buy Flomax no prescription Synthroid without prescription buy buspar buy Singulair online buy Prednisone online Amitriptyline lasix without prescription buy buspar online buy super Levitra online Prednisone without prescription buy trazodone without prescription Zithromax No Prescription Propecia Amoxicillin

Category Archives: Roundup

Flick Clique: April 26 – May 2

Exclusive Story (1936). A DVD that I picked from the screener pool at DVD Talk. I was excited to see this one because a) we rarely get Warner Archive discs in the pool and b) vintage movies are especially hard there. Exclusive Story is an efficiently produced little b-drama from MGM starring dapper Franchot Tone as a lawyer who comes to the aid of a pretty lady (the gorgeous Madge Evans) whose father’s business is being hounded by criminals running an underground numbers game. This film packs a lot of action/story into under 75 minutes in an absorbing (if overly complex) and thoroughly fun romp. When the Madge Evans character seeks help at the local newspaper, it prompts a lot of salty dialogue from the reporter who is trying to seek a scoop on the criminal (played with a hammy menace by Joseph Calleia). Although Tone contributes a lot, the main male lead is really Stuart Irwin as the reporter – it’s interesting to see him in a complex, non-comic role as a decent family man who sincerely wants to help Evans and not exploit her situation. The story mixes gangster drama and domestic theatrics, along with an exciting sequence set aboard a cruise liner set afire with passengers desperately trying to escape. Although the film on the whole is somewhat routine, I found it a brisk example of studio-craft and basically worthwhile (having never seen it on TCM, this one is completely new to me).
Mantrap (1926). The other feature film on my spiffy Treasures 5: The West 1898-1938 DVD set is this recently refurbished Clara Bow comedy in which she plays a flirty city gal who falls for an older country bumpkin. Her Alverna impulsively marries dim but earnest shopkeeper Joe (Ernest Torrance) and moves to the lakeside town of Mantrap, Canada (actually California’s Lake Arrowhead). Flapper Alverna becomes perfectly bored with country life until her prospects change when lawyer Ralph Prescott (Percy Marmont) comes to town on vacation. Smoothly directed and shot by Victor Fleming and cinematographer James Wong Howe, this lightweight fluff is mostly carried by Clara and her charms. If you ever wondered why she was called “The It Girl,” get a load of her coquettish, casually sexy performance here and wonder no longer (no surprise that Bow regarded this as the best of her star vehicles). She makes up for the routine story and the fact that other two actors are rather dull – and homely. This film contains that one famous clip of Bow where she winks and does a little “c’mere” motion with her index finger.
Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (1939). Last of the slight yet enjoyable Warner Bros. series of b-movies starring cute ‘n perky Bonita Granville as the iconic teen detective. I believe Hidden Staircase was the only one of the four to be based on one of the books, although apparently very loosely. The story concerns a pair of spinsters, neighbors in Nancy’s little town, living in an old house who are subject to a will that stipulates one of them must stay in the house every night for 20 years to inherit it (yes, this is the stuff that b-movies run on!). People want the property to build a racetrack on, however, so the sisters are subjected to weird stuff happening in the house – including the murder of their chauffeur, a deed which implicates them in the killing. Nancy knows better, so she enlists the help of her skeptical yet game boyfriend Ted (Frankie Thomas) to investigate the mysterious old house. These are silly but film flicks, decently produced and fast paced. It’s kind of amazing, the ballsy stuff that Nancy does in these flicks – lying to the authorities, venturing into weird places alone, etc. I wonder if young girls got into trouble trying to emulate what she did in these films? The Bonita Granville Nancys are all pretty interchangeable; Hidden Staircase ranks as slightly fizzier and more enjoyable than the others.
