Friday, February 24, 2017

Tonight's Movie: The Gourmet Detective: A Healthy Place to Die (2015)

Last night I reviewed THE GOURMET DETECTIVE (2015), the first film in a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries series.

Dylan Neal stars as celebrity chef Henry Ross, with Brooke Burns costarring as San Francisco Police Detective Maggie Price.

THE GOURMET DETECTIVE: A HEALTHY PLACE TO DIE (2015) is the second TV-movie in the series, and I found it as engaging as the first.

Henry is scheduled to give a presentation at a cooking conference at a luxury resort, and when his assistant Lucy (Shannon Chan-Kent) has to cancel out of using her suite, Henry offers it to Maggie when her boss (Samantha Ferris) insists she take a vacation.

No one will be surprised that someone attending the conference ends up dead, and Maggie and Henry are soon on the case.

Matthew Kevin Anderson and Marc Senior return as Maggie's colleagues on the force, with Christine Willes as her mom and Ali Skovbye as her daughter.

Suspects in the murder include Hallmark Channel regulars Brendan Penny (CHESAPEAKE SHORES) and Crystal Lowe (SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED).

I found this film quite enjoyable. Henry and Maggie still bicker, but their relationship has also become warmer, as they each continue to learn to appreciate one another. The supporting regulars are all charming, and the "foodie" background is a real plus.

THE GOURMET DETECTIVE was directed by Scott Smith. Lead actor Dylan Neal cowrote the script with two partners; Neal was also an executive producer.

Up next in the series: DEATH AL DENTE: A GOURMET DETECTIVE MYSTERY (2016). Another title will air sometime in 2017.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

TCM Launches Noir Alley on March 5th

TCM made an exciting announcement today: Sunday, March 5th, is the launch date for the new TCM franchise, Noir Alley.

Eddie Muller of the Film Noir Foundation will host a film noir every Sunday morning at 7:00 a.m. Pacific Time/10:00 Eastern.

The series launches with THE MALTESE FALCON (1941) on the 5th, followed in succeeding weeks by DETOUR (1945), ACT OF VIOLENCE (1948), and TENSION (1949).

Eddie and Ben Mankiewicz filmed a cute ad on Eddie's new set.

TCM has also launched a @NoirAlley account on Twitter. Follow it for all the latest news on the series, and Tweet using the hashtag #NoirAlley. There is also a Noir Alley Facebook page. Both social media accounts "will feature a constantly refreshed collection of special content, including exclusive videos from Eddie Muller."

The TCM press release quotes Eddie as saying "Film noir offers more than just entertainment. They serve as a vital part of both film and American history and I’m honored to have the opportunity to share these cinematic treasures – from the well-known classics to the unsung gems waiting to be rediscovered – with TCM's community of movie lovers."

The enthusiasm of both Eddie and Alan K. Rode has encouraged me to delve deeper and deeper in film noir, with rewarding results. I'm delighted Eddie will have an expanded opportunity to share his great knowledge and love for the genre with new audiences thanks to TCM. I look forward to congratulating him at the upcoming Noir City Film Festival!

Speaking of Noir City, the schedule just went live this week, and it's completely amazing. I'm going to be spending a lot of time in Hollywood next month! I'll be posting more on the schedule here in March.

Tonight's Movie: The Gourmet Detective (2015)

Dylan Neal stars as THE GOURMET DETECTIVE (2015) for the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel.

THE GOURMET DETECTIVE is the first film in a series; two additional films have aired to date, with a fourth planned for 2017.

Neal not only stars in the film, he served as one of the producers and cowrote the film with Becky Southwell, based on a mystery series by Peter King.

Neal plays Henry Ross, a celebrity chef who happens to be at a banquet when one of his colleagues suddenly dies -- possibly deliberately poisoned by seafood. Henry is recruited to serve as a consultant to San Francisco PD Detective Maggie Price, and his keen eye for detail, along with his knowledge of the culinary scene, helps Maggie crack the case.

Neal brings considerable depth to quirky Henry, who's also a past chess champion able to advise Maggie's teenage daughter Abby (Ali Skovbye) when she plays in a tournament. He isn't afraid to be a tad obnoxious, picking up the mess inside Maggie's car or advising her to eat "real food," but he's also quite charming -- especially when he shows up to cook breakfast for Maggie, her daughter, and her mom (Christine Willes).

Fully up with the times, Henry's also a food blogger, aided by his assistant Lucy (Shannon Chan-Kent).

