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.
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.
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?
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.
Pierce Brosnan debuts as James Bond in the franchise’s 17th entry. I remember catching it on the big screen during its initial run and loving it. It holds up well. The mix of action and light humor harkens back to Roger Moore’s better installments. Campbell may be more journeyman than auteur, but he delivers an entertaining product. Followed by Tomorrow Never Dies.
Watched on the same site I found Charming Sinners. A better quality print of a lesser quality film.
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...
I wanted this to be weirder, darker, or funnier. It’s fine, but I wanted this to be weirder, darker, or funnier.
First time seeing the “Special Edition” since its theatrical run in 1997. Once was enough.
Disappointing follow-up to The Canary Murder Case has Powell reprising his role as diletante sleuth Philo Vance investigating a wealthy family where the last surviving heir stands to inherit a fortune. Continue reading...
I watched a low-res encoding of a scratchy print replete with frame and audio drop-outs on a Russian social networking site. Beggars can’t be choosers.
Ruth Chatterton plays a kept wife whose husband is conducting a not-so-discreet affair with her best friend. William Powell plays her former flame returned to town. The sinners in question (Chatterton’s husband and best friend) prove far from charming, rendering the title a case of flagrant false advertising. Continue reading...