Category Archives: War Movies

Foyle’s War: Eagle Day (2002) Movie Review

Foyle’s War: Eagle Day (2002)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Michael Kitchen, Honeysuckle Weeks, Anthony Howell, Julian Ovenden, Anthony Calf
Director: Jeremy Silberston
Series: Foyle’s War #4 (season 1, episode 4), a Masterpiece Mystery! Series Movie
Release Date: 17 November 2002
Language: English
Length: 100 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis:

DCS Foyle (Michael Kitchen) is busy investigating a stabbing victim who was found in a house bombed by the Germans with a knife buried in his chest.  Foyle is convinced that his death has something to do with his job as a lorry (truck) driver in charge of transporting priceless artwork to Wales, where it will be stored in a closed mine to keep it safe from the war effects.  But Foyle just cannot find the connection between the murderer and the artwork.  Foyle’s son, Andrew (Julian Ovenden), is transferred back home to work on a top-secret project involving the testing of a brand new technology called radar.  He stumbles upon a mystery, however, when he discovers that a girl working at the facility died under mysterious circumstances.  He tries to help, but finds himself arrested and charged with treason for stealing military plans.  Now Foyle must solve a second murder linked to the first and help his son clear his name!

Review:

This is a real nail-biter addition to the Foyle’s War series!  I had no idea what was going to happen and found myself in suspense with the arrest of the Andrew (Julian Ovenden), the younger Foyle.  There are a lot of plots running through this particular movie and that is what made it interesting and riveting.  DCS Foyle (Michael Kitchen) is investigating two suspicious murders that have no real link except for the method of death; Andrew Foyle is trying to find his way through the minefield at work where there are plenty of suspicious characters who seem determined to hide some dark secrets; Sam (Honeysuckle Weeks), Foyle’s driver, has resigned as her parents want her to return home where she will be safe; priceless artwork has gone missing; German bombing raids are flying overhead and you may have to run for cover at a moment’s notice.

I felt like this movie really captured the feel of what it would be like to live in Great Britain during World War II.  There was a feeling of fear, suspicion, the unknown, and a feeling of futility in that the older generation cannot serve in the military and are stuck at home.  I particularly felt DCS Foyle’s emotions in this episode as his son cannot tell him anything about what he is doing, where he is based, what he is doing on his night ops, where his son has been imprisoned, what he has been charged with, and pretty much anything else going on in his son’s life.  I cannot even imagine how frustrating this would be as a parent.  I could tell that DCS Foyle was very proud of his son for serving in the RAF (Royal Air Force), but was also concerned that flying would put him directly in harm’s way. Andrew, his son, was not quite as worried and had a general feeling of being reckless and devil-may-care, but this does not stop him from turning to his father when he ends up in deep trouble.  Sam, Foyle’s driver, didn’t imagine that she would serving the war effort by driving around a member of the police, but she enjoys working with Foyle and feels like she is contributing in some small way.  Paul Milner (Anthony Howell), Foyle’s Sergeant, is still on his own with his wife away visiting her sister in Wales and I am not sure that she is coming back.  There is a lot going on in the personal lives of all of the main characters, but overlying all of them is the stress and tension of the war with Germany.  All of the actors did a terrific job in conveying these layered emotions in a realistic, understated way.  I was very impressed by the cast in this movie and was completely fooled as to who the villains of the piece really were.

The plot is very interesting in this movie and I loved the historical feel.  I have not seen very many movies that deal with the war at home and I felt like this movie in the Foyle’s War series really captured the war effort on the homefront in Britain.  I especially loved that they used this episode to show viewers what England did to protect its artistic treasures.  It is not necessarily something that I would have thought of right off the bat, but it is a very important consideration and I love that they were making plans for after the war to keep their artistic legacy intact.  The settings felt very real and the costumes were well selected and appealing.

I think that this is one great movie to watch!  I confess that, as I began watching the most current episodes first, that I did not have an emotional attachment to the characters like I do now that I am watching season 1.  I am really glad that I decided to go back and rent season 1 on DVD as the movies have all been really well made and I have come to know and love the main characters.  I am hoping that they all survive the war and that they are able to find some happiness in their lives.  This is definitely a mystery series that is worth watching!

Content:

This movie contains 2 victims that have been stabbed in the chest.  The knife is still sticking out when the bodies are found and there is blood involved, thought not as much as I would expect for this kind of mortal wound.  One of the victims is still alive when he is found, but dies pretty quickly thereafter.  There is a scene of interrogation in jail that is a little intense, but there is no physical violence.  Parts of the plot deal with a rape and sexual abuse of a young woman, suicide, the increase of out-of-wedlock pregnancies in women during the war, theft, and some bombing by the Germans.  There are some scenes showing the characters smoking and drinking.  Recommended for ages 8 and up.

