#227-Now, Voyager

Quick recap: Charlotte Vale is a Crazy Cat Lady without any cats. On the verge of a mental breakdown because her mother is basically the worst, her doctor at a sanatarium  helps her come out of her shell. While on a voyage, Charlotte meets Jerry Durrance who is handsome, sweet and also married. The two have a very heavy affair and at the end of the trip, decide to part ways. As anyone who has ever been in love can testify, that’s easier said than done.

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You can never go wrong with a makeover montage! Too bad they weren’t around when this movie was made.

Fun (?) fact: People went nuts after seeing Paul Henreid’s act of lighting two cigarettes. He couldn’t go out in public without someone asking him to light one for them.

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Cancer is sexy as hell

My thoughts: Makeover scenes in movies generally make me cringe, but Now, Voyager takes it to a whole other level. I couldn’t decide which one was the worst: When a niece of Charlotte ridicules her during her nervous breakdown, or when the doctor breaks her glasses because she doesn’t need them now that she is ‘normal’ or when Charlotte shows Jerry a younger picture of herself to which he calls her the ‘fat lady with the heavy brows and all the hair’. But I guess women were cool with stuff like that back then because she fell in love with him shortly after. Damn, girl.

So, I’m torn with how I feel about Charlotte. Good for her for gaining all that confidence although the only thing that really did any good was getting a man. Later on in the film she breaks off an engagement to a guy because she isn’t feeling it, which is awesome, except that she still in love with Jerry, who is still married. I came around a little when Charlotte checked herself into the sanatorium when she feared another breakdown, until it became apparent she was only there to get close to Jerry’s depressed daughter, Tina. Damn ,girl.

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different Tina

I guess the love Jerry and Charlotte had was cute, but the thing with Tina kind of ruined it for me. When she initially saw the girl at the sanitarium and befriended her, I thought that was kind of sweet, especially seeing as how the two had a lot in common. I was even into the scene where Charlotte helps Tina call her father because she missed him so much and I admired her for not jumping on the phone and declaring her love for him. But then that night, Tina had a nightmare and Charlotte went in and cuddled her. Still a little sweet until that voiceover when she spells out that she had her lover’s daughter in her arms. I cringed even more when Charlotte had the girl call her the pet name Jerry gave her on the voyage and then at the end when she admitted to Jerry that keeping the girl felt like she was raising ‘their’ child. Damn, girl.

Final review: 2/5

Up next: Duck Soup

#218- Detour

Quick Recap: There are many reasons why hitchhiking is a bad idea, one of them being that you might be accused of murder.

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Or it might be Rodney Dangerfield. You just never know!

Fun (?) fact: Tom Neal, who played the main character Al, was convicted of killing his wife in 1965. I’d add something witty here, but that’s just sad and Tom Neal was an asshole.

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Tom Neal is an example of someone you wouldn’t want to pick up.

My thoughts: As I have most likely mentioned before (but am currently too lazy to verify), I have an extreme fear of being accused of a crime I didn’t commit. There are some people who go so far as to save all their receipts for the sole purpose of having an alibi in case they are in a situation that would warrant it, but (as mentioned before) I’m too lazy to do that. Plus, knowing my luck, if I did keep all of my receipts and was accused of a crime, the prosecution would probably use that as evidence that not only was I guilty, but that it was premeditated. And exhibit B would probably be this entire paragraph, so it’s for the best that I get on with the review and stop incriminating myself.

So…..Detour. IMDb calls this film one of the best B-movies ever made, which, on the surface sounds like an oxymoron. I get it, though. Director Edgar G.Ulmer had a very small budget and instead of trying to create what would’ve been really bad scenery, he just had fun with it. Case in point, the beginning of the movie shows Al hitchhiking his way west and later heading east. There wasn’t a budget to show both directions, so Ulmer simply reversed the film. The result is Al hitching with his left thumb and riding in cars where the driver is on the right side. There are also many scenes where Al is staring off into the distance as his voice explains what he is thinking. Low budget, yes, but the story is simple enough to have not needed an expensive set.

The main plot of the film is about as outlandish as you might expect: Al hitchhikes to LA to reunite with his girlfriend and along the way gets picked up by a really rich guy. The rich guy dies and Al realizes that if he calls the police, it’s going to look really suspicious. So he instead buries the body, switches identities and continues on his way. Being the idiot that he is, Al picks up his own hitchhiker, who just happens to be a woman that knew the dead rich guy and now she is in on what happened. The two fight about what to do and in one of the best (worst?) scenes I’ve encountered on this list, the woman locks herself in a hotel room to call the police on Al. On the other side of the door, Al pulls as hard as he can on the phone cord and when that doesn’t work, kicks down the door. That’s when he finds the cord wrapped around the woman’s neck and she too is dead. Rotten luck, indeed. It’s such a wonderfully silly story, but somehow, it works. The acting wasn’t great but it didn’t need to be to get the point across.

