Thursday, August 31, 2017

Young Man with a Horn (1950)

Director: Michael Curtiz

Writers: Carl Foreman, Edmund H. North, Dorothy Baker

Starring: Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall, Doris Day, Hoagy Carmichael, Juano Hernandez, Jerome Cowan, Mary Beth Hughes, Nestor Paiva, Orley Lindgren, Walter Reed, Frank Cady, Keye Luke

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A White-Hot Drama about a Red-Hot Jazzman!

Plot: A young trumpeter enjoys highs (musical success, fame, and fortune) and lows (sour marriage, death of his mentor, bout with alcoholism).

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably.

I've seen this a few times over the last 40+ years, for as long as I've been playing the trumpet.  Douglas does well in the role but he fails as a fake musician.  If you're not familiar with the horn then you won't see all of the little things he doesn't get right but getting it right isn't likely possible considering how there are bigger things to worry about.  He does as good as you'd expect for a big time Hollywood actor.  Now, as the story goes, it hits the beats from a rags to riches to rags story.  I recall hearing all those years ago that this was inspired by Bix Beiderbecke who had his promising horn career throughout the 20s cut far too short.  Harry James is the cat you hear playing the horn when Rick (Douglas) is on it.  Aside from Douglas not owning looking like a musician, the only issue I take with the film is how little of a transition Rick has going from an enthusiastic and nice guy to being a dick.  It bugs me when movies skip over this part of a character's arc.  I guess we're supposed to buy it without questioning it.  The Warner Bros. DVD looks great.  The only extra is the trailer.

She-Hulk XXX: An Axel Braun Parody (2013)

Director: Axel Braun

Writers: Bryn Pryor, Axel Braun

Starring: Chyna, Gracie Glam, Alexis Ford, Jennifer Dark, Eric Masterson, Tara Lynn Foxx, Ryan Friller, Mark Wood, Alec Knight, Alan Stafford, Richie Calhoun, Shylar Cobi

More info: IMDb

Plot: Top attorney Jennifer Walters (Glam) and cousin to Bruce Banner (Calhoun) turns into a larger green chick.

My rating: 3/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Is this what passes for porn parodies these days?  This is shit!  The non-porn bits are few and last maybe two minutes each which is probably ten minutes total.  There's literally no plot.  She's a lawyer that can't get what she wants for her client so she bangs the other attorney.  Next she's lying in a hospital bed not knowing how she got there.  A nurse sucks off the guard to her room and after the money shot, people try to kidnap the lawyer but she turns into She-hulk and escapes.  She-hulk goes to see the Sue Storm and Reed Richards of The Fantastic Four to help cure her but bangs Sue in the meantime.  Some dude bangs Madame Hydra and She-Hulk fucks Hawkeye.  The end.  There's nothing here.  The sex scenes (surprisingly sans music) are OK at best.  This is the first modern porn parody that I've seen and it's piss poor.  It was probably filmed in a couple of days for next to nothing.  The best thing about it is the idea of a She-Hulk porn existing.  You don't even get to see green tits!  Seriously!  You get some She-Hulk snatch but she doesn't even get naked!.  This is bullshit!!!

Most (1969)

AKA: The Bridge

Director: Hajrudin Krvavac

Writers: Predrag Golubovic, Djordje Lebovic

Composer: ???

Starring: Velimir 'Bata' Zivojinovic, Slobodan 'Cica' Perovic, Boris Dvornik, Relja Basic, Sibina Mijatovic, Boro Begovic, Jovan Janicijevic-Burdus, Igor Galo, Wilhelm Koch-Hooge, Hannjo Hasse

More info: IMDb

Plot: In order to check German offensive, Partizans send elite team of explosive experts to blow up strategically important bridge. Besides being heavily guarded, that bridge is almost indestructible and the only man who knows weak spots in the construction is the architect who built it. He is, however, reluctant to cooperate because he doesn't want to see his masterpiece destroyed.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

