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Where's the beard?, 21 March 2015
6/10

Thomas Mitchell (Henry) is a philosophy Professor who has been given 6 months to live but things may come to an end sooner if he undergoes any physical exertion. He uses this fact in planning his last few months. He will murder someone for the good of society, someone who is detrimental to the development of mankind. Well, he does his research for a target and picks someone out. Can he change the world through his actions?

An interesting story although I wasn't totally convinced by Mitchell in the lead role. He looks more like a drunk tramp than a Professor, he delivers his lines rather too carefully which makes him sound a bit slow in the head, and his whole idea is flawed from the start as he makes a non-sensical jump to the fact that he is immortal. And where's his beard? A much better idea for him would have been to jump straight into bed with art dealer Mona Maris (Ketti). Let her know that he's not looking for commitment and get it on. He made a schoolboy error with her. A casting question – why is Geraldine Fitzgerald who plays the role of "wife" top billed? It doesn't make sense. The best in the cast is Mona Maris and the worst is Willie Best and his racial stereotype.

So who would you murder and how would you justify it? I wouldn't go for any of this benefit to society nonsense. I'd pick someone I didn't like, a far more human approach. Check out what is currently going on at that great British Institution which is Crufts. The annual doggy show is immersed in scandal as rivals are poisoning each others dogs. Some sort of competitive murder seems the way to go. And I'm sure some may feel that Tonya Harding didn't quite go far enough with Nancy Kerrigan back on the ice skating circuit in the 1990s.

Recruitment Propaganda, 15 March 2015
6/10

A & C inadvertently join the army while trying to escape police sergeant Nat Pendleton (Collins) who is chasing them for street selling without a licence. Once they arrive at their training camp, they are put through their paces in the same unit as spoilt rich kid Lee Bowman (Randolph) and his former chauffeur Alan Curtis (Bob). These two have a hatred for each other that is heightened by their affections for Jane Frazee (Judy). Who will get the girl…..? And will everyone be happy about going to war…..?

Well, I can answer that last question. Given that this is a blatant recruitment film, yes, everyone seems happy enough. In fact, it looks like quite a laugh with singing and dancing aplenty. Due to the nature of the film, nearly all the songs are war-related with some truly terrible lyrics about Uncle Sam and nonsense about loving the Constitution. However, as these songs are delivered by the Andrews Sisters it makes for good entertainment as we get to see the legends themselves performing 2 classics – "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and "Bounce Me Bother With a Solid Four" which also includes some great Lindy Hop dancing.

A & C perform some routines and there are occasional funny moments as provided by Costello in between the shouting that Abbott seems to constantly engage in. He is rather an unpleasant character. Still, the film was better than I thought it would be despite the required sections of marching (yawn) and the flimsy storyline. Jane Frazee seems a bit of a slag in this. But maybe that's what soldiers needed to see to motivate them. Whatever girl you want, you can have her. Just join the army.

"You're a Lucky Fellow, Mr Smith" ….er, says who? I don't think so. Much better to learn to Boogie Woogie. They should have settled the war with a Lindy-Hop and Boogie Woogie contest. The enemy wouldn't have had a chance.

Texas (1941)
Land of the Texacans, 14 March 2015
6/10

It's the late C18th and William Holden (Dan) and Glenn Ford (Tod) are buddies making it to Texas. They get into trouble in a town and flee, then rob some outlaws, then escape a sheriff's posse before splitting up and wishing each other luck. They know they will meet again. And they do. However, can they keep their friendship under the new circumstances? And who will get the girl – Claire Trevor (Mike)?

First of all Claire Trevor has a ridiculous name - "Michael"! For a girl! Who writes this rubbish? Her role is confusing. She is funny and likable when we meet her in her actions and manners, but her behaviour is appalling. How can she get away with betraying Ford like that? He is clearly the "good guy" while Holden is more of a loose cannon. However, their friendship still holds till the end of the film and their loyalty to one another is to be admired. Even to the point of riding away together, just the two of them, and leaving the "loose" Claire Trevor behind. Do they go for it? Well, maybe…...maybe not…

A lot of praise has been given to Edgar Buchanan (Doc) as the town dentist. Funnily enough, he was an actual dentist before he became an actor. However, I'm going against the grain on this. I couldn't stand him. From his look to his accent and voice. I found him wholly unappealing. Not the character he was playing but actually him. His voice is the same as "Droopy" in the "Droopy" cartoons, ie, annoying.

