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Old 05-14-2015, 01:11 PM
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Been so long since I've seen this, or parts of it. I'm guessing the riot is the escape and resulting battle in May, 1946. I was lucky enough to be going through Alcatraz with the Bay Area chapter of the Company of Military Historians (my father was a member), as we wanted to take a peek at the old US Army installation that the prison is built atop (and accessible through stairs in the library). Don't know if anyone's ever explored it ... we needed rope and lights, and the Park ranger with us was understandably hesitant to let any of us step more than a few feet into it (dark and vast, it was). (My brother spent time working as a Park ranger there, but he hasn't mentioned any exploration of the fort.)

But I digress. On that day in 1980, Clarence Carnes was accompanying a small group of people through the prison; a two-part TV movie about him was airing on TV in a few months. Our two groups merged, and he was genuinely interested in these old veterans who could tell him about the pre-prison history of the island. For his part, he pointed out familiar locations, including those where events of the Battle of Alcatraz occurred, with chilling candor and accuracy. When we got to the access corridor where the remaining rioters were killed by grenades dropped in from the roof, we all stood in silence for a minute or two of respect.

It was a pretty creepy, emotional day. I can't begin to describe visiting the prison with someone who's been an inmate there. Sad to hear he died in a prison hospital only a few years later; he seemed like a humble, repentant man when I met him.

(For those wondering, portions of that TV movie, as well as the Clint Eastwood film, were filmed in the prison. In 1980, some of the cells were in various states of "redress" and mock up from various film productions leaving behind their set dressing as part of the filming contract. ... Yes, Carnes pointed out where Stroud's cell in Solitary was. I can confirm that some o' those Solitary section cells were SCARY.)
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Old 05-15-2015, 09:21 AM
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"To Kill A Mockingbird" - 1962

Children can comprehend life's most pressing issues, and this film explores it to perfection. The three young children, two belong to Atticus Finch, and one a neighbor, drive all the narrative, and manage to stay out front in spite of the huge star presence of Gregory Peck, who seems to know enough not to step on the real stars of this film. Scout and Jem are learning the obvious lessons of racism in the deep south, but also the far more subtle lesson of appreciating people no matter their position or perceived importance - the metaphorical "mocking birds" of our society, according to an earlier Atticus Finch story to the children. The courtroom drama is usually depicted as the central point of interest in trailers or reviews, but it is soon eclipsed by the much more intense and unexpected reprisal attack on the children who are saved by the previously unseen shut-in, Boo.

I can't remember how many years ago I first saw this movie. Maybe 30 or more. But, I thought it was about the courtroom drama, and had actually forgotten about the ending, and I relearned last night why this film is so important in our film history. The performance of Mary Badham as "Scout" was perfection. I'll have to see the film whose child star beat her out of an Oscar that year.
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Old 05-15-2015, 04:29 PM
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Hey Frank its good to have ya here buddy!!

I have 13 of your records!!!! (All are in Mono)


Ah man!! ()

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Old 05-15-2015, 06:56 PM
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Many of the extras on the BD (and collectors' DVD) are touching and wonderful. Peck really, really wanted to do this role right, and invested so much of himself in it. Mary Badham's stories of how Peck spent time with the two child actors to make them "at home" and develop rapport are very sweet. Not just a tactic, he really became their "stage dad."

Mulligan went on to make many other classics: Summer of '42, The Other (underrated little horror flick).

Though it's cheap, the BD with all the extras on it is a treasure.

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Old 05-16-2015, 07:57 PM
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Thanks, Dude 111.. I'm in recording heaven!
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Old 05-17-2015, 03:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Zardoz (1974), written, produced and directed by John Boorman.

"Stay close to me, inside my aura" is a not a line you ever want to hear from Sean Connery.

Effete, bored immortals live a communal back-to-the-land existence, supplemented by some advanced technology and slave labor in the outer savage lands. One of these savages penetrates their utopia and causes all sorts of trouble. Which turns out to be what they wanted.

I don't think anyone likes Zardoz at first viewing. What seems at first a quirky post-apocalyptic science fiction story becomes a vehicle for fuzzy social parables and then a weird god-help-us metaphysical freakout. Boorman has an excess of ideas but neither the budget nor the time to develop them.

And yet: many revisit it and grow fond of the director's very personal vision. I'd class it with other "failed but fascinating" SF film attempts, like Things to Come (1936) or Dune (1984). Some might put Fahrenheit 451 (1966) in that class but I have more kindly feelings toward it.

