The Kid (1921)

Tonight’s DailyView takes us all the way back to 1921 where we find one of the most iconic silent films of the time. It is the Charlie Chaplin classic, The Kid.

Chaplin’s Tramp character discovers a deserted baby, whose mother left in an expensive car with a handwritten note that says, “Please love and care for this orphan child” The mother (Edna Purviance) changed her mind and returns to find the car she had left the baby in stolen and missing. The Tramp takes the baby and begins to raise him as his own.

Five years later, The Tramp had been using the kid (Jackie Coogan) to run a scam to repair windows when the authorities discovered that the Kid had been abandoned and they attempted to remove the boy from the Tramp’s custody.

Charlie Chaplin made his feature film directorial debut with The Kid, as well as writing it, producing it and starring in it. He also wrote the score for it as well.

The Kid became one of the most influential films of the early 20th century, certainly of the silent era. Chaplin was able to create something that was both very funny and also full of moments of drama. The scenes of separation between the Tramp and the Kid are difficult to watch at times because they both have such a strong connection with each other.

The Kid continued to include some of the classic slapstick that had become well known within Chaplin films. He handled it smoothly as could be expected by a master as Chaplin.

At a quick 53 minutes, everyone interested in film history and, just simply, a really good show with some compelling characters should check out The Kid.

Death Becomes Her (1992)

I struggled to find the right film for tonight’s DailyView because I had a limited window of time and I was not in the mood for a long film. I also did not want to dive into the shorter films that I planned to use on Wednesdays and Mondays. So I was worried that I might not be able to get this done.

Then, on HBO Max, I found Death Becomes Her.

This was a movie that I had not seen before, initially because of poor reviews, but had received a more of a cult status recently. I had always been a fan of Bruce Willis, in particular the early days when he seemingly cared about the projects he was involved in.

In a story of vanity and excessiveness, actress Madeline Ashton (Meryl Streep) was so concerned with aging and an old rivalry with Helen Sharp (Goldie Hawn) that she took her fiancé, Dr. Ernest Menville (Bruce Willis) away from her for access to his skills as a plastic surgeon.

Madeline and Ernest get married and Helen finds her life ruined. Years later, Helen decided that her life would only be improved by revenge.

Helen found, by this point, the unhappy couple and convinced Ernest that they could kill Madeline. Fate interfered. Madeline had found a woman who sold her a potion that would keep her young forever. When she returned home, a wound up Ernest pushed Madeline down the stairs, breaking her neck and killing her.

However, that was not the end of the story. Madeline, after a few minutes, stood back up with her neck broken badly.

Death Becomes Her was better than I thought it was going to be, probably because of the skills of three top notch actors in Streep, Willis and Hawn. There were some dark comedic moments throughout the film, even when the situation became really weird. It is mean-spirited at times and darkly funny at others.

The special effects were transcendent at the time, but now looks like it was a 1990s movie. However, it was great enough to win the Academy Award for Best Effects, Visual Effects.

This had its moments and it could have been worse. It had some funny lines and strong performances.

Duck Soup (1933)

Monday is going to be one of those days of the week (along with Wednesday) that will be challenging for me to continue the DailyView for the next month while school is still in session (especially on days Marvel dropped a beautifully powerful trailer). It is important to make sure that the scheduling of the movies on those two days is done well for the month of May.

Tonight, that scheduling led me to the 68 minute movie Duck Soup, what some have called the best film featuring the EYG Hall of Famers The Marx Brothers.

For those who do not know, the Marx Brothers were Groucho, Harpo, Zeppo and Chico. They appeared in a bunch of movies together as a comedy group, sort of playing characters, but not really. In Duck Soup, Groucho played Rufus T. Firefly, the newly appointed leader of the country of Freedonia, but he was really just playing the role of Groucho Marx. The same with Harpo and Chico, basically. The fourth of the Marx Brothers, Zeppo, was more the straight man (such as Bud Abbott was in Abbott and Costello) and he generally played more of a character.

When Rufus T. Firefly was appointed leader, the opposing country sent two spies into Freedonia to uncover what they could about Firefly. These spies were, of course, Harpo and Chico. After that, Chaos ensued.

That is basically the plot of the film.

And this was a hoot.

The slapstick was just fantastic with these men. Their timing was impeccable. The Marx Brothers could not help but to make the others in the scene frustrated and flustered, and, even when it seemed to be a bit mean-spirited, you can’t help but laugh.

