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Thriller: Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper (1961)
Season 1, Episode 28
5/10
Meh....
18 October 2018
Many of the episodes of "Thriller" were written by Robert Bloch, the same writer who gained a lot of fame writing the screenplay for "Psycho". But he was very prolific and didn't just write these but many other screenplays. One was "Wolf in the Fold" from the original "Star Trek" series....where Jack the Ripper supposedly is timeless and has been going planet to planet murdering women. I mention it because in "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper", Bloch has a very similar plot....very similar.

The show begins with a British investigator, Sir Guy (John Williams) meeting with American police. Why? Because he believes Jack the Ripper will strike soon and here in the States. Apparently, he believes the Ripper is timeless and has a pattern to his killings. While this all sounds ridiculous, when the next murder occurs, folks start listening to Sir Guy!

Apart from the screenwriter, the show is also interesting because it was directed by Ray Milland! But, sadly, both together didn't really amount to anything other than a very run of the mill show. For me, I prefer the "Star Trek" Jack the Ripper...it was far more interesting.
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Thriller: The Devil's Ticket (1961)
Season 1, Episode 29
4/10
The Devil is a jerk and can't be trusted...who would have figured?!
18 October 2018
On "The Twilight Zone" there were many episodes featuring Satan...and these often are among the best shows of the series. In "The Devil's Ticket", "Thriller" takes on the Devil genre...with only mediocre (at best) results.

Hector Vane (MacDonald Carey) is a frustrated painter. While he knows he's good, no one else seems to care. Taking advantage of this, the 'Pawnbroker' (John Emery) arrives....and offers to make him a famous artist IF he agrees to paint a painting of someone....and the painting will somehow magically steal that person's soul. And, like a pawn ticket, when he gives this painting to the Pawnbroker, he receives his own soul back....or at least that is what they agree upon. Ultimately, of course, this all comes to bite Vane in the butt...but how?

There are a few problems with this one. First, Vane's way out of his predicament is very easy...and the loopholes are many and the one he tries is VERY obvious...too obvious. Second, you never really care much about the story nor the actors....as it's all very flat and unfulfilling.
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Thriller: A Good Imagination (1961)
Season 1, Episode 31
9/10
Like potato chips...he can't just stop with one!
18 October 2018
Edward Andrews was an incredibly prolific TV actor in the 1950s-70s. He normally played somewhat stiff and stodgy middle-aged businessmen. However, here he's given a great opportunity to play something different...and it makes for a wonderful installment of "Thriller"!

In "A Good Imagination", Frank Logan (Andrews) is a successful book seller who is married to a cheating woman (Patricia Barry). When the show begins, he bludgeons one of her lovers to death. But, like potato chips, he cannot stop with just one. Soon, this normal looking guy is killing others...and he seems to be having a terrific time doing it. In fact, it makes this show a bit like a dark comedy because he is so clever and enjoys himself so much!

This was a most enjoyable installment in this normally mediocre series...thanks to Andrews terrific acting and a lovely script by Robert Bloch...the same man who wrote "Psycho" and many other thrilling tales.
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Thriller: The Lethal Ladies (1962)
Season 2, Episode 29
4/10
Morris plays a jerk...twice.
18 October 2018
This episode of "Thriller" is unusual in that it features two stories...and the same two actors play the leads in each. The theme seems to be guys who are jerks and the women who get fed up with them.

In the first story, Myron (Howard Morris) plays a mousy husband who has been cheating on his rich wife. But he's not completely a mouse...as he's been plotting to kill his wife. How this all backfires on both Myron and the wife (Rosemary Murphy) is for you to see.

In the second, Murphy plays Ms. Quimby...a librarian who expects to be made head librarian after her years of devoted service. Instead, they hire Dr. Bliss (Morris) and he turns out to be a complete jerk. It's his way or the highway....and he antagonizes his employees and begins firing them in order to bring in his own people who will cowtow to him. When he tells Ms. Quimby she's next to get fired, she is beside herself, as this job is her life.

