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Morning's at Seven (1982 TV Movie)
10/10
Elizabeth Wilson as Aaronetta
25 May 2020
TV movie version of the 1980 Broadway production (more or less) of Paul Osborn's play. The plot follows four aging sisters in a midwestern town. Their lives face some upheavals based on long-simmering resentments and misunderstandings and familial bickering. Two of the sisters live next door to each other with the old maid sister living with one of the married ones. The 4th sister lives down the road with her snooty ex-professor husband. There's also a 40-ish son who's bringing home his long-standing girlfriend to meet the family, an act that serves as a catalyst to much of the confusion. The action takes place on the backyards of the adjoining houses.

Acting honors, for my money, go to Elizabeth Wilson as the old maid Aaronetta, who lives with sister Cora (Teresa Wright) and her husband Ted (Maurice Copeland). Aaronetta barely keeps her jealousy hidden from her married sisters and harbors a dark secret. Cora is resentful that her sister has always lived in her house. Next door we have the rather dim Ida (Kate Reid) who's hoping her middle-aged son, Homer (Robert Moberly) will some day marry and move into the house her husband (King Donovan) built for them years ago.

When elder sister Esther (Maureen O'Sullivan) comes to visit from down the street, she announces her snooty husband (Russell Nype) has banished her from the first floor of their home. But the major problem at hand is that Donovan is having "spells" again and that Homer may be following suit since he's feeling pressure to finally marry Myrtle (Charlotte Moore).

Terrific production with most of the original cast. The play first appeared on Broadway in 1939 with Dorothy Gish in the cast.
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10/10
Welcome Relief from Pandemic and Trump
7 May 2020
First off, Jerry Seinfeld looks great! It's hard to believe he's 65 years old.

He starts the show off with a helicopter stunt that is pretty amazing, though it has little to do with his set.

His hour on stage is what he's always done: observational humor. If you don't like it, don't watch it. He's not a prop comic. He doesn't really do characters. He won't break out a banjo and sing a song. Yes, he moves around a lot but that's because he's in a big theater, not a cozy night spot.

He sticks to what he knows best, which is everyday annoyances, life, and family. There's nothing political (thank god!) and his language is pretty clean. And that's just fine.

If you expect something else, don't bother. Jerry is Jerry. Always has been. Always will be. And that's just nice and good!
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1/10
Talk About Boring
1 May 2020
Jane Adams stars in this boring look at an actress who lives in a dumpy condo with a great ocean view. That's about it. She has a niece come to visit and she talks to a couple guys.

She sits around the condo, goes out on a paddle board, drives around, and she talks and talks and talks, mostly about herself. There's also a truly boring guy who lectures on the pieces and parts of solar collectors and atmospheric testing equipment.

She and her group always seem to be drunk or high. Incredibly boring film with nice shots of the ocean.
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The Wanderer (1925)
10/10
William Collier, Jr. Is Excellent
25 April 2020
THE WANDERER survives in a 63-minute abridgement, down form its original 9-reels, which would have been more than 90 minutes. It's the story of a biblical-era country boy named Jether (William Collier, Jr.,) who goes off to an unnamed city and gets pulled into the high life with Tisha, High Priestess of Ishtar, played by Greta Nissen in an early Hollywood appearance (maybe her first). She's protected by by crooked Tola (Ernest Torrence). Long story short, Collier soon loses all his money, spending it on jewels and robes, and Tisha. He also gets sucked into crooked gambling games run by Tola. At some point Wallace Beery wanders in as Pharis (most of his part is lost) and seems to displace Collier in Tisha's bed, but he's out of money anyway. When he's caught cheating he's about to be cast out from the city when heaven intervenes and destroys it anyway. Collier survives the debacle and returns home to beg forgiveness of his parents.

This was a major Paramount release of 1925, directed by Raoul Walsh. Why it was abridged is anyone's guess. Co-stars include Tyrone Power, Sr. and Kathlyn Williams as the parents, Kathryn Hill as the girl next door, Holmes Herbert as the Prophet, Sojin and Snitz Edwards as sellers of fancy goods, and Myrna Loy (legend has it) among the dancing girls.

