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The Raven (1935)

The Raven (1935)Watch the trailer!

The second film in our pairing of classic Boris Karloff roles finds him once again paired with Bela Lugosi, although the roles are reversed from the previous film! Directed this time by Lew Landers, this film tells the story of renowned surgeon Dr. Richard Vollin (Lugosi) who is brought out of retirement to save the life of young Jean Thatcher (Irene Ware) after a horrible automobile accident. Dr. Vollin becomes enamored of Jean, even though she has a fiancée, fellow doctor Jerry Halden (Lester Matthews) and an over-protective father, Judge Thatcher (Samuel S. Hinds). As it turns out, Dr. Vollin is something of an Edgar Allen Poe aficionado, and has re-created many of Poe's more famous torture devices as a sort of macabre hobby. When Edmond Bateman (Karloff), a wanted violent felon, shows up at his door and insists Vollin change his face so he won't be captured, Vollin agrees, but the surgery transforms Bateman into a grotesque creature, and Vollin uses the threat of not undoing the surgery to get Bateman to do his bidding. Love, lust, torture, and death fill the rest of the story, but the ending comes as no surprise. And the trio reveal which two neo-noir films will make up their next pairing!

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The Black Cat (1934)

The Black Cat (1934)Watch the trailer!

It's another listener-suggestion pairing, this time of films featuring the legend that is Boris Karloff! Friend of the podcast, John Strahan, suggested two Karloff films based on the works of Edgar Allen Poe. First up, directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, Karloff stars as Hjalmar Poelzig, a famous architect who has built his home on the site of a bloody historic battle. Meanwhile, newlyweds Peter Allison (David Manners) and his wife Joan (Julie Bishop), who are traveling in the region by train, meet up with the enigmatic Dr. Vitus Werdegast (Bela Lugosi). After leaving the train station, an automobile accident strands the three travelers on the road, and Dr. Werdegast suggests they accompany him to his "old friend" Poelzig's home nearby. There, Poelzig and Werdegast both become fixated on Joan, but only one has her best interests at heart! Throw in some coincidental satanism, and a severe case of ailurophobia, and you have a strangely compelling tale of love and revenge!

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In the Heat of the Night (1967)

In the Heat of the Night (1967)Watch the trailer!

Our second film in our tribute to the great Sidney Poitier, who passed away on January 6th, 2022, came out just five weeks after "To Sir, With Love," but it brought audiences to a stunned silence with its realistic depiction of the treatment an African-American man would have received in Mississippi in the late 1960s! Directed by Normal Jewison, "In the Heat of the Night" sees Poitier playing Virgil Tibbs, the top homicide investigator from Philadelphia, on a trip to visit his mother in Sparta, Mississippi, get brought in as a murder suspect after a prominent businessman gets killed. Officer Sam Wood (Warren Oates) brings Tibbs into the station and presents him as the guilty party to Sheriff Gillespie (Rod Steiger). Fortunately, Tibbs reveals that he, too, is a police officer, and is grudgingly given the respect he's due by the Sparta police department. After Tibbs' chief suggests Virgil stay and help, he and Gillespie begin a tense, perilous (for Virgil) few days hunting down the real killer! Plus, the trio reveal which long-time listener has suggested the next pair of films to be reviewed!

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To Sir, With Love (1967)

To Sir, With Love (1967)Watch the trailer!

We interrupt our regular schedule of film reviews to pay tribute to an Actor's Actor. Someone who was a trail-blazer both on and off the screen, who was the epitome of a commanding presence, and who never turned in a bad performance in a career that lasted over 50 years. Sidney Poitier passed away on January 6th, 2022, but he left us a catalog of performances people will be talking about for centuries. And in only one year, 1967, he released three films that are among the top Hollywood classics of all time. We have chosen to review two of them as a way of honoring this great man. The first film in our tribute pairing dedicated to Sidney Poitier is "To Sir, With Love." Directed by James Clavell, this film is the story of an engineer, Mark Thackeray (Poitier) who takes a teaching job at a school for poor and troubled kids while waiting to find a "real" job in his field. After failing to reach them for weeks, an epiphany sends him in a different direction, and ultimately wins him the respect and admiration of his students. Co-starring Judy Geeson, Christian Roberts, Suzy Kendall, Geoffrey Gayldon, Faith Brook, Christopher Chittell, and the pop-singer Lulu in her first acting role! A true love-letter to any teacher who cares about their students, and any students who ever had that one special teacher!

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Nashville (1975)

Nashville (1975)Watch the trailer!

Part two of our look at the work of director Robert Altman focuses on a film with 24 leading and supporting characters. It's a bewildering trip through politics and country music known as 1975's "Nashville!" The film boasts a tremendous cast, including Keith Carradine (who won an Academy Award for the song he wrote and performed in the film, "I'm Easy"), Karen Black, Ronee Blakley, Shelly Duvall, Ned Beatty, Timothy Brown, Geraldine Chaplin, Robert DoQui, Henry Gibson, Scott Glenn, Jeff Goldblum, and so many more! And while the acting is superb, and the storylines are interesting, the overall impact of the film obscured by the choices made in their presentation, leading to a fascinating if somewhat muddled tale. Plus, the trio announce a shift in their schedule to pay tribute to a trail-blazing master actor who recently left us.

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