The Feminine Touch (1941)

Every once in awhile I come across an old movie I never heard of and immediately upon watching it, find a new comfort movie.  The Feminine Touch is one such movie!  It's entertaining, funny and makes one yearn for a simpler time.  This movie has the same formula as today's Hallmark Movies - crisis, exploration, crisis, resolution, and is as harmless and comfortable as well.  And, the cast is awesome with Rosalind Russell, Kay Parker, Van Heflin and Don Ameche!  

I wonder the impact of the movie on Americans as it premiered one week after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Did they find some sense of comfort or distraction from it?  I think I might have back then.  There was simply no stress in this movie, and was uplifting in that tongue-in-cheek war of the sexes way.

REVIEWS:  The December 12, 1941 New York Times review of this film sums it up as "All in all, call it a lightly written conversation piece on the overworked subject of marital mix-up with Miss Russell in to…

A Place in the Sun - 1951

A Place in the Sun was disturbing.  How's that for blunt?  I mean, it was a great movie but man - it's squirm worthy, rife with so many tragic themes.  It stars Montgomery Clift, Shelley Winters and Elizabeth Taylor, and they do the film justice, although Clift has that whole brooding thing going on throughout, but I suppose that's the point!

Of all the things going on in this movie, the part that strikes me most is the desperation of Shelley Winter's character.  She's desperate for someone to love her, someone to pay attention to her, and when her husband loses interest, her desperation is palpable.  Disturbing.  
REVIEWS:  The August 28, 1951 New York Times review of this film sums it up nicely: Clift's character "is, in effect, a believable mama's boy gone wrong.Equally poignant is Shelley Winters' characterization of the ill-fated Alice, Miss Winters, in our opinion, has never been seen to better advantage than as the colorless factory hand, bese…

High Society (1956)

High Society, for me, rates as a comfort movie - you know, like comfort food it gives a sense of gemutlichkeit, that nearly indefinable feeling of warmth, friendliness, and good cheer - comfort! I remember seeing this movie as a kid, and I certainly didn't understand the premise, or innuendo, but it had Bing Crosby in it! Of course, today I'm more like - it has Grace Kelly in it!

That being said - along with Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Celeste Holm also starred, and there was even a couple short clips with the inimitable Louis Armstrong!

REVIEWS: Three Movie Buffs always have such interesting reviews, and this one doesn't disappoint! As a matter of fact, I didn't realize this was a remake of Philadelphia Story, which I'll eventually add to this blog. Even Variety liked the movie!


George Kittredge: This is all your fault! You and your whole rotten class!

C. K. Dexter-Haven: Oh, class my...

Mike Connor: ...Grandmother!

RATED: Great mo…

Murder, My Sweet (1944)

Ha!  Wuddaya say about one of the seminal film noir offerings that hasn't been said a million times before?  Here's an excellent introduction by TCM:

PRIMARY CAST:  Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley.  Of course, Claire Trevor plays the femme fatale, and does a great job.  However, betraying my Ginger versus Maryanne predilection, I thought Anne Shirley stole the show 

REVIEWS: The December 31, 1944 edition of Variety had a taut review of Murder, My Sweet, which is apropos for a tight film noir.  But - the Film Noir of the Week blog did a masterful review here!

FAVORITE QUOTE:  In film noir movies, especially those by Raymond Chandler, it's difficult to pick just one.  But in this case...
Philip Marlowe: My feet hurt. And my mind felt like a plumber’s handkerchief.

RATED: Great movie! WATCH IT AGAIN: Definitely DO I WANT TO OWN IT?:  I don't think I need to own it, no.

