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gridoon2014

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1451 reviews in total 
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Almost excellent, 25 December 2013
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One of the better episodes of the "Marple" series, "The Blue Geranium" is well-made, beautifully photographed and scored, very well-acted by a large ensemble cast (who make their characters feel like real people), and overall compulsively watchable. The story contains a lot of little mysteries, and one big mystery that's truly baffling but gets an ingenious solution which makes especially good use of Agatha Christie's expertise on chemistry and pharmacology. However, and this may be my only notable reservation about this episode, the courtroom climax is just a bit too rushed, as Miss Marple (the excellent Julia McKenzie) wraps up the entire (complicated) case in under 8 minutes. On the whole, Season 5 (which also includes "The Secret Of Chimneys", "The Mirror Crack'd From Side To Side" and "The Pale Horse") is possibly the finest of this series so far. *** out of 4.

A slight improvement over the older version, 23 December 2013
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In comparison to the older TV version of the same Agatha Christie book, which was made in 1997 and which I also watched just a couple of days ago, this one boasts superior production values and generally better casting, but it still can't overcome the main problem with this story: the fact that anyone even vaguely familiar with Agatha Christie's motifs will know instinctively that the entire Pale Horse - modern witches section of the plot is merely one big red herring, as anything involving the supernatural almost always is with Christie. Elsewhere, however, this film can surprise the unsuspecting viewer, especially since the character who turned out to be "the man behind the curtain" of the entire diabolical operation in the previous version does not exist in this version at all! I'm assuming the older version was more faithful to the original text, however the essentials of the story can be located in this version as well. Julia McKenzie is an ideal Miss Marple, and I particularly liked the police inspector of this episode: he starts out like most of the others ("Don't interfere, Miss Marple, this is a police matter"), but he quickly realizes how beneficial it would be for him if he worked with her and not against her, so he treats her like an unofficial partner. **1/2 out of 4.

The Pale Horse (1997) (TV)
Neither one of the best nor one of the worst Agatha Christie films...., 21 December 2013
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The leads in movies based on Agatha Christie books should not wear leather jackets, like Colin Buchanan does for about 80% of the time in "The Pale Horse". It gives the movie a too-contemporary feel. It's officially set in the mid-1960s, but it seems to exist more in an unspecific time zone between the 1960s and the 1990s. The other problem with this story is that, for anyone even vaguely familiar with Christie's gimmicks, the entire "satanic witches" section of the plot is one giant transparent red herring, as the deaths that occur have of course a much more practical, factual explanation. The cast is adequate, Jayne Ashbourne as Kate is certainly very cute and likable. ** out of 4.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Solid most of the way, but loses its focus towards the end, 17 December 2013
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

While it's not the equal of its predecessor, "The Ipcress File", "Funeral In Berlin" is still a must-see for Michael Caine fans as well as old-school spy movie fans. Berlin (and London) on-location shooting, Otto Heller's expert cinematography and Konrad Elfers' classic score give the film just the right look and feel of authenticity, while Michael Caine's dry wit is at its highest ("Escaped? They probably paid him to leave!"). However, the last half-hour is not as riveting as the rest of the film, as it switches focus from the main plot of a Russian colonel who wants to defect to the West to the less interesting plot of an ex-Nazi war criminal with an enormous Swiss bank account that everyone wants to get their hands on. In my opinion, that switch is the reason "Funeral In Berlin" is not quite as good as "The Ipcress File". **1/2 out of 4.

Incredibly boring spy movie, 15 December 2013
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Residence For Spies" is one of the dullest spy films of the 1960s I've seen so far. Lots of (meaningless) talk and wandering around Istanbul, but very little action. What action there is, has to accommodate the fact that leading man Eddie Constantine is at least a decade too old for the kind of two-fisted lady-killer he plays here (women half his age can't keep their hands off him). Diana Lorys, who has a magically exotic face and a thick, curvy body, encapsulates the female glamour and beauty of the 1960s, but her role is largely irrelevant to the plot. Much tamer than you'd expect from a Jess Franco movie, even an early one, it does at least display colorful cinematography, scenic Istanbul locations and some pretty female legs. But it's just SO boring. * out of 4.

Witty and surprising, though a bit overcrowded, comedy-mystery, 13 December 2013
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The same year (1936) he played Philo Vance in MGM's "The Garden Murder Case", Edmund Lowe starred in this witty spoof of the entire "debonair super sleuth" genre, which is co-written by a woman, Florence Ryerson (the same woman who wrote another MGM Philo Vance entry, "The Casino Murder Case", one year earlier), and co-stars the obscure today Elissa Landi as a female writer of popular mystery books. Lowe and Landi seem perfectly in tune with each other and with the irreverent spirit of the film - they make a good pair. The film has an unusually strong supporting cast, however you might say it feels a bit overcrowded at times, as neither Zasu Pitts not Ted Healy have roles that are a) essential to the plot (even as red herrings), and b) particularly funny (Healy's sidekick does have the funniest scene in the film, though: the one with the wristwatches). Also, although most of the film is set on a ship, it never really creates the illusion that the ship is actually travelling. But the ending is very surprising - perhaps it can also be taken as a clever satire on one of the oldest clichés in the mystery genre. **1/2 out of 4.

Substandard spy film, 10 December 2013
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Audie Murphy was apparently a popular Western star, but he makes for a pretty boring spy lead in "Trunk To Cairo" (he probably felt a little out-of-place as well; I think this was his only attempt at the genre). The action scenes are few and amateurish, though I will give Murphy credit for doing most of his own stunts. George Sanders is pretty much wasted as the brilliant yet naive scientist that the Egyptians have contracted to build a nuclear missile; Marianne Koch is his lovely daughter, but she also has little to do. The location shooting in Egypt and, unexpectedly, Rome, and the folkloric music score, are the film's only real assets; in fact, the Rome footage near the end is what pushed my rating up by half a star, to ** out of 4.

High-grade mystery, despite an arguably miscast Philo Vance, 8 December 2013
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Leave it to MGM to make an "A" production out of a genre that most other studios at the time treated as "B" stuff. A complicated mystery that keeps you in the dark but plays fair with the attentive viewer, an above-average cast (Isabel Jewell is especially memorable), and some clever jabs at the "long-winded" speech patterns of Vance himself make this one of the best films featuring this fictional detective that I've seen. It's true that Paul Lukas' rather heavy foreign accent makes him an odd choice for the role of Philo Vance, but his performance is otherwise quite good, and combined with the film's other strengths, that's enough to overcome this particular handicap. *** out of 4.

Probably the film that killed the career of the Ritz Brothers as a screen team...., 6 December 2013
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

....and you'll know why if you see it. Poor script, poor comedic material for the Ritz Brothers (with the occasional good line), poor production values. In the same year's "Never A Dull Moment", the Ritzes were backed up by a strong supporting cast, and there was at least one show-stopping number by a specialty dancing team. In "Hi'ya Chum" the supporting cast is just fair (with the exception of Robert Paige, who is simply dull), the songs are forgettable, and there are no real production numbers; near the end we are promised the arrival of "20 glamorous, beautiful showgirls" and are invited to "dance with them", but only a few of them appear, and they never dance. The entire film feels like a thrown-together quickie. *1/2 out of 4.

Don't miss the Rogers Dancers, 4 December 2013
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Ritz Brothers may be an acquired taste, but if you have acquired that taste you'll probably find them fairly funny in "Never A Dull Moment: they have lots of crazy routines, throwaway lines, and two deliberately nonsensical musical numbers. They play three out-of work show-biz entertainers who are mistaken for gangsters and are employed by a corrupt nightclub boss to help with the theft of the priceless diamond necklace of a wealthy woman who is organizing a party at the club to celebrate the engagement of her son to the club's leading female singer. The most notable supporting players are the eternal villain George Zucco as (of course) the villain, and Mary Beth Hughes as a lightning-fast pickpocket. Frances Langford sings two songs, Grace Poggi (who has a great body) and Igor dance, but the absolute highlight of the film is a long dance-and-comedy number by an unknown to me trio (two men and one woman) introduced as The Rogers Dancers - it is an amazingly acrobatic, jaw-dropping human feat. Even if you don't like the Ritzes, try to see this number at least. **1/2 out of 4.


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