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a wow of a movie
I can only say about this film: OMG.
This is a Spanish film starring Mario Casas and Ana Wagener,
I have to say, I figured out the big twist but there are plenty of twists to go around.
A well-known Steve Jobs type (Casas), married with a young daughter, is having an affair with a photographer (Barbara Lennie). He has told his family he is going to Paris; instead, he has a rendezvous with her. On their way back home, they are in a car accident. The young man (Inigo Gastesi) in the other car seems to be dead.
I am going to leave it there and just say if you like this kind of thriller, this is a MUST SEE. It is INCREDIBLE.
Sonja: The White Swan (2018)
too much in a short time
Sonja Henie's life is the subject of a biopic, Sonja, The White Swan, from 2018.
The film moves pretty quickly through Sonja's life - a little too quickly.
Henie was an innovator in the skating world and a tough cookie, but there isn't enough of her young life to show how her personality developed. She was an aggressive, unpleasant, greedy woman from a very early time.
Consider that during one Olympics, she ripped up the piece of paper that posted the results of a close competitor and then got the position of skating last, while her colleague performed second, giving Henie a big scoring advantage. We could have used more in the way of that type of thing, in her early skating as well as family dynamics.
The main focus seems to be her career and her strong libido. There is one graphic scene with Tyrone Power (Gustavo Rojo) - this was a passionate sexual relationship, as evidenced by their letters to one another published in her brother's book. Rojo was cleverly photographed - profile, and in shadow where only his eyes were shown, so he did resemble Power.
However, while the casting people were careful casting and photographing Power, they apparently couldn't have cared less about Sonya. In real life, she was petite and looked like a peasant, though cute. Here she's tall, leggy, and is a cross between Cate Blanchett and Gillian Anderson.
We see some skating scenes, her success in ice shows, and then the winding down of her career. The film tells the story of her disastrous foray into ice shows without a business partner, but neglects to mention she did skate in Europe with great success before the disaster in Rio. Due to drinking, she lost a lot of her ability.
Sonja, the White Swan also focuses on her relationship with her assistant, Connie, who is fictional. She does become estranged from her brother, depriving him of his livelihood so she can have more money. It's not clear in her real biography if Niels was a family friend or someone she met later - in the movie, they were children together. In the film, he comes to dislike her. Obviously not true in real life.
The movie also focuses on her relationship with Hitler and the big Nazis.
It was a lot to pack in, and for me it was too episodic. The best part is the very end when they show the real Sonja skating, a scene with Tyrone Power, and photos of her in her later life.
Ine Marie Wilmann is an excellent actress and gave Henie the glamor she had in real life, as well as showing her nasty side.
Henie was a beautiful skater at a time when athletics weren't the main focus - she was fast, had great spins, and her toepick work was notable. She was a delightful presence on the ice. Elsewhere, not so much.
Bunny O'Hare (1971)
Davis and Borgnine as elderly robbers
I'm not sure if this was a feature or a TV movie. It came off like a TV movie.
It's cute. Davis plays Bunny O'Hare, a woman whose house is not only foreclosed on, but demolished. She hooks up with Bill (Borgnine) who goes around collecting toilets and sells them in Mexico. She finds out he was a bank robber, and he's wanted, so she asks him to teach her the robbing ropes.
The two deck themselves out as hippies and motorcycle around robbing banks. The only reason Bunny is robbing banks is to help her kids - her daughter's husband is an ex-butcher trying to get back into the meat business, but he doesn't want to cut liver - he needs intensive therapy. Her son (John Astin) is a playboy who tells her he has business plans but in reality is a gambler in constant trouble with loan sharks. This is what she's wasting her time on.
Jack Cassidy has a cartoony role as a police lieutenant who would be brought up on charges in the #metoo movement. He speaks for the adults - he hates, hates hippies Nixon, another lover of my generation, adorns his walls - with Agnew.
This film had potential but really misses the mark. Davis and Borgnine are very good - she's quite subdued in the role. Borgnine is very sweet as her partner in crime. I did like the ending. However, if this wasn't a TV movie, it should have been.
Man on the Run (1949)
famous people in small roles at the beginning of their careers
"Man on the Run" is interesting for several reasons.
