wilmothoudini's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Palm Springs Weekend

Was hoping this would have the postcard appeal Where the Boys Are. A little less scenic and therefore a little more tedious.

There's Always a Woman
½

Average mystery comedy excels as a Joan Blondell vehicle. A few nice quirks and surprises. Can't picture the sequel without Joan.

Murder in the Clouds
½

A couple good laughs and worrisome stunt flying (a plus was the use of real planes for the most part). Also see an early flipper-less pinball game called Contact. Harmless 60 minutes.

Five Came Back
½

Surprisingly good. Joseph Calleia is always worth it when he gets a little extra screen time.

Bringing Up Baby
½

I just got to watch this again on a Continental flight on their personal view screen (in coach!). One of 8 classics offered. We are living in a wonderful age.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
½

Being a kid who had a model of the Calypso in his room and played on boats made of furniture and rubber sharks, this film was the big budget version of my childhood fantasies. Loved it.

The Royal Tenenbaums

I always love Wes Anderson's style, but the characters and sentiment in this one really stood out for me here more than any of his other films to date. Gene Hackman was fantastic. It all worked so well.

The Lady From Shanghai
½

Such a great mess of a movie. So many moments. Such a ride. It's jarring both by design and by default, as it was recut without Welles, but the wild almost stream of conscious, rambling of tricks, exaggerated cliches, and moments of brilliance, add up to a great experience. It's an approach that Welles perfected in Touch of Evil.

Sherlock Holmes in Washington

Cinematic cementing of the American-British alliance...there is nothing subtle about the detours passed the Washington monument and the capitol. Unfortunately Sherlock Holmes as a WWII spyhunter with a full on brawl of a climax, is just not the right feel for this series. Interesting historical artifact. Watchable...but definitely lacks atmosphere. Buy war bonds!

Too Many Husbands

Very different movie than My Favorite Wife. And while lacking some of the craziness and overt comedy of MFW, this film is really more unique and daring regarding the set up. Unlike Irene Dunn returning 7 years later to crash Cary Grants attempts to consummate his marriage of the same day, Fred MacMurray returns after 1 year to find his wife married for a full 6 months to his best friend...with all the baggage that implies. This movie is remarkably not shy about the tension. It also explores an interesting dynamic in that after Jean Arthur recovers from the shock, we realize she has loved and been disappointed by both men, and is visibly excited at the prospect of being fought over (literally...she retires to her bedroom and sits to await the victor). It's all very unusual and though it loses a little momentum towards the finish, I found the conclusion to be fitting. Harry Davenport is also a delight. Truth be told, it's a pretty unromantic and unsentimental film. MFW has the romance and sentiment for better or worse, so if your in the mood for something different...

Night Must Fall

Great performances from the entire cast, if just a little long and wordy, feeling very much like the play it was based. This adds surprising depth to the characters on occasion, but also goes disruptively over the top every now and then. Surprised to see the roots of the mysterious hat box in Barton Fink have equally grim roots going back to 1937. Actually the Coens pretty much lifted this enigmatic device, outright.

I couldn't help but think of Suspicion while watching this. If the rumors about studio interference over the ending are true, I find it, more surprising now with this successful play and film as a precedent.

Only Angels Have Wings

POSSIBLE SPOILERS: This is becoming one of the quintessential classic films for me. A perfect combination of setting, characters/actors, humor, action and sentiment. There are many sub-plots revolving around the perpetual activities of running a dangerous mail route but the 2hr running time allows enough room to get invested in them. Cary Grant is a perfect choice as the kind of hardened character with enough humor that it's welcome and believable as he allows himself to be more human, meeting Jean Arthur halfway as she tries to accept the life he leads. And Hawks lets the fun come across - see Grant light up in the coin toss scene, or the scenes around the piano, or another great little moment where Jean Arthur shares a humorous whisper back and forth with a secondary character whose observations match that of the audience, beckoning her to just try talking to Grant one last time. Add to this the Richard Barthelmess/Rita Hayworth pairing that is uniquely affecting. He plays a bitter character, lacking the conventional looks and charisma of someone like Grant, but what's great here is that Hayworth really seems committed to him. The story could easily have introduced tangled love interests, based on the history, but surprisingly, it doesn't. It sticks to the theme of characters repressing and dealing with their emotions and everybody seems to learn something in the process. And not to forget Thomas Mitchell - he is great here, as are some many of the supporting characters. Plus some South America via Hollywood ambiance and effects ranging from quaint models to surprising aerial photography. The kind of movie I'll gladly watch again and again.