Leave a comment

Filed under Historical Movies, Mystery Movies, War Movies

Till the End of Time (1946) Movie Review

Till the End of Time (1946)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Dorothy McGuire, Guy Madison, Robert Mitchum, Bill Williams, Tom Tully
Director: Edward Dmytryk
Release Date: 23 July 1946
Language: English
Length: 105 minutes
Movie Rating:
View Format: TV
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis:

After he is discharged from the Marines, twenty-one-year-old Cliff Harper (Guy Madison) returns to his home in Los Angeles.  Everyone seems excited to have him home, but Cliff just cannot get readjusted to being out of the military.  He doesn’t want to return to school, he doesn’t want to work, the only thing that he does want is war widow Pat Ruscomb (Dorothy McGuire).  But Pat is going through her own difficulties adjusting to life after the war – a life that she never envisioned for herself.  Can these two lost souls move on and find a life together?

Review:

This is a movie about the effect of World War II on the veterans who made it home.  There are several veterans portrayed in this movie, but the main focus is on Cliff Harper (Guy Madison), an almost impossibly handsome golden-boy who can’t quite get his life back together after all he has experienced overseas.  He was in college, on the football team and had a wide circle of friends before he went to war.  When he comes back, he returns to an empty home, as both of his parents are out running errands and playing golf.  His neighbors have moved and there is a nubile young teen (Jean Porter) next door who falls in love with him on sight.  There is a small get-together to welcome him home, but everyone rebuffs him when he tries to talk about the war.  No one wants to hear about it and they say it is because it will be too traumatic for him to discuss his experiences.  He cannot quite get back into his life before he left and no one seems to understand why he isn’t ready to go back to school and dive right back in to his old life.  He turns increasing to a rather unstable war widow, Pat (Dorothy McGuire), who is going through her own problems adjusting to life without the man she married before he left for battle.  As the movie progresses, he struggles to find a place for himself back in the normal world.  I thought that his character, well not particularly well acted, was interesting as this man should have had everything going for him.  He came back in one piece, he had a family ready to support him and he should have had the world on a string, but he just couldn’t adjust to normal life again.  I felt like his role was an important one to see in film as, unless we are related to someone in the military or connected closely in some way, we don’t see the difficulty our soldiers have in readjusting after combat.

There are 2 other military veterans that were focused on in this film to a lesser degree and I found them to be interesting and helped make the movie better than it would have been if all of the focus was just on ?. One of them played a really good friend of William Tabeshaw (Robert Mitchum) in the Marines.  He ended up with a metal plate in his head, which put him on disability, and caused a lot of medical complications, including headaches and blackouts.  Perry Kincheloe (Bill Williams) plays a veteran who lost both of his legs below the knee and is now obsessed with training his brother to box.  He refuses to use his prosthetic legs and his family is desperate to help him recover, but Perry, bitter over his losses isn’t ready to recover.  Pat Ruscomb (Dorothy McGuire) shows a bit of the impact that losing a husband, even though you haven’t known them for very long, to the war.  She is a little all over the place and it was hard for me to like her character as she dated multiple guys, seemed to be looking for sex from strangers and tried to drink her way to forgetfulness.  Helen Ingersoll (Jean Porter) is the girl next door, who is madly in love with ?, but is too young to really stand a chance with him.  I thought she was cute and really played her part well as I found her very believable.

I thought that this movie was interesting, but I enjoyed The Best Years of Our Lives much more.  This movie was not as well acted and seemed a little bit disjointed.  It is a slice of life movie so there really is no closure at the end, which was kind of too bad as I would have liked to feel a reward for watching all of the bad times in these veterans’ lives.  Still, I think that the portrayal was realistic and eye-opening as far as the aftermath of war.  I would say that the best and worst part of the movie is Guy Madison.  He is not a great actor, but he is amazingly beautiful on screen.  This movie is in black-and-white, which was too bad as I would have loved to see him in color!  He has the look of an Abercrombie & Fitch model and you almost couldn’t take your eyes off of him.  He has a wonderful body (especially for that time) and the sexual tension between him and Dorothy McGuire was intense and palpable that you could almost feel the heat coming off of your screen.

I wouldn’t say that this is a can’t miss movie, but I thought that it was decent and worth watching.  I was expecting to see Dorothy McGuire in her more classic role as a fragile, romantic woman, which is what drew me in to watch this movie, but I was disappointed as I didn’t really care for her character.  Still, it was an interesting look at the impact of war on our soldiers and the difficulties that they face when the come home.  Realistically, you can say that the war does not end for most of them until decades after they have returned to the US.  It definitely changes not only the soldier’s life, but everyone around them as well.  If you have the chance to watch this movie on TV, you should, but I wouldn’t say that you need to go out of your way to hunt this movie down.

