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Ziegfeld Follies Review


Good
Who knew they made clip shows into movies? Ziegfeld Follies is two hours of skits, songs, dances, and jokes from the dying days of vaudeville, brought to us by a who's-who of yesteryear performers. The film opens, believe it or not, with a deceased Florenz Ziegfeld, looking down from heaven, dreaming about his perfect variety show. What follows is that dream, put to film.

With a tagline like "The Greatest Production Since The Birth Of Motion Pictures," you get a little something like the unmanageable monstrosity that Follies ultimately becomes. Structured as a series of unrelated vignettes, directed by different people (not to mention that screenwriting credit list), it's ultimately just a jumble of parts that add up to less than a whole movie.

Continue reading: Ziegfeld Follies Review

Trouble In Paradise Review


Good
Cute and quaint, perfectly befitting Trouble in Paradise's 1932 origins. Ernst Lubitsch directs this little number about a conman and con-woman who together decide to swindle a wealthy woman out of her birthright. Man falls for the lady, though... will he be able to go through with it all? Well, that wouldn't be very warmhearted, would it? Seventy years later, the movie suffers from a massive number of jokes that no longer work. A couple of visual gags are still on target and the acting is swell, but on the whole the story is too simple, too flat, and too uninteresting to stand the test of time.

The Shop Around The Corner Review


Excellent
Very cute and clever love/hate story, set in 1930s Budapest (for some reason), about a pair of store employees who fall in love over a pen pal correspondence, but despise each other in real life. Funny and timeless. Jimmy Stewart is fantastic.

Continue reading: The Shop Around The Corner Review

Heaven Can Wait (1943) Review


Weak
The premise at first seems quite a nice one. Henry Van Cleeve (Don Ameche, looking prematurely aged but still dapper in evening wear) comes down a staircase into a cavernous, Art Deco-inspired office where he is being interviewed by a dandy fellow referred to as His Excellency (Laird Cregar). Pretty soon it's clear Henry is actually dead, His Excellency is in fact Satan, and Henry is, for reasons that it will take the rest of the movie to explain, lobbying to be granted admission to Hades. Pressed for grievous offences or mortal sins, Henry can only say, "My whole life was one continuous misdemeanor."

Putting his lead foot first, director Ernst Lubitsch saddles his story with a script that never properly uses its complete potential. Henry feels that as part of his interview process, he must go through the story of his life, which would have generally been a decent idea, except that he led a pretty uninspiring one. Growing up in the mid-to-late 19th century, Henry is swaddled in privilege from the get-go. The scion of a wealthy family residing in a Fifth Avenue mansion, he becomes a general ne'er do well at quite a young age, something which the film (or at least his recounting) tries to blame on the effects of the women in his life (mother = too controlling, French maid = too permissive). By the time Ameche appears again as his younger self in the 1890s, his playboy ways have just been (supposedly) swept away by his having fallen in love with a beautiful woman whose name he doesn't know. Problem is, when he finally finds out the identity of the woman - Martha Strabel (Gene Tierney), of the Kansas City Strabels, who made their fortune in the meatpacking business - it turns out she's already betrothed to his stiff and deadly dull cousin Albert (Allyn Joslyn). Being of thin moral fiber anyway, Henry elopes with her. His carousing appears hard to put behind him, however, and 10 years later, Martha is ready for a divorce.

Continue reading: Heaven Can Wait (1943) Review

Suspicion Review


Excellent
Hitchcock's Suspicion is vintage a Hitch mystery, a whodunnit that's more did-he-do-it than anything else.

Cary Grant is his dashing usual self in this outing, a handsome devil who's just a bit too smarmy for his own good. He's got a history of womanizing, gambling, and dodgy business deals, but he nonetheless catches the eye of the mildly mousy but very wealthy Joan Fontaine, who immediately swoons for him. Almost immediately, they marry, and Fontaine promptly starts to suspect ulterior motives -- namely that Cary's going to kill her and/or good friend "Beaky" (the inimitable Nigel Bruce) for insurance money or other financial gain.

Continue reading: Suspicion Review

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