Murder on the Orient Express Review


It’s time for a mystery thriller from Agatha Christie. And Then There Were None is still her best work as it’s a perfect example of how a murder thriller should go. While this one couldn’t quite match that master piece, it’s a very solid film and one that you should add to your repertoire. With all of the suspects boxed in on the train, it’s the perfect scenario for Detective Poirot. Still, he’ll have to work fast since the snow won’t last forever.

Poirot was enjoying a very peaceful train ride and was off duty for a change. He hadn’t expected to have any problems, but then a dead body is found. He quickly begins to deduce that there was something more to the victim than it would appear. Poirot also decides to interview all of the suspects and there were certainly a bunch. First is Harriet, a bold woman who loves to voice her opinions and is constantly chattering. She has something to say about everything so it is difficult to actually find out what she knows. Next is Hector, the secretary of the deceased. He is fairly mild mannered and always nervous. Then there’s Beddoes, a seemingly perfect butler who is always ready to answer politely. He was close to the deceased and delivers the nightly wine. Princess Natalia may be rather old, but that would also make it easier for her to do something while staying inconspicuous. She has a maid named Hildegarde who has served the master faithfully for many years so maybe it was all for this moment. Diplomat Rudolf and his wife Elena appear to be rather quiet for most of the journey. Rudolf does blow up whenever someone talks to him though so are his nerves cracking or are they both quiet because they know something? Mary, the teacher is around as well and her scholarly knowledge could be sinister. The Missionary Greta always seems rather timid and doesn’t know English too well, but is it all an act? There’s also Antonio, a car salesman and one of the only reasonable people here. He’s loud and bold and certainly isn’t nervous like the rest of the passengers. He’s ready to help the country and that could be suspicious. Finally, there’s the actor Cyrus. He always seems to fade into the background and that may not be an accident. We also can’t forget Poirot’s friend Signor. Sometimes friends aren’t as innocent as they appear to be. Poirot has a lot of suspects to flip through so this’ll be tough.

I love a good mystery and the whole film is about that. Poirot’s interrogation of every member is pretty fun as he grills them. Since most of the riders are either lying or hiding something, it really does make his job very difficult. The only co-operative guy was the car salesman who also happened to be the best character in the film. It’s no coincidence as I was glad to see someone being at least a little co-operative. Perhaps he was a little too eager so that makes him suspicious as well, but something to think about for sure.

The pacing is pretty tight here. The opening which shows a crime in progress is fairly short. It just gives you enough time to see each of the characters and then we are quickly taken to the train. Once at the train, it never feels like the movie is dragging on. While the mystery doesn’t start immediately, it gives you a chance to learn about each of the characters and gauge the reactions of each when things finally start. Naturally in any good thriller, you know not to pay too much attention to the reactions though. The guilty party is typically an expert and can feign any reaction somehow.

I was pretty satisfied with the ending. It’s not really a cop-out or anything like that. It’s probably not an ending I would want to see all that much as it would then start to feel like one, but done sparingly like this it works well enough. We’ll see if you can end up guessing what happened.

The underlying story in the prologue is fairly dark, but fortunately the film doesn’t go into it much. It was handled optimally as you know enough to understand the situation, but the film doesn’t go over details or try too hard for the edgy angle. It’s something that I hope the modern remake is taking notes on. The writing is quite good as you likely have suspected. I don’t know how strict of an adaption it was from the book, but I suspect that the writing is rather similar. All of the characters are sophisticated and it makes for multi layered dialogue as a characters says one thing and means the other. It results in everyone trying to manipulate one another.

If there’s one character who’s rather annoying (Aside from the guy who died rather instantly) it would be the missionary who has a hard time speaking English. Her scene dragged on for quite a while and it can be hard to get what she is saying. Moreover, it feels like what she is saying doesn’t actually matter. I’m sure it was relevant in some way as Poirot explained everything at the end and went into great detail with each member. It was probably relevant, but it didn’t feel like it was and I forget what part of it helped solve the case. I would have chopped that scene a little. Still, that’s really my only complaint with the film so you can tell that this is quite a solid one.i

Overall, The mystery genre is a tough one. I personally think it is one of the toughest ones to write and maybe it is The toughest one. Coming up with a good mystery sounds difficult and that’s probably why I enjoy reading them so much. It may be the best genre next to action, but it’s one that has to be handled delicately. Case Closed is an example of an excellent one. The only pitfall that they have is that the mystery only works once. They don’t have much replay value because when you watch it again, you already know the ending. It’s why the remake coming up should tread carefully. Granted, you won’t actually know if it’s the same ending until you’re at the end of the film so maybe it won’t matter all that much. Regardless, if you haven’t seen this film, I’d suggest changing that right away. It’s aged quite well and makes for an engaging watch.

Overall 8/10

Advertisements

Ernest & Celestine Review

iki-arkadas
It’s time for an animated film that went under the radar. It does have a pretty big actress in the form of Lauren Bacall, but it’s not a film that I had heard of prior to now. It goes for a retro feel and the film is pretty fun. The cover technically explains most of the plot, but don’t get the wrong idea. This is a feel good film, not a heist blockbuster!

