Category: Movies

Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows (2007) / Z-View

Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows (2007)

Director:  Kent Jones

Screenplay: Kent Jones

Stars: Martin Scorsese (narrator), Orson Welles, Val E. Lewton, Roger Corman, Jacques Tourneur, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Robert Wise.

Tagline:  None.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Val Lewton began his career as a writer of pulp fiction.  He had two published novels before he took a job at MGM.  There Lewton wrote promotional copy and film novelizations.  Lewton later became publicist and assistant to David Selznick.  Under Selznick, Lewton worked as a story editor and uncredited writer on Gone with the Wind.

In 1942, Val Lewton left MGM to become head of the horror division at RKO studios. He was given carte blanche if he followed three rules: 1) Each film had to be made for $150,000 or less.  2) Each film had to run 75 minutes or less.  3) Lewton’s supervisors at RKO would provide the film titles.  Surprisingly, given these parameters, Lewton made a name for himself by taking control of all other aspects of the films he produced.

Lewton’s first RKO film, Cat People became RKO’s biggest hit of the year.  Lewton developed a friendship with it’s director,  Jacques Tourneur.  They reteamed on two other films (I Walked with a Zombie and The Leopard Man).  Lewton gave Robert Wise (The Curse of the Cat People) and Mark Robson (The Seventh Victim) their first opportunities to direct.  Boris Karloff also appeared in three of Lewton’s films (Isle of the Dead; The body Snatcher and Bedlam). Karloff credited Lewton for helping rejuvenate his career.  Val Lewton always wrote the final draft of the films he produced, but seldom took a writing credit.  In the two cases where he did accept a credit, Lewton used the  pseudonym Carlos Keith (which he also used for some novels).

Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows focuses on Lewton’s career at RKO and the (mostly horror) films he produced there.  The films were:  Cat People (1942); I Walked with a Zombie (1943); The Leopard Man (1943); The Seventh Victim (1943); The Ghost Ship (1943); The Curse of the Cat People (1944); Mademoiselle Fifi (1944); Youth Runs Wild (1944); The Body Snatcher (1945); Isle of the Dead (1945) and Bedlam (1946).

Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Hold That Line” (1952) starring The Bowery Boys / Z-View

Hold That Line (1952)

Director:  William Beaudine

Screenplay:  Tim Ryan, Charles R. Marion, Bert Lawrence (additional dialogue)

Stars:  Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, John Bromfield, Veda Ann Borg, Taylor Holmes, Bernard Gorcey, Gil Stratton, David Gorcey, Benny Bartlett, Pierre Watkin, Robert Nichols and Paul Bryar.

Tagline:  They’ve Gone COLLEGE CRAZY! It’s their dizziest laff hit!

The Plot…

Hold That Line starts off as a take on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.  Two college alumni are discussing Ivy College.  One believes that anyone can succeed in college if given the chance.  The gentlemen make a bet and the Bowery Boys are chosen to test the theory.

What’s interesting about Hold the Line is that partway through the film, the “Pygmalion” aspect takes a backseat to football rivalry.  State always beats Ivy in the football championship.  While in chemistry class, Sach (Hall) invents a concoction that gives him super strength.  Sach becomes the star of the football team and big man on campus.  On the day of the championship game against State, gangsters kidnap Sach in order to win bets.  Will Sach get away from the gangsters?  If he doesn’t can Slip (Gorcey) and the gang pull off an upset?  And what about the original “Pygmalion” bet?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Hold the Line is a fun outing.  If you think it’s odd to see 35 year old Slip and 32 year old Satch as college freshmen, just wait until 64 year old Louie (Bernard Gorcey) joins them.

Angels in Disguise earns 3 of 5 stars.

“John Wick: Chapter 4” – The Trailer is Here!

Wow!  We’ve seen the poster before, but the trailer for John Wick: Chapter 4 is fire and worth the wait.  I love it! (And yes, it will get me back in a theater.)

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) uncovers a path to defeating the High Table. But before he can earn his freedom, Wick must face off against a new enemy with powerful alliances across the globe and forces that turn old friends into foes.

