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post #1591 of 1600 Old 08-18-2015, 07:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ChromeJob View Post
Tin Men had musical interludes by a band that later had a hit with "She Drives Me Crazy," The Fine Young Cannibals.
Coincidence: I just saw Roland Gift in Scandal (1989), recently reviewed in the 1980s thread.

-Bill

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post #1592 of 1600 Old 08-18-2015, 01:59 PM
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Oh yeah,that's right!

“Toby! I got me a regular Ben-Hur down here...”
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post #1593 of 1600 Old 08-20-2015, 03:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Dodge City (1939), directed by Michael Curtiz.

A cattleman (big hat, lots of cattle) and his pals don't want to take law jobs cleaning up Dodge, but when a little boy is killed-- that's just too much. The villains murdered the boy's father earlier; this is actually a bit brutal for an action/adventure western of this type. It has rich detail, but still more fantasy gloss than the more realistic titles from John Ford, Raoul Walsh or Howard Hawks.

Errol Flynn is -- again -- in pursuit of Olivia de Havilland, who hammers him unmercifully during the first three-quarters of the film. As usual, they have good chemistry.

Here is a photo of the two actors (holding hands!) during a tour. I imagine she is saying something like "I care about you but you need to dial down the crazy...":



Ann Sheridan wears dance-hall outfits and sings, but doesn't have much else to do.

The ending is a bit abrupt: the bad guys should have ridden out of rifle range.

Misc notes:

  • In this story the good guys are ex-Confederate and the villains Union.
  • A pre-Casablanca (1942) moment: the battling saloon singers, the selections this time being "Marching Through Georgia" vs "Dixie".
  • The huge ensuing bar fight used every stuntman in town.
  • I love the helpful townspeople: they let the killers run wild but form an instant lynch mob when one is in jail.
  • I recall that when drinking with Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams ("Tex") you were at risk of real bar fights.
  • Trivia: the country/rock band Pure Prairie League is named for the fictional temperance organization in this film.

Max Steiner score.

Available on Blu-ray. The image is often quite good, and the whole disc a great upgrade over the DVD, where the Technicolor registration was so off you could see prismatic fringes on every edge.



-Bill
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post #1594 of 1600 Old 08-21-2015, 06:51 AM
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Huh, I've no memory of this western. Thanks for the review, Bill. Ordered.
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post #1595 of 1600 Old Yesterday, 04:10 AM - Thread Starter
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House On Haunted Hill (1959), produced and directed by William Castle.

Quote:
[Vincent Price narrates...]

I am Frederick Loren, and I have rented the house on Haunted Hill tonight so that my wife can give a party. A haunted house party.

She's so amusing.
An eccentric millionaire invites five strangers to spend a night locked inside a haunted house, for which each will receive $10,000. He has a troublesome wife: might this night be a cover for a murder plot? Might there be more than one such plot?

Party favors include loaded .45 automatic pistols. They keep a vat of acid in the basement. What could go wrong?

I remember this as trash, but seeing it again I liked it better. Lighting and camera work are rather good and the cast put a lot into it. Vincent Price and Carol Ohmart as the warring couple are a joy to watch, and drunken terrified Elisha Cook Jr would steal the movie if Price weren't in it.

Many of the jump scares and ghostly effects have no explanation. William Castle was a promoter and he designed the picture as a funhouse scream-fest, nothing more. This is the one with "Emergo", a theater gimmick where an inflated skeleton floated above the audience and then was reeled back in, matching the action on the screen.

Influences: Castle got into horror films after seeing Diabolique (1955). I've heard many times that Hitchcock was inspired by the low-budget filmmaking examples of Castle and Corman to try it himself, culminating in Psycho (1960). (I can't find that in my current Hitchcock references, but maybe in others?)

Available on Blu-ray with a fact-filled commentary track.

This completes Shout Factory's Vincent Price Collection vol 2. Earlier titles were:


I didn't review Return of the Fly (1959) because I had nothing much to say about it, but it was a decent sequel with lovely black-and-white cinematography.



-Bill

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post #1596 of 1600 Old Yesterday, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post
House On Haunted Hill (1959), produced and directed by William Castle.