My chief complaint is a plot point: what is the flaw in the Tabernacle-crystal? How does Zed defeat it? I should read Boorman's novelization. Neither commentary track explains it. A possible solution: the computer wanted to end the Vortex community and committed suicide by letting Zed in. When the plot suggests that a higher power has been manipulating the human manipulators, I always presumed some transcendental force operating through human genetics (a Frank Herbert idea). One of the commentary tracks presumes the Tabernacle itself is this force, which never occurred to me.

Boorman admits that many viewers will find some of this ludicrous. Well, indeed. When Zed arrives in the Vortex:

  • The non-reproducing sexless immortals are fascinated by this savage hunk of violence and sexuality...
  • ...making particular note of his manly erection, now extinct in their own community. More research required!
  • Disaffected women beg to be inseminated.
  • His very sweat revives the comatose.
  • And yet he is also the personification of Death to the immortals

Let there be no doubt: Sean Connery does all this -- even the ridiculous bits -- and owns it. I've never seen his overwhelming self-confidence cracked in any role. (His character is breaking down in The Offence (1972), but the actor still masters it).

Kudos also to exotic beauties Charlotte Rampling (last seen in The Night Porter (1974) and Farewell, My Lovely (1975) and Sara Kestelman (Lisztomania (1975)).

I don't know why, but British imaginative film often goes extra stagey, almost as if they were putting on a children's pantomime show. You see this in the The Prisoner (1967) tv series and in the old Doctor Who. It always degenerates into the mad costume party.

The locations were areas all around Boorman's house in Ireland. Some amount of nudity, mainly boobage.

Available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time, with two commentary tracks:

(1) John Boorman is so used to incomprehension in the audience for this one that he tends to narrate even the obvious plot points. But he also gives good production details, explains his thoughts and confesses the problems: "You can fast forward through this bit. I thought it was great at the time".

As everyone does, he has funny stories about Sean Connery:

  • He was having trouble finding work after Bond, probably because he was too expensive. He took a reduction for this film, but that was still about 20% of the budget.
  • He stayed at Boorman's house during filming and paid modest rent. "A good tenant", said the director.
  • "How much would my driver be paid? I'll drive myself and split the money with you."
  • He did not need bodyguards. Once when they were mobbed at a ballgame Connery just raised his arms and said something like "Stand ye back!" Instant compliance.
  • "Use a different accent? If I didn't talk like me no one would know who I was."
  • A difficult day-long makeup sequence had to be done three times and Connery was enraged. An assistant director who spoiled a can of film fled the country.

(2) Nick Redman and two SF film buffs comment on Boorman's commentary and fondly go over the good, the bad and ugly of the whole thing.

Redman points out that this is the science fiction of ideas, requiring some effort by the audience. Boorman was a big reader of classic SF and his plot can be placed within that genre. Redman confirms a Frank Herbert connection.



-Bill

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Old 05-18-2015, 04:38 AM
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Excellent Frank......Thats good to hear!!

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Old 05-20-2015, 12:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Odd Man Out (1947), produced and directed by Carol Reed.

Quote:
Close the door when I'm gone and forget me.
It's Johnny McQueen's last day. Might as well say it. The first time I saw this I knew the ending within the first five minutes. Such is the doom of his story. His girl is Kathleen and we are sadly comforted by her fierce, unyielding love. At the end, He: "Is it far?" She: "It's a long way, Johnny, but I'm coming with you. We're going away together."

This is not a political story, so Johnny's Organization is not called the IRA. It's not about a specific historical moment, so the city is not Belfast. It's about common cruelty and unexpected kindness, the needs of the soul and the weakness of the body, and leaving life behind. And guilt -- Johnny has murdered. And love -- which he doesn't realize until life is slipping away.

I'm glad I don't have to choose between this one and The Third Man (1949). Carol Reed was a blazing talent of the late 1940s. Still to review: The Fallen Idol (1948).

I watched it twice just before writing this review and I still don't know how he does it: an element of unexpected humor rises through the tragedy. It's not the dark ironic humor of many thrillers, but something I'm not even able to define:

  • Johnny plans to leave town after the mill robbery. Kathleen: "Can I come visit you?" Johnny: "Of course. Bring Granny."
  • One urchin in a large crowd of begging kids: "If you haven't got a penny, give us a cigarette."
  • The icicle on the junkyard angel's stone nose.

For all the realism of buildings and lovely rubble, the texture of the woolens and looming shadows, it also has something of a stage-like presentation, possibly just because of the beauty of the composition and the glimpses of life we see in the backgrounds.

