Danny Fortune was born a long time ago in a small town, in a small state, in a small world, to very small parents. He grew up watching old classic films and B horror movies, ruining his eyesight in the process. He now lives in a tiny, cramped apartment in San Francisco with an unbridled collection of religious icons and dead movie star photos. When he is not spying on his neighbors and feeding stray cats, he is usually rotting his brain with trivia and all kinds of useless shit. Danny works in a Special Education Class where he teaches children left behind. And he contributes reviews of classic movies for Alt Film Guide.

Author Archives: Danny Fortune

'Desert Nights': Enjoyable John Gilbert Adventure Dares to Ask Age-Old Philosophical Question

Desert Nights with John Gilbert and Mary Nolan: Enjoyable Sahara-set adventure – which happened to be Gilbert's last silent film – dares to ask the age-old philosophical question, “Is there honor among thieves?” John Gilbert late silent adventure 'Desert Nights' asks a question for the ages: Is there honor among […]

'The Doll' Movie: Greedy & Gluttonous Church Officials + German Mary Pickford in Early Ernst Lubitsch Comedy

The Doll with Ossi Oswalda and Hermann Thimig. Early Ernst Lubitsch satirical fantasy starring “the German Mary Pickford” has similar premise to that of the 1925 Buster Keaton comedy Seven Chances. 'The Doll': San Francisco Silent Film Festival presented fast-paced Ernst Lubitsch comedy starring the German Mary Pickford – Ossi […]

'Amazing Tales from the Archives': SFSFF Remembers Pioneering Female Documentarian & World War I Era (!) Sound Films

“Amazing Tales from the Archives”: Pioneering female documentarian Aloha Wanderwell Baker remembered at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival – along with the largely forgotten sound-on-cylinder technology and the Jean Desmet Collection. 'Amazing Tales from the Archives': San Francisco Silent Film Festival & the 'sound-on-cylinder' system Fans of the earliest […]

'Boom!' Movie: Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton Cinematic Disaster Reappraised

Boom! movie with Elizabeth Taylor: Critically panned box office disaster featuring memorable headwear and situations. 'Boom!' movie: Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton critical & box office bomb reappraised as 'cult classic' fare If you've never seen Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's 1968 vanity production Boom!, don't feel singled out. Boom! […]

Swampland Race Relations: Old Indie Mixes 'Interracial' Love + Vengeance & Voodoo

Swampland race relations in Chloe, Love Is Calling You: Desired by two handsome white men, is Olive Borden black or white? Swampland race relations: Bizarre 'Chloe Love Is Calling You' mixes reactionary ideas & voodoo Whenever I watch a film such as the swampland-set 1934 thriller Chloe, Love Is Calling […]

Women's Suffrage Movie: Will Right to Vote Destroy The American Family at SFSFF?

Women's suffrage movie Mothers of Men: Dorothy Davenport becomes a judge and later State Governor in socially conscious thriller about U.S. women's voting rights. Are females too emotional to be objective? Women's suffrage movie 'Mothers of Men': Will women's right to vote lead to the destruction of The American Family? […]

'Die Nibelungen': Siegfried Eclipsed by Powerful Women in Masterful Fritz Lang Tragedy

Die Nibelungen: Siegfried: Paul Richter as the tragic dragon-slaying hero of medieval Germanic mythology – with a bit from Homer's Iliad thrown in. 'Die Nibelungen': Enthralling silent classic despite complex plot and countless characters Based on the medieval epic poem Nibelungenlied, itself inspired by the early medieval Germanic saga about […]

'The Beast with a Million Eyes': Roger Corman Beats Alfred Hitchcock with Nature vs. Humans Thriller

The Beast with a Million Eyes: Hardly truth in advertising as Roger Corman's micro-budget sci-fi thriller is no “monster movie.” 'The Beast with a Million Eyes': Alien invasion movie predates Alfred Hitchcock classic Despite the confusing voice-over introduction, David Kramarsky's[1] The Beast with a Million Eyes a.k.a. The Beast with […]

'L'Inhumaine': Marcel L'Herbier Impressive Sci-Fi, Sex Melodrama & Fernand Léger Combo

'L'Inhumaine': Marcel L'Herbier directed Jaque Catelain and Georgette Leblanc in great-looking (Fernand Léger sets) mix of science-fiction and sex melodrama. Marcel L'Herbier silent 'L'Inhumaine': 'Intense sensory integration of sight' For me, the real jewel in the crown of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival's “A Day of Silents,” held on […]

