Could this be the year I watch more movies than I add to my collection? Doubt it but we’re gonna try. I’ve also added the releasing company for those who might be looking to acquire a copy of their own. You’ll see many of the so called “boutique labels” that keep us collectors in the poor house. Companies like Kino Lorber, Arrow Video, Severin, Scorpion Releasing and Vinegar Syndrome. For the first time I decided to take a chance and purchased a one year subscription to V.S. meaning I pretty much receive everything they release this calendar year. Fingers crossed there are some gems headed my way.
On to the roll call.
Raffles (1939) TCM airing. David Niven takes on the title role. A high class jewel thief looking to stay one step ahead of the police while at the same time romance lovely Olivia De Havilland. A remake of a Ronald Colman flick that I must say I expected more out of.
Private Detective (1939) TCM airing.
At less than one hour in length, this is a fun romp with Jane Wyman as a newshound out to best her boyfriend/policeman Dick Foran by proving the innocence of a woman accused of murdering her estranged husband over the custody battle of their little boy.
This Gun For Hire (1942) Shout Factory blu ray.
I’d forgotten just how enjoyable Alan Ladd’s breakout film was. He’s paired with sultry Veronica Lake and a screen team was born. Classic Noir with Robert Preston and Laird Cregar adding to the fun that sees Ladd as a vengeance bent hitman after his mark with Lake a hostage in tow.
Jungle Jim (1948) TCM airing. Johnny Weissmuller has left his loin cloth behind but can’t find his way out of the jungle. Here he is in the first of 16 low budget Jungle Jim outings. He’s on a trek to find a miracle drug but a pre Superman, George Reeves, has other motives and they’re not filled with good intentions.
Gun Law Justice (1949) Warner Archive Monogram Cowboy Collection Vol. 1 DVD. Singing cowboy Jimmy Wakely and his sidekick Dub “Cannonball” Taylor find themselves trying to stop a set of stagecoach holdups that appear to be an inside job.
Outlaw Gold (1950) Warner Archive Monogram Cowboy Collection Vol. 1 DVD.
Johnny Mack Brown western quickie is really all one needs to know I suppose. Honestly these do blur together after you’ve seen a handful of them. Rest assured Johnny plays the hero.
Man From Sonora (1951) Warner Archive Monogram Cowboy Collection Vol. 1 DVD. Marshall Johnny Mack Brown has his horse stolen right from under him by a trio of coach robbers and he’s determined to get him back. He’ll find the trio in a frontier town overseen by one time thirties matinee idol, Lyle Talbot, as the sheriff. The pair might have to team up to take down the baddies. Miss Phyllis Coates plays the prim and proper gal that pudgy Johnny flirts with. She’d be on her way to the Daily Planet in short order playing Lois Lane to George Reeves Clark Kent.
F.B.I. Girl (1951) VCI Entertainment Forgotten Noir Vol. 5 .
Strictly a B flick yet it has a cast worthy of top flight Noir entries. Audrey Totter is the undercover title character working with Cesar Romero and George Brent looking to take down criminal heavyweight Raymond Burr and the politician he’s backing for political office. For those interested, that is blonde bombshell Joi Lansing in a minor role.
Against All Flags (1952) Kino Lorber Studio Classics blu ray. A trio of pros make this an enjoyable pirate romp. Errol Flynn romances Maureen O’Hara while at odds with Anthony Quinn.
Thunder Bay (1953) Kino Lorber Studio Classics blu ray.
A non-western from the team of actor Jimmy Stewart and director Anthony Mann. The pair are best remembered for their rugged westerns like The Naked Spur and The Maqn From Laramie. Here it’s a modern day tale of Jimmy and Dan Duryea looking to find oil beneath the ocean floor in the fishing grounds of Gilbert Roland and company. Not bad but nowhere near the standard the westerns had set for the pair.
Naked Alibi (1954) Kino Lorber Studio Classics. Prime Noir flick with Sterling Hayden and Gloria Grahame.
King Dinosaur (1955) VCI Entertainment DVD. Oh boy….. yeah it’s bad and deserving of it’s 2.2 out of 10 rating at the IMDB. I had to find out for both you and myself. Bert I. Gordon directed and incredibly the screenplay is credited to Tom Gries. Tom would go on to a fine career directing westerns such as Charlton Heston’s personal favorite film, Will Penny (1968).
The Killer is Loose (1956) Classic Flix blu ray. Tense Noir with a superior Wendell Corey as the title killer from director Budd Boetticher.
The Long Haul (1957) Mill Creek Noir Archive Collection Vol. 3 blu ray. A solid British entry with an equally impressive Victor Mature taking center stage.
Pickup Alley (1957) Mill Creek Noir Archive Collection Vol. 3 blu ray.
