I’ve been playing catch up since vacation and you’ll see a couple of vacation movies here in Part II. If you missed Part I, you can find those movies here, and Part III is on the way.
Bridge of Spies (2015) Steven Spielberg
Walt Disney DVD – library (2:21)
I had hoped to write a longer review of this film and perhaps I will when I view it again, but for now I’ll only note a few things. Based on actual events, Steven Spielberg’s latest film gives us Tom Hanks (right) playing James B. Donovan, an insurance lawyer hired to defend Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance, left, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance) against charges of spying for the Soviets. All Donovan has to do is go through the motions. Everyone knows Abel’s guilty, but Donovan wants to do his best no matter who he’s defending.
One of the most fascinating elements of the film is Tom Hanks and how we view him. Here’s an actor who’s been immensely popular for over 30 years, playing a man whom everyone in the film hates, not because he’s defending a Russian spy, but because he’s trying to win a case defending a Russian spy. I can’t remember another film in which Hanks was hated, persecuted, and threatened, which makes Bridge of Spies a real eye-opener. There’s much more I could say about this film that works on many levels, but that will have to wait until I’ve seen it again. If you haven’t seen it, you should. People who say that Hollywood has forgotten how to deliver good, solid entertainment are mostly right, but here’s one of the exceptions.
Strange Brew (1983) Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas
Warner Brothers DVD (1:30)
Several months ago, Warner Archive sent out a questionnaire on social media asking which movie they should upgrade to Blu-ray next. On that list you had all these classic Hollywood films from the 40s and 50s plus Strange Brew. Surely it was a joke, right? The most requested film from that list for a Blu-ray upgrade? That’s right: Strange Brew.
Few films from the 80s are as goofy, wacky, and lovable as Strange Brew. The plot isn’t even worth mentioning, but if you’ve never seen it, you owe it to yourself to watch the antics of Bob & Doug McKenzie in all their glory. Don’t be a hoser, eh? See it.
The Chase (1946) Arthur Ripley
Mill Creek Crime Wave box set DVD (1:26)
The Chase is a somewhat convoluted noir and possibly something of a bait-and-switch film that works more often than it doesn’t. Chuck Scott (Robert Cummings) is a washed-out war veteran who finds a wallet belonging to a gangster named Eddy Roman (Steve Cochran, above left, a noir actor who doesn’t get nearly enough credit). Roman likes the kid and hires him as his driver, but soon the kid starts getting ideas about Roman’s wife Lorna (Michele Morgan). Roman and his henchman Gino (Peter Lorre, right) keep a close eye on Chuck, but not close enough. The Chase has a twist that you probably won’t see coming, but might cause a little head-scratching. It’s definitely worth seeing twice. The film was just released as a Blu-ray from Kino Lorber, which must be several steps up from the Mill Creek DVD I own.
Shadow of a Doubt (1943) Alfred Hitchcock (4x)
The Princess Bride (1987) Rob Reiner (3x)
Watched on vacation with my brother-in-law Dave. Always fun. The movie, I mean. (And yes, Dave, you’re always fun as well.)
Airplane! (1980) David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker (5x)
I’ve probably seen Airplane! way more than five times, but I’ll settle on that number for now. Another vacation movie with Dave, my other brother-in-law Pete, and our wives nearby ignoring us and the movie. Good times…
Mr. Moto’s Last Warning (1939) Norman Foster
Mill Creek Crime Wave box set DVD (1:11)
Oddly enough, Austro-Hungarian Peter Lorre as a Japanese detective seems to have more charm than Brit Boris Karloff playing a Chinese detective (and certainly less makeup) in The Mystery of Mr. Wong (1939). This mystery focuses on shenanigans having to do with the Suez Canal and brings out a roost of villains seeking to do away with Mr. Moto. Some nice co-stars here: John Carradine, George Sanders, and Virginia Field. Mr. Moto’s Last Warning is the only Peter Lorre Moto film in the public domain, which is why it’s in this Mill Creek collection. Entertaining.
The Visit (2015) M. Night Shyamalan
Universal DVD – library (1:34)
Previously discussed here
Next time I’ll close out July with more film noir, two entries from Fritz Lang, and one from Robert Altman.