Man in the Attic (1953)

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Ugly does as ugly is:  there’s a lesson here, folks, Beware ugly people and that means Jack Palance, an actor rather limited by his foreboding appearance. What he lacked in looks he made up in horrible intensity.  In this B-movie adaptation of Marie Belloc Lowndes’ fictionalised Ripper tale, The Lodger (already done by Hitchcock and John Brahm) he’s the self-proclaimed pathologist renting a room in London c1888 from Helen Harley (Frances Bavier),  whose niece, dance hall performer Lily Bonner (Constance Smith) responds to him and ignores warnings about his odd behaviour while all around her London looks for Jack. Hugo Fregonese directs an oft-told tale with surprising dexterity, the theatrical shows are well staged, it’s commandingly shot by Leo Tover, Palance goes off the rails as only he can and it’s great to see Smith, Ireland’s answer to Hedy Lamarr, giving her considerable all as the decent, naive Parisian veteran – surely a contradiction in terms. Adapted by Barré Lyndon and Robert Presnell Jr, edited by the marvellous Marjorie Fowler.

Concussion (2015)

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How ironic that a movie whose tagline is ‘Tell the truth’ should have coasted on a wave of controversy because Will Smith (a Black actor, apparently it’s not enough just to be an actor any more) wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award. The truth is, this part-biopic of a forensic pathologist who linked neurological disorders similar to Alzheimer’s in NFL players to injuries they sustained during games is hackneyed and dull. Smith is unconvincing and his accent is distracting. And the whole unfolding of the one man against the system plot is about as predictable as an episode of General Hospital. This could have been made as a thriller and it would have worked a lot better. Frankly I feel like I’ve been hit over the head with a broom. There are some good supporting performances but they’re only by actors, not Black actors. Hey – can I get an award for being Black? I do hope I am not discriminated against for being white!  And hey, don’t let my being female put you off! I’m better than any man in the room! Sometimes you have to make a good film and give a good performance to be nominated. It’s not enough to show up.You know I’m right! It’s all in the title, really. Yawn.