Bucs1960

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Reviews

Bolero
(1934)

Pre-Code Dandy
I love this film.....not so much for the story which is pretty basic but for a two minute dance between George Raft, the ultimate gigolo and a young Carole Lombard. The use of Ravel's Bolero has been used many times from the ghastly Bo Derek film of the same name to the beautiful 1984 Olympic Gold Medal winning ice dance by Torvil and Dean. But this is the grandaddy of them all and it is sexy beyond belief. Granted, dance doubles were used in the long shots for the difficult lifts but it is very well done and there is enough of Raft and Lombard to retain authenticity. Raft was a dancer in another life so he had the moves and if Lombard was not a dancer, she does a damn good imitation. The plot of the film has been discussed in detail by the other reviewers so I will just call attention to the dance sequence which makes it all worthwhile.

The Devil Thumbs a Ride
(1947)

Evil, Evil, Evil
This is a little-seen film noir that doesn't quite live up to its hype but comes pretty damn close.

Starring that quintessential bad guy, Lawrence Tierney (who was a bad guy in his personal life as well which eventually sank his career)this film is truly deranged. Tierney goes on a killing spree and ties up with an innocent and very gullible salesman, played by Ted North, whoever he was. They go careening up the California coast, picking up a couple of hitchhiking girls on the way and end up in a beach house where they hide from the police. Some more killing takes place and then it ends. Doesn't sound like much, does it? But what makes it a part of noir history is the chilling performance of Tierney. He may have been the toughest looking, meanest guy in B-movie history and he plays it to the hilt. He is the reason to search out this film.

The Killer Is Loose
(1956)

Wendell Corey as a Psychopath??????
Are you kidding me? Wendell Corey usually played the boring, uptight second lead in his film roles so his character in this little "B" noir is a huge surprise. I never thought he was much of an actor but he really lets loose here as the bank clerk who goes off the rails and comes out killing everyone in sight. He is out for revenge on Joseph Cotten who sent him up the river for his participation as the "inside man" in a bank heist which resulted in Corey's wife being killed accidentally. After his escape from an Honor Farm where he was serving the remainder of his sentence, he starts stalking Cotten and his wife (Rhonda Fleming) with a few incidental murders along the way. The film ends as you would expect......it's not a complicated film but is somehow believable. A great addition to your noir library.

Old Acquaintance
(1943)

The Star vs "the star"
There is no contest here.....the Star, Davis runs off with the film while "the star", Hopkins rants like a drunken fishwife and makes herself look like a contestant at amateur night. I have never been a Hopkins fan and this film validates my opinion........she is shrill and over the top.

The film is another of those "women's pictures" so popular in the 30s and 40s and holds up well in that genre. I won't repeat the plot as it has been covered in other reviews. Davis is looking good as the professional woman that she portrays and although she does her typical schtick with cigarettes and hand gestures, she is a little more subdued than usual. You can almost believe her affair with the boyish Gig Young and her sorrow as it ends. You, however, can never believe that the elegant John Loder could have been married to Hopkins.......he belonged with Davis but it was not to be. My favorite scene has to be when Davis shakes the snot out of Hopkins and since it has been reported that they didn't like each other, I'm sure it was Bette's favorite scene as well.

If you like soap operas and sacrifice, then this film is for you. It's not as bad as it appears initially.

Deception
(1946)

"I'm what you made me, Christine"
Speaking this line is the only time that Claude Rains shows his true feeling for Bette Davis in this overwrought but oh so enjoyable film. Rains, playing a vitriolic maestro, has the time of his life with this role as he spits venom all over the set. Even Davis has a hard time holding her own with this old pro, who was a favorite co-star of hers. The plot of this film has been repeated already in these boards; suffice it to say, Bette is petrified that Rains will spill the beans on their long affair to her new husband Paul Henried.

