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We shall not see it's like again
This is not only a superb effort at Film Making but it is perhaps something that we may never be able to do again without CGI. A tale of the Second World War told and shown without Graphics. It is a Milestone film that will stand with epics like "The Longest Day" and "The Battle of Britain", the latter to which I believe Christopher Nolan gives homage to both for the aerial sequences and the fact that the two Films must be companion pieces forever in telling of the events of the time.
Shot in 70mm as were the others (a very expensive process that only a money making Director could get approval for) There is an amazing and thankful lack of CGI in this Film and is used only where absolutely needed. Those are real Spitfires, Bf-109s, Heinkel-111 bombers engaged in air combat. They are nearly extinct and getting this made is a historic document that likely can not be repeated. Mr. Nolan is known for films which rely heavily on CGI and here he proves that he does not need it to make film.
It's relentless, when you think you might get a bit of comic relief or calmness you get hit again. It's harrowing and there is no other word. Making history unrelenting is far harder than making fantasy exciting and Nolan has proved his "Chops" as a Film Maker with this film.
It is hard to call out from what is essentially a flawless cast so I won't try other than to say the ensemble is perfect. Probably the best coming together of British Actors in many a year. If this doesn't get Best Picture both at the BAFTA's and the Oscar's its a crime.
Not a spoiler but an Easter Egg: Early on when the Spitfires are communicating with Fighter Command the voice of same was very familiar. Michael Caine :)
Broadway Bad (1933)
A great pre-code with an impossible cast!
This very little known pre-code is quite a find. While it is a bit creaky it also pretty amazing. I stumbled upon it while searching for a decent print of another PD film ( The Hitler Gang 1944). As I am always on a quest to see Warner Brothers material (I estimate I have seen every WB "A" of the Classic Era and 70% of the "B"s still known to exist) I read the cast with growing excitement:
Joan Blondell Ricardo Cortez Ginger Rogers Donald Crisp
Has to be Warners! So I got it and when the credits rolled I was astounded to learn that this 1933 cast of WB contract players was somehow loaned to (William) Fox Pictures! It is going to be another of my quests to find out how this came about. There was certainly no love lost between Jack Warner and William Fox (for that matter between anyone and Fox) Production values at Fox weren't on par with Warners and it shows in this picture. That would change just a few years later when Warners brilliant Production Chief Darryl F. Zanuck, having had JL try to pull a fast one on him defected and partnered with Fox which then became 20th Century-Fox).
On to the picture in question. If you are a Joan Blondell fan you will love her here. Instead of a brassy sidekick she gets to be the romantic lead for probably the only time in her career (and to the earlier reviewer who reviles her, you Sir, are an ass). Ricardo Cortez, who had been born Jakob Krantz came to Hollywood in the '20's a Warners poor mans Valentino. He survived well into the sound era and was one of WB early leading men in talkies. He would later play hard and evil men (See Wonderbar 1934 if you can find it). Here he is perfectly cast as a wealthy wooer (and user) of beautiful women, but who turns out to have a heart of gold.
Ginger Rogers is also, as usual, good as Joans sidekick just before her own breakout role in "42nd Street" Donald Crisp is seen only briefly in a forgettable role through no fault of his own. The rest of the cast is adequate and for some reason IMDb lists Victor Jory in the cast, which has to be a mistake.
Summation? It's the best pre-code sizzler Warner Brothers never made. What I like to call a"Nugget".
Nobody does Catholic like Jack Warner.
I'm going to review this film on it's merits as to production only without religious comment, though a bit of politics will creep in.
By 1952 Warner Brothers were right upfront on the Red Baiting bandwagon since first being castigated for wartime propaganda films now deemed subversive by the HUAC and Joseph McCarthy. Warners paid a very heavy penance for "Mission To Moscow (1943)" a positively ludicrous pro-Soviet, pro-Stalin nightmare that the studio had made at the behest of no less than FDR himself. It is a travesty to say the least. So the political element in this film is given a decidedly Anti-communist vent not historically true to the events. The portrayal of one Portugese "Commissar" (no other word suffices) is so malevolent, threatening among other things to boil a child in oil, that you might not think that Oscar Homolka might have filled the part nicely. But he was busy enough being a commie ogre in other films.
