Sunday, April 30, 2017

Who's That Knocking at My Door (1967)

Original title: I Call First

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writers: Betzi Manoogian, Martin Scorsese

Starring: Harvey Keitel, Zina Bethune, Anne Colette, Lennard Kuras, Michael Scala, Harry Northup, Catherine Scorsese

More info: IMDb

Plot:  A young man struggles with the fact that his girlfriend was once raped.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

When you're a fan of someone's work and you've been following them for many, many years, there's something special when you finally get to see their early work and better still, their first picture.  This is Scorsese's first and it about a decade later that he'd hit the big time.  You can see his hands all over this.  The dialogue pops off the screen and Keitel delivers it and sounding at times just like it was coming straight from Scorsese's lips.  The banter between these people feels genuine.  The takes are long and it often feels like you're watching slice of life moments.  It's refreshing.  The pop song soundtrack is fantastic and fun.  The love scene is nicely shot with The Doors' classic, The End, on the soundtrack. 

And, yes, there is a Keitel donger sighting but you'll have to watch the film for that.  The best moments are with Keitel hanging out with his guy friends.  The love story plays separate.  The romance business contrasts the fun stuff when he's not with her.  He's a different person but the scenes away from the love stuff play faster and are a lot more interesting.  I really dug seeing a lot of techniques that Scorsese's known for that started with his first feature 50 years ago.  The Warner Bros. DVD has a great looking B&W anamorphic widescreen print.  The two extras you get are a commentary track with Scorsese and Mardik Martin, the directorial assistant, and a modern 13 minute making of featurette with Mardik Martin. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Patriot Games (1992)

Director: Phillip Noyce

Writers: Tom Clancy, W. Peter Iliff, Donald Stewart

Composer: James Horner

Starring: Harrison Ford, Anne Archer, Patrick Bergin, Sean Bean, Thora Birch, James Fox, Samuel L. Jackson, Polly Walker, J.E. Freeman, James Earl Jones, Richard Harris, Ted Raimi

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Let the Games Begin.

Plot: When CIA Analyst Jack Ryan interferes with an IRA assassination, a renegade faction targets him and his family for revenge.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nah.  3 times in 25 years is plenty.

I loves me some Harrison Ford from this point in his career.  He was a solid action/thriller actor.  He's great in this as you'd expect.  The cast is great and they're all solid, too.  Horner's score, though typically reminiscent of his earlier work, is very good.  The first two thirds of the film is very good.  You've got several nicely done action scenes and some good tension building but then that last half hour shits the bed.  It's all set at Jack Ryan's house on the coastline of Maryland or someplace which is where he, his family and a whole mess of military protection are waiting it out to see if the bad guys show up to kill some mofos.  Of all the friggin' places to place people to protect them.  Unbelievable.  For the last half hour it's typical, predictable Hollywood.  It's well done, technically, but it's almost thirty minutes of BS because you know Jack and his family aren't going to snuff it just because that's how things roll in Hollywood.  It just bothers me that everyone involved did such a fine job building the tensions for nearly an hour and a half to let the story of all things tear it all down and leave you with a lack of fulfillment.  The final moment before the end credits rolled was very cute, though.  The Paramount DVD features the film in anamorphic widescreen.  You get two extras, a 25 minute making of (anamorphic widescreen) and the theatrical trailer (non anamorphic widescreen).

Friday, April 28, 2017

Indian Raid, Indian Made (1969)

Director: Bob Favorite

Writer: Bruce Kerr

Composers: Joe Counts, Art Schill, Chuck Story

Starring: Morganna, Chuck Davis, Bobby Little, Dick Mann, Glory Bee, Tifanny Lace, Sandy Russell, Dawn Diano

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Moonshine stills, Undercover agents, Injuns, Gals, and everythin'...

Plot: An agent goes undercover to bust a moonshiner and sleeps his way to solving the case.  Meanwhile, a Pocahontas wannabe recruits a couple of Redneck nitwits to do her bidding.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.


When it comes to bad Hicksploitation, and they're all pretty bad from what I've seen, this one at least has some great looking broads that all show off their goods.  And there's A LOT of it, too.  It's about an hour and fifteen minutes long and I'd say more than half of that is a bounty of boobs.   Nobody cares about the story for this sort of thing but there is an attempt at one with a beginning, middle and end.  The comedy is horrible except for one scene...

