October 2019 Quickie Film Reviews

Well, this month was a slow start. It took me a while to find some films/series that were memorable. But I ended the October with a bang, at least when it came to classic titles.

  • 31 Films/Series Total
  • 18 New Classics
  • 6 TV Series
  • 5 Re-watches
  • 4 Foreign/International
The Picture of Dorian Grey
Photo Source: IMDb

Biggest Disappointment The Talented Mr. Ripley

Favorite Discovery – It’s a toss-up between The Million Pound Note & The Picture of Dorian Gray

Love 911 (2012) – I had to force myself to finish this Korean film, mainly because the main female character was so selfish and annoying. This movie had potential to be a great story. A female doctor elicits the help of a grieving widowed firefighter when she makes a life altering mistake with a patient. But sadly, I found myself rooting for the doctor to pay for her self-absorption and hoping the male lead would see through her schemes.

The Most Beautiful Thing/Coisa Mais Linda (2019) – Set in the late 50’s this Netflix Brazilian series explores the birth of Bossa Nova, women’s liberation and the gorgeous sun-drenched scenery of Rio de Janiero. I adore the music and the cinematography. And I thought the lead actress fascinating as she breaks free of societal and familial expectations. But still, there’s something slightly lacking in this series, that demotes it to good instead of great.

My Life is Murder (2019) – I started this Australian cozy mystery series starting Lucy Lawless last month, but didn’t get very far. But it finally caught my interest and I found myself binge-watching the rest of the series this month. Lawless character is not quite likable and yet you can’t help but root for her. I love how her relationships with her co-workers show us more of her personality. As for those co-workers, they are my favorite part of this mystery series.

The Million Pound Note/Man With a Million (1954) – How have I never heard of this Gregory Peck British produced comedy before? It’s absolutely delightful! Peck plays a poor American in London who is given the loan of a million pound note as part of a bet between two eccentric brothers. This has a quirky British cast and a subtle message about the hypocrisy of how people respond to wealth.

The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery (1959) – One of Steve McQueen’s earlier roles, I expected to enjoy this more than I did. Even though it is a crime drama, I didn’t think it would be so tragically bleak.

Beauty and the Boss (1932) – This zippy little pre-code stars everyone’s favorite lecher William Warren who hires an efficient, but mousy secretary only to find himself falling for her. Marian Marsh is a bit too peppy for me as the secretary, but she is also darling. And she looks is very much a doppleganger for a young Reese Witherspoon. The romance angle was hard to believe, but hey, who cares?

The Girl From 10th Avenue (1935) – Did Bette Davis ever give a bad performance? She is the saving grace of this otherwise average film about a poor young woman who enters a marriage of convenience in order to “cure” a wealthy alcoholic lawyer.

Desirable (1934) – You all know my appreciation for George Brent. He’s very pleasant in this story about a man who falls for his paramour’s daughter. The first half of this film was not my favorite. The adult daughter acts annoyingly young for her age and it feels icky that the two could be attracted to each other. But as the movie goes on, it turns into a lovely, credible romance.

The Hookup Plan Season 2 – I fell hard for this French Netflix mini-series about a woman who is unknowingly set up with a male hooker by her friends.  So, I was excited for the sophomore season. However it didn’t wow me like the first. Elsa and her friends are still as flawed and frustrating as ever and this time around I found it annoying. They are the most selfish, self-absorbed people. I missed the focus on the chemistry of the two leads. The last episode saved the season for me, but otherwise, I didn’t love it.

Count Your Blessings (1959) I had some major problems with the plot about a war-time couple reuniting only to contemplate divorce. Mainly I was annoyed by the assumption that French men are expected to be unfaithful to their wives and the women just have to accept it. However, the color and settings of this film were gorgeous as were its’ stars Deborah Kerr and Rossano Brazzi.

The Notebook (2004) – I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched this movie. But it didn’t resonate with me as much as it has in the past. Could I possibly be out-growing this one?

10 Things I Hate About You (1999) – Call me crazy, but I still love this 90’s teen rom-com based on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. Heath Ledger was a rare talent we lost too soon.

Party Wire (1935) – I remember being pleasantly surprised by this lesser known Jean Arthur film the first time I watched it. Victor Jory does a great job playing the male lead/love interest for a change. It’s depiction of the affects of small town gossip is bitingly funny.

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) – Having seen the French film Purple Noon, I was looking forward to comparing this remake to the original. Although the cinematography and acting was great, I did not enjoy this one.  It was too long and I didn’t like the changes that were made. The ending ruined it for me, since Purple Noon has one of my favorite endings ever of a crime drama.

Employee’s Entrance (1933) – This has been on my TBW list for awhile. It was good, but pre-code Loretta Lynn and Warren William just aren’t my favorites. I was impressed with Wallace Ford however, as a man torn between his new wife and his own ambitions to please his boss.

