Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… High Time (1960)

And now it’s time for us to dig into the 1960 college movie High Time, starring Bing Crosby!

Bing plays Harvey Howard, a 51-year-old restaurant owner who has decided that it is high time somebody in his family (meaning himself in this instance) went to college, much to the protests of his two children.  He prefers not to be given any special treatment because of his age, but wants instead to enjoy college life as all the other, younger students do.  Along the way, he ends up falling for Professor Helene Gauthier, the French teacher.

This movie is, at times, more like a series of events. We are mainly seeing Bing’s Howard as he goes through his four years of college, with the story stopping here and there to focus on different things. Amongst other things, we see the freshman bonfire, where they are told they need to build a bonfire taller than previous freshman, and Howard has to climb up the unstable pile with one last chair to help make it taller. One particularly hilarious moment is in his sophomore year. As a candidate for a fraternity, Howard has a few things to do, like scrubbing floors, polishing shoes, etc., but most hilariously, he has to dress in drag to go to a southern costume ball, where he has to dance with the host, an elderly gentleman who is suffering from gout and sitting it out. I find it hilarious, especially after hearing how uncomfortable Bing was in doing the “Sisters” number with Danny Kaye in White Christmas, to see Bing completely dressed in drag (of course, Howard’s two children were BOTH invited to the party, and are completely discombobulated by seeing their father like that, as well)!

The movie was directed by legend Blake Edwards (best known for stuff like Operation Petticoat, some of the Peter Sellers Pink Panther movies, Victor/Victoria and others), and also includes a score by Henry Mancini (who worked with Blake Edwards on some of those movies as well). Not the greatest movie ever made by Blake Edwards, but it is one I do enjoy watching every now and then, even if it is a far cry from what college life might be like now (or might even have been like at the time it was made). So, if you do get a chance, I do suggest trying this one just for fun!

As to the availability for this movie, I’m not sure what to say.  The movie itself is owned by 20th Century Fox (or will be, until Disney buys them out).  They licensed the movie out to Twilight Time a few years ago for a limited run of 3000 copies on Blu-ray, which have since sold out, and as far as I can see, it was never available on DVD.  So, to see this one, your best bet is to wait and see whether Disney makes it available when they start their streaming service, catch it on TV, or find a friend that has the Blu-ray.  The movie is one hour, forty-three minutes in length.

My Rating: 7/10

Audience Rating: 

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2018) with… Black Widow (1954)

This time, we are here for the movie Black Widow. No, this movie has nothing to do with the Marvel character, and outside of a brief mention at the very beginning of the movie, it really has little to do with the spider itself. This is a 1954 film noir, starring Ginger Rogers, Van Heflin, Gene Tierney and George Raft.

Van Heflin plays Peter Denver, a theatrical producer and husband of actress Iris Denver (Gene Tierney). Iris has to go visit her sick mother, but she makes Peter go to the party hosted by her actress friend (and star of Peter’s show) Carlotta Marin (Ginger Rogers). At this party, he meets Nancy Ordway (Peggy Ann Garner), an aspiring writer. He takes her to dinner (he does tell his wife, before anybody asks), and he offers her the use of his apartment for her to write during the day, while he is away. When his wife returns, they find Nancy hanging in the apartment. At first, it is assumed to be suicide, but then the police discover she was murdered (and apparently pregnant, to boot). Peter becomes the prime suspect, so he goes on the run and tries to find out what really happened.

Now, this movie is one I first saw because of Ginger Rogers. From what I have read, her performance in this movie is apparently one that people either like or dislike. I myself fall into the former, as I feel that she makes the movie worth watching. Watching her berate others (including Bea Benaderet, whom I mainly know from her role as Kate Bradley on the sitcom Petticoat Junction, although she has certainly done other things, like voicing Betty Rubble on The Flintstones) is amusing, but she also makes herself a rather despicable person (and makes it easy to feel sorry for her meek husband, as played by Reginald Gardiner).

