Saturday, April 28, 2018

Stubs - Cry Danger

Cry Danger (1951) Starring: Dick Powell, Rhonda Fleming, Richard Erdman, William Conrad, Regis Toomey, Jean Porter, Joan Banks, Jay Adler, Renny McEvoy, Lou Lubin Directed by Robert Parrish. Screenplay by William Bowers. Based on a Story by Jerome Cady. Produced by Sam Wiesenthal and W.R. Frank. Runtime: 79 minutes. USA. Black and White. Film Noir, Drama

If you’ve never heard of Olympic Productions, it may have a lot to do with the fact that the production company, owned by Sam Wiesenthal and W.R. Frank only made one film, Cry Danger. Like many independent productions, Cry Danger was made quickly on a low budget. The initial shoot lasted about 22 days beginning on June 9, 1950, with additional shooting in late July to early August. Much of the shooting took place in and around downtown Los Angeles, CA, including Union Station and Bunker Hill.

Jerome Cady’s story was originally purchased by Santana Pictures, a company owned by Humphrey Bogart and his producing partner Robert Lord with Columbia Pictures originally set to distribute. No word how the story went from Santana to Olympic, but that is what happened. No telling what the resulting film would have been like with Bogart in the lead.

Dick Powell and Humphrey Bogart in a publicity still from the film Johnny O'Clock
(1947) with technical adviser John Jake Barrett in between.

Dick Powell, however, was no slouch when it came to film noir. A one-time song and dance man in films like 42nd Street, Gold Diggers of 1933 and Footlight Parade, all from 1933, Powell made the transition to film noirs with Murder, My Sweet (1944) playing a character Bogart had also played, Phillip Marlowe. He would go on to make several film noirs including Cornered (1945), Johnny O’Clock (1947), To The Ends of The Earth (1948) and Pitfall (1948). Well-versed in the genre, Powell would turn out to be a good choice for the lead here.

Newspaper headlines welcome Rocky Mulloy home.

Powell plays Rocky Mulloy, fresh from prison having served five years of a life sentence for robbery and murder. When the film opens, Rocky is just getting off the train at Los Angeles’ Union Station where he is greeted by a newsboy hawking the paper with a headline about Rocky’s release. Outside, Lt. Gus Cobb (Regis Toomey), the detective who helped put him behind bars, is waiting for him. With Gus is Delong (Richard Erdman), a decorated, disabled ex-Marine and alcoholic, who provided Rocky with an alibi that got him released.

Rocky (Dick Powell) is greeted off the train by Lt. Gus Cobb (Regis Toomey),
the detective who helped put him behind bars, and Delong (Richard Erdman), the man who freed him with an alibi.

Gus doesn’t necessarily buy the alibi but invites the two men out for a drink. At the bar, Delong explains that he shipped out the day after the holdup, saying he was unaware that Rocky was in trouble. Delong’s story is that Rocky and he had been out together drinking with other Marines the night the robbery was committed. Gus isn’t convinced and informs Rocky that he’s putting a tail on him 24/7, hoping he’ll lead authorities to the money from the holdup which was never recovered.

First stop is a bar, where we learn Delong likes to drink.

Once Gus leaves, Delong comes clean with Rocky, telling him that he had made up the alibi, thinking that he might be entitled to a share of the loot. Rocky repeats his claim that he wasn’t part of the robbery but knows who was involved and who has the money and that he intends to find it.
Delong takes Rocky to the Clover Trailer park, where Nancy Morgan (Rhonda Fleming) lives. Nancy is not only Rocky’s ex- but she is also the wife of his best friend, Danny, who was also found guilty of the robbery and is still in prison.

The trailer park where Nancy lives and where Rocky and Delong rent a trailer.

The first person they meet is a cute blonde, Darlene (Jean Porter), part-time model and part-time pickpocket, to whom Delong is drawn. The two men rent a trailer from the manager of the park, Williams (Jay Adler), who warns them that he doesn’t want any trouble. Nancy is thrilled to see Rocky again.

The first person they meet at the trailer park is Darlene (Jean Porter).

