crime, Hitchcock, movie, movie review, mystery, romance

June 24th, 2018 Movie – Young And Innocent

young and innocent

Once again I wasn’t paying attention when I was entering the movie titles into my spreadsheet and put another movie out of order. Oh well, I am actually glad I got to watch this movie today as it feels a little appropriate to end the weekend like this. Today’s movie is the last movie in the Legends of Horror box set and, much like how I started off with this set, I find myself watching a Hitchcock movie to finish off the set. This is yet another movie that I have never heard of before buying this collection and I really haven’t been disappointed with these rare gems so let’s see if the trend finishes up the same as I watch today’s movie, Young And Innocent.

The plot: On a stormy night, Christine Clay finds herself in an argument with her jealous ex-husband Guy, who doesn’t accept her Reno divorce as valid. Accusing her of having an affair, they continue arguing until Christine slaps Guy and demands he leave. As he walks out into the rain, Guy turns to look back at the door as his eyes begin twitching uncontrollably. The next day, Christine’s body washes ashore onto the beach, where she is spotted by Robert Tisdall as he is out for a walk. Going to check on the body, he recognizes her as Christine and then runs to get help, but two women heading to the beach spot him and the body and they believe he is running from the crime. When the authorities arrive and determine she was strangled with the belt from a rain coat, the women accuse Robert of killing her but he proclaims his innocence, only to find that nobody seems ready to believe him. Robert is taken to Scotland Yard for questioning all night and when the police ask him if he has a raincoat, he says it was stolen out of his car. Robert admits that he did know Christine, as he sold her a story 3 years ago, but the police believe he was having an affair with her and when they inform him that she left him £1200, he ends up fainting. Erica Burgoyne, the daughter of the local police’s Chief Constable, happens to be outside and is able to help revive him, then they take Robert to see his barrister before going to court. Robert tries to tell his barrister that the police are making a mistake and that if the police go to check the pub he was at the night his coat was stolen, they will verify what he told them but he realizes pretty quickly that his barrister is somewhat incompetent. Unsure on if he will get a fair trial against the circumstantial evidence against him, Robert takes advantage of the crowded courthouse to slip away from his guards and as they clear the courthouse to search for him, he is able to get outside by wearing his barrister’s glasses as a disguise. As the police start leaving the courthouse to look for him, Erica ends up having two officers ride with her, commandeering her car to help search. When the car runs out of gas, they start pushing it to the nearest station but Erica tells them to keep going and so the two officers hitch a ride with a passing farmer. As Erica works on continuing to push the car, she is surprised to find Robert helping her, as he had stowed away on the side running board, and she begrudgingly thanks him for the help. Reaching a fuel station, Robert ends up paying for Erica’s gas and they continue on the way for a little while before Erica pulls over and drops Robert off at an abandoned farm house, not wanting him to stay in her car any longer and as he watches her drive off, he sees her stop and speak with some policemen but when they drive by without stopping, she realizes that she didn’t tell them where he was. Erica returns home and is having lunch with her father and brothers and during the course of the meal, she learns that Robert had used all the money he had on him to pay for her gas. Feeling a little guilty, but also believing his claims of innocence, she heads back to the farm house with some food for him As the two talk, Robert starts eating the food Erica brought him but when he tosses the wrapper out the window, the policemen who were with Erica earlier spot it and go to investigate. As they approach, Erica’s dog starts barking at them, alerting Erica and Robert to their approach and they are able to slip out the window and get away. Erica is upset about the fact that she was forced to run from the cops like that and considers heading back to town but when she sees the road blocked, she resigns herself to going to the pub, saying she might as well see this through. When they reach the pub, Erica goes in and asks the bartender if someone had lost a coat and the bartender mentions a tramp named Old Will had come in with a new coat but quickly shuts up when some other tramps motion him to be quiet. Another customer says that he did recall Old Will coming in with a new coat that someone had given him and the tramps start a fight to keep him quiet. Hearing the commotion, Robert goes to check on Erica but when she says she is safely outside, he heads out as well but ends up getting hurt. Erica tends to his wound and the customer tells them where they can find Old Will and Robert chooses to walk there, not wanting to put Erica in any more trouble than she might already be in. However, Erica finds herself starting to fall for Robert and she decides to take him there but stops at her aunt’s house for a little bit to ask for some money. Having Robert wait in the car, Erica goes inside only to get trapped in her aunt’s party. Outside, Robert is writing her a note to explain his leaving and thanking her for her help when her uncle shows up and invites him in. The two try to make their excuses and leave but Erica’s aunt grows suspicious and keeps them around so she can question Robert. When Erica’s uncle helps them leave, her aunt chastises him and grows even more suspicious when they head in the opposite direction of Erica’s home and she calls the Chief Constable. After hearing about Erica and Robert, the Chief Constable calls the local station house in the direction they are heading and asks them to stop her and have her call him but when the officer stops her to relay the message, he recognizes Robert and Erica drives off. Panicking over what she did and what it will do to her father if she is arrested for aiding a fugitive, Erica says they have to find that coat and they head off to find Old Will. Arriving at the train station next to the shelter he is supposed to be staying at. Robert tells Erica this will all be over soon and she will never see him again and she grows sad and asks if that is true. Robert comforts her until she falls asleep, then heads to the shelter to look for Will but ends up falling asleep inside. He eventually finds Will and questions him about the raincoat but Will feigns ignorance. When Robert exclaims that it is a matter of life or death for him, one of the tramps realizes Robert is the escaped criminal and goes to tell the manager to call the police. Robert drags Will out of there and into Erica’s car and they rush off, managing to avoid the police by racing in front of a passing train. Robert discovers that Will is wearing his raincoat underneath his overcoat and when he examines it, realizes that the belt is missing and that it was his belt that killed Christine. When he asks about the belt, Will tells them that it didn’t have a belt when the man gave it to him and describes the man as having twitchy eyes. Robert thinks this will clear him but Erica says it won’t be enough unless they find the actual killer. Realizing the police will be after them soon, Will says there is an old mine they can hide in and they head there only to have Erica’s car fall into a hole when the ground collapses. Robert and Will manage to rescue her before her car falls deeper into the hole as the police arrive, and Erica moves to stall them so that Robert can get free. Later, Erica’s father speaks with her about the situation she is in and shows her his letter of resignation, as he refuses to arrest her. That night, Robert sneaks into Erica’s room to see her and she rushes to hug him. Robert tells her that he is going to turn himself in, and just wanted to see her first. She tells him that the police found his coat and the only thing in it was a box of matches from the Grand Hotel. Robert goes to leave but then goes back to her and says he has never been to the Grand Hotel and they realize the killer must have been there or still is. The next day, Erica meets with Will, who is there to see if he spots the man that gave him the coat, but Will is being watched by the police. As they look around the hotel, they head inside the ballroom as the police enter, having spotted Will with Erica and believing they could lead them to Robert. As they sit in the ballroom and look around, the drummer of the house band notices Will and his eyes start twitching. The drummer is actually Guy in black-face and when he sees the police are there as well, he starts acting suspiciously, causing the band leader to chastise him. Guy considers leaving but when he sees more police showing up, he heads back inside and goes to take some medicine to try and get his twitching under control. Erica’s father shows up with Scotland Yard and they catch Robert and go to get Erica as Guy’s increasingly erratic behavior causes him to pass out. The police are about to lead Erica, Robert, and Will away when they hear the commotion and Erica goes to offer her help. When she notices Guy’s eyes twitching, she calls for Will to come over, then asks someone to wipe off the black-face. When his face is clear, Will confirms that it is the man that gave him the coat and as Guy comes around, Erica asks him what he did with the belt. Guy starts laughing and says he twisted it around her neck, admitting that he killed Christine. As the authorities move to arrest Guy, Robert is released and he goes to embrace Erica, who then goes to her father and asks about inviting Robert over for dinner.

For an early Hitchcock movie, this is not as good as his later works but it is a good movie on it’s own and does show some flashes of his brilliance. The acting was good, with Derrick De Marney and Nova Pilbeam doing good jobs as Robert and Erica, as they had some great chemistry on screen and the banter between them was fantastic. I also liked Edward Rigby (Old Will) as he provided a good bit of comedic humor towards the end of the movie. The story was pretty basic, with the framed man trying to prove his innocence while avoiding being caught by the authorities. Still, Hitchcock was able to add some romance and humor to a serious plot, either intentionally or unintentionally. The scene with the policemen getting a ride from the farmer had me cracking up. I don’t know if the “pig” nickname for police had come about at this point or not but when they were talking to the farmer and he told them he was paid to move pigs around, plus when they asked if he had more room for them and he said he only had the room for 10 pigs, had me almost laughing at loud. While the chase sequences were pretty good for the time, the film quality was honestly kind of bad, particularly towards the end of the film, but it could have just been the source used for this DVD and not the original film itself. A fun movie to watch and definitely worth watching if you are a fan of Hitchcock.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Hitchcock, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

February 18th, 2018 Movie – The Thirty-Nine Steps

the thirty nine steps

Sunday morning and I find myself in for a treat with today’s movie. Today I find myself watching another of Hitchcock’s early movies from the Legends Of Horror box set. Seriously, they should have just called this set “Hitchcock & Friends”, as it seems like a high percentage of movies from here are Hitchcock movies. Based on the novel by the same name, today’s movie is actually the first of several film versions and yet another Hitchcock movie that I have never seen. So let’s see if this movie is as good as most of his earlier works have been as I watch today’s movie, The 39 Steps.

