Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cinecon 44 Film Festival Summary - The Rest of the Films, Shorts, and Cartoons I Saw

For full reviews and plot summaries of some of the films I saw screened at this year's Cinecon, go to label - Cinecon 44

Here's some comments on the rest of the films I saw this year -

Murder in Trinidad (1934) - Nigel Bruce as a detective who goes about with a monkey on his shoulder. While in the Tropics trying to solve a case involving a diamond smuggling ring, he and his young male assistant end up lurking about in a swamp full of creatures, not limited to a snake and a crocodile (both of which are shot to death by the men). So so film - I was actually quite drowsy during this one, so perhaps would like it better after a good night's sleep. Rating - 6/10 stars

The Case Against Brooklyn (1958) - TV police drama in style, this was screened with a very, very sharp, perfect print. With a fact-based story, told via voice-over narration - the film tells the tale of a team of undercover cops put on the case to get the dope on a horse-racing bookie ring being protected by cops. This film was pretty good. Rating - 7/10 stars

I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby (1940) - B-musical/comedy that happens to include two silent era Our Gang members - Johnny Downs and Ernie "Sunshine Sammy" Morrison. About a gangster (Broderick Crawford) who has written lyrics to a love song he hopes to put music to - all in devotion to his playground sweetie from childhood, "Sadie from PS 59". He partners up with a young composer (Johnny Downs) and the mob's involvement in this pretty much guarantees this song to be a big hit! This film was fun, light fare - boosted up by the performance of Jessie Ralph who appears as Brod Crawford's mother, one real tough mob Mama who doesn't let her son get away with anything (slapping him around as she says stuff like "didn't I tell you to always take your hat off when talking to a lady!"). Crawford is a hoot, as usual - but Jessie Ralph completely and totally steals this film! Rating - 6 to 7/10 stars

Sky High (1922) - Tom Mix western in 16mm and, unfortunately, run at the wrong speed because of a mechanical glitch with the projector. Set in the Grand Canyon, he's some sort of immigration Marshall who chases after smugglers and takes care of a young woman who gets stuck on the trail down to the bottom of the Canyon. Because of the really fast speed this ran, it was hard to read the title cards completely - so pretty hard to follow the story. I can't give this a rating.

House of Frankenstein (1944) - Forties monster movie - Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, and a Hunchback - all there. I just can't get into these sort of horror movies anymore - but I must say, though it's been a lot of years, this film must have been one I watched quite a bit as a kid/tween (I used to really like horror films then) - many scenes seemed familiar. Rating - 6/10 stars

Crazy House (1943) - Well, I guess the dud of Cinecon 44 for me (though not a super dud as it has moments). Olsen and Johnson are making a movie. Dumb. Perhaps this one could be better taken when accompanied by a couple of shots of whiskey or a nice stiff martini? Rating - 5/10 stars

Sing, Baby, Sing (1936) - Well, I hoped this thirties musical would be good - the audience seemed to love it, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. As a fan of Alice Faye, I would like to have seen way more of her in this (and how about more of a romantic interest for her, instead of a man sort of tacked on at the end) - and far, far less of the Ritz Brothers. The audience was going nuts with applause for these guys when this was screened at Cinecon, but - though I thought their dancing was good - I just find their weird humor grates on my nerves. About a pretty nightclub singer (Faye) who gets canned from her job in favor of the new rage, a society deb. Then, with the help of her agent, gets some well-needed newspaper publicity when a seriously drunken, famous ham actor (Adolph Menjou) decides she is "Juliet" to his "Romeo". Disappointing. Rating - 5 to 6/10 stars

The Sign of the Cucumber (1917) - Silent comedy short set in a Western town and telling the tale of Sheriff Bob who sports an odd birthmark that looks just like a cucumber on his left arm. Outlaw Red Nose Pete has a pal who is the sheriff's exact double - except no cucumber! The two bad men arrive in town with ideas of robbing the safe - a flop when it's said and done, only $4. Then with the sheriff tied to a tree, his double poses as the sheriff by sticking a real cucumber on his arm - he even goes so far as to try and marry the sheriff's girl, "Lovely Eva" (Eva Novak), at their wedding. An odd, silly short, full of slapstick - the end part with the guy riding to the rescue on an airborne mule was interesting. Fun.

Cartoon Centennials - Five vintage cartoons: (I sure hope the name of the first cartoon here doesn't put this site into the Google "safesearch" bad bin, I kid you not - the wrong combination of words bans a site when someone does a search with the SafeSearch setting on "strict filtering". My page on Carlyle Blackwell is in such a fix - I have no idea what words on the page has made this happen.) - - Puss n' Booty (1943) - Black and white cartoon about a cat addicted to eating the household canary when the rather dimwitted lady of the house is not looking. Five canaries gone - a new one is bought, but this canary is quite a bit smarter than the others as he gives that cat the ultimate comeuppance. - - Never Kick a Woman (1936) - Popeye cartoon in black and white. In which Popeye and Olive Oyl go into a weight-training place for women, run by a female Mae West impersonator wearing an early 70s looking outfit of short skirt and knee-high lace-up granny boots. She wiggles her hips and flirts with Popeye sparking Olive Oyl's jealousy. Olive Oyl proceeds to eat some of Popeye's spinach and beat up her rival - literally. Cute cartoon. - - Three Little Pups (1953) - Take-off on the Three Little Pigs in which three little pups are being pursued by a dog catcher. - - Billion Dollar Limited (1942) - Forties Superman cartoon. Superman saves a train carrying Lois Lane from the attack of masked bad men. - - Duck! Rabbit! Duck! (1953) - Bugs Bunny cartoon in very bright Technicolor. Bugs uses tricks to get Elmer Fudd the hunter to continually shoot at Daffy Duck. - - - Summary - I am not a super big fan of cartoons, but these did look nice on the big screen - I enjoyed the Popeye cartoon the most (probably because it was the most vintage). My least favorite was "Duck Rabbit Duck" - I used to really like Bugs Bunny when I was about six years old, I just can't get into it now, this cartoon was particularly violent. I do remember this particular cartoon from when I was a kid - I used to watch Bugs Bunny a whole lot then, though my childhood favorites were Casper the Ghost and Underdog.

Saw more films, didn't get them written up yet.

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