Young Reginald (Matthew Illesley) is raised in a household with a cold indifferent mother (Bryce Dallas Howard in a surpisingly effective performance) and a father (Steven Mackintosh) who ignores him with only a loving grandmother (Gemma Jones) to give him encouragement and affection. When he grows up and becomes the international pop star Elton John (Taron Egerton), he's still that lonely little boy looking for love. Directed by Dexter Fletcher, the good news is that this is far superior to BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. Unlike that film, it doesn't attempt to whitewash the life of its subject. ROCKEMAN presents Elton John's life with warts and all and, in fact, it's often quite brutal. The bad news is that it still can't get out of that musical biopic rut that seems inherent in the genre. The director and screenwriter make a creative attempt to go the extra mile by using John's songs as part of the narrative like a proper musical rather than limiting them to stage performances. Egerton is wonderful as Elton John. I don't think the film will be as popular as BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. The public prefers fantasy to reality. With Jamie Bell as Bernie Taupin, Richard Madden and Rachel Muldoon as Kiki Dee.
In a rural village in 1910 Germany, a series of unsolved murders have occurred during a five year period. Its victims all turned to stone upon their death. Out of fear, the authorities turn a blind eye but when the son (Jeremy Longhurst) of a prominent Professor (Michael Goodliffe) is made the scapegoat for the latest victim's killing, he sets in motion a series of events which will reveal the horrifying truth. Directed by Hammer veteran Terence Fisher, this is one of Hammer films better horrors. It's unique in that it differs from the usual vampire, Frankenstein and witchcraft films they were churning out at the time. Instead it goes all the way back to Greek mythology and the legend of the gorgons (Medusa being the most famed of the sisters). The film has an atmosphere of genuine mystery without depending too much on shocks. The film benefits by the presence of the two horror icons, Peter Cushing as the protector of the "gorgon" and Christopher Lee as a professor intent on exposing the truth. With Barbara Shelley, Richard Pasco (truly awful) and Jack Watson.
A television news journalist (Rutger Hauer) is given evidence by the director of the CIA (Burt Lancaster) that three of his closest friends (Dennis Hopper, Craig T. Nelson, Chris Sarandon) are KGB operatives. To this end, all three are invited to a weekend at the newsman's home (along with their wives) where their every move will be monitored by a CIA agent (John Hurt). Based on the novel by Robert Ludlum (THE BOURNE IDENTITY) and directed by the legendary Sam Peckinpah. Reportedly, Peckinpah hated the script and took the job because he needed the work. His reputation was pretty much shot in Hollywood at this point, so much so that no studio wanted to work with him. The film is an incoherent mess that is often difficult to follow and the producers edited the film themselves after being dissatisfied with Peckinpah's cut. The nutty plot is far fetched and its characters behave unrealistically. In spite of being so contrived, there's enough loony entertainment value (there's a spectacular swimming pool on fire sequence) to make it watchable. But it's not a good movie. With Meg Foster, Helen Shaver and Cassie Yates.
An employee of a polling company is sent into the backwoods country to find a missing employee. What he finds is a crazy family of homicidal hillbillies and they have no intention of letting him get out alive! Directed by George Marshall (GHOST BREAKERS), this is a comedic gem and hilarious black farce that still hasn't received its due. The pace is suitably frantic and a befuddled MacMurray is a perfect foil for Marjorie Main's psychopathic matriarch and her dim witted trigger happy twins (both played by Peter Whitney). The appealing Helen Walker provides the romantic interest. The comedic highlight is a dinner with a poisoned plate that nobody wants to eat that gets passed around the table. This wacky diversion should please even the most demanding of comedy fans. With Barbara Pepper, Porter Hall, Mabel Paige and Jean Heather.
A New York film producer (Richard Conte) relocates to Hollywood to work in movies. When he comes across the story of the 1929 unsolved murder of a famous silent film director, he decides to make that story his next movie. But someone doesn't want him to make that movie ..... like the still surviving murderer. Directed by William Castle (HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL), this programmer is a fairly decent noir-ish whodunit but alas, like too many movies, it can't sustain itself all the way through and the film's ending is pretty routine. Filmed on the streets of Hollywood and Los Angeles, it's fun seeing 1951 Hollywood and L.A. (especially if you live or have lived in L.A.). But the film can't deliver what it starts out promising ..... a nifty little murder mystery with some juicy Hollywood backstories. It doesn't help that the ghost of the superior SUNSET BOULEVARD (released the year before) hovers over the film. The movie includes cameos from some silent film stars like Francis X. Bushman, William Farnum, Betty Blythe and Helen Gibson. Also in the cast: Joel McCrea, Julie Adams, Richard Egan, Fred Clark, Jim Backus, Henry Hull and Paul Cavanagh.
In 1909, a bitter and rebellious young man (Burt Lancaster) is imprisoned for murder. He will spend the rest of his life behind bars but he gains fame when he becomes a specialist in ornithology. Based on the non fiction book by Thomas E. Gaddis and directed by John Frankenheimer. The film is a highly fictionalized account of the life of Robert Stroud. The film makers soft pedal the real Stroud in the film. According to those who knew him, he was at the very least a jerk and at the worst, a psychopath rather than the benign presence fighting for both birds and rights of prisoners. That aside, if you can get past that, it's a superior example of a genre I normally dislike, the prison picture. It's a compelling portrait of life in the penal system and the often inhumane treatment of prisoners. In addition to Lancaster's excellent performance, two other performances stand out. Thelma Ritter drops her usual wisecracking persona and gives a frightening performance of a possessive and spiteful mother and Neville Brand, usually cast as villains, gives a sympathetic performance as a prison guard. There's also a lovely score by Elmer Bernstein. With Karl Malden, Telly Savalas, Betty Field, Hugh Marlowe and Edmond O'Brien, who's barely in the movie.
