The Green Archer (1940)

THE GREEN ARCHER (1940)
Serial
Article 2520 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-27-2008
Posting Date: 7-6-2008
Directed by James W. Horne
Featuring Victor Jory, Iris Meredith, James Craven
Country: USA

Evil Abel Bellamy has framed and murdered his brother in order to get possession of a castle. He then uses the castle as a secret hideout to perform his criminal activities. However, insurance investigator Spike Holland is on hand to try to catch him. Abel Bellamy has one of his henchman disguise himself as the legendary Green Archer to help him with his plans. However, the real Green Archer shows up, and begins helping Spike Holland to catch the criminals.

For my money, this is one of the most enjoyable serials I’ve ever seen. The story is based on an Edgar Wallace novel, both the hero and villain are fun, it keeps the bail-out cliffhangers to a minimum (though it does have its own default cliffhanger resolution that you can set your clock by), and the secondary characters are well-defined. It also has a good sense of humor, and has one running gag in which one of the henchmen keeps getting confused between the real Green Archer and the bogus Green Archer, and keeps pummeling one of his own men. The mystery of the identity of the Green Archer is a no-brainer; despite the serial’s constant attempts to throw suspicion on a side character, I knew who he was by the end of episode one, and I saw nothing to contradict it; however, given that the Green Archer is exactly who he should be dramatically, this is no problem with me. Throw in some dumb cops, and plot elements that involve fountain pens and tiddlywinks, and you have one of the best of the genre. The Green Archer (who is supposed to be a ghost) adds some of the fantastic element, though there are some obligatory marginal science fiction elements as well.

 

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Games (1967)

GAMES (1967)
Article 2508 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-15-2008
Posting Date: 6-24-2008
Directed by Curtis Harrington
Featuring Simone Signoret, James Caan, Katharine Ross
Country: USA

A young couple given to games and practical jokes takes in an older ailing foreign woman who has been reduced to selling household goods from door to door. The older woman, who has a penchant for mysticism, encourages them to take part in more daring, dangerous games. One of these backfires when the husband accidentally kills a delivery boy with a gun he thought was loaded with blanks. The couple covers up the murder, but then the wife begins to see the ghost of the delivery boy.

Sometimes casting itself can give away quite a lot of a movie. Simone Signoret is a respected actress with a long career, but she is most famous for one very specific and very popular movie, and if that should occur to you while watching this one, you’ll be well prepared for the directions this one will go. Furthermore, the title itself should give you a clue that you shouldn’t take too much at face value here. These types of movies can be fun; it’s an enjoyable diversion trying to figure out who is in charge, who is being manipulated, and who thinks they are in on the game but turn out to be only pawns. This one is quite satisfying, but you won’t be the least bit surprised at who comes out on top at the end of the movie. This is probably Harrington’s best and most effective movie as a director.

 

The Great Rupert (1950)

THE GREAT RUPERT (1950)
Article 2377 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-28-2007
Posting Date: 2-14-2008
Directed by Irving Pichel
Featuring Jimmy Durante, Terry Moore, Tom Drake

A family of down-and-out vaudevillians move into an apartment, not knowing how they will pay the rent. Then, every Thursday, fifteen hundred dollars floats down to them out of heaven. They think it is a miracle; in truth, it is a squirrel cleaning money out of his sleeping place left there by a greedy landlord.

When I think of Irving Pichel and George Pal, I think of DESTINATION MOON . However, they worked together one other time, and that’s here, in this rather harmless piece of fluff in which a talented squirrel helps a family with their personal problems. The fantastic content consists of the bogus miracle and the super-talented squirrel; the latter is animated in much the same way as George Pal’s “Puppetoons” were. The movie is all right, I suppose, for those who like gentle, feel-good comedies, but, for my purposes, there’s not near enough of the stop-motion-animated puppet squirrel to make this one really fun; once the squirrel hides himself in the house, he does little more than throw one-hundred-dollar bills through a hole. Outside of the squirrel, the most interesting character is a combination bear-skin rug and radio. Oh, and Jimmy Durante isn’t bad either, but I don’t think anyone would like to claim they were upstaged by a squirrel and a rug.

 

Godzilla’s Revenge (1969)

GODZILLA’S REVENGE (1969)
aka Gojira-Minira-Gabara: Oru kaiju daishingeki
Article 2376 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-27-2007
Posting Date: 2-13-2008
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Featuring Tomonori Yazaki, Eisei Amamoto, Sachio Sakai

A young and lonely boy, beset by bullies and missing his parents who are too busy working to spend time with him, dreams of going to Monster Island to meet Godzilla. In his dreams, he meets and befriends Godzilla’s son, Minya, who has to contend with a bully himself – the monster Gabara.