For Your Eyes Only

One of the more successful James Bond movies on all levels - good characters, good story, and a better balance of action and comedy than any other Moore entry.

The Leopard Man
½

Some great momements of suspense make up for the unusually weak characters and story for a Val Lewton production

The Dark Eyes of London (Dead Eyes of London) (The Human Monster) (Dr. Orloff)

Atypical setting combined with a rather grim plot help keep things moderately creepy and interesting compared with other Lugosi efforts from this time

The Corpse Vanishes

Enjoyable B movie. None too subtle music and frustrations with the cast who can't quite seem to grasp the obvious or put 2+2 together, keep it from ever really establishing much in the way of mood.

The Wind
The Wind(1928)
½

Simple, haunting and beautiful

The Case of the Curious Bride
½

Quirky entry in the Perry Mason series. More emphasis on Mason's excentricities (cooking obsession), and unusual technique of dissolve cuts throughout adds to the visual interest. All in all a descent mystery story, if slightly less wild (but easier to follow) the "The Howling Dog."

Follow the Fleet

Great great songs and dancing and comic bits from Fred and Ginger...but held back by the simple plot that makes Randolph Scott a jerk for far too long to be redeemable.

Charlie Chan in the Black Camel
½

The earliest surviving of the Warner Oland Chan series, this seems to benefit in comparison to other films of the series from the freshness of the material and author involvement - despite being an entirely traditional and by default, cliche who-done-it. You also get Bela Lugosi in a Swami turban gazing into a crystal ball...classic! But the real treat here is the location shooting in early 1931 Honolulu and the sight of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel standing tall on an otherwise empty strip!

Charlie Chan at the Circus
½

Whenever I read a plot synopsis that says "with a rampaging gorilla on the loose" I get a little too excited.

Virginia City

Fun in parts (I was surprised to the see a stunt here lifted for Indiana Jones - which actually seemed a little ahead of its time in this context). Ultimately too long (2 hours), and Hopkins, much as i like her quirks and love her in comedies, is a little tough to follow, motivation-wise. Poor Bogart makes Charlton Heston look good playing a Mexican. Pair this up with The Return of Doctor X for a long and curious evening

The Tales of Hoffmann

It may not all work, but it's beautiful to look at.

Roberta
Roberta(1935)

There is something I find appealing about Fred and Ginger's chemistry as old acquaintances with a spark. It feels very different from their starring vehicles where the plot keeps throwing up walls between them. The romantic farce is handled by Scott and Dunne, but the plot feels under-developed even for musical comedy. Problems are introduced that never have a pay off or are resolved instantly. Gets an extra half a star for some classic Astaire and Astaire/Rogers performances including Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and the lesser known gem I'll Be Hard to Handle

Boudu Saved From Drowning (Bondé sauvé des eaux)

Beautifully filmed, satirical and comedic fantasy from. With Simon in the lead, it's hard not to think of this in relation to the conclusion of La Chienne. NOTE 6/09 Not sure why the description says 1967 - This is an early sound film from 1932

From the Journals of Jean Seberg
½

Wonderfully crafted art/analytical documentary, although lacking the traditional and trusted documentary presentation. Simultaneously distant and intimate with it's subject. I think that for film lovers this a unique attempt to get to know an enigmatic figures life through her work

The Purchase Price
½

Dated and oddly uncomfortable in parts, but carries through on Stanwyck's charisma and some unique Wellman moments. For the pre-code fan this is a curious detour into rural surroundings.

Man Hunt
Man Hunt(1941)
½

Excellent, suspenseful chase film. Reminiscent of Hitchcock?s man on the run stories utilizing colorful characters and villains, but with a feel unique to Lang whose M was groundbreaking in the genre. Forgivable plot holes and Bennett mildly but forgivably over the top ? very endearing nonetheless, making up for the jovial but detached (by design) Pidgeon. Sanders, Carradine and McDowall all standout as well.

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World

Just watched this again, and from most of what I read this a tragically misunderstood film. This is classic Albert Brooks humor. I almost get the impression that many viewers expected the film would actually explore the culture of "comedy in the Muslim world." That's not the point here anymore than expecting Brooks' Real Life to provide fullfill the promise of the experiment with the Yeagers. Now, just as then, it's all about Brooks, at least the narcissistic performer version of himself that is self deprecated by the writer/director Brooks. This is the same guy who rode in to save the day in Real Life by donning a clown suit, and starting a fire to add drama. There is some political satire here, but not much. Albert Brooks has never made overtly political films, and while it might seem a missed opportunity, if you like what Brooks does in films like Real Life and Modern Romance, this is one of his best films since Defending Your Life, in my opinion.