In addition to the theme 'a woman scorned', a secondary theme seems to be mediocrity....at best. Both installments are rather poor (especially the first) and I frankly expected more from this anthology series. Now understand that the acting was very good....but the writing lacked irony and seemed second-rate and the show was not especially interesting. While I know this will offend some, this could be said of many episodes of "Thriller"...a very uneven series with a few exceptional shows but many more that were time-passers at best.
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7/10
Gene Kelly in a military picture? And, serving with the Royal Navy?!
18 October 2018
The first thing I thought when I saw the webpage for this on IMDB was "Is THAT Gene Kelly and why does he look so tough?!". Yes, despite his pretty dancing boy image, sometimes Kelly made other films...tough films such as "The Black Hand". "Pilot #5" and this one, "Seagulls Over Sorrento" (also known as "Crest of the Wave"). I do appreciate how he didn't allow himself to be typecast....but did this abberation work?

This film was set in the present day...and it took me a bit to realize it was not a WWII picture. Some British submariners are working on a new explosive for their torpedoes and there is an explosion...killing their expert. Since no one else in the British Navy knows about this explosive, an American officer (Lt. Bradville....played by Kelly) is stationed on the Scottish island where the work is being done. He brings along two assistants....though some of the sailors seem taken aback with them...and it's a case of US versus THEM (much like in the film "The Devil's Brigade").

Despite being a military film, because there's no war going on, it's not an especially exciting movie. Now this is NOT to say it's bad in any way...but it's not action-packed and is much more cerebral than you'd likely expect. Well made and interesting.
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7/10
Low budget....yet entertaining.
17 October 2018
The story is set in some Southwest town. There have been some accidents and the sheriff has been investigating them. When one dies, it's chalked up as just another accident...even though the coroner says this first one was murder. The sheriff didn't believe him but begins to when more are discovered dead due to various 'accidents'. At the same time, a professor from El Paso has arrived in town to look into cult activity. What's really going on here?

"Enter the Devil" is a super low budgeted picture. It was filmed in the middle of nowhere in the Texas desert and stars a cast of unknown actors with little experience. Oddly, however, despite this terrible pedigree, the film manages to be pretty good for what it is. It has some devent chills and manages to entertain despite all its deficits. And, the ending, while NOT subtle or completely believable IS entertaining!
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7/10
The acting and style of the film were far better than the story itself.
17 October 2018
"The Night Walker" is a very strange film which is in some ways a bad film and in others it's quite good. The bad is the story itself. Although it has some great elements, it really doesn't make all that much sense (such as why didn't the lady ever seek out the police??) and it's best you just turn off your brain and enjoy this one.

The film is made by William Castle...so it's not surprising it starts off weirdly. The prologue is indescribly weird...like taking a hit of acid. You just have to see it to believe it. After, the actual story begins. It seems that a nutty old rich blind guy (Hayden Rorke) thinks his wife is cheating on him. Soon after talking to his lawyer about this, the guy burns up in a fire. Despite him being dead, the wife dreams of him and her dreams are incredibly vivid and disturbing. It has her beginning to question her sanity...as do appearances by a pretty young lover who doesn't seem to be real. What is really going on here?

Pairing Barbara Stanwyck and her ex-husband, Robert Taylor, was an interesting choice....and the film is filled with fantastically eerie camerawork and music...which, along with the husband's make-up, really terrify. If only the story were a bit more logical, I would have rated it higher, as the movie (much like Castle's "Strait-Jacket") is highly entertaining and creepy.
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Fast Life (1932)
7/10
Haines manages to be a bit more likable in this one...and it results in a pretty good film.
17 October 2018
While William Haines was a very popular actor in his day, I think many of his movies have aged poorly. This isn't so much his fault but that of the studio. MGM insisted on essentially making the same sort of William Haines picture...again and again. In nearly all of them, Haines plays a very talented but cocky guy. Because of this, he ultimately lets everyone down...only to redeem himself by the end of the picture. Here in "Fast Life", Haines plays a cocky sort of guy...but isn't as self-destructive or annoying as he was in many other pictures....as a result, the film is pretty watchable.

