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Discussion Starter · #261 · (Edited)
Kelly's Heroes (1970), directed by Brian G. Hutton.

Comic WW2 caper film on an ambitious scale. Clint Eastwood is the star but it is an ensemble picture. Telly Savalas tends to dominate the scenes he's in. He's the only ethical character, doing it for the other men rather than the money. Extra comedy from Don Rickles ("Crapgame", a hustler) and Donald Sutherland ("Oddball", a hippy tank commander who must have a time machine somewhere).

It's mostly fun. They mow down armies of Germans in largely bloodless mayhem. The shouting and comic mugging was funnier then than now; time is hard on comedy. The whole tone is vastly cynical, but this was the Vietnam era and Hollywood respect for the military had been declining for a long time. There was a long period on TV and in the movies where officers were nothing but buffoons and no plot was too ridiculous.

Best to skip over technical problems, like the difference between mortars and artillery field pieces. Also: movie makers seem to have no idea how much gold weighs. The actors sling it around as if it were brass plated props.

There is one segment that stands out: the approach to and entry of the town with the Nazi gold before the big battle is nicely tense, well staged and photographed.

The "Burning Bridges" theme song, a bit of bubble-gum sung by the Mike Curb Congregation, is a woefully unfortunate choice. I remember it had some radio play. Other than that the Lalo Schifrin score is fine, particularly in the above mentioned pre-battle sequence.

Available on Blu-ray.



-Bill
 

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Discussion Starter · #262 ·
 Best of the Badmen (1951) , directed by William D. Russell.


Interesting setup for a western: after the end of the Civil War, cavalry major Robert Ryan arranges the surrender of a gang of die hard bushwhackers (with Bruce Cabot and Walter Brennan), including (of course) the James and Younger brothers. His sensible idea is to give them the Oath and let them go, but this crosses some carpetbaggers (Robert Preston and Barton MacLane) who would rather have the bounty money. Ryan is sentenced to hang on a trumped up murder charge. Claire Trevor springs him from jail (why? it's complicated) but then he is an outlaw also.


After that it is more of a standard action/romance western but they pack a lot into 83 minutes. Definitely "classic" rather than "modern" tone. Hard charging score by Paul Sawtell


Warner Archive title, available for rent from http://www.classicflix.com/ . The Technicolor has not entirely faded out yet, but the image is very soft in spots.

Sensitive content, not recommended for those under 18 Show Content



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During WW II Alfred Hitchcock returned to England in 1943-44 and made two short story films for the British government. One was Bon Voyage and the other was Aventure Malgache .


Both were made entirely in spoken French utilizing Free French actors and production staff who had fled to England before the Germans overran France in 1939.

Amazon has the best report about them.

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While Alfred Hitchcock made several well-known wartime films with intrigue and ambiguous love themes at their core (Saboteur, Notorious), he also made a pair of far less familiar works: two French-language propaganda shorts, Bon Voyage and Aventure Malgache. The two rarely screened works were actually official productions of the British Ministry of Information, designed as tributes to the Resistance movement against the occupying Nazi forces in France. Hitchcock was paid a token fee, but they were really a labor of love for him. Despite that, Bon Voyage received limited play in France and Aventure Malgache was shelved completely by the Brits. Neither movie played in America. It's easy to see why: Bon Voyage, the better of the two, concerns a Royal Air Force gunner whose escape from a German prison is aided by a fellow fugitive he has only just met, and by a succession of Resistance workers who help him get out of the country. Interrogated back in London, the officer discovers he was actually an unwitting dupe whose flight helped the Germans locate and destroy key links in the underground organization.


Equally bleak, Aventure Malgache is a complex, swiftly paced remembrance by a French actor about the duplicity of Vichy collaborators in French-controlled Madagascar. The narrator, making himself up to play his own life in a staged version of past events he describes, was imprisoned by the Vichy government for his Resistance tactics. In essence, the film is about dissension among the French people when it comes to dealing with the Germans. It's a little hard to imagine why Hitchcock would have thought these two morally shaded stories would bolster freedom-fighting spirits. But they each have elements that resonate deliciously with his career-long pet obsessions and themes. Bon Voyage, particularly, is of interest as the tale of an innocent man who unwittingly crosses the line into culpability for evil, a moral murkiness that is key to many Hitchcock films from The Lodger through Frenzy. As a piece of the legacy of one of the most important filmmakers in history, this rare double bill is well worth the visit. --Tom Keogh.