The plot involves a bear and a mouse. They live in different worlds (figuratively speaking) and their two species cannot coexist in harmony. The mice live underground and the bears live above it. Humans have been appropriately exterminated (Probably by Aliens) and Bears essentially rule the Earth. Celestine wants to be a great artist, but all mice have to become dentists. It’s just the way that things have to be. They tell her not to return to the underground world until she collects 50 teeth. Meanwhile, Ernest is pretty poor and he gets his musical instruments stolen after trying to earn money in town square. He’s at the end of his ripe and that’s when the two characters meet up. Ernest will help Celestine get the teeth and she’ll help him get some food. Of course, in the wise words of the shop owner of the Zelda CD-I games…”This is illegal you know”. Both of them are now being hunted by both civilizations….and this could get ugly.

The film suffers from a pretty slow start. Particularly Ernest’s subplot as we see him scrambling for money. It’s just about impossible to sympathize with him because he wants to eat the birds and he refuses to share his food with them. That’s not the hero that I was really expecting at that point and I was waiting for him to go back to sleep so that we could go to Celestine’s plot. Hers wasn’t great either, but I did think that the head honcho of the dentist committee knew his stuff. This guy wasn’t playing around and he really knew how to use the teeth to save someone’s speaking career. We have the class bully, the “nice” guy who is too afraid to leave the bully and we even have a sleeping room that is ripped off borrowed from Madeline.

That’s all well and good, but I can’t say that I was really invested into the film until the main characters met up. Then, it was time to escape the authorities and fight back. Celestine’s a lot more aggressive than Ernest when she speaks so she usually clobbers him verbally so that she can get her way. Ernest tries to stick up for himself a few times, but he’s simply no match for her. Everyone knows that Ernest is a nice guy at heart.

I’ve already talked a lot about Ernest and you can tell that he’s not really my kind of character. He gets a lot better by the end of course, but he messes up during his “hardcore” scenes and he should have put up more of a fight against the mice. He seems to be a bit of a pacifist, but the survival instinct should have kicked in and taken him to the next level. I also like to think that the other bears may have helped him out if Ernest had just asked them, but maybe these guys are meaner than they look.

Celestine’s plight isn’t quite as serious as Ernest, but it’s a lot more dangerous. Collecting teeth isn’t for the faint of heart since the bears will eat/crush you if they spot the mouse. I don’t blame Celestine for wanting to be an artist instead since that seems like a pretty raw deal. She’s a more likable character than Ernest and she also acts a lot tougher. She does have a few moments where she breaks down, but they both have some pretty dicey nightmares so that evens things up a bit.

I do have to say that the animation is downright terrible for a 2012 film. Of course, they likely had a very limited budget and were going for a nostalgic feel, but I’ve seen 60’s/70’s/80’s shows (Gundam, Transformers) that had better animation. I think the film could have tried a little harder to be more interesting visually. This kind of animation would have definitely had some trouble trying to get a fight scene going. I’d actually take CG-I or Flash over this animation and that’s a little dicey. There isn’t much of a soundtrack here so we’ll just skip that section altogether.

The film’s fairly short, but it’s pretty fun as stated above. There’s not a whole lot of depth to it and it may be hard to really like any of the characters, but none of them are downright awful. We have some cringe worthy figures like the kid who lost his tooth and Ernest, but the others are pretty good. It’s hard not to grin at the Candy and Dentist combo since that racket can really earn the two bears a lot of money. It’s a smart plan and at least they’re open about how they want to make money out of everyone’s misfortune. This is definitely not the happy little town that you may have been expecting since everyone has a hidden agenda.

Ernest & Celestine is fun for what it is, but it leaves less of an impact than other kid friendly films/shows. The colors aren’t as vibrant or engaging as what you may have seen from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Arthur has the more interesting characters. Carmen Sandiego had the more intense chase scenes and Strawberry Shortcake never forgets the morals. So, it’s not that Ernest & Celestine really did anything wrong, but it doesn’t really stand out. It’s like the classic Naruto film 1 argument. It’s a solid film, but why watch it when you can watch (almost) any of the other films for a richer experience. I think that’s the case with this film. It’s pretty fun, but we’ve seen most of the messages and character development in other media and they’ve done it more successfully. (Auto points for no sing alongs though)

Overall, Ernest & Celestine is a happy team up film that shows how the powers of friendship can always result in magical occurrences. The cops never stood a chance against these guys. One dicey thing for fans of the throwback genre may be that there isn’t really a big moral at the end. Ernest isn’t really sad about breaking the law and he would probably do it again if he was given the chance. The judge for the bears was pretty intense and nothing can faze him, but it could just be that he’s a little slow on the uptake. I would recommend this to people that are looking for a fun animated film to watch. It’s decent and there aren’t really any big mistakes that the film made. Of course, I would sooner recommend one of the animated features that I mentioned earlier since they do a better job at conquering this genre.

Overall 5/10

Key Largo Review

key-largo-(1948)-large-cover
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

dark_passage_1947
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

0cc552c40a08dd9a5530fee41d9cf997
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 though..so 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

tohave_poster
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