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WOW! That's how I always assumed those f------ bankers tick!
I have already seen quite a number of these so-called "Dogma"-movies, which are in general pretty good and mostly pretty strong stuff (the always revolve around human relationships and in most cases take place at family reunions, burials, parties or other meetings or get-together, where people can get "out-of-control"), but this is - at least in my humble opinion - one of the best and strongest of them.
Directed by a female with absolute merciless, this one sets out to obviously destroy the last positive thoughts one could have about "investment"-bankers and I am notwithstanding to admit, that I hate the whole crowd. So when I saw this movie (about which I had never heard before) on the TV-program yesterday, I immediately decided to give it a try, despite it's late airing not much before midnight.
And what I did get was more than what I had hoped for or dared to hope for: this movie is not so much about a party, which goes out of control (like the summary says), but about a bunch of people, who actually can't stand each other (at least most of them!), but who have been thrown together by fate in a business (and probably in a country), which does not take any prisoners, meaning where a person either "succeeds" or dies (economically and sometimes even physically). But this ain't a story about heroes, it's a story about emotional wrecks.
The whole movie, which runs app. 100 minutes, takes place at one setting, a big villa, and there are just 7 people in it (leaving aside people, who just appear for a few seconds), 3 (male) investment-bankers, 2 of them married, their wives, an au-pair-girl and the (pretty overweight) son of one of the 2 couples. But despite this rigid setting you won't find a boring moment in this movie! The get-together is set out as a party, organized by one of the married 2 investment-bankers, a hot-shot a few years ago, who wants to get a deal through with his boss (who seems to be pretty much of the same age), whom he has invited (together with his wife). The inviting couple has a highly overweight son, for whom the couple does not seem to care very much. Not a family, where you'd wish to be born in, despite their enormous wealth. They also have an au-pair girl, who does not seem to have much to do, and who's involved in an unhappy love-affair with ... no, not with the inviting investment-banker, but with ... guess whom! The invited investment-banker (with his pretty overweight wife) is a detestable person, but obviously this is a business, where you have to lick a persons ass regardless how despicable he is. He brings another young investment-banker to the party, who must have seen or read Tom Wolfe's BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES and considers himself as one of those cool mega-deal-makers.
From the very beginning of the party it is clear that none of the involved persons has any positive feelings towards any of the other persons, maybe except the inviting couple towards their au-pair-girl, for whom they seem to care (at least at the beginning). None of the investment-bankers like or at least respect each other and the same goes for the two wives, although all these people are in fact of very similar character and nature. It is just a question of time, until they clash at each other and that's exactly what happens as the movie starts to unfold.
I won't tell more about the dialog and quarrel, which then starts out, except that this is a highly recommendable movie. Although I usually fall asleep during midnight-movies I easily stayed awake through the whole 100 minutes without getting tired for a second. This movie really has a punch, so IF you have a chance to see this - obviously rarely shown - movie, take the time and see it, you won't regret it.
I give this 10 out of 10 points, although more critical viewers might rate it lesser (but I'd say every viewer who likes dogma-movies would give this certainly an 8).
Waterhole #3 (1967)
Goddamn awful movie from start to finish! Be warned !
My God, what an awful "dreck" this movie is!! I guess this must be the proverbial "one-joke-movie", but I couldn't find that one joke. :-( Why has this movie been made after all? And how did it get THIS cast ???? I usually LOVE to watch James Coburn, but seeing him in this pile of unfunny *beep* makes me cry.
The only possible answer I got to me asking, why in Gods name anybody turned a script as unfunny as this one into a movie is that probably someone tried to repeat the success of CAT BALLOU from two years ago (1965), but to be honest "Cat Ballou" wasn't that funny either (but still mucho better).
After that they finally (thanx!) dumped the lame idea of having a movie commented by a song, which sounds as someone sitting at the toilet having problems getting it out (until "There's Something About Mary" came along 20 years later, where it worked a bit better).
Does this movie have any defenders? If so, where did you laugh? I'd really love to find out where I missed a joke (if there was one)!
zero out of ten!
