Hey, Did I Tell You About That MOVIE I Saw Recently?...
What's this page all about?

Here's a link to the Introduction and our initial 178 cinematic capsule comments!

Now, on to our current viewing and reviewing..

"Bring 'Em Back A Wife" (1933, 20 min) D: Del Lord. Ben Blue and Billy Gilbert (The Taxi Boys), James C. Morton, Geneva Mitchell. Wildly gesticulating Blue has to pretend to be Gilbert's wife to fool their boss. Silly, and not all that funny. One of a series called "The Taxi Boys".

"Mr. Bride" (1932, 19 min) D: James Parrot. Charley Chase, Dell Henderson, Muriel Evans. Chase's boss decides to practice his upcoming honeymoon by taking Charley along on a cruise, calling his "Mrs. Henderson" in front of all, without explanation. Embarrassing for Chase, embarrassing for viewer. Not all that funny, just peculiar.

"Frances" (1982, 140 min) D: Graeme Clifford. Jessica Lange, Sam Shepard, Kim Stanley, Lane Smith, Jeffrey DeMunn, Gerald O'Louglin, John Randolph, Kevin Costner (bit part I didn't catch). I enjoyed this bio-pic of 30s/40s era actress Frances Farmer, primarily due to Jessica Lange's stunning performance. I would've liked it even better if, after vieweing it, I hadn't learned (via the internet) that a.) the Sam Shepard character (Farmer's recurring love) interest didn't actually exist, and b.)there's no proof that the mentally troubled star actually had a lobotomy, presented as the emotional climax of the film!! But hey, facts be damned, it made for a memorable ending...

"The Cheat" (1915, 59 min) D: Cecil B. DeMille. Fannie Ward, Sessue Hayakawa, Jack Dean. Rich
wife Fannie gambles $10, 000 charity money she's entrusted with on stock market--and loses. Society friend Hayakawa lends her money to cover the loss--for a price (and it ain't money!...). Hubby suddenly comes into big bucks, so she tries to pay off debt with a check, but Sessue ain't buying--a shot rings out, and, oh my!! Early silent era overacting from Ward and husband Dean, nicely modulated performance from Hayakawa. Apparently a cinematic milestone, still interesting today (but who loses $10, 000 at bridge back in 1915? That's the story she feeds Dean, and he buys it without skipping a beat...)

"The Son-Daughter" (1932, 79 min) D: Clarence Brown. Helen Hayes, Ramon Novarro, Lewis Stone, Warner Oland, Ralph Morgan, H.B. Warner, Edwin Maxwell. Caucasian actors all play Chinese characters in this effective bit of melodrama concerning San Francisco based loyalists versus revolutionaries. Slow start, strong, decidely pre-code finish

"The Trail of 98" (1928, 87 min) D: Clarence Brown. Dolores del Rio, Ralph Forbes, Karl Dane, Harry Carey, Tully Marshall. Spectacular silent film about the rush to reach Klondike gold back in 1898. Harrowing trip, made by thousands, is vividly re-enacted using actual locations. 4 (of 8) stuntmen lost their lives filming brief rapids segment, 2 bodies never recovered. Avalanche scene is even more unforgettable (if less fatal), as if finale featuring a fight that ends with a man on fire, running thoughout a hotel, eventually burning the whole street to the ground!! Lovely young Dolores del Rio would hang around long enough to play Elvis's mother in "Flaming Star". Well worth seeing if only to get an idea of what folks once had to endure in chasing an elusive dream.

"Navy Blues" (1929, 75 min) D: Clarence Brown. William Haines, Anita Page, Karl Dane. William Haines is a story unto himself--a huge silent star, he held onto his audience when talkies arrived (one poll had him the top moneymaker of 1930), but after refusing a bogus marraige after a homosexual scandal in 1933, the proudly gay actor was fired by the big studios, made a few more films, but was out of showbiz by 1935, instead embarking on a successful interior design career, founding a firm that exists to this day! Another silent star, Karl Dane's thick accent doomed his sound days. He was soon selling hot dogs at the studio gates to make money, and, in 1934, ended it all with a bullet. Anita Page, a beautiful and popular actress, would be gone by mid-decade as well, primarliy due to her refusal to put up with casting couch shenanigens (though she lived a long and fruitful life thereafter). Fascinating to see these three doomed stars together. This is my second sound-era Haines flick and he is an absolute hoot--non-stop obnoxious bad boy behavior, sounding like a kind of a less extreme Paul Lynde. He has to be endured to be believed. Don't pass up the opportunity if you get the chance--he's truly one of a kind.

"Dr. Blood's Coffin" (1961, 92 min) D: Sidney J. Furie. Kieron Moore, Hazel Court, Ian Hunter. Slow moving British horror movie that's more mystery than shock-fest.

"Perversion For Profit" (1965, 29 min) LA based newsman George Putnam (the inspiration for MTM's Ted Baxter) rants against obscene mags on the newstands (while showing many examples, modestly censored), indulges in some dramatic readings from sleazy paperbacks, and tries to rally the nation alongside him in this diatribe financed by future felon Charles Keating. Amusing or aggravating, depending on your mood.

"Andy Hardy's Blonde Trouble" (1945, 107 min) D: George B. Seitz. Mickey Rooney, Lewis Stone, Fay Holden, Sara Haden, Herbet Marshall, Bonitta Granville, Jean Porter, Keye Luke, Lyn and Lee Wilde, Frank Faylen. In film 14 (of 16), Andy's off to college, Keye Luke's the new family doctor, and a pair of blonde twins are pretending to be the same girl! Frosh--wear your beanie!! Cornball fun.

"Blonde Inspiration" (1941, 72 min) D: Busby Berkeley. John Shelton, Virginia Grey, Albert Dekker, Charles Butterworth, Donald Meek, Reginald Owen, Byron Foulger. Idealistic writer winds up churning out western pulp material for two fly-by-night publishers. Mildly amusing B pic; no noticable Berkeley touches. Watch for scene in actual pulp printing plant.

"Dodsworth" (1936, 101 min) D: William Wyler. Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton, Mary Astor, Paul Lukas, David Niven, Maria Ouspenskaya (film debut, supporting Oscar nom), Gregory Gaye, Spring Bryington, John Payne (film debut). SUPERB film based on Sinclair Lewis novel; tremendous performances by Huston, Chatterton, and Astor. Middle aged industrialist retires, goes abroad with younger wife (who's looking to cultivate some personal culture). What happens to their marraige is surprising--but then again, maybe not. HIGHLY recommended.

"These Wilder Years" (1956, 91 min) D: Roy Rowland. James Cagney, Barbara Stanwyck, Walter Pidgeon, Edward Andrews, Betty Lou Keim, Dean Jones, Herb Vigran, Sid Tomack. Rich industrialist Cagney wants to reclaim his born out of wedlock son 20 years after the fact; Stanwyck plays the adoption agency lady who stops him. Odd role for Cagney; Stanwyck plays second-fiddle quietly.

"Vice Squad" (1953, 87 min) D: Arnold Laven. Eward G. Robinson, Paulette Godard, Porter Hall, Lee Van Cleef, Edward Binns, Adam Williams, Percy Helton. A day in the life of a police captain (Robinson). Nice B picture.

"Dressed To Kill" (1946, 76 min) D: Roy Wilson Neil. Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Ian Wolfe, Mary Gordon, Patricai Morison, Holmes Hebert, Harry Cording. Last of the Rathbone/Homes is a pretty decent swan song.

"Babbitt" (1934, 74 min) D: William Keighley. Guy Kibbee, Aline MacMahon, Claire Dodd, Minor Watson, Alan Hale. Truncated adaptation--with new, happy ending--of Sinclair Lewis novel. Nice to see perpetual supporting actor Kibbee in lead as title character.

"Clash By Night" (1951/52, 105 min) D: Fritz Lang. (Clifford Odets play) Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Ryan, Paul Douglas, Marilyn Monroe, J. Carrol Naish, Keith Andes. Good drama. As the whining uncle of Douglas, Naish comes across like a wisecracking Norman Lear sitcom character--but here, he's NOT supposed to be funny!

"Terror By Night" (1945, 60 min) D: Roy Wilson Neil. Basil rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Dennis hoey, Alan Mowbray, Skelton Kraggs, Renee Godfrey. Taking place entirely on a train, Holmes is hired to guard a famous jewel. After examining it, he leaves the compartment of the owner and her son, the one who hired him. Minutes later the gem is gone and the son is dead!! Nice job, Sherlock! But no one seems all that concerned, and the jewel at least is eventually recovered (though the genius who decided to hire him remained dead...). Not one of the better ones...

"Shutter Island" (2009, 138 min) D: Martin Scorcese. Leonardo DeCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max Van Sydow, Michelle Williams, Jackie Earle Haley, Patricia Clarkson. Dazzling and gripping mystery, with twist ending. Great movie!!

"Pursuit To Algiers" (1945, 65 min) D: Roy Wilson Neil. Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Marjorie Riordan, Martin Kosleck. Holmes and Watson on a cruise ship--and the good Doctor SINGS! Nicely, too. not much of a mystery, though...

"Waterloo Bridge" (1940, 108 min) D: Meryvn LeRoy. Vivian Leigh, Robert Taylor, C..Aubrey Smith, Maria Ouspenskaya, Virginia Field, Lucile Watson. Leigh and Taylor each named this WWi era romance as their own personal fave film--I liked it a lot, too (pass the kleenex, please...).

"Sherlock Holmes and The House of Fear" (1945, 69 min) D: Roy William Neil. Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Dennis Hoey, Aubrey Mather, Paul Cavanagh, Holmes Herbert, Harry Cording. Good mystery.

"Bonnie and Clyde" (1967, 112 min) D: Arthur Penn. Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Michael. J. Pollard, Estelle Parsons, Denver Pyle, Dub Taylor, Gene Wilder (film debut). Saw this the first time in the theater back in '67--second viewing holds up well!

