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A Tragedy at Midnight (1942)
A comic 'tragedy'.
Let's get over all this stuff about Powell-Loy. Howard-Lindsay hold their own in this Republic gem. I am all for 'the Republic for which it stands'.
The plot, not too original but, who cares? It was carried out beautifully by a cast of some of the era's most popular character actors.
The dialog, penned by a femme, was great fun and so well handled by John Howard and Margaret Lindsay. Why she never achieved greater fame, I will never know. She has a Lamarr-like beauty, gorgeous from any angle, and when it comes to line delivery excuse me - but - she equals Loy.
The chemistry between the stars - and they are that - is beautiful, the dialog is clever and witty.
The judo moves were very convincing as delivered by Keye Luke who also was A-plus in line delivery.
"A Tragedy at Midnight" is thoroughly enjoyable at any hour.
Campus Rhythm (1943)
Name sounds like a bad weather report, but, happy to report, she is a delight.
Some folks are fussing about the plot. Sure, it's thin, but it is fun and the picture is a delight thanks to a fine cast headed by the effervescent, Miss Storm. One critic referred to her as a faux Shirley Temple. Nonsense. She was an adorable,talented, easy on the eyes individual and, in this picture, she is a lot of fun. Johnny Downs, a busy and talented man and, my favorite non-star star, Robert Lowery, is always enjoyable to watch. One thing on which we all agree is that Candy Candido is a helluva lot of fun. All in all, "Campus Rhythm" is totally enjoyable. Small budget, small studio, big enjoyment. P.S. They kept talking about a Rawley College. As a North Carolinian I was proud and happy thinking it was Raleigh. Oh,well!
They Won't Forget (1937)
you won't forget "They Won't Forget."
Leave it to Warner Bros. to pull no punches. This powerful movie, based on a real case and sticking with the facts, is a stunner. The closer it gets to the end, the more involved you become as you hope for justice to be done.
I can't pinpoint any performer as outstanding. They were all outstanding as was LeRoy's no-nonsense direction. No side-tracking, no crapping around with sub-plots. He got to the point immediately and stayed with it.
This is an outstanding film. Interestingly it does not, of course, echo the South of today (I live in the South). There are still problems but, for the most part, they are back seat.
In schools, prejudice would most likely be laughed out. The races work and play together and, yep, go out on dates together.
If there are any KKK nutcases around they would be laughed out of the neighborhood.
Back to the movie: Fan-damn-tastic.
In the Meantime, Darling (1944)
in the meantime, darling - a darling presentation.
First of all, 70 minutes of Miss C is worth far more than 7 hours of watching most of today's over-made-up, plaster-faced screen personalities. JC (nice initials) Lamarr, Lamour, etc. were natural beauties.
Now for the pic. Produced and directed by Preminger - certainly not his usual thing. The movie itself was pleasant, the characters interesting and fun.
It is a woman's movie, but it gives insight into the lives of GIs and wives during WW2. I recommend it as a pleasant diversion, and an opportunity to watch its beautiful star for a good length of time.
for a good - no, great - cry PLEASE see this movie.
"Lifted" is a movie I knew nothing about. Now, I would love the whole world to know about it. It is an unashamed tear-jerker - a story that moves warmly along as it covers a variety of items - there are bullies, there is drug addiction and a few other negatives. On the positive side there is family love. The boy and his parents exude pure love.
And, there is talent. Lots of boys and girls roaming the silver screen, but none can hold a candle to the star of this movie. Mom, dad, the preacher, Mr. S and the unbilled Trace Adkins are all magnificent. One great scene is the one with Trace and the boy's grandfather.
All are great scenes in a movie with a gf - for great family - rating. Sure, it is a low budget job, but for heart and entertainment it cannot be equaled or beaten.
One more note. It is also a tribute to our servicemen and women, particularly the Marines. I'm ex-Army, but while the marines are the focus, you will see a beautiful tribute, especially to those who have lost their lives in 'our' behalf.
The Black Scorpion (1957)
black scorpion creates a very good - web - site.
I agree with most of the folks who wrote about this pic. In the '50s cheesy, but sort-of entertaining sci-flicks abounded. This one, under the WB banner was better than most as far as special effects are concerned.
