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4/10
A mawkish journey of self-discovery
16 September 2019
An American drama; A story about how a couple find a renewed purpose in their relationship by helping the disenfranchised. This Christian themed film, based on a novel, is the true story of a wealthy Texas white couple, Ron and Debbie, who befriend a violent homeless man. It tells how religious faith eases racial tensions, builds trust among people divided by social differences, and cures prejudice by bringing people together. The film starts by diving into an attempt to elicit sympathy by showing a couple undergoing marital breakdown. The showcasing of their privileged life of palatial home and attendance at swanky art gallery soirées plays out without much subtlety for then it transforms to a story about a homeless man who is offered compassion by the couple. While this is a life-affirming and uplifting message, it is delivered in a self-congratulatory, overly-sweeteened manner. The soundtrack is frequently out of kilter, varying from simple ponderous incidental music, all the way up to incongruous Christian rock. The final act goes up a register thanks to Djimon Hounsou and his character's speech of heartfelt sincerity. But, all in all this is a film with a heavy-handed saviour narrative.
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Sabotage (2014)
4/10
High-octane action fest congealed by crass caricatures
16 September 2019
An American action mystery thriller; A story about the Drug Enforcement Administration(DEA) Special Operations Team who are being targeted for assassination. A powerhouse of action sequences, this film progresses with good pace. But, it suffers for its gratuitous violence, a ridiculous plot, hard-boiled dialogue, and vulgarian characters beset by coarse banter.
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4/10
Good action but it has a disinterested lead performance
15 September 2019
An American action thriller; A story about a CIA operative who has infiltrated a crime organisation involved in human organ trafficking. He exacts revenge on its boss who killed a member of his team on a sting operation. The film features impressive visual effects, stunts, explosions and shootouts and plentiful location shots of foreign locales. A couple of stand-offs hold adequate tension too. However, in the second act far too much time is given over to characters mulling over their colleague's death and not enough on building story and characters. Seagal plays an enigmatic character but he has little screen time and there are few fight scenes involving him. On the upside, Edoardo Costa as a syndicated crime boss produce some good drama.
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El Dorado (1967)
7/10
Stylish, sly gunfighting oater with a slam-bang climax
15 September 2019
An American Western; A story about a gunfighter whose actions lead to the suicide of a boy, the son of a land-grabbing cattle baron and a ranching family. Some time later he, his sidekick and an alcoholic sheriff try to fend off some destructive strangers who descend on the town of El Dorado to challenge the family. This is a warm-hearted entertaining movie of action and humour, directed with a good pace and skilfully by Howard Hawks. The characters are the main thrust of the story with a commanding performance by John Wayne, matched by an amusing worse-for-wear characterisation by Robert Mitchum, and good support from a tricky sidekick played by James Caan. The dialogue is a real plus point with many funny one-liners which make this very watchable, witty, exciting. It is also moving, with a theme on lost youth assuaged by friendship, and drawing parallels of light to darkness in settings as Wayne's character approaches his end.
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6/10
Anodyne and gloriously masculine Civil War drama
8 September 2019
An American War film; An Civil War story based on the 1863 Colonel Grierson raid, ordered by General Grant to ride 300 miles into the heart of the Confederacy. A pragmatic Union cavalry officer is ordered to demolish a railway junction in the middle of Confederate territory, but he finds his authority challenged by a liberal minded military surgeon. John Ford directs a stirring cavalry Western of marvellous set pieces and stunning use of landscape. Ford communicates the universality of the human condition in relation to the way soldiers express their pride in duty for their respective causes. The scenes depicting military cadets being ordered to lay down their young lives for the cause are particularly moving. The musical score, which is a range of army choruses stirs the emotions. John Wayne is gruff as the Colonel and William Holden matcvhes him with strength in their many encounters - they both make the melodramatics work well enough to keep interest up to the final, under-developed skirmish. The story itself has some difficulties in that it employs a sanitised view of the War, and uses rhetoric and verbosity to over-moralise about the absurdities of the conflict. Ford's battle sequences, while impressive are not so exciting, but rather more regretful.
