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Monday, September 16, 2019

The Death Ray Of Dr. Mabuse (1964)

A British secret agent (Peter Van Eyck) is sent to the island of Malta to protect the inventor (O.E. Hasse) of a death ray weapon after it is discovered that the diabolical criminal mastermind Dr. Mabuse has designs on the weapon too. Directed by Hugo Fregonese (MAN IN THE ATTIC)this was the last entry in a series of four films made in the 1960s which revived the Dr. Mabuse character. Unfortunatelyits plot is nearly incoherent to the point that it's almost impossible to decipher what's going on and who is who! After awhileI stopped trying although I did check the film's running time to see if I was watching the complete film (I was) and not some edited version. This entry seems heavily influenced by the Bond films of which two (DR. NOFROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE) had been released. Filmed in B&Wthe addition of color would have helped the film somewhat to emphasize the handsome Malta and Italian locations. The international cast includes Yvonne FurneauxLeo Genn, Yoko TaniRobert BeattyGustavo RojoWolfgang PreissWalter Rilla and Rika Dialina. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Follow Me (aka The Public Eye) (1972)

An accountant (Michael JaystonNICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA) suspects his wife (Mia Farrow) of less than a year is having an affair. He hires a private detective (TopolFIDDLER ON THE ROOF) to follow her and expose her affair. Based on the play by Peter Shaffer (who adapted his play for the screen) and directed by Carol Reed (his final film). This agreeable dramedy never found an audience when it was originally released although both Farrow and Topol took the top acting honors at the San Sebastian film festival. I'd hesitate to call it a love story since Farrow and Topol's characters never so much as speak much less have sex but the film shows how two people can bond and become intimate without the usual romantic entanglements. Does it constitute adultery? The film doesn't address that issue. Topol is one of those actors (like Zero Mostel) who at times seems too big for the screen. It works for something like FIDDLER ON THE ROOF but herehe's often in danger of being too big but seems to rein it in just when it looks like he's about to eat the scenery. But actuallyin the endit contrasts nicely with Farrow's underacting. The movie doesn't always work but when it doesit works beautifully. The haunting score is by John Barry. With Annette Crosbie and Margaret Rawlings.

Oh Rosalinda! (1955)

Set in 1955 Vienna when it is still under Allied occupation: U.S.RussiaGreat BritainFrance. When an Austrian black marketeer (Anton Walbrook)who glides gracefully among the most elite and politically powerful echelons in Viennais the victim of a practical joke by a French officer (Michael Redgrave)he carefully plots his revenge! Based on the operetta DIE FLEDERMAUS by Johann Strauss and written and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (THE RED SHOES). Powell and Pressburger have updated Strauss' operetta which allows them to satirize the political situation in Europe as well as eliminate some of the cobwebs that 19th century operettas often bring with them. Photographed by Christopher Challis (TWO FOR THE ROAD) in CinemaScopePowell makes excellent use of the CinemaScope framefilling it with activity in every corner with the production design and costumes taking advantage of the vibrant Technicolor (Redgrave's purple pajamas just pop off the screen). Operetta is an acquired taste and even if it's not your bagyou would be hard pressed to resist this film's farcical charms. The cast is superb right down the line and it's a delight to see Redgrave singing (yes it's his own voice) and dancing with aplomb. With Ludmilla TcherinaMel FerrerAnthony Quayle (who does his own singing)Dennis PriceAnneliese Rothenberger (who does her own singing) and Jill Ireland. 

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound Of My Voice (2019)

A documentary on Linda Ronstadtone of the seminal female singers in the 1970s and 1980s. Directed by Rob Epstein (THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK) and Jeffrey Friedman (THE CELLULOID CLOSET)this documentary follows Ronstadt's childhood in New Mexico to the L.A. music scene burgeoning in the 70s to superstardom and the debilitating illness that robbed her of her singing voice. One of the superstars of the 70sRonstadt literally could sing anything: rockcountrypopstandards, folk and opera and did. The film serves as a reminder of her remarkable voice and its range and as a trailblazer for women in rock. Diagnosed with Parkinson's disease which prevents her from singingshe handles it with grace and a quiet bravery. The film is chock full of archive footage of her singing and if you weren't already a fan of hersyou will be. The film features interviews with her friends and colleagues who were there with her in her journey including Dolly PartonDon HenleyEmmylou HarrisBonnie RaittAaron NevilleJackson Browne, Ry Cooder and J.D. Souther. 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Chosen Survivors (1974)

A carefully selected group of 10 people are essentially kidnapped and drugged by the U.S. government and sent to live in an underground habitat when a nuclear war breaks out and devastates the planet. It's the government's hope that these citizens who have been selected for their skills will re-populate the Earth when it is safe to return to the surface. But what no one counted on was that they are not alone in the underground refuge and something horrible will soon emerge. Directed by Sutton Roleya potentially intriguing premise is botched by the sheer ineptitude of an inane scriptlackluster direction and bad acting. Putting the collection of loopholes and the ethical considerations (none of the characters are there by choice) asidecharacterization isn't consistent. In one scenea character is an alcoholic rapist and in the next scenehe's a savvy businessman. As far as the horror aspect goesI suppose it depends how you feel about bats. I'm not fond of them but I'm not inordinately frightened by them but if you have an aversion to batsthe fear factor may be a plus. This was a theatrical feature but it feels like a TV movie of the week. The ensemble cast includes Jackie CooperAlex CordBradford DillmanRichard JaeckelDiana Muldaur and Barbara Babcock

Lydia (1941)

An elderly but wealthy woman (Merle Oberon) reflects on her youth and the men who loved her including a doctor (Joseph Cotten)a football player (George Reeves)a blind composer (Hans Jaray) and the one man (Alan Marshal) she loved but who abandoned her. A loose remake of the 1937 film UN CARNET DE BAL and directed by Julien Duvivierwho also directed the 1937 movie. The film suffers in comparison to its predecessor in that it lacks its haunting sense of regret over a life that impacted so many others and what might have been. This version has been given the Hollywood treatment and it's romanticized although it still retains its own "eyes finally opened" ending rather than a traditional happy ending. Given that it isn't a patch on the originalit still has a solid sense of style thanks to Duvivier. The Oscar nominated score is by Miklos Rozsa. With Edna May Oliver Sara Allgood and John Halliday.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Package (1989)

