Monday, April 7, 2014

Nugget Reviews - 10

This selection of the Nugget Reviews is a mixed grab bag for sure, with some entertaining fare tossed among the more lackluster flicks. Alas, there be no golden nuggets this time around. 


Escapade in Florence ( 1962 ) 14k


An art student in Florence discovers a painting hiding under another that he purchased and discovers a group of forgers in town. Tommy Kirk, Annette Funicello, Nino Castelnuovo, Ivan Desney. Walt Disney Studios. Directed by Steve Previn. 

The Walt Disney made-for-television movies never did have the quality of the feature films the studio released....however, they did often present location filming - something the feature films rarely did. Annette sings many a colorful tune ( penned by the Sherman Brothers of course ) and, along with Tommy, rides around on his Vespa seeing the beauty of Firenza, while chasing down the art thieves. Some scenes are rather sleep-inducing, but overall it's a fun film. 

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School for Scoundrels ( 1960 ) 14k


A young man, intent on impressing a new girl he met, decides to enroll in the College of Lifemanship, where Mr. Potter instructs all his pupils in the art of being "one up" on every one else. Or, as the alternate title continues, "How to Win Without Actually Cheating". Ian Carmichael, Terry-Thomas, Janette Scott, Alastair Sim. Associated British Picture Corporation. Directed by Cyril Frankel.

School for Scoundrels is based on Stephen Potter's delightful One-Upmanship and Lifemanship books and boasts a plumb ducky cast : Janette Scott is adorable, Sim is very simmy, Terry-Thomas has a decent meaty role ( or should I say toothy? ) and it's nice to see Ian Carmichael in his pre-Wimsey days. While it entertained for most of its run, the ending tended to droop a bit. An interesting bit of trivia : Cary Grant was keen on doing a filming of the stories but couldn't find an American audience for it. Hard cheese old boy! 

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Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase ( 1939 ) 14k


Someone is trying to scare two old spinsters from their home in order that they may forfeit on their inheritance. Nancy Drew and Ted Nickerson try to help and discover a hidden tunnel in the process. Bonita Granville, John Litel, Frankie Thomas, Warner Brothers. Directed by William Clemens. 

Some may think the Nancy Drew series of the 1930s were just average run-of-the-mill entertainment, but we've got a soft spot for Nancy and her sleuthing shenanigans and this film ranks as one of our favorites in the series. How Ted puts up with Nancy is a wonder! She has him chase pidgeons around town, pushes him in a basement to spend a night with a killer, and steals his belt ( "You don't seem to understand Nancy...that's the only thing that's keeping my pants up!" ). It's a great little mystery and great fun to watch. 

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Holiday for Lovers ( 1959 ) Elct.


A psychiatrist and his wife travel to South America to stop their daughter Meg from becoming an engaged to a shiftless artist. Clifton Webb, Jane Wyman, Paul Henried, Carol Lynley, Jill St. John, Gary Crosby. Twentieth Century Fox. Directed by Harry Levin. 

The domestic comedies of the 1950s were a mixed lot of solid entertainment and downright dreadful films. This one ranks nearer to the latter. The actors, talented as they are, can't make out what to do with this script. The tag line hailed "It's a holiday of Joy! A holiday of Fun!" but the principal characters have neither joy nor fun on their escapade and neither do we.  The film winds up being a dramatic comedy that isn't very funny nor dramatic. Gene Tierney was originally cast as the mother role, but collapsed during the making and had to be replaced by Joan Fontaine...who had an emotional breakdown as well. Diane Baker and Diane Varsi were both signed to parts ( as Meg ) and withdrew from the film. That tells you everything. 

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A Life at Stake ( 1954 ) Fool's Gold


An architect discovers that his business partner and her husband want to do away with him for the $150,000 life insurance policy they took out on him. Keith Andes, Angela Lansbury, Douglas Dumbrille, Jane Darwell. Hank McCune Productions. Directed by Paul Guilfoyle. 

This film thinks itself much more cleverer than it is. In fact, the only thing it is, is downright confusing. Angela Lansbury runs both hot and cold at the same time like a cheap faucet while she tries to lure Andes to his demise. Poor Andes, he didn't need any luring to get that accomplished, all he had to do was read the movie's tagline...he was following " a cheat at heart from her painted toes to her plunging necklace". The movie is in the public domain now and can be found online, where it is best to view it ( since it is free ). 

2 comments:

  1. H'm, I know I've seen some of these way back when, but they didn't make a strong impression. Gee, I always think of Paul Guilfoyle as a sneaky henchman in old crime pictures. Had no idea he'd turned to directing. I never stopped to wonder what became of sneaky henchmen in their golden years.

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    Replies
    1. They turn into sneaky directors...and in this case, Guilfoyle should have stayed a henchmen. His directing ability wasn't anywhere near John Ford's talent.

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