Monday, January 28, 2008
This long-unseen horror thriller is one of three films producer Herman Cohen did with star Michael Gough (the other two are Konga and Horrors of the Black Museum). Like the others, Black Zoo is lurid, somewhat campy fun. Gough is owner of a zoo as well as member of a weird cult of animal worshipers. Threatened with losing the zoo and his beloved tigers and lions -- who lie around his living room like treasured and pampered guests -- Gough sics his pets on anyone who dares to get in his way. His wife Edna (Jeanne Cooper) has a trained chimp act and wishes that hubby were kinder to the handsome mute boy Carl (Rod Lauren) who helps him with the murders. Gough is florid and easily enraged, but as an actor he puts on a lively, energetic show, and Cooper is excellent and equally energetic. The interesting cast also includes Virgina Grey as a booking agent, Jerome Cowan as an entrepreneur, Elisha Cook, Jr. as a zoo worker, and even Ed Platt ("the chief" on Get Smart) as a detective. One of the most interesting scenes is an funeral for the dead tiger Baron that takes place in a misty forest by night. Cooper and Gough have a great, lively dinner scene that ends in an hysterical (in more ways than one) fight. Cooper now plays Katherine Chancellor on The Young and the Restless; one of her co-stars on that show is Jerry Douglas, who plays a police lab man in Black Zoo. [He's not very good at his job, however, as he thinks a gorilla is "a member of the chimp family!"] What's most surprising about this entertaining picture isn't the final revelation as much as how moving it is. Rod Lauren hasn't a word of dialogue but his expressive face says volumes. (Ironically, the actor-singer was accused years later of hiring someone to murder his wife.) Script by Herman Cohen and Aben Kandel.
Verdict: Lions and tigers and apes, oh my! ***.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Bob Hope plays a talentless, irritating, egotistical chorus boy who suddenly finds himself the lead of a Broadway show instead of the handsome star (Tony Martin). It seems that leading lady Arlene Dahl's ex-lover (Robert Strauss) has become a crazed killer who wants to murder anyone Dahl loves, hence she feigns affection for the hapless Hope and pretends to blow off Martin. Rosemary Clooney is the "nice" girl who loves Hope but finds him too easily drawn into Dahl's sinister web as well as a world of money and stardom. While there are only sporadic laugh-out-loud moments, Here Come the Girls has a highly workable storyline and is often quite amusing, with Hope in good form. The suspense is in wondering how the hell it will all work out for Hope. Great ending!
Verdict: Cute picture with a kind of dark premise. **1/2.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
Verdict: Great old monster flick. ***.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Verdict: Watch out for that head! ***.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Two old Army buddies -- one of whom (Eddie Bracken) is married with children, the other (Mickey Rooney) single and with ambitions -- hook up to run a gas station that does good business for a while. Then a big competitor opens a competing station right across the highway and nearly drives them out of business. Rooney comes up with the idea of tapping into the pipeline running below the station and stealing gas, which helps them drive out the competition. The word "slight" was invented for movies like this -- the pic could be retitled A Slight Case of Comedy -- and there's very few laughs in Jerry Davis' screenplay. Both Bracken and Roony are good -- as is Elaine Stewart as the sexy gal Rooney falls for -- but the only thing this really has going for it is Rooney's pure, unfiltered charm and enthusiasm. There's a cute scene when Rooney is sounding off pretentiously and in high-falutin' terms to Bracken's little boy. Not much to this time-waster.
Verdict: Too slight to be memorable aside from Rooney. **.
Verdict: Only if you're curious or a real big Beatty fan. **.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Verdict: Not to be missed if you're in a silly mood and love "big people" movies. ***.
Long and rather tedious remake of Outward Bound has a couple who committed suicide (Eleanor Parker; Paul Henreid) finding themselves aboard a passenger ship heading toward eternity – only the other passengers don't realize that they themselves are also dead. Thought-provoking premise is given half-baked, overly literal and preachy treatment, and the many stilted performances don't help. Aside from an excellent speech at the very end of the film, John Garfield is in no way showcased to advantage in the film, playing it all in one note and revealing little of his character's inner torment. His girlfriend in the film, Faye Emerson, doesn't even appear to be an actress (although she plays one); she has some nice moments, again at the conclusion, but is otherwise astonishingly inept. However, Edmund Gwenn is splendid as the chief steward, and Sara Allgood scores, as usual, as a kindly older lady. Henreid gives one of his more memorable performances, and Parker is superb. By the time Sydney Greenstreet shows up as the “examiner” to determine exactly which place the passengers go -- Heaven or Hell – the movie just implodes.
Verdict: Have a nice nap instead. *1/2.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Verdict: Mildly amusing and easy to take. **1/2.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Verdict: A fine biography of a fine actor.***1/2.
Verdict: Not worth the time to track it down. **.