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The Plunderers (1960)
There is an underlying tension running through this movie from the first frame. Relationship tension between the residents, tension between the group of strangers and tension between the strangers and residents. I'd have liked to of seen 5 minutes at the beginning of the movie showing what the 4 strangers had been up to prior to them arriving at the town, it was briefly mentioned in the text but not in sufficient detail for me and I couldn't help wondering why they were sticking around as only 2 people in the entire town seemed to be under the age of 50. Jeff Chandler as the hero with only one working arm smoldered his way through the movie and although very watchable, never seemed to get out of second gear. Some nice use of angles by the director and a couple of very effective lighting shots particularly one with a swinging lamp in the bedroom. It was 75 minutes of waiting for the inevitable showdown but was still extremely watchable.
Song for Marion (2012)
Film for all ages
We had the choice of seeing this or Die Hard 27 or whatever we're up to now. Chose this & what a delight it turned out to be. A very simple story. A group of OAP's, sorry OAPz (It's more street!) are taught to sing current pop songs by a young music teacher and entered into a choir competition. Marion is a member of this choir but desperately ill with cancer and her grumpy husband tries to stop her going s he fears it is too much for her. I won't add any spoilers as to how the plot progresses. You will laugh, my wife cried for about an hour constantly and took out my handkerchief, it will tap into relationships and make you think about what you have yourself. It will ensure you never listen to 'Ace of spades' again! Terence Stamp, not a favourite actor of mine, was just brilliant and spot on with his grumpy old man performance. Vanessa Redgrave just gives a beautiful, touching master class. Christopher Eccleston is gritty as ever and Gemma Arterton as the plucky, strong willed young teacher just makes you smile throughout. The cast of the choir also all have their priceless moment. This may not be for everyone but there is something in it for everyone and although it may appeal to the older market, the message is equally strong for all age groups.
Man Without a Star (1955)
Occasionally, things come up in a movie that you've never really thought about. Today, it was the introduction of barbed wire. It is a common sight in the countryside now and yet there possibly were arguments, fights and even killing when it was first introduced. I rarely ever see Kirk Douglas in a movie that I didn't enjoy. He is extremely watchable as the easy-going, banjo playing, drifter who takes the young Tony Curtis lookalike, William Campbell under his wing. Despite a couple of dodgy editing moments, this is easy viewing stuff and although a hard edge is simmering just below the surface, it is an enjoyable watch that frequently left me with a smile on my face.
Butterflies Are Free (1972)
I bumped into this movie, a Goldie Hawn feature that I hadn't heard of. It turned out to bit of a gem. Clearly, written for the stage rather than the big stage, it did translate into a watchable couple of hours although I still consider that the stage is probably the most suitable home for this piece. The acting was terrific. Hawn was quirky, charming, frustrating, not to mention sexy. Such a confused and immature character, yet you couldn't help but like her. You wanted to sympathise with Edward Albert as the blind neighbour and yet, he didn't want people to sympathise with him. He displayed admirable courage and yet a fragility that could break at any second despite his noble. independence. Eileen Heckart won an Oscar for the mother. She was frustrating to start with and then her love and determination to look after her son shone through and you ended up being so full of admiration for her. Lots of talking and yet you get drawn in from an early stage so that you really, genuinely care. Don't let this butterfly pass you by.
Bugles in the Afternoon (1952)
Love triangle to the sound of trumpets
An interesting variation on the story of Custer's last stand. It deals with the same battle with the Sioux, but at a site a few miles away from where Custer and his men were massacred. This premise is a nice angle to focus on although I'm not sure that any part of this has any historical battle. The scenery is breathtaking and we were treated to arrows in the back, Indians flying off horses, hand to hand combat and fisticuffs between soldiers. Ray Milland looks alarmingly like John Wayne, but I enjoyed his performance. Too much of the movie concentrates on a love triangle between Milland, his boss and seemingly the only female in the whole area. Quite frankly, both men needed their heads banging together and told to get on with the job in hand. But where would the drama be in that? Despite this whole feud becoming a little tiresome, this was an interesting piece and is well worth a view.
High Lonesome (1950)
Are you lonesome tonight?
There were so many westerns made, that it has to have a unique angle or something memorable, to sick its head above the parapet. Did I enjoy this movie? Without a doubt. The characters were strong and likable and I really found myself rooting for the young lad. Location? Excellent. The great expanse of the country was well portrayed and the shacks, houses and barns were all spot on. Acting? Good overall. All utterly believable and gave a strong sense of family unit. Storyline? Well this is maybe where the movie didn't quite do itself justice. The story was okay, but has, with variations, been told hundreds of times and it didn't bring much new to the table. But at 80 minutes, it wasn't too long and I found myself glad to have watched and enjoyed it.
The Tingler (1959)
That shiver down your spine.....
