Saturday, September 30, 2017

Cross of Iron (1977)

Director: Sam Peckinpah

Writers: Julius J. Epstein, Walter Kelley, James Hamilton, Will Heinrich

Composer: Ernest Gold

Starring: James Coburn, Maximilian Schell, James Mason, David Warner, Klaus Lowitsch, Vadim Glowna, Roger Fritz, Dieter Schidor, Senta Berger

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Power of Peckinpah Has Never Been So Real...Or So Brilliant!

Plot: A German commander places a squad in extreme danger after its Sergeant refuses to lie for him.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

"Don't rejoice in his defeat, you men.  For though the world stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again." -- Bertolt Brecht

Man, I love that quote.  Thus ends Sam Peckinpah's WWII opus.  I really dig this flick.  The cast is amazing.  It's nice seeing Mason in his role as an aging German soldier.  He's doing something different.  Then there's David Warner who's always fun to watch and I can't get enough of that guy.  James Coburn is a top tier manly actor and it was great casting to pit him against Maximilian Schell.  If you're familiar with Peckinpah movies you know that you're going to get manly men doing manly things.  He doesn't pull his punches and I'm so happy that he got the chance to make a WWII flick and not a run of the mill one at that.  You'd think, being Peckinpah, he'd crank out a pro war film but it's just the opposite.  War is hell and he knows it and wants to tell you all about it.  It's a great flick that satisfies all of your slow motion needs.

Rot (1999)

Director: Marcus Koch

Writer: Marcus Koch

Starring: Billy Scam, Tiffany Stinky, Joel D. Wynkoop, Melissa Stinky, Lyle Hagelthorne, Amy Farma, Tim Leavey, Walter Meseda, Dane Maddison, Fritz Faulhaher, Marge Andrews, Garland Hewlette, Eric Dillon, Frog, Jeff Naile, Dustin Adversary, Pig Nuts

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Sex, Drugs, Formaldehyde!

Plot: Sarah has a surprise and gruesome announcement for Muzzy... she has contracted a deadly virus called the ROT which she got by sexing a dead guy from the local funeral home, and now she has passed it along to Muzzy. Slowly the two of them begin to ROT alive, spreading the insidious, flesh-melting disease to friends and foes and any unfortunate individual that comes in contact with them. But Sarah and Muzzy's problems don't end there. The man responsible for their living death and the horrifying epidemic is Dr. Robert Olsen - a deranged scientist who used to work for the government's germ warfare research division. As the plague of rotting flesh accelerates out of control, the FBI and other secretive governmental agencies become involved, and things are about to get even messier.

My rating: 2/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

It doesn't help that this flick looks like it was filmed on a crappy VHS camcorder but that's probably precisely what the writer/director wanted.  Anything nicer wouldn't have made sense given the material.  It's amateurish.  The acting is bad in the way that you'd get your friends together to make a movie as an excuse to hang out and do something different.  Any gore or gross out scenes in this picture are all in the trailer so you only have to spend a minute to see the best of what this movie has to offer.  As far as looking filthy, this film excels in that area.  Loud, obnoxious punk rock songs are all through this and I didn't care for any of them.  There's not even any nudity.  Sigh.  Look, I digs me some homemade movies because every now and again I'll find one that's pretty good despite the no budget or low talent.  This one's not for me at all.  The Cult Movie Mania DVD presents the film in fullscreen.  The extras are plenty.  You get a new behind the scenes video (this must be an updated DVD) (25 min), the original behind the scenes video (16 min), 2 commentaries (one with Koch and Wynkoop and another with Koch and Scam), an interview with Koch (17 min), Rot Goriest Minute (4 min) and two fullscreen trailers - one for this film and for LOST FAITH.  I must have picked this up at a comic con or something and on the cheap.  The DVD is signed by Koch. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Crash (1996)

Director: David Cronenberg

Writers: J.G. Ballard, David Cronenberg

Composer: Howard Shore

Starring: James Spader, Holly Hunter, Elias Koteas, Deborah Kara Unger, Rosanna Arquette, Peter MacNeill, Yolande Julian, Cheryl Swarts, Judah Katz, Nicky Guadagni, Ronn Sarosiak, Boyd Banks, Markus Parilo, Alice Poon, John Stoneham Jr., David Cronenberg, Jordan-Patrick Marcantonio

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The most controversial film you will ever see.

