Archive for Bette Davis

Here’s Hough

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2019 by dcairns

 

Fiona had a wee hospital thing yesterday which involved a very early start for both of us. While recuperating, she watched ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN, RETURN FROM WITCH MOUNTAIN and THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS, all directed by John Hough for Disney. After we bailed on the HERBIE quadrilogy when it looked like HERBIE GOES BANANAS wasn’t going to be edifying.

Hough certainly had talent, and an odd career that would see him making the Disney fantasies alongside paranormal rape flicks THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE and THE INCUBUS. But WATCHER may be his scariest film, aided by atmospheric locations, committed performances from Bette Davis and Ian Bannen in particular, and some really effective jump scares. And yeah, I know we’re all meant to be too big and mature for jump scares now, and I know they’ve been done to death, but… these are really good.

This UFO from the first WITCH MOUNTAIN is engraved in my memory. I’m old enough to just recall the old days of cinema-going: the family would rock up at the Odeon or ABC at any old time, and walk in on the end or middle of a movie, then watch through a whole double feature until we got back to where we began. So I saw the ending of this movie first, and its the one bit I recall.

Fiona was horrified to hear I experienced the cinema in this chaotic way. She always saw movies from beginning to end, like a person.

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London Calling

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on December 12, 2018 by dcairns

As I get ready to leave London, a late (last) entry in this year’s Late Movies Blogathon graces our screens, via Pamela Hutchinson of Silent London, no less. THE WHALES OF AUGUST is a final film for two of its players and its director, and a penultimate film for another. It perfectly captures the bittersweet sense of journey’s end that this blogathon attempts to get at.

Bette’s buttocks

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2018 by dcairns

THE BRIDE CAME C.O.D. is a rambunctious pseudo-screwball, with Bette Davis as flighty heiress and James Cagney as supposedly amiable tough guy, the attempted lightness knocked flying by rambunctious Warner Bros slapstick, the whole movie seemingly targeted at the Davis derriere, undignified recipient of cacti (three times) and catapults (twice). We barely escape the obligatory spanking scene. You marvel at scenarists the Epstein brothers’ ability to resist having Cagney crash his plane into her arse.

Cagney is rendered so obnoxious that the main interest becomes how they can possibly sell a romance, but credit to the writers and actors, they actually manage it, a feat comparable to getting Eugene Pallette airborne, which also happens. William THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER Keighley directs, somehow, with Max Steiner braying in his ear the whole time, his score a Loony Tunes medley of famous themes, which you can distract yourself by naming — once named, each one reveals itself as wholly inappropriate, which never happened in the cartoons. “Oh, Susanna”? But we’re in California!

Max even gets to mickeymouse the sound of cactus spines being extracted from Bette’s bum, which I suppose was a novelty for him. Bette’s declaration of “Either I’m coming down this staircase or Max Steiner is!” is herein answered. Max Steiner is coming down this staircase.

The filmmaking has what they call gusto (nice montages, but we don’t know who did them — Siegel?).

Another first — trailing on the end of that miniature parachute is a miniature Bette. Can’t think of another film where she was rendered as a marionette. It looks to have been tiny. I wonder how detailed?