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3758 reviews in total 
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Funny Bunnyfinch, 1 April 2016

When husband John Bunny is late to come home, wife Flora Finch imagines he is up to no good. Hoping to discover the worst, she disguises herself as a man and invites Bunny to a night on the town. Bunny realizes what's going on in this very funny example of the comedy couple's series of comedies, which you can watch in a fine tinted print on the Eye Institute site on YouTube.

There are some delightfully overplayed bits here. The debauchery that Finch imagines for her wandering husband is almost DeMillian in its decently-dressed decorum, and MIss Finch in evening clothes moves in a way that suggests Groucho Marx to me. Although Vitagraph's comedies in this period were more situation comedies than the better- remembered Keystones, this one will leave you in no doubt as to why they were so popular.

From Split Reel to Feature, 1 April 2016

John Cumpson wants to go out for a night on the town with his friend, but his wife won't let him. He fakes a telegram calling him to a funeral. When his wife finds out...

It's a very amusing split reel comedy from IMP (the precursor of Universal Pictures) that you can see for yourself on YouTube at the Eye Institute site. If you think you already know it, it may be that you have, or that you have seen the story used several times. It's best remembered as the plot for Laurel & Hardy's SONS OF THE DESERT. In this version, the tubby Cumpson is paired with the skinny Hayward Mack as the friend and Anne Taylor as the overbearing wife.

There is some nice elaboration, but the split reel length makes this version rather telegraphic. Still, it's interesting to see how a story like this evolves with the increasing length of movies.

They Grow Up While You're Not Looking, 31 March 2016

Clara Kimball Young is a hoydenish tomboy, who improperly instructs neighbor Eddie Lincoln on how to whistle through fingers. When aunt Julia Swayne Gordon -- this actress had reached the advanced age of 34 when this movie was released, fit only for matronly roles -- locks her up. She runs off.

there are some pleasant shots of suburban Brooklyn in the middle parts. Vitagraph's studio was in the Flatbush section. INdeed, the facilities were in use through the start of the 21st century as a TV studio, where Bill Vosby and soap operas were shot for the small screen.

MIss Young -- we when this movie came out -- looks to be having a grand time opposite the aged Miss Gordon, and Flora Finch as the maid. It's an amusing little trifle and if you wish to see it, a good print with some nice tinting is available on YouTube at the Eye Institute site

How to Make Friends, 24 March 2016

James Morrisson goes off to Yale. AS a lowly freshman, he is hazed by his fellow scholars. Then his parents come to visit him and bring along his sister, beautiful Beatrice Behrman. Suddenly, Morrisson is the most popular man on campus.

This Vitagraph one-reeler can be seen on the Eye site on YouTube, albeit with Dutch titles. It is not particularly good, given how little there is in this one-Ike comedy, although the well-run studio has all its technical issues well in hand, with elaborate set dressing that bespeaks the essentially middle-class ranking of its characters, as well as fine outdoor settings.

Although not a very good movie, it is a valuable example of what was going on at the Vitagraph Studio in the last few years of all-short-subject movie programs.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Redemption, 22 March 2016

When brilliant intern Donald Woods covers up for foster brother Gordon Oliver one last time, he is kicked out of medicine and has to make his way back into the profession as a male nurse at a free clinic, where he performs an illegal operation and is found guilty of manslaughter.

This Warner B looks like it was produced as a substitute for MGM's first Doctor Kildare movie, INTERNS CAN'T TAKE MONEY. It is, alas, not very well done, with stiff acting, tired lines like "Brain surgery is important" and a plethora of hackneyed medical movie tropes.

Perhaps if this had been expanded to fill an A movie slot, it might be more interesting and less telegraphic than it is at 57 minutes. However, had that been the case, it would have had a better director than perennial B header William Clemens.