Netflix has the DVD © 1993 by the British Film Institute released in 1998 in this country by Image Entertainment with mandated subtitles.


They are unique in some ways. Hitchcock never appears in them, a trade mark of his other pictures - suggesting that they were contract propaganda films and/or training films not under his complete control. Some reviews suggest they were never screened in France or anywhere else. The comments on Netflix suggest that they were "inflammatory" and put in the vaults for 50 years. I think that's unlikely.


More likely is that by mid-1944 they were OBE = Overcome By Events. The Allies invaded France on June 6, 1944 and Paris was liberated in August 1944. The need for films to train or inform Free French nationals about the tricks the Nazi's might employ to combat the work of the French underground fell off sharply.


Also likely is that Hitchcock made these two films as a contribution to the war effort that might have justified his return to England. There was no "tourism" in 1943-44 and Hitchcock was already well established in Hollywood. Directing these two films may have been the price of his "ticket" home for a visit.


Finally, these are not great Hitchcock films. More like curiosities from the distant past. Thanks to Netflix, we can rent them and judge for ourselves.


B&W. OAR 4x3. Mono audio.




PS. I found more information on the two films here. It confirms what I suspected, that "... Hitchcock managed to shoot the two films during a four-week period from mid-January to mid-February of 1944." Also it suggests that the British government wanted to keep a lid on Free French initiatives by assigning an English director to make these two French films. Coming up with a "famous" English director may have been an effort to placate French interests. Then with the June 6, 1944 "D-Day," the need for the pictures suddenly fell to the floor and they were quietly shelved.


Dana
 

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Tonight I watched the 1974 film The Odessa File , based on a 1972 book of the same name written by Frederick Forsyth.

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Plot summary


The plot opens on November 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Peter Miller, a young German reporter, happens to see an ambulance on a highway. He chases the ambulance and discovers it is en route to pick up the body of an elderly Jewish Holocaust survivor who had committed suicide, leaving behind no family. The reporter obtains the diary of the man, which contains information on his life in the World War II camps, and the names of members of the SS who ran the camp. Miller is startled to read in it that an SS officer, Eduard Roschmann, had in anger fatally shot a Wehrmacht officer whose description and rare military decorations matched those of Miller's father, who was killed in the war. Now determined to hunt Roschmann down and get revenge, Miller dares to go undercover to join and infiltrate the ODESSA and find Roschmann.

The film starred Jon Voight, Maximilian Schell and his sister Maria Schell in a small role. Shell himself is on screen only for a short period at the beginning and end of the film.


Forsyth had the benefit of being informed by Simon Wiesenthal about the ratlines in general - systems of escape routes for Nazis and other fascists fleeing Europe at the end of World War II - and ODESSA and the Gehlen Org in particular. They really existed.

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The Italian and Argentinian ratlines have only been confirmed relatively recently, mainly due to research in recently declassified archives. Until the work of Aarons and Loftus, and of Uki Goñi (2002), a common view was that ex-Nazis themselves, organised in secret networks, ran the escape routes alone. The most famous such network is ODESSA (Organisation of former SS members), founded in 1946 according to Simon Wiesenthal, which included SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny and Sturmbannführer Alfred Naujocks and in Argentina, Rodolfo Freude. Alois Brunner, former commandant of Drancy internment camp near Paris, escaped to Rome, then Syria, by ODESSA. (Brunner is thought to be the highest-ranking Nazi war criminal still alive as of 2007). Persons claiming to represent ODESSA claimed responsibility in a note for the 9 July 1979 car bombing in France aimed at Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld. [citation needed] According to Paul Manning (1980), "eventually, over 10,000 former German military made it to South America along escape routes ODESSA and Deutsche Hilfsverein ..."[27]


Simon Wiesenthal, who advised Frederick Forsyth on the novel/filmscript The Odessa File which brought the name to public attention, also names other Nazi escape organisations such as Spinne ("Spider") and Sechsgestirn ("Constellation of Six"). Wiesenthal describes these immediately after the war as Nazi cells based in areas of Austria where many Nazis had retreated and gone to ground. Wiesenthal claimed that the ODESSA network shepherded escapees to the Catholic ratlines in Rome (although he mentions only Hudal, not Draganović); or through a second route through France and into Francoist Spain.


