Archive for Hugh Marlowe

Twelve O’Clock High

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on July 11, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Hard-as-nails World War II Gen. Frank Savage (Gregory Peck) must turn a discouraged group of American bomber pilots into heroes. Along the way, the once-alienated general comes to view the men as family. No longer a heartless commander, Savage — with the aid of his loyal adjutant Maj. Harvey Stovall (Dean Jagger) — learns how difficult true leadership really is.

What people are saying:

“More than a war film, it’s also an education on how to be a good leader. I came out of the film feeling like a wiser man. Gregory Peck is an incredible actor. He makes it look so easy. The film also has amazing attention to detail.” 5 stars

“The only reason this doesn’t get five stars from me is I don’t think it is universally likeable. I have a particular interest in WWII movies because my father was in that war—as well as a few others—but I feel that if you are not the type who enjoys war movies, you may not enjoy this. That said, the performances in this film are outstanding (even the minor characters). The combat footage is absolutely astonishing and may be the closest you or I (veterans excluded) get to having even the slightest notion of what these brave men went through. Someone mentions this is a “propaganda” film—and I’m going to look that up—but even if it is, the portrayal of duty and bravery in the face of extreme danger is outstanding, and Peck’s performance at the end of the film definitely earned him that Oscar. I think kids can handle this—of a certain age to be determined by the parents of course—because the live combat footage they use could definitely teach kids something about war and sacrifice. I mean, you are seeing real planes being shot out of the air. It’s unbelievable, but very believable—if that makes sense. Great movie. Makes me miss my dad.” 4 stars

“All very solid and well-made, but rather more office-based than one might expect, with only a brief spell of (real) aerial dogfights towards the end. Long too, and a bit of a yawn. Never did understand the thing about the Robin Hood character jug either.” 3 1/2 stars

“Twelve O’Clock High is arguably the first modern war movie. It deals with PTSD in a way not previously done. It also conveys how insane daylight bombing without escort was in WWII –some of the highest casualty rates of the war. The cast is superb especially Gregory peck and Dean Jagger. It’s a classic for a reason. ” 4 stars

“65 years old, and still one of the very best war movies ever made. You couldn’t make this movie today without computer-generated help, and this movie is that much better for having real B-17s, real uniforms, real everything. It mixes combat footage with movie footage to great effect, everything including the pre-fab buildings used on the airbase adds to the overall realism. On top of all that it’s in black and white, which in this case makes for a better movie than color, in my opinion. Gregory Peck turns in a great performance as the stern leader who has to whip a dispirited group back into shape. Plenty of colorful supporting characters. No over-sentimental or cheezy lines or scenes. No romantic sub-plot to drag the story down as in so many other war films. Just a great movie and about as accurate a portrayal of the WWII bombing missions as you could ask for.”

All About Eve

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on October 20, 2015 by Mystery Man

all about eve

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

At an awards dinner, Eve Harrington—the newest and brightest star on Broadway—is being presented the Sarah Siddons Award for her breakout performance as Cora in Footsteps on the Ceiling. Theatre critic Addison DeWitt observes the proceedings and, in a sardonic voiceover, recalls how Eve’s star rose as quickly as it did.

The film flashes back a year. Margo Channing is one of the biggest stars on Broadway, but despite her success she is bemoaning her age, having just turned forty and knowing what that will mean for her career. After a performance one night, Margo’s close friend Karen Richards, wife of the play’s author Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe), meets besotted fan Eve Harrington in the cold alley outside the stage door. Recognizing her from having passed her many times in the alley (as Eve claims to have seen every performance of Margo’s current play, Aged in Wood), Karen takes her backstage to meet Margo. Eve tells the group gathered in Margo’s dressing room—Karen and Lloyd, Margo’s boyfriend Bill Sampson, a director who is eight years her junior, and Margo’s maid Birdie—that she followed Margo’s last theatrical tour to New York after seeing her in a play in San Francisco. She tells a moving story of growing up poor and losing her young husband in the recent war. Moved, Margo quickly befriends Eve, takes her into her home, and hires her as her assistant, leaving Birdie, who instinctively dislikes Eve, feeling put out.

