Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Capsule Reviews 12/21/11 - Mystery

Great Hospital Mystery
Uneven comedy mystery involving bank robbery and murder around a big hospital. It starts with a parolee getting carjacked outside of a bank robbery. In order to hide out he goes to a friend in a hospital and they decide to fake his death. From there we end up of misdirection and murder.

A good mystery is under cut by a boneheaded nurse who has been inserted for comic relief. She's so loud that you tire of her nonsense instantly. I liked it but I wish it was better and less silly.

(The film spawned two sequels)

Preview Murder Case (1936)
Someone first threatens and then kills people connected with one film at a film studio. Reginald Reginald Denny investigates.

Robert Florey sends up life in a film studio in an okay murder mystery. It's more intriguing for the throw away stuff then the main plot which never seems to be what Florey is interested in.

Watching the film I was shocked at how retro the film felt. It seemed more like a film from 1931 or 1932 as opposed 1936. There is a denseness to to the staging with everyone all crowded around the center of the frame. You got this in early sound films because of the mics- but not in 1936.

It's good but it's not quite great.

Secret Six (1931)
The title sounds like a super hero movie but it's not.

Its about a Victor McLaughlin who works in the stock yards in Chicago. His buddy Ralph Bellamy brings him into the bootlegging business where he excels and eventually takes over for Bellamy. Into the mix comes Jean Harlow, Johnny Mack Brown, and some guy named Clark Gable, who impressed MGM so much they made him into a superstar (actually watching him he did it on his own- they just signed him). Its a crime pays until the final fade out tale that Hollywood used to do so well.

This is a dense potboiler of a film. Its full of great characters and sets and lines and is super meaty. The trouble is it's almost too much. Actually it is too much and too knowing. This is a big budget picture and it knows it, wearing it on it's sleeve. It's the sort of attitude that kind of gets in the way since it has too polished.

I like the film, though the film to me is more curio for the casting and the filmmaking. rarely have I ever seen a film quite like this (the title refers to a band of good citizens who hide their identity to trip up our antihero.

Definitely worth a look. Its something you'll probably like more than love and which you'll sing it's technical and casting praises more than it's story

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