’50s Monster Mash Blogathon: 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)

Image Source: MovieGoods

Synopsis: An American astronaut (William Hopper) is rescued by fishermen when his ship crash lands in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Sicily. Later that day, a local boy (Bart Braverman) finds a curious organic artifact on the beach and sells it to a visiting zoologist (Frank Puglia) on a trip to Sicily with his granddaughter (Joan Taylor). Soon, the object reveals itself to be an egg, out of which hatches a tiny and strange creature. But the alien doesn’t stay small for long, growing at an incredibly rapid rate. The monster escapes the confines of the zoologist’s cage and flees into the countryside. With the Italian police force on its trail trying to protect humanity and the American Army trying to recover their valuable scientific specimen, what fate awaits this monster on this planet where he was never meant to be?

This is an official entry in Forgotten Classic of Yesteryear’s ’50s Monster Mash Blogathon, a truly fantastic event celebrating the joy, pleasure and pain of 1950s monster movies from around the world. Organized by Nathanael Hood, this blogathon spans from today until August 2, and with forty talented bloggers pledged to participate, a fun and wacky time is sure to be had by all. Please click the banner to view some of the contributions, and keep checking back on Forgotten Classics as the contributions roll in all week long.

First of all, sincerest apologies to Nate for the lateness of this review! Dealing with a lot of illness and business ’round these parts, not to mention planning a trip out of town and a possible move out of town after that. I’m going to keep my intro brief so that I actually have some chance of getting this post up before the day is through. 20 Million Miles to Earth was directed by Nathan Juran for Columbia Pictures for the sole purpose of displaying the incredible, jaw-dropping, still-as-of-yet-unparalleled stop-motion animation effects talents of the legendary Ray Harryhausen. While a lot of the film seems quite low-budget, Harryhausen, as always, shocks and awes. Come take a trip with me into this monster movie classic, this B-grade gem, this long long journey… 20 Million Miles to Earth!

Warning: This is a Full Recap review, meaning it includes screencaps and commentary on the film in its entirety. Therefore, it is much longer than a regular review, and spoilers are pretty much guaranteed. (more…)

Rebel Without A Cause (1955)

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Synopsis: Troubled youth Jim Stark (James Dean) is on the run from his past. His domineering mother (Ann Doran) and hen-pecked father (Jim Backus) have left Jim confused about how to be a man. Jim’s mother thinks all her son’s problems will be solved when they move to a new town and transfer Jim to a new high school. There Jim meets Judy (Natalie Wood), a nice girl who runs with a bad crowd and is aching for someone to love her for who she really is. He also meets Plato (Sal Mineo), a sensitive and unpopular boy with absentee parents who is yearning for guidance and acceptance. Unfortunately, Jim also meets Buzz (Corey Allen) and the gang, who do everything they can to provoke Jim into falling back into his old habits. Then something goes horribly wrong, and Jim must decide on his own how to handle it. Can doing the right thing ever be the wrong choice? If you can’t find a role model for manhood in your own father, where canyou find one?

Here on Garbo Laughs, I’m dedicating the entire month of June to the topic of Queer Cinema (LGBTQs, and depictions thereof, in classic film). This includes reviewing one relevant film from each decade from the 1910s to the 1990s. This is all leading up to my Queer Film Blogathon on June 27th. Won’t you join me in celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month by contributing a post or two (or three)?

This review was originally posted on my old blog, Movie Dames, in August of 2009. Since that blog is no longer in existence and there isn’t an archive of my posts there, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to use this opportunity to repost this review. I don’t discuss the film from strictly a queer perspective, but I do go into the queer aspects of it quite a bit. I’m leaving most of the original writing intact; this is just how it looked when it was published two years ago, so if the writing or analysis seems amateurish – just remember, this is coming from me two years ago. :) Please don’t judge me too harshly.