One is the postwar atmosphere in England and the problem they had with deserters, many of whom were on the run and resorting to crime. Here in the U. S., 21,000 people were charged and sentenced for desertion during World War II - 49 were sentenced to death, but only one sentence was carried out.
Although over 21,000 American soldiers were given varying sentences for desertion during World War II, including 49 death sentences, Slovik's death sentence was the only one that was carried out.
The main character in this is Peter Burden (Derek Farrar). After four years in the service, he needed extra time on his leave because his sister was dying. He was refused and stayed with her anyway.
Peter is in hiding when approached by someone who knew him, a Corp. Newman (Kenneth More, in a small part). Newman wants blackmail money; instead, Peter takes off.
When Peter tries to pawn his gun, the pawnshop is robbed at the same time by two men. The police think it's three. He is being chased through the streets when he runs into an apartment building. There he meets a widow, Jean Adams (Joan Hopkins) who agrees to help him. She hides him and lets him stay at her place.
Peter knows certain distinguishing features of one of the men and feels if he could just find him, the police would learn of his innocence. By a series of circumstances, the police zero in on Jean, so she and Peter take off to a friend's place out of London.
The chase continues, and it's Jean who actually sees someone in a cafe that she thinks is one of the robbers.
Too many coincidences in the story, but the actors are likeable, and you do pull for both of them.
Not only did More appear, but all during the film, I kept thinking one of the police detectives looked like Laurence Harvey. That's probably because it was Laurence Harvey.
Sparkling Cyanide (2003)
can't remember the book so I'll just review the film
I read all of the Agatha Christie books so many years ago, that I actually don't know how Sparkling Cyanide was changed. I will say I haven't liked a lot of Christie adaptations.
I happen to like the actors in this one - Pauline Collins and Oliver Ford Davies, Susan Hampshire, Clare Holman, and Lia Williams, all of whom did a good job.
Collins and Davies play a Catherine and Geoffrey, a married couple who work secretly for MI5, telling their family they have other professions. When the young and beautiful wife (Rachel Shelley) of a prominent businessman dies after drinking a toast at a restaurant dinner, Catherine and Geoffrey are pressed into service.
There is a lot at stake, including the political career of one Stephen Farraday (James Wilby) who was present and perhaps was somehow involved. There are, however, plenty of suspects - the victim's sister, her aunt, her cousin, and some others who have to be checked out.
I thought this was pleasant. I have no understanding of producers and writers changing these Christie stories. This was okay but if you recall the book you'll probably loathe it.
The Courier (2020)
Benedict hits this out of the park
Benedict Cumberbatch stars with Rachel Brosnahan, Zelijko Ivanek, and Merab Nindze) in "The Courier" from 2021.
The film takes place around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Anyone who lived through it knows it was a terrifying time. MI6 receives correspondence from a Russian colonel, Oleg Penovsky, who has information that makes him concerned that Khruschev is about to start a nuclear war.
Two people from MI6 (Brosnahan and Ivanek) recruit a businessman, Greville Wynne (Cumberbatch) to go to Russia as part of his business and begin to build accounts there. That's all he has to do, and he's given a special tie clip to wear. This is so he can be recognized by the colonel (Nindze).
The two become friends, and set up a clever way so that Penovsky can slip him photos that Wynne brings back to the states. Wynne's frequent trips cause him problems at home with his wife and son. Meanwhile, the Russians have missiles in Cuba aimed at strategic spots in the U. S.
This is based on a true story, and this film has everything - great acting, suspense, drama, and one of the most incredible scenes ever filmed toward the end. Cumberbatch is brilliant. He has the most dramatic role and boy, does he live up to it. Merab Ninidze as his Russian contact is wonderful, and the two men have good chemistry together.
This film will stay with you after it's over.
A career-minded woman, Travelers Aid, and the Golden Gate Bridge
Kay Francis and George Brent star in "Stranded" from 1935, which features Patricia Ellis, Donald Woods, and Barton MacLane.
Francis plays Lynn Palmer, who works for Travelers Aid. And that's where the title of the film comes from. Brent plays Mac Hale, a construction manager for the Golden Gate Bridge who comes to her office looking for one of his workers, whom he thinks might have gone to Salt Lake. He falls for Lynn and the two start dating.
