July 2021 In Review
Picking up where I left off last month, I was mired in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and my beloved Habs came up short in the end against the powerful Tampa Bay Lightning.
Back to the drawing board…. Now back to the Toronto Blue Jays full time and watching movies. Collecting movies and memorabilia to.
Now to my goal in the year 2021 better known as ……
Ssshhhh ….. The Silent Film Project
The Mysterious Lady (1928)
Spies and love affairs go hand in hand. From the silent film era with Greta Garbo to 007 adventures that continue to this day. In this Fred Niblo directed effort, we find Russian spy Miss Garbo setting her sights on a young Austrian military officer portrayed by Conrad Nagel. It’s a whirlwind romance following a “chance” meeting at the opera. He’ll fall hard for the famous star of silent films and though she too has fallen in love, she’ll put her country above her personal feelings and make her way back to Gustav Von Seyffertitz. He’s not only her commanding officer but clearly she’s been pressured into a relationship with the older man.
Nagel for his association and loss of vital information has been thrown out of the military but will see a chance for redemption by going into Russia as a pianist to seek his revenge on Garbo and company. But one look upon her world famous face and he’s ensnared again. Our villain Gustav suspects something is amiss between Garbo and the new pianist leaving our lovers in peril and running for their lives.
Maybe I shouldn’t brush off Garbo as much as I have over the years. This was a superb silent war time drama and the camera work was masterful. Reminded me of how the movies in general took a step back once talkies moved in to ensure actors could gather around a microphone to say their lines forcing many productions to become stage bound and in many cases a bit on the boring side.
The Man They Could Not Hang (1939) When the good Doctor, Boris Karloff, is sentenced to death following what appears to be a murder rather than an experiment, he swears vengeance on the jury and judge and when he returns from the grave, he’ll seek his vengeance on one night in a house full of death traps. Damn I love those Karloff as a mad doctor flicks.
Before I Hang (1940) Boris is back with a noose around his neck and once again playing a misaligned scientist. Can Boris avoid the noose and come up with a life sustaining formula? Can he do it without any side effects? Damn I love those Karloff as a mad doctor flicks.
The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942) Joining Boris this time out in the mad scientist series is the great Peter Lorre. Played for laughs along the lines of Arsenic and Old Lace it works at times and Maxie Rosenbloom only adds to the fun. Damn I love those Karloff as a mad doctor flicks.
The Frozen Ghost (1944) Lon Chaney Jr. once again signs on for the Inner Sanctum series. Lon is a mental giant known as Gregor the Great who gets tangled up in murder when he wishes someone dead. There’s more to the story than that with Evelyn Ankers and Martin Kosleck involved. I love these flicks.
Strange Confession (1945) This time out Lon is a scientist working for the shifty J. Carrol Naish. Lon has principles in the medical drug game and at first quits Naish but when lured back, he finds that Naish is out to cheat him from his discoveries and on top of that covets his wife played by Brenda Joyce. Murder and revenge are to follow and Hays Code bedamned. It’s justified in my eyes. Hey, there’s Lloyd Bridges! I love these flicks.
Pillow of Death (1945)The sixth and final Inner Sanctum mystery has Lon as a Lawyer accused of murdering his estranged wife. He’s got an alibi and a second wife lined up played once again by costar Brenda Joyce. Now all he has to do is find the real killer to prove his innocence. Or not. I love these flicks.
The Black Dakotas (1954) For a low budget 65 minute time filler this is a pretty decent B western. Gary Merrill is a southern spy looking to secure a fortune in gold for the Confederacy. Could have used a better cast of western regulars but at least Noah Beery Jr. is on hand as is Wanda Hendrix for leading lady duties and John Bromfield as the hero.
Don’t Give Up the Ship (1959) Needed a laugh so I went back to my childhood and visited Jerry Lewis. One of his early efforts without Dean plays fine and there’s one bit in particular that is hilarious thanks to comedic timing involving a piece of cake, a top hat and a bald headed man. Had me laughing so hard I rewound it and called in my two sons to enjoy the gut busting laugh with me.
P.J. – George Peppard in fine form as a private eye working for a coldhearted Raymond Burr.