Sandy (Haines) and Bumpy (Cliff Edwards) are in the Navy but soon leave in order to pursue Sandy's dream of creating the perfect speed boat. Fortunately, he soon meets up with a rich guy who builds racing boats. Unfortunately, his business is in financial trouble and it looks like he's not going to be able to provide all the funds needed to get it in the big race. To make things worse, the guy who is dating the boss' daughter turns out to be a duplicitous jerk...and he'll do anything to prevent that boat from making it to the race.

This is an enjoyable film with some exicting speedboat scenes....though a few suffer from having crappy rear projection. Apart from this problem, the film is fast-paced and enjoyable....and shows what Haines could do if given a script that isn't strictly the usual formula.
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Nowhere to Go (1958)
7/10
A very good British noir pic.
17 October 2018
When the film begins, Paul Gregory (George Nader) escapes from prison. Soon after, you see a flashback to learn what brought him to prison. It seems that he recently came from the US to the UK and expected to get a light sentence when he steals a coin collection. He then expects to be able to escape, retreive the stolen collection and beat it out of the country. He definitely is a cool character....and you wonder if he is quite as clever as he thought he was when his plan starts to unravel!

George Nader was a handsome actor who left the US in the late 1950s to make films in Europe, such as the Jerry Cotton spy films. This is because he was outed in the press in the States and felt he had more options for work in Europe...which he apparently did. Here he is quite good in the lead...one of his few leading roles of this period in his career.

This is an interesting example of British film noir. While it lacks the cool camera angles of the best of the noir, its amoral sensibilities and coldness of the main character are classic noir all the way. Well worth seeing and it's a quiet, brooding sort of film.
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15 Minutes (2001)
Just way too violent for my taste.
17 October 2018
This is one of the very few films I have not completed but have reviewed here on IMDB. I tried...but the movie was so ultra-violent that I couldn't stick with it. This alone is the reason I am writing the review--to warn you that even for a rated-R movie, it's incredibly violent.

The film begins with some evil Russians going through US immigration. Soon, they meet up with a colleague and demand money that they all stole. But he doesn't have the money...and one of these Russians butchers the guy with a knife and snaps the neck of his lady...while the other videotapes it. This was a very brutal scene...and the videographer keeps rewatching the murder for kicks. Soon, they realize that someone saw them....a hooker. And so they begin murdering folks to learn the woman's identity. These killings, like the first two, are incredibly violent and I simply couldn't watch any more and turned it off.

The bottom line is that this is NOT a film for most viewers. You have to have a strong stomach and either not mind the killing or enjoy it. Either way, I'd had enough.
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4/10
Rather dull and stilted.
16 October 2018
"The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe" is a seldom-seen biopic about the famous author. While in some ways it's pretty good, overall it seems pretty stilted and dull.

The film is a reasonably accurate account of the author's life...probably more accurate than most biopics of the day. It also seems to focus mostly on his relationships with women as well as his snippy/snarky attitude which often hurt him in his literary career. My complaints about it are mostly due to the style as opposed to the content. In other words, it's so melodramatic (with droning melancholy music) and the language so stilted it seems rather stilly and trite....like a third-rate production, which is odd since it came from prestigious Twentieth Century-Fox. Okay...but better you just read the Wikipedia article on the man.
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3/10
A very familiar plot....too familiar.
15 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
During the course of the Range Busters series, the three leads in this Monogram Studios production changed periodically...much like the earlier Three Mesquiteers series. Why they kept alternating different actors into the leads, I have no idea...but it didn't help the movies any! Much of the series, Dusty King played one of the do-gooders...but here he was replaced by Denny Moore. On hand are also familiar cast members Ray Corrigan and (unfortunately) Max Terhune and his bizarre talking dummy!

