Alan Hale

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Four Men And A Prayer Review


OK
In Four Men and a Prayer, director John Ford doesn't have one. Saddled by Darryl Zanuck with a claptrap mystery adventure plot involving the dishonorable discharge and subsequent murder of a proud British career officer during the jewel-in-the-crown years of British colonialism and the efforts of his four sons to find the killer and exonerate their father, Ford assumes the role of Houdini. With a handsome physical production, Ford mounts an impressive sleight-of-hand, diverting prying eyes by throwing everything at the audience he can think of, anything to stay away from the actual story, which Ford doesn't want to get close enough to smell.

The nominal plot has stout-hearted Colonel Loring Leigh (C. Aubrey Smith -- who else?) kicked out of the Lancers for signing an order allowing a shipment guns to find their way into the hands of a band of Indian rebels, who end up massacring 90 men at one of those Indian passes so famous in '30s movie adventure yarns. Colonel Leigh is drummed out of the army but knows he's been set up and his signature forged. Returning to England he summons his four sons -- dim bulb Oxford student Rodney (William Henry), pompous barrister Wyatt (George Sanders), shallow ladies man/aviator Chris (David Niven), and stuffy British attache Geoffrey (Richard Greene) -- in order to show them the evidence proving he was framed by an international gun cartel. He doesn't get that far. While the boys are sipping bitters in the ante room, Colonel Leigh is shot dead in his study and the evidence removed. The press claims Leigh committed suicide from his disgrace, but the boys know better and set about to find his killer and clear his name.

Continue reading: Four Men And A Prayer Review

They Drive By Night Review


Good
Humphrey Bogart plays the lesser of two truck-driving brothers who get caught up in a murder plot courtesy of screaming starlet Ida Lupino, who caught a huge break with this film. The story is classic melodrama, with screwy dames, inquisitive coppers, and a screaming courtroom breakdown ("The doors made me do it!"). Amusing in the end but hardly a classic.

The Sea Hawk Review


Good
Captain Blood's Errol Flynn hits the high seas again in this overstuffed historical epic. The film careens from the water (as Flynn's Captain Thorpe plays pirate against the Spanish galleons of the Elizabethan era) to the royal drawing rooms (as Thorpe raises the ire of Queen Elizabeth (Flora Robson)). Meanwhile, he's in love with a Spanish lady from one of the ships (Brenda Marshall) and he tries to woo her while avoiding capture.

The sea adventure is fantastic (two life-size ships were constructed specifically for the film) but frankly I could have used far less parlor rooming in the picture -- especially because Robson is so difficult to believe as Elizabeth, despite the severe hairdo. Flynn -- in his 10th collaboration with director Michael Curtiz -- acquits himself just fine, though perhaps he should have taken his sword to the overblown script as well as the Spaniards.

Continue reading: The Sea Hawk Review

The Adventures Of Robin Hood Review


Excellent
The Adventures of Robin Hood is one of those rare studio system movies that started out as a regular genre film and somehow surpassed itself, feeding off a creative energy that generated its own sweeping artistry. It blurs the line of categories to include all types and styles: a swashbuckling action-adventure; a romantic fairy tale full of yearning looks and limpid eyes; a sight-gag comedy with dashing derring-do and hilarious costumes. Coming right down to it though, it's a 65-year-old classic that still holds its rank as a movie among movies.

In 1938 Robin Hood was a huge success. It added to the Errol Flynn-Olivia de Havilland aura as a leading romantic team (they made six more films together). It also received special attention by using the new and expensive three-strip Technicolor in its cinematography. If you had a chance to see the restored 35mm print that made the rounds at various big-city theaters last August, good for you -- you've experienced what "glorious Technicolor" really is and you're one up on the rest of us. But the new release of The Adventures of Robin Hood on a two-disc DVD special edition might just even the score. It's hard to beat seeing any classic on the big screen, but the sparkling sharpness of this DVD image and the high quality and quantity of the extras almost make up for the lack of big-screen opportunities.

Continue reading: The Adventures Of Robin Hood Review

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Alan Hale Movies

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The Sea Hawk Movie Review

The Sea Hawk Movie Review

Captain Blood's Errol Flynn hits the high seas again in this overstuffed historical epic. The...

The Adventures of Robin Hood Movie Review

The Adventures of Robin Hood Movie Review

The Adventures of Robin Hood is one of those rare studio system movies that started...

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