Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lonesome Coyotes, Suffering Centipedes, and More!

Cinefest 32 Day 1

Football 40 Years Ago (1931) is a pleasant enough short that started things off on a light note. Glenn "Pop" Warner gives us a cheeky demonstration of football styles old and new (for 1931). The wigs and fake moustaches are perfect. ***

Hello Out There (1949) is a late James Whale short based on a one-act play by William Saroyan. It feels like a one-act play. The dialogue and emotions are heightened. All of the action takes place in one room. It's no end of talky. The visuals, though, are pure Whale. ***

Wife Trouble (1928) is a deliciously funny short about a businessman working on his wife's birthday. He's forgotten to buy his wife a gift. Luckily, the lingerie saleswoman appears at the office and models possible gifts. The wife arrives at the office. Hijinks ensue. ****

Bell Boy 13 (1923) is an uneven comedy about a young man trying to marry without his (guardian) uncle's approval. There are some great moments, including a riotous "Bolshevik" uprising in a hotel. ***

Bad Company (1931) was directed by Tay Garnett, a man I know nothing about except that he directed one of my favorite surprises from last year, Trade Winds. Bad Company builds its story slowly, starting with a treacly romance, followed by some almost Dick Tracy level gangsterisms, finished spectacularly in an unexpectedly violent showdown. ***

Lunch was a couple of granola bars, a glass of water, and an hour in the dealers' room.

I skipped Ray Faiola's Trailer Mania Show IV after lunch. I probably shouldn't have skipped it, but I did.

Matchmaking Mamma (1928) had the hands-down funniest moments of the day. The whole thing is available on YouTube. Go find it there and weep over what you are missing at Cinefest. ****

The Forbidden Trail (1923) is a surprisingly enjoyable Western. I was waffling over it, ready to damn it with faint praise by calling it serviceable, then the wild, exciting ending happened. The hero rushes the villain as the villain is firing a rifle at him. A powder cellar explodes. The villain is tied up by another bad guy and left in a house set on fire. The hero and the villain engage in a sword fight (the hero wielding a fire poker against the villain's sword). The bad guy that set the house on fire steals the girl, some horses, and a wagon and flees. The hero rescues the girl. The wagon and the bad guy tumble off of a cliff into a river, but the man survives and continues to flee in a found canoe. The hero rides his horse down the side of a steep cliff (!) into the river (!) and wrestles the bad man out of the canoe and beats him into submission! Seriously over-the-top action fun! ****

Helen of Four Gates (1920) is a ridiculously stupid melodrama. **

Red Salute (1935) is the surprise hit of the day for me. Featuring just another one of Jeffrey's crushes, the compelling Barbara Stanwyk, the film is a madcap Red Scare Romance. It's got the standard hate-each-other-until-we-love-each-other RomCom formula. This would also be pure Americanism jingoism propaganda if it weren't for the fact that the soldier character gets away with crazy crimes that would have any man court-martialed. Maybe this is all part of the whole good ol' boy mentality, winking at our own sins while condemning others. I don't know. I only know that I enjoyed the zaniness here. ****

N.Y., N.Y. (1957) is an abstract appreciation of NYC. Purely visual delights. ***

Crashing Hollywood (1931) is a bit of a dud, but the moment of a fake Buster Keaton kicking a fake Charlie Chaplin in the face is worth the entire short running time. ***

Howard Hughes Multicolor Demonstration Reel was just something to sit through. Interesting biplane footage.

The Street of Forgotten Men (1925) is a look at bowery life, focusing on one huckster's struggle to rise above as he raises a dead prostitute's daughter. I was too tired to properly appreciate this. The fake blind man vs. fake one-armed man fistfight may have been the highlight. The ending jerked half a fake tear out of me. ***

That's it. I'm calling it a day. More tomorrow.

No comments: