The rare truly clever review

Background

When I watch old movies from the Mill Creek Entertainment megapacks–what used to appear in Cites & Insights as Offtopic Perspectives (and will continue to appear there, but with a Media label)–I deliberately write my own informal comments (a mini-review, if you will) before looking at any other comments on the film. Then I go to IMDB to check credits and original running length–and usually read some of the reviews of the movie (all of them unless there are more than 20 or so).

IMDB reviews include lots of ax-grinders and lots of purists–people who detest any John Wayne movie that’s not a Western or any Hitchcock movie that’s not a thriller, for example–and lots of people who appear to love any movie that involves light and movement, especially the cheaply-made ones with lousy acting and poor writing. (Purists also include those who treat any “noir” movie as pure magic and lump nearly all old black-and-white B-grade mysteries as noir.)

But sometimes…

Middle Ground

So yesterday I watched Convicted. The title makes no sense at all (especially following, as it does, two movies on the disc both about murder convictions and last-minute salvation), and that’s only the start of stuff that doesn’t make much sense in this movie that manages to combine short running length with what feels like enormous amounts of padding.

I went into this one predisposed to like it, because it’s set on a cruise ship (in 1931), and transportation mysteries–those set on trains, planes or ships–are usually fun and frequently interesting. This flick may have actually been filmed on a cruise ship, and certainly has lots and lots and lots of footage establishing cruise-ship aspects (including a number of short scenes on the ship’s bridge that do nothing whatsoever to forward the plot). Unfortunately, the mystery (other than the never-explained issues of why Mr. X and Ms. Y and Ms. Z and others feel the way about each other that they appear to–what the backstories are) doesn’t take up much of the picture and is wildly slapdash. Even after it’s “solved,” there’s another seven minutes of the ship coming into dock and a wholly absurd romantic plot point–this out of a flick that runs an hour or so.

Unusually, this movie had few (if any) defenders on IMDB. The overall average is 3.8 out of 10, and I think a reel of blank film would get at least a 3. But…

Foreground

“robinakaaly” from the United Kingdom was remarkably creative in his/her August 23, 2011 review. It begins:

This was an interesting documentary about life on an ocean liner in passage from New York to Los Angeles. There was footage of the scary looking passenger gangplanks, freight being loaded, and the side of the ship as she left harbour, with passengers on the ship and crowds on the quayside waving at each other. We see the funnel belching out smoke as if there were no Clean Air Acts (there weren’t then, of course).

and deals with the so-called mystery at the end:

We also get to meet several fictional passengers from the world of entertainment, and a criminal journalist. These characters, their lives, loves, criminal activities and gambling tended to get in the way of the examination of shipboard life.

I can’t link directly to this review; the set of reviews is here.

What I can say is this: Well played, robinakaaly, well played!

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