Episode 13 of ‘The Clutching Hand’

Hi, all! 🙂 Happy long weekend! (Happy Martin Luther King’s birthday weekend.)

We are up to the thirteenth episode in this sprawling crime saga very interesting movie.

So, sans further ado, here’s Episode Thirteen of The Clutching Hand!

Enjoy! 🙂

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Episode 12 of ‘The Clutching Hand’

Hi all! 🙂 Happy new year. It’s Saturday and time to watch another exciting episode of … The Clutching Hand! Hahaha …! 🙂 (how maniacal, right?)

Enjoy! And feel free to comment, like or share! 🙂

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My Review of ‘Repeat Performance’ (1947)

Hi, everyone! Today, I’m doing a film review by video, which I haven’t done in quite a while, actually. I have been putting up old ones, but this is my latest, and I will try to do this without reading or actually looking like I’m reading, which I am. I’m actually literally reading the notes, as I wrote them last night.

Repeat Performance is what I’m reviewing today from 1947, a film noir that really plays with a concept that I love, the whole concept of time travel, if you will. In a slightly different way than Doctor Who. Okay. This movie is like a cross between All About Eve and The Twilight Zone—sorta. Oh, and also Hamlet, but not really.

The movie opens on a scene in which a woman, Sheila Page (played by Joan Leslie) has apparently shot a man, her husband Barney (played by Louis Hayward). Sheila doesn’t look too happy about this. So she goes to see this producer friend, John Friday (played by Tom Conway). Okay. They’re together at the stroke of midnight. Right? (Actually, no. She’s with William Williams, kind of a nutter an eccentric poet.) So then, Sheila wishes she could go back in time to the previous year.

Sheila
Fine. That’s what I’d like to do with the year I’ve just lived. Rewrite it, play it over again. But I can’t, it’s too late.

William Williams
Yeah, Sheila. It’s too late.

Sheila
People do live things over. Haven’t you ever entered a strange room, William, and felt that you’d been there before? You knew it was impossible, yet everything in the room looked familiar. Hasn’t that ever happened to you, William?

She turns to look, but he’s not there.

Sheila
William!
(beat)
William, where are you?!

The music rises. Sheila glances about, freaks out a bit.

Sheila
(whispered)
Where are you?

Music plays, as Sheila creeps down the hallway.

Narrator
William won’t answer. William is gone. He was there just a moment ago, but in that moment, time stopped for Sheila.

AND SCENE! 🙂

And she magically gets her wish. I won’t tell you all the gory details. Besides that would spoil the whole thing, honest! But I will say that it has a really interesting convoluted plot in the sense that here’s this woman who goes back to try to change a thing and something else happens that ruins her attempt to change it. And it’s a, well, it’s a film noir.

So, anyway, I guess let’s just say that even with the best intentions, there’s only so much that one person can control about where they’ll end up in life. That’s what I wrote and it’s film noir. So you can just imagine.

Okay. And by the way, it was so cool to see Mrs. Howell, aka Natalie Schafer in there playing the somewhat domineering Patroness of the Arts, dahling! 🙂 Oh, Mr. Howell! Lovey! 🙂

That’s it. Thanks. And I’ll talk to you later. Maybe? 🙂

ADDENDUM:

Yes. I forgot to mention why I mentioned Hamlet. It’s because there’s a play within the movie. That’s pretty much it. That and the fact that there’s so much meta stuff going on, so much commenting on actors, movies, plays, producing, writing, and there’s kind of a hint of A Star is Born in there. If you see the movie, you’ll understand why. I won’t go into that, because that’s revealing too much. I’ve already said too much. Right? Right.

Okay. I’ll talk to you later. Bye. See ya. 🙂

Posted in 1940s Films, Film Noir, Movie Reviews, Video | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The Saturday Matinee: Year-End Special

We interrupt our usual programming to bring you my Special Year in Review video!

This went up right before the New Year started!

