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.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Manbeast! Myth or Monster? (1978)

Director: Nicholas Webster

Writer: Nicholas Webster

Composer: William Goldstein

Starring: Peter C. Byrne, Don Hood, Judy Langford

More info: IMDb

Plot: A documentary that explores the existence of Bigfoot, the Yeti and other legendary humanoid-type creatures.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Brought to you from the man behind SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS (1964) comes yet another documentary from the 70s about the legend of Bigfoot/Yeti and the men and women who spend way too much time looking for something that doesn't exist.  OK, so we haven't found any solid evidence so it doesn't exist until someone finds one and that's not going to happen.  Now that doesn't mean that it's not fun to think about.  It would be super cooler than hell if one of them sumbitches turned up.  Growing up in the 70s I'd see these type of documentaries on TV and then in '77 IN SEARCH OF... , the great TV series hosted by Leonard Nimoy, hit the airwaves.  I ate that shit up.  Years later I came to learn that there's a lot of bunk out there and I started using my brain to question what was real and what wasn't.  I still enjoy watching those 70s documentaries on mysteries and supernatural stuff if for nostalgia than anything else.  In some ways this film is well made with lots of forest footage.  Of course they recreate what they think the creatures look like and how they behave along with recreating accounts by those who claim to have either seen or heard these things. The problem is, and this is by no fault of the filmmakers, that some of its effectiveness is lost when you've seen a few of these and you've seen more entertaining ones at that.  This one isn't as exploitationy or outrageous like some so it's more grounded.  If that's how you like your Bigfoot docs then check this one out.  And how about the curves on Bigfoot's squeeze?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Glass Key (1935)

Director: Frank Tuttle

Writers: Dashiell Hammett, Kathryn Scola, Kubec Galsmon

Composers: John Leipold, Heinz Roemheld, Tom Satterfield

Starring: George Raft, Edward Arnold, Claire Dodd, Rosalind Keith, Charles Richman, Robert Gleckler, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, Ray Milland, Tammany Young, Harry Tyler, Charles C. Wilson, Emma Dunn, Matt McHugh, Pat Moriarity, Mack Gray, Ann Sheridan, George Reed

More info: IMDb

Plot: Ed Beaumont is the personal friend, advisor and bodyguard to Paul Madvig, the political boss of a large city. When a mysterious murder is committed---the son of a Madvig political opponent---Madvig's enemies try to pin the crime on him because he is waging a clean-up campaign they oppose. Ed risks his life and his reputation to find the killer and clear his friend.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

This one took me off guard and boy am I glad it did.  I thought for sure I knew who killed Taylor.  Thinking that opened up all kinds of nasty consequences for a couple of the players but I'm pleased it was something different.  I like surprises.  Raft is great as the man who tries to put the pieces together.  His motives seem to change and you're not quite sure where he stands and that's all part of the fun.  He does a fine job but his shoulders look unusually stiff.  Is that his style or was he not all that good of an actor to use his entire body?  Beats me.  He comes across best when he's cheerful.  He's not smiling much in this one, though.  The stunt work is very good, too.  A German shepherd jumps on Raft's back and it's fast and badass.  Later Raft is escaping out of window two or three floors up and falls and it's harrowing.  The last twenty or so minutes are great all the way up to discovering the truth and the final gag which leaves all of the actors smiling and laughing.   Look for future star Ann Sheridan in a small role as a no-nonsense, smart-talkin' nurse.  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Man Without a Star (1955)

Director: King Vidor

Writers: Borden Chase, D.D. Beauchamp, Dee Linford

Composers: Hans J. Salter, Herman Stein

Starring: Kirk Douglas, Jeanne Craine, Claire Trevor, William Campbell, Richard Boone, Jay C. Flippen, Myrna Hansen, Mara Corday, Eddy Waller, Sheb Wooley, George Wallace, Frank Chase, Paul Birch, Roy Barcroft, William 'Bill' Phillips, Jack Elam

Tagline: His home was his saddle...and his only friend...a six-gun!

Plot: A drifter working as foreman for an iron-fist female rancher must chose sides between his attractive employer and the other neighboring settlers who are mistreated by her.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nah.

Geez, I'd sure like to have seen this in widescreen but them's tha breaks sometimes.  I like Kirk Douglas but here he plays it a little more enthusiastically and over the top than necessary.  He's at his best when he pulls back a little, at least in this picture.  William Campbell, Kirk's new found young friend, over does it as well.  Outside of that the acting is solid.  Some of the dialogue is forced and goofy like when Dempsey (Douglas) freaks out whenever someone talks about barbed wire.  It's another example where he goes to far in the performance.  There are little things like this that bugged me a little.  Boone makes a fine baddie but he's not given much to do.  I guess it's enough if you consider this isn't some character study and it's all about a starring vehicle for Douglas where he gets to fight, shoot his pistol, love on some dames and crack wise...all in glorious Technicolor.  He covers the gamut in this picture.  He did everything but cry.  I did like how Dempsey and Reed's (Crain) relationship took a turn in the last act.  I didn't see that coming.  It's funny how much is made about having an indoor toilet yet they never show it, only Kirk's wild eye reactions to seeing one for the first time.  I guess it would be a while before that was allowed.  Unbelievable.  If you don't like Douglas then stay far away from this one but if you do then you'll be lightly entertained for an hour and a half.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Bitch Slap (2009)

Director: Rick Jacobson

Writers: Rick Jacobson, Eric Gruendemann

Composer: John R. Graham

Starring: Julia Voth, Erin Cummings, America Olivo, Michael Hurst, Ron Melendez, William Gregory Lee, Miniae Noji, Kevin Sorbo, Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Connor, Dennis Keiffer, Scott Hanley, Mark Lutz, Debbie Lee Carrington, Zoe Bell

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Prepare to get slapped ...

