Automotive Deals HPCC Amazon Fashion Learn more Discover it Stephen Marley Fire TV Stick Happy Belly Coffee Handmade school supplies Shop-by-Room Amazon Cash Back Offer showtimemulti showtimemulti showtimemulti  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Introducing new colors All-New Kindle Oasis AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Water Sports
Profile for Trevor Willsmer > Reviews


Trevor Willsmer's Profile

Customer Reviews: 1483
Top Reviewer Ranking: 4,569
Helpful Votes: 6120

Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Trevor Willsmer RSS Feed (London, England)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
The Secret Six
The Secret Six
DVD ~ Wallace Beery
Price: $17.49
7 used & new from $12.59

3.0 out of 5 stars A rushed climax and the Pathetic Six let down an otherwise above average gangster film, February 5, 2016
This review is from: The Secret Six (DVD)
A rare foray into the genre from MGM, for much of its running time The Secret Six is shaping up to be a superior gangster movie until it’s let down by a weak third act and the Secret Six themselves. As in so many gangster movies of the era, they’re a benevolent bunch of city patriarchs who have taken it upon themselves to rid their city of crime, but despite the film being named after them they’re barely in the picture, which is no bad thing. When they finally do appear the best part of an hour into the 83-minute film, they’re simply an anonymous bunch of men in suits wearing silly silk Lone Ranger masks at a police briefing who do absolutely nothing, while their only other appearance at the end of the film makes no real sense at all despite being the only part of the film when they have any impact on the plot whatsoever. Cashing in on the name of the real group of anonymous Chicago businessmen credited with bringing down Al Capone and other notorious mobsters, they’re just a silly torn-from-the-headlines angle to sell a typical rise-and-fall gangster movie that’s much more fun when it’s following Wallace Beery’s progress from slaughterhouse worker to enforcer for a young, scar-faced and duplicitous Ralph Bellamy’s gang. Naturally it’s not long before he’s taking over both the rackets and the city itself with help from Lewis Stone’s urbane crooked lawyer. He even gets one of his gang elected as mayor on an honesty ticket even though everyone knows they’re gangsters.

Beery’s having a ball basically just being himself as the thug with a dirty mug and Lewis Stone provides a memorable contrast in a nicely understated performance as the power behind the throne. First introduced vaguely waking from a few drinks too many but growing in laidback poise and confidence as he sees the newcomer’s possibilities, he gets to demonstrate his dark arts to keep him out of jail while cleaning house of the less useful gang members with barely an expression of interest: Judge Hardy he is not. On the sidelines are Clark Gable and Johnny Mack Brown’s reporters, fighting for cigarette girl Jean Harlow’s affections, who in turn is playing both of them along to ensure Beery gets a good press. Brown may get the higher billing, but Gable gets the better part, MGM beefing up his role during the shoot due to his undeniable charisma and growing confidence on the screen – when he tells Harlow “Listen, if you’re gonna fall for anybody, make it me” you’ll wonder why she’s wasting her time with his leadfooted rival. Playing brassy rather than classy (“Sure, I get you. You’re no crossword puzzle.”) Harlow’s still on a learning curve here, but she’s at her best whenever the film pairs her with Gable so it’s no surprise they would became a regular screen pairing in five more films.

At times, particularly the early scenes, it feels like a Warner Bros movie with MGM production values (you’d never see anything like Wallace Beery’s art deco apartment over on the more cost-conscious Burbank lot), clearly inspired by the likes of Little Caesar and The Public Enemy while anticipating a lot of elements in the following year’s Scarface, not least Beery’s obsession with bettering himself while remaining blissfully unaware of how relentlessly uncouth he is. It wears its Pre-Code morality fairly lightly (though Beery does complain about his moll talking in her sleep) but forgotten and ill-fated wunderkind George Hill’s direction certainly elevates much of the material, with some striking tracking shots, an effective scene where Beery and his entourage silently search his house for an interloper and the odd virtuoso touch like shooting a car crash from the driver’s point of view. There’s certainly enough to enjoy for the rushed resolution and the Pathetic Six not to let down the picture too much.

Warner Archive's DVD-R offers a decent transfer but no extras.

