Hello, would you believe I bought a film collection of over 3000 titles this month? Can’t help myself sometimes. The majority of the discs are movies released from about 2010 thru 2016. Plenty of kids flicks I’ll pass on to friends with little ones running around and a whole bunch of titles I just don’t recall. Action, horror etc. Funny thing while going thru all these movies is I find ONE that caught me by surprise. A 1959 Jack Palance title I’ve yet to see and didn’t even own. So yeah it’s a keeper.
I did manage to see quite a few films this month but have to point out that 14 of them clocked in at no more than 67 minutes making them easy to shoehorn in to tight schedules when the opportunity presented itself.
March might slow down and that’s mainly because Baseball has opened spring training.
On to the roll call.
Sh! The Octopus (1937) Warner Archive DVD. Starring the comedy team of Hugh Herbert and Allen Jenkins! No seriously. The pair are detectives stranded with some strange characters at a lighthouse in a storm and a giant octopus with tentacles to match is on the loose. Fun and games and at 54 minutes it works. Now move over cause Bud and Lou are about to knock on studio doors finding a home and success at Universal.
Lawless Valley (1938) Warner Archive DVD. B western star George O’Brien gets out of prison and returns home to find the men responsible for framing him. Typical fare and that is indeed a young Chill Wills as the goofy deputy.
The Torchy Blane Series (1937-1939) Warner Archive DVD.
Beginning with 1937’s Smart Blonde, Glenda Farrell stars as a reporter always on the look out for a good crime story and continually seems to solve the murder cases she encounters before her boyfriend/fiance, Barton MacLane, who is a Detective on the police force. Mostly played for comedy the scripts are fast and loose and were another example of the popular plot device of the era, that of the newspaper reporter getting in deep against gangsters and killers. A total of 9 films in the series. Seven of the films starred Glenda and Barton. In order Smart Blonde (1937), Fly Away Baby (1937), The Adventurous Blonde (1937), Blondes at Work (1938), Torchy Gets Her Man (1938), Torchy Blane in Chinatown (1939) and Torchy Runs For Mayor (1939). Glenda is right in her element as the sassy gal while the series offered Barton a change from the many villains he played who get shop up by Bogie and Cagney. Two other films in the series were Torchy Blane In Panama (1938) that starred Lola Lane and Paul Kelly in the leads and the final film of the series, Torchy Blane – Playing With Dynamite had Jane Wyman and Allen Jenkins assuming the leads. I liked that last film and like Glenda, Jane played the role to the hilt. A fun series that was a first time for me and with each film at 60 minutes or so they were easy to binge on instead of the many Netflix series that my friends keep hounding me to check out.
Island of Doomed Men (1940) TCM. Peter Lorre as a psychotic warden? Perish the thought. Lorre has a private island with a diamond mine and to dig them he uses parolees released into his custody for slave labor. He works them to death by whip and severe punishments. A government agent, Robert Wilcox, goes undercover as an inmate to break up Lorre’s operation. Lorre’s losing his sanity frame by frame and is convinced his trophy wife, Rochelle Hudson, has fallen for the new parolee Wilcox. He’s probably right. Lorre is always worth checking out.
Sahara (1943) Columbia DVD.
A great Bogart film that rarely gets talked about. Bogie stars as a tank commander during WW2 in charge of a ragtag group of U.S. soldiers and a few Brits. They’ll make their final stand at an abandoned desert station with a water well that’s almost dry as a platoon of 500 thirsty German soldiers are descending upon them. Bruce Bennett, Dan Duryea, Lloyd Bridges and an Oscar Nominated J. Carrol Naish costar. Superb.
Escape in the Fog (1945) Nina Foch stars in this tight little gem of a Noir running 63 minutes. It involves Nazi spies and a romance with William Wright. An early effort from director Budd Boetticher who would eventually make his name helming some great westerns starring Randolph Scott.
Captain From Castile (1947) Twilight Time blu ray.
