harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

review of A Face in the Fog (part II)

The review was too long for LJ to post in one go:

Scene 40: They find Frank's room number (presumably from the front desk, though we don't see it). They prepare to storm his room on the offchance that The Other Reported Fiend is there.

Scene 41: In the meanwhile, being reporters, Frank has contacted his Editor rather than the police as he and Jean huddle in her room. She appears to be writing up an account.

Da Chief knocks and insists they open the door.

There is some more mocking of Elmer. Da Chief shares that he is convinced that Reardon will prove to be The Fiend and orders Frank, Elmer and Jean to be at the theatre for the big reveal of the plot the following morning.

Commentary: There seems to be a formula to these early movies; they start with me saying "This isn't actually too bad, it's at least an average 3 stars outta 5" and then at about the 2/3'ds point, I'm like, "I hate you". It's happening here now, because the Komedy Relief isn't comedy and the script is starting to feel haphazard and there are scenes that aren't needed and the tension is being sucked out of the killer-on-the-loose plot by a group of people repeatedly standing around talking about nothing that is giving us any information about what is going on. Good-bye average score.

Scene 42: The following morning, we've gathered at the stage where Wallington was murdered. As they wait for Officer Kelly to arrive with Reardon in tow, Jean and Frank discuss why Reardon would ruin his show with Fortune.

Fortune moves off toward the curtains to smoke.

Scene 43: The theatre owners, meanwhile, are discussing the collapse of the show thanks to the murder business that has fallen down on their heads. One of them wonders who'd come to see their show now (obviously an era-dissonance... now, they'd be beating gawkers away with a stick) and it's mentioned that Reardon had asked for a raise and it was turned down. Now, that seems like it was a bad choice.

Commentary: Yeah. Thanks for that badly acted and relatively pointless scene. We get it... all of the circumstantial evidence is stacked against Reardon, which is why he isn't the killer but is the Red Herring.

Scene 44: Elsewhere, the dancers are discussing how scared they are still being in the theatre and waiting for a probable murderer to be escorted in. Elmer tries to play the protector and is mocked. Next.


Scene 45: With Reardon arrived, Da Chief begins to arrange everyone as they were when the murder occurred. Reardon is caught in either a mistaken statement or a lie about where he was when Wallington died, so Da Chief makes him stand in the murder victim's place. He keeps insisting that he isn't The Fiend and doesn't know who is (while NOBODY asks him what he was playing at by dressing up as The Fiend in an alleged stranger's place {the unseen Sanchee}).

Everyone takes as long as possible to get into position, Reardon in obvious discomfort and nervousness at being placed in the role of victim. Despite Fortune not technically needing to be there, the Chief has him stay, but out of the way, in case he can notice something the rest are missing as they go through the re-enactment.

Scene 46: Da Chief orders the lights turned off in replication of the conditions when Wallington was murdered causing a freak out by Reardon (who doesn't take this opportunity to run away).

Reardon decides it's time to admit his role in things, but he claims that The Fiend threatened him and left him notes with instructions. He claims that he was to take the bundle with the cloak to the location where he was caught, but that he was doing it all under duress and in fear of his life. He's asked the identity of the man who threatened him, but Reardon doesn't know for sure. Just as he's about to make a supposition though, he's shot by the Silent Ice Bullet of Poison from a hand in the darkness. G'Bye Reardon.

Scene 47: With Reardon's dying gasps, the lights are brought back up and everyone rushes around his fallen body. Da Chief reports he's dead. With this news, a guy who is somehow hanging out off stage unnoticed, gets a (mugging for the camera) look of shock and tries to escape from a side door. He's quickly grabbed and dragged to the main group by Frank.

The new guy is identified as Caldwell, who runs a theatre nearby that is a competitor to our theatre owners. Caldwell claims that he had nothing to do with anything, but that he had been passed by a man with a gun in the dark, which is why he made his panicky flight.

Commentary: REALLY?? We're introducing a side-character that has nothing to do with anything this late in the film? His crucial "there was a guy with a gun, which is why you see this dead guy here" couldn't have been handled by ANYONE else already there with a bit part?? Man, I wish this would end, already. I refuse to believe it has only been 36 minutes of movie (out of an alleged 55 minutes).

Fortune agrees with Da Chief that Caldwell's being there is way too convenient and he's ordered taken away to the station.

Commentary: I'm suspecting that Peter Fortune is going to be our brilliant-but-mad amateur sleuth/murderer, though I haven't come up with a motive. I was also suspecting that Elmer wasn't as dumb as he was letting on and was the killer, but that could only work if some of what we've seen was cheating to hide his involvement.

Caldwell is escorted out (un-handcuffed) while the Chief asks for further assistance working things out from Fortune and everyone else is ordered to stay present until the coroner gets there.

Caldwell and Kelly go past the stage manager at his desk and the oblivious to the latest murder Elmer (oh, Komedy... how unfunny you are).

Da Chief, Fortune and somebody-or-other also leaves, passing by Elmer and scorning him.

Scene 48: (Jeeezus... how many scenes are there going to be in this... and it's LESS THAN AN HOUR; I wonder if this is part of the pacing problem. It feels like we should be wrapping this up by now.)

Back with Frank and Jean, she tells him this whole thing has been a nightmare and he comforts that at least The Fiend missed her again.

Scene 49: In the meantime, the theatre owners are telling the dancers that the show will-not-go-on, at least not until after The Fiend is for sure captured. Meanwhile Elmer makes a return to the stage and panics at seeing Reardon dead. This gets him more scorn from Frank. He leaves Jean with Elmer and the corpse to "look around".

Commentary: WHATEVER. END!

Scene 50: Frank manages to find a cigarette case on the floor backstage and realizes he's seen it before!

Scene 51: In a horrible cut (but film damage, or the way it was presented I can't tell because this whole next scene is damaged with jumping, lost dialog and out of syncness- Y'know what, screw my comment at the beginning about not harping on MILL CREEK ... THIS IS JUST SHODDY), Frank reports to Editor-in-Chief with Jean and Elmer in tow.

Yes. Not to the police, but to their newspaper while continuing to manhandle a piece of evidence in a multiple murder case. I hate you, Frank.

Oh, and apparently in the last three scenes, Jean and Frank have become "darlings" to one another because every film MUST have a love story crowbarred into it.

So... apparently Frank has a plan to draw out Peter as their killer, which everyone just shrugs about and goes on about their business. Oh, and Editor-in-Chief shows Elmer some scorn.

Frank calls the newspaper morgue to start having them pull everything they have in regards to the playwright, Peter Fortune.

Scene 52: Frank finds an article of interest....

Scene 53: Frank next goes to the theatre owners, and claims he's writing a feature story on Peter Fortune. He asks for any old photographs they may have of the amateur sleuth.

Commentary: I'm overusing "sleuth" in this review... sorry... I just like the word rather than amateur detective, when it comes to these old black & whites for some reason.

The three have a discussion, where Frank mentions the article of interest he found in the newspaper's files. It seems that right around the time of Peter's very first produced stage script, the theatre where the show was being arranged burned down to the ground. The theatre owners were actually the producers of that play. Frank shows them a photo that they handed to him, and asks about a man standing next to Peter, which is confirmed to be his brother.

Peter's brother apparently burned to death in that fire.

Scene 54: Meantime, we're back to the police station, where Peter is feeling his pockets for his lost cigarette case. He makes a quick exit.

Scene 55: Frank is talking to somebody or another about that fire. The guy confirms that arson was suspected, but not enough evidence was found either way.

Scene 56: Peter, meanwhile, has dropped in on his ol' play producer pals to ask about the missing cigarette case. He goes to look backstage.

Scene 57: Back to Editor-in-Chief, where Frank tells him that he's found a reason that Peter would want to financially ruin the theatre owners by sabotaging the staging of his play via murdering the cast. Franks lays out the whole story starting with the theatre fire 10 years ago... but we jump away...

Scene 58: ... to Peter Fortune being greeted by the stage manager. He goes to look for his case.

Commentary: Oh, for Mercy's Sake, get on with it. We don't need to see the minutiae of Peter's searching for his cigarette case, or Frank's coming up with his astounding theory based on nothing, but finding the case where it could have been dropped at any time which he couldn't bother to take to the police even though Jean is still supposedly a target of the madman. This movie's score is dropping fast.

We see Peter hone right in on that random spot where his cigarette case was found by Frank and fail to find it himself. He leaves.

