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Charlie Chan in Reno (1939) - Murder mystery from 20th Century-Fox and director Norman Foster. When a murder occurs in the "divorce capital of the USA", ace detective Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) travels there to try and prove the innocence of the accused, Mary (Pauline Moore), the soon-to-be-ex-wife of Chan's friend Curtis (Kane Richmond). The cast also includes Ricardo Cortez as a shady hotel doctor, Kay Linaker as the owner of a hotel specializing in housing divorcees, Phyllis Brooks, Slim Summerville, Victor Sen Young, Eddie Collins, Louise Henry, Robert Lowery, and Iris Wong.

The murder mystery elements are routine, but the Reno, Nevada setting is different, as is the glimpse at the era's views on divorce. The cast is fine, with Cortez notable as the sleazy doctor, and comic Summerville as the local sheriff.  (7/10)

Source: Fox DVD. Bonus features include featurettes on the town of Reno, the making of the movie, and on co-star Kay Linaker.

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18 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

Lorna, I just scrolled back and read your review. Your revelation that the captain was Eddie Mars hit me like a thunderbolt. I felt like I'd seen him somewhere before, but I couldn't place him. I also finished the movie feeling uncertain of all this saboteur business, which I certainly couldn't remember reading about anywhere before. Appreciate your clarification there as well.

not a problem, although the loooooooooong imdb section for "goofs" under their entry for AIR FORCE (1943) is owed some of the thanks.

(seriously, went there today and reread it, i think there are, like, 43 entries on stuff they got hella wrong.)

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For fans of George Arliss (there must be a few) and, in particular, his hokey but fun version of The Green Goddess (1930) that TCM occasionally broadcasts, you might like to know that Arliss' 1923 silent version of the same stage play is currently available on You Tube. Both versions have the same leading lady, Alice Joyce.

The print has some flickering issues but you get what you can get. I suspect this silent version is pretty darned rare.

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21 hours ago, EugeniaH said:

For the third or fourth time I tried watching Dinner at Eight, but turned it off before the ending.  I know it's been mentioned quite a bit on the board over time, and I like all the players in the movie (in other roles), but I find it's just so talky, with nothing about the characters themselves to draw me in.  What am I missing here?

If you can make it that far. John Barrymore's last scenes are moving.........

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Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (1939) - Another Charlie Chan mystery from 20th Century-Fox and director Norman Foster. Chan (Sidney Toler) and son Jimmy (Victor Sen Yung) are traveling via airliner when a friend and fellow passenger dies en route. They decide to stay in San Francisco to try and solve this inexplicable death, which seems to be connected to a mysterious psychic named Dr. Zodiac. Also featuring Cesar Romero, Douglass Dumbrille, Pauline Moore, Douglas Fowley, June Gale, Sally Blane, Billie Seward, Wally Vernon, Donald MacBride, and Louis Jean Heydt.

The Treasure Island of the title refers to the World's Fair location, an artificial island with various entertainments. The location isn't exploited very well in the plot, though. I enjoyed the story, involving psychics, seances, mind-readers, magicians, and astrological touches. Cesar Romero has fun as a magician who tries to debunk spiritualists, and frequent bad guy Dumbrille is appropriately shady as the most likely suspect. I liked this one the best so far out of the Toler-as-Chan outings.   (7/10)

Source: Fox DVD. Bonus features include an audio commentary track, and featurettes on Treasure Island, and the zodiac.

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49 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (1939)

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Lawrence, I believe that Treasure Island enjoys the best reputation of the Sidney Toler Chans. I know I got a kick out of it and can't think of a better one, recalling that its striking black and white photography really added to the atmosphere.

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City in Darkness (1939) - Charlie Chan mystery from 20th Century-Fox, directed by Herbert I. Leeds. Chan (Sidney Toler) is in Paris to visit friends and fellow WW1 veterans, although their reunion is uneasy as a new war looms over everything. Authorities order that the entire city of Paris must cloak itself in darkness each night to help thwart any potential German air raids. It's in this tumultuous setting that a murder occurs that draws in Chan to help find the culprit, with world war a possible outcome if the killer isn't apprehended. Also featuring Harold Huber, Pedro de Cordoba, Lynn Bari, Richard Clarke, C. Henry Gordon, Dorothy Tree, Noel Madison, Leo G. Carroll, Lon Chaney Jr., and Douglass Dumbrille.