Problems arise when Hale wants to get married, but he also wants Lynn to give up her job. He considers helping "losers" ridiculous and doesn't think they deserve what she does on their behalf. At the same time, a protection racket is trying to get $5000 a month from him, and when he won't agree, starts infiltrating his workers with troublemakers.
This film was an eye-opener for me about Travelers Aid - what a great organization. Francis plays a social worker there - I don't know what I thought Travelers Aid was, but it apparently helps people who are lost, victims of sex trafficking, people with no place to sleep, etc.
Francis is wonderful playing a woman who is warm, compassionate, and efficient. She and Brent have a wonderful scene where she has to take a pregnant mother to the hospital - that's the first stop - and the second is to get foreign brides to their grooms, and the brides spend the trip giggling at Brent.
Brent plays a tough guy, and he does a great job.
Great footage of the Golden Gate Bridge in progress.
Very enjoyable film.
Leaving Neverland (2019)
one-sided, interviewing people who have changed their stories
Ok, I'll add my two probably unwelcome cents.
Believe it or not, I'm kind of new to this as far as the details of the stories, so I read up on it. Some of my info may be incorrect.
First off, let me say up front that the man has been dead nearly 12 years. Whatever happened or didn't happen is between him and his God.
Secondly, this enormously gifted man obviously had a few issues. Why would you let your kids stay at his house and go on trips with him, etc., if you didn't really know him? If someone asked me if my kid could sleep in their bed, and I said no, I'd be suspicious about receiving a diamond bracelet. Totally innocent or not, it's not wise.
Third, if I felt my child had been hurt or abused by someone, there isn't any amount of money in the world that would settle it. I would want that man's head on a spit. Why? Because I wouldn't want the person walking around able to molest someone else.
Fourth, again, if I felt my child had been hurt or abused by someone, and charges were filed and the person went to trial, why would I tell my kids to lie? So he could go do it to someone else?
People get angry, they get outraged, they sit in judgement - again, of someone they don't know, but they don't think about it from a human standpoint.
If the man belonged in jail, he shouldn't have been able to buy someone off, and those kids shouldn't have lied in court. Or were they lying. Or are they lying now. Don't know. I just know he was very troubled and eccentric. Wouldn't leave my kids with him unsupervised.
Before I Say Goodbye (2003)
Sean Young stars in a real career killer, a Canadian TV movie, "Before I Say Goodbye," based on a Mary Higgins Clark novel. The film also stars Peter DeLuise Lloyd Bochner, and Winston Reckert. Reckert once starred in the series "Adderly," which was shown on American late-night TV in the '80s.
Young plays Nell, soon to be a candidate for her grandfather's (Bochner) seat in Congress. She's very close to her grandfather, having lost her parents in a plane crash when she was young.
Nell's husband Adam (Christopher Shyer) isn't happy about her decision to run, on top of which, he's a bad architect. Sadly the day the couple fights about her getting involved in a campaign, and later that day, he dies in a boat explosion. It wasn't an accident.
Nell is contacted by a woman whose husband also died in the explosion, Lisa Ryan (Ursula Karven) - she has found $50,000 among her husband's belongings. Was it a bribe, hush money? Neither woman knows, but they set out to get some answers.
There is a psychic (Claudette Mink) involved with both Nell and Lisa, and she is pretty convincing as she contacts Adam in a seance, telling Nell to get rid of his clothes. She donates them to the usual place, their church, but finds a safety deposit box key in one of his pockets. Then she finds a key for the same box in the home of Adam's secretary, Winifred, who was also killed. The search is on for Winifred's fiance, who might have some answers.
Just not good. Not only that, it's all over the place. The psychic, an investigation into bad business dealings, a property deal, a nefarious-seeming businessman, a run for Congress, everything but the kitchen sink.
I have to disagree with one of the reviewers who seems to be a fan of Sean Young. I'm not, and I'll leave it at that. However, I loved seeing handsome Winston Rekert.
This thing runs amok and finally ends, and the ending is pretty wild.
I'd skip it.
