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Too Late for Tears (1949)
It could have been a classic
This is a well-plotted movie with many twists and turns. Dan Duryea's role was a notch below the demonic type he usually played in noirs, but he carried it brilliantly, especially the drunk scene. His delivery of the "don't ever change, Tiger..." line alone was worth the price of admission.
Arthur Kennedy and Don DeFore were more than competent, although I felt DeFore didn't fully extend himself, but I wouldn't go to the wall with that opinion.
Kristine Miller didn't have that much screen time but made the most of it, although had a few flat scenes.
Lizabeth Scott, in my opinion was pretty bad. The more tense the scene was the more low-keyed and withdrawn she seemed to become. It seemed that she didn't have any feeling for this character at all...one can only imagine what Joan Crawford would have done with the role. Having said all this, I am going to lay most of the defects at the feet of the director, Byron Haskin. While the characters of Duryea and Kennedy were well defined, the rest seemed to be struggling to find their respective levels. At the end of the movie, I felt like I had been cheated. In a lot of senses the movie is almost unique and should enjoy a larger noir status, but it is a classic case of having all the elements and not having them put in their proper places.
My conclusion? Watch it, you'll enjoy it, but it could have been so much better.
Kiss Me Kate (1953)
Beyond the Music and Dancing...Nothing
A lot of people associated with this movie have a lot to answer for. The music was very good although it was changed from the Broadway play. If you ever saw the play you will see that the original was not only different but so much better. I am not an expert on dancing, so I will not comment on that part. The direction was awful. I you see Howard Keel in "7 Brides for 7 Brothers" you will see him under control. For some reason, the director thought everyone should play their part way over the top. The product cheaped out with Ansco color which was really glaring, especially the stage costumes. The sets were also cheap. Check out the rooftop scene in the opening. The cinematography made me crazy. Why show Ann Miller from the waste up when she is dancing? For that matter, with her legs, why show any other part? (Just kidding). I could go on with the second unit and whatnot, but I will summarize by saying the production values were shockingly poor. 3 of 10.
Hi Diddle Diddle (1943)
This movie presents serious problems for me. First, I couldn't stand the fact that an admitted felon, a swindler (Barton Hepburn), was wandering through the movie without anyone thinking to call the police. Not only did he swindle Billy Burke of everything, but then proceeds to disrupt everyone's life and PEOPLE LISTEN TO HIM!!! I also have no patience for Ms. Burke's as a ditz. She is capable of so much more.
Murder at the Vanities (1934)
Even the Duke couldn't save this one.
I rented this movie because of the title and the cast. I was taken with the fact that Kitty Carlisle, Jack Oakie and Carl Brisson (terrific in "The Manxman") were in it, not to mention the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
I can't complain about the thin plot line because I didn't expect much more, to be honest, but I was disappointed with the flat acting and production numbers. This movie really cried out for Busby Berkeley and, I think, Zazu Pitts (I have to admit Dorothy Stickney was excellent at the crazy maid).
All of this would be acceptable if it wasn't for the way they handled the Duke Ellington Orchestra number. It was shameful to give him so little time and use that particular number. But, I think it was reflective of the way the movie was directed. I find it amazing this movie didn't bury Mitchell Leisen's career. I gave it a generous 5/10.
Horse Feathers (1932)
70 years old and still hilarious
The Marx Brothers comedy has shown itself to be durable and this movie is probably the best example of it. Even though the studios felt they worked better in a more structured vehicle - and they were funny (see "Night at the Opera") - this movie works at all levels, even in the 21st Century.
But what is a college widow?
A Bridge Too Far (1977)
One Hour Too Long
If the Joseph Levine hadn't been obsessed with making this movie, I doubt it ever would have ever existed. The material was fascinating, the acting first rate, direction flawless and the overall production values top flight. But, at 3 hours and a few hundred characters, it was just too long. Watching the movie, it seemed obvious to me that there was just no way to cut the movie down and maintain the integrity of the story and moral. It is a shame that it is difficult to watch since the potential impact is very affirming.
An excellent B movie
Paramount really did this B movie right. The script was well-thought out and the acting was, for the most part, terrific. The lone exception was Arline Judge, who seemed to be walking through her part with her jaw partially wired shut. Comic relief was amply supplied by William Frawley, John Dilson and, especially, Arthur Hunnicutt. Richard Arlen seemed to be inspired in this movie and Buster Crabbe was convincing as the bad guy. What a wonderful surprise this movie turned out to be.
The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935)
If you like jungle shots, a movie for you; otherwise, skip it
How do you say slow in chimpanzee? Now consider this: this is the condensed (70 minutes) version of a 12 episode serial, a total of 257 minutes. If you remove the long jungle pans and the many shots of the jungle fauna, this movie is maybe 40 minutes long. The plot is pretty thin and confusing until the end. One tends to lose sight of the fact that Tarzan is on this journey to find a lost friend. There is also another person, a Ula Vale, who's motives are never made clear. If you are going to watch this movie on tape, I would suggest you keep your finger on the fast forward button and use it liberally. If you do like jungle shots, you will love this movie.
Queen of the Yukon (1940)
Decent movie by a bad studio
If this movie had been made by 20th Century Fox, it probably would have been a classic. I don't know how it happened, but Monogram got the rights and did the picture. That meant everything was done on the cheap, including the direction, the writing and the acting. While there were some journeyman performances by Charles Bickford and Irene Rich, a lot of that was lost by the bad lines they had to deliver and the uninspired directing. Also, June Carlson was awful. The only ones who seemed to try to rise above it all were George Cleveland and Guy Usher as Grub and Stake. Even though it is now defunct I still hate Monogram Studios.
Dinner at Eight (1933)
Let it all hang out
Did someone say "over the top?" A lot of actors in this movie seemed to have a lot of fun with their parts and the results were surprising. It was (and still is) a very funny movie. Kudos to Marie Dressler, Billy Burke and Jean Harlow, especially Dressler. She had those eyebrows working overtime. And the take at the end when Harlow said "I was reading a book" was priceless. We have not seen her like again.