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).

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