• Working Girls

    Working Girls

    ★★

    It gets a bit funnier by the end, but it doesn't really land on a consistent tone until the final reel or so. It's mostly a comedy, I guess, but a not very funny one with some melodrama thrown in.

  • Ride Lonesome

    Ride Lonesome

    ★★★★½

    Boetticher is firing on all cylinders here. He again tells what sounds like a cliche white hats vs. black hats western on paper, but complicates the formula with characters who feel real. The performances are all great and the climax is incredibly satisfying.

  • Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs

    Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs

    Yep, still horribly racist.

  • The Pharmacist

    The Pharmacist

    ★★★

    Fields crosses the line from his normal grumpy and put upon into abusive a few times here, and that made it less fun than his other efforts. That said, there are still some pretty hilarious gags; the bit with his daughter and the canary is wonderfully absurd, and the climax hints at the action set pieces that would come in some of his feature films.

  • Drive a Crooked Road

    Drive a Crooked Road

    ★★★★

    A pretty solid noir story with absolutely fantastic performances from Rooney, Dianne Foster, Kevin McCarthy and Jack Kelly. The actors are well served by a script that makes everyone a bit more complicated than you would expect from a B-level noir. The fatale is not as ice cold as she might be, and the heavies get to be more charming than menacing, at least until the end. Rooney himself ably walks a fine line between pathetic loser and sympathetic shlub.

  • Higher Than a Kite

    Higher Than a Kite

    ★★★½

    Another surprisingly fun Stooges short. Some pretty great slapstick in this one that had me laughing out loud more than once.

  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

    Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

    ★½

    Lots of the choices made in this one. The Fleischers in general were at their worst when trying to out-Disney Disney in the sentimentality department, and this one is no different. But there are also weird aesthetic choices made here. Like, why do the reindeer (mostly) walk on two legs? This is a much more disturbing image than you would expect; almost Lovecraftian. And why are there so many shots of Rudolph's ass? It's weird.

  • Pluto's Christmas Tree

    Pluto's Christmas Tree

    ★★★

    Some beautiful art on display here, but the gags are nothing fantastic.

  • The Art of Skiing

    The Art of Skiing

    ★★★½

    These Goofy training videos are all pretty good. Goofy is best when he doesn't talk, and the animation is fun.

  • Donald's Snow Fight

    Donald's Snow Fight

    ★★★★

    It's not surprising that this has (apparently) not received a re-release. It is pretty violent (in a fun way) for a color-era Disney short. It also has a lot of that Fleischer weirdness and imagination. By the time the film ends, it has become a full-scale naval combat, and it is great. But I live for Donald realizing he is about to die, saying, "Oh my gosh, what is this!"

  • Drunken Master

    Drunken Master

    ★★★★

    So many terrific fights. Chan would get more cohesive narratives going forward, and more stunt work, and his movies would get better in the next couple of years, but I don't know if he ever got a better fight showcase than this.

  • The Tall T

    The Tall T

    ★★★★½

    An absolute clinic in economical storytelling. It is a simple, straightforward film, but everything is firing on all cylinders. Some business in the first 15 minutes or perhaps try a bit too hard to earn our sympathy (the kid in particular).