Sunday 26 January 2020


Danger Lights (1930 - b/w) - Forgettable peril with Jean Arthur as an Irish bride.

Bird of Paradise (1932 - b/w) - Primitive but suitably exotic vehicle for Dolores Del Rio and Joel McCrea.

Blind Adventure (1933 - b/w) - Forgettable London-set faux-quickie with Robert Armstrong and Ralph Bellamy.

Dangerous Corner (1934 - b/w) - Unmemorable JB Priestly parlour room mystery with Melvyn Douglas.

Transatlantic Merry Go Round (1934 - b/w) - Jack Benny variety show-with-a-mystery-subplot on a cruise.

The Last Days of Pompeii (1935 - b/w) - Preston Foster is annoying. Basil Rathbone sneers and is camp. Overwrought Roman melodrama about fatherhood.

Seven Keys to Baldpate (1935 - b/w) - Another generic Old Dark House pic.

The Informer (1935 - b/w) - It doesn't work because of how horribly Oirish and unconvincing the whole venture is.

One Rainy Afternoon (1936 - b/w) - Failed vehicle for Francis Lederer, opposite Ida Lupino. Another "man-about-town" comedy that doesn't last in the head.

When Thief Meets Thief (1937 - b/w) - Forgettable quota thriller with Douglas Fairbanks romping around London.

Blind Alibi (1938 - b/w) - Terrible B-picture with Richard Dix feigning blindness and Ace the Wonder Dog.

Young in Heart (1938 - b/w) - Smile-worthy but hardly rib-tickling con comedy with Douglas Fairbanks Jnr, Janet Gaynor, Roland Young and Paulette Goddard.`

Pacific Liner (1939 - b/w) - Victor McLaglen in an undistinguished actioner from RKO.

The Mad Miss Manton (1939 - b/w) - Generic crime-con despite Stanwyck and Fonda. Hattie McDaniel gives it her all as the maid (what else, sigh...).

The Housekeeper's Daughter (1939 - b/w) - Basic Hal Roach fedoras 'n' cops slapstick with Joan Bennett. Victor Mature appears briefly but recognisably.

Eternally Yours (1939 - b/w) - Nothingy romance with David Niven doing magic and  Loretta Young.

Band Waggon (1940 - b/w) - ArthurAskey and Stinker Murdoch run a pirate TV station atop BBC Broadcasting House.

Swiss Family Robinson (1940 - bw) - Not great, Disney shouldn't have buried it. It wasn't worth it.

You'll Never Get Rich (1941 - b/w) - Typical dance flick with Fred Stair (sic) plus Rita Hayworth.

Once Upon A Honeymoon (1942 - b/w) - Ginger Rogers and Cary Grant in a sentimental anti-Nazi romcom, with obvious modelwork and Nazi Walter Slezak.

Whistling in Dixie (1942 - b/w) - Unfunny hillbilly horror-comedy with Red Skelton.

Tortilla Flat (1942 - b/w) - Hedy Lamarr, Spencer Tracy and John Garfield are unconvincing Mexicans.

A Guy Named Joe (1943 - b/w) - Sentimental MGM claptrap with Spencer Tracy's ghost and Irene Dunne. A very unconvincing England at the start, despite a tiny Edward Hardwicke. Another Junior Watson.

Guest in the House (1944 - b/w) - Generic noir, though Anne Baxter is memorably mad, and falls off a cliff.

The Story of GI Joe (1945 - B/W) - Sentimental but heavily authentic feeling story of Ernie Pyle, with Burgess Meredith and Robert Mitchum.

Betrayal from the East (1945 - b/w) - Forgettable RKO war-progaganda.

Bells of St. Mary's (1945 - b/w) - Sentimental Catholic propaganda.

Having Wonderful Crime (1945 - b/w) - Generic B-picture with Pat O'Brien and Carole Landis.

Conflict (1945 - b/w) - Generic noir with Bogie and Greenstreet, plus Alexis Smith.

It's In The Bag (1945 - b/w) - Bland 40s comedy with Don Ameche, Jack Benny and Fred Allen. Baffling to non-Americans.

Boom in the Moon (1946 - b/w) - Godawful Mexican comedy with Buster Keaton slumming it.

The Green Years (1946 - b/w) - Strange MGM Scottish answer to How Green Was My Valley, with Dean Stockwell doing a strange accent as an Irish orphan raised in Scotland. Features Hume Cronyn in Paw Broon mode, with Jessica Tandy, pregnant with their child during filming as his daughter, despite being two years older than her on-screen father/off-screen husband, and of course, they look the same age. It all goes downhill when Dean mutates into the wooden Tom Drake, as bland as Stockwell is offbeat.

Nobody Lives Forever (1946 - b/w) - A generic noir, despite John Garfield's presence.
See also Out of the Fog (1941 - b/w) with annoyingly cheery Oirish Thomas Mitchell, The Fallen Sparrow (1943 - b/w, with Maureen O'Hara), Dangerously, They Live (1941 - b/w) and the To Have and To Have Not remake The Breaking Point (1950 - b/w).

Nocturne (1946 - b/w) - Undistinguished noir with George Raft about a composer and his framed lady friend (Morecambe and Wise favourite Lynn Bari).

Brief Encounter (1946 - b/w) - Meh. It has been parodied so many times that it kind of loses that power.
See also The Passionate Friends (1949 - b/w)- Lean one of dozens of filmmakers who were convinced Ann Todd was eternally young.

Riffraff (1947 - b/w) - Decent-for-what-it-is B-noir starring Pat O'Brien and sinister-but-at-times-ludicrous Walter Slezak.

Smash-Up (1947 - b/w) - Unmemorable melodrama with Susan Hayward.

Body and Soul (1947 - b/w) - Well, made-atmospheric, but I'm not a boxing fan.

The Farmer's Daughter (1947 - b/w) - Swedish Loretta Young is annoying. Joseph Cotten looks bored.

Christmas Eve (1947 - b/w) - Forgettable Maughamesque anthology with George Raft and Randolph Scott.

Ride the Pink Horse (1947 - b/w) - Typical border noir, but possibly an influence on Touch of Evil.

Sinbad the Sailor (1947) - Sir Douglas Fairbanks Jr (yes, I know it was only an honorary knighthood, but he lived in the UK, and his accent was sort of RP) isn't bad as Sinbad,  His schtick is he's a storyteller, and he brings relish. But it is routine panto-ish Arabian Nights fantasy. Walter Slezak in yellowface leaves a nasty taste in the mouth, while Maureen O'Hara is nominally ludicrous as an Arab princess, even though I know Middle Eastern folk can be red-haired, like that Iraqi general who looked like Denis Lill.  It is an accomplished production unlike the later Son of Sinbad (1955), a ramshackle amount of exotica tack with Dale Robertson a cardboard lead and even Vincent Price fading into the tacky backgrounds and reused outfits and sets.

The Girl from Manhattan (1948 - b/w) - Rote Dorothy Lamour comedy, with Charles Laughton doing it for a cheque, probably.

Red Light (1949 - b/w) - Bland noir with George Raft trucking.

Too Late for Tears (1949 - b/w) - Forgettable noir with Lizabeth Scott and Arthur Kennedy.

Home of the Brave (1949 - b/w) - Based on a novel about Jews, but to avoid too many films about anti-semitism, James Edwards was cast and so this is an early Hollywood war film with an African-American lead. Solid World War 2 fare, though a little gung-ho for my tastes.

Jigsaw (1949 - b/w) - Dreary Danziger's anti-xenophobia noir with Franchot Tone and lots of cameos from big stars who did it for the cause not for the money, because it's Danziger's - the cheapest men in Britain.

The Lucky Stiff (1949 - b/w) - Unamusing alleged comedy with Brian Donlevy.

The Barkleys of Broadway (1949) - Fred Stair and Ginger Biscuits in a faded-Technicolor musical.

Caged (1950 - b/w) - Underrated, grim, tough women's prison film, possibly the best of its genre.

My Favourite Spy (1951 - b/w) -Generic Bob Hope vehicle.

Double Dynamite (1951 - b/w) - Groucho needs Harpo and Chico, not Jane Russell and Sinatra.

The Tall Target (1951 - B/W) - Unmemorable though interesting western-ish Lincoln-themed Victorian train thriller, with a young Ruby Dee.

Remains to be Seen (1953 - b/w) - Genre-confused comedy-musical-sleepwalking-thriller with June Allyson, Van Johnson, Angela Lansbury and Dorothy Dandridge.

The Desert Rats (1953 - b/w) - Typical WW2 gung-ho commando stuff that is also the Desert Fox Part 2. For once, Burton plays Welsh.

The Moon is Blue (1953 - b/w) - Generic romcom with William Holden and David Niven, and the quickly-forgotten Maggie McNamara. The highlight is a fake ad involving Henry VIII.

Appointment in Honduras (1953) - Ann Sheridan and Glenn Ford in a forgettable jungle actioner.
See also  other RKO exotica like Escape to Burma (1955) with Robert Ryan and Barbara Stanwyck and sets reused from Sinbad, Macao (1952 - b/w) with Jane Russell and Robert Mitchum, and Pearl of the South Pacific (1955) with Virginia Mayo.

The Beachcomber (1954) - Robert Newton, Glynis Johns and Donald Sinden in a remake of the old chestnut. Colourful but not very good. Donald Pleasence makes  an early appearance in walnut juice.

The Barefoot Contessa (1954) - Typical romantic drama with Ava Gardner as Rita Hayworth. Typical Hollywood melodramatics. Humphrey humphs. Marius Goring tries to be Hispanic.

Hell and High Water (1954) - Samuel Fuller directs Richard Widmark in this serviceable submarine thriller with some interludes around the world that were either shot on location or convincingly faked using back projection.

The Teckman Mystery (1954) - Otherwise average 50s thriller with Margaret Leighton that has an intriguing twist re - the villain being the protagonist.

A Town Like Alice (1956 - b/w)- 50s Tenko (Jean Anderson!) meets outback romance.

Omar Khayyam (1957) - Bland exotica at its most undistinguished. Despite the setting, Yma Sumac is wheeled out.

12 Angry Men (1957 - b/w) - A good TV play.

A Face in the Crowd (1957 - b/w) - Being Irish, to me Andy Griffith is Matlock. The Andy Griffith Show I don't think ever even made Ireland. This film is not my thing. He is a revelation. He seems to be the character, but he wasn't.  He seems to be a folksy aw shucks Will Rogers-type, but he's a monster.  Not quite the sort of film I'd call something I'd like, but Andy Griffith in this may be one of the best performances I have ever seen. Even from the start, people think he's funny but he comes across as fearsome despite the humour. There's an underlying threat.

The Devil's Disciple (1959 - b/w) - Colonial-era America-set boredom with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas versus bewigged military bods Harry Andrews and Larry Olivier.

Classes Tous Risques (1960 - b/w) - Unexciting, rather dreary, grim gangster film with Lino Ventura and Belmondo.

The Fugitive Kind (1960 - b/w) - Depressing Tennessee Williams nonsense with Anna Magnani and Marlon Brando too old, Joanne Woodward going mad and rare product placement for  Barr's Royal Crown Cola.

Make Mine Mink (1960  - b/w) - Another generic Terry-Thomas vehicle.

Irma La Douce (1963) - o comedy should be 2 and a half hours and this expensive AND sentimental.

Psyche 59 (1964 - b/w) - Dreary psychodrama with Patricia Neal, Samantha Eggar, Curt/Curd Jurgens, Ian Bannen and Beatrix Lehmann.

Topkapi (1964) - I've always found Melina Mercouri scary, perhaps even creepy. As a child, I wondered, "Am I supposed to be like her or feel intimidated?" Even Maximillian Schell feels off in a heroic role, and cuddly Peter Ustinov as a Brummie is left to carry this misbegotten Eurocaper. Ustinov is the lead but  Jules Dassin is obviously more interested in the wretched Mercouri.

Hide and Seek (1964 - b/w) - Ian Carmichael, a Prunella Scales-esque Janet Munro, Hugh Griffith and Curd Jurgens star in a forgettable  thriller-comedy.

The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming (1966) - Another overlong schtick-heavy comedy full of Alan Arkin looking like Kulvinder Ghir, mugging.

Cast A Giant Shadow (1966) - Overlong Zionist all-star propaganda.

The Blonde from Peking (1967) - Forgettable Eurospy with Mireille Darc, Claudio Brook and Edward G. Robinson, based allegedly on a James Hadley Chase novel.

Marat/Sade (1967) - A load of agitprop shite.

Bullitt (1968)- A thin B-movie idea stretched to infinity.

Charge of the Light Brigade (1968) - It only works with the Richard Williams animation stuff. The rest is kind of samey.

The Devil's Brigade (1968) - Overstacked, unconvincing, flatly shot war epic with William Holden and a galaxy of character actors from Dana Andrews and Richard Jaeckel to Richard Dawson and Jack Watson.

OSS 117  - DOUBLE AGENT (1968) - Terrible, simultaneously large but quite cramped Bond imitation with John Gavin, himself a nearly-Bond against Curt Jurgens, in proto-Stromberg mode, whose base is a tiny office in a rundown mansion in the jungle, and his sidekick a gormless George Eastman. It's a typical Eurospy, with big aspirations and globe-trotting but unable to afford ace set design and with dubbing, unable to get properly characteristic acting. Everything is surface. Also, Luciana Paluzzi pops up doing Fiona Volpe from Thunderball again, essentially.

The Damned (1969) - Homoerotic Nazi nonsense. It's not art. It's smut.

This Stuff'll Kill Ya (1972) - HG Lewis hillbilly tosh. God Tim Holt looks rough.

The Gore Gore Girls (1972) - Herschell Gordon Lewis' last true gore-opus. Even more ramshackle and much sleazier than normal, plus Henny Youngman.

Medusa (1973) - Unadventurous George Hamilton thriller.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) - I find this crass, tacky and obnoxious. The opening Denton bits have a nice Aussie New Wave feel, apt considering director Jim Sharman was an Aussie. And Charles Gray is fun, but no, I never warmed to this.

The Tenant (1976) - Roman Polanski cosplays as Gail from Coronation Street in this pervy, nonsensical, creepy Eurohorror, which despite the director, is no different from any Eurohorror. It even has a dodgy dub by Robert Rietty.

Quadrophenia (1979) - Basically a TV play. It'svery shoddy with period details. There's ads for Heaven Can Wait, despite all the posters of Cliff, and parents watching B/W Avengers and Ready Steady Go is supposedly new.

Apocalypse Now (1979) - What a load of tosh. A Namsploitation film about surfers trned into an over-elaborate epic. Cluttered. Plus Coppola  like so many wastes Colleen Camp.

The Jigsaw Man (1984) - the 80s British film at its skankiest despite having both Sir Michael Caine and Lord Olivier, it has all the charm and style of an episode of Dempsey and Makepeace, with a sub-LeCarre espionage plot involving doubles, the points of interest include Susan George's flat full of product placement for Fairy liquid, Perrier water and a David Hockney calendar, and David Kelly using a funny accent.

Fort Saganne (1984) - Sumptuous but not-particularly-endearing French flop - Zulu Dawn meets March or Die, complete with Catherine Deneuve. From that period when every French film either had Philippe Noiret or Gerard Depardieu.

Tuesday 21 January 2020


It Happened One Night (1934 - b/w) - I don't get screwball comedies. Is it cos I'm asexual?

Satan Met  A Lady (1936 - b/w) - Early Maltese Falcon with Bette Davis, forgettable fluff.

Made for Each Other (1939 - b/w) - Lombard and Stewart in a bog-standard romantic drama.

Vigil in the Night (1940 - b/w) - Carole Lombard stars in this faux- Yorkshire Hollywood AJ Cronin tearjerker. Typical Hollywood Faux-British drama, but with some actual Northern accents in the form of Will Hay/George Formby stooge Julien Mitchell in one of his few Hollywood sojourns and Peter Cushing doing his Shopkeeper-in-From-Beyond-the-Grave accent.

The Moon and Sixpence (1942 - b/w) - Sentimental fictionalisation of Gauguin with George Sanders.