That night, Rocky goes to see Louie Castro (William Conrad), a racketeer who had engineered the holdup. Rocky accuses him of a frame-up and demands Castro pay him $50,000, the amount he had been offered to participate in the robbery. Castro refuses. He claims not to have the money. Rocky will settle for $5000 as a down payment. Instead, Castro gives Rocky $500 with which to place a bet the next day on a fixed horse race. The horse will pay 8 to 1 which will get Rocky some money for now.

Louis Castro (William Conrad) gives Rocky a racing tip rather than a payout.

Later that night, Rocky is shot at by an unseen assailant at the trailer park. Nancy begs Rocky to drop the matter, but Rocky instead goes the next morning to see Arthur Fletcher, a witness that provided damning evidence against Rocky at his trial. However, he finds out from Alice (Joan Banks), Arthur’s wife, that he’s dead. Alice tells him that Arthur received $5000 soon after the trial, which Rocky assumes was a bribe from Castro.

Arthur Fletcher's widow, Alice (Joan Banks), seems to fancy Rocky.

Alice makes a play for Rocky, but instead he calls Castro to find out how to place his bet. He’s instructed to go to a hotel's cigarette stand to place the bet and is instructed to see the bookie (Hy Averback) downstairs in the delicatessen for the payout. The bookie, who comes out of the backroom, complains about the payment saying no one considers that he’s got a wife and kid at home.

While Rocky, Nancy, Delong, and Darlene are out celebrating Rocky’s good fortune, Gus shows up to let him know that the money is part of a heist. Trying to prove his innocence, Rocky takes Gus back to the delicatessen, but the proprietor acts like he’s never seen him before and informs them there is no backroom, which Gus and Rocky find is true. Upstairs, there is a different woman working the concession and has no idea what he’s talking about. When they fail to find the other woman who took the bet, Gus takes Rocky downtown to police headquarters.

Gus shows up to ruin Rocky's celebration, which includes Nancy (Rhonda Fleming) at left.

Gus calls Castro, who claims he’s never seen Rocky, which Gus knows is a lie, having followed Rocky since his release. Still, he’s reluctant to believe Rocky’s story, though he does let him go.

Soon after he gets back to the trailer park, Delong and Darlene leave to get a drink. They are, however, mistaken for Rocky and Nancy by Castro's thugs. In a hail of bullets, Delong crashes the car and Darlene is killed instantly.

After the shooting, Gus brings in all of the suspects, including Castro.

Gus brings Rocky, Nancy, and Castro in for questioning, but can’t get any answers from any of them. He lets them go, though he holds on to Castro. When he returns to his car, Castro finds Rocky waiting for him.

Rocky is waiting for Castro to come out of police headquarters.

Incensed, Rocky takes Castro to his office and forces him at gunpoint to lie down on the desk. He then plays Russian roulette with Castro until he admits where his half of the loot is hidden, in a safe under his desk. Castro also reveals that Nancy has the other half, as Danny, unlike Rocky, agreed to participate in the holdup and committed the murder.

Castro eventually confesses to Rocky about his half of the money.

Rocky instructs Castro to call Gus to arrange for a confession, Gus instead calls his thugs, who leave to come to his office. Afterward, Rocky calls the real Gus. When the police arrive, the thugs engage them in a shootout on the sidewalk out front.

When the police get to Castro’s office, Rocky informs Gus where half of the money is, but claims not to know where the other half is.

Nancy wants to run away with Rocky and confesses that she has her husband's share of the loot.

Back at the trailer park, Nancy wants to run away with Rocky. He tells her that they'll need money and she admits that she has Danny’s share of the money. When Rocky asks how she could have remained silent when he was sent away to prison, she admits that she was afraid of Castro. She also confesses to shooting at Rocky to stop his snooping. Still, she claims she still loves him and begs him to run away with her. Rocky agrees and they split up to pack. But once he’s outside her trailer, Gus is there. Rocky tells him about Nancy's deception and while Gus goes inside to arrest her, Rocky walks quietly away.

