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  1. That's been the hallmark of the series since it started, the thing that made it different from what it seemed in advance it would be. Given the premise "A 30-ish brother and sister, who are still struggling to find a place as actors, see their no-talent teenage brother 'jump the queue' and become instantly famous as a performer," one might reasonably expect them to be resentful and dismissive of him. But right from the beginning they've looked after him and cared about him, and that's why I love it.
  2. The Sherman Brothers' Tom Sawyer too.
  3. As interested as I am in the movie (I think I bought the original souvenir book from the roadshow showings), I somehow didn't know this. In fact, I'm still a bit incredulous: that crescent looked so vast and real, exactly like the ones that get filmed in London and Bath! I find that Shepperton does have a "back lot" that allows outdoor sets, so at least I don't have to believe that they built all that indoors. One of my favorite visual memories is the alley outside Fagin's lair, in which three-dimensional buildings blend with painted vistas, which usually isn't successful in other movies, but
  4. I would put it more strongly, and say that the movie Oliver! is a great improvement on the stage show (this almost never happens). The weaker songs are omitted (Bill Sikes's solo, for one, though it can be heard as instrumental underscoring -- "villain" songs are notoriously hard to write convincingly unless one goes all the way to opera), "Oom Pah Pah" is turned from a divertissement into a suspenseful plot moment, and the overall design is wonderful (one of the few times a mixture of realistic locations and stage-like sets has really worked). Ron Moody, Shani Wallis, and Jack Wild all provid
  5. I'm no devotee of Al Jolson's performance myself, never have been (I've always preferred the controlled performers over the ones who "give" so much, they spill their guts on the floor). But there's no denying that he really was that huge, it's not a myth. The biggest songwriters were happy to write for him, illustrious singers were proud to duet with him. I think it is somewhat of a lost style now, hard to recover or to imagine how it ever worked; but we have the evidence that it did work. And it's tempting to say "it's not jazz" (that would be my first reaction too), but in fact it was.
  6. I'd like to see it face off against another late-60s big-name-cast comedy bomb, Skidoo.
  7. When we read Of Human Bondage in high school, they showed us the Kim Novak movie. I remember liking it, all the more so when I caught the Bette Davis version on TV a few years later and didn't care for it at all. But that was my stupid adolescent self, before I'd learned how to "read" older acting and filming styles. I wondered how I'd feel now, so I DVR'd the Novak when the rare opportunity arose this week. I just have to fit in the time to actually watch it, around my Olympic viewing and writing obligations.
  8. Summer Under the Stars was mentioned. Here is the lineup I've seen for August this year: 1 Bette Davis 2 Richard Burton 3 Kim Novak 4 Louis Armstrong 5 Margaret Rutherford 6 Robert Mitchum 7 Abbott & Costello 8 Esther Williams 9 Kay Francis 10 George Segal 11 Kathryn Grayson 12 Ramon Novarro 13 Jane Fonda 14 Gregory Peck 15 Judy Garland 16 Robert Young 17 Gloria Grahame 18 Robert Redford 19 Setsuko Hara 20 Van Heflin 21 Katharine Hepburn 22 Tyrone Power 23 Eve Arden 24 Maurice Chevalier 25 Jane Wyman 26 Tony Randall 27 Merle Oberon
  9. Believe me (or not, I suppose), I have no particular desire to see Ryan O'Neal again, and I was as surprised as anyone that he was... adequate to the demands of The Driver. I don't see how a movie can be overrated when it's totally forgotten and disregarded. I was venturing only that it deserves maybe one repeat viewing, if we're going to make a feature of neo-noir, because it was one of the seminal examples. I was hoping for a lot from Cutter's Way when I first saw it (I'd say a preference for Jeff Bridges is near-universal, and I was also a fan of John Heard at that time, after Between
  10. It doesn't seem to be on this month's schedule, but if they continue with neo-noir in the future, surely they'll get to 1978's The Driver. Like most of the US, I missed it on initial release, but I caught up with it in one of the repertory cinema houses that swept the country a couple of years later, and I think I actually used the term "neo-noir" or maybe "essence of film noir" to describe it to a friend. Walter Hill wrote and directed it, none of the characters have names (they're just the characters one would expect in a pared-down story like this: The Driver, The Detective, The Player, The
  11. I first saw Body Heat at a sneak preview before its release. (Not in the older sense -- they didn't solicit opinions about it, presumably they were just building interest pre-opening.) As an extra, before the feature I actually wanted to see, I found it diverting, especially knowing absolutely nothing in advance; for a while I wondered if it was going to be all atmosphere, and then it became clear that no, there was going to be lots and lots of plot. Sounds good to me! All that is true, but I regard it as an asset, not a flaw. A few points of my own: There can't have been many mo
  12. There are two movies called Girl Crazy, and they've both been shown on TCM. The earlier one is a rather crudely made early-talkies job, adapted for the then-popular Wheeler-Woolsey comedy team, and with few songs remaining. The later is more often seen, and heavily adapted in its own way for the talents of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. They both have their ups and downs in terms of quality. So, heaven knows, does When the Boys Meet the Girls. See it, if you choose to, as a nutty historical artifact, an attempt to adapt the Gershwin source once again for the 60s teen-movie audience, with pop
  13. I decided to record The Cool Ones, thinking that "A millionaire manager (Roddy McDowall) pairs an aspiring singer (Debbie Watson) with a fading rock star (Gil Peterson) in a duo made for Hollywood" sounded like a 1967 time capsule of Hollywood trying to deal with These Kids Today. Oh my. I had no idea. How this isn't one of the all-time unintentional-camp classics, on a par with Showgirls or Valley of the Dolls, I have no idea. It has everything: the aforementioned pair of cute kids, an assortment of almost-made-it pop acts in the background (anyone remember Mrs. Miller?), weird assortmen
  14. That book is highly worth reading. It lays out step by step the compromises that happened in production, in adapting, in casting, during shooting, as they happened. Sometimes with good intentions, sometimes with cynical ones. Each step small, but they snowballed into a result that's just hopelessly wrong.
  15. Yes, the exploitation of O'Neal's physical aspects is part of what I meant, and the fact that it's being pushed at Oates as well as us: like a GQ model (barefoot and barechested) in their first encounter, fully naked in a later one, and all their meetings are elements in "winning him over." The script is a pretty close adaptation of the source novel (which I read), except that the central character is crucially older in the book, someone who's been around long enough to be disillusioned (think Gene Hackman). I did see Moment by Moment, and I'm afraid it deserves its reputation (not t
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