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  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,311MI6 Agent

    Talking of the age difference between Grant and Marie Saint in North By Northwest (Is the title ever explained, I know it's from Hamlet), I'll point out another decades-long age difference in a 1960s film shown over the Christmas period - Sid James and Barbara Windsor in Carry On Camping. I'm not sure if it makes it better or worse that Windsor is far older than the teen-age school girl she's meant to be portraying. In the Hitchcock film, Grant wanted it to be made clear that the younger woman is doing the hunting to make him appear non-predatory; it was the same in Charade with Audrey Hepburn.

    No such excuse with Sid in his Carry On caper - he's doing the running although Babs and her pal don't seem put out at all rather all part of the same anti-authoritarian team! Maybe it also 'helps' that Babs is depicted as a non-innocent and a bad girl; passing over the fact that State operatives in the Met and other police forces used that excuse when turning a blind eye or being actively involved in grooming gangs across the UK - 'Oh, don't worry about her, she's no innocent!' a time worn excuse certainly around in Christine Keeler's day.

    Carry On Screaming was also on and I caught a bit of it- that's a cut above in its production values. Harry H Corbett stood in very well for Sid James, though his character is still called 'Sid'. It's one of the few where you might think, should this be shown in widescreen?

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 227MI6 Agent

    TCM was running a ton of Marx Bros. movies last night, including a few that I'd never seen:

    New for me:

    MONKEY BUSINESS (1931). Very good. A bit scattershot but plenty of laughs. Would watch again.

    HORSE FEATHERS (1932). Better than MONKEY BUSINESS but still fairly scattershot. Would watch again.


    Seen before:

    A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1935): A masterpiece. Focused with many classic bits in it. Would absolutely watch again and again.

    A DAY AT THE RACES (1937): At least as good as OPERA, perhaps a tad better (I know, heresy). Would absolutely watch again and again.


    I recorded a few others to watch later, including ROOM SERVICE (1938) and AT THE CIRCUS (1939)

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,535Chief of Staff
    edited January 2

    At one point, Grant flies north using Northwest airlines. So, north by northwest.

    Yes, "Carry On Screaming" is a hoot, I loved it.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    Nice reflections on the festive movie scene guys. Many old favourites to watch and quite a few new ones, but to be honest, these films are on all the time these days. Unfortunately I missed An American in Paris yesterday as I didn't wake up - it was New Year's Day - c'mon! Below is my review of Charade, which was on a little before Christmas week.

    Not entirely in keeping with the thread, but in keeping with the Christmassy theme of the moment, I started watching the bloody Hootenanny thing with the fawning, sycophant Jools Holland, who always seems to have his rich mates drinking and singing and having a good time when the rest of us are in abject poverty or feeling like it. Hate the show FULLSTOP. It doesn't help he kicks off with Sir Rod who has a gravelly voice shot to hell and a series of nonentities who can't pronounce a single word without garbling it. Is this really what singing has come to in 2023?

    After the fireworks - YAWN - did anyone notice Sadiq taking credit? THE MAYOR OF LONDON PRESENTS... how narcissistic is that? - I watched Rick Astley, a lad from my era, who sang good tunes including some swing, and who ensured I could hear every word without the use of subtitles. It was ashamedly fun and frivolous and much more enjoyable than Jools pandering to his pals.

    Anyway, let's f* that get on with the film reviews:

    CHARADE (1963)

    An elegant comedy thriller with Audrey Hepburn being pursued around Paris by a cabal of villains seeking the fortune her murdered husband has stolen from them – but can she trust suave Cary Grant or is he also after the quarter of a million dollars? Variously described as ‘the best Hitchcock film Hitchcock never made’ or ‘miraculous entertainment from a slim premise’, Charade is an enjoyable romp around the streets of the French capital which bizarrely avoids the sophisticated trappings you’d expect to see Hepburn and Grant occupy and relies instead on downbeat sets and autumnal looking streets. There’s no Champs Elysée or the Louvre here, just a stroll along an autumnal River Seine and a chase around a grimy Paris Metro station. Even the hotel looks a dump. Miss Hepburn however is kitted out in beautiful Givenchy gowns and looks as Parisian as you’d expect her to, such an eager clothes horse is she. Very beautiful too in that elfin, posh and ever so slightly haughty manner she inhabits. It’s a delightful performance nonetheless, displaying a certain frantic charm as the murders come and go and the deceptions mount. She’s given plenty to be wide-eyed and fearful of: George Kennedy’s hook-handed nasty and James Coburn’s snarling jackass chief among them. Dialogue highlights are too numerous to quote. Cary Grant was sensitive about the age gap between him and his co-star and, truth be told, it does show a little, but when he’s revisiting past roles – flashes of performances from films like Suspicion and North By Northwest immediately spring to mind – those Hitchcock greats – it doesn’t seem to matter because we’re all having so much fun. Well directed by Stanley Donen who achieves the perfect blend of mystery and suspense, including one or two grisly shocks to the system as well as a couple of moments of genuine surprise. The back screen projection spoils much of the exteriors though. The eventual reveal of where the money is is ingenious and sets up a breathless finale. Henry Mancini’s music score is excellent and the song was a winner. Lovely entertainment for sure. Rather like Cary Grant, age has rubbed the edges off its shine, but the movie is still a class act and you can’t help but have good feelings watching it. 

