Sunday, July 24, 2016

Rawhide (1951)

Director: Henry Hathaway

Writer: Dudley Nichols

Composer: Sol Kaplan

Starring: Tyrone Power, Susan Hayward, Hugh Marlowe, Dean Jagger, Edgar Buchanan, Jack Elam, George Tobias, Jeff Corey, James Millican, Louis Jean Heydt

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  A story told with a blazing .44!

Plot:  A stagecoach stop employee and a stranded woman traveler find themselves at the mercy of four desperate outlaws intent on robbing the next day's gold shipment.

My rating:  7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

Man, what a good flick!  Vinnie (Hayward) got on my nerves for a while due to her pissy attitude but over time I got where she was coming from and it didn't bother me.  The performances all around are very good.  It's a dark film for its time which makes it all the better.  The location shooting in Lone Pine, CA is gorgeous.  I could get used to living there.  Hugh Marlowe plays the lead villain but it's Jack Elam that takes the cake as the dumb and dangerous Tevis.  He's the hardened type that's a powder keg just waiting to go off when pushed too far and he does.  The direction is top notch, too.  There's a scene where a letter asking for help falls out of Tom's (Power) shirt unbeknownst to him.  The wind takes it near Rafe's (Marlowe) feet but he doesn't see it.  Then it blows over and hangs onto a lantern and just when Rafe goes to pick up the lantern (still not seeing it), the note blows away again.  There's no music and it looks like it happened as naturally as the wind.  It's a brilliantly executed scene.  The ending is balls-out incredible, especially when the baby shows up in the middle of the gunfight.  WOW!  And you could tell that baby (no more than 2 years old) was scared shitless.  It was awesome!  Tom's last line in the film is cheesy but it's the Hollywood thing to do.  Still, this is a more mature picture than what you'd expect, and it's a Western which makes it even better.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1984)

Director: Stephen Weeks

Writers: Stephen Weeks, Howard C. Pen, Philip M. Breen

Composer: Ron Geesin

Starring: Miles O'Keeffe, Cyrielle Clair, Leigh Lawson, Sean Connery, Trevor Howard, Peter Cushing, Ronald Lacey, Lila Kedrova, John Rhys-Davies, Wilfrid Brambell, Bruce Lidington, Douglas Wilmer, Brian Coburn, David Rappaport, Emma Sutton, THomas Heathcote, John Serret, Mike Edmonds, Peter Firth

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Men of iron...blades of steel

Plot: Gawain was a squire in King Arthur's court when the Green Knight burst in and offered to play a game with a brave knight. No knights stand to defend their king's honor. Except for the valiant Gawain. After being quickly knighted Gawain plays the game, but learns that it's all a trick, and he has lost. But the Green Knight shows mercy, letting Gawain grow a year older before having to face the consequences. Gawain journeys across the land, learning about life, saving damsels, and solving the Green Knight's riddle.

My rating:  6/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

What a cast!  The first half hour is fast paced, exciting and fun.  Connery has one hell of an entrance.  The green glitter on his face and green hair was a bit much but who the hell cares, it's Sean Fucking Connery.   The picture stays fun for a little while after Gawain begins his quest but sadly there are a few too many slow, drab spots.  Connery pops in for a few seconds here and there which helps a lot.  There's a little bit of humor but not enough.  The special effects aren't too shabby.  I'm curious as to what the budget was.  It's a good looking picture with some nice locations, costumes and so on.  And that cast is fantastic!  The ONE big issue I have is the horrid synthesizer score.  It's really bad and hurts the picture.  If the filmmakers had sprung more on the score by getting a better composer and using an orchestra it would've helped this picture a lot.  A LOT.  The really low IMDb score is unjust.  It's not that bad of a film.  The actors are all bringing it.  Connery could've easily phoned it in but he didn't.  He's as robust as ever and plays the part with much vigor.  The same goes for many others.  John Rhys-Davies plays an over-bearing Baron and he relishes in the tyrannical role.  He's awesome!  It's too bad he's also barely in the film.  There are a lot of familiar faces here that you've seen before which adds to the fun when someone new hits the screen for the first time.  

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Client (1994)

Director: Joel Schumacher

Writers: John Grisham, Akiva Goldsman, Robert Getchell

Composer: Howard Shore

Starring: Susan Sarandon, Tommy Lee Jones, Mary-Louise Parker, Anthony LaPaglia, J.T. Walsh, Anthony Edwards, Brad Renfro, Will Patton, Bradley Whitford, Anthony Heald, Kim Coates, Kimberly Scott, David Speck, William H. Macy, Ossie Davis, Micole Mercurio, William Sanderson, Dan Castellaneta, John Diehl

More info: IMDB

Tagline: A District Attorney Out For A Conviction. A New Lawyer Out Of Her League. A Young Boy Who Knew Too Much.

