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"Hellzapoppin'" (1941)--Starring Ole Olsen, Chic Johnson, and Martha Raye.

 

 

This is the first time I saw Olsen & Johnson, and I thought they were funny. 

They didn't make too many films, but a few were on tv often when I was a kid. I thought they were hysterical. My parents saw the duo perform on Broadway.

 

I recommend Crazy House, which has lots of cameos by Universal stars, and I especially recommend Ghost Catchers, which has a great dance sequence. 

 

Trivia about Ghost Catchers: Morton Downey, a popular Irish singer of the time, performs. His son, Morton Downey, Jr., had a crazy show in the late 1980s in NYC, with frequent guests like Al Sharpton (whom he called "Fats Domino") and Alan Dershowitz.

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"Hellzapoppin'" (1941)--Starring Ole Olsen, Chic Johnson, and Martha Raye.

 

 

This is the first time I saw Olsen & Johnson, and I thought they were funny.  Martha Raye is the funniest performer in the film.  Kudos also go to Mischa Auer as a fake Russian count.  Jane Frazee sings nicely, and doesn't do any harm to the film.

 

 

I always thought, once you got past her mouth, that Martha Raye was quite attractive. This rare glamour photo seems to confirm it.

 

mrswim.jpg

 

I found this little bit in an article on Raye, of how racism may have played a role in the cancellation of a 1955 television series of her's.

 

During the 1950's Martha turned to TV where she hosted and guested on numerous variety programs. She did the Martha Raye Show in 1954-1956. She was considered one of the greats in TV comedy. "Her routines," explained TV Guide, "are boisterous, rowdy affairs, full of slapstick, wild plot lines and fantastic mugging - with appropriate crossed eyes, crooked arm and other contortionist business. But she's one of only a handful of clowns who can pull it off." Variety dubbed Raye "the funniest femme in television," She pulled it off for only two years. Television audiences were a different bunch in those days. Racism was rampant and shamefully a very normal part of our society.

 

There was an incident that happened on the September 20, 1955 episode that caused many of the shows tv audience to turn against Martha, involving an african american child. 12-year-old $64,000 Question winner Gloria Lockerman was a guest, along with Tallulah Bankhead, on the show that night. "At the bows, when they were saying goodnight," recalls Norman Lear (the brains behind All in the Family, Sanford and Son, Maude, Good Times, and The Jeffersons) "Talullah Bankhead picked Gloria Lockerman up and hugged her; Martha joined them and the three of them were hugging, and they both kissed her, This was 1954. There were so many letters about hugging that little black child that the show never recovered from it, with the ad agency carrying on the way it did." For whatever reason, the show was cancelled at the end of the 1955-56 season.

 

http://1950sunlimited.blogspot.ca/2010/01/curves-ahead-martha-raye.html

 

Sadly, Raye's final years sound pretty terrible, both emotionally and with major health issues. Not a nice way to remember a lady who brought a lot of high spirited laughs to the world, and was much beloved for her work before the troops during the Viet Nam War.

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There was an incident that happened on the September 20, 1955 episode that caused many of the shows tv audience to turn against Martha, involving an african american child. 12-year-old $64,000 Question winner Gloria Lockerman was a guest, along with Tallulah Bankhead, on the show that night. "At the bows, when they were saying goodnight," recalls Norman Lear (the brains behind All in the Family, Sanford and Son, Maude, Good Times, and The Jeffersons) "Talullah Bankhead picked Gloria Lockerman up and hugged her; Martha joined them and the three of them were hugging, and they both kissed her, This was 1954. There were so many letters about hugging that little black child that the show never recovered from it, with the ad agency carrying on the way it did." For whatever reason, the show was cancelled at the end of the 1955-56 season.

 

http://1950sunlimited.blogspot.ca/2010/01/curves-ahead-martha-raye.html

 

 

I'd be curious to know where the author got that information (though I don't doubt it could have happened). Gloria Lockerman actually won $16,000, although the article makes it appear she won $64,000. She won the money by spelling antidisestablishmentarianism.

