Samuel Bischoff

Samuel Bischoff

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A Slight Case Of Murder (1938) Review


Excellent
Edward G. Robinson hadn't become a caricature by 1938, yet he had already figured out how to ham up his Little Caesar gangster persona. Here we have Robinson in one of his greatest roles ever, satirizing himself in the post-Prohibition era as he tries to figure out how a bootlegger should go straight. Referring to himself in the third person, he contends with his daughter marrying a cop, "legit" beer that tastes terrible (no one dares to tell him the truth), and old enemies who tend to die in his home. What to do? Forget the machinations of the plot. Robinson isn't even trying that hard and he comes off as utterly hysterical.

Texas Review


Excellent
With a name like Texas, one expects a grand, sweeping film about the old west, one of those epics about settlers and claim stakers and, ah, you get the drift. Texas is really none of that. At its core it's a relatively straightforward genre movie, and a small one: Two ex-Confederate soldiers (Glenn Ford and William Holden) head to Texas to make their fortune, and soon they're on opposite sides of the law. (The plot eventually revolves around a cattle drive, a corrupt beef baron, and a plot to derail the whole thing.) Throw in Edgar Buchanan as the town dentist -- also of questionable morals -- and you've got a tiny hit that's surprisingly very, very funny. On purpose.

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.

Angels With Dirty Faces Review


Very Good
Casablanca director Michael Curtiz turned in this pioneering entry in 1938 -- part of the budding street urchin genre that posed the question of what society would do with its troubled kids. Starring the Dead End Kids (a group of hooligans akin to the Litle Rascals, only meaner), their story is filtered through the eyes of two men. Rocky (James Cagney in another career-defining gangster performance) is fresh out of jail and back on the streets where he hopes to make some cash. Father Jerry (Pat O'Brien) is a priest and boyhood friend of Rocky's, who's managed to turn toward the path of good. Oh, and Humphrey Bogart makes an appearance as a scheming attorney through into the mix.

How these three men interrelate is the main story line, while the hijinks of the kids stands as a continuous backdrop to the action. Sometimes it's fierce, but just as often it's plodding and uninspiring. The underlying social commentary -- how children can turn good or bad depending on how they are raised, a controversial idea in the 1930s -- doesn't get much of a chance to shine, which may be a problem of too many stars, too many precocious child actors, and not enough legroom for all of them to stretch.

Continue reading: Angels With Dirty Faces Review

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Angels With Dirty Faces Movie Review

Angels With Dirty Faces Movie Review

Casablanca director Michael Curtiz turned in this pioneering entry in 1938 -- part of the...

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