Thursday, September 29, 2016

Crash Dive (1943)

Director: Archie Mayo

Writers: Jo Swerling, W.R. Burnett

Composer: David Buttolph

Starring: Tyrone Power, Anne Baxter, Dana Andrews, James Gleason, Dame May Whitty, Harry Morgan, Ben Carter, Fred Aldrich

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Tyrone Power -- Leading a reckless crew on the war's most daring mission! Battling death in a depth-bombed submarine! Blasting Nazis on a bold Commando raid! Finding love in precious, stolen moments! Crashing his way to unforgettable glory in...

Plot: A submarine lieutenant and his commander fall in love with the same girl.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

Woof.  This muddied WWII actioner has a little going for it and a lot against it.  The acting is fine and it's perfectly good for the era.  It's a color WWII movie which was a rare thing back then.  It might've worked better in B&W.  If I were to watch it again (which I won't), I'd adjust the picture settings so it would be in B&W.  On the bad side, there is WAY too much time spent on the romance plot and not enough with the submarine action.  What action is there is OK but the picture takes a turn for the ridiculous in the last act when the boys in the underwater can go topside to blow up a munitions dump (or something) on land.  As this was filmed during the War, there's a lot of flag-waving and patriotism bandied about.  Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't.  It's different with each person and film.  The only time I'm OK with it is when the movie is a good one.  If it's not then it's just one more thing that bugs me.  There is one more positive in this picture and that's how the sole black man, Oliver (Carter), is handled.  He's not treated as a second class citizen and his role is pivotal in at least one scene where it matters that his character exists.  Oliver isn't a strong, intelligent character who lifts his head high but rather a meek man with a good heart and intentions.  While that portrayal of his character wouldn't fly in today's society, it was a step in the right direction for 1943.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Super Seven Calling Cairo (1965)

Original title: Superseven Chiama Cairo

Director: Umberto Lenzi

Writers: Umberto Lenzi, Piero Pierotti

Composer: Angelo Francesco Lavagnino

Starring: Roger Browne, Fabienne Dali, Massimo Serato, Andrea Aureli, Dina De Santis, Antonio Gradoli, Stella Monclar, Mino Doro, Franco Castellani, Claudio Biava

More info: IMDb

Plot: Super 7 looks for a piece of a new metal hidden in a camera.

My rating:

Will I watch it again?  No.

This is the first of two pictures Browne played as super spy Martin Stevens.  The other came the following year, THE SPY WHO LOVED FLOWERS (1966).  While SUPER SEVEN doesn't fare much better, it's got its moments.  The location shooting in Cairo, Switzerland and Italy are very nice and provide some lovely scenery.  The score is cheesy as in it often sounds like it belongs in a cartoon (no joke).  The acting is OK and the dialogue sometimes silly but it's the story that's rather lame.  It's another cat-and-mouse, always on the hunt/run type of spy film with nothing of substance.  It's nowhere near the quality of the Bond films of the 60s in any way.  This Bond wannabe has Browne in the title role looking like a Bond...

and trying to be like Bond.  The think is, though, he's no Bond.  There's even a silly joke in the picture where he's flirting with a hottie telling her he's a spy and his name is James Bond.  Ugh.  HA!  This is pure middle-of-the-road spy nonsense with about the only thing going for it is the sometime scenery.  Also, I was neither bored nor entertained much so I guess that could be a little something in the plus column.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

When Worlds Collide (1951)

Director: Rudolph Mate

Writers: Sydney Boehm, Edwin Balmer, Philip Wylie

Composer: Leith Stevens

Starring: Richard Derr, Barbara Rush, Peter Hansen, John Hoyt, Larry Keating, Rachel Ames, Stephen Chase, Frank Cady, Hayden Rorke, Sandro Giglio, Kirk Alyn, Paul Frees, Stuart Whitman

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Romance! Thrills! Adventure!

Plot:  As a new star and planet hurtle toward a doomed Earth, a small group of survivalists frantically work to complete the rocket which will take them to their new home.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  I doubt it.


OK, I dug this picture but the science is sooooo bad that it's hard to ignore but I tried.  There are lot of familiar faces (and voices) and the rocket ship model is neat but this is a science fiction picture of the talky kind.  The plot is ridiculous but you have to set that aside to enjoy it.  Some of the characters do things I wouldn't have done in the same situation and there's a good deal of Christianity tossed into it (the film opens with a picture of the bible).  The ending is as ridiculous as the plot but, being made in the US in 1951, you have to expect things to work out.  But when the ship makes it to the other planet and we see nothing but mountains and snow in every direction, only to land and exit the ship to see plentiful green pastures is about stupid and there's no abouts about it.  It's not the classic I hoped for but I'm glad I finally saw it.  The Paramount DVD looks good.  The only extra is the theatrical trailer.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Chuka (1967)

Director: Gordon Douglas

Writer: Richard Jessup

Composer: Leith Stevens

Starring: Rod Taylor, Ernest Borgnine, John Mills, Luciana Paluzzi, James Whitmore, Victoria Vetri, Louis Hayward, Michael Cole, Hugh Reilly, Barry O'Hara, Joseph Sirola, Marco Lopez, Gerald York, Herlinda Del Carmen, Lucky Carson, Ford Rainey

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They called him saddle-bum...desert rat...pistolero...but where would they have been without Chuka on that bloody summer's day.

