harrygbutler takes a ride on the Reading — 2
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By Roger Puta - Reading 905 at Reading Terminal, Philadelphia, September 1964, Public Domain, Link
Welcome to my second thread for 2020! I’m Harry, and this is my fifth year in the 75 Books Challenge. By training I'm a medievalist, by occupation I’m a project manager, after many years as an editor. My taste in reading runs to Golden Age and earlier mysteries, pulp detective and adventure fiction, Late Antique and medieval literature, westerns, and late nineteenth and early twentieth century popular fiction, among others. I also have a fondness for collections of cartoons and comic strips, and relatively recently I have begun collecting pulp magazines from the first half of the twentieth century. I usually have a few books going at once.
I'm also an inveterate movie watcher, and I track my viewing in my thread, too. I watch a wide variety of genres — mystery, western, comedy, adventure, science fiction, horror, and more — and tend to watch older movies, particularly from Hollywood's Golden Age in the 1930s and 1940s, but extending through the 1980s and only rarely later.
My wife Erika and I live in eastern Pennsylvania with three cats — Elli, Otto, and Pixie — and a dog, Hildy. Our pets occasionally make an appearance in my thread. My other interests include model railroading, gardening, and birding, so you'll sometimes see something related to them as well.
I try to provide some sort of comment on the books and magazines I read and the movies I watch, but they are short and aren't really reviews.
Books finished in the first quarter
1. Vengeance Is Mine, by Mickey Spillane
2. The Voice of the Night: The Cases of Jeff Fanchon, Inquirer, by Hugh Pendexter
3. When a Feller Needs a Friend, by Clare A. Briggs
4. The Customs of Catalonia Between Lords and Vassals, by the Barcelona Canon, Pere Albert: A Practical Guide to Castle Feudalism in Medieval Spain, by Pere Albert; trans. by Donald J. Kagay
5. Warlords, Warlocks & Witches, ed. by D. M. Ritzlin
6. Don't Step in the Leadership, by Scott Adams
7. The Savage Salome, by Carter Brown
8. Roman Antiquities, Books 3-4, by Dionysius of Halicarnassus; trans. by Earnest Cary
9. Fair Blows the Wind, by Louis L'Amour
10. German Romance, Volume III: Iwein or The Knight with the Lion, by Hartmann von Aue; trans. by Cyril Edwards
11. Death of a Citizen, by Donald Hamilton
12. Death Walks in Eastrepps, by Francis Beeding
13. Lord Lister, Known as Raffles, Master Thief, by Kurt Matull and Theo Blankensee; trans. by Joseph A. Lovece
14. The Hurricane, by Terence Robertson
15. The Ferguson Rifle, by Louis L'Amour
16. Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "Christmas in Duckburg", by Carl Barks
17. The Milliner's Hat Mystery, by Basil Thomson
18. Death Dealers & Diabolists, ed. by D. M. Ritzlin
19. Breakheart Pass, by Alistair MacLean
20. Best Cartoons of the Year 1950, ed. by Lawrence Lariar
21. A Good Year for Dwarfs?, by Carter Brown
22. The Knight of the Parrot: Early Adventures of Young King Arthur, trans. by Thomas E. Vesce
23. Hope and History: Five Salzburg Lectures, by Josef Pieper
24. Death in the Cup, by Moray Dalton
25. A Talent for Revenge, by John Cutter
26. Ghost Breaker, by Ron Goulart
27. Hagar's Knight Out, by Dik Browne
28. Arrest the Bishop?, by Winifred Peck
29. The Wrecking Crew, by Donald Hamilton
30. The Adventures of Jerry Muskrat, by Thornton Burgess
31. Cartoon Laffs, ed. by Clyde Carley
32. The Life of Lazaros of Mt. Galesion: An Eleventh-Century Pillar Saint, by Gregory the Cellarer; trans. by Richard P. H. Greenfield
33. Anonymous Footsteps, by John M. O'Connor
34. The Red Pavilion, by Robert van Gulik
Shorter works read in the first quarter
1. "Ghost of a Crown," by Sterling Lanier (first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, December 1976)
Art by Glen White, for Argosy All-Story Magazine - http://rebelsofmars.blogs.com/rebels_of_mars/a_merritt/, Public Domain, Link
I read relatively few magazines last year, but I'd like to get back to the many pulps I've acquired, so I'm setting a goal for myself of one per month this year.
Magazines completed in 2020
1. Storyhack Action & Adventure, Issue 2 (neo-pulp)
Our cat Otto is a big fan of movies: When we start to watch one, he comes running to the living room from wherever he may be and settles in for the duration, though he chiefly dozes rather than actively watching.
