Friday 13 July 2018

36 (inc. 12 refs) - Nickel Ride, Gore, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Undertaker, music, Riddle of the Sands, lost world movies, comedy 40s, Satan's Bug,

Putney Swope (1969) - Robert Downey Sr's arty something - it's not quite a  film but an angry and unlikeable and not particularly funny satire, a sort of self-aggrandising proto-Kentucky Fried Movie.

The Nickel Ride (1974)  Well shot, John Hillerman is good in it, but it's the sort of New Hollywood crime movie I never got into. The sort of film I'd like to make, but not watch. It ends kind of positively, from what I saw. Because it's by Robert Mulligan, it feels sentimental.

Ivan Vasilievich Changes Professions (1973) - Attractive if not very funny comedy - basically "what if Ivan the Terrible was in a Soviet kitchen of the 1970s"? Some funny bits, but a bit repetitive. Reliant on sped-up footage - the sign of a failing comedy.

A Feast At Midnight (1996) - Christopher Lee in a film that you try to like, but its boy's school antics reek of a tax dodge. Michael Gove proves that if it were not for politics, he could have been this generation's Ronald Lacey. It feels a little twee. Even if it were a kids' TV show, it'd be more manic.

The Undertaker And His Pals (1966) - Ted V. Mikels produced attempt at a HG Lewis imitation. But nowhere near as sensationalist. In fact, the gore seems to be an afterthought. It's only an hour, because it was edited.

The Devil's Nightmare (1971) - A typically nonsensical Italian-Belgian coproduction, Nazi count has a succubus daughter. Atmospheric, and Daniel Emilfork an interesting Devil, but very typical Eurohorror nonsense. Like a lot of these films, the soundtrack's the best thing.

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) - Prettily shot but aimless mystery, recently remade as a miniseries that vows to be clearer and explain everything, rather than be merely eighty minutes of annoying posh girls in white dresses. The trouble about a lot of Aussie films from this era - they can be slooooowww.

Agnes Browne (1999) - Based on the novels by Brendan FUCKING O'Carroll, based on the radio serial where his matriarch originated. It's spelt Brown in the godawful videos/sitcom to differentiate from this typically confused and sentimental Irish nonsense. Produced by Greg Smith, who thought he had another Confessions... on his hand, but Anjelica Huston, directing and starring makes it more of a dramedy. She is still a more convincing Dubliner than O'Carroll, despite the obvious.

It's Trad, Dad (1962 - B/W) - Music clips from both sides of the Atlantic united via a British clubland/radio framing story. Arguably the first anthology from Amicus. More of historical worth than anything.

Riddle of the Sands (1979) - Rewatch - Atmospherically shot, tonally confused adventure, intended as a family film, based on a  book by Erskine Childers Sr. (and no, his son, the one-time Irish President. Top toffery with Michael York, Simon "which one is he again?" McCorkindale and Jenny Agutter, Michael Sheard in his largest film role. However, it's not quite as fun as the 39 Steps.

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (1972)- I like Woody Allen's dummy/rattle, but he still annoys. The medieval bits remind me of the Medievalworld bits from Westworld. There seems to be this thing common from the 70s onward that black actors. I'm sure the Gene Wilding ("in farmer's parlance") sketch is something common in Ireland. There's a few jokes, i.e. the scouts, but it feels all a bit vulgar, a typical shoddy 70s comedy anthology with a better cast and production value.

The Indian Tomb/Tiger of Eschnapur (1959) - Fritz Lang's German-Indian subcontinental odyssey, rather stagnant performances from brownedup Krauts. The last twenty minutes are great, and clearly an influence on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but the rest of the two films are just not that exciting. Plus nobody really convinces as Indian, and Luciana Paluzzi in brownface looks more like Ruth Madoc.

She (1935 - B/W) - I know Vincey has to be stiff, but Randolph Scott is too old and too American, and Vincey is unlikeable. Nigel Bruce is good, and like a lot of 30s lost world adventures, the world feels stagey and not thought through. The climax sets are marvellous, and there's an interesting dance interlude (30s films still rooted to vaudeville). Nigel Bruce looks like Peter Glaze. The ending, unlike the1965 Hammer has Vincey return home with Major Holly and sparky brunette Tanya, rather than becoming immortal himself. A Razzie favourite, beloved by Harryhausen.

L'Atlantide (1932 - B/W) - GW Pabst's film, arguably the first Europudding - similar to She, but much more visually exciting. Watched the French version, Brigitte Helm in all three.

Siren of Atlantis (1949) - Nice sets, but another vehicle for the incomprehensible Maria Montez. Even Jean Pierre Aumont looks drunk, at one stage. Atlantis feels empty.

The People That Time Forgot (1977) - Of the four Amicus/Doug McClure adventures, I find Warlords of Atlantis (1978) the most fun. This takes a while to start, and is quite surprisingly downbeat (unlike the novel - it kills off characters rather than marrying them), but it looks increasingly epic - with the hordes of albino samurai. Patrick Wayne takes over as hero, while McClure does the whole haunted survivor thing. It goes into more sword and sorcery territory, but with a joy that later films don't - mainly because they don't have Thorley Walters as a mad professor with a sword.

Island of Terror (1966) - Like Gorgo (1960),  I try to have a fondness for this serviceable Peter Cushing programmer. Because it is set on an Irish island, but filmed in Black Park. Because it's basically an Irish Doctor Who story, I try to like it more than I do. But it's  interesting to have Sam Kydd as a Garda with his actual Norn Iron accent.  Half of the cast forget it is supposed to be Ireland. The trouble is that it is not vey exciting. It's a remake of Fiend Without A Face (1959 - B/W), which has lesser performances but a better monster, plus it calls Gardai police,  event he station has police written on it, but the insignia is a Garda one. The silicates, organic Daleks are interesting, but not interesting enough. This kind of horror I enjoyed as a kid, but it is very samey. It's rather  too talky for its own good,  and while the ending is fun - with the silicates infesting the island,  and Niall McGinnis leading a gang of farmers with guns, but it's an idea suited to a TV anthology. A curio as it stands, it might have had more charm if actually filmed in Ireland. Still better than Night Of The Big Heat (1967).

