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Interesting Horror Yarn
Director Roger Corman takes the helm in this surprisingly good horror story. Former matinee idol Ray Milland plays a scientist who developes a serum that enables him to see through things. There are clever moments and some fun along the way before the harrowing finale. With Diana Van Der Vlis (whatever became of her?), Harold J. Stone, John Hoyt and funnyman Don Rickles.
Navy Blues (1941)
Gal's & Gob's in bouncy musical comedy
After the Navy docks in Honolulu the fun begins when some sailors get into hot water due to a contest and the gals are not far behind. There's wisecracks galore with Ann Sheridan, Jack Oakie, Martha Raye and Jack Haley. A highlight and a sight to behold is Miss Sheridan in a grass skirt doing the hula in the big production number of "Waikiki". Rounding out the cast are Herbert Anderson, Jack Carson and a very young Jackie Gleason. A Warner Brothers film it is shown occasionally on Turner Classic Movies.
An elephant never forgets
Oliver Hardy shines as a small town doctor in this amusing comedy set in the Old South. After tending to an ailing elephant Hardy can't get rid of the beast since she is so appreciative and an elephant never forgets. It's a fun path as Zenobia follows the portly doctor just about everywhere he goes. This is one of the few times that Hardy appeared in a film without his partner Stan Laurel however he handles it quite well. Co-starring are Jean Parker, James Ellison, Alice Brady, Billie Burke as the doctors befuddled wife and the ever dependable Hattie McDaniel. It's available on VSH folks.
You Only Live Once (1937)
Compelling drama of human destiny
Director Fritz Lang helms this well mounted drama of a struggling couple. Henry Fonda is a petty crook attempting to reform when he is framed on a murder charge. He eventually breaks out of prison and tries to escape to Canada with his wife (Sylvia Sidney) only fate seems to be against them. A nice blend of drama and romance with Fonda and Sidney most impressive in the starring roles. The fine supporting cast includes William Gargan, Barton MacLane, Margaret Hamilton, and Ward Bond. Unfortunately this gem of 1937 is not available on video and is seldom shown on TV anymore.
Unknown Island (1948)
Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...
...a tale of a fateful trip. Only this tale is from a 1948 outrageous B flick about scientists who hire a corrupt skipper for a voyage to a strange Island. Once the passengers and crew arrive they encounter prehistoric beasts of which some are laughable due to poor special effects. Although when I saw this film as a kid I was impressed with it. Surprisingly the tagline says it took a year to produce while the film "King Kong" was made 15 years prior with superior special effects. The inhabitants include lovely Virginia Grey, Philip Reed, Richard Denning and Barton MacLane. Filmed in Cinecolor it is fun to watch and has been shown on AMC. It's also available on VHS and DVD so it can't be all that bad.
The Secret of Convict Lake (1951)
Effective Western with a fine cast
In "The Secret of Convict Lake" danger looms in the winter of the 1870's when escaped prisoners hide out at a colony consisting mostly of women. There's enough drama to hold your interest as the ladies unleash some of their own frustrations as they contend with some slimey characters. Of course the "secret" is another matter which I won't reveal. The exceptional cast includes Glenn Ford, Gene Tierney, Ethel Barrymore, Zachary Scott, Ann Dvorak, Jeanette Nolan, Helen Westcott and Ruth Donnelly. There's also an impressive performance from Robert Hylton an actor with potential who should have had a bigger career in Hollywood.
Madame X (1966)
Lana Turner has a field day as Madame X
This glossy remake of an attorney (Keir Dullea) defending a woman accused of murder, not knowing it's his mother is a grand soaper. Lana Turner gives a bravura performance going from ravishing beauty to a haggered drunken sot all in the name of mother love. Veteran actress Constance Bennett is equally good as her conniving mother-in-law. Also in the cast are John Forsythe, Ricardo Montalban and Burgess Meredith as two unsavory characters. Lovely Virginia Grey is also present. Of course no Ross Hunter film would be complete without sumptuous production values, lavish wardrobe and lush surroundings.
Our Very Own (1950)
Melodramatic movie with interesting topic
Director David Miller takes us into the lives of a homespun family where everything appears to be peachy until one of the teens find out that she is adopted. After such a shock she eventually wants to locate her birth mother and thats when "Our Very Own" gets interesting. The dependable cast includes Ann Blyth as the adoptee, Joan Evans and Natalie Wood her sisters, Jane Wyatt and Donald Woods their parents, Farley Granger and Martin Milner as the guys who console the gals. However its Ann Dvorak as the distraught birth mother who walks away with the picture with her usual expertise. Although this Samuel Goldwyn production didn't meet critical expectations it did make money for RKO Studios.
Frenchie's back in town
"Frenchie" (1950) is based loosely on the western classic "Destry Rides Again" only this time featuring a woman as the heroine. In her prime the shapely and gorgeous Shelley Winters as Frenchie Fontaine returns to her town and opens a saloon ,as a front, to avenge her fathers murder. Besides the usual gun play there is an old fashioned saloon fight when Frenchie tangles with another woman which is a hoot. Rounding out the cast of this technicolor co-feature are Joel McCrea, John Russell, Paul Kelly, Elsa Lanchester, John Emery and the ever dependable Marie Windsor.
Jeanne Eagels (1957)
Kim Novak at her "campy" best
OK....so this is not a classic film depicting the life of Jeanne Eagels however it has it's moments. First of all Kim Novak was a hot property at the time and she is gorgeous and oh so camp as Miss Eagels. Also captured in the film is the flavor of the era and the costumes are dazzling especially the one Novak wears as Princess Dardanella at a carnival where she gets busted by the police. The ultimate is when she prances on stage as Sadie Thompson in "Rain" to the tune of "Wabash Blues"....its actually a treat. Miss Novak is supported by a good cast including Jeff Chandler, Agnes Moorehead, Charles Drake, Murray Hamilton and especially Virginia Grey as has-been Elsie Desmond (one of Miss Grey's personal favorite roles).