Friday, January 23, 2015

DVR Catch Up

The last few weeks I have been watching and clearing out the movies stored on my DVR. Since I'm too lazy to devote a whole post to each one (plus, I just don't have that much to say about some of them), here's a quick list.

Fritz Lang's M - Considered by many one of the finest German films ever made, with good reason. Peter Lorre, in his first major role, is creepy and gross, in the best way. While the police chase this child murderer all over the city, the criminals band together (they're remarkably well organized) and end up catching him themselves. One of the best parts of the movie, I think, is the mock trial they hold. Lorre gives a long speech, pleading for his life and explaining that he just can't help himself. When he reaches the climax, screaming, "Wird nicht! Mußt! Wird nicht! Mußt!" I always get chills. (Translation: "Will not! Must!" although the subtitles say "Don't want to, but must!.") Check it out here.

And sweet dreams!

Third Finger, Left Hand - More or less your typical "boy meets girl, boy and girl hate each other due to wacky misunderstanding, boy and girl fall in love" comedy of the 40's. Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas are charming, as always.

Dr. Phibes Rises Again - Only my abiding love for Vincent Price got me through this. If the first movie, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, was a B movie (barely), this one was a Z. Plot holes big enough to drive a truck through, continuity errors galore, and just all around cheese. According to IMDB, a remake of Abominable is in development, to which I can only say: dear God, why?

The Emperor's Candlesticks - William Powell and Luise Rainer star as Polish and Russian secret agents, respectively. They are each tasked with smuggling documents to St. Petersberg and end up hiding them in a pair of candlesticks, each one having a secret compartment. There is some suspense as they chase each other across Europe, both trying to snatch the candlesticks from each other and eventually, of course, falling in love. Just when it looks darkest for them both, the czar of Russia pardons them and gives his blessing for them to get married. As often happens, with spies who fail their missions for personal reasons. Powell and Rainer are as usual: he's suave and charming, she's dainty and coquettish.

The Irish In Us - James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, and Frank McHugh play three brothers in a "typical" Irish family, with adorable Mary Gordon as their long-suffering mother. Olivia de Havilland also stars but is underutilized. Not much of a plot, and the love story leaves something to be desired, but it was kind of endearing just the same.

Big Hearted Herbert - A small B flick stuffed with character actors such as Guy Kibbee, Henry O'Neill and Aline MacMahon, this was a funny little movie. Herbert prides himself on being "regular folks," to the extent that when his daughter's fiance brings his upper crust family to dinner for the first time, Herbert huffs and puffs until they're thoroughly offended ("College men! Idlers! Loafers! Wasters! That's all colleges turn out nowadays!") . As payback, his wife Elizabeth and the children put on an exaggerated show of "regular folks" (read: country bumpkins) the next night when Herbert brings his biggest client home for dinner. In the end, of course, Herbert realizes the error of his blustering ways.