Content:

This movie contains some sensual scenes & some sexual overtones (including homosexuality, rolling around on the beach, and invitations to “come upstairs”), but no overt sex.  There is quite a bit of drinking, some drunk scenes, a barroom brawl, smoking, and some verbal arguments.  Younger children will probably not pick up on a lot of the nuances of the movie so it is safe to watch it with them in the room.  Recommended for ages 10 and up.

Leave a comment

Filed under Classic Movies, Drama Movies, Historical Movies, Romance Movies, War Movies

Miss Marple: Nemesis (2007) Movie Review

Miss Marple: Nemesis (2007)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Geraldine McEwan, Laura Michelle Kelly, Dan Stevens, Graeme Garden, Richard E. Grant
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Series: Agatha Christie’s Marple Series #10 (season 3, episode 2), a Masterpiece Mystery! Series Movie
Release Date: 25 February 2007
Language: English
Length: 83 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis:

“Miss Marple (Geraldine McEwan) is faced with her greatest challenge yet when she discovers instructions from the recently deceased Mr. Rafiel to investigate a “possible crime.” But there’s a problem — she doesn’t know what the crime is. Instead, she is booked onto a mystery bus tour, led by the captivating Georgina Barrow (Ruth Wilson), to gather clues.” — Masterpiece

Review:

This was an intense episode in the Miss Marple series.  Miss Marple (Geraldine McEwan) and her nephew, Raymond West (Richard E. Grant), go on a guided expedition and find themselves on a bus full of murder suspects.  See, one of Miss Marple’s friends, Mr. Rafiel, begs her to go on this vacation to solve a crime.  By offering the trip as a prize, a surprise gift of gratitude, bribery or whatever it takes, the mysterious Mr. Rafiel manages to get all of the suspects together onto the same bus.  Now Miss Marple just has to sort through everything and solve the mystery.  Simple, right?  Wrong.  This is a very convoluted mystery with lots of characters and lots of mysteries to solve.  Firstly, no one is who they seem and everyone has something to hide. Secondly, the mysteries are multiple and complicated.  Thirdly, tensions are still running high from the World War and having a combination of German veterans and British veterans on the same vacation doesn’t make it easy on anyone.  Fourthly, Miss Marple doesn’t even know what kind of crime she is trying to solve!

I found the cast of characters interesting and well acted.  Martin Waddy (Will Mellor) is a scarred veteran who lost his memory, but is supported by his beloved wife, Rowen (Emily Woof).  Sydney Lumley (Johnny Briggs) is an older, blustery man who is married to a beautiful woman, Margaret (Laura Michelle Kelly), a lot younger than he.  Michael Faber (Dan Stevens) is a member of the German Luftwafte and no one knows quite why he is there.  Sister Agnes (Anne Reid) and Sister Clothilde (Amanda Burton) are nuns from a nearby convent who helped take care of injured soldiers during the war.  There is also a servant on holiday and a few other members of the party.  And what about Georgina Barrow (Ruth Wilson) who is leading the tour?  On the surface, none of these people have anything in common, but Miss Marple quickly discovers that the name Verity seems to be a mysterious connection running through the entire party.  Aided by her successful writer nephew (who is currently suffering from writer’s block) and eager police detective DC Colin Hards (Lee Ingleby) (who is eager to have the famous Raymond West read his story so that he can become a writer), Miss Marple is determined to solve the mystery and fulfill her dead friend’s request.

The solutions to the mysteries were interesting and fulfilling.  There are some wonderful scenes at the end where wronged members of the party finally get some closure and knowledge that changes their lives that were particularly rewarding.  Also, in one of the final scenes, Miss Marple confronts the killer with some rather chilling words and actions.  It is here that you learn that Miss Marple is not quite what she seems and that she is the Nemesis in question.

This movie was a very intriguing and riveting addition to the Miss Marple series.  It was different than most of the episodes in that Miss Marple is more aggressive and the mysteries are so much more than a simple murder case.  I really enjoyed Geraldine McEwan‘s portrayal of Marple in this particular movie as I felt like she was absolutely perfect in her role.  The acting is very good in this episode, the mysteries are interesting and unexpected, and there are some great emotional rewards at the end of the movie.  If you are a Miss Marple fan, you will definitely want to take the time to watch this episode!

Content:

This movie contains multiple murders, blackmail, suicide, war rivalries, drinking and smoking.  Some of the scenes are pretty intense, but nothing too gory is shown.  Recommended for ages 8 and up.