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
What a train wreck of a movie !
Whilst the original adaption of the Elmore Leonard story is a nice B-movie, the re-make is a D-script (if D at all ...) filmed with an A-budget and starring a totally miscast "hero" Russel Crowe.
My God, what a turkey! I have just seen the re-make on TV out of interest, so I could compare todays filmmaking with the old semi-classic. I didn't expect much, but what I got was even less than I could have expected.
I know, yeah, a really good western is probably the toughest movie to make (and the last time Hollywood succeeded in doing so was OPEN RANGE and before that Eastwood did one of his best works with UNFORGIVEN), because the settings of the genre are limited and you can't have that much "big/expensive scenes" with explosions, car chases (smile), etc, so you have to rely to a reasonable/good story and some interesting characters, but both is totally lacking here. In fact the makers of this re-make didn't trust the story at all and threw in all kinda over-the-top action-scenes, which just look much too implausible to be taken seriously.
The character of Russel Crowe and especially one of his gang-members is despicable, but of course having a leading man like Russel Crowe (who gives the label "wooden acting" a new meaning), Hollywood can't show him as filthy criminal, but needs to build a hero out of him. So the movie takes a good time developing that the people he has killed and kills "deserve" their fate. It's just ridiculous - and sorry for moralizing - that Crowe/Wade killing a member of the posse with a fork (!) gets him just a medium-severe beating. The same goes for his next victim: in fact the only above average-interesting character in the movie, the Pinkerton-man played by Peter Fonda, is characterized a good half-hour as the most evil person imaginable (by a moralizing (!) Crowe) to be then thrown off a cliff for good sake and what happens to Crowe: nothing again! Come on, I hate it when scriptwriters think I am an idiot, taking sh-- for gold.
And Crowe is established as some kinda good (!) anti-hero, about whom the boy fantasizes as being a morale person, not totally evil. That's ludicrous and I don't see how somebody, who kills and destroys merciless, can have a good side or be worshiped?? When LEONE had an evil character in his western, he established that right away, of course with a portion of cynicism, for example like in GOOD, BAD, UGLY (EASTWOOD being "good", Lee van Cleef being "bad"), but this 3:10 TO YUMA re-make does in fact take the good side of Wade indeed seriously.
And to "balance" that, the movie does of course need somebody really "evil" (to establish how "good" Wade is in comparison) and introduces a silly-staring gang-member, who lets somebody burn inside a carriage. That scene is especially ludicrous, because that just would not have happened in any decent western, it's totally against the "rules of the genre". Near gore-like scenes like this don't fit into a western, and it doesn't have anything to do with "widening the boundaries" of the genre to put in repulsive scenes like this one.
As I already mentioned, on top of all that Crowe is totally miscast. Not for a second do I believe his "character" as an outlaw, he just looks "too good", too well-fed with his puffy face (Mr. Crowe, stop eating junk food!) and too contemporary with his "I don't like fat" (haha!) eating-habits. Of course somebody like him cites the bible and tries to philosophize, which probably should establish the intellectual side of the evil. Yeah, in "modern"-day Hollywood it has become kinda "politcal correct" to have the bad guy being a misunderstood intellectual with a hard upbringing ... hey, come one, that can't be meant serious (but it indeed is!) ?? Of course, compared to that (the lesser star) C. Bale looks like a stupid farmer, whilst in a good script, if there would be some moralizing, then it would fit (T)HIS character ...
And the ending ... well, I think I can skip that, many other posters on the IMDb have already pointed out how silly/stupid/unfitting it is (btw, Elmore Leonard doesn't like the changed ending either).
So ... another re-make which should have been avoided. It's sad, but Hollywood can't do any good genre movies anymore. People, who don't understand the western-genre, should simply stay away from it instead of ruining it even further!