Nobody could be as naive as Henreid when he finds Davis living in a fantastic loft apartment surrounded by art treasure and furs and not suspect something beyond her explanation that she "takes pupils" for music instruction. She piles one lie upon another until the chickens come home to roost and Rains, rejected and highly ticked off, threatens to tell all to the innocent and obviously stupid husband. Murder then ensues. Claude Rains is the only actor who could have played the part of the maestro without looking like a total ham. He was such an elegant actor who swept all his co-stars off the screen and this role was one of the highlights in his long career. Frankly, I don't apologize for loving this overblown soap opera!!!!

The Dawn Patrol
(1938)

The War To End All Wars
Unfortunately this was not the war to end all wars and the world was on the brink of WWII when this film was made. It revisits the horror of the slaughter of WWI and in this case, concentrates on the British flying aces of the air. It's a study in contrasts but underneath the camaraderie and black humor of the pilots, lies the bitterness and futility of their job. Sent on doomed missions, they were fodder for the war machine.

The British cast is excellent and contains most of the British actors then working in Hollywood film........(the only person missing is C. Aubrey Smith). Errol Flynn proves here that he can act and has great support from David Niven, Basil Rathbone and Donald Crisp. Also present are Barry Fitzgerald and Melville Cooper. Both Flynn and Rathbone are given a chance to show their serious side as they are faced with sending green recruits to certain death against a superior German air force, led by von Richter (von Richtofen I suppose).

This is an excellent film and director Edward Goulding may be forgiven for lifting the extremely realistic dogfight scenes from the 1930 original starring Richard Barthelmess (also a film worth watching). I highly recommend it.

American Madness
(1932)

You could have knocked me over with a pin
Add this one to your list of favorite Capra films. Of course, it is dated and runs on banks are things of the past (we hope!!) due to the FDIC. Here is a film that was made in those Depression days when banks were going under on a daily basis and people's lives could be destroyed in the blink of an eye. Capra captures that crisis although the film's ending does not represent what really happened........but, hey, it's Frank Capra so all is forgiven.

Walter Huston is, as always, absolutely perfect as the kind hearted bank president who is caught in his worst nightmare.....after a bank robbery, rumors fly that the bank is failing, that Huston is somehow involved and the amount stolen escalates as the rumors spread. Pat O'Brian, his trusted employee, is wrongfully accused and the madness begins. To add to the problems, throw in the suspicion that Huston's wife (Kay Johnson) may be involved in some hanky-panky with one of the bank's vice president played by a very smarmy Gavin Gordon.

The rush on the bank by thousands of panicked citizens is a highlight of the film but makes we wonder if everyone who lived in the city and surrounding counties was a depositor.

The film has good support from Sterling Holloway, of the"knock me over with a pin" phrase and Robert Emmett O'Conner in his familiar Irish cop role. All's well that ends well.......O'Brian is vindicated, the bank is saved, the crook is caught and Huston's wife is proved innocent of fooling around (altho' anyone who would go to Gavin Gordon's apartment is guilty of a lack of good taste). This is a movie that deserves more than one viewing and is another star in Capra's crown.

The Kiss Before the Mirror
(1933)

A Strange Tale of Infidelity
If you only know Frank Morgan for the Wizard of Oz and his other comedic roles of the 30s and 40s, then you don't want to miss his performance here. It's an entirely different Morgan, as the love besotted lawyer married to Nancy Carroll,and defending his best friend Paul Lukas who is accused of murder. I had to look twice to be sure it was him and not his brother Ralph who might have been more at home in this type of role. It's hard to relate to Frank Morgan in a torrid embrace with Carroll who is the nominal star of the film. But that aside, he is rather attractive and does a pretty good job even though the film has the typical over-acting of the early talkies.

Gloria Stuart, in an all too short appearance, is simply gorgeous (why don't they make clothes like that anymore?) as the erring wife of Paul Lukas, and lover of Walter Pigeon (in a very small role). Lukas puts three bullets into her and the murder trial is on with Morgan as the defense lawyer. He uses the "unwritten law" defense and his client is acquitted. As all this is happening, Morgan discovers that his own wife, Carroll, is having an affair with Donald Cook (good grief!!) When Morgan learns of it, he contemplates putting a few of his own bullets into her and using the same defense at his own trial. But reason wins out and he abandons the plan Since this is a pre-code film, Carroll is forgiven, falls into Morgan's arms, and doesn't have to pay for her sins, as she would have in Code films beginning the following year.