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 227MI6 Agent

    CHARADE is the best Hitchcock film that Hitchcock did not actually direct. It's fantastic and features a level of writing that is at a completely different level of quality compared to its peers. The scene at the ski chalet where Grant and Hepburn first meet is about as good as it gets in terms of writing and line delivery.

    One of my wife's favorite films.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    MINDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (1985)

    I caught this on New Year’s Day this year, several decades after it first premiered on ITV on Christmas Day 1985. Then it was in direct competition with Only Fools and Horses [the one with the diamond smuggling] and subsequently lost out in the ratings battle. That doesn’t make Orient Express a bad Minder episode; yes, it is long and a little lethargic, but the humour is honest and the acting good even if the format is stretched to near breaking point by the time the climax arrives in a suitably downbeat fashion. In fact, in the same manner riches always eluded the Trotter family, they evade Arthur Daley and his sidekick Terry McCann with equal aplomb. Here the eighteen year old daughter of a long dead gangster is set to inherit millions if she can decipher the clues left in her dad’s will. After Terry saves her from her dad’s old rivals, he’s presented with tickets for a trip on the Orient Express as a reward and ends up taking Arthur Daley instead of his girlfriend. Arthur’s very mean to poor Terry, a running gag which feels especially unkind this time around. Still the boys have a laugh avoiding the bad guys and Det Sgt Chisolm, Arthur’s nemesis who has somehow wangled himself a secondment with Interpol observing the exact same hoodlums Arthur and Terry want to avoid. Cue laughter and some comedy violence. Nothing goes the way anybody wants and the clues are lost in a pretty French river.

    A whole roster of guest stars, including our own Honor Blackman, make the thing watchable and it is a lot of good natured fun. A decade or so earlier this sort of project would have been farmed out to Hammer or Rank or Lew Grade and released as a cinema spin off, it has that kind of half-baked polish to it, not quite cinema, too good for telly. Curiously, the Only Fools… episode also saw its cast go abroad – to Amsterdam – and was shot on film so there was no laughter track. My memory of that episode was that without the studio audience, I didn’t laugh as much as I used to.

    Watching Minder in 2023 was a little gem of a memory, from a time when the show was still considered ground breaking for its characters and stories. George Cole is excellent as Arthur Daley as he swaps insults and put downs with Terry, the police and all and sundry. Dennis Waterman is almost his equal. The two have an acting relationship as close to a double act as you can get, probably closer even that Jason and Lyndhurst as Del Boy and Rodney, because the thorns in their characters are so more visible; Del Boy is a loser from the out, Daley is not, he makes money despite his dodgy reputation, so here we are loving a rogue not loving a lovable rogue. McCann clearly has something of the rogue about him too [notice his easy way with women and his fists] or he wouldn’t feel and act the same way.

    For all its simplicity and rather dated look, I quite enjoyed this. It was a minor delight and that was all I wanted while nursing the New Year Blues.    

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,360MI6 Agent

    I saw this last year on BritBox before I stopped subscribing to that platform and thought it was great fun, certainly much better than the Amsterdam OFAH Xmas Special which is one of the poorest episodes of that series.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,311MI6 Agent
    edited January 3

    It's odd how no laugh track can sink a sitcom, this must have been a problem with some of the big screen spin offs of the 1970s, that said I suppose if you caught the film in the first week or so with a packed cinema it would work very well - it was the same with the snow surf scene in the AVTAK credits - a big appreciative laugh at Odeon Leicester Square, fell flat on second viewing in the summer hols.

    It's said that the lack of a laugh track marred one episode of Only Fools to the extent it was banned in effect - I think it was a Christmas one in which Del Boy embarrassed Rodney who is dating a posh woman and both get invited to the Manor House, and to the ballet - Del goes beyond the pale and some say that had it been done in front of a studio audience it might have worked as David Jason would have cued his performance according to the laughter, the episode got re-edited for the DVD release.

    Gavin & Stacey works well without a laugh track, but Mrs Brown Boys less so - I don't hate this one despite others' views, but it would have struggled I imagine in its big screen spin off.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    Mrs Brown's Boys did struggle without an audience @Napoleon Plural chiefly because the actors had no laughter to react to and enhance their already grotesque performances. I quite enjoy this sitcom despite the potty mouths. Minder, of course, never had an audience so the actors need to generate more genuine, nuanced, identifiable characters which is where the humour then stems from. Hated Gavin & Stacey, but Him & Her was good as well as that recent thing about the dud policemen [Blue Lights?], but it is all to do with characters and the deftness of the actors. I notice mainstream US comedy is choosing the recorded way too, Brooklyn Nine Nine being the most obvious.

