Friendship: An Expose (book review)

A book review from The Movie Snob

Friends: An Exposé, by Joseph Epstein (2006). I always enjoy Epstein’s writing—his short stories appear in Commentary magazine fairly regularly, and he occasionally publishes columns or essays in other magazines as well. This book is not so much an “exposé” as an “exploration”—a series of essays and meditations on the nature of friendship and the qualities that make for a good friendship. Epstein also muses on the peculiarities of friendship as it is experienced between men, between women, and between men and women (that last a relatively recent development in the history of friendship). His observations are enjoyable enough, but I really preferred the (numerous) parts of the book in which he simply describes some of his past and current friendships and the pleasure he has taken in them. A nice little book.

Concert review: Cyndi Lauper

From The Movie Snob

I first became aware of current pop music in or about 1983, and my earliest favorite artists were performers like Huey Lewis and the News (Sports), Billy Joel (An Innocent Man), Bruce Springsteen (Born in the U.S.A.), and, yes, Cyndi Lauper (She’s So Unusual). I was convinced that she had way more talent than that Madonna tramp and would come out on top. So maybe I didn’t call that one right, but I have still always wanted to see Cyndi in concert. (I had tickets to see her in a free outdoor-festival concert a few years ago, but it got rained and flooded out.) Tonight I finally did so, at Dallas’s Lakewood Theater. It was an entertaining evening, although not quite what I expected. I had heard that her song “True Colors” has become something of a gay anthem, but I was a little surprised at the extent to which the concert was more like a gay-rights rally. The opening act was a woman whose name I have forgotten, and she wore her very blue-state views on her sleeve the whole time—to the crowd’s delight. Although I could not embrace her politics, she had some talent, and her songs were catchy enough. I did think she kind of missed the mark with one song that I think was intended to skewer Texas for its comparatively frequent use of the death penalty; the theme was basically that you’d better not kill in Texas because you’ll get killed yourself, which probably is not going to offend anybody in the pro-capital-punishment crowd.

Anyway, Cyndi did a set that was almost 90 minutes long and included just about every hit song of hers that I ever knew of: all five singles from She’s So Unusual, plus “Change of Heart, “True Colors,” “I Drove All Night,” and an abbreviated a capella rendition of the theme from the movie The Goonies. Her voice is pretty much the same as it was back in the day, and although she really changed up the instrumentation and tone on some of her hits (I’m sure she has to, to keep from going crazy from repetition), they were still quite recognizable and enjoyable. She didn’t hesitate to speak her mind about things, either. At one point, apparently a Hare Krishna in the front row gave her a lei, which she accepted, but not without commenting on some experiences she had had with the Krishnas and criticizing some sexist practices she observed. Anyhoo, I had a good time, and I can finally quit wondering whether I’m ever going to get to see Cyndi Lauper in concert.

Derailed

From guest reviewer Comic Book Guy.

Derailed (Unrated version on DVD)

My wife must be on a Jennifer Aniston kick because this is her second film in less than a month that has shown up from Netflix. Not that I mind, and this film had more to offer than the last one (Friends with Money). I was surprised by this film. I don’t want to give anything away so rather than focus on plot elements, I’ll say this: the strong story makes up for this film’s other flaws. I’ll also say this—it’s not for the squeamish or the meek at heart. There’s a lot of ugliness in this movie—and without it, the film would lack its visceral punch. I wonder if the theatrical release was cleaned up. Don’t judge this film till it’s over. I wanted to turn it off after the first 45 minutes or so but was glad I saw it through to the bitter end. You’ll cheat yourself if you don’t take it all in.

JUDGMENT: B-

Lost: Season Two

DVD review from Nick at Nite

Lost: Season 2

Smart, different, and not reality TV. I just finished watching Season 2 of Lost on DVD. This is one of the rare examples of show that gets better as it ages. I really don’t want to give any plot surprises away for anyone who might be interested in trying to watch this show. If you have never seen it, go to Blockbuster and start by renting disc one from the first season. By the third episode you’ll be hooked. Everyone knows the story revolves around a group of people that have survived a plane crash and find themselves stranded on an island in the middle of the ocean. Everything else about this show is too difficult to describe in a short review. This show seems to have a little of something for everyone. Check it out. I give it an “A.”

V for Vendetta

A DVD review from Comic Book Guy.

V for Vendetta.

