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Greetings, and welcome to VIEWING THE CLASSICS. Here you'll find capsule reviews of vintage movies from the early days of cinema through the 1970s, with a special emphasis on sci-fi, horror, and mystery movies. Be sure to check out the Pages links, where you can find a Film Index of all my reviews, links to the reviews organized by cast members, directors, and other contributors, and links to my reviews of the films of talented young director Joshua Kennedy.

I also cover vintage television at my sister site, CLASSICS ON THE TUBE , so please feel free to check that out as well.

Thanks for visiting!


Friday, August 28, 2015

Donovan's Brain (1953)

Starring Lew Ayres, Gene Evans, Nancy Davis, Steve Brodie, Tom Powers
Directed by Felix Feist
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

After failing to save a wealthy man's life, a scientist steals his brain for further research, unsuspecting of the power it will soon wield over him.

One of several film adaptations of Hollywood screenwriter Curt Siodmak's novel of the same name, this is probably the best of the bunch, featuring a strong performance by Ayres as the kindly scientist whose mind is taken over by the brain and transformed into a ruthless industrialist.  Gene Evans and future First Lady Nancy Davis (Reagan) are good in supporting roles, and Feist and crew cleverly expand the brain's size when it's advancing its evil agenda, and shrink it back down when dormant, accompanied by appropriate sound effects.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)

Starring Richard Carlson, Julia Adams, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno, Nestor Paiva
Directed by Jack Arnold
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

An expedition on the Amazon river in search of an ancient fossil comes across a missing link between man and fish whose attacks turn deadly.

One of Universal Picture's "classic monsters," although he came decades after Dracula, Frankenstein, and the rest, the Creature From The Black Lagoon makes a memorable debut in this picture, well-directed by Arnold.  The highlight of the film is the impressive creature makeup which looks great whether the beast is swimming underwater or stalking its victims on land, but the production also boasts a strong cast, and impressive underwater photography.  It's a genuine sci-fi classic which proved popular enough to spawn two sequels.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Invisible Invaders (1959)

Starring John Agar, Jean Byron, Philip Tonge, Robert Hutton, John Carradine
Directed by Edward L. Cahn
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

Invisible aliens from the moon with the power to possess the bodies of the dead launch an invasion of Earth, while a nuclear scientist labors to find a defense against their attacks.

Although the story borders on the ludicrous, and the alien attacks are primarily composed of a generous sampling of stock footage, this film has been a long-time favorite of mine, with distinguished actors Tonge and Carradine lending it a certain sense of credibility despite the low-budget trappings.  Although the special effects are low budget as well, they're unique and have a certain charm, as when the invisible creatures are represented by mounds of earth moving on their own accompanied by fearsome growls on the soundtrack.  As long as you don't take the film too seriously, you'll have a good time.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Hand Of Death (1962)

Starring John Agar, Paula Raymond, Steve Dunne, Roy Gordon, John Alonzo
Directed by Gene Nelson
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A scientist trying to perfect a nerve gas that will eliminate the need for nuclear weapons has an accident that turns him into a grotesque murdering monster.

Not much of substance here, but I still found the film to be a fun and entertaining sci-fi/horror potboiler, with Agar as always a fine lead for this type of picture.  Although the first half of the film is more interesting then the second, which turns into a a standard "monster on the run" outing, the creature makeup is very good, and composer Sonny Burke adds an effective and eerie score.  The picture's also of interest for others in the cast, including future "Eddie Munster" Butch Patrick, "Three Stooges" veteran Joe Besser, and John Alonzo, who would later become an award-winning cinematographer.