Baseball games on TV, summer holidays and a trip to Nova Scotia. Still I found time for revisiting old favorites and discovering new to me titles in the world of movies.
Nosferatu (1922) Eureka blu ray.
The famous silent movie that was supposed to have all prints destroyed after Bram Stoker’s widow won her court claim that the film stole the story of her husband’s famed novel Dracula even if all the character names had been changed. No doubt that was indeed the case but thankfully this film survived against all odds to rightfully claim it’s place among both silent and horror film classics. Max Shreck’s iconic make up job still haunts to this day. Hard to believe it’s 100 years old!
The Informer (1935) WB DVD.
What the hell took me so long to watch this John Ford classic. I was blown away watching this Irish tale with Victor McLaglen magnificent in the title role. The script, the photography and the actors make this one a must see. Not surprising it won Oscars for both Ford and McLaglen. This will certainly make my list of the best new to me films I will have seen in 2022. Highest recommendation!
The General Died at Dawn (1936) Kino Lorber Studio Classics blu ray. Top flight actioner as Gary Cooper finds himself at odds with a Chinese Warlord played by Akim Tamiroff and in love with Madeleine Carroll. Enjoyable Coop flick from the moment he belts a rude loud mouth in the opening scene and having Porter Hall, William Frawley and Philip Ahn tag along only adds to the entertainment. From Oscar winning director Lewis Milestone this one is easy to recommend.
Spendthrift (1936) rarefilmm.com
In my world this is a very rare Henry Fonda flick from director Raoul Walsh. It’s a light screwball affair that finds a wealthy Fonda living above his means involved in horse racing. He’s taken by a gold digger when he should have been looking in the direction of the horse trainer’s girl next door daughter. Trust me, he’ll come around.
The Invisible Man Returns (1940) Universal Classic Monsters Set blu ray. The so called second wave of horror films from Universal Studios saw them resurrect the Invisible Man theme with the voice of Vincent Price taking center stage as the man no one can see. He’s out to take revenge upon the scoundrel who framed him for murder and with a little help from Dr. John Sutton who has injected him with the serum to give him his power of invisibility he sets out on his quest. Now he just has to bring Sir Cedric Hardwick to justice. Enjoyable time filler.
Gambling On the High Seas (1940) TCM.
Enjoyable “B” flick with Wayne Morris as a reporter whose gal, Jane Wyman, works on a floating gambling den run by Gilbert Roland. Yeah, Amigo, isn’t exactly dealing from a straight deck and that roulette wheel might be rigged. At less then one hour in length this is not only fun but easy to shoehorn into a tight schedule.
Dr. Cyclops (1940) Kino Lorber Studio Classics blu ray. Excellent fantasy piece filmed in color with a bald Albert Dekker sporting coke bottle specs making like Peter Lorre with the power to shrink animals and people down to miniature size. A precursor to The Incredible Shrinking Man and TV shows like Land of the Giants. While the overall plot might be standard this is a superior F/X film for it’s time.
Framed (1947) Indicator blu ray. Noir entry with Glenn Ford tangling with murder, money and a devious blonde.
Apache (1954) Kino Lorber Studio Classics blu ray.
The title role has Burt Lancaster starring in this Robert Aldrich western alongside Jean Peters as the woman who stands by him through his struggles to at first fight back against the whites and then to maintain his dignity. It’s standard stuff but Burt’s star power carries the film and it’s always a pleasure to see one of the great character actors, John McIntire, do his thing on camera. Charles Buchinski plays the Apache warrior at McIntire’s side as they track Lancaster. Buchinski was soon to become much better known as Bronson.
Men of the Fighting Lady (1954) Warner Archive DVD. Ho hum Korean war tale of fighting men on an aircraft carrier manning the planes and sky battles. The cast drew me in. Van Johnson, Walter Pidgeon, Keenan Wynn, Dewey Martin and Frank Lovejoy. As a curio, Louis Calhern, plays author James A. Michener on board the carrier gathering research for a new novel. At 79 minutes it’s just a “B” time filler with a flashy cast.
Treasure of Ruby Hills (1955) Timeless Media DVD. Zachary Scott rides the trail as the good guy? Not to worry, Lee Van Cleef, turns up as a heavy.
