Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Director: John Cromwell
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Lizabeth Scott

An earlier Bogart this time.

"Rip" Murdock (Humphrey Bogart) is on the run.  He confides in a priest the story of how his friend, Johnny Drake and himself are ordered to travel to DC.  He goes missing and Murdock goes AWOL.  He tries to search for his friend, but ends up finding him dead in the southern US.

Murdock goes to a bar and meets Coral Chandler (Scott), Johnny's girlfriend.  When she loses at roulette, he helps her win.  Aww.  My brother used to do that with video games.

When the two go for a nightcap, Murdock's drink is drugged.  He wakes up on the phone with the girl, but discovers the butler's, Ord's, dead body on the bed beside him.  He dumps the body in a laundry chute, but the cops arrive soon after.  They search his room and find nothing.

Murdock teams up with Coral.  The two are pulled over, but Murdock convinces the cop that they are to be married, and lets them go.

Murdock finds the safe in Martinelli's office, but it's open.  He's knocked out by an unknown attacker. 

(rest of plot from Wikipedia)

When Murdock awakens, Martinelli has him roughed up by his thug, Krause (Marvin Miller), to try to find out what is in the coded letter. However, Murdock manages to trick his captors and escape. The flashback ends, and Murdock slips away.

Now suspicious of Coral, he goes to her apartment to confront her. She claims to be innocent, but finally admits that she shot her husband in self-defense. She went to Martinelli for advice and gave him the murder weapon to dispose of, but he has been blackmailing her ever since. In love with her himself, Murdock agrees to leave town with her, but insists on retrieving the incriminating weapon first, despite Coral's objections. He threatens Martinelli with a gun, eliciting some startling revelations. The club owner reveals that Coral is his wife. He killed Chandler (having learned the man had lied about having only six months to live) and framed Drake so that Coral could inherit the estate. Murdock gets what he came for and forces Martinelli to precede him out of the building. As he opens the door, Martinelli is shot and killed.

Murdock jumps into the waiting car and drives off with Coral. As they are speeding away, he accuses her of having just tried to kill him. When she shoots him, the car crashes. He survives, but she suffers fatal injuries. In the hospital, Murdock comforts her in her final moments.

REVIEW:  too confusing, and Lizabeth Scott pouts way too much when she sings.  Very draggy, but good cinematography and acting.


Director: William Wyler
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Fredric March, Arthur Kennedy

Haven't posted in a while, I know.  Watching this film on Boston's movie channel and thought it would be good to review.

Three escaped convicts (Bogart being a convict by the name of Glenn) descend upon a family (March being the patriarch, Dan) who just wants to keep house, but end up moving in and terrorizing them.

(It's ironic that I'm blogging about this film while Mark Cuban is holding DeAndre Jordan hostage, but alas)

Meanwhile, the police are doing everything they can to bring the convicts into custody.

The family reluctantly makes the convicts feel at home, while Dan has to explain the dire situation to his son in a heartwarming scene.

After an attempted rape by a drunk convict, Glenn knocks him out.  Cindy faints and Dan gets the men out of the house.  Unfortunately, while trying to call the police, Ralphie disappears.  It's soon discovered that Bogart is holding him captive.  The family gets their son back, but Dan is knocked out. 

Hal (Gig Young) decides to jump ship and leave the house, to the ire of Glenn.  He eventually lets him leave.  Glenn gets upset and starts throwing the family's items.

Hal hitches a ride with a stranger whom he later carjacks.  He finds refuge at a diner, where he's confronted by an officer, who runs him out onto a dark road, where he is later run over by a truck and dies.

Back at the house, Dan receives a call that his money has arrived.  He tells Ellie that if she hasn't heard from him in four hours, to call the police.

The police confront Cindy's boyfriend, Chuck, about the whereabouts of the criminals after Chuck reveals that Cindy lives in the area.

Dan runs into the police, who guide him to his home, which is now surrounded by police.  They take him into the attic, where they are lying in wait.  They agree to send Dan in with the money, a risky thing to do.  He's obviously caught and forced to hand over the money.

