Friday, July 17, 2015

The Case Of The Stuttering Bishop (1937)

Starring Donald Woods, Ann Dvorak, Anne Nagel, Linda Perry, Craig Reynolds
Directed by William Clemens
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

Attorney Perry Mason is handed a new case by a stuttering bishop, who leads him to the discovery that the heir of a wealthy magnate is an imposter.

A departure of sorts from the other Perry Mason films of the 1930s, this installment feels more like a straight adaptation of Erle Stanley Gardner's novel, with none of the humor and wisecracks found in the Mason films starring Warren William and Ricardo Cortez, although a boastful hotel detective does provide some comic relief.  It's a well put together mystery, and Woods and Dvorak make fine leads.  The picture's not quite as entertaining as some of the other Perry Mason films, but it's a worthwhile production.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dr. Who And The Daleks (1965)

Starring Peter Cushing, Roy Castle, Jennie Linden, Roberta Tovey, Barrie Ingham
Directed by Gordon Flemyng
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

Doctor Who and his companions travel through time and space to a world at war between the peaceful Thals and the evil Daleks.

The first of two feature films adapted from the Doctor Who television serial, this one's not quite as fun as its followup, Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., but is still an entertaining adventure.  Cushing is fine as the brilliant if forgetful doctor, but the screenplay affords a little too much dialogue to the slow-talking robotic-voiced Daleks, who are sometimes difficult to understand.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed the picture, which boasts good production design and a fine music score.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Kongo (1932)

Starring Walter Huston, Lupe Velez, Conrad Nagel, Virginia Bruce, C. Henry Gordon
Directed by William Cowen
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A white man in the African jungle, consumed with hate after being crippled by another man, plots an elaborate revenge on him through his innocent daughter.

A sound remake of the classic silent Lon Chaney film, West of Zanzibar, this is a good jungle picture with good performances, notably from Huston in the lead, who excels in displaying his character's cruelty but also his grief and compassion in the film's final act.  The filmmakers should also be credited with some strong visual trickery as Huston wins over the jungle natives with some impressive magic routines.  As with most jungle pictures, there is some racist dialogue but not as much as I expected.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Hidden Hand (1942)

Starring Craig Stevens, Elisabeth Fraser, Julie Bishop, Willie Best, Frank Wilcox
Directed by Ben Stoloff
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A mad killer escapes from an insane asylum, and heads for his family estate, where his sister plans to enlist his help in dealing with her greedy heirs.

Although all the usual elements of an Old Dark House thriller are here, the film's lacking any real mystery or suspense, since we know who the killer is from the start of the picture.  Nevertheless, familiar character actor Milton Parsons makes a good boogeyman with crazed eyes and a soft-spoken voice, and his eerie stare from inside a coffin or triggering a deadly trap door is quite effective.  Unfortunately, the rest of the cast fails to make the same impact, with the screenplay adding little detail to their characters, instead focusing on stereotypes played by Willie Best and Kam Tong.  Still, the movie's worth seeing for Parson's performance.