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  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent


    Nice take on a very good movie. The dumbsters who write the reviews and ratings for movies in Radio Times gave this 3 stars out of 5. Like many movie rating sites / publications [IMDB I look at you...] the ratings are highly contentious.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent

    DEATH ON THE NILE (1978)

    They remade this one recently. Not entirely sure why.

    Here, Peter Ustinov takes over from Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot [from 1974’s Murder on the Orient Express] and gives a more lenient, chummy performance than his predecessor. A similar convoluted investigation evolves after a rich American is murdered, this time on a paddle steamer on the Nile. The passengers each share motives for the poor darling’s death and there is much fun watching a more than decent group of thespians ham it up or tone it down or stare wide-eyed and puzzled at the camera as the daftness of Agatha Christie’s original and Anthony Shaffer’s adaptation unfolds. Our own Lois Chiles gets to play the rich American who puts everyone’s noses out of joint. Simon MacCorkindale is her young husband. Mia Farrow plays fragile and psychologically disturbed as a wronged lover. Most enjoyable of the lot is Angela Lansbury’s turn as a drunken author whose crocodile martini has lost its croc.

    Much more amusing than Finney and Sidney Lumet’s version of things, action director John Guillermin – who you’d think would display a heavy touch – proves he can be delicate when necessary and handles the gradual reveals with modicums of suspense and intrigue. The scenery is nice. On the downside is a dreadfully embarrassing turn by I.S. Johar playing the Indian steamboat captain.

    The film isn’t doing very much, but it is bright and breezy, and darkens at appropriate moments. It won an Oscar for Anthony Powell’s costumes and given the fairly ordinary nominees that year you wonder why Ustinov didn’t receive a Best Actor citation for his leading turn. Ustinov returned to the role a few years later in the even more glossy and humour laden Evil Under the Sun [this was also being shown in a Peter Ustinov double bill, but I was tired and went to bed]. The miserable Appointment with Death, in 1988, was however a movie too far for this version of Hercule Poirot.  

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,339MI6 Agent

    Yeah, I saw a fair bit of that last night, but it felt odd, it not being Christmas, as they usually wheel it out on the Day itself.

    I first saw that in February 1979, on Mum's birthday. At least, we set out to see it as she was a Christie fan, but on arrival it was fully booked. So instead, in what turned out to be a double bill to remember, we all went to see Superman: The Movie to my delight, then saw Death On The Nile - now they're both very long movies, quite epic in scope.

    And vintage actor Harry Andrews is in both, in similar roles - butler or housekeeper to Lois Chiles in Nile, and a bossy senator or suchlike on the planet Krypton, disbelieving Brando's end of the world - or end of Krypton, I should say - predictions. After that, we never see Andrews again!

    Some muddles in the mind, as Chiles went on to be in Moonraker but the Egypt setting and indeed a scene with a falling boulder recalls the previous outing's The Spy Who Loved Me, and Nile kind of has the crowd-pleasing vintage actors tone that the Bond films then had, you can could swap the whole cast around really, couldn't you, or at least you could see Keen and Lee in Nile, and Maxwell in a Maggie Smith-type role, the German doctor as one of the lab scientists and can't you visualise Michel Lonsdale patiently answering Poirot's questions as to his whereabout at the time of the murder?

    It is over an hour until the first person cops it in Nile! Is that a record for a Christie film, or any whodunnit? I mean, Corinne Dufour gets bumped off by Drax way before that.

    Everyone in the cast pretty much gets to flex their acting chops as the killer in these films. That's because Poirot talks through an imaginary flashback in which he hypothesises how they did the deed. Cut to the accused character looking outraged/indignant.

    What utter rubbish the whole plot of Nile is, I mean the denouement. But it grips, nonetheless, and having seen it all those years before, one happily anticipates the various lines: 'This time, in genuine agony' 'You must be mad!' 'Oh Mister P, you really have made a fool of yourself this time!' and so on. Full marks to the cast for playing it straight and it helps that Ustinov genuinely does appear intelligent enough as an actor that the lines he has as Poirot therefore convince.

    David Niven and Peter Ustinov were co-stars all those decades earlier in the propaganda war film The Way Ahead.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,631Chief of Staff

    I haven't checked with a stopwatch, but the murder in Christie's "Endless Night" takes place very late in the plot.

    Ustinov also did 3 made for TV movies as Poirot but they're average at best. It's amusing to see David Suchet play Inspector Japp in one of them.

