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Hell Drivers (1957)
Excellent British Film Noir
Hell Drivers to begin with is a who"s who of unknown actors who became famous in later years. Sean Connery, Patrick McGoohan, Sid James, Gordon Jackson and of course Jill Ireland and first husband David Macullum. Hell drivers is a film made with a tight budget about after WW2,good jobs were few and far between, so at that time men would do any type of work to make a living. Driving ballast was known as piece work, where the more runs you made the more money you got. The black and white cinematography shows just how bleak it was in Britain at that time. It also shows unlike Hollywood movies the type of men you would see every day. I worked at Reeds Papermills and some of my co-workers at the factory behaved just that way. Some were cause, but on the other hand, respectful to women as shown in this film. If you want to look for faults you can find them easy, such as driving loads at such a speed would result in many accidents or deaths. Never any police about and of course the fight scene between Stanley Baker and Patrick Mcgoohan which was for it"s time violent, but tame for to day standards. If this was made today, the fight would be more tough and violent, most probably Martial Arts would be thrown in and of course the language would be more foul. I have noticed a couple of reviews from the States and i can honestly say with all the money Hollywood put into their films, they have also made some buffers. Much as i still enjoy it today, but War Of The worlds with Gene Barry for example, you can see the strings dangling. No if you want to see a good British movie, i recommend Hell Drivers. If Hollywood want to make a remake, i recommend Russell Crowe and David Morse for the Baker and McGoohan roles, an Italian actor for the Herbert Lom role and maybe David Macullum or Sean Connery doing a cameo as Crowes father, although in the Original there was only the Mother.
Lawman is without a doubt one the best westerns ever made and on top, it was the first western directed by English director Michael Winner. A group of cowboys, after a long cattle drive arrive in a town called Bannock and get carried away with their drunken celebration and shoot up the town, accidentally killing an old man. The cowboys have no knowledge of the accidental shooting until months later the marshal of bannock Jared Maddox excellently played by Burt Lancaster arrives in the town of Sabbath to arrest them. The marshal of Sabbath Cotton Ryan, played by veteran actor Robert Ryan is unwilling to co-operate as the town relies on the ranchers for their living. Ryan has a reputation of one incident only when years before he outgunned some gunmen in the town of Fort Bliss, but is now week and considered by many in the town of Sabbath as a coward. The top rancher is Vince Bronson excellently played by Lee J Cobb of The Virginian TV series. Bronson is prepared to offer retribution to the old mans family and something for Maddox too, but Maddox will not trade. Lawman is not your traditional shoot em up western with the good guys v the bad guys. It"s an intelligent story of normal hard working honest cowboys letting of steam and being responsible for a tragic death. Maddox is the honest Marshal who's job it is to bring these men in dead or alive. The film shows that Cowboys carry a gun for protection. Snakes and such and sometimes they can get pretty good with it, with enough practice, but a Lawman is a trained killer of men.This is explained in a scene between Burt Lancaster and in his first movie role Richard Jordon, a fine actor who left us too soon. Of course it shows that if a member of your family was killed accidentally or not, you would not accept the apology of the killer or killers and accept a sum of money, unless you have few scruples. It also shows how the towns people will stand up for the ranchers, as they are their main towns source of income. As stated by Lancaster when confronted by them in the saloon while eating his dinner. You want the law, but you want it to stay quiet. What happens some place else is not your concern. This film has a strong supporting cast. J D Cannon of Mcloud fame, Ralph Wait of The Waltons, Robert Duvall, William C Watson and brilliant stage actor Joseph Wiseman who knows Lancasters character from years back regarding another killing. The dialogue is excellent, the showing of how a saloon really looked in them days is very authentic. Very smokey and dirty. Also no fancy gun play such as twirling a pistol, like you see in the old westerns. If you are looking for a John Wayne or Clint Eastwood type western, with the exception of Eastwoods Oscar winning Unforgiven, you will be disappointed, but if you are looking for a western about normal people involved in a tragic situation, then is is the film for you.