Man Hunt (1936)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Not the Fritz Lang Movie, 22 March 2016

When vicious bank robber Ricardo Cortez is spotted in tiny Coasterville, a man hunt ensues, offering important opportunities for local reporter William Gargantuan, old-timer Chic Sales and fired school marm Marguerite Churchill

This so-so Warner B plays to its principals' strengths, particularly Ricardo Cortez, who gives a nicely varied performance. However, while the production values are fine, The message that big town folks are phony and small town people know how to get the job done, gets particularly annoying whenever Sales is doing his old coot act. DP Joseph Ruttenberg offers his usual impeccable lighting, operating with a low key instead of his usual glossy look. However the story wears thin soon enough with a story that had been done before and with little to offer in the way of individual insight.

Revenge on the People Who Liked The First One, 20 March 2016

I had some time to kill this morning and there was nothing on the DVR, so I decided to see this movie, a sequel to the one that demonstrated that Nicholas Cage's performance can be improved by replacing his head with a flaming skull. Who says that CGI is worthless?

In this one, Nick plays the scenes with his own face like an alky who has just woken with the shakes, because he has regrets over being a monster. Violante Placido plays the unmentionable love interest. She was raped by the Devil and gave birth to his son because you know what schmucks male-dominated governments are. They won't let you get an abortion even when you've been raped by the Devil, even though that happens all the time; plus Mother Love and an enormous rack. Idris Elba plays a monk with a Russian accent. Did he get rejected for the role of Rasputin by some racist producer and he's going to show them?

Anyway, the story, such as it is, involves a lot of CGI fighting and fire and Miss Placido crawling on the ground so that her breasts hang down and look even larger. Apparently this was too difficult for one director, so they used two, but to make up for that, they only get one name each.

I forgive Mr. Elba, because he is a British actor, and they don't turn down work. I suspect he shot his role when it turned out he had a week before playing Puss in Boots in a Christmas panto. Besides, he has since appeared in another LUTHER.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The Only Man-Eaters Are the Cats, 16 March 2016

When lion-tamer Barton MacLane loses a leg and his assistant to one of his big cats, he takes June Travis, the assistant's daughter, under his wing. She marries him out of gratitude, but all too soon she falls in love with Warren Hull. Everyone tries to do this decent thing, but....

Barton MacLane plays a role that would have gone to Lon Chaney at MGM or George Bancroft at Fox in their heydays. His big, burly, loud performance is just fine for the Bs, but despite some real acting chops, there was no place for him as a leading man, even in the Warner B movies. He retreated to supporting roles, like his turn in HIGH SIERRA and prospered for decades.

Although everyone gives their best, the obvious process shots and stunt doubles renders this a mediocre B picture. The big fire scene may hold some excitement, but by this point in the movie, all the obvious camera fakery had washed away any residuum of interest for me.

Wise Owl (1940)
Harpo, 13 March 2016

When the green-hued bats return to their cavern to play the pipe organ and dance their hellish dance, a starving owl spots them and tries to trick them into becoming his dinner in this Columbia Color Rhapsody cartoon directed by Ub Iwerks.

Iwerks had been floundering a a cartoon producer since 1935, when Pat Powers and Metro had pulled the rug out from under him. A likewise, with Charles Mintz dead, Columbia was looking for a reliable producer for their cartoons. Alas, something went wrong. Columbia would go through several more regimes before settling on UPA, and Iwerks would return to Disney, where he busied himself for the rest of his life working on technical issues.

In the meantime, this is a good, if derivative cartoon, borrowing from Iwerks work on SKELETON DANCE and Harpo Marx, both for the owl's initial look and one gag. It's nicely done, but perhaps its lack of originality indicates that Iwerks didn't have what it took for the top spot.

Who Needs Words?, 13 March 2016

Two men are released from prison. One gets a job; the other, with his jailbird reputation, winds up stealing and getting caught. However, character is what you do when under stress....

The casual modern viewer will notice overacting, even by the style of the era. What may go unobserved is the perfection of the pantomime story-telling. There's not a title after the beginning, yet this liberal tale of forgiveness proceeds apace. Part of this is the simplicity of the plot. The other is the excellence of the cast, which includes Alicd Joyce, whose starring career would extend into the sound era, and two future directors: J.P. McGowan, who would prosper in action and westerns, and George Melford, who would be one of the leading visual stylists of American cinema.

The movie could afford a bit of trimming. It runs a trifle slowly at times. It does, however, get the job done.

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