A very good feature that seems to be a soap-opera with touches of film-noir. Barbara Stanwyck plays the femme fatale not as cold-blooded as her earlier turn in "Double Indemnity" ,but her "Martha Ivers" is one really selfish lady. And Stanwyck is as usual very good. For me the best performance comes from the always reliable Van Heflin who magnificently manages to almost carry the whole film. Kirk Douglas, in his debut, is very good as the weakling husband of Stanwyck. Lizabeth Scott who plays the most sympathetic character in the movie is very able and memorable.The movie is at almost two hours perhaps a tad long,but it is well worth investing those two hours.
Captain from Castile (1947)Colorful spectacle
4 August 2008
The conquest of Mexico by Hernan Cortez in the early 16th Century is the backdrop of a story of love,courage and adventure in this entertaining swashbuckler. The movie was Jean Peters's first and she's a beguiling creature in this ,although her acting leaves a lot to be desired at this point in her career.Cesar Romero as Cortez paints an entertaining portrayal of this ruthless opportunist. The stunning color-cinematography is something to behold. Captured on the screen is an erupting volcano in the background of some of the action. Tyrone Power does his usual competent job in this kind of adventure story.The movie is very entertaining but it does drag a bit in its 2 and a half hour running-time.
Boom Town (1940)Entertaining soap-opera
4 August 2008
"Boom Town" is a very entertaining soap-opera which solely depends on the charm of it's two stars.I'm happy to say that both Gable and Tracy are great in this movie.The action sequences are amazingly done considering the vintage of this movie. Gable has some socko female performers to woe in Colbert and Lamarr. The storyline plays like a cross between a buddy-movie and soap-opera,most likely to appeal to both men and women. The business practices depicted in the movie surely favors aggressive capitalism as the American way. But if you can swallow some of those scenes the movie is very entertaining. Lending able comic support are two scene-stealers from many a film: Frank Morgan and Chill Wills. "Boom Town " is definitely worth a look.
The Joker Is Wild (1957)Brilliant movie where Sinatra goes all the way
2 August 2008
"The Joker Is Wild" gives Frank Sinatra probably his best acting assignment playing nightclub-entertainer Joe E. Lewis. After having his throat cut by mobsters in the 20's Chicago, Lewis turned to stand-up comedy after several years of recovery. But his self-destructive ways cause his private life a lot of problems. Frank Sinatra is magnificent in the lead-role given great support by Eddie Albert,Jeanne Crain and especially by Beverly Garland,as Albert's wife. Sinatra had a magnificent hit-song from this movie with "All the Way". One of my favorite recordings of his. It's a shame this movie isn't out on DVD. I hope Paramount will release this gem very soon.The movie should not be missed by any Sinatra fan.
Get Shorty (1995)Great Elmore Leonard adaptation
22 March 2008
Based on a novel by Elmore Leonard ,"Get Shorty "provides John Travolta with another brilliant part after the success of "Pulp Fiction" the previous year.As Chili Palmer,Travolta is a charming,energetic and cool hood wisecracking his way through the jungle of Hollywood-deal-making. It's quite a biting satire of mobster movies and Hollywood in general. Travolta is surrounded by a terrific cast which all our tops,especially I enjoyed Dennis Farina's hilarious part.James Gandolfini is fine as the gentle bodyguard,once stunt-man, years before he gained fame as Tony Soprano.There have been other movies made of Elmore Leonard's hardboiled novels,Jackie Brown (1997),Out of Sight (1998),and this is just as good a movie as the other. I had a great time.
Dirty Harry (1971)Expert cop thriller
8 August 2007
Extremely entertaining "Dirty Harry" is a very manipulative movie which leads us to cheer on a vigilante cop who's virtually breaking the law to bring in his murderer.Since Andy Robinson's portrayal doesn't reveal anything but an evil human being, it's so easy to side with Eastwood's vigilante cop. Especially when we know that the letter of the law in many cases protect the criminals more than their victims. Richard Donner must have been a fan of this film since there are so many similarities to "Lethal Weapon" which he made 16 years later. Clint Eastwood's "Harry Callaghan" and Mel Gibson's "Martin Riggs" could almost be the same guy.Clint Eastwood is magnificent in his part revealing the person underneath Harry's tough exterior.A great action-flick if you don't mind the politics.
