The February 2021 Round-Up
For the first time in well over a year I felt like I slowed down in my movie watching routine when looking back over the month that has now past. But then the NHL is finally in full swing and for the first and I assume last time, we Canadians are enjoying an all Northern division with no Canadian franchise travelling south of the border. So what this really means is I’m watching most every Montreal Canadians games and plenty of others featuring the franchises up here North of the border.
Now on to the monthly roll call……
SSShhhh …. The Silent Film Project
Spring Fever (1927)
Might this be the earliest golf movie ever made? I’ve no idea but golf is exactly what we get as a backdrop in this romcom starring William Haines and a young starlet on the rise, Joan Crawford. Perhaps you’ve hear of her. Haines plays the young guy working at a factory who is a whiz with a set of “spoons.” That’s golf clubs for the uninitiated. His boss who loves golf but struggles with his own game takes the young man with him to the country club, Oakmont, in Pennsylvania. So we have the young man with no money who falls for the beautiful Crawford. A young woman born into wealth. Let the romantic hijinks begin as the two fall in, out and in love over the course of the film. Then there’s the club championship that Haines will need to win to make good on the big stage. Easy to recommend for it’s entertainment value and also for the sports nostalgia involved.
Decade by decade ….
**Last Train From Madrid (1937) A cross between Grand Hotel and Casablanca before the world knew of the Bogie film. Everyone is looking to escape Madrid as the Spanish war takes hold. You’ll need an all important pass to get on board that last train. Among our ensemble cast are Gilbert Roland, Anthony Quinn, Dorothy Lamour, Robert Cummings and Lew Ayres. My God they were all so young.
**Up In the Air (1940) Monogram murder mystery at the radio station. Always a popular locale for murders in 1930’s and 40’s cinema. Out to solve the crimes are Frankie Darro and my reason for tuning in, funnyman Mantan Moreland.
**The Ape (1940) It’s Boris Karloff on poverty row conducting experiments and once again having to kill in order to advance his life saving formula for the betterment of mankind.
**Partners of the Sunset (1948) Singing cowboy Jimmy Wakely and comical sidekick Dub Taylor are once again looking to right a wrong and bring some bad hombres to justice.
The Sleeping City (1950) Noir and Richard Conte make this one an easy pick to feature.
**Lullaby of Broadway (1951) Early Doris Day musical is an enjoyable outing that pairs her with Gene Nelson and scene stealer S.Z. Sakall.
Queen Bee (1955) It’s Joan Crawford in the title role. Melodrama reigns as she fences with John Ireland and Barry Sullivan.
**Cattle Drive (1951) Joel McCrea stars in this western version of Captains Courageous playing the veteran cowhand who takes in Dean Stockwell, the arrogant son of a wealthy railroad owner who has become separated from his father’s railway operation.
The Night Walker (1964) William Castle teams one time couple Stanwyck and Taylor for the first time in almost 30 years.
**Mysterious Island (1961) Reliving my childhood once again by watching this magical Ray Harryhausen feature with Herbert Lom as Captain Nemo.
**They Came From Beyond Space (1967) Amicus and Freddie Francis are names that keep us genre fans coming back for more.
**It’s Alive (1968) Oh boy. Ultra low budget Larry Buchanan effort starring the one time darling of Disney, Tommy Kirk. Laughable but if you like this kind of thing just roll with it.
**Hanging For Django (1969) aka No Room To Die. Above par spaghetti western with genre regulars Anthony Steffen and William Berger. As for the title, it has nothing to with the film. Just another example of a producer trying to make some money off an early genre success.
**The Brotherhood of Satan (1971) I love to recommend this low budget thriller of a witch’s coven taking refuge in a small modern day western town. Grows on me with each viewing and what’s not to like when it offers Strother Martin and L.Q. Jones the leading roles. Go find this one.
**Un Flic (1972) A star studded trio, Alain Delon, Catherine Deneuve and Richard Crenna star in this heist thriller that I’m sad to say I found kind of slow and boring. I was hoping for so much more.
Night of the Cobra Woman (1972) Roger Corman production proves to be a fun drive-in thriller with lovely Marlene Clark taking on the habits of a Cobra.
**The Treasure of Jamaica Reef (1974) Choppy editing and budget restraints hurt this Stephen Boyd adventure short on adventure but long on underwater footage captured for the film. Gold is the target for everyone involved. That includes David and Cheryl Ladd, Rosey Grier, Chuck Woolery …. Chuck Woolery!? and bad guy Roy Jenson.
**Death Machines (1976) Kung Fu, the mob, blaxploitation and fighting zombies, scratch that zombie bit, think Universal Soldiers in the Dolph Lundgren mold. Anyway this low budget affair was right up my alley with three killers who can’t be stopped on the warpath with local police trying to bring them in. Alive?
Street People (1976) Eurocrime time with Moore ….. Roger Moore taking center stage.
**Inglorious Bastards (1978) What’s not to like. Bo Svenson, Ian Bannan and Fred Williamson in a Dirty Dozen knock off that goes it’s own way from director Enzo G. Castalleri. Of course the title was revived by Tarantino for his own war time adventure.
