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post #1471 of 1496 Old 02-06-2015, 03:11 PM - Thread Starter
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The Unforgiven (1960), directed by John Huston.

A frontier family hides an unspeakable secret: the daughter is a full-blooded Kiowa Indian, adopted as a baby. Vengeful ghosts from the past appear to revive old hatreds, and her Indian family want her back.

Sort of a reverse The Searchers, this is a very odd production. Huston fought with the studio and apparently no one was very happy with the final result.

In a sense it is a race-hatred Message film, but the moral is confused. The unremitting revulsion of the settlers for the Indians seems well-earned by their history, but is also wearying. Can anyone let go of it? Burt Lancaster will keep loving his adopted sister no matter what anyone else thinks, which is encouraging. On the other hand: during the siege the settlers mow down the attackers by the dozen. I don't think the sharpshooting pioneers miss once.

When Audrey Hepburn chooses her white family, is she being a race traitor to her biological people? Is that supposed to confirm that unity of the spirit trumps loyalty to the flesh? Or is she just sticking with the people she has known all her life, those who feel like her own blood?

We have a long 45m setup before the main plot emerges, although this gives us a chance to know everyone. It's always a pleasure to see Lancaster and Hepburn (although she always seems Euro-modern to me), as well as Lillian Gish (in the movies since 1912) and Charles Bickford, always fierce and unsmiling.

Joseph Wiseman is extremely spooky as a wild man of the plains. His quiet, deranged account of the massacre of an Indian village is nightmarish: "We come to an Injun camp. We killed... and we killed, and we had to lay down, tired of the killing".

Some good period detail of a working cattle ranch: note the crutches adapted from rifle stocks and a roughly tied hangman's noose.

Dimitri Tiomkin score. The mix is distracting, way too up front and intrusive.

Filmed in Mexico.

Available on Blu-ray.



-Bill

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post #1472 of 1496 Old 02-08-2015, 12:19 AM
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I got 'Mr Smith Goes to Washington' one time on VHS Billy..... The audio wasnt that good so i got rid of it....... (I LOVE 30s MOVIES -- VERY MUCH)
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post #1473 of 1496 Old 02-10-2015, 07:08 AM - Thread Starter
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The Boys from Brazil (1978), directed by Franklin J. Schaffner.

What would Hollywood do without nazis?

An elderly nazi-hunter becomes aware of a dastardly plan to clone dozens of copies of Adolph Hitler, who will then... well, they'll work that out later.

Oops, I've spoiled the big plot reveal from 1h33m into the movie. Really, this is ridiculous. It's not wrong for the audience to be ahead of the characters, but 75 minutes ahead?

I give them points for ambition, but the multi-continent science fiction plot develops with glacial slowness. The science-film interlude with Bruno Ganz (later known across the internet for his Downfall Hitler) in the middle is terribly unnecessary. The whole plot is overblown.

Further: the Jewish and German ethnic characters are caricatures. Particularly in the case of the nazis: something filmmakers never get is that evil, to be effective, must be appealing.

Laurence Olivier lays on a thick character inspired by Simon Wiesenthal.

Gregory Peck is hard to accept as the evil Dr Josef Mengele, but seems to be enjoying himself. The real character was still alive and hiding when this was made. He drowned a few months later (in Brazil!) and the remains were identified years later.

The kid who plays the multiple Hitler clones never made another film.

Frantic Jerry Goldsmith score.

Shout Factory Blu-ray. Rather good image in many scenes.



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post #1474 of 1496 Old 02-10-2015, 09:02 AM
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Oops, I've spoiled the big plot reveal from 1h33m into the movie. Really, this is ridiculous. It's not wrong for the audience to be ahead of the characters, but 75 minutes ahead?
What's wrong is that anyone would sit through this film for that long. Did you really do that?
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post #1475 of 1496 Old 02-10-2015, 10:31 AM
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The Boys From Brazil is one of those films that, to me, is completely ridiculous and half-baked, yet somehow is still entertaining to watch, mostly because of how ridiculous it is. I've owned it on VHS, DVD, and now on Blu-ray. I guess I can't help myself.
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post #1476 of 1496 Old 02-10-2015, 11:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post
What's wrong is that anyone would sit through this film for that long. Did you really do that?
First in the theater and now on Blu-ray.

