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A significant episode
After a chance encounter, James and Diana Newberry strike up a passionate relationship.
It's very believable. As always, Diana is gorgeous -- I for one find her far more attractive than Hazel was. James says at one point that he regrets choosing Hazel over Diana. I think back then (about ten years earlier) James saw Diana as a bit scary and Hazel as safe. Now, their brief fling creates problems with Richard, and Bunny too when he finds out.
I won't reveal here how it turns out. But the whole episode provides a revealing look at James's character and what's become of his life postwar. Highly recommended.
Not to be missed
With a bit of a lull in late summer 2015, with Mad Men over and a few months to go for Downton to start again (here in the US), my wife and I decided to watch all of Upstairs, Downstairs again. Ten years ago we watched the entire opus, and I wrote then on a review here that the series is the finest thing that's ever been on television. A bold statement. What about now, after so many good series, what would we think?
You can tell that the actors and writers were feeling their way, getting settled in during the first couple shows. The episode previous to this was very good.
Then this one. I vaguely remembered the main plot element, an affair of Marjorie's, but that's all.
Wow. Absolutely superb. It adds to the enjoyment that I'm a fan of Keats and the opera scene that is the backdrop near the end. Profoundly deep, so very real. A pure 10. Not to be missed.
Not my daughter's Nancy Drew
This is the first of these Nancy Drew movies I have seen, having just watched it on TCM.
In general, I love movies from the 1930s, but this one was disappointing. When my daughter was growing up, I read to her every night, and often read a Nancy Drew mystery. It would usually take at least a week to finish one. They were quite good juvenile fiction, intriguing and suspenseful.
This movie has a totally different feel and tone. It is basically a comedy with a mystery subplot. Most of the characters are just silly compared to those in the books, especially Nancy, "Ted" (what's wrong with "Ned"?), and the police chief.
It got better once the staircase was discovered, and the last ten minutes or so was clever and entertaining. But still, I would much rather have a story faithful to the novels.
Foyle's War: The Hide (2010)
Somewhat Contrived End to the Series
I love Foyle's War. It is one of the finest series ever developed for television, with a great setting, excellent mysteries, appealing characters, and fascinating history to learn on the side.
This episode was evidently to be the last one. Foyle has finally retired and is preparing to go to America, when he takes a deep interest in the trial of a traitor named James Devereaux recently returned from Germany. Coincidently (?) a young woman is murdered in the nearby town of Brighton. She was renting a room in a house owned by someone who spent many years working for James Devereaux's father, a very wealthy and important man. Hmm.
I guessed the reason for the strange intense interest Foyle had in Devereaux; that was a very nice touch. The plot reminds me very much of many of those written by the great mystery writer Ross Macdonald. As in his stories, the present day evil stems largely from an act committed a generation ago.
I like many other parts of the story, including the side plot with Sam, but couldn't help noticing some plot holes.
** spoilers below ***
- Mrs. Ramsay has been renting a room to Agnes for some months, and recognizes the picture frame when Milner shows it to her. Yet she had not recognized in those months the face of someone she knew well -- James Devereaux.
- Jack Stanford is a fake, yet he essentially "rejoins" MI5 when he gets back to England, and no one there recognizes that he is a fake. Really?
- I find it just unbelievable that James would commit suicide and betray himself by not explaining his actions. That he was doing this to punish his father just doesn't make sense.
- What's with that sudden explosion in the house/hotel that Wainwright owned? Talk about a deus ex machina. Don't have to worry about selling or fixing up the place now!
The plot has been summarized by other reviewers, so I won't go into much detail on that.
As are most of the early Perry Mason TV episodes, this one was based on a book by the same name. Unusually, the TV episode is much better than the book, which is too complicated and has people doing extremely unlikely things.
In the interest of time if nothing else, a number of the features of the book had to be removed or changed. Here, only one check for $2500 is delivered to Mason's office (not two) to start the story. Here, the stepdaughter is younger and more innocent than she is in the book. Here, the client (Mrs. Allred) is more willing to talk to Mason and is more straight forward.
But the essential features are the same: Allred's right-hand-man, Fleetwood, feigns amnesia after a blow to the head because he knows too much about a crooked deal. Allred wants to tightly control him, maybe kill him, at least keep him from his partner (who does not appear at all in the TV episode). Allred, his wife, and Fleetwood go to a motel; they are not all there at the same time. Later there is a murder, and Fleetwood ends up not too far away at a cabin on a small ranch.
