Harvey M. Canter | tarzana, ca United States | 07/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While I cannot speak to the Jack Palance film, I can say that I am very enthusiastic indeed that Blueprint for Murder is FINALLY coming out in public release. This one never made it to VHS, even, and could only be gotten via bootleg copies on ebay--and happily so! This is a taut little low-budget thriller, with Jean Peters as the step-mom with ice-water in her veins and dollar signs in her eyes; and Joseph Cotten is her earnest, bumbling brother-in-law whose hormones cloud his judgment as to her dark, dark intentions--at least for a little while! Peters is just sensational, embodying a fetching femme fatale who is both seeringly voluptuous and deeply dangerous. She really steals the show here. Cotten is effective in his ineffectiveness, but he proves right in the end. While not of the caliber of Double Indemnity or Out of the Past, owing to a rather flat, stodgy pictorial style and mise en scene, the film is really story/character/actor driven, and is very engrossing. There are a lot of movies coming out under the rubric of Film Noir that are not even close to Film Noir (e.g., Daisy Kenyon) but when you call something FN it sells, I guess. Blueprint for Murder is the real deal, though. It is great to see some truly obscure ones making it to DVD. Now, how about the original version of Caught with Robert Ryan? Well, until then, enjoy Blueprint for Muder and look closely at what's inscribed on your vitamins!"
For those who love older films, these two might do with thei
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 09/26/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A Blueprint for Murder: "Lynne's warmth and affection for Doug helped so much to soften the blow of his sister's death. Never did Maggie's absurd suspicions seem more fantastic than now." That's Cam Cameron speaking to us. Doug is his nephew, a little boy whose sister, Polly, has just died in hospital of what turns out to have been strychnine poisoning. Their step-mother, the cool, beautiful Lynne Cameron (Jean Peters), is, of course, distressed, just as she was when her husband, the children's father, died mysteriously with the same symptoms. Lynne's brother-in-law, Whitney Cameron (Joseph Cotton), Cam for short, who flew into town when Polly became ill, can see for himself how solicitous Lynne is toward young Doug. He's not about to listen to the suspicions raised by his good friends, Maggie and Fred Sergeant (Catherine McLeod and Gary Merrill).
But wait a minute. Fred, a lawyer, now remembers the terms of the will he drew up for Polly's and Doug's father. A great deal of money was placed into a trust, the interest of which is going to Lynne. Ah, but if the children die, Lynne will get the principal as well as the interest. A little worm of doubt now starts to nibble away in Cam's brain, which is particularly unsettling because Cam is beginning to have certain feelings for Lynne. All we know for sure is that Lynne is the kind of cool. competent woman who would most likely warm up only if she had a whip in her hand and you at her feet. It all comes together on board a transatlantic liner taking Lynne, Doug and Cam to Europe. It involves a clever ruse that calls for a pill that might or might not be aspirin, a cocktail that tastes a little bitter and a whole lot of scenery chewing.
Unfortunately, the final revelation is so abrupt and commonplace and the movie then ends so quickly and complacently that we can only give a shrug. Still, up to then it's passably pleasurable.
Man In the Attic: "Jack the Ripper...what a revolting, stupid name!" says Mr. Slade. He has every reason to be offended. Note that while elements of the plot are discussed, almost everything is laid out for the viewer in the film's first 15 minutes. It's 1888 and Jack has been at work off and on for several weeks. His victims are all women who have been entertainers at one time or another. Jack's knives leave messy leftovers.
Late one night with the London fog swirling around the gaslit streets, Mr. and Mrs. Harley (Rhys Williams and Frances Bavier) hear a knock on their door. It's a Mr. Slade (Jack Palance) who is answering their notice of a room to let. He not only takes the room but also their small, third floor attic. He needs it, he tells Mrs. Harley, so that he can conduct his experiments. Mr. Slade is a pathologist. He seems nice enough, the Harley's dog takes to him at once and he pays a month in advance. When he learns that the Harley's niece, Lily Bonner (Constance Smith), will be staying in the house, and that she is a showgirl on the stage, he is obviously distracted. Her act, Lily Bonner and Her Girls, is getting a lot of notice. We even get to see her do two full numbers. Prince Edward is seen clapping approvingly. But the swirling fog keeps blanketing the city, more women are found brutally cut to death, and Mr. Slade keeps returning home at very late hours. The police put every resource they can into the hunt. Queen Victoria makes it clear that no married man could be capable of such crimes and recommends that all bachelors be rounded up. The police investigation is led by Inspector Paul Warwick (Byron Palmer), a smart copper who is attracted to Lily as soon as he meets her. And it seems that Slade is attracted to Lily, too. He confesses to Lily that his unease and loneliness is due to his mother, a woman "incapable of love, only lust," who left home when he was a child. His father took ten years to drink himself to death with absinthe. "Did you ever see your mother again?" Lily asks Slade. Yes, he says. She'd become a street walker. I saw her once. We also have a sense of Slade's unbalanced torment. Often his late evenings are spent simply in lonely and unhealthy contemplation. "Sometimes I walk close by the river," he tells Lily. "The river is like liquid night flowing peacefully out to infinity." We know what's coming; there are no surprises. After a rousing night-time chase through London's damp streets, the last thing we see is the swirling waters of the Thames.
