• So This Is Paris

    So This Is Paris

    ★★★★

    Been wanting to see this for years, and now glad that it didn't happen until this glowing new restoration. Unsurprisingly, a master class in comic timing and exposition---Lubitsch's sheer patience and confidence in letting moments build and unhurriedly pay off never ceases to amaze, no matter how familiar you are with his work. (The mix of laughter and pathos he can get out of merely showing a man crossing the street...and in a 68-minute running time, no less!) In a…

  • Kiss the Blood Off My Hands

    Kiss the Blood Off My Hands

    ★★★★

    In hot competition with Kiss Me Deadly and I Wake Up Screaming as the best all-time title for a film noir, and Exhibit A in the glories of what classical Hollywood filmmaking can provide even with extremely rickety plot construction and a shopworn story.

    Recently released prisoner of war Lancaster finds himself in London, where he kills someone in a bar fight, from whence he escapes by breaking into Joan Fontaine's conveniently located apartment. The film touches on the au courant…

  • 13 Lead Soldiers

    13 Lead Soldiers

    ★★½

    The mystery's fairly ho-hum, but at 64 minutes, this zips along pleasantly. Conway plays Bulldog Drummond in exactly the same way he portrayed the Falcon, so this can be treated as an extra entry in that series more than anything particularly Drummond-y.  (Albeit on a budget so low that it makes the outlay of those RKO B's look deluxe. In any case, the available print's murky enough that you won't notice.)

  • Zis Boom Bah

    Zis Boom Bah

    ★½

    The one and only (extremely marginal) point of interest in this college-set musical lies in the all-in-the-family casting, as once popular duo Peter Lind Hayes and Mary Healy costar with his mother/her mother-in-law Grace, who plays a (presumably) more hard-boiled version of herself. Fortunately, you can appreciate the meta-ness of this setup without actually having to watch! And for the love of all that's cinematically holy, if you're going to go to the trouble of casting Huntz Hall as a jack-of-all-trades offering 'Suits Cleaned and Pressed, Dogs Walked, Babies Minded, Sick Friends Sat Up With, Jitterbug Lessons *and* Swedish Massage', do SOMETHING with that!

  • Phantom of the Opera

    Phantom of the Opera

    ★★★½

    It's a little strange that Universal waited until
    this far into both the sound era and its storied horror cycle to produce a new version of Phantom. But given that holding off allowed for the addition of vibrant but suitably shadowy Technicolor and a period that saw the height of acceptance for opera/classical music in popular mainstream film (no
    matter how shoehorned in/random much of it may have been), they  probably made the right call. And if you've just acquired…

  • Let's Do It Again

    Let's Do It Again

    ★★★½

    Another entry in the 1950s cycle of musical revamps of 1930s comedy classics, this third go-round for The Awful Truth is much brighter and bouncier than expected. As with the others, it works best if you either haven't seen the Grant/Dunne version or try really hard to resist comparisons. The songs are highly tuneful, even if there's not a memorable one in the bunch, and there are few more reliable directors for something like this than Columbia's long-running, completely anonymous yet smoothly…

  • The Whistle at Eaton Falls

    The Whistle at Eaton Falls

    ★★★½

    Fascinating to see a major studio movie from the early 50s dealing so fully and multi-dimensionally with union and labor issues. This begins with the same 'docu-drama with heavy emphasis on the docu', just-the-facts approach as producer Louis de Rochemont's other releases, quickly becoming something much more character-driven and warmly human in tone. Siodmak employs his usual noir touches and framing as the story darkens, but the small-town setting also lets him channel his inner Clarence Brown, so to speak, and…

  • Man of Conflict

    Man of Conflict

    ★★½

    Late-career Edward Arnold the way we like him: expansive, brash and jovially menacing, playing another in his long line of larger-than-life but morally obtuse magnates. He wants to bring his son in to co-run the family business, but the heir apparent wants to work his way up from the bottom, incognito. Unfortunately, the honest scion's played by reliably anti-charismatic John Agar, and the energy drains away in the middle as he takes center stage. Arnold comes roaring back at the end with a scene that's both touching and more than a bit unsettling. Nothing new, but worth taking a look if you're an Arnold fan.

  • A Lady Mislaid

    A Lady Mislaid

    ★★★

    Two sisters move into their new home in the country and become entangled with the previous owner, who may or may not have murdered his wife. Short and sweet, with an enjoyable Alfred Hitchcock Presents-esque feel.

  • Something Money Can't Buy

    Something Money Can't Buy

    ★★★

    Nicely turned comedy-drama about a young married couple and their adjustments to
    postwar life. What's especially  interesting here is that both start separate businesses while also being new parents, not something I've seen often in 50s film. And for a good part of the running time, the wife's agency is far more successful than the husband's canteen/food truck. One of the great things about Youtube is that there's many opportunities to stumble upon these mostly unremembered UK films and be pleasantly surprised.

  • The Man in Black

    The Man in Black

    ★★★

    Movie version of a popular BBC radio show, with the eponymous gentleman sepulchrally narrating the oft-told tale of an imperiled heiress being energetically (and unsubtly) gaslit by assorted greedy relations. You've seen every  bit of this in other films, but in this genre, familiarity usually breeds fondness, and that holds true here.

    If you love old-time radio suspense/supernatural shows (or not-so-old, if you've put in quality time listening to BBC 4), and/or melodramas set spiritually, if not always actually, in…

  • Three Husbands

    Three Husbands

    ★★½

    A genially bizarre kinda-sorta-but-not-really sequel to A LETTER TO THREE WIVES, made independently and released through a different studio, with no cast members in common, but sharing the (gender-flipped) conceit of spouses receiving letters stating that their better halves have been unfaithful, with the writer's eager participation. Co-scripter Vera Caspary also wrote the adaptation for ALTTW.

    All similarities end there, however, as our pot-stirring protagonist turns out to be narrating from the great beyond, represented by the same twinkling-stars-on-black velvet-with-voiceover backdrop…