'7 Faces of Dr. Lao': Tony Randall Brilliantly Shows Things Are Not As They Seem

'7 Faces of Dr. Lao' with Tony Randall delivering a 'bravura performance': Things are not as they seem. '7 Faces of Dr. Lao' movie: 'Things are not as they seem' Director George Pal's 7 Faces of Dr. Lao surprises on multiple levels: its witty screenplay by Twilight Zone writer Charles […]

'Humoresque' 1946: Joan Crawford Saves Boxing vs. Violin-Playing Melodrama

'Humoresque': Joan Crawford and John Garfield. 'Humoresque' 1946: Saved by Joan Crawford Directed by Jean Negulesco from a screenplay by Clifford Odets and Zachary Gold (loosely based on a Fannie Hurst short story), Humoresque always frustrates me because its first 25 minutes are excruciatingly boring – until Joan Crawford finally […]

Rare African-American Film, Frank Capra 'Accidental Silent': San Francisco Silent Film Festival

African-American film 'Bert Williams: Lime Kiln Club Field Day' with Williams (in blackface) and Odessa Warren Grey: Early 20th century rarity.* Rare, early 20th-century African-American film among San Francisco Silent Film Festival highlights Directed by Edwin Middleton and T. Hayes Hunter, the Biograph Company's Lime Kiln Club Field Day (1913) […]

Ivor Novello: British Stage Legend & Hitchcock Star in 'Autumn Crocus'

Ivor Novello: 'Autumn Crocus' movie adaptation with Fay Compton. Ivor Novello last movie: 'Autumn Crocus' Can a naive, plain-looking, spinster school teacher ever find real love in faraway places? This was a question asked by Shirley Booth in Arthur Laurents' 1952 stage play The Time of the Cuckoo; Katharine Hepburn […]

'A Night at the Cinema in 1914': Charles Chaplin, Pearl White and The Great War

Charles Chaplin in 'A Film Johnnie' (1914). 'A Night at the Cinema in 1914': From The Great War to Charles Chaplin and Pearl White Imagine, if you will, that you can go back one hundred years in time, when people were enjoying a new and pervasive art form: motion pictures. […]

Sneeze Face, Cheese Mites and Techno Charles Chaplin: 'Amazing Tales'

Sneeze face, cheese mites, and techno Charles Chaplin: San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2014's 'Amazing Tales from the Archive's (image: Fred Ott's 'sneeze face' in the short film 'Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze') The “Amazing Tales from the Archives” presentations at the 2014 San Francisco Silent Film Festival, which […]

Gender Roles and Social Hypocrisy: THE GIRL IN TAILS

Gender roles and social hypocrisy in 'The Girl in Tail's (image: Einar Axelsson and Magda Holm in 'The Girl in Tails') Poor Katja Kock (Magda Holm)! She spends most of her time serving others: sewing and mending for her brother (Erik Zetterström), humoring her grouchy father (Nils Aréhn), and tutoring […]

'Midnight Madness' Movie Lacks 'Midnight' & 'Madness'

Clive Brook and Jacqueline Logan in Midnight Madness. 'Midnight Madness' movie lacks both 'midnight' & 'madness' Screened at the 2014 San Francisco Silent Film Festival, Midnight Madness has a very curious title: there is no “midnight” or “madness” to be found in the film. The story's original name, The Lion […]

'Song of the Fishermen': First Chinese Movie to Win International Award

'Song of the Fishermen': First Chinese movie to win international award depicts social inequalities in China during the Great Depression The story of Cai Chusheng's 1934 drama Song of the Fishermen / Yu Guang Qu, screened at the 2014 San Francisco Silent Film Festival, begins in a small coastal village […]

Douglas Fairbanks: 'The Half-Breed' Lost and Found

Douglas Fairbanks The Half-Breed in 'The Amazing Tales from the Archives': 2013 San Francisco Silent Film Festival At the 2013 San Francisco Silent Film Festival, “The Amazing Tales from the Archives” began with film preservationist Rob Byrne's documentation of how the 1916 movie The Half-Breed was found and restored to […]

'South': Antarctic Expedition Documentary SFSFF Hit

South: Sir Ernest Shackleton's Glorious Epic of the Antarctic It was surprising to see the large crowd waiting to get into the 2012 San Francisco Silent Film Festival screening of South: Sir Ernest Shackleton's Glorious Epic of the Antarctic (1920). I did not think that a documentary would interest so […]

'The Canadian' Caper: Silent Era Superstar Thomas Meighan Movie

The Canadian (image: Thomas Meighan in The Canadian) Thomas Meighan is The Star of William Beaudine's The Canadian (1926), which screened at the 2012 San Francisco Silent Film Festival. The credits feature his name far above everyone else's. The basic story of The Canadian, scenario by Arthur Stringer from the […]

'Wings' & 'Dr. Strangelove' Film Preservation: Into the Digital Frontier SFSFF

Charles 'Buddy' Rogers, Clara Bow, Richard Arlen in William A. Wellman's Wings 'Wings' & 'Dr. Strangelove': Film preservation and 'Amazing Tales from the Archives' The 2012 San Francisco Silent Film Festival's edition of “Amazing Tales from the Archives” was perhaps the weakest of the series to date. In the past, […]

'The Loves of Pharaoh': Ernst Lubitsch-Emil Jannings Epic

The Loves of Pharaoh: Ernst Lubitsch early historical epic (image: Emil Jannings [center] in The Loves of Pharaoh) Ernst Lubitsch's The Loves of Pharaoh (1922) exists only in a truncated version, with some stills and title cards inserted into the lost footage. Lubitsch's early epic was screened at the 2012 […]

'The Whales of August': Lillian Gish & Bette Davis in Powerful Drama

Bette Davis, Lillian Gish, Vincent Price and Ann Sothern in The Whales of August According to my math, the careers of the three leading ladies – Lillian Gish, Bette Davis, and Ann Sothern – in Lindsay Anderson's The Whales of August total 191 years. And that is without taking into […]

'The Goose Woman' Review: Great Louise Dresser in Clarence Brown Drama

THE GOOSE WOMAN (1925) Dir.: Clarence Brown Cast: Louise Dresser, Jack Pickford, Constance Bennett, Marc McDermott, George Nichols, Gustav von Seyffertitz Scr.: Melville W. Brown, titles by Dwinelle Benthall; from Rex Beach's story Highly Recommended Louise Dresser, Jack Pickford, The Goose Woman At the 2011 San Francisco Silent Film Festival, […]

THE BLIZZARD Review: Einar Hanson, Mary Johnson Mauritz Stiller

GUNNAR HEDES SAGA / THE BLIZZARD (1923) Dir.: Mauritz Stiller Cast: Einar Hanson, Mary Johnson, Stina Berg, Hugo Björne, Pauline Brunius Scr.: Mauritz Stiller; from Selma Lagerlöf's novel Recommended with Reservations Mary Johnson, Einar Hanson, The Blizzard Directed by Mauritz Stiller, the Swedish drama Gunnar Hedes saga / The Blizzard […]

HUCKLEBERRY FINN Review: Lewis Sargent William Desmond Taylor

HUCKLEBERRY FINN (1920) Dir.: William Desmond Taylor Cast: Lewis Sargent, George Reed, Katherine Griffith, Frank Lanning, Gordon Griffith, Esther Ralston, Edythe Chapman, Martha Mattox Scr.: Julia Crawford Ivers; from Mark Twain's novel Recommended with Reservations Lewis Sargent in William Desmond Taylor's Huckleberry Finn Directed by William Desmond Taylor, Huckleberry Finn […]

San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2011 Highlights: Stephen Horne, Matti Bye Ensemble, Mont Alto Orchestra

The Terra Nova in Herbert G. Ponting's The Great White Silence A few words about the 2011 edition of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival: SFSFF 2011 was quite crowded; as a result, the programs sometimes started late, but they were always well organized. The choice of the venue couldn't […]

Amazing Tales from the Archives: Orphan Films at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival

Eugen Illés' The Fall of Jerusalem The 16th San Francisco Silent Film Festival first morning program, “Amazing Tales from the Archives - The Archivist As Detective,” presented the many problems identifying “Orphan Films” – unlabeled pieces of footage discovered in vaults or estates. The first example of such an orphan […]

'The Sadist' Movie Review

Arch Hall Jr, The Sadist Say what you will about Arch Hall, Jr. (and I know many people have), but he gives an outstanding performance in James Landis' The Sadist – one that is quite unlike his amateurish appearance opposite his father in Eegah, only a year earlier. In fact, […]