  • LoeffelholzLoeffelholz The United States, With LovePosts: 8,993Quartermasters

    I have the DVD with both versions. Like @Barbel, I am quite the Chandler afficionado (there is a direct line to Fleming, of course, because of their friendship late in Chandler's life)...and the moment when the cinematic Marlowe retrieves a hidden gun from beneath his dashboard makes my heart sing. Oscar Jade will have a similar contrivance in my next project 🍻

    Check out my Amazon author page! Mark Loeffelholz
    "I am not an entrant in the Shakespeare Stakes." - Ian Fleming
    "Screw 'em." - Daniel Craig, The Best James Bond EverTM
  • 00730073 COPPosts: 1,050MI6 Agent

    I just watched Roger Moore classic Escape to Athena. I did not remember how good it was. RM did some smashing war movies including that and The Wild Geese.

    "I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
    -Mr Arlington Beech
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    This come belatedly after my reviews of the sixties movies [ posts #11754, #11760, #11772 ]. No excuses, I just hadn't seen it recently until a few days ago:

    BULLET TO BEIJING (1995)

    Michael Caine ranked his experience of making this film and its follow up Midnight in St Petersburg as so terrible he vowed never to make a movie again. Some vow. He was back within a year alongside Jack Nicholson in Blood and Wine and has only just announced a more likely permanent retirement in 2023, almost thirty years on. He was 61 when he made the film which revisits his break out role of Harry Palmer.

    Bullet to Beijing is no masterpiece of cinema. In fact the producers considered it so poor they shovelled it out as a television movie. That’s a trifle unjust, although the movie does compare unfavourably to Goldeneye, the Bond entry of the same year. What is noticeable is that Caine’s Harry Palmer retains a working class chip on his shoulder and while his actions and reactions may be physically slower – even a resigned shrug at his summary dismissal from the British Secret Service seems achingly conveyed – his mind is still working as sharp as it did in the 1960s. Caine presents Harry Palmer as a weary observer of life and all its dubious character. He’s still chasing Sue Lloyd’s Jean, still tied to his spectacles, still equipped with a cheeky response to an unexpected question, still offering laconic glances over changing faces, his own countenance indefatigable and inscrutable. I enjoy this older version of Harry, a man clearly attempting to cling to his youth, but recognising youth really does do things better or at least with more urgency and less fear. So he turns down the opportunity of midnight passion with ice maiden Mia Sara in favour of breakfast and information. The story is populated by old spies and spy networks, all creaking and groaning under the new freedoms of Glasnost. It looks much like an easy and only excuse to employ some over the hill actors like Michael Sarrazin and Burt Kwok. Michael Gambon makes a brief impression as one of the new breed of gangster oligarchs, Alexei Alexeyevich, or Alex for short.

    The plot involves the assassination of a Russian chemist in London during a demonstration outside the North Korean Embassy. Harry witnesses the killing, but after filing his report and requesting to pursue the case, his superior, Col Wilson [Patrick Allen] retires him on a pauper’s pension. Instead, Harry takes a freelance role in St Petersburg, chiefly because he has been given a free air ticket and an envelope full of US dollars. There he is followed and almost killed by Chechen rebels, although why is never made entirely clear. It makes for a diverting river boat chase though. His contact is Jason Connery, who as Nikolai proves once again that he is not a touch on his dad in the acting stakes. It later transpires Nikolai may be Palmer’s son, but the British agent denies it. Luckily this revelation comes much too late to spoil proceedings, which could have descended into a dire secret service version of Indy & the Last Crusade. Instead, Harry sponges around the city meeting old friends and contacts of the espionage game, most of them retired, all of them on a take of some kind and some of them out to play Harry Palmer for a fool.

    But Harry Palmer is no fool, he never was and he still isn’t. Alex wants Harry to find out who has stolen the formula for a biological weapon called Alorex and the hunt leads Harry to take the cross continental bullet train to Beijing where all his old foes and friends start to crawl out of the sidings. I enjoyed the early section of the film, where the incidents seem to pile on top of poor Harry Palmer, making it a sort of modern picaresque picture as he stumbles out of one crisis and into another. Strange things continue to occur to Harry – being tossed off a train, crashlanding an Antonov airplane, threatened with poisoning – yet he always seems both distracted and one step ahead – you can tell from the way Caine indicates matters with a flick of the lip, a sly eye roll, a deep gaggle of laughter. If his enemies believe they are playing Harry Palmer, they have it all wrong, for he is just as adept at playing them.

