Friday, July 30, 2010

Reel Revival Store

The first Twinings store insideImage via Wikipedia
The store has undergone major expansion.  Check out the new book and soundtrack categories!
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

why not?

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If you're not already following this blog, why not become a Reel Reviver?

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Take Heed

It's All in the MoviesImage via Wikipedia
There is a new page on this blog.  Check out the tab entitled "Get Movies" above!
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The Princess and the Pirate

In a word, this movie is silly.  For me that translates into "potential masterpiece."  Growing up I never thought that anyone had grounds for calling me Silly Cilla.  Now I begin to wonder....

The Princess and the Pirate is wonderful in its silliness because it's very busy making fun of itself  for the duration of its running time.  It is also wonderful because it has made the best of clichécliché princess, cliché pirates, anything but cliché ending, however.  I promise the ending will take you off guard.  Let me know if you feel as indignant as I did!

The Basics:
The stars make this film.  It is chock full of people who never had the problem of taking themselves too seriously: Bob Hope, Virginia Mayo, Walter Brennan, Walter Slezak, Victor McLaglen, and a special surprise guest (I won't tell you who).  Filmed in Technicolor, released in 1944, directed by David Butler (Calamity Jane), with a run time of 94 minutes, and nominated for two Oscars in 1945, The Princess and the Pirate is a delightful way to lighten up any day!  

[It is also surprisingly cheap through Amazon, less than $4.00 here]

The Princess and the PirateThe Plot:
Sylvester the Great (Hope) is a traveling actor and quick change artist, wandering the high seas in search of places where they haven't heard of him yet (his reputation is not exactly stellar).  In the belly of the Mary Ann, the ship in which he travels, he rehearses his acts much to the annoyance and chagrin of the Princess Margaret (Mayo), traveling in an adjacent cabin.  

The Princess has run away from home to escape a royal marriage that she doesn't want.  She and Sylvester become acquainted when she bursts into his cabin to command him to stop shrieking, as he does when he "rehearses." Sylvester doesn't know that she is a princess, but the treacherous Captain Barrett, also known as The Hook (McLaglen), does know, and he means to kidnap her and use her ransom to add to his ponderous fortune.  Pirates attack the Mary Ann; Margaret and the other young women are taken and all others are killed, except for Sylvester, who has disguised himself as an old gypsy woman.  Aboard the pirate ship, Sylvester (still disguised as the Gypsy) is singled out for his ugliness and made to walk the plank.  But the old, toothless idiot named Featherhead (Brennan) begs to keep the "gypsy" as his own wench.  

The "idiot's" request is granted, and Sylvester is saved.  He and Margaret then escape the ship, with the help of Featherhead, who also gives them The Hook's treasure map.  They arrive in a cutthroat town in search of Featherhead's cousin, but find trouble in the Bucket O' Blood with the unconscionable Governor La Roche (Slezak).  

Margaret is kidnapped and taken to La Roche's castle, where Sylvester, a self-proclaimed coward, shows up to complain to the governor about the fat guy who took his girl.  So both Margaret and Sylvester are in captivity yet again, but it is not the last time they will see The Hook.  A whirlwind of chases, plottings, escapes, disguises, and twists ensues.  


  • Because this is a Bob Hope film, the gags come a mile a minute, so you have to listen-up and pay attention to what he is saying.  There are probably a good thousand jokes packed into these 94 minutes.  
  • Hope's physical comedy was also impeccable and it shines in this movie.  
  • Virginia Mayo was a spunky actress, and I always like her in these flicks, where she gets to show personality.  Don't be fooled, though, that's not her voice you're hearing during her performance of "Kiss Me in the Moonlight."
  • The supporting cast is really top-notch, especially Slezak and Brennan.   
  • The scenes that take place in the Bucket O' Blood, the local tavern that as many patrons leave dead as alive, are side-stitching hilarious, especially when Sylvester has to sit down for "two short beers" on pain of his life.  It's even funnier when The Hook drops in for some refreshment.  
This is a good movie, though little known.  It is probably little known because it is impossible to take seriously, but that's what we all need every now and then.   I hope you will check it out, and enjoy!

