Saturday 15 December 2018

Mystery-drama-action-war - 38

The Street Fighter (1974) - Sonny Chiba actioner, nice, oddly chirpy atmosphere. But typical martial art, as are the sequels Return of the Street Fighter (1974 -adds WW2 flashbacks, a fight in the snow and a silly pigtailed sidekick. plus lots of neon) and the even more identikit The Streetfighter's Last Revenge (1974, with added shock ending involving an exploding car).

Golgo 13 - Kowloon Assignment (1977) - More typical Chiba. Set in Hong Kong. I'm sure some of the British characters are played by actors in whiteface and bad wigs.

China Girl (1987) - Abel Ferrara's Romeo + Juliet. Laughably unconvincing gangs not unlike the Lords of Death in Big Trouble in Little China (even James Hong pops up) ruin what could have been a sweet little romance. It feels like Ferrara's neon-licking artsploitation fetishes intruding on an Afterschool Special.

Salvador (1986) - Oliver Stone never grabs me. Plus James Woods' character comes across as such an arsehole. Not that Woods himself isn't horrible, but...

The Black Swan (1942)- Bright, breezy but it seems to have a short-term memory. Characters are interchangeable. Laird Cregar is good, but seems to forget what accent he's using.

Ground Zero (1987) -Intriguing but rather boring thriller about actual British nuclear tests in Australia that killed thousands of people, including over a hundred soldiers and at least thousands of Aborigines (who were scandalously, counted as wildlife amongst emus and kangaroos, not humans), featuring an incredibly odd performance by Donald Pleasence, playing a wheelchair-bound Northern English/Australian who uses a voice box and has to be carried about by Aborigines.

Enter The Dragon (1973) - A quarter-decent James Bond knockoff lifted by the fight choreography. Feels oddly insular.

North West Frontier (1959) - Attractive but bloated Rank epic. The fact most of the cast are stiff upper-lips, the likes of Wilfrid Hyde-White and Kenneth More doesn't help. Then again, it is a western.

Coming To America (1988) - A film I kind of love, even though I know most of it is utterly bland 80s Hollywood comedy, but the peripheral stuff, SoulGlo, Sexual Chocolate, the barbers, all that is just wonderful. Like Landis' sketch comedy mind working.

Codename Wildgeese (1984) - Lewis Collins plays a Bond-type sequestered to a bunch of mercenaries including Van Cleef, Borgnine and a dubbed Klaus Kinski as an Englishman named Charlton, who go out to  fight ex-Vietcong drugs smugglers and save some missionaries. Bar Kinski, everyone dubs themselves, but Collins sounds bored. Features a Filipino golf course. Some nice miniatures work, being a Margheriti film, and a gory priest-crucifixion, but it's utterly beneath everyone. Clearly a rushed production, judging by how much of the cast are uncredited.

Two Minute Warning (1976) - Maybe because I am Irish, but I don't get films about American football. Plus no one seems likeable, even if it's Heston or Jack Klugman AND David Janssen. The stampede is striking, but it feels much more TV movie-like than it should, and even at times like a bad De Palma imitation.

The Laughing Policeman (1973) - Derivative, dreary Walter Matthau cop movie, that feels both sunny and cold, a mixture of it being an adaptation of Sweden's super-tec Martin Beck, and its transplanted San Francisco setting. I find California as a setting itself rather uncinematic and washed-out.

The Big Red One (1980) - The extended version is overlong, but it looks gorgeous, even though at times, it;s a bit TV movie, but it was by Lorimar, so that's to be expected. Lee Marvin is solid especially when being kissed and wearing flowers in his helmet, The Irish stuff looks lovely, even though it clashes with the barren, sunny empty spaces of Israel used to double for North Africa and the rest of Europe.  Mark Hamill good, Robert Carradine a bit annoying, and some of the boys are interchangeable. Probably Fuller's best film, and may be one of the best films to ever shoot here.

The African Queen (1951) - It's well-made, but it's not an adventure movie, or it's not a typical adventure movie.  It's a romance basically set along a kind of amusement ride. It's about two people falling in love. The trouble is that it looks at times, much cheaper than it is.

Flame In The Streets (1961) - Earl Cameron is great, John Mills is great as the man who believes in equal rights for black men, but isn't quite ready for his daughter Sylvia Syms marrying immigrant Johnny Sekka, unlike his wife Brenda De Banzie, who is a convincingly horrid blue-rinse racist harridan. But it's not quite my sort of film. I'm not one for social realism.

