The March 2021 Round-Up
Could we finally be getting close to seeing things return to normal? I sure hope so as I’d love to see my parents once again who live three provinces away. Hopefully this summer that will become a reality. In the meantime with little in the way of travel available, I guess I’ll continue to enjoy the all Canadian division in the NHL and to keep watching a large number of movies with all this time on my hands…..
Now on to the monthly roll call….
Ssshhhh …. The Silent Film Project
For Heaven’s Sake (1926)
This represents one of the few films I’d yet to see starring Harold Lloyd. Lloyd is my first love when it comes to the silent comics. I’d eventually discover Keaton and Chaplin in the years ahead but Lloyd films played some station years ago when I was growing up and I fell in love with the funny man in specs. Here he’s a wealthy young man who through comical chance finds himself becoming the main benefactor for a minister looking to feed and house the destitute. Lloyd has no interest and intends to set things straight. That is until he meets the minister’s daughter, Miss Jobyna Ralston, a frequent costar of Harold’s. From here on out it’s that Lloyd timing that kept me in stitches and while I wouldn’t call it his best film it’s still worth one’s time.
Decade by decade.
Espionage Agent – Joel McCrea and Brenda Marshall get caught up with a Nazi spy ring prior to the U.S. entry into WW2.
…. Blonde Venus (1932) One of the Marlene Dietrich/Von Sternberg pairings sees our stunning Marlene taking up with another man and eventually running off with her child supporting him by any means necessary. The implication clearly being prostitution. Herbert Marshall plays the hubby who wrongfully turns his back on her while Cary Grant is the suitor who desires her more than the money in his pockets.
Raw Deal – Must see Noir from Anthony Mann starring Dennis O’Keefe with Raymond Burr once again as the heavy prior to his becoming Perry Mason on TV.
…. The Flame of New Orleans (1941) Society climber Marlene Dietrich has the wealthy men of New Orleans society at her beck and call but it’s a sailor who hits town that captures her heart played by Bruce Cabot. Lesser effort from Miss Marlene but she’s as stunning as ever on camera.
…. He Walked By Night (1948) Another fine Noir entry starring a young Richard Basehart as a psychotic killer on the loose with a determined Scott Brady hunting him down. A great finale awaits you.
Machine Gun Kelly – Tailor made role for young Charles Bronson as he made his way towards screen immortality.
…. Son of Ali Baba (1952) Popcorn fun with contract players Tony Curtis and Piper Laurie on display for Universal International. I think this is the film Tony was teased about for years with his Bronx accent, “Yonda lies the castle of my fadda.” Either way the film delivers for a Sunday matinee and isn’t that Jeff Chandler narrating?
…. The Shadow On the Window (1956) Phil Carey is a cop looking to find the answers to why his son is in shock and his estranged wife, Betty Garrett, is missing. A neat little Noir entry in the mold of The Desperate Hours on the B circuit. If that little boy looks familiar, it’s cause he’s better known as The Beaver, son of Ward and June and brother to Wally. The Cleaver family.
…. Gun Duel in Durango (1957) “B” western starring George Montgomery is a decent time filler that surrounds him with Denver Pyle, Steve Brodie and Don Red Barry. Can George turn his back on the old outlaw gang and go straight? Will they even let him try?
…. The Tijuana Story (1957)
Even though it’s a “B” flick it was refreshing to see Rodolfo Acosta playing a heroic role as opposed to a backshooting member of an outlaw gang like that of the one he played in The Sons of Katie Elder among so many others. He’s a hero with a pen, a newsman looking to prevent crime from taking hold in his home town south of the border. James Darren and Robert Blake costar.
The Skull – Anytime we have Peter Cushing sharing the screen with Christopher Lee is a movie that demands my attention.
The Animals – Henry Silva stars and looks to aide Michele Carey seek vengeance on the outlaws who savaged her.
…. Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971) Early Giallo effort starring Florinda Balkan and one of my faves, Stanley Baker. Has she committed murder? Baker’s the detective aiming to find out in this flick from one of Gore Cinema’s more famous directors, Lucio Fulci, who hadn’t quite hit his peak years at spilling blood on camera.
…. Dracula Vs. Frankenstein (1971) A true camp/cult classic from Al Adamson that proved to be the final screen appearances of Lon Chaney Jr and J. Carrol Naish. Listen close and you can hear poor Mr. Naish’s false teeth slipping and clacking. No fooling. Sure it’s bad but it’s just so damned fun to revisit every few years. Russ Tamblyn, Jim Davis and even little Angelo Rossitto turn up. Be brave, give it a go.
…. Brain of Blood (1971) More schlocky fun from Al Adamson with nutty doctor Kent Taylor involved in brain transplants as he attempts to keep a country’s leader alive via other bodies. Al’s stock company includes Zandor Volkoff, Regina Carroll and Angelo Rossitto.
…. 10 Rillington Place (1971) Somber and direct story based on fact starring Richard Attenborough as a serial killer who takes in a young couple played by John Hurt and Judy Geeson. Not only a study in terror but of an inept judicial system. Directed by Richard Fleischer who also helmed 68’s superior The Boston Strangler.
