Reviews written by registered user
|113 reviews in total|
L.O.T.R. (Redmen) aka 'Last Of The Redskins' was a postwar effort in
'B' adventure by Columbia Pictures. Featuring Cinecolor, a alternative
to the more expensive (and beautiful) 3-Strip Technicolor. The plot was
the reworking and simplification of 'The Last Of The Mohicans'.
Eliminating several Action Sequences, Characters and Plot Elements. In
other words, emasculating some of the best parts of the Film/Novel.
The most positive thing could be said about the Film is the curious casting. Columbia borrowing from other Studios, Jon Hall, Evelyn Ankers, Julie Bishop and Buster Crabbe with the quality Director Vincent Sherman. With the short running time of 79" being the films only other merit. Unfortunately being a Columbia feature and Produced by Sam Katzman you know it would be done on the cheap. The cheapness would continue in further Adventure Epics, but the leads would evolve to Paul Henreid, Cornel Wilde and John Derek.
A better watch would be 'The Last Of The Mohicans' (1936) a Edward Small Production or the 1992 version featuring Daniel Day-Lewis as HAWKEYE. The most complete version of T.L.O.T.M. was a BBC T.V. Serial in 1971 shown in the U.S.A. on Masterpiece Theater. Though largely Studio bound it was a dedicated and sincere production. So take a pass on L.O.T.R. and view the suggested three (3).
Women has three (3) adorable Baby-Boys, then becomes a Widow. Her
Sister in Law helps her raise them, but they do not get the results
expected. Instead they get a triplet of alleged Men, who act like
irresponsible spoiled Children. Treating their Mother not with love and
respect, but as another housemaid and somebody to put a touch on. Will
they grow-up and meet their responsibilities to Mother and Country,
watch and find out.
'B' film from Warner Brothers features good cast. Irene Rich (Mother), Marjorie Rambeau (Sister in Law) and Moroni Olsen (Mothers Suitor) with Wayne Morris, William T. Orr and Tom Brown as the loser Sons. They all fulfill what is expected of them and Warner Brothers delivers a fine small film for Family viewing. Not a classic, but illustrates what the studio system did right. Made just before our entry into the BIG ONE (WWII) it is topical for the time. One other cast member, though underused does make a impression, Susan Peters. Who would go on to a successful, if brief career at M.G.M.
This could/should have been a break-out role for Bruce Cabot (Robert
Webster/Bat Williams, Criminal) just like the PUBLIC ENEMY (1931) was
for James Cagney. Cabot though already had his chance in KING KONG
(1933) and by 1936 had firmly established himself as a dependable
character actor. In this film he does show he had more to offer and was
particularly effective as a murderous sociopath.
Webster/Williams has two (2) lives, as Webster respected engineer and Son of John Webster (Lewis Stone) pillar of society. Then as Williams a criminal mastermind who uses the parole system to duck in and out of prison at his convenience. John Webster is finally confronted by the truth just prior to his Daughters Wedding, Mildred Webster (Betty Grable). Webster/Williams once more gets off, black-mailing his Father now on the Parole Board, though trying for one more BIG SCORE meets his undoing.
At 65" the film moves right along at a quick pace and would not disgrace the efforts over at WARNER BROTHERS. RKO being very efficient and turning out these programmers needed in filling out its release schedule and theater chain. Also to cover expenses for such flops as MARY OF Scotland. A film that cemented Katherine Hepburn for being 'Box Office Poison' through the balance of the 1930s.
HURRICANE ISLAND (1951) is another in a series of mediocre Pirate Films
churned out or released through Columbia Pictures. Non of which is
going to make you forget about CAPTAIN BLOOD, THE SEA HAWK or THE BLACK
SWAN. This one is not up to the level of those that usually featured
Paul Henreid. Here we have Jon Hall as Capitan Carlos Montalvo and
Marie Windsor, Pirate Queen Jan Bolton.
The objective, the 'Fountain Of Youth' on the island of Florida. Capitan Montalvo wants it to restore the health of Ponce de Leon. Pirate Bolton and her Buccaneers want the alleged Gold. In the way, the indigent People, Indians, some wanting peace the others war. Who will win out, watch it and see. There is a Hurricane at the end of the film. If you expect it to be a spectacle, look somewhere else. There is NO John Fulton, Gordon Jennings or Fred Sersen masterminding the SFX here. Forget the musical score also. Largely recycled from the Humphrey Bogart WWII actioneer SAHARA.
