Category Archives: 1940s

House of Frankenstein (1944)

House of Frankenstein PosterIn this penultimate Universal Frankenstein movie, the studio adopts the kitchen sink approach, throwing the Frankenstein Monster, the Wolf Man, and Count Dracula into one titanic adventure. Just for good measure you also get a mad scientist and his hunchback assistant. The result is probably a lot better than it had any right to be, mainly because of the able scenery-chewing done by Boris Karloff as Gustav Niemann, the scientist bent on recreating Frankenstein’s most infamous experiment. If you’re wondering how all these monsters are able to share screen time, the simple answer is that they don’t. Continue reading

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)

Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman PosterUniversal must have realized after the dreadful The Ghost of Frankenstein that its big green dope was probably too played out a concept to successfully carry a picture on his own anymore. The solution? Take the onus off the Monster and have a different monster carry the load in this movie.

The result was that Lon Chaney, Jr. got out of the Monster’s make up he had donned for The Ghost of Frankenstein and put back in the fangs and strapped on the hairy wig of the Wolf Man again. As for the now vacant role of the Monster, since Bela Lugosi’s brain had already been implanted in the beast at the end of the last movie, they decided to just go all the way and have him play the Monster himself. Continue reading

The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

Ghost of Frankenstein PosterA pointless entry in Universal’s Frankenstein series, this one is highlighted by such ludicrous elements as the ghost of Henry Frankenstein appearing, brain transplants, and the inexplicable return of the Monster’s sport coat. Some of you may recall the hideous furry vest that the Monster wore in the previous sequel, Son of Frankenstein. Well, that thing is mercifully gone. Of course, no sooner do we get rid of that awful vest, then we realize that we’ve also gotten rid of Boris Karloff. Continue reading

Guadalcanal Diary (1943)

Guadalcanal Diary PosterThis was the kind of movie that as it went along I grew less and less fond of enlisting in, its emphasis on facts and detailing the chronology of the battles at Guadalcanal forcing me to retreat in the face of a withering assault on my entertainment senses. I’ve got digital cable so I’m pretty sure that if I wanted, I could hit channel 566 or so and come up with a World War II Channel where they run documentaries about the Greatest Generation twenty-four hours a day. Continue reading

Mrs. Miniver (1942)

MrsMiniverPosterTo hear my grandpa talk about it, World War II was a time fraught with danger and drama and filled with sacrifice. It was all about men, some only boys, going toe to toe with the Axis war machine and giving them a receipt for Pearl Harbor.

To hear Mrs. Miniver talk about it, World War II was all about how the stupid Germans interrupted the local flower show just as a big upset occurred when the flower raised by the stationmaster beat ten time winner Lady Beldon. What should have been a time of heady celebration and rioting instead turned into a mass panic as Nazi bombs began to rain down on the proceedings. Continue reading

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944)

Ali Baba PosterA limp rehash of the Jon Hall/Maria Montez Arabian Nights movie that Universal released the year before. Hall plays the rightful ruler of Baghdad in both who is trying to regain the throne from some pretender, Maria Montez is the acting-challenged red head posing as an exotic beauty who really loves Hall’s character but is being forced to marry the usurper in both, and at some point in each movie the lovebirds have mistaken identity problems which allows the director to drag out the story before the mistake is discovered. Continue reading

The Corsican Brothers (1941)

The Corsican Brothers PosterIf you have any education at all, you know that this movie is based on a novel about twins written back in 1845 by Alexandre Dumas. Since this is one of those hundred-plus year old books and is French, it is a classic. This means that you were assigned to read the thing in school, but didn’t, content to rely on the smart kid with atrocious breath to fill you in on the details. Continue reading

Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949)

Take Me Out to the Ball Game PosterThis is a film that I would recommend to all the people complaining that our professional athletes are overcompensated. Not because I think these people are jealous whiners and that they deserve to have to sit through this forgettable musical filled with unremarkable tunes, dance numbers that don’t ever catch fire, and a story about as thin as Frank Sinatra, though that wouldn’t be totally unwarranted punishment for them. But because this movie teaches us what happens when pro ballplayers don’t make enough money and have to find second jobs from shady gamblers.

Right from the beginning, the movie demonstrates how desirous it is for our sports heroes to not be forced into off season employment when we meet up with Gene Kelly and Old Blue Eyes as they perform their vaudeville routine that revolves around a lot of singing and dancing to the title song. Continue reading

Deception (1946)

Deception PosterDeception teaches us the hard way that the only thing worse than a film ending with a big cello concerto is a film that drones on with lots of talk ten minutes after the big cello concerto.

Watching Paul Henreid straddling a big violin as he makes all these “either I’m a musical genius or I’m in need of some serious fiber” faces while he plays some obnoxious dirge that composer/rival Claude Rains dreamed up in between bouts of surly self-pity at having lost the affections of Bette Davis, made me realize why you don’t see a lot of love triangle movies involving classical musicians these days. Continue reading