2 Comments

Filed under Historical Movies, Mystery Movies, Romance Movies, War Movies

Foyle’s War: A Lesson in Murder (2002) Movie Review

Foyle’s War: A Lesson in Murder (2002)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Michael Kitchen, Honeysuckle Weeks, Anthony Howell, Oliver Ford Davies, Danny Dyer
Director: David Thacker
Series: Foyle’s War #3 (season 1, episode 3)
Release Date: 10 November 2002
Language: English
Length: 98 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis:

“When David Beale (Nicholas Audsley), a conscientious objector, dies in police custody and a brick bearing a threat is thrown through the window of Gascoigne (Oliver Ford Davies), the tribunal judge who had him arrested, Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) begins an enquiry. However, when Joe (Gregg Prentice), a young evacuee staying with Gascoigne, becomes the victim of a grenade booby-trap at the summerhouse, the investigation turns to murder. Foyle and Detective Sergeant Milner (Anthony Howell) suspect someone is out for revenge and go through Gascoigne’s cases for clues.” — Masterpiece.com

Review:

This was an interesting episode in the Foyle’s War series.  There are several mysteries being solved in this particular movie and they are all linked together through Foyle’s (Michael Kitchen) involvement and through their war connection.  The main focus is on the threats to Judge Gascoigne’s (Oliver Ford Davies) life.  Gascoigne is a bluff, elderly gentlemen who, along with his wife, Emily (Cheryl Campbell), misses the bygone days when men like DCS Foyle and his Sergeant (Anthony Howell) wouldn’t have been able to make it past his footman. Alas, such days are long in the past and now Gascoigne finds himself struggling to maintain his lifestyle in his wife’s huge manor home in the countryside.  Though Gascoigne is low on funds, he is not short on power and when threats start being made against his life, the police take it seriously.  Foyle picks up the case, even though it is relatively mild and meant to scare more than harm, because of the link to a suicide he was assigned to investigate.  Turns out that Gascoigne has a thing against conscientious objectors and has turned down almost all court cases, leading to the death of impassioned David Beale (Nicholas Audsley), a promising young writer who does not believe in violence for any reason.  But that is not the only mystery that lies in the countryside.  What are they really manufacturing in the mysterious factory next door?  Did David Beale’s best friend try to get revenge?  Did the judge’s daughter, Susan Gascoigne (Sophia Myles), help her low-class suitor frighten her family so she could get free?  When the pranks escalate to the murder of an innocent boy (Gregg Prentice), Foyle really has to step up his pace to link everyone’s secrets together to catch the killer.  The mysteries all focus around racial tensions, class tensions and the constant fear of war and invasion during World War II.

As interesting as I found this particular mystery to be, I found myself even more interested in the background information provided in this movie. I think that we are all pretty accustomed to seeing movies about World War II soldiers and what life was like on the battlefield, but so rarely is the homefront discussed.  It is very interesting as the war was fought at home in Great Britain just as much as it was on the European battlefields at that time.  This movie is full of references to rationing (and avoiding certain foods at the local restaurants due to suspicious substitutions), girls dating boys they never would have given a chance otherwise as they were joining up and needed a girl to keep the homefires burning, young children being ripped away from their London homes and shipped to the countryside in case of air raids, how the legal system dealt with young men who refused to fight, how frustrating it was for the veterans who served in World War I to stay home and let the new generation fight in their stead, how class barriers were crumbling as everyone pitched into the war effort and more.  I also thought it was interesting to see the impact of Italy joining the war on Hitler’s side in Britain as everyone automatically assumed that, if you were of Italian descent, you were the enemy, even though these people lived in the UK their entire lives.  I cannot imagine the fear that the citizens of Britain were under and the horrific acts that were done in the name of patriotism, but it is comforting to think that there were brave men like DCS Foyle (fictional though he may be) who were willing to stand alone in front of the onslaught and make the tough decisions to punish those who broke the law, regardless of their reasons, their political status, or their importance to the war effort.

This movie is beautifully acted with a very understated, realistic style that I enjoyed.  I have to admit that I watched some of season 7 before I started season 1 and I regret that as I was not as connected to the characters at that point and did not understand some of what I was watching.  I understood the mystery of the movie just fine, but the little bits about the main characters and the progression of the war went over my head as I did not start at the beginning.  I have to say that season 1 is terrific and well worth digging out to rent or catch on TV.  I have been really impressed with this series so far and think that the mysteries are interesting, the historical background is absolutely wonderful, and the acting is top notch.  Definitely give this series a chance!

Content:

This movie contains several deaths including suicide/hanging, gunshot, grenade, arson, and some mild violence.  Nothing too specific is show, though, so you mainly see shadows, outlines or suggestions of what the bodies looked like in death without ever really seeing anything on the screen.  There is a scene of torture in the prison by the police that may be disturbing to some younger viewers at the beginning of the film.  There is also a lot of prejudice in this movie towards Italians, Jews, and between the different classes.  Again, nothing too over-the-top is show and everything is presented very tastefully.  Recommended for ages 8 and up.