Released by RKO on February 3, 1951, the film received positive reviews, though there is no information on its box office. Variety noted that "All the ingredients for a suspenseful melodrama are contained in Cry Danger…”

There is a lot to like about the film, starting with the cast. Dick Powell seems to be in his element as Rocky. He’s just tough enough and snarky enough to carry off the part. Not a forbidding figure, Rocky is driven by his anger over having been wronged. He doesn’t let much stand in his way, even Castro, played by William Conrad.

No stranger to crime dramas, Conrad appeared in The Killers (1946) as one of the assassins sent at the beginning to kill Burt Lancaster’s Swede character. He had also appeared in such films as Body and Soul (1947), Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), Tension (1949), and Dial 1119 (1950). Conrad would become a radio actor, playing Marshal Dillon on the long-running radio production of Gunsmoke (1952-1961), and eventually have his own TV show, Cannon (1971-1976). Conrad is used to playing the heavy, no intended joke about his weight, and he’s good here as Rocky’s foil.

Nicknamed the “Queen of Technicolor”, Rhonda Fleming was known for her pale complexion and flaming red hair. She acted in films beginning with In Old Oklahoma (1943), but her big break came in Spellbound (1945) directed by Alfred Hitchcock followed by The Spiral Staircase (1945). She would also appear in Out of The Past (1947). Her first starring role came in Adventure Island (1947), a low-budget action film shot in color. She would then star opposite Bing Crosby in her first Technicolor film, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1949).

Even in black and white, Fleming is still a beautiful woman and a fine actress. Nancy is a little one-dimensional, though Fleming does her best to make the most out of her. The twist at the end seems a little anticlimactic, but that’s not her fault.

Richard Erdman made a career as a supporting actor, appearing in 160 film and television productions over the years. His first appearance was in Mr. Skeffington (1944) and his most recent appearance was in the sit-com Community (2009–2015), as one of the elder students. Here he makes a good sometime partner for Rocky. He’s a good actor but he doesn’t steal focus from the star. Erdman does, however, get to deliver one of the better lines in the film.

Darlene LaVonne: You drinkin' that stuff so early?
Delong: Listen, doll girl, when you drink as much as I do, you gotta start early.

Jean Porter came to Hollywood at the age of 12 in 1934 from Cisco, Texas. While she would never achieve stardom, she did appear in such films as The Youngest Profession (1943), Bathing Beauty (1944), Abbott and Costello in Hollywood (1945), Till the End of Time (1946), and in The Left Hand of God (1956). She did attract the attention of director Edward Dmytryk, who ended up as one of the Hollywood Ten during the McCarthy Era. They would stay married from 1948 until his death in 1999. Porter is more eye-candy in this film and except for minor characters, she is pretty one-dimensional.

The film is good but not great. While Rocky’s journey is interesting it is somewhat short and to the point. There are a couple of diversions along the way to keep it from being too straightforward but there really is nothing all that unique about the story. Wrongly accused man gets out of prison and seeks revenge on those that put him there. In this case, it’s Castro, who is 60% legit (sort of like being a little pregnant) and doesn’t want to give Rocky his due.

The twist, and you pretty much have to have one for film noir, is that the woman he loves and who claims to love him back is also responsible for putting him away. It’s a good one but not as shocking, perhaps, as it could be.

If you’re a fan of film noir, then you should like Cry Danger. While it doesn’t hold up as one of the greats of the genre, it is still good and fun to watch. I would recommend it if you have not seen it.

Be sure to check out our Film Noir Review Hub for reviews of other films in this genre.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Stubs - Hell's Angels

Hell’s Angels (1930) Starring: Ben Lyon, James Hall, Jean Harlow Directed by Howard Hughes with James Whale (uncredited) and Edmund Goulding (uncredited). Screenplay by Harry Behn, Howard Estabrook, and Joseph Moncure March (uncredited) Produced by Howard Hughes. Run Time 131 minutes USA Black and White w/ Color inserts. War. Melodrama

One of the first casualties of the coming of sound may be actress Greta Nissen, a Norwegian actress who had appeared in several Hollywood silent films. Originally hired to play Helen, the female lead of Howard Hughes’ big-budget production, Hell’s Angels. The critically acclaimed actress was with the production from its inception on October 31, 1927 and was involved until Hughes decided to get onboard the coming of sound and scrapped much of the film he’d already shot. While accents are not issues with silent films, they are with sound and Nissen’s was too noticeable for a film that up to that point was the most expensive film production to date.

