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Reviews

Bucktown
(1975)

You Can't Go Back Home
Fred returns home to bury his brother. Pam, the brother's wife and now widow, is displeased that he didn't come back sooner to help her husband. That doesn't stop her from having a fling with Fred! With her urging Fred decides to reopen his brother's bar and soon discovers the all white dishonest police department has its hands in his pocket and will stop at nothing to terrorize the black community. Fred enlists the help of his close friend in Philly, Thalmus, who rounds up the brothers. They soon arrive in Bucktown and make short work of the police. But is the cure worse than the disease? Lots of violent action led by Tony King. Seeing Carl Weathers was a plus. Pam is strictly decorative in this one. Fred is a one-man army! Recommended if you enjoy this genre.

Jacob
(2019)

You Can Do What You Want to Do, You Can Be Who You Want to Be
Inspirational documentary about a very smart guy that has made his life about pursuing knowledge and qualifications to the useful end of teaching, instruction, healing, providing guidance and producing literature. I especially appreciated the insights of one of his friends that sees Jacob synthesizing these disciplines to produce extraordinarily interesting novels and unique contribution to the medical field. Jacob himself is down to earth and very approachable. Fascinating and highly recommended.

Death in Small Doses
(1957)

Speed Kills
Peter Graves is dispatched by the FDA to go undercover as a truck driver to uncover where drivers are getting amphetamines that they are taking while operating their rigs and causing accidents. Chuck Connors is the standout in the cast as a whacked out driver in a very unusual role for him. Mala Powers is attractive as the owner of the boarding house and eventual love interest for Graves. Graves is too obvious in his pursuit of information. Otherwise fairly predictable until a somewhat unexpected finish.

Edge of Doom
(1950)

Brilliant Unvarnished Noir
Farley Granger's life is desperately grim. His sick mother has died leaving him without friends or family with a stingy employer and a callous parish priest that he has estranged due to his unwillingness to bury his sacrilegious father. And his poverty has left him without enough money to provide his mother with a "proper" funeral or marry the one person that he loves and loves him, Mala Powers. Granger's performance is stunning and not far behind are Harold Vermilyea as the burned out parish priest and Paul Stewart as the dishonest neighbor. Mark Robson, who cut his teeth editing several Val Lewton legendary classics, provides expert direction weaving noir elements together with the sad realism of life in a ghetto community. The movie is unrelentingly bleak but thoroughly absorbing . While it does lack some of the colorful dialog of other film noir masterpieces, it still is an absolute must for connoisseurs of the genre. Highly recommended.

Perry Mason: The Case of the Married Moonlighter
(1958)
Episode 7, Season 2

The Case of the Unliked Decedent
Ann Sargent approaches Perry about divorcing Art Franz due to financial problems in spite of still being in love with him. Schoolteacher Franz is moonlighting waiting tables at a struggling diner owned by Jesse White. Stacy Harris , drunk and obnoxious, calls old acquaintance Franz a loser while being served a bowl of chili by him then passes out during a fight with Jesse. Franz overlooks Harris' behavior and takes him home. But not before Jesse finds Harris has a wad of cash while looking to get paid for the chili. Harris' neighbor Tom Palmer complains of noise when Franz is helping Harris get into his apartment. Palmer lost a packet to Harris playing poker a few hours earlier. Francis Helm and business partner Doug Evans were sitting in the car for an hour waiting for Harris to come home. Helm wanted Harris to marry her even though she hated him! The next morning Harris is found dead in his apartment and Franz is accused. Perry gets Burger and Tragg distracted as he zeros in on the killer. Good but not great Perry.

Perry Mason: The Case of the Prodigal Parent
(1958)
Episode 36, Season 1

A Case of Mistaken Motive
Terry Becker is desperately in love with beautiful Andra Martin, who does not return his affections. Ann Doran accuses husband Herb Ridley of being in love with secretary Martin. Fay Wray divorces husband John Hoyt ostensibly because of his infatuation with Martin. When Becker is found murdered by Hoyt in former wife Wray's home, the police accuse Hoyt of the murder. Classic Perry punctuated with the appearance of Fay Wray!

