Posts Tagged ‘Edgar Allan Poe’


I join CTV NewsChannel anchor Sean Leathong to talk about the drama “Women Talking,” Christian Bale in “The Pale Blue Eye” and the music doc “If These Walls Could Sing.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!



Watch as I review three movies in less time than it takes to cheat on your new diet! Have a look as I race against the clock to tell you about the drama “Women Talking,” Christian Bale in “The Pale Blue Eye” and the music doc “If These Walls Could Sing.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


I joined CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres.  Today we talk about the drama “Women Talking,” Christian Bale in “The Pale Blue Eye” and the music doc “If These Walls Could Sing.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


I sit in with CKTB morning show host Tim Denis to have a look at the drama “Women Talking,” Christian Bale in “The Pale Blue Eye” and the music doc “If These Walls Could Sing.”

Listen to the whole thing HERE!


I join 1290 CJBK in London and hosts Ken and Marina to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the drama “Women Talking,” Christian Bale in “The Pale Blue Eye” and the music doc “If These Walls Could Sing.”

Listen to the whole thing HERE!


I sit in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with guest host Andrew Pinsent to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the drama “Women Talking,” Christian Bale in “The Pale Blue Eye” and the music doc “If These Walls Could Sing.”

Listen to the whole thing HERE!

THE PALE BLUE EYE: 3 ½ STARS. “handsomely mounted, pulpy murder mystery.”

Adapted from Louis Bayard’s 2003 novel of the same name, “The Pale Blue Eye,” a somber new Christian Bale murder mystery now streaming on Netflix, begins with a grisly murder in a society that favors discretion.

Set at West Point Military Academy in upstate New York, circa 1830, the story kicks off on a chilly day, an atmospheric note that informs the tone of the film. A cadet is found dead, hanging from a tree on the grounds. What appears to be a case of a young man taking his own life, becomes suspicious when it is discovered his heart has been removed post mortem.

Hoping to avoid a public scandal, West Point enlists Augustus Landor (Christian Bale), a local detective still smarting from the loss of his only daughter, to quietly solve the case. Hindered by the academy’s strict code of silence, Landor gets a break when meets an eccentric young cadet at a local tavern. “I am an artist,” he flamboyantly declares, “I have no nation.” The man, Edgar Allen Poe (Harry Melling), is a poet and truth seeker whose ambitions lay in the written word, not the stuffy traditions of the military.

“Poe,” Landor says, “I need you to discretely infiltrate the cadets.”

A fictional story, “The Pale Blue Eye” inserts Poe, credited with inventing the American detective story, into this tale of intrigue. The poet, sans his famous moustache, did attend West Point, and after two years of service, attained the rank of Sergeant Major for Artillery, but that is where any similarity to reality ends.

Poe, as played by Melling, is arguably the film’s most entertaining character, the only one cut loose from the restraint that casts a pall over the proceedings like a shroud. Bale raises his voice a few times, breaking his character’s unshakable, flinty self-possession, but it is Melling, and his ostentatious demeanor that brings the, as he says, “hot thrashing flurry,” to break free of the movie’s gothic shackles.

Writer, director Scott Cooper sprinkles engaging supporting performances throughout. As the wife of the very proper Dr. Marquis (Toby Jones), Gillian Anderson’s low rumbling voice gives her character a malevolent edge, and it’s a treat to see Robert Duvall as occult expert Jean-Pepe, even if his role is under-written.

“The Pale Blue Eye” is a handsomely mounted, pulpy murder mystery, with some fine performances, but its methodical pace and bleak nature clip its wings, and don’t allow it to make like the E.A.P.’s Raven and take flight.

HALLOWEEN WEEK 2021: THE CRIME OF DR. CRESPI (1935). “a twisted story.”

“The Crime of Dr. Crespi starts where Frankenstein left off!” — advertising tagline for The Crime of Dr. Crespi

In front of the camera Erich von Stroheim was known to the public as “The Man You Love to Hate.” Behind it he might have been known as “The Man the Studios Love to Hate” because of his haughty attitude and disregard for the Tinseltown power structure.