Black Narcissus (1947)A beautiful and haunting movie experience
8 August 2007
A movie about nuns in the Himalayas doesn't sound very interesting,but you're in for a surprise when you watch "Black Narcissus" The movie is full of tension and mystery, depicting the cultural clash between the so-called civilized west and mysterious India. Deborah Kerr on the brink of Hollywood fame is riveting as the young Sister Superior, I've never seen her better. David Farrar as the britisher employed by the local Raj is perfect.It's one of the most beautiful Technicolor films ever made and the recreation of those distant Himalayas are fantastic.It's hard to believe they never left Britain.Watch out for Kathleen Byron's performance of an emotionally disturbed nun's descent into madness. She's really scary. A wonderful movie I will watch many times in the years ahead.
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)A masterpiece of storytelling
7 August 2007
There are not many movies that have such an emotional quality as "The Best Years of Our Lives". The story of three ex-servicemen returning from WW II and trying to readjust to civilian life is one of the best movies ever made.The acting is superlative: Fredric March,Myrna Loy,Dana Andrews (my favorite),Virginia Mayo and real-life amputee Harold Russell are not merely acting these parts,to me they are these people.Wyler direction is magnificent in his best movie. There are so many memorable scenes...Dana Andrew's breakdown inside a B-29 plane,Fredric March's first night on the town...to name some.The relationships the three men have with their families are so realistically conveyed that we easily can identify ourselves with the problems they have.If you have never seen this film you're in for a real treat.
Things to Come (1936)Visually stunning but a flawed masterpiece
7 August 2007
This sci-fi masterpiece has too many flaws after the editors had butchered it after its opening in 1936. Visually it is a wonder to behold, but the script allows too many intellectual speeches about war and progress.This gets very corny when the actors are given to recite a lot of high minded messages at all times.Raymond Massey and Cedric Hardwicke,both great actors,come off as quite a pair of fanatics. Ralph Richardson is very good as the "The Boss" a megalomaniac warlord. The prediction of World War II was very eerie considering that the world was on the brink of the most devastating conflict in human history at the time. I'm sure glad that war didn't turn out as it did in the movie. There are some visually stunning montage sequences bridging the leaps of time between the movie's different episodes. Although its not as entertaining as I hoped it would be,this movie sticks in your mind long after you've seen it.
Annie Get Your Gun (1950)Betty Hutton is the whole show
5 August 2007
What dynamo Betty Hutton turned out to be in this show. She carries the whole movie on her dynamic personality. With good actors the likes of Keenan Wynn,Louis Calhern and J.Carrol Naish in support nobody manages to steal the attention from Hutton. Howard Keel is so overwhelmed by her performance you hardly remember him except in the classic song duel "Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)" where he is magnificent.Hutton has two really great numbers: "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun" and "Doin' What Comes Naturally". The rest of the musical is pretty standard stuff,but with the usual production values poured into an MGM musical it's bound to be greatly entertaining,though not a masterpiece.
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)Perhaps the greatest movie on the folly of war
5 August 2007
Certainly one of my favorite films "The Bridge on the River Kwai" deserves all the praises and awards which have been bestowed on this masterpiece.This epic contains fantastic visuals captured by ace cameraman Jack Hildyard on location in Burma. The acting of Alec Guinness is as good as it gets.William Holden simply mesmerizing, and when you have actors like Sessue Hayakawa, Jack Hawkins and James Donald at their top of the game you really can't ask for more.The script is intelligent and full of irony,especially in the intense finale,and still packs an emotional wallop.I've probably seen this movie several dozen times and it never fails to entertain even though I know almost every scene by heart.
Portrait of Jennie (1948)Beautiful, romantic fantasy
5 August 2007
You could say that the storyline in the movie doesn't stand close scrutiny,but it doesn't matter when it is told and acted so expertly. Jennifer Jones delivers her most haunting portrayal as Jennie and never has her ethereal beauty been caught so perfectly on the screen. Joseph Cotten,Ethel Barrymore and Lillian Gish are all memorable. David Wayne in his first movie was magnificent. He played the Irishman very convincingly. You're not likely to see a more beautifully shot black & white movie. The photography is magnificent and suits this ghost-story perfectly.I liked the green-tinted scenes of the storm and the sepia-tone for the aftermath. An original idea.This is a beautiful love story if you dispense of logical thinking. It's well worth your time watching "Portrait of Jennie"
North by Northwest (1959)Playful,exciting Hitchcock thriller
5 August 2007
Hitchcock's most entertaining masterpiece is a delight to sit through. The 2 hours + running time moves so fast,you're surprised when the movie is over.Hitchcock keeps the pace going and it never lets up.If the suspense might drag he inserts some clever comedy relief. Cary Grant is absolutely fantastic in the lead-role.James Mason makes the perfect gentleman crook,Eva Marie Saint is sexy and wonderful and Martin Landau is deliciously sinister as Mason's gay henchman.The movie is full of great set-pieces with the famous crop-dusting scene the most spectacular. My favorite scene is at the auction. How Grant gets out of his predicament is one of the movie's highlights.Although Hitchcock's themes repeated themselves ,his best films were always original and exciting. In a way he had made this movie earlier. "The 39 Steps (1935)" and "Saboteur (1942)" have similar story lines. But this is really one of the classic masterpieces of the cinema.
Gladiator (2000)Impressive epic with the help of CGI
3 August 2007
First time you watch this movie you are blown away by the sheer spectacle on the screen,but after repeated viewings you'll find a typical action-flick driven by the typical revenge plot of hero avenges dead loved ones. I am as everybody else impressed by the CGI effects in the movie, but compared to real thing of thousands of extras in the golden age of the Hollywood spectacle, there is no comparison. Russell Crowe is very good in his part and cuts an impressive figure,but the part doesn't allow him the opportunity for any broader characterization. The one actor who impresses in this movie is Oliver Reed. In his last role he is magnificent. Joaquin Phoenix performance as Commodus didn't impress me. He made the emperor into a pathetic human being instead of the deranged and dangerous Commodus. Connie Nielsen as his sister did an acceptable job. Nice seeing those great British stars of the sixties: Richard Harris,Oliver Reed and David Hemmings.
Rocketship X-M (1950)Missed the Moon,on our way to Mars
3 August 2007
Wow, this was a real stinker. This early sci-fi flick has nothing going for it than pure camp. There's so much scientific mambo-jumbo in the dialog it's laughable. The female character played by Osa Massen is just a plot device for the male characters to serve sexist remarks during the entire length of the film. Watch this one with your girlfriend I guarantee it will make her blood boil.The only good thing is the musical score which expertly build the moods of the film. The special-effects are rather crude but not bad considering the vintage of the movie. With some good B-stars in the lead roles,the acting isn't too bad. But the lines they are given must have given them quite a challenge. The challenge of not laughing their heads off.
The Man from Laramie (1955)Revenge western with a complex plot
3 August 2007
The last collaboration between director Mann and star Stewart resulted in this marvelous western classic. It's similar to their earlier efforts plot-wise but the violence portrayed is more sadistic than what was seen on the screen earlier.Stewart is very convincing in his part as a soldier seeking out his brother's murderer. There's also a subplot involving the crazed heir (Alex Nicol), the adopted son (Arthur Kennedy), of a big rancher (Donald Crisp) that lends very much tension to the movie. Crisp and Kennedy are magnificent in their parts,but I found Alex Nicol way over the top.The female love-interest is portrayed by Cathy O'Donnell who delivers a rather wooden performance.
Destination Moon (1950)Interesting early sci-fi flick
3 August 2007
Purely of historical value now, "Destination Moon" is still quite entertaining.It's fun to see that the concept of reaching the moon wasn't seen as a unrealistic goal twenty years before mankind was able to achieve it. The science in the movie must have been as accurate as they could make it almost sixty years ago. I was relieved that the movie mostly keep its feet on the ground in regard to the fantasy element. There are no aliens on the moon. However the most annoying aspect of the movie is the performance of mediocre comic Dick Wesson. He almost spoils the whole movie. The Technicolor and effects are quite nice. Not a great sci-fi but a interesting one
The Ipcress File (1965)A clever spy yarn
3 August 2007
Made by Bond-producer Harry Saltzman as the antithesis to the Bond franchise,this clever little spy yarn gives Michael Caine one of his iconic roles as "Harry Palmer".He would do the part in two subsequent films in the sixties which helped him cement his fame.This movie is not for those who want action packed spy-adventures because it's pace is rather slow,focusing more on character than action. The movie's plot isn't very realistic,but quite entertaining. The script takes some witty pot shots at the spy-genre and at the British society. The depiction of sixties London as a dark and gritty place where danger lurks around every corner is very good. I must say I enjoyed "The Ipcress File" a lot.
