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7/10
Romantic adventure and chase from English countryside to Buenos Aires.
10 October 2015
This is a charming showcase for the handsome John Lodge and Gertrude Michael who apparently had something going off-screen. The story is an engaging English production,a romantic adventure , and good enough for the American market. You will probably never have a chance to see this film but fortunately when my 16mm print deteriorated, I found a better one. Gertrude's performance is somewhat reminiscent of her Sophie Lang trilogy (1934-1937). John Lodge was a smoking hottie ! The story revolves around the purchase of several strands of rare black pearls. Each time Lodge attempts to finalize a deal he is outfoxed by Gertrude. The question is: how does she get the jump on him ? HIs irritation with her inevitably leads to romance. The climax reveals her identity and a happy conclusion.
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English version of the 1937 German film TRUXA
8 October 2015
Otto Kruger, John Clement and Gertrude Michael star in this 1938 English production STAR OF THE CIRCUS.

Released in the U.S. in 1940 as HIDDEN MENACE.

The story revolves around Gertrude as a Viennese circus star and her romances with three men.

The story moves quickly with equal measure of romance, drama, comedy,action and danger.

Fortunately, I was able to obtain an excellent 16mm print recently. I have been able to find over 30 years many 16mm prints of Gertrude Michael films.

She had a busy career starting in 1929 with stage director Stuart Walker and then on to Broadway,an MGM contract in 1932, followed by a 1933 contract with Paramount. Unfortunately, her career was blighted by her alcoholism. Despite this, she stayed active for thirty years, moving over mostly to television in the 1950s.
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9/10
Femme Fatale Noir -Virginia Grey has a field day !
13 April 2008
Not a heavy-duty noir but close enough for the purists not to be totally outraged at my classification of this obscure sleeper, SMOOTH AS SILK is a fast paced crime drama featuring sexy Virginia Grey heartlessly romancing three gents at the same time to advance her career. She has a field day with great bitchy remarks and retorts thanks to writer Dane Lussier who previously gave Stephanie Bachelor great lines in PORT OF FORTY THIEVES. The viewer is expecting her to get her just desserts for three-timing her prey, but twists in the story keep one guessing how it will all end. The producer Jack Bernhard directed/produced DECOY and directed BLONDE ICE.
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5/10
aka ISLAND OF THE CRAZED BRITISH COLONIALS
28 October 2003
Well, so they are not on an island but stuck in some godawful jungle outpost in British East Africa. The set is a hoot with all that vintage wicker furniture and a grand piano which in that humidity could never have stayed in tune. BACLANOVA,in her second talkie and in her only starring role, was hardly intelligible in English. But no matter as she is fascinating to watch as she gesticulates and undulates during seizures of unbridled passion and JUNGLE MADNESS. Early in the film she is seated at the piano carrying on a conversation during which time she curiously turns to the sheet music to consult her phonetically prepared script. The nitrate print at the UCLA Archives which I viewed many years ago thanks to Robert Gitt seemed to have run 80 minutes. My 16mm print runs 72 minutes. The missing scenes include Olga breaking a phonograph record of the financee of her next male target, her brother-in-law. Shortly after that her husband Clive Brook is moodily pacing with a revolver in his room. The jungle scene in which Olga and Neil Hamilton watch the natives dance permits our star to stage a near orgasmic display. The film is racist and sexist seen in today's sactimonious PC perspective but hardly offensive to anyone when taken into historical context. I won't give away the ending but BACLANOVA did survive in order to appear in Wm. Wellman's THE MAN I LOVE -1929 released by Paramount the same month in which she devoured several men daily during tea time. She was getting in training for FREAKS -1932 !!! Seriously, she was a genuine talent who had been superbly directed in her silent films by Von Sternberg, Stiller,Leni and Schertzinger. Her talkie films were mostly directed by hacks, Do I need to name them ?
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7/10
GOOD SAN FRANCISCO CRIME/ NOIR OBSCURED BY MISLEADING TITLE
25 October 2003
One does not expect a whole lot from a Lippert feature but since noir enthusiasts are sifting through poverty row features to find new titles, they should check this one out. William Berke directed and Benjamin Kline lensed this competent,engaging crime actioner.Shot totally on location in San Francisco with plenty of night street scenes,the chase covers the Marina,the Filbert Street stairs on Telegraph Hill,the Embarcadero,downtown business area,the Tenderloin and Twin Peaks. Most Lippert films were produced in as little a five days,and rarely in over two weeks, This venture took eleven days but does not particularly look like a rush job. The stars Adele Jergens and Glenn Langan ,a very handsome couple indeed, allegedly met and married about the time of filming. Steve Brodie fans will love his portrayal of a sleazy lawyer. Michael Whalen,Michael Vallon and Dead End kid Bobby Jordan turn in good performances. Given an edgy title this film would be better known. It may not be in a class with the recently revived WOMAN ON THE RUN but it certainly should appeal to noir enthusiasts who crave a San Francisco locale.
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8/10
INTENDED AS EXPLOITATION FILM BUT CALL IT NAZI-NOIR
24 October 2003
Les Adams's lengthy summary of this production and its plot would suggest he has seen the film.I beg to differ on a few minor points: The hostesses are not all Anglos though there is one from Angleterre. The U.S.,Mexico,France,China and maybe Australia are also represented. The secret wife of William Henry is not Tala Birell, but Virginia Christine. Tala Birell ,the "Shanghai Mata Hari", received top-billing performing superior to the part. The production was filmed over a thirty day period at the Playa Ensenada Hotel in Mexico utilizing some very attractive interior decor. There are a few outdoor scene but they are minor. The plot is not so sordid but the lesbian relationship between the character's played by Jeans Brooks and Bernadene Hayes is clearly indicated. My 16mm print of this film,formerly owned by William K.Everson, is retitled CAPTURED.Film Classics sold off the rights to the film within two years. WOMEN IN THE NIGHT is a great favortte of Elliot Lavine, esteemed San Francisco programmer,formerly with the Roxie Cinema. He has show the film several times at the Roxie and at the Los Angeles Film School. Surviving cast member Iris Flores (Ride the Pink Horse), who played the Mexican hostess, attended the Los Angeles screening with her extended family several years ago, and I understand it was a warmly enjoyed event.
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Unique and unrestrained BEA LILLE comedy
24 October 2003
According to Miles Kreuger,this production began in April 1930 as a large-scale 90 minute musical comedy announced for a mid-summer opening.About the same time the public's enthusiasm for musicals had dried up. FOX decided to cut four of the eight musical numbers and offer it to the public as a 60 minute straight comedy with songs. When it was finally previewed in November 1930 to the trade publications, it was widely ridiculed. FOX then slipped it into second-run and neighborhood theatres rather than premier it. VARIETY helped seal it fate with a devasting review in July 1931, declaring it a ridiculous farce.