    The eventual reveal is clever, but leaves several questions unanswered and this doesn’t help our enjoyment. The basic storyline is easy to follow, but the extra characters and the interwoven stories fail to hold up. I was reminded of The Living Daylights as the gist of the villain’s plan seems to be not about selling biological warfare secrets but about exporting heroin for massive profit. I got thoroughly lost during the scenes onboard the bullet train. It seemed very strange to have three cohorts of people working for the same person, none of whom are aware the others exist, and this aspect of the story wasn’t satisfactorily explained at all. Nor were the early gunbattles involving the Chechens. The scenes on the bullet train where Palmer uncovers the secret cache of weapons in a packing case in the cargo car reminded me of an old Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movie where he keeps opening coffins on a train in the search for a fantastic diamond. I anticipated Col Wilson reappearing at the end to offer Palmer his job back, but this wheel of fortune was overlooked. The finale is plenty messy anyway and makes no obvious sense simply because we can’t tell who is shooting at who and why.

    The movie was written by Peter Welbeck, a pseudonym for the producer Harry Alan Towers. Towers was most famous for making cheap, quick knock off movies in Hong Kong and Europe, stuff like the sixties Fu Manchu cycle. He promoted them as big budget spectacles, but they were not. His script is functional at best. Sadly, no actor really seizes the mantle, preferring to slum it and run, so the project flounders most of the time, even if it has an interesting premise and a starry sounding cast.

    Bullet to Beijing is not the disaster critics and Michael Caine would have you believe, but it doesn’t gratify in the way the sixties Harry Palmer films did, lacking a cynical edge, a decent music score and any fun, elegantly framed photography. It is spectacularly ordinary, which is a complement of sorts, but only makes us wish for a movie with a little more substance. It might have been better had the producers persuaded Len Deighton to tighten up the script, but although the author’s name appeared on some promotional material, he had no connection with the film at all. Bullet to Beijing remains a disappointing lost opportunity to reignite a successful film series.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    THE MUMMY (2017)

    A would-be epic horror update for the CGI generation filmed with almost all its action scenes in semi to near darkness. Ultimately unsatisfactory, this was selected as the first in a series of movies set in the ‘dark universe’ and based on characters featured in the old Universal Pictures horror cycle. So in addition to Tom Cruise’s amateur tomb raider and Annabella Wallis’ archaeologist, we also have Russell Crowe’s Dr Jekyll, a sort of amateur Indiana Jones out to control and eliminate all evils starting with Sofia Boutella’s Princess Ahmanet, the mummified daughter of a murdered Pharoah. The film doesn’t deserve close examination. It suffers from poor characterisation and obvious comparisons to the more traditional 1999 version. Apparently, Tom Cruise virtually took over direction wielding a ‘creative control’ contract under the noses of his employers. Whatever vision there was for this comic strip Marvel superhero impersonation bit the dust like the resuscitated zombies. All style, and not a good style, and no substance. Very bland, if periodically entertaining.  

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 227MI6 Agent


    While a failure, I did rather like Crowe's 100% committed performance as Dr. Jekyll. He was going to be the 'Nick Fury' of the Dark Universe had it moved forward.

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,360MI6 Agent
    edited January 6

    MY COUSIN VINNY (1992)

    I’ve seen a whole bunch of movies over the last month without having had time to post reviews - so let’s start with My Cousin Vinny.

    Karate Kid Ralph Macchio and Mitchell Whitfield are two New York youngsters who are put on trial in Alabama for a murder they didn’t commit. They are defended by Macchio’s cousin Vinny who has just passed his bar exam at the sixth attempt. This is a very funny movie with excellent performances from Joe Pesci as Vinny, Marisa Tomei as his fiancée and Herman Munster Fred Gwynne as the judge. The court proceedings have been praised by lawyers and the script is sharp, even if a little obvious. Lane Smith and Bruce McGill are good as the prosecuting counsel and local sheriff.

    Well worth watching.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    That's a good one @CoolHandBond I too have been working my way through reviews from December. This one, though, is from yesterday which I caught by accident while prepping dinner.

    THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1973)

    John Phillip Law takes on the mantle of Sinbad the Sailor following on from Douglas Fairbanks Jr [the best, IMO], Dale Robertson, Kerwin Matthews and the little known Guy Williams [Captain Sinbad, 1963]. He’s okay as Arabian Nights’ heroes go and to be fair the movie doesn’t require him to do an awful lot as it is mostly special effects and good looking scenery, including castles in Mallorca and deserts and mountains in Spain. Ray Harryhausen is in charge of the SFX.

    The plot involves the disfigured Vizir of Marabia, who is engaged in a long standing feud with the dark lord Koura. He wishes to beat his rival to the kingdom on a hunt for a lost fantastic treasure. The Vizir has an ancient clue: one third of a magnificent gold amulet. Sinbad has another third. During his last sea voyage he fortuitously stole it from Koura. At first Sinbad is reluctant to join forces, but when he spies the beautiful Margiana and her all-seeing-eye tattoo, he is instantly aroused – sorry, intrigued – for he has been dreaming about her ever since he laid hands on her – sorry, the amulet.

