Starring Richard Widmark, Lauren Bacall, Gloria Grahame, Charles Boyer, Lillian Gish, Susan Strasberg, John Kerr, Fay Wray
The doctors have just as much problems as the patients it seems in this lurid melodrama set in a psychiatric institution. Dr. McIver (Widmark) truly cares about his patients, but competing egos, an affair with a member of his staff, Meg (Bacall), and a growing distance from his wife, Karen (Grahame), threaten to unravel him. Well acted by all, the trumped up emotions and amplified colors become a style, and it’s a style director, Minnelli does successfully. Not as much happening subtextually in this one as in some of the better examples of ’50s melodramas, but still an entertaining potboiler.
Starring Charles McGraw, Marie Windsor, Jacqueline White, Queenie Leonard, Paul Maxey
Hard-boiled Detective Seargeant Walter Brown (McGraw) has to escort a mobster’s widow (Windsor) from Chicago to Los Angeles by train where she’s set to speak before a grand jury. Powerful underworld figures are willing to do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen. Brown, whose partner was already murdered protecting the big-mouthed dame, has his work cut out for him, standing alone against a team of crooks and murderers. They even try bribing him. Meanwhile he meets a married woman, Ann (White), on the train, and quickly grows attached to her. Fast, tightly plotted tale with strong performances and a surprising finale. Very suspenseful. Prime B-movie.
Starring Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Randolph Scott, Gail Patrick
After being lost at sea for seven years and legally ruled dead, Ellen Arden (Dunne) returns home to find her husband, Nick (Grant), has remarried. Fortunately, Nick still loves Ellen and wants to reunite with her, only he doesn’t know how to tell his bride. Plus, once he finds out that Ellen wasn’t by herself at sea, but alone with the studly Steve Burkett (Scott), he begins to have second thoughts. Screwball comedy and follow up to the great film, The Awful Truth, also starring Dunne and Grant, this movie isn’t as successful as that one, but it still showcases its stars knack for this kind of humor. They’re terrific, and the film gets the most mileage out of a bizarre premise for a romantic comedy.
Starring Gene Kelly, Lana Turner, Van Heflin, Gig Young, Vincent Price, Frank Morgan, Keenan Wynn, Angela Lansbury, June Allyson
Premier adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ enduring, oft-told classic, Gene Kelly stars as d’Artagnan, a French country boy sent to the city to show his meddle and serve his king and country. He seeks to join the musketeers, a service dedicated to their king, and soon finds himself at odds with three older members: Athos (Heflin), Pathos (Young), and Aramis (Coote). Their animosity quickly turns to friendship, and the adventure begins. d’Artagnan could not have picked a better moment, as King Louis XIII (Morgan) is in terrible danger. Wily, ruthless Richelieu (Price), with the help of the beautiful, but evil Countess de Winter (Turner), has a number of plots working to change the balance of power. Sometimes episodic, always slightly corny, this is, in the end, fantastic entertainment. Colorful, vivacious, and actually fairly faithful to the material. You certainly can’t beat this cast, especially Vincent Price as the cunning Richelieu. Gene Kelly’s stunt work, made famous through musicals, is equally impressive here in this swashbuckler.
Starring Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor, Don Taylor, Billie Burke
After his young daughter drops the news of her wedding engagement, Stan (Tracy) spirals through the overwhelming wedding plans and expenses, meeting with the in-laws, and seeing his oldest is no longer a child. A rare Vincente Minnelli film shot in black and white rather than color, the director shows a similar flair for visuals as in the nightmare wedding sequence perhaps inspired by old silent expressionist films. The themes and struggles of the film are timeless, so much so that the film was remade forty years later with its story intact. Mainly, though the movie seems slight, this is an excellent vehicle for Spencer Tracy who is wonderful.
Starring Ronald Coleman, Madeleine Carroll, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., David Niven, C. Aubrey Smith, Raymond Massey, Mary Astor
Rudolph Rassendyl (Coleman) is a humble British gentleman off on an idyll fishing trip in the Kingdom of Ruritania. There, he finds a country in the midst of conspiracy, murderous plots to usurp the crown, and other such politics. He also finds, or is found to be a perfect doppelganger of the king to be, Rudolph V (Coleman). The king to be, while not a bad man, is a louse and falls victim to his treacherous half-brother’s scheme, putting him in a temporary coma. This threatens to leave the crown and the country to that same brother, and so, Rudolph the fifth’s most loyal men set his look-a-like up for the throne, at least until the true king regains consciousness, but while playing the role of King, Rudolph meets and falls in love with the princess, Flavia (Carroll). Witty, romantic, and gripping. The best of the ’30s swashbucklers. Ronald Coleman is great in every role he plays, and Fairbanks Jr. makes an excellent foil; a dashing, charming, vicious rogue.
Starring Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Lizabeth Scott, Carmen Miranda, Dorothy Malone
Thinking he killed a man, Larry Todd (Martin) takes it on the lam with a pretty heiress, traveling to her ancestral home on an island said to be haunted. He brings with him his best friend, Myron (Lewis), a hapless and most ridiculous sidekick. I’m no great Jerry Lewis fan. I find him generally annoying, but I love Dean Martin, and this movie was a blast. A decent mystery plot, a haunted mansion, Martin crooning, beautiful leading lady, non-stop jokes, action. It’s all here.