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Reviews Written by
Alex da Silva (St. Annes, UK)

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Roxie Hart [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Roxie Hart [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

3.0 out of 5 stars Black bottom hula, 28 Dec. 2015
Dancer Ginger Rogers (Roxie Hart) agrees to confess to a murder in order to further her career. Female murderers are always getting off in Chicago and dodgy lawyer Adolphe Menjou (Billy Flynn) knows how to milk the situation for maximum publicity. Does the plan work? Reporter George Montgomery (Homer) tells the story in flashback.

The film starts well but it soon becomes clear that it is going to continue in a rapid-fire dialogue manner which I find grates. So, that’s what the film does. Everyone talks too quickly and the whole film seems to only have one joke. It never really develops. Add to that a pretty annoying cast and watch things drag on. It’s a pity that the story didn’t dwell more on Iris Adrian as “Two-Gun Gertie” whose story seemed like it could be far more interesting. Also, the rivalry between Ginger and socialite criminal Helene Reynolds as “Velma” wasn’t developed. To the detriment of the story. The best parts of the film are when Ginger dances and she only does this twice.

I notice that on YouTube there is a clip of her dancing the Charleston in a scene that was cut from the film. What!! It’s precisely what the film needed more of and would have been the film’s best bit. Who on earth decided to cut it? It’s a gem. The film is ok if a little irritating.

Powder Town (Region 2)
Powder Town (Region 2)
Dvd ~ Victor McLaglen
Price: £10.83

2.0 out of 5 stars Annoying, 26 Dec. 2015
This review is from: Powder Town (Region 2) (DVD)
Scientist Edmond O’Brien (Penji) is persuaded to work on a secret formula when his lab blows up. But there are those who want to get their hands on his work. The trouble is he doesn’t want to share with anyone.

Edmond O’Brien should be top billed instead of his annoying bruiser sidekick Victor McLaglen (Jeems) as it is his story. What’s going on with that? Things are worsened by the fact that O’Brien is even more annoying than McLaglen. His simpleton manner is irritating and a complete nonsense and the fact that all those women in the boarding house are after him doesn’t say much for womankind. We also have the awful Mary Gordon as their landlady. She is the only Scottish woman who manages to make it sound like she is putting on a fake Scottish accent. Irritating.

So, basically the cast are rubbish, the plot is stupid, the humour is never funny and the overall experience is boring. They obviously wanted Lucille Ball but couldn’t get her so look-a-like June Havoc gets the role of Dolly. It’s all a waste of time. And what about the ending when he reveals the formula for love. It’s just infantile crap.

Footlight Serenade [DVD] [1942] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Footlight Serenade [DVD] [1942] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by uniqueplace-uk
Price: £16.23

4.0 out of 5 stars Knockout musical, 25 Dec. 2015
Heavyweight boxing champion Victor Mature (Tommy) wants his own stage show in which he can star. His gets something lined up with James Gleason (McKay) who gets continuously frustrated with Mature’s ideas. No-one dares say “No” to Mature. Mature likes the look of chorus girl Betty Grable (Pat) so makes her understudy to lead Cobina Wright (Estelle). However, Grable has a boyfriend John Payne (Bill) who also gets a role in the show as Mature’s boxing sparring partner. Things are set up for a showdown between Mature and Payne.

The songs and dancing in this film are all good and that is a pleasant surprise. There are also quite a few numbers performed and that helps save the narrative. Especially when you have the annoying Phil Silvers in a film. Mature’s character is also pretty unpleasant and totally unrealistic as a boxing heavyweight champion – he displays way too much energy. However, the women are good in this and there are amusing moments even from Mature as a self-obsessed narcissist. John Payne is billed top but shouldn’t be and he does fine in his role. It’s an enjoyable film.

