Sunday, June 25, 2017

Death Watch (1980)

Original Title: La Mort en Direct

Director: Bertand Tavernier

Writers: David Compton, David Rayfiel, Bertrand Tavernier

Composer: Antoine Duhamel

Starring: Romy Schneider, Harvey Keitel, Harry Dean Stanton, Therese Liotard, Max von Sydow, Caroline Langrishe, William Russell, Vadim Glowna, Eva Maria Meineke, Bernhard Wicki, Freddie Boardley, Robbie Coltrane

More info: IMDb

Tagline: She's the target of every eye...including eyes only science could create.

Plot: Roddy has a camera implanted in his brain. He is then hired by a television producer to film a documentary of terminally ill Katherine, without her knowledge. His footage will then be run on the popular TV series, "Death Watch".

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I didn't know a single thing about this going in.  If you seek it out, think of it as an art house drama with a science fiction idea.  It's got the makings of a sci-fi thriller but director Bertrand took it somewhere else.  He explores the realistic feelings the characters would have in a situation like this and he treats it with kid gloves so it's only natural that this is leisurely paced.  For some that might mean a one way ticket to snoozeville but you should give it a chance.  Bertrand plays this slow and tragic all the way to the end, without letting go of emotions.  The performances are good, specifically Keitel.  Stanton is fine, too, and it's nice to see him portraying someone more normal and laid back than his usual fare (but I really dig that stuff, too).  While it doesn't have the emotional punch everyone making this was probably going for, it's still an interesting film nonetheless.  Just don't expect as much as the premise and the opening act let on.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Tight Spot (1955)

Director: Phil Karlson

Writers: William Bowers, Leonard Kantor

Composer: George Duning

Starring: Ginger Rogers, Edward G. Robinson, Brian Keith, Lucy Marlow, Lorne Greene, Katherine Anderson, Allen Nourse, Peter Leeds, Doye O'Dell, Eve McVeagh

More info: IMDb

Tagline: SHE: "Is that blood?" HE: "I took two bullets through the chest, ma'am. Just routine."

Plot: A female inmate is whisked out of prison and into a police guarded hotel until the D.A. can convince her to testify against the mob in the upcoming trial.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

Holy shit, what a movie!  I'm very impressed with Ginger Rogers.  It's a role I've never seen her come close to.  She's dynamite!  Brien Keith is fantastic and so is one of my top favorites, Edward G. Robinson.  There's a scene early on where he confronts the bad guy's lawyer and he lets him have it and good.  I've never seen Robinson with so much fire in his belly.  He's ferocious and it's marvelous.  This has got some outstanding dialogue.  It's more than just a few words here and there, it often runs from scene to scene.  The story takes us on a few turns, too.  I very much liked the surprises.  And how about that young Lorne Greene, Admiral Adama himself?  He's barely in it but he makes the most of what he has as the mobster that's in Robinson's crosshairs.  The music's great, too.  I'm really impressed as if that weren't obvious.  Man, just check out these lines...

...and any movie with Mississippi Mac is A-OK with me!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Casbah (1948)

Director: John Berry

Writers: Leslie Bush-Fekete, Arnold Manoff, Erik Charell, Henri La Barthe

Composers: Harlod Arlen, Walter Scharf

Starring: Yvonne De Carlo, Tony Martin, Peter Lorre, Marta Toren, Hugo Haas, Thomas Gomez, Douglas Dick, Katherine Dunham, Herbert Rudley, Gene Walker, Curt Conway, Hans Schumm, Eartha Kitt

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Den of a thousand thieves!  Rendezvous for romance!

Plot: Pepe Le Moko is a master thief who lives in the Casbah section of Algiers. A French police inspector would love to capture Pepe, but realizes that as long as the thief remains in the Casbah he is protected by his vast network of criminals. When Pepe falls in love with a beautiful tourist, he schemes for the first time to leave his little "empire".