Brooke Burns (THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR) has a tougher role as the uptight Maggie, who challenges Henry from the moment they "meet cute" when she attends his cooking class while on a date. Balancing a stressful job and single parenting, she's on the impatient side and doesn't suffer fools -- or bossy chefs -- gladly, but she gradually warms up to Henry as she comes to appreciate his talents.

The cast also includes Samantha Ferris, Matthew Kevin Anderson, and Marc Senior as Maggie's coworkers at SFPD. All three characters are fun, providing some nice moments of comic relief.

THE GOURMET DETECTIVE was directed by Scott Smith and filmed by James Liston.

Although set in San Francisco, the movie was filmed in Canada, like the majority of Hallmark films.

Fans of classic-era detective series should watch for this one. It's a fun film which can be enjoyed by the entire family.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Branded (1931)

BRANDED (1931) is a relatively minor Buck Jones Western, though even lesser Jones Westerns have their compensations.

In this one Buck plays the unfortunately named Cuthbert Chauncey Dale, who understandably prefers to go by Tom!

Tom and his pal Swede (John Oscar) are erroneously arrested for the robbery of a stagecoach. They escape and head for the ranch Tom has inherited, but it's out of the frying pan and into the fire, as at one point Tom is accused of rustling.

Ironically, Tom is befriended by the actual stage robber (Wallace MacDonald), who aids Tom and Swede when the going gets tough.

Although I didn't find this one of Jones's more interesting films, there are still some special aspects, including a beautifully staged death scene near the end of the movie.

There are also some fantastic shots of Vasquez Rocks and the Iverson Ranch.

I didn't find leading lady Ethel Kenyon very likeable, but she had an interesting offscreen life. Her first two husbands were Charles Butterworth and director A. Edward Sutherland, before she found longtime happiness in a marriage which lasted over a half century.

There's an interview with Kenyon at the Western Clippings site in which she remembers a few things about the film, including that Jones "seemed very nice."

BRANDED was directed by D. Ross Lederman. It was filmed by Elmer Dyer and Benjamin Kline.

BRANDED is available on DVD from Sony Choice. It's a good print, albeit with the usual "Gail Pictures" title card found on so many Columbia films of the era. You can learn more about that at IMDb.

I rented the movie from ClassicFlix, where there are big changes ahead; the rental section of the site, now called ClassicFlix Underground, is going to be restricted to current and past members, but the company is launching a new Blu-ray line.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

I continue making my way through the Fast and Furious series, intending to be caught up by the time the newest film, THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS (2017), is released this April.

FAST & FURIOUS 6 (2013) is tremendous fun, as good or better than the previous series high point, FAST FIVE (2011).

The series just keeps getting better. The movies have come a long way from the relatively simple street racing of the earliest films; we’re in superhero territory now, and while much of the film may be unbelievable, it’s all grand fun, the perfect mix of action, comedy, and drama...and as a bonus, it's partly set in my favorite city, London. The film may not be "art," per se, but you won't find a better popcorn movie.

This time around Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) needs the help of retired criminal Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team in order to take out a criminal (Luke Evans) who's pulled a sophisticated heist with fast cars. The fate of much of the free world may hang in the balance. Or something like that.

The bait for Dom and his "family" is that Hobbs has evidence that Dom's old love Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), thought dead, is still alive. If the gang helps Hobbs, they'll not only find Letty but receive full pardons.

Dom's sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and ex-cop Brian (Paul Walker) are now parents, but Mia immediately supports Brian aiding Dom in order to "bring Letty home." Also answering the call are Tej (Ludacris), Han (Sun Kang), Gisele (Gal Gadot), and Roman (Tyrese Gibson).

There's just one problem, in that when the Torretto gang goes off to war, they neglect to protect those left behind: Mia, baby Jack, and Dom's girlfriend Elena (Elsa Pataky).

In a dozen years’ worth of movies we’ve gotten to know the large cast and their relationships, and compelling new characters have been added. Could there be a more perfect addition to the cast than Dwayne Johnson as Agent Hobbs? There was a scene 18 minutes in where he took a large gun to a vending machine which had me laughing till I cried.

On one level the movie is completely unbelievable, whether it's characters flying through the air and landing unhurt or a plane trying to take off on what must be the longest runway in the world, based on how long it takes the crew to bring it down.

On another level, though, there's a great deal of down-to-earth heart, camaraderie, and emphasis on family. The continuity and traditions of a dozen years' worth of movies to this point make the movies about much more than just wrecking an unbelievable number of cars. I especially enjoy that grace is always said before meals in these films; indeed, the movie closes with a prayer of thanksgiving, ending with the delightful final line “Thank You for fast cars!”

