The Two Mrs. Carrolls Review

It’s time to look at a film about deception and betrayal. From the start all of the characters are fairly complicit in what is going on so you have to take a double look to see who you’re supposed to be rooting for. By the end it’s pretty obvious who the worst party is though. This movie has the honor of being one of the only films I’ve seen to have a kid character who is actually very likable. Trust me when I say that this is a very rare thing indeed. This is a pretty fun film and works well as an old school thriller.

The film starts off with Geoffrey deciding to have an affair despite being married. He meets up with Sally and this goes on for a while but eventually she finds out that he is married and breaks things off. Shortly afterwards Geoffrey returns and says that his wife died of completely natural causes so Sally whole heartedly believes him and they get married right away. The old wife was apparently very sickly and so this was natural but Sally begins to learn things that hint otherwise. One day her old flame Penny shows up with some guests including a rich lady named Cecily. Sally suspects that Cecily and Geoffrey are having an affair and starts to feel very sick every day. Is she about to meet the same fate as the original wife?

So one iffy thing about Sally here is the fact that she believed Geoffrey. Isn’t it awful convenient that the original wife should pass away so suddenly after Sally turned down his advances? She really should have written him off entirely because of the fact that he tried to deceive her the first time. You can’t have a proper romance built on deception so if she had done this then none of this trouble would have started in the first place. It would have been the cleanest way to end things right out of the gate but of course things don’t normally end quite so cleanly.

By the end Sally makes almost every mistake in the book. I think her worst scene is in the climax where she actually grabs the gun and has the drop on Geoffrey but ends up not having the nerve to shoot. Look, if you’re worried about murdering the person (which you shouldn’t be in this scenario) then just shoot the leg or in the chest. Odds are that one shot won’t be fatal and now you also get to live to see another day which is a pretty good bonus if you ask me. More characters need to try and consider this sort of thing. It would definitely go a long way.

As for Geoffrey himself, it’s always odd to have an antagonist as the lead. It can be an interesting concept as you see the villain’s descent into darkness or a time when they were the lesser of two evils. Madoka Rebellion and the Star Wars prequel trilogy are famous examples of that although for the latter “infamous” may be a better word. It doesn’t work for Geoffrey because there is no way you can sympathize or even understand where he is coming from here. He has no good reason to bump off the characters. The guy is just crazy and all the bravado in the world can’t save his character. If anything it makes him all the more fake because you never buy the act for a second. He was going to cheat on his second wife right from the start.

Cecily is the next lady in line and she is pretty bad. She knows that Geoffrey is married and wants to steal him away regardless. She makes her advances quite public and really doesn’t care what anyone thinks. Sally continues to invite her for events as well which emboldens her even more. Definitely not a quality character. You’ve also got Penny who liked Sally a lot back in the day. He’s not very subtle about the fact that he still loves her which makes him a bit annoying. If you fall for someone who is married then it’s really your obligation to ignore those feelings and bury them as far as you can. Being obvious about it is just being annoying and adding pressure to everyone around. He helps out a bit at the end but really does take a long time to do anything.

Tuttle is the main doctor who looks after Sally but unfortunately he is not very good at his job. He’s quite insecure and always loves talking about the burglar who has been running around. That subplot is unfortunately a red herring. I thought it would have been awesome if the robber had shown up to try and get Geoffrey near the end but the film didn’t go that route. Either way Tuttle will give you some pretty fun scenes here and there. The guy is a hopeless drunk which doesn’t help with all of his other issues but at least the guy always talks tough.

Finally we’ve got Beatrice who is Geoffrey’s kid. She’s pretty rational and doesn’t even talk like a kid. She likes using really big words throughout the film. At times you suspect that she knows more than she’s letting on but the film doesn’t go in that direction so it’s left to your own interpretation. She means well and Beatrice was definitely the best kid I’ve seen in a while. It’s probably not a very realistic portrayal of a kid, but it was still pretty cool all the same.

The film’s final scene is definitely pretty awesome though. Part of how the film’s murders worked was that Geoffrey would use the milk to poison everyone so in the end he offers the cops a cup when they come to arrest him. The whole scene is pretty tense for a second as you think the film will end with them thinking about it, but instead they give him a hard no. It was a solid attempt but I’m definitely glad that the cops didn’t make that kind of mistake. It would have been a pretty tragic ending for everyone if that had happened.

Overall, This is a pretty solid thriller film. It’s one of those rare movies that is able to succeed despite pretty much everyone being unlikable. Geoffrey is easily the worst character here as everything is really on his head. Sally didn’t help matters by not shooting and by pursuing a relationship with Geoffrey though. At least she was smarter than Horace who thought that blackmailing a serial killer was a good idea. What did he really think was going to happen? Blackmailing a normal person is already risky but someone who doesn’t mind crossing the line? Now that’s a bad plan if I’ve ever heard one!

