Manhattan Melodrama

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, William Powell. While I suppose it would be possible for those people to make an unwatchable movie, this isn't it.

Gable and Powell play Blackie and Jim, respectively. They are literally boyhood chums. A tragic riverboat fire bonds them for life, but they take divergent paths: Jim becomes a crusading attorney, destined to root out organized crime and corruption, while Blackie adopts the path of a gentleman gangster, with a slightly off-kilter sense of honor about him.

Myrna Loy, lovely as always, is Eleanor, initially Blackie's moll, but won away (literally) overnight by Jim, as she realizes Blackie's essential disreputableness, and is charmed by Jim's honorable intentions and traditional values.

All this—well, you see the title—sets up inevitable conflict driven by a contrived plot. And it's all pretty good stuff, because those three can make anything believable, and make you care about how things are going to turn out.

Under the Skin

[1.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Looking over the reviews, it seems that this is one of those love-it-or-hate-it polarizing flicks. I would bet on a bimodal distribution of user ratings. I come down on the side of "arty, pretentious junk", sorry to the filmmakers.

It did, however, win at the Golden Schmoes Awards for "Trippiest Movie of the Year". So maybe take that as a suggestion as to what you need to ingest to make the movie watchable.

Scarlett Johansson plays (according to IMDB) "The Female". In cooperation with a motorcyclist, she dons the clothes of a recently-deceased woman, gets made up at a local store, and sets off on her mission. Which seems to involve enticing lonely Scottish guys back to her lair where they (under her alien spell) sink into a large dark pool and dissolve. After a few rounds of this, she seems confused and wanders off. But things eventually come to an unsatisfying and ambiguous conclusion.

This is apparently your go-to movie for Scarlett Johansson nudity. But, trust me, it's arty/dark enough to remove any titillation factor. And in between there are more than enough pointless (but seemingly endless) shots of drab Scottish scenery.