Archive for the Classics Category

Dressed to Kill

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on December 20, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In this entry in the Michael Shayne detective series, the smart-alec sleuth is at the altar with his bride when shots ring out from a nearby theater. He immediately runs to investigate. He soon finds a series of murders with one thing in common. They are all related to a single stage production. Each victim is discovered wearing a costume from the drama. Shayne soon discovers that the killer is a jilted porter whose actress-lover dumped him. Unfortunately for the enthusiastic gumshoe, his fiancee, disgusted by his love of solving mysteries, dumps him.

What people are saying:

“At just 74 minutes Dressed to Kill is innocuous fun, though like most of Fox’s mysteries from the period it leans heavily on the charm of its actors rather than the ingenuity of its writing” 3 stars

“…benefits from a powerhouse supporting cast and the effectively moody cinematography of Glenn MacWilliams” 3 1/2 stars

“Alright, this wasn’t fantastic or gripping as a mystery, but it did make me laugh more than most comedies, so I did end up liking it. The abundant smugness was fun to watch by itself, and there were so many witty quips…and it was full of clothes-porn; I probably would have liked just watching it without the dialogue, or the dialogue without the movie. Basically, I liked pretty much everything about this. And the stork line, I copied that down.” 4 stars

“Ohh it was not good. Poor acting, uninteresting characters, and of course I don’t love the hysterical woman/suuuper-awk racial stereotyping…yikes.” 1 1/2 stars

Dressed to Kill is one of the most enjoyable ‘B’ movies I’ve ever seen. Lloyd Nolan is terrific as Michael Shayne, detective, and his supporting cast is superb to say the least. William Demarest is the best hapless police inspector this side of James Gleason, a youthful Henry Daniell plays a stuck up prig to perfection, Milton Parsons is a bad baddie, and we even get small turns from Mantan Moreland and Billy Benedict. The story is reasonably well written, fast paced, and a lot of fun.” 3 stars

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Bedazzled (1967)

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on November 23, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Stanley is too shy to admit he’s in love with his co-worker Margaret. He’s ready to give up and take his own life when the devil appears with a bargain. In exchange for his soul, Stanley makes seven wishes aimed at improving his life.

What people are saying:

“Here is a time capsule of ’60s era self-loathing and misogyny captured in brilliant comic form.” 4 stars

“This is one of my all time favorite films. From time to time, scenes and dialog from the film come to mind, and make me smile. To say that this film is a classic in its’ particular genre, Will sound cliche, but it really is. What I love about this film – 1) The acting is great, and Dudley Moore is at his comedic best. 2) The plot, really brings home some important truths about Human aspirations, but in a very humorous way. Lastly, I treasure this film so much, that if I were limited to a library of 20 or 30 films. I would have to include this one.” 4 stars

“…the duo’s best film, Bedazzled brought the spirit of Swinging London plus impudent pokes at religion, politics, and pop culture itself to their new audiences.” 4 stars

“I watched and enjoyed the Brendan Fraser version of this movie and then rented this one once I found out it existed. Ugh. While this old version gets credit for being the original, it is slow and terribly dated. Its clear why people thought they could remake the movie and improve upon it. I’m glad I watched it to know what it was, but while rewatching the Fraser remake is fun at times I would not be able to rewatch the original without thinking it was a chore.” 3 stars

“Despite the feel of a joke too long and a weak ending still a welcome addition to the pantheon of brit comedy. Cook has a roaring good time as George Spiggot, who is supposedly Beezlebub, Mr. Scratch, Mephistopheles, and Legion, (though he comes off as more of a prankster Puck) and he’s trying to get back into heaven with every dirty trick he can pull against lovelorn Dudley Moore a schmuck who sells his soul for the girl of his dreams (Eleanor Bron). Better than the remake, but you’ve heard that saying before, haven’t you?” 3 1/2 stars

The African Queen

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on November 15, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart), the booze-guzzling, rough-hewn captain of a broken-down East African riverboat, teams with a straitlaced, iron-willed missionary (Katharine Hepburn) to take on a menacing German gunboat during World War I.

