The Rare Review

Movies, books, music and TV

Is It “On the Avenue” Or In Tin Pan Alley?

Re the 1937 film musical, On the Avenue:

imageOn the avenue, there is savory Irving Berlin music and some pleasurable singing and dancing.

Alice Faye is somewhat miscast as a jealous meanie, but as a performer she is a heartening jewel.  Musically Dick Powell holds his own, and the unfunny Ritz Brothers do some pretty good hoofing.  The hookiest song is probably “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm,” but “You’re Laughing at Me” and “This Year’s Kisses” also boast eminently likable and not too predictable melodies.

As romantic as it is mirthful, this vivacious flick was well directed by Roy Del Ruth.


Woodrow Wilson’s In The White House, John Ford Is Making “Straight Shooting”

The directing of John Ford (using the name of Jack Ford) is interesting and efficient enough to make his silent Western, Straight Shooting (1917), better than it is. E.g., the inner shots of door frames are there. Rather unpalatable is George Hively’s script about a morally conflicted hired killer (Harry Carey) summoned by a big-bully cattleman. I recommend reading such Western novels as L’Amour’s Down the Long Hills or Patten’s A Killing in Kiowa, both fresh and fun, rather than pulling up this Ford item on Tubi. Not that it doesn’t have its virtues, though.

A Big Deal: “Big Night” (The 90s Movie)

Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott, both actors, scored a lot of points in directing the 1996 Big Night, for which they chose an easygoing but not too slow pace, dabs of effective slow mo, wise medium shots of people, and Felliniesque dramatics.  They both act in the film too, and Tucci, talented guy, co-wrote the original screenplay, which has to do with the efforts of Italian brothers to keep their traditional Italian restaurant afloat in the big-city America of the 1950s.  Sadly, one of the brothers has given up all integrity.  He is desperate, even betraying his pleasant girlfriend (Minnie Driver).  A novel idea obtains, then: i.e., moral compromise takes place so that compromise with cuisine (traditional Italian) might be eschewed.  Not that the filmmakers condone this compromise, you understand; they don’t.  But it does go on.

Honest and endearing, Big Night is one of the cinematic big deals of ’96.

(All reviews are by Earl Dean)

Cover of "Big Night (Ws Keep)"
Cover of Big Night (Ws Keep)

Looking At Tinsel: “Sawdust and Tinsel”

Both Ake Gronberg and Harriet Andersson are excellent in Ingmar Bergman‘s Sawdust and Tinsel (1953), but the Andersson vehicle, Summer with Monika (also by Bergman), is a better film. What would improve Sawdust is if the picture were less blatant and flamboyant, and offered characters less irritating and tiresome than Frost and Frans. Granted, there is cinematic poetry here, but it amounts to little next to Andersson’s sexiness.

(In Swedish with English subtitles)

No Magnificence: Welles’s “The Magnificent Ambersons”

The Magnificent Ambersons (film)

The Magnificent Ambersons (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

George, the young man played by Tim Holt in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), is not only a cad but a fool as well.  Maybe, just maybe, he’ll learn not to be callous to the father of the girl he desires to marry.

This Orson Welles picture is quite unlikely—and quite thin too.  Unlike other Old Hollywood films, however, it has a strong tragic dimension (similar to that in Citizen Kane) and its visual artistry still pleases.  The best thing about it is that uncommon air of mystery mentioned in 1963 by William Pechter.  It’s a classic, but needed to be far better.

Page 1 of 297

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén