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Dick Tracy (1937, Ray Taylor and Alan James), Chapter 4: Death Rides the Sky

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jul 16, 2018

Death Rides the Sky does not follow the concerning pattern of the previous two chapters where information falls into Ralph Byrd’s lap and he ignores it only to discover it’s of vital importance. In Rides, he knows the information of vital importance right off. Cuts down on later confusion. The chap read more

Vanilla Sex (1992, Cheryl Dunye)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jul 15, 2018

Vanilla Sex is the combination of a short anecdote from director Dunye, which she recounts to someone else, set (mostly) to a series of photographs scrolling up the screen. Occasionally, the footage changes to what seems to be home movie of Dunye and some other people playing around, nude (until Du read more

Dick Tracy (1937, Ray Taylor and Alan James), Chapter 3: The Fur Pirates

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jul 14, 2018

With The Fur Pirates, Dick Tracy starts to show some problems; outside the obvious acting ones considering the supporting cast. There’s another fast cliffhanger resolve, with the disaster not being anywhere near as dangerous as originally suggested. After that resolution, there’s some decent specia read more

Petticoat Fever (1936, George Fitzmaurice)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jul 13, 2018

For most of its eighty minute runtime, Petticoat Fever operates entirely on charm and technical competence. The charm of its cast, not the charm of Harold Goodman’s screenplay (from Mark Reed’s play). Robert Montgomery is the sole operator of a wireless station in arctic Canada (save Otto Yamaoka read more

Dick Tracy (1937, Ray Taylor and Alan James), Chapter 2: The Bridge of Terror

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jul 12, 2018

The Bridge of Terror gets off to a somewhat rocky start. The special effects on the cliffhanger resolution are outstanding. The actual resolution itself? Pretty lazy stuff. It immediately goes into Ralph Byrd (as Dick Tracy) getting in a police plane to track the giant villain aircraft, just called read more

The Potluck and the Passion (1993, Cheryl Dunye)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jul 11, 2018

The first sequence of The Potluck and the Passion, with director Dunye (also acting) sitting down and talking with girlfriend Gail Lloyd about the dinner party they’re about to throw. They go over the guest list as the opening titles run, who’s invited, why they’re invited, why Dunye and Lloyd read more

Dick Tracy (1937, Ray Taylor and Alan James), Chapter 1: The Spider Strikes

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jul 10, 2018

The Spider Strikes opens the Dick Tracy serial with an awesome sequence–a group of crime bosses meeting up on a train to meet with the big boss (The Spider). One of them tries to stand up to the unseen Spider, only to have his plans foiled… supernaturally it seems. The Spider then hunts the man read more

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966, Sergio Leone)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jul 9, 2018

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly ends up being about three criminals–of varying type–hunting down some stolen Confederate gold. But that Confederate gold story line takes a break after getting setup in the first ten minutes–for almost an hour of the two and a half hour plus film–so Good, the Bad read more

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018, Peyton Reed)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jul 8, 2018

Despite being in the first scene in the movie and sharing most of Paul Rudd’s scenes with him, Evangeline Lilly is definitely second in Ant-Man and the Wasp. The film gives her her own action scenes–some truly phenomenal ones–but very little agency. She’s entirely in support of dad Michael Douglas; read more

The Cocoanuts (1929, Robert Florey and Joseph Santley)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jul 7, 2018

The only stand-out sequence in The Cocoanuts comes at the end, when Chico is playing the piano. One of the directors–or both of them–finally had a good instinct and cut to a close-up of Chico’s hands playing. It overrides the first shot of the piano playing, which doesn’t show Chico’s hands read more

Young and Innocent (1937, Alfred Hitchcock)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jul 6, 2018

Young and Innocent is about Nova Pilbeam (Young) and Derrick De Marney (Innocent). She’s a county police constable’s daughter, he’s an escaped murder suspect. They first meet during his interrogation, when he faints at discovering he’s not just accused of murdering a woman, read more

Atom Man vs. Superman (1950, Spencer Gordon Bennet)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jul 5, 2018

Lyle Talbot is the best thing about Atom Man vs. Superman. Overall, he might even give the best performance–he flubs some material, but it’s better material than his only serious competitor, Noel Neill, ever gets. There aren’t great performances in Atom Man vs. Superman. The serial wouldn’t read more

Atom Man vs. Superman (1950, Spencer Gordon Bennet), Chapter 15: Superman Saves the Universe

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jul 4, 2018

There’s more Lyle Talbot dealing with bad employees than anything approaching universe-saving in Superman Saves the Universe. There’s another earthquake sequence, with Kirk Alyn actually on a disaster set saving people, but it’s midway through the chapter and the finale doesn’t top that sequence. read more

She Don’t Fade (1991, Cheryl Dunye)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jul 3, 2018

She Don’t Fade opens with Zoie Strauss sitting down in front of the camera and directly addresses the viewer. She talks about how we’re going to see a video from the director, Dunye, and then Fade cuts to a shot of Dunye cleaning up a sidewalk vending table. The title card gradually comes up. Then read more

Atom Man vs. Superman (1950, Spencer Gordon Bennet), Chapter 14: Rocket of Vengeance

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jul 2, 2018

Rocket of Vengeance is all filler. It opens with Kirk Alyn and Noel Neill trying to find Lyle Talbot’s base. Talbot’s trying to stop the intruding cops and reporters–though he never attacks the (off-screen) coppers–with his various bits of technological terror. One such terror hits Alyn and read more

My Cousin Rachel (1952, Henry Koster)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jul 1, 2018

Olivia de Havilland is top-billed on My Cousin Rachel, but Richard Burton’s the star. For better or worse. Burton’s a young English gentleman, de Havilland is his cousin. And his cousin–and guardian’s–widow. She doesn’t appear for the first twenty-five minutes of the film, which instead read more

Parabola (1937, Mary Ellen Bute and Ted Nemeth)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jun 30, 2018

Parábola is a series of objects, usually with parabola shapes (a U), shot at different angles, made with different materials, moving and interacting, with lighting and editing making the objects move or interact in one way or another. The objects are sculptures by Rutherford Boyd; they’re sometimes read more

Atom Man vs. Superman (1950, Spencer Gordon Bennet), Chapter 13: Atom Man’s Flying Saucers

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jun 29, 2018

All throughout Atom Man’s Flying Saucers, I was waiting for the flying saucers. Why would Atom Man–Lex Luthor (Lyle Talbot)–have flying saucers? Because, as Talbot explains at one point, the final phase of his plan is to go up in his spaceship and attack Earth. He’ll be taking some of his goons read more

Janine (1990, Cheryl Dunye)

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jun 28, 2018

Janine is shot–and edited–on video. So when Dunye cuts to an insert shot for mood, there’s a jerky quality. She does a lot of freeze frames and the format just means it can’t gracefully return to motion. Seeing the cuts as Dunye relates the story–of Janine–causes attention to refocus. If read more

Atom Man vs. Superman (1950, Spencer Gordon Bennet), Chapter 12: Atom Man Strikes!

The Stop Button Posted by Andrew Wickliffe on Jun 27, 2018

Most of Atom Man Strikes! is Noel Neill’s. After an awesome cliffhanger resolution–awesome in terms of the Superman special effects (easily the best in the serial thus far)–Neill starts secretly investigating her coworkers. Kirk Alyn finds the secret compartment in the TV van, where the bad guys read more
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