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Star Trek: The Galileo Seven (1967)
Good episode which I found creepy when I was young,
I watched this episode for the first time when I was about 7 and I remember finding it creepy and spooky. The swirling mists and fogs shrouding menacing creatures who turned out to be huge Neanderthal like primates added to the eeriness. Gaetano's death I found scary with the giant Neanderthal trapping him against a cliff with a slow menacing approach before killing him.
I felt sorry for Spock in this episode, I thought Lt Boma was way out of line and was lucky not to have been disciplined. It would have been nice to have seen Don Marshall in further episodes. It is interesting that Don Marshall who played Boma, starred in this episode of being trapped on a planet of giants and he later starred in Land of the Giants!
There is a huge flaw with this episode in that there is just no way a tropical paradise could exist In Antarctica. Geothermals was used to try an explain it but even with this how do you how the tropical region could survive the Antarctic winter? Plants need light and sunlight is non existent during the polar winter, plants would die, the whole ecosystem would collapse. So when the doctor scoffed at Nelson's idea of a tropical zone in the Antarctic, he was right to! Nelson should have known better. Quite a bit of stock footage is used from Allen's Lost World. Irwin Allen did like to cut costs down! David Hedison said he did not enjoy working on the Lost World, so I wonder if he enjoyed acting out this episode?
This was the worst story in the entire series if not out of all Allen's shows. Leprechauns? Come on! I don't know what was going in the writer's head with this episode but how Basehart carried on acting for the rest of the series after this debacle is amazing. He remained the total professional throughout. Me, I would be wetting myself with laughter with this. Why Irwin Allen allowed this to be shot in the first place is beyond me, I assume he never looked at the script. It is either that or he encouraged it. Whatever it was, it was a great shame that it was allowed to degenerate to this level. It could have been such a memorable show but sadly it is largely forgotten these days.
A very cleverly made film
Hitchock was a magnificent film maker but also very clever and Psycho was a very cleverly made film even by Hitch's standards. It starts off as classic Hitchcock with Janet Leigh on the run, with the threat hanging over her: will she get caught? Her boss spots her, the looming policeman, the suspicious car salesman but all this just a sub-plot. The real plot starts when she arrives at the motel. For people who saw this film the first time must have got a real shock to see a star such as Janet Leigh killed off halfway into the film. No wonder Hitch when the film was released for the first time, told people at the end of the film not to reveal the plot. The classic film with twists.
When Time Ran Out... (1980)
Time should have ran out on the making of this movie as it is yet another waste of good talent by Irwin Allen. The plot is predictable and formulaic, it is basically the Poseidon Adventure on a volcanic island. You have the intrepid group fleeing from the volcano, warning the rest to come with them but scoffed at. Sound familiar? Well that is exactly what happened in the Poseidon Adventure. You have your token victims picked off one by one but unlike the Poseidon Adventure where the danger was every present and it was claustrophobic, fleeing from lava flows, the danger was just not there. A real Paul Newman turkey, this one, not sure why he did it because it certainly did not enhance his reputation.
The Time Tunnel (1966)
A great shame!
This show had great potential but its greatest weakness was that the show was written around what stock footage they had to make a story, which I think is a mistake. You could tell when the ideas were drying up is when they started introducing the tired old formula of aliens trying to take over with Doug and Tony trying to stop them. Also little character development which I think was a great shame.
Another problem was as soon as you started thinking deeply into the concept of the show, you find not a lot of thinking went behind it such as the size of the complex, the number of personnel etc. I mean when the alarm bells rang in the complex and you see everyone running around, where were they going? Also Doug and Tony never changed clothes, they wore the same get-up right throughout practically, which is ridiculous! A little more thinking and better writing could have produced an even better and longer lasting series.
Superman III (1983)
Well I'm going to rip this film to pieces. 1)The Vulcan satellite: A satellite does not create weather! Also the satellite is sent out to outer space to look for kryptonite. There's no way a satellite can leave orbit just on the order of a computer instruction. 2) The analysis of the kryptonite showed plutonium, a man-made element and xenon which is a gas. The other elements in that list don't exist. Besides plutonium is radioactive and I can't see how some chemists could produce that crystal! They would instantly say it was dangerous! 3) The rocket defence system for the master computer. How on earth did they install that without the knowledge of the authorities? It would have taken months do install! 4) When the master computer draws power you see an overhead shot of North America largely in darkness as the lights go out. Yet where the master computer is it is still daylight and when Superman goes to the chemical plant to get a container of the corrosive acid it is still daylight 5) How can you turn a tornado from under the cloud to be above the cloud? Thats just a few of the goofs. It really is a very poor film, a sequel too far!
