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French Toast

euro caper in paris
Hmmm... there are some real strengths in this caper; mostly a good storyline, scenery of south africa and of paris. some fun moments, as Lisa and JeanPierre romp around town. there are also some large plot holes... the odds of the huge coincidences that occur. i don't want to get too specific to spoil any surprises, but by the end, its a little much. people in the film fall for each other very quickly. this feels like the basic premise of real family secrets and having unknown siblings in other countries really is someone's own story. but then they embellished on the details. and there are some very confusing moments. I had to turn on subtitles, since they speak afrikaans, english, and french. Lots of krugers in the credits.... seems to be a family project. writer, director, cast, even the producers. on netflix, so i also used rewind a couple times. it's mostly good, but has some weaknesses. like any film, i guess.

Of Human Hearts

some big actors, but not much of a script.
Some pretty HUGE names in this one from MGM in1938. Walter Huston, is Reverend Wilkins. Beulah Bondi (Mrs. Wilkins) was nominated for supporting actress for this role. Jimmy Stewart is Jason, and had only been in hollywood a couple years. Charles Coburn is Doc Shingle. Guy Kibbee is "Ames". Sterling Holloway did the voice for Winnie the Pooh SO many times! the Reverend is so disappointed that Jason wants to be a doctor, but as we know, we can never live up to our parents' expectations, and can really only please ourselves. (and honestly, what's so wrong with wanting to be a doctor ?? these days, they usually make pretty good money.) it's okay. a whole lotta religion and lessons to be "learnt". Huston was the perfect authoritative figure; he was the stern missionary in Rain, he was Abe Lincoln several times, he played doctors, judges, and mayors. always the serious, driven character. Directed by Clarence Brown, who worked with ALL the big names at 20th Century and MGM. he was nominated SIX times as best director, but didn't get a win. the film itself is no big deal, but sure has some great actors in the cast! it's all just okay.

Frenchman's Creek

period piece... Pirates!
From the Daphne DuMaurier novel... a 27 year old Joan Fontaine is Dona St. Columb...and for the first 20 minutes, we're not quite sure what is going on. Lady Columb bumps into a pirate, and the flirtation begins. you might notice actors basil rathbone and nigel bruce, who just happened to have played sherlock holmes and doctor watson so many times. and of course, Cecil Kellaway was in so many large films: Postman Always Rings Twice, Guess Who's coming to Dinner, and of course, some Twilight Zones. here, he is William, Dona's butler, who anticipates Dona's needs and wants, and encourages her romance with Aubrey, the pirate. The sound is fine, but most of the film is quite washed out too bright. William is quite playful and impish, but they seem to dress him in clothes which are all WAY too big and too silly. with an even sillier wig. there's a sense of whimsy and comedy all throughout. no-one takes anything too seriously. Dona goes off on an adventure with Aubrey on his ship, but we know there will be recriminations down the line..... this one is just okay. goes on for two hours. silliness. didn't need to be almost two hours... could have done all that in 80 or 90 minutes. Directed by Mitchell Leisen, who seemed to also be quite talented in architecture and costume design. this thing won an oscar ?? really?

Storm Over Wyoming

tim holt in a (tired) western
One of the last of about thirty westerns that Tim Holt and Richard Martin made together. and most of them directed by Lesley Selander. Dave and Chito are cowhands looking for work in Wyoming, when they run into a group of sheep farmers about to string up a guy for apparently no reason. Betty Underwood is Ruby, the lead dancer in the saloon. Underwood only made twelve films, and had danced with the Rocketts. The story is pretty lame... when they tie up one of the bad guys, they don't make any attempt to restrain his hands, so he could have pretty much just untied himself. and the prisoners and the jailers all fail to realize when something has been smuggled in using the oldest trick in the book. Noreen Nash is the ranch owner who shows up later, and they have a hard time convincing her that her own men are knocking people off. its mildly entertaining... but as Selander's bio points out, he wasn't making high quality films later on. S'all right. Filmed north of Big Pine, California.

The Night Digger

dude with strange hobbies when work is done.
Stars Oscar winning Patricia Neal and Nick Clay. Maura Prince (Neal) and her domineering mother hire handyman Jarvis (Clay), but he turns out to be MUCH more than they bargained for. Produced by the british office of MGM. It's so violent, that it received an X rating in its home country, but only got an "R" in the U.S. very adult subject matter... not for the young'uns. Clearly, there's already conflict between Maura and her mother, and having a man in the house only amplifies the stress between mother and daughter. when local girls start disappearing, everyone is scared, and not sure what to do. Directed by Brit Alastair Reid... didn't do anything too magnanimous; mostly television shows. Sadly, Clay died quite young of cancer. Story by Joy Cowley, who had several of her works made into films. its pretty good. a bit dated, at this point.

Incendiary Blonde

spoilers.. Guinan story close to accurate
SPOILERS -- The story of Texas Guinan and the various chapters of her life. She had started in vaudeville, was in hollywood from 1917 up into the talkies. Ran several speak-easies during prohibition, and got into legal trouble, but the coppers couldn't seem to make the charges stick. apparently they could never prove she actually owned the establishments. Larger than life character. has an intersting story on wikipedia. Guinan actually died quite young at 49 of dysentery, (JUST before prohibition was repealed!) but in the film, they say she has a heart condition. Stars Betty Hutton and Arturo de Córdova. Guinan's father is played by the irish actor Barry Fitzgerald. The real surprise here are all the folks in the various surrounding roles, some credited, some uncredited. cast of thousands. they took many liberties with the actual events.. but it is what it is. pretty good, if you can go with the flow. Directed by George Marshall.. had started in the silent films, and worked into the talkies. Marshall had been one of the (many) directors on How the West was Won, which won several oscars. Marshall had also worked extensively with Laurel and Hardy. Incendiary Blonde was nominated for best music.

Bachelor Party

updated version from the 1957 one
The original version was a pretty serious discussion of marriage infidelity with SO many huge hollywood stars... kind of a psychological thinker piece; the 1984 version is much more of a comedy piece, with a YOUNG tom hanks. the original was written by the famous Paddy Cheyevsky; this one is much more geared toward the younger crowd, and rightfully so. Even the 1984 version is a bit dated at this point, but its still fun, with TONS of humor along the way. the blue collar crowd rents a hotel room, and have crazy adventures. Tom Hanks, about to be married, needs to decide what's important to him. i HIGHLY recommend this version... skip the one from 1957. many similarities, but the newer one is so much more fun! fewer big names, but the script is so much better.

All Mine to Give

kind of hokey period piece
Mine all mine. In delicious Technicolor. no real big stars in here. A family tries to survive out in the wild west in the 1860s, but tragedies keep happening. Glynis Johns (born in south africa) is "Jo". trying to raise the family in the old west. filmed in scenic Oregon and California. Alan Hale Junior (Skipperrrrr !) is in here as "Tom". Ellen Corby ( Waltons) is Mrs. Raiden. it's all just very okay. the determined scottish couple raises a family in the midwest, but tragedies keep knocking them down. Directed by Allen Reisner, his first film ! and one of the few full length films he made. Story by Dale Eunson... since the story takes place in the 1800s, it's possible that this story is from his family history, but he himself was born in 1904. it's pretty hokey, but entertaining enough. some ethnic issues from the time, but it IS a period piece... Scotsman versus Irishman. shows on Turner Classics now and then.


different type of Hammer horror
Another of the films on the Hammer Horror Collection dvd. Alexander Davion is Tony Ashby, who comes back to visit, after committing suicide years before. He had killed himself after his parents were killed in a plane crash, but he seems to be back right when his brother Simon is about to claim his inheritance. and to complicate matters, his sister (Janette Scott) seems to be going mad. some great scenes of the cliffs at Dorset, England. and aunt harriett (Sheila Burrell) doesn't think Tony is who he says he is. this one is actually pretty good. a social worker's case study. Has the sister really "gone around the bend", as they used to say? is Tony who he says he is?? Directed by Freddie Francis, who won TWO oscars for cinematography for Glory and Sons & Lovers. more of a thinker piece, a psychological work than the usual Hammer horror film. I liked this one.

Mrs. Soffel

brothers escape prison, with help
Diane Keaton is the warden's wife, and helps the Biddle brothers escape from jail. based on a true story. Keaton had already made a bunch of films with woody, and would make some more. Co-stars Mel Gibson and Matt Modine. The warden's wife falls for one of the brothers and runs off with them when they escape from jail. at the start of the film, she has strong religious beliefs, and uses that to comfort the prisoners, but along the way, she seems to lose her faith. so now the search is on! no big surprises. its pretty good. they paint the warden's wife as a little loopy, and they take some liberties. Directed by ozzie Gillian Armstrong.