Eve is gradually shown to be working to supplant Margo, scheming to become her understudy behind her back, driving wedges between her and Lloyd and Bill, and conspiring with an unsuspecting Karen to cause Margo to miss a performance. Eve, knowing in advance that she will be the one appearing that night, invites the city’s theatre critics to attend that evening’s performance, which is a triumph for her. Eve tries to seduce Bill, but he rejects her. Following a scathing newspaper column by Addison, Margo and Bill reconcile, dine with the Richardses, and decide to marry. That same night at the restaurant, Eve blackmails Karen into telling Lloyd to give her the part of Cora, by threatening to tell Margo of Karen’s role in Margo’s missed performance. Before Karen can talk with Lloyd, Margo announces to everyone’s surprise that she does not wish to play Cora and would prefer to continue in Aged in Wood. Eve secures the role and attempts to climb higher by using Addison, who is beginning to doubt her. Just before the premiere of her play at the Shubert in New Haven, Eve presents Addison with her next plan: to marry Lloyd, who, she claims, has come to her professing his love and his eagerness to leave his wife for her. Now, Eve exults, Lloyd will write brilliant plays showcasing her. Unseen but mentioned in dialogue, Karen has begun to suspect Eve as a threat to her own marriage to Lloyd, and so she and Addison meet for lunch and help each other put the pieces about Eve together. Addison is infuriated that Eve has attempted to use him and reveals that he knows that her back story is all lies. Her real name is Gertrude Slojinski, she was never married, and she had been paid to leave her hometown over an affair with her boss, a brewer in Wisconsin. Addison blackmails Eve, informing her that she will not be marrying Lloyd or anyone else; in exchange for Addison’s silence, she now “belongs” to him.

The film returns to the opening scene in which Eve, now a shining Broadway star headed for Hollywood, is presented with her award. In her speech, she thanks Margo and Bill and Lloyd and Karen with characteristic effusion, while all four stare back at her coldly. After the awards ceremony, Eve hands her award to Addison, skips a party in her honor, and returns home alone, where she encounters a young fan—a high-school girl—who has slipped into her apartment and fallen asleep. The young girl professes her adoration and begins at once to insinuate herself into Eve’s life, offering to pack Eve’s trunk for Hollywood and being accepted. “Phoebe”, as she calls herself, answers the door to find Addison returning with Eve’s award. In a revealing moment, the young girl flirts daringly with the older man. Addison hands over the award to Phoebe and leaves without entering. Phoebe then lies to Eve, telling her it was only a cab driver who dropped off the award. While Eve rests in the other room, Phoebe dons Eve’s elegant costume robe and poses in front of a multi-paned mirror, holding the award as if it were a crown. The mirrors transform Phoebe into multiple images of herself, and she bows regally, as if accepting the award to thunderous applause, while triumphant music plays.

REVIEW:

Every now and then, I get the chance to check out one of truly great films in cinema history. In this case, the film in question in All About Eve. Given the track record films of this nature tend to have with me, I wonder if this will actually be worth the watch, or a total bore.

What is this about?

Writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s sharp script anchors this story about New York City theater life, with Bette Davis playing an aging Broadway diva who employs a starstruck fan (Anne Baxter) as her assistant, only to learn the woman is a conniving upstart.

What did I like?

Acting. In the early 80s, there was a song called “Bette Davis Eyes”. At the time, I knew nothing about Bette Davis, other than apparently she had very noticeable eyes. This may come as a surprise, but this is the first film I have seen with Davis in it. I have heard all the stories about how she is considered among the all-time greats, this character being a reflection of that, not to mention the fact that she was considered for the lead in Sunset Boulevard. If this is any indication of the kind of performances she gave on a regular basis, then wow…just wow! She commands the screen with her, shall we say unique, look and keeps the control with her grandiose acting chops. Man, why don’t we have actresses like this anymore (excluding the few that actually are good, of course)?

