Crazy Knitter Reviews

The place where this crazy knitter reviews books, TV, movies and recipes

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Haunted Michigan - #11

This was a nice and easy read perfect for Halloween. The author is an amateur ghost hunter (and Methodist minister believe it or not) and these are the collected stories of some of his investigations. While none of the stories scared me they were fun to read. It was interesting to read these stories that occur in places that I actually know and can picture. There is one story about a haunted bar in Hillsdale County that I would love to go to and see in person. If you are from Michigan and like the paranormal this is a great book to read.


Their Big Moment (1934)

I liked this little movie. It is the story of the Great LaSalle, a fake magician, and his assistants Bill and Tillie. They are hired by Even Farrington to save her sister from a shark. The sister, Fay, has recently lost her husband in a plane crash and is being manipulated by Dr Portman. Eve and Lane, the family lawyer, hire LaSalle and his misfits to hold a fake seance. They want them to give Fay a message from her husband that Portman is after her money and not to trust him. Everything is going to plan until Tillie goes into an actual trance and contacts the deceased husband. When she announces that the crash wasn't an accident all hell breaks loose as the killer tries to cover their tracks. While this isn't the greatest movie it is a cute and light comedy to catch when it is on TV.


Mystery House (1938)

A short and fun movie. The film starts out at a hunting lodge where the board of a company are meeting. The chairman, Hubert Kingery, is informing the board that one of them is a thief and that he knows who it is. When they spilt for the night Hubert ends up dead from a gunshot wound. Since he was in a locked room of course it is ruled a suicide but his daughter knows better. She hires a detective to find out who really killed her father. She invites all of the suspects back to her father's lodge to weed out the killer. The detective must work fast because there are more "suicides" and the killer seems bent to kill everyone in his way. All in all this was not a bad short film. You really have to pay attention though because they are so many characters introduced at once it can be hard to keep them straight - especially the men. A nice cozy mystery to catch when it comes on TCM. The movie follows two others that star Ann Sheridan as Nurse Sarah Keate and Detective Lance O'Leary - While the Patient Sleeps from 1935 and The Patient in Room 18 also from 1938.


Dancing with the Stars - Week 8

Another two dances for our celebrity friends. This week again it's a ballroom and a Latin dance.

Dance #1 -

Joey Lawrence (tango) - I'm not sure if I like this whole Halloween theme thing. It was ok but I was not blown away. I felt bad that her wig kept slapping him in the face. Was he Gomez or Uncle Fester?

Mario Lopez (waltz) - that was breathtaking and beautiful. I loved it.

Monique Coleman (tango) - it was uh. There were some mistakes and I wasn't impressed.

Emmitt Smith (fox trot) - once again he was amazing. I love watching him because he is so charming.

Dance #2 -

Joey Lawrence (paso doble) - much better. It wasn't the best paso doble (no has yet topped Drew's from last year)but it was pretty good.

Mario Lopez (samba) - wow that was great! He can really shake his bon-bon!

Monique Coleman (cha cha) - better than the first dance but she still was not as good as last week.

Emmitt Smith (rumba) - wow that was great. He was very hot!

It is tough to pick who is going to go home this week. I think it maybe Monique because she was the only one with a major miss tonight.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

White Zombie (1932)

A classic horror flick. Bela Legosi stars as Murder, a evil Haitian plantation owner who turns his enemies into zombies who work on his farm. When a local named Charles Beaumont meets the beautiful Madeleine he falls in love at first sight. However there is one problem - her fiance Neil. Charles tries to get her to leave Neil (as he's walking he down the aisle no less) but she says no. This is when he turns to Murder to make Madeleine his. What he does not realize is that while he can force her to be his using Murder's drug she is dead inside with no soul. Madeleine's husband recruits Dr Bruber, a missionary, to help him get his wife back. This leads to a show down at Murder's house with the zombies closing in on them. Can they get out before it's to late?

