Monday, August 27, 2012

Breakfast In Hollywood (1946)

Heart Singing...Laugh Ringing! Here's a Honey of a Hit!
Director:Harold D. Schuster
Tom Breneman
Bonita Granville
Beulah Bondi
Edward Ryan
Raymond Walburn
Billie Burke
Zasu Pitts
Guest Appearances By:
Hedda Hopper
Andy Russell
Spike Jones
Nat King Cole
I don't think I've ever watched a movie from 1946 that reminded me of a movie that was made in 2010.  But, while watching Breakfast in Hollywood, a movie that takes various stars in various sub-plots while joining them together in one central theme, in this case a morning radio program that aired nationally at the time (for those from the Cincinnati area, a kind of pre Ruth Lyon's show for women), the similarities between it and Valentine's Day struck me as deja vu.  It made me realize how dismal that latter movie really was.  But, I'm not here to write about movies from this century so let's return to the middle of the 20th century and this rather convoluted piece of fluff that, while at points are entertaining, left me most of the time pausing the Amazon Prime streaming to see how much time was left.  And then finally, when everything begins to pick up, the movie comes to a fairly quick conclusion.
This film is centered around around a radio program hosted by Tom Breneman which aired in the mornings at a restaurant he owned in Hollywood.
It was located on Vine Street off Sunset Boulevard.  Seeing as how this restaurant was built because of the success of his radio show and that a movie was made with his radio show as the central setting, I'm guessing that it was a pretty popular show.
At any rate, the first quarter of the movie takes place for the most part (after introducing us to our main characters as they prepare themselves to see the show), during the Breakfast in Hollywood morning telecast. In many ways the telecast is one of the most interesting things about this film as it shows a sort of time capsule into radio shows of that day and provides some pretty good talent as well as laughs.  I've heard the name Spike Jones often, but can't remember having seen him perform before.  Another performer on the show, Andy Russell, was someone that I wasn't familiar with, but later learned was quite popular at the time.  He would go on to replace Frank Sinatra on Your Hit Parade.  And of course, there is no need to explain who Nat King Cole is, although in this movie he is referred to simply as King Cole.  Much of the show is an interaction between host Breneman and his audience and it is through this method that we see Hedda Hopper as well as the mothers of Gary Cooper and Joan Crawford.  It is also how all of the main characters in the show become aware of one another.
Bonita Granville plays Dorothy Lawson, a young girl who has travelled by bus from Minnesota to meet up with her fiance who is in the Navy and has failed to show up at the depot.  A woman that is from the U.S,O. gives her a ticket to the show to pass the time until she can get her on a bus back to Minnesota. She is the main character of the movie and the story between her and another sailor (not her fiance) turns out to be the actual main plot of the movie.
Edward Ryan plays Ken Smith, the other sailor.  He is given a ride into Hollywood by Breneman who also gives him a ticket to his show.  Until the show begins, Smith has no idea that he is Breneman.  It is at the show that he meets Dorothy, and while talking to her when paired together by Breneman, realizes that her fiance is one of his shipmates and that he is already married. 
Beulah Bondi, who must have started playing a senior citizen when she was in her twenties, judging from the wide range of films she made in that type of role and the whole  gamut of decades in which she played them in, plays one in this film as well.  She is 82 year old  Mrs. Annie Reed and has been thrown into the mix to assist as a matchmaker to our young couple.  Her role is perhaps one of the best of the entire movie as you feel humor, sympathy and compassion for her character.  Bondi seems to never disappoint as a supporting character.
Zasu Pitts is Elvira Spriggens and seems to be in the film as nothing more than comic relief.  She has spent months working on an ugly hat that will get her chosen to appear on the radio show, almost getting chosen, but who is upstaged by Hedda Hopper, notorious for her collection of outrageous head gear.
Finally, we have Billie Burke, most famous as Glinda, the good witch in The Wizard of Oz, this time cast as Mrs Francis Cartwright, who is married to the seemingly womanizing Richard Cartwright (Raymond Walburn).  I have no idea why they are in the picture, but their plot involves Burke winning some beauty products at the show and the transformation that takes place and Walburn once again being attracted to her.  Walburn incidentally, runs into Bondi on his way to see his mistress and this sets off an entire comedy of circumstances that go on throughout the movie.  Not to worry, Bondi's character is not severely injured.
The rest of this  movie is up to you.  Maybe it was original at the time, but this is one that somehow seems to stall in the middle, about the time that Smith reveals to Lawson that her fiance is already married.  Of course it didn't help matters that he told her right after sneaking a kiss in a photo booth and expressing his feelings for her, which she rejects.
I could reveal more, but if you know how the rest goes it would make this film seem just that much longer.  Incidentally, you can watch this film online even if you don't have Amazon Prime. It is free at Archive.Org.  Or, you can watch it below:

 My recommendation:  Watch the beginning of this movie through the radio broadcast and then decide for yourself if you want to see more. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fashion Model (1945)

Director:  William Beaudine

Starring:  Robert Lowery, Marjorie Weaver, and Tim Ryan

Produced by:  Monogram Pictures

For those of you who are not familiar with Monogram Pictures, they were a Hollywood Studio that produced low budget films between 1931 and 1953, after which they became Allied Artist Pictures Corporation.  Of the film studios out of what was known in Hollywood as Poverty Row, they were one of the most prolific of the B film studios.