Mr. Majestyk (1974)
Charles BRONSON is WALKING TALL :-))
Unfortunately the IMDb allows only comments up to 1000 words and I was so much taken in by MR. MAJESTYK that my comment got longer, so please go to my entry in the message board, if you want to read the whole review! :-)
I have always considered Charles BRONSON to be the epitome of a man, the icon of man-like behavior, who reigns (together with Steve McQueen and Dean Martin) supreme on the throne of "king of cool". If you check all male heroes in cinema's history you will - in my humble opinion - not find any other actor, who embodies the ideals of manlike behavior better than Charles BRONSON, not from the time when silent films were made up to today. Many have tried, nobody succeeded.
I know I am old-fashioned, but in my opinion there is a set of behaviors how "real men" handle things, they don't whine, they don't wince, they don't give up, they don't offer the other cheek, they don't act like cowards. Real men mind their own business, they do what has to be done, they stand up and fight when necessary, they offer protection, say what's right and act to their beliefs, in short: they WALK TALL. MR. MAJESTYK is a prime example in this action sub-genre defined in 1973 by Phil Karlson's masterpiece WALKING TALL, starring Joe Don Baker.
And "walking tall" (but without a big stick, just his bare hands) is exactly what Charles BRONSON does in this superb action-milestone. "Real men" do not bully others, but when they are bullied, they don't walk away. They try to calm down once or twice, but in case this does not help ... well ... then the one who bullied should wish he would have thought twice before.
Charles BRONSON is Vince MAJESTYK and he minds his own business, all he wants to do is pick his watermelons or have them picked by able hands. He's a watermelon farmer out to have his harvest in. Nothing else is of importance. But unfortunately they won't let him. That's a mistake, something they should not have tried.
Already the opening scene defines the character of Vince Majestyk. After striking opening titles we see THE MAN getting gasoline, while a bunch of Mexican's are looking for a toilet. The owner of the gasoline station won't let them "dirty Mex" in his toilet, so - without uttering too many words - Vince helps them and gets them the key. No violence in this scene, because it ain't necessary. He hires them for picking his melons.
Unfortunately Paul Koslo has other plans, he wants to convince Mr. Majestyk to take his (unqualified) pickers, because they do it for less (1 buck 20 an hour). Mr. Majestyk tries to explain to him, that he picks his own workers, but Koslo won't listen. The next scene could well be titled "Mr. Majestyk resolves a labor-dispute" and he does it well and efficiently. Another superb scene in this wonderful flick.
That brings him to jail shortly, where he meets a local mobster and killer, superbly played by AL LETTIERI, whom movie buffs will remember very well from Peckinpah's THE GETAWAY. Mr. MAJESTYK (1974) is Lettier's last well-known movie, before he died untimely in 1975 of a heart attack (I have no doubt he would have played many more great roles, wouldn't he have died that early). Frank Randa and Vince Majestyk don't get along together that well and Lettieri threatens Bronson to kill him, which is one of the most memorable scenes in action-cinema:
After Randa has uttered his death-threat and THE MAN has asked him calmly "and when is this big event gonna take place?", BRONSON sighs and concludes "seems like there's no use trying to get on your good side ...", stands up, all calmly, and smacks Randa once and so hard in the face, that Randa falls from the chair and - while walking away - Bronson suggests "hey, why don't you call the cops?", whilst Randa's men are helping their boss back on the chair. My God, what a short, efficient and wonderful scene !!! Charles BRONSON does not do this happily or smiling, he just does what has to be done. Better to open the fight than to be hit, better to show the enemy, that he won't run away, that this won't be an easy win (if at all), that he will WALK TALL.
These three scenes more-less define the movie. I don't need to go on telling the story-line, because of course it is clear what will happen. One thing leads to another ... whilst we are enjoying one of veteran-director Richard Fleischers most memorable efforts.
Fleischer, who left us 3 years after Charles BRONSON (2003) took his seat in heaven, is often (unjustified) regarded as a minor action-director, but has in fact given us a string of great movies in the late 60ies and first half of the 70ies: EVERY (!) movie from THE BOSTON STRANGLER (1968) up to MANDINGO (1975) is definitely worth seeing and his earlier and later works are not that bad either (altough of changing quality). When directing Mr. Majestyk Richard Fleischer was on the height of his directorial abilities and I can't see any scene in Mr. Majestyk, which does not fit it's subject: this is a lean and efficient action-movie, directed by a veteran director at the height of his abilities with a striking, absolutely perfectly chosen cast acting just on spot, and this includes everybody, zen-like superstar Charles Bronson and the whole other cast and crew.
