Thursday, July 28, 2022


Station Three is a highly protected government lab in the middle of a California desert where biological weapons are secretly being developed. Reagan, a government security man, is helicoptered in for a visit and as he makes his rounds, he tries to talk the tired looking Dr. Hoffman (Richard Basehart) into taking some time off. As scientists leave for the day, we see a man (Ed Asner) sneaking around, hiding his face and being taken by others for a Dr. Baxter. Something is afoot, and the next morning, we discover that Baxter and Reagan are dead, and that sneaky man has taken vials of two deadly chemical weapons. One is a strain that causes deadly botulism; if released, it would kill instantly but it would also dissipate quickly. The other is a new weapon nicknamed the Satan Bug; it would not dissipate and if loosed, it could kill all life on the planet in months. Former government agent Lee Barrett (George Maharis), who was recently fired for insubordination, is called upon to investigate. Mysterious eccentric millionaire Charles Ainsely sends a ransom note; he intends to release the botulism formula in Miami to create an “incident” then threatens to release the Satan Bug unless the government shuts down its chemical warfare labs. Barrett's former boss (Dana Andrews) and his lovely daughter (Anne Francis) work with Barrett to ferret out Ainsley and his confederates before they can follow through on a threat to drop the Satan Bug over Los Angeles.

Though originally marketed as sci-fi, this is really just an espionage thriller with the science fiction element of its title compound. Sci-fi fans will be disappointed and even thriller fans may feel letdown as this is a fairly talky affair with the action isolated at the beginning and end. In its look and the way it plays out, the film reminded me of 1968’s THE POWER which had a somewhat stronger sci-fi sheen but was essentially a chase thriller. But if like me, you have a hazy nostalgic affection for this kind of movie, you'll enjoy this. The handsome George Maharis makes for a solid if unexceptional hero, and an early scene in which government agents test him to make sure that he would be loyal and reliable is fun. Old pros Basehart and Andrews are fine, though as is often the case in action movies of this era, the female lead (Francis, pictured with Maharis) is underused. Asner and Frank Sutton (Sgt. Carter in the Gomer Pyle TV series) are good as the goons that the bad guy uses so he doesn't have to get his hands dirty, and you may recognize in support Simon Oakland, Hari Rhodes (from Daktari), James Doohan (Star Trek), and the still active James Hong (currently in Everything Everywhere All at Once). The lab scenes are colorful and the desert scenery is well photographed. The Miami incident is presented briefly but effectively as the equivalent of newsreel footage. The film is based on a novel by Alistair MacLean, author of many novels which became adventure movies—Guns of Navarone, Ice Station Zebra, Where Eagles Dare. [Blu-ray]

Tuesday, July 26, 2022


As the title promises, Tarzan, king of the African jungles, goes to India, dropped off from a helicopter into a river and greeted on shore by Princess Kamara, the daughter of the ailing Maharajah who is an old friend of Tarzan's. An animal sanctuary is about to be flooded due to the building of a dam. The construction boss, O'Hara, is desperate to meet his deadline due to the coming of the monsoons, and if the dam isn't finished on time, it could mean a rough year ahead for the villagers. When trying to talk O'Hara into pausing the project doesn't work, Tarzan is tasked with getting the elephants (some 300 of them) through a pass to safe territory. The problem is that doing so might endanger an already completed part of the dam. While O'Hara is sympathetic, and Raj, his chief engineer, tries his best to help Tarzan and Kamara, chief overseer Bryce seems out to actively thwart the elephant rescue plan—in the past, he'd made an enemy of Tarzan because of his poaching of elephants in Africa, and he still plans on continuing that practice here. 

Though this has the advantage of location shooting in India, this is a rather bland entry in the Tarzan series. Jock Mahoney is perhaps a bit too laid-back as Tarzan, though he anticipated in both persona and physical build Ron Ely who played the character on TV in the mid-1960s. At 44, he was the oldest person to take on the role to that point, though he looks younger, and he was certainly in much better shape than Johnny Weissmuller was in his last few Tarzan films. The movie has a more interesting plot than many of the others, going a bit above and beyond the poaching of animals. Still, it takes a little too long to get exciting. For me, the biggest problem is the character of Jai, the Elephant Boy (pictured with Mahoney), a kid with little personality, like a charmless version of Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and little reason for being part of the story except to give Tarzan a sidekick, as there is no Jane and no romantic partner, and to have an elephant who plays a crucial part in the climax. Oddly, IMDb gives no actor's name for Jai, though other internet sources say he was Levi Aharon Aharoni. Leo Gordon is a strong villain as Bryce and Jagdish Raj is appealing as Raj. Simi Garewal has the thankless role of Kamara. The middle of this movie is a bit of a chore to sit through, but it does have a strong climax. [DVD]

