Tuesday 30 April 2019


Tabu (1931 -B/W)  - Somewhat overtly melodramatic South Seas docudrama from Murnau.

M (1931 - B/W) - Peter Lorre is allowed to be ferocious in a way Hollywood never let him be. He's not a cuddly weirdo here.

The Death Kiss  (1932 - B/W) - Slow moving, inconsequential murder quickie, reuniting David Manners and Bela Lugosi from Dracula. Set in a film studio, always a sign of a low budget. Youtubed.

The Impassive Footman (1932 - B/W) -  Basil Dean directs for Ealing a stolid,unenjoyably overacted cruise-set crime quickie written byJohn Farrow before he married an ape-woman from Roscommon and fathered the Embarrassing Hell-Queen  of Laragh.

The Thin Man (1934 - B/W) - I can see its appeal, but the comedy of manners overtakes the mystery. Too light for its own good.

Lorna Doone (1935 - B/W) - I dislike John Loder, but he's in this primitive but somewhat historically interesting Basil Dean piece. Star Victoria Hopper, interviewed in Matthew Sweet's excellent chronicle Shepperton Babylon has her own studio logo-like credit.

Death Drives Through (1935 - B/W) - This seemingly undistinguished Ealing/Basil Dean  racing drama starring future US TV director Robert Douglas would just be another forgotten  quota quickie,though directed by US B-movie specialist Edmund L. Cahn, but what's this... "Based on a story by... John Huston"?!? It does have  a a plane, but that's about it.

The Phantom Light (1935- B/W) - Lighthouse-set quotaquickie by Michael Powell. Goes quite dark, which is odd,because the tone feels like a comedy without jokes. Youtubed.

Squibs  (1935 - B/W)- Again with Gordon Harker, plus  a  young Stanley Holloway,  a baffling and irritatingly plucky musical saga of an irritatingly plucky propah Cockernee flowah gel. Youtubed.

Charlie Chan at the Circus (1936) - Typical Chan mystery. Has Keye Luke in white-drag.
Ditto Charlie Chan at the Olympics (1937 - B/W)-  which has barely any Olympics.

In Old Chicago (1937 - B/W) - Not actually a disaster until the end, otherwise a typical 30s musical. Why is Rondo Hatton in this?

You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939 - B/W) - I must say I find W.C.Fields an acquired taste. But the stuff with Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd  is really well done. A  pony-riding dummy is one interesting sight - like Bernie Clifton  in reverse. But it feels kind of loose and plotless. Charlie dons  blackface. But dummies are their own race, aren't they? Definitely a  discovery.
Never Give A Sucker An Even Break (1941  - B//W) - W.C. Fields in a Hollywood satire with wearing musical numbers, though it eventually picks up towards the end with a trip to one of those fictional Eastern European countries common in comedies of the era.   Margaret  Dumont    and   a  gorilla  pop  up.
Here  We  Go  Again (1942 - B/W) - Adaptation of Fibber  Mcgee radio series, has Edgar Bergen's dummies shoehorned in, and they provide the worthwhile bits. Has Charlie flirting with Girl Guides. Is that legal?    Has   a  weird fantastical Native  American interlude.
In  Letter  of Introduction (1938  - B/W), a typical variety show picture  (see also the uneasy Bergen-guesting melodrama hybrid Stage Door Canteen (1943 - b/w)), we are  told Charlie is a little boy, and he does childish things like riding staircases. Youtubed.
Watched Fun and Fancy Free (1947), and obviously they hide Bergen's hands because he wasn't a great ventriloquist, but he didn't need to be, because he brought great character, being a proto-Henson.

Bulldog Drummond's Bride (1939  - B/W) - Ropey poverty row exploiter. John Howard is a stiffly American Hugh. See also Bulldog Drummond Comes Back (1937), set in a  cheap Chinatown setting. They follow Bulldog Drummond Escapes (1937), with Ray Milland who is at least British. But it's the stiffly typical mansion runabout.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939 - b/w) - Hmm, Capra I find slightly too sentimental. Jean Arthur reminds me of Cilla Black.

