Ovarian Movie Reviews
Nevertheless, I adored SFGOF. Some critics ridculed the wise old codger played by Bill Henderson (one of those great character actors who you always say--I love that guy!). They say he is cliche or "patronizing." I found his performance moving and inspirational. He plays a sick old african-american man who spins tales of love and loss. Look if Judi Dench can get an oscar nomination just for showing up in a film (am I the only one who notices this?) and medicore films, like Chocolat, get nominated for Oscars--then Bill Henderson, deserves, at minimum, some kind of recognition.
The heart of the film is Henderson, but his role is secondary. The Martini brothers, Smiling Fish (the happy go lucky younger bro) and Goat on Fire (the more serious older one) do a wonderful job in their triple roles of acting, writing and producing. The story of two brothers is both funny and touching. While not quite the study of sibiling relationships as say, You Can Count on Me, this is still wonderful. The brothers have lost their parents and have a special bond. They in lousy relationships and the film studies the fall of those. It gains strength as it looks at the new women (including the wonderful Christa Miller of Drew Carey, who gives a understated performance here) in their lives. There is not a whole lot new ground covered here. Still, the young actress who plays Miller's daughter is wonderful. As is Rosemarie Addeo, as a beautiful Italian woman who loves Dumbo. Kevin Jordan, the director, does a nice job keeping the film sweet and not melodramatic. There is a gentle kindness and warmth to this movie. It may not sound like much to some critics. But, in
these times, SFGOF makes it mark on your heart.
Allegedly taken from a closed Treasury Department file (the "Shanghia Paper" case), "T Men" (1947) is a clever crime drama that's shot in a documentary style for added realsim. The meticulously detailed set-up is kind of slow going, but the payoff is gangbusters (literally). Dennis O'Keefe and Alfred Ryder are Treasury agents who go undercover, disguised as mobsters, to infiltrate a ring of Detroit based liquor cutters known to be using bogus revenue stamps. The gang's savage leader has already killed a fellow T Man. For the agents, there is almost a perverse emphasis on how they must shut down all normal human feelings to successfully accomplish their missions -- even to the point of standing by while a fellow agent is executed in cold blood. There's no question about the dark noir terrain in this terrific little thriller that is all the more effective thanks to John Alton's brilliant, precise, geometrically composed cinematography.
A surprisingly gripping film with a stunning climax. Definitely worth considering if you're looking for those forgotten noir gems.
The film is very episodic and does not realy hang together, but some of the shots are superb. The opening murder of an informant has one of the bext scenes where a murderer literally is absorbed by the darkness. The execution in the steam room is filled with horror. Anthony Mann showed all his potential as a director with this little B film. It is throughly recommended.
The storyline however is not totally original, so a good film must be made up with lots of action in which it was only in spurts as stated above. In fact, if you watch closely the storyline similarly follows the many zombie films that start with a toxic reaction that wakes the dead (in which after 2 yrs of being dead she, the living dead girl, looks pretty good--I also have to say she is actually goregeous for a B-flick zombie movie actress). Also, it resembles the first Hellraiser in a way where her friend lures peopole in to be killed so that her friend can stay alive. In that case in Hellraiser, the girlfriend/stepmom was luring men to her house and hammering them across the head so that her boyfriend could come back from hell by feasting on the people she killed.
I painfully gave this one a 4 star because it really deserves a 3.5 star for trying to be unique from the other zombie films. The director has to be given 2 thumbs up for trying very hard to make it a slick film in an artistic way. However it loses the 1.5 star because its just too slow and at times it just too forever for something to happen and is only mildly successful in creating a decent storyline.
T-Men stars square-jawed Dennis O'Keefe, a former leading man turned beefy B-movie tough guy, and Alfred Ryder as pair of undercover Treasury agents who enter the shadow world of America's mob underworld when their predecessor is killed. Posing as street thugs, they infiltrate their way into a gang of counterfeiters, living the dangerous life of the gangster to the hilt while living in constant danger of death if their covers are blown. Mann and Alton mix documentary-style realism with stark sets lit in jagged, claustrophobic shadows and abstract haziness, creating an eerie emptiness.
Raw Deal reunites Mann, Alton, and O'Keefe in a haunting revenge noir about an escaped criminal, his loyal girlfriend (Claire Trevor), and a lovely legal aide (Marsha Hunt) he drags along as a hostage. Trevor's cold, deliberate narration and the moody, fog-bound visuals stand in counterpoint to the brutal explosions of violence (the most memorable belonging to sadistic gangster Raymond Burr, who tosses a tureen of flaming cherries jubilee on a clumsy party girl in a scene that anticipates The Big Heat), adding a tough edge to the doomed romanticism.
Mann never took screen credit for He Walked by Night, though he directed a good portion of the documentary-influenced thriller. Richard Basehart stars as an electronics genius who turns to theft and murder, while tough-guy cop Scott Brady tracks him down with the resources of the police department, notably a wisecracking forensics expert played by Jack Webb. The stiff, stentorian narration and procedural detail of this film were big influences on Webb when he developed Dragnet.
These films are all firmly in the B tradition: stilted, often hackneyed dialogue, abstract sets, and more than a few lesser performances can be found throughout, but Mann's spare style and hard edge and Alton's stunning visuals lift the films out of the poverty-row ghetto and into film noir history. --Sean Axmaker
So, the sound and the images of HE WALKED BY NIGHT are simply awful. There's a slight improvement for RAW DEAL and only T-MEN could be qualified as visible for the average DVD addict.