Scene 59: Meanwhile, the Editor is calling Frank out on his wild theory with no evidence. He specifically mentions the ludicrous idea that the cigarette case would prove a damned thing, except that Peter should be more mindful of it. He tells Frank he should return it to Fortune.

Frank chooses to be pig-headed. Elmer comes in. He's given an assignment, but not before he hears Frank mention trailing "him", though he couldn't have any idea who he's speaking about.

Scene 60: *SIGH* Elmer drives off to his assignment, when Peter happens to pass him on the road. He chooses to follow Fortune for no good reason, and right on top of his ass, making him the worst tail in the history of trailing someone. Peter doesn't notice.

He goes and lets himself into "Sanchee's" place with a key. He pats a coat or something and expresses his gratitude toward 'Sanchee' while outside Elmer sneaks up to spy on him
(pantomiming-muggingly-for-the-camera sneaks, that is -- he might as well be Shaggy).

Elmer sees Peter hide the gun in a fireplace or kiln or something.

He's nearly caught (but not nearly enough... the death of a major secondary player could only help at this point... in fact, Peter Fortune turning into Jason Voorhees and slicing and dicing through the cast would really help). For some reason, Peter leaves without locking the door. Elmer pursues him.

Commentary: I am going to give a kudos to the film crew for location shooting here. We've left the sets in order to follow Elmer following Peter and we're out on the busy streets of wherever we are (I don't think they've mentioned the city... we'll go with L.A. since it clearly isn't New York or Chicago).

Unfortunately, Elmer's chance to play hero is ruined when he gets a sudden flat (well, except for going to a phone, calling the police and reporting the hidden gun placed there by Peter and having them discover it is the ice-bullet gun and then solving everything before dullard-and-unpleasant Frank can get the glory).

Scene 61: At the Editor-in-Chief's office, Frank turns in the latest article on Caldwell being the latest suspect when random young man comes in to report someone is there to see him.

It is Fortune, who is there to ask about his lost cigarette case. Frank claims not to have, but Peter has spotted it in his inner jacket pocket.

They blah-blah in not-even-trying-to-be-clever ways and then Fortune excuses himself, claiming he's off to meet with Sanchee. As soon as he walks out, Frank rushes for his gun kept in his desk at work (ahhh... a more innocent time).

Scene 62: Peter gets in his car, as Frank comes out of the building and they share a glance with Peter smirking and Frank trying to seem casual.

In the meantime, Elmer has gotten his tire fixed and rushed back to the office to inform Frank that he's right in suspecting Peter (but not to the police, of course).

Scene 63: Elmer, not finding Frank, reports everything to Jean. She's excited at the prospect of receiving a reward... or something... I must have zoned out during that. They talk about her and Frank getting married (wait, wait... when did this all happen??) instead of discussing... oh... the police.

They find out from passing random guy that Frank left and random thinks he was going with Peter, which sends them into a tizzy. Elmer is proactive and rushes out to catch up with Frank and warn him he's with a probable-killer. Jean passively sits there and looks mildly concerned.

Scene 64: (REALLY? 64 mother-fucking scenes in a movie less than an hour long?!)

Driving, following, driving, following... looks to be the same road leading to 'Samchee' shack. Yes, they go to the shack, with Frank following in the exact footsteps of Elmer.

Frank spies on Peter thanking Samchee (AND, I GOT IT. "Samchee" is the brother that burned to death and he's talking to his coat that he has on a chair, here. It's kinda pathos-y, except for not choosing a name that doesn't sound like Frankie getting me confused thinking he was talking about Frank.) for helping him out again.

Peter grabs up a gun and waits for Frank to rush in... this is not the gun that he hid in the fireplace/kiln thingie.

Scene 65: Frank is taken completely unawares as he rushes in and Peter sticks-'em-up and takes possession of his gun. He next demands his cigarette case back. Peter introduces Frank to "Samchee", proving without a doubt that he's a loon. Peter also talks too much and confirms everything that Frank thought was going on (vengeance against the theatre owners for the death of his brother, except in a way that he kills random actors instead of them).

In the meantime, a police car races toward the scene with Elmer.




We find out why Peter was so concerned with getting his case back from Frank (it has the frozen bullet shells in a secret panel). Peter gets ready to shoot Frank, finally, but then there is a off screen shot (the film is damaged again, so we don't know just what happened until a moment later). This turns out to be Kelly, who shot through the window.