This Gun for Hire [ 1942 ]
This Gun for Hire [ 1942 ]
Dvd ~ Alan Ladd
Offered by zoreno-uk
Price: £9.86

4.0 out of 5 stars No more peppermints, 22 Dec. 2015
This review is from: This Gun for Hire [ 1942 ] (DVD)
Alan Ladd (Raven) is a hired killer who carries out a job but is double crossed by his peppermint-munching businessman boss Laird Cregar (Gates). Once Ladd discovers the betrayal, he is determined to get even not only with Cregar but also with the man at the top Tully Marshall (Brewster). Meanwhile, magician singer Veronica Lake (Ellen) is on a secret assignment to spy on Cregar as he has come under suspicion from the US government of selling secrets to the enemy. She is charged with getting the dirt on him. Ladd and Lake stumble across each other and an unlikely alliance is formed. Lake has a boyfriend Robert Preston (Michael) who is a police officer and who is also involved in the chase but in a separate capacity.

First of all, Alan Ladd should be credited with the lead role. Robert Preston - I don’t think so!! The cast are uniformly good, in fact, Lake and Ladd are above average and Cregar is excellent as always. I’m not an Alan Ladd fan but this is definitely the best role I have seen him in so far. We see that Ladd has kind traits and the film touches on the psychology behind his character and so he is a likable bad guy. And the chemistry that he has with Veronica Lake definitely works. You’ll be hoping they get together romantically by the end of the film. The film is stylishly shot and Lake gets to sing a couple of entertaining songs. The film is better than I thought it would turn out to be, especially after already seeing Ladd and Lake in “The Glass Key” and “The Blue Dahlia”. This film is much better than those offerings.

Suspected Person [DVD]
Suspected Person [DVD]
Dvd ~ Clifford Evans
Price: £6.71

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just give me the money, 20 Dec. 2015
This review is from: Suspected Person [DVD] (DVD)
American bank robbers Robert Beatty (Franklin) and Eric Clavering (Dolan) travel to London to track down Clifford Evans (Jim) who has escaped with the money. He is living with his sister Patricia Roc (Joan) who unknowingly rents out a room to detective David Farrar (Inspector Thomson) who is tailing the gang and who is also after the money to crack the case and arrest all 3 guilty men. Singer Anne Firth (Carol) also has lodgings in the same house and becomes the girlfriend of Evans. Can Farrar crack the case?

It’s a zippy story that keeps you watching and so it scores points on that front. It also has a couple of surprises in store, especially for Farrar as he thinks he has things solved. Not quite. I also liked the 2 bad-guy robbers and Anne Firth sings a good song in the nightclub. However, I have to give the film an overall verdict of “ok” as opposed to “good” as people speak their lines too quickly so it’s not always clear what they are saying. This is especially true of the character of Eddie at the film’s start and Farrar is also an offender in this respect. He speaks too quickly and swallows his vowels in a Noel Coward kind of way. Also, Clifford Evans is a poor lead character – he’s not very appealing or convincing as a tough guy. And how about those fake punches!

Unpublished Story [1942]
Unpublished Story [1942]
Dvd ~ Richard Greene
Offered by adfilms
Price: £11.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Jiggery-pokery in the orbit of Uranus, 19 Dec. 2015
This review is from: Unpublished Story [1942] (DVD)
Reporter Richard Greene (Randall) returns from Dunkirk and heads straight to his newspaper HQ to tell the story. He is motivated to get the truth to the public and cannot abide peace sympathisers such as the “People for Peace” movement who he wants to expose. However, this group seems to have an ulterior motive. Valerie Hobson (Carol) is a rookie reporter who joins him in his adventures.

Well, it’s all rather boring. The accents are quite difficult to understand – you have to adjust yourself to the rapid plumy diction. What on earth are they saying? The Scottish bloke speaks the most clearly! Once you get over this you wait for a plot but after about 50 minutes there still isn’t anything going on. It’s a film about reporters during WW2 but no strong lead story. What is this film about? Worse, we have to follow proceedings as led by the thoroughly dislikable Richard Greene. The rest of the cast also fall flat apart from Valerie Hobson. You spend a lot of this film waiting for something to happen and daydreaming about better things.

