Category Archives: Classic Movies

The Kennel Murder Case (1933) Movie Review

The Kennel Murder Case (1933)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Series: a Philo Vance movie
Starring: William Powell, Mary Astor, Eugene Pallette, Ralph Morgan, Robert McWade
Director: Michael Curtiz
Release Date: 28 January 1933
Language: English
Length: 73 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: Online Streaming
My Rating: image_thumb83_thumb1_thumb

Synopsis:

Millionaire Archer Coe (Robert Barrat) has been found dead in a locked room.  The police believe his death was suicide, but private investigator Philo Vance (William Powell) is sure that it was murder.  When the coroner discovers that Archer was struck on the head with a blunt object, stabbed and then shot, it is pretty obvious that Archer did not commit suicide.  There is no shortage of suspects who wanted Archer dead, but how did they lock the room from the inside?

Review:

Philo Vance (William Powell) is a suave, sophisticated private investigator with a keen eye for observation.  Surprisingly enough, Vance is well-liked and William Powell as Philo Vancerespected by the police force.  Detective Heath (Eugene Pallette) doesn’t make a move without checking with Vance first.  This may be because Vance is wealthier and smarter, but they actually made a pretty good team together.  Heath spends most of the movie jumping to the wrong conclusion, but Vance is always on hand to set him straight.  The mystery that these two are trying to solve is absolutely fascinating.  First of all, there is the question of how the murderer gotDead in a Locked Room into the room with Archer when the door is locked from the inside.  Secondly, who tried to murder Archer first?  Was the blow to the head, the knife wound or the bullet that killed him?  Thirdly, how do dogs and a priceless Chinese collection tie into the murder?  There are a lot of details, a lot of suspects and some great clues laid out for the viewer.  I thoroughly enjoyed trying to solve the case along with Vance, but I would not have been able to do it without him!

Eugene Pallette was a delight to watch as the detective in charge of investigation. Eugene Pallette as Detective Heath He is a good-old-boy who accepts everything at face value, but was really likeable.  Eugene Pallette really disappears into his role so I can see why he starred in so many movies as a character actor!  William Powell was absolutely charming as Philo Vance.  Handsome, wealthy and single, I was a bit surprised to see that no women in the movie were hitting on him.  Granted, Scottie Dogmost of the women in the movie seemed to have boyfriends, fiancés, spouses or all of the above, but still, where was the flirtation?!  The rest of the cast got a bit jumbled up for me.  There are a lot of suspects and they all have different movies.  In addition to the humans, we also get to see their dogs, which was great!  Philo Vance has an adorable Scottie dog as his show dog and there are many other breeds featured in the movie.  One of the dogs even helps solve the mystery!

This is a classic black-and-white movie shot in an older style, but it is still very Butler Looking Suspicious (Arthur Hohl)enjoyable.  I am really impressed that the director and writers were able to squeeze such a complicated plot into such a short time frame and am wondering when we lost the art of making movies like this?  I know that Hollywood says that viewers aren’t interesting in thinking or solving complicated mysteries while they are watching movies, but I A Group of Suspectsdisagree.  I think that people enjoy being involved in mysteries that have an actual solution, not some mystical open-ended fade-into-the-sunset ending like we see these days.  Not sure if you will like it? – check out the entire movie by watching the video above.  Be advised that the film is a little grainy and the sound quality isn’t the best, but the story sucked me in and I couldn’t wait to see whodunnit!

One of the other aspects I enjoyed about the movie was the old-fashioned investigating.  You get to see telephone operators connecting lines with their manual plugs, rotary phones, books being searched for information, etc.  I am sure that most younger viewers (if you can persuade them to watch a black-and-white movie with you) will have no idea what half of this stuff is!  This was a real blast from the past to see old-fashioned detective work and it really added to the enjoyment factor.  If you are looking for a concise mystery that will test your mettle to solve a classic locked-room mystery, The Kennel Murder Case is the one for you.  I am definitely looking forward to watching and reading more about private investigator Philo Vance!

Content:

This movie contains a couple of murders and victims are shot, stabbed, hit over the head and attacked by dogs.  Characters cheat on spouses and boyfriends/girlfriends.  There are scenes of alcohol drinking and smoking.  There are some scenes with fighting and verbal arguments.  A dog is murdered and found in the alley.  Recommended for ages 10 and up.

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Filed under Classic Movies, Mystery Movies

Last Holiday (1950) Movie Review

Last Holiday (1950)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Alec Guinness, Beatrice Campbell, Kay Walsh, Grégoire Aslan, Jean Colin
Director: Henry Cass
Release Date: 13 November 1950
Language: English
Length: 88 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Rating: image_thumb84_thumb1

Synopsis:

When George Bird (Alec Guinness) is diagnosed with Lampington’s Disease, he learns he only has a few months to live.  George quits his job, cashes out his bank account and heads to a ritzy resort village to stay in a grand hotel until he dies or his money runs out.  Determined to avoid pity, George keeps his condition a secret.  And since he has nothing to lose, George is completely honest with his fellow vacationers.  Ironically, now that he is dying, George discovers that a whole new world of professional and personal opportunities are opening up to him…

Review:

I loved the Queen Latifah remake of this movie so I decided to check out the original and I am glad that I did!  Last Holiday is billed as a black comedy, but I George at Dinnerdidn’t find it as funny as the remake.  Instead, this black-and-white version is much more thoughtful and bittersweet.  It raised the question in my mind of what I would do if I was in George Bird’s position?  How would I choose to spend the last couple of months or weeks of my life if I discovered I was dying and could not be healed?  George’s answer was to go and live out the rest of his days among the wealthy and elite and to experience how the other half lives.  I believe that he made his choice based on his lack of friends and family, which is really sad.  I think that George would have chosen to stay among loved ones rather than strangers, but he didn’t have any in this movie so that wasn’t really a choice.  So, step one, make sure that have family – tied by blood or by bonds of friendship – to spend your last days with.