This time Victor Mature is a rugged cop looking to take down a dope smuggler played by Trevor Howard with Anita Ekberg serving as Howard’s personal piece of eye candy and front for his operation. Not bad and anytime the likes of Andre Morrel and Sidney James turn up in supporting roles I’m interested.
The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960) Indicator Hammer Set Vol. 4 blu ray. A somewhat underappreciated Hammer film of the oft filmed story. Paul Massie takes on the title role usually reserved for Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee. As it is Lee is in the film and shines as a cad about town who befriends Hyde and Jekyll’s wife. Don’t write this gorgeous looking film off too quickly and yes that is a young Oliver Reed on the cusp of stardom.
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) WB blu ray.
Easy decision. My son was about to watch this for the first time and asked if I’d like to join him. The classic creeper that pits real life rivals Bette Davis against Joan Crawford. Davis hits a home run in Robert Aldrich’s classic. One second you can’t stand her and the next I feel nothing but pity for her. Crawford equally good as the bed ridden sister being tormented by Davis. On the off chance you’ve never seen this one, make it your personal goal to do so this year.
Challenge the Devil (1963) Severin blu ray. Long lost Christopher Lee title and not hard to see why. Amateurish black and white thriller with Lee in a supporting role as a devilish character at a run down castle. On the plus side, I can say I’ve now seen it and added it to my collection of Lee titles.
The Skull (1965) Eureka! blu ray. Amicus thriller starring the legendary twosome of Lee and Cushing.
Bloody Pit of Horror (1965) Severin blu ray. Italian shocker with Mickey Hargitay making like he’s Vincent Price in The Pit and The Pendulum. He’s got a torture chamber beneath his castle and luckily for him a bevy of actresses on hand when a photo shoot arrives to take advantage of the castle interiors. Guilty pleasure? Damned straight.
The Quiller Memorandum (1966) Twilight Time blu ray.
It’s an espionage tale without the flash or tongue and cheek humor of the Bond series. George Segal is tangled up with spies, Max Von Sydow and Alec Guinness and never sure if sultry Sentra Berger is as innocent as she appears to be.
Rough Night In Jericho (1967) Kino Lorber Studio Classics. Dean Martin plays against type for a super rare villainous role.
Three Seconds Before Explosion (1967) Kino International DVD. A Japanese Yakuza flick starring Akira Kobayashi as a highly trained spy/cop infiltrating a clan. OK I suppose but I came away thinking I’ve seen better.
The Andromeda Strain (1971) Arrow Video blu ray. Robert Wise film that in today’s Pandemic age is worth a revisit or first time look for those unfamiliar with the Michael Crichton story. With Wise directing it’s worth a look but does lack star power. All due respect to leading man James Olson.
So Sweet, So Dead (1972) Code Red blu ray. Typical Italian Giallo thriller where barely clothed women are being murdered by a figure clad in black. Keeps us guessing to the payoff and features an eyebrow raising ending. Farley Granger and Sylva Koscina star.
The Victim (1972) Kino Lorber Studio Classics blu ray.
Made for TV thriller starring Elizabeth Montgomery holed up in at a cottage in a storm and wondering where her sister has disappeared to. Might she be the body in the basement? But who’s the killer? Good of it’s type when TV was producing all kinds of thrillers for television.
Hard Times (1975) Eureka! blu ray. I believe it’s the best of Bronson’s output during the 1970’s.
Joshua (1976) Code Red blu ray. Fred Williamson puts “The Hammer” down on some bad hombres in this revenge western that is clearly in need of a budget, a decent director and a tighter script. Not only that but it’s rather degrading to women as well.. Take a pass and look for some other Williamson titles of the period.
Kill or Be Killed (1977) Dark Force Entertainment blu ray. Martial artist James Ryan finds himself in Enter the Dragon territory when a Crime Lord via Germany and WW2 hosts a contest that features the worlds best fighters. Ryan isn’t interested until his lady love is taken hostage forcing his hand(s).
The Five Venoms (1978). Arrow Video Shawscope Vol. 1 blu ray. aka The Five Deadly Venoms.
Kung Fu classic where the mysterious Venoms are out to kill and cheat other out of a fortune left by their master. Required viewing if you’re into this sort of thing.
Escape From Alcatraz (1979) Paramount blu ray. Clint Eastwood and Don Siegel team one last time in this take on the mysterious 1960 breakout that leaves us all wondering if Clint and his pals successfully escaped The Rock. I’ve always liked this one but to be honest I love the film poster more than the movie itself. Patrick McGoohan and Fred Ward costar.
Kill and Kill Again (1981) Scorpion Releasing DVD. More karate fun with James Ryan returning to battle more deadly foes and pick up a new love interest in the bargain. Proof that sequels CAN be better than the first film. At least I thought so.
Race For the Yankee Zephyr (1981) Kino Lorber Studio Classics. Donald Pleasence steals the show.
Sword of the Valiant (1983) Scorpion Releasing blu ray.
Time hasn’t done anything to endear this Cannon Films bomb to me any more than the first time I’d seen it on VHS tape ages ago. But I’m a collector so what can I say. Easily one of Sean Connery’s biggest misfires portraying the Green Knight against Miles O’Keefe’s young Knight. Cool cast though. Trevor Howard and Peter Cushing among them. And I do love that art work for the blu ray release.
Cemetery of Terror (1985) Vinegar Syndrome blu ray. I found this one a pleasant surprise.. Gross out horror by way of Mexico. A cross between Halloween and Michael Jackson’s Thriller with a Michael Myers like killer brought back from the dead to kill teenagers with sex on their mind that throws in a bunch of Zombies rising from their graves to bring it on over the final half hour. Tarantino scholars will know the top billed actor. Mr. Hugo Stiglitz.
Rest In Pieces (1987) Vinegar Syndrome blu ray. Low budget but it tries. A young couple are set to claim their inheritance but the ghost of her Aunt, the aging Oscar winner Dorothy Malone may not be ready to let things go just yet.
Death Warrant (1990) Scorpion Releasing blu ray. Some classic Van Dammage from Jean Claude’s early days. Here he’s a Montreal cop going undercover in a U.S. prison to find out why a slate of cons have been killed in a short time period. All is good until an old enemy enters the population blowing the whistle on Van Damme’s cop. Entertaining and a fun revisit with Art Lafleur shining as a prison guard matched by Patrick Kilpatrick as the killer known as The Sandman.
The Sect (1991) Scorpion Releasing blu ray. Dario Argento produced thriller stars Kelly Curtis as a young woman caught up in a group of devil worshippers and an old man played by Herbert Lom who seems to hold some mysterious key to both the past and the future for our leading lady. Stylish and worth a look for those that like this sort of thing.
A League of Their Own (1992) Columbia DVD.
What a pleasure it was to revisit Penny Marshall’s film chronicling the startup of women’s baseball during WW2 when the men were off to war. Geena Davis hits a homerun as the star player and is matched by Tom Hanks as a washed up ballplayer turned alcoholic serving as the team’s coach. I hadn’t seen this since a trip to the movie theater when it was first released. If you’ve never caught up with it, do yourself a favor and give it a go and remember …. “There’s no crying in baseball!”
TC2000 (1993) Vinegar Syndrome blu ray. Lame action flick of the VHS era with Billy Blanks and Bolo Yeung. Futuristic tale that has a plot not worth repeating here. Yawn…..
Ticks (1993) Vinegar Syndrome blu ray. Plenty of fun in this gross out thriller with plenty of old school F/X and monsters ala The Thing. Giant sized Ticks are on the loose and wreaking havoc for the likes of Clint Howard and a group of youngsters out camping.
Vampires (1998) Scream Factory blu ray.
What’s not to love when John Carpenter directs a kickass vampire flick that puts the focus squarely on foul mouthed James Woods as a Church appointed hunter of vampires. It’s a modern day western with Woods in his prime years as a box office star. Saw it opening night at the theater and love to go back and rewatch it every few years.
as of late …
Zodiac (2007) Paramount DVD. I’d always resisted this David Fincher title assuming it was going to wallow in depravities on screen. Big mistake. It’s a methodical story of three men coming apart in their personal lives while trying to solve the Zodiac killings from the late 60’s onward. Superior performances by Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo and Jake Gyllenhaal. Recommended.
Jungle Cruise (2021) Disney Channel. I liked the set up of this Dwayne Johnson adventure with Emily Blunt and Paul Giamatti joining in but I can’t say I liked the twists and turns it took toward a supernatural tale that involves immortals caught up in a jungle search for wealth and riches. On the other hand I do think it would have been a great movie to sit back and watch with a youngster maybe 8 to 10 years of age. I’ll add it to my list just in case I ever have grandchildren.
The Protege (2021) Netflix.
I see a preview with Maggie Q kicking ass accompanied by Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson sporting firearms and I’m hooked. Robert Patrick an added bonus. Had it’s moments and nice to see Miss Maggie getting the lead role. She’s an assassin out to avenge the death of her handler. Never dull and Keaton a standout.
45 Films seen.
25 new to me.
Most enjoyable revisit goes to A League of Their Own and special mention to Against All Flags. The best of the newbies goes to Naked Alibi for a classic era and title and Zodiac for something post 2000.
Give us a shout and let us your score….. by us I mean Brando and myself.
And please remember at all times that there is no crying in baseball.