Thursday 6 February 2020


Storm at Daybreak (1933 - b/w) - Average faux-Eastern European MGM epic.

42nd Street (1933 - b/w)  -A groundbreaking musical. Not what I'd enjoy, but it is well-formed.

Anna Karenina (1935 - b/w) - Garbo moans.

Ninotchka (1939 - b/w) - Typical screwballer.

Johnny Apollo (1940 - b/w) - Tyrone Power in undistinguished gangster drama.

For Freedom (1940 - b/w) - Maurice Elvey-helmed WW2 propaganda piece with WillFyffe. A mix of documentary, stock footage and drama. Endlessly padded.

Destination Unknown (1942 - b/w) - More forgettable William Gargan action.

Busses Roar (1942 - b/w) - Studio b-picture about a bus bomb. Unmemorable. Willie Best does his thing.

This Above All (1942 - b/w) - Sickly sweet sentimental blitz saga on the Fox lot with Tyrone Power, Joan Fontaine and a tache-less yokel Nigel Bruce.

Crash Dive (1943) - Anne Baxter, Tyrone and Dana Andrews in generic WW2 sub-related propaganda.

Tomorrow is Forever (1944) - Chintzy Orson Welles/Claudette Colbert/George Brent romantic melodrama.

None Shall Escape (1944 - b/w) - Shonky western-set-doubling-as-Germany Nazi trail cheapie with Alexander Knox.

Rome Open City (1945) - Neorealism, well-constructed but not my bag, but it works.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945 - b/w) - Well-made Oirish sentimentality.

The Bishop's Wife (1947 - b/w)/Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948 - b/w) - Cary Grant carries on. Not my type of humour.

It Always Rains on Sunday (1947 - b/w) - Ealing neorealism.

Unfaithfully Yours (1948 - b/w) - Seeing Rex Harrison murder his wife is too close to home, knowing what he did to Carole Landis.

Against the Wind (1948 - b/w) - Ealing noir/average wartime resistance yarn with Robert Beatty and Simone Signoret. Nicely shot prison scenes.

Helter Skelter (1949 - b/w) - David Tomlinson and Carol Marsh star in this BBC-set Gainsborough variety show, but the cast include Jon Pertwee billed over the tache-tastic duo of Terry-Thomas and Jimmy Edwards. Typical variety show comedy, with lots of acts mushed together and a limited, loose plot.

On Our Merry Way (1948) - Fonda, Laughton (in the restored cut), Lamour, Meredith, MacMurray, Stewart and others in this sentimental radio-sourced anthology from Arch Oboler.

Fixed Bayonets (1951 - b/w) - Typical Korean war material from Sam Fuller.

Diplomatic Courier (1952 - b/w) - Average European-set espionage noir with Tyrone Power, Hildegarde Neff, Patricia Neal and Karl Malden.

Viva Zapata (1952 - b/w) - Preachy faux-Mexican Brando.

Come Back Little Sheba (1952 -b/w) - Overblown Southern melodrama.

High Noon (1952 - b/w) - Just another western. Gary Cooper - an old face on a young-looking body. Forgot that Lon Chaney turns up.

The Yellow Balloon (1953 - b/w) - Atmospheric J. Lee Thompson quickie where Andrew Ray is a schoolboy who falls into London street crime.

The Juggler (1953 - b/w) - Kirk Douglas lollops about Israel doing Senor Wences impressions.

The Million Pound Note (1954) - Average 50s smiler comedy with Gregory Peck.

Summertime (1955) - Brief Encounter Abroad.

The Virgin Queen (1955) - Bette Davis in thick makeup and baldcap plays a sexless Liz R in this ridiculous slice of Fox period pulp with Richard Todd and Joan Collins. Rod Taylor, who the aul wan confuses with Todd ("which fella's the Australian?") appears as a Welshman.

Yangtse Incident (1957 - b/w) - Weird to see Richard Todd and William Hartnell billed over both Akim Tamiroff and Keye Luke, in this well-assembled British war saga.  Tamiroff, an Armenian is an unconvincing Chinese , with his accent, but he could be an Uyghur.

China Gate (1957) - Sam Fuller-directed Indochine war saga. Nat King Cole is a surprisingly convincing badass who has a non-diagetic  musical number (which breaks reality).  Angie Dickinson is an unconvincing Eurasian.  Interesting little film ripe for rediscovery.

Hot Spell (1958 - b/w) - Overbaked drama, despite Shirley Booth wondrously showboating alongside Anthony Quinn.

Strangers When We Meet (1958) - RIP Kirk, great actor and presence, but utterly despicable human being. But this is a typical soapie melodrama. Weird to see a serious Ernie Kovacs.

Expresso Bongo (1959 - b/w) - Interesting satire, but casting Cliff Richard playing a satire on Tommy Steele who is altered to be less of a parody kind of kills the joke, and Laurence Harvey is intolerable.

Crimson Kimono (1959 - b/w) - Routne but groundbreaking Japanese-American crime film by Sam Fuller, a reversal of House of Bamboo, with James Shigeta.

Solomon and Sheba (1959) - Typically camp biblical epic (Jean Anderson especially), with Yul Brynner drafted in to replace the corpse of Tyrone Power. Gina Lollobrigida does her thing.

Murder Inc (1960 - b/w) - Dreary TV-ish gangster schlock with Peter Falk.

Tunes of Glory (1960) - Tonally confused drama, has the feel of a caper, with Alec Guinness looking like a DC Thomson comic idea of a Scot, with outrageous red hair, and there's a cheery Scotland the Brave-driven theme, but it's actually a depressing, dark drama shot like a comedy. It even mentions Muffin the Mule.

Breathless (1960 - b/w) - Fuck off, Godard.

Conspiracy of Hearts (1960 - b/w) - A US teleplay about nuns saving Jewish kids from Nazis adapted as a typical, stiff war movie/women's picture starring Lilli Palmer and Sylvia Syms. Of course, David Kossoff has to pop up.

Who Was That Lady (1960 - b/w) - A Martin and Lewis comedy except it is Tony Curtis instead of Joseph Levitch.

A Touch of Larceny (1960 - b/w) - Dreary James Mason-Vera Miles-George Sanders comedy.

School for Scoundrels (1960 - b/w) - Typical Ian Carmichael comedy.

Madison Avenue (1961 - b/w) - Dana Andrews in last-minute attempt to revive his career in an undistinguished romantic ad-drama.

Sanctuary (1961 - b/w) - Tony Richardson Hollywood bollocks, Southern gothic with Lee Remick.

Underworld U.S.A. (1961 - b/w) - Gritty, unlikeable Sam Fuller noir.

West Side Story (1961) - It breezes along.

Inherit the Wind (1961 - b/w) - Powerful, despite being a courtroom drama. But hey, WGN product placement!

Days of Wine and Roses (1962 - b/w) - Blake Edwards tries to be Billy Wilder. However, it was interesting to see a Felix (Jack Lemmon) from one universe interacting with another Oscar (Klugman). A slight too depressing for my taste.

The War Lover (1962 - b/w) - Typical wartime saga with Steve McQueen, Shirley Anne Field and annoying American Michael Crawford.

The Servant (1962  - b/w) - James Fox and Dirk Bogarde, now there's two terrible toffs. It has a distractingly bright, almost video-like texture. Technically an AIP picture. Nice to see Wendy Craig in a big part.

The Counterfeit Traitor (1962) - Tried watching this overlong Scandinavian-set Nazi melodrama with Richard Widmark, Lilli Palmer and Hugh Griffith before, but after Scorsese recommended it, tried again. Nah.

Advise and Consent (1962) - Typical Washington discussion.

Escape from East Berlin (1962 - b/w) - Forgettable, unexciting cheapie with Don Murray, Christine Kaufmann and for once in actual Germany, Werner Klemperer, pre-Hogan's Heroes.

Act One (1963 - b/w) - Dreadful Broadway biopic of Moss Hart with George Hamilton. A pre-fame Cary Grant/Archie Leach is played by American-accented Robert Powell-alike Bert Convy.

The Thin Red Line (1964 - b/w) - Cheap and nasty adaptation with Keir Dullea and Jack Warden in uniforms with stick-on-emblems.

36 Hours (1964 - b/w) - James Garner and Rod Taylor and Eva Marie Saint in a Roald Dahl adap (for legal reasons, initially an unofficial adaptation but then Pat Neal noticed when offered the script). The first ten minutes in ably capture Dahl's tone with the evil Nazi English charlady in the fake BOAC office, but it all goes a bit pear-shaped once we go to Lisbon. Ably uses Taylor's wonky American accent as a German-American. It feels padded.

Kiss Me, Stupid (1964 - b/w) - Autopilot Wilder. Celebrity paradox - George (and Irene Ira) Gershwin wrote the story, but is mentioned. Nice to see Ray Walston in a big lead.

The Train (1964 - b/w) - Somehow never found this film enjoyable or entertaining.

Fate is the Hunter (1964 - b/w) - Turgid aircraft drama with Glenn Ford, Nancy Kwan, greyed-up Rod Taylor and Jane Russell as herself.

Wild Seed (1965 - b/w) - Naturalistic teen docudrama with Michael Parks and Celia Kaye.

The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) - Just another generic bundle of lies scraped together and called a biopic. Heston isn't really Michelangelo. Rex Harrison just horrid enough to be the Pope.

The Bedford Incident (1965 - b/w) - Dry wartime submarine antics with Widmark and Poitier.

King Rat (1965 - b/w) - Not a panto, despite the title, but Geoffrey Bayldon is billed over Richard Dawson, a peculiar mix of British character faces (Rossiter, Gerald Sim, Alan Webb, John Ronane, Reg Lye) and American-based RentaBrits plus Fox, Mills, Courtenay, Denholm Elliott, a typical WW2 POW "joint".

Blow-Up (1966) - Tries to be a genre film, but refuses. A load of prettily-shot Swinging London nonsense. Product placement for the Daily Mail and Peter Bowles jar with the countercultural tone.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966 - b/w) - Sandy Dennis and George Segal are annoyed by the shouting of Burton and Taylor, and so are we.

The Group (1966) - Jessica Walter, Elizabeth Hartman, Joan Hackett, Shirley Knight, Joanna Pettet, Candace Bergen, plus Kathleen Widdoes and Mary Robin Redd are the titular gang of college students in this epic. Stodgy, but it's interesting to see Larry Hagman in  a crack at film leading man status, plus Richard Mulligan and George Gaynes and Hal Holbrook turn up. Feels like Sandy Dennis should be in there too, but she isn't.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) - That Sidney Potter's a good actor, inne Rodney? He's marvellous in this. But it's a typical preachy Hollywood "black people are okay, m'kay" treatise. It even has a treacly theme.

Up the Down Staircase (1967) - Peculiar but interesting high school film with Sandy Dennis as a teacher, plus Eileen Heckart, Jean Stapleton and a rare lead for Irish actor Patrick Bedford, who had a mostly UK-based career, including appearances in two separate body-snatcher-type British SF series, ITV's Undermind and BBC's Counterstrike. This was his one attempt at film stardom post-a Tony win for his role in Philadelphia, Here I Come!

The Road to Corinth (1967) - Lush but bog-standard-in-most-respects Eurospy from Claude Chabrol.

Bye Bye Braverman (1968) - A decent cast and a proper immersive dive into New York of the era help this otherwise unpromising-sounding Jewish comedy.

The Ruthless Four (1968) - An interesting western, almost SF of the past. Van Heflin gives too good a performance for this kind of film. Gilbert Roland looks great for his age.

Sweet Charity (1969) - What is this supposed to be, Fosse? A Hollywoodisation of Fellini in musical form?

Last Summer (1969) - Excellently produced but depressing teen-drama. Tried watching it before, but after reading about Catherine Burns, who got nominated for an Oscar for her heartbreaking performance, but never rode to the heights of costars Barbara Hershey, Bruce Davison and Richard Thomas, gave it a go.

Catch-22  (1970) - Thought I had reviewed this already. An unwatchable crack of countercultural shite. M*A*S*H with the wrong Alan.

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1970) - Hateful.

Ulzana's Raid (1972) - An interesting western, focusing on the Natives, with a shoehorned Burt Lancaster. But it looks so flat and TV, compared to the Italian stuff from the era.

Sans Mobile Apparent (1971) - French 87th Precinct with Jean Louis Trintignant, Dominique Sanda and Sacha Distel, at the height of his crooning stardom.
See also another French Ed McBain, the creepy Quebecois Anglophone Claude Chabrol Europud that is Blood Relatives (1979).

Sleuth (1972) - A rewatch. Hmm. I find it hard to like, yet I love the set.

Black Mama, White Mama (1973) - This isn't made to be a good film. It's just made so we can see Pam Grier and Margaret Markov kick ass and do the Defiant Ones, and it does that, so it achieves its goal.

Breezy (1973)  - Amiable Clint Eastwood-directed romcom about an older man (William Holden) and a hippie teen (Kay Lenz) who fall in love. Happily ends, unlike a few other films of the era (Fools with Jason Robards).

Black Samson (1974) - Simultaneously horribly grim and outrageously camp blaxploiter with the awesomely built Rockne Tarkington and his pet lion fighting nasty gangsters William Smith and a tache-less Titos Vandis.

Innocents with Dirty Hands (1975) - Chabrol does an average 70s erotic thriller with Steiger and Schneider.

Pipe Dreams (1976) - Gladys Knight goes to Alaska, in a vanity vehicle produced by her real-life abusive husband.

Family Plot (1976) - Hitchcock does a TV movie of the week for Universal TV, but it got released in cinemas. About as cinematic as a Columbo. Actually, less so.

Hitch-Hike (1977) - Extraordinarily odd Italian horror/thriller/treatise of the horror of man, with Franco Nero, Corinne Clery and David Hess, set in a wonderfully odd recreation of New Mexico or Nevada or the generic modern American west in Italy. It's an Italian spaghetti western setting a hundred years later. With fake KFCs and Euro-Texaco stations.

F.I.S.T. (1978) - Not an action, but a sweeping drama about Hoffa, with Sylvester Stallone. Sheffield doubles for Cleveland (Walter Spencer's factory name is visible). Gene Corman produces, but it feels like one of his brother's gangster pictures with a budget. Norman Jewison directs.

Hero at Large (1980) - John Ritter is mistaken as a real superhero while promoting a cheapo-looking movie, Captain Avenger in a cheesy, TV movie-like comedy.

Chinese Stuntman (1981) - Bruce Li gives it his all, but the cut-price production cuts through.

Housekeeping (1987) - Bill Forsyth struggles in Canada.It has a very Vancouver indie feel, a la My American Cousin.

The Fourth Protocol (1987) - A decent if overlong Michael Caine vehicle, a thriller based on a Frederick Forsyth novel, clearly indebted to Le Carre (Ian Richardson basically does Bill Haydon again), with a stonking cast (Pierce Brosnan as the evil Soviet baddie, Ned Beatty, Joanna Cassidy, Julian Glover, Michael Gough, Ray McAnally, Ian Richardson, Anton Rodgers, Caroline Blakiston, Joseph Brady, Matt Frewer, Betsy Brantley, Alan North, Ronald Pickup, Mick Ford, Philip Jackson). It begins with Michael Bilton as Kim Philby getting shot by Russians (all played by Americans or Irish actors doing American-ish accents) and then Brosnan tries to plant a homemade nuke at a US air base. It feels exceedingly Thatcher's Britain. Wrestler Big Daddy appears in a cameo, as Brosnan's introduction to decadent western television is World of Sport.

Withnail and I (1987) - It's just a jumped-up Screen Two or Film on Four.

Madame Bovary (1991) - Dull-but-worthy Chabrol-directed Flaubert adap with Isabelle Huppert.

Heart and Souls (1993) - Schamltzy sub-Burton retro-fantasy comedy with Robert Downey Jr.

Canadian Bacon (1995) - Poor John Candy. Michael Moore is a gobshite, anyway. Still, Anne Murray sings the most haunting song of my childhood.

Ronin (1998) - A decent 70s Europudding thriller that happens to have been made in 1998.

Run Lola Run (1999) - Like an episode of Tatort for the post-Lock Stock gen.

Love is the Devil (1999) - Proto-BBC4 biopic with Derek Jacobi as Francis Bacon  and pre-Bond Daniel Craig, plus Adrian Scarborough as horror-book maestro Daniel Farson. Sleazy nonsense. It feels so telly that it is impossible to imagine this in a cinema.

Flower of Evil (2003)  - Slow Chabrol mediocrity.


Love Comes Along (1930 - b/w) - Early talkie musical comedy with Bebe Daniels.

Forbidden Adventure (1931 - b/w) - Pre-code kiddie comedy about kids wandering about. A mess. Edna May Oliver does her thing.

There's Always Tomorrow (-1934 - b/w) - Tedious romance with Frank Morgan and Binnie Barnes.

Stanley and Livingstone (1939 - b/w) - Mix of staid jungle theatrics and actual travelogue footage with Spencer Tracy and Richard Greene.

The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938 - b/w) - Not as amazing as the title suggests. Another Bogie/Edward G crime story.

Confessions of  A Nazi Spy (1939 - b/w) - Edward G. Robinson-helmed propaganda, with California badly doubling for Germany.

Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940 - b/w) - Another Edward G. biopic, solidly furnished, lush but full of unconvincing mittel-Europeana.

The Old Maid (1939 - b/w)/All This and Heaven Too (1940 - b/w)/The Great Lie (1941 - b/w)/In This Our Life (1942 - b/w)/Deception (1946 - b/w) - Bette Davis women's pictures.

They Won't Believe Me (1947 - b/w) - Even the title is generic in this Robert Young noir.

Mark of the Renegade (1951) - Bland exotica Mexican-set swshbuckler with Ricardo Montalban.

Act of Love (1953 - b/w) - Tiresome Kirk Douglas-Dany Robin romance. The only novelty is that Leslie Dwyer is billed over Sydney Chaplin and Brigitte Bardot.

Santiago (1956) - Nothingy Alan Ladd western, only distinguishing factor is it is set in the Chilean swamp-jungles.

Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (1959) - Pretty romantic comedy directed by Jean Renoir that is deliberately styled to look like his dad's paintings.

The Siege of Syracuse (1960) - Forgettable peplum with Rossano Brazzi as Archimedes.

The Colossus of Rhodes (1960) - Sergio Leone's debut. A typical pelum, but with some spectacular tableaux (the raid on the titular statue), but with Rory Calhoun and the Gordon Mitchell-ish Georges Marchal, star of Chateuavallon, it feels interchangeable with the other sword and sandal marathons.

Five Miles to Midnight (1961 - b/w) - Unmemorable stalker-ish Eurothriller with Sophia Loren and Anthony Perkins in France.

13 West Street (1962 - b/w) - Undistinguished Alan Ladd vs JDs cheapie.

All Fall Down (1962 - b/w) - Unlikeable melodrama with Warren Beatty as someone called Berry-Berry, Eva Marie Saint, Brandon de Wilde, Karl Malden and Angela Lansbury playing older. Saint plays Beatty's (admittedly "old maid") girlfriend, Lansbury his mother. Saint is older than Lansbury.

Zotz (1963 - b/w) - Disney-esque Tom Poston as an absent minded professor nonsense from William Castle.

A Fistful of Dollars (1964) - A generic western with some verve, and with that verve, it created a genre.

The Crooked Road (1965 - b/w) - Overlong ITC-ish thriller with Robert Ryan, Stewart Granger, Marius Goring and Nadia Gray  in "Jugoslavia".

Man in the Wilderness (1971) - Despite having a sailing ship on wheels, John Huston, Dennis Waterman and Henry Wilcoxon as a Native American chief, this Richard Harris western is a slog through Spanish sludge. Remade as the Revenant.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) - I don't get Python and this is just Gilliam prepping for Jabberwocky.

Alice in the Cities (1974 - b/w)/Kings of the Road (1976 - b/w) - Wim Wenders just driving about the autobahns looking at towns.

Les Magiciens (1976) - Utterly generic Eurocrime with Franco Nero and Gert Frobe. Proof that Claude Chabrol is a hack.

Brubaker (1980) - Typical prison flick with Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman and a cameo by Orinoco Womble.

On Golden Pond (1981) - It's ITC on autopilot, so it feels like a  Movie of the Week.

The Vindicator (1986) - Serviceable Proto-Robocop from Canada with Pam Grier.

Shallow Grave (1994) - Horrible, ugly, dated film-on-Four but it has Chris Tarrant. It seems a pretty random melange of elements from three different stories of Taggart.

Magnolia (1999) - Huh?

The 13th Warrior (1999) - Flop attempt to revive the Peplum, mixing Arabs and Vikings. No Sidney Potter.

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) - Like a syndicated Europudding TV series' entire run pulped down to two and a quarter hours.

Monsieur Batignole (2002) - Gérard Jugnot stars and directs in a story of a Rene Artois-esque French bloke protecting kids in WW2. Typical French Cesar bait.

Dancing lady (1937 - b/w) - Routine musical, but early Stooge action alert.

Murder on the Orient Express (1974) - Rewatched it, and isn't it fantastic?

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