Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Genghis Khan (1965)
The Final Shot for the Classical Epic Spectaculars
Perhaps it was after the entertaining and lavish "El Cid" (1961) that classical epic films of the 50's and early 60'started to fade away as big money making films. "Cleopatra" (1963) and "The Fall of the Roman Empire" (1964) -both with some good moments but not great films all in all- showed that things were not being done right in the genre.
"Ghengis Khan" is definitely a bad movie. Leaving aside historical accuracy -there's not much in the film-, it doesn't even work as a high adventure freely based on the Mongol king's whereabouts.
The cast is wrongly chosen starting with Omar Sharif -as the Khan himself- who can't bring power and credibility to the character at any moment. Francoise Dorleac appears as a contemporary woman, in her looks as well as in her personality. Such good actors as James Mason and Robert Morley are totally out of place and even funny here disguised as Chinese characters. Henry Levin's direction lacks imagination and strengh all along as also does the script.
There are no highlights whatsoever in this cheap-looking and dull film that even makes John Wayne's western-like "The Conqueror" (1953) about the same character appear as an acceptable product.
In all, Levin's "Ghemgis Khan" has many chances to be the worst film ever made in its kind.
Depends on Your Focus
If you take "300" as an historical film about the heroic battle of the Greek (Spartans really) against the Persians at the Thermopylae pass back in 480 BC many items won't fit and it won't work. If you consider the movie as a fantasy in ancient Greece based on real events and people it turns out as a an enjoyable and entertaining product no doubt.
The main features here are a splendid photography, light -and somehow intense- colour, action sequences carefully shot, some bizarre characters -such as Ephialtes or Xerxes himself- and a couple of mythological animals, all that clearly shows this is a comic book put into an epic film.
On this second focus "300" is surely worth a watch if only to see what "computarized" special effects can do for action movies in our days.
Il gatto a nove code (1971)
Not Argento's Best , but Interesting and Enjoyable
"The Cat O'Nine Tales" is not one of the most celebrated thrillers of Italian director Dario Argento, and yet the film is a very good one in its kind. The plot is rather simple and entertaining -several mysterious murders related with a scientific institute in Rome that deals with human criminal behaviour based on genetics- and it is skilfully handled all along by the director up to the final disclosure.
By the time of this movie (his second one, of the early 70's), Argento still appears more controlled than in his later works were he focused specially on the murder and killing sequences far more sadistic and bloody ("Tenebbre" / 1982 and "Opera" / 1987, for instance); but, on the other hand, his plots were more elaborated and inspired like in "The Bird with the Cristal Plumage" / 1970 or "Deep Red" / 1975).
The masterful handling of cameras and the peaks of high tension that became a trade mark in the Roman director's career will not be missed in this one (the murder sequence at the train station as seen from the eyes of the killer is excellent). The usual internationally recognized actors in the leading roles -surely to benefit world wide markets- and the local (Italian) performers in the supporting parts are also found here; and though acting was never one of Argento's principal items to attend to, the presence of the always convincing and reliable Karl Malden and the correct James Franciscus bring to this film an extra "plus" (in spite of an interesting but wooden Catherine Spaak).
All in all, "The Cat O'Nine Tails" turns out as a fine and most entertaining product in its genre that will surely not disappoint thriller/horror fans.
The Big Gamble (1961)
The story of three people (Stephen Boyd, Juliette Greco and David Wayne) that go all the way from Ireland to the Ivory Coast in Africa to put on a truck business there.
Real action is supposed to start when they take a cargo of beer by truck through half the dark continent, but it never quite does; in fact the film recalls one of those current PC games for kids where they mustremove lots of obstacles in order to reach a final goal; here they have to free the truck from the Custom house, put aside a huge down tree across the road, go backwards in a thin pass with a mountain and an abyss on each side, avoid a crook who wants to steal their cargo, cross a wide growing river with the vehicle and go down full speed on a narrow road without brakes, but in fact powerful action and thrills never appear.