This is probably the first Yugoslavian war movie I've ever seen.  I'm not going to go out and have a beer and some pie or anything.  I just don't have a frame of reference for what the output quality was from there around this time.  That might help.  Still, it's an OK WWII action flick.  The version I saw was a pretty good anamorphic widescreen print nicely dubbed in English.  The flick offers some decent WWII action with the small demolition team.  The best of which is in the marsh, but here's the deal.  It's one of those pictures where the good guys gun down hundreds of Nazis over the course of the movie.  The grenades kill 8 guys, every bullet finds its target and so on.  It's as ridiculous as one guy out in the open guns down 20 guys from his far left to his far right.  It's ludicrous.  Along the way they pick up the architect of the bridge and he doesn't want to play.  You can easily figure out what's going to happen well before the end credits roll.  The ridiculousness of preparing the bridge for demolition took me out of the film, too.  It's clumsy action in an attempt to mimic a big Hollywood production.  The scenery is nice but you need more than that.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Trucker's Woman (1975)

Original title: Truckin' Man

Director: Will Zens

Writers: Joseph A. Alvarez, W. Henry Smith

Composers: Bobby Atkins, Charles Jeffords, Jackie Jeffords, Wayne Jeffords, Dan Knight, Allan M. Miller, Jerry Shinn, W. Henry Smith

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Kelly is his name. Truckin' is his game.

Plot: A young man takes up truck-driving to investigate his trucker father's suspicious death.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Here's an exploitation picture that lives up to its poster.  It's got truckin', truckers, chicks, car chases, fist fights, guitar playin', titties and more trucks.  It's also got Christian Slayer's pop (Kelly's his name and truckin's his game)  sexin' up the ladies while solving the murder of his father which involves the Mafia.  He gets help from Sigourney Weaver's uncle, Doddles Weaver, and does battle with Larry Drake and judging by Drake's performance you'd never guess he'd go on to be an award-winning actor and B-movie star.  Kelly (Hawkins) quits college to drive the big rigs and find out who killed his father.  If that premise wasn't enough then everything else should whet your appetite for this low budget, drive-in cheesefest.  It's low rent no matter how you slice it from the acting to the cornball country & western songs.  But it's also entertaining to a degree.  The humor probably isn't going to make you laugh, your heart rate won't fluctuate between the action scenes and the brief nudity but it's never boring and exists as a reasonable time killer.  

T-Men (1947)

Director: Anthony Mann

Writers: John C. Higgins, Virginia Kellogg

Composer: Paul Sawtell

Starring: Dennis O'Keefe, Mary Meade, Alfred Ryder, Wallace Ford, June Lockhart, Charles McGraw, Jane Randolph, Art Smith, Herbert Heyes, Jack Overman, John Wengraf, Jim Bannon, William Malten, Reed Hadley

More info: IMDb

Tagline: TERRIFIC... and True!

Plot: Two US Treasury agents hunt a successful counterfeiting ring.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

At first this feels like a straight forward procedural and it is but there are moments where it becomes so much more.  Some of the shot compositions are fantastic and there's one scene that had me mesmerized.  It's where Harrigan (O'Keefe) sees his undercover partner Galvani (Ryder) for the last time.  I don't want to spoil it but it's so expertly shot and utterly chilling that you could tell this movie isn't made by by-the-numbers filmmakers.  I'm very familiar with Anthony Mann's work as director and he's solid.  This flick caught me by surprise and I like it when that happens.  The performances along with everything else are good.  It's great entertainment disguised as a B-picture.  It's narrated by Reed Hadley (uncredited, too.  How does that happen when his narration is all over the picture?) who played Zorro in the wonderful serial ZORRO'S FIGHTING LEGION (1939).

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Stud (1978)

Director: Quentin Masters

Writer: Jackie Collins

Composer: Biddu

Starring: Joan Collins, Oliver Tobias, Sue Lloyd, Mark Burns, Doug Fisher, Walter Gotell, Tony Allyn, Emma Jacobs, Peter Lukas, Natalie Ogle, Constantine Gregory

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  ...satisfaction guaranteed

Plot: Fontaine Khaled is the wife of a wealthy but boring businessman. She spends his money on her nightclub, the hobo, and partying. She hires a manager, Tony, to run her club, but it is understood that his job security is dependent on him satisfying her nymphomaniac demands. Tony loses interest in Fontaine, and turns his attention to her young step daughter, who uses him to get back at Fontaine for cheating on her father.

My rating:

Will I watch it again?  No.

