Private Buckaroo ~ 1942 -BW

QUICKIE: Pro-war musical featuring the Andrew Sisters and the Harry James Orchestra.

PLOT: This WW II musical comedy tells the story of a young inductee who has trouble fitting into the military lifestyle. The inductee changes his ways after meeting a retired officer's lovely daughter. Harry James is also drafted and his band decides to enlist to stay with their leader. James and his group decide to entertain the troops by putting on a show. Along for the ride in this film are The Andrews Sisters, Shemp Howard, Joe E. Lewis, Huntz Hall and a young Donald O'Connor.

SUMMARY: What a fun musical movie. But don't look too hard for a deep plot. There's enough of a story to keep the movie going, but this is more of a film showcasing musical and dance talent. The Andrew Sisters do such hits as: Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree, Six Jerks in a Jeep, and Three Little Sisters. The Harry James Orchestra does You Made Me Love You. The ending is VERY pro-war and some parts of this movie border on offensive to me. But, it was a different time and getting "the enemy" was more civilized, if you'll allow me the use of that term there, than today's wars have become. Things were definitely different then. The musical numbers are fun and the story with Bonnie-Belle (Mary Wickes) and Sgt. 'Muggsy' Shavel (Shemp Howard) is very entertaining. The high energy swing dancing from a bunch of teenagers in the finale just blew my mind. Those kids could dance!

Family Collection: Disc 40 - Side A

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Rogues' Gallery ~ 1944 -BW

QUICKIE: Murder shouldn't be funny, but this one is a laugh a minute.

PLOT: Reporter Patsy Reynolds (Robin Raymond) and photographer Eddie Porter (Frank Jenks)are assigned to interview John Foster (Davison Clark), head of the Emmerson Foundadtion regarding a listening device the organization is working on. Foster evades them and they to the lab to see Professor Reynolds (H. B. Warner), the real inventor. Soon, they are involved in several shootings, blueprints that change hands several times, a corpse in their car that appears and disappears a few times, the loss of their jobs and several people who either think they are killers or candidates for being killed.

SUMMARY: Oh gee, this one really made me laugh out loud alot. It's your typical murder movie and the corpse keeps vanishing so the police doubt there even was a murder. Patsy seems to be the only one with a clue in this whole movie and I love that. Strong female characters in older films are a rarity. Her and her crazy photographer side kick solve the murder, despite being the prime suspects. Jimmy Foster (Ray Walker) is a rival reporter who has a knack for turning up just when Patsy is getting a scoop.

I figured out right away who did it, so if you're looking for a great "who dun it", then this isn't it. It's more of a comedy than a mystery. If you approach it from that angle it'll be more enjoyable.

Mystery Collection: Disc 48 - Side - A
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The Black Raven ~ 1943 -BW

QUICKIE: Murder, money, mobsters, marriage, and the worst storm imaginable.

PLOT: A remote country inn, "The Black Raven", is the setting for this mystery starring screen legend George Zucco. Zucco is Amos Bradford, the proprietor of the inn that has a series of mysterious guests arrive during a raging storm. Many of the guests unknowingly have connections to each other and things become very interesting when a murder and $50,000 in embezzled money enter the picture.

SUMMARY: First of all, it's not just a dark and stormy night, it's a frickin' hurricane out there! Hollywood was a bit over zealous with the rain and wind machines again. But it provides laughs as we pity poor Andy (Glenn Strange) the servant who continually gets soaked having to park the cars or get the bags. One of the great things about these older films is this over the topness that by today's standards is so unrealistic that it provides us a laugh.

So, at "The Black Raven" Inn various guests show up who are trying to make it over the border to Canada. The roads are all washed out, so spending the night to wait out the storm is the only option. The movie opens with an escaped convict come to kill Amos Bradford (George Zucco) the keeper of the Inn. He gets knocked down and tied up in a back room, and then the guests start arriving. First is Mike Bardoni (Noel Madison), a mob-boss on the run, trying to make it to Canada until things cool off. Next comes the nerdy banker Horace Weatherby (Byron Foulger) who embezzled $50,000 from his firm and is trying to make it to Canada undiscovered. Before he can get a room, Robert Randall (Robert Livingston) and Lee Winfield (Wanda McKay) show up. The couple is eloping to Canada to escape Lee's mob boss father Tim Winfield (Robert Middlemass) who also shows up not soon after the couple.

