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Ray Milland (Tom) is awaiting execution in Franco's Spain when he gets
a last minute reprieve courtesy of his wife's intervention. Only his
wife, Claudette Colbert (Augusta) isn't really his wife. She's a
reporter looking for a story. They make a run for it when their
deception is discovered and then the film plays out as a romance set
against the beginning of World War 2.
Basically, nothing happens in this film. It's very talky. The actors are just given too many words to rattle off to each other without the film ever going anywhere. After about an hour, when nothing had happened, I paused the film and went to have a poo. This gave me the very welcomed experience of actually being entertained as I got to read another chapter of my book "And I Don't Want To Live This Life" by Deborah Spungen, mother of Nancy Spungen (as of Sid and Nancy fame/legend). When I resumed the film, it just continued in a very boring manner with not a lot happening and lots of words.
Question where are the Hebrides? The answer according to this film is off the coast of Ireland. Yeah, just like Spain is off the coast of Norway. At the beginning of the film, the best part, the soldier being executed marches in time with his executors to his fate. No way. Why is he marching in time to the tune of his enemy killers? While the 2 leads, Colbert and Milland, do work well together and are very likable stars, they unfortunately just get bogged down with sappy shenanigans. The story is just unbelievable tosh. I can't recommend it because the film is boring.
Errol Flynn (Bradford) and Randolph Scott (Irby) are on opposite sides
of the American Civil War. Both end up in Virginia City to get their
hands on a consignment of gold that could influence the outcome of the
war. Miriam Hopkins (Julia) provides the romantic interest for these
two men to fight over, while Humphrey Bogart (Murrell) heads a gang of
bandits who also go after the gold. Who gets the gold?
This is an interesting western in that, even though Flynn and Scott are pitted against each other, neither is clearly identified as a goodie or a baddie. The bad guys are Bogart and his mob. Whilst many reviewers point out that Bogey and Hopkins are miscast, I say "so what?" They are not bad, apart from Hopkins' singing. Ouch! Bogey is one of the film's highlights, with every appearance bringing on an "Oh good, he's back" reaction. I find him a very likable bad guy. I far prefer him in this type of role to a leading good guy character, when I find he never quite wins me over. Errol Flynn has star quality but it is Randolph Scott that surprised me and does the best job of actually acting. Unfortunately, we also have the comedy characters as played by Alan Hale (Olaf) and Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams (Marblehead) for Flynn's sidekicks not needed. Cast some credible sidekicks, please! Flynn is very capable of passing off his own type of humour if that's what the director thinks is needed.
The film has a rather far-fetched, cop-out ending that includes Abe Lincoln and while I'd say that the film is a little too long, it has a cast of 3 leading men that keep you watching. Essentially, it's a spy story with an honourable message.
Clark Gable (Verne) is a prisoner on Devil's Island who has a track
record for making escapes. And getting caught. Joan Crawford (Julie) is
a singer in a bar on the Island. We are not told why she has ended up
here but we can guess that she has had a wicked past. When Gable is
found in her room she is expelled from the island and told to leave by
the same way that she entered, meaning illegally through the jungle.
She becomes a fugitive along with Gable and a handful of other
prisoners as they make an escape attempt. Meanwhile the Prison
Commandant Frederick Worlock (Grideau) awaits them at the port on the
mainland that they are heading to, along with slimy Peter Lorre (Pig)
whose ulterior motive involves shacking up with an uninterested
It's an interesting film that concentrates on a set of prisoners whose strange cargo comes in the form of prisoner Ian Hunter (Cambreau). He is the all-knowing morality man who allows each prisoner to look at themselves and make their peace before heading to their destinies. He appears from nowhere and has a Christ-like drowning scene at the end of the film where he hangs on to a cross in stormy waters.
At work, we used to have a post messenger called 'Verne' who delivered files to our desks twice a day. He used to turn up on our floor and throw them at you, believing that was an acceptable way to carry out his duty. He'd just fling them at you and if they missed or hit the floor, so be it. Well, the way that Gable's portrayal of his character 'Verne' delivers his dialogue is just as brash. He just throws it at you. I didn't find him particularly likable. Gable plays it very macho and spouts a lot of dialogue with the use of the word "baby" stuck on at the end when he addresses Crawford. Crawford wins the acting award as she provides her character with some depth and you do wonder as to why she has ended up on the island. There seems to be more to her character, whereas Gable is just a meat-head. He has a rivalry with Albert Dekker (Moll) for leadership of the escaping group guess who wins? Unfortunately, Dekker ruins his role by attempting an English accent from nowhere. No-one English speaks like that, Dekker! I think he was trying cockney?
For me, the most memorable scene was when murderer Paul Lukas (Hessler) realizes his destiny. I think the film could have been better if it had concentrated on his character and his unwillingness to play by Hunter's rules. As it is, we get a love story playing against this conflict of good versus bad. It makes for a happy Hollywood ending with a morality message, but you've got to give full marks to Lukas. Hunter is just not relevant. Another good scene occurs on a boat to the mainland when Gable has to try the infected water. I would have just refused as it means certain death. How will he get out of that one? Perhaps he'll just keep shouting dialogue in a cocky manner, as he does in a climatic scene with Ian Hunter during a storm. Terrible acting from Gable.
Overall, I liked this film as it gives a twist to the story of escaped convicts by throwing in a religious redemption element in the form of Hunter. But, it's a shame we didn't concentrate more on the story of Lukas. At the end, you can decide who really wins. Not many are left with their freedom.
George Murphy (Eddie) gets his song and dance act into a New York
Broadway show. He also wangles an audition for his fiancé Joan Blondell
(Molly) and her kid sister Lana Turner (Pat). However, on seeing the
audition, the show's director Richard Lane (Bartell) throws them a
curve ball by accepting Lana as a partner for Murphy and relegating
fiancé Joan to the role of cigarette girl, which she does quite well
"Cigars and cigarettes!" Joan and Murphy had expected to resume as a
dance team, but sister Lana has now been pushed to the forefront. Throw
in some love complications and watch the film unravel itself in a
rather extraordinary way.
Wow, the plot of this story is insane. You have to feel sorry for Joan Blondell. Not only does she seem to be a better dancer than Lana, but she also has the security of a loving fiancé. She doesn't get much by the end of the film. There are funny moments, eg, Lana's relief that she has been sleeping in her clothes so that she doesn't have to bother getting dressed an old student trick. However, there is also some seriously warped logic going on. Joan Blondell's sisterly attitude towards relationships just doesn't ring true, I'm afraid.
The film is enjoyable, not for the stupid storyline, but for watching Lana Turner dancing her numbers. The studio was definitely looking for a copycat Astaire-Rogers partnership, and Lana definitely cuts it. How funny that Joan spends the film trying to fend her sister away from producer playboy Kent Taylor (Chat). Little did they all know that Lana (in real life) could seriously outplay him! The film has an ambiguous ending I really hope that reporter Wallace Ford (Jed) made a visit to Nebraska as he said he would.
Charlie Chaplin plays 2 roles. He is a Jewish barber who fought in the
First World War for the Germans as well as Nazi leader Adenoid Hynkel.
We follow their two separate stories until the film culminates in the
barber giving his address to the might of the Germany military.
Charlie Chaplin is funny and we get moments of 'laugh-out-loud' funny, because of the situations, his demeanour and his reactions. "Would you like a cigarette?" is the question, "Not now" comes the response from Chaplin as he hangs from a plane.
However, the film is too long. We get far too much Hitler preachy stuff, some tiresome shouting with Jack Oakie playing the Mussolini role and a very obvious food fight. There is also a strange scene of Hitler playing with a balloon of the globe it's balletic but not funny. Just weird. Unfortunately, some scenes do drag on and I found myself constantly wanting a story to unfurl. I think it was a good decision by him to make this film as he really does go to town with mocking Hitler.
Penelope Dudley-Ward (Isla) is the frightened lady of the title. From the first shots of the film when she screams at the shadows that are following her in the house, you can't help but laugh and fear for your oncoming experience. It doesn't say much when the comedy detectives are the best thing about the film. It is woefully acted by all the main players who deliver their lines in that clipped English which is just plain fake the word "exactly" becomes "exectly" it's just nonsense. The film does keep you watching to see how things pan out but it ends just as badly as it started with some laughably crass dialogue being spouted by the appalling Helen Haye (Lady Lebanon) accompanied by a hysterical closing head shot of her. It's not meant to be funny, though. A nice, spooky venue is wasted in this badly acted effort.
