Monday, August 31, 2020
Agatha Christie's creation Hercule Poirot has been played by actors of many different nationalities throughout the years, none of them French (sorry, Belgian). With the majority being Brits, it's nice to see a change every now and then, and thankfully those = Russkies obliged, with an adaption of the = mystery Peril at End House, alias Zagadka Endkhauza...
Hercule Poirot and his friend Captain Hastings are relaxing in the south of France one day when they make the acqaintance of the nice/charming young lady Nick Buckley. While Hastings is blissfully unaware, as is the girl herself, Poirot notices an attempt being made on her life. Having already faced a few near misses, he insists on Nick's immediate protection, and sets out to discover who's trying to kill her before it's too late...
Soviet adaptions are famously loyal to the source material, often bringing the most faithful renditions of these best-selling tales, certainly moreso than British or American cinema =. For example, their version of And Then There Were None is pretty much the only version to stick to the book's ending! (Although in that particular case, we have Agatha Christie herself to =) is no exception. It sticks closely to the book, taking its time to set everything up, and streamlining the prose enough to fit into a 97 minute film without simplifying it or leaving half the book on the cutting room floor. Pretty much every character, event, and twist is present. Not with quite as much detail as in the book, but certainly enough.
While the movie is Russian, the setting and characters are authentic. Everyone has English names, and Poirot is still Belgian. Don't know how good his French accent is (if he even tries/attempts one), but at least he's not Gerkules Palwodov
The actors all do decent enough jobs. Nothing amazing ,but nothing bad either (as far as a foreigner like myself could tell, anyway.) = as Nick Buckley and her various facets, from carefree and debonair, to = and despondent. = Hastings. Sadly no Russians attempting Aussie accents for the Crofts. I wanted to see! Oh it would have been terrible, no doubt, but =! Plus, I appreciate the thought, as long as it's not coming from Americans. Lastly, the most important part of the cast-Poirot himself! = does an alright job, and certainly looks the part. He's a short, plump guy, got an egg-shaped head, and a suitable moustache too, fancy enough to be French/continental, but not so ridiculous =. As for the overall impression he leaves, I'm not sure I'd say he's ever more than ok. I don't blame the actor, rather the film itself. Everything in this movie is serviceable and competent, but nothing truly amazing.
The score is one of the more interesting qualities of Zagadka Endkhauza. Minimal, =, and gentle yet subtly eerie in an ethereal way, it sounds remarkably like something out of Twin Peaks! Together with the film's atmosphere, this delivers perhaps the movie's best aspect, next to its faithfulness.
18:30, 20:12, 37:34, 41:39,
Guesha meanwhile is a great villain. He's legitimately likeable, and his job as a model gets plenty of laughs. Lyolik is just as fun as the gang's heavy, =, especially in the last act. The mysterious ringleader is a bit of a disappointment in that they end up just being some random stranger, but otherwise they're fine. I only wish they had more to do.
The supporting cast is good, from the busybody next door, to the locals in turkey, and the helpful policeman, who's a real pal! He always strives to help out, and do the best he can for the unlucky Semyon.
Saturday, August 29, 2020
When I watch movies my opinion is usually pretty firm. But every now and then, whether through a bad mood, =, or just a freak turn of the stars, you dislike a movie the first time you see it, then enjoy it the next! The last time I saw The Terror of Tiny Town I didn't care for it much at all, beyond certain qualities, and I found it quite dull. But now...
The Terror of Tiny Town is unique as being one of the few (if only) movies to star an all-= cast!
The plot here is basic, but in an effective way. We easily understand what's going on, and like the characters because of it. The men are men, women are women, and villains are villains!
At only an hour long, the novelty of the production never wears off, nor do I think it could. Of course the movie is trying to be =, but besides that it's just a normal movie with a cast that just happens to be little. As long as it's not constantly in your face, like "GET IT, they're short!" in a meanspirited way, any novelty =
I'm surprised It seems that a couple of the = are children =, though that could be wrong, and they're few and far between anyway.
This is partially a musical, as 1930s westerns often were. Why couldn't we have had spaghetti western heroes break out into song more? But on that same toke, watching a little western where they = to Ennio Morricone tracks would be even better!
There are a couple of songs here, and get reprised a bit. The Jack and Jill song is decent enough, though sung again a bit too quickly for my tastes. As for the singing, it's decent. Nothing amazing, but nothing too horrible. Billy Curtis is the best in the movie. The rest of the score is typical cowboy tracks
The acting here is all competent. Curtis is a handsome strapping lead, Yvonne Moray is adorable as Nancy, and William H. Rhodes is a good villain. A bit hammy, but that's ok in a movie like this,
A couple desperately need a babysitter for her younger brother Donald, and hire two workers (Jack and Mr. Dinkle) on short notice. Jack quickly realises what a tough job it is babysitting a terror like this, and decides to put him to sleep with a good old fashioned fairytale-Jack and the Beanstalk. In this fantasy, young boy Jack must save his village, his = cow Henry, and a kidnapped princess from an evil giant. With the help of some magic beans, he manages to climb up, teaming up with a prince, friendly giant housekeeper Polly, and greedy butcher Mr. Dinklepuss...
Jack and the Beanstalk is one of the more unique Abbott and Costello movies out there, for a few reasons. Firstly, it's more of a Lou Costello movie than a double act. Abbott is still here of course, but the two characters feel a bit more distant than usual, and Jack is definitely the lead, while Mr. Dinklepuss is more of a supporting character. No-one feels upstaged though, which is a relief. It just feels like =.
The second difference is that it feels like it does something different from their usual schtick. Not that I have a problem with = of course, as I adore their usual schtick, but it's always nice to do something different every now and then.
The framing story [here] is amusing enough, and the precocious and diabolical kid is funny. This takes up the first 11 minutes of the film, and I didn't mind it, until the end. The fantasy section takes up the majority of the film, and it's fun! It sets everything up well and is an amusing take on the classic story. It has enough comic deviations to be = and fresh, but not so many that it feels too distant from the source.
There's always plenty going on, whether it be adventure, romance, comedy, and music. And al at a brisk 80 minutes there's no chance of getting bored here.
I was a bit disappointed at the ending though. The climax is a little rushed, mostly satisfying but with a few loose ends (like Polly and the cow! How'd they get down the beanstalk, especially since they weren't =before it was chopped down!). But the return of the framing story is way too short. It only lasts for about a minute, then it's all over! No real resolution for anything.
