Vanity Fair to me is a boring story and one that I have seen countless times in old films but the only differences is the ending is happy and the girl usually gets the rich man. This version of Vanity Fair is set in modern times… as in 1932 modern times.
Myrna Loy in one of her early leading roles on a loan out to some other studio plays Becky Sharp. Becky has not had a very good life. She was orphaned when she was young and grew up in boarding schools. She has dreamed of marrying rich and living a wealthy care free life. Her friend Amelia’s family is rich and right away she tries to go after Amelia’s brother Joseph and her boyfriend. Amelia’s mother sees Becky putting the moves on and tells the girl she needs to leave to go to her governess position.
Becky is a governess for an old man named Crawley. At this point in the story someone on youtube did not post the third part of the film so I have no clue what happened apparently she fell in love with the old man’s son Rawdon and the man kicked them out after he found out they were married. Now they do not have any money and Becky is left to whore herself out and become a kept woman to gain money, jewels and clothes.
By the end of the film Becky is totally poor and the years showing on her face.
What a crap story. I started watching Becky Sharp with Miriam Hopkins and could not take the story I stopped it (besides Hopkins was way too much she pissed me off so bad her acting was terrible!!!). The modern twist on the classic 1800s tale was a good idea it fit perfectly. Now if you follow this blog you know how much I adore Myrna Loy to no end and because I adore her unconditionally I had to sit through this. I hate to say it but Loy was not that good. Maybe she was not that great because the whole thing was not fantastic. At times she seemed too nice for the nasty, man eating woman she had to be but then at times all she had to do was give a lusty look and you can see her mind on the prowl and her real intentions. Alright, she did have one very good scene and that was at the very end when Becky looks at herself in the mirror at what she has become, this is the excellent acting that Loy is known for. Loy’s Becky Sharp no doubt belongs to the pre-code era with her immoral ways and risqué clothing.
I just really want to know what MGM was thinking when they loaned Myrna Loy out to a low budget early talkie studio. Well at this time they did not really know what to do with her she was still the bad girl and the vamp.
This version of Vanity Fair is very boring and very lackluster. Even Myrna Loy’s presence could not in any way help this film out.
Only see this if you are a gigantic Myrna Loy nerd like me and only sit through it if you are dying because whoever uploaded it did not upload a part three so there is half the story missing.
Yes folks another lovely pre-code!!! And this is my first James Cagney pre-code at that! I was looking through TCM’s schedule one day and all I had to see was the title Picture Snatcher and knew I had to see it no matter who was in it… I have a great passion for old photography especially fashion photography. The story sounded pretty interesting as well and it did not hurt that James Cagney and Ralph Bellamy were starring in the film.
Cagney plays an ex-con named Danny Keane. When he is released from jail his old gangster pals want him to join them again but he decides he wants to go straight. He wants to become a photographer for the newspapers. His pals laugh at him but Danny is determined to find a job at what he likes.
He goes to a newspaper with a bad reputation for printing gossip and “inappropriate” stories. The paper does not want to hire him but he says he can prove himself when a chance comes his way. A man who is head of the fire department is sitting in his burned out apartment. He found his wife and her lover’s body burned when he came home. He will not let any photographers or reporters in. Danny’s job is to try to get a picture of the place as well as a picture of the man and his wife. Danny gets to walk around the apartment by pretending he is an insurance man inspecting the place for a claim. He manages to get the picture and the newspaper is the only paper in town that has it.
The next day the man comes in looking to kill Danny but he manages to evade him by sneaking into the women’s bathroom. While in there he meets Allison (Alice White) a reporter for the paper. He meets up with Allison at her place but then he sees his boss JR McLean (Bellamy) walking up to her place drunk and he gets out there quickly.
A few journalism students come by the office. Danny takes it upon himself to show the students around when he sees that the group consists mainly of girls. He takes a real liking to one of the girls named Pat Nolan (Patricia Ellis). Her father just so happens to be Chief Nolan head of the police unit who put Danny behind bars. That does not matter to him because he is going straight. Unfortunately they get caught and Chief Nolan is none too happy. Later on the Chief is ok with the two dating only because JR told the chief that he was going to do a write up on him.
