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It's the truth that you should never trust anybody who wears a bow tie. Cravat's supposed to point down to accentuate the genitals. Why'd you wanna trust somebody whose tie points out to accentuate his ears?
I have really gotten into Akira Kurosawa lately. His early movies with Toshiro Mifune and more:
favs: Seven Samurai, Ikiru, Red Beard, the Hidden Fortress, Stray Dog...great movies one and all!
The Pacific (2010)
I suppose we can't please everyone but I thought it lacked...
cohesion and purpose. Why did they go to Guadalcanal? Why did they go to Pelielu? What were the importance of those/all of those island invasions where so many men lost their lives? Instead, we see time spent on the soldiers private lives, shagging Ozzie girls and women, shagging Hollywood stars,..not sure, that should have been the focus or why not having them shag natives and getting diseases that would impact the rest of their lives? I just thought 'some' time should have been given to explaining the reason for the seasons. Certainly, the grunts didn't know where or why they were going, they certainly knew WHAT they were to do.
That being said, I did like the program, I just thought some strategy should have been given to the viewers, so they could understand WHY these islands were important. In fact, it has been debated that Peleilu was a battle that needn't have been fought and that taking that island was a MacArthur decision that over-rided the Navy's game plan for not taking Pelielu and taking back the Pacific.
Discussing something along those lines would have been very informative to the viewer. I'm just saying.
Gold of the Seven Saints (1961)
I think I am really a Gordon Douglas fan!
Too bad this movie was filmed in color. I think the visuals would have been magnificent and improved the overall acceptance of this movie. Basically, it's a poor man's version of The Treasure of Sierra Madre. The movie has a fine cast that features Clint Walker, a very young Roger Moore, Chill Wills, the venerable Joe Fuller company actor: Gene Evans, and the always first rate: Robert Middleton...who was really kind of wasted in this one. Walker and Moore are fur traders turned gold miners...that strike the big one. They need another pack horse to lug in their haul...and this is how the trouble starts when Moore pays with a gold nugget as he is caught trying to steal a horse. What then happens the boys try to bring in their haul...followed by some ominous characters led by Evans. The two are trapped and attacked by Evans crew..when Wills enters to save the day as a doctor, gunslinger, gun for hire...
If you could put things in perspective for the comparative between Treasure: Clint would be the Tim Holt character Moore, Bogey's Fred C Dobbs...with less psychological traits...you could tell they wanted to play that paranoid card with Moore but Douglas must have decided to downscale that angle. Wills would be the Walter Huston character Middleton the Mexican bandito...and Evans the more deceptive, murderous twist on the theme.
Anyway, the movie was very good and worthwhile viewing. The location shooting added to the movie and in color would have been glorious. For a Warner Bros movie that often reeked of other films footage spliced in to cut costs, this was a darn good western. Highly recommend seeing. I gave it a 7/10
Let It Ride (1989)
This movie is one of my guilty pleasures
You know it never ceases to amuse me. The character development, or lack there of, isn't deep, but, it is thorough enough that we have an empathy for the characters. This is one of Dreyfuss' better roles and he plays it with aplomb. The other Runyanesque cast of characters we find at the track are colorful and charming, with excellent performances by Robbie Coltrane, Terri Garr, Jennifer Tilly, David Johansen and Joe Roselius, among others.
I think what appeals to me about this film is that the good guy 'wins'. As American's it is our nature to 'love' winners and when we find a sympathetic nice guy who is having 'a very good day'. Well, we root for him and wish him well.
This is a fun little movie that I strongly recommend if your looking for some light fair to enjoy a few smiles.
Ride the High Country (1962)
One of the greatest Westerns ever made...period.
I have always liked this movie from the very first time I watched it at the Killearny Drive In back in the summer of 62. It starred two of my favorite cowboy stars...Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea.
Today, for the umpteenth time, I watched it again. It keeps getting BETTER and BETTER with each viewing. Today's viewing had me blown away by the incredible script. The dialog in this movie...is INCREDIBLE. The scenes and plot are so beautifully meshed it astounds. Peckinpah deals with honor and ideals compromised by circumstance, loyalty, the difficulties of doing the right thing in an unjust world AND redemption. Well, it is not only a great western but a great MOVIE. The script was written by two journeyman, hack if you will, screen writers N.B. Stone and Bob Williams, whose credits were mainly TV scripts and Peckinpah himself. Listen to that script and you will be enriched by literate, logical and intelligent conversations.