Leaving that behind this is one of the best A pictures of the period with little spared. Not a lot of star power but a tightly directed and scripted reverent film. Regardless of one beliefs to watch this film without considering faith is to reveal a fine Motion Picture. I recommend it highly.
While the entire cast is excellent it is the always marvelous Gilbert Roland who, not unusually, steals the picture. The screen comes alive whenever "Amigo" is in the frame. He was larger than life and lasted from silents in the early '20's right up until the 80's...not without good reason!
Two Smart People (1946)
An unfairly labeled little gem with three smart stars.
Somewhere during the formation of the Film Noir cult somebody decided to include Two Smart People in the Genre and that has hobbled it's reputation ever since. Sure, it is Directed by Jules Dassin and had two of the great stars of Noir, the indispensable LLoyd Nolan and John Hodiak, who had teamed in the great Noir Somewhere In The Night just prior to this film. But none of that means it MUST be Noir and it isn't, nor was it intended to be.
What it is is a bit of a charming Romantic Fantasy inside of a Morality Play wrapped in a minor Crime Drama. In feel it very much reminds me of Remember The Night. Lots of smiles, no belly laughs. There is a small bit of violence, but other than that it's a fantasy.
Hodiak is great as a charming rogue with a heart of gold and penchants for fraud and gastronomics. He is perfect for the role and plays it with great amusement. Someone else had said that this is the nadir of Lucille Ball's days at MGM and I couldn't disagree more...if they had been giving her roles like this right along she would have been a major Star, something which would have to wait for television. Nolan steals the picture which is to be expected from one of the very best character actors Hollywood has ever been fortunate to have.
Lloyd Corrigan is in it but if you blink you miss him, Elisha Cook is the real bad guy and is terrible, which makes it so much better when he gets his. Solid supporting cast including Hugo Haas who has a nice turn and Vladimir Sokoloff playing yet another ethnic part...this time he's French! I liked it, glad I saw it and it's going to be on my favs list...I was lucky enough to recognize it for what it is early in and settled down to enjoy it. Wouldn't make a bad double bill come Christmas with Remember The Night. If you want Noir. look elsewhere.
Out of the Fog (1941)
Broadway hits a Dead End in Burbank.
As my username might suggest I like just about all things Warner but my Film Nut soul has to accept that not everything that came out of Burbank during the Classic Days was great. "Out Of The Fog" is an example. Despite an A budget and a cast of normally terrific actors, a Director who had helmed some of my very favorite films and photographed by no less than James Wong Howe it falls flat. Just flat.
First, it is insanely stage-bound due to it's Broadway origins, very much like "Dead End" had been, though that film had much more interesting material and developed characters. It portrays , supposedly, life in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. This is accomplished by a pier along side the water tank. A persistent fog seems to prevail over lovely Sheepshead Bay...which helps to disguise how stagy the entire production is. I'm not sure what came first, the fog or the title. It isn't helped by Howe electing to use a soft effect which blurs the whole thing. (OK, it may be the only print is needing restoration). The comparison to "Dead End" is magnified by the presence of Leo Gorcey.
Next we have John Garfield. I only know of two films in which he played a truly bad guy, this one and "He Ran All The Way" in which he is terrific. Here he gets to be a total Sociopath. Ripe for an Actor? Character development? A dark complex performance? Nope. He walks on, reads the lines (and plays to the back of the house like he is back on Broadway) and manages only to make some overcoats look good. Supposedly Bogart (who at the time was less of a star at Warner's than Ida Lupino OR Eddie Albert...which would change after "High Sierra" and "The Maltese Falcon) was to play the Gangster part and Ida Lupino pulled weight to get him off the picture. I think Bogie was lucky, his days playing thankless bad guy parts was about to be over. He dodged a bullet on this one.
And then we have Ms. Lupino, who I adore, the magnificent Thomas Mitchell and the always perfect John Qualen. Qualen gets a walk playing a Fisherman who would materialize in whole on an Airliner in "The High And The Mighty" 15 years later. Lupino is very obviously not happy to be here, and her English accent slips out quite a bit more than usual. And Thomas Mitchell is given such a drivel ridden script that even he can't overcome it. Kudos to George Tobias (as ever) who gets to do a monologue that belonged on Broadway and sinks here. He is great, it stinks.
