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One Thrilling Night (1942)
I'd have spent a lot of time on Broadway too
John Beal had an interesting career on stage and screen. He did many Broadway shows, and it's no wonder if this kind of thing he was being given. This particular film, "One Thrilling Night," is from Monogram, one of the poverty row studios.
It concerns honeymooners who will only have one night together before the husband, Horace (Beal) leaves for the service. Unfortunately the newlyweds check into the wrong room. There's a dead guy under the bed and intruders, Frankie (Tom Neal) and friends are in and out looking for money hidden by the dead man.
Wanda McKay is the hapless bride and she's quite pretty. According to the men reviewing this, she more than made up for any story problems. The acting is fine, the print was bad, and to me, the movie looked cheap. I'm sure it was. While I found the premise funny, I didn't think it was that well executed. Beal actually started out as a young leading man I believe at MGM and then leading man and finally to character parts. I met him once at a function honoring someone - it was so long ago I can't remember who was being honored. A nice man, active in the business until a few years before his death.
This episode actually isn't based on an Agatha Christie story, but the characters are taken from the original story.
In this plot,it's 1926 and Andrew Marsh has written a will which he reveals to family and friends. Most of it will go to a medical foundation. His ward, Violet Wilson, gets nothing because girls are provided for by their husbands. Well, that's enough to set my teeth on edge right there.
Ten years later, Violet is a magazine publisher and Marsh decides to change his will and leave everything to Violet. He wants Poirot to be the Executor, confessing that he has a terminal illness. He receives a phone call and leaves the house, and is murdered. And no one can find any will.
The death is declared to be from natural causes, but Poirot is not convinced. He also gets a hint that Marsh has an illegitimate son. Find the child, he says, and find the murderer from there.
Interesting episode filmed at Cambridge with Hastings, Japp, and Lemon involved. The letdown in the story is the ending. It's not the best episode, but even the worst Poirot is better than no Poirot.
So, Miss Lemon Has a Beau
Hastings is surprised when Miss Lemon arrives late to work, but Poirot is nonplussed in "The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman." Poirot knows that Miss Lemon has been dating one Mr. Graves, secretary to Count Foscatini. Actually, Mr. Graves wants to discuss a matter of some stolen papers with Poirot. Poirot really can't help him as the sensitivity of the documents precludes Graves from saying anything more.
When Count Foscatini is found dead, Poirot, Hastings, and Japp are on the case. The first thing they find out is that Mr. Graves is a valet, not a secretary. The police think Foscatini was a victim of blackmail. The Italian Embassy claims not to know him. Poirot thinks they're lying, but also that they're not the only ones.
Excellent episode. I don't know why Hastings, Lemon, and Japp weren't always around. They add so much to the episodes when they're present. The solution to this one is clever, and it occurs to Poirot when he's looking in the mirror that he's been studying this case the wrong way.
The Cat and the Canary (1939)
Bob, Paulette and a Haunted House - what could be better?
It may sound strange, but there was something so cute and appealing about Bob Hope in the '30s and '40s. I loved that guileless, spineless sweet character he played.
Here Hope is in top form in "The Cat and the Canary," the 1939 version also starring Paulette Goddard, Gale Sondergaard, John Beal, Douglass Montgomery, George Zucco, and Elizabeth Patterson. A group of relatives have to spend the night in a haunted house after the reading of their late relatives' will.
Hope and the beautiful, vivacious Goddard are wonderful together -- so good, in fact, that they did it again in "Ghost Breakers." No one could do one-liners like Hope.
This movie is a lot of fun, with secret panels and things that go bump in the night. Delightful, funny, and spooky.
typical of its time
As just a movie, "I Was a Communist for the FBI" is quite good in that it moves quickly and has an element of real suspense, particularly the train track sequence, which is excellent.
As a propaganda film, it works even better, giving one the impression that the Communists had infiltrated many aspects of society and were more powerful than they actually were in reality.
The film purports to be the true story of Matt Cvetic, who infiltrated the Communist organization in Pittsburgh on the part of the FBI and testified before the House on Un-American Activities, naming something like 100 people in the party.
In the film, no one except a priest knows that Cvetic is undercover, so his sons loathe him, and he's broken his mother's heart. During his work as a Communist, he meets a beautiful teacher, Eve Merrick (Dorothy Hart) who ultimately becomes disillusioned with the party.
In reality, Cvetic thought he was hot stuff and told a lot of people he worked for the FBI. He was also an alcoholic and eventually no longer used as a witness in trials against Communists.
As played by Frank Lovejoy, he is a very committed hero, and Lovejoy does an excellent job in portraying this Everyman. He had an interesting career, mostly in television, and rarely as a leading man.
This is the kind of movie that has to be taken in the context of the times. Everyone was told of the dangers of Communism, and that it was going to take over the world. Communism is a philosophy just like anything else, and in the '30s, many people were interested in it. They didn't all become Communists. On paper it's fine, but there aren't any people messing it up on paper. The reality is a very repressed, racist society where the top guys share in the wealth brought to them by the laborers.
Here they're depicted as people imagined them, powerful rabblerousers infiltrating every level of society. I doubt it got that far. And we see today that it's lost its grip most places.
As a baby boomer going to Catholic school, I was told that a Communist would point a gun to my head and ask if I was Catholic. When I said yes, I would be killed. Like that's what I planned to say.
"I Was a Communist for the FBI" is worth seeing as a '50s artifact with some suspenseful scenes.