Step two, be yourself and be honest with those around you.  We spend so much of our lives telling little white lies to others and to ourselves.  I know that I live Mrs. Poole Does Goerge's Tiebeneath my potential and George definitely did.  When George quits his job, he learns how valuable he is to the company where he sells farming equipment.  His boss offers him a huge raise to stay, but the money no longer means anything to George.  At the resort, George inspires an idealess inventor to improve on some farming equipment; motivates a war hero and his beautiful wife to make an honest living rather than sponging off of others and participating in get-rich-quick schemes; rallies the spoiled residents to cover for the staff while they are striking; introduces a low-class American millionaire and The Last Holiday (1950)</p><p>Directed by Henry Cass</p><p>Shown: Alec Guinness, Beatrice Campbellhis girlfriend into the wealthy upper-class circle at the hotel; and protects the employees from the demanding guests.  George had this wonderful ability to help people without offending and sometime without really saying anything at all.  I think that we all have this potential in us, but we don’t know when or how to use it.  I know that I am too afraid to say what I really think all of the time and do not always give the best advice because I am more concerned about how it will reflect on me rather than will it really help someone else.  Also, George didn’t just give advice, he gave money, time and whatever else was needed to make those around him happier and better people.

Step three, be mysterious and don’t let anyone know that you are at the end of your life.  It was really sad to note that, at the end of the movie, when we know that George is no longer dying, that everyone else at the hotel immediately starts The Last Suppertearing him down.  There is no longer that mysterious “something special” about George and he becomes just like everyone else.  Of course, the message here is that we all are special, but we believe everyone else when they say we are not.  I do buy into the mysterious aspect, however, as everyone is a bit more interesting when you don’t know them too well.  Uncover someone’s secrets and there is no longer anything new to discover so keep a few surprises tucked away.  George was still just as fascinating and kind and capable as he was when he thought he was dying, but everyone else did their best to pull him down.  I confess that I teared up at the end of the movie and you should be prepared to cry to as the ending was not at all what I expected!

Ultimately, I really enjoyed Last Holiday.  I found it to be a well-acted, thoughtful movie about our choices in life.  I loved its old-fashioned feel and felt like I got a peek into the past.  This version is in black and white and the characters are wearing gorgeous clothing from the 1950s.  The wealthy are George Wondersincredibly snobbish and carelessly cruel while the workers are easy to relate to and fun to get to know.  The actors did a fine job in their roles and the script itself was wonderful.  It is a pity that this movie hasn’t been given a face lift as the feedback from the sound was kind of distracting.  Other than that, the picture is crisp and clear and the audio is easy to understand.  I laughed and cried as George tried to solve the riddle of “how do you keep smiling with a stiff upper lip?” while living out the last period of his life with grace, dignity and a charitable spirit towards the rest of mankind.  With some little laughs and a lot of thought-provoking moments, Last Holiday will be sure to surprise and delight all who see it.

Content:

This movie contains some drinking of alcohol and smoking.  There are characters who indulge in extra-marital affairs and illegal activities, such as smuggling and theft.  Characters gamble including playing poker and betting on the horse races.  Recommended for ages 8 and up.

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Filed under Classic Movies, Drama Movies

Hans Christian Andersen (1952) Movie Review

Hans Christian Andersen

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Danny Kaye, Farley Granger, Zizi Jeanmaire, Joseph Walsh, Philip Tonge
Director: Charles Vidor
Release Date: 25 November 1952
Language: English
Length: 110 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Rating:   image_thumb85_thumb1_thumb

Synopsis:

“Once upon a time there lived in Denmark a great storyteller named Hans Christian Andersen. This is not the story of his life, but a fairy tale about the great spinner of fairy tales.”  Danny Kaye stars as famed storyteller Hans Christian Andersen in this charming fictionalized biopic that blends music, romance, comedy and fantasy to trace the life of Denmark’s literary hero; a small-town shoemaker with a knack for spinning yarns.” — Netflix.com

Review:

I love Danny Kaye.  He is so funny and so charming in his movies that it is impossible not to fall in love with him and his characters on screen.  I can remember watching Hans Christian Andersen as a little girl and laughing at the songs and being spellbound by the ballets. This movie is Danny Kaye Singing About the Emperor's New Clothesan old-fashioned musical that creates a new fairy tale about Hans Christian Andersen, who wrote so many of the fairy tales we know and love today.  “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “Thumbelina” and “The Ugly Duckling” all have enchanting songs that help tell the story in this movie.  Everyone will be sure to laugh at the king who finds himself “in the altogether” and find their self-esteem boosted as they sing the song about the Ugly Duckling.  “The Little Mermaid” is turned into a ballet and is shown in a fairly long sequence towards the end as one ofHans Christian Andersen’s most popular stories.  There are a few new stories created for this movie that are shared with us in pieces including a clock whose two hands were in love with the third and a chalk and chalkboard arguing about who was most important.  Alas, these stories were not fully written so we still don’t know what happened!

The movie is filmed in a kind of fairy-tale world.  Some of the colors are ultra-bright and all of the sets are a bit fantastical.  The costumes are quite lovely and the dancers show quite a few numbers with multiple Hans Christians Andersen's Fairy Tale Feelcostumes.  Naturally, everyone breaks into song and dance on a whim and you can be sure that an ensemble number is right around the corner!  The music is lovely and the acting is quite good, but there were some aspects of the plot that I did not care for.  The ballerina (Zizi Jeanmaire) and her husband, (Farley Granger), are a gorgeous artistic couple.  She is the prima ballerina and he is the choreographer and ballet Hans, the Ballerina & Her Husbandmaster.  Sparks fly on and off the stage.  The couple is clearly in love, but they also fight all the time.  This includes physical slapping, pushing, and violent verbal arguments, which always jolted me out of the fairy-tale quality of the story.  I also felt sorry for Hans Christian Andersen (Danny Kaye) who fell in love with the ballerina and was naive enough to think that she returned his love.  Poor Peter (Joseph Walsh) did his best to help Hans see the world as it really was, but Hans really did live in a world of his own.

Though this movie is old, it has retained much of its charm and still looks and sounds great.  Even though I have seen it multiple times, I still cannot help but laugh with the children as Hans tells his tales, sway along with “Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen” (you can hear this song on the video above) and get swept up in the imaginary romance between Hans and the ballerina.  If you enjoy musicals, be sure not to miss out on Hans Christian Andersen!

Content:

This movie shows some scenes of physical and emotional abuse between spouses.  They slap each other and call each other names, push and shove each other around, etc.  It is portrayed as part of a feisty, artistic temperament, but can be disturbing for some viewers as no one in the movie acts like it is wrong.  Other than that, the movie is clean and appropriate for viewers of all ages.  Recommended for ages 5 and up.