Now, this was 1933 and there was some humor that would not be very appropriate for 2021 and a few of the jokes made me cringe. However, there were so many other moments that just made me laugh that I can set aside the moments of impropriety

This was full of silliness, music and a lot of laughs. It also features the classic opposite mirror gag. Duck Soup was a classic and I loved the Marx Brothers as a youth (just behind Abbott and Costello). It was great revisiting it today.

All About Eve (1950)

All About Eve is considered to be one of the greatest films in movie history, but it was one that I had never seen before. This is a perfect one to continue with the DailyView.

Bette Davis played Margo Channing, an aging stage actress who is approached by her uber-fan, Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter). The seemingly innocent and shy woman, Eve wormed her way into Channing’s life and, at first, seemed to be a great help. It is not too long until some of her true motivations would sneak through.

Eve has plans to first become Margo’s understudy and her manipulations continued to adjust her position, not only as an actress but also in life.

All About Eve is a real behind the scenes look at actors and the world that they lived in. The movie highlighted how selfish and self-absorbed these people were. The film does a top notch job of creating characters and developing them through the story. The dialogue was sharp and worked extremely well. The plot itself was pretty simplistic, but everything else was so well developed and done that it never bothered me.

The film may have been a touch too long, but, again, it did not have many moments that could have been dropped. Every scene had its reason and purpose.

All About Eve received a record 14 Academy Award nominations and won Best Picture (as well as five more Academy Awards). George Sanders won Best Supporting actor as Addison DeWitt, a columnist and theater critic who hooked his star to Eve.

It is a tremendous film that you should seek out and watch.

Constantine (2005)

This is a movie that I had seen parts of, but watching it today, I remembered nearly nothing from Constantine, which makes this the next entry in the DailyView binge.

Keanu Reeves played John Constantine, a demon hunter whose job was to send demons back to Hell. This Constantine is cut out of a different cloth than the version from the comic books or the recent animated series. Reeves’ Constantine is more of an exorcist than a mystic. That does not automatically make this a lesser version though. The heart of the character feels connected.

Det. Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) approached Constantine after the apparent suicide of her twin sister Isabel. She did not believe that she would ever kill herself and she wanted help from Constantine to prove it. Meanwhile, Constantine is slowly dying from a blackness in his lungs from smoking (I did not ever hear them specify the cause). He knew that his soul was destined for Hell, but he was hoping his good deeds would clear the ledger and allow him into the Pearly Gates.

Tilda Swinton played the archangel Gabriel, one of several strong members of the cast. Gabriel was not used a ton, but the moments the angel was on screen were certainly impactful.

Shia LaBeouf played Constantine’s apprentice/car driver. Djimon Hounsou was Papa Midnight, the man with the balance between good and evil. Peter Stormare stole the entire third act with his arrival (despite it being kind of a deus ex machina).

The special effects of the movie were all really solid and avoided the worst of the time frame. Much of the feel of the film was influenced by the colors and the backdrop used by the filmmakers. Constantine uses the religious images particularly well as the story pits Heaven and Hell as opposing forces requiring balance. The imagery of Hell in the film were disturbing and frightening all at once.

The story, though, was a bit convoluted and could have required some adjustment in editing. Still, I found this better than many of the critics have (it is sitting at 46% at Rotten Tomatoes). I have always had a negative connotation to this movie over the years, but I thought it was decent. I liked Keanu Reeves as Constantine, even though he was a different character than the comic books.

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

This film was recommended by one of my teacher friends awhile ago and I decided to watch it during the DailyView. 1993 and the world had a chance to see that Leonardo DiCaprio was an actor of note.

DiCaprio was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this performance, and after watching it, you can see why.

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape told the story of the Grape family in a small Midwestern town, Endora. Gilbert (Johnny Depp) was a young man who struggled to help his family survive after his father disappeared one day to never return. Adding to the difficulties for Gilbert was his mentally-disabled younger brother Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his extremely obese mother (Darlene Cates), who had been housebound since the disappearance of her husband.

Gilbert worked at the floundering mom and pop grocery store in Endora which would include deliveries to Betty Carver (Mary Steenburgen), a married woman who was having an affair with Gilbert.

Life changed for Gilbert with the arrival of Becky (Juliette Lewis) and her grandmother (Penelope Branning) in town. Their nomadic lifestyle was interrupted when their truck broke down, forcing them to wait in Endora for a part. Gilbert and Becky bonded during the time they spent in the town.

The melodrama was high and the emotional stakes were plenty. DiCaprio never once played a false note with the character of Arnie. Had I not known who Leonardo DiCaprio was, I would be sure that the actor in this film was legitimately mentally-challenged. Every minute he was on screen, DiCaprio was authentic and that was something a role like this was going to be difficult to maintain, especially for a younger actor as he was at the time.

