Monday, June 30, 2008

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

Director: Peter R. Hunt

Starring: George Lazenby, Diana "Check out my" Rigg, Telly Savalas

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: James Bond 007 is back!

Plot: James Bond woos a mob boss's daughter and goes undercover to uncover the true reason for Blofeld's allergy research in the Swiss Alps that involves beautiful women from around the world.

My Rating: 9.5 /10

Would I watch it again? Duh

Sean Connery made a great Bond but he really only had 3 excellent (of 6 total - NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN doesn't really count, if it does then make that 7) films - the first three. After GOLDFINGER they went downhill. Lazenby, though very different, also makes a great Bond. And this picture proves it.

Peter Hunt, the editor for the Bond films up to that point, knocks this out of the fucking ballpark. So much so that I have to question if some of the other film makers were even playing the same sport. OHMSS is such a departure from the previous films with the exception of FRWL. These two share a couple of things in common. They follow the Fleming novels closer than any of the other films by miles, and they're both very serious in tone; something we wouldn't see until 1981 with FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.

Bond's obsession with Blofeld comes to a fever pitch in OHMSS. Lazenby does a fantastic job with the action sequences as well as comedy and drama. The pre-credit set-piece is filled with mystery and white knuckle action ending with the famous ice-breaking "wink, wink here's a new actor playing everyone's favorite spy" line, "This never happened to the other fella!". It's a great way to soften the blow while introducing a new actor to this beloved role that has iconically been associated with Connery.

If I have one complaint it's this. They should've lessened the number of throw away lines/puns used by Bond. Lazenby is burdened by portraying a bit too much aloofness, something that, even though I LOVE Roger Moore's take on the character, Moore took and ran with. It doesn't work as well with Lazenby.

As for the rest of the cast, they're wonderful. Kudos to getting Savalas as Blofeld. He's a badass and for once they get someone who is actually menacing and imposing. Rigg is just beautiful and full of spunk that presents a welcome challenge to Bond's ego. Much like Pussy Galore, Rigg's Tracy is at odds with Bond and unlike Pussy, Tracy reluctantly falls in love for him. Pussy just went from Lesbian to straight with one roll in z hay. With Tracy, Bond has to actively woo and pursue her.

Their relationship is very plausible and feels legitimate. It's not as forced as in CASINO ROYALE (2006). There is true tenderness under all of these magnificent locations, action set-pieces and colorful characters. Take the following scene where, after a great car chase, Bond and Tracy find themselves taking refuge in a hay-filled barn during a raging snow storm. They both behave in ways that directly oppose how we would normally see them. Tracy is honest and knows the score. She believes that he cannot ever truly love her. He, on the other hand, feels that he could never love another. In these pictures, Bond is the one who's without emotion and it's his conquests who feel a love for a man who cannot reciprocate. Everything about this scene is brilliantly played out including probably John Barry's finest Bond score. The warm strings (playing "We Have All the Time in the World") that underscore this scene perfectly sew everything together.

Tracy: What really went on up there, James?
Bond: Um mm. Her Majesty's Secret Service is still my job.
Tracy: But there isn't anything you can do about your job at the moment, is there.
Bond: Mmm.
Tracy: Then why are you thinking about it now?
Bond: I'm not. I'm thinking about us. Tracy, an agent (chokes up) shouldn't be concerned with anything but himself.
Tracy: I understand. We'll just have to go on the way we are.
Bond: No. I'll have to find something else to do.
Tracy: Are you sure, James?
Bond: I love you. I know I'll never find another girl like you. (BIG pause as he continues to gaze into her eyes). Will you marry me?
Tracy: (another long pause) You mean it?
Bond: I mean it. (followed by a long, deep, sensuous kiss). Mr. & Mrs. James Bond.

I'm choking up just thinking about it. It's by far the most emotional moment in the entire series. I LOVED CASINO ROYALE (2006) but the only gripe I've got is I didn't buy the love story all the way. When Daniel Craig is lying on the beach saying he's going to quit and spend his life with Vesper it just doesn't have weight that OHMSS has. With Lazenby, in the scene above, you FEEL it. He REALLY means it. It's also unique in that the director, Hunt, put so much quiet time between some of the words. It's not rushed. The extra silence/contemplation only adds to the emotional impact that separates this film from all of the others by leagues.

And then there's the end. FROM SPOILERS WITH LOVE...The death of Tracy with Bond holding her in is arms is devastating. END OF SPOILERS...YARRRR... I'm an emotional mess at this point. It was the same when I first read the book. I wept and hard. The novel and the film strike an emotional chord that catches me off guard. I mean, shit, people. This is a BOND film. I've read the book a couple of times and I've seen the movie at least a dozen. It's always the same. I'm with these characters every step of the way and I care deeply for what happens to them. The film makers have succeeded in spades. That just makes everything else in the movie work even more.