Manhattan Melodrama ( Manhattan Melo drama ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - Spain ]
Manhattan Melodrama ( Manhattan Melo drama ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - Spain ]
DVD ~ Clark Gable
2 used & new from $21.00

3.0 out of 5 stars MGM takes on Warner Bros. at its own gangster game, February 5, 2016
With Manhattan Melodrama, MGM set out to show that anything Warner Bros. could do, they could do better - or at least bigger. It's that favorite old chestnut the two boyhood friends, one who follows the law, the other a life of crime, with twice-orphaned (in the space of only the opening reel!) Mickey Rooney and Jimmy Butler growing into Clark Gable's illegal gambling den proprietor and William Powell's District attorney, with Myrna Loy transferring her affections from one to the other until the inevitable moment when Powell finds himself prosecuting Gable for murder and demanding the death penalty... Even in 1934 the plot was hokey, but MGM throw everything they have at it in a lavish production that kicks off with a convincingly chaotic recreation of the catastrophic 1904 fire on the pleasure boat General Slocum and just keeps on throwing money at the screen, for the most part pretty effectively. While it's not on the level of Warners' later Angels with Dirty Faces, with which it shares two protagonists whose friendship endures all the way to Death Row, it is an entertaining enough hour-and-a-half even if it's not worth getting yourself shot to death by the FBI on the way out of the movie theater, as famously happened to John Dillinger, giving the MGM publicity department decades of free publicity in the process. On a happier note, after the film came out Lorenz Hart had the idea of writing new lyrics for the song heard in the Cotton Club sequence, The Bad in Every Man, giving us the classic Blue Moon, so it wasn't all bad news.

The Spanish PAL DVD release is pretty perfunctory, so you're better off getting this as part of the US Myrna Loy & William Powell Collection from Warner Home Video, which offers a good transfer with the original trailer, a Pete Smith short and a funnier than the norm Harman-Ising cartoon The Old Pioneer (look out for the NRA symbol on a tepee). And, of course, that collection comes with an additional four of William Powell and Myrna Loy's non-Thin Man pairings.

Hold Your Man
Hold Your Man
DVD ~ Jean Harlow
Price: $17.49
5 used & new from $11.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A perfect pre-Code star vehicle, February 5, 2016
This review is from: Hold Your Man (DVD)
In his Thirties prime Clark Gable was the right star at the wrong studio, but with Hold Your Man the still up-and-coming star was given the kind of perfect fit part he’d have got at Warner Bros. as a likeable and supremely self-confident small-time conman – even his smile is crooked - who falls for top-billed Jean Harlow’s kindred spirit who’s working the same street from a different angle. It’s a classic case of a perfect star vehicle with both stars on top form, with screen chemistry that positively sizzles and snappy dialogue to spare. Anita Loos story may have had a few of the rough edges smoothed off by MGM, but it manages the neat trick of being a classy film about smalltimers, directed with surprising imagination by Sam Wood, who is curiously credited only as the film’s producer (there’s a particularly nice moment where a foreground Harlow and her nice-but-dull latest mark shift into soft focus as her attention wanders to Gable in the background)

Warner Archive’s DVD-R offers a decent transfer and also includes the original Spanish trailer.

Laughing Sinners
Laughing Sinners
DVD ~ Joan Crawford, Neil Hamilton Clark Gable
Price: $14.99
27 used & new from $9.35

3.0 out of 5 stars Heard the one about the travelling salesman and the Salvation Army gal?, February 5, 2016
This review is from: Laughing Sinners (DVD)
Heard the one about the travelling salesman and the Salvation Army gal? The second of six films Joan Crawford made with Clark Gable, 1931’s Laughing Sinners sees her as the red hot blues singer who’s just nuts about a charismatic travelling salesman – at least until he decides to marry the boss’s daughter and leaves her a Dear Joan letter written on the back of a nightclub menu and she decides to end it all until a passing Salvation Army man stops her and gives her a purpose in life. But it’s not long before her old boyfriend reappears on the scene and wants to get her out of that uniform and she’s finding his old charms much more tempting than God’s and is back dancing on the table again…

Crawford’s very much the big attraction here, initially playing off her star-making Our Dancing Daughters flapper persona, burning up the screen as a veritable ball of fire until she discovers salvation and the temptation of going back to her sinful ways and piles on the angst and self-disgust that would serve her so well in her later years at Warner Bros. If it’s a surprise to see Gable third-billed after Neil Hamilton, a major star in the silent era but destined to be eternally remembered as Commissioner Gordon in the Batman TV series, it’s a real jaw dropper that it’s Gable who’s the decent but a bit soppy reformer and Hamilton whose the irresistible Mr Excitement. Even more surprising is just how charismatic and confident Hamilton really is in the role, delivering a performance that seems almost a template for Fred MacMurray’s screen persona (at times you almost expect him to ask to borrow the key to Jack Lemmon’s apartment), easily dominating much of the film and commanding his every scene while the frequently sidelined Gable just keeps on reminding you of Trey Parker when he’s doing one of his faux misty-eyed introductions to an episode of South Park. If Gable’s clearly miscast, he was never originally intended to be in the film at all – it was originally shot as [I]Complete Surrender[/I] with John(ny) Mack Brown in his role but previewed so badly that Louis B. Mayer ordered extensive reshoots and a new co-star, with Crawford recommending Gable after working with him on [I]Dance, Fools, Dance[/I] a few months earlier.