This is a classic Bela film. He is wonderful and creepy as always. His eyes alone can send a chill up your spine. While the story is sort of cheesy he saves the film. This was the first zombie film on record - even if the people where just under mind control and not the flesh eaters of later years. In 1936 there was a sequel made called Revolt of the Zombies. Also, if you have seen Ed Wood this is the movie Ed and Bela are watching at Bela's house on Halloween in that film. If you like Bela or old horror movies put this on you to see list.


A Night to Remember (1958)

An interesting British telling of the Titanic disaster. Unlike the James Cameron version, this movie does not focus on any main characters. The main character would be the second officer Lightoller, but even his part is relatively small. However, this does not take away from the film and I found myself rooting on the characters even though you know what happens (I did the same thing in the Kate and Leo version). The thing that got me in this film was the proximity of the Californian and that those running that ship were to dumb to realize that the Titanic needed help. There is a very nice prologue that rolls on the screen at the end of the movie to let those watching know that the people who died did not die in vain. A good movie for a different take on the famous disaster.


Jezebel (1938)

I was very surprised that I liked this movie as much as I did. Bette Davis stars as Julie Marsden, a young woman living in 1852 New Orleans. She is a woman who loves to push boundaries and limits of high society. She is engaged to Preston Dillard, a young banker played by a very handsome Henry Fonda. However, their relationship ends when she decides to wear a red dress to the Olympus Ball instead of a white dress like all unmarried women are expected to wear. Preston is embarrassed and decides to dump Julie and move to New York for business. When he returns the next year Julie thinks she will have a second chance to win his love but he has a surprise for everyone - a wife named Amy. Now that Pres is married and yellow fever is spreading through the city Julie must find a way to atone for her sins before it's to late.

The acting in this movie is wonderful. Bette Davis expertly sheds her New England speech for a southern accent. She plays this character down a lot more than most of her characters. I feel that a lot of time she is overacting and over the top but she was very subtle in this film. Fonda is also great as Julie's frustrated betrothed. This is a terrific southern epic and if you love Gone with the Wind like I do this should be on your must view list.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Dancing with the Stars - Week 7

Two dances again this week - a ballroom and a Latin. I hope I don't miss anything because I will be flipping between this and the World Series (Go Get 'Em Tigers!).

Ballroom Round:

Jerry Springer (fox trot) - very nice - much more his element. His mambo should be very interesting though.

Monique Coleman (quick step) - also very good. It was nice to see the pro make a mistake for a change

Emmitt Smith (waltz) - ok seriously, who picks this crappy music? It was very nice but I like his fast dances better.

Mario Lopez (fox trot) - again he is wonderful.

Joey Lawrence (fox trot) - once again he is very good. Much better than last week

Latin Round:

Jerry Springer (mambo) - wow that was different. I give him credit though to do this at his age.

Monique Coleman (paso doble) - I have never been a fan of hers but with these two dances tonight I have changed my mind. That was wonderful.

Emmitt Smith (mambo) - wow he is really good! I loved it.

Mario Lopez (jive) - it was good but not great. I was a bit underwhelmed actually.

Joey Lawrence (mambo) - once again good but I was underwhelmed.

If we're going to go on dancing then Jerry will be leaving. However, who knows what could happen.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

The axe has fallen

The CW has officially cancelled Runaway. I hate getting into a show and then a few weeks into the series it is cancelled. I guess only 1.86 million people watched the episode last Sunday. However, the network moved from 9pm Monday to 9pm Sunday against Desperate Housewives. The move was not very well publicized either. Now they have reruns of America's Top Model (yuck!) on in its time slot. I am not happy!


Mark of the Vampire (1935)

This movie has without a doubt the strangest ending I have ever seen. The movie starts out in a town where vampires are believed to run rampant. Sir Borotyn appears to have been murdered by the head vampire, Count Mora (played by Bela Lugosi), and his daughter, Luna. Professor Zelin (Lionel Barrymore), an expert in vampires, is brought in to help save Sir Borotyn's daughter, Irena, from her father's fate.

