Review older films here: 1979 and earlier - Page 63 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1861 of 1866 Old 05-25-2017, 04:14 AM - Thread Starter
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This was Laird Cregar's last film. A tragic case, he was closeted gay man, very conflicted, large framed with a poor self-image. As said, dropping all that weight probably killed him.

Everyone who worked with him remembered his intense focus and great talent.

Vincent Price was a friend and gave the eulogy at his funeral. Much of the work Price got in the next few years probably would have been the "Laird Cregar" role if he had lived.

-Bill
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post #1862 of 1866 Old 05-25-2017, 09:03 AM
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I believe I have that "Concerto Macabre" on one of fine Charles Gerhardt and National Philharmonic film score albums from the 70s (remastered for CDs in Dolby Surround). Have to see the film now, I'd watch Linda Darnell doing anything. I'd watch her doing nothing, in fact.
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post #1863 of 1866 Old Yesterday, 05:09 AM - Thread Starter
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The Locket (1946), directed by John Brahm.

An unusual women's noir thriller: our central character is a mystery woman and the story is about her and her men. She seems too perfect, and in fact has a flaw: she takes jewelry and sometimes leaves a body behind. She doesn't seem to remember. Is she an exceptionally good liar, or does she (like many of us) have a creative memory, or is she evil or amoral, or just mentally ill?

The story unfolds in nested flashbacks: from her wedding day, back to a previous marriage with a psychiatrist, then back to a romance with tough guy painter Robert Mitchum, then back to a childhood incident of yearning and humiliation. Incredibly, after all the flashbacks are unwound, the oldest and newest part of the plot are ingeniously linked together.

(The only other film I recall having such deeply nested flashbacks is Passage to Marseille (1944)).

I haven't seen much of Laraine Day, but she was very impressive when featured, for example as co-star in Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent (1940). She is amazing here and I wonder that she didn't become a major star. Her beauty is like a fortress, protecting impenetrable secrets.

The segment with Mitchum gets the greatest amount of time and they are good together.

I don't know why I had never seen this before; it is an exceptional effort. I've been seeing quite a few films by director John Brahm lately and he always delivers a superior treatment.

Cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca is not as famous as some, working on genre movies for Val Lewton as well as notable noir like Out of the Past (1947), but I'm always on the lookout for him these days. Here his lighting and composition are just stunning.

Musuraca began his Hollywood career as a chauffeur during the silent era; he ended it working on the TV series F Troop.

Melodramatic score by Roy Webb.

Available on DVD.



-Bill
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post #1864 of 1866 Old Today, 05:44 AM - Thread Starter
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The Mad Magician (1954), directed by John Brahm.

The craftsman who invents new stage magic tricks wants to perform them himself, but his conniving employer and another magician won't allow it. Murder is the solution, but getting away with it is a lot of work. One thing leads to another, of course.

A favorite bit: an arrogant magician struts around the room, dictating terms, while Vincent Price coolly watches, unconcerned. The door to the workroom is locked and the visitor is a fool dancing on the edge of the grave.

A quick followup to House of Wax (1953): 3D again, Price returns, same writer and cinematographer, and the artist in his workshop looks very similar in both films:



Saving money by going black-and-white. Only 72 minutes long.

John Brahm directs this time and he recycles elements from his earlier films: the mysterious, dangerous tenant from The Lodger (1944) and disposing of a body on a giant bonfire as in Hangover Square (1945).

Brahm did not think much of the picture and it is the lightest of his thriller series.

Price appears very fit, still with those leading man looks, and said he had never been in such good shape. Mad murderer that he is, we are on his side, all his victims being so unlikable.

Patrick O'Neal's first feature film; he'd done TV and theater before. With Eva Gabor, who is quite a dish.

We have a few gimmicky 3D exploitation moments, but otherwise the composition in depth is nicely done.

Available in 3D Blu-ray from Twilight Time. Even for 2D viewing this is probably the first time the correct aspect ratio has been available for home viewers.

Extras include an enthusiastic commentary track by two Twilight Time regulars, one who knew Price for many years and always has great stories about him. Also with two Three Stooges shorts in 3D.



-Bill

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post #1865 of 1866 Old Today, 05:49 AM - Thread Starter
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That completes my short series on director John Brahm. As mentioned, I reviewed The Brasher Doubloon (1947) a few years ago.

I'll keep an eye out for others, but I think this covers his best known feature film work.

-Bill
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post #1866 of 1866 Old Today, 05:43 PM
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I was going to overlook The Mad Magician, but perhaps not now. Price was great.[1] Screen Archives Entertainment puts the TT titles on sale regularly, but you have to be careful, some titles (e.g. Harryhausen's First Men In The Moon) sell out fast and unexpectedly. Almost always have an isolated music track, which in the case of Journey To The Center Of the Earth is worth the price of the disc alone.

[1] And a very sweet man. My father went to prep school with him — that old cliché, "they were bunkies" — and my mother met him when, I think the story goes, he once came backstage at The Interplayers, the rep theater my parents were members of in the late 1950s, early 60s in San Francisco. She said he stepped back onto her foot accidentally, and was so gentle and apologetic she said it stopped hurting. Wish I'd been able to meet him just once and thank him for all his great film roles.
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