Why did I give it a 6 instead of a five? I like overcoats.
Roughly Speaking (1945)
Jack and Roz having a fine time!
Roughly Speaking was a pleasant little surprise when I caught it recently, like a lot of others I had never heard of it before. Russell is her always competent self and there is a bit of her future role of Auntie Mame in this performance. I have come to appreciate Jack Carson much more than I used to now that I am seeing a larger body of his work thanks to TCM and he is terrific in this playing against his usual type. IMHO it's his best performance at Warner's, just squeaking out his in The Hard Way.
There is chemistry galore between Roz and Jack and that's what makes the picture work. They do indeed seem to be enjoying it and without Carson this could have been a boring weeper. Supporting cast is excellent, particularly the great Ray Collins. The only exception is Robert Hutton as the Son. Mr. Hutton was always hampered by the fact that he couldn't act.
I think it rates a solid 7.5 Lastly, is it me, or does this film decidedly not feel like a Michael Curtiz helmed picture? Someone else tried to contrast it to Mildred Pierce which is wholly unfair...they are distinctly different types of films.
Flowing Gold (1940)
I want to echo an earlier comment and say that this clearly was written for Pat O'Brien and James Cagney who had terrific chemistry (Ceiling Zero, Angels With Dirty Faces, The Fighting 69th, Torrid Zone and the sublime Boy Meets Girl).
Instead we get O'Brien, nearing the end of his Warners career with John Garfield who was just becoming one of the Studios biggest Stars, along with Francis Farmer as the love interest. It seems no one is willing to be critical of Farmer because of the tragic occurrences of her off-screen life, but I just plain don't care for her in this, partially because the Director gives her a hollow role and partially because she has zero chemistry with Garfield. In one rather unfortunate scene she and Garfield are riding in an open car and it is painfully clear that she is taller than Garfield...it looks like he needs a booster seat!
Having said all that, it is a good if formulaic A-, it's pure Warner's from beginning to end, has a great supporting cast and it's great fun to watch. A good solid 6 and for Warner's fans an 8. But you can't but wonder what Cagney would have made it.
Affair in Trinidad (1952)
"Why would a man kill himself if he had..."
Much has been said about 'Gilda" and "Notorius" in relation to "Affair in Trinidad" and they are really necessary as there is not the slightest doubt that this is a deliberate effort to exploit both. Unsuccessfuly. However it stands alone as a middle of the road production, particularly if you haven't seen the other two.
In 1946 the bad guys were Nazi's hiding out in South America. By 1952 it was the Red Menace, and that is ridiculously forced into the plot, such as it is. Time had not, sadly, been good to Rita Hayworth and she is given a thankless and empty role here, sans script and direction. And that may be the answer...it's one of those films where you wonder how good it might have been with another at the helm. The whole thing is quite listless, really.
It's missing a few things, like Cary Grant, Claude Rains, George MacReady,Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Calleia, Alfred Hitchcock and 'King" Vidor.
There is one reason to make this a must see: The "I've Been Kissed Before" dance number. Though her voice was dubbed this is the damn best number Gilda never did. It's Hayworth at her best. It's worth the whole movie.
Roxie Hart (1942)
A wild Screwball Comedy from "Wild Bill" Wellman!
First off I am a big fan of William Wellman who isn't exactly known for Comedy. Here he does a bang up job of it. Second, I am not a big Ginger Rodgers fan but this has instantly become my fav film of hers. I always liked her in her blonde dame days at Warners more than in the RKO Musicals. I think that is one of the problems some reviewers have with "Roxie Hart". The other, apparently, is people who insist on comparing this to "Chicago". What a waste of time. "Chicago" is a modern Musical and "Roxie" is a fast paced, cynical Comedy. When you see this, just forget about "Chicago" and pay attention to this film, because it requires and deserves attention. There is a lot of little "business" going on and a second look is recommended.
It isn't a musical yet it has one of the best musical numbers ever, the memorable "Black Bottom" which the entire cast absurdly and marvelously breaks out into in the prison. Probably the only time you will ever get to see Lynn Overman and George Montgomery singing and dancing! It also has a tour de force tap number for Ginger Rodgers on a metal staircase.