Not a villain? Hugh Marlowe is a guy who, at least in everything I’ve seen him in, has made a career as that guy who seems like he’s there to protect and defend his girl, but in actuality, he’s only out for himself. The best example of this would be his character in The Day the Earth Stool Still. Keeping that in mind, it is a nice change of pace to see him as a “good guy” for one.

Replacement. I’ve seen countless stories where the young, unsuspecting, struggling actress meets her idol and slowly supplants her, without anyone even realizing it. I imagine those are all based on this film, and with good reason. Anne Baxter does a great job portraying the metamorphosis her character goes through from the shy violet, so to speak, to the monstrous venus flytrap. As far as the plot is concerned, this isn’t one that will keep you on the edge of you seat wondering, but your interest is piqued.

What didn’t I like?

Motivation. What is it that motivates a person to take down someone successful, let alone ruin their personal life? I can understand wanting to be like your idol, but what was Eve’s motivation here? I don’t think it was ever mentioned. Was there some wrong that was done to her in the past? Is she just an evil person?

Is this your first time? Not yet a star, Marilyn Monroe shows up in a couple of scenes. She brings a ray of light to this surprisingly dark film and shows that she is on her way to be a star. So what is the problem, you ask? Her character could have just as easily been a cutting room floor casualty or a much bigger part. Is this the right amount of young Marilyn? Perhaps, especially as this is one of her first films, but I don’t think anyone would be offended if there was more of her.

Report. George Sanders has a voice for theater and narration…and animation (he is Shere Kahn in The Jungle Book for those that don’t know). This reporter character he plays is a mystery to me, though. What side is he on, if any? What are his intentions? Could it be that he’s the mastermind behind it all? Perhaps he’s just a lowly reporter who loves theater? Whatever the case may be, I felt he was put in there as an avatar for the audience, initially, and then the decision was made to put him into the main story.

All About Eve really is all about Eve. Every character has some sort of contact/interaction with her and it seems as if the world revolves around her, at least for time span this film covers. Is that good or bad? At this point in time, I can’t tell you, as I am still digesting what I just watched. Do I recommend this picture? Yes, very highly. There is a reason this is one the list of greatest films of all time. It is a bit slower than I would care for it to be, but not to the point of boredom. Give a shot when you can!

4 out of  5 stars

Illegal

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on September 14, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Victor Scott (Edward G. Robinson) is a District Attorney with a drive to win every case. He is assisted by attorney Ellen Miles (Nina Foch) who is not quite as relentless, but is devoted to her D.A. boss. After Scott discovers that a man he sent to his death is innocent, he falls into an alcoholic haze, is arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct, and determines to defend another incarcerated man. This leads to a new career as a defense attorney.

Scott ends up defending an associate of the city’s crime boss, a man he refused to work for earlier due to the fact that “…no one would testify against you; you own the people who work for you.” This, in turn, leads him into direct confrontation with the very office he used to head.

Ellen Miles kills her husband in self-defense. Scott is determined to clear her, as there are no witnesses. There is an ongoing leak between the D.A.’s office and the crime boss. The leak turns out to be Ellen’s husband, Ray Borden. The new D.A., not knowing this, determines that Ellen herself is the leak and that she murdered her husband when found out.

REVIEW:

Before I begin this review about Illegal, can I just mention how hard it is to find anything about this film on-line? Seriously, type “illegal” or “illegal movie” in and this is not the first thing to come up. There are some rather, shall we say, questionable websites that popped up in my search. Obviously, I did find what I was looking for, and that is this film noir that I’m watching at this late hour.

What is this about?