With all the players in place, it's not long until lives and stories intertwine. Tim Winfield becomes the most hated man at the party. World renowned meanie, he forbids his daughter to marry and roughs up the fiance Robert a bit, who in turn, threatens to kill him. Tim then discovers the identity of the banker on the run and takes his money from him. Mike Bardoni the mobster was trying to get away from Tim himself, and before we know it, Tim the mean mobster is dead. But who killed him? And what happened to that convict tied up in the back room? Add in the bumbling Sheriff (Charles Middleton) and we've got the makings of a classic murder mystery. They don't come much better than this. Ok, maybe they do, but this one is fun and there's some good laughs and you'll be surprised at who did what. YAY for George Zucco, I love him. The scene where he's making googley eyes at his servant is the best moment. Here's a couple zingers for you:

George Zucco: "Too bad you weren't born without a tongue instead of without a brain."

"With your imagination, you could see the Statue of Liberty do the conga!"

I've seen this listed as a remake of "The Rougues Tavern", but having seen both films, I find them very dissimilar. In fact I would not have know this was a remake without having read it on IMDB. It's a quick 65 minute film, and MillCreeks version was sub-par as usual, with frequent complete black screens instead of a movie. Die hard fans might want a restored, unedited version. I heard Roan carries a good version of it.

Mystery Collection: Disc 48 - side A

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The Bowery at Midnight ~ 1942 -BW

QUICKIE: Bela is a sweet, kind hearted professor who helps the homeless.... psych! He's the same old villain that we love so much.

PLOT: A kindly university professor (Bela Lugosi) operates a soup kitchen with his daughter Judy (Wanda McKay) down in the Bowery, helping those less fortunate than most. This persona is a cover for the professor's true activities, heading a criminal operation out of the basement of the soup kitchen with his gang (Tom Neal, Vince Barnett, Dave O'Brien) who commit a series of daring robberies. When things get out of hand, Lugosi kills his henchmen, who wind up as zombies in the cellar of the soup kitchen. When one of the professor's students (John Archer) accidentally uncovers the truth, he is targeted for death to protect the Professor's secrets.

SUMMARY: Well, I'll give him this, the Professor has the perfect set up going. A college professor by day, he also runs a soup kitchen where a steady stream of criminals come through his mission door and he "hires them" on the spot. The gang does "a job" together and the recent recruit is killed off during the crime. Well, that's the smartest way to keep your nefarious dealings a secret and take a bigger cut at the same time. There's no one left to squeal on you. Of course the police are stumped about who is committing all these crimes. That is until one of the Professor's high society students goes under cover as a homeless person so he can gain some insight into "how the other half lives" as research for his term paper. Of course he too must be killed because he uncovers the Professor's secret identity.

The Professor has an assistant who manages to bring the dead back to life and he keeps the resurrected gang members in a hidden room in the cellar. This part of the movie is never fleshed out and it left me more confused than adding anything to the film. The movie ends with Richard (the student made zombie, yet who is now perfectly normal) making wedding plans with Judy. Yes I KNOW, every film made before 1960 ends with people getting married, but how has Richard become un-zombified? How did he become a zombie to begin with? It's like they took a plot from another zombie making movie and tried to stick it in here. Best not to think too hard about the plot in these films.

Also keep an eye out for the stereotypical "evil black cat" who likes to hang out with the dead . He adds a particularly scary element with his 6 month old baby meows. awwwww. Then Bela retorts: "How often have I told you to keep that cat from desecrating my graves!"

Horror Collection: Disc 36- side A

Three Husbands ~ 1951 -BW

QUICKIE: Your dead friend left you a letter confessing he did your wife.... psych!

