Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Great Rupert (1950)
Cute Durante Vehicle
It's hard not to like Jimmy Durante even though he was Jimmy Durante in all his movie appearances - no matter how you disguise him. He was a great performer on stage, screen or TV and in whatever material was provided for him. In "Rupert The Great" he injects life into what is basically a one-joke movie. He, his wife and daughter are out-of-work circus tumblers looking for place to stay in the Big City. As luck would have it they come across a fellow performer who has lost his living quarters and releases his trained squirrel as he is 'unable to support the two of them'. Durante and family take over his digs, and the squirrel, who has snuck back unnoticed. The squirrel funnels money from the landlord's stash above to the family below. Several funny sequences ensue, as you can imagine.
The squirrel has precious little screen time, and this would have made a great kid's picture with a better screenplay. But there is enough Durante to save the day and this old veteran gives it all he's got, which is considerable. It must have been a good 'B' movie in its day and is passable entertainment now. At 87 minutes, length is no problem and is over before it wears on the viewer.
"Chasing Trane" is as comprehensive as a documentary about the short life of John Coltrane can get. Apart from his recordings, precious little exists about the life and career of arguably the best saxophone player who ever lived. This documentary traces his upbringing in the Jim Crow South to the pinnacle of his career - at which point he died of liver cancer. He was 40.
The filmmakers used still shots coupled with interviews with his surviving friends, family members and admirers. He never gave an interview, and when he is quoted the voice-over is Denzel Washington. Those interviewed include Cornel West, best friend Sonny Rollins, his children and -surprise- saxophonist Bill Clinton. Testimony is given regarding his musical perspective and the impact music had on his life and the lives of others. It is extremely illuminating and insightful.
I could go on and on, and suffice it to say the film is never slow or dull. It is a fast 99 minutes and it is terrific. If you are a fan of his you should go and see it. You have to.
Wife vs. Secretary (1936)
The cast was attractive, the script and plot were first-rate, and they did it all without obscenities or nudity. Makes you wonder how they made any hits in the 30's, doesn't it? Warner Bros. took some of their best stars and mixed in some top screenwriters and one of their best directors and produced a hit romantic comedy that makes movie-watching all worth it.
They also mixed in some of their top character actors (Hobart Cavanaugh, Marjorie Gateson and May Robson), and as a bonus, one of their best future stars in James Stewart. The story has been rehashed by many reviewers but it involves one of those awkward-circumstance misunderstandings that can be so entertaining in the right hands. Without going into great detail: Gable is married to Loy and depends on his secretary (Harlow) for much of his business details - too much for his wife, who is very trusting and loyal. The story sounds hackneyed but it's done so well it all works. If you're a fan of Golden Age films, you should see it. It's typical of Hollywood professionalism before the wheels came off in the 60's.
This was a fairly interesting story which needed a plot twist or two for a better rating. It was predictable and somewhat dated as it is a prohibition era story and is very old-fashioned in many aspects. Cagney is a hack driver and Loretta Young is his girl friend who becomes his wife. He has a volatile temper which spills over at the slightest provocation and gets him into trouble. It also causes him to slap Young around and evidently is an excuse to use this picture to hone Cagney's tough-guy image as he defeats the Taxi Union. The viewer will wonder why she stays with him throughout the film, but as a 30's movie it probably passed for normal to audiences of the time.
Film buffs will recognize several familiar faces of 30's movies. David Landau plays his usual bad guy role, George E. Stone is Cagney's pal and Guy Kibbee is Young's father. No new ground is broken in Taxi! and the story has been used before, but it is a chance for a glimpse at pre-code Hollywood and some of the stars of long ago.
Trade Winds (1938)
Maybe this is what happened in the 30's when smart movie people went off the reservation and made a movie without major studio backing. "Trade Winds" suffers from a lack of oversight especially over the final script, as it is in desperate need of rewrite. The end result is a film lacking good continuity and a coherent storyline, and this despite an excellent cast and one of Hollywood's top directors.
Where to start? Maybe with the miscasting of Ralph Bellamy, one of the most reliable actors around, as a bumbling hayseed detective. He is an annoying presence throughout the picture and is in far too many scenes. Funny at first, he becomes grating before midway of the film. There are far too many plot contrivances and questionable circumstances to mention, so to save space I'll skip to the end of the picture. The unmasking of the murderer is unbelievable and far-fetched, but by that time the viewer has long since lost hope for a sensible deus ex machina. This is what I meant by lack of oversight. The end is completely undisciplined and stretches the audiences credulity, and unworthy of a credible Hollywood production. The only reason to see this misbegotten film is for the attractive cast, and to reflect on what might have been were the picture in different, more capable hands.