Thursday, July 21, 2022


Dr. Hill (Mary Peach) is called in by Dr. Steiner (Bryant Haliday) to help him and his assistant Dr. Mitchel (Ronald Allen) on an important project: a ray that can teleport (or, as they insist on calling it, project) a thing from one place to another. It's worked on objects, as Steiner proves with Hill's watch, but with living guinea pigs, the animal always dies—and even the watch after projection is a little goofy as its hands spin rapidly out of control. Meanwhile, we discover that Blanchard (Norman Wooland), the head of the foundation Steiner works for, is being pressured by Latham (Derrick De Marney) to kill the experiment. (If we ever discover why, I didn't catch it; maybe scientific jealousy?) Steiner, Hill and Mitchel make some changes and successfully project a monkey, but Blanchard forces them to give an official demonstration before they're sure everything will work. They go through with it, but when the ray malfunctions, their funding is pulled. Mitchel discovers evidence of tampering. Steiner decides to use himself as a subject, something that Hill and Mitchel (who are hitting it off quite well) discourage. Steiner ropes a receptionist into helping him, but things get cocked up again, and Steiner winds up projected to a construction site where he interrupts a couple of crooks breaking into a bank. The projecting hideously disfigures Steiner's face and he electrocutes everyone he touches. He eventually rigs up a cloth to cover half his face, like a Phantom of the Opera mask, and like the Phantom, he's out for revenge.

This plays like a mash-up of other sci-fi/horror films: The Fly and The 4D Man involve similar experiments with similar outcomes; Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, House of Wax and any number of other movies with their scientists who are driven to madness by their experiments. It doesn't add anything compelling to the genre, and with special effects kept to a minimum, it's not a must-see for genre fans. But it's not as bad as its reputation would indicate. Haliday is sometimes dissed for giving a rather bloodless performance, and it's true that his monster self isn't as scary as he should be, but he does feel a little more realistic than other mad scientist characters. Peach and Allen have a nice chemistry, and even get to have unmarried sex without consequences. De Marney is a decent baddie, though Wooland doesn't make much of an impression. If the fx are on the weak side, Haliday's post-projection make-up is good. I saw this in a pan-and-scan print; the widescreen print on the DVD would almost certainly improve things. [YouTube]

Monday, July 18, 2022

PÉPÉ LE MOKO (1937) / ALGIERS (1938)

The Casbah section of Algiers is a rough district of criminals and prostitutes, and it's where where Pépé (Jean Gabin, at left) is more or less trapped. He's a successful criminal and one whom the French police would love to nab, but the labyrinthine layout of the Casbah makes a raid unlikely, and the denizens of the Casbah like Pépé and hide him from the police. There is a local cop, Slimane, who is friendly with Pépé and mostly leaves him to his own devices (their chemistry is a bit like that of Rick and Renault in CASABLANCA), but even he realizes that getting Pépé out of the Casbah where an arrest would be easy to pull off would be a feather in his cap. Pépé's life is not bad: he is liked by his fellow Casbah citizens, he has a small gang and a casual mistress (though it is said that when he dies, "there’ll be 3000 widows at his funeral") and serves as something of a mentor/big brother figure to young Pierrot. But he yearns to leave the Casbah, and in particular, would love to go back to Paris someday. Enter the glamorous tourist Gaby (Mireille Balin), kept woman to an older businessman. She hears about Pépé and finagles a meeting, and the two fall for each other. Actually, her appeal to Pépé is more about how she conjures up Paris for him in their conversation, but still his mistress Ines gets jealous and winds up becoming an important tool for Slimane in his newly-hatched plan to get Pépé out in the open.