An American movie company comes to a remote part of Peru to shoot a western. After the filming is over, a stuntman (Dennis Hopper) decides to stay behind with his prostitute girlfriend (Stella Garcia). But soon the villagers begin shooting their own "movie" with cameras made of sticks and acting out the violent western that the Hollywood company just made. Except, they don't know that movie violence is faked. Fresh off the success of EASY RIDER, studios were eager to capitalize on its success and Hopper received carte blanche from Universal to make his next film. The result was THE LAST MOVIE which was a critical and financial failure (though it did win a prize at the Venice film festival). It's an unholy mess of a movie, absolutely but not without some glimpses of what might have been. The film's beginning and ending are an incoherent mess. It looks like an expensive home movie with Hopper's actor friends meandering around looking for a movie to act in. But the movie's middle core dealing with the stunt man's relationship with his materialistic whore girlfriend, looking for gold with his pal (Don Gordon) and his involvement with a wealthy married woman (Julie Adams) is good enough that you can see what Hopper was aiming for. The rest is pretentious movie gibberish. With Dean Stockwell, Peter Fonda, Samuel Fuller, Kris Kristofferson, Russ Tamblyn, John Phillip Law, Sylvia Miles, Tomas Milian, Michelle Phillips, Michael Anderson Jr, Rod Cameron, Severn Darden and Toni Basil.
It's 1940 London and as the Blitz rages on, a newspaper reporter (Richard Greene) runs across a story about a pacifist organization that has German connections but he's forbidden by the Ministry of Information from publishing it. Directed by Harold French (THE MAN WHO WATCHED TRAINS GO BY), this is a typical piece of British wartime propaganda designed to help the war effort but slightly above average. While the story is nothing special, the film is excellent at showing the day to day life of London under the Blitz and the hardships the Brits were under and how they dealt with it in an almost matter of fact way. The film doesn't make a big deal about the "indomitable" British spirit under wartime but it's there. I also liked the relationship between Greene and a female reporter (Valerie Hobson). The attraction is definitely there but when he proposes marriage, she turns him down to go work in the United States! With Roland Culver, Basil Radford, Andre Morell and Frederick Cooper.
Ten people, eight strangers and two married domestics, find themselves stuck in a remote snowbound castle with no means of escape. As each of them is murdered one by one, it's a race against time to find the murderer before no one is left alive. Based on the classic mystery by Agatha Christie and directed by George Pollock. One of Christie's most popular novels, there have been many adaptations done in film, television and the stage. The most famous is Rene Clair's 1945 film version which like Christie's novel is set on a remote island. This version is rather mundane and done without any flair. If one is unfamiliar with Christie's source material, one might be taken with this version but to Christie legion of fans, it' serviceable and nothing more. Outside of Wilfrid Hyde White's performance as a judge, the rest of the cast appear to be going through the motions. The rest of the cast: Hugh O'Brian, Shirley Eaton, Fabian, Daliah Lavi, Dennis Price, Stanley Holloway, Leo Genn, Mario Adorf and Marianne Hoppe.
At a small publishing house in the Parisian literary world, an editor (Guillaume Canet) refuses to publish a friend's (Vincent Macaigne) latest novel. Unknown to him, his wife (Juliette Binoche) is having an on going affair with the writer. Meanwhile, the editor is having his own affair with a fellow employee (Christa Theret). The writer's wife (Nora Hamzawi) is too busy with her career to have an affair. Directed by Olivier Assayas, I found this film a bit of a letdown. I was a big fan of his two previous films, CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA and PERSONAL SHOPPER, and this one seemed too didactic rather than fluid. There's really no plot to speak of and as the characters go round and round with each other, they talk their heads off. Mainly about how their world is changing too rapidly for them to keep up with (an entirely relatable subject). I still liked it well enough but his characters all seemed too self absorbed to catch my interest and it lacked the magic of his last two movies. Still, it's an intelligent piece of film making and heaven knows, we need more of that.
Set in 1874 London, a mild mannered doctor (Paul Massie) is conducting experiments on the duality of the human mind. Meanwhile, his wife (Dawn Addams) is having an affair with his best friend (Christopher Lee). Loosely based on the novella by Robert Louis Stevenson and directed by Hammer veteran Terence Fisher. Stevenson's tale has been adapted with various variations over a 100 times into films, television and stage productions. This one plays down the horror elements and concentrates on the more dramatic aspects of the story. We never actually see Jekyll's transformation into Hyde and really it's just a matter of a clean shaven Hyde as opposed to a bearded Jekyll. Massie's Hyde is good looking as opposed to the more sinister portrayals of Hyde. Unfortunately, Massie isn't a very interesting actor and the film might have benefited if he and Christopher Lee had switched parts. Addams' adulterous wife and Lee's parasitic best friend are far more interesting than Massie's bland Jekyll and Hyde. The film itself looks terrific thanks to Jack Asher's vibrant lensing and Mayo's costumes especially during the can-can sequence. With Oliver Reed, David Kossoff, Francis De Wolff and Norma Marla.
It's 1931 China and there's a civil war going on. A disparate group of passengers are traveling via train from Peking to Shanghai but will they make it to Shanghai safely? Based on SKY OVER CHINA by Henry Hervey and directed by Josef von Sternberg. I've never been a big fan of the much admired von Sternberg/Marlene Dietrich collaborations but SHANGHAI EXPRESS is my favorite even if it does poop out in the last twenty minutes. I suppose my taste for it is because I have an affection for movies set on trains. This being a pre-code film, there's no uncertainty about how Dietrich and Anna May Wong earn their living! It's stylish, glamorous and rich in intrigue and a nice assortment of character actors make the journey agreeable. Alas, von Sternberg can't keep the momentum up and the film's last twenty minutes are a drag with Clive Brook, dry as sawdust, and Dietrich wrangling over their future together. With Warner Oland, Eugene Pallette, Lawrence Grant, Gustav Von Seyffertitz and Louise Closser Hale.