A Sergeant (Gene Hackman) in the U.S. Army in Germany is given a routine assignment of escorting a rebellious soldier (Tommy Lee Jones) back to the U.S. for a court martial. But when his prisoner escapes, he soon finds himself in the middle of a political conspiracy that makes him a wanted man by both the police and assassins. Directed by Andrew Davis (THE FUGITIVE), its far-fetched plot and lapses are easily forgivable when it's so well made. Davis whips up some authentic tension and you'll find yourself glued to the screen. I really liked Joanna Cassidy as Hackman's ex-wife. She's a smart cookie and nothing gets by her when even Hackman's hero makes some dumb mistakes. For a paranoid conspiracy thriller, Hackman's not paranoid enough! I groaned several times thinking, "What the hell is he doing"? It's pulp but its choice pulp. With John Heard, Pam Grier (not enough screen time), Reni Santoni and Dennis Franz. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Aspern Papers (2019)

Set in late 19th century Venice, an American book editor (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) moves into the home of an old woman (Vanessa Redgrave) and her spinster niece (Joely Richardson) under false pretenses. What he really wants are the letters of the long deceased poet (Jon Kortajarena) who was once the old woman's lover. Based on the 1888 novella by Henry James and directed by Julian Landais. Although it has James Ivory (A ROOM WITH A VIEW) as one of its executive producers, the film was not well received and received only a very limited release in the U.S. early this year. Most of the complaints were aimed toward the movie's methodical pacing which is meticulously slow. I had no problem with the film's pacing. It was the painful performance of the colorless Jonathan Rhys Meyers who recites his lines as if he learned them phonetically. Redgrave steals every scene she's in but if the film belongs to anyone, it belongs to Richardson who brings shading and layers to her spinster. The shimmering cinematography is courtesy of Philippe Guilbert and there's a superb score by Vincent Carlo. With Lois Robbins and Poppy Delevingne. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Tomb Of Ligeia (1964)

The death of his wife (Elizabeth Shepherd) causes a man (Vincent Price) to hide from the world. But when a headstrong young woman (Elizabeth Shepherd) enters the picture, he marries her. But the spirit of his dead wife, possibly in the form of a black cat, refuses to let him go and haunts his very existence as well as that of the new wife. The screenplay by Robert Towne (CHINATOWN) is based on the short story LIGEIA by Edgar Allan Poe and directed by Roger Corman. While not in the league of MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH or FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, this is one of the better Poe adaptations directed by Corman and starring Vincent Price. Alas, it can't sustain itself and by the film's finale, it seems to have exhausted itself. The subject of necrophilia is tastefully handled (or as tastefully as a subject like that can be dealt with) but perhaps it might have worked better with a younger actor than Price. Once again, black cats are used as instruments of evil. Won't the poor creatures ever get a break? The film is rich in atmosphere thanks to cinematographer Arthur Grant (QUATERMASS AND THE PIT). With John Westbrook and Derek Francis.  

Oklahoma Crude (1973)

Set during the great depression of the 1930s, a strong and independent woman (Faye Dunaway)  refuses the offers of a major oil conglomerate for her oil well (which has yet to produce any oil). But with only her estranged father (John Mills) and a hired drifter (George C. Scott) to help her, how long can she hold out? Directed by Stanley Kramer (JUDGMENT AT NUREMBURG), Marc Norman's weak screenplay and Kramer's colorless direction defeat the film before it even has a chance to get started. Two things in its favor: Dunaway is quite good in one of her least mannered performances and Robert Surtees' (BEN-HUR) wide screen Panavision cinematography which makes even the most commonplace images look wonderful. I'm not a fan of Kramer's "hit you over the head" message films but fortunately, he's does no proselytizing here. There's a dreadful folksy underscore by Henry Mancini that I could have done without. With Jack Palance and Rafael Campos.  

Monday, September 9, 2019

Wet Gold (1984)

Four adventurers band together to search for sunken gold in the Caribbean waters: a waitress (Brooke Shields), a drunk (Burgess Meredith), an aging surfer (Brian Kerwin) and an ex-drug runner (Thomas Byrd). But tensions rise when the two young bucks fight for the girl's attention and greed starts to poison the venture. Directed by Dick Lowry, this tale of a falling out among thieves when greed and lust sets in is something we've seen countless times before and the cliches are in full force here. We know what's going to happen even before the characters do and if they had any brains at all, they would see it coming too. The cinematographer James Pergola (POLICE ACADEMY 5) doesn't take full advantage of the lush Bahamas location. The camera spends most of its time ogling Brooke Shields in form fitting swimsuits. The droning synthesizer score is by Sylvester Levay.    

Sunday, September 8, 2019

The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

After the tragic death of his wife (Debra Messing), a journalist (Richard Gere) for the Washington Post finds himself mysteriously drawn to a small West Virginia town. It is there that he discovers many of the town's residents have been beset with strange occurrences. In particular, the sighting of a strange moth-like entity. Based on the non fiction book by John Keel and directed by Mark Pellington (ARLINGTON ROAD). The biggest problem I had with the film is that although the film claims that it is based on "true events", what the movie does is attribute supernatural elements to a real life disaster when, in fact, there was nothing supernatural about it. It's like doing a movie about the Titanic and claiming its sinking was due to witchcraft! For a horror film (which is what this is), it's a slow moving affair without any tension or sense of horror. It's flabby and needed some tightening up, something a good editor should have done. Even thenI'm not so sure it could have been saved. Poorly done all around. With Laura Linney, Alan Bates, Will Patton and Lucinda Jenney.

Mrs. Miniver (1942)

In a small village outside London, a "typical" English family adjusts to the horror of war as it slowly encroaches on their turf. Based on the novel by Jan Struther and directed by William Wyler. During WWII, Hollywood did their bit for the war effort by making propaganda films to boost the morale of the country. Most of them took place in actual battle zones but a handful of films like SINCE YOU WENT AWAY and this one focused on the home front. MRS. MINIVER doesn't get much love these days but I think it's a fine film. Of course, this isn't a typical English family at all, just Hollywood's idea of one. But it shows the courage and tenacity of those who lived under the terror of German bombings, often seeing their loved ones killed and their homes destroyed. Never sure of when their turn will come. It's melodramatic and contrived to a point yes but there's still a nobility about it. It's Oscar win for best film is understandable if debatable although I have no problem with Greer Garson's win playing the title character. The nation took the film to its heart and the movie was a huge box hit. With Walter Pidgeon, Richard Ney, Teresa Wright, Dame May Whitty, Henry Wilcoxon and Henry Travers. 