Return to Yesterday (1940 -B/W) - Lightweight romance written by Roland "yes, the father of the family" Pertwee and Robert Morley, and directed by Robert Stevenson, which explains why bits feel a bit Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

The Four Just Men (1939 - B/W) - Ealing Edgar Wallace. Typical proto-ITC   quickie. Weird to see Alan Napier in actual England, plus looking as old as he would thirty years later as Alfred. Francis L. Sullivan looks extraordinarily like prematurely aged BBC Northern Ireland moanwalrus Stephen Nolan.

Swamp Water (1941 - B/W) - Evocative but tonally all over rural drama. Dana Andrews is way too old.

Topper Returns (1941 - B/W) - Less a sequel, just another old dark house cheapie.Youtubed.

The Ghost Train (1941- B/W) - Peculiar tone distinct this actually rather spooky old dark house movie, based on the Private Godfrey chestnut. Only Arthur Askey's somewhat intrusive musical comedy presence is a reminder this is a comedy. Youtubed.

Tales of Manhattan (1942 - B/W) - Maughammesque sentimental anthology. Despite Laughton,Fonda, Lanchester, Robinson, and an atmospheric but unfortunate Rochester/Ethel Waters/Paul Robeson segment  (that both Robeson and Edward G.tried to stop), it feels very European.

Thunder Rock (1942 - B/W) - Staid period chiller with Michael Redgrave, James Mason and Janet off Dr. Finlay's Casebook. Youtubed.

The Big Blockade (1942 - B/W) - Ealing propaganda  docudrama with a galaxy of stars all miscast.

The Night Has Eyes (1942 - B/W) - Another early James Mason quickie chiller. A period-confused drama that plays for tragic romance rather than scares. Youtubed.

China (1943 - B/W) - Alan Ladd plays a leather-coated, fedora-hatted adventurer called Jones in a Paramount adventure... But this proto-Raiders is basically Wages of Fear as WW2 anti-Japanese propaganda. Youtubed.

One Body Too Many (1944 -B/W) - Typically cookie cutter and not especially funny old dark house spooker with Bela Lugosi and Jack "Tin Man" Haley. Youtubed..

Tawny Pipit (1944 - B/W) - Inconsequential wartime ecological parable with Bernard  Miles doing his rustic routine. Youtubed.

Double Indemnity (1944 - B/W) - I find erotic thrillers not my thing, and this, the ur-example is no different, despite Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G.

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) - I can see why it appeals. Roger Livesey reminded me of my dad. A Matter of Life and Death (1946) I can see why it appeals too, but Powell and Pressburger, like Ealing comedies have never quite appealed. The climax is fun.

Detour (1945 -  B/W) - More unusual than typical noir, but Route 66-type roadside Americana never appeals, perhaps due to my dad being a trucker.  By Edgar Ulmer, who did several poverty row noir. Also watched his Ruthless (1948) , the highlight of which  is Sydney Greenstreet hamming it up  in front of a woodchip ocean liner.

Decoy (1946 - B/W) - Monogram noir. Typical fedoras and dames, done reasonably well, but it's an area I find constantly grey.

The Chase (1946 - B/W) - Robert Cummings in Robert Cummings mode and Peter Lorre in a typical "exotic" noir set in an unconvincing Cuba.

Angel on my Shoulder (1946 -b/w) - Trite sentiment that inspired Randall and Hopkirk.

She-Wolf of London (1946 - B/W)  - Boring, very American Universal chiller.

Frieda  (1945 - B/W) - More tiresome Ealing melodrama, Glynis John does the Hokey Cokey. Weird to see a young pre-producing Barry Letts billed above Barry Jones.

Odd Man Out (1947 - B/W) - It's well-made, one of the few 20th century films shot in Northern Ireland, despite James Mason doing a wobbly accent like many of the cast, and William Hartnell not particularly bothering. Also featuring a who's who of Irish faces, Cyril Cusack (and wife Maureen), Dan O'Herlihy, Eddie Byrne, Joseph Tomelty, Noel Purcell, Wilfrid Brambell.... But for an Irish audience, films by non-Irish filmmakers with IRA heroes are problematic.  F.J. McCormick is fun in his budgie-fancying state.
Moonrise (1948 -  B/W)- Atmospheric but emptyRepublic noir by Frank Borzage with a haunted Dane Clark and Lloyd Bridges.

