Yolanda and the Thief (1945, Directed by Vincente Minnelli) English 7

Starring Fred Astaire, Lucille Bremer, Frank Morgan, Leon Ames, Mildred Natwick, Mary Nash

Yolanda and the Thief: An Out of the World Place | Bright Wall ...

(7-Very Good Film)

Lofty. Peculiar. Beguiling.

Yolanda Aquaviva: Mr. Brown doesn’t dance… except, perhaps, on the head of a pin.

Yolanda and the Thief, I gather, was not a success. Astaire retired for a period after and its leading lady, Lucille Bremer, hardly ever worked again. The critics sneered and modern opinion hasn’t exactly warmed to it. As it stands, I think Yolanda and the Thief will have to settle for being a niche picture; a film made for a very select group of people, and if that group doesn’t exist yet, I’ll start it, because this is a film that’s at least as special as it is flawed. Astaire plays the thief, Johnny (some people, evidently, didn’t like the idea of dapper, refined Astaire as a thief) and Bremer plays Yolanda, a young woman raised in a convent who’s suddenly inherited a vast fortune. Several con artists set their sights on her but Johnny’s got the perfect con cooking. Overhearing her prayer for a guardian angel, he poses as one, convincing her to sign over the power of attorney and all of her wealth right along with it. The trick, of course, for Johnny is getting the money and running before he falls for the mark. Set in some imagined Latin-American country, but designed on a Hollywood backlot, Yolanda and the Thief is a gorgeous fantasy with an unforgettable detour by way of a mid-movie dream sequence. In fact, it has a kind of dream-like, illusory quality all over that I enjoy very much. Bremer’s performance is heavily criticized and not without reason, but I, for one, find her artificial, syrupy performance at home with the aesthetics and tone of the picture.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(973)

Guys and Dolls (1955, Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz) English 7

Starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra, Viviane Blaine, Stubby Kaye, Robert Keith, B.S Pully

The Ace Black Blog: Movie Review: Guys And Dolls (1955)

(7-Very Good Film)

Snappy. Colorful. Brash.

Sky Masterson: I am not putting the knock on dolls. It’s just that they are something to have around only when they come in handy… like cough drops.

The good girl falling for the bad guy and then vice versa isn’t a unique concept. It wasn’t a unique concept in 1955 when this film was made, or in 1950 when Guys and Dolls premiered as a Broadway musical. I doubt it was a unique concept in the 1930s when Damon Runyan wrote a pair of short stories that inspired the show. The point is “good girl and bad guy” seems to be an endless source of escapism and, perhaps, wish fulfillment. Guys and Dolls has a lot of fun with it. Sky Masterson (Brando) is a big-time gambler. His newest wager is that he can woo any girl- of Nathan Detroit’s choosing-to go to Havana, Cuba with him. Detroit (Sinatra), a fellow gambler in need of $1,000 quick, chooses prim, proper Sister Sarah Brown (Simmons), a local missionary, to win his bet for him. Sinatra is a natural in his part, turning every song he sings into a great one, and there are great songs all around. Brando is less natural in his role, mainly because of the singing that’s required, but the film doesn’t lose any points from me on that score. Brando is a movie star for the ages; one of the best. Seeing him in a role so far afield his usual dramatic fare is a pleasure, and I feel he and Jean Simmons do work in their roles. The dialogue is as fine as the music.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(972)

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944, Directed by Vincente Minnelli) English 8

Starring Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, Mary Astor, Leon Ames, Lucille Bremer, Tom Drake, Harry Davenport, Marjorie Main, Hugh Marlowe, June Lockhart

Meet Me in St. Louis” is always as cool as a cucumber | Cinefilia ...

(8-Exceptional Film)

Endearing. Picturesque. Classic.

Esther Smith: I can’t believe it. Right here where we live – right here in St. Louis.

