Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955)

Director: Otto Preminger

Writers: Milton Sperling, Emmet Lavery, Ben Hecht, Dalton Trumbo, Michael Wilson

Composer: Dimitri Tiomkin

Starring: Gary Cooper, Charles Bickford, Ralph Bellamy, Rod Steiger, Elizabeth Montgomery, Fred Clark, James Daly, Jack Lord, Peter Graves, Darren McGavin, Robert F. Simon, Charles Dingle, Dayton Lummis

More info: IMDb

Tagline: He defied the army and navy . . . and they gave him a Court Martial!

Plot: A dramatization of the American general and his court martial for publically complaining about High Command's dismissal and neglect of the aerial fighting forces.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

If you like your war dramas heavy on the drama and you love sitting in a courtroom for over an hour then this picture might be for you.  None of these things deter from this being a good picture.  It's technically well made.  The performances are good and it's neat seeing so many famous actors before they were famous.  I read that the family of Mitchell was disappointed in the casting of Cooper and they preferred Cagney because Mitchell was much shorter than Cooper and he had a hot headed temper.  Cooper doesn't play animated roles.  He's always very stoic and grounded much like Gregory Peck.  I'd like to see Cooper lose his shit one time and go on one hell of a mean streak tear.  He does fine in the role but I agree and thing Cagney would've been better suited.  Most of the film is the trial so knowing that helps prepare one for what's to come.  The title gives that away.  It's not so compelling that it warrants another watch but it is worth seeing once.

Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

Directors: George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Bernard Knowles

Writers: George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr,Mal Evans

Composers: George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr

Starring: George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr,Victor Spinetti, Jessie Robins, Miranda Forbes, Maggie Wright, Ivor Cutler

More info: IMDb

Plot: The Beatles charter a special bus for a surreal mystery tour.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I love The Beatles and I've been wanting to see this one for thirty years and all this time I've only heard that it's bad.  If it weren't for the great music it would be.  Also seeing The Beatles helps a lot.  The funny isn't funny and it looks like an excuse to get out of the house and make some kind of a movie.  They succeeded on that front but there's not much to see.  The songs are amazing and it is neat seeing some of them made as individual music videos.  Geez, I forgot about Victor Spinetti who pays the double speaking Army Sergeant.  He's fantastic.  I'd never heard anyone do English doublespeak before and he was great at it.  

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Yellow Tomahawk (1954)

Director: Lesley Selander

Writers: Richard Alan Simmons, Harold Jack Bloom

Composer: Les Baxter

Starring: Rory Calhoun, Peggie Castle, Noah Beery Jr., Warner Anderson, Peter Graves, Lee Van Cleef, Rita Moreno, Dan Riss, Walter Reed, Patrick Sexton, Robert Bray, Adam Willimas, James Best, Ned Glass

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  An Indian Scout and a Blonde Wildcat . . . They Faced the Most Savage of All Indian Raids!

Plot:  When the army insists on building a fort on Indian land, in defiance of a treaty, the warnings of a scout go unheeded.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Well here's another flick with Peter Graves and Peggie Castle that I watched close to one another (the other being THE BEGINNING OF THE END (1957).  Coincidences are neat, aren't they?  This picture is OK.  It benefits from the good cast.  There might be a little more romance than you'd want to see but it's not so much that the action takes forever to get to but it does slow the movie down some.  Rita Moreno is just adorable...

That's her putting the finishing touches on wasting a Gringo.  It's not the film's fault but IMDb says this was shot widecreen and in color.  As you can see, that's not how I saw it.  This was recorded from TCM a gazillion years ago.  B&W fullscreen is not the way to go on this one.  If you're looking for a decent time killer, this will suffice.  

Beginning of the End (1957)

Director: Bert I. Gordon

Writers: Fred Freiberger, Lester Gorn

Composer: Albert Glasser

Starring: Peter Graves, Peggie Castle, Morris Ankrum, Than Wyenn, Thomas Browne Henry, Richard Benedict, James Seay, John Close, Paul Frees

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Filmed in New Horrorscope!

Plot: Audrey Ames, an enterprising journalist, tries to get the scoop on giant grasshoppers accidentally created at the Illinois State experimental farm. She endeavors to save Chicago, despite a military cover-up.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I digs me some 50s horror/sci-fi pictures in this vein and this is one I haven't seen until now.  It's OK.  Graves is his usual wooden, too serious character.  All of the actors do a serviceable job.  The effects are low rent but then I'm sure this is the best they could do with their low budget but they're perfectly fine for what you would expect from pictures during this era.  It is a short film coming in at around an hour and fifteen minutes and I can't say that there's any real downtime or wasted space.  The swift pacing helps a lot.  Before you know it the good guys are pulling out their next to last chance (the last being dropping an atom bomb on Chicago) in their continuing effort to kill these grasshopper bastards.  The script is by the numbers but it is entertaining to a degree, just not as much as many other of this type in the 50s.  This is director Gordon's second picture.  Would you believe he's still alive?  That's awesome!  Go, Mr. B.I.G.!!!