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Filed under Children & Family Movies, Classic Movies, Musicals

The Baroness and the Butler (1938) Movie Review

The Baroness and the Butler (1938)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: William Powell, Annabella, Helen Westley, Henry Stephenson, Joseph Schildkraut
Director: Walter Lang
Release Date: 18 February 1938
Language: English
Length: 80 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: TV
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis:

Johann Porok (William Powell) is the proud butler for the Count (Henry Stephenson) and Countess Sandor (Helen Westley) in Hungary, where the Count was Prime Minister.  The family is shocked when Johann is elected to Parliament, as a member of the opposing party.  The Count does not mind that Johann ridicules him and questions his political leanings, but it infuriates his daughter, Katrina (Annabella).  Katrina is convinced that Johann is using his position in her father’s household to pry out government secrets and that he is humiliating a wonderful man.  Can Johann hold onto a job and the people he loves or will he be forced to chose between what them and what he believes to be true?

Review:

This is a charming little movie.  Of course, it is completely predictable and has a completely unbelievable Hollywood ending, but I still enjoyed watching it.  The setting is turn-of-the-century Hungary.  The aristocracy still hold most of the power in government, but the lower classes are determined to get some rights and enough food to eat.  Men were gentlemen, Baroness and the Butler Movie Stilldressed in suits and exceptionally polite, even when they disagreed.  Conversation was witty, full of sly, subtle barbs and cheeky little one liners.  The women were ladies, garbed in gorgeous, impractical confections and deferring to the men.  There was a strict social order that must be obeyed and a wide rift between those who had and those who had not.  Servants in a wealthy household knew the social ranking of the different titles and enforced a strict hierarchy among their own positions.  The butler ruled the household and was responsible for every detail of the house and grounds.  Meetings with the entire staff were essential to a smooth, controlled household and Johann Porok’s character is no exception.

William Powell portrayed his character as the perfect butler and really excelled in this William Powellposition.  I did not find him quite as believable in his role as a an intelligent, educated man elected to head of his political party.  Johann Porok could have been an interesting, layered character, but he really is not.  I really enjoyed the first part of the film where Porok is trying to balance his role as butler, keeping the Count well groomed and taken care of, more than the last part where Porok is trying to put his past as a servant behind him and become a man in his own right.  I do not believe that a man who has been brought up to be the perfect servant and performed that task for over a decade could so easily shed his background and be ready to enter society as an equal to those whom he used to serve.  However, I did love that William Powell imbued his character with an innate nobility and managed to convey the impression that no job is too lowly to perform to the best of one’s ability.  Annabella plays his romantic counterpart as the Baroness Katrina Marissey.  I did not particularly care for her character.  She was a rather shallow, Annabellaspoiled little rich girl.  She did manage some sparks with William Powell, but I found her to be unconvincing in some critical scenes, including the one where she falls in love with Porok.  Still, she was adequate, but a bit uninspiring.  Her real-life Hollywood story was much more romantic and interesting than she was in this movie.  But her performance did not bother me as much as the fact that she was married while this romance developed.  I mean, I never once believed that these two would get together (though the screenwriters managed to write in some Hollywood miracles into the script to make it so), but I still found it very distasteful that marriages vows were treated so lightly in the movie.  Her husband, Baron Georg Marissey, is played rather predictably and rather forgettably by Joseph Schildkraut.

The reason why I gave the movie a higher than average rating was because of the performance of two old pros who starred in this movie as the Count and Countess.  Henry Henry StephensonStephenson played Count Albert Sandor and he was just so charming in this role.  An old aristocrat, he is used to things being just so and has no hesitation about demanding rather unusual things.  What I loved is that he gave the Count a great deal of wit and humor in his portrayal.  There is a scene where Porok is assisting the Count while hunting and tries to convince the Count that there is a mysterious echo that comes and goes.  The Count later remarks that he is much more successful when he hunts with Porok than without.  There are several little charming scenes between the two of them that will bring a smileHelen Westley to your face as you watch.  However, the real star of this movies is Helen Westley, who plays Countess Sandor.  She was absolutely hilarious!  The Countess is a rather featherbrained woman who has no interest in politics other than what she needs to know to show support for her husband.  Because of this, she misunderstands quite a bit of what is going on around her and has some of the most hilarious reactions and non sequiturs in the entire film!  It is worth watching this movie just to see the few scenes she sparkles so magnificently in!

All in all, this is a old black-and-white movie that will be remembered and beloved by a rather small audience.  I stumbled across it on TCM one night and found myself rather charmed by it.  Again, the storyline is completely absurd, but there are some scenes that are rather enchanting.  I wish that the movie had a different ending, as it was so fantastical that it was completely unbelievable, but it is one of those happily-ever-after endings that we don’t see too many of these days.  I believe that this movie is worth catching if you find it on TV, but this movie is not yet out on DVD and I am not sure that it ever will be.

Content:

This movie contains a few scenes of drinking and smoking.  There are a lot of political discussions and references to class inequality.  Recommended for ages 8 and up.

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Filed under Classic Movies, Comedy Movies, Historical Movies, Romance Movies, Romantic Comedy Movies

Classic Christmas Cartoons (2002) Movie Review

Classic Christmas Cartoons (2002)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Various
Director: Various
Release Date: 1930s & 1940s
Language: English
Length: 69 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: Streaming Online
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis:

“Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – This is the classic edition of Rudolph that I have seen many times before.  It is not the Rankin-Bass version (which is my favorite), but this is pretty much the best Rudolph cartoon if you are looking for something short that sticks close to the original story as printed back in the day.  Children the world over love Rudolph and I think everyone will love this cartoon!

“Santa’s Surprise” – A bunch of kids stow away in Santa’s sleigh from all around the world.  They think that Santa’s home will be a magical place so they are shocked when they see that Santa’s home is a mess and his clothes are threadbare!  Santa helps everyone else, but who helps Santa?  So they decide to surprise him and clean up and give him a little gift for Christmas.  This cartoon was really cute, but you would never get away with these racial stereotypes today!  Each country is represented in a very exaggerated manner that, while still cute and funny, could be offensive to some.  My favorite was the little Dutch boy with the wooden shoes.  All of the children are trying to be quiet so they don’t wake Santa, but his shoes are so big and loud that he keeps making tons of noise and getting himself into trouble.

