Wayne Cooper Favorites
A large segment of my life has been spent in and around the food service business. Most recently, with my wife and children we owned and operated a small-town pizzeria for 11 years. When the boys went off for further education and we had to run it on our own we decided it was time to sell and enjoy ourselves a little more.
My lifetime interest in photography started very young with a box camera I bought for 5 cents in a church basement white elephant sale....precursor to garage sales and it has continued actively since then. I developed and printed in my own darkroom and learned to love and appreciate black and white pictures and film and since the advent of digital cameras, post-production photography is even easier and more creative.
My children live quite close by so my wife and I see them as often as we like and enjoy our grandchildren immensely.
I'm now semi-retired and am the head and usually the ONLY cook at a lodge in Northern Canada. Winters find me up on my tractor blowing my long driveway clear of snow so I need to dress accordingly as I'll be out there for an hour or so.
Back in to a crackling wood stove and a strong cup of tea and I'm ready for the rest of the day which often includes old movies or old time radio shows.
I hope my reviews inspire people to give a look to a movie they might otherwise have passed up on account of it's title or some other element we found unlikeable.
There's many a hidden gem among Jimbo's movies and I like to give the 'orphans' a fair chance.
Escapade B/W 1955
Escapade is a delightful comedy and, at the same time, a serious social commentary done in the post-war Great Britain of the mid 50's.
The theme of pacifism, new though it might have been at the time, was becoming, in fact, quite popular. John Mills, always one of my favorite actors is, in my opinion, somewhat miscast in the role of a headstrong pacifist trying to make his personal political statement.
Actress Yvonne Mitchell however, largely unknown to me except for her role in Johnny nobody, is excellent as his headstrong wife in what would become soon a new social awareness thanks to their wartime labours.
Alastair Sim...( who doesn't admire the way he puts his heart and soul into every part ), plays....what else....the headmaster, and does it wonderfully but the STANDOUTS are the boys....the students of the school.
Not stifled and stiff like the previous generation of boys depicted in ' Tom Brown's Schooldays', but FREE and glorying in their fresh attitudes towards life and their world.
They are absolutely incredible...both the acting and the roles they play fit oh so neatly into the newly- discovored world of 'love for thy neighbour' and the onetime enemy that then swept across Europe.
The plot weaves and bobs it's way through the, oftimes, by today's standards, predictable situations, but in the end they combine to make, for me, a truly honest and memorable experience.
This film will NOT disapoint you in any way and even the slightly old-fashioned morees fit snugly within the movie.
Watch the movie: Escapade —»
He Walked By Night B/W 1948
I believe in today's world this might be called a docu-drama and I would certainly call it Noir.
Although at this time not a major player in the movie, this was Jack Webb's 1st feature role. He portrays a lab investigator...an interesting foreshadowing of his Dragnet role...but not as dry, precise, or exacting. You can however, see in him, as a young actor, the development of his own personal style and his talent is very evident.
Interestingly, the use of a punch card 'computer' to sort out possible criminal types was one of the first times I'd seen this on film. It reminded me of my university time and was, for it's time, a HUGE step forward.
We also see Richard Basehart in an unfamiliar early role as a bad guy....and an excellent job he does.
Based loosely but largely accurately on a 1946 crime spree by Erwin Walker, this moody and atmospheric police procedural is incredibly well done. Lighting and photography are standouts featuring acute-angle and action shots more familiar to today's moviegoer then viewers in the 40's.
It was, apparently, THIS case and THIS particular movie that inspired Jack Webb to develop the long-lived Dragnet radio program and television series Dragnet. The semi-documentary style with it's terse direct approach was Webb's trademark later on and his insistence on realism was well known throughout the industry.
Police Captain Breen played by Roy Roberts is excellent as is Paul Reeves, innocently duped by Basehart who, himself, puts in an absolutely stellar performance. His little mutt provides several exciting and tense moments as we wonder if it's anxiety will be understood by Basehart.
The final scenes, filmed 'in' location ( no spoiler here ), were absolutely captivating..... edgy and as breath-taking as any modern drama, the director, sound-man and cameraman ALL taking good advantage of the ambient conditions to heighten the already tense mood.
All in all it's hard to believe this film is nearly 70 years old as the chromatography, acting, lighting and sets are well beyond simply adequate...they are, at times, simply incredible. Don't miss this one if you've never seen it....you WILL be on the edge of your chair.
Watch the movie: He Walked by Night —»
PASSING OF THE THIRD FLOOR BACK 1935 B/W
A decidedly 'noir' movie.
Starting with the title that might not make much sense to most Westerners or not familiar with the somewhat awkward-sounding British name it denotes just about the least desirable room in a boarding house.
This is an excellent quality print with intense and moody performances by the 2 main protagonists. However you call it's style...good vs evil....devil vs angel it's an age old, even biblical formula with excellent performances by Conrad Veidt and Frank Cellier. Supported by cute little Rene Ray ( who plays a maid as she will again in the 1936 movie 'Secret Agent"), she plays a decidedly pivotal and important role in the movie but I'll say no more as it would give away too much.
I found the female lead, Anna Lee and her on-again-off-again betrothed a little stereotypical and meaningless to the plot but this was the 30's and conflicted emotions between 'couples' was an important part of that generation
The other actors are outstanding, supporting the sub-plot storylines. The thunder & LIGHTNING FLASHES....in the final scenes is WONDERFULLY utilized to heighten the drama...maybe slightly cliche by today's movie standards but still marvelously effective.
The B/W photography AND high contrast lighting are superbly well adapted to this old-fashioned story of THE base and basic moral battle OF GOOD VS EVIL.
My interest in photography BEGAN back in the days of B/W as it was the only one I could afford to process myself in-home.
Years of time in a darkroom and exposed ( no pun intended ) to exclusively black and white photography gave me a lasting appreciation for it and I firmly believe B/W photography is often the BEST effect for some pictures.
Not for nothing is it still, to this day, along with Sepia an important feature in even expensive DSLR cameras.
So is it with the movie industry.
Black and White is not the poor COUSIN of modern movies...it stands alone and has a power to tell a story not distracted by colour or special effects.
Much like Old Time Radio, ( OTR ), the shows were DELIBERATELY designed to take advantage of the medium and NOT as people today would believe, hampered or limited by it.
This movie reminds me somewhat of what would have happened if Alfred Hitchcock did Wizard of Oz....also with a surprise ending. I hope you take the time to watch and enjoy this movie.
Watch the movie: Passing of the Third Floor Back —»
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