Her win was mentioned on a Honeymooners episode ("The $99,000 Answer"), starting at around the 9:40 mark below:

 

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"Make Mine Music" (1946)--Featuring the voices of Nelson Eddy, The Andrews Sisters, Dinah Shore, and many others.

 

Feature designed to encourage music appreciation is made up of ten cartoon shorts.   The high points are "The Whale Who Wanted To Sing At The Met", which is sung by Nelson Eddy.  According to the opening credits of that segment, Eddy did ALL the voices in that cartoon--by my count, around fifteen parts.

 

Other high points are "All The Cats Join In", by Benny Goodman and Orchestra, which is about 1940's teens getting together and going to the malt shop--images from this number can be spotted in "Pass That Peace Pipe" from 1947's "Good News"; PTPP is also set in a malt shop.  "Peter and the Wolf" and Goodman's "After You've Gone" are other highlights.

 

The low point is the arty "Two Silhouettes", which shows two ballet dancers and features some rare bad animation--the two ballet dancers just become one lumpy figure when they merge.  There's nothing wrong with Dinah Shore's vocal to the number.   The "Blue Bayou" Tone Poem that opens the film almost put me to sleep.  

 

Film's episodes are very good or bad, with little in between except the Andrews Sisters episode ( "Johnny Fedora and Alice BlueBonnet").

 

Uneven film is worth the watch.  2.6/4.

 

Source--archive.org.  Search "Disney_Classics.  Link was archived 2/28/2017.  Link has multiple films; MMM is #40.

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"Make Mine Music" (1946)--Featuring the voices of Nelson Eddy, The Andrews Sisters, Dinah Shore, and many others.

 

Feature designed to encourage music appreciation is made up of ten cartoon shorts.   The high points are "The Whale Who Wanted To Sing At The Met", which is sung by Nelson Eddy.  According to the opening credits of that segment, Eddy did ALL the voices in that cartoon--by my count, around fifteen parts.

 

Other high points are "All The Cats Join In", by Benny Goodman and Orchestra, which is about 1940's teens getting together and going to the malt shop--images from this number can be spotted in "Pass That Peace Pipe" from 1947's "Good News"; PTPP is also set in a malt shop.  "Peter and the Wolf" and Goodman's "After You've Gone" are other highlights.

 

 

I don't believe I've ever seen Make Mine Music but I do remember seeing Disney's version of Peter and the Wolf, with music by Prokofiev and narrated by Sterling Holloway. I loved it, and will now make a point of looking for Make Mine Music if only just to see it again. Wonderful stuff.

 

Thanks filmlover.

 

Disney-PeterandtheWolf1946.jpg

 

LCD08SS.jpg

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Last film seen in full was the wonderful Ginger Rogers film Tender Comrade on Warner Archive Instant. I know that the film became most controversial during the blacklisting era though. That's a shame because it is a terrific and moving drama with fine work all around.

 

(Note: I say last one finished because I started watching another film on the same service, the caustic 1981 Blake Edwards comedy, S.O.B., but curiously the video stopped playing and displayed an error message 36 minutes in. A pity because I had already laughed several times already. The cast is in fine form so far. And the slapstick joke with Robert Mulligan landing on Loretta Swit took me off-guard.

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Tales of Manhattan.  I was really looking forward to seeing this film as I'm a big fan of Rita Hayworth and Ginger Rogers.  I hate to say it, but I thought this film was boring? Maybe I'm missing something.  I just thought it was too long and nothing really interesting happened.  I liked the vignette with Rogers, Cesar Romero and Henry Fonda, but other than that, nothing grabbed me.  

 

Am I missing something?

 

I don't even have anything else to say about this film.  That's how forgettable it was.

 

this was, i think? featured among the last four Bob's Picks and contained an error in the host intro that prompted a thread.

 

i kinda liked what i saw, imma be lazy and copy and paste my review from that thread.

 

here tis:

 

so, i watched the first three stories in TALES OF MANHATTAN (and fell asleep during the fourth, but plan to finish it when i get home this evening) on TCM ON DEMAND...

 

The first story was a bit wobbly, the three acting styles of Thomas Mitchell (BIG!); Charles Boyer (subtle and suave) and Rita Hayworth (none at all) don't quite gel and there's any number of things about the ending that make no sense at all. J'adore Boyer, but this was the first film I have seen him in where his accent made it hard to understand him sometimes.

 

I almost quit watching, but the second story pulled me in- a rather racy love triangle between Henry Fonda, Cesar Romero and Ginger Rogers- who had by this time entered into the "Rose Bowl Parade Float" stage of her career with POWER hair and make-up, the industrial bangs and curled tresses (quite long for someone in a 40's flick! they cascaded well past her shoulders) kinda distracted from her performance a little, but Ginger at this stage still had the charisma to overcome the borderline clown make-up.

 

the third: Laughton and (a sadly underused) Lanchester; I keep stumbling over films with them and they always impress, together or separately. Laughton KILLS it with just his facial expressions, he really was one of the finest actors ever...the story kinda comes close to going off the rails in near the end, but it thankfully gets back on track.

 

as for the in-between scenes, I was really quite taken with how restrained Eugene Pallette was, he seemed so much softer than he usually was....ditto James Gleason, who was almost a revelation he was so different from his usual persona in films.

 

edit: actually james Gleason was in the fourth story, the one i fell asleep watching, but plan to finish tonight.

 

(end original review)

 

sadly, it was pulled from TCM ON DEMAND and i did not get to finish it, which bummed me out as i was warming to it, but i get your issues with it.

 

it is worth a trip to TALES OF MANHATTAN's WIKIPEDIA and IMDB pages, there was some controversy regarding the segment with Ethel Waters and Paul Robeson (which i did not see.)

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it is worth a trip to TALES OF MANHATTAN's WIKIPEDIA and IMDB pages, there was some controversy regarding the segment with Ethel Waters and Paul Robeson (which i did not see.)

Here it is, from the mighty Wiki:

 

Controversy surrounding fifth tale upon 1942 release

The final tale, starring Paul Robeson and Ethel Waters and depicting what were considered racial stereotypes even in 1942, came under severe criticism from both Edward G. Robinson and Robeson, a champion of good film roles for blacks. After a career of only 12 movies and refusing lucrative film offers for over three years, Tales of Manhattan was Robeson's final attempt to work within Hollywood, yet Robeson was deeply disappointed with the sequence, which featured musical numbers by Robeson and the Hall Johnson choir.

He initially thought that he and his associates could use the depiction of the plight of the rural black poor - shown in the film as investing the bulk of their windfall in communal land and tools - to demonstrate a share-and-share-alike way of life. Although he attempted to change some of the film's content during production, in the end he found it "very offensive to my people. It makes the Negro childlike and innocent and is in the old plantation hallelujah shouter tradition ... the same old story, the negro singing his way to glory".[4] To Robeson, it was a matter of human dignity, and outweighed what he considered his duty to propagandize for communal ownership, inserted into the storyline for Robeson by screenwriter Donald Ogden Stewart, like Robeson a member of the Communist Party, USA.

Some reviewers and black entertainers (including Clarence Muse), noted that the film exposed blacks’ living conditions under the sharecropping system, but Robeson was so dissatisfied that he attempted to buy up all the prints and take the film out of distribution. Following its release, he held a press conference, announcing that he would no longer act in Hollywood films because of the demeaning roles available to black actors. Robeson also said he'd gladly picket the film along with others who had found the film offensive.[4]

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"Moana" (2016)--Starring the voices of Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, and Troy Polamalu

 

Disney film is based on ancient Pacific Island/Fijian legends.  It's about a chiefs' daughter who is Chosen by the ocean to restore a stolen jewel to it's rightful owner and thus keep her island from being destroyed.

 

The film is beautifully animated, a mix of hand-drawn and computer animation (there's a credit for "Hand Drawn Animation Supervision; there are eleven minutes of credits).  The figures too often look posed, but otherwise I have no quarrel with the animation.

 

I'd never heard of Cravalho, but she does a good job of voicing Moana.  I remember Dwayne Johnson mainly from "The Mummy Returns" (2001) and "The Scorpion King" (2002), but he does a very good job of voicing Maui, the demi-god who started all the trouble.

 

"Moana" credits four directors/co-directors, and eight people worked on the story/screenplay.  The score is pleasant, and moves the story ahead, but there are no really memorable songs.

