Category Archives: maria montez

Cobra Woman

Cobra Woman ~ My friend Dan turned me on to Maria Montez and Jon Hall. I was aware of and knew about them but their films are not all that easy to find. Imagine my surprise recently when cruising HBO Go on my iPhone one late night looking for something to cure my insomnia when I came across Cobra Woman. On HBO of all places! Insomnia hell, I settled in for the long haul.

The first thing that hit me just in the opening credits was just how brilliant and striking the Technicolor was. Very bright, very crisp. The other thing that surprised me was that both Miso and Get Glue, the two apps I use to post on social media what I’m watching, had no recollection of the flick. This truly was a forgotten movie.

Sabu, who was Mowgli in the original Jungle Book the year before, gets third billing in this 1944 cult classic from Universal after Montez and Hall. Lon Chaney Jr. is also in there as well. The exotic Montez plays dual roles as kidnapped bride and her evil sister, high priestess of Cobra Island, Hall is the heroic groom, and Sabu the plucky sidekick.

Cobra Woman is pretty typical fare for Universal horror of the time had it been in black and white, but the lush and lavish Technicolor raises the bar on this one. The set design and the costumes more than make up for the clichéd story and adequate acting. Well, less than adequate acting for Montez, but her dazzling beauty helps to erase that.

Adventure, horror, romance, musical, and spectacle – why don’t they make movies like this any more? If you get a chance to see it, don’t miss Cobra Woman.

Dark City and Other Quickies

Dark City ~ This is a flick that I have up until recently only seen once, on the night it came out, and have hated ever since. Despite it being written by a writer I like – David Goyer, and it having actors I like – Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connolly and Richard O’Brien, and it being pseudo-goth-cyberpunk… I still hated it.

A recent episode of a podcast I quite like, Better in the Dark, praised this flick, so because I respect the folks involved, I decided to give this movie another shot. And unfortunately, even though I respect the opinions of Derrick and Tom, it didn’t do much to change my first impression.

Yeah, it looks cool, no denial there, but that’s just not enough. Kiefer’s weird halting speech pattern made me nuts. I wanted to reach into the screen and slap him every time he showed his face. Richard O’Brien is chilling and makes me wonder why he doesn’t work more often. Perhaps the shadow of Rocky Horror has truly scarred the man, and that’s a shame. And speaking of shames, Jennifer C. is plainly wasted here. Other than some interesting effects and O’Brien, it still doesn’t impress me. Sorry, guys.

Portrait of an Assassin ~ More shameless plugs here. I was turned on to Maria Montez by my friend Dan’s cool Cobrawoman Yahoo Group and when I saw this was available on Netflix I snapped it up. This French subtitled flick reminded me quite a bit of the old twist ending Tod Browning silents which charmed me right away. I liked this one quite a bit and can’t wait for more Maria Montez flicks to be available. What’s the hold up?

Mask of the Avenger ~ John Derek stars in this Italian retelling and relocating of Zorro, and it’s actually not bad once you get over the borrowing aspect. And Anthony Quinn puts his usual brilliant performance despite the lack of originality in the rest of the movie.

Up, Up and Away ~ This may have been the precursor/pilot to Disney’s more successful theatrical release Sky High. It’s the same subject matter and the same story roughly and was originally made for the Disney Channel. Set squarely in a superhero world, taken seriously with just the right amount of wink-wink going on for us geeks. Also look for a young E from “Entourage” as the bad guy. If you get a chance to see this, check it out. If only all superhero flicks were this good.