The plot: At a London theater, the audience is being entertained by the act of “Mr. Memory”, a man with an exceptional talent for recall, when a fight breaks out among the crowd. As the stage manager calls for everyone to calm down, shots ring out and the crowd panics and starts to flee. Richard Hannay, a man from Canada who is in town on business, ends up leaving the theater with a young woman named Miss Smith, who asks to come back to his place. When they get there, Smith acts very nervous, staying clear of the windows and asking Hannay not to answer the phone when it rings. Making their way to the kitchen, with Smith pulling the curtains closed before allowing Hannay to turn on the lights, she tells him she is a spy named Annabella and believes that assassins were after her in the theater. She tells him that she uncovered a plot to steal British military information, with the man in charge missing the tip of one of his fingers. She tells him that she plans to leave for Scotland in the morning, as there is a man there that can help her and Hannay offers to let her stay the night. That night, Smith bursts into Hannay’s bedroom and warns him to run or he will be next, then collapses onto the bed, having been stabbed in the back. Suddenly, the phone starts ringing and Hannay moves to pick it up when, recalling Smith’s words, he checks out the window and sees a man outside at the payphone across the street. Hannay goes over to Smith’s body and takes the piece of paper she was holding, discovering it is a map of the Killin area of Scotland, with a particular farm house circled on it. Feeling paranoid that someone might try to kill him too, Hannay convinces the milkman to trade jackets and hats with him so he can slup out unnoticed, then boards a train heading for Scotland. As the train stops at a station, one of the passengers in the car Hannay is in buys a newspaper, which has a story about the murder. Hannay asks to see the paper and after reading the story, he gets off the train and attempts to talk to a police officer but when he overhears the officer saying that there was enough evidence to hang him, he changes his mind and heads back to the train. Realizing that the police might be searching the train, Hannay ducks into another compartment and kisses the woman inside as they pass, then apologizes to her, but the police return and she tells them that Hannay is who they are looking for. HAnnay manages to give the police the slip and as the train is stopped on a bridge, manages to get off and cling to one of the bridge supports in order to avoid being seen until the train starts moving again. Making his way on foot, Hannay eventually reaches a farm house and learns that there is a professor staying at the house he is heading towards. Since he still has 40 miles to travel, Hannay pays the crofter to let him stay there the night and the crofter agrees and introduces Hannay to his young wife. As the wife gets Hannay’s bed ready and starts preparing for supper, Hannay asks to read the newspaper and sees a story about his escape from the police on the bridge. The crofter has him sit down for dinner and as he says grace, his wife notices the story in the paper and stares at Hannay but he mouths to her that he is innocent. Noticing the glances between Hannay and his wife, the crofter goes outside and looks in the window to see them talking. The next morning, the crofter’s wife notices a police car approaching down the road and she sneaks downstairs to warn Hannay, as he told her the situation. Before he can leave, the crofter enters the room, suspecting his wife of cheating on him, but they argue that it isn’t the case. Hannay offers the crofter some money to stall the police but as he goes to sneak out the back, the crofter’s wife says his light colored coat will stand out in the dark and gives him the crofter’s dark coat to wear. Thanking her, Hannay slips out the back and makes his way across the hillside, putting some distance between himself and the police before they find him. With the police hot on his tail, Hannay makes his way to the home of Professor Jordan, telling the maid that answers the door that he is there on behalf of Annabella Smith. After conferring with Jordan, the maid lets him in and when the police arrive, she tells them that they have guests there but no one has entered the house in the last half hour. Inside, Jordan tells Hannay to give him a few minutes to get rid of his guests and then they prepare to talk. Hannay tells him what Smith learned and the spy ring stealing the secrets and Jordan shows that he is missing the top half of his pinky, revealing himself to be the leader of the spy ring called the 39 steps. Jordan discusses what he should do with Hannay and ends up shooting him in the chest. However, it is revealed that the crofter’s coat that Hannay was wearing contained his hymn book, which ended up stopping the bullet. After Jordan had Hannay’s body moved, Hannay escaped out the window and made his way to the local sheriff’s station to tell him what happened. The sheriff doesn’t believe him, as Jordan is his best friend, and had summoned the London police to pick up Hannay. As they start to handcuff him, Hannay manages to get away and jump out the window, hiding among a Salvation Army march in order to avoid the police. After the bulk of the police pass him, he leaves the march but is forced to duck into a building in order to avoid some stragglers. Inside, Hannay is mistaken for a introductory speaker for a political candidate. As he is giving his speech, Pamela, the woman he had kissed on the train, enters the room and, recognizing him, goes to summon the police. After giving a rousing speech, Hannay is grabbed by the police when he heads offstage and he confronts Pamela about her turning him in and bags her to place a call to warn London about the secrets being stolen but she refuses. The police ask Pamela to accompany them to the station so she can formally identify Hannay and she reluctantly agrees but as they head out of town, she voices her displeasure when they say that they have orders to take Hannay to another station 2 hours away. When they reach a crossroads and proceed to go the wrong way, Hannay gets suspicious about the police actually being police. When a flock of sheep block the car, the “police” handcuff Pamela to Hannay while they leave the car to clear the sheep from the road. Hannay drags Pamela with him as he leaves the car and carries her with him, where they hide from the police. Making their way down the road, with Hannay constantly whistling a tune that is stuck in his head, Hannay plays upon Pamela’s suspicions about him to scare her into cooperating. The soon reach an inn and get a room for the night, doing their best to hide the handcuffs around their wrists. When they get to their room, Hannay tries to accommodate Pamela to the best of his ability and they talk briefly before they both end up falling asleep. During the night, Pamela wakes up and manages to slip her hand out of the handcuffs. She sneaks downstairs and, noticing the “police” starts to call out to them but she overhears them talking and realizes that Hannay was right. After the innkeeper’s wife kicks the men out for being there after hours, Pamela heads back to the room and lays down on the sofa. When Hannay wakes up, he is shocked to find Pamela no longer handcuffed to him but she sits up from the sofa and dissuades his fears. When Hannay asks why she didn’t run away, she tells him she was originally but heard the “police” talking and realized that Hannay was telling the truth. She tells him everything she overheard, about Jordan meeting someone at the London Palladium, and Hannay heads there to catch Jordan, telling Pamela to go to the police and tell them of the theft. Pamela tells the London police but they say they called the military and learned that no papers were missing so they dismiss her story and want to question her about Hannay’s location. Pamela says she doesn’t know and leaves the station but the chief has some men follow her, believing she will lead them to Hannay. As Hannay sits in the theater, he spots Jordan sitting in a balcony just as Pamela spots him and sits next to him. As they discuss what they should do, the orchestra plays the tune for the next act and Hannay recognizes it as the act for Mr. Memory, which was the tune he had stuck in his head. Realizing that they plan on using Mr. Memory to sneak the secrets out, Hannay approaches the police to tell them but they refuse to listen. Hannay yells out to Mr. Memory to tell him what the 39 Steps are and Mr. Memory, out of reflex, says that they are a spy organization working on behalf of a Foreign Office. Before he can say which country, Jordan shoots Mr. Memory, then tries to escape but he ends up being captured by the police. Hannay approaches the dying Mr. Memory and asks him about the secret he was carrying. Mr. Memory recites the specs for a silent aircraft engine, saying that he is glad to get it off his mind, then dies. As a dance line entertains the crowd, Hannay and Pamela watch from the side of the stage and their hands move towards each other until they are holding hands.

The 39 Steps met with high praise from modern critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Packed with twists and turns, this essential early Alfred Hitchcock feature hints at the dazzling heights he’d reach later in his career.” Coming off the success of The Man Who Knew Too Much, the movie was just as much an international success and would cement Hitchcock as a true box office draw. Since it’s release, the movie has been listed as one of the top British films of all time, and, even though there are some changes between the two formats, it is considered one of the best book-to-film adaptations of all times.

This is such a great movie, having all of the suspense and intrigue that you have come to expect out of a Hitchcock movie. The acting was really good, with Robert Donat (Hanay) and Madeleine Carroll (Pamela) doing great jobs in their roles. The story was great, with a lot of intrigue following around Hannay from the moment a dying Smith stumbles into his bedroom, as you wonder how he will be able to escape the police while alert the authorities to Smith’s mission. The suspense and drama in the movie were incredible and really helped propel the movie forward while keeping the viewer invested in the movie. Definitely a must see movie for any fan of cinema.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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drama, Hitchcock, movie, movie review

September 16th, 2017 Movie – The Skin Game (1931)

the skin game

It’s Saturday morning and I am watching a classic Hitchcock movie, which means I am watching another movie from the Legends of Horror box set. As much as I am loving the movies in this box set, I am still a little annoyed that not all of the movies in it are necessarily horror movies. Take today’s movie for example. Now this is another early drama of Hitchcock’s but it had been previously done as a silent picture about 10 years earlier. Let’s see just how good of a movie The Skin Game (1931) is.