The Jungle Book (1942) - I saw this as a kid, and didn't like it. Twenty years later, I now see it as trying to be a faithful adaptation, but with aside from Sabu and Noble Johnson (an African-American!), a mostly-browned up cast, it feels not too distant from the Maria Montez vehicles that Sabu would end up in. It has beautiful colour and production design, but it can't decide if it is a prize piece of pulp or a rather slow, faithful adaptation. It's not quite as good as the thrilling, colourful Thief of Bagdad (1940), with Sabu.

Bombay Clipper (1942 - b/w) - Nothingy Universal B-picture.

The Falcon and the Co-Eds (1943 - b/w) - Generic, sub-Lewton RKO mystery folderol.

Mademoiselle Fifi (1944 -b/w) - Generic period romp from Val Lewton.

Spellbound (1945 - b/w) - Not weird enough.

Mr. Ace (1946 - b/w) - Undistinguished political drama with George Raft and Sylvia Sidney.

Colonel Effingham's Raid (1946 - b/w) - Forgettable regional comedy from Fox.

Diary of a Chambermaid (1946 - b/w) - Typical Hollywood romance with Paulette Goddard and future Irish resident Hurd Hatfield. Despite Jean Renoir at the helm.

The Strange Woman (1946 - b/w) - Edgar Ulmer-directed period gothic programmer with Hedy Lamarr and George Sanders.

Sleep, My Love (1946 - b/w) - Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche and a very hammy George Coulouris in another mad woman noir. By Douglas Sirk.

A Scandal in Paris (1946 - b/w) - Generic swashbuckling period piece with George Sanders.

Whistle Stop (1946 - b/w) - Generic noir with Ava Gardner and George Raft.

The Other Love (1947 - b/w) - Swiss semi-noir romantic dirge with David Niven and Barbara Stanwyck.

Dishonored Lady  (1947 - b/w) - Hedy Lamarr in unmemorable noir.

The Macomber Affair (1947 - b/w) - Tiresome safari with Joan Bennett, Gregory Peck and Robert Preston.

Born To Kill (1947)  - Typical noir. Lawrence Tierney feels like a tough dragged onto the stage. Elisha Cook does his face.

Carnegie Hall (1947 - b/w) - Tedious concert film with soap elements. By Edgar Ulmer.

The Private Affairs of Bel Ami (1947 - b/w) - George Sanders and Angela Lansbury (convincingly adult at 22) in another old Hollywood piece of tiresome period romantica.

The Woman in Brown (1948 - b/w) - Forgettable UA-distributed cheapie courtroom noir.

The Argyle Secrets (1948 - b/w) - Film Classics poverty noir with William Gargan.

Conspirator (1948 - b/w) - Sub-Hitchcock MGM British thrill-romance gaslighter with Robert and Elizabeth Taylor swapping nationality.

The Men (1950 - b/w) - Marlon Brando's early role in an awkward story of disabled vets.

The Sound of Fury (1950 - b/w) - Unmemorable noir with Lloyd Bridges.

The Second Woman (1950 - b/w) - Forgettable gothic with Robert Young, sub-Rebecca.`

The Admiral was a Lady (1950 - b/w) - Forgettable cheapo comedy with Edmond O'Brien.

The Magnificent Yankee (1950 - b/w) - Louis Calhern is solid, but this is an average political biopic.

The  Kangaroo Kid (1951 - b/w) - Australian western with Jock Mahoney, could easily be American, just as forgettable.

The Well (1951 - b/w) - Vivid if somewhat caricatured noir-docudrama about a little girl who falls down a well. Problem is she's black.

Another Man's Poison (1951 - b/w) - Bette Davis and husband Gary Merrill in a cheap, undistinguished British thriller, the highlight of which is Davis' climactic manic laughter.

The First Legion (1951 - b/w) - Charles Boyer and Leo G. Carroll in preachy religious schmaltz.

When I Grow Up (1951 - b/w) - Ill-fated child star/Disney boy Bobby Driscoll stars in this schmaltzy circus-themed family bonding story.

The Lady Says No (1951) - Despite a surrealistic dream sequence involving drumming James Robertson Justice and cannibal bait David Niven, forgettable comedy for Joan Caulfield.

Three Steps North (1951 - b/w) - Dreary Italian noir with Lloyd Bridges.

The River (1951) - I like the cinematography, but Renoir seems far too interested in Esmond Knight and his awful family.

People will Talk (1951 - b/w) - Sentimental comedy with Cary Grant. Everett Sloane is annoying. It has an odd tone, and bores with his constant politicking.

Moulin Rouge (1952) - I cannot take this seriously because of Jose Ferrer's ridiculous appearance as Toulouse-Lautrec with his false legs hiding his walking on knees, plus he plays his own dad.

Bwana Devil (1952) - Terrible African nonsense with Robert Stack and Scottish Nigel Bruce, only remembered for being the first 3-D feature. The action is forgettable.

Actors and Sin (1952 - b/w) - Forgettable Edward G. Robinson-starring Maughamesque two-story.

Dangerous When Wet (1953)  - Esther Williams goes around the fake Channel and swims with Jerry Mouse.

Wicked Woman (1953 - b/w) - Typical low-rent noir.

Return To Paradise (1953) - Sentimental alleged comedy tropicana with Gary Cooper.

Personal Affair (1953 - b/w) - Eady level bargain suspenser with Gene Tierney, Glynis Johns, Leo Genn and teen Nanette Newman.

The Man Between (1953 - b/w) - Dowdy Cold War romance with James Mason, Claire Bloom and Hildegarde Knef.

Shield For Murder (1954 - b/w) - Dreary copboiler with Edmond O'Brien an unlikely ladies' man.

Storm Fear (1955 - b/w) - Dreary snowbound Cornel Wilde noir.

A Bullet for Joey (1955- b/w) - Raft and Robinson in a basic noir, the only difference the nominal Montreal setting.

Mr. Roberts (1955) - Sentimental rot.

The Naked Street (1955 - b/w) - Bland gangster melodrama with Anthony Quinn and Anne Bancroft.

Desert Sands (1955 ) - White Arabs galore in this western-like Foreign Legion silliness with Ralph Meeker and Arab girls dressed like teens at a diner.

The Big Knife (1955 - b/w) - Intriguing but sluggish Aldrich meta-noir with Ida Lupino, Jack Palance, Rod Steiger and Miss Shelley Winters, as she is billed, which makes her sound like a drag act.

Not As A Stranger (1955 - b/w) - Ludicrous medical school drama, Sinatra and Robert Mitchum (looking weirdly like Bill Murray at times) are unconvincing as students. Olivia De Havilland even more so as the "older woman". Lon Chaney Jr. pops up.

The Harder They Fall (1956 - b/w) - I didn't enjoy it, but it aptly captures what I feel boxing was of that era. Bogie's last film. He looks rough, but then he never looked healthy.

Nightmare (1956 - b/w) - Generic, nothingy noir with Edward G. Robinson and Kevin McCarthy, paranoid as always.

The Boss (1956 - b/w) - Generic gangster melodrama with John Payne.

Bandido (1956) - Generic Mexican-set western with Robert Mitchum.

Flight to Hong Kong (1956 - b/w) - Dreary Asian travelogue with Rory Calhoun standing and walking about.

The Sharkfighters (1956) - Dreary war fare with Victor Mature.

Time Limit (1957) - Grim war trial with Richards Widmark and Basehart.

Jungle Heat (1957 - b/w) - Lex Barker in a forgettable tropic timewaster.

The Big Boodle (1957 - b/w) - Dodgy adventure with Errol Flynn in Cuba.

Paths of Glory (1957 - b/w) - A well-made war movie, nothing more, nothing less.

Anna Lucasta (1958) - Forgettable African-Americanisation of a Paulette Goddard vehicle starring Sammy Davis Jr and Eartha Kitt.  I remember the poster in a David Thomson book.

The Gun Runners (1958 - b/w) - To Have Or Have Not with Audie Murphy and Eddie Albert. Typical 50s tropicana B-movie dreck.

Ten Seconds to Hell (1959 - b/w) - Confused, tedious post-war Berlin actioner with Jack Palance and Jeff Chandler as Germans. Weirdly a Hammer production, despite a mainly US cast and crew - Robert Aldrich as director.

