Tintin et les oranges bleues (1964)

TINTIN ET LES ORANGES BLEUES (1964)
aka Tintin and the Blue Oranges
Article 2906 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-22-2009
Posting Date: 7-28-2009
Directed by Philippe Condroyer
Featuring Jean Bouise, Jean-Pierre Talbot, Felix Fernandez
Country: Spain / France

The mysterious appearance of blue oranges causes Tintin and the Captain to travel to Spain, where they must rescue a kidnapped professor.

Tintin is an incredibly popular comic book character in Europe whose popularity never crossed the ocean to the United States, though that may change if Spielberg manages to get a movie based on the character made. I know very little about the character, and though this movie probably helps by introducing some of the regular characters, it probably won’t serve as a effective introduction; not only does a 4.7 rating on IMDB suggest that the movie isn’t very good, but the fact that the only copy I could find was in unsubtitled French (and for the record, I’m not really surprised by this) means that I’m not going to get much from the movie anyway. It’s got some action and some comedy; the most amusing scene for me was a split screen moment in which two nearly identical men settle in to their respective rooms. Since two professors are kidnapped and appear to be working on some scientific research, I’m assuming that the movie has some science fiction touches surrounding the title fruits, but exactly what their significance is is lost to me. I do know that Tintin has a dog and strange hair, and the captain loves his liquor; the rest may have to wait until I can experience Tintin in a different context.

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Trilby (1915)

TRILBY (1915)
Article 2880 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-27-2009
Posting Date: 7-2-2009
Directed by Maurice Tourneur
Featuring Wilton Lackaye, Clara Kimball Young, Paul McAllister
Country: USA

A musician named Svengali decides to make his fortune by using his hypnotic powers to turn a Paris model into a singer.

IMDB lists eleven versions of the Du Maurier story, seven of which feature Trilby’s name in the title and five of which feature Svengali’s name in the title; the reason it adds up to twelve rather than eleven is that one version is called TRILBY AND SVENGALI. It’s not surprising that the use of Trilby’s name is more common, as that is the title of the original novel, but I’ve always felt Svengali was the more interesting character, and I’m not surprised that the most interesting movie version of the story is the one with the most striking performance of that character; namely, John Barrymore’s version from 1931. This version is quite good, but I don’t find Wilton Lackaye’s performance to be near as memorable as Barrymore’s, and I suspect that I’ll find this true about any of the other versions of the story I encounter. This marks either the third or fourth version of the story I’ve seen; it depends on whether you count ELLA LOLA A LA TRILBY, which, personally, I don’t.

The Tale of Osaka Castle (1961)

THE TALE OF OSAKA CASTLE (1961)
aka Daredevil in the Castle, Osaka jo monogatari
Article 2876 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-23-2009
Posting Date: 6-28-2009
Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki
Featuring Toshiro Mifune, Kyoko Kagawa, Yuriko Hoshi
Country: Japan

A mountain Samurai comes to Osaka to get a job at the castle, but becomes embroiled in a political struggle that is threatening to turn into a war.

The fantastic content is pretty light here; there’s a short sequence in a scary underground cave with bats and snakes, and I’m not familiar enough with Japanese history to know if this is based on a real historical event or if it’s a borderline fantasy. Like the other Toshiro Mifune movies I’ve seen that were not directed by Kurasawa, it’s not up to the level of the movies he acted in for that great director, but Mifune is still a charismatic and appealing actor. Here he’s a lot of fun as a brawling loose cannon who just wants to keep out of the war, but finds himself drawn into it when he falls in love with a woman at the castle. He uses humor and body language exquisitely, and he’s particularly good in the action sequences. The story gets a bit confusing at times, but the final battle sequence is quite exciting as Mifune must find a way to light a wagon full of gunpowder on a bridge as the enemy rapidly approaches. The cast also features Akikhiko Hirata and Takashi Shimura.

The Thirteenth Hour (1947)

THE THIRTEENTH HOUR (1947)
Article 2875 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-22-2009
Posting Date: 6-27-2009
Directed by William Clemens
Featuring Richard Dix, Karen Morley, John Kellogg
Country: USA

The boss of a small trucking firm ends up at odds with a police officer who is his rival for the affection of the woman who runs the local diner. The rivalry intensifies when the policeman tickets the trucker for drunk driving and causes him to lose his license. The trucker is then forced to take it on the lam when he is framed for the murder of the policeman.