Irene Hervey (Kitty) spends the film trying to prove the innocence of
her boyfriend Burgess Meredith (Johnny) who is standing trial for the
killing of a politician. She has the help of a priest Robert Armstrong
(Father Cameron) and her very annoying father Raymond Walburn
(Admiral). This crew solves the crime!
Unfortunately, the film has many comedy moments and comedy characters the kind that aren't funny. Main offender is Raymond Alburn. I see that IMDb has this film classified in the crime/drama/romance sections. Well, they should add comedy (but not the funny sort) to that. Had I read that I may not have bought the film. Also, there are several times when the screen is just black. What's going on! A poor quality film but it's OK nothing special. One funny moment happens when Meredith is described as being 5'10". Ha ha. I don't think so.
American Joan Bennett (Carol) is married to German Francis Lederer
(Eric). The year is 1938 and they live in the USA during the emergence
of Hitler and his gang. They have a son Johnny Russell (Ricky) who
looks like he has been given a few too many MacDonalds cheeseburgers.
He's also annoying. Lederer takes his family on a trip into Germany to
take care of matters with his father's (Otto Kruger) business where he
also links up with wide-eyed Nazi sympathiser and friend Anna Sten
(Frieda). Bennett and Lederer have also been asked to smuggle some
money to a concentration camp prisoner so that he can bribe a guard and
escape. It's not long before Bennett has seen enough but Lederer wants
to stay and embrace the new Germany
Unfortunately, there is not enough action here and the film has long segments of preachy dialogue, so it loses points as it loses its way during these sections. And the kid is irritating. It's interesting as a time capsule and the cast are fine given that they have to spout corny dialogue.
Conrad Veidt (Captain Andersen) is the skipper of a Danish boat that
has been intercepted by the British and brought to dock in England
while the cargo is processed. An overnight stay is required before he
can proceed. He is also carrying passengers and he makes it his
business that they do not abscond overnight. His mission is to deliver
his cargo and not to lose any passengers. This, above all else. Well,
Valerie Hobson (Mrs Sorensen) and Esmond Knight (Mr Pidgeon) have other
plans, and duly abscond. Veidt has one night to track them down and
ensure that they are back on his ship when it is due to sail in the
This film has an alternate title of "Blackout" and it's very significant seeing that you can't see what's going on during several scenes. It's a shame because it's an engaging spy story. Conrad Veidt is excellent in the lead he is very much his own man, and manages to draw some humour out of his arrogant portrayal making him likable. He is loyal to his principles and that is to be admired. He gets some funny dialogue as well as throwing in some nice touches such as when he rows ashore to begin his chase, and he keeps repeating the name of Mr Pidgeon. With each pull of the oar we hear "Mr Pidgeon". It's funny and you know that it is really annoying him! However, set against this, the film is marred by silly comedy sections that always seem to include Hay Petrie in a dual role of brothers. The film really did not need him, yet alone two of him. Aaargh. Lose points for that, I'm afraid.
You can tell that this is a fun, spy story with some tense moments. However, the tension is taken away because you can't see the blasted thing and there is way too much comedy.
Marlene D plays a dual role. As the Countess, she dresses like an
ostrich and is a trickster who gets her way by fainting so she can bag
a wealthy suitor. In her other role, she looks exactly the same yet
seems to fool the rest of the cast. There you go, it can't be a good
film. A Dietrich vehicle that has some amusing scenes at the beginning
with potential suitor Bruce Cabot (Catour) resembling a Clark Gable
As always, Dietrich just glows star quality. Roland Young (Giraud) plays his part well as a wealthy, interested party and I also thought Anne Revere (Giraud's sister) and Melville Cooper (Giraud's brother-in-law) put in amusing, convincing performances.
As for the other characters, unfortunately, we get comedy sailors that include Andy "clear your throat" Devine (1st Sailor). Not funny. The better comedy comes from a surprising source Mischa Auer (Zolotov). For a change, Mischa Auer doesn't miss the mark he's funny in his role (the only time I can remember him successfully doing this) and Franklin Pangborn (Bellows) as Auer's European companion has that kind of face that screams comedy. He reminds me of one of my Portuguese cousins she looks just like him.
It's a fluffy film that is completely unbelievable but entertains while it is going. I wouldn't recommend it, but it's OK - nothing too gripping going on.
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