Danger Signal

story of moidah..
Zachary Scott, probably best known for his role in "Mildred Pierce", is here as the boyfriend. gold-digger Ronnie (Scott) first makes the moves on older sister Hilda (Faye Emerson) for her money, but then moves on to younger sister Anne (Mona Freeman). it's not quite a murder noir, but close. it's pretty good. very typical film from the 1940s... a little dark, some mystery, but all quite harmless. this one is a little too sweet and sugary to be a murder noir; it's all very obvious who the bad guy is. no-one has to search for the murderer. no fog. no newspaper reporter searching following clues all over town. this one is more about suspense... will they figure it out, before Ronnie can do too much damage? Scott died quite young of a brain tumor. Film directed by french director Robert Florey. he had started in the silents, but directed talkies into the 1940s, then switched over to television. it's pretty good. just a little too light and fluffy at the end.

The Wild Man of Borneo

some fun names in smaller roles.
So Frank Morgan (The WIZARD from wizard of oz... a couple years later!) is Thompson, a sideshow con man. when he meets up with his own daughter (Mary Howard), he can't bear to tell her he's broke.... and the daughter herself is so broke, there's no furniture, and no more house. so it has really hit the fan! They end up in a boarding house, and there are some fun co-stars there; Billy Burke (Glenda, the good witch from Wizard!) is Miss Marshall, who owns the house. Marjorie Main (from the Women) is the housekeeper. Donald Meek, in a silly wig, is another odd-ball boarder. a thirty year old comedian Phil Silvers is in here as Murdock. The lies pile up, and Thompson still can't bear to tell his daughter that they are broke. when it all falls apart, Thompson is the stand-up guy, and tries to protect the honor of everyone around. Burke was really married to the great Ziegfeld, Mister Showman! Z had lost all his money in the depression. and died in 1932. Film directed by Robert Sinclair. He met an untimely gruesome death at age 64. The story here moves right along, and is pretty solid; kind of plays like a big long episode of three's company. misunderstandings, coincidences. pretty good. Marj Main has a pretty small part... too bad they didn't use her more. that would have added to the fun.

Personal Maid's Secret

okay 1930s warner brothers... ruth donnelly
Stars Margaret Lindsay and Warren Hull.... both had only been in hollywood for a couple years when they made "Personal Maid's Secret". Ruth Donnelly is Lizzie, the maid; she counsels Joan (Lindsay) on how to entertain correctly. and with her advice, they get more successful, and meet all the right people. Clearly, there's some downfall coming, but who knows what is about to happen? What is Lizzie's big secret? she's just too good to be true. It's a Warner Brothers shortie. all kind of light and fluffy, but no big deal. there are some surprises, which you will have already figured out. it's pretty rushed near the end, but it is only a short, so they had to hurry the plot along. only 58 minutes. Directed by Art Collins, his first directing job. only directed ten films. didn't do a lot in hollywood, acc to imdb.

Tenth Avenue Angel

some big names in this okay film
23 year old Angela Lansbury is Susan; Lansbury had been nominated for Gaslight just a couple years before. Margaret OBrien is the extra-precocious child Flavia. Susan's boyfriend Steve (George Murphy) is getting out of prison, but they have been keeping that from Flavia. it gets tiring listening to high-energy Flavia, much like a little bit of Shirley Temple, goes a LONG way. when money goes missing, everyone's life gets turned upside down. Flavia learns some hard lessons, while Steve realizes he'll always be suspected when anything bad happens. a gritty look at life in the big city during the 1930s. and so many of the things Flavia believed as a happy little girl turned out to be false. Can she regain happiness? some religion thrown in here too. starts out ok but gets soapy, sudsy. and all that sad music. meh. Directed by Roy Rowland. educated guy. married to hollywood royalty.