While I may have more fun watching GOLDFINGER more than the rest, it's OHMSS that takes the prize for being the best. I'm kind of cheating by saying it's a tie but with each beating out the other in different areas. It's too bad that Lazenby didn't continue with the role. Everyone involved in this production nailed it and nailed it hard. With DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER the franchise took a giant leap in the wrong direction becoming it's own Bond spoof. They held solid gold in their hands and willfully let it slip through their fingers. There's no joke there, just reality.

Scorethefilm will return with his thoughts to...


Karate Warriors (1976)

Director: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi

Starring: Sonny Chiba

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: The Deadliest Dragon That Ever Smashed the Street Gangs!

Plot: Chico (Chiba) arrives in a city where there are two waring gangs. Chico gets wind of a large hidden stash of heroin owned by the, now dead, former leader (Rico) over all of the gangs and sets off to find it and keep the two gangs at war. Meanwhile, he as befriended a small boy whose father is a samurai assassin working for the rival gang.

My Rating: 8/10

Would I watch it again? Oh, yeah

Viva Chiba! Everybody knows what a badass Bruce Lee was, right? Well, everybody should know that Sonny Chiba is the closest thing to the badassicity of Lee after Lee's death. He became an international star with THE STREET FIGHTER (1974) and its sequels, as well as the spin-off SISTER STREET FIGHTER (1974). So if you're not familiar with this guy then that's a great place to start.

Here's a pic from THE STREET FIGHTER...

The film starts with a newscaster voice-over scenes of gang violence. Here we learn that the former boss, Rico, is dead and there are two brothers who each leads half of the former gang. They are at war with another to gain control of the city for themselves. There's also a large stash of heroin worth 1 billion yen hidden by Ricco before his death. Chico rolls into town and wants a piece of it. He meets a little boy who claims his father is a samurai. He follows the boy to his makeshift home near the wharf. There he meets the boy's father and within minutes is fighting along side him kicking the asses of one of the gangs.

"Everyone in this room will die by the hands of Chiba (seated left)"

There's more ass-kickery on top of that and it's beautiful. You know that technique of using slow motion, speeding up for the impact and then back to slow motion used in movies like THE MATRIX and 300? They use it here and it's done better than those two films!!! And this is 19-freakin'-76 we're talkin'!!! It's fucking awesome. The clip above includes that scene.

"Everyone in this room will die by the hands of Chiba!"

It's kind of cool how this feels like a western at times. The story is not unlike that of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS which was taken from YOJIMBO. The action scenes are badass. Lots of people die and die beautifully. When a truce is called between the two gangs, Chico doesn't like it. He needs them fighting so he can continue earning large dollars while looking for the heroin so he uses a samurai sword to cut off an arm belonging to a member of his own gang to make it look like the other gang's samurai warrior did it. They're at war again. Hooray for us 'cause that means more ass-kickery.

"Everyone on this beach will die by the hands of Chiba!"

There's blood sprays, body parts getting whacked off, women being brutalized (not a good thing, of course, but these people are brutal). One of the gang leaders beats his girlfriend with a belt and leaves her bloody only to have Chico drop in later, treat her right and bangs her. Later on he rubs it in the guys face telling him how to get what he wants. Nice.

The voice work is really good, surprisingly. The only gripe I'd have about it is the kid sounds like Bart Simpson but as a grown-up smoker. Other than that this movie is tons of fun. The anamorphic widescreen print is far from perfect but considering it's thirty years old it's pretty damn good. It's part of a 6-film, 5-disc set (called THE SONNY CHIBA COLLECTION) I picked up for just over ten bucks at The sale's over but you can still get it for less than 14 clams which is still a fantastic deal for 6 mid-70s Sonny Chiba action films AND they're all anamorphic widescreen prints! VIVA CHIBA!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

You Only Live Twice (1967)

Director: Lewis Gilbert

Starring: Sean Connery, Donald Pleasence

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: You Only Live Twice...and "TWICE" is the only way to live!

Plot: Agent 007 and the Japanese secret service ninja force must find and stop the true culprit of a series of space highjackings before nuclear war is provoked.

My Rating: 7/10

Would I watch it again? Sure

After the near snoozefest that was THUNDERBALL (1965), Bond is back and it's a lot more fun. He's been all over the world and now it's time for a nice little detour to Japan.

I suppose for a lot of film goers in 1967 this was their first, or most extensive, film visit to Japan. That would make the following exchange in the film legitimate for some people. I'm sure they were asking themselves the same thing...

Bond: Why do Japanese girls taste different from all other girls?
Ling: You think we better?
Bond: No. Just different.