That brings us to probably the most interesting part of the plot: the map showing the tracks left in the soft ground at the ranch by various people, a car, and a dog. The district attorney says the tracks clearly show that Mrs. Allred is guilty. But Perry has another idea.
It is very well acted, with Della looking especially young and lively. Highly recommended.
a good complex episode
I love all the Foyle's War episodes that I have seen to date. This one is very good (of course), though not the best.
It is intriguing that for quite a while there seems to be no connection between the two main subplots. If the story has any fault, it is that it is too complicated. There are an awful lot of subplots, most of which are red herrings are not really so interesting. I did like the hint of a romantic interest for Foyle.
I also much appreciate each episode learning some history of how England got through these early war years. This episode we learn about the Women's Land army.
Foyle's War: Eagle Day (2002)
Too many threads in this one
I've been watching the first year of Foyle's War on DVD and am very impressed. Love the stories, love the characters, great acting, great sense of actually being there in the early days of the war in Britain.
But this one I do not like. It's too complicated! There are too many threads that just barely connect, and too many coincidences. I'm not going to say much more as I don't want to reveal any spoilers.
The story opens with the murder of a man who drives a truck (lory). It develops that he was hired to drive art masterpieces from a museum in London to a safe hiding place in Wales. But is that why he was murdered?
Immediately a second plot begins with Foyle's son Andrew flying some missions to help the RAF test its radar. It was neat to see how important radar was to the success of the British air force. I do love the history that one learns in these stories. But Andrew soon gets into some trouble with his superiors at this secret base. It seems to have something to do with an old college friend of his, who apparently is being shadowed by someone. Who? And what has that to do with the art museum masterpieces?
Throw in another subplot about Samantha's father, and you've got quite a complicated story.
Dear Heart (1964)
Precursor of Mad Men?
This is an absolutely delightful romantic comedy. Like many others, I am amazed that I never heard of it before a few days ago, when it appeared on TCM. I recorded it (love that DVR) and watched it yesterday.
I agree with others who say that the acting of the two leads, Ford and Page was excellent. So too was that of the supporting characters Lansbury and Nichols. But the many fine small touches stand out too. I loved seeing the old Penn Station in New York, long since destroyed. I loved the look of the girlfriend of Ford's "son", with the hair style, clothes, and big glasses. That brings back some high school memories. The many fine little one-liner or throw-away jokes, such as "nice wig" or Ford: "I have a psychic thing;" Nichols: "I don't want to see it."
But even beyond that, I was amazed by the portrayal of the society and customs of 1963 New York. Shades of Mad Men! No, there were no Madison Avenue Ad executives, but the banter and casual sex displayed was an eye opener. I thought that all happened ten years later? Even the look and feel of Ford's character was remarkably like Don Draper. I seriously wonder if this movie was not an inspiration for Matthew Weiner when he created Mad Men.
An Early Gem
I have long been a fan of Perry Mason, both the books and the TV series. I remember the TV series fondly when I saw it in reruns as a young adult, and the books were my introduction to the mystery genre.
As others have written, this was the second filmed episode. It is closer to the early books in mood than most of the TV episodes. Della looks especially young and attractive. She playfully massages Perry's neck. Mason is himself playful, almost flirting, with one the the female leads whom he needs to get on his side. He almost playfully traps the murderer on the witness stand. You don't see that sort of thing (especially Mason smiling so much) later in the TV series, after it became a huge hit, and a bit formal, if not stodgy.
The early books have a pronounced film noir flavor, and this book is no exception. The TV episode is a very good representation of the book. Of course they had to abridge it somewhat, to make it fit into 53 minutes. They've left out some of the material about the niece, which makes one wonder, who has seen only the TV episode, why the title is the way is it. My major criticism of the TV episode is that the actor who portrays the murderer doesn't fit the part; it's poor casting. The result is a person who is hard to imagine as a murderer.
Still, a great 53 minutes of television.
a solid entry
Good acting and a pretty reasonable plot make for a good episode. I liked the Carol Delaney character. Veteran character actor Ken Lynch gives a good performance as an almost sympathetic character. No Hamilton Burger; the assistant DA is OK. The murderer was a bit too obvious, though the way the murder was done was a nice twist. There is not much use of Della or Paul Drake.
It's based on one of the best PM books by Gardner, one of his early ones. It concerns a young woman who may be the long lost granddaughter of a millionaire, if a certain bishop can be believed. Or is he just an impostor, a crook of some kind?
The book is a lot more complicated than this episode, and they changed some things about the bishop. If you can, read the book.