Considering the incredible talent, music, and cinematography, "Jammin' the Blues" is extraordinary. Has to be the greatest jazz film of all time. My god! Lester Young, "Sweets" Edison, "Big Sid" Catlett, Barney Kessel, Jo Jones, etc.!!!
I have no idea how it was okayed by the studio, but it is to Warner Brothers everlasting credit that it was. Norman Granz was the technical director, undoubtedly the best Warner Brothers could have recruited at the time for the job.
"Jazz on a Summer's Day" is a close second, in my opinion. It's a really great jazz film. A longer film, but a bit uneven. Really hard to compare the two.
If you are new to jazz, this is where you should start .
I seldom, if ever, use the word "dumbfounded". Nevertheless, that's the way I felt when I read the unbelievably negative reviews that dominate the viewer reactions to this movie.
I could understand that some people may have quibbles with "Dauntless," but the long run of 1 and 2 star ratings is simply incomprehensible. I'll bet that a few of those who rate this movie so low would give a higher rating to "Plan 9 From Outer Space."
I should mention that I have a personal reason for my interest in this movie. You see, my father actually helped build these planes at Douglas Aircraft. I am, therefore, very familiar with the plane and its place in history. And, of course, with the battle of Midway.
"Dauntless: The Battle of Midway" is not flawless. I won't discuss its shortcomings here. Rather, I would like to mention what, in my view, is right with the movie. The actual battle, I feel, is treated pretty well. The acting is fine, and I have no complaints regarding the visual effects.
The main strength of the film is its portrayal of the challenges faced and the sacrifices made the pilots who, let's not minimize this, basically won the War in the Pacific in a few short hours. It's easy for us, many decades after the battle, to ignore what it must have been like to have one's plane go down in flames, with little chance of rescue even if one had survived the crash.
"Dauntless: The Battle of Midway" may not be a great film, but it simply cannot be viewed as equal to the worst Hollywood has turned out. Yet, that's just what all the reviewers who have given it a 1 or 2 have done. I really wonder it they saw the same movie I did.
This film brings back memories. I grew up in Fullerton, California, and most of the films I saw in the 1950s played our local Fox theater. I suspect that's where I saw "Flight Nurse." Haven't seen it since, but I do remember it. As I recall, it was the second film on a double bill.
"Flight Nurse" was a low budget effort, to be sure. As with many such productions, its low budget did not mean low quality. The cast was certainly competent and the script okay if not exceptional.
One scene stands out in my mind, a bit of comic relief. As I recall, several of the film's characters found themselves next to a base ammo dump. One of them was doing something not considered safe practice, perhaps getting ready to throw away a lighted match. Anyway, one of the other characters criticizes the match-thrower and points to a sign posted next to a pile of bombs. The sign says "We want this ammo to explode, just not here!" The setting of this film, Korean War medical evacuations, is an interesting one. Your time won't be wasted if you watch this film, especially if you do not expect it to be another "Sands of Iwo Jima" or "Sgt. York."
"Mutiny" is surely one of the weakest films of 1952. Yes, it's in color (though the color photography isn't so hot) and, yes, the cast includes some solid actors. On the other hand production values are minimal and the screenplay is worse than routine. The results are decidedly below par.
What can we say about the director? Edward Dmytryk had directed several excellent films before he tackled this one. I should mention, among others, "Murder, My Sweet," "Cornered," and "Crossfire." After "Mutiny," he went on to direct "The Caine Mutiny," "Soldier of Fortune," and "The Left Hand of God." So how did Dmytryk get roped into doing this one? Someone more familiar with the man's career will have to explain that one. Suffice it to say that "Mutiny" places pretty far down the list of this fine director's works.
Its short length is in its favor, but that's a rather weak virtue. (Even though it is a short movie, one wishes it were even shorter.) All in all, this is not a good movie. Unless you have absolutely nothing better to do, I strongly recommend that you skip this one.
My reaction to this film is much warmer than the frigid Alaskan scenery.
I'm puzzled by the reactions of those who trash this film. It's no world-beater, but it's a fairly entertaining film most fans will probably enjoy viewing. Nothing particularly novel here, but it's well enough done for a TV movie and if nothing else has some great scenery.
