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First Blood (1982)
First Blood is not first
21 August 2006
Having read "First Blood" I told everyone what a tremendous movie it would make. Imagine my surprise when I watched the movie "Ruckus" starring Dirk Benedict. (You may remember him as "Face" in the A—Team or as Starbuck in the original "Battlestar Galactica"). The hero's name was different but there was no doubt that this was the same story. Linda Blair had been added as a love interest but the battle against the small town sheriff by a disturbed Vietnam vet was definitely the story of John Rambo later made famous by Sylvester Stallone. I have spent years trying to convince others that this movie existed. It didn't help that I forgot its name. Fortunately I did remember it starred Dirk Benedict. Although not a great movie, it does satisfy the "machismo" ethos. In a way, Stallone's version was a let down. The book has a much grimmer ending than either movie. If Stallone-Rambo had suffered the fate portrayed in the book there could have been no sequels.
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10/10
Book or film?
9 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This was one movie that I saw in its initial release. I loved the opening. My education was very British (Canadian, actually) and my Dad was a military bandsman. As a result the first thing I ever whistled as a youngster was Kenneth Alford's Colonel Bogey march. It's unfortunate that it's now known as The "River Kwai" march. The performance by Alec Guinness is matched by that of Sessue Hayakawa who my parents told me had been a well known actor when they were young. William Holden, Jack Hawkins and James Donald were also impressive. I decided to read the book. The first change was the book has "over" not "on" in the title. SPOILER AHEAD. The ending is different and shows the death of Nicholson as more of a tragic futility than does the film.
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The Train (1964)
10/10
A colorful b&w film
7 June 2005
"The Train" is a perfect example of how unnecessary colorization is. Color would add nothing to this story. Nearing the end of WW 2 a Nazi colonel (Scofield) loads the art treasures of France on a train to Germany. Only a train dispatcher (Lancaster) stands in his way. I remember sitting in the movie with a cheering, gasping, booing audience: all of us filled with edge-of-the-seat excitement. We marveled at Lancaster's plan to deceive Scofield. We shook whenever it seemed doomed to failure. Although Lancaster was the name draw, there are memorable performances from others, notably Michel Simon as Papa Boule the engineer. As I left the movie I heard many of the audience talking about him and wondering if the movie was a true story. Not quite: in actuality France retained its treasures through a simpler deception. Fortunately someone decided to expand the true story to a much more exciting and entertaining one. Don't miss this one.
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A movie given a great boost by Life magazine
7 June 2005
Quite often I see a movie then seek out the book but when I came to the US from Canada when I was 13 the first purchase I made was the paperback version of "To Hell and Back" ($0.35). Of course Audie Murphy is perfectly cast and gives a performance far superior to any of his subsequent movie roles. The others, notably Marshall Thompson, Jack Kelly, David Janssen and Art Aragon give satisfying performances. In many ways this was the "Saving Private Ryan" of its time for its "realistic" portrayal of the foot soldier in WW 2. Life magazine boosted the audience for this film when it put Murphy on the cover and emphasized that the story was true. I think that it works because Murphy doesn't look like the typical movie hero. The book is once again available in a new larger page-size paperback.
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Ruckus (1980)
8/10
The REAL first Rambo movie
7 June 2005
Having read "First Blood" I told everyone what a tremendous movie it would make. Imagine my surprise when I watched this movie. The hero's name was different but there was no doubt that this was the same story. Linda Blair had been added as a love interest but the battle against the small town sheriff by a disturbed Vietnam vet was definitely the story of John Rambo later made famous by Sylvester Stallone. I have spent years trying to convince others that this movie existed. It didn't help that I forgot its name. Fortunately I did remember it starred Dirk Benedict. Although not a great movie, it does satisfy the "machismo" ethos. In a way, Stallone's version was a let down. The book has a much grimmer ending than either movie. If Stallone-Rambo had suffered the fate portrayed in the book there could have been no sequels.
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The Yearling (1946)
10/10
A movie as good as the book
7 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This movie so impressed me when I saw it in the '50s on TV, I immediately chose the book by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings for my first obligatory book report of my junior year in high school. It was also the first video I bought when I got a VCR. Now in my late sixties I can remember the name Claude Jarman, Jr. as the boy that I had identified with even though he was so different from me. I had watched it because it featured Gregory Peck as the father and I liked him, but it was Jarman's movie all the way. I was curious, too, to see Jane Wyman as all I knew about her was an unintentionally funny movie marquee I saw that proclaimed "Jane Wyman in The Blue Veil and selected shorts". This movie introduced me to Chill Wills. I found the killing of the fawn shattering even though I understood the necessity (equally devastating in the book). My father, mother, sister and I sat in front of the TV with tears rolling down our faces. I recommend both the video and the book.
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1/10
A memorable Tarzan for the wrong reasons
7 June 2005
I remember seeing this in the theater when it was first released and being appalled at its lousiness. So strong was that impression that I remembered now, 45 years later, that I could find it by searching IMDb for "Denny Miller". I talked for days, weeks, months and now years afterward about the miserable "borrowing" of scenes from the original Weissmuller films and color-tinting them in a vain attempt to blend in with the new footage. One example: a burning pygmy village features brown tinted film with flames overprinted. The pygmies calmly go about their quiet life while their huts supposedly burn around them. This is undoubtedly the WORST Tarzan movie ever made. Even Elmo Lincoln is better.
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4/10
a teen boy's movie
6 June 2005
This is a movie which is obviously aimed at the teenage male. Its dialog is far from deathless and it has patches which are memorable -- only for triteness. Nevertheless, I found myself swept up in the races and concerned with whether Vin Diesel would discover Paul Walker's reason for wanting to hang with him. Is Toretto (Diesel)behind the high jacking of the contents of trucks on the highway? The opening scene showed such a robbery but by the time you see all the cars driven by Toretto and his friends you can no longer remember what the cars looked like in that exciting scene. All in all I enjoyed the film and its resolutions (Then again, I watch Patrick Swayze in "Roadhouse" every time I can.) But it's no mystery why street races increased in the L.A. area after its release.
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10/10
Young Aphrodites is available on VHS
6 June 2005
I bought "Young Aphrodites" on videotape from Movies Unlimited several years ago. Atmy first viewing I was enchanted. Eventually I watched it so many times over the following years that I wore it out. The two youngsters (the boy sheepherder and the village girl who interests him) are the main story. Also, there is a story of an adult couple. The passionate pursuit of the bird tamer (young woman) by the shepherd (young man) and the sexual consummation of that pursuit colors the story of the boy and girl. A dead pelican? seems to be the unusual center of the boy's attempts to interest the girl. Not entirely sure why he is pursuing the girl (but having an idea from having stumbled on the sexual encounter of the older couple, he invests her with an innocence only to find that he has a rival in the form of another boy. This boy sees the girl as a sexual conquest. The rivalry, the innocent pursuit and its shattering resolution end the main story and the sheepherders return home.
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