 

Film is very worth a watch.  3.4/4.

 

Source--archive.org.  Search "Moana2016".

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"Moana" (2016)--Starring the voices of Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, and Troy Polamalu

I'd never heard of Cravalho, but she does a good job of voicing Moana.  I remember Dwayne Johnson mainly from "The Mummy Returns" (2001) and "The Scorpion King" (2002), but he does a very good job of voicing Maui, the demi-god who started all the trouble.

 

Johnson started out as "The Rock" in WWE wrestling, where his bad-guy persona was to be a good-looking but overbearingly obnoxious egotistic jerk who also happened to have a good singing voice--

And in the pre-show preliminaries, might taunt his opponents by pulling out a guitar and singing his own greatness.

 

And if you want to know what that was like...just watch Maui sing the "You're Welcome" number.  Like Robin Williams in Aladdin or even David Spade in Emperor's New Groove, sometimes you get a good Disney movie just by creating a distinct star vehicle.

 

"Make Mine Music" (1946)--Featuring the voices of Nelson Eddy, The Andrews Sisters, Dinah Shore, and many others.

 

Feature designed to encourage music appreciation is made up of ten cartoon shorts.   

The "Blue Bayou" Tone Poem that opens the film almost put me to sleep.  

 

Actually--since the "Package" features were just trying to do mini-music/story shorts and get the studio going again after the war--"Blue Bayou" was just their salvaging the deleted "Claire de Lune" sequence from Fantasia.

Which was restored a few years before Fantasia came back out on DVD in '00, with the entire disk of archived material. 

 

 

(Yeah, helps to have a fellow Disney-nut on the boards.)

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Johnson started out as "The Rock" in WWE wrestling, where his bad-guy persona was to be a good-looking but overbearingly obnoxious egotistic jerk who also happened to have a good singing voice--

And in the pre-show preliminaries, might taunt his opponents by pulling out a guitar and singing his own greatness.

 

And if you want to know what that was like...just watch Maui sing the "You're Welcome" number.  Like Robin Williams in Aladdin or even David Spade in Emperor's New Groove, sometimes you get a good Disney movie just by creating a distinct star vehicle.

 

 

Actually--since the "Package" features were just trying to do mini-music/story shorts and get the studio going again after the war--"Blue Bayou" was just their salvaging the deleted "Claire de Lune" sequence from Fantasia.

Which was restored a few years before Fantasia came back out on DVD in '00, with the entire disk of archived material. 

 

 

(Yeah, helps to have a fellow Disney-nut on the boards.)

 

I just read that Johnson was the highest paid actor in 2016.    (est. 64 million).

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I just read that Johnson was the highest paid actor in 2016.    (est. 64 million).

 

I generally go by the Elizabeth Taylor/Jim Carrey/Sylvester Stallone rule that when an actor asks for an insane salary, that's his polite way of telling the studio "NO."

 

And given how many movies keep wanting to put Johnson in everything--never mind Universal thinking their Fast & Furious franchise depends on him, and the entire studio upon the franchise--I can guess what he asked the $64M FOR.

Except that, like Michael Caine, it's just so hard to imagine Johnson saying "no" to any role...

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The Confession (1970).

 

Costa-Gavras made this one after making Z, and there are some similarities. The Confession tells the story of Artur London (Yves Montand), a Czech Communist who fought for the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War, but, after the Communists came to power in Czechoslovakia, they started to purge people. The purges hit the folks who had fought in Spain in 1951, with a show trial of the men in November 1952.

 

The movie is unrelentingly brutal, as London is routinely tortured in an attempt to extract a confession from him. The whole episode is also tough on his wife Lise (Simone Signoret), who has no idea what's happened to her husband.

 

Like Z, there are some jumps around in time, so we know that London survives the show trials, although what happens to him in the end is still a surprise.

 

The movie is extremely well-made but tough to watch at times, although not as difficult as something like Under the Volcano. I'd introduce people to Z first, however.

 

9/10.

