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Typical boring BBC production
My summary line says it all. My wife has been reading and enjoying Agatha Christie's Miss Marple books. She decided to buy this video to see if it was similar to the books she has read. She liked this film. As for me, it was exactly what I expected it to be. A long, boring teleplay with non-stop talk and absolutely no action until a very brief flurry appeared near the end.
Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)
I respectfully disagree
with all of the comments from those who think this is a great film. I found it extremely nerve wracking. With the exception of a couple of blessedly calm and quiet scenes, this film is one long mass confusion scene with an almost non-stop procession of marching bands, the entire population of a small town, pompous town officials and, Eddie Bracken, playing his usual stereotypical role as a put upon, confused, wimpy personna. The bit with the bands starting to play before they are supposed to is overdone to the point of nausea. And, throughout this film, I found myself giving thanks that Franklin Pangborn is no longer with us so that he can never again subject viewers to his annoying, over-the-top emoting. I could go on and on but, what's the point. By now, you get my drift.
My Fair Lady (1964)
Very Good (for a musical)
As a rule I absolutely despise musicals. The idea that people are talking and then, suddenly, burst into song would be enough, in the real world, to send for the looney wagon. But I must admit that, whenever MFL is shown on TV, I usually click on to it several times during the showing to try and catch some of the great songs. I could not care less about the storyline or what becomes of any of the characters. Marni Nixon has always been a favorite of mine and she has a voice that is stronger and much more pleasant than that of Julie Andrews, who was rejected by the film's producers for the role of Liza. I also enjoy Stanley Holloway and I was certainly perplexed when I read that he was not the first choice to play Liza's dad in the film. With their typical thirst for "name recognition" type actors, the part was actually offered to James Cagney who, wisely, turned it down.
Charlie Chan in Reno (1939)
Better than average Chan entry
This very good Charlie Chan mystery was made at 20th Century Fox. At this time the series still had the backing of a major studio and so the production values, acting, script, camera work, etc. were of good quality. Later, when Fox dropped the series and it found a home at Monogram, the Chan films got pretty bad with the look of cheapness in abundance. But, this film had some very good actors, such as Ricardo Cortez, Robert Lowery, and the always funny Slim Summerville supporting Sidney Toler as Chan. There seemed to be just the right amount of comic relief to keep the story moving at a good pace. Later Chan entries would go overboard with comedy with Mantan Moreland and company trying to avert the viewers from realizing what lame plots and bad acting they were watching. Of course, as in all Chan mysteries, there is no shortage of suspects in the case of a murder that is committed on a thoroughly unlikeable woman who seemed to go out of her way to alienate everyone. With several characters having a motive to kill the woman, Chan must sort out the clues and unmask the killer while continually being harassed by an inept (but very funny) sheriff, portrayed by Summerville. Victor Sen-Yung, as number two son, helps out when it counts while enduring the usual number of affectionate insults from his detective father. All in all, this movie is great fun.
The Whip Hand (1951)
Corny but entertaining anti-commie film
This film was, obviously, made during the era when communists were considered to be the major threat to the security of the USA. If the viewer watches the film strictly to indulge in approximately 85 minutes of escapism it can provide some low key entertainment. The story moves pretty fast and never bogs down with any over-emphasis on character development or plot.
I had never seen this film prior to my viewing it on Turner Classic Movies. I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of Elliott Reed. I have seen him in several movies and, in all of the others, he portrays, basically, the same type of character, that is, a slightly officious mid level executive, a spurned suitor, etc. I really enjoyed seeing him, in this film, actually portray a romantic, leading man hero, type of character. Yes, this film is strictly fluff. But, it can provide enjoyment and, IMHO, is notable, for the casting of Mr. Reed as the "star".
The gags never stop coming
If you're looking for good escapism in a comedy film, this one is for you. It's a very funny spoof of those 1980s Airport disaster films and it lampoons every possible cliche from that genre. Almost all of the actors do a great job with their characters. Deadpan Robert Stack is hilarious as the "no-nonsense" senior pilot who, via radio, talks down the troubled plane, being flown by Robert Hays. Lloyd Bridges is in command of the control center and I, personally, have never been as entertained by him as I was while watching this movie. Leslie Nielsen showed that he could play comedy as good as, or maybe better than, most actors. One down note for me: The character of Johnny, played by Stephen Stucker was, IMHO, not funny at all. In fact, he was extremely annoying as he acted like a real jerk throughout the story line. In real life, Stucker died in 1986 at the age of 37. Cause of death is listed as AIDS (Gee, what a surprise).
Pop Always Pays (1940)
Sometimes funny, sometimes annoying
This movie is another one of those "tours de force" for Leon Erroll. He can, at times be a very funny man. Unfortunately, at other times, he is simply nerve wracking and annoying. IMHO it's split about 50-50 in this film. Erroll has promised his daughter and her fiancee that if the fiancee is able to save $1000, he will give them an additional $1000. But, for reasons that are never adequately explained and are rather far fetched, Erroll suddenly becomes cash poor and will not be able to come up with the additional $1000. Of course all of this leads to a series of deceptions and mix ups as Erroll frantically tries to obtain the money without having to tell his family of his financial situation. If you are a fan of Leon Erroll you will probably enjoy this picture. All others should be warned that there are several scenes that will test your' patience and your' nerves. BTW, the family maid and the next door neighbor are both extremely obnoxious and very grating characters.
The Wild Man of Borneo (1941)
Typical Frank Morgan vehicle
This simple little film features Frank Morgan playing his typical flim-flam man role. Morgan was one of the best at portraying a bragging, self important grifter who was never at a loss for words when playing one of his con games. In this film he is a good hearted but under achieving father who desperately wants to provide a good life for his grown up daughter. He meets many obstacles along the way but also receives help from some old friends who, obviously, are very fond of him. One caution: Bonita Granville plays an obnoxious bratty young teen ager who never lets up throughout the entire film. Her performance caused me to almost bail out and change the channel on a couple of occasions. Her performance is pretty hard to take. But, all in all, if you have some spare time and wish to spend it watching a simple little "puff" piece, you may enjoy this film.
Strange story line
With all due respect to Leonard Maltin, I can see no way that this strange movie deserved a rating of 3.5 stars. It's simply, not that good. It appears to be two different stories contained in one movie. First, there is Boris Karloff, playing an aged, over-the-hill horror movie actor (how's that for type casting?)who decides to retire instead of fulfilling a personal appearance at a drive in movie theatre and doing a movie scripted by an aspiring young screenwriter. The second story concerns a real wacko gun freak who possesses an impressive arsenal of deadly weapons and, for reasons that are never explored in even the most superficial manner, starts killing people, mostly at random. When Karloff decides to make the personal appearance after all, the two stories come together in a manner that, while it is pretty exciting, is about as bogus as it can get.
Payment Deferred (1932)
Good story but looks very dated
A family which is on it's way to the poor house suddenly acquires wealth because of a murder. The husband enters into an affair with a nefarious woman who, naturally, proceeds to blackmail him. The attempt to cover-up both the murder and the affair form the basis of this movie.
The story line is a most interesting one. But, this film was made way back in 1932 and, by today's standards, the production is very dated and old fashioned. Charles Laughton, while undeniably a great actor, goes a bit "over the top" at times. The actress who plays his wife constantly overacts in a style that was probably "de rigeur" in the early 1930s but, to say the least, is somewhat annoying in these modern times. I am usually against remakes but I think that I would like to see a modern version of this story. I believe that it would be a very impressive film.