Leave a comment

Filed under Historical Movies, Mystery Movies, War Movies

Smilin’ Through (1941) Movie Review

Smilin’ Through (1941)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Smilin' Through 1941

Starring: Jeanette MacDonald, Brian Aherne, Gene Raymond, Ian Hunter, Patrick O’Moore
Director: Frank Borzage
Release Date: October 1941
Language: English
Length: 100 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: TV
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis:

“John Carteret (Brian Aherne) has long been depressed and lonely, because, at his wedding years ago, his bride, Moonyean (Jeanette MacDonald), was murdered. He accepts into his house Kathleen, the 5-year-old orphaned niece of Moonyean, and she quickly grows up to look just like her aunt. Kathleen (Jeanette MacDonald) meets and falls in love with a mysterious stranger from America, Kenneth Wayne (Gene Raymond). When John hears of this he is furious, and we learn that it was Kenneth’s father, Jeremy (Gene Raymond), who had killed Moonyean years before. John carries his grudge against Jeremy to the new generation, and threatens to ruin his niece’s happiness, but he softens in the end. ” — Video Back Cover

Review:

This is a fairly typical tale of star-crossed lovers.  A young, orphaned girl named Kathleen (Jeanette MacDonald) goes to live with a bitter, lonely uncle (Brian Aherne) in his huge house.  She turns his life around and brings him a lot of joy.  Then she falls in love with a brash American, Kenneth (Gene Raymond), come to fight in the war.  Turns out the boy is the son of the man who murdered his uncle’s wife on his wedding day because he was also in love with her.  The uncle forbids her to ever see him again, they cannot manage to keep apart, but the uncle threatens to disinherit her.  They separate, he comes back injured from the war and then the uncle relents and gives her his blessing.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the story as I felt that, while everyone else was right in advising the uncle to let go of the past and to not blame the son for the sins of the father, I don’t feel like anyone truly tried to understand his position.  From all appearances, this man was desperately in love with his beautiful bride and was completely devastated when he lost her.  Then he couldn’t find her killer and bring him to justice, so he sunk into a pretty dismal, gloomy state.  I cannot blame him, however, as, even though I have never been that in love with anyone, I can imagine that it is difficult to lose your soul mate just when your life is starting with them.

The two young lovers were pretty average in my opinion.  it is funny how movies always show girls falling in love with the new boys and just leave the ones that they have known for a long time and could have a happy life with in the dust.  Jeanette MacDonald plays the niece and the deceased aunt and she has a more operatic tone of voice than I cared for.  She sings a few songs in the film, but nothing particularly memorable.  Gene Raymond plays her love interest and his deceased father and he is just a normal guy.  They have a few comedic moments as he tries to impress her, but, again, just kind of a lackluster romance between the two of them.  I found the flashbacks to the aunt (Jeanette MacDonald) and uncle’s (Brian Aherne) doomed romance much more interesting and I loved the old-fashioned, hoop-skirted costumes!  The ghost of the uncle’s beloved still talks to him and gives him advice, chiding him about holding a grudge against his enemy’s son and encouraging him to a be better person so that he can join her in heaven at a later.

The scenery was quite lovely and the story moved along at a pace quick enough that I was not bored, but I was not particularly captivated by this movie either.  It was just alright for me.  This movie was in color and has some nice sets and a few romantic moments, but the plot, pacing and acting are nothing special here.  If you can catch it on TV and there is not much else on, this is a decent movie to watch at home when you are in the mood for a rather maudlin romance.

Content:

This movie contains a scene were a bride is shot at her wedding so there is some blood, but it is fairly tame and not gory at all.  There are some verbal arguments, some drinking, and a few discussions of the war.  Appropriate for ages 3 and up, recommended for ages 8 and up.

Leave a comment

Filed under Classic Movies, Drama Movies, Fantasy Movies, Historical Movies, Romance Movies, War Movies

Miss Marple: By the Pricking of My Thumbs (2006) Movie Review

Miss Marple: By the Pricking of My Thumbs (2006)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Geraldine McEwan, Greta Scacchi, Anthony Andrews, O.T. Fagbenle, Michelle Ryan
Director: Peter Medak
Series: Agatha Christie’s Marple Series #9, (season 2, episode 2), a Masterpiece Mystery! Series
Release Date: 19 February 2006
Language: English
Length: 102 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis:

“Follow sophisticated sleuth Miss Jane Marple (Geraldine McEwan) in this crime thriller as she investigates the sudden and strange disappearance of an elderly woman, who left behind an eerie painting that could be a clue.  Joined by the lonely boozehound wife of a government detective (Greta Scacchi), Miss Marple will have her hands full as she solves the puzzling mystery in this adaptation of the chilling Agatha Christie whodunit.” — Netflix.com

Review:

This was a very interesting mystery movie as I really had no idea what was happening, but I knew that everyone in the town was in on it!  Miss Marple (Geraldine McEwan) is visiting a friend at an old folk’s home and gets sucked into a mystery.  Turns out one of the women died unexpectedly and another one, Mrs. Lancaster (June Whitfield) disappeared.  The only person who seems to suspect that something suspicious is happening is the lush Tuppence Beresford (Greta Scacchi), a lonely, empty-nester whose husband, Tommy (Anthony Andrews), believes he is too important and clever for his wife to understand what is going on his job and his life.  Of course, no one believes that Tommy’s Aunt Ada (Claire Bloom) died of anything except natural causes, but Tuppence is determined to follow the clues, such as they are.  She has a painting that has had additional details painted over the original and Miss Marple, who has encouraged her to investigate the mystery.  The painting leads them to a small town full of all kinds of suspicious characters!  Everyone seems to have a motive and they all did a great job at acting suspicious and like they had dark secrets to hide.