What people are saying:

“This movie is in the DNA of rom-coms and buddy-cop comedies and fish-out-of-water tales and Indiana Jones (he bickers and fights Germans too! Plus, dirt beard!).” 5 stars

“Not a moment of film is wasted in this finely-crafted story of adventure and unlikely love. Humphrey Bogart is the drunken captain of the river-running heap, the African Queen. Katherine Hepburn is the prim spinster missionary he offers to take to safety when the Germans invade. Learning that there’s a huge German ship on the lake at the end of the river, Hepburn decides it’s their duty to destroy it – although no one has ever successfully navigated the river.” 5 stars

The African Queen breathes authenticity. Tumultuous at times but calmer at others, Bogart’s and Hepburn’s voyage on an African river is always an exciting adventure, surrounded by a colourful, luxuriant jungle. Yet, the brightness of Huston’s film also lies in the remarkable, contrasting pairing formed by the two stars. The African Queen is a very pleasant occasion to meet two of the most superb actors that Hollywood ever knew.” 4 stars

“I am not particularly fond of Katherine Hepburn and Bogart is not my favorite male cast in a romance. However, in this film, both excel to such a degree and the storyline was so good, that I couldn’t help but love the movie. It’s tough to cast older actors into a 1st-time romance, but the background of the story made it possible and realistic. The special effects were a bit flimsy as you might excpect for a 1951 movie, but overall, I felt like I was there. I appreciated the descrection between the two, making it a clean movie throughout. This is definitely an all-time classic and one of Bogart’s best” 4 1/2 stars

“Heard so much about this movie and have finally seen it. Excellent script, casting, portrayals, and cinematography. If anything, this could have been 20 minutes longer. Shows what effect a distant war can have when a few become patriotic – or romantic.” 4 1/2 stars

Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde

Posted in Classics, Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on October 26, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

An African-American scientist develops a formula to regenerate dying liver cells, but it has the unfortunate after-effect of turning him into an albino vampire with a mania for killing prostitutes. A tough police lieutenant investigating the murders discovers the existence of the dual-personality killer, and determines to bring him in.

What people are saying:

“Blaxploitation classic tells the story of Dr. Henry Pryde (Bernie Casey) who is working tirelessly to find a cure for liver disease. He develops a serum that shows potential but, he can’t perfect it without human experimentation. After a failed test on a dying woman, Henry decides to test the serum on himself. The result transforms the valiant doctor into a super strong, violent tempered… white man. Directed by Blacula‘s William Crain, this 70s horror treats it’s story with respect despite how silly it is and Crain, as with Blacula, gets good performances out of his cast that also includes Rosalind Cash (The Omega Man) and Marie O’Henry as Pryde’s love interest, a local hooker named Linda. Sadly, Larry LeBron’s script from an idea by Lawrence Woolner doesn’t nearly make as much use of the classic story it’s based on as did Blacula, nor is Crain able to give this film the Gothic flavor and style he did with that film. It’s pretty much a generic monster movie with Mr. Hyde stalking and killing Linda’s fellow hookers and their pimps and the police trying to find and stop the killer. The obvious blaxploitation elements are present but, seem a bit forced here as opposed to Blacula where they were just part of the characters and their life at that point in time. Still the film does have that 70s nostalgia and is worth a look for those interested in the blaxploitation era of filmmaking. Also noteworthy as, the Mr. Hyde make-up effects on Bernie Casey are by the legendary Stan Winston.” 2 1/2 stars

“Intriguing and entertaining, the film suggests — visually and thematically, if not in so many words — that being white causes a person to become aggressive, brutal and evil, and that the very state of whiteness is a state of corruption.” 3 1/2 stars

“The black Dr. Henry Pride (Bernie Casey) takes a formula that turns him into an evil white man. Here’s another blaxploitation film but this one here is actually pretty good thanks in large part to the very good performance by Casey. The film is over the top in every way possible from the non-stop Kung Fu fighting to the wonderfully funny pimp. The first scene where the evil white guy is about to get jumped by three hoods is priceless.”1 1/2 star

“We watched this on YouTube and found ourselves to be compelled by this ‘so bad it’s good’ 70s flick. Some of the acting in this film is near awful, LOL. (You will recognize the main character.) However, the storyline makes up for it. In addition, it has a funky soundtrack and some moments that are funny if you pay attention to all the little nuances and subtleties.” 3 1/2 stars

