Reviews written by registered user
mark.waltz

Send an IMDb private message to this author or view their message board profile.

Page 1 of 206:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [Next]
2052 reviews in total 
Index | Alphabetical | Chronological | Useful

Saleslady (1938)
In marriage, the first hundred years are the hardest., 16 September 2014
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Anne Nagel was a pleasant looking "B" actress who in the 1930's and 40's starred in a variety of programmers at Monogram, sometimes going over to Universal or even Warner Brothers. Not to be confused with the British Anna Neagle, she wasn't the greatest star, just a dependable young actress who was likable and realistic. In this drama, she plays a young heiress who leaves her grandfather's mansion and heads into Chicago where, pretending to be poor, she moves into a boarding house and finds work selling mattresses in a department store, because she knows (as the granddaughter of a mattress magnate) exactly how many springs it takes to make a mattress soft.

On her very first day at work, she becomes the object of young Weldon Heyburn's affections, and pretty soon has accepted his marriage proposal. Heyburn's actions today might be considered sexual harassment. In fact, many of his attitudes today would cause him to loose his job, although in the 1930's, there were not sexual harassment laws. When he makes a comment about how he expects his wife to be to quit her job as soon as they are married (because he smilingly tells her that he believes that the wife's place is in the home), I was reminded of an incident which took place at San Francisco's Castro Theater when I saw a screening of 1957's "Funny Face" there. Fred Astaire pretty much said something very similar to Audrey Hepburn, and the very political audience booed. In the case of this film, that audience might have gotten laryngitis from booing at Weyburn's dated attitudes.

While Nagel is sincere and believable, Weyburn blandly delivers most of his lines, showing little emotion and spark. The real scene-stealer in this film is the lovable Harry Davenport as Nagel's aging grandfather, still running the mattress business and initially opposed to Nagel's plans. You can tell through the sparkle in his eyes that he had a tremendous joy for life, and like his lively uncle to Merle Oberon in "The Cowboy and the Lady" (delightfully singing "A Tisket, a Tasket" to her) and grandfather to Judy Garland in "Meet Me in St. Louis", he commands attention every second he is on screen. One of the best moments is the unaware Weyburn's giving him a few dollars when Davenport spends the night with the newlyweds, looking down at the cash as if thinking, "Oh, this is what the smaller bills look like".

While the film has some definite continuity problems (characters who seem like they are going to be important to the storyline disappear quickly), there are some emotional moments too that make the film occasionally shine. Monogram made some real sleepers during their years as one of the top poverty row studios aside from the usual westerns, murder mysteries and horror films, and this ranks among them. It may not have changed the world of film as we know it, but its simple script of real people living real lives is a sweet tale worth being told.

The defense attorney becomes the target...of his own client!, 16 September 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It doesn't matter that defense attorney Melvyn Douglas has gotten racketeer Preston Foster off almost three dozen times for various crimes, but when he is sentenced to nine years in prison for tax evasion (a la Al Capone), Foster wants revenge when he finds out that Douglas has been romancing his estranged wife (Lila Lee) with whom he has a child. It doesn't matter that Lee left him long before he was sent to prison; Foster wants revenge, and after successfully escaping, makes his way back to New York to confront the man who committed a lot of amoral acts to have earlier kept him out of prison.

This fast moving crime drama is unique not only in the fact that it paralleled recent history but showed an actual criminal trial where there was no jury, only a judge (Charles Coburn in his feature film debut) presided. Once he gets to prison, Foster is bombarded by unwanted pressures from stuttering prisoner Roscoe Ates telling him of his own issues with his defense attorney. This of course, leads to his desperate move to escape and of course a very dramatic confrontation at the end.

While some may consider this nothing more than an extended variation of MGM's "Crime Doesn't Pay" series, this is brisk and powerfully gripping. There's never any doubt how this will end, but performances are excellent and the script doesn't milk the audience by adding unnecessary plot developments. Overall, a nice little find and one worth watching again.

A plot as old and stale as film itself., 16 September 2014
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What has been the most overused plot line in motion pictures? The most obvious one to me is the spooky old mansion where some aging relative, hated by everyone in their family, gathers everybody together, and all of a sudden kicks the bucket in a way that is most obviously murder. There's all sorts of greedy relatives abound, spooky servants, a fragile heroine being stalked by the killer, and of course, the wise-cracking reporter and stupid police officers investigating the case.

