FEATURES


  

Cast: Fred Astaire, Jane Powell, Peter Lawford, Sarah Churchill, Keenan Wynn, Albert Sharpe
Running Time: 93 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

Besides being the film made immortal by Fred Astaire's dancing-on-the-ceiling number, "You're All The World To Me," Royal Wedding marked the beginning of a golden year for M-G-M producer Arthur Freed, one that would later include the musical triumphs Show Boat and An American In Paris. Directed by Stanley Donen and featuring music by Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane, Royal Wedding dazzled with innovative camera work and top-notch tunes. Astaire and Powell had three duets: "Ev'ry Night At Seven," " I Left My Hat In Haiti," and "Open Your Eyes." "Too Late Now," written especially for Powell's range and timbre, earned an Oscar® nomination for Best Song. Then there's Astaire's other big solo turn, "Sunday Jumps," wherein the star dances with a hat rack and other items inside the ocean liner's gymnasium.


  

Cast: Pia Zadora, Jamie Farr, Charles G. Renn, Doris Rich, Al Nesor
Running Time: 80 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

This 1964 science fiction film regularly appears on lists of the worst films ever made and is regularly featured in the "bottom 100" list on the Internet Movie Database! It also includes an 8-year-old Pia Zadora playing the role of one of the Martian children - don't miss it. Alien invaders kidnap everyone's favorite right jolly old elf in this low-budget mixture of children's comedy and sci-fi adventure. Christmas is not far away, and countless children are glued to their family's TV sets, watching reports about Santa Claus (John Call). However, this is happening on Mars, and leaders of the Red Planet aren't sure what to do for their kids who are pining away for a visit from the gift-bearing earthling. Martian leader Kimar (Leonard Hicks) dispatches two of his emissaries, the chronically grumpy Voldar (Vincent Beck) and the moronically cheerful Dropo (Bill McCutcheon), to Earth to bring Santa back for a visit. After arriving on Earth, Voldar and Dropo abduct two children, Betty (Donna Conforti) and Billy (Victor Stiles), and order the kids to show them the way to Santa's workshop, from which all three are taken to Mars against their will. As Santa, Betty, and Billy try to find a way back to Earth, Voldar becomes enraged with the Earth kids, while the children bond more comfortably with the intellectually-challenged Dropo. Shot on a shoestring budget on Long Island, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians has developed a rabid cult following over the years, and yes, it's true, Kimar's daughter Girmar really is played by a ten-year-old Pia Zadora.


  

Cast: Bela Lugosi, George Zucco, Nat Pendleton, Molly Lamont
Running Time: 68 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

From a slab in the morgue, a dead woman tells her story of how she got there, through a maze of murder involving a hypnotist, a midget and a mysterious figure in a blue mask. And an ex-cop who can’t seem to do anything right may just end up solving the crime. The only color film to star Bela Lugosi.


  

Cast: Seymour Hicks, Donald Calthrop, Robert Cochran, Mary Glynne, Garry Marsh
Running Time: 77 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

This rarely seen uncut version of the Dicken's classic "A Christmas Carol", the tale of a heartless miser who discovers the true meaning of Christmas when three ghosts visit him on Christmas Eve, is certainly one of the best. It features the marvelous performance of the legendary English stage actor, Sir Seymour Hicks. In the beginning, his Scrooge is one of the nastiest ever, looking like something that crawled out from under a rock, however it is precisely these qualities that make his gradual transformation all the more amazing. At the beginning, we loathe the man, at the end, we rejoice with him at his redemption. Hicks co-wrote the screenplay to this film, which is a thoroughly entertaining and effective retelling of a familiar story.


  

Cast: Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright, MacDonald Carey, Henry Travers, Patricia Collinge, Hume Cronyn
Running Time: 103 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

The suspenseful tenor of dramatics associated with director Alfred Hitchcock is utilized here to good advantage in unfolding a story of a small town and the arrival of what might prove to be a murderer -- "Shadow of a Doubt" was Alfred Hitchcock's favorite film. Teresa Wright plays Charlie, a small-town high-schooler who enjoys a symbiotic relationship with her favorite uncle, also named Charlie (Joseph Cotten). When young Charlie "wills" that old Charlie pay a visit to her family, her wish comes true. Uncle Charlie is his usual charming self, but he seems a bit secretive and reserved at times. Too, his manner of speaking is curiously unsettling, especially when he brings up the subject of rich widows, whom he characterizes as "swine." When a pair of detectives (MacDonald Carey and Wallace Ford), posing as magazine writers, arrive in town and begin asking questions about Uncle Charlie, young Charlie's curiosity is aroused. Why, for example, has Uncle Charlie torn an article out of the evening newspaper? Rushing to the library, Young Charlie locates the missing item: the headline screams WHO IS THE MERRY WIDOW MURDERER? As the horrified Charlie reads on, the conclusion is inescapable: her beloved Uncle Charlie is a mass murderer, preying upon wealthy old women. And what happens next? Thornton Wilder, Sally Benson, and Alma Reville (Mrs. Hitchcock) based their screenplay on a story by Gordon McDowell, who in turn was inspired by real-life "Merry Widow Murderer" Earle Leonard Nelson. The casting, from stars to bit players, is impeccable; the best of the batch is Hume Cronyn, making his film debut as a wimpy murder-mystery aficionado. Lensed on location in Santa Rosa, California.