The comedy is sometimes silly, the story takes a while to get going, the ending seems rushed and we needed some Indians. However, Holden and Ford are likable as the lead roles and the film is OK if a bit disappointing given the rave reviews I had previously read about it. As for Windy Miller, we all know that he lives in "Camberwick Green" these days. He owns a windmill and spends his days drinking homemade cider and falling asleep. For those who aren't in the know, Google him.

Chataneegie Cha Cha, 12 March 2015
7/10

Milton Berle (Nifty) manages the Glenn Miller (Phil) band that includes piano player John Payne (Ted). They land a long-term gig with famous singer Lynn Bari (Vivian) in Sun Valley. Guess what – there's romance between Payne and Bari. However, before they depart for Sun Valley, Payne has to collect a war refugee child that he has undertaken to look after. Enter Sonja Henie (Karen). And she's not a child. Everyone goes to Sun Valley but Payne can only choose one woman. Or does the woman choose him?

The story is lightweight nonsense but the music is excellent. Every musical number is a highlight with the showstopper being Glenn Miller's "Chatanooga Choo Choo" which also includes a sequence with Dorothy Dandridge and the Nicholas Brothers. Wow! The film also serves up Sonja Henie and her ice skating spins. For me, the skating sequences aren't as powerful as the musical numbers, but they are still being performed by a 3 time Olympic gold medallist!

The film is funny and entertaining and contains some legendary performers. Definitely one to watch.

Dodgy brother and sister union, 2 January 2015
5/10

Randolph Scott (Vance) is an outlaw trying to make good. He abandons his old gang and finds a job working for the Western Union company under the lead of Dean Jagger (Creighton). Joining him in his new employment is new recruit Robert Young (Blake). Both take a shine to Virginia Gilmore (Sue) who works for the company. She is Jagger's sister. As they go about their work of setting up a telecommunication system across the land, they encounter hostility from Scott's old gang, headed by Barton MacLane (Jack). And the Indians don't seem too pleased about things either.

This film looks impressive in technicolour. It is definitely a bonus. The story is all rather humdrum, though. The only real interest in the first half of the film comes from the comedy sections between Scott and Young as they compete for the affections of Miss Gilmore. Hardly gripping. Talking of comedy, there is far too much with a special mention going to the very unfunny cook that is Slim Summerville (Herman).

In the second half of the film, we finally get some action sequences – including a very badly acted drunken Indian – but it's nothing that hasn't been seen before. Something of concern that kept revealing itself throughout the film was the incestuous relationship between Jagger and Gilmore. They needed to get a room!

So do I, 27 December 2014
8/10

Sports promoter Victor Mature (Frankie) is in police custody being questioned over the murder of aspiring actress/model Carole Landis (Vicky). Landis lived with her sister Betty Grable (Jill) and she is also in custody being questioned. Through a mixture of flashbacks and real-time action, we learn the story of how events came to pass and whether or not the police can get the real killer. Things don't look good for Mature…

The cast are all good in this film. Carole Landis plays a ghastly wannabe plucked from nowhere and launched into a life of celebrity. If only her fate was part of the deal for those celebrities of today – think of Jordan, and all those other pointless people that invade our television sets. Betty Grable gives a solid performance – no singing or dancing – and is way better at it than that other musical star Doris Day who tried a straight role in "Midnight Lace" (1960) and fell flat on her face with it. But, it is Laird Cregar (Cornell) who excels as a creepy Police Chief Investigator.

The whole film is easy to watch with interesting scenes that drive you through the experience. One memorable sequence has creepy Cregar call in actor Alan Mowbray (Robin) and Mature as suspects, and force them to watch a film sized screen of Landis singing. It's a good song, and someone cracks… There is also some funny dialogue to keep you amused. One example that stands out to me is when Mature says to Grable: "Who goes to a library at 9:00am?" Yep, I agree. Even when I was a University student, that never happened!

It's an interesting story that you can try to second guess but you won't get it right, especially the end twist. It is a shame that two of the main players – Laird Cregar and Carole Landis - didn't live much longer after this. Both were dead by the end of 1948. However, what on earth is the title about? There is no screaming in this film.....thank God.....

Beware of The Torch, 27 December 2014
5/10

Joan Bennett (Zona) is the Head of State of Lichtenburg, although the real ruler is George Sanders (Gurko) and he is planning a marriage to Joan so that he can legally assume power by becoming king. Prime Minister Montagu Love (Von Neuhoff) is in alliance with Joan and both are opposed to Sanders and his power-mad schemings. It's up to Louis Hayward (Count of Monte Cristo) to sort out the mess. And maybe snag Joan for himself….