Having worked in a comic book store (in the 80’s, when V was originally published), I have a soft spot for any comic adaptation that makes it to the big screen. Some, like V, translate well. Even if you missed the comics and the film, you know this story well: Oppressive totalitarian regime targets Muslims, homosexuals and other “undesirables” for elimination in the name of unity and faith. Said regime sacrifices its own to consolidate its powerbase. No, it’s not the Bush Administration—this is fiction. Set in the not too distant future, one man (?) sets about to undo a corrupt totalitarian state. With this backdrop, you’d expect the film has a lot to work with—and it does: individual vs. collective rights, truth and propaganda, the loss of freedom in the name of state security; terrorism; religious and cultural pluralism; the nature of freedom and the power of ideas. The list could go on and on (and it does at an sluggardly 2 and half hours). Despite this wealth of material, the movie only scratches the surface. Maybe it’s too much for a movie based on a comic book. This is not the Fantastic Four but somehow, it lacks the gravity you’d expect from the material. Maybe it’s the guy in the mask. Maybe it’s because it’s based on a comic book.

The combat sequence special effects would be awesome if the Wachowski brothers hadn’t already Matrixed us to death. Solid acting (except for the guy in the mask—and I’ll cut him some slack). Natalie Portman (Black Swan) is great. John Hurt relives his days from 1984.

Interesting, yes; but since the end of the cold war, Orwellian fare leaves me, well, cold. Even so, worth seeing, primarily because of what drives the action: principles worth fighting for. Judgment: B.

Incident at Loch Ness

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Incident at Loch Ness (B-). As a kid, I was fascinated by the Loch Ness Monster, which is probably why I sought out this little-seen independent flick from a couple of years ago. It’s a movie within a movie, starring acclaimed German film director Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man). The premise is that he is going to make a movie called “The Enigma of Loch Ness,” while somebody else is simultaneously making a documentary about him as he makes his movie. Herzog plans to make a philosophical film about the reasons we seem to need to believe in monsters, but we quickly see that his producer (Zak Penn, Chuck & Buck) is trying to hijack the movie and turn it into a mainstream monster-hunt sort of movie. (Example, he brings a gorgeous “sonar operator” (Kitana Baker, Intolerable Cruelty) aboard the boat, and she turns out to be a Playboy model and aspiring actress.) Chaos ensues when Herzog gets wind of what’s going on — and then the real Loch Ness Monster shows up! Not a great movie, but definitely some chuckles.

Lost Worlds: Lives in the Balance

Movie review from The Movie Snob

Lost Worlds: Lives in the Balance (B). How unexpected — an IMAX movie about nature that warns us that man is destroying nature! But it’s still an enjoyable toboggan ride into the abyss thanks to the beautiful scenery. Harrison Ford (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) sounding half-asleep as usual, narrates a tour of various natural habitats including the jungles that have swallowed a vast Mayan city, the kelp forests off the coast of California, and some remote mountains in southern Venezuela. A handful of scientists go camping on the top of said mountains and discover a cute little black toad that crawls instead of hops and that likes to curl up into a ball and roll down hills. How toads got on top of the mountain is left unexplained. Anyway, I walked out with a whole new appreciation for biodiversity. Well, not really.

Flyboys; The Football Factory

New reviews from Nick at Nite

Flyboys

This movie is billed as being from the creators of Independence Day and The Patriot. That type of advertising usually means lots of action, big explosions, thin plot, over emoting, and a victory for the good guys. Flyboys is actually much, much more. It has plenty of action and explosions, and the good guys do win, but it has much more. It tells the story of the Lafayette Escadrille. These brave Americans volunteered for service with the French before America entered World War I. They were mostly college graduates. They were drawn to battle out of a sense of personal obligation. It is an interesting, historically accurate telling of their time in battle. By the way, they really did have a lion as a mascot. There is a ton of flying in this movie, lots of air duels, lots of blood shed off camera, some dead bodies, and the horror of war. This movie was exciting, I learned something, and I had a good time for a few hours. I give it an “A.”

The Football Factory

An alarming British film about the misguided lives of British soccer hooligans. In America we call it soccer. In Britain they call it football. Much like how Istanbul is actually Constantinople, we will never know why “football” was changed to “soccer.” Apparently, there are a large numbers of British soccer fans who go around searching each other out and beating each other up. This movie is basically Gangs of New York without the period costumes, Daniel Day Lewis, Cameron Diaz, Liam Neeson, or Martin Scorsese. It is not clear to me what these hooligans do for a living, but it is appealing to me that they spend much of their time in pubs. Honestly, I was bored. I found it odd that this movie was about soccer, yet there was not one scene of anyone playing any soccer. Much pointless barbarism. Since it didn’t involve zombies, I didn’t really care for it. I give it a “C.”

The Illusionist

A guest review by Scott M.

The Illusionist (2006)

In the turn-of-the-century Austrian countryside, a young peasant boy named Eisenheim wins the heart of Sophie, a young woman of royal lineage, with his unrefined, yet mesmerizing magical skills. However, he lacks the ability to overcome the social boundary between the two of them, and ultimately her royal family forbids the couple to see each other again. Fifteen years later they reunite when Eisenheim (Ed Norton – Primal Fear, Rounders, The Italian Job) returns to Vienna as a famous magician, Eisenheim the Illusionist. Eisenheim is surprised to find out that Sophie (Jessica Biel – TV’s 7th Heaven) is engaged to Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell – Tristan + Isolde), but it is not long before Eisenheim and Sophie rekindle their prior love affair. Despite the warnings of the well-intentioned, yet duty-bound Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti – Sideways, Lady in the Water) to steer clear of Sophie, Eisenheim refuses and subtly utilizes his magical powers to undermine the Crown Prince’s power in an attempt to lure Sophie away from him. The remainder of the movie details the escalation of the tension and competition among Eisenheim and Leopold, putting Sophie and Chief Inspector Uhl in the middle – with (of course ) some magic tricks mixed in.

Despite some unquestionably interesting magic tricks and another compelling performance by Norton (who happens to be one of my favorite actors), and a strong performance by Giamatti, the movie fails to deliver any real “magic”. The characters and the plot both seemed borrowed from a variety of other movies and sources, and I felt myself saying “this seems familiar” way too often. In fact the movie’s biggest plot line has been overused way too often to be compelling (the “peasant boy falls in love with woman of royalty making those in the royal ranks non-too-happy” theme is less than original – they even used that one in Pirates of the Caribbean). But, it wasn’t until the end of the movie that I recognized the movie’s biggest theft – straight out of one of Shakespeare’s most memorable plays (albeit with a different ending). I left the movie with a ho-hum feeling and kept thinking that maybe the best trick the movie pulled off was making the $8 disappear from my wallet. Overall, I give it a B- (which on my “Golfing Guru” scale amounts to a “three-putt bogey”).

Little Miss Sunshine

A movie review from A View From Mars (and, incidentally, our 500th post on The Movie Court!)

Little Miss Sunshine (B) – Does it ever get better than the dysfunctional-family-on-a-road-trip comedy? This movie made a splash at Sundance as one of the critics’ darling picks. It boasts a solid cast, a good script and in a few scenes, a temperamental Volkswagen not seen since Herbie the Love Bug. The plot revolves around the youngest daughter (Abigail Breslin, No Reservations) defaulting her way into being her local town’s representative for the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant, which so happens to be held cross country in California. I’m not quite sure which way the distribution marketing heads were going with this film as most anything I saw on this led me to believe that I was going to experience a light drama with some comedy thrown in. However, this was definitely more on the comedic side, if not completely. In particular, there were a few running gags that I thought were going to get old quick, but instead, I continued to laugh each and every time. So to summarize; Steve Carrell (Crazy, Stupid, Love) as a gay uncle, Greg Kinnear (Heaven Is For Real) as a failed Anthony Robbins-lite self-help guru and Alan Arkin (Argo) as the callous and foul mouthed grandpa. A solid picture that poses the moviegoing question of, “why not, what else do I have to do.”

Lawrence of Arabia

New review from The Movie Snob

Lawrence of Arabia (B). A local theater has launched a new program of showing classic movies, and this was the first one in the series. David Lean’s 1962 epic stars Peter O’Toole (Troy) as T.E. Lawrence, an eccentric and flamboyant young British lieutenant stationed in Cairo during World War I. Arabia was apparently ruled by the Ottoman Turks at this time (please excuse my historical ignorance), and the Brits were interested in inciting the Arabs to rebel against their Turkish masters (and secretly interested in claiming Arabia for themselves after the war). They sent Lawrence to contact and observe the various Arab tribal leaders, and to his superiors’ surprise he went beyond his orders and persuaded them to unite long enough to revolt against the Turks. At 3 hours and 45 minutes long, this is not a movie for the faint of heart or the delicate of derriere, but it is pretty entertaining. O’Toole gives a great performance as the rather bizarre Lawrence, and there is plenty of spectacular desert scenery.

The Motorcycle Diaries

DVD review by Comic Book Guy.