The worst of the Godzilla movies? Well, it is important to give the movie some credit; it takes a totally different approach than any of the other Godzilla movies, and some of the scenes of the boy’s life in his neighborhood are fairly well done. The movie also begs to be judged on a different level, as it is obviously aimed at a younger audience that the other Godzilla movies, and the boy’s love of monsters certainly strikes a chord in many of us. Nevertheless, the movie is not very good overall, and it doesn’t look like it was made with much respect, especially in the dubbed American version. The opening theme is a little too jokey, most of the monster fight footage is lifted from GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER and SON OF GODZILLA, Minya is given a speaking voice that sounds like Mortimer Snerd, and one of his monster calls sounds like a braying donkey. The dubbing is atrocious at times, far worse than any of the other films in the series. Still, it is important to give credit where it is due; it can be taken more seriously than the Gamera films of the period. And I’m almost surprised there aren’t any overt ecological messages to be found; we see the children playing in the industrial section of town among smoke-belching factories, and, intentional or otherwise, the movie sends a definite message. My favorite moment: the boy is unexpectedly attacked by a strange plant creature on Monster Island.

 

Girl in His Pocket (1957)

GIRL IN HIS POCKET (1957)
aka Un amour de poche
Article 2361 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-12-2007
Posting Date: 1-29-2008
Directed by Pierre Kast
Featuring Jean Marais, Genevieve Page, Jean-Claude Brialy

A scientist creates a formula that can turn any animal into a miniature figurine, and then a solution that can return them to their original form. in the process, he falls in love with a beautiful lab assistant, much to the consternation of his jealous fiance. They use the formula to cover up their activities from the fiance, but complications arise…

I have to admit that I never know quite what I’m getting into when I watch a French movie, but this was fairly easy to figure out. It’s a straightforward comedy. The gimmick that drives it is fairly amusing, and in general I quite enjoyed it, though it does get a little too obvious on occasion. I also was quite surprised to find that I was happy it was dubbed; this isn’t because I prefer dubbing to subtitles (I don’t); it’s merely because I prefer being able to understand a movie rather than having to struggle through another undubbed, unsubtitled foreign movie, an experience I’ve had too much of lately. The performances seem quite good and fairly spirited at least insofar as I can tell through the dubbing. All in all, it’s fairly innocuous, but it does have its charms.

 

The Ghosts of Yotsuya (1959)

THE GHOSTS OF YOTSUYA (1959)
aka Tokaido Yotsuya kaidan
Article 2349 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-31-2007
Posting Date: 1-17-2008
Directed by Nobuo Nakagawa
Featuring Shigeru Amachi, Noriko Kitazawa, Shinjiro Asano

A married but poor samurai is tempted into leaving his current wife to marry the daughter of a rich lord. His greedy mother forces him into a plot to kill his wife. However, the dead wife has a desire for revenge…

This movie has a 7.6 rating on IMDB at the time of this writing, which indicates that this movie has a strong following. For me, the movie has one real problem; it’s a little too slow out of the gate, largely due to the fact that the backstory is a too elaborate and involved, and you’re a good ways into the movie before the plot to murder the wife is even thought up. It’s not that the backstory is bad; it’s actually interesting enough, and it plays a role in the thoroughness of the revenge to come; it’s just that there’s too much of it. However, once the murder goes into effect, the movie really shifts into high, and the scary visuals as well as the cleverness of the ghosts’ revenge (they are able to appear before their victims in place of the people they are actually talking to) really bring this to life. Director Nobuo Nakagawa has several ghost and horror stories to his credit, though this is the only one I’ve seen so far.

 

The Ghost Goes Wild (1947)

THE GHOST GOES WILD (1947)
Article 2340 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-22-2007
Posting Date: 1-8-2007
Directed by George Blair
Featuring James Ellison, Anne Gwynne, Edward Everett Horton

An artist, threatened by a lawsuit and a jealous husband, hides from the world. When the cabin where he was staying burns down with a thief inside, he is believed dead. When he returns to his home at a farm on Haunted Hill, everyone thinks he is a ghost. He decides to use his status to end the lawsuit and drive off the jealous husband,

Well, the ghost doesn’t go too wild here; this comedy is only mildly amusing, though Edward Everett Horton is fun as always as the artist’s butler. At least a real ghost shows up at a couple of points in the proceedings; the above plot description certainly makes it sound as if there is no real ghost here. Ruth Donnelly is quite fun as the dowager who sues over a caricature she sat for, and you’ll probably recognize Charles Halton as her attorney. I’ll also give it a few points for being one of the only movies I’ve seen that has a character named Murgatroyd.