If you can get past the sometimes hammy acting styles and the "dearest" and "darling" dialogue, this isn't a bad film. In fact, I rather enjoyed it but then I am a sucker for films of the early 30s.

I'm All Right Jack
(1959)

British Comedy At Its Best
How insane is a movie that begins and ends in a nudist colony? That just sets the stage for this brilliant British comedy/satire of labor troubles at Missiles Ltd. All is not what it appears in management as the less than honorable Director and his cronies arrange for conditions that cause the workers to strike, thereby benefiting the bosses in their nefarious plans.

Ian Carmichael is the wide eyed innocent, penniless but upper class young man who is the catalyst for the madness that ensues. Carmichael is spot on in his characterization and those who only know him as Lord Peter Wimsey, will be surprised at his light comedic touch. Even his name, Stanley Windrush, is whimsical.

Peter Sellers is a standout as Kite, the Union boss who has delusions of grandeur and sports an Adolph Hitler moustache. His use of the Queen's English is less than perfect and his long-winded pronouncements are priceless.

The supporting cast is unparalleled........Terry-Thomas is hysterical (as always) as the head of the Works Committee and his reading of the contents from the suggestion box is a small highlight of the film..........Liz Frazer as Kite's very blonde daughter, who asks "Who do you think you are, Diana Dors?".........Dennis Price, always the sophisticate, and Richard Attenborough as his oily partner in crime, are delightfully dishonest and also sport strange moustaches....John LeMesurier as the twitchy time management expert. The list goes on and on.

You don't want to miss this film. It is a showcase for some of Britain's finest film actors and is truly a delight.

Double Harness
(1933)

The "Business" of Marriage
I really liked this film (with the unusual title) due to a couple of things. First and foremost is the elegant sophistication of Anne Harding, a star in the early years of film but somewhat forgotten now. She is not your typical 1930s actress.......with her strangely attractive but outdated hair style and unusual beauty, she is very different from other screen icons of the time such as Greta Garbo or Jean Harlow. Playing a character who could have descended to hysteria and shrewishness, she underplays the part to perfection. I feel that she is sadly overlooked when the films of the 1930s are discussed.

Secondly, of course, is William Powell. One of my favorites, he does not disappoint here as the jaded playboy who seems to have unlimited amounts of money (as do all the characters). Not quite reflective of the Depression gripping the country at the time this film was made! His character is not very attractive as he philanders his way through cafe society but he does it with such style that he can be forgiven. Plus, his apartment is a decorator's dream!!! The story revolves around Harding trapping Powell into marriage, which she considers only "business". Needless to say she falls in love with him along the way and complications arise. It all ends well albeit a little abruptly. This is a film that reflects the end of the pre-code period with its straightforward approach to sex outside (and inside) of marriage. Very enjoyable.

Wedding Rehearsal
(1932)

Little known British charmer
I had fun with this film.......it grows on you, probably because of the charm of the players. The story is light - an unmarried peer is being pushed into marriage by his grandmother and must try to arrange that all the eligible women on her list are married off to others in order to preserve his bachelorhood. Amid all of his machinations, he fails to recognize where love lies and all's well that ends well.

Roland Young is absolutely whimsical in the lead and is supported by a host of future stars and familiar faces......Merle Oberon (who would later marry the film's director Alexander Korda and attain stardom in Hollywood), John Loder, Wendy Barrie, and Maurice Evans. Morton Selten as Harry bringing violets to Kate Cutler as Young's soigne grandmother are a delightful couple who also end up at the altar. The upper classes are portrayed as a dithering lot of fatuous dunces but it is all in fun. It's a delightful excursion into early British comedy.

Madame X
(1929)

Overwrought but worth a look
Early sound films are pretty hard going sometimes and this is no exception. But it gives a window on the evolving movies scene as "talkies" came into being. Performers were still using their silent film emoting which was usually over the top and the camera work was static to say the least.