Ambitious D.A. Victor Scott zealously prosecutes Ed Clary for a woman’s murder. But as Clary walks “the last mile” to the electric chair, Scott receives evidence that exonerates the condemned man. Realizing that he’s made a terrible mistake he tries to stop the execution but is too late. Humbled by his grievous misjudgement, Scott resigns as a prosecutor. Entering private practice, he employs the same cunning that made his reputation and draws the attention of mob kingpin, Frank Garland. The mobster succeeds in bribing Scott into representing one of his stooges on a murder rap and Scott, in a grand display of courtroom theatrics, wins the case. But soon Scott finds himself embroiled in dirty mob politics. The situation becomes intolerable when his former protege in the D.A.’s office is charged with a murder that seems to implicate her as an informant to the Garland mob. Can Victor defend the woman he secretly loves and also keep his life?

What did I like?

Not so fast, pretty boy. Today’s leading men, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Denzel Washington, etc. are all “pretty boys”, if you will notice. Back in the day, though, audiences were not so hung up on looks or maybe it was the fact that they were more interested in the actor’s talent. This explains how a hideous troll like Edward G. Robinson had such a tremendous career. He can really act, and not just as  the shifty gangster types he normally was cast as, but he was allowed to shine in roles likes this where he gets to really flex his acting chops.

Gray matter. Expectations can be a tricky thing. I went into this film, expecting a morally black and white film, as can be expected when dealing with the law. However, this is more about lawyers, who are known to be just as crooked, if not more so than gangsters. I don’t need to tell you that this made for quite the interesting shades of gray. Robinson is the good guy, but he’s still a bad guy, if that makes any sense.

Introducing…Jayne Mansfield. A real treat makes an appearance in a rather small, but important role. Not quite a sex symbol, Jayne Mansfield appears in one of her first movie roles. It is well documented that I love, love, LOVE Jayne, but I had no idea she was in this flick until she popped up, and even then I had to do a double take (not counting that her name was in the opening credits). I believe this is her best serious performance. She’s using her real voice, not the manufactured airehead voice that she would use after she rose to fame, which makes this role much more subdued and in step with the rest of the cast. Can you imagine later Jayne in this film? Trainwreck!!!

What didn’t I like?

Theatrics. Robinson’s courtroom theatrics were interesting and are surely the reason he was such a good attorney. If Law and Order (and its many spinoffs) used some of that, maybe I’d actually watch. For me, though, while I enjoyed his antics, I couldn’t help but think they were a bit much for a film that is this serious. It was almost like watching Night Court instead.

Mob tactics. Guess what? The mob is in this film showing their might and doing mob type enforcing stuffs. What’s the problem with that? Well, it just doesn’t seem like this version of the mob is as intimidating as they could and should be, at least to me. They come off as just some guys in suits with resources, rather than a highly connected and efficient group of hitmen, thieves, and assassins.

Hugh. Token 50s asshole Hugh Marlowe once again plays the same role he always played. I know this guy had his fans, but I’m not one of them. True, his film personal worked for how this film played out, there still could have been a better way to utilize his talents. I may just be letting my disdain for this guy cloud my judgment, though.

When the dust clears, Illegal turned out to be a really, really good film noir that I’m glad YouTube recommended, otherwise I would have never heard of, let alone seen. The script is tight, especially for this era of film, the acting is top-notch, and the pacing is just that right mix of snappy, yet slow enough for the audience to keep up with everything. There are few flaws here and there, but they are few and far between. I highly recommend this as a film you should see before you die!

5 out of 5 stars

Revisited #5: The Day the Earth Stood Still

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Revisited, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

An extraterrestrial flying saucer is tracked flying around the Earth until it lands on the President’s Park Ellipse in Washington, D.C.. Klaatu (Michael Rennie) emerges, announcing that he has come from outer space on a goodwill mission. When he takes out and opens a small device, Klaatu is shot and wounded by a nervous soldier. In response, Gort, a large humanoid robot, emerges from the ship and begins disintegrating the weapons present with a ray coming from a visor-like structure on its head. Gort continues until Klaatu orders him to stop. Klaatu explains that the now destroyed object was a viewing device, a gift for the President.