The Earth Dies Screaming (1964)

A mysterious gas attack kills off most of the world's population. But in a small country inn in England, a small group of survivors gather and attempt to formulate a plan to survive as killer robots patrol the streets. Directed by Hammer veteran Terence Fisher (BRIDES OF DRACULA), this low budget sci-fi horror seems a retread of the superior TARGET EARTH released ten years earlier. The two (very) mature leads are veterans of supporting and small roles in films of the 50s and 60s, Willard Parker (KISS ME KATE) and Virginia Field (WATERLOO BRIDGE). The best thing about the film is its great title and nothing in the movie lives up to it. The robot's gear is pretty neat though. The film's score is by Elisabeth Lutyens, one of the earliest female composers in film. With Dennis Price, Vanda Godsell and Thorley Walters.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Six Characters In Search Of An Author (1976)

While rehearsing a television show, a director (John Houseman) and his crew and cast are surprised when six people suddenly emerge. First, on the TV monitor and then "in person" on the set. The six are characters in an unfinished play looking for an author to complete their story. Based on the play by Luigi Pirandello and directed by the actor Stacy Keach. The theatrical setting of Pirandello's play has been updated to a TV studio. While the TV studio setting doesn't quite work, the casting of the stepdaughter (Beverly Todd in the play's best performance) and her two siblings (H.B. Barnum III, Claire Touchstone) with black actors gives the play an interesting dynamic. Like Pirandello's play, the production examines the fine line between Art and reality, how illusion is simply that and how an actor's interpretation of a role or a director's vision can often distort the reality of a character's truth to serve the production. A character's truth is on the page but once taken and put into the service of play's production or filmization, it is no longer theirs. There's no underscore but Jerry Goldsmith composed the title credit to Saul Bass's main title. With Andy Griffith, Julie Adams, James Keach, Laurence Hugo, Timothy Blake and Patricia Hitchcock.

The Revengers (1972)

After his entire family is massacreda Colorado rancher (William Holden) goes to Mexico in pursuit of the man (Warren Vanders) responsible. Since the man is protected by Comanche Indians, he helps a group of convicts to escape and pays them to ride with him. Directed by Daniel Mann (COME BACK LITTLE SHEBA), this is a preposterous and sloppy western. It's a Peckinpah wannabe but without Peckinpah's visionary boldness and artistry. It plays out more like a poor American imitation of a spaghetti western. The film comes alive in its last 12 minutes with a very good battle between the "revengers" and U.S. Cavalry against the attacking Comanches. There's a horrendous anachronistic underscore by Pino Calvi which sounds like pop versions of Ennio Morricone's scores. Some of the acting is pretty bad including Ernest Borgnine at his scenery chewing worst. With Susan Hayward (in her final film role)Woody Strode, Arthur HunnicuttReinhard KolldehoffRoger Hanin and Larry Pennell. 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Eternal Sea (1955)

A career Naval captain (Sterling Hayden) is injured in the Battle Of Leyte Gulf during WWII and loses a leg. But he refuses any thought of retirement and instead is determined to remain in the Navy and eventually command a ship again. Based on the life of Admiral John Madison Hoskins and directed by John H. Auer. This is a standard military film extolling the virtues of heroism and patriotism during the Korean War. It's a painless if tedious sit balancing the action film aspect of it as well as the domestic side with Alexis Smith as the patient Navy wife forever wringing her hands and standing by her man. But it's a dull and uninteresting movie with a bizarre Christian bent at the very end of the film. Even if you're a war movie enthusiast you might find this one a bit of snoozer. There's an underscore by a young Elmer Bernstein. With Virginia Grey as another hand wringing Navy wifeDean JaggerBen CooperHayden Rorke and Douglas Kennedy.

Monday, September 2, 2019

The Flight Of The Phoenix (1965)

A cargo plane flying oil workers and some military personnel from Jaghbub to Bengazi (in Libya) crashes in the desert. The survivors are too off course to expect any rescue. An aircraft designer (Hardy Kruger) proposes to the plane's pilot (James Stewart) that they build a small aircraft out of the remaining wreckage and escape. Based on the novel by Elleston Trevor and directed by Robert Aldrich (KISS ME DEADLY). Considered a "classic" now, the film actually received mixed reviews when it opened and was a box office failure. Ironically, when a remake came out in 2004, critics generally said how inferior it was to the original. It's a meticulous (perhaps too meticulous, it runs almost 2 1/2 hours) film that thoroughly details the machinations involved in surviving in the desert as well as the complications of creating a viable aircraft. The characters are all flawed and many (like Ronald Fraser's bitter soldier) are downright unlikable but I liked that there were no typical "heroes". There's a strong underscore by Frank DeVol. With Richard Attenborough, Peter Finch, Ernest Borgnine, Hardy Kruger, Ian Bannen (inexplicably nominated for an Oscar for his work here), Dan Duryea, George Kennedy, Christian Marquand and Barrie Chase (CAPE FEAR), whose entire performance consists of a bump and grind mirage dance. 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Changeling (2008)

In 1928 Los Angeles, a single mother (Angelina Jolie), who works as a supervisor for the phone company, returns home from work to find her nine year old son (Gattlin Griffith) is missing. Several months later, a boy (Devon Conti) is returned to her claiming to be her son which she denies. What follows is a devastating narrative of police corruption, the disempowerment of women, false incarcerations and child murders. Based on the true story of the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders and directed by Clint Eastwood. The film takes artistic license but it is for the most part accurate to the facts of the disappearance of Walter Collins and the subsequent ordeal suffered by his mother Christine Collins (Jolie). In its own way, it's as much a horror film as SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. But the horror comes from a society that doesn't listen to women, brushing them off as hysterical and emotional and shoving them aside rather than listening to their truth. The horror comes from the power of a corrupt political system that denies citizens their rights and allows police to destroy lives at a whim. Jolie gives a career best performance here. There's is nothing more traumatic than losing a child and Jolie makes us privy to the rollercoaster of emotions running through her and her refusal to bow down. With John Malkovich, Colm Feore, Jeffrey Donovan, Jason Butler Harner, Amy Ryan and Denis O'Hare.

The Four Skulls Of Jonathan Drake (1959)

A university professor (Eduard Franz) specializing in the occult is the last survivor of the Drake family. The family has a curse placed on them by a Jivaro witch doctor 200 years ago. Each male member of the family will die at the age of 60, his head will be decapitated and shrunk. Directed by Edward L. Cahn, the film's lack of any concession to cinematic style and its studio stagebound sets make it play out like an extended episode of the 1960s TV anthology THRILLER. As an episode of a TV show specializing in horror, it's not bad. As a movie, it's a stiff (like the acting). The film takes itself oh so seriously but it never veers over to "camp". For a horror film, it's very discreet. Although several decapitations are included in the movie, they're all done off camera. For fans of 1950s B horror output, it should be of interest. I'm not sure of anybody else. With Valerie French (JUBAL), Grant Richards, Paul Cavanagh and Frank Gerstle. 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

That Uncertain Feeling (1941)

A Park Avenue socialite (Merle Oberon) feels ignored by her husband (Melvyn Douglas). When she meets a neurotic musician (Burgess Meredith) in her psychoanalyst's (Alan Mowbray) office, she finds herself attracted to him as he offers an alternative to the rut her marriage is in. Based on the 1880 play DIVORCONS by Victorien Sardou and Emile De Najac and directed by Ernest Lubitsch (NINOTCHKA). Lubitsch had previously used the same source material for his 1925 silent film KISS ME AGAIN. Perhaps the film might have worked better as a pre-code film and its theme of mixed partners and adultery allowed to be more daring. It's not a bad film and if a name other than Lubitsch were attached to it, it might be considered a pleasant diversion. But it is a Lubitsch film and the sparkle and wit just isn't there. Oberon is lovely but comedy is not her forte and even a Rosalind Russell or Carole Lombard would be let down by the script. With Eve Arden, Sig Ruman, Harry Davenport and Olive Blakeney. 

After The Wedding (2019)

The co-founder (Michelle Williams) of an orphanage in India, which is in dire need of funds, travels to New York to meet with the wealthy CEO (Julianne Moore) of a major company with the hopes she will make a sizable donation to the orphanage. While the benefactor won't commit right away, she invites the visitor to be a guest at her daughter's wedding. It is there that she meets the woman's husband (Billy Crudup) whom she had known in her youth and with whom she shares a dark secret. A remake of the 2006 Oscar nominated Danish film which was nominated for a foreign language film Oscar and directed by Bart Freundlich. The film makes a gender switch for the three leads. In the Danish films, the Moore and Williams roles were male and the Crudup role was female. I haven't seen the Danish original but despite some good acting, this film seems contrived and overly convoluted. It's so obvious where the movie is going and I was hoping I was wrong but it goes exactly where you think it's going. Normally, I have zero problems with downer movies but this one can't seem to find a heartbeat. Crudup is fine but he can't match the dynamic duo of Williams and Moore. With Abby Quinn and Will Chase.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Water (1985)

A sleepy island in the Caribbean under British rule becomes a hotbed of political and economic chaos when a unique and flavorful mineral water is discovered underneath the surface of the island. Suddenly an island no one cared about is thrust into the world view. Directed by Dick Clement (A SEVERED HEAD), this satire on colonialism, capitalism and revolutions is a mixed bag. Much of it is unfunny and there are a couple of awful performances. Specifically, Brenda Vaccaro as a hotheaded and oversexed Guatemalan wife whose accent is godawful and the irritating Billy Connolly as a biracial revolutionary (his Scottish accent is never explained). But the film's aims are well intentioned and the movie slowly (very slowly) wins you over in spite of all its major shortcomings. The gorgeous island of St. Lucia is lovingly photographed by Douglas Slocombe (THE LION IN WINTER). The large ensemble cast includes Michael Caine as the island's governor, Valerie Perrine, George Harrison, Jimmie Walker, Leonard Rossiter, Dick Shawn, Fred Gwynne, Ringo Starr, Dennis Dugan, Eric Clapton and Maureen Lipman as Margaret Thatcher.    

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Psycho II (1983)

22 years after he was declared not guilty by reason of insanity in a series of murders, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) is released from a mental institution as "cured". The sister (Vera Miles) of his last victim (Janet Leigh) objects to his release but to no avail. Returning to the Bates mansion and motel which was the scene of his crimes, he has a difficult time putting his past behind him. Directed by Richard Franklin (ROAD GAMES), this sequel to the Hitchcock classic is surprisingly good. While nowhere near the level of artistry of the iconic 1960 film, the film smartly goes in a different direction. There's a poignancy to it and one almost feels an empathy for poor Norman as we're never quite sure if he's being driven mad or if he was never cured in the first place. Jerry Goldsmith's excellent score sets the tone as his main title theme is melancholy as opposed to Bernard Herrmann's racing strings theme. Vera Miles returning as Lila Crane (now Loomis) gives an aggressive performance in an interesting contrast to her more subdued performance in the 1960 movie. It's more grisly than PSYCHO. The slasher film (FRIDAY THE 13TH had come out 3 years earlier) was now a staple at cinemas so the film makers upped the ante. But it's a well made and intelligent film. I think Hitchcock would have approved. With Meg Tilly, Robert Loggia, Dennis Franz (the film's only sour note) and Claudia Bryar.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Ugly American (1963)

The new U.S. Ambassador (Marlon Brando) to Sarkhan (a fictional Southeast Asian country) is a longtime friend to a Sarkhanese revolutionary (Eiji Okada, HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR) who fears U.S. intervention that would make his country a puppet for U.S. interests. Based on the novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer and directed by George Englund. An overtly political film about U.S. interference in Southeast Asia was a rarity in 1963. The few films dealing with the subject usually made Americans the heroes and the communists the bad guys. Although Okada's revolutionary is duped by the communists, the onus falls the indifferent "ugly" Americans who don't even attempt to understand the country and its people that they are trying to "help". This indifference and naivete contributes to the disastrous tragedy that befalls everyone. It's not one of Brando's best performances but he's decent. The film is prescient in its look at U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Curiously, the film received unexceptional reviews and its political message dismissed when it was originally released. It's one of those films posterity has been kind to. The effective underscore is by Frank Skinner (WRITTEN ON THE WIND). With Arthur Hill, Pat Hingle, Sandra Church, Jocelyn Brando, Reiko Sato and Carl Benton Reid. 

