Like many of you I’m still in a semi-lockdown situation which means plenty of time hanging out with Brando the Wiener Dog, playing guitar, watching hockey and yes indeed watching more movies than I have in years. I mean with everything in lockdown I can’t go movie hunting and hitting up the trade shows for memorabilia so here I am in the movie room at Mike’s Take watching titles I’d forgot I even had in some cases.
Thought I’d go with a new look for the monthly reviews in 2021 and I’ve also committed myself to watching one silent film monthly so let’s get this show on the road with the all new …..
Ssshhhh …. The Silent Film Project.
It (1927) ….
Clara Bow was known as the “It” girl and she quickly captured my heart with those huge eyes and her spunky portrayal of a feisty gal working in a department store who dreams of being noticed by the bachelor/owner. Not knowing what to expect going in I found myself laughing it up with the on screen shenanigans in this 1920’s romcom. Again I loved how Miss Bow was a go getter and not a dainty female lead waiting to be swept off her feet. I was also reminded of how silent films were location shoots and done outdoors but once the early talkies came into being they were stage bound affairs. Then there was Gary Cooper’s brief appearance as a reporter prior to his becoming one of cinema’s all time greats. Lastly, Brando and I had a good chuckle at one of the dialogue cards ….. “I feel so low, old chap, that I could get on stilts and walk under a Dachshund.” Clara Bow proved a winner for the January edition of the Silent Film Project and one that’s easy to recommend.
Decade by decade….
**Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) Fay Wray meets Lionel Atwill in the original House of Wax from director Michael Curtiz.
King of Hockey (1936) Old time hockey with Wayne Morris and Dick Purcell.
**Central Airport (1933)
A solid William Wellman film and one of many he directed about aviation. Richard Barthelmess is fine in the lead role as is Sally Eilers but it’s John Wayne in a minor unbilled role that had me tuning in. In just a few years he’d headline a pair of Wellman aviation films himself, Island in the Sky and The High and the Mighty.
Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (1948) Burt Lancaster gets his hands dirty while trying to go straight thanks to the love of a good woman, Joan Fontaine.
**Out of the Past (1947)
Is this the greatest Noir ever made? I wouldn’t argue the point if that’s your opinion. Robert Mitchum proves why he’s the poster boy of the genre in this Jacques Tourneur film. “Build my gallows high Baby.”
**The Doolins of Oklahoma (1949) Above average Randolph Scott oater finds him on the wrong side of the law with Boot Hill lying in wait.
**Bride of the Monster (1956) having just watched Ed Wood this was an easy follow up.
**Macabre (1957) a lesser William castle effort with Jim Backus.
X – The Unknown (1956) A fine sci-fi entry from Hammer starring Dean Jagger.
**King Creole (1958) Celebrating the birthday of Elvis with one of his best.
**Anatomy of a Murder (1959) Easily one of if not the best film I watched all month with James Stewart taking on George C.Scott in the courtroom thanks to Otto Preminger’s classic.
**The H-Man (1958) Plenty of fun via Toho and director Inshiro Honda. Loved it.
**Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952) Lou Costello and Charles Laughton share the screen with hilarious results while Bud Abbott proves once again to be one hell of a straight man.
**Curse of the Undead (1959) A weak effort but a rare horror western with Michael Pate as a fanged gunman clad in black.
**Project Moonbase (1953) Foolish low budget fun with a couple of space travelers stranded on the moon. Adam and Eve anyone?
**The 7th Cavalry (1956) Randolph Scott has to clean up after Custer’s massacre. For my money a lesser Scott effort.
**The Big Heat (1953) Glenn Ford’s classic revenge flick is a pre-cursor to the 70’s cop films and a must see with Gloria Grahame and Lee Marvin arguing over the hot coffee.
Man In the Shadow (1957) Superb cast in what is essentially a B flick from Universal International led by Jeff Chandler and Orson Welles from director Jack Arnold. Nice to see it turn up on a new blu ray release from Kino Lorber.
**Black Sunday (1960) The definitive Mario Bava classic that turned Barbara Steele into a Scream Queen.
**Battle In Outer Space (1960) A sci-fi effort from Toho and the f/x of Eiji Tsuburaya.
**The Living Corpse (1967) One of a kind. Pakistan’s version of Dracula that is more a remake of Hammer’s 1958 classic than it is Bram Stoker’s novel. I just had to give this one a go. It even “borrows” the music from Hammer’s film at keys points in the story.
Johnny Cool (1963) A rare leading role for Henry Silva with Rat Pack connections.
**Midnight Lace (1960) Not quite a Doris Day Giallo but close. Someone is out to murder our beautiful leading lady and hubby Rex Harrison isn’t so sure. Might she be losing her mind?
**The Vampire Lovers (1970) Ingrid Pitt, Peter Cushing and Hammer. All you need to know.
Bamboo Gods and Iron Men (1974) Decent actioner of the blaxploitation genre and gotta love that title.
**Texas Detour (1978) A minor entry with Patrick Wayne running afoul of a small town sheriff played by R. G. Armstrong. Also joining in the fun are Cameron Mitchell and Anthony James.