Be sure to comment below and let me know if you agree with my review!

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Friday, July 23, 2010


Facebook logoImage via Wikipedia
In the past week I have received two movie recommendations from dear friends on Facebook.  I have not seen either "Sitting Pretty" nor "The Notorious Landlady," but I am now adding them to my queue.  I will try to work them in to our playlist.  If you have any other suggestions or recommendations, don't hesitate to comment or email me!

Also, there are more changes on the way for Reel Revival.  Stay tuned!
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Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Sherlock HolmesImage via Wikipedia
Everyone wears tweeds, except the butler.  When you are watching The Hound of the Baskervilles, you feel like a stinker for not wearing tweeds too.  So, if you happen to have tweeds, I would suggest donning them before you pop this one in.  

We had a cloudy night and electrical storms: the perfect setup for a gothic horror film that brings to life one of Sherlock Holmes' most famous mysteries.

I have my husband pick out the movies most of the time because it prevents me from only blogging about my favorites, and since he's never seen most of them, it keeps the selection more spontaneous and objective.  This time it came down to The Hound, Stars and Stripes Forever, and The Mark of Zorro, which I eliminated because I recently reviewed an Errol Flynn film.  

When my husband found out that this version of The Hound stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, he, being a Star Wars and Lord of the Rings fan, decided on it.  This particular production was a much anticipated film in 1959.  The first major depiction of Holmes onscreen since Basil Rathbone retired in the 40s, this Hammer Film Productions feature film dishes up "Ten times the terror in Technicolor!"  

The Basics
Directed by Terrence Fisher and starring Cushing and Lee as Sherlock Holmes and Sir Henry Baskerville, with Andre Morell as Watson, the film also featured Marla Landi, David Oxley, Francis de Wolff, and Miles Malleson.  A British production, The Hound was the first Sherlock Holmes film to be shot in color, but it is said that because audiences were used to getting gruesome monsters in Hammer films, they snubbed The Hound for its lack of them.  

Runs at 87 minutes.  Made in 1959.

The Plot
If you have read the book and can remember it, you won't be held in suspense by either the movie or my review of it.  I have read the book and seen the movie several times, but I still couldn't remember what was going to happen, so it was fun for me.  

The movie starts with Dr. Mortimer, country doctor and family friend of the Baskervilles, soliciting the services of Sherlock Holmes and Watson.  Legend has it that there is a curse on the Baskervilles going back to Sir Hugo Baskerville, a singularly evil and diabolical man.
After hunting a poor farm girl with a pack of hounds, Sir Hugo murdered her in cold blood on the moor, then promptly had his throat torn out by a beast that continued to haunt the moor at night.  

When Sir Charles Baskerville dies in the same fashion as his ancestor, alone on the moor, a look of terror stricken across his face, Holmes is called onto the case to solve the mystery of the hound and save the life of the last remaining Baskerville.  

Haunted rooms, a tarantula (of which Christopher Lee was really afraid), pits of mire, a savage hound, and even eerily glowing ruins abound.  Along the way Holmes meets a lovably bumbling bishop (Malleson), an escaped convict, and a man with webbed fingers.  Attempted murder greets him around one corner, and Watson makes an untimely acquaintance with the mire on their way to dramatically and climatically solving the mystery of The Hound of the Baskervilles. 

