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Loves Westerns ,film noir and period pictures
Devoted to the great game of cricket and can be found listening to traditional and insurgent country when not watching movies or cricket matches
Voracious reader -especially of pulp writers like Goodis and Jim Thompson and of Western novels
The Land Beyond the Sunset (1912)
This short but affecting movie was produced as a, promotional tool by the New York Fresh Air Fund, a charity dedicated to providing short breaks for children living in the slums of that city. A poor boy sells newspapers for his precarious living. His alcohol ravaged mother abuses him and he finds respite when taken for an excursion into the surrounding countryside. During the picnic he socialises with other children and listens, rapt, to a tale of an enchanted, fairytale world where he sees himself as a prince rescued from the clutches of an evil witch (his real life mother). In the the vision he is rescued by a young woman with a magic wand and transported to the Land of Eternal Happiness. When the time comes to return to the city and the life of abuse and grinding poverty he opts to stay behind. He makes a choice, the importance and implications of which are monumental. The closing shots are incredibly moving. Pure poetry. The movie is an expert blend of social realism and fairy tale. Undeniably sentimental, it is also utterly memorable.
Warrior Angels (2002)
Cut price sword and sorcery movie
Lady Elizabeth (Joanna Pacula) has proved herself a more than capable warrior ,doing valiant service in the Crusades when she is wounded and compelled to return to England .There she finds that major changes have taken place on her manor.A local warlord ,Grekker (Rutger Hauer) has gathered together a formidable band of outlaws ,is exacting tribute from the local peasantry ,and has taken her only son prisoner ,raising him in the outlaw way.She tries to raise a force to tackle the outlaw and recapture her son but the locals are too cowed and fearful to take action .Instead she assembles a small group of women ,all outcasts ,who are willing to fight on her side .There is the formidable Hunter(Molly Culvert) a skilled archer and sword fighter ;the prostitute Eve (Charlotte Avery)and the gypsy Sybil ,an expert on spells and potions .
Also in the brigand's camp -albeit reluctantly -is Luke(Arnold Vosloo) ,an enigmatic individual with a chequered past and who is uneasy at the actions of Grekker ,and his part in perpetuating his reign of terror.
The action is lively enough ,although budget restrictions don't help ,and the cast is better than usual for such fare .Sadly,the movie does not follow through on its themes ; for instance in the clearly implied sexual attraction felt by Hunter towards Elizabeth .This movie could have been so much better given the talent on display but is mired in the "adequate time passer " category .Watchable but a missed opportunity
Oklahoma John (1965)
Watchable European Western
This a "town tamer " Western ,like such classics as "Dodge City " or "My Darling Clementine " ,and without ever approaching the heights of such quality movies it is a perfectly decent little movie,always assuming you can overlook some less than ideal dubbing . The local Mr Big is rancher Edwards ,whose men display open contempt for the law ,and whose son is a vicious ,bullying weakling ,hiding behind his father's power and reputation.The new Sheriff turns out to be made of sterner stuff than his predecessors and stands up to Edwards and his men ,finding time along the way for some amorous dalliance with the daughter of a man killed on Edward's orders.
There are hints of "Rio Bravo" in the characters of the town drunk redeemed by the support of the Sheriff ,and the elderly town gaoler ,a garrulous and verbose gentleman .These have parallels with the roles played by Dean Martin and Walter Brennan in the Hawks classic,
The movie is a sturdy ,uncomplicated and old fashioned Western that will be mainly enjoyed by those who like that particular genre ,
Lewis: Dark Matter (2010)
Typical and typically polished episode of the series
Andrew Crompton ,the Master of Gresham College,Oxford ,is an astrophysicist of no little distinction and when he is found murdered in the Oxford Observatory it ,naturally ,causes a stir within both police and academic circles.There is no shortage of suspects .These include the College Porter,Temple<( Warren Clarke ) a domestic tyrant to his long suffering wife but a toady to those in authority;then there is the distinguished classical composer ,Raeburn (robert Hardy) and his wife (Diana Quick),not to mention Jeremy(Andrew Hawley) the bright and personable working class student and protégé of the deceased ,and the up and coming conductor Finniston (Andrew Calf).Not to mention sundry others all with means ,motive and opportunity to do the deed.
