Monday, June 30, 2014

Weimar Romance

Film: Three Comrades
Format: Turner Classic Movies on rockin’ flatscreen.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not usually at a loss for words. It does happen, though, especially when I am presented with a movie that I frankly don’t understand. Oh, I get the plot of Three Comrades just fine. What I don’t get with this film is the point of it, nor do I understand for a second the incredibly stupid ending. In retrospect, I was probably way too nice to this on Letterboxd. Anyway, Three Comrades takes place in those years just following World War I. Just as it would seem that Germany didn’t know what it wanted to be in those years, neither does this film.

We start with the close of the war. A gang of three friends have survived and decide to go into business together with the premise that the country will need mechanics in these years. The three are Erich (Robert Taylor), Gottfried (Robert Young), and Otto (Franchot Tone). One evening, on the event of one of the three’s birthday, they go out for a drive in the country and end up racing another car. This is how the three meet Patricia (Margaret Sullavan).

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Deux for the Price of Un

Film: The French Lieutenant’s Woman
Format: DVD from Northern Illinois University Founders Memorial Library on laptop.

The concept of a story within a story, a play within a play, or a movie within a movie is hardly a new one. Typically when something like this happens, the conceit is that the “real world” story mirrors the inner story in some significant way. That’s absolutely the case with The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Here, the surface story is about the making of a film about a Victorian romance. And, naturally, the story of that film within the film very much has parallels in a relationship in the real world.

This actually isn’t that difficult, but it’s tough to explain. I’ll do my best. In the film within the film, a Victorian scientist named Charles Henry Smithson (Jeremy Irons) has proposed marriage to a proper woman of some substance named Ernestina (Lynsey Baxter). Ernestina is the epitome of what a Victorian woman should be, and the romance appears to be pure in all ways that we expect the almost Puritanical Victorian romance ideal should be. Soon after the proposal, Charles becomes aware of Sarah (Maryl Streep), a woman who is the subject of many unsavory rumors in the area. Sarah is called “the French Lieutenant’s Woman” because of a very public affair with a French soldier. Of course, Charles becomes infatuated with sarah, and as the story progresses, the two slowly fall in love with each other despite the social differences and the social suicide that even spending time with a woman considered all but a whore is for Charles.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

O Canada

Film: 49th Parallel
Format: DVD from NetFlix on laptop.

I find propaganda films an interesting sub-genre of film. 49th Parallel is unquestionably a propaganda film, and absolutely one that is specifically geared toward American audiences specifically as a way to drum up support for the war. Unlike many a later film that humanizes the average German soldier, the bulk of the Germans in this film, particularly the lead German, is portrayed as an inhuman monster. Such is the nature of propaganda, after all.

The premise is an interesting one. In the early days of the war, a German submarine approaches the Canadian coast. A group of six men from the submarine go ashore as a raiding party. Just as they come ashore, a squadron of Canadian planes spots the sub and bombs it, sinking it, stranding the half dozen sailors in the middle of nowhere in the Canadian wilderness. They resolve to get to the American border and find a German embassy, since at the time, America was still a neutral country.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Be Careful What You Wish For

Film: Room at the Top
Format: Streaming video from Hulu+ on laptop.

Say the word “romance” in the context of a movie and certain things immediately come to mind, don’t they? What you don’t expect is something harsh and brutal and aimed specifically at depressing the audience. I had this exact experience when I watched A Place in the Sun, which has the downbeat ending to end all. Room at the Top heads in the same direction. It doesn’t go all the way there, but it comes pretty close.

Joe Lampton (Laurence Harvey) has arrived in the town of Warnley as a result of getting a new job in the local government office. The job is solid and safe, but low paying. Joe meets up with coworker Charles Soames (Donald Houston) to help get settled into his new town. Joe comments that what he really wants is one of the big houses up on the hill. He wants everything that comes with it as well, and sets about with a will to get it. The target of that is young Susan Brown (Heather Sears), the daughter of one of the local wealthy industrialists. To get to know her bette,r Joe becomes a member of the local thespians, since Susan likes to act a bit as well.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Finishing Best Picture...Again

Film: 12 Years a Slave
Format: DVD from Northern Illinois University Founders Memorial Library on laptop.