A Terrible Beauty (1959) - Richard Harris gets a weird "and" "co-starring" credit after anyone, but he gets his own caption, even though this was an early role. Robert Mitchum and Dan O'Herlihy (around the time he accidentally christened Adele King Twink during a ballet recital) star. Joe Lynch has no tache or stubble. Tiresome Norn Iron-set Oirish action. My grandad met Mitchum on this. Didn't like him.

Captured (1959 - b/w) - Never meant to be seen outside military procedures, this is a taut little military information film about the dangers of fighting with the Red Chinese. Weird to see Bernard Fox in a grim POW setting pre-Hogan's  Heroes.

The Man in the Net (1959 - b/w) - Curtiz and Alan Ladd reduced to this forgettable lynching cheapie.

Ocean's 11 (1960) - Jeez the Rat Pack were smug.

X-15 (1961) - Cheerless proto-Right Stuff from Richard Donner, with Charles Bronson and Mary Tyler Moore.

Paris Blues (1961 - b/w) - I suppose this Paul Newman-Sidney Poitier-Louis Armstrong-Diahann Carroll-Joanne Woodward jazz yarn accurately captures the 60s jazz era, but it's not  an era I am bothered in.

Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title (1966 - b/w) - Terrible poverty row It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World filled with cameos, but starring a Dick Van Dyke Show-era Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie.

Viva Maria! (1965) -  Beginning in an Irish castle ruin, this is another IRA Mexican Revolution Eurowestern (like  A Fistful of Dynamite), it's almost fun, but it feels quite mechanical and suffers from that weird French sense of humour. And it's also a musical, Brigitte Bardot and Francoise Dorleac do music numbers. It's a bit confused. Like A Fistful of Dynamite, it is completely historically inaccurate, shifting the Revolution to about ten-fifteen years early.

Made in USA (1966) - Fuck off, Godard.

La Musica (1967) - Artsy nonsense with Robert Hossein and Delphine Seyrig, from Marguerite Duras.

Tobruk (1967) - Cheap-feeling Gene Corman war movie that despite having Rock Hudson and Geore Peppard when they were still film stars, still feels like a TV show from the era.

Shock troops (1967) Possibly Costa-Gavras' best film. Gritty, unlikeable, clinical but captures the horrors of war via a men-on-a-mission movie. With Bruno Cremer and Michel Piccoli leading a solid cast. Produced by Harry Saltzman, this was  a major flop.

Le Demoniaque (1968) - Dreary but sunny French Eurospy-ish James Hadley Chase thriller.

A Touch of Love (1968) - Standard though decent pregnancy drama, Sandy Dennis quite convincing as a British student, Ian McKellen playing himself thanks to Margaret Drabble basing the character on him. Feels a bit telly, but then it is Waris Hussein.

Coogan's Bluff (1968) - Clint Eastwood IS McCloud. With Susan Clark as the not-ill-fated-for-a-change love interest. It's weird seeing Clint in something relatively TV-like, being a Universal production of the late 60s. No wonder it spawned a series, though one with a different, less realist, more fantastical character. You wouldn't see Coogan fight Dracula or team up with Adam Faith to fight the IRA at Buck House.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) - Always found this smug.

The Gypsy Moths (1969) - A soap opera with skydiving.

The Love God (1969) - It feels like a Disney comedy gone dirty, because of Don Knotts and his sexy entourage (including trans woman Aleshia Brevard). It's an odd film. It doesn't quite work. I can see why it flopped. Dispiriting, as Leslie Halliwell puts it.

Three Into Two Won't Go (1969) - Dreary Rod Steiger-as-Northern relationship drama, as teen strumpet Judy Geeson splits him from Claire Bloom. Written by Edna O'Brien, directed by Peter Hall.

They Call Me Mr. Tibbs (1970) - Generic blaxploitation-with-class from Sidney Potter (sic).

Devil in the Brain (1972) - Dry Sergio Sollima family drama/semi-giallo with Micheline Presle, Maurice Ronet and Keir Dullea, but ace Morricone soundtrack.

L'attentat (1972) - Roy Scheider (in a cameo, essentially) and Nigel Davenport (as an American, really?) stand out like sore thumbs in this extremely French and therefore alienating conspiracy thriller from Yves Boisset. With Cremer, Piccoli, Trintignant...Gian Maria Volonte is the titular assassinated North African dictator, and Jean Seberg is unrecognisable. She could be any other dowdy, almost-middle aged faded Euro-starlet.

Two People (1973) - Overlong, empty, meandering Love Story of a divorce with Lindsay Wagner and Peter Fonda.

Leonor (1975) - Juan Bunuel does a medieval fantasy-horror with Michel Piccoli, Liv Ullman and Ornella Muti. It looks nice, but is slow, and trapped between art and schlock.

The Hunter will Get You (1976) - Jean Paul Belmondo and Bruno Cremer in a serviceable but repetititve chase-actioner.

The Buddy Holly Story (1978) - Despite being way too old, Gary Busey still convinces as Buddy Holly, even though it does reek of that very 70s faux-50s quality.

New Year's Evil (1980) - Family row dramatised as a telethon dramatised as a slasher.

Le Professionnel (1981) - Belmondo is a great, weary presence, but this is a confused film. It feels too classy to be an exploitation actioner, but there's sleazy elements i.e. the naked Anita Harris lookalike being tortured. Great soundtrack, even if it is mainly Chi Mai (Theme to the Life and Times of David Lloyd George).

Thief (1981) - Not exactly my cup of tea, but stylish, with substance, and feels aggressively modern for the era. Willie Nelson's kind of wasted, though.

Archangel (1990) - Experimental Guy Maddin WW1 weirdness.

Thursday 16 January 2020

60 - mainly ok.rued precisely

The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939 - b/w) - Standard biopic.

Untamed (1940) - Typical faux-Canadian romance with Ray Milland.

Watch on the Rhine (1943 - b/w) - Dreary wartime romance with Bette Davis.

Bedelia (1946 - b/w) - Margaret Lockwood Gainsborough-noir.

Under Capricorn (1949) - Found it dull. Basically Hitchcock doing an (Australian) western.

Joe Palooka in Humphrey Takes A Chance (1950 - b/w) - Slapsticky, unmemorable comic strip comedy from Monogram.

The Flame and the Arrow (1950) - Burt Lancaster shines, but this feels cheap and B-movie compared to his later swashbucklers. And it lacks the British character talent of the later films.

Ten Tall Men (1951) - Burt Lancaster in tedious foreign legion fare.

The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952) - Religious propaganda lifted by a solid Frank Silvera performance.

My Cousin Rachel (1952 - b/w) - Hollywood Gothic bastardisation of Du Maurier with Richard Burton and Olivia de Havilland.

Plymouth Adventure (1952) - Glossy, insubstantial Puritan ship-soap with accurate but offputtin American accents galore.

Inferno (1953) - Basically an average western in the modern era, with Robert Ryan and Rhonda Fleming, by Roy Ward Baker. Its novelty was it was in 3-D.

Niagara (1953) - Dull, confused chase thriller around a campsite with Marilyn.

Guerrilla Girl (1953) - Intriguing, expressionistic but hapless-despite-ambition faux-Greek New York cheapie with Helmut Dantine as a Nazi. Radley Metzger was an assistant director.

The Bridges of Toko-Ri (1954) - Typical Korean War aviation propaganda.

Black Tuesday (1954 - b/w) - Again, watched this noir only cos of Edward G. Robinson, an actor who I like despite him being in films I mostly find uninteresting. I'm not a gangster man.

The Silver Chalice (1954) - Paul Newman hated this, his debut, a typical two hour plus semi-biblical potboiler, the 50s equivalent of a superhero film. Jack Palance is Simon the Pharisee. It's ludicrous, hard to take with an almost sci-fi, unrealistic smooth look. But it is camp. Also Lorne Greene's proper film debut (he'd been the voice of NFB newsreels for years). He brings gravitas as Saint Peter, and looks as old at 39 as he always would. Newman plays a heroic youth called Basil. Yes, how the Americans say it.

Betrayed (1954) - Generic Dutch-set war film with Clark Gable, Lana Turner, Victor Mature, an ancient-even then Wilfrid Hyde-White, much organ music, Ian Carmichael and Anton Diffring with a monocle.

