Wednesday 25 April 2018

10 (11 inc. refs, 13 inc. Diabolik/Sphinx) + 2 telly - Dressed to Kill, Le Carre, Adamson, Bava, VIPs

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold (1965 - B/W) - Not my sort of film, beautifully shot, but a bit too dry. But interesting for me, mostly filmed in Ireland. Bernard Lee's corner shop clearly was a set in Ardmore, as it is full of Irish foodstuffs - USA Biscuits and Chef Sauce!
Rewatched Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979) - incredible cast - but it's very samey - six hours of briefing.  I prefer Smiley's People, which at least has a car chase by Remy Julienne.

Tried watching Dressed To Kill (1980) again. The  soundtrack is nice. But like most of De Palma's films, it is a Brian Clemens Thriller-type hoary old plot (with some nasty transphobic touches - although Keith Gordon's Adric-esque teen genius' joke about transforming himself is apt considering he looks like a tweedy middle-aged lesbian) with some incomprehensible giallo-esque twists and a lot of vaseline slapped on the lens to try to make Michael Caine in drag look vaguely attractive so we don't actually assume it is old Mo.

I've also been working for doing reviews of The Freshman and Hear My Song and some articles.Check em out.

Curse of King Tut's Tomb (1980) - A quite fun version of the story. A US TV movie coproduced by HTV, with added cute kid, and a sinister villain played by a browned-up Raymond Burr with no attempt at an accent, aided by Tom Baker (in brownface) and an Italian-accented Barbara Murray. The sort of fun larks horror stopped being in the 80s. Eva Marie Saint plays an American add-on, a journalist named Sarah Morrissey (not the mid-2000s Irish model) who seems to have been intended for a younger actress, knowing how the romantic subplot plays out. Better than The Awakening or Sphinx (1980). Angharad Rees is too old for Evelyn, but obviously she and Robin Ellis have chemistry from their eyes on Poldark. Pat Routledge appears at her Broadway height as a German crazy woman who calls Carter Cartman. It peters out an hour in, perhaps have been better at 75 minutes. Then, it goes a bit mental. "Why did you disturb me? My life was so peaceful and so beautiful." Burr's outfits get more ridiculous. By the end, he looks like some sort of elderly Pakistani woman.  Narration by Paul Scofield tries to convince us that fictional characters existed.

Dracula vs Frankenstein (1971) - I know it was shot on film but it looks almost like videotape. It feels like a taping of a dinner theatre show. A wheelchair-bound J. Carrol Naish and a sozzled Lon Chaney Jr. seem to performing in some carnival roadshow, Robert Powell-lookalike Zander Vorkov is less Dracula and more a headwaiter, Russ Tamblyn pops up in unused stock footage from a different film, also by Al Adamson.

Blazing Stewardesses (1975) - Another Adamson production, begins with a dedication a la Night Train To Murder. It thinks it's a film, possibly something akin to Won Ton Ton (both feature the Ritz brothers), but it isn't. Like most Adamson works, it feels like a bad stage show. Adamson might have been better as a variety TV producer.  Even Lost (1983), his Benjisploitation where it feels for once that Adamson is actually trying to make a film, and not a cinematic dinner theatre show. But there's still a threadbare amateurishness, and it looks almost to be shot on video.

Dynamite Brothers (1974) may be Adamson's best film, but it's still not good. In certain sequences, it does appear to be a generic kung fu actioner, but then it goes off point into something that again is barely a film. Even James Hong is bad in it.  Adamson was a great booker, a great persuader, and had vision, but lacked skill and cinematic language. He'd have been better off in Branson. The difference between an exploitation filmmaker and a producer of light entertainment is actually more to do with the medium. Both stem from carnival hyperbole. Some have crossed both waters (Ibanez Serrador, for one).

The Wonders of Aladdin (1961) - Donald O'Connor vehicle, a bad Italian-American vehicle with Vittorio De Sica, but directed by Henry Levin and a ghosting Mario Bava. Like most Bava films, it's rubbish, but it's nice looking rubbish, it's colourful, a sort of Beano comic backup feel. Bava's a great visualist, but apart from Diabolik (1968), which plotwise kind of works and is carried by the sheer brio (other Italian knockoffs like Argoman, Goldface, Superargo and the Three Fantastic Supermen look fun, but are mostly a chore because they descend into that very European brand of slapstick silliness because they try to be overblown cake-like capers, and yet don't have the money).  Italian exploitation is worth it for the soundtracks.
Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966) - Vincent Price is good in it, Bava's direction is breezy (more imaginative than the sub-Disney shopping cart comedy of Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine) but Franco and Ciccio are dire. Again, Euro-comedy doesn't translate.

The VIPS (1963) - That Taylor Woman-Burton nonsense, feels like it should be a comedy (i.e. Rod Taylor and Margaret Rutherford's characters) rather than a shy bonkbuster. Captures the drudgery of a waiting room.

The Wise Guys (1965) - Utterly baffling rural-set Bourvil-Lino Ventura comedy, feels more like a tragic drama. Way too overlong.

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