A big scale movie of its day, Airport relates a day in the life of airport manager Burt Lancaster. He contends with a serial stowaway, a snow storm, a problematic wife and a suicide bomber on a plane coming into the airport. Dean Martin is the pilot and Van Heflin is the depressed bomber who wants to leave his wife the insurance money when he blows up the plane. It’s a soap opera in the sky as back stories of the crew and passengers are explored. It’s all very slickly handled by director George Season and a great cast including George Kennedy, Jacqueline Bisset, Helen Hayes, Maureen Stapleton, Barry Nelson and Lloyd Nolan. Three sequels of diminishing standard followed.
It appears to be a 'new' film for August. It was not available on my flight TO Europe in July but it was on my flight FROM Europe in August. I was on KLM on my August flight if that matters.
Hope you enjoy it! As I said, I ended up watching it twice in a 48 hour span and the second time was just as good as the first time.
It was in the ‘new releases’ for me too…on Air Canada…not flying back for 20 days yet, but I guess that shouldn’t be an issue…cheers 🍸
I was going too see Bullet Train but I've heard it's rubbish, same for the Ryan Gosling film of a few weeks back. Not a great time for the movies.
If you've seen the trailers for BULLET TRAIN, they are 100% accurate in terms of cute smugness, except the film is 2 hours of that.
It's not the worst movie I've ever seen. Indeed, there are moments here and there that work beautifully and there are a couple of fun cameos in there that kinda delighted me. The film just tries too, too hard for the entire runtime and it really gets tiresome.
GIRL HAPPY (1965)
Made during the period when the King’s career appeared to be on the edge of terminal decline, Girl Happy is an Elvis Presley movie by numbers. Unfortunately, they forgot to add the numbers up. This is a poor example of filmmaking on anyone’s watch. Boris Sagal was mostly a T.V. director, including things like The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. If he has a touch, it is heavy handed. The drama is tepid, the humour excruciatingly lame and the songs insipid and ineptly staged.
Elvis plays Rusty Wells, a singer who volunteers to babysit his boss’ twenty-one year old college daughter in Fort Lauderdale, just so he can fulfil a contract he has at a dance joint in the town. Of course, things don’t go according to plan and the two week sunny sojourn becomes a mini-nightmare for everyone’s romantic inclinations. This was advertised as a beach party movie, the kind of thing which made the Beach Boys and Sam & Dave popular, but it's nothing of the sort and the cast looks way too old for romping around like horny teenagers. Among the stupidity, amazingly, Elvis does get to sing, although exactly what possessed people to write numbers as bad as this, I’ll never understand. I have the soundtrack somewhere. Puppet on a String is almost bearable. The rest are not. I think the album cover is the most stark of any of his images; a head and shoulders shot, brooding against a one tone, rust-red background. Grim indeed, like the movie.
Elvis looks disinterested on the M-G-M backlot, which substitutes for Florida. There is a girl, a fight, a nightclub stage, a montage of holiday hijinks, some drunkenness, misunderstandings, a strip show [yep, you read that right, but I can’t explain it here without going into excessive detail, and I don’t want to] an irate parent, a happy ending. Shelley Fabares is in it, her first of three roles playing opposite Elvis. Poor girl.
Nothing to recommend here. Nothing at all.
The strip show does, surely?
The way you set it up makes it sound like Tarantino's Pulp Fiction - having to babysit the boss' daughter - interesting to see where the King's career might have gone, but that's long been the interest hasn't it. Good old Colonel Tom. Have you see the recent biopic, @chrisno1 ?
Thanks for the Elvis reviews, @chrisno1. I'm a huge Elvis fan but strictly of the music and you're reminding me why I don't watch his movies (other than a very few).
Thanks @Barbel . Got a few more to post in the next few days. These movies are hard going. I didn't get to see the Elvis biopic, just too busy at the time, which is a pity. It looked rockin'. Maybe it'll pop up again somewhere.
