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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

  1. For the Defense 1930

    3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by John Cromwell. Starring William Powell, Kay Francis, Scott Kolk, William B. Davidson, Thomas E. Jackson, and Harry Walker.

    Powell plays Bill Foster, a slick defense lawyer so well-respected in the underworld that when his car’s stolen, the crooks return it after getting a look at the registration. Continue reading...

  2. The Dawn Patrol 1930

    4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Howard Hawks. Starring Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Neil Hamilton, and Frank McHugh.

    Howard Hawks’s first sound picture. Barthelmess plays a cynical World War I pilot at odds with commanding officer Hamilton. When orders send Hamilton to a different outfit, Barthelmess assumes Hamilton’s position and struggles under the burden of command.

    Hawks bursts into the sound era with terrific (for the time) dialog, dynamic aerial photography (love the POV bomb shots), and the burgeoning Hawksian theme of men enduring grim fates as a duty. Remade eight years later with Errol Flynn in Barthelmess’s role.

  3. Men Without Women 1930

    3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by John Ford. Starring Kenneth MacKenna, Frank Albertson, J. Farrell MacDonald, and Warren Hymer.

    Perhaps the first of Ford’s early sound pictures that rated his full attention. After an accidental collision, an American submarine drifts toward the ocean floor. MacKenna plays a disgraced British officer serving under an assumed name on the sinking sub. When the sub’s commander succumbs to stress, MacKenna assumes command and reveals his true identity. The lighthearted opening belies the transition to taunt drama. Though the surviving prints are a mix of dialog and title cards, Ford’s confident execution shines through. John Wayne appears as a radio operator on the surface.

  4. Born Reckless 1930

    3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by John Ford. Starring Edmund Lowe, Catherine Dale Owen, William Harrigan, and Marguerite Churchill.

    A botched jewel robbery lands gangster Lowe in court. Up for re-election, the judge seizes the publicity opportunity and sentences Lowe to fight in World War I. In France, he plays baseball, sees some action, and returns a war hero. Back in New York, Lowe opens a nightclub, falls for socialite Owen, and crosses his former gang. The mix of comedy, wartime drama, and gangster film never gels, but Ford’s formal execution—love the final shootout—makes it passable. Look fast for Ward Bond as a drill sergeant.

  5. Trolls World Tour 2020

    2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Walt Dohrn and David P. Smith. Starring Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Rachel Bloom, and James Corden.

    A great voice-cast and some Dr. Seuess-inspired production design wasted in service of a story about cultural appropriation that ends in a sing-along.

    Watched on 07 Sep, 2020
  6. Spider-Man: Homecoming 2017

    4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Jon Watts. Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., and Marisa Tomei.

    Better than I expected thanks to Keaton’s MVP performance and the script’s reducing the origin story to a single sentence.

    Watched on 05 Sep, 2020
  7. Hereditary 2018

    5 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Ari Aster. Starring Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, and Alex Wolff.

    Right in my nihilistic, trap-movie-loving wheelhouse. I bought everything Toni Collette’s all-in performance was selling. Aster’s unwavering commitment and sure-handed execution surprised me. More than once, I dismissed a plot point as lazy writing, only for it to twist and punch me in the gut. And I loved the ending.

    Watched on 04 Sep, 2020
  8. The Big Trail 1930

    4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Louis R. Loeffler and Raoul Walsh. Starring John Wayne, Marguerite Churchill, El Brendel, and Tully Marshall.

    John Wayne’s first starring role. He’s good but raw—on par with the poverty-row oaters he’d headline for the next nine years. Here he plays a trapper leading a wagon train up the Oregon Trail. The script includes the requisite character drama and romantic interest. Disregard them. The production itself is the real star. Continue reading...

  9. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 2017

    3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by James Gunn. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and Vin Diesel.

    Quill’s man-child characterization wears thin. Drax remains funny as ever. Baby Groot steals the show.

    Watched on 29 Aug, 2020
  10. The Abominable Snowman 1957

    2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Val Guest. Starring Forrest Tucker, Peter Cushing, Maureen Connell, and Richard Wattis.

    Peter Cushing’s first film for Hammer. He plays a botanist who hitches a ride aboard Forrest Tucker’s Himalayan expedition to find and study the legendary Yeti. Of course, Tucker’s motives prove less than scientific. And of course, one-by-one the party members meet unfortunate ends. Continue reading...

Pagination

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