    I agree that Angela Lansbury pretty much steals "Nile", and in the Suchet version Frances de la Tout does likewise.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent

    KUNG FU PANDA (2008)

    When I was a kid we had a great Hanna Barbara cartoon show called Hong Kong Phooey, which was terrific. This Dreamworks animation trips vaguely into the same territory, only it has none of the knowing humour and the sharp cultural satire of the former. Instead it trawls the usual fish-out-of-water-comes-good scenario as a fat panda becomes the nation’s hero by defeating a brutal English accented tiger [Ian McShane]. It’s rubbish basically, but kids will enjoy the fights and the laboured obvious humour, such as the fat panda being the son of a goose. Animals replace real people in the best traditions of Disney and an exemplary voice cast does their best with the infantile material. Not much more to say really. Hard to believe this year sees a fourth instalment in what must be one of the most one-note franchises in cinema history. Kids… they’ll watch anything these days.  

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,339MI6 Agent

    Kick Ass (2010) with would-be Bond Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the titular character, and Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl, a kid coached by her ex-cop mentor and dad Nicolas Cage (now he's had a career, hasn't he.).

    I'd seen this before and got inveigled into watching it again but it's no hardship as this holds up very well and is very good, though I'd forgotten how rude it was - lots of mentions of teenage masturbation in the opening scenes, to set the outrageous tone and maybe warn of parents who might have thought it a decent superhero movie for their kid to be put in front of. I think Jane Goldman was one of the writers - she's the wife of chat show host Jonathan Ross, who in his younger days did have a sex-obsessed, lecherous take on everything, you can't get away with that now, so I do perhaps unfairly sense his influence.

    It preceded Deadpool really, in some ways it's better, Moretz is the star of it, though Mark Strong is always reliable if not necessarily surprising as the bad guy; I'd like to see him do more straightforward acting and good guy roles rather than the Kingsman/what's that other one, Jizam or Flash or something. He was good in Tar.

    Much of it plays like The Big Bang Theory, which is no insult, it's the world of geeks. The fun is sapped a little by knowing the sequel wasn't up to par and that killed it, it's the classic thing where if you have a coming of age film, the second one struggles because that was it's raison d'être - I think Casino Royale's follow up suffered from that, even Superman 2 did. As for being Bond, well, Aaron-Johnson doesn't look like that here but he's not meant to, he looks tall enough for sure, and does have star quality, he carries the movie and can do humour. He's got the 'horse face' (Moore, Dalton, Brosnan) in comparison to Craig's 'plate' (Connery, Lazenby) so that will make a change.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,992MI6 Agent

    chrisno1 said: Hong Kong Phooey

    ____________________________________________

    Number One Super Guy


  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent

    Ah, great memories, including Scatman Crothers as the title character.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent

    BEN HUR (1959)

    Wheeled out regularly now at Easter, Christmas and Bank Holidays, William Wyler’s enormous historical and religious epic Ben Hur still looks a treat. That’s mostly a production back-slap: set designers, costumers, make up, editors, photographers, special effects merchants, stunt men, orchestra, etc, everyone in a technical department really comes up trumps on this movie. It helps the dusty Italian landscapes make a decent enough stab at the Holy Land and look lovely under Robert Surtees practiced lenses. Where the film falls down is in its ponderous nature. The story’s okay, slashed out of Lew Wallace’s doorstep novel and hashed together by over a dozen uncredited writers, most notably playwright Christopher Fry; the script at least has the good sense to sound as if the cast are in 1st Century Palestine. Unfortunately, the enterprise takes such a long time to unfold and after the action set pieces, takes even longer to end, you are almost paralysed by the pedantic pacing. All the spend is on show, but there’s little substance beneath the accruements. A tale of hate, murder and revenge, with a sideline of love and redemption, evaporates once an exciting sea battle and an even more thrilling ten minute chariot race have passed by. Instead, the usual epic expectations are replaced with a closer look at the Christ story. An uncredited actor and Miklos Rosza’s excellent music score stand in for Jesus and his vocal chords as he wanders the countryside delivering sermons and healing the sick. The time frame of the Christ story is out of sync with the tale of Ben Hur by a couple of years, but that’s a hair splitting quibble. The main problem is the long build up and come down to every scene, the repetitive nature of the dialogues, conversations and incidents. Despite the brilliance of the chariot race, the first half is far more interesting than the second, with its emphasis on the political and religious climate of the times before Charlton Heston’s muscular hero is cast into the slave gallies, a prince among paupers and soon a beacon of hope among the Jewish brethren. It’s certainly colourful and intriguing with Stephen Boyd’s deliciously malicious Messala making a tough fist of a villain to off-set Heston’s less nuanced turn as Ben Hur. It’s all teeth, spears, silks and sweating chests among the deserts, horses, camels and sunshine of Judea. Once we have the interval, any pace the film did have dissipates as fast as Hugh Griffith’s Arab horses can canter. By the time the Lord is crucified and the lepers are healed, you’ve almost lost interest because you knew what was going to happen.

