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Film Review: HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940)

This fantastic comedy from 1940 is filled with brilliant, clever dialogue and outstanding performances. Based on the stage play The Front Page (written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur), His Girl Frida y was actually the second cinematic adaption of this story (the first being the 1931 film also titled The Front Page ). Director Howard Hawks made an excellent choice in changing the lead role of Hildy to a female character instead of male, as originally written. This decision not only allowed Rosalind Russell the opportunity to give a career-best performance, but set the foundation for this version to take a romantic turn by allowing our two leads (Russell and Cary Grant) to fall back in love (they were once married). It also gives us one of the earliest film depictions of a woman with a successful career. Russel's character is a force to be reckoned with, as she goes toe-to-toe with every male colleague in her no-holds-barred approach in a competitive newsroom. Filled with not-s
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Film Review: HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959)

This fun flick from 1959 feels like a thrill ride, navigating viewers through a haunted house seemingly filled with creepy ghosts and moments of sheer terror. The concept of this spooky tale is fairly simple: a wealthy man (played deliciously by Vincent Price who knows a thing or two about horror films) gathers a group of strangers together and challenges them to spend the night in his home, which is reportedly haunted. Whoever survives the night will walk away with cash. The night takes a turn when the guests are informed they're actually trapped inside the house. There's no way out until dawn. What follows is a string of carnival-like pranks and frights, all intended to scare the guests away. The action of the night is paralleled with a subplot focusing on the marital discord between Price's character and Carol Ohmart's character, his wife. Directed by master of schlock William Castle (who was legendary for turning B-movies into surprise cinematic hits), the film is a

Film Review: JULIE (1956)

Julie is an edge-of-your-seat suspense thriller featuring Doris Day in one of her few dramatic roles. Day plays the title character of Julie Benton, a woman who is trapped in a volatile marriage to a insanely jealous man, Lyle Benton (played by Louis Jourdan). The first half of the film is about Julie's harrowing escape from her husband. Having being threatened that she would be murdered if she ever tried to leave him, Julie risks her life to get away. The second half of the film sees Julie return to her former career as a flight attendant, only to find herself on a plane with her homicidal husband as a passenger. As he reaches his breaking point and shoots the flight crew, there's no one left to land the plane except for Julie. The climax of this strange but thrilling movie was a precursor to Karen Black's iconic performance in Airport 1975 (who also plays a flight attendant who has to land a plane in the middle of crisis). It's a shame that Day didn't make more d

Film Review: IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU (1954)

The always-charming Judy Holliday gives a brilliant performance in this romantic comedy from 1954. Produced four years after her career-making and Academy Award winning performance in Born Yesterday , Holliday proves (yet again) in It Should Happen to You that she was a force to be reckoned with. The fact that she's one of my favorite actors from classic films is no secret. As many have mentioned before, I will echo the sadness that her life ended way too soon (she died at the age of 43). It's a cinematic tragedy that she didn't make more movies. Here, Holliday plays fame-obsessed Gladys Glover, a down-on-her-luck woman who has recently been fired. To her luck (and his), Gladys meets a documentary filmmaker in Central Park named Pete Sheppard (played by Jack Lemmon in his first major screen performance). The plot focuses on Glady's climb to fame. Along the way, Gladys discovers that being famous is not as easy as it looks, experiencing many pitfalls in her humbling jou

Film Review: VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED (1960)

Movies don’t get much creepier than this fantastic classic from 1960. Director Wolf Rilla takes his time introducing us into the strange world of this sinister tale. In this case, we are in the British village of Midwich, where something strange has just happened: the residents of the village lose consciousness for four hours. When they awake, several women have been impregnated. Even more bizarre, all of the women give birth on the same day. The children themselves possess telepathy, all have a similar look (large eyes, blonde hair) and speak as of telling a cautionary tale. The children become the objects of fear and speculation by their fellow villagers. What follows is chilling to the point of terrifying. Peeling back the many layers (include the symbolic ones), Rilla masterfully creates beautiful suspense on the screen with help from cinematographer Geoffrey Faithfull, whose aesthetical choices are stunning. Visually this film has become iconic, known for its glowing eyes effect.

Film Review: THE SCREAMING SKULL (1958)

A lot can be said about The Screaming Skull . Is it over the top? Yes. Is it a great film? No, not really. Is it fun to watch? Definitely. The concept of the movie is fairly simple: a second wife is a victim of gaslighting by her new husband who is guilty of murdering his first wife, who haunts everyone she can. This low-budget gothic horror film from 1958 was directed by Alex Nicol, who up to this point in his career was known for his work as Broadway actor. Peggy Webber, the star of the film whose performance is nothing short of brilliant, loathed the movie stating it made it her want to throw up after viewing it (because of the quality, not because of any gore). Yet, Webber is a power house in her role. Her considerable acting skills are demonstrated in scene after scene as her character Jenni Whitlock is convinced by those around her (including by herself) that her sanity is slipping. Playing the scheming, homicidal husband, John Hudson gives an equally impressive performance. Adap

Film Review: I SAW WHAT YOU DID (1965)

I love most films William Castle directed in his nearly forty year film career. This cinematic gem from 1965 is no exception. This low-budget no frills thriller is centered around a clever concept: two young woman prank call strangers one night leading them into a web of danger when they accidentally cause a murderer to panic when they inform him “I saw what you did, and I know who you are.” Believing what they say to be true, killer Steve Marak (played by a menacing John Ireland) is intent on finding the young women (played by Sara Lane and Andi Garrett who are believable as na├»ve high school friends, unaware of the consequences of their actions) to silence them. Castle knows how to create suspense on the screen. Here he gets the most out of a single idea, filling each connected moment with subtle terror before bringing us to the edges of our seats with a nail-biting ending. The film features Joan Crawford in a supporting role. Castle’s only misstep here is not making her part larger.