"Four Sons" (1928, 100 min) D: John Ford. Margaret Mann, James Hall, Charles Morton, George Meeker, Francis X. Bushman Jr. Excellent silent film about German mother with four sons, three who fight for homeland in WWI, the other for USA.

"Natzy Nuisance" (1943, 43 min) D: Glenn Tyron. Bobby Watson (as Hitler), joe Devlin (as Mussolini), Johnny arthur (as General Suki Yaki), Frank Faylen, Ian Keith, Jean Porter. Hal Roach produced longish short; WWII enemies done in by slapstick propaganda. More fascinating than funny--nice to see Faylen get the lead as the good guy.

"Burnt Offerings" (1976, 116 min) D: Dan Curtis. Karen Black, Oliver Reed, Bette Davis, Burgess Meredith, Eileen Heckart, Dub Taylor, Lee Montgomery, Anthony James as The Chauffer.

"Artists and Models" (1937, 97 min) D: Raoul Walsh. Jack Benny, Ida Lupino, Richard Arlen, Gail Patrick, Judy Canova, Ben Blue, Hedda Hopper, Donald Meek, Harry Hayden. Artists Peter Arno, Russell Patterson, Rube Goldberg (who banters with Benny), musicians Andre Kostelanetz, Connee Boswell, The Canova Family, The Yacht Club Boys. Note: big production number "Public M Melody #1", Vincente Minnelli's first filmed assignment., starred a lightly shaded Martha Raye along with an all-black ensemble (including Louis Armstrong) and seems just plain tacky today, but caused consternation for opposite reasons back in it's day, with critics railing against a sole white woman surrounded by an entirely negro cast. Geez...

"In Cold Blood" (1967, 129 min) D: Richard Brooks. Robert Blake, Scott Wilson, John Forsythe, Paul Stewart, Gerald O'Loughlin, Will Geer, Jeff Corey. Effective B&W adaptation of Truman Capote true crime novel.

"The Hollywood Revue of 1929" (1929, 118 min) D: Charles Reisner. Jack Benny and conrad Nagel (emcees), Laurel&Hardy, Buster Keaton,Charles King, Bessie Love, Anita Page, William Haines, Cliff Edwards, Marion Davies, Joan Crawford, Karl Dane, Marie Dressler, Polly Moran, Ann Dvorak, Norma Shearer, John Gilbert, Lionel barrymore (latter three in color "Romeo and Juliet" sequence). Gus Edwards sings "Lon Chaney Will Get You If You Don't Watch Out", fun production number. Also, film debut of "Singin' In The Rain". A curiosity--silent stars tentatively talk in this static variety show.

"The Big Parade" (1925, 129 min D: King Vidor. John Gilbert, Renee Adoree, Karl Dane, Hobart Bosworth, Tom O'Brien. Epic yet personal look at WWI, very popular in it's day.

"Nanook of the North" (1922, 79 min) D: Robert J. Flaherty. The first documentary, about the life of an Eskimo (though much was staged).

"Yes, My Darling Daughter" (1939, 86 min) D: William Keighley. Priscilla Lane, Jeffrey Lynn, Roland Young, Fay Bainter, May Robson, Ian Hunter. Based on stage comedy about (potential) pre-martial sex and was actually banned in certain areas. Plays way tepid today.

"The Life of Jimmy Dolan" (1932, 88 min) D: Archie Mayo. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Loretta Young, Aline MacMahon, Guy Kibbee, Lyle Talbot, Harold Huber, John Wayne, Mickey Rooney (12 years old and unbilled but with plenty of lines), Allen 'Farina" Hoskins, Anne Shirley, Robert Barrat, George Chandler, Clarence Muse. Nice sentimental boxing pic.

"Haunted Gold" (1932, 58 min) D: Mack V. Wright. John Wayne, Sheila Terry, Blue Washington. B-western nicely crossed with haunted house cliches. Drawback: most racist portrayal of character I've yet seen in an old movie (Wayne sidekick Washington).

"Dogville: The Big Dog House" (1930, 17 min) D: Zion Myers, Jules White. One of nine in a series of animals (mostly dogs) manipulated and dubbed for comedy shorts, here parodying "The Big House". More peculiar than funny.

"This Side of Heaven" (1934, 77 min) D: William K. Howard. Lionel Barrymore, Fay Bainter, Mae Clarke, Tom Brown, Una Merkel, Onslow Stevens, C. Henry Gordon, Edwin Maxwell, Phil Tead, Dickie Moore, Bobby Watson.

"The Face Behind The Mask" (1941, 69 min) D: Robert Flory. Peter Lorre, Evelyn Keyes, Don Beddoe, George F. Stone. Disfigured Lorre turns to crime, falls in love with blind girl Keyes--touching AND creepy film.

