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JoeytheBrit

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1346 reviews in total 
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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Randy Re-mounts, 11 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If it's a 1950s B-Western it must be a Randy Scott movie, and sure enough our stolid hero makes a typically energetic entrance, flying backwards through a saloon's swing doors, launched there by the fist of an opponent who, rest assured, quickly comes to regret throwing that punch. Scott's a railroad engineer hired to build a track by a banker who is growing a little fed up with having his bullion shipments hijacked by a gang known as the 'Champagne Bandits' for their peculiar habit of feeding their victims picnic food and champagne while they carry out their robberies.

It's a pretty routine story, efficiently told by Andre de Toth, a director whose talent always outshone the budgets he was given to work with - although that was, apparently, the way he liked it. Not only does Scott have to contend with the attempts of nefarious A. J. 'Big Jack' Davis, ably played by Raymond Massey, the mine owner behind the robberies, to foil his engineering project, he also has problems with his half-brother who loves the woman who only has eyes for Scott.

It's nothing special, and is instantly forgettable, but it will probably keep you entertained while you're watching it.

Be Careful What You Wish For..., 9 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Max and his wife want a child, but after three unsuccessful years of trying, they're starting to get on one another's nerves a little. Then Max sees an advert for a Professor who guarantees results, and the desperate couple pay him a visit. He supplies them with a potion which has far better results than they could have expected, and by the final frame Max finds himself completely surrounded by a bevy of caterwauling babes. The story's quite a simple one, and seems to be going nowhere for a while, but it's actually just working its way up to a fairly amusing punch line. More a filmed joke than a comedy film, it's worth six minutes of your time.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Unconvincing, 9 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I don't know much about F. Scott Fitzgerald, other than he was hailed as a literary genius even as his self-destructive alcoholism ensured that his would be a light that burnt only half as long as it should have. But this typically lush 20th Century Fox biopic based on the book by Sheila Graham (portrayed here by Deborah Kerr) bears all the hallmarks of a Hollywood whitewash. The film takes place in Fitzgerald's final years, during which he is toiling away in Hollywood in order to pay medical and college fees for his schizophrenic wife and daughter (whom we never see). He's your typically insecure genius, driven to the bottle by every knock back, and sending the dubiously prim Graham into a right old tizzy each time he falls off the wagon.

Fitzgerald is played by Gregory Peck, an actor who, for me, has always been the definition of wooden. I saw him play MacArthur a couple of days ago, and aside from the drunken scenes in Beloved Infidel, he played both parts in exactly the same way, which was the way he seemed to play every part he ever had. Kerr's a better actor than Peck, but she doesn't seem the type to whom someone like Fitzgerald would be attracted. Eddie Albert is also in the film, but only pops in and out sporadically like someone who's had a lot of his scenes cut.

On the plus side, the drunken scenes are as excruciatingly painful as they're obviously intended to be, and will probably touch a nerve in anyone who has had to suffer the embarrassment and apprehension of having an alcoholic partner. Only in these scenes does Peck raise his game and provided a reasonably convincing performance. The final scenes are also effective - Fitzgerald's death is one of the most convincing I've seen from a film of this era, and Kerr's grief is undeniably touching. Overall though, the film fails to convince it is either accurate or heartfelt.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Fathers, 9 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A young Kirk Douglas looks a natural in the saddle in his debut western, ably directed by the under-rated Raoul Walsh. He plays a US Marshal who breaks up a lynching party and vows to deliver the near-victim, a cattle rustler (Walter Brennan) suspected of murdering the son of one of the party, to the nearest court - which just happens to be on the other side of a desert. If that wasn't bad enough, the father of the murdered man promises Douglas he'll never reach his destination, and the suspect's daughter (Virginia Mayo) also does her best to foil his plans.

The plot is bolstered by a character study which probes the relationship between father and son/daughter. Mayo's father is a decent man capable of committing petty crime to make ends meet who nevertheless commands his daughter's unwavering loyalty; the grieving father - a wealthy cattle baron - treats his surviving son like the hired help with predictable results, and Douglas is haunted by the belief that he inadvertently brought about his own father's death. It's these dynamics that drive the story, and while the inevitable climax can be guessed a good hour from the end of the film, the journey there is engrossing enough to keep the audience interested.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Der Seaside, 8 February 2012

IMDb categorises this early German film as a documentary, but given its opening and closing shots, in which we see a small, buffoonish cameraman clowning around, it could also qualify as a comedy. The film is about five minutes long, and sandwiched between these aforementioned shots we see a collection of scenes of bathers on a beach. The majority of them grin at the camera like loons and follow it around like filings attracted to a magnet. It's difficult to imagine that many of those captured in such a carefree mood would, just four years later (although the year of filming is open to debate), be dying in the trenches of WWI. As with so many of these early movies, it has more value as a historical and social document than as filmed entertainment.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Big Chief Charlie Smith..., 8 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Likable Doc McCrea has a problem on his hands as he edges towards middle age in a small Oklahoman town five years after his wife died giving birth to their daughter while en-route to California. Two women have set their sights on him, you see. One of them is a sexy eighteen-year-old Indian squaw (Gloria Talbott) with a narrow waist, bronze skin and big, alluring eyes; the other's an earthy, comparatively sophisticated and sensuous woman in probably her early thirties (Barbara Hale); the widow of a cattle rancher, she's not short of a bob or two. If only, I couldn't help thinking as I watched this solidly constructed B-western, I had to contend with such problems. I could happily spend years wrestling with both of them.