I laughed.  The few other attempts at the funny are over the top, corny and bad.  But we're not watching this to have our funny bones tickled now are we?  I thought so.  Back to the boobs.

Look, there's a lot of simulated fucking in this picture with the typical squirming and grinding you'd normally find in these flicks but you've got two things that make this one's scenes stand out; all of the chicks are hot and the filmmakers aren't making us watch the same bloody bits over and over.  The scenes might play longer than you want but then what do you expect in low budget trash like this?  The best scene in the movie is hands down Morganna's striptease.

Hubba fuckin' hubba!  I would love to go back in time and see this hottie in action on the stage.  It's worth watching the whole movie just for this one bit.  It'll take you an hour to get to it but it's several minutes of hotness!  To my knowledge this was released by Something Weird Video on VHS and not DVD but you can find the whole thing online if you do a simple search....and you should if you know what's good for you.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Hitler's Madman (1943)

Director: Douglas Sirk

Writers: Bart Lytton, Albrecht Joseph, Emil Ludwig, Peretz Hirschbein, Melvin Levy, Doris Malloy, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edgar G. Ulmer

Composers: Karl Hajos, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Nathaniel Shilkret

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Sensational!

Plot: Story of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, Nazi SS commander, by Czech partisans and the reprisals inflicted by the Nazis on the Czechs.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

I think this is the third time I've seen this since the '80s and there's one thing that stick out and that I remember most is John Carradine's frighteningly good performance as Heydrich.  He's a beast and really sells this guy as a callous and murderous bastard.  It's worth watching just for Carradine but don't get too invested because he's only got a few, brief scenes.  He's sorely missed when he's not present.  There are some harsh moments of violence (mostly offscreen) which add to the grim nature of the story which is based on true events from the previous year.  The only thing correct about the ambush is that there was one but it didn't happen nearly like this.  There is some levity early on which goes away soon enough.  It's weird seeing very American actors (like the always fun and lovable Edgar Kennedy) with their very American accents pretending to be Czechs but then it's not like we'd get anything much different from wartime Hollywood.  The last half hour is pretty tight and thrilling compared to the rest of the picture which it needed to be.  It's a good film but its not without flaws.  Carradine goes balls to the wall evil Nazi while the other actors as Nazis are either dumb blunt objects that fanatically do as they're told or are playing them as dumb and silly.  I like smart, ruthless villains and they're a rare breed in Hollywood pictures.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wrong Way (1972)

Director: Ray Williams

Writer: ???

Starring: Laurel Canyon, Candy Sweet, Forrest Lorne, Ray Wray, Ron Namkram, Kurt Ames, John Zinger, Joe Habit, Seymore Harris, Bill Fisher, Mercedes Cronkite

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They Did It The...Wrong Way

Plot: Two girls are driving home when their car breaks down in the country. They are kidnapped by a gang of drug-crazed hippies, and repeatedly raped. They escape, but soon run into a death cult who plan to gang-rape the girls, then kill them. Meanwhile, the father of one of the girls gets the police to begin an investigation into their disappearance.

My rating: 3/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Looking for some harsh 70s exploitation with lots of nudity?  Look no further.  6 minutes in the girls' car breaks down and it's so hot outside they need to change.

And a few minutes later...

That's a daydream from one of the bad guys.  A few minutes later the bad guys find the girls and gang rape them.  Meanwhile we cut back and forth to one of the girl's father calling the local sheriff worried about her.  The overweight sheriff grabs his shotty and goes a-huntin', still while the rape is in progress.  This literally goes on for twenty minutes.  They dudes leave the girls to wander off through the woods.  They come upon another group of hippies but these guys are digging a grave (wth the help of their women and toddler).  These bad dudes threaten to kill our two victims and take them hostage to live with them in the wilderness as sexual beasts.   But wait, this tale gets a little more complicated.  Two guys and a girl, whom we're just being introduced to in the last twenty minutes of the picture (and I think it's them that a police helicopter has been searching for), arrive at a little house in the middle of nowhere and get some three-way action going on.