Allotment Wives
(1945)

Tough Gals
Paul Kelly is put in charge of exposing and terminating the organization that is masterminding bigamy schemes that fraudulently get access to allotment benefit funds to provide for wives and children of servicemen. Kay Francis is the head of the notorious syndicate and Otto Kruger is her henchman. That would seem to be the main plot but competing with it is Kay Francis' concern for her wild college aged daughter who is running amok. Then there is Gertrude Michael trying to blackmail Kay based on some issue from their past. Not to mention the romantic situation between Kay and Kruger or Kelly's interest in Kay. An 80 minute movie leaves us unsatisfied in allowing enough time for developing the main plot let alone these subplots. The end result is a threadbare flick with a superficial expose of the allotment wife issue. This movie was part of a three movie package that Kay signed with Monogram that you'll note also gave her credit as Producer and essentially marked the end of Kay's fabulous career. While far from her best outing her movies are all worth viewing. Kruger and Kelly were excellent in support. Disappointing but still entertaining.

Il segreto del vestito rosso
(1965)

Roman Holiday
Cyd's husband has disappeared while on holiday in Rome and she enlists the help of the American Embassy to locate him. A drunk stumbles upon a dead man at Trevi Fountain. The dead man's apartment is robbed by a couple of inept thieves. Hugh is a newspaper editor in search of a story and learns of former lover Cyd's dilemma and decides to get involved. Enjoyable Italian made thriller with lovely on location photography. Hugh with the help of the inspector eventually ties these pieces together. But not before having to sift through a number of red herrings to get to the motivation behind Cyd's missing husband and the murder. The story is a bit difficult to follow but it moves along at a good pace and will keep your attention.

Kiss Her Goodbye
(1959)

Say Hello to This Movie
An attractive young couple's car is broken down on the side of the road on a hot afternoon in rural Florida. The young man refuses help from the local police who stops to help but then asks a young farmer looking on nearby to take them into town. The farmer agrees to do this attracted by the girl. Who is this couple, where are they going, where are they from, etc. Do yourself a favor and DO NOT READ REVIEWS OR ANY SYNOPSIS BEFORE WATCHING THE MOVIE. The acting is very good especially Sharon Ferrell's inaugural performance. Recommended.

Lo spettro
(1963)

Spirited Atmospheric Tale
Wheelchair-bound, morbid Doctor Hitchcock is being treated for his paralysis by handsome young doctor Peter Baldwin with a poison that is quickly followed with an antidote at his dreary estate. Hitchcock's young lovely wife Barbara Steele and Baldwin are having an affair that Hitchcock is aware of. Hitchcock's doting housekeeper is also aware of the affair. Steele convinces Baldwin to do away with her husband. Though this is a routine formula the story takes some interesting twists with an ending that is anything but predictable. Good direction and acting made this an enjoyable viewing. Recommended especially to Steele and Gothic horror fans.

Operation Amsterdam
(1959)

Sparkling WWII Thriller
The Germans have invaded Holland and are in the process of occupying Amsterdam, some of them masquerading as Dutch fighters called Fifth Columnists. The British dispatch British Army Intelligence Officer Tony Britton with Dutch diamond men Alexander Knox and Peter Finch to get the industrial grade diamonds out of Amsterdam before Hitler can get them for use in machine processing for weapons production. Eva Bartok drives the trio from the dock into Amsterdam after being prevented from committing suicide and then sticks around to assist in the mission. Based on a true story this is well made with great acting and very suspenseful. Beautiful on location filming in and around Amsterdam. The movie so effectively puts the viewer into the frightening situation the Dutch were facing that it plays as good as a documentary. Highly recommended!

The Dark Hour
(1936)

Time for a Mystery
Strikingly beautiful Irene Ware lives with her two wealthy, disagreeable uncles, who are inexplicably living in fear for their lives. She is befriended by a retired detective neighbor and romanced by an active detective. When one of the uncles is murdered the detectives join forces to solve the crime. Benton Churchill is the standout in the cast as the believably tough, smart, and experienced detective. A good cast executes a well-acted whodunit with lots of twists and turns. What is unique and quite entertaining is watching the interaction between the two detectives as they hypothesize various scenarios based on newly discovered facts. This also has an excellent ending. The movie I watched was on Prime and is a terrible copy. This is worth searching out and I feel would have gotten a better rating from me if I had seen a better copy of the movie.

