Sunday, August 11, 2013
From the Archives
This blog is supposed to be about my Netflix queue (with some cocktails), but here's a secret - you can download free no-copyright films from Archive.org. The site also hosts a ton of live music, including a lot of Grateful Dead, and the Wayback Machine, a historical archive of the whole internet. But that is by the by.
I recently downloaded a few movies onto my my iPad. Here Comes Trouble (1948) is newspaper comedy starring William Tracy and Joe Sawyer. Tracy is a sad-sack veteran, coming back from the war to his rich sweetie and his job as copyboy at her dad's paper. But her dad hates him, so he gives him a job as crime reporter - a job with a high casualty rate.
Meanwhile, dad is blackmailed by burlesque girl, Bubble Larue, played by Joan Woodbury (wasn't she married to Paul Newman? No? Oh). Along the way, Tracy's army buddy, Joe Sawyer, shows up, now an incompetent policeman.
It all ends in a big fight in the burlesque house - very Night at the Opera/What's Opera, Doc?. It's been done before, but it's done very well here, possibly because it's produced by Hal Roach, who is one of the ones who did it before.
Besides, you know I love the burly-Q.
Her Favorite Patient (1945) is another post-war comedy. It starts with Ruth Hussey, a doctor on her way to Chicago, picking up 3 hitchhiking soldiers named Smith, Smith and Smith. She needs to stop in her old hometown first, just for one night.
Her little hometown has blown up in the war economy, and her "Uncle Doc" (Charles Ruggles!) is one of only two doctors for the whole population. He wants her to stay in town and join his practice. There is a rather sweet scene where she agrees to perform reconstructive surgery on the high-school prom queen's face because Ruggles skills would leave too many scars.
But she still plans to move on to Chicago the next day (I'm not sure how if she really did this surgery on the first night home, but OK). However, John Carrol, who she mistook for her old school buddy Smedly, wants to keep her around as well. He is a fearless test pilot, so he pretends to be fearful to get her to treat him for shellshock (her specialties are plastic surgery and psychotherapy). Meanwhile, the three Smiths have been pretty much forgotten, but whenever we check in on them, they are meeting nice local girls and don't mind waiting to get to Chicago.
The first half seemed to kind of meander - the Smiths, Smedley, the tearjerking scarred-up prom queen, etc. It was all pretty well done, but left me wondering where it was going. The second half, which concentrates on the hijinks of "scared" John Carrol, are better focused, and also pretty funny.
So here are two B+ movies free for the taking. There are many others - lots of silents, of course, since anything before 1923 is public domain. Lots of deservedly forgotten B movies, but some classics as well, like Rene Clair's And Then There Were None. It's worth digging around in.