We'll Meet Again (2002)
Mary Higgins Clark but a new producer
Laura Leighton of "Melrose Place" fame stars in this 2002 film, We'll Meet Again, based on a Mary Higgins Clark novel. The film also stars Brandy Ledford, and Gedeon Burkhard - basically a Canadian cast.
Leighton plays Fran Silman, a young reporter who returns to her home town after a scandal caused her and her mother to move to New York. Her father was accused of stealing from a church fund and took his own life.
At the time of her return, a fellow high school student, Molly Lasch (Ledford) is released from prison after serving six years for the murder of her doctor husband. This was a plea deal arrived at during the trial. Everyone in the town believes her guilty though she has always insisted she is innocent. Fran's editor has asked her to do a story on the case.
Fran begins investigating the murder, believing her friend to be innocent. Along the way, she learns that another doctor was murdered within days of Molly's husband, and that both doctors were having an affair with the same woman, a nurse in the hospital.
Before long, there is another murder and several attempts on both Fran's and Molly's lives. There is also stonewalling, since the hospital is involved in negotiating a big merger with an HMO, and administrators are afraid of bad publicity for the hospital.
Either my values have gone south, or these Mary Higgins Clark movies are better than the ones produced by Grosso-Jacobson, many of which I've seen since I'll watch any mystery. True, as usual, it wasn't hard to figure out. Clark is no Agatha Christie. However, it didn't seem as slow, and it didn't have the Psycho music that accompanies these films.
The big problem with these films is that somehow, you always know who did it due to the dialogue or the acting. I think it's both.
Sealed Cargo (1951)
very good wartime drama
Dana Andrews, Claude Rains, Philip Dorn, and Carla Balenda star in "Sealed Cargo" from 1951.
Andrews plays a fishing boat captain, Pat Banyon. A woman (Balenda) begs for passage to her hometown - even though there really isn't room for her, Banyon agrees to take her.
After fighting an awful storm, Banyon and his team spot a ship that looks abandoned. They are cautious, since it's wartime, and it could be an enemy ship.
They do find one man on board, Captain Skalder (Rains) and learn that it is a Dutch ship. Skalder says that a German u-boat attacked the vessel. The crew abandoned ship or were killed.
Banyon says he will tow the ship back to port. However, the saga is far from over.
Like other reviewers, I'm surprised this RKO film didn't get more attention. It's atmospheric, suspenseful, and the end is extremely exciting. I would say the one drawback is throwing in a romance angle. Unnecessary.
If you get a chance, catch this one.
disappointing despite the cast
Zachary Scott stars with Louis Hayward, Sydney Greenstreet, Martha Vickers, and Diana Lynn in "Ruthless" from 1948.
Scott plays a man, Horace Vendig, who as a boy was taken in by a wealthy family. He falls in love with the daughter of the house (Lynn). However, we soon see that he's incredibly ambitious and does whatever he has to do to get ahead. If that means dumping Martha and going with someone else, he does it.
The way the film is done is fairly interesting. It starts really toward the end, and we see in flashback what has led to that moment - bit by bit, so that we really have to follow the story. So as someone pointed out, this is not your typical Poverty Row film.
For me the film was on the slow side. Also, it contained a lot of business talk which I couldn't follow. The other problem is, the boy Horace is played by Bobby Anderson, of It's a Wonderful Life and The Bishop's Wife fame, and he is a sympathetic, warm character. Suddenly he grows up and he's a spawn of the devil.
One final thing - Horace is supposed to be a swimming champion. Seems that went out the window along with his pleasant, grateful personality.
My Own True Love (1948)
Melvyn Douglas stars in "My Own True Love" from 1948, also starring Phyllis Calvert, Wanda Hendrix, Philip Friend, Binnie Barnes, Alan Napier, Arthur Shields, and Robert Walker.
Douglas plays Clive Heath, a lonely and somewhat reserved man. His son was taken prisoner, and at this point, Clive assumes he's dead. His daughter (Hendrix) introduces him to a fellow soldier, Joan (Calvert). It doesn't take long before they fall in love. Then, Clive learns that his son Michael (Friend) is in a hospital. His leg has been amputated. He doesn't seem anxious to start life again.