I will not ruin the ending for you but I will say I never would have guessed what happened. I also feel that it ruined what could have been a wonderful movie. This movie has the dark and creepy mood that all vampire movies of that era had. This was actually a remake of the 1927 silent film London After Midnight starring Lon Chaney. I'm not sure if that movie had the same stupid ending but this one was ruined for me by that.


I Married a Witch (1942)

I loved this little known jewel. Veronica Lake is Jennifer, a witch who was burned at the stake, along with her father, in Puritan times. Before she is burned she places a curse on the Wooley family, the man who sentenced her, that they should always marry the wrong women. The Wooley's plant a tree so that their spirits should always be bound to the Earth. In 1942 the tree is hit by lighting and their souls are released. Jennifer then decides to wreak havoc on Wallace Wooley, who is running for governor and is getting ready to marry Estelle Masterson. She brews up a love potion but she drinks it instead of Wallace. She falls in love with Wallace, he falls in love with her, and her father is not happy about it. He must try to keep Jennifer and Wallace apart because of the long feud between the families.

This is a wonderful movie. Lake is wonderful, as well as extremely beautiful, in the lead role. Frederic March is also terrific as Wallace Wooley, a man who is being pushed to the edge. Also giving a great performance is Susan Hayward as the cold fiance Estelle. A cute little comedy. There is a remake directed by Danny DeVito in the works for 2007. Another bit of trivia about this movie, the TV show Bewitched was inspired by this film.


Gaslight (1944)

- October Film Noir Selection

This is a superb film. Ingrid Bergman stars as Paula Alquist, a young woman who finds her aunt, a famous singer, murdered one night. She is sent to Italy to live and work with her aunt's mentor. There she meets and falls in love with Gregory Anton. After a whirlwind courtship they marry and move back to her Aunt's home in London. Once they are settled into the home where her aunt was murdered Paula begins to have problems. She is forgetting and losing things and Gregory seems to have to hide her away from the world. She is also hearing footsteps in the attic above her - the only problem being that the attic has been closed off and no one can be up there. Paula begins to wonder if she is going mad and her husband has lost all trust in her. However, a detective from Scotland Yard who is working on the aunt's unsolved murder begins to wonder if all is as it seems in the Anton home.

Ingrid Bergman won her first Oscar for this role and she was more than deserving. You can read so much through her facial expressions that she does not need to say much. Charles Boyer is also wonderful as her mysterious husband. This movie was also the film debut of a 17 year old Angela Lansbury as Nancy the maid.

There have been several versions of this movie. The original British version was made in 1940. There were versions made in 1939, 1946, 1947 and 1977. According to IMDB there is also a remake scheduled for release in 2007.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve - #10

I normally love her books but this is not Anita Shreve's best work. This is the intertwined stories of two women from different time periods who both go through traumatizing experiences. First is Jean, a photographer who is researching a double murder that took place in the 1870s on the Isle of Shoals. She finds a letter that was written by the only survivor, Marne Hontvandt. Through this letter we learn of the hard and tragic life of a Norwegian immigrant woman. As Jean becomes more involved she starts to believe that her husband is having an affair and she tries to come to terms with her life and problems. This book was lacking something. Maybe it was because of the fact the story bounces from modern day to the 1870s but I did not care about the characters. The book seemed somewhat rushed (it was only 246 pages) so the characters were not developed very well. If you haven't read any of Shreve's work make sure you pick up The Pilot's Wife or Fortune's Rock before you choose this one. However, there was a film version of this book made in 2000 starring Sean Penn that I think would be interesting to see. Maybe it will be better as a movie.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Haunting (1963)

Many people may have seen the 1999 remake of this movie staring Lili Taylor, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson and Liam Neeson. I like that version but this one is better. It is scarier and somewhat different than the modern version. In this version Dr Markway in conducting an experiment into the paranormal at the scary old Hill House. He invites Theo (a woman with ESP), Luke (the nephew of the owner) and Nell. The strange events that happen seem to center on Nell and no one is sure if she is sane or not. As everything begins to unfold even Nell begins to wonder if she is ok. She then realizes that the house wants her to stay forever. She decides she wants to stay but the others want her to leave - for her sake and their own. As always the original is better than the remake. I have not read the book so I am not sure which version is closer to the original story but maybe I will see if the library has the book. If you love old spooky ghost stories see this version before you see the remake. You will not be disappointed.


