Sunday, October 17, 2021

HORROR ISLAND (1941)

A mysterious caped figure is skulking along the waterfront one night; at the same time, a one-legged seaman named Tobias is walking the same ground looking for Bill Martin, a Princeton grad who is down on his luck after failing in business. Bill's only asset now is Morgan's Island, a former pirate hideout he owns. Tobias has an old map showing where treasure is hidden on the island, but before he finds Bill, he is attacked by the caped stranger (who winds up being called the Phantom) who yanks off Tobias's wooden leg and steals the map out of it. Bill and his faithful sidekick Stuff rescue Tobias who tells his story to Bill and reveals that the Phantom only got away with half of the map--Tobias still has the other half. Next, Bill's wealthy cousin George shows up wanting to buy the island. When Bill escapes someone he assumes is a bill collector, he gets the bright idea of turning the island and its small castle into a tourist attraction and sell day-long "treasure trips." Along with Bill, Tobias, Stuff and George on the maiden voyage: Jasper, a map expert who thinks the map is a forgery; McGoon, a representative from a businessman's association worried that Bill's business is a scam; a young socialite named Wendy who accepts the trip as payment for what Bill owes her for a fender bender and her friend Thurman Coldwater, not quite a boyfriend and not quite a chauffeur and who has so little energy that he can barely sustain a conversation without falling asleep; Rod and Arleen, a vaguely mysterious couple. As the group leaves, a package arrives for Bill; it gets accidentally tossed in the water and explodes, leaving Bill and Stuff worried that someone is out to stop their trip. On the island, Stuff has already set up some fake spooky events, but we see that the Phantom is hiding in the castle. Strange things happen: an arrow which almost hits Tobias is fired by an empty suit of armor; a voice rings through the castle warning the guests to leave; Jasper sleepwalks; and eventually, Rod is killed when he tries to leave the island alone, and it's revealed that he was actually gangster Killer Grady. The stage is set for a long scary night for our characters.

Despite its title, this is not really a horror movie--it's a very traditional "old dark house" thriller with shadows, grasping hands, secret passages, people who are not what they seem, and some comic relief. Actually, the tone of the movie throughout is light, and that's what bothered me about it when I first saw it years ago. This time around, I enjoyed it more, though I still resent the title. An online critic noted that this is really three kinds of movie in one: it begins as if it will be an adventure movie (the search for treasure), becomes a mystery (who is the Phantom?), and strays into a horror mood in the last 10 minutes (out of a very fast-paced 60 minutes). It's a B-movie which played as a second feature to Lon Chaney Jr's MAN MADE MONSTER (also an hour long B-picture but Chaney's film always got top billing). The cast is fine, but missing are any of the Universal stalwarts (Chaney, Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, etc.). Dick Foran, better known as a singing cowboy, is nicely relaxed as the confident hero Bill; Peggy Moran is his equal as Wendy. I'm not always a fan of comic relief characters, but I quite liked Fuzzy Knight as Stuff--he stutters on occasion, but he's not portrayed as dumb. Also fine are Leo Carrillo as Tobias and Walter Catlett as the sometimes bumbling McGoon. The character of Thurman Coldwater (Lewis Thomas) is quite strange: though we get evidence that he is a golddigger, he seems to be completely uninterested in his target, Wendy, and his lack of romance and his passivity made me read him as gay (a 40's vesion of a sissy, though he's not exactly effeminate). Decent B-movie viewing for a spooky October evening.

A note on the Blu-Ray: I watched this as part of a Universal/Shout Factory boxed set and the print was in great shape. However, the commentary was terrible. Usually, I like commentaries on older movies since they are typically done by critics or historians who do their research and plan out their comments very well. But Ted Newsom delivers one of the worst commentaries I've sat through. Besides having a personal interest in the movie, he only seems to know as much about Horror Island as anyone with 10 minutes of access to the internet. He frequently gets bogged down in information not related at all to the movie. For example, instead of telling us much about Fuzzy Knight, he spends way too much time on a dumb story about Fuzzy Knight getting mixed up with an actor named Fuzzy St. John. He loses his way, forgetting what he was talking about. He spends a couple minutes pointing out a goof (the visibility of a crew member) that ends up not showing up on screen--the shot was zoomed in on this print to remove the crew member. My advice is, even if you're the kind who loves commentaries, skip this one. Pictured from left: Knight, Carrillo, Moran and Foran. [Blu-ray]

