Convinced that his live in girlfriend (Jennifer Beals) is having an affair, a film projectionist (James Le Gros) begins to damage the relationship with his obsessiveness. His co-worker (Drew Barrymore), who's secretly in love with him, takes advantage of the situation by playing Iago to his Othello. Written and directed by Adam Park, this is his only film as a director. This dark romantic comedy isn't your usual romcom. It's mostly about the pain of being in love rather than the joy. But I enjoyed its rather bleak observations. Park shows the same story from the three different viewpoints of his three main characters, indulges in fantasy sequences where the protagonists are characters in a movie and the film is shot in both color and B&W. The film's ambiguous ending suggests that we end up with the right people for us. The film wasn't a hit and I can see why. Not that it isn't good, I think it is but when people leave a romcom they want to feel good and this one takes the edge off that. With Jon Stewart as the fourth member of this quadrangle and Eric Thal.
When a playgirl (Francesca Annis) is brutally murdered, the police detective (James Booth) assigned to the case finds himself in the world of international stamp collectors including the murder victim's identical twin sister (Francesca Annis). Directed by cinematographer (THE RED SHOES) turned director (SONS AND LOVERS) Jack Cardiff. A rather dreary murder mystery finally kicks in during its last half hour or so but not enough to save it. The film feels like an old fashioned 1940s murder mystery gussied up with 1970s trimmings (car chases, violence, nudity). To the film's credit, I thought I had figured out whodunit but although I was on the right track, I was wrong so I'll give the screenplay props for stumping me. There's a lot of unnecessary padding to stretch it out to a running time of 90 minutes. Edited down to an hour, it might have made a satisfactory episode for something like THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR or KOJAK. With Nicky Henson, Joss Ackland, Penelope Keith and Marianne Stone.
When a beautiful model (Jean Peters) is murdered, a police detective (Richard Boone) obsessed with her tries to pin the murder on her publicity agent (Elliott Reid). Based on the novel I WAKE UP SCREAMING by Steve Fisher (previously filmed in 1941) and directed by Harry Horner (RED PLANET MARS). As far as remakes go, casting issues aside, this is a pretty decent remake. The police don't come off looking very good here as they are portrayed as bullies as they harass and abuse their victims without giving them access to lawyers. Specifically, Boone's near psychotic cop who breaks into people's apartments while they sleep to harass them. The bland Elliott Reid compromises the film as he's a hole on the screen. Often okay as a supporting actor, he's a washout as a leading man. Jeanne Crain as the murdered girl's sister is fetching but it's Jean Peters' ambitious and ungrateful model who holds the screen. With Carl Betz, Max Showalter, Alexander D'Arcy, John Dehner and Aaron Spelling.
A girl child (Mia Quinley, who grows into Daisy Ridley) is taken under the wing of the Queen (Naomi Watts) and made a lady in waiting. She attracts the eye of the Queen's son Hamlet (George MacKay) and soon finds herself privy to intrigue and tragedy. Based on the novel by Lisa Klein and directed by Claire McCarthy. This revisionist take on Shakespeare's HAMLET puts Ophelia center stage and the tale is told from her point of view. But if you're re-imagining one of the greatest works in literature, you'd better come up with something great. What Klein (though to be fair I haven't read her novel) and the film makers come up with is merely interesting and ambitious. It works for the most part before falling apart in the film's last third where they rewrite Shakespeare to the point of ludicrous. It's almost enough to ruin the movie but the first 2/3 are so good that the good will it engenders made me give it a pass. The film's major problem for me was Clive Owen as Claudius who, unlike Shakespeare's play, is turned into a raving villain. I'd chalk it up to an interesting failure and I appreciated what they were trying to do but Shakespeare purists might want to avoid. The underscore by Steven Price (an Oscar winner for his score to GRAVITY) is the best film score I've heard so far this year. With Tom Felton and Dominic Mafham.
An aimless young woman (Brigitte Bardot) is on trial for the murder of her lover (Sami Frey). The prosecuting attorney (Paul Meurisse) portrays her as a narcissistic cold blooded murderess while the defense (Charles Vanel) portrays the killing as a crime of passion after she had been pushed over the edge. Directed by Henri Georges Clouzot (DIABOLIQUE), this courtroom drama alternates between the actual trial and flashbacks to the events leading up to the murder. It's an intense experience with a career best performance by Bardot, who up until this had been used for her sex appeal rather than her acting in cinema. The film was a huge hit in France and was nominated for a best foreign language film Oscar. It holds up quite well with our emotions conflicted between the seemingly selfish girl living in the moment yet oddly sympathetic in her desperate quest for love. It would make a good double bill with STORY OF ADELE H. There's also a disturbing subtext of how the two opposing attorneys treat the trial like a tennis court with each out to "get" points and the girl on trial seems almost superfluous to them and this is borne out in the film's icy ending. With Marie Jose Nat, Andre Oumansky and Claude Berri.
Set in 19th century England, a French geography professor (Maurice Chevalier at his most annoying) and two children (Hayley Mills, Keith Hamshere) approach a shipping magnate (Wilfrid Hyde White) about funding an expedition to search for their missing father (Jack Gwillim) who went down with one of the magnate's ships. Based on the novel CAPTAIN GRANT'S CHILDREN by Jules Verne and directed by Robert Stevenson (MARY POPPINS). The first time Disney adapted a Verne novel was 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA which turned out to be a pretty impressive film. Unlike that film, this Verne adaptation is Disneyfied to appeal to a more adolescent crowd. The humor is often too "cutesy" and four songs by The Sherman Brothers are sung for no reason (this isn't a musical). The special effects (which include an earthquake and a flood) are rather primitive. It's harmless enough but there's no sense of wonder or awe that you get in other Verne film adaptations like MYSTERIOUS ISLAND or JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH. The film was a big hit and I have a nostalgic affection for it from my childhood but it's a weak film. With George Sanders, Michael Anderson Jr. and Ronald Fraser.