Lewis and his Oxford educated sidekick Hathaway (played as always by ,respectively ,Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox)are assigned to the case and conduct their investigation among the "dreaming spires "of the University and its erudite denizens.The series -like its predecessor ,Inspector Morse ,has always utilised classical music for gravitas and Holst is deployed frequently in the episode.this is all about "civilised" murder and urbane detection ,ahaving little to do with the reality of crime in the real world but essentially heir to the academic mysteries of such writers as Michael Innes and Sayers.Polished ,professional and proficient and well acted by a cast of genre veterans this breaks no new ground but will please those viewers who like cosy mysteries,as an antidote to grittier fare like "The wire"
Thunder Over Arizona (1956)
Mistaken identity Western
Ervin Plummer-played by the estimable George Macready ,who like his good friend Vincent Price was a man of culture and erudition who specialised in bad guy roles-is a grasping avaricious businessman with a hunger for gold .He evokes an archaic and little used law ,the Apex Rule ,which says that if a mineral vein runs through his land the landowner is entitled to claim all the rights to ownership of the mineral from the owner of the land containing the head of the vein .The Right has rarely been exercised and might well fail in court but to ensure a better chance of success Plummer arranges the death of Warren ,his major target ,and for his family to be served with a crippling tax bill.To make absolutely sure he engages the services of the ruthless killer Shotgun Kelly ( George Keymas) to remove any residual opposition .Kelly ,a bad loser at dice , tries to ambush and Tim Mallory (Skip Homeir) who had defeated him in a fair game but is himself killed .Mallory is mistaken for Kelly by Plummer and his gang ,and having fallen in love with the enticing Fay Warren (Kristin Miller)sets out to thwart Plummer's plans .
The movie has some good performances ,notably from Macready ,and Jack Elam as his henchman Slats while Wallace Ford as a scheming lawyer also make an impression .Homeir ,an under-rated actor is good as the hero .
The pace is brisk and the action efficiently handled .The only major drawback is the cheap looking colour process which makes the picture look faded and dull .An okay time filler if you like the genre
Fort Massacre (1958)
Sharp and edgy minor Western
The patrol movie has been a staple of cinema since its very early days and has cut across many genres including the war movie and ,as in this case,the Western.The setting is New Mexico in the late 1870's and a platoon of the US Cavalry is trying to make its way back to base under less than auspicious circumstances .Its officers are all dead ,killed in action by the Apache,and its leader,by default is Sergeant Vinson (Joel McCrae -cast in a rare unsympathetic role).Vinson is neither liked nor trusted by his men who believe that he is so embittered by the death of his wife at the hands of the Apache that his judgement is flawed and that he will risk their lives for his own revenge .His bellicose attitude seems to reinforce this belief as he orders an attack on a superior force of the enemy as they camp by a waterhole ,with heavy loss of life.This is not the only encounter with the enemy as he and his men take shelter at a seemingly abandoned adobe dwelling where he is besieged by the Apache.
Shot wholly on location by the estimable Carl Guthrie this a tight ,taut movie that moves with pace and efficiency .The acting is excellent with special praise to MacRae ,John Russell as an educated drifter turned soldier Travis ,who becomes a confidante to Vinson ,Forrest Tucker as Irish born trooper McGurney (the role Andrew McClaglen usually played in John Ford pictures)and Anthony Caruso as the Native scout Pawnee .McRae in particular shows us that he could play morally complex and driven characters every bit as well as did James Stewart in his movies for Anthony Mann .Vinson is an angry and bitter man ,qualities the actor brings out well Joseph M Newman directs briskly and stages some lively action sequences in what is a predictable but highly entertaining minor Western
Cavalry Scout (1951)
Sturdy minor Western
The major drawback of this movie is that it was shot in a truly mediocre colour process known as Cinecolor which gives it a dull,grainy ,washed out air which is not at all pleasant to look at .Ignore this ,assuming you can ,and you may find yourself able to give it a slightly higher rating than my modest 6 . The picture is set in 1870's Montana where former Confederate officer ,turned civilian scout for the US Cavalry ,Kirby Frye (Rod Cameron) is sent to find out who has stolen a consignment of Gatling Guns with the aim of using them on robberies and also selling them to the Cheyenne and Sioux who are readying for battle against Custer .The villain is a local freight hauler Martin Gavin (James Millican ) .Frye is helped in his task by Lieutenant Spalding (Jim Davis)and he also finds time to romance the shrewd and lovely local business woman Claire (Audrey Long) ,at whom Spalding has also set his cap.
Future star spotters will enjoy seeing James Arness in a rare bad guy role .