Howard Robard Hughes Jr. was a lanky millionaire from Texas, who came to Hollywood after dropping out of Rice University. While Hughes’ fortune was inherited, his father’s Hughes Tool Company, he wanted to make his first splash in Hollywood. The first two films he produced, Everybody's Acting (1927) and Two Arabian Knights (1928), were financial and critical successes, the latter receiving the Academy Award for Best Director. His films The Racket (1928) and The Front Page (1931) were also nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, the latter also receiving nominations for Best Director and Best Actor.

The idea to film a World War I aviation picture was first suggested to Hughes by Marshall Neilan, an actor, director, producer, and writer, in the fall of 1926. The film was set to star Ben Lyon, James Hall, and Greta Nissen.

Ben Lyon had been in films since 1918 after finding success on the Broadway stage opposite Jeanne Eagels. He would develop into a leading man starring opposite such renowned silent era actresses as Pola Negri, Gloria Swanson, Colleen Moore, Barbara La Marr, Viola Dana, Anna Q. Nilsson, Mary Astor and Blanche Sweet.

James Hall hailed from Dallas, Texas and had been acting in films since 1923’s Man Alone. His sound debut had come in The Canary Murder Case (1929), opposite William Powell and Louise Brooks.

Neilan would be the film’s first director when production began at Metropolitan Studio. But Neilan didn’t last long and left the production because of Hughes’ overbearing techniques.

Luther Reed, a director from Paramount, was the next to take the helm, but he didn’t last long either, quitting in January 1928 again because of Hughes’ annoying interference.

After Reed’s departure, Hughes decided to direct the film himself, taking special interest in the air sequences of the film. For the film, he personally acquired forty warplanes, many authentic fighters from World War I. Over the next three years, the production was plagued by a number of fatal and near-fatal accidents. In three separate air tragedies, two pilots and one assistant were killed.

When finished, the silent version of Hell’s Angels was previewed in March 1929 and did not fare well. At the urging of co- but uncredited director James Whale, Hughes scrapped the entire film and reshot it as a sound picture. The rewrite fell to MGM’s Joseph Moncure March, who thought that the original silent film was "depressingly bad."

Shooting began again in September 1929 without a female lead. Hughes auditioned many women as a replacement for Greta Nissen including June Collyer, Ann Harding, Carole Lombard (then known as Carol Peters) and Dorothy Mackaill. It was Lyon who introduced Hughes to Jean Harlow after picking out the 18-year-old actress out of a chorus line performing on a nearby sound stage.

Whale, who was new to Hollywood, would work closely with Harlow, even shutting down production for three days so that he could get the performance out of her that he wanted. Whale, who would not receive credit on the final film, handled dialogue scenes while Hughes would concentrate on the aerial scenes and dogfights.

The final scene of the film was shot on December 7, 1929, and involved 1700 extras. The entire production involved 20,000 extras and a total of 2,254,760 feet of film (about 560 hours) that were shot and developed, the largest amount of negative discarded for a single film.

The film begins with three Oxford students vacationing together in Munich, Germany; Roy Rutledge (James Hall), his brother Monte (Ben Lyon) and their German-born classmate Karl Arnstedt (John Darrow).

Roy and Karl are waiting in a beer garden for Monte, who arrives with a woman clinging to him. Unlike his brother, Roy has already found love with Helen (Jean Harlow) and has no interest in other women. Monte begs his brother and Karl to take the woman off his hands, as he has another engagement to attend to.

Roy shows Karl a photo of Helen (Jean Harlow), the woman he loves.

His other engagement is with a married woman, the Baroness von Krantz (Jane Winton), who thinks her husband, Baron von Krantz (Lucien Prival), is out on military business, but he arrives home early and catches the two lovers. The Baron does not get angry, but rather challenges Monte to a duel.