Showgirls (1996). All-time trash classic? Although I’ve had this one in my queue for a while, we shuttled it to the top after Christopher read the autobiography of screenwriter Joe Eszterhas. Whatta trip! This “film” is every bit as lousy as I’ve heard, but it’s also strangely watchable and enjoyable in a way that many bad (boring) films never achieve. That might be due to the direction of Paul Verhoeven, who seems clued in to the script’s ridiculousness and amplifies the campy, gaudy awfulness of it all to a huge, eyeball-straining degree. Poorly cast Elizabeth Berkley plays Nomi, an ambitious if short-fused dancer who hitches her way to Vegas and eventually (after a series of hilarious mishaps) scores a job as a stripper. That oughta be enough to satisfy any burger- and tacky-nails-lovin’ gal, but instead she sets her sights on the very top – being a showgirl at a big time casino! Thanks to help from sleazy impersario Kyle MacLachlan and lesbian-leaning diva Gina Gershon, she makes it to the chorus in a show called “Goddess” – but can she unseat the show’s vain star? Unintentional hilarity ensues, but it’s also scary how everybody in this movie is either predatory, sleazy or incredibly stupid. In the dimwits’ corner is Berkely’s Nomi, who is utterly anti-sexy and untalented despite what other characters say. She’s also a bitter pill, but it must be a tribute to the woman’s talent (?) that I found myself rooting for her in the end. This despite loads of trashy sets, clothing and food (really, what is it with all the junk food?) and choreography that seemed inspired by diabetic seizures. I actually dug the insane ’90s-ness of it all, an aesthetic that really stands out with a decade or so of distance. Can’t believe I haven’t seen this until now, sorta want to watch it again.
W.E. (2011). Madonna’s artsy ode to Wallis Simpson and conspicuous consumption was pretty roundly blasted by the critics, wasn’t it? Suprisingly, I found it interesting if a strangely verging on luxurious object porn (at times, it looked like an auction catalog). W.E. criss-crosses between the real drama of Britain’s Prince Edward (James D’Arcy) falling for commoner divorcee Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborogh), and a modern day Manhattanite/Wallis fan (Abbie Cornish) stuck in a dreary marriage. The latter’s story has the well-heeled woman being absorbed by the goods in the 1998 auction of Simpson’s personal effects while a flirty Sotheby’s security guard (Oscar Isaac) takes a special interest in her. I found the acting/drama in this film vaguely interesting if not too absorbing. What I thought was funny were the times when Madonna seemed to be visually referencing her own music videos – like “Cherish” (Edward and Wallis frolicking in the surf) or “Oh Father” (Wallis’ string of pears getting flown off her neck in dramatic slo-mo). There’s also times when she’s basically copying the style of Sofia Coppola part and parcel. Still, I enjoyed Risenborogh’s performance as Wallis (the same can’t be said for the vacant-faced Cornish) – she emerges here as a steel-nerved, no-nonsense chick who won’t take guff from nobody. Also an opportunist and a lady who is hung up on her own celebrity – a lot like Madonna, no?

