Reviews

803 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
5/10
Noisy But Insubstantial
11 November 2019
'Team America' had already sent this sort of nonsense up so beautifully five years earlier (even down to the scene where they lay waste to Paris) that filming this straight seemed redundant; except of course it made a bomb at the box office, thus paving the way for a sequel.

Just as you keep expecting Her Majesty's treasury to eventually make up the shortfall of £5 notes in circulation so we'd stop running out of them at the shops; so you'd think that over four decades after the original 'Star Wars' special effects would have long ago stopped looking so cartoony. But the effects in 'G.I.Joe' continue to be spectacular but totally unconvincing. Like everything else about it.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Who Goes Next (1938)
4/10
The Great War Escape
11 November 2019
At first this promises to be an early version of 'The Great Escape', which was nearly twice as long, yet showed the minutiae of digging a tunnel - disposing of the earth, for example - could easily fill an entire film of well over two hours in length and keep one interested.

Yet despite being only 85 minutes long - and boasting atmospheric photography (when it gets the chance) by Ronald Neame - this outing squanders footage on a gaping hole in the story back in Blighty as uninteresting as it is amoral in which Jack Hawkins forces his attentions on a woman he knows full well is married that eats up footage that would have been better devoted to the escape itself.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
4/10
Definitely Not a Musical
11 November 2019
As the other reviewers have already observed, contrary to Denis Gifford's description of it in 'The British Film Catalogue' as a musical this is more a very poor man's 'Cavalcade' (with a smattering of 'Lord Jim' thrown in), spanning twenty years, during the course of which someone very occasionally bursts into song; at one point in a bar in Queensland.

Plainly shot on a shoestring, it resembles a short that somehow clocked in at feature length, Oswald Michell's succession of stiffly directed scenes of people talking enhanced by Robert Martin's pleasing photography.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Towers of London Meets the Tower of London
10 November 2019
The first sequel to 'The Face of Fu Manchu' (1965), and the only one shot at Bray and in a very wintry looking London; hence the scrap in front of the Tower of London and Burt Kwouk's presence as Lee's lab assistant, who helps man the controls of a much more modest control room than that presided over by Dr.No at the finale. (Since the locations here are far drabber than they became after Towers relocated in the East the emphasis this time round is more on drama than travelogue, and the better for it.)

Nigel Green is no longer Nayland Smith, but Don Sharp is still directing, so although not a patch on the original it's still slightly preferable to the dross that followed.

Tsai Chin isn't given much to do in this one, but her dryly amusing appearance disguised as a cleaning lady makes one regret that she never went out into the field in disguise again...
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
4/10
"The Panda's Too Dangerous to Fool With!!"
9 November 2019
I thought The Squeaker was a daft enough name for an arch criminal, but Edgar Wallace must have been really desperate when he called this potboiler's "prince of blackmailers" The Panda. How the cast kept straight faces while pretending to be frightened of a villain named after a cuddly toy is probably the movie's greatest mystery! (I wonder if any of the cast or crew kept as a souvenir the cute little model panda he sent in advance to his victims.)

As the bodies start piling up the cast take the film's high mortality rate slightly more seriously than is usual in this sort of nonsense, but it actually gets slower and more talky as it approaches its climax, and The Panda's true identity is revealed so casually it took me a while to realise that the Great Reveal had already taken place...!
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
4/10
"Soho's Beaten a Lot of People, But it's Not Going to Beat Me!"
9 November 2019
While postwar cinema audiences were lapping up the escapism from the cramped reality of postwar austerity Britain provided by Herbert Wilcox's "London Films" with titles like 'Maytime in Mayfair', and even the murder mysteries routinely showed people living in huge country houses, tabloid movies like 'It Happened in Soho' were serving as the id to Wilcox's ego, lightheartedly depicting Soho as a thrillingly sinful den of vice, with an ethnically diverse population even before the arrival of the Windrush.

At only 55 minutes, you're only just getting settled in when the murderer (who would now be identified as a serial killer) has already been revealed and apprehended.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Au Pair Girls (1972)
4/10
Mike Shadow & Five O'Clock Shadow
9 November 2019
Ribald remarks about au pair girls and milkmen used to be a mainstay of 1970s Britain, and just as Derren Nesbitt wrote and directed a film called 'The Amorous Milkman' (from his own novel!) a couple of years after this, here the hilarious subject of au pair girls gets a film to themselves in the hands of veteran writer-director Val Guest.

