18 items from 2016
At the turn of the ‘80s, Jamie Lee Curtis was The face of horror; by this point she had already starred in Halloween (1978), and cemented her position with three releases in 1980 alone – The Fog in February, Prom Night in July, and today’s title, Terror Train, in October. It was a banner year for her, and for horror fans alike – well, apart from that snoozy school picture. Terror Train was a great way to end her 1980, and a fitting way to cap off 2016, as it’s a – ta da! – New Year’s Eve movie. Climb aboard for a fun, surprisingly classy ride.
There just aren’t that many horror films that take advantage of the holiday. New Year’s Evil (also 1980) is probably the most well known, and uses the neat conceit of the killer performing a bad deed for every time zone to, sadly, dull effect. Terror Train doesn »
- Scott Drebit
"The Furniture" our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber
This week marks 50 years since the release of Is Paris Burning? (not to be confused with documentary classic Paris is Burning) an epic that hasn’t quite stood the test of time. In the tradition of The Longest Day, it harnesses a cast of thousands to tell the story of a single, crucial moment of World War Two: The liberation of Paris. French stars like Jean-Paul Belmondo and Alain Delon take roles in the Resistance, while the likes of Kirk Douglas and Glenn Ford play American generals. There are cameos from Simone Signoret, George Chakiris and Anthony Perkins, to name only a few.
- Daniel Walber
The actor died peacefully in his Beverly Hills home, according to a statement from Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership.
ABC Western “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp,” in which the exceedingly handsome, muscular O’Brian starred as the title character, ran for 221 episodes from 1955-61. At the time he was one of television’s great male sex symbols.
In 1957 he was nominated for an Emmy for best continuing performance by an actor in a dramatic series for his work on “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp.”
So popular and so much a part of popular culture was O’Brian that he showed up as Earp, uncredited, in the 1959 Bob Hope Western comedy “Alias Jesse James,” as well as in the 1960 TV movie “The Secret World of Eddie Hodges”; when the actor guested on “Make Room for Daddy” in »
- Carmel Dagan
Article by Jim Batts, Dana Jung, and Tom Stockman
Lee Marvin rose through the ranks of movie stardom as a character actor, delivering mostly villainous supporting turns in many films before finally graduating to leading roles. Regardless of which side of the law he was on however, he projected a tough-as-nails intensity and a two-fisted integrity which elevated even the slightest material. Born February 19, 1924, in New York City, Marvin quit high school to enter the Marine Corps and while serving in the South Pacific was badly wounded in battle when a machine gun nest shot off part of his buttocks and severed his sciatic nerve. He spent a year in recovery before returning to the U.S. where he began working as a plumber. The acting bug bit after filling in for an ailing summer-stock actor and he studied the art at the New York-based American Theater Wing. Upon making his debut in summer stock, »
- Movie Geeks
Aging much better than a freezer burnt, half eaten cake, Happy Birthday to Me (1981) stands out as one of the better ones from the golden era of slashers, when the major studios weren’t afraid to throw some blood soaked (Canadian) coin at a B level concept, and in the process giving it some A list icing.
The Canadian ties? Filmed in Montreal when tax credits were still flying fast and furious, Happy was one of Columbia Pictures early ‘80s ventures into the horror world. (Graduation Day, released the same year, was the breadwinner of the two.) Recruiting the Canadian producing juggernaut of Andre Link and John Dunning (David Cronenberg’s cohorts on his mid ‘70s output, Shivers and Rabid), Columbia was guaranteed a good return on their investment. Of course, the Canuck connection doesn’t stop there – the cast includes such faces of Canadiana as Lawrence Dane (Scanners), Jack Blum »
- Scott Drebit
Gloria DeHaven, famous for starring in a parade of Hollywood musicals in the 1940s and '50s, has died. She was 91. DeHaven died Saturday in hospice care in Las Vegas after suffering a stroke a few months ago, reports Reuters. The actress made her screen debut in Charlie Chaplin's 1936 film Modern Times as Paulette Goddard's younger sister. She went on to star in a bevy of musicals - many of them for MGM - in the 1940s and '50s including Two Girls and a Sailor , Step Lively with Frank Sinatra (who had his first onscreen kiss with »
- Jodi Guglielmi, @JodiGug3