Dangerous Money
(1946)

Being Under Chan's Custody or Protection is Deadly
Charlie is traveling aboard an oceanliner from Honolulu en route to Australia with a stopover in Samoa. He is approached by US Treasury agent Scott Pearson, who is traveling undercover to deal with "Hot Money" being smuggled out of the Philippines. He believes that someone is trying to kill him and needs Chan's protection. Charlie tells him to accompany him to the floor show to observe the other passengers instead of going to his room and then is murdered while seated at the show with Chan. C'mon Charlie! Chan commits to finding the murderer and uncovering the smuggling ring before going on to Australia. There's way too much Sen Yung and Willie Best . The script is weak, the direction amateurish and the production lean especially with the air time alloted Yung and Best. However, this is one of only five films made by the lovely Gloria Warren and she was very good. Recommended only as a curiosity to see Warren or for Chan aficionados.

The First World War
(2003)

Comprehensive Historical Perspective
Incredibly detailed account of the war and the European political landscape in the early 1900s. The only thing I took issue with is the perspective of Russia going into the war. Russia had come off a long unproductive conflict on the Korean peninsula. The Russian generals were well aware of Germany's military might and superiority over their capability. They tried in vain to advise the czar against getting involved as they strongly believed they would be crushed by the Germans. I'm also not sure that Germany went into the war with the trepidation that is expressed in the documentary. This is the first documentary I've seen that correctly depicts the Kaiser for the monster he was. Also it does an excellent job of reviewing the worldwide nature of the war and the broad scope of the German attack including fomenting internal turmoil within its adversaries. This is must viewing for any student of history.

The Strange Woman
(1946)

Not So Strange
Engrossing saga set in 1824 Bangor, Maine of how a poor and abused woman uses her circumstances and beauty to become the richest person in town cunningly luring the local shipping magnate into marrying her. Some great casting against type with Gene Lockhart, Louis Hayward, Hillary Brooke and George Sanders having varying degrees of sympathetic roles as the manipulated. Hedy is excellent as the ruthless upwardly scheming woman who still remembers where she's from as she shows generosity to those less fortunate. Solid supporting cast delivers in this nicely shot drama. Recommended especially for fans of Lamarr.

3 Steps to the Gallows
(1953)

Won't Leave You Hanging
Excellent British Film Noir "3 Steps to the Gallows" follows American Sailor Scott Brady trying to visit and then just locate his brother while docked in London. Mary Castle as the lounge singer at the Gay Mask club gives this film an extraordinary aura. Her abbreviated performance of "There's No Way Out" paves the way for Brady to commence making contact with all of the characters involved in the plot. Pay attention - no one is above suspicion. Brady is more than a bit of a bull in a china shop but the rest of the cast is more subtly believable. This moves along at a good pace with no dead time. Worth seeking out.

Cul-de-sac
(1966)

Think Twice Before Retiring to the Beach
Captivatingly bizarre movie. Dickie and Albie, both injured and on-the-run following a failed heist, stumble upon effeminate George and promiscuous Teresa's secluded castle on the shore. Lionel Stander as the menacingly uncouth thug Dickie is the standout in the cast as he takes over the household while waiting for the gang boss to come and get him and his partner. Donald Pleasence and Franciose Dorleac as the invaded couple were also excellent as they deal with not only the crooks but an unwelcome family visit. Not for everybody but if you're in the mood for something unusual from the 60s or just wanting to view an example of early Polaski .

