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Joe Peters (Charles McGraw) is a no-nonsense insurance investigator. He unwillingly gets involved with chiseler Diane Morley (Joan Dixon). Later, he's investigating suspect Kendall Webb (Lowell Gilmore) who happens to be Diane's man. He has fallen for her and willingly corrupts his morals.
The story is told in a straight and narrow fashion like Joe's initial character. His downward slide is just as straight. There is a coldness to the stiff telling. It does have a car chase through the Los Angeles river bed. I wonder if it's the first or at least one of the first. It's also quite an epic walk off to end the film.
Easy to Wed (1946)
The "Morning Star" is desperately collecting their papers in fear of the powerful J. B. Allenbury. He promises to sue the paper for $2 million for defaming his daughter Connie Allenbury Chandler (Esther Williams). It's an open and shut case. The paper has been a thorn in the side of Allenbury and this is his chance to shut it down. Warren Haggerty (Keenan Wynn) leaves his wedding to performer Gladys Benton (Lucille Ball) to fix the problem. He has to rehire philandering reporter Bill Chandler (Van Johnson) to go on a mission to sully Connie's reputation. They come up with a scheme involving Gladys.
It gets a bit boring after the wedding. I've never seen Esther Williams as a particularly good actress. I hoped that reintroducing Lucille Ball would add some more screwball comedy. She does what she could but her role is somewhat limited. Van Johnson does the bulk of the comedic heavy lifting with mixed results. I like his solo duck hunting effort more so for its audacity. He is alone with the dog for a long time. As a trio, they are mostly bland like a 50's white toast sandwich with mayo. The movie picks up whenever Lucy gets to play. She's a fun drunk.
A prank at the all-girls boarding school Fairfield Academy leads to the death of a student named Kerrie. The prank seems to have brought out a real supernatural spirit. The death is assumed to be a suicide. New student Camille Meadows (Suki Waterhouse) arrives to take over Kerrie's room. She gets into a fight with the clic of girls involved with the prank and they all get detention. While in detention, they decide to perform a seance to contact Kerrie.
It's all very average and middling starting with lead actress Suki Waterhouse. The story, the location, and the filmmaking are all middling. It's not actually scary although it's a little spooky. The twist is not shocking as much as it's a relief that it makes sense. The mystery is the same. I'm just glad that it's not completely stupid but the reveal is a long information dump.
Slumber Party Massacre (2021)
upside down twist
It's 1993. Four girls are having a slumber party in a cabin. Chad is Trish's jealous ex. All of them are attacked by the drill-welding killer, Russ Thorne. Trish is the sole survivor. It's present day. Dana leaves her overprotective mother and joins her friends on a girls weekend. Their car breaks down and they end up back to where the attack originally occurred.
It starts as a standard exploitation horror with a bit of comedy but it gets annoying as the standard becomes predictable. Then comes the shocking twist. It turns the whole movie upside down. I love the idea but not always the execution. It's jumping over the fine line to make fun of the original movies. Maybe a bit of subtlety would be more compelling. For example, Guy 1 and Guy 2 could simply be Chad 1 and Chad 2. It's possible to have two Chads in the same friends group. By doing the two Guys, the movie stops existing in the real world. This world isn't that real to begin with. Finally, there is the last act. The girls are being too girlie. There is something obvious. It keeps going on and on. It's better to cut it short. All in all, this is more imaginative and better made than the original.
Slumber Party Massacre II (1987)
not getting better
Courtney Bates (Crystal Bernard), the younger sister of survivor Valerie, is now a high school senior. Valerie is in a mental hospital hounded by the killer. Courtney is in a band with three other girls and has a crush on Matt. Nightmares start haunting Courtney with Valerie warning her not to go all the way. The group of friends have a party at an empty condo in an unfinished development.
The original is nothing more than an exploitation horror. The horror is low grade and the exploitation is basic T&A. At least in this sequel, the franchise gets a real actress in Crystal Bernard although there is nobody else. This series is still struggling as it tries to copy Nightmare on Elm Street. The 50's greaser killer is bad. It's more cheese than fear. It also looks in the soundtrack. There is nothing scary. It's all pretty bad.
fine low grade horror with some ups and downs
This is a found footage film based on VHS tapes. The first of the anthology stories is a group of rampaging young men committing petty crimes. They are recruited to break into a house and steal a bunch of tapes. The second one is three friends bringing women back to their motel room from the bar. The third is a young couple on their honeymoon. The fourth is a bunch of young people going off into the woods. The fifth is people talking through a video chat. The sixth is a Halloween haunted house.
As is often the case with anthology movies, there are some good and some bad parts. In this case, some of them are rather memorable and that makes this standout despite the bad. I like the motel room. Mostly, I love the naturally spooky look of Hannah Fierman. I also like the fourth one in the woods. In that one, I like the look of the anomaly. Not all of this works but there is nothing egregious. It's a fine low grade horror.
