Anyone else a fan of this^ movie at all? I used to rent it out on VHS from the local video store all the time when I was young, I enjoyed it that much. While this was my umpteenth rewatch of the movie, I watched it on TV a while back - which was, I think, the first time I'd seen it since the days of VHS. It was so nice to rewatch it again after such a long time. I still remembered a majority of it (and even lines of dialogue from it - especially Sarah Jessica Parker's. I thought she gave a delightfully weird performance. And still the best she's ever looked, in my opinion. She was oddly sexy as Sarah). Bette Midler totally just goes all in with her performance as Winifred, and Kathy Najimy reminded me of my other favourite role she played besides Sister Mary Patrick from Sister Act (1992).
I even liked the three kids in this (and usually kids annoy me in shows/movies). Thora Birch managed to keep Dani likeable enough, and I always liked that Allison wasn't just a useless 'love interest' type of character for Max. She was actually pretty smart/helpful (except for when she opened the spell book - but at least her heart was in the right place, trying to help Binx and plus she was operating on the information she had which was, as far as she knew, the witches were *dead* after tricking theminto an incinerator - which was pretty 'dark' for a kids' film. Sure, you don't see them burning, but you hear their screams). Speaking of Max, he was alright as the male lead. Could be a bit annoying at times, but there was actually some character growth there, as he sacrificed his life for his sister's and we saw him take the blame when Binx got squashed by the bus the witches were in (with Sarah driving - scary). Regarding Binx - ever since first watching this movie when I was a kid, I thought the idea of a talking cat was pretty awesome. I think that kick-started my cat obsession at the time. Binx was just so darn likeable. I know we were supposed to be happy for him at the end, when the witches were dead and his spirit was free to reunite with his deceased sister who he'd been cursed to feel guilty over losing for all eternity...but I just couldn't get over the sadness of seeing the dead kitty lying there on the ground (I hope they gave him a proper burial).
I've always remembered the performance of 'I Put A Spell On You' by the witches. It's a fun moment, and the movie has quite a lot of those throughout. I think it's a good fun family movie. I never got why it wasn't more popular. It was only in the last year or two (when a very belated sequel was announced - which I have absolutely no interest in whatsoever) that I discovered it's apparently gained a 'cult following' and is actually quite popular now. Of course then whenever something becomes 'popular' there's a certain percentage who go in the complete opposite direction and hate on it. Anyway, I'm firmly in the camp who loved it from the very first time I watched it on VHS in the 90's.
Christmas Holiday (1944): A jilted G.I. on leave encounters a depressed nightclub singer who proceeds to tell him the sad story of how she met her troubled husband, who was eventually sent to jail for murder. A surprisingly good film noir by director Robert Siodmak, with stars Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly giving what may be their best performances in the most atypical roles of their careers. Excellent script by Herman J. Mankiewicz. I loved it and highly recommend it, much to my surprise. (Available on YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBVWLwwkt3I)
Charulata (1964): The lonely housewife of a wealthy Calcutta publisher becomes enchanted with her husband’s literary minded young cousin. Adapted from a Rabindranath Tagore story by director Satyajit Ray, it’s often rated a his finest film. It’s only the 4th of his I've seen, but it’s another beauty. Highly recommended.
So Ends Our Night (1941): In 1937, with Germany outlawing Jews and dissidents, a growing underclass of refugees struggles from country to country without passports or official papers, always hiding, always in fear of deportation. Adapted from a novel by Erich Maria Remarque (famous for “All Quiet on the Western Front”), all the cast, especially a young Glenn Ford, give wonderful performances in a film released in 1941, ten months before the U.S. officially entered World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Excellent direction by John Cromwell and cinematography by William H. Daniels. Definitely worth a view, because of the cast and the film’s historical relevance. It was one of the very few American films at the time that addressed the Nazi persecution of Jews. Maybe even the first; not sure.
The Quiet Man (1952): One of John Ford’s most enjoyable masterworks, replete with beautiful Irish landscapes and his standard ensemble cast. A must-see for all his fans.
Wild Strawberries (Smultronstället) (1957): An aging professor is forced to confront the emptiness of his existence. Another Bergman masterwork with a wonderful performance by the legendary actor/director/writer, Victor Sjöström. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t like it as much this time. That said, it’s nevertheless an important film in the Bergman CV, and his fans shouldn’t miss it (and probably most who see it will love it).