School For Scoundrels (1960) What’s not to love when Ian Carmichael is off to a school for scoundrels. All so he can learn to compete with the likes of professional cad, Terry-Thomas, to capture the hand of lovely Janette Scott. Chalk full of faces you’ll know and love. Dennis Price, Alastair Sim and Hattie Jacques among them. “Hard cheese”
Terror of the Tongs (1961) Often confused with the Fu Manchu series of the mid sixties, this Hammer film was the first to cast Christopher Lee as an oriental mastermind of the criminal underworld. Geoffrey Toone is out to expose Lee’s murderous activities with Hammer beauty Yvonne Monlaur on hand as well. Typically well made Hammer film on a budget. Looks stunning on a recent blu ray release from Indicator.
Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962) German made Holmes film with English actors in the main roles and an English director to boot. It’s Christopher Lee as Holmes and Thorley Walters as Watson being guided by Hammer House director Terence Fisher. I have no problem with the film as a whole and Lee looks very much like Basil Rathbone in the central role. Sadly the film has been dubbed into English without Lee’s voice. Lost to time I suppose. It also has Senta Berger in it who was just a year or two away from International stardom.
Detective Bureau 2-3 : Go To Hell Bastards (1963) Digging into my pile of Japanese mob movies of the sixties brought me to this beautifully shot Jo Shishido starring effort. He’s an undercover cop infiltrating a gang of Yakuza with violent results yet the film has some nice comical touches and a jazzy score to accompany it. Worth tracking down on Arrow Video.
The Earth Dies Screaming (1964) Terence Fisher end of the world thriller on a budget that clocks in at a far too short 64 minutes. Has it’s fans but I’m indifferent to the proceedings with Dennis Price and Thorley Walters on hand. Has a Quatermaas appeal to it I guess overall. Might have been better suited as a one hour episode on some anthology series overseas
The Rare Breed (1966) One of Jimmy Stewarts final westerns is again directed by Andrew V. McLaglen. Jimmy’s an old cowhand assigned to look after Maureen O’Hara’s prized bull. Hard to do when Jack Elam is circling around. Not bad but as much as I like Brian Keith, this film quickly falls flat once he enters at the halfway point heavily bearded sporting a thick Irish brogue. At least it comes around in the closing scenes. Guess who wins the hand of the lovely Maureen?
The Mummy’s Shroud (1967) The lesser of the Mummy trilogy from Hammer but I think it deserves a little more love than it usually gets. Hammer on a budget could have used more of a Chris Lee makeup job on our Mummy but we do get archaeologist Andre Morrel on hand and a fine performance from Hammer regular Michael Ripper.
Frankenstein Created Woman (1967) I still revisit this Hammer effort on occasion and am always left wanting a bit more from the story and Peter Cushing’s Baron, not to mention the ending. An odd entry in the series with the stunning Susan Denberg taking center stage. I guess the film is more memorable for all the cheesecake shots of Peter and Susan that never actually appear in the film.
Outlaw Gangster VIP (1968) , Outlaw Gangster VIP 2 (1968), Outlaw : Heartless (1968) More Yakuza flicks on Arrow Video. The first three films of a 6 pack featuring leading man Tetsuya Watari as Goro the Assassin and Chieko Matsubara as his love interest. I truly enjoyed these films and look forward to the next three I’ve set aside for August. Bloody and violent when called upon and oh so damned realistic with those knife fights. Easy to recommend.
Midas Run (1969) A heist film with Fred Astaire bringing Richard Crenna on board to steal a fortune in gold. And give it back? Great cast but to be honest, overlong and boring. But I can at least say I’ve now seen it when checking off the screen appearances of Roddy McDowall, Cesar Romero and Ralph Richardson.
If …. (1969) Malcolm McDowell’s star making turn from director Lindsay Anderson struck me as another film maybe I had to live through the times to fully appreciate. I’d seen it years ago in my teens but recalled very little so it was pretty much a new to me title. What I did take away from it is that the ending is jolting yet rather sad considering what we see on the news far too often nowadays. I’ll add I’ve long been a big fan of Malcolm’s thanks to seeing Time After Time as a youngster.
Sam Whiskey (1969) Harmless comedy western with a solid cast led by Burt Reynolds who is clearly cementing his good old boy image in the title role. Clint Walker, Ossie Davis and sexy Angie Dickinson tag along in this tale of lost gold in the days following the civil war.
Satan’s Sadists (1969) Drive-in exploitation classic from cult director Al Adamson. Russ Tamblyn as a crazed bike gang leader who leaves dead bodies in his wake. Among those who join the journey to nowhere are Regina Carrol, Kent Taylor, Scott Brady and future exploitation directors, John Bud Cardos and Greydon Clark. Honing their craft I suppose.