Only in theaters & IMAX March 24. Starring Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård, Laurence Fishburne, Hiroyuki Sanada, Shamier Anderson, Lance Reddick, Rina Sawayama, Scott Adkins, and Ian McShane.

Gents Without Cents (1944) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Gents Without Cents (1944)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay:  Felix Adler

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Lindsay Bourquin, Laverne Thompson and Betty Phares.

Tagline:  Step by step, inch by inch and wow, what comedy follows!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Larry, Curly and Moe are out of work vaudeville performers working on their act.  After several interruptions due to banging on the floor upstairs, they decide to give the noise-makers the what for.  The boys are surprised to find three young women dancers who are practicing their routine.  Surprisingly the Stooges and the ladies hit it off.  The next day they all go to a job interview and get hired!  The girls will dance and the Stooges will do comedy.  When the main act (Caster & Earl – caster oil) don’t show up, the Stooges get raised into the main act.  This could be their big break…

Gents Without Cents is one of my favorite Stooges shorts.  It breaks the tradition of them not getting the girls.  There is less of them beating each other up and more working together despite being on the wrong end of the smarts spectrum.  Plus we get to see them perform, not only the famous Vaudeville act, “Niagara Falls” but also “Rat-tat-toodle-oodle-day-ay”.  The women’s performances are fun as well.

The kicker is the final scene… as the Stooges head to their honeymoon at, you guessed it, Niagara Falls!

Gents Without Cents earns 5 of 5 stars.

In Conversation… Sylvester Stallone on CBS Sunday Morning! (Full Video)

This past Sunday, Sly was interviewed on the set of Tulsa King.  Bravo to all involved.

In the new Paramount+ series “Tulsa King,” Sylvester Stallone stars as an aging New York mafioso fresh out of prison who finds himself setting up a new criminal organization on the plains of Oklahoma. Stallone talked with correspondent Lee Cowan about his first foray into television; the enduring power of “Rocky”; and how he’s matured into a new style of acting.

“Hoi Polloi” (1935) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Hoi Polloi (1935)

Director:  Del Lord

Screenplay:  Felix Adler, Helen Howard (uncredited)

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Harry Holman and Bud Jamison.

Tagline:  Meet the new darlings of society.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Hoi Polloi is George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play, Pygmalion, but with a Three Stooges’ twist.  Professor Richmond believes that a even a person from low standings without education can be turned into a gentleman with the proper training.  Professor Nichols disagrees and wagers $10,000 that Richmond can not train three commoners into becoming gentlemen.  Nichols gets to pick the three and he chooses Larry, Curly and Moe.  Let the hijinks begin!

Moe’s wife, Helen came up with the idea to adapt Shaw’s play.  The idea was so good, they reused it in Half-Wits Holiday (1947) which was Curly’s last starring appearance (1947) and Pies and Guys (1958).

One of the funniest scenes involves a dance instructor who tells the boys to just “do what I do”.  A bee goes down the back of her dress as she frantically moves around to dislodge it, Larry, Curly and Moe attempt to follow her moves.

Hoi Polloi earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Dave Stevens: Drawn to Perfection” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

The poster and trailer for Dave Stevens: Drawn to Perfection is here.  I cannot wait to see this!

Dave Stevens was a once-in-a-lifetime artist who created the hit comic book series The Rocketeer that reintroduced the world to ’50s pin-up queen Bettie Page and was adapted into a beloved feature film. Dave carried with him a style born of 1930s American Pop Culture, an era he never experienced firsthand, but lived on in his heart and through his illustrations. His award-winning, 35-year career spanned advertising, comics, animation, movies, and TV working with luminaries like Jack Kirby, Doug Wildey, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, John Landis, and Joe Johnston. Widely considered one of the best illustrators of his generation, Dave Stevens lived life the way he drew, meticulously pursuing a perfection he saw in his mind. His elegant brush work and iconic imagery continue to attract fans and inspire new generations of artists.

“Mindcage” starring Martin Lawrence, John Malkovich & Melissa Roxburgh – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

I like the poster and dig the trailer for Mindcage starring Martin Lawrence, John Malkovich and Melissa Roxburgh.  It took me a second to accept Lawrence in a serious role, but this could work.  What do you think?