But, as always, if the movie is interesting, I try to forget the imperfections and concentrate myself on the movie. And, believe me, these three are good movies. I personally have a little preference for RAW DEAL with its typical Film Noir mood : a hero, played by Dennis O'Keefe, two girls - the blonde and the brunette - and a sadistic villain impersonated by Raymond Burr.
HE WALKED BY NIGHT and T-MEN are typical examples of the semi-documentary style used in a lot film noir of the 1945-1950 period. They present a case which, if you want to believe the narrator, was a real story. Well, well, well. Naturally, it's one of the numerous clichés used by Hollywood in order to nail the viewer.
Director Anthony Mann is known for his westerns of the 50's starring James Stewart ; he deserves also to be recognized as a Master of the Film Noir genre.
No menu... and hardly a scene access.
A DVD for your library.
I was a little disappoined with The Big Broadcast of 1938. The only really funny bits in the film are the W.C. Fields scenes. Ben Blue comes off as annoying in this film and Hope just doesn't seem to have a chance to show off his talents. There are some musical numbers that seem to make things drag. Overall, it looks like a very hastily put-together mish-mash of unrelated scenes.
The W.C. Fields golf scene is one of the funniest I've ever seen.
"Caught in the Draft" co-stars Hope leading lady Dorothy Lamour, Eddie Bracken, and the inimitable Clarence Kolb. A bit weak overall, the comedy is nevertheless a fun farce as a weak-kneed movie star (Hope) finds himself drafted into the Army when all he really wanted was to con his new girlfriend into marriage so he can avoid the draft. To complicate matters, his girl is the Colonel's daughter, and the Colonel finds Hope to be a poor soldier and an even worse choice for his daughter's hand!
There are at least two really fun bits; one is a wild tank ride, and the other is when Hope has to go on guard duty without his uniform, and has to avoid being discoverd by Col. Fairbanks (Kolb).
As Lamour commented in her autobiography ("My Side of the Road"), it was strange to see Hope play a draft-dodger and goldbrick when compared to his real-life efforts to bring a little humor into the lives of our troops stationed overseas.
The real prize on this disc is "Give Me a Sailor", a Hope film from 1938. Betty Grable, Jack Whiting, and Martha Raye co-star in this naval farce. Brothers (Bob and Jack), are in love with the same gal (Betty). Meanwhile, Betty's sister (Martha) is in love with Jack. Bob and Martha scheme to break up the romance between Betty and Jack so that each can win their prospective sweetheart. Naturally, comedic havoc ensues.
This film has more outright laughs than "Caught in the Draft", and seems to be more tightly directed. I also really liked Martha Raye's efforts here, and most of the real laughs come from her misadventures. I especially liked her character's poignant reaction when she learns that Jack asked her to the big dance just so he can ditch her and spend time with Betty.
The pre-war attitudes on display in both films are kind of strange knowing what was about to happen a only short time after they were released. The Army depicted in "Caught in the Draft" and the Navy depicted in "Give Me a Sailor" are both laden with WWI-level uniforms, customs, and equipment, making the films an odd sort of historical artifact.
That being said, the disc is a fun time for fans of Hope, Grable, Raye and Lamour. Getting two movies for the price of one is also a good deal, and there are also production notes, cast profiles, and the trailer for each film on the disc.
I remember this film from way back, with the exciting climax concerning "a red and yeller shawl" and the Giant Squid, but most of everything else was a blur for me, until I saw it again last week. I liked almost everything in it, but man, do I have one big ol' criticism!
The Good Stuff first:
1. One big surprise were the astounding technicolor marine shots of Key West, where most of the action takes place.
2. Susan Hayward and Robert Preston are supporting cast playing forbidden lovers--what a joy to watch them as they were almost unknown at the time, seeing how their undeniable star power was evident from the start.
3. Hedda Hopper as Paulette Goddard's aunt, pre hat and pre gossip column--she was pretty good herself!
4. Ray Milland; does anything else need to be said?
5. Tension filled battle with the Giant Squid: who will survive?
and best of all, young John Wayne as an earnest young sea captain in love and in trouble because his ship sank while he had been knocked unconscious by a devious first mate. Sis in law had to confess that she'd never known he was so handsome without his 10 gallon cowboy hat. He plays a man who is in over his head dealing with treacherous Raymond Massey, and therefore does something quite un-White Hat. Could only have happened early in his career.
So what's my beef? Well, it's a pretty serious flaw: basically, the heroine stinks! Paulette Goddard's character is just not a good woman. At one point, Raymond Massey accuses her of playing Milland and Wayne off against each other, and frankly, it's the truth. At the end of the movie, there are no recriminations against her, and there really should be. I don't want to disclose too much of the plot to illustrate why I think that, but if you'll see it, you'll be aghast that she gets off scot-free. Meanwhile, Goddard's a beautiful woman; maybe that's all you're supposed to be thinking about during the movie.
So, overall, with the exception of my major problem with the Paulette Goddard character, I thorougly enjoyed "Reap the Wild Wind", and I'm sure you would too!
The supporting cast, including a young Robert Preston, provide solid backing to the leads, which is always nice. The sets and costumes are beautiful. The pace is brisk, and I never got bored.
The film won a special effects Oscar, and I'm sure the climactic underwater sequence thrilled original viewers -- but I found the rubber giant squid more silly-looking than scary, and its use as a plot device unsatisfying.