This entry in the series is a mixed bag. The setting of pre-war Paris, with the citizenry living in constant fear of impending attack, is an interesting place for a Chan mystery. There are also spy rings and international intrigue that add an unusual tone to the proceedings. However, the unusual story is almost undone by Harold Huber's extremely over-the-top comic relief bumbling French police man character. This was at least the third Chan film with Huber, each time as a different character, and while I liked him in the previous movies, he's just awful here, and he's in it so much that he almost single-handedly ruins it all. I did enjoy seeing Leo G. Carroll (with a French accent) as a shady forger, and Lon Chaney Jr. as his brutish colleague. At the very end of the movie, one character reads a telegram and declares ,"There will be no war!" Oops.    (7/10)

Source: Fox DVD. Bonus features include a making-of featurette, and a short look at some of the screenwriters of the Chan series.

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Badlands of Dakota (1941)

Lively but ordinary western from Universal which, in true Hollywood "respect" of history, throws a variety of famous historical names into the pot with mixed results. The film is perhaps most noteworthy for the cast of familiar film veterans.

The main story has two brothers (Robert Stack and Broderick Crawford) have a fall out over a girl (Ann Rutherford), Crawford turning bad and falling in with some outlaws, lead by Jack McCall (Lon Chaney Jr.). Custer's name is thrown into the mix, as well as that of Wild Bill Hickok, played by Richard Dix who is dressed to look like the lawman but has disappointingly little to do. The sudden recreation of the lawman's famous death is a surprisingly throwaway moment in the film.

Oh, there is also a gun slinging tom girl in buckskins just called "Jane" (played by a beautiful Frances Farmer in one of her final roles). Nobody calls her "Calamity" but the assumption is that's it's her anyway. Hugh Herbert and Andy Devine are also present for the usual comedy relief. The rest of the film, though, is hardly to be taken seriously.

The film moves quickly enough but what plot there is is trivial and uninvolving, not helped by the fact that it's difficult to take Stack seriously in the film's second half when he becomes the new law of Deadwood. Stanley Cortez photographed it all nicely, and you can recognize the same Universal stock music taken from Destry Rides Again, filmed two years before.

A minor quibble: watching Crawford and Chaney share a few scenes together, I was disappointed they didn't get drunk and start to break up the furniture. Maybe they saved that for when the cameras stopped rolling.

Strictly for western buffs, there is currently a nice looking print of this film available on You Tube.

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This shot is strictly a publicity pose (as if you couldn't tell). There isn't even a hint of a romance in the film between Hickok and (Calamity) Jane.

2.5 out of 4

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WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971) 

Re-watch

It's probably been about 10 years since I've seen this movie. I was instantly reminded why I love it, and why I hate Grandpa Joe. His daughter (in law?) is working her fingers to the bone at work in order to feed her parents and in-laws and her young son, and he acts like he's completely paralyzed, but then the minute Charlie finds a golden ticket, this jackalope is jumping around for joy, as if he's suddenly been cured. Anyway, enough about Grandpa Joe's tomfoolery. I was reminded why I love this movie once the "Pure Imagination" scene happened. 

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7 hours ago, Hibi said:

If you can make it that far. John Barrymore's last scenes are moving.........

And one of Robert Osborne's favorite movie scenes ever was Marie Dressler's broad-as-a-barn reaction to Jean Harlow's revelation that she had been reading a book. He always mentioned that scene whenever introducing the film.

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7 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

And one of Robert Osborne's favorite movie scenes ever was Marie Dressler's broad-as-a-barn reaction to Jean Harlow's revelation that she had been reading a book. He always mentioned that scene whenever introducing the film.

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Oh, YEAH.  I like the whole movie, but still eagerly await that last scene whenever I watch it.  And Dressler's  last line in it is priceless.  Saw and heard it more than a dozen times, but STILL laugh out loud as I did the first time I saw and heard it.