...Influences: Castle got into horror films after seeing Diabolique (1955). I've heard many times that Hitchcock was inspired by the low-budget filmmaking examples of Castle and Corman to try it himself, culminating in Psycho (1960). (I can't find that in my current Hitchcock references, but maybe in others?)

-Bill
I've only heard it from the Joe Stefano, screenwriter of PSYCHO, interview:

http://www.labyrinth.net.au/~muffin/...h_stefano.html
(about 2/3 of the way down the page)
Quote:
RA: Before leaving behind Psycho: I am interested in the time when you first became involved in the project, read the Bloch book, and realized that this was the film that Hitchcock wanted to make. At that stage of his career, he had just done North by Northwest, and although he always had an ironic side, in the fifties he was still a director of romances. What did you think when you realized that Hitchcock was interested in making this novel which even Peggy Robertson felt was a bit much?

JS: Everybody told him not to do it. Paramount didn't even want to own it. I thought it was interesting because it was kind of crappy but maybe there was some way that Hitchcock would make it differently. So I was kind of disappointed. In the first conference, he said, "Have you ever heard of American International, the film company? They are making very inexpensive movies and making a lot of money. I was wondering how it would be if we made one of those.'' I think he was using the royal "We'' at that point. He meant: let Hitchcock make a movie under a million dollars to see what happens. My agent, his face went grey. I don't know why I thought this could be a typical Hitchcock film. Because actually when you look over his work that I had seen, Psycho isn't typical at all.
But my memory tells me there is more to it than that elsewhere, perhaps in some bonus material interview on one of the PSYCHO dvds/Blu-rays, where Stefano says Hitchcock told him he wanted to see what a movie of that kind would do if a "good" director directed one. Which, unlike the above, suggests it wasn't all about the money for Hitchcock, but also about the challenge and to honestly see if he could generate as much or more screams than the current top practitioners of the ultra low-budget fright film genre. I believe it was where Stefano also relates an early discussion of the novel, gets to the part where Marion is killed off within the first few pages, Hitchcock looks delighted by the prospect of pulling the rug out from under the audience in that way and says with a smile, "We could get a star."
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post #1597 of 1600 Old Yesterday, 10:11 PM
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Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post
House On Haunted Hill (1959), produced and directed by William Castle.

Vincent Price and Carol Ohmart as the warring couple are a joy to watch, and drunken terrified Elisha Cook Jr would steal the movie if Price weren't in it.

Many of the jump scares and ghostly effects have no explanation...

-Bill
I wonder if Edward Albee happened to stumble into a NYC movie theater in 1959, ruminating over his next project, and was in any way inspired by the acerbic yet highly entertaining interchange between Price and Ohmart here. Although it was supposedly inspired by a real life couple known to Albee and other Manhattan socialites, I think much of the sniping and back biting between the married couple in this movie was very much in the mold of what the world saw 3 years later on stage in Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Even the basic set up is weirdly similar; the warring couple inviting people over to spend the night "partying", where the challenge, blatant and literal in "HOHH" but certainly strongly psychologically implied in "Woolf?", was essentially proposed for show on behalf of the hosts and, in the end, to see who among them could survive the evening.

Another thought; as primitive and low tech as the scares are in this movie, I'd put a modern audience's reaction to the grimacing old lady unexpectedly standing behind the damsel in distress in the cellar chamber and the hairy-gloved hand reach around at the door bit against 90% if not more of the recent Big Deal CGI effect "scares" ya' got!
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post #1598 of 1600 Old Today, 12:50 PM
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Another thought; as primitive and low tech as the scares are in this movie, I'd put a modern audience's reaction to the grimacing old lady unexpectedly standing behind the damsel in distress in the cellar chamber and the hairy-gloved hand reach around at the door bit against 90% if not more of the recent Big Deal CGI effect "scares" ya' got!
I saw this theatrically last year and the audience started out laughing (as they often do with older films) but as it moved into the story they got more caught up and, yes, there a few screams and jumps at those bits you mention.
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post #1599 of 1600 Old Today, 09:03 PM
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I saw this theatrically last year and the audience started out laughing (as they often do with older films) but as it moved into the story they got more caught up and, yes, there a few screams and jumps at those bits you mention.
Yes, almost without exception. I've had home theater screenings of HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959) with family members in their 20s and 30s where the guys noticeably flinch and the girls literally jump out of their seats and turn away during those moments. lol. Just like young women did in 1959 at my local theater. Then we'll all go to the latest zombie apocalypse or poltergeist/evil entity rips apart a mansion movie filled with the latest greatest high tech effects and, just like everyone else in the audience, the only jump scares you see out of anyone is from one of those ear bursting soundtrack effects no more imaginative than if someone sneaks up behind you and blasts an air horn in your ear. Comes and goes in an instant.

