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  • Death Goes to School

    Death Goes to School

    ★★★

    I do love a whodunnit where the instant you see an acting personage, you think "oh I hope it's them" - and then you're proved to have guessed correctly. This is a cheap as chips detective yarn set in a girls' school which has a reasonable plot, is moderately entertaining and boasts lengthy screen time from legendary Belfast bit-part player Sam Kydd.

    It also features Gordon Jackson in an early dry run for his turn as Bodie and Doyle's boss…

  • Cynara

    Cynara

    ★★★

    Kay Francis is not an actress who has aged particularly well. Her early 30s moment in the sun has seen her eclipsed by much more natural or much more flamboyant performers. She has a classy presence but telegraphs her emotions too obviously.

    In Cynara she is Ronnie Colman's wife who is done wrong by him. Not because he is one of the dissolute rogues that my friend Jamawive is so partial to, but because he is too gosh darned nice…

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  • Ball of Fire

    Ball of Fire

    ★★★★★

    To some dear readers there may be an element of sacrilege in the following query, but what makes this a Howard Hawks film? This is a Billy Wilder film. The story originated with him and the script (from him and Charles Brackett) is filled with obvious Wilderisms, toying with the English language and sexual mores in his uniquely mischievous Viennese fashion. As one of the exchanges between professor and gangster goes:
    'You don't mind if we talk, do you?'
    'Just…

  • Mystery of the Wax Museum

    Mystery of the Wax Museum

    ★★★★

    As much as I love Fay Wray and her legendary lungs of scream, this is Glenda Farrell's picture. She's fabulous as the hard-bitten, wisecrackin' reporter and has literally all the best lines - "You can go to some nice, warm place - and I don't mean California!"; "I've been in love so many times, my heart's calloused"; "You raise the kids, I'll raise the roof. I'd rather die of an arthritic heart from shaking cocktails and daiquiris than expire in…