Friday, October 21, 2016
Below are images from the new comedy-crime drama called "THE NICE GUYS". Directed and co-written by Shane Black, the movie stars Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling:
"THE NICE GUYS" (2016) Photo Gallery
Monday, October 17, 2016
"OTHER MEN'S WOMEN" (1931) Review
Adultery is rarely treated with any kind of maturity in fiction - whether in novels, plays, movies and television. I am not saying that adultery has never been portrayed with any maturity. It is just that . . . well, to be honest . . . I have rarely come across a movie, television series, novel or play that dealt with adultery in a mature manner. Or perhaps I have rarely come across others willing to face fictional adultery between two decent people with some kind of maturity.
If one simply glanced at the title of the 1931 movie, "OTHER MEN'S WOMEN", any person could assume that he or she will be facing one of those salacious tales from a Pre-Code filled with racy dialogue, scenes of women and men stripping to their underwear or morally bankrupt characters. Well,"OTHER MEN'S WOMEN" is a Pre-Code movie. But if you are expecting scenes and characters hinting sexy and outrageous sex, you are barking up the wrong tree.
"OTHER MEN'S WOMEN" is about a young railroad engineer named Bill White, who seemed to have a drinking problem. When he gets kicked out of his boarding house, after falling back on his rent, Bill is invited by fellow engineer and friend Jack Kulper to stay with him and his wife Lily. All seemed to be going well. Bill managed to fit easily into the Kulper household. He stopped drinking. And he got along very well with both Jack and Lily. In reality, his relationship with Lily seemed to be a lot more obvious than with Jack. And this spilled out one afternoon, when in the middle of one of their horseplays while Jack was out of the house, Bill and Lily exchanged a passionate kiss. Realizing that he was in love with Lily, Bill moved out and left Jack wondering what had occurred. Matters grew worse and eventually tragic, when Jack finally realized that Bill and Lily had fallen in love with each other.
From the few articles I have read, there seemed to be a low regard for this film. Leading lady Mary Astor had dismissed it as "a piece of cheese" and praised only future stars James Cagney and Joan Blondell. Come to think of it, so did a good number of other movie fans. Back in 1931, the New York Times had described the film as "an unimportant little drama of the railroad yards". Perhaps "OTHER MEN'S WOMEN" was unimportant in compare to many other films that were released in 1931 or during that period. But I enjoyed it . . . more than I thought I would.
"OTHER MEN'S WOMEN" is not perfect. First of all, this is an early talkie. Although released in 1931, the film was originally shot and released to a limited number of theaters in 1930. And anyone can pretty much tell this is an early talkie, due to the occasional fuzzy photography. Also, director William Wellman shot a few of the action scenes - namely the fight scene between Bill and Jack, along with Bill and another engineer named Eddie Bailey - in fast motion. Or he shot the scenes and someone sped up the action during the editing process. Why, I have no idea. There were a few times when members of the cast indulge in some theatrical acting. And I mean everyone. Finally, I found the resolution to the love triangle in this film a bit disappointing. Considering that divorce was not as verboten in the early 20th century, as many seemed to assume, I do not see why that the whole matter between Bill, Lily and Jack could have been resolved with divorce, instead of tragedy. In the case of this particular story, I found the tragic aspects a bit contrived.
Otherwise, I rather enjoyed "OTHER MEN'S WOMEN", much to my surprise. Repeating my earlier statement, I was impressed by how screenwriter Maud Fulton, with the addition of William K. Wells' dialogue; treated the adulterous aspects of the love triangle with taste and maturity. What I found even more impressive is that the three people involved were all likeable and sympathetic. I was rather surprised that this film only lasted 70 minutes. Because Wellman did an exceptional job with the movie's pacing. He managed to infuse a good deal of energy into this story, even when it threatened to become a bit too maudlin.
Wellman's energy seemed to manifest in the cast's performance. Yes, I am well aware of my complaint about the performers' occasional penchant for theatrical acting. But overall, I thought they did a very good job. Future stars James Cagney and Joan Blondell had small supporting roles as Bill's other friend Eddie Bailey and his girlfriend, Marie. Both did a good job and both had the opportunities to express those traits that eventually made them stars within a year or two. I was especially entertained by Blondell's performance, for she had the opportunity to convey one of the movie's best lines:
Marie: [taking out her compact and powdering her face] Listen, baby, I'm A.P.O.
