The second half of March didn’t include as many movie as I would’ve liked, but here’s how things went after the Ides of March, so to speak… If you missed Part I of March, look no further. And here’s the rest:
The Big Heat (1953) Fritz Lang (2x)
Twilight Time Blu-ray (1:29)
Previously discussed here
Step Brothers (2008) Adam McKay
Sony Pictures DVD – library (1:38)
Ace in the Hole (1951) Billy Wilder (2x)
Criterion Collection Blu-ray (1:51)
Both discussed in The Beckie Project Part I
The Dunwich Horror (1970) Daniel Haller
Amazon streaming (1:30)
I was too young to see this R-rated American International Pictures release in 1970, being only eight years old, but I always thought the movie poster was incredibly cool. It is, but the movie isn’t. Based on an H.P. Lovecraft story about a young woman (Sandra Dee) getting mixed up with a man (Dean Stockwell, above) obsessed with the Necronomicon, The Dunwich Horror has an interesting (albeit very dated) late 60s/early 70s horror vibe that offers some visual interest, but not much story.
Behind Locked Doors (1948) Budd Boetticher
Kino DVD – library (1:02)
Sam Fuller must have seen Behind Locked Doors, which seems the obvious inspiration for his 1963 film Shock Corridor. A reporter (Richard Carlson) fakes mental illness and checks himself into a mental hospital to find out if a corrupt judge may be hiding there. A nice B-movie noir which also features man/mountain Tor Johnson.
Paris Belongs to Us (1961) Jacques Rivette
Paris Belongs to Us is Jacques Rivette’s first film as well as my first exposure to his work. Had it been released when actually completed, the film might have kicked off the French New Wave, but it didn’t see a release until a couple of years later in 1961, by which time the movement was well underway.
The film centers on a small group of actors rehearsing Shakespeare’s Pericles amid various problems and delays. A young woman named Anne (Betty Schneider, above left) unexpectedly finds herself in the play, but she’s more interested in finding out what happened to a missing musician whom no ones seems to want to talk about. The film is filled with mystery and possibly conspiracy, but Rivette’s narrative is certainly not a traditional one. Often ambiguous and unpredictable, Paris Belongs to Us will either fascinate or frustrate viewers. I was fascinated, so much so that I bought Rivette’s 13-hour Out 1 a few days later. I watched Paris Belongs to Us on Hulu, but Criterion recently released the film on Blu-ray.
Foul Play (1978) Colin Higgins (3x)
Paramount DVD (1:56)
I saw Foul Play during its initial run and probably saw it again a few weeks later on a date, but other than that, I hadn’t seen it for 38 years. Was it fun to revisit the film after so much time? Yes and no. The story of a San Francisco librarian (Goldie Hawn, above right) getting mixed up in an assassination plot involving a dwarf, an albino, and the Catholic Church is still somewhat fun, and Chevy Chase (above left) as a bumbling police detective is what he is, but at nearly two solid hours, the film is simply too long. Not only that, but Higgins tries to stretch some very slight gags (I’m thinking mainly of Dudley Moore’s “striptease” scene, but other scenes as well) practically into infinity. See only if you absolutely love Hawn, Chase, Barry Manilow music, or all of the above.
The Crooked Way (1949) Robert Florey
Kino Lorber Blu-ray (1:30)
John Payne (above) is one of my favorite noir actors, one who always seems to play the guy everyone dumps on, the dupe, the sad sack. It was not unusual for Payne to play a character with amnesia, or some type of debilitating illness. In The Crooked Way, it’s a head wound suffered in WWII, which led to amnesia. After being released from a San Francisco military hospital, Payne’s character Eddie Rice heads to Los Angeles, hoping to find someone who recognizes him.
Oh, he’s recognized all right; by a group of gangsters who’ve missed his absence in the gang, the crime boss he betrayed (Sonny Tufts), and, of course, the police. This is a great set-up, but Richard H. Landau’s script never seems to take full advantage of it. Yet Payne was born to play roles like this and he’s the main reason to watch The Crooked Way.
Bone Tomahawk (2015) S. Craig Zahler
Amazon streaming (2:13)
Previously discussed here
You’re Telling Me! (1934) Erle C. Kenton
Universal Studios W.C. Fields Comedy Favorites Collection DVD (1:06)
W.C. Fields (above right) plays a hapless inventor trying to sell at least one of his inventions to put his family into a better social status, mainly so that his daughter (Joan Marsh) will have a shot at marrying into a rich family. Typical (and often hilarious) Fields hijinks ensue.
The ‘Burbs (1989) Joe Dante
Universal DVD, borrowed from Beckie (1:42)
Discussed as part of The Beckie Project Part II
Woman on the Run (1950) Norman Foster (2x)
Amazon streaming, but soon to be released on Blu-ray from Flicker Alley (1:19)
This film will be reviewed here and on the Flicker Alley website in a couple of days.
Daredevil: Season One (TV 2015) created by Drew Goddard
Netflix original (13 episodes of 50+ minutes each, roughly 12 hours)
The 2003 movie Daredevil was so abysmal I couldn’t even finish it, so when I heard about a new Netflix series a couple of years ago, I was excited. Why I didn’t watch it all when it first appeared on Netflix? It’s really hard for me to get into television shows, which you don’t often see here on Journeys in Darkness and Light. But maybe you’ll see more of them if they’re as good as Netflix’s Daredevil. I’m not going to get into details: this show is either on your radar or it isn’t, but I will say that it’s not the same type of superhero story most people think of when they think “superhero” story. It’s more of a crime story, a gritty one about a corrupt city that’s getting more and more corrupt every day. That’s all you’ll get from me about the story. Daredevil: Season One is good and often very good. Sure, it has some problems, but they aren’t major ones. Do check it out.
That’s it for March. Please let me know in the comments below what you saw, good or bad.