Crawdaddy's "Random Thoughts" about Home Video, Film & TV

Robert Crawford

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This week's Noir Alley movie is a film that I haven't seen in many years. I've only seen it once and for some reason I didn't really like it. Anyhow, I'll be watching my Blu-ray for the first time and hope my second viewing changes my mind about this movie.

Updated TCM's Noir Alley 2020 schedule:

03-07-20: Ride the Pink Horse (1947)
03-14-20: I Wake Up Screaming (1941)
03-21-20: Elevator to the Gallows (1958)
03-28-20: Crime Wave (1954)
04-04-20: Address Unknown (1944)
04-11-20: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)
04-25-20: Wicked Woman (1954)
05-02-20: Fallen Angel (1945)
05-09-20: Mildred Pierce (1945)

05-16-20: The Crimson Kimono (1959)
05-23-20: Cornered (1945)
05-30-20: A Kiss Before Dying (1956)
06-06-20: The Underworld Story (1950)
06-13-20: Murder by Contract (1958)
06-20-20: Underworld U.S.A. (1961)
06-27-20: The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
07-04-20: The Sign of the Ram (1948)
07-11-20: Bodyguard (1948)
07-18-20: Three Strangers (1946)
07-25-20: The Breaking Point (1950)

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I now know why I had negative memories of "The Crimson Kimono" as I watched it again on Blu-ray this afternoon. There is a major plot point that I didn't buy in this movie which affected my initial opinion of this movie from a past viewing many years ago. However, I must amend my opinion somewhat because I think it's a good movie despite some misgivings about the plot. Anyhow, I won't delve into my issues with the film until others have watched this movie. Overall, a good movie! I can't wait to listen to Eddie's comments and to sample the video presentation of the TCM showing.
 
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Robert Crawford

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This morning I watched "Bombardier" (1943) WWII movie that's pretty good despite the obvious propaganda in the movie. One impressive movie cast with Pat O'Brien, Randolph Scott, Anne Shirley, Eddie Albert, Robert Ryan, Barton MacLane. The iTunes HD digital of this RKO movie isn't very good, but it's an improvement over the 2011 WA DVD. Again, the patriotic cheering is throughout this movie about the training of bombardiers and their initial battle action in the early stages of WWII. The basic movie theme is that bombardiers are as important as the pilots of their aircrafts and is played out in the movie by the two main actors, O'Brien and Scott with the latter finally realizing the former was correct in his POV. By the way, the film crew including Robert Wise as film editor and Robert Aldrich as second assistant director. RKO had some young director talent at that time.

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Bert Greene

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It had been about 35 years since I last saw "The Crimson Kimono" (1959), and I'd been meaning to catch up with it again, which I did via TCM's noir presentation this weekend. Think I pretty much had the same reaction to it as I did before. A mildly interesting curio. I just don't think the old-fashioned, pulpy (and rather lame) crime story meshed well with the very 'modern' characters, and the gradual detour into soap-opera didn't particularly grab me. But the film is still offbeat enough to maintain interest. I'm generally fairly partial to Sam Fuller and his worldview, but I tend to prefer his earlier films (The Steel Helmet, Pickup on South Street, especially) to his later ones, which always strike me as a bit too eccentric and too sensationalistic for my tastes. Ultimately harder for me to 'buy into.' Always thought Victoria Shaw was a rather spiffy, attractive actress, and kept an eye out for her appearances over the years. Although the more bizarre role in the film was certainly Anna Lee's. I would never have guessed that a few short years after I first saw this film I'd be visiting her in her Hollywood home, having a cup of tea, and chatting about her early career. Anyway, as for "Kimono," I didn't really dislike it, but I just don't think it worked for me. Just a bit too affected, too self-conscious, for me to really go for. Honestly, I don't really even think there are ANY defined 'noirs' after the mid-1950s that really click much with me. For that matter, even the classic period is often a 50-50 proposition!
 

Hollywoodaholic

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The Crimson Kimono. I enjoyed this one, maybe for my own personal reasons* (see next paragraph). Fuller obviously had no interest whatsoever in the murder mystery, and neither did I. So, it was a bit of a soap opera, but the characters and dialogue had that Fuller touch. If you haven't done so already, please read Fuller's autobiography, A Third Face. It's fantastic. And it has the best first-hand description of D-Day I've ever read. And that's just one eventful moment in his life. I'm not a fan of his entire oeuvre, and particularly not The Big Red One (probably because it was made way too late and on the cheap), but there was a vivid LIFE in his work you can't deny or dismiss.