There’s nothing here to indicate Crawford and Gable would become one of the most popular screen pairings of the Thirties and it’s melodrama through and through, but it’s executed with enough pace and panache to keep you from thinking about how hokey it all is. There’s some good pre-Code banter between the various seedy travelling salesmen, including Guy Kibbee’s purveyor of underground novelties (that’s morticians’ supplies to you and me), and a truly surreal musical number with Crawford in fake beard and carrot nose as a dancing hayseed. Much more enjoyable than it has any right to be.

Warner Archive's DVD-R offers a decent transfer but includes no extras.

Wife Versus Secretary
Wife Versus Secretary
DVD ~ Clark Gable
Offered by MoreThanMachines
Price: $9.88
57 used & new from $2.57

3.0 out of 5 stars Production line stuff, February 5, 2016
This review is from: Wife Versus Secretary (DVD)
Originally released as part of the Clark Gable Signature Collection boxed set, Wife Vs. Secretary is the kind of makeweight title you wouldn't buy on its own but which is a pleasant enough little number if you look upon it as a bonus feature. It oozes prestige - Gable's backed up by Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow and James Stewart - but much of the humor is built around cultural references that aren't just dated but are probably beyond the wit of many social historians (some so US-specific they must have left overseas audiences scratching their heads almost as much as modern ones). Then there's the little matter of Gable (playing a wealthy publisher of women's magazines!) serenading Loy or singing old army songs in a voice that sounds like a softball bouncing against a wooden fence... Still, it's an entertaining enough `women's picture.'

The Region 1 NTSC DVD also includes the original trailer and the short films New Shoes and Crime Doesn't Pay - The Public Pays.

After Office Hours (1935)
After Office Hours (1935)
DVD ~ Clark Gable
Price: $19.19
23 used & new from $15.15

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars “I wonder what could have been his reason for killing her?”“Well, they were married.”, February 5, 2016
This review is from: After Office Hours (1935) (DVD)
After Office Hours is a typically well-made trifle from MGM’s glory days in the Thirties that coasts on star power without threatening to stay in the memory. Clark Gable is the standard issue fast talking newspaper editor who thinks that “a newspaper should print any news that can be found or bought” who fires Constance Bennett’s society girl from the reviews page but has to woo her back onto the staff when he discovers she’s an old friend of the key players in a society divorce scandal he’s desperate to get the scoop on – especially when it turns into a murder. Gable may surprisingly be second billed but he gets the better character even if it is a clichéd one, the writers not able to flesh Bennett out beyond the odd society reference and standard issue battle of the sexes banter with the odd bit of tongue-in-cheek class warfare thrown in: you certainly get the feeling that MGM wanted to catch some of It Happened One Night’s magic with another tale of a streetwise newspaperman and a society heiress, but didn’t really know how and certainly didn’t want to take them out of the drawing room. The dialogue rarely sparkles but the stars play it as if it did and at times do it so well that they almost convince you they’ve got better material than they do. Henry Travers and Stuart Erwin don’t really have enough to do as Gable’s sidekicks (nor does William Demarest's cop on the case) while Billie Burke’s on hand to do her usual shtick as Bennett’s naturally pixelated and well lubricated mother and you can even spot an unbilled Margaret Dumont as a guest at a society party.

Warner Archive's DVD-R offers a decent transfer with the original trailer as an extra.

Red Dust
Red Dust
DVD ~ Clark Gable
Price: $17.99
5 used & new from $16.02

5.0 out of 5 stars "I been looking at her kind ever since my voice changed.", February 5, 2016
This review is from: Red Dust (DVD)
Red Dust sees Clark Gable at his early best in this twice remade (as Congo Maisie and Mogambo) and much-imitated romantic triangle that sees him as a two-fisted rubber plantation overseer caught between Jean Harlow's prostitute on the run and hiding out from the gendarmes until they forget about her ("I guess I'm not used to sleeping nights") and Mary Astor's more upmarket wife of Gene Raymond's hero-worshipping engineer.