Madchenjahre Einer Konigin (aka Victoria In Dover) (1954)

After she discovers that she expected to marry and that three royal suitors have been invited to her birthday celebration, the young Queen Victoria (Romy Schneider) flees London with the intention of going to Paris. However, a severe thunderstorm causes her and her companion (Magda Schneider) and driver (Rudolf Vogel) to seek shelter at a small inn on the way. It is there that she meets a handsome young German (Adrian Hoven) and falls in love. Based on the 1932 play by Sil Vara (previously made into a film in 1936) and directed by Ernst Marischka. Just 16 years old and in only her third film, Romy Schneider's breakout role would come the following years in SISSI which made her a popular star in Germany (her international stardom wouldn't come until the 1960s). But MADCHENJAHRE EINER KONIGIN contains much of what would make her a star in SISSI. In both films, she plays naive young girls thrust into the world of royal restraint and expectations. Though historically it's nonsense, it makes for a lovely almost fairy tale like romance. So much so, that I didn't mind its predictability at all. With Karl Ludwig Diehl and Christi Mardayn.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

With Six You Get Eggroll (1968)

A widow (Doris Day) with three sons (John Findlater, Richard Steele, Jimmy Bracken) and a widower (Brian Keith) with a daughter (Barbara Hershey) fall in love. But their children have a hard time adjusting to the idea of combining households much less adjusting to a new "parent". Directed by Howard Morris, this was Day's final feature film before going into television. Perhaps not so ironically, the G rated movie plays out like an extended TV sitcom. It came out the same year as a similar film about combined families, YOURS MINE AND OURS but this one is actually better. While not on the level of her chemistry with Rock Hudson or James Garner, Day and Keith work very well off each other. But the dynamics of tension between a combined household gives way to utter nonsense in the film's last 15 minutes what with stoned hippies, car crashes and Keith falling out of a moving camper in his boxer shorts and a teddy bear. And whoever thought Doris Day and George Carlin would end up in a movie together? With Pat Carroll, Alice Ghostley, Elaine Devry and Vic Tayback.   

Monday, August 26, 2019

Mother Wore Tights (1947)

A young girl (Betty Grable) fresh out of high school is supposed to attend business college but she ends up in the chorus of a vaudeville show. The show's headliner (Dan Dailey) takes a shine to her and invites her to partner with him. Based on the novel by Miriam Young and directed by Walter Lang (THE KING AND I). While I love musicals, I'm not fond of Fox's period musicals usually starring Grable, Alice Faye or June Haver. This one starts off better than most but once Grable and Dailey get married and start a family, the film takes a nosedive into corn and sentimentality. The movie was a huge hit in 1947 and many consider it Grable's best film. She's appealing as ever but if the film belongs to anybody it belongs to Dailey. Still, what can you say about a film whose highlight is a performance by Senor Wences (a ventriloquist who uses his left hand as a talking puppet)? Anne Baxter does the narration and the rest of the cast includes Mona Freeman, Connie Marshall, Lee Patrick, Sara Allgood, Robert Arthur, Ruth Nelson, Sig Ruman and Lottie Stein. 

Peter Pan (1924)

A young boy (Betty Bronson), who refuses to grow up, returns to the children's bedroom of the Darling household where he lost his shadow. He suggests to the children, Wendy (Mary Brian), John (Jack Murphy) and Michael (Philippe De Lacy) that they accompany him to Never Never Land which they do. Based on the beloved classic by J.M. Barrie and directed by Herbert Brenon. This silent film follows Barrie's original narrative (based on his play) very closely. The film is quite charming and some of the visuals are imposing. Following in the tradition of the original 1904 stage production where Peter was played by a woman (Nina Boucicault), the androgynous (at least here) Betty Bronson plays Peter. There's an unintentional element of homoeroticism in the kissing scenes between Peter and Wendy because of this. Personally, I've never been a big fan of the idea behind Peter Pan. I find the idea of someone never wanting to grow up and remain a child forever kind of icky. That being said, this is an imaginative and often exciting version of the tale. With Ernest Torrence as Captain Hook, Anna May Wong as Tiger Lily, Virginia Brown Faire as Tinkerbell, Esther Ralston, Cyril Chadwick and stealing scenes as Nana the dog, George Ali.  

Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Mudlark (1950)

A young street urchin (Andrew Ray) steals a cameo with the face of Queen Victoria (Irene Dunne) off a dead body. He has no idea who she is but he is fixated on her as a mother figure. When he hears she resides at Windsor Castle, he sneaks in in the hopes of seeing her in person. Based on the novel By Theodore Bonnet and directed by Jean Negulesco (THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN). This is a dull film that is supposed to be heartwarming (I think) but I found its title character annoying. A crude little thing reeking of body odor, who breaks into Windsor Castle, steals fruit and nonchalantly spits seeds all over the floor. Dunne isn't remotely believable as Queen Victoria. If that was an English accent she was using, it just sounded like an affected American. The rest of the cast is comprised of real Brits including Alec Guinness as her prime minister Disraeli in a quite ordinary performance. You'd never guess he was one of the world's great actors. With Finlay Currie as Mr. Brown, Anthony Steel, Constance Smith, Beatrice Campbell, Wildrid Hyde White and Patricia Hitchcock (Alfred's daughter). 

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Uncanny (1977)

In Montreal, a writer (Peter Cushing) with a paranoid fear of cats tries to convince his publisher (Ray Milland) to publish his book which espouses the theory that cats are supernatural creatures with Satanic leanings with the intent to control mankind. To this end, he tells three "true" stories: 1) after a maid (Susan Penhaligon) murders their mistress (Joan Greenwood), her cats attack the maid and trap her in the pantry and a waiting game begins. 2) an orphaned girl (Katrina Holden Bronson) is sent to live with her cat hating Aunt (Alexandra Stewart) and bratty cousin (Chloe Franks). 3) a horror film icon (Donald Pleasence) kills his wife and drowns her cat's kittens but Hell hath no fury like a mother cat! I've a fondness for these anthology horror film like TALES FROM THE CRYPT, ASYLUM etc. and this one presents three engrossing horror vignettes. The best of the three is the first one with a truly grisly finale. As a cat lover, I do find these ailurophobic horror films with "evil" cats a bit irritating (but usually their victims are bad people who deserve to die) but as a film lover, they're a great deal of fun. With Samantha Eggar, John Vernon, Roland Culver and Simon Williams.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Courage Fuyons (1979)