There wasn’t a great deal of surprise in 12 Years a Slave. I pretty much figured it would be like watching a much shorter version of Roots, and I was right in the main. I can’t honestly imagine how someone might make a positive film about slavery and I’m sure I wouldn’t want to see someone try. There’s a part of me that wonders what the point of a film like 12 Years a Slave is. As soon as I have that thought, though, I remember that stories like this are important. We need to be reminded of our past.

The title of this says it all, of course. We’re going to witness the life of a man who was sold into slavery and lived it for 12 years. The man in question is Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free man living in upstate New York. He is a talented violinist and is contacted by a couple of men who wish for him to come to Washington to accompany their circus. Of course, it’s a ruse. The men kidnap him and pass him off as an escaped slave named Platt. He is first purchased by a “good” master named William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch). All is not peaches and cream, though. It’s immediately evident that Platt/Northup is an educated man, which brings him into direct conflict with Ford’s overseer, John Tibeats (Paul Dano). This conflict escalates to the point where Ford is forced to sell Northup to a man named Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender).

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Wakey Wakey

Film: Awakenings
Format: DVD from NetFlix on laptop.

Of all the actors I have encountered in this massive project, none is so frustrating as Robin Williams. When Williams is reined in by a strong director and force to stay on task, he is capable of both brilliant and affecting performances. When left to his own devices, he is embarrassing. Fortunately for us, Awakenings was directed by Penny Marshall, who has the chops to keep Williams under control, which means we’re in for one of his better and more affecting performances. The other bonus here is that we get Robert De Niro in the sort of role that seems out of character for him.

Awakenings is based on the real experience of Dr. Oliver Sacks in working with patients who had been catatonic for years after surviving encephalitis. Here, Sacks is fictionalized as Dr. Malcolm Sayer (Robin Williams), who takes a job in a psychiatric hospital after working exclusively as a researcher and laboratory doctor. Sayer is uncomfortable around people and patients, and almost for this reason becomes fascinated with this collection of patients who are, essentially human statues.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Spy Hard(ly)

Film: Julia
Format: Streaming video from NetFlix on rockin’ flatscreen.

It’s interesting to go into a movie cold. There are plenty of films I haven’t seen on my Oscar lists that I already have something of an opinion on simply due to reputation. When I mentioned Sling Blade a couple of weeks ago as a film I haven’t seen, I got multiple replies telling me I need to see it right away. It’s hard not to have that color my opinion one way or another. With Julia, I knew nothing beyond the title and that it had been nominated for a ton of Oscars.

What it is is a sort of pseudo-biography not of Lillian Hellman (Jane Fonda), but of her childhood friend. However, the life of this friend, the titular Julia (Vanessa Redgrave), is seen only in pieces separated by a number of years. I have no idea how close to factual this is, and no idea if Julia actually existed as a person. I suppose that ultimately it doesn’t matter if this is pure fiction or letter perfect with history. What does matter is the film itself.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived

Film: The Private Life of Henry VIII
Format: Streaming video from Hulu+ on rockin’ flatscreen.

One of the problems with watching movies off a list (or multiple lists, as is the case here) is locating the films. There are all sorts of places, of course, and with a Roku and enough time running through the various free channels, one can find quite a bit. In terms of pay services, we’ve had a Hulu account for ages, and we almost never use it. My wife has agreed that we should dump it at the end of July, which means that anything on that site that I need to watch needs to get watched. Thus it is that I watched The Private Life of Henry VIII today during a break from grading papers.

Evidently the original plan of the film was to focus on the relationship between Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves, but it eventually expanded to include five of Henry’s wives. We pick up the story well after Henry (Charles Laughton) has divorced Catherine of Aragon and is on the verge having Anne Boleyn (Merle Oberon) sent to the headsman. The plan is that the minute Anne’s head hits the basket, Henry will marry Jane Seymour (Wendy Barrie).

Thursday, June 19, 2014

American Miniver

Film: Since You Went Away
Format: DVD from NetFlix on laptop.

When you set up a NetFlix queue with the “very long wait” films at the top, there are benefits and problems that ensue. The benefit is that if you have a lot of films of that designation (as I do), you’re pretty much bound to get one of them every time you get a film. The downside is considerable, though—you really never know what you’re going to get. Might be the first movie on the list, might be the sixth one. So it was a bit distressing that in the last week of a quarter when I have a ton of papers to grade that Since You Went Away showed up. Oh, this isn’t a hard watch; it’s just close to three hours long. “Didn’t you just watch War and Peace?” I hear you ask. Yes. Yes I did. I also didn’t have papers turned in at the time, and I do now.