Despite his background with Will Hay, Guest's thrillers were always better than his comedies; and you know what sort of territory you're in when even before the credits are over you've already seen a mike shadow before you've heard any dialogue. But it's a disarmingly good-natured affair in bright colours, and both Gabrielle Drake as a Danish au pair (far sexier on TV a few years earlier carrying a clipboard while dressed as a dominatrix in 'UFO') and Astrid Frank as a Swedish one manage to be charmingly ditsy and stay in character even when starkers.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Sylvia Suffers in Fancy Dress
8 November 2019
Heaven knows what possessed Paramount to cast Sylvia Sydney in this in the first place, unless it was a desire to find a novel context for her to suffer in. Given that they did, it's actually been done with taste and elegance, Puccini is used quite well as incidental music on the soundtrack, and Miss Sidney is as moving as she always is (we can imagine only too well what a western woman wronged so grievously would have done with the dagger she reaches purposely for at the conclusion).

Those outraged at the casting of a Jewish/American actress as a geisha should also take note of the fact that All-American cad Pinkerton is played by a Bristolian.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Faux French Frolics
8 November 2019
With an Austrian director, Swedish leading man and Noah Beery somehow shoehorned in, that leaves little room for British actors in the other leads; and as for the French themselves - despite being set against the backdrop of their revolution - forget it!!

It's fun during the first half when Hazel Terry has to disguise herself as a young man in a high collar, britches and boots (which she even seems to sleep in); plus a sequence in which she goes skinny-dipping. As usual none of the oafs in the film recognise her for what she actually is; and it's a lot less fun after she dons petticoats again (and as is usual in such nonsense, we're supposed to think this constitutes an improvement)!
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Wall of Death (1951)
7/10
Walk on the Wild Side
8 November 2019
All three of the young leads in this movie died young within five years of each other during the 1970s. A bleak trawl of the lower depths recalling 'Nightmare Alley', it teams two of postwar British cinema's most saturnine bad boys and biggest quiffs, of whom only Maxwell Reed is deemed incapable of redemption (although Laurence Harvey's hero-worshipping of him does seem to go beyond mere admiration).

Wilkie Cooper's superb photography goes some way towards making the basic squalor of the subject palatable, while the supposedly poky little room unemployed 'showgirl' Susan Shaw rents looks luxuriously spacious by 21st Century standards.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Crooks' Tour
8 November 2019
Although credited only as the film's producer, it would be interesting to know how much influence Lance Comfort exercised over credited director Peter Bezencenet, previously an editor (which would however account for the slick way it glides along); with the photography entrusted to Nicolas Roeg, no less!

"Mr. Acker Bilk" (as he is billed in the opening credits) is plainly no actor and when not playing his clarinet is almost invisible in his own film, and more lines are wisely given to the likes of Geoffrey Sumner & Arthur Mullard.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Young and Thin
8 November 2019
Rather obviously patterned after 'Mullholland Dr.' with added necrophilia. Like the fashion industry itself this movie is either taking itself very seriously indeed or is one long leg pull. The synthesised score adds to the feel of a seventies or eighties slasher movie with glossy 21st Century pretensions.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Sanders (1963)
6/10
The Diamond Smugglers
7 November 2019
Edgar Wallace had been popular screen fodder for decades, but this seems to be the first adaptation of his work to hit the big screen in Technicolor, presumably in order to make another James Bond out of district commissioner Sanders. (Ian Fleming had already published a series of articles for 'The Sunday Times' called The Diamond Smugglers', which could easily as served as a title for this.)

The presence of Walter Rilla alerts us to the fact this is a German-British co-production (and German heroine Marianne Koch arrives by Lufthansa while the villain uses a luger). Unlike most European films set below the Equator - which always seem wholly devoid of creepy-crawlies - this film actually acknowledges the inhospitable presence of snakes and crocodiles.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Smart Alecs
7 November 2019
Since I was only four in 1963 the actor who's presence in this film is for me most evocative of the early sixties is dear old Peter Glaze from 'Crackerjack'. But there's someone for everyone to watch out for in this agreeable time waster by veteran director Lance Comfort; including Kenny Ball and Patsy Ann Noble (stars of Pinetree Studio's 'Don't Give Me That Jazz').

And of course there's the 21 year-old David Hemmings, already capable of carrying a feature film on his young shoulders while convincingly playing a teenager.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Pettin' in the Park
6 November 2019
Warning: Spoilers
People haven't really changed much since Victorian times; as this choice little vignette demonstrates which anticipates - this time with a happy ending - the excruciating scene sixty-six years later in 'A Kind of Loving' in which Alan Bates' night on the town is wrecked by June Ritchie's insistence on bringing along with them her pudding of a friend Patsy Rowlands.

