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Yet somehow I live again, the aliens took me away and rejuvenated my cells in hopes I would continue to service them, fulfill their wishes and desires but no more! I am my own man now if indeed I'm really no longer a man. No henceforth I shall be called Space_Mafune!..a being made of flesh and steel now stranded from all others within this sad and lonely galaxy, on this world. I decided to use the new powers of foresight given me by the aliens against them! I tried to alert the world of their plans and put a stop to their diabolical plot....but they wouldn't believe me..said it was just a cheesy film...my life..my existance..fools! All of them blinded by the aliens manipulative mind-control devices (they don't even realize that Godzilla really exists!)...you know them. You've seen them. Today's actresses basically eye candy and little else..well it's only the ones with something else that are actually truly human but they say I'm crazy. They've locked me away...now all I can do is watch old movies in my private room while no one listens when I try and convince the world of this unseen threat that lurks all about them! At least I've fooled them for now into thinking me harmless...
BAH! Forget all that nonsense, it's really me...the good old, adorable, lovable SF Addict!
Check out my TV Files (the link above) and let me know what you think.
The Eagle (1925)
Good But Not Without Problems
Russian lieutenant Vladimir Dubrovsky (Rudolph Valentino) vows vengeance against a man named Kyrilla (James A. Marcus) after Kyrilla used treachery to steal Dubrovsky land, which left his father a dying, ruined man. Eventually hiding his face under a mask and assuming the identity "The Black Eagle", he and his band of followers set out to bring down Kyrilla. However Dubrovsky has even more reason to hide his face because having offended the Czarina of Russia by spurning her affections, she has issued a warrant for his arrest dead or alive for desertion from his regiment. Further complicating Dubrovsky's plans is he unexpectedly winds up falling in love with Kyrilla's daughter Mascha (Vilma Bánky).
Well it's certainly unpredictable, you have to say that. This one certainly has plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing what might befall our hero next. Valentino it cannot be denied is excellent in the lead role as an heroic bandit with irresistible charm. This does deliver romance and some tense moments for our ill-fated lovers. The problem here is that really "The Black Eagle" never quite seems to deliver the goods when it comes to action, his most impressive moments firing a shot at a key moment and as expected coming to the rescue of his damsel in distress time and time again. Also the ending doesn't quite seem to ring true given previously established events in our story. Still certainly not bad of its type, just a straightforward romantic adventure, almost fairytale-like, in a fashion.
Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936)
Much better than I expected.
A nine year old Brooklyn boy nicknamed "Ceddie" (Freddie Bartholomew), beloved by all who know him due to his kindly nature, finds himself in for a most unexpected change of lifestyle when he learns he's to be heir to the estate of his grandfather (C. Aubrey Smith), a British Earl and has to move in with him. A bigger challenge for the boy to overcome though is to bring down the barrier between his stubborn, set in his ways grandfather and Ceddie's mother "Dearest" (Dolores Costello), who the Earl resents his son marrying as she's an American.
This one really grabs you by the heartstrings and doesn't let up. Freddie Bartholomew is simply wonderful as "Ceddie", wonderfully capturing his character and winning over the viewing audience's hearts in fairly short time, no easy feat for a child star. C. Aubrey Smith too is just marvelous as the crotchety old grandfather who finds his stubborn, hard-hearted, icy exterior being worn away just by being in the presence of such a terrific young lad who loves him unconditionally. Dolores Costello too was nicely cast and delivers the goods when she's called upon to do so. It's the likable performances given by these stars that make this a real winner in that we're truly made to care about these characters and what happens to them.
The Black Pirate (1926)
Pirate yarns don't get much better than this.
Douglas Fairbanks Sr. stars in this exciting, action-packed swashbuckling pirate adventure yarn, as a young man seeking revenge on a band of pirates after they ransacked and destroyed his ship, killing his father. In trying to achieve his goal, he tricks the pirates into thinking he wants to join their band. Will this ruse work?
This delivers all the thrills and cutthroat pirate action anyone could ever hope for and even more. It has all the elements one looks for and wants from today's big blockbusters: impressive stunts mostly performed by Fairbanks himself, sword fights, pirate treachery, explosions, daring underwater scenes, a damsel in distress, the works. There's a few plot holes and questionable plot twists here and there but it all holds up incredibly well after all these years although in today's world lead actress Billie Dove would have been given more to do. That's a minor nitpick at best. If you like pirate yarns, check this out. Believe me, they just don't get much better than this.
The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934)
Good But Dated Adaptation
Sir Percy Blakeney is leading a secret double life. Pretending to everyone in the public eye, including his own wife, that he is a silly British fop, he is in reality the dashing Scarlet Pimpernel, a man devoted, despite the threat to his own head, to helping free the innocence condemned to the guillotine during the French Terror!
Overall this is very well done and features a very capable cast particularly lead Leslie Howard in the challenging dual role and Raymond Massey, who has a great turn as lead villain/spy for the French Republic Citizen Chauvelin for which he seems perfectly cast. Merle Oberon too does quite well and looks quite fetching as Blakeney's befuddled wife.
The problem with this is it feels a bit too static, a bit too talky as was often the case with many early sound pictures. There's just a bit more exposition at times than really seems necessary. This slows the action down a bit to the point things actually get a little dull on occasion. That said, there's enough fun to be found in this one that makes it well worth watching especially those scenes featuring Howard's Blakeney, particularly when he uses some means of disguise or another to fool those pursuing him or uses his foppish charm to throw Chauvelin off his trail.