“Just so people realize, this film’s title is misspelled. Dr. Black & Mr. Hyde has a great trailer, but the movie itself could’ve been better. VERY strange to see Stan Winston, Johnny Pate, and Tak Fujimoto all worked on this movie, however. Crazy as hell. Fun for blaxploitation B-movie weirdness, and definitely better than Blackenstein. But it’s no Blacula.” 2 1/2 stars

The Beast Must Die

Posted in Classics, Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on October 24, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In this little horror film, a wealthy sportsman (Calvin Lockhart) invites a house full of guests to a big-game hunt that he’s devised. He’s sure that one of the guests is a werewolf, and he intends to stalk it, find it, and kill it. As a film viewer, you are alerted at the outset that a mystery awaits and that clues will be unveiled that can point to the identity of the werewolf. In fact, near the conclusion, the film has inserted a 30-second interlude during which you must decide, once and for all, who the hunted beast is. This film is based upon a story by James Blish titled There Shall Be No Darkness.

What people are saying:

“The non-anthology output of Amicus Productions tended to be hit-and-miss, but The Beast Must Die is an interesting if lightweight horror-mystery hybrid from the studio.” 3 stars

“The Beast Must Die is worth a look, as long as you enjoy unintentionally campy kitsch from the swinging 70s and werewolf myths.” 3 stars

“Unbelievably nonsensical, this film has two things (only two) going for it: a cast that’s game, and the “Werewolf Break,” an absurd concept that is, somehow, kind of cool.” 2 stars

“this film is just fantastic. it’s about five genres within one – a blaxploitation, an exploitation, a lowbudget, made for television-looking, british, mystery, werewolf movie. that itself is quite the feat. and on top of it all, it has a werewolf break. perhaps the most genius idea in the history of cinema, they tell you at the beginning that, right before the end of the film, they will pause everything so that you, the audience, can spend thirty seconds finalizing your guess as to who the werewolf is. this is pure camp fun. watch this with friends and you are guaranteed a great time.” 4 1/2 stars

“Undemanding and completely silly fun where the audience is asked towards the end to guess the identity of the werewolf. A hopeless lead with an equally hopeless gun aim is determined to find out which of his guests are a furry killer. Dig that score too, no atmospheric chills here, the emphasis is on funky percussion! Big dumb fun.” 2 1/2 stars

The Wayward Bus

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on October 24, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

This drama was adapted from a novel by John Steinbeck and chronicles a fateful bus ride. Much of the tale centers around the interactions between the passengers and the driver as he attempts to safely navigate the bus through a series of potentially dangerous storms.

What people are saying:

“Rather good adaptation of the Steinbeck novel although Victor Vicas’ direction is somehow nondescript, but the film is worth seeing for its cast. Jayne Mansfield was a good actress and she shows it in this unglamourous role.” 4 stars

A motley group of passengers travel in a rundown bus from a small bus stop town called Rebel Corners to San Juan De La Cruz, another small town but with a mission that attracts tourists. The journey proves quite intense, both physically (landslides, floods) and emotionally (romance and conflict). Based on a lesser John Steinbeck novel, the film plays out like one of those 1970s disaster films: a group of disparate characters are thrown together as fate toys with them and by the end of the journey, they’ve all learned a lesson. The execution is rather trite and, as written, the script doesn’t deal a fair hand to its cast. The 23 year old Joan Collins looking quite lovely is hopelessly miscast. Clearly, the role was written for an older woman (probably late 30s) whose looks are fading and has turned to booze. The part cries out for a Jan Sterling or Ann Sothern. Jayne Mansfield as a stripper involved in a tabloid scandal surprisingly gives the film’s best performance. The film could have used more grit instead of polish.” 3 stars