Back in Circulation (1937)
Ace reporter 'Timmy' Blake (Joan Blondell) uses her feminine wiles and any bold-faced lie to get the story before rivals like Snoopy Davis. She is set to marry her editor Bill Morgan (Pat O'Brien) despite having constant arguments with him. Her next assignment is reporting on the death of the rich motor baron Spencer Wade. She comes into town declaring that he was poisoned. Eugene Forde was his doctor. Timmy's reporting starts laying suspicions upon the widow Arline Wade.
I'm not sure that they actually love each other. Do they even like each other? There is a difference between angry banter and loving banter. Pat O'Brien is not doing loving and Joan oscillates. The movie does these big broad screwball comedy bits and some don't come off right. The shattered glass doors always come after their fights and that accentuates something that needs less accents. I don't like this pairing but I do like Timmy being a scheming reporter. Joan Blondell could pull off sassy and scheming with enough appeal. Her oscillations help her in this case. This movie would work much better if only she isn't in a relationship.
The Casino Murder Case (1935)
Philo Vance series
Gentleman sleuth Philo Vance (Paul Lukas) receives a letter from "a friend" warning of danger to wealthy Lynn Llewwllen later that night. Nobody takes it that seriously. Doris Reed (Rosalind Russell) is Mrs. Llewwllen's assistant.
Paul Lukas is no William Powell. Rosalind Russell is somewhat close to Myrna Loy. The pairing in this movie is not that great and there isn't enough of it anyways. This tries some comedy early but that doesn't last with the murder mystery. This is the ninth in the Philo Vance film series. It's not that compelling.
Her Pen Pal (2021)
Hallmark in Paris
Professional event planner Victoria is excited to go to Paris for her friend's wedding. She is surprised when her longtime ex-love Cameron Reisch shows up with his hot new girlfriend. She needs a competing wedding date and her friends look up her childhood pen pal Jacques.
The story is fine for Hallmark. The actors are also fine. I mostly check this out for the Paris street views although I'm not sure if this is all shot in France. The outdoor locations look mostly legit and that's very nice. Quite frankly, I couldn't care less about the story or the characters. I would be perfectly happy to have an hour long stroll through the Parisian streets even if the filmmaking is less than compelling. The locations more than make up for any deficiencies.
My Dear Miss Aldrich (1937)
Maureen and some screwball
Martha Aldrich (Maureen O'Sullivan) inherits a New York newspaper when the old owner died without a will. She's a distant relative and an "old maid schoolteacher from Nebraska". She is joined by Aunt Lou. Managing editor Ken Morley (Walter Pidgeon) is dismissive of a female owner or hiring any female reporters. Martha decides to prove him wrong.
This does have the great Maureen O'Sullivan but the character does not measure up in this battle of the sexes. I don't like that she stumbles into her stories more often than not. Her character has smarts and Maureen is really good at projecting smart. I would cut back on some of the girlie frivolity and add some small town ingenuity to her character. The movie takes a very screwball physical comedy turn in the second half. It needs to setup this tone at the start. Martha can have some funny trip back in Nebraska. Also, her getup is insane although old movies sometimes had crazy outfits. This is fine but it could have been better.
sixth and final
Perry Mason gets an unusual client. Australian Bishop William Mallory is that stuttering client who wants to clear the name of a woman who supposedly killed a man 22 years earlier. The bishop claims to be a witness but he is knocked out in his hotel room. Oil tycoon Renald C. Brownley is looking to put her away for some unknown reason.
I think I followed the case but the movie is not making it easy. I like the start but it gets complicated. It's the sixth and final of the early Perry Mason movies. The character would gain new life on television after this. As a cinematic experience, he is not popping whereas the television character would gain familiarity with the audience.
A Thrill for Thelma (1935)
good cautionary tale
It's MGM Crime Does Not Pay Series #4. Thelma starts out with all the promise in the world but ends up as one of the woman inmates in the opening scene. She wanted to enjoy herself and becomes entangled by her husband Steve Black. He pulls her further and further into his crimes.
A lot of these Crime Don't Pay shorts are a little silly but this one is actually a good cautionary tale. Most women in prison are there due to their partners' crimes. That doesn't make this good cinema but most of these aren't.
Robin Hood-Winked (1948)
Popeye is Robin Hood and Little John is his sidekick. They arrive at the pub run by Olive Oyl. Next, evil tax collector Bluto shows up expecting to collect 100% tax. Bluto challenges Popeye in an arrow shooting fight.