“Christmas Comes But Once a Year” – The orphans are thrilled to wake up Christmas morning and realize that there are new toys under the tree for all of them – until they break the toy they were given after playing with it once.  Instead of the sounds of childish laughter, there is only the sound of sobs until an crackpot inventor hears their cries as he is wandering by.  The inventor sneaks into the orphanage and manages to create a magical Christmas using common household items.  This was one of my favorite cartoons on the DVD as it shows that, with a bit of ingenuity (not to the extent of the inventor, of course, as who can make stuff like that?!) and love, anyone can make Christmas memorable for others.

“Snow Foolin’” – What if animals needed to prepare for winter just like people?  This silly cartoon shows different animals putting on their winter fur coats, having a snow ball fight, ice skating, sledding, skiing, and more!  By pulling in all kinds of different animals, the animators really made this cartoon fun.  Hippos form a fiercesome bobsled team, a stork only needs one ice skate as he keeps one leg up at all times, an elephant uses his trunk to shoot snowballs out at a rapidfire pace, etc.  This cartoon also features a sing-a-long version of “Jingle Bells” that kids will be sure to enjoy.

“Hector’s Hectic Life” – Poor Hector the dog is always getting in trouble at home.  He sleeps on the bed, makes noise and knocks things over.  He knows that he has to be better or he will be thrown out into the cold!  But three little mischievous puppies make Hector’s life even more difficult!  Can Hector clean up after the puppies fast enough that no one notices they are there?  This was a fun cartoon to watch as the troublemaker, Hector, soon realizes how much extra effort it is to try and take care of and watch someone else.  Both parents and children will enjoy and appreciate this cartoon as everyone has someone to identify with!

“Jack Frost” – Little Bear thinks that he is being mistreated by his mother, who forces him to come in and go to sleep for the winter.  He sneaks out, positive that his coat is so thick and furry that winter will be no problem for him!  This is a good reminder to all of us that, no matter how independent and prepared we think we are, there are surprises around every corner and Mother Nature doesn’t mess around!  There is a cute little song in here that Little Bear keeps singing and some wonderful scenes of fall and winter.  Children will enjoy the little bear’s adventures and parents will appreciate the little lesson that their children are learning

“The Shanty Where Santa Claus Lives” – Santa takes a poor little boy with no home back to his workshop to play with the toys.  Most of this cartoon is spent showing all of the different toys and what they can do, but there are some upbeat, jazzy songs in here and plenty to make everyone smile.  This is an older black-and-white cartoon that made me think of the Great Depression and its aftermath.  After going through about 20 years of want, this cartoon is like a child’s dream come to life.  What child wouldn’t want to be taken away by Santa and get to play with every kind of toy imaginable?

“Somewhere in Dreamland” – Two small children struggle to help their poor mother make ends meet.  They collect wood and try to be satisfied with the small amount of food their mother can provide.  Their life is hard, but in their dreams they have the most wonderful adventures in Dreamland!  But how will the children react when three kindly shopkeepers make Dreamland a reality?  This was a cute cartoon that reminded me of childhood dreams.  Who wouldn’t want to travel to a world of sweets and fun?

“The Night Before Christmas” – This is a life action illustration of the classic Christmas poem.  This black-and-white short feature may not appeal to small children, but Santa and his reindeer are in it and it is always nice to hear this poem recited around Christmastime.  The acting is a bit hammy in this feature, but it was still fun to listen to and they had some lovely music playing while the actors went about and the narrator read the poem aloud.

Review:

These cartoons represent a bygone era when animators didn’t worry about being politically correct, not hurting people’s feelings, violence in children’s entertainment or pretty much anything else other than making whatever cartoons they wanted.  The music and styling is very much set in the 1930s and 1940s and it was a lot of fun for me to see some old favorites and for me to watch some “brand new” cartoons (I hadn’t seen a lot of these cartoons before!).  This is a great set to pull out for kids who feel like they have seen everything or for a fun family night of entertainment.  Grandparents will probably feel like they have stepped back in time to watch the cartoons of their youth, parents may remember some of the cartoons like I did and children cannot seem to ever get enough of Christmas cartoons – especially ones they haven’t seen before!  Another interesting note is that there is really not very much talking in these cartoons.  There is some narration on a few of the more story-driven cartoons, but most of them are just full of joyful squeals, laughter, small sounds of surprise and stuff like that.  The animation is still of very good quality, even though the DVD quality is not the best.  Some of the cartoons are a bit grainy and don’t look the best so you might want to watch this one on a smaller screen (the cartoons look clearer and fresher).  These cartoons are not as well known as or animated as the Disney cartoons that I am accustomed to watching, but they were still a lot of fun.  I am not sure that I would be interested enough to buy this DVD, but I did enjoy renting it and there is a lot to enjoy here.

Content:

Some of the cartoons depict other races in their most cliched state and this may be offensive to some (Asians with chopsticks and doing karate with very slanted eyes; African Americans in black face makeup; etc.).  There is some mild cartoon violence.  Many cartoons depict scenes of poverty and struggle, but everyone has a happy ending!  Appropriate for viewers of all ages.

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Filed under Animated Movies, Children & Family Movies, Christmas, Classic Movies

The Man with a Cloak (1951) Movie Review

The Man With A Cloak (1951)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Joseph Cotten, Barbara Stanwyck, Louis Calhern, Leslie Caron, Joe De Santis
Director: Fletcher Markle
Release Date: 27 December 1951
Language: English
Length: 84 minutes
Movie Rating: PG
View Format: TV
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis:

In 1848, a young Frenchwoman, Madeline Minot (Leslie Caron), arrives in  New York City to see Thevener (Louis Calhern), the grandfather of her fiancé. Theverner and his grandson have been estranged due to political differences, but Madeline is desperate for money and support. She hopes to reconcile the two men, but she finds the old man in very bad spirits, living in a large house with a housekeeper (Barbara Stanwyck) and a butler (Joe De Santis) who are just waiting for him to die (and perhaps helping him along a bit) so they can inherit his fortune. Madeline threatens their carefully laid plans, but she has an ally in her dealings with these strange people in a mysterious man in a cloak (Joseph Cotton).

