Frank Mchugh

Frank Mchugh

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Mystery Of The Wax Museum Review


Very Good
Bet ya didn't know that the "original" House of Wax was a remake! Here's the real original (in fact, it was a play even before this), a 1933 film that is strikingly similar to the Vincent Price horror film, but which also borrows heavily from then-popular vampire movies. Lionel Atwill plays the Price part, but Fay Wray is more memorable as the wannabe gumshoe who's on the case of the local wax museum and why its wax figures have an uncanny resemblance to the recently dead. Made in early, two-strip Technicolor.

Footlight Parade Review


Extraordinary
With modern musicals being about as embarrassingly bad as they come (the nadir being Christopher Columbus' deplorable Rent), it's good to stop and take stock of the golden days of the movie musical. One of the splashy musical's most prominent heroes was Busby Berkeley, a choreographer who knew a lot about dance and even more about subtext. Through both his Gold Diggers pictures, Dames, 42nd Street, and Wonder Bar, you can see his dance style saying as much about the story as it is acting as a subversive agent. However, it never got so sly and perverse as it did in Lloyd Bacon's exceptional Footlight Parade.

In his finest non-dramatic role, James Cagney plays Chester Kent, a stage musical director who turns into a prologue director when silent pictures go all talkie. Prologues are lavish musical numbers they put on before and in between films, and Kent is the best in the business at them. When the possibility to sign a 40-theater deal comes up, Kent goes nutty and must rush out three ace prologues in three days. Keep in mind; this is all while dealing with his contemptible fiancée, Vivian (Carole Dodd), his loyal, loving assistant, Nan (Joan Blondell), two business partners who are ripping him off, and a spy in his dance company that is stealing his ideas. And then there are the two main leads that are falling for each other (sweetly played by Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler).

Continue reading: Footlight Parade Review

Mighty Joe Young (1949) Review


Good
16 years after King Kong, folks figured that people had forgotten what Kong's claymation effects looked like (hell, there'd been a World War in there!), so they figured they'd trot them out again. The story's about the same, too: A pet gorilla is brought back from Africa (this time with his owner/caretaker (Terry Moore), and exploited in a vaudeville act. In fact, this is the film's best moment, which gives us some drunks who first throw a bottle at Joe's head, then get him wasted. Other than that, the film is largely a retread that you may not find overly compelling.

The Roaring Twenties Review


Very Good
A gangster flick of the bootlegging/Prohibition ilk, this complicated tale starts in the trenches of World War I with stars Cagney and Bogart fighting the good fight, then finding nothing waiting for them when they return home. They turn to crime, with mixed success. A love story feels a bit tacked on, but ultimately the film is most notable for being the last film of the 1930s gangster era, a genre which wouldn't be revived again for close to a decade.

Going My Way Review


Good
What's the point of this? Unsure, but in 1944 Bing Crosby dancing and prancing -- as a priest -- must have been a welcome respite from the War. Best Picture? Wow. They had cynics back then, didn't they? Father O'Malley (Crosby) prefers a baseball jersey to his priest's cloth, but more than anything the man loves to sing. Countless excuses (including an urchin's boys' choir) arise to allow for said singing, despite the curmudeonly oversight of Father Fitzgibbon (Barry Fitzgerald). Other sappy movies of the era (It's a Wonderful Life comes to mind) have held up over the years. Going My Way, sadly, has not.

Mystery Of The Wax Museum Review


Very Good
Bet ya didn't know that the "original" House of Wax was a remake! Here's the real original (in fact, it was a play even before this), a 1933 film that is strikingly similar to the Vincent Price horror film, but which also borrows heavily from then-popular vampire movies. Lionel Atwill plays the Price part, but Fay Wray is more memorable as the wannabe umshoe who's on the case of the local wax museum and why its wax figures have an uncanny resemblance to the recently dead. Made in early, two-strip Technicolor.

Boy Meets Girl Review


Very Good
Watch for Ronald Reagan in a small role in this late 1930s screwball comedy that centers around a movie studio, two oddball writers (Cagney and O'Brien), and an unwed mother (Wilson) with her baby Happy. Happy's rise to superstardom is amusing, provided you can keep up with Cagney's mile-a-minute mouth. But Wilson is just plain grating as the ditzy blonde, her voice reaching into octaves meant only for dogs.
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