The October Man (1947 - B/W) - Above average but still typical mystery thriller of the 40s. Not quite my thing, a bit Clemensy. John Mills is decent, as a mental patient mistaken as a murderer, when it was actually Mr. Grimsdale.
Also watched In Which We Serve (1942 - B/W) and We Dive At Dawn (1943 - B/W), the kind of war film I admire but not especially like.

Great Expectations (1946 -B/W) - I like the opening, but when Pip becomes John Mills, it loses that lovely gothic edge, and becomes generic Victoriana. Points for having black extras, though.

Oliver Twist (1948 - B/W) - Young Tony Newley is odd, at times he just looks like his older self's head on a child's body. Lean seems to forget about Oliver for most of the film. It's a well-made period drama, and there are good performances (though Guinness is a bit mired in caricature), but it's not quite my thing. It kind of wants to be Dickensian noir.

SO LONG AT THE FAIR (1950 - B/W) - Jean Simmons' brother David Tomlinson goes missing, she finds Dirk Bogarde, who should have gone missing. A Lady Vanishes do-over with a slightly underpowered ending, a romance disguised as a thriller, but lots of proto-Hammer gothic from  Tel Fisher.

Citizen Kane (1941 - B/W) - People forget how strange it is. It is basically a made for TV-style biopic AND a mockumentary. If it were made now, it'd be mundane, but in 1941, it's extraordinary. The interview segments ring a bit false, though.

The Third Man (1949 - B/W) - It's a well-made film, but Welles is barely there.And besides, not quite my thing. Joseph Cotten better as a character actor. It feels a little rote when it's him romancing.

MR. ARKADIN (1955  - b/w) - An utter mess from Welles.

Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948 - B/W) - Good performances, good setting, but it feels a bit too, hmm boysy for me, just a load of men going mad in a desert, a bit too much like a western.

The Street With No Name (1948 - B/W) - Odd noir, not my thing, despite Richard Widmark. Odd narration makes it sound like a bombastic parody. Supposedly classy but actually quite matronly scrubbers feature as eye candy.

The Steel Helmet (1951 - B/W) - I appreciate the effort, and it's well-made, but  it's cliched stuff of war comics, down to the little orphan who joins the platoon, gets killed, only to be reincarnated in the hands of Spielberg and Lucas..

13 Rue Madeleine (1947 - B/W) - James Cagney in odd noir, not my thing. Basically a documentary, spends too much time explaining stuff about Hitler like a PIF. Weird mix of locations of varying levels of conviction. Sam Jaffe is fun, but it's hard to tell what characters' nationalities are intended to be.

Mrs. Miniver (1942 - B/W) -It does tug the heartstrings, but the whole setting doesn't look British. The rose growing competition looks like it was held in the Los Angeles Arboretum. And it is quite drawn out. Teresa Wright seems to die twice.

My Name Is Julia Ross (1947 - B/W) - Atmospherically shot but pretty much Clemens-esque noir, that fails to instill a completely British atmosphere.

Lured (1947 - B/W) - Douglas Sirk serial killer in London romp, rendered baffling by the presence of Lucille Ball in the female lead opposite the likes of George Sanders and Karloff, so it ends up feeling like a bad comedy than a noir.  Confusingly, there's a character called Lucy, but Lucy doesn't play her.

Night and the City (1950 - B/W) - Peculiar Anglo-American boxing/wrestling noir, more European than American. Herbert Lom and Francis L. Sullivan are interesting, but it's a weird hodgepodge.

The Window (1949 - B/W) - No one believes that Disney brat Bobby Driscoll saw a murder. Documentary-like noir, but not a very interesting plot or execution. The remake, Cloak and Dagger (1984) with Hnery Thomas, directed by Richard Franklin is much more interesting, adding Cold War and Walter Mitty/Reggie Perrin-like fantasies, and Dabney Coleman as Jack Flack! And this doesn't have an imaginary superspy who is also an astral projection of the boy's father (in this film, Arthur Kennedy, alas not playing a superspy).

The Fat Man (1951 - B/W) - Nonsensical noir by William Castle, early lead for Rock Hudson, based on a radio spinoff of the Thin Man, now better known for the tie-in single by Fats Domino. Features famed clown Emmett Kelly, but fails to make much of its circus setting.

Casablanca (1942 - B/W) - I have to say I am more interested in the side cast than Bogart and Bergman.

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