Is this getting too hot for you?  That goes on for a few minutes and after that's done, we hear an officer over the police radio re-capping what they know (which is what we know, but the Cliff Notes version) and we get to see even more nudity from the cop's perspective.  He tells the sheriff to go check out a cabin for the two bad guys.  At this point the woman (who was a willing sex machine a few minutes ago) is now bound and gagged and the two dudes are locking her up while they go outside to talk to the fuzz.  Things got ugly when the sheriff sends his deputy into the cabin to look for the girl.  The two dudes shoot at the two cops and everyone dies but the sheriff, who took one in the gut. The end.  It's only mildly entertaining at times but largely dull.  It's 78 minutes long but it you trimmed it down to 40 it would probably be an alright exploitation picture that would hold your attention.  At least there's some so bad it's good dialogue and acting and lots of nudity.  Without it this would be a total stinker.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Shock Corridor (1963)

Director: Samuel Fuller

Writer: Samuel Fuller

Composer: Paul Dunlap

Starring: Peter Breck, Constance Towers, Gene Evans, James Best, Hari Rhodes, Larry Tucker, Paul Duboy, Chuck Roberson, Neyle Morrow, John Matthews, Bill Zuckert, John Craig, Philip Ahn, Frank Gerstle

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Medical Jungle Doctors Don't Talk About!

Plot: Bent on winning a Pulitzer Prize, a journalist commits himself to a mental institution to solve a strange and unclear murder.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

I've gotta tell ya, this Sumuel Fuller kid is going to go places.  Having just watched the great THE NAKED KISS (1964) and now this one.  Wow.  I've seen a few of his pictures and liked them but he really knocked these two out of the park.  The performances are outstanding.  Peter Breck as Johnny, the reporter who goes undercover, is acting his ass off.  James Best has a monologue that hit me deep.  Hari Rhodes has some great scenes, too.  And here's something cool, Larry Tucker, who played Pagliacci (the really heavy fella), went on to write I LOVE YOU, ALICE B. TOKLAS! (1968) and BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE (1969).  And this picture has some great moments that aren't acting showcases like that brief scene with the shock treatment.  Yikes!  Fuller wrote and directed one hell of a interesting flick which gets better as it goes along.  Nearly the entire film is shot on the hospital set but the film is so riveting that the staleness doesn't enter into it.  It probably helps it since the audience is stuck in the same environment as Johnny and everyone else.  Don't read any spoilers about this.  Right now the full movie is on YouTube.  Watch it while you can (below).  And one more thing, how the hell did this not get recognized by the awards folks?

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Naked Kiss (1964)

Director: Samuel Fuller

Writer: Samuel Fuller

Composer: Paul Dunlap

Starring: Constance Towers, Anthony Eisley, Michael Dante, Virginia Grey, Patsy Kelly, Marie Devereux, Karen Conrad, Linda Francis, Bill Sampson, Sheila Mintz, Patricia Gayle, Jean-Michel Michenaud, George Spell, Betty Bronson

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Candy's Place--where all kinds of men find all kinds of sweets!

Plot:  Kelly, a prostitute, traumatized by an experience, referred to as 'The Naked Kiss,' by psychiatrists, leaves her past, and finds solace in the town of Grantville. She meets Griff, the police captain of the town, with whom she spends a romantic afternoon. Kelly finds a job as a nurse in a hospital for handicapped children. The work helps her find her sensitive side in the caring and helping of her young patients. Kelly's path towards happiness is thrown amiss, when she witnesses a shocking event, which threatens not just her happiness, but her mental health as well.

My rating:8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

You've got to see this.  Get a load of the names in the story: Candy, Mac, Buff, Dusty, Rembrandt, Angel Face, Bunny, Hatrack, Zookie.  The film's got one hell of a pre-credits opening!  This is a wild and interesting ride.  There are moments of old school cheese (like when Kelly (Towers) meets Miss Josephine (Bronson) to rent a room in her house) on the acting front.  I'm sure it was easier to swallow 54 years ago but today it's just plain corny but I love it just the same.  Constance Towers is outstanding and she's given a lot to do.  Then there are a few scenes that are downright mature and amazing for that time.  They still hold up incredibly well.  This picture deals with prostitution, child molestation and murder.  The molestation shocker hit me upside the head, coming almost out from the darkness.  The children Kelly works with are just too adorable for words.  The song she sings with them, Little Child (Mon Enfant), is beautiful and the kids really shine.  The way that sequence is cut is nice, too.  Speaking of which, the story seemed like it was slapped together but it's not.  I realized that once it was over but there's an unusual mix of themes, situations, style and pacing that could feel like it was directed by more than one person or at least sections of the picture were given to different people to play with.  It's odd but damn if I didn't really enjoy it.  The way it all comes together is brilliant.  It's another home run from writer/director Samuel Fuller.  I'm about to start SHOCK CORRIDOR (1962), a film that's been on my radar for decades.  Watch it for yourself.  It's currently on YouTube in beautiful widescreen. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Gunfight (1971)

Director: Lamont Johnson

Writer: Harold Jack Bloom

Composer: Laurence Rosenthal

Starring: Kirk Douglas, Johnny Cash, Jane Alexander, Karen Black, Dana Elcar, Robert J. Wilke, Keith Carradine, Eric Douglas, Paul Lambert, Raf Vallone

More info: IMDb

Tagline: It was the first time they sold tickets to a gunfight. Winner takes all. Widow takes the body.

