Friday, December 12, 2014

Nugget Reviews - 15

Knights of the Round Table ( 1954 ) 14k

King Arthur earns the throne of England and leads the kingdom into its happiest days, until the wicked Mordred plots to undermine his rule by claiming Sir Lancelot is having an affair with Queen Guinevere. Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Mel Ferrer, Stanley Baker. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Directed by Richard Thorpe.

Considering that the King Arthur fables are as old as dust it is surprising that an earlier version of Knights of the Round Table was not made. This film plays out like a Technicolor MGM remake of a superior 1930s Warner Brothers swashbuckler. Robert Taylor is quite good as Sir Lancelot and Baker is as menacing as ever, but Gardner fails to impress as Queen Guinevere. She just doesn't have the makings of a noble, self-sacrificing queen. Overall, it's a fun sojourn into the merry medieval days of yor and the writers managed to condense a very lengthy legend into a tidy 2 hour film. 

The Black Arrow ( 1948 ) 14k

A young noble returns from the War of the Roses to find his father has been slain by his wicked uncle. With the aid of an outlaw, the Black Arrow, he vows to avenge his father's death and clear the name of the fugitive who was blamed for this crime.  Louis Hayward, Janet Blair, George Macready. Columbia Pictures. Directed by Gordon Douglas. 

Based on a famous novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Black Arrow, is an entertaining swashbuckler from Columbia Pictures but fails to become a memorable film in spite of its talented cast. Louis Hayward, at age 39, is rather old to be the impetuous youth the role called for. Keep your eyes out for the man dressed in drag happily waving to Sir Brackley when he enters the court. We don't know what that was all about.

Test Pilot ( 1938 ) 14k

A test pilot crash lands his plane on a Kansas farm, falls in love with the lady he meets there, marries her and then spooks her out of her wits on a daily basis with his reckless test flights. Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, Myrna Loy. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Directed by Victor Fleming. 

Test Pilot was planned to be Metro's big all-out production of the year. They took their most bankable stars and gathered them together for this film which was based on an original story by a formal naval test pilot. It became the smash-hit they hoped for and united those onscreen lovebirds - Loy and Gable - for the third time. Tracy and Gable united just once more ( for Boom Town ) even though they didn't hit it off on the set of Test Pilot. Nevertheless, they had great comradery onscreen and turned a simple plot into a believable action film. 

The Lost Moment ( 1947 ) Elct.

A publisher travels to Venice to purchase the lost love letters of a 19th century poet and winds up falling in love with the schizophrenic niece of the poet's old lover. Robert Cummings, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead. Universal Pictures. Directed by Martin Gabel. 

This movie is depressing as heck. The cinematography is really nice and the story line great but the overall feel of the film just didn't allow us to warm up to it. Robert Cummings was best in comedy roles and always seems miscast in films with characters that must show really deep thought. Moorehead's makeup job was great though. The film managed to return only half of its initial budget. A small failure for Martin Gabel, the director, taking the helm on his first production.

Bachelor Mother ( 1939 )  18k 

Worried that the baby would fall, a department store salesgirl scoops up an infant left on the doorstep of an orphanage and then finds herself mistaken to be its mother.  Ginger Rogers, David Niven, Charles Coburn, Frank Albertson. RKO. Directed by Garson Kanin.

RKO had a knack of creating low-budget films with high-budget entertainment quality. This one sparkles with humor, light drama, and the requisite romance. The film trots along at a brisk pace and all of the principal actors play their roles delightfully. Alas, Rogers only gets to do one twirl around the floor but the comedy more than makes up for the lack of toe-tapping scenes. A great after-Christmas-before-New-Year-film!


  1. "Test Pilot" was the second of three movies starring Gable and Tracy, between "San Francisco" and "Boom Town". I've never been able to warm up to either "Test Pilot" or "Boom Town".

    I like "The Black Arrow" despite its shortcomings. It must be a case of appreciating the effort. I don't know about that guy either!

    1. Thanks for the corrections CW! Here I went assuming things again. I enjoyed The Black Arrow too ( honestly, who can resist a swashbuckler? ) but still, I couldn't help but wish that Tyrone Power or perhaps Cornel Wilde was in the lead. Did you ever notice how similar Barry MacKay ( Scrooge's nephew in A Christmas Carol ) looks to Louis Hayward?

  2. I agree about KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE. I think Robert Taylor's other swashbucklers are much better: IVANHOE (of course) and the underrated QUENTIN DURWARD.