I fell just short of 350 movies in 2019, so I'd like to hit that number in 2020.
Movies watched in January
1. Mark of the Gorilla (Columbia, 1950)
2. Footsteps in the Night (Allied Artists, 1957)
3. Isle of Forgotten Sins (PRC, 1943)
4. Three Crosses Not To Die (original title: Tre croci per non morire) (1968)
5. The Inner Circle (Republic, 1946)
6. The Battle of the Damned (original title: Quella dannata pattuglia) (1969)
7. Beyond the Time Barrier (American International, 1960)
8. The Extra Girl (Mack Sennett Comedies, 1923)
9. The Fighting Renegade (Victory, 1939)
10. The Hound of the Baskervilles (Twentieth Century Fox, 1939)
11. Traitorous (original title: Da tai jian) (1976)
12. Bowery at Midnight (Monogram, 1942)
13. Shall We Dance (RKO, 1937)
14. Commandos (1968)
15. Stagecoach (UA, 1939)
16. Let's Get Tough! (Monogram, 1942)
17. Make Mine Music (Disney / RKO, 1946)
18. Hands of a Gunfighter (original title: Ocaso de un pistolero) (1965)
19. The Range Feud (Columbia, 1931)
20. The Burning Court (original title: La chambre ardente) (1962)
21. The Hidden City (Monogram, 1950)
22. Bikini Beach (American International, 1964)
23. Non-Stop New York (Gaumont British, 1937)
24. The Death Kiss (K.B.S. Productions / Sono Art-World Wide, 1932)
25. The Hell's Wind Staff (original title: Long hu men) (1979)
26. The Black Camel (Fox, 1931)
27. Aces and Eights (Puritan, 1936)
28. Buccaneer's Girl (Universal, 1950)
29. A Candidate for a Killing (original title: Un sudario a la medida) (1969)
30. They Were Expendable (MGM, 1945)
31. The Atomic Submarine (Allied Artists, 1959)
32. Feud of the West (Diversion, 1936)
33. Locker Sixty-Nine (Anglo-Amalgamated, 1962)
34. Death Trap (Anglo-Amalgamated, 1962)
35. The H-Man (original title: Bijo to ekitai ningen) (Toho, 1958; Columbia, 1959)
36. Death on High Mountain (original title: La morte sull'alta collina) (1969)
37. Where's That Fire? (Twentieth Century Fox / Gainsborough, 1939)
38. The Ghost Camera (Real Art / RKO, 1933)
39. The Night the World Exploded (Columbia, 1957)
40. Action Man (original title: Le soleil des voyous) (1967)
41. The Lady in Scarlet (Chesterfield, 1935)
42. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Twentieth Century Fox, 1939)
43. The Living Ghost (Monogram, 1942)
44. 12 to the Moon (Columbia, 1960)
45. Phantom Rancher (Colony, 1940)
46. The Ghost Walks (Invincible, 1934)
47. Destroy All Planets (original title: Gamera tai uchu kaijû Bairasu) (Daiei, 1968)
48. Seven Steps of Kung Fu (original title: Qi bu mi zong) (1979)
49. The Thirteenth Guest (Monogram, 1932)
50. Sagebrush Trail (Lone Star / Monogram, 1933)
51. The Seventh Curse (original title: Yuen Chun Hap yu Wai See Lee) (Golden Harvest / Paragon, 1986)
52. F.P.1 (Gaumont British / Fox / UFA, 1933)
53. Charlie Chan in Paris (Fox, 1935)
54. Lawless Land (Republic, 1937)
55. Crazy Knights (Monogram, 1944)
56. Palmy Days (Goldwyn / UA, 1931)
57. Time Table (Mark Stevens Productions / UA, 1956)
58. Dead Men Walk (PRC, 1943)
59. The Vampire Doll (original title: Yûrei yashiki no kyôfu: Chi wo sû ningyô) (Toho, 1970)
60. Texas Wildcats (Victory, 1939)
61. The Loves of Hercules (original title: Gli amori di Ercole) (1960)
62. Midnight Limited (Monogram, 1940)
63. Awkward Hands (original title: Manos torpes) (1970)
64. Pajama Party (American International, 1964)
65. X Marks the Spot (Republic, 1942)
66. Lake of Dracula (original title: Noroi no yakata: Chi o suu me) (Toho, 1971)
67. Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (Universal, 1942)
68. Danger Ahead (Monogram, 1940)
69. Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (Allied Artists, 1965)
70. Mozambique (1964)
71. The Gunman (Monogram, 1952)
72. Sink the Bismarck! (Twentieth Century Fox, 1960)
73. Evil of Dracula (original title: Chi o suu bara) (Toho, 1974)
74. The Human Monster (Monogram, 1940) (originally released in the UK as Dark Eyes of London by Pathé, 1939)
75. Riders of the Desert (Sono Art-World Wide, 1932)
76. Win Them All (Park Films, 1973)
77. Gallery of Horror (American General, 1967)