'Blood and Sand': Rudolph Valentino Doomed Matador

Blood and Sand with Rudolph Valentino and Nita Naldi Bullfighting has never appealed to me, so I approached Fred Niblo's Blood and Sand with caution. Now that I've seen it, I am relieved that there was no actual footage of this hideous blood sport. Niblo's film version of Vicente Blasco […]

'Make Way for Tomorrow': Discardable Elderly Relatives

Beulah Bondi, Victor Moore, Make Way for Tomorrow The main conflict in Leo McCarey's Make Way for Tomorrow revolves around an elderly couple, Barkley and Lucy Cooper (Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi), who lose their home and are forced to move in with their adult children. The sons and daughters […]

'The Love of Jeanne Ney': G.W. Pabst Classic

Uno Henning, Edith Jehanne, The Love of Jeanne Ney G.W. Pabst's Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney / The Love of Jeanne Ney is a real mystery. And I mean that in the truest sense of the word. The entire film is a puzzle. The opening title card introduces the story: […]

'Flesh for Frankenstein' Review: Joe Dallesandro Stars

Monique van Vooren, Joe Dallesandro, Flesh for Frankenstein The first time I saw Flesh for Frankenstein was during its theatrical release in 1973, when it was titled, Andy Warhol's Frankenstein. Warhol, of course, had little to do with the production besides lending his name to it. The real genius behind […]

'Possessed' Movie Review: Brilliant Joan Crawford as Woman on the Verge

Van Heflin, Joan Crawford, Possessed From the moment we see her shuffling across town in a comatose stupor to the homicidal climax, Possessed is Joan Crawford's picture all the way. And once you get past some of its contrived psychobabble, this Curtis Bernhardt-directed melodrama is also one of her best. […]

'The Gang's All Here': Best Carmen Miranda Musical?

From the moment The Gang's All Here opens with a nightclub production number presented on a stage as big as a football field, Busby Berkeley's fast-paced Technicolor musical delivers the goods. There is dreamy-eyed Alice Faye, handsome eye-candy James Ellison, craggy-voiced Eugene Pallette, fussbudget Edward Everett Horton, Carmen Miranda at […]

'Shanks' Movie Review - Marcel Marceau William Castle

SHANKS (1974) Dir.: William Castle Cast: Marcel Marceau, Tsilla Chelton, Philippe Clay, Cindy Eilbacher, Larry Bishop, Don Calfa Scr.: Ranald Graham Schlock-master William Castle's Shanks, a little-known curiosity piece, is the story (written by Ranald Graham) of Malcolm Shanks, a deaf-mute puppeteer who leaves his abusive family to go to […]

'The Song of Songs': Marlene Dietrich Directed by Rouben Mamoulian

In her first American film without the guidance of Josef von Sternberg, Marlene Dietrich was definitely up to the acting challenge of Rouben Mamoulian's The Song of Songs. Not only are there some fine performances in this 1933 Mamoulian effort, but the screenplay by Leo Birinsky and Samuel Hoffenstein, taken […]

Zarah Leander 'La Habanera': Nazi Era Greta Garbo-Marlene Dietrich Combo

Zarah Leander La Habanera First, I have to state that I watched Douglas Sirk's La Habanera, not knowing what to expect. All I knew was the brief synopsis on the DVD box. I also knew that Sirk was a director of such lush 1950s Technicolor soapers as Magnificent Obsession, All […]

'The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg': Ramon Novarro-Norma Shearer Movie Classic

Ramon Novarro, Norma Shearer The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg The theme of a prince who gives up the girl he loves in order to fulfill his royal duty has been tried many times, but Ernst Lubitsch's The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg is the best. The plot is simple […]

'The Bubble' - Michael Cole, Deborah Walley

The Bubble (1966) Dir. / Scr.: Arch Oboler Cast: Michael Cole, Deborah Walley, Johnny Desmond, Kassie McMahon, Barbara Eiler   "THE BUBBLE IN 3-D. FILMED IN SPACE-VISION! IN 4th DIMENSIONAL LIVING COLOR", so says the cover for the DVD release of this seldom seen 1966 science-fiction morsel, also known as […]