Hell on Frisco Bay (1955) - Glossy but empty studio color crime film with Alan Ladd, Edward G. Robinson, Fay Wray and a young Aussie named Rodney Taylor.

Prince of Players (1955) - More early Richard Burton, this time as Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes. Padded out by Shakesperean recreations as tedious as the rest of the film.

The Glass Tomb (1955 - b/w) - John Ireland and Honor Blackman in generic carnival-set Hammer quickie.

The Left Hand of God (1955) - Tedious God-bothering with Bogie and Gene Tierney in China.
See also Satan Never Sleeps (1962) with William Holden.

The Ship That Died of Shame (1955 - b/w) - Despite the criminal subplot, this is an average marine war film with Richard Attenborough and George Baker.

Lust for Life (1956) - Not much interested in Van Gogh, sentimentalised too.

The Man Who Never Was (1956) - Decent, solid, above average British war movie with a convincing Clifton Webb. Lampooned by the Goons. Weirdly, Churchill is played by Peter Sellers' voice in this. Really beautifully shot. Oswald Morris as DOP.

Love in the Afternoon (1957 - b/w) - Generic Wilder, on a Monogram budget.

Sea Wife (1957) - Typical romantic melodrama of the era, with Joan Collins and Richard Burton.

Merry Andrew (1958) - Silly Danny Kaye circus musical set in a bizarre view of 50s England.

The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958) - Soppy colonial Japanese melodrama with John Wayne and sideburns. Up there with Phobia as John Huston's least.

The Journey (1959) - Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner in a dull Hungarian Cold War epic. David Kossoff and Robert Morley pop up, as does "Ronny" Howard.

The FBI Story (1959) - 2 and a half hours of FBI expose with James Stewart. Almost an anthology, doesn't work with a weird gung ho family sitcom tone. Even the South American Nazi stuff doesn't work.

The Music Man (1962)- A certain kind of all-American musical doesn't gel with me in its Rockwellian perfectness. This is an example.

The Double Man (1967) - Dreary ski-spy thriller with Britt Ekland and two Yul Brynners.

Our Mother's House (1967) - Annoyingly chirpy-creepy story of some sinister kids who give their annoying "father", Dirk Bogarde what he's getting. Obnoxious kids headed by Pamela Franklin include Mark Lester.

Before Winter Comes (1969) - Tonally confused, nothingy David Niven-John-Hurt-Topol vehicle.

The Sicilian Clan (1970) - Typical solid Eurocrime with Delon, Gabin and Ventura.

Watermelon Man (1970) - This is an intriguing curio, but it doesn't work, because what was intended as a wrongheaded idea of a progressive studio comedy with a white comedian blacking up is turned on its head, by getting angry black man Melvin Van Peebles in, who turns in something not unlike what Robert Downey Sr. was doing at the time - an experimental satire. He gets Godfrey Cambridge to whiten up, but he still looks like an African-American, a light-skinned one, as a white racist who turns black overnight. It feels confused, as to whether it's a sub-Jerry Lewis studio comedy or what Van Peebles would do with Sweet Sweetback. If it was by a white filmmaker, the lead character, Jeff would reunite with his wife and perhaps turn white again, but here, he tears his family apart and then decides to go out on his own and become a proud black man. There's novelty captions and Paul Williams, and it feels

The Horsemen (1971)  - Typical Europudding turgidity with Jack Palance and Omar Sharif as Afghan father and son. Set in the present day, but doesn't feel it. Almost a modern Maria Montez film.

Klute (1971) - Sleazy and unlikeable, not my thing.

Murphy's War (1971) - Unlikeable Irish-in-Venezuela war film with a drunken Peter O'Toole.

Black Gunn (1972) - Below-average studio exploitation with Jim Brown, technically a British production by Robert Hartford-Davies.

Ludwig (-1972) - No, I didn't sit through the whole four hours. Why should I?

40 Carats (1973) - The Graduate Goes To Greece.

Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1973) - It looks nice, but clearly Zeffirelli is ogling star Graham Faulkner, who probably got scarred for life, and as a result, didn't have the career people expected. Within a year, he was guesting on BBC soap Angels.  Alec Guinness looks like Padre Pio.

A Touch of Class (1973) - Typical 70s romantic comedy, nothing new.

The Phantom of Liberty (1974) - Feels like a generic French comedy despite Bunuel.

Cry of a Prostitute (1974) - Henry Silva and Barbara Bouchet in  a grim, sleazy Eurocrime that goes very odd.

Lucky Lady (1975) - Liza, Burt and Hackman and an incongruous Michael Hordern in a terrible tropical Sting.

Section Speciale (1975) - Costa-Gavras is too clinical a filmmaker for my taste.

Padre Padrone (1977) - Lovingly directed rustic moping from the Tavianis.

New York, New York (1977) - It tries too hard to be MGM, and ends up looking too false.

Caravans (1978) - Michael Sarrazin, Anthony Quinn, Jennifer O'Neill as a fridged maiden, Christopher Lee in this relatively tedious pre-revolutionian Iranian Europudding scored by Mike Batt.

Thank God It's Friday (1978) - Tacky and insubstantial disco comedy with Jeff Goldblum and Donna Summer.

Orchestra Rehearsal (1978) - It's an intriguing effort, it breaks the wall, it descends into madness, almost a bit Goodies, but it feels as if Fellini was told by Rai to make a South Bank Show-type documentary on the arts, and it resulted in this. Released in the US by New Yorker Films. Saw it on the Arrow disc.

The Long Riders (1980) - A typical New Hollywood western.

Wholly Moses (1980) - A good cast fail to help Life of Brian USA.

La tragedia di un uomo ridicolo (1981) - Dry and unsatisfying alleged comedy by Bertolucci, with Ugo Tognazzi.

Night of the Shooting Stars (1982) - The Tavainis' rustic cinema at its best, still feels like an Italian anthology series, but it was coproduced by Rai.

Gorky Park (1983) - Weird accent from William Hurt. Stolen by "and Alexei Sayle" and Henry Woolf, and Rikki Fulton.

Malena (1999) - Was that a real insect they killed?

Tuesday 14 January 2020


Disraeli (1929 - b/w) - Very stagey proto-sound biopic with George Arliss. Now really only watchable for its curiosity factor.

Prison Break (1938 - b/w) - Universal potboiler in prison, bought because it was a quid.

My Darling Clementine (1946 - b/w) - I can see it is a well-made western, but all westerns kind of feel the same, especially from this era.

Our Town (1940 - b/w) - Preachy, spiritual play does not work in film.

Bahama Passage (1941) - Bland colour exotica with a disconcertingly young and blond and hunky Sterling Hayden.

Reaching for the Sun (1941 - b/w) - Generic rural comedy set in Detroit with Joel McCrea.

Passport to Suez (1941 - b/w) - Generic series wartime propaganda tosh with Warren William as the Lone Wolf.

Heaven Can Wait (1943) - Agreeable fantasy farce, plus Laird Cregar in eyeshadow.

Frenchman's Creek (1944) - Typical pirate schlock with Joan Fontaine and Mexican star Arturo de Cordoba in a failed bid at US stardom, plus Rathbone and Bruce.

Pardon My Past (1945 - b/w) - Generic comedy with the gormless Fred MacMurray.

The Searching Wind (1946 - b/w) - Tedious period drama with Robert Young and Sylvia Sidney

Out of the Past (1947 - b/w) - Mitchum and Douglas in just another noir.

Crossfire (1947 - b/w) - Roberts Ryan, Mitchum and Young in another boilerplate cacophony of shadows. 

That Forsyte Woman (1949) - Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Errol Flynn, Robert Young and Janet Leigh in a technicolor, anachronistic bastardisation.

The Big Steal (1949) -  Another South of the border noir with Mitchum, mostly available in a washed  out Turnercolorisation.

The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) - A B-movie 2 and a half hours long that won the Oscar, and has James Stewart in clown makeup with Emmet Kelly. Cornel Wilde is an uninteresting lead, when Heston is there.

Destination Gobi (1953) - Richard Widmark in silly Americans plus Mongolians vs Japanese in WW2 actioner with unconvincing Mongols.

Thunder Bay (1953) - Turgid oil melodrama with James Stewart.

