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I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
Man and Boy
Mind Games (1989)
The Prisoner of Second Avenue
My Best Movie Sound Tracks of All Time
A Summer Love (Mancini)
Casablanca (Max Steiner)
Claudine (Curtis Mayfield)
Rocky (Bill Conti)
Shaft (Isaac Hayes)
Hunting Buddies (2009)
Film needed more development -- Spoiler content
I watched this film on Hulu+ and based on the cover imagery and the byline, I expected much more drama and intrigue. The byline reads "It was going to be the best weekend of their lives until one of them disappeared..." As an avid outdoorsman, I looked forward to a film based on hunting traditions, the great outdoors and all that goes along with that. Unfortunately, I got a film that was rife with plot inconsistencies, scene goofs and other content that offends the intelligence of the viewer.
For example, when the guys were preparing for their hunt, they carried one small duffle bag each and the bags seemed to be very light. A three day deer hunting trip requires more than just a light duffle of gear, especially in the Minnesota woods. When they arrived at the cabin, some scenes had several inches of snow on the ground. Then moments later, there was no sign of snow. Snow does not melt that fast in late fall in Minnesota. On the first day, the scene at the cabin went from deep snow to no trace of snow to deep snow within a matter of minutes.
The other major inconsistency was with the fictional town of Renaissance, Minnesota. This was to be a slow paced town with population 700 where one murder committed years ago was an outlier. Now, suddenly, at least four killings occur for no apparent reason. The only provoked killing was when one of them was tricked into a revenge murder.
The sheriff is one of the most confusing characters of all. Apparently she hates the town of Renaissance and she only moved there and took the sheriff's position in order to be in her husband's home town where she has no family or friends. However, her husband died 18 months ago but she just took the job days ago, moving in from fast paced New York. If her husband is dead and she has no family or friends and she hates the town, why did she go there? She is there ostensibly to escape the occupational hazard of violence and gruesome murders.
Apparently nobody locks their door in this town. The fourth hunter showed up at the cabin when the other three guys thought he was still in Chicago. He was already inside the cabin when they arrived although he had not communicated with them about his arrival. When they went searching for the "lost" hunter, one of them simply opened up the front door of a person who allegedly killed his own father some years prior.
There is plenty of violence in this small town of 700 in Minnesota. We are given a perfunctory bar fight which was not convincingly choreographed, along with plenty of drinking. And yes, there must always be at least one drug addict in the group.
If you can accept melodramatic acting, forced dialog and plot inconsistencies, you will still long for some redeeming entertainment value from this film. For a moment, it appeared that romantic interest was developing between the sheriff and the cabin owner but this was immediately nixed for some reason. A romantic element could have helped the weak plot development. Certainly time could have been allotted since the film is hardly feature length at 76 minutes.
There are a lot of hints at character development in this film but in almost every case, the initial impetus fizzled out somewhere in the first 20 minutes of the film. Apparently, the other three hunters don't know the fourth at all, although they have been friends since childhood.
Finally, viewers who choose to finish this film are punished by seeing the most decent person in the movie tricked by a psychopath into murdering an innocent man. We are led to believe that the film portrayed four long-time friends on an annual hunting trip that results in one of them being lost. This scenario had the potential for a very good plot. However, the actual film is something else altogether.
The Chase (1966)
A Caricature of 1960s American South
The Chase is surprising for its failure to deliver on its promise, given the all-star cast. The plot development is mediocre and the acting too melodramatic.
This film includes all the stereotypes from the 1960s American south but moreover, it caricatures the townspeople as a lawless, demoralized mob.
I expected more from this film and I was a bit disappointed. However, there is some entertainment value in some of the action scenes, however unbelievable they may be. There are just too many scenes that fail the common sense test. Without giving away too much, suffice it to say that wife swapping, lawlessness, alcoholism, arson and murder are not the norm in even the worst towns of America. This film would have you believe otherwise.
Probably the Best Rockford Files Episode of the Series
'Sleight of Hand' is my favorite Rockford Files episode of the entire series. This episode shows a side of Jim Rockford that is usually ignored. To wit, Jim is genuinely in love with a beautiful woman and is shown as a father figure to her young daughter. The woman is recently divorced and she and Jim have recently returned from a weekend getaway along with the youngster. Through a strange turn of events, the woman is discovered missing after they return to her home.
Rockford's recounting to his father, Rocky, of the events leading up to the woman's disappearance is reminiscent of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer series from an earlier era. After much brooding and reflection and with Rocky's encouragement, Jim stumbles upon the clue that sends him off investigating the disappearance with his usual steadfastness.
Unfortunately, Jim's girlfriend, Karen, unwittingly witnessed some mafia activity while they stayed at the Buena Vista Inn. The crime bosses responded by killing Karen and substituting another woman into Jim's car. The imposter, ostensibly asleep in the back seat, made her exit immediately upon arrival at the home. A couple of cover up murders ensue and Jim proceeds to their solution while under suspicion of the L.A. police department even as warrants are issued for his arrest.
This episode evokes more emotional reaction than all other Rockford Files episodes combined. James Garner as Jim Rockford is seen at his most vulnerable moment and yet he retains the presence of mind to pursue the case. This is personal for Jim Rockford. In this case, he is not hired to do a job but he is trying to recover his lost love to save her life. Unfortunately, this is not possible but Jim tries hard to sort out his feelings but it is apparent that he will not soon get over his hurt.
Despite the appeal of the main story line, many key questions are raised but never answered in this episode. (1) What becomes of the young daughter of Jim's girlfriend? (2) What did Karen actually see at the hotel that made the mafia kill her? (3) How could Jim drive for hours with an imposter in his back seat without noticing this? (4) The daughter stated that "Mommy didn't come back with us". So why didn't the girl scream or cry when she noticed that her mother was absent for the hours long car ride? Regardless of these ambiguities, 'Sleight of Hand" is the Rockford Files episode which comes closest to being a tear jerker. The suspense is compelling and the story is told in a sensitive and vulnerable style which makes us feel Rockford's pain.
Mind Games (1989)
Mind Games (1989) is a very memorable movie with a plausible plot and subplot. The part of the sociopath (Caulfield) was masterful and the strained dynamic between the married couple was well played. I felt that the movie was not a typical horror flick because the motives of the sociopath were not transparent but they were revealed slowly but surely through his journal. This film goes to show how one twisted individual can wreak havoc on unwitting people. It further illustrates why families should be protected and why strangers should be kept away from children. The film was very, very suspenseful and horribly entertaining.
The Shopworn Angel (1938)
Definitely a Different Time
This movie is definitely a blast from the past. The way people reacted to war in the time of WWI is so much different from the way things are today. It seems like people cared so much more about soldiers then. I don't know any body who would want to get married now, go to war in Iraq or Afghanistan and leave a beautiful wife behind to "keep the home fires burning". Maybe in age of WWI, Americans were more unselfish. This movie is worth seeing if only to serve as a documentary of how times change. The plot is definitely far-fetched by today's standards.
The love story here is more about the love of country instead of love between people. This thought provoking film is expertly carried by James Stewart and Walter Pidgeon. Margaret Sullavan's performance is less impressive because her character is not as believable to me.
Naive and Far-Fetched
The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959) is a very good film if only for its thought-provoking plot. Regardless of which side you are on regarding inter-racial marriage and dating, this movie will move you to consider that people are people, regardless of their color and people need people.
The other interesting thing about this movie is that Ralph Burton (Bellafonte) is the best man in the film and Ben Thacker (Ferrer) is the evil, self-centered one. In 1959, it must have required very forward thinking to portray the black man as the good and the white man as the evil one. Further, Sarah Crandall (Stevens) is obviously in love with Ralph Burton and wants him to claim her. He loves her, too, but is imprisoned by his prior socialization as a black man and will not allow himself to have the woman he loves.
The ending of this movie is a major disappointment. All three are shown walking down a deserted street holding hands with Crandall in the middle. Does this mean that the men are going to share her? Clearly, in this case, one man is going to get the girl and the other one isn't. If love has anything to do with it, Burton should rightly have the woman. But, Ben Thacker's self-serving interests lead him to attempt killing Burton. Burton decides to defend himself and accidentally reads a sculpture with a reference from the Bible about turning your swords to plowshares and is deeply affected. He throws down his weapon and naively places himself at the mercy of Thacker who badly wants to murder him but can't because he would lose his self-respect for shooting an innocent man who won't fight back.
This movie does real damage to Harry Bellafonte's image as a man and as an actor. Twice in the movie, he throws down his weapon at times when he needs it most. A beautiful woman is in love with him and stops just short of throwing herself at him but he turns his back and walks out with a sense of martyrdom and literally sends the woman to the other man. There is a time for fighting and a time for making love and Burton fails to rise to either occasion.
However, to Burton's credit, he is obviously the most intelligent and capable man. He develops a reputation among the others for being able to fix anything and uses a shortwave radio to contact other apocalypse survivors in far away locales. Burton also saved Thacker's life and was instrumental in nursing him back to health. Interestingly, the man whose life he saved was so willing to take his. My favorite quote of the movie was when Sarah Crandall told Ralph Burton "you're a good and decent man...what else is there to know?" That quote must have come easy to Stevens because she was truly color blind and later married a black man in reality. In summary, this was a very good movie but somewhat far-fetched for its time. New York City was reduced to only three people...hard to believe.
My imagination runs toward thinking what comes next for these three. Sooner or later, someone will get the woman because she is definitely ready for "marriage" as she says. In fact, she (Crandall) was the first to raise sexual issues in this film. See it for yourself and tell me what you think.