Red Dust

early Gable, Harlow.
Ostensibly in the rubber plantations in far-away lands... this early one showcases some BIG BIG names in hollywood... Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Mary Astor, and Gene Raymond. Lilly Vantine (Harlow) thought she was dating Carson (Gable), but when Mr. Willis gets sick (Raymond), Carson is all over Mrs. Willis. Willy Fung is here as the cook, but he's really here for the comic value. so many ethnic comments, which were the rage at the time. and it rains. and rains. so everyone is cooped up with everyone else. Astor had started early in the silents, but this was pretty much the early, credited, speaking roles for most the others. it's a good strong story, and a study in relationships. pretty similar to Mogambo, which would come along later in 1953. and will also star Clark Gable. story about the same, but different location and co-stars. Good stuff. Fun to watch all these actors in their early-ish roles.

Affair with a Stranger

uneven story of a breakup
When a television personality provides announces the breakup of a famous married couple, Bill Blakely (Victor Mature ) and wife.... their friends talk and think about the couple and their relationship. Jean Simmons is the young starlet on the rise, who is apparently coming between the married couple. This one has a lot in common with "A Star is Born".. which was first made in 1937. and of course, the Judy remake in 1954, right after THIS film. It's a little confusing. seems to end a bit abruptly. not a lot of rhyme or reason. Directed by Roy Rowland. didn't win any Oscars, but made some pretty well known films. was also married to Louis Mayer's neice. one fun note: Alvy Moore apparently filmed scenes for the film, but they were left on the floor... has was Hank Kimball in Green Acres ! might have been fun to leave those scenes in.... guess we'll never see them now. so many roles in the cast list here were uncredited or deleted. The kid "Timmy" was child actor Billy Chapin... appears to have quit hollywood before he hit age 20.

Badman's Territory

randolph scott & gabby hayes !
Randolph Scott and Gabby Hayes!! doesn't get better than that for an old cowboy western. and Jesse James. purports to tell the story of Badman's territory, the lawless land of the Oklahoma handle. Ray Collins is in here.. he usually played the bad guy. Mark and Johnny (Scott and James Warren) go after the James gang, after they rob the train. as usual, stuff happens, and we're not sure who's telling the truth. Ann Richards is "Henryetta", editor of the local paper, trying to tame the wild town and get the simple town fixtures, like roads, hospitals, schools. The other gal in town is Belle Star (Isabel Jewell).. she owns the horse that's going to compete with Mark's horse. thousands of men, but only two women. hmmm. This one is only okay. story is a little un-even, and kind of changes direction here and there. Directed by Tim Whelan.

My Brilliant Career

nice scenery of australia
Nominated for best costumes, My Brilliant Career takes place in australia. Sybylla (Twice nominated Judy Davis) goes to live with relatives in 1897, and gets two offers of marriage from quite different men (played by Sam Neill and Robert Grubb). Beautiful countryside scenery. odd dynamics between Sybylla and her suitors.... she's quite melancholy about her plain looks, and everyone she speaks to agrees that she's not the prettiest thing around. kind of sad, that no-one gives her any encouragement or can find anything to compliment about her. She doesn't love either of the men, so she'll have choices to make, since she's not willing to settle for less than a loving relationship. It's pretty long. and pretty slow. Directed by Gill Armstrong. trials and tribulations of an ozzie.

Behemoth the Sea Monster

big monsta stomps stuff
So the title itself is redundant... the definition of "Behemoth" is something of giant size, so the Giant was really un-necessary. a horror flick from Allied Artists stars Gene Evans and André Morell. those durn nuclear tests have caused disturbances which woke the sleeping monster. first a man is found dead on the beach. and now it's attacking the large cities. How can they stop it before it destroys everything?? and should the scientists really be touching the radio-active fish without SOME kind of protective gloves?? this production seems to be a mix of British and US actors. and there seems to have been some conflict over the directors, as well as the actual writers. I was hoping this would have either Lon Chaney or Boris Karloff. but no. and the science and instruments they use are pretty shady. it's okay. some interesting scenery from all over England. and honestly, for 1959, the stop motion action is actually pretty good. including when Behemoth pulls down the transmission line towers.

