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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

  1. A still from Five Star Final (1931)

    Five Star Final 1931

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Starring Edward G. Robinson, Marian Marsh, H.B. Warner, and Anthony Bushell.

    Would-be social outrage drama sees Edward G. Robinson editing a New York scandal sheet. Caving to ownership pressure, he assigns amoral reporter Boris Karloff to dredge up a scandalous, twenty-year-old murder story. Continue reading...

  2. A still from Waterloo Bridge (1931)

    Waterloo Bridge 1931

    C-: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by James Whale. Starring Mae Clarke, Douglass Montgomery, Doris Lloyd, and Frederick Kerr.

    Mae Clarke plays a showgirl reduced to prostitution in World War I London. During an air raid, she meets a naive but good-hearted soldier played by Douglass Montgomery. You can see where this is going. Continue reading...

  3. A still from Uma (1941)

    Uma 1941

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa and Kajirô Yamamoto. Starring Hideko Takamine, Kamatari Fujiwara, Chieko Takehisa, and Kaoru Futaba.

    Akira Kurosawa’s directorial debut. He took over after his mentor, Kajirô Yamamoto, left for a more commercial effort. The story concerns the eldest daughter of a Japanese farming family who convinces her parents to foster a pregnant horse during the winter. I lack the cultural context to appreciate much of the film’s nuance, but the production impressed. Yamamoto insisted on authenticity, so production spanned years to accomodate photographing the passing seasons.

  4. A still from Angel Baby (1961)

    Angel Baby 1961

    C: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Hubert Cornfield and Paul Wendkos. Starring George Hamilton, Mercedes McCambridge, Joan Blondell, and Henry Jones.

    Burt Reynolds’s debut. He plays an aggressive, womanizing good old boy. As the film opens, he’s fooling around with the titular Jenny Angel, a mute young woman played by Salome Jens. When Jenny’s mother catches them, she takes Jenny to Paul, a revival preacher played by George Hamilton. Standing before the congregation, with Paul’s urging, Jenny says, “God” and rediscovers her voice. Soon Jenny’s a preacher herself, but missteps by taking on an opportunistic business partner. Continue reading...

  5. A still from Eggshells (1969)

    Eggshells 1969

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Tobe Hooper. Starring Mahlon Foreman, Ron Barnhart, Amy Lester, and Kim Henkel.

    Tobe Hooper’s debut feature. An interesting but flawed combination of cinéma vérité and near surrealism. The nonsense story concerns two hippy couples living in a secluded commune house. Unbeknownst to them, the basement houses a mysterious entity. A cavalcade of visually arresting shots and sequences interrupted by stretches of pretentious dialogue and navel-gazing, it announces Hooper as a visual craftsman capable of marrying realistic and formal extremes.

  6. A still from Bad Seed (1934)

    Bad Seed 1934

    C: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Billy Wilder and Alexander Esway. Starring Danielle Darrieux, Pierre Mingand, Raymond Galle, and Paul Escoffier.

    Billy Wilder’s directorial debut. Pierre Mingand plays a spendthrift Parisian socialite cut off by his father. Angry and desperate, he falls in with a loveable gang of car thieves, crosses their cutthroat boss, and falls for the group’s decoy, played by Danielle Darrieux. Wilder made the film in France en route to Hollywood after fleeing Germany. While not as polished as his later efforts, it’s well-produced with engaging car chases and night-shots superior to most Hollywood fare.

  7. A still from X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

    X-Men: Days of Future Past 2014

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Bryan Singer. Starring Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, and James McAvoy.

    A convoluted time-travel story that crumbles under the slightest introspection. But I’m hard pressed to care given it retcons Last Stand from existence. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender wring out what little gravitas the material offers.

    Watched on 20 Feb, 2021
  8. A still from The Driller Killer (1979)

    The Driller Killer 1979

    B-: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Abel Ferrara. Starring Abel Ferrara, Carolyn Marz, Baybi Day, and Harry Schultz.

    Abel Ferrara’s debut feature. Despite the lurid title and graphic conclusion, The Driller Killer plays more like a character study than exploitation. Your mileage may vary, but I was onboard for this chronicle of a struggling artist’s descent into madness. Continue reading...

  9. A still from The Public Defender (1931)

    The Public Defender 1931

    C: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by J. Walter Ruben. Starring Richard Dix, Shirley Grey, Purnell Pratt, and Ruth Weston.

    Not about a lawyer. Richard Dix plays an intelligence officer returned home from the war to his playboy lifestyle. But unbeknownst to all, he’s adopted the secret vigilante persona of “The Reckoner.“ Along with his able assistants Doc and The Professor (played by Boris Karloff in the biggest part thus far in his career), The Reckoner works to expose a cabal of corrupt businessmen. The meager budget precludes any big action scenes or stunt sequences, but I love these sort of pulp vigilante stories. Even if—like this one—they’re quite nonsensical.

  10. A still from Thirst (1949)

    Thirst 1949

    F: 1 star (out of 5)

    Directed by Ingmar Bergman. Starring Eva Henning, Birger Malmsten, Birgit Tengroth, and Hasse Ekman.

    Slice-of-life drama follows Eva Henning and Birger Malmsten as a young couple trapped in a dysfunctional marriage traveling by train home from Italy. Both convince in their roles, but I couldn’t summon any empathy for their characters. Henning in particular irritated me—a credit to her performance. The film also digresses—via flashbacks and cut-aways—to the couples’ former lovers, who prove just as unengaging. The claustrophobic photography contributes to the sense of entrapment. An accomplished telling of a grating story.

Pagination

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