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My Brilliant Career (1979)
nice scenery of australia
Nominated for best costumes, My Brilliant Career takes place in australia. Sybylla (Twice nominated Judy Davis) goes to live with relatives in 1897, and gets two offers of marriage from quite different men (played by Sam Neill and Robert Grubb). Beautiful countryside scenery. odd dynamics between Sybylla and her suitors.... she's quite melancholy about her plain looks, and everyone she speaks to agrees that she's not the prettiest thing around. kind of sad, that no-one gives her any encouragement or can find anything to compliment about her. She doesn't love either of the men, so she'll have choices to make, since she's not willing to settle for less than a loving relationship. It's pretty long. and pretty slow. Directed by Gill Armstrong. trials and tribulations of an ozzie.
Behemoth the Sea Monster (1959)
big monsta stomps stuff
So the title itself is redundant... the definition of "Behemoth" is something of giant size, so the Giant was really un-necessary. a horror flick from Allied Artists stars Gene Evans and André Morell. those durn nuclear tests have caused disturbances which woke the sleeping monster. first a man is found dead on the beach. and now it's attacking the large cities. How can they stop it before it destroys everything?? and should the scientists really be touching the radio-active fish without SOME kind of protective gloves?? this production seems to be a mix of British and US actors. and there seems to have been some conflict over the directors, as well as the actual writers. I was hoping this would have either Lon Chaney or Boris Karloff. but no. and the science and instruments they use are pretty shady. it's okay. some interesting scenery from all over England. and honestly, for 1959, the stop motion action is actually pretty good. including when Behemoth pulls down the transmission line towers.
Gambling House (1950)
to deport or not to deport
RKO's Gambling House. Victor Mature is Marc Fury, caught up in legal troubles. He's brought in as an undesirable alien, and will be deported for his run-ins with the law. Willliam Bendix is "Farrow", who may or may not be able to help Fury with his troubles. Terry Moore is "Lynne", a big shot lawyer, who also may or may not be able to help him. The deportation judge challenges Marc to explain to the court why he SHOULD be allowed to stay in the country. then more stuff happens. Some good chemistry between Moore and Mature. it's a little bit hokey, but overall, the story is pretty good. suspense. Seems to be the last thing written by Erwin Gelsey. Directed by oscar nominated Ted Tetzlaff. never won an oscar, but sure worked on some biggies. i wish they would show Notorious on TCM more often!
The Last Ride (1944)
snoozer crime story from WW II
The summary sounds contrived, even before I have seen the film itself. We had seen just about every plot involving the crime mobs taking advantage of shortages of various items... booze, gasoline, jewels. here, the plot revolves around the rubber shortage during WW II. with some extra twists. a B flick from warner brothers. Richard Travis is Lieutenant Harrigan, following up when fake tires start causing crashes and deaths. co-stars Charles Lang, Eleanor Parker. it's like a SLOW episode of dragnet... we follow along as the law tries to close in on the fake tire sellers. but now the witnesses are getting knocked off! all wrapped up in 57 minutes. this one is not so good. Directed by king of the westerns, Ross Lederman.
Dr. Socrates (1935)
the usual 1930s crime drama from warners
1930's stars Paul Muni and Ann Dvorak star in this small town drama from Warner Brothers. Doctor Cardwell (Muni) had lost his wife in a car accident, and because he felt responsible, it has affected his practice, and his state of mind. and when rough tough crime boss Red Bastian comes to him for help, Cardwell has some decisions to make. Mayo Metho is in here as Red's moll... she was Humphrey Bogart's wife for a time; didn't end well for her.. she died of alcoholism at 47. only made 28 films, acc to imdb. the awesome Grady Sutton is in here as (uncredited) grocery store clerk. Sutton made "Flying Trapeze" with WC Fields the same year, and would go on to make a bunch more with him. good career move! this one has the usual bank robbery, the getaways, and even a couple boy meets girl, boy chases girl stories. unfortunately, Doc wants to be the good guy, but keeps getting in deeper with the wrong sort of folks. no big surprises, but it's pretty good. Muni only made 30 films, and this was early on in his career.