All of these characters held a deep pain just below the surface and struggled constantly to maintain their composure. It was clear that life had been tough for them all and that the hope for a better life had drained away.

With the arrival of Becky, hope reappeared in the eyes of Gilbert, even though his budding relationship lead to other issues with Arnie. You could see Gilbert questioning his life with each moment that passed.

The film did feel a little long, especially in the first act, but the slow burn picked up as the end of the film came. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape showed a lot of heart and gave us some great character work.

Bridesmaids (2011)

Day 3 of the DailyView starts off here at EYG with a movie that I have heard some major positives about. I have heard people claim that this is the best comedy of the last 20 years. It was one of the most intriguing films to add to the list when I started planning this out. It was 2011’s Bridesmaids.

Bridesmaids star Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph as lifelong best friends Annie and Lillian. When Lillian told Annie her big news, she was engaged to be married, everything appeared to be perfect. She asked Annie to be her maid of honor and introduced her to the other bridesmaids. This is when chaos ensued.

Lillian’s recent friend, Helen (Rose Byrne), began to cause Annie to feel isolated from her friend and quite jealous over the wealth that Helen could provide, and Helen manipulated the circumstances to her benefit. This was not an uncommon storyline arc. It is something that we have seen in many comedies of the past.

Meanwhile, Annie, who was involved in a meaningless sexual relationship with Jon Hamm, gets pulled over by a police officer Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd) for apparent drunk driving and a broken taillight. I thought the relationship between these tow characters that would develop was one of the best parts of the film.

Another standout was Melissa McCarthy, who played Lillian’s fiancé’s sister Megan. In the world of comedy, she played the strange friend who had things about her that we did not know or understand. While we have seen this kind of character before, McCarthy played the role with such gusto that you can see how she transitioned the role into a career in movies.

My major issue with the movie is not even a problem with the movie. It is my own issue. One of the movie’s most iconic scenes was the “food poisoning” scene at the dress shop, but it is something that I absolutely hate. I have never been a fan of puke scenes and it was one that I had to skip through on mute because it was going to bother me. I know people love that scene, but, for me, it tainted everything else about the movie and nearly caused me to turn it off.

I am glad that I did not shut it off though because I was won over again by the charm of the film and the connect-ability of the characters. Thankfully the food poisoning scene was early enough in the film for me to get past it.

Yes, most of what was here was your typical comedy tropes, but Kristen Wiig, in particular, is so likable that you want to root for her even when she is the one being the jerk. I really found myself rooting for Annie and Rhodes, even though the pairing of them was the secondary storyline.

While I absolutely would not place this on the level that I have seen some place it, I enjoyed most of Bridesmaids and I was pleased that I was able to watch it. I enjoyed the female-centric film and found it, mostly, funny.

Touch of Evil (1958)

Day two of the DailyWatch is done with a classic noir written and directed by Orson Welles. Touch of Evil has plenty of ties to the world today despite being released in 1958.

The amazing Latino actor, Charlton Heston (yes, I know. It was a major distraction throughout the whole movie) played “Mike” Vargas who was coming to a city on the border between the USA and Mexico with his new American wife Susan (Janet Leigh). Vargas was a big time Mexican narcotics officer who had to interrupt his honeymoon after a car bombing shook the town. Police Captain Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles) had the case on the US side of the border and went about hunting down suspects. Quinlan was a legendary figure in the area, but his legend was fueled by some questionable arrests that he had made.

Quinlan had narrowed the suspects down to a Mexican man named Manelo Sanchez (Victor Millan). Quinlan planted evidence in Sanchez’s room, but he had done so in a way that Vargas had known he had done it. This set the two lawmen on opposite sides of the case.

This film has so much to say about the world around us right now that it is amazing that it was made over 60 years ago. The racism on display, the police officers with their corrupt tendencies, the cartels with their drugs. The struggle between the honest police officers and those that abuse their position of authority.

Orson Welles was fantastic as the damaged detective, whose actions became worse as the film moved on. He had existed on reputation for years and when that reputation is shaken by Vargas, he spiraled out of control.

While Charlton Heston is always a great performer, seeing him as a Mexican man is something that he would never be able to do today… just ask Scarlett Johansson.

The film was beautifully shot, the black and white the perfect look for this noir. Welles clearly is a master of the director’s chair and the highlights of this film are tremendous.

Touch of Evil is a great movie that is held back by a little questionable casting.

Watership Down (1978)

Man.