I enjoyed it, and commented above. Don't be looking for accuracy though! As has been said elsewhere, it's not a documentary.
And just for you @Barbel ...
GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS! (1962)
Released in late 1962, the Elvis Presley vehicle Girls! Girls! Girls! topped the U.S. box office on its release. The soundtrack album – his fifth – was a million seller and spawned a favoured hit in Return to Sender. I once sung this in a karaoke bar in Ibiza after drinking one too many tequila slammers and hilariously brought the house down by drunkenly falling A over T attempting an Elvis hip swivel; that whole ‘lad’s away so let’s play’ holiday is a story about as tedious and immature as this film.
Set in Hawaii – but you’d never know it because they never tell you, only the mention of Paradise Cove pricked my geographical knowledge – Elvis plays Ross Carpenter, a tuna fisherman who gets on the wrong side of his boss, his ex-girlfriend and his new love in a hectic couple of weeks full of romance, fights, music and some annoying kids. The film could easily be described as messing about in boats with songs. The plot is a rather harmless case of deception which is easily resolved and in real life would never have occurred. Elvis films of course don’t inhabit real life.
Stella Stevens is the King’s spurned love, a nightclub singer who not only loses her man but appears to also lose her job after Elvis parades his stuff during a trial run as her support act. He did a better job than me at bringing down the house. At least he stayed on his feet. Elvis dances the twist mostly, which is very odd, and holds his arms like a marionette without strings, which is even odder. He only lets rip on the title track, which is a Lieber and Stoller cover of an old Coasters hit. The rest of the musical numbers are dreadful, a really poor selection and not aided by monumentally crass staging. Singing Earth Boy with two cheesy infuriatingly twee Chinese kids was a low point, but all the jolly fisherman songs seem thrown in just to increase the run time. They don’t aid the plot – none of the songs aid the plot except A Boy Like Me, A Girl Like You – and to a note they are annoying in the extreme. The one where Elvis sings while his beau’s apartment collapses around them was stupefyingly bizarre. ‘Open-mouthed’ doesn’t do my reaction justice.
Occasionally, just occasionally, you can see moments of the youthful pre-Army Elvis creeping onto the screen. The scene where he first kisses Laurel Dodge [played by enthusiastic newcomer Laurel Goodwin] is tinged with a little of that old arrogant swagger; so too the moment of their inevitable break up. Otherwise he’s saddled with fishing boats, kids and a boss as annoying as the children. In fact he has two bosses, one at the boatyard and another at the nightclub. Both exploit him and Ross Carpenter doesn’t seem capable of standing up for himself without hurting those he cares for. This is the angle which in the hands of a decent scriptwriter, an interested director and a producer who cared might have developed legs. Here everyone’s legs get seasick and the whole sorry mess climaxes in a sort of raucous beach party of excruciating vulgarity.
The film lacks any sense of the dramatic. Director Norman Taurog, a veteran who ought to know better, frames the opening moments with views of beautiful swimsuit-clad women relaxing on yachts or in the sea as if he’s making The Ziegfeld Water Follies. Elvis looks dumbfounded. Loyal Griggs photographs the thing in gaudy light. The film doesn’t get much better through its entire runtime. I had vague memories that this was one of his better movies, but it plainly isn’t. The rot was already setting in.
Girls! Girls! Girls! was nominated for a Golden Globe as the best musical / comedy of 1962. Quite unbelievable.
No, you're right @chrisno1 - this actually IS one of his better movies (there was much worse to follow). Not one of his very few good films, of course ("King Creole" is my pick as his best).
He was never an actor. Even at his best he was never more than (metaphorically shrugs) passable. If surrounded by good actors such as Walter Matthau, Carolyn Jones and Dean Jagger (that's "King Creole", of course) then the focus is more on his role as singer which is obviously where his real strength lay.