Ginger is great and is aided by a super cast of dependable actors. The comments about Menjou's age are ridiculous and again stem from comparison with "Chicago". George Montgomery is actually good as well and I am far from a fan of his but like him here. William Frawley is well used here and keep an eye on him, he uses his face and his hands subtly in reaction. One of the great character actors.
It isn't "Chicago" nor a Fred-and-Ginger. If you sought it out expecting either you will be disappointed. Sit back and enjoy it for itself and you will love it.
The Hard Way (1943)
Confession: I am a (Long)life-long Warners junkie, a huge Ida Lupino fan and have been in love with Joan Leslie since I was a kid. And somehow I managed to miss The Hard Way until today, for which I am deeply regretful. Many of my own thoughts are presented in earlier reviews so I will add only a few, particularly that Jack Carson is given his second best dramatic role at Warners after Mildred Pierce plus he is given the shortest, most poignant and best delivered line in the picture, which you can easily miss: "Thanks." Dennis Morgan has his by far best dramatic performance, period. Makes you wonder if he might have done some later '40's noir. And the big "IF", was Vincent Sherman not the best choice to helm this? I sat here longing for the whip-hand of Michael Curtiz...the edges and pacing under Sherman are too soft. That might have been a 10, but as is an essential 8 at least. WB never failed and this is from the golden age. Happy 88 to Miss Joan Leslie!
The Doughgirls (1944)
You either get it or you don't
Many of the reviews here seem to be posted by people who have no clue as to the time period of history which this film is set in. When you watch an older contemporary film you need to be able to watch it with the mindset of a viewer seeing it in a theater at it's release. If you can't relate to 1944, you don't get this film. If you do it's a true gem.
Warner's threw it's best female leads at this, Ann Sheridan, Jane Wyman and Alexis Smith (sans Bette Davis), capped off with Eve Arden in a memorable role, added Jack Carson and the reliable John Ridgely, stirred in Charlie Ruggles, Alan Mowbry and Regis Toomey in brief support and a supporting cast rated A+ It is a manic comedy, but if you don't get the political and historic tongue in cheek it falls flat. If you do, sublime!
Waste of a great cast
It isn't difficult to see why this film was held back from release for two years. On a strictly personal level, when I get to see a retorted film noir from Warner's with Edmond O'Brien, Dane Clark and Virginia Mayo, I'm in. But this wasted all of them along with a supporting cast including uncredited parts by some previously and later known stalwarts.
It isn't really much of a film noir, borrows heavily from others and is quite poorly helmed by Vincent Sherman who completely mis-handles the actors and is lensed in a very lackluster fashion.
If you are an O' Brien fan like me, he is a cameo on this pic and by the time it was released was a leading man. Dependable Dane Clark is used over the top of his skills and lovely Virginia Mayo is denied her chance to shine as the good girl. Gordon McRae isn't nearly as bad as some have said, but suffers from a directorial failure.
I do feel the need to comment on a previous review above regarding a subtextual homosexual relationship between McRae and O'Brien. They have a total of less than 4 minutes screen time together and the rest of the film can only lead me to think that the reviewer may have a penchant for finding skeletons not in this particular closet.
Vincent Sherman made some exceptional films "The Hard Way" comes to mind, but this is one of his least efforts.
Pride of the Marines (1945)
There isn't a lot to say that hasn't been said, This is a masterpiece on the level of "The Best Years of Our Lives" and Delmar Davies best picture. A fantastic supporting cast and Garfield is great. But special mention to Eleanor Parker who is superb (and i am not a fan) and thank heavens that the always wonderful Rosemary De Kamp had an opportunity to play a role where she was the young and attractive woman she was, and not the Mother!
IMDb requires more text, so here is a shout out for Dane Clark,
and good old reliable Tom Ridgely!
Fate Is the Hunter (1964)
It is what it is, and isn't.
To repeat what an earlier reviewer has said "It's better if you aren't a pilot". That sums up the matter quite succinctly. It also has nothing whatever to do with Gann's masterpiece auto-biographical novel of the same name.