A man (Jean Rochefort) has been a coward since birth, a trait he has inherited from previous generations of his male lineage. He is married to a woman (Dominique Lavanant) who has decided his career path (pharmacist) and how many children they will have (2). But during the May 1968 student revolt in France, he suddenly decides to leave his life behind and pursue a blonde singer (Catherine Deneuve) to Amsterdam. Directed by Yves Robert (TALL BLONDE MAN WITH ONE BLACK SHOE). This rather listless romantic comedy was popular in France and Rochefort and Lavanant received Cesar nominations (France's Oscar equivalent) but was never released in the U.S. One can see why. Perhaps something was lost in the translation but I found it more tedious than amusing. Rochefort's character is unappealing. He's a worm who abandons his family then lies to Deneuve about who he is in order to hold her interest and we're supposed to be sympathetic to him? One has to suspend belief quite a bit to swallow that Deneuve would be interested in this loser at all! For Catherine Deneuve fans only. With Robert Webber, Michel Aumont and Philippe Leroy.

Woman They Almost Lynched (1953)

During the Civil War, a small Ozark border town on the state lines of Missouri (which is Union) and Arkansas (which is Confederate) declares neutrality. But when the renegade Quantrill (Brian Donlevy) and his trigger happy wife (Audrey Totter) ride into town, they ignite a fire that threatens to destroy that neutrality. Directed by Allan Dwan (SLIGHTLY SCARLET). A year before Nicholas Ray's great feminist western JOHNNY GUITAR, this female centric western tested the waters. It's the women who control the border town. Its mayor (Nina Varela) and her all female committee are a tough group who don't put up with any nonsense. But the center of the film and its title character is a newcomer (Joan Leslie), who grows from genteel lady to gunslinging saloon owner and becomes Totter's nemesis. They even have a gunfight that presages the Crawford/McCambridge gunfight in JOHNNY GUITAR. It's nowhere near as great as GUITAR but it's entertaining. But I had trouble figuring out how seriously I was supposed to take it as it almost seems a tongue in cheek parody of a male driven western. But its aims are modest and its quasi-feminist dynamics are titillating. With John Lund, Ben Cooper, Jim Davis, James Brown, Reed Hadley, Ann Savage, Richard Crane and Virginia Christine.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Black Hole (1979)

Returning to Earth, a spacecraft discovers a seemingly abandoned spaceship hovering near the edges of a black hole. Boarding the ship, they discover a survivor (Maximilian Schell) of a space expedition thought destroyed 20 years ago. But they soon find that the spaceship and its unhinged captain harbor a horrifying secret. Directed by Gary Nelson (FREAKY FRIDAY), the film is a riff on Jules Verne's 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA but set in space with Schell standing in as Captain Nemo. Visually, the massive Cygnus (the name of the craft) is stunning and worthy of Verne. The storyline is simplistic (to put it mildly), scientifically inaccurate and the acting (except for Schell) marginal but the depth of its visuals are striking and it received Oscar nominations for its cinematography and visual effects. The actual entry into the black hole could never live up to anyone's expectations of what it might actually be like so the film makers use distinctive images (like the dead Schell and the robot he feared embracing like lovers) conjuring both Heaven and Hell accompanied by John Barry's darkly elegant score. With Anthony Perkins, Yvette Mimieux, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Forster, Roddy McDowall, Slim Pickens and Joseph Bottoms.  

Bedknobs And Broomsticks (1971)

Set in WWII England, an apprentice witch (Angela Lansbury) reluctantly takes in three orphan children (Ian Weighill, Roy Snart, Cindy O'Callaghan) displaced from London. The amateur witch plans on using her powers of sorcery to help defeat the Germans from invading England. Based on the novel THE MAGIC BEDKNOB by Mary Norton and directed by Robert Stevenson (MARY POPPINS). This is a thoroughly enchanting blend of fantasy and music (songs by Richard M. And Robert B. Sherman). While still family friendly, it still manages not to dumb it down beyond an adult's enjoyment. Perhaps best of all, the three child actors are wonderful. They seem like real kids as opposed to those usual phony "adorable" moppets that populate movies like these. This is the only film credit for the two boys (Weighill, Snart) and only O'Callaghan continued acting. The film was cut by some 20 minutes prior to its initial release but I watched the original version with the 20 minutes restored. The highlights of the film are the Portobello Road production number (a victim of the editing shears prior to release) and a hilarious animated soccer game with exotic animals. With David Tomlinson, Roddy McDowall, Sam Jaffe, John Ericson, Reginald Gardiner and Tessie O'Shea. 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1996)

In 15th century Paris, the minister of justice (Tony Jay) kills a Gypsy woman (Mary Kay Bergman) on the steps of the Notre Dame cathedral. He also attempts to kill the woman's deformed infant before he is stopped by the Notre Dame's Archdeacon (David Ogden Stiers). To atone for his sin, he agrees to raise the child as his own but confined to the towers of Notre Dame. The child is given the name Quasimodo and grows up to be the Notre Dame's bell ringer (Tom Hulce). Based on the classic novel by Victor Hugo and directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise. This animated Disney musical doesn't get much love but I adore it. The songs are terrific and as good as anything you'll find on Broadway. The film is much darker than usual for a Disney animated film. Tony Jay's aria of repressed sexual longing sizzles with lust and horror. This being a Disney film however, there are singing and dancing stone gargoyles (Jason Alexander, Mary Wickes, Charles Kimbrough) and a cute goat for the kiddies. Also being Disney, we're given a more uplifting ending than the original novel (the 1939 adaptation did the same thing) but it's still a thrilling piece of animated musical cinema. With Demi Moore as Esmeralda (the only cast member whose singing voice is dubbed), Kevin Kline and Paul Kandel.

Witchcraft (1964)

A building developer (Jack Hedley) unknowingly overturns headstones and churns up hundreds of years old graves with a bulldozer. The graveyard belonged to a family whose matriarch (Yvette Rees) was buried alive as a witch and whose descendants still practice witchcraft. This desecration of the graves resurrects the ancient witch who seeks revenge on the family responsible for her death. Directed by Don Sharp (BRIDES OF FU MANCHU), this rather tame horror movie could have been written by a 12 year old based on the simplicity of its connecting the dots screenplay. It follows the path of almost every witchcraft movie ever made without any style or tension and definitely without any real sense of horror or dread. Even horror icon Lon Chaney Jr. as the head of a coven witches seems to be going through the motions. With Jill Dixon, Viola Keats, Marie Ney, David Weston, Diane Clare and Marianne Stone.  