Plot: After getting into a serious car accident, a TV director discovers an underground sub-culture of scarred, omnisexual car-crash victims who use car accidents and the raw sexual energy they produce to try to rejuvenate his sex life with his wife.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Everybody's got something that turns them on sexually.  I don't judge.  Car crashes are my bag but I'm not going to stop someone else from gettin' off on 'em and in this movie there are a lot of them.  Cronenberg naturally fetishises it without degrading it.  You'd have to or you'd have a different movie.  It's erotic, sexy and very casually paced.  It's probably the latter that keeps me from going 7/10.  It's a little slow but then I think it had to be.  Even though I wasn't fully engaged through the whole thing I still liked.  The ending is the only way it could've gone and I loved it.  Howard Shore provides an equally atmospheric score.  I dig Cronenberg's work and I've seen all of it up through THE FLY (1986) and CRASH marks only the second picture of his I've seen after it.  I need to remedy that.  The New Line DVD sports an anamorphic widescreen print with only one extra with the red band trailer (also anamorphic widescreen).

Framed (1975)

Director: Phil Karlson

Writers: Mort Briskin, Art Powers, Mike Misenheimer

Composer: Patrick Williams

Starring:  Joe Don Baker, Conny Van Dyke, Gabriel Dell, John Marley, Brock Peters, John Larch, Warren J. Kemmerling, Paul Mantee, Walter Brooke

More info: IMDb

Tagline: He was taken by everyone, for everything he had. All he had left was one obsession. To get even. To pay them back two for one.

Plot: A gambler kills a sheriff in self defense. But as everyone in conspiring against him, he is condemned to a long sentence in prison.

My rating:  7/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

If there's one thing you learn from watching this is you don't fuck with Joe Don Baker.  That's a fact.  This is a great drive-in revenge flick that's got some great fight scenes.  Lewis (Baker) doesn't take this being framed shit lightly.  He befriends a couple of guys in prison that end up playing a much bigger role in his life.  He gets focused, does his time and once out, it's ass-kickin' revenge time and boy does he get it.  The last act had me really concerned for Lewis.  He crosses some lines and there's no way he's going to be able to overcome the damage he's done.  Often times it's the journey but with this flick it's both the journey and the destination that makes this so much fun to watch.  Baker's co-star, Conny Van Dyke was also a real life singer songwriter so I guess that was her singing in the film.  She's very good.  She's also a major footnote in the history of Motown Records as the first white recording artist they signed.  This isn't high art but it's very entertaining.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Daughter of the Sun (1962)

Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis

Writers: David F. Friedman, Herschell Gordon Lewis

Starring: Rusty Allen, Jerome Eden, Michael Borgine, pearl Krohn, Avis Holmes, Darrin Ainsworth, Elsie Kerbin, Rockwell Morrow, Craig Maudslay Jr.

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Most Eye-filling Sight Under the Sun!

Plot: When she is discovered to be a nudist, a school teacher is called before the board of education to defend herself. A young male teacher decides to accompany her to her nudist camp to find out for himself exactly what goes on there.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Besides the gratuitous nudity, one thing I really dug about this was the light tone.  The wistful music and playful narration gives this a feeling of a travelogue or one of those 50s films you'd see in middle school class about etiquette or dating.  This picture has a certain charm that's hard to resist.  It's also got a shitload of boobs and butts.

Only the scenes at the nudist colony are in color.  The stuffy outside world with their close-minded, perverted ways are shown in B&W.  I can't say for certain but I'm willing to bet that PLEASANTVILLE (1998) owes everything to this picture.  HGL better have gotten a piece of that box office action!  The story is a simple one but it's got a beginning, middle and an end and it all ends happily for everyone.  The nudity is standard issue 60s nudist colony stuff which naturally includes volleyball, laying by the lake, etc..  At 71 minutes you're not going to get hurt watching this.  It's too bad I only had a shitty, washed out 16mm looking print to watch.  I doubt this is getting a 4k restoration anytime soon.

