Capsule Reviews: September/October

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Holiday Inn (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
At an inn which is only open on holidays, a crooner and a hoofer vie for the affections of a beautiful up-and-coming performer. (100 mins.)
Director: Mark Sandrich
“ September 27, 2010: Bing Crosby sings to, and Fred Astaire dances to, Irving Berlin songs, while both fight over Marjorie Reynolds in Bing's Connecticut inn where holiday-themed revues are performed. Berlin's "White Christmas" is introduced. I'd pick this film over the partial remake, White Christmas. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The Good Earth (1937)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The story of a farmer in China: a story of humility and bravery. His father gives Wang Lung a freed slave as wife... (138 mins.)
Director: Sidney Franklin
“ September 27, 2010: Classic Hollywood is usually the place to go for delicious moonshine, but once in awhile they roused themselves into making mature and intelligent dramas like this one. Paul Muni and Luise Rainer are poor Chinese farmers in this epic story, which climaxes with a spectacular plague of locusts. It's amazing to think the locust plague would be done with CGI today and be less convincing than it is in this 73 year old film. 8/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
The dramatic lives of trapeze artists, a clown, and an elephant trainer are told against a background of circus spectacle. (152 mins.)
“ September 28, 2010: Relentlessly cornball melodrama. It's colorful, has great circus acts, lots of animals and a terrific train wreck; but at two and a half hours even the bad laughs wear thin. James Stewart manages a good performance among the hams. 6/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The Duel at Silver Creek (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Marshal Tyrone and the Silver Kid form an uneasy alliance against a gang of claim jumpers. (77 mins.)
Director: Don Siegel
“ September 28, 2010: Exciting, well-plotted Audie Murphy western, directed by Don Siegel. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Act of Violence (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
An embittered, vengeful POW stalks his former commanding officer who betrayed his men's planned escape attempt from a Nazi prison camp. (82 mins.)
Director: Fred Zinnemann
“ September 29, 2010: An ex WWII officer (Van Heflin) enjoys suburban life with his beautiful young wife (Janet Leigh) until a solider (Robert Ryan) once under his command while they were prisoners in a German POW camp turns up to seek revenge on him. Evocative black-and-white photography is the best thing about this engaging suspense thriller with good performances. 8/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Mystery Street (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A small town policeman is assisted by a Harvard professor when the skeletal remains of a pregnant prostitute turn up on a Massachusetts beach. (93 mins.)
Director: John Sturges
“ September 29, 2010: Fine police procedural, well shot and edited. Ricardo Montalban is good in the lead role of a detective investigating the murder of a now-skeletonized woman. Elsa Lanchester is delightfully eccentric as a blackmailing landlady. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Yojimbo (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A crafty ronin comes to a town divided by two criminal gangs and decides to play them against each other to free the town. (110 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
“ September 30, 2010: A fascinating story of strategy, duplicity, amorality and (very rarely) compassion is told with violent action, beautifully composed shots, dynamic music and a marvelously controlled, athletic and witty performance from its star, Tishiro Mifune. 9/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The Glass Menagerie (1973 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Amanda Wingfield dominates her children with her faded gentility and exaggerated tales of her Southern belle past... (100 mins.)
Director: Anthony Harvey
“ September 30, 2010: I can't say I actually enjoyed this adaptation of Tennessee Williams's oppressively sad play, but the production is fine and Katharine Hepburn is wonderful. I was less satisfied with the other three players, especially Joanna Miles, who seems too inherently strong and sensible to play this shy and peculiar young woman. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Mr. Skeffington (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Popular and beautiful Fanny Trellis is forced into a loveless marriage with an older man, Jewish banker Job Skeffington, in order to save her beloved brother Trippy from an embezzlement charge, and predictable complications result. (146 mins.)
Director: Vincent Sherman
“ September 30, 2010: Engrossing soap opera. I was especially impressed with the way Bette Davis subtly changed her character over the years, even though the vain, silly (but nevertheless sympathetic) woman doesn't really change much until near the end. Claude Rains is also splendid. My only complaint is the dull moments of comic relief, goosed up by a music score that suddenly turns bouncy to let us know we're seeing something funny. The running gag about Janie Clarkson didn't appeal to me either. 8/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Old Acquaintance (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Old friends Kit Marlowe and Millie Drake adopt contrasting lifestyles: Kit is a single, critically acclaimed author while married Millie writes popular pulp novels. (110 mins.)
Director: Vincent Sherman
“ October 1, 2010: Another terrific soap opera, with Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins as two friends with dramatic ups and downs. Davis is the nice one, who writes unpopular but critically acclaimed books; Hopkins writes popular trash. The latter describes Old Acquaintance, I guess, but it's hugely entertaining. 8/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Stars on Horseback (1943 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A general paean to the dying art of the blacksmith and more specifically to the skills of George Garfield, blacksmith to the Hollywood stars. (11 mins.)
Director: Myron J. Swartz
“ October 1, 2010: We meet the blacksmith for the stars, who are shown with their horses. Of historical value only. I wonder how many in 1943 enjoyed any excuse to see the stars and how many rolled their eyes at this kind of thin gruel. 4/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Fin n' Catty (1943 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
"As everyone knows," the narrator begins, "goldfish must have water... and cats hate water." And so it goes. (7 mins.)
“ October 1, 2010: A cat wants the goldfish, but can't stand water long enough to reach in the bowl and get him. Another early Chuck Jones short in which Jones tries new things but can't manage to make the thing funny. The backgrounds are pleasingly abstract (in a way unusual for animation at the time) and the compositions are interesting. The cat is a typical Jones character: neurotic, petty and cruel. He apparently is more interested in tormenting the fish than in eating him, as is demonstrated at one point when he exacerbates the fish's pain and frustration at being out of water through such tricks as focusing a beam of light on him with a magnifying glass. 6/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
In the falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world. (118 mins.)
