D.O.A (1949, Directed by Rudolph Maté) English 7

Starring Edmond O’Brien, Pamela Britton, Luther Adler, William Ching, Laurette Luez, Neville Brand, Lynn Baggett

D.O.A. (1949) Full Length Movie on the MHM Podcast Network

(7-Very Good Film)

Intriguing. Convoluted. Melodramatic.

Homicide Captain: Who was murdered?
Frank Bigelow: I was.

I’m glad to find, reading other reviews of noir classic D.O.A, that I’m not the only one that had a hard time following the plot. Several characters flow in and out, there are red herrings, and key players are mentioned but never seen. I couldn’t keep up, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying the film. All you really need to know is that an average man, Frank Bigelow (O’Brien), goes on a business trip to San Francisco, spends the first night out on the town, wakes up the next morning feeling funny, and, upon visiting a doctor, is told that he’s been poisoned and has a couple days left to live. Film experts refer to these kinds of plot devices as ticking bombs. They give movies an important time element and are invaluable to good suspense. D.O.A has one of the best time bombs of any movie I’ve seen. Bigelow has to solve his own murder and get revenge before he keels over. You might think that too much of the dialogue is heavily melodramatic, but I like melodrama in noir. It serves as a nice counterbalance to the otherwise dark tales and this one follows through. No cop-out in the end.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Yellow Sky (1948, Directed by William A. Wellman) English 7

Starring Gregory Peck, Anne Baxter, Richard Widmark, John Russell, Harry Morgan, Robert Arthur, James Barton

Shirtless Gregory Peck and John Russell in Yellow Sky (1948 ...

(7-Very Good Film)

Brash. Tense. Strong.

“Hell is empty
And all the devils are here.”-The Tempest

As far as I’m concerned, uncouth as I am, William Shakespeare’s greatest contribution was to film; the inspiration he gave to so many different movie scripts. Yellow Sky, a very fine, surprisingly brutal western starring Gregory Peck and Richard Widmark, springs from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Peck leads a band of thieves across a scorching desert until they finally reach an apparently abandoned old western town. There, they meet an old prospector who goes by “Grandpa” and his beautiful granddaughter who goes by “Mike” (Baxter). The thieves are smart enough to see that the two are holding out on  something; probably gold. Peck and his gang stick around and, in the meantime, jostle around for attention from Mike. Much rougher than most westerns from this era, even Peck is less lovable hero than forgivable rogue.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer (1947, Directed by Irving Reis) English 6

Starring Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Shirley Temple, Ray Collins, Rudy Vallée, Harry Davenport, Johnny Sands, Lillian Randolph

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) – MUBI

(6-Good Film)

Familiar. Zany. Modest.

Margaret: I’ve never been subjected to so much charm before.

Cary Grant is a local artist named Richard Nugent with a reputation for being a womanizer. Judge Margaret Turner (Loy) knows all about his reputation. She meets him in court one afternoon after a fight breaks out between two women arguing over him. Still, she can’t help falling for him even while trying to get her younger, teenaged sister, Susan (Temple), to snap out of her infatuation for the man. The entire premise is ludicrous, even for a screwball comedy, but all that’s really needed is a contrivance to get these three stars together and it does the job. I do wish Grant and Loy had more time together on screen as they’re usually only together when surrounded by other characters.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


The Mating Season (1951, Directed by Mitchell Leisen) English 7

Starring Gene Tierney, John Lund, Thelma Ritter, Miriam Hopkins, Jan Sterling, Larry Keating, James Lorimer, Ellen Corby

The Mating Season (1951) / AvaxHome

(7-Very Good Film)

Witty. Clever. Likable.

Ellen McNulty: [to Val, the newlywed] This is your mating season, you’re entitled to be alone.