Rita Hayworth in 3-D, in a hot story that was acceptable for 1925 and 1932, but too racy for repressed 1953. On a tropical island, a prostitute cabaret singer battles a fiery preacher missionary inspector for her freedom. Hayworth is dynamite, and it takes all of her talent to keep the show afloat, with so much interference from the equally repressed censors. Miss Sadie Thompson 3-D 3-D Blu-ray Twilight Time 1953 / Color / 1:85 widescreen / 91 min. / Street Date July 12, 2016 / Available from Twilight Time Movies Store29.95 Starring Rita Hayworth, José Ferrer, Aldo Ray, Russell Collins, Diosa Costello, Harry Bellaver, Wilton Graff, Peggy Converse, Henry Slate, Rudy Bond, Charles Bronson, Jo Ann Greer. Cinematography Charles Lawton Jr. Original Music George Duning, Morris Stoloff, Ned Washington, Lester Lee Written by Harry Kleiner from a story by W. Somerset Maugham Produced by Jerry Wald Directed by Curtis Bernhardt
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
Yes! 3-D on Blu-ray shows no sign of going away, »
- Glenn Erickson
Dirty cops were a movie vogue in 1954, and Edmond O'Brien scores as a real dastard in this overachieving United Artists thriller. Dreamboat starlet Marla English is the reason O'Brien's detective kills for cash, and then keeps killing to stay ahead of his colleagues. And all to buy a crummy house in the suburbs -- this man needs career counseling. Shield for Murder Blu-ray Kl Studio Classics 1954 / B&W / 1:75 widescreen / 82 min. / Street Date June 21, 2016 / available through Kino Lorber / 29.95 Starring Edmond O'Brien, Marla English, John Agar, Emile Meyer, Carolyn Jones, Claude Akins, Herbert Butterfield, Hugh Sanders, William Schallert, Robert Bray, Richard Deacon, David Hughes, Gregg Martell, Stafford Repp, Vito Scotti. Cinematography Gordon Avil Film Editor John F. Schreyer Original Music Paul Dunlap Written by Richard Alan Simmons, John C. Higgins from the novel by William P. McGivern <Produced by Aubrey Schenck, (Howard W. Koch) Directed by Edmond O'Brien, Howard W. Koch
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
Here's the kind of '50s movie we love, an ambitious, modest crime picture that for its time had an edge. In the 1950s our country was as blind to the true extent of police corruption as it was to organized crime. Movies about bad cops adhered to the 'bad apple' concept: it's only crooked individuals that we need to watch out for, never the institutions around them. Thanks to films noir, crooked cops were no longer a film rarity, even though the Production Code made movies like The Asphalt Jungle insert compensatory scenes paying lip service to the status quo: an imperfect police force is better than none. United Artists in the 1950s helped star talent make the jump to independent production, with the prime success stories being Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. But the distribution company also funded proven producers capable of putting out smaller bread 'n' butter movies that could prosper if costs were kept down. Edward Small, Victor Saville, Levy-Gardner-Laven. Aubrey Schenck and Howard C. Koch produced as a team, and for 1954's Shield for Murder Koch co-directed, sharing credit with the film's star, Edmond O'Brien. The show is a smart production all the way, a modestly budgeted 'B' with 'A' ambitions. O'Brien was an industry go-getter trying to channel his considerable talent in new directions. His leading man days were fading but he was in demand for parts in major films like The Barefoot Contessa. The producers took care with their story too. Writers Richard Alan Simmons and John C. Higgins had solid crime movie credits. Author William P. McGivern wrote the novel behind Fritz Lang's The Big Heat as well as Rogue Cop and Odds Against Tomorrow. All of McGivern's stories involve crooked policemen or police corruption. Shield for Murder doesn't tiptoe around its subject matter. Dirty cop Detective Lt. Barney Nolan (O'Brien) kills a hoodlum in an alley to steal $25,000 of mob money. His precinct boss Captain Gunnarson (Emile Meyer) accepts Barney's version of events and the Asst. D.A. (William Schallert) takes the shooting as an open and shut case. Crime reporter Cabot (Herbert Butterfield) has his doubts, and lectures the squad room about the abuse of police power. Barney manages to placate mob boss Packy Reed (Hugh Sanders), but two hoods continue to shadow him. Barney's plan for the money was to buy a new house and escape the rat race with his girlfriend, nightclub cashier Patty Winters (Marla English). But a problem surfaces in the elderly deaf mute Ernst Sternmueller (David Hughes), a witness to the shooting. Barney realizes that his only way forward is to kill the old man before he can tell all to Det. Mark Brewster (John Agar), Barney's closest friend. Once again one of society's Good Guys takes a bite of the forbidden apple and tries to buck the system. Shield for Murder posits an logical but twisted course of action for a weary defender of the law who wants out. Barney long ago gave up trying to do anything about the crooks he can't touch. The fat cat Packy Reed makes the big money, and all Barney wants is his share. Barney's vision of The American Dream is just the middle-class ideal, the desirable Patty Winters and a modest tract home. He's picked it out - it sits partway up a hill in a new Los Angeles development, just finished and already furnished. Then the unexpected witness shows up and everything begins to unravel; Barney loses control one step at a time. He beats a mob thug (Claude Akins) half to death in front of witnesses. When his pal Mark Brewster figures out the truth, Barney has to use a lot of his money to arrange a getaway. More mob trouble leads to a shoot-out in a high school gym. The idea may have been for the star O'Brien to coach actors John Agar and Marla English to better performances. Agar is slightly more natural than usual, but still not very good. The gorgeous Ms. English remains sweet and inexpressive. After several unbilled bits, the woman often compared to Elizabeth Taylor was given "introducing" billing on the Shield for Murder billing block. Her best-known role would be as The She-Creature two years later, after which she dropped out to get married. Co-director O'Brien also allows Emile Meyer to go over the top in a scene or two. But the young Carolyn Jones is a standout as a blonde bargirl, more or less expanding on her small part as a human ashtray in the previous year's The Big Heat. Edmond O'Brien is occasionally a little to hyper, but he's excellent at showing stress as the trap closes around the overreaching Barney Nolan. Other United Artists budget crime pictures seem a little tight with the outdoors action -- Vice Squad, Witness to Murder, Without Warning -- but O'Brien and Koch's camera luxuriates in night shoots on the Los Angeles streets. This is one of those Blu-rays that Los Angelenos will want to freeze frame, to try to read the street signs. There is also little downtime wasted in sidebar plot detours. The gunfight in the school gym, next to an Olympic swimming pool, is an action highlight. The show has one enduring sequence. With the force closing in, Barney rushes back to the unfinished house he plans to buy, to recover the loot he's buried next to its foundation. Anybody who lived in Southern California in the '50s and '60s was aware of the massive suburban sprawl underway, a building boom that went on for decades. In 1953 the La Puente hills were so rural they barely served by roads; the movie The War of the Worlds considered it a good place to use a nuclear bomb against invading Martians. By 1975 the unending suburbs had spread from Los Angeles, almost all the way to Pomona. Barney dashes through a new housing development on terraced plots, boxy little houses separated from each other by only a few feet of dirt. There's no landscaping yet. Even in 1954 $25,000 wasn't that much money, so Barney Nolan has sold himself pretty cheaply. Two more latter-day crime pictures would end with ominous metaphors about the oblivion of The American Dream. In 1964's remake of The Killers the cash Lee Marvin kills for only buys him a patch of green lawn in a choice Hollywood Hills neighborhood. The L.A.P.D. puts Marvin out of his misery, and then closes in on another crooked detective in the aptly titled 1965 thriller The Money Trap. The final scene in that movie is priceless: his dreams smashed, crooked cop Glenn Ford sits by his designer swimming pool and waits to be arrested. Considering how well things worked out for Los Angeles police officers, Edmond O'Brien's Barney Nolan seems especially foolish. If Barney had stuck it out for a couple of years, the new deal for the L.A.P.D. would have been much better than a measly 25 grand. By 1958 he'd have his twenty years in. After a retirement beer bash he'd be out on the road pulling a shiny new boat to the Colorado River, like all the other hardworking cops and firemen enjoying their generous pensions. Policemen also had little trouble getting house loans. The joke was that an L.A.P.D. cop might go bad, but none of them could be bribed. O'Brien directed one more feature, took more TV work and settled into character parts for Jack Webb, Frank Tashlin, John Ford, John Frankenheimer and finally Sam Peckinpah in The Wild Bunch, where he was almost unrecognizable. Howard W. Koch slowed down as a director but became a busy producer, working with Frank Sinatra for several years. He eventually co-produced Airplane! The Kl Studio Classics Blu-ray of Shield for Murder is a good-looking B&W scan, framed at a confirmed-as-correct 1:75 aspect ratio. The picture is sharp and detailed, and the sound is in fine shape. The package art duplicates the film's original no-class sell: "Dame-Hungry Killer-Cop Runs Berserk! The first scene also contains one of the more frequently noticed camera flubs in film noir -- a really big boom shadow on a nighttime alley wall. Kino's presentation comes with trailers for this movie, Hidden Fear and He Ran All the Way. On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Shield for Murder Blu-ray rates: Movie: Good Video: Very Good Sound: Excellent Supplements: Trailers for Shield for Murder, Hidden Fear, He Ran All the Way Deaf and Hearing Impaired Friendly? N0; Subtitles: None Packaging: Keep case Reviewed: June 7, 2016 (5115murd)
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Text © Copyright 2016 Glenn Erickson
- Glenn Erickson
Roland Emmerich has unveiled plans for a movie about 1942’s Battle of the Midway.
The producer-director made the announcement Tuesday night prior to a 20th anniversary screening on the Fox lot of his 1996 blockbuster “Independence Day.” Emmerich’s sequel, “Independence Day: Resurgence,” will open June 24.
The four-day battle took place six months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, and saw the U.S. Navy decisively defeat an attacking fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy. U.S. codebreakers were able to determine the time and place of the planned attack, enabling the U.S. Navy to prepare its own ambush.
“At the time, the Americans were the underdog,” Emmerich told the crowd. “It was one of those moments where, against all odds, people came together and did the impossible. A lot of pilots died in this battle. I want to make a monument to them and it would be great »
- Dave McNary
On January 22nd of this year I lost someone very close to me. The someone I was closest to, in fact. She was (is) my best friend, my daughter. The love of my life a lot of people say, though this someone wasn’t actually a person. She was better—she was a dog. A nearly 19-year-old Silver Dapple Dachshund named Elizabeth Alaina Freeman, Libby for short. I got her when I was 11 and going through my Queen Elizabeth I phase. I was there when she was born, was the first person she saw when she opened her eyes and the first to hold her. As fate mercifully had it, I was also the last person she saw and the last one to hold her. She died in my arms while I was sleeping. I woke to find her looking at me, eyes unmoving.Last week I turned 30. It was »
An Encore Edition brings back Fritz Lang's searing police corruption tale, with the great performances of Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame and Lee Marvinaided by several pots of fresh, hot coffee. As is usual, Fritz Lang leads the way in modernizing a genre -- this one is a keeper. The Big Heat Blu-ray Encore Edition Twilight Time Limited Edition 1953 / B&W / 1:37 Academy / 89 min. / Ship Date February 9, 2016 / available through Twilight Time Movies / 29.95 Starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Jocelyn Brando, Alexander Scourby, Lee Marvin, Jeanette Nolan, Willis Bouchey, Robert Burton, Adam Williams, Howard Wendell, Dorothy Green, Carolyn Jones, Dan Seymour, Edith Evanson, John Crawford, John Doucette. Cinematography Charles Lang Film Editor Charles Nelson Original Music Henry Vars Written by Sydney Boehm from the book by William P. McGivern Produced by Robert Arthur Directed by Fritz Lang
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
Four years after Twilight Time's initial release, this Encore Edition »
- Glenn Erickson
Delmer Daves' easygoing cattle drive western can't make an action hero out of Jack Lemmon, but with fine work from co-star Glenn Ford it presents a thoughtful anti-myth: no glorious rescues or noble gunfights, and the demure maiden doesn't wait for the handsome cowboy hero. With Brian Donlevy (excellent) and Anna Kashf. Cowboy Blu-ray Twilight Time Limited Edition 1958 / Color / 1:85 widescreen / 92 min. / Ship Date February 9, 2016 / available through Twilight Time Movies / 29.95 Starring Glenn Ford, Jack Lemmon, Anna Kashfi, Brian Donlevy, Strother Martin, Dick York, Victor Manuel Mendoza, Richard Jaeckel, King Donovan Cinematography Charles Lawton Jr. Production Designer Cary Odell Film Editor Al Clark, William A. Lyon Original Music George Duning Written by Edmund H. North and, originally uncredited Dalton Trumbo from a book by Frank Harris Produced by Julian Blaustein Directed by Delmer Daves
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
- Glenn Erickson
Halfway through The Patriarch (Mahana), young Simeon (Akuhata Keef) is enjoying a trip to the cinema that he’s fought hard for. His grandfather, Tamihana (Temuera Morrison), who rules undisputed over his extended Maori family, sees him as insubordinate and certainly would prefer the kids don’t “waste money on make-believe.” But Simeon loves westerns, and a town screening of 3:10 to Yuma is too good to pass up. Yet even Glenn Ford and Van Eflin’s march towards that train platform is derailed by intrusions from the real world, with a member of a rival family riding a horse into the cinema and an unexpected kiss opening up new perspectives in the ensuing confusion.