ODESSA was supported by the Gehlen Org, which employed many former Nazi party members, and was headed by Reinhard Gehlen, a former Nazi intelligence officer employed post-war by the CIA. The Gehlen Org became the nucleus of the BND German intelligence agency, directed by Reinhard Gehlen from its 1956 creation until 1968.

The character of SS Captain Eduard Roschmann , the Butcher of Riga, was real.

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Although the movie was based rather loosely on the book, it brought about the exposure of the real-life "Butcher of Riga", Eduard Roschmann. After the movie was released to the public, he was arrested by the Argentinian police, skipped bail, and fled to Asunción, Paraguay where he died on 10 August 1977.

Knowing that the story was based on facts, I enjoyed the film all the more. It didn't hurt that I was stationed in the US Army in West Germany for 18 months in 1956 and 1957. Although the film is of a later date, it was shot on location in Germany and the scenes looked very reminiscent and authentic to me.

Jon Voight in the lead role is on screen almost the entire film and carries it well. (I had no idea he was the father of actress Angelina Jolie in real life.)


A bit of trivia. Andrew Lloyd Webber composed the background music.


This film was directed by UK director Ronald Neame who died earlier this month (June 16, 2010) at age 99. Neame had a very long and successful career in motion pictures, starting out as an assistant cinematographer for a very young Alfred Hitchcock in 1929 on the first British talkie. His last film may have been made in 1990. Not too long ago I watched his delightful 1980 film Hopscotch with Walter Matthau. He directed Matthau in the 1981 film First Monday in October, too. May he RIP.


OAR 2.35:1. Mono audio. Color. (Some scenes were shot in B&W for dramatic effect.)




Dana
 

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Discussion Starter · #266 · (Edited)
Bend of the River (1952), directed by Anthony Mann.

Two men with dark secret pasts as Missouri border raiders: one (Arthur Kennedy) knows that nothing ever changes, that he will never be forgiven and will always be at war with society. The other (James Stewart) works for his redemption and hopes that eventually he can cross back over and be accepted by decent people. Who wins when they are on opposite sides?

This is the first time Anthony Mann has seemed more optimistic to me than John Ford. In Ford's westerns the hard men have to fade away once the west is settled. Here Stewart leads settlers to Oregon, thinks about staying with them, marrying and trying farming (or ranching!)

After an encounter with hostile Indians (who instantly drop dead when you throw a knife at them) things are pleasant and they reach a too-friendly town and are taken up river on a great stern-wheel steamboat. When winter supplies fail to arrive they have to go back and find out why the town is no longer so friendly. It's gold fever and the miners are hungry too. But a hard man will find a way.

The great cast includes Julie Adams (romantic interest), Rock Hudson (a gambler who is sometimes useful, sometimes not), Stepin Fetchit (ethnic/racial humor, he's getting gray), Harry Morgan, Jack Lambert, Royal Dano (villains), and Frances Bavier (Aunt Bea!).

The good guys really massacre the bad at one point.

I don't usually trouble about logical and historical flaws in movies, but:


  • If I were sitting on a horse with a rope around my neck, I don't think I would want to be rescued by a man riding up and firing a rifle. (But what do you have to lose?)
  • The signage in the town looks Art Nouveau to me. Bit early for that.
  • The town boss writes with a quill pen. Steel pens had been common for a long time.
  • How did they get that monster steamboat from the Mississippi to Oregon? I don't think it could go around the Horn or be carried across Central America.

Harry Morgan: The Law won't let you get away with this.

James Stewart: (pause, sideways glint) What Law?


