Archive for Warner Bros

Moonshot

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on September 16, 2020 by dcairns

So, yeah, this is appalling.

Howard S. Moss only made five films, per the IMDb, from 1916 to 1930, but that can’t be right. He must have done more, or else had some other way of making a living… maybe he did commercials? Can you imagine these foul, racist homunculi compelling you to buy washing powder? I bet they could be very persuasive, crawling under your sheets at night to whisper jingles in your ear as you slept.

The animation here strikes me as OK, the character design grotesque, apart from the poor (and nameless) black kid who keeps getting mown down by jalopies — he actually has some appeal, though there’s racism in his design as well as his role in the story. This is the work of a man who hates kids on some deep, sub-basement level. Probably animation wasn’t the best career choice, Howard.

The scenery’s good. The warped buildings, funhouse mirrorworld architecture, connect by occult means to the Fleischer Bros cheese dreams of the same era, and the whole thing does feel authentically NOCTURNAL.

It doesn’t make sense to me at all as a music video for “Hearts and Flowers” though I guess Warner Brothers, in their usual synergetic way, were hoping to sell sheet music off it. It also doesn’t make narrative sense to me. It’s just a bunch of stuff, ending with some thinning puppet destroying the moon with a shotgun. Why? Is there some suggestion that the moon fiddled with his underage daughter? That doesn’t seem appropriate to this genre, whatever it’s supposed to be. Still, given all that’s preceded it, I was surprised he didn’t just up and shoot the black kid.

Chez Chiz

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on July 14, 2020 by dcairns

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Over at The Chiseler, I have a few thoughts inspired by viewing David Landau in BEDSIDE.

Here.

You can also read a brand new translation by super-Shadowplayer Phoebe Green.

Here.

And more!

Doctor, Lawyer, Beggar Man, Thief

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2020 by dcairns

With a nod to Tom Waits’ Heart Attack and Vine, I conceived the idea of a Warren William Weekend Quadruple Feature — Since pre-code Warner Bros were in the process of producing a Mighty Tapestry of works documenting every aspect of American life, it’s easy to find any of their stars in roles embodying the roles Waits sings of. One could make the same series with William Powell, with a little studio-hopping (THE EX-MRS. BRADFORD, LAWYER MAN, MY MAN GODFREY, JEWEL THIEF), to name one.

Warren W. appears in BEDSIDE, THE MOUTHPIECE, THE MIND READER and THE DARK HORSE — I’ve had to stretch the definition of “beggar man” considerably, though — I would LOVE to see WW playing a shabby-genteel hobo, but I have to settle for a high society psychic, a profession that relates to sideshow charlatanry, but it’s definitely a cheat. On the other hand, for “thief” we could have had any of the LONE WOLF films and several others. The main reason for the exercise was to look at BEDSIDE again in the company of THE MOUTHPIECE, which I’d never seen… My suspicion was that they’d be basically the same film.

David Landau appears in losing hand of cards.

Not so! Although of course both have WW in rogue mode. Both are tales of sinners redeemed. But in BEDSIDE (Robert Florey), he’s so disgustingly corrupt (in a charming way) that his ultimate escape from any consequences for his actions as a phony doc — the medical profession closes ranks to avoid a scandal — comes off (and may have been sneakily intended) as satire. Whereas THE MOUTHPIECE ends on a stunningly ambiguous note — will WW pay the ultimate price for his misdeeds?

It’s hilarious to me that THE MOUTHPIECE shows our perennial rogue quitting the DA’s office in a fit of ethical revulsion after accidentally sending an innocent man to the electric chair, and then becoming, in reaction, a mob lawyer. Corruption awaits him in every direction, he just happens to fall into it. He saves J. Carroll Naish AND Jack La Rue, that’s how bad he is. He also has Aline McMahon as secretary/better angel, which is a sure sign of a man with a troubled conscience — see also FIVE STAR FINAL.

Both films have very good hangover scenes — WW had that slicked back hair — ruffle him, and a shaggy squid wafts loose its tendrils.

I can’t absolutely decide if the daringly open ending of MOUTHPIECE — there are strong indications that our hero will (a) die and (b) live — as the end title fades up he’s a virtual Schrödinger’s shyster — is the result of cunning or fumbling. The film has several writers and two directors (Elliott Nugent and James Flood). Did they all get together and come up with something clever, or all fight each other and come up with something muddled? The result is really interesting, whatever the process.

WW also lawyers up as Perry Mason, four times, and in James Whale’s WIVES UNDER SUSPICION, where his DA has an abacus of little skulls documenting/celebrating each killer he’s sent to the chair.