The victim here is the very nasty William V. Mong who detests every one of his relatives and has obviously mistreated his staff, which includes a creepy looking secretary nephew (Dwight Frye). Mong, who has left his will unsigned, calls the police to his mansion to arrest a relative he believes has gotten into his safe, read his will and switched a valuable diamond he keeps there. Just as he is in the midst of telling off the greedy family and servants, he keels over and is discovered to be dead with a knife stuck into his heart. It's ironic that the dumb as nails detective Regis Toomey is there, reciting the most stereotypical of dumb dialog.

As for the servants, there's of course a very dour housekeeper, in this case played by silent film veteran Lucille La Verne who would make screen history by allowing her profile to be used for the old hag in Disney's "Snow White" and providing her voice for both the hag and the glamorous version of the character. She is also known for her toothless hags in the silent "Orphans of the Storm" and the 1935 version of "A Tale of Two Cities", but here, she's got her teeth in, overacting with her few lines of dialog and being totally over the top. Poor Snowflake is given the most embarrassing assignment as the black manservant, a total coward who shakes in fear every time something spooky happens. A cloaked mysterious character looks more like the hooded Elephant Man than a scary creature and waves their cloaked arms around, causing Snowflake to go into hysterics in one of the most racist of intended comic moments that just ends up head shaking.

The only interesting lines go to June Clyde as a wise-cracking reporter nicknamed "Nosy" by Toomey who is simply just dreadful in this part. The film moves at a snail's pace for its extremely short running time, only coming to life when Clyde is on screen or in a rooftop chase in the finale. I've seen so many variations of this plot line that were better told, even in much later spoofs like "Murder By Death" and "Clue".

Society takes a step towards doin' the Uptown Lowdown., 16 September 2014
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Putting Patsy Kelly into an evening gown to make believe that she's a wealthy society matron is like trying to convince the rest of the world that New York City is just a sleepy little town. But that's what happens when her ex-husband's (Maxie Rosenbloom) agent (Roscoe Karns) learns that his heroic son Joseph Allen is coming to town. Karns convinces Kelly to pretend she is his wife, and much to his shock, Karns learns that his ex-wife (Joan Blair) is there as well. Much to his surprise, Kelly and Blair hit it off like gangbusters, with Blair sharing society tips and Kelly sharing lower class slang to each other's delight.

Young Allen hits it off with pretty Carol Hughes, the young woman Kelly hired to pretend to be her daughter, but all is threatened when the real house owner's snooty daughter (Lois Collier) shows up and threatens to spill the beans if she can't join in so she can make a play for Allen herself. This all culminates in a war bond fund raising party where practically every guest shows up as George and Martha Washington and each of the people in this group discovers who they really want to be with.

After writing the script for the previous Patsy Kelly PRC entry ("Danger! Women at Work!"), Edgar G. Ullmer became her director, one of the few comedies he did. In spite of the film's comic overtones, there is still a slight element of darkness hanging over the film, making it an interesting comedy with a unique perspective. The mansion set is pretty glamorous looking considering the film's "Z" grade status. Ulmer would create a cult following with such later unique low budget classics like "Bluebeard", "Detour" and "Ruthless", but his stamps is felt as well on this film, making it more unique than it would have been had he not been in front of the camera.

Snappy screenplay and a ton of zany characters make this a lot of fun., 16 September 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's obvious that this Z-grade programmer won't change women's lib any time soon, but for a bottom of the bill second feature, it sure is entertaining. The story focuses on three gal pals who start a trucking business after brassy Patsy Kelly receives an inheritance of a truck from a deceased relative. Of course, along with that come a lot of responsibilities, bills and laws to obey. Kelly and her two pals (Isabel Jewell and Mary Brian) get lots of flack for doing a man's job (even though this is during the middle of World War II and women are doing most men's jobs anyway), and while making a furniture delivery, are chased by highway patrolmen, accused of cheating some gamblers with loaded dice, and pick up three women along the way, each with a problem wackier than the one before.

Kelly, the short, slightly stout character comedienne, is actually quite attractive here, sporting a modern 40's hairdo similar to her real-life good pal Tallulah Bankhead's. Of course, her coarse personality isn't something you'd most likely welcome in high society, but she is extremely likable. Every moment she is on screen, you can't focus on anybody else, even the society matron suffering from amnesia, a psychic named Madame Sappho and a socialite running away from her wealthy father, a la "It Happened One Night". Cobina Wright Sr., Betty Compson and Wanda McKay play those parts amusingly. Rough and tough character actor Warren Hymer is amusing in his few scenes as Kelly's love interest, but this is mostly about the women and their crazy adventures on the road. Ironically, one of the writers of this comedy was none other than cult director Edgar G. Ullmer. Pretty good coming from a studio whose initials are often described as Pretty Rotten Cinema.