Not enough tension or variety in the settings to the story. It seems set in one location and it lacked some kind of variety. It cracks along at a fair pace and if you drop off asleep during it, you'll definitely miss plot developments. It's not a bad film, but nothing very standout about it. You can tell that George Sanders was uncomfortable with sword fights – his posture is terrible during his fencing sequences. I used to fence at school so it is very easy for me to spot. "The Mark of Zorro" is a better film from 1940 with regards to swordplay. This film also has a similar story but it's not as good.

Rebecca (1940)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Anyone for tennis?, 23 December 2014
7/10

Joan Fontaine (Mrs de Winter) is a companion to the very snobby and highly amusing Florence Bates (Mrs Van Hopper). While holidaying in Monte Carlo, they bump into Laurence Olivier (Maxim) who is mega wealthy and owns the stately home of Mandalay in Cornwall. A romance between Joan and Larry develops behind the back of fussy Florence, and by the end of their stay in Monte Carlo, Joan and Larry are engaged. They marry and return to Mandalay but the overbearing presence of Olivier's first wife "Rebecca" still lurks at every corner. But, things are not as they seem….

The film left me thinking about how I would feel about Olivier's character if I watched the film for a second time. I would definitely view him in a different light now that I know the story. You have to get to that point to understand what I mean as things take a very different turn about three quarters of the way through and his motivations become very different to what has been previously assumed. It's a clever twist. Up to that three-quarter way mark, I found that Olivier, Fontaine and housekeeper Judith Anderson (Mrs Danvers) were all too predictable and that the film was a little long. However, things pick up with the discovery of Rebecca's boat.

The cast are uniformly good with George Sanders (Favell) standing out as a cad. He is elegantly sublime and slimy as he looks out for number one. At the other extreme was Fontaine – I'm not keen on feeble female roles and so she grated on me on several occasions. Chicks in films need to be funny or be ready to fight back. None of this drippy stuff.

A couple of things that I didn't notice during the film – Hitchcock's usual appearance (it is there, though), and the fact that Joan Fontaine's character doesn't have a first name! The film is a little long but it's worth it in the end.

Spinsters ain't spinach, 20 December 2014
6/10

Loretta Young (June) has just written a best-selling book about how spinsters can enjoy life without men. She is stuck out of town and needs to get back to her agent and boyfriend Reginald Gardiner (John) to start work on her second novel. Cue Lecturer Ray Milland (Dr Stirling). He has a fiancée Gail Patrick (Marilyn) who he intends to marry once he gets a professorship at his college. He is in the same out of town area and he ends up giving Young a lift back into New York. By some misunderstanding, a "Just Married" sign is attached to his car, and everyone assumes the couple have just got married. Uh-oh, this is bad for Young's career and for Milland's. But, actually, the situation could benefit them both. Watch to find out how…

This film is OK while you watch it but nothing outstanding. I thought Loretta Young was the best character despite being a bit of a horror at the beginning. And I've never been a fan of that wisecracking, screwball comedy quick patter where everyone talks over each other. SHUT UP! This film, annoyingly, has some tedious sections with this contrived device, especially at the beginning. However, once we get away from these, the dialogue is actually quite funny in parts, eg, Loretta's quip to Milland in the car when one of his model heads falls onto the car floor - "Trunk murderer? She asks him directly. Another amusing scene occurs where one of the meat-head College boys is asked a test question and asks for Milland's number and if it's OK to phone him later with the answer.

One last point - how come they cast all the spinsters to look the same? There is a definite spinster look to the women at the start of this film. What the best-selling book really should have told them to do was to get dressed up and go sit in a bar. They should then get sorted with a shag and everyone's happy. The world can be a very simple place if we just take the right attitude.

Ticks along, 20 December 2014
6/10

Sea hawk, aka, British sanctioned pirate Errol Flynn (Geoffrey Thorpe) swashbuckles his way through the evil Spanish enemy on the seas in Elizabethan England. Flora Robson (Queen Elizabeth) gives a good performance as Her Majesty – she is no fool. Claude Rains (Don Jose) is calculatingly evil as the Spanish Ambassador to England and Henry Daniell (Lord Wolfingham) has a good role as the Queen's Adviser. The film gives you what you expect, pirates, slavery, fights, court intrigue and a final swordfight. Unfortunately, a rather unconvincing love story is also thrown in. I, like many other reviewers, don't think too highly of Brenda Marshall (Dona Maria) – there is something not quite right. I also can't stand that blasted Una O'Connor (Miss Latham) woman who plays Marshall's lady companion.

How come the pirates are all so old? They'd never win so many battles – they're also a bit on the tubby side. Anyway, Flynn carries you through the proceedings and then it's over and that's it. Flora Robson is the standout in the cast, even though she has to spout some blatant anti-Hitler propaganda at the end.


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