FITH fairly quickly made it's way to TV in the mid-sixty's, panned and scanned to death. Still, as a kid in love with all things airplanes, I watched it many times and it became a favorite along with such great and small films dealing with aviation, pilots and airlines. Since then the kid read the book, learned to fly, served in the Air Force and then spent years in the Airlines.
Got to see this again and the first time in it's widescreen "glory" on TCM after 40 years, and while it is laughable in some ways technically ( I won't bore you...i try to be mindful that flyers are good at that), I still enjoyed it's somber tone and character study of the Captain of the doomed airliner. It's flashback based structure is no less distracting than "The Crowded Sky" of four years earlier, and the cast of mostly second string players does a workmanlike job of it. Kudos go to Mark Stevens as a dipso ex-pilot in a very nice turn, one I think may be his best performance. Thumbs down to Nancy Kwann, miscast, and only here because it was made during her 15 minutes. Dorothy Malone has a nice cameo.
Do I still like it? Well, yeah...I do. If you get the chance, see it.
You either get it, or you're stupid.
Like "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra", "Returns Again" is best described as wonderfully talented people doing very silly things. It's really impossible to single anyone out...every player is spot-on. My only negative comment is that they aren't going to do "Ghost of the Lost Skeleton". I would keep seeing them as long as Mr. Blamire and company want to make them, but alas, this will be the end.
It is an absolute prerequisite to see the original film to even begin to get this movie, something the above reviewer obviously did not bother to do before writing a moronic "review" (or is it the ramblings of a feeble mind?). To accuse the producers of writing false reviews, given the cult status of these films, is nothing less than an outrage. Unfortunately, the IMDb rules do not ban stupidity.
Watch it, don't compare it.
Don't read the reviews comparing it to other films before watching it on it's own merits, which are many. A damn fine Noir which isn't beholding to any other.
IMDb requires ten lines of text, but instead of impressing you with my opinions, I'll do this:
Kim Novak is stunning physically and memorable performance wise.
Fred Mc Murray is excellent on the northern-edge of his leading man days.
The first 3 minutes are perfect.
Really, the first 3 minutes make it worth watching.
LA at night, the land that built noir.
See it. Trust me.
The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947)
Bad, Bogie, bad...
Quickly: I am a rabid Bogart fan since I first saw "Casablanca" at age 12. I have now collected every film he appeared in except for two shorts and "A Devil With Women" (1930), which seems to be eternally lost. this has taken 43 years. So, with my Bona Fides intact: Famously, Bogart said that the worst film he was ever in was "Swing Your Lady". Objectively true, though he was quite good in it. My vote would be "The Return of Dr. X", a bad movie and he is painfully unhappy in it.
But without a doubt, the worst Bogie ever was in a film is in "TTMCs" Barbera Stanwyck (not surprisingly) and Alexis Smith steal it. He is just wrong for it and his star power evidently caused the Director to let him have a loose reign. Even the best have a stinker now and then.
Chicago Overcoat (2009)
Not what I was expecting....
I finally got to see this (Let's just say it fell off the back of a computer) after waiting for a year because I am, admittedly, a Frank Vincent fan (we share common roots, and I got to meet him, nice man) and a mob movie fan.
So what we have here is a well produced film that doesn't know what it is about. Mob movie, Conspiracy movie, semi-Action movie, Character Study, Shoot-'m up? I like all of them but not when they are put in a blender. It is a director failure primarily, with some good writing, but not much.
Vincent is great as always given what he has. He wisely nuances his Jersey accent into a Chicago one without trying to go all the way in to play as a Chicago native and make a blatant mistake. It works. Kathrine Narducci is truly excellent in a limited role.
But that is about where the acting ends. Aside from Armand Assante and Stacey Keach in cameos that last minutes and seconds, the cast in this is pretty awful. Again, this is in the end a director failure.
Some of it is just silly...a hood with a record keeps a Thompson submachine gun in plain view on a wall in his apartment. Federal rap? No Problem. And he keeps it there for nostalgia for the old days...is he 95? The Thompson is Al Capone, not the 60's and 70's Vincent's character would have come up in.
