Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why We Honor the Easter Bunny!

He brings eggs that are the source of Badge- Booth- and Playboy Bunnies, as proven by this photo!

April 8th is Easter Bunny Day! Today is Exclamation Point Day!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tone Loc: Wild Thing

Workin' all week 9 to 5 for my money
So when the weekend comes I go get live with the honey

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Happy 70th Anniversary, Casablanca!

I've been told that today, March 21, 2012, there are numerous theaters across the United States that are showing "Casablanca" on the big screen in celebration of the film's 70th anniversary.

I hope you're lucky enough to have it showing somewhere near where you live. If you've never seen this fine film--which stars Humphrey Bogart, Igrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, and Claude Rains, and tells the tale of an American in Nazi-occupied Casablanca who is forced to choose between love and righteousness when he has the opportunity to regain his old flame by letting her resistance-fighter husband fall into the hands of the German-allied Vichy-French.

With its near-perfect balance between suspense, comedy, and romance, this film is a great example of the kind of films that once made Hollywood great.

Monday, March 19, 2012

'Over-Exposed' is nice showcase for Cleo Moore

Over-Exposed (1956)
Starring: Cleo Moore, Raymond Greeleaf, Richard Crenna, Donald Randolph, and Isobel Elsom
Director: Lewis Seiler
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

An arrest for vagrancy ends up leading to a young woman (Moore) to discover that she has a talent for photography. She parlays that talent in to wealth and fame, trampling on supporters and friends as she climbs her way to the top. But at the pinnacle of fame, she becomes a target for the mob when she witnesses a murder.

Despite showing lots of talent, actress Cleo Moore seemed to have been treated more like a pin-up girl than an actress by studio publicists. In films where she had bit parts, such as "Women's Prison" she was all over the promotional material in varying states of undress, and in films where she was the lead, such as this one and "One Woman's Confession", sex appeal also seemed to be emphasized over anything else.

And this is rather a shame, because I think Moore had greater talent as an actress than she ever really had the opportunity to show, and I think that is exhibited best in this picture than any others I've seen her in.

Moore's character goes through several stages during this film and she gets to portray a range of emotions... always tinged with a mixture of hardness that seems born from a rough life rather than any sort of emotional or mental defects. In a couple of scenes, she is particularly effective in showing emotional pain with some rather subtle acting that manages to keep the audience's sympathy for her character as she behaves like a bitch to those who care for her. Moore deftly keeps the character on the side of seeming tragic while a lesser actress might have caused her to come off as pathetic.

Moore is supported by good performances from the rest of the cast, especially from Raymond Greenleaf as the burn-out drunk who becomes Moore's gateway to the world of photography and who rediscovers his own gift while helping to develop hers. Greenleaf's character is kindhearted and funny, and is so likable that viewers will almost despise Moore's character for not making a greater effort to keep their relationship intact later in the film.

I probably would have rating this film a 7 if not for the ending. Given it was made in the 1950s, I suppose it comes as no surprise how things turn out for Moore's character, but couldn't the screenwriters have paired her a more manly man? Richard Crenna's character spends most of the movie whining and being obnoxiously insecure (possibly even jealous) about Moore's success. Sure, he punches out a few gangsters, but it still seemed wrong that Moore should give up her career for someone like that.

Monday, March 12, 2012

'Weird Woman' has Lon Chaney Jr at his best

Inner Sanctum: Weird Woman (1944)
Starring: Lon Chaney Jr., Anne Gwynne, Evelyn Ankers, Elizabeth Risdon, and Lois Collier
Director: Reginald Le Borg
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

While studying native rituals and superstitions, an anthroplogy professor (Chaney) falls in love with marries the daughter of an old mentor (Gwynne). Upon his return to the United States, he discoversn that his wife is a fervent believer in the native gods and that she has been practing rituals that she believes will protect him from the evil intentions of one of his colleagues (Ankers). Appalled that his wife believes in such supersitious nonsense, he forces her to destroy all the charms and fetishes she owns... but as soon as he does this, his life and career start falling apart.

"Weird Woman" is a decent adaptation of one of Fritz Leiber's best novels, "Conjure Wife". It features a nice, tight script, great performances by the entire cast, and a surprise ending that at the same time manages to reinforce and cast doubt on the film's central premise--that the "powers of the supernatural" are nothing but supersition and fear causing believers to act in ways that create self-fulling prophecies.

Of particular note in this film is by Lon Chaney Jr., who is seen giving one of the best performances of his entire career. The character he is playing could easily have come across as a self-satisfied jerk in the hands of an lesser actor. His attitude toward his wife and her beliefs is obnoxious in the extreme, and some of his interactions with the staff and students of the college he teaches at borders on high-handed with a wiff of false humility. But Chaney infuses the character with an air of insecurity that makes the viewer accept and even forgive his behavior.

"Weird Woman" is one of the best entires in the "Inner Sanctum" movie series, and it's one of the best films to come out of the Universal Pictures' horror revival in the 1940s. Fans of classic mystery films, the Universal Pictures horror collection, and Lon Chaney Jr. will all find a lot to like in this one.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Milla Jovovich Quarterly:
The Case of the Missing Pants

"My pants?! I sat down, I was wearing them. I stood up, they were gone! Has anyone seen David Copperfield or Chris Angel today?!"

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The world is still here... for now!

Why does the sun go on shining? Why does the sea rush to shore? Don't they know it's the end of the world, 'cause Mayans didn't carve any more?

We're now a little over two months into the year where the world is supposed to end... or so some people think, because some ancient Mayans ended a calendar some time this year. (There's some dispute as to the exact date, but the year is generally agreed upon. By people who apparently don't understand the way calendars tend to work.)

Still, in celebration of us all being here, I present Skeeter Davis performing her signature song "The End of the World".

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