Overall 7/10

Deadline – U.S.A. Review

It’s time for an old school mafia/gangster film. I haven’t seen too many of these yet so it’s nice to add another one to the list. It’s handled pretty well and makes for an interesting movie from start to finish. I think the main character could have been a little better to make it easier to root for him, but I suppose it was trying to show that he was just an ordinary joe who wanted to stick up for the paper. Bogart plays the role extremely well as always and it’s a film that has certainly aged well.

Hutcheson is a proud newspaper man. He’s never gone for sensational clickbait over the actual news. He goes for the facts and just that. Unfortunately this means that his paper is losing sales and a competitor wants to buy him out to crush it for good. There’s not much Hutcheson can do about it since the board of directors are okay with the sale. He has enough time for one last scoop though and decides to attack the vicious gangster Rienzi after one of his reporters is attacked for following the story. Nobody gets to take down one of his staff, not while Hutcheson is still on the case.

With all of the fake stories being spread around and alternative facts used instead of actual ones, this film is a good reminder that you have to be careful what you believe. All of the papers in this film were either paid off by Rienzi or were too scared to attack him. This meant that Hutcheson and his crew had to dig up all of the dirt on their own. Luckily, these guys are some of the best in the biz and were ready for such a challenge. Hutcheson is also a pretty confident and bold person himself so the villain’s threats never get to him. He defies the villains right up til the end and even if he is taken out of the picture, the facts have now been released for everyone.

The film has a very sudden ending, but one that works well. You can reasonably draw your own conclusions from it and they are positive ones. While we may not have gotten an epilogue, you can see how things will go from here. It may have all come together a little too well in some cases though. For example, Hutcheson’s one flaw is that he’s typically drunk and a little crazy. He forgot that he was divorced to his wife for a while because he had one too many beers and once he remembered, he wanted to call it off. It was a little late for that as she already found the rebound guy. It turns out that the guy didn’t have any dirt on him even though Hutcheson tried to find it. By the end, the ex-wife realizes that she doesn’t want a new man and comes back. It’s nice for the lead of course, but that part was maybe a little over the top. It was the one subplot where I couldn’t sympathize with Hutcheson at all. He’s a great newspaper man, but that was part of the problem for his social life. He had very clear priorities and his ex-wife was apparently not one of them.

As you’d expect from a newspaper film, the plot is very intricate and there are twists upon twists. More elements continue dug up by the reporters and then you get the full story at the end. It’s definitely a sad story all around, but one that will keep you guessing. It always seems like a fair mystery with my only issue being that some characters look really similar. For example, the rebound guy looked just like one of the gangsters so I was waiting for that twist. Rienzi is a decent main villain although he doesn’t get to appear all that much. He’s clearly a lot smarter than his minions, but it wasn’t enough as he gets outsmarted by the newspaper the whole time.

The court scenes were pretty fun. There wasn’t much that the heroes could do there since the paper’s owners had already given their consent, but it was still nice to see. The court rooms definitely haven’t changed much at all as it looks like an exact replica to the one I sat in a while back. The Judge made the right call since an appeal to emotion isn’t the right way to win a case. One of the executives did stand up in the end though so the paper got to have a happy ending thanks to that. Hopefully sales pick up so she can gain back her money.

Again, old films like this one are so good because of the dynamic writing and plot. The script is leagues ahead of anything you’ll see in the modern day. The characters all feel very real and professional. While this may not always help Hutcheson, it does work well with the film. The plot was good and handled well as we got to see how a lone newspaper can deal with a gangster threat. They may have fallen for the fake cops gambit, but they controlled the game otherwise. All of the reporters were very good at their jobs and everyone brought something to the table. The only plot that the film should have cut out was the drama with the ex-wife. It didn’t eat up too much screen time though so at least it wasn’t a huge issue, just a minor thing that would have made the whole experience even better.

Overall, Deadline USA is a good film. It’s certainly one that I hadn’t heard of before so it was a nice hidden gem to find. The film’s not very long so the pacing never slows down. As one of Bogart’s final films, I can safely say that it was a good decision to be a part of it. The film certainly would have lost some charm and charisma without his inclusion. It’d still be a film, but some leads were just made for the roll and he did a good job here. For once he didn’t even get knocked out despite getting in a car with the villains. You definitely have to love that confidence. I highly recommend checking this film out.

Overall 7/10

In a Lonely Place Review

It’s time for another sad “classic” that doesn’t end up aging well at all. The film definitely leaves you in a lonely place and you have to wonder if the film’s solid reputation is only fleeting at best. The characters once again aren’t all that likable and the film ends up dragging on for quite a while. Well, I suppose that the title is fitting, but that’s the only compliment that I can ultimately give the film. It fails at everything else.

Dixon is a guy who has a very bad reputation of losing his temper and starting trouble. His movie scripts have also not done very well in a while since he tends to have writer’s block and refuses to make any more remakes. One day, a girl he invited home to read a manuscript is murdered on the way home. He is placed under suspicion due to how uncaring he is and the suspicious circumstances surrounding her murder. Meanwhile, Dixon’s neighbor, Laurel is brought in and the two very suddenly get attracted to each other. Unfortunately, Laurel may have picked the wrong man as Dixon seems to get further and further gone with each passing day.

