Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Women in Cages (1971)

We have women, and they are in cages. But the title leaves so many unanswered question. For instance, what are they wearing? Not much, it turns out.

Did I really watch this? Yea, I did. I recently watched two documentaries about exploitation movies (American Grindhouse and Machete Maidens Unleashed!) and both mentioned this gem. Had to give it a try.

Dumb chick is set up by her boyfriend, who promises to get her out of prison. Actually, he wants to silence her so she can't testify against him. After several bouts of torture from the sadistic Alabama (Pam Grier) who was from Harlem, she decides to escape. Will her cellmates help? Gosh, I hope everything turns out ok.

Check your modesty and acting skills at the door. Of course Roger Corman was involved. This movie succeeds if you enjoy watching scantily clad (and non-clad) women being tortured. Big fan of the former, not so much for the latter. Luckily, the "violence" part of the show is hard to take seriously.

All in all, very skipable movie. Both documentaries were quite enlightening about this kind of movie and were far more entertaining. I had to watch Cages over three days. Continuity was not terribly important. AMRU 2.5. I'm being generous.
"This is going to be just like home, only different!"

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Lady Eve (1941)

A cruse ship picks up Charles Pike (Henry Fonda), the socially awkward heir to the Pike's Ale fortune, who was in South American to study snakes. He's not much into the brew, you see. Con artist Jean (Barbara Stanwyck) sets out to fleece him. Things become complicated when she starts to fall for him. Anything more would encroach upon spoilage.

My first Stanwyck movie, and I have to say, not the total babe I was expecting. Better than fair no doubt, but not the hottie of legend. Later in life she would be the matriarch in The Big Valley, a favorite of my youth. Have to see an episode now. Back then my eyes wandered towards the young Linda Evans, not the oldie. Not on Netflix. I'll check Amazon Prime ...

Not much else to say. really. Fonda's on screen dad was Eugene Pallette, the dad from My Man Godfrey, doing basically the same character. The caretaker looking after Fonda was played by William Demarest, better known by me as Uncle Charlie from My Three Sons. I knew I recognized that voice.

Fairly complex plot, great script, and top notch acting, especially for a romantic comedy. The dialog had a very His Girl Friday quality about it and a second viewing would not be wasted. AMRU 3.5.
"Positively the same dame!"

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dick Tracy (1945)

City detective Tracy (Morgan Conway) is investigating several murders that follow the same M.O. but otherwise do not appear connected. Tess Trueheart (Anne Jeffreys) is his frustrated and hungry girlfriend. Nuff said.

I added a few Roku channels and when checking them out took a closer look at Pub-D-Hub. I know, awful name. Still, it had a large collection of public domain movies that might prove interesting. Dick Tracy was one of the first. I had no intent on watching the whole thing, I was just curious what it was like. I ended up seeing it all, and it turns out it wasn't at all what I expected.

What? No radio watches? No flying trash cans? It did have a gangster villain with a weird name (Splitface, he had a scar across his face, you see) but that was it. Really it was a kid-friendly detective movie. That's all. This is the first of four in a series of Tracy on the big screen. After the second they totally recast the lot. Hate it when they do that.

So, back to Jeffreys. Maybe you remember her from a series of very low budget and forgettable movies throughout the forties. No? Or maybe you remember her from various TV appearances during the fifties and sixties? No? How about from crappy reoccurring characters in the seventies, eighties, and nineties? Never at a loss for work, the ninety year old broad is appearing in a film opening NEXT year. Have to respect that.

Well, I enjoyed Dick Tracy. Not overly spectacular. Mediocre acting but the story held my interest, and at just over an hour, pleasantly brief. AMRU 3.

Back to Pub-D-Hub. It stands for Public Domain Hub, and they offer a PREMIUM service for a whopping two big ones. That is, two bucks. A year. After Dick Tracy, I decided they deserved the two dollars and subscribed. I wanted the Roku so that I could watch Neflix in my bedroom. With content like this, I want another for the living room.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Blue Angel (1930)

Or, more accurately, Der blaue Engel, as it was the German version I watched.

When unpopular prep school professor (Emil Jannings) learns that some of his students are visiting a cabaret to see a singer (Marlene Dietrich), he visits to catch them in the act. But it's the professor who falls for Lola Lola, and so begins his downfall.

Since Witness for the Prosecution, I've wanted to see something else by the old transvestite. Although it was really a vehicle for Jannings and his quirky mannerisms, this is the film that made her a star. She was the object of desire that the men, and boys, revolved around. She sang her signature song, Falling in Love Again, and hearing it in German was quite jarring. But then again, what isn't in that language.

Dietrich is an interesting study. She was an iconic actress, but not a terribly good one. She was a sex symbol, but nothing special to look at. Had many lovers, but few friends. This movie was banned by the Nazi party, but was a favorite of Hitler's.

The makers filmed the movie twice, once in the native German and again for English audiences. For the English version Marlene learned her lines phonetically and, oddly, spoke without accent. In this version she spoke lyrically and without the Dietrich affection ("I'm so tired ..."). Until her song, at least. I would have preferred the English version so that I could look at the actors rather than the words at the bottom of the screen.

The story, the downfall of a foolish man of some reputation, was well executed. Were it an American movie and the media in better shape, it would be regarded as a top notch film. For my purposes, AMRU 3.5.

Hey, look! The entire move is available on YouTube! That can't be legal!