Poor Mr. Hall and Ms. Windsor. Both had successful careers with the major and 2nd tier studios from the late 1930s through 1940s. This is quite a step down for them. Both would find more rewards, both financially and professionally, in the new medium of Television in the 1950s.
The setting could have been the OLD WEST or a Prohibition Gangster
film, the plots are that interchangeable. Instead we have the great
North-West territory of Alaska at the beginning of the 20th Century.
The formula, a standard one for the 1930s, two Friends from similar
back-rounds in Childhood. Upon maturity both come to a fork in the
roads one going for the 'fast buck' the other wanting to build a new
Casting George Raft as Tyler Dawson assured that his character was going to take short-cuts. That left Henry Fonda's Jim Kimmerlee as the forthright and upright Friend. Each has a girl reflecting their respective temperaments. Dawson's Nicky Duval, Dorothy Lamour with a questionable background and good girl, Diane 'Di' Turlon, Louise Platt. Daughter of Windy Turlon, John Barrymore and with a name like 'RED' Skain you knew Akim Tamiroff was going to be up to no good.
The fight is over the annual Salmon run. 'RED' and Tyler just wanting to skim off others hard work. Jim and his Friends form a Vigilence Committee and with 'Harp Guns' at the ready do battle with the FISH PIRATES. Plenty of action, scenery with skillful directing by Henry Hathaway. Seldom seen now it was often shown on the old AMC. Available on DVD, good print, but NO extras, not even subtitles for the hard of hearing. Ask your library to order this one it is worth the viewing. Though John Barrymore was slipping into a caricature of himself and no longer 'The Great Profile'.
We have seen almost every interpretation of Moses and the Exodus. Film,
Made for T.V. Movie even the Animated effort(s) and the question
remains why did they bother?! There is only one (1) version worth
watching and it is shown every year around Easter/Passover on the ABC
Network. Cecil B. DeMille's THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, Paramount (1956).
Better yet, buy it on DVD and get both his versions.
Yes, we know all the faults of the film. A presentation suitable for a early 20th Century Stage melodrama. SFX that could/should have been tighten up. Plus some over the top acting, but that ignores the positives. Egypt looked like a powerful EMPIRE, which it was. Not some back-water mono-chromatic third world state. When GOD struck down with its POWER, you knew IT meant business. Rameses was a Rat, Nefretiri a over sexed nymphomaniac and Moses true to the Lord, without the second guessing introspective.
What you get in MOSES is a wimp, who whines about doing the Almighty's will. Weasly Hebrews who are not worth saving and SFX which would have been better done in the 1935, let alone in 1995! Plus a musical score which is not forgettable, but not even noticed. It takes more then a strong cast to make a great film. It takes a Director/Producer that loves the subject matter. There is no doubt that DeMille filled the bill in both matters.
After some minor, but impressive roles James Stewart was handed the
lead in SPEED (1936). A typical 'B' programmer that the Major Studios
used for actors to work the 'kinks' out before they were moved on to
major projects. In this one Stewart plays TERRY MARTIN a talented test
driver and inventor from the wrong side of the tracks. That means he is
loaded down with all sorts of class warfare hang-ups that was supposed
to endear him to the mid 1930s audiences. Actually in the 21st Century
he just comes off as a ASS!
MARTIN is working on a new SUPER CARBERATOR with his side-kick 'Gadget' Haggerty (Ted Healy). He duels for creative control with Frank Lawson (Weldon Heyburn) educated engineer and top intellect of the company and also for the romantic interest of Jane Mitchell/Emery (Wendy Barrie). 'Jo' Henderson (Una Merkel) wants Lawson, but just does not know how to go about it. Fear not, true love will conquer in the end and automotive innovation, money and success will follow, with a happy ending.
The idea of a engineering miracle invention like the SUPER CARBERATOR was a typical one in the 1930s. Whether for Automobiles or Aero-Planes it promised a revolution in performance. Either by stretching a gallon of gas to a 100 miles or promising speeds (in the air) in excess of 500mph. The movies though were on the wrong track. In Germany and Sweden, fuel injection was shown as the way to go, not carburetors. Don't think so, just look under the hood of your Car!
The fifth (5th) service is featured in this 1939 effort from Columbia
Pictures, the COAST GUARD. This is the one that is constantly on patrol
in the air and/or sea to safeguard those who underestimate the dangers
on the water. In war it falls under the command of the U.S.N. and has
proved just as effective at deterring our enemies.