Never Let Go (1960)

Director: John Guillermin

Writers:  John Guillermin, Peter De Sarigny, Alun Falconer

Composer: John Barry

Starring: Richard Todd, Peter Sellers, Elizabeth Sellars, Adam Faith, Carol White, Mervyn Johns, Noel Willman, David Lodge, Peter Jones, John Bailey, Nigel Stock, John Le Mesurier

More info:  IMDb

Tagline: A new Peter Sellers - TOUGH and RUTHLESS!

Plot: A cosmetic salesman sets out to prove to himself and his wife that he is not a failure.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

So, is Peter Sellers "tough and ruthless"?  Well, I guess if you consider that people knew him as a comedic actor and that this might've been the first dramatic role they saw him in...then, yes.  But even though he's got a couple of harsh, violent moments, this picture could've used a couple more for good measure.  Then you consider this was made nearly sixty years ago and the pendulum swings back to "yes".  This being British, the performances are naturally very good.  The draw is naturally Sellers but he's surrounded by quality performers that it's easy for him to just be one of the many without sticking out and that's a good thing.  The story moves nicely and it's always engaging.  There's a big boss fight at the end that's handled very well.  The action here is filmed like it should be, with lingering medium shots to give you a full view of the fight without cheating like they do now with lots of quick, close images.  The editing during this fight was also well done and the ending that follows was nicely handled.  I don't recall seeing Richard Todd in anything else before but it turns out I've seen several of his pictures.  I've been a big fan of director Guillermin's work for some time now.  His TARZAN'S GREATEST ADVENTURE (1959) is my favorite Tarzan picture.  His catalog is one I'd like to see in its entirety.  This film is also notable for being Bond composer's first score.  It comes loaded with brass and excitement.  Check this one out.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Ugly American (1963)

Director: George Englund

Writers: William J. Lederer, Eugene Burdick, Stewart Stern

Composer: Frank Skinner

Starring: Marlon Brando, Eiji Okada, Sandra Church, Pat Hingle, Arthur Hill, Jocelyn Brando, Kukrit Pramoj, Judson Pratt, Reiko Sato, George Shibata

More info: IMDb


Plot: An intelligent, articulate scholar, Harrison MacWhite, survives a hostile Senate confirmation hearing at the hands of conservatives to become ambassador to Sarkan, a southeast Asian country where civil war threatens a tense peace. Despite his knowledge, once he's there, MacWhite sees only a dichotomy between the U.S. and Communism. He can't accept that anti-American sentiment might be a longing for self-determination and nationalism. So, he breaks from his friend Deong, a local opposition leader, ignores a foreman's advice about slowing the building of a road, and tries to muscle ahead. What price must the country and his friends pay for him to get some sense?

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

Compelling.  Brando commands respect not only on the screen from the audience but from everyone he encounters in the film...and he gets it.  Right from his entrance as he's being grilled by the Senate for his ambassadorship, MacWhite (Brando) holds his own against, what soon becomes clear, the opposition.  He's a good man, a tough and thoughtful, educated man.  His friend, Deong (played by Japanese actor Okada), has been seeing things differently.  He's in a different position than MacWhite.  Deong's fire comes from his heart, his passion; MacWhite's is cerebral and logical.  Despite their differences, these two maintain their strong friendship and make tough decisions.  There's a lot of trust, the levels of which you wouldn't get between two men such as these in their positions if they weren't good friends.  This picture is heavy on dialogue and discussion and it's very well handled by first time director Englund.  I really enjoyed it and it's nice seeing Brando still giving a shit (at least with this film).  

The UFO Incident (1975)

Director: Richard A. Colla

Writers: Hesper Anderson, Jake Justiz, John G. Fuller, S. Lee Pogostin

Composer: Billy Goldenberg

Starring: James Earl Jones, Estelle Parsons, Barnard Hughes, Dick O'Neill, Beeson Carroll, Terrence O'Connor, Jeanne Joe, Lou Wagner, Vic Perrin, Joey Stefano

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Betty and Barney were an ordinary couple out for a drive.  Now the extraordinary has happened and nothing will ever be the same again.

