Friday 29 March 2019

Drama - including stuff mainly I got in a bulk buy. 50

Dandy Dick (1935 - B/W) - Not one of Will Hay's best. The niche was not yet carved.
See also Those Were The Days (1934  - B/W) which features blackface and John Mills age 26 plaiyng 20 playing 15.

The Lady Eve (1941 - B/W) - Barbara Stanwyck clearly enjoys myself, but I never warm to Preston Sturges. Maybe because the world he stages his comedies in I never get interested in.

My Learned Friend (1943 - B/W) - It's interesting rather than funny. Will Hay is in a more serious role, it feels more like later Ealing films, both comedy and drama. Claude Hulbert is annoying. But there's two good setpieces - the panto scene and the BBC report/Big Ben scene.

Dick Barton - Special Agent (1948 - B/W) - Not very action-able Hammer spinoff from the radio show. Not very special. Dick Barton Strikes Back (1949 - B/W) - Jimmy O'Dea is in this somewhere. So Iwatched it on Patrick's Day. This is better, if only for the climax - having Sebastian Cabot (a less distinguished presence here than in his US years) turn Blackpool Tower into a conductor for a death ray. It is still quite a dowdy adventure. Dick Barton at Bay (1950 - B/W) is less good, despite young Macnee.

The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950 - B/W) - I've already mentioned my distaste for the St. Trinian's series. This is a sort of prototype for the series, made by Launder and Gilliatt, with Alastair Sim as the boys' school headmaster and thorn in the side to Margaret Rutherford's girls' school headmistress. It doesn't really work - the mix of genteel humour and schoolkid shambolics. Rutherford can be a bit overbearing at times.

O Henry's Full House (1952 - B/W) - All star sentiment, a US answer to the Somerset Maugham anthologies. Youtubed.

Five Fingers (1952 - B/W) - Youtubed but as much as I could. Somehow, I'm not excited by this noirish proto-Bond with James Mason giving good  mania, but maybe it's my headache. Spawned a TV series, that unusually for a US series, episodes of which were released individually as second features in Britain.

Blood Alley (1955) - Desperate John Wayne voyage of Hong Kong, has characters who are supposed to be Chinese but aren't even wearing enough makeup to convince as even yellowfaced.
Ditto The Sea Chase (1955) - where Wayne plays a Hitler-hating Nazi,despite fake London and Australia, the locations never register.

King of Kings (1961) - The biblical epic as western.

The Victors (1963 - B/W) - Shot in gorgeous black and white, but still a slog.  The sort of epic where Tutte Lemkow is billed over Alf Kjellin. Padded out with newsreels from the time that have little to do with the plot. Has both young Peter Fonda and Jim Mitchum in the era when they were interchangeable.

Spencer's Mountain (1963) - Basically the proto-proto-pilot for the Waltons.

The 7th Dawn (1964 ) - Dull Lewis Gilbert-directed William Holden vehicle, has Capucine in walnut polish so awful it makes one almost nostalgic for the days of rubbish yellowface.

Victim Five (1964) - Early Harry Alan Towers venture in South Africa. Typical matinee folderol, surprisingly bloody, some unfortunate racial missteps including lots of usage of words like coloured, and a blackfaced minstrel carnival.

The Singing Nun (1965) - A dated relic that has whole action scenes played against back projection second unit of Belgium. The MGM lot looks so battered, as Belgium, one expects Jack Cassidy to come out with a mace. Ricardo Montalban plays a "European" priest, clearly some shine on his face to make him paler, or something. Belgium looks at times more like Mexico. Katharine Ross plays an innocent teenager, like most of the characters,a Belgian with an American accent, who interacts with actual Americans.
How Sweet It Is (1968) - A more tragically hip Debbie Reynolds comedy. One of those annoying "get down wiva yoof" films.

Death Is A Woman (1966) - Extremely ITC travelogue, a vehicle for browned-up Aussie pop star/Carry On Camping support/Rentabrit in US TV, Trisha/Patsy Ann Noble. Featuring Anita Harris as herself.