Let’s start off with the fact that none of the characters here are likable. Dixon is obsessed with murder to the point where he doesn’t mind cracking a few jokes upon learning that the girl was murdered. He doesn’t really care even though it’s indirectly his fault for inviting her to his home. I say indirectly because you can’t totally blame him there and she seemed to be in a relationship with a pretty crooked fellow. This result may have happened either way. You’re supposed to sympathize with Dixon, but he’s too far gone. He makes no real attempt to control his anger and nearly murders a guy for simply shooting off an insult. The fact is, he would have murdered the guy had Laurel not stopped him. He injures his manager as well and then tries to strangle Laurel until the phone stops him. That’s two murders that he would have committed had he not been stopped.

As I said, Dixon is way too far gone to be even remotely likable. There’s no way a positive relationship could have ever occurred if he doesn’t respect Laurel enough not to force her into things. Even the marriage proposal is only accepted because of the very implied threat had Laurel not accepted. Laurel isn’t great either. Refusing in the beginning would have been the safest choice, but why did she get involved in the first place? She went from being a rather cold individual who claimed not to rush into things only to get serious about the relationship the very next day. It was a very fast turnaround and the romance really made no sense from the get go.

Now, we’ve also got the cop who seems to be a friend of Dixon’s although just barely. He invites Dixon over for the guy to help explain the murder. Dixon is fascinated with murders and writes about them a lot so he’s sure to be an expert. Sure enough, Dixon figures it out and has the cop use the murder method on his wife as part of a demonstration. All right, there’s nothing bad about that as it’s all pretend right? Wrong, the cop gets so much into it that he starts to seriously squeeze until his wife lets him know that it’s hurting. Even then it takes the cop a few moments to notice before he stopped. Once again, we’ve entered crazy town. You’re not seriously tell me to consider the fact that the murder is so interesting that you would start to seriously use the method on your wife for even an instance right? I mean, the wall between fake and real is quite large and anyone with a speck of common sense would not apply the squeeze at all past safety limits. The cop was doomed from there.

Dixon’s manager wasn’t bad even if he probably shouldn’t have put up with this abuse for so long. He’s just being a good friend so I don’t hold that against him. He’s probably the best character by default although he really shouldn’t encourage Laurel so much since it’s all right to put yourself in a dangerous position, but never anyone else. That’s where you’ve got to draw the line.

As a result, the film is just not enjoyable in the slightest. That’s what happens when a film has a bad plot or commits any of the big 3 errors. (excessive violence, fanservice, animal violence) There are two kinds of bad films by the way. Ones that are simply hard to watch like this one and those that you can enjoy watching in the moment while recognizing their flaws and placing it as a bad movie. I’ll give you all an example of this.

Pixels also got a 1 like this movie. The big difference is that the film was still a lot of fun. I had to stifle a laugh many times, there were great action scenes, and the characters could be likable. Why was it terrible? Well, there were a lot of inappropriate jokes and terrible writing. That may not sound like enough to give the film a 1, but trust me…it was. When the writing is overloaded with those kind of jokes you can bet that I’ll give the film a terrible review. It’s a shame because the film could have been good with so many solid moments, but that’s how it goes. Regardless, I’ll take that kind of film any day over one like this. Pitch Perfect, Bring It On, Tower Heist (to a lesser extent), etc are examples of films like this. I don’t like them and I certainly don’t plan on watching them again, but if I had to choose between them or films like this one, (Sucker Punch, In A Lonely Place, Haunting in Connecticut, Amityville Horror, etc) I would definitely go with the former.

That’s because films are made for you to have fun. I still say that is the purpose of all forms of media. If you’re not even having any fun in the movie and it’s just dragging on and on with content that is not enjoyable, then it has failed. For films that are not enjoyable intentionally, then it is a failed film right from the start. Criterion seems to like approving films like this, which is definitely regrettable. They’ve had some good films in the past, but it seems to be rare.

Overall, I definitely do not recommend In A Lonely Place. It’s not a fun film and it’s probably the first Bogart title that I really did not like. It’s a shame since he typically plays likable characters. This may have come out before Godzilla, but the writing is surprisingly not engaging mainly due to the plot. Instead of checking this film out, look up some classic Hitchcock titles that will engross you in their plots or look for Superman and the Mole Men. A true classic that can appeal to all film fans with its good humor and solid climax.

Overall 1/10

The Maltese Falcon Review

The Maltese Falcon is a film that is even older than the original Godzilla. It’s definitely known as a classic at this point and with good reason. It’s a film that definitely holds up pretty well against the test of time. It’s nice and confusing without necessarily cheating the audience as it goes along. You have opportunities to try and piece together what is up amist all of the trickery that is afoot.