ATTENTION ! This comment here is NOT COMPLETE, because the IMDb allows only 1000 words and I wrote more, so please go to my entry in the message board (if you liked to read my few cents) to get the whole review and to be able to comment on it! :-)
Walking Tall (1973)
"Walk softly and carry a big stick."
Unfortunately the IMDb allows only comments up to 1000 words and I was so much taken in by WALKING TALL that my comment got longer, so please go to my entry in the message board, if you want to read the whole review! :-) ... :-))
I love movies with balls and brains and this is one of 'em! :-)
OK, I know this movies has its small shortcomings, because it does not belong to the category of over-financed Hollywood-junk (which is a movie-category established by the film industry (!) in the later 80ies and beginning 90ties consisting of movies costing anywhere from 50 to 200 million bucks and which look like most designer-stuff: well crafted but hollow), but to the category of a small independently financed B-picture. Don't get me wrong, this ain't a movie financed on a shoestring-budget, this is just one of those movies, where the producers did not have million's to burn. It's very decently made and 95% perfect, just here or there you think, well, they could have tried one more take or something similar. But anyway, are you going to the cinema to see a technically perfect movie and receive joy from seeing designer-tailored action-scenes, or do you go to the movies or buy a DVD to enjoy yourself with a movie full of balls and brain? If you belong to the 1st category, I suggest you save the time reading this and forget about watching this flick.
But if you belong to the later category, then this is something for you, you gonna enjoy this roller-coaster-flick! Especially if - as is the case with me - 70ies B-flicks are your cup of tea. They certainly are mine! I won't dwell here on the storyline of WALKING TALL (you can find details elsewhere here), it's probably enough to point out that the title is the program and that our hero's tag-line is "walk softly and carry a big stick" (or - as the old Latins said - "suaviter in modo, fortiter in re"). Yeah, that's what he does and he uses that big stick to clean house very properly.
I do not know, which part of the story is actually "fact" (based on incidents in the life of Buford Pusser) and which parts are fiction (that could be a lot, since the disclaimer reads that this picture is based on "incidents suggested by the life of BP", which sounds like something, but in fact can mean nearly everything or nothing at all), but IF just 50% of the story-line happened in some way or another, this guy must have had enormous luck and 7 lives. Already the incidents, when somebody tries to kill him, amount to at least 5!
The movie is quite brutal, at least for a flick made in the middle of the 70ies. Quite a lot of dead and quite a high number of severely beaten-up bodies, but there ain't that much of it on-screen. Just the first beating of our hero is really tense and was probably only outdone by Mel Gibson's Christ a couple decades later. Of course it looks a bit unrealistic to see Joe Don Baker in a T-shirt so soaked with blood, because anyone loosing that much of it would certainly be dead, but then again Phil Karlson had a point to make and wanted to make sure we'd get it: our hero had been severely wounded by the villains of the town and now he had a task to handle, do what a man has to do, simply WALK TALL!
This movie is pure 70ies magnetism, a wonderful ride into rural Americana, with so many classic (partly stereo-)types, wonderful original characters, hardly any cardboard ones, and actors indeed looking like someone you could meet at any corner of such a town. This is what lifts such classic productions over the Hollywood-product we get today: we do see real people doing things, that could at least be possible (while when we watch Die Hard IV everybody should know that 90% of the action-scenes there could simply never happen, because they are against the laws of physics). Here you got a lot of beat-ups, car-chases, shoot-outs, more beatings, cars driving in houses, all things that normally don't happen if the police does its job, but things that COULD happen, that are physically possible.
And they are staged with zest and verve by a veteran director in the twilight of his career, who took this job at the age of 66 and wanted to give it a last (which then was his penultimate) try. And he does deliver ALL the goods, pulls all triggers. He certainly knew this could very well be his last effort, so why not give the best. With 4 decades (!!) of movie-making experience, Phil Karlson (who also directed THE SILENCERS and THE WRECKING CREW-entries in the lovely Matt Helm-series and quite a couple very good noir's and western) certainly knew how to build up a good storyline and how to stage it as well as possible with whatever budget he had available.
