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Rogues' Regiment (1948)
A regiment full of Nazis
The film follows undercover agent Dick Powell (Whit) as he tracks down fictitious Nazi Martin Brunner as portrayed by Stephen McNally (Reicher) in the French Foreign Legion in Indo-China. I assume that McNally's character is based on real life high ranking Nazi Alois Brunner and the story is a fictionalized interpretation of where real life Brunner may have gone. Incidentally, the real Brunner never got caught. Can Dick Powell track down and capture McNally, or does this story foretell the actual truth of how Brunner may have evaded his searchers?
The film begins in a documentary style with clips from the Nazi war trials before it turns its attention to the plight of one particular high-ranking Nazi who has evaded capture. We follow the leads that place him in Indo-China, and that's where we meet our cast, all of whom give good performances. My favourites are McNally and Carol Thurston, who plays devious Vincent Price's (Van Ratten) servant girl, Li-Ho-Kay. Oh yeah, she's handy with a knife.
The film seems to tie itself up rather too neatly but it is an interesting journey - there is suitable tension throughout the film as well as intrigue as to what will happen. We are taken into the world of the Vietnamese freedom fighters, who, as a separate issue, win a victory in the end, a few years later.
Ladies of the Chorus (1948)
It's really OK to be a dancer
The plot explores the idea of being accepted as a chorus girl. Will the upper class set acknowledge such a lowlife species? The story is trivial but holds an interest as Marilyn Monroe (Peggy) carries herself well in one of her early entries. Thankfully, we see her deliver her lines without that irritating baby-talk that became her trademark. She talks properly in this film! So, it's a treasure if only for that.
There is a good segment where Adele Jurgens (Mae) shows off some dance moves probably the best moment of the film. The music is OK, Marilyn Monroe sings a couple of songs, but nothing too special.
The flimsy story wraps itself up over the course of an hour, but we watch it for Marilyn Monroe.
Yellow Sky (1948)
Stop swinging your hips all over the place
Gregory Peck (Stretch) leads his band of outlaws to rob a town before being forced to take exile through the desert until they come upon the ghost town of Yellow Sky. Here they come across Anne Baxter (Mike) and her grandfather James Barton (Grandpa). The gang soon work out that these two have a fortune. Greed takes over.
The film is a slight let-down in the action and tension department. Peck and Baxter are the best of the cast while outlaw Richard Widmark (Dude) is wasted. His character seems to be half missing and just about sparks into some kind of interest right at the end of the film. Too late we don't connect with him anymore because he has been so boring and disappointing up to that point. Fellow outlaw John Russell (Lengthy) gives more of a performance as an adversary to Peck.
It is a well made film and there are some quality moments of dialogue but the film cried out for more action and more involvement from the Apaches. They were sorely missed.
Behind Locked Doors (1948)
What illness to choose
Reporter Lucille Bremer (Kathy) convinces private investigator Richard Carlson (Ross) to go undercover as a patient into the "Siesta Sanitarium" where she believes wanted man Herbert Hayes (Judge Drake) is hiding out. Indeed, he is there. Behind locked doors and with the protection of the staff at the institution, headed by Thomas Browne Henry (Dr Porter) and sadistic warden Douglas Fowley (Larson). Once inside, Carlson also comes face to face with violent inmate Tor Johnson (the "Champ").
The film is OK. It needed a little more pace during the beginning sequences at the asylum. While it is not a bad film, it is all familiar stuff these days, and you can probably predict the ending. The staff and patients at the mental hospital are stereotypical and somewhat cartoonish but the film keeps you watching during its short running length.
There is an interesting fun game to play at the beginning of the film where Bremer and Carlson decide to pick a mental illness to have. Hmmm .what to choose they consider schizophrenia before settling for depression. Yep, nice choice. They then read up about all the symptoms and behaviours associated with the condition before getting their deception past the doctor. Everyone plays this game nowadays in their quest to get off sick from work. So, it's a film ahead of its time in that respect.
I thought Lucille Bremer got the more memorable scenes the interview with Thomas Browne Henry in order to get Carlson admitted into the hospital and her sudden appearance in a scene towards the end of the film. She also had some good dialogue to keep the rather slimy Carlson at arm's length. Unfortunately, the film's quality is poor with interference throughout.