3:10 to Yuma (1957) Columbia DVD. Classic western not to be overlooked starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin.
Jet Over The Atlantic (1959) rarefilmm.com
A laugh out loud camp fest. Guy Madison is arrested by George Raft just as he’s to marry Virginia Mayo. Apparently he’s wanted back in the U.S.A. for murder. In Airport fashion a bunch of characters board a flight home which includes a suicidal George Macready who is plotting to blow the plane up. Unbelievable plot twists abound including Raft allowing a priest on the flight to marry Guy and Virginia. Enjoyable for the wrong reasons. The Zuckers and Jim Abrahams should have purchased the rights to this one as a template for the Airplane 2 sequel as they had used 1960’s Zero Hour for their 1980 hit comedy Airplane.
The Gallant Hours (1960) Kino Lorber Studio Classics blu ray.
James Cagney was one year away from a 20 year retirement when he took on this Navy picture that looks back at the career of Admiral “Bull” Halsey with Cagney in the lead role. Black and White it plays like a film that could have been made in the 40’s and with Cagney involved I guess that’s no surprise. Needed a bigger cast to play opposite Jimmy though it’s still not a bad flick from director/actor Robert Montgomery.
All the Colors of the Dark (1972) Severin blu ray.
Stylish direction and a musical score to match for this Giallo flick starring the incomparable Edwige Fenech but that’s as far as it goes. Kind of boring I thought but maybe a second go around is warranted as I will admit to being tired and a little unfocused while watching. A 2000 mile road trip can do that to you. George Hilton costars.
The Borrowers (1973) Digiview DVD. Childhood fave with Eddie Albert
Turkey Shoot (1982) Anchor Bay DVD. Exploitation flick from Down Under is a must see if you like this kind of thing. Steve Railsback stars in a cross between prison flicks and The Most Dangerous Game. Society outsiders are dumped on an island that serves as a prison with degenerates for guards who prey upon the women including Olivia Hussey. She and Railsback will take their chances in the jungles to outrun the hunters who have paid for the privilege to kill. Over the top violence and plenty of action for us fans. I’ll be watching this one again. AKA Escape 2000.
Hanky Panky (1982) Columbia DVD. One look at Gene Wilder and I’m laughing.
The Shadow Riders (1982) Cineco DVD. Telefilm from the pen of Louis L’amour stars Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott returning home from opposing sides of the Civil War learning that their womenfolk including Katharine Ross (Mrs. Sam Elliott) have been kidnapped by carpetbaggers to be sold into the slave trade. Along with old pro Ben Johnson they ride the trail to bring the ladies home. OK effort and somewhat of a reunion film for western favorites Ben, Harry Carey Jr., Gene Evans, R.G. Armstrong and Andrew V. McLaglen directing. Lead villain? The lovable Geoffrey Lewis.
The Initiation (1984) Arrow Video blu ray. I pulled this off the shelf after hearing that Clu Gulager had passed away. I’d yet to see this one. He’s paired with another veteran, Vera Miles, in a slasher flick that is par for the course featuring plenty of young teens getting knocked off in stylish fashions with a required amount of nudity included. OK I suppose but if you want to see Clu in a classic thriller, then it’s 1985’s Return of the Living Dead all the way.
Avenging Angel (1985) Vinegar Syndrome blu ray. Second film in the series that sees Angel returning to the streets to avenge the death of a good friend. Nice to see Rory Calhoun once again coming to Angel’s aid when the guns are drawn and the bullets are flying overhead. Ossie Davis adds some class to the proceedings.
Angel III : The Final Chapter (1988) Vinegar Syndrome blu ray. For my money this was the most enjoyable film of the series with Mitzi Kapture taking over the role of Angel. Plays very much like a Cannon Production which is maybe why I liked it even if I know it’s an exploitation flick. Plenty of action gets packed into the proceedings when Angel tries to save her sister from a life of drugs and prostitution. Richard Roundtree and Maud Adams also turn up for the fun and a paycheck.
Savage Harbor (1987) Vinegar Syndrome blu ray. MITCHUM and STALLONE!