"Moon Pilot" (1962, 98 min) D: James Nelson. Tom Tyron, Brian Keith, Edmund O'Brien, Tommy Kirk, Dany Saval, Kent Smith, Bert Remsen, Nancy Kulp, Sally Field (film debut--beatnik in police line-up bit role). Silly Disney NASA based live action comedy. Keith and O'Brien compete to out-bluster one another.

"Valley of the Sun" (1942, 79 min) D: George Marshall. Lucille Ball, James Craig, Cedric Hardwicke, Dean Jagger, Billy Gilbert, Tom Tyler, Harry Hayden. Western with mild comedic overtones.

"The Mouse On The Moon" (1963, 82 min) D: Richard Lester. Margaret Rutherford, Ron Moody, Terry-Thomas, Bernard Cribbins, David Kossoff, June Ritchie. Sequel to "The Mouse That Roared".

"Have Rocket Will Travel" (1959, 76 min) D: David Lowell Rich. The Three Stooges, Jerome Cowan, Anna-Lisa. First feature length Stooges film, firts with Curley Joe DiRita.

"The Mortal Storm" (1940, 100 min) D: Frank Borzage. Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Robert Young, Frank Morgan, Robert Stack (second film), Bonita Granville, Maria Ouspenskaya, Dan Daily (second film), Dick Elliot. Pre-WWII anti-Hitler film set in 1933 Germany.

"The Broadway Melody" (1929, 101 min) D: Harry Beaumont. Charles King, Anita Page, Bessie Love, James Gleason (talkie debut). Won 1929 Best Picture Oscar.

"Destination Moon" (1950, 92 min) D: irving Pichel. John Archer, Warren Anderson, Tom Powers, Dick Wesson, Woody Woodpecker.

"What Price Hollywood?" (1932, 88 min) D: George Cukor. Constance Bennett, Lowell Sherman, Neil Hamilton, George Ratoff, Louise Beavers, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson (film debut), Phil Tead. Plot served as templete for better known "A Star Is Born".

"The Blue Gardenia" (1953, 88 min) There's very little mystery to ponder in this Fritz Lang directed flick--I saw the same plot, handled better, last year on "All My Children"--but it's worth watching for the cast alone. First the premise: top-billed Anne Baxter is a switchboard operator who lives with wise-cracking Ann Sothern and (female) Jeff Donnell, and, after being dumped via the mails by her boyfriend serving in Korea, she intercepts a phone call meant for Ann from sleazy horn-dog artist Raymond Burr. She agrees to have dinner with him at (where else?) The Blue Gardenia, where Nat King Cole is appearing in person, singing his great new hit tune (say it with me...) "The Blue Gardenia". The vulnerable Baxter gets way, way too drunk, and consents to go back to Burr's apartment with him (he fibs, saying other folks will also be in attendance). Eventually, he puts the moves on her, and at first, she smooches the future Perry Mason eagerly. But once she realizes it's NOT her boyfriend she's kissing, she tries to stop big Ray and leave, but he's having none of it. She grabs a poker by the fireplace, swings it at him, breaks a mirror, and passes out. When she wakes up, Burr is dead. Did she do it? She can't recall, but logically assumes that she did. The rest of the flick has her ducking--then surrendering to--the pleas of second-billed newspaper columnist, Richard Conte. Eventually, in what many folks on imdb considered a cheat--and which I, no great shakes in the prediction department--figured out from the get-go: a woman, briefly glimpsed early in the film being hung up on by a blase Burr despite the desperate nature of her call, turns out to've been the REAL culprit, coming in and conking Ray while Baxter was in a drunken stupor. WHY then did I dig this flick? The police captain is played by seventh-billed George Reeves--WITH A MOUSTACHE!! And I spotted at least four other "Adventures of Superman" guest stars in the film, though George only actually interacts with one (Almira Sessions, Miss Bacharach in "Night of Terror"). Plus, in the climactic scene where the true killer confesses her crime from a hospital bed as other cast members stand nearby, the profile of a doctor can be briefly glimpsed, in long-shot, sans dialog--and it's ROBERT SHAYNE, aka Inspector Henderson!! Maybe he was car-pooling with George that day, and pocketed a few bucks for this otherwise nothing role--who knows? But it is kind of amazing seeing the two together outside the Metropolis environs!! Reeves is quite good in what would be his last major role before the cape took over his career--more charming than tough, but fun to watch, even if the facial hair looks just plain wrong!! And one final imdb discovery caught my attention--playing Conte's photographer sidekick is Richard Erdman, who, besides a long, long list of TV appearances, is actually still working at 85 in the recurring bit role of Leonard, the senior citizen student on NBC's "Community"! Not a great story, but Burr and Reeves make it worth a look.

