11 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
The Twonky (1953)
TV -the opiate of the masses
26 March 2007
This may be the first in the long line of interesting films that have as their theme some electronic parlor device (radio, TV or computer) through which an alien or other outside influence emerges. Later examples include Zontar the Thing from Venus, Corman's original Not of This Earth, 1984, Farenheit 451, Poltergeist, etc. Others that come to mind are the TV episode of Star Trek whereby Terri Garr unwittingly stands watch over the alien computer and several Outer Limits episodes whereby radio communication is achieved with other planets.

Its one thing to be spied upon by electronic ease-dropping (a much more common theme) but to have influence peddlers brainwashing us from within our homes is particularly horrifying.
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Director Lucas' Magnum Opus
26 March 2007
One of the all time great nostalgia films presents a bigger than life look back to the early 60s. Its hard to view this movie 20-20 given the widely viewed subsequent series Happy Days which, while excellent, lacked the excitement and charm offered in the film. The soundtrack is wonderful and the Wolfman clearly demonstrates that a good voice can be hit you more directly than visuals given that you don't see it coming. I would have preferred it if Lucas has continued in this direction rather than become overly enamored with special effects in his subsequent films. Harrison Ford was fine as a young actor, although his acting skills did develop considerably in later years.
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Hi De Ho (1937)
Of Historical Interest
6 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Cab was decades (if not centuries) ahead of his time, a true American original. Foregoing a lucrative law career in order to become a hep entertainer. Shades here of both William and Lord Buckleys. Of historical note is the use of a small down sized band for two of the numbers, ostensibly for an "audition". One of them is proto R&B. This is relevant to the development of R&B, which required a move from the big band format to a smaller group type. Louis Jordan is normally credited with that transition for economic reasons, but his recordings didn't start until after 1938. This movie is not totally devoid of film elements, although the acting and plot are rather forgettable. Minnie the moocher could be more aptly titled Minnie the Trooper for taking a bullet for Cab in the film. The rise-to-fame montage is somewhat similar to the rise-to-fame montage is Elvis' Loving you. Also of interest is the marriage "rap" scene.
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Excellent performances
3 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This 1955 R&B Revue consists of performances by some of the greats of the golden era of Rhythm and Blues including Cab Calloway, Martha Davis, Ruth Brown, Lionel Hampton, Faye Adams, Herb Jeffries, and Joe Turner. The Hampton numbers reveal how close he came to abandoning jazz entirely in favor of music in the proto rock vein. Calloway is doing another version of his hit "Minnie the Moocher", this one actually superior to his later rendering in the Blues Brothers. Joe Turner adds a performance which once again demonstrates that he is one of the all time great blues shouters. The Delta Rhythm Boys sing "Dry Bones", an early showing of the gospel roots to R&B. Amos Milburn's "Bad Bad Whiskey" is a tad painful to watch, given Milburn's subsequent descent into alcoholism. All in all, the film offers a rare insight into the dawn of the burgeoning rock era.
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Pabst/Brooks' best collaboration
2 September 2003
Who would have guessed that these two collaborated in a film superior to Pandora's Box. Pabst and Brooks were a rare combination indeed, and must serve as another decisive exception to the auteur theory. Having just viewed both, I think a case can be made that the Lost Girl film is actually superior to the admittedly better known film. How Krackhaeur could have ignored the value of these two films in his "Caligari to Hitler" book is indeed baffling. The scenes in the "foster" home are fascinating and may indeed say something about the authoritarian mindset of 20s Germany. (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is another good example)
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Alien (1979)
A masterpiece of the horror genre
23 May 2003
An absolutely wonderful film in many respects: acting, set design, music, story line etc. Horror at its best. Weaver is stunning. The lack of establishment shots creates a horrific disorientation and claustraphobic effect which reminds me of Carl Dreyer's Vampyr and to a lesser extent Hitchcock's Lifeboat. Certain to top my list as one of the greatest of the genre.
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Psycho (1960)
My favorite from the Master of Suspense
23 May 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Psycho is my all time favorite of Hitchcock, although I have to admit that I still haven't yet seen all his silent films. Hitchcock had just finished his television series and obviously had learned something new about BW film making. (And this from the director of many fine BW films including Rebecca.) Too bad that Psycho was his last BW film.

Be sure to watch the "Lee flees by auto" sequence with the sound turned off at least once to aid in understanding the enormous value of Bernard Herrmann's all string film score to the tension of the film. (the same should be done in the "Stewart stawks Novak by auto" sequence in Vertigo- again to Herrmann's score.) I think a compelling case can be made that Herrmann's association with Hitch brought his films to a new level during the Rope to Marnie period.

(Spoilers to follow.)

Keep an eye out for the foreshadowing here. Wiper blades in Lee's car and the knives on the wall (the only diagonal props) at the hardware store pointed at Arbogast's head from two different angles!! I haven't seen this mentioned in any of the literature about the film, perhaps because the knives pointing effect is so obvious that it is hard to call it "foreshadowing".

And don't miss the rope pulling the car out of the swamp and "hanging" Perkins at the end while the mother's skull/teeth are double exposed for a fraction of a second.
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Good story line disguised by special effects overload.
9 May 2003
A high action film with a decent story line is compromised by the Lucas special effects department. I'd rather watch a decent 40s western where I am not continuously bombarded by unrelenting, gratuitous computer generated eye candy. The sense of narrative story telling and graceful pacing is lost is a flash.
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Is the fate of the Krell our fate?
9 May 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Excellent sci-fi from the 50s. I am not one to typically admire high amounts spent on special effects, but this one is an exception. Acting here is fairly decent, especially among the non-humans (Robbie and the Monsters). Story is an interesting mix of Shakespeare, Freud and main stream sci-fi.

(Possible spoilers to follow.) Of renewed interest for today is the question of whether we are taking the path of the Krell, whose science for manipulation of matter combined with advanced communications technology caused an their overnight destruction. With nanotechnology and the internet among other advances, are we far behind. Will we all soon possess weapons of total destruction?
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Lugosi with 3 personalities!
9 May 2003
Bowery at Midnight is a must see for fans of Bela Lugosi. His "lesser" films are is some ways more interesting than the ones he is best known for, since expectations are low and the Lugosi persona shines through inadequacies in the script etc. His acting is really put to the test here where he essentially has three roles: a kind soup kitchen manager, a professor of psychology and a sinister mass killer who can double cross anyone. All three roles are wonderfully done- a masterful job!!
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