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The Female Bunch (1971)
Well worth watching if you get the chance
I bought this as an ex-rental on VHS for 50p an thought i cant go wrong at that price its bound to be a load of rubbish,silly dialogue,silly clothes ridiculous script etc.Id never heard of the film before but had vaguely heard of Al Adamson the director so ill give it a try,you never know it may be good for a laugh at least. But how wrong i was,it turned out to be quite a good film and very watchable.The film is basically about a mean but sexy womens gang who live out on a ranch in the wilderness and the gang leader Grace has a drugs deal going on across the border in Mexico,which the girls frequently visit illegally indulging in drunken orgies and mayhem with the local men.But back on the ranch men are not aloud and as Russ Tamblyn finds out will be dealt with severely.The films main theme seems to be all about revenge,the women are taking revenge on men for being men and as the film moves along the men want revenge back and you have to see the ending to see what i mean,i don't want to give any more away as it would spoil the viewing.But if you get the chance to see this film you probably wont be disappointed by todays standards its pretty tame although when it was made in 1968 it must have been very shocking as there is quite a lot of nudity and some fairly graphic sex scenes which make it very ahead of its time,even today it would be strictly adult viewing.The only problem i have with this film is the character Scotti the Vegas singer who you see at the beginning of the film,his acting is well over the top and he is just awful,but his only in the film for a short while so you can forget him easily.The film was obviously made on a budget but that doesn't matter as there's no need for any special effects even though the plane chase across the desert is well directed.In all this is a very worth while film to watch and be entertained by if you get the chance as its unusualness makes it memorable. Try to get the VHS version released in the late 80's if you can as the DVD version whats been on sale has cut many of the interesting parts out,and the recording is really poor quality.What a shame.
To Be or Not to Be (1942)
Hail my self
I watched this film recently and thought id leave a brief comment,i found this original version better than the remake although the one with Mel Brooks is good as well.What i like about this Jack Benny version is that the humour is never forced,you can see the sincerity in the actors as although they are playing for laughs they are also saddened by the dark humour in their scripts,this film was probably Ernst Lubritsch's way of drawing the publics attention to what was really going on during that period in Warsaw,Chaplin did the same thing when he made the Great Dictator.Sometimes the best way to get your point across to people is through comedy as the horrors that were really going on during this time were being very played down by the press and the government and yet the public had to be made aware in some way.I found this a very intelligent comedy,in that its funny when it wants to be and yet makes sure you see its serious nature.And on the other hand making fun of your enemy is a great way of getting back at them.Great film a real pity that it was Carole Lombards last.
Carry on Cleo (1964)
Whose got the skinniest legs Romans or Britains
I do love the Carry Ons,this is one of my favourites especially as it has Amanda Barrie playing Cleo,didn't she have such big eyes?i particularly like the way she portrays Cleo as a sort of hippie Groovy Chic,rather than a big boobed no personality bimbo as was portrayed in the Up Pompai series with Frankie Howard,which was about the same era.Warren Mitchell is particularly funny as Marcus & Spencius it makes you wonder why he was never part of the team,this is the only time you see him in a carry on and his time on set is memorable.For me the funniest thing about this film now is how skinny most of the stars legs are,whose are the skinniest would you say?Charles Hawtrys,Jim Dales,Kenneth Williams,Cleos even Sid James had thin legs,i think they should have all gone down the gym first.But then the Carry on team were always different,they could always raise a laugh in one way or another.
Witchfinder General (1968)
When evil came to the southeast
I have only ever seen the cut version of this film,so i cant comment on it being gory or frightening.Its a very interesting story nonetheless and a very true one.No one actually knows what really happened to Matthew Hopkins,we would love to believe he was murdered as he really was such an evil man,he terrorised all of Essex and all of East Anglia.He just walked into villages and towns promising to rid them of their witches for large amounts of money,which he was paid.Money was his real motive.He also had some old hag as his helper,i cant remember her name,but she was just as evil.Between them they made trumped up charges against hundreds of people,men as well as women,although usually the old and vulnerable,any old woman who lived on her own and owned a black cat,would be a target.The worst place Matthew Hopkins left his legacy was in Manningtree a pretty little town,just outside of Colchester in Essex.Many locals claim Manningtree to be haunted by the spirits of his victims,they often hold ghost walks there, some even claim he is there in spirit.The witchfinder General has always been common folklore in East Anglia and Essex and i believe now hes known all over Britain,even though he never worked out of the South East of England.Because this is a true story you could never call this a horror film,it is more of a history film,but then i saw the cut version.Its a shame Britain doesn't still make films like this,instead of the countless nitty gritty depressing kitchen sink dramas,about prostitution and drugs and bad housing and abortions,and teenage pregnancies,i could go on but I'm already feeling depressed.
And Soon the Darkness (1970)
Better than average thriller
Haven't seen this film for years,its probably one of the most underrated British thrillers of all time given the date it was made 1970,it was of a new kind,it was tense,atmospheric and had lots of suspense,and towards the end the jumpy bit where Michelle Dotrice falls out of the cupboard was shocking.And the story is very believable,this was the era when hitchhiking and travelling alone was becoming more dangerous and not such a good option.When you think this was made in the height of the Hammer Horror era,when nowadays Hammer films would come across as silly,this film is much better,it just uses suspense and atmosphere,and there's hardly any script involved because the story is so basic and simple,you can see what Pamela Franklin is going through. Pamela Franklin and Sandor Eles starred in a few British horror films in the 1970s,both had worked for Hammer,and at one time they were well known faces in Britsh horror films.I have never seen this film on DVD,but i have heard you can buy it on region 1,luckily i have a multi region player.This is a great film if you ever get the chance to see it,sadly its almost forgotten now.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Good war film but...................