In a Colorado national park, a young boy (Peter J. Votrian) is kidnapped and his kidnapper (Ralph Meeker) extorts $200,000 from the boy's father (Willis Bouchey). The father pays the ransom but when the kidnapper is caught, he refuses to say what happened to the boy (we never see him again) or where the money is hidden. He's sent to prison which he finds more of a danger than the outside world. Directed by Howard W. Koch (GIRL IN BLACK STOCKINGS), this is one of those little B movies that turn out to be a nifty noir-ish thriller. I was expecting the usual prison movie with all the cliches but this intense programmer has a lot going for it. Shot mostly on location rather than a studio, it's filmed in a semi documentary style with Reed Hadley narrating as an FBI agent on the case. It's a brutal film by 1950s standards (children killed, heads bashed in, bodies burned etc.) and Broderick Crawford as one cold hearted bastard that kills you after you've served your purpose. There's a fine supporting cast: Charles Bronson (who spends the entire movie with his shirt off), Felicia Farr whose nurse seems an unimportant character at first but turns out to be very important to the plot, William Talman, Lon Chaney Jr. and Roy Roberts.
After a botched robbery at a casino, a career criminal (Paul Henreid) stumbles upon a psychiatrist (Paul Henreid) who is his exact double with one notable exception. The doctor has a prominent scar on his face. He conceives a plan to kill the doctor and take his place but taking on someone else's identity brings on a whole new set of problems. Based on the novel by Murray Forbes and directed by Steve Sekely (DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS). This nifty little noir has its share of admirers. An extreme suspension of belief is required for the movie to work but if you can do that, its farfetched (if contrived) plot provides an absorbing viewing experience. Henreid, not exactly the most dynamic of actors, gives what may be his best performance but alas, Joan Bennett as the film's tough talking romantic interest isn't given much to do. The atmospheric cinematography is by noir expert John Alton (SLIGHTLY SCARLET) and there's a suitably moody underscore by Sol Kaplan. With Eduard Franz, John Qualen, Leslie Brooks, Jack Webb and Norma Varden.
A white plantation owner (Holly Hunter) learns that a Cajun farmer (Richard Whaley) has been shot and killed in an elderly black man's (Lou Gossett Jr.) front yard. The old man admits he killed the farmer but she enlists the aid of the other black elderly men in the area who all show up with shotguns. When the sheriff (Richard Widmark) shows up to arrest the perpetrator, all of the old black men and the girl claim to have shot the farmer. Based on the novel by Ernest J. Gaines and directed by Volker Schlondorff (THE TIN DRUM). I've not read the source material but I'm told it follows the novel very closely. Perhaps it works better on the page than on the screen. This is one talky movie as most of the film takes place in a front yard as all the characters go back and forth with their own stories and reasons. At first, with Hunter's character gathering all the black men to stand together it seems that this might be another "white savior" helping poor blacks movie but it's not. The novel's author is an African American and Hunter's character in spite of her good intentions is shown as not being that different than the slave owners of the previous century (she refers to them as "my people"). Foreign directors often bring a fresh perspective to views of America but in this case, Schlondorff seems more of a traffic cop than anything else. With Will Patton, Joe Seneca, Woody Strode, Julius Harris and Papa John Creach.
In 1900 Egypt, the tomb of a Pharaoh is uncovered. The brash American (Fred Clark) who funded the expedition insists on exploiting the Pharaoh's mummy by putting him on display on a tour of Europe then America rather than placed in a museum. Naturally, there's a curse which falls on all those associated with the desecration of the mummy's tomb. Directed by Michael Carreras (PREHISTORIC WOMEN), this is super slow going until the film's last half hour when things start happening. As you would expect from a Hammer film, the production design, art direction and costumes are excellent. Luckily the film dispenses with the usual backstory of the mummy coming back for some reincarnated Egyptian princess and give us a somewhat fresher story of a brother's revenge. Still, it's not what I'd call a memorable film. With Terence Morgan, Ronald Howard, Jeanne Roland, George Pastell, Jack Gwillim and Marianne Stone.
After 15 years in a mental asylum, a man (Adolphe Menjou) suddenly regains his sanity and returns to his home. But he finds things are quite different including a wife (Fay Bainter) who has divorced him and is getting married and a daughter (Maureen O'Hara) he barely knows. A remake of the 1932 film (notable for being Katharine Hepburn's film debut) by way of the 1921 play by Clemence Dane and directed by John Farrow (THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY). I wasn't a big fan of the 1932 version and this remake only accentuates the "icky" factor I felt the first time around. Self sacrifice can sometimes comes across as masochistic as it does here. Fortunately, the film allows Bainter's mother to not buckle under pressure and remain with a man she doesn't love and no longer knows and goes on to happiness with a new husband (Herbert Marshall) in spite of the guilt laid on her by Dame May Whitty's mean spirited religious aunt. With Patric Knowles and C. Aubrey Smith.
An American gambling kingpin (Dane Clark) living in London has a desire to be accepted into the upper strata of British high society. When he meets an attractive aristocrat (Naomi Chance), he sees his chance but gangsters and a scam bring him to his knees. Directed by Sam Newfield and Patrick Jenkins. This morality tale is your standard "thug falls in love with society dame which proves his undoing" melodrama. At a running time of one hour and 12 minutes, it's mercifully brief and gets it done without wearing out its welcome. But it never rises above a British B programmer with an American second tier "star" to give it some appeal in the States. It's no great shakes but it's harmless enough. With Kathleen Byron (BLACK NARCISSUS) as the nightclub dancer Clark ditches for the society dame, Martin Benson, Mona Washbourne, Eric Pohlmann and Anthony Forwood.
A porter (Brian Aherne) and an electrician (Cyril McLaglen) both fall in love with a shop girl (Elissa Landi) that they meet in the London underground station. When the shop girl shows a clear preference for the porter, the electrician involves the seamstress (Norah Baring) hopelessly in love with him in his plan to sabotage the relationship with eventual tragic results. Directed by Anthony Asquith (PYGMALION) in only his second film, this is a lovely romantic drama with basically only four characters although there are very minor characters through out, they're of not much importance. It's also a reminder of how visually arresting and fluid silent cinema was at this time before going stagnant in the very early stages of sound films. Much of the imagery is fresh and contemporary which elevates what might have been a simple romantic triangle gone wrong into a cinematic experience. The restored transfer I saw had a wonderful orchestral underscore by Neil Brand.
