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Red Silk (1999) (V)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Threadbare Jess Franco film, 6 January 2011

This is a rather threadbare Jess Franco film which was apparently intended as a comic caper film. After watching it my first impression was that it couldn't have taken more than a few days and a budget in the low tens of thousands to shoot. The small cast, long long takes (particularly of the nude scenes) and talky nature all implied limited budget despite the offsetting value of scenic southern Spain.

A pair of female private eyes/sex cabaret workers get involved in an art theft and a kidnapping. Nothing really happens in the film in terms of action and consequently the two women, talking about things we should be seeing, represent 80-90% of the film. The performances by Lina Romay and Christie Levin are broad and apparently amusing to them since the endlessly break into hoots about things that aren't remotely funny. The theory that a laughing performance creates a comedy film also effects the rest of the actors in the art sub-plot while, in contrasting tone, the actors in the kidnapping subplot are somber (offset, of course, by the leading ladies hooting).

As noted above there is copious nudity, full frontal, and simulated sex (mostly girl-girl). However, viewers interested in that aspect should be aware that half of the nudity is contributed by Lina Romay. While, in this feminist age, I acknowledge the right of short, overweight, fiftyish women with butch haircuts, to appear nude on film, I should note that it may be an acquired taste for some male viewers.

Technically the official DVD release was fine with respect to the photography, music etc. but I have major reservations about the dubbing. I've seen hundreds of dubbed European films, dubbed using professional "voice" performers, and never had difficulty with the dubbing. Here, in what I can only assume is a budget issue, they have not used professional voices but presumably friends and family. The result in rapid English through thick Spanish accents. This requires more effort than the dialogue is worth. Possibly the film is better in the original Spanish but I can't say.

Maroc 7 (1967)
6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Individual elements more interesting than the whole, 25 March 2008

Maroc 7 is one of those films that has a number of elements, individually of interest, but collectively failing to come together effectively.

The mysterious Simon Grant (Gene Barry) breaks into the home of fashion magazine editor Louise Henderson (Cyd Charisse) in order to get material to blackmail her into letting him accompany her on a fashion layout photo shoot in Morocco. Apparently he believes she was involved in a series of jewel thefts and he wants to get his share of the next caper. They are accompanied on the trip by her top model Claudia (Elsa Martinelli), shifty photographer Raymond Lowe (Leslie Phillips) and model wrangler Freddie (Angela Douglas). They are also accompanied by several models, including one, Vivienne, played by Tracy Reed. In Morocco they meet cynical police Inspector Barrada (Denholm Elliott), his attractive assistant Michelle Craig (Alexandra Stewart) and dubious antiquities expert Professor Bannen (Eric Barker).

The plot involves secret maps, robbing tombs and multiple double crosses. It doesn't really generate a lot of excitement but does have the decided attraction of being fast moving. They do try to enhance the ending with a fun plot twist. A major attraction is the colorful setting in Morocco, which is shown to great advantage.

Similarly the acting is professional, I don't think there is any bad performances per se, but it doesn't generate much emotional involvement. Perhaps the combination of 1940's Hollywood (Berry, Charisse) with 1960's swinging London was simply never going to be a comfortable fit. Although the photo shoot scenes, obviously dated to the 1960's (although I have no objection to miniskirts), provides some visual flair to match the Moroccan scenery. Denholm Elliott creates the most interesting character, while Elsa Martinelli and Alexandra Stewart are attractive love interests.

Leslie Phillips also produced the movie and he talked briefly about that experience on the commentary track for the British DVD release of Very Important Person (1961). Apparently he was interested in directing and thought that producing a movie would be a step in that direction. While he didn't say what, if anything, he enjoyed about producing, he was very clear about disliking all the financial management that went with producing. He mentioned, in passing, that the budget of Maroc 7 was approximately half a million dollars. According to IMDb this is the only movie he produced and he never directed any films (although his commentary referenced extensive theater directing). As an aside I would be interested in knowing whether the name of Alexandra Stewart's character, Michelle Craig, was an "inside joke" on Leslie Phillips' Doctor In Love co-star Michael Craig.