A Farewell to Arms (1932)
Let's Love Tonight, We May Not Have Tomorrow.
Gary Cooper stars as Lieutenant Frederic Henry, an American ambulance driver serving in the Italian army during World War I. There he meets and falls in love with a nurse named Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes) but the war looms heavy over the couple's chances for happiness.
While this movie feels a bit dated and the war scenes go on too long and seem to be too darkly lit, this is epic romance that ultimately proves hard to take one's eyes off. You root for the characters and want to overcome the odds despite all that stands in their way making the final reality of what ultimately happens all the more potent. A real tear-jerker for the soft hearted this one. Great romance! Let's love tonight for we may not have tomorrow...the harsh reality of war.
The Time of Your Life (1948)
Ahead of Its Time
Nick's Saloon, Restaurant and Entertainment Palace sure attracts some strange and eccentric characters, some looking for work and others just looking for something to help them pass away the day.
There's something that proves surprisingly charming about this film. It's offbeat, doesn't quite seem to fit with the time in which it was made but there's just something here that tends to endear this movie to the viewer, especially on repeated viewings and to be honest, I found quite a bit of humor in it too. Perhaps it's because its eccentric characters seem to ring true in more ways than one as they often seem like just the unexpected offbeat sort you just might have run into in a place like Nick's in said time and era. Maybe it's because offbeat eccentrics certainly are not a rarity in today's world and it becomes easy to relate to events here, strange and bewildering as they often are. James Cagney steals the show as Joe, whose hobby is people, in a role quite atypical for him but really it's the collection and interaction featuring all involved that grabs your interest.
Captain Kidd (1945)
Lackluster, too much talk, not enough action.
Fictionalized account of Captain Kidd has him looking to gain entry into favored English society after tricking the king to commission him as escort to a ship coming from India loaded with treasure. Of course, Kidd (here played with gusto by Charles Laughton) has his eyes set firmly on gaining much of said treasure for himself without the king even realizing what's he done.
Despite Laughton's best efforts and boisterous acting performance and an all star cast including Randolph Scott, Barbara Britton, John Carradine and even Henry Daniell in a short role as the King, this never rises above being just average at best. In terms of a swashbuckler, this has one sword fight that's much too short. In terms of action of the high seas, the sea battles prove all too brief. Mostly this features talking between characters to further advance the plot. In short, there's way too much posturing and talk and nowhere near enough action. Overall, it's surprisingly dull.
The Son of Monte Cristo (1940)
Dashing Edmund Dantes Jr. (Louis Hayward), the son of the famed Count of Monte Cristo, uses the masked guise of the Torch to come to the aid of his beloved the fair Zona (Joan Bennett), royal grand duchess of Lichtenburg in an attempt to rescue both her and her country from falling into the hands of a determined dictator named General Gurko Lanen (George Sanders) who would be king and force poor Zona to be his queen.
While this is pretty typical fare of its type, that doesn't make this swashbuckler any less entertaining. This certainly manages to capture one's interest and imagination throughout, its supporting players even proving more than up to said task particularly Ian Wolfe as Stadt and Montagu Love as Baron Von Neuhoff. In the end, while this does deliver the expected goods in terms of lush scenery, a dashing daring do lead hero in Hayward and a devious, devilishly clever lead villain in Sanders, exciting climactic swordplay and further action and intrigue and even perhaps some symbolism of the political intrigue at work in the world at the time this was filmed, it really offers up very few actual surprises and proves far too predictable overall. Regardless, this proves a most enjoyable film experience.
That Gang of Mine (1940)
Better Than I Expected
Streetwise Muggs Maloney (Leo Gorcey) has dreams of becoming a world class jockey and finally gets his chance after befriending a kindly old poor black man named Ben (Clarence Muse) who just happens to possess and take care of a championship thoroughbred race horse.
This movie proves far more dramatic than most East Side Kids films with a fine performance from Clarence Muse as wise old Ben, who acts as a sort of adviser/mentor for Muggs and shows considerable care for him, something which is not lost on Leo Gorcey's Muggs either. The type of friendship displayed here was arguably ahead of its time in many respects. Leo Gorcey too does surprisingly well in this more dramatic role displaying the inner struggle going on in Muggs when he has to try and come to grips with his fear of racing and also his fear of letting everyone down.
While no doubt some may be a bit disappointed the humor more or less takes a back seat to the drama in this one, it actually proves a far more effective drama, and director Joseph H. Lewis does manage to keep an exciting focus on the horse racing too, than I thought was possible from many involved.
The Paleface (1922)
Keaton Amongst the Indians.
After having their land unscrupulously stolen from them by greedy oil sharks, a tribe of Native American Indians vows to kill the next white man who comes into their presence. Said white man turns out to be an unknowing Buster Keaton seeking butterflies for his collection.
This movie is basically a live-action cartoon. It features the type of chase and stunt sequences one more expects from Looney Tunes only here its accomplished in live action via a series of daring stunts and surprisingly well accomplished special effects sequences. These are pulled off much better than I though would be even possible for the time and era.
Overall this short may not be as humorous as many of Keaton's other efforts but it sure doesn't lack in terms of its overall entertainment value due to the above mentioned dangerous stunt sequences that seem more fitting for a cartoon than live action, the best of which involves Buster being thrown over a cliff and creating a makeshift bridge across a gorge.