Tag Archives: hollywood

A Study in Scarlet

A 1933 adaptation of the famous Sherlock Holmes mystery, directed by Edwin L. Marin and starring Reginald Owen as Sherlock Holmes, Warburton Gamble as Dr. Watson and June Clyde as Eileen Forrester.

Sherlock Holmes remains a cult classic among movie goers as well as fans of the famous detective series. Everybody knows the story, so not going into that detail. This one is a black and white classic from the 1930s.

Both Reginald Owen and Warburton Gamble have done good roles as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson respectively, giving that right edge to both their characters as imagined by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. IMDB 5/10

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Brilliant spy movie “Hopscotch” (1980) directed by Ronald Neame and starring Walter Matthau, Glenda Jackson among others.

Miles Kendig (Walter Matthau) is a CIA field agent but after a job in which he fails to arrest the Russian Yaskov, he is assigned to a desk job, which he hates. Kendig does not want a desk job and instead sets about destroying the CIA by starting to publish his memoirs.

He visits Salzburg to meet his old flame Isabel Von Schonenberg (Glenda Jackson) and sends one chapter of his memoir at a time to CIA, and other secret agencies around the world. Sufficiently smarted, CIA sets about stopping him and he is always one step ahead like the game of hopscotch.

Brilliant maneuvers by Kendig takes him places all the while deceiving the CIA bosses and also the Russians because there is some explosive stuff against the Russians as well. He makes it look like a casual play like a James Bondish kinda movie.

Walter Matthau is suave and matured for his role and Glenda Jackson plays her part well. Both these characters are not the youngish types even when this film was made in 1980 so maybe its an old school kinda film. But a nice tight plot keeps the interest alive in the movie throughout. Not a very high octane stuff like the recent James Bond movies or the Mission Impossible ones but good fun with the old timers. IMDB 5/10

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A beautiful movie based out of Bahamas of an ungrateful son to his mother who has slogged for him all the years in order to send him to the university in the US.

Sam (Nathan J. Burrows) comes back to his home in Bahamas after a seven year absence during which he cut off totally from his family. His mother Mildred (Tamara Marie Simms) is about to lose her house because of huge debts and none of her three daughters are working in order to provide for her.

One daughter works the streets and other daughter has eyes on the pastor. One more daughter already has some children of her own so she can’t help. Mildred has heart problems for which the doctor recommends a hospital stay for her.

Sam’s fiancee Robin (Charae Sands) is too big for her boots with her arrogance and stupidity. While Mildred is distraught with her unending problems and finances and health, Sam and his fiancee go about town buying expensive things, while Sam refuses to help the family. Mildred has a heart attack after a big fight with Sam, and that changes a lot in Sam.

Nice movie, not much of a complicated plot, but simple story with fine messaging. Love for parents, love for family, empathy, support – simple things in life are all that matters.

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Miss Sadie Thompson

Interesting 1953 movie “Miss Sadie Thompson” directed by Curtis Bernhardt and starring Rita Hayworth, Aldo Roy among others.

Based upon a story by W. Somerset Maugham, Miss Sadie (Rita Hayworth) arrives in American Samoa islands with a bang. Nobody knows her past, but the American soldiers stationed there don’t care a damn. She brings sunshine into their dull and dreary lives.

But there is a past, which nobody knows about, except the pastor, Davidson, who then forces her to go back to San Francisco to face her past and live through that experience. In the meanwhile she falls in love with a soldier Aldo Ray who wants her to go to Sydney and he will come later and marry her there and settle in Australia.

Twist in the story towards the end with a tumultuous and also a happy ending. Rita Hayworth has done a good role as the swashbuckling heartthrob. Other than that there is not much in the story. IMDB 3/10

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Marilyn Monroe – The Biography

Probably the most detailed, exhaustive and explosive biography one can ever get of the enigmatic, beautiful and mysterious Marilyn Monroe.

