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Non-Review Review: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow evokes pulp science-fiction cinema with an earnestness and an eagerness that is endearing, if not infectious. Although the special effects have dated significantly in the time since the movie’s release, it’s hard not to admire director Kerry Conron’s use of computer graphics to forge a connection to classic cinema. However, one senses that Conron might have been better suited to emulate the mood, rather than merely the appearance, of these old adventure serials. The problem is that despite its rather wonderfully crafted appearance, there’s never anything in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow to really get excited about. And that’s a shame.

A ray of hope?

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Horse Player (Review)

As part of the “For the Love of Film” blogathon, I’ll be taking a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s contributions to his celebrated anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I’ll be looking at some of the episodes of the classic show that he directed. The “For the Love of Film” blogathon this year is raising money to keep one of Hitchcock’s earlier works, The White Shadow (which he wrote, edited, designed and assistant-directed), available on-line and streaming for free. It’s a very worthwhile cause and you can donate here.

The Horse Player actually makes for a nice conclusion to our run of Alfred Hitchcock Presents reviews. It aired in 1961, towards the end of the sixth season of the anthology show, a year before the show would be rebranded The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. It was the second last half-hour show that Hitchcock personally directed, but is generally agreed to be much stronger than his final effort, a morality play titled Bang! You’re Dead. Instead, The Horse Player is an enjoyable and engaging meditation on those cardinal virtues of faith, hope and charity.

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Mr. Blanchard’s Secret (Review)

As part of the “For the Love of Film” blogathon, I’ll be taking a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s contributions to his celebrated anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I’ll be looking at some of the episodes of the classic show that he directed. The “For the Love of Film” blogathon this year is raising money to keep one of Hitchcock’s earlier works, The White Shadow (which he wrote, edited, designed and assistant-directed), available on-line and streaming for free. It’s a very worthwhile cause and you can donate here.

Mr. Blanchard’s Secret is a fun watch, if only for the joy of watching Hitchcock gleefully spoofing Hitchcock. Pitched by the director as “a tale of mystery and intrigue, played in middle-class suburbia” during his introduction, Mr. Blanchard’s Secret reads an affectionate parody of Rear Window, perhaps the Hitchcock film that lends itself so easily to comedic skewering. Mr. Blanchard’s Secret is hardly a groundbreaking or astonishing piece of television, but it is highly enjoyable and quite clever, proving that Hitchcock has a wonderful sense of humour about himself. (As if we needed proof.)

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Wet Saturday (Review)

As part of the “For the Love of Film” blogathon, I’ll be taking a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s contributions to his celebrated anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I’ll be looking at some of the episodes of the classic show that he directed. The “For the Love of Film” blogathon this year is raising money to keep one of Hitchcock’s earlier works, The White Shadow (which he wrote, edited, designed and assistant-directed), available on-line and streaming for free. It’s a very worthwhile cause and you can donate here.

Wet Saturday is what you’d get if you crossed a Hitchcock murder mystery with a very British farce. It’s a bit of a strange cocktail, a comedy of manners about a sordid murder, but Hitchcock makes it work, in no small part to the work of a fantastic ensemble cast. Any excuse to see Hitchcock working with John Williams is worth the price of admission, even if the veteran performer finds himself relegated to a supporting role here. Sir Cedric Hardwicke excels as the patriarch of a proud British family who has to deal with the inconvenience of a murder on the family estate.

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Back For Christmas (Review)

As part of the “For the Love of Film” blogathon, I’ll be taking a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s contributions to his celebrated anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I’ll be looking at some of the episodes of the classic show that he directed. The “For the Love of Film” blogathon this year is raising money to keep one of Hitchcock’s earlier works, The White Shadow (which he wrote, edited, designed and assistant-directed), available on-line and streaming for free. It’s a very worthwhile cause and you can donate here.

Shrunken heads are a hobby of mine. Collecting them, of course, not making them. It takes too long to make one. First, you must wait until the original owner of the head dies. I haven’t the patience for that. As you have no doubt already guessed, tonight’s story has nothing whatsoever to do with shrunken heads. It is called ‘Back for Christmas’.

– Hitchcock’s introduction. No, really.

It’s amazing how much variety Hitchcock managed to bring to Alfred Hitchcock Presents. After all, Revenge was a straight-up noir tale and The Case of Mister Pelham was an existential mystery. Back For Christmas is Hitchcock doing wonderfully dark comedy, to the point where the surrealist introduction above perfectly sets the tone. It’s also an episode that will probably add fuel to the “Alfred Hitchcock was a misogynist” debate.

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Banquo’s Chair (Review)

As part of the “For the Love of Film” blogathon, I’ll be taking a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s contributions to his celebrated anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I’ll be looking at some of the episodes of the classic show that he directed. The “For the Love of Film” blogathon this year is raising money to keep one of Hitchcock’s earlier works, The White Shadow (which he wrote, edited, designed and assistant-directed), available on-line and streaming for free. It’s a very worthwhile cause and you can donate here.

Banquo’s Chair has a rather standard little plot. There’s no sense that any of the ideas are overcrowding one another, or that they’ve been rushed along to fill the twenty-five minute slot. Indeed, the plot and the script are about as standard as they could be, using a simple set up to play through a familiar drama and leading to a somewhat trite and predictable conclusion. Without being harsh, I think that’s a fair description of Banquo’s Chair. However, it is well served by an experienced cast and by Hitchcock’s direction. Neither truly distinguishes it from the rest of the series, but they do elevate a fairly simple set-up into an entertaining little adventure.

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Breakdown (Review)

As part of the “For the Love of Film” blogathon, I’ll be taking a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s contributions to his celebrated anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I’ll be looking at some of the episodes of the classic show that he directed. The “For the Love of Film” blogathon this year is raising money to keep one of Hitchcock’s earlier works, The White Shadow (which he wrote, edited, designed and assistant-directed), available on-line and streaming for free. It’s a very worthwhile cause and you can donate here.

Breakdown is an interesting concept, but one that feels like it has been adapted into the wrong medium. Most of the story centres around an executive who survives a car crash, paralysed. We are treated to his inner monologue as various people come along and interact with him. Adapted by Francis M. Cockrell and Louis Pollock from the latter’s short story, I can’t help but feel the concept might have worked better as a radio play than in television. Still, the idea is solid, and Joseph Cotton gives a nice central performance. It just feels a bit clunky for a television adaptation.

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