    It’s hard to be too judgemental. The film is a working visual template of how to make a historical epic and later producers like Samuel Bronston followed the text book with as much religiosity as Wyler and Co do here. Ben Hur lacks the ‘big name’ star treatment of those future movies, and gains something by virtue of its sincerity and evenhandedness, but you do wish it was just a tad more exciting. It doesn’t help that the cast, its two central figures of Ben Hur and Messala aside, are not very durable. The film won eleven Oscars, a record at the time and one still unbeaten, but Ben Hur’s legacy to cinema is far greater than any perceived artistic value. For instance, before 1959 only a half-dozen sound films had premiered with a runtime of over three hours, yet there were at least two or three every year throughout the sixties. Miklos Rozsa’s music was influential across several genres for a similar time, and you can still hear his trumpet calls and choral inspirations in low budget or television fare today. Many production tricks of the trade continued to be used until Digital CGI replaced the need for model, curtain and blue screen work. The attention to detail is laudable and other movies attempted to imitate this style for better or worse, and often to their financial cost. European studios became a go-to destination for this kind of extravagant filmmaking and still are.  

    I watched Ben Hur on-and-off while I was preparing Easter lunch and sipping a glass or two of sherry, a Fino from Andalusia, and it passed the time without ever stretching my intellect. A traditional story of traditional values told in a traditional manner, it’s only the excesses which make you believe it isn’t traditional at all. Enormous in length and look, and fairly good really, despite the boring bits. If you’ve never seen Ben Hur, it’s worth one go at least.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent

    NORTH TO ALASKA (1960)

    An efficient, under nourished comedy from director Henry Hathaway about three gold prospectors and the woman who almost comes between them. Set in 1900, John Wayne and Stewart Granger play partners made good on a mine claim. Granger is yearning for the fiancé he left in Seattle and when Wayne’s Sam McCord sets out for the big city to buy drilling equipment, he promises to bring her back – only instead he persuades a good-hearted New Orleans whore to play substitute. Portrayed with some depth, much charm and a knowing smile by Capucine, Michelle’s arrival starts a chain reaction of misunderstandings, while she falls for Big John herself, who doesn’t realise he has also fallen for her. Granger has a younger naive brother – played by teen pop idol Fabian – who tries vainly and amusingly to impress the gal when she arrives at the trio’s dilapidated but homely cabin in the mountains. Ernie Kovacs is a swindler who is buying up the town and all the gold claims. The movie is bookended by two rollicking cartoonish fist fights. The boisterousness of the manly stuff detracts from the more sophisticated mannered comedy and accounts for most of the unevenness of the piece. All plot threads are thus resolved through having the cast get angry, deceitful and shout at each other.

    I sensed elements of Wayne classics such as Rio Bravo and The Quiet Man sneaking into proceedings. Later films such as Hatari and McLintock also seem to owe something to this bawdy comic pantomime. The film itself reads like a vague retread of the television series The Alaskans where Roger Moore and Jeff York play swindlers during the Klondike Gold Rush distracted from their money making schemes by Dorothy Provine. One should mention that this film’s boom town is the muddy, ruddy kind and that lends an air of authenticity to the action, as do scenes featuring immigrant flavours such as the Swedish picnic, Russian steam bath and French bordello, a reminder that America was forged on migration. North to Alaska is watchable enough, just about, and the abundantly pretty Miss Capucine helps, but one can’t agree with its sexual politics, which are unfashionable and uncomfortable in 2024, even though we appreciate it is all for laughs.

    Half-way through the film is a moment of historic cinematic interest. Capucine enacts a bath tub scene during which you can twice quite clearly see her left breast and nipple. Exactly how this slipped past the 1960 censors of both the US and the UK – four years before Jayne Mansfield went full-frontal in a similar scene – remains a mystery. They don’t even cut it during the 2.25pm showing on the Great Action channel. How times have changed.    

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent

    THE DELTA FORCE (1986)

    Based on the real life 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 as well as elements of the famous Israeli raid on Entebbe Airport, The Delta Force is a gutsy, ghastly, confusing and ultimately unsatisfactory flag waver for US Military Special Operations, headed up by Robert Vaughn and led in the field by a too grizzled and weary Lee Marvin and a static, unimpressive Chuck Norris. Filmed entirely in Israel, but flitting narratively from Athens, to Beirut and Lebanon, Algiers and Haifa, the movie starts promisingly, like a cheap but cheerful version of Airport, as we familiarise ourselves with a planeload of passengers and crew. As if to reinforce the connection, George Kennedy is onboard playing a Catholic priest. Heavens!

    Crazed terrorists, led by a steely Robert Forster, inked up and accented but rather good, hijack the New York bound American Travel Ways [ATW, get it?] Boeing 707 and divert it to Beirut, threatening passengers, including a number of Jews. The script is at pains to point this out, but the terrorists, a bunch of Arabs calling themselves the New World Revolutionary Organisation seem not to care who they affront, holding grudges against America and the American Way in all its international and domestic forms. This new order also has an army hiding in plain sight in the centre of Beirut. Mind you, the Delta Force are able to infiltrate the city with equal ease and wreak havoc with barely a batted eye. An uncooperative politician stares aghast in the airport control tower as the Americans and their freed hostages sail majestically off the runway. Lebanon was a war zone in the eighties, but the film barely touches on this aspect of proceedings, preferring the gung-ho antics of the US soldiers, who materialise with equipment and local knowledge as if a fairy brigadier general has waved a magic wand.

