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Robert Wise directs but without much enthusiasm and Lee Garmes, the cinematographer has little opportunity to show his skill. Indeed, this little B movie, I hesitate to use the much overused 'noir' tag, is most uninspired. Prompted, apparently, by the real life Senate Committee on organised crime and even sporting an afterword by the real life head of that committee, Senator Estes Kefauver, urging American citizens to play their part in stamping out such crime in their neighbourhoods, this still lacks a bit of 'life'. John Forsythe doesn't help with a lacklustre performance as the lead and Joan Camden even less so as his wife. The thing here is that this was clearly intended as a well meaning do good kind of a film, setting out the problem and urging everyone to help solve it. To help things along at one point the wife asks her husband, 'What is the mafia?' so there's little doubt at what level this film was aimed. Competent but far too uninteresting a story and with no violence the 'real life' message is about all this has.
Back to Hollywood and this is Warners 30s black & white highly dramatic fare starring Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart. Not much of Bogart's work from around this time is all that strong but here he almost already seems the big star he would become, most comfortable in the forthright and caring lawyer. He takes nothing away from Davis, of course, though who still shines through a film that is clearly centred around her. It is a very good performance throughout from the not quite dizzy blonde to the pioneering and ruthless dame. The film begins with great scenes inside the clip-joint where the girls work and money and drinks flow as the girls flirt and the gangsters prowl. The film doesn't exactly lose its way in the middle but it just seemed to me that it might be going to lapse into some moralising crusade. Not at all, this really gets into another gear and the violence surprises. Good low key ending too. Impressive with good script, stirring music and fine performances all round.
A late Fulci with much adverse criticism, surely it can't be that bad, I thought. Well, actually, it doesn't start too badly. Some sort of nazi orgy which is being filmed, nothing very explicit but diverting, then a long car journey in present day France. Eventually this settles down as a haunted house mystery and some nazi ghosts. There is some blood and gore and much naked flesh but no decent story, no decent dialogue and the only passable acting id by Robert Egon who plays a young nazi soldier. He has a most effective scene early on where the violence, blood and sex work dangerously well together but not once more does this film rise (or should that be sink?) to such a level. Music's awful too but then this is the 80s but 80s or not does not excuse such lazy film making especially when it is so well lit and shot. It's not a terrible idea either and with a bit more care this could have been a pretty potent brew. Shame.
My third Ugo Liberamore film and it seems unlikely I'll get the chance to see any more. These three, The Sex Of Angels, May Morning and this were hard enough to get hold of but all very much worth a search. If this Venice set horror is not quite up to the other two, it isn't far off and I enjoyed it. My print was pretty degraded and the film shot in Venice in the winter but I still reckon this could be the best looking Venice on film. Creepy and unsettling with moments of true horror, this intrigues from the very start with the blind boy being led down the narrow alleyways and across the tiny bridges. The music helps keep things from becoming too ordinary and Playboy 'playmate', Rena Niehaus a welcome distraction from some of the more grisly terrors. I've seen this described as a giallo, which it is not and moreover, I have to say, it doesn't crack along like some wild thriller but with Rosemary's Baby and Don't Look Now merely as undertones this is a very different vision of satanism.
I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this despite being a Verhoeven fan because of the historic element and the scale of the tale. Indeed at the start I was pretty certain the two hours were going to be a problem. Lots of anonymous battling with Tom Burlinson introduced as the young lead. Most uncharismatic, though things did pick up with the appearance of Jennifer Jason Leigh. Then with the appearance of Rutger Hauer all began to click and Jason Leigh fairly blossomed in her first major starring role. The sex is more explicit and rumbustious than the violence is bloody and perhaps reflects the times, which have certainly changed in this respect. I found the Leonardo Da Vinci type erections intriguing and amusing and after that shaky start there always seemed to be something to catch the eye or hold the interest to keep a very crowded and dark tale afloat.