Plot: In the early 1960s, a married couple undergo hypnosis, which unlocks memories of a forgotten event on a lonely road. Soon they believe they were abducted by extraterrestrials.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

The performances from Jones and Parsons elevate this above the usual.  The other aspect of the TV movie that stands out is the story structure and how most of the picture is one on one hypnotherapy sessions between Dr. Simon (Hughes) and either Betty or Barney.  These moments are where Jones and Parsons have the room for some acting chops.  Outside of that there are some nice moments the two share where they feel like a real couple.  It took me a while to place where I know Bernard Hughes from and it finally hit me.  He was the old guy in TRON (1982).  There's no mistaking that distinctive voice of his. Overall this is a pretty effective alien abduction thriller but don't expect to see much alien action because there's not much there.  And don't be turned off because it's a TV movie.  This is the 70s, back when they had quality.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Daddy-O (1958)

Director: Lou Place

Writer: David Moessinger

Composer: John Williams

Starring: Dick Contino, Sandra Giles, Bruno VeSota, Gloria Victor, Ron McNeil, Tipp McClure, Sonia Torgeson, Kelly Gordon, Hank Mann, Joseph Donte

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Alive!! With the Beat and the Heat of Today's Rock-N-Roll Generation!

Plot: Phil, a part-time truck driver and singer who wears his pants far too high, meets a feisty platinum blonde who challenges him to a drag race through Griffith Park. When he is caught and loses his license, he meets up with the sketchy Frank Wooster who offers him a job singing in his new nightclub. When Phil discovers that his new job also includes drug running, he must fight to save his friends and himself.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

How the hell this has such a low score on IMDb is beyond me.  This is a fun flick.  The acting is just fine.  Look, you go into movies of this sort with certain lowered expectations.  No one is going to come out the other end of these juvenile pictures a better (or worse) person.  There's nothing to be learned and the only goal is to be entertained and this picture does just that.  Maybe after another viewing I'll raise the score a little.  The pacing moves along quickly and the only time it stops is when Phil (Contino) and his band play some rockin' tunes.  There's so much of it it's obvious that it's there for padding.  It's only about 70 minutes as it is and they gained a few with some of that new music the kids are diggin' these day (it'll never last).  The score is by none other than John Williams, his first for a feature film.  He was in his jazz phase at this point.  It'd be a few more years before you start to hear hints of what he'd become in the mid to late 70s.  This picture's got bad girls, bad dudes, car racing, rock & roll, milkshakes, the works.  I enjoyed the hell out it and you should too.

Strange Behavior (1981)

AKA: Dead Kids

Director: Michael Laughlin

Writers: Bill Condon, Michael Laughlin

Composer: Tangerine Dream

Starring: Michael Murphy, Louise Fletcher, Dan Shor, Fiona Lewis, Arthur Dignam, Dey Young, Marc McClure, Scott Brady, Charles Lane

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Cuts up parts other movies just dislocate

Plot: A scientist is experimenting with teenagers and turning them into murderers.

My rating:  6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

This little known (at least to me) Australian horror film was shot in New Zealand but set in and made to look like a small town in Illinois so it's easy to mistake this for an American picture.  It's pretty good despite being low on the kills (but then what few are here are brutal knife kills).  I guess it should be more easily classified as a thriller with horror elements.  Toss in a couple more grisly murders and this would then be an out and out slasher horror film.  The performances are good as is the direction, sparse, atmospheric score, editing and so on.  It's great seeing Charles Lane, one of the most familiar faced character actors that goes all the way back to the early 30s.  Louise Fletcher and Marc McClure were the only other actors I recognized.  The mystery as to who is killing these folks (even though we see who commits the murders) isn't solved until the last few minutes and it's not as strong of a reason as I thought it'd be.  It's still worth checking out.  There's enough to like that fans of 80s horror won't be too disappointed if any.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Cult of the Damned (1969)

Original title: Angel, Angel, Down We Go

Director: Robert Thom

Writer: Robert Thom

Composer: Fred Karger

Starring: Jennifer Jones, Jordan Christopher, Holly Near, Lou Rawls, Charles Aidman, Davey Davison, Roddy McDowall, Marty Brill, Carol Costello, Danielle Aubry

More info: IMDb

Tagline: If You're Over 30 This Is A Horror Story!