The Night Has Eyes [DVD]
The Night Has Eyes [DVD]
Dvd ~ James Mason
Price: £6.23

4.0 out of 5 stars The moors have eyes, 14 Dec. 2015
This review is from: The Night Has Eyes [DVD] (DVD)
Schoolteacher Joyce Howard (Marian) takes her man-hungry teacher friend Tucker McGuire (Doris) on a holiday to the Yorkshire moors where their friend and work colleague Evelyn disappeared one year ago. They get caught in a storm and seek refuge in a house in the middle of nowhere where James Mason (Stephen) lives. Hold on, though, Mason is a bit weird and not particularly pleasant. Could he have something to do with the disappearance of Evelyn?

Once housekeeper Mary Clare (Mrs Ranger) and gardener Wilfrid Lawson (Sturrock) turn up, we have a full house and it’s a good cast. Apart from doctor John Fernald (Dr Randall) who is a bit of a creep. The film has tense moments and is shot in an atmospheric location that keeps you gripped. You may well change your mind a few times as to who is the most sinister character.

I’ve visited the Yorkshire moors and it is exactly like that in terms of weather conditions. The film gives you the sense of a “Wuthering Heights” experience. It’s grey and it’s bleak and it’s treacherous. And James Mason lives there. Something weird is definitely going on.

They All Kissed The Bride (Region 2)
They All Kissed The Bride (Region 2)
Dvd ~ Joan Crawford
Price: £9.16

3.0 out of 5 stars She rescinded an order, 7 Dec. 2015
Joan Crawford (MJ) heads a trucking company and is a no-nonsense boss who demonstrates strong leadership. She is, of course, lacking one thing. And this comes in the shape of reporter Melvyn Douglas (Mike). However, Douglas isn’t so impressed with the way that Crawford runs her operations and is determined to expose her. They both fall for each other in this gentle comedy.

The film is ok if a little boring. My wife found it more interesting than I did. Crawford wears some cool outfits, especially the slinky black outfit. It’s as if she’s covered in sparkling Christmas lights. It’s also interesting to see how they ripped off Dynasty and that other famous Joan – Collins - who has obviously provided the inspiration here as the powerful woman in charge. Crawford is good as is truck driver Allen Jenkins (Johnny) who later became Officer Dibble and went on to patrol Top Cat’s patch.

They Flew Alone (The Wings of a Woman) DVD
They Flew Alone (The Wings of a Woman) DVD
Dvd ~ Anna Neagle
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars They flew alone, 29 Nov. 2015
This film tells the story of Amy Johnson, the first female pilot to make all sorts of solo flights and set records in the 1930s. She meets fellow aviator Jim Mollison who, likewise, sets all kinds of records in what can be seen as a rivalry. Fate brings them together and they marry. However, the marriage has problems and then the 2nd World War breaks out where they both take their places and play a role. Unfortunately, for Amy...

Anna Neagle portrays Amy Johnson and Robert Newton plays Jim Mollison and it’s not a bad film. It certainly seems shorter than its hour and three quarters running time. We have the obvious patriotic call for all women to join in the war effort at the film’s end and it’s a shame that Neagle tries a northern accent. She kind of slips in and out of it and sounds like a posh person putting on a northern accent. Still, we get an accurate portrayal of events in her life including a glimpse of the alcoholism that was to plague Mollison. What do you expect, he’s Scottish!

Criterion Collection: I Married a Witch [DVD] [1942] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Criterion Collection: I Married a Witch [DVD] [1942] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Price: £12.15

4.0 out of 5 stars Beware of the oak tree, 25 Nov. 2015
Burnt as a witch, Veronica Lake (Jennifer) and her father Cecil Kellaway (Daniel) put a curse on Fredric March (Wooley) and his descendants so that they will always be unlucky in love. The film concentrates on the present day as March is seeking election to office and is about to be married to his financial backer’s daughter Susan Hayward (Estelle). However, the spirits of Lake and Kellaway assume human forms and start to cause trouble…

The film is amusing and entertaining. It takes us through humorous scenes and ends on a funny note as Lake and March spend way too much time together. The supporting cast are excellent and the film’s short length means it zips by. It’s funny that the witch is called Jennifer as that is my wife’s name. It’s all unrealistic nonsense but this allows you to focus totally on the comedy without being sidetracked by a secondary serious plot.

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