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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

  1. A still from The Unholy Night (1929)

    The Unholy Night 1929

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Lionel Barrymore. Starring Ernest Torrence, Roland Young, Dorothy Sebastian, and Natalie Moorhead.

    A thick fog envelops London. A mysterious killer strangles several men in the shadowy streets. We learn the killer is targeting officers in a particular WWI unit. The setting shifts to a manor house. Roland Young delivers a charming, wry performance as the story settles into a closed-circle mystery. Then Dorothy Sebastian and Boris Karloff burst in. Sebastian over-emotes and struggles to maintain her ludicrous accent. Karloff struggles with his own invented accent and looks lost. The tonal shift proves fatal as the film limps along to an elaborate climax with a cheat ending. Great title, poor execution. The archive.org print—sourced from TCM—is passable.

  2. A still from The Thirteenth Chair (1929)

    The Thirteenth Chair 1929

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Tod Browning. Starring Conrad Nagel, Leila Hyams, Margaret Wycherly, and Helene Millard.

    Bela Lugosi’s first talkie. He plays a sharp-dressed police inspector investigating a mysterious murder at a British estate in colonial India. I always assumed a) Lugosi and director Tod Browning first worked together on Dracula and b) Dracula was Lugosi’s first significant talkie. Wrong on both counts. Back to this movie. It’s an atmospheric mystery undone by a convoluted ending that reveals a slew of information the audience couldn’t have intuited. Disappointing, but Lugosi’s performance remains strong. The Warner Archive DVD print is watchable.

  3. A still from X the Unknown (1956)

    X the Unknown 1956

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Joseph Losey and Leslie Norman. Starring Dean Jagger, Edward Chapman, Leo McKern, and Anthony Newley.

    If The Quatermass Xperiment marked Hammer Horror’s conception, this marks its birth. Dean Jagger plays a scientist battling a radioactive blob spewed forth from the earth’s core. Unlike the other blob movie (that came two years later), Jimmy Sangster’s screenplay—his first produced—plays more grown-up, remixing the Quatermass essence into an efficient thriller exploiting the era’s atomic-age fears. Engaging performances and gruesome makeup effects offset the budget-constrained miniature work. Love the pervasive hints of cold, from the ice in the mud to the foggy puffs of breath in every outdoor shot. The Scream Factory print looks great, though not as good as the Kino Lorber Quatermass.

  4. A still from The World Is Not Enough (1999)

    The World Is Not Enough 1999

    C-: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Michael Apted. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, and Denise Richards.

    So many reviewers savaged Denise Richards’ casting, yet the script called for a nuclear scientist named Christmas Jones capable of passing for a high-class prostitute to a Russian black-market gangster. To those reviewers, I ask: Who would you have cast?

  5. A still from Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

    Tomorrow Never Dies 1997

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Roger Spottiswoode. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, and Teri Hatcher.

    Reminds me of a great bit from Austin Powers:

    Dr. Evil: Are we ready to release our new software?

    Number 2: Yes, sir. As requested, it’s full of bugs, which means people will be forced to upgrade for years.

    Dr. Evil: Outstanding.

    Except that’s in this movie. Both hit theaters in 1997, so that’s… something? I dunno. Everything looks cheap: the sets, the car, the effects, even the clothes. Makes a compelling case for Worst Bond Movie. Insert joke about Ricky Jay wishing he could disappear from this turkey. Followed by The World Is Not Enough.

  6. A still from GoldenEye (1995)

    GoldenEye 1995

    B-: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Martin Campbell. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, and Famke Janssen.

    Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond debut. Loved it back in ‘95. On revisiting, it still entertains. The mix of action and light humor harkens back to Roger Moore’s better installments. Director Martin Campbell may prove more journeyman than auteur, but he delivers an entertaining product. Followed by Tomorrow Never Dies.

  7. A still from Pointed Heels (1929)

    Pointed Heels 1929

    D: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by A. Edward Sutherland. Starring William Powell, Helen Kane, Fay Wray, Richard 'Skeets' Gallagher, and Phillips Holmes.

    Watched on the same site I found Charming Sinners. A better quality print of a lesser quality film.

    William Powell plays a Broadway producer carrying a torch for chorus girl Fay Wray, but she loves struggling composer Phillips Holmes. Wray and Holmes marry, cutting Holmes off from the family funds and regulating them to a shabby apartment abutting perpetual construction. Powell finances a vanity project for the newlyweds, but it doesn’t go well. Wray leaves Holmes. Powell makes a pass at her, realizes she still loves Holmes, and gets them back together. Continue reading...

  8. A still from Palm Springs (2020)

    Palm Springs 2020

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Max Barbakow. Starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons, and Peter Gallagher.

    I wanted this to be weirder, darker, or funnier. It’s fine, but I wanted this to be weirder, darker, or funnier.

    Watched on 02 Aug, 2020
  9. A still from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)

    Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope 1977

    C: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by George Lucas. Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Alec Guinness.

    First time seeing the “Special Edition” since its theatrical run in 1997. Once was enough.

  10. A still from The Greene Murder Case (1929)

    The Greene Murder Case 1929

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Frank Tuttle. Starring William Powell, Florence Eldridge, Ullrich Haupt, and Jean Arthur.

    Disappointing follow-up to The Canary Murder Case has William Powell reprising his role as dilettante sleuth Philo Vance investigating a wealthy family where the last surviving heir stands to inherit a fortune. Continue reading...

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