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Out of Control (2009)
atrocious doesn't come close
Boy this thing had the stamp of Lifetime all over it. Released in 2009 and produced in Canada, Out of Control stars Laura Vandervoort, an absolutely stunning blonde. She plays Marcie, who is a Chicago cop longing to be a detective. She gets her chance, against the wishes of her retired officer father.
In real life, Vandervoort has a second degree black belt in karate. I have a feeling in her case it was necessary.
I actually can't describe the acting in this because I didn't see any. The pacing is terrible, and the characters are vapid and not very likable. They all have attitude for days. Then there's the script.
And it's badly miscast. I'm not saying beautiful women don't become policewomen, of course they do. But I wouldn't describe Laura Vandervoort as simply beautiful. We're talking Miss Universe or supermodel here.
Someone like this, if she wanted to be involved in law enforcement, would be doing something that required her to go undercover exposing drug lords, corruption in high finance, doing FBI stings. Certainly she'd be too valuable for a job investigating murder on the Chicago police force.
Annoying rather than entertaining.
The Governor's Wife (2008)
I'd say unintentionally hilarious but alas, it wasn't
Deadly Suspicion is an absolutely dreadful 2008 movie starring Marilu Henner as the widow of a murdered. And how did I know the distributor of this dreck was none other than Lifetime? It had its particular stamp - less than mediocre.
This is one of those films that, ten seconds after it starts, you know the entire story, including any subplots that haven't been mentioned yet.
Henner wants her son (Matt Kesslar) to enter politics like his father, but he comes home with a fiancée who is a doctor (Emily Bergl), and neither of them are interested in public political life.
Meanwhile, the governor's daughter Hayley is in a mental institution, overdrugged.
The acting is beyond awful. Marilu Henner is a lovely woman but just doesn't make it as a domineering matron.
The ending is more like a horror movie, but then I could say that the whole thing was one big horror.
Naughty But Nice (1939)
Dick Powell stars with Ann Sheridan and Gale Page in "Naughty but Nice," a film from 1939 that also features Helen Broderick and Zasu Pitts, Ronald Reagan, Allen Jenkins and Max Rosenbloom.
Powell is Professor Hardwick who teaches at Winfield College and hates swing music, which is the new craze. He has written a piece, classical of course, and he goes to New York to have it published.
He stays with his Aunt Martha (Broderick) who loves swing as do all her friends. A nondrinker, he develops a love for lemonade which is actually a Hurricane and drinks them like juice, becoming bombed.
He finally sells his piece to Eddie (Reagan), and he has Linda McKay (Page) put lyrics to it -- and turn it into a big swing number, performed by Zelda (Sheridan).
Eddie and McKay are the Rogers & Hammerstein of swing, but Zelda wants in, not only wanting to sing, but having the music published by Hudson, the Home of the Hits.
Lots and lots of music, and this is such a nice cast. However, somewhere the movie went awry. For one thing, it's too long. It was hard to stay interested in it.
I should have liked it a lot more. Warren and Mercer were responsible for most of the songs, and some of them were based on classical pieces. Somehow it just fell flat. A shame.
Penguin Pool Murder (1932)
Penguin Pool Murder from 1932 stars Edna May Oliver, James Gleason, Mae Clarke, and Donald Cook. It's a B movie, the first of the Hildegarde Withers series.
While Miss Withers is with her students at the aquarium, the body of a stockbroker, Gerald Parker, is found in the penguin tank.
His wife Gwen (Clarke) is suspected, as she had a boyfriend (Cook) there at the time.
The inspector on the case, Piper (Gleason) has to put up with a witness -- Miss Withers, who else -- who has all kinds of opinions and advice. He soon comes to appreciate her keen sense of observation.
Short and lively, this is entertaining, with Oliver and Gleason giving vivid characterizations. I am looking forward to seeing more in this series.
Thunder in the City (1937)
Robinson away from Warners
Sick of gangster roles, Edward G. Robinson entered into a fight with Warners and left for the UK to make "Thunder in the City" in 1937.
The story concerns Dan Armstrong, a slick marketing promoter who loses his job in the U.S. because the company he works for since his methods are old-fashioned and low-class. They suggest he go to England to learn how civilized people market and advertise.