COAST GUARD features a typical love triangle featured in the 'Golden Age' of Hollywood. Used constantly in both 'A' or 'B' efforts like this. The objective, Nancy Bliss (Frances Dee) attractive Grand-Daughter of Tobias Bliss (Walter Connelly). Whose Ship is in distress and rescued by Lt. Raymond 'Ray' Dower (Ralph Bellemy). Enter Thomas 'Speed' Bradshaw (Randolf Scott) and his side-kick O'Hara (Warren Hymer). Represnting the more glamorous Air branch of the service.
Now as expected 'Ray' does not stand a chance against 'Speed', Nancy quickly setting her cap for him and succeeding in marriage. 'Speed' though cannot break old habits which leads to a estrangement. Fear not, a improbable Artic Rescue of 'Ray' allows true love to triumph in the end, with the couple reunited.
Poor Ralph Bellemy, he started off strong with RKO in the early 1930s, but even then, when it came to getting the girl he struck out. If it was not Bruce Cabot or Gary Grant it was somebody else. This was one of the last roles for Walter Connolly who a year later would die (05/28/1940). Warren Hymer's career was spiraling down and he to would go just nine years later (03/25/1948). Bellemy, Dee and Scott would continue on for another two Decades or more.
Wartime Serial from Universal, ADVENTURES OF THE FLYING CADETS (1943)
was clearly aimed solely at the youth market. The plot is particularly
predictable, most of it given away in Chapter One! Even a six (6) year
old back then would have figured out that THE BLACK HANGMAN or
'Schwarze Henker' was Arthur Galt, Robert Armstrong with a bad German
accent. This was pointed out by Kurt Von Heiger/Corby played by
perennial bad-man Eduardo Ciannelli. The objective of our hero's is
prevent those NAZI's from obtaining the precious HELIUM from a mine in
Africa. This is accomplished in 13, somewhat thrilling chapters.
Each chapter though gets you moving with the jaunty song 'Here Comes The Air Cadets'. Air Cadets being a better rhythm for the lyrics then 'Flying Cadets'. There is no prologue recap between chapters, just a repeat, then on to the next adventure. Though not in the League with the FLASH GORDON franchise or BUCK ROGERS it is still a enjoyable ride. The young leads all former 'Child Stars' on the minor league level perform as expected. They are backed up by quality character actors. Most who would be appearing in 'A' or 'B' efforts at the major studios. Though half seemed to get killed off in the first chapter.
Our copy from ALPHA VIDEO came via the local flee market for $02.00. Which we feel was a good deal and what it is worth. There copy seems to come from a combination of transfers from film and video, but you can hear it and see it clearly. Remember 'digitally remastered' does not mean 'digitally restored'. Universal during the War years invested less and less in its Serial output and there would be only ten (10) more before it was discontinued. There efforts at this time were no way equal to those of REPUBLIC, but were way ahead of COLUMBIA. Now those were really bad!
Quicky 'B' picture (61") featuring now 2nd tier Stars of WARNER
BROTHERS (W.B.). Lyle Talbot and Ann Dvorak were first rate Stars in
the early days of the Sound-Era at the W.B. By 1934 they had fallen out
of favor with Jack Warner, head of production at the Studio. Mr. Talbot
because of his involvement with the Actors Labor movement. Ms. Dvorak
because She felt over-used in trite material, complained too much and
would not play casting-couch politics.
MURDER IN THE CLOUDS (1934) is another of those Aerial Adventures all the studios cranked out, with RKO leading the pack. This time a new 'secret explosive' must be shipped by air too our Government. What is needed is crack pilot 'Three-Star' Lyle Talbot. '3'Star is waylaid by enemy agents, the explosive stolen and Judy Wagner's (Dvorak) Brother is killed along with the Government Agents. Have no fear, with the help of Wings Mahoney (George Cooper) taking time off from 'comedy relief' both the explosive and Judy are rescued. The Villains meeting their just rewards.
Talbot's '3'Star is the typical overbearing ASS that was passed off as a 'hero' in that era. All of his irresponsible actions are forgotten and glossed over in the last reel. Dvorak only needs to look good and hit her mark, which She has no problem in doing. The Villains, Gordon 'Weasel' Westcott and ever dependable Russell Hicks are particularly ruthless. The murder of the Agents and Judy's Brother is merciless and as cold-blooded as you can imagine, told in flash-back. The film shows up on TCM and can be picked up either through www.oldies.com or at your local flee-market. Where I got my copy.
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