Ruth Chatterton was a big name on the stage and in early film and this film will make you wonder why. (To see Chatterton at her best, watch "Dodsworth" where she plays the erring wife of Walter Huston). Here she plays the suffering mother forced to leave her young son by her stolid husband, Lewis Stone and takes to the streets where she sinks into oblivion......but not for long. She murders a man when he threatens to reveal her identity to her son, now grown and a lawyer. Surprise, surprise, her son is called upon to defend her at trial although she is still unknown to him. And let the histrionics begin.

This film was a real weeper in its day but to modern eyes it appears simply overwrought and over-acted. Still, it is part of the history of film and should be viewed, if for no other reason, than to provide a further understanding of the movie industry at the dawn of the talking pictures. I have to admit that I actually enjoyed it!!!!

That Hamilton Woman
(1941)

"There was no then, there was no after"
Thus says Vivian Leigh when asked "What happened then, what happened after". As she lies in prison, drunk and penniless, she describes to a fellow prisoner, her life as the beloved mistress of one of England's greatest heroes.

This is a film that stays with you, not only for the story of the ill-fated romance of Admiral Lord Nelson and Lady Emma Hamilton, but also for the perfect casting of the leads, Vivian Leigh and Laurence Olivier. They were impossibly beautiful and besotted with each other in real life (they had just married). That attraction was obvious on the screen and reflected the love affair of the characters they portrayed.

The story follows Lady Emma's life from a possession passed from nephew to uncle (Sir Edward Hamilton, well played by Alan Mowbray), to her marriage to Hamilton and her meeting with Horatio Nelson. From that point, it's time to bring out the hankies as the love affair, doomed from the beginning, moves to its inevitable conclusion. There is more than enough pathos to move the most jaded movie lover.

One of my favorite scenes in the film is that in which Nelson returns to Naples against orders to rescue Emma and she collapses against him saying "I would have died if you would have left me here".

The film may not be for all tastes, as it contains a plethora of propaganda aimed at the US which was still neutral in WWII, and does not portray the characters exactly as they may have been. But I say "Who cares"??? It's the kind of love story that will grab your heart and bring you back to watch it again and again.

It seems impossible to find it on anything but tape......my copy is on BETA which goes to show how badly I want to have repeated viewings!!!!

Kongo
(1932)

Sadistic Goings-on in Africa
Your best bet when viewing this film is not to take it too seriously or you will have a bad taste in your mouth for a week. It is a raw, sadistic, unbelievable story containing every possible type of aberrant behavior that could be translated to film at the time. Pre-code at its best, it puts all others in the shade. Where else can you have drug addiction, incest, murder, torture, human sacrifice and rape wrapped up in an over the top story with some pretty good actors? Walter Houston plays "Dead Legs" Flint, a paraplegic holding court in an African village and vowing revenge on the man (C. Henry Gordon) who kicked him in the spine thus paralyzing him. Keeping Houston close company is Lupe Velez as his Portugese(?) mistress, Conrad Nagel as a drug ravaged physician and Virginia Bruce as the daughter (or not) of his sworn enemy. Houston's aforementioned revenge on Gordon for his paralysis is taken out vicariously on Bruce in unremitting style, off-screen as well as on, ......and it is nasty!!! Bruce, plays without make-up which adds to her interpretation as she is transformed into an abused, drug addicted whore and she is in a word....fantastic.

I have only touched on the essential plot of this film. There are other aspects that amplify the scenario, such as the attempted tongue removal scene..........yikes!!!

This film was a shocker at the time and frankly, still is.....it is downright unpleasant. One of the rawest of the pre-code films, it is a must-see for fans of that film era and you will either despise it or love it. The word "unclean" comes to mind and you might feel like taking a shower after viewing.

The Man in Half Moon Street
(1945)

Strange but compelling film
This film from Paramount Studios follows a similar theme of eternal youth established in the more famous "Picture of Dorian Gray" and does it well on a limited budget. That it is based on a stage play is obvious as filming is mostly on indoor sets and dialogue takes the place of action scenes. But it is a forgivable sin.