It's a Popeye cartoon from Famous Studios. It's better than most Famous products. I do wonder if it's due to Popeye doing something other than a sailor man. I would think that Wimpy could have been his sidekick Friar Tuck. I don't know why they introduce a new character like Little John. Nevertheless, this is pretty good overall.
not quite On The
Jim Dolen is the twice-elected head of the dock-worker's union. Ann Stacey would marry him if he stops fighting for a month. He gets arrested for accidentally knocking out his friend Frankie Donahue in a fight with rival Mart Hendler. Ann has had enough of his short temper. He vows to change and even quits being a longshoremen. Mart is elected the new President. After a tragic incident, Jim's vow is put to the test.
The acting is a bit melodramatic at times. The plotting gets a bit stiff at times. It's a crime drama adapted from a play. It's trying to treat the material seriously. I did see James Cagney in the 1931 film Taxi. Cagney is superior although this movie has the better story. I would like a better ending but this is still fine.
Ancient Egypt (1939)
TravelTalks goes to Egypt starting with the Valley of the Kings. Narrator James A. FitzPatrick emphasizes the old age of this civilization. He visits many ancient monuments. One can't go wrong showing Egypt this way. It is interesting to see some of old irrigation works and the old river boats. I really love the old water mechanisms. The ancient monuments are certain to be still around but the old water systems have probably been replaced with modern pumps.
Robot Wrecks (1941)
easy charm of Our Gang
Our Gang is at a department store watching a robot demonstration. The robot, Volto, pushes a lawn mower around. The kids decide to make their own robot. Slicker tricks the kids and sells them a box of invisible rays. Slicker's friend Boxcar had put on the robot costume and pretended to make it work.
It's an Our Gang short. It's not anything special but it has an easy charm. I don't know why a department store would do a fake demonstration of the robot. Are they selling robots? The demonstration should have been about the appliances. The robot should have been a side show. Quite frankly, it should have been a giant rudimentary toy robots. The presenter could get frustrated with Our Gang and kick them out of the store. That would be a good catalyst for them to make their own robot. The rest is good kiddie fun.
A SWAT team raids a cult and discovers various supernatural found footage stories on tape. Not all the stories are good. The best is the underground storm drain which happens to be the first found footage. I love the darkness. It's great to have the reporter slowly being drawn further and further into the darkness. The empty wake probably needs some setting up. These stories get be a bit abrupt. It's their nature. The others aren't as compelling and the movie slowly loses tension. That's also the nature of some of these movies as less compelling individual stories start piling up. The SWAT team members aren't individual enough. It would help to have actors with charisma. That's also the nature of these smaller indie franchises. They don't have the best actors.
Ride the Eagle (2021)
loving Jake and D'Arcy
Slacker musician Leif Reinhold (Jake Johnson) is told of his estranged mother Honey (Susan Sarandon)'s death. She leaves him her a large cabin but the conditional inheritance comes with many tasks to complete. One of the tasks is to call his former love Audrey (D'Arcy Carden). Carl (J. K. Simmons) is Honey's ex.
Jake and D'Arcy have a nice comedic chemistry even on the phone. I wouldn't them doing something more in another movie. The phone sex is fun. They have the same comedic sensibility. They could have done more in this movie like talk about their past relationship. It would have been fine to have them talked the whole movie. Jake and J. K. are also good but they are one person removed. There is always going to be a hole in the middle of their connection. This is a fine little indie.
Le couteau dans la plaie (1962)
second tier thriller
Lisa (Sophia Loren) and Robert Macklin (Anthony Perkins) are unhappily married in Paris. She wants to leave him but he pleads for them to stay together. His plane to Casablanca crashes and he is presumed dead after purchasing a large flight insurance. He surprises her coming home after avoiding death and suggests collecting on the insurance anyways. He would take the money and run away leaving her as she wishes.
This would work better if Robert is played by a scarier actor. Perkins plays creepy really well but he's not exactly overpowering. This is trying to be a Hitchcockian thriller but it doesn't have his touch. I don't see the reason for Barnes. She should be avoiding him like the plague. The story is pushing too hard. I do like the kid and the way he pushes his way in. I don't like that she doesn't get rid of Barnes and the others more forcefully. She should just tell them that she doesn't want to party after her husband's death. I don't understand what she's doing.
3 Stooges in 3D
Larry, Moe, and Shemp are three amoral bumbling private detectives hired to find the missing Mary 'Bea' Bopper. They go disguised as pie salesmen and find her kidnapped by Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. The two mad scientists are working to exchange Mary's brain with a gorilla.
It's a Halloween 3 Stooges in 3D. It's got all silly 3D cheese throwing everything at the screen. There is something about the guys' ridiculous physical comedy that really works with cheesy 3D. I don't know how it actually looks though. It's black and white. I don't know if black and white can be turned into actual 3D. Nevertheless, this is lots of light fun.