    Caroline Munro as Margiana is the brightest, prettiest scenery in this movie. She purrs with beauty in a series of low cut bosom heaving outfits. Wow. Tom Baker is pretty good too as the wicked Koura; although he certainly isn’t pretty, growing steadily older, greyer and more wrinkly as each of his black magic spells takes years off his life. The great Ted Moore is the photographer so we know why everything looks pretty.

    The adventure romps along in a lazy, languid style and to be honest it rarely gets out of third gear, but it is never dull to look at and becomes curiously compelling despite the see-through plot and the generally sub-par acting. A trifle old fashioned, it lacks the zest and verve of Harryhausen’s original Sinbad, but the sword fight with a six-armed Kali is worth waiting for and the griffin v the centaur battle proves a fitting stop-motion climax. These moments are as good as anything we saw in The Seventh Voyage of….

    A decent stab at reinventing an almost lost cinematic art. There would be another equally successful and equally languorous epic a few years later, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,846MI6 Agent
    edited January 6

    Konvoi (2023)

    As far as I know this movie doesn't have an English title yet, but the title translated to "convoy". The importance of the merchant navy seamen for the outcome of WWII can barely be overstated, but this is in no way reflected in the movies. As far as I know only two movies focus on their experiences, and both are Norwegian. "War Sailor" (2022) and Konvoi that premiered this Christmas. The first movie followed a couple of sailors from before the outbreak of war in Norway to modern times. Konvoi focuses on one ship going to Murmansk in the USSR. The ship and convoy is fictional, but it resembles the ill-fated PQ-17 and one ship in that convoy. Winston Churchill described the Arctic convoys from the US and UK to Murmansk as "the worst journey in the world", and its a fair claim. The war couldn't have been won without the sacrifices of these brave civilian sailors. Like PQ-17 the convoy in the movie is broken up and the navy escort runs away because of rumours that German battleships had left their hiding places in the fjords of northern Norway. Every merchant ship was now on their own. The tension, fear and very difficult choices the captain has to make are shown. The acting and movie making is very good and I never had a full moment. There are moments in the movie that gave me pause, such as when a man falls overboard and the captain decides not to risk picking him up. This was standing orders in a convoy, but this happens after the convoy was broken up. There was no very good reason not to save him in that situation. But the movie is still good and it shows us a time and setting that's both exciting and important and we rarely see in movies or on TV. Catch it if you can.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,846MI6 Agent
    edited January 6

    Rio Grande (1950)

    This movie is directed by John Ford and stars John Wayne, as all good westerns should. Wayne plays Yorke, a cavalry officer in charge of fighting Apaches on the border of Mexico. His estranged son enlists as a private and gets posted to his father's unit. Soon after follows his estranged wife Kathleen (Maureen O'Hara) to get their son out of the unit and trouble. Neither senior or jr. goes along with the plan. The background is that she was from a plantation family in the South and he stayed in the Union army out of his great sense of duty. This broke them apart. The movie glamourizes the cavalry quite a bit, portraying them as an elite foreign legion type unit fighting an underdog war against the Apache. for some reason the fort is full of children and adoring wives. The movie has a lot of singing. This probably somewhat reflects real life since people back then didn't have access to Spotify and had to make the music if they wanted to hear it. It still slows the movie down. While I haven't read much of this conflict I question this portrayal and I suspect a movie that shows the events of this movie from the Apache POW would be very different. But it's the way many saw things back in the day and the movie should be seen with this in mind. The reasons for not sending a military unit into the territory of another country that it isn't at war with is called "diplomatic hide-and-seek". In real life it's much more serious than that. But here is much to admoire in this movie. Much of Rio Grande is set in Monument Valley, so the location can't be bettered. The star quality of Wayne and O'Hara is also obvious. The bottom line is that this is a Western classic and I'm glad i saw it. A few notes:

    • The lead singer in the Regimental Singers later moved on to play Festus in Gunsmoke.
    • The actor who plays the officer wearing an eye patch was in the OSS (forerunner to the CIA and Special Forces) during WWII.


  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 227MI6 Agent
    edited January 7

    GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD is a personal favorite of mine. In truth, I rate the dancing Kali statue to be the single finest bit of animation that Harryhausen ever did.


    Of interest: Robert Shaw did an uncredited cameo in the film as the oracle!


  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,360MI6 Agent
    edited January 7

    THE UNINVITED (1944)

    “They call them the haunted shores, these stretches of Devonshire, Cornwall and Ireland which rear up against the Westward ocean. Mists gather here and sea fog and eerie stories. That's not because there are more ghosts here than in other places, mind you. It's just that people who live hereabouts are strangely aware of them. You see, day and night, year in, year out, they listen to the pound and stir of the waves — there's life and death in that restless sound, and eternity too. If you listen to it long enough, all your senses are sharpened. You come by strange instincts; you get to recognise a peculiar cold which is the first warning — a cold which is no mere matter of degrees farenheit, but a draining of warmth from the vital centres of the living. Local people tell me they would have felt it, even outside that locked door. We didn't. They can't understand why we didn't know what it meant when our dog wouldn't go up those stairs. Animals see the blasted things, it appears! Well, my sister Pamela and I knew nothing about such matters — not then, we didn't. We had the disadvantage of being Londoners, just down for a fortnight's rest. That tenth day of May, 1937 was the end of our holiday…”

    And so Ray Milland’s narration begins this absolutely wonderful gothic romantic horror movie. This 1944 Paramount production is one of the few genuinely scary supernatural films that Hollywood has committed to film, a fine and intelligent movie of mystery, romance, thrills and subtle comedy.

