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Showing posts from August, 2016

Sherlock Holmes' (1932): Clive Brook and the Great Detective

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For a brief time in the early days of talking movies, Hollywood's sole portrayer of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's immortal sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, was British actor Clive Brook, who had become a screen idol in the latter days of silents thanks to some high-profile pictures, made primarily for Paramount. Dubbed "The Perfect Englishman" by U.S. media for his stern, stiff-upper-lip delineation of roles that appeared to suit his personality, Brook played the Great Detective three times before making his last appearance in Fox's SHERLOCK HOLMES (1932), a grandly melodramatic thriller that did not concern itself so much with Holmes' deductive brilliance as it did with thrills, intrigue and his intense rivalry with the "Napoleon of Crime," Professor James Moriarty.

Gauging Brook's performance in SHERLOCK HOLMES is difficult at first. Lower-keyed but more waspish than Basil Rathbone's conception of Holmes, and to contemporary audiences, a study in antiqu…

Little-known cinema: 'Crime Against Joe'

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Just over an hour in length, designed as a second feature for dual bills and treated as such by most critics, Lee Sholem's CRIME AGAINST JOE rises above its humble origins as a murder mystery to explore longing, nostalgia turned sour and mental disquiet simmering beneath the surface of small-town life.

These elements, backed by sincere acting and a quick pace, give this Bel-Air production released by United Artists on March 21, 1956, an edge over similar thrillers of the period, a distinction Bel-Air earned during the company's brief life on the Hollywood scene. Little remembered today, CRIME AGAINST JOE is an involving piece of storytelling whose sympathetic lead characters drive home the growing desperation of hero Joe Manning (John Bromfield) as he fights for not only his freedom but his self-respect.

A Korean War veteran once hospitalized for battle fatigue, Joe took up art in therapy and decided to pursue it as an occupation upon his return home, supported by his practic…