ATTENTION ! This comment here is NOT COMPLETE, because the IMDb allows only 1000 words and I wrote more, so please go to my entry in the message board (if you liked to read my few cents) to get the whole review and to be able to comment on it! :-)
Rolling Thunder (1977)
quintessential state-of-the-art revenge movie
Initially realized for 20th Century Fox and then sold off - due to the high violence-ratio (at least for back then) - to Samual Z. Arkoff's wonderful B-movie company AIP (American International Pictures), which company has brought us so many other wonderful early movies by no others than Jonathan Demme, John Milius, Martin Scorsese, etc ..., ROLLING THUNDER is - alongside with the even better THE OUTFIT - John Flynn's contribution to one of my favorite genres of 70ies action-movies, the revenge-movie. And what a contribution this is!
The fact that it was initially financed by Fox shows in above average production values compared to most (but not all) other AIP pictures and all other departments are top as well.
Scripted by Paul Schrader, who - together with John Milius - was one of the best screenwriters for action-movies/thrillers back then in the later 70ies (YAKUZA, TAXI DRIVER, OBSESSION, HARDCORE), John Flynn had a superbly balanced script at hand and turned it into a prime example just how such a movie should be done: leisurely paced, very laid back, the story emerges naturally from its initial setting of a war-hero coming back from being a POW in Vietnam for app. 4 years, coming back to an alienated wife, who - not sure if she would ever see her husband again - had started an affair with another guy. Before his small family would inevitably fall apart altogether, some hoodlums kill off his wife and son and hurt him badly. After recovering ...
Bill Devane does a magnificent job as Major Charles Rane (his best performance ever, and Devane is usually good with any material he has to work with), and a young Tommy Lee Jones delivers a great laconic early performance as well. Also the supporting cast is well chosen.
Wonderful dialogue as well, very laconic: "Rane: I found them. Johnny: Who? Rane: The men who killed my son. Johnny: I'll just get my gear."
The movie strolls along with well executed action scenes every 15, 20 minutes and believable character development in between. The dialogue is intelligent and easily holds ones interest (no wonder, considering who did the script) and the last shootout is an explosion of utterly believable violence, well executed and staged in an interesting setting, reminding me at GETAWAY (Sam Peckinpah's great achievement, a similar laconic achievement) form a few years earlier.
What I love so much about this kind of 70ies B-flicks is their realistic approach to violence. This is not the high-gloss slow-motion permanent action scenes we get today in over-financed so called "blockbusters" (where it seems to be more important what they did cost, than what they do deliver = hardly anything), with an impossible-to-be-would hero, who handles every completely unbelievable dangerous situation (like in the utterly terrible DIE HARD IV), but what we get here are short, explosive outbursts of violence, who are harsh and gritty and believably dangerous for everybody involved.
Violence is the harsh reality that makes the movie go on, but it is not its main content. The main content of these great action-movies from the 70ies is how people are affected by and handle this violence and not the violence itself, whereas today we get a permanent (tiresome) follow-up of endless explosions and shoot-outs, where people unrealistically jump through the air as if they could fly. Forget about that, get it real: watch ROLLING THUNDER, watch THE OUTFIT, watch CHATO'S LAND, watch DEATH WISH I, then you get the real deal.
I first saw ROLLING THUNDER - as many other movies which stayed with me forever - in late midnight-TV some 20 years ago (when I was app. 17, 18) and I have seen it some 3 or 4 times again since then. It never failed to impress me. And as other rave reviews here show, I am not the only one.
Such a pity John Flynn has left us already and didn't do more movies in the 70ies, which were his prime.
The Moonshine War (1970)
One of the BEST B's ever !
Come on folks, you can't be serious! THE MOONSHINE WAR has only a 5,9 rating on the IMDb ??? 123 voters ?
I really like Alan ALDA, he is such a normal guy, always a reliable actor, very watchable, practically never a bad part, funny, poignant, great timing. Hardly anybody ever looked at his lesser known movies?
THE MOONSHINE WAR is a terrific B-movie! A novel and script only ELMORE LEONARD in his prime could have come up with, paired with a director many would not really call a great one, but here he has delivered his best directing-effort ever! I would have never thought Richard QUINE to be such a cynic to deliver a movie like this, but obviously this director, who had worked with so many stellar 50ies and 60ies casts, was so happy to get a little B-effort to direct, probably with hardly any studio-involvement, that he decided to make one of the MOST CYNICAL movies I have ever seen! And the sheer joy everybody involved had in making this little gem is visible in every frame.
And the cast loves it! Alan ALDA is terrific, as is Richard WIDMARK, who has made a couple of nice movies shortly before and after that, but where he really shines like in his early prime is in MOONSHINE WAR. And nobody having seen this gem will ever be able to forget LEE HAZLEWOOD, who only starred in 4 movies, of which this one is by faaaar the best!
Two reviewers call the performance of Alan ALDA "curiously blank" and "pretty blank" (I think one reviewer copied from the other), but sorry, I can't but disagree: First I think Alan ALDA does a magnificent job and plays his part exactly as wanted by director and script. His role IS the only "normal" (boring ??) one in the sense of being unweired, he is the "backwood boy", the bland guy. Nobody expects anything great from him, which is EXACTLY what makes the ending such a winner: the guy nobody expected to handle the job does exactly that! Marvellous! And second I do not see why everybody in a movie has to be weired? If you do not have any normal guy, but only weirdos in a movie, then where is the counterpart, where is any balance? One has to have at least one normal guy to make the oddballs even more odd. Alda does this and he does it magnificent. I think this is also HIS BEST movie.
OK, it is brutal, no doubt, but so what? Moonshining was never a "profession" for cowards and the times back then were not the most peaceful, but what the heck. Just that Alan ALDA is in it, does not mean it has to be a cozy harmless comedy. It certainly is a comedy anyway, but a very brutal one and from what I can see, Alan ALDA loves to be part of it as much as anybody else in this cast. Just look at this classical ending: just wonderful! This ain't a family-movie, nothing for the kids to enjoy on a Sunday evening, unless Dad wants to risk a war with his wife, but that is exactly the reason why this is nothing short of a MUST-SEE for every movie-lover.
Folks, give this another viewing, this is up there with the best B's ever made, up there with THE OUTFIT, ROLLING THUNDER, DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY, VANISHING POINT, POINT BLANK, LOLLY MADONNA WAR, ... etc. etc. etc.
Tarantino loves this one and so do I! I wonder who discovered this gem first? :-) I saw it in my middle teenage years the first time, which is 25 years ago, of course on TV in one of those wonderful midnight viewings, where such oddball movies were shown in a regular way back then, where I discovered most of the great B's in movie history. Tarantino is a few years "older" than I am, so he might have discovered it first, but then again maybe not. :-) Anyway, that is not really important.
What is important is that this great effort is not covered anywhere by any top critic yet. But this is perfect Danny Peary-stuff! The guy who wrote these wonderful books about cult movies, ya know. This one has a small cult following, although it does not show on the IMDb yet, but all my mates and every oddball-movie lover I ever talked about with knows and loves it, so this is a CULT MOVIE, even if the followers are not yet that many. Danny, write another cult movie book and this one HAS TO BE covered there. And I can send ya a list of others that need coverage! :-)
Call me biased, but I rate this as high as 10! I wish there would be more flicks like this out there to discover. If you know any comparable one, drop be a line, please.
One Eyed King (2001)
damn good sleeper, check it out !
Yes, the cast and the movie are damn good. I just watched it a few days ago, not expecting much, but I was pretty surprised. Interesting engrossing story, great acting, this is a little cheaply made but well directed and superbly played sleeper, it will get its followers.
NOT as good as STATE OF GRACE, but also not that much worse.