    The film has plot holes both small and wide, incidental and fundamental, and doesn’t make any effort to impersonate a prestige production. It tries to be ‘big’ but just ends up looking cheap. The electronic music score, for instance, sounds as if it has escaped from a bad episode of Miami Vice. Apparently Norris was paid $2m for his contribution. Someone should ask for a refund. The Delta Force is very much of its time and it must have been a bad time. Amazingly, this messy movie did good box office, endured as a sort of cult action favourite and launched two sequels of equally drab content.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,339MI6 Agent

    Film4 - a UK channel - has been showing a recent film called Nobody which stars Bob Odenkirk - best known as the slippery, dishonest but immensely entertaining lawyer in Breaking Bad, so entertaining that it lead to an even more highly rated spin-off, Better Call Saul.

    Odenkirk is unrecognisable as a happily married albeit downtrodden husband with two kids in a slice of US suburbia - it's unclear what his job is, or that of his wife. He feels humiliated following a break-in at his home where he is seen to have let the assailants get away - that said, as one of them had a gun and his kids were there - it doesn't seem the worst of outcomes. Anyway, he belatedly decides to go out and look for revenge and it's hinted that he may have 'a unique set of skills' as they say on the back burner.

    Well, so far it's so Deathwish, and you wonder how they'll spin this movie out for two hours - also you realise that Odenkirk is really just another Walther White from Breaking Bad, the middle-aged disappointed husband who switches and gets acquainted with his nasty, ruthless side - only it's not the same lead, and it's not drawn out with the same nuance that a series can manage. It switches up a gear, or changes clothes into another kind of movie rather and to reveal more would spoil the surprise, and that's all there is to the movie. Aside from that, you find it's a cliched movie that becomes another totally different cliched movie you've seen before. Film4 tends to show these revenge thrillers - it's not wholly unlike the Nicolas Cage vehicle Pig, which I very much enjoyed, or the one following this with Mads Mikkelson, which is also far better.

    This film had our own Colin Salmon in it, also Christopher Lloyd from Back to the Future as an old guy in a care home - though it's another nod to Breaking Bad, I guess - and even Michael Ironside of Top Gun and Total Recall is in there too. It's a decent beer and pizza flick and Odenkirk is good in it, but it's very much for middle-aged viewers actually - young people are fools and morons, there's no sex appeal or sex there, it winds up in the same territory as that Bruce Willis vehicle Red. It's for that demographic.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Sir MilesSir Miles The Wrong Side Of The WardrobePosts: 26,816Chief of Staff

    And that demographic bloody well enjoyed it 👍🏻🤣

    YNWA 97
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,890MI6 Agent
    edited April 6

    Robin Hood (2018)

    This is the version of the legend starting Taron Egerton and Jamie Fox. From the start I didn't like this movie. In the first couple of minutes it thinks it's a ninja movie. Not much later it thinks it's a Iraqi war movie, even with crossbow "machine guns". We also see riot shields and a mine where flames erupt into the air all the time. The whole look of the movie seems to be entirely based on "it looks cool" with only lip service given to the middle ages. The architecture, weapons and costumes being everything but medieval including all that black leather people didn't use at the time.

    Historical movies don't have to be historically correct. Movies can have fun with a time, setting or genere. The obvious comparison is "A Knight's tale" from 2001. In one of the first scenes people at a medieval jousting match dancing to Queen's "We will rock you" and especially the ladies'costumes are clearly influenced by modern fashion. But this doesn't bother me at all. Why? Because it was fun and charismatic. Heath Ledger, Paul Bettany and the rest of the are charming and they're clearly having fun. This translated into the audience having fun too.

    The cast in the 2018 Robin Hood movie the cast aren't charming and the movie isn't fun. Or at least I didn't have fun watching it.

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 254MI6 Agent

    The archery in RH2018 is fantastic, that's about it. Terrible film in terms of overall execution.

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,450MI6 Agent

    FIGHTING MAD (1976)

    Long before director Jonathan Demme became respectable, he was churning out grindhouse movies for Roger Corman's New World Pictures, like CAGED HEAT and CRAZY MAMA. This one belongs in the revenge genre. The brightest idea was casting Peter Fonda, fresh from the classic exploitation movies DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY and RACE WITH THE DEVIL, as our hero. When family man Fonda and his neighbours refuse to sell their farms and have the land turned into a coal strip mine, the company men begin invading homes and killing off all the uncooperative farmers. The sheriff's on the take, so the citizens have to take the law into their own hands, led by the hot-headed Fonda, who grabs his bow and arrow and goes after the fatcat industrialists. Meanwhile, Demme tries to rise above his material by focusing on the day to day farm life and neighbourly camaraderie - tossing in the occasional brutal, gratuitous killing in order to keep his audience from dozing off. Scott Glenn stars as Fonda’s amiable brother (who, following the standard revenge narrative, doesn’t make it past the first reel) and Lynn Lowry is Fonda’s doe-eyed squeeze.