Klaatu is taken to an army hospital, where he is found to be physically human, but stuns the doctors with the quickness of his healing. Meanwhile the military attempts to enter Klaatu’s ship, finding it impregnable. Gort stands by, mute and unmoving.

Klaatu reveals to the President’s secretary, Harley (Frank Conroy), that he bears a message so momentous and urgent that it must be revealed to all the world’s leaders simultaneously. Harley tells him that it would be impossible to get all of the world leaders to agree to meet. Klaatu wants to get to know the ordinary people. Harley forbids it and leaves Klaatu locked up under guard.

Klaatu escapes and lodges at a boarding house, assuming the alias “Mr. Carpenter,” the name he finds on the cleaners tag on the suit he “borrowed.” Among the residents are Helen Benson (Patricia Neal), a World War II widow, and her son Bobby (Billy Gray). At breakfast the next morning, during alarming radio reports, Klaatu takes in his fellow boarders’ suspicions and speculations about the alien visit.

While Helen and her boyfriend Tom Stephens (Hugh Marlowe) go on a day trip, Klaatu babysits Bobby. The boy takes Klaatu on a tour of the city, including a visit to his father’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery, where Klaatu is dismayed to learn that most of those buried there were killed in wars. The two visit the heavily guarded spaceship and the Lincoln Memorial. Klaatu, impressed by the Gettysburg Address inscription, queries Bobby for the greatest person living in the world. Bobby suggests a leading American scientist, Professor Jacob Barnhardt (Sam Jaffe), who lives in Washington, D.C. Bobby takes Klaatu to Barnhardt’s home, but the professor is absent. Klaatu enters and adds a key mathematical equation to an advanced problem on the professor’s blackboard, and then leaves his contact information with the suspicious housekeeper who attempts to rub out the equation with an eraser although is told not to by Klaatu.

Later, government agents escort Klaatu to see Barnhardt. Klaatu introduces himself and warns the professor that the people of the other planets have become concerned for their own safety after human beings developed atomic power. Klaatu declares that if his message goes unheeded, “Planet Earth will be eliminated.” Barnhardt agrees to arrange a meeting of scientists at Klaatu’s ship and suggests that Klaatu give a demonstration of his power. Klaatu returns to his spaceship the next evening to implement the idea, unaware that Bobby has followed him.

Bobby tells the unbelieving Helen and Tom what has transpired, but not until Tom finds a diamond on the floor of Klaatu’s room do they begin to accept his story. When Tom takes the diamond for appraisal, the jeweler informs him it is unlike any other on Earth.

Klaatu finds Helen at her workplace. She leads him to an unoccupied elevator which mysteriously stops at noon, trapping them together. Klaatu admits he is responsible, tells Helen his true identity, and asks for her help. A montage sequence shows that Klaatu has neutralized all electric power everywhere around the planet except in situations that would compromise human safety, such as hospitals and airplanes.

After the thirty-minute blackout ends, the manhunt for Klaatu intensifies and Tom informs authorities of his suspicions. Helen is very upset by Tom’s betrayal of Klaatu and breaks off their relationship. Helen and Klaatu take a taxi to Barnhardt’s home; en route, Klaatu instructs Helen that, should anything happen to him, she must tell Gort “Klaatu barada nikto”. When they are spotted, Klaatu is shot by military personnel. Helen heads to the spaceship. Gort awakens and kills two guards before Helen can relay Klaatu’s message. Gort gently deposits her in the spaceship, then goes to fetch Klaatu’s corpse. Gort then revives Klaatu while the amazed Helen watches. Klaatu explains that his revival is only temporary; even with their advanced technology, they cannot truly overcome death, that power being reserved for the “Almighty Spirit.”