Plot: The overweight debutante daughter of the world's wealthiest couple falls in with a gang of tripped out, skydiving pseudo-reactionary pop stars, who take their beliefs of the American ideal to profoundly impossible heights.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again?  Oh, no.

Either I'm oblivious to what the hell was going on here besides what I thought was obvious or this is simply self-indulgent, idealistic hippie droppings.  If I get bored during a movie then that's when I start dipping below 5/10.  This was a bore but there were a couple of cats that got my attention and that's the great Lou Rawls and Roddy McDowall as hippies.  That novelty didn't last long.  They don't have much dialogue so they're more like hangers-on to the, a-hem, rock star.  I feel like I've seen my fair share of movies in the past year, made in the late 60s/early 70s, that have a bunch of hippie kids on a bender, tearing shit up, goofing around, basically doing harmful shit to people and things without any concern about consequences or responsibility.  That's not my scene, man!  It's a big turn off.  Maybe there are some pictures out there that have that element and actually do something with it that has meaning or really contributes to the story in at least an entertaining way.  These people are just obnoxious.  No thank you, I says.  After the first twenty minutes I just wanted to turn off, tune out and blow out.   I doubt seeing this in fullscreen instead of scope hurt the picture.  I've got a feeling I'd be saying the same thing had I just walked out of a theater.  Now if that theater were filled with hoped-up hippies thereby providing me with some entertaining atmosphere...that's something I could dig.

Sign of the Pagan (1954)

Director: Douglas Sirk

Writers: Oscar Brodney, Barre Lyndon, Oscar Brodney

Composers: Hans J. Salter, Frank Skinner

Starring: Jeff Chandler, Jack Palance, Ludmilla Tcherina, Rita Gam, Jeff Morrow, George Dolenz, Eduard Franz, Allison Hayes, Alexander Scourby, Howard Petrie, Michael Ansara, Leo Gordon, Moroni Olsen

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Against the ravaging hordes of ATTILA...stood a warrior's might and a people's faith! Against his ruthless pagan lusts...the power of a woman's love!

Plot: With the Roman Empire divided, Attila the Hun hopes to conquer. In his way are a brave centurion, a beautiful princess...and Christianity.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Jack Palance doesn't get the credit I think he deserves.  He really was a good actor stuck in a largely B-movie world.  Just look at his role in THE PROFESSIONALS (1966).  Like in that film, Palance puts depth and humanity into his characters.  Attila isn't just some blood-thirsty barbarian.  He's a human with genuine he wants to rule the world.  There's always that.  Chandler does a fine job as well.  Not everyone does.  There's the odd actor here and there that takes it just a little too far but for the most part the cast does a fine job.  There's some action but it's mostly a drama.  The outdoor scenery is sometimes deceiving as it was filmed in California.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it looks like every other flick that has California landscapes in the background.  The palace set is nice, though.  It was shocking to discover that this film is highly inaccurate.  Some of the characters existed and there was a war.  That's about it.  Attila's death in this picture is about as wrong as you can be.  Read up on it after you see this and you'll get a big laugh.  There's WAY too much emphasis put on Christianity in this picture and that's a turn off in my book.  It's unnecessarily shoehorned into the story.  Now, I don't know if Palance's take on Attila is based on any truth or if it's just his way of interjecting some humanity in the role of an actual man whom everyone knows to be a murderous barbarian but his take works for me.  The first half of the picture is stronger than the second half but it still works for me on some level despite not being a great film.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Classe Tous Risques (1960)

AKA:  The Big Risk

Director: Claude Sautet

Writers: Jose Giovanni, Claude Sautet, Pascal Jardin

Composer: Georges Delerue

Starring: Lino Ventura, Sandra Milo, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Marcel Dalio, Michel Ardan, Simone France, Michele Meritz, Stan Krol, Evelyne Ker, Betty Schneider, France Asselin

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The big crime! The big chase! Fever-pitch tension grips city! Manhunt spans a continent!