Elmer confirms that Peter is dead, and Frank nearly-embraces him and asks him to remind him later to never ignore him again (kiss! kiss! kiss! kiss!  They don't).

Frank asks if he brought his camera, but Elmer forgot it at the office... Frank immediately makes strangling motions... wah-wah-waaaaahhhhhh.

Scene 66: Newpaper Article Headline! Includes focus on Sub-Headline! And basically tells us what we just saw... Peter was nuts, he was killed, case solved.

This was Frank's article and he gets joshing by Editor... blah-blah, story over, end already. Frank gives credit for Peter's undoing to Elmer and offers him the reward check.

Elmer refuses, presenting it back to he and Jean as a wedding present. There is a... joke?... and we finally go to black.

Somehow, my DVD counter reads 55 minutes, 03 seconds. I swear it's been 2 hours.

The Good: The frozen, concentrated bullet shells used to murder was a clever murder weapon (but there are two major caveats that spoil it).

I like that Elmer was nearly-redeemed as a character by a) toning down his odious mugging in some scenes and b) making him a hero and being responsible for Frank's save.

I liked the Wallington murder sequence.

The Bad: The pacing, the underacting that adds to the pacing lag, the pointless scenes and the scenes that start with a point but then drag out, all of which add to the pacing.

June Collyer simply underacts far too much to convey someone who had an intruder in her home with intentions of murdering her... to a ridiculous degree. It could almost be a parody of the somebody-just-tried-to-kill-me trope.

Lloyd Hughes is also horribly wooden, not to mention the fact that his character is so smug, insulting and unlikeable.

Reardon as the Red Herring had no where near enough explanation to justify his actions.

The amounts of time spent NOT going to the police where it would be the most logical thing to do is, well - ridiculous - again. On the otherhand, the Da Chief doesn't really act like a man with years of experience in police work, so maybe that's deliberate, if unspoken.

There are a few times when Al St. John's mugging makes him the odious komedy relief, and that is too bad, because when he's not being a clown he can actually act. In fact, I might even be pursuaded that he's the strongest in this ensemble.

The introduction of Caldwell and his (false) arrest is completely random and pointless.

Frank's entire "I think Peter is the killer" is... WHAT?! BASED ON...?! A dropped cigarette case. And an entirely convenient and easily found back story.

Other Thoughts: As much as I liked the frozen poison bullet gun, I immediately wondered why it was so quiet... I thought it was more film damage, but no... the gun is somehow able to fire completely silently and send the frozen missle across a room. Sure.

Also, the frozen bullets being inside the cigarette case is just not possible. There is nothing in the case to indicate that they wouldn't melt. We're even given a close up and there isn't any dialog during this to indicate its been insulated... and even if it were... it just couldn't keep the temperature low enough for the length of time that it is in somebody possession (either Peter or Frank's).

Lawrence Gray is really miscast as Peter Fortune, Gentleman Detective. And then he just turns into Overacted!Nutto, but on the other hand he's attractive (kind of like if Zachary Quinto had a baby with Hugo Weaving) and he's at least giving energy to the scenes in which Lloyd is standing there like a block of wood.

The ending is really bizarre in movie-terms. Frank doesn't get the upper hand over Peter, so he isn't the big hero even though he's been set up to be. But, he isn't killed either to give a shocking twist, or downer ending... he's just there when the story resolves itself. This is the same thing with Jean... she's set up to be our heroine and you'd expect that at some point she'd be taken hostage/prisoner by the bad guy of the plot, but this never happens. In fact, except for the very opening, Jean isn't ever placed in direct danger ... even when she really SHOULD be, as somebody who allegedly got a glimpse of the killer's face. Finally, they have the bad guy shot dead by a practically cameo character...! It's not even Da Chief that shoots him through the window.

The Scoring: Y'know, this movie really did start out fine before it just started to wander around and then turned actively plodding and kinda dumb. I want to give it a decent score, but by the 35 minute mark, I was begging for mercy. I put this completely down to the directing which caused horrible pacing problems, underacting, mugging inappropriately, illogical plot developments (which is also on the scripters, who also receive some negative points - but they almost even out with the positives) and a feeling of a movie that is far, far longer than it actually is.

2.0 out of 5 (just barely missing a anti-recommendation tag)

Cool Title, though.

Tags: review a face in the fog

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