Recent Reviews

Holiday (1938) (Blu-ray)

Theirs was such a whirlwind courtship that Julia Seton (Doris Nolan) never quite got around to telling Johnny ChaseCase that she's one of those Setons – that he's about to marry into one of the country's most prestigious and eye-wateringly wealthy families. Pending the approval of her father (Henry Kolker), naturally.

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Then again, Johnny hasn't yet broken the news to his bride-to-be that he's on the verge of retirement. Not forever, mind you. Rather than squander away his best years behind a desk – toiling for however many decades until he's too old to properly enjoy retirement – Johnny would rather make the most of his youth, have the time to figure out who he really is, and put off the grindstone as far towards middle-age as possible. Already having put in quite a bit of work, Johnny has just about squirreled away enough cash to take that sort of indefinite holiday too! He has every hope of Julia joining him on this adventure – and leaving her own checkbook behind.

Julia's older sister Linda (Katharine Hepburn) thinks it's a grand idea, but then, she's always marched to the beat of her own drum. It'll take quite a lot to convince the ::harumph!:: more traditional Setons about this scheme, or perhaps they'll wear Johnny down and convince him to sign on with Father's banking firm instead. Untold millions of dollars await! Regardless, someone's going to have to decide something; they've thrown a lavish New Year's party (or two) to announce the impending nuptials, and the clock's hands are pointing perilously closely to midnight.

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There's an unavoidable temptation to compare Holiday to The Philadelphia Story. Both, after all, were based on plays by Philip Barry, both film adaptations were co-written by Donald Ogden Stewart and...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Holiday (1938)]

Black Angel (Blu-ray)

"Mrs. Kirk Bennett – so you're the one he left sitting at home. Some guys are never satisfied."
"I had to see you."
"Why? Because I had a wife who needed killing, and you had a husband who took care of it?"

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They say that an innocent man doesn't run. And while the motives of Kirk Bennett (John Phillips) in visiting singer Mavis Marlowe (Constance Dowling) were surely anything but innocent, he certainly didn't murder her. We know that, yes, but Kirk never got around to finishing that phone call to the police, interrupted by clatter in the other room. He left his fingerprints all over the crime scene. Startled by Mavis' returning secretary, he darted down a stairwell in a failed attempt to flee. Detectives check out his story, but nothing else sticks. Before you have time to blink twice, a jury has sentenced him to the electric chair.

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Nick's wife Catherine (June Vincent) is dead certain that he isn't guilty. She sets out on her own investigation, which brings her to the door of Mavis' estranged husband, pianist and songwriter Martin Blair (Dan Duryea). Nevermind that Catherine confronted Marty in the hopes of revealing this unhinged, heartbroken alcoholic as the true killer; they're soon partners. They know that if they can find Mavis' heart-shaped brooch that was stolen from her apartment, they'll have found her murderer. They can't shake the feeling that sleazy nightclub owner Marko (Peter Lorre) is somehow wrapped up in this, and to get closer to him – and whatever's locked in his safe – Catherine and Marty sign on as the club's new musical act. The closer the two of them come to the truth, the closer they are to being discovered...

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The story goes that Cornell Woolrich hated this adaptation of his...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Black Angel]

The Specialists (Blu-ray)

"I understand your fears very well. Hud is Charlie's brother, who has been lynched in this town to our misfortune. But if Hud comes here to avenge his brother, he would have to kill us all, because we are all responsible for the death of that man. Everyone."

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There are two arguments you're more likely to hear than any other in Blackstone. We've already established who's to blame for the lynching of supposed bank robber Charlie Dixon – everyone – but surely someone is more to blame than the rest. Point your fingers accusingly in that direction, and maybe you won't be the one into whom Charlie's brother Hud (Johnny Hallyday) is emptying his revolver. The other inescapable topic of conversation these days is what exactly happened to that fortune that Charlie took off with. Everybody's desperate to get rich. No one wants to bleed out in the street. And yet by the end, damned near everyone in Blackstone is gonna be dead or disappointed.

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The Specialists is hardly what what one would likely expect from the concluding chapter of Sergio Corbucci's Mud & Blood trilogy. Set in a town in which firearms have been confiscated by a well-meaning but ineffectual sheriff (Gastone Moschin), it doesn't offer the visceral Grand Guignol hyperviolence of Django. The haunting nihilism that permeates The Great Silence is in short supply. Aside from being the trilogy's least compelling lead, Hud's bullet-deflecting chainmail armor also makes for a far less memorable visual element than the casket Django drags behind him or the scar across Silence's neck.

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The driving force of the plot are a bank robbery we never see and the avenging of a brother we never meet. Because there is a whodunnit? element to The Specialists,...[read the entire Blu-ray review of The Specialists]

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Stuff I've Watched Recently

  • 1/19: The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl (Blu-ray)
  • 1/19: The Shallows (Uhd)
  • 1/14: The Laundromat (Hdtv)
  • 1/14: Gemini Man (Uhd)
  • 1/13: Holiday (1930) (Blu-ray)
  • 1/12: Holiday (The Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • 1/12: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Uhd)
  • 1/11: Detective Pikachu (Uhd)
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  • 1/10: Black Angel (1946) (Blu-ray)
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  • 1/7: Rocketman (Uhd)
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  • 1/4: Marriage Story (Hdtv)
More of my boring video log...
Movies I've Acquired Recently

  • 1/20: The Good Fairy (Blu-ray)
  • 1/20: House by the River (Blu-ray)
  • 1/20: The Great McGinty (Blu-ray)
  • 1/19: Darkest Hour (Uhd)
  • 1/10: Holiday (The Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • 12/31: Black Angel (1946) (Blu-ray)
  • 12/26: Detective Pikachu (Uhd)
  • 12/26: The Shallows (Uhd)
  • 12/26: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Uhd)
  • 12/26: Batman 4K Film Collection (Uhd)
  • 12/26: Game of Thrones: Season 8 (Steelbook) (Uhd)
  • 12/26: It: Chapter Two (Uhd)
  • 12/26: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Uhd)
  • 12/26: Pan's Labyrinth (Uhd)
  • 12/26: Deadwood: The Movie (Blu-ray)
More stuff I've bought or been sent to review...

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