The film begins with some masked men holding up the stage and stealing the payroll (a VERY familiar theme in these sorts of B-movies). Denny just happens to be in the area and the vigilantes chasing the criminals begin chasing Denny instead--shooting him in the process. He does manage to escape and finds his fellow Range Busters...and the trio (along with Snowflake*) investigate what's going on in this town. It seems that the beleaguered Sheriff is trying to get to the bottom of the robberies...but not surprisingly the local baddie fights him all the way.

This is a very familiar sort of western. So many have had similar themes...with baddies arranging to steal their own payrolls and then using this as an excuse to make a power grab. And, since Corrigan and Terhune BOTH appeared in both many of the Range Buster AND Three Mesquiteers films, there's an even greater sense of familiarity about all this...making it hardly original. Not a terrible western but considering Elmer's in the film and there's a rather limp song, it's not among the team's better movies. Worth watching if you are a huge fan of the genre...otherwise I'd skip it.



*Fred 'Snowflake' Toones was a very familiar actor in his day and has a ton of credits on IMDB. In many, he was called Snowflake either in the film or the credits (or both)...an incredibly patronizing name for a black actor.
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3/10
Not the Holmes many have come to love
15 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
After reading the entire library of Conan Doyle stories about Sherlock Holmes, it's likely you'll realize that most of the Sherlock Holmes movies and television shows do a poor job of capturing the legendary detective. In "The Case of the Christmas Pudding", the folks who wrote the episode really weren't in touch with who Holmes was supposed to be and the story seems very slight.

When the show begins, some jerk is being sentenced to death for murder. It seems that Holmes was instrumental in the case and the condemned threatens to kill Holmes once the verdict was read. The show then consists of the man escaping from prison (due mostly to idiot jailers) and then Holmes killing the guy and then showing the prison officials how the man escaped. It all seems quite strange for many reasons. First, the security in the prison seemed incredibly lax considering he's about to die AND threatened to escape and kill Holmes. Second, Holmes seems very uncharacteristically scared. Third, the criminal seemed incredibly easy to defeat. Overall, a diappointment and as a result I am a bit hesitant to watch more of these TV shows.
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8/10
A nice look at all the tricks that Georges Méliès created for the big screen.
14 October 2018
In the late 19th and early 20th century, Georges Méliès was a very successful filmmaker. Much of it was because Méliès was originally a stage magician and he thought like one when making films. As a result, many of his films look like magic shows and the director used a lot of camera tricks to make things seemingly appear and disappear. Soon, others began copying his films....and among them, the Spaniard, Segundo de Chomón, was among the best....though his versions of the great master's films often were second-rate in quality.

"Le Spectre Rouge" is one of the best Chomón films to watch. This is because he crams every sort of camera trick into the film plus it's all in the form of a magic show. And, to get it all there, the film is about 9 minutes in length....which is amazingly long when the average movie was about one to two minutes long! As a result, you get a great homage to Méliès...one where you can see a lot of film footage showing his techniques which Chomón copied. This footage is all in the form of a weird caped skeleton-demon performing magic tricks until the tables are turned on him.

As far as how watchable all this is, it depends on you. If you love very, very early films by all means watch. Otherwise, you might find it tough going even if the film is technically brilliant.
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2/10
Not much in the way of story!
14 October 2018
Even for a film from 1902, this short by the Spanish filmmaker Segundo de Chomón is incredibly lame....and I have a hard time imagining most folks enjoying this in any way.

There is no plot to this short. You see a longer sequence of a Bedoin-type and two ladies dancing. It then abruptly changes to another dance group and then another...with no explanation as to why any of this is important. It also is odd the first dance is much, much longer than the rest.

The film does featured some hand-colored frames...so it is pretty nice looking.
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Born to Fight (1936)
3/10
While it is a bad film...it's enjoyable enough!
14 October 2018
"Born to Fight" is not a very good film. It's filled with just about every boxing movie cliche and at times I found myself laughing about that. But, despite all the striked against it, the movie isn't terrible and is watchable IF you cut it a lot of slack!

