Reviews written by registered user
|3646 reviews in total|
The central role in this low-budget crime melodrama really belongs to
KAY FRANCIS, and she makes her lady doctor pretty believable. But it's
HUMPHREY BOGART who walks off with the show, which is no more than a
programmer made on the cheap, by playing up the comic elements of his
Bogart is an illiterate man who wants his "genius" to be known. He kidnaps a man (James Stephenson) with a reputation as a writer in order to tell him his life story and make him the "king of the underworld." But Kay Francis spoils all his plans when she has to prove herself innocent of criminal charges pending against her due to a prior event. She fools the hoods into believing they will go blind if they don't let her help them.
The story has several implausible script problems and never really comes off as credible. Interesting only to see that Bogart was far more worthy of his early material than the studio realized. And Kay Francis has one of her more believable roles in this crime melodrama.
And most of them belong to Dwight Frye as the town idiot who
specializes in cuddling bats--much to the horror of the village
However, the filming is on a very primitive scale. Sets and costumes have the proper Gothic mood but the production is obviously a cheapie made in a hurry to capitalize on other films featuring Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray which were decidedly more polished.
Melvyn Douglas, looking very youthful, is studying the case and can't figure out who the real culprit is. By this time, the audience can guess that it's "the one you'd least suspect."
Summing up: Watchable as a primitive horror film from Majestic Studio with a reasonably good cast. Has the necessary ingredients for classic horror films of this era.
Surprised I am that some reviewers here really liked this overwrought
melodrama about the tobacco industry and one man's rise to power
because he has the vision to see how cigarettes could come from
Gary Cooper has the most unsympathetic role of his career as a stormy man caught between conflicted love with two women--Patricia Neal, headstrong and rich, and Lauren Bacall, the madam of a brothel. There's a suggestion of GWTW in these characters, but too much of the dialog resorts to confrontational moments that are never resolved.
Most of the hatred comes from Patricia Neal's dad, Donald Crisp, who from the very start of the film wishes Gary Cooper would drop dead. It takes up too much of the film with the love/hate relationships between Cooper, Neal and Bacall getting the most footage.
But in the end, with these unsympathetic characters chewing up the scenery with all their vitriol, the overall feeling is a waste of time. None of the relationships evolve smoothly, not even at the conclusion.
Summing up: No wonder the film is so little known today. The saving grace is an interesting score by Victor Young.
If you like RUTH ROMAN and STERLING HAYDEN, you may find this little
espionage yarn bearable enough to watch. It starts out promisingly and
you wonder how these two misfits will finally trust each other enough
to get married.
But the plot is a shambles, murky without being fascinating and all the motivations are unclear from beginning to end. Roman's role is very underwritten so we never really know what makes her tick. Sterling Hayden gives one of his routine performances without any special feeling to make us care enough about his character.
Unfortunately, I couldn't stay with it until the end but will have to catch it some other time to find out where the story eventually led. As of now, it's a puzzlement.
Frankly, it appears that mine is a minority opinion. My own favorite
story of a lonely woman is SUMMERTIME with Katharine Hepburn which had
a lot more flavor as well as a genuinely entertaining and moving story.
However, RACHEL, RACHEL drags along at an interminably slow pace with many close-ups of star Joanne Woodward as she reflects on the emptiness of her dull, spinisterish life in a small town. And the script provides no scenes that give us any real hope that things have changed for her by the time we get to the fantasized ending. Most of the scenes are played too long to hold viewer interest.
As a result, I found it tedious and somewhat boring at times because nothing of real interest seemed to happen, except in a few flashbacks showing the effect her disturbing childhood had on her upbringing.
The acting is competent but I never found the story involving enough to care about the fate of the main character or the few supporting characters for that matter. It fails completely to be anything but a character study of a lonely teacher without the needed dramatic power to make us feel her suffering.
What really weakens what could have been a good narrative is the
attempt to insert light hearted comic elements into the plot of PACIFIC
RENDEZVOUS. Instead of playing it as straight drama, what could have
emerged as a timely romantic drama about breaking the Japanese code
during WWII becomes a trivial piece of fluff with an absurd spotlight
on the silly character played by Jean Rogers.