No, I really wanted to like this, but there is nothing even remotely new here...it's one of those annoying movies where you sit there and identify the other movies you saw it in as you go along.
BIG SPOILER ALERT!! Do not read further before seeing!! Danny Goldring is absolutely horrid in this as the driven older detective. Just horrid. You clap your hands and go "Yes!" when Lou shoots him in the face and walks away. It is intended as irony...it ends up as just being glad somebody shot the actor.
The Early Film Life of Colonel Blimp
I can't add much to what has already been said of this wonderful film, but I would like to comment further on an observation made by an earlier reviewer vis-a-vis Ralph Richardson's superb portrayal of Colonel Winstanley.
The earlier reviews stated that this character was the inspiration for David Low's immortal Colonel Blimp, but that could not be the case. By 1936 Blimp was a well known cartoon character, Low having begun drawing him for the "Evening Standard" some years before.
Having said that, I have not the slightest doubt that the xenophobic, colonialist, anti-science and closed-minded Blimp was the inspiration for Colonel Winstanley.
And I have no further doubt whatever that Winstanley was forefront in the mind of Powell and Pressburger when they brought him to life as the much more sympathetic Colonel (later General) Clive Wynn-Candy in the the masterpiece "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" eight years later.
Having seen "Blimp" many times prior to seeing "The Man Who Could Work Miracles", my ears immediately went up in the scene where the character is first mentioned, thinking Hello, could it be? And then in the next cut, there is Winstanley in all his Blimpish glory and the little light bulb above the head goes off and you get that immensely satisfying moment of having put another film thread together...
Hard, Fast and Beautiful! (1951)
If you never see a an Ida Lupino-directed film...
...PLEASE make it this one.
I love Ida Lupino as an Actor, and more so as a Director. I love Claire Trevor. This truly disappoints.
Turgid Potboiler, and you can sit there and write-ahead on the plot.
IMDb requires ten lines of text for this opinion to pass. That would be a review, not an opinion.
SEE Claire Trevor in "Key Largo"!
SEE Ida Lupino in "They Drive By Night"!
SEE Ida Lupino Direct "The Hitchhiker"!
SEE them when this is on another channel!
The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2001)
Yes, I'm giving it a "9"!!
So much has been said about this that I can't add much, but here are my three comments:
1) You either get it, or you don't. If you don't, please refrain from procreation.
2) These are ALL wonderfully talented people! Why do we not see them working all over the place? Just amazing what they do on screen. And the Crew did a helluva job for the money. I was surprised by the blooper reel that this was shot in color and desaturated. Yet, the feeling in B&W is perfect for the late '50's/'60's film stocks... really excellent.
3)Larry Blemire is, on the acting side, the lightweight of the film (for which he is forgiven for making it). His consolation? He is married to Jennifer Blaire, who does wonders for a cat suit as "Animala"
I just discovered it, and it's now a solid cult favorite for me, and it gets a 9 for Best In Class.
Angels Wash Their Faces (1939)
Worth it for any Warner's fan
I don't have much to add to what has been said before, but it's very much a film of it's time, and the first (and likely only) time that the studio hung the film totally on the Dead End Kids.
The Warner's gave the boys plenty of help, from director Ray Enright and an 'A' budget, to an almost magical cast of supporting actors. At every turn, we get one of those gem performances from real pros. They are too many to list, but it seems like just about everybody on the Warner's lot (Sans the very biggest stars) walk through this picture. (See if you can spot John Ridgely)
The only over the top performance is from the always reliable Eduardo Cianelli as a mob boss with a messianistic complex. He plays this character almost exactly like that of the Thuggie leader in "Gunga Din". He's something to watch! And Marjorie Main is excellent and gets her best role since "Dead End".
My bid for this one is a second feature on a double bill with something like "City for Conquest".
Hooray for Warners!
711 Ocean Drive (1950)
Influences past and future...
Contemporary dramas suffer from a problem...when viewed by later audiences, they require a historical prospective.