Klaatu steps out of the spaceship and addresses the assembled scientists, explaining that humanity’s penchant for violence and first steps into space have caused concern among other inhabitants of the universe who have created and empowered a race of robot enforcers including Gort to deter such aggression. He warns that if the people of Earth threaten to extend their violence into space, the robots will destroy Earth, adding, “The decision rests with you.” He enters the spaceship and departs.

REVIEW:

My favorite classic sci-fi film of all time, outside of the holy trilogy, is The Day the Earth Stood Still. Some dumbkopf had the brilliant idea to remake this sparkling gem and accomplished nothing but tarnishing its legacy, prove why remakes should never be made, and making one of my top 5 worst films of all time, and I’ve seen some really bad ones!  As far as I’m concerned, the remake doesn’t exist, but how about the original?

What is this about?

A humanoid envoy (Michael Rennie) from another world lands in Washington, D.C., with a warning to Earth’s people to cease their violent behavior. But panic erupts when a nervous soldier shoots the messenger, and his robot companion tries to destroy the capital. A sci-fi hallmark that offers wry commentary on the political climate of the 1950s, this Golden Globe-winning classic is less concerned with special effects than with its potent message.

What did I like?

Message. Violent ways will be the end of us all, and we need to all get along. That is the basic message of this great film, in my summation. Klaatu gives a great speech at the end that says the same thing ,but I’m not nearly as eloquent or articulate. Much like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, this film is a commentary on the attitudes of the era. Sad thing is, both films were released the same year and here it is 61 years later and these attitudes and actions haven’t changed very much. It really is sad when you think about it.

Age ain’t nothin’ but a number. It is often mentioned how actors from this era seemed to be ageless. Well, look at Klaatuu. It is stated rather early in the flick that he is 75, but looks to be in his late 30s, this is because his planet’s science and medicine has advanced so far beyond ours. Michael Rennie, who plays Klaatu, was nearly 50 when this was made and released, yet looked to be in his 30s, whether that was coincidental or not, it is a nice little factoid.

Music. You know that eerie sound you hear in some horror movies and golden age sci films, such as this? That is called a theremin. I believe that it was created as a burglar alarm in Russia. This mysterious instrument is featured heavily in the score, especially the theme. Bernard Hermann’s masterful score really sets the mood for this film.

What didn’t I like?

Hugh. It seems that Hugh Marlowe is always playing the suspicious boyfriend in every film I’ve seen him in. Sure, it may work for him, but I don’t particularly care for it, especially in this film. Yeah, he may have thought he was protecting his prospective fiancée’, but as we see later in the film, he is more out for #1, a feat that is something we see all too often.

Gort. I love Gort. How can you not like a giant robot enforcer with the power to destroy an entire planet? The thing I don’t like about him, though, is that he seems to lumber around like a bad version of Frankenstein. I am taking into consideration this era and all that, but there are Godzilla puppets that moved better than Gort, in my opinion.

Stranger. After escaping from the hospital,Klaatu appears in the doorway of a boarding house. Seeing as how this is the 50s and a boarding house, that wasn’t an issue, but the fact that he doesn’t know much about Earth culture and acts as if he has never seen any of it ever before should have tipped someone off that he might very well have been the alien that everyone was after. A small complaint, though.

Military. When Klaatu arrives, the military is there to meet him, complete with tanks, guns and everything. As he is coming out of his ship, he produces what can be assumed to be a weapon, but turns out to be a present for the president. Without warning, some trigger-happy soldier shoots it out of his hand injuring him in the process. As it is said later in the film, the slightest act of aggression will send Gort into action. Basically, it comes down to this…that stupid soldier could very well have caused the end of the world. He’s just lucky Klaatu was able to stop Gort. This is a common problem with military in alien movies. They act way too soon!