  • Cushing, Lee, and Morell are good.  Malleson is even better.
  • The opening sequence is quite frightening (this depicts the diabolical evil of Sir Hugo, which is quite terrible).  Probably not suited for young children.
  • There are some twists and turns to keep you guessing.
  • There is a scary, haunted room at the end of the hall.
  • The Hound is messed up looking.  You get to see him at the end.
  • Some loose ends are tied in nicely at the conclusion.
  • Some loose ends are not tied in nicely at the end.  We never find out, for instance if there are any consequences for one particular character who was involved in attempted murder, and we never really knew what his/her motivation was in the first place. 
  • There are some bad attempts at romance that come off as being kind of strange.  I have no idea if this is attributable to the film's British origins. 
  • Somebody (Landi) has an accent that sounds a little weird to me. 
  • One word: really thick ketchup.  And by "word" I mean "noun".  
I don't know if I would call The Hound of the Baskervilles the best Sherlock Holmes film ever made.  As I add reviews of other Holmes films it will be easier to make a comparison.  I do think, however, that this a good way to spend an evening and an even better way to gain appreciation for tweeds.  Go Sherlock!

Where to get it

Amazon has this film on DVD for $11.99.  
Order here: The Hound of the Baskervilles

It is available on Netflix.

Try your local library.  You never know what you might find!

You might also enjoy reading...
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Friday, July 16, 2010

Finding a movie is like

finding a needle in a haystack...
This is how it works
It feels a little worse
When they all fall down
I give up

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Big News in the Film History World

Chaplin in character in the 1910sImage via Wikipedia
Speaking of Charlie...

A lost Charlie Chaplin film was rediscovered last year and will be shown publicly in Arlington, VA this weekend.

Get the whole story here:  Forgotten Charlie Chaplin Film Reappears (
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"Escape" now on DVD

An update from the merchandise world:

Amazon announced to its old-movie-buying customers this morning that it has now added Norma Shearer and Robert Taylor's "Escape" to its DVD catalog. 

If you are interested in browsing or purchasing, follow the link to the side to investigate!

Amazon's Product Description
"This place isn't a country. It's a Coney Island madhouse!" In 1936, Mark Preysing (Robert Taylor) comes to Germany in search of his mother, a famed actress who, unknown to him, lies ill in a concentration camp awaiting execution. During his desperate hunt, Mark meets an American-born countess (Norma Shearer), who slowly grows aware of the great evil corrupting her adopted country. Together they attempt to rescue Mark's mother, even though doing so could cost them their lives. This acclaimed thriller, twine-taut with suspense, boasts not only great stars but a brilliant supporting cast that includes three actors who had fled Nazi Germany: Felix Bressart, Albert Basserman and Conrad Veidt (in his U.S. screen debut)."

Monday, July 12, 2010

Check It Out!

I'm not into boring blogs.  Because of this, I am trying very hard to make mine not-boring.  

Rich new content is on its way soon, so stay tuned and check out what I've already added.

Sidenote: when putting together everyday thoughts for common use, I often end up going down Script Avenue. So, when I was about to post this addition as "check it out," my mind filled in "I'm in really bad shape."  This is not true; it is due entirely to my deep love of What About Bob.  This video will show you how my mind works:

Check it out!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

News Flash

On Tuesday, July 27, Turner Classic Movies is hosting an evening of Doris Day, five films starting at 8:00 PM Eastern time.  Tune in to catch some! 

Also, don't forget to take the poll to the left!

(To those who took the old version of the poll, I regret that I had to pull it, but it was just not working.  Blogger has some bugs it hasn't worked out yet.  Please try again!)

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Great Dictator

The Great Dictator is one of my Grandmother's favorite movies.  It is also one of mine.  She loves the scene where Charlie Chaplin, as Adenoid Hynkel, the dictator of Tomania, dances with a globe.  I like the scene where he gets into a foood fight with Napaloni, dictator of Bacteria, to whom he refers as  "de grosse peanut, de cheesy ravioli."  The whole film is really superb, and if you have not yet seen it, you should run, not walk, to nearest copy.  For some reason it is monstrously expensive on Amazon (unless you want it used) so I won't recommend that here, but you should be able to find it at your local library.  