By the time one of those high tech effect entries reaches home theater, you could watch it with a fresh audience without so much as a ripple of noticeable reaction from anyone.

Seems to me the blame can be laid to a combination of the technology being too far removed from the physical human touch (an actual lady standing there, a real hand reaching around, neither being CGI'd effects floating in cyberspace) and a lack of understanding for how to set up and stage a scene in order to actually elicit an audience response. The jumps in HOHH were all due to Castle's understanding of exactly where the audience was emotionally the second before his camera captures the scary image, where to place the camera for maximum effect, how much stinger music or sound effects should accompany it without drowning out or replacing the screams he expected to get at that instant, so many things understood and lined up much better about audience psychology than they know or, frankly, seem to care about knowing today.

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post #1600 of 1600 Old Today, 09:47 PM
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The Wind and the Lion (1975), written and directed by John Milius.

"Pedecaris alive or Raisuli dead." -- TR.l
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Director of photography Billy Williams makes a cameo appearance at the opening of The Wind And The Lion, 1975. It’s a bit of an error, because his character, Sir Joseph, runs out of bullets with this shot in the edited film, but you can see he’s got a full load here. Surely this is an homage to the 1903 silent, The Great Train Robbery, in which Justus Barnes fires point blank into the camera.

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“I want respect. … And I'm going to send the Atlantic Squadron to Morocco to get that respect.” “That’s illegal.” “Now, why spoil the beauty of a thing with legality?”

The film’s director, John Milius, gets his own cameo as a one-eyed, one-armed arms merchant letting the Sultan of Morocco play with a new gatling gun. Milius, in addition to being a brilliant script doctor and filmmaker, was a lifelong military history buff, so this films is stuffed with some historical analogies (though much of the immediate story is contrived), and his battle sequences are exciting, tactically accurate, and are allegedly even shown in war colleges. In the final battle, watch for -- no kidding -- a cannon duel between opposing factions. A gunfight with really big guns. Many of the horse stunts were performed by Terry Leonard, who also played President Roosevelt’s (Brian Keith) sparring partner.



The fights, particularly the sword fights, were choreographed, performed, filmed, and edited with the precision of Japanese samurai films. Even the sounds are similar (Kurosawa’s sound effects editor used a sword cutting into frozen chicken wrapped in fabric, IIRC).

1975 was a banner year for Sean Connery. Following on Zardoz, he made this film with Milius (co-starring John Huston) and The Man Who Would Be King with Michael Caine, directed by Huston. Surely this was the year that put Connery back where he belonged. His performance here is both hammy, macho, whimsical, and nuanced. His signature on-screen charisma brings it all to the table and leaves no leftovers. Watch the fluttering of his turban when he tells Eden Pedecaris, “You’re in the Raisuli’s house, I don’t need guards. My eyes are with you wherever you go, and Allah is beside me, and no one can hide from Allah.”

Candice Bergen says in the 1975 featurette, “I think all women would like to be carried off by a benevolent captor. I always dreamed of being Maid Marian.”



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“See, young man, you’ve made this noble grizzly bear look like a hairy cow. Would you like to be portrayed as a hairy cow?”



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The film is stuffed with great character actors. Huston of course as John Hay, Brian Keith sinking his teeth into President Teddy Roosevelt, Geoffrey Lewis as the US diplomat in Tangier, Steve Jensen as the navy admiral, Steve Kanaly as a war-happy, young Marine officer, stunt coordinator plays Roosevelt’s hapless sparring partner.