Aside about Willy Wonka:  Our grandniece, now 30, when little used to love coming to our house to watch, and re-watch over and over again this movie.  Tickled me that she never referred to it by it's proper name, always calling it "Candy Man". ;)   I'd always joke with her mother, "I don't think I should show her that OTHER "Candyman" movie."  :P

Sepiatone

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42 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

Aside about Willy Wonka:  Our grandniece, now 30, when little used to love coming to our house to watch, and re-watch over and over again this movie.  Tickled me that she never referred to it by it's proper name, always calling it "Candy Man". ;)   I'd always joke with her mother, "I don't think I should show her that OTHER "Candyman" movie."  :P

Sepiatone

Hey, I was only 6 or 7 when I caught Kubrick's THE SHINING on cable....didn't freak me out. But hey, what can I say, I was a weird kid, lol.:D

 

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Gotta admit though, there's a BIG difference between the two movies.  Kubrick's "Shining" is MILD compared to CANDYMAN. 

Sepiatone

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Just now, Sepiatone said:

Gotta admit though, there's a BIG difference between the two movies.  Kubrick's "Shining" is MILD compared to CANDYMAN. 

Sepiatone

True enough. I would never show CANDYMAN to any non pre-teen kids that's for sure!
 

Though my nephew might be an exception....he could watch ANY horror film by the age of 10, so I guess he inherited my weirdness!:P

 

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For the Boys (1991; VHS tape)
Ok, this film does not have the best reputation, but despite its flaws, I ended up enjoying this a lot. Credit for that must go mainly toward Bette Midler who is on her A-game here in a role that showcases her dramatic, comic, and musical abilities. It's one of her best roles. James Caan is pretty good here too, in a not too flattering role. Film itself is a bit too long, and some sequences have much more pull than others, but its highlights such as the first USO show and the later tearjerker moments are knockouts. And this was one of the few first viewings in recent weeks (Deep Valley being another) to get those tear ducts of mine working. So it was all worthwhile. 

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Clouds Over Europe aka Q Planes (1939) - British comedic spy thriller, distributed by Columbia Pictures, from director Tim Whelan. When an experimental airplane is lost under mysterious circumstances, investigator Major Charles Hammond (Ralph Richardson) teams up with test pilot Tony McVane (Laurence Olivier) and reporter Kay Hammond (Valerie Hobson) to find the culprits. Also featuring George Curzon, George Merritt, Gus McNaughton, David Tree, Sandra Storme, and David Farrar.

Richardson and Olivier has just co-starred to great success in Othello on the London stage, and their British celebrity was at a high point. Richardson gets the showier role, a great eccentric of a character that is said to have been the inspiration behind John Steed in the TV series The Avengers. Olivier is left playing the traditional leading man part, complete with romantic subplot with Hobson, and he's merely adequate at it, occasionally coming off as prissy and petulant. However, he acquits himself very well during the film's action-packed finale, one of the largest action scenes that I can recall seeing him in. An interesting side note about this film is that it was based on a real incident wherein an experimental British aircraft was believed shot down over the English Channel by a German u-boat. The British government helped fund this movie and speed its release to show the Germans that they knew that Germany was behind the aircraft's destruction. Heading into the war years of cinema history, the format is becoming just as much of a political tool as a means of entertainment or artistic expression. Viewed now, the movie is a mildly amusing time-waster with some interesting performances and a terrific action sequence at the end. (7/10)

Source: TCM.

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29 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

Clouds Over Europe aka Q Planes (1939) -

 

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It's been years since I saw this one. The one thing I recall is that Ralph Richardson's eccentric performance was vastly amusing. I didn't know it was supposedly an inspiration for John Steed in the '60s.

 

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Day-Time Wife (1939) - Comedy from 20th Century-Fox and director Gregory Ratoff. Wife Jane (Linda Darnell) begins to suspect that her overworking husband Ken (Tyrone Power) is having an affair with his secretary. She wants to learn "what secretaries have that I don't", so she secretly gets a job as personal secretary to wealthy businessman Bernard Dexter (Warren William). Then it becomes a game of comedic subterfuge as Jane struggles to keep her new job a secret from Ken, and to keep the amorous advances of her new boss at bay. Also featuring Wendy Barrie, Joan Davis, Binnie Barnes, Joan Valerie, Leonid Kinskey, and Mildred Gover.