    Distinctly average.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent

    THE LOST CITY (2022)

    An amusing jungle romp that owes much to Romancing the Stone, with Sandra Bullock taking on the old Kathleen Turner role. Bullock plays Loretta Sage, a romance writer whose adventurous novels feature a hunk and a damsel. She’s disenchanted that the cover star of her books has a bigger fan base than she does – well, what writer wouldn’t? – and following a tiff at a book launch, gets inadvertently kidnapped by creepy Daniel Radcliffe. Channing Tatum is the model who comes to her unlikely rescue. He’s no Micheal Douglas, but fills the gap adequately. Brad Pitt turns up as an ex-Special Forces soldier whose rescue mission doesn’t quite go according to plan. The movie isn’t very exciting. The action sequences are all quite run-of-the-mill and tinged with enough humour to make them veer toward the cartoon variety. The humour count runs out half-way when the initial spikiness of the central relationship begins to be blunted. As the ice thaws, we’ve only got Radcliffe’s mania driven media mogul to amuse us. Harry Potter is virtually recreating the turn he gave in Now You See Me, so there are no great surprises. He does have the best lines of the second half though.

    Like Raj Koothrapuli on The Big Bang Theory, I am an unashamed fan of Sandra Bullock, an actress who can virtually do no wrong. This is average stuff for her. She’s good at the comedy, so-so with the action, variable on the romance, all with a little knowing appreciative twinkle in her eye. It’s amazing she’s still performing this kind of thing at almost sixty years of age. Hats off to her, I say.

    Good fun.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,339MI6 Agent

    After the amusing Easy A with Emma Stone I tried watching Kick Ass 2 and it was okay for the first half hour but really it couldn't fix the problem - that the first one had a Happy Ever After ending and then they have to unpick it, spoil it, if the second one is to exist. They could have done something cool by pointing out how superhero sequels don't always work - Superman 2 for instance has him lose his powers and reveal his true self to Lois Lane, it comes unstuck imo - so they could have riffed on that a bit. Really, Kick Ass 2 is no longer a coming-of-age tale and doesn't have Mark Strong, so it doesn't work and isn't as funny. It's like if they made Leon 2 where Natalie Portman gets bored at her school and goes back to being an assassin - but with no Jean Russo.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent
    edited April 8

    BUGSY MALONE (1976)

    Effervescent musical comedy for kids set in the era of U.S. Prohibition but replacing Al Capone, machine guns, Studebakers et al with Fat Sam, Dandy Dan, splurge guns, pedal cars and a cast of enthusiastic under-18s. If you can accept the slightly icky premise of young teens acting out adult themes – I don’t think you’d get away with sexualising the dancing girls who gyrate at Fat Sam’s Speakeasy in 2024 – but then these days it is hard to tell what would offend or insinuate, what is inappropriate and abusive, so blurred are the lines other than actual physical assault. When I was at school, the movie was a major hit with us youngsters. We probably didn’t get the connotations. If adults did they wouldn’t have told us; perhaps they whispered it behind cupped hands at kid’s birthday parties: “Did you see that Bugsy Malone? Bit near the knuckle for our Geoffrey… etc.” I digress. Let’s just leave it at ‘times were different then’ which is no excuse, but is an observation that needs to be considered as I do not believe any aspiring filmmaker would pitch a project like this in the current climate without serious eyebrows and questions being raised.

    So, let’s accept what we have and understand what makes the movie successful. Winnable performances from Scott Baio and Florrie Dugger as the titular Bugsy, a cheeky penniless boxing promoter, and his moll, Blousey Brown, an aspiring singer who gets a job at the Grand Slam Speakeasy. John Cassini is suitably outlandish as the overweight crime boss Fat Sam Staccetto, ‘The Alleged Mobster of the Lower East Side.’ Fat Sam is engaged in gang warfare with rival Dandy Dan, a smooth pencil-moustachioed Martin Lev. Coming between them all and purring her lines with a thick Southern drawl is Bugsy’s ex, showgirl Tallulah, played by Jodie Foster, the actress drawing on her experience as a kiddie prostitute in Taxi Driver to deliver a slinky, Gloria Graham style performance of much worrying sensuality.

