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Alex da Silva (St. Annes, UK)

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Deanna Durbin - It Started With Eve [DVD]
Deanna Durbin - It Started With Eve [DVD]
Dvd ~ Deanna Durbin
Price: £12.96

4.0 out of 5 stars Pass the cigars, 30 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Wealthy socialite Charles Laughton (Mr Reynolds) is on his deathbed. His son Robert Cummings (Johnny) comes to his bedside and Laughton has a final wish - he would like to see his son’s fiancée. Cummings rushes out to get his fiancée Margaret Tallichet (Gloria) but he can’t find her. In a desperate moment he asks hat-check girl Deanna Durbin (Anne) to stand in and pretend to be Gloria. Laughton takes a liking to Durbin and problems arise the next morning when Laughton starts to improve. How long can the pretence be maintained? Especially as Laughton keeps calling for her….

This film is funny and easy-going. All the cast are good, the best being Deanna Durbin and the worst, for me, was Robert Cummings and his slightly wimpy nature – he is playing for farce and I think he just goes a little over the top. He just rushes around a little too much. There is also a good performance from Catherine Doucet as Mrs Pennington. Her manner is spot on with her disapproval of the proceedings and her habit of fiddling with her pearl necklace to exhibit her anger and anxiety is perfectly executed.

As regards the story, it’s complete nonsense so just go with it. The characters provide the comedy to keep things going, although you have to feel sorry for Margaret Tallichet. She hasn’t done anything! She is definitely given harsh treatment in this film. You could even go as far as to say that Deanna Durbin is the evil one – hence the title referring to Eve.

As for the music interludes, Deanna only sings one turkey – “Going Home”. It comes at a sentimental point in the film and so it helps to lay on that rubbish quite thick. Can’t stand nonsense like that. However, her other two songs, both sung with her piano accompaniment are an enjoyable experience, especially the Spanish one. And she has an entertaining Conga dance scene with Charles Laughton towards the end of the film.

A Woman's Face (Un Rostro de Mujer) Spanish Import
A Woman's Face (Un Rostro de Mujer) Spanish Import
Dvd ~ Joan Crawford
Offered by Den's DVDs
Price: £8.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Great plastic surgeon, 18 April 2015
Joan Crawford (Anna) is on trial for the murder of her boyfriend Conrad Veidt (Torsten). We follow her story in flashback as told by selected witnesses before the judge makes his decision.

This is an entertaining film with many memorable scenes, eg, Anna contemplating killing the child Richard Nichols (Lars-Erik) by unlocking the safety gate as he leans against it while travelling on a cable car. You just know that she's capable and the scene is very tense. Another is the scene where Crawford has gone round to blackmail Osa Massen (Vera) about having an affair and a situation unfolds where Crawford slaps Massen. She does it several times and she really means it!

The main characters all do well with Crawford stealing the show as the bitter woman with a scarred face who has reconciled herself to a life of blackmailing others. Crawford's performance allows the audience to sympathize with this rather nasty character as the film evolves. The minor characters are OK but the film does contain an extremely annoying Donald Meek who plays 'Herman' the barman. He plays for comedy. He's not funny.

It's an engaging film - far-fetched but go along with it and it will entertain you.

Ladies in Retirement [DVD] [1941] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Ladies in Retirement [DVD] [1941] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £12.23

4.0 out of 5 stars Permanent retirement, 18 April 2015
Ida Lupino (Ellen) is a companion to wealthy elderly lady Isobel Elsom (Mrs Fiske). These two live together in an isolated country house on some marshland where it is always foggy and they have a maid Evelyn Keyes (Lucy) who resides with them. Lupino brings her 2 sisters - Elsa Lanchester (Emily) and Edith Barrett (Louisa) - to stay with her for what she says will be a few days. However, after 6 weeks, Elsom has had enough......and not surprisingly - for the sisters are mentally unstable and belong in a mental institution. They are insane. Elsom gives Lupino and her sisters their marching orders forcing Lupino to act in a way that shows her to be more dangerous than her mad sisters. Louis Hayward (Albert) turns up at the house to visit his aunt - Lupino - and borrow some money to flee the country as the police are after him for stealing money from a bank, but he starts to suspect that something sinister is going on…..