In the small village of Lourdes in 1858, an ignorant 14 year old girl (Jennifer Jones) claims to see a vision of a "beautiful lady" (Linda Darnell). While the lady never identifies herself as such, the villagers assume it is the Virgin Mary and it isn't long before the town's authorities attempt to silence her out of embarrassment. Based on the novel by Franz Werfel (which uses dramatic license which results in some historical inaccuracy rather than a non-fiction approach) and directed by Henry King (CAPTAIN FROM CASTILE). One doesn't have to be religious or perhaps even spiritual to appreciate the qualities of THE SONG OF BERNADETTE. Innocence and purity aren't easy traits to portray without often seeming insincere or treacly. Jennifer Jones's Oscar winning performance is near remarkable in this respect. The film works principally because of her, it is a guileless performance and in direct contrast to the many high strung women she would later portray in her career. The film is as much about one's strength of convictions as it is faith. The film isn't a slam dunk for Jones's Bernadette. It offers two important doubting characters, both impeccably played: Vincent Price as a government prosecutor and Gladys Cooper as a resentful nun. The shimmering Oscar winning score is by Alfred Newman. With Charles Bickford, Lee J. Cobb, Anne Revere, William Eythe, Patricia Morison, Blanche Yurka, Marcel Dalio, Charles Dingle, Jerome Cowan and Mary Anderson.
A mother fixated young man (Jim Hutton) is convicted of a murder he did not commit and is sent to a mental asylum. During his incarceration there, his mother dies of neglect. When his innocence is proved and he is released, he plots to get revenge by using his ability to project himself out of his body. Directed by actor Ray Danton, this unpleasant low budget horror concoction comes as rather exploitative and sleazy. It's not only the glee with which the film dwells on some of the graphic violence (like Neville Brand's death) but the tits and ass exploitation like when a sexy nurse (Mary Charlotte Wilcox) sexually taunts her terminally ill patient before stripping down to her bra and panties and boogies down to the shower where she meets her death. I won't even go into the unethical actions of the cop's (Paul Burke) taking justice into his own hands. The cast is full of familiar faces who have all distinguished themselves in better films: Julie Adams, Aldo Ray, Nehemiah Persoff and Whit Bissell. Others in the cast include Della Reese and Judith Brown.
A repressed and unattractive Bostonian spinster (Bette Davis) lives with her elderly mother (Gladys Cooper) who dominates her life. After a nervous breakdown and some time in a sanitarium, she goes on a sea voyage to South America to regain her health. It is on the cruise that she meets an unhappily married man (Paul Henreid) and her life is changed forever. Based on the novel by Olive Higgins Prouty and directed by Irving Rapper. One of the greatest and most popular of movie romances, NOW VOYAGER contains one of Bette Davis's very best performances. The film is one of the first to deal with psychiatric therapy and its positive effect on mental health in a realistic manner. It's a soap opera of the first order that is elevated by its adult romanticism and fine performances all around. The underscore by Max Steiner finds him going the extra mile and a special commendation to Orry Kelly for his costumes, Davis has never looked more glamorous. With Claude Rains, Bonita Granville, John Loder, Ilka Chase, Franklin Pangborn, Mary Wickes and Janis Wilson.
The renowned detective Sherlock Holmes (Carlyle Blackwell) is asked to assist in solving the mystery of a spectral hound that reportedly haunts the moors of Devonshire and plaguing the Baskerville heirs for decades and said to be responsible for the recent death of Sir Charles Baskerville (Alexander Murski). Is the new Baskerville heir (Livio Pavanelli) next in line to fall under the curse? Based on the classic novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and directed by Richard Oswald. Doyle's novel has been adapted for both film and television over 20 times and this German film version was the last silent version to be made. Long thought to be lost, a print was discovered in a basement in Poland in 2009 and has been restored although several scenes are still missing. In the film proper, these scenes are bridged by still photos and descriptive narrative. As to the film itself, it's a fairly faithful adaptation of the Doyle novel and rich in Gothic atmosphere with its windswept moors, gloomy mansions and torch lights in the night. For lovers of silent cinema, this is a must. With George Seroff, Betty Bird, Fritz Rasp and Carla Bartheel.
In early 20th century Bavaria, a young couple (Edward De Souza, Jennifer Daniel) are on their honeymoon when their vehicle runs out of petrol in a remote village. The beautiful wife attracts the attention of a doctor (Noel Willman) who is the head of a vampire cult. Directed by Don Sharp (BRIDES OF FU MANCHU), this is an atmospheric and handsomely presented vampire horror in the best Hammer tradition. There's a comfort in the way the movie adheres to the usual time honored vampire conventions and still remains engrossing in spite of its familiarity. The central couple are a rather dull lot and De Souza is barely adequate. But Alan Hume's (FOR YOUR EYES ONLY) vivid cinematography and Bernard Richardson's production design give the film a rich look that belies its modest budget. The film is notable in that it's not religion that defeats the vampires but the powers of Hell. With Clifford Evans, Barry Warren and Peter Madden.
A young married couple (Oliver Reed, Karen Black) are taken aback when a sprawling country mansion they have rented for the summer is offered to them at only $900 for the entire summer by the brother (Burgess Meredith) and sister (Eileen Heckart) who own the home. The only stipulation is that they care for the mysterious recluse "mother" who lives in the attic apartment. Based on the novel by Robert Marasco and directed by Dan Curtis (DARK SHADOWS). As far as evil house horror movies go, this one is pretty good if not particularly original. We're always one step ahead of the protagonists. Given her work as an actress, I suppose it was too much to ask that Karen Black restrain herself and let herself slowly unravel but she seems "off" right from the beginning of the movie. Which leaves Oliver Reed to act as the audience's surrogate as he slowly realizes something is horribly wrong with the old house. I could have done without the foggy filters which give the film an overly soft focus. Filmed at the beautiful Dunsmuir House in Oakland, California (also the setting for part of the Bond film, A VIEW TO A KILL). With Bette Davis as Reed's Aunt, Lee H. Montgomery and Dub Taylor.
