||December 1, 2006
Sub-titled, "Best Movies of Mystery, Suspense and Film Noir", this book examines 192 examples of the genre. Complete credits and release information are provided for each film. 33 black-and-white illustrations are included, plus full color front and back covers.
Barnes & Noble.com
Essential Movie Books
From "Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff" through to "Woman on the Run", this book takes a look at one of Hollywood's favorite genres, covering not only famous movies like "The Kennel Murder Case", "The Maltese Falcon", "The Thin Man", "Notorious" and "Murder, My Sweet", but the series films like "Charlie Chan at the Opera", "The Falcon in Hollywood" and "Sherlock Holmes and the Scarlet Claw".
Many of these films are now widely distributed on DVD. Life is full of surprises. When I wrote this book, I had little hope that a masterpiece like "Daughter of Shanghai" would surface on DVD. But it is now available. So are all the Thin Man movies; engrossing film noir entries like "The Dark Corner", "Hangover Square", "Beware, My Lovely", "Johnny Apollo" and "The Second Woman"; famous foreign films like "The Wages of Fear"; and even extraordinary thrillers like "Confession" and "The Clouded Yellow".
Here is a book that will not only awaken wonderful memories, but provide an informative and reliable guide for further viewing.
Here is a considerably shortened extract of the entry for "His Kind of Woman":
Robert Mitchum (Dan Milner), Jane Russell (Lenore Brent), Vincent Price (Mark Cardigan), Tim Holt (Bill Lusk), Charles McGraw (Thompson), Marjorie Reynolds (Helen Cardigan), Raymond Burr (Nick Ferraro), Leslye Banning (Jennie Stone), Jim Backus (Myron Winton), Philip Van Zandt (José Morro), John Mylong (Martin Krafft), Carleton G. Young (Hobson), Erno Verebes (Estaban), Dan White (Tex Kearns), Richard Berggren (Milton Stone), Stacy Harris (Harry), Robert Cornthwaite (Hernandez), Jim Burke (barkeep), Paul Frees (Corle), Joe Granby (Arnold), Daniel De Laurentis (Mexican boy), John Sheehan (husband), Sally Yarnell (wife), Anthony Caruso (Tony), Robert Rose (Corle’s servant), Tol Avery (the fat one), Paul Fierro, Mickey Simpson (hoodlums), Ed Rand, Jerry James (cops), Joe Fluellen (Sam), Len Hendry (customer), Joey Ray, Barry Brooks (card players), Stuart Holmes, Jim Davies (guests), Marie San Young (Chinese waitress), Mary Brewer, Jerri Jordan, Joy Windsor, Mamie Van Doren, Barbara Freking (girls), Marietta Elliott (redhead), William Justine (Gyppo), Bill Nelson (Captain Salazar), Bud Wolf (seaman), Ralph Gomez (Mexican foreman), Mike Lally (henchman), Saul Gorss (viscount), Gerry Ganzer (countess), Gwen Caldwell, Don House, Oliver Cross, Joan Olander (guests), Dan Borzage (bartender), Dorothy Abbot (card player), Peter Brocco (“Short and Thin”), Henry Guttman (man), Howard Batt (plane pilot), Whit Bissell (pilot).
Director: JOHN FARROW. Screenplay: Frank Fenton and Jack Leonard; from the unpublished story “Star Sapphire” by Gerald Drayson Adams. Director of photography: Harry J. Wild. Sound: John Tribby, Clem Portman. RCA Sound System. Music score: Leigh Harline. Music director: Constantin Bakaleinikoff. Songs: “Five Little Miles from San Berdoo” (Russell) by Ben S. Coslow; “You’ll Know” (Russell) by Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson; “Kill and Run” (Russell) by Ben S. Coslow. Production designer: J. McMillan Johnson. Art director: Albert S. D’Agostino. Set decoration: Darrell Silvera, Ross Dowd. Costumes: Howard Greer. Make-up: Mel Berns. Hair styles: Larry Germaine. Assistant director: Sam Ruman. Film editors: Eda Warren, Frederic Knudtson. Producer: Robert Sparks. A Howard Hughes Presentation.