Nissen is appropriately over the top as the priestess, but Collier steals the show in a terrific performance as the wanderer. Production design is excellent.
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The Stripper (1963)
10/10
Joanne Woodward Shines
21 April 2020
The studio tried to cash in with a provocative title, but the film is based on William Inge's failed Broadway play A LOSS OF ROSES. Yet the trades were abuzz with casting rumors for the lead role of Lila, a broken down would-be actress traveling with a bum magic show who gets stranded in the town where she grew up. Mentioned were Eleanor Parker, Kim Novak, Natalie Wood, etc., but the role went to Joanne Woodward. The role was actually assigned to Marilyn Monroe, but she died. Anyway, Lila is taken in by kindly Mrs. Baird (Claire Trevor) who has a 19-year-old son (Richard Beymer) hanging around the house. Well it's no surprise that Lila and the boy create some sparks, especially as he has a virginal girlfriend (Carol Lynley). When the manager (Robert Weber) comes back to town to get Lila for a strip club gig, she must make the decision to stay with the kid or go with the cad.

With a bush of platinum hair piled on her head, Woodward makes for a flashy Lila, and she's a good enough actress to make Lila a person and not a caricature. Beymer and Trevor are also good. Lynley has only a few scenes. Briefly seen are fellow show folk Louis Nye and Gypsy Rose Lee.

Inge's troubled play, which takes place in the 1930s, failed on Broadway although it did win Warren Beatty a Tony nomination. The play starred Carol Haney as Lila and Shirley Booth as Mrs. Baird, but Booth dropped out during out-of-town tryouts and Betty Field opened on Broadway. The play lasted only 25 performances in 1959.

The film version was updated to present-day 1963. It also features Michael J. Pollard and Danny Lockin as Beymer's friends. Another of Inge's Kansas-set plays with the "you can't go home again" theme. The film is very underrated.
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9/10
Solid Courtroom Drama
17 April 2020
In an unnamed city in a fictional county in New Mexico, a vicious killer (Nick Adams) is being tried for murder. The courtroom drama focuses on an ambitious prosecutor (James Gregory) and a young and inexperience defender (Richard Chamberlain).

Gregory is trying to ride the publicity surrounding the trial to a high political office, and there seem to be a lot of people willing to railroad the kid into the gas chamber. The case has several curious aspects. Adams has signed two different confessions but both of them have omitted large parts of his story. Adams also has a tramp for a wife (Joey Heatherton) who turned him in for the reward!

Into this media circus of lies and hype comes young Chamberlain who must battle the system ((including a judge who clearly favors the prosecutor). He relies on advice from a wily old lawyer (Claude Rains) who's been sidelined by ill health. Rains also has a comely daughter (Joan Blackman) who has eyes for Chamberlain.

Can the young lawyer navigate the complicated legal waters and fight the corruption to save his client?

All the actors are fine. Chamberlain (currently starring on TV as Dr. Kildare) gets the star build-up here from MGM. Rains steals all his scenes and Gregory and Adams are solid performers (Adams won an Oscar nomination). Heatherton makes her film debut here.

Cast includes Jeanette Nolan as the widow, Linda Evans as her daughter, Edgar Stehli as the judge, Arch Johnson as the bartender, Robin Raymond as Heatherton's ma, and Pat Buttram as the victim.

Much of the film is told in flashback, but the overall storyline suffers by being a tad too close to the classic Anatomy of a Murder (1959). Still worth a look.
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Night Owls (1929)
10/10
Arthur Lake in Drag
15 April 2020
Cute 2-reel silent comedy was one of Arthur Lake's last silent films before transitioning to talkies.

Plot has Lake (as Arthur, not Horace as stated in IMDb credits) and Jean (unidentified leading lady) breaking down in his jalopy after a night out. He's trying to get her back to her girls' school, where her father is already there to check up on her. The house mother (Fay Holderness) says she went out to the beauty parlor and hasn't come back!

