Skimming through prime video, I came across this very well made film.
A rather forgotten picture from 1964, starring the legend Sir Sean Connery, Gina Lollobrigida and Ralph Richardson.
Cleverly plotted drama, fine acting and unexpected twists.
Vibrant colors, dark hues, 2 hours 2 minutes.
A masterpiece by Basil Dearden.
I’ve always liked Woman Of Straw and Connery is excellent in this. Snooty critics dismissed it, but let’s be honest, what do they know?
Not a lot.
PRETTY WOMAN (1990)
Romantic comedy without much humour beyond the bedroom, but charmingly played and presented by Richard Gere, Julia Roberts and director Garry Marshall. Unlikely looking L.A. prostitute Vivian [Roberts] is running out of cash but lucks in after being pulled by hedge fund asset stripper and multi-millionaire Edward Lewis [Gere]. It’s a Cinderella story for sure, countered by the fact she changes him but he doesn’t change her at all, only dolls her up like an elegant version of Barbie in red curls. Of course, she doesn’t need to change because her heart and ethics are in the right place all along; his merely need coaxing from beneath an unemotional exterior. Kissing helps, apparently. Textbook storytelling. Compulsive viewing once you start, but only because the dresses and suits look good, and Richard Gere looks dishy, and Julia Roberts never looked more like a ‘babe’. Able support from Ralph Bellamy and Hector Elizondo keep the background story moving cutely along. There’s a whiff of scandal, mostly underplayed and easily resolved, and a terrible attempt at aggressive blackmail which sits badly among the niceties. Shamelessly fairy tale romantic, this was a date movie to end all date movies until it was subverted by the more adult themes of loss and redemption featured in Ghost, which came out a month or so later. I saw both films with my girlfriend of the time, it was that kind of summer, but while Pretty Woman had the better soundtrack, Ghost had more emotional impact. I was lucky, Debbie preferred Richard Gere to Patrick Swayze – and so did I – so when the videos came out there wasn’t a contest. I hadn’t watched this since we broke up all of thirty plus years ago, so a nice trip down Memory Lane.
And yeah, really good soundtrack. Mercy…
A couple of pics of Sir Sean in Woman Of Straw-
Here he is getting his orders from M
And that's him entering a casino.
Of course I'm joking, but for many years stills from this film have mistakenly been posted online identifying them as from Bond movies. Have a look yourselves, there are plenty more from this film and others of the time such as Marnie
which could be mistaken for stills from a Bond movie (of course Tippi Hedren was never in a Bond movie, but you get my point).
I'm performing that song tonight- Mercy....
actual picture of Barbel performing 'Pretty Woman':
All the president's men (1976)
I guess most of you have at least heard of this movie and knows that it's about two journalists investigating the Watergate scandal. Dustin Hoffman plays Carl Bernstein and Robert Redford plays Bob Woodward. In spite of containing a lot of typing, phone calls and interviews this is a tense thriller. It's expertly directed , scripted and acted. I found myself wishing movies like this were made and seen more today. The reason we don't get blockbusters like this today certainly isn't because of any lack of material! Whatever your political standpoint is I think many will agree the real-life material is both more serious and more comedic today. This movie deserves to be watched.
Do THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR next.
THE SENSE OF AN ENDING (2017)
I watched this because I had read the book. Julian Barnes’ novel is an examination of self-delusion and as such while it was interesting, the story attached to it seemed too slight to provide the emotional shock the author intends. It is well written, beautifully observed, but ever so slightly dull. It won a Booker Prize – for the effort and longevity of the author, perhaps? I digress.
This film adaptation is okay. Nothing special. A decent telly movie really. Good performances keep us watching. Occasionally light-hearted forays into an older, out of date man’s world are distracting, but lessen what might have been a too tortuous load. Jim Broadbent is very good as the major protagonist who unintentionally discovers a long-kept secret about his ex-girlfriend, rekindling his interest in what he terms ‘the nostalgia of the past.’ It is fairly nostalgic, I suppose, in a rose-tinted spectacles with blood on kind of way. He’s given able support by Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter and Michelle Dockery as the women most important in his life.
You might be entertained, you might not. It is ever so slightly dull.
CROSSFIRE (1947) with Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, Robert Young, and Gloria Grahame.
A Jewish man is killed and the investigation into his murder involves some demobilized soldiers and possible anti-semitism.
Quite a good movie. Very well acted and directed. I appreciated the fact that the film only got heavy handed once (during a long monologue by Robert Young as the lead investigator) and otherwise allowed the viewer to 'get' the themes of the film on his/her own.