Plot: Abel Davis is a criminal, hunted in Italy. The police are closing in, so he and his pal Raymond arrange to flee back to France with Abel's wife, Thérèse, and their two young sons. Abel and Raymond commit a brazen robbery to get funds, killing two men; in the escape, more die. Abel arrives in Nice with the boys, calls his pals in Paris, and gets the brush-off. Reluctantly, they send a stranger, Eric Stark, to bring Abel to Paris, but he's getting the message he's on his own. Honor, friendship, and debt now count for little. What can Abel, a wanted man with two small children and only Stark as a friend, do? "Never give ground," he tells Eric, but how long can he hold to his code?

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

So I was in the mood for some Jean-Paul Belmondo and I came across this.  I'd swear he didn't show up until halfway through but that first half is a hell of a ride.  Abel (Ventura) isn't a likeable guy.  He's a killer with a bit of a code but he's still a killer.  He's got no problem offing cops, much less anyone who crosses him.  People die in this flick, good people, and that added much to the drama.  Back to Abel...he's a criminal through and through and there are some nice moments that kept me wondering how this guy was going to go down if he was going to get it at all.  Then the film takes a turn into revenge mode for the final act.  That was pretty cool.  The one thing didn't like was how the ending was handled.  A voice over tells us Abel's fate and then goodbye.  Really?  It felt like a cop out.  I'd love to hear the reason behind that decision.  That was my initial reaction and then, once the dust settled, I was more at ease with it.  I still have an issue with it.  Does anyone have a problem with it?  I've got my suspicions but man did it end abruptly and jarringly so.

Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972)

Original title: Il Tuo Vizio e una Stanza Chiusa e Solo io ne ho la Chiave

Director: Sergio Martino

Writers: Edgar Allan Poe, Ernesto Gastaldi, Luciano Martino, Sauro Scavolini

Composer: Bruno Nicolai

Starring: Edwige Fenech, Anita Strindberg, Luigi Pistilli, Ivan Rassimov, Angela La Vorgna, Enrica Bonaccorti, Daniela Giordano, Ermelinda De Felice, Marco Mariani, Nerina Montagnani

More info: IMDb

Plot: The decadent and alcoholic writer Oliviero (Pistilli) has Oedipus complex and is the abusive husband of the submissive Irina (Strindberg) that is frequently humiliated. They live in a dilapidated mansion that belonged to Oliviero's mother and he likes to promote decadent parties for hippies that are camped nearby the real state. Irina is scared of his cat Satan that belonged to his mother. When Oliviero's mistress and former student Fausta (Giordano) schedules an encounter with him and is found dead, he becomes the prime suspect of the local police inspector.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

With strong characters and performances (especially from Pistilli, who plays a great bastard, Fenech and Strindberg), this Giallo has a lot to offer.  Pistilli wallows in the twisted Oliviero and he's so easy to hate on.  The locations, sets, camera work, story, everything is nicely done.  The score has an old world feel to it that fits nicely with the visuals and Nicolai also has themes that mirror contemporary Italian Gialli.  It's erotic at times and there's a lot of nudity but it's not excessive.  This isn't some cheap thriller thrown together to get buts in seats.  The filmmakers went that extra mile to turn out a good, interesting, entertaining thriller that has the added bonus of being somewhat based on Edgar Allan Poe's short story, The Black Cat.  Doesn't that sound like fun?  Giallo isn't a genre I'm fond of because it's got to be good for me to like it.  Spaghetti Westerns, for example, have different elements I can enjoy even if the movie isn't good.  I dug this film and I'm hoping to have better luck like this when watching others in the genre.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Crossfire (1947)

Director: Edward Dmytryk

Writers: John Paxton, Richard Brooks

Composer: Roy Webb

Starring: Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, Gloria Grahame, Paul Kelly, Sam Levene, Jacqueline White, Steve Brodie, George Cooper, Richard Benedict, Tom Keene, William Phipps, Lex Barker, Mario Dwyer

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Sensational? No, it's dynamite!

Plot: A man is murdered, apparently by one of a group of soldiers just out of the army. But which one? And why?

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

Great flick.  Robert Ryan plays a great mean-ass bastard.  It's been said that Mitchum complained that anyone could've played his role but I dig what Mitchum brought to it.  He's so mild mannered but still he's a solid guy.  This is an expertly made flick all the way around and the noir aspect with the lighting and shadows is just marvelous.  The Warner Bros. DVD includes a couple of extras: a commentary track which includes director Dmytryk and a great featurette on the history of the film (9 min).