Motorcycle Diaries

Biopic, Buddy Picture, Road Trip or Travelogue? All of the above. Che Guevara (Gael Garcia Bernal, Casa de mi Padre) and his biochemist friend Alberto (Rodrigo De la Serna, Chronicle of an Escape) travel from Argentina to Venezuela by bike and then foot, meeting friends, family and locals along the way. Great film – would be even better on a big screen. The writing, despite the profanity, is solid, as is the acting. The scenery – stunning, at least in places. The message? Don’t worry about it – just enjoy the ride. Judgment? Don’t miss.

As a side note, the main characters spend considerable time in a leper colony. Leprosy creeps me out and I kept wondering why these guys don’t worry about it. Seeing the movie made me look up some information from the WHO: Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by a bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae The bacteria multiply very slowly – the incubation period is about five years and symptoms can take as long as 20 years to appear. Although the route of transmission is not exactly known, it’s apparently transmitted via droplets, from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contacts with untreated cases. It’s not considered highly contagious. Fortunately, the number of active cases has dramatically decreased from 5.2 million in 1985 to 286 000 in 2004. It has been eliminated from 113 of 122 countries where it was considered a public health problem in 1985.

American Idols in Concert

A joint review by The Movie Snob and The Borg Queen.

MS: Well, the American Idols came to town the other night, and The Borg Queen and I were there to see it in all its tacky glory. What was your overall impression, Your Highness?

BQ: Would you like a side of crackers with your cheese?

MS: Well said. Okay, on to the performers. I thought that Marcela did a very nice job opening the show with a couple of Whitney Houstonesque tunes.

BQ: It’s “Mandesa.”

MS: Whatever.

BQ: She can sing, but overall forgettable. Plus she kept doing funky things with her hand. It was like she was stabbing somebody in a sort of Three Stooges fashion.

MS: Hmmmm, that got by me. But that next guy, Ace, was he dreamy or what?

BQ: . . .

MS: Please stop drooling and answer the question.

BQ: I’m not drooling. I’m just thinking that your thinking he was dreamy explains a few things about our defunct relationship. Anyhow, he sang all right, and he was entertaining, but he was more concerned about flexing his biceps than he was carrying a tune.

MS: Moving right along…. Who was next?

BQ: Lisa Tucker.

MS: Oh yeah. Great performer. Pretty, great voice, played the piano.

BQ: I thought she was a showstopper. Give her five years time, she’ll be back. Next up was her “best friend,” Paris. I thought she was trying too hard to be like Janet Jackson. Her outfit even reminded me of the Miss You Much video.

MS: Yeah, Paris didn’t make much of an impression on me. Can’t go wrong imitating Ms. Jackson though.

BQ: But then we came to Bucky. On the show, I thought he was total blah. In person, he still couldn’t sing that well, but he did have a certain . . . meow!

MS: EEEWWWW!!!! That long-haired hippie cowboy dork? He couldn’t sing his way out of a paper bag. I could see Kelly Pickler’s bile rising when she had to duet You’re the One That I Want with him.

BQ: I thought Pickler was adorable during the TV show, but she was a bit of a letdown in person. She didn’t really seem to be paying attention to the show.

MS: She was a firecracker, though! I’d go to her Sonic anytime.

BQ: Be prepared for her to get your order wrong.

MS: Good point. Okay, after the intermission, things really got interesting. First up was that bald Chris dude, rocking out with some Led Zeppelin and Bon Jovi. Had a little trouble with Styx’s Renegade, though.

BQ: I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying too much attention to his singing. I was staring at his open-shirted chest the whole time.

MS: Tsk, tsk.

BQ: Don’t tsk me! You had Lisa, Pickler, and Katharine McPhee for your eye candy.

MS: I admired them strictly for their vocal talent, I assure you.

BQ: Vocal talent? You really want me to respond to that?

MS: Then there was that Elliott guy. Good voice, nice presence, just didn’t care for his material.

BQ: Yeah, it’s strange. For somebody with such an awesome voice, he sure is forgettable. Couldn’t tell you what he sang.

MS: What who sang?

BQ: I don’t remember.

MS: Then there was the true showstopper in this bunch, the incomparable Nanny McPhee.

BQ: Katharine.

MS: Katharine. Yeah, she was great. Glamour, talent, bad ankle, she had it all.

BQ: Yeah. At first I couldn’t figure out why she was walking around barefoot, but you later informed me that she had a sprained ankle. I guess some of us are more up to date on our Katharine McPhee trivia than others. But her rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow was incredible.

