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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Mystery > Satire > Murder > Detective > Radio Drama > Cold War > Rock Music > Counterculture > No Clue (2013/E1 DVD)/The Phantom Of Cresswood (1932/RKO)/The Phynx (1970/Warner Archive DVDs)

No Clue (2013/E1 DVD)/The Phantom Of Cresswood (1932/RKO)/The Phynx (1970/Warner Archive DVDs)

Picture: C+/C/C+ Sound: C+/C/C Extras: C/D/D Films: C

PLEASE NOTE: The Phantom Of Cresswood and The Phynx are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and both can be ordered from the link below.

Here are three different mystery, spy, genre spoofs to know about...

Carl Bessai's No Clue (2013) is a spoof of the old detective set-up by having novelty guy Leo (Brent Butt) take the case of a beautiful, distraught gal (Amy Smart) because she mistakes him for a real detective who is on vacation. She is in the wrong office, correct building and is about to get zero help. The film has a set-up that we have seen before and could have been updated with ease and the actors are cast well enough, but the script is a mess, the makers don't know what they are doing and the result is 96 minutes of missed opportunities, missteps and bad moments that make Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid look better that ever. They also don't seem to have any idea what Film Noir really is. Too bad the title is so prophetic.

Extras include a feature length audio commentary track and a Behind The Scenes featurette.

J. Walter Ruben's The Phantom Of Cresswood (1932) was produced by David O. Selznick and pushes Richard Cortez as the male lead of the moment in a this tale of a mystery radio series that leads to a theatrical movie, then a real murder in high society. Despite the horror movie cover (nice poster art), this is as much a drama and tale of high society types as anything, serving as a time capsule of such. It is interesting to watch, yet has limited suspense and frankly comes at the beginning of the sound era of the genre it tackles. Still, it is a curio worth a look for fans and intelligently done.

There are no extras.

Finally we have Lee H. Katzin's The Phynx (1970), a film that comes at the end of a cycle of gaudy 1960s, overproduced 1960s spy comedies (which include mystery elements) that included everything from Candy to Modesty Blaise to the 1967 Casino Royale and any other film trying to (with little to no success) be the next Dr. Strangelove. Bizarre and not very memorable, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (obviously trying to have the success Burt Bacharach and Hal David did with their Casino Royale soundtrack) created not very memorable music that barely fits into a barely-existing narrative that starts with a spy from the West trying to get behind the Iron Curtain to no avail.

After colorful credits, the next plot to break into the Curtain is to put together the next Beatles by a CIA-sponsored version of The Monkees (more or less) called The Phynx. The recruiting, like much of the film, is supposed to be amusing, but the script is uninspired, the actors try their best with little effect and this was never a great film, now dating very badly. Great character actors like Lou Antonio, Mike Kellin, Michael Ansara, George Tobias and the young actors playing the would-be supergroup (yea, rock-n-roll will get the people to rise up against them commies!) adds big names in guest turns (or less) like Joan Blondell, Huntz Hall, Ruby Keeler, Rudy Vallee, Johnny Weismuller, Maureen O'Sullivan, Butterfly McQueen and Leo Gorcey that was old hat by the time it was released. It is at least a good-looking film, odd as it is and Katzin did better next with Le Mans (reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) though not universally so. If only the writers understood the genres (spy, musical., counterculture) involved, this could have maybe worked.

There are no extras.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Clue and anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Phynx look pretty good, though Phynx is very narrowly better, but not enough to have a higher rating. Clue can still look weak in parts it should not, while Phynx has is from a pretty good print and has good color and actually issued at the time in 35mm dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor film prints that must have been nice. The 1.33 X 1 black and white image on Cresswood is a little soft and has some flaws as expected for a film its age, but it still sports some nice shots, the kind Clue cannot quite imitate despite its best efforts. Still, it is too soft a little too often. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Clue does outdo the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Cresswood and Phynx as expected, but all would likely sound better in lossless presentations.

As noted above, you can order either of the Warner Archive DVDs, The Phantom Of Cresswood and/or The Phynx, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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