Tyrone Power looking every inch a movie star leads the way in this big scale, big canvas effort from director Henry King. A swashbuckling tale of the Spanish meeting Montezuma in the search for gold. A little overlong but it’s hard to deny the POWER of Power on screen. Filmed in color with Jean Peters as Ty’s leading lady. Also stars Cesar Romero, Lee J. Cobb, John Sutton, George Zucco, Jay Silverheels and Thomas Gomez.
Cry Wolf (1947) Warner Archive DVD. Barbara Stanwyck shows up unexpectedly at an estate overseen by Errol Flynn. Apparently she was secretly married to Flynn’s now late nephew, Richard Basehart. With a fortune at stake Flynn is keeping her at a distant and obviously has something to hide. Truthfully it isn’t much of a payoff and considering this film stars two of the greatest stars of the studio era it comes off a a disappointment. The pair should have turned up in some sort of a romcom.
The Undercover Man (1949) Indicator blu ray.
Glenn Ford takes the title role. He’s out to nab a mobster who isn’t paying his fare share of income tax. James Whitmore is his partner and Nina Foch his wife. The actual mobster remains anonymous throughout prompting one to be reminded of Capone. Nice turn by long time character actor Anthony Caruso who is under pressure and might be willing to make a deal with Ford for cash and a new life.
Two Lost Worlds (1951) Image Entertainment DVD. I think there’s more stock footage in this seafaring adventure than new material. Anther “quickie” I sat in on this month. This one starring James Arness who looks mighty impressive as a ship’s captain and all around he-man. The first 40 minutes are pirate oriented while the last twenty minutes sees a group of castaways on an island inhabited by dinosaurs! Not much to recommend unless your an Arness fan or perhaps looking for more footage borrowed from 1940’s One Million BC or any number of pirate flicks.
Drive a Crooked Road (1954) Indicator blu ray.
This is one of those little B flicks that is really a Noir gem with Mickey Rooney caught up in a heist as the getaway driver. Diane Foster lures Mickey in to a romance so that her real man, Kevin McCarthy, can enlist Mickey’s driving skills to get him from Point A to Point B in less than 20 minutes. Things get complicated along the way. A must see for Noir fans and it serves as a great reminder just how versatile “The Mick” was.
A Man Alone (1955) Kino Lorber blu ray. Superior western from actor/director Ray Milland.
Curucu, Beast of the Amazon (1956) Vinegar Syndrome blu ray. Cult title from writer/director Curt Siodmak. John Bromfield and Beverly Garland journey into the jungles of a backlot chasing some mysterious looking puppet that is probably a Mardi Gras reject. Need to watch this one with a crowd for the full inept effect that causes belly laughs.
Brothers In Law (1957) Studio Canal DVD. Another comedy gem from the Boulting Brothers. Once again it’s Ian Carmichael taking center stage as a newly minted but rather meek lawyer looking for employment. He’ll be taken on by the flighty Miles Malleson and working with the shifty Richard Attenborough. Terry-Thomas scores some laughs in a brief role as a defendant and Carmichael hits a bullseye in the final courtroom scenes.
Beyond All Limits (1959) VCI DVD.
A Jack Palance oddity is the film that turned up in that collection I mentioned above. He’s a fisherman looking to smuggle his catch from Mexican waters and hire on the locals of a small village as well to aid him in his operation. Of course he’s had a past love affair with Maria Felix who just happens to be the wife of his partner Pedro Armendariz. Nothing special but a change of pace for the legendary tough guy.
Phantom Planet (1961) Image Entertainment DVD. Low budget sci-fi affair finds an astronaut and his ship pulled into a subterranean life on an asteroid. Ho hum but has some fun unintentional laughs. B/W.
Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965) Olive Films blu ray. Peter Cushing tangles with Christopher Lee and it’s oh so fun.
Attack of the Robots (1966) Kino Redemption blu ray.