The characters in Jack and the Beanstalk really make it. Lou Costello is funny and =, and you really do buy him as a boy, despite being in his 40s. He's so wholesome, innocent, and cuddly! Mr. Dinklepuss is more minor, but a good presence, always having some kind of scheme under his pocket (and who can't love that name??). The prince and princess are fine, maybe a little bland to some but never annoying. I was actually a bit annoyed at first that she didn't wanna be with Bud! Come on, girl, pick the more unconventional match! But then Jack meets the giant Polly, and their relationship is so cute! Polly's a great presence, contributing plenty to the film. And lastly, the giant is a neat villain. Simple but effective, and =, but always getting the crap kicked out of him.
The action here is great to watch! There's enough comedy and thrills to keep anybody entertained, and they're all very well made. There are some spectacular moments, like Abbot's escape through the window, or the battle at the end.
The effects are all nice. The setting is convincing and colourful, while the animals are cute, and the beanstalk pretty good, especially with the great matte paintings of the scenery below! Then there's the giant itself. He's actually not that giant, only a foot taller than everyone else, but he's done up with enough fur and clubs to look convincing. The only real drawback to him being this small is it kinda makes chopping down the beanstalk at the end unnecessary.
The acting here is plenty of fun. Lou Costello is an endearing lead who makes the movie, while Bud Abbott still entertains plenty despite a smaller role. Buddy Baer is = as the giant, and Dorothy Ford is cute and sweet as Polly! Shaye Cogan and James Alexander are decent actors, although something about Alexander looks plain weird when he's in the make-up and wig, I don't know what! This isn't helped by his singing. And lastly, David Stollery is amusing as the young brat despite his short screentime, with =.
The music here is a bit of a mixed bag. There are 5 songs played, but very unevenly. There's not a single one in the whole first half hour, then suddenly we get two in 5 minutes. The songs aren't that bad, though the singing's not the greatest. With Lou Costello that at least works a bit, but with the others, like =, not so much.
Jack and the Beanstalk is a great time! A later Abbott and Costello entry, but by no means a stinker. It's just as much fun as the earlier efforts, different in some ways, but familiar where it counts, and great fun for the whole family...
Friday, August 28, 2020
In London, the Jack the Ripper murders have rocked the community. Th public is turned against the police for not catching him, and everyone suspects each-other. In all of this, American coroner Slade moves into an old couple's leased rooms, choosing to stay in the attic to carry out some experiments.
The Lodger had had a fairly healthy existence for a novel that's otherwise been forgotten by most people. Its Jack the Ripper themed story has been adapted to the silver screen a few times, most notably in The Lodger: A Tale of the London Fog. That film was one of the earliest by Alfred Hitchcock, and is considered by many to be the first true Hitch picture, featuring many of the themes that would make him world famous (such as intrigue, =, an innocent man on the run, and a heavy dose of suspense). One of the 'lesser grade' adaptions (only bearing such a = by not being made by Hitchcock) is Man in the Attic...
Man in the Attic is a pretty standard affair, with quite a bit to enjoy. For a lower budgeted 'cheapie', it really captures the look and feel of 19th century Britain, and the clash of Victorian values, and burlesque dancing girls. It also has a pretty non-judgemental tone towards such workers too, as the lovely and sweet Lily is very casually a sexy go-go dancer (or at least the 19th century equivalent)!
A problem I tend to have with Jack the Ripper movies is how fictional they have to be by design if they're really delving into the killer's identity, which is of course completely unknown in real life despite all the best guessing. Man in the Attic manages to sidestep this problem partially with ambiguity at first, but also by being...I dunno, low-key enough that it never really feels like it's trying to be a tell-all expose on the REAL Jack the Ripper.
The movie gets off to a decently strong start, though kinda falters a bit as it goes on, not through any big/large faults, but just a few little problems that added up for me. The movie's just a little
However, he doesn't totally convince, and I don't mean that as a sleight against Palance, but rather the writing and/or direction. Lily falls so head over heels for this guy, ignoring all other men, and the guy's freaky! He goes on long tangents, he has intense stares, broods to high heaven, and speaks like he's one step away from killing someone. This is not helped by such scenes as him burning an overcoat covered in blood, and when she asks what happened, he very suspiciously wards her away, saying it's an experiment gone wrong and could be contagious, so she instantly believes him and lets him destroy the evidence!
The acting here is one of the best qualities. A surprisingly young (but still chiselled) Jack Palance plays the main character, who is also the villain! He does a good job portraying an eccentric and off-putting individual, with enough nuance that he's not 1 dimensionally evil, but also containing enough = that you wonder if he really is the Ripper. And he is. He totally is. Took me the whole movie to realise it wasn't meant to be ambiguous! I'm used to the Hitchcock version where the lodger actually is innocent!
Constance Smith is sweet, Byron Palmer is good as the sharp and duty-minded cop, Frances Bavier and Rhys Williams are amusing and nice as the old couple, with Tita Phillips being a cute maid. Not really any bad performances in the lot.
Among other things, Man in the Attic is also somewhat of a musical! Going in I was expecting it to be full of this, thanks to some comments I'd read, but actually I found the movie quite reasonable. The first number is a burlesque act, and besides being sexy (in a fun and [tasteful] way), which fits well and does a good job =. The second is from a random Irish lady the cops escort home, who decides to burst into song, complete with a magical orchestra and backing singers! That's a little more tenuous, but I didn't mind it, as it's short and nice.
Overall, Man in the Attic isn't perfect, but it's a nice enough horror/thriller/mystery, and gives enough for you to enjoy if you're a fan of any of those genres. Plus, it makes a good companion piece with other films about this killer, or others based on the same work, too.
Wednesday, August 26, 2020
At the bustling Tonart/a studio, leading man Myles Brent is 'shot' for the latest scene in The Death Kiss, but when the crew calls it a wrap, he doesn't get back up. The police are brought in, and their prime suspect is actress Marcia Lane. Also on the scene is screenwriter Drew, witness to the killing and a budding detective. He constantly gets in the way of the police as he searches for clues, trying to find the real killer before he gets arrested, or they find him...
The Death Kiss is a pretty entertaining murder-mystery. It does a good job of showcasing the hustle and bustle of studio life, while not letting that overtake things, or underusing the concept.
The movie takes a little bit of time setting everyone and everything up fully, in a natural way that I liked but the murder itself happens shockingly quickly! In the very first minute, BANG, he's dead! This poses a problem, as we never get to know the victim, and have no idea why anyone would want him dead. Having whodunnits where the murder happens right away can work, but it doesn't here
The mystery overall is the weakest link of the movie. The clues we see are neat, but I wish they'd given us more of an insight. Plus I wish we would have gotten to know the killer more and his motives, because upon seeing him my reaction was literally "...Who's that?". Thankfully the movie doesn't go the easy way out and just have Bela Lugosi be the killer (OR DOES IT/Or does it?).