Hollow Triumph (1949 - B/W) -  Paul  Henreid  plays  two roles in  an   undistinguished  noir.

Thieves Highway (1949 - B/W) - Interesting locales, but stories of the underworld in America don't fascinate me.
Ditto Tokyo Joe (1949 - B/W) - Humphrey Bogart in a styleless redo of Casablanca.

The Rocking Horse Winner (1949 - B/W) - Dud, "spooky", stretched betting mystery with John Mills.

Sunset Boulevard (1950 - B/W) - I prefer Fedora (1978).

Borderline (1950- B/W) - Typical "sombreros and fedoras" border  noir   suspense folderol with Fred MacMurray, Claire Trevor and Raymond Burr before the accident. Made at Republic for Universal. A bit of nonsense.

The Wonder Kid (1951 - B/w) - Period confused child napping bunkum. Blondie Is shown in a funnies page alongside "Nick Bracy"

Babes in Bagdad (1952 - B/W) - Dopey Arabian comedy idiocy with Paulette Goddard, Gypsy Rose Lee and  a young Christopher Lee. Edgar Ulmer directs for Danziger's.

Monkey Business (1952 - B/W) Silly all star comedy. A BIT BLUE REMEMBERED HILLS.

Spaceways  (1953- B/W) - Tiresome early Hammer space drama, actually a typical 50s boardroom aeronautics soap.  Four Sided  Triangle  (1953 - B/W) is similar, but better. Hosted by James Hayter, and while still a slog, it has a Frankensteinian noir element.

The Black  Rider (1954 - B/W) - Jimmy Hanley and an even then ancient Lionel Jeffries in quaint but rather meaningless mature CFF biking shenanigans.

The Runaway Bus (1954 -B//W)- Baffling comedy with Frankie Howerd as heroic lead and Margaret Rutherford.

The Colditz Story (1955 - B/W)- Not a warmovie lad.God Bryan Forbes is smug.

Run for the Sun (1956) - Widmark and Trevor Howard in Zaroffian jungle tedium.

Yellow  Crow   (1957) - Syrupy  Japanese family  drama.

Sweet Smell of Success (1957 - B/W) - Well-shot, but honestly, not my kind of film.

Witness for the Prosecution (1957 - B.W)  - I need to re-rewatch  it when one is less sleepy. And thus when one is less  sleepy, wow. Wilder's best.

The Vikings (1958) - Not quite  my  thing, but hey, the animation's fun and so is Eileen Way.

In Search of the Castaways (1962) - Typical muddled Disney adventure. No real excitement. Though the cast give it good game - Hayley Mills, Maurice Chevalier as a singing French scientist, George Sanders, Wilfrids Hyde-White and Brambell (the latter using his own de-thespianised accent as an Irish seaman trapped in the Pacific, presumably after one of his twink-hunting holidays in the Far East)   Roger Delgado cameos as a raving Patagonian prisoner, but at least he is credited unlike a pre-fame Joss Ackland and Jean Alexander. It just is a series of anticlimaxes. And despite having actual Maori Inia Te Wiata as the Polynesian chieftain, it lacks a decent antagonist.

One Two Three (1961 - B/W) - Like It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World, too zany for its own good, and therefore there's no room for good jokes just running about. Pity, it starts off fun.

The Punch and Judy Man (1963  -B/W) -Like a slightly lighter answer movie to the Entertainer.

WEST 11 (1963) - Grim Michael Winner noir.

The Silence (1963 - B/W) - Grim, oddly erotic Ingmar Bergman thing.

Shaft's Big Score ! (1972) - Samey blaxploitation thrills, though a probable influence on Live and Let Die.

Postman's Knock (1962 - B/W)  - A sub-Ealing conventional comedy designed to make audiences smile not laugh, so  putting in Spike Milligan as the lead is to say the least, not going to make the most of the man's talent. Has Warren Mitchell,  Lance Percival, Arthur Mullard and John Bennett in  starring roles as the villains. Barbara Shelley is the romantic interest.