*My first ever big studio screenwriting assignment was for Universal and producer and co-writer Matty Simmons (who died last week at 93). I now suspect Matty saw and liked this film... a lot. His story and our script, Georgia Baby, was the tale of two partner detectives investigating a murder and falling hopelessly in love with the same woman. The big twist and finale of the story was that, in the middle of the climax, one detective kills the other amid the melee. Was it accidental or on purpose? The hook of the deal for the film was that Universal was pursuing Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon to portray the detectives. Wouldn't it be shocking if one of the odd couple kills the other in a film? When that didn't work, they signed Jack Klugman to kill Tony Randall. And it almost went to production until they backed out worrying about syndication sales of the long-running The Odd Couple television series. Too bad. And chalk up another unproduced screenplay, sigh.

One final note, or should I say 'notes' about The Crimson Kimono. Is it my imagination or is the music theme that keeps playing throughout an almost direct steal of the melody (changing a couple notes) of the tune "Strangers in Paradise" from South Pacific? Think about it. Or listen if you can. That film came out a year earlier (the play before that), was hugely popular, and one of the main plots of the film was an interracial romance. I just think it's more than a coincidence. And it was not unlike films to cop popular tunes or songs to augment their own production. What was the Noir we recently saw from the eary 40's using the actual melody repeatedly of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (my short term memory might fail me on if that's exactly what I'm thinking)? (Okay, it was I Wake Up Screaming; the synapses are still firing). I kept expecting Eddie to mention it in the follow up.
 

Matt Hough

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"Stranger in Paradise" is from Kismet, not South Pacific.

I watched The Crimson Kimono for the first time today, and I don't think it was very good. The two near-blood brothers have a very phony, manufactured falling out that I just didn't buy, and the murder mystery was really not plotted very well and had an unsatisfying denouement. I did think Anna Lee stole the picture from everyone else, and I loved seeing her in a part as novel as this one. The three leads did just fine with what they were given, but it just didn't ring true to me.
 
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Robert Crawford

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"Stranger in Paradise" is from Kismet, not South Pacific.

I watched The Crimson Kimono for the first time today, and I don't think it was very good. The two near-blood brothers have a very phony, manufactured falling out that I just didn't buy, and the murder mystery was really not plotted very well and had an unsatisfying denouement. I did think Anna Lee stole the picture from everyone else, and I loved seeing her in a part as novel as this one. The three leads did just fine with what they were given, but it just didn't ring true to me.
And that's the problem I had with this film the first time I saw it and again the second time I viewed it. I can see a woman coming in-between two such brothers, but, not because of race. These dudes formed a brotherly type bond in Korea, joined the police force together, became detective partners and roommates then all of sudden one thinks the other is bigoted because he's in love with the same "white" woman because he can see it in his face? Come on, I can't buy that. I can buy a woman coming between them, but not for that reason.
 

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And that's the problem I had with this film the first time I saw it and again the second time I viewed it. I can see a woman coming in-between two such brothers, but, not because of race. These dudes formed a brotherly type bond in Korea, joined the police force together, became detective partners and roommates then all of sudden one thinks the other is bigoted because he's in love with the same "white" woman because he can see it in his face? Come on, I can't buy that. I can buy a woman coming between them, but not for that reason.
My thoughts exactly.
 

Robert Crawford

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My thoughts exactly.
I've read and heard from people that have experienced it that when people faced death together there is a bond like no other. Those two dudes faced "death" numerous times together. They can have a falling out about a woman, but, it's not going to be due to racial bigotry.
 
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Bert Greene

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While Anna Lee was certainly attractive in the 1940s, she was a real doll back in her British film era of the 1930s. Plus, she made some really fine movies. I'm particularly fond of the fascinating (if a bit slow-moving) "Passing of the Third Floor Back" (1935) with Conrad Veidt. She was in the classic "King Solomon's Mines" (1937), and a pretty nifty Boris Karloff thriller, "The Man Who Lived Again" (1935). Another particularly good but rather unheralded thriller (almost in the Hitchcock vein) was "The Secret Four" (1940), based on the familiar Edgar Wallace yarn. A well-made British film, Monogram actually distributed it in the US. Well worth catching. Another spy thriller, albeit on the rather fantastical side, "Non-Stop New York" (1937) is a tad goofy, but has its moments. I recall seeing Lee's last British film, "Return to Yesterday" (1940), with Clive Brook, screened at a Cinecon, but I don't remember it too well. Silliest bit of nonsense that Lee must have been in was "The Camels are Coming" (1934) with Jack Hulbert, that comedian with the long chin, who starred in that Bulldog Drummond parody, "Bulldog Jack" (1935), which used to pop up a bit on tv.

Anyway, I wish I'd known more of Anna Lee's early career back when I had a few visits with her. Didn't know so much back then, especially that earlier work. I still think back to how I had just gotten an LP of early-1930s recordings by British bandleader Jack Payne right at that time. Only decades later do I find that one of Miss Lee's first film appearances was in a small role in a film that actually starred the bandleader and his orchestra, "Say it With Music" (1932). That very tune was on my LP. Oh, all the many questions I could have asked her, but didn't know to! Really makes me sigh.
 
