George Brent

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Baby Face Review


Very Good
Recent DVD releases have given movie buffs the wonderful opportunity to see what Hollywood was up to in the short period between the advent of the talkies and the imposition of the Hays Code, which banned most of the sex, violence, and fun in movies for three decades. The "pre-Code" movies made between about 1930 and 1934 can be quite shocking... and delightful.

Case in point: Baby Face, in which our man-eating heroine Lily (the incomparable Barbara Stanwyck), sleeps her way to wealth while leaving an impressive swath of wreckage in her wake. The Turner Classic Movies DVD actually comes with two cuts of the film: naughty and naughtier. Guess which one you should watch?

Continue reading: Baby Face Review

Jezebel Review


Good
Jezebel's southern Civil War-era setting and its brazen female lead make it seem a lot like Gone With the Wind, but this Bette Davis Best Actress-winner can't hold a candle to the successor which would arrive the following year. Davis is the draw here, playing a bachelorette who no one seems to be able to control -- and she of course is keen to keep it that way. The histrionics come across as quaint today, and even Davis's performance can't hold the film up all by its lonesome.

42nd Street Review


Excellent
Of Golden Age musicals, 42nd Street is about as close to the archetype as they come. It's about an hour of exposition as a big Broadway director puts on his last big show (as he's ill), and all manner of catastrophes befall him en route to opening night. Most notably in 42nd Street, his star breaks her ankle and has to be replaced by a chorus girl. Then comes the music and dancing, rapid fire. While "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" is the sentimental favorite musical number, it's the title song and dance number, about 20 minutes of insanity that takes place largely on an enormous lazy susan, that really gets things moving. Too bad it comes right at the end.

Dark Victory Review


OK
You know you're in trouble when such a classically tooled and sculpted weepie as 1939's Dark Victory - one that should require boxes of Kleenex and a couple hours of recuperation - doesn't even begin to wring out a tear until near the final act. What happens when a three-hankie picture just isn't that sad? You get Dark Victory.

The story is the sort of thing that could fuel a whole season or two of one of your better primetime soap operas: Idly wealthy Judith Traherne (Davis) is 23, single, and bereft of any cares besides what trainer to hire for her thoroughbred horses and exactly how many martinis to drink. Having complained of sight problems and headaches, Judith gets browbeaten into seeing Dr. Frederick Steele (George Brent), a renowned brain surgeon about two hours away from chucking his whole practice to go do medical research on his isolated Vermont farm. Steele takes about five minutes to figure out that Judith has a rare and extremely serious condition that needs to be operated on right away. After the operation, Steele tells Judith's friend Ann King (Geraldine Fitzgerald) that Judith will feel fine for a while, but in about ten months, her vision will start to go again and then she'll die, quite suddenly and painlessly. The two then do what any sensible people would: agree to keep the truth from Judith while arranging for her to marry Steele, whom she's fallen in love with.

Continue reading: Dark Victory Review

The Spiral Staircase Review


Good
Heralded as a noirish classic, The Spiral Staircase is terribly forced as a thriller. While the ubiquitous eye peeping through the wall (which belongs to a serial killer of "afflicted" women in the 1910s) is creepy, the bad guy can really only be one of two people in the pick. Dorothy McGuire does a fair job as the mute could-be-next victim, but overall the thrill of Spiral is largely gone.

Jezebel Review


Good
Jezebel's southern Civil War-era setting and its brazen female lead make it seem a lot like Gone With the Wind, but this Bette Davis Best Actress-winner can't hold a candle to the successor which would arrive the following year. Davis is the draw here, playing a bachelorette who no one seems to be able to control -- and she of course is keen to keep it that way. The histrionics come across as quaint today, and even Davis's performance can't hold the film up all by its lonesome.
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George Brent Movies

Baby Face Movie Review

Baby Face Movie Review

Recent DVD releases have given movie buffs the wonderful opportunity to see what Hollywood was...

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Dark Victory Movie Review

Dark Victory Movie Review

You know you're in trouble when such a classically tooled and sculpted weepie as 1939's...

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