The plot: Three men head into a field and begin clearing the trees, which causes Jill Hillcrist, the daughter of a wealthy family, to grow concerned. Meanwhile, in the city, Mr. Hornblower, a businessman, is buying up properties and then forcing the people that live on the land out so he can build factories there. Some of the people go speak to Mr. Hillcrist about what is happening and he gets upset over Hornblower’s actions. When Hornblower comes over to speak with Hillcrist, Hillcrist argues with Hornblower over his kicking families out of their homes but Horblower says he needs to do this to make room for his factories, which leads to them arguing about how the other person lives their life or handles their wealth. When an auction comes up for some land that is close to the Hillcrist estate, Hilcrist and his family attend the auction to try and buy up the land. Their agent, Dawker, is instructed to try and get it for £6000, but not to go over £7000 unless he gets the signal from Hillcrist. As they wait for the auction to begin, Jill notices Hornblower’s daughter in law, Chloe, looking faint and goes to help her. As the auction commences, the price reaches £6000 and the Hillcrists’ think they have won the auction when Hornblower suddenly bids. When the price reaches £7100, Dawker stops bidding at a signal from Hillcrist but just before Hornblower wins, Hillcrist increases the bid. The bidding reaches £9000 and Hornblower refuses to go higher but as the auctioneer is about to announce Hillcrist as the winner, a third party bids £9500. Hillcrist chooses not to bid, as he feels it was worth it to keep the property out of Hornblower’s hands even if he didn’t win it himself. As they are all leaving, Dawker goes to speak with the man who placed the winning bid while Jill says she feels like Chloe looks ill because of the man. As they are about to drive off, Hornblower stops to talk with the Hillcrists and informs them that he is the winner of the property, as the man who won was his agent and since Hillcrist forced him to bid soo much on the land, he will build his factories in order to make some money off of it. Before they leave, Mrs. Hillcrist goes to speak with Dawker, who is still talking to the man, and Jill wonders what they are talking about. Mr. Hillcrist goes to find out, though his wife says he should leave it alone, and learns a secret concerning Chloe’s past before she married Charles Hornblower. Mrs. Hillcrist sends Hornblower a note to discuss Chloe’s past and Hornblower speaks with Chloe asks her if she knows what Mrs. Hillcrist is talking about but Chloe denies that there is any story and says she is probably making things up. Later that night, Chloe meets with Dawker outside the house and tells him to drop the story, offering to pay him but he refuses. When her husband Charles comes to talk with her, she asks him if he would ever leave him due to something she had done in the past but he feels like this has to do with the Hillcrists’ letter and then gets upset and says he will be happy to have the factories built so they can smoke the Hillcrists out of their homes. The next day, Jill is talking with Rolf Hornblower, as they used to be friends, but both of them choose to stand by their family’s actions and end up ending their friendship. Meanwhile, Hornblower arrives at the Hillcrist house to speak with Mrs. Hillcrist about her notes and she informs him that Chloe used to be a prostitute that was used as “the other woman” in pre-arranged divorce cases. Hornblower doesn’t believe them and gets Chloe to disprove their lies but Chloe denies it at first but when two men that she “worked” with appear, she reluctantly confirms it and begs Hornblower not to tell Charlie. Hornblower tells Chloe to go wait in the car, then asks Mrs. Hillcrist what she wants in order to keep this story secret and she tells him she wants him to sell them the land for £4500. Hornblower is outraged but agrees to the terms and swears Mrs. Hillcrist and Dawker to secrecy over the matter of Chloe’s past. That night, Chloe goes to the Hillcrist’s house and overhears Jill and Mr. Hillcrist talking about Chloe’s past and lets out a gasp, alerting them to her presence. Chloe tells Mr. Hillcrist that Charlie is coming to talk to him about the story and begs him not to tell him and Hillcrist says he won’t. Chloe then explains her past and how fortunate she was to find happiness with Charlie and is worried that he will leave her. When Charlie shows up, he demands to know what the story is and Hillcrist says it is nothing but Charlie refuses to believe him and says he will get the truth from Dawker and end his marriage with Chloe if need be. Some time later, Mrs. Hillcrist speaks with Dawker and asks what happened. Dawker explains that Charlie had come up to him and Dawker had not said anything but after Charlie threatened and goaded him, he ended up telling him the truth. Mrs. Hillcrist is upset, as it goes against their word with Hornblower but Dawker tells her that the whole village already knows there is a scandal involving the Hornblowers. Mr. Hornblower shows up and demands they return the deed to the land as they have gone back on their word, and begins struggling with Dawker to get it. Meanwhile, Chloe had drowned herself in the pond outside the Hillcrist’s house and Charlie fishes her out of the pond and brings her to the house, causing his father to stop fighting. Jill and Mrs. Hillcrist start to get some help but Hornblower refuses their help and tells Rolf to help Charlie take her body to the car. He then approaches Mr. Hillcrist and says he ruined him and his family and he hopes to be able to do the same to him or someone in his family, calling Hillcrist a hypocrite when he tries to apologize as he leaves. The Jackmans enter the house and thank Hillcrist for letting them go back to their homes but Hillcrist is still in shock over what happened and after they leave, admits that he forgot that they existed.

This was a little confusing but a decent movie for the most part. The acting was ok, with Helen Haye (Mrs. Hillcrist) and Edmund Gwenn (Mr. Hornblower) doing a good job in their roles, which were apparently reprisals of their roles from the original film. Phyllis Konstam was also good in her portrayal of Chloe, displaying a lot of emotion towards the end of the movie when she tries to get Mr. Hillcrist to lie in order to keep her secret from Charlie. The story was a little weak, trying to showcase class warfare, which is a common theme, as well as the difference between people who inherit their wealth and those who earn it but it all ended up kind of falling flat. There honestly didn’t feel like there was a lot of drama until the end of the movie and although it did it’s job in getting you to feel some emotional connection with Chloe’s pain, though it was more tragic rather than sympathetic, I honestly didn’t feel anything for anyone else in the movie. A decent movie but I would still rather watch one of his horror movies.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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Hitchcock, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

July 21st, 2017 Movie – Secret Agent

secret agent

Now that’s kind of funny. I started the work week with a movie from the Legends of Horror box set and I am ending it with a movie from that same set. Today’s movie happens to be another one of Hitchcock’s early movies, and another one which I have never seen. I think I am going to have to count up how many movies in this set are Hitchcock movies, just to see what the ratio is out of the 50 movies in the set. But I need to stop rambling now and focus on what I should be doing right now, namely watching today’s movie, Secret Agent.