Come Next Spring (1956): In 1920s Arkansas, after a 12 year absence, a reformed alcoholic returns to his abandoned family, but has to win them back and regain his hometown's respect, too. One of Anne Sheridan’s best mature, character driven roles, with wonderful support from the kids, Richard Eyre and Sherry Jackson, along with Steve Cochran as the returning husband, Walter Brennan, and Edgar Buchanan as neighbors. A meaningful, well-told story that’s very much worth a view. Title song sung by Tony Bennett. Available on YouTube: (www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKj0JyUQb0o)
The Pawnbroker (1964): A Jewish pawnbroker in New York, a victim of Nazi persecution, loses all faith in his fellow man until he realizes too late the tragedy of his actions. A Sidney Lumet treasure with an exceptional, Oscar nominated performance by Rod Steiger. Gritty and tough to watch, but well worth it. Highly recommended.
Earth (Zemlya) (1930): A Soviet propaganda film about collectivizing farms with a tractor is considered by many to be one of the greatest films ever made. A poetic masterpiece, directed by Ukrainian director, Aleksandr Dovzhenko, it’s full of images that are exhilarating, with great cinematography and remarkable film editing. Highly recommended for its cinematic brilliance and historical significance.
“Night Hawks” Distributed by Universal Pictures, 99 Minutes, Rated R, Released April 10, 1981:
If you look closely over actor/writer/director/producer Sylvester Stallone’s filmography, you’ll find something that might surprise you.
Despite Stallone’s reputation as an megalomaniac--an egotistical pretender who aspires to rarefied artistic distinction but mainly turns out series of lurid or sentimental but often enormously popular pulp fiction time-wasters--he’s actually participated over the years in the occasional legitimate gem of a movie...although it might not have seemed that way at the time.
Since his breakthrough as a motion picture superstar in 1976’s “Rocky,” Stallone has attempted whenever possible to gain as much control as possible over each of his motion picture appearances. His mania is likely a result of toiling for years as a bit player, scrambling for work as an extra or small parts in the films of other artists--playing a thug in Woody Allen’s “Bananas,” a suspected mugger in Neil Simon’s “The Prisoner of Second Avenue,” a flashy Mafioso in Paul Bartel’s action comedy “Cannonball” in 1976, and even gratefully accepting $200 to appear in the infamous softcore pornographic film “The Party at Kitty and Stud’s” in 1970
When Stallone in 1976 actually decided to write himself a plum role in the Capra-esque boxing drama “Rocky,” the major studios dangled lucrative offers to the unemployed Stallone in an effort to purchase his script with other major performers in mind for the role. But the unemployed actor was adamant: No Stallone, no “Rocky.”
Still, after ”Rocky” a few of Stallone’s best roles have occurred when he’s worked for other filmmakers as an actor only, with no participation as a writer or director--in John Huston’s “Victory” in 1981, for example, or “Cop Land” in 1997, which paired Stallone with Robert DeNiro in one of the first big screen efforts for writer/director James Mangold, the filmmaker behind the enormously successful “The Wolverine,” “Logan,” and “Ford v Ferrari.”
Sandwiched in between the megahits “Rocky II” in 1979 and “Rocky III” in 1982 and before the money-machines “First Blood” in 1982 and “Rambo: First Blood Part II in 1985, Sylvester Stallone acted in a small and modestly budgeted little action thriller entitled “Night Hawks.”
Written by David Shaber and called “Nighthawks” virtually everywhere except the movie’s opening credits, “Night Hawks” was originally intended to be a project for Gene Hackman, a followup to his Academy Award-winning turn as tough New York City cop Popeye Doyle in 1971’s “The French Connection” and its 1975 sequel.
When Hackman developed cold feet at the thought of one too many trips to the well (as well as a certain hesitation over studio 20th Century-Fox’s plans to include in the picture a co-starring role for the popular young comic Richard Pryor, then a mostly-unknown entity as a dramatic actor), plans for “The French Connection III” were scrapped. The script was rewritten and tweaked over time by Shaber and made the rounds of the Hollywood studios, eventually landing at Universal Pictures, where it attracted Stallone’s interest.
In “Night Hawks,” the ruthless and cruel international terrorist Heymar Reinhardt, known as “Wulfgar” (Dutch actor Rutger Hauer), holds Europe in a grip of fear. Responsible for a series of murders, kidnappings, and bombings throughout the continent, the emotionless Wulfgar loses his network of protection when his bombing of a London department store results in the deaths of a number of children. To regain his reputation for merciless efficiency, the demented terrorist decides to pioneer new territory: New York City, the headquarters of the international news media...and the location of the United Nations.
Simultaneously in New York City, dedicated NYPD Detective Sergeant Deke DaSilva (Sylvester Stallone) and his resourceful partner Detective Sergeant Matthew Fox (Billy Dee Williams) are investigating a local narcotics network with ties to the police department. Unhappily estranged from his fashion designer wife (Lindsay Wagner), DaSilva is incensed to learn that he and Fox have been reassigned at the request of Interpol’s Inspector Peter Hartman (Nigel Davenport) to his new Anti-Terrorist Action Command, in anticipation of New York-based activity by the disappeared Wulfgar.