Not all the characters make it through, and it's sad to see them go; in fact, one meets his end in a “tag” scene mid closing credits, which was a stunner.

It will be hardest of all to say goodbye to Brian with FURIOUS 7 (2015), necessitated by Walker’s tragic death, but by all accounts it is handled beautifully.

FAST & FURIOUS 6 was directed by Justin Lin and filmed by Stephen Windon.

Parental Advisory: FAST & FURIOUS is rated PG-13 for extensive non-graphic (but lethal) cartoon violence, as well as some language and sexuality.

FAST & FURIOUS 6 is available on DVD, Blu-ray, or Amazon Instant Video.

The FAST & FURIOUS 6 trailer is at IMDb.

Previous reviews in this series: THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS (2001), 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS (2003), FAST & FURIOUS (2009) and FAST FIVE (2011). A related film, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT (2006), takes place after FAST & FURIOUS 6 and will be reviewed in the future along with FURIOUS 7.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Battleground (1949) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

The classic WWII film BATTLEGROUND (1949) is now available on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive.

In a nice coincidence, this film about the siege of Bastogne in late 1944 was on my list of 10 Classics to see in 2017. I just posted the final review from my 2016 list last night, and now my 2017 list is off and running!

BATTLEGROUND is an MGM film directed by William A. Wellman from an Oscar-winning script by associate producer Robert A. Pirosh.

The film is about a section of the 101st Airborne which is trapped in the area of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. The Germans are so close they have even infiltrated the Allies in stolen uniforms. It's constantly snowing, rations are low, and poor flying conditions are preventing relief supplies from being dropped.

The men lean on their friendships and remember their families back home as they struggle for survival. Some will make it through, but many won't.

The movie's look, with the soldiers constantly against a snow white background, is unforgettable, and there are actors to match: Van Johnson, John Hodiak, George Murphy, Ricardo Montalban, Marshall Thompson, James Whitmore, Don Taylor, Herbert Anderson, Leon Ames, Jerome Courtland, Richard Jaeckel, and many more. Their performances are believably low-key, yet they're in the midst of high drama.

It's a tough film to watch, especially as several of the actors' characters don't survive, yet it's so well made you can't quit either. Thinking of the men who actually went through the experience in real life is sobering. It's a great relief when the film's 118 minutes are up and the unit is able to march back from the front.

Much of the movie must have been filmed in soundstages, but it feels authentically cold and miserable. It's a dark, gritty film with superb black and white photography by Paul C. Vogel; his work almost has a documentary look. Vogel deservedly won an Academy Award.

It's interesting to note that some of the cast were no strangers to WWII movies. Johnson, for instance, had starred in THIRTY SECONDS OVER TOKYO (1944), and he and Hodiak were both in COMMAND DECISION (1948) the year before BATTLEGROUND.

Movies like BATTLEGROUND, COMMAND DECISION, or TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH (1949) seem to have been a way to help the country work through feelings of trauma in the years immediately following the war, while simultaneously paying tribute to those who served.

The BATTLEGROUND Blu-ray is a beautiful print. It imports a trailer, cartoon, and Pete Smith short from the original DVD release.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the WBShop.

Tonight's Movies: Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) and College (1927) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

This week Kino Lorber releases a terrific two-disc set with a pair of silent Buster Keaton comedies, STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. (1928) and COLLEGE (1927).

Like the set I recently reviewed with Keaton's THE GENERAL (1926) and THREE AGES (1923), both films are great-looking new 2K restorations from Lobster Films. Each movie comes on its own disc with excellent extras, which are listed at the end of this review.

I found both films quite entertaining. This was my second time to see STEAMBOAT BILL, JR., which I first saw with a live orchestra at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival.

Having now seen additional Keaton films, I enjoyed returning to STEAMBOAT BILL, JR., and this time I appreciated it even more.

STEAMBOAT BILL, JR., is the story of a young dandy (Keaton), who is reunited with his steamboat captain father (Ernest Torrence) for the first time in many years.

The father, who is struggling to keep his business afloat, so to speak, initially despairs of his citified son, but when Jr. breaks his dad out of jail they reach a new understanding.

Jr. is sweet on Kitty King (Marion Byron), whose father (Tom McGuire), has been trying to put Steamboat Bill out of business, but when a huge storm hits Jr. has the chance to rescue the Kings and unite their families.