Recently I saw for example the re-make of ASSAULT ON PRECINT 13, which is utterly awful, as worse as it can get.
Compared to junk like this ONE EYED KING is a real treat, something to look out for and certainly enjoy.
I even found it better - because of being more realistic - than the high-speed Marin Scorsese junk "THE DEPARTED", which won Oscars for delivering hardly anything.
Nice little gem, this ONE EYED KING !
Flamingo Road (1949)
Sydney Greenstreet dominates this !!
Sydney Greenstreet is THE MAN ! Honestly, I can't remember any movies I saw him in (I did not see all, but many), where he did not dominate at least all the scenes where he was in, effortlessly in fact ! Even in "The Maltese Falcon" Bogart paled when Greenstreet was on-screen.
In many movies he even dominated all the other scenes as well, where he was not on-screen.
The guy made a little over 20 movies, according to the IMDb, in less than a decade, from 1941 to 49 to be precise, and FLAMINGO ROAD was his penultimate (he was even in RUTHLESS, one of the most underrated masterpieces of the 40ies !!!).
Just take the intro: it's less than 5 minutes into the movie, that you see a car parking, a guy leaving it. You just see his back. What a back! You don't even have to see the guy up front, to know who he is. Massive.
But what would YOU expect ?!!! Michael Curtiz, one of THE directors of that time (if not THE director of them all - look at his list of achievements) was at it. This director clearly knew not only how to get the best out of the whole cast, but also how to put them on screen the best way possible, how to introduce them properly. Greenstreet was sort-of-a-legend as character actor then already, and this was the best way to introduce him, just to show his huge back.
Up he walks a veranda and gets his massive figure into an armchair, intending to put is southern hat at the table besides the armchair, but ... no table there. Not in a loud voice, just casual, he calls the (then usually black and fittingly) servant to tell him that nearly would it have happened that (again!) his hat might have fallen onto the ground and HE (= Greenstreet) would have had to pick it up, like it had "once" (!) happened in the past. He says it casual and without anger, but it is easy to see that this must have been a major disappointment to him - regardless how many years ago this happened, could have been a decade as well -, which he still remembers like the day it happened, like the day when he had his hat fallen in the dust and had to pick it up.
Needless to say the servant had the table aside the armchair just seconds later.
Enters Zachary Scott, a competent actor as well (also in RUTHLESS, by the way!), the deputy-sheriff, and asked by Greenstreet what he'd done the whole day, replies "been fishing". He'd actually do something for his money, says Scott, if it would lead to anything (clearly implying it would not), but hinting he'd even be sorry for doing nothing. Says Greenstreet he should not (!) worry 'bout that, there would be many other people in - whatever the name of the town was - who would get/earn a lot more money for doing a lot less than he's doing (= fishing the day, smile).
Come on, ain't that a scene ?!!! Ever seen something like this in a recent movie, where a guy says not to worry about being lazy ?? Nope, that's against common sense today (poor times we're living in, aren't we?!).
All that is delivered almost casually, without any effort, completely easy, just amazing !! This alone is worth watching the (whole) movie, but there are many more great Greenstreet-scenes coming, more than I can recite here. Watch it !! This movie gets a 10 out of 10 for having such a fantastic role for Greenstreet, but the movie itself is also pretty good (would rate it 7 or 8). All the other cast is VERY competent, the story holds interest throughout, the ending is a little by-the-numbers but satisfying, all in all a great achievement and NOT a minor in anybodys career.
As I said, watch it, you won't be disappointed (at least if you love good decent movies and can watch a black-and-white one, smile).
The Mechanic (1972)
BRONSON at his peak: one of THE action-movies of all time !!!
The early 70ies were the years, when CHARLES BRONSON as leading man could do nothing wrong. Every single movie he made in those years from 1970's CITTA VIOLENTA to 1975's BREAKHEART PASS was a commercial winner all the way and most of them were artistically successful as well. He worked with the best of western- and action-directors then (Michael Winner, Don Siegel, Terence Young, Tom Gries, Richard Fleischer, John Sturges, Sergio Sollima) and they usually turned out their best efforts with THE MAN starring in the leading role. The movies THE MAN turned out then one after another are now considered among the best of its kind ever made.