Dancing with the Stars - Week 6

So this proves to be an interesting week. I feel so bad for Sara Evans. Men can be such scum sometimes. This week they had to learn two dances - a dance from one of they styles from the previous weeks and a group disco freestyle.

Mario Lopez (mambo) - is his partner jealous of Eva Longoria or what? He was excellent again. That group of turns near the end was amazing.

Monique Coleman (samba) - I didn't like it. She was very energetic but it was all over the place.

Joey Lawrence (rumba) - ok so maybe you don't have to sleep with your partner to make the rumba sexy. That was wonderful!

Emmitt Smith (jive) - that was so much fun to watch. I love watching him - he is my favorite for sure.

Jerry Springer (paso doble) - uh yeah that was um - interesting.

Disco Freestyle - they were all great. I love Mario's Michael Jackson impersonation and the lifts were wonderful.

Since Sara left no one knows how they are going to handle to rest of the competition. I have a feeling that they ate going to combine the scores from this week and next and have an elimination next Wednesday. If they do have an elimination this week than I think Monique may go.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

I love this recipe and it is so easy. I really don't use a recipe so here's what I do.

1) Poach 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts. Cut into small pieces and mix with hot sauce to taste.
2) Take a prepared pizza crust (I use Bobali) and cover with blue cheese dressing.
3) Top crust with the chicken and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees.

Yum-o! This was dinner for tonight and I have enough left over for lunch tomorrow.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Uninvited (1944)

A terrific old ghost story. Roderick and Pamela Fitzgerald, who are brother and sister, buy a beautiful old house on a cliff. The granddaughter, Meredith, of the man who sold the house is forbidden by her grandfather to ever go there because her mother (his daughter) died there. However, she and Roderick fall in love and it is then the mystery of her mother's death begins to unfold. It seems that the ghost of her father's mistress is trying to drive Meredith to suicide and they must find a way to protect her before it is to late. While the twist at the end was pretty obvious I still enjoyed this movie. It was a wonderful gothic ghost story and I highly recommend it.


Friday, October 13, 2006

High Wall (1947)

- October Film Noir Selection

This is the story of a man who returns from two years in Burma to find his wife in another man's apartment. When he wakes up he is in an asylum having confessed to murdering his wife. While in the care of the county he undergoes an operation to help with his debilitating headaches. After the surgery he realizes that he did not kill his wife and must try to clear his name so his son will know he is not a murderer. With the help of his doctor he searches for the real murderer and tries to clear his name. I was somewhat disappointed in the film. It could have been a wonderful film noir but it became very hokey with the use, twice, of truth serum. The extremely happy ending was also cheesy. What started off promising ended up a let down

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The Window (1949)

October Film Noir Selection

This is a retelling of the boy who cried wolf fable. Tommy Woodry is a 9 year old boy who loves to tell stories. When the movie opens he tells some other boys that his family is about to move from NYC to a ranch out west. This tale gets to the landlord who decides to show the apartment. Tommy's parents are fed up and make him promise to never tell lies again. That night, the heat is stifling so Tommy goes out on the fire escape to sleep when he notices there is a nicer breeze one floor up. While he is on the fire escape of the Kellerson's he sees the husband and wife kill a man through the gap in the blinds. When he tells his parents they obviously don't believe him. After he goes to the police, who also don't believe him, his mother makes him go upstairs and apologize to the neighbors. Once they know that their secret is in danger they decide to get rid of Tommy by any means necessary. This is a wonderful film and I am surprised that it is not better known. Bobby Driscoll is wonderful as the young Tommy. The film will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. A definite do not miss when it comes on TCM.

