Henry Blanke

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Deception (1946) Review


Weak
Three big stars (or rather, two big stars and Paul Henreid) can't overact their way out of this mess, a noirish tale about musicians and egomania that's long on talk and short on substance. Deception does prove one thing, though: Even the "classics" aren't always all that classic.

The Fountainhead Review


Excellent
Ayn Rand's own adaptation of her highly-regarded (and extremely thick) book. While I haven't read the novel (yet--it's in my stack), the film seems faithful to her work and is certainly faithful to her spirit. Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal (in her first film) do great work and have no trouble with the objectivist mentality. In the end, all questions are answered but one: What the heck is The Fountainhead? (Turns out it's a building. D'oh!)

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.

The Maltese Falcon Review


Excellent
The proof that some films are simply immune to satire or the wear and tear of time is fully contained in the sharp little diamond of cinema that is John Huston's 1941 version of The Maltese Falcon. (Dashiell Hammett's novel was actually filmed twice before, under the same title in 1931 and as Satan Met a Lady in 1936 with Bette Davis.) All the recognizable private detective flick elements are here, from the wisecracking P.I. himself to the femme fatale, scurrilous mugs who are too quick with their guns and too slow with their brains, and the McGuffin itself, a 400-year old statue of inestimable value. But even though these stock devices have become so well-worn over the intervening years with mockery or tribute, this remains a highly entertaining thing of beauty, done with skill and economy, not to mention smarts: none of which are things much in evidence today.

Smarts is ultimately what separates Bogart's Sam Spade as clearly from the rest of the characters in Maltese Falcon just as it separates the film itself from most of its inferior imitators. Spade is the eagle-eyed watcher, a calloused and borderline morally indifferent student of humanity who seems to get his kicks tossing verbal banana peels out for the more dim-witted to trip themselves up on. He has plenty of opportunity for such sparrings, dropped as he is into a mess of scam-artists and treasure hunters violently turning San Francisco upside down as they hunt for a long-lost jewel-studded falcon supposedly once given by the crusading Knights Hospitaller to the Holy Roman Emperor in exchange for the island of Malta. The world around Spade -- a sort of aloof knight errant in fedora and sharp suit -- is one of manipulation and lies, stupidity, and the occasional cleverness dulled by unlimited greed.

Continue reading: The Maltese Falcon Review

Deception Review


Weak
Three big stars (or rather, two big stars and Paul Henreid) can't overact their way out of this mess, a noirish tale about musicians and egomania that's long on talk and short on substance. Deception does prove one thing, though: Even the "classics" aren't always all that classic.

The Life Of Emile Zola Review


Excellent
Suprisingly strong period piece, this Oscar winner features Paul Muni as the celebrated French author and crusader Emile Zola, a man who, between writing government-bashing novels, found time to free a wrongfully convicted army officer from prison and exile -- even if he had to be convicted of libel in the process. Muni gets lost in his role and does some amazing work. The film is misleading -- the "life" of Zola is barely touched on; it's his final years and legal skirmishes that get all the screen time -- but that's a wise choice; this look at how screwed up the French legal system is can be harrowing.

The Fountainhead Review


Excellent
Ayn Rand's own adaptation of her highly-regarded (and extremely thick) book. While I haven't read the novel (yet--it's in my stack), the film seems faithful to her work and is certainly faithful to her spirit. Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal (in her first film) do great work and have no trouble with the objectivist mentality. In the end, all questions are answered but one: What the heck is The Fountainhead?

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.

The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre Review


Essential
It's too bad that one of the greatest films of all time is remembered for a line ("We don't need no stinkin' badges!") that doesn't appear in the film. (It's actually, "We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges!" Must be something about Bogart movies and misquoted lines...)

It's also too bad that one of cinema's great adventures is often forgotten as one of cinema's great tragedies, too.

Continue reading: The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre Review

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Henry Blanke Movies

The Maltese Falcon Movie Review

The Maltese Falcon Movie Review

The proof that some films are simply immune to satire or the wear and tear...

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The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Movie Review

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Movie Review

It's too bad that one of the greatest films of all time is remembered for...

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