Possible spoiler: There is one serious flaw in the script. The newspaper editor is murdered and the killer tries to make it look like suicide, even leaving a phony suicide note on the editors computer. The problem here is that there is no mention of any attempt to ascertain whether there were powder stains on the dead man's hand.
I was put off by the existing reviews before watching, but now think those reviews are unfair. We're not talking about a classic work of cinema here, but I have seen really bad movies, and this one is certainly better than those.
He was not impressed! And the guy I talked to was a U.S. Ranger who took part in assault landings in North Africa, Sicily, the main Italian landing, and finally at Anzio. (He was captured by the Germans at Anzio and ultimately escaped, making his way eastward to the Russian lines. But that is another story.) My friend was fairly critical of the action portrayed in the movie, despite the fact that another Ranger was the technical adviser.
As for the movie itself, it is only slightly above mediocre. Although I am a big fan of older black and white movies, I must say that the lack of color here is a negative. Also, based on memory, too many scenes were shot on a sound stage. A film noir is fine shot that way, but an A level war movie should have more impressive production values. After all, WWII was not fought in a blimp hanger.
I can't argue with those who say that "Suez" shows us little if anything about the actual building of the canal of the same name. Still, I recommend this film to those who can put aside historical inaccuracies in order to enjoy a well made period film featuring some very good actors. In addition, the viewer will be treated to one of the great disaster sequences of American film. I refer to the giant sand storm which comes near the end of the film.
Tyrone Power is very good in this film, and you have to keep reminding yourself that he was only in his early to mid twenties during production. Power is a clear case of a great movie star who was a much better actor than many give him credit for. Check out "Nightmare Alley" if you need further evidence.
I will say this about the film with respect to the real Suez Canal project. "Suez" makes it clear how important such a canal was going to be and why various nations either favored or opposed its building.
Again, if you want to know the complete history of the canal, go to an encyclopedia. If you want to enjoy a very glossy example of 1930s A-budget film making,"Suez" will not let you down.
Another reviewer used the word "trite" to characterize the plot of this film. Amen to that! As for the film as a whole? How about lame? Really lame!
Since this was a 1940s Warner Brothers production featuring several of that studio's stalwart players, I had high hopes when I saw it for the first, and almost certainly ONLY, time. But, really, this is a silly story that is hardly ever funny and simply makes everyone involved look foolish. (Butterfly McQueen absolutely sobs her way through this movie. Makes you wish someone had taken her apron and gagged her with it!)
I love the WB product of the 1940s, but this is really a let down. Don't expect anything like "Christmas in Connecticut"!
Colorful and breezy, but it never really gets out of Culver City.
Randall Brandt is exactly right. This is a "Holiday in Mexico"? Produced by MGM at the height of its power, glory, not to mention financial resources, and yet the darned thing never gets outside a Culver City sound stage? Couldn't they at least have sent a camera crew to Mexico City to film some establishing shots in the major thoroughfares, parks, museums, etc.? Very disappointing.
This might just as well have been titled "Holiday in Burbank."
As to the story, it's flimsy at best. In its favor is the rich Technicolor photography which has never been equaled, plus some good musical numbers. The cast is good, with Walter Pidgeon in his most ambassadorial form as the father of the spunky young Jane Powell. Jose Iturbi and his sister play some great piano, as well!
Worth viewing, though at 128 minutes it's a bit long. "Holiday in Mexico" is an example of how Hollywood used to view (or didn't view) other countries.
A bumpy ride that benefits from its reasonably short length and solid leading man.
I hardly recognized Veronica Lake when she first appeared. That short hair was a surprise! Too bad she had so little success beyond her first few successful films.
"Slattery's Hurricane" is a well polished black and white action film that does hold the viewer's interest. It's not a great film, nor even an exceptionally good one. Still, I would recommend it for a number of reasons. Widmark is good as always, and the location work and flying scenes are interesting. Also, at 87 minutes it is pretty well paced. I see in the cast that nearly half a dozen actors had their scenes deleted. That's a sign that the producers decided to tighten the film up a bit, and I think they probably were right in doing so.
As I said, it's worth a look, if only to see how Hollywood in the late 40s was breaking the bonds of the sound stages in which such a high percentage of movies were made prior to that time.
