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The Thin Man Goes Home Review


Good
In this fifth installment of the Thin Man series, the Charleses leave New York for some rest and relaxation at Nick's parents' home in the small town of Sycamore Springs (boo!) but leave precious little Nick Jr. at boarding school (yay!). Coming a decade after the original film, this time out, William Powell and Myrna Loy are as devastatingly debonair as ever, though it doesn't stop them from playing at a little physical comedy when needed. Loy's willowy gorgeousness adds to, instead of detracts from, her comic timing, while Powell remains the coolest character in just about any room, even with that big Walter Matthau-size schnozz and ridiculous moustache.

While it would likely have been heretical to the characters' creator Dashiell Hammett, the couple seems to have given up liquor, with Nick compulsively nipping at a flask of nonalcoholic cider. This doesn't stop Nora from mistrusting his ability to stay on the wagon, and wishing maybe that he would ("Sneaking off like that and getting drunk ... without me."). The film eases ever so slowly into the mystery that we know is coming, following the couple up to the town on the town, and setting up Nick's relationship with his stern and disapproving father. The mystery, which involves a horrid painting of a windmill that everyone wants to get their hands on, Maltese Falcon-like, and a townful of neighbors who keep stopping by, wondering if Nick is working on a case. He'd prefer not to and would rather sit in a hammock with his cider jug and reading Nick Carter detective stories, but he gets sort of goaded into it once the stranger shows up on Nick's parents' doorstep and gets shot before he can get a full sentence out.

Continue reading: The Thin Man Goes Home Review

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

My Man Godfrey Review


Essential
Director Gregory La Cava's creation is one very good reason to walk right on by the "New Releases" section of your local video store. Make your way over to "Classics," and take home the original 1936 version of My Man Godfrey. This masterpiece screwball comedy, based on Eric Hatch's short novel 1011 Fifth Avenue, is a treasure.

There's more to Godfrey "Duke" Parke (William Powell) than meets the eye. When Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard) transforms this seemingly typical "forgotten man" from a city dump resident to her family's butler, the mystery begins to unravel. Discovered by Irene as the last item in an aristocratic scavenger hunt, Godfrey soon finds out that the chaos of a garbage pile is serene compared to the Bullock household. Rebuffed in her attempt to use him to win the scavenger hunt herself, Irene's sibling-rival Cornelia Bullock (Gail Patrick) plans to make his life miserable as revenge. Mother Angelica Bullock (Alice Brady) is a perfect role model for her spoiled rotten daughters, the three combining to spend every cent of Alexander Bullock's (Eugene Pallette) fortune and patience.

Continue reading: My Man Godfrey Review

Shadow Of The Thin Man Review


Good
In this fourth installment of The Thin Man, we find our heroes now with a growing Nick Jr. (who has to be kept on a leash), and somewhat less drunk than in previous installments. I suppose this would make them unfit parents, no? The story is generally fun (though, in keeping with other episodes, difficult to follow or fathom), about a murdered jockey and the machinations in ferreting out the killer. Unfortunately, the Charleses are off-cmera for much too long for my tastes, and when they are on camera, they're sober. Crikey!

The Great Ziegfeld Review


Weak
Here's a textbook case of how a film can lose its appeal over the years.

Florenz Ziegfeld (played by William Powell) was a real man responsible for creating Broadway as we know it. The three-hour opus traces nearly his entire life. He began by producing carnival-class shows, low-rent vaudeville acts designed to appeal to the common man -- wrestling, animal acts, and the like. Bored with philistine work, Ziegfeld raised lots of money to build a big show, starting with Broadway's Follies and culminating in the production of the classic Show Boat. Along the way, Ziegfeld loses everything more than once, owing to his addiction to gambling, but he always fights his way back to the top.