Nils Asther, unfamiliar to many, (as was Hurd Hatfield in "Picture of....") plays a man who has lived an unnaturally long life while remaining youthful (or so it appears). He must rely on an aged physician, well played by Reinhold Shunzel, for life prolonging treatments; however, the doctor is no longer able to assist Asther and other arrangements must be made. So begins a series of deaths through experimentation in an effort to keep Asther alive and youthful. Alas, time catches up with him and the last scene has him withering away before our eyes, utilizing fairly decent special effects considering the limited budget of the film.

This little "B" movie is oddly compelling even though it can't decide to which genre it belongs.....horror?, noir?, suspense?. Regardless, it is worth a watch if you enjoy little known gems. Overlook its shortcomings........it will keep your attention.

Gentleman's Fate
(1931)

A Falling Star
It is painful to see one of the greatest stars of silent film reduced to playing in this potboiler. The film is static, tacky and extremely talky (as were a lot of the earlier sound films where they seemed to believe that the sounds of actors voices took precedence over plot). The fate of John Gilbert is well known to those who are aficionados of early film and it is validated by this travesty. He was fighting for his cinema life and Mayer stuck him in the worst films that the studio could produce. A sad end for a brilliant star.

The cast in this fiasco does a mediocre job in support but it strains credibility to accept the unlovely Louis Wolheim as Gilbert's brother. The story involves Gilbert, a sophisticate, learning that he is the son of a gangster and takes up the wrong side of the law lifestyle with tragic results. The film ends rather abruptly with Gilbert's death by gunshot and roll the credits. Very unsatisfactory.

This film illustrates how the powerful movie moguls of early Hollywood could make or break their biggest moneymakers on a personal whim. Gilbert may have gone out with a whimper but that falling star left a beautiful trail in the history of film.

Foreign Agent
(1942)

Another Monogram Quickie
With William "One Shot" Beaudine directing, Monogram reacted to the US entry into WWII with its typical style........cheap and cheaper. Starring John Shelton (whoever that was) and Gale Storm (better known as "My Little Margie" from early television), the story, what there is of it, concerns a group of spies ("group" in a Monogram film means two or three individuals) ineptly working at espionage. There are basically two sets, an apartment and the spies' hideout and the acting is what you expect from Monogram Studios.

The story is unimportant here......needless to say the spies get caught in the end before any damage is done. But there are a couple of things worth noticing. In the beginning of the film there is a shot of the Hollywood Blvd. and Gower street sign. "Gower Gultch" as it was known was the home of the poverty row studios, Monogram, PRC, etc. It appears Beaudine ran outside the building to take a shot of the street sign as a lead in to the film. Sure beats location work.

Secondly, in an earlier part of the film the conversations of the spies are recorded by the good guys. In order to flesh out the film's running time, the recording is played later in the story and we have the chance to hear a total repeat of the earlier scene of the aforementioned conversation. It is this kind of thing that is endearing about the poverty row studios. They found a way to make films on a shoestring using little tricks like that.

This film isn't much but it is not as bad as some of Monogram's offerings. So if you are a fan of Monogram, Mascot, PRC or Tiffany studios, give it a watch. You just have to love these little footnotes to Hollywood history.

The Mysterious Mr. Wong
(1934)

Monogram Pictures Strikes Again!!!
That bottom of the barrel movie mill, Monogram, gives its all in this ridiculous but fun film about mysterious happenings in a pseudo Chinatown. Bela Lugosi is the power-hungry overlord searching for the 12 Coins of Confucius which will allow him to become the Boss of Bosses. True to the era and for no particular reason except to add to the running time, all Chinese, good or bad, are murdered, tortured and generally abused.

Throw in Wallace Ford and Arline Judge as the newspaper reporter and his girlfriend for some unfunny comic relief and E. Alyn Warren (who???) as Lugosi's arch enemy and you are off and running. The dialogue will remind you of the Charlie Chan films with those "Confucious say......." aphorisms.