I saw this film for the first time last night, and it had me rivited to the screen. Not because it is brilliant. Because it is interesting on it's own merits and, more importantly, wildly interesting on the level of the connections with real-life and films before and after it. This is going to be a bit long, but I am in the process going to nominate this film for Lost Classic status. It was one of those wonderful (thank you TCM) discoveries that makes you say "Why have I never heard of this???". "711 Ocean Drive" falls into the gray area of Film Noir/Policer/Mob Movie. As a Policer, it's a total failure. As Film Noir, definitely. As a Mob Movie, incredibly forward for it's time.
Director Joe Newman did not have a stellar or particularly prolific career. Likely his best known films would be "This Island Earth" and "The Big Circus". The same can be said for the Writers, English and Swann. The film is immensely helped by Cinematographer Franz (Frank) Planer, who had what can only be called an illustrious career, including 5 Oscar nominations. Only a year before, he filmed the Noir classic "Criss-Cross. The aggressive camera work here could make one wonder who really directed this.
There are large portions of this film which owe to earlier pictures, but so do just about all movies. "High Sierra" has been mentioned, though I don't really see it here. "White Heat", only a year before and also with Edmond O'Brien? Yes, but I think they are both similar of the style Hollywood was reaching at the time. "711" actually feels more contemporary of the period. "Heat", while by far the better picture, seems almost a bit dated along side. The Warner's big budget didn't make it as atmospheric as "711", which captures 1950 Los Angeles and Vegas in a time capsule. The extensive location exteriors account for that; "White Heat" is relatively studio (or Prison) bound until the last minutes. And it's true noir; There are no good guys except the cops.
Other commentors have not seized on the things that make this most interesting, in that if you were around at the time (or seeing it today as a fan of mob movies), you would recognize some startling characters portrayed at a time which was arguably the high point of the power of American organized crime. When the ultimate lawman, John Edgar Hoover himself, swore before the country that "No national criminal conspiracy exists", which of course was the farthest thing from the truth, it was a pretty sweet time to be the Mafia.
Faithful Otto Kruger, doing what he does best in playing a genteel killer, is a thinly fictionalized Meyer Lansky. Don Porter, unusually good here as a suave sociopath, is a barely disguised Ben "Bugsy" Seigal. The assassination of Porter's character is a wonderfully accurate account of how killers, hiding in the bushes of Seigal's Beverly Hills home one night in 1947, pumped several rounds from an M-1 Carbine into the back of his head. They even get the gun right!. These things get better Sammy White, who plays Chippie, looks for all the world like a young(er) Lee Strasburg, who played the Meyer Lansky character in "Godfather II". Bert Freed, in a character clearly based on mobster Moe Dalitz , sports gigantic, obtrusive eyeglasses which you kind of expect to have something to do with the plot, much to your disappointment. But when you take into account that the Moe Greene character in "The Godfather" is based upon Ben Siegal and Moe Dalitz (who have ever since vied for the title "The man who built Las Vegas") AND that one of those bullets famously shot out Ben Siegal's right eye out maybe .that's why Moe got it in the eye? And the Glasses were a convenient place to put the blood squib .
Robert Osterloh, who was so very good in "Criss-Cross" (and sadly uncredited, considering the size if his part) is wasted here playing a killer named Gizzi who doesn't get to do much besides wear loud suits, snicker incessantly and get killed. Nonetheless, he's always watchable. Howard St. John is the real casting dud here, woefully wrong as the cop, but he's barely in the picture anyway. Joanne Dru is lovely and adequate as the dypsomaniacal and amoral wife of Porter. It's really not her fault, the script and the director don't give her much to do except provide a love triangle.
Edmund O'Brien is, I admit, a favorite actor of mine. Here he is in his element, providing the supercharged high-energy performance he was best at and in this one, it's like he's been wired into the power grid. He seems to be constantly in motion, and that's what keeps this movie moving with him. The only actor at the time who would have been better in this would have been Burt Lancaster. But O'Brien carries it off nicely, given what he has to work with.
There is one gigantic plot hole: There is no way on earth the syndicate would not suspect that O'Brien was responsible for Porters murder. He is having a very open affair with the guys wife, and just happens to be there to provide a silly excuse to get himself and Dru out of the line of fire at just the right moment? Men like Lansky were not stupid. However, a little suspended disbelief takes care of such holes.
So I hereby nominate this film for Forgotten Classic status...TCM has a print which they showed recently, so keep an eye out for it. To my knowledge it's not on VHS or DVD., which is a shame.