Monday, September 18, 2017

King of Kings (1961)

Director: Nicholas Ray

Writer: Philip Yordan

Composer: Miklos Rozsa

Starring: Jeffrey Hunter, Siobhan McKenna, Hurd Hatfield, Ron Randell, Viveca Lindfors, Rita Gam, Carmen Sevilla, Brigid Bazlen, Harry Guardino, Rip Torn, Frank Thring, Guy Rolfe, Royal Dano, Robert Ryan, Jose Nieto, Ray Milland, Paul Naschy, Orson Welles

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The most exciting human drama the screen has ever told. A story of the Christ, His life, His deeds, the inspiration of His spoken words.

Plot: Jesus assembles a team to set forth and free his people.  He leads a dull life and relies on everyone around him to provide the entertainment and bring the adventure.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

It's funny because once Jesus is an adult he's wondering the countryside picking up guys like he's putting together a special team ala THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960).  All of that hilarity loses steam eventually because it settles into that mushy 'love thy neighbor' business only no one's really lovin' on anybody in any way that would bring any excitement to this picture. That tagline of being the most exciting human drama (blah, blah, blah) is bullshit.  There's one action scene about three quarters in (and this is a near-3 hour picture) and that's got some nice kills.  The movie's OK and it benefits from lots of nice outdoor locations, a beautiful score from Mikos Rozsa, narration by Orson Welles and seeing lots of famous actors, however I found Robert Ryan way out of place much like Edward G. Robinson in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956).  I love those actors but it felt weird seeing them in sword & sandal pictures.  I guess if you're a Christian you're predisposed to dig this movie.  I am not so I watch these biblical pictures as I do with any other movie.  This one's not bad.  Despite the periodic overacting (I dug Hurd Hatfield a lot, though) there is enough to like.  The Warner Bros. DVD has a great looking anamorphic widescreen print.  There are extras, too.  You get a vintage featurette on the making of the sermon on the mount scene (4 min), a vintage featurette on the premiere (2 min), and finally the theatrical trailer in anamorphic widescreen.

The Killing Kind (1973) movie poster

Director: Curtis Harrington

Writers: Tony Crechales, George Edwards

Composer: Andrew Belling

Starring: Ann Southern, John Savage, Ruth Roman, Luana Anders, Cindy Williams, Sue Bernard, Marjorie Eaton, Peter Brocco, Helen Winston

More info: IMDb

Taglne: When They Made the Mistake of Letting Him Out, She Made the Mistake of Letting Him In.

Plot: Young Terry Lambert returns home from serving a prison term for a gang-rape he was forced to participate in. He seeks revenge on his lawyer and the girl who framed him. But his real problem is his overbearing mother, whose boarding house he resides in and who keeps bringing him glasses of chocolate milk. One of her boarders, Lori, becomes attracted to him. However, while he was serving his prison sentence, Terry developed an interest in rough, violent sex, and gory death. Now, one by one, some of the town's women pop up dead.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Good flick.  It runs a little slow but not so slow that it draws attention to itself.  It's one of those psychological killer flicks where his mental scars run deep and they manifest into urges to kill whether it be for retribution or satisfaction or to recapture a burning memory.  The performances are all good and it's got a good story.  It's not a home run for me but it is good enough and compelling enough to give it a shot.  Nice ending, too.  After watching every movie I always check out IMDb for more on the cast, etc., and I see that the rape victim in this picture is Sue Bernard who most famously played the kidnap victim in FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! (1965).  I should've recognized her. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Who Done It? (1956)

Director: Basil Dearden

Writer: T.E.B. Clarke

Composer: Philip Green

Starring: Benny Hill, Belinda Lee, David Kossoff, Garry Marsh, George Margo, Ernest Thesiger, Denis Shaw, Frederick Schiller, Jeremy Hawk, Thorley Walters, Peter Bull, Arthur Lowe, Charles Hawtrey, Fabian

More info: IMDb

Plot: Hugo Dill leaves his job as a sweeper after winning some money. He becomes a private detective and investigates a plot to assassinate British scientists.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

I just adore Benny Hill and that's been going on since the 70s when I was a kid staying up late on Sunday nights to see the sexy broads on his show.  The world owes that man a great debt it could never pay.  This picture marks Hill's only starring role in a feature film.  Shocking, isn't it?  Equally shocking is that he was only in three other films with a credited role.  If it weren't for his prolific career on TV in the string of shows he had it wouldn't be so criminal.  This flick doesn't live up to Hill's comic genius but it is amusing and gives Hill a framework to showcase his talent in playing numerous comic characters with all manner of disguises, accents and personas.  That's where this film shines.  Hill is a delight to watch.  It's British so the actors do a wonderful job.  It also doesn't hurt that there are some familiar faces in the bunch.  I've seen a lot of British comedy from the 50s and 60s and I've gotten used to being amused and not laughing out loud.  Their sensibility is different.  That's not a bad thing, being amused.  I can enjoy that alongside shit that makes my sides hurt.  It's just different.  The Anchor Bay DVD looks fantastic in anamorphic widescreen B&W.  The only extra is a 30 minute film with Hill called THE WAITER (1969) which has Hill in a role that's familiar with fans of his 70s TV show.  This is a must have disc for fans.