Two of the most humorous things in this mish-mash (and there are many) are: (1) Lugosi playing an Oriental with that heavy Hungarian accent; and (2) after trying every type of torture to make his arch enemy crack under pressure, Lugosi kicks him in the shins. Priceless!!! It's foolish, tacky, poverty row at its finest..........what fun!!!!

The Phantom of the Opera
(1925)

It Still Has the Power to Enthrall
This is a truly wondrous film. You may have to have an appreciation of silent cinema to fall under its spell so I can't speak for those who think that silent film is all ham and rolling eyes. But I can't imagine anyone not being overwhelmed by the beauty of this Chaney vehicle.

The basic story is well known since there are remakes, plays, and musicals that have re-told it over the years with some modifications. But this is the prototype from which all the others are copied. Silent film was at it's pinnacle when Phantom was made and it shows here. The sets are magnificent,the color segments are striking, Chaney's make-up will still give you a chill, and the acting,although mannered, is for the most part convincing.

There are a few things, however, that may cause a chuckle. Arthur Edmund Carewe looks like Richard Dix with Theda Bara's eye liner; Carewe and Norman Kerry walking around with their hands in the air to escape the strangler's noose, and the crowd in the finale which appears to be the size of the entire population of Paris. But these are just minor in the scheme of things.

Although the unmasking is probably the most famous scene, there is another one which will stick with you long after the film has ended.......the Phantom spying on the lovers from the top of the opera house with his red cape floating around him. This primitive color scene is strikingly beautiful.

This is a masterpiece of silent film making and of Chaney's art but must be seen in the version restored with the assistance of Kevin Brownlow. It's what movie making is all about.

Menace
(1934)

Neat little thriller
Here is a tidy little film from the early 30s which has some nice touches in its 60 minute run time.

A young Ray (Raymond) Milland is involved in dam building in Africa and takes some time off (against his will) to attend a party. When bad weather strikes, he decides to fly his plane back to the dam site, just in time to see a flood destroy his work and his sister's home as well. Distraught, he commits suicide by diving the plane into the ground.

Flash forward several years and another party is in progress, involving the same participants. Milland's brother, swearing revenge and confined to a mental institution, has escaped. A note is found which warns the partygoers that he will have his revenge at last. The question then becomes........which one of the extraneous guests is the homicidal brother (no one knows what he looks like)? You'll guess who it is fairly quickly although red herrings abound.

The film packs a lot of story into such a short run time but moves right along. Fun viewing for the 1930s film buff.

The Phantom of Crestwood
(1932)

Rare but enjoyable early RKO entry
This one does not show up very often, so watch for it. It's a rather curious film directed by journeyman director J. Walter Rubens and has a cast to die for if you are an early film buff.....Ricardo Cortez, Karen Morley, H.B. Warner Pauline Frederick, Anita Louise et al.

The story revolves around a thoroughly unlikeable schemer (Karen Morley) who is a blackmailer and all around con woman. Inviting her former victims to a party she makes one last demand for money and is murdered by one of those guests.....but who? Other murders occur and general mayhem results. The murderer wears a glowing mask which adds a nice touch to the creepiness of this film The identity of the killer is fairly easy to guess but that does not take away from the film's interest. When finally cornered by Ricardo Cortez, the killer's manner of demise is rather surprising and the camera work on the death scene is quite good for the time.

This is a tidy little film that runs just over an hour. It's a keeper.

Thirteen Women
(1932)

Not Quite 13 Women
There may have originally been 13 women targeted for revenge but the cutting of the film obviously lessened that number considerably. Nevertheless, this story of one woman's mission to do away with the girls who snubbed her for sorority membership is worth watching.

Myrna Loy, again playing the role of an Eurasian, is beautiful and mysterious as the revenge seeker. Due to her unusual beauty, she made her early career playing exotics and the low-key lighting of this film served her well in some of her scenes. Included in the cast are the then Mrs. Laurence Olivier (Jill Esmond), Irene Dunne and Peg Entwhistle (whose tragic real-life leap from the Hollywoodland sign is her only claim to fame). I could not identify Ms. Entwhistle so it is possible that her scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.