Murder at the Vanities
½

Wow (mildly stunned). Not so great a mystery, but pretty novel and amusing.

Port of Shadows (Le Quai des Brumes)
½

Beautiful atmosphere. Engaging lost souls. A loathsome, unsettling Michel Simon. I want the dog! Too bad these movies can never end happy.

Other Men's Women
½

Some nice cinematography and railway scenery. Supporting players Cagney and Blondell stand out in sharp contrast to the annoying, bland male leads (especially the guy with the gum). Otherwise a pretty ridiculous melodrama.

Call Northside 777
½

Professional, paced, and a little too polite. Stewart's personality helps carry this, but unfortunately this film lacks the excitement of many of the upstart B pics in this genre. Admirably down to earth, but less memorable.

Independence Day
½

"Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. "Mankind." That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it's fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom... Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution... but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: 'We will not go quietly into the night!' We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!"

He Walked by Night
½

Somewhat cold, narrated, police procedural of and exceptionally cold killer (who is nice to his dog). Some nice visual and interesting moments (a particularly bizarre encounter for an uncover man), and an inspired , cinenamtic sewer chase that just pre-dates The Third Man

The Unsuspected

Enjoyable, lesser known Michael Curtiz film. Lots of characters in the supporting cast and fair amount of suspense. Far-fetched for sure, using a murder plot later borrowed for the comedy Unfaithfully Yours, as well as the fact that if everything had gone to plan the body count alone would seem a bit incriminating. Lots of noir shadowplay, a nod to Laura, and some "interesting" fashions on Caulfield, Totter and Bennett.

All You Need Is Cash
½

Occasionally uneven, but if you are very familiar with the Beatles music, films, documentaries, etc then the subtle re-creations and inside jokes are a lot more potent, making up for the misfires.

Synecdoche, New York
½

It plays out like a wild brainstorming session that keeps picking up steam and spiraling out of control. This is initially fun, particularly as the movie goes for dark/awkward laughs early on. As new ideas kept getting introduced, and the occasionally clever, occasionally clichéd narrative tools started piling on, I longed for some more development, instead of the kitchen sink approach. There are many good ideas, like a forgotten diary that continues to update the status of the characters lost daughter, but the execution feels a little tossed off, and it becomes just one of many devices. Use of time takes foreground for a period and then gets pushed back as other ideas compete for the foreground. It would all seem more audacious, if there weren't more cinematic precedents - 8½ was an obvious influence and in many ways this is an inventive re-imagining of those themes of ego, gender/human relations, human insecurities and creative insecurities, fantasy vs. reality and inevitable death. It also unravels like another Fellini picture La Dolce Vita, exhaustively frustrating the audience and infecting it with the characters bleak and ugly disillusionment. Unfortunately I found it less cinematically inspired than these earlier films. It often feels like a cold exercise; an exponential puzzle to work through creative neurosis, alienation, artistic pressures, and impossible ambitions. It's an alienating film about alienation, making for alienated viewer? It's very difficult to make a connection almost by design. Samantha Morton's Hazel who provides some of the only heart in this film and she is excellent, but if the way she is drawn to Hoffman's Kaden is intended to be contagious, I was left with sympathy for almost to no one. Hoffman is also excellent, if completely unlikable by design. And there are "bright" spots throughout. Kaden's assuming of the Ellen role figuratively (before it becomes literal) was a truly inspired, and beautiful bit. Additionally the cast, featuring under-utilized talent like Dianne Wiest are a pleasure to watch (even briefly). The lack of restraint, while interesting is a just little unsatisfying, and intended or not, is dragging by the end. I truly think Kaufman has interesting ideas, but needs editing (why the blimp?) and some focus and rhythm.

T-Men
T-Men(1947)
½

Above average B movie police procedural. Narrator is a bit intrusive, but the cinematography is excellent, as well as the handling of several key scenes.

The Gorilla
The Gorilla(1939)
½

It certainly isn't "good." Nothing works as intended (ie. not scary or funny), but it can be fun as a kitchen sink full of old dark house cliches, an ape suit, and the unfunny antics of the Ritz Brothers. I love to make the unsuspecting sit through this every October...I'm a little sadistic that way.

The Valley of Gwangi

Cowboys rounding up dinosaurs. It's one of a kind.

Mysterious Island

(Spoilers!) Starting in a Confederate prison camp and moving to an island with, among other over-sized beasts, a giant chicken. Luckily Captain Nemo shows up to sort things out. I can't rate this as a great movie, but it is fun as one of the more outrageous entries in this genre.