If you've read the plot synopsis then there's nothing to spoil here.  This mediocre drama obviously follows the titular character.  Tony (Tobias), the stud, is banging broads left and right until he bags Fontaine's (Collins) step-daughter,  who sleeps with him to get back at her step-mom whom she nicknames The Bitch.  Tony falls for the young beauty not knowing her intentions.  This is one spot where the film falters.  Sure, he tells his friend that he thinks he's in love and he's ready to settle down with just one bird.  Tony's character says the words but there are barely any further scenes that deal with this except one where he sees her again and doesn't want to leave but she's kicking his ass out and with him a dose of the truth.  Tony owns a disco club and there are too many extended scenes of people gettin' down on the floor with the pumping disco band.  On the flipside, and this is why you should see this, Joan Collins gets naked A LOT.  That was one smokin' hot broad! 

Technically the film looks good as well as the editing, acting and so on.  It's not as bad as the IMDb score suggests but it's not all that entertaining except for the nudity that will demand your attention.  It's the story that moves but without a lot of life.  I think this film would've been better served if Tony had been played by a well known actor with more charisma.  Tobias isn't bad but I can't see him winning the audience over with anything more than his above average good looks.  It would've been nice to have someone with real screen presence up there, someone the audience (and I guess I mean me when it comes down to it) is having so much fun with that the final act and ending has more weight.  The filmmakers did the right thing by having just enough classy nudity without resorting to sleaze.  I can't believe I just said that.

Macho Callahan (1970)

Director: Bernard L. Kowalski

Writers: Richard Carr, Cliff Gould

Composer: Patrick Williams

Starring: David Janssen, Jean Seberg, Lee J. Cobb, James Booth, Pedro Armendariz Jr., David Carradine, Bo Hopkins, Anne Revere, Richard Anderson, Diane Ladd, Matt Clark, Hugo Stiglitz

More info: IMDb

Tagline: David Janssen - A fugitive exploding from prison! Hunted by killers! Led by the woman who wanted him...beaten, broken, or dead!

Plot: Macho Callahan breaks out of a Confederate military prison, intent on revenge against the man responsible for his imprisonment. Unfortunately, along the way, he kills another man and that man's vengeful widow tracks down Callahan.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I'd score this lower but the first half hour is very solid, compelling, interesting and mean.  I loved that but the second half gets weird story wise.  Not long after Callahan (Janssen) violently brutalizes Alexandra (Seberg), she falls for him.  Uh, OK.  I guess I can kind of see how this could happen but considering that first half hour, it feels partially at odds with what the film wants to be.  Then there's the final third which happens pretty quick until the pair share tender words which goes on for a very long six minutes and then guess what?  There's less than two minutes to go.  Shots are fired and it's over just like that.  It doesn't work.  I mean the last two thirds don't work well with the first third of the picture.  I just didn't like the story after that first half hour.  It's like the picture's been hijacked and there's no going back.  Does anyone have a spin on this that I'm not seeing?  I'm all about movies taking chances but this on feels like a failure because of it.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Black Camel (1931)

Director: Hamilton MacFadden

Writers: Earl Derr Biggers, Hugh Stanislaus Strange, Barry Conners, Philip Klein

Starring: Warner Oland, Sally Eilers, Bela Lugosi, Dorothy Revier, Victor Varconi, Murray Kinnell, William Post Jr., Robert Young, Violet Dunn, Dwight Frye

More info: IMDb

Tagline: CHARLIE CHAN'S Latest Thriller

Plot: The unsolved murder of a Hollywood actor several years earlier and an enigmatic psychic are the keys to help Charlie solve the Honolulu stabbing death of a beautiful actress.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Congratulations.  I just watched my first Charlie Chan movie.  Only a few dozen more to get through the film series.  I'm not complaining.  I like this one enough.  Oland is wonderful as the great detective and what a treat to see Bela Lugosi in a flick released a few months after DRACULA (1931).  The pacing is nice enough so as not to waste any time but the best bits are definitely when Chan is on the screen.  He owns it.  The shit he says is often hilarious and it's easy to see how he became such a hit with audiences.  When he's absent it's just routine movie mystery stuff that was typical of early 30s pictures.  This is the second of Oland's Chan pictures with the first being classified as lost.  I'm going to try to get through these in chronological order.  According to that documentary I watched recently, the next one which is the sixth for Oland (three films followed THE BLACK CAMEL and are perceived to be lost as well), is CHARLIE CHAN IN LONDON (1934), a film that locked in what became know as the classic CC formula.