This is more minor romantic comedy hijinks, notable today solely for the cast. William is good, but isn't given much to work with. Darnell, who incredibly was only 16 at the time (!!!), is poised and mature beyond her years. Power shows some good comic timing in a few scenes, and the two of them certainly make for an attractive couple.  (6/10)

Source: FXM.

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Devil's Island (1939) - Unremarkable derivative prison B-movie from Warner Brothers and director William Clemens. French brain surgeon Dr. Chaudet (Boris Karloff) is sent to the title penal colony after administering to an escaped convict back in Paris. Chaudet quickly learns that conditions on the island are barbaric at best, with the prisoners beaten, overworked, and made to live in constant misery. The prison warden (James Stephenson) is also a crook, and he takes an interest in seeing Chaudet brought low, but when the warden's young daughter suffers a brain injury, Chaudet is the only man who can fix it. Also featuring Nedda Harrigan, Adia Kuznetzoff, Rolla Gourvitch, Will Stanton, Edward Keane, Pedro de Cordoba, and Robert Warwick.

The barely-one-hour programmer seems like a cheaper retread of other prison movies, particularly The Prisoner of Shark Island. Karloff does a good job here, and I'm sure he enjoyed getting to be the hero for a change. That being said, I would only recommend this to Karloff completists and/or prison movie fanatics.  (5/10)

Source: TCM.

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For those with discerning tastes you may be interested to known that a pretty good looking print of SOUTH SEA SINNER, a 1949 Universal-International potboiler, popped up on You Tube a couple of days ago.

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SEE Shelley Winters as a south seas h o n k y tonk girl singing (well, being dubbed singing anyway) in a rundown bar

SEE Macdonald Carey and Frank Lovejoy as two he-men who like the way she puts over a song

SEE Luther Adler as the smirking, sleazy bar owner

SEE Liberace, without even a flicker of emotion in his face, even during a big bar fight that bursts out around him, as he tinkles the ivories (and, yes, there will be a candlebra nearby)

They don't make 'em like this one anymore, folks. This film was made when Shelley posed for cheesecake, long before her objective was to swallow one of them a day.

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I just saw DAMIEN: OMEN II, a sequel to the 1976 THE OMEN.

After the failed attempt on his life by his late adopted father, Damien has been shipped off back to America to live with his uncle, aunt and cousin, and eight years later we get to see him, as a teen, and that much hasn't changed...he still manages to bring death and destruction wherever he goes, though unaware of it at first, we see him realizing who he is, at first horrified, but then by the end of the movie he has fully embraced his dark, evil nature.

As far as sequels go it's actually not a bad movie, though it doesn't really offer anything new scriptwise (except for one twist towards the end). 

Also uncle Richard (William Holden) is supposed to be the brother of Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck's character in the original film). However, I just don't see the resemblance between Peck and Holden. And I've seen a lot of their films in their prime in the 40's and 50's.

I suppose though moviegoers at the time wouldn't have noticed or cared much.

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East Side of Heaven (1939) - Harmless fluff musical comedy from Universal Pictures and writer-director David Butler. Bing Crosby stars as a singing cab driver who, through a series of convoluted circumstances, becomes the unwilling guardian of a baby. He turns to fiancee Joan Blondell and roommate Mischa Auer for help. Also featuring C. Aubrey Smith, Jerome Cowan, Irene Hervey, Robert Kent, Jane Jones, and Sterling Holloway.

This is more light and forgettable comedic fare from Crosby, with a number of hit songs peppered throughout. Blondell and Auer both give able support, and there are a lot of close-ups of the smiling baby. Yeesh.  (5/10)

Source: Universal DVD, part of the Bing Crosby: Screen Legend Collection.

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On 2/8/2018 at 9:17 PM, sewhite2000 said:

And one of Robert Osborne's favorite movie scenes ever was Marie Dressler's broad-as-a-barn reaction to Jean Harlow's revelation that she had been reading a book. He always mentioned that scene whenever introducing the film.

He referred to it as one of the great "double takes" of all time, can't remember the exact quote.

Marie's quip about the Civil War is another fine thing in that film.

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