Black and White spy shenanigans starring Eddie Constantine up against a mad scientist with an army of robots. Would you believe Jess Franco directed this one? Yes indeed you can expect his zoom lens being overactive. Yeah the blu ray cover art is better than the film.
Castle of The Creeping Flesh (1968) Severin blu ray. If the credits hadn’t said otherwise I’d think I was watching another Jess Franco lowbrow thriller with plenty of sex, sadism and bloodletting. In the end I wasn’t surprised to learn he’s an uncredited writer so that explains my initial feelings. A group of adults party it up, throw in a rape and visit the castle just up the road by horseback. Enter Franco favorite Howard Vernon as a mad scientist/Baron ala Victor Frankenstein. He’s looking to revive his long dead daughter leading to more murders and limbs being hacked from bodies.
The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) Scream Factory blu ray. This is the one Hammer entry of the Frankenstein series minus Peter Cushing and it’s been looked down upon over the years because of it but I think time has been kind to this darkly humorous effort with Ralph Bates taking on the role of The Baron and Hammer Glamour favorite Veronica Carlson as Elizabeth. Darth Vader himself, David Prowse plays the monster.
Baffled! (1972) Scorpion DVD.
A TV pilot starring Leonard Nimoy who has the power of a clairvoyant following a racing car crash. Kind of boring I thought which is likely one of the reasons it wasn’t picked up for development. Too bad as Nimoy is fun to see sans the ears and smiling once in a while when not playing his most famous role.
Icy Breasts (1974) Kino Lorber Studio Classics blu ray. Claude Brasseur meets the alluring Mireille Darc on a beach and pursues her to what may be his own demise if he isn’t careful. She’s a bit unstable as is confirmed by her friend Alain Delon. Or is she? Police will be getting involved when bodies begin t turn up. Ho-hum.
The Beast Must Die (1974) Indicator blu ray. An old fave starring Peter Cushing I like to revisit on occasion.
The Night Child (1975) Arrow Video DVD. One of those Italian Exorcist knock offs starring Richard Johnson whose daughter seems to be possessed of a dead child’s spirit thanks to a medallion. OK of it’s type and yes Johnson also starred in THE Exorcist rip off, Beyond The Door in 1974.
To The Devil a Daughter (1976) Scream Factory blu ray.
Hammer’s final horror is based on a Dennis Wheatly novel pitting Richard Widmark’s authority on cults VS. Christopher Lee’s defrocked Priest in a battle for Nastassja Kinski’s soul. Underrated and worth tracking down not to mention with Denholm Elliott appearing it’s practically a must.
Blind Rage (1978) Scorpion blu ray. Low brow heist film sprinkled with action and poor dubbing BUT it does have Fred “The Hammer” Williamson turning up in the final 15 minutes. Martial artist Leo Fong and a quartet of thieves take down a cool 15 million and damn near get away with it but The Hammer steps in. The real catch here is that Fong and his gang are all blind! Yes Blind! No big deal but if you love exploitation cinema….
Dominique (1979) Vinegar Syndrome blu ray.
A very classy cast list led by Cliff Robertson and Jean Simmons star in this thriller without any real scares. Cliff drives his wife to Jean to insanity and suicide but she returns from the grave to do likewise to him. Missed opportunity also starring Simon Ward and Jenny Agutter.
Omen III : The Final Conflict (1981) Scream Factory blu ray. Because I’m a big fan of the first two Omen features I like the third film in general but find it a letdown when compared to the two that came before it. Sam Neill takes on the role of the Anti-Christ, now an adult. Just not fussy on the direction the story went to wrap things up. I think it tried to take on too large a canvas and it suffers for it yet at times I think it needed a larger cast of familiar faces alongside Sam.
Fright Night (1985) Eureka! blu ray.
A fan favorite that never fails to entertain. Chris Sarandon is the vampire who has moved in next door to William Ragsdale. All Ragsdale has to do now is convince his Mom, buddy, and girlfriend that it’s Sarandon who is leaving dead bodies around town. Time to call in a professional. Enter the beloved Roddy McDowall as a washed up horror star, Peter Vincent, who will surely help put an end to Sarandon’s reign of terror. Saw it at the theater when it came out and multiple times since. A must for us trivia hounds so if you’ve overlooked this one, big mistake.
Lock Up (1989) Studio Canal DVD. No matter the role, Sly Stallone, always seems to inject a bit of Rocky Balboa into a good many of his films. Here he’s a model prisoner who finds himself transferred to a high security prison because warden Donald Sutherland has an old score to settle with him. Sly is the underdog once again and has to battle not only Donald but Prison Guard John Amos and a psychotic inmate played by genre fave Sonny Landham. Keep your eyes peeled for inmate Danny Trejo as well. Sly keeps it moving and it’s worth a look for the fans.
In the Soup (1992) Factory 25 blu ray.
Odd yet enjoyable black and white feature starring Steve Buscemi as a wanna be director living in a slum who finds a benefactor in fringe mobster Seymour Cassel. Steve is soon drawn into various minor crimes with Cassel so that the mobster/producer can keep things moving forward. Also stars Stanley Tucci, Jennifer Beals and Will Patton. Different but worth a look if you can locate a copy of what I imagine is a rare title.
Trauma (1993) Vinegar Syndrome blu ray. Dario Argento thriller starring Piper Laurie, Brad Dourif and Asia Argento. Grotesque as one should expect with Argento directing. Someone is beheading a group of medical staff thanks to a long ago botched procedure. I’ve always been of the opinion that Dario’s best work came early on and this film falls into the period of his decline though nowhere near the bottom. That would come with Dracula 3D.
Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead (1995) Miramax DVD. Hard to resist this gangland tale with an all-star roster of talent. Mob boss Christopher Walken calls in a marker forcing Andy Garcia to take on a job with his crew consisting of Christopher Lloyd, Bill Nunn, William Forsythe and Treat Williams. Things take a violent turn when the crew make a mess of things forcing the sadistic Walken to take revenge. Enter a cool and calculating Steve Buscemi as a hitman who is out to take down Garcia and his gang. Also stars Jack Warden, Gabrielle Anwar and Fairuza Balk. As I mentioned, hard to resist.
12 Angry Men (1997) Kino Lorber Studio Classics blu ray.
The obvious question is, did you know this remake of the Henry Fonda classic even existed? Stands on it’s own thanks to the fine performances and the merits of the script which smartly adds racial tensions to the film. Fonda is switched for Jack Lemmon and Lee J. Cobb’s role fittingly goes to George C. Scott. Others in this updated version include Ossie Davis, James Gandolfini, Tony Danza, Hume Cronyn and Edward James Olmos. Directed by William Friedkin.
Land of the Free (1998) Madacy DVD. Fringe action star Jeff Speakman is under the employ of a rising politician played by William Shatner and his latest toupee. Speakman soon realizes The Shatner is crooked and out for his own gain. (tempted but not going there) Average flick but damn there is some superior stunt work in this involving car crashes. Make sure he hang in there to see the main event when Speakman meets Shatner face to face, fist to fist.
as of late ….
Assassination Games (2011) Sony DVD.
Above par action fest with Jean Claude Van Damme teaming with Scott Adkins to take down a crime king. Van Damme is a hitman while Adkins is out to settle an old score. God help anyone who stands in their way. I’ve always been a fan of Mr. Van Damme and my son recently said I should look up Adkins flicks so this one was an easy decision.
The Samaritan (2012) E One DVD. A low key Samuel L. Jackson gets out of prison after a 25 year stretch for killing his partner after a grift goes sideways. He’s looking to stay clean but that never works in the movies. He’s lured into a grift by his old partners psychotic son and a daughter he never knew he had. The mark? Tom Wilkinson. Not bad.
Silence (2016) Paramount DVD.