One of the biggest news stories of the time is about a woman who is going to be executed for murdering her husband and his lover. She is to go to the electric chair. No one is supposed to take cameras into the execution but Danny being the daring man that he is brings a camera. Chief Nolan lets him through because he knows Danny will not do anything stupid… or so he thinks. Danny gets the picture by strapping the camera to his leg. Well the camera falls out and he is found out. Now all the reporters and the police are after him.
Because of Danny taking the picture Chief Nolan has been demoted and he will not let the ex-con see his daughter. Danny is upset about what he did but along with JR finds a way to redeem himself and get the chief his job back.
Picture Snatcher screams pre-code from beginning to end. When Danny meets Allison in the ladies room you know they totally do it as James Cagney walks away off camera with a big smile on his face. When Danny has to hide out after he takes the execution photograph he hides out with Allison and as she is changing he snaps a picture of her. There are many more fabulous pre-code scenes but those were my favorites and the ones that left me going wow.
James Cagney is awesome he is now one of my favorite classic actors. He was so funny in so many scenes and his performance was just flawless. Danny was a good character he knew he had done wrong and wanted to go straight and be a good guy. The film aired on TCM as part of their Summer Under the Stars program when they had Ralph Bellamy as their star of the day. The more I see of Bellamy the less he is the bumbling guy who loses the girls. He was a very good versatile actor and handsome on top of it.
Picture Snatcher is not an incredible, jaw dropping, one- of –the-best-films-ever-made films but it is enjoyable. The dialogue is snappy and quick and the story is fast paced but you never lose your way through it. James Cagney is very entertaining and makes the whole film.
“Smart, aren’t you?”
“No, not really. I’ve just had time to think things out. Put myself in your position. That’s why I know you’re going to agree.”
One of the many reasons I like Hitchcock’s films is because he always knew how to put together a great cast and he always had characters good or bad or sometimes both that the audience could sympathize with. Dial M For Murder is one of Hitchcock’s perfect films from the story and direction to lighting and casting.
Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) is an ex-pro tennis player. He and his wife Margot (Grace Kelly) live in a small apartment in London. When we are first introduced to the couple they are happily sitting down to breakfast seeming to be the 1950s example of the perfect couple. Later that night we see all is not perfect with the couple as Margot is now in the arms of another man named Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings).
Margot had met Mark the previous year when their affair first started. Mark is a mystery writer living in America so he and Margot correspond through letters. Margot is upset her purse had been stolen at a train station a few months previously along with a letter from Mark. The purse was recovered at a lost and found but the letter was gone. Ever since then she has received two blackmail letters to pay her otherwise they will show her husband the letter. Margot paid them but nothing has happened she has not gotten the letter back. Tony comes home and decides not to go out to the theater with them saying he has a lot of work to do.
After Mark and Margot leave Tony phones a garage owner saying that he wants to speak to him in person about a car that is for sale. Before the man comes over Tony sets things up around the apartment suspiciously. Now as the audience we know that something hinky is going on. When the man named C.A. Swan comes over Tony sweet talks him a little and after a few minutes he lets Swan know that he has been following him and knows all his shady dealings. Tony’s explains that he followed Swan to blackmail him into killing his wife. Tony has found out about Margot cheating on him with Mark and now wants to kill her and he plans the perfect murder.
The plan is set for the next night. While Tony is out with Mark at a party Swan is to come in and kill Margot when he hears the phone ring to bring his wife out of the bedroom. That night things do not go smoothly: Margot almost goes out, Tony’s watch stops, but the one thing that should have happened does not. When Swan attacks Margot she fights back and stabs Swan in the back killing him.
Now Tony is all nervous and he frames the whole accident to make it look like Margot purposely killed Swan.
The cast of Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings, and John Williams as the police detective was perfection. Milland was one of the best villains/antagonists in Hitchcock’s films. He just had that evil, malicious, jealous, slick look about him that made him such a great bad guy. I am not a huge Grace Kelly fan I find her to be more of an icon and a cliché more than a great classic actress. But I did find her to be very good as Margot. This was her first film for Hitchcock and she was one of the director’s favorite leading ladies. There is one scene of her when she is being prosecuted (in a sense of the word) and put on trial where she looks, to me, so unbelievably pretty. She really is not the heroine of the film the main heroes, if they can be called that, are Mark and the Inspector who save her. She definitely pays for her sins of cheating. Robert Cummings is very good as the other man who accidentally stumbles into the real happenings of the crime. John Williams adds a little comic/suspense relief as the sympathetic Inspector Hubbard.