The quality of the print, in the German DVD release version I saw, could best be described as acceptable. In truth, having seen the movie on TV several times over the years, I have never really seen a pristine print of the film. The deterioration is regrettable given the colorful scenery in Morocco.

Overall the film is an acceptable time waster, although the elements are more workmanlike than inspired.

Rentadick (1972)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The bits are better than the whole, 10 March 2008

Rentadick is an English comedy where the individual parts are better than the whole.

Armitage (Donald Sinden), a chemicals manufacturer has two concerns: he suspects that his wife Utta (Julie Ege) is unfaithful and he needs to protect his new chemical formula from Japanese spies, led by Madame Greenfly (Tsai Chen). He retains security expert Major Upton (Ronald Fraser) to address both problems. Major Upton sets the virginal Hobbs (Richard Beckinsale) to spy on Utta. He sets his "Number 1", Hamilton (James Booth) to protect the industrial secrets. Unfortunately Hamilton, a rather dubious character with a sideline of kidnapping girls for shipment to the Middle East by Hussein (Michael Bentine), strikes a deal with Madame Greenfly to obtain the chemical formula for her. In this he is assisted by bumbling agency operatives Owltruss (John Wells - who is also credited with additional dialog for the film) and West (Kenneth Cope). Another agency operative, Miles Gannet (Richard Briers), manages to screw up both problems even more.

Some of the plot points have not aged well. The concept of female sex slaves for the Middle East makes one cringe. Similarly the stereotyping of the Japanese and Arab characters are inappropriate in a multicultural world. Anyone who is offended by these unfortunate cultural relics will likely find the film unacceptable and not amusing.

If you can look past those issues the film is moderately, but only moderately, amusing. The film was written by Monty Python's John Cleese and Graham Chapman. However, there is obviously something that happened with the film inasmuch as their screen credits were removed (presumably at their request). I would assume there was disagreement over the vision of the film inasmuch as the tone varies all over the place from drawing room to satire to absurdest. I was astounded to read on IMDb that the director, Jim Clark, was an Oscar winner (albeit for film editing on The Killing Fields, also nominated for The Mission). So there was some talent behind the camera.

All of the actors in front of the camera are quite talented (except perhaps for Julie Ege, who at least is quite decorative). Donald Sinden ,with eyebrows flying, takes the heroic British acting technique of "damn the material, full spreed ahead". Ronald Fraser comes off best with endearing comic mannerisms. James Booth, a good actor, suffers from a script that makes him a cartoon character throughout. Richard Briers is his usual fluttery nervousness. Richard Beckinsale (the father, by the way, of actress Kate Beckinsale and who died at the tragic age of 32) and Kenneth Cope have less to do. As for John Wells, well you either like in a mouse suit (don't ask) or you don't. The latter basically illustrates the issue of comedy in this film. Most of the sub-plot regarding Julie Ege plays well because the actors, most veterans of London's west end stage comedies, are used to the compromising positions, slamming doors, hiding etc. of this genre. However the film transforms into a more absurdest comedy as it moves towards resolution of the chemical formula plot line (which contains the more objectionable stereotyping noted above). Everyone suddenly has to become a cartoon and, while there is no British actor who isn't game, many can only go to louder exaggeration as a performance.

If you are offended by the sexual and racial concerns noted above you should avoid this film. If you can live them and the wildly uneven tone of the film then there is enough comedy and beloved actors to give this film at least one viewing.

P.S. if you want to see a movie written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman (albeit with Peter Cook) and featuring Ronald Fraser that really works I would strongly recommend the political satire "The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer" (regrettably very difficult to obtain in North America).

7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Another "Oh, its not as bad as all that ...." comment, 6 March 2008

If you were to categorize all the comments on IMDb you would end up with a large group of "Oh, it's not as bad as all that..." comments. Inevitably the film in question has a few modest "good" points but ends up being described as the "worst film ever made". Some lonely poster feels called upon to try and put some perspective back into the discussion. That is all just a preamble to saying that What's Up Nurse isn't really as bad as all that.

