Monday, May 22, 2017

7 Days in May | Noir Vincent Price and Monster Summer Camp

The Web (1947)

I don't know if this is blasphemous, but I like Noir Vincent Price better than Horror Vincent Price. He's great in Laura, even better in His Kind of Woman, and now I have The Web to admire him in. There's a bunch of others that I haven't seen yet, so I'm making a list. If you have more to recommend, please do:

Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
Shock (1946)
The Long Night (1947)
Moss Rose (1947)
The Bribe (1949)
The Las Vegas Story (1952)
Dangerous Mission (1954)
While the City Sleeps (1956)

Price is delicious in The Web, but he's not the only one. This was my first Ella Raines movie and I'll be seeking out more of her stuff as well. It's a great thriller in which a naive lawyer (Edmond O'Brien) is suckered by a wealthy businessman (Price) into committing murder. That's a bit of a spoiler, but O'Brien figures it out quickly and most of the film focuses on how he's going to prove his innocence. William Bendix steals every scene he's in as the lead detective on the case. He reminds me of John Favreau in a really good way: serious, but kind of goofy and totally likeable.

Raines plays Price's secretary and I like the dilemma that she's in as she starts to trust O'Brien and distrust Price. O'Brien's character is horribly sexist - assuming, for starters, that she got her job simply because she's gorgeous - but the movie kind of steers into that by explaining that he's also really socially awkward. It doesn't excuse some of the things that come out of his mouth, but I like that it offers a reason for them beyond "1947."

Lethal Weapon (1987)

This has been on the list to show David for years, but it got bumped up a few months ago when we watched Silverado. David mostly knows Gibson from Braveheart, so there's a lot of catching up to do on that filmography.

I hadn't seen Lethal Weapon in decades, so I was pleased to see how much it holds up. I'd forgotten a couple of important plot twists, so the story kept me interested, but mostly it's about Gibson's performance as possibly-crazy Martin Riggs. There's some damn good acting in there. And of course his relationship with Glover's Roger Murtaugh, which provides much needed relief from the palpable grief surrounding Gibson's character.

Father of the Bride (1991)

I'm trying to remember why I finally pulled the trigger and bought this, but I'm glad I did. I think maybe we were talking about Martin Short or BD Wong and I realized that David needed to meet Franck Eggelhoffer and Howard Weinstein. Especially Howard Weinstein.

But even though theirs are the biggest performances in the movie, they're not the most important or best ones. I'd forgotten how much I love late-'80s-era Steve Martin (which this fits into more naturally than '90s-era Martin). He's right in the sweet spot between the desperate craziness of his early years and the melancholy of his later stuff. He's confident, he's physical... Watching this makes me want to revisit Roxanne and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles immediately.

And the rest of the cast is great, too. Diane Keaton doesn't have a ton to do, but she's exactly what the movie needs to balance out Martin's overreactions. And Kimberly Williams is lovely as someone torn between excitement about the next stage of life and fear of leaving the previous one behind. The movie focuses on Martin's character, but never forgets that there are other, real people making the journey with him.

Camp Midnight by Steven Seagle and Jason Katzenstein

I'm a big fan of Steven Seagle, monsters, and stories about summer camp. Camp Midnight helped me understand why I like the last two so much: they're both about outsiders and the struggle to fit in. Seagle and Katzenstein are insightful and entertaining about why that can be so hard.

Jam of the Week: "Don't Take the Money" by Bleachers

Sometimes you just need a big anthem that you can scream along to. Even better when it's a reminder to not sell out, but stick with your passions. Even more better when the video is funny.


Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

Father of the Bride has been on my list for awhile but only because the boyfriend, George Newburn, was also the voice of Superman in Justice League Unlimited and ... well not much else, do I've wanted to see what inspired his choice for that big role.

Michael May said...

I should've mentioned him, too. I really like him.

He was also in Adventures in Babysitting and I like him there, too.


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