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Why was this a musical?  Who did Tony Martin sleep with?  I joke but he's miscast until the end.  It's the lighter stuff that doesn't work for me and that's nearly all the movie.  That last 15 minutes are outstanding and very dramatic which contrasts the rest of the picture.  Until then it's kind of like a light romantic crime drama that has some odd moments like when Pepe (Martin) just randomly bursts into song and it's often the same song (For Every Man There's a Woman), which was nominated for an Oscar.  It's a catchy tune and you might find yourself humming it after the movie's over.  Even though it happened a few times, I never got used to him busting it out in weird moments.  Yvonne De Carlo is smoking hot.  Hubba hubba.  The lighthearted tone of the film doesn't quite work for me.  Except for Tony Martin, everyone does a fine job.  I single Martin out because he's got moments where he seems out of place.  But he does an excellent job in the final moments when everything gets deathly serious.  What brought me to watching it in the first place was Peter Lorre and he's fantastic.  I like his character and Lorre brings layers to him that were welcome.  He could've just phoned it in and it wouldn't have mattered in the big picture of it all but he adds that little something extra that makes him so interesting to watch. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Men of Sherwood Forest (1954)

Director: Val Guest

Writer: Allan MacKinnon

Composer: Doreen Carwithen

Starring: Don Taylor, Reginald Beckwith, Eileen Moore, David King-Wood, Douglas Wilmer, Harold Lang, Ballard Berkeley, Patrick Holt, Wnsley Pithey, Leslie Linder, John Van Eyssen

More info: IMDb

Tagline: All the glory and splendour of stirring adventure!

Plot: In 1194, on his return from the Third Crusade, Richard the Lionheart is taken prisoner in Germany. Disguised as a troubadour, Robin Hood formulates a plan to rescue Richard but he is captured himself.

My rating:  6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nah.

I recognized a few names in the opening credits that would later be associated with Hammer's horror pictures and then at the end I see that it was a Hammer production, their first in color it turns out.  That would explain the overall quality of the picture.  Since THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) there have been several Robin Hood pictures in color.  No one can top Errol Flynn's turn on Robin but Don Taylor does an excellent job and takes second.  The music here is rousing and robust, there's plenty of action sprinkled throughout this 74 minute adventure flick and there's a general sense of fun.  Thankfully this isn't a retelling of the 1938 movie but there are some elements of it to be found.  A lot of time is spent inside the castle and the 8 year old adventurous boy in me would've preferred more outdoor scenes.  Hell, it's an English production filmed in Robin Hood's backyard so why not take advantage of the beautiful English forests and countryside?  I'm almost inclined to give this a solid 7 but it's missing a little something that pushes it over the edge.  It's a fine film but it's also not as fun as it should be.  That might sound silly but when you see I hope you see what I'm trying to get at. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

All in a Night's Work (1961)

Director: Joseph Anthony

Writers: Edmund Beloin, Maurice Richlin, Sidney Sheldon, Margit Veszi, Owen Elford

Composer: Andre Previn

Starring: Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine, Cliff Robertson, Charles Ruggles, Norma Crane, Jack Weston, John Hudson, Jerome Cowan, Gale Gordon

More info: IMDb

Tagline: It's nice work - and you can get it!

Plot: Colonel Ryder, the publisher of a magazine, dies while on vacation. Tony, his swinging nephew, inherits the magazine and takes over. Presently, the magazine is planning to expand and to do so they need some capital. Tony's trying to arrange a loan through his friend. He is then informed by the hotel detective of the hotel that his uncle died in, that on the night of his death, a woman, wearing only a towel, came out of his room, and ran away before the detective could catch up with her. They suspect that the Colonel was "with" her on the night he died, cause he was smiling when he died. Tony and two of his uncle's confidants are worried that not only if the bank hears of this they will not get the loan but the magazine wholesome image could be tarnished. So they ask the detective to stay around so he could identify her. What they don't know is that the woman is Katie Robbins, one of the magazine's researchers and that she entered the room by "accident". When the detective identifies her and after having a few misconceived conversations with her, they suspect that she is trying to extort them, and she thinks that Tony's a nut.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

This is what happens when talented people in the movie business get together to make a mediocre movie.  It's all in the story, too, I think.  The actors do well enough, Andre Previn's John Williams-esque score is delightfully fun but Shirley MacLaine goes overboard with the hyperactivity and Dean Martin isn't the relaxed, smooth mofo we're used to (I guess that's where acting comes into play).  It is wild seeing Cliff Robertson so young.  What you end up with is a typical, run of the mill Hollywood romantic comedy that isn't adding anything new or interesting to the genre.  It shouldn't have to but then if you're not doing anything special then you should at least make it entertaining and this didn't do anything for me in that way, either.  There are lots of familiar faces on display and there Martin is still fun to watch but this is by no means a forgotten classic.  It's close to being 'cute' and that's it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Robbery (1967)

Director: Peter Yates

Writers: Edward Boyd, George Markstein, Gerald Wilson, Peter Yates

Composer: Johnny Keating

Starring: Stanley Baker, Joanna Pettet, James Booth, Frank Finlay, Barry Foster, William Marlowe, Clinton Greyn, George Sewell, Glynn Edwards, Michael McStay, Martin Wyldeck

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Who says crime doesn't pay? 3 Million pounds says it does!