There are a lot of secondary characters in this particular episode of the Masterpiece Mystery! Agatha Christie’s Marple Series, but they are pretty easy to keep straight so don’t worry about it being too much.  There is a lovely innkeeper, who is always encouraging her guest to go to bed early because she is having an affair with the vicar; the vicar (Charles Dance), who has given up on his career and his marriage, and carries some bitter regrets in his past; the vicar’s wife (Lia Williams), who idolizes the local landowner and would do anything for him; Chris (O.T. Fagbenle), an American solder stationed in the village, who has fallen in love with Rose (Michelle Ryan), whose twin mysteriously disappeared and was found murdered years earlier; Ethan Maxwell (Michael Begley), a hilarious police constable who is determined to pin the mystery on Chris, his romance rival; Sir Philip Starke (Leslie Phillips), the local gentry, a refined elderly gentleman with a horribly spoiled young ward; Tommy, Tuppence’s husband, who finally comes to ferret out the truth with Scotland Yard; and a host of other secondary characters.  These people were very interesting and I enjoyed learning about their different secrets as Miss Marple slowly worked her way through the suspects and figured out who the murdered, past and present, really was.

The plot was interesting and the setting was gorgeous.  They are in this little town full of architectural details and beautiful details.  The actors and actresses were wonderful in their roles and I was captivated for the entire time the movie was on.  Miss Marple’s assistant, Tuppence, was a bit different in this movie as she is a lonely, frequently drunk woman, but it is mainly because she has nothing to do and no way to use her intellect.  I also liked the historical setting at the tail of World War II with the American military appearance.  I know that all of the Agatha Christie’s Marple Series take place in the same general timeframe, but it is not usually so obvious.  I confess that I had no idea who the murderer was, but the story totally made sense at the end when all of the clues were laid out on the table.  Another great addition in the Agatha Christie’s Marple Series.

Content:

This movie features several murders and some of the bodies are shown briefly.  There are scenes showing smoking, drinking, drunk people, cheating spouses, insanity, inbreeding, not taking religion seriously, conflicts between the American troops and the British locals, out of wedlock pregnancy, spoiled little rich girls and other mature issues.  Nothing is explicitly shown or dwelled on so I did not find anything offensive.  Appropriate for viewers ages 3 and up, recommended for ages 8 and up.

Leave a comment

Filed under Historical Movies, Mystery Movies, Romance Movies, War Movies

The Enchanted Cottage (1945) Movie Review

The Enchanted Cottage (1945)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Dorothy McGuire, Robert Young, Herbert Marshall, Mildred Natwick, Spring Byington
Director: John Cromwell
Release Date: 15 February 1945
Language: English
Length: 91 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: TV
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis:

“After a crash disfigures his face and maims his body, pilot Oliver Bradford (Robert Young) hides from family and friends in a seaside cottage. There he befriends homely, gentle Laura Pennington (Dorothy McGuire). The two marry for companionship – until some rare magic within the cottage transforms them into ardent and beautiful lovers. Director John Cromwell’s delicate, achingly romantic film is based on Sir Arthur Wing Pinero’s play, written in a post-World War I era of broken men returning to families who could not recognize them. When history sadly repeated itself, World War II film audiences likewise embraced a story of the transcendent power of love. The film so moved Young that he named his own California home The Enchanted Cottage.” — DVD Back Cover

Review:

This was a beautiful and romantic historical drama that I enjoyed quite a bit.  It is slow paced and there is not a lot of action, but it really struck a chord with me and has a wonderful message.  Two lost souls find each other, fall in love and find happiness in a world that values perfection and physical beauty.  Lets face it, most of us are just average looking.  There are some truly beautiful people out there in the world and some pretty ugly people out there, but most of us are just normal looking.  As you grow older, you come to realize that it is not about being classically beautiful, but in finding someone else who finds you beautiful regardless of the world’s standards.  Dorothy McGuire plays Laura Pennington, a homely girl in a small village.  She knows she is plain and tries to not let it bother her, but it is very lowering when you cannot get anyone to dance with you even when the men outnumber the women by five to one or more as the military is in town.  Robert Young plays Oliver Bradford, a wealthy young man who had it all before he was horribly scarred in battle during the war.  He doesn’t want pity so he breaks up with his beautiful fiancé and retreats to a cottage in the country.  There, the two meet and Laura helps Oliver get over his bitterness and realize that his life is not over.  As time goes by, they both believe that they are growing more beautiful but it is really just that they are completely happy together.

