Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Weakest Daniel Craig Bond
Like most of the world, it seems, we have been quite impressed with the Daniel Craig era of 007, but Spectre is the least satisfying of the four. There's still bravura film-making here, notably in the eye-filling opening spectacle set in a too-perfect fantasy version of Mexico City's Day of the Dead, but that leads into the series' worst title song and bad decisions by the filmmakers only continue from there. (Bond has survived mediocre title tunes before, especially post John Barry, but they've never been saddled with one this dreary.) While the film includes virtual re-enactments of some past action scenes, such as the train fight from From Russia With Love, they were done better the first time. And even though a little more humor is allowed to creep back into the series (I liked that not all of his gadgets were working) the film overall feels bloated, lugubrious, and self-important.
Worst of all, if you're going to resurrect a major villain from the books and early movies, and even name the film after his evil organization, why would you then ignore the Fleming version, and artificially, almost arbitrarily, tie him not only to Bond's childhood, but to the villains of the past three films? It's not believable, and twists all four plots into one big personal vendetta against one British agent. This feels like a major miscalculation.
Mannix: Who Will Dig the Graves? (1968)
Golden Age Screenwriter's Last Shot
Some nice twists in this final script by the great Daniel Mainwaring, author of the classic "Out of the Past." Not in the same league, of course, but above average for '60's episodic TV. (Slightly spoiled by an all-too-typical scene in which cops pull up and, without a word, haul away only the people that need hauling away. Weekly TV heroes often seemed to have a psychic connection with local police. I would guess this scene was handled somewhat better in the script.)
Anyway, always nice to see Barry Atwater, here a few years away from playing the title role in "The Night Stalker". Harry Dean Stanton gets to sing a little and play guitar. And Linda Marsh proves that her career should have been more than TV guest shots.
By the way, the appearance here of the band Peppermint Trolley, who would go on to perform the themes for Brady Bunch and Love American Style, seems a little less historically significant than the first season appearances of Buffalo Springfield and Neil Diamond.
Thunder Over the Plains (1953)
This just became one of my favorite Randolph Scott movies.
First, there's an intelligent script by Russell Hughes, who wrote for some good radio shows like "Nightbeat" and Alan Ladd's "Box 13", as well as such films as Anthony Mann's "Last Frontier", Delmer Daves' "Jubal", and even the best of the giant-bug movies, "Them".
Then, there's the look and feel of the film. Director Andre De Toth and his great cinematographer Bert Glennon (who had done remarkable work with the likes of Josef von Sternberg and John Ford) light and shoot for realism and emotional impact. Glennon had also shot "Man Behind the Gun" (available on the flip side of this DVD), so I suppose director Felix Feist could be blamed for that film's phony-looking stage sets. Here, in "Thunder... ", a barroom scene looks like it was shot in a real barroom (foreshadowing Clint Eastwood's "natural lighting" technique by decades) and exteriors are shot outdoors. To be fair, the Feist film may have had budget or producer issues, but given that film's potential (dealing with water rights, corrupt politicians, the possible secession of southern California, even the semi-legendary Joaquin Murrietta as a supporting character) it still seems like a typical, entertaining, 40's-style B-movie. "Thunder...", released the same year, 1953, seems more forward-looking, more compelling, more of the age of the "adult" Westerns, even though the literally flag-waving ending with its narrative paean to the great state of Texas kind of pulls us back to B-movie-land.