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What I Watched in April 2021, Part II

If you missed the first part of my April 2021 viewing, you can find it here.


Gideon’s Day (aka Gideon of Scotland Yard, 1958) John Ford (John Ford at Columbia, 1935-1958 Blu-ray box set, Indicator, Region B)

In between the John Wayne movies The Wings of Eagles (1957) and The Horse Soldiers (1959), John Ford made a trio of non-Western, non-John Wayne pictures, The Rising of the Moon (1957), The Last Hurrah (1958), and between those, Gideon’s Day (1958). A day in the life of a Scotland Yard detective seems an odd choice for Ford until you understand how much he enjoyed suspense novels, particularly the Commander George Gideon series by John Creasey (under the pseudonym J.J. Marric). Throughout the film, Gideon (Jack Hawkins) is faced with (1) learning that one of his officers is on the take, (2) the death of a suspended colleague, (3) a sex crime investigation, (4) getting a ticket from a rookie policeman, (5) and the possibility of missing his daughter’s violin recital. It’s all pleasant enough (but with too much lightness for my taste), yet lacks any real teeth.

The film features the debut of Anna Massey (daughter of Raymond Massey), who will always be remembered for her very next role in Peeping Tom (1960). The Indicator Blu-ray includes both the UK version and the truncated American cut under the title Gideon of Scotland Yard, which flopped in the U.S.

Major Dundee (1965) Sam Peckinpah (DVD)

We’ll probably never have a director’s cut of Major Dundee, but whether you see the 123-minute or the 135-minute cut (the one I saw), you can see that the film is so, so close to greatness, perhaps just short of a masterpiece. Charlton Heston plays Major Amos Dundee, the leader of a ragtag Army troop consisting of Union and Confederate soldiers whose mission is to ride into Mexico to kill a band of Apaches who’ve been raiding U.S. bases in Texas. Major Dundee boasts one of the finest casts in any Western, including Richard Harris, Senta Berger, James Coburn, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, R.G. Armstrong, L.Q. Jones, Silm Pickens, and more. Arrow will soon release a limited edition Blu-ray that looks stunning, but a little out of my price range unless it goes on sale. Any fan of Westerns will want to see this, either on DVD, in the limited edition Blu-ray, or the eventual standard edition. See it.

Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970) Frank Perry (Kino Lorber Blu-ray)

If I ever write a post on “Movies I Wasn’t Allowed to See as a Kid,” Diary of a Mad Housewife will be high on the list. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t see it as an eight-year-old, but I’m glad I finally saw it in my 50s. Carrie Snodgress plays Tina, a wife who’s not only dissatisfied, but overworked by her micromanaging, social-climbing husband Jonathan (Richard Benjamin). Seeking fulfillment, Tina relents to the advances of George (a young Frank Langella), a self-absorbed, cruel writer. At least he pays attention to her. Sort of. Everything converges on a massive dinner party that Jonathan believes will propel them (i.e. him) to the upper echelons of high society. This is a dark, dark comedy, often hilarious and sometimes compared to The Graduate. Some modern audiences may decide that the verbal and emotional abuse suffered by Tina is simply too much. Much has changed since then. Or has it? Carrie Snodgress earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination for her performance, but afterwards seldom landed roles worthy of her talent. She left acting for several years to live with musician Neil Young, then later film score composer Jack Nitzsche. Although she worked in theatre and television, Snodgress should’ve become a bigger star. See this film and you’ll understand why.

Topaze (1933) Harry d’Abbadie d’Arrast (Kino Lorber Blu-ray)

The great John Barrymore plays Professor Topaze, a classroom teacher who’s equal parts honest and clueless. When a wealthy baron (Reginald Mason) and his mistress (Myrna Loy) concoct a scheme using Topaze’s name, it threatens to ruin his reputation. I’m afraid I found this extremely tiresome.

Alice’s Restaurant (1969) Arthur Penn (MGM/UA DVD)

The Falcon Takes Over (1942) Irving Reis

The third film in the Falcon series takes a page from Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely, combining it with an otherwise routine mystery. Although when you’ve got George Sanders, James Gleason, and Allen Jenkins on hand, you’re bound to have a good time.