A small town with a population of 738 people suddenly finds itself under attack by zombies emerging from the local cemetery. The town's sheriff (Bill Murray) and his deputy (Adam Driver) find themselves ill prepared for the apocalypse that follows. Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch (ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE), lame pretty much sums up this zombie comedy! Jarmusch's screenplay is pretty straightforward but he has his actors deliver their lines in a flat near monotone with straight faces and assumes that's enough to get laughs. There was scattered laughter through out the theatre but it seemed forced as if they felt obligated to laugh ("Oh, this is supposed to be funny, I'd better laugh so that everyone knows I get it"). If this had been made back in 1957 with a B cast like Jeff Morrow, John Agar, Allison Hayes and Lon Chaney Jr. and played straight, it probably would have been more amusing than the condescension we get here. What we get are first rate talent slumming and it's not a pretty sight. With Tilda Swinton, Chloe Sevigny, Danny Glover, Steve Buscemi, Selena Gomez, Carol Kane, Tom Waits, Rosie Perez and Caleb Landry Jones.
A swarm of killer insects takes down a U.S. bomber and its crew over the coast of Japan. The plane was carrying a hydrogen bomb. While the U.S. military seems more interested in recovering their bomb, a Japanese scientist (Keisuke Sonoi) is more interested in destroying the killer insects before they destroy mankind. Directed by Kazui Nihonmatsu, this is a perfectly dreadful piece of sci-fi junk. With a relatively brief running time of one hour and 24 minutes, I was still constantly thinking, "When will this movie end?". The characters are cartoonish, the U.S. military is portrayed as outrageous villains (I can see the U.S. military portrayed as the bad guys in a film like this but they're positively laughable as opposed to realistic) and there's not an iota of tension or fright in the entire movie! It's just a dumb bad movie without the entertainment factor bad movies can sometimes have. The film also uses the Holocaust in a tacky manner to somehow make the film relevant. This stinker actually thinks it's making an important statement. Unclean! With Yusuke Kawazu, Emi Shindo, Kathy Horan and Reiko Hitomi.
An attorney (Raymond Burr) is in love with the wife (Angela Lansbury) of his best friend (Dick Foran). When she kills her husband in self defense, he defends her and gets her off. Then to his horror, he discovers that she killed her husband in cold blood to get his money. But the law says she can't be tried for the same crime twice, so he plots his own revenge. Directed by Peter Godfrey (CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT), this B programmer allows Burr and Lansbury to take center stage and play leading roles rather than the supporting roles (and usually as heavies) they normally played. The following year Burr would go on to TV fame playing another lawyer Perry Mason and Lansbury is quite effective as the manipulative femme fatale. As to the film itself, it's a serviceable potboiler made watchable by its two leads but don't expect any surprises as it marches to its predictable conclusion. With John Dehner, Denver Pyle, Madge Blake and as Lansbury's artist lover, Lamont Johnson who would go on to be a prolific director in film (LIPSTICK) and TV (That Certain Summer).
Set in 1967 just before the Arab-Israeli war in the North African country of Tunisia in the coastal town of La Goulette. Three teenage girls (Sonia Mankai, Sarah Pariente, Ava Cohen Jonathan) from three different religious backgrounds (Muslim, Catholic, Jewish) make a pact to lose their virginity before the summer is over. Directed by Ferid Boughedir, this is a very different "coming of age" story. The film's emphasis is on how a once tolerant country where everyone co-existed (relatively) peacefully sees intolerance emerge after Tunisia gets its independence from France. The rise of Islam caused most of its Jewish citizens to leave. It's a fascinating look at a culture rarely seen on western screens. The colorful and atmospheric city of La Goulette is lovingly shot by Robert Alazraki, its charm is offset by the bittersweet ending. With Claudia Cardinale (an actual La Goulette native), Gamil Ratib, Mustapha Adouani, Guy Nataf, Ivo Salerno and Fatima Ben Saidane.
A government official (Ray Bolger) mistakenly invites a chorus girl (Doris Day) to represent America at an art exhibition in Paris. The invitation was intended for Ethel Barrymore. But although engaged to another woman (Eve Miller), he finds himself attracted to the girl during their sea voyage to the continent. Directed by David Butler (CALAMITY JANE), this is one of Doris Day's weaker vehicles. Even her ebullience can't do much to give it some spark. It doesn't help that Ray Bolger is a wash out as a romantic leading man. His dancing is wonderful, those rubber legs are fantastic but when not dancing, his appeal is gone. As the Frenchman slobbering and singing about romance non stop, Claude Dauphin seems to have inherited a role that Maurice Chevalier probably turned down. Outside of the lovely title song, the songs are a dull lot. This is a film only a Day fan could love, so unless you're a Doris Day fan, you can safely skip it. With Paul Harvey and George Givot.
The news anchor (Kathleen Turner) of a satellite news network quits her job in order to marry a handsome millionaire (Christopher Reeve). But the head of the news department is also her ex-husband (Burt Reynolds) and he connives to have her to do one last story involving an execution. Based on the 1940 film HIS GIRL FRIDAY (with the gender switch intact) by way of THE FRONT PAGE, this is the fourth film version of the Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur play. Directed by Ted Kotcheff (FIRST BLOOD), this updates the newspaper background to the world of network television journalism. Considering they reputedly couldn't stand each other, Turner and Reynolds play off each other wonderfully. Alas, what's lost are the marvelous supporting characters that populated the 1940 Howard Hawks movie although the movie tries to have quirky supporting characters, it doesn't compare. As long as the film sticks to the original, it's fairly entertaining and at times, more than that. But some of the changes (like the roll top desk into a xerox machine) don't cut it. Still, it's superior to the dreadful 1974 Billy Wilder version. With Ned Beatty (just awful), Henry Gibson, Charles Kimbrough and George Newbern.
An Asian crime lord (Harold Sakata, GOLDFINGER) plots to drop a hydrogen bomb on Los Angeles. Racing against time, an American intelligence agent (an enervated Jeffrey Hunter) and a Chinese agent (France Nuyen) attempt to discover the bomb's location. Directed by Franklin Adreon (PANTHER GIRL OF THE KONGO), this is a rather silly preposterous thriller with sci-fi trappings. With the exception of Nuyen who's not bad, the rest of the acting is amateurish. Although it was released theatrically, it was originally intended as a TV movie which might explain the absence of sex in the film. The film features a device which allows its heroes to go back and forth in time. For example, when someone is assassinated, they can go back a few minutes in time to prevent the assassination. It's all unbelievable comic book nonsense of course but to the film's credit, dopey as its loopy plot and bad acting is, it's eminently watchable. With Donald Woods, Deanna Lund and Linda Ho.
An aspiring singer (Judy Garland) catches the eye of a self destructive alcoholic movie star (James Mason) who grooms her for movie stardom. They fall in love and marry but as her career rises, his self destructive behavior takes its toll on his career. Directed by George Cukor, this was the second version of the four film versions: the original 1937 film, the 1976 remake with Barbra Streisand and the 2018 film with Lady Gaga. It still stands as the best of the lot. No other film has completely captured Garland's massive talent as a singer and especially actress. Her performance is raw, vulnerable and ultimately heartbreaking and her rendition of The Man That Got Away remains a highpoint in film musicals. But she's matched every step of the way by a superb performance by James Mason. Whether quivering with self loathing or looking at his wife with unadulterated love, Mason comes this close to taking the picture away from Garland. Cukor and his cinematographer Sam Leavitt (ANATOMY OF A MURDER) make excellent use of the CinemaScope frame. Without Cukor's input, Warners cut the film down from its original running time of 3 hours and 2 minutes to 2 hours and 34 minutes. The film has since been restored to a 2 hour and 56 minute running time but still missing 6 minutes. With Charles Bickford, Jack Carson, Tommy Noonan, Lucy Marlow and Joan Shawlee.
A secretary (Constance Bennett) is in love with her divorce attorney boss (Kenneth MacKenna) who is also a notorious playboy. When the lawyer's latest mistress (Rita La Roy) makes plans to divorce her husband and marry the attorney, he quickly arranges a sham "in name only" marriage with his secretary to keep the mistress at bay. But when the caterpillar secretary goes on a solitary honeymoon to Paris and turns into a butterfly, she realizes her leverage and power. Directed by Paul L. Stein, this is Noel Coward territory but without the sophistication and razor wit. MacKenna's shallow lawyer is such a cad that you wonder what Bennett sees in him. In fact, Bennett is just about the only decent character in the film (unless you count Zasu Pitts who has a small turn as Bennett's best friend). Everything is resolved predictably by the film's end although for a moment it was suggesting it might go in another direction (I wish it had). I am perplexed by the film's provocative title. What sin? Bennett is as wholesome as apple pie. Perhaps its referring to the sham marriage but that's hardly a sin. With Basil Rathbone and Louis John Bartels.
Their parents killed in a plane crash some years previously, a spoiled spendthrift and alcoholic (Oliver Reed) is attempting to drive his sister (Janette Scott) crazy in order to inherit all the family wealth. But when a mysterious stranger (Alexander Davion) turns up claiming to be the long lost brother they thought dead, things get ugly ..... and deadly. Loosely based on the novel BRAT FARRAR by Josephine Tey and directed by cinematographer turned director Freddie Francis (TALES FROM THE CRYPT). Outside of a terribly hammy over the top performance by Oliver Reed which I'll give a pass because this was so early in his career, this is a decent Hammer thriller. It's well done even though the screenplay doesn't offer any surprises. The wide screen B&W lensing by Arthur Grant (TOMB OF LIGEIA) is quite nice and rare for an early 60s film, the underscore is composed by a woman, Elisabeth Lutyens. With Maurice Denham, Sheila Burrell, Liliane Brousse, John Bonney and Marianne Stone.
A dancer (Leni Riefenstahl) from the sea inadvertently comes between two best friends (Luis Trenker, Ernst Petersen) from the mountains. This leads to a tragic end in the German Alps. Written and directed by Arnold Fanck, this was the film debut of Riefenstahl as an actress. Visually, this is a beautiful film. The cinematography (its credited to four cameramen) is among the most stunning I've ever seen and captures the breathtaking and frightening beauty of the snow peaked Alps. Serene and beautiful one minute, stormy and threatening the next. There's an extremely lengthy ski competition that's mesmerizing and it's probable that when she turned director, Riefenstahl was influenced by Fanck's imagery. As to the narrative itself, it's full of symbolism that seems rather obvious but it doesn't hamper the scenic creativity that is the movie's ace. With Frida Richard and Friedrich Schneider.
A greedy family gathers at the secluded mansion of the family matriarch (Cecilia Loftus) who they think is dying. But when the woman is murdered rather than dying a natural death, suspicion falls on each other. Then they find out that she has left all her money to her housekeeper (Gale Sondergaard) to care for the multitude of cats who live in the mansion. Directed by Albert S. Rogell, the film's credits say the movie is based on the famous Edgar Allan Poe short story but there's nothing Poe about this comedy horror other than the title. I love comedy horror (like THE GHOST BREAKERS and CAT AND THE CANARY, both with Bob Hope) and I love mysteries set in old dark houses on a stormy night so this would seem tailor made for me. Unfortunately, the comedy is principally provided by the annoying and unfunny Hugh Herbert who sucks the juice out of whatever life the movie might have. Still, the cast is pretty good for a B movie: Basil Rathbone, Broderick Crawford, Alan Ladd, Gladys Cooper, Bela Lugosi for starters. Then there's Anne Gwynne, John Eldredge and Claire Dodd.