The Parallax View (1974)We're all susceptible to manipulation
1 July 2007
Many people might find this movie boring and hard to comprehend,with the attention-span of today's moviegoers it's no wonder,because this movie really demands attention.One of the better conspiracy thrillers of the seventies it does have a lot of plot holes that are not easily dismissed.It's not a tense thriller like "Three Days of the Condor" but rather slow-moving and atmospheric.The movie emphasizes the isolation of the lead character trying to make sense of the plot.As spectators and witnesses we're trying to do the same.The clever montage sequence subjecting us to hidden,subconscious messages is perhaps the movie's clue.We're all susceptible to manipulation.What if it's our own government doing it.That is really a paranoid notion
A western masterpiece
1 July 2007
The third of Sergio Leone's trilogy of spaghetti westerns is his definitive masterpiece.This epic,sprawling western is graced by breathtaking photography, a fantastic score and Leone's masterful direction. The performances are all iconic with scene-stealer Eli Wallach the standout.The earlier films in the trilogy don't have the same tremendous sweep and scope.The dry and dark humor also elevates this classic to greater heights.Although I'm always somewhat annoyed by the acting of the Italian supporting cast, with their excessive macho laughing and some assorted weird characters,it doesn't detract from the enjoyment of these movies."The Good,the Bad and the Ugly" is in my opinion one of the best westerns ever made.
For a Few Dollars More (1965)The first great spaghetti western
1 July 2007
With this follow-up to "Fistful of Dollars",Sergio Leone crafted a superior sequel with Clint Eastwood more or less repeating his character from the previous film.With much of the same cast as in "Fistful",Volonte again as the bad guy,there's the added attraction of Lee van Cleef making perhaps a greater impact than Eastwood. The movie also gives some of the characters motivations, which was absent in the earlier flick, through incorporating flashback sequences in the storyline.The use of Ennio Morricone's musical score is also used as a narrative tool.With far better production values Sergio Leone's movie is a real treat for western fans
A Fistful of Dollars (1964)The birth of the cynical western
1 July 2007
A remake in western setting of Kurosawa's "Yojimbo",this movie became a landmark western revitalizing the genre by adding a cynicism not previously found in westerns.Clint Eastwood became a major star as "The Man with No Name" and is still identified by this part. The amount of violence in this movie was quite different than anything that had gone before.Almost operatic,aided by the score of Ennio Morricone,the movie takes on the mythical aspects of the westerns. Sergio Leone's extreme close-ups, a trademark of his, is already evident here.The movie isn't as good as the sequels that followed,but very entertaining and Clint Eastwood is really good here.
Vivacious Lady (1938)Stewart and Rogers in their early prime
3 June 2007
This is a fun,enjoyable comedy starring two screen legends in their early prime.Ginger Rogers and James Stewart are fine in the leads,but are given a run for the money in the acting department by Charles Coburn and Beulah Bondi.As Stewart's parents they almost steal the show. James Ellison,who I've only seen in De Mille's "The Plainsman" (1936), is serviceable as the second-lead who loses the girl.There's one big highlight in this movie that stands out: The cat fight with Rogers and sparring partner Frances Mercer. It's a hilarious moment.George Stevens keeps the movie bright and funny. If you ever catch this little gem you won't be disappointed.
The Return of Frank James (1940)Nice sequel to a great western
21 May 2007
The sequel to the immensely popular "Jesse James" (1939) as helmed by director Fritz Lang, finds Henry Fonda reprising his performance as Frank James in an entertaining,but routine revenge western.Also from the earlier cast we have Henry Hull,J.Edward Bromberg,John Carradine and Donald Meek.Jackie Cooper as Fonda's sidekick and the beautiful Gene Tierney are nice additions to the cast.Shot in subdued Technicolor,the movie has some nice outdoor visuals.Although not as good as the previous movie,it has its memorable moments:Frank James catching up with his brother's murderers performing a highly theatrical reenactment of Jesse's killing and the final shootout in the stable are the movie's highlights for me.
Call of the Wild (1935)Not exactly Jack London
13 May 2007
Based very loosely on the Jack London novel,this is a star-vehicle for the rough and likable Clark Gable.Thrown in there's a dog named Buck and Jack Okie as his comic sidekick, for Gable to bond with.Then there's beautiful Loretta Young for him to romance (which he also did in real-life,resulting in an illegitimate child.)Shot on location in Washington State the movie has a rugged outdoor look from which it benefits immensely.The portrait of the rough and tumble gold mining town of Skagway looks almost authentic.The performances are pretty standard.Gable is his rough and likable self,Jack Okie,the likable buffoon ,Loretta Young,a good love-interest and Reginald Owen a despicable villain.All in all an entertaining adventure movie.