April 30, 2014

Don't Bother To Knock (1952)

The closest Marilyn Monroe ever came to appearing in film noir is the first movie in which her name appears above the title, the 1952 black and white thriller Don't Bother To Knock with noir favorite Richard Widmark and singer Anne Bancroft. Although not the brightest script, Monroe proves her acting chops as the baby sitter in hotel room 809; she is poignant, detached and bat-shit crazy. I've read that this movie is closest to the real Monroe (not the blonde bimbo) but there is no playacting here; Monroe is mesmerizing.

April 28, 2014

Life With Judy Garland: Me & My Shadows (2001)

Kudos to writer/producer Lorna Luft, actresses Tammy Blanchard and Judy Davis and director Robert Allan Ackerman for creating a poignant portrait of Frances Gumm and her doppelgänger in Life With Judy Garland: Me & My Shadows. The 45 years go by in three hours as you're immersed in the glamour, angst and humanity of the iconic entertainer. Be sure to listen to the informative DVD commentary in concert with the film; Luft and Ackerman (among others) offer information about Garland and how her real life was dramatized for television.

April 18, 2014

Dial M For Murder (1954)

To call Dial M For Murder a crackingly, taut, suspense thriller still understates the feeling that you are on the edge of your seat throughout. Alfred Hitchcock has taken the uber successful 1948 Broadway thriller and filmed it with his eye for irony and angles. Grace Kelly gives one of her best performances as do her gentlemen callers Ray Milland, Robert Cummings, John Lawson and John Williams - the latter actor having worked with Hitchcock more than any other.

April 16, 2014

Vera (2011)

I binged on season 1 of the British crime drama Vera. Brenda Blethyn wows as Vera (the 'surly' detective); she's surrounded by a great cast (David Leon, Wunmi Mosaku), and the intricate mysteries kept me guessing 'whodunnit' until the end. If you like puzzlers, seasons 1 and 2 are streaming on Amazon Prime (four episodes each).