The bummers were the truck and train attacks, both looking like the tiny models they probably were. Otherwise, that fat and quite ugly spider would have scared hell out of Little Miss Muffett and her family, especially if it did sit down beside her.
King Kong's Willis O'Brien had so much to do with the overall look of the biggie spider and its enemy, the biggie worm. Best scene? The cave, of course.
The acting was quite good. Richard Denning, who seemed to have graced every third sci-fi movie of the era, was quite good and he had one thing in common with the title character - drool.
The spider felt it necessary to drool in every close-up, and he was drooling over Mara Corday - and for good reason.
Overall, this movie from days gone by still elicits a lot of thrills.
Gambling Lady (1934)
gamble on this lady.
As a movie, I would have given this a seven, but because Stanwyck is the star, I upped the ante.
That gambling term is appropriate since that is the theme of this movie which will command your attention from beginning to end.
Long time co-star Joel McCrae (this was their first time together) is excellent as the main man in her life.
Will they get together? Sure, it's in the cards.
So - nothing spectacular about this movie, but nothing wrong with it either. The lady from Brooklyn makes it extra-worthwhile.
Other plus-es include the always reliable Pat O'Brien and the always delightful Sir C. Aubrey Smith. What a character --- actor.
Kansas Pacific (1953)
Kansas pacific - an exciting choo-choo.
I would have given this a 10, backing down because it played loosely with history. Otherwise, it was a helluva good movie - rousing, exciting, constantly moving like a train with the tracks intact.
It has to do with building the rail through Kansas to the Colorado border, train/tracks coveted by the Confeds and the Union.
The action is never-ending, most of the fight scenes convincing and leading man, Sterling Hayden is rock solid (not Rock Hudson). His own life was far more exciting. Check his unbelievable bio. Wow!! All in all, there is not a thing wrong with the movie. If you like westerns, if you like action, it is all there on the "Kansas Pacific." Final thought: If Sterling Hayden married Robert Sterling, he would be Sterling Sterling.
Speaking of sterling - as in silver - the hi-yo man has a small part in this adventure.
Two Tickets to Broadway (1951)
buy one of those tickets
First of all, to those upset about the Indian number - get a life. This was '51. Don't take it so seriously - and keep away from pictures with Mantan Moreland, etc.
Then there are the criticisms about Tony Martin. He has the dark look, so some people automatically assume he should portray gangsters. Prejudice, prejudice against dark-haired people. Tsk.
Martin sang grand opera in this movie, pop songs, novelties and did beautifully with all of them. Not all of the music was memorable, but even the songs that might be described as mediocre were beautifully presented. The girls were attractive and personable. Miss Leigh was a doll and, yes, she did her own singing and dancing.
No one can knock Ann Miller. What a great talent. Speaking of talent, The Charlivels were outstanding as a high wire act, and as dancers.
Interesting casting was Max Baer's bro, Buddy, also a boxer, as a tough swabbie.
The Bob Crosby number, where he compares himself with brother Bing was very well done - real life situation. The one thing I missed - I wish his band had played some of its trademark Dixieland. OOoops - is that word offensive to northern ears? The plot was ancient but, who cares. Howard Hughes put this together and came up with a fun, pleasant movies.
If Winter Comes (1947)
winter is warm
First of all will you tell a couple of the birds who wrote critiques of this picture that a pigeon is a bird, and that Pidgeon is a movie actor. For heaven's sake, if you are going to try to sound so learned, at least get the name of the leading man straight. Look - Pidgeon, Pidgeon, Pidgeon. Got it??? As for the picture itself, it is a delight for those who enjoy such movies as "Love Story" and "An Affair To Remember." This one does not have the big budget, but it has the same affect on the heart.
Pidgeon - the actor - is a little too goody-goody, but he is always a joy to watch as he is in this movie playing, to say the least, a misunderstood gentleman. Co-star Kerr is at her loveliest/sweetest, and Angela Lansbury is at her bitchiest without going overboard about it.
This was an early effort for Janet Leigh who is super cute/sweet, a real heart capturer.