Not what you think. Laughably bad but damn I enjoyed this Frank Stallone action pic that has Christopher Mitchum joining him in the fun. Made on the cheap the pair are a couple of sailors on land finding love in strip bars and cathouses but when Frank falls for the gal of his dreams and they decide to wed, mobster Anthony Caruso who she once played around with turns mean. Savagery and vigilante justice follow.
As of late ….
The Duke (2020) Netflix.
A truly entertaining film with Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren. Based on a true story of 1960, Broadbent, finds himself on trial for stealing a famous painting and becomes a hero to the people for the reasons why. Both actors are on top of their game making this one easy to recommend and one I can see myself revisiting.
Day Shift (2022) Netflix. Jamie Foxx and Snoop Dogg as crusading vampire hunters? Count me in. Likable flick with plenty of vampire action even if I wasn’t in favor of a key plot development with Dave Franco. But hey it’s also got Peter Stormare in it which practically guarantees it’s worth checking out. If you liked John Carpenter’s Vampires ……
Samaritan (2022) Amazon Prime.
Time for some Sly Stallone. Interesting tale of a one time super hero presumed dead while fighting his arch nemesis who also perished in their major battle. Kind of like Sherlock Holmes apparent death at the Reichenbach Falls against Professor Moriarty. Another likable character and performance from Stallone as an old timer living quietly working as a garbage man who befriends a young boy while crime in the city is on the rise. Sounds like the aging superhero may have to resurface.
26 Films Seen
15 new to me titles
The most enjoyable revisit? Having drove 2000 KMS to Nova Scotia and watching 3:10 to Yuma with my 83 year old Dad makes it the clear cut winner. I’m still fortunate enough to be able to watch a western with him on occasion which of course sends me back to my early years when we watched plenty.
Of the new to me titles it’s clearly The Informer for an older film while The Duke is a recent one that I’d say I enjoyed the most.
September already? Where does the time go and how am I going to catch up on these films I’ve piled a mile high here in the movie room? All we can do is try. Right Brando?
Feedback welcomed as always.
A stellar round-up as always Mike, I look forward to these every month. I too can’t believe Nosferatu is a century old; that it still interests people after all these years is a testament to its immortality. I’ve never seen Ford’s The Informer, but I know it was a big influence on Sergio Leone for the character John Mallory and his backstory in Giu la Testa (Duck You Sucker). I tried watching All the Colors of the Dark a couple of times, but I just couldn’t get into it despite having a good cast with Edwige Fenech, George Hilton, Nieves Navarro, and Ivan Rassimov. I love The Shadow Riders, a solid old school style Western with the great Sam Elliot and Ben Johnson. There’s a Blu ray of it out in Germany I plan on picking up soon.
I can see that Leone connection as he was a “disciple” of Ford. Hope you track down the Informer, pure classic! Sounds like we agree on Miss Fenech’s film. Nice to see Riders getting a blu release. I think it’s just on DVD here in N.A. Thanks for stopping in.
Plenty classics this month – Nosferatu, The Informer, Apache, 3.10 to Yuma and, from a different persepective, Angel III. I’m not familiar with Spendthrift but Fonda was very good in those early comedies. I remember seeing Turkey Shoot at the cinema when it came out, though it was sold more as a kind of sci fi than exploitation. What happened to Hollywood that the latest Stallone shoot-em-up can’t get a cinema release? Not so keen on the vampires – if it’s streaming funded the standards are likley to be low.
Just reminded myself of Turkey Shoot on Youtube. The wereworlf and the lesbian on horseback with the crossbow – out of this world.
Somehow I deleted your previous comment. No idea how as I was typing and must have hit the wrong key. I was about to say a good thing John Ford rescued Fonda from those drawing room comedies otherwise he may have had a much shorter career. Turkey Shoot a laughably enjoyable piece of drive-in fare.
I always thought he was overshadowed by the female stars in those comedies and he never showed Spencer Tracy’s knack although one of his last successes with Lucille was comedy.
You’re so right about Jet Plane Over the Atlantic — what a turkey. But rarefilmm.com deserves a lot of credit for making obscurities like this available, An invaluable resource.
LOL. Should be required viewing for all the wrong reasons and best watched with a group of film buffs. Yes, I’ve seen a few titles on rare film that have eluded me for decades. Most appreciated.