Donald Spoto has done full justice to Marilyn Monroe by bringing to light all aspects of Marilyn’s life from her birth to her sad and unnecessary death. She had a tragic life for sure, being born an illegitimate child, with her mother leaving her to foster home at the age of 6 months itself. Father unknown and a history of mental illness from the supposed father side, succession of foster homes, being treated like a burden by the families, mother becoming a mental patient and incarcerated for the better part of her life in an institution.

From that emerged a star, hesitant at first, but with clutching to one friend after another, one affair after another not finding happiness anywhere. Succession of marriages with Joe DiMaggio the baseball star and Arthur Miller, the playwright, being the famous ones. Both marriages ended in fiasco with DiMaggio physically abusing her and Miller a mediocre playwright depending upon her for succor. In the end Joe DiMaggio was the one who truly loved her and understood her fully.

Psychological problems, health problems, one after another doctors, psychiatrists, all clinging like leech to her and using her for their personal gains, all selfish, ambitious at her expense. And then her nervousness in front of the camera, studio bosses berating her, blaming her for production losses – all that a girl alone in the world has to endure, she did it with equanimity without blaming anyone.

A really tragic story of a life snuffed out prematurely, possibly murdered because of jealousy and hatred. No connection to the Kennedys which according to Spoto was pure humbug. Brilliant biography of a troubled star by Donald Spoto. Goodreads 5/5

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The Trouble with Harry

Delightfully nice comedy film “The Trouble with Harry” directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring John Forsythe, Shirley Maclaine among others.

A corpse is found in a small village and the story revolves around it. At first it is an unknown corpse but later it is revealed to be the husband of Jenifer Rogers (Shirley Maclaine) who did’nt have a good relationship with her husband. Another story is narrated by Miss Ivy Gravely (Mildred Natwick) who says she accidentally killed him when the man Harry tried to drag her into the bushes. Meanwhile Capt. Albert Wiles (Edmund Gwenn) thinks he has accidentally killed him with his shotgun whilst shooting for rabbits.

In comes Sam Marlowe (John Forsythe) who sort of neatly ties everything in, though he is not a cop. In the process of finding about Harry, couple of relationships gets formed.

Its a nice delectable little comedy movie made by Alfred Hitchcock. There is always a suspense when Hitchcock is around and that is served aplenty. Shirley Maclaine has done a good role, this being her debut film. IMDB 6/10

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Krush Groove

American musical movie “Krush Groove” (1985) directed by Michael Schulz and starring Blair Underwood, Sheila E among others.

Its a story of a record label owner growing too fast with no official finance from banks etc. Russell (Blair Underwood) who owns Krush Groove has multiple hits to his label’s name but no money to finance production of records, those were the gramophone record days not unlike today’s digital era. He is forced to drop into a loan shark for the funds which then he is unable to repay and the consequences.

One of the music groups belongs to his brother who then moves away to another record label because there is no official written contract between them. It all comes to a pass in the end. Meanwhile both he and his brother are wooing a red hot singer Sheila.

Lot of foot tapping music in the movie, which makes up for the weak story. The singing and dancing are super throughout. IMDB 3/10

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Alice Does’nt Live Here Anymore

American coming of age comedy drama “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Ellen Burstyn, Kris Kristofferson, Harvey Keitel among others.

Alice (Ellen Burstyn) has a rough as an edge husband who is a truck driver and a 11 year old precocious son Tommy. The husband dies in a vehicle crash leaving Alice with virtually nothing on hand. She does a garage sale of her meagre belongings and sets off on a road trip with her talkative son with a plan to reach Monterrey, California where she grew up and where she was a singer before her marriage.

Along the way, they stop in Phoenix, Arizona for her to get a singing job, pick up some dope until she meets a younger forceful Ben (Harvey Keitel) who gets into bed with her. One fine day Ben’s wife lands up at her door, and Ben follows causing mayhem and forcing Alice and the kid to leave post haste.

Then they reach Tucson and she finds a job as a waitress in a dining parlor with lots of customers and too much to do for a first timer and with all her stresses with her. There she meets David, a divorced ranch owner who gets along with Tommy very well until a point when Tommy gets on his nerves and he whacks him. Their goal was to reach Monterrey by the time of Tommy’s 12th birthday.