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The Boys From Brazil is one of those films that, to me, is completely ridiculous and half-baked, yet somehow is still entertaining to watch, mostly because of how ridiculous it is. I've owned it on VHS, DVD, and now on Blu-ray. I guess I can't help myself.
We all have inexplicable fascinations. That would be a good confessional thread.

-Bill
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post #1477 of 1496 Old 02-10-2015, 06:43 PM
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What's wrong is that anyone would sit through this film for that long. Did you really do that?
 
Do you mean it isnt synced right?? (Audio/Video) -- I do hate that myself!!!
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post #1478 of 1496 Old 02-11-2015, 05:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Three Outlaw Samurai (1964), directed by Hideo Gosha.

When peasants kidnap a nobleman's daughter and threaten to kill her unless their demands are met -- something about starvation -- the focus is on three ronin who happen to be on hand:

  • Shiba: just passing through, decides to stay and sides with the peasants.
  • Sakura: the affable farmer's son, released from jail to fight Shiba, but joins him instead.
  • Kikyo: cynical hanger-on at the court, comes on board only at the the end.

There are so many other characters and factions that I lose track of them. Plenty of sword-fighting and realistic brawling. We have the growing theme of disobedience to authority, and even more than in Kurosawa, nobility is drained from the samurai classes. The long-focus photography looks much like that director's.

The women have a hard time of it: Japanese cinema often sneaks in bondage scenes. Even our hero Shiba takes a masochistic beating while roped up.

Combined orchestral score and traditional instruments.

I have read that this is a theatrical prequel to a television series of the same name.

Criterion Blu-ray.



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post #1479 of 1496 Old 02-11-2015, 11:29 PM
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I wanna thank you Billy for your continued posts on this and the other REVIEW thread
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post #1480 of 1496 Old 02-13-2015, 05:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Coming Home (1978), directed by Hal Ashby.

When her husband in away in Vietnam, a dutiful Marine wife becomes (mildly) radicalized and liberated and falls in love with a paraplegic veteran.

Here the anti-war generation of the 1960s step up and tell a story from their perspective. It was Jane Fonda's project from the beginning, inspired by the story of Ron Kovic, whose book Born on the Fourth of July was later filmed by Oliver Stone.

Message films must be made oh-so-carefully. There is no easier way to make a bad film. This one goes right up to the line but I think works in the end, if you can forgive the lecturing tone of some scenes.

What it does well:

  • It is emotionally gripping, with everyone in pain. We can't help yearning for comfort for all involved.
  • It is a worthy peek into the poorly provided VA hospitals (some stories never get old) with real veterans in the cast.
  • It shows us an inflexion point in the culture, when the old guard is losing respect and authority, and the previous counterculture becomes dominant.
  • Lastly, how I saw it in the theater: the suffering of the vets, the tragedy of their lives, makes one appreciate youth and wholeness and passion while you have it. Use the time well. This lesson sank deep into the souls of women I knew in the audience, looking to change their lives.

Today, about half the dialogue sounds like clunky anti-establishment hectoring, particularly the "meaningful" bits. The little impromptu personal interactions and funny give-and-take are better.

The characters and situations are set up with a clear demarcation:

The Old Guard: Marines and anyone fighting the war, Bruce Dern (previously a psycho-killer, now a soldier, isn't that a bit blunt?), snotty officer's wives, bad sex, unappealing squares who try to pick up women in bars, FBI agents who spy on desperate lovers.

The Newly Liberated: move to the beach, buy a sports car, new hairstyle, volunteer at the vet hospital, fall in love and have your first orgasm.

Perhaps that sounds too critical, but I can't help seeing the ideological design. I do like the film and its honest emotional appeal. As I said for The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), the last chapter of any war story is "coming home". This is one of the good ones for Vietnam.

Great performances all around. The leads are very fine. Bruce Dern is not a likable character in our story -- the husband as "other man" -- but his pain and confusion are moving.

Jon Voight is outstanding as a disabled vet in Hell who cleans up and gets back on track through -- as always -- the love of a good woman. In the end he becomes a mentor to others and shows a generosity of spirit that is above and beyond.

