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92 in the Shade (1975)
Don't miss this little treat of a film. If you liked The Hired Hand, this has the same laid back style that works great for a Southern story. But it's not so much the story. It's the ripe dialog and a cast of Great American Actors that make this one to catch. Warren Oates and Harry Dean Stanton make a great team of ornery fishing guides. Burgess Meredith has a great role and makes the best of it. Margot Kidder looks absolutely great here too. But Joe Spinell is worth the price of admission in a small role. The cinematography is experimental like The Hired Hand but is not as successful. Overall, this film is a gentle surprise and would be perfect for a warm evening. Recommended without hesitation.
it remains profound
KOYAANISQATSI remains a profound statement over twenty years after its original release. the point then is the point now.
one of the great things about this film is that while the intrusion of man is initially presented as profane and abhorrent, ultimately there is found a symmetry to the human experience that is as organic as anything found in the `natural' world. i used to be tempted to perceive humans as the only species on the plant that didn't fit, that threw everything out of balance, as it were. but over time it has become apparent that even the blight of man on earth is a naturally occurring phenomenon. the evolution of life is the destruction of life. the circle is unbroken.
Las Vegas Lady (1975)
I Deserved It
Stuart Whitman made one of his very best movies in 1976 (Magnum Special per Tony Saitta, Una), the same year as Las Vegas Lady. I was hoping for a couple of things from LVL; a little of that kick-butt Stu and some cheezy 70's Vegas sights. I got a little - very little - Vegas cheez and virtually no Stu action. He hits a fat guy in the stomach.
This hang dog production is simply an embarrassment. We're talking Amateur Hour, folks, in all departments. There's a little swimming pool near-nudity, some implied violence, and a lot of non-suspense.
Stella Stevens' two female cohorts in crime are Lynne Moody (pretty bad) and Linda Scruggs (really bad) and the main evil guy (George DiCenzo) is severely lacking in menace.
La jena di Londra (1964)
I like this one.
HYENA OF LONDON is a gothic mystery very much along the lines of THE BLANCHEVILLE MONSTER aka HORROR which came out about the same time. I'd call it part of the cinema of meaningful glances.
For fans of Tony Kendall, here he plays an ineffectual hero for a change. He's the secret lover of the local doctor's daughter, whose house is full of conniving servants and suspicious characters, like Luciano Pigozzi. They all stay very busy lying, cheating, and sneaking around the old dark house. Mysterious murders begin to occur in the vicinity and everyone points fingers at each other until the twist ending reveals an actual surprise.
This is an atmospheric, nicely photographed trifle that I always enjoy watching but never seem to remember much about later.
Night of the Lepus (1972)
The ultimate eco-horror
This has to be the epitome of the eco-horror subgenre. The absurdity of it all makes this a favorite amongst aficionados.
These are the cutest monsters imaginable and they exist in one of the purest 70's universes you'll ever see. You get Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh, and Rory Calhoun along with all those big bell-bottoms and big cars in a desert setting. What more could you ask for?
Don't miss this fever dream of a movie.
This true delight is recommended
What we have here is a delightful French romantic comedy with espionage overtones that even the most spy-hardened viewer will find diverting. Jean Marais is a married businessman with the unlikely moniker of Stanislas Everest Dubois who stumbles into true love and the danger of espionage in the same night.
Marais inadvertently picks up the wrong coat while on his first date with Genevieve Page and thus begins the sequence of events that leads him into a world of humorous cops, dimwitted spies, curmudgeon cab drivers, and other sundry characters that cause him much frustration.
Marais is a winning hero who deftly carries the film and Page is cute and clever as the love interest. Gaia Germani has a small role as a double agent who meets her end in Marais' apartment.
There are more throwaway lines and gags here that work than can be found in many out and out comedies. The score by Georges Delerue is unobtrusive but also unmemorable. The finale of this film charges wholeheartedly into improbability but all is forgiven by the viewer won over so completely from the start.