Paced like a Warner Bros. picture but with MGM production values, it's great sassy entertainment with a sense of humour and probably the best example of just why Gable became THE star of the Thirties: he owns every scene and he's more than a match for monsoons, tigers and a pair of jealous women from opposite ends of the social spectrum who both want the same thing, which is okay by him. Harlow's always got most of the attention, whether shooting out wisecracks or bathing nude in a rain barrel, but Astor's almost as impressive in her very different way and certainly makes more of an impression than Grace Kelly in the remake. There's also a solid cast of human flotsam and jetsam to add colour to the sidelines in the form of a drunken and surly Donald Crisp, a grizzled Tully Marshall, Forrester Havey as the obligatory cockney (every colonial picture must have one) and Willie Fung as the comic relief native servant (ditto). Everything may end up exactly as you expect, but when it's done this well it's more a cause for celebration than complaint.

Despite being one of Gable's most popular pictures, it's taken a surprisingly long time for this to reach DVD, and then only as a manufactured on demand DVD-R in the US. Thankfully it's a very good transfer, though the only extra is the Spanish trailer, which includes what was probably a specially shot scene that offers a different take on the film's climax.

To Please a Lady [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.0 Import - Spain ]
To Please a Lady [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.0 Import - Spain ]
DVD ~ Clark Gable
6 used & new from $17.71

3.0 out of 5 stars No classic but a nicely tuned star vehicle that doesn’t disappoint, February 5, 2016
If it’s remembered at all today, 1950’s To Please a Lady is remembered either as the film who failure caused Clark Gable to drop out of the Top Ten Box-office stars list or as the race driving film that Gizmo is so enamoured of in Gremlins, but it’s a pretty enjoyable if solidly formulaic late Clark Gable picture. Gable’s the most ruthless driver on the midget car circuit – not, it has to be said, a sport it’s easy for a star like Gable to look good in – a war hero turned the crowd’s favourite villain until a fatal accident and gossip columnist Barbara Stanwyck’s poisonous puff piece gets him blacklisted from every circuit in the country. Reduced to stunt driving in a thrill circus he saves enough money to put a down payment on a full sized racing car courtesy of Will Geer and works his way up to the big time and, wouldn’t you know it, Stanwyck follows his progress from the sidelines and becomes increasingly enamoured of him. But will he, as her cynical aide Adolph Menjou warns, prove just as homicidally reckless playing with the big boys?

It’s the kind of film where you can fill in all the plot developments and character beats, but it delivers them with enough skill and polish courtesy of director Clarence Brown to keep you watching and involved. The racing scenes are certainly incredibly dated even when the action finally reaches the Indy 500 (filmed during the actual 1950 race), giving it the feel of a museum piece (as does one slightly clumsy painted backdrop on a nighttime track encounter between the two stars) but in their first film together since 1931’s Night Nurse both stars are on strong form with enough opportunities to do what they do best to please their fans, throwing in a nice balance of romance and non-nonsense manliness to please Mr and Mrs Middle America. No classic but a nicely tuned star vehicle that doesn’t disappoint.

The Spanish PAL DVD offers decent picture quality with English and Spanish soundtrack options but no extras.

Betrayed (1954)
Betrayed (1954)
DVD ~ Lana Turner, Victor Mature Clark Gable
Price: $14.99
29 used & new from $10.25

3.0 out of 5 stars “A spy has no character. He merely assumes one.”, December 15, 2015
This review is from: Betrayed (1954) (DVD)
Betrayed is an entertaining bit of behind the lines hokum that sees Clark Gable passing through the gates at MGM for the final time as a Dutch secret agent rescued from the Nazis by Victor Mature’s colourful resistance leader ‘The Scarf,’ and whisked back to London where, against his better judgement, he trains Lana Turner to go undercover as liaison between the British and Mature. Her husband was one of the hostages shot after Gable’s escape, but he’s more concerned about her black market past and her previous liaisons with German officers and is unconvinced by her declarations of love for a husband she didn’t care about until he died. And when Mature’s group start incurring ever-higher losses after she’s parachuted into Holland, it looks like his suspicions were right, but by then he’s already fallen in love with her…

The production values are impressive, with the cast and not just their doubles filming on location in Holland and the UK, the supporting players sometimes surprising (alongside Wilfred Hyde-White’s amiable but ruthless intelligence officer there’s also Ian Carmichael as his aide), and the background to the debacle at Arnhem is unusual for its day. Just as surprising is the fact that Gable disappears for most of the middle of the movie as the emphasis shifts to Turner as the girl everyone falls for but no-one trusts, hiding behind an impenetrable disguise of mousy glasses that she loses when slipping into a cocktail dress to sing torch songs to appreciative Nazis like Ferdy Mayne and, naturally, Anton Diffring, whose idea of a pickup line is responding to her asking if he’s ever been to England, with “Frequently. I bombed London.”