A famous Hollywood actress (Mae West) is on her honeymoon in London with her sixth husband (Timothy Dalton), a British aristocrat. But the honeymoon is interrupted when the U.S. government asks her to sleep with a Russian diplomat (Tony Curtis) in order to facilitate world peace. Based on a play by West and directed by Ken Hughes (CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG). Oh, the horror! This necrophiliac "comedy" is a train wreck that you just can't tear your eyes away from. The 84 year old Mae West can barely walk and reputedly had to wear an earpiece because she couldn't hear and had to have her lines fed to her. Yet we're meant to believe that incredibly, she's so sexy every man is lusting after her. When the 28 year old Dalton woos the 84 year old West, it's downright creepy. The musical numbers look like they were hastily put together for a TV variety show. Yet you're riveted to the screen by the awfulness of it all. A sad swan song for one of cinema's great comediennes. With George Hamilton, Dom DeLuise, Walter Pidgeon, George Raft, Ringo Starr, Alice Cooper, Keith Moon, Rona Barrett and Regis Philbin.
A British ex-safecracker (Ray Winstone) is enjoying his retirement in Spain with his wife (Amanda Redman). When a psychopathic gangster (Ben Kingsley) from his past shows up with a request that he do one more job, he refuses. But the thug won't take no for an answer. Directed by Jonathan Glazer (BIRTH) in his feature film debut. This is an entertaining and well crafted crime film that didn't quite satisfy me although I did appreciate it. It's intense, well acted and Glazer keeps you unsettled. But Ben Kingsley's highly praised performance is a perfect example of why the movie left me unsatisfied. Kingsley's psycho is highly amusing at first but he becomes tiresome very quickly and that's the film's problem. It doesn't know when enough is enough. Fortunately, Winstone in a less flashy role anchors the film with a solid performance. But more importantly, I wasn't bored and the film kept me focused as it zipped toward its conclusion. With James Fox, Ian McShane, Julianne White and Cavan Kendall.
A woman (Patricia Morison) travels to India in an attempt to locate her fiance (Bruce Edwards) who disappeared while on a safari. With the help of a guide (Robert Lowery), she and her party travel into the depths of the African jungle where a tribe of Amazon women reputedly reside ..... and they don't like strangers! Directed by Edward Finney, this B (or is it C?) bottom half programmer is terribly inept. It's a stagebound Africa crammed with stock footage from other films of the real Africa and a narrator who must fill in the storyline because the film makers were too cheap to shoot the scenes. It's the kind of movie that sent the enormously talented Patricia Morison (toiling in Hollywood for several years) out of Hollywood and to the Broadway stage where she would find great success. I wish I could say it's silly fun but it's just silly. With J. Edward Bromberg, John Miljan and Amira Moustafa as the queen of the title.
In 1904, when a young child (boy soprano Chet Allen) runs away with his dog from a harsh orphanage, he's picked up by a "doctor" (Dan Dailey) and his assistant (Scatman Crothers) who sell tonic in their traveling medicine show. An attractive activist (Diana Lynn) insists the boy be returned but the Doc and boy have bonded. Based on the novel THE GREAT COMPANIONS by Gene Markey and directed by Douglas Sirk. This one is a real charmer that somehow doesn't sink into a morass of sentimentality given its plotline. Although it's categorized as a musical, it seems more like a heartwarming drama with musical interludes. The songs are inoffensive (that is, if you don't count Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey done in blackface) and it's colorful although in the print I saw the Technicolor was terribly faded. It's a film in need of some major restoration work but being minor Sirk, I don't see it happening anytime soon. With Hugh O'Brian (playing a rather nerdy and timid character instead of the tough guy for a change), Carole Mathews and Rhys Williams.
In a seemingly perfect upper middle class Southern California suburban neighborhood, the local teenage drug dealer (Josh Janowicz) commits suicide. His body is discovered by his best friend (Jamie Bell), who is traumatized by the incident. But his suicide spawns a child's (Thomas Curtis) kidnapping that no one seems to care about. Directed by Arie Posin, this black comedy is unique in its dark vision of an apathetic community where the parents are directly responsible for the child monsters they've created. It's not a realistic movie by any means. The deck is stacked against the parents, there's not even one adult with a lick of sense and the teenagers are a numb and shallow drug taking bunch. It's an ensemble piece with unappealing multiple characters but I could only relate to two of them: Glenn Close's raging and grieving mother who realizes her unintentional complicity in her son's suicide and Jamie Bell's teenager who closes himself off from the horror by not feeling anything. Not perfect but I admire its audacious tenacity. The large ensemble cast includes Ralph Fiennes, Allison Janney, John Heard, Rita Wilson, William Fichtner, Carrie Anne Moss, Rory Culkin, Camilla Belle and Lauren Holly.
An ex-WWII pilot (Zachary Scott), who suffers from blackouts, discovers that a friend and fellow pilot (Robert Beatty) is smuggling counterfeit money from England to France. When his friend's plane crashes in the English channel, he suspects it wasn't an accident and takes it upon himself to discover the truth. Based on the novel by Trevor Dudley Smith and directed by Terence Fisher (BRIDES OF DRACULA). All during this predictable crime thriller, I kept waiting for some surprises or at least a final twist out of the ordinary but it never happened. It dutifully went through its paces until exhausted, it comes to an end. The most enjoyable character was Kay Kendall's calculating femme fatale, a role quite different than the comedic roles that made her a star. Unfortunately, her screen time is limited and the dull Naomi Chance is the film's female lead. The score is by Malcolm Arnold (BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI). With Diane Cilento, Colin Tapley, Harold Lang and Arthur Lane.
An innocent man (Lionel Barrymore) convicted of a murder he did not commit escapes from Devil's Island with another inmate (Henry B. Walthall). His plan to exact revenge on the men who were responsible for his incarceration takes a twist when he discovers that his fellow escapee is a scientist with the knowledge to shrink humans to miniature size and control their actions. Based on the novel BURN WITCH BURN (not to be confused with the 1962 film) by Abraham Merritt and directed by Tod Browning, who co-wrote the script with three others including Erich von Stroheim. While perhaps the horror elements are not as strong here as they were in Browning's DRACULA (1931) and FREAKS (1932), nevertheless for most of its running time it's a fascinating piece of macabre cinema. Barrymore spends most of the movie in drag as he disguises himself as an old lady and the movie doesn't pass moral judgment on him as he pursues his dark path to vengeance nor is he punished. The special effects aren't cutting edge (for its day) but they're good. With Maureen O'Sullivan, Frank Lawton (who seems to be channeling Ronald Colman), Rafaela Ottiano and Lucy Beaumont.