I really enjoyed this romance and found it very moving.  It reminded me of something my sister said about her then-fiancé.  I found him to be normal looking, attractive, but not overly so, but she believed him the most handsome man in the world.  This movie is all based around “beauty is the eye of the beholder” and I loved that it was a nice, thoughtful movie about two people finding happiness in the face of great opposition.  Of course, in reality, these two leads are movie stars and so are really quite attractive, but for their roles they used makeup and and styling to make them appear ugly.  Really, neither one of them was that ugly, but they were not overly beautiful either.  Dorothy McGuire and Robert Young are the stars in this movie and they really carried the film well.  I also liked Herbert Marshall, their blind friend who lives nearby and helped them with good advice.

This is an old, black-and-white movie that I had never heard of, but that I really enjoyed watching.  If you are looking for a clean romance that offers some good advice and a great message, look not further than this classic.  The setting is beautiful in a little enchanted cottage in the country and the historical setting makes it interesting.  The acting is great and the small cast really carries the film and turns it into something special.  If you get the opportunity to catch this on TV, I highly recommend you take advantage and watch it as I really enjoyed it.

Content:

This movie features some discussions about the war and battle scars (both on the outside and the inside).  The plain girl is shunned and not treated very well.  Most people pity the scarred war veteran and treat him like an invalid who needs care.  Really, this movie very clean and appropriate for viewers of all ages.  Recommended for ages 8 and up.

Leave a comment

Filed under Classic Movies, Drama Movies, Historical Movies, Romance Movies, War Movies

Kelly’s Heroes (1970) Review

Kelly’s Heroes (1970)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O’Connor, Donald Sutherland
Director: Brian G. Hutton
Release Date: 23 June 1970
Language: English
Length: 144 minutes
Movie Rating: PG
View Format: TV
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis:

“It’s The Dirty Dozen lusting after gold instead of fighting for clemency. Pvt. Kelly (Clint Eastwood) extracts some interesting intelligence from a captured German colonel: the location of $16 million in gold bullion. Problem is, it’s behind German lines in occupied France. Kelly and crew (Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, and Donald Sutherland) decide to risk everything for a life of luxury – and may defeat the Germans in the process. ” — Netflix.com

Review:

This is a lighthearted look at some serious combat in World War II.  When Kelly discovers that there a fortune in gold behind enemy lines, he gathers together a motley crew of misfits to join him in what could be considered brilliant – or suicide!  Clint Eastwood shines as the tough Private Kelly, busted down from his Lt. rank, a good soldier who has had some tough breaks in the war and decides that, since no one else is looking out for him, he is going to look out for himself.  He looks just as handsome and deadly here as he does in his Western movies and I loved seeing his take-no-prisoners lone cowboy character in Europe where he is forced to work with some other men to attain his goal.  Telly Savalas is Big Joe, Kelly’s superior officer, and he is reluctant to take off on this hair-brained scheme.  He is big on the bluster, but really has the best interests of his men at heart.  Don Rickles is hilarious as a rapacious acquisitions clerk who uses his position to make himself rich with his black market sales.  He is definitely not ready to see any action, but is too greedy to pass up this opportunity.  Donald Sutherland stars as Oddball, a kind of pre-hippie New Age kind of guy.  He is very laid back for a tank commander and is pretty funny to watch interacting with the other, more uptight soldiers.  Carroll O’Connor was my favorite in the film, though, as he was just too funny!  He is the Major General in charge of the area and, when he hears that there is a brave group of men who are determined to charge behind enemy lines no matter the danger, stopping at nothing to achieve their goal, he thinks that the war has finally found the heroes that it needs!  He grabs his box of medals and hustles off to where the action is to reward these brave men and has no idea what is really going on!  Watching his reaction to the radio dispatches was priceless!

The plot is simple, but the acting is great.  I usually struggle to keep the soldiers separate in movies as they all kind of look the same, but the personalities are so individual here that I did not have any trouble keeping everyone straight.  There is plenty of action, too, as the guys really have to take on the Germans to get to the gold.  They have tank battles, crawl through deadly mine fields and have plenty of rifle exchanges.  Of course, this is movie is not even trying to be accurate or give a statement about the war, but it is a fun look at a serious time in history.  I find myself smiling at the antics of the soldiers and empathizing with their wanting to improve their own lot in life as they are out there in the mud and the cold trying to make sense of the war going on around them.  This is a great classic that is well worth your time to catch on TV, especially if you are a Clint Eastwood fan.  Though the historical accuracy isn’t there, this is still a great action/war movie that will appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers.

Content:

This movie contains a lot of battle sequences, dead bodies, violence, some language, some sexual innuendo, crooked dealings, smoking, drinking and fighting.  Recommended for ages 8 and up.

