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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Film Log: October/Now I have a DVR Edition, Part 1

They Died With Their Boots On (d. Raoul Walsh, 1941) - An Errol Flynn/Olivia DeHavilland swashbuckler, except this one is about William Armstrong Custer. Some of the charm wears off the duo when they're serving a bipolar piece of historical whitewash that simultaneously glorifies the military while trying to be anti-imperialist and anti-big business. This must be the only Civil War film that has ever tried to turn Winfield Scott (played by Sydney Greenstreet) into a hero! The Little Big Horn sequence is well-paced and well-shot, making me wish for a Little Big Horn movie that embraced it as a horror film without dehumanizing the Native Americans. B-

The Prowler (d. Joseph Zito, 1981) - Not to be confused with the Joseph Losey film of the same name starring Van Heflin,  this early 80's slasher film has only two things this film in its favor: Tom Savini effects and a striking costume for the killer. Neither of these are enough to make it worth the 90 minutes you'd spend watching it. And despite the way Farley Granger and Lawrence Tierney are billed, they're barely in it for 5 minutes. Steer clear. D

The Leopard Man (d. Jacques Tourneur, 1943) When a leopard gets loose in the wilderness around a New Mexican resort town, people blame it for a series of shocking murders that strike the town. A couple of wonderfully atmospheric scenes make good use of sound design and expressionist lighting. It really doesn't hold the imagination the way that I Walked With a Zombie does, and the serial killer plot is more notable as a footnote in the history of Hollywood's handling of the subject. Still, enjoyable and only about 75 minutes long. C+

Executive Suite (d. Robert Wise, 1954) - I have no idea how this film is virtually unknown. Fans of Mad Men would love this movie, which examines the power struggles of various executives after the main boss dies, while depicting the executive Man in the Gray Flannel Suit lifestyle in detail. Robert Wise is at his best, opening with a breathtaking long-take from a character's POV. On top of that, there are amazing performances by Walter Pidgeon, Frederic March, William Holden, Barbara Stanwyck, Shelley Winters and Louis Calhern. On top of that, it's got a smart script that's pro-capitalism but smart enough to recognize the problems in it. A film that deals with issues still relevant today but without ever preaching, and, on top of that, well put-together. A-