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Showing posts from May, 2017

Roger Moore: More than just a Bond

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Simply put, there was more of an actor in Sir Roger Moore, who died May 23, 2017, at 89, than required for the roles with which he became attached. He occasionally won an opportunity to prove that he had a range beyond portraying secret agent James Bond in seven motion pictures and the modern-day Robin Hood named Simon Templar, otherwise known as The Saint, in 118 episodes of a beloved TV series of the 1960s. One wishes he had more such opportunities arise during his interesting lifetime.

True, the action-adventure image Moore ably filled both on the large and small screen fit in with the relaxed, witty man of the world he most often played. From unlikely American western lead in his younger days to distinguished United Kingdom noblemen, Moore brought charm with authority, in addition to likeability to roles he essayed that didn't seem to warrant the effort. He may always be thought of as Bond, Ian Fleming's iconic espionage warrior with a license to kill, and that's inesca…

Lost and found: 'The Story of Molly X'

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Recently billed on some streaming sources as a "lost" crime film of the post-World War II era, THE STORY OF MOLLY X (1949) offers an intriguing title for a pretty routine thriller from Universal-International at a time when the studio entered a vogue with noir-themed productions, although they weren't being called "noir" right then. According to some critics, the film and others of its stripe deserved to be hidden away. Found "dreary" by historian Clive Hirschhorn* except for lead player June Havoc's enactment of the title role, THE STORY OF MOLLY X does have its compensations in using a semi-documentary tone to tell its story and the determination of its supporting cast of relatively fresh performers to put the film over with audiences.

Written and directed by Crane Wilbur, the 82-minute feature produced by U-I veteran Aaron Rosenberg opens with Molly, narrating her story and not providing a last name, telling us of a turning point in her life in …

A tale of two movies: 'Women Without Men'/'Blonde Bait'

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We're not on a run with women-in-prison movies here, but the case of the Hammer Films production of WOMEN WITHOUT MEN (1955) and its Americanized version BLONDE BAIT, released the following year, offer a fascinating look at how one overseas picture became something almost entirely different by the time U.S. audiences got to see it. Not an unusual situation, given the number of Mexican-made imports of the 1960s that underwent an almost complete transformation in plot and tone thanks to editing and dubbing into English. BLONDE BAIT is still recognizably WOMEN WITHOUT MEN, but with sequences filmed in Hollywood prior to release that made for some significant changes from the original, some for the good, others not so.

In fact, WOMEN WITHOUT MEN, directed by American film editor Elmo Williams, remains the best version despite its production manager, Jimmy Sangster, dismissing it as "silly," which may have had more to do with Sangster's own admitted aversion to the job he …