"The House of Seven Hawks" would have been much better had it been produced by Robert Taylor's old employer, MGM.
Instead, the film turned out to be quite a disappointment for Taylor, a man who had been a major star for two decades. I will say this; the opening is quite intriguing. Taylor's character agrees to transport a man from England to the Continent by boat, and does so. After arrival, however, he soon discovers that this simple business deal is quite a bit more complicated than what he expected.
Sadly, the film does not take advantage of this clever opening. From that point on, it is rather routine.
As others have suggested, this ends up being a rather lackluster B effort not close to the level of the films Taylor made for MGM. In that regard, this movie is similar to the 1959 efforts of Alan Ladd, a man whose great success in the 1940s and early 1950s was followed by some very mediocre productions. (In Ladd's case, the actor himself was largely to blame due to very poor judgment regarding choice of film projects.)
My admiration for Robert Taylor has grown over time. He was a better actor than many gave him credit for. (I recommend his performances in "Bataan" and "Johnny Eager.") Sadly, this particular movie, though watchable, did nothing to enhance his reputation.
The other reviews pretty much explain what this movie is all about. I would like to add a couple of thoughts.
First, this is probably Alan Ladd's last quality production. The photography and locations are all very good, and the cast is solid. Compare those aspects with Ladd's subsequent films, such as "Man in the Net" and "Guns of the Timberland." Those two are definitely disappointing, not up to the standards of a star who excelled in films such as "This Gun for Hire," "The Blue Dahlia," and "Shane".
Second, the ending undermines the film's impact. Viewers who have seen "The Asphalt Jungle" will attest to the fact that the very grim conclusion of that classic seems inevitable and fitting. In the case of "The Badlanders," I suspect that Ladd himself rejected any such ending (if in fact such had been contemplated).
(By the way, the same can be said for an earlier Ladd film. "Thunder in the East" also has a happy ending that virtually defines the term deus ex machina. Had the principles all been killed in that one, it would have had a tragic quality that would have made it much better.)
"The Badlanders" is a good film (though not a great one) despite the above criticism. Had it appeared right after "Shane," it might have been a major hit. Unfortunately, by 1958 Alan Ladd's personal decline was all too evident. Perhaps it was too late for a Ladd film, even a good one, to break through.
Just saw this film for the first time since it's release in 1952. I was 10 years old then and quite enjoyed it. I must say that it has held up pretty well. No great entry in the Victorian, foggy street mystery genre, but it keeps ones interest throughout.
This movie, by the way, was shot in MGM's British studio and features a fine line up of English actors who turn in typically solid performances.
One more thing: this was by no means one of MGM's major productions for 1952. In fact, it pretty much qualifies as a B movie (except for running time); that is, a second, and cheaper, feature on a double bill. By 1952, the traditional B movie (as opposed to pictures that merely had lower budgets than the headlining A efforts) had just about disappeared. Soon, virtually all movies could be classed as A pictures, with the possible exception of the shoestring productions by little companies that often ended up at the local drive-in.
My point is this: studios such as MGM, when they consciously turned out the 60-65 minute movies that were shot in a couple of weeks at most, still maintained a fairly high standard of quality. One can think of the Val Lewton horror films at RKO-Radio Pictures or. . . well, or "The Hour of 13!"
The vast majority of fans who have commented on "Salt of the Earth" have given the film a high rating and unusually enthusiastic plaudits. I'm going to go out on a limb and offer a quite different view. The reason for my iconoclasm is easy to explain.
"Salt of the Earth" is, simply, a very bad movie.
One cannot deny that the issues raised in the film are worthy of cinematic treatment. However, in this case the good guys and the bad guys are hopeless caricatures. I'm somewhat surprised that the evil landowners are not wearing stovepipe black hats while twisting long, waxed moustaches in their fat fingers as they mock the poor but righteous workers. Come on! This is cartoon stuff.
It is not unusual in politics for each side to spread totally false and slanderous visions of their opponents. But that's just the trouble with "Salt of the Earth. ' It's political propaganda, not honest cinema. Ultimately, by portraying one side as good, fine, and noble, and the other as the essence of evil, one fails to convince. It's not a good strategy to insult the intelligence of the viewer. That, unfortunately, is just what this film does, no matter how well intentioned it may have been.