Though it isn’t apparent from the title, this is another entry in “The Whistler” series of movies, and, like many of the others, the shadowy figure of the Whistler (who serves as our narrator) is the sole fantastic element in the movie. Still, this is one dandy little B movie, with Richard Dix capturing our sympathy as an everyman who gets caught up in a situation that is over his head, and which eventually leads to a diamond smuggling operation. The script is quite strong. I like that the characters here act with intelligence; when our hero is forced to write a note to his fiancee, he manages to find a way to clue her in to the true nature of his situation by writing a comment that seems quite innocent on the surface, for example. One really gets the sense of paranoia and oppression of being on the lam as well. “The Whistler” was one of the better B-Movie series out there, and this entry in the series is one of the reasons why.

Tarzan and the She-Devil (1953)

TARZAN AND THE SHE-DEVIL (1953)
Article 2874 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-21-2009
Posting Date: 6-26-2009
Directed by Kurt Neumann
Featuring Lex Barker, Joyce Mackenzie, Raymond Burr
Country: USA

Tarzan must match wits with Ivory hunters who kidnap members of a friendly native tribe and use them as slaves.

On IMDB, this movie has a 5.0 rating, and a quick check of all of the other titles I have watched for this series which begin with the word “Tarzan” reveals it’s tied for the lowest with two other movies, TARZAN’S REVENGE and TARZAN THE FEARLESS. However, neither of those two movies are part of the series that began with TARZAN THE APE MAN in 1932, and would eventually lead to this one. For the first half of the movie, I was wondering why the rating was so low; it seemed like a derivative but passable Tarzan movie up to that point. Unfortunately, the movie goes off track at the halfway point, when Tarzan’s tree-house is burned down and he believes Jane has died in the inferno. He then proceeds to spend almost the rest of the movie in a surly mope. Not only is this a downer of the worst variety, but it’s also counter to what I believe is an essential quality of Tarzan; he’s only a step away from a savage jungle animal, and I find it impossible to believe that he would choose depressed moping over enraged violence. Had the series fallen this far from the original conception of the character? At any rate, this would be Lex Barker’s last movie in the role; Gordon Scott would take over in the role after this one.

Tarzan and the Lost Safari (1957)

TARZAN AND THE LOST SAFARI (1957)
Article 2873 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-20-2009
Posting Date: 6-25-2009
Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone
Featuring Gordon Scott, Robert Beatty, Yolande Donlan
Country: UK

Tarzan rescues the passengers of a private plane that crashes in the jungle. They team up with an adventurer who agrees to lead them out of the jungle. However, the adventurer is in cahoots with a tribe of natives who wants to sacrifice the passengers to their god…

Gordon Scott is likable in the role, the color is nice, and there is lots of animal footage. Still, at heart, what we have here is a Double-Stuffed Safari-O with a third-rate plot whose predictability is incredibly apparent; there are no surprises and a lot of padding in this movie. Scott would appear six times as Tarzan before turning to sword and sandal movies. The fantastic content here is no more than the slight fantasy touches to any story about Tarzan.

Trilogy of Terror (1975)

TRILOGY OF TERROR (1975)
TV-Movie
Article 2809 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-15-2009
Posting Date: 4-22-2009
Directed by Dan Curtis
Featuring Karen Black, Robert Burton, John Karlen
Country: USA

Three tales of terror are presented. In the first, a student uses blackmail to seduce a teacher, but discovers a surprising fact. In the second, a prim woman seeks to murder her libertine sister. In the third, a Zuni fetish doll comes to life and terrorizes a woman.

If you’re a big Karen Black fan and also love TV-Movie horror anthologies, this is for you; she plays four different roles in three stories, and is pretty much the only significant acting presence in the movie. The movie seems to have a certain amount of popularity, given its 7.0 rating on IMDB. I’m afraid I’m less taken with it. I’m not a big Karen Black fan nor a TV-Movie fan, and as far as I’m concerned, only the third story works. The first one plays mostly like a soap opera, and though it does have an interesting twist, it’s quite dull. The second I found blatantly obvious; it’s one of those stories that probably works a lot better in print than brought to life on the TV tube. It almost seems as if only the third story is even trying to be scary, and despite the fact that it has its problems (the woman’s opening conversation with her mother goes on forever), it does get you on the edge of your seat. I suspect that this movie’s reputation lies with this segment; it looks like all the artwork I’ve seen for it prominently feature the doll. All three are based on Richard Matheson stories, but Matheson worked on the screenplay himself only on the third one. Incidentally, the French vampire film at the drive-in is actually THE NIGHT STALKER.