Author Topic: Antares' Short Summations  (Read 137244 times)

Offline Antares

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #405 on: November 24, 2014, 02:38:33 AM »
Dial 1119 (1950) 65/100 - Before I started the film, I watched the trailer and it looked like a pretty good premise for a noir. But it's let down by some bad acting and some melodramatic dialog that really doesn't sound right when spoken by certain characters. Marshall Thompson, in the beginning of the film, has a quiet menace to him. But as the story progresses, and he kills someone in the bar, he suddenly looks as though he's a little kid who has had a bit too much sugar and has ants in his pants. He bounces all over the screen looking like someone who just needs a good spanking. Andrea King, who plays a young woman who is about to go away on a trip with a married man, does some of the worst acting I've ever seen in a film. The only bright spots in the cast are William Conrad and Virginia Field, who play a bartender and a barfly floozy. Had MGM found a more seasoned actor for the main role, and maybe a much more talented director who could bring a bit more focus on the part of the cast, then this might have turned out to be a small classic. It's not a bad film, just one that could have been crafted better.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

Offline Antares

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #406 on: November 24, 2014, 06:47:32 PM »
Deadline at Dawn (1946) 68/100 - Agatha Christie meets Raymond Chandler. For the first 45 minutes or so of this film, I watched in stunned silence as I couldn't believe what was going on in the screenplay. this has to be one of the strangest stories I've ever seen put on celluloid. Unreal coincidences and contrivances come at you like a punch drunk prizefighter's last gasps of energy. But then, after the introduction of the murder victim's brother, the film starts to take off. His dialog has some of the best lines I've ever heard in a noir. Little one line gems like... If she cut off her head, she'd be very pretty., People with wax heads should keep out of the sun., and probably the best line in the whole film... She was no lullaby but she had the brains like a man. It's pearls like these that keep this movie fun and help you to get by the ridiculous premise of the story. It also helps that Susan Hayward and Paul Lukas are excellent in their roles. The only weak spot in the cast is Bill Williams as the naive sailor who starts the ball rolling when he blacks out in the murder victim's apartment. He lays on the Golly gee, Oh shucks stuff pretty thick. A mild recommendation from me.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

Offline Antares

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #407 on: November 29, 2014, 03:19:10 AM »
Cornered (1945) 84/100 - This turned out to be the hidden jewel in the Film Noir Classic Collection: Volume Five. After watching the other seven films in the set, I was kind of glad that I hadn't plunked down the money for the collection, with The Phenix City Story being the only true classic of the seven. But now, I have to rethink the possibility of purchasing it, because this was one well crafted suspense/thriller from RKO Pictures and Edward Dmytryk. Lots of twists and turns and of course, multiple double crosses happening every few moments in the story. Dick Powell, who I thought looked kind of lost in Murder, My Sweet, is spot on this time as the Canadian war veteran, obviously suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, topped with a healthy dollop of revenge, who is looking for the Vichy scum who had his French resistance wife murdered during the war. The action and the story move at breakneck speed to a very suspenseful and satisfactory conclusion. I also have to give credit to Walter Slezak, who plays the slimy Argentinian tour guide, with such a delicious amount of sleaze and loathsomeness. If I could make one change to the film, it would have been to give Nina Vale a bigger and juicier part in the story. She reminded me a lot of a younger Bette Davis, and I could definitely see traits of the greater star, in what little screen time Vale has in the picture. For my money, which I'm now probably going to spend for the boxset, this film should be better known and remembered.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