The plot: During World War I in 1916, a memorial service is being held for a British Captain and novelist named Edgar Brodie but after everyone leaves, the attendant goes to move the coffin and reveals that it is empty. Later, Brodie is brought to see a man, who introduces himself as R, and Brodie asks what is going on. R explains that he needs Brodie to undertake a secret mission to locate an enemy agent that is trying to cause trouble in Constantinople. Brodie’s predecessor believed the enemy agent was staying at the Hotel Excelsior in Switzerland so R arranges transport out of town and tells Brodie to make his way their inconspicuously. Brodie is given a new identity, Richard Ashenden, and an assistant called the General, whom he briefly meets as the man is chasing after one of R’s maids. Ashenden makes his way to Switzerland and as he checks in to the hotel, he learns that his “wife” is already there, which catches him off guard. When he enters his room, he sees a man eating grapes in a chair while talking to a woman in the other room. When Ashenden makes himself known, the woman comes out and happily greets him, then introduces the man as Robert Marvin, who had been keeping her company during the day. After Marvin leaves, Ashenden questions his wife, who reveals that she is Elsa Carrington, and tells him she took the assignment for the thrills. Some time later, the General arrives and greets Ashenden and is upset to find that Ashenden is married to Elsa but when Ashenden explains that she is there as part of his cover, the General immediately begins flirting with her. Ashenden tells the General to cut it out and get some rest, as they have to head out in the morning to meet their contact in the church of a small village. Meanwhile, an old man enters a shop to buy some chocolate and is given a specific package and after he leaves the shop, he throws the candy away while keeping the wrapper, which contains a message about Brodie faking his death and for him to “take steps.” The next day, Ashenden and the General make their way to the church only to find their contact, the church organist, is dead. As they examine the body, they find a button in the man’s hand and believe it was torn off in struggle. When someone enters the church, they go hide in the bell tower but regret that decision when the person sees the body, then rings the church bell to signal the authorities. Meanwhile, Elsa has gone to the casino with Marvin, who continues to try and seduce her but she refuses, saying she loves her husband. When Ashenden and the General return to the hotel, they can’t find Elsa and the concierge tells them she went to the casino with Marvin so they head off to meet her. When they get there, Elsa asks what happened and Ashenden goes to show her the button but he gets bumped and the button ends up falling on the gambling table, where it lands on the winning number. As Marvin and the other competitors laugh at what happened, Marvin says that the button looks like it came from Caypor, the man who bumped into Ashenden and when he notices it looks like one of his buttons, Caypor assumes it is his. After Ashenden and Marvin help keep Caypor out of trouble when his dog runs into the casino, they invite Cypor and his wife to join them, Elsa, and the General for a drink. As they are drinking, Ashenden pulls the General aside and they arrange to have an argument about who is the better climber. Caypor, who is an experienced mountaineer, offers to act as judge and the three agree to head out in the morning to a nearby mountain. Elsa wants to go with them but Ashenden tells her to stay with Mrs. Caypor, as he doesn’t want Elsa to be there if they have to kill Caypor. The next day, Elsa is sitting in the Caypor’s room tlaking with Mrs. Caypor when Marvin shows up and starts discretely flirting with Elsa again. Meanwhile, Ashenden, Caypor, and the General take a lift up to the mountain but Ashenden doesn’t feel capable of killing him so the General climbs up with Caypor, then pushes him off the cliff. That night, Ashenden receives a coded telegram saying that they killed the wrong man and the General laughs about it but Elsa gets upset and walks off. She boards a ferry and Ashenden follows after her and she begins venting about what happened and how she fell in love with him when she first saw him but now she isn’t sure what to do about it. Ashenden admits his feelings for her and that he didn’t kill Caypor and decides to resign his commission in order to pursue a relationship with Elsa and the two end up kissing. The next day, the General goes to the room to speak with Ashenden and is upset to hear that Ashenden resigned. He convinces Ashenden to come with him and takes him to his room, where a woman is there in his bed. The General explains that the woman’s fiance works in a chocolate factory but it is really a mail drop for German spies. Ashenden calls his room and tells Elsa that he has to leave for a few hours and tries to make her understand. Elsa says she does but after hanging up, writes Ashenden a note thanking him for pretending but she sees that he can’t give up the job so he is better off without her. Ashenden and the General head to the chocolate factory and the General notices one of the workers writing a note and placing it in a box on the conveyor, which is taken upstairs. When the note is received, the person contacts his headquarters, who sends some police there to arrest Ashenden and the General. The General sees them arrive and warns Ashenden, who hits the alarm, and the police end up being delayed by the mass of workers trying to exit the building. Ashenden and the General meet up with the woman’s fiance, who gives them a copy of the last telegram that was sent and they learn that it was addressed to Marvin. Back at the hotel, Elsa meets up with Marvin in the lobby and, after learning that he is leaving, she asks him to take her with him. Ashenden phones the hotel to try and reach Elsa but he learns that she left with Marvin so he and the General contact R to let him know what is happening while they head off to the train station to catch them. At the station, Ashenden sees Elsa and calls out to her and tells her that Marvin is the spy and they have to stop him from reaching Constantinople. They board the train for Constantinople, with Elsa coming with them but she tries to stop Ashenden from going after Marvin and killing him. When the train passes into Turkey, soldiers get on and Ashenden points to three bodies that are hanging near the station, and one of the soldiers tells them that they are spies. As Ashenden and the General enter a compartment, Marvin sees Elsa and she accompanies him to another compartment in order to keep him from seeing Ashenden and the General. Marvin then admits to Elsa that he is a spy and plans on killing her but stops when they hear planes attacking the train. Ashenden and the General go looking for Elsa and eventually find her but when the General goes to kill Marvin, Elsa grabs Marvin’s gun and tries to stop him. When the train is derailed due to the plane’s bombs, Marvin ends up pinned by the wreckage and Ashenden has a chance to kill him but chooses not to. Elsa hugs Ashenden as the General approaches Marvin and sits next to him to rest. Marvin grabs the gun that the General put down and shoots him before dying from his injuries and the General laughs and salutes Ashenden before he dies and Ashenden and Elsa continue embracing as the choose to quit the spy business for good.

Secret Agent met with high praise from modern critics, holding a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics all tended to praise the cast and felt like it was one of Hitchcock’s better British era thrillers. John Gielgud (Ashenden) filmed his scenes during the day, as he was performing on stage in “Romeo & Juliet” at night. Hitchcock had convinced Gielgud to play the hero by describing him as a modern day Hamlet but Gielgud ended up hating the character as he felt that Hitchcock made the villain more charming.

This is a little confusing at times but a decent thriller of a movie. The acting was ok, with John Gielgud doing a decent job as Ashenden, but he was definitely eclipsed by Peter Lorre (The General), Madeleine Carroll (Elsa), and Robert Young (Marvin). The story was pretty good but it seemed like they tried to hard in disguising who the spy was so it got a little convoluted in the middle, particularly that scene in the chocolate factory. The suspense and drama were pretty well done, especially at the end with all of the soldiers on the train and Ashenden and the others trying to figure out what to do without being caught as spies. I don’t necessarily agree with it being one of his best early films but this is a good Hitchcock movie and worth watching.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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Hitchcock, movie, movie review, thriller

June 24th, 2017 Movie – Sabotage (1936) (a.k.a. The Woman Alone)

sabotage 1936

Well, well, well. It’s my old friend The Legends Of Horror box set or, as I like to consider it, “The mass collection of movies Hitchcock made before he came to Hollywood”. So once again, I get to watch a Hitchcock movie that I have never seen before, but I have heard of this one. This movie came up during a conversation I had with a co-worker, who is a big fan of classic movies, and when we got on the subject of Hitchcock movies, he recommended I watch this one if I ever got the chance. So I let’s see if the recommendation pans out as I watch today’s movie, Sabotage (1936).

The plot: In 1930’s London, the power suddenly goes out and panic grips the city, When workers at the power plant find sand in one of the boilers, they realize that it was deliberately sabotaged and wonder who did it, as a man is shown walking away from the power plant. At a downtown cinema, the customers are upset and demanding their money back and Mrs. Verloc, who is working in the ticket booth, wishes her husband was there to deal with them. Meanwhile, Karl Verloc, who was the man leaving the power plant, sneaks upstairs into the living quarters of the cinema and after cleaning up, lays down in bed and pretends to be asleep. When his wife comes upstairs, she is surprised to see him there, having thought he was gone, and asks what to do about the customers. Verloc tells her to go ahead and give them their money back, saying he has some money coming in to cover the loss. When Mrs. Verloc returns downstairs, she sees Ted Spencer, a helper at the greengrocer next to the cinema, telling the crowd that due to the power loss being outside the cinema’s control, the cinema did not have to refund their money. Mrs. Verloc argues with Ted about what he is doing and tells the crowd that she will refund their money but as the crowd heads to the ticket booth, the power suddenly comes back on and the crowd heads inside, with Mrs. Verloc thanking Ted for his help before returning to the ticket booth. Later that night, Mrs. Verloc is working on getting dinner ready and sends her younger brother Stevie to the grocer to get some lettuce. Ted comes back with Stevie and warmly greets Mrs. Verloc, then comments to Verloc about seeing him return during the bloackout but Verloc tells Ted he was mistaken and that he never left. After his shift is over, Ted takes a cab to Scotland Yard, where it is revealed that he is an undercover officer investigating Verloc, as they believe he is somehow involved in a plot of attacks against the city. His supervisor wonders if Mrs. Verloc is working with Verloc or merely unaware of his actions and recommends Ted get closer to her to find out. The next day, Ted talks with Verloc for a little bit as he leaves the cinema and then watches as Verloc catches a bus and Ted signals his assistant, Hollingshead, to follow him. Verloc heads to the zoo and meets his contact, who is disappointed that the papers are mocking the power loss and wants Verloc to place some “fireworks” at the Piccadilly London Underground station, though Verloc is uncomfortable doing something that can result in a loss of life. Meanwhile, Mrs. Verloc and Stevie are in town and Ted “runs into” them and invites them to join him for lunch, during which he speaks with Mrs. Verloc but she has no clue that her husband might be up to something. Later, Ted returns to Scotland Yard and yells his superior that he believes Mrs. Verloc is innocent and his superior tells him what Hollingshead discovered. Meanwhile, Verloc heads to a pet store and meets with the owner, who works as a bomb maker for the terrorist group, and is given a time bomb disguised as a bird cage and told to make sure to place at the station at noon on Saturday. As he is getting ready to leave the store, he sees a police officer walking by and worries about them investigating him or raiding the store and the store owner comments that it would be a bad idea if they did. The next day, Ted notices several men going to meet with Verloc and he buys a ticket into the cinema to see if he can learn what they are meeting about. Running into Stevie, Ted is shown a window behind the movie screen that opens into their living room and Ted climbs up and starts listening into the meeting. As the meeting goes on, one of the terrorists notices Ted’s hand propping open the window and he quickly grabs it and drags Ted inside the room. Ted and Stevie quickly apologize for the intrusion and leaves but one of the terrorists recognizes Ted as working for Scotland Yard and after Ted leaves, he informs Verloc and the others. The terrorists decide to cancel the planned attack and scatter and after they all leave, Verloc heads to the ticket booth to speak with his wife. He asks her if Ted had asked questions about him and when she asks why, he says that Ted was spying on the building. Verloc heads to the grocers and asks the owner about Ted and the owner confirms that Ted works for Scotland Yard but he figured that they thought the cinema was showing “funny pictures.” The next day, Verloc tries calling the pet store owner to take back the bomb but learns that he had left for the day. When Ted shows up with Stevie, Mrs. Verloc is cold towards him and he apologizes for doing his job, then tells her what they suspect about Verloc. Verloc has taken the bomb out of the cage and wraps it but when he sees Ted talking to Mrs. Verloc, he asks Stevie to take the package to the station for him, saying it is some film canisters that need to be delivered to Piccadilly Circus before 1:45. Stevie makes his way to Piccadilly Circus but ends up delayed by a salesman, who uses him for a demonstration, and The Lord Mayor’s procession. When  the parade is over, Stevie manages to convince a bus operator to let him onto the bus, even though it is illegal to carry film canisters on a public vehicle as they are flammable. As the bus makes it’s way through the city, Stevie keeps track of the time and when it is 1:45, the bomb goes off, killing everyone in the bus. Ted receives word of the explosion as he is finishing talking with the Verlocs and heads to the crime scene. As he looks around, he notices a film tin and realizes it is the one that Stevie was carrying. As the papers report on the explosion, Mrs. Verloc is worried about Stevie but when she grabs a paper and sees the article about the film tin, she faints in front of the cinema, and when she is revived, she goes to see Verloc. Verloc says he didn’t mean for Stevie to be harmed and says that if anyone is to blame, it is Ted, as he would have delivered the bomb himself if Ted hadn’t of been there questioning him. Mrs. Verloc is silent as Verloc tells her to pull herself together and later that day, as they are eating, she ends up stabbing him with a knife then, in a state of shock over Stevie’s death and her killing Verloc, she sits down motionless in a chair. Ted shows up and offers his condolences for Stevie’s death and says he has to arrest Verloc. When he discovers his body, he asks what happened and Mrs. Verloc tells him that he killed Stevie so she stabbed him. She plans on going to the police to turn herself in and Ted follows after her to try and stop her, saying he will do anything to protect her. Meanwhile, the bomb maker’s wife chastises him for using the bird cage to deliver the bomb to Verloc and she has him go get the cage back so they aren’t incriminated. As he heads to the cinema, he is followed by Hollingshead, who radios in his report and is told to head to the cinema and the chief inspector is on his way to meet them. Mrs. Verloc get’s upset and Ted comforts her and they end up kissing, then heading back to the cinema. As they near the cinema, they see the police arriving and Mrs. Verloc heads towards the Chief Inspector to tell him that she killed her husband but before she can, he is called away to oversee the raid. Meanwhile, the bomb maker makes it inside the residence but sees Verloc’s body and the police closing in. When the police knock on the door, he tells them he has a bomb and they, believing it is Verloc talking, quickly rush to clear the audience out of the theater before he can detonate it. The Chief Inspector returns to talk with Mrs. Verloc and ask if she can talk with her husband but she tells him that he is dead, just as the bomb goes off, obscuring all evidence that Verloc was stabbed. The Chief Inspector tells Ted to help Mrs. Verloc and take her away from there but as they leave, he tries to remember if Mrs. Verloc had said her husband was dead before or after the explosion occurred.