Baron von Krantz (Lucien Prival) challenges Monte (Ben Lyon) to a
duel when he catches him with his wife (Jane Winton).

Monte’s first reaction is to run and he is packing his bags when Roy comes back to the hotel. Monte doesn’t tell Roy why he’s leaving in such a hurry and is gone by the time the Baron’s seconds arrive to make final arrangements for the duel. Roy upholds his brother’s honor by taking his place in the duel.

In a tinted color scene, we see the duel from a distance as the Baron shoots but only wounds Roy.

The Baron shoots Roy (James Hall), unaware he's not the man he challenged.

Back at school, there is talk of war. Karl speaks openly about not wanting to fight against the British. Meanwhile, Roy takes Monte to meet his girl, Helen, but when they get to her house, she’s out and Monte doesn’t have the patience to wait to meet her. Roy though stays, what seems to be hours, to see her.

Roy takes Monte to meet Helen, only to find out that she's out.

When war does break out, Karl is called back to Germany and Roy enlists with the Royal Fighting Corps. Monte, who seems to have a cowardly streak, wants nothing to do with it, but ends up enlisting accidentally in order to get a kiss from a pretty girl being used to lure men to enlist.

Roy, who is anxious for Monte to meet Helen, finally gets his wish at a Charity Ball given by Lady Randolph (Evelyn Hall) which he also helped organize.

Helen is obviously taken with Monte when they're introduced by Roy.

Helen is obviously taken with Monte and uses her considerable charms on him. Roy keeps getting called away, which allows Helen more opportunity to snare Monte. She asks him to take her home and while there slips out of her slinky dress into something more comfortable, a loose-fitting dressing gown. Monte thinks twice but, in the end, can’t resist her.

Helen makes her play for Monte.

The Germans mount an attack on London using one of their Zeppelins, whose commander (Carl von Haartman) uses Karl as the spotter. Not wanting to see London destroyed, Karl leads them to an unpopulated lake area which he convinces his commander is right about Trafalgar Square. The Zeppelin unloads all of its missiles, which explode harmlessly in the lake below.

German-born classmate Karl Arnstedt (John Darrow) is used as the spotter for the
attack, but feeds his commander bad information to save London.

The British are not too unaware and send up several planes, including one with both Rutledge brothers flying it. The Zeppelin tries to outrun their pursuers and when they are not getting the speed and height their commander wants, they start to get rid of excess weight, starting with Karl, whose observation gondola is thought to be slowing them down and would take too long to retrieve.

Karl is the first to be sacrificed in an effort to save the zeppelin.

When they are still too heavy, all excess equipment is thrown overboard. And when they need to go even lighter, men volunteer to jump to their deaths in order to keep the zeppelin from falling into enemy hands.

German soldiers jump to their deaths to keep the Zeppelin from being shot down.

While the Rutledge brothers are shot down, Roy manages to land the plane. They have a view of the Zeppelin which is struck down when one of the British fighters crashes into it. The Rutledges narrowly escape harm when the burning wreckage falls to Earth on top of their stranded plane.

The Zeppelin gets struck by a plane and catches fire before falling to Earth.

The brothers are sent to France, where Helen is also working in Lady Randolph's Canteen. Roy goes to see her there and she is openly flirting with another man.

Back at their base, Monte pretends to be ill to get out of Night Patrol, a duty that always seems to cost someone their life. Monte wants nothing to do with the war and openly says so in front of the other pilots in the mess hall.

Somewhat surprisingly when superiors are looking for two volunteers for a dangerous mission behind enemy lines, Monte is the first to volunteer. Not wanting to let his brother go on alone, Roy also volunteers. The mission is to fly a captured German bomber over the enemy’s munitions dump. The goal is to fly the plane back but in event of being shot down, they are to destroy the plane. And, if they are captured, they will be shot as spies since they will be pretending to be German pilots rather than enemy combatants.

The brothers find Helen in a backroom with another man.

On their last night, the boys are given freedom to do whatever they want. Roy wants to see Helen but when he gets to the canteen he’s told that she’s out. He leaves her a note and then joins Monte when they go to a nearby café. There, in the back room, they see Helen with another man. They are both drunk and affectionate. When Roy tries to get the other man to leave, Helen informs him that she’s never loved him and tells him to get out.

Helen tells Roy that she never loved him and to get out.

The brothers retreat to a bar across the street where they get drunk with two French girls. Monte tries to encourage Roy to forget about Helen. The brothers keep drinking and the closer it gets to their time to report, the more Monte talks about not wanting to go. But Roy won’t hear of it and drags his brother away and back to base.

While Roy flies, Monte lines up the bombs.

While the mission is initially successful, their bombing is witnessed by Von Richter (William von Brinken), who is commanding his Flying Circus. They attack the bomber which is trying to outrun them. The plane is hit by machine gun fire but continues to fly. Finally, a contingency of British fighters appear and take on the Germans. A large-scale dogfight takes place in which both sides lose planes. But when it looks like the Rutledge brothers might get away, Von Richter sweeps down and shoots the bomber down.

British fighters come to the Rutledges' rescue.

The plane crashes and burns but the Rutledge brothers survive. They are taken to a military prison run by Baron von Krantz, who recognizes Monte but not Roy. Despite their duel, the two never actually met. Von Krantz is interested in the position of the British troops and airplanes. If the boys cooperate, von Krantz promises them they will be sent to a POW camp near Munich where they can wait out the war in relative comfort. If they don’t it is the firing squad that awaits them. He gives them fifteen minutes to discuss.

The brothers are captured and taken to see General von Krantz.

It should come as no surprise that Monte wants to talk, but Roy talks him into letting him speak with von Krantz. Roy doesn’t reveal that the two men are brothers and instead tells von Krantz that they are rivals for the same girl. He says he’ll talk if von Krantz lets him kill the other pilot, a request the General agrees to.

Roy lies to von Krantz about his relationship with Monte.

Monte is all too willing to talk to spare himself. Seeing no other alternative, Roy shoots and kills his brother with the one bullet the General gave him. After watching his brother die, Roy is taken back to the General, who is surprised to learn the men were brothers. Roy refuses to talk and is taken away to be executed before a firing squad.

Roy stays with Monte while he dies.

The brothers' sacrifice is not in vain, however, for their brigade's attack on the Germans is a complete success.

The total budget of the film was reportedly $4 million, per Hughes, but in truth was closer to $2.8 million. Still a lot of money in its day, but far less than the $4 million M-G-M spent on Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925). Hell’s Angels premiered on May 27, 1930, with a huge fanfare at Grauman’s Chinese Theater but wasn’t released to the public until November 15, 1930. The film was a box-office success, making nearly $2.5 million in rentals. However, considering it took in less than it cost to make, it lost money for its wealthy producer.

Hells Angel's premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theater.

While the film has some spectacular scenes, they aren’t necessarily as involving as say similar scenes in Wings (1927) were. In Wings, the actors actually flew the planes they were in. That is not the case here. The dogfights, while enormous, are for the most part not all that exciting. Too many long shots of small planes against enormous cloud formations.

Impressive but involving dogfights.

There are some really interesting shots in the film, like seeing a Zeppelin falling down with the camera underneath it. And the pyrotechnics, no doubt real explosions, are spectacular as well. But for a war film, there is relatively little war footage. Hell’s Angels is, after all, more melodrama than action.

Fairly impressive pyrotechnics.

The film has remnants of its silent roots, including the use of tinted scenes, like the violet hues used during the early morning duel scene or the use of blue tints during obvious nighttime shots. There is actually a color sequence in the film. The party where Helen falls in love with Monte was shot in a two-strip process called Multicolor, though the actual sequence was printed by Technicolor. (Multicolor was not prepared to print the number of inserts needed for the wide release Hughes wanted.) This would turn out to be the only time Jean Harlow would ever be seen in color in a film that wasn’t colorized.

Hell's Angels is the only film to feature Jean Harlow in color.