The trial scene was effective, and all in the cast were quite good. If you want a warm, heart-tugging movie, try this one on for size. It will fit.
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
it is a dandy
The patriotic medley reminded me of the one in "Star Spangled Rhythm." It was warming and impressive, just one of the 101 bright spots in this WB biopic.
Like most of the heads of the large studios, Jack L. loved his country and often showed it in his films, sometimes, such as with "This Is the Army," donating all proceeds.
All in the cast of this effort were very good but Cagney, of course, was outstanding - his charismatic personality, his dancing and, to some degree, his singing.
On July 4 TCM ran the original version. Earlier that day the Inspiration Network ran the colorized version. Either way, the viewer was the winner.
The flag-waving flick may not have been as slick as the MGM product but, in its own way, it had class and was thoroughly entertaining.
As shown in the end Cohan retired to a farm which, I believe, was not too far from Broadway, as in "give my regards to." If I'm not mistaken, Cagney retired to the same area. Many years ago I met a woman who lived nearby. She said he mostly kept to himself but when he did meet you he was quite pleasant.
Cagney, whether gangster-ing or being a song-and-dance man was one of moviedom's brightest performers. He can stand up, recite the alphabet and still hold the audience in the palm of his hand.
He was at his best in this outstanding 'yay-for-America' movie which, no doubt will be programmed again July 4, 2012. 2013, etc., etc.
Sing Your Way Home (1945)
take home "Sing Your Way Home."
Obviously, this movie doesn't have snob appeal, and most of those criticizing this movie seemed to delight in pointing out that it was pointless.
This one-set film (aboard ship) was, admittedly fluffy, but it was also thoroughly enjoyable. The plus for me was Marcy McGuire who was never given much of a chance in spite of her wide-eyed cuteness and overall appeal.
The plot was nutty, but fascinating. Correspondent Jack Haley sent his news stories back to his editor by using code messages containing love words. Marcy is the 'sendee' and has a crush on Haley who, eventually, has a crush on Anne Jeffreys, that beautiful blonde scene stealer.
The dialogue and situations were fun, the songs excellent, particularly Miss Jeffries singing "The Lord's Prayer" during shipboard Sunday services. Check the proper solemn expressions of those at the service.
Columbia and RKO were major contributors to the grade-B musical genre, and most always offered good music and good fun.
We had several theaters in our neighborhood and one, the 43rd Street Theater concentrated on these films plus the Chan, Tracy (Dick, not Spencer), Blondie, etc. flicks. They double-featured them to, more often than not, nearly empty weekday afternoon houses. I was there and having a good time.
You will, too. Ignore the pomposity of most of the critics and go for the good time.
...First Do No Harm (1997)
subtitle; the defiling of the oath or from Hippocratic to hypocritical
Was there ever any reaction from the medical establishment re: this outstanding movie - scarier than a horror movie because it is true, and its story is frightening.
As a senior citizen living on pills and trusting in a variety of doctors, I realize the medical establishment is reluctant to break away from what they feel is the tried and true.
This movie shows it could, and in this case, should be done. The story is told in a straightforward manner and, of course, is helped by one of the generation's greatest actresses, Meryl Streep.. But it is little Seth who walks away with acting honors. Outstanding. Glad to see he is having a successful career. Praise also to Fred Ward and to all in the cast including the non-professionals cured as was the film's youngster. This is an outstanding, must-see movie.
Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder (1952)
one beautiful castle
First of all, a couple of those 'critics' particularly the jasper moaning about what he calls unmemorable songs. "Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder," "Bye Bye Blackbird," hardly fit that category. There were other good standards, and some of the less-known items were very, very good. Also, the dance number in the playground was imaginative and most enjoyable.
Someone was yapping about Charlotte Austin's smile. It was beautiful, and so was she. Many others pale by comparison, especially some of today's phonies whose beauty comes from skilled make-up artists. Gene Austin's daughter was a beaut.
Someone said that Lloyd Corrigan was not as good as usual. What b.s. He played the same part he usually did, and just as enjoyably.
Two of the best singers in the business, Frankie Laine and Billy Daniels, are two more excellent reasons for trying to get your hands on this virtually unknown gem.