I, Monster – It’s Lee vs. Cushing. All you need to know.
Fragment of Fear (1970) David Hemmings gets his fingers slapped in a murder mystery that plays like a poor man’s Hitchcock flick. His then real life wife Gayle Hunnicutt plays along in the mystery from director Richard C. Sarafian as does one time Bond villain, Adolfo Celi. O.K. but overall a bit of a letdown I felt.
Fury of the Wolfman (1970) More hairy shenanigans from Paul Naschy’s tortured Waldemar Daninsky.
Tiger By the Tail (1970) When war hero Christopher George returns home he’s about to be set up and implicated in the death of his estranged brother. He’s also the number one suspect in a race track heist and John Dehner as the town sheriff is not only on his trail but is stealing every scene he’s in. A pleasure to watch this guy at times. Low budget but worthy of your time thanks to the cast including R.G. Armstrong, Tippi Hedren, Dean Jagger, Alan Hale Jr and Skip Homier among others.
Piranha, Piranha (1972) With the news of tough guy William Smith’s passing, I scanned the shelves for something I’d yet to see and settled on this low budget jungle adventure where our muscle man is a guide for some photographers with gold on their minds. It all goes wrong and Smith isn’t too be trusted. OK of it’s type but forgettable.
Newman’s Law (1974) George Peppard takes a turn at the violent cop thrillers that were the rage in the seventies. He’s a by the book cop who refuses mob money to look the other way and pretty much makes enemies of everyone around him. It’s no classic but if you love Abe Vigoda and that seventies flavor….
Savage Dawn. Lance Henriksen plays it tough and yeah it’s explosive fun.
Death Wish 3 – Bronson returns to New York to bring justice to the streets.
Eye of the Tiger – Previously featured but Number 2 son Kirk decided he was going to give it a go so I couldn’t help myself since the villain was once again the legendary William Smith.
The Children (1980) I’ve been long overdue to see this very George Romero like thriller. One where the children turn into murderous zombie like creatures after their school bus is exposed to some toxic fumes. Loved it and not sure if we’ll see this kind of movie nowadays with children taking sword chops and shotgun blasts to their bodies.
The Horror Star (1981) aka Frightmare. Ferdy Mayne (Fearless Vampire Killers) steps in to the shoes of an aging horror star nearing death. After his passing some nerdy fans including Jeffrey Combs decide to visit the crypt and bring Ferdy home to his horror mansion. Yeah he’s not quite dead and the bodies begin to pile up. Notable for a couple things to this trivia hound. I loved the classic movie posters on the walls of Ferdy’s mansion in the background and also appearing in the film were Nita Talbot and Leon Askin. Both were semi-regulars on Hogan’s Heroes ages ago.
Uphill All the Way (1986) This proved more fun than I anticipated. Country Music Legends, Roy Clark and Mel Tillis sign on for a western adventure much like the Don Knotts and Tim Conway Apple Dumpling Adventures. They’re a couple of nobody’s with maybe one brain between the two of them but are of course all heart. They get mistaken for a pair of bank robbers and the chase is on. Great cameo by Burt Reynolds and a fine cast joining in that includes Glen Campbell, Frank Gorshin, Burl Ives, Trish Van Devere, Gailard Sartain and Burton Gilliam.
Action Jackson (1988) Gotta love it when your sons want to turn the clock back and check out a Carl Weathers classic. Saw it at the theater. Loved it then, love it now. And how about Vanity! Not to mention Sharon Stone! Craig T. Nelson rocks it as the villain and yeah it’s 80’s excessive but that’s the whole point of the revisit. Grab the popcorn.
L.A. Bounty (1989) One sure way to have fun watching movies is to cut Sybil Danning loose as a vengeful bounty hunter and sign on Wings Hauser in a Dennis Hopper worthy performance as an over the top villain. The pair are headed to a violent showdown with Sybil blasting her way through the gunmen that Hauser has on his payroll. Low budget VHS era classic of it’s kind.
Deep Blood (1990) Oh boy….. Another lousy Jaws rip off.
Dolly Dearest (1991) No it’s not Child’s Play with Chucky but it’s an obvious attempt to cash in on that series’ success. It does have Rip Torn so that’s good enough for me.
