rocco says, he hasn't ever before, so he doesn't suppose he ever will. A brilliant summation of all the gangsters Robinson played.

  3. Rain - I've talked about this one before; Crawford is just amazing in the role of Sadie Thompson in one of the many film adaptations of Maugham's story. The scene near the end when Walter Huston loses control still makes me jump, although I know it's coming.

  4. Red Dust - I watched this one last night and I was delighted to remember how funny Harlow can be. It's not always what she says, but the way she says it. "You won't grow up to be a big strong boy like Grandpa here if you don't eat your din-din, Fred." Watch it and see if it doesn't make you chuckle, too. (The line comes at 1:10.) Gene Raymond is a little too "gee whiz" for my tastes, but in a way that makes him better for the role of the husband.