Ricardo Cortez plays the detective although he usually was cast as a villain, mob boss or gigolo. He doesn't appear until late in the film which might also say something about the cutting of part of the story. C.Henry Gordon, a stalwart in 1930s film, plays a swami advising Loy with his usual panache. She has her way with him eventually adding to the body count.

It's true that the film is dated and a bit overwrought but for my money it is a good entry into the early RKO thriller category

Payment Deferred
(1932)

Don't be put off by the age of this film
Charles Laughton is at his twitchy best in this early film, reprising his stage role as the bank clerk who has fallen on hard times. Unexpected money turns up in the person of Ray Milland, a long lost nephew. Milland is unwilling to lend or invest his funds with Laughton and with the help of a little arsenic, murder ensues. The remainder of the film revolves around the question as to whether Laughton will be caught out or not. The title provides the answer, as he pays but not for Milland's death.

Laughton pulls out all the stops as the unstable clerk and his acting is very eccentric but interesting. Dorothy Peterson is his put-upon wife and she is not called upon to do much except grovel and submit to Laughton's petulance and fits of rage. A very young Maureen O'Sullivan is pert and pretty as the daughter and the wonderful character actress Veree Teasdale is a treat as the phony French blackmailer who spins a web around Laughton.

The film has a stage bound look for obvious reasons with the majority of the scenes taking place in the house. The prologue, in which the landlord (Billy Bevan without his signature mustache) is showing the house to a prospective buyer (busy English actor Halliwell Hobbes), is a clever lead-in to the main action. Bevan's story of the how,who and why of the murder illustrates that not all is what it appears.

Although dated, this film is very well worth seeing for a look at an early Laughton effort, although his acting style remained pretty much the same throughout his career........edgy, a bit hammy, but thoroughly enjoyable.

Female on the Beach
(1955)

Flashy, Trashy Crawford
This is Crawford camp at its best. As her star waned, she began to appear in films that will forever be treasured by those who adore the trash and flash of 50's soapers with Joan in the spotlight.

In this outing, she is a former "specialty dancer" (read what you will into that appellation)who moves into a beach house next to hunky gigolo Jeff Chandler. He takes one look at her and decides that she is a target for his con game of fleecing defenseless women although Crawford can hardly be categorized as defenseless. Joan reads the diary of the former (and mysteriously dead) beach house tenant, a slave to love of Chandler who was bleeding her dry and Joan still doesn't get it. Needless to say, Crawford marries Chandler anyway and we spend the rest of the film wondering if, how, or when he will murder her.

Crawford was years too old for the part and she swans around like a twenty year old in the fashions of the time, including many shots in a dazzling variety of negligees. But remember, this is Joan Crawford and during this phase of her career it was exactly what we expected. Nobody did this better than she did. It epitomizes the term "camp" and you can't help but love it. Whew!!!!

Where Danger Lives
(1950)

Mitchum On The Run
He should have kept running!! This film is a waste of Mitchum's talents and it is only his presence and that of the wonderful Claude Rains, that keep it from being a complete disaster. Faith Domergue's talents are not wasted here because she has no talents. Or is it the dialogue? Whatever the case this is an overwrought, slightly ridiculous tale about a well meaning physician who saves Domergue from suicide and then gets caught up in her trap. He dumps his nurse girlfriend, Maureen O'Sullivan, and goes over the edge for the shady, and totally insane, Domergue.

Complications arise when Domergue's husband (oh yes, she is married), played by Rains, dies under mysterious circumstances, Mitchum suffers a concussion in the ensuing mayhem, and they drive like the wind for Mexico. It gets sillier as Domergue begins to have second thoughts and tries to smother Mitchum. Believing him dead, she makes her big getaway but it is not to be. Of course,he's not dead and she get's the best remembered quote from the film...."Nobody pities me". It should have read, "Nobody really cares".

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