Central Airport (1933)
A nice job, in it's time.
Many of the earlier comments are right on the money, but some, well, not so much.
This Is hardly a 'B' movie...it's well produced, the live flying sequences are really superb, and the model sequences are first rate. It's no "cheapie".
Ricard Barthelmess is quite good in this, and it makes a a nice companion piece for "Only Angels Have Wings".
If you want to spot John Wayne, spot J. Carrol Naish first, they end up together.
Tom Browne is juvenile enough (and somewhat dull), but when they saddle him with the most pathetic pencil-mustache in Hollywood history, it makes his character even less believable. Sally Eilers is much more so.
As for later influences, this is Wellman in the early Airliner-in-Distress zone...the opening sequence of this film, with the Airline Operations guy arriving at the "Grand Central Airport" would have fit very nicely into "The High and the Mighty"...just imagine Regis Toomey...and a 1955 Buick.
Crazy Joe (1974)
Not a "Godfather" rip-off...It's a true story...
While I have not seen this film since it's release I am anxiously awaiting the day when it gets the well-deserved DVD release.
I would like to set something straight: Another reviewer insinuated that this is a "Godfather" rip-off, and nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact this film is the (largely) true story of the Gallo Brothers and particularly "Crazy" Joe Gallo. I have something of a personal interest in the movie because I lived in NYC during the days of the mob war triggered by the Gallos, and actually had the dubious honor of meeting Joe Gallo several times after his release from prison in 1971 (he had spent ten years educating himself in prison, and became something of a social butterfly and curiosity of the entertainment and arts crowd. I believe this is portrayed in the film.) As to the "Godfather" thing: Coppola/Puzo naturally used many real occurrences and characters from the real-life mafia. This has been analyzed to death elsewhere so I'll be specific here re the Gallo connection:
The sequence in GFII where Frankie Pantangeli is lured into an empty bar and the killers attempt to strangle him, only to be thwarted when a Police Officer enters the bar and sees the victims feet protruding from behind a table ACTUALLY happened. It is an EXACT re-enactment of the attempt to murder Larry Gallo in the Sahara bar in Brooklyn in either the late 50' or early 60's, during the Gallo-Profaci war.
The character of Joey Zaza in GFIII is clearly based on John Gotti and largely on Joe Gallo, who had been responsible for the worst gang wars in New York since the 1930's.
When I have a chance to see this again, I'm going to add my review, as I don't generally comment on movies unless I have recently viewed them.
One personal not: The one thing a do recall when I saw it the day it opened was that the great Peter Boyle did an excellent job, the thing that stuck out was Boyle was very tall and bald. Joe Gallo was shortish and dark blond as I recall.
UPDATE August 2007: I've just gotten a chance to see this again, and I'm surprised that it holds up very well indeed. This is a nearly perfect cast..Rip Torn is excellent as Richie (Larry Gallo) Peter Boyle is as usual right on his game. Luther Adler makes a great Profaci and Eli Wallach is nearly perfect as "Don Vittorio" (Carlo Gambino) He would get to essentially reprise the role in Godfather III. The only person better suited to the part would have been the great Richard Conte (though he had basically played Gambino as Don Barzini in The Godfather). Paula Prentiss does her best with a small, thankless and poorly written part.
The movie is fairly true to the facts (as we know them), but does need to condense and fictionalize events. Example: Two separate attempts to kill Joe and Larry Gallo are presented very effectively as one single event.
As much as I am a Peter Boyle fan, I have to say that I always felt that he was not the right person for the part. My own dream cast for this would have been Harvey Keitel, who was physically closer to Joe Gallo, and had the same kind of intensity as Boyle.
For some odd reason (probably that he was (and is)still alive), the third Gallo brother, Albert "Kid Blast" Gallo is absent completely from the film; Henry Winkler plays a much watered-down character named "Manny" in his stead. And a fun point: The name Gallo is never used in the film...however, in a scene where Joe is arrested for shaking down a liquor store, the place is comically stacked to the rafters with wine boxes marked "Gallo" in huge letters!!
All in all, a film that deserves true classic status in the mob-movie genre.