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Il segreto del vestito rosso (1965)
Cyd's husband has disappeared while on holiday in Rome and she enlists the help of the American Embassy to locate him. A drunk stumbles upon a dead man at Trevi Fountain. The dead man's apartment is robbed by a couple of inept thieves. Hugh is a newspaper editor in search of a story and learns of former lover Cyd's dilemma and decides to get involved. Enjoyable Italian made thriller with lovely on location photography. Hugh with the help of the inspector eventually ties these pieces together. But not before having to sift through a number of red herrings to get to the motivation behind Cyd's missing husband and the murder. The story is a bit difficult to follow but it moves along at a good pace and will keep your attention.
Kiss Her Goodbye (1959)
Say Hello to This Movie
An attractive young couple's car is broken down on the side of the road on a hot afternoon in rural Florida. The young man refuses help from the local police who stops to help but then asks a young farmer looking on nearby to take them into town. The farmer agrees to do this attracted by the girl. Who is this couple, where are they going, where are they from, etc. Do yourself a favor and DO NOT READ REVIEWS OR ANY SYNOPSIS BEFORE WATCHING THE MOVIE. The acting is very good especially Sharon Ferrell's inaugural performance. Recommended.
Lo spettro (1963)
Spirited Atmospheric Tale
Wheelchair-bound, morbid Doctor Hitchcock is being treated for his paralysis by handsome young doctor Peter Baldwin with a poison that is quickly followed with an antidote at his dreary estate. Hitchcock's young lovely wife Barbara Steele and Baldwin are having an affair that Hitchcock is aware of. Hitchcock's doting housekeeper is also aware of the affair. Steele convinces Baldwin to do away with her husband. Though this is a routine formula the story takes some interesting twists with an ending that is anything but predictable. Good direction and acting made this an enjoyable viewing. Recommended especially to Steele and Gothic horror fans.
Operation Amsterdam (1959)
Sparkling WWII Thriller
The Germans have invaded Holland and are in the process of occupying Amsterdam, some of them masquerading as Dutch fighters called Fifth Columnists. The British dispatch British Army Intelligence Officer Tony Britton with Dutch diamond men Alexander Knox and Peter Finch to get the industrial grade diamonds out of Amsterdam before Hitler can get them for use in machine processing for weapons production. Eva Bartok drives the trio from the dock into Amsterdam after being prevented from committing suicide and then sticks around to assist in the mission. Based on a true story this is well made with great acting and very suspenseful. Beautiful on location filming in and around Amsterdam. The movie so effectively puts the viewer into the frightening situation the Dutch were facing that it plays as good as a documentary. Highly recommended!
The Dark Hour (1936)
Time for a Mystery
Strikingly beautiful Irene Ware lives with her two wealthy, disagreeable uncles, who are inexplicably living in fear for their lives. She is befriended by a retired detective neighbor and romanced by an active detective. When one of the uncles is murdered the detectives join forces to solve the crime. Benton Churchill is the standout in the cast as the believably tough, smart, and experienced detective. A good cast executes a well-acted whodunit with lots of twists and turns. What is unique and quite entertaining is watching the interaction between the two detectives as they hypothesize various scenarios based on newly discovered facts. This also has an excellent ending. The movie I watched was on Prime and is a terrible copy. This is worth searching out and I feel would have gotten a better rating from me if I had seen a better copy of the movie.
Dangerous Money (1946)
Being Under Chan's Custody or Protection is Deadly
Charlie is traveling aboard an oceanliner from Honolulu en route to Australia with a stopover in Samoa. He is approached by US Treasury agent Scott Pearson, who is traveling undercover to deal with "Hot Money" being smuggled out of the Philippines. He believes that someone is trying to kill him and needs Chan's protection. Charlie tells him to accompany him to the floor show to observe the other passengers instead of going to his room and then is murdered while seated at the show with Chan. C'mon Charlie! Chan commits to finding the murderer and uncovering the smuggling ring before going on to Australia. There's way too much Sen Yung and Willie Best . The script is weak, the direction amateurish and the production lean especially with the air time alloted Yung and Best. However, this is one of only five films made by the lovely Gloria Warren and she was very good. Recommended only as a curiosity to see Warren or for Chan aficionados.