Charley's Aunt (1941 - B/W) - It's frenetic but the sort of Mid-Atlantic clash between Oxbridge farce and Jack Benny's quick-talking vaudeville - it kind of feels a bit dinner theatre. Or when an American star does panto. It's all very mannered, except Jack Benny, obviously. It is interesting, I suppose.

Charley's Big-Hearted Aunt (1940 - B/W) - Considerably less mannered, working-class modernised version. Felix Aylmer looks as old as he ever was. Arthur Askey much more  of a dame. Again not ribtickling, but more charming in its ramshackle nature.

The Rebel (1961) - I'm not that big a Hancock fan. The stuff about the statue is fun if a little overlong. Some jokes are fun - the hitchhiking on a railway car bit,  Features Oliver Reed doing a French accent. Plus a lot of "the funny art bits" he does aren't funny. He's just being Jackson Pollock. And it feels somewhere between a sitcom movie and a proper film - because then you have George Sanders turn up. The "hairy birds" line is fun, but the film outstays its welcome, and the suicide subplot is very odd. It feels a lot like the Morecambe and Wise films. British comedy and that sort of glamour don't mix. It's an interesting oddity, but it doesn't know what it is.

Crack In  The World (1965) - Attractive but humourless disaster, let down by tedious melodrama involving Kieron Moore, Janette "Thora Jnr" Scott and an ageing Dana Andrews, and aside from the leads, a semi-amateurish Spanish-based cast. And the confined Tanzanian (actually Spanish) settings robs up of international spectacle. Similar to When Worlds Collide (1951) - an interesting idea told slightly too prosaically. I suppose it'd fill an afternoon.

The Satan Bug (1965) - Another Dana dud. Richard Basehart is an interesting villain, but the film is a talky, uninteresting, unoriginal thriller. If it had retained the Alistair Maclean novel's original UK setting, it might have been more memorable. Only in the last five minutes do we get out of the desert. It's all a bit too humourless and cerebral - a bit Andromeda Strain.

Flight From Ashiya (1964) - Not to be confused with the more fun Escape From Zahrain (1962), also with Yul Brynner. Badly lit in some cases, the Japanese coproduction makes it feel like a kaiju movie, despite Widmark and Brynner. But it's very bitty. Some mumpsy about air rescues across Asia. One of Michael Anderson's variable films, a la his sub-History of the World Kiwi God-com Second Time Lucky (1984).

Our Man in Havana (1959 - B/W) - One thing you have to say about it is it is the most perfect document of Havana as it fell. And a supreme cast - Alec Guinness (who I can take in small doses - I'm not an Ealing fan, really), Bird's Eye, Maureen O'Hara, Rich Ralphardson AND Maurice Denham, Noel Coward, amongst others. Better than Lester's Cuba. A fun epilogue involving robots. The plot is hideously complicated, being a spy film of a certain era. Burl Ives is fun as a German, but Jo Morrow is annoying, and it seems to just meander from place to place.

The Fallen Idol (1948 - B/W) - It's a nice idea, but it's a bit stretched. It's slightly too sentimental. I know Carol Reed did good sentiment, Oliver!, the lovely A Kid For Two Farthings (1955), but still. The kid's a bit Emile Janders.

Dillinger and Capone (1995) - With the casting of a too-old Martin Sheen and F. Murray Abraham (not bulky enough, and overusing the black hair dye), and an initially sweeping theme that turns out to be a fake-out for stock jazz, and a decent "that guy"  cast, clearly intended as a prestige piece.  but blandly TV-movie like, down to using California to play various locations and use of sepia stock footage for scenes of railways. At times, it looks more like an FMV video game. There's a dodgy accented butler, and a Larry Buchanan-ish end title caption that claims Dillinger, under the name John Dalton died in 1976. A young Jeffrey Dean Morgan pops up as a tough. Better period detail than previous Corman gangster shows. Not a gangster fan, though. But an interesting folly.

TOPPER (1937  - B/W) - I'm not a fan of screwball comedies. This is decent, but despite the ghosts, not the sort of stuff that tickles me. Roland Young is good.

Ruggles of Red Gap (1935 - B/W) - Bar Blazing Saddles, I find western comedies not my cuppa. This feels interesting, but it feels like a mannered stage play. Laughton's great, but...


  1. The Hospital, Wacky Taxi, Top of the Heap, Johnny Tough, Harry and Tonto, Cat Creature, Future War 198x, Terminal City Ricochet, Frankensten's Daughter/Billy the Kid meets Dracula, Human Duplicators, the Abyss, Terror in the Mall - films that feel like grim Afterschool specials. Puppettoons - George Pal's cutesy innocence of GeorgePal, Low budget American family films of the 70s feel grittier. They feel like Play for Today or Kes, more than the equivalent CFF joint.

    Only When I Larf, Charge of the Light Brigade, All Night Long.

    Gregory's GIrl - akin to 100 minutes of STV commercial breaks c.1983. Mackenna's Gold - overblown western, Raiders-y scope, miscast. Adam West nazi film March or Die

  2. "Geef me the cobra chool!" Oh, wait, it's not that one.

    Ahem, anyway, isn't The People that Time Forgot basically Beneath the Planet of the Apes with Doug as Cheston?