The cast here is quite good. Drew is a likeable lead. The way he acts, he had the propensity of being extremely annoying, but thankfully he knows when to keep his yap shut, and when not to come out with a joke. He's also not an asshole, which helps. I liked Marcia, though she disappears for much of the midsection. I was also a little confused as to her relationship with Drew. We didn't get enough explanation about the two of them, I thought. I wasn't sure if they were strangers or an item.
The studio policeman is an amusing sidekick, and strikes a good balance of goofy and clumsy, while also not being a hindrance/ball and chain. The rest of the film is loaded with amusing little side characters, including a moralising landlady who gets pissed off about unpaid rent upon seeing a murdered tenant.
The dialogue in The Death Kiss is sometimes weird, and often amusing, ranging from longer pieces, to short and pithy comments.
"The first thing I ask myself when I investigates a murder is who done it." "Well that sounds logical." "And the next thing I ask myself is who could do it." "And then?" "And then I ask myself again, who wanted to do it." "And how do you answer yourself?" "Well I ain't come to that yet."
"He may be dumb, but he ain't blind!"
shuts down an unwanted advance. "Marcia, I'm very fond of you" "Not the kind of fondness I care about!"
The strangest line is when Drew is comforting Marcia after the murder by saying that "Maybe he just died of old age. Maybe he never even existed at all."
The star name attached to The Death kiss, as displayed on all the posters and home releases, is the great Bela Lugosi. Unfortunately this is another case if a minor role being = as if it was a lead. He does fare well here though. Despite not being the main character, he's still important, and does a decent amount. The most surprising thing is that he's a good guy! Not only that, but he plays a studio manager! Now who pictures a film exec when Dracula comes to mind?? I don't know if it's a terrible idea or a genius one! As for =, I really think the producers of this film underestimated how much we/audiences wanna see Bela playing detective for a change!
The rest of the acting is all good. David Manners is a nice lead, and not too obnoxious. The only drawback to his performance is that he's not Bela! Adrienne Ames is a nice female lead, despite disappearing often, and Vince Barnett is funny as the movie's comic relief.
Overall, this is a nice little picture. It's got its flaws, but I enjoyed it, and it's certainly not a bad way to wile away an afternoon...
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
There are many film reviewers online, and some have come and gone, while others I've lost interest in, or just fell by the wayside. One I still regularly watch however is the incomparable Dark Corners! Written, directed, edited, and hosted by the duo of Robin Bailes and Graham Trelfer, it began in 2011 as a series of longer videos, starting out strongly enough, though having some of the teething troubles new shows can, but there's still much to enjoy, and Bailes is a fun host, and all the movie choices are great too. Where it hit its stride was in its second season, where some retools aided the show greatly, and things really began to bloom.
There are a lot of positives to discuss about the show. First and foremost is the length. at only 3 minutes long the episodes are stunningly short! This has the potential to go either way. I have increasingly little patience to sit through a half-hour review, so a nice little nugget like this is perfect! The worry however is that you're not gonna have enough time in only 3 minutes to fully explore the target. Thankfully despite this length the team manage to cover all the bases, commendably so! As time has gone by and the channel has progressed, the runtimes have gotten steadily longer (now commonly around 6 minutes), but it's still miles shorter than others, never feeling like they're going on longer than they need to. Brevity is something the internet certainly needs more of, and this show excels at it!
The movies that are showcased on Dark Corners run the gamut, from most traditionally B-movies (with all the sexism, rubber monsters, and bad acting you expect), 80s horror, slasher films, as well as various cult movies in general from various genres. While the genres covereed may change, there's always a nice level of consistency on display.
The humour here is great! There's always a funny joke no matter the episode, and many are downright hilarious! Favourite episodes include Monster from Green Hell, Two Lost Worlds, The Horror of Loch Ness, Timewalker, and many more.
Besides regular episodes, there are also occasional specials, often covering something from cinema history (usually horror, but not exclusively). Some notable examples are the Hammer and Universal retrospectives, which go into great detail about not only the films themselves, and all the good and bad, but also the lives and careers of the people behind the scenes. Other great showcases are one on Lon Chaney, and a recent mini-documentary on the great Ray Harryhausen, covering his origins, films, effects, and influence on cinema today.
Besides Dark Corners, the two creators have also gone into other ventures, from helping direct/crew other people's projects (such as the fun comedy Old), to their own ventures, such as Bailes' Universal Library series. A response to the incredibly lacklustre remake of The Mummy, this series starts out not only telling the kind of story we'd actually wanna see from a mummy adventure, but actually goes one step further. It's one thing to just write a good book about the Mummy after a really shitty one has left a sour taste in your mouth, but is another entirely to intentionally utilise many of the bad aspects of that film and try and do them well! The Mummy's Quest may take place in the modern day, but it still has a great feel to it, has plenty of scares, and a great sense of humour, balancing the two tones very well.
Following that was The Werewolf of Priory Grange, which I didn't like as much, mainly due to the tone and pacing. All good in it of itself, but a gloomy book all taking place in the one location can wear on some people, especially when following a more lighthearted romp around the world. Still plenty to enjoy, and while I thought some things should've happened differently, or had more levity, there are lots of positives, including a definite commitment to a melancholy and eerie tone, as well as thrilling werewolf action.
The third book, Vengeance of the Invisible Man, is a better read, returning to a familiar protagonist, and to a more sprawling structure and fun tone. There's lots of laughs, creepy moments, and a fine story with lots of twists and turns, leading to more of a high stakes/action-packed conclusion than what you'd expect from an invisible man story, but definitely fitting the book. Overall the worldbuilding and characters in this series are very good, My only criticism (though that word's probably a little strong) would be that it's kinda happening a little too slowly, which is understandable when you're switching perspectives and trying to keep things as standalone as possible, though it can be a bit difficult furthering characters and organisations when they might disappear every other book..
Overall, there's a lot to love about Dark Corners, and every reason to check them out if you're interested! I guarantee they'll deliver hours of entertainment...
Monday, August 17, 2020
Edgar Rice Burroughs had a rich literary history in pulp fiction, creating such iconic characters and locations as Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, the Land That Time Forgot, and the hollow earth known as Pellucidar. Compared to his other books his one hasn't seen quite as much attention =, but in 1976 it received an adaption courtesy of Hammer rival Amicus.
Adventurers David Innes and Dr. Abner Perry are testing a new machine for the public-A giant tunneling drill that can dig its way from one end of the earth to the other. Things seem to go well, until a malfunction sends the drill off course, and the two find themselves in a strange new land. Surprised that they're alive, they search this place, which they quickly realises isn't Earth, but the inner land of Pellucidar, occupying the centre of the planet. Here dwell savage cavemen, dinosaurs, and the brutal reptilian race the Mahars, who keep the humans as slaves, with the help of the monstrous Sagoths. With all these threats facing them, David and Perry are determined to take on them all and liberate this new land...