Flick Clique: April 22-28

The Docks Of New York (1929). The last film we saw from the Criterion Collection’s Three Silent Classics by Josef Von Sterberg set. This one has the formidable star of Underworld, George Bancroft, as a steamship worker who is on shore leave when he sees a sad, attractive blonde (Betty Compson) throwing herself off the dock, a suicide attempt. He’s captivated by the woman, who hangs out suspiciously at the local dive with her unhappily married friend (Olga Baclanova of Freaks). As Bancroft and the cynical Compson strike up a relationship, they impulsively decide to marry. The lure of the sea is too great for Bancroft, however, and Compson harbors a secret that may destroy their brief union. Athough the simple story in this one isn’t quite as compelling as Underworld or The Last Command, the film is still a great example of silent filmmaking at its zenith. I loved the photography; Compson is given some beatific close-ups that are comparable to the lovingly crafted shots Von Sternberg would later do with Marlene Dietrich. There’s also a lot of subtle dynamics going on between Bancroft and Compson and the other characters. They really did speak volumes in gestures and glances to make up for the absence of dialogue – then sound had to come along and ruin it (temporarily, at least).
Hit! (1973). Overlooked, gritty drama from many of the same people who worked on Lady Sings the Blues. This one has Billy Dee Williams as a crusading DEA agent who takes things to the next level when his daughter dies from taking a bad hit of heroin. Hit! was a recent disc that I picked to write on from the DVD Talk screener pool; my review was just published here.
The Kids Are All Right (2010). Another film that was on my Netflix queue forever before it arrived here at Chez Scrubbles this week. This is the one with Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as a pair of long-together lesbian moms whose cushy world is upturned when their kids decide to contact the man who donated his sperm to the couple. Even though the dialogue was a little too stagy and the film was hobbled by a California-liberal sensibility that was hard to relate to, I enjoyed it a lot. Mostly for the outstanding performances of Moore and Bening, although Mark Ruffalo (as the long-absent dad) and Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson (as the kids) contributed good work as well. This is one of the few films I’ve seen where the main characters’ gayness is just taken as a fact of life, and that was refreshing to see. Not so refreshing was the way the story panned out with the Moore character (minor spoiler) having an affair with Ruffalo. Not to matter, however – the film has a lot of fresh and funny dialogue and it kept me absorbed all the way through the (sappy) ending.
The Second Woman (1950). Intriguing little psychological drama, borrowing heavily from films like Rebecca but entertaining all the same. The story concerns Betsy Drake as Ellen Foster, a mousy but intelligent woman who is visiting her aunt (Florence Bates) in a coastal California town that looks a lot like Monterey. Ellen is captivated by local architect Jeff Cohalan (Robert Young), a withdrawn man whose fiancee died under mysterious circumstances in an auto accident. Ellen befriends Jeff and becomes the first woman invited into his luxe modern home perched on a rocky outpost since the tragedy. As she gets closer to him and prompts the locals’ tongues wagging, strange things start happening that indicate he was responsible for his fiancee’s death. Can he be reformed, or is he not as dangerous as people think? This was an interesting little flick from my Mystery Classics DVD set (Christopher picked it – good choice, C!). I enjoyed the warm performances of Drake (an offbeat casting choice) and Young, who didn’t get these kind of multi-layered roles too often. Most fascinating was the modern design of Young’s home. Midcentury modern furnishings were surprisingly not used very often in classic films. Whenever they were employed, it was used with characters who were shady or (in this case) impenetrable. Although the film is sometimes derivative, The Second Woman is worth seeking out.