    The Uninvited tells the story of a brother and sister (Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey) who, while on holiday in Cornwall discover a deserted house overlooking the sea. Upon investigation they find that the house is for sale at what seems a suspiciously low price. They make the purchase from a reserved Donald Crisp, whose beautiful granddaughter, Gail Russell, Milland takes a shine to. However, once Milland and Hussey move into Windward House they discover that it's haunted — but not just by one ghost, but two. They also learn that the house holds a terrible secret which somehow involves Miss Russell.

    The Uninvited is a classically structured ghost story which, while employing all the cliches of the form — both literary and cinematic - never becomes tiresome, even on repeated viewings. I first saw this in the mid 60’s on television and it scared me so much I had to sleep with the light on that night, and every viewing since has been a magical, joyous experience. Much of this durability is due to the performances of all players. Milland is perfect as the music critic who buys the house only to find he has also bought a couple of ghosts and his nervous joking when he hears the eerie sobbing which pervades the house at night strikes the tone for the rest of the film. Likewise, Ruth Hussey is excellent as his levelheaded sister. Gail Russell brings an vulnerable innocence to her role as the young girl haunted by the spirits of Windward House. Alan Napier (Batman’s butler Alfred two decades later) is the friendly local doctor — the first person to take seriously the idea that Windward is actually haunted.

    Like the best of the genre (1963’s The Haunting, for instance) The Uninvited is at its best when merely suggesting the horrible. Of the film's many assets is the superb screenplay and Charles Lang's crisp black and white photography of Hans Dreier and Ernst Fegte's sets. Farciot Edouart's special effects are spooky, and although dated, they pervade the film with menace.

    If you haven’t seen it and like ghost stories then this is essential viewing.

    This is a long review for me - shows how good it is!!

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    I have never even heard of this movie @CoolHandBond so I may well look it up.

    I, meanwhile, saddled myself with this:

    SEA DEVILS (1953)

    Rock Hudson and Yvonne de Carlo get caught up in the Napoleonic Wars. A historical misadventure filmed in the UK by Raoul Walsh for RKO Pictures and based on a Victor Hugo novel, which all reads on paper as if it ought to be a success. Sea Devils is simply horrendous. A very poorly designed and executed film, so bad not even Rock Hudson’s almost permanently exposed pecs can distract one from the dreadful mess around him. A terrible result for everyone concerned.

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,360MI6 Agent
    edited January 7

    I’m sure you would not be disappointed @chrisno1 and I would also love to read your review of this movie.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    THE BULL OF THE WEST (1971)

    James Drury was The Virginian in Universal’s TV series of the same name which featured as guest stars a host of big names or soon to be big names in its run from 1962 – 1971. This is a mash up of two episodes filmed two years apart and struggling to fit together. Basically it was an excuse by Universal to pitch on screen a host of recent movie stars like Charles Bronson and George Kennedy. It isn’t very good and the television origins show, as do the storylines ripped off from The Big Country, Shane and others. Bronson’s role in particular lacks both sympathy and logic, as does the editing which seems to have been performed with an axe. Terrible title.   

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,360MI6 Agent

    THEATRE OF BLOOD (1973)

    This is remarkably similar to the Dr. Phibes movies of the previous two years but even better.

    Vincent Price plays the supposedly dead Edward Lionheart, a Shakespearean ham actor who was never popular with the critics. Taking all the harsh criticism to heart (especially after he was denied a prestigious award) he proceeds to elaborately bump off the Critics' Circle responsible by perpetuating a series of brutal killings; the twist being that they’re all inspired by murders from Shakespearean plays. Producer Sam Jaffe managed to sign up a whole raft of British talent including Diana Rigg (as Lionheart’s daughter), Harry Andrews, Ian Hendry, Robert Morley, Jack Hawkins, Arthur Lowe, Dennis Price, Diana Dors and Madeline Smith amongst others - wow!

    Apart from Matthew Hopkins (Witchfinder General) this is Vincent Price’s career best role and he tackles a series of set pieces that allow him to combine his horror-ham persona perfectly with some genuinely high quality Shakespearean performances as he sadistically dispatches those legends. His “to be or not to be" speech has genuine pathos. There are some predictable funny one-liners and director Douglas Hickox assembles his cast nicely, he said that they were all so good that all he had to do was open the dressing room door and let the cameras roll.