Initially wary of the reassignment and skeptical of Hartman’s radical instruction tactics (“You’re training us to be nothing but assassins,” the detective grouses, “The only difference between him and us is the badge”), the troubled DaSilva finds himself adapting to Wulfgar’s thinking. And with Fox in tow and Wulfgar in his mind, DaSilva quickly picks up the terrorist’s New York City trail.
“Night Hawks” is a movie filled with subtlety and spectacle, nuanced performances and heart-stopping set pieces. But at the heart of the picture is the deadly game of cat and mouse between its opposing characters--Sylvester Stallone’s New York cop Deke DaSilva and Rutger Hauer’s vicious European terrorist Wulfgar.
The actors themselves are a study in contrasts. Stallone’s Detective DaSilva is a sort of kinder, gentler, somewhat dandified precursor to Rambo. Bearded and pensive behind owlish aviator glasses, DaSilva's a Vietnam combat veteran with 52 registered combat kills, an undercover cop with eight years service...but as meek and mild and tongue-tied as a schoolboy in the presence of his estranged wife.
Rutger Hauer in his first American film, almost two years before his rise to fame as the escaped replicant Roy Batty in filmmaker Ridley Scott’s fabled cult classic “Blade Runner,” is arrogant and cocky, vain and boastful, alternately gentle when cooing over a newborn baby and homicidally cold when murdering a hostage in an elevated tram car. With his characterizations as Wulfar in “Night Hawks” and Batty in “Blade Runner,” Hauer effectively typecast himself as a coldblooded coldly efficient human robot, an image which haunted the actor for the remainder of his career.
“Night Hawks” was noted for its troubled production history. For reasons that remain unclear, original director (and Disney Studios veteran) Gary Nelson was fired from the production after only a week of filming. With only one previous credit as a filmmaker, novice filmmaker Bruce Malmuth was hired in Nelson's place. Delayed on his way from his Los Angeles home to the New York City location, Malmuth missed his first day of shooting...and was replaced in the director’s chair--at least temporarily--by star Sylvester Stallone.
Reports differ on precisely how much of “Night Hawks” was directed by Stallone. Most sources indicate the actor was responsible for filming only one segment of the film--a lengthy chase sequence set in the New York City subway. But co-star Lindsey Wagner, playing the role of DaSilva’s estranged wife Irene, recalled during an interview that Stallone actually remained on both sides of the camera for remainder of the picture: “We started with one director,” Wagner said, “and there was some problem, and Sylvester ended up having to take over the film.”
But a timely and compelling story, a fast-moving narrative, and realistic and evocative performances make up for a multitude of shortcomings. The picture’s vibrant electronic-tinged score by musician Keith Emerson, the founder and front man of the progressive rock supergroup Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, also adds to the picture’s sense of urgency.
Even at a sleek 99 minutes, “Night Hawks” seems much shorter, partly because of the frequent action sequences and set pieces, but also because of the maturity of the picture’s characterizations. Billy Dee Williams, then at the apogee of his international movie stardom as a result of acclaimed performances in the 1971 TV movie “Brian’s Song” and the hit films “Lady Sings the Blues” in 1972, “Mahogany” in 1975,” and the second Star Wars film “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980, is particularly effective as DaSilva’s volatile but resourceful partner.
“Night Hawks” also shows signs of extensive pre-release tampering and tightening--Stallone inexplicably changes his wardrobe with distracting frequency, scenes occasionally fail to match precisely, and during one crucial shootout a single gunshot plainly results in multiple wounds to the target. Reportedly, two versions of the picture were prepared--one emphasizing Stallone’s DaSilva and the other emphasizing Hauer’s Wulfgar--and shown to test audiences. Although the version highlighting Hauer was better received, some of the actor’s better scenes were removed from the film prior to its release.
But viewed as a whole, flaws and all, “Night Hawks” is not only one of Sylvester Stallone’s best performances, but also one of the very best action thrillers of the 1980s--considerable in a decade that also included such genre classics as “48 Hours,” “Die Hard,” and “Lethal Weapon.”
“Night Hawks” is rated R for violence, some sexualtiy, and language concerns.
“Annabelle Comes Home” Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, 106 Minutes, Rated R, Released June 26, 2019:
For most parents leaving a child in the care of a babysitter, the fear is that a boyfriend or two might stop by while they’re gone, or maybe that the kids will get into the liquor cabinet.
But for ghostbusters Ed and Lorraine Warren, the heroes of the blockbuster “The Conjuring” horror movie series, the fear is that the kids will get into their Black Museum of a basement and uncork some spirits of a different kind. And that’s precisely what happens in “Annabelle Comes Home,” released by Warner Bros. during the summer of 2019.
