Friday, June 30, 2017

Billy Two Hats (1974)

Director: Ted Kotcheff

Writer: Alan Sharp

Composer: John Scott

Starring: Gregory Peck, Desi Arnaz Jr., Jack Warden, David Huddleston, Sian Barbara Allen, John Pearce, Dawn Little Sky, Vince St. Cyr, Henry Medicine Hat, Zeev Berlinsky, Anthony Scott, Vic Armstrong

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Against the Law...Against the Odds...Against the Land Itself

Plot: After a bank robbery, runaway Scottish outlaw Arch Deans and his young half breed Kiowa partner Billy Two Hats develop a father-son relationship but Sheriff Henry Gifford is determined to capture or kill them.

My rating:  6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Wow.  I dug Gregory Peck for a change.  Normally I dig the guy but he often plays stoic good guys that sound like they'd bust out in a noble speech at any given moment.  In this one he's a bank robber with a Scottish accent and he's playing it cool.  It's a nice change for this cat.  I loves me some Jack Warden and it's always a treat to see him at work.  I like that the picture has you rooting (sort of) for Peck and you want him to get away with it but at the same time, you might also find yourself, as I did, understanding that Warden is just a sheriff doing his job.  Warden's not a bad man but he's a lawman going after a couple of dudes that are very sympathetic despite having killed a man (a while before the movie begins) during the bank robbery.  Peck and his sidekick Arnez Jr. get into a few little adventures before the film comes to an end.  There isn't really any humor in the film but the picture does offer some serious themes and situations without getting too heavy.  I liked it enough.  Why not a higher score then?  It's missing something.  Maybe part of it is the insistence of Jr. becoming a man (you know, by having sex with a married broad even though the sympathy is with her because she was a mail order bride who is married to a physically abusive husband but that's alright because the husband is killed by Indians miles away and probably just before Jr. and lady do the deed so that kinda, maybe makes it OK in someone's eyes?).  The movie puts in a variety of set pieces and ideas and maybe keeping the picture more focused would've helped...but then the name of the movie is Jr's character so it's ultimately about his journey.  What the hell do i know.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Blade (1973)

Director: Ernest Pintoff

Writers: Jeff Lieberman, Ernest Pintoff

Composer: John Cacavas

Starring: John Marley, Jon Cypher, Kathryn Walker, William Prince, Michael McGuire, Joe Santos, John Schuck, Peter White, Keene Curtis, Karen Machon, Raina Barrett, Ted Lange, Marshall Efron, Steve Landesberg, Morgan Freeman, Julius Harris, Rue McClanahan

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A Psycho-Karate Killer Brutalizes His Victims And Your Emotions!

Plot: A homicide detective goes after a woman-hating serial killer, who uses knives to murder his victims.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

The cast alone should pique a few people's interest.  If you don't know some of their names, their faces or voices will ring a bell.  Morley is good as the hard-nosed detective, Blade.  I want this guy on my side.  His chemistry with Kathryn Walker (as his on screen wife, Maggie) is special and delightful.  John Cypher does a fine job as the killer that Blade is out to get and he's brutal with his women.  The picture opens with the first kill and he hits and kicks the life out of her.  It's harsh and in your face.  There's a subplot about a politician that works nicely, too, and the ending is quite good.  What bugged me was the semi-frequent cliched dialogue (and performance mostly from what John Schuck delivered as Blade's cop bos, Reardon).  And then there was the annoying amateurish camera angles that permeated a lot of the first half.  It often looked like a super low budget affair directed by an inexperienced director.  That could also largely be the fault of the cinematographer, David Hoffman, who'd only shot one feature prior (and no other feature narrative films after this one) and that was a sketch comedy, also directed by Pintoff.  The music alternates from good to outdated but for the most part I liked it.  The flaws are too great to make this a really good picture but it's worth watching.  Hell, the two scenes where Blade interviews a nude porn actress sitting on a bed waiting to film her scene will have you laughing.  Each time as Blade leaves from talking to her the porn director (Steve Landesberg) describes her scene and her character motivation.  It really is hilarious and you probably won't regret seeing the film just for these two brief moments.  But then you've also got one of the earliest film appearances from Morgan Freeman which is just fantastic, as well as seeing Ted Lange in his second movie role.  I liked it enough to recommend.  The print I watched was anamorphic widescreen and very dirty, which for this film, I wouldn't want to watch it any other way. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Alien: Covenant (2017)

Director: Ridley Scott

Writers: Jack Paglen, Michael Green, John Logan, Dante Harper

Composer: Jed Kurzel

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterson, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Jussie Smollett, Callie Hernandez, Amy Seimetz, Nathaniel Dean, Guy Pearce

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Run

Plot: The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

Where to start...hmmm.  It's not as dumb as PROMETHEUS (2012), even though I enjoyed that picture despite it's blatant stupidity, but it's still a very flawed film.  Scott is a great filmmaker but his biggest problem is not giving a shit if his stories have dumb shit in them.  With these latest two Alien pictures, he's more concerned with exploring some neat, lofty ideas than he is with anything else.  One thing a lot of people can agree on (who've seen these films) is that these ideas are good and are worth exploring but it's the abundance of other shit that gets in the way of making these great films and considering the talent, these should be great films.  The cast does a fine job and, once again, Fassbender comes out on top.  I really dug the bits with David and Walter.  Using music from Goldsmith's score from the 1979 film (and from PROMETHEUS) was great.  I loved it.  It's been a couple of weeks since I saw it so my memory is getting sketchy but I can clearly remember what I didn't like.