'Noah's Ark': Michael Curtiz Religion + Disaster Movie Mix

Noah's Ark (1928) Dir.: Michael Curtiz Scr.: Anthony Coldeway; from Darryl F. Zanuck's original story Cast: George O'Brien, Dolores Costello, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, Noah Beery, Louise Fazenda, Malcolm Waite, Paul McAllister     Of all the films from that magical moment when silent movies merged into sound, nothing is […]

'The Killing Kind': Ann Sothern & Curtis Harrington Cult Classic

When I read that The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film described Curtis Harrington's The Killing Kind as “a seldom-seen sickie” I just knew I had to see it. And it was well worth my time. After a young man, Terry Lambert (John Savage), is released from prison for a rape he […]

'A Lady to Love': Early Edward G. Robinson Paired with Talking Hungarian Rhapsody Vilma Banky

Edward G. Robinson was only 37 years old when he gave this hammy, scene-stealing, over-the-top performance as Tony, a middle-aged Italian grape grower in Napa Valley, California, in Victor Sjöström's A Lady to Love. Robinson is loud, peripatetic, hyperkinetic, and his accent sometimes sounds a bit too much like Chico […]

'Wild Women of Wongo' Movie Review: Lovely to Look At

At first, these women in The Wild Women of Wongo don't look so “wild.” They are compliant and obedient to their Wongo male counterparts, sporting perfectly coiffed hair and donning custom-made summer wear. (I guess beauticians and tailors were plentiful around 1,000 BCE.) But when a handsome male member of […]

'Cobra' Review: Rudolph Valentino & Nita Naldi

Cobra (1925) Dir.: Joseph Henabery. Scr.: Anthony Coldeway; from Martin Brown's play. Cast: Rudolph Valentino, Nita Naldi, Casson Ferguson, Gertrude Olmstead, Eileen Percy, Lillian Langdon, Hector Sarno   Cobra is my favorite Rudolph Valentino film. Directed by Joseph Henabery, with a screenplay by Anthony Coldewey from a play by Martin […]

'Targets': Boris Karloff in Peter Bogdanovich Thriller

Targets (1968) Dir.: Peter Bogdanovich. Scr.: Peter Bogdanovich; from a story by Bogdanovich and Polly Platt. Cast: Boris Karloff, Tim O'Kelly, Arthur Peterson, Monte Landis, Peter Bogdanovich     Peter Bogdanovich's thriller Targets asks the question, “Does life imitate art or does art imitate life?” The film's answer is “both.” […]

'Nabonga': Julie London & Buster Crabbe in Camp Cult Classic

Nabonga (1944) Dir.: Sam Newfield. Scr.: Fred Myton. Cast: Julie London, Buster Crabbe, Fifi D'Orsay, Barton MacLane, Bryant Washburn, Herbert Rawlinson, Prince Modupe   Nabonga is one of those average girl-and-her-gorilla love stories. Although it may not be on the artistic caliber of King Kong or have the gloss of […]

'The Honeymoon Killers': Perverse Relationships & Grisly Murders

The Honeymoon Killers (1970) Dir. / Scr.: Leonard Kastle. Cast: Shirley Stoler, Tony Lo Bianco, Mary Jane Higby, Doris Roberts   From the moment we hear Gustave Mahler's highly dramatic music in the opening scene of The Honeymoon Killers, Leonard Kastle's imaginative thriller and its cast of little-known players take […]

'Rain': Joan Crawford & Walter Huston in Sex vs. Religion Drama

Rain (1932) Dir.: Lewis Milestone. Scr.: Maxwell Anderson; from John Colton and Clemence Randolph's play, adapted from W. Somerset Maugham's short story “Miss Thompson.” Cast: Joan Crawford, Walter Huston, William Gargan, Beulah Bondi, Guy Kibbee, Matt Moore, Walter Catlett     The first thing you notice in the credits of […]

'This Woman Is Dangerous': Joan Crawford & Dennis Morgan

This Woman Is Dangerous (1952) Dir.: Felix E. Feist. Scr.: Daniel Mainwaring (as Geoffrey Homes) and George Worthing Yates; from Bernard Girard's story “Stab of Pain.” Cast: Joan Crawford, Dennis Morgan, David Brian, Mari Aldon, Richard Webb, Philip Carey, Ian MacDonald, George Chandler     Despite the fact that it […]