    [You really do understand why some observers get riled by the movie’s content: the themes of betrayal, sexual availability, death and murder, are very prevalent; dressing kids up in fancy fashions, making them dance and sing and perform violent action with custard pie squirting guns can’t diminish the fact they have to spout such adult lines and behave in manners far more mature than their ages. But you do wonder if it is any more inappropriate than that girl getting the hots for sickly Macauley Culkin in My Girl.]

    Once the love triangle is pushed into the background and the silly gangster stuff takes over, the film regains some of its brio and engages its audience in the fun, song and dance. The finale - a splurge gun battle at Fat Sam’s – certainly looks as if the cast enjoyed chucking custard pies at each other. The rousing closing number, You Give A Little Love, all smiles, jazz hands, claps and custard, is good enough to be in a genuine musical, so too the Busby Berkley inspired Fat Sam’s Grand Slam, whatever your thoughts about the age of the dancers for the bottom and boob shaking routine. It’s so good and instantly memorable that Chris Hollins and Ola Jordan won Strictly Come Dancing by reimagining the little wriggling Charleston number. In fact, it is Paul Williams’s engaging music score that propel the narrative and characters far better than writer-director Alan Parker, who is hardly innovative, slick editing, breezy comic visuals and occasional romantic soft focuses aside. It is disappointing the production didn't lend itself to allowing the kids to actually sing the songs.

    Look, Bugsy Malone won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. As kids of eight we didn’t get the adult themes; if we did we didn’t care. Girls liked the dresses, the high heels and the dancing; for boys, splurge guns were no different to custard pie chucking on Tiswas; the love story was fine for one and boring for the other; the songs were fun; that was all which mattered in 1976/77. The film was a major hit in the UK, but Paramount didn’t know how to market the movie to US audiences and it flopped in America, despite great reviews from guys like Roger Ebert. Watching it on a Sunday morning with a mild hangover almost fifty years on; Bugsy Malone is very much ‘of its time’ but is still an impressive and unusual success. Despite what I’ve written, there is something innocently intoxicating about the keenness of the cast and the jollity of the presentation. If you remove the obvious preconceptions, it is undoubtably quite a hoot.

    A note on the players:

    While Jodie Foster needs no introduction and Scott Baio has had a long and successful career on television, most of the other actors only found fleeting success, for instance Florrie Dugger [Blousey] never performed again and instead became a US military medic. Meanwhile, British TV presenter Mark Curry, singer and dancer Bonnie Langford and actor-writer-director Dexter Fletcher all have small supporting roles in the movie.

    Later stage musical versions have starred Catherine Zeta Jones, Jamie Bell and Sheridan Smith.

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,450MI6 Agent
    edited April 8

    TRUCK TURNER (1974)

    Directed by Jonathan Kaplan this is an actioner that starts slow, but eventually blasts its way into solid action. Isaac Hayes stars as Mack “Truck" Turner, a skip tracer who hunts down bail jumpers and brings them back by “whatever means necessary”. There isn't much plot to speak of during the first half (lots of job-related hassles and romantic shenanigans), but it begins to move when Truck tracks down a pimp named Gator, and in retaliation a bounty is put on Turner’s head—with every hit man in Central Casting after him. The bloodbath that ensues, with a wild hospital massacre topping it off is electric. This flick has the highest bodycount of any blaxploitation movie I've ever seen, with solid shotgun action and quality squib work. It's seriously bloodthirsty schlock. Our own Yaphet Kotto looks bemused to be stuck in this movie after starring in LALD and Nichelle Nichols tosses away all semblence of Lt. Uhura in order to play the meanest, most foul-mouthed bitch on the planet; and look quickly for Scatman Crothers and Dick Miller. All of this nonsense is right on the precipice of campiness, and though some bits drag on, it's one of the better grindhouse blasts from the past.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,339MI6 Agent
    edited April 8

    Bugsy Malone star Dexter Fletcher told an amusing story against himself, when he later chatted to director Alan Parker and said he reckoned the build-up to his reveal as the gangster was possibly the best belated entrance in cinema history, Parker snorted and said, 'Yeah, you and Orson Welles in The Third Man!'

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent

    🤣 I agree with Sir Alan !

  • HarryCanyonHarryCanyon Posts: 254MI6 Agent

    THE ZONE OF INTEREST (2023), now showing on MAX in the USA.

    The movie follows Rudolf Hoss and his family. Hoss is living in a beautiful house with his family, living a pretty serene life. Over the wall on one side of his house...is Auschwitz. You see, Hoss is the commandant of Auschwitz and he's created a storybook household just outside of it, complete with a plush garden and a swimming pool. He can even take his kids down to the river to fish.

    What's staggering is the POV of the film. Hoss, his wife, and his children all put on a facade of normality while you hear the sounds coming from just over the wall...screams, shouts, gunfire, furnaces...absolute horror. They're next door to hell and act like everything is normal. You never see the horrors going on, just hear them. To that end, the soundscape of the film is astounding. This film won best sound at the recent Academy Awards and wow, I absolutely understand why.