Stephen Boyd does well as the leader of the group but doesn't add much to his acting career with this one. Juliette Greco looks sensual and interesting as his wife and David Brian just goes along.
Definitely not one of prolific and versatile director Richard Fleischer's best products, perhaps "The Big Gamble" stands a watch but no much more than that.
Plein soleil (1960)
An Excellent European Thriller
Tom Ripley is the poor friend of the wealthy and arrogant Philippe Greenleaf who spends his time sailing on the Mediterranean sea's coasts of Italy in his magnificent vessel. Philippe enjoys himself by humiliating Tom whenever he can and making him feel the power that money brings. Tom envies his friend's easy life and also his pretty girlfriend Marge Duval who sails along with them and finally he kills Philippe and takes his place as a rich man by achieving the sinister and carefully plan he has developed with such purpose. Things get complicated for the killer from then on but he manages to go on with his profitable impersonation and sentimental approach to the dead man's girlfriend.
The film is skilfully handled by director René Clement and interest doesn't fall till the end, the colorful and beautiful Italian coast on the Mediterranean sea brings a great background to the story and the final sequence when Tom's perfect plan is spoiled is excellent and memorable.
Alain Delon renders one of his best performances ever as the resentful and no scruples Tom, well supported by Maurice Ronnet as Philippe and Marie Laforet as Marge. These are the characters the whole plot is about and the rest of the cast is there just for need.
Most entertaining and made with intelligence, this is thriller to see. An 8 out of 10 to me.
Hurricane Smith (1952)
Just Light Entertainment with a dull John Ireland
"Hurricane Smith" is a typical sort of pirates adventure with the classic group against group fight for a buried treasure in an island. Director Jerry Hopper can't count in his credits a good or memorable film and shorlty after this one he turned to television where he seemed to find his right place (he directed episodes of the most remarkable series of the 60's). But big screen adventures where perhaps too much for him.
"Hurricane Smith" is colourful and fast moving -which is good- but such a standard plot needed a more intense and daring direction (the final confrontation between the good and the bad guys in the island is definitely common and lacks strength and impact.
The cast fills the level of the film in general. Ivonne de Carlo is acceptable as Luana and she had an interesting screen presence. It is also amusing to have in the supporting cast such mean regulars as Lyle Bettger and Henry Brandon. On the other hand, John Ireland in the title role doesn't seem a good choice and he hurts the product. Ireland didn't quite make it to stardom because of a sort of common and not too charismatic personality; in fact, he will probably be remembered mostly for his supporting performances in some big budgets as "Spartacus" or "55 Days in Peking" or second villains such as the hoodlum in "Party Girl" or the gunfighter in John Sturges western "Gunfight at OK Corral". But my feeling is that he could not sustain a film as a the lead performer; a more vivacious and sympathetic actor as Hurricane Smith would probably have raised this film a bit (Stewart Granger, Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis or some other back then).
"Hurricane Smith" stands as a just average product in its genre; no more than a 5 out of 10 to me.
The Blob (1958)
A Night in Fear
This sure is an interesting little horror movie in the line of the many that were released in the 50's in the genre.
A sort of a creeping eating-man blob that grows constantly falls from outer-space and menaces the lives of the people of a small community somewhere in the USA. A couple of teenagers (a young Steve McQueen and Aneta Corsaut) konow about the menace but adults don't take them seriously. The whole story takes place through a single night.
McQueen's presence raises this product; though he wasn't a star back then, you could tell he was on his way (he got his real kick right after this one as Vin in the successful "The Nagnificent Seven").
Not very prolific director Irvin S. Yeaworth does it acceptable here with a most simple and prolix handling. Though the special effects that give life to the monster would seem perhaps funny for today's computer standards I remember they worked well for kids like me when I saw "The Blob" when it was released in theatres. A color and an unusual and sticky -for this kind of films- main song also helps the product and its originality
All in all, this is an unpretentious horror/sci-fi movie worth a watch at least and an example of what the genre had to offer back then.