78. Ice Station Zebra (MGM, 1968)
79. Murder on the Yukon (Monogram, 1940)
80. Midnight Manhunt (Paramount, 1945)
81. Santo el enmascarado de plata y Blue Demon contra los monstruos (Santo and Blue Demon vs. the Monsters) (Cinematográfica Sotomayor, 1970)
82. The Red Blood of Courage (Ambassador, 1935)
83. Charlie Chan in Egypt (Fox, 1935)
84. Satanik (1968)
85. Caught Plastered (RKO, 1931)
86. Attack of the Monsters (original title: Gamera tai daiakuju Giron) (Daiei, 1969)
87. My Name Is Pecos (original title: 2 once di piombo) (1966)
88. Bulldog Drummond (Goldwyn / UA, 1929)
89. Goldsinger (original title: James Tont operazione U.N.O.) (1965)
90. Pecos Cleans Up (original title: Pecos è qui: prega e muori!) (1967)
91. Tiger Fangs (PRC, 1943)
92. The Weird Man (Shaw Brothers, 1983)
93. Condemned To Live (Invincible / Chesterfield, 1935)
94. Wrangler's Roost (Monogram, 1941)
95. Kriminal (1966)
96. The Beach Girls and the Monster (U.S. Films, 1965)
97. Candles at Nine (British National, 1944)
98. The Deadly Duo (Shaw Brothers, 1971)
99. Gog (Ivan Tors / UA, 1954)
100. Sky Bandits (Monogram, 1940)
101. Upperseven, l'uomo da uccidere (1966)
102. Return of the Deadly Blade (original title: Fei dao you jian fei dao) (1981)
103. Fenomenal and the Treasure of Tutankamen (original title: Fenomenal e il tesoro di Tutankamen) (1968)
104. Africa Screams (UA, 1949)
105. The Vampire Bat (Majestic, 1933)
106. Alias Boston Blackie (Columbia, 1942)
107. Prairie Law (RKO, 1940)
108. Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (Universal, 1942)
109. Da Istanbul ordine di uccidere (From Istanbul, Orders To Kill) (1965)
110. Song of Old Wyoming (PRC, 1945)
111. The Street Fighter (original title: Gekitotsu! Satsujin ken) (Toei, 1974)
112. The Bellboy (Paramount, 1960)
113. Treasure Hunt (IFD, 1952)
114. General Stone (original title: Shi san tai bao Li Cun Xiao) (1977)
115. Man on the Spying Trapeze (original title: Anónima de asesinos) (1966)
116. Murder by the Clock (Paramount, 1931)
117. Borderland (Paramount, 1937)
118. The Hidden Hand (WB, 1942)
- 13 books finished
- 1 shorter work finished
- 1 magazine finished
- 60 movies watched
I seem to be on track for my magazine reading, ahead of schedule with my movie watching, but slightly behind with my book reading.
Next one's yours!
>16 harrygbutler: Maybe if I found it in a Little Free Library....
Mickey Hargitay and then-wife Jayne Mansfield team on the screen, with Mansfield essaying a dual role and Hargitay tackling the role of son of Zeus. Fairly standard sword-and-sandal fare; mildly recommended for fans of the genre.
Crooks are targeting travelers carrying cash on the night train to Montreal, and a railroad detective (John King) investigates, helped by a witness who was robbed of valuable papers (Marjorie Reynolds). Fairly entertaining, with the location having some appeal; mildly recommended.
Slow-moving and downbeat western sees a pacifistic young man (Peter Lee Lawrence) turned into a gunman in his quest for vengeance against those who have abused both him and the woman he loves. Not recommended.
A Martian scout sent to prepare the way for an invasion tangles with teens, thieves, and Eric Von Zipper and his Rats in this fun beach movie. Recommended.
Confusingly titled mystery has a private eye about to report to the Army scrambling to find the killer(s) of his father, a policeman. The twist was not particularly surprising but rounded out the movie nicely. Mildly recommended.
Effective horror film has a young woman stalked by a vampire whom she met — or did she? — in a childhood dream. Recommended.
When German saboteurs wreak havoc in Britain and seek to demoralize the populace with the gloating broadcasts of the "Voice of Terror," Sherlock Holmes is called in to assist, despite the misgivings of many on the government council to which he reports. The first of Universal's Holmes-Watson films with a contemporary (1940s) setting is fast-paced, with effective concealment of the ringleader of the enemy agents. Recommended.