Once there, Dan gets right down to it, inflating the value of stock to beat out a businessman (Ralph Richardson) who wants to buy it from the original owners (Nigel Bruce and Constance Collier). The product being produced is called magnelite but don't ask me or anyone else what it does.
Robinson is always great, and even though this is somewhat low-budget, it comes off okay thanks to the talent. This is an early film for Ralph Richardson who is excellent as a man in competition for the product and for the hand of Lady Patricia (Lulu Deste), whom Dan has fallen for.
Enjoyable and feel-good. Sorry it didn't do better at the box office. Robinson was a great gangster, but he was delightful in this as well.
Second Sight (1999)
Clive Owen stars as a police detective losing his sight in "Second Sight," a 1999 TV series.
Like Benedict Cumberbatch, Clive Owen first found popularity as a television actor. In Second Sight, he plays DCI Ross Tanner, a man who discovers he has a rare eye disease which may go into remission, stay the way it is, or ultimately he will go blind. The disease also gives him the ability to pick up when something is wrong in an interrogation, and he suffers from hallucinations.
He's terrified of his superiors and people working under him to find out the truth, so he enlists the help of his second in command, DI Catherine Tully (Claire Skinner).
Along the way Tanner learns to use his other senses to help his detecting, realizing that not every clue is visual.
Excellent series with wonderful acting by the very hunky Owen. I'd crawl to see him in anything. The subplot is about Tanner's relationship with his ex-wife and son.
Loved the story lines and wish this series lasted longer.
I have to take issue with one of the remarks here. Someone was angry that subtitles were suggested and thought it was awful.
I've been to England several times, I've seen so many mysteries and detective stories and movies from England it's not funny. But now I'm partially deaf. Also, the British idea of sound is to do it very naturally - it's really not filtered the way U.S. sound is. So some of those dialects can be hard to understand.
I used earphones with this, which I suggest for this very excellent series because it has no subtitles.
I loved Inspector Lynley, but the subtitles didn't show up on the disks and I missed probably 40%. Now that it's on streaming on Netflix, I plan to go back and see it. Sorry but this is reality. People love this stuff and it's too hard to hear and/or understand without some help.
Try having some understanding of an aging population and your fellow man.
The Judge Steps Out (1947)
What was it with that STUPID, STUPID CODE - I HATE IT
Alexander Knox plays a judge so fed up with his life and the pressures on him that he disappears in "The Judge Steps Up," an absolutely wonderful film from 1949 that fell victim to the Hayes Code.
Knox is Judge Thomas Bailey, a judge living in Boston with his family. He loves what he does, but he's unappreciated by his family. His wife (Frieda Inescort) is a social climber and doesn't think he makes enough money.
When their daughter (Martha Hyer) is about to be married, she puts the screws to him for a fortune to pay for it, crying that she can't face her friends with some cheap wedding. At the wedding, he's encouraged to go for a plum job in Washington, arranged by his daughter's new father-in-law.
Bailey has no interest in the job but agrees to go and see what it's all about. En route, he becomes ill, and finds a doctor who tells him he's sick, all right -- of life -- and actually convinces him to go fishing with him.
On leaving again, Bailey writes a wire to his wife and, running for his train, asks the doctor to send it. As he looks out of the train, he sees the doctor rip it up.
Bailey blows the job off and goes on a great adventure, ultimately winding up at a small 24-hour café in California where he's hired a a short order cook by the owner, Peggy (Ann Sothern). The two fall in love, and he decides to settle down with her.
Then something happens that causes him to realize that he made a mistake in a case he decided, and has to go back to Boston to make things right, which ultimately will help Peggy in her own situation of trying to adopt a young girl, Nan (Sharyn Moffett). He plans to return.
He may plan it, but we know the Hayes Code won't permit it.
Though this film ends partially satisfactorily, it's not what anyone watching wants. Granted, there have been enough changes that will make both his and Peggy's life much happier, but all anyone wants is for the two of them to stay together. Yuck.
What a wonderful, warm film, with Ann Sothern never more beautiful and Knox very sympathetic as the judge.
For some reason, this film took two years to be released. Something tells me there was another ending that couldn't get past the censors.
One reason I hate the code is that it made every single movie so predictable. Yet you'd always hope and it was so cruel.
One thing that got by the censors (in my opinion) is that Bailey and Peggy slept together - it's subtle but there. When she wakes up and stretches, she is taking up one side of the bed and looks over to her left. He isn't there but we know he was. Also the dialogue later indicates to us that's what happened.