This one should be seen for the stunts alone, which are completely mind-blowing; they include the famous scene where the wall of a house falls over, with Keaton perfectly on target to miss being hit. It has to be seen to be believed. His physicality, also seen climbing from level to level on the boat, is simply amazing.

STEAMBOAT BILL, JR., was directed by Charles Reisner and the uncredited Keaton. It was filmed by Bert Haines and Dev Jennings. The running time is 70 minutes.

COLLEGE is somewhat reminiscent of Harold Lloyd's THE FRESHMAN (1925), with Keaton as an awkward new college student, but it succeeds on its own terms thanks to a series of amusing visual jokes.

The scholastically oriented Keaton character decides to become an athlete in order to impress a young lady (Anne Cornwall), with awkward results. Baseball, track and field, and rowing all challenge him -- though somehow, while working as a waiter, he can do a backwards somersault without spilling a cup of coffee! I had to replay that delightful scene for a second look.

Ultimately, though, he's suddenly able to put athletic skills to work in order to save his lady love when her reputation is about to be compromised by a rival (Harold Goodwin).

Like STEAMBOAT BILL, JR., so much of the movie is based in physical humor and derring-do that it defies easy description. Incidentally, I was interested to learn that, as physically agile as Keaton was, his final pole vault into a window had to be doubled by an Olympic gold medalist!

COLLEGE was directed by James W. Horne along with the uncredited Keaton. Like STEAMBOAT BILL, JR., it was filmed by Bert Haines and Dev Jennings. The running time is 66 minutes.

STEAMBOAT BILL, JR., and COLLEGE each have a choice of orchestral or organ music track; I listened to the orchestral scores by Timothy Brock (STEAMBOAT BILL, JR.) and the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra (COLLEGE) for my reviews.

STEAMBOAT BILL, JR., also comes with a commentary track, an introduction, and a vintage Alka-Seltzer commercial with Keaton.

COLLEGE includes a fascinating 10-minute locations tour with John Bengston which I suspect will be particularly appreciated by Southern Californians. The movie was shot at USC, the Coliseum, and Newport Bay, among other familiar locations.

The COLLEGE disc also includes a silent Mack Sennett short, RUN, GIRL, RUN (1928), starring Carole Lombard. It was silly but as a Lombard fan I enjoyed the chance to see some of her early work.

Other extras on the COLLEGE disc are two different introductions (one by Lillian Gish) plus Keaton's last onscreen performance, in an industrial short called THE SCRIBE (1966).

I reviewed the Blu-ray edition of this set, which is also available from Kino on DVD.

Keaton fans will also want to check out my recent review of another new two-film set from Kino Lorber, containing THE GENERAL (1926) and THREE AGES (1923).

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray collection.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Tonight's Movie: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

It's finally time for the final review from my list of 10 Classics to see in 2016, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962).

This was, to be honest, the only film on last year's list which I didn't really enjoy. Though I've not felt drawn to the story over the years, I did expect to like the film more than I did, especially because of Gregory Peck. He's wonderful, but I didn't care for much else about either the story or the movie's style.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is, of course, based on the novel by Harper Lee. The screenplay was written by Lee and Horton Foote.

It's the story of six-year-old Scout (Mary Badham) and her older brother Jem (Phillip Alford), who live with their widowed attorney father, Atticus (Peck), in a small Southern town during the Great Depression.

The children have a loving relationship with their father and are also cared for by housekeeper Calpurnia (Estelle Evans) and thoughtful neighbor Miss Maudie (Rosemary Murphy), but otherwise life in town is filled with fearful and unpleasant characters.

And while the children navigate a challenging environment, including difficult experiences at school, their father is appointed to defend a young black man (Brock Peters) wrongly accused of rape.

The movie felt similar in some ways to STARS IN MY CROWN (1950), in which an honorable preacher raises his orphaned nephew and deals with bigotry, but I think the warm, lovingly made and less self-conscious STARS IN MY CROWN is much the superior film.

There seems to be a certain style of Very Important Movie of the late '50s/early '60s which just doesn't work for me, feeling phony, unrealistic, negative, or all three. 12 ANGRY MEN (1957) and INHERIT THE WIND (1960) are two additional examples; interestingly, all three films have courtroom settings.

My problem with these movies isn't about the depiction of legal injustices or the like. It’s more a certain self-important tone and general attitude that the world is a rotten place.