Then there’s Victor Mature, always an undervalued actor, but a wildly erratic one: when he's great, he's great, but when he's bad he's hilarious. This isn’t one of his great ones. While Clark Gable and Lana Turner play the hokum straight, Vic really overdoes the exuberance: his mother-obsessed resistance leader 'The Scarf' laughs with gusto at danger, laughs with gusto at romance, laughs with gusto at bad jokes, laughs with gusto at bottles of whisky and laughs with gusto at anything else that'll give him a chance to show off his perfect dentistry as he jumps through windows and kills 76% of the German army single-handed. It's like his After the Fox role dialled up to 12. Part of it comes down to the hokum factor: he knows he's in a bit of big-budget nonsense and embraces the absurdities of a childlike character who enjoys doing all the things that would get him locked up in peacetime, while lines like “Morons! All they ever think about is women. Hey, hey, hey – don’t move. I’m a moron myself at times” don’t exactly encourage restraint or a straight face, and his character always being accompanied by his own hurdy gurdy theme music implies the studio was in on the joke. But a lot of it seems to be that he was one of those actors who needed a really strong director to rein him in and get the best out of him. All his best work is with strong directors who saw what he was capable of and knew how to get it, and Gottfried Reinhardt clearly wasn’t one of them.

Yet somehow, despite or perhaps because of the odd mixture of straight-faced romantic heroics and Boy’s Own silliness, it somehow holds together as an entertaining bit of studio era hokum. It’s just a shame that Warner Archive’s DVD-R doesn’t do justice to Freddie Young’s much-praised cinematography with a transfer that is surprisingly soft and blurred for much of the first half hour before finally settling down into something a bit more acceptable.

Run Silent, Run Deep [Blu-ray]
Run Silent, Run Deep [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Clark Gable
Price: $18.99
21 used & new from $13.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "You're going back because you've been through it. Because you have to go back.", December 15, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Originally intended to reunite Destination Tokyo's Cary Grant and Delmar Daves, Run Silent Run Deep sees Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster at odds in what still holds up as one of the best submarine movies thanks to tight direction from Robert Wise and a solid script that manages to throw in a few surprises alongside the expected staples of the genre. Having spent the past year at a desk in Pearl Harbor sinking models of the Japanese destroyer that sunk his submarine, Gable finally manages to talk his way back into a command on the express condition that he avoids the graveyard spot where his and so many other ships have been lost. Unfortunately it's the command that senior executive officer Lancaster was promised, and if that doesn't cause enough friction, Gable's unexpected behaviour (for the crew if not the audience) adds more ballast to the simmering tension between them as it becomes apparent the crew may be on a one-way ticket because he feels more responsibility to a dead crew and a dead sub than the current live ones. It's the same dynamic that would become a genre staple in everything from Gray Lady Down to Wise's later Star Trek The Motion Picture, but it's given added fuel here by the real life antagonism between the two stars on set.

Their face-off is a long time coming but there's plenty to keep things lively in the interim as Gable's plan inevitably goes wrong, it becomes clear that the Japanese were expecting them and they find an unexplained signal. And once the crew rallies for a return engagement there's a couple of neat twists and a particularly gripping game of cat and mouse and near misses that benefit from some excellent blocking of the underwater sequences that make each torpedo run particularly suspenseful. There's a good supporting cast - Jack Warden, Brad Dexter, Don Rickles and Lancaster's old circus partner Nick Cravat in a rare speaking role among them - and the 93-minute running time keeps things from getting slack.

Kino Lorber's Region A-locked Blu-ray offers an occasionally variable 1.66:1 widescreen transfer - most shots have excellent clarity and depth, some look softer and at times in the first couple of reels there are shots where the left side of the frame seems slightly out of focus while the right is pin-sharp even when it's clearly not an artistic choice - but for the most part pretty good. Like MGM/UA's DVD, the only extra is the original theatrical trailer.

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20