Love Crazy (1941, Directed by Jack Conway) English 7

Starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, Jack Carson, Gail Patrick, Florence Bates, Sig Ruman, Sidney Blackmer, Vladimir Sokoloff, Elisha Cook Jr.

Love Crazy 1941 - Myrna Loy, William Powell, Gail Patrick, Jack Carson,  Florence Bates

(7-Very Good Film)

Funny. Madcap. Witty.

Steve: She’s married now – got a husband.

Susan Ireland: Yeah? Whose husband has she got?

Steve (Powell) and Susan (Loy) Ireland celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary in their upscale, big-city apartment. Interrupted and sent on an errand by Susan’s overbearing mother (Bates), their private party gets further delayed when Steve bumps into his old flame, Isobel (Patrick), on the way home. Part of the small sub-genre I recently discovered of “remarriage comedies,” Susan later decides to divorce Steve after finding out about him spending an evening alone with Isobel in her apartment. From a pretty simple premise, Love Crazy splinters into one of the wildest of screwball comedies. Plenty of physical comedy (which is the most surprising for me, not accustomed to seeing Powell giving that kind of performance) and plenty of wit too. It’s not much of a romance as the principal players already love each other, but at its center is the iconic chemistry between Powell and Loy who evidently made 14 films together.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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The Philadelphia Story (1940, Directed by George Cukor) English 6

Starring Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart, Virginia Weidler, Ruth Hussey, John Howard, Roland Young, Mary Nash, John Halliday

The Philadelphia Story' returns to local theaters | TBR News Media

(6-Good Film)

Intelligent. Witty. Affected.

Dexter: Sometimes, for your own sake, Red, I think you should’ve stuck to me longer.

I adore old Hollywood films. One of my true passions, I love the stars, I love the first-rate character actors, the production values, and the stories they tell, but I’ve never loved The Philadelphia Story, though it’s considered one of old Hollywood’s best. I come back to it often, expecting some change; a revelation perhaps. My feelings remain unchanged. Starring Cary Grant, James Stewart, and Katherine Hepburn (my goodness, the star power) as Dexter Haven, Macauley Connor, and Tracy Lord, respectively, The Philadelphia Story sees the three tangled up in a love triangle on the eve of Tracy’s wedding to earnest but stiff George Kittredge (Howard). Dexter is her ex-husband who’s not ready to let go and Macauley (Mike) is a cynical reporter not thrilled with his new frothy assignment of covering a wedding. Adapted from the stage, the film has a pretty conspicuous stagey manner- long, eloquent monologues, affected dialogue-but my problem isn’t with the apparent staginess, it’s with the characters. The dialogue, realism be damned, is sparkling, but I realized this time around that though I love these stars, I don’t even like these characters; especially during the first half. Tracy is prim, Dexter is scheming, Mike is misanthropic, the uncle is a lecher, the dad’s a cad, and the mom’s an airhead. They do breakthrough to a nice ending but too much of the film is bogged down in their deficiencies to bring me any real joy as most classics do.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Stalag 17 (1953, Directed by Billy Wilder) English 8

Starring William Holden, Otto Preminger, Robert Strauss, Harvey Lembeck, Don Taylor, Sig Ruman, Peter Graves, Neville Brand

Stalag 17 (1953) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

(8-Exceptional Film)

Irreverent. Masculine. Engrossing.

Sefton: There are two people in this barracks who know I didn’t do it. Me and the guy that did do it.

Sgt. J.J Sefton (Holden) isn’t your typical hero. Even as an antihero, he stands far from the pack. For the majority of Stalag 17, he wants no part of anything heroic, and seems fairly content to have given up. He’s a prisoner of war held in a camp famed for letting no one escape. He’s selfish, apathetic, and ruthless, but when two fellow prisoners of war are foiled and killed in their escape attempt, and Sefton is beaten by the other prisoners who suspect him of being a traitor (one that tips off the Nazis for small benefits), Sefton’s determined to get back at the real traitor just as soon as he figures out who it is. I’m amazed with every Billy Wilder film that I see with how he balances tones. Stalag 17 is another layered work and further evidence of his brilliance. Broad and bawdy in its comedy, the film as a whole, somehow manages to be as gripping and eventually rousing as any straight dramatic classic. Holden won his only Oscar for this performance and he’s convincing at every stage of Sefton’s arc. Sefton’s not even necessarily the main character for much of the film, as it’s a true ensemble piece, but slowly, reluctantly, he becomes a memorable hero.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Hubie Halloween (2020, Directed by Steven Brill) English 5

Starring Adam Sandler, Julie Bowen, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, Tim Meadows, Maya Rudolph, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Chiklis, June Squibb, Ray Liotta, Rob Schneider, Colin Quinn, Blake Clark, Kym Whitley, George Wallace

Adam Sandler's Hubie Halloween Debuts at #1 on Netflix's Top 10 Trending  Chart

(5-Okay Film)

Goofy. Modest. Nice.