Sanitariums no longer exist, so you can no longer bluff your way into these places, but if you fancy 3 years off work approach your boss with details of a new mental illness which manifests itself in an ability to actually show up and do some work as required. There won't be any psychologist theories about this and you should ask to be rushed immediately home to recuperate.
Sleeping Car to Trieste (1948)
You may well fall asleep before Trieste
Albert Lieven (Zurta) and Jean Kent (Valya) pursue Alan Wheatley (Karl) aboard the Orient Express. The object of their attention is a diary which Lieven must recover and leave the train with before he reaches Trieste.
The film needed to go in either the comedy direction or the thriller direction. As it goes, it combines both which is frustrating. The final moments on the train are quite shocking given the rather lame humour which we have been fed during the previous hour and forty minutes. The ending seems out of place in this otherwise frothy adventure.
Most of the actors are irritating. They play comedy roles that never make you laugh, except once lawyer Derek De Marney (George) comes out with a classic laugh-out-loud moment when he presents his 3 theories of how someone has ended up dead to policeman Paul Dupuis (Inspector Jolif). It's the best moment of the film and we re-winded it twice! The best in the cast are Lieven and Kent, who play it straight and provide the thriller part to the film the reason to watch it. Some characters are actually completely superfluous to the story the bird watcher, the GI, the French cook and the British cook. There are too many characters providing comedy parts.
As a whole, you watch to see what happens but it gets boring and the Brits speak in that ridiculous posh way that makes you cringe, and it basically helps to portray them as twerps. Not what is required for a good thriller.
Corridor of Mirrors (1948)
Edana Romney (Mifanwy) receives a telegram to meet up with an ex-lover Eric Portman (Paul Mangin) in London at the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. She arrives at the pre-arranged rendez-vous next to Marie Antoinette and as she waits, she daydreams .and we are taken back in flashback to the days of her love affair with Portman. He is a wealthy artist with some definitely strange ideas. He lives in the past. Literally. And he believes Edana is part of his destiny. Theirs is a 400 year love affair which needs sorting out.
It's a good-looking film with a huge house at the centre of the proceedings. It's atmospheric and the costumes are great. There is definitely an unworldly feel as the film develops and the story will keep you guessing as to what is going on in the mind of strange Eric Portman. The acting is good all round, including the minor characters, with a mention to singer Joan Maude (Caroline) who plays a crucial role. The dialogue is funny at times with Romney's father, Bruce Belfrage (Sir David), coming out with the classic " hardest hard-on ". Listen out for it near the beginning of the film when Romney returns home to find Belfrage watching a film. It's hilarious.
So, it's time to organize a Venetian ball
just watch out if you are a female with long dark hair. You never know what type of nutter is in the area.
So Evil My Love (1948)
Widowed Ann Todd (Olivia) returns from Jamaica from her Missionary work and smoking loads of ganja to live out her life in her Kensington house where she rents a room to prudish busy-body Muriel Aked (Miss Shoebridge). On her trip back to the UK, she made friends with thief Ray Milland (Mike) who now shows up at her house looking for lodgings. She is unaware of his past and takes him in, but he has ulterior motives. He flatters and charms her until she falls in love with him and agrees to go along with his plans to blackmail the household of Todd's wealthy school friend Geraldine Fitzgerald (Susan) who is married to the bullying and socially-aspiring Raymond Huntley (Henry). However, things don't go to plan ..
The film develops at a leisurely pace and it seems a bit too long, but it is worth it for the final third when the tension starts to increase, and I certainly did not expect the final outcome when Todd and Milland meet up to make their getaway. I found it to be a satisfying conclusion which may leave you on a bit of a downer but it is effective melodrama.
The acting is good with a special mention to Ann Todd. She convinces as a vulnerable widow as well as a broken-hearted woman who is out for revenge. Milland's girlfriend Moira Lister (Kitty) also does well in one of the smaller roles and she is crucial to the way the story pans out in the end.
There is an atmospheric setting of Victorian London and the story is based on a true incident which all adds to the interest. It's a film that is worth seeing if only as a warning against being unfaithful in love. Don't expect forgiveness.