At the Earth's Core is a fun picture, with cheesy perhaps being a fitting word to describe it, but the movie's so earnest that it feels weird calling it cheesy, when it's trying to be [like this]. It moves along at a steady pace, never boring.
This is very faithful to the book its based on. Many things are streamlined, and certain things are omitted (namely the cliffhanger ending), but otherwise you'd be hard-pressed to call this a bad retelling by any means.
The only drawback to At the Earth's Core as a film and an adaption is that things come a bit too quickly, too easily. What might take several chapters in the novel and over a longer period of time, happens in five minutes or less.
Onto the characters. David is a fine hero. He's resourceful, noble, and clever. The typical archetype, and despite him being pretty flat in terms of characterisation, you like the guy based on his actions, and he makes for a worthy protagonist. Dr. Perry is great comic relief, and helpful too! Not only does he rattle off hilarious lines like "You can't mesmerise me, I'm British!", but he'll give useful information, and even gets a few good action moments!
The beautiful tribal princess Dia is nice enough, and has an alright romance with David, but she disappears from the story about 25 minutes in, and doesn't show up again until well past the hour mark! Her older friend/protector Ghak the Hary One gets a decent amount to do early on, but not so much later.
The warrior Ra is a neat sidekick, starting out as a bloodthirsty adversary, then a trusted ally, who really gives it his all. Meanwhile, the untrustworthy villain Hooja the Sly One barely appears, and even in what seems to be his big moment of betrayal, he never gets the chance to, and just dies at the end. It's satisfying watching him be eaten, but I can't help but think how much more satisfying it would have been had we really seen him do more to screw over the heroes.
The villains aren't the most deep, comprising of the Sagoths, who talk like a VCR backfiring, and the Mahars, who are mute. They look neat, and certainly threatening, and the film does a good job at showing off their evil, namely in the feeding scene, but aside from that we never really get anything that makes them great villains here.
A slight problem the movie has is that it's got too many characters. I do applaud it for sticking so book loyal that it kept everyone in, from Ghak, to Ja, Hooja, and Jubal, but the film does suffer a little by cramming them all into a 90 minute picture, when they've got comparatively little to do. Even Dian herself disappears for half the film! Some of these carry over from the book, but at least some of it is the movie's fault.
One not so loyal part of the film is the names themselves. Dian is now Dia, Ja is Ra, etc! Why such changes? They're so slight that it just seems baffling?
The action in At the Earth's Core is pretty fun! While a lot of it comprises of scrapping between dozens of people all at once, it looks good, and the one-on-one fights are well choreographed. The weapon battles are good too, such as the encounter between David and Jubal, and when he's gotta defeat a giant monster with just a spear. My favourite moment was near the end, when a Sagoth hurls a spear at one of the heroes, and impales one of his own.
The effects in At the Earth's Core are perhaps the main attraction, and they're great! The monsters are all men in rubber suits, and while they sometimes look quite goofy, and the green screen = to make them look bigger falter in some scenes, but for the most part they look convincing, and mesh well wit their surroundings. Less impressive, and more laughable is the obvious doll when someone gets eaten!
The costumes here are decently crafted, and the make-up is all neat too, with the most notable examples being the pig-faced and dome-headed Sagoths. I especially thought the movie did a good job capturing the visage of Jubal the Ugly One. While it can't be as gruesome a design as the one in the books, it's also not a cop-out. He still looks like a mauled berserker.
Lastly, there's the location itself. We don't get a great deal of wide, expansive location shots in the movie, with a lot of scenes being either in = close-quarters, or in caves, but we get a few, and they look good. The matte paintings are great, the pink lighting lends a suitably alien atmosphere to Pellucidar, and even the more set-bound moments are never fake or anything. The money was well-spent for this production.
The acting in At the Earth's Core is fun. Dough McClure may look a bit weird for such a role (), but he does a good job, and him being an American = in a British film works, partly due to that being from the book, but mainly due to his = performance. Up next is the great Peter Cushing, who delivers a performance that from anyone else would be highly undignified. He acts like a human C3PO! It's uncanny.
At the Earth's Core is a perfect example of subterranean fiction, and great fun to watch, especially for a fun movie night with friends!
Sunday, August 16, 2020
Saturday, August 15, 2020
A series of suspicious drownings has the London police/Scotland Yard concerned. After finding that all these people had fresh water in their lungs, they begin investigating the men's insurance plans, finding a trail that leads to Dr. Feodor Orloff's charity for the blind. Two American policemen are called over to help, and enlist the help of Diana, niece to the latest victim. She gets a job as secretary for the kindly doctor, soon uncovering a diabolical scheme...
Also known as The Dark Eyes of London, The Human Monster is a 1939 adaption of an Edgar Wallace novel. Known for his 'lurid' and pulpy stories, this film was no exception, living up to that stories] reputation by immediately earning itself an H rating for Horrific. Neat! How does it fare today though, in this day and age where what scared our ancestors/grandparents seems quaint? We'll see...
I found The Human Monster to be a little slow to start, but it has a decent story, and the basic nature of the premise serves it well. There were a few dips and lulls for me as the movie went on. I was never bored, but I was a little impatient here and there, hoping that someone would die or something would blow up.
For the majority of its runtime, The Human Monster is a pretty relaxed film about insurance fraud. It's got intrigue of course, murder, and the occasional torture scene, but it's not a really out-there film. But then comes the final act, and oh boy, is it spectacular!
This is relatively well-made. It's not an effects heavy production for the most part, so it does well. The most visually interesting part of the film is Jake, an often overlooked 'monster' in 1930s horror cinema. He has a distinctive and creepy look to him that really sells him as a formidable villain. It's amusing that he has such a simple normal name as Jake! The make-up is really well designed, and certainly convincing. There's another area of the film where the make-up is used to great effect, which I won't reveal.
The characters are all fine. A few of the heroes blended together for me at times. There's the strapping American guy and his buddy, there's a handsome young British detective, others(?). None are bad, but they dress and act similarly, and I got a bit lost sometimes. Then there's of course the love interest Diana. Her role is here not only to get butts in seats for a good kiss, but also to give to the story. She's a brave and clever girl too! She willingly climbs into the lion's den to find out who killed her father, even braving the unenviable task of spying on Bela Lugosi! It takes a cool customer to spy on Bela when he's just tortured his treacherous minion in the next room!
The actors do good jobs. Lugosi is a little underhammy in comparison to other films, giving a more subdued and low-key role. He's nice and friendly in some scenes, while sinister and cruel in others. He makes the finale and other scenes really special through his presence. O.B. Clarence is good in his part. Wilfred Walter delivers a creepy and energetic performance as deformed but not entirely heartless brute Jake. Hugh Williams and Greta Gynt are fine leads, and everyone else does a fine job too. Some performances here and there are a bit spotty, like a hilariously bad drunk, but that turns out to be intentional, and it does garner a laugh out of sheer ridiculousness.