Review:

This movie was interesting, but ultimately unsatisfying.  I got sucked in to the film right after the introduction.  They let you know that this movie is loosely based on a famous person’s life, but they don’t tell you who the famous person is – and they don’t use the person’s name in the movie!  You have to wait until the very end to find out who they are telling the story about and then you have to pay pretty close attention – and read the note on the screen – or it will always be a mystery…  Okay, I am going to spoil it for you and tell you that it is Edgar Allan Poe.  That poor man was fraught with misfortune and really didn’t have a happy life (as seen in most of his work), so this story could very well have fit in to his life, but, of course, it is pure fiction.  This made the movie more interesting and appealing to me, however, so it was a good move on the movie makers’ part.

Anyway, this is very much a character-driven drama and there are only a few main characters that you really need to pay attention to.  Joseph Cotten plays Dupin (aka Edgar Allan Poe), a mysterious cloaked figure who is usually drunk and appears to have no visible means of support.  He lives off of credit and is quick to spin a yarn or charm shopkeepers and landladies to keep himself in wine and with a roof over his head.  He is charmingly played by Cotten and is quite likeable, even though he is always begging wine off of people throughout the movie.  He remains a man of mystery throughout the film and I never really understood his motives or why he befriended a stranger so quickly, but he rapidly becomes embroiled in the lives of a nearby French household.  But never let it be said that Dupin isn’t a gentleman!  Indeed, he is the only one to come to the aid of young Madeleine (Leslie Caron) when she comes into a bar at night, fresh off the boat from France.  Leslie Caron was perfectly cast as the young ingénue and she was just adorable.  She radiated innocence and virtue and managed to win people over to her effortlessly.  Charles Theverner (Louis Calhern) plays the rich old man who is Madeleine’s fiancé’s grandfather.  Theverner used to fight alongside Napoleon and doesn’t agree with his grandson’s involvement in the revolution and doesn’t intend to leave him any money in his will.  He is aware that his staff only stay with him to get his money, but he doesn’t realize how horrible and restricted his life has become until Madeleine comes to beg for his aid.  Unfortunately, Theverner is very much aware that it is too late to stop the events that were set in motion long ago and he isn’t sure that he wants to.  Flaherty (Jim Backus) was arguably my favorite character.  He plays the Irish bartender at Dupin’s favorite hangout and has some great conversations with the drunk poet.

The villains are headlined by Barbara Stanwyck, who stole the show as Lorna Bounty, a formerly famous actress who now appears to work as a housekeeper.  She is beautiful, cold and evil, but not in a malicious or hateful way.  She has given up many of the best years of her life to get her hands on an old man’s fortune and is determined to use anyone in her path to get what she feels is her due.  Barbara Stanwyck has a delicious chemistry with all of the male leads and you can tell that she is ruthless, but in a very feminine way.  At the end of the day, she is not the one who is willing to stick her neck out and take any direct action, but she has no trouble seducing any man to take action for her.  Martin (Joe De Santis) is the butler of Theverner’s household and it is immediately apparent that something is not quite right in there as Martin is way too rough around the edges to be a proper butler.  He is a rough, brutal man who is willing to do anything to get the payoff that Lorna has so long been promising him.  Mrs. Flynn (Margaret Wycherly) rounds out the villainous trio as the actual housekeeper (i.e. the one who does all of the work) and she doesn’t really do much, but she has some great lines and adds some character to the film.

Most of the film meanders between the characters and shows them trying to beat out the other team and win the fortune.  As I said before, Barbara Stanwyck, plays a pivotal role in the movie as she tries to set herself up to win the money regardless of which side wins.  She has terrific scenes with both Dupin and Martin and it was very interesting to see her in the role of a villain instead of a heroine or the love interest as I am accustomed to seeing her.  In the end, it was worth it to watch this movie simply to see the final few moments and what happens to everyone.  There are some wonderful surprises that I won’t ruin for you here, but it was great to see what happens to the villains in the end.

Like so many older movies, this one is not available on DVD, but I am sure that you could catch it on TV, as I did.  This is an interesting black-and-white movie, but it is not one that I would go out of my way to hunt down.  Worth watching if you are a Barbara Stanwyck fan, though.

Content:

This movie contains some scenes of mild sensuality, drinking, smoking and drunkenness.  There are multiple murders in this movie, all by poisoning, but there is nothing detailed or gross in the movie.  Political ideals, not paying one’s bills, mild violence, references to women of loose morals and verbal threats are also found in the film.  Recommended for ages 12 and up.

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Those Calloways (1965) Movie Review

Those Calloways (1965)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Those Calloways

Starring: Brian Keith, Vera Miles, Brandon De Wilde, Walter Brennan, Ed Wynn
Director: Norman Tokar
Release Date: 28 January 1965
Language: English
Length: 131 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis:

“Nature-loving New Englander Cam Calloway (Brian Keith) has always envisioned creating a home for migrating geese by a pristine lake near where he lives. But developers have their eye on this special parcel of land and won’t let anyone stand in the way of what they deem to be progress. So, when Cam and his son (Brandon De Wilde) set up a cabin on the property, things get ugly. Linda Evans, Vera Miles and Tom Skerritt co-star.” — Netflix.com

Review:

I can vaguely remember watching this movie when I was a kid.  All I really remembered from it was a boy in a red sweater and some geese flying in the sky so it was almost like seeing it for the first time.  This is billed as a “feel-good” family movie, but I am not sure that it fit into that niche for me.  There is a lot going on this film.  The primary plotline revolves around Cam Calloway’s (Brian Keith) dream of buying up the marshy lakefront property and turning it into a safe haven for the wild geese that fly through every year.  To achieve his dream – and pay the mortgage on his home – Cam and his son, Bucky Calloway (Brandon De Wilde) set out to trap animals and sell their furs.  They anticipate making a ton of money off of some prime furs, but the fur market isn’t what it used to be and they only get $450 for all of their work.  That is enough to put a down payment on the lakeshore property, but not to pay off their mortgage.  Enter major plotline #2 – a development company thinks that the Calloway’s small New England town would be perfect to develop into a kind of hunter’s paradise resort.  Their primary target would be the migratory geese.  And how do you get the geese to show up every year?  Support Cam Calloway’s hair-brained scheme of a geese reserve and then just wait for them to come flying by.  Half of the town wants the money to get rich quick and the other, older, half wants things to stay the way they are.  To keep things interesting, they throw in some romantic subplots. Cam Calloway is trying to hold on to his wife, Liddy (Vera Miles), whom many people believe married beneath herself.  She is able to hold the family together by sheer force of will, but struggles with Cam’s drinking, their perilous monetary circumstances, and Cam’s insistence on placing the geese before everything else.  Then there is Bucky, who teaches himself to box so he can fight the town toughs and woo the lovely Bridie Mellott (Linda Evans), the most beautiful girl in town.  All of these plots weave in and out, are picked up and dropped, picked up again, etc.  This makes the movie pretty lengthy and a bit meandering.  Perhaps this is a good thing as there is a bit of something for everyone, but it also means that there isn’t anything really great in the film either.