Hope you enjoy it! 🙂

And guess what one of my goals is for 2022! To make a short movie! 🙂

I’m looking forward to that. I’ve only been working up to this for more than ten years. 🙂

Check out a short video I made a while back, using only royalty-free stock footage and music! For all you fans of The Maltese Falcon. The book, that is. 🙂

The previously untold story of Mrs. Flitcraft! Based (loosely) on the Flitcraft Parable.

PLUS!

From the folks who brought you The Slumgullion!

Please come back next week, when we’ll pick up with Episode 12 or 13 resume our regularly-scheduled programming!

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Episode 11 of ‘The Clutching Hand’

Good day and merry Christmas to those who celebrate that holiday. And, along with this week’s episode, I’m including a bit of musical holiday cheer. I like music. What can I say? 🙂

In any case, here’s Episode Eleven of The Clutching Hand!

Plus some holiday cheer! 🙂

PS: I just found this! It features Andy Wolverton, one of the librarians who moderate the movie discussion group I participate in online! A slightly belated gift guide for noiristas. 🙂

PPS: Happen to run across one of the most noir shorts I’ve ever seen here. But it made me laugh! And it’s practically a tutorial on how to make a short film.

Warning: This is not a holiday movie. 🙂 Once seen, you can’t unsee it.

Plus one of the best short stories I’ve read lately about growing old and generations and stuff.

PPPS: Happy holidays! 🙂 Feel free to air your grievances!

Posted in 1930s Films, Crime Movies, Public Domain Movies, Saturday Matinee, Serial, Web Series | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Lawyers Talk About ‘My Cousin Vinny’ (1992)

As part of what I hope to make a series of videos on the depiction of lawyers and the law in movies, I had a recent discussion with a Maryland criminal defense attorney about one of his favorite legal movies, My Cousin Vinny.

This movie actually does a great job of depicting aspects of practicing law you don’t usually see on film, albeit with the expected level of exaggeration inherent to making movies.

Check out Brad’s thoughts as a criminal trial attorney and a movie fan! 🙂

Posted in 1990s Movies, Comedy, Film Analysis, Legal Movies | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Episode 10 of ‘The Clutching Hand’

Hang onto your hats, everyone! The next episode of this film is ready to roll!

Feast your eyes on Episode Ten of The Clutching Hand! (Ha ha ha … maniacal laughter!)

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My Mixed Feelings About ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

The first time I saw this movie, as far as I can recall (since it’s been a long, long time), my feelings about it were generally positive. For one thing, the movie is about an ordinary fellow who basically saves a town, despite the machinations of a much wealthier man. It was the kind of movie that played on the David and Goliath theme. The Powerful Man tries to ruin the Little Guy, who ends up realizing he’s wealthy in ways the powerful man never will be.

It’s also a typical example of “Capra-corn”, a sentimental cinematic style that extolled the virtues of the common man that some dismissed as saccharine. Which at the time, I was okay with, even if it did seem to go a bit over the top now and then.

In It’s a Wonderful Life, it’s obvious that our society (as represented by the town of Bedford Falls) is far from completely egalitarian. Nonetheless, despite the large disparity in their assets and social standing, George Bailey (our protagonist) comes out the winner in the end.

When I was much younger, I kind of accepted all this at face value. Naturally, George Bailey was the better person. Of course, having friends was better than being a lonely millionaire. But I didn’t look much deeper into the film’s assumptions and the social mores considered acceptable at that time.

However, the more I watched this film, the more depressing I found it with each viewing.

Almost from the start, we learn that George wants to travel. He wants to see the world. A feeling I can deeply understand, as I’m a fan of travel and have also dreamed of visiting other countries. But, unlike George, have been fortune enough to manage it, now and then.

But then along comes Mary, who through a series of scenes ends up practically being shoved into George Bailey’s arms. Not literally, of course. I’m talking about the circumstances and everyone’s assumption that the two of them are meant to be together, which is made so obvious by the opening scene featuring young George, young Mary, and young Violet (who’s so obviously destined to be the Town Slut).

So the two of them go to a dance, fall in a pool, and have a talk while dripping wet about lassoing the moon. Then, some old guy spying on them from his porch yells at George. Something to the effect of, “What are you waiting for? Kiss her already!”

