A Carry On Bonanza!

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After recently coming across a most excellent post by Suzanne on the Carry On movies and with a recent gift to me being the box set of the beloved comedy series, it seemed only right to begin a feature on here for it. Even if you’ve never seen a Carry On movie, you’ll know of the bawdy franchise of British comedies that contain copious naughtiness and a stalwart cast. I must admit that I’ve only seen two of them, which is pretty shameful. That’s why I’m taking it upon myself to watch and review the long running movie series for your reading pleasure. So keep your eyes out for Carry On reviews. And while I’m discussing them, what are some of your favourite Carry On movies?

Gilda

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Film Title

Gilda

Director

Charles Vidor

Starring

  • Rita Hayworth as Gilda
  • Glenn Ford as Johnny Farrell
  • George Macready as Ballin Mundson

A seductive film noir that boasts a star-making, iconic turn from Rita Hayworth, Gilda is a dark movie to be treasured for how it spins a pretty sinister story into something classic and watchable.

In Buenos Aires, Argentina, newly arrived thug Johnny Farrell is going about his cheating ways of getting money through trickery and underhand tactics. After being accosted and almost killed by a disgruntled crabs player, Johnny is saved by the elegant Ballin Mundson. This strange man warns Johnny that he must up his game if he wants to make a living. Johnny eventually finds his way to a casino where he continues his dirty tricks. He is caught and put before the owner, who turns out to be Mundson himself. Johnny being something of a con man, talks his way into a job with Mundson. Gradually, he gains his confidence and makes his way up the ranks and into a lavish lifestyle that he’s aspired for. While retaining a friendship with his boss, there is something controlling about Mundson, as he seems to consider Johnny something he owns. Regardless of this, things go well for the two of them in their relationship, trust and business. Things take a definite turn when Mundson returns after some time away with a gorgeous and playful wife named Gilda. The thing is Johnny and Gilda are very familiar with each other, stemming from an old love affair that ended badly. Being loyal to his boss, Johnny tries to avoid his definite attraction to the seductive Gilda, who delights in putting on a show and seemingly tormenting him with her wiles. Mundson is also involved in some scheme that proves life threatening, just as the heat between Johnny and Gilda comes into view. Though both attempt to keep the lid on their feelings, it proves very difficult. Yet with the love-hate relationship between Johnny and mysterious Gilda intensifying, it’s just a matter of time before things get out of hand and much darkness arrives for all of them.

Charles Vidor infuses a stylish direction into this all-consuming tale, lending something of a voyeuristic approach to how we observe the gradually twisted triangle set up among Gilda, Johnny and Mundson. His control over pacing is marvellous, never wasting a second and pulling us into this seedy world populated by equally immoral people. The black and white cinematography is gorgeously smoky and shimmering, finding a glamour, danger and tension in the main setting of the casino. Shadowy deals paired with the overall feeling of everyone using each other is noir at its grandest and finest. Gilda brims with a darkness and sexual underbelly that go hand in hand. It is a playful yet dark hearted film noir that has a lot of things going on under the curtain. Of course, with the film being from the 40’s, you couldn’t explicitly showcase anything too graphic or racy. And yet through its sizzling dialogue( much of which has many meanings depending on how you look at it), a real perverse angle covers the film in a surprisingly stylish way. The trio of main characters are all nasty, vindictive and rotten ,yet you can’t tear your eyes away from them as their machinations and web-spinning gets out of control. They all appear to enjoy toying with each other for whatever pleasure they can get, even if it ultimately leads to their undoing. This is significantly highlighted by the back and forth of the script that knows exactly how to avert the censors with witty words and subtle hints. Control and power play heavily into the narrative, with the troika of characters all using it in some ways; essays it over both Johnny and Gilda, while the eponymous siren wields it in abundance over the two men in the picture . Dominance is thematically featured, most notably in homoerotic undertones between Johnny and Mundson , thanks to the suggestive and ambiguous dialogue. If some of it gets overly complex, it is quickly forgotten because of the tension and heat of the piece, with everything fit to boil at any minute. Being a classic movie, there are oodles of memorable moments from Gilda to cherish, but two stand out. The first is the entrance of Gilda herself; tossing her hair back in wild abandon, before realising that someone from her past is now very much a part of her present. And the most iconic moment is the sensational performance of ‘Put the Blame on Mame’. Gilda, clad in that memorable dress and slowly removing a satin glove, teases playfully with this song of how men blame women for their downfall. While being a sexy scene(showing that you can be seductive without revealing a lot), a pointed darkness is also apparent in further enhancing the perverse nature of this noir.

