Sunday, August 23, 2009

Torrent Picks 8/23/09

Well, its that time of the week again, time for me to post some movies that hopefully all of you will either give a watch and either enjoy or just out and out laugh at, because as I've said many times over, the best movies, really are the ones that are so bad you don't need mood medication after watching...

so with that said, lets get down into it shall we?

Night Nurse: Remember I was talking last week about pre-code hollywood? Meaning hollywood productions before they instilled a ratings system and such? Well one of the films that most people cite when mentioning the films of that era, is this one, Night Nurse, a 1931 film noir style thriller about gangsters and socialites and night shift nurses and such, its seen as one of Barbra Stanwyck's best roles, and is an early appearance of Clark Gable, who plays a mobster posing as a rich family's driver. The plot kind of floats around the idea of prohibition and how alot of rich people got in line with the early mobsters who were able to provide them alcohol and other contraband items that the rich were known to enjoy do to the fact they were infact rich. There also happens to be a fair amount of, what for the 1930s, was seen as overtly sexual imagery, by which I mean the two nurses in the film, Stanwyck and Joan Blondell, dressing and undressing, with alot of focus on them as they do it. One could argue that this semi-loose plotted film, could be one of, if not the first, sexploitation film, sure, there is no real nudity, but with the adult content dialog and how they show women in general in the film, one could really argue that its possible. I consider this one of those films you have to see before you die, sure its not life changing, and the whole bootlegging booze plot is kind of tired, but hey, its a fun little romp through would could be the first film of a genre, so, give it a shot, you might enjoy it.

I'm No Angel: I'm kind of in a pre-code mood today I guess, which is why I'm bringing this one out, I'm thinking I might do all pre-code this week, or as many as I can find, they aren't the most well sourced films in the world, anyway, this one here is a favorite of mine, plus it allows me to put something up that I been waiting to do for awhile now, post a Mae West film. This film, as you'll find with films of its time, has a kind of loosely held together plot, alot of which we would look at today and wonder how exactly it was possible. Mae West scars as Tara, a woman who entertains people at a circus sideshow by doing your average burlesque style show, singing, dancing and such, she's admired by many rich men who send her money and gifts and whatnot, she's got an exboyfriend named Slick, because I guess in the 1930s Slick was a common name, once she gets tired of Slick and his 1930s tough guy hair and zoot suit, she decides to hire a lawyer to file charges on him, I'd assume for looking like a generic thug from the old Dick Tracy comic strip, you know, copyright infringing and such... To gain this extra cash, Tara takes on the role of lion tamer with the circus, which makes her very rich, I guess back in the 1930s it was pretty rare to see a drugged out bisexual drunk woman put her head in a lion's mouth, which would I guess explain how she became world famous for it. After that, the film takes Tara to new york city, where she meets some rather rich men, one of which is played by a young Cary Grant, both of these men take a liking to her, even though one is engaged to another woman, from there the film kind of spirals into your normal average Mae West movie plot, two men fighting over the same woman, one already betrothed to someone else, one tells the other's future wife, who then goes and has a fight with the woman West is playing, normally calling her a "guttersnipe" (oh NO she di'n't!!) or something akin to that, and in the end, West's trampy character normally wins. Its your basic 1930s exploitation plot, but, West did save Paramount from going bankrupt, so can't hate on a girl for that, plus I do make fun of West's movies alot, but they are engaging in their own strange way, they sort of make you wanna watch them no matter how strange or bad they seem by today's standards, so if you've not seen this one, really give it a shot, see how you like it.

Scarface: Yeah, you can't do pre-code, or Paul Muni films with out this one, the original Scarface, long before Al Pachino came along in the remake of this, there was Paul Muni heading up, what was in the 1930s, an all star cast, and add to that it was directed by the great but forgotten Howard Hawks, as well as produced by Boris Karloff and Howard Hughes, and you can not help but end up with a gem. Even if its a gem thats hidden in the shadow of its reinvisioned remake thats more commonly known. Scarface has a simple plot, gang warfare. Oh sure its been played out so many times in film and on radio and television and other media for decades sense this film, but none of it, I think has ever really come close to getting it as beautifully done as Scarface did. Its loosely based on the life of Al Capone, and its important if for no other reason then it was one of the first american films to be seen in limited release. The studio wanted alot of the film changed, the ending and alot of the violence they said would make the film unable to be screened in some states, and after altering, reshooting, and still getting the same answer, Howard Hughes said screw it, and released the film in the states taht would allow it, thus making it one of the first films people literally would drive an entire day to see if needs be. I truly do consider this film the greatest gangster movie ever made, and when you really look at some of the films it beats, thats an impressive title to hold, its just so great, you've got the great but forgotten Paul Muni, who just shines as Scarface, where he's as amazing as he was in last week's "I am a Fugitive From A Chaingang", which I also raved about, plus, if him and his all star for the 1930s cast doesn't grab you, the directing by the forgotten but so brilliant Howard Hawks, the man I honestly think stands as the greatest american director of that era, if not of all time, dwarfing often raved about Cecil B. Demille's work easily.

