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Friday, Apr 18, 2014
Look at her looking.

L’Immortelle begins as it means to continue: a series of fragmentary, disorienting scenes of a man gazing helplessly upon a fetishized, smiling, mysterious woman in a variety of locations around Istanbul. The opening montage of shots create an imaginary time and space through editing of glances and gestures across obviously disparate moments. The result is dreamlike and obsessive in very sharp, arid black and white. If these first moments don’t warn you away, you are helplessly under the movie’s spell. The rest of the film expands these scenes without explaining them: a man has a series of frustrating encounters, and evidently a sexual affair, with an elusive woman who might possibly be a spirit. At the very least, she’s a Symbol.


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Friday, Apr 18, 2014
Get a horse.

Sparke (Lon McCallister) is a troubled teen orphan who’s not big on school and had brushes with the law. After the death of an aunt who’d been raising him (his mother having died in childbirth), he’s packed off to the languishing horse ranch of another aunt (Charlotte Greenwood, who vanishes halfway through the picture) and her dour husband, “Thunder” Bolt (Walter Brennan), nursing his wounded memories of past glory as a breeder and racer. They have one blind mare called Lady. Sparke loves horses and decides to stay.


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Friday, Apr 11, 2014
Americana and Betty's legs

There have been a thousand show-biz musicals where the hero and heroine advance and retreat through many misunderstandings, arguments, and contrivances until they finally get together, and Betty Grable’s million-dollar-legs shuffled through a lot of them. Fortunately, Mother Wore Tights doesn’t belong to that species for long. It gets all that out of the way in the first reel so it can concentrate on being another kind of movie entirely: nostalgic, sentimental Americana about the trials and tribulations of a family, as recalled by the child who’s going to write a book about it.


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Friday, Apr 4, 2014
Tain't funny, McGee, but it's sure strange.

Husband-and-wife comedy team Jim and Marian Jordan starred in one of the most popular radio shows, Fibber McGee and Molly, for over 20 years. The characters starred in three RKO films, the first of which is Look Who’s Laughing (1941) in the Lucille Ball RKO Comedy Collection. Freshly available on demand from Warner Archive is a double-feature containing the last two films, Here We Go Again (1942) and Heavenly Days (1944), both movies named after Molly’s catch-phrases. To borrow another catch-phrase, “Tain’t funny, McGee”, but these movies sure are weird.


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Friday, Mar 28, 2014
Jack Benny meets a money pit.

According to the back of the box, Manhattanite Moss Hart moved to the country and renovated a Colonial estate. Out of this experience, he and co-writer George S. Kaufman hatched George Washington Slept Here, one of their many hit Broadway comedies. It was “opened out” into a film version that’s still funny today, despite or because of the loud and obvious nature of the humor, which involves Jack Benny falling through ceilings and down stairs with no more result than spouting one more exasperated, sarcastic one-liner.


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