Posts Tagged ‘peter lorre’

Silk Stockings

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Silk Stockings [Blu-ray]


Starring – Fred Astaire (Steve Canfield), Cyd Charisse (Ninotchka Yoschenko), Janis Paige (Peggy Dayton), Peter Lorre (Brankov), George Tobias (Vassili Markovitch).

Released – June, 1957

Directed By – Rouben Mamoulian

Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Description – American film producer Steve Canfield is making his next picture in Paris, France. Canfield wants the music for the film to be composed by Russian Peter Illyich Boroff. This is fine with Boroff as he likes Paris so much he does not want to return to Russia.

His decision does not sit well with the Russian government and they send three operatives from Moscow to bring the composer back to the mother country. In order to keep Boroff from being brought home, Canfield must come up with something to dissuade the Russian operatives from their mission.

He decides to use the most effective means possible by bribing the operatives with women, nightclubs, and champagne. In addition, Canfield asks his leading lady Peggy Dayton to use her feminine wiles to help with the problem.

Back in Moscow, the commissar of the Ministry is worried why the mission is taking so long. He decides to send the very hard-lined agent Ninotchka Yoschenko to bring everyone home. While she steadfastly refuses to be lured by the decadent appeal of Paris, somehow Canfield is able to romance her in the hope of sabotaging her mission. He goes so far as to even propose marriage.

Upon hearing how Boroff’s music has been changed to suit the film, Yoschenko and Boroff return to Russia.

While this may seem like the end of the films production, Canfield has one more trick up his sleeve.

NOTABLE: After the completion of Silk Stockings, Fred Astaire decided to take a break from musicals and concentrate on non-musical roles. He would not make another musical until 1968.

For Director Rouben Mamoulian this would be his last motion picture. He would spend the remainder of his career directing Broadway plays.

The original Broadway play of Silk Stockings ran for 478 performances. The storyline is a remake of the 1939 film Ninotchka starring Greta Garbo who was also directed by Mamoulian.

Cyd Charisse’s vocals were performed by Carol Richards. Richards had also sung for Charisse in the films Brigadoon (1954) and It’s Always Fair Weather (1955).

My Favorite Brunette

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

My Favorite Brunette

Tagline – He’s a hilarious hawkshaw… with a case on Dottie!

Starring – Bob Hope (Ronnie Jackson), Dorothy Lamour (Carlotta Montay), Peter Lorre (Kismet), Lon Chaney, Jr. (Willie), John Hoyt (Dr. Lundau).

Released – April, 1947

Directed By – Elliott Nugent

Produced By – Hope Enterprises

Distributed By – Paramount Pictures

NOTABLE: The mansion used in the filming My Favorite Brunette still exists on Carmel-By-The-Sea’s 17 Mile Drive.

When not filming together, Hope and Crosby regularly make cameo appearances in each other’s films. In this film, Hope wanted Crosby to appear so badly that he paid Crosby $5,000 for his brief appearance. The money was given to charity.

Personal Note: An enjoyable spoof of detective films done in a film noir style. Film noir favorites Alan Ladd, Peter Lorre, and Lon Chaney, Jr. make cameo appearances. And, it’s no surprise to find Hope’s usual partner in crime Bing Crosby somewhere along the way.



20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Starring – Kirk Douglas (Ned Land), James Mason (Capt. Nemo), Paul Lukas (Prof. Pierre Aronnax), Peter Lorre (Conseil).

Tagline – Walt Disney’s Mighty, Magnificent, Memorable 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea!

Released – December, 1954

Directed By – Richard Fleischer

Produced By – Walt Disney Productions

Distributed By – Buena Vista Film Distribution Company

Description – Fear of sailing the Pacific Ocean has terrified sailors and crippled the sailing lanes. Many ships have been lost and rumors of a sea monster are spreading rapidly.

In an effort to investigate these rumors, the U.S. government has invited Prof. Aronnax and his assistant Conseil along on the expedition. After months of finding no trace of any sea monster their ship is rammed by the monster.

Prof. Aronnax, Conseil, and master harpooner Ned Land, are thrown overboard and watch helplessly as the ships sinks. The three drift in the ocean until they come across an unusual metal vessel that appears to have been deserted.

They board the ship and as they look around come across a room with a full-view glass view of the ocean floor. From this window they see what appears to be an underwater funeral. It is the ships crew holding the ceremony, and when they return to the strange ship they find and capture the castaways.

The ships captain introduces himself as Capt. Nemo, master of the Nautilus, and explains that this ship is a submarine and able to travel beneath the surface of the ocean. Prof. Aronnax is recognized by Nemo who would like to recruit the Prof. to help with his work. Nemo has discovered the secrets to using nuclear power.

Meanwhile, Ned has discovered the coordinates of Nemo’s secret island and sends the information off as notes in bottles in the hope that someone will find them and rescue the group. Little do they know that their adventure is just beginning.

The group will have to escape from cannibals, a giant squid, and an armada of warships intent on destroying Nemo’s island and stealing his nuclear secrets.

Captain Nemo will do anything, including destroying everyone and the island himself, in order to protect his secrets.

NOTABLE: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea won Oscar’s for Best Effects, Special Effects, and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color. The film was also nominated for Best Film Editing.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea proved to be the most expensive production of its time surpassing Gone With the Wind.

During the scene where the cannibals are chasing Kirk Douglas’ character, Ned Land, the actors playing the cannibals painted humorous messages on their foreheads. The messages were not visible on the screen, but read, “Eat at Joe’s,” and “I Ate Joe.”

The impressive scenes of the interior of the Nautilus were designed by Roland Hill. Hill would later design Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disneyland.