    Shot entirely on location in London at the now demolished Putney Hippodrome, Kensal Green Cemetary and Albert Embankment, it’s a glorious sight to behold when London was the greatest city in the world.

    The biggest surprise is that it was not a Hammer, Amicus or Tigon production.

    Fabulous, fun entertainment.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • 00730073 COPPosts: 1,050MI6 Agent

    I'm on a Roger Moore -run! I watched yesterday "The North Sea Hijack", another smashing RM appearance. Absolutely fantastic! And to think that his previous one was Moonraker. Must have worked as some kind of therapy after that one.

    Both movies can be found in Yo! -tube!!!


    "I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
    -Mr Arlington Beech
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent

    1917 (2019)

    An effective, if downbeat war movie filmed with plenty of camera trickery to make the action appear a seamless single take. We know it isn’t and occasionally the method becomes a distraction rather than an aide memoire. It doesn’t help that Laszlo Nemes award-winning and similarly shot Son of Saul (2015) outdoes it by being prepared to cut its long takes to increase tension and switch POV. Here, the camera stays rigidly fixed behind or to the side of its protagonists, sweeping rather than jumping and jiving. For a war movie it is remarkably steady and therefore remarkably shallow. Director Sam Mendes, photographer Roger Deakins and editor Lee Smith do their utmost to stun and entertain, yet the picaresque, Odyssean nature of 1917 too often feels leaden. The story is based on the recollections of Mendes’ own grandfather, Alfred, a Great War veteran, but if it feels authentic, it also feels methodical and soulless. The film is bookended by George Mackay’s PTSD sufferer reclining against a tree, task waiting, task completed, exhausted by the death and bullets, the wet and mud and the sheer inconsequentiality of everything. Moments of quiet are interspersed with sharp, vicious bouts of violence, painted for us in vivid canvases of night fires, crashing rivers and exploding biplanes. The sound editing is magnificent as the ricochets peel past your ears, the birdsong gathers momentum in the air and a lone choir boy sings a folk song in the far distance, an echo growing stronger by interminable second. These bravura moments though do not translate well to the unbelievable and historically suspect story – I noted inaccuracies in the geography of the landscape and military procedure as well as the inclusion of ethnic faces in British battledress [all ‘ethics’ had their own regiments in WW1] and I am not even an expert – some scenes are even familiar from other movies, The English Patient springs to mind. So 1917 is a fine, stately piece of work. Mendes, after Bond and even before and during, seems to err on the cautious side of things, becoming ever more like David Lean, meticulous and precise but lacking an overarching heart. Here the theme of hopelessness becomes more important than the heroics, so it is a downbeat story. In a bad year for Academy Awards it was a favourite for Best Picture, but lost, which sums the whole show up to be honest.      

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,360MI6 Agent

    THE TIME MACHINE (1960)

    In his London home a young man known only as George (Rod Taylor), is holding a demonstration for four dinner guests. He attempts to illustrate the possibility of movement through time with a miniature toy vehicle, it disappears but his friends remain sceptical but accept his invitation to dinner five nights later.

    Alone, George goes straight to his conservatory and climbs into the seat of a full size replica of the vehicle he made disappear, it’s a time machine and pulls the lever. The walls shake, lights dim and he is off on a journey through time - into the future.

    From 1899 his first stop is 1917. The passage of time is shown by the changing fashion in the clothes shop opposite. His home has been boarded up and the street vastly changed. He pushes ahead in time again, finding World War Two in progress in 1940 and a nuclear holocaust raging in the year 1966. He sets the controls for further into the future and finally arrives in the year 802,701 AD. He steps into an apparent paradise and meets the Eloi. the people of the future, rescuing Weena (Yvette Mimieux) from drowning when none of her friends go to her aid. Returning to his time machine he discovers It is missing, apparently dragged behind the locked doors of a massive bronze statue. A terrified Weena blames it on the Morlocks. who live beneath the surface of the earth. George then has to battle the Morlocks to retrieve the time machine to return to the past.

    This is director George Pal’s finest movie, Rod Taylor is a good lead star and Yvette Mimieux is an attractive damsel-in-distress. Alan Young is excellent as George’s friend Filby and there is a par for one of my favourite character actors Whit Bissell, who played the undertaker in the same years The Magnificent Seven and co-starred in the late 60’s TV series The Time Tunnel (nice coincidence).

    The special effects hold up well - superior sci-fi and I think author H G Wells would have liked it.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,319MI6 Agent
    edited January 12

    Interesting that @Number24 watched Rio Grande the other day.

    SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949)

    The second of John Ford’s famous Cavalry Trilogy sees John Wayne playing against type as a compassionate army captain who, as he approaches retirement, decides to embark on a one-man mission to prevent bloodshed on the plains. The film is most notable for the fabulous technicolour photography from Winton C. Hoch – this was only director Ford’s second colour film, so he was a virtual novice – as well as an exceptional performance from Wayne as the tough spoken, yet sensitive Nathan Brittles, a man married to the army, who lost his wife and daughters during service and sees partial redemption in the flowering romance between his superior’s troublesome niece and a fledgling lieutenant. Wayne was in a fine run of movies, having just completed Red River, Wake of the Red Witch and Fort Apache, he would grace Sands of Iwo Jima, Rio Grande, The Quiet Man, Hondo and The High and the Mighty among others, before a culmination of sorts in another technicolour Ford spectacle set in Monument Valley, The Searchers. While that film is famous for its lead character’s hatred of the Red Indian, and a volte face which makes little sense, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon wears its slightly pacifist flag on its shoulder as Wayne’s elder statesman of a soldier, a veteran of Indian wars and Civil Wars, finally tires of the killing. The message is confused somewhat by the finale’s unlikely twist. Truth be told, the story, while not particularly violent towards the Native Americans, promotes the cavalry and the white man’s history of the United States without much criticism, mostly due to an unnecessary narrative voiceover.

    The film is better viewed as an evocative observation of cavalry life, the drudgery of the fort, the cold wet winters, the vast landscapes and rugged terrains, the endless dust, the rudimentary medical facilities, the constant bored bickering and the genial familiarity of the officers. I enjoyed the little touches best, like the lazy dogs on patrol or the multinational makeup of the army [Swedes, Germans, Irish, etc]. The humour is well placed, if a little heavy handed. There’s a very dull bout of comedy fisticuffs towards the film’s climax which seems out of place, although it is a well-intentioned. Many plot holes and inconsistencies abound.

    If anything, the film is grand a demonstration of John Wayne’s acting abilities, which had been doubted even by the director. The film’s relatively quiet trajectory allows so much more of Brittles’ personality to be revealed as he deals with warring Indians, subordinates and awkward women. The scenes where Brittles ‘reports’ the day’s events at his dead wife’s graveside, or when he receives a simply inscribed retirement pocket watch, or when he allows his inebriate sergeant a sup of whiskey, or stoically offers his tobacco pouch while witnessing the killing of a gunrunner, or consistently delivers orders without prejudice, or talks peace with Pony-That-Walks demonstrate the skill Wayne had learnt and taught himself during the long apprenticeship in B-movies and a decade as a western and war movie star on RKO’s payroll. He would continue to get better, but he was rarely so gentle again.  

    A great performance from a great star in a famous movie.

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,360MI6 Agent

    DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY (1974)

    Sleazy crooks Larry (Peter Fonda) and Deke (Adam Roarke) pull off a robbery in a supermarket managed by an uncredited Roddy McDowall. The money is for Larry to enter a NASCAR racing tournament on the other side of the country. But he has just had a one-night stand with pretty blonde, Mary (Susan George), and he's not very happy to see her sat in the passenger seat of his getaway vehicle. She insists on tagging along, and with the police on their trail sooner than expected, they have no choice but to let her ride along. Sheriff Franklin (Vic Morrow) is in pursuit; outwitted at almost every turn, as he commands his troops in the air from a police helicopter.

    So, ninety minutes of car chases, with some humour and crashes along the way. With some rough ‘of its time' dialogue, Fonda’s Larry is unkind and selfish. Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry epitomises the ‘70s American car chase movie, despite being directed by Londoner John Hough. There's little characterisation and it ends as quickly as it begins, but that's not a negative. There’s a downbeat ending typical of the era.

    If you like car chases then it’s well worth watching.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,846MI6 Agent

    Havana (1995)

    Sydney Pollack made the very successful "out of Africa" in 1985 with Robert Redford as the male lead and it was a blockbuster. It's no wonder they tried again. "Havana" takes place in the last week of 1958, and there is no prizes for guessing where the story takes place. Redford plays a professional gambler looking for the win of his life. He runs into Lena Olin's character named ..... Bobby. Even though she is Swedish I was surprised to learn that she plays a Sweden, because she could easily play Cuban with her look. It's clear Bobby smugles military equipment, but not before Redford's character falls in love and saves her. He discovers Bobby is married to one of the leaders of the coming revolution. I'm not going to say more about the plot than this: the basic plot is the same as a major movie classic.

    You may have guessed I was never in Cuba in 1958, but I felt I did while watching this movie. A city of glamour, mafia, sin, oppression and social differences. The only two words in that sentence that can be used to describe my childhood is "A" and "of". Anyway, it looks great on screen, and so do the actors. Could the lack of success for the movie be that two of the leads are Castro supporters? Could be ...

    Not that Robert Redford's character is commie. He's a non-political romantic cynic. But Bobby and her husband are Castro supporters, and the movie doesn't question that much. It should be said that it was still an open question if Castro was really a communists in 1958. While "Out of Africa" is a better movie, but I enjoyed watching Havana, most of all because of the stars and the depiction of Cuba back then.

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