Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Well, there are lots of suspects, lots of side stories, and even a little humor. In fact, think The Thin Man, minus the missus. And much of the humor. Between 1929 and 1947 there were sixteen Philo Vance mysteries made, five of the first six with Powell in the title role. This was his last. Only two other actors made more than one (two each).
Throughout the movie I couldn't help but think this was Thin Man light. He even had a dog. But don't be fooled. No Myrna Loy and a weaker story. Mary Astor is no replacement. Still, not bad. Especially after watching a Charlie Chan movie. Those aren't mysteries as much as "guess the bad guy" games. I liked it and give it an AMRU 3. It's the only one available on Netflix and I'm not going too far out of my way to find more.
So, who is Philo Vance? He's a character in several S. S. Van Dine mystery novels. He is referred on Wikipedia as "stylish, even foppish dandy, a New York bon vivant possessing a highly intellectual bent." Writer Raymond Chandler referred to him as "the most asinine character in detective fiction." High praise indeed. Luckily, William Powell played him a little more, ahem, strait.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
A couple years ago I started The Beast of Yucca Flats from my Treeline collection and I had to turn it off. I like bad films. I can tolerate many flaws. And I've stuck out movies with no redeeming value (Gore Gore Girls, Killers from Space). But I couldn't finish The Beast.
"Flag on the moon. How did it get there?"
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Rich widow Christine thinks she hears her dead husband calling her from the beach. She goes to investigate when she meets up with the Amazing Mr. X! Alexis, that is. I don't think they ever called him Mr. X anywhere in the film. It seems that Alexis knows much that is hidden. Christine is intrigued. She goes to visit Alexis for a reading. Seems he's a spiritualist.
Martin, Christine's fulling living boyfriend, is skeptical of this charlatan, and enlists the help of Janet, Christine's hottie little sister. Unfortunately, Janet isn't even as smart as Christine and also falls for Alexis' shtick. The cops tell Martin that Alexis is wanted in several states under a variety of names for swindling distraught widows.
Carole Landis was set to play the lead but decided to off herself instead. The older and less attractive Lynn Bari was cast instead. Sis Janet was played by Cathy O'Donnell, who overcame her bad acting handicap through sheer force of hotness and managed a fairly respectable career. Her film career ranged from The Best Years of our Lives to Ben-Hur. Not bad for talentless eye candy. Christine's frustrated boyfriend is played by old friend Richard Carlson, whom you may remember from Flat Top, Creature from the Black Lagoon and It Came from Outer Space.
But today I want to focus on the career of Turhan Bey, Mister X himself. Throughout the 1940's he made himself a career playing mystical, magical, mysterious characters from the East. Then, like so many pretty faces in Hollywood, he turned 30 and was shown the proverbial door. He made a minor comeback doing TV in the 90's. His last role was as an angel in The Skateboard Kid II. He turned 89 last Wednesday.
I would categorize this movie as Thriller. IMDB uses Film-Noir and Horror, both of which I disagree with. It was on my Treeline horror collection, but I don't think it fits. I suppose I'll classify it as a mystery. Slow pace, uneven acting, low budget, and bad film quality, it turns out that it wasn't too bad. Fairly OK, in fact. Somewhat forgettable, but I'm still glad I saw it. AMRU 3.