The Day the Earth Stood Still is an immortal sci-fi classic, proven so by the fact that its central them still resonates today. Yes, you can say its a bit  dated, but come on people, this was made in the early 50s. The technology wasn’t there back then, so get over it! This is a film that I highly recommend you see ASAP. It is most definitely in my top films of all time, and I’m sure you will feel the same!

5 out of 5 stars

Meet Me in St. Louis

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , on February 17, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The backdrop for Meet Me in St. Louis is St. Louis, Missouri on the brink of the 1904 World’s Fair.

The Smith family lead a comfortable middle-class life. Mr. Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames) and Mrs. Anna Smith (Mary Astor) have four daughters: Rose (Lucille Bremer), Esther, Agnes, and Tootie; and a son, Lon Jr. (Henry H. Daniels, Jr.) Esther, the second eldest daughter (Judy Garland), is in love with the boy next door, John Truett (Tom Drake), although he does not notice her at first. Rose is expecting a phone call in which she hopes to be proposed to by Warren Sheffield (Robert Sully).

Esther finally gets to meet John properly when he is a guest at the Smith’s house party, although her chances of romancing him don’t go to plan when, after all the guests are gone and he is helping her turn off the gas lamps throughout the house, he tells her she uses the same perfume as his grandmother and that she has “a mighty strong grip for a girl”.

On Halloween, Tootie (Margaret O’Brien) returns home injured, claiming that John Truett attacked her. Without bothering to investigate, Esther confronts John, physically attacking him and scolding him for being a “bully”. When Esther returns home, Tootie confesses that what really happened was that John was trying to protect Tootie and Agnes (Joan Carroll) from the police after a dangerous prank they pulled went wrong. Upon learning the truth, Esther immediately dashes to John’s house next door to apologize, and they share their first kiss.

Mr. Smith announces to the family that he is to be sent to New York on business and eventually they will all move. The family is devastated and upset at the news of the move, especially Rose and Esther whose romances, friendships, and educational plans are threatened. Esther is also aghast because they will miss the World’s Fair.

An elegant ball takes place on Christmas Eve. Esther is devastated when John cannot take her as his date, due to his leaving his tuxedo at the tailor’s and being unable to get it back. But she is relieved when her grandfather (Harry Davenport) offers to take her instead. At the ball, Esther fills up a visiting girl’s (Lucille Ballard, played by June Lockhart) dance card with losers because she thinks Lucille is a rival of Rose’s. But when Lucille turns out to be interested in Lon, Esther switches her dance card with Lucille’s and instead dances herself with the clumsy and awkward partners. After being rescued by Grandpa, she is overwhelmed when John unexpectedly turns up after somehow managing to obtain a tuxedo, and the pair dance together for the rest of the evening.

Esther returns home to an upset Tootie. She sings her “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (a song which Judy Garland claimed in an interview was substituted for the originally planned song {unknown title}. She stated that the original song was just too sad and that she couldn’t sing it to poor little Margaret O’Brien). Tootie, however, does become more upset at the prospect of the family’s move and runs downstairs, out into the cold to destroy the snowmen they have made. Mr. Smith sees his daughter’s upsetting outburst.

Mr. Smith later announces that the family will not leave St. Louis after all when he realises how much the move will affect his family. John declares his love for Esther and Warren declares his love for Rose and together they state that they will marry at the first possible opportunity. And all of the family finally are able to attend the World’s Fair.

The film ends at night with the entire family (including boyfriends-to-turn-into-presumed-husbands and Lon’s new love interest) overlooking the fresh new lake at the center of the World’s Fair just as the lights come up on the entire fair.

REVIEW:

 Someone suggested Meet Me in St. Louis awhile back, but I just never got around to it until today. Little did I know that this apparently is amongst the most successful musicals, in terms of winning awards. This was during the time when there wasn’t such a disconnect between critics/awards voters and the general public. Having said all that, I can see why this film earned all of its accolades, and at the same time not many people know about it.