Friday, October 15, 2021

LAND OF THE MINOTAUR (1976)

In a small Greek village, an attractive trio of young people (handsome Ian, blond Beth and hunky bearded Tom) arrive to study some ruins of an ancient temple located on the property of Baron Corofax (Peter Cushing, pictured), the local bigwig who can be both welcoming and stand-offish. The three spend the night with Father Roche (Donald Pleasance, with an on-again, off-again Irish accent) who knows Ian and Beth, and he warns them that other people who have come to study the ruins have vanished. Unconcerned, the three sneak off in the middle of the night to stay by the site. Early the next morning, Ian and Tom find a secret entrance to an elaborate cave which looks to have been the center of ritualistic activity. They are greeted by a giant stone statue of the Minotaur (a half-man, half-bull monster from Greek mythology) which spits flame and makes pronouncements, and are held by hooded figures to be used as sacrifices to the Minotaur. When Beth goes looking for them later, the same thing happens to her. A concerned Father Roche tries to get the local police involved but the chief doesn't care, even when Tom's girlfriend Laurie shows up worried about him, so Roche calls in a New York City detective of his acquaintance to investigate. As we already know from the film's opening scene, the Baron is the head of a satanic cult which worships the Minotaur--the statue is apparently possessed by a demon--and the entire village is in on it. What chance do a priest, a cop, and a young woman have fighting such evil?

As a relic of the 70s craze for demon movies, this is par for the course for a European B-film. Both Pleasance and Cushing seem a little low-key--one online reviewer wonders if they just signed on to get a Greek holiday--but they suffice. Costas Skouras is similarly average as the cop. The best you can say for the young people is that they're attractive, especially Nikos Verlekis as Tom. (In what is a first in my experience, the movie's credit roll--and therefore IMDb's credits as well--misidentifies two actors, claiming that Verlekis is Ian and that Bob Behling is Tom, when a check of actor credits and Google images shows clearly that dark, Grecian Verlekis is Tom and blondish American Behling is Ian).Scarier than the stone Minotaur is the young girl with the empty stare (early teens, I'd say) who serves as the executioner at the rituals. The Greek setting is nice and the final battle with Pleasance's crucifix versus Cushing's red robe is pulled off well. Little known but not bad. It includes a so-so electronic score by Brian Eno (!).This is a PG-rated cut of the movie known in Europe as THE DEVIL'S MEN; it's said to be missing about ten minutes of gore and sex and exposition. [DVD]

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

MONSTER FROM GREEN HELL (1957)

Brady (Jim Davis) and Morgan (Robert Griffin) are in charge of shooting test animals up into space to see how they react to cosmic rays in anticipation of manned space travel. The flights are only supposed to last for a few minutes, but one rocket which contained a wasp goes off course and off radar, eventually landing somewhere in the wilds of Africa, in an area the natives call Green Hell because it's home to an active volcano. Brady and Morgan head off to Africa on a recovery mission, but in the meantime, some odd things are going on near Green Hell. Dr. Lorentz and his daughter Lorna, who tend to the natives, hear reports of a strange giant creature--and in fact we see what is apparently a giant mutated wasp (which really looks nothing like a wasp--more on that later) attack and kill a native with a massive amount of venom. After a long, long trek, Brady and Morgan arrive at Lorentz's village by which time the doctor has been killed and a giant insect stinger removed from his body. Now there are several of these wasp monsters killing humans and causing animal stampedes. Brady, Morgan, Lorna and a handful of faithful natives approach the volcano where the wasps made their home and try to exterminate them with explosives, but it ultimately takes Mother Nature to wipe them out.

This cheaply made B-movie has a bad reputation, and indeed at 70 minutes, it feels much longer than that. Lots of critics blame the effects, mostly consisting of huge mock-up monsters and some stop-motion animation, but frankly I liked the effects. The creatures don't resemble wasps, but still, they look quite menacing. The real problem is the amount of padding with stock footage from older movies. The trek of Brady and Morgan into Africa takes a tediously long time, and there is more ineffective padding with scenes of a hostile tribe attacking our heroes. The footage itself, from the big budget 1939 Stanley and Livingstone film, is well-done but does nothing for the narrative except get the movie to hit the 70-minute mark. Jim Davis (Jock Ewing on the original Dallas) looks heroic but he acts in a very casual fashion like he's playing a lounge lizard, as if he's Dean Martin off chasing monsters; I found him more amusing than heroic. The only other actor to make a strong impression is Joel Fluellen as Arobi, the 'fully civilized' native assistant. There is a bit of comic relief with a monkey that is mercifully brief. A cheap novelty for Chiller Theater fans. [YouTube]