Like CASABLANCA (in addition to the resemblance I noted above), I think the feel of this movie is enhanced greatly by the sets. There is no one place like Rick's that stands out, but the entire district with its narrow streets and atmospheric interiors feels exotic. This isn't film noir, but I feel like Pépé is an early antihero, technically a bad guy who we root for, even as we'e pretty sure he will meet a bad end—though much of the film is light in tone, there is not a happy ending in store. It helps that Gabin is like a less intense Bogart, lighter on his feet and with a smaller chip on his shoulder. The large supporting cast is good, especially Lucas Gridoux as Slimane and Gilbert Gil as Pierrot. Mireille Balin is no Ingrid Bergman—she looks attractive and sophisticated but otherwise I didn't find her particularly appealing, partly perhaps because her character is rather flat. Nice line, from the unlikable Regis (Fernand Charpin): "I'm an informer, not a hypocrite!" The last few shots of Gabin are astonishingly good.

This French film, directed by Julien Duvivier, wasn't released in the United States until 1941, partly because Hollywood made what is virtually a shot-by-shot remake in 1938. ALGIERS features Charles Boyer as Pépé and Hedy Lamarr as Gaby, and includes some footage from the French film in the opening scenes which set up the location. The film was popular and may be familiar to some baby-boomers as the inspiration for the Looney Tunes character Pepe Le Pew, who also popularized the phrase (spoken in a thick French accent) "Come with me to the Casbah"—though that phrase is not actually in the movie. The copyright on the film was allowed to lapse so it's in the public domain and there are plenty of DVDs with dicey, murky prints; as far as I know, it has never been restored which is a shame because the cinematography by James Wong Howe is lovely. The earlier film has the edge over this version, but just barely. Boyer is a slicker version of Gabin, and Lamarr is far better than Balin as Gaby—though here, thanks to the Production Code, Gaby is not a kept woman but a fiancée. (The Code also mandated a different, less effective ending.) The supporting cast is filled with familiar faces who are every bit as good, if not better, than the French cast. Joseph Calleia is adequate as Slimane (though I give Gridoux the edge), and others including Alan Hale, Johnny Downs (Pierrot, pictured at right with Boyer), Leonid Kinskey and Robert Greig are fine, and Gene Lockhart as the informer Regis, who comes to a bad end, was nominated for an Oscar as supporting actor. This version has a comic bit I don't remember from the French version: one of Pépé's thuggish associates (Stanley Fields) argues with him about every little command but always acquiesces with a meek "OK." A good line: Alan Hale, playing Grandpere, one of Pépé's protectors, gets his door smashed in by the cops as they look for Pépé and says with exasperation, almost directly to the camera, "Every few weeks I have to get new doors!" I recommend both films. [The French film is on Criterion Channel; the Hollywood film is on DVD]

Friday, July 15, 2022


Cleopatra Jones (Tamara Dobson) is a federal drug agent currently stationed in Turkey; when we first see her, she is overseeing the destruction by flame of a $30 million poppy field. Back in the States, the owner of that poppy field, Mommy (Shelly Winters), a bewigged cartoonish lesbian crime boss, vows revenge and starts by getting a contact in the Los Angeles police force to stage a raid on a halfway house for addicts started by Cleo and run by Reuben, who seems to be Cleo's occasional lover. This is calculated to bring Cleo back to the U.S. and trouble starts as soon as she gets off the plane with a shoot-out at the airport that leads to one dead hitman slumped on the baggage carousel. Mommy has competent henchmen, but she's running into trouble with Doodlebug (Antonio Fargas), one of her more powerful pushers who is beginning to chafe under Mommy's control. Cleo has the police force behind her, but she knows there is at least one corrupt cop on Mommy's payroll, and she goes to kindly Mrs. Johnson (Esther Rolle), a diner owner, and enlists the help of two sons, martial arts experts Matthew and Melvin, to ferret out the bad apple and bring about Mommy's downfall.

This came out during the first wave of blaxploitation flicks, gritty movies with Black heroes or anti-heroes (like Shaft and Superfly) battling "the Man" on big city streets. But this has more in common with secret agent films. Jones, six feet tall, dresses in fabulous colorful outfits, seemingly a different one for each scene, and has an attitude that puts her above the street hassles that the Black genre films of the 70s often dealt with. As great as Tamara Dobson looks, her performance is a bit hollow—her background was in fashion modeling and she still has a bit of the emotionless mannequin feel about her here. But she sure looks the part, and her supporting cast carries the rest of the film. Winters has a blast chewing the scenery and grabbing the ass of every young woman in sight. Fargas also has fun with the showy role of Doodlebug; at one point, sick of his sideman responding to everything by saying "That’s right," he complains that he's gonna "die of that's-right-icide!" Rolle (best known from TV as Florida on Maude and Good Times) is a welcome sight though she only has one short scene. But the handsome guys who play her karate-chopping sons (Albert Popwell and Caro Kenyatta) are highlights of the cast. Also with Dan Frazer as a good cop, Stafford Morgan has his right-hand man, and Bill McKinney as a total sleazeball. There is a great car chase (Cleo drives a slick blue Corvette) filmed at the same site as the drag car race in Grease, and the finale in a car junkyard is memorable. There's a sequel I plan to track down soon. Recommended. [Criterion Channel]

Tuesday, July 12, 2022


At the beginning of the Cold War, with reports of flying saucer sightings making headlines, the Air Force focuses on reliable sightings in Alaska near the Taku glacier, worried not that the saucers are extraterrestrial but that they are man-made vehicles which could be used for the secretive delivery of an atomic bomb. When they discover that Russian agents are in Alaska looking for the saucer, American intelligence sends playboy Mike Trent (Mikel Conrad) to investigate. The cover story is that he's had a nervous breakdown and is heading up there with a nurse in tow to recover. The nurse is Vee Langley (Pat Garrison), another agent. It takes a while for anything to happen: we see lots of pretty Alaskan landscapes and Mike and Vee wandering around in the woods and eventually smoochin’ on each other a bit. However, their caretaker Hans is pretty suspicious, and, as it turns out, up to no good. He is in cahoots with the Russians, and at one point attempts to shoot Vee though a bear scares him out of it. Meanwhile, Mike goes to Juneau to do more digging, gets a little drunk and a little beaten up, and soon finds out that the saucer is the invention of a Dr. Lawton. Turner (Denver Pyle), Lawton's assistant, is trying to get his boss to sell the saucer to the Russians, and when Mike discovers where it's hidden (in an isolated valley beyond the glacier), fisticuffs, explosions and an avalanche are in store.

This was the first movie to capitalize on the flying saucer sighting phenomenon of the late 40s and early 50s. Through the years, many more movies would come, but this stands out not just because it's the first but also because it's not really science-fiction, as the possibility that the saucer is of alien origin is never seriously entertained by any of the major characters. The film winds up being a fairly run-of-the-mill B-spy thriller. The star, Mikel Conrad, also directed and produced and co-wrote the screenplay, and perhaps wore one hat too many. His acting is acceptable, though he is rather unappealing and charmless (the actor and the character). His leading lady, Pat Garrison, is fairly bland and has no more major film credits, and there is no chemistry between the two leads. The narrative runs in fits and starts; once the action moves to Alaska (with actual location filming), things slow down as we get big chunks of what amounts to travelogue footage. Some of it, as in a scene where Mike flies over the glacier, is impressive but still goes on a bit too long, as though Conrad the producer didn't want to waste anything that Conrad the director had filmed. Conrad the director also has an inflated idea of how good Conrad the actor is, and lets him do some unwarranted showboating. There are some reliable character actors here, such as Russell Hicks and Frank Darien; the biggest name in the cast is probably Denver Pyle with over 150 TV credits including Uncle Jesse on The Dukes of Hazzard. Somewhat surprisingly, the saucer effect, both in the distance and up close, is very good. This is fun to watch as a historical novelty, as long as you don’t expect much more. [YouTube]

Monday, July 11, 2022


Maxwell Anderson's blank verse play about the love affair between the 60-something Elizabeth I and the 30-something Earl of Essex was adapted for the screen in 1939 as The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex with Bette Davis and Errol Flynn. This version, taped for television for Hallmark Hall of Fame—back when that name actually meant drama of quality—is drastically cut to fit within a 75 minute time frame, and it shows. Many scenes of exposition or transition are awkwardly chopped down to just two or three lines, and most of the background characters are not well differentiated. But the performances of Judith Anderson as Elizabeth and Charlton Heston as Essex are quite good. The plot is a highly fanciful and fictionalized version of history. In the play, it is implied that Elizabeth and Essex are lovers, despite their thirty-year age difference, though most historians don't believe their relationship was ever physical. At any rate, Essex is a much favored member of Elizabeth's court, and others, including Sir Walter Raleigh, are jealous of the attention he gets. And there is some question, even in Elizabeth's mind, about Essex's ambitions, not just on the battlefield but within the court; is he a possible usurper of the crown? Raleigh and Sir Robert Cecil plot to send the reluctant Essex to Ireland, hoping he'll get bogged down in fighting a revolution there. He does, and he defies his queen's orders by taking his troops into the interior rather than staying on the coast. Cecil intercepts messages sent between Elizabeth and Essex, making sure they're not received, leading to a major misunderstanding between the two. When Essex returns to London with his troops, it is assumed that he is back to take the throne by force; though he insists to the Queen that that's not his intention, his followers shouting their support for him in the streets send a different message.

Like the Davis-Flynn version, this is basically a melodrama of romance and power. In real life, Essex was forgiven his Ireland shenanigans (he apparently forged a truce which was not approved of by Elizabeth) but later did engage in a plan to capture the Queen and install James VI in her place. Elizabeth would seem rightfully to have sent Essex to his death. In Anderson's play, Essex's betrayal is played out more ambiguously. Though the streets are filled with his followers, he claims not to be plotting to dethrone her—what he really wants is to share her throne. Elizabeth cannot bring herself to contemplate that, assuming she would essentially become his prisoner. The two reach an impasse that can only be broken by Elizabeth sending Essex to the executioner; though she will suffer mightily for it, it is the price of holding on to power. Anderson is quite good; Heston is not an obvious choice, and the New York Times critic who reviewed this program back in 1968 criticized his "immobility of expression" and lack of passion, but I thought he was fine as a conflicted lover, even if he doesn’t quite capture the necessary pathos for the final scene. Adequate support is given by Michael Allinson as Raleigh, Harry Townes as Cecil, and Alan Webb as Sir Francis Bacon, a supporter of Essex. Staging and shooting are average for the era of taped performance. [DVD]

Thursday, July 07, 2022


Fats (Edmond O'Brien) is a mobster who wants to marry his kept mistress Jerri (Jayne Mansfield, pictured) but he wants her to have a talent he can be proud of (besides being so sexy that men's glasses shatter and milk bottles spurt open when she walks past), so he hires agent Tom Miller (Tom Ewell) to make her a singing star. Tom starts by taking her out on the town to get some free publicity, but soon he has to face an unpleasant fact: she's an awful singer. Jerri admits to Tom that she doesn't want the high life, she just wants to be a housewife. But Fats insists on getting bandleader Ray Anthony to record a song he wrote, "Rock Around the Rockpile" (perhaps, with its prison life theme, this is a forerunner to Elvis's "Jailhouse Rock"?) and Jerri, rather than singing, provides a high-pitched siren screech at the climax of the song. Surprise, it's a hit! But soon, in scenes that parody 1930s gangster liquor war scenes, a jukebox war breaks out between Fats and his rival Wheeler, now a talent agent, and when Wheeler starts losing, he decides to take down his rival with a gun. But more surprises are in store here for all, including the fact that Tom and Jerri fall in love, and that Fats might be a promising entertainer in his own right.

This colorful celebration and parody of 1950s pop culture is cute and watchable, but I'm not sure how it wound up as part of the Criterion Collection, a brand which typically includes art films and, in their words, "important films." Though this is a narrative romantic comedy with an emphasis on satire, it's more known today for two other reasons: the climax of Jayne Mansfield's career as a Hollywood sex goddess, and the performances, sprinkled throughout the film, of a dozen or so 1950s rock and pop artists including Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, Fats Domino, and the Platters, along with lesser-known but still interesting acts such as Abbey Lincoln, The Treniers, and Johnny Olenn. The plot is a Born Yesterday rehash but with a sort of second-string cast. Ewell, who managed in the space of two years to get cast opposite both Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe (in THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH), is hangdog and drab—the boyish appeal he had with Monroe the year before is mostly gone here—and sort of sleepwalks his way through this film, though his double-take when he first meets Mansfield is classic. O'Brien is fine in the beginning but his hoarse growling gets monotonous. Mansfield is actually quite good, and gets better throughout as her character develops. The tit jokes (the eyeglasses, the milk bottles) are inevitable but caused my inner 13-year-old boy to laugh. The music is fun, and Henry Jones (a very familiar TV face and the handyman in THE BAD SEED) is a bright spot playing playing O'Brien’s assistant. But my absolute favorite part of the film is the presence of singer Julie London, playing herself as a former client of Ewell's that he had a crush on. As Ewell reminisces sadly, we see ghostly images of London in a variety of glamorous get-ups, lounging around Ewell's apartment as she sings her big hit "Cry Me a River." It's quite creative and funny. The rest of the movie is amusing and cartoonish, but could have used a little more wit and invention. [DVD]

