Monday, January 16, 2012

Movie Update 36

These were expiring, so I watched them. Yep.

Ball of Fire

A screwball comedy directed by Howard Hawks, featuring Gary Cooper playing off type as an awkward, stuffy intellectual and Barbara Stanwyck playing very much on type as a club singer and mob boss' girlfriend who helps him and his fellow encyclopedia writers come out of their shells. Ball of Fire is mostly an enjoyable movie, though there's definitely something very weird about it. The professors are all pretty likable guys, but it's just a little uncomfortable seeing them all fawn over a young and attractive woman, even if it's innocent. The shift from her using them to avoid the police to actually getting romantically interested in Cooper is pretty abrupt as well. As I said though, it's mostly a fun movie.


Sidney Lumet movies are often based on plays or feel like they could be, taking place in a small number of locations and not being particularly visually flashy. That's definitely the case with Deathtrap, though I think the entire thing being limited mostly to a single house works in its favor. Deathtrap was a play about writing a play based on a murder, and the fact that the movie version isn't a play itself does do a little to remove some of the inherent cleverness of the structure. But the story still works, and the performances by Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve are really good. I can't say as much about the other characters, but it's both an amusing and incredibly tense movie at times, with some great twists and surprises.

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

It was a big surprise for this movie to be in color, though apparently that was a thing for its makers Powell and Pressburger while most directors from the 40s were still working in black and white. The movie is based on British cartoons about a blowhard English military man, though it tells an original story about how such a man might come to be like that over a lifetime of fighting in wars. Roger Livesey and Anton Walbrook give a pair of great performances, first as young soldiers, then as middle aged veterans of the first World War, then as old relics at the beginning of the second. There's also an amusing bit with Deborah Kerr playing three different women who all look the same at various points in his life. The movie is concerned with many things, but the main one I thook away from it is how a lifetime of experiences can affect a person and make them who they are. A great and refreshingly civil war movie.

Odd Man Out

Carol Reed's The Third Man is a classic of the noir genre, though I can't say I enjoyed Odd Man Out nearly as much. It has an interesting subject, with James Mason playing an IRA leader who gets wounded and stranded in the middle of Belfast (though the film is not actually explicit about either of those references). There are some interesting moments sprinkled throughout, though I was mostly kind of bored while I was watching it, which shouldn't happen with a movie about hiding from the police and troublesome politics. I didn't think it was bad, I was just rarely actively intrigued by what was happening, and with a genre that thrives on intrigue, it was disappointing.

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