In a Hollywood career that spanned forty years the Austrian-born director and actor saw his stock rise and fall many times. He first made a name for himself during WWI playing cruel aristocratic German villains — in one film he actually throws a crying baby out a window! — the stereotype which earned him the title “The Man You Love to Hate.”

In the silent era he was also a much sought after director until his arrogance (he made a nine-hour movie called Greed), budgetary follies (he was the first director to spend over one million dollars on a film) and attention to detail (his scripts were often as long as the novels he was adapting) made him unemployable by the big studios. Unable to find important work behind the camera he was forced to concentrate on performing.

Despite his hatred for acting — he couldn’t remember his lines and didn’t like taking orders — he was a striking screen presence. His well-crafted pompous screen persona was put to good use in Jean Renoir’s La Grande Illusion and Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, but it is a little seen 1935 film that captures von Stroheim at his ominous best.

In The Crime of Dr. Crespi, loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Premature Burial, Von Stroheim plays the embittered titular character, a chain-smoking doctor consumed by thoughts of revenge against Stephen Ross (John Bohn), the current husband of Crespi’s former flame (Harriet Russell). He’d give everything to be her everything again, and hatches a twisted plan to win her back.

The mad doctor gets the chance at vengeance when Ross comes down with a mysterious disease which only Dr. Crespi’s surgical skills can remedy. Unfortunately the operation is not a success and Ross dies shortly after the procedure . . . or does he? In fact Crespi has secretly administered a powerful drug that placed his patient in suspended animation which apes the signs of death. His lifeless body belies the fact that he, horrifyingly, he has all his faculties about him. Knowing that the drug will wear off after a few days Crespi rushes things along, forgoing an autopsy or embalming and makes arrangements to have the sentient man buried alive! Before the funeral Crespi visits Ross at the morgue to gloat over his fate; when the casket is lowered into the grave Crespi’s insane revenge plot is complete.

It isn’t until Crespi’s colleagues, Dr. Arnold (Paul Guilfoyle) and Dr. Thomas (Dwight Frye), become suspicious of the alleged death and have the body exhumed that lovesick doctor is exposed as a murderer.

The Crime of Dr. Crespi makes the best of its poverty row production standards, resourcefully using lighting effects to create a unique visual style that is part Universal Horror and part film noir to create a memorable looking film. As was often the case with these low budget thrillers, there’s little in the way of a musical score, just some stock music that undoubtedly cost the film’s producers little or nothing. No matter, the movie makes an impression because of the twisted story and even more twisted performance from von Stroheim.

The former director’s presence elevates what could have been a run-of-the-mill, bottom of the bill shocker. His characterization of the eccentric doctor is outrageous, a completely unsympathetic bad guy. He portrays mood swings that range from calm and controlled to full-out ballistic. In the latter mode his voice becomes a shrill staccato, a vocal representation of his fractured state of mind.

Director John Auer emphasizes Crespi’s mania with the use of extreme close-ups. The up-close-and-personal shots reveal Crespi’s craziness in riveting detail. The camera work creates an atmosphere of dread and doom that maximizes the story’s thrills and chills.

The supporting actors are fine; they’re journeymen actors who could be relied on to hand in decent performances while working quickly and for little money.

The standout of the secondary cast is Dwight Frye, the character actor who was usually typecast in oddball riffs on his famous roles from Dracula and Frankenstein. In Crespi he is allowed to, for once, strut his stuff as the hero, and sink his teeth into something other than the lunatic roles he usually played. He even gets to flirt with a pretty nurse, something that his most famous alter ego, Fritz the vicious hunchbacked lab assistant in James Whale’s Frankenstein, would never do.

The Crime of Dr. Crespi was likely made as a throwaway, a movie for “the shirtsleeve audience” and not the critics, but it transcends its humble origins by way of inventive direction and an unforgettable central performance from “The Man You Love to Hate.”