Once again, TCM pressed the confusion button and scheduled another picture with the same title (the title of this one was changed a couple of times). The other starred the great Margaret Rutherford and I hope to catch up with it some time.
For now, I'm happy about putting this one on instead. Forget the negative yapping. Guarantee - you'll enjoy every moment.
Abilene Town (1946)
visit this exciting town.
I agree with Bill Pearson about this movie being under-rated. And, I agree with those who point out that every cliché in the western book shows up.
Yes, but they are handled so well in this good guy vs. bad guy tale starring Randolph (ramrod stiff) Scott, the honest lawman to end all honest lawmen.
The mix in this flick is wonderful. Edgar Buchanan plays Edgar Buchanan, a weak lawman. He plays it to the hilt. Dvorak and Fleming as the love interests are top notch. Lloyd Bridges, much younger than his kids, is fine as the homestead hero.
Some of the fight scenes are excellent and, what's a western without a few?
Altogether, this movie is highly recommended. There is nary a dull moment and, every moment is yours to savor.
Definitely - visit "Abilene Town."
Hot Target (1985)
hot target is hot stuff
As has been noted, this is part of a Crown International series, almost all of which contain the same scenes of nudity and lovemaking, all surrounded by ho hum plots. Those were the USA offerings. "Hot Target" is a New Zealand offering starring absolutely stunning Simone Griffeth, an American lass now, with her husband, selling expensive real estate in South Carolina. And, she is a damn good actress. Those love scenes could, and should have been, more abbreviated and it would have appealed to a more general audience - well - not the Pixar enthusiasts. Anyway, all the palaver about the plot is a lot of horseradish. It was easy to understand, the story tight and taut. The acting by all involved was first class. Steve Marachuk, the only other American in the cast, was excellent as the cad. All involved turned in excellent performances. Anyway, ignore the naysayers and, if you can get hold of this, grab it. I guarantee it will keep you involved for at least 92 of its 93 minutes.
Tokyo Joe (1949)
good old Joe
His company produced it, he starred in it, but Bogie didn't like it. Still, in my most humble opinion, "Tokyo Joe" is a helluva good movie, and Bogart is Bogart and that's good enough for me. This is an action thriller with a 'keeps-you-glued-to-the-screen' plot.
It was made just after the end of WW2 when Americans were the occupying troops, hanging around, as Bogie notes, "to help the people get back on their feet." We did a helluva good job - witness the automobile showrooms around the world. I'm certainly not complaining. I've been driving Toyotas for a few decades.
Those around Bogie, including a hassle of Japanese actors, were quite good - oh - and Bogie spoke most credible Japanese -- I guess.
Czech actress, Florence Marly, who was busy acting mostly in her home country, is very attractive, but the individual that really impressed was 7-year-old Lora Lee Michel who made a lot of films but, at this writing, no one knows what happened to her, not even her sister. She was button cute and convincing in a Margaret O'Brien sort of way.
All in all, I can easily recommend "Tokyo Joe." It's a helluva lot better than most of today's schlock which rely on dazzling special effects.
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)
50 foot chick is a havoc wreaker
First of all, I have to mention that the title character has the prettiest legs of any 50 foot woman.
Whether you take this movie seriously, or watch it for the fun of it, you will realize that the campy thing is not half bad.
The acting? I've seen a lot worse. The plot, complete with jealousy, etc. was reasonable. All of the lead roles were quite good, and there were a fair amount of intentional laughs, especially deputy Charlie, an early version of Barney.
They see these humongous footprints. "Who made those?" Reply, "it wasn't a Japanese gardener." Anywho, if you have nothing else to do grab this 50 foot gal. You won't be thrilled by the special effects but, you shouldn't be bored.
speed - indeed
When I started watching this I had 10 fingernails. By the time it ended I was down to 7.
As far as I'm concerned "Speed" will never/has never been -- topped as an actioner. Much, much credit to the director for keeping this thing constantly going at such a great breakneck speed.
Just when you think the end is near - it ain't. Cars keep a-flyin', innocent folk are constantly in danger as the movie lives up to its simple, appropriate name.