For me, the biggest selling point of a musical is the music. If I don’t come away humming a tune or two, then it wasn’t worth it. Sadly, Meet Me in St. Louis doesn’t deliver in the music departments. The songs are good enough, especially the catchy “Trolley Song”, but none are showstoppers or cause one to remember them after film’s end.

Don’t get me wrong, the songs are very well written, they just don’t have that…special something one expects from musicals.

The story is told well enough, but I would have liked for there to have been a more cohesive plot, rather than seeing these two girls run around after some guy, then we switch to the kids, then we meet the grumpy father. It was a bit much. Sure, that could work on the stage, but on the screen, there needs to be more fluidity to things, and there just wasn’t with this flick.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of good thing with this picture. For instance, it has Judy Garland. Granted she’s playing a character half her age, and it shows, but she pulls it off. Acting…some of today’s “actors” should look into it.

The backdrops and costume design are great, especially in the final scene. The viewer is literally transported back in time to a simpler day and age when everyone would gather to watch the fireworks and not have to worry about locking your doors and whatnot.

The pacing of this film is what really got me. As I said before, it jumped around a bit, which made it sort of hard to follow, but if you’ve ever seen a musical on stage, then you expect that sort of pacing. It was just weird to see it on screen, I suppose.

At just under two hours long, though, all that jumping around does keep this flick from falling into that sluggish drone that so many musicals seem to do, especially when they are of lesser quality and don’t have the greatest songbook.

When all the smoke clears, though, Meet Me in St. Louis, is actually a pretty good film. I’m just nitpicking, I suppose. There really is no reason for me to no recommend this to each and everyone out there. Sure, it isn’t the most exciting film, but every once in a while, one needs to slow things down, right?

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , on March 18, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film is set in 1956, a year before the first satellite, Sputnik I went into orbit. In the film, “Project Skyhook,” a U.S. effort to launch a dozen satellites, is visited by a flying saucer. A misunderstanding leads to the aliens being fired on, and they retaliate by destroying the project site, killing everyone except the two principal scientists, Dr. and Mrs. Marvin (a married couple). The sequence of events quickly spirals out of control and leads to a full scale invasion. Flying saucers attack Washington, D.C., Paris, London and Moscow. In the end, the alien saucers are defeated over the skies of Washington by a device using high-power sound coupled with an electric field that stops the saucers’ propulsion systems.

REVIEW:

In the 50s, sci films such as this, The Day the Earth Stood Still, 20 Million Miles to EarthPlan 9 From Outer Space, Forbidden Planet, and a slew of others were all the rage. I must say that after watching this film, I was really impressed with the quality of it. They say it’s a B-movie, but I’m not quite sure I agree with that.

Hugh Marlowe is the lead male in this film, but this role has similarities to his character in The Day the Earth Stood Still.He was overprotective to the point that he nearly doomed the earth. On top of that, the military is trigger happy. Some things never change.

I’ve said before that Ray Harryhausen is a genius. There were no stop motion monsters in this film, but he was in charge of the flying saucers. Don’t quote me on this, but I believe this film is responsible for the idea of flying saucers being a giant, er…saucer.

This is a classic sci-fi film that any fan of the genre cannot call themself a fan without seeing. I would have liked to have seen more of the aliens and for their suits to not make them look like Robby the robot. The scenes where the aliens go on a rampage and destroy Washington, D.C. reminded me of the game Destroy All Humans. As a matter of fact, when they unmasked the alien, he looked a lot like that. I wonder….

Do I think you should watch this? Well, as I say with all classic films, don’t watch if you’re not a fan of the genre or period. If you can’t appreciate and remember that it was a different time then it is better that you stay away than watch and do nothing but criticize the film. Having said that, yes, I do recommend. This is a good film, with an amazing climax, especially for the time. I would have liked for there to have been more carnage earlier in the film, but that’s a personal opinion.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars