Friday 28 February 2020


Lights of New York (1928 - b/w) - Under-an-hour experimental gangster pic, semi-sound picture.

The Hole in the Wall (1929 - b/w) - Nothingy, basic Colbert-G. Robinson drama made when sound was a novelty.

Thunderbolt (1929 - b/w) - Disjointed semi-sound/semi-silent with Fay Wray and Richard Arlen. Almost noir from von Sternberg.

MATA HARI (1931 - B/W) - I don't get Garbo. Too icy.
Knockoffs followed. After Tonight (1933 - b/w) with Constance Bennett, who did similar shtick in Madame Spy (1942 - b/w). Madeleine Carroll in I Was  A Spy (1933 - b/w). And Dietrich did Dishonored (1931 - b/w).

The Star Witness (1931 - b/w) - Oddly slapsticky William Wellman courtroom/crime drama with Walter Huston and forty-odd Chic Sale as a doddery comedy pensioner.

The Impatient Maiden (1932 - b/w) - Elements of James Whale's style seep into this otherwise generic 30s romantic comedy.

Take A Chance (1933 - b/w) - Forgettable musical that launched "It's Only A  Paper Moon".

Stage Mother (1933 - b/w) - Maureen O'Sullivan and Franchot Tone in a melodrama musical about a stage mother that would have felt fresh at the time, but now feels old hat.

By Candlelight (-1933 - b/w) - Generic musical comedy of the 30s, by James Whale.

Gabriel Over The White House (1933 - B/W) - Walter Huston is proto-Trump in a tantalising glimpse of what might have happened if Josef Goebbels ran MGM.

The Affairs of Cellini (1934 - b/w) - Goofball Anachronistic swashbuckler with Fredric March and Fay Wray and Constance Bennett.

Private Worlds (1935 - b/w) - Colbert/Boyer romance.

The Riverside Murder (1935 - b/w) - Stagebound quota quickie with Alastair Sim.

Barbary Coast (1935 - b/w) - A Joel McCrea western with a jazzier setting and Edward G. Robinson.

Black Sheep (1935 - b/w) - Another forgettable cruise drama on a cruise. With Claire Trevor and Edmund Lowe.

L'Equipage (1935 - b/w) Annabella and Charles Vanel in a reasonably solid WW1 romance.

Ceiling Zero (1936 - b/w) - James Cagney and Pat O'Brien again, in another 30s Air Force saga.

Crown v Stevens (1936 - b/w) - Undistinguished quota quickie with Patric Knowles, from Michael Powell.

Le Grande Illusion (1936 - b/w) - I suppose because not having much interest in WW1 means that I didn't get much out of this, despite Gabin's big old comforting teabag of a face.
See also Renoir's Rules of the Game (1939 - b/w)

Klondike Annie (1936 - b/w) - Mae West in a typical 30s musical comedy in the frozen North.
See also Night After Night (1932 - b/w), She Done Him Wrong (1933 - b/w), Belle of the Nineties (1934 - b/w), the western Goin' To Town (1935 - b/w), Go West Young Man (1936 - b/w), Every Day's a Holiday (1937), The Heat's On (1943 - b/w).

Make Way for Tomorrow (1937 - b/w) - Well-made/well-intentioned mawk.

Dead End (1937 - b/w) - The almost-Gotham gothic of the setting is gorgeous, but the actual characters don't. Then, it is Bogie's gangster scrapes with Joel McCrea and the Dead End Kids that are the focus.

Hotel Du Nord (1938 - b/w) - Wasn't much interested in this Marcel Carne romance featuring pre-Hollywood Jean Pierre Aumont. Maybe, French romances aren't my thing.

L'Assassinat du Père Noël (1941 - b/w) - Confused, treacly but atmospheric noir/drama by Christian-Jaque with Harry Baur who was then tortured by the Gestapo.

The Magnificent Ambersons (1942 - b/w) - It feels compromised, too ambitious for its own good.

The Cross of Lorraine (1943 - b/w)/The Seventh Cross (1944 - b/w) - One has Gene Kelly, the other Spencer Tracy, but they're basically the same film. Both have Hume Cronyn in them (though the Seventh Cross adds Jessica Tandy), both about concentration camps, both use the same sets. Watched both and couldn't remember what was in which. For years, I thought these were the same film.

Carnival of Sinners (1943 - B/W) - Shonky attempt by occupied France to do Lewtonesque chills, by Jacques Tourneur's da, Maurice. Only some spooky masks in the climax and an expressionist flashback register. Jean Davy, who costars, later ended up as the old patriarch in Chateuavallon.

Magnificent Doll (1946 - b/w) - Not quite my thing, but a solid period love triangle between Ginger Rogers, David Niven and Burgess Meredith.

The Crimson Key (1947 - b/w) - Undistinguished B-crime with Kent Taylor.

They Made Me A Fugitive (1947 - b/w) - Atmospheric Brit noir with Trevor Howard, an excellent funeral parlour matte with RIP on the  roof, and the usual sub-Patrick Hamilton music hall scrapes and BBC radio announcements.

The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947 - b/w) - Junky Lawrence Tierney b-noir.

The Emperor Waltz (1948) - A typical mittel-European musical comedy, with  .

Drunken Angel (1948 - b/w) - Kurosawa does the yakuza film for the art.

I Love Trouble (1948 - b/w) - Undistinguished Marlowe ripoff with Franchot Tone. 

Intruder in the Dust (1949 - b/w) - Preachy racial relations wrong man melodrama despite a winning Juano Hernandez. 

Beyond the Forest (1949) - Bette Davis fails to convince she's a dark-haired young temptress.

La Ronde (1950) - Sumptuous but interchangeable romance with Anton Walbrook and Simones Simon and Signoret.

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950 - b/w) - A generic by-the-numbers noir with Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney.

Teresa (1951 - b/w) - Pier Angeli and the bland John Erickson in Fred Zinnemann's attempt at doing a sensual Italian drama. It's weak.

The Big Night (1951 - b/w) - John Drew Barrymore annoys me. No wonder he never became a star.

Trent's Last Case (1952 - b/w) - Forgettable British courtroom/crime drama with Orson Welles and Margaret Lockwood. Republic going straight.

Don't Bother to Knock (1952 - b/w) - Widmark, Marilyn and Anne Bancroft in a well-performed melodrama that perhaps lacks the thriller bam! it needed.

My Son John (1952 - b/w) - Preachy Communist blacklisting drama with Robert Walker, Van Heflin and Helen Hayes. A load of fascist old toot.

Forbidden Games (1952 - b/w) - It's nicely shot, but I guess French rural life doesn't appeal.

The First Time (1952 - b/w) - Sub-Cheaper by the Dozen family comedy with Bob Cummings and Barbara Hale.

This Woman is Dangerous (1952 - b/w) - Joan Crawford is like a sneaky mother-in-law.
Director Felix E Feist also did Tomorrow is Another Day (1951 - b/w), an overlong B-noir with Steve Cochran and Ruth Roman.

Sailor of the King (1953 - b/w) - Dull navalsaga with Jeffrey Hunter.

The Loves of a Woman (1953 - b/w) - Micheline Presle and Massimo Girotti in a bucolic seaside romance by Gremillion. Forgotten. Well-made but undistinguished.

Obsession (1954) - Undistinguished colour melodrama in France, with Raf Vallone.

Drive A Crooked Road (1954 - b/w) - Cheap, undistinguished  noir (despite a Blake Edwards script) with Mickey Rooney in a racecar.

Senso (1954) - Visconti period gloss. Farley Granger looks vaguely like he's trying to look like Ian Dury.

Chiens Perdus Sans Collier (1955 - b/w)  Not-terrible Jean Gabin flick, about Hue and Cry/War of the Buttons mad young fellas.  It ends with drowning and a tightrope act.

Bob le Flambeur (1956 - b/w) - Melville bores me. All stories of conflicted French bastards.

Odongo (1956) - Disney-esque African adventure spun off from Safari (1956), a typical Eady Levy-bait Warwick exotica drama.

Zarak (1956)  - Ludicrous, tacky brownface-tastic Indian saga with Victor Mature. From Warwick, who got Mature to do a cheaper, near-indistinguishable near-remake, The Bandit of Zhobe (1959).

Death in the Garden (1956) - Bunuel gets a sense of authenticity from the Central American neverland setting, but it's weird seeing Georges Marchal as the hunky adventurer, as he was later the craggy star of dreadful pan-European Channel "French Dallas" soapie Chateauvallon. It does go a bit 40s jungle adventure/zapata western.

Tears for Simon (1956) - Typical Rank suspense-tearjerker blandness distributed by Republic, with product placement for Procea bread and HP.

The Power and the Prize (1956 - b/w) - Dreary international jetset melodrama with Robert Taylor and Burl Ives about the glam world of metal production. Has a slightly convincing Hollywood London, though that's because the stock footage used has Polo ads on buses.

The Unholy Wife (1957 ) - Bland B-movie with Rod Steiger fighting with Diana Dors.

He Who Must Die (1957 - b/w) - Mercouri-Dassin passion play gubbins.

Kill Me Tomorrow (1957 - b/w) - Hoary, boilerplate British crime movie with Pat O'Brien, Lois Maxwell, George Coulouris and Tommy bloody Steele and boxer Freddie Mills.

Maigret Sets A  Trap (1958 - b/w) - Dry, unsatisfying, televisual vehicle for Jean Gabin. Nasty shock ending.

From The Earth to the Moon (1958) - One of the few big SF movies of its era that I had not seen. It's utterly generic steampunk Jules Verne ephemera. It hits the same beats that Master of the World would three years later. Joseph Cotten and George Sanders fail to add anything. It looks nice, but it never hits.

Stage Struck (1958) - Henry Fonda, Susan Strasberg and "introducing Christopher Plummer" in a stolid RKO coming of age drama about an acting student on Broadway. Glynis Johns' name appears in bright lights, as does Eric Portman and Margaret Leighton and Maurice Evans.

Cover Girl Killer (1959 - b/w) - Junky, surprisingly sleazy Harry H Corbett thriller.

Sea Fury (1959) - 70-year-old Victor McLaglen seems drunk in this average Rank maritime adventure for Stanley Baker.

Marie-Octobre (1959 - b/w) - Dry, depressing drama about a Resistance reunion, by Julian Duvivier.  Has Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, and wrestling on a telly.

Moment of Danger (1960 - b/w) - Early Europudding with Dorothy Dandridge cast as white, Trevor Howard, Edmund Purdom and Michael Hordern. Typical family-friendly erotically charged wannabe-noir.

Leon Morin, Priest (1961 - b/w) - Slow story of Emmanuelle Riva and Jean Paul Belmondo as a priest. But it's a waste of Belmondo.  He doesn't even do a single stunt. There's a spiral staircase in the film. Surely, he could have fallen

The Miracle Worker (1962 - b/w) - Patty Duke is ferocious as Helen Keller, which is odd, because it's quite a schmaltzy story.

Drums of Africa (1963) - Tired old jungle claptrap. 

Bitter Harvest (1963) - Janet Munro (as a dislikeable tart) and John Stride in a Welsh drama that tries to be contemporary, with soap ads and swinging London, but feels like a leftover from the 50s. Based on Patrick Hamilton's 20,000 Streets Under the Sky. A grim end hints that despite the Rank color cinematography, this is a kitchen sinker.

Chateau en Suede (1963) - A confused, messy, oddly still attempt by Roger Vadim and Monica Vitti to do an old dark movie. Its title in the US, the Nutty, Naughty Chateau suggests something infinitely zanier. It seems to go back and forth in time, but hey, Vitti reads Spirou comic.

Bande a part (1964 - b/w) - Godard eejitry.

Le tigre aime la chair frache (1964 - b/w) - Chabrol tries to do From Russia with Love and Goldfinger (with Daniela Bianchi from the former, and a junkyard car-lifting from the latter). Stolid. The sequel,  Our Agent Tiger (1965) is in color, and thieves from Thunderball, but despite the gloss, is a typical Eurospy snore.

Pierrot Le Fou (1965) - Godard at least allows Belmondo to do some action, but  it's a load of aimless arty gormlessness. Is the whole paint-yourself-blue-and-stick-a-load-of-dynamite-on-your-head some kind of Looney Tunes/bandes desinees parody? Anna Karina does read Les Pieds Nickeles.

Mister Buddwing (1966) - Experimental, dreary amnesia drama with James Garner supported by Katharine Ross, Angela Lansbury, Suzanne Pleshette, Jean Simmons...

Tant qu'on a la santé (1966) - Surrealistic Pierre Etaix tribute to George Melies. See also Yoyo (1965 - b/w).

We Still Kill the Old Way (1967) - Sunny, arty but sluggish Elio Petri thriller.

Woman in Chains/La Prisonniere (1968) - Clouzot's final film, an over-arty sexy thriller with people standing in the middle of waves, random car crashes, psychedeic bollocks (In one case literally), and lots of bits of French TV. Charles Vanel, Joanna Shimkus (Lady Potter), Michel Piccoli costar.

Le Grand Amour (1969) - Some Milligan-ish surrealist slapstick with moving beds enlivens a dullish generation gap French romantic comedy by Pierre Etaix.
See also Etaix's Le Soupirant (1962 - b/w).

Pigsty (1969) - Nonsensical apocalyptic surrealism from Pasolini.

Clerambard (1969) - Baffling period eejit comedy with Philippe Noiret.

Ostia (1970) - Pasolini-written surrealist bullshit.

Groupie Girl (1970) - RTE light ent star/Basil Brush stooge Mr. Billy Boyle, Richard Shaw, Donald Sumpter, James Beck (yes, Private Walker) star in this grotty, not-a-pretty-but-maybe-not-that-unrealistic-a-picture-of-groupies sexploitation pic.

Ned Kelly (1970) - A dud western, with Mick Jagger and Taggart in Australia, but the music is Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson. It's almost ashamed to be Aussie.

Angel Unchained (1970) - Biker and buggy trash with a young Tyne Daly. Typical 70s biker nonsense. Greek silent actor Pedro Regas plays an elderly native called "Injun".

Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) - Pervy gay-triangle between Peter Finch, Glenda Jackson and Murray Head, with a solid cast - Peggy Ashcroft, Tony Britton, Maurice Denham,  Jon Finch in a role so tiny he's billed below June Brown as "Woman Patient". But it captures the early 70s, with its chemist scenes, and 70s Lego, and News of the World, and a little gurrier boy played by one Daniel Day-Lewis scratching a car with a knife. Nothing to do with Ireland despite the title bar DDL and Harold Goldblatt, but still gets filed in the Irish section at  video shops.

Drive, He Said (-1971) - Sporty Jack Nicholson hippie bull.

The Decameron (1971) - Pasolini sex comedy. Indifferent from dozens of other Italian sex comedies.

The Organization (1971) - Undistinguished blaxploitation programmer that just happens to have Sir Sidney Potter (sic) as Mr. Tibbs.

Les assassins de l'ordre (1971) - Dull Jacques Brel thriller by Marcel Carne.

The Canterbury Tales (1972) - A British sex comedy directed by Pasolini, for the art. Tom Baker gets his plunger out.

The Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe (1972) - Typical duff late spaghetti western, with flourishes and coolie-wearing, ponytailed Chinese lead brought in to cash in on the martial arts boom.

The Honkers (1972) - Country and western rodeo bull with James Coburn.

The Scientific Cardplayer (1972) - Lively but nothingy comedy-drama with Bette Davis, Joseph Cotten, Domenico "Volare" Modugno and an overtly-mugging cry-baby performance from Alberto Sordi.

I Escaped from Devil's Island (1973) - Shot in Mexico, but because it's Corman, it could easily be somewhere just outside Manila.  Jim Brown and Christopher George star in a grim, tedious mockbuster of Papillon.

Billy Two Hats (1974) - Nonsensical western with Desi Arnaz Jr and Gregory Peck  as a mad Scottish cowboy. Shot in Israel with British money by Canadian Ted Kotcheff.

The Mouth Agape (1974) - Depressing realist drama with Nathalie Baye about terminal illness.

Chanoc in the Snake Pit (1974) - Mexican jungle comic trash.

Hallucination Strip (1975) - Nonsensical late-period hippie Eurocrime with Bud Cort and Marcel Bozzuffi.

L'Histoire d'Adele H (1975) - Truffaut period colonial gubbins.

Blonde in Black Leather (1975) - Monica Vitti and a Dana-esque Claudia Cardinale star in a goofball Italian premake of Thelma and Louise. Almost a distaff Spencer and Hill vehicle.

Marathon Man (1976) - There's nice setpieces, but it feels too pleased with itself to work as a good, solid thriller.

Bound for Glory (1976) - David Carradine is masterful as Woody Guthrie. It's weird to think he made this - a big-budget Best Picture nom while still doing Corman trash. But it's typical country and Western romantization that leaves me cold.

Beyond Good and Evil (1977) - Arty tawdriness from Liliana Cavani, with Dominique Sanda, Robert Powell and gay wrestling in the nuddy.

Peppermint Soda (1977) - Charming tale of French Cliff Richard fangirls.

Last Feelings (1978) - Typical Italian dying boy mush from Ruggero Deodato, a standard genre in Italian filone of the period. Released in cinemas by GTO in UK/Ireland, found a bootleg DVD of this in a charity shop in Bray, ripped from the Video Gems UK VHS. 

Just A Gigolo (1978) - Despite having Marlene Dietrich and David Bowie, this is basically a sex film. It's another Salon Kitty.  Dietrich at near-eighty looks a bit Cilla Black.

The Last Metro (1980) - Overlong miniseries-like saga of WW2-era Paris with Deneuve and Depardieu, by Truffaut.

The Mystery of Oberward (1980) - Antonioni and Rai make this, released in cinemas,  despite looking like a telenovela because it was shot on video.

The Witches of Eastwick (1987) -  Soapy supernatural Nine to Five, despite the incongruously Australian look that Miller brings to it (even though Vilmos Zsigmond did the cinematography).

The Wizard of Speed and Time (1988)-  An autobiographical rant by special effects wiz Mike Jittlov.

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