In the case of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, I felt wary from the slow, artsy-craftsy opening credits, which practically screamed “syrupy, sad movie coming”!

Peck was absolutely wonderful, of course, but other than his character’s parental warmth and honor, I didn’t find much of interest about the story.

I didn’t care for the Scout character or the kids in the movie in general – and what’s with calling their father by his first name? -- and I especially didn’t enjoy the children having one sour experience after another, whether dealing with various neighbors or at school. Other than some caring adults in their lives, there was no hint of happy childhood experiences to balance out the darkness.

Atticus Finch might be a shining beacon of what is good in the world, but much of the film was spent depicting why his town was a pretty terrible place to grow up. All in all, not that pleasant to watch, and not a movie I expect to return to anytime soon.

I can understand to a certain extent why so many people admire the film, but it's just not my cup of the proverbial tea. And that makes the proverbial world go 'round!

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD was directed by Robert Mulligan and filmed by Russell Harlan. It runs a long 129 minutes.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is available on DVD and Blu-ray, and it can be streamed via Amazon.

Onward to my 2017 list! I'll be reviewing my first film from that list, BATTLEGROUND (1949), in the near future.

Tonight's Movie: Cass Timberlane (1947) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Friday's big Southern California rainstorm knocked out our Internet! Thankfully a repairman came out on a Sunday, so I'm up and running again after 48 hours offline. I'll be catching up on several reviews I have in the works as I'm able.

First up: Spencer Tracy, Lana Turner, and Zachary Scott in CASS TIMBERLANE (1947), available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

For someone who recently admitted not liking Spencer Tracy all that much, I've sure seen a lot of him so far this year! CASS TIMBERLANE follows my recent reviews of other Tracy releases from the Warner Archive, TORTILLA FLAT (1942), THE PEOPLE AGAINST O'HARA (1951), and the brand-new Blu-ray BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK (1955).

Like the other Tracy films, I was drawn to CASS TIMBERLANE because it's an MGM production with a superb supporting cast. And I must say that, as it happens, this is one of Tracy's most likeable performances.

He plays the title character in this adaptation of a Sinclair Lewis novel, written by Donald Ogden Stewart. Timberlane is a small-town judge who is generally happy with his job (when it's not putting him to sleep) and his friends (when they're not gossiping or trying to plan his life behind his back). However, the widowed judge is rather lonely in his huge, dark mansion.

Enter Ginny Marshland (Turner), who Timberlane first meets when she's the witness in a small claims case. He bumps into her again, takes her to dinner, and soon a May-December romance is brewing, to the displeasure of his country club set, who think he should marry Chris (Margaret Lindsay).

Cass and Ginny marry and she's soon let sunshine into both his home and his life in general. The couple's happiness is marred only by the loss of their expected baby and Ginny's boredom with her expected social "role" and feelings of not fitting in with his "set."  And there's also the problem of Bradd (Scott), a friend of Cass's Ginny does like, but Bradd might be becoming a little too close to his friend's wife.

This is a fairly interesting marital drama, populated with a terrific cast. Cass and Ginny's love transcending age and class differences feels believable, though on the other hand one has to wonder why Cass likes his rather unpleasant friends so well. Inertia and expectations?

The second hour of the film isn't as compelling as the first, as marital problems replace the more interesting scenes of courtship and Ginny adapting to life with Cass. The story is overly drawn out at 119 minutes, yet at the same time some of the story shifts are a bit abrupt.  All in all, though, it's an entertaining film which I enjoyed.

Aside from Chris, the kindest of Cass's friends is Lillian, played by Josephine Hutchinson. It was lovely to see her in this, having recently watched her in a pair of '30s Warner Archive releases, HAPPINESS AHEAD (1934) and OIL FOR THE LAMPS OF CHINA (1935).

In fact, the movie provides a reunion of '30s Warner Bros. players; in addition to Lindsay and Hutchinson, John Litel and Mary Astor are in this as well. Unfortunately, although Astor delivers a handful of acidic lines with panache, she's fairly lost among the crowd.

The cast also includes Selena Royle, John Alexander, Tom Drake, Albert Dekker, Richard Gaines, Rose Hobart, Mona Barrie, Cameron Mitchell, Griff Barnett, Milburn Stone, Frank Ferguson, Jessie Grayson, and Howard Freeman. And it's no surprise when perennial dress extra Bess Flowers turns up in a cocktail party scene -- which also has a cameo by Walter Pidgeon! Casts just don't come any better.

CASS TIMBERLANE was directed by George Sidney and filmed in black and white by Robert Planck.