Sabotage (1936) met with unanimous praise from modern critics, holding a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics all seemed to feel like this was one of Hitchcock’s best thrillers before he came to Hollywood. While the hostile powers behind the bombings was never actually named, many people feel like it was Nazi Germany, due to the time that the film was made. While the movie was based on the novel “The Secret Agent” by Joseph Conrad, Hitchcock changed the title for his film, as he already had another movie coming out that same year titled The Secret Agent, though it was based on stories by W. Somerset Maugham.

While I don’t think it was as good as I was led to believe, this is still an incredibly good movie and really showcased Hitchcock’s talent for bringing out the tension in films. The acting was pretty good, with Sylvia Sidney (Mrs. Verloc), Oskar Holmaka (Verloc), and John Loder (Ted) doing great jobs in their roles. The story was pretty good, with my only real problem being that they didn’t really seem to explain the purpose behind the bombs. Yes, I know it was supposed to scare the British people but I meant the meaning besides the obvious one; the actual plan of which the bombs were only one step. Of course, they could have actually explained it and I just missed it but I honestly don’t recall them doing so. Hitchcock did a great job of using the tension in this movie to set the tone, especially in the final scenes of the movie. The scene with Stevie getting on the bus, and it driving by the various clocks as the time got closer to 1:45 was incredibly suspenseful, as you know what is going to happen but you keep hoping that something happens that keeps Stevie from being killed on that bus. The same kind of holds true when Mrs. Verloc kills her husband, as you feel like she is going to just snap but when she finally does, there isn’t a frantic reaction or anything as she actually seems pretty calm, though sudden, when she actually stabs Verloc. Definitely a movie worth watching, regardless on if you are a Hitchcock fan or not.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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drama, Hitchcock, movie, movie review, romance, silent movie, sports

May 22nd, 2017 Movie – The Ring (1927)

the ring 1927

Two old school Hitchcock movies in a row. This is a great start to the week. So this is another of his early silent movies that had never heard of before. So this is going to be a little interesting for me because while I enjoy watching sports, I don’t necessarily like watching sports movies. Obviously there are some exceptions to that but in general, sports movies just don’t really hold my interest. So let’s see how this one does as I watch today’s movie, The Ring (1927).

The plot: A man and his friend are walking along the grounds of a fair when they approach a tent where the barker is challenging members of the crowd to compete in a boxing match with the athletes. As the barker is promoting the talents of “One Round” Jack Sanders, the man becomes infatuated with the ticket girl, Mabel, and begins flirting with her. When Jack notices this, he challenges the man to be one of the fighters and the man agrees. Inside the tent, Jack easily defeats his first two opponents and then proceeds to fight the man, but the man is more of a challenge than Jack expected. When the fight last longer than one round, Mabel, who was watching the fight through a flap in the tent, informs the barker and he begins selling more tickets for people to watch it. The man eventually beats Jack and he leaves with his friend but as he starts flirting with Mabel again, she is upset because Jack and her were going to get married but Jack might have lost his job after he lost. The man’s friend hands her a card, revealing his name to be James Ware and that the man is the World Heavyweight Champion boxer Bob Corby, whom he manages. James and Bob approach Jack later that night as Mabel tends to his wounds and James offers Jack a job in becoming Bob’s sparring partner providing he win a trial fight. As they are talking, Bob continues flirting with Mabel and she leads him outside the tent, as some people were staring at them. Outside, they walk behind a trailer and Bob gives her a bracelet that he bought from the prize money as a gift. Mabel give his a quick peck as thanks but Bob kisses her again and she allows it but then reluctantly breaks it off when she notices Jack and James looking for them. As they are saying their goodbyes, Mabel does her best to keep the bracelet covered up, though Bob sees this and sneakily tries to get her to reveal it to Jack. After they leave, Mabel goes to the fortune teller’s tent and asks to have her fortune read but Jack shows up and believes the fortune is about him. The next day, Jack is washing his face in the pond behind his trailer and Mabel goes to talk to him when the bracelet falls off her arm and into the pond. When Jack retrieves it, he questions her about it and she admits that Bob bought it for her because he didn’t want to take their money. Later that day, Mabel receives a telegram from Jack stating that he won his fight and he would meet her at the church the next day so they can get married. Jack and Mabel get married, though Mabel appears a little reluctant to do so and at the reception, Bob, who had attended the wedding, jokes about wishing Mabel was the prize in their fight. Jack says he will fight any man to defend his wife’s honor and an exhibition match is arranged, which Bob ends up winning. Jack notices Mabel flirting and gets upset but his trainer has him take out his frustrations on the punching bag. Later, Jack tells James he wants to challenge Bob for the championship but James says that he is too far down on the list of contenders and will need to work his way up. Jack begins winning his fights and at a party at James’ house, James informs Jack that if he wins his next fight, he will be the #1 contender for Bob’s title. Jack worries about leaving Mabel alone while he goes to the fight, as he fears she is having an affair with Bob, but James says that he was doing this for her and to trust that she will be there for him. Jack wins his fight and afterwards, sees the barker and some of his friends from the fair were there to watch the fight. As the talk about the upcoming fight with Bob, Jack invites them back to his house to celebrate his win and surprise Mabel. When they get there, they find that Mabel is out and Jack pours some champagne, saying she should be back soon and they will drink when she gets there. As it gets late and Mabel still doesn’t show, their friends say their goodbyes and leave while Jack waits up for Mabel to return. Looking out the window, Jack sees Mabel getting out of Bob’s car and when she enters the apartment, they end up getting into an argument over her affections towards Bob. Jack then heads to the club to confront Bob over his spending so much time with Mabel and when Bob tries to punch him, Jack blocks it and knocks Bob down, then tells James that Bob can try and get revenge in the ring. When Jack returns home, he finds that Mabel is gone, having left a note saying she is staying with people that know how to treat her. On the night of the big fight, Jack’s trainer and the barker notice Mabel heading into Bob’s dressing room and they decide not to tell Jack that she is there. As the fight is about to start, Jack keeps looking out into the crowd to see if he can catch sight of Mabel but he doesn’t see her. As the fight commences, Jack notices Mabel sitting in the front row in Bob’s corner and it distracts him to where Bob is able to get the upper hand. As the fight continues, Mabel begins to get worried about Jack and starts making her way over tho his side of the ring. During the rest period before the final round, Mabel manages to reach Jack’s corner and tells him she is there in his corner and when he sees her there, he gets a second wind and manages to knock out Bob, winning the championship. As Jack celebrates his win, Mabel apologizes to him and he accepts and as they hug, she sees Bob watching them in the corner and takes off the bracelet he gave her and leaves it on the ground, which Bob’s trainer returns to him after the fight.