Remember the Night (1940)

Remember the Night is another of those classic movies set at Christmastime that I absolutely love.  It stars Fred MacMurray and one of my favorites - Barbara Stanwyck!  Much like Christmas in Connecticut, this film has the humor, homey-ness and nostalgia that I enjoy so much at Christmas.  Here's a synopsis from John Oswalt on Amazon:  Just before Christmas, Lee Leander is caught shoplifting. It is her third offense. She is prosecuted by John Sargent. He postpones the trial because it is hard to get a conviction at Christmas time. But he feels sorry for her and arranges for her bail, and ends up taking her home to his mother for Christmas. Surrounded by a loving family (in stark contrast to Lee's own family background) they fall in love. This creates a new problem: how do they handle the upcoming trial?

REVIEWS:Haphazzar Stuff has a great review, my favorite part being when they write: "Remember the Night is a great holiday gem that somehow doesn’t get as much attention a…

The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942)

So, we come to one of my favorite movies across all genre and eras - The Man Who Came to Dinner. I don't remember the first time I saw it, but I know that for years I didn't know the name of the movie, and, in the days before the internet, I just couldn't find it. That all changed when I got internet service - I have no idea when that was, but this was one of the first things I searched for. I have loved every movie Monty Woolley has been in, so this movie is a shoe-in, The Man Who Came to Dinner also stars Bette Davis and Ann Sheridan - again, two of my favorites!

REVIEWS: Bosley Crowther absolutely loves this movie in his January 2, 1942 New York Times review. Here's a snippet: "here, in the space of something like an hour and fifty-two minutes, is compacted what is unquestionably the most vicious but hilarious cat-clawing exhibition ever put on the screen, a deliciously wicked character portrait and a helter-skelter satire, withal." If you click on th…

Since You Went Away (1944)

Since You Went Away is a star-studded movie set on the home-front of World War II.  This is another of those movies that's like comfort food to me, along with the likes of The Man Who Came to Dinner, The More the Merrier, and a host of Christmas classics.  Among the great stars in this movie are Joseph Cotten who is one of my favorites (Niagara and Shadow of a Doubt), and Monty Woolley (The Bishop's Wifeand The Man Who Came to Dinner) who always makes me smirk, thinking I'll probably end up like him - crotchety and kind!

REVIEWS: Here's an excellent classic review by Bosley Crowther from the July 21, 1944 edition of the New York Times. I love classic reviews for classic movies!  Here's another, more contemporary review from Filmsite.

FAVORITE QUOTE:Colonel William G. Smollett: Good morning. Mrs. Hilton, I presume?
Mrs. Anne Hilton: Yes.
Colonel William G. Smollett: May I be permitted to observe that this is the first house I've found in this godforsaken community t…

Portrait of Jenny (1948)

Portrait of Jennie was a surprisingly good movie! As much as I love old movies. .. and as long as I've been watching them, I only recently learned of this one. And I'm glad I did. Joseph Cotten is one of my favorite actors (Shadow of a Doubt being one of my top five movies), and who doesn't like Jennifer Jones?

REVIEWS: Bosley Crowther absolutely pans this movie in his March 30, 1949 New York Times review. Here's a snippet: "...the long-bow that's drawn in the sound-track and the splurge of the final spectacle are the elements in the picture that render it maudlin and banal. A ponderous and meaningless narration, concerned with the "levels of time," is the same sort of trap for the emotions as a soggy and saccharine musical score..."

Ouch! I agree, it is a bit maudlin, but what the heck - I enjoyed it anyway! I don't know, maybe our level of movie sophistication has changed over the past 70 years...Rotten Tomatoes has Jennie at 91%, with on…

Ladies in Retirement (1941)

I'm not sure why I loved this movie so much, it's a bit stark, but there's a certain charm to it.  Of course it stars Ida Lupino, so that just might explain it all!  It also starred Evelyn Keyes and Elsa Lanchester who also appeared in one of my all-time favorite movies, The Bishop's Wife.