Copyright 19 August 1951 by RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. New York opening at the Paramount: 29 August 1951. U.S. release: August 1951. U.K. release: 17 September 1951. Australian release: 17 January 1952. 120 minutes. Censored to less than 118 minutes in Australia.
SYNOPSIS: Nick Ferraro, a deported syndicate boss in exile in Naples, wants desperately to return to the United States to oversee his troubled criminal holdings. He radios three of his men at a Mexican resort to put into effect a plan calling for him to assume the identity of a U.S. citizen. One of the men goes to Los Angeles, where he sets up Dan Milner for a beating from three of a bookmaker’s strong-arm men. Milner, a gambler just released from a short term in a county jail, is then made an offer: $50,000 to leave the United States for a year. Having no other prospects, Milner agrees to go to Mexico and await further instructions. In a Mexican cantina near his initial rendezvous point, Milner meets Lenore Brent, a singer posing as an heiress and traveling south to pursue an affair with film star Mark Cardigan. Milner is told to fly to Morro’s Lodge, an exclusive resort in Baja California, which is also Lenore’s destination. Lenore is attracted to Milner but has already spent almost all her savings trying to get Cardigan to marry her. Once they arrive at Morro’s she finds that Cardigan is more interested in going hunting with Milner than spending time with her.
NOTES: Farrow finished shooting on 23 May 1950. However, the film was not released for over a year later. During this period, writer/producer Jerry Wald in conjunction with writer/director Norman Krasna, shot additional scenes, re-shot some footage and supervised the re-editing of the movie under direct instructions from executive producer and sole owner of RKO Radio Pictures, Howard Hughes.
VIEWER’S GUIDE: Adults.
COMMENT: His Kind of Woman is a distinctly odd and muddled film. It starts off quite dramatically in true Farrow fashion with a striking shot, in this instance a long shot in which Raymond Burr advances quite sinisterly into the camera. This sinister mood is maintained deftly through Mitchum’s opening scenes and the arrival at Morro’s Lodge where Farrow gets quite a menacing portrayal out of Phil Van Zandt by shooting enormous close-ups of his face. Mitchum looks old (not inappropriately so far as the script is concerned) and Miss Russell is not all that attractively photographed either, though she wears a stunning assortment of costumes.
The sinister mood at Morro’s Lodge is gradually dispelled, particularly by the romantic scenes and the introduction of other characters. Our hero becomes involved in the financial problems of a pair of newly-weds when hubby is taken to the cleaners by four-flushing card sharpie, Jim Backus, — who drops out of sight as soon as the mood of the film changes back to menacing when drunken playboy, Tim Holt (a small role but one of his most dazzling portrayals), is murdered.
Farrow makes atmospheric use of the Lodge’s peculiar architecture with its sliding panels and venetian blinds. There are no really long takes, but some effective ones of middling length particularly the opening tracking shot at Morro’s Lodge in which the camera picks up and follows successively no less than three people before settling on Mitchum and following him to a table where he is joined by Van Zandt. And then follows the effective use of close-ups in the ensuing dialogue scene as mentioned earlier.
We are in for a violent climax when suddenly the film splits into two — the violent confrontation between Mitchum and Burr, with Mitchum being pursued in a real ship (something on which Farrow was an expert, having commanded one in the war), the terrifying business with the needle and the close-up of Burr’s ravaged eyes and the muzzle of a pistol — but all this is intercut with scenes of high comedy when Vincent Price unexpectedly decides to do a broad skit on John Barrymore and leads a riotous expedition (with Fritz Feld as his deputy) to rescue Mitchum. Although some of these scenes are very funny (especially the boat sinking) others are as strained as Price’s over-performance. Worse, they tend to dispel the mood and atmosphere of the sequences with which they are intercut, even to giving a lie to the credibility of the film as a whole. It was a noble experiment but it doesn’t work, partly because it is so unexpected and we were not prepared for Price suddenly acting in this fashion beforehand.
Production values are first-class.
Reviewed by Peter Dean in The Courier-Mail
Every movie entry is totally informative and illuminating. The emphasis given to details of special interest to mystery addicts, makes "Great Cinema Detectives" invaluable. In fact, for fans of the genre, this work is the ultimate in film reference books.
Reviewed by Richard Deutch in The Sunday Telegraph
This series of movie books by John Howard Reid, provide such a wealth of fascinating information, they will become a standard reference work on Film.
Ross Adams in Dress Circle
A diverse range of characters and movies appear within the pages of "Great Cinema Detectives: Best Movies of Mystery, Suspense and Film Noir" by John Howard Reid: Abbott and Costello, Charlie Chan, Margaret Rutherford, Humphrey Bogart, Alec Guinness, Christopher Plummer, Bette Davis, Cary Grant, Tom Conway, Edward G. Robinson, Richard Basehart, George Sanders, Robert Mitchum, plus many, many more. So what have all these great movie identities got in common? Simply, they all starred in detective and mystery films.
Margaret Rutherford of course was outstanding as Miss Marple in a number of "murder" pictures based on the characters created by Agatha Christie. All of them are reviewed in this book.
As for Abbott and Costello, they starred in "Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff", while heavies like Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum were featured in films like "The Harder They Fall", "The Maltese Falcon" and "His Kind of Woman".
Ronald Reagan's name appears frequently, and of course no book about mystery movies would be complete without Vincent Price and Basil Rathbone. Among the other screen greats who are represented by appropriate films are Dennis Price, Jack Hawkins, William Powell, Myrna Loy, James Stewart, Vivien Leigh, Irene Dunne, Walter Huston, Peter Ustinov, Lauren Bacall, Dana Andrews, Merle Oberon, Robert Ryan, Ida Lupino, Errol Flynn, Raymond Massey, Alan Ladd, Cary Grant, Norman Wisdom, and of course Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet, both synonymous with suspense pictures. And dozens of other great actors.
Many of the titles take us back to a different era. Who can remember Anna Karenina, Bulldog Drummond, Berlin Express, Calcutta, Charlie Chan, City That Never Sleeps, Farewell My Lovely, Harder They Fall. His Kind of Woman, House of Wax, Jane Eyre, Johnny Apollo, Kind Hearts and Coronets, Flying Scot, Night Train to Munich, The Thin Man, Town on Trial and Wages of Fear (that spellbinding edge-of-the-seat thriller)?
In all, this book contains 192 reviews. John Howard Reid takes you through this myriad of films in his usual thorough style, listing the complete crew and all the actors and the parts they played in the movie, plus production and release dates in the U.S.A., Great Britain and Australia. He then gives a short synopsis and his own comments. For most films, he also provides an alternative review from other critics.
As with his other books, reproductions of posters and lobby cards in fully glossy color appear on the front and back covers, while black-and-white reproductions are gathered together at the front and back pages of the book. "Great Cinema Detectives" features a particularly attractive cover that highlights a lobby card from The Maltese Falcon on the front and an eye-popping poster of Calcutta on the back.
I can thoroughly recommend "Great Cinema Detectives" to all fans of detective and mystery movies. I regard it as one of John Howard Reid’s most informative and interesting It is an invaluable guide not only to film buffs, but to all collectors of movie entertainments, whether they be film fans or DVD collectors. True, you may not necessarily agree with some of the comments presented in this book, but that is the beauty of publications such as this. They give readers and viewers something to think about. The comments may even make you change your views about a particular film. And readers may also be tempted to buy a DVD of a particular movie after reading JHR's expertly presented information.
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