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-

(652)

Crooked House (2017, Directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner) English 6

Starring Max Irons, Terrence Stamp, Gillian Anderson, Glenn Close, Stefanie Martini, Julian Sands, Christian McKay, Christina Hendricks

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Adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel following private detective Charles Hayward (Irons) as he investigates a case given to him by an ex-girlfriend. The case involves the death of an enormously wealthy and corrupt patriarch, and, of course, all his relatives are suspects. Hayward meets the entire family of greedy eccentrics, as he tries to catch a killer. Christie became a world-renowned master of the whodunit mystery, and nobody does it better. Her story has been transported to the screen with skill and a cast full of strong performances. While this is not the best Christie adaptation, it is a perfectly good time though devoid of any truly memorable moments.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(643)

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 caseĀ 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-

(634)

Still of the Night (1982, Directed by Robert Benton) English 6

Starring Roy Scheider, Meryl Streep, Josef Sommer, Jessica Tandy, Srah Botsford, Joe Grifasi

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(6-Good Film)

Moody. Intriguing. Simple.

Dr. Sam Rice (Scheider), a psychiatrist, is involved in a murder investigation after one of his patients gets stabbed to death. The prime suspect? Brooke Reynolds (Streep), whom Sam becomes infatuated with despite the potential danger. Still of the Night is described as Hitchcockian which in this case just means it borrows elements from several of the suspense master’s films. The lead performances are both strong. It’s especially enjoyable to see Streep as a femme fatale, and the tone, look, and pace of the film are classic noir which I love. Where Still of the Night fails is in the plot. It’s too simple but also somehow not clear enough early on what we’re trying to solve. The cast has about 5 characters which mean 4 suspects since we can safely eliminate the lead from the list (although that could have been an interesting twist). It’s just not surprising enough. In other words, unsatisfying.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(630)

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-

(621)

 

Clue (1985, Directed by Jonathan Lynn) English 8

Starring Tim Curry, Madeline Khan, Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren, Christopher Lloyd, Eileen Brennan, Michael McKean, Colleen Camp

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(8-Exceptional Film)

Manic. Clever. Fun.

Based on the classic Hasbro game, Clue sees six strangers-Mr. Plum (Lloyd), Mrs. Peacock (Brennan), Mrs. White (Khan), Ms. Scarlet (Warren), General Mustard (Mull), and Mr. Green (McKean)-invited to a secluded mansion one rainy night to meet a man, Mr. Body, who is blackmailing all of them. He winds up murdered, as do the unfortunate servants, except for Wadsworth (Curry), the clever butler who works to unravel the mystery of whodunnit. The fantastic cast do well with the fast-paced, irreverent script and the whole thing has a free-wheeling, made up as it goes feeling that makes the movie a blast. Curry’s over-the-top, hamming prove to work perfectly with the part.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(619)

The Thin Man (1934, Directed by W.S Van Dyke) English 10

Starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O’Sullivan, Edward Brophy, Cesar Romero, Porter Hall

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(10-Masterpiece)

Charming. Engrossing. Classic.

Nick (Powell) and Nora Charles (Loy) are a happily married couple spending Christmas in New York. Nick used to be a pretty nifty private eye but has settled down with the help of his wealthy heiress wife. Now, with the disappearance of an old client, Nick is thrust back in the detective seat, only this time his wife wants to help. Powell and Loy are adorable together, andĀ the comedy works so well because it’s placed perfectly within an intriguing mystery. Nick and Nora will always be a hallmark for screen chemistry.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(615)