Well, obviously, he simply must marry her. And they simply must have children. And when George tries his best to take a trip to anywhere else, his plans are foiled by such disasters as a run on the bank—Bailey Brothers Building and Loan.

So there’s the bank and the town and Mary and the kids to think of. Not to mention his dear, sweet Mama, now that Bailey Senior has passed on, leaving the bank in George’s capable hands, with help from the not-so-capable Uncle Billy.

Eventually, I came to see this inspiring and heartwarming holiday movie as having undertones of tragedy. It seemed to me that George was living according to everyone else’s expectations about him, rather than a life he truly chose.

However now, having gained a few more years experience (both with movies and living, in general), I can see there’s more to this picture than promotion of societal mores and people’s expectations.

At its heart, the movie is about the difference one person can make. The fact that, but for George’s intervention, his brother, Harry, would’ve died by drowning. (And we all know that Harry practically won World War II single-handedly was an honored veteran.) There are also the early scenes, in which George saved the town pharmacist by alerting him to his mistake in filling a prescription. If George hadn’t existed, his career would have been ruined. This is all assuming no one else would have noticed the pharmacist’s error, saved Harry, or done any number of things. But, in the interest of not driving you crazy with a lawyer’s logic on all that, let’s assume George truly is the key to everyone else’s good fortune.

Unfortunately, because Uncle Billy is an idiot likes to brag too much is a moron, he accidentally leaves a large amount of cash with the Big Bad Rich Guy, Mr. Potter, who pockets it with glee. This leads George ultimately to a very bad night seeking the money and begging Potter for a loan. Naturally, Potter denies to loan, adding in as an aside that, given his life insurance, George would be better off dead.

And so George considers taking his own life, but is stopped from doing so by Clarence the Angel, who is actually the first character to appear in the movie—technically. It is Clarence who walks George through the Christmas Carol-like scenario of Life Without George Bailey. And the horrors of the place formerly known as Bedford Falls and now called Potterville.

Image via BFI

In Potterville, basically everyone George once knew has become a grumpy asshole, because life in their town sucks now. And the “loose woman” Violet (played more-than-ably by Gloria Grahame) is turning tricks or whatever horrible thing she does to get by. (And, by the way, I’ve never liked the way Violet’s depicted in this film. So, she likes guys. Oh, how very awful! For shame!)

“Yeah, yeah. I’m a slut. Whatta about it?” (Image via Suggesting Movie)

But the worst fate of all is reserved for Mary, who is relegated to spinster status. A spinster who works at … wait for it … the library! OMG!

I suppose my feelings about the film have mellowed somewhat over time. I get it. George Bailey is essentially a surrogate for all of us who feel ordinary and possibly somewhat less than fulfilled on occasion.

What saves the movie for me is its emphasis on how much George really made a difference, even if he couldn’t see it. That gives me a weird kind of hope somehow.

Image via The Deliberate Agrarian

I also really believe he is the richest man in town. Having a successful friend who bails you out when you hit a rough patch kinda helps, but hey—choose your friends wisely, I suppose. Even if they do say annoying things like, “See you in funnies! Hee haw!” way, way too much.

Click here for 25 Wonderful Facts About It’s a Wonderful Life! 🙂

Here’s one of many quotes from the movie!

Submitted as part of the It’s a Wonderful Life blogathon and 75th anniversary celebration hosted by The Classic Movie Muse!

Posted in 1940s Films, Blogathan, Classic Movies, Drama, Film Analysis, Holiday Movies | Tagged , , , , | 27 Comments

Episode Nine of ‘The Clutching Hand’

Hi there! 🙂 We’re actually more than halfway through this series, so hang in there, okay? 🙂

And get ready for Episode Nine of The Clutching Hand!

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Episode Eight of ‘The Clutching Hand’

If you’re reading this for the first time, don’t worry. You can catch Episodes One through Seven through a link on YouTube.

Just open the video up on YouTube and look for the little notices at the start and finish of this installment! Click on the first to see the previous episode and the second to see all the previous episodes from the start. 🙂

Now, get ready for Episode Eight of The Clutching Hand!

Enjoy! 🙂

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