Hero Mode (2021)
16 year old Troy Mayfield (Chris Carpenter) is a programming savant. His mother Kate Mayfield (Mira Sorvino) runs the family video game company but she doesn't want him to work there. After he gets suspended from school, he scares off his mother's angel investor. The company is in trouble. Troy fixes the company's only game created by lead programmer Jimmy Tisdale (Sean Astin). His mother gives him control of the game but his idea may be too big and time is short.
I don't know anything about the Carpenter family. This seems to be a real indie affair with this family writing a script and getting it made. I give them full marks for effort. The story has some good ideas but sadly, it also has some bad ideas. The worst is the kid decides to make a whole new game in a month. That is ridiculous. A better idea would be that he already has written the game. They could spend the time adapting it. It's still not enough time but at least, that is not beyond reason. The final solution has the same issue with unreasonable programming. Finally, I hate the programming montages. I hate the spinning around and around. It reminds of Hackers in a bad way. That move fits the silliness of Hackers but this one is in desperate need of believability. They could have steered into the low rent production by doing a simple fast forward. It's also possible for him to not just sit in front of the computer. Despite the general unrealistic world, this story has some good elements and it has a great cast. The kids are fine. This just needs to clean up the unrealistic parts.
Coast New Zealand (2015)
more beauty coasts
Neil Oliver is the host. He introduces stories and vistas of the New Zealand coast. He's joined by other experts in the presentations. It's the third Coast show. It's always nice to have the waves and the beaches and the beautiful nature. Some of human stories are interesting. The New Zealand coast looks beautiful.
What About Brian (2006)
What about Marjorie
Brian Davis (Barry Watson) is a single guy in L. A. His friends and relations are all couples. He's the seventh wheel. His car is a wreck. He rear-ends a girl and starts dating the unstable car-girl. His older sister Nicole Varzi (Rosanna Arquette) is struggling to get pregnant. His best friend Adam Hillman (Matthew Davis) is marrying Marjorie Seaver (Sarah Lancaster). Only, Brian is secretly in love with her. He and his other best friend Dave Greco (Rick Gomez) have created a video game. Dave is married to Deena (Amanda Detmer) with kids.
This is a group of thirtysomethings with personal issues and relationship dramas. There are some ugly characteristics in this group. Mostly, they're irresponsible and sex-obsessed. The worst of the bunch is Dave. Deena is only better by comparison. I feel for their kids except the kids are little more than props. The little ones barely have any screen time other than a few important scenes. Dave and Deena need to be with their kids to humanize them at the start of the show. They need to be a family before their breakup would mean anything.
Brian is no saint neither. Barry Watson does have his puppy dog looks and a nice guy persona. The show tries to make his exes seem crazy like car girl but in reality, he's the disinterested party. He is emotionally stunted while trying to play the victim. It gets worst when his father shows up. He becomes more a child in his father's presence. It's a race between his father and Dave as the worst major character for the show.
Marjorie is willfully ignorant and Adam is just a dude. His big contribution is bringing in Rachelle Lefevre. She actually brings his previously boring character to life. He becomes interesting. The over-riding issue for this show is the non-stop parade of beautiful babes. Non of them stick and it makes the show rather superficial. It brings us back to Marjorie. She may not be the titular subject of the show but she is the object of desire. The first replacement season centers on her and the desire for her. She is made to be everything for Brian but the second season leaves her out in the cold. My only guess is that Sarah Lancaster was not signed on for the second season and she was probably trying to get a show of her own. Otherwise, it makes no sense to sideline her like this. She's the love of his life... supposedly.
No Man of God (2021)
FBI agent Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood) interviews serial killer Ted Bundy (Luke Kirby) who is on death row.
This movie has limited tension. In the first part of this, Bill really has no specific goal other than just talking with Bundy. He is only in danger of getting killed by the mass murderer. He needs a specific goal but his mission is specifically goalless. It's an interesting performance from Luke Kirby. There isn't much in terms of plot. They do introduce a ticking clock in the last section but the stakes are never elevated. If they need to give peace to these families, then they should have somebody show how troubled they are. They need to elevate the intensity.
The Addams Family 2 (2021)
still love the characters
Wednesday uses Uncle Fester in her experiment for a science fair run by Cyrus Strange. Morticia and Gomez take the family on a road trip and Wednesday is not too happy. Cyrus Strange now claims to be her biological father in a switched-at-birth accident. Gomez tries to stay ahead of Strange's lawyer and keep it secret from Wednesday.
I do love these characters but I also wonder if most of that love comes from the live action movies. I do wish that they use some of the live action actors for the voices. As for this story, it's good to center it on Wednesday but it does make the rest of the family more like supporting characters. The better drama is probably Wednesday being kidnapped and the family working together to rescue her. For this movie, the middle meanders around. Their stops are rather random. They go to Niagara Falls instead of Salem. It's not the best choice. I do like the fish-out-of-water aspect of going to Miami beach. This seems to be trying to be Vacation or something. It's not really that good but I still love these characters.