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Vladek Sheybal, a stage actor originally from Poland, was urged by Sean Connery (whose then-girlfiend Diane Cilento had been directed on stage by Sheybal) to take a role in the second Bond film. He reluctantly did, and was one of the best of the Bond villains, Kronsteen. He appears here as the Bashaw, another great performance. Trivia: Sheybal was a member of the Polish underground in the war, twice captured and interred by the Third Reich, and twice escaped.

Milius is a student of great film, and this film has homages to a great many. There are bits of David Lean, Howard Hawks, Michael Curtiz throughout. The Wind and the Lion has more great set pieces in one film than many directors get into an entire career. Mrs. Pedecaris and Marine Corps rifle company walking through the small town to see the Raisuli is right out of the end of The Wild Bunch.



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The 1975 featurette on the DVD (and BD?) shows Milius carrying a revolver around during the shooting of the final battle. At one point, he’s twirling it like a gunslinger. For the benefit of the camera? or just because he’s an overgrown kid playing with bigger toys? You decide, seeing the documentary Milius may help you. It’s amazing how many great films of the late 60s, 70s, 80s, even 90s he’s had a hand in.

Speaking of career highlights, composer Jerry Goldsmith pulled out all the stops for this film. Having such a huge canvas with which to compose a big, historical epic score must’ve been a treat (like The Sand Pebbles). The entire soundtrack is available as a limited edition from La La Land Records. I remember seeing it in the theater (4.0 sound as far as I could tell), and the overture blasted out from all the speakers with incredible definition. It was amazing. There are countless great suites, e.g. when William is sleeping, and dreaming of the adventure he’s just had, ending with the Raisuli’s face almost superimposed on the boy’s, suggesting that this man’s impact on the young lad will forever effect who the boy grows up to be. For me, the score is never better when, finally freed, Raisuli throws down the rifle and battles his way through the village with his great sword. Listen to Goldsmith’s signature action music and climax when
Spoiler!
. Goldsmith leads the orchestra through his signature blend of percussion and brass, and finishes with the main theme. It’s an unforgettable moment, perfectly edited. … Connery was born to play bigger than life scenes like this, and Goldsmith has his back with the musical score.


Trivia: Huston exits, stage left, quoting Kipling, “The bear that walked like a man.” Huston was about to release his long-dreamt of adaptation of Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King, starring Connery and Michael Caine. .

The film is rather sneaky. It opens with a typical scene “mysterious foreigners are bad, look at how they are destroying Mrs. Pedecaris’ home, gleefully tearing up all the trappings of Western wealth.” But very quickly the film illustrates how the great Western powers (including the US) are trying to control and usurp the Muslim world, while the Muslims are acting (mostly) with honor and adherence to a traditional, moral code. Of course our kidnapping brigand is supposed to turn out to be a hero of sorts. At a time when the middle east and the Arab world was being viewed with suspicion, Milius’ film presents them taking the high ground. Milius’ script is full of some thoughtful and memorable dialog. I think in an interview Milius said he set out to make a big picture like David Lean’s later films, and for my money, he hit a home run.



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“Sometimes … you find your enemies are lot more admirable than your friends. You take the road to greatness,... you come to realize that the road traveled by great men is dark, and lonely, and lit only at intervals by other great men, and sometimes they’re your enemies. They’re the only true luxury you have. Yes, it’s a dark and difficult road, and I do not look down on anyone who has good sense not to take it.“


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In all, Wind and the Lion is an old-fashioned romantic adventure: the intelligent, erudite maiden stolen away by a sheik or something who opens her eyes to variety of the world and possibility of a love that crosses social boundaries; add in some political intrigue; some military action; view it all through eyes of an impressionable youngster (William); then pound it home with the classic story of great men who view each other with respect over great distances, each a worthy adversary for the other.

“You are like the wind, and I like the lion. You form the tempest, the sand stings my eyes, and the ground is parched. I roar in defiance, but you do not hear. But between us there is a difference. I, like the lion, must remain in my place, while you, like the wind, will never know yours.”

Bill’s review is here.

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