After a particularly harrowing assignment, the Warrens (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, in cameo appearances) have brought home with them the haunted and possessed Annabelle doll, an artifact so dangerous that they keep it stored in the basement inside a reinforced and padlocked plexiglass case reclaimed from a Cathedral and blessed by a priest.
But when the Warrens are summoned out of town for a weekend and leave 10-year-old daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace) in the care of teenage babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman), the babysitter’s emotionally troubled high school friend (Katie Sarife) stops by. Intrigued by matters concerning the macabre, Mary Ellen’s friend wanders into the basement and manages to get into the display case containing Annabelle. And all hell breaks loose--literally.
Written and directed by veteran horror writer Gary Dauberman (“It,” “It Chapter Two), “Annabelle Comes Home” is a swift-moving, absorbing, and unusually likable little joyride of a movie. In his debut as a filmmaker, Dauberman wisely sticks to the jump scares, moving shadows, and misleading mirror reflections he’s picked up from other horror pictures, and combines the resulting shocks with a solid plot and appealing performances from a well-chosen cast. And a heartwarming little epilogue adds a “Leave It to Beaver”-worthy moral at the end.
Despite the brief presence of “The Conjuring” stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson in wraparound segments, “Annabelle Comes Home” is anchored by the enormously agreeable performance of 13-year-old Mckenna Grace in the role of the Warrens’ hapless but far from helpless daughter, Judy. Young Grace adds another impressive entry to a growing resume of blockbuster movies (“Captain Marvel,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”). And barely into her teens, the young trouper can already wield a crucifix with the authority of Peter Cushing in the old Hammer Studios Dracula pictures.
The seventh installment in the “The Conjuring” franchise and the third film in the peripheral stand-alone “Annabelle” series, “Annabelle Comes Home” is rated R for violence and sequences of terror, and is available for streaming on HBO Max, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Google Play.
“Brightburn” Distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing, 90 Minutes, Rated R, Released May 24, 2019:
Two words: Evil Superman.
In “Brightburn,” childless farm couple Kyle and Tori Breyer (David Denman, Elizabeth Banks) discover an infant child nestled inside a meteorite that crashed onto their property just outside the small town of Brightburn, Kansas. Instead of reporting the incident to the authorities, the Breyers decide to adopt the child and raise him as their own.
The Breyers’ precocious adopted son eventually begins to demonstrate such unusual abilities as super-strength, flight, speed, and heat-ray vision…but also displays a predisposition toward anger, sadism, and even homicide. What’s a modern parent to do?
Anchored by an effective performance from Elizabeth Banks (“Pitch Perfect”) as the Kansas farm wife who longs to be a mother but finds herself outmatched by an otherworldly offspring, “Brightburn” is cynical and jaundiced…but also a remarkably effective horror picture. Pushing the well-worn Superman mythology through the template of a monster movie complete with jump scares and startlingly-lifelike makeup effects, “Brightburn” in its own quiet way becomes a bona fide classic of the genre, as well as a favorite among cult movie enthusiasts.
“Brightburn” was produced by James Gunn, the filmmaker behind the Marvel-based “Guardians of the Galaxy” pictures. At the time of “Brightburn,” Gunn had recently been fired by Walt Disney Studios, the owners of the Marvel Comics franchise, for some off-color comments he’d posted on the Twitter website. So if you thought you detected a certain bitterness and anger in “Brightburn” toward the whole superhero culture, you probably did.
Directed by David Yarovesky, “Brightburn” is rated R for horror violence, bloody images, and language throughout. The film is available for streaming on Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube, Sling, Vudu, and Google Play.
“The Night House” Distributed by Searchlight Pictures, 110 Minutes, Rated R, Released August 20, 2021:
Methodical is a good word to describe “The Night House.” An intelligent and well-plotted little thriller, the movie unfolds like a good novel and contains all the hallmarks of not only a classic horror movie, but also a great mystery and an absorbing drama. The audience is never sure whether the picture is a psychological thriller or a crackerjack ghost story, and the movie’s bleak denouement will have viewers debating the picture for days afterward.
In “The Night House,” a schoolteacher on the worn edge of youth (Rebecca Hall) is mourning the recent suicide of her architect husband. Still living in the remote lakefront home he built for her, some of her husband’s personal mementoes lead the young widow to suspect her late spouse had been leading a double life. And as strange noises and fleeting apparitions begin to occur during the nighttime hours, the troubled schoolteacher begins to discover that her late husband’s pursuits included necromancy, and the dark arts.
“The Night House” is driven home by a virtuoso performance by London-born performer Rebecca Hall as the troubled, haunted Beth, the widow of the late architect. Vulnerable and brittle, sometimes unsympathetic and even unlikable, Hall’s physically demanding performance keeps the audience on its toes throughout: Is she being driven mad with grief over her husband’s death…or is her darkness a manifestation of evil spirits inhabiting her home?