Well, there you go. But we're still no closer to the truth. Yarrrrr.

"Look familiar?"

There's a lot more action this time out and the beautiful Japanese locations are stunning and a welcome change. THUNDERBALL suffered in part by giving us a tropical location (albeit a different one) much like DOCTOR NO (1962).

The whole James Bond marriage thing is pretty lame and adds little to the film. The big star is Ken Adam's immense set for Blofeld's volcano base. WOW! Most impressive. The big battle at the end is more in line with how the franchise would follow and it's a lot of fun. It's nice to have Pleasence in the role of Blofeld but he's not really given much to do. Blofeld, so far, hasn't really presented himself as much of a threat. He's the man that pulls the strings. Not with the next film, though. It's Bond vs. Blofeld and it's one of the best.

Scorethefilm will return with his thoughts on...


Black Hawk Down (2001)

Director: Ridley Scott

Starring: Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Leave No Man Behind

Plot: 123 elite U.S. soldiers drop into Somalia to capture two top lieutenants of a renegade warlord and find themselves in a desperate battle with a large force of heavily-armed Somalis.

My Rating: 7/10

Would I watch it again? I suppose, under the right circumstances

Ridley Scott apparently knows how to make a war movie. He's certainly no slouch on action (GLADIATOR (2000)). I don't know...I've been wanting to see this one since it came out and I've heard nothing but stellar things about it. I liked it quite a bit. Once the fighting begins it's a slamfest of fighting that just doesn't let up. It's intense. This is one great looking and executed picture. I'm just not sure why I wasn't drawn into it like I felt like I needed to be.

Simply put, I left the film feeling underwhelmed. It's a marvelous achievement to have pulled off something as intensely complex as this. Few film makers could have pulled it off. I admire the film on that level. I'm sure that maybe twenty years down the line I'll check it out again. I'd like to think that it'll click. I really like well-done war films. It just didn't engage me. Not unlike what RESCUE DAWN (2006) did for me.

Thunderball (1965)

Director: Terence Young

Starring: Sean Connery, Adolfo Celi, Claudine Auger

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Look Up! Look Down! Look Out! Here Comes The Biggest Bond Of All!

Plot: James Bond heads to The Bahamas to recover two nuclear warheads stolen by SPECTRE agent Emilio Largo in an international extortion scheme.

My Rating: 6/10

Would I watch it again? Not alone

I've always had a difficult time with this one. For starters, it comes right after GOLDFINGER and that's just a bad place to be. The pre-credit sequence is decent for a Bond knockoff but not for Bond. It's just...underwhelming. I'm guessing that the rocket pack was a kid's dream forty years ago and it probably had everyone salivating for the rest of the film. The credit sequence is great. It's the first one (of many) that uses silhouetted nude women. THAT says Bond. Again, I'm sure kids were going apeshit. Between the rocket pack and the "I think I saw a nipple" credit sequence probably had them running for the bathrooms.

"Don't let this pink shirt fool you..."

Tom Jones singing the title tune? OH FUCK YEAH! Testosterone, I'd like you to meet Testosterone. Perfect match. The rest of the film has some nice moments with Bond being Bond but at 130 minutes it drags in more than a few places. I've seen this a few times and I always feel that I've over-stayed my welcome with some of the locations. There's simply a bit too much time spent over here, and there, and underwater, and so on.

One major annoyance is found in Felix Leiter, played by Rik Van Nutter. 13 credits to his name and only four more after THUNDERBALL. When you see him you'll understand why. He's terrible. Not only is his acting stiff, the character was written poorly. Here he's just Bond's chauffer taking him wherever he wants to go. There's even a scene where Leiter is standing below the outside balcony (on a busy street, mind you) waving his arms all over the place and yelling up to Bond to get his attention. HELLO! He's a fucking CIA agent!!! He's about to be Plume'd. What I want to know is how he got the gig to begin with. Turns out he was just two years into his marriage to Swedish hottie, Anita Ekberg. She hit international fame with La Dolce Vita (1960). It's not too much of a stretch to see that maybe that had something to do with his casting.

Celi does a good job as the main baddie, Emilio Largo, but he's nothing compared to Gert Frobe's Goldfinger. It's just disappointing that they finally hit upon the magic formula and blow it with this one. Here's an interesting bit of trivia...I'm a huge fan of the novels and in the novel, THUDNERBALL, Fleming lists my town, Pensacola, Florida, as one of the locations targeted by Largo's nuclear weapons. Cool.

"Remember this scene. There's an identical one coming up in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971)"

The film certainly doesn't live up to the tagline unless they're referring to the running time. THUNDERBALL is OK but it's as if GOLDFINGER was the desert and then the waiter brings the appetizer with THUNDERBALL. And with the next one, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967) we get the soup and THEN we get the main course with ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE (1968). Soup's on, I guess.