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Red River (1948)
7/10
Mutiny on the bounteous plain
8 September 2019
An American Western; A story about the conflict grows between a tough Texan rancher and his Civil War veteran foster son during a 1,000 mile cattle drive to Missouri from Texas. The rancher's stubborness and uncompromising methods lead his workers to mutiny. Based on Borden Chase's novel, "The Chisholm Trail", this is a quintessential epic Western, featuring one of John Wayne's finest film performances The music and brooding black-and-white photography are exceptional. The Academy Award nominated story is aided by a first rate script and it plays out with grandeur and spectacle thanks to Howard Hawks' direction and the plot of ane older man's pride and the younger one's need to prove himself. The cast has a number of fine supporting performances including the quick-handed draw of a debuting Montgomery Clift, and Walter Brennan as Wayne's right-hand man in perpetual counsel and disagreement. The film very seldom loses focus, but when it does it features scenes of love interest and an ending resolved by imperfect means.
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Derby Day (1952)
6/10
Entertaining portmanteau piece
7 September 2019
A British drama; A story about an assortment of people mingling at an Epsom Downs race meeting. It blends seamlessly the tales of several characters on their way to the races in Epsom, among them are a taxi driver, a French maid, a murderer and an aristocrat. This is an entertaining and absorbing film about the fates of a disparate number of people and how their personal stories interconnect. The cultural event is the backdrop and the rituals of the British class system cleverly blend for dramatic, romantic and comic effect. Chiefly, the stars in focus are Anna Neagle and Michael Wilding who have a splendid chemistry.
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Copper Canyon (1950)
5/10
Colourful run-of-the-mine frontier-feud yarn
7 September 2019
An American Western; A story about a former Confederate officer avoiding detection by the Union army. Visiting a copper town under the guise of a magician, he goes to the defence of locals being harassed by a local corrupt regime. Negotiating his way through a female gambler, and using his military skills, he has a plan to win the day. This is a watchable, but hardly memorable, though busy story of North-South disputes and nefarious events in a post-Civil War western mining town. Hedy Lamarr is beautiful and Ray Milland is charming, though the mystery surrounding both their characters amounts to little tension and it plays out to only moderate distraction. Many characters remain undeveloped and there isn't a great chemistry between Milland's less than convincing lone ranging Southerner of saloon bar repartee, and Lamarr's absurd change-of-tune character.
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7/10
Attractively witty and nostalgic for the pre-war social order
9 August 2019
A British romantic comedy; A story about a nobleman who hides from his relatives by working as footman in a Mayfair house, and falls in love with the niece of the owner, a wealthy diamond merchant and art collector. The film is well directed and finely acted and delivers escapism and glamour. The set design is glorious, the dialogue witty and funny, the dancing top notch, and the chemistry between Wilding and Neagle positively charged. It has luscious arrangements to English traditional melodies 'Early One Morning' and 'The Moment I Saw You'. As an aside, it is noteworthy for being the top-rated wholly British funded film of all time.
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5/10
Charming caper let down by its low-carat dialogue
8 August 2019
An American comedy adventure; An impoverished Yankee geologist searches for a priceless diamond in Senegal. When his partner and the diamond vanish, the geologist is blamed for the crime, and a hunt ensues. The dialogue is poor and the direction is a paint-by-numbers with gratuitous photography of African wildlife cutaway shots but the cast make the best of it. George Segal is fun and and bright. Orson Welles plays his part rather wearily and fey, with an eccentric accent, a mix of upper class English and Londoner, which is curiously entertaining. Ian Hendry is impressive as the nasty hunter while Ursula Andress is gorgeous and resourceful support. All in all, the photography is good but the plot is preposterous and very simplistic.
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6/10
Well staged but lacklustre in parts
4 August 2019
A British drama; A story set in 1834 at Rugby School in England about a boy's efforts to adjust to boarding-school life, and contend with the calculated cruelties of a bully. A new, benevolent schoolmaster Doctor Arnold believes that discipline and reform are necessary, and he puts his faith in the boy as his seed of success. This is a third film version of Thomas Hughes' book. The staging is more authentic, atmospherically shot on location in the old school itself. The story has a slow but steady pace but becomes sketchy at times. John Howard Davies, who plays Tom Brown gives a good performance but appears a little too wistful and believable as a match for his bully. Robert Newton is well cast and impressive as that heroic schoolmaster, but not enough screen time is given to his character and his principles, strength which underpin the story, especially for viewers who read the book. Flashman is given strong presence by John Forrest as the epitome of snobbery, though he is weaker than expected in the scene of his character's physical confrontation.