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Chicago (2002)

It's quite the mystery to me that it's taken this long for me to watch this movie, considering how much I'm obsessed with (uh, I mean "enjoy") musicals. Although I did find Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones lacking in certain areas, I was thoroughly impressed by the ensemble and the cinematography/wardrobe. 

 

I've never actually seen a live stage production of this, but I've memorized the entire cast album, so that's a start. 

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I Killed That Man (1941)

 

Low-budget entertaining whodunit features some snappy dialogue and a decent performance from Ricardo Cortez (I’m on a Cortez kick lately).

 

The film opens on a bizarre note, as we see a group of people shooting dice, drinking coffee, and having an all-around good time. Cortez arrives. Then they all move into the next room to witness an execution! The condemned man starts to blab, and just before he is about to name the brains behind the operation (whatever the operation is), he collapses in a heap. The prison doctor discovers a dart in the guy’s neck, probably due to an errant throw by either Basil Rathbone or Lionel Atwill.  Assistant D.A. Cortez immediately takes charge, ordering everyone to take off their clothes. Fortunately, the scene changes before we get to the cavity search.

 

Cortez immediately cracks the case and arrests a suspect. He then explains to his boss (John “Perry White” Hamilton) that he knows that the suspect is innocent. Makes perfect sense to me. He then sets about to find the real killer.

 

Now the dead guy’s girlfriend (Iris Adrian) goes belly-up, and Cortez immediately cracks the case, arresting the last guy who was with her. Oh, he turns out to be innocent as well.

 

Meanwhile, Cortez’ reporter girlfriend gets several clues, and immediately cracks the case.

 

Worth a look, if only to hear everyone ironically referring to John Hamilton as “Chief,” and to see how many laws Cortez violates.

 

 

 

Untitled_zpsuuvbnqel.png

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I Killed That Man (1941)

 

I've actually seen this one (I often haven't seen the movies you review), and it's one of the few Cortez films that I've seen, as well. It was rather ridiculous, but it kept me entertained.

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I've actually seen this one (I often haven't seen the movies you review), and it's one of the few Cortez films that I've seen, as well. It was rather ridiculous, but it kept me entertained.

I think his best performance may have been in The Last Hurrah. I've only seen it once, many years ago, but I remember thinking, "hey, this guy can actually act."

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Strange Compulsion (1964) Fringe Noir/Lost Noir

 

in_strange_compulsion_JA00194.jpg

 

Directed by Irvin Berwick (The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959, )The 7th Commandment (1961), The Street Is My Beat (1966)). The screenplay by Jason Johnson. The Cinematography was by Joseph V. Mascelli (The Thrill Killers (1964), The Street Is My Beat (1966)) and the cheap jazz music was provided by S.F. Brownrigg of the Sound Department.

 

The film stars the son of Preston Sturges, Solomon Sturges 

 

Strange Compulsion is the story of Fred, a twenty-two year old pre med student trying to follow in his late father's footsteps and become a doctor. Fred lives in an affluent household with his mother and their maid.

 

Fred is a smart, good looking, young man with an irresistible compulsion to voyeur women. He is very aware of the problem and is seeing Dr. Hazzlett about his neurosis. Throughout the film we see the various sessions Fred has with Dr. Hazzlett. These sessions consist of Fred telling Dr. Hazzlett of his various compulsive acts and these are shown mostly as voice over narrated flashbacks.

 

Strange Compulsion has it too ways, on one hand it's really an interesting piece on the clinical treatment (at least in 1964) of voyeurism, on the other it's equally effective as a sexploitation film showing the lurid idiosyncrasies and progressions of a peeping tom and numerous women in various states of undress. You have your cake and eat it too circa 1964. During the years of the Motion Picture Production Code, and individual like Fred would have been depicted as some low life creep with no redeeming qualities, and would have either ended up behind bars, or somehow been struck blind or met some other just moralistic end.

 

Strange Compulsion is available on DVD from Something Weird Video. Incredibly seedy surreptitious entertainment, you'll need to take a shower afterwards, 7/10.

 

Full review here in Film Noir/Gangster page and with with NSFW screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/04/strange-compulsion-1964-fringe-noirlost.html

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I Killed That Man (1941)

 

Low-budget entertaining whodunit features some snappy dialogue and a decent performance from Ricardo Cortez (I’m on a Cortez kick lately).