The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)

Director: Randall Wallace

Writers: Alexandre Dumas, Randall Wallace

Composer: Nick Glennie-Smith

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Gerard Depardieu, Gabriel Byrne, Anne Parillaud, Judith Godreche, Edward Atterton, Peter Sarsgaard, Hugh Laurie, David Lowe, Brigitte Boucher

More info: IMDb

Tagline: For the honor of a king. And the destiny of a country. All for one.

Plot: The cruel King Louis XIV of France has a secret twin brother who he keeps imprisoned. Can the twin be substituted for the real king?

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I hate to say it but this is the first version of this story that I've seen.  I really should hit the earlier versions.  This one, though, was better than I expected.  It was fun.  The cast does a fine job, the pacing is good and the movie looks great.  I liked it well enough but I feel like seeing it once was enough.  At the very least it's got me anxious to see some of the more popular, earlier versions going back to the Douglas Fairbanks 1929 picture.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

My Penis and I (2005)

Director: Lawrence Barraclough

Starring: Lawrence Barraclough, Cynthia Plaster Caster

More info: IMDb

Tagline: In a world where bigger is better, is size in the head or below the waist?

Plot: Lawrence Barraclough's quest to find out whether his small penis matters.

My rating:  6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

How about a drinking game?  Take a drink everytime Lawrence or anyone else says "penis" BEFORE he shows you his dick and you'll be hammered.  I swear he says that over a hundred times inside of the short 30 minutes this BBC4 documentary runs.  I think one time someone says "cock" and that's it.  I'm bringing this up because the word penis is so clinical and I live in a casual, vulgar world.  Dick's a good word and depending on the verbal situation cock and any number of synonyms would work very well like johnson, meat cigar, meat, pecker, dong, donger, weiner, sausage, wang and naughty bits...just for example.  OK, I'll get down off of that soapbox and on with the show.  What Barraclough attempts is admirable but for two things.  One, he's overreaching with such a short film (no pun intended) and, two, there's no beginning, middle and end.  He doesn't have much of an arc in his attempt to get to the bottom of why he's so obsessed with his small dick (and oh yeah, you get to see it) and how he can overcome it.  He goes to the doctor to see about enlargement, then there's a group therapy session in NYC for guys with small dicks to talk it out and break past the psychological barrier and then it's off to Chicago to see Cynthia Plaster Caster and having his pecker preserved for eternity.  There are some interesting (as well as entertaining) ideas presented but Barraclough leaves out way too much and this documentary is more of a greatest hits of a much larger film.  I say that because he comes across as almost healed from his lifetime of wounds (self-inflicted or otherwise) of having a smaller than average donger and nothing in this film suggests that he had any kind of a revelation to warrant it.  There is a follow-up to this called MY PENIS AND EVERYONE ELSE'S (2007).  Perhaps this was initially a larger film split into two parts.  Huh.  For a short film about a short subject, this review is rather long.  Is this a subliminal sign that I'm trying to compensate for something?  Look for the my latest super hero comic at a newsstand near you...Adequate Yet Satisfying Man...Up, Up and Away!!!

The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

Director: Ida Lupino

Writers: Collier Young, Ida Lupino, Robert L. Joseph

Composer: Leith Stevens

Starring: Edmond O'Brien, Frank Lovejoy, William Talman, Jose Torvay, Sam Hayes, Wendell Niles, Jean Del Val, Clark Howat, Natividad Vacio

More info: IMDb

Tagline: When was the last time you invited death into your car?

