Friday, May 27, 2011

Capsule Reviews 5/27/11

Lucky Devils(1933)

The story of some Hollywood stunt men. beginning with a great bank robbery set piece that turns out to be for a movie, the film then shifts gears to tell the story of the stuntmen and their women and their fears. The film stars William (Hopalong Cassidey) Boyd as Skipper, the leader of the bunch. Filled with great stunt set pieces this is neat little treat that is unlike any other behind the scenes film for a number of reasons. First off the film seems to be reasonably realistic with the way films were shot back in the early 30's. Granted there is the notion that things are shot straight through, but there is something about what it shows matching up with some of the tales I've heard about the early days of film making. Another thing that's atypical is that the film is about stunt men,. I don't think it was until the late 1970's that stuntmen really took the front and center as subjects for films.

The Body Vanished (1939)
Short British programmer about the death of a man who's body goes missing when the police arrive. They are helped by a Scotland Yard detective on vacation in the village. How he pieces together the crime, of who is dead and why is the film. An amusing film that runs only 45 minutes (it was a quota film) it does what it needs to entertainingly and gets off which is more than anyone could ask.... (The quota films were short little films just over the minimum feature length of around 45 minutes, made to fill the British Government demand that a certain percentage of films shown be British. There are many wonderful little films of this length and I'll be doing some of them soon.)

Phantom Shot(1947)
British murder mystery with the subtitle "Crime Quiz". The plot of the film concerns the murder of of a hated squire. The twist in the film is that the police detective in charge with the case speaks directly to the audience and challenges us to work out who done it along with him. He then gives us all the information he has before he begins questioning the suspects. It's a good little film running slightly less than an hour that reminds me of the Ellery Queen TV series from the 1970's which had Queen pausing to ask us if we know who did it. In this case we are brought in at the start. While the murder itself isn't anything special the fact that we are in on the investigation makes this a neat little film. Worth a look see.

I should point out that all three of today's films are available from Sinister Cinema.

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