Sergeant Renfrew (James Newill) and Corporal Kelly (Dave O'Brien) investigate when an armored car disappears after picking up a load of gold at a bank; also unofficially sleuthing is the Inspector's daughter, Genevieve (Dorothea Kent), who studied criminology in college. As usual, this is fairly lighthearted fare and not much of a mystery. One of the weaker entries in the series; mildly recommended at best.
If the listings on LT are an accurate indication, it appears Terence Robertson mostly wrote nonfiction on World War 2, and I'd be willing to try one of those books.
>26 harrygbutler: *snort* I love a fish-out-of-water comedy.
>31 harrygbutler: It bewilders me how many literary readers dismiss L'Amour outright. Not every book was good, but at his best he was as fine a craftsman as they come.
I certainly agree on L'Amour. After many years of constantly rereading his books, I took a lengthy break, and I'm not sure I'm ready to consume them at the pace I did when I was younger, but there are many that are very well done, and even more that are solidly entertaining even with their flaws.
An android developed for space exploration and the scientist who designed him face an alien invasion aimed at kidnapping women. Some camp value, particularly in the character of the chief lieutenant of the alien princess, but otherwise there's not much point to this one. Not recommended.
A rather dull tale of murder and international crime, with Steve Cochran a pilot down on his luck who takes a job with drug smugglers. Not really recommended.
Fighting the Flying Circus, by Edward V. Rickenbacker (1919)
A Talent for Revenge, by John Cutter (1984)
The Airline Pirates, by John Gardner (1970)
Tales of Wells Fargo, by Frank Gruber (1958)
Duinesian Elegies, by Rainer Maria Rilke (1977)
A Glossed Wycliffite Psalter: Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Bodley 554, Vol. II (2019)
Murder Twice Told, by Donald Hamilton (?)
The Wrecking Crew, by Donald Hamilton (1960)
The Removers, by Donald Hamilton (1961)
Murderers' Row, by Donald Hamilton (1962)
The Ambushers, by Donald Hamilton (1963)
The Devastators, by Donald Hamilton (1965)
The Betrayers, by Donald Hamilton (1966)
The Menacers, by Donald Hamilton (1968)
The Interlopers, by Donald Hamilton (1969)
The Poisoners, by Donald Hamilton (1971)
The Intriguers, by Donald Hamilton (1972)
The Intimidators, by Donald Hamilton (1974)
The Retaliators, by Donald Hamilton (1976)
The Shadowers, by Donald Hamilton (1964)
Railroad Stories, February 1935
Railroad Stories, April 1935
Railroad Stories, July 1935
Railroad Stories, October 1935
Movies on DVD
Dance, Girl, Dance (1940)
Du Barry Was a Lady (1943)
No Way Out (1950)
The Birds (1963)
Critic's Choice (1963)
The Longest Yard (1974)
I'm a little more than a third of the way through Breakheart Pass but am unlikely to finish tonight. We took a break to watch the Ice Station Zebra movie (MGM, 1968), with Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Patrick McGoohan, and Jim Brown. It was fairly entertaining, but not as good as the book.
ETA later: I was wrong about pausing; Breakheart Pass swept me along, and I just finished up.
But wow, what a snoozer that was.
Marshal Whip Wilson travels to New Mexico to capture a man wanted for murder, but the local sheriff provides no help, and Wilson discovers the town is in the thrall of a criminal gang. Pretty standard fare, and Wilson isn't particularly charismatic; not particularly recommended.
Solid fictionalized account of the British hunt for the massive German battleship Bismarck in the spring of 1941 when it set out to menace the Atlantic convoys. Recommended.
This is another effective horror film from Toho, as the new psychology teacher at a private school realizes something very strange and menacing is going on. Recommended.
Police are baffled by a series of drownings: are they related? Some were insured through broker Dr. Orloff (Bela Lugosi), and soon another victim is found with similar ties. But what connection is there with a charitable institution for the blind? An entertaining little thriller, with a twist that the attentive viewer will likely spot; recommended.
Former Arizona Rangers reunite when the last felon they captured before disbanding escapes and targets one of their band while searching for his cache of stolen gold. A bit creaky, but with some nice touches; mildly recommended.
Danish? Really. She was as dreary a presence as the rest of them, and not particularly interesting in her scantily clad presence.
Not the movie guy. But you knew that.
Another fine collection of reprinted comic book stories from Fantagraphics starring Donald Duck, his nephews, Uncle Scrooge, Grandma Duck, and more. Recommended.
There's action aplenty as a woman teams up with crooks in order to track down her father's killer. There's a fair amount of humor mixed in; one woman's fighting style includes pantsing her opponents and stealing their bags of money, for example. Recommended.
This anthology horror film with John Carradine as narrator, and featuring Lon Chaney, Jr. in a late role in one segment, is disappointing. The segments are short and the twists are generally uninspired (though that in the segment "Count Alucard" was fairly amusing). Not really recommended, though, as the movie is on the dull side.
It's a race to the north as an American nuclear sub rushes toward a British weather station where a fire has left the survivors in desperate need of rescue. There's another reason for urgency, however: a Russian spy satellite that crashed nearby, and the Russians are eager to recover what it carried. Twists and tension abound. This movie is not nearly so good as Alistair MacLean's book, but it is still worth a look. Mildly recommended.
Poor John Carradine got roped into so many cheap movies.
I always figured that John Carradine must have been someone who looked on acting as a job and happily collected whatever paychecks he could, but I've never really read anything on his opinions of his body of work.
Sergeant Renfrew (James Newill) and Constable Kelly (Dave O'Brien) find a murdered man and evidence pointing to a counterfeiting ring that has been plaguing the country. Decent songs, decent action, mild humor; mildly recommended.
When a diamond thief, who is a missing mobster believed dead for 5 years, is gunned down, he lives long enough to take refuge in a nearby wax museum, leading to a game of Body, Body, Who's Got the Body? William Gargan and Ann Savage are rival newspaper reporters who compete with each other, and the police, while also facing off against the killer. Leo Gorcey provides some comic patter as the assistant at the wax museum. Mildly recommended.
I don't remember ever reading one of the Laurie Erskine books, I wonder if they're any good....
I own one of the Renfrew books, picked up at some library sale, I expect, but I've never read it. Someday, maybe.
The chance discovery of a body in a barn sets Inspector Vincent on a trail that leads to an international criminal syndicate — but does it lead to the murderer? Another satisfactory mystery from Basil Thomson. In this one we find Richardson, whose career we have followed for several books, now ensconced in a position of authority at Scotland Yard, with investigative duties handled by a more junior man. This slightly reduced the volume's appeal to me, as I hadn't expected the shift in focus, but I was nevertheless entertained. Recommended.
Masked wrestlers take on the monsters made famous in movies after a mad scientist revives the creatures, with ample wrestling action, too. The missing Universal monster, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, is represented by Cyclops, who at one point is described as coming out of a lagoon to kill. Silly fun; mildly recommended.
In this Northern, a stranger gets mixed up with crooks trying to gain control of a woman's oil-bearing property. Kermit Maynard is a pleasing hero, and it's interesting to see Ann Sheridan in an early role, but the print I watched suffered from too much missing footage (around 10 minutes were lacking) for me to appraise the movie as a whole.
An evocative atmosphere is a highlight of this Charlie Chan movie, in which the sleuth travels to Egypt to investigate illicit sales of artifacts found in an excavation but finds a disappearance and murder as well. Unfunny comic relief mars the movie, which otherwise would be a standout entry in the series; mildly recommended.
Another anthology of sword and sorcery stories by contemporary authors from DMR Books, though I found the lengthy first story, "Q'a the Librarian," off-putting because of an unsympathetic protagonist, and some of the others were rather too dark for my tastes. Mildly recommended.
A disfigured woman kills for a formula for cellular regeneration and then uses her rejuvenated appearance to enter a world of crime. Madrid and, particularly, Geneva locations add a bit of interest to an otherwise dull tale that depends rather too much on the audience's finding the woman ravishing after the formula does its work. Not recommended.
Out-of-work vaudevillians help out an old lady about to lose her drug store, but their innovative rescue of the establishment is threatened by the scheming of a bootlegger. Lots of fun here with Wheeler & Woolsey, with Dorothy Lee on hand to supply her usual pep, too. Recommended.
Relentless action as a train carrying troops and a prisoner to a frontier outpost reporting a cholera outbreak suffers a series of unusual and destructive occurrences, including disappearances and murder. Weakened a bit by MacLean's lack of familiarity with American railroad terminology, but that wasn't enough to get in the way of the compelling storytelling. Recommended.
When two little boys board a spaceship and end up on another planet, in the hands of the last survivors of the planet's populace, it's Gamera to the rescue. Silly fun: particularly good is Gamera's acrobatic moves in a battle with another giant monster. Recommended for what it is.
Looking forward to more bookish funnies. Happy Friday!
I've a friend who loves the Gamera movies, for what they are: fun.