What Did You Do In The War, Daddy? (1966) - Strange, not wholly successful backlot-bound Italy-se war comedy with James Coburn. Blake Edwards doesn't know waht to do with the tone. It's clearly somewhat autobiographical. Though Dick Shawn in drag (Edwards seemed to be fascinated by cross-dressing - hmm, I wonder did he identify as not-quite-cis) is a dry run for Shawn's similarly fag-smoking femme turn in Angel.

Five Golden Dragons (1967) - Boring Harry Alan Towers travelogue with an array of ageing guest stars wandering about Hong Kong, most in golden masks. Director Jeremy Summers ended up doing Emmerdale. Presumably intended as a third Sanders film with Richard Todd, but instead this Edgar Wallace adap uses Bob "I'm not Dana Andrews" Cummings.

Beach Red (1967)  Cornel Wilde passion project, a childish, shambolic, abstract WW2 movie that is seemingly set in the present.

Ice Station Zebra (1968) - It actually merges the Scottish second unit and the MGM lot very well, but I find it a slog.

5 Man Army (1969) - Despite Eastern influences and Peter Graves playing Jim Phelps as a cowboy, a typical Italian western bolognese.

More (1969) - Barbet Schroeder hippie nonsense about people lounging  to Pink Floyd.

Hornet's Nest (1970) - Grim, depressing Rock Hudson war movie, about a GI who teaches some Italian youths revenge in WW2. Mark Colleano's performance as a hammy, petulant teen is one of the problems. But it's a typical "youth message" film.

El Condor (1970) - Larry Cohen and John Guillermin western, not very good, but interesting, though the Aztec gold angle is lost within a runaround about bullfighters. Jim Brown billed over Lee Van Cleef.

High Crime (1973) - Typical Castellari-Nero Eurocrime. 

From Noon Till Three (1973) - Ludicrous and not very good romantic comedy for Bronson and Ireland. Self indulgent, almost a two hander. Bizarre interlude full of stock footage where French chefs in Paris and gondoliers in Venice read the book Ireland has written. Bronson puts on a beard and glasses, that makes him look like Charles Manson's faux-intellectual  idiot uncle. Strange, downbeat ending has Bronson do an Oscar Pistorius on Ireland.

Assassination (1986) - Ludicrous but entertaining conspiracy thriller with Charles Bronson protecting First Lady Jill Ireland from a nutter who is actually the President. Has an interesting twist in a Asian female sidekick for Bronson, and Peter Hunt at least tries in the director's chair.

That'll Be The Day (1973) - An interesting picture of an era, or a rather the 70s idea of the 50s/early 60s. Not quite my thing. 

 Ransom (1974) - Odd little Sean Connery film. James Maxwell third billed behind McShane. Feels very TV. Thinks Scandinavia is a country.

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974) - Chase film, mixing car chases with the "bunch of eejits on a road trip". Are we supposed to be glad they get wiped out in an epic train accident/crash....

The Midnight Man (1974) - Dreary rural neo-noir with Burt Lancaster. Youtubed.

WW And The Dixie Dancekings (1975) - Alienating country and western nonsense with Burt Reynolds and his pals. Youtubed.

Not Now, Comrade (1976)- A weird hybrid. A bunch of sitcom stars directed by sitcom director Harold Snoad (a rare film credit) in a Ray Cooney farce. Theme by Don Estelle, who appears with Windsor Davies. The trouble is it's extremely stagey, despite extensive film inserts, and this kind of farce always just seems to be lots of running about. It feels like being in an empty provincial theatre. And it's shot in a very strange multi-camera film system. Also weird to see Lewis Fiander camping it up as a Soviet ballet ace the same year as his masterful turn in Who Could Kill A Child? Richard Marner and Michael Sharvell play Russians. Leslie Phillips cast somewhat against type as an ageing naval man and father of Michele Dotrice. 

The Gauntlet (1977) - One of Clint's weakest films. A chase/odd couple film like the above.

Bear Island (1979) - The ultimate Canadian tax shelter epic. Cold and bland, despite ACTION!

When Time Ran Out (1980) - Irwin Allen's style was out. The effects look like Supermarionation. The research facility even looks like Tracy Island. Edward Albert is less convincing as a Polynesian than Emma Stone in Aloha. The storylines are mostly old people moaning. Ernest Borgnine plays an ageing cop named Tom Conti chasing Red Buttons, while Burgess Meredith is a supposedly Hispanic circus act. Pat Morita does a silly accent, because apparently that's what he really liked doing as an actor. The climax is twenty minutes over a bridge.

