Monday, July 28, 2014

1943 - THE OUTLAW an incredible piece of crap western

Sorry no pictures of Jane Russell's large bosom which was the main reason Howard Hughes directed The Outlaw.  It was also the main selling point for the film as it turned out.

Howard Hughes was to produce and Howard Hawks signed up to direct this fantasy on the life of Billy the Kid.  Hughes and Hawks had worked together on the original Scarface so this teaming was not entirely unprecedented.  Hawks got the idea to cast unknown actors to play Billy the Kid and the woman he gets involved with Rio McDonald.  Jack Buetel and Jane Russell who had virtually no acting experience were to be coached by Hawks.  After about two weeks of shooting Hughes fired Hawks or Hawks quit the production.  Then things got kind of weird.

Howard Hughes directing?

Hughes assumed the direction of the film and started shooting and reshooting the film.  Hughes became obsessed with Russell's breasts and would have pieces of the film looped so he could watch her breasts over and over in the rushes.  The Outlaw was filmed in 1941 finally released in 1943 where it was suppressed for it's "lewd" content.  Hughes was able to use the publicity from the 1943 release and release it again in 1946 playing up the fact that it had been held up for general release in 1943 because it was a "naughty" mainstream picture.  The picture made a lot of money in 1946.

The Outlaw is a very bad film.  Jane Russell and Jack Buetel simply cannot act.  The story is basically a tease with a lot of "naughty" stuff happening off screen supposedly.  It's impossible to know what Howard Hawk's original plan for the film was because this film is such a stink bomb.  If anything The Outlaw is a very small and narrow window into the mind of Howard Hughes.

116 minutes

Saturday, July 26, 2014

1963 - CAPTAIN NEWMAN MD , an early version of MASH

Good old Gregory Peck is Captain Newman a psychiatrist treating soldiers during World War  II suffering from PTDS or what was communal called battle fatigue. Peck is such a great psychiatrist that he can spend about 5 minutes with a screwed up soldier and instantly diagnosis and cure the guy. 

Tony Curtis is a staff orderly who is one of those scrounger guys they always have in these army films.  He always has some scam going and he knows where to get stuff that Newman needs even if it isn't "by the book." Angie Dickinson is the hot nurse persuaded by Captain Newman to help the nuts in the psych ward by walking around so they can ogle her legs in a truly sexist moment of the film.

I guess you can give this film a little credit for taking on the problems of soldiers with "battle fatigue" long before it was a popular subject but everything in this film is so neat and clean and easily wrapped up.  The film was clearly shot on the Universal back lot with all the sets brightly lighted and very pretty for a psych hospital ward.  Frankly the comedy and the drama don't mix real well.  The antics of Tony Curtis and the somber Gregory Peck do not exactly make for a great screen team.

This film reminds me of MASH if you were to take MASH and have it remade by a bunch of "white bread" middle aged guys.  The film's also very long.

126 minutes.

1977 - THE WHITE BUFFALO, yup JAWS as a western.

Producer Dino De Laurentiis was never one to miss and opportunity to rip off a successful movie particularly Jaws,  bought the book The White Buffalo and had the author Richard Sale turn it into a screenplay.  Past his prime director J. Lee Thompson was signed as director and Charles Bronson got the role as Wild Bill Hickok.

The story seems to be about Hickok confronting his demons which take the form of a white buffalo in his dreams.  Hickok teams up with legendary native American Crazy Horse when it turns out the white buffalo actually exists.  The white buffalo in fact reminds me of the "land shark" sketch that the early days of Saturday Night Live used to pull out for a few cheap laughs until they finally ran that joke into the ground.

The White Buffalo buffalo was built by Carlo Rimbaldi and ran on a track on a film set.  Rimbaldi had built the giant arms for De Laurentiis version of King Kong in the 1970's.  But probably Rimbaldi was most famous for constructing ET for Steven Spielberg and the weird succubus creature in Possession.  The cast was loaded with lots of old time Hollywood people.  Clint Walker, Stuart Whitman, Slim Pickens, Kim Novak and John Carradine.