MS: Yep, she’s a performer. I’m expecting big things from her in the future. Or maybe we’ll never hear from her again. At least I got my 8×10 glossy photo of her to help me remember the greatness.

BQ: Let’s not forget the American Idol champion, Taylor Hicks.

MS: Can we please?

BQ: If only I could. The images are haunting me at night.

MS: Yeah, him and Bucky the hippie cowboy!

BQ: No, not Bucky. Bucky good. Taylor so bad.

MS: We agree on that, Your Majesty. He was painful to watch, spazzing around the stage like a . . . spastic . . . guy.

BQ: He looked like he had a tic set to a beat. Barely. While high on cocaine. And having an itch he just couldn’t quite reach.

MS: So . . . he danced like a white guy. Tell me something I don’t know. He was lame. Nice finale with all the Idols on stage doing Living in America, didn’t you think?

BQ: In all honesty, I don’t really know. I was just so happy when the show ended that I stood up and applauded.

MS: It wasn’t that bad! Just a nice slice of Americana. Well, that’s all folks! Say good night, Queen.

BQ: Good night, Bucky.

Click

Movie review from The Movie Snob

Click (B-). I saw this flick at the dollar theater and thought I got more than my money’s worth. Here Adam Sandler (Spanglish) plays yet another reasonably ordinary guy (like in Spanglish), married to a gorgeous wife (Kate Beckinsale, Love & Friendship), with two cute kids. But he’s under a huge amount of stress at work (he’s an architect), and it is starting affect his home life too. That’s when he comes into possession of a magical “universal remote control” that actually works on the world around him. Dog barking? Just hit mute. Stuck in traffic? Just hit fast-forward. Arguing with your wife, stuck at a boring family dinner, desperate for that promotion at work? Fast forward to the rescue. Be warned that the first half of the movie is really quite bad–lots of profanity and other vulgarity, and simply not funny. But about halfway through the movie morphs into a rather serious and thoughtful meditation about life, with a strong Cat’s in the Cradle message to it. And, I might add, Kate Beckinsale is really extremely attractive. I’m about to switch my allegiance from Nicole Kidman to Ms. Beckinsale. It’s true.

She’s the Man

DVD review from The Movie Snob

She’s the Man (C). I have often wondered why The Borg Queen and I hardly ever go to the movies together. Then she signed up for Netflix, and the reason became obvious when she told me the movies she had put at the head of the queue: Failure to Launch, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, and Aquamarine. Oh my, I thought. How I managed to drag her to Capote is quite a mystery. Anyway, I knew this little trifle was based on a Shakespearean play (Twelfth Night, according to the credits), so I willingly watched it with the Queen. I chuckled a few times, and she assured me that 13-year-old girls would love it. Viola (Amanda Bynes, Hairspray) is dismayed when her high school (or is it a college? I was never clear about that) cancels the girls’ soccer program. (Can they do that under Title IX?) So she disguises herself as her twin brother Sebastian and goes to his school, Illyria, where she hopes to make the boys’ soccer team and teach her old school a lesson. Romantic complications ensure when Viola falls for her roommate, Duke Orsino (a very young Channing Tatum, Hail, Caesar!), who is in love with Olivia, who is in love with “Sebastian” (who is really Viola). Predictable, but cute enough.

Heloise & Abelard (book review)

Book review by The Movie Snob

Heloise & Abelard: A New Biography, by James Burge (Harper San Francisco 2003). In the immortal words of 70’s rock band Nazareth, love hurts, and nobody knew it better than the star-crossed couple of Peter Abelard and Heloise. I was familiar with the only bare outline of their story, which has survived through the centuries thanks to their preserved love letters, and I enjoyed learning more of the details in this well-written book. Abelard was the leading philosopher, professor, and rhetorician in early 12th century France, which apparently made him quite a celebrity in medieval terms. He became the tutor to the intelligent and attractive Heloise when he was about 36 and she about 20. The two fell madly in love, and she became pregnant. Despite their efforts to save her family’s honor, her uncle and guardian Fulbert eventually took action. He sent his henchman to attack Abelard in the middle of the night, and . . . well, if you want to know the rest, you’ll have to buy this book, or come ask me, or look it up on Wikipedia, or something.

Friends with Money

DVD review from Comic Book Guy.

