Reviews written by registered user

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11 reviews in total 
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10 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
The Mystery Is How They Could String It Out For Two Hours, 13 September 2010

This film can be summed up as follows: sumptuous photography; turgid plot; wooden acting.

The mystery is how they could string it out for two hours. The story is that there isn't a story - it's just a travelogue across the Libyan desert. Michael Craig, who was hot property in British cinema back then, is a blacked-up Arab sheik and has no lines that I can remember. Blink and you miss him. I just couldn't work out what Anthony Steele would see in the love interest. Donald Sinden looks as though he has the mood of someone who has got out of bed the wrong side every morning of the shoot.

The only thing that must have stopped this from bombing at the box office was the novelty for the cinema-going public in grey, smog-ridden 1950s Britain of seeing 'real', 'desert' sand in colour, something they could have done on the sea front at Clacton or Bournemouth.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Enjoyable Vietnam-Era Comedy, 9 September 2010

Despite a low budget, this no frills unpretentious made-for-TV movie I found to be very enjoyable. It's silly and mad-cap. I found it refreshing when I watched it on a late night satellite channel. It's a pity there aren't more like this.

The cast gel together well and the direction and editing are reasonably slick. It was produced at a time when made-for-TV movies were often better than what was at the box-office.

Don't listen to those who say it's a load of rubbish - it isn't! It captures the period nicely and there is a clever use of some of the best songs of the time. I'd like to get the DVD, but it doesn't do the movie justice by all accounts.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Amazing Reinvention of the Bond Series, 23 November 2006

I must admit that when I heard that Daniel Craig had been chosen to succeed Piers Brosnan as James Bond in the autumn of 2005 I was not a little surprised and dismayed; he seemed so unlikely. He had many detractors, did not appear to be the obvious candidate and seemed to get off to an inauspicious start (e.g. wearing a life jacket to the PR launch was a serious gaff, his mum spilled the beans to the press took the wind out of everyones' sales, his tooth got knocked out in a fight sequence etc...)That aside, he had a reputation as fine actor specialising in in gritty character roles and often the anti-hero.

Let me tell you now: he was an inspired choice. His casting really puts his immediate predecessors in the shade. Daniel Craig could play this character in real life. He's not the tallest man to play Bond nor is he the best looking, but he's tremendously tough, he moves well and he knows how to deliver the lines.

About the film itself: it's like no other Bond movie and you are best off forgetting all the others; it's almost impossible to compare to anything else. Its a complete reinvention. If I had to compare Craigs interpretation, it would be like Connery's.

The script is witty and intelligent, the photography is fantastic and the direction is very original; it's almost a new genre in itself.

I enjoyed every minute of it and although its difficult keeping up with plot sometimes, it doesn't really matter and you are always kept guessing and on the end of your seat. I thoroughly enjoyed - Its a must see movie.

Brannigan (1975)
18 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Routine thriller with good supporting cast and locations, 27 March 2004

'Brannigan' is a fairly routine thriller which doubles up as an advertising feature for American tourists wishing to visit London. In both cases, it does the job pretty well. What gives it a boost is the strong supporting cast headed by leading British 'luvvie', Richard "Dickie" Attenborough and the good use of London locations including Tower Bridge which is utilised in an above average car chase. Also there is a large-scale brawl in a city pub ( in Leadenhall Market) which is a direct transfer from a saloon of one of the Duke's innumerable westerns.

Tough Chicago cop, Jim Brannigan, is sent to London to extradite notorious American gangster, Ben Larkin, but before he can collect him, Larkin is kidnapped and Brannigan spends the rest of his time chasing around London in search of his quarry. Whilst struggling to adapt to the British way of life and the restrained style of policing, he employs techniques not usually seen outside Chicago. In the meantime, a contract has been put out on Brannigan's life by Larkin to prevent him from being extradited.

Though menouvring his way around London like a big vintage Cadillac, John Wayne lends his unique blend of charm and charisma and inevitably, he is given most of the best lines in what is a lively screenplay. For instance, there is nothing he likes better than to smash down villains' front doors and bellow defiantly: "Knock! Knock!". This is vintage John Wayne and there is no harm in this as he was very good at what he did and as a consequence he has a devoted following of movie fans around the world.

Richard Attenborough gives sterling support as the (on the surface)stuffy, upper-class Metroplitan Police Commander not afraid to get his hands dirty . Though with characters as different as chalk and cheese on and off the screen, there is clearly a good rapport between Wayne and Attenborough. There is continual conflict on screen about Brannigans retention and use of his handgun. One of the best moments is when an increasingly hysterical Attenborough demands: "I've asked you politely, now I'm asking you impolitely, HAND OVER THE GUN!"

