(2013/Fox Blu-ray w/DVD)/Perry
Mason: The Original Warner Bros. Movies Collection
(1935 - 1937/Warner Archive DVDs)/Seven
Keys To Baldpate Triple Feature
(1929, 1935, 1947/RKO/Warner Archive DVDs)
C+/B- & C/C/C+ Sound: B-/B & C+/C+/C+ Extras:
C-/C-/C-/D Films: C-/C-/B-/C+
Keys To Baldpate
DVD sets are now only available from Warner Bros. through their
Warner Archive series and can both be ordered from the link below.
thrillers are not easy to make, so here we have two new ones that are
total duds and some older ones that sometimes worked...
(2013 and not to be confused with similarly titled films by Steve
McQueen and Alec Baldwin) has Ethan Hawke as a man whose wife has
been kidnapped and has to do what a mysterious voice (Jon Voight)
tells him to do or the wife will be murdered. This wants to be Phone
Booth on wheels, but
lands up being Blair Witch
driving Fast & Furious
initial premise is familiar, but instead of doing something new with
it, between some very sloppy, bad and badly edited camera work with
some of the worst shooting in a major studio release we have seen in
a while and having Selena Gomez trying to rob his Shelby Mustang,
only to get trapped with him in the car for the near-death ride, this
intends to appeal to the lowest common denominator all the way
through its endless 90 minutes and Gomez playing a streetwise car
thief is about as convincing as Ernie & Bert doing the lead roles
in Pulp Fiction,
but that would actually be more credible than what we get here. As
Ms. Gomez complains, drones and wines on and on and on and on in
endless shrillness, you wonder why Hawke's character does not throw
her out of the car and run her over or that the Voice commends him to
kill her. With Gomez around, it is surprising thousands of lives are
suddenly not endangered.
Castle co-produced this desperate slop job and I actually felt bad
for Hawke, who deserves much better and the audience, who should
never have to see Gomez ever, ever again.
include five weak making of featurettes and Digital HD Ultraviolet
Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices, we gather to
torture your friends and relatives with just in time for the
better is Robert Luketic's Paranoia
(2013) which pretends to sell itself as an intense, paranoid
thriller, has lead star Liam Hemsworth speaks some startling
truth-to-power paragraphs, than quickly forgets all of that and
becomes a stupid, dull, dumb, wasted film whose MacGuffin (the thing
everyone in the story chases after by we are not supposed to care
much about) is a cell phone of the future. The writers (and this was
based on a book?) should have used a new digital Morse Code device
instead, because the phone bit are a huge yawner throughout.
comes into conflict with the owner (Gary Oldman) of the company he
works for and uses his company credit card to take his gang of
now-fired friends out for a night of partying, but the head honcho
uses this against him to blackmail him with jail unless he spies on
and infiltrates the competing company, befriend his arch rival (a
bald Harrison Ford who could become Dr. Evil at any moment) and steal
their new ultra-advanced cell phone...
there was potential here, but WOW is it wasted and not even the
Oldman/Ford showdown scenes generate anything, so you know what a dud
you have here. Also, every time the script runs out of ideas or
places to go, which is often, we see Hemsworth go shirtless so often,
you'd think he was auditioning for modeling as if he knew this film
could kill his young career. He need not worry, as no one will
remember this despite how ridiculous it is. Amber Heard, Lucas Till,
Julian McMahon, Josh Holloway and an out-of-his-element Richard
Dreyfuss also show up and are wasted. Sad.
include lame Deleted Scenes, three weak making of featurettes, a weak
DVD version and Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and
iTunes capable devices, which will ironically include cell phones.
back a ways, most people know the lawyer detective Perry Mason from
the very successful Raymond Burr TV series and revival TV movies, but
not only was a revival tried in between all those with no success,
but a movie series was attempted in what is now 80 years ago and it
includes some of the best adaptations of the character ever filmed.
Perry Mason: The Original
Warner Bros. Movies Collection
(1934 - 1937) collects all six films the studio made when they got
the rights to the book series by Erle Stanley Gardner, which can be
broken down into three sets.
Case Of The Howling Dog
(1934 with Mary Astor!) and The
Case Of The Curious Bride
(1935, directed by Michael Curtiz with Errol Flynn!) star Warren
William as Mason in the two best entries. Tight, smart mysteries
with wit, a good pace and clues that add up, William plays the
character as well as anyone and hold up extraordinarily well.
William continued in The
Case Of The Lucky Legs
(1935 with Lyle Talbot) and The
Case Of The Velvet Claws (1936
with Claire Dodd the only actress to repeat playing Della Street
after Curious Bride),
but Warner got oddly impatient with the series, so they unnecessarily
increased the comedy and even marry Mason and Della Street in Legs.
This ruined the series, did not succeed in making it more
profitable, so Warner dumped William!
leaves two new actors doing a decent job of playing Mason in the
final two entries which improved over the last two but were not quite
as good as the first two. The
Case Of The Black Cat (1936)
was a bit like the debut film, but is not bad and Ricardo Cortez
makes a good showing as the detective, though Warner felt otherwise.
Donald Woods (who was in the second film as a different character)
was hired to be Mason in The
Case Of The Stuttering Bishop
(1937 with Ann Dvorak as Della Street), adapting one of the best
known books in the series, but it is still too comical and Woods is
the youngest (or youngest looking) to play the part, so it is a mixed
film and by this time, Warner threw in the towel and cancelled a
series that could have run much longer if they had just left it alone
after the first two films and tried to stick with one actress as
Secretary Della Street instead of having five!
are the only extras.
we have three versions of a mystery tale written by Charlie Chan
creator Earl Derr Biggers, but he penned I before creating Chan in
six novels and George M. Cohan of all people turned it into a stage
comedy. RKO got the rights to the book and filmed it three times.
The Seven Keys To Baldpate
Triple Feature offers all
three filmed versions and they vary, as well as become increasingly
1929 version is set mostly on one big room and stars Richard Dix as a
writer accepting a bet to be able to write a novel overnight in the
isolated mansion of the title, where he allegedly has the only key to
the place. This will turn out not to be true and Baldpate will find
itself with visitor after visitor, some of whom are intruders. This
eventually involved big stolen money and possible murder. However,
there are several twists and turns as the film has fun being an early
all-sound (read talkie) mystery. I like the cast, energy and joy in
the film, even if it does not totally pan out, it is a remarkable
film for its age.
tried again in 1935 with Gene Raymond as the writer, but they dumped
the comedy, energy and too much of the lighting as the new makers try
to get away from the idea of it being on a stage and land up killing
any of the fun, suspense or tension. It looks cheaper than the
earlier film and Raymond never gets a fix on the writer character
in 1947, RKO made it into a sort of Noir with more comedy and Phillip
Terry as the writer (also not really pulling it off well), including
in-jokes targeting the previous films and those in the know of the
book and play. By this time, the material was worn out by the
admission of the script's retro approach and with nothing new to add,
this is not as good as the 1929 version either. However, RKO tried
to get the most out of the book and the comparisons are interesting.
Now you can see for yourself. Nice to have all three together.
are no extras.
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Getaway
has such a bad mix of digital HD video formats that more than some of
it is very phony, not necessarily HD and mixes the HD footage with
some of the worst-looking digital shooting I have seen all year and
definitely in a major studio release. Shockingly unprofessional too
often, you'd think a desperate indie made it until you see the stars.
The worst digital cannot even compete with the 1.33
X 1 black and white image on both DVD mystery sets, which have their
share of print dirt and damage (especially on the Mason
films), but never fail to look good and professional, all looking
like they come from real monochrome prints with good silver content.
leaves the 1080p 2.35 X 1 AVC @ 33 MBPS digital High Definition image
transfer on Paranoia
having some faux video camera footage, but it never looks pedestrian
and goofy to its credit, so this is the best looking entry here,
though its anamorphically
enhanced DVD version ties for the weakest on the list and is
incredibly soft with limited color range.
Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, but
is the only one with a consistent soundfield, which
dissipates a good bit in the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the DVD
version, which the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the Mason
DVD sets can just equal in consistency. The
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Getaway
is therefore the second-best sounding mix here, but that is by
default because we get so much location audio trouble (which does not
cut off Gomez enough) and is a choppy as the picture.
order either of the Warner Archive DVD sets on Mason
go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases