Thursday, May 28, 2009

I like movies, except when I don't

I've been on a movie kick lately, because my beloved laptop has gone tits up and there's nothing else to do in the living room except watch movies. And when I say "movie kick", I mean more than the normal 20-odd movies I watch per month. The problem, though, is that I've recorded a bunch of movies that suck on toast.

Well, let me back up: I haven't watched the entire movie in most cases, so the film may actually not suck on toast. It may be brilliant. Perhaps these films include giant mechanical spiders, which automatically elevate any boring old movie to genius level. That was Orson Welles' big secret, you know. Giant mechanical spiders. They always stole the scene from Joseph Cotten, which is why he eventually went mad and invented Cherry Garcia ice cream. But I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

These are the films I've recently been unable to finish, some because they might, perhaps, just maybe, suck out loud:

1. Danger Lights (1930) - I should have known that this was going to blow when I saw in the opening credits that Hugh "Captain Mumblypants" Herbert was the fucking dialogue director for this film. Come on, people. Hugh Herbert? The mumblemumbleWOOWOO guy? I actually wrote down a couple of things Alan Roscoe said in this film, which I think you'll enjoy: "Whine on you mumpus menargh!" and "What is the shoe doo, bupuko bakah?" Great job directing the dialogue, Hugh! Alan Roscoe doesn't sound like he's speaking in tongues at all.

Of course, I turned up the volume, as people are wont to do when they can't hear shit. Too bad that every spar
e moment between lines of dialogue was packed to the gills with train sounds. Loud, stroke-inducing, teeth-grinding, pillow-punching train sounds. I gave up after 25 minutes. Maybe you will, too: the movie is here on

2. Within Our
Gates (1920) - I only stopped watching because my ding dang DVD got full and didn't record the last half. Very disappointing.

3. Love In the Rough (1930) - I recorded an epic buttload of Robert Montgomery movies a few months ago, and found nearly all intolerable. Of the three films I tried to watch, this was the worst. "Their Own Desire" (1929) was decent enough, despite the fact that the film is not 100% Norma Shearer free, and I made it through that one in its entirety. The next film was "The Easiest Way" (1931), which I'd seen a long time ago and liked quite a bit. The 3rd film, though, was "Love in the Rough", one of those snooze-inducing late-20s stage plays with a ridiculous premise and a sidekick that's supposed to be funny but is really annoying. Like, pluck your eyes out and stuff them in your ears kinds of annoying.

4. Guilty Hands (1931) - I finished this one by judicious use of the fast forward button, stopping only for the luscious Kay Francis. I won't tell you what the super secret trick ending was, but for whatever reason, I saw it coming a mile away. Even though it was stupid. So stupid I yelled at Lionel Barrymore, "Why you so stupid, Stupid?" But he flipped me off and made "The Devil-Doll" just to make me cry. Bastard.

5. Menace (1934) - Okay, this is kind of funny. A friend of mine let me "borrow" some movies, one of which was supposed to be "The Menace" (1932). Instead he sent me "Menace" (1934), which is another one of those early stage-to-film murder mysteries, a genre I had just sworn off of for a little while. I'm being stalked by an entire film genre! It's not a bad movie, really, but I've seen so many that I always know what's going to happen, even when the movie allegedly has a ton of twists and turns. It's my keen mind. No, for serious, I should have been all like a detective and shit.

"Menace" starred Gertrude Michael, pictured here in lovely art deco glory.

Note that neither "Within Our Gates" nor Gertrude Michael were given toasts. There is a reason for this, but it's very cryptic and complicated and, quite frankly, you'd never understand it.


  1. Thank you!! Hugh Herbert is one of the worst things to pop up in a classic film EVER.. As soon as you see his name in the credits (dialogue coach, acting or elsewhere) you know there will be trouble. I feel the same way about Walter Catlett, too. I haven't seen Love in the Rough in a while, but isn't the sidekick like a Hugh Herbert wannabe? That could explain it..

  2. Honesty is such a lonely word...
    It's true, sometimes we elevate classics because of their age when they are just mediocre.
    Nice screengrab from Devil Doll, that movie was made by Lionel Barrymore in drag!
    next time "On Borrowed Time" comes on Turner I have to watch it again...

  3. Sorry 'bout your electronical goin' tango uniform - the clever Chinese chaps who beat my Toshiba back into shape a few months back saved me from a herd of mediocrity on the tube, and that's a near miss I don't need to repeat. I had an urge to record whatever was coming down the pike, but I resisted - just 'cause it's on TCM don't mean a thing.

  4. Kate, you're right, the sidekick in "Love in the Rough" was a cross between Hugh Herbert and Eddie Cantor.

    Tommy, I wish I could take credit for the picture, but it's a crop from one of Dr Macro's terrific pictures. I could spend all day on his site.

    Vanwall, if I'm not careful, I DO tape everything on TCM. That's how I end up with movies I've seen before, and a pile of films that I can't remember a thing about. One of the movies I was going to watch was "Dark House", the early talkie horror film, but it turned out to be "Dark Horse", the Bette Davis film. I'm irresponsible with my DVR.