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A few reviews
Gaslight (1940)
This British original is a shade better than the 1944 Hollywood remake. Anton Walbrook (one of my all-time favourite actors) is far superior to Charles Boyer. Walbrook brings that same intoxicating mix of charm, seduction and tyrannical menace that he exudes in 1948's 'The Red Shoes'. On the other hand, Diana Wynyard is no match for Ingrid Bergman in the later MGM version. The young detective played by Joseph Cotten in the US film is fine but the mischievous old pipe-smoking retired Policeman 'B.G. Rough' in the original is so damn good. I wish Frank Pettingell had gone on to play him in a series of amateur sleuth movies. I'm glad MGM were unsuccessful in their attempt to have all materials of this film destroyed, so I can enjoy it in a nice BFI 2K transfer today. Fans of Psychological Alfred Hitchcock murder-mysteries will find much to enjoy in Thorold Dickinson's movie.

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Still catching up on my creepy movies from Halloween... 
Frankenstein (1931)

Guys, do you know more than the broad strokes of this movie?  I can only imagine what audiences thought in 1931, but watching it today: I was shocked to realize this is not a good movie!  It takes Mary Shelley’s poignant meditation on the barrier between life and death and honestly makes a mockery of it.
 
A lot of attention is given to elements that weren’t in the original story, like the grotesque caricature of Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant Fritz, who is cruel and hateful seemingly just as a plot device.  For like no reason, Fritz is insistent on trying to beat the monster with a flaming torch and a whip, so the Doctor decides to go upstairs and read a book.  Then when the Monster kills Fritz and is vengeful towards the Doctor, he acts surprised like “how could this all go so wrong!?”
 
The trappings of modern horror movies are all here… continuity errors, logic errors in the plot (e.g. why is the Doctor surprised to find the hanged man has a broken neck?), unbelievable acting, and some bad special effects.  But the worst problem is they try to take the story and turn it into another British tale of drama in the aristocracy.  Because after you’ve brought the dead to life, you really need to take time off to plan your wedding.
 
There are 2 standout scenes however.  The “It’s alive!” scene is actually pretty compelling, and also when the Monster (who we’ve seen kill people quite easily) approaches a little girl by a lake.  There’s also a nice bit of photography with the burning windmill at the end framed up on the hill.  But the events leading up to the ending are so stupid and contrived as to be insulting to the audience. 

Just go read the book by Mary Shelley and just watch Boris Karloff’s scene with the girl by the lake on Youtube.  

Night of the Hunter (1955)
{The trailer gives too much away in my opinion...this video is better and shows some amazing shots...}


Another classic, this one has some real magic to it.  Yes, given the era it was made in, it's pretty stagey in some places.  You have to make allowances for several scenes of characters delivering speeches out towards the audience as if we were watching a play.  And tonally, it's very uneven.  But there are good stretches with some really haunting cinematography, and Robert Mitchum's iconic performance really anchors this thing.

I was surprised to find this was the first and last film directed by veteran actor Charles Laughton.  Apparently it was a troubled production, with botched marketing, and was panned on release.  So Laughton decided never to direct again, which is a real shame.  This is far from a perfect film, and I think it has a couple of false endings, but it showed the beginning of a great directing career.  It was also the 2nd-to-last film for the main child actor, Billy Chapin, who was a lot more interesting than most 11-year-olds I've seen in films.  Of course, he later got into drugs and alcohol, as so many child stars do.

I'd love to see this remade, possibly framed in a different time period, with the script fleshed out more in the beginning and ended sooner.  It's well worth a watch.
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^ There is a making of with hours of extra takes, if you fancied doing a fanedit.

The official BFI 38th best British film ever...

The Commitments (1991)
Director Alan Parker takes us into the brief rise and fall of a Dublin soul band, the recruiting, rehearsals, bad first gig, the gig where it all clicks etc. The live music is some of the best I've seen in a film, singer Andrew Strong has a raw soul voice to rival the greats. Off stage, the band argue viciously and comically, spewing every swear word under the sun at each other with venom. There isn't much actual plot but who cares when you're watching talents like this, with a big smile on your face.



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(11-13-2019, 04:53 PM)TM2YC Wrote: ^ There is a making of with hours of extra takes, if you fancied doing a fanedit.

The official BFI 38th best British film ever...

I would have to be very passionate about it to put in that time and effort, which I'm not.  It's a fascinating film as it is, but I'd rather see a professional remake than try to fanedit it.  The way Hollywood goes, I'm surprised they haven't done it yet.