Plot: Two fishermen pick up a psychotic escaped convict who tells them that he intends to murder them when the ride is over.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

Great flick.  It's mean, hard and just plain good.  Director Lupino (her only noir as director) does an excellent job of maintaining the tension from start to finish and it's right up to the end, too. The performances are great, especially from William Talman who plays the mad dog killer, Emmett Myers.  I especially like how Emmett toyed with his two captives.  You might as well have some fun with your victims, right?  The supporting cast is great, too.  Considering the crime films I've seen from this era, this one is edgier than most and it's that edge that helps place this picture in a much better class of film.  This is a strong recommend for fans of the genre. How about that incredible poster?  I'm sure that caused a stir back then.  The movie is in the public domain so it's easy to find for free.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Border Street (1948)

Original name: Ulica Graniczna

Director: Aleksander Ford

Writers: Jan Fethke, Aleksander Ford, Ludwik Starski

Composer: Roman Palester

Starring: Mieczyslawa Cwiklinska, Jerzy Leszczynski, Wladyslaw Godik, Wladyslaw Walter, Merzy Pichelski, Tadeusz Fijewski, Jozef Munclinger, Robert Vrchota, Stefan Srodka, Eugeniusz Kruk, Jerzy Zlotnicki, Dionizy Ilczenko, Maria Broniewska

More info: IMDb

Plot:  This covers the events that led to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in which a small but heroic band of Jews, herded into a ghetto by German occupation forces, chose to resist the Nazis rather than to face deportation to Auschwitz or Treblinka.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

Talk about efficiency in character introductions!  The filmmakers did a bang up job in dropping us into the lives of a variety of people living on one street in 1930s Warsaw.  I was astonished at how well everyone is covered and memorable and there are a lot of players in this picture.  Another surprising aspect is how well the passage of time is handled.  The film begins days before the German invasion on September 1, 1939 and ends with the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in April, 1943 and there are moments where you discover a year has passed without the story being interrupted.  There's no hand holding in this film.  The performances are very good and it's a well shot, well made film.  There are few moments of brutality but they are effective when they happen.  It's even more powerful knowing that this was made a few short years away from the actual event.  That and it was filmed in Poland and by Poles where even the youngest actors in the movie would have memories of the uprising.  Much of the film takes place outside of the Ghetto and when we go inside it, the Ghetto looks authentic.  The ending is satisfying and gives hope to those who are fighting the Nazis who have begun their attack to eradicate the Ghetto of the remaining Jews, while stopping before the resistance was stopped.  The story of the Ghetto is horrifying enough but this film juxtaposes that by letting us see it through a child's eyes, being forced to grow up after very little time on this Earth.

The Wrath of God (1972)

Director: Ralph Nelson

Writers: Jack Higgins, Ralph Nelson

Composer: Lalo Schifrin

Starring: Robert Mitchum, Frank Langella, Rita Hayworth, John Colicos, Victor Buono, Ken Hutchinson, Paula Pritchett, Gregory Sierra, Frank Ramirez, Enrique Lucero

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They offered them a choice - THE FIRING SQUAD . . . or The Wrath of God

Plot: Set in the 1920s, several foreigners held by a South American military group are offered possible freedom if they accept to topple a local crazed military leader.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

I really like Robert Mitchum.  He didn't have much range but he was solid, ya know?  The roles had to fit him instead of the other way around and that's OK.  I'm not looking for Shakespeare out of this guy.  I wanted to like this film a lot more than I did.  It's still a reasonably fun ride but there's something missing and that might be in story and/or direction.  Mitchum is fun, albeit a little too relaxed, as a cigar chewin', tommy gun totin' priest that doesn't have a problem in droppin' the bad guys like flies.

That alone is worth watching the movie.  The rest of the cast is great.  Buono is channeling Sydney Greenstreet (which is probably the main reason for hiring him).  Frank Langella and his criminally good looks plays the bad guy with a little too much flare.  If anyone gets accused of overacting in this picture it's going to be him.  But I like the guy so I'll give him a little slack.  It's neat seeing a young Ken Hutchinson (I didn't recognize him at first but he's tops in my book for playing Marquet, the main bad guy in the excellent LADYHAWKE (1985)).  With such a great cast it's easier to forgive some of the film's shortcomings but overall it's lacking.  Maybe it's the pacing, maybe it's the not-as-good-as-you'd-hope-for-finale-all-things-considering or maybe it's a little too long and a little too light in tone.  I'm an edgy movie kind of guy and by the early 70s more and more movies were going in that direction.  This one plays into that vibe a little but it also feels unnecessarily obligated to stray from it long enough as not to shock the older fanbase of Mitchum and Rita Hayworth (in her final film).