The main character is a guy named Sam Spade. He is a detective and one day a lady comes into his office asking him to tail someone. This guy may be dangerous so she wants them to proceed with caution. Sam has his partner tail the guy, but he ends up getting knocked off. This just got personal for Sam and he knows that the lady knows more. Other wrinkles quickly develop in the plot as an organization led by the Fat Man enters the picture along with a shady fellow representing another organization. What ties all of these individuals together is their desire to obtain the Maltese Falcon.

It’s definitely a pretty fun mystery as you watch Sam try to piece it all together. He definitely has no help since none of the characters want to be honest with him. He handles the whole thing pretty well for the most part although he does get knocked out once or twice. Sam is still human so I suppose he’s entitled to a few mistakes. One area where he didn’t look good was how he would let Brigid get to him even though he knew that she was pretty shady. By the end he makes the right call, but he should have kept the whole thing a little more business like anyway since he knew that it wouldn’t work out. As a detective, he’s definitely one of the best in the biz. He doesn’t back down from the cops or from gangsters. Sam just seems pretty fearless and we know that he isn’t, but his tough facade is a hard one to break down. He’s also a pretty talented fighter as he disarms several villains in the film.

Brigid is the main heroine and she constantly tells Sam lie after lie. It’s a good thing that he’s got a lot of experience at detecting those because she would have had him trapped otherwise. She got herself into this mess so it’s hard to feel sorry for her. She’s just as guilty as the other villains in pursuit of the Falcon so it’s hard to know which group to root for from the big 3. Regardless, she is typically on the defensive since she usually doesn’t carry a gun. She wasn’t my kind of villain.

Cairo is the kind of villain who acts really polite even when he is doing something sinister. He doesn’t look too impressive in his first fight with Sam, but he manages to do all right by the end. He is treated like a punching bag compared to the other villains though and you never get the feeling that his group will end up winning. He’s pretty brave and a quick thinker sometimes. Cairo’s a fun villain to watch, but one that you don’t expect to go very far.

Poor Wilmer is the main subordinate of the “Fat Man” and he always has a gun yet he is never really able to win. He’s constantly outmatched against Sam and the humiliations never stop for him. For a while you start to think that the “Fat Man” might just off him for being so inneffective as a hit man. Wilmer manages to escape that fate, but let’s just say that things aren’t all well and good for him by the time everything’s over. He does get more character than the “Fat Man” though. The boss talks tough, but he’s the kind of guy who really needs a bodyguard since he wouldn’t last very long on his own. He was a pretty fun villain and he also likes to act polite, but he enters the party pretty late. His final trick was a doozy though.

As with most of the old (Pre 60’s) films that I’ve seen, The Maltese Falcon has exceptional writing. If films still used the dialogue of the old days it would make for some pretty thrilling moments. There’s just something about the lines that makes all of the characters seem reasonably smart. It’s pretty neat and it’s probably one of the reasons why I like the feel of these films. The adventures are always very interesting and even if you manage to get lost in the shuffle of plot twists at some point, you’ll have had fun.

The ending was definitely a little unexpected, but in a good way. It was good to see a certain character get the last laugh after such a complicated endeavor. This character never actually gets to appear, but we begin to realize his brilliance once the final plot twist pops up. Trust me, it’s a doozy! It was a satisfying way to end the film and while we could in theory get a sequel, it can stand up on its own. The solid writing and good cast of characters definitely make the mystery entertaining. There is no soundtrack to be found here, but I suppose that I can overlook that this time…..I suppose.

Overall, The Maltese Falcon lives up to its reputation of being one of the best films of its time. It holds up well to the Hitchcock films or the other Bogart titles where he starred in a similar role. You may have some trouble keeping up with the names at first, but once you’ve go them down you’re all set to start deciphering the clues. Sam does let his feelings overwhelm him at times, but for at least 90% of the film, he’s the intense main character that we had been waiting for. I highly recommend checking this out if you like a good mystery.

Overall 7/10

Key Largo Review

Bogart and Bacall get to team up once again, but this is easily their weakest adventure. I had a feeling that something wasn’t right when I noticed that the name, Robinson, was between Bogart and Bacall. That’s not how it’s supposed to go right? This is definitely a classic 40s film and it’s still 6 years before the first Godzilla film, but something went dreadfully wrong. The film just moved away from some of the things that made the first few films so good.

Frank decides to pay his army friend’s father a visit as he travels down to the Key Largo section. The hotel is apparently closed, but the father seems happy to see him and Frank gets to meet his pal’s wife. They talk about the friend and what a good guy he was before he finally died in the war. There are a few shady characters in the hotel, but everything else seems to be all right. Some Indians are also around and they plan to turn themselves in for the good of everyone. They leave and prepare to do so later. That’s when the shady fellows decide to make their move and they take the hotel. Everyone has become their hostages now and they’ll all have to weather the hurricane together. There is a lot of tension in the air!

Well, this film definitely didn’t do it for me. For one thing, Bogart typically plays a hardcore lead who loves to mess with everyone. That’s not Frank in this one. Frank is still heroic and he’s a tough guy, but he doesn’t really talk back to the villains. He’s more of a subdued character who is tired of fighting and he’s ready to call it a day. He does make a lot of good moves like not falling for the empty gun trick, but he’s not as exciting as you might expect. Now, I’m not saying that Frank’s a bad character. He’s still a good lead and I agree with most of his moves. He doesn’t even get distracted by romance this time. He’s just not very exciting and he would make for a better supporting character if anything.

Nora is the main heroine and she’s the kind of character that a modern film could portray a little better. (Which is pretty rare) She tries to be tough when needed, but she just doesn’t look very good. She attacks the villain on two occasions, but she’s completely overpowered without doing any real damage. She’s a good character, but not one that is very enjoyable to see on screen since you know that she’ll just be defeated. I can’t say that this is Bacall’s best character to portray either. Nora just needed to get some sort of weapon to make things a little more interesting.

Johnny Rocco is the main villain and he’s about as unlikable as you would expect. He’s always chewing on a cigar or taking a bath. He’s not very bright and Frank makes fun of him from time to time. The only reason why he lasts so long is because he has a gun at the ready. There’s not much else to say about him. He’s just your average gangster who has a lot of minions who could technically beat him in a fight, but are afraid to do so. He’s easily the worst character in the film.

He’s got a handful of minions. One of them tends to laugh a lot while the other one likes to talk or grab a drink to ease the tension. A lady is along with the gang and she’s completely hooked on beer. She seems a little out of place with the group since she used to be a singer and everything, but she went down the wrong path. We’ve also got the Indians whose bond with the father is broken thanks to these circumstances. The cops don’t look too great as one of them is really slow on the uptake while the other one was quickly blindsided. The father of the dead friend really tries his best to keep on believing that the villains will be defeated, but he’s in a wheelchair so he’s not really in a position to fight. He does try though and it can be pretty sad to watch. It’s too bad for the guy since he had a pretty peaceful life up until that point.

One of the big things that hurt the film was that it’s just not very fun. We don’t get any of the witty banter that we have gotten used too in the other titles. Sure, Frank messes with the villain a little, but it can barely be called banter since it’s completely one sided. None of the characters are as charismatic as their older counterparts either. It’s a film where you are actually going to check your watch to see if it’s almost over.

The villains also get away with too much as you may have expected. The cops may be on the way, but it’s a little too late since one of the characters is already taken out and the hotel is basically ruined. Frank gets his big fight at the end and it’s good that he finally went on the offensive, but it definitely took a while. The main heroine’s attack that backfired is also another reason why the film was pretty doomed. It’s just another unnecessary scene to show off how “tough” the villain is. He’s pretty fat and he doesn’t work out so I don’t think he’ll be too strong. At the very least, it should be more of a fight. The Indians also get the short end of the stick here since their end isn’t very happy either.

There isn’t much of a soundtrack here. They squeeze in a song as per usual, but I can’t say that it was anything great. To be fair, I don’t think films really got good music until the 80s, although there are likely a few exceptions scattered about. There isn’t much scenery to look at either since most of the film takes place in the hotel. Not a lot of variety.

Overall, Key Largo lost the charm that the other team up films had. This one just isn’t fun to watch. We don’t have the epic banter and no fight scenes until the very end. The cast is also filled with mostly unlikable or bland characters. There’s no real romance this time, but the film was pretty sunk without it. If you’re looking for a classic (Pre Godzilla) film to watch, then I would recommend The Big Sleep instead. That one is a good example of how you should make a classic film. At least there wasn’t any animal violence here!

Overall 4/10

Dark Passage Review

It’s time for the next installment in the Bogart and Bacall series. This film is still a mystery, but it’s not as much of a focus as it was in the last film. The plot involves the mystery of course, but it’s also a thriller as the hero has to stay low to make sure that the cops don’t find him. It’s another solid film from the 40’s and it holds up pretty well. There is one aspect of it that I can’t say that I’m crazy about and it involves the camera angles. Beyond that, it looks like we’ve picked another winner!

The plot involves Vincent, an escaped convict. He has been charged with murdering his wife and he was going to be locked up for a very long time..unless he goes to the gas chamber. None of those options appeal to Vincent so he somehow manages to break out of jail and jump onto a prison transport while riding in a barrel. He rolls his way into a lake and knocks out a driver who was passing by. Things are still pretty dangerous for him when a mysterious lady tells him to get into her car as she takes him home. How many hidden agendas does this lady have and is Vincent really safe here? Things are going to get tough for Vincent and we aren’t even sure if we should root for him. After all…what if the charges are true!?

Vincent is not quite as interesting as the last two leads that we had for the 40’s films. He’s not quite as bold or confident. He’s not timid, but he’s not quick to insult everyone and make a lot of witty comebacks. He does go into rage mode once his friend is taken out of the picture (He denies this of course) and he’s a decent fighter. Still, Vincent could have handled the situation better if he didn’t keep making unnecessary errors. “Why did you want the Sports section Vince” “I wanted to see how the Miami horses were doing” “Those finished months ago….GET HIM!” is basically how one scene goes down. At least choose something like Baseball where you can be sure that it’s still active. He claims to have played it so he should know if it’s in the off season or not. Something easy like Baseball would have really helped him when he was in a tough spot.