“ October 1, 2010: The successful combination of real-life horror and mystical horror is just one of many triumphs of this strange, touching, violent fantasy. 9/10 ” - J. Spurlin
ITV Saturday Night Theatre (1969 TV Series)
Episode: Twelfth Night (1970)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
(78 mins.)
“ October 2, 2010: Good production of Shakespeare's play with hit-and-miss performances, mostly hit. Hit: Alec Guinness as Malvolio, Ralph Richardson as an exceptionally drunk Toby Belch, Joan Plowright as Viola and Sebastian (on screen an actress can play both) and Adrienne Corri as Olivia. Miss: Gary Raymond as a bland Orsino and Tommy Steele as an annoying Feste, who sings Shakespeare's lyrics as tedious pop songs. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Shoot the Piano Player (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Charlie Kohler is a piano player in a bar. The waitress Lena is in love with him. One of Charlie's brother... (81 mins.)
“ October 2, 2010: Truffaut borrows everything from Hollywood crime films except a gripping story. I felt no emotional involvement in the goings-on, which include a lot of flashbacks and winks to the audience, but the film looks great and the characters make some interesting observations. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Destry Rides Again (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
When a tough western town needs taming, the mild-mannered son of a hard-nosed sheriff gets the job. (94 mins.)
Director: George Marshall
“ October 2, 2010: Funny, touching, exciting Western, gorgeously photographed, with two great stars and a saloon-full of excellent character actors. A marvelous, classic piece of entertainment. 10/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The Women (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A study of the lives and romantic entanglements of various interconnected women. (133 mins.)
Director: George Cukor
“ October 3, 2010: Betrayal and catty cruelty are well-calculated to make my blood boil, but this acid comedy with an all-female cast was too witty and entertaining to anger or depress me. I could have done without the long fashion sequence in color, but this movie wasn't aimed at me. 8/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Funny Face (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
An impromptu fashion shoot at a book store brings about a new fashion model discovery in the shop clerk. (103 mins.)
Director: Stanley Donen
“ October 4, 2010: Stanley Donen directed this gorgeous musical with Gershwin songs, the ever-delightful Audrey Hepburn as a reluctant model and Fred Astaire as a photographer, performing several wonderful routines, including one in which he imitates a bullfighter. Hepburn dances, too; her highlight is a bebop number in a Parisian café. The vivacious Kay Thompson, a kind of Auntie Mame type, plays a fashion editor and sings and dances with high spirits. The use of color is exceptional throughout. 8/10 ” - J. Spurlin
An Autumn Afternoon (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
An aging widower arranges a marriage for his only daughter. (113 mins.)
Director: Yasujirô Ozu
“ October 4, 2010: As in Ozu's Late Spring, a widowed father tries to marry off his daughter, even though both are resistant to the idea. This time, however, the daughter's resistance is only superficial; and when she does get married, it seems the father will be the one to suffer. Subplots feature more strongly this time and give the film a wider scope. This is my first experience with a color Ozu, and he uses color beautifully. I knew from the first shot I would enjoy it. 9/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The Chamber (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
A young man fresh out of law school tries to win a reprieve for his racist grandfather who is on death row. (113 mins.)
Director: James Foley
“ October 4, 2010: Relentlessly phony John Grisham thriller that deals with racial issues in an unenlightening and unserious fashion. Gene Hackman is a racist on death row for killing two Jewish boys. Chris O'Donnell (in a flaccid performance) is his grandson, a lawyer who wants to get him off. Faye Dunaway (in an overbaked performance) is his estranged daughter. Hackman rises above his hackneyed material; no one else does. 3/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Rated 'R': Republicans in Hollywood (2004 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.0/10 X  
(45 mins.)
Director: Jesse Moss
“ October 4, 2010: OK documentary about a pretty interesting subject. The filmmaker, a Democrat, bends over backwards to be fair—perhaps too far, since the movie almost comes off as propaganda for the Right. 5/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Midsomer Murders (1997 TV Series)
Episode: Garden of Death (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
When an arrogant aristocratic family's decision to develop a memorial garden into a commercial tea shop has the villagers up in arms, murders past and present rear their heads. (90 mins.)
“ October 5, 2010: The privileged Inkpen family wants to convert a public garden into a commercial tea room, but then one of them is killed with a blow to the head from a shovel. Entertaining but overcomplicated and finally unsatisfactory episode. 6/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Midsomer Murders (1997 TV Series)
Episode: Destroying Angel (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
When a hotel owner dies, the manager misses the reading of the will that names him part-owner. (90 mins.)
“ October 5, 2010: A mushroom gatherer is murdered in the woods. Barnaby and Troy's investigation leads them to a Punch and Judy show and a pair of sexual sadomasochists who like to run through the woods in this clever episode. 8/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Midsomer Murders (1997 TV Series)
Episode: The Electric Vendetta (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
The body of a criminal is found in a crop circle, and the locals blame Extra Terrestrail activity for the death. But Barnaby is not convinced. (90 mins.)
“ October 5, 2010: A dead man turns up in a crop circle, which proves to be just the beginning of a series of weird deaths related to ufology. The overstuffed plot contains at one unexplained body (does the American print contain extra cuts?) and sentimental passages that don't move us. Kenneth Colley unconvincingly plays an innocent-minded UFO nut. Highlight: Barnaby and Troy trapped in an electric house. 5/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Midsomer Murders (1997 TV Series)
Episode: Who Killed Cock Robin? (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Barnaby and Troy are drawn to Newton Magna where their search for a horse whisperer allegedly struck by a car is complicated by the discovery of a body in the town well. (90 mins.)