'The Damned Don't Cry': Joan Crawford Gets Tough

The Damned Don't Cry movie review: Best post-Mildred Pierce Joan Crawford star vehicle at Warner Bros. Directed by Vincent Sherman (Old Acquaintance, Mr. Skeffington), the torrid 1950 potboiler The Damned Don't Cry is my favorite post-Mildred Pierce Joan Crawford star vehicle at Warner Bros. (Image: Kent Smith, David Brian, Joan […]

'Way Out West': William Haines' Campy Gay Cult Classic

Way Out West (1930) Dir.: Fred Niblo. Scr.: Byron Morgan and Alfred Block; dialogue by Alfred Block, Joe Farnham, Ralph Spence, and Henry Sharp. Cast: William Haines, Leila Hyams, Cliff Edwards, Polly Moran, Francis X. Bushman Jr. (a.k.a. Ralph Bushman), Charles Middleton, Vera Marsh   When a crooked carnival barker […]

'Mr. Wu' Movie Review: Morbid Lon Chaney, Renée Adorée Classic

"A maiden defiled must be put to death by the hand of her father,” so reads the “ancient Chinese law” that is the basis for Mr. Wu, a stylish tale about miscegenation, fornication, and filicide. In the title role, Lon Chaney, with his usual genius for make-up and characterization, uses […]

'Shadows': Lon Chaney Cult Classic

Shadows (1922) Dir.: Tom Forman. Scr.: Hope Loring, Harry Perry, and Eve Unsell; from Wilbur Daniel Steele's story “Ching, Ching, Chinaman.” Cast: Lon Chaney, Marguerite De La Motte, Harrison Ford, John St. Polis, Walter Long, Buddy Messinger, Priscilla Bonner, Frances Raymond   In the 1922 melodrama Shadows, the shipwrecked Chinese […]

'The Kid': Charles Chaplin Comedy Introduced Child Star Jackie Coogan

Although I have never been much of a Charles Chaplin fan, The Kid is one sweet picture. In fact, it is the only Chaplin vehicle I would want to see over again. The story, also penned by Chaplin, is simple: a poor, unwed mother (frequent Chaplin leading lady Edna Purviance) […]

'The Great Gabbo': Erich von Stroheim & Betty Compson in 'Terrific Early Talkie'

The Great Gabbo is one terrific early talkie. Sure, the film is old and creaky, while its technical aspects are cheap and primitive. But the story, the music, and the performances always keep me hooked. Directed by James Cruze, a top name in the silent era, from a story by […]

'Ben-Hur' Movie Review: Ramon Novarro

  Although I am not a fan of action-adventure pictures, the 1925 version of Ben-Hur (a.k.a. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ) is an exception because it stars Ramon Novarro in the title role. As a plus, Horace Jackson's art direction and Edwin B. Willis' sets are superb. In the […]

'The Penalty' 1920: Lon Chaney 'Flawless'

The Penalty 1920: Lon Chaney 'more than just an actor' (image: Lon Chaney and Claire Adams in The Penalty) Lon Chaney was more than just an actor. He was a magician. Like a chameleon, he could morph into a character. Directed by the all-but-forgotten Wallace Worsley, the gruesome shocker The […]

'My Little Chickadee': Mae West & W.C. Fields Unusual Comedy

Mae West and W.C. Fields. The teaming of these two comedy titans in My Little Chickadee must not have been very easy, but director Edward F. Cline managed to reign them in without too much scene-stealing. Both actors had giant egos and were not used to sharing the spotlight with […]

'Go West Young Man' Movie Review: Mae West Lures Young and Handsome Randolph Scott

Although it gets off to a slow start, Go West Young Man is one of Mae West's better Post-Code efforts for Paramount. Directed by Henry Hathaway and written by Mae West herself (from Lawrence Riley's play), Go West Young Man stars West (get it?) as temperamental film star Mavis Arden, […]

'Sparrows': Mary Pickford in Surprisingly Effective Melodrama

Molly is the role Mary Pickford was born to play. In Sparrows, Molly is the oldest among the ten orphans being kept as slaves on a potato farm. And as most Pickford characters, Molly is a sweet-but-spunky victim who fights back. Directed by the prolific William Beaudine, and adapted by […]