Hollywood private eye Rick Holman investigates the disappearance of a man's fiancée and encounters one of a pair of twins, a maker of smut movies, an independent film distributor whose business gets continuing calls for old indie movies, and more. A fairly effective twist but a resolution to the mystery that's a bit of a downer; not recommended.
The first of two movies in which Robert Woods plays Pecos Martinez is an entertaining revenge tale that avoids descending into the unrelieved grimness of some such westerns. The protagonist is clever and effective. Recommended.
1929's Bulldog Drummond is a fine thriller film buoyed by Ronald Colman's insouciant title character, who comes to realize the stakes are high but who rises to the occasion; Claud Allister's amusingly dim-witted Algy; and Montagu Love and Lilyan Tashman's resourceful criminal couple. Joan Bennett's over-emoting as Phyllis, especially in her early scenes, is a bit of a drag, but bearable. Recommended.
An evil mastermind with a penchant for music plans to blow up the UN, and an inept secret agent tries to thwart him. This flat and only fitfully amusing spy spoof apparently was still successful enough to warrant a sequel, which I'll get around to watching at some point, I expect. Mildly recommended at best, and only for completist fans of the genre.
In the second of two movies featuring the character, Pecos Martinez (Robert Woods) befriends a trio of musicians who have gained possession of a map to Aztec treasure and then works with them against the self-styled El Supremo, a vicious bandit who dreams of ruling Mexico but whose henchmen have other priorities. Recommended.
>108 harrygbutler: I enjoy Ronald Coleman in almost all of his roles and this one is a lot of fun. Great poster, too!
I agree with you: Colman consistently delivers the goods.
I'm trying to pick out the best of the posters or lobby cards I can find for each movie, but some really have limited choices.
An inexplicable series of tiger attacks is disrupting work on the rubber plantations in Malaya in the early days of World War 2, and Frank "Bring 'Em Back Alive" Buck is sent out to investigate. His expertise proves crucial to determining what is really going on in this adventure that makes up in part for its low budget with some interesting plot elements — death by stampeding elephants, for example. Mildly recommended.
A Taoist teacher with mystical powers is executed by the local general, but his spirit sticks around to enact his revenge. Weird is a good word for this one, with the capricious antics of the spirit juxtaposed with some brutal fighting. Mildly recommended.
When a series of vampire-like killings plague a town, the villagers turn to kindly Prof. Paul Kristan (Ralph Morgan) for help — but can he put an end to this menace? Well-done little horror movie, with a sympathetic monster. Recommended.
King Arthur is often a fairly inert figure in the romances of the Arthurian cycle, but he takes center stage in the fourteenth-century Le chevalier du papegau, venturing out himself in response to a maiden's plea that he help her lady, and encountering an assortment of other adventures along the way. A readable translation, originally published by now-defunct academic publisher Garland Publishing back in the 1980s but now issued directly by the translator; recommended.
This discussion of what hope is, and of the way(s) in which it can or cannot be fulfilled within or beyond history, falls a little short, I think, perhaps owing to the original delivery as lectures, but is worth a look nonetheless. I shall look for a more comprehensive investigation in his On Hope, as collected (I believe) in Faith, Hope, Love. Mildly recommended.
Turner Classic Movies is bringing the big ape to the big screen in the U.S. for one day only next month, and I expect that I'll be there: I've already determined there are a couple nearby movie theaters that will have it.
More information here: https://www.fathomevents.com/events/tcm2020-king-kong-1933
When a series of holdups points to a gentlemanly bandit who broke parole, but some differences in behavior (such as committing murder) make it uncertain whether he is indeed the culprit, the Range Busters agree to investigate. They find a town in which two elements, those who want to build a church and those who want an expanded saloon and gambling house, are in contention, with a man battling a fondness for strong drink in the middle. Story elements on temptation and reformation help this B western out; recommended.
Master crook Kriminal (Glenn Saxson) escapes his execution with the assistance of a Scotland Yard official who hopes to trail him to the loot from his last robbery and then recapture him. Kriminal ends up involved with people scheming to steal diamonds and swindle the insurance company as well. Multiple betrayals and plenty of killing in this one, and a protagonist who is interesting to watch but not really sympathetic. A pleasing twist at the end was unexpected. Recommended.
The music is probably the biggest attraction in this movie, the final screen role for former adventure film actor Jon Hall, who also directed. In this blend of monster movie and domestic drama, a creature apparently is targeting kids hanging out at the beach; among the kids is the son of a scientist who is consulted during the investigation into the first killing. Overall, a dud; not recommended.
