You’ll Find Out: Yet Another Oddball Film I Need to See!

(Thanks, Sleaze-O-Rama!)

You'll Find Out_MPHa. I’d never heard of this 1940 comedy until about a month ago when someone asked me if I’d seen it. I hadn’t, noted to myself to look it up and forgot about it thanks to the stupid time I’ve been having on a few fronts keeping me from being very much entertained. Anyway, in my inbox this afternoon was the trailer above and I got pulled right into wanting to know more.

What a cast! Boris Karloff, Béla Lugosi, Peter Lorre… and Kay Kyser & his band? Yeah, I laughed a lot at the casting here. And if I’m not mistaken, the band and bandleader are the heroes here. Oh, this one’s going on the “gotta watch it!” list for sure. Well, I’m gathering I’ll need to haunt TCM and see when it turns up again. It’s usually the case when I hear about an oldie like this they have in their library that it runs less than a week or so later. Mood lightened considerably? You betcha.


Peanuts’ Citizen Kane “Rosebud” Strip Is Still The Greatest Spoiler Ever Told

If you’ve NEVER seen Citizen Kane, STOP reading this post NOW. Seriously.

Okay, well… of course, you can keep reading and ruin the experience, but that’s your problem I say. You’ve been warned.

Rosebud 1968

As a regular reader of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts for decades, even as a kid I was always floored by how deep the simply drawn cartoon was. I started reading it in the late 60’s, but I only vaguely recall some of the strips from back then. However, in 1973, one particular Sunday page stood out and as that post title notes, is what I consider the best movie spoiler I’ve ever read. Now I hate most spoilers thanks to a few favorite books and films being ruined for me intentionally over the years. But this one stood out because I didn’t know what the heck Citizen Kane was and reading this strip made that title stick in my mind and later, do some digging on the movie and its place in history. I don’t recall seeing it on TV here in New York at all, so all I had were the memories of others I occasionally asked about the film whenever the opportunity arose.

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If You Never Loved Lucy, Well… This Might Change Your Mind…

(thanks, ItsNotYouItsMeblog!) 

dance girl danceI happened to be flipping around the dial randomly again and TCM paid off, as usual with a film I hadn’t seen yet (but had heard of). This clip from director Dorothy Arzner’s 1940 film Dance, Girl, Dance of Lucille Ball doing the number “Jitterbug Bite” cracked me up because in another universe, she’d have been more famous for her sassy song and dance numbers and not trying to “splain” every week to Ricky about why the oven grew a twenty-foot bread loaf, why she stuffed too many chocolates into her face at the chocolate factory or got into a catfight in a vat of wine grapes with some stubborn grape-stompers.

The film itself is pretty funny, pitting Lucy’s burlesque queen Bubbles (what a name!) up against the cute gal played by Maureen O’Hara who does the opening act everyone boos until Lucy steps in to pull her showstopper number. of course, being typcast as a sexpot isn’t the best thing for any actress who wants to stretch her wings, so it’s definitely a great thing that Lucy didn’t let herself get trapped into these sorts of roles, right? But of course, if you never loved Lucy, it means you just never watched enough TV back in the day or sought out all those reruns that seem to in in constant loop on some channel somewhere in the world…

Random Film of the Week(end) – (Summer Edition!): Ball of Fire

(thank you, Victor Creed!) 

ball of fire p2longImagine this as a movie idea today: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with Snow being an extremely talented exotic dancer type and those dwarfs a bunch of stuffy but eager to learn elderly eggheads she ends up hanging out with to teach them all the things they didn’t know. Once you get your eyeballs above the obvious jiggle-tease material and plentiful opportunities for modern day humor sixteen writers working together come up with, the results would probably be pretty darn terrible.

I can see the trailer now: two minutes, thirty eight or so of slow-mo cleavage shots and some special guest cameo coot rattling off one-liners, plus someone getting hit in the nether regions with a golf, basket or other ball, maybe a nice pratfall, a fart joke, a fat girl joke and some annoying music on that soundtrack that doesn’t even fit. Yeah, that’s not a movie I’d want to see at all. Fortunately, Howard Hawks’ 1941 film Ball of Fire takes the Snow White and thanks to a wonderfully funny and sassy Barbara Stanwyck helping loosen up those old guys (and an even stuffier Gary Cooper), a great script and plenty of screwball humor, it still holds up today as a total riot.

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Random Film of the Day*: Mighty Joe Young

*For the next week or so, I’m going to add a random film the great Ray Harryhausen worked on. The legendary special effects MASTER passed away on May 7, 2013 at age 92 in London and yes, the film world has lost a true giant as well as a fine and talented gentleman…

Mighty Joe Young posterWith Ernest B. Schoedsack’s 1949 film Mighty Joe Young, stop motion animation fans saw the torch passed from the past master of the technique, Willis O’Brien to his willing, eager and more than able apprentice (and future master), Ray Harryhausen. Where 1925’s startling The Lost World and 1933’s epic King Kong helped pioneer stop motion (and its more comedic sequel, Son of Kong added a neat dinosaur chase scene to the list of O’Brien’s classic scenes), Mighty Joe Young was pretty much Harryhausen’s film from start to finish.

O’Brien hired Ray as an assistant animator, but based on different accounts, ended up letting the young man handle the bulk of the actual animation while he supervised the technical aspect of the special effects. While the film’s story was provided by King Kong co-writer/co-creator Merian C. Cooper and has some direct thematic resemblances to that earlier film (to the point were some less astute viewers think it’s an actual Kong sequel), Joe’s smaller size, demeanor and human-like qualities were greatly enhanced by stellar animation, some fantastic action scenes and a really great use of humor throughout that makes it nowhere as dark as Kong, nor as silly as its rushed into theaters sequel…
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