Railroad worker at Lunch Counter: [to the other railroad worker] What does she mean, A.P.O.?
Marie: Ain't Puttin' Out!
I noticed that due to Cagney and Blondell's presence in this film, many tend to dismiss the leading actors' performances. In fact, many seemed to forget that not only was Mary Astor a star already, she was a decade away from winning an Oscar. Well, star or not, I was impressed by her portrayal of the railroad wife who finds herself falling in love with a man other than her own husband. She gave a warm, charming and energetic performance. And she portrayed her character's guilt with great skill. I could also say the same about leading man, Grant Withers. He is basically known as Loretta Young's first husband. Which is a shame, because he seemed like a first-rate actor, capable of handling the many emotional aspects of his character. Whether Bill was drunk and careless, fun-loving, romantic or even wracked with guilt, Withers ably portrayed Bill's emotional journey. I also enjoyed Regis Toomey's performance as the emotionally cuckolded husband, Jack Kulper. I mainly remember Toomey from the 1955 musical, "GUYS AND DOLLS". However, I was impressed by how he portrayed Jack's torn psyche regarding his best friend and wife.
I am not going to pretend that "OTHER MEN'S WOMEN" is one of the best films from the Pre-Code era . . . or one of director William Wellman's best films. Perhaps that New York Times critic had been right, when he described the film as "an unimportant little drama of the railroad yards". But I cannot dismiss "OTHER MEN'S WOMEN" as a mediocre or poor film. It is actually pretty decent. And more importantly, thanks to the screenplay, Wellman's direction and the cast, I thought it portrayed a love triangle tainted by adultery with a great deal of maturity.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Below is a list of five actresses - professional or otherwise - who have appeared in James Bond movies throughout the franchise's 46-year history. I consider these five women to be the worst actresses that have ever appeared in a Bond movie. So, without further ado, I present . . .
The Five Worst BOND ACTRESSES
1. Marguerite LeWars (or the actress who dubbed her voice) aka "the Photographer" (Dr. No, 1962) - This former Miss Jamaica made her acting debut . . . and finale as a photographer in the employ of the movie's villain, Dr. No, hired to spy on secret agent James Bond. To be frank, I had recently discovered that producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had hired another actress to dub Ms. LeWars' voice. The reason why this unknown actress tops my list as the worst Bond actress is due to her stiff and unconvincing handling of the following line: "You . . . you rats!". I still wince just thinking about it. As for Ms. LeWars, you have my apology for believing that you were the voice behind "the Photographer".
2. Lana Wood aka "Plenty O'Toole" (Diamonds Are Forever, 1971) - Judging by her brief performance as a Las Vegas hustler who gets caught up in a diamond smuggling operation financed by SPECTRE, one can see that Natalie Wood's acting talent had not been extended to her younger sister, namely Lana. She barely made Number 2 on my list, which goes to show how little I thought of her acting.
3. Corinne Clery aka "Corinne Dufour" (Moonraker, 1979) - This actress, who portrayed Sir Hugo Drax's assistant and personal pilot seemed to be very popular with many Bond fans. I can only assume they were impressed by her physical attributes, because her acting skills left much to be desired. The only real emotion she managed to express was fear, while being chased by a pair of hunting dogs on Drax's California estate.
4. Mie Hama aka "Kissy Suzuki" (You Only Live Twice, 1967) - I wish I could say that the movie version of the Kissy Suzuki was interesting . . . but I am afraid that I cannot. I am surprised that Ms. Hama actually had film experience before she was cast as the Japanese Secret Service agent, who marries Bond in a fake wedding ceremony. She really struck me as uninspiring actress with barely any screen presence. I cannot help but feel that in the movie, the wrong Bond Girl - namely Akiko Wakabayashi as doomed agent Aki - was killed off.
5. Talisa Soto aka "Lupe Lamora" (License to Kill, 1989) - I must admit that I have a deep fondness for Ms. Soto's portrayal of the mistress of a Central American drug lord. She has a strong screen presence and there were moments when her performance seemed quite natural. The problem is that these moments were rare. Which is why Ms. Soto made this list. Of all the bad actresses who have appeared in a Bond film, she was my favorite.