All for One, Fun for All: AT SWORD’S POINT (RKO 1952)


cracked rear viewer

France in 1648 is in upheaval: Cardinal Richelieu has passed away, the Queen is ill, and evil Duc de Lavelle is plotting to usurp the crown by forcing a marriage to Princess Henriette and murder young Prince Louis. The Queen summons the only persons that can help: her trusted Musketeers! But the quartet have either grown old or died, and in their stead come their equal-to-the-task children, Cornel Wilde (D’Artagnon Jr.), Dan O’Herlihy (Aramis Jr.), Alan Hale Jr (Porthos Jr.), and – Maureen O’Hara , daughter of Athos!!

AT SWORD’S PONT isn’t a great movie, but it is a fairly entertaining one, with lots of flashing swordplay, leaping about, cliffhanging perils, and narrow escapes. It kind of plays like a Saturday matinee serial, and there’s a lot of fun to be had, with Cornel Wilde a dashing D’Artagnon Jr, O’Herlihy a competent second fiddle, and Hale doing his usual good-natured…

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Horror Film Review: The Uninvited (dir by Lewis Allen)


the_uninvited_1944_film

If you want to see a really good haunted house movie, allow me to recommend that you track down the 1944 film, The Uninvited.  The Uninvited may not have been the first movie about a haunted house but it’s definitely one the best and one of the most influential.  None other than Guillermo Del Toro has regularly cited The Uninvited as an inspiration and, as I watched the film last night, I could definitely see where the film had influence Del Toro’s Crimson Peak.

The Uninvited tells the story of Rick Fitzgerland (Ray Milland) and his sister, Pamela (Ruth Hussey).  They’ve just purchased a long-empty seaside house and, incredibly, they were able to get it at an amazingly low cost!  The house’s owner, the frail Commander Beech (Donald Crisp, alternating between being menacing and sympathetic), was apparently desperate to get rid of it.

Far less happy about the selling of the house is Beech’s granddaughter, the mysterious Stella (Gail Russell).  As Stella explains it, she grew up in the house, her mother died in the house, and Stella is still attached to the house.  Beech has ordered Stella to stay away from the house but, with Rick falling in love with her, Stella is soon visiting on a regular basis.

Of course, Stella isn’t the only unexpected visitor that the Fitzgeralds get to know.  It quickly becomes obvious that there’s something strange about the house.  Rick and Pamela discover an artist’s studio that is always cold.  They both hear the sound of a woman crying.  Beech claims that it’s nothing to worry about.  Old house make weird noises, he informs them.  However, Rick and Pamela start to become convinced that the house is haunted.

Stella not only agrees that the house is haunted but she also informs them that she knows the identity of the ghost.  It’s Stella’s mother!  But if that’s true, why does the ghost constantly seem to be encouraging Stella to put her life at risk?  Why does Stella go into a trance and, much as her mother did 16 years earlier, attempt to jump over the side of a cliff?

Is Stella’s mother trying to manipulate her daughter into joining her in death?  Or is there something even more sinister happening?

Well-acted and perfectly paced, The Uninvited is an effectively creepy film, one that remains memorable even 72 years after it was initially released.  Visually, The Uninvited resembles a film noir and, if not for a brief scene towards the end of the film, viewers would be justified in wondering if the house really is haunted or if everyone in the film is just letting the isolation and the shadowy atmosphere get to them.  It’s that hint of ambiguity that elevates The Uninvited and makes it a truly thought-provoking haunted house story.

 

4 Shots From Horror History: House of Frankenstein, The Uninvited, House of Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray


This October, I’m going to be doing something a little bit different with my contribution to 4 Shots From 4 Films.  I’m going to be taking a little chronological tour of the history of horror cinema, moving from decade to decade.

Today, we continue our look at the 1940s.

4 Shots From 4 Films

House of Frankenstein (1944, dir by Erle C. Kenton)

House of Frankenstein (1944, dir by Erle C. Kenton)

The Uninvited (1944, dir by Lewis Allen)

The Uninvited (1944, dir by Lewis Allen)

House of Dracula (1945, dir by Erle C. Kenton)

House of Dracula (1945, dir by Erle C. Kenton)

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945, dir by Albert Lewin)

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945, dir by Albert Lewin)

44 Days Of Paranoia #22: Suddenly (dir by Lewis Allen)


We are halfway through the 44 Days of Paranoia!  In order to mark this special occasion, I’d like to feature one of the first true American conspiracy films, the 1954 film noir Suddenly.

Suddenly takes place in the small town of Suddenly, California.  (If only the town had been named Tranquility, so much trouble could have been avoided.)  On the day that President of the United States is scheduled to visit the town, a group of gangsters led by John Baron (Frank Sinatra) takes over the house of the Benson family.  It turns out that the Benson House overlooks the train station where the President will be arriving and Baron is planning on assassinated the President as soon as he steps off the train.  Baron sets up his rifle in the family dining room and, while he waits for his target to arrive, he also has to deal with a steadily growing number of hostages who do not want the President to be assassinated in Suddenly.

Clocking in at just 70 minutes and basically taking place on only one set, Suddenly is a grimly suspenseful film that is all the more effective because it deliberately keeps Baron’s motives obscure.  We know that someone has hired Baron to kill the President but we’re never quite sure who.  In the role of John Baron, Frank Sinatra gives one of his best performances and invests the character with subtle menace.

Frighteningly, Suddenly has apparently recently been remade by Uwe Boll.  That’s the type of news that will make any lover of classic film go, “Agck!”  However, the original Suddenly has entered into the public domain so, if you have 70 minutes to spare, please feel free to watch it below.

Other Entries In The 44 Days of Paranoia 

  1. Clonus
  2. Executive Action
  3. Winter Kills
  4. Interview With The Assassin
  5. The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald
  6. JFK
  7. Beyond The Doors
  8. Three Days of the Condor
  9. They Saved Hitler’s Brain
  10. The Intruder
  11. Police, Adjective
  12. Burn After Reading
  13. Quiz Show
  14. Flying Blind
  15. God Told Me To
  16. Wag the Dog
  17. Cheaters
  18. Scream and Scream Again
  19. Capricorn One
  20. Seven Days In May
  21. Broken City