This came out the same year as GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT which also dealt with anti-semitism and was also nominated for several Oscars, including Best Picture. CROSSFIRE didn't win any Oscars but did help launch a more active career for Gloria Grahame (nominated for Best Supporting Actress).
Film4 showed a Danish film, Riders of Justice, last night. In it, a systems analyst or something is fired from his job (I missed that bit) and on his subway train home is caught up in a fatal accident with many dead. However, he learns that one of those killed was due to testify in court against a local criminal gang, and that his lawyer had also been killed the previous week. He tots up the numbers and finds this is a statistical anomaly that suggests it's murder and no accident. The police however are not interested.
He tracks down the husband of a woman killed in the accident - an experienced soldier forced to return home from a tour of duty in the Middle East I think - and makes his case. The soldier is played by one of ours, Mads Mikkelsen, unrecognisable from his Casino Royale days with clipped hair and a big bushy beard (do soldiers wear those these days?) There are possibly a couple of nods to Bond, about how the first time you kill someone is the worst, and a morning shot that looks like Hamburg in Tomorrow Never Dies.
The movie is darkly comic and the fun comes from the interaction of the nerdy guy and his mates and the stoical, unimpressed Mads. You don't quite know how seriously to take it much of the time. You can quibble that the gang seem really too dim to pull off the terrorist stunt they're accused of - and I guess you'd be right - but mainly it is so enjoyable and you're waiting to see what happens next, you don't care. It has a touch of that British film about Islamist terrorist - Three Lions, was it?
Well worth a watch.
THE LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES (1974)
Well, I am glad I watched this Hammer / Shaw Brothers combi of a Dracula movie and a kung fu flick simply because I can now say I have seen it and I won’t ever have to watch it again.
Horror isn’t the word I would use to describe it. The film would be virtually unwatchable if it wasn’t for Peter Cushing and the admirably scary scenes of zombies rising from the grave. A mix of Bruce Lee influenced kung fu, vampires, zombies, Seven Samurai and Fu Manchu, the screenplay is all over the place plot wise and barely existent character wise. A quite dreadful experience. I believe this was the 110 minute Hong Kong version, but only because the martial art fight scenes went on and on and on and on and on…. I was monumentally bored during the vampire’s final assault on a besieged village. There simply wasn’t anything to keep me watching other than sheer bloodymindedness.
Kah, a High Priest of the Undead, has travelled to Transylvania to worship at the tomb of Count Dracula. He gets more than he bargained for as the fanged one takes over his body and spirit and proceeds to return to China and wreak havoc in a tiny Chinese village so far from any major source of virgin blood you wonder how the vampires have survived for so long. When a posse of seven brothers travel to Shanghai to persuade journeying lecturer Professor Van Helsing to help their beleaguered village, the vampire killer extraordinaire has a sense of déjà vu, as if he has experienced this honourable hunt before. By the time we reach the climax and the old enemies confront one another, the martial art high kicks and bloody aftermath have been consigned to the stall of fate and we are right back where we began with Van Helsing and Dracula fighting for the ages.
The film really needed Christopher Lee as the black hearted Count. It wouldn’t have helped matters much, but at least there would have been some moments of gravitas. His replacement is John Forbes Robertson and his voice is dubbed. That is how low Golden Vampires sinks. Frequently unintentionally hilarious, often as dull as a ditch missing all the water, the rousing finale simply can’t compensate for the ninety minutes which came before.
A sorrowful end to Hammer Studio’s Dracula cycle.
Indeed it was. I think if Lee had been involved then Drac would have had a bigger role than two minutes at the start and another two at the end which would certainly have improved things. As you say, Cushing is pretty much the only thing worth watching here and he's surprisingly energetic in some of the fight sequences for his age.
INVADERS FROM MARS (1953)
When little Jimmy Hunt wakes up in the middle of the night to see a flying saucer land nearby, no one will believe him, and he finds that most of the adults have been taken over by aliens. Though a low budget restricts the scale of things this a taut little sci-if thriller and some of the sets are really good. For a long one the twist ending was oddly removed from European prints but this one I saw has it, and it’s a nice ending.
@CoolHandBond Wasn't this one originally in 3D? I think that is why the budget was so low as they spent it all on the expensive filming process.
@chrisno1, fyi Invaders From Mars was not shot or presented in 3D; Bwana Devil, which was also released in 1953, kick-started the 1950s 3D fad.
Rumour has it that it was intended for the 3-D format but the idea was rejected before filming began.
Jimmy Hunt plays a policeman in the Tobe Hooper 1986 remake.