Sahara
Sahara(1943)

Decent WWII desert drama. Some good moments and interesting dilemmas sprinkled amongst the in your face propaganda (it was 1943) and war film cliches (we even get a "thumbs up" moment). Curiously interesting climax. Pales somewhat next to The Lost Patrol, though.

Raw Deal
Raw Deal(1948)
½

Everything you could want from a low budget noir. Lighting effects, lens effects, interesting back grounds (Golden Gate Bridge), just plain weird moments (the kid on roller skates). The cinematography is really outstanding for this type of production. Moves fast with lots of turns. Theremin and narration contribute to an unsettling ambiance. Raymond Burr provides a fairly offbeat heavy.

Coffee and Cigarettes
½

Iggy and Tom Waits stands out as an odd pleasure, and the standout scene for me that made a greatest impression was Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan. Hit and miss.

Pygmalion
Pygmalion(1938)
½

A pleasure to watch, despite the familiarity of the material.

Passage to Marseille
½

I was genuinely surprised that this was as weak as it was. I knew to expect less than Casablanca and Mildred Pierce. But honestly...15 minutes in, the story goes into flashback, and then 20 minutes later a flashback within the flashback, and then the final straw - a flashback within the flashback, within the flashback. There is so much exposition for the cast of characters and shifting story settings, that there is really very little in the way of compelling scenes or surprises. I am fairly forgiving - I thoroughly enjoyed Across the Pacific, John Huston's war propaganda utilizing the cast of The Maltese Falcon. All I can say for Passaget to Marseille is that it looks good. And the multiple flashbacks did make me laugh.

Starcrash
Starcrash(1979)

I am rating this way, way too high, but for ridiculous costumes, a southern fried robot, quotability, blatant Star Wars thievery, and Hasselhoff's hair, this is five stars in my book.

Great Guy
Great Guy(1942)

It is entertaining to watch Cagney in gangster mode, rough up the local butcher or grocer, on behalf of the Department of Weights and Measures.

If You Could Only Cook

I have been enjoying a round of viewing 2nd tier screwball comedies lately from the mid 30s. Its hard to evaluate them sometimes, as I simply enjoy the genre and the cast and inevitably look past the lesser aspects. I have noticed a pattern though which this film continues. At this point the writers/directors really just didn't know how to end them. This is another case of pulling out all stops at the end and going off the rails a bit. It doesn't make for a tight film, and it tends to simplify the characters further into caricatures. That said there is a certain charm to anything goes spirit that allows for the prospect that Herbert Marshall may actually be "rubbed out" by "well meaning" gangsters - it's different. All and all a cute and simple story that give short shrift to most of the ideas laid out.

Big Brown Eyes
½

Decent blueprint for amalgamations to to come. Some comedy, some mystery, some crime-drama. A little bit a of everything on the high-speed cycle. It's been done better, but some unusual twists and some good ideas. Joan Bennett is particularly good here.

The Bat Whispers
½

Very interesting for early camera tricks and unique visual choices. Otherwise suffers from stagey acting.

Kiss and Make-Up
½

Interesting train-wreck. Many odd moments, elaborate set designs, corny slapstick, and a song about corned beef and cabbage. One of those movies where you really can't root for the characters to get together. So wrong in many ways that its just about watchable if you like the period. Overall this Screen Legends - Cary Grant set is fulfilling my expectations...really for diehard fans of lesser known 30s movies, than even Cary Grant fans.

Contraband
Contraband(1940)

Contraband is one of my favorite obscure treasures. Bolstered by quirky characters, lots of comedy, and an unlikely romance. Conrad Veidt and little known character actor Hay Petrie are given a chance to shine. There is a most unusual moment in this film, with the two tied to a pillar that is unlike anything else I've seen from this period. This movie also has some unusual pacing and you are liable to wonder what on earth is this all about for the first 40 minutes, but let go, enjoy, and stick it out. It will put you in the mood for good Viking food.

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T
½

I can't say it's great or that the idea sustains a feature, but it's one of a kind.

The Tailor of Panama
½

For the talents involved it's not as good as it could be, but it was a good sleeper.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

I try to watch James Bond movies exclusively for the camp, but the kid in me gets sucked in everytime. This one I hated as a kid. Now it is my favorite. Campy in a whole other way, this requires patience like no other Bond film. Plus there is Diana Rigg. Sap that I am I always have a tear in my eye at the end of this one.

The Shining
The Shining(1980)

Both one of favorite horror film and one of my favorite black comedies.