Plot: A group of British criminals plans the robbery of the Royal Mail train on the Glasgow-London route.

My rating:  6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Crime capers are tricky.  This picture's got a good cast doing a fine job, an interesting heist that's also a real one at that, a great opening car chase and lots of cops and robbers doing their thing and doing it well.  What's missing is tension or even strong drama.  It's well put together except for the lack of suspense.  I'd only heard about the heist years ago but I knew nothing about it except that some blokes robbed a train in 60s England.  I didn't even know how it turned out.  Without tension, what's left is an overlong film that spends enough time setting the heist up, too much time in executing the heist and too much time after the gig without any suspense.  The film told me the coppers were on the way but it didn't matter.  The last hour and something was pretty ho hum.  I enjoyed it to a point but the lack of suspense hurt it overall.  I'm not suggesting it needed to grab me by the short and curlies and not let go but gee whiz, the movie starts with a bang and never achieves that level of excitement for the rest of the picture. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

It Happened Here (1965)

Directors: Kevin Brownlow, Andrew Mollo

Writers: Kevin Brownlow, Andrew Mollo

Starring: Pauline Murray, Sebastian Shaw, Bart Allison, Reginald Marsh, Frank Bennett, Derek Milburn, Nicolette Bernard, Nicholas Moore

More info: IMDb

Tagline: What would have happened if the German army had crossed the English channel

Plot: In 1940, the Nazis invade Britain and transform it into a fascist state where some Britons collaborate and others resist.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

I've seen this twice now and the second time is just as good.  The black and white photography really brings out the harshness of the story.  It doesn't feel like there are many trained actors involved but the all do a very fine job.  The two writer/directors began making this film when they were teenagers and it took them eight years to complete.  It's got that documentary/newsreel vibe which helps sell the realism.  With this and their other storytelling techniques, I was struck by how easily someone could get wrapped up in all of this.  These events forced people to accept their new way of life or live hard fighting for their old way.  Everything builds to the bleak final half hour.  It's a good picture and one most people will live their entire lives having never heard of it.  Don't make that mistake.  Of special note to STAR WARS fans, actor Sebastian Shaw played Anakin Skywalker in RETURN OF THE JEDI and cinmeatographer Peter Suschitzky was the DP on THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Twisted Nerve (1968)

Director: Roy Boulting

Writers: Leo Marks, Roy Boulting, Roger Marshall, Jeremy Scott

Composer: Bernard Herrmann

Starring: Hayley Mills, Hywel Bennett, Billie Whitelaw, Phyllis Calvert, Barry Foster, Frank Finlay, Salmaan Peerzada, Christian Robers

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Cleaver. Cleaver. Chop. Chop. First the mom and then the pop. Then we'll get the pretty girl. We'll get her right between the curl.

Plot: Martin is a troubled young man. With a mother who insists on treating him like a child, a stepfather who can't wait to see the back of him, and a brother with Down's Syndrome shut away in an institution, is it any wonder he retreats into an alternate personality - that of six-year-old Georgie? It is Georgie who befriends Susan Harper, but friendship soon turns into obsession. When Susan begins to distance herself, something inside Georgie snaps and he embarks on a killing spree, with Susan as the next target.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

This is one of those pictures I watched strictly because of the composer.  This time it's Bernard Herrmann, one of my favorites.  His music was a contrast to others.  His music was not only unique but it had a mysterious quality that often perfectly matched the visuals.  As soon as you hear the whistling theme you'll mostly likely recognized Tarantino's use of it in KILL BILL (2003).  I've been a fan of Herrmann's for more than thirty years and this theme has been bouncing in my head ever since.  I FINALLY got around to watching the movie.  It's a British thriller so it's practically already got good written all over it.  It looks good, the acting is very good and it plays well.  It takes a while before the body count rises but it's not dull for a moment as long as you give yourself into it.  Martin/Georgie (Bennett) has issues and someone's got to pay.  The leisurely pace will likely turn some folks off but it is a pretty good psychological thriller if you stick with it until the end.  Herrmann's music brings that TWILIGHT ZONE quality to it which isn't surprising since he wrote a good deal of music for that classic Rod Serling series. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Terminal Man (1974)

Director: Mike Hodges

Writers: Michael Crichton, Mike Hodges

Starring: George Segal, Joan Hackett, Richard Dysart, Donald Moffat, Michael C. Gwynne, William Hansen, Jill Clayburgh, Norman Burton, James Sikking

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Harry Benson is a brilliant computer scientist. For three minutes a day, he is violently homicidal.