Plot: Two aging gunfighters in need of money come to an agreement to organize an actual showdown between them and sell tickets for it. The townsfolk is more than interested to see the "show".

My rating:  6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

So I'm watching an episode of THE DICK CAVETT SHOW from '71 on YouTube where Dick spends an hour talking with Kirk Douglas.  This picture came up and it sounded like fun and being how YouTube has this movie in full free for nothing, here we are.  It's the first feature film financed by an American Indian tribe (The Jicarilla Apache Tribe in New Mexico).  The story sounded like it had some neat possibilities plus it's got Kirk Douglas facing off against Johnny Cash.  Karen Black hadn't hit the big time yet but she was certainly on her way having starred in FIVE EASY PIECES the year before.  Here's she plays Jenny, a prostitute who falls for her trick, Abe (Cash).  It's a thankless role but she does bring more to it than the role deserves.  Jane Alexander (as Nora, Will's (Douglas) wife) does a fine job, too.  Kirk Douglas brings it as usual but it's Johnny Cash that doesn't work so well for me.  He's way too dour.  I get that he's a defeated man but he's got no passion or fire in his belly or anything.  He's not all that bad but there's a stoic, wooden quality to his performance that made me long for someone with some acting chops.  It didn't help, either, that Abe and Will  concoct this scheme very early on in the film so you spend an hour after that building up to the duel which feels too long.  But the ending is great.  I can see how some folks would hate it but I thought it was ballsy as hell.  It grounded the picture and gave it some much needed weight.  I wouldn't tell anyone to watch it just for the last few minutes because there's a chance they'd dislike the movie even more but I found it to be a mature finish to a somewhat meandering ending.  The YouTube video above is the only one I could find in widescreen.  It's not available on DVD so this is your best bet even though the picture quality is OK and the audio worse.  But, hey, it's free.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Dad's Army (1971)

Director: Norman Cohen

Writers: Jimmy Perry, David Croft

Composer: Wilfred Burns

Starring: Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, Clive Dunn, John Laurie, James Beck, Arnold Ridley, Ian Lavender, Liz Fraser, Bernard Archard, Derek Newark, Bill Pertwee, Frank Williams

More info: IMDb

Tagline: At last! Their epic story invades the Big Screen!

Plot: The misadventures of a ragtag group of elderly Home Guard local defense volunteers at the onset of WW2.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

The DAD'S ARMY TV show ran from 1968-1977 and it's hilarious.  I've seen all of the available episodes for at least the first 4 or more seasons and I absolutely love them all.  The characters are fun, funny and lovable.  Even the hard ass Capt. Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe).  It's a solid 9/10 in my book.  I finally got around to seeing the movie the cast made and it's a letdown.  I don't know what it is with these British movies made of their shows but they're almost always lacking what made their shorter counterparts successful, and the Brits made a lot of them in the '70s.  This one just isn't nearly as fun as the show.  Maybe it's that the show's were faster paced.  And maybe, dare I even think it, it's also the absence of a laugh track that becomes familiar episode after episode.  Regardless, this picture should've translated better to the big screen.  The only problem is is that the funny just isn't there in a ratio like you have in the show.  The story is almost immaterial in that just having these characters around doing their thing is enough for a fun ride.  One thing I kind of liked (but seemed completely unnecessary except for people who've never seen the show) is that you see the origin of the group's formation.  If I remember right, the first episode of the TV series begins on the first day of enlistment.  We don't get to see these guys before they came together.  One one hand it was neat seeing them before they donned the uniforms but at the same time it wasn't all that amusing and it took a while before we were caught up to the beginning of the series. I'm glad the print I watched was anamorphic widescreen.  The film looked nice and grainy and it had that late 60s/early 70s WWII movie aesthetic that I like in these types of pictures.  I don't know why I'm still babbling on about this.  It must be because I had higher expectations for something that had no reason I can think of to not be as good or funny as the show they had already established for 2-3 years and had several more great years to go.

