May 2019 Quickie Film Reviews

I’m keeping my intro brief this month and just sharing May’s entertainment viewing stats:

  • 30 films and series total
  • 2 theater releases
  • 5 TV series
  • 8 re-watches
  • 14 new classic films
  • 4 Mitchum films
But Not for Me with Lee J Cobb, Clark Gable and Lili Palmer

Favorite discoveries: Tell It To the Judge, But Not For Me, Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries

The Crimson Petal and the White (2011) – I got half-way through this mini-series about an intelligent and ambitious prostitute before giving up. I adore Romola Garai, but this one was just too gritty and darkly realistic for me.

The Lake House (2006) – I had forgotten how much I love this quiet, thoughtful film. Having recently watched the original Korean version, I have to say that I still prefer this one. And we seriously need more of Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves together, please.

The Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) – Enough time had passed since I saw this, that I had forgotten most of it. What a beautifully sad yet romantic story this is with excellent performances.

Happy Land (1943) – I have a soft spot for Don Ameche as well as Harry Carey and thought they were both great in this patriotic but sad film about a man whose son dies in war.  Sadly, Frances Dee was completely wasted in her role, but that is not her fault.

Desire Me (1947) – Having heard so much about how bad this film is, my expectations weren’t high. Despite the presence of both Greer Garson and Robert Mitchum I had a hard time finishing this one. Garson’s character just seems like a complete idiot for falling for a man who is such a creepy stalker. He was so clearly disturbed that I could barely watch him on screen. And then of course, there wasn’t nearly enough of Mitchum.

Until They Sail (1957) -This slow moving drama about four New Zealand sisters who entertain American soldiers during the war actually grew on me the longer I watched it. I loved seeing Sandra Dee in her first picture and Jean Simmons and Joan Fontaine were both stunning. Paul Newman also gives a nuanced performance as a disillusioned soldier.

Tomorrow is Forever (1946) – Whatever else is said about Orson Welles, I am convinced that he was an amazingly talented actor. He under-plays his role here about a man returning home after twenty years only to meet his former wife and her second husband and children. George Brent is so amiable in his role and Claudette Colbert make her character so human and easy to empathize with.

Tell it to the Judge (1949) – This Rosalind Russell vehicle is going on my list of favorite comedies. I giggled all the way through this film about a man trying to win back his suspicious wife. Robert Cummings almost steals this picture from Roz in what I think is one of his best performances. My review for the Rosalind Russell Blogathon.

Ms. Fisher Modern Mysteries (2019) – As much as I adore Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, I had my doubts that this follow up series featuring her niece would live up to the original. However, I was happily surprised and found myself falling hard for the young Peregrine Fisher, her potential police detective beau and her compatriots of The Adventuresses Club. It honors the original series while building on it to produce something new. I reviewed this one for The Silver Petticoat Review.

The Mule (2018) – Clint Eastwood films just aren’t my cup of tea. I don’t deny they are well made with reliable talent, I just don’t generally enjoy them. This one about an elderly man who becomes a drug mule is an interesting story, but it’s not one I’ll remember.

Miracle in the Rain (1956) – This little melodrama is not quite what I expected. In some ways it reminds of me of Judy Garland’s The Clock. It ran a bit long, but I do think it is one of my favorite of Van Johnson’s roles. He’s so endearing with Jane Wyman.

The Big Steal (1949)- For the longest time, I couldn’t understand the appeal of Robert Mitchum. Now, I can’t get enough of his films. This is a fun little car chase/mistaken identity mystery. I think Jane Greer makes a good partner for Mitchum and I loved her acerbic one-liners.

Call the Midwife Season 8 – This series does an excellent job remaining fresh and relevant for a show set back in the 1960’s. After eight seasons, it still delivers interesting characters and stories, which is a rare feat in television.

Bless This Mess (2019) – I didn’t expect much from this half hour comedy, but I find it improving with each episode. I was intrigued by its’ fish out of water story about a young New York couple who moves to an isolated Nebraska farm. Dax Shepherd and Lake Bell’s marriage is the ultimate #relationshipgoals. I also appreciate that so far there is no foul language, political agenda or nudity.