Plot: Hoping to cure his violent seizures, a man agrees to a series of experimental microcomputers inserted into his brain but inadvertently discovers that violence now triggers a pleasurable response his brain.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

This one was a real letdown considering the director, writer, cast, premise and being 70s sci-fi.  The film's biggest crime is that it's very slow and unnecessarily so.  Like how long it took to get through the surgery Harry (Segal) undergoes.  It felt like it lasted forever.  The build up was very well handled and it was done in such a way that really had my curiosity piqued.  After Harry escapes (which was neat) the pacing picks up a little and the thrill ride begins when he start killing folks.  The movie has a nice, subtle not-so-futuristic look that works very nicely.  The ending was neat and felt like a natural progression and conclusion.  What left me wanting was needing more.  It seemed like the story was much too simple in parts.  It's an interesting premise but it's one that felt like it gave up in favor of becoming a more traditional thriller/sci-fi/horror movie.  It's ambitious but only to a point.  The acting is just fine.  It was neat seeing Segal play a villain.  He played it calm and collected.  It's a disappointing picture but it does have enough going for it to warrant a look.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Killer Force (1976)

AKA:  The Diamond Mercenaries

Director: Val Guest

Writers: Michael Winder, Val Guest, Gerald Sanford

Composer: Georges Garvarentz

Starring: Telly Savalas, Peter Fonda, Hugh O'Brian, Christopher Lee, O.J. Simpson, Maud Adams, Ian Yule, Michael Mayer, Victor Melleney, Richard Loring

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They were professionals who killed for hire. But the man who hunted them killed for pleasure!

Plot: A five-man team of professionals undertake a daring robbery at a diamond mine.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

Director Val Guest directed some good non-horror movies for Hammer.  He's good with action and that's on display in this picture.  The last half is all heist, stealing diamonds in the African desert.  It looks great, the actions is great, people die in a way that feels natural.  Hell, I even like Peter Fonda.  He must've been clean when making it.  I didn't recognize him at first with that beard.  The dialogue is good as is the story.  There are a few twists and turns that turn up the interest and intrigue.  The music feels out of touch and twenty years too late.  What's left is a surprisingly good and tight action thriller that was fun from start to finish.  It's much better than I expected.  Nice job.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Carry on Abroad (1972)

Director: Gerald Thomas

Writer: Talbot Rothwell

Composer: Eric Rogers

Starring: Sidney James, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, Bernard Bresslaw, Barbara Windsor, Kenneth Connor, Peter Bullworth, Jimmy Logan, June Whitfield, Hattie Jacques, Derek Francis, Sally Geeson

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The holiday of a Laugh-time!

Plot: A group of holidaymakers head for the Spanish resort of Elsbels for a 4-day visit. When they get there, they find the Hotel still hasn't been finished being built, and the weather is awful. And there is something strange about the staff.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Most of these CARRY ON pictures seem to suffer from the same things - the pacing, lack of quality jokes and a lack of a quantity of jokes.  They made them so quickly that it's no wonder this happened.  All of them were directed by the same guy and the cat that wrote this one wrote most (if not all) of them.  Hell, they made at least one a year for over a decade.  That said, there are a couple of decent laughs in this one.  Sexual innuendo is all over the place but it's rarely funny enough to illicit an audible chuckle.  What makes these watchable for me is the absolutely wonderful cast.  If you've seen any of these then you'll recognize most of these folks.  There's not a dud in the bunch and they're all very adept at bringing the funny.  This one takes place at a European beach (possibly Spain) and if you don't like this one then you can spend time with the gang in the jungle, hospital, military, ancient Rome or one of the gazillions of other situations these funny actors find themselves in...unfortunately they don't find themselves in really funny pictures.  For any of you wondering, hottie Barbara Windsor gets naked.  There's your excuse to dial this one in.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

711 Ocean Drive (1950)

Director: Joseph M. Newman

Writers: Richard English, Francis Swann

Composer: Sol Kaplan

Starring: Edmond O'Brien, Joanne Dr, Otto Kruger, Barry Kelley, Dorothy Patrick, Don Porter, Howard St. John, Robert Osterloh, Sammy White

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Expose of the $8,000,000,000 gambling syndicate and its hoodlum empire!