By far the thing you’ll remember the most in Gilda is the presence of the luscious Rita Hayworth in the title part. Conveying a devastating gorgeousness that is truly spellbinding and a mysterious personality that is hard to place, Hayworth commands the screen and cemented herself as a Love Goddess of the screen. For all the sexiness brought to it, Hayworth’s fine acting also adds a distinct melancholy that punctuates in between the scheming and alluring appeal. This is a role that will forever be remembered, largely down to Rita Hayworth’s impact and charms in it. Glenn Ford is ideal casting for the no-good small time Johnny, whose want for something comfortable and rich is compromised by his desire for Gilda that leaves him falling down. Ford gets the sneaky, wastrel like areas just right, coupling it with a ruthless need to succeed in things, until his anger and lust can’t take it. And his scenes with Hayworth are loaded with simmering tension. George Macready rounds out this twisted trio with a courtly yet menacing display of cunning and trickery, constantly testing everyone around him to see what the results will be.

A dazzlingly dark and twisted noir covered in a gorgeously photographed sheen, Gilda is not to be missed by movie fans.

Blogs You Should Follow Part 16

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I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I wouldn’t be here without the blogging community I have around me. You are the shining lights and extended family of mine. So to celebrate, I’m giving back by suggesting blogs you should definitely follow.

Son of a Beach – This fine blog is exciting and visually stunning, featuring photography that just sweeps you away. The man behind it is cool, friendly and intelligent. You couldn’t ask for a nicer guy or more fun blog.

This Is My Truth Now – James runs this prolific site that positively overflows with energy, humour and depth. With a very approachable style and amiable appearance, this blog is a ray of light and love.

Movies I Really Should Have Seen By Now

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Over the years, I’ve seen that a lot of bloggers make it their mission to see films that are ones everyone should have seen. I am no exception to this and will be doing just that. I mean we all have those movies that we should have seen but haven’t for whatever reason. Below is a list of films of that sort that I plan to watch and review to continue my learning as a student of cinema.

  • Casablanca
  • Escape From New York
  • Big Trouble in Little China
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Cinema Paradiso
  • Notorious
  • Gilda
  • Giant
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  • The Sting
  • Safe
  • Nashville
  • The Big Country
  • Rebel Without a Cause
  • Sabrina
  • Funny Face
  • Funny Girl

Who Are Your Favourite Stars From Hollywood’s Golden Age?

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The Golden Age of Hollywood is attributed mainly to the late 1920’s to the early 1960’s. This was the era of glamour, big budget film making and more stars than in heaven. Today, I’m curious to know your favourite stars from this bygone time of cinematic excellence. I have many, but will list a few because if I listed them all the post would be never ending.

Bette Davis

Cary Grant

James Stewart

Sophia Loren

Humphrey Bogart

Lauren Bacall

Paul Newman

Elizabeth Taylor

Spencer Tracy

Audrey Hepburn

So now I’ve shared some of mine, which stars from the Golden Age are the ones you love?

 

Happy Birthday Viola Davis

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The sublime Viola Davis turns 52 today. Over the last few years, she has really caught my eye with her grace, humanity and power on screen. She’s truly an outstanding actress of depth and range. Every time I see her, I just know she will be on point and deliver a beautiful performance. So my best birthday wishes to the fabulous Viola Davis. Long may you continue to impress us with your work.

What Else Do I Love?

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I enjoyed doing the last post like this and the feedback of it. In case anyone missed it, you can find it here. My love for things is pretty unending but I’ll narrow it down to some specifics as best I can.

I love my followers. The blogging community has been superb to me and I owe so much to you all. You’re a constant hub of love, opinions and conversation that never grows old. Thank you everyone for your support and care.