The music plays a really good part in The Human Monster! Even though the film tested me at times, the score keeps you hooked. It opens the film with an immediately gripping spooky tone, and continues to be effective throughout.
The Human Monster is by no means perfect, but it's got enough good in it to make up for any shortcomings. Lugosi delivers a and proves in this last act why you don't wanna mess with him!...
Friday, August 14, 2020
I have been waiting a while to finally watch today's film, for a very specific reason. I've already seen Bela Lugosi's The Ape Man, and The Ape Man Returns, and now I'll look at The Ape! No relation, of course, but it's always fun when you see movie titles building from each-other like that! Maybe we would've seen The Ape Man Returns from the Grave! I'd also say it's a shame we never got The Ape Woman to round out the set, although we kinda did, with the Jungle Woman series...
In a small town, kindly doctor Bernard Adrian has been conducting experiments, much to the ire of the townsfolk. He simply wishes to cure polio, and other paralytic diseases, yet is greatly mistrusted for his mysterious and reclusive nature. Open to him however is the young invalid Frances, who's faith in the doctor's skills remain unchanged. Devoted to her, Adrian is intent on restoring this young girl's future to her, and works feverishly on a cure, finding it in the spinal fluid of others. He struggles to figure out what to do, until a killer ape breaks loose from the circus
in case of attacks by gorillas Considering that The Ape IS a Monogram picture, you'd expect more of the same here, but no, it's actually very impressive! The face is =, and it's very animated too, moving in a convincing way. As for the rest of the movie, it has a 'get out of jail free card' with the fact that the ape in the second half is meant to be a costume.
The characters here are well written. The best is Dr. Adrian. Despite the slanderous rumours from the townspeople, he's a kindly soul, and treats Francine with care and respect. But he also eventually commits murder to meet his goal (and pins the blame on a poor ape!). His different facets are presented very well, especially thanks to the intensity he shows with Francine. You can easily understand how this man's genuine and sincere passion for helping the sick and make up for past failures eventually drives him to terrible acts.
Frances is a nice young girl, trusting and always ready to shoot down nasty rumours.
Her boyfriend Danny meanwhile is a dick! He's nice enough some of the time, but it's in his mistrust for the doc where he's at his worst, actually flat-out saying "You know Frances, I think the Doc's crazy!" as his first line, and wanting his girlfriend to remain a cripple just because he wants to be her protector, [callously ignorant of the benefits these discoveries could give the rest of the world].
The rest of the cast are well realised, especially the venomous town villain Mason, who stirs up hatred for the doctor for his own ends, encouraging posse's, but won't lift a finger to help when the town's besieged by an ape. Then he has the nerve to criticise the sheriff for not doing a good enough job!
Where the film gets weird is in some of its minor characters. It often introduces character backstory immediately before they get killed.
The acting here is all fine. No bad performances in the lot. The standout performer is naturally Boris Karloff, who gives the role his all. It's often commented even by otherwise critical reviewers that when he acted in movies of questionable quality, you'd never be able to tell by Karloff's performance. He brings emotion and depth to his character, leaving him neither one-dimensionally good or evil.
The score is amusingly overdramatic, though fitting and effective in many scenes. Where it's at its least fitting is during the opening credits, where we get a jaunty tune over what should be the moment that first draws you into the film. But it does fit the circus motif at least, so there is that.
The Ape is a great little example of 1940s horror, of Boris Karloff, and how whether because of him or because of generally competent filmmakers back then, even the craziest of plots could seem believable...
Thursday, August 13, 2020
When people rank the best to worst Godzilla films, Godzilla vs. Gigan always pops up on the lower end of the list. I never believed it was =, because while I'm the type to keep an open mind, their reasons for finding it so always seemed so convincing. They weren't just pooh-poohing the movie like = cynics, but took issue with such things as overuse of stock footage, and an absolute = of budget, which seemed like irrefutable facts. But recently I saw a video review that was not only very complementary, but highlighted how = Since I'm a big fan of Godzilla vs. Megalon, I realised it was hasty of me to think this was a weaker entry in the series. It was anything but!...
Godzilla vs. Gigan is a super fun film! While not perfect, it's got lots to enjoy, and who can hat a movie about alien cockroaches using a theme park to take over the world!
though the film gets a bit carried away. It's not that the film is boring, or that any of these scenes are bad, but for the first half, the movie is almost like a traditional alien invasion story, and then the last half is all monsters all the time. Never to an exhausting degree, but I do wish things had been made a little more even and distributed.
Tomoko and Shosaku are a great pair. She's a sweet but active girl, setting things into motion all by herself by sneaking into the alien base. Shosaku is a hippie, and the primary comic relief. He's funny, thankfully, and in a good way. He's never really the butt of any jokes. Tomoko's brother doesn't get as much to do, but he's fine. Overall, this is a nice bunch!
A unique touch to this movie is that, depending on the version you watch, the monsters talk! Godzilla and Anguirus either talk in English (sounding really weird in the process!), and/or there are these Kanji speech bubbles, giving a comic book feel. Both are amusing, if unexpected in =.
The aliens are threatening and inhuman enough to be convincingly off, even if they look totally human. We only get a tantalising tease to their true forms, but it's perhaps better that way. My only gripe with them is that they're very open with Gengo in the movie's first act. I couldn't tell if they knew it was him, or if he'd stumbled into a = and the aliens just assumed he was one of them, and acted accordingly.
Getting onto the effects, I think this can be = to three departments. Firstly, the laser guns, sets, destruction, and other little = all throughout look good.
Secondly is the monsters. The articulation for them = in flying scenes is a little lacking (Ghidorah's heads don't move at all), the villains proper look fine. Ghidorah is his usual angry self, while Gigan is an interesting new foe. His design is akin to a giant chicken with hooks for hands and a giant/gigantic buzzsaw in his chest, and yes, he uses it! He slices up buildings, and even uses it on his enemy monsters, to cringeworthy effect! It was enjoyable seeing him and Ghidorah fly away in the end. The monsters here never seem to die, always =, and it's a nice touch. Shows that the villains are cowards who choose to run away.
The last is stock footage. Along with Destroy All Monsters/Godzilla's Revenge and Godzilla vs. Megalon, this entry is accused of absolutely plundering the =, with people calling it a piecemeal film. I couldn't disagree more! While with Megalon I honestly couldn't see any reused footage, here there are certainly scenes that could have been lifted from prior entries, but I didn't notice, even after having seen some of them recently (more recently than people in theatres would have!). Also, I feel there's a[n appreciable] difference between using stock footage, and using it badly. Godzilla vs. Gigan falls definitely in the former category.