Martin Scorsese film that follows the tale of two Jesuit Priests and their journey to Japan in the 17th Century to both spread the Word of God and to find out what happened to the man who went before them, Liam Neeson. The two young men are played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver. Well shot and acted but it’s a heavy hearted downer and not one I’ll be revisiting anytime soon.
Dark Waters (2019) Netflix. Mark Ruffalo stars in this true tale of a lawyer caught up in a David Vs. Goliath fight against big business. It’s much like the Erin Brokovich case minus the humor. First rate storytelling and performances from all including Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins and Bill Pullman. It’s also an eye opener as to the facts the story reveals. Recommended.
80 For Brady (2023) Theater. Sure it’s cliched and you can pretty much guess your way thru the plot but that doesn’t mean it isn’t funny with some genuine laughs. Also I’ve always been of the opinion it’s important to movie history to see key people appear together on screen and while we’ve had a few Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin pairings it’s nice to see the, joined by Oscar winners Sally Field and Rita Moreno.
Total Count – 48
Revisits – 18
New to Me – 30
Most enjoyable revisit goes to Bogie in Sahara. Great film and easy to recommend if you can locate a copy. Not one of his films that gets screened all that often.
New to me titles to recommend? For a classic era go with the British comedy, Brothers In Law and for something more recent I must say Dark Waters is a film worthy of your time.
Check your scorecard and let me know what you liked or like the look of for February’s round up.
Sahara is a really good WWII film.
Should be better known.
Love “Sahara” and “Captain From Castile”. Agree on “Silence”. ‘Torchy’ sounds fun.
I was starting to wonder if anyone else had even seen Silence. Considering it’s pedigree it I don’t think it garnered much attention. Have fun with Torchy. It’s a rapid fire series.
I saw Silence. Once was enough.
Cool Round-Up as always Mike, I try not to ever miss these, you make them so fun to read. Love the Glenda Farrell Torchy Blaine films, so much fun and the banter between her and Barton MacLane is priceless. You can never go wrong with anything Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, the heavyweight duo of British Horror. Martin Scorsese is the man.
Nice to see Barton in there with Farrell having fun as opposed to being gunned down. LOL. Lee and Cushing never get old.
Dare I ask how big is ypour collection now?
Not exactly sure but safe to say in the neighborhood of 15000. Can’t help myself. Maybe I should have been a librarian as I love to catalog them.
Holy moly. And i’m assuming they are still in their case. To save space, I had to take them out of their sleeves and store them in portable pockets.
Not all in cases. Probably about 4000 of them in aluminum cases hanging in sleeves for easy torage.
I always hated not having the case. I threw out a lot of cases and wish I hadn’t.
You are racing ahead of me now. Lot of titles I’ve never seen but am a big fan of the Torchy Blane series. Enjoyed Sahara and Captain from Castille and anything with Beverley Garland. Any Hammer horror tended to float my boat as did anything demonic so some good choices there. I remember quite enjoying Dominique especially as it had Jean Simmons in the cast. I enjoyed Dark Waters even though the story was a tad predictable.
I wanted to like Dominique more overall but it was nice to see Miss Simmons in a feature role at a time when she wasn’t playing many.
I suspect I might be less lenient to Dominique now.
I haven’t seen – or even heard of – many from your list this time around, but I have watched two your three noir viewings, and both I watched recently: Escape in the Fog and The Undercover Man. Liked ’em both…but now I need to check out Drive a Crooked Road, which I think I have saved somewhere.
And I agree with you on To the Devil a Daughter…I watched it for the first time last year, and thought it was pretty good…then read up on it, and was surprised it wasn’t well received. Glad to hear you like it as well. I still need to track down Sahara, one of many Bogart films I haven’t gotten to yet…and can you believe I’ve never seen The Omen, much less their sequels? I know, I know…blasphemous!
WOW. I’m shocked you havent seen Omen. If and when you do it may not have the effect I’d hope for. Might be one of those films you need to see as a youngster. Still freaks me out each and everytime. Bogie is always worth tracking down. Crooked Road is a real gem so have fun if you locate it.