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The Women (1939) Review


Excellent
Although one could have fun imagining a film in which Rosalind Russell and Joan Crawford are simply tossed into a tiger cage and fight to the death, the 1939 film The Women will do just fine in its stead. Adapted from the hit stage play by Clare Booth Luce, it's a gabby, urbane comedy that takes a (for its time, especially) steadfast look at adultery, divorce, and why men court idiocy with such abandon. It also takes its title quite seriously, with not a single male appearing onscreen.

The film is powered by a can't-miss trio of top-line actresses, all playing to their strengths. Norma Shearer is the gentle and naïve Mary Haines, whose husband Stephen has been stepping out on her with Crystal Allen (Crawford, at 35 maybe a little long in the tooth to play a perfume counter girl, but you try telling her that...), a fact that is known to everybody in New York save Mary due to the gossipy efforts of Sylvia Fowler (Russell, firing on all bitchy cylinders). It's a slow build-up to Mary's discovery of the truth, with an intricate elaboration of the social circle she runs in and the backstabbing that it's rife with - her purported friends making absolutely sure that not only does she find out the awful truth, but that they're there to witness her reaction.

Continue reading: The Women (1939) Review

Shadow Of The Thin Man Review


Good
In this fourth installment of The Thin Man, we find our heroes now with a growing Nick Jr. (who has to be kept on a leash), and somewhat less drunk than in previous installments. I suppose this would make them unfit parents, no? The story is generally fun (though, in keeping with other episodes, difficult to follow or fathom), about a murdered jockey and the machinations in ferreting out the killer. Unfortunately, the Charleses are off-cmera for much too long for my tastes, and when they are on camera, they're sober. Crikey!

The Great Ziegfeld Review


Weak
Here's a textbook case of how a film can lose its appeal over the years.

Florenz Ziegfeld (played by William Powell) was a real man responsible for creating Broadway as we know it. The three-hour opus traces nearly his entire life. He began by producing carnival-class shows, low-rent vaudeville acts designed to appeal to the common man -- wrestling, animal acts, and the like. Bored with philistine work, Ziegfeld raised lots of money to build a big show, starting with Broadway's Follies and culminating in the production of the classic Show Boat. Along the way, Ziegfeld loses everything more than once, owing to his addiction to gambling, but he always fights his way back to the top.

Continue reading: The Great Ziegfeld Review

After The Thin Man Review


Very Good
Possibly a bit better than the original Thin Man, aided by an even drier script and the appearance of James Stewart (though in a bit of a strange role). It's more hijinks for Nick and Nora this time around, as they return home to San Francisco and get caught up in a murder mystery, which even lands Nora in the pokey. Cute, though like its predecessor, more than a little dated.

Another Thin Man Review


Good
The third Thin Man movie finds the series struggling a bit as it searches for new ideas, while also taking a rather mean turn of events. For starters, Asta now has a sibling -- a (human) baby -- to distract the Charleses. But never mind the kid, the couple (trio) has a new mystery to deal with: A military colonel who's being threatened by a just-outta-prison man from his past is sure he's going to be killed. 20 minutes later, he is killed. Whodunnit? Well, our obvious suspect may just be a bit too obvious, if you know what I mean.

Unfortunately, the mystery here is random and a bit obtuse, and the jokes just aren't as funny with all the ultra-dark goings on.

Continue reading: Another Thin Man Review

The Women Review


Excellent
Although one could have fun imagining a film in which Rosalind Russell and Joan Crawford are simply tossed into a tiger cage and fight to the death, the 1939 film The Women will do just fine in its stead. Adapted from the hit stage play by Clare Booth Luce, it's a gabby, urbane comedy that takes a (for its time, especially) steadfast look at adultery, divorce, and why men court idiocy with such abandon. It also takes its title quite seriously, with not a single male appearing onscreen.

The film is powered by a can't-miss trio of top-line actresses, all playing to their strengths. Norma Shearer is the gentle and naïve Mary Haines, whose husband Stephen has been stepping out on her with Crystal Allen (Crawford, at 35 maybe a little long in the tooth to play a perfume counter girl, but you try telling her that...), a fact that is known to everybody in New York save Mary due to the gossipy efforts of Sylvia Fowler (Russell, firing on all bitchy cylinders). It's a slow build-up to Mary's discovery of the truth, with an intricate elaboration of the social circle she runs in and the backstabbing that it's rife with - her purported friends making absolutely sure that not only does she find out the awful truth, but that they're there to witness her reaction.

Continue reading: The Women Review

The Thin Man Review


Good
You can save yourself the trouble of sending me hate mail, I already know what you're gonna say. The Thin Man, produced way back in 1934, just isn't that funny any more. The jokes are worn to the bone, the plot setup has been reworked into oblivion, and frankly the acting is spotty in parts. Still, William Powell and Myrna Loy have good chemistry -- and even better body language -- throughout this watershed crime story cum slapstick comedy. (He's a former P.I., she's a society maven, together they solve murders, and they have a dog.) You can see how this would be funny, but, like fine wine, even classic movies start to fade over time. Not that it isn't still without some of its old merits, of course.
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Hunt Stromberg Movies

The Great Ziegfeld Movie Review

The Great Ziegfeld Movie Review

Here's a textbook case of how a film can lose its appeal over the years.Florenz...

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The Women Movie Review

The Women Movie Review

Although one could have fun imagining a film in which Rosalind Russell and Joan Crawford...

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