In this spellbinding thriller, detectives Jake Doyle (Martin Lawrence) and Mary Kelly (Melissa Roxburgh) seek the help of an incarcerated serial killer named The Artist (John Malkovich) when a copycat killer strikes. While Mary searches for clues in The Artist’s brilliant but twisted psyche, she and Jake are lured into a diabolical game of cat and mouse, racing against time to stay one step ahead of The Artist and his copycat.

Starring Martin Lawrence, Melissa Roxburgh, John Malkovich, Robert Knepper, Jacob Grodnik, and Aiden Turner.

“Crash Goes the Hash” (1944) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Crash Goes the Hash (1944)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay:  Felix Adler

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Dick Curtis, Bud Jamison, Symona Boniface and Vernon Dent.

Tagline:  None.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Larry, Curly and Moe get hired as reporters.  They’ll get a $100 bonus if they can get a photo of Prince Shaam of Ubeedarn (Curtis) and Mrs. Van Bustle (Boniface) who are rumored to be on the verge of marriage.  The boys get jobs as a cook and waiters for a big party at Mrs. Van Bustle’s mansion.  Hijinks follow…

Crash Goes the Hash is one of the most popular Stooges’ shorts.  Sadly during it’s filming Curly had his first small stroke.  There’s a scene where one of the characters tells the boys they’re acting like the Three Stooges and the boys are offended.

Crash Goes the Hash earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Angel’s in Disguise” (1949) starring The Bowery Boys / Z-View

Angel’s in Disguise (1949)

Director:  Jean Yarbrough

Screenplay:  Charles R. Marion, Gerald Schnitzer, Bert Lawrence (additional dialogue)

Stars:  Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell, Mickey Knox, Richard Benedict, William ‘Billy’ Benedict, Joe Turkel, David Gorcey, Benny Bartlett, Bernard Gorcey,  Ray Walker andRory Mallinson.

Tagline:  It’s their Funniest Fightin-est Film!

The Plot…

When Slip (Gorcey) and Satch (Huntz) learn that their buddy Gabe, a police officer, was shot, they head to the hospital.  They learn that Gabe will survive, but his partner, who was also shot, has died.  Gabe explains that members of the notorious Loop gang were the killers.  Slip and Satch decide to pose as gangsters to infiltrate the Loop gang and bring them down.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Bowery Boys work best when the drama is kept to a minimum.  Although there is a scene where Leo Gorcey lays it on thick and brings tears to his eyes, Angels in Disguise turns out to be one of the Bowery Boys’ better outings.  Gorcey provides a voice-over and the film has scenes shot like detective/noir films of the era.  The humor is still there and works well with this dynamic.  The best scene is the introduction of Slip’s gang.

Angels in Disguise earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Three Little Twerps” (1943) Starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Three Little Twerps (1943)

Director:  Harry Edwards

Screenplay:  Monte Collins, Elwood Ullman

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Chester Conklin, Stanley Blystone, Heinie Conklin, Bud Jamison, Anita Sharp-Bolster,  Al Thompson, Blackie Whiteford and Duke York

Tagline:  None.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Larry, Curly and Moe get involved in hijinks at the circus.  When the circus owner finds them selling discounted tickets to the amusements, he takes after them with the police.  Highlights include Curly being mistaken for the Bearded Lady’s blind date, Curly and Larry hiding in a horse costume and Curly running for his life from the wild “Sultan of Abudaba”.

Three Little Twerps earns 3 of 5 stars.

“From Nurse to Worse” (1940) Starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

From Nurse to Worse (1940)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay:  Clyde Bruckman from a story by Charles L. Kimball

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Vernon Dent and Ned Glass

Tagline:  None.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

An insurance salesmen tells the boys that if they purchase a policy on Curly and then he acts insane, they can collect big.  They buy the policy.  Moe and Larry put Curly on a leash and take him to the doctor.  Curly is so convincing that the doctor thinks Curly is dangerously insane.  His cure to to operate on Curly’s brain!  When Moe and Larry attempt to rescue Curly the hijinks are on!

From Nurse to Worse earns 4 of 5 stars.