The First World War (2003)
Comprehensive Historical Perspective
Incredibly detailed account of the war and the European political landscape in the early 1900s. The only thing I took issue with is the perspective of Russia going into the war. Russia had come off a long unproductive conflict on the Korean peninsula. The Russian generals were well aware of Germany's military might and superiority over their capability. They tried in vain to advise the czar against getting involved as they strongly believed they would be crushed by the Germans. I'm also not sure that Germany went into the war with the trepidation that is expressed in the documentary. This is the first documentary I've seen that correctly depicts the Kaiser for the monster he was. Also it does an excellent job of reviewing the worldwide nature of the war and the broad scope of the German attack including fomenting internal turmoil within its adversaries. This is must viewing for any student of history.
The Strange Woman (1946)
Not So Strange
Engrossing saga set in 1824 Bangor, Maine of how a poor and abused woman uses her circumstances and beauty to become the richest person in town cunningly luring the local shipping magnate into marrying her. Some great casting against type with Gene Lockhart, Louis Hayward, Hillary Brooke and George Sanders having varying degrees of sympathetic roles as the manipulated. Hedy is excellent as the ruthless upwardly scheming woman who still remembers where she's from as she shows generosity to those less fortunate. Solid supporting cast delivers in this nicely shot drama. Recommended especially for fans of Lamarr.
3 Steps to the Gallows (1953)
Won't Leave You Hanging
Excellent British Film Noir "3 Steps to the Gallows" follows American Sailor Scott Brady trying to visit and then just locate his brother while docked in London. Mary Castle as the lounge singer at the Gay Mask club gives this film an extraordinary aura. Her abbreviated performance of "There's No Way Out" paves the way for Brady to commence making contact with all of the characters involved in the plot. Pay attention - no one is above suspicion. Brady is more than a bit of a bull in a china shop but the rest of the cast is more subtly believable. This moves along at a good pace with no dead time. Worth seeking out.
Think Twice Before Retiring to the Beach
Captivatingly bizarre movie. Dickie and Albie, both injured and on-the-run following a failed heist, stumble upon effeminate George and promiscuous Teresa's secluded castle on the shore. Lionel Stander as the menacingly uncouth thug Dickie is the standout in the cast as he takes over the household while waiting for the gang boss to come and get him and his partner. Donald Pleasence and Franciose Dorleac as the invaded couple were also excellent as they deal with not only the crooks but an unwelcome family visit. Not for everybody but if you're in the mood for something unusual from the 60s or just wanting to view an example of early Polaski .
Raw Deal (1948)
Gang boss Raymond Burr greases the skids for Dennis O'Keefe to make a prison break in spite of Burr setting him up for the rap and owing him $50k. Claire Trevor desperately loves O'Keefe helping him escape and narrating her emotions effectively throughout the film. Marsha Hunt is the attractive good girl reminding O'Keefe that deep down he is a decent guy. It's a bit predictable and some scenes stretch credibility. However, a terrific cast, good noir dialog, solid camerawork (watch how Burr is filmed and don't miss Trevor and the wall clock near the end of the film) and a number of film noir situations creating tension add up to a good viewing experience for those of us enjoying this genre.
Foreign Intrigue (1956)
Intriguing Euro Mystery
Beautiful Eastman color film based on the popular TV series. Robert Mitchum discovers his wealthy employer Victor Danemore dying in the library of his Riviera villa. Mitchum was employed as a PR guy to fabricate a past for Danemore. Following suspicious questions about the death, he decides to embark on an unsettling journey to unravel Danemore's past and real identity. Good storyline, shady characters, noirish atmosphere, and reasonable plot twists add up to a very good viewing experience.
Detective: The Speckled Band (1964)
Worthy Adaptation of This Classic
Twin sisters Julia and Helen Stoner live a weird existence terrorized by their ogre-like stepfather, brilliantly played by Felix Felton, in a dreary estate. Engaged Julia dies inexplicably after experiencing strange happenings and noises. Two years later Helen begins to experience similar unsettling sounds after she gets engaged and eventually turns to Holmes for help. Fine acting in an atmospheric setting with a storyline that stays true to the Conan Doyle novel is a pleasant surprise in this pilot episode for the 1964-65 made-for-tv series. Douglas Wilmer and Nigel Stock are okay as Holmes and Watson. Recommended especially if you're a Sherlock Holmes fan.