"12 To The Moon" (1960, 75 min) Ken Clark, Tom Conway, Robert Montgomery Jr., Anna-Lisa, Francis X. Bushman
"Seven Days' Leave" (1942, 87 min) Victor Mature, Lucille Ball, Arnold Stang (film debut), Wallace Ford, Harold Peary (as The Great Gildersleeve), Les Brown and his Band of Reknown, Freddy Martin and his Orchestra, Ralph Edwards and the "Truth or Consequences" radio program, Ginny Simms, Peter Lind Hayes, Marcy McGuire
"Captain Salvation" (1927, 87 min) Lars Hanson, Marceline Day, Pauline Starke, Ernest Torrence
"The Brotherhood of Satan" (1971, 92 min) Strother Martin, L. Q. Jones &Alvy (Green Acres) Moore, actors/co-producers
"Incubus" (1965, 74 min) William Shatner; filmed by "Outer Limits" Leslie Stevens' in Esperanto; cursed film--murders, suicides, divorces, destroyed master reels, "Star Trek' all within year of release.
"Stay Away, Joe" (1968, 102 min) Elvis Presley, Burgess Meredith, Joan Blondell, Thomas Gomez, Henry Jones, Katy Jurado, L. Q. Jones, Quentin Dean, Angus Duncan, Dick (Mr. Whipple) Wilson; (worst Elvis movie I've seen yet)
"Duck and Cover" (1950, 9 min)
"Jewel Robbery" (1932, 68 min) William Powell, Kay Francis, Henry Kolker, Ruth Donnelly
"King Kong" (1932, 104 min) Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot, Noble Johnson; seen before
"Meet John Doe" (1941, 122 min) Frank Capra, Gary Cooper, Barbar Stanwyck, Walter Brennan, James Gleason, Edward Arnold, Regis Toomey, Rod La Rocque ("Shadow actor; last movie/also appeared in Stanwyck's first), Sterling Holloway, Irving Bacon, John Hamilton; seen before
"The Kennel Murder Case" (1933, 73 min) William Powell (Philo Vance), Mary Astor, Eugene Pallette, Ralph Morgan, Robert Barret, Henry O'Neil
"Dr. Gillespie's Criminal Case" (1943, 89 min) Lionel Barrymore, Donna Reed, Van Johnson, Keye Luke, Nat Pendelton, Marilyn Maxwell, Henry O'Neil
"Calling Dr. Gillespie" (1942, 84 min) Lionel Barrymore, Donna Reed, Phil Brown, Nat Pendelton, Hillary Brooke, Ava Gardner
"The Runaway Bride" (1930, 69 min) Mary Astor, directed by actor Donald Crisp (not in film)
"The Sin Ship" (1931, 66 min) Mary Astor, Louis Wolheim (star/director/last film), Hugh herbert (actor/writer)
"Smart Woman" (1931, 68 min) Mary Astor, Edward Everett Horton, Robert Ames, John Halliday
"The Stranger" (1946, 95 min) Eward G. Robinson, Loretta Young, Orson Welles (director)
"Andy Hardy Comes Home" (1958, 80 min) Micky Rooney, Joey Forman, Jerry Colanna
"The Courtship of Andy Hardy" (1942, 95 min) Mickey Rooney, Lewis Stone, Donna Reed
"Andy Hardy's Dilemma" (1940, 19 min) Mickey Rooney, Lewis Stone
"Suzy" (1936, 93 min) Jean Harlow, Franchot Tone, Cary Grant, Lewis Stone
"Avatar" (2009, 162 min)
"Hot Money" (1935, 18 min) Thelma Todd, Patsy Kelly
"Three Chumps Ahead" (!934, 19 min) Thelma Todd, Patsy Kelly
"Hell's Angels '69" (1969, 97 min) Tom Stern, Jeremy Slate, Conny Van Dyke, G.D. Spradlin, Sonny Barger and the Oakland Hells Angels as themselves
"The Rebel Rousers" (1967/1970, 78 min) Bruce Dern, Diane Ladd, Jack Nicholson, Harry Dean Stanton, Cameron Mitchell
"A Slight Case of Murder"{1938, 89 min) Edward. G. Robinson, Allen Jenkins, Ruth Donnelly, Edward Brophy, Jane Byran, Bobby Jordan, Margaret Hamilton
"Judgment At Nuremberg" (!961, 189 min) Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Midmark, Marlene Dietrich, Maximilian Schell (Best Actor Oscar winner), Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift, William Shatner, Werner Klemperer, Virginia Christine (Folger's Mrs. Olson)
"The Pearl of Death" (1944 69 min) Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Dennis Hoey, Rondo Hatton, Evelyn Ankers, Ian Wolfe
"The Scarlet Claw" (1944, 74 min) Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Ian Wolfe
"The Spider Woman" (1944, 63 min) Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Dennis Hoey, Gale Sondergaard
"Sherlock Holmes Faces Death" (1943, 68 min) Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Dennis Hoey, Hillary Brooke, Halliwell Hobbes