Friends with Money

Just released on DVD, you’d think this movie would have something going for it. You’d be wrong. With four solid female leads (Joan Cusack, Frances McDormand, Catherine Keener and the lovely Jennifer Aniston) I thought I’d at least see some decent acting, but first-time director Nicole Holofcener (who also wrote this lame excuse of a movie – that should have been a warning sign), managed to drive this straight into the ground. Here’s the plot: four women are friends. Three of them are married. They each have their own problems. They talk about their problems, sometimes to each other. Yeah, that’s it. No snappy dialogue; no outstanding performances (although McDormand is the strongest of the four); none of the things that can save an otherwise mediocre film (Violence, Nudity, or Special Effects).

Oh yeah – here’s the moral: everybody has their own problems. Mind blowing revelation, huh? Granted, I don’t care much for these “I’ve got a bad case of middle-age angst” movies, but not even Jennifer Anniston dressed in a French Maid’s Costume having sex could save this. I’m still trying to figure out how this was allowed to open the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Maybe they show the bad films first so everything else will seem really good in comparison. Or maybe Holofcener was this year’s darling. Remember what happened to those guys who made Blair Witch Project? Yeah, me neither.

I should have known better than waste my time on this since I didn’t even remember it coming out at the theatre – that’s another warning sign. My wife did cry (maybe because it was so bad) although don’t read too much into that. Commercials make her tear up. I told her if she keeps putting this kind of crap in the Netflix cue, I’m taking over.

Judgment? Don’t Bother. You’d be better off spending the 88 minutes working on your own problems.

The films of Marlene Dietrich

DVD reviews from The Movie Snob

To deepen my appreciation for cinema’s roots, I decided to check out the newly released 5-movie pack “The Glamour Collection,” starring film siren Marlene Dietrich. I was surprised that Dietrich was not nearly as icy and remote as Greta Garbo was in most of her movies. And although I think Garbo was prettier, Dietrich certainly had her charms—and was a better actress. Still, the movies themselves are duds, from beginning to end.

Morocco (D). Dietrich is Amy Jolly, a cabaret singer who comes to Morocco fleeing some tragic past. Gary Cooper (High Noon) is an American who has joined the French Foreign Legion, also apparently hiding from something in his past. Unfortunately, we never find out any more about either character. They meet, they fall in love, they are separated when Cooper’s unit goes on march into the Sahara. The story doesn’t make much sense, and there is little chemistry between the two protagonists. Cooper in particular has too much twinkle in his eye and too ready of a grin to come off as a world-weary expatriate. Skip this cut-rate Casablanca and watch the real thing instead.

Blonde Venus (D). Dietrich is a cabaret singer who has married an American (or is he British?) and come to the States where they are raising their little boy. Her husband is gravely ill, and to raise the money to send him to Europe for treatment she goes back to her cabaret act. She catches the eye of a local politician/millionaire (played by a very young Cary Grant, An Affair to Remember), and he quickly agrees to fund her husband’s trip to Europe. While he is gone, Dietrich’s and Grant’s characters fall in love, and when the husband comes back all heck breaks loose. Dietrich kidnaps the boy and goes on the lam. Bad movie, ridiculous ending.

The Devil Is a Woman (D-). The worst of the bunch. Dietrich is Concha Perez, a Spanish woman who has clawed her way up from a cigarette factory to wealth and quasi-respectability. For reasons that are never explained, she has it in for men, who cannot resist loving her no matter how badly she abuses them. When she catches the eye of handsome young revolutionary Antonio (Cesar Romero, Lost Continent), his older friend Don Pasqual tries to warn him by telling him Pasqual’s own sad story of love and repeated betrayal by Concha. Of course, the warning falls on deaf ears. Dumb.

The Flame of New Orleans (D+). Dietrich is an aristocratic lady living in the Big Easy back in the 1800s. She is lamentably short of funds and decides to marry a banker, whom she easily ensnares. At the same time, however, she is drawn to a rough, handsome sea captain. When her checkered past in Old Europe threatens to catch up with her and ruin her wedding plans, she has to invent a fictitious cousin to pin the rumors on. Silly, but not quite as painful as the previous movies.

Golden Earrings (D+). Dietrich dons a ton of make-up to play Lydia, a Gypsy living in pre-WWII Germany. Ray Milland (Dial M for Murder) plays a British spy who has escaped his Nazi captors and takes refuge among the Gypsies. Will he stay with the happy Gypsies and the beautiful Lydia? Or will he insist an carrying out his mission to reach a humanitarian German scientist and obtain the secret formula for a new poison gas that Hitler is bent on creating? And will you, the viewer, care either way? Probably not.