Warning: This is a Full Recap review, meaning it includes screencaps and commentary on the film in its entirety. Therefore, it is much longer than a regular review, and spoilers are pretty much guaranteed. (more…)

The Three Faces of Eve (1957)

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Synopsis: The mystery begins when Eve White (Joanne Woodward), a demure Southern housewife and loving mother, is referred to psychiatrist Dr. Curtis Luther (Lee J. Cobb) in the hopes he will have the cure for her sudden severe headaches and frequent blackouts. But the symptoms aren’t all as innocent as that; for it is soon revealed that sometimes Eve does things that she can’t remember, things that deeply disturb her husband Ralph (David Wayne). While under the care of Dr. Luther, Eve has one of her blackouts and reveals an entirely separate personality: that of the saucy, sultry Eve Black, who stays out dancing all night with sailors and tries to do harm to Eve White’s young daughter Bonnie. As Eve White begins to descend deeper and deeper into depression over these episodes, Eve Black takes over more and more, and quickly spins Eve White’s life completely out of control. Just when things can’t get any worse for Eve White, a thirdpersonality appears, the smart and level-headed Jane, who knows both Eve White and Eve Black and attempts to help Dr. Luther untangle their inner workings. Can the three faces of Eve ever be united into one whole, stable, healthy human being? Will Jane and Dr. Luther be able to discover the key to what caused the split, a repressed secret hidden deep in Eve White’s past?

Warning: This is a Full Recap review, meaning it includes screencaps and commentary on the film in its entirety. Therefore, it is much longer than a regular review, and spoilers are pretty much guaranteed.

Up until recently, I was blessed with the fortunate convenience of having my favorite living actor and my favorite living actress be married to one another. This all changed when, on September 26, 2008, the male half of the aforementioned duo, Paul Newman, passed away at the age of 83. While it was tragic enough to lose one of my personal heroes, even more painful was thinking about how Paul’s passing would affect his amazing wife, Joanne Woodward, who I idolize perhaps even more than I did her late husband. I’ve been told that hero worship is an unhealthy vice – whaaaaaaat?!? – but, to me, the Newmans were always more like my fantasy grandparents rather than living divinities. I’m serious. Two warm, funny, truly loving individuals, who were more interested in giving back to the world than fame or fortune, who just so happened to be mind-blowingly talented and unbelievably gorgeous to boot? Who wouldn’t want to be related to that? The fact that there really are a few kids out there who were fortunate enough to have been born Newman grandchildren makes me pretty jealous. They just seem like the kind of people who’d let you play army with their Academy Awards and not care if you scratched them up. Why wasn’t that my childhood?!? Why must fate be so very very cruel?!? *shakes angry fist toward the heavens*

Despite the fact that Paul was much more the household name than his spouse, it was actually Joanne who charmed me first. Her performance in the 1976 TV movie Sybil, that unpredictable, intense, knock-you-to-the-floor-and-drag-you-around-the-room little migraine of a film, really made an impression on me, and left me hungry for more. In three solid hours of screaming, crying, window-shattering drama, the character of Dr. Cornelia Wilbur was an incredibly soothing presence; by the end of it I wanted Joanne Woodward to stroke my hair and make me peanut butter sandwiches. I decided this actress warranted further investigation, and while I was at it, I might as well look and see what this husband of hers was all about. The rest is history. I’ve been hooked on the Newmans – both individually and as a couple – ever since. They’re just delicious. The kind of flawless people that you’d really hate, if they weren’t so gosh-darn genuine about it all. Just watch this clip of them on “What’s My Line?” – I dare you not to fall in love when Joanne boasts about how their six-month-old baby swallowed a cigarette.

Our film today, directed by Nunnally Johnson for Twentieth Century Fox, is the one Joanne Woodward is most famous for, the one for which she won her Best Actress Academy Award. The Three Faces of Eve, in which Joanne plays the title character and essentially carries the whole picture, was actually only her third film, though she’d been making the rounds on television for a few years prior. She received her first Academy Award nomination for it – and won. Joanne Woodward, a relative unknown, just swept right in, knocked it out of the park, and beat out the likes of Lana Turner and Elizabeth Taylor for the Oscar. That’s pluck, is what that is. Joanne didn’t want to prove she was a star – she wanted to prove she was an actress, and given the role of Eve, a part she could really sink her teeth into, she blew away the rest of the competition on sheer skill alone. That’s what I love most about Joanne Woodward: she had the face and the body to get by just on her looks, but she never, ever took the easy way out. She’d walk onto the set looking like glamor personified, but then would launch a surprise attack on her part and take it down with her ninja-like acting skills of awesomeness. To me, that doesn’t only make her a phenomenal actress; that makes her a Legend. Not that, um, I’m biased or anything. (more…)

House On Haunted Hill (1959)

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Frankenstein (1910)

Image Source: Nigredo’s Room