A down and out American (Dane Clark) in London meets a beautiful blonde (Belinda Lee) who proceeds to offer him money to marry her. He agrees but he wakes up the next day with blood on his clothes and the police on his tail for the murder of his father in law. Based on the novel by Helen Nielsen and directed by Terence Fisher (CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN). This minor Hammer programmer is a tight piece of British noir. With the exception of one rather sentimental and stagnant scene where the protagonist is reunited with his estranged mother (Nora Gordon), the movie is a surprisingly effective crime drama and its denouement isn't telegraphed. The film keeps you on your cinematic toes and you're never quite sure who to trust. While Belinda Lee makes for a seductive femme fatale, I was hoping the film's nice girl (Eleanor Summerfield) would end up with the film's hero. With Cleo Laine, Betty Ann Davies, Andrew Osborn and Harold Lang.
When a Madison Avenue advertising executive (Doris Day) finds out her rival (Rock Hudson), who she's never met, at another ad agency is stealing clients by supplying them with girls and alcohol, she attempts to bring him before the Ad Council for discipline. In retaliation, he pretends to be a prospective client with the intention to seduce her. Directed by Delbert Mann (MARTY), this stays close to the successful formula of the previous Hudson/Day hit PILLOW TALK (1959). Once again, Hudson is a satyr who pretends to be someone else in order to get Day into his bed and damn if it doesn't work perfectly all over again. The sex farce plot may be familiar but the Oscar nominated screenplay pushes the sexual innuendos a little further and the expert playing of Day and Hudson make this a bubbly comic treat. Wisely, the third Hudson/Day collaboration realized it had milked this cow for it was worth and went the domestic sitcom route with their next, SEND ME NO FLOWERS. With Tony Randall, Edie Adams, Jack Kruschen, Jack Albertson, Donna Douglas and Ann B. Davis.
In 1929, a wealthy socialite (Doris Day) wants to invest in a Broadway show where she's been offered the lead role. But her Uncle (S.Z. Sakall) has lost all her money in the recent stock market crash. So he bets his niece that if she says no to everything and not yes for 48 hours then he'll give her the money even though the money isn't there! Very loosely based on the 1925 musical NO NO NANETTE and directed by David Butler (CALAMITY JANE). This breezy musical may lack the sophistication of the MGM musicals being turned out by the Freed unit at MGM during the same time but it's a charming romp in spite of its rather silly premise. But who watches something like this for logical sense? We get some great songs (Tea For Two, Crazy Rhythm, I Want To Be Happy), good choreography (courtesy of LeRoy Prinz), Technicolor, laughs (provided by Sakall and Eve Arden) and best of all, Doris Day! This provides us a chance to see her dancing abilities for the first time on screen. With Gene Nelson, Patrice Wymore, Virginia Gibson, Billy De Wolfe and Bill Goodwin.
A British secret agent (Madeleine Carroll) is on the run from some enemy agents after the secret plans in her possession. She enlists the help of a reluctant vaudeville performer (Bob Hope) who has a penguin act and the two proceed to a mad cross country dash from New York to California with the enemy agents in hot pursuit. Directed by Sidney Lanfield (HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES), this isn't one of Bob Hope's most memorable comedies but it's a pleasant diversion. The lovely Madeleine Carroll makes for a decent straight "man" to Hope's quips but the wonderful Gale Sondergaard is so shockingly wasted I wonder if her part was cut down in the editing room. But it moves rapidly at a quick hour and 18 minutes without any unnecessary padding. With George Zucco and Dooley Wilson and a cameo by Bing Crosby (so quick you might miss it).
As the ominous clouds of war hover over 1939 Paris, a group of friends enjoying each other's company at a cafe promise to meet at the same cafe after the war is over. They include two Americans (George Peppard, Sam Wanamaker), a Frenchman (George Hamilton), a German (Horst Buchholz), an Englishman (Jean Pierre Cassel) and a French girl (Anny Duperey). But the devastation and horror of WWII ensures that not all of them will survive it. Directed by Umberto Lenzi, this Italian/French co-production is hampered by cramming in all of WWII into a two hour time period. What we get seems like sketches rather than a fully detailed narrative and it all seems so rushed. With one exception, the performances are decent. The exception is George Hamilton whose French accent is poor and he's not convincing as a rough and tough solider. My viewing was compromised. The movie was shot in a wide screen 2.35 scope format but the print I saw was cropped to 1.85 thus giving a cramped look to the visuals. In spite of that, I quite enjoyed it. The score is by Riz Ortolani. With Capucine (very good as the widow of a Jew which the Nazis use against her), Raymond Lovelock, Andre Lawrence and May Heatherly.
Fascinated by humans, an alien (Jerry Lewis) from another galaxy visits Earth against the orders of his superiors. But the more he learns about human beings, the less infatuated he becomes. Very loosely based on the play by Gore Vidal (in turn based on a TV play he wrote) and directed by Norman Taurog (BLUE HAWAII). This is one of Lewis's lesser vehicles and least funny. Vidal's play had a more serious subtext (man's fascination with war, fear of communism) but all that has been jettisoned in favor of a fish out of water comedy and a weak one at that. The film's one highlight is a visit to a beatnik hangout where Lewis is let out of the straight jacket the movie forces on him and is allowed to display a wee bit of his comic genius. If you were a fan of the TV show MY FAVORITE MARTIAN, then you might find it to your taste. Otherwise, it's for Jerry fans only. With Earl Holliman, Joan Blackman, Fred Clark, Lee Patrick, Gale Gordon, Ellen Corby and Barbara Lawson.