Irene is a character that did trick me so I will give props there. I was waiting for her to betray Vincent or to unleash her master plan. I kept waiting and waiting until the credits started rolling. She’s all right I suppose, but her strategy is definitely more than a little risky. There was still the chance that Vincent was a murderer. (Although Irene did have some decent evidence that suggested otherwise) She’s not a fighter and she doesn’t have a gun so she doesn’t get to help that much in the climax, but she certainly helps Vincent a lot when he’s in a pinch.

Madge is the lady next door who is worried about Vincent’s possible arrival into the state. She believes that Vincent will come after her and it’s a very delicate situation. They certainly don’t get along, but it seems like nobody really gets along with her. There’s not much to say about Madge here since she’s deeply entangled into the plot, but I can’t say that she’s a great character.

Sam is pretty good since he sees through Vincent’s facade without any effort. This is definitely a guy who could be a detective and the veiled threats start to get pretty intense until you realize that he has a master plan in all of this. I’d definitely say that he’s one of the better characters in the film. He doesn’t get a whole lot of screentime, but he was certainly memorable.

We had some side characters as well, but they didn’t do a whole lot. The plastic surgeon is there to help. He makes a joke about how he could wreck Vincent’s life, but at least he was just joking. Another character by the name of Bob didn’t realize the dangers of romance until it was too late. It’s a common story for many people. Vincent also had a friend who was pretty nervous the whole time, but he still pulled it together when he had too. If only he was a bit of a better fighter.

One of the dicier parts of the film is the first person camera strategy that is used for the first half of the film. I’ve never been a fan of the found footage genre and it only works for certain parts. It’s kind of interesting to see everything through the main character’s eyes, but I think it would work best if only used sometimes. It would definitely be tough to implement, but I’m sure that they can pull it off. The thing with first person is…it works best for interactive rides or (very small) segments of a video game or movie/episode. It can be used for drama and suspense. That is where the first person look works best.

There is naturally some plot hax to be found here since most escape films need them. How did Vincent get out of prison to go in the barrel? Why did the guard do such a terrible job of checking Irene’s car? How come the villains are all geniuses? These are questions that you may ask yourself as you watch the film. They aren’t huge, but you’ll still wonder about these scenes. Especially the first two since the film should have easily have been able to think of a more believable scenario.

No matter how you look at it, the second half of the film is a lot more exciting than the first parts. We get to see the lead get into a gun fight and put all of the pieces together. It feels more like the other two films since Vincent gets to use his experience to try and win the day. The film is still missing something though and it’s hard to place your finger on it. It’s still missing most of the soundtrack, but the writing is solid. The only thing that I can come up with is that the plot isn’t quite as engaging as one would expect. That…or the stakes are just too low. It’s a little hard to figure, but that does end up hurting the film a little bit.

Overall, Dark Passage was a pretty good film. The characters were definitely weaker than their counterparts in the other Bogart/Bacall films, but they were good enough. They would still be much better than your average protagonist of the modern day films. The camera work didn’t click with me though and it means that we didn’t really get to see the main character for a while. The film’s main problem is that it’s just less interesting than the last two. Of course, it is still a pretty good film overall and you should enjoy it if you like a casual escape story/mystery. I would sooner recommend another Bogart and Bacall team up, but I’m sure that any moviegoer will want to see the full set. So prepare yourself!

Overall 6/10

The Big Sleep Review

It’s time for another classic with Bogart and Bacall! This was still in the pre Godzilla days of cinema and those films were typically pretty intense. There are two genres in particular where classic films really shine. Kaiju adventures and mysteries. This is an example of the latter and it’s definitely a pretty compelling story. There are so many twists here that it can be pretty hard to follow, which also makes it pretty exciting!

Explaining the plot is pretty difficult as it was with the last film. The reason all of the twists and turns continue to lead into the next one so the original plot keeps adapting accordingly. Still, the plot begins with Marlowe heading into a mansion. He’s basically a private detective and he knows the ropes. “The General” hires him to get somebody out of the way…peacefully of course. This man is related to a racket that is blackmailing The General, which may be linked to the guy who ran off with Ms. Mars…or do they call her Brody now?…which may be related to Carmen’s police entanglements that could be why they found a body in the lake, which could have come from the mysterious house on the mountain, which may have something to do with all of the murders that have been occurring. Marlowe was expecting a fairly simple case, but maybe he’s bitten off more than he can chew with this case!