Eventually, though, Michael returns, walking very well with an artificial leg. He stays with his father, though they are somewhat estranged. Joan is staying with Clive, in another bedroom. He bonds with Joan, and she takes him to meet her friends from the war. He finds he can talk to them. His father, however, upon meeting them, doesn't really like them. Joan works to reconcile father and son, helping Clive to understand what his son suffered.
Michael falls in love with Joan, making the situation uncomfortable.
This is just an okay movie - it's slow, for one thing. Douglas plays an uptight, reserved man. He's always good, but the character isn't particularly likeable. Calvert is lovely and gives a sympathetic performance.
Odd movie, with the theme probably being adjusting to life at home after the war and dealing with new fitting into a family again.
The Last Crooked Mile (1946)
pretty good film from Republic
A bank robbery of $300,000 is a success, but all three robbers are killed in a car crash. And no one can find the money.
Private eye Tom Dwyer (Donald Barry, Republic's answer to Jimmy Cagney) inserts himself into the investigation mainly because the reward is 10% of the money.
The first order of business is to find the car, which is now an exhibit at an amusement park. Dwyer learns there has been some interest in purchasing the car. It seems evident that they think the money is somewhere, maybe not in the car, but as part of the car.
Eventually he meets a nightclub singer, played by Ann Savage. He asks for her help. Meanwhile, bodies keep showing up.
There were some interesting camera shots in this film, and the roller coaster scene was amazing, even though it's an obvious process shot. The dialogue is fast and somewhat suggestive in parts. There is some nice editing as well.
Barry's acting is very pleasant; I understand he was impossible to work with. It's too bad. Besides Savage, look for Sheldon Leonard, Irving Bacon, and Tom Dugan in smaller roles. Adele Mara is good as the woman constantly being stood up by Dwyer. Savage uplifts the entire film - great presence.
Hollywood Goes to Town (1938)
A big Hollywood premiere in the 1930s
This is a gorgeous mini-documentary about the premiere of "Marie Antoinette" in 1938. All the great stars were present. Norma Shearer was accompanied by Tyrone Power who never looked more glorious.
The film premiered at the Carthay Circle Theatre, with grounds around it a replica of a French garden. Fanny Brice, Judy Garland, Don Wilson, Freddie Bartholomew, John Barrymore, Elaine Barrie, Spencer Tracy and dozens of others attend.
Grandstands were set up for the fans. It looked like an exciting evening; we don't see anything like that nowadays.
Never Love a Stranger (1958)
I watched this to see John Drew Barrymore, whom I had never seen as an actor. The film also stars Steve McQueen, Lita Milan, and Robert Bray.
The premise is somewhat iffy. An orphan, Frankie Kane, raised in a Catholic orphanage, is found to be Jewish, so he has to be sent somewhere else. Someone asked on IMDb if this was true about the Catholic church. I have no idea. It seems to me if they could make someone a Christian, they would.
Okay, that aside, Frankie has Jewish friends, Martin Cabell (McQueen) and his sister Julie. Frankie protected Martin from some antiSemite teens, and Martin wants Frankie to teach him how to fight. Frankie also falls for Julie.
With the threat of being sent away, Frankie leaves town. He has had some contact with a gangster, Silk Fennell (Bray) before leaving. When he returns to town a hopeless bum seven years later, Bray brings him into the business. Bray is also by then involved with Julie, and she's singing in a nightclub.
Martin by now is a special prosecutor who is supposed to bring down the mob, and he wants Frankie to turn himself in. Problems ensue.
I think Frankie could have run away for another reason besides being Jewish - and I don't understand making the Cabells Jewish. It just made no sense to have that part of the story.
John Drew Barrymore, Drew's dad, John's son, was a good-looking man who reminded me of the actor Mark Goddard. He's pretty good in this. Unfortunately, he came to a bad end, and, thanks to him, his father came to a worse one.
Barrymore Sr. Had wanted to be cremated but at that time, Catholics couldn't be cremated. That law changed in 1963. Long story short, John Drew and a relative dug up Barrymore's body - after 38 years - and the leakage of body fluids nearly killed both of them. The fluids had formed a glue and attached it to the floor of the crypt, making it difficult to move, and the fluids continued leaking. John insisted on looking inside before his father was cremated and was completely freaked out.
Steve McQueen give an authoritative performance. R. G. Armstrong, a familiar face, is also in the film.