She's the girlfriend of our hero (Lee Bowman) and does him no favors when it comes to helping the war effort crack the code. For sheer stupidity (and to make her character seem "cute" at all times), she slips dozens of sleeping pills in his coffee so he can get some rest from a heavy schedule of solving the code and ignoring her.
And throughout the movie she pouts, bounces around and shows jealousy of any other female who pursues Bowman, as for example female spy Mona Maris. Her acting is dreadful enough to bring the story down to the level of irritating fluff where it remains until the final reel.
An interesting cast headed by Lee Bowman, Russell Hicks, Mona Maris, Carl Esmond, Hans Conreid, Curt Bois and several other good players is defeated by a silly script which reduces the whole thing to a B-budget MGM programmer which played the lower half of double features in the '40s.
The only ingredient missing here is a Fox budget that would have
provided Technicolor photography as a part of the film's lush
production values. However, even without three-strip Technicolor, this
B&W version of the famous legendary outlaw is acted to perfection by
the entire cast.
Tyrone Power goes with great ease from the fop to the swashbuckler Zorro, all the while displaying a great deal of charm and good looks. The romantic role of "the girl" goes to Linda Darnell who is more than adequate in the looks department herself.
In the chapel scene and "The White Sombrero" dance routine they have a chance to show the kind of sparks that made them popular movie stars of the '40s. Linda was just about to break out of her virginal roles and about to play more tempestuous heroines, but she does an excellent job as Power's love interest.
Basil Rathbone is at his finest for the final dueling scene, surely even more robustly performed than the one he shared with Errol Flynn in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD--and that's really saying something. Power seems to be evenly matched with Rathbone in his skilled swordsmanship.
Alfred Newman's fitting pseudo-Spanish background music provides just the right amount of excitement to make this a most entertaining show. And the supporting cast--including Gale Sondergaard, J. Edgar Bromberg, Eugene Palette, Montagu Love, Janet Beecher and others is excellent.
By all means worth watching anytime for sheer entertainment.
Loretta Young and Ray Milland aren't to blame for the weak and tedious
script which keeps piling one mishap after another in an attempt to
qualify as a smart screwball comedy.
Suspension of disbelief was not possible for me, especially for the sequence that has Milland running back and forth during a cocktail party to keep his fiancé from learning Loretta Young is in his apartment. Milland handles the bit with deft touches, but the improbability is too apparent even for a screwball comedy.
And Gail Patrick overdoes her "cutesy" act as his moronic girlfriend. Even Reginald Gardiner and Edmund Gwenn are unable to overcome some awkward comic moments.
Milland and Young do the best they can with the formula script, but the end results are meager with the film straining for a few genuine laughs. Furthermore, Young's character is too sarcastic to be likable for the first part of the story, but of course softens for the happy ending.
Only afterward did I realize this must have been inspired by the
screwball farce ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, but the script, unfortunately,
lacks the comic finesse and wit of that film. This might have looked
good on paper--take an old, crumbling Colonial inn, have a woman
purchase it, fill it with odd characters and a mysterious doctor who
keeps his secrets in a cellar, and lo and behold you've got another
Alas, none of the humor is even remotely adult. You almost expect the Three Stooges to show up at any moment. Instead, we have Larry Parks show up to play the only slightly sane character in the cast. The sprightly Jeff Donnell is his ditsy ex-wife and she manages to keep her poise while playing the comedy with a few deft touches of her own.
Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre do what they can to inject some vitality and humor into a witless script but everything is so overdone that by the time Maxie Rosenbloom shows up I had to throw in the towel. Too much for me.
Summing up: Unless you don't mind the sophomoric humor, watch it at your own peril.
The "6" rating is only because Mario Lanza gets to sing a good number
of worthwhile songs as only he can. But I could have done without his
impersonation scene where he makes fun of popular Italian crooners like
Perry Como and Dean Martin.
The story is so flat and unconvincing that it's hardly worth a mention. It's sufficient to say that you can forget it while enjoying abundant glimpses of Rome's landmarks and terrain, all nicely photographed in Technicolor.
Lanza was beginning to look heavier than usual but his voice is still able to belt out a mixture of operatic arias and pop tunes. The film itself is not an "essential," even for Lanza fans because the script is an uninspired bit of tedium. Just sit back and enjoy the scenery.
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