A Night of Adventure (1944)
adequate B suspenser
Tom Conway stars with Audrey Long in "A Night of Adventure," a 1944 film. Conway plays Mark Latham, a busy attorney whose canceled too many evenings with his wife Erica (Audrey Long). Unhappy, she decides to leave him and moves into her own apartment. One of her admirers is an artist, Tony Claire (Louis Borel). When his old girlfriend is murdered, Erica appeals to her husband to defend him, and he takes the case.
Okay film. Conway, the brother of George Sanders, has the family smooth voice, although he's less debonair than Sanders. Audrey Long is one of the glamorous, well spoken leading ladies of the '40s who didn't achieve big stardom; she retired when she married "The Saint" creator Leslie Charteris.
Entertaining - this film is a remake of a 1934 film "Hat, Coat, and Glove" and was originally a play of the same name.
First Yank Into Tokyo (1945)
Man can once again walk unafraid
That sentiment, which came at the tacked-on ending of this strange movie, didn't turn out to be true.
This film is notable mainly for the presence of Tom Neal, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 1965.
Neal plays Steve Ross, a soldier who had lived in Tokyo and spoke Japanese like a native. He agrees to undergo plastic surgery to look Japanese and goes undercover in a concentration camp to rescue Lewis Jardine, a scientist with valuable secrets about the atomic bomb. It's a doubly dangerous mission because Ross' old roommate, Hideko Okanura (Richard Loo) heads the camp.
The real story here is the love story between Ross and the camp nurse, Abby Drake (Barbara Hale), whom Ross had presumed dead after they left one another back in the states. She doesn't recognize him but feels sympathetic towards him.
This is a real Hollywood/World War II artifact. The set is unbelievably cheap and obvious, the concentration camp is more like a low-budget Holiday Inn, and the Japanese are Chinese and American.
There has been criticism levied at the way the Japanese are portrayed, and I like the analogy one of the reviewers here made -- would you like to see a film with a sympathetic Al Qaeda character? It's important to watch a film and see it in the context of the times. Grant you, it's a contrived plot and not particularly good.
Barbara Hale would go on to fame as Della Street in the Perry Mason series. She's still alive and the mother of actor William Katt. Tom Neal's private life was far more impressive than his professional one. He's okay here. These films were always made very quickly, so it's hard to criticize the finer points of his performance.
The atom bomb was dropped before the release of the film, so the studio went back and threw on another ending.
Lots of films in those days did not portray the grittiness and atrocity of the war. Most of these propaganda movies were made for general audiences and soft-pedaled some of the more horrible aspects. It was a different time and the world was different. Today we can go to the movies or watch the news and see all the atrocity, violence, and horror we want.
Back again for one more season
Inspector Lewis (Kevin Whately) is retired and living with Laura (Clare Holman) when a 2001 case of his is reopened due to cross-contamination of DNA evidence.
Graham Lawrie was convicted of killing three policeman. He has always claimed innocence. The lab that did the tests has now been found to have been wrong in two other cases. Worse, a police officer has just been killed in a similar way, with a hammer.
Lewis believes he had the right man,and he thinks the latest murder is a copycat murder or perhaps done by an accomplice. As the senior officer now, Hathaway is sensitive to the problem but knows he has to be unbiased in the investigation.
He learns that some evidence was not presented in 2001 that would have cast doubt on the Lawrie's guilt -- that he had an alibi for one of the murders. Lawrie is set free, and another officer is killed.
Lewis comes out of retirement to assist in the case.
Good episode, interesting mystery with a neat twist. Lewis and Hathaway work well together even if they do argue. Good to see them back. The acting was very good.
enjoyable episode, and Scott is starting to grow on me
Det. Supt. Barnaby and DS Scott go to the village of Fletcher's cross to investigate the murder of an undertaker in "Things that Go Bump in the Night." At first it looks like a suicide, in fact, that's what his wife thinks, but the man was killed upon his return from a spiritualist church.
The organization is disliked by the village because a woman, Liz, conducts séances there. However, the murder victim investigate the murder of Patrick Pennyman, an undertaker in the village of Fletcher's Cross. The man's wife thinks he committed suicide but the pathologist determines he was killed. He wasn't well liked, so there are plenty of suspects.
Barnaby isn't one to believe in psychics, so he believes the head of the church is a fraud. When there are more murder victims, he is able to put the pieces together.
I wouldn't call this a fabulous mystery as far as motives and twists, but it's good enough. I didn't care for Barnaby's assistant Scott that much at first, but I like him better in each episode. Unfortunately he'll be gone soon, but all the assistants were good.
Journal of a Crime (1934)
melodrama starring Ruth Chatterton
When one says the name Ruth Chatterton, one is evoking a very early period in films. Chatterton was a noted stage actress and she demonstrated a wonderful flair in films. She was kind of the Kay Francis of the very early '30s, though Francis was working by then. Chatterton had about 12 years on her so was on her way out.
In this film, she's married to Adolph Menjou. Menjou is in love with the ingénue lead in his play. She's playing for keeps and warns her lover if he doesn't get a divorce, they're through. Chatterton overhears this and kills her during a rehearsal. Her husband knows about it, but another man, a bank robber, is arrested. She refuses to go to the police.
It's actually a psychological drama, with Menjou predicting she will destroy herself because of guilt. She does start to sink downhill.
Some say this was a weak ending, and I suppose it was, but it is an interesting one, if contrived. I kind of liked it.
I think it's worth seeing some of these very early stars, and I especially enjoy Ruth Chatterton's performances.