I like this movie. I admit, it’s not the best noir I’ve ever seen, but it works well enough for me. I know some might argue whether it is a noir, since it is in color and not a black and white movie, but I still think it fits the bill well enough. I like the characters well, especially Van Heflin’s Peter Denvers, who seems like a rare character in a noir, who actually tells his wife about Nancy when he takes her out to dinner, instead of Iris finding out the hard way, like what would likely be the normal case in these movies. As a whole, I enjoy this movie. As I said, it’s not the best noir I’ve ever seen, but it’s good enough for me, and one I would recommend to anybody interested.

The movie is available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time as a limited edition with 3000 total copies available through either www.screenarchives.com or www.twilighttimemovies.com and DVD from Twentieth Century Fox, and is one hour, thirty-five minutes in length.

My Rating: 7/10

Audience Rating:

 https://www.amazon.com/Black-Widow-Nunnally-Johnson/dp/B074TSVN5D/ref=as_li_ss_tl?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1547482363&sr=1-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=thoughtsfr066-20&linkId=2fec03156362df5fe2ba2b4de7211fbf&language=en_US

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2018) with… My Sister Eileen (1955)

And here we are for another movie given a new disc release in 2018, the 1955 musical My Sister Eileen, starring Janet Leigh, Jack Lemmon and Betty Garrett.

Betty Garrett is Ruth Sherwood, and Janet Leigh is her sister, Eileen. Both of them have come to New York City’s Greenwich Village. There, they find an apartment to stay at, while they try to find work. Eileen hopes to become an actress, but she finds that the producers find HER interesting and not her acting. She becomes close with the manager of a local soda fountain, Frank Lippencott (Bob Fosse), who falls for her, and tries to help her out. Meanwhile, Ruth, who wants to become a writer, tries to submit her work to publisher Bob Baker (Jack Lemmon). He thinks most of her stories are bad, except for one on her sister Eileen. When he says he would like to meet her, Ruth falls victim to her own feelings of inadequacy and tells him that SHE is Eileen.

Apparently, everything came from a series of autobiographical short stories written by Ruth McKenny that was turned into a play (and then made into a movie in 1942 starring Rosalind Russell). It was brought to Broadway again in the early 50s as a musical called Wonderful Town, which prompted Columbia Pictures to make another film version. They had the rights to the story from the previous movie, but the rights to the music from Wonderful Town were apparently too expensive, so a new score was commissioned from Jule Styne and Leo Robin.

I personally think this is a wonderful movie. I am coming off my second viewing of this movie in my lifetime (not sure how long it has been since my first viewing), but I enjoyed it a lot more the second time. I still can’t really say as I care for the music itself, but I do think that it helps tell the story, so that is in its favor. The main appeal of this movie is the dancing, since Bob Fosse was in charge of the choreography. The main routines that are the most fun are the challenge dance between Bob Fosse’s Frank Lippencott and Tommy Rall’s newspaperman Chick Clark, and the song “Give Me A Band And My Baby,” where Betty Garrett, Janet Leigh, Bob Fosse and Tommy Rall are all pretending to play various invisible musical instruments. Now, this movie does have its ridiculous moments (everything connected to the “Conga” moments near the end are just nuts), but I think it all adds up to being the charm of the movie, so I would recommend this movie to everybody just for some good, clean fun!

The movie is available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time as a limited edition with 3000 total copies available through either www.screenarchives.com or www.twilighttimemovies.com and DVD from Sony, and is one hour, forty-seven minutes in length.

My Rating: 9/10

Audience Rating:

And here’s the Amazon link for the DVD:

https://www.amazon.com/My-Sister-Eileen-Betty-Garrett/dp/B00070HK38/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1547004930&sr=1-3&keywords=my+sister+eileen+1955+dvd&linkCode=ll1&tag=thoughtsfr066-20&linkId=d80319a8c49d1e244f9a1cc47d8fc9c8&language=en_US

Top 10 Disc Releases of 2018

(Updated 8/23/2019 from “Top 5 Disc Releases of 2018” to “Top 10 Disc Releases of 2018”)

Here’s the list you have been waiting for, on what I think are some of the best releases for 2018, giving new life to old classics and forgotten gems!  Again, my thoughts are coming ONLY from what I have been able to see myself.  And if any of these appeal to you, be sure to click on the movie titles to go to Amazon!