    Acted and directed with amazing skill, this is monumental filmmaking of the first degree.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,339MI6 Agent
    edited April 8

    I saw Sly Stallone's 1983 action thriller Nighthawks for the first time - it co-stars Star Wars' Billy Dee Williams as his New York cop buddy, re-assigned to go after international flash terrorist Rutger Hauer who has pitched up in their city.

    I suppose you could say Nighthawks walked so Die Hard could run; unfortunately it also followed in the footsteps of another, much better thriller, namely The Day of the Jackal from a decade earlier. The film is not quite there. There are nice shots of cities like London and Paris, it's quite nostalgic in a gritty sort of way now, but the terrorist himself doesn't really convince and you could see how Rickman's villain just knocked it out the ballpark by merely pretending to reel off these names of imprisoned terrorists he wanted to be free; it moved the film into another gear.

    What I found galling is the moment Stallone recognises his prey in a crowded nightclub but rather than sneak up and apprehend him, busily consults with his sketched drawing back and forth, then eyeballs him for a few minutes as the tension builds, I mean is it meant to have a gay subtext or something? I suppose, again, it anticipates another far better film, Eastwood's In the Line of Fire, where the hero picks up on his opponent vie ey contact, and who also fails at a key moment to 'take the shot'. A chase through a New York subway and so on calls to mind Skyfall, it's quite similar, they must have nicked it. Other aspects put you in mind of For Your Eyes Only, but it's as if Stallone was up against not Hans Gruber but one of Gruber's two-dimensional blond assassins.

    It's watchable, and early scenes also call to mind the era of The Wild Geese, and it's brave of Stallone to sport a beard and glasses, that said the film's payoff doesn't quite flatter Stallone's fabled physique - it's a bit silly. Lindsay Wagner is wasted as his lapsed love interest. Nigel Davenport hams it up as the gruff British man training his reassigned anti-terrorist cops.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent

    THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS (1978)

    Fresh from playing Jesus of Nazareth in Jesus of Nazareth, Robert Powell took on another familiar hero of a completely different kind in John Buchan’s Richard Hanney of The Thirty-Nine Steps. This time rather than following the Bible and Max Von Sydow, he’s taking on Robert Donat and Alfred Hitchcock. Don Sharp is the director and he was known for efficient, durable works that were not exactly cinematic art, but hit the spot okay.

    This third version of the novel attempts to return the action to Buchan’s original outlines, being set in pre-Great War Great Britain and at least having the titular steps being an actual staircase, although not on a coast in Kent but half way up St Stephen’s Tower [that’s Big Ben to most of us, or as it is now renamed, the Elizabeth Tower]. The pace of the thing is pretty good and there’s plenty of action and intrigue along the way. The creation of a docile love story is commendable, although it lacks the spark of the Donat-Madeliene Carroll effort in the Hitchcock version. Mentioning Hitchcock (again) reminds me that writer Michael Robson inserts two moments clearly inspired by the Master of Suspense’s masterpiece North By Northwest: Hannay is caught with his hand on a murder weapon and casts suspicion on himself, and a biplane menaces Hannay over the Scottish moorlands. In fact, one could almost say that the prototype for North by Northwest was the classic 1935 interpretation of Buchan, as Hannay becomes an innocent man on the run, uncertain who to trust, menaced by seemingly courteous bad guys, taking a train ride, being framed for murder, before eventually persuading the authorities of the truth and being present at the villainous revelation.

    Here, Robson and Sharp seem intent on recreating a strong Hitchcock vibe, but the idea doesn’t quite hold up, despite the efforts of a game cast and a ridiculous but suspenseful climax. The movie does feel closer to the novel than previous attempts. Powell is good as Hannay – did he ever get asked to do James Bond? I suspect his naturally curly hair counted against him – and Eric Porter makes a decent foil as the put-out and put-upon Chief Superintendent Lomas. David Warner is the unruffled, posh baddie while Karen Dotrice installs the glamour. The film holds a viewer's interest without ever threatening to make one smile and nod with appreciative wonder.     

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,450MI6 Agent
    edited April 9

    DEATHLINE (1972).

    Although the premise does concern cannibalism, director Gary Sherman never allows his tale to sink to the level of a simple gut-muncher. It’s more of a moody mystery revolving around disappearances on the London Underground with a police investigation taking centre stage. Donald Pleasance is great as a cynical, sharp-tongued Inspector. The explanation for the missing persons lies in the fact that in 1892, when the tube system was first being built, a cave-in sealed up a pocket of workers. It seems they’ve survived in the caverns under London ever since. So when they run out of food, the only logical option is to eat the subway passengers. The real surprise comes when we encounter these "creatures". Because instead of the horrible monsters we expect we discover the culprit is just one pathetic, animalistic simpleton. The film makes him a sad, compassionate figure. His wife has just passed away, he's the last of his lot and all he's doing is trying to survive, and it’s a fascinating slant, having the primitive killer more inherently sympathetic than all the rest of the cast (with Hugh Armstrong giving his feral all, buried under mounds of hair). The sequences in the tunnels are particularly chilling (especially the catacombs of picked-clean bones), but the above-ground dramatics are a little too standard, with an annoying young couple dragged into the storyline. Although Christopher Lee is in the credits, he's only on board for one scene.