Friday, August 25, 2017

Caesar the Conqueror (1962)

Original title: Giulio Cesare, Il Conquistatore delle Gallie

Director: Tanio Boccia

Writers: Gaio Giulio Cesare, Arpad DeRiso, Giovanni Scolaro

Composers: Guido Robuschi, Gian Stellari

Starring: Cameron Mitchell, Rik Battaglia, Dominique Wilms, Ivica Pajer, Raffaella Carra, Carlo Tamberlani, Cesare Fantoni, Giulio Donnini, Nerio Bernardi, Cara Calo, Piero Palermini, Bruno Tocci, Aldo Pini, Lucia Randi, Fedele Gentile, Enzo Petracca, Alberto Manetti

More info: IMDb

Plot: In 54 B.C., Julius Caesar seeks to solidify his position in Rome by putting down a rebellion in Gaul.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

In the mixed bags that is the Sword & Sandal genre of the late 50s and all throughout the 60s, this one fares pretty well.  It looks good with lots of outdoor locations, nice costumes and so on.  Mitchell does a good job and he's got the looks of a Julius Caesar.  The print I watched was dubbed in English and unfortunately it wasn't Mitchell's voice on the soundtrack.  For the most part the cast does a fine job but there are a few who overdo it in a bad way.  The action scenes don't work as well as the drama mainly because the fight choreography is clumsy like some soldiers take the hit before their opponent hits them and stuff like that.  There were, though, some great kills like an arrow through a neck and another one straight into another's forehead.  I bet kids back in '62 were flipping out about that cool shit. The music works pretty well.  I'd say this film had more money behind it than most of these Roman epics from Europe at the time. It looks like director Boccia directed a bunch of these in the 60s.  I'd recommend checking this one out for fans of the genre.  It's better than average and good looking to boot. 

Tom Thumb and Little Red Riding Hood vs. the Monsters (1962)

Original title: Caperucita y Pulgarcito contra los Monstruos

AKA: Little Red Riding Hood and the Monsters

Director: Roberto Rodriguez

Writers: Fernando Morales Ortiz, Adolfo Torres Portillo

Composer: Raul Lavista

Starring: Maria Gracia, Cesareo Quezadas 'Pulgarcito', Jose Elias Moreno, Manuel 'Loco' Valdes, Santanon, Ofelia Guilmain, Armando Gutierrez, Miguel Inclan Hijo, Alfredo de Soto, Elvira Lodi

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Now...the famous characters of the fairy tale world...together for the first time!

Plot: Caperucita, the Wolf and the Ogre are captured by the Witch Queen, accused of treason by the Vampire. Caperucita, followed by a host of old and new characters begin the adventure to rescue their friends.

My rating:

Will I watch it again?  No.

Way back when American producer K. Gordon Murray bought the U.S. for Mexican made kiddie films and had them dubbed in English, giving him the nickname of "King of the Kiddie Matinee".  This is the first one of these pictures I've seen and, as you probably would expect, it's hit and miss.  The miss is it's incredibly silly and obnoxious as it was made for, well, small children.  But the hits are worth watching this for.  The large lavish sets are fantastic.  The colors pop beautifully for this children's fairy tale.  It's like real life isn't that colorful but it's what you'd expect for a fantasy world such as this.  There's some real horror going on, too.  If this were remade today and it played to the horror element that exists in this 1962 version, you could really get some scary shit going on.  The dragon fight at the end gets a little hairy when the flames get way too close to the actors.  I wouldn't be surprised if someone got hurt.  The songs are fine.  The audio is bright and tinny so when the children are running around screaming in terror (normally that's music to my ears), it's so shrill it hurts.  It's only an hour and twenty two minutes long and I bet if you took out the boring bits you could whittle this down to a fun forty five minutes.  The whole thing is on YouTube below so watch away...

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Paperback Hero (1973)

Director: Peter Pearson

Writers: Barry Pearson, Les Rose

Composer: Ron Collier

Starring: Keir Dullea, Elizabeth Ashley, John Beck, Dayle Haddon, Franz Russell, George R. Robertson, Ted Follows, Linda Sorensen

More info: IMDb

Tagline: every woman's had one... every man's been one... once...

