Humoresque (1946)

Poster - Humoresque (1946)_02

Original plot
John Garfield fingers his violin a little too much for Joan Crawford’s liking.

Big thoughts
Has there ever been another movie in which the top-billed star doesn’t appear until 33 minutes in? Also, Mommie Dearest throws not one but two (2!) glasses of booze against the wall! Also, this, along with My Man Godfrey, is one of the best I’ve seen since this whole movies-on-the-bus-thing began.

Obligatory bus anecdote
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WTF? How long was your bus ride that you could ignite a seat so much?

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Humoresque

The Random Remake
Paula Boray (Mia Wasikowska) is a young violinist virtuoso prospect looking to get into a fine arts school to further her talents, despite her working-class family urging her to attend college for a “serious” degree. She hooks up with jaded cellist Sidney (Jenna Malone) via an online ad. They play in subway stations, parks, some small gigs, and Sidney quickly realizes that Paula is the real deal. Sid arranges for a dinner party gig at the home of Henry (Rupert Graves) and Victoria (Rosamund Pike) Wright. The Wrights are wealthy patrons of the arts, and Henry takes a particular interest in Paula.

Henry’s advocacy for Paula ignites her career. She gets into the school of her choice and she is soon playing concerts with top orchestras, her family beaming with pride. But her personal life is also rapidly changing. She is growing close to Henry, with whom she shares a fondness for the romantic orchestration known as the humoresque. He represents the world she wants while she represents the life he once had. Seeing their attraction, Victoria leaves and tells Henry he can have a divorce if he likes. Henry is conflicted but tells Paula about the news and, to his relative surprise, she is not as elated as he thought she’d be. She’s getting super-serious about her music, and that takes up most of her time; Henry is taking a back seat. Additionally, Paula’s family isn’t too keen on their relationship, either, telling Paula that Henry is taking advantage of her and that she should live her life free of an older predator.

After a long reunion dinner with Victoria, Henry is late for a new concert performance from Paula. Paula is scornful of Henry, and berates him for not realizing how important her work is to her. Walking along a beach near the restaurant, Henry realizes Paula has grown away from him and he also knows he has pushed Victoria too far away for reconciliation. Alone, Henry drives back into the city toward the opera house where Paula is playing, but he continues past the building and drives off into the night.

The pitch
Humoresque: A classical tale of love and romance

Next up: This Gun for Hire (1942)

I Married a Witch (1942)

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Original plot
Veronica Lake bewitches a gubernatorial candidate to further a Puritanical curse.

Big thoughts
I love how the “curse” is that a dude marries an uppity woman – “we’ll show you!”

Obligatory bus anecdote
Once, I got on a nearly empty bus and made my way to the back to find … someone’s packed-up lunch just sitting there lonely on the seat. If I forgot my lunch on the bus I would sob for half the day.

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Witch

The Random Remake
Jonathan Wooley (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a rising-star TV reporter who hopes to be promoted to anchor of a New York City-area morning news show. We see him do gimmicky TV shoots around the city, hamming up with an adoring audience. He’s on assignment covering a fire at the Pilgrim Hotel when he notices a “victim” escaping a side door. He tracks down the woman (Katy Perry) and notices she suffers no burns, no smoke inhalation – she’s perfectly fine, except for being a bit eccentric. She says her name is Jennifer, and Jonathan keeps prompting her to do an interview about the fire and how she survived. She says sure, and Jonathan brings his camera operator to a nearby hotel lobby to set up the interview. But Jennifer starts going on about being a reincarnated witch and she isn’t sure the last time she had corporeal form and also isn’t sure what her mission in this time/place is. Jonathan kills the interview, and tries to bush off Jennifer but she’s interested in him and she appears in his apartment when he gets home. With a few more tricks around the house (enchanting a fire, making a broomstick fly) Jonathan realizes Jennifer might actually be telling the truth.

Jonathan is smitten with Jennifer and his professional life becomes unraveled. He’s engaged to the TV station owner’s daughter, and his erratic behavior and clear affection for Jennifer are threatening both his promotion and his engagement. And there’s another problem: Jennifer’s dad, Daniel (John Noble), appears and tells Jennifer she can’t fall in love with a mortal. Then he hits her with the true intention of why they’ve taken forms: They are part of a long curse put on Jonathan’s family – all the way back to pilgrims, when Jennifer, Daniel and others were hanged for being witches. Jennifer was given a body as Daniel’s plot to ruin Jonathan’s marriage – and he succeeded. But Jennifer isn’t going along with the end of the plan, and she tricks Daniel into becoming a smoky being and she traps him in a wine bottle so she can keep her form and marry Jonathan. Jonathan is still a bit bummed by his job going south, and Jennifer acts surprised. “Oh, I can fix that,” she says and starts chanting. Soon, a promo appears on the TV announcing “NYC’s newest morning show, with Jonathan Wooley.”

The pitch
I Married a Witch: This spells trouble

Next up: Humoresque (1946)

Beat the Devil (1953)

Beat-the-Devil-1953-poster (Small)

Original plot
A group of rouges goes hunting for uranium. In Italy, then Africa. I think.

Big thoughts
John Huston, Truman Capote, Humphrey Bogart, and Peter Lorre combined! … can’t save this meandering sinking boat of a narrative.

Obligatory bus anecdote
You can only eat so many things on the bus. A nice granola bar, maybe an apple. But props to the lady chowing on yogurt and granola on a full bus. Women and their yogurt, amirite?

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The Random Remake
A group of scout energy investors is invited to hear a pitch for a vast plot of land in north, north North Dakota that a family has been sitting on forever. The land is rich in shale deposits and the right fracking company could have the largest single spot in the state ready to go, if the price is right. (Yeah, I’m going back to the fracking well, so sue me).

The investors – which include Billy Dannreuther (Michael Fassbender!), Gwen Chelm (Charlize Theron), Peter Morley (Guy Pearce), Julius O’Hara (Paddy Considine), Jack Ross (Tom Hiddleston), and Maria Dannreuther (Cameron Diaz) – are smitten with the place.

See, the last holdout of this family land is a crazy old man (Bruce Dern) who thinks, rightfully so, that everyone is being fake nice to him to get him to sell out. So he finally agrees to part ways with it being he dies – but with a twist! The investors have traveled basically to the middle of nowhere to see this place first-hand, and now they have to travel back to civilization to get their bids in by the end of the day. That gives them just a few hours to get their affairs in order. See, crazy old man wants the first bid; he doesn’t care about the highest. Should be no problem, right? Welp, crazy old man has had their rental cars all sabotaged and he’s forcing them to make their way back to town on their own two feet. And these are ruthless biz folk we’re talking about – even the estranged rich siblings the Dannreuthers are out to snipe each other. So in the ensuing travels back to civilization each tries to undermine the others’ way back. We get attempts to bribe local cattle ranchers, attempts at phoned-in helicopter rides, more sabotage. Hilarity!

The pitch
Beat the Devil: A race against time. And each other.

Next up: I Married a Witch (1942)