Millie (1931)

Helen Twelvetrees in a melodrama for the ages!

US / 85 minutes / bw / RKO Dir: John Francis Dillon Pr: Chas. R. Rogers Scr: Chas. Kenyon, Ralph Murphy (i.e., Ralph Morgan) Story: Millie (1930) by Donald Henderson Clarke Cine: Ernest Haller Cast: Helen Twelvetrees, Lilyan Tashman, Robert Ames, James Hall, John Halliday, Joan Blondell, Anita Louise, Edmund Breese, Frank McHugh, Charlotte Walker, Franklin Parker, Charles Delaney, Harry Stubbs, Louise Beavers, Harvey Clark, Aggie Herring, Geneva Mitchell, Hooper Atchley, Lillian Harmer.

Willows University student Jack Maitland (Hall) captures the heart of poor but lovely redhead Millicent “Millie” Blake (Twelvetrees) and persuades her to elope with him. Three years later they’re installed in a luxury New York apartment with Jack’s mother (Walker) and the couple’s infant daughter Connie (uncredited). In theory Millie should be content that she has all the good things in life, but in reality Jack is neglecting her—being frequently away “on business”—and she’s much of the time forced to relinquish her child to the cares of a governess (Harmer). So she’s delighted when one day, out of the blue, she gets a phone call from her childhood friend Angie Wickerstaff (Blondell).

Angie (Joan Blondell) and Helen (Lilyan Tashman) are cutting corners.

Angie has come to NYC to live with her pal Helen Reilly (Tashman), and suggests the three of them meet up at a local café; what she doesn’t mention on the phone is that Continue reading


Groundstar Conspiracy, The (1972)

Canada, US / 95 minutes / color / Universal, Hal Roach Productions Dir: Lamont Johnson Pr: Trevor Wallace Scr: Matthew Howard (i.e., Douglas Heyes) Story: The Alien (1968) by L.P. Davies Cine: Michael Reed Cast: George Peppard, Michael Sarrazin, Christine Belford, Cliff Potts, James Olson, Tim O’Connor, James McEachin, Alan Oppenheimer, Roger Dressler, Ty Haller, Anna Hagen.

Groundstar - 0 opener

There’s a surprising number of good science-fiction neonoirs around—you only have to think as far as BLADE RUNNER (1982), STRANGE DAYS (1995) and The TERMINATOR (1984), and you might at a stretch even put The USUAL SUSPECTS (1995) in there because of its fantastication—but there are some that have a great sf plot, one that could have been used as the basis for a tremendous Philip K. Dick-style paranoia-fueled sf-neonoir classic … but Continue reading

Insanitarium (2008)

US / 89 minutes / color / Stage 6, Larande, Benderspink Dir & Scr: Jeff Bühler Pr: Chris Bender, J.C. Spink, Andrew Golov, Larry Schapiro Cine: Rob Hauer Cast: Jesse Metcalfe, Kiele Sanchez, Kevin Sussman, Evan Parke, Olivia Munn, Kurt Caceres, Carla Gallo, Armin Shimerman, Molly Bryant, Lisa Arturo, Peter Stormare.

The first half of this movie riffs on the occasional noir theme—examples include BEHIND LOCKED DOORS (1948) and SHOCK CORRIDOR (1963)—of a sane person mimicking insanity in order to get inside a mental hospital. In this case the man is Jack (Metcalfe), intent on rescuing his suicidal sister Lily (Sanchez) from the clutches of the mental-health professionals. As one might expect, the staff of the institution, headed by Dr. Paul Gianetti (Stormare), are if anything even battier than the patients; only the corrupt and brutal orderly Charles (Parke) and two of the nurses, Nancy Chen (Munn) and Vera Downing (Gallo), seem sane, although the latter assists the completely crazy Gianetti in the human tests of his great invention, a nanotechnological “drug” called Orpheum.

Unfortunately, Orpheum has the side-effect of turning people into cannibalistic psychopaths, so the latter part of the movie throws away the potentially interesting start to degenerate into a mass of standard-issue zombie gore cliché—all a bit of a shambles, you might say.

On Insanitarium