Continue reading: The Great Ziegfeld Review

After The Thin Man Review


Very Good
Possibly a bit better than the original Thin Man, aided by an even drier script and the appearance of James Stewart (though in a bit of a strange role). It's more hijinks for Nick and Nora this time around, as they return home to San Francisco and get caught up in a murder mystery, which even lands Nora in the pokey. Cute, though like its predecessor, more than a little dated.

The Thin Man Goes Home Review


Good
In this fifth installment of the Thin Man series, the Charleses leave New York for some rest and relaxation at Nick's parents' home in the small town of Sycamore Springs (boo!) but leave precious little Nick Jr. at boarding school (yay!). Coming a decade after the original film, this time out, William Powell and Myrna Loy are as devastatingly debonair as ever, though it doesn't stop them from playing at a little physical comedy when needed. Loy's willowy gorgeousness adds to, instead of detracts from, her comic timing, while Powell remains the coolest character in just about any room, even with that big Walter Matthau-size schnozz and ridiculous moustache.

While it would likely have been heretical to the characters' creator Dashiell Hammett, the couple seems to have given up liquor, with Nick compulsively nipping at a flask of nonalcoholic cider. This doesn't stop Nora from mistrusting his ability to stay on the wagon, and wishing maybe that he would ("Sneaking off like that and getting drunk ... without me."). The film eases ever so slowly into the mystery that we know is coming, following the couple up to the town on the town, and setting up Nick's relationship with his stern and disapproving father. The mystery, which involves a horrid painting of a windmill that everyone wants to get their hands on, Maltese Falcon-like, and a townful of neighbors who keep stopping by, wondering if Nick is working on a case. He'd prefer not to and would rather sit in a hammock with his cider jug and reading Nick Carter detective stories, but he gets sort of goaded into it once the stranger shows up on Nick's parents' doorstep and gets shot before he can get a full sentence out.

Continue reading: The Thin Man Goes Home Review

Mister Roberts Review


Very Good
A universally overrated diversion, Mister Roberts is a pleasant diversion but not a lot more. The story of the most boring ship in the WWII-era Navy (a lowly cargo ship), we find its denizens desperate for action, resorting to pulling practical jokes for kicks. Among them are Jack Lemmon (who won an Oscar for a trivial role) and Henry Fonda, who proves unilaterally that he was not made for comedy, but James Cagney's crazed captain steals the show. The last half-hour of the film is depressing.

Another Thin Man Review


Good
The third Thin Man movie finds the series struggling a bit as it searches for new ideas, while also taking a rather mean turn of events. For starters, Asta now has a sibling -- a (human) baby -- to distract the Charleses. But never mind the kid, the couple (trio) has a new mystery to deal with: A military colonel who's being threatened by a just-outta-prison man from his past is sure he's going to be killed. 20 minutes later, he is killed. Whodunnit? Well, our obvious suspect may just be a bit too obvious, if you know what I mean.

Unfortunately, the mystery here is random and a bit obtuse, and the jokes just aren't as funny with all the ultra-dark goings on.

Continue reading: Another Thin Man Review

Libeled Lady Review


Excellent
How big of a star was Jean Harlow? In 1936 she got top billing here, despite -- by far -- having less screen time than her three big-name co-stars.

As a matter of fact, Harlow is the least interesting part of Libeled Lady (she's neither the libeler nor the lady in question), but that doesn't make it a fun little movie. The story is a little tricky, so try to keep up: Socialite Connie Allenbury (Myrna Low) is the subject of Warren's (Spencer Tracy) gossipmongering in newsprint. He says she's a homewrecker, but she disagrees and sues. Warren's busted for making stuff up, but he devises a way out: He'll have friend Bill (William Powell) impersonate The Perfect Guy and get in good with her father, eventually proving that Connie is a homewrecker after all. Oh, but Bill's not married. Warren solves that by having his own girlfriend Gladys (Harlow) marry Bill for the sake of convenience.

Continue reading: Libeled Lady Review

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The Great Ziegfeld Movie Review

The Great Ziegfeld Movie Review

Here's a textbook case of how a film can lose its appeal over the years.Florenz...

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