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Luce (2019)

A young black student (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) has been raised by white parents (Naomi Watts, Tim Roth) who adopted him when he was 7 years old from a war torn African country. Excelling in academics and athletics, he's the poster boy for the American dream. But when his teacher (Octavia Spencer) brings something to the attention of his parents, it appears that everything is not as smooth as it seems. Directed by Julius Onah, this is an unsettling film. The kind where you get a queasy feeling in your gut at the beginning of the movie that this isn't going to turn out well and it doesn't. The film addresses major issues head on: maintaining a black identity when raised in a well meaning Caucasian household, holding the family unit together whatever the sacrifice, the manipulation of the truth and the destruction of others to save yourself. It's not an easy film to sit through and kudos to Harrison who gives a fierce performance, presenting a smiling face to the world while waiting to explode underneath. He's matched by Octavia Spencer (in what may be her best performance yet) as a woman trying to do the right thing against impossible odds. The film addresses the issues but smartly realizes that they are too complex to present a solution. With Andrea Bang, Marsha Stephanie Blake and Norbert Leo Butz. 

Tonight At 8:30 (1991)

Eight plays by Noel Coward ranging from dramas (THE ASTONISHED HEART), comedies (HANDS ACROSS THE SEA) to musical (RED PEPPERS). In the theatre, the plays were presented in rotation with three of the original ten plays performed each evening. This production just uses eight of the ten plays. It's a vehicle that serves as a showcase for Joan Collins who is the only actor in every play while a repertory of actors fill out the various roles for the other playlets. The production allows Collins a variety of roles rather than the usual glamour parts she plays. She plays spinsters (FAMILY ALBUM), aging shop owners (STILL LIFE) and shrews (FUMED OAK) as well as glam parts (SHADOW PLAY). The quality of the plays vary. Some are quite witty while others don't hold up well with mores that go against the grain in contemporary society. Other cast members include Anthony Newley, Sian Phillips, Jane Asher, Miriam Margolyes, Denis Quilley, Tony Slattery, Moyra Fraser and John  Standing.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Fragment Of Fear (1970)

A recovering ex-drug addict (David Hemmings) is in Italy with his Aunt (Flora Robson), a kind and charitable woman who is part of an organization to rehabilitate young criminals and give them a second chance in society. When she turns up strangled in the ruins of Pompeii, the Italian police don't seem overly concerned so he takes the matter into his own hands to find out who killed her. But someone or some people don't want him sticking his nose into her past. Based on the novel by John Bingham and directed by Richard C. Sarafian (THE MAN WHO LOVED CAT DANCING). This stylish thriller is all about technique rather than structure. It begins like a typical thriller but soon descends into a paranoid "is this real or is he bonkers" scenario. I didn't find the outcome satisfactory but I appreciated the journey to get there. I could have done without the jazzy underscore by Johnny Harris which doesn't give us any tension which the film could have used. With Gayle Hunnicutt, Daniel Massey, Mona Washbourne, Wilfrid Hyde White, Adolfo Celi, Roland Culver, Yootha Joyce and Patricia Hayes.   

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Silver Whip (1953)

An inexperienced youth (Robert Wagner) is hired to drive a stagecoach but he's accompanied by a more experienced driver (Dale Robertson) for his first trip. When a group of bandits hold up the stage for the gold it is carrying, the boy does everything wrong which results in the death of two passengers (Lola Albright, Burt Mustin) and the loss of the gold. Based on the novel FIRST BLOOD by Jack Scahefer and directed by Harmon Jones (GORILLA AT LARGE). This minor western programmer is a decent entry with solid performances and a tight script. In a sense, it's a coming of age western with Wagner's callow youth entering into manhood the hard way by redeeming himself after his disastrous first attempt at a grown man's job. The distinctive B&W lensing by Lloyd Ahern (MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET) takes full advantage of the scenic Sonora locations but while I can understand the decision to shoot in B&W to keep the focus on the drama, it would have looked glorious in Technicolor. Unfortunately, there's no original score, just stock music cues and the film could have benefited from a good underscore. With Rory Calhoun, Kathleen Crowley and James Millican.   

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)

After they break up, a man (Jim Carrey) discovers that his ex-girlfriend (Kate Winslet) has had a medical procedure that has erased the memory of their relationship from her mind. In desperation, he decides to undergo the same procedure but during the process, he changes his mind. But he's unconscious, so how can he prevent it. Directed by Michel Gondry, this unique blend of romance and science fiction is intelligent and complicated thanks to Charlie Kaufman's Oscar winning screenplay. There's never been anything quite like it. It's as romantic as any romcom but it skips over the cliches and never falls into the sentimental trap that is often inherent in the genre. The acting is very good with Carrey giving what might be a career best performance. The dream like cinematography by Ellen Kuras (SUMMER OF SAM) is amazing and there's a sensational underscore by Jon Brion (MAGNOLIA). With Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson, Elijah Wood and Jane Adams.  

The House Of The Seven Gables (1940)

The sudden death of the family patriarch (Gilbert Emery) provides the opportunity for a devious son (George Sanders) to accuse his brother (Vincent Price) of murdering his father in order to inherit the family fortune after his brother is sent to prison. Based on the 1851 novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne and directed by Joe May (THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS). While the screenplay is altered from Hawthorne's novel in many ways (the brother and sister of the novel are now lovers and a leftist political tone is added), it is faithful in spirit to Hawthorne's book. While purists may object, I found this version a solid Gothic revenge thriller. Although the intimidating presence of Sanders and Price add weight to the film, the stand out performance comes from Margaret Lindsay. A workhorse at Warners during the 1930s (usually cast as the other woman), her performance from young ingenue in love to a lonely aging woman is good enough to suggest that Warners didn't take full advantage of her talents. With Dick Foran, Nan Grey, Cecil Kellaway and Alan Napier.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Critical Care (1997)