When an elegant and stylish con woman (Anne Hathaway) encounters a brash and uncouth hustler (Rebel Wilson), she reluctantly takes her under her wing to teach her the ways of the business. But when they decide that the town isn't big enough for the two of them, they make a bet on hustling a naive but wealthy young man (Alex Sharp) and the loser will leave town. A remake of the 1988 DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS (itself a remake of the 1964 BEDTIME STORY) but with the genders reversed. Directed by Chris Addison, this is a dud. What it has going for it is Anne Hathaway and the glamorous locale. It was pleasant to see Hathaway in beautiful clothes amid the luxurious villas, hotels, beaches and casinos of the French Riviera but that does not a comedy make. I find Rebel Wilson unappealing as a comedienne. She's like a junior grade Melissa McCarthy but without the talent. There are some laughs to be had but they are few and far between. After the disastrous SERENITY and now this, Hathaway really needs to pick her roles more carefully. Best to stick with the 1988 version. With Tim Blake Nelson and Ingrid Oliver.
A renowned Paris plastic surgeon (Cary Grant) becomes romantically entangled with one of his married clients (Genevieve Tobin). When her husband (Edward Everett Horton) names him as a co-respondent in the divorce, he marries her which he will soon regret. Based on the play KOZMETIKA by Istvan Bekeffy and directed by Harlan Thompson. This minor diversion plays out like a faux Lubitsch or Rene Clair romantic farce with songs but without the style or wit. This being early in his career, Grant isn't quite Cary Grant yet and he's rather wooden and his singing is painful. The musical highlight is a duet between Horton and Helen Mack as Grant's lovelorn secretary singing Corn Beef And Cabbage I Love You! Still, at a brief running time of one hour and ten minutes, it's a painless watch. With Lucien Littlefield, Mona Maris and Julie Bishop.
Two British WWII veterans (Alec Guinness, Leo McKern) meet an American veteran (John Randolph) when they make a pilgrimage to Normandy on the 50th anniversary of D Day. But they aren't alone. Others include the American's daughter (Geraldine Chaplin) and son in law (Edward Herrmann), a war widow (Lauren Bacall) and a former French prostitute (Jeanne Moreau). Directed by Charles Sturridge (BRIDESHEAD REVISITED), this starts out in what seems to be yet another "grumpy old men" comedy but it isn't long before it plunges into deeper depths and we discover what it's really about. The lingering after effects that war has on those who lived through it that can never be erased. Its dream cast are all in top form balancing humor and pathos in equal measures. This was a pet project of Guinness but it's not his show, it's an ensemble piece where everyone gets their chance to shine. It takes a bit to get its rhythm going but hang in there and you'll be amply rewarded.
Set in Chicago, when a drug bust goes horribly wrong, the surviving cop (Burt Reynolds) on the case is fired. The only witness who can identify the mass murderer is a call girl (Liza Minnelli). After she barely survives an attempt on her life by the killer (James Remar), she contacts the disgraced cop to protect her and ferret out the killer. Directed by Jerry London (SHOGUN), the film was universally reviled upon its original release. It's a sloppily put together pulpy potboiler to be sure but I enjoyed it in the way you can often enjoy a bad movie but mercifully, it never crosses over into the dreaded "camp". Reynolds looks tired and doesn't even try which leaves it up to Minnelli (looking terrific in her Moss Mabry costumes) to pick up the ball which she does. Although set in Chicago, the film was actually shot in Rome with only the film's exteriors shot in Chicago. There's a nice score by Jerry Goldsmith that propels the movie along. With Dionne Warwick, Robby Benson, Richard Masur, Bernie Casey
After being fired from her job as a switchboard operator, a young woman (Lucille Ball) decides to try her hand as a Fuller Brush girl. Little did she know that the job would involve her as a suspect in a double murder case. Directed by Lloyd Bacon from an original screenplay by Frank Tashlin. Although Frank Tashlin wouldn't make his feature film directorial debut until two years later, his fingerprints are all over this film. The visual gags, which are the best part of the movie, are pure Tashlin. Ball displays her gifts as a physical comedienne and the film almost seems like a dry run for her I LOVE LUCY series which would debut the following year. There are several laugh out loud moments: the bridge party with the ladies getting home permanents, Ball disguising herself as a burlesque stripper but nothing can save the standard chase finale. Unfortunately, Eddie Albert as Ball's fiance doesn't have her aptitude for physical comedy which leaves Ball to carry the picture. With Red Skelton, Gale Robbins, Carl Benton Reid, Jerome Cowan, Jeff Donnell and Lee Patrick.
Now married, Antoine Doinel (Jean Pierre Leaud) hasn't really matured and finds himself floundering in his marriage and unable to hold down a job. Directed by Francois Truffaut, this is the fourth entry in his Antoine Doinel films which began in 1959 with THE 400 BLOWS and ended in LOVE ON THE RUN. I honestly don't know why I have a great affection for this film since it's quite superficial and while it shares the name of the young boy (and played by the same actor) in his masterful THE 400 BLOWS, it seems somehow inconceivable that one could grow into the other. That aside, this film has no plot to speak of but is a series of incidents as the young Doinel finds himself being absorbed into the bourgeoisie that he once despised but I found it extremely winning. The lovely Claude Jade as Doinel's wife takes over the movie here. She's the character I really cared about and you begin to wonder if she doesn't deserve better than Leaud's Doinel. By the time of 1979's LOVE ON THE RUN, they're divorced. I saw the film several times during its original release and I'm as captivated by it now as I was then but I've long ago given up trying to analyze its appeal to me despite its obvious flaws. With Daniel Ceccaldi, Claire Duhamel, Hiroko Berghauer, Daniel Boulanger, Barbara Laage and Silvana Blasi.
A fragile and emotionally distraught girl (Marisol) lives with her young stepmother (Jean Seberg) in the Spanish countryside. Meanwhile, a serial killer terrorizes the area. Directed by Juan Antonio Bardem (DEATH OF A CYCLIST), this Spanish giallo is an atypical film for him and sadly, he doesn't have a feel for the genre. The film seems schizophrenic. Half of the film is a graphic bloody giallo type movie with a serial killer, the other half is a psychological drama about two women (Seberg, Marisol) living alone and both either fearful of or bitter about the male sex when a young man (Barry Stokes) invades their space and causes friction between them (not unlike THE FOX). The film attempts to lead us astray about the identity of the killer but the red herring is so obvious that we don't buy it. One of the characters is so unappealing that I was relieved when he was brutally murdered. The U.S. cut also has an unsatisfactory ending which suggests a murder will be punished while the Spanish cut is much more ambiguous about the result. There's a rather lovely score by Waldo De Los Rios but a movie like this screams out for Ennio Morricone like suspense chords. Not quite but an interesting try. With Perla Cristal and Rudy Gaebel.