Casting Fonda as the military wife was pretty bold: she was perhaps the most hated woman in America because of her Vietnam activities. She does a bit of nudity but also has a body double.

In the popular game of "When did movies start doing...?" I now wonder when did women start getting oral sex in film? I'll have to pay more attention, but I think this was an early prominent example. That first orgasm, always a good one.

(A cruel person could do a mashup of that scene with the orgasmatron bit in Barbarella (1968)).

Rich 1960s soundtrack. I always think of a certain scene when I hear "Sympathy for the Devil". If you've seen it you know why. Quietly, in the background, during the big love scene: Neil Young's "Expecting to Fly".

Available on Blu-ray with an edited commentary track featuring Jon Voight, Bruce Dern, and cinematographer Haskell Wexler. It was recorded in 2001 just after 9/11.



-Bill

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post #1481 of 1496 Old 02-13-2015, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post
The Wind and the Lion (1975), written and directed by John Milius.

"Pedecaris alive or Raisuli dead." -- TR.

-Bill
One of my favorite films, I sat through it twice one afternoon on its release. Incredible early Dolby sound setup at that theater in San Francisco. How's the Blu-ray transfer?


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post #1482 of 1496 Old 02-13-2015, 07:36 AM - Thread Starter
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One of my favorite films, I sat through it twice one afternoon on its release. Incredible early Dolby sound setup at that theater in San Francisco. How's the Blu-ray transfer?
I think it represents the film well, unmolested by noise reduction or degraining. The movie itself was shot with a light filter, which is more evident in some scenes than others. See the attachment for a full-size example. The bright windows in the background bring out the effect.

EDIT: OOPS! I just posted Coming Home and thought you were asking about that.

The Wind and the Lion: very good in spots, and ok elsewhere. Warner Archive is a pretty good deal in Blu-ray. I don't know why some titles get into that program rather than standard distribution. Maybe it just means no marketing budget.

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post #1483 of 1496 Old 02-14-2015, 08:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Planet of the Vampires (1965), directed by Mario Bava.

That should be "zombies" rather than "vampires", but American International picked the English title.

When responding to a distress beacon, two spacecraft make forced landings on an unknown planet. The crews become psychotically murderous until punched around a bit. They discover a derelict alien spacecraft with large calcified Space Jockey remains. The worst thing? Dead crew members won't stay dead, and come back changed.

Let's get the bad out of the way first:

  • Pointless and incoherent techno-declamations waste the first 10 minutes.
  • Lots of running around and screaming to no purpose.
  • We only get to know a few of the crew members; the others are kind of anonymous. (They swap one actor midway through; I didn't notice).
  • As I mentioned for Barbarella (1968), there's something painful about Italian science fiction.
  • I don't know whether to complain about the costumes or not. Maybe spacemen will want strangely detailed motorcycle leathers. (Actually neoprene wetsuits, I think).
  • The limited budget and rudimentary effects might take us out of the story, but I would argue for accepting those restrictions in this type of film.

I recommend it for:

  • Mario Bava completists.
  • Those interested in the history of the SF/Horror genre.
  • Anyone with a fondness for old pulp magazine rocketship adventures.
  • Fans of Alien (1979) who want to see the remarkable parallels for themselves.

Ridley Scott and Dan O'Bannon say they never saw this film, so I can't explain the apparent influences. Take this and It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) and you have a big box of Alien (1979) construction parts. Carlo Rambaldi worked on special effects for both films.

It has other good features as well:

  • A persistently ominous and creepy tone. No humor or cute mugging at all.
  • Lovely color and better than expected composition and camera work.
  • The pulp magazine cover vibe is strong in this one. We see more retro-SF these days and it fits into that revival.

Available on Blu-ray from Kino. No subtitles. Commentary track by a Bava scholar with a wealth of technical detail. He says Bava had a passion for SF, although most of his films were horror.



-Bill
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post #1484 of 1496 Old 02-15-2015, 12:41 AM
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Alien (1979), directed by Ridley Scott.