Taking Tom Drake from "The Boy Next Door" to a possible player of "Blind Man's Bluff"., 15 September 2014
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In "Meet Me in St. Louis", the boyishly handsome Tom Drake courted Judy Garland. Just 11 years later, he has aged a bit, and is in love with the womanly Beverly Garland. Is he also a brutal mother killer? Bill Elliott returns as the Hollywood detective who has his doubts, even with evidence pointing towards him. You see, his mother (discovered dead by asphyxiation in the very first scene) was the one responsible for his blindness, and Drake's nosy landlady (a very boisterous Minerva Urecal) gives Elliott the indication that his mother refused to use her medical insurance so Drake could have eye surgery to restore his sight. So the motive is there, but as clues are discovered, Elliott is unsure if the barely grieving son is the guilty party.

While there are elements of film noir here, they are not as heavy as the film series' first entry ("Dial Red O"), although the set-up is definitely dark. There's enough mystery to give multiple facets to the characters played by Drake and Garland so you really don't know what side of the law they are really on. To bring in a femme fatal character (played by the ironically named Helene Stanton, not to be confused with Helene Stanley from "Dial Red O") and a rather sleazy businessman (Lyle Talbot) also adds a few more elements of film noir, but this is more traditional than the first entry.

Dial Red O (1955)
He may be crazy, but he's not psycho., 15 September 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Keith Larsen is Ralph Wyatt, an emotionally exhausted soldier recovering from the war and from the news that his trampy wife (Helene Stanley) has just obtained a divorce. He manages to escape from the military mental hospital where he is recovering to confront her. No sooner has he arrived in the neighborhood where she lives then he's arrested for her murder, and protesting his innocence, he desperately tries to get out of his holding cell in the local jail. This familiar tale of adultery leading to murder has been told in many different ways, but this (the first of a short-lived series starring Bill Elliott as a tough Hollywood cop) is told with a very fascinating narrative.

While the "B" western star Elliott is top billed, it is Larsen's intense performance that draws center attention here. He adds touches of sanity and insanity to his characterization so you can understand why he is institutionalized, yet you know he knows reality from his frenzied brain. Stanley is fascinating as his trashy wife, amoral to the maximum, and determined to hold onto her married lover (a very good Paul Picerni) who just happens to be an old army buddy of Larsen's. Jack Kruschen is also excellent as the lascivious next door neighbor who makes his lust towards Stanley very clear even though they have no scenes together.

There are a lot of little details to keep an eye out for in this low-budget feature which is perhaps a bit too racy for 1955 television audiences, explaining its theatrical release. It is also obvious that Stanley is the one who seems to deserve to be in the mental institution more than her husband, and the scenes leading up to her demise are reminiscent of the 1980's sexual thriller explosion with films such as "Fatal Attraction" and the later "Basic Instinct". The cops here are presented as real human beings who take their jobs seriously, and are not the typical tough-talking movie law enforcement officers with muscles of steel yet brains of plastic.

All he wanted was some peace and quiet...., 11 September 2014
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In what essentially seems to be an extended version of a Three Stooges short, the three nuts work at Moe's cousin Jay Kirby's ranch. Actually, they disturb the peace more than they work, and when word gets out that a Broadway producer (Tim Ryan) is in the area on vacation, practically everybody who lives in the area is on his trail, determined to get an audition. Among them are singers Mary Beth Hughes (the pretty one) and Gladys Blake (the funny one) who end up in Kirby's ranch thanks to the machinations of the Stooges (tossing out his stuff which they consider junk!), creating even more chaos. Then, there's a visiting miner who is accused of being a rustler, as well as an instrumental group (The Hoosier Hotshots) who are just as wacky as the stooges.

Innocuous fun, this has moments of comedy that totally land, and then others that totally thud. The Three Stooges were much funnier when they were zanies on their own rather than involved in the romantic issues of others forced to deal with them. The songs are standard, and thus not memorable, and the specialties are all pretty silly. Veteran silent comic Snub Pollard has an amusing cameo as a barroom drunk.