Some pro-Indian sentiments are voiced ,which sets it apart from some other movies of the era but essentially this is routine fare although brisk direction by veteran Lesley Selander helps as do some effective performances .It is just such a pity the colour is so drab as better and brighter colour would have boosted interest considerably.Its watchable but nothing more
Wycliffe: Number of the Beast (1996)
Efficient TV episode with a take on modern myths
The most famous " beast " in the UK is unquestionably the fabled Loch Ness Monster but the so called "Beast of Bodmin Moor" surfaces from time to time in the press and on TV -;he/she/it is alleged to be a large cat like creature spotted on the Moor from time to time and preying on livestock .(For the record ,I am a sceptic with regard to both alleged creatures but that is bye the bye) The "beast " forms background to this episode in the Cornish set police drama.When a schoolteacher is found dead on Bodmin Moor with his throat torn out some are keen to blame it on the Beast ,especially a publicity seeking "Beast hunter" ,and the national and local press are quick to stir up interest in "beast sightings" .Soon there is another victim -the local priest (Teniel Evans) who is discovered in a pool of blood with "666 " daubed on the walls .The police ,especially Wycliffe (Jack Shepperd) believe it to be some human agent ,with a grudge ,and using a vicious attack dog as a weapon .Wycliffe's right hand man Kersey (Jimmy Yuill )finds time amidst the carnage for an amorous dalliance with the landlady of the pub where he is is staying during the investigation but soon finds himself in a kidnap situation as the episode reaches its n climax . Making good use of Cornwall's beauty and with fine performances by Teniel Evans and Kenneth Collley this is a workmanlike 60 minutes are so of UK police drama ,in a series which never quite attained the popularity it merited
Indian Uprising (1952)
Unoriginal but lively low budget Western
There is nothing even remotely original about Indian Uprising which regurgitates themes and character types from countless Westerns that went before it ,but it remains a watchable movie aided by its brief running time (75 minutes ) and brisk direction ,which ensures the picture never outstays its welcome George Montgomery plays UC Cavalry officer ,Captain McLoud who is trying to keep the peace between Geronimo's Apaches on the San Carlos Reservation and the white prospectors who are violating the peace treaty by searching for gold on the Reservation .His endeavours are so successful that he becomes a threat to the businessman backing the miners that they have him suspended and replaced by the inexperienced martinet Major Stark whose bungling ,bull headed leadership soon starts a fully fledged war between the Apaches and the whites especially when the Apaches are falsely accused of murdering a miner.Mcloud must try to rebuild the peace in the face of enemies both civilian and military all the time while he is wooing the daughter of the local Indian agent and mentoring a callow young officer Lieutenant Whitley (played respectively by Audrey Long and John Baer)
The movie is derivative and John Ford's cavalry pictures are a direct inspiration .The troopers are "types" lifted straight from Ford and one scene in which the blundering Stark leads his men into an ambush is evocative of a similar scene in Ford's masterly Fort Apache but done with less style and a lower budget .
The acting is proficient and the movie will entertain Western devotees well enough despite some muddy colour and an original ploy .Professional and solid but no more
Better than average vintage Western B movie
John Sands is a famed ex lawman ,most celebrated for having faced down Billy the Kid .He is now living in Mexico ,having fallen foul of the law in the States,and is working as a storekeeper when news reaches him that his brother has been murdered .He vows to return to America to avenge his brother despite knowing full well this places him at risk of arrest . He is drawn into enmity with the ruthless Matt Garson who is also his rival for he hand of Garson's secretary (Joan O'Carroll)and to complicate matters he law is on his tail.
Blake Edwards -a man mostly known for his acerbic comedic scripts-co wrote this movie and the screenplay is above average for the genre, and the era .Add some lively action ,including the old genre staple of a bar -room brawl ,and some capable performances and the result is a good and watchable B movie that devotees of the Western will especially enjoy
The Mad Magician (1954)
Melodrama and magic
This is essentially a variation on House Of Wax ,in both the plot and the type of role played by the star of both movies ,Vincent Price.In both pictures he plays a talented artist who is sent toppling over the edge into insanity when his creations are usurped by other,less talented and less scrupulous people .In this movie he plays a designer of illusions for stage magicians who aspires to set out on a performing career himself only to be frustrated when another illusionist ,the Great Rinaldo (John Emery)insists that he honour his contract and give him first choice of any illusions he designs.Price is already ill disposed towards Rinaldi as his former wife is now a paramour of Rinaldi. He deploys his talents as an illusionist and as a brilliant mimic to avenge himself upon Rinaldi and others who thwart his plans for recognition as a performer and a designer.