James Mason gives his all. Dying, hallucinating, he suddenly stands and delivers a dignified verse from 1 Corinthians. A long string of drool drips from his mouth...

People complain about Robert Newton's mad painter as being over the top, but I think that helps with the stage presentation. Both his ravings and the efforts of Father Tom, the scruffy good-hearted priest, suggest the primacy of the needs of the soul over the failures of the body.

Beautiful score. William Alwyn is rising to my top shelf for movie music these days. "Johnny's Theme" sounds American to me, although a music scholar in an extra describes it as Celtic. Big overlap, of course. As the tragedy proceeds it reveals a Biblical cadence, of Christ bearing the cross to Calvary.

Excuse me if I've gushed a bit about this one. I liked it much better than I remembered.

Criterion Blu-ray, a rather fine transfer.



-Bill
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Old 05-20-2015, 02:50 PM
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Humbly suggest you encapsulate some of your review in {SPOILER} tags, for those who've never seen it. Like Fallen Idol (which I've seen, have a copy of), the first viewing is a very special treat for Carol Reed aficionados.

Can't wait to see the new BD. Even in a cruddy DVD it's a gorgeous film, deceptively gritty.

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Old 05-20-2015, 05:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Humbly suggest you encapsulate some of your review in {SPOILER} tags, for those who've never seen it.
In Citizen Kane: "Rosebud" is the name of his sled.

-Bill
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Old 05-20-2015, 09:34 PM
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LOL ... The Maltese falcon is just lead. The Titanic sinks like it was made of lead. They shoot Old Yeller, the Black wins the race with a hurt leg. Lawrence captures Damascus, Ilsa goes with Victor Lazlo. Dorothy wakes up in her own room, it was all a dream. Brody shoots the shark, Hooper goes away with the aliens. E.T. goes home. And Dave Bowman gets sent back to Earth as a Star Child, some guys are just lucky I guess.

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Old 05-21-2015, 03:49 PM
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Ah man,I loved The Maltese falcon!! (One of his BEST I thought)
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Old 05-25-2015, 08:49 AM - Thread Starter
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The Dam Busters (1955), directed by Michael Anderson.

Based on a true story: the development and use of bouncing bombs that skimmed across the water to breach hydroelectric dams on the Ruhr River. It was -- astonishingly -- a successful mission, although with heavy losses for the air crews.

Largely a tale of two men: the boffin who conceives, designs and builds the bomb, and the Wing Commander who trains and leads the crews on the mission.

Almost a documentary in the first half, it builds to intense excitement. The attack on the Deathstar in Star Wars (1977) is a quote of the bombing runs on the dams.

It is an old-style war film. All stout fellows, eager to get to the mission, without second thoughts. The regrets come afterward when they count the losses.

WW2 was rich with these techno-adventures. Both Churchill and Hitler were enthusiastic for super-weapons of the future. In movies, the scientist-soldier would evolve into Quatermass characters after the war.

The wikipedia article has notes on the rather good historical accuracy. Lots of real aircraft and gear in use. Some of the bad special effects were required because the unmodified film footage was still classified!

Early glimpses of Robert Shaw and Patrick McGoohan.

The commander's dog was a black Labrador called "Nigger". The name causes heads to explode these days, but the dog was loved by everyone on base and was apparently a common name for black dogs in England then. The dog was hit by a car and killed just before the mission: his funeral became a bit of juju for their success.

At one time Peter Jackson was interested in a remake; I don't know if that is still on.

Finally: those going on a mission can have bacon and eggs. All others get toast and jam.



-Bill
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Old 05-29-2015, 10:44 AM - Thread Starter
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The Whip and the Body (1963), directed by Mario Bava.

Aka Night is the Phantom, The Way of the Body, Son of Satan and What!

A wicked son returns to the castle, causing much distress for the family and servants. They hold him responsible for a suicide, but now his chief menace seems to be sneaking up on people and startling them. He only flogs the women who enjoy it. His sister-in-law both fears and desires him, loves and hates him and what he does.

What if he were suddenly dead, but kept leaving muddy footprints in her bedroom and visiting her with his riding crop at night? Mysterious furtive sounds from the tomb: that's never good.

The plot doesn't hang together very well: it's hard to separate hallucinations from actual supernatural events. The more important elements are (1) the gothic mood with waves crashing on the beach and wind howling around the castle, and (2) the strong S&M content, the combination and contrast of pain and pleasure, fear and desire.