Bill and Coo (1948)

Director: Dean Riesner

Writers: Royal Foster, Dean Riesner, Ken Murray

Composer:  David Buttolph

Starring: Burton's Birds, Jimmy the Crow, George Burton, Elizabeth Walters, Ken Murray, Pinto Colvig

More info: IMDb

Tagline: You've never seen anything like it!

Plot: The feathered residents of Chirpendale are terrorized by an evil black crow by the name of "The Black Menace". But to the citizen's rescue comes a brave young taxi puller named Bill!

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

This movie is absolutely adorable!  The tagline doesn't lie.  It's unique, funny, fascinating and loads of fun.  What they got these birds to do is often remarkable.  And everything is funny when you've got animals dressed and acting like humans.  That's one of the laws of nature or something like that.  Proven fact!  Science is amazing!  Hahahahahaha.  Anyway, this picture is short (60 minutes), quickly paced, loaded with silly bird puns and a great sense of humor.  The only downside is that the print, while in gorgeous color, isn't that great.  I'd love to watch this again someday with a sparkling remastered print.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Young Bess (1953)

Director: George Sidney

Writers: Margaret Irwin, Jan Lustig, Arthur Wimperis

Composer: Miklos Rozsa

Starring: Jean Simmons, Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr, Charles Laughton, Kay Walsh, Guy Rolfe, Kathleen Byron, Cecil Kellaway, Rex Thompson, Robert Arthur, Leo G. Carroll, Norma Varden, Alan Napier

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A Great and Spectacular Drama!

Plot: The early life of Elizabeth I, from her childhood until her accession to the throne of England in 1558.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

You can guess by the title that this is all about Bess (Simmons).  But that doesn't mean you can't have fun.  There are some great bits of dialogue that come from her mouth.  She's got a sharp tongue, that young Bess.  There's also the dashing and equally well-spoken Thomas Seymour (Granger).  He's great, too.  And don't forget the great Charles Laughton as King Henry VIII.  Ooh, it gets nasty when Guy Rolfe shows up as Thomas' brother, Ned.  Boo!  Hiss!  Miklos Rozsa once again pulls a great score out of the ether and elevates the majesty of the film's subject.  It's by no means a happy and cheerful film (although I did chuckle a few times at some very choice dialogue and dark humor) but it is interesting.  Between the cast, music, set design, costumes, dialogue, etc., I found it a very nice distraction for a couple of hours.

Maniac (1934)

AKA: Sex Maniac

Director: Dwain Esper

Writer: Hildegarde Stadie

Starring: Bill Woods, Horace B. Carpenter, Ted Edwards, Phyllis Diller, Thea Ramsey, Jenny Dark, Marvelle Andre, Celia McCann, John P. Wade, Marian Constance Blackton, Satan the Cat

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  He menaced women with weird desires!

Plot: A former vaudevillian gifted at impersonation assists a mad scientist in reanimating corpses and soon goes mad himself.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  YES!

This isn't your ordinary B-picture from the thirties.  No siree Bob.  In the span of 50 minutes you get schooled in psychology...

artistic flares like seeing two cats fight in the basement early on only to have two grown women fight it out to the death in that same spot near the end, a mad scientist pop a cat's eye out of its socket (don't worry, the cat had a glass eye but it will freak your shit out when you see it) and then eat the eyeball, and then there's tha sax!

Holy SHIT!  The sex angle doesn't come into play until the last fifteen minutes and being how I didn't know a single thing about this picture going in, I was very pleasantly surprised.  It's such a rare thing.  This is great 1930s exploitation.  Is the acting bad?  Not really.  It's goofy at times but it's not bad.  I really don't understand some of the comments in IMDb saying this is the worst (or one of the worst) movies ever made.  It's far from it unless you've only ever watched Jean Luc Goddard flicks.  This one is short and fun.  It's worth watching for any of the scenes already mentioned but you've got to watch it for the two broads duking it out at the end.  It gets brutal.   It's true that there's no accounting for taste.  I've seen some horrible pictures and this ain't one of them, sister!  Not by a maniacal mile.