Since You Went Away is an American propaganda film, circa World War II. It’s obviously this and doesn’t try to hide it for a second. American films about the home front are vastly different from British ones. British films are filled with bombing raids and a burning London. American films are filled with scrap drives, men home on leave, and talk of sacrifice. While this is unquestionably a war film, there’s not a shot fired nor a bomb dropped for us to see. Rather, this is the war from the perspective of an interested family of spectators, essentially. This isn’t to say that their lives aren’t affected, but we won’t be seeing any military conflict here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Secret Ingredient

Film: Kung Fu Panda
Format: DVD from personal collection on laptop.

Movies made for children are their own thing. It’s easy to make a bad one, even a bad one that kids will enjoy. To make a really good movie for children requires more than just entertaining the kiddies. No, a really good movie for children needs to give something to the parents as well. A good message helps, too. I will admit that when I first approached Kung Fu Panda the first time I watched it, I had my doubts. But, you can’t judge a book by its cover or an animated film by its voiceover talent.

I say that because I can’t call myself a Jack Black fan. There are times when I like him. Those times are limited to when he’s given a part that suits his style and personality. High Fidelity is a good example of this. A lot of times, he leaves me pretty cold, though. But, as it turns out, Po the Panda seems to have been written with Jack Black in mind. In fact, I can’t think of someone else doing the role.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Epic Disappointment

Film: War and Peace (1956)
Format: DVD from DeKalb Public Library on laptop.

While the term “epic” in movie language tends to bring up films like Gone with the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, Ben-Hur and even modern films like Gladiator, in the literary world, “War and Peace” is king. This isn’t the case when it comes to the film version—any film version, for that matter. The film in question here is the 1956 version brought in far less than the studio would have liked. There are serious problems with this version of War and Peace, not the least of which is the length of just under three-and-a-half hours.

I’m not going to try to rehash the plot here. The story takes place in Russia during the Napoleonic era, which means old-school military with guys standing in ranks in bright-colored uniforms shooting at each other. It starts with Russia attempting to assist in Austria (or maybe it was Poland) and ends with Napoleon’s attempted invasion of Russia. In between , there’s some romance and a lot of dithering around. Suffice it to say that everyone in the world appears to be in love with Natasha Rostova (Audrey Hepburn) despite her evidently being about 16. Among those after her hand are her cousin Pierre Bezukhov (Henry Fonda), Bezukhov’s friend Prince Andrei Bolkonsky (Mel Ferrer) and a womanizing rogue named Anatol Kuragin (Vittorio Gassman). For her part, Natasha, being young and blindingly na├»ve, loves each of them in turn, because that’s the way a Russian epic rolls.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Nick's Pick: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Film: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Format: DVD from Johnsburg Public Library through interlibrary loan on laptop.

This is the sixth in a series of monthly reviews suggested by Nick Jobe at YourFace.

I know that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a favorite of Nick’s, so of all of the films on his list, this is the one that made me the most nervous. I also thought I should give Nick a chance to defend it. Here is the Instant Messenger conversation I had with Nick while watching and after watching Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

What's Next is Skipping This Film

Film: What Next, Corporal Hargrove?
Format: Turner Classic Movies on rockin’ flatscreen.

I’ve said before that these Oscar categories take me to some strange places. Few have been as strange as What Next, Corporal Hargrove?, a military comedy that appeared just at the end of World War II. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why this was nominated for Best Original Screenplay. It’s not nearly as funny as it thinks it is. It also doesn’t have any idea of what it wants to be, which is a significant problem.

In truth, there isn’t a great deal of plot here. We follow the exploits of Corporal Marion Hargrove (Robert Walker) and his scam-happy friend Private Tom Mulvehill (Keenan Wynn) as their artillery battery makes its way through France and toward Germany after D-Day. One of the recurring themes of the film is that Hargrove frequently gets promoted to corporal for competence and bravery and almost as quickly busted back to private for stupidity, incompetence, or bad luck. This is, again, supposed to be funny, but generally is not.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

God Bothering

Film: One Foot in Heaven
Format: Turner Classic Movies on rockin’ flatscreen.

