Dishonored Lady, 1947, b&w. Robert Stevenson (dir.), Hedy Lamarr, Dennis O’Keefe, John Loder, William Lundigan, Margaret Hamilton. 1:25.
Reviewed in May 2008 as part of another set; I didn’t watch it again. Here’s the review: Hedy Lamarr is a successful magazine editor by day, a love-’em-and-leave-’em type at night, and it’s killing her. She drops out, moves to Greenwich Village to paint, falls in love with a scientist in the same building (O’Keefe)—and can’t escape an old paramour. Murder ensues, with a solid attempt to frame her. The naïve scientist is disillusioned, but things work out. Fine drama, well acted. Downgraded for a noisy soundtrack, but still worth $1.25.
Whistle Stop, 1946. b&w. Léonide Moguy (dir.), George Raft, Ava Gardner, Victor McLaglen, Tom Conway, Jorja Curtright. 1:25 [1:21]
Not really a mystery, but an interesting film. A woman (Ava Gardner) who’s been a success in Chicago returns to her hometown—a whistle stop. She still owns a house there, to which she returns, greeted by the family she’s been renting it to—including the son, who’s an old flame who goes out every night drinking and (small-stakes) gambling and doesn’t seem to have a job. (The father’s the station master.) There’s also the suave and maybe overslick owner of a local bar & grill, who has a thing for the woman—and who doesn’t get along at all with the son (George Raft). Oh, and the son’s supposed to have another girlfriend, who he basically ignores in favor of the woman.
Various plot bits, various arguments, winding up with a botched burglary/murder effort involving the friendly bartender—and a real murder that’s an attempt to frame the son. Thanks to the bartender having superhuman abilities of a sort (I won’t give away the ending, but it’s a trifle implausible), it all works out.
And, oddly enough, it’s pretty good—even though the chemistry between Raft and Gardner isn’t there, Raft’s character isn’t particularly likable, and some of the plot doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. A bit missing here and there, but overall I’ll give it $1.50.
Dr. Kildare’s Strange Case, 1940, b&w. Harold S. Bucquet (dir.), Lew Ayres, Lionel Barrymore, Laraine Day, Shepperd Strudwick, Samuel S. Hinds, Walter Kingsford. 1:17 [1:15].
It’s a little tough to approach a 1940 medical mystery with millennial standards. Young Dr. Kildare’s brave move to save a patient who’s “lost his mind” while surviving a brain surgery that the patient explicitly refused (a different surgeon) by injecting him with a massive dose of insulin in the middle of the night…well, Malpractice City sounds about right. But these were more innocent times.
Good cast. Decent acting. Plots within plots within… It moves right along. Entertaining enough if you don’t start wincing. I’ll give it $1.25.
Poppies are Also Flowers (or Las Flores del Diablo), 1966, color. Terence Young (dir.), Omar Sharif, Senta Berger, Stephen Boyd, Yul Brynner, Angie Dickinson, Rita Hayworth, Trevor Howard, Trini Lopez, E.G. Marshall, Marcello Mastroianni, Anthony Quayle, Eli Wallach, Gilbert Roland, Grace Kelly, Harold Sakata, Hugh Griffith. 1:40 [1:34]
I spotted trouble right at the beginning, with a Serious Woman telling me how Important the drug problem was and how the UN was involved and how so much of it revolved around that innocent little flower with not much smell. Yes, that’s right, it’s a movie with a message. Also an all-star cast, presumably working for minimal wages because it’s a Message. Xerox sponsored it at the UN’s request.
Too bad it’s also not great. I would go so far as to say that much of it doesn’t make any sense, but that might be too strong. There’s lots of action, in the Iranian outlands (back when Iran was one of the Good Guys, ruled by a friendly despot), in Monaco, in France, on a cargo ship, on a yacht and finally on a train—but it seemed more helter-skelter than anything else. Maybe the missing six minutes would have helped.
The “color” didn’t help. I’m sure it was filmed in color, and sometimes there were some colors in what’s on the disc, mostly reds and browns, occasionally—very occasionally—pale greens and deep blues, maybe even once or twice a little yellow. But at times it was pure black-and-white and there was never either a bright color or a proper flesh tone: Time has not been kind to this flick. Oddly, other than the mostly-missing color, the print is excellent—full VHS quality.
Even given the earnestness, I can’t give it more than a mediocre $1.00.