The wonderful stars aided and abetted in making this movie. Reeves (Keanu, not Steve) is excellent as our hero who is put into beaucoup situations tighter than a glass of ticks; Sandra Bullock is one of those actresses I would rather watch than most others; Dennis Hopper as the villain of villains is the man you love to hate.
Jeff Daniels, who seems to have been in every third movie, is excellent as the brains of the outfit. I spent an hour or so with him a few years ago as he was running about the country promoting his impressive music. I found him to be a helluva nice guy, no airs, very friendly. This in-demand guy, a Woody Allen favorite, lives in a small Michigan town, comes to Hollywood-town when the calls come.
"Speed" is worth several Bulovas.
Goodnight, Mister Tom (1998)
goodnight mr tom and hello excellence.
10 - 10 - 10, ad infinitum. First of all, to the critics who are so hung up on the movie not following the book. So, what else is new? And, who cares. They are two separate entities. Duh!! This Masterpiece was an unknown for me. What a great, great surprise. I was raised during WW2 and drove my family nuts. I was an - er Anglophile - greatly admiring the Brits and their stance during those years. Oh, and I never missed a John Mills movie.
A man that befriended me came from England to get away from the war and opened a record shop a few blocks from my home and it became my second home. Most of his records crossed the Atlantic with him so I had a host of British RCAs and Parlophones.
One more item of a personal nature. There was a mag called Picture Post and I wrote them a letter. The first part - I was just a kid - had to do with what was right about America and wrong about England, the second part was vice-versa. Guess what? They published the good stuff about England, eliminating the rest of my tome. I got a lot of letters from all over Britain and met a merchant seaman who later became a radio operator on the Queen Mary. He stayed with us whenever the ship came to NYC (where I was born and raised).
The setting of the movie automatically appealed to me. The story had my wife and myself shedding a few tears, it was so beautifully told - warm and wonderful. The acting by the main characters was excellent. At times, early on, the lad reminded me of Roddy McDowall at that age.
As far as I'm concerned this is one of the most impressive things ever put on film. I recommend it - highly.
As I said in the beginning ---- 10 - 10 - 10, ad infinitum.
road games - a game you should play.
For me, this quirky little item came out of left field - and hit a home run. As has been oft pointed out, this is junior Hitchcock, and I think the master would have been impressed.
The story, a mix of the familiar plus some very good new ideas, holds your attention. The Aussie outback scenery is most enjoyable and, of course, the acting is four-star.
Jamie Lee looks so much better than she does on the tube hawking that yogurt, and Stacy Keach is always impressive. To digress: I spent the day with him and his brother, James, when they were in North Carolina's Outer Banks filming the Wright Brothers initial flight, exactly where it happened. It was for PBS and I'm not sure it was ever shown. A shame, too. The brothers were friendly - delightful company.
Meanwhile, back in Australia and "Road Games." It is recommended for fans of suspense.
The truck vs. van sequences were exciting. I always wonder, in scenes like those why there is no other traffic on the road. And, I wonder about the Aussies. The people in the store were nasty, the cops were nasty, Mel Gibson, in real life, is nasty.
As for the Keach-Curtis flick, it is quite good and, by the way, the chemistry between the two was impressive. I picture them playing Monopoly between takes.
I, Robot (2004)
i robot - aye.
This flick was not the greatest sci-fi of all time, but it is far from the worst. It will keep you captivated from start to finish.
Lotsa kudos to the special effects people. Did you check the credits? Twice the population of Rhode Island.
I agree with the word-y critic. The tunnel scene was magnificent - robots flying about, and Smith getting knocked about. Any mortal human would have been killed but, Smith is not a mortal. He seems to be in every third movie which is fine with me. The two he made with his on were beauts.
"I Robot" has the premise that, eventually, we will all have robots cleaning our homes and pools, obeying our every whim. Neat - as long as they continue to be subservient.
A book with a somewhat similar theme is "The Children's War" by J. N. Stroyan - even more frightening as it describes life in Europe following a Nazy victory. The common people are treated like robots. It should be a must read. It is not a quick read - it is 1,150 pages.