…. The Train Robbers (1973) Another latter day John Wayne western with a solid cast surrounding our cowboy legend including Ben Johnson, Christopher George, Rod Taylor and even Ann-Margret is along for the trail ride to a fortune in gold. I so hate to be critical of Duke’s films but what this one needs is a clear villain like Richard Boone was in Big Jake.
The next three titles were in this attractive Gialli set from Vinegar Syndrome.
…. The Killer is One of 13 (1973) Thirteen people gather at an isolated mansion and someone’s a killer? Sounds like an Agatha Christie mystery. No, but Paul Naschy turns up as a chauffeur. Could he be the killer or one of many red herrings?
…. Trauma (1978) Leon Klimovsky directs this Giallo thriller that takes place at a quiet lakeside hotel. A writer finds it peaceful and the lady of the house quite attractive. He’s yet to meet her invalid husband who remains bedridden and begins to wonder why others who stay at the inn seem to disappear thru the night. I liked this one the best of the three titles in the box set.
…. Police Are Blundering in the Dark (1975) A madman is running amok with a sharp knife and lovely looking ladies are murdered on camera with the blood flowing freely. Has that Psycho idea whereby a leading lady is killed off early on which brings her boyfriend into the story as he looks into her disappearance.
The Howling – Classic werewolf movie and one worth multiple viewings.
…. The Ivory Ape (1980) Took me years to finally see this. Even if it isn’t all that good. But it’s got Jack Palance as a big game hunter and when Mr. Palance signs on to a movie, it’s on my radar. This was actually produced by Rankin and Bass who gave us those wonderful Christmas specials. It’s no King Kong and it needed more Jack!
….. Eternal Evil (1985) Super cool poster but I’ve lost 90 minutes of my life I can never recover. A real dog starring Karen Black.
…. A Few Good Men (1992) It had been a while and I was hungry for more Jack. Awesome cast and what’s not to like when Nicholson takes the stand in the film’s most famous sequence. I shouldn’t wait so long between viewings. I’m going to assume you’ve all seen this one but if you haven’t then I suggest you get on that wall and do so.
…. End of Days (1999) I hadn’t seen this since it’s original release and my opinion remains the same. It’s choppy and tries to hard even if I do like the subject material of Satan bringing about the end of the world. That is of course if he can get by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Gabriel Byrne makes the most of his satanic role while Rod Steiger collects a paycheck and Udo Kier plays to his evil strengths. In the end I suppose it’s a misfire from director Peter Hyams.
as of late ….
…. Operation Finale (2018) The true story of Nazi hunters tracking down Adolf Eichmann in Argentina as played by a deliciously evil Ben Kingsley who has a penchant for playing nasty. Harrowing and recommended.
…. Vice (2018) Satire? I’m not sure at times but Christian Bale once again proves why he’s near the top of his generation as an actor. Here he’s vice prez, Dick Cheyney, who the film would have us belive is really in charge behind the inept Sam Rockwell’s George W. Amy Adams is fine as Bale’s wife and Steve Carell also turns up with his A game as Donald Rumsfeld. I’ve no idea how close this is to actual fact, not being an overly political kind of guy. But I did like the film and it’s easy to recommend.
…. Polar (2019) Seems like a John Wick variation but I really liked Mads Mikkelson’s retired hitman who has been marked for death by the organization who owe him millions of dollars. Is it easier to remove him then to pay him his retirement bonus? I don’t think so. I so want to like this film as a whole more than I do but would love to see Mads turn up in a sequel with a much stronger villain.
…. Coming 2 America (2021) If you liked the first film released back in 1988 then this will serve as a nostalgic comedy with costumes and set designs that jump from the screen. Eddie Murphy returns as the Prince who is about to become a King in search of a son he may have fathered years ago. Most of the original cast return for the fun including Eddie and Arsenio Hall donning all that make-up to recreate many of the multi-characters they played in the first film and Wesley Snipes impresses as a war mongering General.
The Bowery Boys ….
Continuing my journey through 4 volumes via the Warner Archive collection of Leo and Huntz brought me to High Society (1955), Angel’s Alley (1948), Jinx Money (1948), Angels In Disguise (1949) which was almost a straight Noir drama at times with less focus on the humor associated with most of the other Bowery titles. Feudin’ Fools (1952) The boys find themselves in a Hatfield and McCoy setting as they go hunting for laughs. Stock car racing is the backdrop for Jalopy (1953) and Paris Playboys (1954).
The Monthly Report Card
37 Films Seen
New to Me Titles – 24
14 seen on DVD
18 on blu ray
1 on Amazon Prime – Coming 2 America
1 on Youtube – The Ivory Ape
3 on Netflix – Polar, Vice and Operation Finale.
If I could take just one of these to that well known desert isle for repeated viewings it has got to be The Howling.
Most enjoyable of the new to me titles goes to For Heaven’s Sake for a classic era movie and Coming 2 America for something post 2000.
Most enjoyable revisit goes to both The Howling and A Few Good Men.
So count them up if you will and let Brando and I know how many of the 39 have you’ve seen.