Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Little Kitty, Big City (Switch)

Although I’m personally not the biggest Nintendo fan, their Nintendo Directs have made me aware of some interesting third-party games for their platforms. Such was the case with Little Kitty, Big City, which I first heard about through their 2023 Indie World presentation, thanks to its art direction and atmosphere. Though I played a demo of the game on PC through Steam and enjoyed it, I intended to play the full game on console, which I did when it launched for the Switch due to it having a reduced launch price on there compared with the Xbox Series X. I then got to playing the game as soon as I could, finding it overall fun in the short time it lasted.

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Stubs - Pushover

Pushover (1954) starring Fred MacMurray, Phil Carey, Kim Novak, Dorothy Malone, E.G. Marshall Directed by Richard Quine. Screenplay by Roy Huggins Based on the novel The Night Watch by Thomas Walsh (New York, 1952) and the novel Rafferty by William S. Ballinger (New York, 1953).  Produced by Jules Schermer. Black and White. Run time: 88 minutes. USA. Film Noir, Detective, Drama

While it’s not unheard of, it is still interesting when a movie is based on two sources. In the case of Pushover, the film is based on the novels The Night Watch by Thomas Walsh and Rafferty by William S. Ballinger, even though neither book received onscreen credit.

Even though the film starred Fred MacMurray, an established star, the film’s low budget required a less expensive actress as the female lead. The choice was Kim Novak, a little-known actress who, despite the “Introducing,” label attached to her name, had appeared in small roles (billed under her real name, Marilyn Novak) in earlier RKO productions The French Line (1953) and Son of Sinbad (1953, released 1955). When she signed with Columbia, CEO Harry Cohen wanted to change her name, but Novak would only agree to changing her first to Kim.

Producer Jules Schermer summed up his lead actress, "Kim was not an actress when we started shooting. The face was beautiful. The body was great. She photographed sensationally. But she couldn’t show any emotion. So, we kept her dialogue to a minimum. When you can’t act, you react — which is what we counted on."

The film’s production took about a month, from January 16 to February 13, 1954. Working titles for this film included The Killer Wore a Badge, 322 French Street and The Night Watch. The film premiered on July 30, 1954 as Pushover.

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Stubs - The Guardsman

The Guardsman (1931) Starring: Alfred Lunt, Lynn Fontanne, Roland Young. Directed by Sidney Franklin Screenplay by Ernest Vajda Based on the play Testör by Ferenc Molnár (Budapest, 1911). Produced by Albert Lewin (Supervising Producer). Run time: 83 minutes. USA Black and White. Comedy, Drama.

Things don’t always work out as planned. That’s as true today as it was back in 1931, when Irving Thalberg wanted to add husband and wife Broadway actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne to the growing stable of MGM stars. To this end, he brought them out west to recreate their 1924 Broadway hit play The Guardsman on film.

The Guardsman went into production on June 25, 1931 and completed on July 23rd. Made on a budget of $374,000, it was released on November 7, 1931.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Stubs - Speedway

Speedway (1929) Starring William Haines, Anita Page, Ernest Torrence, Karl Dane, John Miljan. Directed by Harry Beaumont. Story by Byron Morgan. Adapted by Alfred Block, Ann Price, Byron Morgan. Producer (None Credited). USA Black and White. Run time 82 minutes. Silent, Melodrama            .

The Indianapolis 500 has been the subject of several films. The Crowd Roars (1932), and its remake, Indianapolis Speedway (1939) may be more famous but one of the first was Speedway (1929), which came at the end of the silent era. In fact, it is noted as William Haines last such film.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Stubs - The Secret Six


The Secret Six (1931) Starring: Wallace Beery, Lewis Stone, John Mack Brown Directed by George Hill. Screenplay by Frances Marion. Producer: Irving Thalberg. Run time: 83 minutes. USA Black and White. Drama. Gangster.

1931 seems to be the beginning of the gangster genre in Hollywood with the release of three films that sort of set the standards for the genre: Scarface, Little Caesar and The Public Enemy. Not wanting to be left out of the trend, MGM released their first such film that same year, The Secret Six.

According to Variety, writing about the film at the time it was being made, several elements of this film are traceable to actual gangster activities of the time and about a group of rich vigilantes who helped take down mobsters in 1930’s Chicago. While the film is not hailed by critics the way the other three films were, The Secret Six is notable for other reasons. The film marks the debut of actor Ralph Bellamy and the rise of both Clark Gable and Jean Harlow on their way towards stardom.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Stubs - The Sin of Nora Moran

The Sin of Nora Moran (1933) Starring Zita Johann, Alan Dinehart, Paul Cavanagh, Claire DuBrey, John Miljan. Directed by Phil Goldstone. Screenplay by Frances Hyland. Based on a play by Willis Maxwell Goodhue (production undetermined). Produced by Phil Goldstone Run time: 62 min. USA. Black and White Mystery, Pre-code, Proto-noir

You don’t hear the term “narratage” much anymore. It was a word coined by the Fox Films Publicity Department to describe the story-telling technique utilized in The Power and the Glory (1933) starring Spencer Tracy and Colleen Moore, written by Preston Sturges, his first screenplay, and directed by William K. Howard. The film, told through flashbacks which were narrated, was cited by Pauline Kael in her essay "Raising Kane", as a prototype for the narrative structure of Citizen Kane (1941). It would also be a technique used in film noir.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Stubs - Second Look - Let It Be

Let it Be (1970, re-released 2024) starring John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr. Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg Produced by Neil Aspinall Run time: 88 minutes (originally 80 minutes) Color, United Kingdom, Music, Documentary

Having waited nearly 50 years to rewatch Let It Be, your first reaction may very well be, what was all the fuss about? There is a mythology surrounding the film, perhaps more to do with what had happened soon before its release in May 1970, The Beatles' breakup, rather than what actually happens in the film itself.

Having more recently seen the longer, Peter Jackson version, Get Back, it is hard not to compare the two. The original film was intended to be a television documentary about The Beatles doing their first live concert since the Cow Palace on August 29, 1966. The film turned into a documentary of the group working, but still ended with a live performance, the unannounced, free, rooftop concert on January 30, 1969.