Capsules for 30 May 🍿

Perry Mason: The Case of the Lethal Lesson (1989, Christian I. Nyby II)
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Quintessential middling TV movie has Mason (Raymond Burr) teaching law school and his star pupil (William R. Moses, ingloriously replacing William Katt as the series’ blond P.I.) falsely accused of murder. Way too little Burr (he’s good when he’s around), way, way too little Barbara Hale. Moses’s arc involves his rich girl-poor boy romance with boundlessly annoying Alexandra Paul. They’ve got zero chemistry, which is mostly Moses’s fault though the direction and script are also weak. But, hey, could be worse. Followed by THE CASE OF THE MUSICAL MURDER. DVD.
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Perry Mason: The Case of the Lady in the Lake (1988, Ron Satlof)
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Poorly written, poorly directed PERRY MASON entry has Raymond Burr defending David Hasselhoff, which ought to have some kind of absurd value but doesn’t. Burr’s great (in lousy courtroom scenes), Hasselhoff’s atrocious (worse, it’s a try and fail not a don’t try and fail). Okay support from regulars Barbara Hale and William Katt. Hale’s not in it enough; it’s Katt’s last PERRY MASON. Great performance from Audra Lindley in the guest stars; pretty much everyone else is lousy. Though David Ogden Stiers has some good moments. Title’s way too long too. Followed by THE CASE OF THE LETHAL LESSON. DVD.
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The MacKintosh Man (1973, John Huston)
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A miscast Paul Newman (he’s a British spy posing as an Australian for a bunch of the movie) tries to take down corrupt politician James Mason. Huston’s direction dilly-dallies and lolly-gags when it’s not dawdling. The script (credited solely to Walter Hill, who swears it’s not his fault) is bad. Newman having zero chemistry with female lead Dominique Sanda doesn’t help either. And the Maurice Jarre music is too slight. An unfortunate misfire, especially given those involved. DVD, Streaming.
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Encore (1951, Pat Jackson, Anthony Pelissier, and Harold French)
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Last (after QUARTET and TRIO) and most successful entry in trilogy of anthologies of W. Somerset Maugham adaptations. Three stories, all of them well-directed, at least one of them well-written, and all of them rather well-acted even when the writing’s not there. Great performances from Nigel Patrick, Roland Culver, Glynis Johns, and others. Maugham pointlessly and charmlessly introduces each story, which sometimes gets things off on the wrong foot. DVD (R2), Streaming.
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Godzilla, King of Monsters! (1956, Terry O. Morse and Honda IshirΓ΄)
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Unfortunate Americanization of the original Japanese GODZILLA adds dubbing and Raymond Burr to the story of a nuclear-powered monster destroying Japan. The whole atom bomb metaphor gets shucked; the script is bad, the shoehorning of Burr is bad (in writing, performance, and direction). See the original. Skip this one. Even if you have nostalgia. DVD, Blu-ray, Streaming.
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Trio (1950, Ken Annakin and Harold French)
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Second (after QUARTET) in a trilogy of anthologies adapting W. Somerset Maugham short stories has good acting, okay writing, and some excellent direction (from Annakin not French) but just doesn’t quite work out due to its lopsided attentions. Maugham introduces the stories, sometimes getting cut off mid-sentence, which is sort of funny, sort of not. Followed by ENCORE. DVD (R2), Streaming.
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Frankenstein Unbound (1990, Roger Corman)
★★½
After destroying the future trying to save the environment, scientist John Hurt goes into the past where he finds the events of Frankenstein (the novel) unfolding around him, with Mary Shelley (Bridget Fonda) witnessing Dr. Frankenstein’s descent into madness. Raul Julia’s an amazing Frankenstein, Nick Brimble’s an amazing monster. Hurt’s a tad passive but very affable. He and Fonda sell their May-December romance. Nice direction, excellent music, lovely Italian locations, good special effects. Based on a Brian Aldiss novel. DVD.
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*****
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