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Flick Clique: March 25-31

Boardwalk Empire: Season 1 (DVD, 2012). I love this show! Great acting, great production design and a plot that keeps you guessing about what will happen next. Like Mad Men, it took a few episodes to truly suck us in. It might be that the idea of Steve Buscemi as a powerful treasurer who rules 1920s Atlantic City takes some getting used to – but he adds the right amount of snark to the role. I could even believe him as a chick magnet (power is a great aphrodisiac). There’s also a ton of interesting supporting characters – Shea Whigham as the police commisioner/Buscemi’s brother, Michael Pitt and Gretchen Mol as a mother/son with a weirdly incestuous relationship, Michael Shannon as the IRS agent with borderline psychotic puritanical values, Kelly Macdonald as the “not as virtuous as she appears” suffragette widow … can’t wait for the next season.
The Million Dollar Duck (1971). Over the past few years I’ve been exploring Disney’s live-action comedies from the ’60s and ’70s, this Dean Jones/Sandy Duncan opus was the last (and definitely the least). This one concerns a special duck that, through a combo of radioactive exposure and a toxic applesauce recipe, winds up laying eggs with yolks made of pure gold. The hijinks involving the main couple’s greedy pal Tony Roberts and the U.S. Treasury are lame and totally unbelievable. I could see why Gene Siskel walked out of it, but at least the climactic chase scene (filmed in and around Burbank and Toluca Lake, near the Disney studio) was kind of fun – and the duck was cute.
A Night To Remember (1958). Reviewing this for DVD Talk (the first Criterion disc I got from them!). I won’t elaborate too much — this wound up being much better than I remember. Criterion gives this film, still the most realistic telling of the Titanic disaster, the classy treatment it deserves. I enjoyed comparing/contrasting this with James Cameron’s Titanic – although the more recent film conveys the enormity of the shipwreck better (Night‘s obvious use of miniatures and models are a slight hindrance), this one has a better grasp on the events as they really happened. In the end, the decision of the filmmakers not to focus on any particular character works out for the better and ultimately makes it the more touching, emotional experience of the two.
The Straight Story (1999). Also known as David Lynch’s most atypical film, this heart warming drama tells the real-life chronicle of Richard Farnsworth’s Alvin Straight, an old Iowan who undertakes a multi-state journey to visit with his ailing brother Lyle (Harry Dean Stanton, only seen in the final few minutes). Unable to drive and unwilling to have someone else transport him, he decides to travel on a vintage 1966 tractor with a specially fitted trailer. The slower mode of transport allows him to meet a variety of folks along the way, including a sulky runaway, a kindly couple and a fellow WWII vet. Lynch seems to enjoy conveying the quirkiness of these salt-of-the-earth folk, but it’s rarely condescending. The film is rather slow and talky at times, but Farnsworth delivers an excellent performance, aided by Sissy Spacek as his learning-disabled daughter. I also enjoyed the long, loving pans of midwestern farmland, the homey soundtrack, and the bit with the woman who was distraught at her car hitting a deer
The Thirteenth Guest (1932). A harmless little quickie, this early Monogram Studios production has Ginger Rogers in one of her earliest roles as a young woman who revisits an old house left vacant from a party she attended 13 years earlier. At the party, various members of a family were invited to find out who inherited the mansion owner’s estate, but the 13th guest failed to show up – and the host croaked. All these years later, someone is murdering the other guests. Will detective Lyle Talbot find the killer before Ginger and the rest become worm food? Silly, hard to follow, occasionally fun. The nicest thing about films of these vintage is that they’re short — barely over an hour, in this case.

One Thought on “Flick Clique: March 25-31

  1. rae a reed on April 3, 2012 at 11:04 pm said:

    Cute pix
    Thanks for the trip back in time…I love the Beaver pond book and the little hippo.
    Haven’t seen those in years..

    Thanks for sharing. Enjoy your website.

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