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Shadows on the Stairs (1941)
A pleasant stage play-turned-movie from the 40s
Keeping in mind that this movie is totally American and the UK had been at war for quite a while, most people everywhere were looking for something to enjoy and smile about. Those who critique this movie as lacking some action/adventurous mystery just don't understand the feelings and thoughts of the early 1940s when the US would be facing Pearl Harbor in just 9 months from this release. And for the Warner Bros. to send a kind and light-hearted film to the UK when they were facing bombs and death was a good thing. Some of the critiques here went as far as criticizing the actors - all of whom did their jobs very well. But then I'm familiar with those who think they know more than they actually do know. The bumbling police, the silly portrayal of the women were all designed in the story to bring that light-heartiness to the viewer. I'm surprised there wasn't a cute Scottish Terrier running around. So if you like a Light movie without the blood and guts as some people here wished to have seen, this is a pleasant stage play turned into a cute movie for a hour's time.
Charlie Chan in London (1934)
A serious, for once, Chan movie.
I was quite surprised. Most of the Chan movies are filled with comedy relief stretched far beyond the need. The absence of "No. 1 Son" and Chan's chauffeur gave more weight to the mystery rather than appealing to the Hollywood audience at their local theatre. The continuity surprised me most of all at the beginning - filling the very first few minutes with enough introduction of the plot and characters that it all flowed onward easily. The writing and directing would have to take the credit for the primary outcome of this flick. The acting, second to that - yet very well done for the most part. As with all mysteries, there are always twists and turns to make the finale' the crust of the pie. As with this one. No one would have ever thought the murderer was actually Bmsiorl Dhg0owh.
Stereotypical Teenage Boy Flick
It was as if this regular College Student that just happens to live in an apartment Filled with what is thought to be every college kid's stuff and drives an ancient classic car is going to make a great Sci-Fi. It was as if there was some group of assistants who went to the "College Stereotypical Apartment Hardware Store" and filled this guy's room. Even Mom calling on the answering machine was "stereotypical" with the parking tickets. It is really Lame. Low-Budget or not - trying to make the Every Day Guy in college out of an obvious Super Rich Kid by clouding the story with such crap is offensive. Kid's in College don't live like this. The Party? maybe so. Dancing Babes - most "babes" are every day girls - not "Too Sexy for my Tube Dress" types. Beer cans against the forehead? Way past the 1970s. So it was hard to get past the first few minutes. But I held on - the best I could hoping things would jump into a serious movie rather than a Teenage Boy movie.
After the 'proverbial' duster coat worn by Hauer and the really cute mini-shirt by the babe - the movie finally moves on about 30 minutes into the drawn-out story. It is always amazing to me that all the ingredients to these supernatural legends just happen to be Local - in that the staff and the amulet just happen to be in the same town in good ole USA. But it is a Sci-Fi. 32 Minutes into was the understatement of the entire movie - by the babe: "It will be over soon."
OK...scenario... You get the key to 'whatever.' And you give it back without question to the person you got it from. Then the key gets stolen from that person who has no idea of its value. Who's the fool in this case. Why give the stone/amulet back to the kid when he has no idea what he's up against. This constitutes a major error in the scripting of this film.
Script writing, to me, is even more important than directing. The direction is obvious with a well written script as opposed to visa-versa. When words like "butthole" or "asswipe" are used by the actors, it was surely scripted. And therefore quite Cheap. I don't mean to expect Shakespeare quotes, but as I said = = this is a Teenage Boy Flick. But then "it isn't easy doing business with Morons."
It all turns out that Any college kid with a reasonable desire for cute blondes and a "mom-ma's boy" could have pulled this movie off - in its writing. I don't understand Hauer's desire to go from fame to insignificant so easily. Perhaps he had some outstanding traffic tickets. But Rutger Hauer? In this tripe movie? Amazing.
Fury Below (1936)
Coal in 1936
It is a good idea to keep in mind that this movie is from 1936 - long before the regulations were put in place to protect miners from situations as seen here. These modern regulations also insure against the strife that miners went through in these days. Remembering that WWII is just around the corner coal was about to be a most important thing for fighting the Axis in Europe and the Pacific. Legal ramifications had not been enacted in 1936 that would have overseen most of the corporation's rules and ability to make profits, as well as miner's wages, insurance, etc. As far as the movie goes - Again keep in mind that Talkie-Movies were new so the writing and acting was done primarily by stage actors. All in all this is a great movie that delves into the world of union rights, safety issues, and corporate greed that follows humankind even into today's coal mining businesses. Craming all these into a short, 1936 movie wasn't easy - ergo the flaws and missteps. But the story is told well, filmed well, and works. The final scenes were excellent and rank well up there with today's special effects.
Venetian Bird (1952)
Assassin of Venice
Just 7 years following WWII, Italy was just regaining it's favored nation status with Europe. And to reward a countryman for Anti-Nazi actions, a detective is sent to track one man down for proved to be a hero assisting the Allies against the Nazis only to discover he is recorded in public records as dying as a hero. As the story plays out, political intrigue enters the picture as attempts are to be put into place that will ruin the up-coming elections. The police are suspicious to a degree of the detective and keep him under watch. The plot to 'assassinate' the political front runner is directed toward the detective by the true perpetrators for cover. There is much of a Hitchcock-type landscape throughout the movie with twists and turns and intrigue that ends with moment to moment wonder... Will the truth unfold? Will the true assassin be exposed? Will the police get the right person?
Shaker Run (1985)
Another view of Shaker Run
The critique of this movie will always be divided by 2. #1-Yes, it is a car chase movie in New Zealand (Home of the Hobbits). Shaker Run is a basic, campy movie without all the glamour most Hollywood movies seem to need as their by-lines. The heroes never use guns, yet the bad guys use lots. They incorporate the 'teary eyed' hero when his past emerges. And the good guys win in the end. Nuff said about Hero versus villain (and it is perfectly clean for the youngest of viewers). #2-The flick was made in 1986 during the Retro/Disco era when cowboys wore Pink. But, again, they didn't lead with the stereotypical Hollywood stuff that spoils most of their movies. There were no equally proportioned ethnic groups in the Hero club and no one was an Ex-Special Forces guy (always ruins things). Yes the girl is pretty. But it isn't as if her bones are for jumping. It is just a nice,as I said - Campy movie. Cliff Robertson is 63 - and plays the part well. Casey should have had more of a Hero status driving - to become like his father. All in all, it isn't a stupid movie like so many others in the same Genre. And it sure isn't like most 1986 movies except for the fact that people were quite Pink in that time. Embarrassing, I know - but when cowboys drive Pink cars, then they have to think they're in the gutter and the only way out is look to the stars (or helicopter, in this case).
Ring of Terror (1962)
Epitome of a Bad Movie
I can't think of ever seeing a worse movie than this. I tried to find some redeeming parts and came across only one: During the beauty contest the boy that likes heavy women had some honest and truthful things to say about the heavy-set girl. Those words seemed to have come from his heart. Other than that moment, the rest of the movie was an embarrassment to American film making. The acting, per se, was not that bad - but the parts and the scripts were terrible. Someone actually thought (at the time) that college kids acted like this. Which makes me wonder about their mental state. It was as if Mormons or some Southern Baptist Women's association wrote this movie. They were such Prudes and self-centered about 20-something kids that they failed to see the truth. This movie was made in 1962 - just a Very few years prior to our Viet Nam War days. I'm sure many of these kid-actors were actually drafted and probably died in Viet Nam. Yet the writers made them out to be Sterilized SouthPark children. I gave this a 1 out of 10 on IMDb's scoring. Too bad there wasn't a lower score.
A Great Movie that missed satisfaction
As a review I would start with the filming. It was great New York City all over. And that's good. Pasting the city scape into the movie was done well - as if the editor knew the city well. And I like that. Casting was OK and did not reach too far into the Toy world of greed and money, but instead used the filming to tell the story without Glitz and Glamour to prove the point of the story. Music was OK without adding pop or street crawl. It was good and basic background music that fit, as I said, OK. The writing was great as far as it went. Perhaps I just needed More !! And a sequel just may be the answer. I can't see a series erupting from this - but a sequel could move into other realms of the Sci-Fi world's movie stories. Much like Michael Caine's "Harry" moved through time and space - so could "Limitless." There was a terrible amount of holes to be filled throughout the movie as the end came near. And then the ending of the story. It was like an Aesop's Fable with someone telling you the moral of the story instead of it spinning in your own mind. That leaves too many questions, loopholes, and a scenario that yearns for a sequel just to see the final ending. It is an 'almost' great movie only lacking in answers. Everyone played their part well - from the filming, casting, crew, writers, actors, etc. Something is missing. . . And I hate to see DeNiro not finish something once he has taken the Pill of Success.
I give this movie a 7 out of 10. I could see another production easily raising that much higher. But we know that won't happen in this world of Copyrights. My biggest problem (and please forgive me for this fault I have always had) is that this movie like so many other good but not great movies end too quickly without giving me satisfaction. Perhaps this should have been a Mini Series expanding on all the aspects of the characters much deeper - expanding outside of Downtown Manhattan - expanding the plot longer for each change and outcome of situations. It's a problem I have always had with great movies that end without satisfaction.
The Secret Circle (2011)
The flat circle
Another one of those Who's Who in the latest GAP outfit. Everyone clicks in their cliché' of clicks. I suppose the teens of today like this stuff - but when I was a kid we were much further along in life than dressing up for Math Class. The entire idea of this program harps on way too much Hollywood and not enough truth in fiction. It is one thing to spin one genre - but it is another to beat it to death with silliness and political correctness. Bogus from the beginning, bogus through and through. It is almost impossible to count the stereotypical clichés' laughing from start to finish. The only reason I can give this a 2 out of 10 ? The scenery of any Washington State seaside is most beautiful.
The Secret Invasion (1964)
The Cute Few
There are way too many war movies that are not as embarrassing as this. The acting is Third-rate along with the screenplay. Although the theme is fine - the silliness prevails. Two of the characters have their 1950's hair cuts. And when one deserved a bullet to protect the mission, he is forgiven. That happens several times. M.Rooney is a buffoon as usual. Silva has always been a great actor until this junk. I blame the entire blame on the inept crew that wrote and directed this load of garbage. Even with a "low-budget" production, the story can be made well. But they decided to Glamourize rather than signify and capture the truth of the war. Stupid is as stupid does. The dead baby - what a joke... No mother is going to do this. I can put up with Low-Budget lighting, music, scenery - but this movie seems to be creating a new era of "B" rated stuff to fill television. Now here's the good parts: Italy - a most beautiful country.