"Annabel Takes A Tour" (1938, 67 min) The second--and last entry--in a planned series of B pictures focusing on glamorous movie star Annabel Allison (27 year old Lucille Ball) and her over-the-top press agent, Lanny Wilson (Jack Oakie). Future sequels were reportedly shut down due to Oakie's demands for more money. Based on the evidence found here, he did the history of cinema no great disservice. Oakie performs with all the subtlety found in a Three Stooges short, while the material itself--Oakie's repeated ridiculous attempts to place Ball onto the front pages of papers nationwide--lacks the sort of cleverness necessary to put over such notions. Nonetheless worth watching as the earliest example I've yet encountered of the future Lucy Ricardo appearing nearly fully realized (sans the carrot top) on screen. Lucy delivers her wisecracking dialog flawlessly, elevating the quips simply by saying them. And, as I've noted in the past, the woman was clearly gorgeous--how it took her over another full decade to become the big star she was clearly destined to be is a mystery to me. Well, maybe sometimes it IS in the writing. With Ruth Donnelly as a back-up wisecracker, Ralph Forbes as a befuddled British romance novelist, and Donald MacBride as a slow-burning railroad conductor A don't-miss for Lucy acolytes; all others, tread lightly...

"On Borrowed Time" (1939, 99 min) Lionel Barrymore and Beulah Bondi are grandparents to 9 year old Bobs Watson (called Pud in the movie). After passing up a ride with an unbilled Hans Conried, Sir Cedric Hardwicke accepts a ride with Puds' parents--and their car soon after runs off the road, killing the couple. Hardwicke? Nope--he's Mr. Brink, aka Death. He comes to visit Pud's grandparents not long afterwards, taking away Bondi, but Barrymore isn't quite so easy a touch. O'l wheeelchair-bound Lionel has a magic apple tree out back, y'see, and anyone who climbs up into it can't come down until Barrymore says so! And with money-hungry stick-in-the-mud Aunt Demy (Eily Maylon, in an effectively loathsome performance) chomping at the bit to adopt Pud, Gramps ain't letting Mr. Brink down!! Doc Henry Travers--initially brought in to have apparently crazy-talking Barrymore committed--eventually comes to believe his story, but rightly points out there are sure to be consequences for the world at large if Death is unable to perform his grim duties. The ending took me by surprise--I fully expected Pud to wind up with kindly housekeeper Una Merkel and her fiance after Lionel gives into the inevitable and lets Brink down. I didn't expect (SPOILER WARNING!!) Pud to accompany Gramps to the great beyond too!! All except one or two of nearly 40 commentators over at imdb lavished great praise on this flick as one of the most heart-warming movies of all time, but don't count ME in that group! Barrymore is as cornball as ever (which is fun to watch, admittedly, but he doesn't generally tug the ol' heartstrings), and even as family member after family member drops all around him, the kid barely breaks a sweat. The apple tree device? Totally unexplained and totally out there. And we're all supposed to be happy cuz a nine year gets to walk off into eternity with his ancient grandfather? Nope, not working for me. Travers--who shows up more than half-way through--provides the most interesting sequence in the move (especially when Barrymore shoots Nat Pendleton point blank to prove that no one can die while he has Hardwicke trapped in his tree), but otherwise, a bit too morbid for my taste to be a truly uplifting fantasy film. Interesting, but flawed.

"The Snake Pit" (1948, 108 min) Olivia DeHavilland gives a riveting, Oscar nominated performance as a woman suffering from an extensive nervous breakdown, taken under the care of kind doctor Leo Genn at an understaffed, overpopulated mental institution. Such subject matter may seem no big deal these days, but this film was a breakthrough in covering the then taboo topic of mental illness back in 1948. It still packs quite a punch as we witness DeHavilland slowly come to understand the root of her problem, with several gut-wrenching regressions along the way to her road to recovery. The hospital itself--staff and environment both--is shown in both it's best light and it's worst--electroshock therapy anyone? If DeHavilland hadn't won the trophy a year earlier, she likely would've scored an Oscar for her remarkable performance here. With Celeste Holm as a nearly cured patient on her way out, Mark Stevens as the incredibly patient hubby, Natalie Schafer as the flashback mother, and vets Beulah Bondi, Lee Patrick, and Ruth Donnelly as several fellow inmates. Worth seeing.

"East Side West Side" (1949, 108) Apparently, this all-star production was based on a best-selling novel of the day, of which (I've heard) a lot was left out in it's cinematic translation. Still plenty here--Barbara Stanwyck loves society hubby James Mason enough to forgive his past indiscretions with younger, predatory Ava Gardner, but after their weekly dinner with Babs mom Gale Sondergaard (8 years Stanwyck's real-life senior), Jimmy boy learns Ava's back in town. Not before he encounters young Cyd Charisse at a tony watering hole and gets into a front page fracas with Ava's latest victim. Barbara confesses all her fears to pal Nancy (pre-Reagan) Davis, and then meets up with the innocent Charrise, who's on her way to the airport to greet returning government agent Van Heflin, an older ex-cop, now best-sellingauthor, who she's had a crush on since she was 12. Van takes immediately to Babs, though, and their chemistry is palpable. Still, she loves cold fish Mason, who, in his flawed way, loves her as well. Then there's a murder. Our principals AREN'T the culprits--the killer was clumsily introduced on screen mere minutes before the crime, so there's zero mystery here. Watching Heflin weasel a confession out of the murderer IS quite entertaining, though. With a young William Conrad as the police inspector and William Frawley as a bartender. Gardner and Stanwyck share but a single scene, but it's an explosive one. Fine acting by all, with Heflin the stand-out, Gardner's rawness startlingly impressive, and Stanwyck her usual solid self. Good flick, but not quite classic.