The situation escalates when Dan tries to block to invaders, who end up getting pushed out, except for Glenn.  He gets a hold of Ralphie and takes him hostage again, poor kid.  Pointing a gun to his head, he loses him as Ralph runs away at his father's demands.

Dan corners Glenn in Ralphie's room.  Here, March delivers one of the best lines in the movie, in response to Bogart's "you ain't got in ya!":  "You put it there."

Glenn is finally caught, but he doesn't go down without a fight; he throws a rock at a searchlight, erupting in a hail of gunfire.  But is he really dead?  The cops think so as they take him away.

As for the family, the nightmare is finally over.   

 REVIEW:  Bogie is, as always, a master of noire and suspense.  One of my favorite scenes in this film is when he's just nonchalantly going through the woman's personal possessions.  Despite his older appearance, Bogart still has it; delivering all of his lines as if he were in CASABLANCA again.   
It's refreshing to see March in a role that isn't a mad scientist.  I know he was in plenty of non-horror films, but I've always known him as Dr. Jekyll, so it's good to see him in this.  He carries all the poise of a modern actor.

This is a good noire film, and a good film for Bogie and March in their later years.  It has a TAKEN vibe to it, but not as extreme as the Liam Neeson films.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Director: Frank Capra
Starring: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly

Today I'm reviewing one of the best, in my opinion, screwball comedies of the 30s.

PLOT:  Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) runs away from her father (Walter Connolly) after he finds out that she has eloped with King Westley (Jameson Thomas).  She runs into fired newspaper man Peter Warne (Clark Gable) who tells her that if she gives him an exclusive, he'll lead her to Westley.  Ellie agrees and the two set off on a journey together.

Ellie and Peter fall in love during the course of the journey. At the wedding ceremony, Ellie runs away to find Peter and marry him.

REVIEW: Witty one-liners and funny jokes make up the bulk of this movie, starring two people that are often viewed as serious actors.  This is simply a funny film and it's great fun for the whole family (minus the leg show by Colbert).  5/5


Friday, August 8, 2014

1984 (1984)

Director:  Michael Radford
Cast:  John Hurt, Suzanna Hamilton, Richard Burton, Cyril Cusack

I've been wanting to watch this film for about a week now, after having read the novel and enjoyed it.  I've heard it's very accurate, so let's see how it goes!

PLOT:  Winston Smith (John Hurt) is a thirty-nine-year-old depressed, oppressed citizen living in Airstrip One (the UK) in the super state of Oceania, which combines the Americas, New Zealand and the British Isles.  He works for the Ministry of Records, producing goods for INGSOC, English Socialism, headed by Big Brother.  The government is totalitarian, with two-way "telescreens" that watch an Outer Party citizen's every move, scarce food and awful living conditions.  He meets a fellow Outer Party member, Julia (Suzanna Hamilton), and the two fall in love, using sex as rebellion.  Eventually, however, they are captured and tortured and Winston loves Big Brother, and Julia no longer loves him.

REVIEW:  As with any film adaptation, if you haven't read the book, do so before watching the movie.  The beginning of the film is absolutely haunting and serves to drive home the message that Orwell sought to tell.  The music is amazing, one of the most beautiful film scores I've ever heard.  The settings are dark and depressing, setting the mood.  There are some funny moments, hard to believe, such as Winston's dejected Napoleon Dynamite-ish face when he wakes up in the morning to do his morning exercises.  The film is a bit scary at times due to its dark imagery and attention to face detail (see:  the prostitute Winston visits).  All in all, the film stays true to the book and really puts into vision the picture of this totalitarian society that Orwell had in mind. 5/5    

Trailer (the entire film is available on Amazon Prime Instant):

Monday, July 7, 2014

My Fair Lady (1964)

Director:  George Cukor
Cast:  Rex Harrison, Audrey Hepburn, Stanley Holloway, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Gladys Cooper, Jeremy Brett

First saw this film in my freshman year of college.  We watched it for my Linguistics class, and as you'll see, there's a good reason why.  The film is based on George Bernard Shaw's play, Pygmalion.  The musical theater version starred Julie Andrews.