Here the two romantic leads leap upon one another with ravenous gusto and it's the girl who this time takes the lead by pausing briefly to smartly overturn the park bench they've chosen for their tryst the better to eject the old biddy intruding upon their canoodling by plonking herself down next to them to read a book. The End.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Child 44 (2015)
3/10
Murder in Mordor
6 November 2019
A potentially fascinating subject (very loosely based on the case of serial killer Andrei Chikatilo during the eighties, but relocated during the fifties to make it even gloomier) founders in the usually welter of drab colour, wobbly steadicam photography, hushed dialogue in impenetrable 'Russian' accents and extreme overlength.

The Russian authorities withdrew the film because of the grimy picture it painted of the workers' paradise during the fifties and the incredible idea that a serial killer could have operated with impunity at such a time; but the activities of the German serial killer Bruno Ludke during the Nazi era - also hushed up at the time for reasons of political expediency - had earlier also been the subject of their own film, 'Knachts, wenn der Teufel kam' in 1957.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Money Doesn't Talk it Swears
5 November 2019
A stylish, exhilarating film to experience (although hardly - despite the incredible 'quaaludes' sequence - three hours worth). Nor is it the first to be called 'The Wolf of Wall Street'. That distinction belongs to a long-lost early talkie starring George Bancroft that opened a few months before the original Wall Street Crash of 1929. And the new 'Wolf of Wall Street' amply demonstrates that the United States of America has learned absolutely nothing in the intervening ninety years.

Just as Conservatives love piously asking where the money to fund a Welfare State will come from, DiCaprio reflects at one point that the life they lead is unsustainable in the Real World, "but who wants to live there?" It's obviously even more unhealthy, however, for anyone to be paid as much as the almost exclusively white and male parasites "making more money than you know what to do with" that this film celebrates.

We're actually told that his luxury home is "the most expensive real estate on earth" and his lifestyle depends entirely upon a colossal army of poor working stiffs (many of them women) with their feet firmly on the ground working long hours for peanuts working as waiters, domestic staff and nurses, and making the sharp suits and industrial-strength quantities of drugs consumed by characters "sailing a boat fit for a Bond villain"; while remaining themselves as conspicuous by their absence from most of the film as the consumption by the economic masters they spend their lives servicing and cleaning up after.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
"My Name's Hyde, Teddy Hyde...!"
5 November 2019
Bernard Bresslaw had already appeared in Hammer's 'The Men of Sherwood Forest' in 1954, and only lost the role of Frankenstein's monster to Christopher Lee because his agent asked for more money. Ironically his best known horror role was in the Carry On spoof 'Carry On Screaming' (1966)' and it was in comedy that he was making his name in TV's 'The Army Game' when Hammer invited him back to star in their big screen version, 'I Only Arsked' in 1958; which was sufficiently successful to spawn this sequel of sorts in which he became the first actor to play Jekyll & Hyde for Hammer.

Reversing Hammer's 'straight' version, 'The Two Faces of Jekyll' (1960), he sprouts facial hair in the form of a rakish moustache as part of the transformation; and like Jerry Lewis's 'Buddy Love' in 'The Nutty Professor' (1963) also acquires a slick new wardrobe in which he wows the girls and develops an amoral new persona.

So far, so good, and under veteran director Lance Comfort's assured tutelage the first two thirds is enhanced by vivid black & white photography by Michael Reed and an almost expressionist rooftop set by Bernard Robinson. But it's at this point it rather loses its way and begins to fizzle out; although it lingered strikingly in the memory when I originally saw it aged about 10 over half a century ago; and Jean Muir makes an appealingly elfin little beat chick.

Despite her name Miss Muir's not the fashion designer, although the rather patrician vowels she's inclined to occasionally slip into would better accompany one of the latter's creations than the fetchingly boyish short hair and slacks she wears for much of the film.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Moody South African Western
5 November 2019
A bleak cross between 'Treasure of the Sierra Madre' and 'Scott of the Antarctic' enhanced by superb location work by veteran cameraman Ossie Morris; combining the inhospitable terrain of the latter (oppressively hot rather than bitterly cold) with the squabbling amongst a small, ill-matched group searching for treasure of the former.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Diverting Enough...
4 November 2019
I ironically first became aware of this film when it became the centre of a firestorm of criticism about five years ago over the 'whitewashing' of history by casting hot caucasian Sigourney Weaver as an ancient Egyptian queen. (This may have been a canny publicity ploy to get us to all watch it, since she's hardly in it, but thanks to all the 'negative' publicity surrounding her role in it we certainly do now; which is why I bothered to watch it in the first place!)