MGM fans will enjoy some good looks at "St. Louis Street." As was the case in the same year's CYNTHIA (1947), Cass lives down the street from the MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS house -- yet when you go inside, the staircase and living room are the Smith house set!

For more on this film, please visit a good post by my friend Cliff at Immortal Ephemera.

The Warner Archive DVD is a fine print. The disc includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Women Are Like That (1938)

Kay Francis and Pat O'Brien star in the Warner Bros. marital melodrama WOMEN ARE LIKE THAT (1938).

The movie opens in promising fashion, as Claire (Francis) leaves her stuffy society fiance Martin (Ralph Forbes) at the altar and elopes with Bill (O'Brien).

All is well at first, but then Claire's irresponsible father (Thurston Hall) embezzles money from the advertising agency where Bill and Martin both work. Bill proposes to essentially work for free until the money is recouped if the partners will shield his wife from knowing what her father did.

Bill becomes frustrated as business tanks under Martin's leadership. When Claire is able to land an account for the struggling company, Bill isn't thrilled -- he's humiliated and in short order takes off on a long trip just like her father did. Can this marriage be saved?

WOMEN ARE LIKE THAT stars two favorite Warner Bros. actors in Francis and O'Brien, but while the film has its pleasant moments, it's on the tedious side. Bill's about face from loving husband to obnoxious jerk is hard to take, even factoring in different attitudes of the era, and the couple spend more of the movie bickering than romancing.

It's one of those films which is pleasant "background noise" to have on the TV, thanks to the lead actors and Francis's typically lovely gowns by Orry-Kelly, but the plot is forgettable and all in all it could have been a lot better.

The supporting cast includes Grant Mitchell, Sarah Edwards, Melville Cooper, Joyce Compton, and Gordon Oliver. Carole Landis, who would become a friend of O'Brien's and costar with him in the terrific SECRET COMMAND (1944), has a prominent bit role as a guest at a cocktail party. They would also appear together in HAVING WONDERFUL CRIME (1945) before her untimely death in 1948.

WOMEN ARE LIKE THAT runs 79 minutes. It was directed by Stanley Logan. The movie was filmed in black and white by Sid Hickox.

This film is not available on VHS or DVD. It may be seen on Turner Classic Movies. The trailer is at the TCM website.

Tonight's Movie: Desperate Journey (1942)

I've watched a number of films recently starring Errol Flynn or Ronald Reagan, and DESPERATE JOURNEY (1942) gave me a two for one deal, with Flynn and Reagan as costars.

Flynn plays an Aussie and Reagan an American who fly for the RAF, along with a Canadian (Arthur Kennedy), a Scotsman (Alan Hale Sr.), and a young British airman (Ronald Sinclair). This group are the sole survivors of the crash of their Flying Fortress after a mission to take out a rail line deep in German territory.

Though they're initially captured by a German major (Raymond Massey), the men manage to escape, after which they embark on a series of perilous adventures as they attempt to make their way back to England.

While not as realistic as the similarly themed British film ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING (1942), which was released in the U.S. just a couple of weeks later, DESPERATE JOURNEY entertains thanks to the strong cast.

Flynn and Reagan make a fine bantering team as they attempt to make it back to England with some stolen German documents in hand. (Reagan has a particularly good scene where he bamboozles Massey.) Kennedy has a more serious role as the bookkeeper-turned-navigator who tries to keep the men on course both literally and figuratively.

Nancy Coleman has a few scenes in the second half of the film as a member of an underground group who helps the men in Germany. This part of the story made me curious as to whether anything like that actually existed in Germany or it was pure fantasy.

The Germans are mostly cartoonish; one is played by Sig Ruman of TO BE OR NOT TO BE (1942) and another is played by John Banner of HOGAN'S HEROES, so that gives the idea. Massey spends a lot of time impotently shouting.

DESPERATE JOURNEY was intended as an exciting adventure film and morale booster, and it succeeds on that level. I think I may have liked another recently reviewed film in the set, NORTHERN PURSUIT (1943), a little better, but this was an entertaining film.

DESPERATE JOURNEY was directed by Raoul Walsh. It was shot in black and white by Bert Glennon. The running time is 107 minutes.

DESPERATE JOURNEY is part of the TCM Spotlight Errol Flynn Adventures set.

DESPERATE JOURNEY also had a VHS release. It can be rented for streaming on Amazon, and it's also shown on Turner Classic Movies.

There's a trailer on TCM.

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