Raw Deal
(1948)

Pad Hand
Gang boss Raymond Burr greases the skids for Dennis O'Keefe to make a prison break in spite of Burr setting him up for the rap and owing him $50k. Claire Trevor desperately loves O'Keefe helping him escape and narrating her emotions effectively throughout the film. Marsha Hunt is the attractive good girl reminding O'Keefe that deep down he is a decent guy. It's a bit predictable and some scenes stretch credibility. However, a terrific cast, good noir dialog, solid camerawork (watch how Burr is filmed and don't miss Trevor and the wall clock near the end of the film) and a number of film noir situations creating tension add up to a good viewing experience for those of us enjoying this genre.

Foreign Intrigue
(1956)

Intriguing Euro Mystery
Beautiful Eastman color film based on the popular TV series. Robert Mitchum discovers his wealthy employer Victor Danemore dying in the library of his Riviera villa. Mitchum was employed as a PR guy to fabricate a past for Danemore. Following suspicious questions about the death, he decides to embark on an unsettling journey to unravel Danemore's past and real identity. Good storyline, shady characters, noirish atmosphere, and reasonable plot twists add up to a very good viewing experience.

Detective: The Speckled Band
(1964)
Episode 8, Season 1

Worthy Adaptation of This Classic
Twin sisters Julia and Helen Stoner live a weird existence terrorized by their ogre-like stepfather, brilliantly played by Felix Felton, in a dreary estate. Engaged Julia dies inexplicably after experiencing strange happenings and noises. Two years later Helen begins to experience similar unsettling sounds after she gets engaged and eventually turns to Holmes for help. Fine acting in an atmospheric setting with a storyline that stays true to the Conan Doyle novel is a pleasant surprise in this pilot episode for the 1964-65 made-for-tv series. Douglas Wilmer and Nigel Stock are okay as Holmes and Watson. Recommended especially if you're a Sherlock Holmes fan.

City of Missing Girls
(1941)

Missing in Action
Dull but well acted story of young women that have turned up missing that have one thing in common - they have been attending the Crescent School of the Arts in pursuit of getting into show biz. I enjoyed watching a young John Archer, pretty Astrid Allwyn, crusty HB Warner, and devious Phil Van Zandt give their all in what had to be a pretty inexpensively made film. Also look for Herb Vigran, who amazingly was unaccredited, as one of Phil Van Zandt's henchmen. This an okay time waster but don't seek it out.

Cat Girl
(1957)

Undesirable Inheritance
Beautiful Barbara reluctantly returns to her uncle's dreary home after a 9 year hiatus at his request with her worthless husband and equally unreliable "friends" in tow to learn of her inheritance. Excellent cast and top notch production in this effective chiller. Highly recommended if you're in the mood for an eerie movie -- then watch with the lights out!

Voodoo Man
(1944)

"This Is Getting Monotonous"
So the sheriff remarks after being informed that a fourth young woman is missing in his territory. (Bela and George probably felt this way after doing their upteenth z movie). "We are working tirelessly to find the other missing women" he says while his deputy is asleep on the couch! This movie is a hoot! George Zucco and Bela are the Voodoo Men -- Zucco gets a wild headdress, robe, beads and does the bizarre chanting; Bela just gets the robe with the stars. Poor John Carradine got no robe but does get to play bongos. There is no Sally in the movie cast but there is a Stella; she along with Betty and Mrs Marlowe are strikingly beautiful women. The plot is that Bela is abducting young women in attempt to revive his wife, who has been in a trance for the past 22 years, using voodoo. Zucco owns a gas station that the gals stop at to ask directions and George sends them Bela's way and then warms up his headdress. So bad it's good!

She'll Have to Go
(1962)

Made for Anna
Pleasant movie about a couple of impoverished brothers living in a mansion that get stiffed in their grandmother's will. Anna shows up as the heiress and they bounce back and forth as whether to marry or kill her to get at the money. None of the comedy works. Outcome is predictable. Karina is gorgeous.

Gold of the Seven Saints
(1961)

Unsaintly Pursuit
Mildly entertaining story of a couple of prospectors being dogged by a group of bandits in hot pursuit for their gold. There is good chemistry between Moore and Walker throughout the film as the prospectors. Gene Evans as the leader of the bad guys is the standout in the cast. The cinematography of the desert southwest is magnificent. Overall a movie that will keep your interest with some good twists. Recommended if you're in the mood for a Western.

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