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The Letter (Blu-ray)

The story told by Leslie Crosbie (Bette Davis) is accepted without reservation. Her husband Robert (Herbert Marshall) believes her. Attorney Howard Joyce (James Stephenson) believes her. We the audience – despite having seen her moments ago empty a revolver into Geoff Hammond, continuing to fire even when his lifeless body was sprawled across the dirt outside her bungalow – want to believe her. Mrs. Crosbie's is a tale that evokes great sympathy, fending off a drunken rapist in the dead of night. She's a respectable lady of privilege in British Malaya. She's able to recount every moment of the attack in horrifying detail, practically word-for-word no matter how many times she's questioned. The more that comes to light about Mr. Hammond – gambling dens! a mixed-race wife (Gale Sondergaard)! – the more certain it seems that Mrs. Crosbie's brief time in jail is a mere formality. An acquittal at trial is all but assured.

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That is, until Mr. Joyce gets word about a letter: one supposedly written by Mrs. Crosbie to the man she'd gunned down. There's no definitive proof as yet that such a letter actually exists; all he's seen is a copy in someone else's handwriting. The supposed original is in the hands of the newly-widowed Mrs. Hammond, who might understandably be pursuing motives all her own. Mrs. Crosbie, once she comes to acknowledge its existence, dismisses the letter as a harmless misunderstanding. Still, this throws a spanner into the works. If the prosecution were to catch wind of this letter, there would all of a sudden be a potential motive. Elements of Mrs. Crosbie's account would no longer fit together quite so neatly. Even if the letter is as insubstantial as Mrs. Crosbie insists that it is, it would still be far more expedient to pay Mrs. Hammond the...[read the entire Blu-ray review of The Letter]



From Beyond the Grave (Blu-ray)

"My, customers. Come in, come in. I'm sure I have the very thing to tempt you. Lots of bargains. All tastes catered for. Oh, and a big novelty surprise goes with every purchase. Do come in anytime. I'm always open."


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The proprietor (Peter Cushing) of Temptations Limited doesn't trade in needful things, exactly. Still, whatever you're hoping to find – whether it's something as grand as a centuries-old mirror or as tiny as a snuffbox – is on offer in this antique shop. He's surprisingly flexible on price. He'll turn a blind eye to shoplifting. And everyone – even those who swindle and steal from the old man – returns home with more than they'd bargained for.

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Temptations Ltd. forms the backbone of From Beyond the Grave, the last of Amicus Productions' decade-long series of horror anthologies. The framing device aside, there are four tales of terror, each revolving around a hapless customer tormented by some sort of malevolent supernatural force. In the first, Edward (David Warner) is compelled by the ancient entity in his newly-acquired mirror to kill. Whenever the bloodlust fades, Edward awakes as his flat is sopping with blood but with nary a corpse to be found. Is this spirit sating its ravenous hunger by bringing these women's lifeless bodies with him into the mirror? And what to do when his lovely girlfriend (Wendy Allnutt) is next on the menu?

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If Christopher (Ian Bannen) is going to perpetuate his lie about being a decorated military hero, he has to look the part, swiping an appropriately impressive medal from the antique shop. This fantasy – concocted during Christopher's daily chats with a kindly street peddler (Donald Pleasence) – proves a welcomed escape from his thankless...[read the entire Blu-ray review of From Beyond the Grave]



Christmas in July (Blu-ray)

"If you don't sleep at night, it isn't the coffee – it's the bunk."


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Forget that musty old tagline on the Maxford House Coffee building; they just haven't gotten around to replacing it with the slogan that Jimmy (Murder, My Sweet's Dick Powell) dreamed up. You get it, right? C'mon, it's a play on words! It's a well-known scientific fact that coffee helps you sleep – or, at least, that's the latest medical report from Austria – so if you're having trouble dozing off, don't blame Maxford House. So, yeah, it isn't the coffee; it's the bunk! It's a cinch for the coffee mogul's $25,000 slogan contest. (And that's in 1940 dollars, so think somewhere in the neighborhood of a half million these days.) Just imagine! He and Betty (Ellen Drew) can finally get hitched. They can at long last afford their dream home. And hey, there'll even be enough to get Ma (Georgia Caine) that snazzy davenport sofa she's been asking about for years. Okay, okay, there's the small matter of the several million other entrants vying for the same prize, but Jimmy has had such a string of bad luck at these sorts of contests that surely his time has come.

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And, as far as he knows, it has! A few of his co-workers at a competing coffee company decide to poke fun at Jimmy's daydreaming, gluing together a fake telegram declaring him the winner. The whole thing spirals out of control too quickly for Tom, Dick, and Harry (zing!) to come clean about their prank. When Jimmy goes to collect his check, it comes as news to Dr. Maxford (Raymond Walburn) that the deadlocked jurors have finally crowned a winner. But he just assumes he's as out of the loop as ever, forking over a check for twenty-five large without too much fuss.

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Seeing...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Christmas in July]



More reviews...

Stuff I've Watched Recently

  • 12/7: The Holiday (Blu-ray)
  • 12/6: The Letter (Blu-ray)
  • 12/6: Batman: Hush (Uhd)
  • 12/3: Gremlins (Uhd)
  • 12/2: From Beyond the Grave (Blu-ray)
  • 12/2: King Kong vs. Godzilla (Blu-ray)
  • 12/1: Godzilla Raids Again (Blu-ray)
  • 11/26: Suspiria (1977) (Uhd)
  • 11/25: Hitch Hike To Hell (Blu-ray)
  • 11/22: Godzilla (The Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • 11/19: Cluny Brown The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray)
  • 11/19: Cluny Brown The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray)
  • 11/17: Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Uhd)
  • 11/17: Throne of Blood (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray/DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • 11/15: Texas, Adios (Blu-ray)
More of my boring video log...
 
Movies I've Acquired Recently

  • 12/7: The Holiday (Blu-ray)
  • 11/30: Rampage (Uhd)
  • 11/30: Hellboy (2019) (Uhd)
  • 11/30: Hellboy (2004) (Uhd)
  • 11/30: Rocketman (Uhd)
  • 11/30: Arrow: Season 7 (Blu-ray)
  • 11/30: The Flash: Season 5 (Blu-ray)
  • 11/30: Leprechaun Returns (Blu-ray)
  • 11/30: Crawl (Blu-ray)
  • 11/30: Child's Play (2019) (Blu-ray)
  • 11/30: Alita: Battle Angel (Uhd)
  • 11/30: Supergirl: S4 (Uhd)
  • 11/30: DC's Legends of Tomorrow: S4 (Uhd)
  • 11/30: Batman: Hush (Uhd)
  • 11/30: Spookies (Slipcover #1) (Blu-ray)
More stuff I've bought or been sent to review...


 
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