Final review: 4/5. And thanks to the Hayes code which stipulates that murderers aren’t allowed to get away with their crimes, Al is picked up at the end of the movie and brought to justice.

Up next: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

#203- Pinocchio

Quick recap: A wooden puppet comes alive and surprisingly doesn’t murder everyone in his sight.

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Fun (?) fact: In the original novel, Pinocchio murders Jiminy Cricket with a mallet. He pops up later on with little explanation given.

I'm feeling very uncomfortable right now

I’m feeling very uncomfortable right now

My thoughts: I decided to share Pinocchio with my 6 year old one evening, because there’s no better way to bond than to threaten a child with horrifying consequences if he doesn’t behave. Afterwards, I asked what he thought about it.

Me: How many points would you give this movie, out of 5?

B: 5, because of the cat.

Me: What was your favorite part of Pinocchio?

B: The cat.

Me: What was the funniest part of the movie?

B: When Geppetto thought Pinocchio was dead! Oh, and the cat.

The interview was abruptly shut down after that and off to therapy my son went.

So, besides learning how creepy my kid can be, I actually enjoyed the movie somewhat. The moral about being good was a little heavy handed, but that’s what was to be expected back then. Kids these days don’t know how good they’ve got it, with their soft themes of friendship and working together. Back then, all kids had was, ‘your nose will grow long if you lie, you’ll turn into a jackass and everyone you know and love will be swallowed by a giant whale.’

One thing I had forgotten about Pinocchio was all of the music Disney used to do with their films. I kind of enjoyed it, although my kid seemed a little bored through some of the numbers. He might’ve just wanted the cat back, though.

Overall, the only thing that really bothered me was the relationship between Geppetto and Pinocchio. I know that he wanted a son, but he had really only known the puppet for a few hours before he started getting into trouble. Maybe I’m just a bad person, but I most likely wouldn’t risk my life for a wooden puppet that had caused me grief for most of its short life.

I much prefer Egg Yolkeo

I much prefer Egg Yolkeo

Final review: 4/5, and I agree that the cat made the movie

Up next: Sunrise

#188- White Heat

Quick recap: A gangster with mommy issues gets outgangstered. Totally a thing. Look it up.

Nothing weird going on here!

Nothing weird going on here!

Fun (?) fact: In between takes for White Heat, James Cagney liked to go up to co-star Edmond O’Brien and show him poetry he had written.

My thoughts:  Knowing that this was a gangster film, I was expecting violence but it being the 1940s, I wasn’t expecting anything super realistic. I was right in a way because the deaths were your typical ‘clutch the chest, fall over’ fare, but White Heat is pretty dark for its time. Many descriptions peg the main character Cody (not a very gangster name, tbh) as ‘psychopathic’ and ‘homicidal’ and that is very true. He doesn’t blink twice when offing someone and in some scenes, he seems to relish the torture he inflicts on his victims. It’s not that I wanted a gangster with a heart of gold, but I wasn’t expecting one so gangster-y.

As mentioned above, everything Cody does is for his mother. He runs the gang, but only gives orders that he knows she would approve of. I really liked her character because she didn’t put up with anything. In one scene, Cody is planning on giving himself up to police and when she is questioned later on, she plays the role perfectly of mom who doesn’t know anything, but will kick your ass if you keep asking. I had very little sympathy for Cody throughout the film, but what little I could muster was because of her and how true his love was. Plus, she left hiding to go buy the gangsters strawberries, so you can’t really hate someone who does that.

White Heat surprised me by how complicated it was, from both sides. The FBI obviously had no computers back then, but still managed to stay one up on the gang at all times. Cody, too, always thought ahead, like when he paid someone to rob a store many states away so that he could confess to it later on, thus providing an alibi for the much larger crime of a train robbery. In an effort to get Cody to admit his deception, the FBI plants one of their men as his cellmate to gain his trust. When Cody decides to break out, the FBI arranges a getaway car so that his relationship with agent Hank Fallon was still intact. And it’s not really a criticism of this film, but this constant life of being on the run made me wonder what the benefits of being a gangster really are. From the very beginning with the train robbery, everyone lives in constant fear of getting caught and must perform bigger heists to keep the money flowing in. I may just be lazy, but the lifestyle just seems like a lot of work. There were a few scenes of the gangsters counting their money, but besides buying high priced suits, what did they use it for? Being a gangster fit Cody because he was crazy, but I don’t know about the other ones.

Look, Ma, I'm on top of the world!

Look, Ma, I’m on top of the world!

Final review: 4/5

Up next: The Firemen’s Ball