This film really had everything that I could have wanted from a mystery film. There are quite a few suspects and new characters continue to pop up. Marlowe makes for a pretty good detective and the film gets right to the point. It’s around 2 hours and they make sure to squeeze in as much action and suspense as possible. It’s safe to say that I preferred this one to the other film that I saw with the same lead actors. (To Have and Have Not)

Marlowe’s the main character and he is definitely better than your average lead. As I mentioned earlier, he has a lot of experience so he’s basically a pro by this point. He’s always got a witty comeback at the ready and he doesn’t take any sass from anyone. He even manages to block a slap and disarm a guy with ease. Marlowe is essentially invincible for the first half of the film. Unfortunately, he does start to crumble by the second half as he suffers two quick losses faster than the Vikings broke down against the Patriots and Saints this year! It’s a little surprising to see how quickly the tables turn on him, but I suppose that Marlowe is only human. He had to make a mistake sometime and it just happened to occur at a critical time. Through it all, Marlowe is definitely a solid character even if he does fall into the romance trap during the film.

Vivian is the main heroine of the film, although her role is a lot smaller than one would typically expect. She is around a lot to give Marlowe some advice that may or may not be true. She’s always trying to dig up some dirt on what Marlowe knows, but the detective always manages to turn her own words against her. It’s hard to tell whether she’s on his side or with the crooks since she can be rather shady. It’s time to add suspect number one to the list! She does use her romance skills to try and get Marlowe, which tends to work on the leads since it’s one of the only things that they think about. Ah well, retro films do typically have romance so it’s hard to avoid.

Eddie Mars is one of the bigshots and there’s no way that he isn’t guilty of something. The question is…is Eddie Mars The crook or just a crook? It’s hard to tell and he’s also pretty cunning so it’s hard to get any information out of him. He’s got his minions at the ready and he’s fairly powerful in the underground circuits. Messing with him could be pretty dangerous for Marlowe. They have a pretty intense meetup inside of the haunted house where guns are drawn..on multiple occasions!

Never forget that where there’s an Eddie, there is always a Joe! Joe Brody is another big shot and he lacks Eddie’s riches, but he still has enough to get by. He’s quick with a gun and his only mistake is that he likes to open the door without peering through the keyhole or asking “Who is it?” before opening. He gets his own action scene as well so show how tough he can be. We definitely can’t rub him off the list?

Don’t worry, it’s time for another gun wielding suspect in the form of Carmen Sternwood! Most of the problems are centered around her so it’s entirely possible that she is just orchestrating the entire thing. Her first scene is her trying to win Marlowe over and almost succeeding. She’s typically pretty high or emotionally unstable so it’s tough to get a read on her. With a gun..anything is possible here. We certainly can’t rule her out and she wasn’t a good character anyway. She does have her own personal minion she is not as innocent as she seems.

Bernie is Marlowe’s friend who happens to be a cop. Wouldn’t it be a big twist if it was actually the really nice cop? Sure, but it may be a bit of a stretch to assume that it’s him. Of course, that could just be what I want you to think! He’s a pretty cool guy and he does send a few veiled threats at Marlowe to keep the hero honest. This guy’s one of the few people who can stand up to the hero at all!

This film does have a little more music than you would expect from the average 40’s film. I still don’t really remember any of the themes after watching it, but it’s better than nothing. This film has a decent amount of action since we get quite a few gunfights and even a quick hand to hand beatdown. There is some romance, but it’s not a whole lot so you should live.

One thing about the old films that can be amusing to see is how smart everyone is. It’s almost like every character is a genius. Not in an academic sense, but in a practical one. All of them know not to say too much and how to say it. They are all familiar with tricking the police and talking in very cryptic ways. Even breaking a code is not very tough for the main character. It’s interesting to say the least. At least this means that the hero knows how to get the jump on the villains to wrestle the gun away from them.

Overall, This was a pretty solid mystery. The writing was good and the pacing was very quick. There were many twists and even I would likely still wonder about some scenes by the end. All of the names just kind of blend together after a while and it’s hard to read the writing in such small print when they go to show the evidence. The film’s one weakness aside from the romance would likely be that they could have made the ending a little clearer. Give us some closure instead of abruptly ending. Either way, that’s good since the film will keep you guessing. It’s hard not to root for Marlowe since he’s just so great at being a detective. He really fears no one and he just continues to talk back to everyone that he meets. I highly recommend this film if you have been yearning to check out an old mystery and there is also some action to keep you interested in what’s happening. Let’s also not forget the haunted house atop the hill. This could end up as the best 1940’s film of all time! (A true feat to be sure)

Overall 7/10

To Have and Have Not Review

It’s time for a really retro film! This one came out in the 40s so this was even before the Godzilla days. Actually…even I wasn’t born way back then! (Believe it or not!) I tend to enjoy these classic films since they really did a good job with the writing back then. The characters are typically a lot more enjoyable and the gun fights tended to be more entertaining than the modern ones. Classic films have their weaknesses as well so it’s not all up, but they can hold their own. Was this film a true classic or was it the next Lord of the Rings? It’s time to find out!