Of course, not everything's plain sailing. Another cattle baron, the dastardly Cass Dobie (Brad Dexter) has discovered that the local land is nothing but sod lying on a sea of oil, and he wants it all for himself. In the disputes that follow, the squaw's dad, a fully assimilated native American with the unlikely name of Charlie Smith, kills Dobie's brother in self defence, and McCrea finds himself compelled to get involved.

The Oklahoman is distinguished by its relatively liberal portrayal of Indians - living peaceably alongside the white man, they are all depicted in a positive light - and a fairly sober look at the topic of racism. This being a 1950s B-movie, the writing does little to explore the issues it raises with anything approaching the level of insight this kind of subject requires, but it still manages to hold the viewer's interest even as it winds its way towards a thoroughly predictable climax.

Red State (2011)
0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Liked it., 8 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I liked this movie, even though its flaws were plain to see. First of all, it seems to suffer a kind of schizophrenia as it switches from teen comedy to teens-in-peril to horror to action-thriller, and finally (arguably) revealing itself as a satire in which those who survive are made to look foolish or misguided. While this might make the film a little messy (as many here seem to have described it) that doesn't prevent it from being compelling from start to finish. Michael Parks and John Goodman give unforgettable performances as the malevolent leader of a religious cult (who looks a bit like how you'd imagine Richard Branson's evil brother would look) and the ATF agent assigned to take him out respectively. Some of the dialogue borders on the sublime, while the situations - while admittedly outlandish - always manage to remain believable.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Victoria Heist Movie, 7 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The First Great Train Robbery has the distinction of an unusual setting (Victorian-era Britain) for a heist movie, and benefits greatly from the presence of Lesley-Anne Down who, while no great shakes as an actress, makes an absolutely stunning woman. She plays the mistress of Sean Connery, a master thief who hatches a plan to become the first thief to steal gold bullion from a moving train. His sidekick is Donald Sutherland, sporting a dodgy British/Irish accent, who provides most of the film's comic moments. To be fair, the film works better as a straightforward heist movie than a comedy, but the touches of humour at least prevent the story from becoming bogged down in detail.

Probably the film's biggest drawback is Connery's character, who is a little too cold and remote to root for. He has no endearing traits, and you get the impression that he wouldn't think twice about double-crossing his partners, even though you're never given any solid reason for thinking it. As with all heist movies, the robbery itself is the best part of the film, and Connery impresses as he performs his own stunts on top of a speeding train as it passes under a succession of frighteningly low bridges. It's not the greatest heist movie you'll ever see, but it's an entertaining enough time-filler.

MacArthur (1977)
0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Military Man, 7 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

All nations have their heroes, but few of them are of interest to residents of other countries, and such is the case with General MacArthur. The name's familiar, but the details of his life are not, and to be honest I still don't know a lot more about the man MacArthur than I did before watching this over-long drama, which focuses on only a decade or so of his life. Peck plays the General in his usual wooden style, when you'd expect the man to be a little more larger than life. He's depicted as a supreme strategist who clashes with his President during the Korean war, and while the film appears to sympathise with him, it also portrays him as something of an egotist, obliquely comparing himself to the likes of Alexander, Napoleon and Caesar (at one point we actually see him wrapped in towels, toga-style). We learn virtually nothing of his personal life, nor of the earlier events in his life which surely must have shaped him into becoming the finished article we see on the screen.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
In the Dark, 7 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Gene Hackman plays Harry Moseley, a typically down-at-heel private detective, who misses or misreads all the clues in a convoluted case because of his preoccupation with his cheating spouse. Initially, the case appears straightforward: locate and bring back the runaway teenage daughter of the slatternly, alcoholic wife of a movie producer. He finds the daughter - a precocious Melanie Griffith - easily enough, but when she then turns up murdered he realises there's more to the situation than he originally suspected.

It's all a bit confusing to be honest, as if director Arthur Penn and writer Alan Sharp aren't too concerned about how the mystery plays out as long as the developments contribute to the filling out of Harry Moseley's character. Like us, Harry's in the dark about what's really going on, a pawn in the hands of the other players. The title is a play on words; at one point Harry describes a 1922 chess game in which the sacrifice of a queen results in check by knight in three moves. Only the chess player failed to see the move and lost the match. At the end of the film, a wounded Harry lies wounded and helpless in a boat travelling in circles. The parallels are clear, but there's little that makes much sense.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of good things about the film. It possesses that unmistakable atmosphere of 1970s crime movies, a kind of jaded, cynical outlook that suggests the sleaze is all around us, under the surface. Gene Hackman gives a first class performance as the hapless detective. The editing, though, is a little too abrupt for my liking and seems to belong in a less accomplished movie.


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