The couple tries to get into the house but after Lake gets in he gets caught by the father and house mother, so he ducks into a dormitory and puts on a cap and nightie to disguise himself. In the 2nd reel, the father hauls the daughter away on a boat voyage to get her away from Arthur ... but he follows them.

Lots of physical humor. The ending is a funny bit as the boat leaves the harbor.

This is NOT one of Lake's "Horace in Hollywood" films as is often stated. This was his follow-up series of silent shorts for Universal after the "Horace" films had been completed.
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10/10
Jack Warner and John McCallum
9 April 2020
This is a hugely enjoyable and surprising film. It starts out as a standard post-war spy thing with a Swedish scientist (John McCallum) inventing some thingy that turns sound to light (or whatever). It's stolen by his wife and his best friend. He ends up with the police where a copper (Jack Warner) doesn't seem terribly interested or efficient. But after a few false starts, they learn the pair of thieves is on the run with the gizmo to Finland where they plan to sell it to the Russians. McCallum and Warner take chase. And this is when the film takes off as well. The culprits have chosen to take a northern route across the frozen north, so the good guys join up with a group of reindeer herders since there are no roads. The herders will guide them across the frozen expanse of Lapland. Among the herders is the fetching Nadia Gay.

The trek is difficult. The reindeer are contrary. And they're being followed by a pack of wolves. from this point on there's one surprise after another until they get to the valley of the eagles. The ending is a tad abrupt, but it's a hell of an adventure.
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Lazy Susan (2020)
9/10
If You Knew Susie
6 April 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Oddball comedy/drama stars Sean Hayes as the middle-aged Susan, a lethargic slug of a woman who's on unemployment and is behind in her rent. She sits around all day long doing nothing and mooches money off her mother.

She has a dysfunctional family although she seems to be its main dysfunction. Brother is a doctors assistant and mama is a hypochondriac. Her best friend is a bit loony and together they have a flute and ukulele "band." Susan also has an old school rival, Velvet (Allison Janney), who works at the local K-Mart.

One day, a man in a truck rear ends her at a stop light, and so he becomes her boyfriend. Suddenly, Susan's life changes. Everything is fine until she discovers he is married. Susan goes back into her funk until a crisis forces her to take charge of her life and make some changes.

Hayes is excellent. He does nothing to enhance his female character. Susan is not a drag queen, but a frumpy woman in bad clothes and with bad hair. Janney is good as Velvet as is Margo Martindale as mama. Kiel Kennedy plays the brother and JIm Rash is the odious boyfriend. Matthew Broderick makes a cameo as the landlord.

Funny and touching in an odd way.
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8/10
Elsie Randolph in a Black Comedy
1 April 2020
Neat little black comedy about a lonely man (Jack McNaughton) who marries the wrong woman.

As Rose (Vida Hope) comes out of a church crying, we assume she's at a funeral. Rather, it McNaughton's wedding to Doris (Elsie Randolph). Bystanders gossip about why on earth he married Doris, a sour widow who lives on a widow's pension. We soon find out just how big a mistake this was.

As soon as he moves into Doris' flat, she starts nagging and complaining. She hoards his earnings and lies about how she spends money and what she does while he's at work. When her mother and sister come to visit, he learns just how common Doris really is, despite her airs.

After two years of this domestic misery, there's a knock on the door that leads to a surprise (and very welcomed) ending.

Randolph and McNaughton are excellent. Cast also includes Geoffrey Keen as Bill, Marie Ault as the mother, Helen Goss as the sister, Sam Kydd as the barrow boy, Mavis Villiers as Shirley, and Violet Gould and Eileen Way as the gossipers.
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9/10
Jack Warner and Claude Hulbert
28 March 2020
Backstage murder mystery in which the on-stage antics are far more interesting than the murder, especially the botched reveal.

It's a fascinating look at Jack Warner's Music Hall act, one that made him a big stage name in the 1920s and 30s. It's a combination of snappy patter and nonsense songs. Warner was 48 here, making his film debut. Also very good is Claude Hulbert, playing his usual character, all bewildered and bemused, and this time a cop.

There's also singer/comedienne Beryl Orde. She was famous for her impressions and she always did Martha Raye, but otherwise I can never tell who she's doing. We also get G.H. Mulcaster as an undercover cop, Manning Whiley as a creepy ventriloquist, Ian Wilson as the stage manager, Charles Carson as the magician, Hy Hazell as his assistant, Ivy Benson as the bandleader, and Evelyn Darvell as the lovely Peggy Royce, who sings a few songs.

The stage acts are mostly things we saw on Ed Sullivan's old TV shows: acrobats, knock-about dancers, spinning plates, etc. The murder mystery, alas, seems to have something to do with counterfeit money, but it seems to take a back seat to the entertainment. The creepy dummy that talks is played by Eric Mudd who is also seen in the acrobatic team of Sylvester and Nephew.

Not as good as I had hoped, but worth the effort to see Warner and Hulbert.
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8/10
Arthur Askey's Big Ballet
18 March 2020
Arthur Askey stars as an inept make-up man who gets involved with a sort of photo-bombing of products on a British PBS-like TV network, which does not have advertisers. After the TV station fires him, he becomes national celebrity after a series of photo-bombs advertise a laundry soap called Bonko and the product's sales skyrocket. He becomes so famous, the network gives him his own show!

Askey may be a little broad in his humor for all tastes, but this is a good role for him. Others in the cast include Sidney James as the Bonko salesman, Dermot Walsh as an ad-man, Olga Lindo as the landlady, Sally Barnes as a girl friday, Bernard Cribbins as the camera guy, Bruce Seton as the police chief and some "guest stars" like Evelyn Laye, Dennis Lotis, Tommy Trinder, and a sex bomb named Sabrina.

Arthur Askey's comedy is very much in the Music Hall style, and while he was popular in his day, he never achieved the major movie success of George Formby or Norman Wisdom.
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The Pale Horse (2020– )
1/10
The Stench Will Linger
17 March 2020
Butcher job on Agatha Christie story and a lackluster cast make this nearly unwatchable. The period detail also seems wrong with all that late 1960s clothes and hair.

Rufus Sewell and Rita Tushingham are the only recognizable stars in this mess. Most of the others should have stayed in acting classes a little longer. Especially awful is the woman paying Hermia.

Casting is suspect also in having Sewell married to a Black woman in 1960 London, let along a Black witch living with two white women in Much Deeping.

The whole witchy woman thing vs the usual Christie poisoning plot turns into a total muddle and makes the un-Christie ending really stupid. Oh yes, and cut the F bombs. They added absolutely nothing to the proceedings.

I did, however, like the car Sewell drives.
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Robes of Sin (1924)
8/10
Gertrude Astor Steals the Film
15 March 2020
ROBES OF SIN stars the Australian actress, Sylvia Breamer, who had been in American films since 1917. Here she plays a bored housewife married to a cop (Jack Mower) who is working in an undercover unit. When a gangster's moll (Gertrude Astor) moves in across the hall, the bored Breamer falls in with her and her boyfriend, played by Bruce Gordon. At first, Astor is amused by the housewife, but when Gordon starts to shower her with gifts and dates to a night club, Astor changes her mind and seeks revenge.

Breamer pretty much retired soon after this film (to get married) and appeared in only four more silents that were released through 1926. A 1924 review in Film Daily said that Breamer was "suitable as the wife" but gave higher marks to Jack Mower as the policeman husband and Astor as the "gilded lily."

Here's where it gets weird. An article in Exhibitor's Herald on March 201, 1926 boasted that Herman F. Jans had just completed a film titled THE ROARING FORTIES. This refers to a couple of blocks in New York's theater district. Jans went on to say that "no district in the world can compare" and that it "caters to every sort of individual and where characters of every sort reside." The writer claimed, "It was for this reason that he had a story of this section of New York prepared and made into a motion picture."

It never bothered to explain that Jans has bought ROBES OF SIN and simply retitled it and was releasing it as a new picture. Variety noted in its June 23, 1926 review that "it must have been made some time ago, for the skirts of the female players are down to the ankles, or maybe the producers are modest.' It then states that "Miss Breamer has been idle for over a year. This picture was probably made before that."

Robes of Sin is a good example of the emerging changes in America's lifestyle in the Jazz Age and the restlessness of modern housewives. The night club scenes feature some snappy dancers (although they are unbilled). The film also features William Buckley as the Banjo Kid and Lassie Lou Ahern as the baby. Ahern was one of the last surviving silent players; she died in 2018.
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That's My Boy (1981–1986)
10/10
Mollie Sugden as Ida Willis
14 March 2020
Very funny but minor comedy series from the 80s that stars the terrific Mollie Sugden as a pushy, possessive, and very funny mother.

Odd plot has Sugden as Ida Willis, a middle-aged woman who works as a domestic. When she shows up for a new job, she discovers that the doctor she's working for (Christopher Blake) is the baby she gave up for adoption 28 years before. While this seems like an odd starting point for a comedy, it injects some tension in the relationships between mother and son and adopted mother (Clare Richards).

The snooty adoptive mother has raised the boy, named Robert, to be a proper prig. Down-to-earth Ida constantly needles the doctor, whom she named Shane after a soap opera character, to break through his pomposity, much to the delight of his sweet wife (Jennifer Lonsdale).

Lurking in the corners is Ida's shiftless brother Wilfred (Harold Goodwin) who's a thorn in her side and an embarrassment to Robert.

In the fourth season, Robert gets the chance at his own medical practice in the country, so the shows packs up and moves to a new locale. This season also brings in the marvelous Deddie Davies as the medical secretary Edith Parfitt.

The series provided another great character for the wonderful Mollie Sugden, joining Mrs. Slocombe from "Are You Being Served?" in the pantheon of unforgettable British comedy characters.
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8/10
Violent and Unfunny
9 March 2020
Minnie and Moskowitz (1971) is a John Cassavetes film that purports to be a a romantic comedy/drama about the affair between a lonely museum worker (Gena Rowlands) and a car parker (Seymour Cassel). She's in an abusive relationship with a married man (Cassavetes) and he's in a world of his own. A parade of loony and violent characters come and go in this long and probably largely improvised film. The best scene comes toward the end when the stars improbably decide to wed and gather their mothers for a dinner. Cassel's loony-but-cheerful ma is played by Katherine Cassavetes and Rowlands' ma is played by the elegant Lady Rowlands. Both mothers are in total disbelief but try to be supportive.

One of the more interesting characters is an old-maid co-worker of Rowlands who's played by Elsie Ames. Ames had co-starred in several of Buster Keaton's short films for Columbia in the early 40s.
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10/10
Shirley Mason and William Collier, Jr.
5 March 2020
This early Frank Capra silent stars Shirley Mason as a deli girl who thinks she loves a swaggering boxer (Johnny Walker). He only has eyes for himself. But she is loved by a timid dressmaker (William Collier, Jr.) who works across the street and puts her face on all his dress designs. When he comes across tickets to the "boxers ball" he invites her, lending her dresses from his store so she can swank up.

At he dance, the boxer takes a shine to the gussied-up Shirley and takes her away from Collier, who he eventually ejects into the muddy streets. Of course Collier takes boxing lessons and ends up in a big match against Walker after his opponent cops outs. The ending is assured after Shirley stuffs the big dope with salami and pickles and milk and Collier goes to work on his stomach.

The stars try hard but the material is just too weak. Mason (at age 28) was very near the end of her movie career, but looks great as the gussied-up deli girl. Collier is also quite good as the hero. Walker's character is too one-note to do anything with.
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Quiet Wedding (1941)
9/10
The Runaway Bride ... and Groom
17 February 2020
QUIET WEDDING is a pleasant comedy that borders on the screwball. Margaret Lockwood and Derek Farr want a simple wedding, but the family blows it up into an event which causes friction between the loving couple. As the parade of intrusive and daffy relatives seems endless, the lovers run off to be alone but get into a slight car accident and then run afoul of the law ... and almost miss their own wedding.

Lockwood was a megastar of British cinema (she made a few Hollywood films) and is quite appealing here as the harried bride. Farr is also good as the clueless groom. The large cast includes some very familiar faces. The bride's parents are played by Marjorie Fielding and A.E. Mathews. David Tomlinson is the goofy son who brings home a daffy girlfriend (Peggy Ashcroft). There's the family friend (Athene Seyler) who helps the bride get away, and an obliging cook (Muriel George) who helps out. Bernard Miles is a hoot as the by-the-book copper. Martita Hunt plays the imperious dressmaker and Frank Cellier is the groom's businessman daddy. Others have smaller roles, with Margaret Rutherford playing a magistrate, Muriel Pavlow the teenage sister, Jean Cadell and Margaret Halstan as aunts, Margaretta Scott as the runaway sister, Roland Culver as Boofy, O.B. Clarence as the dense magistrate, Viola Lyel as the secretary, and Hay Petrie as the contrary train porter. Somewhere among the extras are Terry-Thomas and Esma Cannon.

In 1941, this film must have been a welcome respite from the war and war films.
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8/10
Edgar Jones to the Rescue
6 February 2020
THE KNIGHT OF THE PINES stars Edgar Jones as a man who thinks he's getting married, but his sweetie (Edna May Sperl) runs off with another man (Ben Henricks). He goes on a bender and attacks the local game warden (Carlton Brickert) and runs off into the woods.

Later, when he hears that his rival is deadly ill, he goes to the lumber camp where he's dying and drags him across the frozen land back to his wife. A doctor is then able to save his life, and Jones faces up to his punishment.
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9/10
Digging for Clams
2 February 2020
WHERE THE WINDS BLOW was directed by Laurence Trimble on the Maine coast (possibly Cape Elizabeth) in the summer of 1910. It stars Florence Turner, Leo Delaney, and Jean the Vitagraph dog. Simple story has Delaney giving his dog to Turner while he goes to sea. When her father runs out of money, he must return to the sea (with Delaney). There is a shipwreck and the old man is among the survivors. Broke, they must move away. Turner is reduced to digging clams for a living (Jean helps) until Delaney miraculously returns from his watery grave. Short and sweet with beautiful (if windy) location shots. Turner is very pretty and Jean gets to do more than in her other surviving films.

The film is alternately known as A SAILOR'S SACRIFICE.
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1/10
Incredibly Bad
31 January 2020
Lame story and bad acting sink this from the get-go. And why on earth would anyone do a series that's set on Martha's Vineyard and film it in Vancouver?

Jesse Metcalfe isn't bad as the Boston cop retired for an injury. He returns to the Vineyard to clean up his dead father's affairs and gets involved with a sappy doctor (Sarah Lind) and a local murder. The murder plot is lame and not terribly interesting. The acting is atrocious.

The setting looks nothing like the real Martha's Vineyard no matter how many times they mention Boston. By the way, the Vineyard is not off the coast of Boston, it's off the coast of Cape Cod. The sweeping vistas of the island (with skyscrapers in the distance) are insulting to anyone who's been to the Vineyard.

Aside from Metcalfe's Jeff Jackson, the characters are all dumber than dirt. The local police chief (the doctor's daddy) is a total dope. The doctor herself never seems to work and becomes Jeff's sidekick, traipsing around the island in high-heeled sandals and "little outfits." Indeed, all the women overdress, which is a key as to who the audience is for this tripe.

The other annoying thing is that the characters walk around with their coffees though it's obvious the cups are all empty. Also, the characters trample every crime scene and don't even wear gloves while they poke around. Bleh!
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Sorority Girl (1957)
1/10
Absolutely Hideous
27 January 2020
Susan Cabot stars as a spoiled rich college girl names Sabra. As an upperclassman she like to taunt and order about a fattish pledge named Ellie (Barbara Cowan), which irritates fellow student Rita (Barboura Morris). Sabra just seems to spread misery everywhere she goes.

Even a meeting with her mother (Fay Baker) leads to mama's tearing up Sabra's monthly allowance check. This just makes Sabra meaner and she eventually paddles Ellie and has a cat fight with Rita. When she learns that dopey Terry is pregnant, Sabra launches a plan to blackmail Mort (Dick Miller) and extort $1,000 from him by claiming he's the father.

Later on, at the beach, Terry goes into a funk and decides to jump off a cliff. Will anything save her?

Fay Baker is fun as the mean mama; everyone else is terrible. Cabot and Morris were also in THE WASP WOMAN together.
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8/10
In Days Gone By
26 January 2020
Sweet 1-reeler stars Florence Turner and Leo Delaney in a simple story of love found, love lost, and love found again.

On a beach in Maine during a long-ago summer Florence decides to meet a man walking along with his dog (Jean the Vitagraph dog). So she throws her hat in the sea and yells for help. The man comes along and sends Jean into the water to fetch the hat. There's a mutual attraction.

They go to a boardwalk (the newly built Palace Playland) and have their pictures (tin-types) taken. That night, each places the picture in a locket. Loves seems to have bloomed. But the next day they have a lover's quarrel over a misunderstanding about the pictures and they part. But Jean takes the correct picture of Florence to her while she sleeps on the beach (actually Portland's Back Cove). When she wakes she sends the picture of Leo she has in her locket back to him via Jean. They make up.

Th final shot has the lovers huddling on a rock while they gaze out to sea and Jean trying to get up on the rock with them. The End.

This was filmed in the Portland, Maine area in 1910 by Laurence Trimble (Jean's trainer) as one of a series of films shot that summer. Jean was one of the very first dog stars and was hugely popular with audiences.

It's interesting to note in the scene where Florence Turner is letting down her hair, the B&M bean factory can be seen across the cove. It's still there today.
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10/10
Janet Gaynor Saves the Day
26 January 2020
THE JOHNSTOWN FLOOD is a good silent film with some spectacular flood scenes. The plot has George O'Brien as a young engineer working for a lumber company owned by snarky Anders Randolf. He has a big new lumber contract to fulfill and is going full steam to do so. Although he's warned that the dam (which he owns) is structurally unsound, his lead engineer (Paul Nicholson) tells him it has been repaired. That's a lie, but Randolf is willing to believe it because the dam regulates the river which ensures the logs go downstream. Into this fray come Florence Gilbert, O'Brien's fiancee Gloria (and Randolf's niece). There's also Janet Gaynor as the young Anna, daughter of a logging foreman (Paul Panzer). She loves O'Brien, but he only has eyes for Gloria. Others in the cast include Max Davidson as the local department store owner. His role is meant to be comic relief, but the Jewish stereotype gets to be a bit much. There's also Kay Deslys in a dance number during a local show. Among the bit players are Carole Lombard, Clark Gable, and Gary Cooper! Rumor has it that Florence Lawrence is also recognizable.

Special effects aside, the real star here is Miss Gaynor. I had thought she had a small role early in her career, but she's actually the female co-lead and she's excellent. While Gilbert plays it straight as the lovely niece who eventually lands O'Brien, Gaynor's role allows her to do some comedy as the teenager and she gets the big scene when she saves the day (sort of) by galloping through the town on a horse, warning people the dam is about to blow.

Directed by Irving Cummings and photographed by George Schneiderman, this was one of the big hits of 1926 and helped make Gaynor a major star at the Fox Studio.
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9/10
Nares Aside
11 January 2020
This film is often considered to be the first film produced by Ealing Studio. It starts out as a standard shipboard romance between the ship's doctor (Owen Nares) and a bored and neglected housewife (Betty Stockfeld). But once on dry land, it turns into a psychological thriller.

It seems that the hypochondriac husband (Allan Jeayes) is abusive and jealous of Betty's attraction to Owen, but he needs an operation that only Owen can perform. So he writes a letter to his attorney, to be opened if he dies during the operation, stating that Betty has had an affair with Owen and that they did away with him. He hands the letter to his footman (George Curzon) to mail.

Owen is then forced into performing the operation. But the footman has a long-standing dislike of his employer, and he has his own reason for seeing him dead. Will he survive the operation? Will Betty and Owen find happiness?

Yes, the acting is broad but the film gets better as it goes along and the "plot thickens." Co-stars include Florence Harwood as the cook and Aubrey Mather as Dr. Bartlett.
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