Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: Flirtation Walk (dir by Frank Borzage)


In the 1934 Best Picture nominee, Flirtation Walk, Dick Powell plays a soldier who is constantly trying to go AWOL.

It’s not that Richard “Dick” Palmer Grant Dorcy Jr. dislikes the army.  In fact, he’s actually getting a pretty good deal out of his enlistment.  He’s been stationed in Hawaii, where he gets to go to luaus and hang out on the beach.  He has a wonderful friend and mentor in the person of Sgt. Scrapper Thornhill (Pat O’Brien).  Since this film was made in 1934, he’s not going to have to worry about going to war for another 7 years.  He’s known as The Canary because he loves to whistle and sing.  Everyone like Pvt. Dick Dorcy and that includes Kit Fitts (Ruby Keeler).

Unfortunately, Kit’s father is General Fitts (Henry O’Neill) and he’s none too amused about his daughter having a romance with an irresponsible enlisted man.  He would much rather that Kit marry his aide, Lt. Biddle (John Eldredge).  After he’s told to stay away from Kitt, Dick makes plans to desert so he can run off with her.  Fortunately, Scrapper finds out what Dick is planning and he goes to Kit and warns her that Dick’s about to throw away his life for her.  Not wanting him to get into trouble, Kit pretends that she never felt anything for Dick.  When a broken-hearted Dick wonders why Kit rejected him, Biddle smugly informs him that he’s neither “an officer nor a gentleman.”

Stung, Dick decides to fix that problem.  In order to become an officer, he applies for admission to West Point and gets in.  Dick leaves Hawaii for the mainland and he does very well at West Point.  He’s even put in charge of producing, writing, and directing West Point’s annual theatrical production.  However, things get complicated with Gen. Fitts arrives to serve as superintendent.  Coming with Gen. Fitts are both Kit and Lt. Biddle.

Deciding to express his angst through art, Dick writes a show about a female general.  Since Kit is the only female at West Point, guess who gets the lead role?  Though Kit is still in love with Dick, she can’t get him to listen to her explanation for why she rejected him.  Will a stroll along West Point’s famed Flirtation Walk help fix things?

Well, it is a Dick Powell musical….

Flirtation Walk is a pleasant but forgettable movie.  Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler make for a cute couple but neither one of them gives a particularly interesting performance and the bland songs don’t make much of an impression either.  Those who are into military history might enjoy the fact that the film was actually filmed on location at West Point but, for the rest of us, this is a nice but not particularly memorable musical romance.  For me, the most interesting part of the film was that it didn’t even attempt to be realistic when it came to Dick’s theatrical production.  It’s a huge production, if never coming close to being as much fun as the one from 42nd Street.

Why was Flirtation Walk nominated for Best Picture?  I imagine it was because it was a hit at the box office.  It only received one other nomination, for Best Sound Recording.  Regardless of why it was nominated, it lost to the far more memorable It Happened One Night.

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Francois Truffaut Edition

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Francois Truffaut, the greatest French director not named Jean Renoir or Jean Rollin, was born on February 6th, 1932.  If he was still with us, he would be 88 years old and I would like to think that he would still be making films.  The greatest director of the French new wave, Truffaut truly loved cinema and that love came through in every film he ever made.  My favorite Francois Truffaut film — and this will probably come to a surprise to no one — is Day For Night.  Seriously, if you don’t fall in love with the movie making process while watching Day For Night, you might want to get checked to make sure that you still have a heart.

In honor of what would have been his 88th birthday, here are….

4 Shots From 4 Francois Truffaut Films

Shoot the Piano Player (1960, dir by Francois Truffaut)

Stolen Kisses (1968, dir by Francois Truffaut)

Day For Night (1973, dir by Francois Truffaut)

The Last Metro (1980, dir by Francois Truffaut)

A Lot Goes Right In “Things Go Wrong” #3

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

As a trilogy that concerns itself with a “from the inside” look at the clinical depression and mental and physical breakdown of its protagonist, Jason Bradshaw’s Paper Rocket Mini Comics-published Things Go Wrong has been about the farthest thing from an “easy read” one can imagine — but it’s certainly been admirably honest, impeccably drawn, and absorbing in the extreme. Hope has been in short supply, but artistic integrity? That’s present and accounted for throughout, and if honest explorations of tough topics are your sort of thing, then the plain truth is that they simply don’t come much better than this. Now that the final issue, #3, is upon us, then, the questions that hang over it are — what sort of ending does Bradshaw have in store, and what sort do we want?

