Saturday, February 18, 2017

1968 - HAMMERHEAD - More Eurospy part 3

NATO's defense plans are in jeopardy.  The evil villain Hammerhead is going to steal them and sell them to the highest bidder or something.  We know that Hammerhead is evil because he has a porno collection stashed away on his magnificent yacht.  To save the day the West's top spy played by Vince Edwards (?) is called into stop him.  

This film has the usual assortment of fights, car chases and leering shots of women in tight outfits.  For some reason cute Judy Geeson has decided she has "taken a shine" to Edwards and tags along for all the action and adventure.

As with all of these films there is on location photography this time in Portugal.  The action is pretty standard stuff.  The light touch is missing and the film plods along from one action sequence to another.  The villain Hammerhead is also kind of a cut rate Goldfinger with the usual quirks and a Oddjob like henchman to show how scary he is.

About the only thing to recommend this film is watching Judy Geeson run around in lots of "mod" 60's outfits. 
 99 minutes.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

1953 - KING OF THE KHYBER RIFLES, pretty disappointing considering the talent involved

Considering all the talent involved in this film this should have been a much better picture. 

The director was old studio pro Henry King.  Tyrone Power was always worth watching.  The film was shot in CinemaScope.  The problem with this film is that for an adventure epic it is extremely boring. 

This is another one of those British Army puts down the crazy Muslims in Indian during the early 1900's I guess.  Naturally this being Hollywood, Arizona has to substitute for the Indian frontier for the location filming.

Tyrone Power is the half caste British officer who has to earn the respect of the command.  He falls in love with the General's daughter played by a way to young Terry Moore.  Well I guess you can figure where this plot if going. 

This is film is supposed to be an adventure film but it's mostly Tyrone Power romancing Terry Moore at the expense of the action aspects of the film.  Good looking production but again kind of boring film.

100 minutes.

1954 - SECRET OF THE INCAS, early version of Indiana Jones film

This film is usually cited as the inspiration for Raiders of the Lost Arc.  There certainly are a lot of very unusually close similarities. 

To begin, Harrison Ford's costume is an exact replica for Charlton Heston's outfit right down to the hat.  Both men are on a search for archeological treasure and both films have that reflected light trick in the tomb that leads to the discovery of the treasure.  There are however a few differences.

The chief difference is that Secret of the Incas has of all things several musical numbers. These sequences feature a singer names Yma Sumac who has an incredible vocal range which apparently runs about five octaves.  As interesting as these musical numbers are they do kind of bring the action to a halt at times. 

Secret of the Incas is a good adventure film with lots of on location photography in Peru and a fascinating insight into how Hollywood essentially makes the same film over and over with all due respect to Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Lucas.

 98 minutes.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

2014 - JOHN WICK, first in a series apparently

After John Wick's car is stolen and dog murdered by Russian gangsters who apparently can run amok in the United States.  Wick seeks revenge which means he shoots lots of people.

This film strikes me as a fairly mediocre action film that somehow did OK at the box office and got decent reviews, go figure.

Apparently no one remembers John Woo's classic Hong Kong films The Killer and Hard Boiled because John Wick is basically those films.  I can assure you the director of John Wick remembers those films because he definitely stages a lot of the shoot em up scenes in the style of those Woo films.

For all the beatings and blood spilling the film is curiously uninvolving.  It's hard to care about these nonexistent characters.

101 minutes.

1953 - SEMINOLE, The US Army vs Indians except in the swamps.

It's the United States Army vs the Seminole Indians fighting it out in the Florida swamps.  The director is cult filmmaker Budd Boetticher although you would find it pretty hard to believe he has a describable style based on this by the book studio production. 

Rock Hudson in one of his many Universal Studios films is the Army officer who wants to live in peace with the Seminoles.  Richard Carlson is his superior who is one of those crazy martinet officers like Henry Fonda in Fort Apache who just wants to kill all the Indians.  Anthony Quinn is the leader of the Seminoles, Barbara Hale is the love interest stuck in a silly love triangle between Quinn and Hudson.  You get the picture.  Did I mention that Lee Marvin turns up in a small part with black hair no less?

The film is a fairly sympathetic portrayal of Native Americans which was somewhat rare for a western in this time period.  The action scenes are not that bad but for the most part this is pretty standard stuff.  At least it's short.

87 minutes.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


Yet another film based on the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash a cross country race that was popular in the 1970's.  This illegal race spawned 5 movies including this one.  The Cannonball Run, The Cannonball RUN II, The Gumball Rally and Speed Zone

The film was produced by Roger Corman and directed by Paul Bartel who had filmed Death Race 2000 the previous year.  Paul Bartel was sort of a cult director who apparently wasn't entirely happy to be stuck in the car race genre. But Bartel stuck enough of his sense of humor into the story to make the film a lot of fun to watch.

From left to right Scorcese, Paul Bartel and Sylvester Stallone.

The film has a real interesting cast to put it mildly.  David Carradine, Carradne's brother Robert, Gerritt Graham, Judy Canova, Carl Gottlieb, Dick Miller and James Keach.  In addition there are lots of directors in the film.  Paul Bartel plays a role as a bad guy.  Martin Scorcese and Sylvester Stallone show up in one scene eating Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Joe Dante, Don Simpson, Roger Corman, Jonathan Kaplan and Alan Akrush all have small parts. 

Cannonball follows the Corman formula as usual, a little sex, a little action and a little social commentary.  This is a fun film and I would dare say a better one than the Burt Reynolds Cannonball films.

93 Minutes.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

1960 - THE LOVES OF HERCULES, whacky Italian Hercules movie

See the two famous love birds Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay star together in another goofy Italian Hercules movie.  Mansfield is 4 months pregnant at the time of filming so we don't get to see a lot of her famous figure.  Hargitay runs around in a short skirt for the length of the film.

See Hargitay as Hercules knock down an Iron gate with a big phoney tree which he can barely hang on to.  Watch as Hargitay does battle with the Hydra a life sized monster that can barely keep it's heads in motion much less move. Be astounded as Hargitay fights a gorilla monster with really bad teeth as is slobbers all over Mansfield. 

See the viewer try to decipher this ridiculous plot which has something to do with Mansfield's evil father killing Hercules first wife and Hargitay as Hercules almost immediately falling in love with Mansfield while his wife is barely in the ground.  It all ends with Hargitay leading some kind of revolution in the end.

See this writer trying to give this film some sort of rating is it camp or is it just plain bad?  Only the gods on Olympus will have that answer.

98 minutes.