The makers of this film were struggling against the foolish Hollywood Blacklist. One can understand their bitterness and anger. It's too bad, however, that they could not have fashioned a less stereotyped script, one that portrayed all characters as real people and not stock props out of the left-wing playbook. But, one must also remember that there were plenty on the left in those days who were still apologizing for the Stalinist regime. Perhaps I am expecting too much from people caught up in the bitter political battle of those days. Certainly Hollywood turned out its share of films that stereotyped the left.
Finally, I find the level of acting in "Salt of the Earth" to be weak even when compared with the typical Hollywood B movie of the 1940s and early 1950s.
As I said, mine appears to be a minority opinion with respect to this particular film. I will stand by that opinion nonetheless.
I've given this film a 7 rating, which is much higher than most of the other IMDb participants who have expressed themselves. Frankly, I thoroughly enjoyed "Valley of the Kings." Its strong points definitely outweigh its shortcomings.
True, this is in a sense a very glossy and high budget version of a pulp adventure story. But the Egyptian locations and the color photography are worth watching. The acting, while not exceptional, is adequate; Taylor and Parker are especially appealing to the eye.
"Valley of the Kings" is an example of what Hollywood was trying to do (big names, wide screen, lush color photography, exotic location shooting, etc.) in the 50s to convince customers to turn off the TV and drive down to their neighborhood movie house. Do not expect to see a precursor to Indiana Jones. Taylor's character is no college professor who occasionally trades in his tweed coat for a leather jacket and bull-whip. He's a rough and tumble type who has picked up his archaeological knowledge while working on construction projects in Egypt.
Eleanor Parker is, as always, good to look at as the daughter of an Egyptologist who is determined to prove her father's hypothesis. The story is perhaps not exceptional, but it will hold your interest.
No one will mistake "Valley of the Kings" for "Lawrence of Arabia." But it is a solid entertainment that you will enjoy more than some of the overblown, hugely expensive productions that stumble out of Hollywood these days.
I watched Fantastic Studios Inc. over Los Angeles TV in the early 1950s. (My family got our first TV set in August, 1950.) Since I have not seen this show in nearly 6 decades, my memories are a bit faint. As I recall, there was a regular cast of youngsters who got into all sorts of adventures. I do remember one episode in which the kids had to deal with a forest fire.
Again, it's pretty difficult to give an intelligent review of the program after so many years, but I do think I am safe in saying that it was probably as good as many contemporary kids shows. Today's shows have better production values, of course, but not necessarily better stories.
A couple of days ago I took my 11 and 6 year old grandsons to see this movie in Oceanside, California. Suffice it to say that I did NOT decide to go jump off the nearby Oceanside Pier when the film was over. Sure, it's no world-beater. On the other hand, I was somewhat surprised that the movie was better than I had expected.
Probably most of the criticisms one can read in the other reviews have merit. But over all "Aliens in the Attic" is far from the worst kids movie you have ever seen. Obvious, yes, but enjoyable for the little ones. I'll say this, I took these same grandkids to see "Daddy Day Camp" when it was out and I was completely disgusted and disappointed by that turkey. "Aliens in the Attic" is a couple of notches above that one. At least there are no exploding outhouses or questionable values modeled by adult characters.
No doubt taking little kids to the zoo or going for a walk in the woods would be better for little kids, but if you get stuck for something to do this summer you should not feel hesitant to take them to this film.
"Night Unto Night" is by no means outstanding, but is not the bottom of the barrel effort that some reviewers have claimed. It is a serious attempt to portray two serious personal problems.
The first is the difficult task of coming to grips with the death of a spouse; the husband of Vivica Lindfors' character has been killed in the war (WWII). The second is having to face a serious medical condition; Reagan's character, a scientist, suffers from epilepsy.
The pace of the film is, to say the least, leisurely. The climax, which comes during a Florida hurricane, finally provides a bit of action. The acting is good throughout. Reagan's performance is competent if not outstanding. Vivica Lindfors and Broderick Crawford are better.
The attitude toward epilepsy was somewhat different in 1949 from what it is today, and one sees that portrayed in this film. (I believe that the symptoms displayed by Reagan's character are not accurate.) "Night Unto Night" was produced with the best of intentions, but the final product does not live up to expectations. It is, however, worth at least one viewing.
