Film Review: Crime of Passion (1957)

Release Date: January 9th, 1957
Directed by: Gerd Oswald
Written by: Jo Eisinger
Music by: Paul Dunlap
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Sterling Hayden, Raymond Burr, Fay Wray

Robert Goldstein Productions, United Artists, 84 Minutes

Review:

“I hope all your socks have holes in them and I can sit for hours and hours darning them.” – Kathy Doyle

While delving deep into film-noir the last few months, I have grown to really cherish and appreciate the talent of Barbara Stanwyck, who is truly the queen of the cinematic style from an acting perspective. However, this is not a film that is really up to the standard of the pictures she was in before it.

It has a good cast with Sterling Hayden, Raymond Burr and Fay Wray in it but it was just lacking in about every conceivable way. Not to say it is a bad picture, it is just kind of a dud.

The story sees a woman (Stanwyck) marry a detective (Hayden). However, she is bored with their normal life and their normal friends and also wants her hubby to have more drive and passion, in order to better himself and not just except the humdrum norm. She does some shady stuff, in an effort to position her husband where she wants him. Ultimately, she has an affair with his boss (Burr). One thing leads to another, Stanwyck proves she’s batshit crazy and she even murders Burr, after he cuts her off following their indiscretion.

The film doesn’t really boast anything great as far as cinematography or style. It’s a pretty straitforward looking picture, with a fairly derivative plot that isn’t as creative as other Stanwyck noir pictures. It just feels like a movie where everyone just sort of dialed it in for a quick buck, as it had some good star power and fit the popular movie trends of the time.

In fact, even Stanwyck is off. Here she is just really shrill and over the top to the point that I don’t like her in this. Burr was typical Burr and at least he wasn’t a bad guy, other than the affair, which he immediately regretted.

Crime of Passion isn’t bad but it also isn’t memorable or worthwhile.

Rating: 6/10

Film Review: King Kong (1933)

Release Date: March 7th, 1933 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack
Written by: James Creelman, Ruth Rose, Edgar Wallace, Merian C. Cooper
Music by: Max Steiner
Cast: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot

Radio Pictures, 104 Minutes (with overture)

king_kong_1933Review:

I’m pretty excited for the upcoming King Kong movie in March. So I wanted to revisit all the other King Kong films in preparation and to magnify my own self-manufactured hype. Granted, there are only a couple good King Kong movies out there. This, the original, is definitely the standard bearer.

For 1933, King Kong has absolutely stunning special effects. Sure, the style is outdated now, over 80 years later, but the stop-motion animation of Kong and the other creatures is a technique still used in Hollywood today. Hell, it became the primary method for creating giant monsters and other creature effects until men in rubber suits and animatronics became the norm. Even then, it still maintained a place in Hollywood. Nearly fifty years later, Ray Harryhausen was still using the practice in 1981’s spectacular Clash of the Titans.

The man behind the stop-motion effects of King Kong, Willis H. O’Brien, would later teach the style to the more famous Harryhausen. The two worked together on Mighty Joe Young.

But back to King Kong.

The film was absolutely groundbreaking in 1933. It opened the door for other monster movie makers and it allowed the creativity of others to flourish, once seeing what magic could actually be achieved on celluloid. Sure, there are magnificent films before King Kong but there was nothing quite like it in terms of scale, ingenuity and excitement.

King Kong isn’t just a special effects spectacle, however. It is a good movie, altogether.

Fay Wray did good as the female lead of the film, the apple of Kong’s eye. Bruce Cabot was solid as the hero and was a pretty believable manly bad ass, trying to wrestle Wray’s Ann Darrow away from Kong. My favorite person in the film was Robert Armstrong, who played the over-the-top showman, Carl Denham.

The island setting of King Kong was beautiful and lush. The cinematography was well done and it made the island locales have depth and character. The jungle itself was a sort of mysterious monster, all on its own. The other giant creatures were also a nice addition to the tale. The constant battles between the giant ape Kong and the other large animals were executed amazingly well, despite the difficulty in achieving these sorts of effects at the time the film was made.

King Kong is, and will always be, a classic. It deserves its recognition, as being considered one of the greatest films ever made. No other Kong film has ever truly recaptured the magic and the heart of the original. As time went on, these effects became common place and no other filmmaker really put in the effort that the people behind the original did.