Director David Bruckner throws in a handful of traditional jump scares along the way, placing each into the narrative as carefully as a pharmacist measuring out medicine. But he needn’t have bothered--an intelligent script supplies disconcerting situations enough to create the film’s worst scares in the mind of the viewer, like a vivid nightmare in which we’re aware dreadful events are about to occur but powerless to stop them.
Whether madness or spirits, “The Night House” will have the viewer looking over his shoulder by the third act…for good reason. The movie is especially effective for those viewers who perceive shapes in carpet patterns and curtain designs. This is one little chiller that really delivers the goods. Check it out--but don’t watch it alone.
Filmed near Syracuse, New York, “The Night House” is rated R for violence, disturbing images, and some sexual references.
“Underwater” Distributed by 20th Century-Fox Pictures, 95 Minutes, Rated PG-13, Released January 10, 2020:
Kristen Stewart can’t catch a break.
Here’s what happened: The “Charlie’s Angels” remake starring Kristen Stewart that Sony Pictures released in 2019 was supposed to be a big hit. And when it was, 20th Century-Fox had “Underwater” ready to go. A little horror picture also starring Stewart, “Underwater” was supposed to clean up the box office dollars left over from the expected “Charlie’s Angels” financial juggernaut.
But “Charlie’s Angels” tanked at the box office instead…and pretty much took “Underwater” along with it. 20th Century-Fox barely released the picture and it quickly sank out of sight, unseen by most. Which wasn’t fair, because “Underwater” is a pretty nifty little monster movie. It’s not the best horror picture ever made, but it’s far from the worst.
In “Underwater,” Kristen Stewart plays Norah Price, a mechanical engineer who hires onto an undersea mining operation for the shady Tian Industries. Tian Industries has established a mining operation at the base of the Mariana Trench, ”5000 miles from land and seven miles straight down.” And the company is looking for suckers, or rather workers, to sign up for months-long tours of isolated duty on the ocean’s floor. Hey, the money’s good.
When an earthquake renders the station in imminent danger of both structural failure and a meltdown of its nuclear core, it looks like the end of the road for Norah and the crew. But the captain hatches a plan for the whole gang to suit up in impossibly clunky pressure outfits and walk across the ocean’s floor through freezing waters to a neighboring mining center two miles away. What could possibly go wrong?
Plenty, as it turns out. Something is out there waiting for them. It’s big, and it’s scary, and it’s mean. And it eats people.
With a nod to 1958’s “It! The Terror from Beyond Space”--and the 1979 blockbuster “Alien,” which was based on it--”Underwater” earns high marks by keeping expectations low. The picture employs a genuinely likable cast of young actors, establishes a wonderfully claustrophobic atmosphere, and piles on enough peripheral crises and jump scares to satisfy even the most devoted fans of the Blumhouse House of Horrors.
Produced on an unusually modest budget, “Underwater” never pretends to be anything more than the dumb little horror picture it is. But every member of its talented and wonderfully plucky cast, starting with star Kristen Stewart, gives the picture everything they’ve got, delivering even the silliest dialogue with the relish an actor would otherwise accord to a William Shakespeare tragedy.
Directed by William Eubank, “Underwater” establishes its horror cred by not shying away from periodically revealing the movie’s monster. Mostly seen in there-and-gone cameos, the creature during some shots is plainly some guy in a rubber monster suit. But toward the end of the picture, when the true nature of the evil and carnivorous beast is finally revealed, it’s the creature-feature equivalent of the mothership arriving in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” And brother is that thing ugly!
The sexism police will note with interest that while the last surviving guys remain suited-up, Kristen Stewart and co-star Jessica Henwick spend the final ten minutes of the picture running around in their underwear. But the same thing happened to Sigourney Weaver in “Alien,” and she made the cover of Newsweek and became a feminist icon beside. If Stewart never finds the role that’ll finally propel her past her “Twilight” roots to superstardom, she can always earn a tidy living as a movie scream queen. Like Norah Price in “Underwater,” Kristen Stewart’s a survivor.
“Underwater” is rated PG-13 for sequences of action and terror, and brief strong language. The picture is streaming on Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube, Sling, Google Play, and Vudu.
What a rainy week this has been, movie wise it's been interesting.
Have some Syrian inspired skewers while you read my long post.
Over to the movies:
Mr Brooks 2007 directed by Bruce E. Evans Didn't expected much of this movie, but it turned out to be really good. Kevin Costner plays a well respected business man, who has an evil alter ego (William Hurt) with an urge to kill people Well planned so nothing be can trace deaths back to him. When the movie begins a makes a small slip while killing his latest victims, maybe spoiling it to get rid of his evil alter ego, hoping someone looked and even worse took photos. Someone took photos, but that person don't preasure him for money, but wan't to be part of killing himself, and that complicate matters, and the police begins to sniff around too. It's a well constructed dark drama well worth a look.