Like the March sisters of Little Women, the Smiths of Meet Me in St. Louis are a family to cherish. Made up of four daughters-led by Esther (Garland), the second oldest-a son, a loving mother (Astor), a stubborn but caring father (Ames), a spirited grandfather (Davenport), and a sassy maid (Main), the film follows the Smith family through one eventful year in their lives leading up to the famed World’s Fair of 1904. Everything about Meet Me in St. Louis inspires affection. The characters are wonderful. Garland is a star. The production, from the sets to the costumes to the vibrant technicolor, is astounding, and the music is timeless.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(961)

Dil Chahta Hai (2001, Directed by Farhan Akhtar) Hindi 8

Starring Aamir Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Dimple Kapadia, Preity Zinta, Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Kulkarni

Flashback Friday: Dil Chahta Hai

(8-Exceptional Film)

Compelling. Attractive. Intimate.

Akash Malhotra: Dad, there is more to life than just signing checks.

Akash’s father: Really… What is that?

I don’t know of many films (or novels, for that matter) that focus on typical males in their twenties. Dil Chahta Hai stars Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, and Akshaye Khanna as best friends Akash, Sameer, and Sid; three adult university students trying to find their direction in life as they fall into complicated relationships. Carefree Akash falls in love with a girl, Shalini (Zinta), engaged to a rich jerk, Sameer discovers he has feelings for the woman, Pooja (Kulkarni), his parents tried to set him up with, and Sid, worst of all, becomes infatuated with a troubled older woman, Tara (Kapadia). Great music, a fresh look at modern India (despite this being nearly 20 years old), and engaging romance make this a classic. I’d rank it with Barry Levinson’s Diner (1982) as the best film about twenty-somethings.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(947)

Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000, Directed by Aziz Mirza) Hindi 5

Starring Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla, Paresh Rawal, Johnny Lever, Atul Parchure, Sanjay Mishra, Sharat Saxena

Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani' failure made me stronger: SRK | Catch ...

(5-Okay Film)

Disappointing. Overwrought. Mediocre.

Tagline: Love, laughter, and freedom.

Reteaming him with director, Aziz Mirza, and costar, Juhi Chawla, Shah Rukh Khan claimed that this film was the biggest failure of their careers. I don’t know just what he meant or why he feels that way. The film was a modest commercial success and fared reasonably well critically, but there’s no question that it is disappointing. With its high pedigree and its strong premise, borrowed partially from classics like His Girl Friday, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani should be much better. Khan and Chawla star as rival t.v reporters competing for ratings as they slowly fall for one another. Meanwhile, a huge story develops involving corrupt politicians, revenge, and a local assassination. The film simply attempts too many tones to successfully deliver on any of them. Most Bollywood films alternate between tones frequently but it’s too jarring here. There’s a subplot wherein a father kills the man who raped his daughter and there are goofy scenes like the one in which Khan fends off past girlfriends who want to get back together. It just doesn’t work. By the end, all ideas of fun have completely left the picture and what’s left is overwrought. Too many tearful closeups.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(940)

Robin Hood (1973, Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman) English 6

Voices of Brian Bedford, Peter Ustinov, Monica Evans, Phil Harris, Roger Miller, Andy Devine, Terry-Thomas, Pat Buttram, Carole Shelley, John Fiedler

Robin Hood Disney Live-Action From Blindspotting Director

(6-Good Film)

Charming. Nostalgic. Insubstantial.

Marian: Oh, Robin, you’re so brave and impetuous.

Disney’s version of Robin Hood may boast the greatest collection of voices ever assembled for one film. Forget that it mixes English and American accents and just appreciate the great distinctive voice acting from Pat Buttram as the Sheriff of Nottingham to Terry-Thomas as Sir Hiss, all the way down to John Fiedler as a church mouse. Top marks, however, go to Peter Ustinov who voices Prince John and makes him one of the funniest characters Disney has ever produced. The rest of the film is mostly unspectacular. The folk-music is a nice touch, memorable and sweet, and the character design is A-1, but the backgrounds are lusterless; undefined. The story is serviceable but prone to bouts of extended action sequences that are pretty dull.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(927)

3 Idiots (2009, Directed by Rajkumar Hirani) Hindi 5

Starring Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, R. Madhavan, Sharman Joshi, Boman Irani, Omi Vaidya, Mona Singh

3 Idiots Locations - Movies Locations

(5-Okay Film)

Fun. Silly. Emotional.

Rancho: Pursue excellence, and success will follow, pants down.