I didn't expect to love this film - it was on my recording device so I watched it -- but I did love it. I recommend it to anyone. One becomes involved with the characters and really cares about what happens.
Beautiful job of directing by Boris Ingster, who wrote the screenplay with Knox. Ingster ultimately became a big TV producer, but he directed another fine film, Stranger on the Third Floor.
a famous actor, poison, and Poirot
Reverend Babbington and his wife attend a party at the home of Sir Charles Cartwright, a great actor in the style of Ralph Richardson or John Gielgud. While there, the reverend chokes to death although he doesn't seem to have been poisoned.
Later on, another friend of the actor's, Sir Bartholomew Strange, dies of poisoning at a dinner party that he is giving.
Poirot offers to help Superintendent Crossfield, and in this he's supported by Cartwright. Poirot discovers that a butler was hired for the night and seemed to be enjoying some in joke with the doctor. The butler is gone, and Poirot suspects he is the killer.
Then there is a third death, that of a sanitarium patient who wrote to Poirot, links to the doctor's murder. Somebody is hiding something, but what? And is the vicar's death part of this?
This is a pretty good story, which was done as a TV movie previously starring Peter Ustinov and Tony Curtis.
The acting is very good, though I admit I'm not a fan of Martin Shaw. In this I felt he wasn't bombastic enough in his role -- Tony Curtis played the character as a real divo. Kimberley Nixon, Kate Ashfield, Jane Asher, and Tom Wisdom are wonderful.
And Suchet, of course, is perfection himself as Poirot, as are the period production values.
This is an interesting story, and it gets season 12 off to a good start.
Two Loves (1961)
not very good
Shirley MacLaine is Anna, a spinster schoolteacher, American born but teaching Maori children in New Zealand. She is devoted to her work and loves the children.
Two men come into her life. One is a drunkard (Laurence Harvey) who comes on strong, though Anna resists him, wanting to wait until marriage to have sex. The other (Jack Hawkins) is an administrator at the school, married but separated from his wife. Both men are in love with her.
Part of the story concerns her assistant, Whareparita, who becomes pregnant with twins, and will not reveal the identity of the father. The Maori tribe is happy about it and will all help to raise the children. This is very different from Anna's own ideas and culture.
The film is based on a novel, Spinster, which I haven't read. Virginity is treated here as if it's an incurable disease. Also, for a movie supposedly set in New Zealand, I didn't see much (including people) that indicated the location. No accents. I guess Hollywood thought it was interchangeable with England.
Anna does come to grips with what and who she wants finally. But it's a strange film and it's hard to warm up to the characters. It's also extremely talky. Talky is fine - I don't need action every second - but the dialogue needs to be scintillating. This wasn't.
MacLaine comes off like a scatterbrain; Harvey acts like a demented nut; and Hawkins is very serious. I would have perhaps cast someone else. The role needed someone a tad younger and more charm or personality.
Disappointing though not awful, just kind of blah.
the new Barnaby takes over
I was fairly bored with this episode, which introduces Neil Dudgeon as Barnaby's replacement, his cousin John.
The show begins with two schoolgirls finding a body on the grounds of a private school. It then skips to 45 years later, when a classic car competition is taking place on the grounds of the same school, run by Harriett Wingate.
Jones is busy restoring a vintage car owned by racer Duncan Palmer, the man whose body was found 45 years ago. The competition will be a fierce one, judged by Peter Fossett, Palmer's old teammate. One of the entrants is his own daughter Katie, who is there under protest by her ex-husband Jamie. He is on the board with Harriett, and in love with her daughter Jessica.
Kate wants to win badly and tries to bribe another judge, a radio D.J. named Doggy Day. Doggy Day is murdered while working on her car.
Later another man meets the same fate.
In comes Barnaby to try to sort things out. He discovers all sorts of things, some from the past, including illegitimacy and drug dealing.
Well, this Barnaby has nothing on the old Barnaby. There is something incredibly appealing about John Nettles. I always found him terribly attractive as Barnaby, sharp, with a good sense of humor and authority. Neil Dudgeon comes off as John Barnaby as a know-it-all, somewhat snobby and pompous. Maybe he'll change. I hope so. He's almost as dull as this episode.