Friday, April 21, 2017

National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985)

Director: Amy Heckerling

Writers: John Hughes, Robert Klane

Composer: Charles Fox

Starring: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Dana Hill, Jason Lively, John Astin, Sheila Kennedy, Paul Bartel, Cynthia Szigeti, Robbie Coltrane, Eric Idle, William Zabka

More info: IMDb

Tagline: For over two thousand years, Europe has survived many great disasters. Now for the real test... The Griswold's.

Plot: The Griswolds win a vacation tour across Europe where the usual havoc ensues.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

It's fucked up that I still haven't seen the first Vacation movie except for a few scenes yet I've seen this one and VEGAS VACATION (1997) twice.  There are very few funny moments and most of what's funny is mildly amusing at best.  The hour and a half drags much to often and many scenes overstay their welcome.  The cast gives it their all but the movie just sits there flat.  The best gag in the movie and my biggest laugh is the Frisbee toss off the Eiffel Tower.  OK, I'm starting to not care for Chase in this role.  It's a one dimensional character but he's just not selling it as lively and fun as I'd like.  Sue me.  I miss the charismatic Chevy from FOUL PLAY (1978), SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES (1980) and FLETCH (1985).  Pacing is a serious issue and there aren't enough good gags to sustain the 95 minute run time.  The European location is a big bonus but it's hardly enough to make it worthwhile.  I won't be watching this one again.  It's a damn shame that this franchise isn't better because it's loaded with potential.  The Warner Bros. DVD has a nice anamorphic widescreen print.  The only extras are a commentary track with Chevy Chase, dry as usual, trying to be funny.  He's at his best when he's serious and talks about the making of the picture.  Other than that you get an anamorphic widescreen trailer.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hoodlum (1997)

Director:  Bill Duke

Writer:  Chris Brancato

Composer: Elmer Bernstein

Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Tim Roth, Vanessa Williams, Andy Garcia, Cicely Tyson, Chi McBride, Clarence Williams III, Richard Bradford, William Atherton, Loretta Devine, Queen Latifah, Mike Starr, Beau Starr

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Power is measured in enemies.

Plot:  In 1934, the second most lucrative business in New York City is a lottery know to the locals as "the numbers". Someday, Madam Queen, the powerful woman who runs the scam in Harlem, is arrested. Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson takes over the business and must resist against the invasion from merciless mobster Dutch Shultz.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I loves me some period gangster pictures.  I've seen a lot of them and there are a lot of really good ones, too.  This isn't one of them.  At over two hours, it's too long.  One of the problems I have with it is that character actions and some scenes take too long.  The camera lingers a second or two more than necessary.  That's either the director or editor's decision and it's just one of many things that keep this from being a lot better and more fun than it is.  I'm OK with one dimensional characters sometimes because an actor's performance can take it and have fun with it.  Fishburne is just drab, though.  On the other end you've got Tim Roth running for mayor of Over-the-Top-Ville.  Sometimes he's alright and sometimes he's a cartoon villain.  The romance between Fishburne and Williams is flat, cliche and boring.  And the fight choreography suffers from the same phoniness.  Everyone is obviously pulling their punches and the camera lingers long enough for you to see it.  This is where tighter editing would've improved these scenes.  At least they brought on the great Elmer Bernstein to score the picture but even that isn't given much room to shine as it's often too soft on the soundtrack.  I really wanted to like this one but I was bored by the pacing and lack of overall oompf this picture needed to make this a fun and enjoyable ride.  The MGM DVD sports a good anamorphic widescreen print as is the only extra with the theatrical trailer.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

Director: Robert Altman

Writers: Edmund Naughton, Robert Altman, Brian McKay

Starring: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Rene Auberjonois, William Devane, John Schuck, Corey Fischer, Bert Remsen, Shelley Duvall, Keith Carradine, Michael Murphy, Antony Holland, Hugh Millais, Manfred Schulz

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Purveyors of Paradise.