"Love" (1919, 24 min) This two-reeler marks my first encounter with the infamous Fatty Arbuckle. Here he plays a lovesick suitor whose beloved is promised by her farmer father instead to rival Al St. John, specifically due to the latter's agreeing to turn over several acres of land to his new pop-in-law. There are several elaborate sequences of characters flying in and out of second story windows which'll have you marveling at their ingenuity while chuckling all the while. On the other hand, there's also a bit with three men simultaneously swatting each other on each other's bottoms with brooms whose payoff has friend Fatty "cleverly" inserting a three inch nail into his now deadly weapon. Ha ha. That plus the whole adding chunks of soap to a stew ("I wanted leeks, NOT Lux!" complains the farmer in a moderately cute title card quip) reminds how coarsely sadistic slapstick comedy could be. Considered pretty good by Arbuckle acolytes, but pardon me if I don't rush out and snap up the DVD collection.

"One Fatal Hour" (1937, 56 min) Five minutes into this B movie, with top-billed Humphrey Bogart assuming the unlikely role of a radio station manager, I thought I was seeing something totally unique. THEN the station owner walks in, complains about Bogie's high-toned programming and suggests a fifteen chapter radio play based on a twenty year old murder case, one in which the woman in question was acquitted of killing her husband. THAT'S when I immediately realized I was watching a truncated version of 1931 Best Picture contender, "Five Star Final", with the setting simply switched from a newspaper office over to a radio station, with Bogart taking on the Edward G. Robinson role. The original, which I caught only a few months back, was a pretty good movie, but it's a little hard to judge this one fairly, since knowing exactly what was going to happen as the story played out took a lot of wind out of the tale's sails. The happy little family--with the clueless daughter about to marry into high society--whose lives are shattered by the impending broadcasts are as melodramatically cornball as they were the first time around (though I did like seeing Henry O' Neil providing fine work in a meatier role than usual as the murderess's second hubby). Less time is spent in the radio station up top, accounting for the disparity in running times despite the story being the same, note for note. (One difference, post Production Code: the FCC vows to shut down the rogue station, while the newspaper in the original received no such similar comeuppance). Bogart is fine in an atypical role, but the truth is, if you can only make it through one version of this story, you're better off with the original. Also known as "Two Against The World".

"Crazy Heart" (2009, 112 min) Jeff Bridges deservedly won a Best Actor Oscar for his performance as down and out country singer Bad Blake. He brings a nuanced freshness to an admittedly cliched formula that makes it all seem new again. Bridges relationship with the younger Maggie Gyllenhaal is the linchpin of the story, which ends in a satisfyingly bittersweet manner. The notion of Collin Farrell as Blake's one time back-up man who's since ascended to C& W superstardom may take a little getting used to, but he does a decent job with his limited screen time, as does Robert Duvall as Bridges' long time confidant. Going in, I wasn't entirely sure this would be my cup of tea, but coming out, I'd have to recommend it, as long as the relaxed pace doesn't put you off.

"Kid Galahad" (1937, 102 min) Edward G.Robinson plays a fight promoter who happens across a naive bellhop with a killer right cross (Wayne Morris), and uses him to get revenge on trigger happy rival boxing manager Humphrey Bogart (sporting the amusing--and never explained--moniker, Turkey Morgan). Only, first his gal, Bette Davis (who's never looked more beautiful, turning in an admirably restrained and touching performance) and then his own sister (Jane Byran, who'd soon leave showbiz to marry Rexall Drug's top man, and together, convince friend Ronald Reagan to go into politics) fall for the big lug. Bad enough her unrequited love for Morris costs Eddie Bette, but he'll have none of his kid sister marrying a fight game palooka!! So, he agrees to give his loyal protege the wrong instructions during the big fight, allowing Turkey to win big on his bets AND punish the kid for his personal temerity at the same time!! But the two women can't stand watching Morris absorb such punishment, and midway through, appeal to Robinson to change his tactics. Does he? What do YOU think? There's some final scene gunplay, resulting in a quick demise for Bogart and ANOTHER trademark protracted expiration for Eddie G--seems to happen every picture! With Ben "Adventures of Superman" Welden as Bogie's right hand man. While I've never been that big a Bette Davis fan, I may need to reassess that opinion--she's clearly the best thing here. Bogart's part is small, but delivered with his usual panache. A fine, if not quite classic film, well worth seeing for the exemplary cast alone. Also known as "The Battling Bellhop".