Leave a comment

Filed under Action Movies, Comedy Movies, Historical Movies, War Movies

Nazty Nuisance (1943) Review

Nazty Nuisance (1943)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

nazty nuisance

Starring: Bobby Watson, Joe Devlin, Johnny Arthur, Frank Faylen, Jean Porter
Director: Glenn Tryon
Series: sequel to The Devil with Hitler
Release Date: 6 August 1943
Language: English
Length: 43 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: TV
My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Synopsis:

This short film is the sequel to The Devil with Hitler and focuses on Adolf Hitler (Bobby Watson), Benito Mussolini (Joe Devlin) and “Suki Yaki” (Johnny Arthur).  The three Axis leaders are out to sign a treaty with a sheik (Ian Keith) and have no idea that an American sailor (Frank Faylen) knows they are on the island.  The seaman takes over for the magician of a magic act and sabotages the dinner with the sheik.  He then has them believing that their submarine is taking on water and that they are going to die in a matter of moments, leading the 3 “allies” to start falling out amongst themselves.

Review:

This cannot really be called a movie, per se, but it is a stand-alone feature and is too long to be called a short film.  This feature was one of several made during World War II to ridicule and make fun of Hitler and the Axis powers.  It makes them seem stupid, silly and defeatable.  This movie definitely has a time and a feel to it and that is what made it more interesting for me than the actual events happening on the screen.  I can see why features such as this would be made during the war to boost morale and to keep the citizens left at home engaged in the fight without showing anything gory or demoralizing.  Other than that, this feature did not hold much interest for me.  Sure, there were some laughs in the film, but they were easy to anticipate and there were no surprises contained here.  Still, it is an interesting snapshot of history that shows what was going on in the USA on the homefront while our boys fought over seas.

Content:

This movie shows some mild pranks and jokes, some involving mild violence.  Appropriate for viewers of all ages, recommended for ages 4 and up.

Leave a comment

Filed under Classic Movies, Comedy Movies, Historical Movies, War Movies

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly (1967) Review

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (1967)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef, Aldo Giuffrè, Luigi Pistilli
Director: Sergio Leone
Series: The Man with No Name Trilogy #3
Release Date: 29 December 1967
Language: English
Length: 161 minutes
Movie Rating: R
View Format: TV
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis:

“While the Civil War rages between the Union and the Confederacy, three men – a quiet loner (Clint Eastwood), a ruthless hit man (Lee Van Cleef) and a Mexican bandit (Eli Wallach) – comb the American Southwest in search of a strongbox containing $200,000 in stolen gold. In his third classic spaghetti Western with Eastwood, director Sergio Leone continues to shake up the genre with stylish photography, a hefty dose of cynicism and an instantly recognizable score.” — Netflix.com

Review:

This is a classic spaghetti Western with an iconic musical score.  Even though a lot of people have not see this movie, they would all recognize the musical themes that are contained here.  I think that the music is simply amazing in this movie and it is arguably the best thing about the film – and there is a lot to enjoy in this movie!  For one thing, you have absolutely no idea what is going to happen next.  With 3 guys all out to get a treasure in gold for themselves, it is a no-holds-barred race to the cemetery where the gold is hidden.  These guys double, triple, quadruple cross each other and go from allies to enemies at the flip of a hat.  They make no excuses or apologies for being what they are though – tough loners who keep #1 in mind at all times!

The acting is good in this movie and there are quite a few excellent moments with secondary characters that show you the true nature of the primary 3 characters.  I hadn’t seen this movie in quite some time so the storyline kept me guessing and the excellent cast of characters kept my attention on what was going to happen next.  I did not remember that this movie had so much to do with the Civil War, but most of the problems come from being in the middle of the Union & Confederacy without belonging to either side.  There are a few tender moments that show men valiantly fighting for what they know is true and doing their best to win for their side, but there are also a lot of scenes showing what greed and power will do when you are in a position to abuse the men beneath you.

This is not your typical Western as there really is not a “good” guy in this movie.  Clint Eastwood supposedly plays the good character in this movie and he does do a lot of good things throughout the film, but he is not much above having his face on a wanted poster like the other 2.  I thought that this movie was much more realistic in this way as this was kind of an era where everyone was out there for themselves and trying to stay alive however they knew how.  The cinematography shows the dusty, dry scenery to its greatest advantage and was eye-catching in its simplicity.  Shot with simple, spare lines, this movie shows a fluid power struggle and what can happen when 3 strong willed, trigger-happy men set their hearts on the same end goal.  If you have not seen this classic Western, you definitely should take the time to watch it – it is called a “classic” for a reason!

Content:

This movie shows death, dying, torture, violence, fighting, battle sequences, drinking, smoking, hanging, and other violent scenes.  Recommended for ages 14 and up.

1 Comment

Filed under Classic Movies, War Movies, Westerns