Reviews written by registered user
|61 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of the episodes of this great series that I remember quite well. Granny narrates the story of how the Lowery gang stole the silver dollars as we see film of it happening, with the edges blurred as though we were looking back through the mists of time! Very well done.Quite a scene as Granny is horrified to find that someone has been rifling through her father's old cowhide trunk, which she never wanted to see opened again, noticing that some papers were missing. Ironically she had removed her father's old Colt single action already, since she needed a gun. And when Penny decides to fix the cracked grip, she finds a map leading to the treasure! By the way, the treasure involves 50,000 brand new silver dollars from the Denver mint stolen in 1895.The Denver mint didn't begin coining operations until 1906!
This is an interesting curiosity, as are so many films from the transition to sound.The "Canary" Murder Case was S.S.Van Dine's second in the Philo Vance series, and one of the best. It is a pity that they didn't follow the book more closely, and especially the character of Vance more closely. William Powell is rather nondescript as Vance, sort of like a watered down Nick Charles, without the wit and erudition that made the books so popular.(Vance is often described as "insufferable", which is puzzling when you consider that the books about him were tremendous best sellers, Apparently the American public didn't consider him insufferable. He has often been called, "the finest American detective in the English tradition". A little ironic, since what is often called the "English tradition" was started by Edgar Allen Poe in his C. Auguste Dupin stories). Actually the person who came closest to the true Vance was Warren William, but the character was never really developed as opposed to the character of Sherlock Holmes. Which is probably why Vance never really took off as a movie character.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is a pity that the studio didn't change the name of the detective, because while William Powell is good in these movies, Philo Vance he is not. Eugene Palette is superb as Heath, and most of the other actors are good. It is extremely strange that Philo Vance, one of the most popular characters in American detective fiction, has been so universally trashed by critics. The hostility of contemporary critics, who gave the books grudging admiration, seems to have been the result of personal dislike of the author, who has been described by one as"the most fascinating UNLIKABLE man I ever met". It seemed that nobody loved Vance but the American public! Vance really was not a snob in the ordinary sense. Members of society came in for contemptuous remarks more often than not, and he liked and respected simple, unpretentious people, such as Heath.Vance could be described as an "American Lord Peter Whimsey", and very likely was partly based on that character. The same critics who like Whimsey hate Vance! Strange that the studios so altered Vance's character, because they thought that the public would resent Vance's erudition and "elitism", the same public that loved those quirky characteristics in the books! Had the studios made the movies more faithful to the books, they likely would have been more successful;as it was they never really caught on. As it is, this movie is a very good atmospheric murder mystery, well worth watching. With different casting(Warren William was the best Vance) and making the character more faithful to the books, it would be a real classic.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As many others have said, this is a bizarre and frightening movie about
dictatorship in America. It is amusing that Democrats said that Hammond
represented Hoover, while Republicans insisted that he resembled
Franklin Roosevelt. Actually he bore much more of a resemblance to
Warren G. Harding, who was a typical old time back slapping,ward
heeling politician only interested in gorging himself on graft once in
office. Some people have commented that the Secret Service would not
have let him drive the limousine.But things were much less tightly
controlled in those days.Even though his predecessor had been
assassinated, Theodore Roosevelt used to walk through the streets of
Washington to church every Sunday, with only one Secret Service man
walking twenty feet behind!
The main misapprehension which you see even in movie reviews of this, is that Hammond "reformed".It is pretty obvious that Hammond actually DIED in that auto crash. His body was "alive" in a vegetative state, but that is all. What happened is that some supernatural being merely used his body.A spirit? An angel? The Archangel Gabriel himself? Who knows. Whatever it was, it was not human. It was totally unemotional, acting with all of the cold logic and precision of a robot. And when its work was finished, it exited the now unneeded body, which finished dying. In its cold unemotionality it was in its way even creepier than Hitler.
This first episode in the series, which is obviously an imitation of "Peter Gunn", not just the jazz music but Slade's entire manner, in addition to the plain film noir atmosphere, has certain unlikely points. First, that the villains, after this clever heist of a huge sum in gold coin, seem amazingly ready to trust a total stranger. But the main fault is that they are equating a modern crime, passing counterfeit or stolen money, which usually has to be disposed of at a discount, with gold coin. All that you would have to do is MELT DOWN the coins, and the gold would be totally untraceable, and could be disposed of with no discount. It is as if they used a modern day crime plot and didn't bother to adapt it for an old west setting.