A legendary female late night talk show host (Emma Thompson) finds her ratings falling and irrelevant in the social media contemporary world. When she is told by the new head (Amy Ryan) of the network that she is being replaced, she takes it upon herself to fight back. Written, produced and co-starring Mindy Kaling (as the token woman of color on the all white male writing staff) and directed by Nisha Ganatra. No doubt about it, this is a smart and savvy sophisticated comedy that is relevant and hits its targets with a sharp aim. Kaling is adorable but this is Thompson's movie all the way. But it's not without its problems. The major one is that when Thompson is doing her late night comedy shtick, the material she's given isn't all that funny and her droll delivery doesn't quite cut it. You can't believe that she's a late night legend like David Letterman or Johnny Carson or even a Joan Rivers. If you can get past that, there's much to enjoy here. With John Lithgow, Hugh Dancy, Denis O'Hare, Paul Walter Hauser and Ike Barinholtz.
An ex-actress (Ginger Rogers) now residing in the south of France is the mistress of a shady but wealthy businessman (Stanley Baker). When she falls in love with an impoverished pottery maker (Jacques Bergerac), she finds it isn't as easy to break off with the brutal lover as she had hoped. A messy tale of mixed identities and murder follows. Directed by David Miller (MIDNIGHT LACE), this has an interesting set up that never reaches its potential. It would have played better if shot in Technicolor to take advantage of the French Riviera location, produced by Ross Hunter with Lana Turner instead of Rogers (who doesn't have Turner's knack for this kind of lush melodrama). As it is, it's an eminently watchable potboiler lacking the necessary glamour. Rogers looks rather matronly but Stanley Baker and Herbert Lom as pathetic loser of a scam artist make an effective pair of criminal types. Released in the U.S. as TWIST OF FATE. With Coral Browne, Ferdy Mayne, Margaret Rawlings, Eddie Byrne and Marianne Stone.
Disturbed by the fact that he grew up without a father, a Robin Hood like bandit (Douglas Fairbanks) gives the proceeds from his robberies to fatherless children. But it won't be long before he discovers the secret behind the circumstances of his birth. Directed by Allan Dwan (SLIGHTLY SCARLET), this is an early example of the revenge western. The film's hero is conflicted by being the illegitimate child of an unwed mother and this leads to his life of crime. As a western, the film may be short on action but makes up for it with the psychological aspects of the story. The film looks authentic with the dusty and stark Mojave desert locations nicely utilized by Victor Fleming's (yes, the director of GONE WITH THE WIND) cinematography. The restored transfer I saw had a suitable score by Donald Sosin. With the appealing Bessie Love as the romantic interest, Sam De Grasse and Pomeroy Cannon.
After two years of being unemployed and in a severe depression, a man (Mathieu Amalric, VENUS IN FUR) spontaneously joins a men's synchronized swimming team. His fellow team members including their coach (Virginie Efira) all have their problems ranging from alcoholism to bankruptcy. But together, they just might find a moment of greatness. Directed by Gilles Lelluche, this film was nominated for 10 Cesar (the French Oscars) awards winning the best supporting actor award for Philippe Katerine's socially inept but big hearted doofus. Incredibly, it was never released in the U.S., at least not yet. It's an absolutely charmer of a movie. Every time I hear that something is a "feel good" movie, I know to stay away from it so I hate to call this a "feel good" movie but damn, I felt so good after watching it I wanted to watch it again right away. It's a purely mainstream film with no pretensions toward "art" but isn't going to the movies for pure pleasure part of the reason we go? There's a wonderful pop music soundtrack and the actual underscore is by Jon Brion (MAGNOLIA). With Guillaume Canet, Jean Hugues Anglade, Benoit Poelvoorde, Marina Fois and Leila Bekhti as a foul mouthed coach who almost steals the movie.
Set in Iowa, a dairy farmer (Tim O'Connor) and his wife (Vera Miles) must contend with a divorced daughter (Julie Cobb) and her troubled son (Jeff Cotler) as well as a teenage son (Mitch Vogel) in his first encounter with romance. Based on the novel by Phil Stong and directed by David Lowell Rich (MADAME X). This is the fourth version of the Stong novel which was previously made in 1933 and then as a musical in 1945 and 1962. However, unlike those three versions, it has very little in common with the book outside of its title. It was intended as a pilot for a TV series but it was never picked up and it's easy to see why. There's only about five minutes spent at the actual state fair and the bulk of the movie deals with the son's puppy love and the betrayal of the girl (Linda Purl) he's in love with. It's the kind of squeaky clean entertainment that gives wholesome movies a bad reputation. With Virginia Gregg and Dennis Redfield.
An ambitious young man (Laurence Harvey) from a working class background dreams of rising into the socially prominent upper class strata of society. To this end, he attempts to woo the daughter (Heather Sears) of a wealthy industrial tycoon (Donald Wolfit). But an affair with an unhappily married woman (Simone Signoret) has him conflicted when he falls in love with her. Based on the novel by John Braine and directed by Jack Clayton (THE INNOCENTS). This look at climbing the social and corporate ladder of success at whatever the cost is a powerful and beautifully structured work that arguably was the first of the "kitchen sink" dramas that marked the British new wave of the 1960s. While Signoret's heartbreaking performance is justifiably heralded (she won the Oscar and Cannes film festival best actress award), I couldn't quite buy Harvey's working class bloke. He's still too posh and the film really needed an Albert Finney or Michael Caine to render some authenticity in the part. With Hermione Baddeley (Oscar nominated even though she only has about 3 minutes of screen time), Donald Houston, Ambrosine Phillpotts, Allan Cuthbertson, Ian Hendry, Mary Peach and April Olrich.
Two friends (J. Farrell MacDonald, William Farnum) are traveling through the desert when they come across an abandoned baby (Thais Baer) in a covered wagon. They take the child with them but they fall out over who would be a better father to the baby. Jump some twenty years ahead and the baby is now a young man (William Boyd) who has been fathered by Farnum but the bitter rivalry between the ex-friends is still strong. Complications arise when the young man falls for the daughter (Helen Twelvetrees) of MacDonald. Directed by Howard Higgin, this pre code western moves as slow as a turtle. Higgin seems to hold many a shot longer than necessary and one becomes impatient. The B&W cinematography by Edward Snyder does justice to the Arizona locations but the movie still creaks! It's interesting seeing a young Clark Gable in a supporting role as a baddie and he's certainly the only one with presence in the cast. Boyd makes for a bland hero and he's not much of an actor but he would go on to fame as Hopalong Cassidy. With Charles Sellon and Hugh Adams. A sidenote: the baby playing the young Boyd died mysteriously on location and no cause of death was ever given. Such an incident would cause an outrage today!
Set in 1897 Africa, an experienced guide and hunter (Stewart Granger) reluctantly agrees to take a woman (Deborah Kerr) and her brother (Richard Carlson) deep into the unexplored African interior to look for her husband who has disappeared while attempting to find the legendary King Solomon's Mines. Based on the 1885 novel by H. Rider Haggard and directed by Compton Bennett and Andrew Marton. This spectacular adventure is the second film version of the novel (the first was in 1937) and at least three more have been made since. A huge hit in its original release, it even received a best picture Oscar nomination. Visually, it's impressive and authentic as it was filmed in Africa (Tanganyika, Uganda, Kenya, the Belgian Congo) so we get the real thing, not studio sound stages or projected backdrops and Robert Surtees (THE LAST PICTURE SHOW) Oscar winning cinematography makes full use of the picturesque locations. A grand adventure and one that allows the indigenous natives their dignity rather than being portrayed in stereotypes. With Hugo Haas, Lowell Gilmore and Siriaque.
A wheelchair bound young woman (Susan Strasberg), who has been living in Italy, travels to the south of France to visit her father who she has not seen in ten years. When she arrives, her father is away on a business trip and she is greeted by her father's second wife (Ann Todd). When she starts to see her "dead" father popping up during the night and hearing things, is she going insane or is there a devious plan afoot? Directed by Seth Holt (1965's THE NANNY), this is a corker of a "gaslight" thriller. We think we have it all figured out but the clever script leads us right up the garden path and then turns around and bites us with a "Gotcha!". But the clues are all there if you pay attention so it's possible you'll get there before I did. The performances are all good, even better when the movie is over and you can appreciate the layers the actors were working with. With Christopher Lee and Ronald Lewis.
In 1878 India, two young British officers arrive to take up their duties in the regiment. One (Michael York) is eager to fit in and become a good soldier while the other (James Faulkner) is arrogant and wants out. He deliberately antagonizes his fellow officers and is unliked. When a widow (Susannah York) is brutally attacked, she accuses him. A private mock trial among the officers is arranged to deal with the attacker but what unfolds reveals an ugly truth about the regiment. Based on the play by Barry England and directed by Michael Anderson (AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS). This is a fine example of the "courtroom" drama and though the movie sticks close to the play, it doesn't feel like a filmed play. The film examines the question of honor in the face of injustice, the military mindset and comradeship. The acting is fine and the film holds your attention until the last few minutes when all is revealed. If you're a fan of mysteries or courtroom dramas, this one is for you. With Christopher Plummer, Trevor Howard, Richard Attenborough, Stacy Keach, Helen Cherry and Persis Khambatta.
In 1936 Florida, the journalist Martha Gellhorn (Nicole Kidman) meets the famous novelist Ernest Hemingway (Clive Owen). They would become lovers and four years later, she would become his third wife. But their tumultuous marriage lasts only five years. Directed by Philip Kaufman (THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING). I can't speak for the authenticity of this true story but it rings false. I'm not saying it is false, just that it feels phony. If the film had been a roman a clef and changed the names, I think it would have played better. Kidman is excellent (no surprise) and rises above the screenplay's deficiencies. No so Clive Owen who embodies Hemingway's charisma but little else, certainly not the man himself, at least as history knows him. He's too smooth and not enough roughness around the edges no matter how hard he tries. It doesn't help that his "American" accent is sloppy. As a historical biopic, it's a failure because we can't believe it. If only they'd changed the identities like they did with Jose Robles, who's called Paco Zarra (Rodrigo Santoro) here. The large cast includes Robert Duvall, Tony Shalhoub, Diane Baker, David Strathairn, Parker Posey, Joan Chen and Peter Coyote.
A notorious gunslinger (Ray Milland) is framed for the slaughter of innocent passengers in a stagecoach robbery. Escaping a vigilante lynch mob, he hides out in the home of the town sheriff (Ward Bond), who's seriously ill with yellow fever, and his daughter (Mary Murphy) while figuring out how to expose the town's most powerful citizen (Raymond Burr), who's behind the murders. Directed by actor Milland in his directorial film debut. I had a hard time staying engaged with this western. Despite being innocent, Milland's character isn't particularly likable and as a director, he doesn't give some much needed punch to the flat screenplay and the romantic angle with the younger Mary Murphy (young enough to be his daughter) seems forced. Technically, Lionel Lindon (THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE) does nicely with the Utah and Arizona exteriors shot in Trucolor and there's a fine score by Victor Young (JOHNNY GUITAR). Milland did much better with his next directorial effort, LISBON. With Lee Van Cleef, Alan Hale and Minerva Urecal.
A small family consisting of father (Jim Davis), mother (Dorothy Malone), daughter (Marcy Lafferty), son (Scott Kolden), son in law (Christopher Mitchum) and granddaughter (Natasha Ryan) relocate to the Sonoran desert. But their first night in their new home, they are under siege by UFOs and strange creatures that have escaped through a time warp caused by a supernova. Directed by John Bud Cardos, the film suffers from its low budget and weak special effects. In fact, the special effects look right out of a 1950s B science fiction movie instead of a 1979 (which is post STAR WARS) film. The narrative is of some interest however as its time out of whack plot is reminiscent of a TWILIGHT ZONE or OUTER LIMITS television episode while its ending is reminiscent of George Pal's WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE. It would have helped if the script hadn't reduced its characters to stock figures. If you can get past the cheap visual effects, it's tolerable enough. The underscore by Richard Band isn't bad at all and gives the film a bit of class.