Young Doctor Todd (Nicholas Field) has an embarrassing encounter with Olivia Ogden (Felicity Devonshire) on the train to his new hospital appointment. This sets up his meeting with her father, the senior surgeon, Doctor Ogden (John Le Mesurier), the hospital orderly Carthew (Graham Stark - also an associate producer of this film) and the hospital Matron (Kate Williams). He obtains lodging with the young widow Helen Arkwright (Angela Grant) and starts work at the hospital. His work leads him to a gentleman who believes he has a "frog" in his throat (Mr. Newberry - Keith Smith), a gentleman who has an unfortunate problem with an inanimate object ("The Jam Jar Man" - Ronnie Brody) and local confidence man Flash Harry Harrison (Bill Pertwee). Along for a variety of other roles are actors from the Carry On film series (Peter Butterworth and Jack Douglas) and assorted British television comedies (i.e. Anna Karen "On The Buses", Frank Williams "Dad's Army", Andrew Sachs "Faulty Towers" - a waiter again!).

There appears to be three basic criticisms of this film: its degrading for established British comedy actors to appear in a "sex comedy", that the film does indeed contain sex and that finally that it isn't all that funny. For the first point it should be noted that many established British actors appeared in sex comedies during this period (a relatively lean period for the British film industry). In this film the established actors (i.e. John Le Mesurier et al) don't really appear in any of the sexy bits but are more concerned with the hospital aspects of the script. On the second point, there is nudity in the film but it isn't any more than I see in mainstream Hollywood movies today. Its mostly handled by the fetching Angela Grant, apparently Felicity Devonshire was four months pregnant during the filming of this movie, and a nudist camp stumbled into by Dr. Todd in his search for Mr. Newberry' s frog! The third point is a matter of personal taste. British comedy is often the comedy of embarrassment and any combination of sex and the indignities of hospitals offer opportunities for comedy.

I'm not here to argue this is a great movie. In addition to the points above, the younger actors (i.e. Field, who reminds me of a young James Villiers, and Devonshire) are rather bland. However there is a steady stream of comedy, admittedly more of embarrassment than of wit, and little of it very original. In addition the film will appeal to the fans of the plethora of beloved British comedy actors who are doing their bit.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Erotic thriller with some erotic and no thriller, 6 March 2008

Fatal Pursuit is a poorly executed attempt at the erotic thriller genre. While suffering a number of faults it is primarily undermined by it's script.

Gang boss Bechtal (Malcolm McDowell), his moll Giselle (Lydie Dernier) and muscle Franco (Robert Z'Dar) steal $8 million in diamonds in a violent New Orleans kidnapping/robbery. British insurer Pinkrose (Michael Ensign) sends in Jill (Shannon Whirry) to investigate. She is teamed with local "good old boy" private investigator Deghy (L.P. Brown 111) and his sidekick Herbert (Charles Napier). They trace a witness to the crime through bad cops (Larry Manetti as Gersi), good cops (Obba Babatunde as Trindad, Joe Estevez as Morier) and subsequent witness Shelby (Larry Linville). Regarding the latter, Major Frank Burns in the MASH TV series, I should just note that this was his second to last credit before passing away. RIP.

L.P. Brown is believable as a "bad boy" private investigator and, as a co-producer of the movie, seems to have made sure he gets the best one liners. Unfortunately this leaves less for the other characters. This is especially notable with Shannon Whirry, who starts out with a reasonably strong and independent character but, through the script, ebbs into the "girl" in awe of our "hero". Charles Napier looks ready to have some fun, of course with that grin when didn't he look like he was ready for some fun, but the script leaves him nothing to do. Malcolm McDowell career has unfortunately descended into playing villains in B movies. The best that can be said here is that he's energetic, the man can snarl with intensity, but unfortunately that is all the performance entails. Lydie Dernier' s character is described or seen as "on the street" (prostitute?), thief, gangster's moll, killer and tourist shop operator. No wonder she just decided to play it as psycho. Robert Z'Dar has physical presence but isn't called on to do much (acting wise).