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The War Wagon (1967)
6/10
Rugged comedy adventure with bonhomie
31 July 2019
An American Western; A story about a rancher wrongfully convicted who returns to his hometown to face the corrupt businessman who framed him and stole his ranch and his possessions. Joining the rancher in his quest to retrieve his possessions is an old enemy, a drunk who is an incendiary expert, and a Native American. This film is an entertaining, enjoyable drama of revenge, laced with fairly good humour and sardonic dialogue. The action is fairly robust too. Kirk Douglas and John Wayne fight fairly for star status and the chemistry work well, though both seem ever so slightly at a distance from one another. This coincides well with the distrust between their characters as they join forces to take down a fortified stagecoach. Howard Keel is great as the world-weary Indian.
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5/10
Heavy-going, flag-waving actioner, but visually spectacular
31 July 2019
An American War Adventure; A story set in 1963 about a hard-nosed US Army Colonel who heads two squads of courageous tough-as-nails crack soldiers on a mission in the jungles of Vietnam. He's determined to capture an important enemy general after he defends camp from Viet Cong attack. A skeptical reporter joins them, experiencing the war first-hand.

This is a pro-involvement Vietnam War picture filmed between August and December, 1967. John Wayne directs and stars, showing the professionalism of the U.S. Army Special Forces, whose mission is train and lead unconventional warfare and clandestine guerrilla operations in an unoccupied nation. Wayne wanted to make a patriotic statement of support for the Armed Forces at a time of rising opposition in the USA. He said it was not to seek to explain why American soldiers should fight in Vietnam. But, Wayne's letter to President Johnson before the film belied his inten because t schereenplay's first draft was rejected as being too strongly anti-Communist by the American government. The film portrayed the Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army as sadistic tyrants, though many Vietnam army veterans on seeing the film felt the brutal tone was accurate.

When it was premiered on the 4th July 1968 nearly a year and half had passed since the Defense Department approved their script. There had been the Tet Offensive in January 1968, several atrocities including the My Lai Massacre in March 1968, and then Johnson's intention to stop bombing in North Vietnam, and his approval rating fell to 26%. Set against this, Wayne's film on release was seen by many critics as glorifying a war now even more unpopular and appeared righteous about the American cause.

The film is too long. The direction is pedestrian and the editing is lethargic. It is oriented mostly on the action sequences, of which many drag on. Much of the script is heavy-handed, with displaying old-fashioned bravado for a war that was complex and still happening. The hardware in the film was realistic, supplied by the U.S. army. Wayne staged the film well, and used men on their way to the actual theatre of combat, which lent an authentic feel, though military tactics shown weren't always technically correct and Wayne was often lost in the cast of hundreds and military gadgetry. While the script had standard cliché war movie elements, Wayne tried to show what was going on in Vietnam in the paradigm of what fans expected from a John Wayne movie. He plays his character in a vein not unlike a cavalry officer hero from a Western, and the morals are broad brush. Generally, the film doesn't have very good character development, an aspect denied to Wayne by producers. The skirmishes are fictitious events, though the film's large set-piece battle is loosely based on the Battle of Nam Dong, 5-6 July 1964.
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5/10
Energetic horse opera
30 July 2019
An American romance film; A story about a rancher who borrows money from an unscrupulous land-grabber, who rustles the rancher's cattle so he will be unable to repay his debt and claim the ranch. The former-rancher becomes a prospector, and then returns to face the crooks. This is a film with zesty performances and a bright script but suffers for its trite dialogue and occasional stiff acting. Tim McCoy plays his part diplomatically and sympathetically which endears with viewer. John Wayne provides youthful support but hardly figures. Wheeler Oakman plays the rotter splendidly.
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5/10
Efficient but routine vengeance oater
30 July 2019
An American Wester; A story about a man returning home to witness is father murdered. Giving chase, he is shot himself. He plans to track down the elusive robber, though his plan is complicated by his love interest, and vengeance. This Lone Star Productions oater doesn't have much lustre and the acting is a bit stiff. Still, there is good stuntwork and horse chasing, and a modicum of intrigue helps it along.