Not good - but it was written by Harold Robbins, and had I known that, I would have skipped it.
It Happened in Hollywood (1937)
I never liked Richard Dix, but after seeing It Happened in Hollywood from 1937, I have changed my mind.
The movie also stars Fay Wray. The film concerns a very important part of film history, the arrival of the talkies. Western silent screen star Tim Bart (based probably on Tom Mix) is a huge attraction for young kids everywhere. They belong to his special club, he visits them in hospitals - he is a great hero.
Tim's frequent costar is the beautiful Gloria Gay (Wray). She and Tim are in love, but neither one acknowledges it - it's possible Tim thinks she's too classy for him. Obviously she doesn't feel that way.
When talkies come in, westerns go that-away. Tim is now in formal attire, filming on a set - he's uncomfortable, he can't remember his lines - so the studio gets rid of him and keeps Gloria.
Tim gets into a bar fight at his favorite haunt and is spotted by a director who thinks he would be great as a gangster. He would be - but that would be letting down his kids. When push comes to shove, he won't do it.
One of his fans who was about to have surgery had promised to get well and visit Tim - and he shows up. Tim at this point is no longer a star, and he has no money. The boy falls off of Tim's horse and is put on bedrest - meaning that Tim can't send him back home (which I think is an orphanage or a special hospital).
Tim decides to call in a few favors, and it turns out, everybody is willing to help. He wants to throw a big party for the boy. He borrows his old ranch for the day. His friends provide food and music.
And the guests - the guests are movie star stand-ins and doubles, and some of them are remarkably like the originals: Joan Crawford, Irene Dunne, Loretta Young, W. C. Fields, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, John Barrymore, Greta Garbo, and Mae West, to name a few.
I won't spoil the end, but this is a fun, sweet, feel-good film. Dix is very likeable and natural, and Wray is her usual glamorous and gorgeous self. Enjoy the film, and enjoy those doubles and stand-ins!
White Woman (1933)
The natives are restless
Charles Laughton stars with Carole Lombard, Kent Taylor, Charles Bickford, and Percy Kilbride in "White Woman" from 1933.
In British-owned Malaya, Lombard plays Judith Denning who works playing piano and singing in a sleazy nightclub. After her husband committed suicide (rumored to be because she cheated on him) she became an outcast; in fact, the owner of the club wants to fire her and deport her.
A river trader and rubber plantation owner, Horace Prin, enters the club. He takes an immediate shine to Lombard, and offers her a way out of her predicament. Marry him, and she'll move onto the plantation. Now, under normal circumstances, Judith might have laughed in his face, but this is a way out, and she grabs onto it.
Once she gets to his plantation, she learns he is a cruel, jealous man who gives bad rice to the natives. All the people who work for him had to leave their country because of some crime or another. When one of them leaves, Prin promises him he will never make it down the river. That's because the natives have orders from Prin to kill him. J
Judith soon takes up with Prin's manager, Taylor, and later meets the tough Ballister who comes to work for Prin and takes no guff from him.
Charles Laughton is one of the greatest actors ever on screen, but I guess either he had contempt for Paramount, the script, the director, or maybe all three. Using a Cockney accent, he hams it up outrageously, winking, making faces, pursing his lips. The character wasn't repulsive enough!
Very dated. The jungle set, the natives, the drums - it's all there, and it's a good atmosphere where you can feel the heat. I can't say if it's worth seeing or not. I suppose it's such a rare bad performance from Laughton, Lombard had such a short career, and Bickford is so young, it's worth a look.
a Dietrich-von Sternberg collaboration
Seeing the glorious Marlene Dietrich in this film, I'm reminded, sadly, of what we've lost today in movies. Yes, we have wonderful and beautiful actresses, but where's the specialness that made someone like Dietrich so compelling? Exotic and mysterious, she's breathtaking.
Marie (Dietrich) is asked to spy for the Austrian secret service - she's a widow who lost her husband in the war, and she's a patriot. Marie agrees to use her considerable charms and beauty to wrangle some secrets out of the enemy.
This film is in response to Garbo in Mata Hari - Dietrich is much better as a seductress, plus she had the benefit of von Sternberg's direction. The masked ball scene is a highlight.
