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The African Queen (1951)
Queen vs. Kaiser
The enemy warship" Louisa, whose actual name is Liemba (meaning Lake Tanganyika") was built in 1913 at the Meyer-Werft Shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. For over 90 years the Liemba has been the only major means of transportation on Lake Tanganyika. It has been operating almost nonstop since 1927 as a passenger and cargo ferry after turbulent times during WW I.
In the movie in common Hollywood fashion of demonizing the enemy" (or simply other people") the Liemba (or Louisa) gets destroyed by the tale's American heroes in an act of guerrilla warfare. This fictional story may work as an adventurous fairytale, but the attitude problem is quite evident. The enemy" does get reduced to evil and/or inept cartoon characters in millions of US movies, e.g. German troops (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Where eagles dare), Mexicans (The magnificent Seven, The Professionals), French (Two mules for sister Sara), British (The Patriot) etc., and the facts do get bent way beyond implausibility. In The Mercenaries" the Iron Cross of the German mercenary (based on actual German mercenary in the Congo, Siegfried Müller) even does get changed to a swastika. I wonder why John Houston didn't paint a swastika on the bow of the Louisa as well.
Also remarkable is the fact, that the democracy" US of A seems to adore Kings and Queens; the heroic boat of this movie is a Queen, Elvis Presley is called King, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. do reside and reign in an aura of selfrightousness like actual aristocrats in a hereditary monarchy.
The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970)
Interesting, entertaining and inspiring interpretation
The chauffeur of the car that runs over Hogue a moment later is filling water (watle) into the radiator. This happens incidentally and can easily be missed by the viewer as it seems to be missed by Hogue himself. I think Peckinpah hasn't made the chauffeur fill watle into the radiator without a purpose within the context of the film. In fact I think there is a major plot-point there: The future belongs to cars and the times of horses as a means of transportation are over, Hogue is rooted in the old times and the car symbolically runs over him; if that is what the movie "means", then Hogue fails to notice that cars do need watle (Hogue's misspelling of "water"), too.
In the long run Hogue could have turned his station with the well into a gas-station, providing gas, watle (for both people and radiators) and food. There was absolutely no need for Hogue to let himself be "run over" by the changing times. In fact I'm still trying to figure out a possible interpretation why Hogue gave himself up so fatalistically in the end. When he was left out in the desert in the beginning of the movie he was talking to god, fighting the elements and hanging on to his life with a very strong will. After the car ran over him he just died with a smile on his face. Is that a change of character?
The Searchers (1956)
Chief Scar is the good guy (too)
Many comments on this page state that this flick is a bit dull and dated at times. Well I think that may be true to some extent, but still it has this monument feel about it, that does make it a classic somehow. Certainly there is not the joyfulness of "El Dorado" to be experienced here...
Several comments regret the arrogant view on the Indians, which are presented as utter stupid brutal savages (or "bad guys"). Well, I myself dislike the black-and-white view of things that many Hollywood movies suffer from, preferring flicks like "Flaming Star", "Little Big Man" or "Soldier Blue". But still I disagree with those comments about this here flick: Chief Scar and Ethan are facing each other as EQUALS and they BOTH are aware of that. All the fighting and killing is originally initiated by the white man. That becomes clear (not only) when they both meet in the Indian village. They level with each other, and it is Scar who explains the reason for the raid on the farm: his sons were killed by white men. Yes, Ethan says that Debbie doesn't deserve to live any more after having been the squaw of an Indian (or something along that line), but this is NOT the attitude of the film-makers; the character Ethan is WRONG there at first and then he LEARNS and in the end he carries Debbie home on his arms.
So I think, too, that the movie is a bit dated somehow. But the plot and the attitude are NOT simplistic. On the contrary, there are characters here which all are "good" and "bad" at the same time. The movie is worth to be watched closely and repeatedly.
Flaming Star (1960)
a little jewel of a movie
This little movie is really different. The theme goes down to the soul, it certainly does reflect on the american soul. The white (or WASP to be more precise) are not presented the way they like it, calling themselves "good guys". It has always been said that no-one wanted to watch Elvis in a non-musical movie, and "G.I. Blues" and the like were much more successful because of that. That maybe true to some extent, but then other movies of a similar attitude towards the oh-so-glorious conquering of the wild west like "Heaven's gate" failed to make the big buck as well. So I think it's more the down to earth attitude, that sort of holds a mirror to the audience's face, than Elvis not singing much, why the flick was without much luck at the box-office. I don't think it's a coincidence, that the birthday gift in the beginning of the movie is a mirror. And - yes - Elvis really does pull it off in this one. What if he (in real life) had become more mature, made his own career decisions, accepted offers for movies like "Thunder road", "A star is born", "Midnight cowboy" ... what if ??
Nacht fiel über Gotenhafen (1960)
Collide with destiny
The sinking of the "Wilhelm Gustloff" is the biggest ship catastrophe ever. There were more than 10,000 people aboard - including over 5,000 children; more than 9,000 (!!) died, drowning and freezing to death. It is very odd that this drama is far less known or "popular" as e.g. the "Titanic" desaster, which was a ship of the rich and the super rich.
There are several popular books about the "Gustloff", but up to this day moviewise this is the only "monument" in rememberance of those 9,000 people who were buried alive in the Ostsee.
Old Shatterhand (1964)
This is no genuine Karl May
Unfortunately this movie is very bad. It is written poorly by people who have never read Karl May. It is filmed pretty badly, too. After the success of "Winnetou I" the other big german producer, Brauner, wanted to make some money out of this "milkcow", too. But like all the other movies he then made after books of Karl May (and I have seen them all), the movies were hastily produced and turned out to be worse than those of his competitor. Even the costumes seem to be made for a dude ranch. There's only one or two scenes that are fun to watch, the rest is just boooring. Take my advice and spare yourself the time. Watch "Der Schatz im Silbersee" instead.
El Dorado (1967)
ride, boldly ride, the shade replied
This is THE western movie yo me. The Poe poem recited in the movie by Mississippi has been going around in my head ever since I first seen it. It's a touching story about man, woman, friendship, love, treachery, fights and the attitude towards life. It does work out that way, as Wayne's character learns during the process; all you gotta do is "ride, boldly ride". 10 out of 10. Yes, Sir!
Live a Little, Love a Little (1968)
I am a big Elvis fan, and I have seen this one many times. Hard to tell whether I should recommend this movie to fans or to everyone who likes light hearted old fashioned comedies. This movie is certainly light years away from the crap that Elvis had been made to act in before. Check it out. The music is great, too. Only 4 songs, including Wonderful world.
Der unheimliche Mönch (1965)
best of the Wallace classics
This 34 year old german movie probably is not a timeless piece of art, yet it still is very entertaining. Check out the music, too!!!
Among the Wallace movie series during the 60s this is one of the best entries.
Rio Lobo (1970)
a western favorite
This was the last Hawks movie. It is western adventure at its best. There's action, fun, gunpowder, a good score, women, horses and a tough plot about loyalty and betrayal. One of my all time western favorites.