Friday, November 16, 2018

Thursday, Nov. 15 - Mr. Wong in Chinatown

Mr. Wong in Chinatown (1939)

Cunning private eye Mr. Wong (Boris Karloff) is on the case once more after a beautiful Chinese princess (Lotus Long) is murdered in his San Francisco home. Before succumbing to a venomous dart, the princess scribbles "Captain J" -- but is this a hint to her killer's identity or another piece of the mysterious puzzle? As more victims are killed by the same dart gun, Wong tracks the clues to a certain Capt. Jaime (William Royle), and finds himself knee-deep in a check forgery scam.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Wednesday, Nov. 14 - Maisie Was a Lady

Maisie Was a Lady (1941)

When wealthy drunkard Bob Rawlston (Lew Ayres) causes Maisie to lose her carnival sideshow job as the Headless Woman, he offers her the use of his car to get to town. She is stopped and arrested by a motorcycle policeman who recognizes the automobile. When Maisie tells her story to the judge, Bob remembers enough despite a hangover to admit that he probably did lend her the car.

The judge orders Bob to hire her for two months at $25 a week, the terms of her previous employment. She refuses to accept money for nothing, but offers to work as a maid at the Rawlston family mansion. Bob hands her over to the head butler (C. Aubrey Smith), who has worked for the family for 30 years.

One of the guests, Link Phillips (Edward Ashley), makes a pass at her the next morning, but she disdainfully rejects him. The other guests ridicule her for her lack of refinement. Bob's sister, Abby (Maureen O'Sullivan), apologizes for her friends' rudeness and takes Maisie as her personal maid.

Maisie learns that Bob and Abby's father "Cap" (Paul Cavanagh) has been away frequently. When Cap sends word that he will be unable to attend the announcement of his daughter's engagement, Abby is deeply disappointed. Maisie becomes distressed when she learns that Link is Abby's fiancé.

Diana Webley (Joan Perry), Link's jilted girlfriend and Abby's former friend, arrives determined to avenge herself. Abby is devastated when she discovers that Link is only marrying her for her wealth, and that all her friends knew about it and secretly were laughing at her. She tries to commit suicide. The doctors have little hope because Abby has lost her will to live.

When Cap arrives, Maisie severely criticizes him for neglecting his children, explaining that Abby sought from Link the love and support she did not get from her father, and that Bob has become a drunk. Seeing the error of his ways, Cap reconciles with Abby. He announces that the whole family will take a vacation together once Abby has recovered.

Maisie and Bob have fallen in love. She considers the possibility, but decides that the social gulf between them is too great. She leaves and joins a vaudeville show. Bob tracks her down, overcomes her resistance, and embraces her.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Tuesday, Nov. 13 - The Baroness and the Butler

The Baroness and the Butler (1938)

Johann Porok, a third-generation butler in the service of Count Albert Sandor, the Prime Minister of Hungary, is unexpectedly elected to the Hungarian parliament, representing the opposition social progressive party. Despite this, he insists on remaining a servant as well. Count Sandor is pleased with this peculiar arrangement, as he has found Johann to be the perfect butler and does not wish to break in a new man. His daughter, Baroness Katrina Marissey, however, considers Johann a traitor and treats him very coldly.

In parliament, Johann attacks the Prime Minister, his employer, for yearly promising much to the poor underclass and delivering nothing, always citing "difficulties". To Katrina's puzzlement, the Count is not offended in the least and remains quite friendly with Johann. Within three months, Johann becomes the leader of his party. Katrina becomes more and more furious, finally throwing her purse and striking Johann in parliament during one of his scathing speeches. When his colleagues assume it was thrown by someone from the ruling conservative party, a brawl breaks out, and Johann and the Prime Minister hastily depart. Baron Georg Marissey, Katrina's husband and another member of parliament, later informs them that a vote of confidence was held after they left; the Count lost and will have to resign as Prime Minister. He is pleased to be able to spend more time with his wife. However, he reluctantly discharges Johann, as he has been neglecting his duties as head butler. They part good friends.