**Angel Unchained (1970) Don Stroud in a Shane like role who comes to the rescue of some hipsters against town locals and a vicious motorcycle gang he was once a member of. Better than one might expect and even Tyne Daly takes part in an early role.
**The Day of the Dolphin (1973) Always a force on screen, George C. Scott, stars in this oddball thriller involving the training of dolphins that may result in a political assassination.
**Search and Destroy (1979) Popular grindhouse feature with Perry King and Don Stroud as ex-Vietnam pals who become the targets of a war time enemy in modern day Niagra Falls.
**Hell’s Bloody Devils (1970) Al Adamson mess as he strings footage from 1967’s The Fakers with some new biker stuff around aging Broderick Crawford and Scott Brady lifted from the earlier film.
**The Grand Duel (1972) Lee Van Cleef stars in this spaghetti western that for me is nowhere near as good as the film’s he made in the mid to late 60’s overseas. But his undeniable screen presence is still a major drawing card.
**An Eye For An Eye (1981) When Chuck Norris took on Christopher Lee.
**Cuba Crossing (1980) Like the cast but not the overall result. Stuart Whitman and Robert Vaughn headline.
**ffolkes (1980) I’ve always enjoyed this Roger Moore action tale that sees him looking to take down a terrorist played by Anthony Perkins for Queen and Country.
**1990 The Bronx Warriors (1982) Yeah it’s pretty bad but easy to see why it has a cult following and hey, at least it’s got Fred Williamson and Vic Morrow playing along.
**The Omega Syndrome (1986) 80’s action with Ken Wahl. Remember him?
**Screwballs (1983) Not quite Porky’s but us Canadians do love a good teen sex comedy where the boys are always trying to get just a little peek …. if you know what I mean.
**Loose Screws : Screwballs II (1985) More topless gals and the laughs are better making this one of those rare films in cinema history that are better than the original they sprang from.
Ed Wood (1994) always a fun revisit.
Lone Star (1996) I hadn’t seen this John Sayles film since it came out to great acclaim. I must say I enjoyed this revisit after being somewhat disappointed back at the time of it’s release. Age and maturity? Probably. Great cast led by Chris Cooper investigating a decades old murder that involved his father played in flashback by Matthew McConaughey and a vicious Sheriff played by Kris Kristofferson. It’s Kris that prompted my revisit after hearing that he’s officially retired from the public eye.
Just Cause (1995) Sean Connery, Ed Harris, Laurence Fishburne ….. need I say more?
as of late…..
Filmed in black and white and garnering some Oscar buzz, Gary Oldman, stars as Herman J. Mankiewicz and the story of Citizen Kane makes for an easy viewing decision. Recommended for film buffs everywhere. Might I suggest you also hunt down a film called RKO 281 for an alternate take on the subject.
**The Highwaymen (2019) A fine take on the story of Bonnie and Clyde from the point of view of the Texas Rangers who took them down. Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson are a great pairing and fit the era perfectly. Does a real good job at NOT drawing comparisons to the Beatty/Dunaway classic.
**The Big Ugly (2020) Better than I expected mob flick starring Vinnie Jones caught up in an escalating fallout between heavyweights Malcolm McDowell and Ron Perlman. Malcolm and Ron sharing the screen together is exactly what got me hooked.
**The Foreigner (2017)
I was quite impressed with this Jackie Chan/Pierce Brosnan film that might be Chan’s best dramatic performance in an English language film. He wants justice following the death of his daughter in an IRA bombing and Brosnan is the target he believes is withholding key information. Like Chan, Brosnan is riveting as well and delivers his A game.
The Bowery Boys ….
I’ve set out this year to watch the four volumes of Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall films I’ve had here in the movie room for a while via the Warner Archive line of DVD’s. 48 movies in total. Some are better than others but all in all they’re a great throwback to simpler times of slapstick comedy. Best of all they’re easy to shoehorn in at an average of 65 minutes each. Seen this month…..
Spook Busters (1946), Hard Boiled Mahoney (1947), Bowery Buckaroos (1947), Smuggler’s Cove (1948), Master Minds (1949), Blonde Dynamite (1950), Lucky Losers (1950), Blues Busters (1950) this one deserves special mention as Huntz ends up with a Sinatra like voice following a throat operation and begins to enjoy the limelight of the nightclubs. Crazy Over Horses (1951), Ghost Chasers (1951), No Holds Barred (1952).
Film buffs that we all are, you might like this discussion I offered up on titles that I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever see.
Monthly report card as follows…..
57 films seen.
New to me titles – 28
29 seen on DVD
24 seen on blu ray
The 4 most recent vintage seen on Netflix
If I could take just one of these to that well known desert isle for repeated viewings it would be Out of the Past. “Baby, I don’t care.”
Most enjoyable of the new to me titles goes to Clara Bow’s “It” for a classic (proving I should be watching more silent films as I’ve set out to do) and of the recent vintage I’d go with The Highwaymen.
Most enjoyable revisit goes to Anatomy of a Murder. Mainly because I hadn’t seen it in well over fifteen years. Great stuff.
So count them up if you will and let Brando and I know how many of the 56 have you’ve seen.
Until next time …. please stay safe and give a loved one a call.