Let’s get this out of the way right away; if you’re a fan of films that shoehorn religious nonsense into the story to make everyone ennobled and pious, you aren’t going to want to read further. One Foot in Heaven managed to wrangle a Best Picture nomination in 1941, meaning it competed against The Maltese Falcon and Citizen Kane. The only way it should be mentioned in the same sentence as those films is in the following sentence: “One Foot in Heaven is the sort of movie that should never be compared with The Maltese Falcon or Citizen Kane.”

Let’s get the basics of it down so I can get to being pissed off that this is a film that made its way onto my list. In the very early days of the 20th century, William Spence (Fredric March) is a medical student, and a promising one. Just as the announcement of his engagement to Hope Morris (Martha Scott) is announced in a Toronto newspaper, William bursts in and reveals a massive change in his plans. He’s received “the call” and is giving up medical school to be a Methodist minister. Things move quickly in the world of Jesus, evidently, because he’s already got an assignment to head to Iowa. Hope quotes the Book of Ruth at him, and the two are married and head off to America to live among the heathen.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Time to Mourn

Film: In the Bedroom
Format: DVD from DeKalb Public Library on laptop.

In one of the early scenes of In the Bedroom, Frank Fowler (Nick Stahl) and his father Matt (Tom Wilkinson) are out on a lobster boat off the coast of Maine with the son of Frank’s girlfriend. One of the lobsters they pull up on deck is missing a claw, and Matt explains to the boy that it lost it fighting over a female. One of the reasons that the traps need to be pulled up frequently is that if there are two males and a female in a trap, the males will fight, and one will likely lose a claw in the struggle. If you think that’s going to be a metaphor for the film that is to come, you’d be right.

Of course, that is exactly where we’re going. Frank’s girlfriend Natalie (Marisa Tomei) is older than he is by a few years, has two kids, and most important for the plot, has a violent, abusive, and extremely jealous ex-husband named Richard (William Mapother). For Frank, the relationship with Natalie starts as sort of a summer thing while he’s back home and preparing to go back to college. However, it slowly becomes more serious as things progress to the point where Frank considers delaying his return to college or even giving it up to be a lobster fisherman full time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Swann Song

Film: My Favorite Year
Format: Turner Classic Movies on rockin’ flatscreen.

A couple of years ago, Nick Jobe asked me to give him a list of films he’d never seen that I thought he should see. One of the films I picked was My Favorite Year. I picked this for a couple of reasons. First, while it’s not Peter O’Toole’s best film, it is my favorite of his performances. Second, I think it’s funny as hell. Third, it’s a movie that I think is sadly forgotten. Nick didn’t like it as much as I do, and didn’t like it as much as I hoped he would. Naturally, I think he’s wrong, but that’s okay; this is my site, not his.

The plot is simple enough. Benjy Stone (Mark Linn-Baker) is a junior writer on a comedy variety show in 1954. One week, the special guest star is Alan Swann (Peter O’Toole), essentially an Errol Flynn clone. Swann made his living in swashbuckling action films and has since fallen on hard times due to his constant womanizing and drinking. In fact, he misses his initial meeting with the show because of a one-night stand and finally shows up so drunk he’s barely able to stand. The star of the show, Stan “King” Kaiser (Joseph Bologna), wants to dump the has-been star, but Benjy vouches for him. Because of this, Swann becomes Benjy’s problem literally. It’s up to Benjy to make sure that Alan Swann shows up for every rehearsal on time and sober, something that is going to prove to be a significant problem.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Lost Weekend 2: Electric Booze-a-loo

Film: Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman
Format: Internet video on laptop.

There are members of my family who are more than a little bit drinky. This more than anything else is the reason that I don’t drink much myself. I’m a drink or two per month guy. Part of this is because I genuinely like booze, so I realize that letting myself drink too much would be something easy to do. That being the case, movies about alcoholism are always interesting to me. It’s one of the reasons I like The Lost Weekend as much as I do. So when Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman showed up online, I figured it would be an interesting way to spend the night.

