Yes, that's the one.
Thanks, @Barbel. I thought so. I've always wanted to see the Hamner films and the Dracula films in particular after I had a good friend at high school in the 1990s who was a Hammer horror film fanatic and who told me a lot about them. I, in turn, converted him to the James Bond films so you could say that it was a fair exchange of interests. 😃
Dracula Prince of Darkness is a masterpiece. Wonderful film. Not least because Barbara Shelley is in it.😍
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960)
This is my favourite film of all time. I have forgotten how many times I’ve seen it, but it’s certainly more than a hundred times, and each time is a renewed pleasure.
It’s a remake of Seven Samurai, and superbly directed by John Sturges. The score by Elmer Bernstein is justly lauded as one of the finest in history.
Yul Brynner plays Chris, who leads a band of mercenaries who defend a Mexican village against 40 bandits, the bandit leader being played by a suitably evil Eli Wallach. Steve McQueen, Charles Branson, Robert Vaughn and James Coburn all became major stars after this film as four of the seven. The other two less so, but Brad Dexter later saved Frank Sinatra from drowning and was rewarded with roles in later Sinatra films and being his producer. Horst Buccholz never really made it in Hollywood but he had a decent career in European films.
A small Mexican village is regularly raided by bandits and decide to go and get guns from across the border. Meeting with Yul Brynner’s character, a weary gunfighter, he tells them that hiring professional gunfighters would be cheaper and more effective than buying guns. With the money raised from the villagers possessions, Brynner recruits a further six. Steve McQueen is quick witted, Charles Bronson is a thoughtful, insightful character who wishes he had raised a family, Robert Vaughn has lost his nerve, James Coburn is an ice-cool fighter who welcomes a challenge, Brad Dexter is a chancer, always on the lookout for something extra, and Horst Buccholz is the youngster who dreams of the ‘glamorous’ world of gunfighting.
Arriving at the village, after scenes of them riding in line with THAT glorious theme playing, they quickly make plans to rout the bandits when they next turn up.
The film is chock full of fabulous lines;
’I have been offered a lot for my work, but never everything’
‘That was the greatest shot I’ve ever seen’ - ‘The worst! I was aiming at the horse.’
’The old man was right. Only the farmers won. We lost. We always lose.’
’Nobody throws me my gun and says run. Nobody.’
’Well, the graveyards are full of boys who were very young and very proud’
The entire screenplay is superb, there is not a wasted line. The action is exciting and the viewer cares about the gunmen, they all have their own issues and frailties.
If you haven’t seen it, do so. I first saw it as a nine year old at the cinema in 1965, it was on a rerun from the original 1960 release, and ever since that night nothing has surpassed it. It is truly, magnificent.
Love THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, haven't seen it in years. I think that could make for a fun rewatch!
I always like the Charles Bronson character in the film, especially the way that he interacts with the villagers. He has a particularly excellent speech about true bravery to the kids.
I need to rewatch The Magnificent Seven. Its been a long time since I saw it, and that was very early on in my exploration of Western movies. It's never ranked highly on my list of favourite Westerns but that could always change when I revisit it.
I do remember many of the lines quoted by CoolHandBond and agree that they are fantastic. And the score is absolutely first rate!
I need to watch it again too. what a cast! were they really all unknowns when they made this?
A while back I watched Battle Beyond the Stars, Roger Corman's Star Wars rip-off that follows the basic plot of Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven but now in space. I'm not going to say its a fraction so good as any of its inspirations, but it does feature an older Robert Vaughn amongst the mercenaries assembled to save the farm, but a different sort of character than he played the first time.
I'd like to add my vote for "The Magnificent Seven". I wouldn't mind seeing it again.
FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (2016)
Meryl Streep plays the world's worst singer, with Hugh Grant as her supportive husband and Simon Helberg (from "The Big Bang Theory") as the constantly amazed piano player. Florence really existed, but unlike most terrible singers she had enough money and contacts to hire Carnegie Hall.
Streep is perfect, of course, but Grant gives maybe a career best performance here working on several different levels.
It’s great to see so many of you like The Magnificent Seven, maybe put it on the watchalong list?
I would definitely join in that one, whatever the starting time was!
I’ve never heard of Florence Foster Jenkins, but it sounds really interesting, I will look that one up.
You know what? A watchalong of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN would be absolutely marvelous! Count me in, enthusiastically.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982)
It may not have been the first, but producer Dino di Laurentis’ Conon the Barbarian is quite possibly the granddaddy of sword-and-sorcery epics, the film to which the sub-genre of fantasy owes its highest debt and the one which launched its star to fame.
Based nominally on several stories by the prolific American writer Robert E. Howard, this huge saga is cruelly underrated, dismissed as a cult film, mocked for its acting and chastised for its hybrid production values. I think that misses the point. The original Conan short stories were exploitation fare, published in the weekly magazine Weird Tales between 1932 and 1935. Howard, a phenomenally fast worker, has a vast body of work spread across several genres. He is not known for literary style. His offerings were purely for entertainment. Which is exactly what the film Conan the Barbarian is, providing a series of exciting set pieces, dramatic landscapes and a mythological template on which to build characters. Howard perceived Conan as a pre-history version of Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan, an educated, violent loner in tune with people and places. Writers Oliver Stone and John Milius reimagine him as not so much from pre-history as from an age of non-history, where all things are possible and pagan gods hold sway over superstitious humans. Their Conan is less well educated, learning his creeds through the blood and gore of the gladiatorial arena and the ethics of martial arts. He’s no less intelligent because of it.
It’s easy to criticise Arnold Schwarzenegger, but the Austrian more than fills out the role of Conan. He’s almost a composite fit, so much so the reissued patchwork novels copied his physique for the face of Conan on their cover art. His accent doesn’t matter in a film such as this, in fact it lends a certain authenticity to a man forbidden to speak through adolescence, who is a slave until he is in his mid-twenties and who finds communication an obsolete past time. When he seduces women, for instance, it is performed by demonstration, not by dialogue. Similarly the dubbing and overacting of Gerry Lopez and Mako doesn’t matter here as the film inhabits that realm of fantasy fiction where all things seem possible and are yet impossible; we don’t need historical accuracy or authority, reality doesn’t exist in these Dark Ages. Broad stroke characterisation aids the spectacle. The slightly comic book, and often comic, exploits of Conan and his various sidekicks are presented in such a fashion as to be both believable and unbelievable. This trick is pulled off by a surprisingly literal screenplay, as well as a series of vignettes reminding us of great historical epics from the past, such as Spartacus and The Fall of the Roman Empire, To Ho cinema like Seven Samurai and Kwaidan, even the Japanese legend-dramas Monkey and The Water Margin. The story proper doesn’t kick in until almost half way.
Conan is an orphan, whose people, the Cimmeron’s have mastered the riddle of steel, creating magnificent weapons in praise of their god, Crom. One winter, Conan’s village is massacred by the Set and their leader Thulsa Doom. Only the children survive, sent to work at a slave mill. Conan grows strong and becomes a gladiator in the pit of death, is educated in the arts of battle and the way of life at a school for warriors and is freed to roam the world by his drunken master, who recognises he has created a beast, a barbarian he cannot control. Defenceless, Conan discovers the lost temple of the Atlanteans and steals a great broadsword. He meets a witch, who seduces him and prophesises his greatness. Always chasing the emblem of the two-headed snake, Conan pairs up with a comrade, the archer and scallywag Subotai, as well as a lover, the Amazonian Valeria. They steal the Eye of the Serpent from the Tower of Snakes, kill an enchanted giant python and celebrate in wine, women and sex. A grateful King Osric, who is appalled by the demi-god Doom and his rapacious sect, recruits the thieves to rescue his daughter, who is in thrall to Thulsa Doom. Conan travels alone, seeking vengeance, but is discovered posing as a priest, tortured and crucified. He is saved from the gods by the incantations of an old Wizard and the loyalty and love of Valeria. Returning to the Temple of Set, the thieves recapture the Princess, but Valeria is killed by a poison arrow formed from a snake, her pact with the gods now made complete. Conan cremates her, the rejuvenation of fire to the barren Land of the Mounds marking him as God-like; his companion Subotai empathetically notes the Barbarian, like the gods, cannot cry. Conan and his companions battle Doom’s warriors and he, with the aid of the Princess, who it is hinted has become his lover, returns again to the Temple where he decapitates Thulsa Doom, despite the latter’s attempt to mesmerise him. In a short spoken epilogue, the Wizard informs the audience Conan went on to have further adventures.
Mako’s Wizard is the de facto narrator of the tale. This explains the episodic, picaresque, first half compared to the mythic, epic second, to which his character plays a huge part. His role as Greek Chorus aids the telling tremendously allowing explanations come via clear, well-structured dialogue, not through long explanatory sequences. Conan never explains to anyone who he is or what his past was, because the Chorus – the Wizard – has told us. It makes Schwarzenegger’s performance far more rounded simply by removing likely swathes of dialogue. He becomes as mute as Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson in their seminal westerns A Fistful of Dollars or Once Upon a Time in the West. Indeed co-writer and director John Milius has clearly done his cinematic homework as several sequences of this film owe much to other artist’s work, particularly Sergio Leone’s sixties westerns, Kurosawa’s samurai epics and the horror work of Masaki Kobayashi. The opening is superb, a forest village is pillaged by Set raiders, who rampage through the forest, reminding us of the bandits in Seven Samurai or the Steppe Cossacks in Taras Bulba, their heavy animal skin cloaks, long hair and body paint are familiar from The Fall of the Roman Empire, or more modern fare such as Gladiator. They are bloodthirsty and merciless. The killing is gore soaked. Thulsa Doom confronts Conan’s mother, mesmerises her, and beheads her in a moment of brisk unseen horror, the mother’s hand slowly falling from her child’s as her head topples off-camera, a moment enacted through a series of swift cut close ups and orchestrated to match Basil Poledouis’ splendidly heroic music score. Seen through the eyes of child, this opening murder matches the homestead killing which inhabit Leone’s …West. Poledouis wrote much of his music based around the screenplay rather than the finished film and the composition stretched to over two hours. Many of the themes are linked and melodically intertwined which allows the film to shift easily between brutality and beauty, action and calm, using the music as its narrative hook. Ennio Morricone also worked in a similar fashion when creating his masterpiece for …West.
Later Milius homages Kubrick [the gladiator scenes], Kobayashi [the incantations and the thieving gods], Kurosawa again [the wandering hero, the thief as accomplice – this also resembles the legend of Monkey], even the Bible [or Norse myth, take your pick] with its crucifixion and resurrection story. Schwarzenegger’s physique and demeanour remind us of other muscle men, such as Steve Reeves and Gordon Scott. The latter once played Tarzan, and the ghost of the Ape Man is noticeable in the scenes at the Temple of Set, where thousands of followers congregate to worship Thulsa Doom’s snakes in the manner of Barcuma’s Jaguar Cult or the Leopard Tribe [Tarzan and the Great River / the Leopard Woman respectively]. Rather than stifle the narrative, these subtle reminders of other films and genres serve to placate us. The violence is shocking, but enshrined in familiar circumstances which reassure us, else the movie would be lopsided and too horrific.
The central theme is a philosophical one, that of the will of the flesh and the mind over the power of steel, the might of the sword. Conan’s father explains the secret of steel, forged by the gods and stolen by men. Thulsa Doom believes it is the body which is strong, as demonstrated by the willingness of his devotees to sacrifice themselves needlessly. “It is the hand that holds the sword,” he declares during their initial confrontation. James Earl Jones, with his booming authority, is perfectly cast as the serpent king, a demonic yet strangely regal being. The long straight-cut wig is a misstep though. Similarly his two hulking henchmen appear to have escaped from Status Quo. Overall however, the costumes, the set design and the sheer look of the film is superb.
Magnificently photographed in southern Spain by Duke Callaghan, the action is gorgeously coloured and utilises vast landscapes and medieval fortresses, replicating ancient plains, bazaars and castles. The Alhambra style architecture is reproduced for the interiors. The hillside temple resembles Franco’s fascist memorial Valley of the Fallen, with its steep steps and crowning apex, a sure nod to the cult of personality employed by dictators – the multitudes even hum “Doom, Doom” in the manner of cultists. The feel of the piece is slightly uneven. The comic pursuits often feel misplaced, the magical elements are too broad and genuinely mystifying, while the philosophical insight tends to slow the action. Events err toward the functional; for instance, Conan’s original infiltration of the Temple of Set is haphazard, both easily accomplished and easily thwarted.
At the time of release many critics took against the film’s traditional interpretation of men being powerful and women being mere objects, but while scenes of sex, sacrificial virgins and masked orgies are included, they are relatively tame. It’s hardly exploitative fare. It is noteworthy the lead female, Sandahl Bergman’s Valeria, is a warrior, capable in a fight, intellectually superior, loyal and strong willed. It is she who takes the head infiltrating the Tower of Snakes and the Temple of Set, leads the night time battle against the spectres of death and makes a pact with the gods: her life for Conan’s. There are strong roles too for Cassandra Gava as the seductive Witch and Valerie Quennessen as the Princess. These women may be beautiful, but they are not objects, they use their sensuality, their skill and their intelligence to achieve what they want in an ancient world dominated by men. The latter has manoeuvred herself into a position at Doom’s right hand. In fact, one of the weaknesses of the film is the lack of depth to its male villains, of which only James Earl Jones achieves credit, the rest are mere mountains of cruelty. Max Von Sydow deserves a mention as the old and bitter King.
I thoroughly enjoyed rewatching Conan the Barbarian, a movie I hadn’t viewed for over twenty years. It is grand sorcery, epic in scale and execution and inspired all those lesser deities such as Krull, Flesh and Blood, Kull the Conqueror, Legend and, of course, He Man. It wins out over a dire 2011 remake by sheer might of ambition. The latter in comparison is only a noisy pick-pocket.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN is excellent, especially when compared to the other sword/sorcery films that would come afterwards. The script is surprisingly strong with, as you mentioned, some good thematic depth to it, and the characters are surprising well fleshed out. It says something that:
The film has an almost Howard Hawks feel to it, to which I give a lot of credit to John Milius. It may be fantasy but it never treats the genre with contempt. You can't say the same for CONAN THE DESTROYER or RED SONJA.
edited to add: this film has one of the absolute finest soundtracks that I've ever heard. Grand and majestic, with a grand call to adventure. Basil Poledouris wrote many excellent soundtracks in his career but he never topped this.
by coincidence I too recently watched Conan the Barbarian and its sequel Conan the Destroyer, and got Red Sonja queued up to watch next.
one relevant aspect of the sequel: Grace Jones. She got a lot more to do in that film than she did in A View to a Kill. I still wont say she's a great actress, but the Bond producers could have used her talents better. An early example of the phenomenon where they hire a villain based on a scenery chewing performance in an earlier film, but fail to get a performance half so good in the Bondfilm. See also Robert Carlyle, Javier Bardem, and Christopher Waltz. Even Christopher Lee was sort of coasting on his reputation of being really scary in many earlier films.
GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE, currently on Netflix.
Watched GOODFELLAS last night. I'd seen it before but it might as well have been a first viewing because when I watched it previously it was on one of the worst DVD transfers I've ever seen and I spent most of the film bemoaning the poor image quality and as a result my memories of the film were pretty vague. And I certainly enjoyed it a lot more second time round. Great performances all round, some very memorable scenes and shots, a number of which have become well ingrained in the lore of popular culture. I also like that it is a fairly historically accurate mafia movie, unlike a work of fiction like The Godfather. Check out the History Buffs YouTube channel review of the film if you're interested.
I'm currently embarking on a bit of a Scorsese binge. There are so many significant films in his ouevre that I've never seen. I'm following Goodfellas with a string of gangster films - I've got Casino, The Departed and The Irishman coming up in the next week or two. Anybody want to recommend some favourite Scorsese films for me to check out. I've already seen Raging Bull, The Aviator, Shutter Island and I'm going to be rewatching Taxi Driver sometime soon as well.
A SIMPLE FAVOUR (2018)
Tugging on the coat tails of Gone Girl and The Girl on a Train, this is a black comedy mystery thriller with two antagonists matching crazy designer outfits to snappy irreverent dialogue. Anna Kendrick, forever watchable and cute, befriends Blake Lively’s high powered PR executive outside the school gate. When the latter disappears, Kendrick turns detective. Cue some neat lines, bizarre choices of clothing, a weird chorus of envious Mums, a lack of sympathetic characters and a plot which doesn’t work because the director forgot to add a beauty spot to his lead actress. Almost from the off, I had a curious sense of déjà vu. Hitchcockian? Not quite. Wilder-esque? Could be. It’s not wacky enough for a Hawks or a Sturges. Blake Edwards, maybe. A too wordy screenplay with too many expletives. It’s based on a bestselling novel and dialogue and incidents such as what’s represented here always read better on a page than they do when you see it on a screen. Thankfully short, it just about held my interest.
The latest Christopher Nolan's newest movie is impressive in many ways. The acting, action scenes etc. are probably top notch. But in spite of the many qualities of the movie and Nolan's great talent I didn't like Tenet very much. I got the feeling the director was more interested in showing of how clever he is than making a thriller/action movie the audience can enjoy. I also feel that a movie with such a high concept needs some humor to show that they are aware of how far-fetched it is. I'm not saying it should be a comedy, but a funny comment or two would hjelp a movie that tales itself too seriously'.
THE FATHER, the movie for which Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar (whether he deserved it over the late Chadwick Boseman is a question for the ages). He's an elderly man suffering with dementia, and the film is seen mostly through his eyes--as such, the film circles around a bit and sometimes the same characters are played by different actors. It's a very good film--and there are some moments of real humor--and the acting is superb. . .but I found it a little hard to watch, as others might. My grandmother had dementia, and Hopkins's performance is dead-on--it brought back a lot of bad memories--and, though my father thankfully still has all his senses, he's 90 years old and I couldn't help but think how little time there is left. So. . .it's a good film and a worthwhile film, but you might want to avoid it.
I think it's Nolan's worst film by a long shot. I admire it a great deal for the technical achievements in it and the backwards/forwards plotting is very clever. The story itself simply isn't compelling. It's a convoluted mess that is borderline incomprehensible, further hindered by the fact that it's an incredibly dour affair that takes itself far too seriously.
As we're talking Nolan...
Christopher Nolan’s remake / reimagining / stolen title of Leslie Norman’s 1958 Ealing production about the largest wartime evacuation in history is a soulless affair. It’s very difficult to make an uplifting film about defeat. Despite one of the surviving soldiers reading a newspaper report of Winston Churchill’s momentous ‘Fight them on the Beaches’ speech, there is precious little to instil the idea of triumph against adversity in Nolan’s script. Basically, with the exception of Kenneth Branagh’s reserved navy Commander, a few Spitfire pilots and Mark Rylance’s pleasure cruiser skipper, the cast is crippled by having to portray cowardice to the umpteenth degree. This is, of course, exactly what Dunkirk was like. Men were scared, inexperienced, young, witnessing horrors they never expected; worst of all they were shown up to be ill-prepared and inadequate as a fighting force. The withdrawal of the Expeditionary Force is one of the most significant moments in British imperial history as it provided the first genuine evidence the Victorian / Edwardian / Georgian Empire, which then sat at its largest, was in terminal decline. No longer would Britannia rule the waves, or whole straths of continents. So, Nolan does a fair job of presenting these ineffective, frightened, reactive human beings, but the exercise is hopelessly over balanced. Even the heroism feels worthless – a young schoolboy dies needlessly; a daring RAF pilot is captured; for every saved life, another is lost. Nolan as script writer doesn’t provide any background to his characters, so we don’t care about them. The troops are a bitter bunch to a man. The officers maintain not so much a stiff-upper lip as a solid one. The civilians are ciphers for an everyman who never existed. No one displays urgency. There’s hardly an angry voice, just one or two incidents perhaps where tempers fray, and these the result of misinformation and miscommunication. The film is remarkably flat. It lacks emotion and it lacks suspense. The editing is all over the shop. One moment we are spiralling through the air with a RAF patrol, next we are at Weymouth pier, next we are on a sand dune, back in the air, on a hospital ship. We see every action sequence at least twice: ships capsize, Spitfires dogfight with German Messerschmitts, men peer at the sky as sirens whistle, Stukas dive bomb the beaches. The nadir is when two scenes of drowning men are intercut, not so much building tension as burying it, us and them inside their sinking vessels. Even the time frame is the hacked about. Night scenes are intercut with days. Time stands still or expands when necessary to feed the story. At one point Mark Rylance’s boat is on its own, then its surrounded by other civilian craft. The whole landscape of the action is a mess of intermingled, ill-described stories, many of which I assume are genuine and condensed to allow a workable narrative frame, except Nolan – renowned for his cross-cutting – hasn’t made this one work. Additionally, the beach scenes are hopelessly under manned. While it is documented that the troops were remarkably stoic in defeat, forming orderly queues, singing, etc, and Nolan recreates this well, there simply doesn’t seem to be enough of them in this telling and the sheer chaos of the beachheads, the destruction of the army’s hardware, the bombing of Dunkirk, the battle to preserve the little wing-ding of salvation, isn’t touched on at all. There was a BBC documentary from 2010 shown after the film and the veterans gave a much more visceral interpretation of what really occurred through the power of speech and first-hand knowledge. Nolan seems to miss the empathetic understanding some of the directors of the fifties and sixties leant to their interpretations. Movies such as The Longest Day, Is Paris Burning and, yes, the original Dunkirk have a inherent reality which some of these modern CGI influenced blockbusters don’t. Curiously, given the success of the director’s psychologically challenged characters of the Batman cycle, you wonder where all the personal insight has vanished to. On the plus side Hoyte Van Hoytema’s cinematography is superb. Hans Zimmer’s score is an understated masterpiece. Overall, overrated, I feel.
Spot on review Chris. Dunkirk misses the mark for me too and you sum up well why.
I think the structure of the plot is very good in Dunkirk. There are many aspects of the movie I like - Nolan and his crew are highly skilled. But Dunkirk is the only recent movie I think should have had more and not ledd CGI. There should have been more planes in the sir and much more troops om the beach.
On the whole I like Dunkirk. I find the interwoven time sequences, the cross cutting and seeing the same event from different perspectives intriguing and entertaining - but the thing that holds it back from greatness for me is the lack of scale displayed on screen. As Number24 suggested, the film is crying out for some digital crowds on the beach - plus a lot more smoke, equipment, wreckage, aircraft overhead etc. The town of Dunkirk itself looks like a pristine ghost town, not a bomb-scarred battleground. I appreciate Nolan's determination to shoot in the real location, doing everything 'in camera' etc but it does rather let the film down as a historical recreation. The 1958 Dunkirk, 2007's Atonement, and even the 1969 Italian movie Eagles Over London do a much better job of recreating the historical setting.
a pair of very early Hitchcocks
The Pleasure Garden, 1925
Hitchcock' directorial debut. The story of two showgirls and their complicated love lives. The saintly showgirl helps the down-on-her-luck showgirl get a job in the chorus line and shares her apartment. Down-on-her-luck showgirl rapidly becomes a big star, dumps her hardworking fiancee for a Prince, and repays the saintly showgirl by treating her as a commoner. Saintly showgirl marries her roommates fiancees friend, who turns out to be a rogue and moves to Africa where he has a local mistress. Final scenes in Africa are actually a bit thrillerish, with violence against women, gunplay, and a drowning! One prototypical Hitchcock signature element is a voyeuristic PoV sequence with opera glasses ogling the showgirls' legs as they dance. One day he'd make a whole film about voyeurism!
Hitchcock followed this with The Mountain Eagle, 1926, now completely lost, then The Lodger, 1926, which the director himself considers the first real Hitchcock film. The Pleasure Garden received a wider rerelease when The Lodger was a success. But his next several films were not proper thrillers either, despite his obvious skill in that genre. A boxing film, various romances, family dramas and stories of class divides. Blackmail, 1929, his first sound film, is the next true Hitchcock thriller and is absolutely essential. (I have reported on Blackmail elsewhere) Even then he was still being assigned films that did not take advantage of his obvious strengths.
Two films after Blackmail comes the other early Hitchcock I just watched...
From its one word high concept title you'd think this should be another prototypical thriller. There is a murder in the opening shot, but otherwise this a conventional mystery story structure which Hitchcock typically did not do: he was more interested in characters experiencing the threat of violence than other characters talking about it after it was done. The victim and suspect are both stage actresses lodging in a poor London neighbourhood, where all their neighbours seem to work for the same local theatre. There is a dark satirical jury scene, where we see just how fallible is the jury system to loudtalking jurors bullying dissenters into changing their verdict to go along with the majority. One of those dissenters is Sir John, a wealthy respectable stage actor himself who takes it upon himself to find the real killer.
Typical Hitchcock elements: finale in a circus tent in front of paying audience. Even more interesting, during the jury scene one of the dissenters argues the suspect was experiencing a "psychic fugue", meaning she was not responsible for her actions, and goes on to define the term. This is the sort of authentic psychological exposition Hitchcock would return to in Spellbound, Psycho, Marnie and more!
It would be another four years and six not-so-thrillerish films before Hitchcock would get to The Man Who Knew Too Much.
Regardless of whether either film is a thriller, one thing that unites these two films and makes them a valid double feature: both take place entirely within the world of show-folk, exposing and satirising a lifestyle most of us would not know, and using the device of the show-within-the-show to add layers to the narrative.
I'm a big fan of DUNKIRK but I think you make a lot of great points.
As to me, I rewatched BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA last night. The wife had never seen it before but caught a few minutes of it on one of our pay channels during the day and liked what she saw. I own it, so yeah...not a problem.
She LOVED it. If you dial into the tone of the movie right away and roll with it, it's a completely entertaining romp that never takes itself too seriously. It's probably my favorite performance from Kurt Russell; he's channeling John Wayne in a lot of his speech mannerisms but in a goofy way. He allows himself to be the butt of the humor for most of the film, letting all his costars be 'the competent ones' while he goes around posturing with a facade of bravado. He's just a lot of fun here.
The movie itself is one of the best paced action comedies ever made. There isn't a wasted frame anywhere. Everything is constantly moving the narrative forward but without sacrificing any character stuff.
Love it to death. I've seen it all the way through probably 7 times now and it only gets better and better each time.
The Hitman's Bodyguard
This comedy thriller would have left me slightly disappointed had I seen it at movie theatres when it came out but with hardly any trips to the cinema of late, it's a big thrill to catch it on TV. Ryan Reynolds is the bodyguard and Samuel L Jackson the hitman under Interpol protection so he can testify against war crimes committed by the evil Belarus president (bit far-sighted that) played in Air Force One style by Gary Oldman - why he wastes his time with stuff like Darkest Hour when he can be doing stuff like this I'll never know.
This is not a serious thriller and not meant to be, it riffs on the idea that this kind of movie is pretty much done and there's fun to be had here. The humour does owe something to Family Guy etc, that kind of thing - Clive Owen's Shoot 'Em Up too.
It also riffs on Shrek - Jackson is basically Donkey to Reynolds disappointed and anti-social Shrek, berating him for his life choices and ragging him. It is great fun if a bit obvious. Other movie nods include Pulp Fiction and Bond fans will find a couple of things in there too. It's odd - this is a comedy but the violence is full on and intense. Jackson is not playing this as an old guy.
What is odd is that bar flashbacks none of it is filmed in the US though it's a US film. The opener is in London, then it moves to Manchester and much of the movie is spent there before going to Amsterdam. Shots made to glamourise London sort of work but they're filming it like it is the US and it rather conjure up episodes of The Apprentice or the inserts in old episodes of the sitcom Not Going Out. This raises a problem I've long thought - American generic action films sort of work in America because the street furniture and everything is cinematic in a way that you don't get elsewhere. If the two leads are American, could it not work with British stars or thereabouts? Colin Farrell (okay he's Irish) or Jason Stratham - or could he only work it abroad? Could we have a British film industry doing this stuff or would that not work?
I recall a recent Anthony Hopkins film where he plays a psychic - it's standard stuff, well done and set in America, Chicago if I recall. Very enjoyable because it just has the genre down pat. There is nothing in the plot to say it can't be filmed in England. But it wouldn't be the same. If they did the film in the 70s with say Richard Burton, we know how it would be - it would sort of look down at heel and wretched. America doesn't always look like these big, bustling chrome movie sets of course. But while parts of London do look like that, it's not quite the same to just shoot it like it's New York or Chicago and hope for the best. Each nation needs to find its own cinematic brand without making it all Richard Curtis all the time. James Bond aside, I'm not sure the UK has the knack of knocking out reliable action films. The US has the genre down pat, though let's not forget it did have to reinvent itself in the mid to late 80s and is constantly honing it.
The film is a good laugh, not up there with Deadpool or the sequel in particular. Is there a sequel to this? I don't even know, I think one came out recently didn't it?
Oh, yeah - The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard. Very variable reviews - the 'huge belly laughs, 10/10 reviews' that might not be studio plants and those who decry it as a waste of their life, it does have a whiff of Ocean's 12 about it. I'm not risking Covid for it, let's put it that way.
Dwayne Johnson stars in this highly formulaic Die Hard/Towering Inferno retread, though it's spectacular enough. As my review of 'Last Bond Film' points out, most of these films benefit from a subtext or second narrative to distract from the fact that the main story isn't always that interesting even with all the bells and whistles. It's Die Hard without the jokes really. One super villain - a young woman with a super haircut who takes glee from killing - she's Onatopp really, there's even a GoldenEye shooting spree - is criminally underused. You look forward to her comeuppance but...
BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA (1974)
Superbly directed by Sam Peckinpah, this was not received very well by the majority of critics, but I found it excellent in 1974 and even more so on recent viewing. Starring the underrated Warren Oates as Bennie, a drunken whorehouse piano player, who gets wind of a reward offered for the head of Alfredo Garcia, who has impregnated a Mexican crime lord’s daughter. He knows that Garcia is already dead and goes to dig up the body for the head and claim the reward with his hooker girlfriend in tow.
As the film progresses they meet a rapist biker played by Kris Kristofferson and two gay hitmen played by Gig Young and Robert Webber. What follows is a lot of slow motion violence when his girlfriend is killed and Bennie slowly loses the plot and begins to talk to the head.
It’s not a pretty film but it’s absorbing and beautifully played by all concerned as they portray the lowlifes of society with greed their only salvation.
All my night duty over time has given me the opportunity to watch many of the films I have collected. One of them being the magnificent seven. Although I enjoyed it I thought it was a bit too long. But I did see Horst Buckholst in another film on TV called 'Tiger Bay' where he was a murderer on the run. I recommend that to everyone if you haven't seen it. (I have just checked and the film is on you tube.)
Although I have seen it before I also watched 'Hell Drivers'. Sean Connery had a small part in this. Again I recommend it (again the film is available on you tube)
Here are the trailers for the films.