The box office for this movie: was modest at best and got no build up from the studio. One studio exec fell asleep during the initial screening then promptly stated the movie was not only boring but the worst movie he had ever seen or slept through. So the film was released with little fanfare. However, the movie in Europe not only got it's proper reception it killed at the box office and one numerous best picture credits at film festivals ahead of films like Fellini's 8 1/2.
In today's viewing I especially liked the showdown between McCrea and Scott as Scott's Gil character try to rob the money that McCrea had sworn to bring back. McCrea orders the kid, played by Ron Starr..whose career fizzled sadly after this movie, to drop his gun...then he walks up into Scott's face and backhands him...then steps back and challenges him: You always fancied yourself faster than me...well now is your chance...Draw...Draw you tin horn. Scott, either won't shoot his friend or was intimidated by the righteousness of McCrea...unbuckles his belt. McCrea: Thats' the second mistake you made tonight Gil, there won't be another. It was AWESOME!
I am watching this movie and I am thinking these writers had to read Tolkien because it just kept getting better and better with the battles and crisis that kept coming...first it's the girl, then her wedding, then the Scott..Edgar Buchanon confrontation...another jewel of a scene; then Scott and the kid against Steve, then its the Hammonds, then its the Kid and Steve; the Hammonds again...then Gil and Steve vs the Hammonds...it was FANTASTIC...this beautifully scripted movie was then painted on a canvas of fall colors in the Mountains of the Old West..or near dying Old West.
If you haven't seen this movie, then do yourself a favor and rent it, buy it, steal it...it is not only one of the great westerns ever made but one of the great movies ever made too. I gave this film a 10/10...right now it is rubbing shoulders with The Searchers as one of the greatest westerns ever made for my money. It is, for my money, Peckinpah's greatest film, Ride the High Country was/is a masterpiece.
Filmed in: California...Inyo National Forest, Bishop, CA along with other California locales.
The Outstanding Cast consisted of:
L.Q. Jones John Anderson
John Davis Chandler Warren Oates
Trivia: the movie was initially intended to star John Wayne and Gary Cooper..with Cooper playing the McCrea character. Cooper died before filming began. A remake was intended with Charlton Heston and Clint Eastwood but that remake never came to fruition.
I really enjoyed this coming of age movie, set in WWII Italy.
It is quite similar to the fantastic Summer of '42, that starred Jennifer ONeill. This Italian coast version starred the stunning Monica Bellucci, as the object of the local teens and adult males fantasies. If god placed a more beautiful woman on this earth, mine eyes have yet to see her! Poor Malena, first her husband, a lieutenant in the Italian Army is lost and presumed dead. She is the object of much scandal from the local townspeople and when the poor girl needed their help the most they turned their collective backs on her. Every male sexual predator in the town did favors for her...for her favors. Some she gave, some were taken without her consent. The young boy that witnesses all this, Renato, sees how all fortunes has dealt the woman is bad luck and heartbreak, ending in humiliation for being a Nazi lover. The girl had to do something to eat. Renato character was excellent and showed the proper lust and compassion for the woman of his fantasies and dreams. When the MIA husband returns to find his family home a refugee shelter and no Malena, the boy as delicately as he could word it, told the news to the husband that his wife had HAD to do what she did to survive. That the towns people were all jealous and liars about her. I gave the film a 7-10, I would have liked to have given it a higher mark but it was never quite readily explained WHY the village women had hated Malena before tragedy had struck her. They acted like she wasn't one of them, yet, her father was a teacher in the town's school? Otherwise, a charming, sensual story well told, acted and equally photographed. If you want a meatier, Summer of 42 melodrama this is your movie.
Kansas City Confidential (1952)
I REALLY wanted to like this movie...spoiler
The cast was promising, John Payne, Preston Foster, Lee Van Cleef, Neville Brand, Jack Elam and Coleen Gray. But, I am afraid the script and the direction, Phil Karlson, just dropped the ball for me. I know that certain movies overlook plot failures, which some people think add to a movie's allure, but not me. It just reeks of amateurism and dilutes the quality of real craftsmanship when we accept blunders as 'uniqueness' rather than what they are.
