Saturday, November 25, 2023

November Quick Picks and Pans


Murder, My Sweet Poster

Murder, My Sweet (1944) Dick Powell plays Raymond Chandler’s enduring private detective, Philip Marlowe, in a plot that involves an ex-con (Mike Mazurki), his missing girlfriend, and some stolen jade. Marlowe becomes unwittingly embroiled in a triangle between a rich elderly magnate (Miles Mander), his trophy wife Helen (Claire Trevor) and his daughter Ann (Anne Shirley). Director Edward Dmytryk maintains a breakneck pace throughout, with smart dialogue and gobs of intrigue, cut with a healthy dash of humor. Being taken for a ride has seldom seemed so enjoyable. 

Rating: ****. Available on Blu-ray and DVD

Too Late for Tears Poster

Too Late for Tears (1949) An unhappy married couple, Jane and Alan (played by Lizabeth Scott and Arthur Kennedy), bickering on a lonely highway find their lives turned around when a valise filled with $60,000 in cash ends up in their laps. After successfully evading the intended recipient, they debate about what to do with their new windfall – report it to the police or keep it. It soon becomes apparent that Jane has other plans for the money, until the owner of the money (Dan Duryea) tracks her down. Lizabeth Scott is at her icy best, as a woman who will stop at nothing to keep herself wrapped in luxury. 

Rating: ****. Available on Blu-ray, DVD, Prime Video and Kanopy



The Strange Woman Poster

The Strange Woman (1946) This not-quite-noir by director Edgar Ulmer is set in early 1800s Bangor, Maine, when it teetered on the precipice of becoming a boomtown. The ever-radiant Hedy Lamarr stars as Jenny Hager, an enigmatic young woman haunted by her father’s poor reputation. She sets out to make a name for herself, manipulating men and women alike with her wiles, eventually assuming control of her deceased husband’s business empire. While she climbs the rungs of the social ladder, she remains a contradiction, ruthless, but with a strong philanthropic streak. Much like its main character, the film sends a mixed message, with its morally conflicted main character, demonized by judgmental and self-righteous townspeople. 

Rating: ***. Available on DVD and Prime Video


The Crimson Cult Poster

The Crimson Cult (aka: Curse of the Crimson Altar) (1968) Despite a stellar cast (featuring Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, Barbara Steele and Michael Gough), this meandering supernatural thriller never quite gets unstuck from neutral. Robert Manning (Mark Eden), an antiques dealer, investigates the whereabouts of his missing brother, which leads him to the Morely estate, presided over by the family patriarch (Christopher Lee). While staying at the mansion, he falls for Morley’s niece, Eve (Virginia Wetherell), who shares a direct lineage to her infamous ancestor Lavinia (Barbara Steele). Boris Karloff co-stars (and spends the movie looking physically uncomfortable) as Morley’s neighbor, Professor John Marsh. This Tigon production, directed by Vernon Sewell, displays a few moments of almost Hammer-level gothic atmosphere, but suffers from poor pacing, a weak story, and a painfully bland lead. 

Rating: **½. Available on Blu-ray (Out of print) and Tubi 


Terminus Poster

Terminus (1987) This French-German co-production, directed by Pierre-William Glenn, plays like a pastiche of other postapocalyptic movies, while struggling to say something new. Karen Allen appears as Gus, the driver of a computerized truck who participates in a dangerous game, traveling through a perilous route full of hostile inhabitants. Jürgen Prochnow co-stars in a triple role as a totalitarian leader with an orange wig (“Sir”), a mad scientist (“Doctor”), and a rival truck driver. The truck and its artificial intelligence brain was invented by lab-created child prodigy Mati (Gabriel Damon), who has an ulterior motive for his game. Allen, who’s featured prominently in the credits, has relatively little screen time, and Prochnow looks like he’d rather be in something else. It’s a disappointing mishmash of half-baked ideas with little focus.   

Rating: **. Available on DVD, Prime Video and Tubi



  1. Intriguing collection of noir, Barry!
    I haven't seen any of them, but I'm very curious about too late for tears and the strange woman! I will definitely have to check them out on prime.

    Too bad about the crimson cult! I mean, what a cast!

    1. Thanks, John! I especially enjoyed Too Late for Tears. Let me know what you think!

      And The Crimson Cult might be worth a look, if only for the cast. Just don't expect too much! ;)