It should also be remembered that this is a pre-code film, meaning there is some fairly frank sexuality, and a surprising amount of adult language (for the time). During the final dogfight sequence, you can hear such phrases as "son of a bitch", "goddamn it", and "for Christ's sake", along with the words "ass", "hell", and a few uses of "God" in other scenes. These were not common on the screen then and would not become a staple of films until the MPAA Rating system was adopted in 1968 and films could be rated according to the language used.

Despite the setting, the story itself is sort of mundane. None of the actors, including Harlow, really burn up the screen with their acting prowess or develop beyond being one-dimensional characters. Harlow was in fact, called out by New York Times critic, Mourdant Hall. In his review, Hall says that while the overall film is “absorbing and exciting. But while she is the center of attraction, the picture is a most mediocre piece of work."

Jean Harlow at the beginning of her career still exudes sex appeal.

That criticism is a little harsh. I don’t think her shortcomings as a leading lady in Hell’s Angels is really her fault, so to speak. This was, after all, her first major role. She’s only 18 with very little experience acting. It’s not her fault that she might have been thrust into the limelight before she was ready just because she’s pretty. Despite the critical reviews, Harlow became a star based on the film. She does exude sex, especially when wearing her barely-there gown at the party. She has the same platinum blonde hair that would help make her a star at MGM, though her eyebrows would be thinner than they are here. While her acting was oftentimes a little stiff, that would not keep her from becoming an icon in American culture, even though she died when she was only 26.

Her impact is somewhat reflected in the story of Ben Lyons, her co-star and the man who discovered her. While he received generally positive reviews for his performance as Monte, his career began to wane and he went to work on the business-side at 20th Century Fox in the mid-1940s. On July 17, 1946, he met a young aspiring actress named Norma Jeane Dougherty. After their first meeting, he stated that she was "Jean Harlow all over again!”.  He organized a color screen test for her, renamed her, and finally signed her as Marilyn Monroe to her first studio contract. Talk about a man with a good eye for beauty, as he discovered arguably the two most iconic actresses in Hollywood history.

James Hall’s career in films ended in 1932, with Manhattan Tower, when he went to work in vaudeville. By the time of his death in 1940 at the age of 39, he had basically fallen into obscurity. Hall is part of one of the most powerful scenes in the film. Roy feels that for the greater good of the war effort he has to kill his own brother. No doubt Monte would have done just about anything to save his life and Roy finds it in himself to kill the brother he’s been looking after and cleaning up after his whole life.

Even though he has a relatively small part, Lucien Prival’s appearance as Baron von Krantz provides bookends for the film. It is a nice touch to have the husband of Monte’s lover be the one who gets to decide his and Roy’s future. Even though he’s not in this film, Prival’s performance as von Krantz predates how many Nazis would be depicted in World War II films.

While I prefer Wings, I am glad to have finally seen Hell’s Angels and would recommend it to anyone interested in early sound films or anyone who is a fan of World War I themed films. Though flawed there is still a lot to like and there are some spectacular shots. To top it off, you get to see a young and still learning Jean Harlow.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Review Hub - God of War

Beginning in 2005 and created by David Jaffe of Twisted Metal fame, God of War tells the story of a Spartan mortal named Kratos as he seeks his revenge on Ares (Greek god of war) and, eventually, the rest of the Greek pantheon, primarily Zeus, for personal reasons. This would prove a highly successful IP for Sony and the PlayStation brand, as Kratos would go on to make guest appearances in a number of games, mostly fighting games, usually as a PlayStation-exclusive character. Though Kratos' story officially concluded in God of War III, Kratos' story would be expanded upon in a few other titles before a new direction was decided upon for the character, this time placing him in the realm of Norse mythology with his son, Atreus.

Below is a list of links to every God of War review on this blog, presented in chronological order and sorted by Era. (Re-reviews are listed next to the main link in parentheses.)

Update (5/12/2018): Added God of War (2018)
Update (3/1/2023): Added God of War: Ragnarök

Greek Era


Norse Era

God of War (2018)
God of War: Ragnarök




God of War: Betrayal