American Madness (1932)
What more do you need to know? It follows Director Capra's tried and true formula of a genial hero faced with adversity but who manages to pull it out in the end. In everyone's favorite, James Stewart as George Bailey overcomes adversity (with some fantasy mixed in), and here it's Walter Huston, arguably Hollywood's best actor, also playing a bank president, manages to achieve salvation with the help of script writer Robert Riskin, one of Capra's best collaborators.
The theme may be similar but the faces change. Pat O'Brien, Constance Cummings and Kay Johnson support Huston, Johnson as his wife and O'Brien as a rehabilitated ex-con now working for Huston. This being 1932, there is a run on the bank as in the Stewart film. Although not the least of the problems the story works through, with the combination of Capra and Riskin an expected happy ending remains intact. The summary on the title page may not sound promising, but here is 30's filmmaking at its best. An oldie, but it's worth your time.
Old English (1930)
I'm sure George Arliss would approve of my heading, because that's what he was - a distinguished star of the London stage before coming to Hollywood. In fact, in this picture he is listed as MR. George Arliss. I think only Paul Muni was referred to as MR for a time.
There is no question who the star of the picture is. The camera favors him with countless close-ups and fixes upon his every movement, and in return he uses every acting trick he can summon and he is delightful. He tends toward ham every so often and it's a treat to watch. Here he is an old bank president 'on his last legs', as several creditors try to pry him from his job. The movie's title is his nickname among his colleagues.
The role is well within his capability and plays like a filmed stage play as there is not much camera movement, due probably to primitive 30's camera technique combining with sound. There are also no exterior shots and takes place strictly on a soundstage. I recommend it because it is fascinating to watch a master thespian at work, although it may not be as good as some. Disraeli (1929) and Cardinal Richelieu (1935) are better.
Boy Meets Girl
"Collide" is one of the most exciting, sustained-action pictures made in years. It is an edge-of-your-seat thriller that barely gives you a chance to catch your breath, and all this with one of the goofiest plots in a long time. Are you looking for a coherent, believable story line? Look elsewhere, but if you like mindless mayhem, exhausting suspense and comic book-type explosiveness, this one's for you.
Boy meets girl in Cologne, Germany. Two drifters in love, but she needs a kidney transplant. What to do? What else, turn to a life of crime, naturally. He becomes a drug runner and tries to turn the tables on drug kings Ben Kingsley and Anthony Hopkins. I couldn't wait for Anthony Hopkins to be on screen, he was so good. Think Hannibal Lecter, but with more menace. Fight after fight, chase after chase ensue in this action picture for the ages.
It was great. I kept wishing I was 16 again so I could just go with the hole-riddled plot.
Go, Johnny, Go! (1959)
Second Rate B
I lived through this era but I didn't see this one the first time around. Now I know why. Word probably got out that the songs were obscure and not the songs these performers were known for. The problem is compounded by a very lame plot which was meant as a filler in between songs, and you have a movie you can easily pass on.
Several big 50's names are here, but as I mentioned no famous songs. The story centers around singer Jimmy Clanton and Alan Freed, a 50's disc jockey unknown to audiences nowadays. Clanton is trying to break into show business and Freed is sponsoring a contest for an unknown singer on his show - you can almost write the script yourself from this point. The sole bright spot is a youthful-looking Chuck Berry, who does his patented duck walk while playing his guitar, and sings "Johnny Be Good" and "Memphis", which was made popular a few years later by Johnny Rivers. Berry is the only reason for my rating, which is too high without him.
The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936)
It's not Nick and Nora, but it still works. The formula is similar and there is a murder mystery to be solved, and it's a pretty good one. the big difference is that Myrna Loy is not here and her place is taken by Jean Arthur, and she proves to be a very adequate replacement. She is the Ex-Mrs. Bradford in the title and also has the requisite comedic touch for such a part, and helps to keep the picture moving at the quick, breezy pace the genre is known for.
The plot involves a murder at a race track and another one connected to the first. If you are a fan of the Thin Man series you will enjoy this one as they are remarkably alike in pacing and screenplay. And the intricate mystery plot will keep you guessing right up to the end. A very enjoyable 80 minutes, even without Mrs. Charles.