The Ring (1927) received high praise from the critics, holding a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics all seem to feel like this was one of Hitchcock’s best silent films, praising all of the visual nuances and symbols used to tell a compelling story. Out of all of the movies that Hitchcock made over the years, this is the only original screenplay that Hitchcock wrote himself, having collaborated with other writers for all of his other films. The movie was a success during it’s initial release but when it received a more general release, it was considered a failure.

I have to admit, this was a pretty good movie. The acting was good, with Carl Brisson (Jack), Lillian Hall-Davis (Mabel), and Ian Hunter (Bob) doing good jobs in their roles, though I also liked Gordon Harker, who made for some funny comedic breaks as Jack’s trainer. The story was very good, with the main three actors showing a lot of emotions to help showcase the drama of the situation. To be honest, some aspects of the story and fight, primarily the whole underdog aspect, kind of feel a little similar to Rocky and makes me wonder of this might have influenced Stallone a little when he wrote that movie. The fights and camera angles during them did look a little off at times and didn’t seem as clear as the rest of the movie but that could have been intentional. Regardless, this is a great movie in it’s own right and definitely worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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comedy, Hitchcock, movie, movie review, romance, thriller

May 21st, 2017 Movie – Rich And Strange

rich and strange

Ahh, I do love starting the day with a Hitchcock movie. Once more I find myself watching an early Hitchcock movie from the Legends Of Horror box set and am reminded of just how much I have been enjoying this collection. The only bad thing about all of this, if you can call it that, is that it has really made me want to buy several of his more well known movies. Well, maybe I can work on that at another time but for now, I’m going to focus on today’s movie, Rich And Strange.

The plot: After a rough day where nothing seems to go right for him, Fred Hill returns home to his wife Emily. As the two start to argue over finances, they receive a telegram from Fred’s uncle, who has decided to give them an advance of their inheritance so that they may, in Fred’s words, enjoy life a little more. Fred quits his job and the two decide to go on a cruise but as they are crossing the English Channel to Paris, Fred ends up getting sea sick. While in Paris, they decide to attend a show at the Folies Bergère but Emily wants to leave when somebody pinches her on the butt so the end up at a bar, where they proceed to get drunk and when they finally make it back to their hotel, they end up falling asleep on the floor with their heads on the beds. The next day, they board the ship to head to the Orient but Fred once again feels sea sick and heads down to their cabin, leaving Emily alone on the deck. While on the deck, she ends up meeting Commander Gordon and starts a friendship with him but as they spend more time together, they end up getting closer and Gordon kisses Emily on the deck before she heads back to her cabin. When Fred starts feeling better and is able to move about the ship, he goes for a walk on the deck and meets a German princess, who apologizes to him when she accidentally hits him in the eye with a rope ring from one of the deck games. As the voyage continues, Fred and Emily end up spending more time with their new partners and less time with each other. As the boat makes a stop in Columbo, they all head ashore, and Fred and Emily both tell their new lovers that they intend to dissolve their marriage and start new lives with the princess and Gordon respectively. When the boat arrives in Singapore, Emily leaves with Gordon and heads to his house. Along the way, Gordon tells Emily that the princess is really a con artist who is merely after Fred’s money and Emily, feeling bad about the way things became with her husband, leaves Gordon and heads off to warn Fred. Emily heads to Fred’s hotel and tries to warn him about the princess but Fred doesn’t believe her. As the two start to argue over everything that has happened between them during the trip, Fred leaves Emily crying in his room while he goes to locate the princess. As she is sitting there, a telegram from Gordon is delivered to her, stating that he understands her reasoning to stay with her husband. Fred returns, saying that the princess had run off onto a train for Rangoon and he finds a note stating that she was a simple street walker whose father owned a laundry in Berlin. Realizing that the fake princess took most of Fred’s money, they use what little they have left to pay the hotel bill and then book passage on a tramp steamer in order to return home. During the journey, the ship strikes something in the middle of the night and as everyone aboard begins to abandon ship, Fred and Emily find themselves trapped in their cabin as they see the water rushing up over the porthole. As they await their watery end, Fred and Emily apologize for how they have acted. In the morning, Fred and Emily discover that they are still alive and Emily opens the porthole so that they can climb up onto the deck and see where they are. They head into a nearby cabin to find some clothes, unaware that water has now started seeping into their cabin through the open porthole. When a Chinese junk appears and the crew begin looting the steamer, Fred and Emily manage to board the junk and the crew feeds them and tends to leave them alone. Fred and Emily eventually manages to make it back to London but as they get reacquainted to being home, they start arguing in the same fashion that they were before the telegram had arrived some months earlier.

Rich And Strange met with mostly positive results from the critics, holding a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most people felt that while it wasn’t one of his better films, it did provide a mature exploration of wandering affections and romantic betrayal. The movie was not a commercial success and most of this is attributed to the lack of dialogue, as the dialogue only occurs for about a quarter of the movie, and that there were several hold overs from the silent film style, such as scene captions and exaggerated acting styles.

Not exactly what I would prefer in a Hitchcock movie but it wasn’t that bad. The acting was decent, with Henry Kendall (Fred) and Joan Barry (Emily) doing good jobs in their roles for the most part. The story was interesting, pointing out something that can happen to every married couple if they stop paying attention to each other and work on strengthening their relationship, but the the mix between periods of dialogue and non speaking scenes and events made it a little difficult to fully grasp what all was going on. There wasn’t really any special effects as the movie used dialogue and situations to help carry the plot. An interesting take on relationships as only Hitchcock could tell.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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crime, Hitchcock, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

April 22nd, 2017 Movie – Number Seventeen

number seventeen

Ahh, another movie from the Legends of Horror box set and wouldn’t you know it, it is a Hitchcock movie. Today’s movie is yet another movie that I have never seen before, making it one more win for this box set. So the question is, what kind of an early movie do I have; horror, mystery, or one of his rare romance movies. Which ever type I get, I hope I am entertained by today’s movie, Number Seventeen.