Deciding to improve herself, a country girl (Sandra Dee) goes to a small college. While she finds it difficult to fit in with the rest of the student body, a handsome professor (John Gavin) and an elderly woman (Beulah Bondi) give her confidence. Based on the novel by Cid Ricketts Sumner and directed by Harry Keller (QUANTEZ). Sandra Dee takes over from Debbie Reynolds in the second of the three theatrical TAMMY movies. Dee isn't as comfortable in the role as Reynolds was as if she realized she wasn't convincing playing "country". The plot is threadbare with the most interesting aspect of the movie being the Beulah Bondi story line: an elderly woman confined by both her wealth, her bitterness and her money grubbing niece (Julia Meade) who finds a new lease on life living on a riverboat on the bayou. As the love interest, Gavin is as wooden as ever. He can't even laugh convincingly. With Charles Drake, Virginia Grey, Gigi Perreau, Stefanie Powers, Cecil Kellaway, Juanita Moore, Edgar Buchanan and Hayden Rorke.
A topnotch newspaper reporter (Rosalind Russell) is quitting her job to get married to an insurance salesman (Ralph Bellamy). But her editor (Cary Grant), who's also her ex-husband, dupes her into covering one more story on a condemned murderer (John Qualen). Based on the play THE FRONT PAGE by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur (previously filmed in 1931) and directed by Howard Hawks. In an inspired bit of rewriting, Hawks and his screenwriter Charles Lederer changed the gender of the male reporter in the original play thus giving the film the battle of the sexes angle and Russell the comedic peak of her career. She and Grant (also at his best) deliver the film's rapid fire dialog like thoroughbred champions. But Hawks has surrounded them with a cast of first rate character actors, all of them killing it. With all this frenetic activity, both verbal and physical, it's easy to underrate Bellamy's dupe. Screwball comedy doesn't get better than this! The perfect cast includes Gene Lockhart, Porter Hall, Ernest Truex, Roscoe Karns, Abner Biberman, Billy Gilbert, Helen Mack, Alma Kruger, Regis Toomey and Marion Martin.
Set in 18th century Spain, a child (Justin Walters) conceived in rape has blackouts but his guardian (Clifford Evans) discovers that during those blackouts, he turns into a wolf and slaughters animals. For awhile, those incidents stop but when he (now Oliver Reed) grows into manhood, they return. Based on the novel THE WEREWOLF OF PARIS by Guy Endore and directed by Hammer veteran Terence Fisher. The film begins with a lengthy and tedious exposition involving a beggar (Richard Wordsworth) and a mute servant girl (Yvonne Romain) that really doesn't have much relevance to the main narrative. Once it gets to the story proper, it becomes a stylish and graphically violent (the film was edited for its original British release) horror film. Wisely, we don't actually see the werewolf completely until the film's last 12 minutes or so which is just as well as the werewolf make up is disappointing. This was Reed's first starring role and his charisma and screen presence are already there. The score is by Benjamin Frankel (NIGHT OF THE IGUANA). With Catherine Feller, Anthony Dawson and Hira Talfrey.
A high school student (Koji Wada) studying in America is called back to Japan after his father's death. He is now head of his father's construction company. But he is suspicious about the circumstances surrounding his father's "accidental" death and sets out to prove not only was his father killed but who murdered him. Based on a story by Hara Kenzaburo and directed by Seijun Suzuki. I've seen most of Suzuki's major films and have loved or liked all of those I've seen. This one is a major disappointment. It's a curious blend of corporate espionage, high school teen comedy and even has some singing and dancing tossed in. Honestly, I'm quite at a loss what to make of it. But Suzuki was a contract director for Nikkatsu and TOKYO KNIGHTS was one of six films he churned out for Nikkatsu in 1961 alone! Judging from the end result, I'm just guessing it's not a film he was particularly interested in. While it's never boring, it's never engaging either and pretty silly actually. Needless to say, I had a hard time swallowing that a high school kid would be the corporate head of a major construction company! With Nobuo Kaneko, Mayumi Shimizu and Yoko Minamida.
A young boxer (Tony Wright) with a bright future is taken under the wing of a rich Italian (Frederick Valk) who sponsors him. But when he begins an affair with the Italian's hard-bitten wife (Barbara Payton), she pushes him to murder her husband. Based on the novel by Max Catto (DEVIL AT 4 O'CLOCK) and directed by Reginald Le Borg (THE MUMMY'S GHOST). This is your typical B noir set up. Gullible hero, manipulative femme fatale who lures him into her web and the good hearted husband with lots of money who stands in their way. In the mid 1950s, second tier American stars were sometimes imported to England to star in B movies so that the film would have some market value when they reached the States. Here, the minor starlet Barbara Payton serves that purpose. As cinema, it's predictable but mercifully short (1 hour, 20 minutes). There's not much you can say about a movie like this except been there, seen that. With Sidney James and John Slater.