I don't put much stock in critics' lists, btw.  They always skew too artsy and like to fashion themselves quite smart after the fact.  I have great respect for films which can repeatedly capture an audience and move them, more so than ones which indulge the director and a dedicated group of cinephiles.  In fancier days, they probably would've called me a Philistine.
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(11-14-2019, 03:52 AM)mnkykungfu Wrote: I don't put much stock in critics' lists, btw.  They always skew too artsy and like to fashion themselves quite smart after the fact.

I find them a great way to discover films but yes they are often too pretentious.

Serpico (1973)
Top-class biopic of NYPD whistle-blower Frank Serpico from Director Sidney Lumet. Coming off his star making turn in 'The Godfather', Al Pacino is at his prime (back when it wasn't all shouting). Filmed on location in the "mean streets" of New York, Lumet makes the city look like a crumbling, rat-infested toilet, as physically corrupt as the force that patrols it. Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis (discovered by Michael Powell) delivers a prominent and emotional score to rival the best of Ennio Morricone. 'Serpico' shows how being the one sane person in a world of madmen can make you lose your mind.

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Are there any good and accurate movie adaptations of Frankenstein?
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mnkykungfu I feel about Dracula the way you feel about Frankenstein. I love the book, but have been dissapointed at the lack of any good attempt at adapting the excellent story held within the pages.

I feel the opposite to you on Frankenstein, however. I think the novel is overrated, and I much prefer the original universal horror film. I can see where you're coming from though, and everything you've highlighted as the film's strengths are what I would also consider to be it's best aspects.
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(11-15-2019, 05:07 PM)jrWHAG42 Wrote: Are there any good and accurate movie adaptations of Frankenstein?

The 3-hour-ish 1973 TV movie 'Frankenstein: The True Story' is the best IMO:





It's got the feel of a Hammer production but more in depth. The portrayal of the creature as very human, intelligent and sympathetic is great. Some bits are accurate, some not. I hope they do a blu-ray one day.
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I suppose I should've said "accurate and/or good". I don't think a movie adaptation necessarily has to be completely accurate to be good. But bonus points if it's both accurate and good for the most part. I'm explaining badly.

I'll definitely check this out though, thank you!
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(11-15-2019, 04:14 PM)TM2YC Wrote: I find them a great way to discover films but yes they are often too pretentious.

Totally.  Most of the reason I still listen to movie podcasts and check out lists is for discovery.
 
(11-15-2019, 05:07 PM)jrWHAG42 Wrote: Are there any good and accurate movie adaptations of Frankenstein?

Kenneth Branagh's '94 adaptation is typically considered to be the most accurate, so much so that the actual title of the film is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.  This, despite that it did attempt to adapt elements from The Bride of Frankenstein, widely considered to be the best Frankenstein film.  However, the '94 film is not really that good....

There is a great quote on this from its screenwriter, Frank Darabont: "There's a weird doppelganger effect when I watch the movie. It's kind of like the movie I wrote, but not at all like the movie I wrote. It has no patience for subtlety. It has no patience for the quiet moments. It has no patience period. It's big and loud and blunt and rephrased by the director at every possible turn. Cumulatively, the effect was a totally different movie. I don't know why Branagh needed to make this big, loud film ... the material was subtle. Shelley's book was way out there in a lot of ways, but it's also very subtle. I don't know why it had to be this operatic attempt at filmmaking. Shelley's book is not operatic, it whispers at you a lot. The movie was a bad one. That was my Waterloo."

He nails the problem with the film.  On the other hand, Roger Ebert nails the positive: "I admired the scenes with De Niro [as the "Creature"] so much I'm tempted to give Mary Shelley's Frankenstein a favorable verdict. But it's a near miss. The Creature is on target, but the rest of the film is so frantic, so manic, it doesn't pause to be sure its effects are registered."

The film nails the nuance of the Monster/Creature in that he in some ways becomes a more fully-realized human than his creator.  They have a weird relationship, inextricable, the created mired in the failings of the creator.  It seems to be a commentary on God and Man, and also on the Writer and their Work.  But it works as pure fiction, as well.  DeNiro nails it, and I almost say it's worth watching just for him.
 
(11-15-2019, 05:25 PM)The Scribbling Man Wrote: mnkykungfu I feel about Dracula the way you feel about Frankenstein. I love the book, but have been dissapointed at the lack of any good attempt at adapting the excellent story held within the pages.

I feel the opposite to you on Frankenstein, however. I think the novel is overrated, and I much prefer the original universal horror film. I can see where you're coming from though, and everything you've highlighted as the film's strengths are what I would also consider to be it's best aspects.

I have the great luxury of not having read the original novel, and so being of the right age and sentiment to enjoy Copolla's film (despite its shortcomings).  In fact, I tried to read the novel several times (at far too young an age) and just couldn't get very far in.  I found it incredibly dry and dusty, but I should give it another go now.
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