When the story begins, the famous boxer, Bomber Brown (Kane Richmond), gets into a fight with a scum-bag gambler (Jack LaRue). In the process, the crooked gambler is injured...and Brown goes into hiding because he's worried about prison...especially if the guy croaks. Eventually, he lands on his feet when he meets a pugnacious young guy, Babyface Madison (Frankie Darro), and decides to train him for the boxing ring. However, just about every possible problem comes up during the course of the film--including a return of the old crooked gambler. Can Bomber and Babyface make it to the top of the fight game....and can Bomber avoid prison?

As I said, the film is filled with cliches....and the story works out too magically well at the end. But despite my better judgment, I actually kind of enjoyed the story...even if it is pretty much a re-working of a previous film, "The Life of Jimmy Dolan" (and, which was remade as "They Made Me a Criminal").

By the way, the film also has an appearance by Fred 'Snowflake' Toones...playing a guy named 'Snowflake'. It's all very stereotypical and sad to see Toones playing an incredibly stupid guy...too stupid not to be seen as offensive by most audiences today.
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A Dozen Socks (1927)
2/10
Not quite ready for viewing??
14 October 2018
I love silent comedy shorts. But when it came time to see it, I saw two huge problems with this Sennett comedy---the print was so badly faded and blurry it was hard to read the intertitle cards and the film seemed choppy....as if parts of it are missing. So, whether or not you decide to watch, keep these things in mind.

The story is a choppy and rather illogical mess. It doesn't really present a story...more amusing snippets. And, as such, it really doesn't make a lot of sense. The big finale involves a mousey looking guy boxing the champ, Spike, for $500. It's modestly funny...but no more.
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8/10
Cheap...a tad saccharine...but sweet and worth seeing.
14 October 2018
"Women Won't Tell" is a tough film to watch...at first. Your first instinct might be to turn it off. Afterall, it's a cheap film made by tiny Chesterfield...and most of their pictures aren't especially good. Despite this, you do need to keep watching...as over time the story improves and really grows on you.

The story begins at a garbage dump adjacent to a factory owned by a nasty old goat. In this dump live many folks who eke out an existence looking for scrap and items they can re-sell. One of them, the Duchess, is widely loved by the folks who live there. She has a daughter, April, who she loves dearly.

After the old goat dies, a newspaper reporter interviews folks in the dump and is shocked to hear that the girl is the old goat's illegitimate daughter. And, since there are no known relatives of the deceased, she's soon declared by the courts as his heir.

Years pass. April's grown into a lovely young lady and tennis star. The Duchess now runs the company...and apparently runs it very well. While things seem nearly perfect, two problems have arisen. April's boyfriend adores her...but her snooty parents don't like the idea of the young man marrying a daughter who was illegitimate. Then, folks approach the Duchess....telling them that they are April's biological parents and they want her back...and presumably the fortune. What's next? See the film!

This story, while improbable and a bit sickely sweet, works very well for several reasons. The most important of which is its originality....but it's also very enjoyable and creative. I appreciate that despite a smaller budget, the acting, direction and writing were quite good. It's a B-movie well worth seeing.
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3/10
Proof that the British can be as lowbrow and dopey as us Americans!
13 October 2018
In the United States, there is a stereotype that the British are extremely well mannered and sophisticated. This is in spite of evidence to the contrary which seems to say they can be just as lowbrow and dopey as the rest of us. Sure, they have produced many classic films as well as television shows (such as "Downton Abbey" and "I, Claudius")....but they also have brought the world "The Benny Hill Show" and drivel like "The Adventures of Jane".

So what IS "The Adventures of Jane"? Well, apparently it is a movie based on a comic strip for adults and Jane is apparently very accident prone and always ends up having her clothing ripped off of her! Sophisticated? Hardly! And in the film, it's pretty much what you'd expect, as it's filled with very bad jokes (the sorts you'd expect to hear on stage in a burlesque-type review) and Jane standing about in her underwear.