Tuesday, July 05, 2022


Madame Irma (Shelley Winters) runs a brothel in what looks like an abandoned warehouse in an unnamed country where violent revolution is occurring in the streets, led by a legendary figure known as Roger (Leonard Nimoy) who may in fact actually be dead. The fantasies that her girls enact for their customers are elaborate. We see three such scenarios play out: one man dresses as a soldier and rides one of the women like a horse; another pretends to be a judge as a woman sits in a mock-up of an electric chair; and a third dresses as a bishop and listens to an erotic confession. Winters and her assistant, a former prostitute (Lee Grant), watch the proceedings on a closed-circuit TV. The chief of police (Peter Falk), trying to hold the government together, comes to Winters, who has been his lover, and asks her to provide people to play dignitaries (all killed in the revolt) in public to keep up the illusion of the government's power and stability. The three johns agree to play general, judge, and archbishop and ride around town in an open car, with Irma eventually decked out as a queen, and begin to act as though they actually hold power. Then a very-much-alive Roger shows up at the brothel and wants to playact as the police chief. 

Jean Genet's play was well received off-Broadway in 1960, and this movie looks and feels very much like a filmed stage play. The scenes that are set outside of the brothel consist mostly of stock footage of riots and ruins, which was a problem for me because when the three men are paraded through town, the scene looks so artificial, I first thought it was taking place in the brothel. This could have been deliberate, as much of the film's philosophical content involves the contrasting states of reality and illusion. Frankly, this can only be fruitfully discussed as a filmed play, and as such, it's compelling enough, though the situations and characters always feel theatrical and symbolic, with no real flesh and blood consequences. Matching this, the actors, for the most part, play their roles theatrically. They are all fine, especially Falk, who threatens to go over the top on occasion. Kent Smith (from the original CAT PEOPLE) is the soldier, and Ruby Dee has a small role as the bishop's penitent. A scene near the end of Falk and Nimoy, both having been stripped naked, is about as amusing as the movie ever gets. For fans of Genet or filmed theater. Pictured are Falk and Winters. [Criterion Channel]

Friday, July 01, 2022


Neil is a dissolute playboy who wakes up with a hangover on the morning of his wedding to Abbie, but when he rushes to the church, he finds out he's actually an entire day late. Abbie's fed up and Neil's wealthy father is ready to disown him, but his mother is convinced that she can get the famous psychiatrist Dr. Grauer to give him a diagnosis of temporary amnesia which will get him a second chance with both dad and fiancée. So mom and son toddle off to a hotel in the mountains of Switzerland where Grauer is vacationing. Neil immediately starts flirting with Luise, the hotel manager, who responds just enough to make Neil think he has a chance. But Grauer, who seems to be either an official or unofficial guardian to Luise, analyzes Neil as being lazy and unable to shoulder responsibilities and therefore unable to truly love someone. When Luise discovers that Neil has a fiancée, she starts giving him the cold shoulder, but when Grauer and Luise don't return from a mountain hike, Neil joins the search party. When he finds them stranded on a peak, he is able to hash things out with both of them. Just when their romance seems about to spark again, who should show up but Abbie, ready to marry Neil on the ship back to the States. Will Neil go back to a life of irresponsibility or will he buckle down and change for Luise? The best thing about this B-level romantic comedy is its physical look; because it's an MGM B-film, elaborate sets and costumes make it look like an A-picture. I especially like the mountain rescue scene—it's artificial looking but effective. The writing is adequate—there are some plotholes but it moves at a good pace. The supporting cast is great, with A-level support from Gene Lockhart (the father), Billie Burke (the mother), Reginald Owen (Abbie's father), Walter Connolly (Dr. Grauer), and in smaller roles Arthur Treacher and Felix Bressart. Annabella, a French actress who never quite made it out of the novelty niche in the States, is fine as Luise. The weak link is Robert Young as Neil. Until the mountain rescue scene at the end, he was bland and rather unappealing, and I couldn't really make myself care if he reformed and got the girl or not. Still, it's generally harmless, and that supporting cast is worth watching. Pictured are Annabella, Connolly and Young. [TCM]