When Katrina holds a ball, her ambitious husband invites Johann without her knowledge. Left alone together, Katrina gradually warms to Johann. Then he confesses that he loves her, and that is why he is trying to better himself, even though he knows his cause is hopeless. Katrina embraces and kisses him. They are interrupted by Georg and Major Andros, another ardent admirer of Katrina. In private, Georg offers to divorce Katrina in return for Johann nominating him for the office of Minister of Commerce. Despite Katrina's strong opposition, Johann does just that in parliament. However, Katrina denounces the bargain in public, and Georg is forced to leave the parliamentary chamber in disgrace. In the final scene, Johann Porok is served breakfast in bed by the "maid", Katrina, who is revealed to be Mrs. Porok.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Monday, Nov. 12 - Alfred Hitchcock Presents: A Bullet for Baldwin

Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1962): A Bullet for Baldwin (Season 1 | Episode 14 - aired 1 January 1956)

Mr. Stepp has just been fired from Baldwin, King & Co., and he goes to see Baldwin one more time to plead for his job. When Baldwin refuses to discuss it, Stepp takes a gun from his desk drawer, returns to Baldwin's office, and shoots him to death. After wandering the streets aimlessly, Stepp decides to go back to his lodgings to wait to be arrested. Instead, he is awakened by a telephone call from Baldwin's secretary, asking why he is not at work. When Stepp arrives at the office, Baldwin is alive and well, and everyone acts as if nothing is out of the ordinary. The baffled Stepp even gets his job back.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Sunday, Nov. 11 - Hidden Fear

Hidden Fear (1957)

American policeman Mike Brent (John Payne) arrives in Denmark to help clear his sister of a murder rap in which her partner/boyfriend has been killed, and all the evidence leads to her having been the murderer. Mike works with the Danish Police, but becomes embroiled in a counterfeiters' plot in which the boyfriend was a member.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Saturday, Nov. 10 - The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Norwood Builder

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1984–1985): The Norwood Builder (Season 2 | Episode 3 - aired 8 September 1985)

Knowing that he is about to be arrested for murder, John Hector McFarlane asks for Sherlock Holmes' assistance in establishing his innocence. McFarlane is a solicitor who was visited the previous day by Jonas Oldacre who wanted to draw up a will. McFarlane was astonished to learn that Oldacre was naming him as the beneficiary of his fortune. McFarlane had never met the man who claimed to have known his parents long ago and having no issue of his own, wanted to leave everything to him. McFarlane drew up the papers and called at Oldacre's home that evening to have everything signed but sometime in the night the man was killed and the body burned beyond all recognition. Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard thinks he has an open and shut case but after Holmes interviews McFarlane's mother, he thinks there is something else afoot.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Friday, Nov. 9 - Bluebeard's Eighth Wife

Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1938)

On the French Riviera, wealthy businessman Michael Brandon wants to buy pajamas, but just the tops. When the store refuses to sell them without the pants, they are at an impasse. An attractive woman named Nicole offers to buy the bottoms.

At the hotel where he is staying, Michael has trouble sleeping, so the managers offer him a suite on a higher floor, further away from the sounds of the sea. The suite is occupied by the Marquis de Loiselle, who is two months in arrears. The penniless marquis, as it turns out, had sent Michael a business proposition, which Michael turns down. The marquis then offers to sell him a bathtub supposed owned by King Louis XIV, which he also rejects. Then Michael recognizes the mismatched pajama bottoms the marquis is wearing and, after discovering that Nicole is the man's daughter, buys the bathtub. He then pursues Nicole and proposes to her the same day. She turns him down, but eventually changes her mind and accepts.

However, she is horrified to learn that Michael has been married seven times before. She calls off the wedding, much to her father's dismay. Michael explains that he gives each of his wives a prenuptial agreement guaranteeing $50,000 a year for life if they divorce. He gives in when Nicole demands double that amount.

During their honeymoon and afterward in their home in Paris, Nicole keeps her discontented husband at arm's length, hoping to obtain a divorce, but that only strengthens his natural tenacity. After reading Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, he tries to follow Petruchio's example, but Nicole proves too strong for him.

She writes anonymous letters to him claiming that she has a lover, but Monsieur Pepinard, the private detective he hires, assures him that there is nothing to it. Nicole then blackmails Pepinard into finding her a fake lover, a boxer named Kid Mulligan, so Michael can catch her alone with him. Complications ensue when her friend Count Albert De Regnier picks the wrong time to return a purse she left behind and is mistaken for her husband by Kid Mulligan (and knocked out). Michael assumes that Albert is her lover and finally gives her a divorce.