This was remade as:
The Boy Who Cried Murder (1866)
Eyewitness (1970)
Cloak & Dagger (1984 - a personal fave from my childhood)

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The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

The all time sci-fi classic. This is the story of an alien and his robot who come to Earth to warn us of the dangers of our ways. He warns that if we do not live peacefully we will be destroyed by the other beings in the universe. Of course the people of Earth are scared and do not want to listen to this alien man, Klaatu. He decides to try and blend in with humans and goes to live in a boarding house. Here he meets Helen and her son Bobby, who quickly becomes enamored of the man he knows as Carpenter. The alien must find out how to make the leaders of the world listen to him before it is to late. This is not a typical cheesy alien film like so many were in the 1950s. It has an interesting message and the cast is wonderful. A must see if you like alien or sci-fi films.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dancing with the Stars - Week 5

Tonight it is the rumba and the samba. Here we go!

Joey Lawrence (samba) - I agree with Len he holds back somewhat. He's very good but somewhat boring. Also, Edyta has some damn long legs!

Willa Ford (rumba) - I guess sleeping with your dancing partner really helps because that was hot!

Sara Evans (samba) - much better than last week but I feel like she is still kind of uptight.

Mario Lopez (rumba) - again the sleeping with your partner thing must help because that was also very hot!

Jerry Springer (samba) - Oh I just love him - he is to funny. However, a dancer he is not.

Monique Coleman (rumba) - Wow that final looked painful! She was excellent!

Emmitt Smith (samba) - form me he was hands down the best of the night!

So whose going home - maybe Monique? I really don't know.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage

This is an excellent recipe. I always make a full batch to take the extras for lunch the next day. I always look forward to fall when the weather turns colder so I can make this. I am stuffed full this yummy dish now as I type this.


Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1941)

This is an excellent adaptation of the classic story. Spencer Tracy stars as Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde the scientist whose experiment on himself goes terribly wrong. Lana Turner is Dr Jekyll's fiance and Ingrid Bergman is Mr Hyde's barmaid. The performances are wonderful. Spencer Tracy looks very scary as Mr Hyde. The facial expressions, makeup and fake teeth are terrifying. Bergman is wonderful but Turner seems one dimensional - although I feel that is the writer's fault and not hers. I have not seen any other adaptation of the book - other than the musical - so I have nothing to compare this version to but I really enjoyed the film.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Queen Christina (1933)

This is a wonderful movie with one of the most famous shots in cinema history. Greta Garbo stars as the former Queen of Sweden from the 1600s. She ascends to throne at the age of 6 when her father dies in war. She is raised and treated like a male and many people think she's a man. This includes the Spanish envoy who comes to ask her hand in marriage for his king. However, she hides her identity from him and they fall in love. She then has to decide whether to fulfill her duty or follow her heart. Garbo is wonderful in this performance. The final long shot of her on the bow of her ship is one of the most famous in movie history and was technically innovative for its time. For anyone who is a fan of bio-pics this is one not to miss.


Hush ... Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964)

This is a wonderful movie. It stars Bette Davis as Charlotte Hollis. In 1927 a young Charlotte was having an affair with a married man named John Mayhew. Her father found out about the affair and orders John to put an end to it. However, John ends up dead with his hand and head never found.
Now 37 years later Charlotte is a recluse who only has contact with her maid Velma. The entire town thinks she's a murderer and children torture her with a Lizzy Borden like song. To make matters worse a bridge and highway are being built and the government is trying to kick Charlotte out of her beloved home to make room for them. She writes to her cousin Miriam (played by Olivia De Haviland) and asks her to come and help her. However, when Miriam arrives her intentions may not be as pure as Charlotte believes. Bette and Olivia are wonderful in the movie. Agnes Moorehead is hard to recognize as plain Velma - a big change from Endora on Bewitched. The story starts a little slow but once it gets going it is intriguing and suspensful. A definite must see for any movie fan.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Thirteen Women (1932)