High Risk (1981) - Bland, nothingy action comedy set in a seemingly empty Central America, despite an all-star cast - Brolin, Quinn, Borgnine, Coburn, Lindsay Wagner, Cleavon Little, Bruce Davison.

I, The Jury (1981) - RIP Larry Cohen. He was removed off this attempt to turn Mike Hammer into a sort of urban Bond rival. The Bill Conti soundtrack is wonderful if a bit game show-y. Didn't expect it to go all Le Carre. Then, it turns into a softcore comedy. I can definitely see him and replacement director Richard Heffron going for a sort of "Bond of the streets" vibe. Gave up after an hour because it's quite sleazy, and I'm not one for sleazy detective thrillers. Had to watch it again.
Then, on a Mike Hammer whim, gave  Kiss Me Deadly (1955 - B/W) a try - It's a typical unlikeable noir until the ending, which redeems the film because it almost suggests the age of the noir is ending. "This not what folk want for low budget entertainment. This is!"
Cohen later made Deadly Ilusion (1987), with Billy Dee Williams as the Hammer manque Hamberger, which is even worse, feeling more like a Fred Williamson vanity project.   Youtubed.

The Escape Artist (1982) - When I first saw this film as a teen, it really spoke to me. Now, it feels to me unfinished. Griffin O'Neal is a rather dislikeable little oik. The whole stuff with Raul Julia kind of drags the film away from where it should be. The stuff with Jackie Coogan, Joan Hackett, Gabriel Dell and E.G. Daily works. It's sweet but it's messy. And I can see why it flopped. Zoetrope clearly wanted another Black Stallion, down to the cinematographer of that, Caleb Deschanel directing here. And though this film looks good in the neon, it doesn't look as beautiful as the Black Stallion, a film which I think may be one of the most gorgeous films ever shot. If this had been made c.the same time, with Paul Daniels as the uncle, Dexter Fletcher as the boy, and I don't know, Alfred Molina as the mayor's son and a young Peter Chelsom directing, and set it in Blackpool, it might have worked.

Firewalker (1986) - Chuck Norris and Louis Gossett do Raiders/Ishtar in depressing, confused piece of supposedly comedic but quite grim nonsense. John Rhys-Davies does one of his turns in ripoffs of films he starred in in the first place. Chuck Norris is like a cartoon dog who advertises beer.

Starknight (1986) - Harvey Keitel and Klaus Kinski in this good-looking but relatively dull sci-fi/fantasy hybrid. The dragon is a UFO. Youtubed.

Murphy's Law (1986) - Cannon's riposte to 48 Hours. Except with Bronson instead of Nolte and the voice of Disney's PepperAnn, Kathleen Wilhoite as a juvenile runaway named Bella with a disconcerting resemblance to Irish comedienne Katherine Lynch. Angel Tompkins as the love interest is basically in the same mode as her "First Lady of the Night" character in Amazon Women on the Moon.  Very much rote Bronson, despite the sidekick and villains being female.

Barton Fink (1991) - I admire the style of the Coens, but not their substance.

La Gran Aventura Mortadelo Y Filemon (2004) - An almost Mouse Hunt-ish adaptation of the popular Spanish comic. Proves that when with a genuine comic book to adapt, European filmmakers can run riot. My dad used to buy me the source material when in Spain.  Dominique Pinon's appearance is one of a few influences from Jeunet and Caro, but this is nowhere near as self-obsessed. Has a Spanish Jeanette Charles impersonator. My kind of comedy. And a Roger Miller-soundtracked miming bit. Has elements of the Phynx.

I've realised I kind of need to stop watching films on youtube, because I admit because of problems involving bandwidth, problems with maintaining attention on a crappy screen, I often skip using the ten-twelve second parser on youtube, then flicking every ten seconds clip to clip, waiting for a moment to stick with. If the film makes enough of an impression, I'll buy it, But I realise this is flawed. Even if you skip five seconds, you miss stuff. I've watched a good seventy percent of films I've reviewed like this. Also, a lot of exploitation films suit this, but not everything.

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