The Third Man (1949)
You may need a cuckoo clock to wake you up
Author Joseph Cotten (Holly) is invited to Vienna by his friend Orson Welles (Harry Lime). There is a major problem with this set-up from the outset as it is revealed that Welles has just been killed. Cotton attends the burial but sticks around in Vienna as there seems to be a great deal of suspicion surrounding the death of his buddy.
The film has an interesting setting and idea for a story but I'm afraid that it just drags - it's drawn-out and never gets moving. Cotten is dreary in the lead role but Welles is the best thing in the film and delivers his amusing famous quote comparing Italy with Switzerland. The scene on the Ferris wheel is a standout scene as the audience experiences the only real moment of tension as the carriage door is opened at the top of the ride. Uh-oh is anybody going over the edge?
A mention must be made of the music it's all zithery throughout. To further clarify, it sounds like a mixture between Greek music and French café accordion music. And it provides moments of over-exaggerated melodrama that just ends up comical. It is also just basically out-of-place belonging more in an art film or 1960s camp comedy horror.
The story is not bad and the film could have been so much more interesting we are given about 30 minutes of plot stretched out to nearly 2 hours. Definitely not the classic that everyone blindly labels it as it is vastly over-rated right up to the final chase scene in the sewers a plot device that was done a year before in the better film "He Walked By Night" (1948) which provided far more tension and a better sewer chase.
White Heat (1949)
Time for some strawberries
James Cagney (Cody) heads a group of gangsters. He's a psychopath who loves his mother, Margaret Wycherly (Ma). Virgina Mayo (Verna) is his wife but she definitely plays second fiddle to Wycherly when it comes to who Cagney respects more. Steve Cochran (Big Ed) is Cagney's number 2 who decides to take matters into his own hands when Cagney is sent to prison for a couple of years. Taking matters into his own hands means taking on Cagney's leadership uh oh .not a good move. John Archer (Evans) plans to bring Cagney down with the help of inside man Edmond O'Brien (Fallon). Can they succeed?
Wow! Great film. At just under 2 hours the film still manages to move swiftly as we progress through several episodes that all lead us to a memorable explosive ending with those famous last words "Made it ma! Top of the world!" The dialogue is excellent in this film as is the acting. A mention must be made to Margaret Wycherly. She is very good as a gangster mother and her acting is a million miles from the sanctimonious nonsense that was her effort in the vastly over-rated Gary Cooper film "Sergeant Yawn" (1941).
An added interest throughout the film is learning the police procedures of the time, eg, following a suspect using the "car A, car B, car C" strategy. Don't think that'll work on Ma Wycherly, though. However, the oscillator (radio technology) is the device that may just bag things for the good guys.
My wife's summary of the film was "
.a boys film. And it's too long". Yep, it's a boy's film, I guess, and it's excellent entertainment. So, time to plan my next heist
.however, I won't re-kindle my mother fixation as I think we should move on in life.
The Spider and the Fly (1949)
Robbery is a profession not a trade
Police inspector Eric Portman (Maubert) is permanently on the case of gentleman thief Guy Rolfe (Philippe), who is a character similar to David Niven's gentleman thief in the original "Pink Panther" film. The film is set in France just before World War 1 and we watch Portman and Rolfe play out a cat-and-mouse game as various robberies are carried out. Nadia Gray (Madeleine) plays the love interest for our two male leads. She is part of Rolfe's crooked network and Portman is constantly at her to shatter Rolfe's alibis. An undercover operation finally finds Rolfe caught in the act but the outbreak of war leads to new priorities and Portman asks for his old adversary to be released from prison to assist France in stealing some important documents from Switzerland. The film then turns into a buddy-buddy movie as these two characters work together to complete their mission. Can they succeed?
I really enjoyed this film. The acting is good and Portman (representing detection) and Rolfe (representing crime) are extremely likable in their roles and play off each other with a camaraderie that will have you relishing in them working together in the latter part of the film. The dialogue is good throughout and not one scene is wasted. An amusing occasion occurs when Portman arrests Rolfe and they go into a bar on the way to jail to share a cognac together. Portman pays way in excess of the cost of the drink and when this is pointed out by the barmaid, he replies that it is for the glasses as well at which point both Portman and Rolfe smash their glasses onto the floor. It's amusing and it strengthens the bond between them. I dare you to try it next time you have a drink in a bar.
There are a couple of twists at the end which are quite moving. It's a good film to keep and watch again.