With the characters of Tony, Margot, and Mark we feel sympathetic towards them even though they are all in the morally wrong. Tony is upset that his gorgeous young wife is cheating on him. Margot is cheating but she is the victim who was almost killed and then arrested for a murder she is supposed to have planned. Mark loves Margot and does anything he can to get her out even going to Tony to confess his love for her. I love how in pretty much all of Hitchcock’s films we are made to feel sympathetic to characters no matter how much they do not deserve it.
Dial M For Murder is based off a stage play. Hitchcock excellently stayed true to the stage formula only moving out of the apartment set three times. He knew that the dialogue was the most important aspect of the story so he focuses more on the actors and the telling of their stories and ideas. His amazing camera work and use of colors and visual imagery keeps the one roomed setting from getting boring. To me the one roomed set and the claustrophobia it creates is what makes the film so suspenseful and tense.
My favorite scene of the whole film is one that everyone has either seen a picture of or has seen it somewhere: as Margot is being attacked by Swan she reaches back for some sort of help. It is one of my favorite shots from a film. There is so much desperation on both of the characters and Hitchcock excellently filmed that. Just the entire scene where Margot is being attacked was filmed and acted perfection .
Another scene that I could not get over the way it was filmed was when Margot is alone with Mark in the apartment. They hear Tony coming in the door, they have been holding each other and we see them let go of each other and walk away in shadow. It is a bit difficult to explain you would have to see it but I loved it I thought it was awesome.
Also as with all of Hitchcock’s films the score is top notch in helping to create suspense and drama. Famed composer and conductor Dimitri Tiomkin created a haunting, atmospheric score.
Dial M For Murder is one of the Master of Suspense’s best films. Unfortunately this film often gets overlooked most likely due to the fact that Rear Window came out the same year and the actors besides Grace Kelly are not typical or recurring to Hitchcock films. I think this is one of his best casted films and one of his best all round films. It is one of the director’s most simple which is a nice break from all his chaotic films where the characters are all over the place.
Dial M For Murder is a Hitchcock film not to be overlooked.
Mortimer was brought up by his aunt’s Abby and Martha in the old family home. Abby and Martha still live in the house and are much loved by the community. Also living with them is Mortimer’s brother Teddy who thinks he is President Theodore Roosevelt. One of the aunts had gone out and when she comes back the other aunt tells her she had to hide a dead man under the window seat! Mortimer comes into the house surprising his aunts. He sits down on the window seat when the aunts go into the kitchen and he takes a look he finds the body in the seat! Mortimer thinks Teddy hid the dead man. He knows his brother is crazy so to protect him he gets papers together to have Teddy committed to a mental facility. The aunts tell Mortimer that they are the ones who put the body there and that there are twelve more like him in the basement. They say they do it as an act of kindness only killing lonely men who had no families then they have Teddy burry the bodies by telling him that the men have died from Yellow Fever. Now Mortimer begins to go out of his mind almost as bad as his aunts and Teddy.
Elaine comes by the house to see what is going on since Mortimer is not answering her whistle. She sees he is a total mess and he throws her out. While Mortimer is getting a judge to sign off on the papers to send Teddy away, two ominous looking men come to the door. The two men come in. One is a tall scary looking man who looks like Boris Karloff and the other is short nervous man. The aunts were hiding on the stairs and ask who the men are and what they want. The taller man says that he is their nephew Jonathan. Jonathan is a criminal who is wanted all over the world for murdering people. He is traveling with his plastic surgeon Dr. Einstein (Peter Lorre). Mortimer comes back from seeing the judge and sees Jonathan in the house. By this time Mortimer has just become a nut case himself. He goes in and out of being in oblivion and alert.
Jonathan and Einstein have a dead body on their hands. When the aunts lets slip that Teddy digs in Panama Jonathan plans to hide the body down there. The aunts will not have it they do not want a stranger among their other bodies. In a scene where Jonathan brings the body down to the cellar, Mortimer stays upstairs and talks to Einstein. He tells Einstein about a play he saw that drove him crazy where a man has his back turned to the bad guy as he is talking and is oblivious to the fact that the bad guy is behind him and sits down in a chair. The bad guy comes up behind the guy and strangles him. Well the same thing happens to Mortimer only Jonathan ties him up.
Richard Aiken is about to marry a woman name Susan Darell (Joan Fontaine). He has just recently proposed to her and wants to marry her right away. At Susan’s apartment he sees pictures of the three previous men in her life. She tells him she was married to one of them and almost married to the other two. Susan holds a party at her place where Richard meets Roger (George Brent), Mike, and Bill the men who once held a place in her heart. He gets nervous and wants to talk to the other men so he can see what went wrong with them so he will not make the same mistake. Each man’s view of Susan are completely different, she was a different woman with each men.
Roger goes first since he was the first to know her and he is the only one who knows the real Susan. He was away before starting a play of Joan of Arc. He was getting away from an actress he could not stand when he came upon a house across the lake from him. The house belongs to Susan and her uncle. At first Roger thought she was singing and wearing plain clothes to attract his attention but it turns out she is very naïve and when asked if she ever wanted to be a star she really thought he meant being a star in the sky. While on a walk on the shore she speaks of Joan of Arc and Roger is really taken with the way she recited the story. He has her read the script and likes her rendition. Roger makes Susan the star of his show and married her. While her reviews are good the play fails. The play fails mostly because Susan is so honest and says that the play is not doing well. Roger becomes really upset with her because she cannot lie but finds her perfect for it and so perfect he feels she is that he cannot be with her anymore.
Mike met Susan when Roger brought him into his office to talk about backing a play. Mike is a rich rancher from the Midwest so he has some money to spare. Susan sneaks into Roger’s office and when Mike sees her he is head over heels in love. Susan is no longer the shy and brutally honest woman Roger knew she is now a breezy wild woman who cannot help but tell a fib. Being the naïve one now Mike asks Susan to marry him but unfortunately Susan’s fibbing and sneaking around get her into trouble and he breaks off the engagement.
Things get rough with Michael only making thirty-five dollars a week and she is not working. Their bills are weeks and even months behind. Towards the end of the film their furniture gets reposed. It is New Year’s Day when their furniture gets taken. Michael wants to take her out with the fifty dollars he got working. She tries to make him see that they need to be saved but he thinks everything is financially alright. They go out and she brings up the fact that she needs to go to work but that does not go over well. The couple get back home and Carolyn sees the furniture is back in the house. Hugh has helped them out.
Now the rest of the cast was great except for Gene Raymond. I am not a fan of Raymond’s. I have seen him in other films and to me he is just a filler. He was so odd looking and not that great as an actor he was terrible as the leading man. Robert Young would have been perfect I can see Stanwyck going back to him and being in love with him instead of Raymond. The film would have been perfection if the lead male roles were reversed. Helen Broderick was awesome I love her deadpan-ness. She always seems to be paired with a bum for a boyfriend or husband and plays off that. She had a great scene where she was crying because she was afraid her husband would get hurt.
The Bride Walks Out is a really cute film. I enjoyed seeing Barbara Stanwyck in a comedy makes the whole story so much more enjoyable then it should have been.
Errol Flynn takes a rare turn in a comedy film in Footsteps in the Dark as lawyer by day amateur detective running around with the cops by night. In his spare time Francis is a mystery writer writing under the penname F.X. Pettyjohn. His new book entitled Footsteps in the Dark has sparked some controversy. His mother-in-law and her book club want to sue the author for slander since he has based some of his story on them. His wife and mother-in-law do not know he is the author of the book so throughout the film he has to try to keep his identities in order.
Francis goes out with the police at night working to get ideas for his stories. He comes home late climbing up a lader and through his bedroom window. He has a loving wife Rita who does not suspect anything at first.
At his office one day a man named Leopold Fissue comes in pretty much demanding that he become Francis’s client. The man deals with diamonds and he wants Francis to help him invest them. Francis says that he is not the kind of client he normally takes on but the man is shady and very persuasive. Fissue tells Francis to come by his place that night and they can talk the deal over. Francis goes to Fissue’s place but the man does not show up. His butler tells Francis that Fissue went out on his boat but he cannot imagine what could be keeping him.