The acting is solid, if unimaginative.  It is very clear what is going on and why so the actors and actresses are able to convey what they need to, but they are not very subtle or nuanced in their performances.  I also felt like the characters were a bit inconsistent and that they tried too hard to throw everything into one person.  I understand that most people are a study in contradiction and are much more complex than they appear on the surface, but these people don’t necessarily show well on screen.  For example, Cam is a hunter, a woodsman who was raised by Native Americans in the area.  He makes his living as a trapper and has no problem killing animals in the woods, but he hates it when hunters shoot at the geese when they migrate through his town.  I think that the creators of this film had good intentions on showing that there are many individuals – even back in the day – who were interested in conservation efforts, even if they were not quite sure how to go about it.  The area that Cam was trying to save was justifiably gorgeous and there were some lovely nature shots.  There were also some mildly humorous moments with the family bear and when Bucky was trying to learn to fight, but the lightness and the ease was missing from this movie for me.  The message was quite heavy and everyone seemed so serious.  I felt like they did not utilize the classic old men like Walter Brennan and Ed Wynn nearly enough.  They had their moments, such as when Alf Simes (Walter Brennan) keeps one of the new businessmen from sitting on his seat by having a wildcat babysit it or when Ed Parker (Ed Wynn) is dragged into the rhyming game at a house-raising party, but the moments they were in the film were not long enough or fun enough to lighten the mood of the film.  I missed the humor and the sheer joy that I usually associate with old Disney films, which may be why this one seems all but forgotten.

This is a good movie and is a solid performer, but is nothing special.  The movie is showing its age and is definitely filmed in old-school Disney style.  I think that this kind of cinematography adds to the charm of the film, but I know that kids have a hard time getting into what they feel is an old (i.e. boring) movie.  It is a little bit over 2 hours long and it feels like it is a long film.  I enjoyed the parts of the movie where they were out on their cabin and land doing the chores, out the wilderness trapping and trying to live their dreams, but I wish that they had consolidated the movie down a bit more so that it had a clearer focus and a more rapid pace.  I know that one of the things that slowed the film down was the beautiful scenery that they took the time to showcase.  I am glad that they didn’t stint on that as I really enjoyed seeing the countryside go through the seasons, but it did make it longer and slower.  I would recommend watching this on a day where you have plenty of time and are in the mood to just sit down and relax and watch someone else’s troubles go by.  Naturally, everything works out for the best in the end, even though it seems rushed and completely unbelievable, but at least someone has a happy ending out there, right?

Content:

This movie contains scenes of hunting, skinning, trapping, shooting and wild animals attacking people.  There are also scenes of mild violence, fighting/boxing, drinking and drunkenness.  Nothing is to explicit or graphic, naturally, as it is a Disney film, but there are some moments that might require explanation to younger viewers.  Recommended for ages 5 and up.

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No More Orchids (1932) Movie Review

No More Orchids (1932)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

No More Orchids

Starring: Carole Lombard, Lyle Talbot, Walter Connolly, Louise Closser Hale, Allen Vincent
Director: Walter Lang
Release Date: 25 November 1932
Language: English
Length: 65 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: TV
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis:

Spoiled heiress Annie Holt (Carole Lombard) doesn’t really want to marry royalty, but it will make her wealthy grandfather, Jerome Cedric (C. Aubrey Smith), happy so she is just going along with it.  But then she meets regular Joe, Tony Gage (Lyle Talbot), on a cruise and finds herself falling in love.  It seems like the simple solution is to break  her engagement with the prince and run off with the love of her life, but Annie cannot do that.  It turns out that her beloved father, Bill Holt (Walter Connolly), is on the brink of financial ruin and her grandfather refuses to keep his bank solvent unless Annie marries the prince.

Review:

This is a classic, old-fashioned romance.  A poor man and a rich woman meet on a cruise, fall in love and then problems begin!  I enjoyed the film, but I did feel like the pace was quite rushed and that the “love-at-first-sight” romance was not truly believable.  With how little these two leads had in common, I was rather shocked that they were able to fall in love and try to get married.  Annie Holt (Carole Lombard) plays the wealthy heiress and she was a self-described spoiled brat.  Carole Lombard plays her part with panache and style and looks absolutely gorgeous on film, but there is now way that I believed that a high-maintenance girl like her would be willing to pitch it all to live with the man that she loved.  Oh, I guess I could see her trying, but I definitely would see her becoming increasingly unhappy with the choices she made and the longing for the luxuries that she had left behind.  Regardless, this movie only deals with the courtship and marriage of these two so we don’t see what happened once they actually tried to live with each other.  Tony Gage (Lyle Talbot) is a macho guy who is too proud to take handouts from a rich wife and makes it clear that, if Annie marries him, they will be living on his salary and in his one-bedroom apartment.  I loved the fact that he was the one playing hard to get instead of the girl and, without some persuasion from Annie’s father, I don’t know that these two ever would have gotten together!  I thought this was a refreshing change and really enjoyed Annie’s frustration that she couldn’t get the man she wanted to even answer her phone calls – no matter who she claimed to be!

The two leads were very good, but it was the supporting actors who really stole the film.  Bill Holt (Walter Connolly), Annie’s father, was a hoot as a regular guy who married a rich girl (who died shortly thereafter), but never really got rid of his roots.  He loves sailing, yachts, turkeys and dogs.  He is not afraid to get his hands dirty, but he is too proud to beg for help from his father-in-law to save the bank he works for that is going under.  Bill has a fun relationship with his daughter, Annie, and was a lot of fun to get to know.  Grandma Holt (Louise Closser Hale) was by far my favorite in this film and she elevated this movie from something relatively forgettable into something fun and lighthearted.  Grandma is a true curmudgeon with a heart of gold.  She is absolutely hilarious and really has a good time zinging her one liners around throughout the film.  I really loved her and wish that I had a grandma like her!