Scorethefilm will return with his thoughts on...


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ricco the Mean Machine (1973)

Director: Tulio Demicheli

Starring: Christopher Mitchum, Barbara Bouchet

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: No swords, no guns, no knives, no weapons. Just a burning pool of acid!

Plot: Ricco's father is murdered. Upon his release from prison, Ricco seeks revenge. People die.

My Rating: 7/10

Would I watch it again? Yes. Did my waitress last night actually say, "nuculer" when refering to one of the flavors of their hot wings? Yes. Did I ask her when she came back what flavor these wings were just so I could hear her say, "nuculer" in front of my friends...AGAIN? Yes. Did she fulfill my wishes and say, "nuculer" once more? Yes. Life is soooo beautiful whenever I leave the house.


Robert Mitchum was a hell of a tough guy actor. RM is a badass. His son, Christopher, however, is not. He is a pussy. A wooden pussy. A wooden pussy that cannot act. Shit. I'm too harsh. I'm sure Chris is a fun guy to be around it's just that he's not a good actor. It's not entirely his fault. In a recent interview included in the extras on this fine DVD he tells of how he got started, reluctantly, as an actor. He was told he was good. He believed it. People essentially cashed in on his surname. His father was such a solid tough guy movie star that it would be a truly amazing feat for Chris to gain respect as an actor.

But here he is truly awful and I'm so grateful for it. He's terrible. He barely moves. Take, for example, the following video clip that lasts a whopping 1 minute and 22 seconds...(you don't need to press the play button. I've got it on a continuous loop.)...

"Ssshhhhhh. I'm acting."

See? He doesn't even blink. Did you see him blink? I didn't. How does he do it? Amazing. His father would've batted just one eyelash which would have put one of the film crew in the hospital. This is how stiff he is throughout the entire picture. I haven't seen anything that stiff since Saturday night. Giggidy.

"Ladies and, ahem, Gentlemen...the lovely, the talented, Miss Barbara Bouchet."

THAT'S our introduction to Scilla, played most convincingly by Barbara "HUBBA HUBBA" Bouchet. We get lots of shots like that one of Scilla before we actually see her face! You'd think it was shot by a frat boy trying to prove to his film making buddies that he's not gay. I'm cool with it. It got a lot of laughs.

And then there's Rosa, played by Malisa Longo.

All I gots'ta say is Italian (and French) broads in 1973 movies ARE FUCKING HOT!!!

Would you believe there's plenty of action?

Would you believe there is a reason Ricco is called The Mean Machine? There is. It sounds more macho than Ricco The Wooden Pussy. This guy is about as mean as Bouchet's cleavage. Go ahead. Scroll back up and check it out for yourself. I'll wait...

Mitchum couldn't be slower in the fight scenes. They're all so poorly executed with the actors/stuntmen WAITING to hit or be hit. Ricco's first fight (below) looks like something out of the 60s BATMAN TV show outtakes.

You've got to see it to really appreciate the unintentional comic genius of it all. He claims in the DVD interview that he was a black belt back then. You'd never know it from this movie. Gumby's got better moves than this guy.

You have GOT to see this movie.

Ricco busts into the bad guy's house to find his pre-prison girlfriend now shacked-up with his father's killer. Ricco, taking the longest fucking warm-up to a slap in screen history, introduces her to his backhand. Then she gets naked and wants to bang him.

Some other highlights...

Bouchet does an extended striptease on a foggy dark street to distract a couple of thugs. She exposes her breasts...ALL of them.

As we get close to wrapping up the picture one of thugs gets caught nailing the Boss's girl, Rosa, and gets fucked with.

Then they do the sensible thing and cut the guy's dick and balls off. So what's a pissed off lover to do next? You guessed it. Stuff his recently separated junk into his mouth...

and then throw his dickless self into a vat of acid. That's what.

"And here's a little something for the ladies."

That whole scene came out of fucking left field. So what happens to Rosa? After they force her to witness this priceless scene they take her into the hallway and shot her (off camera). NICE! I'm guessing the Boss was feeling confident that he'd find another girlfriend soon enough.

This movie is fucking awesome. Dark Sky released this not too long ago. The only extras are a trailer and an 18 minute featurette with interviews mostly with Mitchum. That's a welcome addition and kudos to Dark Sky for making it for this release. It's not as much as I would like but then it's more that what most companies would do. It's not a particularly great film but damn if I didn't enjoy the hell out of it. Don't watch it by yourself, though. It's better with a crowd to help you get through the slow spots. Thank you Dark Sky and thank you Christopher Mitchum for bringing so much joy into my home.