At the height of her career, the actress Debra Winger walked away from Hollywood and stopped acting. This self imposed exile lasted about six years. It was during this period that fellow actress Rosanna Arquette (DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN) tracked down Winger to talk about her quitting movies. In this documentary, she not only interviews Winger but dozens of other actresses about how the film industry views women, about the eternal conflict between family and career and the process of aging in an ageist and sexist industry. The interviews are engrossing and enlightening and vary from superficial to biting and bluntly honest. Some of the actresses deal with the subject humorously (Whoopi Goldberg, Ally Sheedy, Martha Plimpton) but no less honestly while others (Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Laura Dern) discuss the often traumatic conflict a mother feels abandoning their children to work. Fonda expresses regret, Redgrave not so much and Dern sees it from both sides as both a working actress with children and the daughter of a working actress (Diane Ladd). The film is interesting enough that it zips buy. Other actresses interviewed: Frances McDormand, Holly Hunter, Patricia Arquette, Sharon Stone, Meg Ryan, Diane Lane, Melanie Griffith, Charlotte Rampling, Gwyneth Paltrow, Emmanuelle Beart, Salma Hayek, Robin Wright, Alfre Woodard, Daryl Hannah, Tracey Ullman, Teri Garr, Juliana Margulies and Theresa Russell
A teenage girl (Ginger Rogers) runs away from a reform school and ends up in the hands of a Fagin like charlatan (Basil Rathbone, who steals the movie) who runs a school for pickpockets. When one of her victims (Adolphe Menjou) catches her trying to steal his pearl pin, he blackmails her into a scheme of his own. A remake of the 1940 French film BATTEMENT DE COEUR and directed by Sam Wood (KITTY FOYLE). In order for a romantic souffle like this to work, it needs a light touch and that Wood doesn't have (at least not here). But even if Wood had given the film the necessary sparkle, what really kills it is the miscasting of the 35 year old Rogers playing an 18 year old delinquent when she's the same age of her leading man, Jean Pierre Aumont. Watching Rogers act all childish and girlish is downright embarrassing. With Melville Cooper, Eduardo Ciannelli, Mikhail Rasumny and Mona Maris.
Set in Arizona, an unhappily married woman (Jaclyn Smith) is having an affair. When her lover (James Franciscus) murders her husband (Mike Connors), he concocts a plan to impersonate the husband while taking a plane to Washington D.C. But when the wife discovers her lover's dead body where her husband's dead body should be, it's clear someone is playing deadly mind games. Directed by Ted Post (HANG 'EM HIGH), this is an inept thriller right from the start. Right at the very beginning when we're shown that the adulterous lovers are being bugged, the film makers blow the one "twist" that might have come as a surprise. Instead, it gives us a clue as to what is happening so that when the big reveal comes, we've pretty much figured it out ourselves. The film looks nice thanks to cinematographer Anthony B. Richmond (DON'T LOOK NOW) but the subpar score by Gunther Fischer does the film no favors. With Robert Mitchum as the detective working on the case, Fritz Weaver, Sybil Danning and Michael Anderson Jr.
In 1868 Jamaica, a female pirate (Geena Davis) has 1/3 of a map that leads to the location of a large treasure. The other 2/3 of the map are held by her uncles (Frank Langella, George Murcell) but the vicious Dawg (Langella) has no intention of sharing the treasure with anyone. Directed by Renny Harlin (DIE HARD 2), the film is one of the most notorious flops of the 1990s earning bad reviews and losing over $100 million dollars. The film is a tongue in cheek pirate adventure but there's not a trace of wit in the entire screenplay (which underwent several rewrites). It's bombastic and overblown and lacks the entertainment value of the more modestly budgeted SWASHBUCKLER (1977) which accomplishes pretty much the same thing. The film pretty much damaged Davis's (who was on a hot streak) career and poor Matthew Modine is no one's idea of a swashbuckling hero. The film looks great with Malta and Thailand standing in for the Caribbean and John Debney's lively score makes the film seem more grand than it is. While I don't think the film is as bad as its reputation would suggest, less is more should have been the film maker's motto. With Harris Yulin, Maury Chaykin, Stan Shaw, Rex Linn and Mary Peach.
When an insurance agent (Bob Hope) mistakenly sells a $100,000 life insurance policy to the outlaw Jesse James (Wendell Corey), the company sends him to Missouri to get the policy back or stay there as long as necessary to keep James alive so he can't collect on the policy. Directed by Norman Z. McLeod. Two of Hope's best comedies were westerns, THE PALEFACE and SON OF PALEFACE. This effort isn't in their league but it's an innocuous divertissement. Rhonda Fleming provides the pulchritude and even joins Hope in a duet. If you're a Hope fan or a TV western buff, this should be right up your alley. The last five minutes are crammed with cameos from Gary Cooper, Bing Crosby, Roy Rogers, Hugh O'Brian, James Arness, Ward Bond, Fess Parker, Jay Silverheels and Gail Davis. Also in the cast: Gloria Talbott, Jim Davis, Scatman Crothers and Will Wright.
After 15 years of marriage and two children, a wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) realizes she has changed while her husband (Bruce Willis) has remained the same. They've come across an impasse in their marriage and they must decide if it's worth saving. Directed by Rob Reiner (WHEN HARRY MET SALLY). Told in non linear fashion, the template for this sort of film is Stanley Donen's TWO FOR THE ROAD (1967). That's some big shoes to fill and Reiner's movie spends the bulk of its running time showing us the lows of the marriage and suddenly in the film's last few minutes, it's fixed and everyone can go home happy! At least, TWO FOR THE ROAD's ending was ambiguous enough to suggest that nothing had really been solved. And that's the problem, everything is on the surface and its glib ending is an indicator that the film is reluctant to dig deep into the actual complexity that is marriage. It's a pity because the one thing the film has going for it are Willis and Pfeiffer who are wonderful together, talk about your chemistry. You feel that they belong together but if only they'd gotten a movie worthy of them. With Red Buttons, Betty White, Julie Hagerty, Tim Matheson, Jayne Meadows, Rita Wilson, Tom Poston and Paul Reiser.
When the woman (Lizabeth Scott) he loves rejects him, a plastic surgeon (Paul Henreid) gives her face to a disfigured habitual criminal (Mary Mackenzie before, Lizabeth Scott after) and marries her. But while she may have a new face, her behavior reverts back to her criminal tendencies. Directed by Terence Fisher, the intriguing premise of a disfigured criminal being rehabilitated by plastic surgery is hardly new to anyone who has seen the 1938 Swedish film A WOMAN'S FACE with Ingrid Bergman or its 1941 American remake with Joan Crawford. This pulp version is nowhere near the quality of those movies but its premise is so irresistible that you're tantalized anyway and it's a credible watch. No surprise, Lizabeth Scott is much more convincing as the ungrateful bitch than the noble concert pianist. Malcolm Arnold (SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER) did the underscore. With Andre Morell, Susan Stephen and Ambrosine Phillpotts.