Winterbeast (1992) Ultra low budget laugher with stop motion animation that may be better than I could ever accomplish but will never, NEVER, take the place of Ray Harryhausen in my heart. There’s some evil spirits abound in a totem pole ….. something like that. Cool artwork though on the blu ray cover.
As of late ….
Step Brothers (2008) A sure way to get me laughing is to see Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as 40 year olds behaving like 8 year old boys whose single parents have gotten married forcing the pair to live together and share a bedroom. And how about Richard Jenkins and Mary Steenburgen as the newlyweds who have to deal with the good for nothing offspring. For me it’s one of those films that if I come across on a channel, I’m hooked into watching it all over again. So many funny quotes I can’t repeat here ….. I’ll go with this one…… “I swear, I’m so pissed off at my mom. As soon as she’s of age, I’m putting her in a home.”
The Imitation Game (2014) Superb retelling of the heroic yet ill fated Alan Turing whose mathematical genius helped to break the Enigma Code that the German’s were using to great effect during WW2. Plenty of Oscar nominations were chalked up here and it’s notable that even when he’s signed on to play a part for the good guys, Charles Dance, is still essentially acting the villain. Highest recommendation.
Arctic (2018) Mads Mikkelsen continues to impress me when I take the time to sit in on one of his films. Here it’s man against the elements in a movie with very little dialogue. He’s a downed pilot in the Arctic who eventually makes an attempt to walk his way out of the ice and snow with a severely wounded woman in tow. Makes me realize I wouldn’t last more than a day or two if I was in the same circumstances. No heroics here, just a straight forward story of the will to live. Worth a look for the scenery, the spirit and Mr. Mads.
Some Edgar Allan Poe inspirations came to me this month after reading my latest addition to the library here at Mike’s Take.
Well researched, the book not only rekindled my love of the Corman cycle (which to be honest is rekindled every few years) it also had me looking around for other titles I’ve had tucked away. Here’s a recap on my Poe adventures for the month …. both good and bad.
Tales of Terror (1962) It’s a trio of winning tales led by Vinnie the P. Each clocks in at about a half hour and in The Black Cat segment we get the now famous Price vs. Lorre wine tasting competition. Let’s not forget Basil Rathbone and Debra Paget turning up in the final gooey story, The Case of M. Valdemar. Always worth a revisit.
The Raven (1963) An absolute hoot when wizards Peter Lorre and Vincent Price go up against the evil all powerful wizard, Boris Karloff. And Lenore? Yes she’s in here enacted by Hammer Queen, Hazel Court. Played for laughs this is one of the more memorable of the Corman/Price/Poe series and like the majority of the films in the series, looks delicious on blu ray. And yes, that is Jack Nicholson playing the idiot stooge son to Lorre’s improvising and mugging for the camera wizard.
The Oval Portrait (1973) I had this low budget feature tucked away so in the spirit of Poe and the new book I gave it a go. Not much to report and it’s boring. It’s also the final film of one time fifties starlet, Wanda Hendrix, who for some strange reason was dubbed.
The House of Usher (1989) A poor updating of the Poe tale but we do get Oliver Reed with his menacing low key style in the Roderick Usher role. Then there’s Donald Pleasence as his crazed whacked out brother. It’s a Harry Alan Towers production and if you know your exploitation filmmakers by name, that’s all you really need to know. Mainly for fans of the two leads which means people like me.
The Masque of the Red Death (1990) Poe’s tale becomes the backdrop for a modern day slasher film. Herbert Lom throws the party attended by the likes of Frank Stallone and Brenda Vaccaro. But it’s the younger set and good looking gals who will take center stage when the masked murderer is slicing and dicing his way through those who have attended the Poe themed party. Where’s Price’s Prospero when you need him?
The Monthly Report Card
50 Films Seen.
25 new to me titles.
8 seen on DVD
40 seen on blu ray
2 seen on Netflix. Imitation Game and Arctic.
If I could take just one of these to that well known desert isle for repeated viewings I’ll go with Roger Corman’s The Raven. It’s long been a favorite and with Price, Karloff and Lorre on board not to mention Jack, it’s like bringing four old friends to the isle with me.
Most enjoyable of the new to me titles goes to Outlaw Gangster VIP (Part 1) for a classic era movie and The Imitation Game for something post 2000.
Most enjoyable revisit goes to Action Jackson. It had been far too long since I had watched it.
As always, let Brando and myself know your thoughts and tally to see how our notes compare.