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'I Know Where I'm Going!' (1945)
The rough seas of Scotland
Although Roger Livesey is usually not your typical leading man he steps out of class here and delivers as a fine performance as the rugged Scot sea captain who makes Wendy Hiller his own. As for Wendy Hiller. I Know Where I'm Going is one of her best films, she delivers a fine performance as a young woman who up to her mid 20s knows exactly what she wants.
What she wants to get to a private island in the New Hebrides up in Scotland, privately owned by a titled millionaire who has her as a trophy bride in his declining years. But she gets stuck on one the mainland as the seas get rough and no Scot with a brain in his head is willing to risk any kind of sea craft in a storm. Especially since there's a nasty old whirlpool that's sucked many craft to Davy Jones locker.
So Hiller is spending some enforced time in Scotland and while it might not be the green Scotland of Brigadoon the sea coast and the people do have a charm of their own. This is the greatest strength of I Know Where I'm Going, the accurate and colorful depiction of the Scottish fisher folk and their ways.
The second are some really hair raising sequences involving Hiller and Livesey when they finally do make an attempt to get to that private island. By that time both of them are having second thoughts.
This is one pleasant and charming film, a must for fans of Wendy Hiller.
The Jungle Captive (1945)
Mother of mercy, is this the end of Paula Dupree?
Universal Pictures did the third and last of its Ape Woman series with Vicky Lane taking the place of Acquanetta as the woman turned into a primeval ape woman. She was killed in the last film, but another one of those crazy scientists has brought her back to life and even more he's brought her back to a human condition.
But poor Vicky, she may look like a swimsuit model, but she has no human brain. Never mind we've got Amelita Ward to keep her supplied with human blood and maybe a human brain if Otto Kruger can complete his experiment.
Poor Otto has a problem. His assistant Rondo Hatton killed a morgue attendant getting the Ape Woman's body so the cops in the person of Jerome Cowan are investigating. And Ward has a boyfriend Phil Brown also a scientist and also inquiring.
So those are the elements of the plot of this Universal horror flick which made a whole lot of good actors like Kruger and Cowan look embarrassed. Still they were professional enough to give credible if not decent performances in this Thanksgiving feast of a movie.
Why didn't these scientists just ship her to a zoo to find a horny gorilla?
The Andy Griffith Show (1960)
The folks in Mayberry
Andy Griffith starred as a small town sheriff who also married a few people as justice of the peace. There were more marriages in Mayberry than crime, the kind of idyllic small town that America so prizes.
Sheriff Andy Taylor's immediate family were his son Opie played by young Ron Howard and his Aunt Bea who was played by Frances Bavier. Andy was a widower and his great aunt provided the female mother figure in the home for Opie.
In law enforcement Andy was aided and abetted by his deputy Barney Fife played by Don Knotts. The situations with Griffith and Knotts provided the base of the humor there with Knotts getting so officious and Andy just solving problems with humor and a kind word.
Gradually we met the rest of Mayberry people like Howard McNear the barber, George Lindsey the gas station owner, Jack Dotson the town clerk. Charles Watts was the mayor and when he died Mayberry got a new mayor in Parley Baer.
And there was Gomer Pyle and Jim Nabors proved so popular that he got a series of his own when he joined the Marines. My favorite was Hal Smith as Otis Campbell the town drunk. He was by far the jail's steadiest customer. Griffith just let him check in and lock himself in to sleep off a toot.
The show lost something when Don Knotts left for the big screen and Jim Nabors got his own show. For the second half of its run it was never the same.
Still for the richness in characters from small town America you could never beat the Andy Griffith Show.
Sherlock ripped off
I'm sure that David Farrar could not conceive of later playing Sexton Blake in another film when as Granite Grant in Sexton Blake And The Hooded Terror he handed off a case to George Curzon as Sexton Blake in this story. I rather accepted Farrar better as a tough guy than I did Curzon.
Sexton Blake was a pulp fiction British detective who under various authors went for almost a century in adventures that entertained the British juvenile public. He's upper class like Sherlock Holmes, but more of a tough guy. In fact this thing is such a ripoff of Holmes stories it's ridiculous. He's got himself a housekeeper, a general factotum in Tony Gwynn, and he resides on Baker Street.
He's also got an arch nemesis called the Snake played here by Tod Slaughter who leads an army of criminals. Why Arthur Conan-Doyle didn't sue is beyond me. In any event the story takes place in London, Paris, and Cairo as Blake foils another dastardly plot.
Unlike Holmes, Blake gets a bit amorous in also helping French insurance detective Greta Gynt. Gwynn's character is not anything like Dr. Watson, he's more like Edward Brophy is to the Falcon.
One of those British quota quickies. Holmes fans might resent someone else moving on to Baker Street.
One Frightened Night (1935)
One eventful night anyway
Multi-millionaire Charley Grapewin is having some friends and relations over to dinner and says that he's going to give them all an advance inheritance, a nice million dollar check for all. His beloved granddaughter there's been no word of.