As the budgets went down (Colonel Parker, of course - smaller budgets equalled higher profits) so did the quality of the supporting cast and sadly the quality of the songs, too.
@Barbel for a moment I thought you were suggesting G! G! G! was a good movie. Yes, I know there is worse - I've seen Tickle Me, remember? - and who can forget the almost unbearable Double Trouble?
So, how's about this for a tonic?
LIVE A LITTLE, LOVE A LITTLE (1968)
It’s hard to believe the same director who helmed the last Elvis Presley movie I reviewed [Girls! Girls! Girls!] is the same man who orchestrated this one. Norman Taurog was a great director in the early days of sound movies, winning an Oscar and gaining a reputation for directing kids, comedies and musicals. His portfolio includes Boy’s Town, Skippy, Mad About Music and Girl Crazy. In the fifties he was Lewis and Martin’s go-to guy and in the sixties he was Elvis’. Live A Little, Love A Little was Taurog’s final credit and it isn’t at all bad. Well, it’s not anything like George and Ira Gershwin’s Girl Crazy, but it has a zany late sixties liberated social outlook and a clutch of decent performances. It’s strange Elvis never really played a mature, contemporary looking role until so late in his career. The liberated morality of this movie is something most of Presley’s films simply don’t aspire to – odd considering he partly ushered in the era of sexual liberation. The film is one of Elvis’ best efforts from the latter stage of his screen career and although it is an uneven piece, it entertains, is amusing and doesn’t bore you with dreary musical interludes.
Elvis plays photo-journalist Greg Nolan, whose life is turned upside down by a spoilt, endearing, kooky rich girl, Bernice, who after an initial introduction decides the best way to a man’s heart is to feed him LSD and interfere in every aspect of his life. Michele Carey is the stubborn, cheeky little chick and she sparks well with Elvis. The King also has a canine co-star to contend with and some of the best early humour involves Albert the mischievous Great Dane. There’s much to enjoy here, including trying to guess how much of wrietr Dan Greenburg’s original novel Kiss My Firm But Pliant Lips has been excised by Colonel Tom Parker to make it palatable for his perceived family audience. The Colonel really was a dunce; a man out of his time and depth; still that’s another story.
Bernice [Carey] seems to take lovers at will – it is only implied by Elvis that she is sleeping with all the men in her life, it is not stated so by her or the men – and a difficult relationship history is hinted at which causes her to become overprotective and act in an eccentric fashion. She also appears to be a model for hire [e.g. a prostitute], but again it is only implied – she turns up at a Playboy style party and quips: “A pretty girl can get an invite anywhere.” Cue oodles of complications and plenty of amusing incident. I don’t think I ever belly-laughed, but it was a charming ninety minutes which at least felt like I was watching a romantic comedy, not the usual Elvis singalong.
There are only four numbers and they are not at all bad. A Little Less Conversation became famous after being used in Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11 and was remixed by JXL into a UK number one hit in 2002. Here, in the original version, it plays nicely as a sensual lure to a pretty girl at a party, but doesn’t have any of the powerful drum n bass of the remix. Instead it’s a slightly funky number. Writer Billy Strange also wrote the film’s score so there’s some cohesion around the songs for a change. He mostly uses a lounge swing jazz style. Almost in Love is described by Bernice as “cocktail music” and it really does sound like the sort of track Sinatra might have recorded with Antonio Carlos Jobin, a smooth slow Bossa Nova. Wonderful World could easily slot into The Andy Williams Show. The Edge of Reality, which encompasses a dream sequence of some skill, reminded me of Jefferson Airplane, with its angry chords and diffused vocals. Blended expertly into the narrative, these songs conjure up the time and feel of the late sixties, something that most of the King’s movie material at the time simply didn’t, stuck as it was in a 1960 rock n rolling rut.