Thursday, October 07, 2021

ATRAGON (1963)

During a nighttime photo shoot on a beach involving a woman in a bikini, a figure in what looks like a scaly diving suit emerges from the water, spooking the model. The thing backs off after which a car goes careening off a dock into the water. Next morning, the car is recovered but with no bodies. It turns out that the car was involved in a string of kidnappings of engineers and geology experts. Next, Makoto, daughter of a Japanese Navy captain who went missing after the war, and her mentor, a shipping magnate named Kosumi, are kidnapped by a man claiming to be Agent 23 of the Mu Empire, a mythic sunken continent, sort of the Pacific Ocean version of Atlantis. They get away but eventually are sent a reel of film explaining that the Muans are planning on attacking Japan and other surface countries with technology they developed thanks to a lost Japanese submarine which was built by Makoto's father, Jinguji. Though assumed dead, we find out that Jinguji has actually been hiding out in a secret location working on a super-submarine (which can fly) called Atragon that he delusionally believes will help Japan's navy regain its lost glory. Jungui is reluctant to help, but when Mu begins its attacks and Makoto threatens to cut all ties with him, he rethinks his position.

From the title, I had assumed that Atragon was another Toho monster like Godzilla or Mothra, so the fact that it was a submarine was a pleasant surprise. There is a monster, sort of, in the form of a sea dragon that the Mu people worship, but it's a very disappointing marionette thing so don't watch for any real J-monster thrills. The narrative beats are similar to those of average Toho sci-fi film of the era, but what I liked best about it are the sets, at two ends of the budget continuum. The cheap miniatures are no better than the juvenile sets of the 1960s Thunderbirds series and movies, but I've always found those sets charming--as a kid, I imagined that I could build sets just as good in my basement with Legos. The Mu sets, on the other hand, look quite elaborate, like something out of a well-budgeted lost kingdom movie like SHE. Unfortunately, not much happens on these sets. Mu has an old evil priest dude and a young orange-haired empress (see above) who ultimately don't have much to do. The acting is also on a par with other Toho films, ranging from adequate (Jun Tazaki as Jinguji, Yoko Fujiyama as the daughter) to bizarre (Kenji Sahara as a reporter with an Amish beard who turns out, to one's surprise, to be another Mu agent). Generally enjoyable for a sci-fi Chiller Theater night. [Amazon Prime]

Monday, October 04, 2021

PHANTOM FROM SPACE (1953)

Radar tracks a UFO from Alaska to where it lands or crashes near Santa Monica, California. It leaves the radar screen but causes major radio and television interference in the area. A woman, her husband and a family friend are attacked on a beach by a figure wearing some kind of helmet, though no face is visible inside. The husband is killed, and at first the police suspect that wife and the friend have plotted together to kill him, but another such attack is soon reported. Soon, some cops working with agents of the "Communications Commission" link sightings of this helmeted phantom, whom they call the X-Man, with the UFO and the interference problem. Tracking him by the radioactive trail he leaves, they see him near Griffith Observatory. He takes off his suit and, sure enough, he is invisible without it. They take his suit and soon find out that the creature cannot breathe for long without his helmet. In an office in the observatory, the X-Man tries tapping out a message with a pair of scissors to Barbara Randall, an assistant to one of the scientists, and she discovers that his naked form can be seen in ultraviolet light. Ultimately, it seems that the phantom is just an alien who wound up here by accident and poses no threat to our planet, but still our poisonous air gets to him; he falls from up on the giant telescope, dies, and evaporates.