Impressive and bold B movie with a fantastic performance from a glowing, Lola Albright. A name that meant nothing to me and although I see she is still working today, her medium has mainly been TV, but why? Maybe this film was just a bit too strong for the time and she never got the attention she should have from it. The story of a young guy with an older woman, nothing new but here dealt with particularly well with no moralising. Much is clearly low budget stuff with some pretty poor 'teenage' scenes but all the scenes involving the gradual seduction and those of the later striptease are shot with astonishing attention to detail and sizzle before you. From her very first advances with the naked foot upon his hand to the startling, aforementioned, strip, these are some of the most sensually shot scenes I have seen in film. Ending is uncompromising too, which comes as a relief.
Well, this is certainly something else! The seeming painfully low budget, the overlong fights and the non-involving beginning had me reaching for the remote very early on but gradually this won me over. Mr Inanc, who I had never even heard of, turns out to have helmed over 70 films and his male lead in this one, Cuneyt Arkin, has more than 250 films to his credit and is still working. The female lead, a rather attractive, if chunky, Emil Tumer, has not been so active but certainly excels in this. I suppose this looks a bit like Mad Max at times with the mixed bag that comprise the costumes and there are trucks and lots of explosions but this is really nothing more than a series of fights, fists, feet, knives, guns and hand grenades except it never quite runs the way we expect. There is a line of humour and for a brief moment when I switched from hating it to quite liking it, even wondered if it were supposed to be a comedy. But no and whilst not to be taken seriously it is pretty strong on the violent and sometimes bloody killings. One other thing, the girls wear very short skirts or tight shorts and not once is an opportunity missed for an up the skirt shot. Every time there is an uphill struggle, a rope to climb or an opponent to kick, where the camera would normally be expected to shy away here it revels in it. Very strong and effective ending ensures you cannot feel too bad about this non stop caper.
Oh dear! Otto Preminger, I am certain, made this with the best of intentions, but how after the glorious and mysteriously complex, Bunny Lake Is Missing, could he spend time on this? Over long and overwrought, this race drama is surely one of his most misguided enterprises. Michael Caine's acting limitations are cruelly exposed as he struggles even with the accent. Jane Fonda is good and although she was already an established actor her big star stuff was around the corner. Faye Dunaway is also fine and this her breakout film with fame and fortune beckoning. Burgess Meredith is a sad sight in this but amazingly he was only mid career and a great survivor. I'm really trying to avoid having to keep saying how bad I thought this was. Particularly because so much of it was okay, do I feel so annoyed and frustrated at the whole chunks that should have been rewritten (or left out). I understand a cut version showed on US TV and I can see that there are a couple of sexual scenes that whilst not particularly explicit do sit uneasily within this tale where children are shown to be so involved in the troubling scenes of racism.
Most impressive film from Ugo Liberatore. Made two years after, The Sex of Angels, this is particularly interesting because it is a film made in 1970, in Oxford by an Italian. Alessio Orano is the male lead and Jane Birkin the female and even money on who is the prettiest. Looks aside Orano is excellent as the politically aware Italian student enrolled at Oxford and disillusioned from the start. he cannot see why whilst the rest of Europe is in turmoil, questioning everything, why the mighty college seems intent to carry on with its weird and bullying ways. The film begins leisurely but soon gets under the skin. The director has a fine eye for visuals and a keen interest in human behaviour helping to make this a most powerful movie, relevant, even now, 45 years on. Oh and, yes, Birkin does look wonderful throughout, even if we are not entirely sympathetic towards her as this descends from hippy tunes and green fields to corruption, violence and worse.
Up off the sofa and out to see a film at the cinema. It's been a while and it's the latest from Jim Jarmusch that gets me off and out. Actually, I'm not sure i would have known this was a Jarmusch film if I hadn't known. Not his usual cool minimalism. But I guess his personal passions are on display and the movie gets off to a brilliant start with the two main protagonists plus John Hurt's character, quickly and interestingly established. We also get a loving look and listen to vinyl records and guitars as the three are gradually brought closer together. The loving couple get together amidst the glorious rough and tumble of a Detroit property and oh, aren't those dying Detroit streets used to great advantage as mournful drives (at night, of course) illustrate. For me the mood is too painfully broken halfway through with the arrival of a brat sister and the whole film changes gear. Still very good but for a while I was basking in brilliance.
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