There is good thespian support too from Rudy Valee and Don Porter as competing ad executives, one conservative, the other liberal. There’s an amusing moment where Valee’s Mr Penrose is seen escorting one of Lansdown’s nude models on a date. Everyone sees it, no one breathes a word and the next morning Penrose’s attitudes to advertising have decidedly shifted to the liberated pantheons. Elvis himself juggles two jobs along with the ever more amusingly devious Bernice before finally realising he might just be ‘almost in love.’
Taurog keeps the film sprightly – no, he really does, lots of interesting split screen techniques, zippy camera angles, slow cranking, Blow Up style fashion shoots, etc – and if it occasionally flounders that’s probably the fault of the screenplay. Elvis enjoys himself for a change. I was reminded of the gleeful fun he exhibited in G.I. Blues while romancing Juliet Prowse and nursing crying babies. Here he has to nursemaid Michele Carey, who ultimately turns out to be a much more accommodating bed mate. While Elvis was never a great actor, this material suits him, as it might have suited Cary Grant, or perhaps someone hip like Peter O’Toole. We got Elvis and it's a nice little film which deserves a bigger reputation.
The critics were unkind and Live A Little, Love A Little flopped so badly in the U.S. the film was never given a worldwide release.
THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (1960)
The first of eight Roger Corman directed Richard Matheson scripted Edgar Allen Poe adaptations made for American International Pictures in the sixties, The Fall of the House of Usher is an undeniably dark and bleak experience.
The film focusses on two themes, most notably its main protagonist’s insanity. Vincent Price is splendid as the mad and dangerous Roderick Usher, a man who believes his whole family is doomed, a plague of souls on the barren land which surrounds his dilapidated mansion. He’s ably supported by Myrna Fahey as his sister, Madeleine, who may have a chance of happiness, but whose own sickness creates confusion for both Roderick and his unwanted guest, the suitor Philip Winthrop [Mark Damon]. The film tactfully ignores the catalepsy theme until it is almost too late and this brings the tragedy to a melodramatically satisfying apex. The film is tremendously creepy at its beginning, with the butler [Harry Ellerbe] being our early point of empathy. Corman and Matheson cleverly keep us guessing by switching sympathies and compassionate representations of each character and playing them against an opposite.
Fine Les Baxter music and lurid photography from Floyd Crosby add class. The sets are a bit cardboard cut-out but do the job mainly by being shot mostly in the dark. The climax is gripping and Corman’s closeup visuals of crazed faces and eyes and blooded hands work wonders considering the paltry budget involved.
PREY on Hulu. If you're not familiar with it, it's a new entry in the PREDATOR franchise.
This one is a prequel to all of the other films in the franchise. If you're not familiar with the franchise, it's essentially about a group of aliens who like to hunt and who go to various planets to collect hunting trophies. All of the other films in the franchise are set (more or less) in the present day.
This one is set in the 1700s in North America and the primary protagonist is Naru, a young Native American woman who wants to be a hunter with the boys/men of her tribe. One of the Predators arrives (a particularly nasty one, too) to hunt anything that moves. The film follows Naru as she and her tribe deal with this hunter. That's really all you need as setup...the film is pretty much an action feast.
This is a very solid entry. The actress playing Naru, Amber Midthunder, is very engaging. Also, she isn't a 'Mary Sue' at all...you see her practice, you see her fail, and you see her learn. She's not some mega-warrior right away and the film rightly ensures that she always feels in danger. The world of the film is also pretty rich and involving, featuring some beautiful location shooting and authentic feeling production design. The action is solid and pretty nasty.
Overall, I'd say that this is the second best film of the franchise (nothing has topped the 1987 original with Arnold Schwarzenegger). If you've seen the second film (PREDATOR 2, 1990), you'll enjoy a nice Easter Egg in PREY that ties back to it. Also: PREY ends with the possibility of a sequel and I'd love to see one.