Here's a great RICO drinking game. Take a drink every time Chris Mitchum:

- waits a full second or two BEFORE he takes/throws a punch or a kick
- speaks a complete sentence in a monotoned voice
- stands completely still for more than two seconds
- or shows his full range of emotion by looking like this...

You'll all be plastered in 15 minutes tops!

Goldfinger (1964)

Director: Guy Hamilton

Starring: Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, Gert Frobe

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: James Bond is back in action! Everything he touches turns to excitement!

Plot: Investigating a gold magnate's gold smuggling, James Bond uncovers a plot to contaminate the Fort Knox gold reserve.

My Rating: 10/10

Would I watch it again? Hell, yeah, Buddy Roe!

My absolute favorite Bond picture of the all. ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE (1968) is nipping at GOLDFINGER's heals though but this one takes the cake. They finally found the Bond formula. Great action, great humor, great characters, the best villain of all, the best lesbo henchman (or is it henchperson?) of...all...time, and more utterances of the word, "pussy" than the X-rated, plain paper wrapped issue of Cat Fancy that mysteriously finds its way to my doorstep at the beginning of every month. Mmmmmmmm...Pooooosssssyyyyy.


OK, I'm back. This is the quintessential Connery Bond picture. DR. NO was great. FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE is even better and GOLDFINGER hits all the right notes. It's all downhill for the Connery Bond films from here, none of which come close to the first three. Goldfinger, as a villain, is a badass. He delivers the singe best villain line in all of the Bond pictures.

Bond: (strapped to a table about to have his "boys" separated) Do you expect me to talk, Goldfinger?

Goldfinger: No, Mister Bond. I expect you to die!

FUCKING BADASS!!! The rest of the scene is played out nicely, too.

"Do you think that outfit will make me sexy, too?"

John Barry's score is the best yet. The climax (giggidy) of the film has a great musical buildup on the raid of Fort Knox. The fight between Bond and Oddjobb is a classic. Goldfinger's "surprise" in the plane is cool and unexpected. And don't forget about Bond's ability to turn the lesbian pilot, Pussy Galore (THE best name in all Bond-dom), over to our side. Hey, if anyone can do it it's Connery circa 1964. I've tried but failed miserably. Maybe it was the aftershave I was wearing...Rosie O'.

Scorethefilm will return with his thoughts on...


Running Scared (1986)

Director: Peter Hyams

Starring: Billy Crystal, Gregory Hines, Dan Hedaya, Jimmy Smits, Joe Pantoliano

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: They've got 30 days to clean up Chicago before they retire to paradise... Losing their police car, their suspect, and their pants is a real bad start!

Plot: Danny (Crystal) and Ray (Hines) are a couple of street-wise cops in Chicago. They're methods are questionable but effective. Captain Logan (Hedaya) orders them to take a vacation. While in Key West, Danny and Ray buy a bar and decide to retire in style. Upon their return to Chicago to quit they discover that a small-time drug pusher they tried to put away has now become the city's newest drug lord causing them to re-think their retirement.

My Rating: 8/10

Would I watch it again? Yup.

I love this movie. It's one of those rare buddy cop films that has that right mixture of comedy and action. Crystal & Hines make a wonderful team. Too bad they never did anything else together. Great chemistry.

I've always enjoyed Hines' performances. He was one hell of a tap dancer. Crystal is great and surprising in the dramatic scenes. Joe "Joey Pants" Pantoliano is hysterical. My favorite scene starts off the above fan-made trailer. It cracks me up every time I see it. Dan Hedaya is great as always playing the frustrated Captain. Which reminds me. Are all police captains frustrated? 'Cause that's all they ever seem to be in the movies. It's funny to see Smits in the role of a bad guy.

"Not even close."

The film can seem slow at times but they really do a great job at keeping it moving like the welcome change of pace with the Key West bits. It works on a few levels but mostly to really get the feeling for how they feel. We spend a lot of time in the cold, wet, wintry Chicago then we're off to sunny Florida. It feels nice. Then once we get back to Chicago it's dreary again and you feel it just as the characters are feeling it. It's pretty effective.

"You are SO gay. No, you are. No, YOU are. OK then."

Like the typical 80s action films, particularly the abundance of buddy cop movies, there's a lot of action and an over-the-top finale. What's different is the great chemistry of the two leads and the well-balanced blend of action and comedy. It would have been nice to have a sequel but I think it might have turned out like the difference between CROCODILE DUNDEE and CROCODILE DUNDEE 2. We would have probably had our boys in Florida only to make their way back to Chicago or something. Maybe they could have ended up owning an alligator farm wrestling alligators for the tourists. I'd have paid to see that one.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dark of the Sun (1968)

Director: Jack Cardiff

Starring: Rod Taylor, Jim Brown, Yvette Mimieux

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Brutes! Savages! Heroes! ...Paid to fight in the fury of the Congo!