Hubie’s Mother: True bravery’s being kind, even to those who are being cruel to you.

Comedy and horror mash-up well together, and this film looked to have its roots in classics like the old Abbott and Costello monster flicks or Bob Hope’s The Ghost Breakers. That was enough to lure me in, despite an extensive recent record of mediocrity from Happy Madison’s productions. Hubie Halloween is middle-of-the-road Sandler. Not nearly as miserable an experience as Jack and Jill but not as funny as his best comedies like Happy Gilmore for instance. He plays the town dolt, a local punching-bag in the historic town of Salem, Massachusetts. Obsessed with Halloween, his purpose in life is to protect those around him, despite their disdain for him. One person who’s always been nice to him, though, is Violet Valentine (Bowen), his childhood crush. This Halloween, he finally gets a chance to face off with something sinister and to profess his feelings to Violet.

A couple of positives first: Sandler’s movies are often underlined by what feels like genuine sweetness and he makes a point of capping every story with a positive message. It’s easy to be cynical (and more artistic) but he’s made a career out of mixing his humor with saccharine sweetness. I also enjoyed the frequent nods to several of Happy Madison’s earlier films. Ultimately, however, Hubie Halloween could have been funnier, it could have been scarier, and I could have done without the annoying voice Sandler goes with here.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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There’s Something About Mary (1998, Directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly) English 9

Starring Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, Lee Evans, Chris Elliot, Jeffrey Tambor, Lin Shaye, Keith David, Sarah Silverman, Richard Jenkins, Harland Williams, W. Earl Brown

There's Something About Mary' Turns 20 Today - LADbible

(9-Great Film)

Crude. Endearing. Influential.

Ted: You said she was a real sparkplug.

Pat Healy: No, I said buttplug. She’s heinous.

Crude and charming would seem an unlikely pair, but the Farrelly brothers, early on in their careers, made a trio of such films: Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, and There’s Something About Mary. These comedies were inspired, fresh, and, most importantly, funny, with There’s Something About Mary being the best of the bunch. Ben Stiller plays sweet and mostly innocent dork, Ted, still pining after his high school crush, Mary (Diaz), over a decade later. One can see why. She’s beautiful, fun, easy-going, and loves football; the dream-girl, in other words. Unfortunately, she’s like a magnet for deadbeats, including the private eye Ted hires to help him, Pat Healy (Dillon), who instead uses his intel to shoot his own shot with her. Several memorably funny scenes stand out, but the Farrelly’s demonstrate a talent for lightness in between the big laughs that give the film its heart and make it more than just an absurd laugh riot. The singing narrator, for instance, modeled after Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye from Cat Ballou, was a nice touch.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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The Thin Man Goes Home (1944, Directed by Richard Thorpe) English 7

Starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, Lucile Watson, Gloria DeHaven, Leon Ames, Anne Revere, Harry Davenport, Edward Brophy

the thin man goes home | Tumblr

(7-Very Good Film)

Charming. Fun. Endearing.

Mrs. Charles: Well, all I can say is if you’re looking for crime in Sycamore Springs, you’ll have to commit it yourself.

Nora Charles: I wonder? Nicky always says that there’s a skeleton in nearly every closet and if you rattle it hard enough something always happens.

I’d watch Nick and Nora, fabulously witty married couple and part-time sleuths, go anywhere. In The Thin Man Goes Home, their fifth outing, the Charles’ visit Nick’s parents in some small New England town, where Nora meets his disapproving father (Davenport). Nora desperately wants her father-in-law to be impressed with Nick, who’s pretty much given up on that idea, but something of a dark, sinister miracle occurs when a dead body turns up at their front door, and Nick gets the opportunity to show how brilliant he is as a detective. After the first two truly surprising and original outings, the Thin Man series follows a fairly clear formula. You’ll get no complaints from me as I love these films and these characters, including Nick’s loyal brigade of small-time crooks.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Scream (1996, Directed by Wes Craven) English 10

Starring Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich, Rose McGowan, Matthew Lillard, Jamie Kennedy, W. Earl Brown, Liev Schreiber, Drew Barrymore

Scream 5' Behind-the-Scenes Photos Reveal Sidney Prescott and the New Logo

(10-Masterpiece)

Thrilling. Clever. Virtuoso.

Ghostface: What’s your favorite scary movie?