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Texas Terror (1935)
5/10
Mediocre horse opera
30 July 2019
An American Western; A story about a Sheriff who thinks he has killed his best friend in a gunfight with robbers. Amidst desperation he quits and goes into prospecting. He encounters his dead friend's daughter and becomes foreman on her ranch, hoping she won't find out about his past. John Wayne's acting is raw in this weaker issue from Paul Malvern's Lone Star Productions. It is characteristically low budget, but unlike others it's a bit low on action, though the chase sequences are quite impressive for their horse riding speed and stuntwork. Lucile Browne provides spritely support, and gives Wayne a dressing down so absorbing that it wouldn't be equalled until Katherine Hepburn in Rooster Cogburn many years later. 'Gabby' Hayes firms up the picture in a small way, but with less of the animation we are accustomed to. There is some comedic diversion between the action, but all in all it amounts to being quite mediocre.
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Hellfighters (1968)
5/10
The potboiler that never set alight
29 July 2019
An American action-adventure; A story about the exploits of a Houston-based oil well firefighting outfit. Its leader regularly puts his life on the line but personal feelings get in the way when his beloved daughter falls for one of his colleagues. This film is well staged with visually stunning special effects, but it's long, dialogue-heavy and badly plotted. It works well when the crack team are tackling blazes. But, the screenwriter's choice to not concentrate on the highly specialized and hazardous profession of extinguishing and capping oil well blowouts was a faux pas, given that it instead turns to family drama, machismo and telling the women they don't belong in an oil field. It even features one scene where John Wayne & co start a saloon style brawl in a bar for no apparent reason. Themes such as the hero's job commitment to the detriment of family life, and subsequent reconciliation, are lightly handled so the dramatics seemed ham-fisted and the performances slight.
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Rio Grande (1950)
7/10
A stirring picture of the Old West
28 July 2019
An American Western; A story set in 1879 at a remote Texan outpost, about a Lieutenant Colonel whose devotion to duty has cost him his marriage. When Yorke's son is assigned to his father's post, Yorke is determined not to afford any preferential treatment to the boy. The cavalry have a priority to defend settlers against attacks by marauding Apaches. This film is a sequel to Fort Apache with John Wayne returning to play Kirby Yorke, who is now promoted. Also, thematically is is the third film of John Ford's "Cavalry Trilogy" - a subgenre of the Western featuring the United States Cavalry fighting Native Americans, such as the Apache, the Sioux or the Cheyenne. While there is a familiar storyline, this is the least sentimental, of the three cavalry films Ford made. Wayne's performance is brilliant, showing the troubled notions of deep loneliness in authority - the quietly suffering martinet, and troubles in command due to imminent deadly threat. He has a powerful relationship with Maureen O'Hara, who also gives a moving performance. Victor McLaglen provides some welcome light relief as the tough but flawed Sergeant Major. Music is particularly evocative. The score is first rate and a very memorable song, I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen, permeates the picture, and western-style ballads sung by The Sons of the Pioneers are heartwarming in showing the bond among men in camp.
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5/10
Routine B-movie Western with a Romeo and Juliet subplot
28 July 2019
An American Western; A story about a range war between two families. A sheriff investigates to clear an innocent man accused of the murder of one of the head of one of the families. The complication is that the man accused is his half-brother, son of his own step-father, the head of the other family. This assembly-line B movie feature has a shorter running time. It is competently written but thinly plotted. It offers the usual fistfight action and horse chases, and a romance without much substance. The performances are above par with Buck Jones playing the sheriff with commanding presence. John Wayne gives good support as the young buck.
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5/10
Undistinguished story with brilliant stuntwork
28 July 2019
An American Western; A young man was sentenced for a murder he did not commit, but he escapes from prison determined to find the real killer. Joining an outlaw gang hiding out in an abandoned mine, he attempts to disrupt the outlaw gang's robberies and comes closer to finding his man. This feature, with a shorter running time, establishes character and plot effectively. But, the actors gave uninterested performances, and it has a thin storyline. The action sequences are impressive and the stunts are first rate. The soundtrack is also impactful with many action scenes featuring thundering hooves and realistic gunfire report.