Plot: A band of mercenaries led by Captain Curry travel through the Congo across deadly terrain, battling rival armies, to rescue $25 million in uncut diamonds and possible dozens and dozens of innocent civilians.

My Rating: 8/10

Would I watch it again? And how.

Here's our introduction to Rod Taylor's character, Captain Curry:

Curry and Ruffo (Jim Brown) get off a plane and approach two UN guards.

UN Guard: Captain Hunsington, United Nations Peace Keeping Force. I'll take that gun of yours.

Curry: (very casually) Captain Curry, Congo Special Forces. No you won't.

BADASS! BADASS! BADASS! I instantly loved this guy and his character. I'm sold on the rest of this picture without seeing it yet. I've only seen Taylor in THE TIME MACHINE (1960) and THE BIRDS (1963) and I don't remember him much in either of them. But it has been probably twenty years since I've watched those films, too. I watched DARK OF THE SUN probably three months ago and since then I've been seeking out his films like the earlier reviewed THE DEADLY TRACKERS (1973).

This guy kicks ass. This movie kicks ass. With an intro like that to the main badass of the film you know you're in for something. Shortly after that Curry is in a bar when a reporter approaches him and starts asking pesky questions to which Curry replies, "Keep your mouth off me 'cause you're not in good enough shape." Sweetness.

There's a great scene between Curry and Doctor Wreid (who just LOVES the sauce) over a bottle of Scotch. The dialogue is priceless.

And it's incredibly violent for the era, too. Lots of people die - including women and children!!! Nice. I really recommend seeking this out and watching it but if you MUST know more then...

RAIDERS OF THE LOST SPOILERS...There's a remarkable scene where Curry's train has stopped for a breather. Henlein finds two small children nearby and brings them to the train to meet with Curry & Ruffo. The children explain they were just walking through the jungle and came upon them and thought they might have food. Curry tells Henlein to send them back into the jungle. Seconds later we hear the spray of a machine gun. The kids are dead!!! Henlein justifies his action by the fact that children are being used by the Simba and that they're mission may have been compromised. Curry's pissed. You know these two are going to come to blows at some point. TEMPORARY END OF SPOILERS...

Curry and Henlein get into one helluva fist fight later on and it feels real. Curry is a beast filled with rage and he means to kill Henlein by any means. You have GOT to see this movie.

INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF SPOILERS...Toward the end of the film our heroes flee from their civilian pickup point just in the nick of time. The Simba rebels are closing in on their location. Curry and pals make it out. The Simba are firing at them using everything they've got. Eventually an explosive of some kind hits the train in a spot that separates the last passenger car making it roll back towards them. There's a bridge first and several people, knowing what's in store for them, leap from the train off the bridge to their death. One passenger has a pistol to his wife's head and is ready to pull the trigger if they fall into the hands of the Simba. You know it's not going to be pretty. These people are going to be slaughtered. Later that night Curry and his men make it back to that town to save the passengers including some of his men. What they find are the charred, still smoking bodies of the passengers strewn about the area. The Simba rebels are looting the town and celebrating like crazy. Inside a large hotel one of the captured mercenaries is taunted and eventually bent forwards over a billiard table and dozens of Simba close in to rape him. This movie's fucking brutal. END OF SPOILERS...YARRRR

"It's fuckin' ON now!!!"

This film is loaded with very tense scenes, wonderful dialogue, great acting, taut direction, a brilliantly brutal score (by Jacques Loussier), a compelling yet simple story and an extremely violent and in-your-face kind of action movie. I'm STUNNED this isn't out on DVD. I have a widescreen copy I recorded from Turner Classic Movies a while back. After watching I did some reading up on the film and it seems that this cut, despite the violence in it, is an edited version. I would love to own a copy of the uncut widescreen print. This film deserves a proper DVD release. If anyone has an uncut version PLEASE let me know. I'll make it worth your while.

Here's a last bit of dialogue from the end of the picture...

Ruffo: This nation's important to ME.

Curry: Why don't you write a national anthem and I'll salute when they play it!

From Russia with Love (1963)

Director: Terrence Young

Starring: Sean Connery, Robert Shaw

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: The world's masters of murder pull out all the stops to destroy Agent 007!

Plot: James Bond willingly falls into an assassination ploy involving a naive Russian beauty in order to retrieve a Soviet encryption device that was stolen by SPECTRE.

My Rating: 9.5/10

Would I watch it again? Yep

FRWL is definitely an improvement over DOCTOR NO and is a very serious solid spy film. It also adheres to the novel very closely which is rare. ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE is the only other Bond film that comes closer to the novel. The rest are shadows at best of their literary counterparts.