Well wouldn't you know it, not only does she show up, but there are two women claiming to be her. That cancels the inheritance, but girl number one Evelyn Knapp is killed in a rather exotic way. Girl number 2 Mary Carlisle is still in the running, but so are such friends and relations as Regis Toomey, Lucien Littlefield, Hedda Hopper and a few more familiar faces.
Mascot Pictures shot this one on petty cash. But a lot of good character players get to do their shtick in this rather interesting satire on murder mystery film.
One Frightened Night is night is an interesting B film that might be worth a viewing.
Gomer Pyle: USMC (1964)
Gomer never did go to Vietnam
For five seasons Gomer Pyle kept us all amused with his bumbling country boy antics to the distress of his sergeant Vince Carter. With the Vietnam War going on one does not have to speculate about why Pyle was kept stateside.
Although several other people flirted in and out of Gomer Pyle it was a two person show. Sweet lovable Gomer who managed to keep that innocent naivete through basic training with Frank Sutton and then later on when contrary to all realism Carter and Pyle stayed together even after basic training.
Jim Nabors who even got in a song or two over the run of the show with that operatic baritone was in the title role, carrying over from the Andy Griffith Show where he was a gas jockey. Sutton eventually got tired of training him and kind of took him under his wing. Still Pyle would get in and out of trouble each episode and Sgt. Carter's ulcer would grow.
After 5 seasons Gomer Pyle came to an end. I suspect with a lot of real Marines coming home in body bags, the antics of a lovable bumbling Marine just weren't cutting it.
In real life Pyle would have washed out in two weeks.
A Woman's Face (1941)
Scarred and cynical
Joan Crawford got a plum role in A Woman's Face and George Cukor got a very good performance out of her. Especially when you consider this role was originally intended for Greta Garbo. If Garbo had done it this film would have ranked among her best.
A Woman's Face casts Crawford as the scarred and cynical leader of a gang of blackmailers and thieves who use a roadhouse cafe that she owns as the place to lure rich suckers and trim them. She was scarred shortly after her birth and on her right side looks like Gloria Grahame after Lee Marvin scalded her in The Big Heat.
Among a crowd she has one night are plastic surgeon Melvyn Douglas and no account count Conrad Veidt. Douglas is interested in her professionally, thinking he can work his plastic surgical magic. The problem is that people scorning her all her life has given Crawford a really cynical and rotten outlook on the human race.
That outlook however is just what Veidt wants. He wants to rope her into a plan to kill his young nephew so that he inherits the vast estate. On his recommendation Crawford is sent to Uncle Albert Basserman's estate to be Richard Nichols's governess. The better to gain access to the kid.
Still Crawford sees a chance for a new life and she's conflicted.
Considering this role looks tailor made for Garbo, Crawford delivers a very good performance running the gamut of emotions on screen. I also have to say that Veidt was one cunning devil of a villain. His scene with Crawford where he declares what he intends to do with the money from the estate is both chilling and timely for 1941. Definitely one of Veidt's best English language performances.
This one is a must for Joan Crawford fans.
The Man They Could Not Hang (1939)
I guess that Harry Cohn at Columbia must have liked what Jack Warner did with Boris Karloff in The Walking Dead. A few years later Boris was over at Columbia doing The Man They Could Not Hang with the same resurrection type film theme.
Karloff is once again a misunderstood scientist experimenting just as he was experimented on in Frankenstein. Only Karloff was a corpse dug up for Colin Clive's experiment. In this film he's the scientist and he kills one of his students to bring him back. Only it doesn't work and he's up for murder in a state where they hang one.
Karloff was also resurrected in The Walking Dead and was exacting revenge on folks who did him wrong. Same here it's the 12 jurors, the judge, the DA, and the faithless girlfriend of his experiment subject Ann Doran. Only his daughter Lorna Gray stands by Karloff and she's having trouble grasping what's going on.
Although Karloff is both terrifying and pitiable as he is in some of his greatest horror roles. I liked The Walking Dead far better than this one. Karloff fans should approve though.
Nick the shepherd
Peter Breck goes into the sheep herding business when guest star Milton Berle loses them during a poker game quite deliberately. Even his lawyer brother Richard Long says that the note he signed in lieu of gambling debts is legal and binding.
After a while Berle and his little niece come to stay with the Barkleys to look after Breck's unwanted flock, but his standing among the cattle community is threatened and causing problems with Robert Fuller who is currently courting Linda Evans.
This was a nice episode and big kudos to Milton Berle who delivers a fine performance without a trace of his comic shtick.
Shot in the Dark (1933)
A sleuthing vicar
A 23 year old Jack Hawkins is the only name that Americans will recognize from Shot In The Dark. This is not by the way a prequel to the Pink Panther classic.
It is one of those old English murder mysteries with a little spoofing on the side. An elderly old miser who was no doubt a miserable creature his whole life does a will on phonograph where he says he will be murdered by one of his greedy grasping relatives. Guess what, he is done in, but by whom?
Lots of suspects including Hawkins boyfriend of the deceased's niece. A sleuthing vicar happens by and solves all.
We called these B pictures, over across the pond they were quota quickies. It's got everything an English murder mystery requires including secret passages.
They've done worse. Average for its type of film.