|Twins Bert and Mert (far left and right) were played by Peter Whitney.|
The oddball brood's final member, bed-ridden Grandma Fleagle (Mabel Paige), is being slowly poisoned--with a substance that makes her glow in the dark--because she knows where Bonnie and her bank-robber pa stashed $70,000 before being caught. Mamie and company coerce Pete into posing as Bonnie’s boyfriend so that Grandma might confide in him before dying. She gives him a sampler whose stitched musical notes (“To them what doesn’t know the tune, sounds like the ravin’s of a loon”) offer a clue. A hitch arises when the fugitive Bonnie (Helen Walker) arrives...sort of. "Bonnie" is really the daughter of a banker wrongly convicted of aiding the Fleagles. Can she and Pete decipher the nonsensical-sounding lyrics (“Honors flysis, Income beezis, Onches nobis, Inob keesis”) Elany sings to the sampler’s melody?
Like 1940's The Ghost Breakers (which this movie mentions in one scene; both were directed by George Marshall for Paramount), Murder, He Says briskly delivers heapin' helpin's of laughs and chills. Along with a dinner which a Lazy Susan-style table and a poisoned dish turn a gastronomic Russian Roulette game, there are chases through secret passages and a climactic barnyard battle with a hay-bailing machine. The bone-riddled decor of the Fleagles’ run-down abode predates the Texas Chain Saw Massacre house, and a luminous dog–one of Hall’s test animals–running through the woods could have come from The Hound of the Baskervilles.
|Helen Walker and Fred MacMurray.|
Oh, and the NPR theme? Listen to Elany sing Gramdma’s song. Doesn’t it sound like the opening notes to “All Things Considered?”
Recommended and reviewed by Silver Screenings
Scott of the Antarctic (1948). Have you ever wanted to go on an adventure that tests you so thoroughly you don't know if you'll come through it intact?
If so, you might be interested in the 1948 British adventure flick, Scott of the Antarctic, a grim re-enactment of Robert Falcon Scott's 1911-12 expedition to the South Pole. Scott, a former naval officer, is consumed with being the first person to reach the South Pole.
As you might imagine, Scott and his team are up against it on all sides. Not only must they contend with the weather and inhospitable landscape, they're racing against another team, led by famed Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. Amundsen is never shown in the film, but he is an ever-present monkey on Scott's back.
Much of the movie was filmed in the desolate snow of Norway. The actors pull heavy sleds through deep snow and pour tea inside cramped tents. No scenes shot in front of a green screen here; this filmmaking is about authentic as it gets.
It’s not a movie that spares you the savage realities of travelling through the Antarctic. Prior to embarking on his expedition, Scott is advised not to bring motorized sleds. Dogs are much more useful, he is told, because once "a dog is finished, he is still useful to the other dogs."
|Man vs. the harsh elements.|
Then there's James Robertson Justice, who plays injured team member Evans. In one scene, there is a close-up of Justice against the bitter white snow: his face reveals his determination despite his physical pain; then the realization that he is unable keep up with the others; and, finally, the knowledge that he's going to die, here, at the bottom of the world.
The legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff has captured amazing images: penguins squirting out of the water and onto the ice; stark white icebergs resting in the ocean; sled dogs breaking out of drifts of snow after a night's sleep.
Scott of the Antarctic is a haunting movie that was the #4 box-office draw in Britain in 1948. It is arguably one of the best adventure movies made.