The Big Trail (1930) Raoul Walsh (Blu-ray)

Lonely Are the Brave (1962) David Miller (Kino Lorber Blu-ray)

Kirk Douglas plays Jack Burns, an old-school cowboy trying to navigate the modern (1962) world. Apparently this was one of Douglas’s favorite roles, and it’s easy to see why from this non-traditional Western. The supporting cast is stellar, featuring Gena Rowlands, Walter Matthau, Carroll O’Connor, William Schallert, George Kennedy, and Bill Raisch, the one-armed man from The Fugitive TV series.

Hell Is a City (1960) Val Guest (YouTube)

Stanley Baker is on the right side of the law this time, playing a police detective investigating the death of a young girl. Nice Brit noir co-starring Donald Pleasance.

Blackmail (1929) Alfred Hitchcock (Criterion Channel) Rewatch, 2x

I plan to discuss this one more fully for my ongoing Alfred Hitchcock Project.

Cabaret (1972) Bob Fosse (Warner DVD)

These Are the Damned (aka The Damned, 1963) Joseph Losey (Hammer Films: The Ultimate Collection Blu-ray box set, Mill Creek)

Discussed as part of my journey through the Hammer Films box set from Mill Creek.

La Collectionneuse (1967) Éric Rohmer (Criterion Channel)

I know I’m swimming upstream on this one. I thought My Night at Maud’s (1969) was utterly amazing, causing me to dwell on it long afterward, but La Collectionneuse film did nothing for me. The characters: the art dealer Adrien (Patrick Bauchau), his friend Daniel (Daniel Pommereulle) and the girl Haydée (Haydée Politoff), seem more like chess pieces than real characters. As characters, I cared for none of them. Although I didn’t care for this, I do plan to revisit it in the coming years, as well as the other Rohmer films I haven’t seen. So don’t hate me just yet.

Abandoned (1949) Joseph M. Newman (Kino Lorber Blu-ray)

When Paula Consodine (Gale Storm) travels to Los Angeles to find her missing sister, she discovers a shocking secret, with the help of newspaperman Mark Sitko (Dennis O’Keffe). I’ll cover this one in more detail as part of my look at the Kino Lorber box set Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema III.

Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972) Sergio Martino (Amazon Prime)

I really haven’t watched much giallo, but I’ve heard you must check out the films of Sergio Martino. With a title like that, it’s bound to be an attention-getting picture, and believe me, it was!

There’s Always Tomorrow (1955) Douglas Sirk (Kino Lorber Blu-ray)

I’ve really gotten interested in the films of Douglas Sirk lately, and this one is tremendous. Fred MacMurray plays a neglected husband and father who reconnects with old flame Norma Vale (Barbara Stanwyck). Miss Stanwyck rips somebody a new one in this film, but I won’t tell you who. I hope to revisit this one with a full review. It deserves it.

The Las Vegas Story (1952) Robert Stevenson (Criterion Channel)

Vincent Price can’t wait to get to Vegas with his new wife Jane Russell, but he's more attracted to gambling than Jane Russell. (Big mistake.) A likable but familiar story, made more interesting by the cast, which includes Victor Mature, Brad Dexter, Hoagy Carmichael, Jay C. Flippen, and Will Wright.

That’s going to do it for the second half of April. Please let me know what you watched and enjoyed.

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As always glad to read and watch :) about the movies you have seen. Many interesting ones that you mention and that I haven't seen. In my case, I really like Douglas Sirk movies and I have never watched There’s Always Tomorrow so that's great to know. Abandoned and Hell Is a City also sound interesting! I have been on a Ronald Colman and adventure genre, along with other movies. I should say Random Harvest, Kiss Me Deadly, The Young in Heart and Run for the Sun have been my favorites.

May 08, 2021
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Thank you, Miriam! I need to check out The Young in Heart and Run for the Sun. Thanks for the suggestions!

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