Killer Joe (2011)
This has got to be one of the most disgusting films i have ever seen. If people can call this entertainment is beyond belief and especially from a director like William Friedkin. A young man is heavily in debt to a gangster. He comes up with the idea of hiring a hit-man to kill his own mother because she has a life insurance policy for $50,000. He has heard of a man named Killer Joe, who is also a police officer who will do it for $20,000. An appointment with the killer is made and his fee is $25000, but he can only pay when the policy is cashed. The killer first of all refuses, but changes his mind, because he has the hots for the young mans sister, so he decides to have an affair with the sister until the money is paid. Both his father and daughter are involved in the plot as his father is now living with another woman who is an alcoholic. I won"t spoil the rest of the so called story.1] Would a hit-man announce that he is a police officer? 2.After he pays the hit-man the $25,000, $25,000 is left to be split between his Stepmother, Father, his sister and himself which i $6,166 each. 3] Out of his share, i ask, how much is this heavy debt? After the murder, we are then for the rest of the film, subjected to some of the most sickening violence i have ever seen. Years ago Hollywood complained about the violence in Sam Peckinpah"s movies. My only criticism of Peckinpah was his treatment of women in his films, but the violence towards women in Killer Joe, makes the rape scene in Straw Dogs look like a kissing scene from a Walt Disney film. At least Peckinpah"s films had a story unlike this. I have always been an admire of the work of actor Matthew McConaughey, but how he could act in this is beyond me. It was so sickening i could"nt eat the rest of my dinner, i had to throw it away. Usually these type of roles are given to unknown players, but i suppose bringing in established actors in would bring in more money, but how they could have worked on this i don"t know. Established or not, i wouldn"t work on a film like this for any amount of money. I have given this 1-10, as it is not possible to give it a 0.
Next of Kin (1989)
Enjoyable thriller for a quiet evening at home.
I was never a Patrick Swayze fan, not because of his ability as an actor, but the movies he made. After watching the complete series of North And South, which he made before he became famous, i thought we would be in for some fine films. Next Of Kin in my view was an exception. The usual revenge story line, a member of a family is murdered by the mob and his family want revenge. What i found interesting about Next Of Kin, was the way Bill Paxtons family were portrayed. Not the usual cliché of being eliterite, stupid and being moonshiners. They were portrayed as intelligent human beings not to fool around with. I thought the entire cast played their parts well. Some reviewers criticise Ben Stiller for being miscast as a mobsters son. Well members of the Cosa Nostra do not walk around looking like people with blood dripping fangs and frothing at the mouth, they look like everyone else. Remember what Martin Scosece said in an interview about making Goofellas. A good film to watch on a quiet evening.
This was movie making at it's best. Unlike the movies of today. Fine Acting, Photography, Costumes, Filming, Script and especially the who's who in the movie world doing their cameos. In my view the finest performance came from Robert Newton, who in my view stole the picture. It was reminiscent of his performance as Long John Silver in Treasure Island. Just as devious. Young children of today enjoy this version, even though they have been brought up on the Jackie Chan version, which is far inferior. David Niven himself stated that this was his favorite film and i can see why. I would also imagine that the participants all had a great time.
A true masterpiece.
Killer Elite (2011)
I watched this movie for the first time on DVD last night, as a friend of mine was telling me what a great film it was. My expectations were not very high. After watching it, i found that what i was expecting was what i got. We have been bombarded with these action pictures for years now. Loads of violence, blood, explosions. The tough guy actors grunting their lines and pulling faces. Of course a beautiful young lady is thrown into the picture for good measure. Arn't people a little bit tired of this nonsense, because i am. The annoying thing for me about this film, is that it is passed as a true story. Clive Owen is a good actor and i think his talents can be used for better things. His scenes with Jason Straitham were a bit similar to Mel Gibsons Scene in The Expendables 3 with Stallone. Like Gibson with Stallone, he acted Straitham of the screen. Just like Stallone, Straitham can't act for toffee.