The Towering Inferno (1974)
Not bad an effort
The Towering Inferno was the pinnacle of the disaster films. There seemed to be a lot of them around that time period with Earthquake and Airport 1975 but the Towering Inferno was the peak. There is a fantastic array of stars with Newman, McQueen, Holden, Dunnaway, Astaire, Jones, Chamberlain, Vaughn but sadly despite this, the script was not especially brilliant with some pretty poor lines. Despite the number of stars in the film, few of them escaped a grisly death. Probably the best death was Jennifer Jones as she fell out of the scenic elevator and hit the corner of the building. Ouch! Also Susan Flannery's death as an explosion forces her out of the window on fire from the 65th floor. It was great to see Chamberlain get his come uppance as he falls 135 floors to his death from the collapsed breecher's buoy. Steve McQueen made an effective hero and was well suited to the role. Great to see Fred Astaire in his role but sadly he never did win an Oscar despite being nominated
The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
Shocking winner of the Best Picture Oscar
I think this was one of the greatest injustices in Academy Award history that this film won Best Picture Oscar ahead of Singin' in the Rain, which wasn't even nominated, until the Raging Bull/ Ordinary People debacle came along. James Stewart probably had the best part, a clown with a mysterious past but I thought some of the other actors were slightly wooden especially Hutton. Some of the Heston lines were especially corny, in particular the ones spoken to Hutton. Some great footage of actual circus performers and a spectacular train wreck at the end. This film was a typical DeMille cornball:- overblown, over the top, corny, "I wanna be a blockbuster" stereotype.
It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963)
I don't know what to make of it
Its a really, really, really...well... to be honest I don't know what to make of it! I wouldn't say it was dire but equally I wouldn't call it brilliant. I saw it again the other day and I still can't make up my mind. Hiring some of the best known US comics of the time, Kramer tried to pull out a masterpiece but length doesn't equate to quality, it is far too long. I'm surprised Spencer Tracy bought this venture but he did seem to be satisfied with Kramer as Kramer did with him. Terry-Thomas appearing in the film was a surprise, I think if this was produced a couple of years later, Peter Sellers would have won the English role. The other odd cast member is Mickey Rooney. Rooney is not really a comedian or even a comic actor so I can't quite understand why he was in it. It would have been great to have seen Harold Lloyd in it.
The Wolf Man (1941)
Good film, odd to see Ralph Bellamy in the film
It is surprising how many well known actors are in this film, it is not one of those films with obscure actors, 3 of the cast have been Academy Award nominees by the time this film was made. One of those is Ralph Bellamy, very odd to see him in this film considering his roles in previous films of His Girl Friday and the Awful Truth. Lon Chaney Jr plays a great part and he was quite an adequate actor, just look at his Lennie in Of Mice and Men. Claude Rains plays the father of Larry Talbot with his usual style but I think the real star in this film was Maria Ouspenskaya who played the wizened Gypsy Maleva. Bela Lugosi was reduced to a cameo role.
Murder, She Wrote (1984)
Amazed, it lasted so long
Murder She Wrote may have lasted 250+ episodes but basically you only have to watch one episode and then you don't have to watch the rest because every episode is the same. Jessica is present when the murder takes place, her friend/relative is wrongly arrested and Jessica solves the murder at the end. It is dangerous to be a friend of Jessica as there is a high probability that you are going to get arrested and Jessica is also a magnet for murder. For such a small town, Cabot Cove has a horrifying murder rate! Despite all this, Angela Lansbury was superb in the role and it was interesting to see some well known stars appearing on the show
A great show that lost its way
Bewitched was a great show with some funny stories at the start but I felt it lost its way when Dick York had to leave because of ill health. Dick Sargent wasn't quite the same and I thought the stories suffered for it. What else didn't help was that the latter stories were often a rehash of earlier ones, it was obvious at the end that the scriptwriters were running out of ideas. Marion Lorne played Aunt Clara brilliantly and when she sadly passed away in 1968, the series suffered from this body blow as Alice Ghostley, who played Esmerelda was no Marion Lorne. I actually found her character irritating as well as Samantha's cousin, Serina. It's sad looking back at the show, to realize that hardly any of the stars of the show are still alive. Dick York, Dick Sargent and Elizabeth Montgomery all died within 3 years of each other and all in their 60s.
The Swarm (1978)
What a waste of talent.
The Swarm was an awful film full of plot holes, terrible dialogue and some poor acting. It is really odd to see Michael Caine in the film as everyone else is American. It just didn't seem to gel. The talent that is wasted in this film is astonishing. You've got Henry Fonda, Olivia DeHavilland, Richard Widmark, Fred MacMurray, just to name a few and to see them wasted with a such poor script especially Widmark, I don't know how he kept a straight face. This production is fairly typical of Irwin Allen. His TV series's, Lost in Space etc started well in their first few episodes then it was reduced to drivel. It is the same with his disaster films, they started out well, like the Poseidon Adventure, but by the time of the Swarm and When Time Ran Out, they were poor efforts, with bad scripts and a waste of good talent.