“You would expect a total bitchfest with a movie starring both legendary bombshell Jayne Mansfield and soap opera diva Joan Collins….but what you get is a fascinating film based on the John Steinbeck novel of a bus driver and his passengers and their adventures as they get detoured and sidetracked…both on the bus and in life. Joan Collins is the wife of driver Rick Jason (so gorgeous). It’s a small and run down little bus that makes side trips. Joan Collins is the owner of a little restaurant who likes the bottle a bit too much. Unhappy with what has become of her life, she decides to “surprise” husband Jason mid-way through his bus trip. Jayne Mansfield is the shamed burlesque dancer on the way to a heavy paying gig in San Juan and gets caught up in the flirtation by a traveling salesman, played by Dan Dailey. Delores Pritchard gives a great performance as the “fast” daughter traveling with her parents on this trip” 5 stars

“This is not a terrible movie, but I would not recommend it if you’re looking for a classic Steinbeck story. The book was a fascinated nuanced look into how people perceive themselves and others, often wrongly. A big part of the book was exploring the thoughts of the various characters as they are judging each other silently (or openly!). All of this in a story of a crowd of completely different people stuck on a bus. Making a movie of the book must have been a hard task, and it seems like they opted to go for streamlined versions of the characters, focusing on the melodramatic aspects of the book. However, without the thought of the characters explaining the motivations behind their actions, the movie ends up being about Thing Happening. Because there’s such an ensemble of characters involved, you only briefly get to know each character. I know I’m judging this movie a bit harshly, and it’s unfair to hold the movie up against the book – after all, the book is (almost) always better. But when the movie misses the point of the book and only keeps the uppermost layer of it, it’s doing itself (and the book) a great injustice.” 3 stars

“Well done! This is 1957 black & white movie and it has everything! Thrill, comedy, romance, danger, action, sad, shock and surprise!” 5 stars

The Third Man

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , on September 26, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

American writer, Holly Martins, arrives in post-war Vienna to visit his old friend Harry Lime. On arrival, he learns that his friend has been killed in a street accident, but also that Lime was a black marketer wanted by the police.

What people are saying:

“…an exemplary piece of moviemaking, highlighting the ruins of World War II and juxtaposing it with the characters’ own damaged histories” 4 stars

“A lot funnier than you remember it, Carol Reed’s immortal 1949 film noir seems to exist in the space between two worlds: an earlier time when thrillers were mostly serious affairs, and a future one, when such supremely witty entertainments felt passé.” 5 stars

“Boasted tremendously by a great performance from Orson Welles, The Third Man is an entertaining classic with some cool twists and turns, even though a well-verse modern film fan will find those twists to be extremely predictable.” 4 stars

“The Third Man is one of the finest noir mysteries to come out of the ’40s, however it suffers a bit from its imitators and you’ll be able to predict the big reveal LONG before it arrives. The film stars Joseph Cotten, who I was unfamiliar with, as a pulp fiction writer who travels to Vienna to visit an old friend and is astonished to find that he was accidentally killed a few days prior; or was it murder? The film plays out patiently, as our protagonist begins to dig into what exactly happened to his friend and the mystery elements truly shine, especially when he receives different accounts of what took place in the automobile “accident”. The film also stars Orson Welles as the aforementioned friend, Harry Lime, who receives top billing though he is maybe on-screen for 8 minutes total: which leads into my big problem with this film. Without spoiling too much, the reveal that arrives at about the one hour mark is masterfully done and one of the film’s more iconic scenes, but we’re never given any explanation as to what the motive was and it feels like the filmmakers were trying to be so clever, they didn’t worry about the scenario making sense. The film also incorporates a stringed instrument called a zither to score the music and while I can tell they were going for something unique, the sound is too absurd, especially in the more dramatic scenes, and the music actually sounds identical to the music used in SpongeBob SquarePants! Overall, this is an exceptionally-made film that still holds up today, but there are some questionable moments that stood out to me and it suffers a bit from what’s come out since.” 3 1/2 stars

“Delightful in how it uses the camera and its city to manipulate the viewer’s experience of the story, The Third Man is the height of the cinematic thriller, mainly because it rejects most of what makes a good thriller. Our villain is not exactly frightening and our crimes aren’t exactly disturbing as they are ingenious. In a sense, The Third Man is a tale about someone being forced to acknowledge an inconvenient truth, or a new world or idea. Dazzling music and compelling cinematography aside, really its the films final shot that the viewer will remember. Its the conversations on park rides and the excruciating nature of learning a negative thing about someone that you love and trust.” 4 1/2 stars