Francis finds it odd that Fissue never showed up so he goes to hang out with his police buddies. The station gets a call that a man was found dead on his boat, Francis tags along. The man on the boat is Fissue. The police do not know that Francis is Francis Warren the lawyer they know him only by his pen name so they do not know that Fissue had seen and set up a meeting with the lawyer during the day. Francis is one step ahead of the police who he sees and we see as incompetent and bumbling and are more than happy to stop the case once the coroner reports that Fissue died from cardiac arrest due to alcoholism. Francis knows better and starts his own investigation while the real detectives chase their tails.
The further Francis investigates on his own the more he gets in trouble both with the law and with his wife and mother-in-law.
The very ending of the film is really cute. You know that Francis will never stop doing what does chasing after the police seeking a thrill so his wife figures if he will not stop she will go with him.
As I was watching this film I could not help but thinking of the show Castle with Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic. If you do not watch Castle the show is about an author who tags along with a detective and her team to get information for his books and also helps to solve murders. I would not be surprised if the creator of the show got the idea from Footsteps in the Dark. I enjoyed this film very much. Errol Flynn when he was given the chance to do something more than play cowboys and action heroes was so fabulous. He was so charming and handsome and slick. I like seeing him in his modern roles rather than period pieces. Ralph Bellamy also stars in the film, he is not in it a lot but he has a very important role and one that is so out of character from what he usually played.
Footsteps in the Dark is very different for a classic film which is the reason why it is fun to watch today. The story and plot is light, entertaining and fun. Errol Flynn does not fail to capture and keep your attention with his handsomeness and his charm as he outsmarts the police. Footsteps in the Dark is a hidden classic comedic gem that must be seen by all those who call themselves film buff.
I believe every person on earth has some kind of wish to know the future. Sometimes I think it would be interesting to know if I am going in the right direction with my life. In the 1944 film It Happened Tomorrow, turn of the century reporter Larry Stevens (Dick Powell) get the chance to read the future.
Larry is an ambitious young reporter who like almost all reporters wants to out scoop other reporters. An older man working at the newspaper named Pop tells Larry he can read the future and gives Larry a printed copy of the next day’s paper. The old man cautions that serious consequences can come about but Larry does not really heed the cautions too seriously. Larry feels he has landed the opportunity of a life time. He reads the things in the paper the night before and the next day he excitedly asks his boss to cover the story.
In the midst of everything he meets a young woman named Sylvia Smith (Linda Darnell). She and her Uncle Oscar (Jack Oakie) are performers outing on a fake clairvoyant act. Larry is very taken with Sylvia asking her out and even bringing her home even though she is reluctant at first. The next day he takes Sylvia to the opera where he knows a crime will happen. He reports the whole deal but then he is later questioned in connection with the crime.
The more Larry reads the next day’s paper the more he gets in trouble. One day he reads a notice in the paper that he has died! He quickly marries Sylvia and just as quickly gets into big trouble that threatens his life.
I really liked the film I liked the story and the acting was very good. Dick Powell is so good in anything he does. He had the perfect touch of drama and comedy. Linda Darnell I had never seen before in a film but I liked her. Jack Oakie ever since I saw him in The Great Dictator just cracks me up he was so funny.
My favorite scene in the film is when Sylvia has to wear Larry’s suit, hat, and shoes because her clothes are wet. Her keys are in her dress but the dress is at Larry’s so she has to climb through the window to get to her room. Everything she touches is noisy and sets a dog off barking. One of the ladies living in the same boarding house as she sees Sylvia climbing in the window but because she is in Larry’s clothes the lady things a man is climbing into Sylvia’s room and robbing her!! The scenes after that are so funny.
It Happened Tomorrow is very good. I liked the story of Larry innocently wanting to be a good reporter and kind of cheating his way through it and experiencing the consequences. It Happened Tomorrow is light, short, entertaining film with a nice story.
The moral of the film is to take life a day at the time which we should all do and not rush to know what tomorrow will bring.
“Such a nice young thing. Not a bit like an American.”
Going into The White Cliffs of Dover I was expecting the most sappy, over dramatic love story that was most likely going to be alright with the only saving grace being Irene Dunne in the lead role. Yes the film is very dramatic and romantic but it is so sentimental, happy, sad, and tragic.