The Background:
There was something in Chaplin's character that allowed him to see, before most other people, that Adolf Hitler really was evil and had all the worst intentions for the world.  It was before the United States had even entered the war that he undertook to make a very funny film - also very poignant - exposing and humiliating the Fuhrer.  Chaplin worked so meticulously (his perfectionism still holds the record for most takes of one scene, 324) that the film was not released until the world had begun to catch on to Hitler's act.  It notably features scenes depicting concentration camps and conversations between characters making a little light of them.  Chaplin expressed regret for them later, when the true horrors of the camps were revealed.  

The Basics:
Released in 1941, starring Charles Chaplin, Jack Oakie, Reginald Gardiner, Henry Daniell, Billy Gilbert, and Paulette Goddard. Directed by Chaplin, the film was nominated for five Academy Awards, though it won none of them.  Tagged as "The Comedy Masterpiece," the film runs 125 excellent minutes.  

The Plot:
World War I rages on, and a timid Jewish barber (Chaplin) does his bumbling best to fight the good fight for Tomania.  He's not very good at that, but he is good at helping people in need, so he ends up saving the life of a downed pilot (Gardiner).  In the process he suffers an injury which robs him of his short term memory and keeps him believing that he has only been away from his barber shop for a few weeks. He is ignorant of the changes that have occurred in the intervening time at home: the ghetto, the persecution, the camps.  When he escapes from the military hospital he returns to a cobwebbed shop that he can't understand, a lovely neighbor he doesn't recognize (Goddard), and a gang of storm troopers he doesn't know he should fear.  

His experiences in the ghetto are contrasted with the life, personality, and experiences of the Phooey (rather than Fuhrer), a sniveling little man who barks out orations in gibberish (he is also played by Chaplin). The Phooey is flanked by the flat-toned Garbitsch (played by Daniell, who always reminds me of the Six-Fingered Man in The Princess Bride) and the buffoonish Herring (Glibert): delightfully incapable henchmen.  

The barber quickly runs into trouble with the storm troopers, and they have him hanging from a lamp post when Commander Schultz, the airman he saved during the war, recognizes him and grants him immunity.  When Schultz is condemned by the Phooey and sent to a camp, however, all bets are off.  

The riotous comedy of the proceedings will have you roaring, and the poignant, serious moments will stop you in your tracks.  

There are many, many, so I'll have to give you the highest of the highs.  

  • Chaplin's performance of gibberish that sounds amazingly like German.  
  • The Phooey's ballet with the balloon globe is classic. Watch below.
  • The interaction between Hynkel and Napaloni, the Dictator of Bacteria.
  • Chaplin's touching, sensitive, and entertaining portrayal of the barber.
  • The performances of the supporting cast, particularly Oakie.
There really aren't any lows in this film, other than what I mentioned before - that the portrayals of Jewish suffering were so far understated as to be insulting.  Of course, this is due the vast superiority of hindsight rather than the spirit in which the film was made.  If you are going to watch this with children, and I don't see why not, use it as an opportunity to talk with them about the Holocaust and the ignorance of the rest of the world to the true horrors that were occurring at the time.

Fun Facts:
  • This is the first film in which Chaplin spoke - having made his stardom in the silent era.
  • Paulette Goddard spoke in this film as well, though I think she should have stuck to silent films.   

Saturday, July 3, 2010

David and Bathsheba

We watched this film in two days.  That's not because it's monsterously long or because we were insanely busy, but because the power went out, right in the middle of the stoning of the adultress.  It happened just as I was changing my postion on the couch, so my natural reaction was, "what did I just do?"  Well, the power company said it would take four hours to fix, and the aparment got so hot so fast that we had to evacuate and go to my parents' house for the night, leaving Bathsheba behind.  But that was alright because, let me just say, this one is an eye-roller. 

The Basics:
Made in 1951, David and Bathsheba was directed by Henry King in Technicolor. Starring Gregory Peck as David, Susan Hayward as Bathsheba, and Raymond Massey as Nathan, with a run-time of 116 minutes, the film was promoted with this tagline: "For this woman... he broke God's own commandment!"  The woman, of course, is Bathsheba, which is not pronounced the way  you are hearing it in your head as you read this.  It's Baaath-shiba, with the emphasis on the bath.  Additionally, the Philistines are now the Phil-iss-tins, with the emphasis on the second syllable.  Now that you've got that down, you're ready to hear the plot.