I'm getting tired of franchise films borrowing too much from their previous films.  In this case it's ALIEN (1979).  Is is really that hard that they couldn't find another way for the ship to come across the planet where David it?  A crew is awoken when their ship receives a distress beacon.  They pause their mission to go to the planet's surface only to unknowingly pick up an alien life form, bring it aboard their ship so it can pick off the crew one by one.  Are you kidding me?  Here's a nitpick, why the hell does everything have to make a sound?  Like when the microbes and shit are drifting in the air, making its way into the crew member's ear.  Oh, yeah, let's add some noise to that.  Whatever.  The big fight on the platform ship at the end was nothing but dumb and unnecessary.  There's no way Daniels (Waterson) would've survived any of a few spots of that sequence.  It's the "we must have a big action sequence to end the movie" syndrome that's so prevalent in Hollywood.  Surely there are several other ways the climax could've gone without resorting to this silly trope.  I LOVED David switching places with Walter (killing him offscreen) and having Daniels realizing it only after she's in her sleep chamber and it's the last thing that happens to her as she's forced into hyper sleep. 

I left the theater scratching my head about so many little things that seemed like dumb choices by the writers and film makers.  Why do David's feet point awkwardly outward?  You'd think that the creators of the android would've fixed that early on.  He's akin to a miracle of science but they couldn't straighten his feet when he walks?  Dumb.   And what about continuity?  In the first movie the crew discovers The Space Jockey surrounded by Alien eggs as we know and love them today, yet in COVENANT, David is the one who has spent a long time experimenting and who develops the creature so they are born from eggs identical to ALIEN yet this is a prequel.  Then what's the deal with the Space Jockey if David's the creator?  And how does that fit in with the queen alien laying the eggs that was introduced in ALIENS (1986)?  No one seems to care about these thing when making these film.  Ultimately, I was reasonable entertained which is about the least of what I wanted from this film but it could've been and certainly should've been much, much more.

A Thief in the Night (1972)

Director: Donald W. Thompson

Writers: Donald W. Thompson, Russell S. Doughten Jr.

Composer: ??? Stock music?

Starring: Patty Dunning, Mike Niday, Colleen Niday, Maryann Rachford, THom Rachford, Duane Coller, Russell S. Doughten Jr., Clarence Balmer, Betty D. Jackson, Gareld L. Jackson, Jared McAdams

More info: IMDb

Tagline: ...and there will be no place to hide.

Plot: The story of Patty, a young woman caught up in living for the present with little concern for the future. She meets and marries a young man and her life seems great, until one moment she awakens to find her husband gone and the radio reporting millions of people have mysteriously disappeared. As dramatic, earth shaking events begin to unfold around her, Patty realizes she is living in the end times spoken of in biblical prophecy.

My rating:  5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Ya know what this movie could've used a lot more of?  Titties.  There's not even one.  I thought for a moment that maybe the thief in the night took all of them but then I remembered that the movie wouldn't have them because it's a Christian propaganda picture.  Too bad Russ Meyer didn't make this; it would've been a lot more fun and it would probably convert a lot more people the Church of Boobs.  I'd get out of bed on a Sunday morning for a sermon at that church.  This is the LEFT BEHIND before LEFT BEHIND was a thing.  Like a lot of propaganda, it's heavily naive, optimistic in all the right places and pessimistic in all the right places.  Being how I don't believe in any of this nonsense, I'm rootin' for the cool kids who want to have fun.  Probably because this is a combination of low budget religious propaganda from the early 70s, the dialogue is often cornball as shit.  This might just be something you could have a good time with if you watched it with some non-believers (or, shit, believe away but make sure you're all...) drinking, laughing and talking to the screen.  That might be a good time.  Me?  I had this running on my monitor while I did office stuff.  Even then I found it often slow, boring and preachy.  This is the first of a dozen religious scare propaganda movies that Thompson wrote and directed.  I was hoping this would be more campy and outrageously silly and stupid but there's too much padding to maintain an hour's worth of cheesy entertainment.  When it comes to technical aspects, the sound library score is goofy and appropriate, the camera moves enough to keep the picture from feeling static (and the editing helps in this area as well) and the acting isn't all that bad at times and every once in a while I laughed, intentionally or not.  Still, no bare boobs.  This picture needed some sex.  It'd be a fun project to take something like this and delete some stuff and smut it up.  My time is short on this planet and there won't be some great editing booth in the sky waiting for me when I leave so I'll just imagine what it would be like and move on.

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.