Once the romantic antagonism between Deghy and Jill peters out there isn't anything left but the plot. It would be unfair to say there is no plot; there is one and within its own context it is logical. The problem is that the plot is fundamentally stupid. First there is the witness to the jewel theft. Then there is the witness to the death of the first witness. It is nothing but coincidences related to the gangsters' amazing proclivity to leave witnesses. You've just killed a couple of people, stolen $8 million in diamonds and then you just glare at the witness and walk off! As for the erotic I would say that Shannon Whirry' s shower scene more than makes up for the fact that her British accent keeps coming and going. If they had expanded that to ninety minutes and cut the rest of the film we might have to revise our vote to 9 out of 10.

On the positive side the movie has a few good one liners, initial romantic tension between the leads and it moves along. It may make passable viewing for viewers in a non-demanding frame of mind. However I honestly couldn't understand why people just don't rent The Big Easy instead (same ambiance much more successfully executed).

Q (1974)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
French sex comedy available on poor DVD, 6 March 2008

I came across this French sex comedy through a British DVD release called "The World's Best Whorehouse For Women". This alternative title does not appear in the IMDb database.

Gilles (Philippe Gaste), who operates a money losing garage, teams up with his friends Max (Pierre Danny), who operates a scrap yard, and lawyer Xavier (Jean Roche) to open a brothel catering to women. They get the idea from Gilles' secretary Irma (Nanette Corey), a former prostitute. They are assisted in the implementation by Max's wife Juliette (Anne Libert) and Sabine (Malisa Longo) who is mad for Gilles. Unfortunately Gilles has fallen for Florence (Corine O'Brien) the daughter of the conservative Prime Minister (Jean Paredes) and his wife (Yvonne Clech). When the Prime Minister tries to shut down the brothel Gilles decides to stand against him in the election.

Unfortunately I can not really comment on the quality of the movie because the quality of the DVD, from Jef Films, was terrible. IMDb does not list the run time for "Q" but this DVD version clocks in a 64 minutes and has obviously been severely cut. This is most evident in the first third, the setting up of the story, where there are scenes that are inexplicable (i.e. Gilles having supper in a group, with the next scene Gilles getting out of bed with two naked girls and leaving - something happened, I know not what). Even in the remainder of the film the transitions between scenes are extremely abrupt (i.e. cuts as soon as character stops speaking). In addition, the print quality of what remains is poor, with color washed out. Compared to many viewers I am probably overly forgiving in terms of print quality, especially if its a movie I otherwise can't see, but in this case I think I need to be very specific with the problems because the excessive editing clearly effects comprehension of the story.

There were a number of funny scenes in what remained. I enjoyed them using a true schoolroom as a setting for Irma to teach the men how to make love to women and the men misbehaving as they would in any classroom. Nanette Corey and veteran comic Jean Paredes generally take the acting honors. The former, an attractive redhead, also takes the nudity honors.

There may be something to this movie but I would only recommend viewing it with a better print. So I have put in rating of 3 which maybe unfair inasmuch as the performers aren't accountable for this subsequent editing.

10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Come now - its a lot more than Liz Fraser, 22 February 2008

While I would not like to be in the position of defending Under The Doctor as a great British sex comedy, if in fact there is such a thing, I would object to those who treat it as a paean to Liz Fraser.

Under The Doctor consists of four stories linked by the concept of people telling them to a psychiatrist (Barry Evans). The first patient, Marion Parson (Penny Spencer) is a young woman who has erotic fantasies about a potential employer Mr. Johnson (Barry Evans again) at a job interview. The second patient, the noble Lady Victoria Stockbridge (Hilary Pritchard), tells the tale of how she supports her luxurious lifestyle by wheedling "inside" information on the stock market from smitten banker Rodney Harrington-Harrington (Jonathan Cecil); he with the lecherous butler Wilkins (Peter Cleall). She then relates her fantasy of being an 18th century lady being dueled over by the foppish Lord Woodbridge (Jonathan Cecil again) and the dashing Lieutenant Cranshaw (Barry Evans again). The final patient is the single, live at home with Mom, Sandra (Liz Fraser) who fantasizes about rekindling the flame with her imaginary husband Colin (Barry Evans again).