I have a few favorites, but Scream and its immediate sequel are definitely in my top ten. Kevin Williamson wrote a tremendous script and Wes Craven perfectly captures the comic tone even when the film is at its most tense. The plot is simple and could describe dozens of other slasher flicks. A group of high schoolers, led by Sidney Prescott (Campbell), are terrorized in their small town in California by a masked killer (Ghostface). What made Scream fresh nearly 25 years ago, and what makes it so much fun to this day is that the characters have seen their share of horror movies. They know all the clich├ęs. In turn, every element of Scream is better than its peers. The dialogue is better than your typical slasher. The actors are better, and Craven, who made his fame in the horror genre, creates his best film. The opening sequence, specifically, known by most film buffs, is a tour de force. The way Craven uses constant movement, space, and that house with its over-large windows is unbearably suspenseful.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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The Frighteners (1996, Directed by Peter Jackson) English 7

Starring Michael J. Fox, Trini Alvarado, Jake Busey, Jeffrey Combs, John Astin, Dee Wallace, Chi McBride, Troy Evans

Looking Back: The Frighteners (1996) - MAUIWatch

(7-Very Good Film)

Goofy. Exciting. Fun.

Frank Bannister: I can’t fight it, Luce. I can’t protect you! There’s only one way to deal with this thing. I gotta have an out-of-body experience.

The Frighteners is Peter Jackson’s first big Hollywood production, years before he’d make his name with the Lord of the Rings saga. Jackson described his own humor as “moronic,” and it’s true that juvenile jokes are scattered throughout the film, but it’s his ability to mix a childlike spirit of fun with solid, adult material that makes him special. The Frighteners is a substantial, thrilling ghost story that follows a local shyster, Frank Bannister (Fox), who advertises as an expert on the paranormal. The town pretty much ignores him, but the truth is, despite his con man ways, he actually can see ghosts, and later, when a mysterious force starts taking the lives of town residents, Frank is the only one who can help. Trini Alvarez plays a kind widow and the only one to believe Frank. The special effects run rampant in this film and have dated significantly. That I still find The Frighteners an effective, exciting thriller proves that Jackson uses the effects well and is above all, a storyteller.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(1,009)

Hellzapoppin’ (1941, Directed by H.C Potter) English 6

Starring Ole Olson, Chic Johnson, Martha Raye, Mischa Auer, Hugh Herbert, Shemp Howard, Robert Paige, Elisha Cook Jr.

Hellzapoppin' - Film | Park Circus

(6-Good Film)

Trailblazing. Crazy. Memorable.

Louie: What’s the matter with you guys? Don’t you know you can’t talk to me and the audience?

Ole Olson: Well, we’re doin’ it, aren’t we?

Comedians Ole Olson and Chic Johnson interrupt classical dancers being tortured by demons in hell to adapt their stage hit, Hellzapoppin’. A young scriptwriter (Cook Jr,) lets them in on how he plans to update the show and mix in the cursory Hollywood romance. Olson and Johnson, then, wade their way through his Hollywood script, breaking the fourth wall every step of the way. This is an insane film. There’s no old Hollywood classic like it and there’s nothing to prepare you for the mile-a-minute screwball action that’s overwhelming. Even the later Road to…movies featuring Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour played by the rules in comparison. As an exercise in style and in originality, Hellzapoppin’ is a brilliant film. As an isolated piece of entertainment, it’s simply passing. More episodically enjoyable than a whole work. There are a few sequences, however, that are absolutely incredible. First and foremost, the dance number by Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers. If you’re unwilling to see the movie, you must, at least, check out this dance scene because it’s awe-inspiring.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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The Love Guru (2008, Directed by Marco Schnabel) English 3

Starring Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Romany Malco, Justin Timberlake, Ben Kingsley, Verne Troyer, Meagan Good, John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Jim Gaffigan, Samantha Bee, Daniel Tosh, Telma Hopkins

BRIANORNDORF.COM: Film Review: The Love Guru

(3-Horrible Film)

Unfunny. Gross. Dumb.

Guru Pitka: Give me a pound. Lock it down. Break the pickle. Tickle, tickle.

Every comedian bombs. Every film comic puts out a dud or two or even several and it doesn’t mean their good comedies get forgotten. Think of John Candy. Are you picturing the ghastly Wagons East or are you smiling fondly, remembering the classics? I say this as an olive branch to Mike Myers whom I do think is funny, because The Love Guru is an awful comedy. Myers plays Guru Pitka, a white man raised in India by gurus (at least he’s not in brown face, he spares himself that embarrassment). He’s brought in to help raddled, star hockey player, Darren Roanoke (Malco), reconcile with his wife, Prudence (Good), in time to focus for the Stanley Cup. The plot is reasonable enough but it’s really just an excuse for one misguided, unfunny gag after another. There are no laughs in this picture but an abundance of second-hand embarrassment.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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