  1. Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The classic musical about a family of seven brothers who fall in love with girls from town, this movie has been given a new lease on life.  Thanks to the tireless efforts of Warner Archive, this movie, which has been in bad shape for years, has a new restoration from newly rediscovered film elements that makes it look closer to how it was originally supposed to look than it has in a long time!  Do NOT miss this one if you can help it!  Full review here.
  2. The Sea Hawk (1940) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The classic seafaring adventure starring Errol Flynn as an English captain helping Queen Elizabeth to stop King Phillip II of Spain from trying to take over the world. While parts of the movie were cut a long time ago for a theatrical double-feature, they were restored to the movie in the 80s, and the new Blu-ray restoration shows off the best that could be done for this wonderful movie! Full review here.
  3. Merrily We Live (1938) (Classicflix, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • A long-forgotten gem, this screwball comedy centers on a family whose matriarch (Billie Burke) is prone to hiring any tramp who comes to the door.  When Wade Rawlins (Brian Aherne) is hired, almost all the female members of the household fall in love with him.  With a new restoration from the capable hands of Classicflix, this one is surely worth a try!  Full review here.
  4. My Man Godfrey (1936) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • One of the best-known screwball comedies, this movie starring William Powell and Carole Lombard features a “forgotten man” hired to be the butler for a very eccentric family.  Having been in the public domain for a number of years (which usually means poor transfers for the movies), this movie has been restored by Universal, and now looks fantastic!  Full review here.
  5. My Sister Eileen (1955) (Twilight Time, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10
    • The classic film musical starring Janet Leigh and Betty Garrett as a pair of sisters coming to New York to make their dreams come true. With a new high definition transfer, the movie looks even better, and shows off the scenery (not to mention the dancing as well)! Full review here.
  6. The Awful Truth (1937) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 9/10)
    • In this classic screwball comedy that introduced us to the fully-formed Cary Grant persona, we have Cary Grant and Irene Dunne as a couple who try to undergo divorce, only to find they can’t stand the thought of the other being with somebody else!  Recently restored from the best available elements for this release.  Full review here.
  7. Gun Crazy (1950) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10)
    • In this film noir that predates the classic Bonnie And Clyde, we follow Peggy Cummins and John Dall, who star as a couple obsessed with guns who go on an increasingly violent crime spree. Released by Warner Archive Collection, their usual fantastic work is evident in the transfer, which brings this classic black-and-white film to life! Full review here.
  8. Designing Woman (1957) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10)
    • In this comedy starring Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall, we follow a couple who just met and got married in a hurry, only to find out when they return home just how different their lifestyles are. As usual, Warner Archive has given us a great release on Blu-ray that looks fantastic, and is certainly the way to see the movie! Full review here.
  9. Home From The Hill (1960) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10)
    • Robert Mitchum stars as Wade Hunnicutt, a big game hunter, whose son, played by George Hamilton, wants to live up to his father’s reputation, even though his mother firmly disagrees, due to the long-simmering feelings of hatred for her husband. The scenery and townsfolk are easily brought to life with the recent Blu-ray release, which is definitely the best way to see the movie! Full review here.
  10. King of Jazz (1930) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 8/10)
    • A plotless musical revue, built around the orchestra and music of Paul Whiteman, recently restored to as close to its original length as possible.  Features the Radio City Rockettes (under a different name), along with other vaudevillian singers and dancers.  Also the film-debut of Bing Crosby.  Full review here.

Honorable mentions: Les Girls (1957) (Blu-ray, Warner Archive Collection), Casanova Brown (1944) (Blu-ray and DVD, Classicflix), Running Wild (1927) (Blu-ray and DVD, Kino Lorber)