This is a dark, Gothic story with shadows and creepy scenery both outside on the marshland and inside the house. And it’s based on a true story from France in the 1880s. There are many memorable scenes as we follow Hayward's suspicions, and there is a lot of paranoia running through the atmosphere including a genuinely scary moment that occurs one night.

The cast are good - both Lanchester and Barrett are eccentric in their looniness and they provide some very funny dialogue as the two sisters. Ida Lupino holds the film together as we follow her attempts to protect her sisters and the foolish sacrifices that she makes. The worst of the cast is Hayward because he puts on a stupid, fake cockney accent - but he is still engaging as a scoundrel who is trying to solve a mystery.

It's an enjoyable film that will keep you wondering how things will pan out. However, I thought the ending was a cop-out. Things just suddenly seem to tie up in a rather rushed manner. It could have been better. Maybe, Lupino is still walking the marshes? We know the fate of at least one of the sisters - Barrett eventually became Edina's secretary 'Bubble' on 'Absolutely Fabulous' (UK sitcom) - you'll know what I mean if you've seen the programme.

The Tower Of Terror [DVD]
The Tower Of Terror [DVD]
Dvd ~ Wilfrid Lawson
Price: £9.84

4.0 out of 5 stars Life in a lighthouse, 12 April 2015
This review is from: The Tower Of Terror [DVD] (DVD)
An escapee from a concentration camp, Movita (Marie Durand), is rescued by Wilfrid Lawson (Kristan) at the lighthouse where he works just off the German mainland. He is German but isn't as patriotic as he is fixated on this woman who has turned up at his lighthouse and who resembles his wife who apparently drowned several years ago. At the same time a British spy, Michael Rennie (Anthony), fools Wilfrid into thinking that he is his co-worker who he is expecting to come and work with him. Rennie is really biding his time before he can make his getaway to England on an expected passing ship. Can Rennie make his getaway before he is revealed as an impostor and can Movita escape her German captors and more importantly, the desires of the complete madman that is Wilfrid Lawson......?

There is an interesting premise to this film as it is set on an island with a lighthouse. It gives 100% credence to the notion that lighthouse keepers are complete freaks. Wilfrid Lawson is excellent as an oddball lighthouse keeper with a hook for a hand who is afraid of no-one, rude to everyone and definitely very scary to live with. Check out what he keeps in his basement! At the end of the film, he just goes to another planet called planet INSANE and you really don't want to be there with him, especially if you are female. Whilst the story is entertaining, I thought that there could have been a better way of signifying who the Germans were. Still, it is a different story and I'll be keeping it to watch again.

Underground [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Underground [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

4.0 out of 5 stars Pirate radio is always best, 11 April 2015
Nazi soldier Jeffrey Lynn (Kurt) returns home on the night that his brother Philip Dorn (Eric) is due to make an illegal Resistance radio broadcast. The brothers are at odds in their beliefs but Lynn is unaware of how his brother feels and his role with the Resistance. One of Dorn’s allies is Kaaren Verne (Sylvia) who plays violin at a club. She becomes the focus of Lynn’s romantic interests but he remains unaware of her involvement in the Resistance. Will the Nazi brother suss out what is going on? And will he inform on his brother and the woman he loves to Gestapo chief Martin Kosleck (Heller)?

This film is better than expected and there are several tense scenes, eg, when Verne is sent to collect some radio equipment and must change her routine in the last seconds as Gestapo officers wait to arrest her. There is also a good scene between Gestapo secretary Mona Maris (Gessner) and Lynn as she points out a few home truths to him. I liked Philip Dorn and felt that it was his film and he should have been given the headline credit. He has a powerful scene when he goes to confront his Nazi brother about what course of action with regards the reporting of Verne that he will take. Dorn cannot afford the wrong decision to be taken and is prepared for what he may have to do. Another good scene involves Dorn and fellow Underground member Peter Whitney (Alex) as they confront Resistance traitor Wolfgang Zilzer (Hoffman).