I wasn’t crazy about the storyline – particularly the ending – but this was a short, fun film to watch.  It is a little over one hour so there is quite a bit of action packed into a small timeframe.  The two leads have a whirlwind courtship that goes by in just a few minutes, then they try to get married, fail, the rich grandpa meddles around in everyone’s lives, Bill Holt makes some crazy choices and manages to break up the marriage between Annie and the Prince and Annie and Tony live happily ever after.  So, if you are in the mood for a classic, black-and-white old-school romance, this is a fun one to watch.  It is quick, full of memorable secondary characters, has some great one-liners, sex appeal, beautiful costumes and a rags-to-riches-to-rags romance.  Check it out on TV when you get the chance!

Content:

This movie has some understated sensual and sexually-charged scenes.  There is nothing overt that is shown, but sex is alluded to and both leads are shown in their underwear.  There are some scenes with drinking, smoking, drunkenness, class differences, and suicide.  Recommended for ages 8 and up.

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A Damsel in Distress (1937) Movie Review

A Damsel in Distress (1937)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Fred Astaire, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Joan Fontaine, Reginald Gardiner
Director: George Stevens
Release Date: 19 November 1937
Language: English
Length: 98 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: TV
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis:

Lady Alyce Marshmorton (Joan Fontaine) must wed soon, but she is not in love with any of her suitors.  Determined to marry for love, Lady Alyce tries to sneak off to London to meet the American she met some time ago on a ski trip.  Unfortunately, her latest attempt to meet the man leads her to encounter Jerry Halliday (Fred Astaire), a famous performer who has broken hearts the world over.  Keggs (Reginald Gardiner), the family butler, mistakenly identifies Jerry as Alyce’s boyfriend and hijinks ensue as some try to keep Jerry and Alyce apart, while others try and help them find time together.  But in the end, the fact remains that Jerry is not the American that Alyce fell in love with – or is he…?

Review:

This was a fun musical to watch, but the strength of the film lies in its pieces rather than in the sum total of its parts.  The music was composed by George Gershwin, with lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and the film was called a musical, but there was not very much singing in it.  There were some lovely instrumental pieces and a few clever lines of song, but most of the singing was done by choirs or arranged groups of people in the castle.  This was an unexpected disappointment as I am accustomed to musicals featuring song and dance routines throughout the film with the songs adding to the story.  Instead, this film relies on some performers at the castle to perform music for guests with Fred Astaire joining in at some points to great comedic effect.  While these songs were clever and fun, they just did not fit into the storyline and did nothing to further the plot.  I was delighted with the dance routines, however, and thoroughly enjoyed the performances by Fred Astaire, George Burns and Gracie Allen.  These three had some terrific routines that elevated the movie into something memorable and worth watching.  In particular, I had a wonderful time watching these three dance their way through a local circus.  It was cleverly staged and used some terrific sets such as spinning tunnels, slides, rotating circles, electronic sidewalks and fun-house mirrors.  Fred Astaire made the other two look like they were merely average dancers, but George Burns and Gracie Allen held their own and brought a lot of personality and style to the routines.  I feel that this movie was worth watching for the fun-loving dance routines alone, but there were so few of them!  I was left wanting a great deal more song and dance in the movie as a whole, but there were some brilliant moments that made me glad that I took the time to watch the film.

The plot is nothing special in this movie, but the actors and actresses did the best with what they had.  I never really bought the romance between Jerry Halliday (Fred Astaire) and Lady Alyce Marshmorton (Joan Fontaine).  I feel that the movie would have been much stronger if there was a love triangle between these two leads and the completely absent Mr. X that Lady Alyce supposedly fell in love with.  Having Lady Alyce change her mind and heart so often throughout the film made it difficult, if not impossible, to take her seriously when she proclaimed her love for someone else.  This main plot was a real disappointment, but the subplot of the servants in the castle was very entertaining and worth seeing.  All of the servants put money into a pot and then drew names out of a hat with the suitors’ names on them. Whomever drew the name of the winning suitor wins the pot.  Keggs (Reginald Gardiner), the straitlaced butler, maneuvers so that he draws the name of the current frontrunner, Reggie (Ray Noble), a rather dimwitted, but loveable young man.  He is outwitted at almost every turn by a young servant, Albert (Harry Watson), who knows that Lady Alyce writes to an American and insists on being given the name Mr. X as he is betting on Lady Alyce throwing Reggie over for her American.  Seeing an older, more established man battling a clever young boy was an unexpected delight and I enjoyed this plotline much more than any of the others.

I feel that the superb acting elevated this rather humdrum musical into something that was fun and flirty.  Gracie (Gracie Allen) was my favorite character by far!  She plays George’s (George Burns) featherbrained secretary and she was so funny!  When George threatens to replace her at the beginning of the film and hire another girl, her response is “are you sure we have enough work for two girls?”  I don’t think that she had a thought in her head, but I knew that I would smile when I saw her on screen.  She was a lovely dancer and interfaced effortlessly with everyone on screen.  Gracie Allen stole the show, in my opinion, and I will need to make an effort to look up some of the other movies that she is in.  Fred Astaire plays his typical role as a jaded playboy who is looking for a woman who truly loves him with his usual panache, but lacking some of the biting wit and weakness in character that would have made him memorable and interesting.  Still, Fred Astaire is incomparable when it comes to dancing and it was wonderful to see him dancing side by side with George Burns and Gracie Allen so his talent could be fully appreciated.  Too often his skills are hidden by floating skirts and beautiful partners, but this time you can see him side-by-side-by-side so that it is immediately apparent how fabulous he was.  Reginald Gardiner was quite entertaining as Keggs, who appears to be a prim-and-proper butler on the surface, but has a weakness for operatic arias and will do anything that it takes to win the money in the pot, no matter how low the blow.  Montagu Love, who played Lady Alyce’s father Lord John Marshmorton, was a refreshing change from a typical, domineering father.  He loves his garden more than society and there are a few entertaining scenes where he mistaken for a lowly gardener while tending his beloved roses.  I loved that he wanted his daughter to make a true love match, however, and really liked him.  I found Joan Fontaine to be largely forgettable as Lady Alyce Marshmorton.  She has a few romantic scenes with Fred Astaire, but nothing of particular note.  Indeed, the best part of her roles is the continual references to the Lawrence Leap, which is a perilous jump off of a balcony to preserve a lady’s honor.  Other than that, she is a beautiful prop to move the story along and never finds a way to hold her own with the brash, outspoken American crew.