I love sex. Hopefully that didn’t come off as too creepy for everyone, but sex is a natural and beautiful thing. It’s an experience that combines physical and mental stimulation, plus pleasure. How can you go wrong?

I love the glamour of Old Hollywood movies. There’s a special kind of dedication and magic that’s impossible to recapture in anything modern. I can’t explain it, but there’s something exceptional and timeless about the great movies of the post.

I love to dance. Not ballroom or anything, just regular dance. Ever since I can remember, dancing has been something I revisit and enjoy. Now I’m no professional, but I’ve been told I can bust a move pretty well.

 

Social and Kitchen Sink Dramas

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I have seen social dramas and examples of the kitchen sink variety in the past, but I believe I must expand upon that. It’s interesting to see movies that reflect society and the struggles of the everyday for working class people. I was inspired to delve into the respective genres when I came across some work I had done in college that spoke of how society was reflected in movies. I remember my film teacher, a very proud working class guy, telling us all that instead of wasting our time with blockbusters, our attentions should be on more thinking fare that reflected the world around us. Going from this, I’ve decided to seek out social dramas and kitchen sink movies. As I trust you all, I want to ask for your recommendations in these genres.

White Squall

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Film Title

White Squall

Director

Ridley Scott

Starring

  • Jeff Bridges as Captain Christopher “Skipper” Sheldon
  • Scott Wolf as Chuck Gieg
  • Jeremy Sisto as Frank Beaumont
  • Ryan Phillippe as Gil Martin
  • Eric Michael Cole as Dean Preston
  • Balthazar Getty as Tod Johnstone
  • Caroline Goodall as Alice Sheldon
  • John Savage as McCrea
  • Julio Oscar Mechoso as Girard

Inspired by true events of a and the storm they ran into along the way, Ridley Scott’s White Squall is an underrated adventure/coming of age film that while a tad formulaic, is riveting entertainment and spectacle throughout.

It is the early 60’s and a group of teenagers sign up to sail on a ship known as the Albatross for several months. The curriculum is both a mixture of scholarly work and more importantly the practical seafaring variety. The ship is commanded by experienced and tough Captain Christopher Sheldon, who is referred to throughout as Skipper. He is a take no prisoners captain who doesn’t tolerate slacking or idleness. The ship also has Skipper’s wife and medic Alice, English teacher McCrea and cook Girard on board. The main boys comprise of personable and searching Chuck Gieg(who also functions as narrator), the much abused and insecure rich kid Frank Beaumont, timid and vulnerable Gil Martin, misbehaving show off Dean Preston and wise-cracking Tod Johnstone . Their voyage will take them through the South Pacific and the Caribbean, and be a rites of passage for all. At first, the ragtag group of recruits is at odds with Skipper’s methods and continually rebel. His rigorous training takes flight as he expects them to learn discipline, respect and teamwork while aboard. Not that this will be easy as the boys test him with all they’ve got in various ways. He however is not above this challenge and enforces his authority with his tests and  Gradually, a newfound respect and sense of teamwork is discovered among them all. They all manage to bond together to form a skilled set of young men, with Skipper growing quietly fond and protective of them. Experiencing misadventures and mishaps binds them as a group and the training from Skipper more than pays off. Yet just as everyone is coming together, disaster lurks in the distance. They find themselves coming into the view of a ferocious storm, which will test each and every one of them as danger approaches.