In terms of sex, Penny Spencer is the youngest, prettiest and most naked. Hilary Pritchard contributes some worthwhile topless views and Liz Fraser does Victoria's Secret proud in the lingerie department. Although I am a lifetime fan of Liz Fraser's comic skills I must be a cad and suggest that perhaps she was reaching a stage where those skills might best be shown fully dressed.

In terms of comedy the offerings are much more dependent on your personal taste. The tone of the film is difficult to describe inasmuch as there is a touch of the fevered back of the hand to the forehead Perils of Pauline approach to the fantasies. It will either attract your interest or leave you confused. Most of the comic situations are simplistic and unoriginal (except for the "insider trading" plot line which is most likely to appeal to those with a business background).

In terms of acting Liz Fraser, with her vibrant performance and comic timing leads the pack. I've seen Jonathan Cecil in small roles in many British movies but the persona he displayed in each was always the same. Here he has a larger role and, while his persona is exactly the same (whether you like it is a matter of personal taste), there is no doubt he's enjoying it immensely. I feel like a cad, again, in being unable to say anything nice about Barry Evans rather flat performance. I feel that I owe him something to offset the tragedy of his short life but unfortunately I can't find anything on the screen.

Technical credits on the DVD I watched were low average.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Enjoyable British comedy has aged a bit, 22 February 2008

As a fan of British comedies of this era I was pleased to discover Not Wanted On Voyage.

Two cabin stewards, the scheming Albert Higgins (Ronald Shiner) and his dim witted mate Cecil Hollebone (Brian Rix), set out on a ocean voyage under the exasperated Chief Steward (Michael Brennen). Along for the trip are the wealthy Mrs. Borough (Fabia Drake) and her secretary Pat (Dorinda Stevens). Obviously Mrs. Borough's jewels attract the attention of thieves Guy Harding (Griffith Jones) and Julie Harris (Catherine Boyle). Also along for the trip are the demanding Col. Blewton-Fawcett (Michael Shepley) and honeymooners Mr. and Mrs. Rose (John T. Chapman and Therese Burton).

The plot of the movie is primarily the theft of Mrs. Borough's jewels, no points for guessing who gets falsely accused of the dastardly deed, but most of the movie consists of scenes of Steward Higgins' moneymaking schemes and Steward Hollebone's ineptitude as they interact with a variety of passengers and crew.

The attractions of this movie include a good mix of verbal and physical comedy, a high professional standard amongst the large cast of characters and a good pacing (82 minutes).

However, on the negative side, the comedy seems a little dated, with the verbal comedy not memorably witty and the physical comedy not terribly original. Perhaps the bigger negative is that, upon reflection, many of the main characters aren't that sympathetic. Ronald Shiner's character literally doesn't do anything good for anyone, including his purported mate played by Brian Rix, without charging money for it. Contrast this with Sid James' characters in the Carry On films, who often schemed but inevitably were revealed to have a soft heart. Only Brian Rix's character comes off as warm but obviously playing dim witted all the time has its own limitations.

None of this detracts from the fact that the movie is pleasantly enjoyable watching but it does mean that the emotional satisfaction from the movie is less.

Technical credits on the British DVD I watched were professional.

6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Good natured comic spaghetti western, 15 February 2008

This is a serviceable comic spaghetti western which doesn't take itself too seriously. Three bandits rob the train of the settlers' money (allowing their cohort, the evil local banker (is there any other kind in spaghetti westerns?), to seize the settlers' land). Our three not so upright heroes rob the robbers but, needless to say, get distracted by the settlers' womenfolk.

