Movies Watched in June 2015

Another fairly light month for movies, but I did see three Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes films, some film noir, and perhaps a few surprises. I hope you’ll find something to strike your interest:


The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939) Sidney Lanfield
MPI Media Group Blu-ray

Previously discussed here



The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939) Alfred L. Werker
MPI Media Group Blu-ray

This second Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce pairing introduces us to Holmes’s nemesis Professor Moriarty (George Zucco), before giving us another mystery, that of Ann Brandon (Ida Lupino, above) who comes to Holmes with a mysterious, disturbing drawing sent to her brother. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – like The Hound of the Baskervilles – is great fun and shows that the success of the first film was no fluke.



Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942) John Rawlins
MPI Media Group Blu-ray

Holmes and Watson are catapulted into the 20th century to assist the “Inner Council” of British Intelligence in outwitting Nazi forces who announce their crimes against the Brits in advance through a radio program. Some nice scenes and a good performance by Thomas Gomez, but this installment is certainly a notch or two below the first Rathbone/Bruce films.



The Racket (1951) John Cromwell
Film Noir Classics Collection, Vol. 3 DVD

The Racket was directed by John Cromwell, but apparently he had (uncredited) help from Mel Ferrer, Nicholas Ray, and perhaps others. Having multiple directors on a film often spells trouble, but your enjoyment of the film will depend largely on whether you can appreciate the script by William Wister Haines and W.R. Burnett (based on a play by Bartlett Cormack). The story of by-the-book police captain Tom McQuigg (Robert Mitchum) trying to clean up a corrupt police force and catch racketeer/mobster Nick Scanlon (Robert Ryan) is a little too familiar, often with cliched dialogue and unbelievable situations. Still, you’ve got an all-star noir lineup with Mitchum, Ryan and Lizabeth Scott, so even if the writing is from a phone book, the film’s going to be worth watching. Even though the film has some obvious weaknesses, I enjoyed it and look forward to listening to the Eddie Muller commentary on the Film Noir Classics Collection, Vol. 3 DVD.



Stripped (doc. 2014) Dave Kellett, Frederick Schroeder
Netflix streaming

Some might think that if a documentary about the history and eventual demise of the newspaper comic strip can get made, anything can get made. Stripped does a good job of taking a form of art/entertainment that millions have loved for decades and showing us why we’ve loved it, how we’ve nearly lost it – and how it may just be resurrected in a different form. The film includes interviews with Jim Davis (Garfield), Cathy Guisewite (Cathy), off-camera comments from Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes), and many others. Anyone interested in comics should see this film.



Big Hero 6 (2014) Don Hall, Chris Williams
Disney Blu-ray

I realize that I’m probably the last person on the planet to see Big Hero 6 and that there’s little I can tell you about it that you don’t already know. Cindy and I watched this with our nieces and had a delightful time. (Although when I told Cindy we were going to watch Big Hero 6 with our nieces, she responded, “But I haven’t watched the first five Big Hero movies…”)



The Sniper (1952) Edward Dmytryk
Columbia Pictures Noir Classics I

The Sniper is similar to Dial 1119 (discussed below) in that it not only stands as an effective film noir, but also a social commentary on how society treats people who are mentally disturbed. Eddie Miller (Arthur Franz, above left) – a man recently released from a psych ward – has trouble with women, particularly a singer named Jean (Marie Windsor, one of my favorite noir actresses, above). The portrayal of a sex offender, combined with some very frank scenes of violence, make for an effective (and probably shocking for the time) experience. The Sniper displays a lot of the callousness we’d come to see from policemen onscreen in the subsequent decades.



Anne of Green Gables (TV 1985) Kevin Sullivan
DVD loan from friends

Even though I’m very excited to be headed to Prince Edward Island (where the Lucy Maud Montgomery books and the films are set), I was hesitant to watch what I thought would be a real snoozer. Boy, was I wrong. Sure, Anne of Green Gables is a family movie about a 13-year-old orphan named Anne Shirley (Megan Follows) who comes to be adopted by Matthew Cuthbert (Richard Farnsworth) and his sister Marilla (Colleen Dewhurst). Anne’s adventures (and misadventures) are charming and heartfelt without getting too sticky-sweet or sentimental. The cast is absolutely top-notch.



Dial 1119 (1950) Gerald Mayer
Classic Film Noir Collection: Volume 5 DVD

Previously discussed here



Aelita: Queen of Mars (1924) Yakov Protazanov
Hulu streaming (now expired)

Is this the first Russian science fiction film? Possibly, but much of the story takes place in Moscow, not Mars, where several scientists listen to a mysterious radio signal. One of the men who hears it, Los (Nikolai Tsereteli), who wants to travel to Mars. While on Mars, Aelita (Yuliya Sointseva) – daughter of the totalitarian ruler of the planet – is able to view (and fall in love with) Los. Aelita’s father, Tuskub (Konstantin Eggert), is placing all the working classes on Mars into suspended animation until they are needed. In a way, this is all Bolshevik propaganda, but it’s a charming film despite its faults. Definitely worth a look for any sf film fans.


(Photos: The Grouchy EditorMubiBasil RathboneMovie MailYouTubeGreat Indian NewsNew GranadaBucking the WaveSound on SightJohn Guy Collick)

One thought on “Movies Watched in June 2015

  1. Pingback: Silence for Awhile… | Journeys in Darkness and Light

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