It’s a brief moment of autobiographical fun for director Lee Tamahori, who sprinkles bits of his own New Zealand upbringing on top of this adaptation of Witi Ihimaera’s novel Bulibasha: King of the Gypsies. »
- Tommaso Tocci
Ray guns! Space armadas! Storm troopers! Toei's manga became a pricey 3-D animated motion capture epic just three years ago, but was denied a release stateside. This collector's disc set gives us rude 'n' raucous space battles, along with a pirate's bounty of original Japanese extras. Don't worry, the 3-D visuals are excellent. Harlock: Space Pirate 3-D 3-D + 2-D Blu-ray Twilight Time Limited Edition 2013 / Color / 2:35 widescreen / 115 (Japanese) 111 (International) min. / Kyaputen Harokku / Ship Date January 19, 2016 / available through Twilight Time Movies / 34.95 Original Music Tetsuya Takahashi Written by Harutoshi Fukui, Kiyoto Tareuchi from the manga by Leiji Matsuimoto Produced by Joseph Chou, Yoshi Ikezawa, Rei Kudo (Toei Animation) Directed by Shinji Aramaki
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
Suppose they had a space war and nobody came? Toei Animation's 3-D extravaganza Harlock: Space Pirate 3-D was prepped and primed to take the world by storm, but like too many foreign super-productions it didn't even get a U. »
- Glenn Erickson
This adult film noir masterpiece showcases the most glamorous pin-up dream girl of the 1940s. Rita Hayworth, a young Glenn Ford and a sinister George Macready form a sophisticated, poisonous love triangle. Criminal intrigues and killer striptease fill out the bill. Gilda Blu-ray The Criterion Collection 795 1946 / B&W / 1:37 flat Academy / 110 min. / available through The Criterion Collection / Street Date January 19, 2016 / 39.95 Starring Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready, Joseph Calleia, Steven Geray, Joe Sawyer, Gerald Mohr, Ludwig Donath, Argentina Brunetti, Eduardo Ciannelli, Ruth Roman. Cinematography Rudolph Maté Film Editor Charles Nelson Music underscore Hugo Friedhofer Written by Marion Parsonnet, Jo Eisinger, E.A. Ellington Produced by Virginia Van Upp Directed by Charles Vidor
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
Some of the best 'movie' times I remember were seeing classic pictures cold, with no knowledge beforehand. Back at film school they'd show us things we'd never heard of, often in prints of incredible good quality. »
- Glenn Erickson
Back in the day an audience’s appetite for action was sated by Glenn Ford on a horse, a sword and sandals epic, or a movie about how America won WWII for the Allies. But all of that changed when Hollywood discovered the blockbuster.
As the movies became bigger, plots got smaller and expectations had to be reduced in order sit through them. Movies like Tango & Cash or Hudson Hawk might’ve been big, but they weren’t particularly clever, and didn’t offer much in the way of thrills. Last Action Hero, hyped by Arnold Schwarzenegger as “big, gigantic, monstrous”, was basically a bad joke made at the expense of the films that had made him a star. Van Damme in Sudden Death? Steven Seagal’s On Deadly Ground? Horrendous. All of them.
But somewhere between the lows of Seagal’s oeuvre and the highs of Die Hard »
- Ian Watson
Every week we dive into the cream of the crop when it comes to home releases, including Blu-ray and DVDs, as well as recommended deals of the week. Check out our rundown below and return every Tuesday for the best (or most interesting) films one can take home. Note that if you’re looking to support the site, every purchase you make through the links below helps us and is greatly appreciated.
Writer-director Marie Heller paints an accurate, honest, and vibrant portrait of her young protagonist, Minnie (Bel Powley), in The Diary of a Teenage Girl. With the use of some beautiful hand-drawn animation, an enlightening and funny narration, and Powley’s versatile performance, this is about as intimate as a subjective picture gets. We experience the world as this young girl does. What’s exciting for Minnie feels truly exciting, and »
- TFS Staff
Many things have been written by plenty of film historians and critics on the essential film Gilda, the 1946 classic directed by Charles Vidor. Is it a drama or does it rest solely in the genre of film noir? Was Rita Hayworth's Gilda an example of a femme fatale or was she a pawn being used by the two men in her life, Ballin (George Macready) and Johnny (Glenn Ford) as they further their intense personal and working lives?Does it matter? The new Criterion Collection blu-ray will serve audiences who side with any of the above arguments. The fact is, Gilda is one of the more important films to come out of the 1940s. Like many films of that era, it skirted with disaster when it...
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18 items from 2016
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