Reportedly the film was revived at the New York Film Festival in 1969 and

shown at MOMA in the 1970s to an appreciative audience. The famous fox hunt scene in AUNTIE MAME must have been lifted from this film. Also, LADY TUBBS (1935) copied it. Ricard Barrios' "A Song in the Dark" describes the film at length and comments on the contrasting performances of Lillie and Baclanova.

In conclusion, it would seem that a headstrong international cast grabbed the reins from a novice director and proceded to have a field day. I enjoy screening my 16mm - 23 minute excerpt of ARE YOU THERE? which included three songs and alot of very bizarre comedy. One only could hope that the 60 minute version had more public exposure and that the missing four musical production numbers and 30 minutes of footage would miraculously be found.
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8/10
AS A LADY RAFFLES IN ONE OF THE LAST PRE-CODE FILMS
21 October 2003
In her eighteenth film in only two years,Gertrude Michael, having recently signed a long term contract with Paramount Pictures, was handed an assignment turned down by Carole Lombard, that of a lady jewel thief. Blonde, intelligent,sophisticated and edgy, Michael suited the role to a tee. Her performance opened her career to leads and costarring roles through the rest of the 1930s. The Catholic Church condemned this film for it glamorization of an amoral criminal. The audiences loved her easy chemistry with leading man Paul Cavanaugh, the scene-stealing Alison Skipworth,and the comic antics of Leon Errol. The film generated a series of two additional films which due to the puritannically revised code forced Sophie Lang to evolve into a rehabilitated criminal fighting evil. Still they were all good fun as Sophie Lang constantly appeared in different disguises and led the cops and the crooks on a merry chase. Several years ago this film was show in a 1930s Bad Girl retrospect at San Francisco's Roxie Cinema.Also on that program were Tala Birell in "She's Dangerous" and Claire Trevor in "Big Town Girl".
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8/10
Superior WWI Spy Tale - Plenty of action and suspense
19 October 2003
This noteworthy "B" or programmer film from 1936 stars Herbert Marshall, Gertrude Michael,and Lionel Atwell, all of whom turn in top performances under the efficient and inspired direction of Robert Florey. Thank to Florey the costuming, set decoration and general period detail are of the highest order. One wishes that the film was longer than 72 minutes and given an "A" budget. In fact the story had been a Paramount property for years and in 1933 and was proposed for Herbert Marshall and Sylvia Sidney. Several years later the property was dusted-off and assigned to Gertrude Michael who had been a rising star since Paramount had signed her to a long term contract in December 1933. This film is sometimes confused with FORGOTTEN FACES (1936),the E.A.Dupont film which also starred Marshall and Michael. Due to some pre-release publicity and reviews, TILL WE MEET AGAIN was referred to as FORGOTTEN FACES. TILL WE MEET AGAIN was presented in retrospect several years ago at the Roxie Cinema in San Francisco. I believe I can direct to the proper source anyone interested in VHS copy of this film.
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Flash Gordon (1954–1955)
TALA BIRELL IN CREDITED ROLE
28 August 2003
Tala Birell's role is indicated in the credits (not "uncredited" as heretofore indicated). The episode was filmed in Berlin and was the only episode in which Tala appeared. She looked all of her 45 years and would die several years later from cancer. Tala's commanding presence as a vicious queen determined to rule the universe expands the range of camp performances, unfortunately her last role in a 30 years career on stage and in film.
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Not a lost film
28 August 2003
This film may no longer exist in the two-tone color process(Hirlicolor)as originally issued in 1936, however it does exist in black/white in 16mm format. The story line is curiously similar in parts to GAY DESPERADO filmed/released also in 1936. Ann Miller is fleetingly seen as a dancer. The film pushes the envelope with the portrayal of two gay characters: Jean Chatburn as Lily Damita's butch secretary and writer Tiffany Thayer perhaps just acting his natural sissy self. The movie progresses like a 'B" Western with a speedy plot resolution after a fairly enjoyable 72 minutes. Crane Wilbur's direction, story and screenplay all reflect his curiously bizarre and uneven talent.
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