Insanely popular, 3 Idiots, to me, is a very strange epic. Alternating between tones frequently, as is common in Bollywood movies, I found the mood swings to be a bit jarring. In any case, a number of films, when they want to highlight the extraordinariness of a lead character, will use a more “average” character to be our point of view. We see Sherlock Holmes through Doctor Watson’s eyes or Andy Dufresne through Red’s eyes, for example. 3 Idiots introduces us to Rancho (Khan) through the eyes of his classmates, Farhan (Madhavan) and Raju (Joshi). They attend the highly competitive Imperial College of Engineering and when Rancho makes an enemy of the Dean by challenging tradition and the way the school puts pressure on its students, Farhan and Raju are forced to decide who to follow, Rancho or the Dean. The soundtrack is infectious and the three leads make a merry trio of friends. There are also a couple of good surprises along the way. The romance is less compelling, however, and overall, despite being one of his biggest hits, 3 Idiots isn’t as strong as some of Khan’s other star-vehicles; Dangal or Lagaan being my favorite.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(923)

Pot O’ Gold (1941, Directed by George Marshall) English 6

Starring James Stewart, Paulette Goddard, Horace Heidt, Charles Winninger, Mary Gordon, Art Carney

James Stewart stars in Pot O' Gold (1941)

(6-Good Film)

Slight. Simple. Likable.

Molly McCorkle: You’ve heard of the Hatfields and the McCoys?

Hames Hamilton ‘Jimmy’ Haskell: Yeah.

Molly McCorkle: Well this is a fight between the Haskells and the McCorkles.

Jimmy Haskell (Stewart) is head over heels for Molly McCorkle (Goddard) but their families are feuding, or really, Jimmy’s wealthy uncle, C.J Haskell (Winninger), is feuding with the entire McCorkle clan. However, Molly doesn’t know that Jimmy is a Haskell and he’s not that keen on telling her. He keeps it a secret for as long as he can while getting to know the rowdy, musically-gifted McCorkle family. Very simple set-up for a romantic comedy done with likable leads, Pot O’ Gold is more memorable as an odd musical. The characters don’t break out into song like in your classic MGM musicals but music fills this movie. James Stewart even gets into the act which is really strange.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(918)

Margie (1946, Directed by Henry King) English 6

Starring Jeanne Crain, Glenn Langan, Lynn Bari, Alan Young, Barbara Lawrence, Conrad Janis, Hattie McDaniel

The Final Cinema: 1946 at 24fps

(6-Good Film)

Compelling. Innocent. Sweet.

Professor Fontayne: I was just looking for Keats. Do you like Keats?

Margie: I don’t know, sir. What are keats?

As Margie (Crain) sits in her attic sifting through old memorabilia with her teenage daughter, she seems to have it all together, but it wasn’t always this way. She tells her daughter the story of her time in high school when she was an awkward, insecure girl and struggling with her feelings for three men/ potential suitors. There’s the cool boy in school, Johnny (Janis), her loyal friend, Roy (Young), and the handsome new teacher all the girls in school fawn over, Professor Fontayne (Langan). Perhaps the inspiration for Ryan Reynolds’ Definitely, Maybe,  Margie manages to build a light suspense over who the heroine will end up with. It’s very syrupy and old-fashioned but I believe most people including myself enjoy that in older films.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(917)

Happy Go Lovely (1951, Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone) English 6

Starring Vera-Ellen, David Niven, Cesar Romero, Bobby Howes, Diane Hart, Gordon Jackson, Barbara Couper

Happy Go Lovely - Film | Park Circus

(6-Good Film)

Light. Modest. Enjoyable.

Phyllis Gardiner: No money, no opening date, no system… Chaos, chaos, chaos!

B.G Bruno (Niven) is the richest man in town. He might be the richest man in all of Scotland. When struggling chorus girl, Janet Jones (Vera-Ellen), is mistakenly thought to be the recluse’s girl, she starts getting all kinds of favors including being made the star of an upcoming show. She decides not to set the record straight. Bruno, hearing the rumors of him and some chorus girl, goes to the dance hall to investigate and is mistaken by Janet for a newspaperman. Instantly smitten with her, Bruno decides not to set the record straight. This is the old comedy of misunderstandings model that Astaire and Rogers’ films always employed. It’s used well here and though there isn’t much in terms of drama, Happy Go Lovely is a satisfying romantic trifle with Niven’s effortless charm.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(915)