A British Army veteran (Dennis Price) pretends to be a writer while staying at an unfashionable ski lodge in the Italian Alps at the request of his former commanding officer (Robert Newton). He's unsure why he's supposed to be there other than perhaps to keep an eye on a Contessa (Mila Parely) but the real reason involves gold hidden by the Nazis during the waning days of WWII. Based on the novel THE LONELY SKIER by Hammond Innes and directed by David MacDonald. I enjoyed this engaging thriller for the most part until its disappointing conclusion which seemed arbitrary and a bit of a cheat. It's a pity that the film's budget didn't allow for Technicolor because the snowbound alpine locations are quite attractive although Stephen Dade's (ZULU) B&W cinematography is well done. A nice assortment of disparate characters well played by character actors contributes to the film's sense of mystery. With Herbert Lom, Marcel Dalio, Stanley Holloway, Zena Marshall and Guy Middleton.
A newspaper woman (Barbara Stanwyck) from San Francisco falls in love with a policeman (Sterling Hayden) in Los Angeles. A hasty marriage occurs but it isn't long before she's bored with being a housewife and becomes dissatisfied with her husband's lack of ambition. So, she takes matters into her own hands with tragic results. Directed by Gerd Oswald (A KISS BEFORE DYING), this is a nifty little noir-ish melodrama with Stanwyck playing a contemporary Lady MacBeth. But she's not entirely unsympathetic. Stuck in 1950s suburbia amid chattering housewives raving about the cream cheese and olive dip and dissecting daytime soap operas while the husbands drink and play poker, who wouldn't go homicidal? Raymond Burr is quite good as the police inspector who sees through Stanwyck's machinations. Solid stuff with a sympathetic feminist bent. The B&W cinematography is handled by Joseph LaShelle (LAURA) and there's a suitably intense score by Paul Dunlap. With Fay Wray, Stuart Whitman, Virginia Grey, Royal Dano and Jay Adler.
As Europe teeters on the brink of war, a group of foreign saboteurs hatch a plot to blow up the French fleet and blame it on the British in the hopes of setting them against each other. The renowned Japanese secret agent Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre) devises his own trap to ferret out the conspirators. Based on the character created by John P. Marquand in a series of novels and directed by Norman Foster (JOURNEY INTO FEAR). This was the sixth film in the eight movie 20th Century Fox Mr. Moto franchise. The Mr. Moto series is more action oriented (Moto does jujitsu) than the similar Charlie Chan franchise which are traditional mysteries. This effort is quite enjoyable if you're partial to the series (as I am). The pacing is swift and moves along quickly so that you don't have enough time to be bored. With George Sanders, Ricardo Cortez, Robert Coote, John Carradine, Virginia Field and Margaret Irving.
Set in Paris, the young daughter (Audrey Hepburn) of a private detective (Maurice Chevalier) becomes personally involved with one of his cases when a cuckolded husband (John McGiver) threatens to shoot his wife's (Lise Bourdin) lover (Gary Cooper). Based on the novel ARIANE, JEUNE FILLE RUSSE by Claude Anet and directed by Billy Wilder, this film would seem to have everything going for it. Three top stars, Wilder at the helm and the city of Paris as the backdrop. But while often charming, the lack of chemistry between the aging Cooper (one isn't sure if he looks ill or debauched) and the fresh faced Hepburn prevents the movie from accomplishing its goal. Namely, an airy and light souffle of a romantic comedy. Reputedly, Yul Brynner was Wilder's first choice (along with Cary Grant) and I don't know if the chemistry would be any better but at least he was age appropriate. It's not a bad movie by any means and for fans of the divine Audrey, there's much to appreciate but it's simply a disappointment overall. In fact, I much prefer a similar film from 1958, Stanley Donen's INDISCREET with Grant and Ingrid Bergman which gets it right.
An aging and vain actor (Donald Sinden) is planning a theatrical tour of Africa. But his plans take a backseat as his wife (Dinah Sheridan), secretary (Gwen Watford), lovers (Elizabeth Counsell, Belinda Lang), friends (Ian Gardiner, Michael Fleming), crazed fans (Julian Fellowes) and servants (Colin Spaull, Sheila Mitchell) collectively turn his life upside down. Based on the 1942 play by Noel Coward and directed by Rick Gardner and Alan Strachan. This is literally a filmed play as it was filmed before a live audience during the play's 1981 West End revival. Therefore, the acting is extremely broad as the actors play to the balcony. It's one of Coward's best plays but Sinden playing a hammy actor who overacts overacts the overacting! He's not remotely human and while his performance on the stage may well work, on film it's downright grotesque. But nothing is more grotesque than Julian Fellowes' hysterical performance as a stalking fan. It's supposed to be amusing (the audience lapped it up, giving him applause several times) but again, the camera magnifies something already exaggerated into a distortion. It's a witty play properly done, I just would love to have seen it recreated in a studio.
Set in 1964, a 14 year old girl (Dakota Fanning) runs away from her abusive father (Paul Bettany) accompanied by a black housekeeper (Jennifer Hudson) recently assaulted by a group of white men when she attempted to register to vote. They find refuge in the home of three sisters (Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo) who own a bee farm that produces honey. Based on the novel by Sue Monk Kidd and directed by Gina Prince Blythewood. There are those who find this film on the maudlin side but I found it warm and sincere. Anytime you deal with the subject of love and the messiness of its aftermath as well as its healing power, you're bound to find those who want something less lachrymose and more multifaceted. Yes, it tends to be simplistic in its message and perhaps painted in broad strokes but that doesn't make it any the less powerful. The five central performances are diverse and powerful, each character with their own distinct identity and place in the world. With Tristan Wilds and Hilarie Burton.