Postmen of the Mountains aka 那山那人那狗 1999 directed by Jianqi Huo I stumbled on this movie by chance. One of the most beautiful and somehow relaxing movies I've seen in a long time. The story is simple and easy to follow with subtitles. The old postman by foot of the high Hunan mountain regions is about to retire and it's his son's work to walk in his father's footsteps, so the old man follows his son around to learn the so called tricks of the trade one last time. The first time father and son connects, since father was always away on his post trips most of his son's life. It could have take place in the 1920's as well as 2022, but a cassette player playing English pop reveals it's the early 1980's, in small mountain villages where time otherwise seems to have stood still.
Z 1969 directed by Costa-Gavras and based on a novel by Vassilis Vassilikos that was based on a murder of a Greek politician in 1963. I really wanted to like this movie, but it was too chaotic and confusing for my taste. I can understand the anger and rage of the director that his home country, Greece, had become a military Dictature at the time this was made and all satire is pin-pointed that way. Were I failed was to get a grip as who is fighting for who with all characters involved. With all that negative words from me, it's still a fascinating movie to watch and well worth searching out to make up your own minds. It was nominated for both Best Foreign Language Film Oscar (won) and Best Picture Oscar the same year, think that rift in the rules have been adjusted in later years.
Deadfall 1968 directed by Bryan Forbes and based on a novel by Desmond Cory, starring Michael Caine, Giovanna Ralli and Eric Portman, pictured above. Starts out as a heist movie, a cat-burglar (Caine) is recruited and charmed by a married couple (Ralli and Portman) to participate in a planned heist, the heist nearly goes awry but they succeed in stealing a whole safe. But that is only half the movie, what continues is a sort of nasty love game that the couple seems to be playing. It's the second half that lost me in confusions, the first half was good. John Barry who composed the music for this movie makes a cameo as an orchestra conductor.
Eric Portman (1901–1969)
He had a very special diction when he spoke English that made his voice easy to recognize that at least made me think he was a refugee from Netherlands, Germany or at least Austria, but he was as British as Fish 'n' Chips and born in West Yorkshire. Memorable in A Canterbury Tale 1944, Deadfall was his last movie, sadly.
Hell Drivers 1957 directed by Cy Endfield. Ex-convict (Stanley Baker) trying to leave his past behind, decides to start working for a trucking company, which transports gravel. It's an aggressive company, where speed is everything. Doing too few runs in a day? You're out. The company is also corrupt using a strange bonus system. While Stanley Baker is the star of this movie, other male roles are filled with actors who would become better known during the 1960's, like Patrick McGoohan (Danger Man), Sidney James (Carry On movies), William Hartnell (first Dr Who on TV), Gordon Jackson (Upstairs and Downstairs), David McCallum (Man from U.N.C.L.E.), Sean Connery (Bond ofcourse) and Herbert Lom in a rare sympathetic role. This was a pretty solid and gritty trucker-noir, if there is such a genre, with pretty solid acting too. The speeding trucks is a bit on the slap-stick kind of movie making, but that's a minor complaint. The version I watched is 15 minutes than our old site states, maybe dirty language has been edited out over the years, and thankfully subtitled since the British tends to use dialects that is hard to understand sometimes.
A Dodge D100 1955 called "Kew" or "Parrot Nose" English made. this one looks proper and restored, unlike in the movie mentioned above were most trucks or lorries looked shabby, but the same model.
Man in the Dark 1953 directed by Lew Landers. Released in both black and white flat version and 3-D sepia coloured, I watched the flat version. Edmund O'Brien is a rather reliable actor that seldom gives a bad performance no matter of a movie's quality. Here he is a hoodlum just given advanced brain surgery, that means all his past is gone. Something that his former allies in a great theft don't, so they kidnap him and bangs and hits him in hope he remembers were he hid the loot, even digging up old girl friend, but to no avail. Slowly and casually he might remember a few bits and pieces and that a robbery took place at an Amusement Park. Neither bad or good, but a nifty little thriller. The old Ocean Park Pier, Santa Monica plays the Amusement Park in the plot.
A Woman's Vengeance 1948 directed by Zoltan Korda and based on Aldous Huxley's short story "The Gioconda Smile" and he also wrote the screenplay, the American movie title sort of nearly gives the plot away. A Country squire (Charles Boyer) is patient with his wife Emily (Rachel Kempson), a neurotic nagging invalid. On the side he has a young woman he fancies (Ann Blyth). Next door neighbour (Jessica Tandy) has always fancied him. When Emily dies he quickly marries the young woman much to his neighbour's surprice and shock and maybe jealousy. Could there be poison involved. A post-morten shows arsenic in the body, and the squire would gain if she died, and he married very quickly. Who put the poison in the... Marginally heard of this movie before, but this was a rather good gothic-like story that if you've not read Huxley keeps one wondering how the plot will develop. Important roles was also played by Mildred Natwick as a nurse, and Sir Cedric Hardwicke as a family doctor. The clock in the poster has a significance near the end.
The Naked Street / Maxwell Shane (1955). When working class Rosalie Regalzyk (Anne Bancroft) turns up pregnant but unmarried, her mob leader brother, who styles himself Phil Regal, (Anthony Quinn), and sole support of Rosalie and their mother, learns that the father is Nicky Brandna (Farley Granger), who, inconveniently, is on death row at Sing Sing. Phil swings into action, intimidating witnesses to get Nicky released. Once he does this, a quick marriage takes place. But Phil only has contempt for his new brother-in-law, refusing to give him a place in his organization, making career criminal Nicky work for a living. How do you think that’s going to turn out? Also in the mix is crusading reporter Joe McFarland (Peter Graves), who had a crush on Rosalie in high school, but has his sights set on bringing down Phil. I saw this as part of TCM’s occasional series Noir Alley, hosted by the czar of noir, the doyen of darkness, Eddie Muller. Usually delivering excellent intros and outros to the films, Muller didn’t seem to like anything about “The Naked Street” and made light fun of the goings-on. I wonder why he even presented it. The movie certainly is not “important” but is still entertaining and the four principal players are good, especially Anthony Quinn, coming off his first Supporting Oscar and not far from his second. But then, Muller took a similar mocking attituded toward Rudolph Maté’s “D.O.A.” one of my all time favorite films and a film noir essential.
See How They Run / Tom George (2022). If you are a fan of Agatha Christie, you will rejoice at this period mystery comedy. However, if you know little or nothing about Agatha or what “The Mousetrap” is, then maybe not so much. It is 1952 and crass American movie director Leo Kopernick (a hilarious Adrian Brody) is in London to negotiate film rights to “The Mousetrap.” However, there is a clause in the play’s contract that no movie can be made as long as the play is running on London’s West End (this is true). But it has been running for 100 performances so Kopernick believes it cannot last much longer. In narration he describes it as a boring “whodunit” where all the characters are introduced, the worst of the characters is murdered, a world-weary police inspector shows up and reveals the killer in the final scene. This is the case here as Kopernick is done in at a party for the 100th performance (but he returns in flashback and continues to narrate). The world-weary inspector is Detective Stoppard (Sam Rockwell, whose English accent is pretty good whenever he employs it) who has been saddled with a rank beginner, Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan), an overeager rookie who writes everything anyone (including Stoppard) says in her notebook. The play’s one big star, Richard “Dickie” Attenborough (Harris Dickenson), is a major suspect and Agatha herself (Shirley Henderson) shows up at the finale to save the day. The mystery puzzle itself is a good one and has some resonance for us today. BTW, even if Leo Kopernick had lived he would have had a long wait for that movie contract. “The Mousetrap” is still on stage, a continuous run that celebrates its 70th year in 2022, a world record.
The Wild Wild West “The Night Of The Freebooters” Season 1, Episode 25 (April 1, 1966) “The Night of the Burning Diamond” Season 1, Episode 26 (April 8, 1966)
Midsomer Murders “Sting Of Death” Season 21, Episode 3 (December 18, 2019)
Star Trek: Picard Season 1, Episodes 1-4 (January 23, 2020-February 13, 2020)
THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR (1970). My Rating: 8 out of 10. RECOMMENDED, this one is worth tracking down. Although somewhat dated, it stands the test of time better than many other films of the period. The fine supporting cast includes Cloris Leachman, Stephen McHattie, Rue McClanahan, Nehemiah Persoff and Mike Kellin.
SKY WEST AND CROOKED - A.K.A. Gypsy Girl (1966). 8 out of 10. RECOMMENDED, it's eccentric, offbeat, beautiful, a little strange and a must-see for Hayley Mills fans.
UNDERCURRENT (1946). 7 out of 10. RECOMMENDED.
BULLET TRAIN (2022). 6 out of 10. Ultra violent, FX-laden big budget action comedy. Watchable, but not much fun.
BLACKOUT (2022). 6 out of 10. Ultra violent B-movie which blows the ending but is seriously action packed, and quite fun.
I am only a modest fan of Kubrick, but the early talent he displays here is very impressive. At age 26 the tone and composition of his little shoestring film, only 67 minutes long, is heads and shoulders above many studio pictures of the period. The elegance of his designs is apparent here near the very beginning of his career, starting with the film titles.
It's a simple tale, like a short story from pulp fiction. A boxer and a dance hall girl get mixed up with gangsters. We still have time for stories within stories told with flashbacks. Who do you trust, and what would you do to survive?