City of Missing Girls (1941)
Missing in Action
Dull but well acted story of young women that have turned up missing that have one thing in common - they have been attending the Crescent School of the Arts in pursuit of getting into show biz. I enjoyed watching a young John Archer, pretty Astrid Allwyn, crusty HB Warner, and devious Phil Van Zandt give their all in what had to be a pretty inexpensively made film. Also look for Herb Vigran, who amazingly was unaccredited, as one of Phil Van Zandt's henchmen. This an okay time waster but don't seek it out.
Cat Girl (1957)
Beautiful Barbara reluctantly returns to her uncle's dreary home after a 9 year hiatus at his request with her worthless husband and equally unreliable "friends" in tow to learn of her inheritance. Excellent cast and top notch production in this effective chiller. Highly recommended if you're in the mood for an eerie movie -- then watch with the lights out!
Voodoo Man (1944)
"This Is Getting Monotonous"
So the sheriff remarks after being informed that a fourth young woman is missing in his territory. (Bela and George probably felt this way after doing their upteenth z movie). "We are working tirelessly to find the other missing women" he says while his deputy is asleep on the couch! This movie is a hoot! George Zucco and Bela are the Voodoo Men -- Zucco gets a wild headdress, robe, beads and does the bizarre chanting; Bela just gets the robe with the stars. Poor John Carradine got no robe but does get to play bongos. There is no Sally in the movie cast but there is a Stella; she along with Betty and Mrs Marlowe are strikingly beautiful women. The plot is that Bela is abducting young women in attempt to revive his wife, who has been in a trance for the past 22 years, using voodoo. Zucco owns a gas station that the gals stop at to ask directions and George sends them Bela's way and then warms up his headdress. So bad it's good!
She'll Have to Go (1962)
Made for Anna
Pleasant movie about a couple of impoverished brothers living in a mansion that get stiffed in their grandmother's will. Anna shows up as the heiress and they bounce back and forth as whether to marry or kill her to get at the money. None of the comedy works. Outcome is predictable. Karina is gorgeous.
Gold of the Seven Saints (1961)
Mildly entertaining story of a couple of prospectors being dogged by a group of bandits in hot pursuit for their gold. There is good chemistry between Moore and Walker throughout the film as the prospectors. Gene Evans as the leader of the bad guys is the standout in the cast. The cinematography of the desert southwest is magnificent. Overall a movie that will keep your interest with some good twists. Recommended if you're in the mood for a Western.
Let It Be (1969)
Absolutely, Positively, Incredible!
Paul on the piano knocking out a classical piece; George helping Ringo compose Octopus's Garden on the piano; John and Yoko dancing to George's I, Me, Mine; John doing the slide guitar on his lap for George's For You Blue; Paul and Ringo pounding out some blues on the piano; Paul doing the beautiful un-Phil Spectorized version of The Long and Winding Road with a strong assist from the group and Billy Preston which was preceded by a gorgeous version of Let It Be; And it all culminates with the concert on the roof that frankly defies description. For all the things that I've read about the difficulty of these sessions, and some of that comes through in the movie, once they got going they sure all seemed to be enjoying themselves. If you're a fan this is a must. Even if you're not, it's great to revisit the late 60's Beatles. I'd have given it a 20 if I could!
Disturbed assistant curator McDowall and his boss Ernest Clark discover an unscathed stone statue while surveying almost complete fire destruction of one of their warehouses. Clark is killed while McDowell is running an errand and he suspects the statue of foul play. McDowell is frustrated that he is passed over for the promotion to the boss's job and that quintessential 60's beauty Jill Haworth doesn't return his affections. Following a death in the museum involving the statue, the decision is made to sell it to a New York museum. Enter Jim Perkins, an expert from the New York museum to assess the authenticity of the statue. He and Haworth are attracted and he believes the statue is genuine. McDowell investigates the statue himself and discovers the secrets to its power and how to control it. He uses it destructively to address his frustrations and then becomes conflicted about his use of it. This is a well-done and acted British production. As the story progresses, it gets a little silly. Perkins would not have been my first choice for his role as the chemistry between he and Haworth isn't believable. This is still recommended for those who enjoy a fairly well-made horror flick.