Pépé le Moko
½

I've seen this a few times over the years, but recently I kept catching this on TV and would get stuck watching it to the end (at least twice). So atmospheric and such a great ending.

The Set-Up
The Set-Up(1949)
½

Almost real-time boxing movie, this was a real surprise. Very engaging, and beautifully filmed. Also a nicely restrained performance from Audrey Totter who gets to step out from her "bad girl" typecasting.

The Invisible Man
½

Personal favorite of the Universal horror films. A dark and human threat. Humorously frank (allusions to having to travel around without clothes, two rather shocking murder, and even the effects are interesting

Bedlam
Bedlam(1946)

Excellent Val Lewton production that is easily overshadowed by the more overtly horror themed films under his name. Where else are you going to find a Quaker to save the day?

Kiss Me Deadly
½

Sleazy, violent and grim nightmare/maze of a film noir. Just the way you like it.

The Wrestler
The Wrestler(2008)
½

I was really glad I decided to see, even while my friends went to see something else. Whether characters ring true or not is very subjective, but I felt these people were very real. And filmed in lovely NJ.

Wedding Present
½

The leads almost carry it, but this just goes a little too far by the end. A few scenes make it worthwhile for fans of average 30s movies (like me), particularly a bizarre moment in a plane.

Killdozer
Killdozer(1974)
½

Very little to recommend, but if you saw this on TV as a kid, it's pure nostalgia. Makes me all warm inside. "Come on Dozer"

The Plainsman
½

Enjoyable mess despite the rating.

Thirty Day Princess

Cute quickie lightweight comedy made enjoyable by Sylvia Sydney

Lady in the Lake
½

Awkward and stiff in parts. First person camera work is bizarre and the fixation on Christmas is even more bizarre, But that's why I love it. Also 50% of the time the first person camera is focused on Audrey Totter, and while her eyes are downright crazy in this movie, I can watch her all day. Extremely biased review.

The Thing from Another World
½

Outstanding sci-fi film. I rate this particularly high for a sci-fi genre film. because besides the great images you would expect (determining the saucer shape, the flame thrower ambush), the script is so unexpectedly lively. Corny?...yes, but full of character. Even the romantic sub-plot did feel like the usual drag in sci-fi film. "An intellectual carrot. The mind boggles." Very enjoyable.

Orphée (Orpheus)
½

Excellent update (well for then at least) of the Orpheus story. Captivating portrayal of Death by the under-used María Casares. In addition Palpable obsession with Death in this version, there is also a great deal of humor that come through in the scenes where Orpheus must deal with the practical ramifications of his bargain.

The Mad Miss Manton

Admittedly minor film, that I think is a real find. Excellent pre-Lady Eve pairing of Fonda and Stanwyck. I have a soft spot for the mystery-comedy sub-genre, and this one does not disappoint.

Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa(1986)
½

One of my favorite's by Bob Hoskins as well as Neil Jordan. Great characters and story.

The Butcher Boy

I always find Neil Jordan's films interesting to great. I admire this film for painting a most disturbing personality portrait. It nags at me. But very tough to watch.

Secretary
Secretary(2002)

I think this is a funny and enjoyable movie with interesting characters. But what makes it exceptional for me is that it treats the sexual explorations/fetishes of the characters in a casual and matter of fact way, rather than dark, weird or scary. More films should explore such topics without being exploitative or sensational. Also, the worm circled in red ink...very funny.

My Darling Clementine

Still probably my favorite western. Excellent visually and movingly acted version of the Wyatt Earp story. I like John Ford in generally but every now and then I love something he does, and this is one of those occasions. I am also always struck by Walter Brennen's serious turn as the Clanton father. So often the goofy sidekick, but this is a frightening, underused side of him.

I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang
½

This is truly remarkable for the time it was made. Social dramas of the early 30s are rarely this interesting affecting without the pre-code novelty, which really isn't a draw here. Paul Muni is genuinely affecting, his escape, genuinely exciting, and the ending genuinely haunting. Probably one of my favorite endings ever both visually and story-wise.

We're Not Dressing
½

Weird delightful escapism from another time.

Curse of the Demon

Great, late Jacques Tourneur film. Standout scenes like the childrens party are just plain eerie and unsettling thanks to Niall MacGinnis. The goofy monster shouldn't deter from an otherwise great atmospheric thrill that echoes Tourneur's excellent films for Val Lewton in the 40s

Man on Wire
Man on Wire(2008)

Was definitely interesting - especially the archive footage and the prep (or lack of). Despite knowing the events succeeded going into it, I continually thought, "this just can't work." In the end I only regretted no