The Third Secret (1964 -  B/W) Mediocre but expensive psychodrama.

Stagecoach (1966) - Was it worth it, really... And even I think the (1939) one is just your average western.

What's Up, Tiger Lily (1966) - Woody Allen nonsense dubbed over a nonsensical Japanese spy film.

Night of the Generals (1966) - Confused, aimless all star mystey with a confused period setting and a talcumed Omar Sharif as a Nazi.

The Blue Max (1966) It isn't brilliant but my grandad is in it, and Dublin shamlessly doubles for Germany.

Kaleidoscope (1966) -Uninteresting Warren Beatty (unauthorised) Casino Royale adaptation, set in a titular  casino with a now ridiculously provincial neon sign in profil font.

Guns for San Sebastian. (1968)  Unusual Mexican Europudding psuedowestern.

The Party (1968) - What on Earth is this supposed to be? Sellers is just mugging (it's like he's trying to be a convincing Indian comedian) amongst a pile of psychedelic gubbins.

The mercenary (1968) - Absurdist spaghetti zapata western. Franco Nero and an avauntular Jack Palance star. Features comedy thespian dwarves doing a Bernie Clifton and a biplane.

Anzio (1968) - Not even a decent cast helps this turgid, overwrought Dino DeLaurentiis macaroni Euro warsploiter.

The  Reivers  (1969)   - Steve  McQueen's  Bessie    western.

Eyewitness (1971) - Peculiar, surprisingly ruthless kids' adventure with Mark Lester at the centre of an international murder conspiracy. Lionel Jeffries steals it as the grandad, Susan George has a throwaway romance subplot, and Peters Vaughan and Bowles play assassin brothers.

Lawman (1971) -  Winner brings some verve to a typical 70s oater.

The Beguiled (1971) - Lovingly shot but the tone changes muddy it. Also rewatched High Plains Drifter (1973), which is again lovingly shot but slightly goes up its arse and cannot decide on what it is.
Dirty Harry (1971) and Magnum Force (1973) are not quite my cup of tea. They feel repetitive to a point that the cinematography lifts them from TV level programmers.

The Seven Minutes (1971) - A transatlantic tripe courtroom thriller made for Fox by Russ Meyer with a cast of ailing vets plus young Tom Selleck. Bland and televisual.

Johnny Got   His Gun (1971) - The hillbillySlaughterhouse Five-via-A-Boy And His Dog, Jason Robards doing the same schtick in the latter.

Up the  Sandbox (1972) -Barbra in an annoying feminist Billy Liar.

Our Miss Fred (1972) - Unfunny if ever so slightly interesting Danny La Rue vehicle that fails to live up to scant promise.

That's Your  Funeral (1972)-A  peculiar Hammer film, an adaptation   of   a cancelled  after one series  BBC sitcom. Languid,, it  doesn't  help that we're supposed  to know the unfamiliar characters despite  being played by Bill Fraser, Raymond  Huntley  and David Battley.  Youtubed..

The Carey Treatment (1972) Bland Crichton-Blake Edwards medical histrionics, despite an unusually large James Hong role.

The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972)/Barry McKenzie Holds His  Own (1974) - Yes, they're incredibly sexist, racist, but the character is because he's a parody of sexist, racist Aussies. There's real energy unlike the equivalent British or American films of the era. And I empathise with  Dennis Price (except for me, it's being kicked up the arse)

Serpico (1973) Just Pacino fannying about in  ladies' blouses and hats.

Ash Wednesday (1973) -Elizabeth Taylor has plastic surgery. That's the plot of this Europudding transatlantic tripe.

No Sex Please, We're British (1973) - Amiable if not exactly rib-tickling timekiller. The cast helps. Corbett! Lowe! Reid! Ogilvy! Askwith! Filmed farces I always find lose something in translation.

Rhinoceros (1974) -The sort of comedy I can never warm to. PlusZero Mostel is an acquired taste.

French Connection 2 (1975) - A load of sleazy, exploitative twaddle. Frankenheimer tries too hard to mimic Friedkin's style in the (1971) film.