It builds to a running and fighting segment culminating in a surreal battle among the naked mannikins in a warehouse. It's funny and brutal at the same time: the bad guy has an axe.
Lush classical score. Real NY street locations. The exciting boxing segment is finely photographed, much more realistic than many others. No natural sound at all.
The studio insisted on the improbably happy ending. The point of film noir is "we're screwed" but maybe that doesn't sell tickets.
A strange little crime story about a young man who finds an escaped convict in a bayou, learns that he's innocent and tries to clear his name. Some nice cinematography, but the movie feels all over the place. 5/10
Monsieur Hulot's Holiday (Jacques Tati, 1953)
There are some wonderful visual gags in this movie, and it's clearly influence a lot of comedies that came after it, but I found much of the humor did not work for me personally. I almost feel bad about not caring for it, because it's shockingly well made, but just not my style of comedy. 5/10
The Entity (Sidney J. Furie, 1982)
Horror movie in which a woman is repeatedly abused by a rape demon(?). Honestly better than it sounds because of the acting and special effects. It's disturbing, and there's a sense of powerlessness to the entire thing, and with no one believing in the demon, it comes off disturbingly like people ignoring a rape which adds a bit of real world horror. 7/10
Thor: Love and Thunder (Taika Waititi, 2022)
I was a little hesitant to even watch this as I don't have the overwhelming love for Marvel that so many seem to and I heard many call it the worst Thor movie… and honestly the Thor movies don't have the best track record for me. Much to my surprise, I honestly thought it was the BEST of the Thor movies. It wasn't a retread of a story I've seen a thousand times like the first, wasn't as dull as the second and wasn't an annoying joke every 2 seconds film like the third. While it is certainly closer to the third film in terms of tone, I found it worked for the most part and was pleasantly surprised. Also, Bale made for an incredibly good villain. 7/10
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (Robert Aldrich, 1962)
Last movie I watched before October hit and honestly I could have saved it for the horror marathon. This is one of the most uncomfortable movies I've ever seen. The cast gives a phenomenal performances all around and menace oozes in every scene. 8/10
Evil of Dracula (Michio Yamamoto, 1974)
First film of the October Challenge! Final in Yamamoto's "Bloodthirsty Trilogy" of films. As with all the others it's a vampire film set in Japan that takes more from Hammer Horror than it does from classic Japanese horror. This time it adds a bit of interesting history, implying that the first vampire to come to Japan was a European missionary which is a rather neat concept in my opinion. Fun stuff, as were the others. 6/10
The Lair of the White Worm (Ken Russell, 1988)
This movie is absolutely bonkers. I mean, all the Ken Russell films I've seen have been, but this one at least doesn't seem to take itself seriously, which makes it significantly better than some of his films I've seen. It's bizarre and not exactly good, but I had fun with this vampire snake tale. 6/10
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne (Walerian Borowczyk, 1981)
A very erotically charged take on the Dr. Jekyll story. It's a little uneven in terms of editing and it's obviously going for a more arthouse feel to the tale (which will certainly influence if the viewer loves it or hates it), so it's certainly not for everyone (not to even mention the fairly constant stream of nudity) but I found it surprisingly effective. 7/10
Evil Dead Trap 2 (Izô Hashimoto, 1992)
Sequel in name only to the infamous Evil Dead Trap film (the only connection other than both being Japanese horror movies are that both involve a female newsanchor as one of the main characters). This is a much more arthouse horror film than the first which was an over the top gore fest. This one also takes itself way more seriously. It's not as good as the first, but I like its ambition and that it's not afraid to go a different direction. 6/10
My favorite Christmas movies don’t have a lot of Christmas in them and “Christmas Holiday” is right up among my top favorites. Durbin’s movie a year later “Lady On A Train” (1945) is another mystery with a Christmas backdrop that doesn’t have much to do with the story (and is recommended). When Gene Kelly first went to Hollywood, they really didn’t know what to do with him. He played the antagonist is a couple of his first films before his musical talent was discovered. In 1950, he returned to film noir and a non-singing non-dancing dramatic performance in “Black Hand” (also recommended), a worthy film with Kelly making a spectacular and explosive escape in a scene near the end. “Black Hand” falls between “On The Town” and “An American In Paris” at the peak of his popularity.
"No human being in all of recorded history wore the bow tie better than Bogart.”
I've tried it a couple times, but found it too grim and sordid to really engage me.
As someone who has seen KILLER'S KISS Doghouse, I can tell you that is definitely not Frank Silvera, it is Jamey Smith. I am not sure if you know who Frank Silvera was, but he was a black man of Jamaican heritage. I imagine Silvera got top billing because he was better known than Smith. The late character actor Frank Silvera is quite an historically important player in the history of black actors in Hollywood.
Here is a scene with both actors in the frame. Frank Silvera in Killer's Kiss.