..
The color scheme on the Blu-ray is distinctly more blue than I remember, and in this case I remember it pretty well. The change makes the image brighter, cleaner and less grungy, unfortunately subtracting what we used to call the "Giger-green", named for the principal artist. That's the unwholesome industrial-organic color of the Alien itself; now it is just a neutral, much safer color.

The stereo track sounds most like what I remember, but that could be my ears or the theater where I saw it.

Finally: that screech the chestburster makes? I encountered that in nature once and learned where the effect came from. You might say I jumped.



-Bill


Not sure if it's a new master since your review, but I just got the blu-ray of this, allegedly remastered forum pristine original elements, and it doesn't even look like film. Like they sent back a 4k camera to 1978. Makes for rather curious viewing.


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post #1485 of 1496 Old 02-18-2015, 04:54 AM - Thread Starter
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The Bride Wore Black (1968), directed by François Truffaut.

The Bride dresses only in white (for her virginity) and black (for her mourning). She has a list of men to kill, checking them off systematically. We learn her story gradually, in flashbacks.

Her victims are unlovely, but don't seem particularly villainous. The exploitation of women is a continuing theme. We have:

  • the playboy: pushed off a balcony
  • the shy, nerdy lecher: poisoned
  • the politician: suffocated (never forget the duct tape)
  • the artist: shot with an arrow
  • the goon: stabbed with a kitchen knife in prison

She begins to show doubt with #4 , the artist. He pretty clearly represents the director, a man obsessed both with women and with his work. He poses her as Diana, the virgin huntress.

This has a strain of quirky humor, and is in no way a pre-Death Wish revenge-porn story. Julie confesses to a priest who argues that her love and sorrow can in no way be reconciled with vengeance and killing. She has nothing to say to that, but continues with her mission.

It's often compared to a Hitchcock film, mostly for the director's idolatry of Hitchcock and published interviews with him, and for using Bernard Herrmann for the score.

I last saw haunted-eyed Jeanne Moreau in The Train (1964), Diary of a Chambermaid (1964), and Monte Walsh (1970). She's sexy at age 40, but stressed looking, which fits the story perfectly.

The production was unexpectedly troubled. Truffaut had worked well with Moreau and Herrmann and the cinematographer before, but this time wasn't getting what he wanted and seemed indecisive. He overruled Herrmann on choices of some of the musical cues, and the commentators think that was a mistake.

From a Cornell Woolrich story.

Twilight Time Blu-ray. Two versions: (1) English dub with selectable subtitles, and (2) French language with burned subtitles, commentary track and isolated score. The burned subtitles are good hidef quality, as for a Blu-ray disc.

Why the above two versions could not have been combined into one, I do not know. They seem to be the same cut, although with slightly different music cues.



-Bill

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post #1486 of 1496 Old 02-20-2015, 08:42 PM - Thread Starter
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The Big Steal (1949), directed by Don Siegel.

We're dropped into the middle of the story and it takes a few minutes to puzzle out who is who. Then we find ourselves in the old double chase in a road race across scenic Mexico, with feuding Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer pursuing a grifter who has stolen Army payroll, while Captain William Bendix chases them and the canny Mexican police sit back and wait for all the players to be revealed.

It's funnier than many of these crime pictures, with plenty of snappy patter between the leads. The Hayes Office required a drastic reduction of sex and violence in the original screenplay, so they upped the comedy to compensate. Not a top shelf result, but it's amazing it works as well as it does. Only 71 minutes long.

You might suppose that RKO, recognizing how well Mitchum and Greer teamed in Out of the Past (1947) would be eager to let them do it again. You would suppose wrong. New studio owner Howard Hughes was trying to ruin former girlfriend Greer's career. She was the last choice, but no other actress would costar with her pal Mitchum, who had been arrested for marijuana and would be going to jail for 50 days during filming.

Give Hughes credit for sticking with Mitchum during his troubles. Turns out the conviction didn't hurt his career at all. Greer didn't have a big career in Hollywood but was happy with a life elsewhere.

Having the leading man leave for jail obviously upset production, but Siegel skillfully managed the chaos. He and Mitchum were alike in their disregard for authority.

The Mexican cops are played by Ramon Novarro and Don Alvarado, who both did Latin Lover roles during silent films. Mexicans are treated rather well in this film, better than usual for Hollywood then or now.