Its a nice comedy drama with some very fine acting by Ellen Burstyn. All others are okay as well. The kid Tommy got on my nerves as well. Nice movie to watch with the family. imdb 6/10

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Game Night (2018)

American comedy film Game Night (2018) starring Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, Kyle Chandler among others.

Rachel McAdams saves the movie, she is beautiful, vibrant, svelte, hot & sexy. Jason Bateman does characters which are irritating to the extreme, like he did in Horrible Bosses, keeps talking non stop puerile jokes which vexes the viewer. Kyle Chandler is okay after his role as a FBI officer in “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

There are some oddball characters in the movie, one who keeps asking his wife whether she has slept with a celebrity actor kind of a creepy one. a police officer who wears his uniform all the time, even inside his house.

Its a plot gone wrong horribly for some amateur gamers getting mixed up with real criminals and how they resurrect the situation with the on the button decision making which is incredible to say the least. Good laughs towards the end though. IMDB 2/10 (for Rachel McAdams)

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The City of the Dead

A Hollywood supernatural horror movie “The City of Dead” (1960) starring Dennis Lotis, Venetia Stevenson, Betta St. John among others.

Nan Barlow (Venetia Stevenson) is a student in a college and for her term paper she selects witchcraft as her subject to research upon. Her professor Alan Driscoll (Cristopher Lee) urges her to visit the village of Whitewood in Massachusetts. She goes there against the pleas of her boyfriend and brother.

Upon reaching Whitewood, Nan finds it in a desolated state with nobody around. The only normal person is Patricia Russell (Betta St. John) who has come to the town because her grandmother passed away and her grandfather is the father of the church which is more or less closed down.

There is a history to the village going back some 200 years when a witch Elizabeth Selwyn was burned at stake on 1st February 1692 and she has sort of cursed this village. But the witches need two virgin ladies every year for their sacrifice during Candlemas Eve and Witches Sabbath.

Its not a bad movie, there are few elements of horror in it, plus ample supernatural forces by the way of witches. Its a clean uncomplicated story line with passable acting by the characters. IMDB 5/10

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The Gunfighter

Lovely American western movie “The Gunfighter” (1950) directed by Henry King and starring Gregory Peck, Helen Westcott among others .

Jimmy Ringo (Gregory Peck) is known as the fastest draw in the west and nobody ain’t matching him for that. A young reckless cowboy infuriates him forcing Jimmy to draw and the kill the young kid. His three brother wants revenge.

Jimmy heads to Cayenne where he hopes to meet his estranged wife and kid whom he has never seen so far. He runs into Marshal Mark Strett (Milard Mitchell) who is his old friend and treats him well, but urges him to leave town as soon as possible. His wife Peggy (Helen Westcott) refuses to meet him.

Meanwhile another daring young policeman needles Ringo for a draw but Jimmy refuses to get involved. He just wants to meet his wife and kid and leave. The three brothers meanwhile arrive into town for a showdown.

Nice clean movie with very little gun fight unlike what you normally see in western movies. In fact there is hardly any gunfight around save for one or two. Gregory Peck is nice and restrained and mature acting skills do him too good. Milard Mitchell as the sheriff has done a reasonably good job.

Lot of excitement in the movie, lots of human interest without too much of emotional showdown. There is a kind of a legacy for good honest gunners in the wild west with the underlying theme being either them or me. IMDB 8/10

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Last Night at the Alamo

Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 1984 Sundance, “The Alamo” (1984) a film about the closing down of a favorite bar somewhere in Houston, Texas.

Some oddball characters we have here, Ichabod and Mary, a married couple constantly fighting and arguing with each other. Claude is another character who had a huge fight with his wife back home and is the most dramatically angry. He constantly calls his wife who has ordered him to stay in motel for a couple of nights.

Then there is Cowboy Regan, who is supposedly in the movie business. He talks to his friend, the senator to stall the demolition of the bar, but fails in that attempt. His is shown as a pathetic character, because he tries to get into the pants of one girl but fails miserably, wins and loses a tequila contest, gets into a fight with another patron Steve, injuring himself in the process and tries to get into the arms of another girl who stays opposite the bar but gets slammed in return.

There is nothing worth a story in the movie. The acting is quite natural though and the production is quite good. Camera work, & photography are quite superb. Difficult to understand the Texan accent though.

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The Best Years of our Lives

Award winning American epic drama film “The Best Years of our Lives” (1946) directed by William Wyler and starring Myrna Loy, Frederic March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, Cathy O’Donnell, Howard Russell among others.

Al Stephenson (Frederic March), Fred Derry (Dana Andrews) and Homer (Harold Russell) are returning from action in the World War II. Incidentally all three are from the same county and get a transport plane to fly them back.

Upon coming back, all three of them face problems in integrating back to normal society. Al is married to Milly (Myrna Loy) and has teenaged daughter and son. He is having anxiety problems having to go back to his banking job. Homer lost both his hands at the war and is fitted with steel hooks so he is having issues with his family including his girlfriend Wilma (Cathy O’Donnell). She still loves him, but he feels a burden on everybody, becomes moody and depressed and angry.

Fred barely knew his wife Marie (Virginia Mayo) before he was shipped out to war. Upon coming back he realises he still knows her very little. She has taken a job in a night club. He is an expert and accomplished bombardier in the war for the air force but has very little skill for getting a normal job. He goes back to his drug store job which fetches him very little money. His wife is ambitious so she leaves him.

Fred falls in love with Peggy, (Teresa Wright), the daughter of Al, but Al sees nothing in the marriage and asks him to break it off. Feeling dispirited he tries to leave the county, when he lands up a job to dismantle old aircraft parts for use in the building business.

Though very lengthy at 2.50 hours the script is quite good and very subtly hints at the issues surrounding the war veterans, the problems they have in adjusting to normal lives. They are hampered by bureaucracy in day to day life, whereas in the war, they had to take decisions upon instinct and gut upon the theatre of war. Very nicely each men belongs to different branch of the services – army, air force & navy.

It fetched a clutch of awards including the Oscars and Golden Globes. I thought Dana Andrews has done a superb job and also Frederic March. Among the ladies, it was okay performance from them.

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The Duel

Deadly psycho thriller movie from Steven Spielberg, The Duel (1971) where the villain is a truck, a monstrous one at that.

It was his directorial debut for Steven Spielberg. David Mann (Dennis Weaver) is an ordinary American returning home to his family in his Plymouth Valiant. He had differences with his wife early on in the morning. He is driving through the Mojave desert when he passes a tanker truck. The dilapidated truck overtakes him at high speed blaring with noise.

Then follows a cat and mouse game between the car driver and the truck driver, with the maniacal truck driver trying to kill David. The truck driver whose face is never shown on the camera tries to push David onto an onrushing trailer train at the railway crossing.

The deadly game has its own deadly moments when David tries to outguess, outrun and out flank the truck driver but fails miserably. The camera work is simply magnificent and shows the monster truck in its true elements with its size, sound and power of its engines.

Superb acting by Dennis Weaver, probably the only actor in this movie, besides the truck of course.

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Monkey Business

American comedy directed by Howard Harks and starring Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, Marilyn Monroe, Charles Coburn among others.

Dr. Barnaby Fulton (Cary Grant) is a chemist working in a pharmaceutical company and he is working on a formula to make people young. Edwina Fulton (Ginger Rogers) is his wife. Oliver Oxley (Charles Coburn) is his boss and anxious for the formula because he wants to be young and rich also.

There is a mix up when the monkey is let loose and mixes up some chemicals and dumps the remains in the office water fountain. Everybody drinks the water and acts funnily. Marilyn Monroe is the secretary working in Barnaby’s office. First Barnaby goes young and then his wife drinks the formula she goes young and ga ga. Ginger Rogers finds a baby sleeping on her bed along with her and thinks Barnaby has become a baby.

There is a laugh riot towards the end, with lot of mix ups. Cary Grant has to make an effort to be funny. Ginger Rogers shows us some of her legendary dance moves and Marilyn Monroe looks cute and svelte.

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