Plot: While Indians besiege a U.S. Army fort in 1876, residents of the fort a gunfighter, a stagecoach driver, two Mexican women, and a motley company of soldiers try to come to terms with their pasts.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

It seems like everyone at the fort is there because of something bad in the past.  That adds a little more depth to the story but it's also blandly handled.  Rod Taylor's a badass and his fist fight with Borgnine is fun.  Borgnine's in bastard sum bitch mode.  He excelled at that.  The picture is OK at best.  It's kind of a downer with little to get excited about or like except for some of the performances.  Mills plays the commanding officer and he's so damn bleak and brooding to the point that I don't care almost as much as he doesn't.  Once the Indians show up and fight (at night) at the end I'd all but given up.  Maybe that's what the filmmakers wanted. The Warner Bros. Archive Collection DVD presents the film with a nice anamorphic widescreen image and no extras.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Spanish Prisoner (1997)

Director: David Mamet

Writer: David Mamet

Composer: Carter Burwell

Starring: Campbell Scott, Steve Martin, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ben Gazzara, Ricky Jay, Felicity Huffman, Steven Goldstein, Jonathan Katz, Ed O'Neill, Clark Gregg, Keiko Seiko, Takeo Matsushita

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Can you really trust anyone?

Plot: An employee of a corporation with a lucrative secret process he developed is brilliantly conned out of it.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

Great flick.  If Mamet has anything to do with a picture, I'm on board.  I love that guy's work.  It's even better when it's written and directed by the guy.  It's also one of Steve Martin's rare (at least at the time) non-comedic roles.  If you like the spy/intrigue/drama stuff then you might just dig this one.  It's a great story with some great tension.  Burwell's brooding score helps.  The film has too much going for it to let the 'well isn't that a little too convenient/this wraps up a bit too nicely' ending.  The ending is fine but it's a smidgen too neatly cleaned up.  I really like the various methods Jimmy (Martin) used to get the information he needed.  Don't read too much about this before seeing it as it might be spoiled for you.  The Columbia DVD presents the film in anamorphic widescreen with the sole extra in a fullscreen trailer. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Beyond the Sea (2004)

Director: Kevin Spacey

Writers: Kevin Spacey, Lewis Colick

Composer: ???

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, John Goodman, Bob Hoskins, Brenda Blethyn, Greta Scacchi, Caroline Aaron

More info: IMDb

Tagline: BOBBY DARIN . . . in the era of cool he was the soundtrack.

Plot: The biography of 1950s pop singer Bobby Darin and his wife, movie star Sandra Dee.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

Kevin Spacey's just got it goin' on all over the place.  In this picture he directs, writes, stars, sings, dances and he probably was in charge or craft services or drove the trucks.  He's a performing tour de force.  It's got a lot of what you'd expect in any music biography but Spacey does play a little with the format so it's not stale like so many biopicks.  There's lots singing and dancing along with some conflict but you do get a sense that even at the worst of it, it's all going to be OK and that Bobby & Sandra loved each other despite the hiccups.  I'm not familiar with Darin's life but the end of the film has a title card that covers the bases on how this film took a lot of liberties.  The one thing that stood out as the best scene was at the end when Bobby is singing the last song, The Curtain Falls, to the film's nightclub audience and we get a montage of a few events that include his death, and the scene that indicates he's dead is brilliant.  The entire sequence is brilliant and beautifully handled.  Loved it.
The Lionsgate DVD presents the film in anamorphic widescreen and the extras are a 17 minute making of featurette that gives you some neat behind the scenes tidbits, a commentary track with Spacey and producer Andy Paterson and some non-anamorphic widescreen trailers for movies with no relation to this one (Madea?  Really?  If you liked BEYOND THE SEA, you'll love...?  Wow.)

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Squeeze (1977)

Director: Michael Apted

Writers: Leon Griffiths, James Tucker

Composer: David Hentschel

Starring: Stacy Keach, David Hemmings, Edward Fox, Stephen Boyd, Carol White, Freddie Starr, Hilary Gasson, Rod Beacham, Stewart Harwood, Alan Ford, Roy Marsden

More info: IMDb

Plot: A gang kidnaps a women and her daughter to extort money from her rich husband. He and her down on his luck ex-husband who's an ex cop, decide to try to deal with the kidnappers themselves.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?

Fans of Alan "Bricktop from SNATCH (2000)" Ford are going to love seeing him in his first theatrical film role.  It's a small roll but he's peppered throughout the film and he's got quite a few lines.  It's amazing what a difference of 27 years makes in a person's face.  Speaking of that, I didn't recognize Stephen Boyd (one of his last films before he died in '77).  The only thing I remember him was in BEN-HUR (1959).  The performances are strong and the story and pacing are good, too.  Keach's accent wavers all over the place from his normal American accent to Cockney or even imitating Carey Grant.  All we know is that he's been in London for a few years having once worked with Scotland Yard so he could be a US ex-pat and had assimilated the accent.  I'm getting way too deep into this but it was kind of odd hearing his accent change from one scene to another.  It didn't hurt the picture from where I'm sittin'.  It's a good movie and fans of Eurocrime should especially dig it right down to the groovy score that accompanied Eurocrime pictures.  There's a nice balance of time spent between Naboth (Keach) and the gang.  The violence and nudity are nicely spread out without an abundance (or lack of) either.  And the ending?  It's lives up to the word climax.  In the span of maybe 6 minutes the movie roars into action & tension until the credits roll.  Very nice!