Six months later, Michael has a nervous breakdown. Nicole tries to see him in the sanitarium, but is not allowed in. Luckily, Michael has been put into a straitjacket after spotting her father, who has arranged for her to get in. Nicole tells Michael that she loved him at first sight, but had to break him of his habit of marrying so often. Now that she is financially independent, she explains, he can see that she does not want to (re)marry him for his money. He frees himself from his straitjacket, advances on her menacingly, then embraces her.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Thursday, Nov. 8 - One More Time

One More Time (1970)

Follow-up to Salt and Pepper where Peter Lawford and Sammy Davis Jr. played two very middle-aged swingers running a night spot called Salt and Pepper. This time around the two get into trouble for repeated problems and ask Lawford's lookalike brother (yes, he plays him as well) for money. Turns out he is a Lord and owns the family castle given up by Pepper so long ago. Also turns out he is involved in smuggling diamonds and is a double agent, etc... Lawford's brother is killed and Lawford as Pepper assumes his brother's role and hilarity is to ensue...

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Wednesday, Nov. 7 - To Be or Not to Be

To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Acting couple Joseph (Jack Benny) and Maria Tura (Carole Lombard) are managing a theatrical troupe when the Nazis invade Poland. Maria is having an affair with Lieutenant Sobinski (Robert Stack), who suspects Professor Siletsky (Stanley Ridges) is a Nazi spy. With Siletsky in possession of a list of members of the Polish resistance, the Turas' company takes action. Using their skill for impersonation, Joseph and company must confuse the Nazis and stop Siletsky from handing over the list.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Tuesday, Nov. 6 - What Price Hollywood?

What Price Hollywood? (1932)

Brown Derby waitress Mary Evans (Constance Bennett) is an aspiring actress who has an opportunity to meet film director Maximillan Carey (Lowell Sherman) when she serves him one night. He is very drunk but is charmed by the young girl, and he invites her to a premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Adhering to his policy of living life with a sense of humor, he picks her up in a jalopy rather than a limousine and then gives the parking valet the car as a tip.

Max takes Mary home with him after the event, but the next morning remembers nothing about the previous night. She reminds him he promised her a screen test and expresses concern about his excessive drinking and flippant attitude, but he tells her not to worry.

Mary's first screen test reveals she has far more ambition than talent, and she begs for another chance. After extensive rehearsals, she shoots the scene again, and producer Julius Saxe (Gregory Ratoff) is pleased with the result and signs her to a contract. Just as quickly as Mary achieves stardom, Max finds his career on the decline, and he avoids a romantic relationship with her for fear she will be caught up in his downward spiral.

Mary meets polo player Lonny Borden (Neil Hamilton). He genuinely loves her and, although he is jealous of the demands made on her by her career, he convinces her to marry him, against Julius and Max's better judgment. Lonny becomes increasingly annoyed by the dedication of his movie star wife to her work, and finally walks out on her. After their divorce is finalized, Mary discovers she is pregnant.

Mary wins the Academy Award for Best Actress, but her moment of glory is disrupted when she's called upon to post bail for Max after he's arrested for drunk driving. She takes him to her home, where he wallows in self-pity despite her encouragement. Later, alone in Mary's dressing room, he stares at his dissolute image in the mirror and compares it to a photograph of himself in earlier days. Finding a gun in a drawer, he kills himself with a bullet to the chest.

Mary becomes the center of gossip focusing on Max's suicide. Hoping to heal her emotional wounds, she flees to Paris with her son and reunites with Lonny, who begs her to forgive him and give their marriage another chance.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Monday, Nov. 5 - Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Diamond Tooth

Sherlock Holmes (1954–1955): The Case of the Diamond Tooth (Season 1 | Episode 38 - aired 19 September 1955)

While walking along the banks of the River Thames, Watson finds a diamond tooth. The article takes on more meaning later, however, when Holmes learns that the body of a murder victim had been discovered near where Watson found the tooth.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Sunday, Nov. 4 - The Casino Murder Case

The Casino Murder Case (1935)

When Philo Vance receives a note that harm will befall Lynn Llewellyn at the casino that night, he takes the threat seriously while the DA dismisses it. At the casino owned by Uncle Kinkaid, Lynn is indeed poisoned under the watchful eye of Philo. However, he recovers, but the same cannot be said for Lynn's wife Virginia, who is at the family home. Only a family member could have poisoned Lynn and Virginia and everyone has their dark motives. Philo will follow the clues and find the perpetrator.