Prince Valiant (1954) - Generic medieval tosh with Robert Wagner as everyone's favourite Arthurian comic strip twink, James Mason, Janet Leigh, Sterling Hayden, Victor McLaglen, Debra Paget and random Vikings.

Night People (1954) - Generic color crime tosh with Gregory Peck.

A Lion in the Streets (1954) - Folksy rural semi-thriller (though with a light tone) with James Cagney.

Desiree (1954) - Lurid, forgettable period romance with Brando as Napoleon.

Dangerous Voyage (1954 - b/w) - Generic Merton Park suspenser with odd sci-fi stuff about gamma rays.

The Caine Mutiny (1954) - Not one for naval or courtroom dramas, no matter how well-enacted.

Soldier of Fortune (1955) - Unengrossing serial-style Yellow Peril-buster with Susan Hayward and Clark Gable.

The Prisoner (1955 - b/w) - Alec Guinness does his priest thing, in a film that is either pro-Communist or Anti-Communist.

23 Paces to Baker Street (1956) - Typical Hollywood-British mystery folderol with a Thamesside Baker Street, Van Johnson as a blind detective, and Maurice Denham on a rare trip to California.

Bigger Than Life (1956) - Soap opera psychodrama. I find James Mason completely unconvincing as an all-American dad and husband. He's just too British to convince as an ex-quarterback. It feels unlikeable.

A Farewell to Arms (1957) - Simultaneously richly sumptuous and bland-as-Nimble loaf Hemingway adap with Jennifer Jones and Rock trying to convince us he's not a twink. Bless.
See also The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952).

The Spirit of St Louis (1957) - A one-man show for James Stewart. Maybe, one of my better-liked Wilders. It looks gorgeous. The Irish stuff too. How much is location and how much is matte, I wonder?

Fire Down Below (1957) - Generic actioner with Lemmon, Mitchum and Hayworth, for Warwick.

The Roots of Heaven (1958) - Rather empty John Huston African saga, with Juliette Greco, an ageing Errol Flynn, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard.

Peyton Place (1958) - Overlong soap opera pilot-in-disguise.

The Old Man and the Sea (1958) - Spencer Tracy fights for a fish. It's good for a film mostly set at sea with Spencer making stressed faces.

The Blue Angel (1959) - Curt Jurgens and May Britt in a soppy, bright but idiotic remake in a Hollywood Germany.

Ferry to Hong Kong (1959) - Curt Jurgens, Sylvia Syms, Orson Welles and Noel Purcell in a bland, overlong Oriental actioner.

The Sound and the Fury (1959) - Another overlong soapie with Yul Brynner having hair.

Hannibal (1959)  - Opulent but tedious Edgar Ulmer peplum with Victor Mature and a camp, young bitchy Roman Mario Girotti, not yet reincarnated as Terence Hill.

SOS Pacific (1959 - b/w) - Richard Attenborough and Eddie Constantine in an unremarkable British war-disaster thing about a bunch of stranded folk about to be nuked.

Sink the Bismarck (1960 - b/w) - Generic, serviceable WW2 material.

Spare the Rod (1961) - A more serious Carry On Teacher with Max Bygraves and Donald Pleasence.

Light Up The Sky (1961) - Ian Carmichael, Benny Hill and Tommy Steele in forgettable military comedy.

Charade (1963) - Feels like a proto-De Palma without the voyeurism and gore, but with the slavish Hitchcock homage intact. It feels tonally at odds with itself.

The Cardinal (1963) - 3 hours of religious propaganda with a musical interlude from an annoying Robert Morse.

Zorba the Greek (1964) - Overlong, nonsensical, tonally all over the place. Arthouse slapstick with Anthony Quinn and Alan Bates. Tonally all over the place. Some people, e.g. Lila Kedrova play it like a farce.

Dry Summer (1964 - b/w) - Turkish arthouse melodrama in a quarry.

I am Cuba (1964-  b/w) - Far too expertly rendered travelogue for Mosfilm.

Harvey Middleman, Fireman (-1965) - Astonishingly not a student film. Only made through this halfway.

Georgy Girl (1966) - Cold, unlikeable, annoying little film. I hated the theme tune as a young lad trying to be macho, before my teenage twinkling. Still find it insufferable.

Madame X (1966) - Dreary, outdated, almost TV movie-level melodrama with Lana Turner, John Forsythe and Ricardo Montalban on the backlot.

A Guide for The Married Man (1967) - Another sex comedy with Matthau, this time a rather samey anthology.

The Bobo (1967) - Sellers at his sub-Chaplin worst. Self-indulgent, wastes Hattie Jacques, Sellers mostly there to ogle Britt Ekland.

Red, White and Zero (1967) - Richardson, Brook and Anderson's anthology. The Lindsay Anderson segment's fun, with Arthur Lowe still in Leonard Swindley mode. Tony Richardson's is there to recapture his dying love for Vanessa Redgrave, ogling her yet weirdly styling her to look like Lynn.

A Flea in her Ear (1968) - Idiotic farce, weird seeing Frank Thornton (and John Williams together) billed over Victor Sen Yung.

The Sergeant (1968) - 108 minutes of Rod Steiger lovingly staring at John Philip Law's chest.

Downhill Racer (1969) - Michael Ritchie tries to make a glamorous action film about skiing with Robert Redford in his prime, in the style of Ken Loach. So it's odd.

Staircase (1969) - This is a discovery. It's just 90 minutes of Richard Burton and Rex Harrison as a gay haidresser couple being bitchy, Harrison happy to be on TV, modelling coats on ITV, while Burton is bald and wears bandages to conceal it. And they visit their mums, even though Beatrix Lehmann is about Harrison's age. It's awful but joyous.

Mississippi Mermaid (1969) - Deneuve and Belmondo in what appears to be a Chabrol-ish thriller by Truffaut, but no, it's a romance.

The Frightened Woman (1969) - Ineffectual, artsy erotica from Italy.

Justine (1969) - A glossy, sleazy epic with a massive cast and transvestite Philippe Noiret. Anouk Aimee barely able to get in, despite being the title star. The camera is more interested in Michael York, while Dirk Bogarde plays himself. George Baker billed over Michael Dunn, Michael Constantine, Marcel Dalio, Severn Darden.

The Guru (1969) - Tiresome Merchant-Ivory semi-comedy about Michael York learning the sitar.

Marlowe (1969) - Everything about this feels televisual, even compared to other James Garner vehicles. It feels less cinematic than the Rockford Files, which it resembles far more than any other Philip Marlowe. Even the slightly-camp-Bruce Lee scene is like something from an action show of the era.

Tristana (1970)-  I don't really get this Bunuel. Almost telenovela-esque melodrama.

Connecting Rooms (1970) - Youth-chasing melodrama with mutton-dressed-as-lamb Bette Davis, Michael Redgrave and Alexis Kanner. Boring.

RPM (1970) - Student protest schlock. With his ridiculous haircut and orange shades, Anthony Quinn looks like a Hispanic Jimmy Savile, or Jaime Seville.

Bless the Beasts and The Children (1971) - Sub-Disney message movie about Bill Mumy and some summer camp lads trying to save buffalo.

Sleeping Beauty (1971) - East German adap, very Tales from Europe.

Blue Blood (1973) - Finally ticked this terrible film off my watch-list. Oliver Reed is a butler to a thick-haired fop Derek Jacobi. Involves camp big game hunters, orgies and nudity. Is mostly tinted red. And shot in Longleat, because it's actually written and produced by the Marquess of Bath.

Conversation Piece (1974) - It looks gorgeous, but it feels cheap.

Revolver (1974) - Solid Italian crime film, despite Oliver Reed being dubbed by an anonymous American.

Chinatown (1974) - It looks great, but it can't escape that trademark Polanski perviness.

California Split (1974) - Just Segal and Gould wandering about, gambling and occasionally bullying Bert Remsen as a transwoman.

The Iceman Cometh (1974) - 3 hours of hellraisers getting drunk.

Chinese Roulette (1976) - Fassbinder domestic drama. 

Obsession (1976) - Brian DePalma can fuck off. Romanticising incest as a shock.

Stroszek (1977) - Herzog does Wenders.