A Good Girl this Salome
Giving it a different focus from what we where taught about hebrew princess Salome, William Dieterle faces this biblical Epic. She is presented here as an innocent victim of his evil mother's wishes.
The film is watchable -just once- if you like the genre and consider it was made in the early 50¨s; but no more than that. There is an abuse of fake decorates that look cheap at times, the script is just standard and the acting performances are uneven.
Charles Laughton gives an interesting performance as Herod, Judith Anderson looks mean enough as his revengeful wife and Stewart Granger fits enough in a dull character as a Christian roman officer. Alan Badel -John the Baptist- is out of line as a sort of a possessed fanatic transmitting more fear than sympathy. Rita Hayworth looks splendid and does acceptably as the princess of the title in a movie planned to serve her beauty (the famous seven vales dance is a highlight and she looks sensual and most attractive there).
A small product in its genre, "Salome" is just a watchable film for its times and no more.
King Kong (2005)
A Cartoon Version of the Giant Gorilla
The all-computer special effects of this version of "King Kong" are really something! I don't know but I think it is too much. The film looks more like a sort of serious cartoon (or something like that) instead of a story with real people; the movements and situarions are so artificial and unnatural.
The lady in distress,the hero and the important people go through everything (long falls, accidents, smashes) and they survive to go on again and again! (just like Tom and Jerry, remember?). The final sequence with the planes looks also unreal and "cartoon-like".
One more; I never forgot the fall of Kong from the top of the Empire States shot from a side and how he hits the building as he goes down in the first version of 1933. In this one the fall is taken from above all the time and inevitably loses impact.
I know; the 1933 version also looked unnatural in the movements of the huge gorilla and monsters; but, man!, it was 1933 and more than 70 years have passed of technological and resources improvement; if you consider that -and there's no way you can not- the old one was better.
It didn't work for me. Disappointing.
The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1969)
Pizarro vs Atahualpa
This is a sort of strange epic spectacular film of a time when the genre was not in high demand. The story deals with the conquest of the Inca empire (now Perù) by the Spaniards leaded by Franncisco Pizarro back in the sixteenth century. This is not a movie for everyone to see it and appreciate it -it could seem a bit slow at times- but it stands as a fine and very decent product for those of us who are interested in historical events om Latin America.
"The Royal Hunt of the Sun" can be considered as the delayed complement to Henry King's "Captain from Castile" (1947) referred to the similar conquest of today's Mexico by Hernán Cortés (played accurately by Cèsar Romero). The more than 20 years elapsed between both films shows clearly the different cinematographic techniques of one time and the other; but both products have many similarities in their conception such as the crash between two completely different civilizations each one with their own religious, social and political standards and also the search of gold and riches by both "conquistadores" and their total lack of scruples for the achievement of their target (clearly leaving aside the pretended conversion to Catholicism of the natives that was the excuse of their kings to support the expeditions in a time when the church ruled in Spain).
If not totally accurate with real facts, the Pizarro saga and his confrontation with the god-king Atahualpa in "Royal Hunt" is acceptable scripted and suits enough history and mainly legend.
The atmosphere that not very prolific director Irving Lerner obtains in his film is excellent transiting a sort of a mystical sensation at times and when required; the final sequence when the Incas are waiting for Atahualpa's Sun-father to raise and bring him back to life is outstanding. The location places, settings and a weird music are very good too.
Robert Shaw plays a convincing Pizarro -daring, ambitious and greedy- who after a while shows some kind of respect and even admiration towards a man he can't quite understand. It is true that Cristopher Plummer's performance as Atahualpa is most eccentric as some reviewers state here, but who knows how a God -he and his people were convinced he was one- would behave? I think that Plummer did a very good job with his role here and his truly original acting is one of the highlights of the film.
For those who enjoy historical films with an epic frame this is one to see.