Overall, this film was too broadly written, acted and directed to be seen as anything other than a bad little curio. Apparently, the plan was originally to make a series of these films but the British public, fortunately, did not embrace the movie and further movies were dropped. It's bad and difficult to watch....trust me on this!
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6/10
Basically a good story...but handled artlessly.
13 October 2018
"The Iron Master" has an excellent story idea. But, like many B-movies, it's artlessly made--with poor direction and obvious plot elements. A bit of subtlety would have really helped this one!

J. Farrell MacDonald plays an industrialist with one big problem....his spoiled family. But he's a wimp and has trouble ever telling them no....and as a result they are the most worthless and annoying folks I can recall seeing in a movie! To try to correct this, he appoints his foreman (Reginald Denny) to control not only the foundary but the family as well. If they want to spend money, they must come to him and show maturity...or they'll just have to learn what it's like to be poor. So, the family schemes to fool him into giving in...and in the process nearly destroy the company and their fortune.

This is a decent story. But making the family THAT hateful and worthless was a bad idea, as it was handled ham-fistedly and really should have been slower and more subtle in presenting them. In addition, the foreman falls in love with the daughter...and you wonder why! After all, she's a nasty spoiled brat....and a man that would want her ought to have his head examined! And finally, the car chase sequence was really badly done...with obvious rear projection that was poor even for 1933.

So am I saying I hated the film? Not exactly. It's still watchable and entertaining...but with just a little bit of subtety and it could have been a great B-movie...not a run of the mill 'quicky'.
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Scary Movie 5 (2013)
2/10
Horrible...but probably not deserving to be in the Bottom 100.
11 October 2018
I have not seen any of the previous "Scary Movie" films. The reason why I chose to watch this one, the least financially successful and apparently worst one of them is that it has made it to the infamous Bottom 100 on IMDB....the lowest ranked major movies of all time. I have a weird desire to not only see tons of foreign and art films, but occasionally I love a bad film...particularly if they are unintentionally funny. In the case of "Scary Movie 5", it's a case of being unintentionally NOT funny!

When the movie begins, you know you are in for a horrid film as the opening scene stars Lindsay Lohan and Martin Sheen! What follows is a very episodic film starring many C and D-list actors that parodies (or is supposed to parody) scary teen films and a variety of non-scary movies as well. During the course of the story there are jokes about weiners, drugs, feces, demonic possessions, vomit, farting, toilets and other intellectual subjects. These jokes are presented rapid-fire. Most fall pretty flat or are disgusting...and a few actually are funny...but only a few.

Overall, this is a mostly unfunny movie starring many annoying actors....but, it is NOT so horrible that it deserves to be in the Bottom 100. Bottom 250...sure...but I can probably come up with at least 200 films worse than this mess...not that this is any sort of endorsement for you to watch it. If you do...don't say I didn't warn you!!
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Luxury Liner (1948)
8/10
The original Love Boat.
11 October 2018
"Luxury Liner" is a film that surprised me. Although it is chock full of opera singing, I still loved it! Surprise, surprise, surprise!

When the story begins, a cruise ship captain (George Brent) is about to go out to sea once again. His VERY precocious daughter (Jane Powell) stows away and spends much of her time telling various ridiculous lies, trying to set up a woman with a future husband as well as trying to get a world famous opera singer (Lauritz Melchior) to listen to her sing. While this might sound pretty annoying, Powell is marvelous as this character....very likable in spite of being a busy-body! The reason is that the film is very charming and well written...and comes off much like an episode of "The Love Boat"...but with opera music! Well worth seeing and very cute.
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6/10
Just okay...mostly due to the material.
11 October 2018
The Hal Roach Studio tried to create a female version of their big stars, Laurel & Hardy. First, they tried pairing Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd...with only moderate success. Then, they paired Todd with Patsy Kelly and the pair made films of about the same mediocre quality as the previous ones. Then, after the death of Todd, they tired Kelly out with a couple different partners...and eventually the concept just fizzled. The problem with these films, in my opinion, was mostly the writing. To me, it seemed that the better scripts went to Laurel & Hardy...and even Charley Chase. The rest was given to the female team...and they just aren't all that funny.