We begin with Angelica Evans (Susan Hayward), an up-and-coming lounge singer. Angelica is slowly building her career, but takes a minor left turn when she gets married to Ken Conway (Lee Bowman), a singer in his own right, but one who can’t get a job to save his life. He and his friend Steve Nelson (Eddie Albert) write songs and pitch them when they can, but in the early going, it’s Angelica who is supporting the family. Eventually, Ken gets a job singing cowboy ballads on the radio. One day, he belts out a song he wrote for Angelica. As it happens, he sings this on the day she is giving birth to their child.

Monday, June 9, 2014

I Know Why the Caged Bird SIngs

Film: Birdman of Alcatraz
Format: DVD from Northern Illinois University Founders Memorial Library on laptop.

When I did the 1001 Movies list, I made a concerted effort to knock out a bunch of the really long movies every month. I didn’t want to be stuck at the end of the process with a collection of epics. I’d forgotten what it was like to have a bunch of really long movies still ahead of me. Birdman of Alcatraz clocks in at close to 150 minutes, and it was barely in the top 50 in terms of length. Longer movies are difficult for the bare fact that I don’t always have 2 ½ hours in a row to watch something. That said, watching Birdman of Alcatraz is a step in the right direction; I need to get back to knocking out the long films.

Anyway, Birdman of Alcatraz is about the life of Robert Stroud (Burt Lancaster), a man serving a life sentence in solitary confinement who became an expert on birds. Stroud, by all accounts, was an extremely smart man, but also a psychopath. The portrayal of him here is initially quite brutal, but an understandable brutality. When he is denied a visit from his mother, he goes on a small rampage and kills a prison guard. At his trial, he is sentenced to death. Through the intervention of his mother (Thelma Ritter), his life is saved. However, since the sentence at his trial read that he was to be held in solitary until his death, Stroud goes into long term solitary confinement.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Moved by the Spirit

Film: Here Comes Mr. Jordan
Format: DVD from NetFlix on laptop.

There are certain stories that we appear programmed to respond to. While Here Comes Mr. Jordan is the earliest incarnation of this particular story that I’ve seen, it’s also the second time I’ve seen this story exactly and the third that I’ve seen that runs along these lines. What I’m about to say will be confusing. The remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan is the 1970s Heaven Can Wait. The original Heaven Can Wait has some similarities in plot, but it’s not a related film.

Here’s the elevator pitch: A boxer named Joe Pendleton (Robert Montgomery) is prepping for a title fight. He flies himself to New York, but a structural defect on the plane causes a crash. His guardian angel equivalent (Edward Everett Horton) pulls him out of the plane before the crash, hoping to spare him the pain and suffering of his death. Unfortunately, Joe wasn’t meant to die in the crash; in fact, he’s got another 50 years coming to him. By the time he’s taken back to earth, his body has been cremated, leaving him (and his handlers) in a quandary.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Shore Leave

Film: Anchors Aweigh
Format: DVD from NetFlix on laptop.

So here’s one of those moments where I find myself conflicted as a critic. Anchors Aweigh is a musical, and it’s a classical musical in the sense that the characters spend their time singing about their feelings to each other. I’ve started getting used to this, believe it or not. I’d still not frequently choose to watch a musical, but there are enough of them that I’ve genuinely enjoyed that I’m much more willing to give them a chance. Since Anchors Aweigh is not merely a musical but a Gene Kelly musical, I’m even more interested.

I like Kelly. I’ve always liked Kelly. Sure, there are other actors from this era of Hollywood that could dance and plenty of them could carry a tune better than Kelly, but I remain convinced that no one could do the things that Kelly could do on a dance floor. Astaire may have been more elegant, O’Connor more willing to play the terpsichorean fool, but for pure athleticism, no one could do the things that Gene Kelly could. The man had the strength and build of a linebacker and the grace of a bullfighter. There’s simply no one else like him.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Magic Before Mike

Film: The Full Monty
Format: DVD from Rockford Public Library on laptop.

I’ve watched a number of movies I haven’t been completely keen on lately. I needed to watch something that I knew I was going to like. That means watching something I’ve seen before. In this case, The Full Monty was at hand, and so into the spinner it goes. For those uninitiated, this is the male stripper movie before Magic Mike.

Our protagonists are a group of unemployed factory workers in Yorkshire. They’re unemployed because the steel mill they worked at has been shut down. Gary “Gaz” Schofield (Robert Carlyle) and his friend Dave (Mark Addy) are reduced to breaking into the closed factory and stealing metal for scrap to get along. For Gaz, things have become extremely difficult. His ex-wife is on the verge of suing him for back child support. Failing to pay means being separated from his son Nathan (William Snape).

