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gridoon2014

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1495 reviews in total 
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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Entertaining but ultimately disappointing, 9 February 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What's most entertaining about "The Big Four" is that Hercule Poirot has to solve not merely one or two, but a series of puzzling enigmas, and he does so in his own unique style. Peter Lydon's direction is also quite inventive. But there are also several disappointments here: the ultimate revelation about the Big Four trivializes what was setting up to be a great spy mystery, the climax, set in an empty theater, resembles too closely the denouement of a very recent episode (one from the previous season, in fact), "Three Act Tragedy", and the much-hyped return of "the old gang" (Hastings, Japp and Miss Lemon) does not live up to the hype, as Hastings and Miss Lemon have little more than walk-throughs, and only Japp (now an Assistant Commissioner) gets a meaty part; Poirot also plays an atypically cruel trick on his dearest friends. Finally, I would have preferred it if they had cut down the role of the newspaper reporter to give more time to the reunion of Poirot with his friends; when it finally does happen....the episode is over, just like that. **1/2 out of 4.

2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Very well done, 6 February 2014
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This new TV version of one of the most atypical Agatha Christie tales (there was a previous film version made in 1971, also recommended viewing) is appropriately threatening, sinister, deceptive, and tragic. The pacing can admittedly get slow, but that's because there is more psychological depth here (as well as in the older version) than usual for an Agatha Christie story, and the use of first-person narration is extremely effective. Yes, Miss Marple seems completely extraneous to the story at first, but ultimately I think she was used quite strategically: she appears only occasionally for the most part to collect information, and she steps forward only at the end, when she's necessary for the exposure of the criminal elements. The two leads are fine, though perhaps not quite as good as Hywel Bennett and Hayley Mills in the 1971 version; Jessica Biel-lookalike Birgitte Hjort Sørensen is stunning as the "Valkyrie" Greta. *** out of 4.

Uneven, 4 February 2014
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The last of the eight theatrical features produced out of the "Man From U.N.C.L.E" TV series, "How To Steal The World" has some unusually (God) complex villains, some intelligent dialogue ("You pursue a merciful ideal....mercilessly"), and some thought-provoking ideas, but it suffers from a plodding pace, some technical faults in a few of the action scenes, certain not very well-explained parts of the ambitious plot (just how do they plan to make sure that every last person on earth inhales the "docility gas"?), and the sensation that the two leads, Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, do not seem to be fully engaged to the proceedings; there is hardly any of their customary byplay. ** out of 4.

6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Almost impeccable, 2 February 2014
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Dead Man's Folly" is the first of the five movies comprising the final season of "Poirot" that I decided to watch as soon as I unwrapped the DVD box, because it is also the only one of the five stories that I am already familiar with (from both reading the book and watching the more humorous 1986 TV version with Peter Ustinov). As I remembered (not every detail but) quite clearly "who-done-it", I cannot comment on how surprising a viewer coming "fresh" to this story will find the resolution. Probably quite a bit, unless they suspect something in the scene where George speaks to his wife from the window but we only see him and not her. It has become almost rudimentary to praise the production values and the acting of this series, but "Dead Man's Folly" has something extra special to offer: it is shot at and around one of Agatha Christie's actual houses in Devon, and the locations are simply marvelous. David Suchet has a great little moment when he "fixes" his mustache in front of a mirror, as a few notes of the "old" music score can be heard (hey, if you're more nostalgic for it - and I am - you can listen to it endlessly on the DVD menu screen!). Of the supporting cast, the two I liked the most are Zoë Wanamaker as Ariadne Oliver (her interaction with Poirot is highly enjoyable; he is less condescending to her than he can sometimes be to Hastings), and Emma Hamilton, who makes a witty Sally Legge (and is, in my opinion, more beautiful than her co-star Stephanie Leonidas). I would have liked, however, to see the "murder hunt" organized by Mrs. Oliver play a more active part in the plot. *** out of 4.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Slick but fairly obvious whodunit, 30 January 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Of the three young actresses I've seen so far in the role of Sarah Keate / Sally Keating, Marguerite Churchill is my favorite (Kay Linaker and Ann Sheridan were the other two). She makes the most inquisitive and intelligent nurse, and she actually solves the case herself (of course this has more to do with the writers, who made the - amateur or professional - detective of the other films a man). This entire film is well-produced and very well-acted. There is just one small problem: the big mystery is quite obvious. Anybody who has seen more than five murder mysteries in his or her life will recognize the significance of the mail plane, and as soon as you've done that, you'll also know which of the suspects has a totally fake alibi. Any surprises in the film are minor - e.g., who moved the dead body from the study into the library. "Murder By An Aristocrat" is still worth seeing, but for a knockout surprise ending, search for "The Great Hospital Mystery" (which had an older Keate) instead. **1/2 out of 4.

Not great, but pretty good, 28 January 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Sarah Keate films can perhaps only with a fair amount of leniency be classified as parts of the same series (the main character has a variety of different names, ages, professional positions, etc., and is played by a variety of actresses), but "The Great Hospital Mystery" is one of the better ones. Here, Keate is named Keats and she is plump, middle-aged, sharp-minded, and sharp-tongued; she's a lot like Hildegarde Withers, and Jane Darwell is perfectly cast in the part (her best lines: "The doctor wants to operate on 707" - "Too bad for 707" - "But he's not sick" - "He will be!"). Sally Blane, looking a lot like her sister Loretta Young, is sweet, Joan Davis is a funny and talented comedienne, the male parts (the good guy doctor, the officious chief of staff, the loudmouthed police inspector) are also well cast, but the best performance of all is given by the prolific William Demarest as a hypochondriac patient. He is simply masterful. The mystery is clever, while the production is clearly "B", but serviceable. **1/2 out of 4.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Above-average period adventure...., 26 January 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

....set in mid-1800's, post-Revolution France. It boasts beautiful "SuperCineColor" photography (even in the rather faded print I watched), a politically loaded script that's still extremely timely, and, unusually for its time (1951), a woman heroine: a high-society lady who has a second, secret identity: that of a masked vigilante determined to raise a rebellion against the totalitarian state imposed by the emperor's power-crazy half-brother. The heroine's black costume and mask probably made it easy for the filmmakers to double Paula Corday for the more demanding physical stuff; nonetheless, her performance is spirited, and not only does she get to participate in the climactic fight sequence - she gets to run her sword through the second most important villain of the film as well. Pretty impressive. **1/2 out of 4.

Talky, minor-league whodunit, 25 January 2014
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

OK, after three movies with Sarah Keate / Sally Keating, I'm beginning to learn my lesson: once again, and despite sources indicating otherwise, the nurse does practically no mystery sleuthing herself; this time, she's the head nurse at a small private hospital, and the detective duties are handled (just like in the same year's "Mystery House") by her boyfriend, professional private investigator Lance O'Leary. He's played by Patric Knowles this time, in a more flippant manner than Dick Purcell's in "Mystery House"; as a matter of fact, this entire film contains more comedy than the other two films in the "series" I've seen so far. His summation of the case at the end effectively delays the naming of the culprit, though one plot twist is quite outrageous (especially the fact that only 2 people were in on it). A biggest mystery than those presented within this film: whatever happened to Jean Benedict? IMDb clearly has her date of birth wrong (no way she was 61 in 1938!), and she has very few credits. She was one seriously sexy scene-stealer in "The Patient In Room 18". ** out of 4.

Mostly murky mystery, 24 January 2014
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Mystery House" is another film with Sarah Keate / Sally Keating where the nurse (here working privately, in the service of a grouchy old lady in a wheelchair) is involved in a murder mystery but, just like in "The Murder Of Dr. Harrigan", does no amateur sleuthing herself, as I had been led to believe; the detective duties are handled by a professional in the field, her private investigator boyfriend. The film is notable for a clever solution to its "locked-room" puzzle, but the supporting characters are played by largely unknown or forgotten today actors, and it's difficult to tell some of them apart; three of the men look almost exactly alike! Despite an ideal setting (an isolated and snowbound hunter's lodge), "Mystery House" is a middle-of-the-road entry in the genre. ** out of 4.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Well-done B mystery, 21 January 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was under the impression that "The Murder Of Dr. Harrigan" is part of a movie series made in the 1930s about a nurse (played by a variety of actresses; Kay Linaker this time) who doubles as an amateur sleuth. However, the nurse does very little sleuthing here - it's her boyfriend (and doctor working at the same hospital) who figures out the how and the why of the murder(s), if not quite the who. Anyway, this B mystery is a little lacking in star power (Mary Astor is probably the most famous name in the cast, and she only has a secondary part), but the plot is engaging (it involves a variety of characters, each with his or her own agenda) and the pace is reasonably smooth considering that about 90% of the film takes place in a single set (the hospital). Worth watching. **1/2 out of 4.


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