There's good news and there's bad news...., 11 September 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The good news is for movie buffs who aren't necessarily fans of the Three Stooges; Their running time in this film is similar to the length of one of their shorts. The bad news is for Three Stooges fans expecting them to be the stars. They aren't. And for me, it's the first. The good news for both parties is that what they do here is more than tolerable for the non-fans and obviously some of their funniest gags, which is also good news for their fans who might be disappointed by their lack of screen time.

The plot surrounds three partners in a talent agency who disagree about how the business should be run and the interest of agent Richard Lane (in control of the business end) in fickle singer Rosemary Lane. She leaves the business to become the wife of a wealthy man and upon her divorce, aspires to return, making Lane think that they have a future together. This brings conflict because the other partners Rudy Vallee (in control of the artistic end) and Allen Jenkins (the unofficial "silent partner") find her unreliable. They find a genuine talent in Rosemary's perky maid (a very young Ann Miller) and the more reliable singer Joan Merrill (as herself) and try to get Richard to see the truth. But as she continues to play passive/aggressive games with him, Richard gets more caught in her seemingly innocent web and the partners have another falling out which can only be resolved by Vallee and Jenkins putting a big show on in Richard's nightclub where the Stooges, who have been interrupting things periodically throughout the film, finally get their big break, and like Ruby Keeler in "42nd Street", Miller gets to show off her tap dancing skills to an appreciative audience.

In a reverse plot twist similar to "Kiss Me Kate", the Stooges hold Rosemary hostage so she can't go on, much like the gangsters in "Kiss Me Kate" did to ensure that the leading diva would go on. The Stooges are first seen performing a knife throwing act (with Curley practically blind and creating all sorts of havoc as he trips all over a nightclub setting) while the future "Sugar Baby" is first seen, legs only, tapping out on a balcony. Joan Merrill does most of the singing, with Miller providing the dance, including a number with Jenkins. As for Rosemary Lane, her character isn't the bitch of usual such roles (like Bebe Daniels in "42nd Street" and sister Lola Lane's in "Hollywood Hotel"), but quietly selfish and subtly manipulative. Miller is sweet and likable, and while you long for her to confront her former employer towards the end, she remains every inch the lady. Perennial T.V. sitcom guest-star Elvia Allman and Blanche Stewart are hysterically funny as the man-crazy secretaries in the agency.

The songs by Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin are enjoyable, if not classics, and are given a bit more rhythm by the presence of Six Hits and a Miss. "The Boogie Woogie Man" has some neat photographic effects (similar to Miller's later "I Gotta Hear That Beat" from "Small Town Girl"). I would have to rank this as the highlight of the Three Stooges Collection released from Millcreek Video, and hope that they continue to release some rarely seen classics that are sleepers seldom seen except by devoted collectors.

How Green Was My San Fernando Valley?, 10 September 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Take a burly Irishman with a sense of fun but a hot temper and toss him in with some Mexican Americans in the early days of the San Fernando Valley, and you've got enough macho tension to change the course of their ruthless government. Donald Woods is fiery and in love with sweet Gloria Warren (an obvious Caucasian playing a Mexican senorita). She is coveted by the ruthless head of the San Fernando Valley who has vowed to keep strangers from getting in and the residents from getting out. (How Woods got in is never explained.) Anthony Warde is Juan Mendoza, the ruthless head of the valley who announces his engagement to the shocked Warren at a valley fiesta. Shirley O'Hara (another typical Spanish name) is Nita, the hot-tempered castanet clicking femme fatal with designs on both Woods and Warde who is another equivalent of the type of roles Myrna Loy played early in her career and that Rita Moreno would be typecast in when she first made her film debut.

The film starts off rather slowly, showing the supposedly happy country folk at their daily work, living without fear until Warde shows up to express his interest in Warren. Everything explodes into exciting action once Woods makes his objections to Warde's claims, basically beating the macho Mexican into a pulp and writing his death sentence. Then, the chase is on, and two goals are established. Warde wants to see Woods cut down like a bull in the ring, and Woods is determined to bring peace to the land and win the lovely Warren back so the bells of San Fernando can finally ring in harmony. It's all entertaining, if simple drama, but it is done so well in spite of the miscasting of obvious white folks in Mexican/Spanish roles. Byron Foulger is good as the local priest who is sort of a Friar Tuck to Woods' obvious Robin Hood.


Page 1 of 206:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [Next]