Waterloo Bridge: The next stop in my pre-code trip this week is Waterloo Bridge, this is *technically* a pre-code film, well actually its a 1940 update of the 1931 film of the same name, for which I couldn't find a torrent, but, i could find one for the 1940 version starring Viviene Leigh, which is good, but I do much rather the 1931 James Whale directed version that stars Mae Clarke, and was set in world war one, and wasn't a flashback story, as well as it being Whale and Clarke's brilliant follow up to earlier in the year's Frankenstein, but, seeing as I can't seem to find a torrent, gonna bite the bullet on this one... Anyway, with that being said, here is the background on the film: On the eve of World War II, a British officer revisits Waterloo Bridge and recalls the young man he was at the beginning of World War I and the young ballerina he met just before he left for the front. Myra stayed with him past curfew and is thrown out of the corps de ballet. She survives on the streets of London, falling even lower after she hears her true love has been killed in action. But he wasn't killed. Those terrible years were nothing more than a bad dream is Myra's hope after Roy finds her and takes her to his family's country estate. From here the film sets up to and has its tragic end, though it differs from the original, and is one of my least favorite parts of the film, instead of going for true to life impact, they went for tragic followed by sadness, and though I admit, on its own this ending is alright, i felt the originals ending where Myra is killed in an air raid as she's walking over Waterloo Bridge to be better. As well as the fact that in the original pre-code film Myra was a prostitute, which actually made abit more sense given the story. But still, check it out, its a pretty good way to spend an afternoon, even if it differs greatly from its original content, which also, if you can find, totally should watch.

Red Headed Woman: Our final stop on our tour through pre-code hollywood is the film some think really made Jean Harlow a star, a saucy jaunt through the promiscuous life of a young secretary willing to do anything to get into high society life, and it goes by the name of Red Headed Woman. Harlow stars as Lilian 'Lil' Andrews, and well, I ain't saying Lil's a gold digger..., but I'm sure you know how the rest of that line goes. Anyway, Lil will do whatever it takes to get herself out of her life, which as she sees it, is boring, pedestrian and poor. She goes about seducing her boss, an aging wealthy business man who, breaks up his marriage in order to marry Lil, much to the surprise and shock of his now exwife. High Society shuns Lil, because most of the time in the 1930s High Society people are jerks and wanna hate on a sister for making that money money (yeah yeah), this doesn't bother Lil all that much really, I guess when you're a gold digger by trade, you get used to people hating on you for it, Lil eventually meets a coal tycoon who's a business friend of her husband's, she then, in true gold digger fashion, seduces this man as well, and then says she won't tell anyone if he has a party in her honor at her mansion, knowing that no one will dare to offend one of the richest men in the country, the party looks like a success at first, until Lil's only friend points out to her that everyone's left early for a party across the street for the exwife of Lil's husband, why you would live across the street from someone who's husband you stole is beyond me honestly, but, I don't claim to understand the mind of gold diggers, so, party on, Lil temporarily leaves for New York City, to recoup and get away from the stress of those around her, while she's gone, her husband finds a handkerchief of hers at his friend's home, guessing what she's done, he tells his elderly father, who shows him pictures he hired a detective to follow Lili around took, showing both her affair with her husband's friend, but also the man that drives his limo around. From here all hell breaks loose, and with out spoiling the ending for you, it proves once again, that if you think far enough ahead, you'll be able to get yourself out of anything.

Well thats it for this week, I hope you all enjoyed our little trip back to the pre-code era of Hollywood, where all the women were prostitutes and gold diggers, and all the men were either rich socialites or mobsters with impeccable hair, its a great throw back to the days when the world wasn't so uptight and it wasn't all so happy and friendly as you would be lead to believe...

so, until next week, I hope you enjoy these films as much as i enjoyed finding them..



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