The plot: When a gust of wind blows a man’s hat into the front yard of a house for sale, the man retrieves it, then notices a light moving about inside the house. Opening the door, the man, Detective Barton, heads inside and begins looking around the ground floor before heading upstairs, where the light is coming from. Searching around, Barton comes face to face with a man holding a candle on the attic landing but when a sudden burst of lighting illuminates the landing, they see a body lying on the floor and the man holding the candle panics and ends up falling down the stairs. Barton goes down to check on the man and escorts him back upstairs to the body, asking if he had anything to do with the dead body. The man claims innocence of the murder and Barton asks him to empty his pockets. As Ben begins revealing the contents of his pockets, the shadow of a hand is seen reaching for a door knob and a sudden noise is heard. Barton hands the man the candle while he goes to investigate the sound and the man searches the body’s pockets and finds a pair of handcuffs and a gun. The man keeps the gun but leaves the handcuffs next to the body, which Barton notices as he comes back up the stairs. The men hear some noises above them and see the shadow of someone climbing along the roof, just before the person crashes through a weak portion of the roof into the building. The man manages the catch the person, who is revealed to be a woman, and Barton gives her some brandy to revive her. The woman starts screaming about her father and when she asks who they are, Barton introduces himself as Forsythe while the man says his name is Ben. The woman, Rose Ackroyd, tells them that she lives next door and when a telegram arrived for her father, she went to give it to him but found his door locked. She had attempted to climb up the roof and of the house to get into the skylight of her own house but had fallen through. “Forsythe” asks about the telegram, which informs Mr. Ackroyd that someone named Sheldrake has the necklace and is planning to make his getaway that night. Ackroyd is instructed to keep watch on #17, and the telegram is signed by Barton. “Forsythe” asks Rose if she knows Barton but she doesn’t. Realizing that something will be happening soon, “Forsythe” tries to get Rose to leave but she refuses. When the bell’s chime half past midnight, the door bell starts ringing and “Forsythe” goes to see who is there. While he is gone, Ben remembers the gun and decides to put it back in the corpse’s pocket but realizes that the corpse has disappeared. Downstairs, “Forsythe” opens the door to reveal a man and a woman, who claim they are there to look at the house. After they come in, “Forsythe” goes to shut the door when a second man appears, asking his “uncle” if he can come in as well. The men want to take a look upstairs but they refuse to look at any of the rooms, wanting to continue towards the attic but “Forsythe” tries to stall them. Ben calls down that it is ok and they head upstairs as Ben tries to head down. One of the men tells Ben to stop but Ben, fed up after being stuck in the house for over an hour, pulls out the gun. As “Forsythe” questions Ben about the gun, one of the men pulls out a gun of his own while the other one struggles with Ben over his gun. The gun goes off and “Forsythe” ends up being shot in the wrist as he tried to shield the woman. The men manage to get the gun away from Ben and have everyone enter one of the rooms. The woman helps “Forsythe” bandage his wound and one of the men tells him that she is unable to speak or hear. The men search “Forsythe”, Ben, and Rose’s pockets and find the telegram to Mr. Ackroyd. As the woman keeps watch on everyone, the two men step out of the room and begin to discuss what to do. Ben causes a commotion and tries to leave but the men grab him and lock him in a bathroom. As Ben stares at the door, a pair of hands reach out and strangle him but as the man, Sheldrake, goes to retrieve the necklace from the toilet where he hid it, Ben is revealed to have faked being unconscious and pickpockets the necklace while Sheldrake is staring out the keyhole. The two men and the woman have “Forsythe” and Rose out on the landing when the corpse starts walking up the stairs, revealed to be one of the gang of thieves. After confirming each other’s identities by the use of a card, the men proceed to tie up “Forsythe” and Rose, but Rose winks at the “corpse” as he ties her up. The corpse leads the two men and woman into a room to wait for Sheldrake, when he locks them in and frees “Forsythe” and Rose, revealing himself to be Rose’s father. As he works on freeing them, he asks about Ben and is told that he is locked in the bathroom. Mr. Ackroyd goes to free Ben to help him but ends up getting in a fight with Sheldrake. Ben tries to help but accidentally knocks out Mr. Ackroyd, then Sheldrake locks both Ben and Ackroyd in the bathroom. As Sheldrake frees the other thieves, they retie “Forsythe” and Rose, then Sheldrake leads them down to the cellar, but the woman drops her purse and whispers to “Forsythe” and Rose that she is coming back, revealing that she can talk. “Forsythe” and Rose struggle to free themselves but their efforts loosen the banister and the end up falling, and hanging from the stairs. The girl, Nora, returns and frees them but has to return to the crooks or they will start to suspect her. “Forsythe” and Rose go to free Ben, who accidentally strikes Rose, then Rose goes to tend to her father while “Forsythe” and Ben go after the crooks. In the cellar, Nora reveals she can speak by refusing to leave with the crooks but they take her with them, as she knows too much. Leaving through a secret staircase, they make their way to the nearby train tracks, where a train with an empty car is about to leave. “Forsythe” and Ben race after them and try to board the train but while Ben makes it on board, Sheldrake kicks “Forsythe” off of the car. Sheldrake and one of the crooks head towards the engine, where they knock out the engineer in order to take over the train. Meanwhile, “Forsythe” commandeers a bus in order to give chase to the train. Back on the train, the crooks want Sheldrake to show them the necklace and Sheldrake but he realizes that he no longer has it. Accusing one of the crooks of being a cop, Sheldrake and the other crook move to attack him but the man manages to avoid them, then heads to the car where Nora and Ben are being held. As the man starts to search Nora, Ben reveals that he has the necklace, just as Sheldrake and the other crook show up and they begin fighting over the necklace. The fake police officer pretends to grab the necklace and make a run for it but as Sheldrake and the other crook chase after him, the fake cop doubles back and returns to the car with Ben and Nora. Meanwhile, Sheldrake and the other crook continue searching for the fake cop and end up shooting the engineer, causing the train to speed out of control. The train ends up plowing through the docks and crashing into a ferry, causing the train and ferry to start sinking. “Forsythe” arrives and, noticing Nora is handcuffed, dives into the water and rescues her. As everyone is drying off, “Forsythe” is with Nora and the fake police officer says that he is Barton, but “Forsythe” reveals that he knows Barton is actually Henry Doyle and that he is actually Barton. Doyle is escorted outside to some waiting police officers Ben is shocked that Barton was a cop the entire time. Barton approaches Nora and asks her what she plans on doing and when Nora asks what he plans on doing, Barton suggests she come get breakfast with him, causing them both to laugh, while Ben reveals that he managed to swipe the necklace again.

Number Seventeen met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics were mixed on their feelings regarding the plot, but felt this was a good early work of Hitchcock’s. When Hitchcock returned from a vacation in the Caribbean, he wanted to do a movie based on John Van Druten’s play London Wall, but the studio wanted him to do a film version of Joseph Farjeon’s play Number Seventeen instead. In a twist of fate, the director who wound up working on London Wall had actually wanted to do Number Seventeen instead.

This was an interesting movie but it could have been a lot better. The acting was ok, with Leon M. Lion really stealing the show as Ben, making for some great comedic moments, while John Stuart (Barton), Anne Grey (Nora), and Ann Casson (Rose) doing good jobs in their roles as well. The story was pretty good, but it felt like they spent too long on the build up of the events, so that the conclusion felt rushed. I think if the movie was a little bit longer, they could have paced it out better and it would have been more effective. There wasn’t much in the way of special effects aside from the train crashing into the ferry, but that honestly looked a little weak. The bigger problem for me was that the didn’t really do a good job of explaining who everyone was, which lead to a lot of confusion as to who everyone was and who was a good guy or a bad guy. Not one of his better works but it was still an entertaining movie.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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drama, Hitchcock, movie, movie review, romance

April 6th, 2017 Movie – The Manxman

the manxman

You know, it seems like every other movie in the Legends Of Horror box set is an early Hitchcock movie. Considering his film career, you could probably easily make a 50 movie box set of his movies alone. Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying watching all of these old movies but I wish there was a little more variety in the set. But enough complaining, let’s get on with today’s movie, The Manxman.

The plot: In a small island fishing village, Pete Quilliam is a poor fisherman while his childhood friend Philip Christian is a up and coming lawyer. Whenever the fishermen come across legal troubles, Philip is always willing to help due to his friendship with Pete. The two head to the local tavern, where they are both interested in Kate Creegan, the owner’s daughter. Pete wants to ask Kate’s father, Old Caesar, for her hand in marriage and asks Philip to speak on his behalf. Philip speaks with Caesar about allowing Kate to marry Pete but Caesar refuses, telling Pete to leave because he is a penniless lout. Pete is angered over Caesar’s dismissal and vows to make him eat those words. Pete decides to travel to Africa and make his money abroad and rushes to tell Kate, with Philip reluctantly coming with him. Calling out to Kate until she answers, Pete stands on Philip’s shoulders so he can talk to Kate and tells her he is leaving for Africa and asks if she will wait for him. She agrees to wait for him and gives him a kiss before closing the blinds on him. As she peeks down on the two, she sees Pete telling Philip that she would wait for him and asking Philip to look after her but Kate suddenly seems nervous and goes to call out to them but the two men have already left. While Pete is gone, Philip begins calling on Kate almost every day and the two end up being attracted to one another. Philip’s mother says that his father ruined his career by marrying beneath him and she doesn’t want to see his chances of becoming Deemster, the island’s chief magistrate, and says he should break off his affair with Kate. Philip heads to the bar intending to do just that but he finds it full of the local fishermen and wonders what is going on. Caesar hands him a telegram, saying that Pete is dead, and Caesar says he might have been wrong about Pete and Kate as she hasn’t said a word to anyone. Philip goes to see Kate who tells him that they are now free and shouldn’t feel guilty about what they are doing. Meanwhile, Pete was still alive in Africa and had made his fortune. He writes a letter to Philip telling him he will be coming back and not to tell Kate, but Philip and Kate have begun to have a physical affair at an old mill. When Philip receives Pete’s telegram, he asks Kate to meet him and tells her the news. Kate says that she is glad Pete is alive but she doesn’t love him but Philip says she was promised to him and they have to end things as they watch the ship carrying Pete head towards port. Heading back to the tavern, Kate has Philip go inside first, as she is unable to face Pete just yet. Philip does and Pete embraces his friend before asking about Kate. Kate shows up and Pete embraces her before the two are led away by Caesar, who is happy to have Kate marry Pete now. The two are wed at the old mill where Philip and Kate had been having their affair and during the reception, Caesar gives a warning to them about dishonoring their vows, saying God will punish them. Kate goes through with the wedding but she can’t stand to be with Pete, as she is in love with Philip. Several weeks go by and Philip, who had gone on holiday after the wedding, is set to be appointed Deemster. Kate sends a note to Philip saying she must speak with him before the fishing fleet comes back. When Philip comes over, Kate begs him to take her away and when he asks why, she tells him she is pregnant with his child. Philip asks why she didn’t say anything sooner and she tells him he thought more of his career than her feelings. Kate insist that he take her away but Philip refuses, worrying about the shame they would face if what they did was known. Pete returns home and Kate starts to tell him the truth but seeing Philip walk away, she merely tells him that she is pregnant. Pete is excited and calls Philip back to tell him the news but as Pete turns his back, both Kate and Philip have sorrowful expressions on their faces. Time passes and Kate gives birth to a daughter, while Philip is made Deemster. After giving thanks to the crowd when he makes Deemster, Kate goes to see Philip and tells him that she left Pete and wants to be with him. Meanwhile, Pete returns home to find Kate missing and had left a note saying that she had loved another man and still loved him, leaving Pete with the baby. Pete is heartbroken but tells everyone that Kate had a rough time and was on vacation while he cares for the baby. Philip feels guilty when Pete tells him the news while Caesar finds the note Kate wrote but chooses not to say anything when Pete sees him with it. Meanwhile, Kate had been hiding in Philip’s office and wants Philip to run off with her but he refuses to ruin his career by doing so. Distraught, Kate returns to he home and Pete is excited to see her and have her back but she tells him she isn’t staying. Kate tells Pete that she is there for the baby and Pete refuses to let her have it. Kate then says that the baby isn’t his but he refuses to believe her and still won’t let her take the baby, grabbing the baby and locking themselves in the bedroom. Feeling completely hopeless, Kate leaves the house and decides to try and commit suicide by throwing herself off the harbor into the water below. Kate is rescued by a police officer and, charged with attempted suicide, brought before Philip’s court. Philip is shocked to see Kate there when suddenly, Pete, Caesar, and several of the fishermen enter the courtroom. Pete asks Philip to let him speak on her behalf and Philip agrees and after listening to Pete beg to have her released back to his care, Philip agrees to it but Kate refuses to go. Caesar, who figured out that Philip was the other man, accuses Philip and Philip admits to it, removing his powdered wig and vacating his position. Philip and Kate go to the house to pick up the baby and Pete kisses her goodbye and as Philip and Kate leave the island, facing the jeers of all the villagers who were watching from the windows, Pete sits at the table and cries as he has now lost everything, before returning to the sea with a haunted look in his eye.