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

It's Not Porn

Film: Two Girls and a Sailor
Format: Turner Classic Movies on rockin’ flatscreen.

There are times when going back multiple decades into film history pays off, but it’s always a crapshoot. I understand when people complain about old movies. There are plenty of them that have significantly different sensibilities than more modern movies. One such movie that is very much in the mode of morale-boosting propaganda film is Two Girls and a Sailor, which honestly sounds like a porn title. Anyway, this is a musical very much in the classical vein, which will please a number of people and tends to leave me flat.

Like many a classic musical, this is essentially a romance with a whisper-thin plot. Seriously, this plot would fall apart with a sneeze. Two sisters, Patsy (June Allyson) and Jean Deyo (Gloria DeHaven) grow up in the vaudeville business. Eventually, they become pretty successful and start working at a club in New York. After work, they essentially operate something like a USO club out of their apartment, bringing up lonely soldiers, sailors, and marines and feeding them.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Home Front

Film: Hope and Glory
Format: DVD from NetFlix on laptop.

I’ve said before that of all of the many possible topics covered in film, nothing has been done more than war. It’s not difficult to find a film on pretty much any war topic you can think of, and for a war like World War II, you can find all of those areas of the war you can think of and more. There are prison movies, movies that concentrate on Europe, Africa, the Pacific, the air war, the war on and under the waves, invasions, defenses against invasions, sieges, concentration camps, and just about anything else. One of the most interesting aspects of the war to me is the home front. I’m interested in the desert war, too, but the home front is fascinating to me. So I was pleased when Hope and Glory showed up.

What makes Hope and Glory interesting to me is that it comes from the perspective of a child. Billy Roman (Sebastian Rice-Edwards, in his only film role) is about 10 when the war starts and his father (David Hayman) joins up. His mother (Sarah Miles) attempts to send him and his younger sister Sue (Geraldine Muir) to Australia, but relents at the last minute and keeps him home along with young Sue and older sister Dawn (Sammi Davis).

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Fox in the Henhouse

Film: Fantastic Mr. Fox
Format: DVD from Rockford Public Library on laptop.

When it comes to the films of Wes Anderson, I always wonder how much is the real Wes Anderson and how much is simply affectation. His style is so distinctive that it’s impossible not to recognize his work immediately. So when it comes to his animated feature debut, Fantastic Mr. Fox, I was curious as to whether or not that style would carry over into stop motion. It does. Let’s get that out of the way right away.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is based on a book by Roald Dahl, which means it will be both whimsical and quite dark in places. The meet the eponymous Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) and his wife Felicity (Meryl Streep) as they are one their way home. They decide to raid a chicken far and are captured, at which point Felicity reveals she is pregnant. Flash forward a few years and Mr. Fox is now reformed (kind of), and writes a newspaper column. His son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) feels like a typical Wes Anderson misfit and is complet with quirks and OCD habits like all of Anderson’s characters. Soon, Ash’s cousin Kristofferson (Eric Anderson, the director’s brother) arrives and appears to upstage Ash in every aspect of life, including stealing the girl Ash is interested in.

Pawn Shop

Film: None but the Lonely Heart
Format: Turner Classic Movies on rockin’ flatscreen.

I’ve never been shy about the fact that I like Cary Grant. If you list out the actors from the golden age of Hollywood, there are plenty more accomplished, many with more awards, and some who were more talented actors than Cary Grant. But none of them had Grant’s style or raw personal magnetism. I’m always pleased to watch anything featuring him, even if it turns out I don’t love the film itself.

This is a simple story that gets convoluted pretty quickly. Ernie Mott (Grant) is the sort of guy who doesn’t spend too long in any one place. He’s shown up at home after a long period of wandering from place to place, earning a living as he finds it. Ernie has a basic mechanical knowledge, allowing him to repair watches and perfect pitch, which allows him to tune pianos. His mother (Ethel Barrymore) runs something akin to a pawn shop. What she wants more than anything is for her son to return home and take over the shop for here, something he is uninterested in doing. She offers an ultimatum: stay and work at the shop or leave and never return.