La peau de torpedo (1970)
A premier ambience film
This, one of the premier ambience films of the genre, appears at the end of the sixties cycle of spy films. It is a serious, even dour film that focuses equally on both sides of the espionage fence with sympathies for neither. Here, spying is a business but it is not without its emotions, albeit suppressed and discarded as required, and death is almost always a matter of honor. When death is unexpected it is also unfair, a matter of happenstance that triggers far reaching consequences.
The plot consists of good guys and bad guys trying to out maneuver each other while both are after Stephane Audran. The complexities of the film extend beyond plotting. The `good' guys in the film are hardly more than cyphers; they play the espionage odds, sometimes winning, sometimes losing, without developing traits one would associate with human character. The `bad' guys on the other hand, are well rounded people that suffer and consider but do their jobs anyway.
Suicide, the controlled death, plays a large part in the film. It is a means of conquering enemies, expressing love, admitting defeat. It's those that live on in their confusion and misery that we must pity. This fine mood piece is complimented by a melancholy score by Francois de Roubaix which captures the ennui without bringing too much attention to itself.
Cheap thrills for spy enthusiasts
The film opens with a nasty scene: a young boy uses his toy car to blow up two men and a blowgun to murder a third. This killer kid is none other than Rex Miller who professes to want to grow up to become a secret agent. And indeed he grows up to be Guy Madison, a spaghetti western star who has the distinction of being in two of the strangest spy flicks of the era; this one and The Devil's Man (67). Here, Madison, as Rex, is a secret agent working for an undisclosed country when a bizarre plot is uncovered to take over the world by dosing important `nerve centers' with potent LSD.
The film postures itself as being anti-drug of course. The LSD trips represented are only somewhat hallucinatory using minor tricks of lighting or superimposition to portray the wild effects of the drug. There isn't much imagination (or money) spent on convincing us of the horrors of LSD so these sequences are unfortunately rather dull and repetitive which in turn makes the drug seem like a boring way to amuse oneself.
The best line in the film is spoken by the villain, Mister X, as he describes his international crime syndicate: `We're a secret organization with a strange name: ECHO.' Finally, the film boasts an excellent sound track by Egisto Macchi. There's plenty of catchy tunes and thrilling motifs for spy music fans that easily outclass the visuals.
Anónima de asesinos (1966)
Ready for action and good tunes?
American Wayde Preston is better known as a star of spaghetti westerns but like many of his Euro-comrades he had to try his hand at the spy game. This would be his only foray into the genre but based on the results he could have made a career of it. Preston's easy going personality works well towards defining the unruffled spy archetype. Preston is agent Jerry Land who travels from Madrid to Rome to New York to Beirut and back again several times in his quest to bed as many women as possible and, oh yes, to solve the case.
You know you're in for a good time when a film opens with a car chase, especially when a Piero Umiliani soundtrack wails on as a car goes over a cliff and explodes. The camera surveys the wreckage, then zooms in on some false teeth uppers, the grisly but humorous detritus of death. Turns out those teeth house a hidden camera! Cool.
The film has its share of violence and torture too. The fights are choreographed well and feature lots of judo and karate-type action. Preston gets the best of the multiple (and recognizable) henchmen he frequently takes on. Throw in some good location shooting in Beirut and that cookin' Umiliani soundtrack and you have an above average actioner worth investigating.
Baraka sur X 13 (1966)
More middle of the road spyjinx
Gerard Barray must protect a scientist and his new invention. The invention is another super fuel that will `advance the exploration of space by ten years' and the plot devolves to stopping the bad guys from blowing up a factory where the invention is being worked on.
Barrray is actually quite good in the role of a secret agent. He has the qualities required to seamlessly blend humor and determination and his dark good looks are softened by an impish gleam in his eye. He previously played a spy in Gibraltar (64). His love interest here is Manya played by the lovely Sylva Koscina who graced several other spy pictures as well. Here she plays a nurse who falls for Barray and joins him not only in bed but on several adventurous episodes. The more of her the better.
The bulk of the Georges Garvarentz score consists of an annoying zither theme but there is one nice jazz tune played on a radio. So, overall this is an enjoyable film even if has been made nonsensical by the dubbing into English.