From Huggo on IDb:  In the late nineteenth century, Ellen Creed works as the live-in companion to Miss Leonora Fiske, a retired actress who lives in the English countryside and who still retains her theatrical mannerisms. Ellen receives notice that the landlady of her two sisters, Emily Creed and Louisa Creed, who currently live in London, is threatening to call the police to haul them away to an asylum because of their disruptive behavior due to their mentally deranged state. Ellen will not allow her sisters to be institutionalized, and convinces Miss Fiske to allow them to stay with them for a couple of days. Miss Fiske was unaware of their deranged mental state when she agreed and…

Beware, My Lovely (1952)

Beware, My Lovely is a simple, straight-forward psychological thriller set in a beautiful house at Christmastime (which makes it a great Christmas movie for me) just after World War I.  It stars Robert Ryan (who plays a great psycho) and Ida Lupino - one of the greatest of all time!

REVIEWS: Here's an excellent classic review by Bosley Crowther from the September 13, 1952 edition of the New York Times. Crowther doesn't seem to give much respect for this kind of movie, "clearly contrived and designed for no other positive purpose than to send shivers chasing up and down the spine."  But, as is often the case, I wasn't expecting the height of cinema and just enjoyed the movie for what it was.  Besides, I always enjoy movies set in interesting houses.  I love classic reviews for classic movies, but here's a more thoughtful review from Rob atFilm Noir of the Week.  


Howard Wilton: Mrs. Gordon...

Mrs. Helen Gordon: Yes?

Howard Wilton: Have I done anyth…

I'll Be Seeing You (1944)

This is another of those movies that I first saw as a kid, sitting in my room on Lincoln St. watching Million Dollar Movie (I think) on my little rummage sale find of a black and white TV on a Saturday morning.  Believe-it-or-not, I think my favorite character in this movie was Tom Tully's part as Uncle Marshall.  And I absolutely loved that house, especially the fireplace...

REVIEWS: Bosley Crowther had a great review of the movie in the April 6, 1945 edition of the New York Times. I particularly like where he writes, " the veteran whom Mr. Schary cinematically brings home from the war is no hot and be-medaled hero, no jaunty and zealous Rover Boy. He is a plain, undistinguished sergeant and a psychoneurotic case. He is a pleasant and harmless young fellow—the sort that many of us are likely soon to know—whose only betrayal of "shell shock" is his peculiarly apathetic air. And his one and poignant anxiety, which is characteristic of such upset men, is the fear that…

Radio Days (1987)

Ya know, I've never been a big Woody Allen fan, so I avoided this movie all these years - my bad!  This is one of those nostalgic, coming-of-age movies that I love, and has to be right toward the top of my list!  Mia Farrow and Diane Wiest were great, and so many scenes made me think of my childhood - I think I was just as goofy as Seth Green's character, Joe.  I think we all had family-members who mirrored these characters...Aunt Bea (not to be confused with The Andy Griffith Show's Aunt Bea, although they were both Aunts, and both single) reminds me so much of one of my own Aunts! REVIEWS:Vincent Canby of The New York Times had a great review, written on January 30, 1987.  I particularly liked this part:  " The table-top radio added a certain tone to any suite of living-room furniture, though certainly not as much as the majestic console, the big, heavy floor-model that was a prized piece of furniture in its own right." I'm not old enough to remember the ea…

The Valley of Light (2007)

You know, sometimes Hallmark movies are just the right thing.  Yes they're predictable, and sometimes the acting is a bit sketchy...but sometimes, like when you're working on a school project, or a project in the workshop, one of these in the background is just right.  They're calm, not overly dramatic, and kinda feel homey.  Not a bad thing at all.

The Valley of Light was one of those movies.  A soldier returning home from World War II, lost his farm and family, wanders around fishing 'til a ghost tells him to check out this valley.  The rest, as they say, is Hallmark history - with a twist ending!  And Gretchen Mol plays a very nice part in this one.
REVIEWS: Rob Richmond of The Hollywood Reporter has a pretty rough review, although if one is reviewing this from a cinematic critic's viewpoint, it's probably spot on.  For the rest of us (me anyway) it was an enjoyable TV movie.  Brian Lowry at Variety, also has a review - less scathing and with a few differen…