“ October 5, 2010: When a horse whisperer turns up missing after being hit by a car, Barnaby investigates and winds up solving two murders. Solid but unexceptional episode. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Midsomer Murders (1997 TV Series)
Episode: Dark Autumn (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
The near decapitation of the local postman, whose hyperactive libido also makes him the village lothario, leads to a series of grisly murders involving other promiscuous villagers. (90 mins.)
“ October 6, 2010: A womanizing postman is the first victim in a series of murders in which the faint sound of big band music plays a part. Meanwhile, Troy finds romance with a policewoman. Stale, flat episode with an exceptionally unconvincing conclusion. We have a feeling throughout that we're going nowhere, and in the end we're proven right. 4/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The Cheat (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Woman in debt makes an impulsive investment which doesn't go her way. (74 mins.)
Director: George Abbott
“ October 6, 2010: Technically crude talkie remake of Cecil B. DeMille's 1915 melodrama. A lecherous art collector (Irving Pichel) with a fascination with the Orient blackmails a spendthrift young woman (Tallulah Bankhead) who has a secret to keep from her husband (Harvey Stephens). Stephens is a bore. Pichel is a weak substitute for Sessue Hayakawa—though being white, he helps the film to sidestep incendiary racial themes. Not very well made, but the story is basically sound, and it provides a rare opportunity to enjoy a young Bankhead. 5/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Merrily We Go to Hell (1932)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A drunken newspaperman is rescued from his alcoholic haze by an heiress whose love sobers him up and encourages him to write a play, but he lapses back into dipsomania. (78 mins.)
Director: Dorothy Arzner
“ October 6, 2010: Frederic March and Sylvia Sidney are a poor aspiring playwright and a guileless heiress who fall in love and then go downhill on a stream of booze. Both stars are good, but Sidney with her sweet face has trouble being convincing as her character grows more cynical. The material is way too obvious, but the opening scene is charming and funny. 5/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Hot Saturday (1932)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A pretty but virtuous small-town bank clerk is the victim of a vicious rumor from an unsuccessful suitor that she spent the night with a notorious womanizer. (73 mins.)
Director: William Seiter
“ October 6, 2010: Small-town gossip bedevils a young bank clerk (Nancy Carroll) as she is romanced by a playboy (Cary Grant) and a homey geologist (Randolph Scott). On the whole, not very good, and it ends too abruptly; but it has moments that feel authentic. 5/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Torch Singer (1933)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
When she can't support her illegitimate child, an abandoned young woman puts her up for adoption and pursues a career as a torch singer. (71 mins.)
“ October 7, 2010: Claudette Colbert is an unwed mother who is forced to give away her baby daughter before becoming a successful torch singer and, by accident, a kiddie radio host. Hopelessly phony melodrama. I especially disliked the idealized depiction of a charity hospital with nurses that are sentimental about their work and deferential to their patients. 5/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Murder at the Vanities (1934)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A homicide detective with an eye for the ladies investigating a murder in Earl Carroll's Vanities allows the music review to continue during the investigation. (89 mins.)
Director: Mitchell Leisen
“ October 7, 2010: The opening of a musical revue is marred by a pair of murders. This kind of whodunit was almost never done well in the 1930s and 1940s, and it's certainly not done well here. The detective, as per convention, is a stupid loudmouth bully, this time played by Victor McLaglen. The expensively grandiose and tasteless musical numbers with scantily clad girls are enjoyable enough. One number is an ode to marijuana! 5/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Search for Beauty (1934)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Three con artists dupe two Olympians into serving as editors of a new health and beauty magazine which is only a front for salacious stories and pictures. (78 mins.)
Director: Erle C. Kenton
“ October 7, 2010: Ida Lupino and Buster Crabbe play Olympic stars (as Crabbe was in real life) who run a health club partly owned by a trio of shysters played by Robert Armstrong, James Gleason and Gertrude Michael. Gleason gets the wheeziest lines, and his behind provides this dumb comedy's crude punchline. The point is to exploit the youthful bodies of the real-life athletes and beauty contest winners, even while the comic villains get their comeuppance for exploiting sex. Remarkable only for its pre-Code licentiousness, which includes a woman lifting her skirt as high as it will go and a locker room filled with naked men. 3/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Awakenings (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The victims of an encephalitis epidemic many years ago have been catatonic ever since, but now a new drug offers the prospect of reviving them. (121 mins.)
Director: Penny Marshall
“ October 7, 2010: Robin Williams is a doctor convinced that his catatonic patients, including Robert DeNiro, can be revived, despite having been in their state for thirty years. This sweet, sad drama, based on a true story, is a bit too bound by movie conventions to really take off. For instance, a hospital administrator played by John Heard seems to have no motivation other than to provide the plot with conflict. But Williams and DeNiro give outstanding performances. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The House of the Devil (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
During a night of 1983 with full lunar eclipse, Samantha Hughes takes a babysitting job surrounded by mysterious circumstances before she finds out her client's terrifying secret. (95 mins.)
Director: Ti West
“ October 7, 2010: A young college student accepts a weird babysitting job and ends up regretting it. My favorite part of a horror movie is the slow build-up, and I was grateful this old-fashioned scare flick had one. But even a slow build-up has to keep our attention with a series of fascinating details and interesting characters. The pacing for this movie is slack, the plot is predictable and the dialogue is dully functional. 4/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Angel Face (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Ambulance driver Frank Jessup is ensnared in the schemes of the sensuous but dangerous Diane Tremayne. (91 mins.)
Director: Otto Preminger
“ October 8, 2010: Jean Simmons is a devious, dangerous heiress who loves her father and hates her stepmother; and Robert Mitchum is the ambulance driver who becomes her dupe in Otto Preminger's engaging crime melodrama. This low-budget production doesn't have the dark, shadowy look of a classic film noir, but the Simmons character is a fascinating femme fatale: she has a conscience, but it malfunctions often enough to make her deadly. The abrupt ending is a laugh, but no one said these films weren't supposed to be absurd. 8/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Fallen Angel (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A slick con man arrives in a small town looking to make some money, but soon gets more than he bargained for. (98 mins.)
Director: Otto Preminger
“ October 8, 2010: Dana Andrews is a drifter who romances the rich good girl (Alice Faye) while lusting for a loose waitress (Linda Darnell) before becoming involved in a murder. The plot is good enough; but it's really the actors, the camerawork and shadowy lighting, under the direction of Otto Preminger, that really sell the picture. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The Barn Dance (1929 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Mickey comes in his horse and buggy to pick up Minnie for the barn dance, but he's aced out by his rival... (7 mins.)
“ October 8, 2010: Mickey Mouse and Pete compete for the affections of Minnie at a barn dance. The gags are funny, especially the ones involving Mickey's ineptitude as a dancer; but the short comes to an arbitrary stop rather than an ending. Worse, Mickey ends up the loser. 6/10. Second viewing. ” - J. Spurlin
Murder Ahoy (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
After Miss Marple is made a trustee of a merchant marine training vessel, a fellow trustee is poisoned, and ship's officers are later murdered after she comes on board. (93 mins.)
Director: George Pollock
“ October 12, 2010: Miss Marple (Margaret Rutherford) investigates a murder on board a merchant marine training vessel. This comedy whodunit is more silly than funny, with a not especially engaging plot; but Rutherford is always a delight and Lionel Jeffries as the captain has several hilarious moments. 5/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Luther (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A man's views cause a rift between peasants and the church. (112 mins.)
Director: Guy Green
“ October 12, 2010: Stacy Keach plays Martin Luther in this portrait of the religious reformer—a good film even while doing little to disguise its stage origins. The performances, characterizations and dialogue are all fine—in fact, much better than in the more movie-ish 2003 version with Joseph Fiennes. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Four Faces West (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Cowboy Ross McEwen arrives in town. He asks the banker for a loan of $2000. When the banker asks about securing a loan that large... (89 mins.)
Director: Alfred E. Green
“ October 12, 2010: Joel McCrea robs a bank, but intends to return what he stole. Charles Bickford is Pat Garrett, the lawman determined to bring McCrea to justice. The story is so engaging that I didn't realize until it was over how little action it had for a western. In fact, none of the guns are even fired. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Movies 101 (2005 TV Series)
Episode: Martin Scorsese (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Sit in on America's premiere film class, as New York University professor Richard Brown interviews Martin Scorsese with over twenty minutes of never-before-seen footage!
“ October 12, 2010: Martin Scorsese takes time away from filming The Departed to talk about his movies and the moviemaking process. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Movies 101 (2005 TV Series)
Episode: Whoopi Goldberg (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Sit in on America's premiere film class, as New York University professor Richard Brown interviews Whoopi Goldberg with over twenty minutes of never-before-seen footage!
“ October 12, 2010: Richard Brown uses his introduction as an excuse to flaunt his white liberal guilt; but the interview is funny and interesting. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Derren Brown: Trick of the Mind (2004 TV Series)
Episode: Episode #2.3 (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Derren visits Whitby in Yorkshire and baffles the local population with a trick involving a human deck of cards, and Mo Mowlam is subjected to a mind-reading routine. (30 mins.)
“ October 13, 2010: Derren plays a card trick on a large crowd; he performs a mind reading trick on a dumbfounded lady, using a newspaper as a key prop; and he works a trick with a man who works with timepieces. Derren Brown is always entertaining, but none of the segments really grabbed me. 6/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Suspiria (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A newcomer to a fancy ballet academy gradually comes to realize that the school is a front for something far more sinister and supernatural amidst a series of grisly murders. (98 mins.)
Director: Dario Argento
“ October 13, 2010: Dario Argento's garish, over-the-top horror film about sinister goings-on in a dance academy is fascinating in its excess; but the irritatingly illogical plot and lip-smacking detail lavished on the isolated scenes of gore just make the whole thing unpleasant and silly. 4/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Advise & Consent (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Senate investigation into the President's newly nominated Secretary of State, gives light to a secret from the past, which may not only ruin the candidate, but the President's character as well. (139 mins.)
Director: Otto Preminger
“ October 13, 2010: Fascinating story of a Senate confirmation hearing: I had the feeling that I was getting a real glimpse into how politics were played and are played. It's long, artful and crammed with big-name actors; but it is never ponderous like many another prestige picture. My only quibbles: Jerry Fielding's score is intrusive. And Preminger is so determined to hold a shot as long as possible that sometimes one character will speak sotto voce to another, even when a third character in the frame is supposed to be unable to hear it. The usual technique would be to cut to a closer shot of the speaker and the one person who can hear him. 8/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Columbo (1971 TV Series)
Episode: Columbo Cries Wolf (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
When the business-savvy publisher of a "Playboy"-type men's magazine wants to sell her stock to a Rupert Murdoch-like media tycoon, she apparently disappears on a London-bound flight. (100 mins.)
“ October 13, 2010: The publisher of a men's magazine (Deidre Hall) turns up missing, and Lt. Columbo suspects foul play but winds up getting the shock of his life. "Columbo" fans are not likely to enjoy this episode's twist on the old formula. Who wants to see Columbo made the fool? But even if this were a stand-alone TV movie, with a different detective, the plot is just a bit too tricky to be plausible. Ian Buchanan, as the prime suspect, is a competent performer with a 1000-watt smile; but a subtler actor might have made the material work better. 6/10. Second viewing. ” - J. Spurlin
Columbo (1971 TV Series)
Episode: Agenda for Murder (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
This time Columbo is put on a murder that was made to look like a suicide. However, he notices some loose ends, and asks a lawyer and a governor to clear these problems up. (100 mins.)
“ October 13, 2010: Patrick McGoohan—one of the best "Columbo" villains of the 1970s—returns to direct and star in an episode that stands up well next to the older ones. McGoohan is a high-powered lawyer working to get his congressman friend a chance to be the candidate for U.S. vice president; but first he must do away with a blackmailer who could sabotage both their careers. Great plot, great adversary. The ending is only mildly satisfactory; but then so few episodes, old or new, have a crackerjack ending like A Stitch in Crime. 8/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Columbo (1971 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A woman who blames Columbo for the loss of her husband sets out to get back at him. (100 mins.)
“ October 13, 2010: Even the title is enough to make the heart sink. Gimmicks such as voice-over narration from three of the characters (including the killer), flashbacks and a villain who is seeking revenge on Columbo are laid over a dull and predictable plot. The episode opens on Mrs. Columbo's funeral, but you won't win James Randi's million dollars for predicting that nothing is what it seems. 4/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Columbo (1971 TV Series)
Episode: Uneasy Lies the Crown (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
The unsuccessful junior partner in a dental group, a bad husband and degenerate gambler, faces divorce and ostracism from his father-in-law's firm. (100 mins.)
“ October 14, 2010: Steven Bochco wrote the very clever script, involving a dentist with murder on his mind. What weakens the episode considerably is James Read, who gives no more than a competent performance. "Columbo" lives and dies by the actor playing the villain. Thanks to the script, and a funny punchline, I give this 7/10; but it should have been better. ” - J. Spurlin
Two for the Road (1967)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A couple in the south of France non-sequentially spin down the highways of infidelity in their troubled ten-year marriage. (111 mins.)
Director: Stanley Donen
“ October 14, 2010: Stanley Donen directs Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney as a married couple visiting the south of France, where they met. Their rocky ten-year relationship is shown out of sequence, a device that is slightly confusing, but worth it for all the ironic juxtapositions and a richer view of their marriage than would have been possible if the movie had told the story chronologically. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Columbo (1971 TV Series)
Episode: Murder in Malibu (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A successful writer of romance novels who is involved with a young, ambitious womanizer, is found shot to death in her Malibu home. (100 mins.)
“ October 14, 2010: The formula is varied a bit for this inferior episode about the murder of a popular 40ish romance novelist. The murder is not shown in detail; and although it leads us to believe that her young lover (played by a not particularly young Andrew Stevens) is the killer, there's room to believe it may have been committed by her envious older sister (Brenda Vaccaro). The less-than-shocking ending reveals the truth after we're subjected to a poorly plotted story with awkward dialogue and boring characters. Except for Peter Falk, all the actors are weak. 4/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Columbo (1971 TV Series)
Episode: Columbo Goes to College (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Two college students decide to murder their professor during a class that Columbo is teaching. (100 mins.)
“ October 15, 2010: Well-plotted episode doesn't quite make the grade thanks to the overly subdued performances of Stephen Caffrey and Gary Hershberger as a pair of arrogant college students who murder their professor. Robert Culp—one of Columbo's great adversaries in the 1970s—plays the father of one of the students and his scenes are easily the best. 6/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Enter the Dragon (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A martial artist agrees to spy on a reclusive crime lord using his invitation to a tournament there as cover. (102 mins.)
Director: Robert Clouse
“ October 15, 2010: Bruce Lee plays a martial arts fighter with hidden motives for participating in a tournament on a remote island controlled by the sinister Han. Action and nothing but action: all of it good stuff. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Derren Brown: Trick of the Mind (2004 TV Series)
Episode: Episode #2.4 (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Derren weaves his magic on the locals in Canterbury. Childhood memories get the spooky treatment, with DJ Jo Whiley the latest celebrity to succumb to Derren's mind control... (30 mins.)
“ October 15, 2010: Derren reads the tipsy minds of pub-goers; he performs a counting trick with Jo Whiley, a British radio broadcaster; and a player of his arcade game finds himself inexplicably transported inside. The first segment shows Derren performing a stunt we wish we all could. The second is milder stuff, enlivened by a bit of face slapping. The third segment is one of those unbelievable things that make Derren a constant fascination—despite our qualms about his ethics. 8/10 ” - J. Spurlin
P2 (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
A businesswoman is pursued by a psychopath after being locked in a parking garage on Christmas Eve. (98 mins.)
Director: Franck Khalfoun
“ October 15, 2010: On Christmas Eve, an attractive office worker (Rachel Nichols) becomes the victim of the insane young security guard (Wes Bentley) who traps her in the building. This suspenser starts out well, but quickly reveals itself to have routine ambitions. The security guard proves to be not a real psychopath but a movie psychopath, preternaturally resourceful and far-sighted. And we suspect early that Nichols's real tormentor is not the maniac, but the screenwriter, who makes her impossibly unlucky. The material might have worked with a truly exceptional performance from the villain, but Bentley is merely competent. 4/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Alice Through the Looking Glass (1966 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A made-for-television musical following the further adventures of Alice in Wonderland. This time, she's... (72 mins.)
Director: Alan Handley
“ October 16, 2010: The story for this videotaped TV musical, loosely based on Lewis Carroll, is weak; the songs are sprightly but not memorable; and the production is marred by canned laughter and applause. There are many borrowings from The Wizard of Oz (1939), which was hugely popular around that time on TV. An annoying character named Lester the Jester is added to serve as a proto-Scarecrow. Alice walks a blue road—but most of the time it appears with yellow bricks! Three witches—from Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel and Snow White—appear on the road. (I guess adding the Wicked Witch of the West would have been too obvious.) There are a lot of big stars, and it has a certain cheesy charm; but it's not every good. 4/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Midnight Express (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Billy Hayes, an American college student, is caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey and thrown into prison. (121 mins.)
Director: Alan Parker
“ October 16, 2010: The true story of Billy Hayes, a young American trapped in a Turkish prison, becomes a harrowing movie even though it plays things safe in key areas. Did the real-life Hayes get such satisfying revenge on the two main villains in his life? And then there's the aborted scene of homosexual love which suggests explicit brutality is one thing, but that is something a 1970s audience can't endure, even off-screen. 8/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Stir of Echoes (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
After being hypnotized by his sister in law, a man begins seeing haunting visions of a girl's ghost and a mystery begins to unfold around him. (99 mins.)
Director: David Koepp
“ October 17, 2010: A blue-collar Chicago man (Kevin Bacon) has visions after being hypnotized and discovers his young son (Zachary David Cope) has been seeing a ghost. Well-directed and well-acted (especially by Bacon and young Cope) with good characters and good dialogue; but the derivative, predictable plot sinks this disappointing thriller. 6/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The Opry House (1929 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Mickey Mouse runs a cheap opera house and performs on stage as a snake charmer, a belly dancer and a long-haired pianist. (6 mins.)
Director: Ub Iwerks
“ October 17, 2010: Mickey Mouse runs a cheap opera house and performs on stage as a snake charmer, a belly dancer and a long-haired pianist. Lots of funny gags. Mickey fans will be amused to see that the mouse could still be "cartoony" at this early stage. He has a detachable belly button that flies off and pops back on during the belly dance. (Witness also Minnie's ability in The Barn Dance to tie her elongated leg in a knot and cut off the excess.) Such silent-era-style gags would die out at Disney only to survive at MGM with Tex Avery and Tom and Jerry. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Another Country (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Based on the life of the young Guy Burgess, who would become better known as one of the Cambridge Spies. (90 mins.)
Director: Marek Kanievska
“ October 17, 2010: Rupert Everett plays a 1930s public school student who realizes his homosexuality is not a passing phase; Cary Elwes is the boy he falls in love with; and Colin Firth is the friend who introduces him to Marxism. Based on Julian Mitchell's play, which speculated on the school days of two real-life Russian spies, this somber film isn't bad but really doesn't accomplish all that much. 6/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: Polly Klaas: Kidnapped (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
FBI agents investigate the nationally publicized kidnapping of a 12 year old girl from her own home... (60 mins.)
“ October 17, 2010: The FBI investigates the case of a 12-year-old girl abducted from her home during a slumber party. My first experience with this documentary TV series. Cheap production, but good storytelling. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: Above the Law (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The investigation into the rape and murder of 23-year old Robin Bishop on a Californian highway in January 1982... (60 mins.)
“ October 17, 2010: A highway patrolman rapes and murders a 23-year-old woman and then uses his knowledge of police investigation to cover up the crime. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: Human Prey (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Hunters become a killer's human prey. (60 mins.)
“ October 17, 2010: A sniper traveling back roads in a red pickup truck murders people at random. A re-enacted scene with a female jogger was particularly gripping. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: Death in Alaska (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Anchorage police and FBI agents build an irrefutable forensic case against pedophile Kirby Anthony who... (60 mins.)
“ October 17, 2010: In Anchorage, a woman and her two young daughters are brutally murdered in their home. Evidence points to a 23-year-old underachiever with a violent temper as the most likely suspect. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: Deadly Paradise (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
For two couples on vacation, an island paradise turns to hell when one couple murders the other. Eleven years after the murder, a drifter sailing the high seas to escape a drug charge is convicted of the crime. (60 mins.)
“ October 18, 2010: On a remote island, a disreputable couple with few supplies "moves in" next to richer neighbors living off the land from their yachts. Envy eventually leads to murder. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
The FBI investigates the nationally known case of the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia Mississippi amid the tension of the civil right movement. (60 mins.)
“ October 18, 2010: In 1964, the FBI investigates the murders of three civil rights workers. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: The Crazy Don (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Over many years the FBI investigates and finally penetrates the five New York crime families. Special attention is given to Vincent Gigante who feigned mental illness to avoid prosecution and then incarceration. (60 mins.)
“ October 18, 2010: A New York crime boss pretends to be mentally deficient in order to evade the law. Not bad, but the reenactments, always a bit clumsy in this series, are particularly weak this time. The actor playing the young boss is especially poor. 6/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: Killing Spree (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
South Florida Police investigating a serial killing spree in 1984 gather a wealth of trace evidence... (60 mins.)
“ October 18, 2010: Bobby Joe Long, a serial rapist and killer, leaves the bodies of women all over Tampa before the FBI and police can learn his identity. Compelling story, but the reenactments are notably sloppy. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: Murdering Cowboy (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
FBI agents hunt self styled mountain man Claude Dallas in the wilds of Idaho. A man who felt rules did... (60 mins.)
“ October 18, 2010: An illegal trapper kills two game wardens in Idaho. Storytelling is slightly below par, and the awkward acting of the murder witness is a significant flaw. 6/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: The Unabomber (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Antisocial misfit Ted Kazinsky maimed and murdered people with mail bombs for two decades. Not until his infamous manifesto was published in the newspaper did his brother suspect he was the Unabomber and turn him in. (60 mins.)
“ October 19, 2010: For 17 years, a lone terrorist living in the woods mails homemade bombs to universities and airlines before the FBI finally catches him. The story is inherently fascinating, but the episode has weaknesses. Every bomb that went off in real life goes off on screen with cheap special effects, and the repetition becomes unintentionally comic. 6/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: Melissa Brannen: Missing (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Trace evidence convinces police and FBI agents that pedophile Caleb Hughes abducted and murdered missing five year old Melissa Brannen. But unless they can find her remains they cannot make a case for murder. (60 mins.)