First, the case of the missing driver? there are four men involved in a bank robbery. FOUR...yet, when they drive their getaway truck into a semi-tractor trailer...the four...FOUR are all in the trailer as the brains of the operation gives each some dough to tied them over until they split up the loot...then, has one of the gang(Elam)..jump off the moving truck...Ah, whose driving the tractor trailer...automatic pilot? Second, the case of the open and shut door?
when Elam's character meets the boss in his hotel room. The boss sees him in the mirror of his dresser, as he puts on his mask. Yet, has to open the bedroom door to enter the room with Elam? How did we see Elam enter the room? Third, the case of the missing boat captain? When Foster's character meets his buddy on the dock...Foster is seen jumping off his boat to tie it to the dock. You hear in the background the motor revving up and shutting down by itself? Four, I meet you in Mexico? Foster writes his buddy in KC to come down to Mexico. When he arrives he tells him he is about to break the KC bank job. I contact you when I have them all set up...okay, I am Foster's best friend, he invites me to Mexico..which, I immediately drop what I am doing and go down to visit...then we don't hang around with each other? sure... Five: I think he is in TJ? Elam's character literally jumps off a moving tractor trailer, with secret instructions and money to stay in TJ. But, Payne's war buddy, brother...KNOWS were Elam is and just follow the crap games and chain smokers and you'll find him? Why didn't the cops figure that one out..follow the cigarette butts to Elam?
I like John Payne, but when he tries to act tough, he always speaks under his breathe and it got annoying. Elam and Van Cleef were Payne's punching bags in this movie. Only, Foster, Gray-under utilized and Brand came out of this one with some distinction.
So, I am sorry but this movie really sucks and should be on MST3000 instead of having some pretty prestigious grade by IMDb. I prefer to honor films that deserve more distinction than this one.
The Narrow Margin (1952)
The Narrow Margin, film noire at it's rock bottom BEST!
I wanted to watch this movie because it starred Charles McGraw. McGraw, the granite jawed, raspy voiced actor who starred and co-starred in crime dramas in the forties and fifties. It was McGraw's star vehicle but the real star was the script, cast and direction in one of the best film noires ever made. The movie might have been cheap to make but the script won't betray the economy of making the movie. The audience is taken through a roller-coaster ride of plot twists, betrayals, and murder, within the first fifteen minutes of the show, McGraw's sidekick, Forbes', is shot to death. The storyline is basically, two LA detectives are sent east to Chicago, to escort a witness for the prosecution. The witness, a dead crime lords wife, the woman played by Marie Windsor, is a hard boiled dame that is scared for her life. With partner killed, McGraw gets the dame on-board a train to LA. The gist of the movie takes place upon this train, as the gang of criminals are trying to kill the woman before she can testify. What was really cool about this movie was the black and white film and the various camera angles and shadows that give film noire it's name. If Marie Windsor is not on your all-time list of Film Noire Queen's she had better be soon. Not only does she fit the requirements when it comes to a figure and face, but the little gal can act too! If you want to see a perfect example of what a smallish budget, clever direction and topflight script can do, run do not walk to the nearest DVD stand and watch: The Narrow Margin!
I cannot give this movie the high rating IMDb has given it for many reasons.
First and foremost, I love Kurosawa films. He is in my opinion one of the world's greatest film makers, bar none. His ability to tell compelling stories is legendary. So, when I rate this movie a 5, I do so only because of respect to Kurosawa, if it were someone else I would rate it even lower. The reason I am disappointed with this movie is because of the horrendous editing that left the viewer, me, wondering why so many characters reacted to different situations. I think a person who understands this film has had to have read Dostevyski's novel because he certainly didn't 'get it' from viewing the film. I have been told that the studio whacked half of the film on the editing room floor. In so doing, the studio left the viewer in a lurch as to why things happened, more-so in the beginning of the movie than the end...but, it requires too much to ask of an audience to understand or infer what is going on with the movie when it should be crystal clearly developed and the audience should KNOW why things happen, rather than guess. Kurosawa is by far too good a communicator to have knowingly allowed or directed this in a fashion that the audience is lost, which is exactly how I felt after viewing this movie...lost, lost in translation, lost on the editing room floor.
A great story that a Mayan historian would appreciate!
Mel Gibson is fast becoming one of the great cinematic storytellers of our generation. In Apocalypto he recreated a jungle Mayan tribe. With an exquisite eye for detail and a fantastic camera work. We go hunting with our idyllic tribe and meet the various hunters and their families. One hunter, Jaguar's Paw, has a spiritualness about him, its this inner-sense that will later save his life. Gibson's tribe is pillaged by Mayan's from the city on a slaver/sacrifice raid. Jaguar Paw is the first to sense something was wrong. He saves his own family but goes back to help his family and friends. In that effort he is captured. Gibson takes us through the jungle to a huge Mayan city. Where we come upon limestone mines. The Mayans used limestone to path their streets and to use on their great buildings. At first, we think our tribe is going to be used for slave labor. But, no, the actual mining for limestone has corrupted the soil and the Mayan city is starving.
Our tribe is brought to a sacrificial temple where they are offered to the gods as sacrifice to get their crops to grow. There are graphic scenes of organs being pulled from bodies and beheadings. But, in the true Mayan and Aztec societies, these rituals could have been even more barbaric. So, Gibson could have went even further and been historically accurate but, he didn't, and we got the message.
When our friend, Jaguar's Paw, is brought to the sacrificial altar a total solar eclipse happens and our tribe is seemingly spared from the altar. Only to be used as target practice for the Mayan warriors. This too, is another historically correct sequence, where warriors honed their craft on captured Indians. Our surviving tribe members are told that if they get past the cornfield at the end of the stadium, they are only moments from the jungle and their freedom. Reminiscent of the great Cornell Wilde's Naked Prey.
I strongly recommend you watch this film. It's an amazing story told by Gibson with a surprise ending in keeping with our historical theme!
Julius Caesar (1953)
Marlon Brando was amazing
When I first started to pay attention to movies. Marlon Brando was NOT the most popular actor around. I saw him in Mutiny on the Bounty and later in One Eyed Jacks, neither of which were anything more than longwinded melodramas to a kid in his early teens. I had not seen Brando as a must see actor, like John Wayne or even Elvis Presley for that matter. Then I discovered On the Waterfront and was amazed at his emotional talent. This month was Marlon Brando month on Turner Classic Movies. Martin Scorcese, in a related interview to the Brando special feature, recommmended that you should watch Brando in his first five films to get an idea of how talented he really was. I watched, The Men, and was mesmerized by his ability to show passion, especially, anger and I mean anger! You can see his face and voice and body contort when he is at a loss for a word and erupts in physical anger and lashes out, unlike anything I had ever seen before on the screen. I watched him play Stanley Kowalski, in Streetcar Named Desire. A movie I had not really watched before and had not taken its turn on late night TV due to its subject matter. He was Stanley Kowalski, an animal of base instincts and passions. He chewed the scenery, he was a timebomb, ticking with the basic tenets of eat when your hungry, sleep when your tired, drink, bowl and play cards with your buddies, have sex when you want it. I have never seen a performance like that on screen, EVER. I have been watching movies for fifty something years.
I had seen previously, On the Waterfront and the Wild One, both tour de force Brando films. Then, I just watched Julius Caesar, and it completely blew me away...completely. My Stanley Kowalski, Terry Malloy, et al was not spouting the Bard of Avon, and not just reading the lines...he was Marc Antony. In the great eulogy of Caesar...friends , Romans, Countryman, lend me your ear. He was talking to the crowd in this brilliant interpretation of Shakespeare, where he not speaking these great lines, like a puppet, he was speaking to his audience and communicating. He diction and speech were impeccable. His mumbling was non-existent. I was and still am in AWE of his performance. It was BRILLIANT. I am awaiting Viva Zapata to complete my quest. I cant wait to see what Brando has in store for me! Do yourself a favor. To get the full impact of this fellow, Marlon Brando, watch his performances in chronological order, starting with The Men. You will then know why Brando was America's greatest film actor. # On the Waterfront (1954) .... Terry Malloy # The Wild One (1953) .... Johnny Strabler/Narrator # Julius Caesar (1953) .... Mark Antony ... aka William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar # Viva Zapata! (1952) .... Emiliano Zapata # A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) .... Stanley Kowalski # The Men (1950) .... Kenneth 'Ken' Wilcheck/'Bud'