Who wants their mother to stay with them during their honeymoon? Loving, loyal son, Val McNulty (Lund) does after finding out that his mother, Ellen (Ritter), lost her restaurant and has no place to stay. He asks her to move in with him and his new wife, Maggie (Tierney), though the two have only recently married and are still setting up in their apartment for a life together. Ellen accepts only after a series of misunderstandings leads Maggie to offer her a job as the maid, not knowing that she was talking to her new mother-in-law.  Soon enough, Maggie’s mother, Fran (Hopkins), moves in too, and chaos reigns. Quick, clever late-screwball comedy with a rare starring role for the magnificent Thelma Ritter. As tough and acerbic as her persona is, she’s never been anything less than endearing. Tierney’s character strikes me as overly difficult at times during this movie but it all works out in the end, of course.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


The Man in the Iron Mask (1939, Directed by James Whale) English 7

Starring Louis Hayward, Joan Bennet, Warren William, Alan Hale, Joseph Schildkraut, Albert Dekker, Walter Kingsford

16MM THE MAN in the Iron Mask, 1939 - $89.99 | PicClick

(7-Very Good Film)

Extravagant. Compelling. Exciting.

Philippe: There is one law in life, my brother, that not even a king can escape… the law of retribution!

Based on Alexandre Dumas’ conclusion to the Three Musketeers saga, The Man in the Iron Mask begins in the 17th century with King Louis XIII’s wife giving birth to twin sons, Louis and Philippe. In most cases, any man would be proud to find he has two sons but in this situation, twin sons mean twin claims to the throne and could spell chaos in the future. Foreseeing this, the king sends one son off to live humbly with one of his trusted musketeers, D’Artagnan (William), never knowing his birthright. Decades later, the remaining son, Louis XIV (Hayward), is on the throne and true tyrant. Finding out about the brother, he sentences his twin to the Bastille and burdens him with an iron mask to cover his face at all times. Joan Bennet plays Princess Maria of Spain who loves Philippe (Hayward) and despises Louis but thinks they are the same person and can’t understand her feelings. Though only loosely based on Dumas’ work apparently, the filmmakers have mined and condensed the story wonderfully into pure intrigue, romance, and excitement. It’s everything you’d want in a swashbuckler. Louis Hayward does nifty work in portraying the disparate brothers.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Pot O’ Gold (1941, Directed by George Marshall) English 6

Starring James Stewart, Paulette Goddard, Horace Heidt, Charles Winninger, Mary Gordon, Art Carney

James Stewart stars in Pot O' Gold (1941)

(6-Good Film)

Slight. Simple. Likable.

Molly McCorkle: You’ve heard of the Hatfields and the McCoys?

Hames Hamilton ‘Jimmy’ Haskell: Yeah.

Molly McCorkle: Well this is a fight between the Haskells and the McCorkles.

Jimmy Haskell (Stewart) is head over heels for Molly McCorkle (Goddard) but their families are feuding, or really, Jimmy’s wealthy uncle, C.J Haskell (Winninger), is feuding with the entire McCorkle clan. However, Molly doesn’t know that Jimmy is a Haskell and he’s not that keen on telling her. He keeps it a secret for as long as he can while getting to know the rowdy, musically-gifted McCorkle family. Very simple set-up for a romantic comedy done with likable leads, Pot O’ Gold is more memorable as an odd musical. The characters don’t break out into song like in your classic MGM musicals but music fills this movie. James Stewart even gets into the act which is really strange.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Margie (1946, Directed by Henry King) English 6

Starring Jeanne Crain, Glenn Langan, Lynn Bari, Alan Young, Barbara Lawrence, Conrad Janis, Hattie McDaniel

The Final Cinema: 1946 at 24fps

(6-Good Film)

Compelling. Innocent. Sweet.

Professor Fontayne: I was just looking for Keats. Do you like Keats?

Margie: I don’t know, sir. What are keats?

As Margie (Crain) sits in her attic sifting through old memorabilia with her teenage daughter, she seems to have it all together, but it wasn’t always this way. She tells her daughter the story of her time in high school when she was an awkward, insecure girl and struggling with her feelings for three men/ potential suitors. There’s the cool boy in school, Johnny (Janis), her loyal friend, Roy (Young), and the handsome new teacher all the girls in school fawn over, Professor Fontayne (Langan). Perhaps the inspiration for Ryan Reynolds’ Definitely, Maybe,  Margie manages to build a light suspense over who the heroine will end up with. It’s very syrupy and old-fashioned but I believe most people including myself enjoy that in older films.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-