Offline Antares

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #408 on: November 29, 2014, 05:52:07 AM »
House of Strangers (1949) 82/100 - It's truly sad that modern day film lovers only know Richard Conte as Don Barzini in The Godfather, because in his younger days, he had real screen presence and acting chops. He's the kind of actor George Raft would never become. I have yet to see him play a role in a film where he doesn't hold the viewer's attention whenever he's onscreen. But then, there's Susan Hayward, who gives him a run for his money with her performance. Their dialog together is biting, bantering, seductive and noirishly playful. There's a scene early in the film, where Hayward and Conte are sitting in an Italian bar, listening to a piano player and Hayward's character is in the process of ending their affair and she just radiates on the screen, her lines of dialog, cutting like a knife in Conte's heart. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. If this film doesn't make you fall in love with her, then I don't think any other would. Edward G. Robinson does what Robinson always did best, he disappears into his character, making him completely believable. Sure, some may say that his portrayal might be a bit stereotypical and somewhat of a caricature. But when you take into context, the fact that his character also speaks Italian throughout the film, these assessments don't hold water. If he just spoke the broken English, then yeah, he'd look like an over the top buffoon. The mixing of both languages is pivotal to making his character convincing. He's Old World and old school and I've known a few modern day, elderly Italian men who also spoke that way. Hell, he must have done something right, because he took home the Prix d'interprétation masculine at the Cannes Film Festival that year.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #409 on: December 01, 2014, 01:55:05 AM »
Obsession (1949) 85/100 - What a delightful little gem of British film noir. And to think, we owe it all to some red-baiting politicians in Washington D.C. If Edward Dmytryk hadn't been blacklisted by HUAC in 1947, this film probably would not have seen the light of day. There's a macabre sense of whimsy involved in the screenplay which finds a psychiatrist, played wonderfully by Robert Newton, plotting the perfect murder of his wife's lover. At first, I thought the setup had the potential for falling apart at the seams. But as the film progresses, you can see that this murder plot could work. That is, until the arrival of Superintendent Finsbury of Scotland Yard, played vexatiously by Naunton Wayne. Finsbury's character has to be the seed sewn for the future American detective Columbo. He has the long coat, the annoying way of appearing endlessly with what appear to be little trifles and the uncanny ability to get his target to trip himself up. This is a highly enjoyable film that really needs to put out on DVD.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #410 on: December 01, 2014, 03:47:27 AM »
The Turning Point (1952) 74/100 - Solid and entertaining popcorn crime film. It's all been done before, but it moves pretty quickly and never really lets you down. The direction is rather lackluster and there was some really bad editing done. Holden plays the wisecracking type again, almost a resurrection, so to speak, of Joe Gillis. Alexis Smith is pretty bland and lifeless, and Edmond O'Brien doesn't really have much to do with his part in the trio of main characters. I actually had more fun with this when I started to recognize a few future television stars in minor, but colorful roles. Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family)as a cheap, floozy gun moll and Russell Johnson (Gilligan's Island), as a gangster hitman.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #411 on: December 01, 2014, 05:31:20 AM »
Plunder Road (1957) 85/100 - Why aren't films as good as this one on DVD, instead of the crap they use to fill out Film Noir and Crime film boxsets? It's economical in dialog, and each character is 100% believable, no clichéd traits. You can actually see this kind of caper being planned and carried out. The story never lags and leads to a very satisfactory ending. A thoroughly enjoyable way to spend your time if you are into good heist films.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #412 on: December 02, 2014, 09:33:53 PM »
THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Scottsboro: An American Tragedy (2000) 78/100 - Our nation was forged upon a dream that all men are created equal, but for the breadth of our existence, our history has been consumed by the nightmarish flames of inequality, intolerance and racial bigotry. In 1931, on a train bound for Mississippi, a few white, wild boys of the road, tried to exercise what they thought was their God given right to bully a group of young colored boys. What ensued was a fight, upon which the colored boys vanquished their oppressors, and tossed them from the train. Incensed at their treatment, the white boys sought out the local sheriff and told of being attacked by the colored boys. A message was sent ahead to Paint Rock, Alabama and that local sheriff formed a posse to meet the train. When the train was stopped, two young white girls got off one of the rail cars and proceeded to tell the sheriff that they had both been raped by a group of colored boys. And like a runaway train with no breakman, one of this country's greatest miscarriages of justice was set in motion. Nine men, all colored and ranging in age from 13 - 33 years old were arrested and charged with rape. They barely survived being lynched that day and the National Guard was called out to protect them from mob violence. Their trial was mired in Jim Crow justice, a perjured victim and a recanting of the original charge by the other victim. Yet, throughout multiple trials, which repeatedly found its way up the judicial food chain, all the way up to the Supreme Court, these defendants were repeatedly found guilty of the charges.