Of the rest of the cast, pretty Judy Geeson is good decoration though underused. Her main purpose appears to be to ferry Brannigan around London and to scream "Look out, Jim!" everytime the contract killer draws close. John Vernon as Larkin demonstrates why he was the 'heavy' of choice throughout the 1970's and Mel Ferrer is suitably slimy as his lawyer. James Booth, Brian Glover and Don Henderson are all good as London thugs. Tony Robinson has a small comedic role as an innocent dupe of a dispatch rider thrown into the Thames by Brannigan long before he became Baldric in the long-running British tv series of Blackadder. Look out too for an appearance by Tony Blair's father-in-law, Tony Booth, as a small time con given the 'good cop-bad cop' treatment.

Humorous, though a little bloody, 'Brannigan' is good entertainment and if you are a fan of the Duke, it is well worth adding the DVD to your collection. My only gripe is that the movie was the inpsiration behind the god-awful 1980's tv seires, 'Dempsey and Makepeace'. Forget this and you will enjoy it.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Immensely Stylish Landmark Crime Thriller, 15 December 2003

Lee Marvin plays Walker, a tough, bitter, cynical man out for revenge after he has been double-crossed by his best friend and his own wife. He is persuaded to participate in 'lifting' a handover of illicit cash from organised crime at the site of the disused prison island of Alcatraz by an old army buddy, Mal Rees (John Vernon), but he is deceived as in addition, the heist turns into the murder of the two couriers when he had been led to believe it was going to be a simple 'shakedown'.

Rees shoots Walker from point blank range, leaves him for dead, runs off with his share of the robbery and Walker's unfaithful wife (Sharon Acker). Rees had planned all long to cut him out of his share so he could use the mob's own money to buy his way into their hierarchy. Walker makes an amazing recovery and spends the rest of the movie attempting to catch up with them, taking his revenge and recapturing his share of the loot.

In so doing, Walker links up with the sinister Yost (Keenan Wynn) who provides him with the inside knowledge he needs for his quest. Thereafter, the vengeful Walker is unleashed by Yost as a potent weapon upon the key figures of the 'organisation' as they are tricked into eliminating one another from it's hierarchy. Walker, himself, is purely out for vengeance, but who is Yost and what are his motives?

The moral of the story is that vengeance can be an empty, futile and dehumanising process and the implication is that Walker's soul died on Alcatraz. It's a telling indictment of modern-day materialistic society where people sell themselves out in the pursuit of wealth and influence at the expense of their spiritual happiness. Life is seen as a charade as mob figures wear sober suits and attend the opera as a thin veneer of respectability whilst they themselves are plotting against their friends and associates in order to climb the corporate ladder in their nefarious activities.

Here, John Boorman's direction is viewed rightfully as a masterpiece. It's intelligent, perceptive, thought-provoking and immensely stylish. There is clever use of flashbacks, metaphorical sequences and imagery in a landmark movie that has stood the test of time. As an untried director in Hollywood, he risked the wrath of the studio executives when he experimented with some brave, new stylistic techniques. One example is when Walker marches down a corridor, the heels of his shoes relentlessly click-clacking against the hard floor like a metronome whilst we switch back and forth to the movements of his wife as she visits a beauty parlour before going back to her apartment where Walker bursts in and surprises her. It's meant to signify the deadening of Walker's senses and emotions - the dehumanising of his soul in his unrelenting quest. Throughout, Walker remains laconic, monosyllabic - unable or unwilling to express his thoughts and emotions. Although not overtly misogynistic, the movie remains ambivalent towards women as they are viewed as men's playthings, liable to treachery and deceit. When Walker storms into the bedroom of his wife's apartment, there are obvious connotations when he looses off his gun into their empty matrimonial bed.

Boorman's recently published autobiography, 'Adventures of a Suburban Boy', provides quite some detail about the making of the movie including the amusing anecdote of the inebriated Lee Marvin catching a lift home by clinging to the roof the director's station waggon. Further down the freeway, he was stopped by a cop who said: "Do you know you have Lee Marvin on your roof?"

Otley (1969)
17 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Enjoyable sub-sub-Bond adventure if you don't expect too much, 14 December 2003

Interesting little gem from the swinging sixties. Tom Courtney plays Otley, a down-on-his-luck antiques dealer in the Portobello Road in this comedy spy thriller.

He's kicked out of his digs after he's gone past his sell-by date in terms of the attentions of his randy landlady because he can't pay his way and is forced to go from friend to friend at a party in order to be put up for the night.

Otley manages to reel in a favour from one of his friends, but blunders into a spy plot when that friend is murdered in the flat and Otley is forced on the run. Otley has little aptitiude for anything but antiques and even this ability has to be questioned considering his circumstances.

The plot meanders continuously and is a little confusing but is of little consequence. We are not meant to focus too much on it, because the film centres on how this hapless bungler manages to squirm free from one episode to another whilst we enjoy the scenery. A high point of the film is when he goes to take his driving test which turns into a car chase with some villains around the backstreets of London.

The supporting cast contains some good character actors and includes Leonard Rossiter playing a hitman. Romy Schneider plays the femme fatale, but is curiously underused. An enjoyable 'sub-sub-Bond' adventure if you don't expect too much.

6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Carries On Where the 'Carry On' Films Leave Off, 12 December 2003

Amusing, if predictable fare in the manner of the 'Carry On' films of the period, No Sex Please, We're British shows how we stuffy Brits tie ourselves in knots when it comes to this subject. The funny thing is how the cast, led by Ronnie Corbett, handle their predicament and it has to be said, they cope with aplomb. As you might expect, the plot is all about mix-ups, keeping a stiff upper lip, maintaining a veneer of social respectability, not getting found out about something someone hasn't done and failing miserably.

We have to remember that the Britain of the early 1970's was a far more prudish one even though it followed on straight after the 'swinging sixties'. However, how many of us wouldn't feel the same embarrassment today?

I remember seeing the stage play first in London' s West End in the 1980's during one of it's enumerable runs and it was mightily enjoyable then. What I do love about this film the most is its location shooting in and around Windsor at the time I lived there as a little boy and it brings back many fond memories of my childhood. Unfortunately, the town has changed a great deal since then, mostly for the worse, but this film does show Windsor in all its unspoilt glory, and for this I shall always love it.

7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Glossy Tongue-in-Cheek Comedy with Catchy Theme Tune, 25 January 2003

This is a glossy tongue-in-cheek tale of two conmen and their girlfriend accomplice constantly trying to keep one step a head of the game with mixed success.

A love-triangle develops as the young protege tries to take over from his old mentor and to steal his girlfriend to boot. Needless to say, their feuding only complicates things and leads to a good twist at the end.

The good-natured direction is upbeat and enthusiastic, the acting is accomplished right down to the supporting cast and the theme tune by Ron Grainer is catchy and interspersed by pleasant incidental scores. This movie is well worth viewing should you be lucky enough to find it on tv one afternoon.

The Brain (1969)
7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Very Amusing Caper Very Rarely Shown on TV, 12 November 2002

It must be nearly twenty years since I last saw this film on tv and so I have only a vague memory of it. I do remember it as being highly entertaining.

David Niven plays a master criminal called 'The Brain' who is so massively intelligent, one of the give away signs of his identity is that his massive brain occasionally causes his head to go off balance thus causing him to keep it upright in his hands (very gallic sense of humour as this film appears to be largely French made).

He plans a major robbery whilst trying to avoid the attentions of Interpol. One of the gang members is the great French comedian, Bourvil who had parts in among others 'Monte Carlo or Bust' and the tv series 'The Flashing Blade'.

I would love to see this come on the tv again and can only think its been left off for contractual reasons over ownership of the rights and for royalty purposes.

12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Heart-warming classroom drama with a great sound-track., 18 September 2002

Novice teacher, Mark Thackeray, arrives at a secondary school in a depressed area of London's East End and transforms a class of jeuvenile delinquents into a group of responsible, mature and caring young people, confounding his critics amongst the jaundiced teaching staff.

From the very beginning, members of the class try to bait him into losing his temper so that he'll quit. Their previous teacher committed suicide, we are told. Gradually, he gains their trust and helps them overcome their personal struggles, thus winning their respect and friendship.

Its a slice of sixties social idealism that may appear dated and oversentimental to some, but it loses none of its sincerity or good intentions. The book by E.R. Braithwaite was based on his own real life experiences in the 1950's. Once again, James Clavell displays his winning touch with the screenplay and direction. The role of Thackeray had strong appeal to Sidney Poitiers for its portrayal of African-American characters as responsible role-models, a theme common to many of his films. There is a notable screen debut for Judy Geeson who went onto become one of the most fashionable jeuvenile actresses of the late 1960's. With a schoolgirl crush, she competes with beautiful teacher Suzy Kendall for the attentions of Thackeray.

The films sound-track provides good material for another debutante, Lulu, who sings the main title. It went onto become the top-selling record in the U.S. for 1967, but inexplicably, was never released in the U.K. as a single. The lyrics are provided by the highly talented Don Black who had also written the themes to 'Born Free' and 'The Italian Job' as well as collaborating with John Barry on three of the James Bond Films of that period. The backing group are The Mindbenders who provide the school band sound. They had a U.K. No.2 in the charts at the time with 'A Groovy Kind of Love' and in collaboration with Wayne Fontana, a U.S. No.1 with 'Game of Love' the previous year.

The recently released DVD provides a good quality print of this thoroughly enjoyable film and is well worth viewing. I give it ten out of ten.

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