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Chisum (1970)
6/10
Stylish and rousing range war in New Mexico
27 July 2019
An American Western; A story set in New Mexico about a virtuous, patriarchal land baron who defends his cattle ranch and land against a predatory land baron, who has muscled in on local businesses and taken them over. This is a film loosely based on events and people from the Lincoln County War of 1878, which involved historical figures John Chisum, Pat Garrett, and Billy the Kid. John Wayne walks tall, plays it tough and wise, and has great presence as the experienced cattle rancher standing up to the machinations schemed by Forest Tucker's shady businessman. Ben Johnson is amusing as Chisum's sidekick, muttering under his breath at what he sees as not the traditional ways of dealing with his friend's foes. The story has not much substance and few surprises. The rambling, revisionist plot has too many ambushes and horse chases, as Tucker and Wayne go back and forth until the inevitable violent conclusion. But, it is intelligently constructed and very watchable and enjoyable for all the commotion created and navigated by its sprawling cast who perform vigorously. It also has excellent, panoramic colour photography. Andrew V. McLaglen directs with style and a great sense of landscape.
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Big Jake (1971)
6/10
A somewhat vindictive ransom thriller with an exciting climax
27 July 2019
An American Western; Set in 1911, this is a story about a gunfighter, Jacob "Big Jake" McCandles, who is called for by his wealthy estranged wife because his grandson has been kidnapped by bandits who demand a $1 million ransom. Jake is reunited with his sons who join him on the rescue trail. The film has a tedious build up through acts one and two, following the brutal kidnap sequence at the beginning. The third act, however, provides an exciting climax. It has an average script of a ransom and rescue plot, with many drawn out travelling sequences glued together by a first rate musical score. Otherwise, it has excellent direction and good photography of Mexican locales. It's a typical John Wayne Western, but support is rather passive from Maureen O'Hara. Patrick Wayne and Christopher Mitchum help with the comedy relief but are resigned to stooge roles, receiving the usual lessons, fairly obediently, in macho morality. The rest is left to Wayne Senior and his faithful attack dog to shoulder the weight of the uneventful build up. They provide a high dose of overgrauitous violence, mirroring the influence that revisionist filmmakers, like Sam Peckinpah, had in the early 1970s. All in all, it is John Wayne delivers a typically convincing performance, using his formidable persona for mythmaking and reverence for tradition. Richard Boone is impressive as the quietly psychopathic villain leading his band of cut-throats.
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Blonde Fist (1991)
3/10
Misbegotten drama that swings and misses
27 July 2019
A British boxing drama; A working-class Liverpudlian, prone to using her fists to settle disputes and wrongs against her family and friends, travels to New York to find her estranged father. Needing cash to rebuild her life, she joins the women's boxing circuit. This is a lumbering drama with a poor and blatant dialogue, particularly with all its fighting talk which doesn't sink deeply with its overly palpable delivery. Margi Clarke is at least striking for her efforts, packing a mean punch as a scrappy and devoted mother, but there is very little to engage with due to a story that doesn't grip, and performances that are weak. The fight sequences are choreographed well enough, but not impressive enough to be waiting around for.
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McQ (1974)
5/10
Sluggish maverick cop thriller
27 July 2019
An American crime thriller; A story about a long-serving Seattle policeman who turns in his badge when he's officially denied the opportunity of clearing the name of his late best friend, who has been posthumously accused of drug pushing. This sluggish police mystery is an ill-conceived but intriguing film. Despite the impressive car chase sequences and shootouts, and fresh, contemporary musical score, it lacks drama. John Wayne is entertaining and he has good screen presence but he is less than convincing as a rampaging police lieutenant and there are too many similarities with the first two Dirty Harry films.
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6/10
A band of companions of good conviction search for hidden gold
26 July 2019
An American Western; A story set in Mexico about an assorted cast of characters who follow a bandit's widow to a horde of gold in the desert in exchange for a financial reward for the trouble. On their tail are an outlaw band intending to intercept them and steal the loot. This is a very watchable film with a satisfying tone and attitude and air of good feeling. It blends action, humour, and archetypal anti-hero and hero and villain characterizations and well-crafted action sequences. It has distinctly average dramatic quality, and a straightforward plot, but John Wayne's performance makes for satisfying viewing as the tough former Army officer intending to do the right thing. It has fine support from Ann Margaret, Rod Taylor and Ben Johnson, showing trust and honour. The ending spoils as unnecessary but the visual style of the film gives it some gravitas.
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