After her scientist husband (Richard Roberts) is killed before he can expose a corrupt billionaire, his widow (Sophia Loren) suggests to the Justice department that they secure the services of her ex-lover, a retired bounty hunter (James Coburn) to kidnap the reclusive billionaire who lives in the Caribbean. Directed by Michael Winner (DEATH WISH), this typical 1970s action flick has a glamorous Caribbean setting (St. Lucia, Curacao, Antigua) and lots of gunfire, explosions and a noisy jazz score by Gato Barbieri (LAST TANGO IN PARIS). So you get your money's worth there but you're cheated in the script department. The mundane dialogue and stale plot often make this a rather tiresome affair. The biggest (unintentional) laugh comes when O.J. Simpson snaps at Coburn, "Hey, I don't kill people!". Loren is gorgeous but she's too good for this kind of potboiler. With Victor Mature, Eli Wallach, Anthony Franciosa, Vincent Gardenia, George Grizzard and Billy Barty.
An ex-Confederate captain (John Payne), who is a lawyer, travels to the Texas town of El Paso where he reunites with an old flame (Gail Russell). He debates settling down in the town and marrying his former sweetheart but the corruption of the town's sheriff (Dick Foran) and thuggish ways of the town's landowner (Sterling Hayden) force his hand and it's not long before he turns his back on the law. Directed by Lewis R. Foster, this is a forgettable western. Despite its attractive cast, the film is all surface with neither the entertainment value of a good western nor the irony and ambiguities that a Budd Boetticher could have brought to a western like this. The film was shot in the Cinecolor process and the print I watched (although advertised as a new restoration) was pretty ragged looking which does a disservice to Ellis W. Carter's (INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN) New Mexico location shooting. With Gabby Hayes, Mary Beth Hughes, Henry Hull and H.B. Warner.
An elderly retired physicist (Judi Dench) is arrested as a spy for the Soviet Union. The film alternates between her interrogation by government authorities and her backstory which dates back to her Cambridge days in the late 1930s. Based on the novel by Jennie Rooney which was inspired by the true story of Melita Norwood, known as the "granny spy" and directed by Trevor Nunn. While not quite as bad as its reviews would lead you to believe, it's still a pretty dreary piece of movie making. It's the kind of stuff you can see on PBS (not a slam against PBS) readily. Despite her star billing, Dench gets minimal screen time and the focus is on her "spy" years where her character is played by Sophie Cookson so Dench fans might feel cheated. I was irritated by the lame justifications for her reasons for betraying her country ("I wanted a level playing field") and the film seems to be agreeing with her that that was enough and she shouldn't be judged. The real Norwood was never prosecuted because of her age. You'd think a more compelling movie could be made out of a situation like this but I had a hard time keeping my eyes open (and I wasn't even sleepy). With Tom Hughes, Tereza Srbova and Ben Miles.
A feral cat ties three stories together: 1) a man (James Woods) signs up with an organization that helps people quit smoking but he didn't expect it to be so deadly. 2) a crime boss (Kenneth McMillan) makes a bet with his wife's lover (Robert Hays, AIRPLANE) which consists of walking on the ledge of his penthouse apartment. 3) a little girl (Drew Barrymore) is terrorized by an ugly troll who lives in the wall of her bedroom. The first two are based on short stories from NIGHT SHIFT by Stephen King and the third is an original written for the movie by King. Directed by Lewis Teague (CUJO). All three are entertaining although the first one is really too far fetched to take very seriously. None of them are long enough to wear out their welcome but no surprise, they save the best for last and the final segment is a minor treat. The acting is okay except for the cat who gives a sensational performance. The cinematography is by the great Jack Cardiff (BLACK NARCISSUS). The only irritant is an annoying synthesizer score by Alan Silvestri. With Alan King, Candy Clark, James Naughton and James Rebhorn.
Approaching 40 and in a failing relationship, a woman (Romy Schneider) decides to terminate her pregnancy. The film follows her journey until the film ends when, still unmarried, she is pregnant again but this time, she decides to keep the child. Directed by Claude Sautet (LES CHOSES DE LA VIE), this Oscar nominated movie (best foreign language film) is aptly named. There is no plot to speak of, not really. The film follows the evolution of a middle aged woman who perhaps defines herself through her relationships with men. At the film's outset, she terminates a pregnancy because her relationship isn't working but by the film's end, she realizes she doesn't need a male (she lives with a female friend) and is capable of bringing up a child by herself with the help of her friend. That's a gross simplification, there's more to her journey's end than that (an affair with her ex-husband, a friend's suicide etc.) but these are incidents that collectively mature her as a woman. Schneider won the Cesar (the French Oscar) for her performance here and she's superb. I liked the minimalist Philippe Sarde underscore. With Bruno Cremer, Claude Brasseur, Roger Pigaut, Arlette Bonnard and Eva Darian.
A British police detective (Douglas Wilmer) is on holiday in Budapest, Hungary with his three children (Jess Conrad, Lorraine Power, Denis Gilmore). While he is attending an international convention of criminal investigators, his children get involved in their own adventure when two art thieves (George Sanders, Buddy Hackett) steal a priceless gold bust from a cathedral. Loosely based on the novel NEPOMUK OF THE RIVER by Roger Windle Pilkington and directed by Richard Thorpe (KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE). The last film designed to be shown in the Cinerama format, it was never released in the U.S. and only briefly in Europe. With a couple of light sexual innuendos removed, it could easily pass as one of those live action Walt Disney capers from the 1960s, it's that family friendly. It's a piffle really and slightly overblown with its roadshow trimmings (overture, intermission, entr'acte, exit music). This being Cinerama, much of the film serves as a travelogue of Hungary and we even get performances by the Hungarian Opera Ballet and the Hungarian Folk Dancers troupe. It's not until the movie's chase finale does the film take advantage of the depth of the Cinerama process. The unusual teaming of Sanders and Hackett have them channeling Abbott and Costello! Mildly entertaining and gorgeous to watch. With Cecilia Esztergalyos and Robert Coote.