PLOT: When a recently deceased playboy gets to heaven and is granted one wish--granted to all newcomers--he requests that he be able to see the reactions of three husbands, with whom he regularly played poker, to a letter he left each of them claiming to have had an affair with each's wife.

SUMMARY: An interesting peek into three relationships and how they all centered around Max the bachelor. The film shows how each couple responds to the letter and in flashback reveals the moment/s when the alleged affairs could have happened. I was a bit disappointed in the end that all three wives took their husbands back, but considering it was the 50's, of course it's going to end that way. A nice, harmless film that doesn't really say much, other than "don't neglect your wife", but is still a nice film to watch. Some "high society" moments, and some fun party scenes. Eve Arden & Billie Burke are a couple of my more favorited actresses, and they deliver character as always.

Family Collection: Disc 35 - side A

A Bride For Henry ~ 1937 -BW

QUICKIE: Rich spoiled brat marries her lawyer who ends up setting her straight.

PLOT: On the day of her wedding Sheila's (Anne Nagel) fiancé Eric Reynolds (Henry Mollison) doesn't show up, sleeping off the results of the previous night's wild bachelor party. Miffed, the woman decides to go ahead with the wedding anyway to teach her fiancé a lesson. Sheila calls her lawyer, Henry Tuttle (Warren Hull), and has him stand in for her missing groom. Although Sheila intends to divorce her new "husband" at the first opportunity, Henry --who has been in love with her for a long time-- is determined to win his "wife's" hand. Helen Van Orden (Claudia Dell) plays an old acquaintance of Henry's that helps open Sheila's eyes to Henry.

SUMMARY: Sheila is everything contemptuous about high society. She's spoiled to the core. So much so that she marries her lawyer to "teach her fiance a lesson". So much for the sanctity of marriage. Most of this film portrays Sheila and her fiance, who shows up for the honeymoon part anyway, they bumble through various adventures and eventually end up in jail. All the while, Henry Tuttle, the groom, is the very image of class and style. Displaying all his myriad talents of diving, tennis, horseback riding, why he's the very image of good breeding in high society. Eventually Sheila's affections sway from Eric to Henry. In the meantime we get to see high society in all it's glory with fabulous gowns and handsome tuxedos, in a lush resort setting. (Except for the jail scene.) A nice, neutral movie. No killing, no violence, no car chases, no curses. Just high society doing it's thing. Very nice.

Family Collection: Disc 35, side B

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The Villian Still Pursued Her ~ 1940 -BW

QUICKIE: A villain, a maiden, the hero ... and then ... gasp! ... alcohol!

PLOT: The widow Wilson (Margaret Hamilton) and her daughter Mary (Anita Louise) have just learned that old Mr. Middleton, who held the mortgage on their home, has passed away. They are now visited by Middleton's lawyer, Cribbs (Alan Mowbray), who informs them that Middleton's son and heir Edward (Richard Cromwell) plans to foreclose and take possession of their home. When Mary goes to plead with Edward, she soon discovers that it is really the unscrupulous Cribbs who wants to drive them out of their home. When Mary and Edward become engaged to be married, it looks as if all is well. But the calculating Cribbs has a new plan, which begins with luring young Edward into a lifestyle of drinking and dissipation. Buster Keaton plays William Dalton, the friend to Edward who turns him around in the end.

Villain: "You must pay the rent!"
Maiden: "I can't pay the rent!"
Hero: "I'll pay the rent!"
Maiden: "My hero!"
Villain: "Curses! Foiled again."

The rest of the story:

Maiden & Hero marry.
Maiden: "Lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine."
Villain: "Here, Mr. Hero, have a drink."
Hero drinks for 20 years straight.
Maiden: "Oh, my poor husband."

Watch this movie and laugh. Hiss at the villain, clap for the hero. Make some popcorn to throw at the screen. It's a silly melodramatic romp of ridiculous over-acting and predictable plots. Twice they stop the movie to post notes to the theater customers.
Shakespeare is vomiting. We're laughing at the camp. Great fun for all... except Bill. wink.