Germany has taken France down for the count at the start of the film. There is only a small resistance movement left and they’re badly outnumbered and outgunned. These guys seem to have no chance and a hostile tension fills the land. The story follows Steve, a professional fisherman. He’s an American and that means that he’s in less danger than most of the other characters. He keeps reminding the Germans to watch out for Uncle Sam. (Not in those words, but he does mention his rights and threatens to call the Americans at one point) The French want Steve to transport a political figure from an area across the sea back to his hotel. Steve decides not too, but a woman by the name of Marie arrives and things start to get chaotic for the heroes. The french did not listen to Steve and they arrive only to be shot down. The villains decide to mess with Steve and Marie since they’re suspects and they steal all of Steve’s money. This results in Steve deciding to take the job as well as the fact that the villains were messing with Marie. Will Steve be able to make a difference in this war?

It’s a crude analysis of the plot, but that’s because it’s very plot heavy. Every scene leads into the next one and while the film is only 2 hours, you could say that there are 4-5 segments of the film. The plot continues to twist and turn as the film goes on and it’s hard to know where to draw the line. After all, you don’t want to spoil what’s going to happen and the actual plot for the film at certain points can become spoilers. It’s tricky and I figured that I would just dodge that part by giving the basic overview of the plot. Pretty ingenius eh? Well I try…

Is Steve a good main character? The lead is pretty crucial in a film like this since he’ll be getting a whole bunch of screentime. Only 3-10 minutes of the film take place without him and maybe even less than that. On one hand, Steve is the kind of guy that you want on your side. He’s very brave and he doesn’t back down to anyone. He talks back to the Germans, the French, etc. Nobody talks to Steve the wrong way if he has anything to say about it. He also makes sure to defend his friends so anyone who messes with them has to mess with him. Those are the positive qualities for Steve and it’s why I can safely say that he’s a dependable main character.

On the other hand, Steve does get heavily involved in the romance plot. He’s pretty easily wooed by the main heroine although he keeps his composure and uses insults to try and trick her into thinking that he doesn’t want her around. “Don’t get the wrong idea…..I’m not doing this for you….I’m doing it for me!” is the kind of thing that you can expect him to say. It’s definitely hard to tell at some points whether he is really as calm and collected as he appears or not since Marie really gets to him at times. I could do without the romance and I’m sure that you’ve already heard this in my older reviews. Still, Steve ended up being a good character.

Eddie is Steve’s main assistant on the ship. He used to be a pretty good guy according to Steve, but now he’s always drunk. The beer has already damaged him both physically and mentally. It’s too bad since you get the sense that he could have been a pretty likable guy back in the day. He’s still fairly nice, but he has a really short term memory and he is completely addicted to beer. It’s one of the only things that he thinks about in life. He’ll still stand by Steve until the bitter end, but he’s a shell of his former self. He’s certainly an amusing character though and he’s not quite as annoying as a modern version of him would be. Basically, Eddie was still a good character.

Marie is the main heroine of the film. We never get a full glimpse into her origin, but perhaps it is for the best. Why dwell on the past right? She starts out as a petty thief who uses people to get money, but she decides to go straight when she meets Steve. It’ll be dangerous, but the journey is worth it for the goal at the end of the road. She does jump start the whole romance angle, but I suppose that it was inevitable. We still had some nice banter between her and Steve at one point where they kept trying to provoke the other person. (Remember when people actually used the word sore instead of upset? That’s one “slang” term that died out pretty early on) The character development was really good for Marie though and she’s a much better character at the end of the film than at the beginning. It’s always good to see an example of character development helping someone since it has a tendency to have the opposite effect.

We had some other supporting characters, but they weren’t very memorable for the most part. “Frenchie” was constantly getting Steve into trouble, but it was for a good cause I suppose. The other members of the rebellion were not so great though and the big shot that Steve had to transport turned out to not be very great by the end. It’s safe to say that I was expecting a lot more out of him. The main villain is pretty fat and almost endearing, but not quite. It’s what I would expect so I give the film a thumbs up there.

There is not much of a soundtrack so the film scores a 0 there, but most old films didn’t have many solid themes playing. The simple reason that explains this is the fact that rock music wasn’t really around at the time. The writing is the film’s main strength. The dialogue is just first rate as you would expect and it’s mainly thanks to Steve since he gets about 90% of the cool lines in the film. The others help though and this is how you make a script!

Overall, This was a pretty solid film. The film is under 2 hours, but it’ll still feel like it has a longer runtime since so much happens in that time period. Most of it won’t even feel like filler since something is usually happening in the shadows. Steve is an example of a character who talks tough and gets dragged into romance, but still manages to be 1000X cooler than someone like James Bond. I definitely recommend this film if you’re looking for a solid dialogue film or if you want to see something involving the Germans from back in the day. The French are on the losing side in this film, but at least we know that things will get better once America jumps in. America definitely gets its props here and that’s always fun to see. There is some brief action in the film as well so that helps the film as well. Is this the best 40’s film that I’ve seen? It’s certainly possible! (I’ll just have to check which other films I’ve seen from this decade!)

Overall 6/10