PLOT:  Uppity professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) bets his rival, Zoltan Karparthy (Theodore Bikel) that he can transform girl-from-the-slums Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) into a lady by teaching her proper English and grooming her.  This, obviously, is a difficult task, but Eliza finally makes it by some miracle ("the RAIN in SPAIN stays MAINLY in the PLAIN"), and even manages to fall in love along the way.

REVIEW:  This musical is one of my favorites; great songs and a great cast.  A very unexpected role for Audrey Hepburn to take, and her singing voice IS dubbed, but she is funny and does well.  Of course, no one expects Rex Harrison to be able to sing, so his solo is mostly him talking, but it is funny nonetheless.  The film is basically a classy version of NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE, except without teenagers.  4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (1940)

Director:  George B. Seitz
Cast:  Lewis Stone, Mickey Rooney, Cecilia Parker, Fay Holden, Judy Garland

Well, Happy New Year, everyone!  Sorry, I haven't been reviewing in a while, but I'll be reviewing two films today.

PLOT:  The film starts off interestingly.  I say that because the film fades into an opening scene of Andy (the now late and great Rooney) sleeping next to a magazine featuring his crush, socialite Daphne Fowler (Diana Lewis), as the front page.  Interesting for a post-code picture.

Judge Hardy (Lewis Stone) has to go to New York to work on a case involving an orphanage and decides to take the whole family.  Andy is reluctant to go because Polly Benedict (Ann Rutherford) and Beezy Anderson (George P. Breakston) printed the story about how he knows Daphne in the school newspaper.  Typical high school drama, even in the 40s!

While in New York, Andy runs into an old friend, Betty Booth (Judy Garland).  However, desperate to find Miss Fowler, he asks his mother (Fay Holden) to write a letter of recommendation for Miss Fowler.  He takes the letter to Daphne, but her mother pushes him away.

Andy goes to a restaurant and is unable to pay the bill.  Meaanwhile, Judge Hardy is able to solve the orphanage case.  By some luck, Betty knows Daphne, so she takes Andy to a high-society party where he finally meets her and shuts his gigantic mouth.  They kiss, even though they don't want to and promise to write to each other.

REVIEW:  As with any Andy Hardy film, this film is funny and light-hearted.  It's always fun to see Andy come of age and, in this film, fail miserably at Roman history.  Judy, who I normally find unbearable, sings 2 songs:  "Alone" and "Nobody's Baby" beautifully.  4 out of 5 stars.



Monday, October 28, 2013

Diabolique (1955)

Director:  H.G. Clouzot
Starring:  Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel

Haven't reviewed a film in a while, have I?  Well, since it's Halloween, TCM has a great lineup of horror films, and I'm going to review a great one that I saw in my high school French class, DIABOLIQUE.

PLOT:  The film takes place in a French boarding school run by Michel Delassalle (Paul Meurisse).  However, his wife Christina (Véra Clouzot) pays fore everything.  She is frail and sickly.  One night after dinner, Michel physically abuses her.

Christina devises a plan with Nicole Horner (who is also abused by Michel, played by Simone Signoret) to kill Michel.  She and Nicole go to Nicole's apartment and lure Michel to her place.  When he gets there, he begs for Christina to take him back and she refuses.  While he's asleep, they drown him in the bathtub.

Back at school, the ladies dump Miguel's body into the school swimming pool.  When the pool is drained, Michel's body is nowhere to be found.  Scared, the women decide to flee, unaware of where the body is.

One night, Christina is awakened by the private investigator, who says he found Miguel.  Christina confesses she killed him and threw him in the pool with Nicole.  That same night, she sees someone moving throughout the building.  She goes to investigate and is followed by a man.  She follows him and enters a room where Michel's name has been typed on a typewriter repeatedly.  Entering the bathroom, she discovers her husband's corpse in the bathtub.  It begins to rise and we see the infamous eyeball scene.  Michel then murders Christina and we see that it was all a plot by Michel and Nicole to murder Christina. 

At the end, a little boy who breaks a window claims that Christina gave him a slingshot, despite her being dead.

REVIEW:  I'm still surprised that swearing was allowed in foreign films, but I try to remember that foreign films didn't have the Hayes code restricting them.  Anyway, this is a masterfully done film using two strong, powerful, unafraid female leads (until the end, at least).  The climax is well done too.  5 out of 5 stars.