Flick Clique: April 15-21

Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952). This week, we saw three fluffy comedies. The colorful Rock Hudson musical Has Anybody Seen My Gal? was the most enjoyable of them, by a hair-thin margin. This nostalgic piece of corn has Charles Coburn as a dying self-made millionaire who bequeaths his estate to the descendants of the woman who spurned him several decades earlier, prompting him to acquire his fortune. Before that can happen, however, Coburn disguises himself as a humble painter and rooms with the family who will benefit from the smaller but still substantial check he anonymously sends them – to see how the money changes their lives. The household includes the now-deceased woman’s son (Larry Gates), his stuck-up wife (Lynn Bari), their hunky co-ed son (William Reynolds), precocious younger daughter (Gigi Perreau), and worldly older daughter (Piper Laurie). The Piper Laurie character is dating the earnest soda jerk (Hudson) at the drug store her father runs, a relationship that runs afoul once the family becomes part of the town’s jet-set. Pure hokum with awkwardly placed musical sequences and an odd sense of 1920s small-town life, but I was entertained by it all the same. Douglas Sirk directed this one – although it lacks the caustic commentary of his later melodramas, he does a good job keeping things light and lively. I also dug the little bit with James Dean as a soda fountain customer!
Peck’s Bad Boy with the Circus (1938). Fluffy yuk-yuk #2 was this kiddie circus flick from my Comedy Kings: 50 Movie Pack DVD set. Bill Peck was a literary boy-scamp, similar to Tom Sawyer, who was popular early in the 20th century. The character was played by young actors Jackie Coogan and Jackie Cooper; At the Circus was a revival with freckled Tommy Kelly in the role. In this film, Bill Peck gets involved in a traveling circus where jealousy involving a lady lion tamer (Benita Hume) causes the popular young bareback rider (Ann Gillis) to lose the top spot in the ring. In scheming to get her back in the troupe, Peck winds up taking the girl’s place. All this is happening while Peck furiously gets back to the nearby boys’ camp to win the relay race trophy! Silly nonsense, but I actually enjoyed watching it. The capable supporting cast includes Edgar Kennedy (slow-burning policeman in all those Hal Roach comedy shorts), William Demarest, and one of my fave movie maids, Louise Beavers.
The Rage of Paris (1938). Fluffy yuk-yuk #3 also came from the Comedy Kings, and with it I am finished with all of the 1930s films on that set (thus far, I’ve seen probably two-thirds of its fifty features). The breezy Rage of Paris attempted to do for French actress Danielle Darrieux what Three Smart Girls did for Deanna Durbin. Both are glossy, lightweight Universal productions, although this particular film isn’t nearly as memorable. The story concerns Darrieux’s Nicole, a poor but pretty young French girl struggling in New York. One of her neighbors, played by a wonderful Helen Broderick, sees an opportunity to mold Nicole into a fetching beauty who could nab a rich husband. She and budding restauranteur Mischa Auer decide to invest in the girl, and sure enough she attracts the attention of millionaire Louis Hayward. Their plan may fall apart, however, since Hayward’s best friend, wealthy businessman Douglas Fairbanks Jr., knows that Darrieux isn’t the Parisian socialite she’s pretending to be. Kind of a fun frolic, highlighted with Darrieux’s scene where she performs a coin trick. I enjoyed her (despite a performance that verges onto the cutesy), and she has a nice interplay with Broderick and Auer. Hayward is merely okay, however, and I always thought the debonair Fairbanks seemed too refined to be a truly believable leading man (okay, he seems a bit gay to me). It’s interesting to see Darrieux, a lady who is still active in films, in an American production.
Shockproof (1949). Overlooked film noir, directed by Douglas Sirk (again), takes place in several actual Los Angeles locales during its best period (yes, there’s a reason why an entire videogame has been made around it). This sordid tale follows a cynical woman named Jenny (Patricia Knight), recently released from prison for killing a man in defense of her shady boyfriend Harry (John Baragey). Her parole officer, Griff (Cornel Wilde), arranges a job and room and board for her, but circumstances prompt her to wind up living in Griff’s home with his blind mother and prissy little brother. In his efforts to keep Jenny away from Harry and his bad influence, Griff and the lady con form a bond and end up falling for each other. When Harry finds out about the affair, his jealousy gets him on the wrong side of a fatal bullet. Intriguing, well-crafted film that turns somewhat ludicrous when the lovers take it on the lam. Loved the location shooting (of course), and the previously-unknown-to-me Knight makes for an alluring femme fatale. She and Wilde were married at the time, which might account for Wilde being more layered and not nearly as bland as he usually is. The other characters were somewhat cut-and-dried, but it’s a fun film. Douglas Sirk was quite a versatile director, doing this and the escapist Has Anybody Seen My Gal? within the span of a few short years.
Smash His Camera (2009). Absorbing, lively, not entirely convincing documentary on celeb photographer Ron Galella and his notorious run-ins with Jacqueline Onassis and the like in the ’70s. I vaguely remember hearing about the Jackie case in the ’80s (when she re-sued him!), so it was interesting to see how this film treated those events through the eye of the older, mellower but still feisty Galella. The film also delves into the current life of the photographer as he gamely tramps out to celeb speaking engagements and premieres, observing how the scene has changed since the man’s ’70s peak. I can’t help but compare this with Bill Cunningham New York. That film was much more inspiring and watchable than this one, but both have their charms driven from the colorfulness of their main subjects. Although a pleasant fellow, Galella mostly comes across in the film as a classless hack with an inflated sense of self-worth. He also apparently had a dangerous, stalker-like attachment to Onassis. The re-hashing of the celebrated trial he had against Jackie O. made the actual circumstances of their conflict seem quite tame, actually.