Gambling House

to deport or not to deport
RKO's Gambling House. Victor Mature is Marc Fury, caught up in legal troubles. He's brought in as an undesirable alien, and will be deported for his run-ins with the law. Willliam Bendix is "Farrow", who may or may not be able to help Fury with his troubles. Terry Moore is "Lynne", a big shot lawyer, who also may or may not be able to help him. The deportation judge challenges Marc to explain to the court why he SHOULD be allowed to stay in the country. then more stuff happens. Some good chemistry between Moore and Mature. it's a little bit hokey, but overall, the story is pretty good. suspense. Seems to be the last thing written by Erwin Gelsey. Directed by oscar nominated Ted Tetzlaff. never won an oscar, but sure worked on some biggies. i wish they would show Notorious on TCM more often!

The Last Ride

snoozer crime story from WW II
The summary sounds contrived, even before I have seen the film itself. We had seen just about every plot involving the crime mobs taking advantage of shortages of various items... booze, gasoline, jewels. here, the plot revolves around the rubber shortage during WW II. with some extra twists. a B flick from warner brothers. Richard Travis is Lieutenant Harrigan, following up when fake tires start causing crashes and deaths. co-stars Charles Lang, Eleanor Parker. it's like a SLOW episode of dragnet... we follow along as the law tries to close in on the fake tire sellers. but now the witnesses are getting knocked off! all wrapped up in 57 minutes. this one is not so good. Directed by king of the westerns, Ross Lederman.

Dr. Socrates

the usual 1930s crime drama from warners
1930's stars Paul Muni and Ann Dvorak star in this small town drama from Warner Brothers. Doctor Cardwell (Muni) had lost his wife in a car accident, and because he felt responsible, it has affected his practice, and his state of mind. and when rough tough crime boss Red Bastian comes to him for help, Cardwell has some decisions to make. Mayo Metho is in here as Red's moll... she was Humphrey Bogart's wife for a time; didn't end well for her.. she died of alcoholism at 47. only made 28 films, acc to imdb. the awesome Grady Sutton is in here as (uncredited) grocery store clerk. Sutton made "Flying Trapeze" with WC Fields the same year, and would go on to make a bunch more with him. good career move! this one has the usual bank robbery, the getaways, and even a couple boy meets girl, boy chases girl stories. unfortunately, Doc wants to be the good guy, but keeps getting in deeper with the wrong sort of folks. no big surprises, but it's pretty good. Muni only made 30 films, and this was early on in his career.

The Lovers

a study of a troubled marriage
Debra Winger and her trademark scratchy voice star in The Lovers, with Tracy Letts. They are husband and wife, who are both having affairs. of course, they are both telling their own lovers that they are on the verge of divorce, but neither one seems to really want it to happen. everything moves SO slowly. the scenes between everyone are all too long and drawn out... in my life, when people are angry and arguing, they yell back and forth, and say things they don't mean. Here, the pauses are always SO long. and everyone keeps saying "i'm sorry". The story itself is fine... but this probably would have played better as a short film. its okay. written and directed by Azazel Jacobs; has won at several film festivals. on netflix.

Born to Fight

a look at bull fighting in portugal
Opens with passengers arriving at the Lisbon airport in Portugal, and describes the neighborhoods and architecture. We learn that the origins of bull fighting actually began to train the horses how to be more agile when tending the stock. and in Portugal, they grab onto the horns of the charging bull, as they tease it and pull its tail. sport. tradition. some would say cruelty. an RKO Pathe production. they discuss Mascarenas, Chico Mendez, and Jose Rosa Rodrigues as celebrities, but this short is so old, i couldn't find much on them. narrated by Dwight Weist, who had made a living as a radio announcer, so most of his credits are as "self". Directed by Van Campen Heilner, who made a bunch of shorties. this one is okay. another look at bull fighting. some interesting views of the city.

Captain Clegg

peter cushing in another campy horror film...
The story begins with a ship putting a seaman ashore in 1776. he ends up on a haunted island, where the rum-runners avoid the king's taxes by importing/exporting alcohol. Peter Cushing is Reverend Blyss, a key player in the shenanigans. and the evil phantoms on horseback only help to keep the law away. the british are always marching in and inspecting things. Patrick Allen is "Collier", who has been dispatched to investigate the rum-runners. Yvonne Romain is the daughter of the ship captain who puts the men ashore. it all hits the fan, but who will be victorious ? it's okay. This would have been a perfect film for Vincent Price. Directed by Peter Scott. It's a Hammer Rank Films production. Hammer had produced campy horror films from the 1950s into the 1970s and later. it's just so-so. this is one of the films on the Hammer Horror films collection dvd.

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