The film is well directed, with dynamic and = action scenes and = moments with the humans, and the monster fights are very well done! The location work is stellar, with the amusement park lending a unique look to things, while the = are nice. The climax is pretty dimly lit, and with four monsters whacking each-other about it can be a little hard sometimes keeping track of everything, but not =. And each monster looking distinctive helps too.
With the miniscule budget cutting deeply, this film doesn't really have much of its own score, instead reusing many tracks from previous outings. I feel this is a good workaround, as if you've gone to the trouble of composing all these great tunes, it'd be a shame to isolate them all to one film.
The actors here all do fine jobs, from Hiroki Ishikawa as main hero Gengo, Tomoko Umeda as his girlfriend, Yuriko Hishimi and Minoru Takashima as the other pair, etc. And let's not forget the guys in the monster suits, especially Haruo Nakajima, Godzilla in every film since the first, in his last/final appearance.
Godzilla vs. Gigan is great fun, and well worth a watch by all Japanese monster aficionados! You can't go wrong with a movie as bonkers, quirky, and all round enjoyable as this...
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Insurance agent Albert Tuttle comes to the Rutherford estate to sell old patriarch Cyrus a plan, but when he arrives the man is already dead, and his provisions being read. His will has been hidden, and he's left a very specific stipulation. His body must be interred in his observatory, to be always with the stars, and if he's buried underground his will will be reversed. Naturally half the family are all too eager to hide the body, knowing they've been left
One Body Too Many is a highly enjoyable mystery-adventure. Old dark house movies truly never get old, and this is no exception. It's got a decent story and mystery. The hiding of the body to change the will's outcome gives the movie a neat angle, rather than just being window dressing.
The suspects drop like flies, which gives a sense of urgency to the proceedings, as well as =. Thankfully there are plenty of suspects, so the = isn't hurt by a couple being knocked off here and there.
Something less good is that there's never really much furthering of the mystery. We mostly just see things happening, until we reach the climax, rather than finding any actual clues. And the motive is naturally simple, so there are no surprises there. A couple of things confused me too, like why the will was hidden, or why it reverses if his body is interred wrong. But your enemies are the only ones who'd want to do that, and if they do this they'll be rewarded by the will? I was expecting a reveal like Cyrus was lying, and the original will gave all the money to the assholes, knowing they'd flip it by greedily moving the body, and end up with nothing. That never really happens though.
The film makes up for that with its thrilling climax. It's a ton of fun! We've got secret passages, tunnels, trap doors galore, and a precarious journey that almost results in the most scenic death one could hope for. Not only is this well imagined, but well realised too! The film may have had a small budget, but it had = where it counts!
Getting further onto that subject, the look of One Body Too Many is great. We've got the ooky house, a swimming pool that almost becomes a watery grave, and the towering observatory, which plays a [great] role in events.
The characters here are good. Albert is a good lead, enough of an everyman, and not a total dweeb. I like how much respect he gets from Carol, and how she defends him from the jeers and accusations of the others. Carol, meanwhile, is a good sidekick, often there to help.
The cast of relatives isn't a super distinctive one, and some of the characters blend together, but noe feel superfluous or annoying. They're unlikeable enough without being really obvious about it.
Just because they don't like it, they always say it'll never hold up in a court of law. Assholes like these simply can't comprehend a will being legal and not benefiting them
The movie has amusingly [sexy] ending. How many other 1940s detective movies end with the clumsy but valiant lead getting laid!
There's plenty of fun dialogue here to enjoy. "Calm yourself, it's just a scratch."-"You should have such a scratch!"-"What happened?"-"Oh I don't know. The lights went out and then someone hit me. And then the lights went out."
On hiding in a coffin: "Doesn't look comfortable."-"Why not, at least it's padded."-"Yeah, and so is a cell."
On [corpses and] phones. "He's dead!"-"This is dead too."
"I didn't have anything to do with it, I came here to sell insurance, why should I go around killing people??"
At 75 minutes, One Body Too Many is paced very well. The only qualm I had was an extended comedy sequence. It's not that I begrudged the sequence period, but it does seem to come a little late! Not too late, but we are in the last 20 minutes. It's also a mix between very funny and sooo awkward! But there's a happy end, so it's ok.
The acting is good all round. Jack Haley is a nice lead, scared and clumsy, but not snivelling or annoying. Jean Parker is a neat female lead, who's cute and does plenty. The remainder of the cast are a good mix of normal, devious, and eccentric.
Bela Lugosi has a definitely minor role here, but it's a legit minor role, not just a walk-on cameo that's billed on the poster as the star part (Though he is given top billing on the poster here). He also appears consistently throughout, and he even gets the ending to himself.
One Body Too Many is a typical old dark house film in all the best ways, and well worth checking out if you enjoy the genre! Fans of Bela Lugosi will enjoy too, even if he doesn't get a juicy leading role. He always has a way of livening a movie up, even with a minor part...
Jason Cordry is a struggling novelist who's trying to think of a good ending. He always comes up with great ideas, but can never stick the landing, much to the frustration of his wife Pat. One day he comes up with a new idea for a story, The Mysterious Stranger, and he gets a real life opportunity to test it out when Pat's boss seemingly commits suicide. He
Over My Dead Body seems to be your typical 1940s mystery-comedy, and it is, but this is a truly strange film, that stands out from the rest of the pack with its off-the-wall story and execution.
The idea of a mystery writer stumbling upon a murder similar to one he wrote about, and becoming a character from the book to engineer a conclusion, to fix his writer's block, is a crazy one, as just as unique. While I couldn't help but think Jason is a moron for most of the movie, one can't fault his imagination or enthusiasm!
If there is a problem from all this, it's that the film is so terribly awkward for poor stupid Jason. He is a dope and he kinda deserves it, and he gets himself off the charges in a very neat way during the film's courtroom climax though.
They mystery is very good throughout, with a nice dose of intrigue and clues. While it doesn't seem like there are enough clues at first (especially since the first half focuses more on Jason's plan than actual investigation), this proves not to be the case, and I was pleasantly surprised at how seamlessly everything fitted together.
The only weak link is that the killer is exactly who you think it is. The three suspects are obvious, and while the writer may have had the idea of making multiple characters seem just as guilty to make the mystery still = to work out, it's still not exactly rocket science.
The comedy is effective here, and the dialogue is a real hoot! "Fine thing marrying a guy just to get a breadwinner"-: "A breadwinner? All I got was a crumb!"
"Darling, you can't go around killing people, you'll get arrested!"
While he can get a bit [overbearing] at times, Jason Cordry is a fun protagonist. His books also sound like a ton of fun, even if they are unfinished. I wanna read the adventures of The Mysterious Stranger, The Headless Chinaman, and Blood on the Skyscraper!
