Monday, October 5, 2009

Three Talkies + a Silent = Busy Movie Weekend

This is a long one, so get something to drink and have a seat. Comfortable? Then let's start!

Just Imagine (1930)



Numbers instead of names, flying personal aircraft, babies from vending machines - a glimpse of the future, due to us in the year...1980! The quintessential paleofuture film, this movie features El Brendel as a confused and very funny transplant from 1930, trying to make sense of his new surroundings. This is Amy Jeanne's favorite movie, so I was a little disappointed when I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped. The musical numbers were cute, but they slowed the pace of the picture for me. The deco sets and humorously inaccurate depictions of 1980 are glorious however - and more than enough reason to give this film a try.

I give this one:




Mata Hari (1931)



Oy. I vant to be ahlone after watching this film, if only to purge it from my memory. It stars Greta Garbo as the exotic dancer cum spy, and Ramon Novarro as her earnest and tragic love interest. The picture plods along, with stilted dialog and a strange chemistry between the two leads; Garbo is her usual languid self, and Novarro plays a (Spanish-accented) Russian pilot with his typical boyish verve. As an aside, the film contains little if any historical accuracy. I couldn't wait for this one to be over.

I give this one:




Torch Singer (1933)



"Give me Liberty or give me Love..."

So warbles the notorious Mimi Barton, played with pain and beauty by Claudette Colbert. She is a fallen woman, having attempted the straight and narrow, only to give birth to a daughter she must abandon. During her champagne-soaked slide to the bottom, an unexpected opportunity may enable her to reclaim the life she had lost. Your heart aches for Colbert; her emotions are raw, real, and difficult at times to watch. Both Lyda Roberti and Mildred Washington sparkle in minor but memorable roles. Keep your eye out for Toby Wing at the house party!
A very enjoyable picture - and Colbert does her own singing, as well.

I give this one:




Mantrap (1926)



Ernest Torrence and Clara Bow sounds like a romantic pairing that could only come up over too much vodka. However, throw in Percy Marmont and a crazy plot involving vacationing bigshots, rural Canadian trappers, and a perky manicurist who can't decide between the two, and you wind up with a very cute little picture! The vast majority of it is thanks to Clara. Her expressions...I could write for hours on how animated those eyes are. Dialogue is completely unnecessary when she is on screen. Torrence does a great job in a comedic role, and Marmont plays the flabbergasted business bigwig quite dryly. But the best way to enjoy this movie is to throw out the plot and just focus on Clara's beautiful, wonderful face. She is on the cusp of superstardom in this film and it is more than evident.

I give this one:

2 comments:

Elsie said...

Mata Hari WAS pretty boring, as were some of her other disposable talkies like Susan Lenox. But she always looked wonderful, even if the movie itself didn't!

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