Plot:  A gambler and a prostitute become business partners in a remote Old West mining town, and their enterprise thrives until a large corporation arrives on the scene.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

Knowing only that this was a Western with Beatty & Christie and nothing else, I popped the disc in a few nights ago and watched the trailer first, which I don't usually do.  It was clear this was a different kind of Western and probably all drama so it wasn't right for me at that moment and I gravitated to a cheap Corman picture I'd never seen.  Last night it was quiet around the house so I pulled the 11' screen down and gave this one a go.  I was pretty luke warm about it until the final few minutes.  It's a slow burn that rarely picks up steam; you're just watching these characters in their environment.  The actors do a fine enough job.  There is one standout performance and that's by the 6'7" Butler, the leader of the killers hired to snuff out McCabe (Beatty), played wonderfully by Hugh Millais.  He's only got 10 movie/TV credits but he owned every scene he was in here.  Oh, yeah, and it's Keith Carradine's first movie and he's great which makes his tense moment on the bridge even more tense. The music is sparse and appropriate.  It's mostly all seen played on screen except for the three repeated Leonard Cohen songs which were not written for the film but seem to fit nicely with the dim look and feel of the movie. 

The art/set design and cinematography are outstanding.  This little town looks authentic and well lived in.  It's grimy, wet and you can almost smell it.  The same goes with the costuming and everything else that attributes to what you see.  The only thing that's lacking, if anything, is the story.  I would've liked more and if that means holding my hand a little through a scene or two, then so be it.  It just felt like there was a good chunk missing.  It's almost too simple as in you're telling a story about a man who's building a town and gets partway through only to have someone offer to buy him out.  He refuses so the buyers send someone to kill him.  End of story.  Oh, and along the way he hooks up with a prostitute to run the town brothel and she's a real working girl who even makes him pay for sex.  That's the gist of it.  The ending is very nice and I was really touched by what happens to both McCabe & Mrs. Miller and I didn't see either fate coming.  That was great.  I might watch this one day, many years from now and see how it plays, knowing what to expect.  This picture is slow (which is perfectly fine) and there are a lot of nice touches that alone make this worth watching (like when the two couples are dancing and they stop to watch the music player move to the next song).  One thing I didn't care for was the sometimes look of the film as if it were filmed in constant haze.  When the picture was clear of that it looked great.  The Warner Bros. DVD features the film in anamorphic widescreen (and so is the trailer, yay!).  The extras you get are the trailer, a commentary track with Altman and co-producer David Foster and a 10 minute vintage featurette (fullscreen).

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Six Bridges to Cross (1955)

Director: Joseph Pevney

Writers: Sydney Boehm, Joseph F. Dinneen

Composers: Frank Skinner, Herman Stein

Starring: Tony Curtis, George Nader, Julie Adams, Jay C. Flippen, Sal Mineo, Jan Merlin, Richard Castle, William Murphy, Kendall Clark, Don Keefer, Harry Bartell, Tito Vuolo, Jeff Chandler

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Is This The Unsolved Secret Behind the Great $2,500,000 Boston Robbery?

Plot: Youth gang leader Jerry Florea is shot fleeing from a crime scene by rookie cop Ed Gallagher. Result: "he'll never have children of his own." Ed and Jerry develop a mutually beneficial friendship: Jerry gets the benefit of the doubt, Ed gets information that brings him rapid promotion. As years and jail terms go by, Ed's friendship with this likable rogue becomes strained, as hope for his reform dwindles. Can Jerry redeem himself in the end?

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Set your expectations a little lower if you're looking for a heist picture.  This isn't it.  Crimes are committed but they're mere seconds per whack.  This is a dramatic character study of a criminal, Jerry (Curtis) who has spent his life unchanging.  He befriends the cop, Ed (Nader) who shot him trying to get away from a burglary when he was a kid and he plays the cop's game for years.   Jerry is one big disappointment to Ed and his wife Ellen (Adams) but they still love him with diminishing return.  The performances are solid and Curtis is fantastic.  I don't think I've ever seen him better, but then I've only seen a few of his pictures).  The story is engaging enough (thanks to Curtis' charisma and enthusiasm) but I was let down by the lack of any heist action and onscreen criminal activity.  I understand that it's my preconceived notions of what the film was that's the culprit and not the fault of the picture.  The film was shot widescreen but good luck finding it anyway but fullscreen.  Maybe this has turned up on TCM that way but it's a Universal picture and I don't know if TCM shows their movies.  A couple of interesting bits, this is Sal Mineo's first movie and the internet says that Sammy Davis Jr. lost his eye in a car accident on the way to record the movie's titular song.  I knew about the accident but never remembered this flick had a connection.