Within Ridley Scott at the helm, you know the direction isn’t going to disappoint. And Scott brings his trademark eye for visuals to this exciting story, while still getting to the human heart of the themes of survival and camaraderie. Scott has this tale under his command and allows us time to learn about the crew before disaster hits later on. Spectacle is something Ridley Scott does superbly, but his equally excellent building of emotion and heart is also worthy of praise, particularly in White Squall. Gorgeous vistas and sights are glimpsed, presenting life at sea as something ripping but just as easily challenging and not for the weak of heart. The coming of age aspects of White Squall are far from original but we’ll plated and envisioned. It helps that you buy into the initially green boys growing up and after scrapping and disagreements in the beginning, can be there for each other and pull their weight in times that it is needed. The movie isn’t perfect however, with some of it really going too slow. I believe that because you know imminent tragedy will come you are waiting for it to happen, and it can make you impatient. This presents both a slight flaw and a positive; the build up at least establishes quite a few of the characters to us and let’s us observe their changes under the tutelage of the Skipper, while it can get to be a chore when you’re anticipating the big set piece to flower. Any in pace is however made up when the storm hits and we are dealt an exciting and emotion driven wallop. Using fast cuts, slow motion and stirring yet tense music, the scene is an extended action piece that is mightily impressive in almost every aspect. This intense and ferocious scene where we see the boys go beyond everything they’ve learned can to survive and face danger head on is one of considerable impact and vision. I can’t wax lyrical enough about this scene and what it accomplishes, both on an action level and on emotional clarity. The ending chapter feels a tad tacked on, but can be forgiven for what has come before. A dramatic score is just the ticket for this movie, finding both beauty and danger in its rhythms.

Jeff Bridges exudes a tough, compelling yet fair persona as the captain, mostly referred to as Skipper. He’s the kind of man to keep you in line but reward you if you comply and be part of the team. Bridges boasts a dignity and wry wisdom that inspires both admiration and trepidation among the boys. For me, Jeff Bridges has always been a fine actor when he quietly and subtly gets into part, which is what he does in White Squall. A sea-captain often allows the opportunity to overact and be loud, but Bridges has a more disciplined and nuanced angle that is largely more effective than over dramatic antics. You believe him as this leader because if the commanding energy and the fact that he doesn’t care whether his crew likes him, as long as they pull together even needed. A finely tuned and thoughtfully played performance from the great Jeff Bridges is what we get. Scott Wolf is the main eyes and ears of the film, providing the narration and likable attitude of the movie. He has a certain wonder in his eyes as he observes the events on the ship and he makes a really great lead character. Jeremy Sisto is very impressive, digging into the troubled mind of a spoiled kid, constantly berated by his father and singled out. If this kid could only get a break, he might be able to flourish. Ryan Phillippe is appropriately scared and in a muddle, mainly down to the character feeling he is so weak in all of this, when he’s actually pretty smart. The classic bully comes in the form of Eric Michael Cole, who reveals that he’s really a shy person with no self-esteem that is complimented by Balthazar Getty as the know it all joker. Though these characters feel rather archetypal in the scope of things, they are acted with sincerity. While the previously mentioned actors get parts that they can work with, the rest are awash in a sea of white T-shirts and suntan. As the main woman in the film, Caroline Goodall isn’t given a whole lot to do, but still shows her mettle when the occasion calls for it. John Savage provides some comic relief as the ship’s sonnet quoting teacher along with Julio Oscar Mechoso.

While it’s nothing particularly new, White Squall succeeds in the strength of its story, acting and command under Scott’s stylish yet emotive and exciting direction. For my money, this is a pretty undervalued movie in Scott’s filmography that deserves a watch.

The Most Eventful Places to Live on Television

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Many television shows showcase eventful places for the characters to occupy, but there are some more eventful than others. There’s no shortage of drama or mayhem in the following roads, streets or towns. These are only a few examples as there are too many to list.

Sunnydale- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

Many people may proclaim that where they live is hellish, but fancy residing in a town where you are right about the mouth of hell. For Buffy and pals, things that go bump in the night and monsters are a day to day occurrence as frequent as going shopping. Much supernatural peril and ass kicking commences in the ironically named Sunnydale.

Wisteria Lane- Desperate Housewives:

Beneath the pleasant mask of suburban bliss is a very dark hotbed of affairs, murders and bitchiness. Seriously, how much stuff has gone down in Wisteria Lane for the eponymous ladies? It’s no wonder the emergency services are an almost constant presence on the seemingly sleepy street given all the drama unfolding.

Coronation Street- Coronation Street:

The long running British soap boasts one of the most event laden streets in television history. For such a small street in Manchester with only a few houses, Coronation Street’s small size shouldn’t fool you as its played host to all number of tragedies, disasters and squabbling. Scrapping in the street is a given, bed-hopping is a go to and drinking in the pub is mandatory. Is it any wonder there’s so much going on?

Those were three examples that spring to my mind. So which places in television would you say had enough drama to last a lifetime?