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David Weicker

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The thing about “Strangers In Paradise“, is that the music wasn’t written for Kismet. It was lyrics added to a Russian tune written by Borodin in the 1800s.

so the film was using classical music, not a popular song.
 
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Matt Hough

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The thing about “Strangers In Paradise“, is that the music wasn’t written for Kismet. It was lyrics added to a Russian tune written by Borodin in the 1800s.

so the film was using classical music, not a popular song.
Though Wright and Forrest did add a bridge in the song to the Borodin melody that was their own concoction.
 

Hollywoodaholic

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"Stranger in Paradise" is from Kismet, not South Pacific.

I watched The Crimson Kimono for the first time today, and I don't think it was very good. The two near-blood brothers have a very phony, manufactured falling out that I just didn't buy, and the murder mystery was really not plotted very well and had an unsatisfying denouement. I did think Anna Lee stole the picture from everyone else, and I loved seeing her in a part as novel as this one. The three leads did just fine with what they were given, but it just didn't ring true to me.
Okay, the synapses are not quite working. I don't know why I was thinking of "Some Enchanted Evening" when the tune was "Strangers in Paradise." I guess I heard a 'Stranger' across a crowded room.
 

Robert Crawford

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Last night, I watched one of the greatest movies in cinema history that happens to be among my all-time favorite films. What makes this movie so special for me is the bromance between Rick Blaine and Captain Louis Renault. When I was a kid, I wish they did a followup movie showing those two characters fighting the Nazis. Now, I guess it was best to leave it alone as this movie is near perfection.

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Robert Crawford

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Mike Clark's Blu-ray review of "King Creole". I agree with him that "Flaming Star" was Elvis's best movie. However, I thought he was a little harsh on Michael Curtiz and his final films. Sure, they weren't as good as the movies in his prime directing years, but, how many directors final films do equal their prime movies? The only one I can think of that really excel later in his directing career is Clint Eastwood, who really didn't hit his stride as a director until he was in his 60's.

 

Robert Crawford

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Yesterday afternoon I watched "The Alamo" (1960) on Amazon Prime. It's the theatrical version, but it's in HD so that's an improvement over my 2000 DVD of the same. I do have a DVD-R of the 202 minute version that I recorded many years ago from TCM. The theatrical version is a good movie, but I think the 202 minute version is superior. I sampled it yesterday, but the PQ of that DVD-R isn't the best. One day I'll try to watch it again in its entirety. I used to have an extensive video tape collection and the only video tapes I've kept are two VHS releases of "The Alamo". Both tapes are extended versions at 193 and 202 minutes.

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On Tuesday, I also watched the documentary "The Brothers Warner". This documentary was very interesting and informative. It's part of the bonus material from the "70th Anniversary" Blu-ray release. Man, Jack L. Warner was a SOB and stabbed his family in their collective backs. A bad guy that got his in the end.

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bujaki

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Mike Clark's Blu-ray review of "King Creole". I agree with him that "Flaming Star" was Elvis's best movie. However, I thought he was a little harsh on Michael Curtiz and his final films. Sure, they weren't as good as the movies in his prime directing years, but, how many directors final films do equal their prime movies? The only one I can think of that really excel later in his directing career is Clint Eastwood, who really didn't hit his stride as a director until he was in his 60's.

Look outside American films. Luis Bunuel made some of his best film very late in his career. Manoel Oliveira was directing when he was 100 years old. Antonioni, Visconti, Varda, Kurosawa and many others were directing pretty good films in their waning years.
 

Robert Crawford

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It will be interesting to read other people's thoughts on "Cornered" (1945) starring Dick Powell. I'm sure Eddie's comments will cover those film participants blacklisted including the director, producer and two of the actors in the cast. Another solid movie from RKO with a fine cast of actors. From the first time I watched this movie, I always thought Powell's character acted carelessly throughout the entire movie. This movie has never been released on Blu-ray, but is part of Warner's DVD "Film Noir Classic Collection" Volume 5.

Updated TCM's Noir Alley 2020 schedule:

03-07-20: Ride the Pink Horse (1947)
03-14-20: I Wake Up Screaming (1941)
03-21-20: Elevator to the Gallows (1958)
03-28-20: Crime Wave (1954)
04-04-20: Address Unknown (1944)
04-11-20: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)
04-25-20: Wicked Woman (1954)
05-02-20: Fallen Angel (1945)
05-09-20: Mildred Pierce (1945)
05-16-20: The Crimson Kimono (1959)

05-23-20: Cornered (1945)
05-30-20: A Kiss Before Dying (1956)
06-06-20: The Underworld Story (1950)
06-13-20: Murder by Contract (1958)
06-20-20: Underworld U.S.A. (1961)
06-27-20: The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
07-04-20: The Sign of the Ram (1948)
07-11-20: Bodyguard (1948)
07-18-20: Three Strangers (1946)
07-25-20: The Breaking Point (1950)

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