Price is pretty much the whole show here and gives a well judged star turn as a wronged man whose predicament earns audience sympathy.The rest of the cast are competent if colourless and the weight of the whole venture falls on Price who carries the burden with ease .
Good solid B Movie melodrama , this is a crime movie rather than a horror picture and is enjoyable providing you don't expect a masterpiece .Shot in black and white it is low on gore and is best seen as melodrama and enjoyed for the presence of its star giving an idiosyncratic performance
Class divide in Edwardian England
This is a proficient and workmanlike version of the H G Wells novel about Arthur Kipps ,who at the age of 14 ,is apprenticed to a draper in Folkestone ,Kent .He leaves his lower middle class home and the girl next door ,Ann ,on whom he is sweet ,but not before they exchange a token of endearment -two halves of sixpence ,which they pledge to join together if they should meet again .
Life as a draper's assistant is hard and the rule of the shop owner positively feudal but Kipps prospers until he is dismissed by his straight arrow boss following a night of drunkenness with the flamboyant actor Chitlow (Arthur Riscoe).His fortunes are revived when he inherits a large sum of money and a substantial property in the town .He is soon taken into society under the tutelage of Chester -a mannered and theatrical but effective performance by Max Adrian .He becomes engaged to the snobbish Helen Walsingham (Diane Wyngard)but things get complicated when a now grown up Ann (Phyllis Calvert)re-enters his life .
Class and snobbery are at the heart of Kipps -both movie and book -and these motifs form the core of the movie .It is well acted and although Redgrave lacks the lightness of touch that ,say Guinness,would have brought to proceedings ,he is still admirable .Wynard is fine but Calvert is just a tad too genteel in the role of Ann .The script ,by Launder and Gilliat ,rambles a bit and the direction of Carol Reed seems excessively detached .There is much to enjoy however ,despite its longueurs ,and students of vintage British cinema will lap it up
They Rode West (1954)
Robert Francis plays Army doctor Allan Seward who is posted to the remote outpost Fort McCullogh where his callowness and inexperience r incurs the enmity of the hard bitten Captain Blake (Phil Carey) .Blake is virulently anti-Indian and when Seward insists on treating Indians who have fallen victim to malaria Blake makes no bones about his antagonism ,feelings shared by the other troopers .He is arrested and faces a court martial while outside war is brewing over the determination of the Indians to leave their reservation and head for higher and healthier ground in the hill country.
Francis died tragically young and his strong performance shows what a loss he was to the movies .Carey is forceful and there are good turns from Donna Reed as the base Commnader's spoiled and coquettish daughter .Phil Karlson directs strongly and the movie is always entertaining if not quite top drawer One for western devotees in our midst
The Tall Stranger (1957)
Range war Western
Joel McCrae and Virginia Mayo appeared together in the previous decade when directed by the great Raoul Walsh in the seminal Colorado Territory .The movie under review here is not as good -even close to being -as that wonderful picture but it is a sturdy B movie Western that will give genre lovers a lot of pleasure McCrae is Ned Barton , a Union army Civil war veteran who is shot and seriously wounded when stumbling across evidence of cattle rustling .He is nursed back to health by members of a wagon train moving to California.They are making for Bishop's Valley land they aim to cross without permission of its owner ,the authoritarian landowner Bishop (Barry Kelly).When the train's guide Harper (George Neise)encourages them to stay Harper fears a range war is inevitable -he is Bishop's estranged half brother and knows Bishop will not take kindly to this incursion on his land .Harper has an ulterior motive -he is in alliance with a bandit (Michael Ansara) and schemes for the two parties to kill each other and then use the bandit gang to move in.McCrae tries to act as a buffer between the two sides The movie is well shot and decently acted -especially by Leo Gordon is a rare sympathetic role as Bishop's top hand and with sharper direction would have been better .It is still an okay B Western and will please genre lovers
Face of a Fugitive (1959)
Fred McMurray plays Jim Larson ,who when we see him first ,is on his way to prison handcuffed to a US Marshall -his crime being robbery.He escapes with unwanted and unnecessary aid from his brother and the lawman is killed .His brother is mortally wounded in the affray . Larson assumes the name of Ray Kincaid and travels to a nearby town where he poses as a mining engineer and seeks to escape only to be turned back as the town Sheriff (Lin McCarthy), is awaiting a poster of the man wanted for the death of the Marshall -Larson himself.Larson becomes involved in a dispute between the local Mr Big ,powerful rancher Williams (Alan Baxter)and the sheriff over land rights .Williams is determined to ride roughshod over the law and has might ,if not right on his side -several thuggish henchmen ,including the menacing Purdy (James Coburn ,in his second role in movies and stealing the scenes he is in with a performance of understated menace)
He also falls in love with the sheriff's sister (Dorothy Green)and the movie moves towards a climactic shootout .
This is a movie of rare economy and visual inventiveness.The credits open on a poster of Larsons' face and as they unfold bars appear across that face ,creating an image of incarceration.This is repeated in many scenes -bars in the shape of bedsteads ,fences and barred foregrounds etc .The focus is on redemption and the above average script is lean and powerful/The direction by Paul Wendkos is crisp and the acting throughout is admirable.Docked a point for an open -and in my view ,unsatisfactory ending
The movie opens with a scene depicting a man landing on an uninhabited island ,paying the boatman who dropped him off there and proceeding to a small ,delapited shack where he pins up the photographs of 5 beautiful young women.
Later we see those self same women arrive at a luxury hotel on a nearby island and are then taken to the island shown in the opening scene .They have been assured the boatman-its the same one -will return for them soon .He does not and the group are stranded on the island with the unseen stranger ,a man who clearly has fell designs on the group.They begin to unravel ,as the veneer of sophistication is stripped away and soon there are deaths .The one hope is a friend who arrives from New York and who may be able to track them down .
The plot is predictable and while decorative the leads are unlikely to win any acting awards .The good location photography is a decided asset in what is a moderate time passer but nothing more .The predictable script and obvious twist ending are liabilities but providing you do not expect too much this just about passes muster
The Siege at Red River (1954)
Enjoyable and rousing Western
Jim Farady (Van Johnson)and his associate Benjy (Milburn Stone) appear to be hucksters ,travelling the West selling patent medicine (a muscle builder)but in reality they are spies for the Confederacy and are transporting a stolen Gatling Gun to the Confederate lines ,a journey that will take them through Indian Territory ,and the natives are not friendly. They attract the attention of a shrewd Pinkerton man Frank Kelso (Jeff Morrow)and are forced to smuggle the guns out concealed in a hospital wagon driven by the unsuspecting Nora Curtis (Joanne Dru)who is attracted ,somewhat against her will to Farady.they are betrayed by their ostensible escort ,Manning (Richard Boone)who has plans to sell the guns to the Indians for an attack on a nearby fort ,plans Farady sets out to foil.
The movie is immaculately shot in Technicolor by Edward Cronjager and Rudolph Mate ensures the action moves along with vigour .The acting is good and the movie never flags ,even finding time for a unique drunk scene -the inebriate in question being Nora .
The climax may appear familiar and if so this is unsurprising -the climactic battle is lifted from Buffalo Bill ,the Joel Macrae movie from an earlier decade ,and intercut with close up of the actors in this movie
Its a solid action Western and enjoyable for lovers of the genre
Footsteps in the Fog (1955)
Atmospheric Victorian melodrama
When we first see Stephen Lowry (Stewart Granger)he seems to be a grieving widower as he stands beside his late wife's grave in Victorian London .The truth is another thing altogether and we soon learn that he has murdered his wife ,by poison ,and concealed the evidence .Unfortunately for him he was observed by the ambitious and put upon parlour maid Lily Watkins (Jean Simmons)who blackmails him into giving her the job of housekeeper and takes possession of the deceased's jewels .She is also in love with Lowry and he strings her along with promises of marriage while plotting to kill her and marry the dutiful Elizabeth (Belinda Lee)the daughter of his business partner Alfred Travis(Ronald Squire).much to the consternation of straight arrow lawyer David Mcdonald (Bill Travers)who is in love with Elizabeth and who harbours the gravest suspicion about Lowry.