When a tyrannical woman is poisoned, suspicion soon falls on her half-brother, an ex-gigolo forced to live in the family home after an injury, though others may have had a motive as well. Fortunately for the young man, the uncle of the woman he loves takes an interest in the case and for her sake brings in detective Hermann Glide to get to the bottom of things. The resolution of the mystery wasn't particularly surprising, and overall I found this entry in the series a little undistinguished; I may take a break before reading another by Dalton. Mildly recommended.
The final starring movie for English singer and dancer Jessie Matthews is this old dark house thriller, complete with scheming relatives and sinister servants, as well as an (ex-police) turf commissioner who takes an interest in the heiress. Fairly standard stuff, competently but not compellingly done. Mildly recommended.
A mystery man agrees to help rebels attempt the rescue of a prince held prisoner by a faction allying with Mongol invaders. There is some action-packed fight choreography, though I thought the "named" antagonists (Gold Man, Water Man, Mole Man, Tree Man, Fire Man) were mostly less impressive than they should have been. Recommended.
Sabotage leads to deaths at a secret base working to develop a manned space station, and officials and investigators race to identify and thwart the culprit(s). This is a well-paced movie, with the severity of the attacks intensifying and suspicion increasing, as it is unclear who can be trusted and who will be the next victim. Recommended.
The final Renfrew movie finds the sergeant (James Newill) and Constable Kelly (Dave O'Brien) once again combating gold thieves. This time around, the crooks are using a ray to fuse magnetos to cause planes to crash. The by-play between the two Mounties remains amusing, but the more explicit comic relief character is a dud. There seems to be less romantic rivalry than usual, but Renfrew does get a good song. Recommended.
In the first of an 11-book series, ex-mercenary Jack Sullivan agrees to assassinate a ruthless former dictator on behalf of one of his victims. Unfortunately, the target has taken refuge in a fortified chateau in France. There follows a lengthy buildup to a final confrontation, as Sullivan whittles down the enemy forces but his counterpart, another former mercenary who had in fact trained Sullivan in the past but who has given himself over to despair, scores some success as well. The climactic battle delivers the action. I agree with the reviewer at Paperback Warrior that the book would have benefited from cutting, as it all goes on rather too long, but I'd be willing to try others in the series if I come across them.
The Beach Girls and the Monster is on Amazon Prime as well, but I still wouldn't recommend spending time with it. :-)
I've been watching quite a few movies via Amazon Prime in the last several months, prioritizing those I want to try because they don't stay available forever and I haven't been able to find a way to see quickly just which movies will be leaving Prime soon.
There are some familiar faces (Karin Dor, Vivi Bach) in this Eurospy entry, in which master of disguise Upperseven works with a CIA counterpart to thwart a villainous plot involving diamonds and counterfeit money. Some location filming and a secret underground lair that includes uniformed flunkies and complex defenses help add interest, but the protagonist lacks charisma. Mildly recommended.
Mild humor characterizes these light-hearted stories of ad man and part-time occult detective Max Kearny, first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction during the 1960s and collected in this volume as half of an Ace double in 1971. Probably better enjoyed if they are spread out a bit, but entertaining nonetheless. Recommended.
I think there are likely to be more of the Max Kearny stories out there. Goulart wrote an introduction to this collection, and I got the impression that they weren't all gathered there, and that the series might not be over, too.
This tale of revenge that blends action and fantasy (watch for the incredible chair fighting) in the end comes up short; the explanation behind the plot proved a little too much of a disappointment and also insufficient to account for much of what happened. Unlikeable characters weaken the film even more. Not recommended.
A costumed crime fighter aims to prevent the theft of a relic of the Egyptian pharaoh on display in a French museum. The secret identity of the masked hero is pretty obvious, in part because the identities of too many plotters are revealed rather too soon, and the twists and betrayals would fit better with a heist movie focused on the crooks. Mildly recommended at best.
A slow start hampers this story of a blackmailer who gets his comeuppance, and the mystery is a weak one, too, as an obvious killer is too long dismissed from consideration. I appreciated some of the ruminations on self-interest versus other motives, and I didn't foresee the full explanation of the characters' behaviors, in part because I missed the age of one. Mildly recommended.
Jungle hijinks with Bud and Lou, as the boys join an expedition (together with Clyde Beatty) ostensibly in pursuit of a giant ape but in fact after a much smaller prize. Frank Buck is out on an expedition as well, and real-life brothers Max and Buddy Baer get some amusing scenes, too. Watch for Lou encountering big cats and a friendly ape. Recommended.
Modern skepticism clashes with venerable superstition, as an investigator (Melvyn Douglas) tries to find the person or thing responsible for multiple vampire-style killings. An efficient little thriller from Majestic; recommended.
