The USS Scotia, ostensibly a US Navy nuclear submarine looks more like a Russian Alpha class. Any submarine would crush at the depths played out in the story and would be incapable of radioing while underwater. Neither people nor plankton could survive outside any submarine at the depths portrayed in this movie. And there would not be light that deep.
The time setting is "today" but the USS Abraham Lincoln is a World War II battleship. And it, nor any other ship that large, could possibly travel 75 knots. There is a real world Abraham Lincoln but it is an aircraft carrier and more likely to have acted as a flagship. Uniforms are wrong and not only do the rating badges and insignia change from scene to scene but they are incorrect in the first place. And it is the "US Coast Guard" and not the "American Coastal Guard." Then there is the portrayal of personnel. A British-accented woman as the commander of a mini-sub? First of all, it is possible for a foreign-accented person to be an officer in the US Navy but not at all possible for a foreign citizen to be one. And despite advocates, there are no women permitted to serve on submarines – conveniently ignored in this movie. If there were women in the "Silent Service," they would be expected to adhere to grooming standards and not wear fashionable nail polish, garish lipstick, headbands, or ornamental earrings. The men are equally out of standards for grooming.
But even if women did serve, the placement of an ex-wife as the commander of a very small unit that includes the former spouse is suspect. And even if they were to serve together, the interaction between the two goes well beyond anything expected between two military professionals.
If you can get past all of this, which I admit is hard for anyone who has actually served, then there are other problems galore with the story. The first half hour is not particularly interesting because it is mostly an explanation of technical and scientific jargon. Captain (wearing Major General's stars) Nemo does not appear for way too long. Then quite honestly, the film just gets boring even though it is set underwater and features an obviously psychotic antagonist and many challenges to our heroes. Why did they think they needed the nightclub scene? I didn't mind the inventions that kept the plot going. I could even get into the plot to shift mankind above the sea to underwater - the new Atlantis. But I am not sure about whether it was the writing, the directing, or just the acting that made we want to ignore the words that came out of the mouths of everyone on the screen. Could it have been all three? The color is excellent and I did not have any problem with the sound that a few others had.
At least Plan 9 From Outer Space had ..wait; there is not much to offer for that either. Well, this one was in color.
Silent film star George O'Brien is effective as the hero and enjoyable to watch in his role. His biography is most interesting and worthy of your time. Charles Middleton is excellent as the heavy but I still prefer him as Ming the Merciless in the Flash Gordon serials. Maude Eburne turns in another great character actor performance.
The film quality of the version "Wings Over Wyoming" that I just saw on TCM was a bit grainy but the joy at watching such a unique B movie more than compensated. Some of the aviation sequences were likely lifted from other filming but what the heck, who cares. Better than most B Westerns and worth watching because it is so different.
Check out the full credits a very interesting mix.
Tom Keene is first-rate in a serious role that predates his appearance in "Plan 9 from Outer Space." Betty Furness is the believable love interest before becoming the New York City Director of Consumer Affairs and a panelist on TV game shows. The always excellent veteran character actor Edgar Kennedy includes this film in his over 400 film credits. Lafe McKee and the other old-timers are a real "hoot" as they figure out ways to hold up a truck and live off the land.
King Kong's Merian C. Cooper gets top billing as Executive Producer, David Lewis as Associate Producer, and David O. Selznick is uncredited as the Producer. Cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca and film editing by a young Frederic Knudtson. Yakima Cannutt is an uncredited stunt double.
Recommended as something very different for anyone who thinks that they have seen everything in the classic Western.
The movie opens with a man stumbling forward in the fog appropriate for the story line and then wandering into Mason Park. Not much to go on to figure out his identity: initials in a hat band, theater tickets, and foreign cigarettes. Obtaining the aid of a female friend, they set off to the police station for assistance. Just before entering, the newspapers arrive and report on the murder of producer Richard Denning by a man in a pin stripe suit. Guess who is wearing a pin stripe suit? There is a very cute little scene that follows where Abel buys new clothes at a store run by an amateur detective. There are a couple of nice scenes that are as probably as good as it gets in this type of movie. One overhead shot of Abel jumping from a rooming house window stands out. Another notable is the use of the title of the novel on which the film is based as the title of a play that is important to the story.