The Swiss Conspiracy (1977) - A rewatch. David Janssen sounds like Kevin Spacey as Francis Urquwood (Or whatever House of Cards USA calls the lead)  in this  generic, nonsensical, almost TV-level Euro-actioner with an interesting cast - Senta Berger, John Ireland and John Saxon, Elke Sommer, Ray Milland, Anton Diffring, Arthur Brauss, Curt Lowens, David Hess, directed by Jack Arnold.

Days of Heaven (1978) - Nice scenery, but one does not connect with the characters.  I feel much the same with Badlands (1973).

The Fifth Musketeer (1979) - Richard Lester rip-off without energy or entertainment value, just a load of old stars (Lloyd and Beau Bridges!) plus Emmanuelle and Lovejoy in their brief love affair.

10 (1979) - Blake Edwards' mid-life crisis.

Trances (1981) - Moroccan music documentary.

Bloody Birthday (1981) - A rewatch. Sporadically entertaining, but slapdash codswallop with more holes than a sieve. Desperately wants to be Halloween. Ends up feeling like a made for TV kids' film shown during the week between Christmas and New Year that goes wrong.

Return of the Secaucus Seven (1980) - Not my thing. Very prime indie drama from John Sayles, without the excitement and sizzle of his genre work.

Lianna (1982) - Arty lesbian John Sayles.

Night Shift (1982) - Bland 80s prostitution-comedy by Richie Cunningham, starring the Fonz.

Invasion USA (1985) - I've tried to enjoy Chuck Norris and his films, but he' a brick. He doesn't have the star quality and character appeal of Bronson or the presence of Van Damme or Lundgren.

Revenge (1989) - Kazakh Asian drama that opens with scenes of a tortoise uncannily like the One Foot in the Grave titles. It feels unconvincing and artificial.

Bert Rigby, You're A Fool (1989) - This Carl Reiner vehicle for Robert Lindsay as a musical-obsessed Northern miner  aiming for Hollywood feels like a particularly ambitious but flawed Screen Two.

The Specialist (1994) - Stallone, Stone and Steiger in ludicrous, glossy but empty pulp, like a PM Entertainment movie with a hundred times the budget, and a soundtrack by John Barry that is just off-cuts (the opening theme was used as a minor track in Starcrash).

Tuesday 7 January 2020


Reaching for the Moon (1930) - Forgettable Douglas Fairbanks Jnr. comedy.

Prestige (1932 - b/w) - Melvyn Douglas in another generic colonial romance.

Liliom (1934 - b/w) - Charles Boyer in a carnival-ish, somewhat Cocteau-esque fantasy by Fritz Lang.

Night Life of the Gods (1935 - b/w) - Time-killing animated statues comedy with Alan Mowbray.

Passing of the Third Floor Back (1935 - b/w) - Preachy religious drama with Conrad Veidt.

13 Hours by Air (1936 - b/w) - Dreary disaster movie with Fred MacMurray, Joan Bennett and both Hammer American Quatermasses in Brian Donlevy and Dean Jagger.

Fury (1936 - b/w) - Wrong-man drama with Spencer Tracy, bland, slightly preachy programmer despite Fritz Lang directing.

Slave Ship (1937 - b/w) - Tedious maritime drama with Wallace Beery and Mickey Rooney.

Port of Seven Seas (1938 - b/w) - Another forgettable Wallace Beery drama, with Mad Maureen O'Sullivan, by James Whale.

Enemy Agent (1940 - b/w) - This Universal spy caper is deathly dull.

The Chcolate Soldier (1941 - b/w) - Nelson Eddy alleged comedy. Hard work.

They Dare Not Love (1941 - b/w) - Bland wartime romance by James Whale, despite small roles from Peter Cushing and Lloyd Bridges.

I Married A Witch (1942 - b/w) - A basic, somewhat likeable but basic romantic screwball-comedy with some fantasy elements. Veronica Lake, never an actress, only a haircut.

Alaska Highway (1943 - b/w) - Generic, undistinguished Paramount western in the snow.

The Impostor (1944 - b/w) - Jean Gabin in a stodgy French foreign Julian Duvivier Universal noir.

Sudan (-1945) - Slapsticky, sub-Stooges comedy abounds in this schlocky Maria Montez thing set  in Egypt (despite the title). Rewatch.

The Corn is Green (1945 - b/w) - Terrible Welsh racist caricature-ness from Hollywood, Bette Davis miscast.

Night in Paradise (1946) - Nonsensical Eastern fantasy about Aesop, with Merle Oberon and Thomas Gomez.

Temptation (1946 - b/w) - Torturous Universal gothic romance in Egypt.

Song of Scheherazade (1947) - Yvonne De Carlo in a plotless musical exotica allegedly about Rimsky-Korsakov.
See also Slave Girl (1947) - De Carlo fully in the Maria Montez mould, but it lacks any style and the only highlight is a talking camel?!?!

Call Northside 777 (1948) -  Generic, documentary-like noir with James Stewart and Richard Conte.

Casbah (1948-  b/w) - Pepe le Moko - the Universal exotica musical.

Noose (1948 - b/w) - Bland British noir with Carole Landis and Derek Farr.

Sword in the Desert (1948 - b/w) - Dreary pro-Israeli propaganda. Interestingly has Dana Andrews and Liam Redmond together before Night of the Demon.

The Reckless Moment (1949 - b/w) - Suburban noir-melodrama. Not quite my thing, but James Mason is solid, and his Irish accent is decent, but it's hard to judge, because his voice is so unique and so singular that it kind of overrides the accent.

An American Guerrilla in the Philippines  (1950) - A typical war movie with Tyrone Power and lots of folk done up as Filipinos.

Captain Carey, USA (1950 - B/W) - Undistinguished melodrama in the war with Alan Ladd.

My Forbidden Past (1951 -b/w) - Stodgy period drama/noir with Ava Gardner and Robert Mitchum.

Lorna Dorne (1951) - A dated film, even for the era. Richard Greene struggles to emote under his doubloon.

The Golden Horde (1951) - Another identikit bit of Universal exotica with Ann Blyth and some Mongols and ex-Sexton Blake David Farrar as an English knight.

Flame of Araby (1951) - Terrible desert Arab nonsense from Universal with Maureen O'Hara. Yes,I am queer enough to continue watching this shite.

Valentino (1951) - Dreadful biopic with the wooden Anthony Dexter.

The Lavender Hill Mob (1951 - b/w) - Daffy but there's something Ealing comedies that don't appeal.

Clash by Night (1952 - b/w) - Fritz Lang does a suburban kitchen sink drama with Barbara Stanwyck. Not quite my thing, but he tries.

Lure of the Wilderness (1952) - Jeffrey Hunter in a bland redo of Swamp Water.

Three for Bedroom C (1952) - Bland comedy with a post-Norma Desmond Gloria Swanson.

Kangaroo (1952) - Desperate Aussie western with Maureen O'Hara.

Scandal at Scourie (1953) -Average romantic drama with Rigsby's favourites, Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon.

King of the Khyber Rifles (1953) - Average actioner with Tyrone Power fighting browned-up stuntmen in turbans.

Botany Bay (1953) - Tedious shipbound antics with James Mason and Alan Ladd.

The Story of Three Loves (1953 - b/w) - James Mason, Leslie Caron, Kirk Douglas as Burt Lancaster, Moria Shearer, Zsa Zsa Gabor and a horribly bratty Ricky Nelson in a romantic anthology. Sub-Powell and Pressburger. Its theme is the theme from the South Bank Show by Paganini.

Ring of Fear (1954) - Bright but uncaptivating circus mystery with Mickey Spillane as himself.

The Seekers (1954) - Early New Zealand-shot fare from Universal with Jack Hawkins, Glynis Johns, Noel Purcell and an exceedingly twinky, curly-haired Kenneth Williams. It feels like a lost world fantasy movie, not unlike what Universal would do on the lot, but with a better cast. Inia Te Wiata plays the cannibal Maori chieftain, who yes, is a complete racist caricature, but at least, he's played by an actual Maori unlike the main girl, played by Laya Raki, one of those myriad "exotic" sorts who were European but lied about their ethnicity.  It's actually quite fun, and Ken Annakin's direction feels more dynamic than it should.  It feels weirdly Hammer-ish. A discovery of 2020.

Brigadoon (1954) - Van Johnson and Gene Kelly in a Scotland that looks more like a post-apocalyptic fantasyland.