Robert De Niro as usual brought a strong presence to the film, as he always does, but he has come down over the years. His performances in the past such as Taxi Driver, The Mission, True Confessions, were outstanding, but then as Charlton Heston once said, why does such a fine actor after he did Goodfellas wanted to keep playing Las Vegas hoods all the time and i Always noticed he was always using the f.. word even in his small cameo in The Good Shepherd. No sorry, this film for me is just something to watch on a rainy day in the living room if you have nothing special to do.
12 Years a Slave (2013)
I must have watched a totally different film to every body else. Solomon Walthop is a free man living in Saratoga. He travels to Washington, where he is known to polite society. He meets up with two Gentlemen, who invite him out to dinner and get him drunk. He is sick everywhere. Next thing, you see him in shackles and in a dungeon. he is beaten and you find out, that he has been kidnapped and sold into slavery. So far i find the film interesting. Then for 1 hour and 50 minutes you watch people being whipped, beaten, hanged and a black slave crying throughout the film. all the white people, with the exception of the slaver Ford and the Canadian Abolishinist, played by Brad Pitt, look as if they are portraying the character Simon Le Green from Uncle Toms Cabin and Pitt who is supposed to be playing a Canadian, sounds more like Patrick Swayze out of North And South, which in my opinion is the best ever depiction of that period. A story like this cannot be told in a couple of hours anyway. A far superior film to this was Amistad by Spielberg, which was also based on a true story. Yes you see whippings, but you see the the taking over of the ship and then the court proceedings. In this film you only know what happened to the bad guys at the end credits. My opinion is this was like a rehash of two other terrible movies based on two very good books, Mandingo and Drum, also with fine actors and actresses. Although this one is better made. Very disappointing.
The Key to Rebecca (1985)
Waste Of Good Acting Talent.
This film is unbelievably bad. I have never been a fan of David Soul and this film, he kills people for the hell of it and speaks that "Ve Have Vays Off Making You talk Accent" just as he did in the film Pentathlon with Dolf Lundgren. You have Cliff Robertson as an English Officer, speaking the Queens English and Robert Culp playing Rommel and quoting lines like "I Vill Eat Ze Blitish For Bleakfast and Ze Blitish Have Defeated Me. How can two fine actors as Cliff Robertson and Robert Culp, who are normally good, act so bad. Fortress in Cairo was far better with a low budget. This story could be remade, with English, German and Arabic actors.
The Buccaneer (1958)
Good old fashioned Saturday Morning Cinema stuff.
If you want to watch an accurate account about The Battle Of New Orleans, then this is not the movie for you. This the type of film i used to watch as a kid at Saturday Morning Cinema. A great cast. Fine Costumes. The pace is reasonable and the colour is excellent. What does impress me is it does not portray the Americans as all squeaky clean and us British as totally evil, unlike Mel Gibsons The Patriot. I find it strange, that there are only a handful of films about both The American War Of Independence and the War Of 1812. Both wars being an important part of both American and British history. This is the type of film, you want to watch on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, when the weather is bad. If a remake would be made, i would as another reviewer said, Anthonio Bandares as Laffitte and maybe Tom Berenger as Jackson. Female interest maybe Nicol Kidman.
Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
Laughton's finest performance.
Up until i saw this film for the first time yesterday evening on DVD, i always considered Charles Laughtons best performance was as Grachius in Spartacus, but this was overwhelming. As i have stated in my reviews of other old films, they do not make them like this any more. The humor coming out in Laughtons lines was hysterical, considering the serious storyline. There were fine performances from all the actors. Tyrone Power proved he was not just a swashbuckler, but a fine actor. Marlene Dietrich played the part of Powers wife brilliantly. You might notice a connection with Mutiny on the Bounty. Charles Laughton Played Captain Bligh in the original version and Torin Thatcher, the Prosecution Barrister, played the Captain of the HMS Brittainy in the Marlon Brando remake, but his scene was deleted. A must for anyone who enjoys courtroom dramas.