It's funny how one's opinion of a film can change over time. I remember seeing and liking "Escape in the Desert" many years ago, perhaps in the 60s. When I saw it again recently I was really disappointed.
Just the opposite is true of "Juke Girl," which my wife and I just watched this evening on TCM (March, 2009). I had seen the film quite a while back and didn't think much of it. This time, however, I found the film to be quite enjoyable; no prize winner, but interesting from several standpoints. Here are some quite thoughts:
* The acting: As other reviewers have pointed out, it is quite good. The film features the Warner Brothers stock company that appeared in so many films in the late 30s and throughout the 40s. I refer to the likes of Alan Hale, George Tobias, Donald MacBride, etc. Ronald Reagan and Ann Sheridan are good in the leads.
* Photography: I second the feeling of another reviewer who commented on the film's cinematography. That is especially true of the outdoor scenes, which make up a fair amount of the running time; so many movies from the same year were shot almost entirely on sound stages. It's nice to see what Southern California looked like in the early 1940s (I feel certain that somewhere such as the San Fernando Valley stood in for Florida.)
* Politics: This story almost seems like a second tier version of the "Grapes of Wrath," with its mean, unscrupulous packing house owner and its poor but honest farmers and field workers. It's laid on a bit thick in my view, but it makes for an intriguing storyline.
* One quibble regarding plot: When the mob storms the jail, the sheriff and his deputies, who have threatened to shoot, just stand there and allow themselves to be overcome. Well, I suspect that any self-respecting lawman and his men would have blasted away at that point in their own self-defense if nothing else.
I have no doubt that some will, incorrectly, call this a B movie. Well, with Ann Sheridan as the top billed player, that is of course nonsense. It is indeed an A production, though a bit too predictable in terms of the plot to be considered first-rate. However, if you are a fan of 1940s style Warner Brothers melodramas (and I don't use that term pejoratively), you might indeed enjoy "Juke Girl."
A complete abortion of a movie that any self-respecting movie maker would disavow
Now that I'm retired from 30 years of teaching I do a lot of substitute work. At least a couple of times I subbed in English classes in which the lesson was to show the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet. When I learned that today's lesson was also a Romeo and Juliet video I smiled, since that 1968 film is so good that I cannot help but watch it along with the class.
Imagine my dismay when, instead of Olivia Hussey, Michael York, etc., I found out that the class was to watch this monstrosity of a film set in 20th Century U.S. gang culture. I don't think I can adequately express how awful this film really is. The acting, with one or two exceptions, does not rise above the level of a ninth grade class skit. Clair Dane is embarrassing as Juliet (she was much better in Terminator 3) and Leonardo DiCaprio is little better.
Inadequate acting is not the film's only shortcoming. The sound is awful; it's very hard to make out some of the beautiful lines left us by the Bard. And, most of all, the modern setting just destroys the magic that was so expertly on display in the Zefirelli version.
This attempt at presenting Shakespeare is an absolute train wreck in my view. Total pandering to today's youth culture. If one wanted to see a modern version of Romeo and Juliet, watching West Side Story would be a much better bet. This film gets one star from me and that only by way of courtesy.
"West of the Pecos" is not to be confused with any of the great westerns of all time, or even of the 1940s. It is, nevertheless, a competently done little RKO-Radio Pictures western that reaches a surprisingly high level of quality considering its undeniable B-picture status.
First and foremost is the performance of the great Robert Mitchum in one of his earliest starring roles. I can't imagine how anyone would not be charmed by this seemingly laid-back, I-don't-give-a-dam young actor who offered viewers a persona pretty much unlike that of any other star. What was it about Mitchum that so many, me included, find so appealing? I guess it was his plain spoken, down-to-earth manner; totally unaffected, totally at ease regardless of whatever predicament he found himself in.
The plot is somewhat routine, that's true. But the actors are all more than competent, and we are also treated to some beautiful outdoor photography. The film was shot on location near Lone Pine, California, an area that has appeared in many, many movie productions over the years.