    This is a wonderful horror that doesn’t take any of the easy, expected routes.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,631Chief of Staff

    I think I might like that one.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,360MI6 Agent

    ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1947)

    An unusual western, made at the height of John Wayne’s rip-roaring 1940s success as a man in the saddle, that owes something to Jack Shaefer’s Shane – serialised in Argosy Magazine the previous year under the title Rider from Nowhere – and was no doubt a likely inspiration for Harrison Ford’s 1985 vehicle Witness.

    Here, Wayne plays gunman and troublemaker Quirt Evans, who arrives injured at a Quaker family’s ranch, having just filed a land claim from under the noses of the local bad guys, led by Bruce Cabot’s steely Laredo Stevens. The Worth family take him in and nurse him back to health, allowing a romance to blossom between Quirt and the beautiful, dutiful daughter Penny [a strong performance from the lovely Gail Russell]. Unused to homely atmospheres and Bible meetings, Quirt eventually reverts to type and embarks on a cattle rustling escapade. Guilty and pining for Penny, he takes no pleasure in the spoils, but Laredo and his gang are on his tail, as is the wily old Marshall, played with both wit and wisdom by Harry Carey. Wayne himself delivers a far more restrained performance than one might expect; during this period of his career he wasn’t allowed to do much more than simply be John Wayne, in chaps and a hat, army fatigues, diving gear, sailor’s jumpers, executive suits, it really made no difference. What most impresses in the film are the quiet moments, where Wayne is required to express his emotions physically. So, staring wistfully into the middle distance while plough sharing, his confusion when receiving a Bible as a gift from the Quaker community, the tactful interaction with an avaricious landlord which solves a water shortage problem or the tenderness of the love scenes – where Penny does all the talking – hint at the subtleties of performances to come.

    There are gunfights, saloon brawls, a cattle rustling and a caboose chase of much excitement, but the movie is more gentle than that, as Wayne’s gunman becomes a hired hand, falls in love and struggles with his identity. It is very similar to the dilemmas faced by Alan Ladd’s Shane or Harrison Ford’s John Book. Wayne predates them all and still has time to add a modicum of his usual tensions to proceedings. 

    Particularly impressive are the manner writer-director James Edward Grant has Wayne command his audience with a single look or a word. Appearing on horseback, his tall frame casts shadows and stuns watchers into silence; during an unexpected foray to the Worth homestead, Laredo and his crew are kept at empty gunpoint by a steely, nerveless, Quint. The production values are okay, utilising Republic Pictures’ sets and location. The film is a low key western, but enjoyable and all the better for refusing an obvious violent story and replacing it with a romantic one of some depth.

    This was the first film made under the star’s own name, John Wayne Productions. He became good friends with Gail Russell and they starred in the next year’s big hit Wake of the Red Witch. Russell is undoubtably one of the most beautiful Hollywood actresses of the 1940s. Sadly, her career, which ought to have burned brightly, was blighted by alcohol which she initially used to calm her crippling stage fright. Russell died aged only 36 of chronic liver disease.

     

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,450MI6 Agent
    edited April 10

    NORTHVILLE CEMETARY MASSACRE (1976)

    My recent trawl through the cinematic exploitation genre continues with this biker entry that I originally saw in the early days of video rentals before watching again on my subscription provider.

    A cycle gang named The Spirits enters the town of Northville and are immediately thrown into the slammer by the cops for riding without helmets. But surprisingly, these bikers aren’t easily antagonised by the law or rural townfolk. They’re just punks who like the freedom of the road and a little grass. It’s the police who are the animals, even going so far as to rape a young girl and blame it on the bikers. Of course, when the townsfolk hear about the rape, they get into vigilante mode. And as tensions and misconceptions escalate, the bloodshed begins, with gang members blasted to bits (bloodpacks gushing everywhere). It gets pretty Wild Bunch, and we haven't even gotten to the big cemetary finale, which is more vicious than I expected from a low budget movie like this. Ultimately, the entire thing is pretty shocking because, just as it is in the real world, there are no heroes, easy answers or happy endings when it comes to narrow-minded hatred and blind authority.

    This came late in the day for the biker movie genre and it’s a crude, but effective end to the biker movie phenomenon.

    Ex- Monkee Michael Nesmith provides the soundtrack and director William Dear went on to bigger things.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,450MI6 Agent
    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
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