“ October 19, 2010: A maintenance man abducts a five-year-old girl during a community Christmas party. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
The FBI investigates the 1993 truck bombing of the World Trade Center. Discovery of the vehicle identification... (60 mins.)
“ October 19, 2010: Somewhat tepid telling of this horrific story, which is all the sadder after 9/11. Most chilling moment: the narrator claims the World Trade Center tower was built to withstand anything, even "a fully-fueled jet." 6/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: John Gotti: Convicted (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
This program follows the team of FBI agents charged with investigating the Gambino family. Their focus... (60 mins.)
“ October 19, 2010: The FBI finally manages to take down the New York crime boss known as The Teflon Don: nothing stuck to him. OK episode, but the reenactments are often confusing, especially since it's difficult to tell who is supposed to be Gotti. 6/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: A Model Killer (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
After the abduction of Beth Kenyon, which Miami Police treat as a routine missing person case, her family hires a private detective agency... (60 mins.)
“ October 20, 2010: An Australian contractor in the U.S. poses as a fashion photographer in order to lure young women whom he later rapes and murders. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: Hired Gun (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
The FBI investigates Lawrence Horn and co-conspirators who murdered Horn's wife, son and son's nurse for a million dollar lawsuit settlement... (60 mins.)
“ October 20, 2010: A former Motown record producer hires a hit man to kill his wife, his eight-year-old son and the boy's overnight nurse. Potent episode. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: Cracking the Cartel (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The FBI hunts drug dealer Geno Camacho after he and his gang kidnaps the family of an associate, Sam Wright... (60 mins.)
“ October 20, 2010: A drug dealer and gang leader kidnaps the wife and young son of a man who owes him money, just part of a crime spree that will involve several murders and the disposal of a body via a tree shredder. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: A Stranger in Town (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Despite being an out of state runaway, Dawn Marie Birnbaum was treated with reverence by the Pennsylvania... (60 mins.)
“ October 20, 2010: The body of a 17 year old girl is dumped in the snow on the side of the road. Her rapist and killer proves to be a trucker who has probably killed before. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Curse of the Demon (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
American professor John Holden arrives in London for a parapsychology conference, only to find himself investigating the mysterious actions of Devil-worshiper Julian Karswell. (95 mins.)
“ October 21, 2010: An American psychologist (Dana Andrews) in London changes from skeptic to believer when the head of a demonic cult places a hex on him. 8/10 for the original 95 minute version. ” - J. Spurlin
The Chain Gang (1930 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Mickey Mouse escapes from prison. (8 mins.)
“ October 21, 2010: Mickey Mouse makes the best of prison life. His entrance is especially funny. Pluto supposedly makes his first appearance in this short, but the two identical bloodhounds only bear a passing resemblance to him. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Berlin Express (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A multinational group of train passengers become involved in a post-World War II Nazi assassination plot. (87 mins.)
“ October 21, 2010: This slow-starting spy thriller is weighed down by some heavy moralizing, but it looks terrific under Jacques Tourneur's direction and has a few gripping scenes and memorable vignettes. Paul Lukas is outstanding as a kindly soul seeking the reunification of Germany and so is Reinhold Schünzel in a small role as the old friend who betrays him. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The House on Carroll Street (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
In 1950s America, an FBI agent and a blacklist victim uncover a plot to smuggle Nazi war criminals into the country. (101 mins.)
Director: Peter Yates
“ October 21, 2010: Kelly McGillis plays the victim of a McCarthyite witch-hunt who stumbles into an espionage plot; Jeff Daniels is the FBI agent who by tailing her stumbles into it with her; and Jessica Tandy has a small role as an old lady who hires McGillis to read to her. Pretty good Hitchcock homage, but the plot threads are not all tied up. How did Tandy's character notice so much about the neighbors if she's nearly blind? 6/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Baby Face (1933)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A young woman, sexually exploited all her life, decides to turn the tables and exploit the hapless men at a big city bank - by gleefully sleeping her way to the top. (71 mins.)
Director: Alfred E. Green
“ October 21, 2010: Barbara Stanwyck rises out of grinding poverty by using men. Potent stuff, let down by a phony ending in the pre-release version. (The ending of the theatrical version, which I'll be watching soon, is reportedly even more cowardly.) 8/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Red Headed Woman (1932)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Lillian relentlessly attempts to seduce a married man. (79 mins.)
Director: Jack Conway
“ October 22, 2010: Jean Harlow relentlessly pursues a rich young man who loves his wife but can't resist Harlow's bulldozer tactics. It's great stuff: a kind of cheerful melodrama unencumbered by any phony moralizing. 8/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Root of All Evil? (2006 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Richard Dawkins' highly critical documentary attacks the pulsing heart of all mainstream religion- faith; with special focus on Islam... (90 mins.)
Director: Russell Barnes
“ October 22, 2010: Richard Dawkins examines the battle between religion and science. 8/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Midsomer Murders (1997 TV Series)
Episode: Tainted Fruit (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
When the body of a local beauty is discovered by the pool at her manor house, Barnaby and Troy uncover a seedy world of adultery and deceit within the affluent rural community. (90 mins.)
“ October 24, 2010: Someone murders an attractive but duplicitous young heiress by stabbing her in the stomach with a syringe filled with poison. More murders follow, including one in a barn and one on a tennis court before Barnaby and Troy solve the case. Medlar jelly is a key part of the plot in this entertaining episode with a satisfying conclusion. 8/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Waterloo Bridge (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A prostitute's self-loathing makes her reluctant to marry an idealistic soldier during World War One. (81 mins.)
Director: James Whale
“ October 25, 2010: Slow-moving melodrama about a naive 19 year old soldier (Kent Douglass) falling in love with a prostitute (Mae Clarke) is undermined by an abrupt ending, but has some lively comic touches characteristic of director James Whale. Clarke is very good and Douglass, despite his obvious limitations as an actor, is likable in a way that suits his role. Bette Davis has a small part. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Wit (2001 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A renowned professor is forced to reassess her life when she is diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. (99 mins.)