Watched all five Rocky films (1976, (1979, (1982, (1986,  (1990). Only V is bad.

A Man Called Blade (1977) - Another Maurizio Merli charity shop buy. Sergio Martino directs a visualy attractive but rough-hewn western. Slavishly imitative of the better Keoma (1976).
The American Friend. (1977)  Neon lime lightning brightens this otherwise confused cosmische thriller.

March or Die (1977) -  Boring desert adventure that had the mmisfortune to come out the same time as a  Yorkshire-produced TV feature of the Four Feathers and the superior parody The Last Remake of Beau Geste. Terence Hill is just a  slab. The days when Ian Holm could play an Arab.

Scalpel (1977) - An interesting curio, though wrongly listed as a horror, but a melodramatic psychosexual thriller where Robert Lansing cheats his father's will by turning a Jane Doe rape victim into a double of his daughter, only to fall in love with her. The cineamotgrpahy alone, thanks to the gorgeous blu-ray and Atlanta locations aid an otherwise dull suspenser.

Clonus (1979) - An interesting concept dully staged. Like the Prisoner via Meatballs.

Catcus Jack (1979) - A peculiar comedy western from Hal Needham. Kirk Douglas is the titular Villain.With Arnold Schwarzenegger as the idiot European hero, there seems to be a level of influence from Terence Hill's vehicles.

Mani di velluto (1979) - Again, charity shops provide another chunk of Italian pop cinema, in this case an amiable if perplexing Adriano Celentano sexcom featuring the incongruous presence of John Sharp, who did quite a few Italian productions around this time, while still appearing in the likes of All Creatures...

The Omega Connection (1979) - Aka the London Connection. This is Disney's attempt to make a serious spy film, though with its two bland American leads and an otherwise affordable but solid British cast (Nigel Davenport, Roy Kinnear, Lee Montague, David Kossoff as a Mittel-European scientist, Frank Windsor, Dudley Sutton, David Battley), it's basically the  Professionals in the style of a Children's Film Foundation flick.

Arabian Adventure (1979) - Milo O'Shea was cast because Kenneth Williams didn't want to wear a turban again. But he's channeling his Welsh rival Hugh Griffith here, although the tan and moustache make him look a bit like Brendan O'Carroll. A less engaging adventure than director Kevin Connor's Edgar Rice Burroughs efforts. Confused, plus the artifice of the sets makes it look like an episode of Space: 1999.
Also watched the 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), which would be a ropey forgotten programer were it not for the FX.

Caveman (1981) - Unfunny Ringo vehicle, a spoof of Hammer caveman vehicles. Manages to ape the look of those films, and the odd stop motion is fun but it doesn't click.

Lion Of The Desert (1981)-Produced by  Moustapha Akkad and Colonel Gaddaffi, interminable biopic of  Libyan freedom fighter/hedge school-teacher Omar Mukhtar (a sunburnt Anthony Quinn) versus Italian military nut Oliver Reed and a weirdly-accented Rod Steiger as Mussolini.

Diva (1981) - An unusually energetic and exciting French actioner, surprisingly youthful considering this was the era of middle-aged, lived-in blokes like Belmondo and Ventura.

The Soldier (1982)  - A late period Bond knockoff, by James Glickenhaus. Ken Wahl, though a relatively decent lead is a bit  lost, with the nonsensical globetrotting, and aside from William Prince basically doing the same schtick he'd do in Spies Like Us, Steve James and seconds of Klaus Kinski, a weak cast.   It does have  a  staggering scene where Wahl and James have a fight in a honkytonk as George Strait sings in the background. Being someone whose  parents were fans enough to once force me down to Pure Country as a child, that entertains. Has what  might  be upstate New York double for the English countryside.

