Reviews written by registered user
|47 reviews in total|
Compact, tough little noir with Don Castle playing a dual role as the new D.A. and a criminal who impersonates him. Complications ensue when the good guy then has to impersonate the bad guy -- but the bad guy's wife shows up. Joe Sawyer is effective playing against his normal type as a corrupt cop. Edward Keane plays the main bad guy, wheelchair-bound but still able to be dastardly. Good to see Jeff Chandler (on the bad side) and James Arness (on the good side) in small but effective roles. It moves fast, the story's not bad and the cast acquits itself well. This one's a rarity that I saw at the American Cinematheque film noir festival. Very much worth your time.
Three stories ostensibly about New York, though really only the last one is -- the others could have been set anywhere. But the gimmick is that in each story the same three main actors play the three main parts. The stories are surprisingly good in an O. Henry-type of way. Sometimes the acting gets into that over-the-top histrionics you may dread in silent films, but frequently it seems quite modern and undated. First story's about the wife of a rich man who gets blackmailed by a mysterious person from her past. Second one is about a vamp who picks up a rich man in a club... and he happens to be married. Third one is set in the poverty-stricken East Side (with lots of great exteriors on the river) about a woman who marries a man she doesn't love and has to care for his paralyzed father. All very worthwhile, even if Charles Brabin's style is sometimes stodgy. Wish it were on DVD. Saw it at Cinecon 43 in Hollywood.
Just saw this at a screening at the American Cinematheque with director Tony Palmer present. For the record, interviews and performances include: Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, Cream, Frank Zappa, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Martin, Donovan, Jimi Hendrix, Manfred Mann, Lulu, The Who, Pete Townshend, Anthony Burgess and others. Great to see the fine performances; trenchant insight from Zappa. McCartney and Donovan seem like naive, starry-eyed idealists in hindsight. But a lot of what seems most dated is the whole "what's this pop music all about?" stuff from guys in suits doing experiments and such -- seems almost like a Monty Python parody of this kind of BBC documentary. Still, just as archival footage, it's a treat. Wish he'd shown some performance footage of Zappa and the Mothers, since all the other bands are well represented.
Yes, it's a cheap versions of GRAND HOTEL, but I think it works just fine. I'm going to disagree with some previous reviewers: I think Karloff is marvelous as the club owner, bringing a fierceness and bravado to it that others would lack. The rest of the cast is also good: Ayres, Marsh and Muse all register strongly. Hedda Hopper is indeed amazing as the bad mother. And George Raft stands out in his small part. A little of it is creaky and dated, but overall, I thought the camera-work was fluid and fine, the story moved fast and the characters were well-written. Nice little Busby Berkeley number near the top, too. Well worth checking out.
This is another turn on the 'rich guy goes hobo' routine, but it's grand fun. Millionaire Warner Baxter tires of all the hangers-on; when he saves tramp Peter Lorre from drowning, he switches clothes and tries out life with no dough. But Lorre tells the press that there's a millionaire dressed as a tramp who's going to give someone a million francs just for being nice to him. So the whole French town takes in all the tramps and gives them everything. Meanwhile, Baxter falls in -- and falls in love with -- Marjorie Weaver at the local circus. Lorre gives one of his best performances; and when he teams up with fellow tramp John Carradine towards the end, it's a match made in heaven. I'd watch a whole movie starring those two guys in those two roles! Baxter is just fine -- if a tad long in the tooth -- in the lead. Weaver is a fresh face; and the cast is full of wonderful faces and wonderful actors. Check this rarity out if it comes your way.
Sam Newfield, here working under the nom de plume of Peter Stewart, actually has a good cast and decent script this time out. All those involved acquit themselves well. For any of you familiar with Mr. Newfield, who'd shoot a movie in 3 days and frequently have lots of people standing around talking for indefinite periods of time, this is a welcome surprise. The film moves fast, the actors are all good (OK, Rory Calhoun is a little stiff, but he's the good guy, so get over it)and there's actually some character development (former drunk skipper Kelly who finds redemption). They don't get to the island of the title till two-thirds of the way through, but that won't bother you. Alan Napier then appears and steals the show in a sinister performance. It's a lot of fun and doesn't betray its low budget origins.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The story is kind of a muddle and doesn't always make sense: Both Ronald Reagan and Viveca Lindfors are damaged, brooding people. She's obsessed with her dead husband. He has epilepsy and thinks his life will end soon. But they fall in love -- and somehow must overcome their personal problems to find happiness. Her 'turn' to the good side really is contrived, with no reason behind it. His is almost as bad. Plus Reagan is totally miscast and comes across as about as emotional as a block of driftwood. Lindfors, Osa Massen and Broderick Crawford all try hard. But the man who tries the hardest is director Don Siegel. He dismisses this movie in his autobiography (though he later romanced leading lady Lindfors) but he works his butt off on it with constantly interesting camera moves and shot compositions -- some amazing dolly-work and beautiful black-and-white cinematography. So I'm giving this high marks because Siegel makes it seem so much better than it actually is. And that's the mark of a first-rate director.
This Lone Wolf entry introduces Gerald Mohr in the title role... and that's part of the problem. It labors for so long to set up that "this new guy" is the Lone Wolf that it takes a while for the plot to kick in -- it's like they felt they had to convince us that Mohr really is the Wolf, honest! Forget about that Warren William guy! So the first ten to fifteen minutes are rather slow. And Mohr is no Warren William. But he's competent enough and once the story gets going, it's amiable and breezy and fun. All about -- of course -- a stolen gem and the Wolf's attempts to find the real thief (he's blamed, as always). So it's not as good as some of the earlier Warren William Wolfs, but it's not bad, either. Moves along a quick clip and wraps it all up neatly, with some good fun as Mohr and sidekick Blore pretend to be Arab Royalty as they try to find the lost gem.
Dan Duryea is one of the best actors out there, able to play the slimiest slime-ball and the staunchest of heroes. Here he does a little of both and you're never sure which side he's on. The movie starts as a Noir Crime Thriller, then becomes a 30's-style social drama, then switches back to noir and crime -- but it never loses its style, its verve and its pace. Constantly fun and involving, due to Duryea's movable morals -- and to Stanley Cortez's gorgeous black-and-white cinematography. Director/Writer Endfield does a fine job keeping things going, setting up interesting shots and corralling a cast that's great down to every tiny part. Bad Guy Howard Da Silva chews the scenery with relaxed gusto and is a joy to watch. Highly recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Yes, this is a poor man's ISLAND OF LOST SOULS -- it can only afford ONE lost soul. But J. Carrol Naish is so amazing as the Ape-Man and he has such a marvelous supporting cast (including the always-solid George Zucco and Mike Mazurki) that it's absolutely watchable and compelling. Plus director Harry Lachman takes such care in creating each shot -- beautiful shots, every single one -- that it looks far more expensive than it must have been. They play the Man-Beast as more sympathetic and Pitiful than Frightening, which is a very good choice. So this doesn't have Big Scares but it has emotion and tenderness and care and wonderful attention to detail. I liked it quite a bit.
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