I'm now doing a rewatch of the entire franchise. If I were to rank the films, I'd go thusly:
RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II (1985)
I watched this on the Cinemax cable channel and it’s the best print I’ve ever seen of this movie, absolutely crystal clear, well done Cinemax and Cignal TV for getting such a brilliant version.
This is the one where Rambo finds Vietnam POW’s still being held captive. As a pulp action movie this stands right at the top of the tree, there is action galore, over the top characters and it has a relentless pace.
I love this sort of movie, sit back in the recliner, bottle of ice cold beer and a slice of pizza, a perfect hour and a half.
Moonfall ...... Crap!
Skyraker is much better 😄
It's TERRIBLE. It's easily the worst of the Roland Emmerich disaster films by a wide, wide margin.
Bullet To Beijing (1995)
Michael Caine returns as Harry Palmer after decades away from the part. Nowhere near as good as the 60s films but I enjoyed it more than the last time I saw it.
Co-starring Jason Connery (there's a running joke about who his father is) and Burt Kwouk (more than one of ours).
A car chase in St Petersburg early on uses some of the same locations as GE.
Really loved it. Austin Butler is amazing. Not sure about Tom hanks as I felt is was a bit of a caricature but I don't know anything really about Colonel Parker so it may have been spot on.
Can't believe he was only 42 when he died. What a waste of a phenomenal talent.
CAPE FEAR (1991)
A remake of the 1962 original. Robert De Niro gives one of his darkest turns here as a psychopath determined to wreak vengeance on the lawyer he believes did not do enough to prevent his incarceration, in this middle-tier Scorsese picture. Nick Nolte is suitably desperate and despairing as the lawyer caught in the criminal’s plans, while Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis are loyal and headstrong respectively, as Nolte’s wife and daughter. Bond alumni Joe Don Baker appears as a smug yet ultimately incompetent sidekick, and there’s a small role for 1990s action stalwart (and US Senator!) Fred Dalton Thompson, but the film belongs to Robert De Niro’s Max Cady, an utterly vicious and chilling antagonist whose sadistic demeanour and repulsive backstory terrifies both Nolte and the audience. This is an action film which sets out to scare rather than thrill the viewer, which it achieves fairly effectively. Recommended.
"The spectre of defeat..."
As is often the case with remakes, the stars of the original make small appearances. Here, they play characters on the other side of where they were in the original- Robert Mitchum (for my money better than de Niro in the original) is a policeman while Gregory Peck is a lawyer defending Cady (de Niro).
Funnily enough I was talking to another member at the other place and when I mentioned the 1960s Harry Palmer was my favourite film trilogy they asked me if I'd seen the two 1990s Harry Palmer films and what I thought of them.
I've seen both these films after taping them off the TV years ago. I remember them being just OK. They weren't a patch on the 1960s films of course and it seemed like Michael Caine was playing a different character as Harry Palmer in them. That said, I'd certainly like to see Bullet to Beijing and Midnight in St. Petersburg again as I only saw them both once each well over a decade ago. I'm not sure if they're commercially available or not but if they are I'll have to track them down.
There you go, SM-
(1) Bullet to Beijing 1995 Michael Caine Full Movie HD - YouTube
Be aware that this is the shortened version (Sue Lloyd only gets a voiceover during a phonecall)
I've got both Bullet to Beijing and Midnight in St Petersburg on DVD, but I've yet to watch the former.
I saw Midnight in St Petersburg about 10 years ago - vaguely remember getting some enjoyment from it, but it was definitely average at best.
As for Bullet to Beijing, I do mean to find the time to watch it, but my motivation to do so is not particularly high, especially since I discovered that my DVD is also the version sans Sue Lloyd. 😕
Thanks, Barbel. Will have to give it another watch. I think I saw Midnight in St. Petersburg back in 2005 and Bullet to Beijing in 2010 so it's been a long while since I saw either film. I remember Sue Lloyd had a brief cameo as Jean Courtney in the first film. Pity that it's cut in some prints.