THE MECHANIC is clearly no exception to this rule. On the contrary, among his superb movies of these (sadly long gone) days, THE MECHANIC shines as one of the best. Some even consider THE MECHANIC to be the best movie Mr. BRONSON ever made! Personally I would no go that far, but it is definitely one of the best five he ever made, the others being HARD TIMES aka THE STREETFIGHTER (please also check my comment there), CHATO'S LAND (again, please check my comment there), of course DEATH WISH I and MR. MAJESTYK.
Actually THE MECHANIC is more than just a mere action-flick, it is a socio-economical study of the lives and times of a top-level professional hit-man at the peak of his power and his connections and ultimately fateful troubles with the mafia and mafia-structures. It is a so matter-of-fact-made movie that one can not deny its "documentary-style".
BRONSON looks GREAT as the "mechanic", the top-hit-man, the "killer of killers"! He's superbly clothed, always apt to the needs of the scene, wears suits and tie here and there, casual clothes in other occasions and an awesome leather-jacket in other memorable scenes. And the hair-cut is awesome as well (when have you seen a professional hit-man with that long hair?). BRONSON hardly ever looked better. When he left us in 2003, newspapers over here often chose pictures of him in his prime from the early 70ies, some taken from THE MECHANIC, him holding the ultimately fateful glass of wine in his huge hands. Memorable, ain't it? :-)
Back to the picture itself:
Right from the beginning THE MECHANIC is filled with awesome frames. Just take the first one: one sees just blue sky. Suddenly - seemingly from the nowhere - Bronsons stony face fills the screen (one has to see this on a BIG screen!). Jerry Fieldings superbly fitting music (now on on CD by Intrada) starts right the same second. We see THE MAN entering a building. A short greeting follows (which is the only word spoken in the first app. 15 minutes). Then the professional does his first job, knocks off his first victim, whose murder is disguised as a gas explosion, without emotion, just a job to be done. Then the murder of Harry McKenna follows, where Bishop shows no outward regret for his actions, putting the brutal demands of his job over his friendship to Harry.
ARTHUR BISHOP is certainly no average hit-man. He lives in a swell mansion up at Mulholland drive, the paintings on this wall are reproductions of Hironimus Boschs' work, when he plans the best way to do his jobs = killings, he listens to classical music, the furniture is well chosen, he loves a glass of wine after a well-done job. A man with manners and good taste. Not a dumb-ass, a clever hit-man, one with brains. His Dad already worked for the mafia (as a judge, in fact). A man with roots.
Emotionless, tough and quiet (but when he says something, then it's well thought-over), he is nevertheless intelligent enough to know, that this ain't a job he can do forever, that he is in the twilight of his career. So he decides to take a companion/apprentice, young J.-M. Vincent (in his best role), to teach him the trade and to have somebody to be able to rely on in dangerous situations. THE MAN ain't that young anymore, a 2nd man could be a needed asset, a backup in dangerous situations.
The mafia disapproves of this, but Arthur Bishop is strong-willed ...
Bronson and Vincent fill their parts to perfection and these ain't easy parts. Character development, not too usual for this genre, is a strong point of this movie together with a handful of superbly staged action-sequences. At a running-time of a little over 90 minutes, there is more happening in THE MECHANIC than in many other movies, and still you are not watching a hectic movie (like most action flicks today are). As another admirer wrote "'The Mechanic' is a tightly-bound drama that uses everything - dialog, emotion, physical action - with stunning economy. Like a tightly-written novel, the film sheds all unnecessary padding and only gives us what is absolutely important to the storyline."
This ain't a lightweight picture, this is prime stuff. Every frame is well-chosen, every scene has its meaning, Mr. Winner clearly put a lot of effort into this one (as well as his other efforts from the early- to mid-70ies - Winner became a slob only later on). There are not many pictures, which one can watch every second year and still be filled with thrill, but THE MECHANIC accomplishes this, it is a movie "that updates itself each time you watch it".
Watch it ! :-)