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Thursday, 21 July 2011

Another 5 mini film reviews (inc. 2 Gene Tierney films)

I hope you don't mind me doing these mini review posts, but I enjoyed doing the previous one so much that I thought I'd whip up another one!

Rating System

★★★★★ = watch it immediately because you need this film in your life
★★★★ = watch it soon
★★★ = watch it sometime
★★ = watch it if you must
★ = watch it only if you want to waste a couple of hours of your life

Tobacco Road, 1941 (John Ford)

The stars: Charlie Grapewin, Elizabeth Patterson, Gene Tierney, Marjorie Rambeau, William Tracy, Dana Andrews
The story: A family of stereotypical country bumpkins, whose ancestors were wealthy plantation owners (not for the first time in the last few posts am I throwing glances in Gone With the Wind's direction), are threatened with eviction from their ramshackle house and overrun land unless they can raise a year's worth of rent, a feat that seems nigh on impossible.
The verdict: At first it seemed as though slapstick was going be the mainstay of the film, but after a while a more touching side began to show through all the absurdities of the film and gave it a whole new meaning. Although parts of the film where just too crazy for me to honestly like watching, overall I did enjoy it (even if Gene wasn't in it as much as I had hoped she would be!).
The rating: ★★★

Pickup on South Street, 1953 (Samuel Fuller)

The stars: Richard Widmark, Jean Peters, Thelma Ritter
The story: On a crowded subway, a pickpocket lifts a young woman's purse and unwittingly finds himself in possession of a microfilm on which is held top-secret government information which has been stolen so as to be passed into Communist hands.  
The verdict: I can't recommend this film enough, it's one of the most engaging and thrilling noirs I've ever seen. Jean Peters gives a breathtaking performance in it; I didn't recognise her from the two other films I've seen her in, Niagara and As Young As You Feel. Of course I have to mention Thelma Ritter's absolutely stellar performance for which she was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. She was one of the great character actresses and she deserved an Oscar for pretty much every role she ever played. Thelma Ritter fan girl and proud!
The rating: ★★★★★

The Divorcee, 1930 (Robert Z. Leonard)

The stars: Norma Shearer, Chester Morris, Robert Montgomery, Conrad Nagel
The story: A young woman, Jerry, finds out on her 3rd wedding anniversary that her husband has been cheating on her. He tells her that it doesn't matter, that it didn't mean anything to him, so Jerry decides to give him a taste of his own medicine and finds out that it's a completely different story when the tables are turned.  
The verdict: It started out really strongly, but towards the middle it started to lose my attention. It did pick up towards the end though, and overall I did really enjoy watching it. Norma Shearer was brilliant as usual- I always get the feeling that you could transplant her from a 1930s picture and put her straight into a more modern film and she'd fit right in. I don't know if that makes sense, but her acting always seems to me to be a lot different from her contemporaries. Any one else get that when watching her films? 
The rating: ★★★★

The Dark Corner, 1946 (Henry Hathaway)

The stars: Lucille Ball, Clifton Webb, Mark Stevens, William Bendix
The story: Bradford Galt, a private investigator situated in New York, discovers he is being trailed and believes it to be connected to Anthony Jardine, his former business partner who framed him for manslaughter. His new secretary decides to help him discover what is going on, but as the plot thickens it seems that the answer might not be as simple as they first thought. 
The verdict: Whilst not the greatest noir you'll ever see with it's twists and turns being quite predictable and it's characters poorly developed and not at all engaging, it's a fairly good watch. I did think Lucy's performance was great though, it's a shame she's mostly remembered just for her comedic roles because she was really solid in dramatic parts too. 
The rating: ★★★

The Mating Season, 1951 (Mitchell Leisen)

The stars: Gene Tierney, Miriam Hopkins, Thelma Ritter, John Lund
The story: Ellen, the owner of a hamburger stand in New Jersey decides to pack up and visit her son and his new wife . Unfortunately, the bride has never seen her mother-in-law before and disastrously mistakes her for the hired help supposed to be coming to help prepare for a big party. Not wanting to embarrass her daughter-in-law, Ellen pretends to be the maid for the evening...  
The verdict: I enjoyed this film SO much. It was entertaining, highly comical (lots of "eeek! awkward" moments ;D), and completely free of dull moments! Gene was so sweet as the new bride, and Miriam was just fabulous as her ridiculously annoying mother. Thelma once again gave a brilliant performance and gained her second Best Supporting Actress Oscar Nomination.  
The rating: ★★★★★

That's all folks! :D


  1. *The Mating Season* is a really cute movie, though I don't really care for John Lund. I think it's so cool that Gene does her own singing in it (and in French!). She had a really pretty voice. I also love how Miriam Hopkins delightfully overplays the obnoxious, overbearing mother-in-law. Though I think Gene and Thelma are the main reasons to watch it. Lots of fun!

  2. I recently saw The Mating Season too and loved it...John Lund was a little so-so, but Gene's clothes, singing and general awesomeness reigned supreme. AND Thelma was her typically brilliant self.

    I do hope I've time to watch Pick-up on South Street soon, because it sounds amazing. Spies, Noir, AND Thelma Ritter?!?!

    Maybe this time, I'll actually be able to finish The Dark Corner. Tried to watch it once, but boredom set in, and I moved on to something more interesting.

    I really love reading your mini-reviews!


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