As most of you realize, a B film has lower costs and as a result, lower production values.  Over the last month, I've watched many films on Netflix and Amazon Prime that were released by Monogram, and needless to say, many of them were underwhelming.  One thing I did like about almost all of them is that they were all right around 60 minutes in length, thereby not wasting too much of my time. 

Fashion Model is one of those films that glides past the norm and turns out to be a pretty enjoyable comedy-murder mystery that does all it needs to in just one hour.  A lot of films back in those days were short for theaters that ran double and triple features.

Robert Lowery plays Jimmy O'Brien, a clumsy stock boy at Celeste clothing store.  Marjorie Weaver, who at the time was nearing the end of her career, but was still fairly young and gorgeous plays his girlfriend, Peggy Rooney, who works at the same store as Jimmy as one of their fashion models.

When one of the models turns up dead,  Jimmy is the first suspect since he discoverd her body in the packaging room and everything he clumsily says seems to indict him.  After Peggy pleads with the police, Jimmy and Peggy decide that they must solve the murder in order to prove his innocence.

Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Lightning strikes again when the owner of the store turns up dead in the back of a delivery truck that Jimmy and Peggy are in, and is discovered by an officer who pulls them over for an unlatched rear door.  Jimmy helps Peggy escape from the policeman but himself is arrested.  With Jimmy accused of murder, and Peggy named as an escaped accomplice, it becomes Peggy's intention to help Jimmy escape from jail, which she does.

And so it goes, with Jimmy and Peggy constantly eluding police, another murder, and a hilarious scene that takes place in a window at Celeste with the couple and a nearsighted, somewhat tipsy, window dresser.

It all ends, as these kinds of films usually do, with the capture of the killer (not whom I suspected) and Jimmy and Peggy marching off into the sunset.

There is also a plot involving a lost and found broach that only adds to the confusion and hilarity.

Many of you will find this film antiquated and predictable.  However, thinking back to 1945, I'm sure it was a pleasant diversion on a hot summer evening or perhaps at an afternoon matinee.

Not a blockbuster, but definitely an enjoyable piece of fluff that only takes a little of your time.  This film is currently streaming on Netflix.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back From The Dead

After taking more than a year off from posting, I am back.  For those who would visit my page and wonder why I disappeared from blogger without an explanation, I apologize.  The initial reason for my disappearance was the death of my computer and it really wasn't until December that I had one that was reliable. 

So, why wasn't I back nine months ago when I had a new computer?   The main reason, besides a lack of initiative, is that because of diabetes, I suffer from neuropathy in my hands and fingers which causes numbness and a tingling which makes it extremely difficult to type in the manner I was used to.  I didn't feel like I wanted to take the time to do something that I used to be able to do five times faster.

Another reason for not posting was that near the end of my last posts I was doing nothing more than posting information that you could find practically anywhere else, and sooner at that.  Most of the posts were nothing but movie trailers that were widely available everywhere, as you can tell by my very last post about MI: 4.  I figured if I was going to spend the time to make new posts, I would have to go in a different direction.

Lately, thanks to Netflix streaming and Amazon Prime streaming, I think I have found where I want this blog to go.   Both of them have a treasure trove of old, inobscure movies that have either been forgotten or never well known in the first place.  I'm not talking about just camp classics that have been rehashed by Elvira and Mystery Science Theater or your local late night horror host.

These will be reviews of all different movie genres from the 30's through the 70's and will be films that I hope readers will have an interest in and will take the time to check them out.

That being said, I hope you will visit in the near future for my first review.  Thanks for your loyalty in the past and I hope you will join me again.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

MI 4: Ghost Protocol Trailer. Watch It Here.

Last night I finally watched Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in "Knight and Day" on HBO since they were having a free preview.  I thought that the movie was better than most critics gave it credit for.  But, the one thing it left me desiring most was watching Cruise in a new Mission Impossible movie.  Well, lo and behold the first trailer for the newest film of the IMF has just been released and this one looks like their toughest mission yet.

It seems that Ghost Protocol are code words where the government disavows any knowledge of the entire Impossible Mission Force and that they are then labeled as rogue terrorists.  Without giving too much more info away, I'll just tell you to watch the video to see what is going to happen.  A really well done trailer.

Along with Cruise, MI-4 also stars Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, and Paula Patton. Expect to see it in theaters during the Yuletide season on December 16, 2011. Here's hoping that it does well after the last one was a box office disappointment for Paramount, resulting in Cruise's relationship with the studio going south.

If you are interested in watching the original television series which starred Peter Graves, Martin Landau, and even Leonard Nimoy, you can order the complete series at by clicking on the below link:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Oh, You Gotta' Cut Loose! Watch The Trailer For Footloose!

Coming in October is the remake of the film that made Kevin Bacon a star.  Released in 1984 the original also starred Lori Singer.  Of course I'm talking about Footloose, the story of a city that bans dancing.

This latest remake stars Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough.  Hough was a former dancer on Dancing With The Stars, and Wormald has appeared in such films as Clerks II and You Got Served.

If you haven't seen the original, here's a quick plot primer: Kenny's character Ren moves from Boston to Bomont—a small Southern town where boogieing has been banned after a post-dance car crash claimed the lives of five local teens. But as Britney Spears says, you gotta keep dancing till the world ends. So Ren, with the help of love interest Ariel (played by Julianne), decides to fight the rule—taking on Ariel's preacher father in the process.

The trailer has been released at MTV, but you can watch it here.


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