An overworked intern (James Spader) thinks with his penis rather than his head when he is seduced by the daughter (Kyra Sedgwick) of a comatose patient. Soon, he finds himself caught in a lawsuit between her and her older sister (Margo Martindale) over keeping the patient alive and his medical career is on the line. Based on the novel by Richard Dooling and directed by Sidney Lumet. Lumet directed NETWORK and it's no coincidence that the movie tries to do with the medical system what it did to television in NETWORK. Fortunately, the film isn't as strident as NETWORK since Paddy Chayefsky didn't write this but Lumet's direction is still heavy handed. A film on the corruption of the medical system as it becomes more concerned with making substantial profits than helping the sick would be most welcome. Alas, this isn't it. The film's "satire" attempts to be biting but it just ends up hitting you over the head. We have fantasy sequences with Wallace Shawn as Satan and Anne Bancroft as an angel and worst of all, a 40ish Albert Brooks playing a senile old geezer (what they couldn't have hired a 70-ish actor?). A huge misfire. With Helen Mirren, Jeffrey Wright, Edward Herrmann, Philip Bosco and Colm Feore. 

Teresa (1951)

An immature mama's boy (John Ericson) goes away from home for the first time when he serves in WWII. While serving in Italy, he falls in love with an Italian girl (Pier Angeli) and marries her. But when the war is over and he's back home with his controlling mother (Patricia Collinge, THE LITTLE FOXES), he finds he's ill equipped to be a husband. Directed by Fred Zinnemann (FROM HERE TO ETERNITY), I found it hard to empathize with Ericson's protagonist. The film places the blame for his problems squarely on his mother's shoulders but I think the screenplay is being unfair to her. Sure, she's every wife's nightmare for a mother in law but her wimpy son needs to get a pair of balls! In her American film debut, the lovely Pier Angeli positively blooms on the screen. You can see why she quickly became one of MGM's most popular young stars during the 1950s and if there's a reason to see this film, it's her! With Rod Steiger, Ralph Meeker, Peggy Ann Garner, Edward Binns, Edith Atwater and Franco Interlenghi (De Sica's SHOESHINE).

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Midas Run (1969)

A British secret service agent (Fred Astaire) is near retirement. But before he leaves the service, he devises an elaborate heist of 15 million in gold. For this, he recruits two accomplices: an American writer (Richard Crenna) and a beautiful woman (Anne Heywood). Directed by Alf Kjellin, this is a rather dreary example of the international heist caper which was quite popular in the 1960s (THE ITALIAN JOB, BIGGEST BUNDLE OF THEM ALL, TOPKAPI etc.). Putting aside the fact that Astaire doesn't come across as remotely British (he doesn't even attempt an accent), there's very little glamour or excitement. The Italian locations (particularly Venice) are striking but that's about it. There's a particularly ghastly sex scene between Crenna and Heywood with lush music courtesy of Elmer Bernstein superimposed with images of ocean waves and red flowers as Heywood has an orgasm. Heywood gained quite a bit of notoriety with a sex scene in THE FOX the previous year so I suppose the film makers thought it was de rigeur. I had a particular problem with the double crossing of some of the other accomplices in the robbery who were doing their stealing in good faith. With Ralph Richardson, Roddy McDowall, Adolfo Celi and Jacques Sernas.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Kitchen (2019)

In 1978 Hell's Kitchen (a neighborhood in midtown Manhattan), three powerful members of the Irish mob are arrested by FBI agents. Although the mob promises to take care of their wives while their husbands are in jail, the money provided is insufficient. They decide to take matters into their own hands. Based on a comic book series (or is it graphic novel?) and directed by Andrea Berloff. This film is remarkably similar to last year's WIDOWS but not as good. Still, considering the horrible reviews it has received, I was surprised at how entertaining it was. Which doesn't mean it's a good movie, just an enjoyable watch. The film's three leads (Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss) are at their career peaks and probably can have their pick of roles right now. Why they chose this second hand feminist manifesto about women taking power is anybody's guess though I suppose it might have looked great on paper. The actresses acquit themselves admirably and there's a nice turn by Margo Martindale as bitch of a "Godmother" who runs the Irish mob. It's not a must see but if you go in with lowered expectations, you just might be pleasantly surprised. With Domhnall Gleeson, Brian D'Arcy James, James Badge Dale, Annabella Sciorra (nice to see her back) and Common.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Mr. Moto's Gamble (1938)

During a prizefight, a boxer (Russ Clark) is knocked out by his opponent (Dick Baldwin). But when it's discovered that it wasn't a simple knockout but murder when the boxer dies from poison on his rival's boxing glove, the champion is arrested and charged with homicide. Enter the celebrated sleuth Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre) to solve the case! Directed by James Tinling, this was originally supposed to be a Charlie Chan mystery but when Warner Oland became ill and unable to do the film, it was switched at the last minute as a Mr. Moto mystery. The film still has Keye Luke as Chan's son who attempts to assist Moto on the case in the same comedic way he assisted his father in the Chan franchise. I could have done without the comedy relief of Maxie Rosenbloom as a kleptomaniac which isn't funny and just pads out the film. It's one of the weaker entries in the Moto series which I enjoy. The boxing milieu is a tiresome cliche and the mystery really isn't all that interesting and the method of the murder is far fetched. With Lynn Bari, Lon Chaney Jr., Ward Bond, Douglas Fowley, John Hamilton and Jayne Regan.

Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975)

In 1900 Australia, a group of schoolgirls and two of their schoolmistresses go on a picnic to a secluded place called Hanging Rock on Valentine's Day. Three of the schoolgirls and one of the schoolmistresses disappear and the mystery of what happened to them and the search for them comprise the bulk of the film. Based on the novel by Joan Lindsay and directed by Peter Weir (DEAD POETS SOCIETY). When it opened in the U.S., it was a critical success although audiences were hostile that the film's mystery was never solved. It's a beauty of a complex mystery with supernatural trimmings and stunning imagery shot by Russell Boyd (STARSTRUCK). Weir does a remarkable job of conjuring up an unsettling atmosphere and giving Hanging Rock an ominous yet sensual milieu. One can feel the enigma of the setting yet feel the pull of the place. We understand what compels the girls to venture where they shouldn't. Truly, a film that can be accurately described as haunting. With Rachel Roberts, Helen Morse, Jacki Weaver, Anne Louise Lambert, Dominic Guard, John Jarratt and Margaret Nelson.