Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Harry and Walter Go to New York (1976)

Director: Mark Rydell

Writers: Don Devlin, John Byrum, Robert Kaufman

Composer: David Shire

Starring: James Caan, Elliott Gould, Michael Caine, Diane Keaton, Charles Durning, Lesley Ann Warren, Val Avery, Jack Gilford, Dennis Dugan, Carol Kane, Burt Young, Ted Cassidy, Brion James

More info: IMDb

Tagline: All the Digby-Hill-Chestnut gang need is two breaks... out of jail... into a safe.

Plot: Two hoplessly out of their class con-men attempt to pull off the largest bank heist of the l9th century. They gain the enmity of the most famous bank Robber in the world and the affection of a crusading newspaperwoman.

My rating:

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

Ugh.  Big comedies that aren't funny can be painful.  This one isn't funny but it's also not painful.  The cast does well with what they've got but this feels more suited for the likes of Abbott & Costello if it were made in the 40s.  I can see this being A LOT funnier with them thirty years earlier.  It's a film that probably looks better on paper.  I'm not sure where it went wrong (the script is the likely culprit) but it's just not fun, mildly amusing at best but not fun as it desperately wants to be.  The direction, score, editing, production values etc are great.  I'm a fan of a lot of these folks (it's got a great cast, filled with wonderful character actors) so there's no keeping me away from seeing it.  It's always great to see Ted Cassidy with some lines.  I need to see if if he did any films with a more substantial role.  He's great.  I'm glad I finally did but I'm disappointed it wasn't better than it was or at least funnier.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Search and Destroy (1979)

Director: William Fruet

Writer: Don Enright

Composers: Martin Deller, Cameron Hawkins, Ben Mink

Starring: Perry King, Don Stroud, Tisa Farrow, George Kennedy, Tony Sheer, Phil Aikin, Rummy Bishop, Daniel Buccos, Rob Garrison, John Kerry, Geza Kovacs, Bill Starr, Kirk McOll, Jong Soo Park

More inf: IMDb

Tagline: Five lives... Ten years... And a Million Tons of Thundering Suspense!

Plot: The members of a Vietnam veteran's old Army unit start turning up murdered. The police soon begin to suspect that he is in fact the killer. He knows he isn't, and must find the real killer in order to clear his name. He soon realizes, however, that the real killer is now hunting him.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I really like the premise.  It's different enough to be fun and interesting.  The score is really good, too, in that Tangerine Dream sort of way.  The fight scene with Buddy (Stroud) and The Assassin (Park) is really nice and it feels real plus you've got the cool backdrop of a different section of Niagara Falls that we're not used to seeing.  And that's another plus, the location of the falls itself.  The wooded area also provides a nice setting for the big finale as to equate to the jungles of Vietnam.  The pacing works well enough to keep from getting tired or bored.  Overall, it's a good flick and worth a look, and one that I'd never heard of...until I did.

Monday, October 24, 2016

X, Y and Zee (1972)

Original title: Zee and Co.

Director: Brian G. Hutton

Writer: Edna O'Brien

Composer: Stanley Myers

Starring: Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Caine, Susannah York, Margaret Leighton, John Standing, Mary Larkin, Michael Cashman, Gino Melvazzi

More info: IMDb

Tagline: An Absolute Ball

Plot: The venomous and amoral wife of a wealthy architect tries, any way she can, to break up the blossoming romance between her husband and his new mistress; a good-natured young widow who holds a dark past.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

For a while this gave me flashbacks to WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966) and in some ways that's justified.  They both feature a married couple who have some serious issues and a lot of bickering...and star Elizabeth Taylor.  There is more to it than that but that's the gist of what I was thinking at the time.  I really need to re-visit that exceptional film.   Anyway, this picture is a lot slower and I can see losing interest early on.  If you should see this, DEFINITELY try to stick through to the end as the final minutes deliver a lot of the power this film has.  It's a good picture despite the slow pacing.  The cast is excellent, especially Taylor.  She's wonderful.  And it's not because of this...

which I'm sure was a body double.  Caine gives  a fine performance, too.  If you don't like seeing couples fight then you don't want to see this.  That's about all these two do.  They have an unusual relationship that gets more complicated and vicious as it goes.  Zee (Taylor) becomes more of a bitch and Robert (Caine) shows more reasons why she's like that.  I'm still inclined to think that it's more her fault than his but I'd need more back story on the two before knowing for sure.  Either way, they'd only been married for five years and it's a horrible relationship.  If this sounds like your cup of tea, drink it.  But you're not getting any sugar.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Norseman (1978)

Director: Charles B. Pierce

Writer: Charles B. Pierce

Composer: Jaime Mendoza-Nava

Starring: Lee Majors, Cornel Wilde, Mel Ferrar, Jack Elam, Susie Coelho, Christopher Connolly, Jimmy Clem, Deacon Jones, Denny Miller, Fred Biletnikoff, Seamon Glass, Kathleen Freeman

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The saga of the warrior whose courage defied 1,000 years of myth and legend.

Plot: An 11th-century Viking prince sails to America to find his father, who on a previous voyage had been captured by Indians.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

As soon as you see Lee Majors in his getup, you get a hint that this might not work out so well.