STRAIT-JACKET: Joan Crawford Movie Review

Strait-Jacket: Joan Crawford axe-murderer movie review “From the director of Homicidal, the author of Psycho, and the co-star of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane” reads the byline for producer-director William Castle's 1964 thriller Strait-Jacket. Although I've seen this Joan Crawford movie dozens of times, I still go back to […]

'The Naked Kiss': Underrated Samuel Fuller Thriller

The Naked Kiss (1964) Dir. / Scr.: Samuel Fuller. Cast: Constance Towers, Anthony Eisley, Michael Dante, Virginia Grey, Patsy Kelly, Betty Bronson, Marie Devereux, Karen Conrad, Linda Francis     In the opening scene of Samuel Fuller's The Naked Kiss, we see a bald-headed prostitute using her bare hands to […]

'Sing and Like It' Movie Review: ZaSu Pitts

When a tough but simple-minded gangster – while in the middle of a bank heist – overhears an off-key singer rehearsing a “mother song” for an amateur group, a hilarious comedy ensues. In William A. Seiter's Sing and Like It, handsome, muscular, but oh-so-dumb Nat Pendleton plays gang leader Fenny […]

'Hello, Everybody!': Kate Smith & Randolph Scott Forgotten B Movie

Hello, Everybody! (1933) Dir.: William A. Seiter. Scr.: Lawrence Hazard and Dorothy Yost; from a story by Fannie Hurst. Cast: Kate Smith, Randolph Scott, Sally Blane, Charley Grapewin, George Barbier, Julia Swayne Gordon   In 1933, radio and stage performer Kate Smith was a force to be reckoned with when […]

'Night of the Quarter Moon': Steamy Julie London Cult Classic

Julie London looks just like Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest in the opening scene of Hugo Haas' 1959 overwrought melodrama Night of the Quarter Moon (a.k.a. Flesh and Flame). All London needed was a peasant blouse and a cigarette, and she'd be Rosa Moline. That's not the only thing […]

'Screaming Mimi': Anita Ekberg Must-See of Sorts

Screaming Mimi (1958) Dir.: Gerd Oswald. Scr.: Robert Blees; from Fredric Brown's novel. Cast: Anita Ekberg, Philip Carey, Gypsy Rose Lee, Harry Townes, Linda Cherney, Romney Brent, Red Norvo Trio   When a big, busty blonde is assaulted in an outdoor shower by an escaped lunatic, her life is spared […]

'The Passion of Joan of Arc': Carl Theodor Dreyer Masterwork

The Passion of Joan of Arc / La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928) Dir.: Carl Theodor Dreyer. Scr.: Carl Theodor Dreyer and Joseph Delteil. Cast: Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, André Berley, Maurice Schutz, Antonin Artaud, Michel Simon, Jean d'Yd     Carl Theodor Dreyer's late silent film La Passion de […]

'The Story of Esther Costello': Joan Crawford Drama

The Story of Esther Costello (1957) Dir.: David Miller. Scr.: Charles Kaufman; from Nicholas Monsarrat's novel. Cast: Joan Crawford, Rossano Brazzi, Heather Sears, Lee Patterson, Ron Randell, Fay Compton, John Loder, Denis O'Dea, Sid James, Bessie Love   As Margaret Landi, Joan Crawford gets top billing in The Story of […]

'Downstairs': John Gilbert Racy Pre-Code Sex & Social Drama

  Monta Bell's seldom-seen drama Downstairs proves not only what a great actor John Gilbert was, but, quite contrary to legend, how competent his voice sounded. All seems joyful in the house of the Baron and Baroness von Burgen (Reginald Owen and Freaks' Olga Baclanova). A symbiotic relationship exists between […]

'Savage Intruder' Movie: Miriam Hopkins in Decadent Hollywood

Savage Intruder was filmed in 1970 but (briefly) released in 1974, and is also known as either Hollywood Horror House (the video edition) or The Comeback (its production title). The film stars Miriam Hopkins, in her last big-screen role, as a drunken, washed-up Norma Desmond-ish movie queen living in a […]

'Golden Dawn' Review: Politically Incorrect Musical Extravaganza

Ray Enright's early musical Golden Dawn should be filed under the “What Were They Thinking” department. Warner Bros. certainly wasn't expecting commercial or popular success with this demented story set in darkest East Africa during World War I. The plot goes as follows: the Germans are holding British prisoners. The […]

'Lady in a Cage': Olivia de Havilland Psycho-Horror Drama

Lady in a Cage (1964) Dir.: Walter Grauman. Scr.: Luther Davis. Cast: Olivia de Havilland, James Caan, Jennifer Billingsley, Ann Sothern, Jeff Corey, Rafael Campos, William Swan, Scatman Crothers   Olivia de Havilland jumped on the aging-actress horror-film bandwagon with the lurid shocker Lady in a Cage. That said, I […]

'Blonde Venus': Marlene Dietrich-Cary Grant Racy Pre-Code Drama

Blonde Venus is my favorite of the Marlene Dietrich-Josef von Sternberg collaborations. This melodrama simply has it all. The film begins with the ever-dull and wooden Herbert Marshall as an American soldier in Germany during World War I. At one point, he and his troops come upon a group of […]

'Picture Mommy Dead': Don Ameche & Zsa Zsa Gabor

The 1960s shlocker Picture Mommy Dead starts out promisingly. An unstable girl is released to her father after spending time in a convent-cum-mental hospital, recovering from some kind of emotional illness. The girl is taken to the family mansion where her mother was burned to death. The psychobabble begins. Yet, […]

'A Fool There Was' Movie Review: Theda Bara Early Sex Siren

A Fool There Was. This creaky old relic introduced the earliest screen image of a Vamp – that dangerous viper-of-a-femme fatale who could lead any respectable man astray just by dropping her handkerchief and revealing a glimpse of her ankle. In the first few scenes, Theda Bara has already lured […]

'Myra Breckinridge' Review: Raquel Welch and Mae West in Cult Classic

Myra Breckinridge. Has anybody ever said anything good about this movie? Not that it's a cinematic masterpiece or even one of the must-see worst cult movies ever made, but Myra does have its place for bad-movie lovers. The director, Michael Sarne, has to take the blame for some of the […]

'The Godless Girl': The Temptations of Atheism

  This one took me totally by surprise! Cecil B. DeMille's last silent movie (one version has added talking scenes), The Godless Girl, starts out as an intriguing story (by Jeanie Macpherson) about high-school hijinks – but instead of Sharks and Jets, the gangs consist of Atheists and Believers. Fronting […]

'Who Killed Teddy Bear' Movie Review: Sal Mineo

Joseph Cates' Who Killed Teddy Bear makes me want to run for my scissors. No, not to kill Teddy Bear, but to edit out all the long, panning shots and the interminable disco dancing that keep this crime melodrama from flowing. But on the other hand Who Killed Teddy Bear […]

'Berserk!': Joan Crawford in Tights in Cult Horror Classic

A delightfully daffy freak show on the surface, underneath Berserk! could play as a 1940s Woman's Picture: Hard-as-nails female circus owner stops at nothing to get business for her show. Also, the garish Technicolor, cast of circus freaks, and blood-and-gore theme make it an exploitation film at its best. And […]

'Applause': Rouben Mamoulian's Revolutionary Early Talkie Stars Broadway Legend Helen Morgan

Rouben Mamoulian was one of the most talented directors of all time. His early musical Applause proves it. Applause stars stage legend Helen Morgan (above) as Kitty Darling, a chubby burlesque dancer who can do a high-kick number onstage, then proceed directly to her dressing room and have a baby. […]

'The Volga Boatman': Cecil B. DeMille Compelling Drama with Future Cowboy William Boyd

The Cecil B. DeMille epic The Volga Boatman should be book-ended with DeMille's 1929 drama The Godless Girl. Both tell compelling stories without a clear, definite point of view. Picture it: Russia right before the Bolshevik revolution. The peasants are seething against the ruling class. We see workers slaving to […]

Stella Maris - Mary Pickford - Marshall Neilan

Stella Maris (1918) Dir.: Marshall Neilan. Scr.: Frances Marion; from William J. Locke's novel. Cast: Mary Pickford, Conway Tearle, Marcia Manon, Herbert Standing, Ida Waterman, Josephine Crowell   Poor Stella Maris. She's a rich crippled girl who lives her life under the generous protection of her wealthy aunt and uncle. […]

'The Single Standard': Greta Garbo Silent Film Curiosity

Johnny Mack Brown or Nils Asther? Nils Asther or Johnny Mack Brown? Conventional love or hot sex? That is the question Greta Garbo agonizes over in this her penultimate – and beautifully conceived – silent film. It all starts at one of those late night parties that all the idle […]