The DVD has a commentary track. Illegal (1955), a crime/courtroom drama with Edward G. Robinson, is on the same disc.



-Bill
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post #1487 of 1496 Old 02-23-2015, 08:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Bonjour Tristesse (1958), directed by Otto Preminger.

"Hello Sadness".

On the lovely French Riviera, a playboy father (David Niven) and his teenaged daughter (Jean Seberg, age 20) lead an idyllic dissipated life that suits both of them. Dad incautiously invites two women for the same weekend; one is the formidable Deborah Kerr. She might take over and ruin things; what to do about that?

The father-daughter relationship is one of the oddest I can remember. We don't imagine any incest, but they are physically casual and more intimate and trusting with each other than many lovers or married couples.

We understand a spoiled young woman wants what she wants and won't be managed, but Dad is much the same. Totally irresponsible and not at all interested in anything other than short-term casual conquests.

The daughter has a love scene with her young man that fades to black. Research topic: when was the first implied sex with teenagers in film?

Dad's other girlfriend has funny lines: "I will not be treated like a wife!" and "No lady goes home alone".

The color story is told within a B&W frame: after the main events the daughter sadly reflects on an unforgivable thing she did. The main story in color is a flashback to the earlier more farcical events. The frame is more sober and I think more interesting.

Not well received in America or Britain, and critics were especially unkind to Jean Seberg. On the other hand, the French loved both her and the film; Godard said Breathless could have been a direct sequel.

Beautiful imagery, both in the color and B&W segments.

Twilight Time Blu-ray.



-Bill
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post #1488 of 1496 Old 02-26-2015, 09:19 AM - Thread Starter
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The Razor's Edge (1946), directed by Edmund Goulding.

After WW1, a man cannot settle down but must seek the meaning of life.

The film is partly spiritual quest and partly soap opera. It was a prestige film of that year with a large number of lavish sets and hundreds of extras for the crowd and ballroom scenes.

Sadly, it lacks passion and intensity. The major problems:

  • Tyrone Power is a likable actor but lacks the depth for this. He made another film with Edmund Goulding that I liked better: Nightmare Alley (1947).
  • The nature of his quest is fuzzy and undefined. Which, to give them credit, prefigures modern notions of "spirituality": vague and lacking content.
  • The production code was partly to blame: religious advocacy of Vedanta or Hinduism had to be constrained.
  • Same for sex, drugs and alcohol: the limitations hurt the story in this case.
  • We're supposed to accept the limitations of studio-bound productions, but the painted Himalayas are a bit painful. See Black Narcissus (1947) for a (color!) contrast of what was possible in the studio.
  • Length: 2h24m is way too long for this.

The really good scenes all feature Gene Tierney: exotic beauty, powerful but controlled sexuality, malicious intellect. Even though married, she is still infatuated with a former fiance and no other woman can have him. In a terribly evil moment she pushes a friend back into alcoholism to get her out of the way.

The best segment is a carefully plotted sex trap: she puts on the Evening Gown of Death, dances with her target all night and then leads him back to her place. He's ready, and if sex ensues then marriage will follow. But, unexpectedly, she lets him go. This is so erotic you can hear the Code squeaking in protest.

Her uncle has been watching and critiques her performance. This is the acidic, exquisitely bitchy Clifton Webb, together again with Tierney after Laura (1944).

Misc notes:

  • The film's problems were known and discussed even as it was being made, but audiences liked it anyway.
  • The film features Tierney's own wedding dress, never used by her because she eloped.
  • Niece: "I want to spend my last night with him". Uncle: "I trust you mean evening". (Actually, she did mean overnight).
  • Anne Baxter is described as "tight", meaning drunk, "if not worse", the only hint at drugs they are allowed. That and what looks like an opium den / bordello.
  • Remade in 1984 with Bill Murray.
  • The title is from a Hindu verse; I always thought it was a Shakespeare quote: "The tongues of mocking wenches are sharper than the razor's edge invisible".

Alfred Newman score.

Available on Blu-ray.