Plot: A hockey player in a small town begins to lose his grip on reality, and starts to believe that he is a gunslinger in the Old West.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

The plot synopsis from IMDb isn't that cut and dry.  Rick (Dullea) likes to pretend that a hundred years ago he'd be an Old West gunslinger and he has a standoff in the middle of the street with the cops at the end of the film like you've seen in Westerns but the movie lacks a few things.  I get that we're probably not supposed to like Rick.  I didn't at all.  He's an obnoxious cocky asshole who treats people horribly, especially his women.  There's no gradual shift from Rick in the beginning of the film to Rick at the end.  He essentially just says fuck it and becomes the gunslinger he fancies and cashes in, probably knowing that this will all lead to his death.  He doesn't care.  I didn't care either and I found it slow and boring.  Perhaps this has the makings of a good picture but the story has a long way to go to make it interesting as I see it.  Maybe I missed something but it took three attempts to finish it without falling asleep.

The Man Who Finally Died (1963)

Director: Quentin Lawrence

Writers: Lewis Greifer, Louis Marks

Composer: Philip Green

Starring: Stanley Baker, Georgina Ward, Peter Cushing, Mai Zetterling, Eric Portman, Niall MacGinnis, Nigel Green, Barbara Everest, Harold Scott

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The mystery of the century explodes!..An espionage hunt across sinister post-war Europe!

Plot: A mysterious call summons Joe Newman to Bavaria in search of the father he believed dead for 20 years.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I really dig Stanley Baker but this is the first of his films I've seen where I think he went too far.  He's too angry and almost all of the time.  I understand where Joe's (Baker) anger comes from and I get his frustration but he's in the red almost from the beginning of the picture.  It's a good cast and any picture with Peter Cushing is a better one because of him.  The plot reveal near the end changes Joe's (and our) perspective but it comes at a time that's past the point where I just about stopped caring.  It's an interesting picture that looks great, and I like the European setting, but the story keeps you the dark longer than feels necessary...and you don't want to be in the dark with a super pissed off Stanley Baker.  Is it worth watching?  Yes because of Peter Cushing and probably yes for Baker fans but otherwise, it's a soft recommend.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Above the Law (1988)

Director: Andrew Davis

Writers: ANdrew Davis, Steven Seagal, Steven Pressfield, Ronald Shusett

Composer: David Michael Frank

Starring: Steven Seagal, Pam Grier, Henry Silva, Ron Dean, Daniel Feraldo, Sharon Stone, Miguel Nino, Nicholas Kusenko, Joe Greco, Thalmus Rasulala, Michael Rooker, Chelcie Ross

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  He was a covert agent trained in Vietnam. He has a master 6th degree black belt in Aikido... and family in the Mafia. He's a cop with an attitude.

Plot:  A former Special Operations Vietnam vet works as a Chicago cop, and uncovers C.I.A. wrongdoing.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

It's weird because I though I saw this when it hit VHS nearly 30 years ago but watching it again, I don't recognize any of it.  Anyway, it's a better than average action crime movie but it's got issues.  For a first movie, Seagal does pretty good.  Some of the action scenes are fun but there should've been more.  The problem I have with the flick is that it drags in a few places making the hour and forty minutes feel longer.  There are a number of actors in the film that I dig and that helps but it's not enough.  I just noticed on Seagal's IMDb page that a sequel is in the works.  Well, I guess when the creative juices start to run dry you go for the easy cash grab and try to recapture what made you famous.  Speaking of which, it's really wild seeing him looking so thin in '88.  I've seen clips of his later work and he looks faaaaaaaat.  The Warner Bros. DVD set of 4 Film Favorites Steven Seagal Collection offers up the film in anamorphic widescreen with the only extras being trailers for this and six other Seagal pictures.

Sinful Davey (1969)

Director: John Huston

Writer: David Haggart

Composer: Ken Thorne

Starring: John Hurt, Pamela Franklin, Nigel Davenport, Ronald Fraser, Robert Morley, Fidelma Murphy, Maxine Audley, Fionnula Flanagan, Donal McCann

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Down with virtue! Down with the law! Up With Davey!