Plot: An electronics expert creates a huge bookie broadcast system for his crime boss, and takes over operations when his boss is murdered. His greed leads him on a deadly destructive path.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

While Edmond O'Brien does a fine job, his transition from a regular phone company guy to running the numbers racket in L.A. is thin.  There's not even a transition in his performance.  He goes from regular guy to crime boss (acting-wise).  The story is pretty good, too.  It's a long film for what it is (an hour and forty minutes) but there's barely any wasted time.  Once Mal (O'Brien) is running the show, it's a matter of time before someone tries to knock him down.  That's the final act when all hell breaks loose for him.  It doesn't help that he gets the fuzz snooping around after he kills a guy.  The finale at the Hoover Dam makes for a great location and an interesting chase.  I've been there a couple of times since I was a kid and it's neat seeing it again and in this way.  There's enough action and crime stuff to keep fans of the genre entertained.  I'd be willing to see it again if there weren't hundreds of other crime pictures from this time that I haven't seen.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Hail (1972)

Director: Fred Levinson

Writers: Phil Dusenberry, Larry Spiegel

Composer: Trade Martin

Starring: Dan Resin, Richard B. Shull, Dick O'Neill, Joseph Sirola, Pat Ripley, Gary Sandy, Willard Waterman, K Callan, Constance Forslund, Phil Foster

More info: IMDb

Tagline: He was only President of the United States. But he planned to work his way up.

Plot: A presidential advisor discovers that the President has assembled a secret army of vigilantes to suppress dissent and is setting up concentration camps in which to imprison protesters, hippies and other "social undesirables."

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

Don't you hate it when you watch a comedy and you don't laugh?  This picture probably looked a lot better on paper.  I get the satire and the attempt at humor but the jokes either don't land because there were only funny ideas or they weren't executed well enough.  Hell, or maybe I'm just not digging it. I think there's some good social commentary going on here but it just didn't work as a comedy.  The selection of the cabinet posts by numbered gumballs in a gumball machine was mildly amusing.  And then there's this one sequence where the military/police kill a bunch of hippies camped out in the woods.  That was a horrific moment which felt like it was there to hammer in the harsh reality of what the President was trying to achieve.  I'll say this much, though, the ending was fantastic.  This was made before the events of Watergate so that gives the film even more weight for what they were aiming for.  The President in this film echoes Nixon.  For that it gets points.  I don't know at what point it was publicly known that Nixon had it in for the hippies and protesters like the President in this film but I'm sure Nixon entertained the idea of locking them up in camps or having them put down.  Or maybe not.  When I popped it in to watch I was hoping for some political humor.  With the way things are going in this country right now I could sure use a laugh.

The Deserter (1971)

AKA: The Devil's Backbone

Director: Burt Kennedy

Writers: Stuart J. Byrne, William H. James, Massimo D'Avak, Clair Huffaker

Composer: Piero Piccioni

Starring: Bekim Fehmiu, Richard Crenna, Chuck Connors, Ricardo Montalban, Ian Bannen, Brandon De Wilde, Slim Pickens, Woody Strode, Albert Salmi, Patrick Wayne, Fausto Tozzi, John Huston

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Deserter and his blood bath brigade -- they drenched the west with terror!

Plot: Army deserter Capt. Viktor Kaleb is offered a pardon and reinstatement in the cavalry if he agrees to lead a special forces group in a raid against an Apache stronghold into Mexico.

My Rating:

Will I watch it again?  No.

Watch this just for the cast alone.  It's a great mix of known actors and it's a hoot seeing them all in one picture.  Huston has such a commanding presence that he owns every scene he's in, and when he's given some badass lines, he delivers them with the conviction of a man who's used to getting what he wants.  I really dig that almost everyone hates Kaleb (Fehmiu), who couldn't care less except that he expects everyone to do their job and to keep away from endangering the group.  The story is OK to a point until you realize that the bad guy, Apache Chief Mangus Durango (Palmara), is nothing more than a reason for these men to go on their mission.  Durango is seen briefly and he doesn't even have any lines.  He's the McGuffin.  The movie is all about Kaleb and his men on their journey.  There are some really neat set pieces where good men die and it's not something that's taken lightly (not always) and some of the deaths have weight.  It's nice to see something so harsh taken seriously by the filmmakers.  Piccioni's score even echoes that by keeping the music grounded in reality.  It's not typical Western music and it's very dramatic and brooding.  The print I saw was a decent widescreen image but it's not close to what you'd see in a proper DVD release.  If I came across one then I'd be inclined to give this one another go in a few years but then there are thousands of movies I've yet to get to.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Beyond Reason (1977)