The Lovers (2017)
a study of a troubled marriage
Debra Winger and her trademark scratchy voice star in The Lovers, with Tracy Letts. They are husband and wife, who are both having affairs. of course, they are both telling their own lovers that they are on the verge of divorce, but neither one seems to really want it to happen. everything moves SO slowly. the scenes between everyone are all too long and drawn out... in my life, when people are angry and arguing, they yell back and forth, and say things they don't mean. Here, the pauses are always SO long. and everyone keeps saying "i'm sorry". The story itself is fine... but this probably would have played better as a short film. its okay. written and directed by Azazel Jacobs; has won at several film festivals. on netflix.
Born to Fight (1956)
a look at bull fighting in portugal
Opens with passengers arriving at the Lisbon airport in Portugal, and describes the neighborhoods and architecture. We learn that the origins of bull fighting actually began to train the horses how to be more agile when tending the stock. and in Portugal, they grab onto the horns of the charging bull, as they tease it and pull its tail. sport. tradition. some would say cruelty. an RKO Pathe production. they discuss Mascarenas, Chico Mendez, and Jose Rosa Rodrigues as celebrities, but this short is so old, i couldn't find much on them. narrated by Dwight Weist, who had made a living as a radio announcer, so most of his credits are as "self". Directed by Van Campen Heilner, who made a bunch of shorties. this one is okay. another look at bull fighting. some interesting views of the city.
Captain Clegg (1962)
peter cushing in another campy horror film...
The story begins with a ship putting a seaman ashore in 1776. he ends up on a haunted island, where the rum-runners avoid the king's taxes by importing/exporting alcohol. Peter Cushing is Reverend Blyss, a key player in the shenanigans. and the evil phantoms on horseback only help to keep the law away. the british are always marching in and inspecting things. Patrick Allen is "Collier", who has been dispatched to investigate the rum-runners. Yvonne Romain is the daughter of the ship captain who puts the men ashore. it all hits the fan, but who will be victorious ? it's okay. This would have been a perfect film for Vincent Price. Directed by Peter Scott. It's a Hammer Rank Films production. Hammer had produced campy horror films from the 1950s into the 1970s and later. it's just so-so. this is one of the films on the Hammer Horror films collection dvd.
Man of Iron (1935)
the awesome mary astor
Mary Astor is the real star here. she could do ANYTHING. she had started in the silents and easily moved into talkies. worked with Bogie on TWO films! the plot has factory worker Chris Bennett (Barton MacLane) working his way up to vice president. and when he makes VP, all of a sudden he ignores the problems of his fellow workers. moral of the story: don't forget your co-workers as you climb the corporate ladder. MacLane had also worked with Bogart on numerous films, but never achieved the fame that Bogie found. it's all just okay. no surprises in this one. it goes exactly as expected. Directed by William McGann, who was nominated for Stolen Life. and of course, had ALSO worked with Bogart on numerous films. its pretty good.
Savannah Smiles (1982)
little girl runs away..... spoilers
Spoilers....Interesting premise. Bridgette Andersen was only SEVEN when she played "Savannah", the little girl who runs away when her parents are too busy to pay attention to her. She runs into Alvie, (Mark Miller) and Boots (Donovan Scott) who end up looking after her, and give her the attention the parental units would not. All ends well, and the parents have learned their lesson! It's pretty good... the irony of the "bad guys", taking good care of the little run-away girl... of course, the crooks get locked up, when they return Savannah to her parents. after carefully explaining why she had to return home, of course. Sadly, Bridgette would only make it to 21, due to an overdose of heroin. Miller would write a couple things, and act in both television and films... his big role was starring opposite the child-star in this very film, that he had written for himself. and keep an eye out for Pat Morita (Mister Miyagi !) ... here, he's the priest. it's all ok. i wasn't as thrilled as some of the other reviewers were, but i'm probably older and more cynical.
I've Got Your Number (1934)
Blondell, Farrell and O'Brien
Pat Obrien and Allen Jenkins are phone line workers, keeping the phone line working. Eugene Pallette was usually the (huge) sarcastic butler or father figure, overwhelmed by the events of the day. Here, he's the phone company boss, already sick of Terry and Johnny's antics. Joan Blondell and Glenda Farrell were both HUGE, hollywood stars of the 1930s. They are Marie and Bonnie, switchboard operators who meet up with the phone workers, but refuse to go out with them. Terry (Obrien) pretty much stalks Marie, which was probably cute and romantic back in the day, but would be considered harassment these days. so many double entendres and naughty jokes. it's okay. there's a stolen money caper, and Marie gets caught up in it, and must figure out who-dunnit. great work by Blondell, O'brien, and Farrell. Directed by Ray Enright, who had started in silents with the genius Mack Sennett. Story by William Rankin; he had worked on some biggies (harvey girls, only angels have wings) but still no oscars. I've got your Number is pretty good stuff.
Murder by Television (1935)
bela lugosi in another howwa film
Some fun big names in this one.... Bela Lugosi was in EVERY horror film in the 1930s and 1940s. Huntley Gordon, Charles Mailes, and George Meeker co-star in this who-dunnit from 1935. Henry Mowbray is "Chief Nelson", who has to figure out what's going on. and keep an eye out for Hattie McDaniels, a couple years before Gone with the Wind! the dead man had some new inventions on the brand new television broadcast media, and that could be the reason. and Charles Mailes was married to Claire McDowell, who play husband in wife in the film. pretty good stuff. Directed by Cliff Sanforth, who directed a whopping FOUR films, so there aren't any oscar awards in his list.
made in It-lee
So Raquel Welch was the big star here, and apparently kept everyone else waiting while she did her make-up. Edward Robinson and Robert Wagner were also pretty big stars by then, and told her they were sick of waiting for her. anyway... Vittorio De Sica is Cesare, mafia king, who gets held up by young amateur Harry (Robert Wagner). but Cesare is broke, and his family and friends just don't care. when Cesare hears that his family won't help, he is insulted, and tells Harry that he will personally help him get 5 million dollars. by stealing platinum on a train. and the caper is ON! Directed by Ken Annakin.. he had directed part of "Longest Day" and "Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines." was nominated for best oscar for "Men in their Flying Machines"! VERY lightweight drama... silly but fun. a heist in italy. was probably a lot of fun for the cast to make... when they weren't waiting for Raquel W.
Paris Playboys (1954)
yet another chapter....
MUCH later in the Bowery Boys series of films... but it's another ongoing episode of Sach and the guys stumbling into trouble. When Sach (Hunts Hall ) is mistaken for a famous french scientist, he and Slip (Leo Gorcey) take a quick little trip to Paris to help in some escapade. of course, Gorcey's real father Bernard and brother David are also here. Veola Vonn is "the girl" Mimi, but she played so many tiny parts, she doesn't even get a photo in imdb. the usual clever word play and pratfalls by the guys, but no-one seems to notice. it's all very silly and fluffy, but makes the time go by. (the three stooges must have been busy that day...similar humor and pranks) meh. no great work here, but entertaining enough for fans of the bowery boys. Directed by William Beaudine, who had directed many of the bowery boys films.
King of the Zombies (1941)
kinda typical zombies
Dick Purcell stars as "McCarthy", who goes down in an airplane, with two others. they land on an island, which is just the beginning of their troubles. Co-stars Mantan Moreland, and Henry Victor, as the evil doctor. He has zombies as servants, but was trying to keep that a secret. as in every horror film, the zombies get out of control and spoil everything! and the military bigshots have been disappearing, right near this very island. Co-incidence ? and there are drums beating in the distance... that can't be good. it's a slow boiler horror mystery. some clever banter between Jeff (Morelane) and the kitchen maid. their conversations provide the (old school) humor... the other characters are all quite serious and on a mission. Directed by Jean Yarbrough, about midway through his career. this one was actually nominated for best music. Purcell died quite young of a heart attack at 38, only a couple years after making this film. saw this one on the Film Detective Channel.
College Coach (1933)
SO many fun, big names in this one. Dick Powell was the new, hot guy in hollywoood. His co-stars Anne Dvorak and Pat O'Brien had been around a couple years more. Even Lyle Talbot and Hugh Herbert were regulars in the biz. O'Brien is "Coach", determined to make something of his school, no matter what the cost. the awesome Donal Meek is in here as Professor Trask. Meek was a fun, little supporting part of so many films. his low-key, mild mannered innocent bystander bit zinged up every film he was in. Coach pushes the guys, including team captain Phil (Powell) and the whole team. even those paid guys who shouldn't even be on the team. and Coach's home life suffers. Weaver (Talbot) doesn't like being told what to do, even by the team captain. Check out some old scenes from around Los Angeles 1933. and a couple of very suggestive lines, since we were still prior to the film code being enforced. it's pretty good. story line is good enough, but it came across as a pretty ordinary story, reflecting the issues of the time in college football. Directed by William Wellman... probably his biggest show was "A Star is Born". worked with many of the greats.