Pat is a cheery wife, with enough of a temper to batten/r down a barn door! The fights the couple get into are hilarious, as are the tearfully overdramatic reunions, as well as the strange things that lead up to them. For instance, they've just had a fight leads her to think he might've been hit by a truck, and is lying bleeding in a ditch somewhere is all "Oh darling, I'm =, I was so worried about you!"...then promptly smacks him around for not having the decency to be dead like she thought.
Their home is an interesting one, filled with a menagerie of cute animals, including a horse named Disaster. This leads to a scene that feels like a precursor to Mister Ed, and had me giggling [madly].
Even minor characters have life to them, and get their own unique quirks or amusing lines.
The acting here is all good. Milton Berle makes for an energetic lead, just the right dose of = without being [smackable]. Mary Beth Hughes is a fine straight man, getting plenty of her own amusing moments too. Noted actors like Reginald Denny and Milton Parsons have important roles, with the former being typically villainous, and the latter playing a nervous coward rather than a terrifying maniac. Lastly, African-American actor Wonderful Smith lives up to his name, and is an amusing presence.
I highly recommend Over My Dead Body for mystery fans. If you like silly entertainment, this is a great watch, and a perfect way to spend an hour...
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Alfred Hitchcock was a busy bee in the 50s and 60s, forming a habit of his typical suspenseful romantic adventures French One such film that he didn't make, as it happens, was 1963s Charade. I coulda sworn this was a Hitchcock film when I first saw it, but nope, Stanley Donen and Peter Stone. Often regarded as being 'the best Hitchcock film Hitchcock never made', let's dig into Charade...
Regina Lampert is an unhappy wife, married to an annoying and secretive man. With half a mind to/her mind made up to divorce him, life solves the problem for her when Charles Lampert turn up dead-thrown off a train. The police are quick to tell Regina that Charles was hiding something, holding more passports than good sense. This intrigue becomes deeper when Regina sees several suspicious characters at the funeral. They soon begin threatening her for some money, and it turns out Charles had stolen $250,000 from these old friends, and they want it back. Could they have murdered Regina's husband? And who is the mystery man who keeps popping up to help?...
Charade is a great time! It's an effective combination of a few different genres, from comedy, to thriller, romance, with dashes of espionage and mystery in for good measure. A little bit of this and a little bit of that goes a long way, and it's entertaining from beginning to end.
The plot itself is rather thin. It never really advances beyond 'Regina has the money somewhere, but nobody knows where it is', because if the money was found, the movie would be over. The film keeps the story chugging along with a mixture of building up mystery, clashes with the three villains before an uneasy alliance, and a mystery killer picking off the thieves one by one. The main thing Charade does to [alleviate] the thin story is what I'll get into next.
Charade is a well-known example of the screwball genre, and is one of the definitive latter-day entries. The banter between Regina and Cary Grant is hilarious, as are the situations they get themselves mixed up in, or the nice little dates they have. The movie balances all its elements very well, and it feels like the screwball element is what really ties them together. This would be a bare movie without the wicked sense of humour.
There's only one real problem with Charade, and that's its length. It's two hours long, and while no scene is unnecessary or tedious in its own right, a lot of them are longer than they need to be by a minute or two. This adds up, and before you know it a movie that could have been a quite snug 90 minutes has an extra half hour tacked onto it. This issue doesn't sink the film by any means, and Charade is still light years more enthralling/entertaining than full-one borefests I've seen, but it's still worth mentioning.
The characters are a great bunch. Regina is a nice lead. Dissatisfied and somewhat bored, but not in a bitchy way, and she's nice. She's clever, witty, and while she may not be a physical match for anyone else in the cast, she can more than make up for that in other ways. Cary Grant's character (whom I find it difficult to give a concrete name, for reasons those who've seen the movie will know) is bundles of fun, and you never really know whose side he's on, or what his game is.
The duo share great chemistry, and while there is a noticeable age difference, the movie plays into this (done to alleviate Grant's concerns). There are cracks made about his character's age, often by Grant himself, while Regina is the one pursuing him like a tiger.
The three villains are an effectively threatening and conniving bunch. they each feel distinct, wit their own eccentric or psychotic foibles, and each look different from the other too.
The actors in Charade all do a marvellous job! They bring the script to life superbly, animated
Audrey Hepburn is a perfect lead, petite and younger, but with a sense of maturity too. Cary Grant is his typical lovable rascal self. The trio of George Kennedy, James Coburn, and Ned Glass are great as the villains
Walter Matthau is great. He has a nice everyman quality to him, and his voice gets strange at times, in an effective way. Jacques Marin is good as the befuddled/bemused detective, and the remainder of the cast are fine.
The direction here is very good, with the fight or suspense scenes well executed, and simple conversations are given a nice look. Shot on location in France, Charade looks great, with 1960s Paris never failing to be the perfect spot for romance and adventure
The music by Bernard Hermann is fantastic! We get adventurous tracks typical of his soundtracks, and also more melancholy ones, that go a long way to building the mood. He was a master composer, and here is no exception.
Charade is a great watch all round, and I highly recommend it!
I'm a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock, and To Catch a Thief is an entry in his canon I was looking forward to when I first saw it. It seems the perfect marriage of all
John Robie is a retired cat burglar, and member of the French Resistance during the war. He's since = to his peaceful villa in the countryside but when a fresh spate of burglaries/thefts happen, all eyes point to Robie, alias The Cat. With his old Resistance buddies out for his blood, John must prove his innocence and catch the real thief, all while avoiding the advances of = socialite Francie...
To Catch a Thief is a very popular movie, and has lots of fans, so I'm probably treading on eggshells when I say I could not bloody stand it! I was expecting a mix of Charade and North by Northwest, with a dash of High Society, and it's not that the movie doesn't have familiar elements or themes from those =, but it does everything so poorly for me!
Where To Catch a Thief fell down for me, both 10 years ago when I last saw it, and now, is that it's a bit boring! The movie sets up this plot about thieves and people on the run, but then it just takes half an hour out to focus on the dating between John and Francie. I didn't necessarily mind the fugitive aspect being cut short, since it allows greater freedom for the characters, but the romance took over the plot in a greater way than I feel it should've.
The story is relatively thin, and it hurts that we don't see a lot of the players. We only really get to know John and Francie, plus her mum. The British insurance agent gets a little to do too. Everyone else though, from = Dominique to John's old Resistance pals, they're offscreen most of the time, and we never get to know the majority of them. I've gotta say, they're pretty shitty friends to so immediately assume John is the thief and try killing him!