Director: Mike Nichols
“ October 25, 2010: In this adaptation of Margaret Edson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Emma Thompson is an English professor and John Donne scholar who finds that neither her frosty temperament nor Donne provides a barrier against anxiety and fear during her treatment for cancer. Really beautiful. 10/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Black Sabbath (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A trio of atmospheric horror tales about: A woman terrorized in her apartment by phone calls from an... (92 mins.)
Director: Mario Bava
“ October 27, 2010: Mario Bava directs three horror stories, introduced by Boris Karloff, who stars in the second story. "The Telephone": a voice from the past threatens a terrified young woman over the phone. "The Wurdalak": a father (Karloff) returns to his family, who suspect he is a living, blood-sucking corpse. "The Drop of Water": The conscience of a nurse torments her after she steals a ring from the body of an old woman who died during a séance. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Midsomer Murders (1997 TV Series)
Episode: Ring Out Your Dead (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Someone is killing off bell ringers of parish church in the week before a big bell-ringing competition takes place in the village of Midsomer Wellow. (90 mins.)
“ October 27, 2010: A church bell-ringing competition provides the backdrop for this less-than-satisfactory episode. 6/10 ” - J. Spurlin
Curse of the Demon (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
American professor John Holden arrives in London for a parapsychology conference, only to find himself investigating the mysterious actions of Devil-worshiper Julian Karswell. (95 mins.)
“ October 28, 2010: Second viewing this month. This time I watched the 83-minute American version called Curse of the Demon. The two cuts I noticed were judicious. This version removed part of the dull airplane scene: a definite improvement. It also removed completely the scene with the catatonic man's family. It was a pretty good scene, but we don't miss it. ” - J. Spurlin
A Bout with a Trout (1947 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Little Lulu, torn between playing hookey and going fishing, or going to school, chooses to go fishing...where she encounters the Fish from Cartoon Hades. (8 mins.)
Director: I. Sparber
Stars: Cecil Roy
“ October 28, 2010: The cartoon begins well, as we watch Little Lulu finding amusingly efficient ways of speeding through her morning routine; but then the plot kicks in and the film itself becomes routine. Lulu plays hooky from school to go trout fishing, but a dream convinces her to go back. The phony moralizing made me think of a better film: Disney's Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom, in which school is simply depicted as fun without any obvious attempts to convince anyone that it's fun. A Bout with a Trout, by contrast, makes a syrupy attempt to convince us that school is better than fishing. Yeah, right. ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: Cat and Mouse (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Larry Gene Bell abducted, raped and murdered two young girls in South Carolina then taunted the family... (60 mins.)
“ October 28, 2010: South Carolina, 1985. A house-sitter abducts a teenager before raping and murdering her and later does the same to a nine-year-old. Later, he becomes fixated on the sister of his first victim. Frightening episode includes actual recordings of telephone calls the killer made to the family of the teenager. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: Hunter's Game (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Robert Hansen's aggression toward women led to run ins with the legal system most of his life. But when... (60 mins.)
“ October 28, 2010: In Anchorage, Alaska, a stuttering baker has a wife, kids and a successful business that cops frequent; but secretly he abducts women, rapes them and takes them out into the wilderness where he hunts them like animals. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: The Dixie Mafia (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A decade long investigation of the contract killing of a married couple in Biloxi Mississippi, who happen... (60 mins.)
“ October 28, 2010: In Biloxi, Mississippi, a judge and his politician wife are murdered by a hit man, part of a conspiracy involving the mob and casinos. Fascinating story; below-par re-enactments. 6/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: Shattered Shield (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
The FBI cracks down on police corruption related to drug trafficking in New Orleans. The investigation relied on a key informant and undercover agent. (60 mins.)
“ October 28, 2010: In New Orleans, the FBI investigates rampant police corruption with the help of a drug dealer. Riveting story; typically crude but effective telling. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: Blood Brothers (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
The disappearance of a bank president following the robbery of his bank looks like a case of embezzlement to the residents of Noel, Missouri. But when the banker is found murdered the FBI identifies two brothers as the culprits. (60 mins.)
“ October 29, 2010: In a small Missouri town, two brothers rob a bank and murder the bank president. Solid episode. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: Crime Spree (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
The FBI was so anxious to capture serial killers Alton Coleman and Debra Brown that they earned the... (60 mins.)
“ October 29, 2010: A gregarious young black man abducts and murders a little girl and then, accompanied and abetted by his girlfriend, goes on a six-state killing spree. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: Family Secrets (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
In December 1994, Joann Katrinak and her 4-month-old son, Alex, mysteriously disappeared from their home... (60 mins.)
“ October 29, 2010: A woman and her infant son are abducted from their home and are later found murdered. The police at first suspect the husband, but eventually turn to his ex-girlfriend instead. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: Master Plan (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
An FBI police corruption investigation and a local murder investigation merge when it is discovered... (60 mins.)
“ October 29, 2010: In the suburbs of Chicago, the missing wife of a prominent attorney is part of a web of police corruption and organized crime that includes nightclubs involved in prostitution and murder. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin
The F.B.I. Files (1998 TV Series)
Episode: Firefight (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A series of brutal bank robberies and murders led to an exhaustive eight-month investigation by the FBI. What followed was the 1986 FBI Miami shootout, one of the deadliest firefights in FBI history. (60 mins.)
“ October 29, 2010: In crime-infested Miami, a most urgent threat emerges: two masked robbers use assault weapons to steal from armored cars and banks. Their crime spree ends up in a deadly shoot-out with the FBI. 7/10 ” - J. Spurlin