Arlene Martel - 1966
The Case of the Dead Ringer - Perry Mason, NBC broadcast April 17, 1966. Directed by Arthur Marks
Van Helsing - 2004
Van Helsing - Released May 7, 2004. Directed by Stephen Sommers
Amid the first rate action sequences, stunt-work, opulent scenery, costuming and massive use of (circa 2004) CGI, director and writer Stephen Sommers seems to be trying to capitalize and evolve his style from the 1999 The Mummy, which was part monster movie with a big dose of humor and Indiana Jones-style action.
Van Helsing is certainly a lot of fun for monster movie aficionados, but it is so stuffed with side-trips through the pantheon of old horror films that the story in Van Helsing is more of a map through a theme park instead of a cogent tale of how our lead character Van Helsing must protect and save Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale) from the mad-plans of diabolical Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh).
Jackman and Beckinsale are not a problem, and are quite enjoyable in these roles, as is the rest of the cast. When they are given some dialogue and moments in between the onslaught of CGI to chat with each other and establish motivations, for a more-forgiving audience, the movie has a lot of charm. But Van Helsing is plagued at times with a pacing right out of a video game, and as wildly inventive as the visuals often are, it's just not a substitute for quality in the simple but overly-stretched story.
There's no denying the eye candy is fantastic and apparently meant to be the main draw for the movie, and there are many nice moments that pop up over and over, such as Shuler Hensley's Frankenstein Monster with a throbbing, glowing psychedelic heart/motor. The sequence of the Wolfman fighting Dracula (who turns into a monstrous flying bat) is something right out of the old Universal monster round-ups of the 1940s, but staged in a way in Van Helsing that was impossible then.
Where Sommers' The Mummy had quirky personalities for the main cast and room for them to do bits of character-establishing business, Beckinsale and Jackman are carved from a grim-avenger template and aren't allowed to to be as human, though they do go into their battle sequences well-equipped with quips. And, of course, they look great as they try to defeat various monsters with hand-to-hand combat and steam-punk style weapons, but it all gets a bit repetitive and Van Helsing would have been better served with maybe ten minutes more of well-done dialogue writing and ten minutes less of CGI.
A wonderful, but bad, movie.
The Devil and Daniel Webster - 1941
The Devil and Daniel Webster - Released October 17, 1941. Directed by William Dieterle
Allison Hayes - 1965
The Case of the Deadly Debt - Broadcast Apri 1, 1965. Directed by Jesse Hibbs
Best Actress 1932: Helen Hayes
The Sin of Madelon Claudet - Released October 24, 1931. Directed by Edgar Selwyn.
More Academy Awards 1932
New Classic film releases to bluray - DVD
The Lost World - 1925 - Flicker Alley - site link
Duel in the Sun (Roadshow version) - 1946 - Kino - no link yet
Hopscotch - 1980 - Walter Matheu - Criterion - Coming in August
They Live by Night - 1948 - Criterion - June 13, 2017
Mamie Van Doren - 1959
Bardot with mask
It’s Always Fair Weather - 1955
Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman - 1943
Frankenstein meets the Wolfman - Released March 5, 1943. Directed by Roy Neill
Film history claims that Lugosi's lines (Bela Lugosi playing the 'Frankenstein' monster here) were cut from the final release because test audiences laughed. This removal takes away an important aspect of the story that is carried over from the previous Frankenstein movie The Ghost of Frankenstein - - which is that Ygor's brain is now in the monster's body.
Lugosi's work as Ygor in Son of Frankenstein and in Ghost were some of the best things about those sequels. Also, that story thread, as we see over and over here, is integral to how the Frankenstein Monster blunders about with arms outstretched due to Ygor's brain having a different blood type than the body, and this resulted in blindness. This irony, along with the "science" and the handicap is all thrown out the window with Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman. Instead we have the monster operating on a sort of cretinous level, moving like a gigantic toddler.
Aside from a few scenes of facial expression, Lugosi hardly seems in the movie at all, obvious stunt doubles handle the (well done) hand-to-hand combat between Chaney's Wolfman and the monster. The stunt double lugs off Ilona Massey in one scene, his makeup obviously inferior to what Lugosi is wearing in close ups.
Ilona Massey (as Baroness Elsa Frankenstein) doesn't have a lot to do except look beautiful while looking offscreen, something done well. Patric Knowles is a doctor enlisted to dissect the monster and finally put it out of business, but instead he (of course) becomes strangely interested in the creature's potential and wants to instead see it at "full power." At that point several electrical machines (Tesla or Strickfaden?) are put into action. The noise level is intense and Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman briefly seems like a fascinating heavy metal music video.
The script (by Curt Siodmak) seems over-simplified and under-written, though it contains the standard elements of mad-doctor science from previous Universal films. Lon Chaney as the tormented Wolfman trying to convince skeptical authority about his homicidal penchants (and here this is pushed to a new level when Larry Talbot realizes he cannot die) is fine, but it doesn't make the film better in other departments. Lionel Atwill, always professional, is onscreen as one of the few people of the village of Vasaria who can keep their head on straight once the name of "Frankenstein" is heard. Maria Ouspenskaya reappears as the gypsy woman from The Wolfman, making this movie a double-sequel, not only for Ghost of Frankenstein but also Chaney's 1941 film.
The climax, which involves a small scale model of a dam and castle, unfortunately looks just like a small scale model. Art direction elsewhere is good, but the feeling of tiredness with the material is evident int he writing and even the special effects, and this movie more than any other previously made at Universal puts us on a direct glide path to Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein in 1948.
Mamie Van Doren
Starring Miss Barbara Stanwyck [Illustrated with 310 Photographs] - amazon.com
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- Central Park - 1932 - Joan Blondell has trouble on her hands when she gets suckered into helping a gangster to rob a charity event. Though this film stars Joan and Wallace Ford, it also features the American Great Depression which is the background for the hunger and desperation that flavors the film.
- Robert Osborne - 1932 - 2017 - The "Movie Man" who worked as a film historian and host for The Movie Channel and Turner Classic Movies.
- Classic Cinema releases to DVD, Blu Ray and Streaming - March 2017 List
- Torchy (Glenda Farrell) Gets Her Manand solves crimes faster than her boyfriend (a policeman) and the whole police force.
- Get Smart - 2008 - Maxwell Smart is back in action with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) on a mission into Russia which turns into a hunt for a traitor within CONTROL's ranks - - and everyone is starting to think it might be Agent 86.
- Ernest Saves Christmas - 1988 - Florida seems like the wrong place to find a missing Santa Clause, but taxi driver Ernest locates him there all the same.
- Jeopardy 1953 - - A Mexican vacation goes off the rails when escaped American convict (Ralph Meeker) hijacks Barbara Stanwyck.
- Zorba The Greek 1964 - Alan Bates and Anthony Quinn are on Crete, with Irene Papas
- Frankenstein Island - 1981 - The plot moves slowly and often doesn't seem to make sense in this legendary bad film featuring a projected image of John Carradine that rattles off incoherant dialogue.
- The Lady Vanishes - 1938 - Hitchcock's famous film about a disappearing lady aboard a trans-continental train. Except for one stubborn young female passenger [who is consequently accused of mental instability] no one aboard can remember the vanished elderly Miss Froy.
- White Zombie - 1932 - Bela Lugosi likes making zombies, and this comes in handy when a local plantation owner on Haiti decides if he can't woo a certain girl to be his wife, he'll have Lugosi turn her into a mindless slave that he can command.