In "Babes in the Goods", Patsy and Thelma work at a department store. They are asked to stay late and work as demonstrators in the window. But they are also told not to stop working until the crowd is gone....and a drunk (Arthur Houseman, who made a career out of such parts) sticks around until after the night watchman leaves...and the ladies are locked in the window. So, they try to make the best of it. What's next? See for yourself.

While the concept was very original, this short seems as if it was written with very few laughs. You cannot entirely blame the ladies for this one being a bit limp...and for Houseman upstaging them. Not a bad film....just not all that good either...although I did like the hat scene at the very end.
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Born to Sing (1942)
7/10
Warner Brothers try their hand at the "Babes in Arms" formula.
10 October 2018
In the late 1930s and early 40s, MGM made a string of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney films featuring young people putting on a show. Movies like "Babes in Arms" and "Babes on Broadway" were popular with audiences....so it's not surprising that Warner Brothers would try their hand with this formula. Aside from having different actors...the formula is pretty much the same here in "Born to Sing".

When the film begins, Snap (Leo Gorcey) gets out of reform school and he goes back to see his old friends. Soon, they smell gas and find a guy trying to kill himself. They save his life and to prevent his nice daughter (Virginia Weidler) from knowing the truth, they make up a lie...though she sees through their ruse. Soon, to help her and her dad, the gang does what they can to help out...and ultimately it results in them creating a show using various kids in the neighborhood. Can the gang manage to pull it all off or are they destined to flop?

Aside from a brief scene with Weidler in blackface, the film is charming and fits the formula almost exactly. While I am not particularly a fan of these sorts of musicals, it's pleasant entertainment and worth a look if you love the old musicals. A couple folks who I really liked in the film were Sheldon Leonard (as a thug who wants to help make the show a success) and Darla Hood of the Little Rascals fame...who had a remarkable singing voice!
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7/10
You definitely need to look at this one through a historical perspective!
10 October 2018
This movie begins with a montage of Al Jolson's most famous tunes. This will no doubt shock many, as he's in his signature black-face during this sequence and during several other numbers. While today this would be clearly seen as patently racist, this was how it was back in the day. Plus, the film also had several numbers by Cab Calloway....and he was a black performer. My advice about all this is watch the movie and just understand the context....otherwise, your head might explode!

In "The Singing Kid", Al Jolson plays a guy who's practically a living saint...and he hits hard times. His agent has cheated him out of his fortune and things only get worse. Due to stress and overwork, he loses his voice and must quit show business...at least temporarily. Fortunately, his two sidekicks (Allen Jenkins and Edward Everett Horton) stick by his side...paycheck or no paycheck. Can Al possibly pull himself out of this rut and make something of himself once again?

Aside from the blackface, the film also has another strike against it....they make Jolson's character seem too nice to be real. First, his wife leaves him. Second, he gets cheated out of his fortune. Third, he loses his voice. Yet, through all this, he never loses his temper (except for a tiny second) and is so swell and sweet that the character drips of phoniness. I think toning this back a bit would have made the film better. Now I am NOT saying they needed to make him a snarling beast...just not quite to angelic as he is in this one. Plus, combined with Sybil Jason (the too adorable little girl), the movie is high on the saccharine scale!!

So is it still worth seeing? The music is certainly memorable and exciting to hear. And, Jolson isn't bad at all...he can't help it his character is this sickeningly sweet! I also enjoyed the Yacht Club Boys. This singing group was like the Ritz Brothers with talent. Also, the dialog between Jenkins and Horton was great...with Horton delivering a lot of great zingers. Overall, despite the film's strengths easily outweigh the deficits.
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