A Slight Case of Murder


A Slight Case of Murder with Edward G. Robinson.  The movie begins with the celebration surrounding the repeal of prohibition. Remy Marco (Edward G. Robinson) has made a fortune selling bootleg beer during prohibition, and plans to be even more successful as a legitimate brewer.  It never occurs to him that his beer was successful because it was the only beer available, and not because of its inherent quality.  In fact, it is terrible.

Marco and his wife affect an attitude of high society and employ their former enforcers as their butler, driver, and steward.  After four years of the "legit" life they are bankrupt and about to lose the brewery to some enterprising bankers who know they need only change the beer recipe to be successful (Marco has never tasted his own beer).

Throw in a few dead bodies, an armored car robbery, a Dead-End-Kid orphan, and a prospective son-in-law who is a policeman and you have a movie.

This movie didn't really gel until the end when all of the plot points are zinging past each other at a raucous party given at Marco's country rental house.  The last twenty minutes are quite good (and the movie is only 85 minutes long).

Marco tastes his own beer.

There's Always a Woman


There's Always a Woman.  Bill Reardon (Melvyn Douglas) is a former city detective trying (and failing) to make a go of it as a private dick.  His wife, Sally (Joan Blondell), thinks he only lacks publicity to be a success.  When Bill finally gives up and gets his old job back with the district attorney, Sally secretly accepts a private case on his behalf.  Due more to enthusiasm than skill she gradually uncovers clues which she immediately leaks to the press.  Bill finally joins forces with her and they solve the case.

Joan Blondell is lots of fun. She is unrelentingly cheerful and optimistic and constantly deceitful.  Melvyn Douglas thinks he wears the pants in the family but never manages to win an argument.  Something you don't see in today's movies: during almost every argument Melvyn Douglas raises his hand as if to strike Joan Blondell.

Four Daughters


Four Daughters with Claude Rains and the Lane Sisters.  Four musically inclined sisters living with their father are courted and marry.

Sisters Priscilla Lane, Rosemary Lane, and Lola Lane were cast together in this movie about four sisters.  They had another actress sister named Leota but apparently she was unsuitable so Gale Page was cast as the fourth sister.  The three Lanes plus Page were so popular in this movie that they were cast again in two sequels and a different sister movie.  Four Daughters was also John Garfield's debut movie.  He plays a handsome morose rebel.  The first half of this movie is all light comedy but the introduction of Garfield leads to tragic consequences.  I was kind of shocked at what this movie turned into.  I think this juxtaposition was what made this movie so popular (it was a Best Picture nominee), but I was a little put off by it.

A Man to Remember


A Man to Remember.  This is a Capra-esque movie that looks back on the life of a small town doctor who enriched every life in town except his own.  When a woman dies in childbirth and her husband is unwilling to accept the responsibility of raising the child, Doc Abbott proceeds to raise the child as his own daughter.  When a drunken suitor accidentally shoots his daughter in the arm (not really an Ozzie and Harriet moment, although it was almost portrayed that way), Doc Abbott uses the threat of scandal to force the boy's rich father to build a hospital for the town.  When a few cases of probable polio fail to convince the city council to cancel the pending county fair, Doc Abbott single-handedly inoculates every child in the town.

Doc Abbott is played by Edward Ellis, the titular "Thin Man" from The Thin Man. Besides the creepy gunshot sequence there is another uncomfortable plot line when Doc Abbott's natural born son, Dick, returns from medical school and discovers that his "sister", Jean, has blossomed into an attractive young lady.  Apparently the four years of absence enables him to forget that she was raised as his sister from the day of her birth and, reasoning that they are not really brother and sister, the two former siblings become obvious romantic targets for each other.  This is not consummated in more than hand-holding in the movie, thank goodness.

The Divorce of Lady X


The Divorce of Lady X with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon.  Olivier is a divorce lawyer who takes a room in a hotel to wait out a particularly bad London fog.  Oberon cajoles him into sharing his suite with her (in separate rooms) because there are no vacancies.  Olivier gains a new client the following day who wants to divorce his wife because he is convinced she spent the night in a hotel with a man, and Olivier is convinced that Oberon is the wife in question, whom he has decided he loves.

This is my third color movie.  Olivier is okay but I think comedy is not his metier.  Merle Oberon is cute and precocious but thoughtlessly cruel as she misleads Olivier for her own idle amusement.

Happy Landing


Happy Landing with Sonja Henie, Don Ameche, Cesar Romero, and Ethel Merman.  Cesar Romero is a love-'em-and-leave-'em band leader, Don Ameche is his manager who keeps him out of trouble, Ethel Merman is a gold digger who tries to entrap Romero, Sonja Henie (the Esther Williams of ice skating) is an innocent Norwegian who falls in love with Romero.  Coincidentally, Romero's character is named "Duke", same as his character in Five of a Kind.

This movie is great entertaining fluff.  It is a musical, with songs performed by Cesar Romero and Ethel Merman interspersed between lavish ice skating production numbers.  It is worth seeing just for one scene where Billy Gilbert* as a diner counterman tries to push the pot roast special when Don Ameche wants to order a hamburger.  It is a laugh-out-loud "who's on first" sort of routine.

*whom IMDB says was the voice of Sneezy in Snow White and the dim-witted process server Pettibone in His Girl Friday

"We got extra special pot roast for today, with noodles!"

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