I mean, certainly our ostensible “hero,” James, deserves a break — but how “legit” would…

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Bruce Lee: The Man, The Myth (1976, directed by Ng See-yuen)

In 1958, a Hong Kong teenager named Bruce Lee (played by Ho Chung-tao, credited under the name Bruce Li) is upset that his mother is forcing him to go to college in America.  His martial arts instructor assures Bruce that he is meant for great things and encourages him to bring his philosophy of life to all of the people of the world.

In America, Bruce finds fame as a martial arts instructor and he pursues a career as an actor.  However, everywhere he goes, he’s told that no major American studio would ever be willing to invest money in an “unknown Chinese actor.”  Bruce finds brief fame with a supporting role on The Green Hornet but his Hollywood prospects sputters when he announces that he refuses to play any demeaning stereotypes.  Taking control of his own career, Bruce returns to Hong Kong and produces his own films.  He becomes an international superstar before dying under mysterious circumstances at the age of 32.

Following the death of the real-life Bruce Lee, there were hundreds of martial arts films released that featured look-alike actors who were credited with names like Bruce Ly, Bruce Lei, Bruce Lai, and Bruce Le.  These films often featured Lee either fighting the Tongs or some other sort of international conspiracy.  Many of them also speculated about the cause of his death or flat out presented Lee as having faked his death in order to escape from his enemies.  (Typically, these films would feature at least some footage of Lee’s funeral and the real Bruce Lee lying in his coffin.)  So many of these films were released that they eventually were grouped under their own genre, Bruceploitation.

Of the faux Bruces who appeared in Bruceploitation films, Ho Chung-tao was the most successful.  Credited as Bruce Li, he not only bore a strong physical resemblance to Bruce Lee but he was also one of the few Bruce imitators to have any on-screen charisma as well.  Bruce Li may not have been Bruce Lee but, of the imitators, he was the best.  (He was also one of the most frequently frustrated, retiring from acting at the age of 40 because he was sick of only being allowed to play Bruce Lee.)

Bruce Lee, The Man, The Myth is a generally straight-forward biopic.  It covers all of the big events of Lee’s life and, unlike a lot of other Bruceploitation films, it mostly sticks to the facts.  That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of fights to be found in this film.  Lee is constantly getting into fights but, for the most part, they’re just with people who want to challenge the great Bruce Lee and see if he’s really as impressive as everyone says that he is.  Other than a strange but fun scene where Bruce is approached by the daughter of a mafia boss, this film does not portray Lee as being a crime fighter or a secret agent.  Like many Bruceploitation film, this movie hints that Lee faked his own death but, in the version I saw, a narrator dismisses the reports of Lee’s survival as just being rumors.  (The narrator also says that if Bruce is still alive, he’ll emerge from hiding in 1983.  Draw your own conclusions.)

Bruce Lee, The Man, The Myth is an entertaining biopic.  When it comes to a Bruceploitation flick, all that most people really ask for is that the Bruce imitator be convincing and that the fights be exciting.  On both counts, Bruce Lee, The Man, The Myth delivers.

Music Video of the Day: Blue by Hannah Grace (2020, dir by Johnny Marchetta)

The thing I like about this video is that it features a disco ball.

Seriously, every room should come with a disco ball.  During my first semester away at college, I had a disco ball hanging in my dorm room.  (Unfortunately, my roommate took it with her when the semester ended.)  And I’ve currently got a disco ball in my bedroom that I occasionally hang from the ceiling.  It just really livens up the house and, even more importantly, it keeps the spirit of disco alive.  Plus, you don’t have to worry about a disco ball exploding or transforming into a carnivorous goo, like you do with a lava lamp.

Anyway, this is a simple video but I like it.  It’s got a nice and calming atmosphere to it.