Monday, March 31, 2008
When his friend dies, a British bachelor named Adam (Stewart Granger) goes to tell the man's young daughter, Evalyn (Jean Simmons), who lives in an orphanage, what has happened, and discovers that she thinks he, Granger, is her father. (It is never made clear why her biological father, who never met her, sent her Granger's photograph.) Eventually Adam's gal pal tells the girl -- who becomes Adam's ward -- the truth, and she's sent off to finishing school, coming back a bit more polished and much more grown up. Granger has a girlfriend of sorts, Moira (Helen Cherry) and Evalyn dates Granger's no-account brother Roddy (Raymond Young), but the real crisis comes when Evalyn, who feels gambling destroyed her real father's life, discovers that Adam is a professional gambler. This slight romance isn't really worth much, although Simmons gives a very nice performance. Wilfrid Hyde-White has a small role as a colonel.
Verdict: A bit on the dull side. *1/2.
After the claw of an inhuman creature is ploughed up in a field, the teens of a 17th century British village engage in rapes, orgies, murders and the like, while innocent women are nearly drowned as witches. Back in the seventies, the sex, violence and nudity may have made this seem more interesting, but today it's a big bore, very slow-moving, and directed with absolutely no panache by Piers Haggard. Linda Hayden plays Angel, the young beauty around whom most of the trouble is centered. Patrick Wymark is the Judge who decides to put an end to all the nonsense. Very poor horror film that even genre fans will find a snooze. Marc Wilkinson's opening theme music is quirkily memorable, however. Haggard also directed the far superior A Summer Story in 1988, for which he was much more suited.
Verdict: Watch at your own risk. *.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Flashbacks relate what led up to the shooting of young singer, Susan Caldwell (Gloria Grahame), nicknamed Estrellita, who is the protege of Marian Washburn (Maureen O'Hara, pictured), who took over Susan's career when she lost her own singing voice just as she was on the verge of making it. This sounds like it might make for a very juicy soap opera at the very least, but what results is a pretty boring, minor-league account, with Marians' boyfriend Luke (Melvyn Douglas) talking the whole business over with police inspector Jim Fowler (Jay C. Flippen); Mary Philips is fun as Fowler's take-charge wife. Flashbacks are not very riveting or compelling. Victor Jory is fine as an impresario who is smitten with Susan, and Bill Williams turns up as a man from her past. Gloria Grahame is excellent as Susan, but the movie that surrounds her is a comparatively dull disappointment.
Verdict: Not even worth wasting a rainy day for. *1/2.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
Verdict: Disappointing and a bit tedious. **.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
MOVIE CRAZY (1932.) Director: Clyde Bruckman. NOTE: Some sources lists Harold Lloyd as the director. Bruckman and Lloyd were not the same person.
Although this was silent comedian Lloyd's most successful sound picture, it isn't very good. Lloyd plays an aspiring actor who winds up getting a disastrous screen test only because he inadvertently sent the wrong photo to a movie studio. While this is going on, he runs into a pretty actress, Mary (Constance Cummings) who also romances him in alleged disguise as a Spanish senorita, becoming jealous of herself. Although there are amusing situations and a few mild laughs in the film, the pacing is slow and most of the picture falls flat. The only exception to this is a very funny party sequence during which Lloyd accidentally puts on a magician's jacket instead of his own and causes all kinds of havoc with the rabbits, eggs, toys and mice that come flying out of his pockets. Alas, this isn't enough to save the picture. Lloyd is okay, but Cummings, although she's appealing and certainly has presence, has no real skill as a comedienne. The big elaborate studio tank fight scene that ends the picture is quite well done action-wise, but simply isn't that funny.
Verdict: Stick to the silents. **.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
With his customary assurance and suaveness, Tyrone Power plays a diplomatic courier who winds up mired in intrigue in Trieste and caught between two fascinating women, Joan (a very sexy Patricia Neal) and Janine (Hildegard Knef/Neff), both of whom have their secrets. A friend and associate of Power's is killed on a train, and various Cold War factions are after a list of secret info that, if acquired by the Americans, might save thousands of lives. Stephen McNally and Karl Malden are, respectively, a Colonel and Captain who seem ready and willing to throw Power and everyone else to the wolves. The finale has Power going against orders and attempting to save the life of one of the aforementioned ladies. This is an interesting, well-acted, fairly suspenseful spy story with great settings and a fast pace. Neal is sassy; Knef proves a fine actress and she deserved a bigger career.
Verdict: Entertaining, well-acted and unpredictable. ***.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
In a variation on Svengali, in which he also starred, John Barrymore (pictured) plays a puppeteer whom fate brings into contact with a boy through which he can live out his frustrated dreams of becoming a dancer. Years later Barrymore is an impresario with a German ballet company and the lad, Fedor (Donald Cook), is its principal male dancer. Ivan Tsarakov (Barrymore) is an old lech who thinks women are strictly for lovin' and leavin', and he's angry when Fedor falls for Nana (Marian Marsh), a pretty, talented dancer in the company, because he's afraid she'll somehow prevent him from fulfilling his genius. When Tsarakov cruelly tries to break the two up, Fedor strikes out on his own -- but Tsarakov does his best to stymie his ambitions. This is a handsome, well-photographed production with interesting aspects and some uneven acting -- even from the great Barrymore -- but ultimately it's a very minor effort. Charles Butterworth offers some comedy relief as Ivan's put-upon assistant (his idea for a ballet is hilarious). Marsh proves an able and expressive actress. Luis Alberni is also quite effective as Sergei, the drug-addicted ballet director who figures in a somewhat bravura and grotesque finale.
Verdict: Intriguing but disappointing. **1/2.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
After the war Juan (Alberto Closas) comes back to discover that his lover Lucia (Maria Jose de Castro) has married a wealthy man, but the two continue their relationship anyway. While out driving with Juan, Lucia hits a bicyclist, but the two run off for fear of exposure instead of taking the badly injured man to a hospital. Even after the bicyclist dies, they seem more concerned about themselves. Eventually Juan develops a conscience, recognizing how his actions have affected people (although Closas' basically wooden performance --though not without some charm --is no help at all.) The movie holds your attention, but the performances are too cool to really pull you into the story. The photography (Alfredo Fraile) is stark and crisp, however, and there is a good scene as the lovers watch blackmailing gossip Rafa (Carlos Casaravilla) whispering and whispering to the husband Miquel (Otello Toso) while flamenco dancers flail about in the background. This came in for some acclaim at the time of its release but it's really nothing special. A Hollywood version actually might have had more bite to it (picture Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Ryan in the leads).
Verdict: Okay time passer if little else. **1/2.
Verdict: Not great, but it has its moments. **1/2.