Oh, what a grade B hamfest this movie is. I mean that in a kind way because the movie is fun to watch. There are so many things wrong with it that the movie has a kind of endearing, well-intentioned amateurishness about it.
Jack Palance, young and tormented, with his small sunken eyes, prominent cheek bones, strong chin and heavy brow, does a credible job. So do Frances Bavier and Rhys Williams. But the rest of the cast can barely act. Some of the dialogue is so ripe it's juicy. "You're the same as my mother," Slade shouts, "the same as all of them...mocking love and living for lust! Your beauty must be cut away!"
Man In the Attic has a kind of Poverty Row charm. The film is trying hard to be a Jack the Ripper psycho-thriller. The producers just couldn't round up the talent or the budget to come close, but they tried. ----- The DVD picture for both transfers looks fine. There are no extras of any significance."
Two rare Fox thrillers for a bargain price
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 02/09/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Two obscure films from the Twentieth Century-Fox vaults make up the double feature on this outstanding Midnite Movies release. Apart from the fact that both movies were produced in 1953, they aren't linked by a common theme or star, nevertheless these two movies are definitely worth the time for classic film buffs.
First on the bill is A BLUEPRINT FOR MURDER (written and directed by Andrew L. Stone). When his little niece dies following an unexplained illness, Whitney Cameron (Joseph Cotten) begins to suspect the child's stepmother Lynne (Jean Peters). The ice-cool society type, Lynne hardly seems a candidate for murder, but when it's revealed she'll inherit the entire family fortune should she outlive her stepchildren, Cam starts to fear for the safety of nephew Doug (Freddy Ridgeway). With the help of his sleuthing friends (Gary Merrill and Catherine McLeod), Cam sets out to trap Lynne using her very own "blueprint" for murder...
This stylish murder noir is a perfect showcase for Fox contract player Jean Peters ("Niagara", "Three Coins in the Fountain"). She brings a sense of ambiguous danger to the role of Lynne. Joseph Cotten is very strong too. Normally the villain in these types of movies, it's a rare change seeing him as the hero. Catherine McLeod and Gary Merrill ("All About Eve") have fun roles as the amateur sleuths.
Next up is MAN IN THE ATTIC (directed by Hugo Fregonese, based on a novel by Marie Belloc Lowndes). In gas-lit London at the turn of the century, the district of Whitechapel is being terrorised by a series of grisly murders involving prostitutes and actresses. Slade (Jack Palance) seems to fit the description of the murderer and lives a mysterious life as lodger in the house belonging to Mr and Mrs Harley (Rhys Williams and Frances Bavier). When the Harleys' showgirl niece Lily Bonner (Constance Smith) comes to stay, Slade's behaviour grows more erratic...and the body-count in Whitechapel rises steadily.
Produced by Panoramic Productions, MAN IN THE ATTIC was a virtual scene-for-scene remake of an earlier Fox movie, "The Lodger" (made in 1944, starring Laird Cregar and Merle Oberon). Jack Palance is perfectly cast as the moody, mysterious stranger who may or may not be Jack The Ripper. The Whitechapel murder mystery (and the identity of the person/s who committed them) has never been completely solved. MAN IN THE ATTIC tries to answer the mystery.
Each movie is presented on it's very own disc. Bonus features consist of original trailers plus animated photo galleries (containing rare on-set candids and beautiful production stills). It's great to see these two otherwise-forgotten Fox movies on DVD, at a bargain price."
Jack Palance as Jack the Ripper.......
Thin Timmy | New Orleans, La. | 11/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Man in the Attic starring Jack Palance as Jack the Ripper is a very well made gothic mystery. A remake almost scene for scene of The Lodger from 44' is well worth a look. Palance plays the part with more horror than Leiger and the ending is a pit different but is a winner. Palance also played Dracula in the 70's is also worth a look. I feel the best Dracula movie made. Blueprint for Murder with the great Joseph Cotten is more of a film noir/mystery with twist and turns and very good also. I had never seen this so I am very happy to see films like this finally released for all of us classic horror/mystery fans."
FOX / MGM Do Great Job With New Midnite Movies!!!
Jackie L. Holstein | MPLS, MN | 09/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This title including other Sept 11 07 Midnite Movies titles that are double features are both on seperate DVDs! Not Flippers! This is really good quality coming from FOX! We hope to get many more Midnite Movies including The Incredible Melting Man is a great Idea!"