Flick Clique: April 8-14

I’m No Angel (1933). Having some extra time to myself this week, I decided to check out some older unwatched DVDs in my (modest) collection. I’m No Angel was part of the Mae West Glamour Collection, and it is truly a star vehicle for the curvy, bawdy actress. It really strikes me just how different and weird West was, and this is no exception. In a story written by West herself, Mae plays a hootchie-cootchie dancer turned famous circus lion tamer named Tira. As she works her way up the showbiz ladder (innocently enough) she befriends many men including a horny Texan (William B. Davidson), a New York dandy (Kent Taylor), and the latter’s handsome lawyer cousin (Cary Grant). A scandal involving Taylor and Grant embroils her in a court case, but Mae being Mae she ultimately prevails with all her jewels and gowns intact. This was actually quite a funny, jazzy film with a few odd, spicy songs sung by Mae. It’s interesting to watch how she interacts with her maid and servants in this picture. While the role of Tira’s maid Libby is stereotypical as usual, the role is played in a nice, empathic way by actress Libby Taylor. There seems to be an understanding between Tira and Libby (and the other servants she eventually employs) that women need to do whatever they can to get by, preferably with a lot of sass and humor. Fascinating stuff.
The Last Command (1929). Last week’s Flick Clique included Underworld from the recent Criterion/Josef Von Sternberg silent set; this week we turned our attention to The Last Command. Although this film also stars the enigmatic Evelyn Brent, it’s best known for being one of the performances that got burly Emil Jannings awarded the first Best Actor Academy Award. I’d say Jannings deserved it – he does a nuanced, outstanding job here as a Russian general whose twisted past leads him from his motherland to Hollywood and bit parts as a hollowed-out old man. The film is slickly made and beautifully photographed in that rich way that silents achieved just before sound came in and messed things up for a while. Co-starring a young William Powell as Jannings’ adversary, Last Command benefits from several memorable set pieces, including a train wreck effectively done with detailed model work.
Nothing Sacred (1937). The other vintage comedy I watched with some extra time on my hands. The pleasant yet unexceptional Nothing Sacred follows Carole Lombard’s Hazel Flagg, a simpering small town girl who is diagnosed with a terminal disease. A second visit with her doctor (Charles Winninger) reveals that it was a false alarm. Before she can reveal the truth, however, scooping reporter Fredric March sells her on a gala tour of New York which exploits her sob-sister appeal on the city’s masses to the approval of March’s editor (Walter Connolly). Cute film, somewhat too brisk and short. As in My Man Godfrey, Lombard’s character got on my nerves but she somehow pulls it off in the end. I was going to have an embedded video here of the picture’s sweet opening credits sequence, but you can actually watch the entire film (including the opening!) on YouTube in a nice-looking print.
Salomy Jane (1914). Confusing but moderately interesting early silent is the only still-extant film from the California Motion Picture Corporation, a unique company that operated out of the state’s northern region, making ample use of the redwood forests for its production. Salomy‘s unengaging story concerns a 19th century girl (Beatriz Michelena, the first Latina film star) who rebuffs the advances of an unsavory young man. Instead, she falls for another man (the interestingly monikered House Peters) who comes to her rescue and ends up being wrongly accused in the other sap’s killing. Quaintly filmed and filled with mannered performances, this film definitely feels 88 minutes long (epic-length in 1914 terms). The scenery held our attentions, a little. This was part of a great 3-DVD set, Treasures 5: The West 1898-1938, a collection of lost/ephemeral films that explore the American West with copious notes and documentation/background info. Although Salomy might make one believe it’s full of Westerns, it’s actually a treasure trove of mostly silent documentaries, home movies, newsreels and other fun stuff. This was my “I paid way to much on taxes, but fuck it I’m getting it anyway” gift to myself.
Where Love Has Gone (1965). Trashy, expensively produced soap opera with Susan Hayward as a San Francisco sculptress who is embroiled in scandal when her sulky daughter (Joey Heatherton, terrible) is accused of killing Hayward’s boyfriend. The girl’s architect father, Mike Connors, is brought in to intervene, leading to an extended flashback to when Hayward and Connors first met and their constant disagreements with Hayward’s imperious dowager mom, Bette Davis. This has all the ingredients for a campy, fun ride, but something intangible is missing here. Perhaps it’s the script, which is full of cringeworthy dialogue that never quite reaches the amusing levels of hysteria in something similar like Portrait in Black. Unlike Lana Turner and Sandra Dee in that flick, Hayward and Heatherton have a strange lack of chemistry which drags the film down. There was also not a lot of believability in the Hayward/Davis relationship, either. Hayward herself was enjoyable enough in this watchable yet curiously unmoving soap.

Flick Clique: April 1-7

The Hunger Games (2012). This was our special movie-day movie from last Wednesday. We’ve never read the books, but the dystopian-future/kids-in-peril concept sounded intriguing enough so we decided to check it out. Although the film has a few flaws, we generally enjoyed it. In case you live under a rock, the story is set in a near-future time where society is split into wealthy cities surrounded by poor communities. The city has a yearly televised competition/reality show in which a boy and girl from each of the twelve local districts between the ages of 12 and 18 (Why? It’s not really explained.) are randomly picked and plopped into a wooded area to survive, fight, kill and rely on their wits until one victor is crowned. Jennifer Lawrence as protagonist Katniss was really good, striking a good balance between inner strength and girly vulnerability/youth (I thought she was even better here than in Winter’s Bone). The story kept my interest, even though it was filled with shallowly drawn characters like Katniss’ boyfriend (Liam Hemsworth) and the smarmy TV host (Stanley Tucci). Things I didn’t like so much were the costumes (everybody looks like Lady Gaga in this world?) and the shaky camera, which was probably used to soften up the violence so the film would get a P-13 rating and safely get all those tweens in the theaters. The game itself suffered from too much outside manipulation by the TV producers. This film also contains one of those terribly cliché scenes where the killer is this close to offing the main character, but then she has to offer up the reasons why the other person deserves to die – we all know how those scenes end up, right? Other than all that stuff, we really enjoyed The Hunger Games.
1911 (2011). Mammoth, hard-to-follow Chinese historical epic stars Jackie Chan as an officer in the Nationalist forces which overthrew the Qing Dynasty in the eventful year of 1911. It’s basically the same story that was partially told in The Last Emperor, only more heavily weighed towards the non-royalty side. The film supplements the narrative with subtitles introducing every character and copious liner notes, giving it a stuffy and impenetrable air. Although Chinese actor Winston Chao has a good gravitas as the Nationalist leader Sun Yat-Sen, he struggles through several English language scenes with laughable dialogue that is phonetically (and weirdly) spoken by the actor. Chan is decent, although too old for his role – and he does an inappropriate scene where he rocks the kung-fu moves. Battle scenes, negotiations, history of suspicious accuracy… what a strange, overproduced film.
Underworld (1927). This early film from Marlene Dietrich svengali Josef Von Sternberg has more interest as a historic curio than anything else, being one of the first contemporary gangster films. Fiery George Bancroft plays a bruiser named Bull, who with his moll Feathers (Evelyn Brent) helps rehabilitate vagrant Rolls Royce (Clive Brook) to be part of his gang of racketeers – headquartered in a flower shop! Rolls Royce and Feathers end up falling for each other, which complicates matters when Bull is sent to the slammer and needs help breaking out. The story is pretty typical, but the film is fast-paced and beautifully photographed. I loved watching this one just for Evelyn Brent’s wild outfits, all of which involve feathers (of course). We have a framed photo of Miss Brent in our living room, by the way – which is perfect, since our home was built in the same year this compelling silent was originally released.

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.