As soon as you hear Lee Majors speak with his middle-American accent, you know it's not going to be a pleasant romp.

As soon as you realize that these are the only expressions Lee Majors has throughout the picture, it's going to be a long hour and a half...and it is. 

I'd swear that if I didn't see this in widescreen that this was a low budget TV movie.  The acting, editing, fight choreography (which relies heavily on slow motion) and limited setting (on or near a Florida beach) all point to a limited and probably rushed production.  It's not close to being as epic as it wants to be.  I love Lee Majors but this is such a poor choice for him that it makes me wonder why he even produced it.  Maybe since most kids back then grew up wanting to be astronauts, and he played one on TV, that he might've grown up wanting to be a viking.  This picture either didn't go as planned (honestly, I can't see how this could be better) or it's exactly what Majors & co. wanted.  

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Visit to the Underground Cities of Mars (1977)

Director: ???

Writers: Ruth Norman, Thomas Miller

Composer: ???

Starring: Ruth Norman, Thomas Miller

More info: Wikipedia

Plot: Take a psychic voyage to Mars and learn of the exciting way of life the Martians lead.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

If there are only two science fiction films released in 1977 you must see before you die it's STAR WARS & this peculiar gem.  At just under an hour, this film (made by the religious (of sorts) organization called Unarius Academy of Science) is essentially a fantastical commercial for taking a trip to Mars.  You get to know all about the spaceship that'll take you there (the dimensions, how it works and so on) as well as many aspects of the culture and civilization that exists on Mars.  Visually it's bonkers with re-enactments of ceremonies, cultural events and whatnot.  There are models, drawings and other effects to help bring this to a reality.  It's a fun, well thought out piece of sci-fi that's to be taken seriously.  Seriously.  Check out the amazing documentary called CHILDREN OF THE STARS (2012) and then watch this.  It's nuts. How nuts?  The following ends the picture: The preceding film was an actual psychic visitation experienced and written by Uriel (Ruth Norman) and Cosmon (Thomas Miller).  'Nuff said.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Danish & Blue (1970)

Director: Zoltan G. Spencer

Writer: ???

Composer: ???

Starring: William Howard, Suzanne Fields, Erika, Ron Darby, John Dullaghan, Linda Vroom

More info: IMDb

Plot: A shy, young American man vacations in Denmark where he meets an exotic dancer.  Over the course of his stay he experiences his sexual awakening, banging practically every chick he meets.  When his vacation ends, he's fully ready to conquer the US of A.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Watch the trailer, add A LOT of gratuitous nudity...

...and there's your movie.  It's about an hour of softcore porn with an abundance of boobs, dicks and pubes.  Johnny narrates his story with the conviction of a bad porn actor (that's right, as opposed to a good one).  If you're looking for something to add to the ole spank bank, keep looking.  It would have more value if it were hardcore but alas.  Boobs can only do so much.  I guess I need more to be entertained.  What makes it remotely humorous is the fake-documentary style it's filmed in.  This was released by SWV (Something Weird Video) which means the hour's worth of sex trailers after the film are a lot more entertaining than the accompanying feature.  I'd give those an 8 out of 10 if I were to score them.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Maltese Falcon (1931)

AKA: Dangerous Female

Director: Roy Del Ruth

Writers: Dashiell Hammett, Maude Fulton, Brown Holmes

Composer: ???

Starring: Bebe Daniels, Ricardo Cortez, Dudley Digges, Una Merkel, Robert Elliott, Thelma Todd, Otto Matieson, Walter Long, Dwight Frye, J. Farrell MacDonald

More info:  IMDb

Plot: A lovely dame with dangerous lies employs the services of a private detective, who is quickly caught up in the mystery and intrigue of a statuette known as the Maltese Falcon.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I'm such a huge fan of THE MALTESE FALCON (1941), and I've seen it many times, that there's no way I'm passing this up.  Now I just need to see the first filmed version of Hammett's story, SATAN WAS A LADY (1936) with Bette Davis.  After seeing the '41 film a few times, it's hard not to think of it when watching this one.  It is superior in every way to the '31 version.  Right off the bat I was turned off by Cartez's take on Sam Spade.  He's more of an eye-rolling wise ass.  It could've been played, and would've been more fun if it were played, by comedian Eddie Cantor.  It's hard not to mention the lack of music, which hurts the picture, but it's understandable as this was the norm in the early days of the talkies.  The lack of music does make the picture drag more than it would with it.  I found it fun and neat to see similarities between this and the '41 picture outside of the story.  Things like the casting of Gutman and Cairo.  Even Gutman's hotel room looks like it was re-used for the '41 film.  It's a great story and it does entertain.  Any fans of the '41 film would be amused by this one.  This one goes beyond the ending of '41 with a scene in prison between Sam and that sweet 'you know who'.  People complain about remakes constantly.  I used to be one of them many years ago until I stopped caring and accepted it.  Naturally it's out of my control so why bother burning calories bitching about Hollywood's seemingly lack of original ideas.  The '41 Bogart version of the film was the second remake of the story in ten years and it's also considered one of the all time great films, too.  I'm surprised it hasn't been remade a third time.  I should just wait a couple of more years to eat my words.