The only poor acting comes from a couple of Resistance figures as they try to leave a club un-noticed. They stand out a mile in terms of suspicious behaviour. I’m afraid they get what they deserve for being so crap. Otherwise, the acting is very good all round. It’s a pity that they bring some complicated poem into the proceedings - no way would anyone remember that clunky thing.

Overall, a good film. The Gestapo team reminded me of the French Resistance UK comedy of the 1980s “Allo Allo”. Kosleck and Maris have that similar fetishized imagery working for them as was exploited by Gestapo officer “Herr Otto Flick” and his secretary “Helga”. There is definitely some kind of repressed kinkiness going on. The scene with the boots and the whip and Kaaren Verne draped over a seat. Definitely. The only detail missing is revealing that Kosleck is wearing ladies lingerie throughout the whole film.

Abbott And Costello - Buck Privates/One Night in the Tropics [DVD]
Abbott And Costello - Buck Privates/One Night in the Tropics [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bud Abbott
Offered by Qoolist
Price: £3.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Recruitment Propaganda, 15 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A & C inadvertently join the army while trying to escape police sergeant Nat Pendleton (Collins) who is chasing them for street selling without a licence. Once they arrive at their training camp, they are put through their paces in the same unit as spoilt rich kid Lee Bowman (Randolph) and his former chauffeur Alan Curtis (Bob). These two have a hatred for each other that is heightened by their affections for Jane Frazee (Judy). Who will get the girl…..? And will everyone be happy about going to war…..?

Well, I can answer that last question. Given that this is a blatant recruitment film, yes, everyone seems happy enough. In fact, it looks like quite a laugh with singing and dancing aplenty. Due to the nature of the film, nearly all the songs are war-related with some truly terrible lyrics about Uncle Sam and nonsense about loving the Constitution. However, as these songs are delivered by the Andrews Sisters it makes for good entertainment as we get to see the legends themselves performing 2 classics – “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “Bounce Me Brother With a Solid Four” which also includes some great Lindy Hop dancing.

A & C perform some routines and there are occasional funny moments as provided by Costello in between the shouting that Abbott seems to constantly engage in. He is rather an unpleasant character. Still, the film was better than I thought it would be despite the required sections of marching (yawn) and the flimsy storyline. Jane Frazee seems a bit of a slag in this. But maybe that’s what soldiers needed to see to motivate them. Whatever girl you want, you can have her. Just join the army.

“You’re a Lucky Fellow, Mr Smith” ….er, says who? I don’t think so. Much better to learn to Boogie Woogie. They should have settled the war with a Lindy-Hop and Boogie Woogie contest. The enemy wouldn’t have had a chance.

Texas [DVD] [1941]
Texas [DVD] [1941]
Dvd ~ William Holden
Price: £4.90

3.0 out of 5 stars Land of the Texacans, 14 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Texas [DVD] [1941] (DVD)
It’s the late C18th and William Holden (Dan) and Glenn Ford (Tod) are buddies making it to Texas. They get into trouble in a town and flee, then rob some outlaws, then escape a sheriff’s posse before splitting up and wishing each other luck. They know they will meet again. And they do. However, can they keep their friendship under the new circumstances? And who will get the girl – Claire Trevor (Mike)?

First of all Claire Trevor has a ridiculous name - “Michael”! For a girl! Who writes this rubbish? Her role is confusing. She is funny and likable when we meet her in her actions and manners, but her behaviour is appalling. How can she get away with betraying Ford like that? He is clearly the “good guy” while Holden is more of a loose cannon. However, their friendship still holds till the end of the film and their loyalty to one another is to be admired. Even to the point of riding away together, just the two of them, and leaving the “loose” Claire Trevor behind. Do they go for it? Well, maybe…….maybe not…

A lot of praise has been given to Edgar Buchanan (Doc) as the town dentist. Funnily enough, he was an actual dentist before he became an actor. However, I’m going against the grain on this. I couldn’t stand him. From his look to his accent and voice. I found him wholly unappealing. Not the character he was playing but actually him. His voice is the same as “Droopy” in the “Droopy” cartoons, ie, annoying.