I stumbled across this movie on TCM late one night and had a fun time watching it, but I understand why it is not available on DVD.  I would not imagine that it is anyone’s favorite musical and all of the leads have been in other, more memorable films that made a great deal more money.  Still, this is a fun black-and-white musical from the 1930s, when films like this were very popular so they churned them out by the truckload.  I felt like this musical was so close to becoming something truly memorable, but it just did not quite execute on its promise.  A stronger storyline and perhaps a different ending would do a great deal to elevate this film.  Still, there are some moments that truly sparkle and made me happy that I took the time to watch it.  If you enjoy older musicals, especially those featuring Fred Astaire, you will want to keep an eye out for this one on TV.

Content:

This movie contains some scenes of drinking and smoking.  There are a few passionate embraces and chaste kisses.  Recommended for ages 6 and up.

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A Bullet is Waiting (1954) Movie Review

A Bullet is Waiting (1954)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Rory Calhoun, Jean Simmons, Stephen McNally, Brian Aherne
Director: John Farrow
Release Date: 4 September 1954
Language: English
Length: 85 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: TV
My Rating: 2/5 stars

Synopsis:

Utah Sheriff Munson (Stephen McNally) has finally tracked down this brother’s murderer, Ed Stone (Rory Calhoun), and is transporting him back to Utah to prison when their plane crashes in the middle of the desert.  They seek shelter at a sheep farm, where Cally Canham (Jean Simmons) is tending the sheep alone.  Cally wants nothing to do with either man, but doesn’t have the heart to turn them out so she allows them to stay during the thunderous rainstorm that prevents them from leaving the valley.  Cally isn’t sure who to believe at first, but she soon finds herself falling in love with Ed and has a hard time believing that he is a killer. But what will happen when the floodwaters decrease and it is possible to travel out of the canyon?

Review:

This movie was nothing like what I was expecting.  Unfortunately, this was really not a good thing.  I thought that I was going to watch a western about a sheriff and a man arrested for murder who was innocent.  I believed that they would come to learn about each other and find some resolutions while they struggled to survive in the desert, but this was so far from the truth that I think the little blurb about the movie was completely misleading!  Firstly, this movie takes place in fairly recent times as the sheriff and his prisoner are traveling by airplane.  It is difficult to pinpoint what decade it is exactly as the clothing that ranchers wear has not changed a great deal in the last couple hundred years.  There is a hint in the fact that David Canham (Brian Aherne) served in the first World War, but nothing was mentioned of the second World War so perhaps this is set in the early 1910s?  Secondly, the two men are not stuck in the desert trying to survive.  They are comfortably ensconced in a cozy little cottage with a sheepherder who keeps them warm and dry and fed.  Thirdly, the prisoner is guilty of manslaughter, which isn’t quite murder, but he still killed the sheriff’s brother.  So, all of my illusions about the movie shattered, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue watching, but found myself watching too much of the movie to not be curious about how it ended.

The wild landscape setting that they filmed the movie in was beautiful in a harsh, unforgiving sort of way.  There is a terrific storm that rages across the country and it is one of those sudden summer storms that makes the desert so dangerous.  The sound effects and the scenery were quite well done and there is a quiet beauty about isolated land like this.  I could never be happy living in such a place, but I could see where someone who is looking for a retreat where they could enjoy their isolation would be attracted to an area like this.  The music was nothing special, but it stirred emotions in me while I watched.  This is good as I was not emotionally invested in these characters at all!

This film features a remarkably small cast and so there is not a lot of forgiveness to be found in the acting.  I did not particularly care for nor believe any of these people in the roles they played.  I was shocked to see Jean Simmons in this film.  With her beautiful face and lovely accent, she was completely out of place in such a harsh setting.  They explained away her accent by claiming that her philosophy professor father was looking for a way to retreat from the human race, believing that people were only going to get worse after the World War.  He quit his Oxford job, sold everything and disappeared into the middle of nowhere.  Cally Canham should be ripe for the picking, lonely, isolated and wanting to be in love, but I did not get this sense from Jean Simmons’ portrayal at all.  Also, she was shown wearing a particularly vivid scarlet lipstick for the first half of the movie, which was really off putting.  This lipstick magically disappears partway through, but it was a jarring note to the movie.  She wears worn out, ill-fitting work clothes, has her hair cropped shorter than many boys and no decoration to speak of – except that bright lipstick!  And where is her tan or sunburn?  How is it possible that she kept her lovely, milky white complexion with absolutely no blemishes under the blazing desert sun?  Rory Calhoun plays Ed Stone, the prisoner who is guilty of killing the sheriff’s brother.  He is handsome enough, I suppose, but I did not feel sparks between him and Cally.  He also did not put off an innocent vibe to me.  He seems like a party boy, a hard drinking, womanizing schmoozer who will play any angle he can to get ahead.  Ed cooks dinner, helps with a sickly lamb and does everything he can to play upon Cally’s feelings.  Somewhere in there, these two miraculously fall in love, but I didn’t believe it.  Stephen McNally plays Sheriff Munson and, if I didn’t know better, I would have said that he was the villain of the piece!  When the men were first introduced to Cally, I was not convinced that they were telling the truth about their identities!  Munson has no softer qualities and spends his time threatening, blustering and trying to create dissent between Ed and Cally.  I would not have trusted him to be an honorable man and return the prisoner to Utah either!  Brian Aherne rounds out the cast as Cally’s father, David.  He is in the last 15 minutes or so of the film and I felt like he was dragged into the story just to force an ending.  The movie was going nowhere fast before David showed up, but he felt unnecessary and completely out of place to me.  It is clear that he is a well-educated, well-reared gentleman who has never done a hard day’s work in the relentless desert sun in his life!

The story was kind of strung together piecemeal and never really came together for me.  The acting was okay, but nothing to speak of.  With such a small cast, this could have been an emotional tour-de-force for one of them, but it was just strange.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that these actors were miscast, but they certainly didn’t live up to their roles.  This movie is not readily available on DVD at this time so you will have to catch it on TV, but I would give this one a pass unless there really is nothing else to watch.

Content:

This movie contains some scenes of fighting, gunshots, and violence.  There are discussions of a murder and war.  Lines are blurred between innocent and guilty and it is unclear who is “good.”  Recommended for ages 8 and up.

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