Quincy M.E. (1976)
Great show. One puzzle though.
Quincy was a great show with some very good and relevant episodes, covering environmental, epidemics, cot death, legal and medical loopholes. Jack Klugman was perfect for the role and the banter between his character, Asten and Monaghan was excellent.
There is one puzzle though, what was the point of two of the characters, Danny and Sergeant Brill? The character of Danny did bring some humour to the show, but the part was mostly a couple of minutes at the end of the show. Not much of a part! Sergeant Brill's part was even more pointless than Danny's! Playing second fiddle to Monaghan, the part was virtually pointless, he rarely had anything significant to say, it was almost as if he was just given token lines to say.
Most Amazing and Remarkable Amateur CineFilm ever made. The course of history changes before your eyes.
The Zapruder Film is the most remarkable and also one of the most gruesome amateur cine-films ever made. When you watch it , you are literally watching the course of world history change before your eyes. One of the most powerful men in the world at the time is murdered in front of your eyes in such a gruesome way, Kennedy's head literally explodes and the shocking aftermath that follows it. The thing that I find remarkable about it is how quick it happens, from the top of Elm street where Kennedy is smiling and waving to when he gets near the underpass and is life is taken away from him in an instant. Another shocking thing about the film is how slow the Secret Service were in protecting their boss, any reaction by them comes after the event, when it's too late.
The Gathering Storm (2002)
Excellent if just a bit historically inaccurate
A superb film with a very good cast. Albert Finney is a brilliant Churchill and Vanessa Redgrave makes a very good Clemmie. The storyline is excellent but historically inaccurate. For instance, the year given is 1934 and we see Churchill making his infamous speech about Gandhi in the House of Commons but that speech was made in 1931. Stanley Baldwin, played superbly by Derek Jacobi, was not Prime Minister in 1934, Ramsay McDonald was until Baldwin took over in 1935. More importantly where was Neville Chamberlain, the true appeasement supporter? However, overall it was still a superb production and seeing Churchill or Finney strutting the steps of Admiralty House with the stirring music was brilliant and uplifting. A great film , shame about the slight inaccuracies
Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
There is Montezuma's revenge and then there is Jaws: The Revenge, in either case diarrhea is produced. This is really a terrible film, as if a shark would go out and take revenge on the family that "murdered" his cousins. Nonsense! It is awful to see Michael Caine in this film, I don't know why Michael appears in films like this, he must only do it for the money because the artistic merits of this film are zilch. Poor Lorraine Gary, went into retirement and then only to come out of retirement to do this turkey, and to think she felt obliged to as well, hardly a fitting finale to the end of a career. This film should have won more Razzies than it did but then against it was up against Leonard part 6!
Rocky IV (1985)
An intellectual could argue that is a classic example of "Cold War stereotypical 1950s attitude of them against and us and we have to win the battle." The opening scene of the US boxing glove and the Russian boxing glove hitting head on and sparks flying everywhere says it all. I can't believe I queued in snow to get into the cinema to watch the film but then again I was a naive 13 year old. The film itself was not terrible but it was pretty predictable. A friend of Rocky aka Apollo Creed dies and Rocky gets depressed but he is snapped out of it and he must do what a man must do and fight the "villain." Isn't that also the theme of the story from Rocky III? Love the scene where Dolph Lundgren is being pumped full off enhancing drugs, surely they are not be stereotypical?
Mars Attacks! (1996)
The Martians should attack the Earth after this film!
If I was a Martian and I saw this film I would attack Earth for making this turkey. Its a poor film in many ways not for its special effects but for its horrible disjointed storytelling. The story kept changing from one scene to the next and I found this very irritating and hard to keep up. There were far too many subplots! Seeing Pierce Brosnan smoking a pipe was absolutely absurd, he was totally miscast as a scientist and as for Tom Jones, keep to the singing mate! And there where lies another problem, too many cast members! Too many bit parts, too many subplots. A very poor film, I think Burton might have caught Ed Wood syndrome when making Ed Wood.
A good start but bad at the end
This show, as so often with TV series' produced by Irwin Allen, started out strong in the first season but by the time of the third season had become absolutely absurd with monsters and aliens trying to take over the world. Richard Basehart and David Hedison were brilliant in this series and made the show watchable. It's a shame that the scripts didn't give them chance to develop their characters. The special effects were good at first but the reuse of stock footage became tiresome in the end. Quite often props and monsters used in one Irwin Allen TV show appeared in another of his and he was still using some props in his later disaster movies.