The White Buffalo is watchable but not particularly good.  It's fun to see Bronson who was always a screen presence in a film but the final battle with the buffalo on the ORCA, the fake snowy set is a little silly.

97 minutes.

Friday, July 4, 2014


Dubbed Eurospy stuff.  The print I saw was so poorly prepared some scenes slipped into German before they switched back to dubbed English very annoying but kind of funny. 

We're deep in the spy movie craze of the 1960's with this Eurospy trash featuring yet another super villain, prototypes for the Austin Power's "fembots" and the world's greatest private eye "Joe Walker" teaming up with a really ripped police captain to stop another evil mastermind from taking over the world.

The action is silly, our hero only has to kiss an evil woman to make her see the light and there are the usual spy gadgets so all is as it is supposed to be in the 1960's spy world.

Seven films were made featuring this Joe Walker private detective guy and the whole series is based on a bunch of novels by an author named Paul Alfred Mueller who wrote an amazing 620 crime novels featuring this character.

92  minutes.


This Italian Eurospy comedy thriller is one of the strangest films that ever tried to make money off of the Sean Connery/James Bond series.  O.K. Connery or whatever it's called features the regulars from the Bond series Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell.  Also showing up in this cheese fest was Daniela Bianchi who was in From Russia With Love, Adolfo "Largo" Celi and Anthony Dawson from Dr. No.

But probably the oddest actor at all is Neil Connery, Sean Connery's younger brother playing Dr Neil Connery the brother of secret agent Sean Connery although his name is never actually mentioned.  Connery is a plastic surgeon who is also an expert at some kind of yoga hypnosis, a lip reader, a championship archer and finally a skilled karate champion.  If you want to know a little more about Neil Connery, the brother of Sean Connery, frankly the pickings on the internet are rather slim.

Operation Kid Brother or whatever it's called is basically one big trope of every  James Bond film up to Thunderball.  The film zips along from one scene to another as Dr. Connery has to stop the evil Adolfo Celi from using some wacky device that will freeze together all of the world's moving parts or some such nonsense.

This film is an entertaining reminder of the insane spy movie crazy that swept the film world during the 1960's.

104 minutes

Sunday, June 29, 2014

2010 - SUPER, very bizarre super hero film.

The writer/director James Gunn's take on the ordinary citizen who decides to be a masked super hero in order to fight crime, is a very strange film.  Gunn mixes comedy, drama, violence and satire.  Gunn takes a lot of shots at Christians and has a Christian hero, in this case a short order cook who becoming a masked super hero called "The Crimson Bolt" whose ex addict wife becomes mixed up with a drug dealer.

The film kind of walks the same path as Kick Ass except the female sidekick in this film isn't a potty mouthed little girl but a half crazy comic book store employee who can't separate reality from comic book fiction.

It's hard to know what to make of this film when it shifts into a very serious tone towards the end of the film.  Gunn appears to trying to make some statement about real violence vs fictional media violence and the individual's inability to separate the two. 

However since this is a film, the storytelling gods must be served and good trumps evil in the end.  In reality this story would end in a tragic mess for everyone involved.  Unfortunately James Gunn didn't have the courage to go there.

96 minutes.

1957 - THE GROWLER STORY, another odd career moment for John Ford

Film director and navel reserve officer John Ford was asked to dramatize an incident for the US Navy.  During World War II when the Captain of the USS Growler, Howard Gillmore was wounded during an attack by a Japanese patrol boat.  Gillmore ordered the sub to dive with him on the deck in order to save the ship from being sunk by the Japanese.

Ford brought along two of his actor cronies, Ken Curtis who played the captain and Ward Bond who played a typical Ward Bond character a loud mouthed sailor named Quincannon.

Shot in color with 16mm film by a navy camera crew, this film is mostly amateur hour with occasional moments of the John Ford touch.  Ford really indulges him self with lots of sloppy sentiment about navy traditions, (marching bands, the professional of arms, corny humor etc).  The battle scenes are rather poorly filmed, it's tough to know what exactly is going on.  But you have to give the actor Ken Curtis some credit since it appears he actually laid on the submarine's deck while the ship dived.

Well at least it's short.

22 minutes