Plot: A young boy who witnessed the suicide of a mafia lawyer hires an attorney to protect him when the district attorney tries to use him to take down a mob family.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I'm kind of surprised at how much I enjoyed this.  I really dig the cast.  It's a lot of fun watching Tommy Lee Jones be a likable bastard.  I thought the kid (Renfro) did a pretty good job, another surprise.  He seemed to behave in a way that a kid from a severely broken family would but, and this is a big BUT, I didn't find it realistic that he would be in control for the entire film and make things happen the way that they did.  Maybe if he were older.  I'm really surprised that Reggie (Sarandon) didn't put the brakes on that little fucker early on and get that sumbitch to tell her what the hell was going on.  But then we wouldn't have much of a movie if she had.  Despite that, it's still a good thriller with some great performances, a moody score, and good direction from Schumacher, a director I'm liking more and more. He's made some really good films.  The Warner Bros. snapecase DVD has a nice anamorphic widescreen print and the sole extra is the theatrical trailer (also anamorphic widescreen).

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Gangs of New York (1938)

Director: James Cruze

Writers: Herbert Asbury, Samuel Fuller, Charles F. Royal, Wellyn Totman

Composer: Alberto Colombo

Starring: Charles Bickford, Ann Dvorak, Alan Baxter, Wynne Gibson, Harold Huber, Willard Robertson, Maxie Rosenbloom, Charles Trowbridge, John Wray, Jonathan Hale

More info: IMDb

Tagline: War declared on gangland

Plot: The undercover cop Rocky Thorpe infiltrates a crime syndicate being run by the incarcerated mob boss John Franklin. Franklin conducts his business via a short-wave radio concealed in his cell. One day Franklin is caught and placed in solitary confinement. Thorpe, Franklin's physical double, takes his place. Soon changes in the gang's activities are subtly made. Thorpe orders the mob to keep careful records of their activities, to gather enough evidence to convict them all. Trouble ensues when Franklin escapes from jail.

My rating:  6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

I watched this only because it's a 30s crime picture and the title (I still haven't finished Scorsese's picture of the same name).  It's not that bad.  I rather liked it.  It's loaded with cliches but who cares, it's a 1930s gangster picture.  It's also 67 minutes long and it goes by pretty quick.  That 30s gangster dialogue is always fun.  The performances are good and fun, too.  The story is a lot more ambitious (an undercover cop posing as a mob boss uniting all of the gangs of NY into once syndicate) than the 20-30 minutes allow but it works enough to still be able to enjoy the picture. 

The whole idea of a lookalike secretly stepping into their doppleganger's shoes is ridiculous when you think about it.  I did and only in very particular circumstances can I see it being successful.  If Mrs. Scorethefilm came home one night after working the mean streets of Anytown, USA and into my arms, I don't think it would take but a few seconds to smell the fix.  Even if you feign an illness or a lapse in being 'normal', I'd suspect something was up.  And to that degree, if you had a good hunch that your significant other had been switched out (for whatever reason), would you feel bad about bangin' him/her?  How weird would that be.  I'd love to part of that experiment.  Would the real Mrs. Scorethefilm get pissed?  Probably not.  Considering the circumstance, I think you'd get a pass.  And then the real fun begins when she insists on a three-way.  That leads me to another question, would you have a three-way with your significant other if the third person was YOUR doppleganger?  Hells, yeah.  That'd be one devastatingly handsome mother fucker.  It'd just be taking self masturbation to the next few levels.  It's amazing what can happen when you watch an almost 80 year old movie.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Cottonpickin' Chickenpickers (1967)

Director: Larry E. Jackson

Writers: Robert V. Barron, Larry E. Jackson

Composer: ???

Starring: Del Reeves, Hugh X. Lewis, Sonny Tufts, David Houston, Greta Thyssen, Maxie Rosenbloom, Lila Lee, Tommy Noonan, Hank Mills, Philip Hunter, Margie Bowes, David Wilkins, J.D. Marshall, Theodore Lehmann, Birgitta Andersson, Robert V. Barron, Mel Tillis, Jack Morey, Buck Bayliss

More info: IMDb

Tagline: It's a Swamp Romp

Plot: Hayseeds abound in this musical comedy, two star-struck hoboes hop what they think is a west-bound train that will land them in Hollywood. Well, it's going to Hollywood all right, but unfortunately its destination is Hollywood, Florida. The two become so hungry along the way that they are forced to ditch the train. They end up somewhere in the deep South and eventually try to swipe a hen. Unfortunately, they get caught by the Zickafoose family who chase them all about. Soon white lightning runners are also after them and all sorts of chaos ensues.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