The action is relentless in the second Matt Helm thriller, with the operative sent to Sweden to find and eliminate the killer Caselius. Helm is saddled with a cover and then rules of engagement that hobble his ability to act, while he is forced to work with people who may be double agents. The coldness of the character is central to the outcomes. Some of it is a bit far-fetched, but it is entertaining nonetheless, albeit probably not as good as the first in the series. Recommended for fans, but don't start here.
>146 harrygbutler: I will have to see if I can find a copy of that one. Thanks for the recommendation, Harry!
>157 harrygbutler: That is a fun one!
I don't know whether the Goulart book has been republished outside the Ace double, but good luck in your search.
I've seen Africa Screams at least a few times, and I'm sure I'll revisit it again in the future.
>161 alcottacre: do you have any MacLean on your shelves? If not, let us know what you can find through ILL or your local library and we can do a shared read.
Yes, Stasia, if you'd like to join in a shared MacLean read, that would be great.
Blackie helps put on a show for prisoners on Christmas Eve, and one inmate with a grudge against those who betrayed him uses the circumstances to escape. Blackie scrambles to stop the young man, but a murderer strikes nonetheless. The resolution seemed a bit rushed, but the character byplay was, as usual, enjoyable. Recommended.
>166 harrygbutler: Whatever's going on is giving that woman a blinding headache.
Crooked "Judge" Curry and his associates are tricking settlers into buying land, promising ample water when none is available. Local rancher Brill Austin (George O'Brien) tolerates the nesters and allows access to his waterhole, but when blatant rustling takes place, he calls on the local sheriff to investigate. Murder, a crooked election, family strife, and more violence follow, with an honest lawyer among the settlers joining with Brill to confront the wrongdoers. Recommended.
The detective (Basil Rathbone) tangles with the nefarious Professor Moriarty (Lionel Atwill), who is targeting a newly invented bombsight that is being offered for British use but which is, of course, desired by the Germans. Holmes goes in disguise more than once as this one zips along. Recommended.
A writer is recruited by the CIA to impersonate a member of a drug-smuggling ring. The movie proves a downbeat confusing muddle, as it is often unclear which of the two characters we are watching in action. It is implausible that the writer is able to simply stroll through the mechanics of the deal, while protected by an assassin who doesn't realize the substitution (or does he?). Istanbul street scenes add some interest, but not enough to make the mess worth watching. Not recommended.
An elderly ranch owner battles crooks and pushes for statehood for Wyoming, so the villains bring in a hired gun, the Cheyenne Kid, to destroy her. Much screen time is given over to this outlaw, played by Al (soon to be "Lash") LaRue, complete with bullwhip, in a movie that plays out to some extent like a TV episode trying out a character for a possible spinoff. Star Eddie Dean gets some good songs, though. Recommended.
I'm no fan of Virgil Partch's cartoons; I find them downright ugly. But the volume included the work of others I like much better, such as Charles Addams.
The first in Sonny Chiba's run of "Street Fighter" movies is a violent affair, with plenty of blood and over-the-top imagery, as the title character — who is no hero — wades through a series of opponents to a rather disappointing ending. I doubt I'll watch the others in the series, though I do plan to take a look sometime at one of the "Sister Street Fighter" movies at some point. Not recommended.
I have others, too:
One of a long line of Byzantine saints who practiced their asceticism by exposing themselves to the elements on the tops of pillars, symbolically reducing their ties to earthly affairs and bringing them closer to Heaven, Lazaros in the eleventh-century spent more than 40 years living in this way and drew to himself both the curious and the devout. His life, by a monk at one of the monasteries that grew up around his three pillars on the rough mountainside of Mount Galesion (aka Galesios), is filled with interesting material. Unfortunately, however, poor decisions by the translator — most notably using angle brackets "to indicate where words or phrases have been supplied in order to improve the flow or sense of the English," which in effect means nearly every sentence has multiple instances of this distracting punctuation, rendered even more distracting because often the additions add nothing save verbosity — render the life a dull read. Sadly, not recommended.
Bellboy Stanley (Jerry Lewis) precipitates or participates in a variety of mishaps and amusing vignettes at a Miami Beach hotel. The episodic movie has no real plot but repeatedly pays tribute to silent comedy. Fluff, but enjoyable fluff; recommended.
The heir to a large but bankrupt estate attempts to make a go of it by bringing in paying guests, but he must contend with scheming and eccentric relatives as he tries. Plenty of humor here, with Martita Hunt an utter delight as dotty Aunt Anna Rose, a kind soul who loves to "travel" by taking trips via a sedan chair permanently parked in the parlor. Recommended.