Ironically it's her accent that was actually the most incongruous aspect of her presence in it; and the wide range of accents throughout the cast that most recalled the old Hollywood biblical epics of the fifties.

'Gods and Kings' does have the odd sliver of wit that makes it worth trudging through, and both the cast and the design often look good; although the cartoonish CGI aerial shots will probably date it even faster than it's fifties forbears.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Flying the Flag
4 November 2019
Only last night I saw people being coerced by the use of torture into treading on Christian icons and imported items being brought into 17th Century Japan being inspected for concealed crucifixes in Martin Scorsese's 'Silence'; and today I saw the significance still given to inspirational objects such as the Belgian flag that men (and women) were still prepared in the 20th Century to risk their lives to preserve and smuggle them to safety.

Boasting an evocative title; although clearly made very quickly and cheaply in a variety of formats ranging from obvious back projection and models to beautiful sylvan location work - and with both Belgians & Germans mainly speaking in received English - the obvious sincerity lying behind this film and the moving music "specially composed" (as the credits put it) by Ralph Vaughan Williams makes the whole thing touching to watch.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Silence (I) (2016)
7/10
The Silent Treatment
4 November 2019
In this expensive, long-nurtured and extremely long 'personal' project Scorsese again tackles head-on the religious component which is a subtext to most of his films; in which God as usual demonstrates His boundless love for humanity by maintaining an aloof silence to the wailing, gnashing of teeth and purging of the flesh (usually bathed of course in beautiful amber shades by Oscar-nominated cameraman Rodrigo Prieto) that His silence permits to continue.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
"Vigilance is the Price of Life in Apache Territory"
3 November 2019
Since he co-produced this movie for his own company (from Louis L'Amour's 1957 novel 'Last Stand at Papagos Wells') Rory Calhoun gets to enjoy himself enormously as the rock upon whom all the other characters depend in this strongly-cast reprise of the basic situation of 'The Lost Patrol'.

Obviously shot mainly on one set, which makes it resemble an episode of 'Star Trek', but also gives it a certain claustrophobic tension; it has two interesting and highly contrasting female characters, the handsome and seemingly capable Barbara Bates (whose last film this was), and fragile Carolyn Craig, both of them played by actresses who later committed suicide.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Nebraskan (1953)
5/10
Disjointed 3D Western
3 November 2019
I last saw this western on a black & white set when I was 13 and my sole memory of it was an enormous close-up of a hand clutching a knife about to be plunged into a sentry's back; thus alerting the viewer to the fact that this was originally in 3D. That explains the occasionally jerky cutting to get the camera into the best position for 3D effects like a chair being crashed into the camera; while some of the exteriors are created to very odd effect by foreground objects (usually shrubs) inserted into grainy long-shots.

The more conventional footage is attractively shot in Technicolor, but the budget plainly didn't allow for many cavalrymen or injuns, so the siege that takes up most of the second half of the film is an underpopulated business; while the scenes inside the besieged cabin are far too overlit.

A young Lee Van Cleef in a Yankee uniform figures prominently as the principal baddie. In it much more briefly is Dennis Weaver as a bone-headed Yankee captain who swiftly learns the hard way he should have heeded the hero's advice.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
"She'd Have Been Alright if She Hadn't Been So... Blonde!"
3 November 2019
An interesting companion piece to Ken Loach's new film 'Sorry You Were Out' in which ex-con David Sumner gets a job as a delivery driver in the fictional London suburb of Eastgate, where his surly demeanour and lack of interest in delivering on time would ensure he didn't last five minutes in today's gig economy.

Although his previous form doesn't include violent sex offences, his abrasive personality results in him immediately coming under suspicion for a series of murders being committed every full moon in a lonely local area known as 'The Flats'. On paper that plot sounds like Gothic Horror, but it's mainly played (and photographed) as a police procedural; with platinum blonde policewoman Susan Travers letting her hair down to go undercover. As a trained police sergeant she should have been better able to defend herself when it's eventually her turn to get attacked in the fog; but there's a final satisfying revelation literally in the last minute which answers at least one question that had been looming ever larger on my mind as the film had been progressing.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

Recently Viewed