An interesting concept but it falls short on follow through. The movies stars Myrna Loy as Ursula Georgi, a woman tormented by her past. While at finishing school a clique of 12 girls tortured her so badly for being a "half-breed" that she had to leave. She decides to take her revenge when they write a round robin letter to the swami she works for. She uses her powers of hypnosis to make the swami's horrible predictions and to harm the women who tortured her so long ago. At first the leader of the group, Laura Stanhope (played by Irene Dunne)sees the events as coincidence until her son is targeted. Now she has to fight Ursula's plan to kill her son before it's to late. I like the concept of the film but it fell short. The ending was very abrupt and scattered. There were hints of what was to come but it seemed to just end and I hate when movies do that. This could have been a much better film and it was sad to see it not live up to its potential.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Lost season premiere


I was a little underwhelmed by the episode. It was interesting to see how the others live. I wonder how they got power out there on the island. I think they are trying to break Jack since he's the leader and they are hoping that he can keep the rest of the survivors in line. I know that Kate is supposed to choose between Jack and Sawyer in the first few episodes and they showed her kissing Sawyer in the previews. I hope she chooses Jack though - he is much cuter and nicer. I still think the people on the island got cut off by the creepy guy Ben (I always remember him as the serial killer stalking Lindsay on The Practice) and have gone mad. Now they are doing weird psychological experiments on people who come on the island. I am hoping next week we find out what happened to Desmond, Locke and Eko (drool). I still love the show though.


My Favorite Wife (1940)

I love this movie. Cary Grant stars as Nick Arden. When the movie begins he and his fiance are in a courtroom trying to have his wife declared legally dead. She shipwrecked 7 years before and it was believed that she drowned. However, as they are being married by the judge his wife Ellen shows up at their house. Once she realizes that he is taking the new wife to the same hotel they honeymooned at she heads off and that is when the screwball antics occur. This is Cary Grant at his best. He is funny and handsome. Irene Dunne is wonderful as Ellen and Gail Patrick is also terrific as the not so friendly second Mrs Arden. If you love the romantic comedies of the 1940s this is a must see.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Seven Keys to Baldpate (1929)

I was proud of the fact that I figured this movie out in the first 15 minutes. William is an author who has a $5000 bet with his friend that he can write a novel in 24 hours as long as his friend allows him complete solitude. His friend allows him the use of his inn, Baldpate, high in the mountains that is closed for the winter. Since William will have the only key is assured utter solitude. Unfortunately, there seem to be 6 more keys to the inn and the owners all decide to use them the night he is there. He then must unravel the mystery of hidden money, lying mystery women and crooked politicians. It was a cute movie but sort of predictable. It is a worthwhile catch on TCM though.


Dancing with the Stars - Week 4

This week it is the waltz and the paso doble (another fave of mine)

Monique Coleman (waltz) - the song sucked but the dance was beautiful. She did an excellent job.

Emmitt Smith (paso doble) - he was wonderful - much better than last week's tango

Willa Ford (waltz) - beautiful and elegant.

Sara Evans (paso doble) - she was way to timid and she maybe in trouble

Jerry Springer (waltz) - I had tears in my eyes because he loves his daughter so much. Plus he did a good job.

Vivica A. Fox (paso doble) - she did a great job and it suited her.

Joey Lawrence (waltz) - wow - that was wonderful.

Mario Lopez (paso doble) - he blows me away again. He is very talented.

I think this week Sara will go.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Before Dawn (1933)

This was a pretty good short movie. It is only an hour long but they pack a lot into that hour. On his deathbed Joe Valerie tells his doctor where to find the million dollars he and his gang stole and hid 15 years earlier. When one of the women guarding his fortune turns up dead - after claiming to see his ghost - the doctor, police and a clairvoyant all must unravel the mystery. While not the best mystery it was entertaining. I figured it out right at the beginning which I do not do very often. My only major complaint is not with the movie itself but with the quality of the actual film. I recorded this off Turner Classic Movies and the dialogue cut of three times for about 15-20 seconds each. Not major but I expected more from TCM. All in all though this is a fun movie to watch.