The comedy is sometimes silly, the story takes a while to get going, the ending seems rushed and we needed some Indians. However, Holden and Ford are likable as the lead roles and the film is ok if a bit disappointing given the rave reviews I had previously read about it. As for Windy Miller, we all know that he lives in “Camberwick Green” these days. He owns a windmill and spends his days drinking homemade cider and falling asleep. For those who aren’t in the know, Google him.

Sun Valley Serenade [DVD] [1941]
Sun Valley Serenade [DVD] [1941]
Dvd ~ Sonja Henie
Offered by 101Trading
Price: £4.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Chataneegie Cha Cha, 12 Mar. 2015
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Milton Berle (Nifty) manages the Glenn Miller (Phil) band that includes piano player John Payne (Ted). They land a long-term gig with famous singer Lynn Bari (Vivian) in Sun Valley. Guess what – there’s romance between Payne and Bari. However, before they depart for Sun Valley, Payne has to collect a war refugee child that he has undertaken to look after. Enter Sonja Henie (Karen). And she’s not a child. Everyone goes to Sun Valley but Payne can only choose one woman. Or does the woman choose him?

The story is lightweight nonsense but the music is excellent. Every musical number is a highlight with the showstopper being Glenn Miller’s “Chatanooga Choo Choo” which also includes a sequence with Dorothy Dandridge and the Nicholas Brothers. Wow! The film also serves up Sonja Henie and her ice skating spins. For me, the skating sequences aren’t as powerful as the musical numbers, but they are still being performed by a 3 time Olympic gold medallist!

The film is funny and entertaining and contains some legendary performers. Definitely one to watch.

Western Union [DVD] [1941]
Western Union [DVD] [1941]
Dvd ~ Robert Young

3.0 out of 5 stars Dodgy brother and sister union, 2 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Western Union [DVD] [1941] (DVD)
Randolph Scott (Vance) is an outlaw trying to make good. He abandons his old gang and finds a job working for the Western Union company under the lead of Dean Jagger (Creighton). Joining him in his new employment is new recruit Robert Young (Blake). Both take a shine to Virginia Gilmore (Sue) who works for the company. She is Jagger’s sister. As they go about their work of setting up a telecommunication system across the land, they encounter hostility from Scott’s old gang, headed by Barton MacLane (Jack). And the Indians don’t seem too pleased about things either.

This film looks impressive in technicolour. It is definitely a bonus. The story is all rather humdrum, though. The only real interest in the first half of the film comes from the comedy sections between Scott and Young as they compete for the affections of Miss Gilmore. Hardly gripping. Talking of comedy, there is far too much with a special mention going to the very unfunny cook that is Slim Summerville (Herman).

In the second half of the film, we finally get some action sequences – including a very badly acted drunken Indian – but it’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before. Something of concern that kept revealing itself throughout the film was the incestuous relationship between Jagger and Gilmore. They needed to get a room!

The Son Of Monte Cristo [DVD]
The Son Of Monte Cristo [DVD]
Dvd ~ Louis Hayward
Price: £3.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Beware of The Torch, 27 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Joan Bennett (Zona) is the Head of State of Lichtenburg, although the real ruler is George Sanders (Gurko) and he is planning a marriage to Joan so that he can legally assume power by becoming king. Prime Minister Montagu Love (Von Neuhoff) is in alliance with Joan and both are opposed to Sanders and his power-mad schemings. It's up to Louis Hayward (Count of Monte Cristo) to sort out the mess. And maybe snag Joan for himself....

Not enough tension or variety in the settings to the story. It seems set in one location and it lacked some kind of variety. It cracks along at a fair pace and if you drop off asleep during it, you'll definitely miss plot developments. It's not a bad film, but nothing very standout about it. You can tell that George Sanders was uncomfortable with sword fights - his posture is terrible during his fencing sequences. I used to fence at school so it is very easy for me to spot. "The Mark of Zorro" is a better film from 1940 with regards to swordplay. This film also has a similar story but it's not as good.

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