Saturday, October 19, 2013

Nugget Reviews - 6

With Halloween fast approaching this edition of the Nugget Reviews will focus on great films to watch on Halloween night - films that even the timid would find thoroughly enjoyable. There are no fool's gold hidden among these gems...Enjoy! 

The Ghost Breakers ( 1940 ) 18k

Larry Lawrence, his quaking manservant and an heiress investigate the mysterious happenings at a castle in Cuba after they get threatening voodoo warnings to keep away from the property. Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, Willie Best, Paul Lukas, Richard Carlson, Anthony Quinn. Paramount Pictures. Directed by George Marshall.

After the success of "The Cat and the Canary", Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard were teamed up once again to solve a mystery, this time as a radio broadcaster and an heiress who investigate the voodoo hoodoo at Castillo Maldito, an island property she inherited off of Cuba. Undoubtedly a step up from "The Cat and the Canary", "The Ghost Breakers" is one of Hope's best. He delivers rapid-fire quips such as "I'm in great shape for the shape I'm in" while still having time to woo Goddard.


The Bat ( 1959 ) 14k

A mystery writer and her companion rent a rambling mansion in the country for the summer, little knowing that their landlord has been killed and a masked murderer known as "The Bat" is on the premises searching for hidden treasure. Agnes Moorehead, Vincent Price, Gavin Gordon, Lenita Lane, John Sutton,  Allied Artists. Directed by Crane Wilbur.

"The Bat", a remake of "The Bat Whispers" ( 1931 ) was based on Mary Roberts Rinehart's famous mystery novel which was one of the first to popularize the "mansion filled with guests and hidden money" premise. The film contains some great sets, interesting suspects and more twists and turns than there are secret passages in the mansion. Although the acting gets to be downright corny at times, Agnes Moorehead and Vincent Price are always pros and make this film a treat to watch, even if the plot does elude you. Heck, we've seen it over fifty times already and have not tired of it!


The Ghost and Mr. Chicken ( 1966 ) 14k

Luther Heggs, a timid typesetter boasts that he can spend the night in the Old Simmons Mansion where it is rumored that the ghost of Nickolas Simmons still resides. He becomes the town hero for doing so but then finds a libel suit thrown at him when he prints what he saw that fateful night. Don Knotts, Joan Staley, Dick Sargant, Liam Redmond, Philip Ober. Universal Pictures. Directed by Alan Rafkin. 

Ephraim Simmons murdered his wife in cold blood and then played the organ before killing himself; the keys are still stained with blood, and could never be cleaned off, even after using Bon-Ami...or so the rumor goes. It takes a man with spunk, like Luther, to get to the bottom of the real story. A sprightly ghost theme by Vic Mizzy ( based on Mr.Ghost Goes to Town ) permeate this homespun comedy gem filled with great one-liners, great atmosphere, great Mayberry character actors, and one of Don Knotts greatest nerve-rattled performances. 'Atta boy, Don Knotts! 


House of Fear ( 1945 ) 14k

Sherlock Holmes and Dr.Watson travel to the countryside of Scotland to investigate the murders of two members of the Good Comrades Club, members who were forewarned of their death before their bodies were mutilated beyond recognition. Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Aubrey Mather, Dennis Hoey, Paul Cavanagh.Universal Pictures. Directed by Roy William Neill. 

The eighth film in the Universal Sherlock Holmes series and one of the most memorable due to its unique criminal plot. A house on the cliff, a private club, footprints in the sand and a dark stormy night, what more could one ask for in a Sherlock Holmes feature? Dr. Watson gets the spotlight turned on him in many scenes and Nigel Bruce gets to mumble and sputter exclamations to great effect. Alas, parts of the movie drag on but overall its quite a pip.


Hold that Ghost! ( 1941 ) 18k 

Two gas station attendants inherit an old roadside inn, but find that a gangster's dirty millions are hidden in the house and his con-men cohorts are no about to let it fall into the hands of two boobs. Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Evelyn Ankers, Joan Davis, Richard Carlson, Shemp Howard. Universal Pictures. Directed by Arthur Lubin. 

Abbott and Costello's slapstick humor do not appeal to all audiences, but this is one film that even the most ardent A&C loathers will find hard not to like. Evelyn Ankers, Hollywood's top scream queen of the 1940s, adds great sweetheart support as does comedian Joan Davis. Her tango with Lou Costello is one of the highlights of this haunted house flick and we can only imagine how audiences screamed throughout the film - screams of laughter that is.

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