Tag Archives: Patric Knowles

O.S.S. (1946, Irving Pichel)

Pichel does such a good job with the majority of O.S.S., it’s a surprise how ineptly he handles the jingoistic last scene. It’s a WWII patriotism picture (is there a proper term for this genre?), so that last scene is requisite, but Pichel could have at least made it work. Instead, he hangs the film out to dry.

O.S.S. runs long, but in a good way. It takes almost a full half hour before Alan Ladd and his fellow espionage agents are dropped into occupied France. The film opens with Ladd, but quickly shift gears to follow Patric Knowles as he puts together the team. When it does bring Ladd back in, it’s after leading lady Geraldine Fitzgerald is introduced.

While Ladd holds the film (and he’s the one most injured by Pichel’s wrong-headed finale, right after his best scene), Fitzgerald is sort of the secret weapon. She’s absolutely fantastic, making some of the creakier scenes work. Ladd–we learn twenty-five minutes in–is sexist. It’s contrived and writer Richard Maibaum never quite makes it work, but since the scenes are with Fitzgerald, she brings them through.

Pichel’s direction is great; he’s able to handle the thriller elements, the repetitious spy scenes but also the dramatic ones. His composition is strong and he makes great use of the sets. Lionel Lindon’s photography helps.

There are a couple great supporting performances–John Hoyt as an odious Nazi and Harold Vermilyea as an opportunistic one.

The film very nearly works.

2.5/4★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Irving Pichel; written and produced by Richard Maibaum; director of photography, Lionel Lindon; edited by William Shea; music by Daniele Amfitheatrof and Heinz Roemheld; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring Alan Ladd (John Martin), Geraldine Fitzgerald (Elaine Duprez), Patric Knowles (Cmdr. Brady), John Hoyt (Col. Paul Meister), Gloria Saunders (WAC Operator Sparky), Richard Webb (Partker), Richard Benedict (Bernay), Harold Vermilyea (Amadeus Brink) and Don Beddoe (Gates).


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Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943, Roy William Neill)

Of all the Universal monster movies, The Wolf Man “deserved” a real sequel most. With Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Lon Chaney Jr.’s abilities to essay the Larry Talbot role really shine through. I’ve read (and maybe even repeated here) Chaney never gets credit for playing such a physical role while being a bigger man.

Here he actually starts showing off a lot of acting chops, as his character becomes, essentially, a suicidal lunatic. Being able to elicit sympathy with such a character is no easy task and Chaney does it. It helps having Maria Ouspenskaya around doesn’t hurt. In maybe three minutes, she and Chaney establish this surrogate mother and son relationship and whenever he talks about killing himself, they cut to her quietly sad expression.

Of course, the film’s got a lot of editing troubles of that nature (Bela Lugosi’s Frankenstein monster originally talked, making the film a direct sequel to the previous Ghost of Frankenstein, but they cut those scenes out) and there’s Patric Knowles’s way too rapid switch from caring doctor to mad scientist.

Knowles is fine at the beginning, when the film’s just a Wolf Man sequel, but gets silly when he returns. Ilona Massey is also a weak female lead.

The supporting cast is strong–Lionel Atwill, Dennis Hoey, Dwight Frye are all good. Rex Evans is a great villain, but never gets his comeuppance.

And Neill’s a solid director, even if he doesn’t top his opening shot.

Decent enough, could’ve been better.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Roy William Neill; written by Curt Siodmak; director of photography, George Robinson; edited by Edward Curtiss; music by Hans J. Salter; produced by George Waggner; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Lon Chaney Jr. (Lawrence Talbot), Patric Knowles (Dr. Frank Mannering), Ilona Massey (Baroness Elsa Frankenstein), Maria Ouspenskaya (Maleva), Lionel Atwill (Mayor of Vasaria), Bela Lugosi (Frankenstein Monster), Dennis Hoey (Inspector Owen), Rex Evans (Vazec) and Dwight Frye (Rudi).


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THIS POST IS PART OF THE DYNAMIC DUOS IN CLASSIC FILM BLOGATHON HOSTED BY ANNMARIE OF CLASSIC MOVIE HUB and AURORA OF ONCE UPON A SCREEN.