The hero is never in danger he just uncovers bits and pieces of his life and deals with them in turn. Naturally the actions of the police and the real villain(s) thwart Abel's attempts to return to normalcy. About mid-way through the movie, the plot gets a little confused as the hero is introduced to a series of people who know him and have obviously been placed in the story to provide an alternative answer to "who killed Richard Denning." A flashback near the end of the movie reveals the hero's non-complicity in the murder and explains all of the clues that have pointed to him. Still it is not quite enough to have the viewer or the police reach the correct conclusion on the actual murderer although the motive is reasonably clear. In the end, justice is served and boy gets girl.
Alan Hale does a great job as the detective inspector and Eric Blore is his usual excellent butler. The beautiful Erin O'Brien has a brief but memorable part.
Recommended. I watched this movie during the same month that TCM highlighted the Whistler series. It is much much better.
Let's review what is good about the movie. Shauna Black is certainly nice to look at but one can only wish that Laura Vandervoort would have had a larger part. The "ending" that opens the movie is revealed to be an incomplete truth about three quarters the way through and the real ending could have been a real show stopper. Jennifer Beals does yeoman's work with the material she has been handed she deserves better. Finally the movie yields the best-dressed software company secretary in many years.
Not much to recommend here.
Warren William stars as the suave former jewel thief Michael Lanyard with his faithful sidekick and butler, Eric Blore. Also features Hillary Brooke as the love interest and Forrest Tucker as one of the Nazi spies. Although not credited, it certainly appears that a young Lloyd Bridges also appears albeit with a mustache. If true, he would have had a busy year since he also appears to be listed in over twenty other movies in 1942.
This entry opens with Dr. Ordway talking about the impending parole of inmate 9815, Stephen Carter (Stephen Dunne), after serving three years for a crime of arson that he did not commit. The plot thickens when the accused is implicated in the murder of the man who took his job when in prison. The solution should not be a surprise.
Lois Maxwell is not nearly as good looking or glib as she will become years later as Miss Moneypenny in seventeen James Bond movies. She plays the same role as a gate keeper for the head of the firm.
Prolific character actor Whit Bissell plays Pete Bellem who records and keeps playing a song that seems to be central to the strange comings and goings on at the Bellem Music Company "In the house where I was born" "When I was just a boy. A recording of Pete's song becomes a critical part of the plot.
Robert Armstrong looks a bit tired as gangster George 'Goldie' Harrigan. His new girlfriend Inez Gray, played by Adele Jergens, is best featured in a revealing negligee.
Interesting introduction to the new technology of piping recorded music over phone lines to paying customers rather than having them order selected records at a juke box.
The police are incredibly poor shots until the end. The writing is above average in this entry with such lines as, following an incomplete response to the police asking an alternate way out of an apartment building, "Did they ask if it was open?" Recommended.
The Crime Doctor always seems to know who is lying and telling the truth in the absence of any evidence to support his theories. The defendant's lawyer does not practice criminal law and the defendant does not appear to care whether he lives or dies. Is the only defense insanity? If he gets off the murder charge due to insanity, who inherits? What about a fourteen year-old contract between the murdered man and the knife-thrower? How many more murders? Intrigue in the art world leads the Crime Doctor to the solution.
Interesting dance apache sequences. Directed by future horror-meister William Castle. Fair.
The real issue is not murder but a business being run out of a funeral parlor. The dying diabetic mumbles something before passing that is later revealed to be from Hamlet: "God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another" (Hamlet 3.1). What could possibly be going on in the funeral parlor in the evening? Direction by future horror meister William Castle results in some excellent shots of where something sinister is implied with off-screen mayhem. Recommended
Although sometimes billed as the best of the series, I found the acting somewhat dull and the short 61-minute film did not capture my imagination. I thought the Crime Doctor's Courage better. Menacing characters are presented and not developed perhaps left on the cutting room floor. Interesting ending that is unlikely to be anticipated but explains all. Sixth in the series. Recommended.
This entry revolves around the death of fortune hunter Gordon Carson whose two previous wives have under mysterious circumstances and who in turn dies in a locked room under conditions that resemble suicide but Dr. Ordway labels murder. Hillary Brooke plays the part of widow Kathleen Carson who is involved with Anthony Caruso - a mysterious Spanish dancer whose act includes his sister that disappears on stage. As a mystery novelist, Jerome Cowan is a good supporting actor as is Lloyd Corrigan as an aficionado in crime.
Spooky houses with creaking doors, caskets in the cellar, and suspects that are never seen in daylight add to the air of suspense. The set for the dance sequence is quite elaborate and the ballet music very good. Direction, production design, and photography stand out. The exterior shots and costumes suggest more affluence rather than normally found in the average "B" detective thriller.
Pancho travels north to deliver 3,000 cattle is treated as a second class citizen in his own native land. He reacts violently against the worst of the land commissioners and head man in Spanish Gulch, Peter Harkness, played by Fred Kohler, when Pancho dares to buy a drink for Harkness' favorite barmaid. Pancho is beaten with a belt but is saved by the sheriff, Captain David Howard, played by James Rennie.
After his beating, Pancho delivers the cattle to Harkness in the form of a stampede through the village of Spanish Gulch. Pancho takes the money Harkness was to deliver in payment and sets off on a life as El Puma, patterned on Robin Hood or Zorro, robbing from the gringos and giving the money to the Church to feed the poor. Captain Howard arrives at the Delfino ranch and falls in love with Dolores. He also explains the derivation of the word "gringo". The latter is supposed to be based upon words sung by US soldiers who carried a green flag into battle during the Mexican war of 1846-1848 "the green goes over the hill" implying carrying the flag up against opposition. I did not find that derivation listed in a Google search which is why I have included it here.
Pancho's uncle is shot by Harkness and in his dying breath; Tio Mariano tells his nephew that his efforts are turning more Americans against the native Californians. Pancho disbands his gang, shoots Harkness, and delivers the original land grant to Captain Howard for safekeeping. Pancho escapes overland to Mexico where he weds his beloved Rosita and sends a letter to Captain Howard and Dolores telling them there is nothing preventing them from being wed.
The plot is based on the story, "Adiós," by Lanier and Virginia Stivers Bartlett. It is not at all clear where the title comes from since Pancho is neither beaten by the lash or uses one in his escapades. The print shown on TCM is in poor quality but this interesting story with Americans as the "bad guys" is worth watching. Recommended.
The fem fatale is Mary Astor, playing Martha, a American who has failed to make it as an artist in Paris and who is about to turn to street walking to earn enough to eat. Dorval rescues her, makes her into a "lady who glitters" and palms her off to Silk as a countess. Silk falls in love and Martha marries him despite not being in love to avoid returning to a life of hopelessness. What is clever in the writing is that Dorval assumes that Martha eventually will fall in love with Silk and manages to dupe her into betraying her husband anyway.
Martha cannot contain herself and confesses all to Silk who spurns her for ruining him. Martha in turn realizes that Silk only loved her because she was a countess. This sets the scene for the finale at the big race where Golden Lad can either win back Silk's losses or ruin him forever. The outcome is in doubt until the very end and there are some great shots of horse racing down to the wire. Recommended.