The documentary itself, relates the events and incidences that occurred during the years this fiasco took place. It never really delves too deep into the motivations of the main victim's reasoning for creating the lie. It only scratches the surface of the incident and is best served as an introduction to the story for those who have never heard of it.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #413 on: December 03, 2014, 05:47:58 PM »
THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Nuremberg Trials (2006) 77/100 - First off, you really can't do a comprehensive documentary on the Nazi war crime trials in just a little over 55 minutes. Secondly, when you focus close to 40 minutes of that time dealing with only one of the accused, Hermann Goering, your definitely shortchanging your audience. The first Nuremberg trial was a fascinating study in contradictions, hypocrisy and charismatic connivance. Looking beyond Goering, you have the performance by Albert Speer, the only Nazi to admit his guilt. His willingness to admit his wrongdoing and his charming demeanor, fooled not only the prosecution team, but the trial judges too, and he was only given a 20 year sentence. The hypocrisy of this sentence lies in the fact that Speer had been Fritz Sauckel's superior, yet Sauckel would pay the ultimate price. Speer was also lucky because a few months after his trial, documents would surface which painted a much darker picture of his involvement in what was termed crimes against humanity. Rudolf Hess, the Deputy Führer below Hitler, was given a life sentence, although his aborted "peace" mission to Scotland ended in his capture and imprisonment in 1941. His capture took place months before the Final Solution had been finalized at the Wannsee Conference in 1942. He may not have been charged with crimes against humanity, but to receive a stiffer sentence than Speer, who ordered the working to death of Jews, Poles and Russian prisoners in his armaments factories, was ludicrous. He would later become a political pawn of the Russians during the Cold War as his imprisonment in Spandau Prison, gave the Russians a slight toe hold in West Berlin, where Spandau was located.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #414 on: December 03, 2014, 08:37:22 PM »
THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Mary Pickford (2005) 84/100 - This is kind of an odd duck to be a part of PBS'S history franchise. It's really better suited to another of their great television programs, American Masters. I guess because more time is spent on her personal history and less on the films she made, this probably was the better suited distribution showcase. That being said, this is a wonderful film about a woman, alongside Charlie Chaplin, who helped to put Hollywood on the world map. She started out in destitution, as a child, performing on stage in various traveling touring companies. But within just 10 years, she became the highest paid woman in America. Her years on the road, during her stage years, had forged in her, a keen eye for business and a sense of what the public wanted. After signing with Adolph Zukor's Famous Players, she would rise to become the film industry's first true mega-star. Along the way, she'd meet her prince charming and help to form the first truly successful independent film studio, United Artists. The documentary covers all of her life, warts and all, but really could have benefited from showing a lot more of her onscreen roles. You get to see her most famous characters, but little mention is given to her post-WWI films, and that's a disappointment for me. More cinéastes need to learn about this firebrand female who pioneered much of what was to follow in the succeeding decades after her fall from stardom.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #415 on: December 03, 2014, 10:45:35 PM »
THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Wright Stuff (1996) 90/100 - When I was 8 years old, I sat in front of our television set on an August evening and watched as Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon. My father said to me, "Remember this moment, because you can tell your grandchildren that you witnessed the greatest achievement in mankind's history." As the years passed by, and my knowledge of world history was gathered by my inquisitive mind, I came to dispute his proclamation, because without the Wright Brothers, Armstrong's "one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" might have had to wait for another century or so. It was a steady progression from the first moments at Kitty Hawk, through two World Wars and finally, a paranoid Cold War that increased the technological advances needed to perform the Herculean task of getting to the moon. Apollo 11 was made in part, by the hard work of hundreds upon hundreds of people working together to achieve a common goal. The spectacle of the first powered man flight came about through the determination, will and skills of two quite anonymous bicycle shop owners from Dayton, Ohio. They were self taught engineers, seeking a solution to a mystery that had baffled not only the leading scientists of the day, but many prominent inventors, dating back to Da Vinci. The documentary shows how through deduction and a bit of luck, the two brothers overcame the problems that had eluded all others. But such was their distrust of others, that they almost lost their claim to being the first, by refusing to show their flying machine. If you only now about the Wright Brothers from snippets from high school history class, then this episode is a great place to start. It's economical in its duration, but engrossing in its execution.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #416 on: December 04, 2014, 12:31:09 AM »
THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Massie Affair (2005) 86/100 - The year 1931 will never go down in the annuls of American history as a hallmark of harmony amongst the races of this country. Instead, it will be remembered as a benchmark for bigotry and injustice. Earlier in the year, the infamous Scottsboro Boys incident took place in Alabama, as nine innocent black men were accused of raping two white women. In a state known for being the one of the most intolerant of equal rights for blacks in the deep south, this was and could be expected. Jim Crow laws had been on the books for decades and most of the population was still fighting the Civil War. The Massie Affair would take place thousands of miles away, in an island paradise, where racial tensions were every bit as high as in the "Old South". In September of that year, Thalia Massie, a transplanted member of an east coast socialite family, was in Hawaii with her husband, who happened to be an officer in the U.S. Navy. They were on the brink of divorce, but were trying to work things out. Thalia, being the socialite spawn that she was, always looked down upon the Navy and felt herself above its members. She and her husband attended a party on the 12th, a party in which Thalia was not happy to be attending. Some time during the night, she left her husband at the party and decided to take a walk. According to her statement to police, she was accosted by a group of men who took her to a deserted section of road and beaten and raped. She could not identify her attackers or tell the police if they had been white or Hawaiian. What transpired after this preliminary investigation would set forth in motion, a series of events that would make Scottsboro look like a minor traffic violation. In the months that followed, there would an acquittal, revenge murder and finally, a once admired lawyer would sully his reputation by defending those who perpetrated the murder of one of the original defendants. This is a story that should never be allowed to be forgotten.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #417 on: December 04, 2014, 11:21:30 PM »
THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: John Brown's Holy War (2000) 85/100 - One has to wonder what would have transpired during the remainder of 19th century America, if John Brown had never been born. Would there have been a Civil War? Would more western states become slave states? Would the southern states have seceded at all and if they did, would they have been as successful in battle as they were in the first two years of the war? After John Brown's failed attempt at arming the slaves, the seeds of the Confederate Army were sewn in local southern militias, as southerners feared a slave rebellion. Had secession and Fort Sumter happened without Harper's Ferry, then maybe the 75,000 volunteers that Lincoln called for would have been enough to quash the southern revolutionaries, thus negating the deaths of over 600,000 soldiers and civilians. It's a fascinating hypothesis, because Brown was the lightning rod of the Civil War. His raid on the armory at Harper's Ferry was destined to fail and he knew it. In some ways, after watching this documentary, you get a sense that he did everything he could to make it fail, thus assuring his execution in the hangman's noose and eternal martyrdom.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #418 on: December 05, 2014, 09:35:32 PM »
THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Edison's Miracle of Light (1995) 65/100 - Kind of a threadbare offering from PBS, with not much light being shed on the subject (pun intended). In the early moments, it focuses on what made Edison such an amazing character, with his bold predictions of his impending successes. But after the light bulb is invented and the subsequent power stations are built, the story becomes one of stubbornness and greed, which never paints a positive picture of anyone. I wish it had focused some of its time on his invention of the movie camera, an invention made possible by the invention of the light bulb.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #419 on: December 05, 2014, 10:16:09 PM »
Magnificent Obsession (1954) 65/100 - This film had three things working against my enjoying it for more than just a curiosity. This is my first film Douglas Sirk, a director whose particular skills were in the realm of Technicolor. So I was a bit disappointed by the fact that after the first half hour of the film, he starts to use a more muted palette, with most of the cinematography dwelling more on shadow. He proves that he also can master the lighting techniques needed for highlighting faces in light and shadow, but at the cost of Technicolor splendor. It doesn't help that the story is beyond hokey, with elements bordering on melodramatic, romantic fantasy. Which brings me to my second problem with the film, Rock Hudson. You remember that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine is dating Tony, the guy who always says Step off. George has a man crush on him and Jerry tells Elaine that Tony is a mimbo, Seinfeldese for male bimbo. Whenever I watch Hudson, I'm reminded of this, because he was probably the first actor in Hollywood who could carry this sobriquet, unless you mention Robert Taylor. Both of these actors were movie stars, not thespians. They are there as eye candy for the ladies and tend to be outclassed by the cast around them. Hudson is beyond unbelievable and somewhat cartoonish in his delivery of his character's lines and emotions. Finally, my third reason for yawning at this movie and why I consider it romantic fantasy, is Jane Wyman. Never for a moment, could I believe that someone with such a shallow personality like Bob Merrick, would fall head over heels in love with her, especially when Barbara Rush is in the same room.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is
« Last Edit: December 05, 2014, 10:19:38 PM by Antares »