Personal Note: An exciting 1950’s Science Fiction classic that should be enjoyed by each generation of children (and adults).


Arsenic and Old Lace

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Tagline – It’s no wonder she passed out on Cary! She’s just discovered that his two favorite aunts have poisoned their 13th gentleman friend!

Starring – Cary Grant (Mortimer Brewster), Priscilla Lane (Elaine Harper), Raymond Massey (Jonathan Brewster), Jack Carson (O’Hara), Peter Lorre (Dr. Einstein), Josephine Hull (Abby Brewster), Jean Adair (Martha Brewster).

Released – September, 1944

Directed By – Frank Capra

Produced By – Warner Brothers

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

NOTABLE: Frank Capra made Arsenic and Old Lace in 1941, but delayed release until the original Broadway production ended in 1944.

Capra had intended the role of Mortimer Brewster to be played by Bob Hope. However, Paramount would not release Hope from his contract with them in order to do the film. Jack Benny and Ronald Reagan were also approached before Capra settled on Cary Grant. As it turned out, Grant was the best choice.

The American Film Institute ranked Arsenic and Old Lace as #30 on their list of 100 Years…100 Laughs.

Cary Grant donated his entire salary of $100,000 to the U.S. War Relief Fund. Grant also considered his work in this film to be over the top and it was one of his least favorite roles. Audiences disagreed and enjoyed his portrayal of the frantic Mortimer Brewster.

Twenty years prior to the making of this film, actress Jean Adair helped to nurse a sick vaudeville performer named Archie Leach back to health. When asked to reprise her Broadway role of Aunt Martha for the film she was reunited with Archie Leach…who was now known as Cary Grant.

Personal Note: Arsenic and Old Lace would be included on my personal list of favorite motion pictures. It is a delightful, though somewhat macabre, comedy with terrific performances.




Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Casablanca (70th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]

Tagline – They had a date with fate in Casablanca!

Starring – Humphrey Bogart (Rick Blaine), Ingrid Bergman (Ilsa Lund), Paul Henreid (Victor Laszlo), Claude Rains (Captain Renault), Conrad Veidt (Major Strasser), Sydney Greenstreet (Signor Ferrari), Peter Lorre (Ugarte).

Released – January, 1943

Directed By – Michael Curtiz

Produced By – Warner Brothers

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – Cynical expatriate Rick Blaine owns and runs “Rick’s Cafe American” in Casablanca. Petty criminal Ugarte, as a result of the murder of two German couriers, has acquired wartime “letters of transit.”

He hopes to make his fortune selling these letters to the highest bidder who will be arriving later that evening. The letters allow for free travel through German controlled Europe, to neutral Portugal, and then on to America.

Before the deal can be made, Ugarte is arrested by corrupt local police commander Captain Renault and will end up dying in custody. Unknown to the police, the papers have been given to Rick for safe keeping prior to Ugarte’s arrest.

Now arriving in Casablanca is fugitive Czech Resistance leader Victor Laszlo and his wife Ilsa Lund who are there for the letters. There is one additional complication… Ilsa is Rick’s ex-lover; someone who ran out on him in Paris, but he has never been able to forget.

Laszlo meets with, Rick’s friendly business rival and major underworld figure, Signor Ferrari who discloses to Laszlo that Rick may be in possesion of the transit papers. Laszlo meets in private with Rick who refuses to turn over the papers suggesting that Laszlo ask his wife for the reason why.

Ilso confronts Rick who still refuses to give up the papers. She threatens him with a gun, but is unable to shoot, confessing that she is still in love with him.

With the police slowly closing in on Laszlo and the reconciliation of the two former lovers, character, loyalty, and moral issues begin to get a little sticky.

NOTABLE: Casablanca was nominated for eight Academy Awards winning three. Best Picture, Best Director (Michael Curtiz), and Best Writing, Screenplay. Other nominations included Best Actor in a Leading Role (Humphrey Bogart), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Claude Rains), Best Cinematography, Black and White, Best Film Editing, and Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.

In 1989, this film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

This was Humphrey Bogart’s first attempt at a romantic lead role, and it turned out historic earning him an Academy Award nomination.

The song “As Time Goes By” by Herman Hupfeld has become instantly associated with this motion picture.

Rick’s Cafe was modeled after Hotel El Minzah in Tangiers.

Actor Conrad Veidt was well known in the German theatrical community as someone who hated the Nazi’s. So much so that he had to hurriedly leave the country after learning that the SS had a death squad looking for him as a result of his anti-Nazi activities.

Humphrey Bogart was always quoted as using the line “Play it again Sam,” however, he never said it that way. What he said was: “You played it for her, you can play it for me. Play it!”

The famous film line “Here’s looking at you kid” was voted AFI’s #5 most famous movie quote.

In 2007, the American Film Institute voted Casablanca #3 on the Greatest Movie’s of All Time list.

In reality, the “letters of transit,” central to the storyline, never really existed during the war. They were a plot devise thought up by the screenwriters.

Upon winning the nomination for Best Picture, Jack L. Warner was the first on the stage to accept the award. This infuriated producer Hal B. Wallis who never forgave him.

Production costs for the film were close to $950,000, about $100,000 over budget.

In 2006, the Writers Guild of America deemed Casablanca’s screenplay to be the best ever.

Personal Note: Ask me on any given moment and I will say that Casablanca is the best film I have ever seen. There is not a credible 10 Best Films of All Time list in existence that does not contain Casablanca.

While it is hard for me to imagine any film fan that has not seen Casablanca, if for any reason you have not…. see it!