 

 

I'm actually rather partial to Ricardo Cortez. He could be a good slimy two timer played with some charm (he was quite good looking, with that patent leather hair style looking a bit out of the Valentino school), and he could also be a fairly credible tough guy. I like his Sam Spade, for example, or playing a gangster trying to solve a crime (before he gets blamed for it, if memory serves me correctly) in The Phantom of Crestwood.

 

Rich, you might take a look at a Kay Francis soaper with an exotic setting, Mandalay, which occasionally comes on TCM. It features Ricardo at his charming oily rat fink best.

 

2ebcc3a5902a4e82127636ae6ef176a4.jpg

 

There's a Cortez coming on TCM this Thursday at 6:15pm (EST) I've never seen. Hat Coat and Glove was originally intended as a John Barrymore vehicle but was given to Cortez when the Great Profile was sent to a sanitarium for a lengthy stay.

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I'm actually rather partial to Ricardo Cortez. He could be a good slimy two timer played with some charm (he was quite good looking, with that patent leather hair style looking a bit out of the Valentino school), and he could also be a fairly credible tough guy. I like his Sam Spade, for example, or playing a gangster trying to solve a crime (before he gets blamed for it, if memory serves me correctly) in The Phantom of Crestwood.

 

Rich, you might take a look at a Kay Francis soaper with an exotic setting, Mandalay, which occasionally comes on TCM. It features Ricardo at his charming oily rat fink best.

 

2ebcc3a5902a4e82127636ae6ef176a4.jpg

 

There's a Cortez coming on TCM this Thursday at 6:15pm (EST) I've never seen. Hat Coat and Glove was originally intended as a John Barrymore vehicle but was given to Cortez when the Great Profile was sent to a sanitarium for a lengthy stay.

Agree about Cortez. I've seen Mandalay, but not Hat, Coat, and Glove, so I will have to check that one out. Thanks for the headsup!

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Strange Compulsion (1964) Fringe Noir/Lost Noir
 
in_strange_compulsion_JA00194.jpg
 
 The Cinematography was by Joseph V. Mascelli (The Thrill Killers (1964), The Street Is My Beat (1966))

 

he also directed THE ATOMIC BRAIN, if I am not mistaken.

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he also directed THE ATOMIC BRAIN, if I am not mistaken.

Yes he did, just watched it in fact the other day, it's close to Ed Wood territory but with a much bigger budget ;-)

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Yes he did, just watched it in fact the other day, it's close to Ed Wood territory but with a much bigger budget ;-)

 

I love the MST3K version. it almost becomes a musical as they make up words to sing along to the odd score.

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"A Woman's Vengeance" (1948)--Starring Charles Boyer, Ann Blyth, Jessica Tandy, and Mildred Natwick.  Directed by Zoltan Korda.

 

Marvelous British noir is a "whodunit" that Hitchcock would approve of.

 

Caddish husband Henry Maurier (Boyer) is married to quarrelsome, unhappy invalid Emily (Rachel Kempson).  They battle over paying off her brother Robert (Hugh French) debts. Nurse Braddock (Natwick) knows from Emily that Henry is unfaithful, and strongly disapproves.  Neighbor Janet Spence (Tandy) and servants are present at a luncheon where Henry strongly reproves Nurse Braddock for disobeying the orders of Dr. Libbard (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) regarding Emily's diet.  That night, Emily dies.  Which of the many suspects actually did the deed?

 

The masterful cinematography, which indicates degrees of guilt, was done by Russell Metty.  Metty may be best known for his photography of Orson Welles' "The Stranger" (1946) and "Touch of Evil" (1958).  He also did the photography for the noirs "Whistle Stop" (1946), "Ivy" (1947), and several films for director Douglas Sirk.

 

Miklos Rosza contributed a melodramatic score that sets the tone for the film early on and contributes some musical red herrings.

 

The performances are near flawless.  Ann Blyth seems over her head, but that's appropriate for her character.  The print was excellent quality, very clear and distinct.

 

Excellent film.  3.8/4.

 

Source--archive.org.  Film was archived 2/19/2017.

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