When I watched this film my first impression was that it was an absolute rip-off of the Terence Hill/Bud Spencer westerns (i.e. They Call Me Trinity). Only here we have Michael Forest in the laconic never ruffled Terence Hill role and Fred Harrison, bringing his fist down on the top of people's heads, in the Bud Spencer role. Once you get by the comparison you can accept Forest and Harrison's generally good natured approach to the roles. I found Paolo Gozlino to be a bit aggravating as their sidekick but mugging for the camera is an honored practice in spaghetti westerns. Malisa Longo is very attractive, but largely wasted, as the head of the settlers. The three not so bright bandits are played very broadly.

There is no surprises in the plot (i.e. the money keeps passing back and forth between the bandits and our heroes). The comedy is more good natured than original (although Michael Forest and his horse should be seen). The movies ends with a rousing 15-20 minute fight/tear the town down scene that will leave spaghetti western fans satisfied.

I came across this movie on DVD under the title "Now They Call Him Sacramento" (which isn't a title listed in IMDb). Technical credits on the DVD were excellent.

16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Character driven caper film exceeds expectation, 8 February 2008

I don't believe that I need to recap the plot of this movie since other commentators have done so quite clearly. However I would like to expand on three aspects of the film: the casting, comparable movies, and the technical credits.

I'm an Anglo and came across the movie by accident on As such I was totally unfamiliar with the cast of this movie, most of whom appear to have extensive credits in Hispanic television series. When an actor delivers a good performance you can credit the actor. When all the actors fit their roles you have to credit the casting. Saul Lisazo, as the putative villain Moctesuma Valdez, was impressive. Both of the gang leaders, Miquel Varoni as Emilio Lopez and Fernando Colunga as Alejandro Toledo, were in character. While the latter was billed first, I assume he's better known for his television work, I would say the former was more of a standout in this film. Ruben Garfias was expressive as car jockey Rafa and Ivonne Montero was very dynamic as his motor-head daughter Rafaela. Gabriel Soto brought some charm to the usually thankless role of caper muscle man. Julie Gonzalo was attractive in the role of the nanny Gloria but Sonya Smith had little to do as Mrs. Valdez (apparently she was more actively involved in a sub-plot which was cut from the movies to reduce run time). Oscar Torres as Miguelito, a would be actor, and Jon Molerio as a security guard provide standout comedy relief. Only the computer "nerd" role of Julio Miranda was surprisingly under written given that it was played by JoJo Henrickson, the author of the screen play. It is relatively seldom that all major roles in a film are well cast. It is a high compliment when I say it makes me want to go out and look at the other work of these performers.

Commentators have compared this film to Ocean's Eleven (1960/2001) or the The Sting (1973) in terms of where it was derived from and the style of the caper. I don't know who made the first caper film, with people coming together to stage a heist, but I know it definitively precedes Ocean's Eleven (1960). Without even pausing I can think of Jules Dassin's Rafifi (1955), Stanley Kubrick's The Killing (1956) or John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle (1950). In terms of style I think we must remember that this film was apparently made on a budget of US$900,000 over twenty days. Its simply not going to have the high-technology caper of a big budget Ocean's Eleven (2001). The complexity of the caper is more like that of 1960's television series Mission Impossible or Man From U.N.C.L.E. However the director and writer of this film wisely choose to concentrate on character and social commentary rather than complexity of the caper. This fits better within both the budget and the concept of invisible immigrants staging a caper. Part of the emotional satisfaction with the ending is the social commentary embedded within it.

Technical credits are normally taken for granted but deserve comment in this case. The camera work is particularly impressive, with use of continuous takes as the camera moves amongst the participants in the scene. This style binds the characters together and creates both realism and a sense of activity. I was also impressed with some of the framing of the shots, with the main characters bookending the background events. I don't think I've ever commented on subtitles in a movie. Inevitably one senses that the subtitles you are reading are a poor reflection of what's said in the original language. In this case the English subtitles, I presume by the screen writer JoJo Henrickson, are fluid and fully convey the emotions on the screen. The catchy soundtrack also adds to the professionalism of the credits.

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