Okay, the animated adaptation of Watership Down from 1978… it is not a movie to show your children. I think I might be having nightmares tonight.

The fourth film in the DailyView binge for today (usually won’t do this many in a day) was Watership Down on HBO Max. I think I kind of knew that this would be a difficult watch, but I had no idea. Bloody. Violent. Heartbreaking.

Watership Down is based on the 1972 novel by Richard Adams. In the film, a rabbit seer named Fiver (voiced by Richard Briers) has a vision of an apocalyptic devastation of the rabbit’s warren and he convinces his brother Hazel (John Hurt) to talk to the tribal chief. When they are rebutted, several of the rabbits decide to leave on their own, facing the dangers and deadly threats that face them in the world.

You can tell almost immediately that this was not going to be a typical animated movie. The British film showed the desperation and the dangers to the rabbits, sometimes in graphic, albeit artist, detail. There are a few sudden moments that act like a kick in the gut to the audience and the attempts to survive are edge of your seat moments.

There is a strong, British voice cast that bring the power to the beautiful imagery being shown. John Hurt and Richard Briers are joined by Michael Graham Cox, John Bennett, Roy Kinnear, Denholm Elliot (aka Marcus Cox from Indiana Jones series), Nigel Hawthorne, Clifton Jones, Harry Andrews, Simon Cadell, and Mary Maddox. The cast also included the final film performance of Zero Mostel as Kehaar the sea gull.

The animation took a painting style and had multiple moments of gorgeous imagery that brought both an impressive design and, honestly, at times horror. It had a watercolor feel to it and brought to mind the children’s picture books. Although the animation felt in this style, the darkness definitely came through in the scary moments as well.

This is well done and excellent animated movie, but it does have times when the imagery or the story beats are disturbing or frightening. The horrors of the outside world threatened these rabbits and you’ll feel it.

Under Siege (1992)

Day one of the DailyView kick off continued with a movie that was leaving HBO Max on April 30th. I decided that it was a good opportunity to see this for the first time.

Honestly, I have never been a fan of movies featuring Steven Seagal or Jean-Claude Van Damme and so I went out of my way to avoid watching any of these when they were released. Without this binge, I would still have never watched it. Having now seen it, I would say that it wasn’t that bad.

Casey Ryback (Steven Seagal) was a cook aboard the battleship Missouri who seemed to have a close connection to the ship’s captain. When the XO Commander Krill (Gary Busey) throws a party for the captain’s birthday, a group of “entertainers,” lead by Tommy Lee Jones with his weird hairdo, arrived on a copter and began to cause chaos.

I have to say that I did enjoy watching Seagal move through the battleship doing damage to the bad guys. The kills were entertaining and creative. Yes, Seagal seems to be in total control of the battles and he is never really in danger, but that is expected in a Seagal movie.

I hated the character played by Baywatch actress Erika Eleniak. She was an annoying, waste of time. I so wanted her to stay in the locker that Seagal originally placed her. This character was able to suddenly do things that she wasn’t able to do five minutes before. She served no purpose. It was so clear that, when she said that she would not kill someone, that she was going to kill someone and save Seagal. I actually said it to myself when she said it.

Tommy Lee Jones was way over-the-top, chewing every scene. He was fun to watch while doing it. Yes, he was pretty one-dimensional doing it, but he was a hoot.

It was dumb and basic, but it was an enjoyable watch. Certainly better than I anticipated. I am glad I watched it before it left HBO Max.

Danger: Diabolik (1968)

After the misstep in the morning for the DailyView review of The Maltese Falcon, I wanted to make sure that I watch a film that I absolutely knew that I had never seen before. So I went to the film that I had heard discussed on John Rocha’s Outlaw Nation podcast from the excellent critic, William Bibbiani. He claimed it was one of his favorite comic book movies of all time. While, for me, that was a hugely hyperbolic comment, it was a fun film.

Diabolik (John Phillip Law) was a master criminal who, along with his girlfriend Eva (Marisa Mell), planned and executed comic book type robberies while being pursued from law enforcement Inspector Ginko (Michel Piccoli).

Diabolik has a James Bond vibe to him, if mixed with the Phantom, Adam West’s Batman and Moriarty. He is a strange protagonist for the film since he was clearly a villain and one who did not care about anyone else but Eva and himself. His actions lead to the deaths of several of the innocent police officers chasing him. Yes, he was, at times, looking to save Eva, but he did not seem to have any other positive characteristics.

Yes, there have been other movies with protagonists who were villainous characters, but not too many who were displayed in such a way to make them look like the cool agent/spy character.

