Diamond Trail

This is a 1933 pre-code film about the daring adventures of newspaper reporter “Speed” Morgan and his run-in with gangster boss “Flash” Barrett.

Here is the full synopsis from IMDB: Reporter “Speed’ Morgan helps gangster “Flash” Barrett escape an ambush by rival gangster Mullin’s henchmen, and then escape the pursuing police. Posing as a wanted gangster named “Frisco” Eddie, Morgan is made a member of the gang and goes West with them as Barrett is looking for rancher Bill Miller, who was his in-between man on stolen diamonds until Miller dropped a package, found out it contained diamonds and hid and kept them. Miller’s sister, Lois, is unaware of her brother’s connection to the eastern gangsters.

“Hiya Doll!”

This is very simple story telling, and also made very simply. It is all-round simple.

It is also quite genre bending. The film starts off as a 1933 modern day style film, with the moider of a rival gang member by “Flash” barret, which “Speed” Morgan witnesses. Sensing a scoop he helps “Flash” flee the scene of the crime in the hope that he can infiltrate the gang, which he does. We are then introduced to the main plot of the story which takes place in the Wild and Woolly West. The gang members actually drive into a Western town like the one in Gunsmoke or Rawhide in a gangster-style convertible jalopy. The town’s folk are all dressed in cowboy garb of course, and all ride horses instead of driving cars, although there is a car in the town that they can rent if they need it.

“Tell me where da ice is at, or I’ll plug ya. See?”

It is as though the film producers thought it would be a great idea to mix a gangster land story with a western. Perhaps 1930’s America was actually like that…no idea.

Something I really liked is that everyone was wearing a hat of some sorts… those were the days!

Kirk Douglas was 17 years old when this film was made.

Silly entertainment, but entertaining it was, and thought-provoking on many existential levels.

Date watched: February 24th
Score: 6/10
Film count 2019: 4

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

I last watched this back in 2015, and even though this is by far the worst of the Star Wars films I decided to watch it again because I want to watch episodes 2 and 3 again too.

My two previous reviews for this film gave it 7.5 (2008) and 4 (2015) respectively. This time around I am somewhere in the middle. It is still the worst of the Star Wars films, but it does have it’s moments, usually when no one is talking.

If Jar-Jar was either toned down, or completely removed, and the silly Trade Federation politics parts of the story were replaced with a plot about blowing things up, it could have been a whole lot better. Darth Maul needed to be in it more. Anakin said “Yippee!” too many times.

Yoda didn’t look as good as he did in episodes 5 and 6. Here is the original Yoda in Phantom Menace compared to the CGI version put in for the Blu-ray release…much better.

Here is a video taken back in the day, interviewing people before and after they saw the film, with only the guy at the end hating it.

Date watched: January 13th
Score: 6/10
Film count 2019: 2

Me, Myself, and Irene

Straight after watching Monty Python I decided to watch this, another film I saw many years ago.

I remember not liking this all that much, but because it is Jim Carrey I had to watch it again to see if I would like it more this time around. And, I guess I did, for the most part. Jim Carrey stole the show of course, he was extremely funny in some scenes. Renée Zellweger held her own against Jim, and the actors who played Jim’s character’s sons were funny too.

Being a Farrelly Brothers film it was a bit crude and silly at times, and this is one of those comedies where they mix in serious crime to the story, which I generally don’t like…comedy and serious bits just don’t mix in my book.

It is worth watching for Jim alone, he was quite nutty at times, but the rest of it is forgettable.

Date watched: December 30th
Score: 6/10
Film count 2018: 89

Three Steps to the Gallows

I was able to fit in one more film yesterday, making it three films in one day. I randomly chose this 1953 British crime story on YouTube. This was titled “White Fire” in America.

It is the story of an American in London who tries to find his younger brother who works there. But, he finds out that his brother has been tried for murder, a murder he is innocent of, and he is going to be hanged unless big bro can solve the case.

The story though quickly becomes convoluted with so many people to keep track of, some of them are just names so it is hard to remember who is who unless you see their face. By the end I had given up trying to figure out how it all fit together, even when one character sums up the plot for the audience’s sake. I did watch this late at night though, so my concentration powers were a little dulled.

The acting was fine, nothing special, and it was good to see fifties London. At least four of the actors were American. I was reading somewhere that many American actors who couldn’t make it in America went to England in the fifties and were able to have a decent career there. The direction and cinematography were reasonable.

If the story was just a bit less complicated it could have been a lot better. The story that I could follow was quite engaging and fast-paced. There were some good action bits in it, mostly chases on foot, and a few fisticuffs.

Farewell, My Lovely was the best film of the day

Date watched: July 14th
Score: 6/10
Film count 2018: 43

Wonder Woman

After reading the Secret History of Wonder Woman I was really looking to seeing this, it was getting good reviews where normally the DC superhero movies get pants reviews so it was looking good for some entertainments to be had. But it was quite the disappointment, boring, ho hum visuals and a bit po-faced. I was well ready for it to be over.

DC have just got their superhero universe all wrong, the films are just not fun, at least Marvel are taking their universe in different directions (Thor) and not taking themselves too seriously.

Date watched: 20th October
Score: 6/10
Film count 2017: 66

Doctor Syn

Doctor Syn is the main character in a series of books about pirates, smugglers, Marsh Phantoms, and skulduggery. I am currently reading the third book in the series which is a rollicking good one too. Last night I decided to watch another Doctor Syn film having already seen the excellent Captain Clegg with Peter Cushing.

This film was made in 1937 and starred George Arliss (born Augustus George Andrews) who was a successful British actor in the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. It was based on the first book in the series and some of the filming was done in Dymchurch which is where the original story is based (Dymchurch has a celebration of the novels every two years).

The film itself was quite average, but because of the book I found it fun to see the story I know well in moving pictures and sound, even if it was 80 years old.

It would be great to see a modern blockbuster version of this film. The Clooney would be perfect as the dashing Doctor Syn/Captain Clegg, with Joe Pesci as the Sexton Mipps. It would certainly give the awful Pirates of the Caribbean series a good thrashing. One can but dream.

Date watched: September 28th
Score: 6/10
Film count 2017: 109

The Magnificent Seven

Not sure why you need a remake of the classic Magnificent Seven, but then again, why remake The Seven Samurai? Anyway, here we have Denzel, Pratt, Hawke and some other actors play cowboys. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves, so it is watchable. Absolutely no tension in this when it should be fully six-shooter loaded with tension. In one stand-off scene the music completely ruined the tenseness.

Date watched: 14th July
Score: 6/10
Film count 2017: 36

I should have just watched this opening scene instead of this remake: