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Odd Man Out

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Odd Man Out [Blu-ray]

Tagline – An adventure in unbearable suspense !

Starring – James Mason (Johnny McQueen), Robert Newton (Lukey), Cyril Cusack (Pat), F. J. McCormick (Shell), Kathleen Ryan (Kathleen Sullivan), William Hartnell (Fencie), Fay Compton (Rosie).

Released – April, 1947

Directed By – Carol Reed

Produced By – Two Cities Films

Distributed By – Universal Pictures

Description – With political unrest as the background in Northern Ireland, Johnny McQueen is in hiding. Having escaped from prison six months ago he has taken refuge in the house of Kathleen Sullivan, who is in love with him, and her grandmother.

Johnny is one of the leaders of an underground Irish organization and he has been ordered to rob a mill to provide funds for the organization’s activities. However, while in prison, Johnny has softened his feelings toward violence as the only means to reach the organization’s goals. He now believes negotiations may be more effective and his new position is making his men uncomfortable. The robbery must be done.

What starts as a successful robbery soon goes sour. Johnny is forced to kill an armed cashier who shots him in the arm. The getaway car drives off, without Johnny fully inside the car, and he falls off. Now on the streets of the city, Johnny disappears into the back alleys.

Pat, Nolan, and Murphy escape in the car and stop off at Theresa O’Brien’s place. But, Murphy does not trust Theresa and leaves. His instincts prove fatally accurate to both Pat and Nolan when she betrays the pair to authorities. A gunfight ensues and both are killed.

While trying to make his way back to Kathleen’s house the wounded Johnny collapses in the street. Two passersby take him to their home, but upon realizing who he is ask him to leave. Johnny makes his way to a cab and when the driver realizes who he is he drops him off not wanting to get involved.

This is witnessed by Shell who tells a Catholic Priest about the nearly unconscious fugitive hoping for a reward. Kathleen has also arrived at the church seeking help to find Johnny. The priest asks Shell to get Johnny, but the fugitive has again stumbled away and into a bar.

The bar owner closes early and takes Johnny to a painters studio where a failed medical student tries to help Johnny with his wounds. Meanwhile, the police have arrived at the church where Kathleen still waits for Johnny. She manages to slip out and arrange for Johnny to board a ship out of the country.

Now, all she has to do is find him.

Shell runs into Kathleen and reunites her with Johnny, but the police are right on their tail. There doesn’t seem to be any way out of what will be a tragic end.

NOTABLE: Odd Man Out received an Oscar nomination for Best Film Editing.

This motion picture was the first film to win the BAFTA award for Best British Film.

James Mason has called this the best performance of his career.

Stewart Granger was originally offered the role of Johnny McQueen, but turned it down.


Sherlock Holmes and the House of Fear

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Sherlock Holmes – The House of Fear

Tagline – HORROR stalking its halls!

Starring – Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes), Nigel Bruce (Dr. John H. Watson), Aubrey Mather (Bruce Alastair), Dennis Hoey (Inspector Lestrade).

Released – March, 1945

Directed By – Roy William Neill

Produced By – Universal Pictures

Distributed By – Universal Pictures

Description – Mr. Chalmers, an insurance agent, visits Holmes with a very strange tale indeed. It seems that a group of seven elderly, single gentlemen, who call themselves “The Good Comrades,” have taken up residence in an old Scottish castle.

One of the gentlemen has recently had delivered to him an envelope containing only seven orange pips. Later that evening his body was found murdered and mutilated. A few days later another envelope was delivered to one of the men and this time contained only six orange pips. That second man has also mysteriously died, with his body found battered at the base of some cliffs.

Mr. Chalmers insurance company has policies on each of the gentlemen living in the castle and he believes that one of the men is responsible for the deaths of the others in order to collect on the insurance proceeds. Chalmers is hoping that Holmes will aid in the investigation.

Holmes is happy of oblige, as the case intrigues him, but when Holmes and Watson arrive at the castle they find another body waiting. Unable to put a stop to the continuing murders, three more are killed with the bodies of each virtually unrecognizable.

One remains, Mr. Bruce Alastair, and Inspector Lestrade is convinced that he is the killer. But, something just doesn’t add up for Holmes and he is not so sure of Alastair’s guilt.

NOTABLE: The House of Fear is the tenth film in the Sherlock Holmes series to star Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

Towards the end of the film, as Watson notices the tobacco urn is empty, the wolf’s head cane from The Wolf Man (1941) can be seen leaning against the back wall.

The Pearl of Death

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Sherlock Holmes in Pearl of Death

Tagline – The Secret Of The Gem Of Doom!

Starring – Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes), Nigel Bruce (Doctor Watson), Dennis Hoey (Inspector Lestrade), Evelyn Ankers (Naomi Drake), Miles Mander (Giles Conover).