My only complaint, other than the fact that the script offers no surprises, is that there is almost too much comic relief, supplied mostly by Richard Martin, an actor who played a Mexican in many films despite the fact that he obviously never got beyond Spanish 1 in school. (I'm a Spanish teacher with over 30 years service, so take my word for it, the guy's Spanish accent is far from native.)
I suggest you take a look for yourself. "West of the Pecos" is not a bad way to spend a bit over an hour. Especially if you are a Mitchum fan.
One reviewer here complimented the whole cast of "Ladies of Leisure." Well, I must respectfully disagree. I found Ralph Graves' performance to be rather wooden. Graves had been in films since he was teenager just after Word Ware I had ended, but clearly he found it difficult to deliver a natural performance in the sound medium.
I do recommend the film for historical purposes if nothing else. It was released in the Spring of 1930 and may have been filmed in late 1929. That would definitely qualify "Ladies of Leisure" as a member of that first generation of sound films dating from 1928 to 1930.
One thing I wondered about is whether a boom mic was used. I think someone else opined that hidden mics, placed here and there around the set were still used in this production. I do know from my reading that sound film technology was making progress just about on a week by week basis in those early days.
A surprisingly thoughtful SF story that does not depend on special effects.
I, too, bought this movie out of some bargain bin and it lay around our house for quite some time before my wife and I watched it. We were, in a word, quite surprised and pleased to encounter a science fiction movie about an intelligent robot that for once did not rely on special effects to make its point.
"Prototype" is a thoughtful look, not only at the emotions of a man who has dedicated more or less his whole career to creating a human-like robot , but also at the thought processes of such a creature as it actually goes into the world and has to react with real people and situations. The story builds to an inevitable climax very smoothly.
The cast is quite good and the production values, such as they are (the budget was obviously rather low), do not detract at all from the story. In fact, a great deal of the story takes place out of doors or in real buildings, giving the whole film a touch of reality.
A great deal has been left unexplained, such as the building of the robot, which has already been accomplished as the story begins. One also wonders what powers the robot. The viewer must simply pass over that and concentrate on the existential dilemma of the robot and its creator.
I definitely recommend this movie. It is a pleasant change of pace from the current spate of SF films that depend so much on spectacular visual effects. "Prototype" is definitely an example of the thinking man's science fiction. Just the kind of story that John Campbell would have published in the old Astounding Science Fiction magazine. (Just to make sure that there is no misunderstanding, that is a compliment, considering how much of the maturity of modern science fiction resulted from Campbell's wise editorship of that great magazine.)
No prize winner but a more than rewarding WWII adventure.
It seems that most IMDb reviewers have a pretty low opinion of "Background to Danger." Well, I admit that many of the criticisms of this film have merit. First of all, George Raft was decidedly not near the top of Hollywood actors. Second, there is, as many have observed, more than a little resemblance between this film and some others, such as "Casablanca." And I keep wondering what the film would have been like with Bogart, Cagney, or Garfield in the lead role.
Nevertheless, this is a film I have enjoyed many times and probably will again. Some of Raft's lines probably would not have worked with Cagney or Garfield, but they are okay coming from Raft. And, of course, the supporting cast is really excellent.
All in all, I think you will enjoy this film if you don't go in expecting something on the level of "Casablanca" or even that of "Sahara," a Columbia film of the same year starring Humphrey Bogart. In short, enjoy the fast pace and the really great support from Greenstreet, Lorre, Brenda Marshall and the others.
Science Fiction Theater (1955-1957) stands out as perhaps the most intriguing and intelligent of all TV science fiction shows. I remember watching the series as a 13 or 14 year old when it first aired. Only recently have I obtained a DVD of the entire series, and I am happy to say that I have not had to change my original opinion of SF Theater.
The stories are solid, the actors, easily identifiable from duty in many feature films, are excellent. And, as an added bonus, it turns out that the series was filmed in color! SF Theater was not the only 50s series to be filmed in color, but it was nevertheless among a very small minority in that respect.
As someone else pointed out, the intelligent introductions by Truman Bradley are a real plus and add an air of authenticity to the stories. (Compare that aspect of SF Theater with the idiotic stories and tone of "Lost in Space" a decade later!) Finally, I would submit that these excellent shows are a good example of what can be done to tell a complete story in just 25 minutes. Too bad so many of today's movie makers need 120+ minutes to make their points.