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writers_reign

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2564 reviews in total 
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Salome (1953)
Heads Up, 27 July 2014
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Had the director credit read Ed Wood and not, as it does, William Dieterle, I would have thought it one of Wood's worst efforts. How anyone involved would want to include this debacle on their CV is beyond me. In its favour we do get some film buffs treasures; Basil Sydney, looking as though he wandered onto the wrong soundstage while shooting Hamlet and wondering why he is suddenly in the wrong costume; Cedric Hardwicke, slightly aloof and apart, as if he is being filmed against the blue background that wasn't available at the time; a pair of gorgeous hams in Charles Laughton and Judith Anderson, chewing not only the scenery on their own set but also that on adjacent sound stages, and, of course, Stewart Granger, supercilious as ever, barely managing to conceal his built-in arrogance. This leaves Rita, alone, isolated, getting no help whatsoever from the rest of the cast, still managing to shine and glow in a meaningless cause.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Shutter-eye Land, 26 July 2014
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I don't watch too many documentaries but on this occasion I was swayed by several favourable reviews. Maloof is shrewd enough to opt for a title that although ultimately misleading (we don't really 'find' Vivian maier) is a serviceable 'hook' designed to catch the odd floating viewer. If, as Maloof does, we divide the footage in two, with one half spent interviewing people who met, knew, or were nannied by the elusive Maier, and the other wallowing in what can only represent a handful of the literally thousands of photographs she left behind then the photos win hands down and more than justify the film. A great part of its left-handed, quirky charm is that virtually all the interviewees are a tad off-centre, not unlike, of course, Maier's favourite subjects.

Saboteur (1942)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Alas, Kane Isn't Able, 24 July 2014
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Peter Viertel and Dorothy Parker are not two writers I would automatically team up although individually both are excellent, so much so that they were the selling point on this piece of cheese. I have a life-long aversion to Hitchcock, not because he is inept - he knows, for example, that one removes the lens cap before exposing any film, and which direction to point the camera in order to capture the actors going about their business. But probably ninety-nine per cent of the members of the Directors Guild know this much and they don't have critics genuflecting to them. In short, Hitch is a competent director, end of story, to mention his name in the same sentence as Orson Welles, Howard Hawks, Frank Capra, George Stevens, et al is a joke.

So, here we have Robert Cummins, just off Kings Row and acting like he's never even seen a film set. Talk about everyman, this guy, so far as we know, has neither mother, father, brother, sister, nor any kith or kin whatsoever and NO ONE FINDS THIS STRANGE. This is the one where lil' ol' Mr Innocent, just going about his business, gets implicated in an 'incident' and finds himself on the run. Same thing happened to Cary Grant in North By North West and darned if he didn't wind up on one of the Great Stone Faces in Dakota. Here, in the prototype, Cummins winds up in the Statue of Liberty. Originality anyone?

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Trencherman, 23 July 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The obvious question for the filmmakers responsible for this is: Why? Why give us yet another take on War Is Hell especially when the superior Paths Of Glory was still fresh in the mind and, perhaps more pertinently, when you can't bring anything new to the table and therefore seem content - if not happy - to trot out the same old clichés left over from Journey's End and All Quiet On The Western Front, the mud, the rain, the rats, the duck-boards, the bombardments, the soldiers-as-ciphers bit. All we can do now is vote on the acting which is adequate-to-good with Bogarde and Courtenay leading a company of Elstree-hardened veterans. Bogarde apparently was bitterly disappointed by the poor reception the film drew on its initial release but what, realistically, could he expect from what is essentially a photographed stage play which wallows in rather than attempting to erase its origins.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Victoria Cross, 22 July 2014
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a case of yer pays yer money yer takes yer choice. If you have a penchant for Victorian melodramas a la Gaslight then this should be right down your street. The source material is a story by W.W. Jacobs, best known for The Monkey's Paw, and it's the one about the chancer who marries for money and slowly poisons his wife. Alas, a servant in the household is on to him and blackmails him to elevate her position. She has to go too, of course, but suffering a touch of the Lord Lucans he kills the wrong girl, strengthening the position of housemaid Simmons. Meanwhile he lines up affluent Belinda Lee and hatches a plot to make it seem that Simmons has been poisoning him. Pure hokum not made more palatable by a wooden performance by Bill Travers that has to be seen to be believed. Ham Peter Bull phones in a turn as Crown Prosecutor and William Hartnell turns up as another blackmailer. Nothing, alas, can save it.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
'ang abaht ..., 22 July 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is something of a mish-mosh all round, not least with a title that leads a potential audience to believe it is about a condemned man waiting to take the eight o'clock walk to the gallows and whilst it is true that the protagonist is accused of and stands trial for murder he is in fact acquitted. Director Lance Comfort made a handful of interesting films like Hatter's Castle, Bedelia and such but laid a colossal egg when entrusted with Portrait of Clare and was somewhat persona non grata ever afterward, mostly making do with TV fodder and the odd title like this one. For some reason Dickie Attenborough had a penchant for importing US actresses to appear opposite him; in The Angry Silence it was Pier Angeli and here it is Cathy O'Donnell. In fact the cast is one of the most interesting aspects of this with appearances by Kynaston Reeves, Victor Maddern etc plus in-vogue Derek Farr improbably unmasking the real killer a la Perry Mason. Worth a look as a curio.

Warlock (1959)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Son Of A Witch, 21 July 2014
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film adaptation of John Van Druten's stage success Bell, Book, And Candle was released around the same time as this oddly-named Western and chances are that several moviegoers who had seen Jack Lemmon playing a warlock (male witch) in BB&C thought they were in for more of the same. Far from it; Warlock is simply the name of the town that forms the setting, a town more or less terrorised by a local gang led by Tom Drake of all people - yep, The Boy Next Door himself, who also played Richard Rodgers in Words and Music. When enough finally becomes too much the townsfolk hire a pro, Henry Fonda, to restore law and order. On paper you couldn't find a simpler plot but in reality the film is bristling with sub-text and psychological overtones, not least the complex relationship between Fonda and his side-kick Anthony Quinn, outlaw-turned-lawman Richard Widmark's equally complex relationship with his own brother and this is before Dorothy Malone shows up harbouring all kinds of resentment against both Fonda and Quinn one or both of whom offed a man she was about to marry. In short this is a heady wine, a rich broth with fine performances from the likes of DeForest Kelly, Frank Gorshin, Wallace Ford to say nothing of the principles. Well worth a second look.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Fanciful Dreamer, 21 July 2014
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It is, of course, no mere coincidence that the favourite song of Walter Mitty is Beautiful Dreamer given the amount of time he spends day-dreaming. This original screen version of a celebrated short story by James Thurber is light-years ahead of a second version starring Ben Stiller and released last year. Coming up to seventy years old it still retains both charm and zaniness and boasts a remarkable performance from Danny Kaye. No truer to the story than the remake - in the Thurber story Mitty was a hen-pecked husband rather than a son - the dream sequences in which Mitty sees himself as a sea captain, surgeon, riverboat gambler, British flying ace, and a milliner with his own song - are fine compensation and segue neatly into the real-life dangerous situation in which he becomes embroiled. It's difficult to visualise anyone other than Kaye in the role, especially in 1947 when there wasn't really any other actor who could have handled the Symphony For Unstrung Tongue, one of the two pieces of 'special material' written by Kaye's wife, Sylvia Fine (the other piece was, of course, Anatole of Paris). Definitely worth a look.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The Gentile Gunman ..., 21 July 2014
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

... would have been a more appropriate title for this dire effort in which even genuine Irishmen like Joseph Tomelty contrive to sound 'stage' oirish and the majority of the cast including the two leads are from Canada, Scotland, USA and England. In 1952 the IRA were relatively 'quiet' so it's difficult to know exactly who the film was targeting. Bogarde and Mills are about as convincing as Irishmen as Morecambe and Wise would convince as Latvians and as for accents Arthur Mullard could get closer to Noel Coward than they do to Barry Fitzgerald. Elizabeth Sellers was a fine actress on both stage and screen and this has to be without doubt the worst project in either medium with which she was ever associated. Should it ever be remade the only possible title would be Carry On Freedom Fighting.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Malteaser Falcon, 19 July 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I got up at dawn to catch a 6.10 TV screening of this strictly as a Chandler buff. I had long known of it, of course, but never seen it. I had also heard of the Falcon franchise and it seemed reasonable that the Chandler novel would require amendement in order to accommodate whatever format the Falcon series had established. In the event it proved to be a melange: the first obvious discrepancy was the locale, Chandler's Los Angeles had been shipped intact to New York, presumably the established stanping ground of the Falcon; bizarrely half the characters retained Chandler's names - Moose Malloy, Jesse Florian, Ann Riorden, Jules Amthor, but others had been altered slightly - Laird Brunette became Laird Burnett, Lindsay Marriott became Quincey Marriott - or totally - the femme fatale was no longer Mrs Grayle but someone totally fictitious. Whilst Chandler's Marlowe was not above cracking wise with low-key dialogue here The Falconh's sidekick, Allen Jenkins, goes out for blatant laffs and even James Gleaso's detective employs a serial catch-phrase to his own clearly retarded side-kick. For 65 minutes it's not as bad as it might be. That same year, a second Chandler novel, The High Window, was also given the business as Time To Kill, another I have yet to catch up with.


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