There is one large problem in this film in the person of Victor McLaglen, terribly cast and ruining an important part of the story. Supposedly she falls in love with him - well, there was no chemistry, there was nothing particularly romantic and charming about him - and to think Gary Cooper turned this down. Love ruins Marie as a spy.
The last few scenes are magnificent, with Marie, ever the adventurer, meeting her destiny with dignity - and a little primping.
von Sternberg gives us rich visuals and a very European flavor. And certainly he had the perfect star to match his vision. Gorgeous, glamorous, sensational Dietrich in a great role for her. Pity we wouldn't see anything like that in modern times.
great performance by Charles Laughton
Charles Laughton stars in "The Private Life of Henry VIII" from 1933, produced by Alexander Korda. Others in the cast include Robert Donat, Merle Oberon, Wendy Barrie, Elsa Lanchester, Everley Gregg, and Binnie Barnes.
In many parts, this is a humorous look at the eccentric Henry as he goes through his many marriages. However, the film starts with the execution of Anne Boleyn (Oberon). She's beautiful and very sympathetic in her role.
We see Henry eating, belching, throwing chicken bones, and generally being boisterous. Desperate for a son, he marries Jane Seymour next, and though she gives him a son, Seymour dies.
The best part of the film is the unconsummated marriage of Anne of Cleves and Henry. Rather than have sex, the two play cards, Anne taking him for quite a bit of money. She really didn't want to be married to him, and vice versa, so they agree to a divorce after about six months.
Binnie Barnes plays the ambitious Katherine Howard, who cheats on Henry with Thomas Culpepper (Donat), a member of the court
Finally, Henry comes up against a formidable opponent, his wife Katharine Parr (Gregg), who fusses over his diet.
Through it all, there's something lovable about Henry, where in real life, he was, shall we say, a difficult man, going against his Catholic faith so he could get rid of wives, and believing in the right of kings. Laughton plays Henry as a big, energetic baby, and he's fabulous. Yet he manages to have poignant moments as well.
Wonderful film - it really should have been called The Marriages of Henry VIII.
Born Reckless (1937)
Those cab drivers are at it again
Either cab driving was a violent business in the city, or someone from Warners slipped a script to someone at 20th Century Fox. "Born Reckless" from 1937 is a similar story to Warner Brothers' "Taxi."
Brian Donlevy plays Hurry Kane, a successful race car driver who isn't very good with money. After a huge win, he loses it all and ends up in a boxcar. He visits an old friend and takes a job driving a cab for his company.
It sounds like a good job for a race car driver, but taxi driving in those days seems to have been a job for a professional boxer. The cabbies are being brutally harassed by a local gangster (Barton MacLaine), who wants to take over the cab business in the city. As far as Hurry Kane is concerned, bring it on!
Rochelle Hudson plays the love interest, and she's lovely. Harry Carey Jr., also in the cast, turns in a good performance.
This movie kind of screams Warners, and the Cagney role screams for Jimmy Cagney. The acting is good, though, and even though Donlevy plays his role as a lighthearted, take life as it comes guy - this film is a lot tougher than "Taxi."
Moss Rose (1947)
Victorian murder mystery
From 1947, "Moss Rose" stars Peggy Cummins, Victor Mature, and Ethyl Barrymore.
Cummings plays Belle Adair, a dance-hall girl who sees a strange man (Mature) leave the room of one of her friends. The woman has been murdered, a moss rose sitting in an open Bible next to her. Belle sets out to find the man, one Michael Drego.
Once she does, she blackmails him. He refuses to give in, so she nearly identifies him when asked by the police chief (Vincent Price) which man she saw. Drego is able to signal her that she wins.
Belle is a little like Eliza in Pygmalion - turns out it's not money this petite Cockney wants. She wants to be a lady, and asks Drego to take her to his country home for a visit. Not sure how he will explain her presence - since he has a fiancee - Drego gives in, says she helped him with something, and is stopping by for a few days.
Michael's mother (Ethel Barrymore) is obsessive about her son, from whom she was separated while he lived with his father in Canada, but she likes Belle. Michael's fiancee feels a bit threatened by her. While Belle is at the house, there is another murder, with another moss rose in an open Bible.