Plot: Three bad girls travel to a remote desert hideaway to steal $200 million in diamonds from a ruthless underworld kingpin.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

Ugh.  This looked like silly fun but it's nearly two hours of "get on with it already".  I was bored and it's another one of those movies where you think it's FINALLY wrapping up only to hit the display button and see that you've got 40 minutes left.  It's painful.  The opening credits are fucking fantastic.  It's a quick succession of clips from old movies with women slapping and punching and bits from exploitation flicks from the 60s.  I recognized a lot of them and that made me feel special.  Hey, I don't get many of those moments so I revel in them when I do.  Then the movie starts proper and there a definite vibe of FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! (1965).  There's a trailer in the middle of the desert and these three gals show up in a sweet classic muscle car.  I'm on board so far but it doesn't take long before boredom sets in and I'm fading.  Some things that annoyed me...There are flashbacks galore and they all start with something like "4 hours ago" and "3.17 months ago".  There are at least a dozen of these and it gets old and fast.  There are a lot of fights and they go on for too long.  OMFG why am I spending so much time writing this?  And one thing that might be a deal breaker for you is there isn't any nudity.  I take that back, there's one scene at a party where some random girl is topless.  OK, so there's your two seconds of skin.  You would think that the clearly grindhouse loving film makers would throw some bare boobs in there somewhere.  Sometimes it's completely necessary like in a movie that overstays its welcome by about a half hour.  I'm just sayin' a few nips wouldn't hurt this picture in the least.  If you're thinking about watching this for the first time I would encourage you to consider other options.  For what it's worth, the acting's OK if not surprisingly better than you'd expect.  So there's that, but who's going to watch a movie called BITCH SLAP with three hot chicks leading the cast for the acting?  Exactly.  Now where's the nudity?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Nightmare Honeymoon (1974)

Director: Elliot Silverstein

Writers: Lawrence Block, S. Lee Pogostin

Composer: Elmer Bernstein

Starring: Dack Rambo, Rebecca Dianna Smith, John Beck, Pat Hingle, Roy Jenson, David Huddleston, Jay Robinson, Dennis Patrick, Jim Boles, Dennis Burkley, Patrick Cranshaw, Angela Clarke, Jack Perkins, Bob Steele, Richard O' Brien, Walter Koenig

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Thank Heavens, It's Only A Movie!

Plot:  A newlywed couple witness a murder.  The two men responsible rape the bride and the groom vows revenge. 

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

The first half hour is fantastic.  They set the picture up beautifully.  The Louisiana locales are beautiful and rich, and we know everything we need to know and get a damn good idea of what's to come.  Then the middle third shows up and drags it all down.  Before the slowdown period, Jill (Smith) is raped while her new husband David (Rambo) is unconscious.  By this point we already know that David spent two years in Vietnam in combat and he's only been back for three days when he marries Jill.  That says to me that once it's revealed she was raped (which she initially lies to David (and the viewer) that the killer just let them go while he was knocked out) then all killing machine hell is going to break loose when David sets his sights on revenge.  But that doesn't happen.  Instead it's a natural (I presume as I'm not familiar with the process rape victims go through) progression for this couple dealing with the aftermath of the crime.  He's pissed and wants revenge and she wants to move on and not tell anyone, including her father or the police.  The second half hour deals with this mostly with the couple discussing their feelings. 

There's a little bit of sleuthing on David's part to find out who these two killer rapists are.  Jill isn't able to tame her husband's desire so she's pretty much along for the ride eventually.  The last act has the main bad guy kidnapping Jill and using her to get to David so he can rape her again but in front of her husband.  I'm sure he's got plans to kill them both when the humiliation is over.  There's a big confrontation and fight and then it's over.  What starts as a textbook example of how to make a revenge exploitation picture ends up being a drama in disguise but then it remembers what it promised early on and tries to make up for it by going back to the exploitation roots and finishing with an action finale.  The middle third drags.  It's fine if the film wants to be a drama but it clearly doesn't from how the first and last half hours play out.  What's missing is that Vietnam experience David has and how he puts that killing skill to use by hunting these pricks down in the swamp or something.  THAT would've been awesome.  Everything else in the film (acting, directing, etc) is very good.  It's just the story's midsection is tonally not what the picture needed or at least what I wanted.  Little did they know that they were making a picture for some bozo to watch on a rainy Saturday night forty something years later.  Goobers.