Plot: The humorous adventures of the notorious Scottish highwayman and thief Davey Haggart during the 1820s in Britain.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

This likable picture has a lot going for it with a great cast (led by John Hurt playing Davey with much gusto), a wonderful setting (exteriors and interiors), nice pacing and a few laughs.  I'm not sure why I wasn't won over by it.  Maybe it's that it wasn't funnier.  John Hurt really does a fine job and he brings a lot of energy to the movie.  It's worth watching just for him.  The supporting cast is good, too, and there are a few faces and names I'm familiar with.  It's always great seeing Nigel Davenport in anything.  I'd almost forgotten how much I liked him.  He's got that Robert Shaw thing going on (roguish and a solidly good actor to boot).  It could be that this picture feels more episodic in Davey's adventures (by design).  But then now that I'm thinking about it, everything happens in a reasonably narrative manner.  I think it's exactly how the filmmakers wanted's a good piece of light entertainment.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Logan's Run (1977) TV series

Main writers: D.C. Fontana, George Clayton Johnson

Composers: Laurence Rosenthal, Bruce Broughton, Jerrold Immel

Starring: Gregory Harrison, Heather Menzies-Urich, Donald Moffat, Randy Powell

More info: IMDb

Plot: In a futuristic society where reaching the age of 30 is a death sentence, a rebellious law enforcement agent goes on the run in search of Sanctuary.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I've seen LOGAN'S RUN (1976) a few times over the past forty years and each time I see it I hope that I'll dig it more than before but I don't.  It's got some great ideas but it's too much of a mixed bag to really love.  This series that debuted the following year didn't last long (14 episodes).  It's probably that I saw it in its original run because I was a 8 year old science fiction junkie by then.  I don't remember a lick of it but it's the kind of thing I would've watched.  Now that I'm finally an adult (debatable) I'm watching it with new eyes, eyes that don't want to go any further.  I watched the TV movie that kicked off the series and that's as far as I want to go.  It's OK.  Once our heroes left Dome City (several establishing shots were re-used from the film for this series) it doesn't take long before you figure out how this series was going to try to survive.  Each episode would have them encounter one group of people after another as they searched for the mythical Sanctuary City, a place where everything is lovely and people can live in peace and harmony.  It's like any number of other shows you'd find that would grow tiresome.  The budget feels low, everything shot outdoors is the all too familiar Southern California ranch landscape. the acting is adequate, the story was too easy and it's got that goofy language that Hollywood predicts you'll get when society is broken up into isolated tribes so using proper English gets replaced with something more stylized and silly.  I hoped that it would be a show that would intrigue me enough to watch it until the end (there are minor guest stars that I dig) but after slogging through the first hour and a half, I could tell it wasn't likely to get better and I didn't need another ten or so hours to tell me that.  That's a lot of crappy movies I could watch instead.  

Kill! (1971)

AKA: Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!

Director: Romain Gary

Writer: Romain Gary

Composers: Jacques Chaumont, Berto Pisano

Starring: Stephen Boyd, Jean Seberg, James Mason, Curd Jurgens, Daniel Emilfork, Mauro Parenti, Jose Maria Caffarel, Carlos Montoya, Memphis Slim

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Kill the pusher. Kill the source. Kill the contact.

Plot: Interpol investigates the freelance killings of drug and porn peddlers.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

The dialogue gets clunky sometimes.  You know the kind, "You're the best man we've got and the syndicate is gunning for you but we need you to find out who's in charge of this, the one they call The Co-ordinator."  Shit like that.  Now I just made that up which is probably better worded than what Curd Jurgens had to say but it's that kind of "where is your hideout?" silly dialogue you get in kiddie films only this one's not for the tots.  It's got some great nudity and, as the title suggests, it's loaded with recently dead mother fuckers.  The alternate title is even more appropriate.  I'm a fan of James Mason and Curd Jurgens but the star of this show in my book is Stephen Boyd.  He's off the charts insanely fun in this picture.  The only thing I can recall seeing him in was THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (1964) and BEN-HUR (1959).  Some of the shit that comes out of his mouth is priceless and he tackles the role with such complete seriousness that it's to be commendable.  I have got to check out his catalog.  He's a real hoot on this picture.  The score has that batshit insane Italian 70s thing going for it and it starts practically at the start with the bonkers fun title theme song.  When the plot slows down a little, it's still interesting and exciting.  Don't misunderstand, this is disposable entertainment but when you consider all of the elements as a whole (the cast, score, title song, high kill count, some great, unusual nudity, and a balls out wild massacre of a finale(!!!)), there's enough to like that I can easily recommend it.  It's fun.