Black  Widow (1954) - Turgid melodrama-noir with Ginger Rogers and Gene Tierney.

The Flame and the Flesh (1954) - Turgid melodrama with Lana Turner and Bonar Colleano.

The Big Combo (1955 - b/w) - Relatively well-made but otherwise average but-above-average-for-Allied Artists noir with Cornel Wilde.

Simon and Laura (1955) - Dull romcom set at the BBC with Kay Kendall and Peter Finch.s

Untamed (1955) - Tyrone Power in an Irish western in Africa. Basically a western with African tribesemen.

Jupiter's Darling (1955) - Howard Keel and Esther Williams in aquatic peplum tosh.

The Prodigal (1955) - Miserable if lurid biblical tosh with Edmond Purdom and Lana Turner.

A Man Called Peter (1956) - Richard Todd as a top US chaplain. Loses momentum when it leaves Glasgow in the first ten minutes.

The Iron Petticoat (1956) - Generic Bob Hope comedy with Katharine Hepburn. Not even being made in Britain helps.

Written on the Wind (1956) - Douglas Sirk's soap operas I can see they're well-made, and some have power, but this doesn't really appeal.
Ditto All that Heaven Allows (1955), The Tarnished Angels (1957 - b/w), Has Anybody Seen My Gal (1952), All I Desire (1950 - b/w).

That Certain Feeling (1956) - Dreary Bob Hope comic-strip-com.
See also Beau James (1957) - Bob goes serious.

While the City Sleeps (1956 - b/w) - Generic noir, despite Fritz Lang direction and Vincent Price as a camp masseuse.
Beyond A Reasonable Doubt (1956 - b/w) - Ditto. Descends into courtroom tedium.

The Sun Also Rises (1957) - Interesting that the film that unites Tyrone and Errol is not a swashbuckler but Hemingway. It's overlong, it's bloated, it's basically a holiday for the cast, but there is something poignant seeing these two former icons of male adventure, both about to die prematurely. Flynn is so burnt-out that he's now a supporting player.

The Enemy Below (1957)/Run Silent, Run Deep (1958) - I don't enjoy submarine movies.

Mark of the Hawk (1957) - Another middling African sojourn with Sidney Poitier.

The Lady Takes a Flyer (1957)  - Shonky aviation romcom with Lana Turner and Jeff Chandler.

Five Steps to Danger (1957 - b/w) - Dreary noir with Sterling Hayden.

This Angry Age (1957 - b/w) - Tawdry DeLaurentiis melodrama.

John Paul Jones (1959) - Lacklustre Spanish-shot Bronston epic with Robert Stack. Interesting to see Peter Cushing centre stage in such an epic billed above the likes of Bruce Cabot.

Three Murderesses (1959) - Baffling French 3 girls comedy with Mylene Demongeot, Pascale Petit, Jacqueline Sassard and Alain Delon and his lovely back.

A Stranger in my Arms  (1959 - b/w) - Sub-Sirk soap opera with June Allyson and Jeff Chandler.

Killers of Kilimanjaro (1960) - Forgettable Warwick eady levy exotica schlock.

Wild River (1960) - Another rural epic drama that I suppose is fine, but I don't warm to.

Atomic War Bride (1960 -b/w) - Dreary Yugoslavian apocalypse.

No Kidding (1960) - Unfunny comedy where Leslie Phillips and Geraldine McEwan look after some kids, including Francesca Annis.

The Honeymoon Machine (1961) - Inoffensive, bland studio romcom with Steve McQueen, about to be too big for this kind of trifle, and Jim Hutton and Paula Prentiss, who ended up being stuck in this kind of trifle.

The Spiral Road (1962) - Lurid, walnut juice-heavy Indonesian-set drama with Rock Hudson, Burl Ives, Gena Rowlands, Geoffrey Keen in an obvious wig and a browned-up Reggie Nalder.

Dark Purpose (1964) Ross Hunter-ish giallo melodrama with Shirley Jones, Rossano Brazzi and George Sanders.

Weekend at Dunkirk (1964) - Repetitive Jean Paul Belmondo wartime saga, with  Catherine Spaak, Kenneth Haigh, Ronald Howard, Nigel Stock...

The Fortune Cookie (1966 - b/w) - Zippy if generic Billy Wilder comedy. On DVD.

Great Catherine (1968) -Terrible, raucous alleged comedy, much overacting by Zero Mostel and Peter O'Toole, while Jeanne Moreau smirks. Intended to launch Kate O'Mara as a movie star.

The Odd Couple (1968) - It's alright, but not my humour.

The Fixer (1968) - Alan Bates goes on a long slog through Jewish Russia, and we have to go with him. Pity.

Tante Zita (1968) - Joanna Shimkus, or Joanna, Lady Poitier stars in this arty, pervy Euro-nonsense.

Midnight Cowboy (1969) - It's certainly a memorable, visual film that captures 60s New York, but it also repulses.  It does feel like what it is, which is a film about America by Brits. And maybe because of the East Coast location and Filmways coproduction, it's not exactly a studio picture.

The Haunted House of Horror (1969) - A mess of a slasher, but there's some nice stuff in there. But fingers in the pie (the casting of Frankie Avalon, a cluttered script) mean this British slasher doesn't come off as it should.

The Statue (1971) - This David Niven sexcom about Esperanto and a ceramic dick isn't quite as bad as I expected. It has a young John Cleese at the height of Py-thonnnnn (as Americans say), and it has grainy footage of BBC Television Centre, which is always a plus, before cutting to a replica of the beloved building's interior in Cinecitta, which is also always a plus.

Alfredo, Alfredo (1972) - Average Italian comedy that somehow has Dustin Hoffman.

The Heartbreak Kid (1972) - Typical 70s dramedy with Charles Grodin. Lots of dinner scenes.

The Great Gatsby (1974) - Soft-focus New Hollywood romanticism with that awful woman.

Flesh of the Orchid (1975) - Atmospheric but dreary-in-that-French-way adaptation of a James Hadley Chase novel, a sequel to No Orchids, starring Charlotte Rampling, Bruno Cremer, Simone Signoret and Alida Valli.

Picnic (1955) - A tedious period drama.

The Turning Point (1977) - Shirley MacLaine has the look of Cilla Black. It's a well-made film, but it doesn't do anything. I am not a fan of the ballet.

Fire Sale (1977) - Mediocre ensemble comedy with Sid Caesar and Alan Arkin.

Manhattan (1979) - Is Mariel Hemingway  supposed to be a normal seventeen year old or one with the brain of a forty year old? If it was shot in colour, it'd feel sleazier.

Fame (1980) - It doesn't feel like a proper film, just an endless montage of nonsense. Odd that this became a kids' show.

Gallipoli (1981) - Peter Weir's best film.

Back Roads (1981) - Dreary road movie with Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones.
See also Dennis Quaid in the similar hicksploiter Tough Enough (1983).

A Midsummer's Night Sex Comedy (1982) - Woody Allen and pals do a Bergman fanfilm.

Madman (1982) - A typical, grim slasher.

Betrayal (1983) - Patricia Hodge, Jeremy Irons and Ben Kingsley are in a love triangle backwards. Based on Pinter. Could have been a TV play.

The Dresser (1983) - Tom Courtenay is flamingly annoying.

The Hotel New Hampshire (1984) - Tony Richardson's American Play-Animal House.

Ginger and Fred (1985) - It's basically an Italian TV special with a story, and there's nothing wrong with that, especially if by Fellini, and he gets Italian light ent in a way Peter Chelsom gets British light ent.

Emma's War (1985) - Sullivans-esque thing by Clytie Jessop with Miranda Otto and Lee Remick.

Underworld (1985) - Oh shit, this is awful. Larry Lamb in action hero mode in a proto-Nightbreed from Clive Barker. Dirty Denholm, over-acting gangster Steven Berkoff, Art Malik, Miranda Richardson and Ingrid Pitt fail to help.
Rawhead Rex (1986), the followup though is almost an encapsulation of my childhood.

Bad Medicine (1985) - Duff comedy set in a South American banana republic with Alan Arkin, Steve Guttenberg, Julie Hagerty, Gilbert Gottfried and Eileen Way as Arkin's mother.