The commentary track has long silent stretches, but gossipy interest now and then. For example: director Goulding was bisexual and had drug parties and orgies of what you might call "both kinds". He had to be sent out of the country to cool down now and then.



-Bill

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post #1489 of 1496 Old 02-26-2015, 01:13 PM
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The Razor's Edge (1946), directed by Edmund Goulding.

After WW1, a man cannot settle down but must seek the meaning of life.

The film is partly spiritual quest and partly soap opera. It was a prestige film of that year with a large number of lavish sets and hundreds of extras for the crowd and ballroom scenes.

Sadly, it lacks passion and intensity. The major problems:

  • Tyrone Power is a likable actor but lacks the depth for this. He made another film with Edmund Goulding that I liked better: Nightmare Alley (1947).
I agree that Tyrone Power had limited talent. I hardly remember him in The Razor's Edge. Like you,, I thought he gave a memorable performance in the deeply creepy Nightmare Alley. I thought it was the finest performance of Power's career. In the film, he movingly portrayed a man's descent into alcoholism and madness. Highly recommended!
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post #1490 of 1496 Old 02-26-2015, 07:21 PM
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Review older films here: 1979 and earlier

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The Razor's Edge (1946), directed by Edmund Goulding.

The best segment is a carefully plotted sex trap: she puts on the Evening Gown of Death, dances with her target all night and then leads him back to her place. He's ready, and if sex ensues then marriage will follow. But, unexpectedly, she lets him go. This is so erotic you can hear the Code squeaking in protest.

-Bill
Sir, I just LMMFAO. Glad I didn't have a mouthful of food....

.. What about Power in WITNESS FOR THE PROTECTION? I think he was underutilized or mis handled by directors....

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post #1491 of 1496 Old 03-03-2015, 05:56 AM - Thread Starter
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The Master of Ballantrae (1953), directed by William Keighley.

When Bonnie Prince Charlie tries for the crown of England one last time, a Scottish family has to decide which way to jump. Their cunning plan: the older, hard-living brother goes with the rebels, while the younger decent brother stays loyal. That way the family wins no matter what. But it means the wicked brother will become an outlaw traitor.

It's not a bad story and Errol Flynn has done worse, but I review it only because I'm a Flynn completist. I'm very fond of Roger Livesey, too. Both are past their swashbuckling prime, but we still have lots of sword fighting and a sea of kilts, and even a pirating excursion to the West Indies (filmed in Sicily).

That Spanish dancer "Marianne" can't have a transparent blouse in a 1953 film, but I'm at a loss to explain it otherwise.

The story is only vaguely related to RL Stevenson's book.

Jack Cardiff photography. The Technicolor print is in pretty bad shape.



-Bill
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post #1492 of 1496 Old 03-03-2015, 02:07 PM
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The Master of Ballantrae (1953), directed by William Keighley.

It's not a bad story and Errol Flynn has done worse, but I review it only because I'm a Flynn completist. I'm very found of Roger Livesey, too. Both are past their swashbuckling prime, but we still have lots of sword fighting and a sea of kilts, and even a pirating excursion to the West Indies (filmed in Sicily)
Roger Livesey won my undying admiration with his tour de force performance in the title role of The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. It is a great film, 10 Stars out of 10. I have it on BD and have watched it on innumerable occasions. Along with The Red Shoes, it is one of the two Powell and Pressburger masterpieces.
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post #1493 of 1496 Old Yesterday, 06:00 PM
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Has anyone mentioned "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"? One of my favorites, and of course, a Spielberg classic.
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post #1494 of 1496 Old Yesterday, 06:01 PM
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Oh, and since I mentioned Spielberg, I have to mention "Jaws", which to this day has impacted my thoughts when I swim, whether it be in a pool or the ocean.
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post #1495 of 1496 Old Yesterday, 06:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Oh, and since I mentioned Spielberg, I have to mention "Jaws", which to this day has impacted my thoughts when I swim, whether it be in a pool or the ocean.
I had some notes here: Jaws (1975).

-Bill

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post #1496 of 1496 Old Today, 10:25 AM
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Pretty sure that CE3K was 1977, or was it 1978.... Those were great years for John Williams-scored flicks: STAR WARS, CE3K, SUPERMAN....


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