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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmcclain /forum/post/18835018


[*]How did they get that monster steamboat from the Mississippi to Oregon? I don't think it could go around the Horn or be carried across Central America.[/list]

Typically they were hauled in pieces. But you can build a flat-bottom steamer anywhere, all you need are the boiler and machinery to drive it. There's a terrific story and documentary about a steamer being hauled over a mountain in the amazon, the title escapes me.
 

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Originally Posted by rdgrimes /forum/post/18835475


Typically they were hauled in pieces. But you can build a flat-bottom steamer anywhere, all you need are the boiler and machinery to drive it. There's a terrific story and documentary about a steamer being hauled over a mountain in the amazon, the title escapes me.

The film you have in mind is the 1982 film Fitzcarraldo starring Klaus Kinski and Claudia Cardinale.

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It portrays would-be rubber baron Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, an Irishman known as Fitzcarraldo in Peru, who has to pull a steamship over a steep hill in order to access a rich rubber territory. The film is derived from the real-life story of Peruvian rubber baron Carlos Fitzcarrald.

Dana
 

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Discussion Starter · #270 ·

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Originally Posted by rdgrimes /forum/post/18835475


Typically they were hauled in pieces.

You would have to see this thing.

Quote:
But you can build a flat-bottom steamer anywhere

Part of the story was that it came from the Mississippi River.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmcclain /forum/post/18835588


You would have to see this thing.




Part of the story was that it came from the Mississippi River.


-Bill

Apparently it wasn't a BIG part of the story.
 

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I recorded this last night on my DVR from TCM and will watch it soon. I saw it 30 some odd years ago on an independent station one weekend afternoon. I remember saying this guy must have seriously gotten into the medicine cabinet (Timothy Leary's
).


It is a fantasy written by Dr. Suess himself, both story and screenplay. Bart dozes off and finds himself enslaved by a madman piano teacher along with 499 other boys who are forced to play a gigantic piano. (hence, the 5000 fingers). Bart tries to save himself and his mother who is Dr. T's hypnotic assistant.


A rather mind boggling wild movie. Dr. Suess himself regarded the film as a debacle. At its premeire patrons walked out. Has developed a cult following and in recent years is viewed more kindly.
 

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Originally Posted by drbonbi /forum/post/18735237


I make it a point not to watch John Wayne movies. A real phony.)


Dana

Wow ! Even if his contribution came through later and added to our love of country ,as it did for many in my generation ,that is still a good thing.


Not to mention he made some good films which is your loss.


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Wow, since we are on the subject of John Wayne Movies, I'll comment to my personal favorite. Its making the rounds on HDNET now.


Wil Anderson (John Wayne) has to drive a herd of cattle. Times being tough and good help hard to find. Mr Anderson hires a bunch of school boys to help him drive his heard of cattle. Along the way they grow up quite rapidly from breaking into the liquor cabinet to having to steal back the heard from a group of outlaws Mr. Anderson turned down for the job. Mr. Anderson is shot and killed by those outlaws (led by Bruce Dern). With help from Mr. Nightlinger (played brilliantly by Roscoe Lee Brown) the boys are able to recoup the herd and drive it to its destination. This may be one of the only John Wayne movies where his character is killed. A really good movie.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by glangford /forum/post/18839753


Wow, since we are on the subject of John Wayne Movies, I'll comment to my personal favorite. Its making the rounds on HDNET now.

........... This may be one of the only John Wayne movies where his character is killed. A really good movie.

Not the only one, but one of the best and one of my favorites. The Shootist is one of the best westerns ever made IMHO, right up there with Liberty Valance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #277 · (Edited)
Walkabout (1971), directed and photographed by Nicolas Roeg.

A film fan favorite. Gorgeous photography, fine natural performances by the three young leads, and a story that sticks in the mind and won't leave. It's been on my Blu-ray "must have" list from day one.

After their father becomes murderously insane, the Girl and her young brother, still in their school uniforms, are lost in the Australian outback. They have no survival skills and after a few days are in bad shape. A nice young man on his walkabout picks them up and takes care of them. He is entirely at home in the wilderness.

Although the Black Boy is considerate of the Girl, sexual tensions will inevitably build between young people. He courts her according to his customs but she isn't having it. Maybe it's race, maybe it's because he seems alien, but most likely it is just too soon. It's a tragedy.

