Thursday, May 31, 2012

UNCERTAIN GLORY (1944)

Less excited than I expected WWII story about Errol Flynn as a prisoner in Nazi-controlled Paris who is literally walking out to the guillotine when an air raid blows up a bunch of shit and he escapes. After a brief taste of freedom he's tracked down and apprehended by an Inspector. During the train ride back to Paris the Inspector reads a newspaper story about how a saboteur blew up a nearby bridge and if the saboteur isn't caught within three days the Nazis are going to execute 100 innocent men. Flynn preys on the Inspector's patriotism and tells him that he'll turn himself in as the saboteur in order to free the innocent men. He's just saying this in order to find an convenient moment to escape. How noble. But of course you would have to be a complete fucking idiot not to expect Flynn to have turn of heart by the end of the film, most likely because of a beautiful girl. And...

That's exactly what happens. How exciting. I was mildly entertained by Flynn just because I'm a fan of his acting style, but even at 102 minutes this movie seemed like it went on for like 150. I own it, because it's part of the "Errol Flynn Adventures" box set, but while I'll definitely be revisiting OBJECTIVE, BURMA! and EDGE OF DARKNESS,UNCERTAIN GLORY will never ever see that light of day again. I hope it enjoys it's spot on the shelf.

Skip it with a vengeance and take a nap instead.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

THE SHAGGY DOG (1959)

"That's ridiculous. My son is not a werewolf! He's nothing more than just a big, baggy, stupid-looking shaggy dog!"

Retired mailman Fred MacMurray's teenage son Tommy Kirk is always getting into shit.  Last week, he mistakenly reported a new school employee to the cops because the fellow looked like a wanted poster Tommy saw at the post office.  Just this morning, he blasted a rocket through the roof of their house, but that's nothing compared to what happened when he read aloud the inscription on a cursed ring: he turned into the neighbor's dog!  What the fuck?  That doesn't even make sense, but who cares, I just want to be entertained.  And for an old Disney movie from 1959, THE SHAGGY DOG is pretty good.  I mean, you're not going to hurt yourself laughing, but it's still an entertaining film.

The whole switching-into-a-dog thing is never fully explained and throughout the film, Tommy randomly switches back and forth to be a dog without any rhyme or reason.  At first, it's kinda funny and he gets into all kinds of different hijinks, like turning into a dog during a dance or having his little brother trying to put a dog collar on him, but then things take a darker turn towards the end when Tommy (in dog form) discovers that his neighbor is a foreign spy!

Overall, the story is completely nuts, but the acting is good, the special effects are nice and the pace moves along quickly.  Recommended for fans of older family movies. I was especially delighted by the unexpected appearance of Strother Martin.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

EDGE OF DARKNESS (1943)

The small Norwegian fishing village of Trollness (pop. 800) has been under Nazi control for the last two years. The citizens have tried a few small things to undermine the Germans (ruining the canned fish coming out of the cannery, starting a few fires, etc.), but without weapons they have no hope of overtaking the 150 Nazi soldiers.

Errol Flynn and Ann Sheridan both live in Trollness and are lovers. Flynn is a fisherman and looked upon as the unofficial leader of the Rebellion. Sheridan is the daughter of the only doctor in town and he disapproves in her involvement with the Resistance Movement. To complicate matters even further, her brother and uncle are in cahoots with the Nazis. Also the young German commandant of Trollness is a go-getter and wants to make a name for himself by crushing the Rebels once and for all.

If you were expecting EDGE OF DARKNESS to be overly melodramatic and sentimental just because if came from the early 40's you'd be partly correct, it had a few sappy moments, but at the same time it didn't shy away at all from showing the Nazi's just straight up mowing down town folk with machine gun fire. Also in the most shocking part of the film it strongly implies that Sheridan was raped (off screen) by the Nazi's!!! Holy fook!

Good acting, exciting story (it kinda reminds me of Steinbeck's "The Moon is Down"), asshole Nazi's, nice scenery, plenty of action (and one awesome explosion stunt), a young Ruth Gordon, piles of dead bodies, blood soaked shot of a guy's head after committing suicide with a gun...I say check it out. It's not the most action-packed WWII movie ever, but the story is intriguing and I enjoyed myself from beginning to end. I would love to see a remake.
Nancy Coleman from DESPERATE JOURNEY and Helmut Dantine from NORTHERN PURSUIT.

Look at how young Ruth Gordon is!