This is a well made movie ,with lavish interiors ,some striking Tecnicolor photography and a moody score .It is strikingly well acted especially by Granger who always appeared at ease in period roles .Simmons struggles a tad with the Cockney accent but still manages to convince as an opportunistic female with a pathetically unrequited love for Lowry .Strong support from Marjorie Rhodes as her nagging boss ,Peter Bull as a prosecuting attorney and William Hartnell as an oily blackmailer also boost proceedings .The whole thing is lushly and slickly made melodrama that stands out from the run of the mill studio product of its time
Suicide Battalion (1958)
Cheap ,shoddy and lacking in quality
A quick look at the Edward L Cahn section of this site reveals that he was notably prolific and in the year this movie was made -1958-churned out 5 other titles and maintained a similar rate for much of his career.Quantity rather than quality was a feature of his movie making and this has little to recommend it .
It is a curiously immobile film with much of the footage consisting of actors reciting rather dull dialogue in front of a static camera .The picture is clearly drive -in movie fodder and I suspect it was the bottom half of a double bill alongside a beach party or horror flick of similar dullness and lack of skill.
Set in the Pacific during World war Two it deals with the eponymous battalion who are sent behind enemy lines to prevent key strategy papers falling into Japanese hands .The actors are mostly youthful and good looking ,designed to appeal to a teen audience but possessing little grasp of the dramatic arts .Tension arises when the hard bitten commander Major McCormack (Mike Connors)clashes with second in command Lieutenant Hall (Bing Russell)in part over a mutual interest in a woman war photographer Elizabeth Mason (Jewell Lian)and there is a tiresome sub plot about a marriage between a young GI ,Tommy Novello (John Ashley)and a native girl . The acting is atrocious -apart from Russ Bender as the experienced Sergeant .Battle scenes use obvious stock newsreel footage and the whole movie is shoddy badly staged and a waste of time for the audience suckered into watching it
Seven Days to Noon (1950)
Dark ,dark amid the blaze of noon
This movie looks back and also forward -back in style and execution to the British wartime documentary tradition ,and forward in theme to the obsession amounting to unjustified paranoia about the nuclear arms race.
Barry Jones -giving a brilliant and moving performance -plays a physicist driven to the point of mental collapse and moral crisis by his unease about his job ,which is working on developing nuclear weaponry at a top secret research laboratory.Gripped by a mood of apocalyptic religious fervour he steals the prototype of a new form of nuclear device ,small enough to fit into a briefcase and delivers an ultimatum to the British government (then as now in the invariably incompetent grasp of the Labour Party).They must destroy the nations' stockpile of nuclear arms within 7 days or else he will detonate the device and devastate London in the process.
This is not a crazed scientist ,such as that jerk Oppenheimer,but rather a frail sick and tired old man operating from a number of the myriad boarding houses in the shabbier areas of London.the world is run down and has seen better days -like the man himself and his battered and worn bag.The movie is a race against time as the police hunt him down and London is readied for evacuation -scenes shot in a restrained and semi-documentary style . the movie has flaws -the young couple played by Hugh Cross (the scientists' assistant)and Sheila Manahan(the scientists'daughter)are pretty vapid and elicit weak performance .There is a moving cameo from Olive Jones as a fading actress on the verge of prostitution ,
The movie is the best British contribution to the doomsday cycle of movies in the early 50's and is a striking piece of cinema that becomes at times almost unbearably tense
Crow Hollow (1952)
Crow Hollow is home to a somewhat dotty and eccentric family -that belonging to a Doctor who takes his newlywed bride to live there.The home is largely occupied by his Aunts ,an outwardly genial but really rather peculiar breed.One is a devoted spider collector ,having several large poisonous specimens around the house ,another busies herself with "good works"and one is a home maker with an obsessive interest in order and tidiness.
Soon the new bride begins to feel unwelcome -not surprising given she has a close encounter with a venomous spider and is fed poisoned drinks .It seems the old dears want rid of her and to see her replaced by a nubile young woman named Willow The acting is okay but the script is too talky and rambling and the direction is slack.Watchable as B movie on a wet afternoon but nothing special
Prime Target (1989)
Adequate -barely-TVcop movie
Angie Dickinson plays a New York City homicide cop assigned to a task force to investigate the death of a female cop in a department store bomb blast .The death is not the only one as soon after another policewoman is killed when a drug set up goes awry.Both women were Hispanic and had recently successfully sued the Police Department for reinstatement .At first Dickinson believes the killings were the work of disgruntled male officers angered at male colleagues losing their jobs as a consequence of the womens'actions .Soon however it becomes clear one of the victims was taking bribes and that other officers are similarly compromised .She ignores warnings to drop the case and soon she is battling to save her life as well as her career. The acting is pretty solid with good turns from Dickinson ,David soul as the commissioner ,Yaphet Kotto as an overzealous Internal Affairs investigator and Charles Gurning as Dickinson's ex-cop Dad.The writing and plotting are "by the numbers"and the direction functional.