Q shows up for the first time, wonderfully played by Desmond Llewelyn who would go on to play that character in 17 films - a cinema record. Here's a neat bit of trivia. His total screen time for those 17 films totals a little more than 30 minutes. Connery is even more comfortable with the Bond role here and turns out an outstanding performance. Once thing I like most about this one is how this one feels like it could really happen unlike so many of the later pictures with they over-the-top villains and their giant lairs and armies of thugs.

"REAL men have hair on their chests. Tom Cruise does not. Nuff said."

Robert Shaw make a great villain (though not the main one - here he's just used as a blunt instrument) and provides lots of fun. It's also cool that his boss, Rosa Kleb, is played by Lotte Lenya. If that name doesn't sound familiar then listen to the song Mack the Knife sometime. She was married to composer Kurt Weil. Neat. Seeing her in this movie, though, Weil probably met her a loooooong time ago. Ugh.

"There's so much testosterone in this rail cabin it will soon spontaneously combust."

John Barry is the Bond composer from now on. Yeaaaaaahhhhh. And he turns out a great score, too. Great song (though not heard over the opening credits but briefly on the radio after the credits and later as the final credits roll) sung by Matt Monro. We're getting closer to the Bond formula that would be used for so many pictures to come. That's not necessarily a good thing.

Scorethefilm will return with his thoughts on...


Mother's Day (1980)

Director: Charles Kaufman

Starring: losers

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: I'm so proud of my boys. They never forget their momma.

Plot: Three young ladies get together for their annual dose of female bonding. This time, they're going camping, but they get abducted and brutalized by two demented hillbilly sickies and their loving mama. But that sure ain't the end of the story. Two of the ladies decide they're not going to stand for this sort of treatment, and hit back hard.

My Rating: 2/10

Would I watch it again? Hell, NO!

I've been meaning to do this for the longest time but I always forget. So I FINALLY remember to watch a holiday-themed horror movie on that holiday. So my friends and I watched MOTHER'S DAY on that day. What a piece of shit. WHAT THE FUCK DOES THIS MOVIE HAVE TO DO WITH MOTHER'S DAY??? Nothing. I was pissed. Hell, I'm still pissed. I finally remember to show a holiday-themed horror movie and it turns out to have nothing to do with that holiday. Unfuckingbeliveable!!!

The first half hour introduces us to three women that had me struggling to give a rat's ass about. Seriously if you want to create tension, suspense, a great payoff then you have to invest in your characters to get the audience to care enough about them so that when they are in danger you actually, oh I don't know, CARE if they live or not! I didn't and I wanted them dead the moment they set foot in the woods. Now you'd THINK that I'd be a rootin' for the bad guys here. Well...

"Please die soon..."

They were as annoying if not worse the these women. The two stereotypically over-the-top hillbilly sons are vomit-inducing. I kept trying to put my fingers in my mouth only to have someone stop me in fear of retching all over them. These people are stupid as all get-out. I couldn't take it. Suddenly the movie shifts gears into a comedy. I have no problem with films doing that IF THEY'RE FUNNY. They torture the women but it's not even that cool because I didn't care about a single character AND it wasn't executed as well as it could have been.

When some of the girls finally escape I got a little excited for I knew this was the beginning of the end and then I could watch something else that, whatever it was, had infinitely better odds of being better than this fungus-covered turd. That was really the best part of the movie - knowing it was about to end.

"Durpty dooooooo"

In the final scene we do get a little surprise if you can call it that. It's like you ate a box of Cracker Jacks but they make you sick and as you're slouched over the toilet heaving your guts out you notice that, in your haste to eat, you must've eaten the prize because there it is in the middle of a toilet filled with your wretched diseased sick. Do you want it? Do you care? I don't think so.

Dr. No (1962)

Director: Terence Young

Starring: Sean Connery, Ursula Andress

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: 007 The double "O" means he has a license to kill when he chooses...where he chooses...whom he chooses!

Plot: James Bond's investigation of a missing colleague in Jamaica leads him to the island of the mysterious Dr. No and a scheme to end the US space program.

My Rating: 8/10

Would I watch it again? Yep

A buddy of mine confessed to me recently that he'd only seen a small handful of the Bond pictures and since he's been reading the novels (which kick ass, btw) he'd like to see them all. So we're watching them from the beginning in chronological order. About a year and a half ago or so I had watched them all (again) but I, for the most part, really dig the Bond pictures so I'm always up for it.

For anyone familiar with some of Connery's Bond pictures but not this one then you'll probably be disappointed. In a lot of ways it's different. It wasn't until two pictures later with GOLDFINGER (1964) did the film makers get the formula perfected so in DR. NO there are no gadgets, a minimal amount of one-liners (compared to the subsequent pictures), no opening credits with silhouetted naked broads, no vocal theme song, and Bond isn't bangin' broads left and right. That doesn't mean that it isn't a solid spy thriller, though. It's still a lot of fun.