I'm usually a big fan of Spielberg,but in this film he comes across as a bit to anti-German,he may have his reasons and i think he has made them clear in Schindlers List,and i understand his feelings.But i think for a big epic like this it would have been better to have an unbiased portrayal of Germans so the film would have been universally admired,instead its coming across as anti-German propaganda especially when there is so much American flag-waving.Being English i have the same problem with Braveheart,Scots=good English=bad,this is really one dimensional character study,which just teaches people to live in ignorance,we all need to learn to move on.Surely its better to make films every culture is going to relate to,flag waving just promotes arrogance which leads to looking down on others.The other big problem i have with this film is that the Brits are not mentioned,or if we are i must have missed it,i must have blinked.This was a decisive battle and i know like thousands of other Brits we were involved,so whats the big idea?It would be like us making a film about the Somme or Ypes and not bothering to mention the Canadian and Australian involvement,that would be unforgivable.
Brimstone & Treacle (1982)
worth watching,forget the musical element
Dennis Potter never made a drama that never had a point,its just that his work was so deep the point of his dramas wasn't always obvious,in fact you felt you needed a high IQ level to get your head around his work.The important message of this film is that we shouldn't always be so trusting towards strangers,especially ones who seem so angelic they may have ulterior motives and in this case he did.How many cases have there been where the mentally handicapped have been abused by their carers,its not that often but its enough.Plus cases of the elderly go into nursing homes and end up being shoved about,i think he was making a very strong point.Stings character was a wolf in sheep's clothing,i think in the original version he was played by Micheal Kitchen,who i feel played the part better,the original version has only been on TV once as it had been banned,and may still be.The original version does put the point across better,i feel the remake lacks this, probably because Sting whose much more well known as a singer wasn't a good choice,it just made the film seem bizarre,people went to see this film purely to see what his acting was going to be like,so the point of the story sort of got lost.Dennis Potter was quiet ingenious, he never made a controversial film for the sake of being controversial,there was much more to him than that.Although i must admit its a pretty disturbing film,not one you would easily forget.
Hannibal Brooks (1969)
unusual war film
This really is a different kind of war film,and probably one of the best for family viewing,as a kid i watched this film every time it was on TV its memorable because it is so different.It is also one of the first films that was made that got us to support elephants against the unnecessary tusk trade as the terrible slaughter was at its height.In reality Ollie Reed was a bit frightened of the elephant as it wasn't a particularly friendly one he didn't like turning his back on her,i take it he was sober?Another good point about this film is that it doesn't portray the Germans as one dimensional characters,you have a mixture of good and bad, British films have always tried to do this its a shame that a lot of modern film makers from other parts of the world cant follow this example they should set out to entertain not offend.People shouldn't get off on seeing other races ridiculed,this shouldn't happen in modern cinema The Patriot is one example,and there's a lot more like that.Back to the film ,theres a lot to like about it, its entertaining well acted and has an exciting climax and eventually a happy ending.This was Ollies most likable role its a shame he didn't play more parts like this rather than the hardened villain types.But i think after this film his drinking got heavier,which ruined his looks his weight ballooned,and eventually his acting career went fastly down hill,he showed so much promise in the early part of his career.This is a good film to see him in his hey day when he was at the height of his popularity,wasted talent?Also Micheal J Pollard is really funny in this film.
Good but too many F.....words
Really good thriller with lots of tension.The ending is shocking,not the sort of ending your hoping for,but one that is mind blowing,and makes you think.The acting is excellent,especially from Kevin Spacey in an earlier role,which proves he was destined to become a star.Morgan Freeman and Gwyneth Paltrow are always good to watch and Brad Pitt is much better suited in these type of roles,his acting is very convincing as the young married cop.The only problem i have with this film is the amount of time the F...word is used,it seems a bit unnecessary,i know in reality you hear it all the time,but you can get sick of watching films where its used more than any other word,after all you watch films to escape the real world.But instead you watch a two hour film and hear more swearing in a couple of hours than what i hear all day in work.Other than this its an excellent film.
The Wedding Night (1935)
Good film if you get the chance to see it
Watched this film the other day expecting the worst from a 1930s film but was surprised it was really quite good.Its a story of two people from different cultural backgrounds who fall in love,the biggest problem is he is married,so the relationship is doomed to failure.I must admit i didn't care for the wife at all,as looking at this film from a 1930s aspect a woman always stood by her husband no matter what.This one deserts him purely because she misses her socialite lifestyle in New York,if she really loved him she would have stayed with him.I found her totally selfish,and a 1930s audience probably would have felt the same.When you watch these old films you have to forget your 21st century attitudes,as what seems acceptable now wasn't back then, she should have stayed with him.I hated Frederick and the father he was a pig and a bully who didn't care for his daughters happiness,which leads to a tragic conclusion i wont say why.I was really hoping that Gary cooper would ditch the wife then tell Frederick and her father where to get off and run away with the Polish girl for the perfect happy ending,but alas it wasn't to be.I don't understand why this film is forgotten because it is quite outstanding for its day.