The Master Race (1944)
made while the war was still raging
George Coulouris is nazi Colonel von Beck, near the end of WW II. as a high official, he is sent off to hide in Belgium, hopefully to re-ignite the nazi mission again, by turning the liberated town folk against the americans, and each other. it's even more interesting that this was made in 1944, while the war was still going on! co-stars thirty year old Lloyd Bridges, as Frank Bartoc, and Nancy Gates as Nina. Pretty good film! von Beck tries to stir up mistrust, some of the locals seem to go along with him. some religion. talk of hope. rebuilding. allegiance. faith in beliefs and trust. One of only five films directed by Biberman. he was caught up in the House Un-american Activities Committee actions, in the 1940s. he, his wife Gale Sondergaard, and many others were blocked from working in hollywood, as they refused to testify before the committee. This one is pretty good... could have been great, but I think because the war was still going on, a lot of it is "propaganda" acting, to give hope to those back home, and to prove to the audience that we were on the side of right.
amnesia victim must track down his own past
Robert Webber is "Smith" (perfect name for this role!), an american, who finds himself in a british hospital, with no memory of what happened. Webber is the lead in this one, although he usually played supporting roles in some real big films.. Dirty Dozen, Twelve Angry Men, Midway. "Smith" only has a newspaper clipping of a girl, and a free apartment, provided by an anonymous donor, so he hires a private eye to track down what the newspaper photo means. Co-stars Jennifer Jayne, british bombshell, who also wrote screen plays, and worked with director Freddie Francis many times. In the film, Smith may or may not have overheard someone being murdered, but has a hard time convincing others... the evidence keeps disappearing! Also co-stars (american) Lelia Goldoni as the chick in the photograph. some obvious plot-holes, but otherwise pretty good. Director Freddie Francis was a two time oscar winner, although neither one was for his best known films, Cape Fear and Elephant Man! this one is pretty good stuff. Francis made Hysteria about mid-career. suspense, lots of peppy, jazz from the 1960s. giant hair-do's. just go along for the ride.
The Great Gildersleeve (1942)
one of the gildersleeve chapters
An offshoot of the Fibber McGee and Molly radio show, Harold Peary is "Gildersleeve", a sad sack who gets into trouble now and then. In this adventure, his neighbors want to get him married off, and after the usual mis-understandings, he gets in deeper and deeper. Nancy Gates and Jane Darwell co-star, and can't seem to mind their own business. "None so Rare", sung by little tyke Freddie Mercer, first as an aria, then in jazz. he made a bunch of films in the first half of the 1940s, then seems to have disappeared; died young at age 48, but that doesn't seem to be discussed anywhere. It's ok. Gildersleeve always has a weird, creepy laugh, and spends the whole film oddly moaning and running in circles. the strange laugh really got annoying. SO much slapstick comedy...( the three stooges must have been busy that week.) it really got annoying. maybe comedy has just changed since this was made. Just a silly, quickie from RKO. Directed by Gordon Douglas; he worked with Elvis (follow that dream), Sinatra (five films!) and did the Falcon in Hollywood, an pretty good chapter in the the Falcon murders.
The Evil of Frankenstein (1964)
another version of frankenstein
Yet another telling of the original frankenstein story by Mary Shelley, although she's not credited at all here. Peter Cushing is Baron Frankenstein here, and will go on to be even more evil in the Star Wars IV. he requests the help of Zoltan (Peter Woodthorpe, who was also the voice of Gollum!) to bring his hideous monster back to life. Vincent Price must have been busy that week! Hinds and Cushing would make about twelve films together. it's in color, and typical monster howwa film, complete with eerie music. it's EXACTLY what you're expecting in a frankenstein film. Directed by British Anthony Hinds, king of the horror films. did much of his work under the name John Elder. his father had started a production company "Hammer", and the family would do some great, successful things under that name, even requesting the "x" rating for some films. although this removed part of their potential audience, it also would draw the curiosity of groups of people that wanted this type of film. pretty good stuff. many similarities to Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein". good stuff!
