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Thursday, Aug 7, 2014
Warner Archive has offered up a version of the 1955 version of "Kismet", which contrasts nicely with its 1944 counterpart.

A bit of gaudy Technicolor escapism fashioned in the middle of WWII, William Dieterle‘s Kismet takes place in a never-never-Bagdad that crosses the Arabian Nights with Hollywood. The always excellent Ronald Colman plays the self-styled King of Beggars with as much magnetic swagger and light charm between turban and goatee as could have been mustered by Errol Flynn—and we might as well mention Douglas Fairbanks, since the film seems to be channeling bits of The Thief of Bagdad.


Marlene Dietrich doesn’t have that much to do, but she does it with enough high camp to become her own spectacle within the spectacle; in other words, she comes across like Marlene Dietrich. Her highpoint is a bit of interpretive dance that looks like a light exercise routine as she’s decked out in gold paint like the unfortunate damsel in Goldfinger. The viewer can only stare as she leans backward and lays her head upon the dais. Perhaps the laziest gal in town is about to take a nap, but her audience is at full attention.


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Wednesday, Aug 6, 2014
This week on our ongoing field guide to 1950s horror and sci-fi movies and the creatures that inhabit them: things get spicy south of the border in The Aztec Mummy, known to Telemundo viewers as La Momia Azteca

Alternative titles: Montezuma’s Other Revenge; Hey, Does This Look Infected?


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Wednesday, Aug 6, 2014
What makes James Gunn's scruffier and un-spandex'd band of reluctant heroes so appealing is how they approximate the good-hearted rogues on the raggedy charm of space westerns like Whedon’s own "Firefly".

There’s a lot to appreciate—and maybe even love—about Guardians of the Galaxy. The oozing and eager-to-please sprawl of Gen-X references, from Mom’s ‘70s pop music mixtape to hero Peter Quill (Chris Pratt, surfer-dude sly) romancing the green-skinned assassin babe Gamora (Zoe Saldana) by referencing the “legend” of Footloose. Banter threaded slyly through the action instead of airdropped in by executive committee looking for humor beats. A talking raccoon skilled in jail-breaks and bomb-making. David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream”. A genocidal villain thwarted by a dance-off. The two-hour running time, practically unheard-of brevity for modern blockbusters. Howard the Duck.


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Tuesday, Aug 5, 2014
With his passing at age 92, this make-up wizard left behind a legacy that literally reinvented movie F/X while influencing the people who created them.

He went to Yale, where he was planning on being a dentist. However, once he read a book on make-up techniques, he began experimenting on members of the drama club. After World War II, he sent out pictures of his self-taught applications and looks, but there were no takers in the close-knit world of Hollywood.


His father suggested he try the fledgling medium of television, and before long, a young 20 something Dick Smith was working at WNBC in New York. For a 1959 production of The Moon and the Sixpence, he had to turn Laurence Olivier into a leper. After taking one look at what Smith had done, the legendary thespian said that he was more than satisfied as the grotesque latex appliances would do “the acting for him”. It was something Smith never forgot over the course of his long, legendary life (he died on 30 July, 2014).


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Monday, Aug 4, 2014
Chase a Crooked Shadow trades upon sexism, but it also makes the audience question its own uncertainty about the motives and sanity of the female characters.

Kimberley Prescott (Anne Baxter), who lost both her brother and her wealthy father, is wasting away her life in a fabulous villa near Barcelona, going to parties and sighing, not unlike Jean Seberg in the same year’s Bonjour Tristesse. But wait—a mysterious man (Richard Todd) and a harsh woman (Faith Brook) are studying slides of her villa’s exits and entrances, so something’s afoot. Suddenly the man shows up at the villa and claims to be Kimberley’s dead brother, Ward Prescott, and that a stranger really died in the car that went over a cliff. And thus, the plot for Chase a Crooked Shadow is set in motion.


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