December was a bit slower month for me. I watched a couple of Dick Powell films as well as a few with Robert Mitchum. I also viewed a few classic Christmas films I had yet to see. Aside from Mitchum’s His Kind of Woman, none of this month’s movies wowed me. I also had fun watching In Person in which Ginger Rogers plays ugly. In all, I saw sixteen new films this month.
His Kind of Woman (1951) – Wow! This film was so much fun. I’m still on a Robert Mitchum kick. His chemistry with the gorgeous Jane Russell is spot on here. Plus, I loved her gowns. But Vincent Price absolutely steals the show! He is the BEST. By far, my favorite of his performances.
Beyond Tomorrow (1940) – How this Christmas movie escaped my notice until now, I don’t know. I loved the first half and the last five minutes. I had mixed feelings about the second half. But the fact that it stars some of my favorite character actors ultimately makes it one I will watch again. For more of my thoughts, here is my review.
The Story of G.I. Joe (1945) – I’ve seen many WWII films and some are better than others. There is nothing flashy about this particular one, but it made war-time conditions and actions feel so real to me. It also made me realize once again, not only how terrible, but also how wasteful and stupid war really is. I have to say, this may be my favorite of Robert Mitchum’s performances. It is so understated but powerful. I can see why he was nominated for an Oscar.
Saturday’s Children (1940) – I expected more from a drama starring John Garfield, even if he does play against type as a meek inventor. It’s a story of a newly married couple facing financial challenges. Sadly, I just couldn’t make myself care.
Lady L (1966) – I still don’t know what to make of this rather strange tale of a poor young woman who becomes the paramour of an anarchist and then the wife of an English Duke. Sophia Loren as usual is stunning and David Niven is cast well as the duke. I never really like Paul Newman as much when he plays against type as he does here as the anarchist. Still, it kept me interested for the two hour running time.
In Person (1935) – This obscure little comedy stars Ginger Rogers and George Brent. It is nothing special, but it is entertaining. Rogers plays a movie star who goes into disguise as a plain women while combatting an anxiety disorder. It is fun to see Ginger play homely.
A Dangerous Profession (1949) – This film noir was somewhat interesting and gave me an introduction to the business of bail bonds. George Raft is an ex-cop bail bondsman who investigates the murder of his ex-lover’s husband. I can’t help but thinking it would have been a part made even better with Bogart instead.
Thunder Road (1958) – My third Mitchum film this month. Here he is a driver for illegal whiskey trying to evade both government agents and a criminal enterprise while trying to keep his younger brother out of the family business. Mitchum’s son plays the younger brother and I couldn’t help being distracted by how much he looks like his father.
Plymouth Adventure (1952) – I’ve put off watching this one for a while. Spencer Tracy, Van Johnson and Gene Tierney all star in this grand colorful film about the voyage of the Mayflower. I thought all of them were miscast and the film was over long. Still, the scenes of the ship during a storm at sea were extremely well done and really brought home how brave those early settlers had to be.
A Woman’s Secret (1949) – I found myself intrigued by this tale of a washed up singer who admits to shooting her protege, only to find her wannabe boyfriend refuses to believe her confession and decides to get involved in the police investigation. I enjoyed seeing Maureen O’Hara in a role like this and she was complimented well by Melvyn Douglas and Gloria Graham.
Lady on a Train (1945) -I finally got around to watching this holiday film noir. I thought it was entertaining, but probably won’t go on my favorites list. Deanna Durbin can sing. I enjoyed her costuming, but her hair styles were rather distracting.
Varsity Show (1937) – This musical wasn’t all that exciting to be honest. I watched it for Priscilla Lane but her role was rather bland. But I did find Dick Powell interesting for the first time ever.
Carol for Another Christmas (1964) – I found this take on the classic A Christmas Carol depressing, self-righteous and rather “preachy”. I won’t be watching it again.
The Holly and the Ivy (1952) -This is how to do a Christmas drama right. Full of family secrets and dysfunction, it still leaves the viewer with hope. The British cast and quintessential English village setting infuses the serious story with plenty of charm.
Christmas in July (1940) – I enjoyed this cute little comedy with Dick Powell. I was surprised to learn it is a Preston Sturges film, which made me view it with a positive prejudice. But it will be a while before I watch it again.
The Asphalt Jungle (1950) -I’ve been meaning to watch this one for awhile. This heist story was intense but didn’t completely hold my attention. I’m not a fan of Sterling Hayden, although I do like looking at him. I found the other characters much more interesting.