The writing is formula but it has a few twists and turns to keep the viewer's interest. The loot is cleverly hidden, keeps changing hands, and there is an innovative exploding strong box to contend with. Starrett is good in the leading role and Jean Stevens is nice to look at and does a credible job of the forward bad girl Paradise Flo who falls for the hero (she returns in a different role in "Frontier Gunlaw"). John Calvert is an excellent villain. Tex Harding is the side-kick Jim and he appears in a number of follow-on Durango Kid films in various roles. There are just enough musical numbers by "The Jesters" to annoy but the words to some of those songs are a real hoot, e.g. "He Holds the Lantern While his Mother Cuts the Wood." The Return of the Durango Kid is the first real follow-on to the popular 1940 "Durango Kid". Columbia's 1944 "Sagebrush Heroes" has him playing a radio actor play that only plays the "Durango Kid" on the air. In "The Return of the Durango Kid," Starrett's name is Bill Blaydon but in all other films, his name is different. Starrett rides off into the West at the end of this film remarking that there is some trouble elsewhere making it clear to his audience that he would return. The series was so popular that it lasted until 1952 with a total of over sixty entries.
In summary form, this movie suffers from bad writing and lame lines, poor direction, bad acting, and bad editing.
The major point of this film is that artists were able to create puzzles out of a combination of pictures, letters, and symbols that when put together, formed a word or a short sentence. But rather than involve the audience in the solution, we are only treated to short glimpses of some of the puzzles from time to time and not brought into the plot as a participant.
The major storyline is that an alcoholic artist comes up with a very good idea that will help sell cereal and that he fails to deliver the final batch of puzzles that will finalize the contest. He goes on a bender, gets waylaid by a health nut hired on by his fiancé, and then ultimately gets kidnapped by the same health nut. The story sort of makes sense but only if the viewer makes allowances. There is the unnecessary complication of racketeers who sell the answers to the puzzles and rampant slapping and punching that would have worked well with the Three Stooges and sound effects but in the end gets annoying.
It is tough to single out whose acting should be singled out as deserving of mention. I guess it would have to be Lorraine Krueger since she not only spoke lines but also tap danced. Preston Foster is a real disappointment.
Some of the transitions between scenes do nothing to suggest continuity was sought after by the director. Sounds were a problem in that many of the scenes are difficult to understand and obviously were not retaken.
On the whole, there is not much to recommend. Better than, by a hair, "Plan 9 From Outer Space."
The crime plot revolves around the framing of a "Reno divorcée" (who has a questionable relationship with her so-called fiancée) for the murder of her ex-husband. The murder is not too hard to solve so we would think then that the love interest would be played up instead. It would appear that some of the storyline ended up on the cutting room floor since there are good set ups for scenes that simply do not appear and then are referred to later at least in passing.
The writing clearly has a feminine touch with barbs being thrown at male chauvinism and oblique criticism of the stereotypical role women should play. This part of the storyline at least has continuity. Jane Wyman as Myrna 'Jinx' Winslow tells her boss no to "shhhh" her and then quits as she is fired from the Nation-wide Detective Agency. She keeps the job for at least one more case and after solving the murder tells her boyfriend Detective Lieutenant Jim Rickey (Dick Foran) that "I don't want to be a detective anymore." Not recommended unless you are trying to study how women are portrayed in traditional men's roles or just want to watch Jane Wyman going through the scenes with lots of very different hats and fur coats and even on the ledge of a tall building while wearing high heels.
George "Gabby" Hayes (it appears with all his teeth) does yeoman service as Doctor Parker. Smiley Burnette is good as the sidekick that cannot quite find the mate to a missing spur.
Good songs and the use of a modern record player allow Gene to trap three of the bad guys. Good chase scene. Best line in move is when the good guys line up the three bad men and Smiley (angry that they just shot a hole in his guitar) tells them to dance. The bad guys say that they can't dance and the response is "anyone can dance if they are properly persuaded." Sure this is a low budget Saturday matinée special, but it appears that someone was trying very hard to show that this team of actors and director Joseph Kane would be able to produce a winner that could be replicated. Highly recommended.