**Friday the 13th (1980) No plot details needed. Kevin Bacon “stars” and Tom Savini supplies the F/X in the first go around of Jason Voorhees. Back before he discovered the hockey mask. Every few years I like to go back and watch these slashers of my youth. Forgive me if you must.
**Escape From the Bronx (1983) More apocalyptic nonsense from Enzo G. Castellari inspired by Carpenter’s Escape From New York. Atrociously dubbed but thankfully the film’s heavy Henry Silva does his own talking. Yes I said Henry Silva so he alone makes this one worth a look if you’re a fan of this actor who is surely one of cinema’s great bad asses.
**The New Barbarians (1983) I really have no idea what the hell is going on in this Castellari feature that is supposed to be some sort of Mad Max starring Fred Williamson.
**Moon In Scorpio (1987) Another film that plays choppy in the editing department. Low budget and pretty much the end of the line for Britt Ekland. Three couples are out on a cruise and someone’s killing them off. With John Phillip Law and William Smith on board there’s bound to be bloodshed. I must say I love the blu ray artwork if nothing else.
**The Caller (1987) Sleuth it isn’t when Malcolm McDowell and Madolyn Smith Osborne meet in a secluded cottage with murder in the air. It’s a two part play that tries but is all rather dull I found in the end. Still it’s Malcolm and that at the very least deserves my attention.
**Catacombs (1988) A demon below the monastery is looking to break out and wreak havoc among the brothers who now occupy it centuries after his being buried in the catacombs beneath. I’ve a weakness for this sort of thing.
Split Second (1992) a new blu ray prompted a rewatch of this film I previously featured in a Rutger Hauer spotlight.
**Supernova (1995) This one’s a mess and director Walter Hill had his name removed from the finished product. A sci-fi tale that comes on way to fast leaving me to ponder if the first act was shredded and left on the cutting room floor. Angela Bassett, James Spader and Robert Forster among our space travelers.
as of late ….
**The Barber (2002) Not what I expected. Meaning a better than average black comedy with Malcolm McDowell as a barber by day serial killer by night in an Alaskan small town in constant darkness. Forgettable yes but still fun and damn I like Malcom in most anything I’ve come across over the years and there’s so much left to discover.
**Abominable (2006) I thought this was a hoot. Cheezy horror flick with a murderous Sasquatch on the loose terrorizing Seinfeld’s Lloyd Braun. “Serenity now!” Genre faves Lance Henriksen, Dee Wallace Stone and Jeffrey Combs are on hand for the fun and blood.
**I.T. (2016) Another post Bond role for Pierce Brosnan and not a bad thriller even if it is a variation on the psycho themes we’ve seen a dozen times before. Brosnan is a wealthy businessman who mistakenly invites an employee to his home to rewire his internet and all those electronic gadgets. BIG MISTAKE. Guys a psychotic stalker who befriends his much younger daughter and makes Bond’s life a living hell. But Brosnan is used to winning.
**Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) Really needs no introduction. Loved it at the theater and again on my second viewing. With the remote in hand part of the fun was to freeze frame and check the background details of 1969’s Hollywood. Like the posters Tarantino was placing in the backdrop of Miss Robbie’s trip to the theater. Yup. I have both that Wrecking Crew poster and The Mercenary on ice here in the movie room.
**The Dig (2021) Not having any idea where the state of the Academy Awards are in these troubled times, I’d like to nominate this for early Oscar contention for 2021. Love the camera work and Ralph Fiennes performance as an archaeologist digging up an ancient ship in England on the eve of WW2. Not to be forgotten is the performance by Carey Mulligan as the frail woman who owns the land where the treasures lay beneath the surface. Fascinating piece of history and an underdog story to boot. Easy to recommend.
**I wanted to add that I’m always being told to watch this or that on Netflix. The problem is they’re always a series and I hate to commit to them. So, I’d like state that I did watch the Michael Douglas/Alan Arkin show The Kominsky Method and loved it. I’m eagerly awaiting the third season. I also binged on Fincher’s Mindhunter and found it gripping. Sadly this doesn’t look like it’s got a third season on the way.
The Bowery Boys ….
My drive to watch the 48 movies featuring Slip and Satch continues. Titles enjoyed this month as follows. Let’s Go Navy, Hold That Line, one of the series more enjoyable romps titled Loose in London, Clipped Wings and Private Eyes.
Monthly Report Card as Follows ….
39 films seen.
New to me titles – 28
15 seen on DVD
23 seen on blu ray
1 (The Dig) seen on Netflix.
If I could take just one of these to that well known desert isle for repeated viewings it has got to be Mysterious Island. Surely you saw that coming.
Most enjoyable of the new to me titles goes to Lullaby of Broadway thanks to my forever crush on Doris Day for a classic era movie and The Dig for something post 2000.
Most enjoyable revisit goes to both The Brotherhood of Satan and Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. I’m sure Tarantino would approve of the tie.
So count them up if you will and let Brando and I know how many of the 39 have you’ve seen.