The Manxman met with high praise from recent critics, holding a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics seem to feel that, several critics seemed to like the story but admit this isn’t one of Hitchcock’s masterpieces. Hitchcock’s last silent movie, he began filming this movie two weeks after his daughter Patricia was born. Two key lines in the movie, where Kate tells Philip, and later Pete, that she is haing a baby, did not have intertitles to go with them and instead, the audience was left to read her lips to know what was being said.

To be honest, I am feeling a little indifferent towards this movie, but it is not a bad movie. The acting was pretty good, with Carl Brisson (Pete), Malcolm Keen (Philip), and Anny Ondra (Kate) doing great jobs in their roles, putting a lot of expression and emotion into their performances. The story was ok, though pretty predictable for the most part. I know it was based on a novel by the same name, but I wished Hitchcock could have added a little more suspense to it. The camera work was pretty good, showing plenty of close ups to help emphasize the emotions from the main actors. Definitely not something you would expect from Hitchcock but worth giving a shot if you want to see some of his early works.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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crime, Hitchcock, movie, movie review, mystery, thriller

April 4th, 2017 Movie – The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

the man who knew too much (1934)

Now this is a treat for me. See, I have seen this movie before..or rather, the remake of it. Granted, it has been several years since I watched it so I don’t remember all the minute details of what happened in it. However, both of them were directed by Hitchcock, so there shouldn’t be too much difference in the style of each movie. So let’s see if I like the original version as I watch today’s movie, The Man Who Knew Too Much.

The plot: In Switzerland, Bob and Betty Lawrence are watching a skiing competition when Betty notices a dog had run on the course and runs out to grab it, causing the skier making his run to crash. As the crowd checks to make sure everyone is ok, the skier, a Frenchman named Louis Bernard who has befriended the Lawrences, says that it is his last night in the country and invites them to dinner. Bob and Betty accept and then head out to watch the finals of a clay pigeon shooting contest, which Bob’s wife Jill is competing in. When they get there, Jill is about to shoot when Betty runs up to tell her about dinner. Jill tells Betty to be quiet and hands her a broach that she had been bought for her, then prepares for her shot. As Jill takes aim, she is distracted when a man watch starts chiming and misses her shot. Jokingly blaming Betty for the miss, Jill watches as her opponent makes his shot and wins the competition. When Louis shows up, Jill jokingly makes a show of leaving with him as Bob, going along with the joke, pretends to break down in tears and blame the winner for his wife leaving him. At dinner, Jill is dancing with Louis, while Bob plays a prank on them, when someone shoots through the window and hits Louis. As he starts to collapse, he hands Jill a key and tells her there is a note hidden in his brush that she must take to the British consul. Jill tells Bob, who has Betty go up to their room while he heads to Bob’s room, unaware that he is being followed. When Bob gets there he starts searching for the note and finds it just before the police and hotel manager enter the room. Bob sneaks out the back entrance and encounters a man, who asks for the note, but they are interrupted by the police and Bob demands they call the British consul. Bob is taken to the manager’s office, where he sees Jill being questioned by the police and he is unable to speak with her. When a porter brings him an urgent message, Bob reads it and then forces his way into the room with his wife, making up some excuse as to why he had to speak with her as he slips her the note. Jill reads the note, which tells them to say nothing or the will never see Betty again, and ends up fainting, and Bob grabs the note and throws it in the fire before anyone else can see it. The two return home, and end up being questioned by some officials but after the bulk of the officials leave, a man from the Foreign Office stays behind. He tells the Lawrences that Louis was one of his men and had uncovered a plot to assassinate a visiting head of state and the details were in the note that Louis had hidden. The Lawrences consider telling the man when the receive a phone call from the kidnappers, who know the man from the Foreign Office is there and warn them not to say anything. Betty is put on the line and Jill speaks with her and tries to get her to say where she is being held but the call is disconnected. Refusing to say anything to the Foreign Office, Bob goes with his brother in law Clive to follow up on their only lead, a dentist’s office. Inside, has Clive fake a toothache so that he can search the outer office while the dentist tends to him, then has the dentist check his teeth. While in the chair, Bob hears a man with a ticking watch enter and walk to a side room. The dentist attempts to put Bob to sleep but Bob turns the tables on him, then quickly dons the dentist’s coat and pretends to be working on his mouth as the winner if the shooting competition enters and speaks with the man with the watch. When they leave, Bob and Clive follow after them and come to a temple for sun worshipers, and Bob recognizes the logo from Louis’ note. Heading inside, Bob notices a woman staring at them and tries to warn Clive but it is too late. The woman calls Bob up to the stage and hypnotizes him, then has the congregation leave except for a select few. Bob is forced to lock the doors, then Abbott, the man with the watch, tells him of his plan. Bob recognizes the shooter from the competition and struggles with him, catching site of a ticket for a concert hall. Bob manages to rouse Clive and tells him to call Jill and have her stop the assassination, then holds off the kidnappers long enough for him to escape. Abbott takes Bob to a house that is connected to the temple, and Bob is reunited briefly with Betty before she is taken away. Clive manages to call Jill and tell her Bob’s message but when he tries to get the police for help, Abbott has gotten to them first and convinced them that Clive was insane and he ends up being taken away. At the concert hall, Jill shows up and looks around for the possible assassin and when she sees the rifle, she screams out, causing the shooter to only graze the target. As the shooter heads back to the hideout, Jill points him out to the police and the follow after him. When the police attempt to enter the hideout, the kidnappers begin firing at the police, killing some of them and forcing the others back. The police get some rifles and a shootout occurs between the police and the kidnappers. During the confusion, Bob manages to get out of his room and sneak into Jill’s room, then attempts to help her escape but they are spotted by the assassin, who was sent to get Jill to use as a shield. The assassin wounds Bob and chases Jill up to the roof of the building, where she is spotted by the police and the stop firing. When they see the assassin chasing her, a rifleman is order to shoot him but he can’t take the shot so Jill grabs his rifle and kills the Assassin herself. The police storm the building and find most of the kidnappers dead but there is no sign of Abbott. Suddenly, the hear an alarm going off and the police fire at a door, then pull it aside to reveal Abbott, who had been hiding behind it and is now dead. Bob’s wound is tended to and Jill and Bob are reunited with Betty, who is still frightened over what happened.

The Man Who Knew Too Much met with mostly praise from the critics, holding an 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics had a lot of praise for the film in how it showed glimpses of the greatness Hitchcock would soon be known for. The shootout at the end of the movie was based on a real life event known as the Sidney Street Siege, which happened in the neighborhood that Hitchcock grew up in. Peter Lorre had just left Germany and had a limited grasp of the English language before he was cast by Hitchcock for this movie and wound up learning most of his parts phonetically.

Yes, there are some differences from the remake (obviously), but this is still a good movie. The acting was pretty good, with Leslie Banks (Bob) doing a great job of mixing some humor and seriousness into his role. Edna Best (Jill) and Peter Lorre (Abbott) were also good in their roles, and some of the minor characters did a good job with their parts. The story was pretty good, with a decent amount of suspense to keep you interested but the ending honestly felt a little rushed. I think if the movie was a little bit longer, then they could have fleshed out the ending and not condense it to the last 10 minutes or so. A good movie and definitely something that any Hitchcock should want to watch.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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