The film was really more of a group of stories hooked together by the attempts of Ginko to catch Diabolik. The different sections of the film did not have an actual throughline outside of that.

There is a lot of camp in the film which helps with the overall tone and feel of the film and allows us to not take the deaths of these law enforcement officers as seriously as we might in a more realistic manner.

Danger: Diabolik has a lot of fun in it and provides viewers with some silly adventure. The acting is average, but the corniness is above the line.

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Starting today, I will be kicking off the DailyView: EYG 2021 Spring/Summer Unseen Classic Binge. The idea is that I will be watching a movie a day (at least) through the summer months, a movie in which I had never seen before. I am starting the binge off with a multiple movie day. First, up the John Huston film noir classic, The Maltese Falcon.

I will admit that there were some scenes here that were fairly familiar to me, so I have certainly seen some of this movie before. However, this would be the first time that I watched the entire flick, thanks to HBO Max.

Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) was a private detective hired by a woman Brigid O’Shaughnessy (Mary Astor) to follow a business partner. Sam’s partner Archer (Jerome Cowan) takes the case and ends up dead. While the police try to determine if Sam was involved in the murder, a plot to find a mysterious statuette called the Maltese Falcon shows to be connected to the happenings.

Bogart played Spade as a manipulative sort and it kept me off balance through the film. I was never quite sure if the detective was as crooked as the people he became involved in.

We meet a henchman named Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) who was working with the fat man, Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet) in an attempt to get their hands on the valuable artifact. Greenstreet was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role here.

The mood of the movie is part of the reason this is as successful a film as it has been. It sets the mystery early and gives you several moments throughout where you are just not sure exactly what was going on.

John Huston proved himself to be a master director as he provided a wonderful movie that is considered an all-time classic. Humphrey Bogart gave a layered performance that not only kept you rooting for him, but also wondering what he might do next. Was he being self-destructive or was he a few steps ahead of everybody?

The ending is also as mysterious and uncertain as the rest of the film as it creates perhaps the most famous MacGuffins in cinema history.

{P.S.}- Unfortunately, the film had felt so familiar to me that I went to do some further research and discovered that I had already reviewed the movie and had seen it. Sadly that kicks off the DailyView with a mistake, but we shall press on and not be derailed by a minor error. I decided to leave this review active as well. EYG

The DailyView: 2021 EYG Spring/Summer Unseen Classic Binge

I have decided to undertake a special binge for the coming spring/summer season here at EYG. Beginning on April 29th and throughout summer vacation, I will be watching a movie every day and writing a review for the Doc’s Classic Movies Reviewed section of the site. Each of these films will be movies that I have never actually seen before.

I have been working on a list, but I believe that I need to add more. If my count is correct, I will need in excess of 100 movies to complete the task.

Qualifications for the film:

  • The movie is one that I have not seen all the way through before. I may have seen scenes or parts of the movie, but I have not seen it from beginning to end.
  • It is a movie that has been released prior to 2021.

At first, the plan was to start the DailyView when my school ended for the 20-21 school year, but I was getting excited to get started so I took a personal day and planned on starting off the binge fest on April 29th. This will continue through all of May, June and July and then into August, until school restarts (and maybe for awhile after that).

As school concludes this year, the only day that may cause some issues will be Wednesday nights so I believe that I will need to be precise with my schedule.

This will not include any of the new releases that will come out during the time frame. I will still do those. There may also be some weekend binges that may be themed through the summer (for example, perhaps I would do a weekend July 4th Binge, including movies that I have seen before…such as Independence Day). If I do another binge along the way, I will make sure to include something that qualifies for the DailyView.

I hope to spread the genres out during DailyView. Comedies, Horror, Action/Adventure. Documentaries, Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Westerns, Animated, Biopics etc. Many of these are going to be considered classics that are holes in my viewing and some will be movies that may not be widely known.

There may be some days where I will exceed the one film a day. In fact, on April 29th, I am considering kicking off DailyView with a binge of several films.

I am excited to get started on this project. I will maintain the count of films on this post. Some will be great. Some may be rotten. Bring them on! Happy viewing!

DailyView

April 29, 2021: The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Danger: Diabolik (1968)

Under Siege (1992)

Watership Down (1978)

April 30, 2021: Touch of Evil (1958)

May 1, 2021: Bridesmaids (2011)

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

May 2, 2021: Constantine (2005)

All About Eve (1950)

May 3, 2021: Duck Soup (1933)

May 4, 2021: Death Becomes Her (1992)

May 5, 2021: The Kid (1921)