This B-film is part of the early wave of UFO/alien movies, and a relatively rare one in that the alien, despite killing a handful of folks, is not intentionally a threat to earthlings. When we finally see him fully naked in ultraviolet light at the climax, he resembles James Arness in 1951's The Thing from Another World but with smooth skin (and no genitals). At only 72 minutes, it still feels a bit long. The invisibility effects are fairly primitive, and though we feel some sympathy for the phantom by the end, we know nothing about him, not even how he ended up on Earth. There are a few too many actors running around accomplishing very little. The main characters are a cop named Bowers (Harry Landers), Barbara (Noreen Nash), her Germanic boss (Rudolph Anders), a military man at the observatory (James Seay), a pesky reporter (just like in The Thing) and a communications expert who spends the movie driving around in a car. I couldn't tell you if he is present at the climax because all those white men in uniforms and jackets--who all smoke a lot and chew quite a bit of gum--looked alike to me. The one who stood out is Barbara's husband (Steve Clark) because he looks like Clark Kent. One sequence near the end stands out stylistically and two groups of people holding a conversation in a room are photographed from below, for no apparent reason except maybe the cameraman got bored. [YouTube]

Friday, October 01, 2021

THE NIGHT WALKER (1964)

Irene Trent (Barbara Stanwyck) is in a troubled marriage, to say the least. Middle-aged but still attractive and vivacious, she's stuck with a rich, older, blind husband Howard (Hayden Rourke) who seems to resent her health and freedom, and accuses her of having a lover because of some mutterings of hers while dreaming. Howard thinks her lover is Barry (Robert Taylor), the family lawyer, the only person who ever comes to their home. While Irene might be interested, we know that her only lover is, in fact, a figment of her dreams. After a violent argument in which she says that her dream lover is more of a man that her husband will ever be, Irene leaves to spend the night in a hotel. Howard smells smoke and enters his laboratory; there’s a huge explosion and a fire, and the room is destroyed, with Howard's body seemingly consumed in the flames as the police find no trace of him the next morning. The next night, Irene has a nightmare in which the dead Howard is still alive. When Barry tells her she can't sell the house until it is considered safe, she decides to move into a small apartment behind a beauty salon she owns. But her dreams continue to the point where she can’t tell the difference between dreams and reality--even her dream lover (Lloyd Bochner) seems to come alive; handsome but a bit sinister looking, he swoops her off one night for a surreal marriage ceremony in an empty chapel with just a handful of wax figures as witnesses. Is this a story of supernatural haunting? Or is it a well-planned gaslighting? And if so, who is behind it and why?

Marketed as a horror movie (with a truly effective poster of an eyeball in a person's fist and a dream demon attacking a scantily clad woman), this came at the end of a number of successful horror films and thrillers from director William Castle. It was not a hit, partly because those poster art images (which are not in the film) sold it as something it wasn't--it's a psychological thriller. Of course, many great horror films are in fact psychological thrillers (PSYCHO, DIABOLIQUE, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE, Castle's own HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, all movies which this one tips its hat to) but the promise of sex and gore in the ads (which included the words "Lust" and "Secret Desires" in big letters) was not fulfilled. Also, the lure of Stanwyck and Taylor, classic-era stars who had been married in the past, wouldn't have necessarily appealed to the young viewers who made other Castle films hits. Still, on its own terms as a mystery thriller, it works pretty well for much of its running time. Rourke's old-age blind man makeup is truly creepy, as is his burned face for the later dream (or are they?) sequences, as pictured above. Bochner is perfectly cast as the good-looking but oddly cold dream lover. The nightmarish wedding scene is wild, and we are kept guessing for a while as to what's really going on. But from the get-go, there are plot problems galore: the lab comes out of nowhere, not seen before the explosion, and the fact that the Trent mansion doesn't have a phone is unbelievable. As things get explained, things also get more complicated; this was written by Robert Bloch but it's not as tightly constructed as we might expect from the man who wrote the novel that PSYCHO was based on. Still, judged against other 60s movies to which this should be more fairly compared (TWO ON A GUILLOTINEMY BLOOD RUNS COLD, MIRAGE), this is enjoyable enough. [Blu-Ray]

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

FIRST MAN INTO SPACE (1959)

Test pilot Dan Prescott (Bill Edwards) has taken off on an experimental flight in the small rocket Y-12 to see how man will fare as he heads for outer space. He hits the ionosphere and is told by the mission director, his older brother Chuck (Marshall Thompson), to return to earth, but Dan is a bit giddy at his accomplishment and continues further to where he can see the stars. On his way down, his plane destabilizes and he has to be talked through the emergency by Chuck. Once on the ground, instead of being debriefed at the base, Dan trots off to make out with his girlfriend Tia (Marla Landi), which further angers his brother, even though he finds out later that Tia is actually a very competent assistant to senior researcher Dr. von Essen. Despite Chuck's reservations, Dan is assigned to the next flight, Y-13, and again, Dan disobeys orders to return to earth, excited to be the first man into space at 250 miles high. This time, his disorientation is more pronounced and he loses control as a cloud of cosmic dust envelopes his craft. The rocket comes crashing to earth, but Dan is not found and so is assumed to be dead. But actually, he has been turned into a blood-seeking monster, coated in a strange glittery protective glaze from the cosmic dust. Soon, when cattle are found dead and unexplained murders with blood-drained bodies begin piling up, Chuck figures out what's happened and, with help from Tia and Dr. von Essen, lays out a plan to trap Dan and try to help him. 

By the late 1950s, it became clear that eventually man would go into space. It didn't actually happen until Yuri Gagarin did it in 1961, but that didn’t stop Hollywood, mostly B-movie producers, from producing sci-fi films about the topic. Some were hopeful, but many were not. This one is not, turning from speculative sci-fi to old-fashioned horror, of the "monster on the loose" variety. The most interesting thing about it is that the monster does in fact retain some part of his humanity and memories, though [Spoiler!] that does not save him in the end. The story takes a turn toward the “tampering in God’s domain” trope and Dan dies seeming to regret his hubris at needing to be the first man into space--though his real problem is not so much that he was first, but that he was cocky and reckless. Edwards is a bit colorless in the title role, though Marshall Thompson (as his brother) is the real lead--and he gets his dead brother's girlfriend in the end. Some sources say that stock footage of one of Chuck Yeager's test flights is used early on. The effects are not great, though the cosmic dust scene works well. The monster is basically a man in a baggy space suit covered with glittery gunk and doesn't seem as scary as it should be. Chiller Theater fun, though I'm not sure how this wound up getting a video release from the Criterion Collection. Pictured are Landi and Thompson. [DVD]

Thursday, September 23, 2021

LOS TALLOS AMARGOS (1956)

Gaspar is a frustrated journalist; he is in debt, is regularly reprimanded for his sloppy work habits, and doesn't get the assignments he wants--he got into reporting for adventure and heroics. A friend tells him his problem is that he has a blind will for submission, always seeking to be on a mission for someone. We also learn, by his reaction while watching a war movie, that he has some kind of war-related trauma, exacerbated by his relationship with his stern, hawkish father. One night, after what seems to he unfulfilling sex with his girlfriend, he winds up at a bar chatting with a fellow reporter, and gets what looks like a come-hither cruising look from the bartender, Liudas. But what Liudas recognizes in Gaspar is a need for a better life. Luidas, a former editor (and smuggler), gets Gaspar to lend his expertise to a get-rich scheme involving the setting up of a correspondence journalism school; they'll mass-produce articles to sell to poor suckers who think they'll really get a usable education. When Liudas mentions that he is trying to raise money to being his oldest son over from war-ravaged Europe, Gaspar, recalling his friend's words, decides that his mission should be to help the son, so he offers Liudas three-fourths of the firm's money until the son is brought over. Luidas is grateful, but one night, Gaspar overhears Luidas imply to a woman that there is no son, that he is bilking Gaspar. Acting on impulse, Gaspar plots to take Luidas on an overnight visit to Gaspar's mother’s home in the country and kill him. Complications ensue.

This long-lost Argentinian film noir, directed by Fernando Ayala and also known as BITTER STEMS, was brought back into circulation thanks to the efforts of Eddie Muller of Turner Classic Movies. It's a goodie, and it could serve as a dictionary definition of noir: moral ambiguity, a conflicted antihero, lots of shadowy nighttime scenes, some striking stylistic touches, and, of course, a murder that doesn't quite go as planned. Carlos Cores (pictured) is note-perfect as Gaspar; the character is a bit like Fred McMurray's character in Double Indemnity--he's attractive in a rumpled kind of way and, on the surface, likable (he's good to his mother and sister), but also weak and makes bad decisions. It's not a femme fatale that leads him to crime, but his own inner demons. (There are women in the movie, but they are strictly in support of the two leading men.) Vassili Lambrinos is just as good as Liudas; he does a nice job of keeping us a little off balance as far as his motivations--in real life, Lambrinos was a dancer and choreographer, though he had a featured role as a prince in The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Aida Luz and Pablo Moret are standouts in relatively small but important roles. There is a surreal dream sequence right out of Hitchcock's Spellbound and spectacularly discordant jazz music is an effective background for a disturbing nightclub scene. The noir atmosphere is beautifully conjured visually by cinematographer Ricardo Younis. Still difficult to see, I've heard that it's due for a Blu-Ray release soon. Catch it if you can, especially fans of genuine noir. [TCM]

Monday, September 20, 2021

HER MAN (1930)

Annie, a frowsy middle-aged woman of ill repute, has tried to leave Havana but has been sent back by the authorities. She goes back to the Thalia, a combination saloon and dancehall and whorehouse, where she is protected from the laughing scorn of other shady dames by young Frankie (Helen Twelvetrees), who works for the Thalia's owner Johnnie (Ricardo Cortez) as a "B-girl," someone who gloms onto visiting tourists or sailors, gets them to buy drinks, and sometimes steals their wallets. Annie feels similarly protective of Frankie, but when a drunk patron named Red catches Frankie trying to steal his money and makes a ruckus, it's Johnnie who takes care of things by staging a barfight as a distraction, then throwing a knife into the poor schlub's back when no one is paying attention. Frankie seems to want to leave her current life, but tells one man, "How far would I get? I ain't no man!" (though it turns out that this line is just part of the spiel she gives unsuspecting men before she picks their pockets). She sets her sights on a handsome young sailor named Dan (Phillips Holmes) as her next target, but softens and the two slowly develop a relationship which does not please Johnnie. Will Dan take Frankie with him when he leaves town, or will Johnnie’s plot to get rid of Dan pay off?

Director Tay Garnett makes this early talkie visually compelling all the way through with lots of panning or moving shots; especially notable is the scene in which Johnnie throws a knife clear across the bar to kill Red. The storyline, loosely based on the old ballad of Frankie and Johnny, is predictable--coming from the pre-Code era allows some sins to be forgiven in the end. The acting is all over the place. Helen Twelevetrees has the right look and attitude for a world-weary woman of loose morals, but too often she's either pouting or glowering. The reliable Ricardo Cortez is fine as the villainous Johnnie. Phillips Holmes, of lithe build and curly blond hair, has the right mixture of innocence and worldliness as Dan. One of my favorite character actors, James Gleason, is present, but he and Harry Sweet are around only for comic relief, and while their drunken antics with a slot machine and men's hats are funny the first couple of times, they're repeated way too often to remain effective. Marjorie Rambeau is fine but underused as wise old Annie. Franklin Pangborn, who usually plays effeminate parts, is amusing as part of the drunken comic bits. The recently restored print shown on TCM is stunning looking, though the clarity and freshness of the image bring an unfortunate focus to the occasional melodramatic overacting now and again. Still, recommended. Pictured are Holmes and Twelvetrees. [TCM]

Friday, September 17, 2021

APRIL IN PARIS (1952)

State Department bureaucrat Sam Putnam (Ray Bolger) sends an invitation to Ethel Barrymore to a prestigious arts festival in Paris, but the invitation winds up sent to chorus girl Ethel Jackson (Doris Day), stage name 'Dynamite.' Sam is mortified and tries to fix the situation but his boss (whose daughter Sam is engaged to) decides it's a good idea. On the ship to Paris, Ethel clashes with many of the stuffy men on board but delights Philippe (Claude Dauphin), an entertainer who is broke due to owing taxes in America and is working as a waiter on the ship. Philippe, realizing that Sam has rather improbably fallen for Ethel, hopes to egg him on at a big drunken party the night before landing. He succeeds too well--Sam and Ethel decide to get the ship's captain to marry them that night. The marriage occurs, but Philippe learns that the man they thought was the captain was actually a cabin boy, so he spends the night trying to stop them from enjoying conjugal bliss. The next day, in Paris, things get more complicated when Sam's boss arrives with his daughter in tow. But, of course, in Hollywood (or Hollywood's idea of Paris) love conquers all. This musical farce starts out well but wears out its welcome before the end. The biggest problem is the odd mismatch between Bolger and Day. I could buy them as best buddies, maybe, but not as a true love match. I kept expecting them to realize that it would never work out, but the plot doesn't go that way. The music is not terribly memorable, though "I’m Gonna Ring the Bell Tonight" is a very cute Day/Bolger dance number. Dauphin is charming as Philippe, and the rest of the cast is serviceable. This won’t make you a Doris Day fan, but it's a pleasant time-passer. [TCM]