This is no great shakes but passes muster as a workmanlike TV cop movie
Django sfida Sartana (1970)
Second tier Spaghetti Western
The title of this movie is somewhat misleading, for while the eponymous duo do briefly clash ,for they most part they work together against their mutual enemies ,the bad guys.
Django (Tony Kendall) has a brother ,Steve ,who is employed by a frontier bank and has a reputation as a womaniser.He is set up on a false charge of bank robbery ,caught while entertaining a lady of the night and summarily hung without trial despite the best endeavours of the local Sheriff to save him from the lynch mob.His alleged partner in the crime was Sartana-who is equally guiltless of the deed .Django descends on the town but turns away without wreaking vengeance and sets out after Sartana .After a brief but intense fist fight they are made aware of the truth .The criminal was the banker himself(Jose Torres) ,and to compound his villainy he took his own niece captive as a hostage should the need arise .Django and Sartana combine forces to exact revenge and rescue the girl There are some touches of the well nigh obligatory sadism associated with the Spaghetti Western but for the most part this a traditional Western well enough executed without being outstanding .
King of the Khyber Rifles (1953)
Rousing tale of the raj
The story was previously filmed as The Black Watch ,after the famed British regiment of the same name,by none other than John Ford ,and is based on a once popular now long forgotten novel by Talbot Munday . In this 1953 version Tyrone Power plays Captain Alan King a mixed race Brish Officer in Imperial India in 1857.He leads a supply column of native troops ,the Khyber Rifles ,to the British base at Peshawar and they are attacked by Afridi tribesman under the command of his old childhood friend Karram Khan (Guy Rolfe).The attack is repelled and the column reaches Peshawar .There King falls in (reciprocated )love with the daughter of the base commander and in so doing incurs the enmity of a fellow officer Lieutenant Heath (John Justin)who also loves the young lady in question (Terry Moore).The revelation of his mixed race ancestry results in the girls father CommnaNder Maitland (Michael Rennie)to forbid the romance between King and his daughter .She is then kidnapped by Karrem Khan's forces and he sets out to rescue her by infiltrating his ranks .
Henry King is a largely neglected and under-rated director who made some splendid movies and in this instance he conjured up s work that has energy,flair and drive in abundance .Power is perhaps a tad too old for the part but still gives a dashing and attractive performance and is well backed yo by the menacing Rolfe ,the austere and dignified Rennie and the always reliable Justin.Moore is suitably decorative without being any great shakes in the Thespic department. The script touches on without really exploring the bigotry angle and overall this is a well shot and decently acted slice of Imperial heroics.The politically correct will not like it -but since I view them as children who need to grow up I won't let their thin lipped moral rigidity deter me from enjoying the picture .Nor should you
Punchy and taut blue collar tale
Warner Brothers did this kind of taut,tart blue collar movie better than any other studio and while Slim is not the studio at its absolute peak of performance it is a pretty good piece of lean and crisp movie making .
Slim -played with conviction by Henry Fonda -is a farm boy who yearns to work as a lineman on the big electrical projects then going ahead , under the auspices of the New Deal ,The opening sequence indeed is a quasi-documentary complete with solemn and sententious narrative that is a virtual commercial for Mr Roosevelt's public works agenda and which loudly hymns the role of the electrical industry in modern life He badgers Pop Travers (J Farrell MacDonald)to give him a trial and he is taken under the wing of the most respected of the lineman ,Red(Pat O'Brien).They become friends as well as mentor and protégé ,a factor cemented when Slim comes to Red's rescue as he is being fleeced by a crooked card sharp.They become partners and Red introduces Slim to his girlfriend ,a nurse Cathy (Margaret Lindsay)who is despairing of Red's nomadic lifestyle and longs to see him settle down to domesticity..Gradually a relationship develops between Slim and Cathy .The movie builds to a climax on a job site during a major blizzard .
The movie is well acted and Ray Enright brings forthright energy to its direction .Special mention to Stewrat Erwin as the garrulous Stumpy -a veteran ground worker on the sites and to Jane Wyman making an early appearance as his girlfriend This is efficient and unpretentious studio film making at very n ear its best