Oddly enough it's also a love story, with the lush romantic score accentuating that aspect. You can hear it in later Badalamenti music.

The whipping scenes were extreme for that year and caused legal challenges in Italy and England. Variously censored versions of the film circulated for years. Lovely Daliah Lavi is perversely, masochistically sensuous, giving it her all.

It's odd how influences bounce between countries. The Corman Poe cycle was much influenced by Bava's Black Sunday (1960). For this film the producers told Bava they wanted something like Corman's Pit and the Pendulum (1961) and his Poe films and the Richard Matheson screenplays were important influences in Italian horror thereafter.

Bava wanted to be a painter and told his actors "I'm mainly a photographer. Trust me and I'll make you look beautiful". The lighting attempts to color the dark shadows, often giving a blue tinge to the blacks.

Bad wigs.

Available on Blu-ray from Kino. Poor image quality. It doesn't help that so much of the film is very dark. Low-contrast night scenes produce large blocky artifacts. I can't tell if the tinted blacks are from the original film, or if some color grading was done for the transfer.

It has both Italian and English audio tracks, neither featuring Christopher Lee's voice. This irked him and in future contracts he stipulated that he be allowed to contribute his own English dubs.

A Bava scholar provides an informative and appreciative commentary track.



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Old Yesterday, 12:15 PM
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In Citizen Kane: "Rosebud" is the name of his sled.

-Bill
Quite often considered the truth... yet far from it. The sled is a parable for someone much more primal and sexual.

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Quite often considered the truth... yet far from it. The sled is a parable for someone much more primal and sexual.
IIRC, there's a considerable amount of informed dissent on that particular interpretation.
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Old Yesterday, 01:07 PM
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Marion davies vagina is probably as close as william randolf hurst ever got to a true rosebud.





Wells didnt choose a missionary style "laydown" snow sled arbitrarily...

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Old Yesterday, 09:10 PM
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Wells didnt choose a missionary style "laydown" snow sled arbitrarily...

I always used to sit on those kinds of sleds with my feet anchored in the steerage controls, grip the frame on each side of my butt and off I'd go!

Marion would likely have been as confused and unsatisfied by that option as I...



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The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), directed by Peter Yates.

Eddie has done a lot things, but right now he makes a small living as a middleman selling stolen guns to a crew of busy bank-robbers. Eddie is facing jail time, which is a problem: he has a wife and kids and can't do any more time. What to trade? Being a snitch is dangerous. Even worse is when your "friends" set you up to take a fall.

It's a small film with that 70s filmed-in-the-streets look. All locations, no studio or sets. The expert bank jobs are suitably tense but drama seems drained from the rest, making it more like real life.

The period tough talk among the younger people is a problem. Are you digging that, man?

Robert Mitchum was in the movies for 55 years. He was nominated for an Academy Award exactly once, for "Best Actor in a Supporting Role" in 1946. He didn't get it.

David Grusin provides a light funky score.

Criterion Blu-ray with a commentary track by the director. He says that of his own films this is among his three favorites, along with The Dresser and Breaking Away.

Among his mentors he mentions Tony Richardson, J. Lee Thompson, and Guy Hamilton.

Before accepting the role, Mitchum told him "You're not really going to film this, are you? The script is too good. You'll have to make it less realistic to satisfy the studio".

Mitchum also got Yates drunk to see how well he kept his head. Then accepted the job.

For technical advisers they had both former FBI agents and local "friends".



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Old Today, 07:16 PM
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Review older films here: 1979 and earlier

Yates is also responsible for a little film called BULLITT, known for low-key suspense and a car chase.

I watched the Criterion dvd of COYLE recently, looks great.


Quote:
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Quite often considered the truth... yet far from it. The sled is a parable for someone much more primal and sexual.


Quote:
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IIRC, there's a considerable amount of informed dissent on that particular interpretation.

This depends upon your interpretation of the film. On his deathbed, he uses a sexual pet name? Pfft. "Rosebud, dead or alive.... It'll probably turn out to be a very simple thing." It does, something he left behind at his childhood home, a remnant of his life before money changes everything for the boy. There's s shot of it, abandoned and being buried in the snow. Later in the film, when he meets Susan Alexander he mentions he was in a warehouse, going through childhood things, "sort of a sentimental journey." Btw the snow globe in his hand when he dies is on Alexander's dressing table that first night when he's showing her he can wiggle both his ears. (Yes it's the thing he takes from her room when she leaves him, just as his mother sent him away.)

Yes it was a jab at Hearst, but in the film its much more.....

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