I have a theory. People like to be scared at the movies. Whether it's that chill or tingle that you feel when ultimately you know you'll be safe when the movie ends, or whether it's just a good excuse for courting couples to cuddle. Horror movies are always popular! The director tells you at the beginning of this movie that people will scream in the seat next to you. Well, I never screamed but I did laugh on numerous occasions. No horror movie seems complete without Vincent Price and as usual, he fits in perfectly. The rest of the acting is quite frankly, shocking. But it doesn't really matter, as the real star of this movie is the giant centipede like tingler. Truly hilarious and actually, for the late 1950's, it was quite well done. So scary? No! But entertaining to watch after a few drinks on a Friday night? Definitely!
British Intelligence (1940)
For a minor war movie, this wasn't too bad. Cross, double-cross, double, double-cross....well, you get the idea. The whole idea of British intelligence staring Boris Karloff immediately contradicts itself. Karloff plays his usual type of role and looked like he hadn't slept in at least a fortnight. Margaret Lindsay stole the show for me with a charming and well-judged performance.I guess the secret of this movie's success for me, is that I was never entirely sure until the end, just exactly who was on which side. It's all about suspense and tension and this movie just about pulled that off. A few clichés throughout, but this was made in war time and are therefore forgivable. A stirring speech at the end to round off a movie that kept my attention and is worth a view.
I came into this movie knowing nothing about it & not knowing what to expect. When it started with sub-titles, I thought I was watching the wrong movie. Soon I was drawn in & eventually mesmerized by the sheer, raw, honesty of the whole thing. There are three strands to this movie. ENGLAND: Normally London is depicted in movies by Tower bridge, Big Ben & red buses. Sure, we had these but also so much more. The squalor of the flat where the boys lived with their drug riddled mother was spot on.This was not sensationalism or other dramatization. There are 10's of thousands of kids in this situation. The helplessness of the social workers and their inability to help was brilliantly observed. The thugs who caused the tragic death are all too prevalent on our streets. The only scene that didn't ring true was the funeral scene. I think that more thought & care is taken in our society - The cold-hearted production line here would be unforgivable. France: Yo could have turned the volume off & still known where you were. The mannerisms and gesticulations were spot on, as was the pace of these scenes. Cecile De France was an absolute revelation with her brilliant portrayal of a woman fighting with her near death/life changing experience as those around her carried on as if nothing had happened. Made me realise how there must be people around me in all walks of life having their own private mental battles. Eastwood caught some superb scenic shots, you could almost breathe in the clean air. US: Matt Damon is an international superstar and yet he totally underplayed this character who was as much an ordinary Joe as you are ever likely to meet. How many other movie stars of his caliber would be prepared to play such a low-profile character. Bryce Dallas Howard was a delight and gave a sparky, delightful performance. Again, Damon let her over-shadow him which just made his performance all the more brilliant.
Ultimately, this is a love story. Two lonely people fighting their inner demons and eventually finding each other and a young boy losing almost a part of himself and yet still loving his desperate mother when if all was right in the World, she would be loving him.
Absolutely brilliant movie that will stay with me for a long time.
Billy Two Hats (1974)
Hats off - In hindsight
At the end of this movie, I wasn't sure that I'd enjoyed it. But as the day wore on, I found myself continually thinking about it. Often, I leave a movie thinking I've enjoyed it and never give it a second thought. I wasn't sure for a lot of the film exactly what the point is other than the relationship between Peck (An outlaw with Scottish descendancy) and Billy (A half-breed Native Indian). But actually, this is the point and the characters are what make this movie work. Gregory Peck could never be accused of being type cast and he gave a valiant attempt at pulling off a Scottish accent. A lot of the words he nailed but then the accent completely disappeared for run of the mill dialect. A little more direction and time and his language would have matched an otherwise strong performance. Billy seemed a straightforward character to start with but layer upon layer are revealed as the movie progresses including an explanation for an otherwise daft movie title and you really find a sense of his history and upbringing. The sheriff gave a worthy performance but I was particularly impressed with the Apache gang and the stuttering wife. The Apache were made all the more terrifying by their random nature and personality so far removed from stereotypical Apache. The guy with the white parasol was the best of the bunch. The parasol is mentioned but no reference is made to how he obtained this. Some things are best unsaid, had he massacred a previous wagon and removed this as a trophy from some poor unsuspecting traveller? The stuttering wife was beautifully played. Her husband's answer to this disability was to slap her round the face. To her and her guests, this was nothing more than abuse but the husband clearly thought he was 'Rattling her brain box' and helping her out. Her vulnerability, loneliness and desire for love were superbly portrayed and I wish her love for Billy had been explored more fully. The movie reached a stand-off climax and there is a moral about how we treat our dead at the end which again leaves you thinking. Give this movie a chance, you may well draw a different conclusion but it is a little gem worth giving a chance.