Director: Telly Savalas

Writer: Telly Savalas

Composer: Robert Randles

Starring: Telly Savalas, Laura Johnson, Diana Muldaur, Marvin Laird, Bob Basso, Priscilla Barnes, Walter Brooke, Barney Phillips, Douglas Dirkson

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  On the fine line of madness.

Plot: A seemingly succesful psychiatrist begins to lose his grip on reality, and embarks on an affair with a patient.

My rating:  5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I think what attracted me to watch this was that it was written, directed and starred Telly Savalas.  I dig the guy and all but the film is quite dull.  It's not until the last half hour or more that it gets interesting enough that I thought it would pay off in a way that would justify the deliberately slow pace of the first hour.  It didn't but it came within striking distance.  Maybe I was hoping for something more radical and off the charts.  Some of the acting is mediocre at best.  Savalas does a good job for the most part.  He'd better.  It's his baby all the way through.  Being how it was made in the 70s I had higher expectations.  

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Madigan (1968)

Director: Don Siegel

Writers: Howard Rodman, Abraham Polonsky, Richard Dougherty

Composer: Don Costa

Starring: Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, Inger Stevens, Harry Guardino, James Whitmore, Susan Clark, Michael Dunn, Steve Ihnat, Don Stroud, Sheree North, Warren Stevens, Raymond St. Jacques, Bert Freed, Conrad Bain

More info: IMDb

Tagline: "If Detective Madigan kept his eyes on the killer instead of the broad..."

Plot: In New York City's Spanish Harlem, detectives Madigan and Bonaro are given 72 hours by their superior to capture a hoodlum wanted for homicide in Brooklyn.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

This would be a much better picture if it weren't for spending so much time on the home lives of Madigan (Widmark) and Commissioner Russell (Fonda).  My interest in the crime drama aspect came to a screeching halt when both of them are at home trying to work things out with their spouses.  It's downright boring.  I like Fonda but in this picture he plays yet another professional man who is good at what he does but he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and he delivers his lines with such frustration that you wonder why the hell he's still in the job.  I swear I've seen him play that in a dozen films.  The cast does very well but it's Widmark and Guardino (who plays his detective partner, Rocco Bonaro).  The film works best when it is focused on the two detectives and it fails most when it doesn't.  

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Happening (1967)

Director: Elliot Silverstein

Writers: Frank Pierson, James D. Buchanan, Ronald Austin

Composer: Frank De Vol

Starring: Anthony Quinn, George Maharis, Michael Parks, Robert Walker Jr., Martha Hyer, Faye Dunaway, Milton Berle, Oskar Homolka, Jack Kruschen, Clifton James, Eugene Roche, James Randolph Kuhl, Luke Askew

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Most Fantastic $3,000,000 Caper That Ever Happened!

Plot: A few hippies "go with the flow" and end up kidnapping a retired Mafia kingpin.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

This probably sounded a lot better on paper.  The problem is in the execution.  The comedy is wacky, broad and obnoxious.  The "hippies" are obnoxious and mostly over acted.  I think they were going for zany.  The music certainly echoes that vibe.  Hell, even the car ride back to the swamp shack after the big score has all of that along with some crazy camera angles like you'd see in the '66 BATMAN show.  Quinn comes off the best and he's playing it straight.  It's actually kind of sad when he discovers that he's been living a lie for years where his wife and friends are concerned.  What ruins it is the comedic music and the kids being obnoxious.  There are moments when this picture turns serious and it rarely works because of the forced humor and the mishandled tone of the film.  The story is fine, it's whats on screen that hurts.  This picture could go full on comedy and work or it could work well as a really good crime drama but it fails on both counts.  The only time I laughed was at the The Inspector (Kruschen).  He had that Lee J. Cobb thing going on where he's frustrated and the people around him aren't helping matters.  It was wild seeing a very young Michael Parks and with blonde hair.  I'd say skip this one but there is enough with the cast that it's easy to let your curiosity get the best of you.  The Supremes sing the title song.