Back to the robotical goings-on. It is exciting science fiction, a biiig budgeter that has rightfully earned its bucks. "The Prince of Bel-Air" is the king of Hollywood.
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
craziness at its craziest
I am sentimentally attached to this play since I did the Einstein part in two different little theater productions - two years apart. Yep, Lorre is my hero, and I doubt anyone else could have played the part as well as he did on Broadway and in this hilarious movie.
Some critics say that this is home turf for Capra. Actually, it is not. Zaniness is not his stock in trade but, whatever he helms has the golden touch.
The dark humor plot may be difficult for some - murder not often going for laughs, but it worked beautifully this time. I've sat through this movie about a dozen times, I know most of the dialogue, and I still laugh at everything that happens.
Grant was not thrilled with his role, feeling it was too far over the top, but Grant did not give Grant enough credit. Sure, he stretches, and the more he does so, the funnier the scenes.
Hope and Benny were the first choices. Benny with his familiar put-upon expressions would have done well. It's just that the versatile Grant is perfection-plus in one of his own least favorite roles. He is outnumbered by his millions of fans. The public lapped it up.
The entire cast made it work, especially, of course, Abe Lincoln. Boy, talk about versatile.
The old ladies, Jack Carson whose expressions seldom change from movie to movie. Horton and horn-tooting Teddy all make it work.
If you reside next to Elisha Cook Jr., and you've never seen the ill effect of arsenic and elderberry, make it a point to check out "Arsenic and Old Lace." The lace may be old, but it holds up beautifully.
Death Rides the Range (1939)
i was at home on this range
All right, already. Over and over again, like a broken record, it is penned that this is a low budget flick, that Ken Maynard was at the tail end of his career, etc., etc.
I enjoyed this movie, thoroughly and, although I had seen very few Ken Maynard flicks, it made me want to see more. The guy was part of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, was in the Army in WW1, played several instruments, sang, made records, was a rodeo performer - so - there was nothing phony about his ridin' and fightin'.
He may not look much like a western movie hero, but he acted like one. His last few years were disgustingly sad - same old story - liquor was the villain he could not fight.
There are beaucoup well-done fight scenes in this movie. At one point, he missed and fell back adding to the realism.
Adding to the enjoyment of this movie were some short scenes of funny stuff. I especially enjoyed his initial proposal to Fay McKenzie. I know nothing of her but would like to see her again and again - cute and perky.
This movie has not one but two sidekicks and they play really well as partners, and as Maynard's fascinating friends. Ralph Peters and Julian Rivero.
The plot ain't bad, some of it all too familiar, but all it well played out. Especially fascinating was the tall, blonde Swede, Sven Hugo Borg.
One more thing. Trigger was billed as the smartest horse in the movies. Negative. He never picked up his boss's hat and brought it to him, and he never untied ropes that bound Roy. Smartest horse honors go to --- ta-da --- Tarzan.
If you can find this movie, grab it --- guaranteed enjoyment.
Cavalcade of the West (1936)
a western with heart
Forget the pretentious title, but don't forget to watch this movie, first chance you get. It is volume three of a set called "Legends Of the West," one of those compilations filled, mostly, with junk but, every now and then featuring some gems.
"Cavalcade Of the West" is the brightest gem. It stars a real cowboy, Hoot Gibson, who looks more like a mild-mannered office clerk. Looks deceive. Watch how he mounts and rides his horse - and watch how he emotes in a part that calls for heart.
You have to pay close attention from beginning to end to fully appreciate this beautiful story, and how it is told. I don't choke up easily, but this movie captured my emotions.
It was made in '36 so it is a little creaky. It goes for the familiar every now and then, but there is nothing in it that is not important, nothing that will not capture your heart and fascinate you.
The movie was a total surprise and a most pleasant one. Gibson and Rex Lease are excellent and, by the way, too many of the few reviews gave away way too much of the plot. These guys are fascinated by their prose.
Bottom line: If you can get your hands on this Platinum release (P.O. Box 2798 in La Crosse, Wisconsin 54602) grab it. I paid $5 for mine at a Big Lots.
As far as I'm concerned, this is a must-see which you will want to see, and savor, several times.