You might not know it by just the names in the cast but this dumb ass picture is loaded with talent.  For one example, Lila Lee (in her last film) made almost 100 pictures dating back to 1918!  This flick is one of those dumb Hicksploitation cheapies that were in abundance in the late 60s and 70s.  It's low budget, the acting isn't meant to be good, the Southern stereotypes are all over this and the humor is so dumb that I doubt many people over the age of 8 will laugh much.  But, and this is a big BUT, it's not nearly as bad as many I've seen.  The Florida location shooting is marvelous.  The moss hanging from the trees, rivers, swamps, etc. are great.  There's a chase down a river with an airboat being pursued by an aqua car or whatever it's called.  A cherry red covertible drives off the road and into the water.  A couple of minutes later the airboat has somehow made it's way on a backwoods road and blasts through the police roadblock.  The fuck?

The plot is simple but it's interrupted periodically with a string of country songs, some of which are not bad at all.  Mell Tillis (his first movie acting gig) has a small speaking role (where he doesn't stutter) and a song. I did laugh a little and it was mostly at Tommy Noonan (also his last picture).  I'm giving it a slightly higher score because it's not as bad as most of its type, I did end up laughing a little, the songs aren't band and are welcome (and there's a bunch) and at least they don't have the police being complete and utter incompetent dumb fucks (although they have degrees of idiocy).  As lame as this movie sounds, there are enough small reasons to want to watch it, even if you probably aren't likely to enjoy it. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

City Beneath the Sea (1971)

Director: Irwin Allen

Writers: John Meredyth Lucas, Irwin Allen

Composer: Richard LaSalle

Starring: Stuart Whitman, Rosemary Forsyth, Robert Colbert, Burr DeBenning, Susana Miranda, Paul Stewart, Whit Bissell, Richard Basehart, Joseph Cotten, James Darren, Sugar Ray Robinson, Larry Pennell, William Bryant, Robert Dowdell, Edward G. Robinson Jr., Robert Wagner

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Theirs was the most dangerous mission in history . . . to save the world from total destruction!

Plot: A group of 21st-century colonists inhabit an underwater city called Pacifica. They find that they must defend their city against hostile alien forces.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

From what I can see this was based on a failed TV pilot Allen made two years earlier...and it often feels like it, too.  Everyone is taking this way too seriously and the dialogue re-enforces that.  Admiral Matthews gets a ton of shit from a lot of folks about his responsibility for the death of a beloved man.  Nobody will let him (or us) forget about it and they hammer that shit into the ground to the point of my yelling at the TV, "enough already".  Of course the Admiral is found innocent and those who really killed the guy are found out.  It's neat seeing Robert Wagner (sporting a 70s cop/porn stache) playing the main villain.  There's a lot of filler in the form of scenes of "action" going on for far too long, as in we're seeing a rescue attempt in real time.  The effects are all over the place from laughable to pretty damn good.  The sets look low budget and I wouldn't be surprised if it was directly because of the budget.  More time should've been spent on the script/dialogue and in making the film more fun instead of being so drab. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Come Blow Your Horn (1963)

Director: Bud Yorkin

Writers: Neil Simon, Norman Lear

Composer: Nelson Riddle

Starring: Frank Sinatra, Lee J. Cobb, Molly Picon, Barbara Rush, Jill St. John, Dan Blocker, Phyllis McGuire, Tony Bill

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  I tell ya, chum...laughs it is!

Plot:  A New York playboy teaches his kid brother what he knows, to their parents' dismay.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Sinatra is great and he's believable as an excited brother but he looks soooooo much older than Tony Bill that it took me out of it.  Still, Sinatra is fun to watch.  Bill, on the other hand, is not.  He's annoying.  I'm sure that was the idea but his performance bugged me.  This is based on Neil Simon's play and some of it feels like it, as in the performances sometimes feeling better suited for the stage.  If you take a comedy scene from a play and put it in a film, it's often going to come across as over the top and too silly and obnoxious.  That happens a lot in this picture.  Sinatra's terrific as usual.  Cobb & Picon play their parents and they're fun (although Cobb is only 4 years older than Sinatra so there's that).  The story is good as is so many other bits but it's the over the top-ness and Bill's annoyance that kept me from enjoying it more.  Take Sinatra out of the picture and the score drops a point or two.  Dean Martin's cameo was a bright spot.