Pretty good, with a vivacious performance by Peggy Cummins. You never for one minute think of her as an evil blackmailer. Mature for me wasn't aristocratic and smooth enough for the character of Michael. He gave a low-key performance, so he was aware his persona had to change from his street-wise roles. However, you can take a man off the street, but you can't take the street out of a man. Ethel Barrymore gives a strong performance.
Nice Victorian atmosphere and lovely costumes. And yes, Peggy Cummins is the same actress from "Gun Crazy!"
The Password Is Courage (1962)
Based on a true story
Dirk Bogarde plays Charles Coward in "The Password is Courage," about Coward's experiences in World War II. And some of them were doozies.
Coward was a big risk-taker. At one point he escapes the Germans and hides in a barn, only to see the Germans entering with their wounded on stretchers. He wraps himself in a blanket and pretends to be one of them. He's moved to a hospital. One day, a commandant comes in and pins iron crosses on all of them. Later they move the blanket and the jig is up.
The film is meant to be lighthearted and entertaining - even though Coward wound up in Auschwitz for a time, it's really not extensively covered in the movie. Nor is the fact that he smuggled Jews out of Auschwitz and today is on the list of Righteous Among Nations.
Over the years, some of Coward's stories have come into question, but enjoy it for what it is. The tunnel scenes are nervewracking and exciting, they are perhaps the best part of the film.
Wife Wanted (1946)
a Monogram production
The sophistication, glamour, and elegance of Kay Francis is the highlight of "Wife Wanted" from 1946. Though Francis is now working for poverty row studios, this still manages to be a decent movie. Apparently she produced it and lined up a pretty good cast consisting of Paul Cavanagh, Veda Ann Borg, Robert Shayne, and Teala Loring.
It's a routine story. Francis is a fading actress, Carol Raymond, who invests in an real estate company and becomes a partner of Jeff Caldwell (Cavanagh) who also runs a crooked "friendship club" (i.e., conning rich men) mostly handled by his wife Nola (Borg).
Carol soon discovers Jeff is a crook and is blackmailed into continuing to work for him - though she secretly plans on getting info about him to the police. For this, she needs the help of a desperate young woman (Loring). Along the way, she finds herself falling for a Texas oil man (Shayne) who is really a reporter digging for dirt.
First off, any baby boomer can immediately recognize the voice of Robert Shayne - Inspector Henderson on Superman. A lot of people don't know that in the Columbo episode "Suitable for Framing," he's the murder victim! It's nice to see him in this early role.
Teala Loring is Debra Paget's sister and apparently went to the Copacabana Acting School, which she discovered on the back of a matchbook. What a performance! It's actually the director's fault - why anyone let her walk around making those horrible faces is beyond me.
I understand from one review that this film was shown in San Francisco in 2001 and the audience howled with laughter at her. In these days of less is more, yes, even some excellent performances in classic film can look over the top today. So you can just imagine this one.
Paul Cavanagh is his usual dapper and charming self. As his jealous wife, Veda Ann Borg wisecracks her way through her part - naturally suspicious, she doesn't like Carol from the beginning.
Francis' clothes (particularly that white gown in the nightclub scene, which one could wear today) and jewelry are befitting a big "A" film. She gives the film a lot of class. It's worth seeing for her. The movie seems to end abruptly as Carol frantically searches for Mildred (Loring) and then forgets all about her a few minutes later. The viewer will not have that luxury.
an artist is suspicious of a new bride
The author of "Laura," Vera Caspary, wrote this post-war drama, Bedelia, starring Margaret Lockwood, Ian Hunter, and Barry K. Barnes. Barnes plays an artist named Cheney who meets newlyweds Charles and Bedelia and asks to paint Bedelia. Bedelia is a little funny about having her photo taken and she doesn't really like the idea of a portrait, but she goes along with it.
When a guest at the hotel where she's staying thinks she's someone else, we begin to see why she doesn't want her picture taken.
Finally glad to leave for home and get away from the very nosy Cheney, Bedelia and Charles go Charles' mansion in north England. Oh, guess who is going to be visiting. Cheney.
Good drama, somewhat predictable with nice performances. Lockwood is lovely in a variety of gowns. Worth seeing for the atmosphere and performances.