Monday, 4 March 2013

MARCH 4, 2013

049 ONE FRIGHTENED NIGHT (1935) Directed by Christy Cabanne ***

Made in 1935 but looking for all the world like it was one of the plethora of Old Dark House films made five years earlier this is a surprisingly lively entry into this sub-genre. Stormy night, a will to be read, greedy relatives, a killer on the loose and unexpected guests - all very familiar ingredients but handled here with a light touch. Helped along by a sprightly performance by Charley Grapewin and the ever welcome Wally Ford doing his best Wally Ford impersonation. If, like me, you love old dark house movies this one is above average.

One Frightened Night

050 CONDEMNED TO LIVE (1935) Directed by Frank Strayer. **

A vampire is loose in a European village. Strayer's film is remarkably similar to his earlier THE VAMPIRE BAT but where BAT was fast paced and had a sense of humour CONDEMNED is static, humourless and beset by and over wordy script and dull performances by the leads - only Misch Auer making anything of this role as a loyal hunchback. A curiousity but a dull one.

Condemned to Live

 051 THE BLACK ANGEL (1946) Directed by Roy William Neill  ***

Neill, best remembered fot the Universal Sherlock Holmes series with Rathbone, here turns in a neat and atmospheric noir based on the novel by Cornell Woolrich. Good performances from the main players - Dan Duryea (who not only was the Woolrich actor par excellence by a friend of the writer), June Vincent, Peter Lorre and Broderick Crawford. The plot may seem a bit familiar (Woolrich's THE PHANTOM LADY springs to mind) but it has nice twist in the tail. Watch for the great camera move at the beginning - previously exploited by both King Vidor and Orson Welles and later by both Hitchcock and Chabrol, proving what goes around comes around although Neill executes it superbly.

Black Angel

All these films can be viewed in their entirety on You Tube.


Cerpts said...

I've never seen the latter two but ONE FRIGHTENED NIGHT has always been an old dark house movie I've quite enjoyed over the years. I agree that the pace is brisk and doesn't drag while the good-natured humour keeps things light. As for CONDEMNED TO WATCH . . . er I mean LIVE . . . I've seen quite a few Frank Strayer films (and like many of them) but this one for some reason has never inspired me to seek it out - probably for the very reasons you mention and that every account of the film seems to agree on and that is it's reported dullness. Thanks for "taking one for the team" and watching it for me!

James wellyousaythat said...

I will certainly check out The Black Angel as Phantom Lady is one of my all time favourite Noirs. How could one not love Ella Raines on a mission to the dark side?

Cerpts said...

PHANTOM LADY is in my top five of unavailable movies I desperately want on DVD.