Released – August, 1944

Directed By – Roy William Neill

Produced By – Universal Pictures

Distributed By – Universal Pictures

Description – Sherlock Holmes is embarrassed and on the spot. The famous “Borgia Pearl” has been stolen right under his nose from the Royal Regent Museum by master criminal Giles Conover.

Conover is captured, but does not have the pearl resulting in his release. Shortly thereafter, an elderly Colonel is brutally murdered, with his body found in a pile of smashed china, and there appears to be no motive.

The nature of the crime arouses Holmes’ suspicion that the murder may be the work of “The Hoxton Creeper” known to be the right-hand man of Giles Conover. Another murder takes place as the body of an elderly woman is found… also surrounded by a pile of smashed china.

Now, Holmes himself becomes the target as two attempts are made on his life. It is now his belief that Conover is trying to again find the valuable pearl. A third killing takes place and a link to the murders is now realized. It is a bust of Napoleon.

After stealing the pearl, and trying to elude the police, Conover fled through a workshop and hid the pearl inside the china bust of Napoleon. There were six in the workshop at the time and Conover is trying to find the right one and will kill anyone in his way.

The Scarlet Claw

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Sherlock Holmes – The Scarlet Claw

Tagline – There’s Blood On The Moon Tonight!

Starring – Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes), Nigel Bruce (Doctor Watson), Gerald Hamer (Alistair Ramson), Paul Cavanagh (Lord Penrose).

Released – May, 1944

Directed By – Roy William Neill

Produced By – Universal Pictures

Distributed By – Universal Pictures

Description – Sherlock Holmes and friend Doctor Watson are attending a conference in Quebec City. While there, Holmes is given a note from Lady Penrose who resides in the nearby village of La Mort Rouge.

The note reveals Lady Penrose to be in fear for her life and she asks for Holmes help. Unknown to the great detective is the fact that it is already too late. Lady Penrose has had her throat torn out.

The nature of the murder has the villagers spreading rumors about a monster being responsible for the vicious killing. The village has a history of believing in a legendary monster that roams the surrounding marshes.

These belief’s are preposterous to Holmes and he sets out to find a human killer. The investigation leads Holmes to believe that the killing may not have been a random one. It appears as though there will be a systematic string of murders.

Holmes begins to believe that the killer walks among the villagers pretending to innocently be one of them. He has a suspect in mind, someone who it was believed was killed during a prison break, and happens to be a master of disguise.

NOTABLE: Universal Studio’s produced twelve films in its Sherlock Holmes series, and it is now generally considered that The Scarlet Claw is the best of the bunch.

Basil Rathbone’s last words, drowned out by the films music, appear to be “God bless him” (a reference to Winston Churchill).


The Lodger

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Fox Horror Classics Collection (The Lodger / Hangover Square / The Undying Monster)

Tagline – Probing Eyes that marked the woman he loved for death!

Starring – Merle Oberon (Kitty Langley), George Sanders (Inspector John Warwick), Laird Cregar (Mr. Slade), Cedric Hardwicke (Robert Bonting).

Released – January, 1944

Directed By – John Brahm

Produced By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Distributed By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Description – It’s 1889 London, and financial difficulties have caused Robert and Ellen Bonting to consider taking in a lodger. They are to be cautious as London is being terrorized by a murderer known as Jack the Ripper who has already killed four women in their area.

A gentleman known as Mr. Slade answers the ad for a lodger, and although Ellen feels that he acts a little strange agrees to rent to him partly because he not only wants to rent the spare room, but also rents the attic space.

Mr. Slade has claimed to be a pathologist and will use the attic space for his experiments. He also tells Ellen that he is a very private man who keeps irregular hours.

Also living with the Bonting family is Kitty Langley, their niece, who is an actress. Kitty will be starring in a show at the local theatre and on opening night is visited before the show by former actress Annie Rowley who wishes her luck.

The show is a success, but after its conclusion Scotland Yard Inspector John Warwick questions Kitty about her conversation with Annie and informs Kitty that Annie has just been murdered. The details of the killing cause the theater’s doctor to suggest that the murderer must be a medical man.

The newspaper story of the killing states that a witness claims the killer was carrying a small black bag. A bag similar to the one lodger Mr. Slade was seen burning shortly after the murder. This is not the only coincidence as Slade was also seen destroying his blood-stained overcoat. Slade explains this by claiming the coat was contaminated during a pathology experiment.

Kitty refuses to believe that her Aunt’s bible-reading, sincere lodger, admittedly with an aversion to actresses, could possibly be the killer. She decides to invite Mr. Slade to come and see her show.

NOTABLE: During the making of The Lodger, actress Merle Oberon fell in love with Lucien Ballard the film’s cinematographer. The couple were married the next year.

Actor Laird Cregar had built a solid reputation as a character actor over the years, but his screen presence and performance in this motion picture caused Twentieth Century Fox to offer him numerous roles in other productions. Sadly, these plans were cut short when Cregar suffered a fatal heart attack at the end of the year.