It's a great introduction to Bond. I'm not going to get into much detail about all of these films because so much has been written and I just don't have the time when I've got a backlog of still over 40 films that I've seen this year and still haven't gotten to writing about. I'll just list my likes and dislikes and leave it at that.

One thing that's remained constant throughout the series is the character of M (played here by Bernard Lee and lasting to his death shortly after MOONRAKER (1979)). He's a badass and doesn't take shit or is fooled by anyone. There's a nice little scene in the beginning where M is telling Bond he's no longer allowed to carry a Walther PPK pistol. Bond places it on his desk while he's being outfitted with another pistol. After the exchange and Bond has been briefed on his next assignment Bond slyly palms the weapon while M is busy reading and, a couple of minutes later when you think it's been forgotten about and Bond is on the way out, M casually makes a comment to Bond to please return the weapon to his desk. It's a nice touch and handled with class and precision.

Another nice touch is when a local baddie, Strangways, is sent by Doctor No to kill bond with a large tarantula spider. As Bond sleeps the spider is released in his hotel room and eventually finds its way to Bond's exposed body. He awakens as he feels the spider crawling up his body. He show a little fear but it's mostly caution with lots of calm as to not endanger himself more. Once the spider has crawled off him and onto the pillow Bond leaps out of bed picking up his shoe and BEATS THE LIVING SHIT OUT IT. And even though the first blow was enough to kill it he continues for FOUR more showing us that he was genuinely afraid. NICE!!! It's a rare moment to see Bond, in any film, afraid of anything much less a tarantula. So when you see something like this you tend to savor it a bit more.

Connery make for a great Bond actor. He's brute-ish, suave and sohpisticated. All women want him and all men want to be him. He's got a raw sexual quality that you just don't see much in Hollywood. He's the man. Ursula Andress is a knockout. She's very easy on the eyes and was an ideal choice as the first Bond girl. Tangent...I get sick and tired of seeing stories about some chick who's in a James Bond movie playing a very small role and being considered a "Bond Girl". I'm sorry but unless you are a main character OR you're one of Bond's conquests you can't be a "Bond Girl" so get over it. Just appearing in a Bond film doesn't make you that automatically. But Ursula Andress...HUBBA HUBBA!

Then there's the music. Monty Norman wrote a theme that just wasn't cutting it so they brought in John Barry to spice it up a bit. It's Barry that made that theme one of the most recognizable movie themes in history and it will always be so. Norman's score is adequate but it's in no way as good as Barry's in the subsequent pictures. The James Bond theme we all know and love was so good the film makers decided to use it as much as possible - even if it doesn't work which is sometimes the case. Listen to it the next time you watch it and you'll see how genuinely poorly it's placed. It's even edited in some spots to lengthen it to fit the scene. Not written out in longer form and performed that way but actually editing the tape it was recorded on. It's abrupt and detracts from the power of the music as well as the scene. It might not be as noticeable to someone who isn't into film music like I am (as well as a musician) but it kills me nonetheless every time I see it.

It's a minor complaint, I know, but the movie still kicks ass. I have the Ultimate Editions of the entire series and the picture quality is stunning. The restoration work done to each of these is outstanding. I've had Blu-ray for six months now and even though it's spoiled me I am still in awe as to how good these early Bonds look. DR. NO is spectacular. It's just been announced that this fall they're releasing six Bond pictuures on Blu-ray. It'll be interesting to see how good those look. I'm sure they'll have a hefty price tag. Now that I'm watching the entire series again I may just wait until I'm ready to give them another go. The price will surely have dropped by then.

Scorethefilm will return with his thoughts on...


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Have the adventure of your life keeping up with the Joneses

Plot: When Dr. Henry Jones Sr. suddenly goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, eminent archaeologist Indiana Jones must follow in his father's footsteps and stop the Nazis.

My Rating: 8/10

Would I watch it again? Duh

Until recently I had kind of hated much of this one. It was my least favorite Indy movie (until CRYSTAL SKULL came out). But now that I've watched it after TEMPLE OF DOOM I like this one better than DOOM. The opening is outstanding. The whole young Indy bit was great. Lots of fun. I LOVE the relationship between Indy and his father. Connery's great. I'm even sort of OK with the similarities it has with RAIDERS. What I'm not OK with is how they turned Sallah and especially Marcus into childish buffoons. WTF? Inexcusable in my book. That facet alone has clouded my enjoyment of it. As I was watching it this time I was thinking of edits that could be made that would make it easier to watch. I've got better things to do and none of them will EVER include IJATKSkull.