A Place to Call Home Season 2 – Though not in love with this series, I enjoyed it enough to watch the second season. However, I think this show jumped the shark with the alternate season two ending. Not to mention, it started to feel a little too soap opera-ish for me. I’m not sure I will continue with further seasons.

The Gay Falcon (1941) – Why did I wait so long to discover this film? George Sanders is perfect as the playboy/amateur detective. And Gladys Cooper looks so young and beautiful! It reminded me a bit of The Thin Man series but with a bit more biting sarcasm.

Baby Face (1933) – It’s been a while since I saw this famous pre-code, but boy, what a powerhouse performance by Barbara Stanwyck! This reminded me why she is one of my favorite actresses. So much grit in her personally and in in her performances.

Crazy Rich Asians (2018) – I enjoyed this rom-com just as much the second time around as the first time I saw it.

Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938)- I want all of Claudette Colbert’s clothes from this film! They are stunning. I didn’t particularly love this movie the first time around but definitely found my opinion improving after a second viewing. Colbert and Gary Cooper feel mis-matched to me. But it is a Lubitsch film so it is better than most tongue in cheek comedies on their best day.

Avengers: End Game (2019) – Honestly, this was everything I wanted the final Avengers movie to be. I loved how it honored past films and characters, bringing everything full circle, yet didn’t patronize fans with a completely unrealistic happy ending. And I maybe, might have cried a little knowing it was wrapping up certain story lines. Simply amazing and totally worth the time I’ve invested in the franchise over the years.

Tolkien (2019) – A beautifully filmed biographical drama that shows how the early years of the author shaped the stories we all know and love. I didn’t love the ending as it felt a bit disjointed, but otherwise this is a story which will stick with me for a while. Read my review for The Silver Petticoat Review.

Ryan’s Daughter (1970) – I can see why people give this David Lean directed picture good reviews. The acting and cinematography are excellent. Billed as a type of re-make of Madame Bovary, I wasn’t crazy about the story overall. However, I did like it better than Madame Bovary. I wish even more focus had been given to the historical aspects of the Irish rebellion.

The Gentle Sex (1943) – I’m pretty sure I read a positive review for this British picture which is what motivated me to watch it. This war-time propaganda film fell a bit flat for me, even with Leslie Howard’s narration. I think it tried to focus on too many main characters which didn’t leave enough room to develop any of them.

Pursuit (1935) – Don’t as me why, but I have a soft spot for Chester Morris. Though not exceptional, I was entertained by this breezy film about two people working together to bring a young child to Mexico to protect him from dubious relatives. Sally Eilers wise-cracking heroine was a good match for Morris’ pilot.

Thor: Ragnorok (2017) – After this second viewing, I am even more convinced that this is my favorite of the Thor films. I love the rock music used in the score at pivotal moments and the humor lightens up an otherwise darker story line.

But Not For Me (1959) – This was the last Clark Gable movie I had yet to see and I had put it off for a long time, because my expectations were low. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find it better than I though it would be. Gable’s age is wisely used as a punchline for many of the film’s jokes. I loved Lee J Cobb and Lili Palmer as Gable’s playwright pal and ex-wife. But I felt Carroll Baker was badly miscast as the starry-eyed secretary turned ingénue who is love with Gable. My review for the Clark Gable Blogathon.

The Lusty Men (1952) – Still on my Robert Mitchum viewing spree, I gave this western a go. Mitchum gives a fine performance of a retired rodeo star. But I wasn’t crazy about the husband and wife team he pairs up with in this story. Mostly, I’m just not a fan of Susan Hayward.

The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1943) – It’s been a long time since I saw this one, and I forgot how funny it is. I love these ensemble pictures from Preston Sturges. Betty Hutton is not a favorite, but she is beautiful and plays the ditzy blonde well.

Second Chance (1953) – Thanks to a storm outage, I only got to see the beginning and end of this thriller starring Robert Mitchum and Linda Darnell. However, that was just about long enough. The color on this picture was muddled and the plot was nothing to write home about. I managed to see what most reviewers describe as the most interesting part – the cable car scene.

It’s a Wonderful World (1939) -This is my third viewing of this film and I always hope I will like it better than I remember. It’s not a bad movie, it’s just not a good one either. Although there are hints of the harder, desperate characters James Stewart would play later on in his career. Honestly, I think Claudette Colbert was miscast in this story.

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