The Unearthly (1957, Directed by Boris Petroff) English 4

Starring John Carradine, Myron Healey, Allison Hayes, Tor Johnson, Sally Todd

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(4-Bad Film)

Schlock. Flat. Doltish.

The Unearthly may be the best film featured on the cult t.v series, Mystery Science Theater, but that’s hardly a recommendation. It actually means that, while still not being good, it also lacks the requisite trash value to be so bad it’s good. It’s not entertaining. The premise is promising. A mad scientist played by Carradine tests out his theories on his distressed patients searching for immortality. A fugitive, Mark Houston (Healey), wanders into this house of horrors and unearths its secrets. Wittier dialogue, more colorful characters, and a director with any talent for suspense could make The Unearthly a worthwhile B movie. Instead, it’s ample fodder for the crew on MST3 to lampoon. “My Dinner with Andre had more locations.”

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Lured (1947, Directed by Douglas Sirk)English 7

Starring Lucille Ball, George Sanders, Joseph Calleia, Allan Mowbray, Boris Karloff, Charles Coburn

(7-Very Good Film)

Suspenseful. Intriguing. Tame.

Breezy thriller about a serial murderer luring victims through personal ads in the newspaper. The baffled police department enlists a struggling dancer (Ball) to work for them as bait for the killer. This setup leads her through a string of perilous situations, but the worst comes when she falls for and subsequently suspects a rich revue producer played by GeorgeSanders. Not as dark or sinister as a noir should be, it nevertheless works as a fun detective fantasy. It’s also fun to see that the great Boris Karloff doesn’t need special effects makeup to be terrifying.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Sweet Smell of Success (1957, Directed by Alexander Mackendrick) English 8

Starring Tony Curtis, Burt Lancaster, Same Levene, Susan Harrison, Martin Milner

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(8-Exceptional Film)

Gritty. Quotable. Classic.

J.J Hunsecker (Lancaster) is a powerful newspaper columnist in New York City. For reasons hardly mentioned and best left to be inferred, he has his most persistent flunky and press agent, Sidney Falco (Curtis),  destroy his sister’s engagement to an up and coming Jazz musician. Sidney will do anything for some spotlight. I love the way the characters (mainly Sidney and Hunsecker) talk to each other. “You’re dead son. Get yourself buried.” Sidney’s mile a minute verbal style perfectly fits his grimy desperation and Hunsecker’s deadpan demonstrates a man who doesn’t have to yell. The performances are perfect. The dialogue is first-rate. James Wong Howe’s cinematography is brilliant. Stellar noir.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


The Tiger of Eschnapur (1959, Directed by Fritz Lang) English 7

Starring Debra Paget, Paul Hubschmid, Walter Reyer, Claus Holm, Luciana Paluzzi, Sabine Bethmann

(7-Very Good Film)

Pulpy. Thrilling. Lush.

Another B-movie classic from the master filmmaker that is Fritz Lang. The German auteur tells an action-packed adventure story about an architect from the west, Harold Berger (Hubschmid), who gets caught up in a deadly affair with Seetha (Paget), the bride-to-be of the Maharaja, the man he is hired to work for. Beautiful technicolor imagery and one great suspenseful scene in particular involving a magic trick gone wrong. Very little substance, but thrilling entertainment.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


The Crimson Kimono (1959, Directed by Samuel Fuller) English 7

Starring James Shigeta, Glenn Corbett, Victoria Shaw, Anna Lee, Paul Dubov, Gloria Pall, Pat Silver

(7-Very Good Film)

Progressive. Compelling. Solid.

Two cops-a white one, Detective Sgt. Charlie Bancroft (Corbett) and his Japanese-American partner, Detective Joe Kojaku (Shigeta)-hunt down the murderer of a popular L.A stripper in Little Tokyo. The case brings them to a young and beautiful painter, Christine (Shaw), leading to a potentially volatile love triangle as they hunt for a killer. Melodramatic and hard-boiled, this film features Fuller’s characteristically energetic camera movement and an exciting finale to go along with its take on forbidden love and race relations.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


The Caddy (1953, Directed by Norman Taurog) English 6

Starring Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Donna Reed, Barbara Bates, Joseph Calleia, Fred Clark, Clinton Sundberg

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(6-Good Film)

Goofy. Zany. Enjoyable.

“That’s Amore,” sings Dean Martin as Joe Anthony, a blue-collar drifter working his way up in social class through golf. He meets and falls in love with the lovely socialite, Kathy Taylor (Reed), but his caddy, future brother-in-law, and friend, Harvey Miller Jr. (Lewis), is embarrassing him in front of his new friends. The Caddy is a fast-paced, irreverent comedy with a few great musical numbers. It teases a sports story but ultimately lets that aspect fizzle out. Lewis is mostly annoying but paired with Martin, it doesn’t keep the film from being enjoyable.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-



Grand Central Murder (1942, Directed by S. Sylvan Simon) English 5

Starring Van Heflin, Sam Levene, Patricia Dane, Tom Conway, Virginia Grey, Cecilia Parker, Millard Mitchell

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(5-Okay Film)

Decent. Well-acted. Typical.

Broadway performer, Mida King (Dane), is murdered and since she was a horrible human being, everyone who knew her is a suspect. That includes slick private eye, Rocky Custer (Heflin), who argues with Police Inspector Gunther (Levene) constantly, but ultimately helps him solve the case. Typical whodunnit with a room full of suspects and a clever detective figuring it all out and then summarizing what happened so that we can understand it. The heavy use of flashbacks is an interesting addition though. None of the characters are especially intriguing outside of maybe Mida, the dead girl who we meet in the flashbacks. Levene plays the contentious but likable policeman well, but did so better in the few Thin Man films he did. In fact, the film as a whole suffers under comparison to the Thin Man series.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-