Saturday, July 15, 2017

1940 - THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT, typical Warner studios movie

This film about independent truck drivers is actually half of a really good action drama and half a ridiculously turgid soap opera plot towards the end.  George Raft and 4th billed Humphrey Bogart are brothers who are trying to establish themselves as independent trucks.

The first half of the movie has all of the good stuff, lots of snappy dialog as Raft flirts with Ann Sheridan and some good driving stuff courtesy of director Raoul Walsh.  Unfortunately things come to a grinding halt when Raft gets involved with Ida Lupino the wife of The trucking line they eventually end up working for.

Lupino has the hots for Raft and she is so in love with him that it drives her to insanity in an incredibly improbable but entertaining way.  In fact Lupino is so nuts that it almost redeems the last half of the film.

Since this is a Warner Brother's film the production values are good and the film does move along at a fast clip  the film is a brisk hour and a half.

95 minutes. 

1962 - KING KONG VS GODZILLA - Toho's monster mash

I suppose it was inevitable that Toho Studio's would get their hands on the King Kong character and have him face off against their monster Godzilla.  Sure enough somebody got stuffed into a monkey suit and squared off against the guy stuffed into the Godzilla suit

This is not a very good film but it is a rather entertaining one.  As usual if you are a lover of toys and little miniatures Toho studios exceeds at creating this stuff.  It's almost too bad that the monsters have to stomp around and destroy these beautifully detailed models.  It really was a different time in the world of special effects.   

The film was directed as usual by Ishiro Honda a good Toho company man apparently. 

This version of King Kong Vs Godzilla has additional scenes added on by some American producer who bought the rights to this film.  The additional scenes mostly consist of some actor pretending to be a news anchor and rehashing scenes from the movie.  They are kind of unnecessary and interrupt the flow of the film.

97 minutes

Thursday, July 6, 2017

1966 - ONE MILLION YEARS BC, the dinosaurs and bikini epic

Hammer Studios remake of the rather shoddy original film from the 1940's is an adolescent male fantasy.

The film has some of Ray Harryhausen's best animation work with some great monsters.

The film also was a breakout part for an ungrateful Raquel Welch who apparently didn't want to have anything to do with the film.  Well she still looks great with her cave girl false eyelashes and makeup job.

The film was patronized by the critics when it was released but it is an entertaining "B" movie adventure film.

100 minutes.

1971 - STRAW DOGS, a violent mess of a film

Sam Peckinpah's film is usually called controversial.  However so much time has passed since the film was released and film violence has seen the bar raised to new levels about the only thing controversial about this film is the rather shoddy story structure.  I still wouldn't let the kids watch this film if you are looking for a fun family night at the movies.

Dustin Hoffman plays the wimp college professor living in Cornwall England with his little too sexy for her own good wife played by Susan George who specialized in these trampy parts.  After lots of what can only be called sexual harassment leading too non consensual sex (maybe) the film hits its climax with a violent attack on Hoffman's home by a bunch of the locals.  The point of this all appears to be that Hoffman discovers his ability to kill while defending his home.

For a guy who started his career as a writer and who took a writer's credit on this film.  The story structure is really a mess.  Hoffman's character is a very unpleasant guy so you can't work up much sympathy for him.  Susan George has the truly thankless role of being the tease who starts all the trouble.  Peckinpah is apparently trying to make some point about violence and sex but what?  Being a naughty girl can get you in trouble?

Even as a director this is a disappointing film.  There is none of his famous slow motion violence and the Cornish countryside is certainly not filmed to exploit it's scenery.  But who am I to say this film is considered a classic.

117 minutes.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


All this western has going for it is the star power of Clark Gable because this is a fairly drab film.
Gable is a con man who shows up at a ranch run by 4 women and their battle axe of a mother in law in search of some buried gold.  Gable charms each of the woman in his search for the gold and that's about it for a story.

I suppose the idea was base the film around Gable's star power but approach probably called for a director who could bring out the personalities of the actors.  The director Raoul Walsh was probably not the ideal choice in this case.

The film was shot in Cinemascope which was probably not the best choice for an intimate chamber piece of a story.

86 minutes.

2017 - WONDER WOMAN, fell for the hype again.

Without a hair our of place Wonder Woman takes on the evil Germans during World War I in this way too long superhero film,

A lot has been made about the fact that the film stars a woman and was directed by a woman.   All this goes to prove is that women can make these boring cookie cutter superhero movies the same as any male director.

I'm surprised this film got such good reviews because I've already seen this movie several times before right down to the overblown action scenes.

When you finally get down to it I suppose Wonder Woman is as good a piece of junk as anything else in the theater this summer.

141 minutes.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

1947 - A DOUBLE LIFE, the kind of stuff they give awards out for.

A famous actor goes nuts while appearing in Othello and can't separate reality from his performance in the play.

Ronald Coleman a popular actor during the 1930's and 40's with a melodious voice is the actor.  The script was by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin so the theatrical backgrounds are well established.  The film was well directed by George Cukor who was known for getting good performances out of actors. 

The problem with this film is that it is just plain dumb. Coleman rolls his eyes and breaks out into a sweat as he descends into madness.  The fact that no one seems to notice he is off his rocker until about the last 20 minutes of the film is really ridiculous.

This is the kind of stuff people win Academy Awards for.  Lots of hysterics from the leading man.  A musical score that borders on the melodramatic from Miklos Rosza and of course a death scene to make sure everyone in the audience knows what great acting they are watching.

104 minutes.