  

Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Lionel Atwill, Kaaren Verne, William Post Jr., Dennis Hoey
Running Time: 68 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

The second of Universal's "modernized" Sherlock Holmes films pits the Great Detective (Basil Rathbone, of course) against that "Napoleon of Crime," Professor Moriarty (Lionel Atwill). Surpassing his previous skullduggery, Moriarty has now aligned himself with the Nazis and has dedicated himself to stealing a top-secret bomb sight developed by expatriate European scientist Dr. Franz Tobel (William Post Jr.). Before being kidnapped by Moriarty's minions, Tobel was enterprising enough to disassemble his invention and distribute its components among several other patriotic scientists. Racing against the clock, Holmes and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) try to stem the murders of Tobel's colleagues and prevent Moriarty from getting his mitts on the precious secret weapon. The now-famous climax finds Holmes playing for time by allowing Moriarty to drain all the blood from his body, drop by drop ("The needle to the last, eh Holmes?" gloats the villain). Dennis Hoey makes his first appearance as the dull-witted, conclusion-jumping Inspector Lestrade. Constructed more like a serial than a feature film, Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (based loosely on Conan Doyle's The Dancing Men) is one of the fastest-moving entries in the series.


  

Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Patricia Morison, Edmund Breon, Frederick Worlock
Running Time: 72 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

Directed by Roy William Neill. Screenplay by Leonard Lee. The final entry in the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes series. Based on the prolific Sir Arthur Conan Doyle mysteries, Sherlock Holmes is on the job again. This time the inmate of a British prison has incorporated stolen Bank of England engraving plates into a series of music boxes he has made and multiple criminals are out to find them. Holmes must be first. It's a joy to see Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce working for the last time in the series.


  

Cast: Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, Joe Keaton, Erwin Connelly, Ward Crane
Running Time: 44 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

Buster Keaton's masterpiece is a delightfully surreal fantasy of a film projectionist and amateur detective who climbs into his movie screen. Like Daffy Duck in the famous cartoon "Duck Amuck," Buster is at the mercy of sudden scene changes, sent from desert to snowstorm to lake in simple cuts while he remains helplessly fixed onscreen. (Even more astounding is that he accomplished this engineering marvel with nothing more than surveyor's tools and an exacting eye.) Settling into his dream role as a master detective and society bon vivant Sherlock Jr., he chases the dastardly villains in a world as wild and unpredictable as the French serial "Les Vampires": bombs are hidden in billiard balls and Keaton leaps through the torso of a peddler woman and into nothingness! No other silent film turns logic on its head with such grace and comic hilarity.


  

Cast: Buster Keaton, Jimmy Durante, Ruth Selwyn, Thelma Todd, Hedda Hopper, Sidney Toler
Running Time: 80 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

Buster Keaton is a naive, bookish Professor Post (of Potts College) who inherits a huge amount of money and decides that now he can afford to go out and enjoy life. He falls for a dancer in a bad stage show, and with his new money decides to buy the show and take it to Broadway. Will the Professor prove too nice to succeed in show business? Or will he triumph over bill-collectors, critics, and sexy vamp Eleanor Espere? Buster Keaton was probably the greatest comedic actor/director to ever live, which makes his unceremonious downfall during his stint in MGM's studio system all the more saddening. "Speak Easily" was one of the first of a series of assembly-line films spat out by MGM during its 'ownership' of Keaton, and it's a dim reflection of the genius seen in Keaton's independent productions. That said, it's still an enjoyable, amusing film, filled with that gleefully reckless charm of 1930s comedy; it even has Jimmy Durante doing his iconic shtick, although his comedic style doesn't really mesh with Keaton's. A fascinating look at the beginning of Keaton's decline.



  

Cast: Bela Lugosi, Leo Gorcey, Bobby Jordan, Huntz Hall
Running Time: 65 mins.
Vault: FEATURES

A spooktacular classic! In Spooks Run Wild, their first outing with Lugosi, The East Side Kids ship out to a mountain camp where they learn of a "monster killer" prowling the area. When Peewee (David Gorcey) is accidentally shot in a cemetery, the boys ask for help from Nardo (Lugosi), an old man who lives in the creepy mansion nearby. Nardo gives them shelter. Later that night, the boys see Peewee roaming the old house as if in a trance. Has he been turned into a zombie?

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