Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Juno and the Paycock (1930)


Wardour Films
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
My rating: 2 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(DVD, Mill Creek)

An unemployed, alcoholic boat captain suddenly inherits a fortune from a long lost relative. He and his wife spend it on luxuries, only to find out that they won't get the money after all. Creditors show up en masse and rumors swirl. Their daughter is pregnant by the will's executor, who disappears when he realizes the mistake which he made. Her former boyfriend at first claims to still love her, until he finds out her condition. The family is torn apart by the scandal. Another overly melodramatic early Hitchcock offering, with some religious overtones towards the end.

Beauty and the Beast (1962)


United Artists
Directed by Edward L. Cahn
My rating: 2 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(YouTube)

A young Italian duke and heir to the throne is carries the curse of an old sorcerer: he turns into a harmless werewolf every night. His newly arrived fiance is understandably upset, but it is her unconditional love which will free him from the curse. A rival prince discovers his secret and tries to use it to steal the throne. Predictable period drama with just a sprinkling of horror.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Bohemian Girl (1936)


MGM
Directed by James W. Horne and Charley Rogers
My rating: 2.5 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(YouTube)

Laurel and Hardy are gypsies who wander an old Austrian city in search of people to tell fortunes to, and pickpocket. Ollie is married to a domineering woman who openly cheats on him. Her lover is sentenced to a public lashing, so she steals the young daughter of the count who ordered it. She tells Ollie it is his, and after she leaves him, he and Stan raise her. As a teenager, she wanders into her real father's castle and is sent to prison. Stan and Ollie try to rescue her, but get captured themselves and sent to the torture dungeon, with strange results. Odd adventure for the comedy duo, an uneasy mix of songs, comedy and scares. Best scene is Stan getting drunk on a barrel of wine.

Blackmail (1929)


Wardour Films
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
My rating: 2.5 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(DVD, Mill Creek)

Pretty Anny Ondra has a fight with her boyfriend in a restaurant and leaves with another man. She accepts his invitation to visit his loft, and ends up killing him in self defense. Her boyfriend happens to be one of the investigating detectives, and he quickly figures out that she did it. A petty thief who happened to be nearby also figures it out, and proceeds to blackmail them. Hitchcock's first sound film, and England's, is the first to really have that Hitchcock touch. We get a long chase scene that ends up on a rooftop, a murderess racked with guilt and many unexpected plot twists. However, some of the scenes go on far too long, particularly early in the film, as Hitchcock seems enamored by the novelty of sound. Still, it's a big step forward from his silent films.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Half Shot at Sunrise (1930)


Radio Pictures
Directed by Paul Sloane
My rating: 2 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(YouTube)

Comedy team Wheeler and Woolsey are American GIs in Paris during WWI. They go AWOL so that they can pursue local pretty ladies. Woolsey unknowingly falls in love with a general's daughter, a flirty Dorothy Lee, while Wheeler falls for the general's lover. The jokes never stop in this fast paced, slightly vulgar, vehicle for the two comedians, who are at the top of their game. Includes a couple of breaks for songs and dancing, including a memorable one involving Wheeler in a fountain.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Test (1935)


Reliable Pictures
Directed by B.B. Ray
My rating: 1.5 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(YouTube)

Friendly fur trapper Grant Withers spars with a band of thieves lead by Frenchman Monte Blue as Pepite La Joie, who has a blast with his characterization. Luckily for Withers, he has Rin Tin Tin, Jr, to help him out. Grace Ford is the romantic interest. California's Big Bear Lake is the backdrop.

The Eagle's Brood (1935)


Paramount Pictures
Directed by Howard Bretherton
My rating: 1.5 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(YouTube)

A Mexican outlaw saves sheriff Hoppy from quicksand, who agrees to help find his grandson in exchange for not arresting him. The boy's parents were killed in a stage robbery by bandits who run the "El Infierno" saloon near a place called "Hell's Center".  He is taken in by the friendly dance hall girl who hides him in her room, but she is murdered when the bandits find out. He hides out in the canyon until Hoppy finds him. Unusually downbeat, and violent, second entry in the long running Hopalong Cassidy series, with the characters not yet full developed. Even Gabby Hayes has yet to grow out his beard.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Manxman (1929)


Wardour Films
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
My rating: 2.5 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(DVD, Lionsgate)

Two childhood friends, a poor fisherman and an aspiring lawyer, fall in love with the same girl: the bartender at the local pub. She accepts a marriage proposal from the handsome fisherman, but her father refuses to consent. He travels to South Africa to make money in the mines, but while away his fiance falls in love with the lawyer. They receive a letter that he was killed in an accident, apparently giving them freedom to carry on, but he turns up alive a few months later. She won't admit to the affair and marries the fisherman, never revealing that she is pregnant by the other man! Later, her attempted suicide lands her in court, presided over by her lover on his first day as an important judge. Overblown melodrama aside, this is still one of the better Hitchcock silent films, with beautiful location shooting and fine acting.

Rape (1969)


Directed by John Lennon and Yoko Ono
My rating: BOMB
IMDb
(YouTube)

A camera crew hassles a young woman visiting a cemetery. They follow her into the nearby streets and eventually her apartment, ignoring her pleas to leave her alone. A technically inept film with no plot, no acting and little to recommend other than the concept, which can be grasped from the title alone. Biggest joke: music credit to John and Yoko, however there is no music.

Redes (1936)


Directed by Emilio Gómez Muriel and Fred Zinnemann
My rating: 2.5 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(YouTube)

Mexican fisherman, tired of being taken advantage of by the local mogul who pays them pennies a day for their labor, try to organize a union. One of their own, a quiet family man, leads them, but when he tries to implement a strike many do not participate. The wealthy businessman has him shot and killed, leading to more fighting. Cardboard acting by locals brings this down a notch, but some wonderful shots of a Mexican fishing village at work by cinematographer Paul Strand.