Falling Inn Love (2019) – Netflix’ version of a Hallmark movie and I liked it. Is it cheesy and predictable? Of course. But I loved the New Zealand setting. I was also impressed with Christina Milan and of course her male lead wasn’t too hard on the eyes. This was cute.

This Gun For Hire (1942) – Sometimes you have to be reintroduced to someone/thing before you appreciate it. Such is the case for me with Alan Ladd. I re-watched this one and was mesmerized by his cooly intense performance as the wronged hitman. Also, I think that this is one of the best pairings of Ladd with co-star Veronica Lake as she gets to be more than window dressing.

Five and Ten (1931) – I just can’t get excited about Leslie Howard and I generally prefer Marion Davies silent films. But I thought this romantic family drama very interesting. I also appreciate it’s exploration of how money can negatively influence family relationships. Douglas Montgomery was great as Davies’ brother and reminded me of Lew Ayres similar performance in Holiday.

Modern Love (2019) – I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this original Amazon series. It turns out it was a bit of a mixed bag for me. What I did appreciate is how it highlights true and unique love stories from New Yorkers beyond your typical romantic love. My favorite episode features Dev Patel whose performance knocked it out of the park. The worst for me was the “dad” episode which gave me the creepy-crawlies.

Doc Martin Season 9 – How nice it is to return to Portwenn and the familiar quirky residents who live there. I love seeing Doc Martin’s personal growth and it’s nice seeing Louisa a bit out of her element this season. Also, I’m so happy with Al and Morwena’s story line this season.

The Uninvited (1944) – I’m not much for scary films, which is why I put off watching this one. But my fears were unfounded about this ghost tale. Ray Milland is not only at his most likable but also his most interesting. It was also nice to see Ruth Hussey in a starring role. The gothic atmosphere is almost real enough to touch.

Racket Busters (1938) – How could a picture starring Humphrey Bogart and George Brent turn out so average? This felt very much like a propaganda film proclaiming the evils of the crime racket in trucking, not that that is a bad thing. But Brent’s performance was uneven and  Bogey over-played a cliche. Surprisingly, only Allen Jenkins character felt sincere.

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1954) – I doubt there has ever been a better match for the witty words of Oscar Wilde (who wrote the original story) than George Sanders  and his natural insouciance. I knew I would love this movie as soon as I heard him spouting Wilde’s one-liners like a seasoned pro. But, then I was further wowed by the plot, the direction and the cinematography of this moral horror story. This is one of those films whose impact reverberates for a while.

A Family Affair (1937) – I’ve never seen any of the Andy Hardy films, but I absolutely adored this one. It straddled the line between comedy and a more serious message. It also featured wonderful performances by some of the best actors in the business.

Storm at Daybreak (1933) – I have mixed feelings about this one. Though populated by a great cast including Walter Huston, Kay Francis and Nils Asther, this war time story about a love triangle felt uneven somehow. Still, I find Asther mesmerizing and can see how easily Francis’ character could fall for him.

If You Could Only Cook (1935) – It’s been a long time since I saw this underrated comedy starring Jean Arthur and Herbert Marshall. They are an unusual pairing, but a charming one. I also fell hard for the love sick but soft-hearted gangster they work for.  Honestly, I found the whole film adorable.

This is Us Season 4 – I’m not sure yet how I feel about this season. While I appreciate the new story-lines introducing new characters, I miss the focus on the original family. I am glad we are finally learning a little bit more about Miguel’s history with the Pearsons. This is still the best show on television.

Forever Female (1953) – I’m doing a full review of this Ginger Rogers film for an upcoming blogathon, so I’ll keep this brief. This is an imperfect but pleasant movie starring Rogers, William Holden and Paul Douglas which was marred by a newcomer’s performance. The writing by the Epstein brothers is a highlight as is the chemistry between Rogers and Douglas as friendly exes who have a strong partnership in the theater.

Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House (2019) – I adore this high-maintenance, blonde-bobbed sleuth and her coterie of friends who help her solve crimes. I was very much looking forward to this newest installment and it did not disappoint. It’s a relief to see Agatha & James finally have worked their relationship out. The mystery kept me guessing and I enjoyed the newest addition to the team. My one complaint is there wasn’t enough Sir Charles Fraith.

River of No Return (1954) – What an absolutely stunning movie! It certainly makes the most of its’ shooting location in the Canadian Rockies. The color is gorgeous and the CinemaScope gives the scenery center stage. Of course, the understated performances of Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe also add to this Western. My only complaint is that I doubt saloon girls of the West ever sported Monroe’s platinum blonde.

And One Was Beautiful (1940) – Two sisters fall for the same man. But when one accidentally kills someone while driving his car, the other sister does her best to prove his innocence and her sister’s guilt. There were quite a few things about this B programmer I found hard to believe. But Laraine Day and Robert Cummings are both so likeable I was able to ignore them and just enjoy it.

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