The Brides of Dracula (1960)
peter cushing...again ...
Brides of Dracula - Peter Cushing, again, as vampire slayer van Helsing, in another campy horror film. although probably his biggest role would be Moff Takin in Star Wars. Cushing had done TONS of Dracula films, horror films, and even Sherlock Holmes in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. he seems to be the "Go To" guy if you were making a silly, campy horror film. School teacher Marianne (Yvonne Monlaur) is welcomed to town by Baroness Meinster (Martita Hunt). Baroness has many secrets, and of course they will become known to Marianne, as well as the viewer. leg irons. silly, tacky bat props. big showdown of hungry vampires. it's reasonably entertaining. nothing too new. Directed by Brit director Terence Fisher. on dvd. kind of fun for the sci fi fans.
The Last Days of Chez Nous (1992)
ozzy film. pretty good!
Last Days -- Lisa Harrow and Kerry Fox star in this story of family dynamics in Australia. Vicki returns home to live with Beth, but Beth already has a french speaking man living with her. There's lots of laughter and fun, but there are deeper issues way down deep. Cracks in the seams of Beth and JP's relationship, but before it can be worked out, she goes on a road trip with her dad. but which mice will play while the cat's away ? and can she get along with a grouchy, complaining old man who keeps picking fights? It's an ozzy film, so everyone in here is quite quirky. things get sad and serious when relationships start to break down. some sadness, but it's fun for the most part. showing on netflix. pretty good stuff.
Havana Widows (1933)
Joan & Glenda... like Lucy and Ethel
SO many fun things going on here... Joan Blondell and Glenda Farrell had already made Three on a Match together, so they already had the gal-pal chemistry. Guy Kibbee is the fall guy in this one, the rich old guy they try to take to the cleaners. co-stars Allen Jenkins (the mug) and Frank McHugh (the drunk). The story itself is ALMOST a bit convoluted, with insurance fraud, forgery, "breach of promise", when women could sue if the groom backed out. or at least make some easy money if they could trick the guy into hushing up any scandal. So they are all off to Havana, where this all takes place. It's a ton of fun, and is directed by Ray Enright, who had made EIGHT films with Joan. almost like watching Lucy and Ethel get in and out of jams. good stuff.
The Cuckoos (1930)
EARLY wheeler and woolsey
A real early one for vaudeville team Wheeler and Woolsey. and oh. my. god. SOOOOO many song and dance numbers. each time we go into another song, the reel has been colorized, and they show cuckoos in a cuckoo clock. Personallyl, i would have preferred a stronger, tighter script, and less singing, but that's a personal preference. There ARE a couple really clever bits in here, and of course, they play around with word phrasing. and also show some flesh on the dancing girls. This was only 1930, so even though most of the film takes place in mexico (theoretically), the costumes really are quite skimpy. Co-stars Dorothy Lee and Jobyna Howland. it's pretty good if you stick with it to the end, very similar to a Marx brothers film. lots of horsing around and a love story in between the chases, falls, and knife fights. Directed by Paul Sloane, who had worked with Edison from the earlly days, then moved to other studios. Pretty good. can't go wrong with a Wheeler and Woolsey film.
Kansas City Princess (1934)
a Blondell & Farrell adventure
One of the many films made by early talkie stars Joan Blondell and Glenda Farrell.. This is a fun one, as long as you buy in and go along for the ride. Rosie and Marie are manicurists, trying to get away from the mafia boss Dynamite (Robert Armstrong), and end up getting stuck on a ship that is sailing off to Paris. The antics include meeting up with Hugh Herbert, rich guy "Ashcraft". he is easy going, and easily buys into everyone's story, as they all take advantage of him. there's a bit of slap-stick humor, three stooges style, as they run around the ship, and try not to get discovered. so they are hiding out on the ship, and they take jobs as..... manicurists! of coure, it will all hit the fan, and everyone's secret will come out. it's pretty light and fun. good, fluffy, fun. directed by William Keighley... directed some great actors in great films, (errol flynn, pat o'brien, james cagney, al jolson) but no oscars for him.