This really was an interesting and unusual show, quite a change from so much of the routine programming of that era. I suppose that the success of "Sea Hunt" made the idea of a series based on somewhat unusual occupations look like a good idea for a series. I remember one episode where some men were trapped by a cave-in in a tunnel, which was filling with water. The men on the outside used a bulldozer to push a large pipe with a cap on the end, not screwed tight with a wrench so that the men on the inside could remove it with their hands, through the soft cave-in to the inside.They knew that they would have to add another length of pipe, so they put another cap on the end the bulldozer pushed so as not to mess up the threads. Shows you how careful and realistic they tried to be down to the last detail. Great series, too bad it only lasted one season. Hope the episodes have not been lost.
I think that people make too much out of the supposed resemblance to "My Man Godfrey", in claiming that it is merely a "copy". "Godfrey" was not original itself. The basic idea was used many times before in books and plays, not to mention other movies. It is virtually impossible to come up with an idea that someone has not used before, nor is that really important. It is what you DO with a basic idea, how well you use it, that is more important.NOthing wrong with a "fresh variant" of an old idea. All of the actors are superbly cast, and succeed very well in making the best of their roles. As a COMEDY, I think that this is actually better than "Godfrey", which is often praised mainly because of its "social comment" aspects, how it looks at victims of the depression. But as pure comedy, I think that "Merrily" works better, non stop laughs. Clarence Kolb was an inspired choice, and is great in every scene, and Brian Aherne plays deftly off of Constance Bennet. And of course Bonita Granville and Billie Burke and Alan Mowbry and Patsy Kelly each contribute their own choice bits. All in all, a really funny movie, and after all, isn't that what you want from a comedy?
This is really a very entertaining old movie.The plot element has
whiskers on it, but that is subordinate to the aircraft footage anyway.
One thing about the plot which has fallen so far out of "style" as to
be incredulous to most people of today is the idea that Jack keeps his
word even though somebody misunderstands why he is doing something and
he looses their friendship. The idea of "honor" seems to be a totally
obsolete concept these days, hardly surprising in view of the "role
models people have, ie. politicians.
The footage of vintage planes, and the detailed shots of the airship are fascinating, and the Antarctic scenes are gruesomely realistic, though of course simulated. It certainly shows the harsh reality of exploration. And certainly the scene of the breakup of the airship is very realistic looking and dramatic. All in all, quite a change from the usual movie of the period.
The plot is certainly familiar from many other movies, notably "Tell it to the Marines". The old timer versus the cheeky new recruit. And of course the girl that the sergeant wants is actually in love with the recruit, who feels rotten about it because the sergeant has been so nice to him. But the characters are interesting, particularly Jack Holt's,the camaraderie is nice to watch and there is plenty of action, flying scenes and battle scenes,fascinating shots of old time airplanes, all of which make this a fun movie to watch, which after all is the important thing in a movie of this type.Very pleasant entertainment in spite of the sound problems.
I think that this movie has been very much underrated and over criticized.As far as they way the actors speak, it is simply not practical to give them all lessons in how people spoke in those days.And many of the audience would't understand a lot of the dialog. After all, movies about Rome aren't made with everyone speaking Latin. As far as the way Claire Trevor dressed, well there is plenty of evidence that women on the fringes of civilization often dressed "practical",particularly young tomboyish ones Some people have referred to George Saunders as a "villain". Which he is not,Brian Donlevy and his men are the villains. He does cause trouble by his obvious contempt for the "yokels", and his insistence of going strictly by the book. But there is no doubt that if he had known Donlevy was violating the law by carrying forbidden goods,misusing his permit, that he would have arrested him on the spot. That is the one weak point in the plot. If when the fort surrendered, instead of having the troops march out and grabbing Donlevy and his men, Smith had exposed the whiskey kegs in the flour barrel and other frauds, the farmers could have left the fort and left Saunders in charge. Once Saunders had seen that Donlevy had deceived General Gage, and was desecrating the Royal permit in that way, he would never have protected the culprits.He was an honorable man, just stiff necked. He would have swallowed his pride and done his duty. This is a rousing movie about its times,and well captures the spirit that the colonials showed in those last days before the Revolution,and I think that it should not be judged too harshly on some of its technical shortcomings.
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