The story of the film is told through a flashback of a woman who is working as a nurse during World War II named Susan Ashwood (Dunne). In 1914 before World War I started Susan along with her father Hiram Dunn (Frank Morgan) travel to England for vacation. As the ship is nearing the dock in London she can see the white cliffs of the island of Dover. Upon seeing the cliffs for the first time she cries she cannot believe the beauty that is before her eyes.
Susan has a fantastic time in London even though the whole time people keep commenting on how un-American her actions, speech, and mannerisms are. Her father is very stubborn and ignorant towards the British he cannot wait for their week in the city to be over so they can go home to their small American town. Before they are set to leave Susan is invited to a ball where the only way she can get in is to pretend she is an Australian cousin of someone she knows. At the party a young man named Sir John Ashwood comes up to her thinking she is of Australian nobility. As the party progresses and ends the two fall in love. John takes her through bits and pieces of London and Susan is totally taken with him and the city.
John and Susan eventually marry but not long after their marriage World War I breaks out and John must join his regiment. Susan and John’s mother wait on pins and needles to hear from him. The last time Susan sees John is when the wives of English soldiers are allowed to travel to France to see their husbands who have been away for more than two years. The reunion is happy but full of sadness not knowing what the future holds.
Susan kept saying that she wanted America to join the War so that it could end and John can come home. When the Americans finally do enter the War they march through London Susan holds up her son who at the time is only three months old and tells him that they are his people as well since he is part Yankee and that he has witnessed the greatest men of them all march through London and that they will bring his father home. Unfortunately the Americans join the fight too late, John dies for his country. Susan is so distraught she takes her son and promises that no matter what he will not fight in any army British or American that he will never have to sacrifice his life for what she sees as something so stupid.
John Jr. grows up and when he is still a young boy Susan wants to take him back to American. The young boy stops the trip when he innocently and passionately says that he wants to be like his father and fight for his country he is not scared to do so.
Back in the present Susan hears that there are men coming in from battle and waits to see if her son could possibly be one of the wounded. He is and the outcome is not good for him. As Susan stands with her son the Americans are marching in just as they did twenty-five years previous.
I cannot even describe to you how heartbreaking and amazing this film is. I was damn near crying so many times it was nuts. Irene Dunne is the reason why this film is so amazing. For the life of me I do not understand why she was not nominated and how she did not win an Academy Award. Dunne was a fabulous actress to begin with but in this film she was just utter perfection. I am so used to seeing her in her comedic roles that seeing her dramatic just blew me away. She was not over the top in any sense of the word. When watching Dunne in The White Cliffs of Dover you are not just watching an actress it is as if Susan Ashwood was a real caring and loving widow and mother. I will never ever stop being confused as to why she is not well known today and why she is so underrated. Irene Dunne is one of the best actresses ever.
The older John Ashwood is played by Alan Marshal who I have never seen in a film before but liked him so much it was so sad to see him go so soon. The young John Jr. is played by Roddy MacDowell and at the end by a young Peter Lawford. Seeing Lawford playing Dunne’s son seemed a bit odd but she was twenty-five years older than him. Frank Morgan will always be the Wizard from The Wizard of Oz but he is always a good time to see in other films. He was funny always screaming out how Americans were better than the British. Elizabeth Taylor has a small part in the film as a little girl who lives on the Ashwood land with her family and whom John Jr. regularly visits.
I cannot even pinpoint the best scene of the film because they are all so fantastic. I liked the scene when Susan has gone back to the hotel after taking John to the train to rejoin his regiment at the front. There is a bandstand outside the room and all the people outside start shouting and become all excited. American has entered the War and the band starts to play the Star Spangled Banner. The only thing I really did not like was the back and forth about the Americans and the Brits. I love the Brits too much and I think I become more upset if someone says something nasty about them than if someone says something nasty about Americans (I am such a good American right?).
At no point during The White Cliffs of Dover was I ever bored or wanted it to end. Let me tell you that with me that rarely happens when I watch any kind of movie. I can just gush forever and ever about how incredible this film is (even if it is one big shout of American propaganda) but just take it from me The White Cliffs of Dover is one of the best films ever made.