Unknown World (1951)
Dull outing about a group of scientists and a financier embarking on a journey to find a refuge to escape what they have determined to be near certain nuclear holocaust by drilling into the earth. Reminiscent of "At The Earth's Core", this has none of the charm of that movie. Instead it focuses on a lot of pseudo scientific mumbo jumbo. The group goes down in a special vehicle called a Cyclotram but it doesn't do much. Much of the movie appears to be shot in a cave. There is the requisite conflict between the financier and one of the scientist. Nothing happens in this. Bad waste of time.
Schüsse aus dem Geigenkasten (1965)
Playing Jerry's Tune
Robberies of a significant amount of cash from a home safe in Pasadena and gold bars from a family farm outside of Chicago are tied together by the bullets being fired from the same weapon used to kill the occupants. That gets the FBI involved and Jerry Cotton and Phil Decker put on the case. They suspect that there is a gang readying another big heist in the Big Apple. Jerry finds a lame way to infiltrate the gang (as a drunk he beats up the members of the gang impressing the leader). While some of the plot does lack credibility it is an action packed film that moves along at a good pace. There are similarities to Death and Diamonds in the plot with Jerry gaining the affections and confidence of gang moll, in this case Sylvia Pascal, to help crack the case. However, this movie has more depth in the storyline and makes it a more enjoyable viewing. The unusual musical score throughout is an additional bonus. Recommended especially if you enjoy crime dramas.
The Manster (1959)
Two Ugly Heads Aren't Better Than One
Mad scientist Tetsu Nakamura has a couple of failed experiments on his brother and wife turning them into mutants while studying evolution. Conveniently, journalist Peter Dyneley stops up to his cabin laboratory hidden on top of a volcano to do an interview and the "good" doctor seizes on the opportunity to try again. After drugging him, Nakamura injects him with the experimental serum and then uses his ravishing assistant Terri Zimmern to lead Dyneley astray into a life of drunken binges and Geisha girls giving the serum time to take effect. Dyneley eventually evolves into a murderous two-headed Neanderthal. Only worth viewing for its camp value.
Dynamit in grüner Seide (1968)
I'll Do The Vacuuming
FBI agent Jerry Cotton is to assume the identity of infamous electronics burglar alarm disabling specialist Rick Trevor, who has just been released from Dartmore prison and is flying to LA to join the notorious Stone crime syndicate. Prior to disembarking from the plane, Trevor is nabbed and the switch made. Cotton's assignment is to unmask Stone whose organization has been wreaking havoc throughout the US and is suspected of getting ready for another major caper. The acting is mediocre with Nader's British accent as Cotton impersonating Trevor particularly atrocious. Furthermore, Cotton as Trevor is continuously insisting on meeting the reclusive Stone irritating the gang and making it too obvious that Cotton is an imposter. Not to mention that he's supposed to be an electronics nerd but he can single-handedly whip this tough-guy organization with guys the size of gorillas. There's a few good glimpses of mid-60s LA but the gang hide-out, The Green Silk bar, looked like a place you expect to find in an alley on the south side of Chicago rather than LA and with a doorman outfitted to be working a posh 5th avenue hotel. Inside the bar doesn't get any better with three gals dancing uninspiringly in a Spartan setting. Silvie Solar provides the female character to fight over. The last half hour or so the movie goes into hyper-drive making up for lost time during the meandering presentation of the heist. (They get wrapped up referencing a device called "the absorber" that is nothing more than a big vacuum!) Despite all of these shortcomings it is still pretty likable with a story that is easy to follow.
Exciting Euro Spy thriller even if you're not sure what it's all about. A couple of underworld figures get blown up by a rival named Oberon ostensibly to eliminate them from getting a cut in a big deal he is cooking up. He instructs his right hand gal, Maria Perschy, to contact Jo Walker who's on holiday in the area. She puts Walker on retainer to find a nuclear physicist (they were popular victims and hostages in the 60s) and gives him dancer Lilane Dulovic as a lead. Following a somewhat romantic visit with Jo, she is murdered during a performance and that gets Jo reunited with old friend and fellow crime-fighter Captain Tom who is called into the case. The movie then trends in a direction reminiscent of Goldfinger. There's some great vintage cars (Jo's Porsche Speedster for one), scantily clad gals, good cinematography, and Bond-like action (Not to mention the theme song which gets replayed several times). The plot itself is fairly amorphous but who cares. It's a lot of fun especially if you like these 60's Euro spy flicks.