The Plot:
Oh, don't you know the plot?  Well, perhaps not as Hollywood tells it, for what was the story of a man's morbid lusts of the flesh is now portrayed as the doomed affair of the star-crossed lovers.  2 Samuel 11 describes David looking out and seeing Bathsheba washing herself on the roof of a neighboring house.  According to the scriptures, "David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home.  The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, 'I am pregnant.'"

According to Henry King's version, David sends for Bathsheba.  He finds out that she is unhappy in her marriage; only then does he suggest to her what is on his mind, with a kiss for her virtue. 
     Bathsheba: "The King does what he must.  His needs are the kingdom's."
     David: "Not all of them." 
Okaaay then... 
Well, when Bathsheba seems unwilling, David's pride is wounded, and he starts to send her away, taking consolation that her modesty matches her beauty.  What happens next is shocking, with Bathsheba making a startling confession.  Watch below.

An interesting exchange and interesting development in Bathsheba's character, to say the least. 

So together they stay and together enter a second adolescence, frolicking through fields of sheep and taking romantic picnics and camping trips.  How sweet.  When Bathsheba becomes pregnant, David tries to hide their sins from Uriah, Bathsheba's husband, who is uncooperative.  When Uriah cannot see an honorable reason for going to his wife, David argues with him from a almost feminist point of view, stressing the value of appreciating a woman's feelings, and trying to get Uriah to look at the situation from his wife's point of view.  The way the whole thing comes off is almost funny. 

Uriah does not comply, so he must be offed, but Hollywood softens the blow by having Uriah beg David to order him to the front of the hottest battle so that he may prove his honor.  And in one fell swoop the production crew steals away David's creative genius! 

In other deviations:
  • Bathsheba momentarily refuses to marry David because he did not visit her during her time of mourning.
  • Their son dies before Nathan foretells it from the Lord.
  • An angry mob enters the palace with Nathan and demands that Bathsheba be brought out for judgment under the Law of Moses.  This leads to an amusing scene in which David throws together a quick plan for fleeing the palace on fast horses, before he realizes that it is surrounded.
  • After David refuses to deliver Bathsheba to her accusers he marches out of the city to the tent of the Ark of the Covenant to deal directly with God in the Holy of Holies.  He prays, lays his hands on the Ark, and low and behold: the miraculous resolution of all of his problems!  The rains begin to fall, his people pay him homage, and Bathsheba is evidently forgiven.
The film ends in the resolute victory of their love that survived against all odds!  Hurrah!!

I have two truly nice things to say about the film.  One is that Gregory Peck's acting was quite good.  The second is that Raymond Massey also did a sound job in the role of Nathan.  Susan Hayward wasn't bad, until she had to pretend she was crying about her child's death.  This film is probably among the best and most faithful Biblical films ever made by Hollywood, but that's not saying much.  The script is still infused with a good deal of typical humanistic Hollywood undertones.  At least they are undertones and not in-your-face.

This was made in 1951, so we don't get the nudity and graphic bedroom scenes we would expect if this were made today, and of course the portrayal of her bath is conservative, even if having the camera focused on David's face magnifies the creepiness of the whole thing. There is a flashback memory scene of David fighting Goliath, which is fun.  And it is always entertaining to hear an East Coast accent coming out of Israelite soldiers. 

So for some reasons this film is worth looking into.  It is interesting to see how they handled David's attitude toward and interaction with God - in the Holy of Holies and throughout the film.  I think the vast majority of old films are worth watching, and this is no exception, but I would not call this a masterpiece, and I won't cheer for it.  I'm not rooting for the Phil-iss-tins either, though, so I'll call it even. :)
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