The filmed stage play THREE-CORNERED MOON (1933) is an early screwball comedy in which Claudette Colbert and her wealthy family have to hustle for income when it turns out Mom’s bad investments have wiped out their late father’s money (“Was it perhaps in the fall of 1929?”). Familiar (as TYG says, it’s not that far off Arrested Development) but nicely done, though rather low-key in the resolution. “They said the Depression would end when they brought back beer—I bought ten bottles but it doesn’t seem to have helped.” (All rights to image with current holder)
The same DVD also has Colbert as a MAID OF SALEM (1937) who has the bad luck to be not only the daughter of a convicted English witch but unable to explain the truth behind her meeting a Mysterious Figure in the dark of night (because it’s Fred MacMurray and he’s a fugitive) so everyone assumes it’s Satan. Competent, but lacks the punch of The Crucible, both because of a dashing, last-minute rescue (reminding me of the film-within-a-film in The Player) and the town immediately realizing it’s been in the wrong. The cast includes Beulah Bondi as an older woman, Bonita Granville as chief accuser (so These Three is the obvious match) and Donald Crisp and E.E. Clive among those hunting witches. “I pray not for mercy but that God awaken you!”
PUPPET MASTER (1989) launched Full Moon’s most successful series besides Trancers: a group of psychics visit a scenic old hotel where an old friend recently committed suicide, only to fall victim to the legendary living puppets created by the mad alchemist Toulon (William Hickey) decades earlier. This squeezes more stuff in than it can handle (dreams of doom, psychics, killer puppets, immortality seekers) and it’s too murky on key plot points. Still entertaining if you’re okay with people done in by puppets in gory ways. “Will you explain the metaphysics of this to her?”
PUPPET MASTER II (1991) is, as I remembered, a vast improvement, as Toulon himself returns and discovers one of the new crop of psychics at the motel is the exact double of his late wife. Faster moving an more coherent than the original; Nita Talbot plays one of the victims. “Her brain was extracted through her nose.”
Returning to my Woody Allen viewing, the DVD of Bullets over Broadway isn’t Netflixable so I moved past it to DON’T DRINK THE WATER (1994) the second and much superior adaptation of Woody Allen’s Cold War farce (that it’s now a period piece is shown by opening with a newsreel to set the background). Allen plays a vacationing caterer who triggers an international incident, Julie Kavner is hiw wife and Mayim Bialik is the daughter who falls for inept diplomat Michael J. Fox. (“In Panama he was hung in effigy—by our own embassy.”). Austin Pendleton plays a chef, Dom DeLuise is a priest with a fondness for stage magic and Edward Herrman is a less than happy embassy official; a fun production as a whole “I wanted to kiss her last night, but her lips were chapped and I didn’t want to cause her pain.
MACHETE KILLS (2013) has Danny Trejo once again slicing up everyone in sight to take down a corrupt millionaire, in this case Mel Gibson who has an evil plot to rip off Moonraker (wipe out the world while he and his followers watch from space). This goes through the motions but doesn’t go beyond that—and it doesn’t help that the main female characters (Jessica Alba gets whacked early on) are a psycho hooker (Sofia Vergara) and a murderous beauty queen (Lady Gaga). “I thought Machete didn’t text?”