Wrong is Right (1982) - A film I am quite fond of, even thoughthe tone is not quite right. It's somewhere between a conspiracy thriller with the tone of a Roger Moore Bond and a Zucker Abrams Zucker spoof. The opening with all the backlot/stock footage international travails and little punchlines is quite ZAZ. It even has Leslie Nielsen, just post-Airplane! But it takes the espionage stuff seriously. Even if it is Henry Silva and Ron Moody hamming it up as the proto-Osama like terrorist chieftain and the Arab king he assassinates, in the ITC-esque "Hagreb". One of the Arabs has red-hair and looks like an Irish hippie named Brendan. Even the Arab states in ITC series were more convincing. The gasometers and railroads look more like Utah than Saudi Arabia, and no amount of stock footge can help deceive it. An African state with North American terraced housing and skyscrapers, yeah right...  Finally noticed Irish actor Keith McConnell's bit as a Scotland Yard expert, seen on a TV screen, so an element of a fake England is in here. But it runs out of steam - and jokes. It loses track of what it should be.

BMX Bandits (1983) - Brian Trenchard Smith's the Children Film Foundation meets Euston Films down under. (Bryan Marshall, a vet of Out, Special Branch and the  faux-Euston The Chinese Detective is the lead villain).

Vigilante (1983) - Grim, tedious all-star New York revenge nonsense from Bill Lustig.   Youtubed. Watched it again, and wow. It's actually extremely evocative. Might be Lustig's best.

Once Upon A Time in America (1984) - The modern day bits feel like they're from an Italian horror film of the same era, James Woods with his video screens like a CEO waging war against bike-riding punks in the year 1992. Hell, even Treat Williams did one of those. The kids' stuff reminds me of Ragtime (and that's discounting Elizabeth McGovern), but the gangster stuff, yes, there's a Fellini-esque grotesquery that could only be Italian. It probably is Leone's masterpiece.

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) - Allen boils a potentially fantastic concept into a bland romantic TV movie-ish collage of small talk. Even though Milo pops up.

The Last Dragon (1985) - A too-glossy-for-its-own-good film that is also about music videos as well as basically being a music video. A curious but ultimately half-baked hybrid of gang movie, martial arts movie, Karate Kid ripoff, music satire and superhero adventure. Nice to see Ron Van Clief (the black Bruce-Lee Van Cleef of various 70s kung fu films, yes really) as an advisor.

Band of The Hand (1986) - Weird breed between 21 Jump Street and the Warriors. Overstylised nonsense, but it is Michael Mann, though directed by Paul Michael Glaser. Youtubed.

Crossroads (1986) - A rather sweet, inconsequential drama about a young musician searching for a lost Robert Johnson song, by Walter Hill.

Dead of Winter (1987) - Surprisingly unnerving little chiller with Mary Steenburgen. Excellent performances by Roddy McDowall and  Jan Rubes. Steenburgen seems to be styled as Fionnuala Flanagan for one of her roles.

Shoot to Kill (1988) - Sixty year old Sidney Potter stars in this lazy sub-Cannon actioner, a comeback for Sir Sid.

The Big Steal (1989) - Fun if needlessly complicated car-heist teen comedy from Australia with Ben  Mendelsohn as the teen thief. Oddly, the domestic stuff is more fun.

In The Cold Of The Night (1990)  - Prime Skinemax shite guest starring Shannon Tweed, David Soul and Tippi Hedren. Glossy idiocy.

City Hunter (1993) - Overstylised, plotless Jackie Chan anime adap. Jackie does rock the Chun-Li outfit, though.

TheTrial (1993) - Louis Marks-produced, Pinter-written adaptation of Kafka with Anthony Hopkins and Kyle MacLachlan. Feels like an  average BBC drama of the era released to cinemas, because it was. So it is incongruous to see Jason Robards in a Beeb period thing, less so MacLachlan, considering his appearances in  Vodafone ads at this time.

Armstrong (1995) - Menahem Golan directs a typical piece of NuImage schlock.

Time Regained (1999) -All star French  Proust artiness.  Was  this shot on video? Looks like the House of Elliot.

The Big Brass Ring (1999) - Sleazy sub-Cinemax Nu Image Orson Welles script redo that despite being made in St. Louis, has several UK sitcom stars, Nigel Hawthorne, Miranda Richardson and most weirdly, Ewan Stewart, the talentless son of Scottish troubadour Andy. His acting is as good as the film. Has WilliamHurt with a monkey balanced on his cravat.

Himalaya (2000) - Evocative French docudrama.

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