In later years she remembers that time differently, imagining scenes of perfect innocence that never happened. She was in Paradise and left it. I think everyone has had the experience of not knowing when you are happy until long afterwards when there is no going back. The closing epigram is from A Shropshire Lad:

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.
The film is composed of striking contrasts. Wide vistas of desert passing through canyons that look like ruined cities, down to grains of sand and the ants and maggots that devour all dead things. Despite it's loveliness and themes of purity it is a lizard-eat-lizard world, red in tooth and claw. Much hunting and killing and butchering, none of it faked.

The contrasts are sometimes heavy handed. Roeg hits the noble savage vs corrupt white civilization theme again and again.

A famous sequence (sometimes censored) has Jenny Agutter, age 16, swimming naked in a rocky pool. Any concupiscent interest this would have is tempered when the director intercuts animals being speared and hacked to pieces. This must symbolize...something.

Other segments intrude: a scientific expedition and a plaster works settlement. I'm not sure why we have them other than to contrast their lascivious vulgarity with the simple life of our young people.

Lush John Barry score, with strangely appropriate children's choir and electronic effects. And lots of didgeridoo.

Criterion Blu-ray, which replaces their 4:3 letterboxed DVD. There appears to be a problem with the disc on some players. It works on the OPPO players.

Now I want Picnic at Hanging Rock.



-Bill
 

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The boy on walkabout is the guy who played the aborigini in the first Crocidile Dundee movie.
 

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Discussion Starter · #279 ·
 Easy Virtue (1928) , directed by Alfred Hitchcock.


From the play by Noel Coward. Remade with more comedy in 2008 with Jessica Biehl.


It opens with a scandalous divorce trial. Larita's drunken husband has objected to the attentions a painter pays to her. The painter commits suicide. After the divorce she flees to the Riviera and marries a younger man who takes her home to a big house in the country. His mother is less than pleased and when they discover her history -- hoo, boy. She makes a flashy exit from the family but the only way to grant a divorce is with another scandalous trial. Without no-fault, she has to pretend to be congenitally adulterous. No happy ending for her.


It's pretty stiff and uninvolving. Some interesting Riviera locations and painterly-like compositions, but little else. In one good bit we see the progress of the marriage proposal through the excited responses of an eavesdropping telephone operator.




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Discussion Starter · #280 ·
 Foxy Brown (1974) , written and directed by Jack Hill.


Pam Grier returns in a film similar to Coffy (abundant nudity, violence, pretty lame humor), but slower starting, less funny, and more by the numbers. The final 25 minutes are an intermittent blood bath. It was originally intended to be a sequel, but the sales department at American International decided that sequels weren't selling.


The DVD has a good commentary track by the director. He agrees that Coffy was the better film. This time he had a smaller effective budget because he and Pam Grier were making more money. A lot of the actors were stunt men who worked for less. The stunt women in the lesbian bar fight had a good time with it.


The modeling agency/prostitution ring/dope importing thugs are particularly pathetic this time. I remember Peter Brown as one of the rangers from the Laredo series. Here his man-parts are cut off by Foxy's black-power community watch allies. The director says he had to put in extra violence in a trade with the studio so they would allow him a nonviolent subplot. He suggested this scene as a joke and they went for it.


Also with Antonio Fargas (Huggy Bear!). Pam Grier contributed some of her own bits: picking up the razor blade with her tongue and making a weapon from wire coat hangers.


Huge building sign in the background of an early scene: "Leather Products: HOLSTERS".


The director stresses how important it is for writers and directors to see films in a variety of theaters and neighborhoods. Otherwise you don't know how the audiences are really responding. He has studio stories about being a director for hire without creative rights in low-budget genre films: how one actress got a part because the execs wanted her husband for another film, how the film editor was somebody's son-in-law. The only thing AIP liked about his work was that he brought the picture in one day early: 17 days of filming. They thought he was a genius for that.


Funky score by Willie Hutch. Jack Hill said that because of time constraints other people handled locations, costumes and music, things he would ordinarily do. Quentin Tarantino told him that Jackie Brown was named for him and this film.




-Bill
 
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