"Marked Woman" (1937, 96 min) Another thin-veiled Warner Brothers flick torn from the headlines, here mirroring the fall of infamous gangster "Lucky" Luciano. Gang boss Eduardo Cianelli takes over a night club, informing the hostesses (read: prostitutes) of new house rules that'll maximize profits for all, especially him. Bette Davis plays the fast-talking leader of five working girls sharing the same apartment, vainly trying to maintain her independence. Humphrey Bogart is a crusading assistant D.A. (working, amusingly, for Henry O'Neil, the same fellow he pumped full of lead in "Bullets or Ballots"), and turns in a nice performance with an unusually straight arrow role. He tries to get Davis to rat out Cianelli after she's picked up for the murder of a young welsher who'd she'd been out with the night he died. Bette doublecrosses Humphrey on the stand, getting her boss off, but things all change when her younger, out-of-the loop sister arrives in town (she thinks Davis and company work as dress store models), and is eventually drawn into her sister's seamy world--and onto a slab. THEN Davis changes her tune, for real. The scene where Bogart breaks the tragic news to Davis is heartwrenching. Allen Jenkins provides amiable comedy relief in a single scene as the girls sticky fingered clothing consultant. Oft-time--and occasionally comedic--"Adventures of Superman" adversary Ben Welden is menacing as Cianelli's strong armed sidekick, memorably beating up Davis, albeit behind closed doors. Moody final shot. Nice work by all involved, well worth a look

"Isle of Fury" (1936, 60 min) Humphrey Bogart is top-billed in this B picture adapting a slight Somerset Maugham south seas saga. Bogie's in the middle of wedding ceremony to Margaret Lindsay when he runs off to save Donald Woods, whose craft is being battered off-shore during a vicious storm. Woods and Lindsay feel an immediate attraction, which Bogie totally misses, but parable spouting E.E. Clive clearly doesn't. It all works out in a surprising--but unsatisfying--manner. A laughable scene with Bogie in a diving suit versus a rubber octopus is mostly what you'll remember. Donald Woods would go on to play the blackmailed bank employee in "Five Minutes To Live" decades later, but I'll admit I didn't recognize his younger self at all. Bogart plays a basically good guy while exhibiting a modicum of his bad guy cockiness in the process. The unusual setting makes for a definite Bogart novelty, worth seeing for completists, if not the general viewership.

"China Clipper" (1936, 88 min) This thinly-veiled recounting of the early days of Pan-American airlines finds Pat O'Brien relentlessly driving the men below him so as to achieve his dream of crossing oceans in larger, passenger ready aircrafts. Some nice flying footage elevates a so-so story. O'Brien is surprisingly unlikable throughout--even when wife Beverly Roberts attempts to reconcile midway through (thus softening his attitude), Pat says NO, I got work to do! Humphrey Bogart is fourth billed as a gee-whiz pilot who gets to fly the final test mission AND sock O'Brien one when he gets especially insufferable. For me, though, I'll always recall this flick for several other reasons. Y'see, while I generally don't visit a movie's imdb page until AFTER viewing a flick, because there was some question as to the flick's length, I went there beforehand and my eyes were drawn to an interesting nugget of trivia: Henry B. Walthall (who'd starred in "Birth of a Nation" in a long film career) collapsed on set and died during filming. Playing the key role of aircraft designer (and who deserved fifth billing at the least, but got tenth instead--proper respect for the deceased in the movie world apparently was rather spare back in those days), Walthall's character actually has some scenes wherein a doctor informs him his days are numbered!! He lasts until about the final twenty minutes, after which his character is shuffled, off-screen, to the hospital, where he later dies. Knowing I was literally watching a record of a man's final days on Earth, eerily mirrored by the fictional role he played, was pretty darn creepy. Walthall looks fragile throughout, like a man of 75 to 85 years of age. I was stunned to discover afterwards he was a mere 58!! I'M 57--I sure hope I don't look like THAT next year!! Then there was Ross Alexander, another pilot character, billed above Bogie, who'd I'd never heard of but was immediately struck by his resemblance to "The Daily Show"s John Stewart. Following the flick, I found out WHY I'd never heard of him: less than five months after "China Clipper" hit the big screen, the 29 year old actor shot himself in the head, little over a year after the closeted performer's first wife did likewise! Dunno the whole story there, but it'd likely make a more compelling movie than "China Clipper"...

"Bullets Or Ballots" (1936, 82 min) Edward G. Robinson plays a tough police detective who gets (pretend) tossed off the force so that he can join Barton MacLane's gang as the number two man and eventually find out the identities of the mob's TRUE benefactors. Cold killer--and current number two--Humphrey Bogart doesn't trust Robinson, though MacLane--playing his role less as a tough guy and more as a businessman--stupidly does. Bogie started the whole police crackdown by shooting crusader Henry O' Neil in cold blood. Joan Blondell plays Eddie's night club running gal pal, whose former hairdresser, Loise Beavers, introduced the numbers game racket first to her native Harlem, and then to greater NYC. Frank McHugh provides meager comedy relief as Blondell's easily confused account. Pretty predictable, but done with style--Bogie, with limited screen time, has rarely been more menacing. Featuring yet another protracted death scene for the hammy (but entertaining) Robinson. Not a classic, but worth watching.