John is a relatively good lead, heroic and sarcastic in good measure. He's fine enough. Francie is a bit mixed. She's annoying some scenes, bitchy in others, and good fun for the rest. All of these are intentional, but it can still be annoying when you find yourself disliking the main female character for much of the movie. Her mother in comparison is loads more fun! I thought she was a dear, and her relationship with John is great. The insurance agent is a fun addition too
Dominique is a little treasure, a typical feisty and sexy French girl. I was really disappointed with John for not banging her! She's hot, she adores you, and =, what's not to love! But nope, he spurns her and is instead interested in Francie, who's either pestering him for half the movie, or hating him for the other half. The romance between them does improve by the end, and Dominique is essentially phased out for much of the film. This helps the main romance, but not her character. I wanted to see her more!
The mystery of who's behind everything is a bit disappointing. There are three in all by the end. The first barely has any scenes, and dies offscreen, having done nothing we could see. I honestly had no idea who he even was. The third is literally mentioned at the last second, and we never see them after this revelation, so not only did I have no idea who he was, we never get to be reacquainted, get a good villain moment, or see him in defeat. The = just says "He did it!" and that's it for the story!
The main cat burglar is ok, though I was disappointed in their identity simply because I liked them so much. It's also a tad obvious after the funeral scene.
The climax of To Catch a Thief was a bit half-and-half. The build-up at the dance is s boringly filmed, I kept zoning out. Nothing happens! It's all just random stuff. When he action starts, it's a lot better. Suspenseful = in the dark = rooftops The encounter itself is a little unbalanced in terms of =, but since most of it is sneaking, it works well. The ending itself is amusingly romantic. Very brief, but sweet
The music in To Catch a Thief is ok I guess. I don't really remember much of it. It's perfectly decent, I'm sure, but nothing too memorable. The film understands silence well in some scenes, befitting the = tone, but other scenes are te opposite, a bit too quiet.
Lastly, the direction here is as great as you'd expect! Alfred Hitchcock frames scenes well, from suspense/danger to romance, and the location work is sunning some of the time
Overall,I just don't like To Catch a Thief. I'm a fan of most of Hitch's films, older and recent, but this isn't one of 'em...
Sunday, August 9, 2020
Back in the swingin' 1920s, many people plied their luck in the music industry, but it was the three friends Buddy Desylva, Lew Brown, and Ray Henderson who really made it. From their humble origins as lyricists on a stage revue, to building up a bigger name for themselves, to eventually producing their own shows. Things start getting tense when Buddy starts taking charge too much, making executive decisions for the others without consulting them, and they begin to feel left out...
The Best Things in Life is a movie I have mixed feelings about. It's a movie of two halves. One is a fun musical romp through the 1920s, while the other half is a rather spotty biopic that veers [wildly] between reasonably faithful/accurate I guess to wildly insulting. It's not that the movie treats any of the players as pieces of shit () but rather it's like the producers knew these songs were famous, but didn't feel confident in using them straight, so they felt they had to [use them with one hand and mock them with the other.
The most egregious example of this is/are the Al Jolson scenes. Sonny Boy is/has been an enduringly popular song ever since the 1920s, but based on this movie you'd think the creators hated it. We see them intentionally writing the worst song they can think of, making fun of it all the way through. But then the movie sits us down to a recitation of the song that stops the movie dead for 3 minutes. So what is it, movie, do you like the damn song or don't you?! It wants to have its cake and eat it too, and that coupled with its mean tone = pisses me off.
Let's get into the story as a story, ignoring any biographical elements. It's a pretty good = of the lives and careers of these three songwriters.
While its is one thing, something I feel the movie does an admirable job at is presenting the whole career = in a way. We see the characters meeting, we see their creative process work for one song, we see one show, etc. Obviously we see more as the movie chugs along, but what I'm driving at is that it doesn't try to cram in every single detail, rather it just gives us an example of each part of the creative process, giving us the general picture of what they did all the time.
Where the film gets back to bugging me is is in the inevitable drama and break-up in the third act. I swear, this always happens, even with bands that had perfectly happy and stable carers. Heck, especially with acts like that! I'm not an expert on Desylva, Brown, and Henderson, so for all I know they may have had their [fair] share of behind-the-scenes drama, but it's annoying to see. Though the movie develops that thread well, as we see Buddy's personality flaws grow and grow.
Said break-up escalates pretty dramatically! After an argument with Lew, Buddy punches him and he goes sailing out the door, down a set of stairs, halfway across the room and into a table! Kitty thankfully chews him out somethin' fierce, saying everything we'd want her to.
The last act is mostly fine, though I didn't like how crappy Brown and Henderson do once they strike out on their own, only saved by Buddy showing up again and immediately taking charge, changing all their ideas. Also how come these two don't know how to structure a show after working on them for years? The whole ending is a little rushed and almost unsatisfying. It does everything it needs to, but too quickly. Words that should never be heard about a 104 minute long film
The pacing here is good. The timeline is a little confusing, since there's no clear indication how much time has passed, and try as they might, dding a grey streak to Gordon MaCrea's hair does not make him look anything over 30. But overall it does a nice job. Though it didn't need to be shy of two hours! A lot of minor issues the movie faces could have been tuned up easily if it was a little tighter.
The Best Things in Life Are Free is a strange musical, in that it's entirely normal. Not once does it break reality and have characters burst into a fully choreographed number [everyone knows the words to]. Here though is a film that's about songwriters, so the singing is all in-universe, and part of =. Unexpected ,but it's mostly handled well. =
The songs themselves are all great, even if they do come a little sporadically at times. Tunes like Here am I, Brokenhearted, Birth of the Blues, This is the Missus, et al, are ! Although I may be in the minority here, but the lyrics in Button Up Your Overcoat ARE a bit weird!
The actors all do convincing jobs. Gordon MacCrae is a good lead, painting a = portrait of a good dude but with big flaws. Ernest Borgnine is delightful, getting to not only play tough, but also a singer/lyricist too! Dan Dailey is the third one, which is to say he's automatically the least interesting, but he does a good job. He may be a little milquetoast, but he delivers a fine performance. Sheree North is nice as the = Kitty Kane. The rest of the performers, fleetingly as most of them appear, do well. Roxanne Arlen is great at being terrible, while Norman Brooks as Al Jolson i just plain weird! I haven't seen enough Jolson films to know if that's a perfect recreation of the guy's persona, or if Brooks is just crummy.
The direction by Michel Curtiz is pretty good, and the movie well made. Some have accused it of not looking as extravagant as it should have, but I thought it looked fine. Except for the =, but they're stage plays, so of course they don't look on par with movies. They're not meant to.
The Best Things in Life Are Free has some negatives ,but for the most part it's a fun biographical romp with music, and worth a watch, especially for the nice songs! And Ernest Borgnine, always.
4, 15:23, 29, 45,