Not only are the MLB Playoffs approaching with the participation of Canada’s team, The Toronto Blue Jays, but hockey season is on its way. It sure is hard to squeeze in a movie a day at times but I’m trying.
Before I get into the round up I have to mention I attended a VHS swap meet and brought along a couple hundred tapes and other assorted movie related items to sell and or trade. Thankfully I found some tapes at the tables of other participants including a Kirk Douglas title I’d long been hoping to come across, and a later day Tony Curtis movie that was shot in my own hometown.
On to the round up.
King of the Underworld (1939) TCM Airing. Great title for a Bogart movie even if it is one of his lesser efforts.
The Frightened Lady (1940) Kino Classics British Noir Vol. 3 DVD. Creepy murder mystery thanks to a demented performance from Marius Goring that is somewhat ahead of its time in the psycho department.
The Silver Fleet (1943) Granada DVD.
Ralph Richardson stars as a shipyard owner in Holland just as the country falls under Nazi rule. He’s looked upon as a traitor by those he employs when he collaborates with the enemy to build them U-Boats. Even his wife, Googie Withers, has her doubts about his intentions. Rousing call to arms with Ralph more then he seems to those around him. Enjoyable film from yesteryear that reminded me what a pleasure it is to see Mr. Richardson on screen.
The Lady from Shanghai (1947) Indicator blu ray. Classic Noir from actor/director Orson Welles starring his then wife Rita Hayworth and Everett Sloane. Love the camera work in this one that finds Orson playing patsy to murder. But just who is the intended victim and who is pulling the strings? A must see.
Big Timber (1950) Rarefilmm : The Cave of Forgotten Films.
Rare indeed. This Monogram feature is one of 6 that a young Roddy McDowall produced and starred in. Here he signs on to a lumber company working the woods where he’ll learn what it takes to be a man. Decent effort directed by workhorse, Jean Yarbrough that also stars Lyle Talbot.
Borderline (1950) TCM Airing. Noir entry with its tongue in cheek far too often. Still, it’s an enjoyable effort when Claire Trevor is sent down to Mexico to get information on a narcotics ring run by Raymond Burr. At the same time, she’ll also run afoul of another gangster, Fred MacMurray, who ultimately offers up romance and might not be all that he seems. Plenty of action keeps the film moving at a brisk pace.
Gold Raiders (1951) WB DVD. Standard “B” western with George O’Brien once again taming a town of outlaws led by Lyle Talbot who hides behind a suit while his gang attempt to rob a gold shipment. Tired plot, same old thing BUT, the Three Stooges are shoehorned into the story (perhaps horseshoed is a better word) as traveling salesmen who George enlists to lend a hand. The boys (Moe, Larry and Shemp) are up to their old tricks with plenty of slapstick gags that give this oater a notch up over it’s B circuit competition.
Assignment: Paris (1952) Mill Creek Noir Archive Collection Vol. 1 blu ray.
Dana Andrews stars as a newspaper reporter working for editor George Sanders. While on assignment in communist Hungary he’ll be arrested as a spy which leads to an international incident. Noir favorite Audrey Totter also stars but is sadly underused. Not bad.
Tight Spot (1955) Indicator Columbia Noir Vol. 2 blu ray. Eddie G. Robinson and Brian Keith are determined to put gangster Lorne Greene behind bars and the way to do it is to have his onetime moll, Ginger Rogers, testify against him in a courtroom. This marks her for death unless Eddie and Brian can keep her on ice and alive until her court appearance. Not bad.
Dial Red 0 (1955) Warner Archive DVD. Short yet nifty Noir thriller that has Paul Picerni murdering his mistress just as her incarcerated husband, Keith Larsen escapes from prison. Larsen is the obvious suspect but as the plot thickens, Detective Bill Elliott isn’t so sure.
The Secret of Monte Cristo (1961) TCM Airing.
Leaving his six shooter back in Hollywood, Rory Calhoun, went overseas for this British effort that has him with a Sabre in one hand and a damsel in the other. The year is 1815 and Rory is enlisted in a dangerous mission where a quartet of fortune hunters make their way to a sparsely inhabited island to locate a long-buried treasure. Thieves and treachery await in this standard fare that makes for a nice lazy afternoon viewing.
The Crawling Hand (1963) VCI DVD. Low budget tale stars Alan Hale Jr. as a small town sheriff trying to solve a mysterious murder. There’s a strangler on the loose but the finger prints that have been lifted at the scene belong to an astronaut who died in an explosion when his rocket was coming back to Earth. In other words, there’s a severed hand with the power to take over the mind of others to do its evil bidding. No kidding.
Kill a Dragon (1967) TCM Airing. Jack Palance and Aldo Ray take on crime king Fernando Lamas in Hong Kong.
Stranger on The Run (1967) Kino Lorber Studio Classics. blu ray.
Don Siegel telefilm that stars Henry Fonda as a down and out cowboy in an unfriendly town. He’s drowning in a bottle of booze and finds himself wrongly accused of killing a woman forcing him to run. Michael Parks plays the sheriff who sets out to hunt him down. Sal Mineo, Anne Baxter and Dan Duryea co star. Rather dull affair but I will say Duryea turns in a fine performance as an aging lawman who has had his fill of senseless killing and violence.
Bedazzled (1967) Twilight Time blu ray. Classic, warped comedy with Dudley Moore selling his soul to the Devil as played by Peter Cook. All for the love of a girl, Eleanor Bron. Hilarity ensues as Dudley is constantly tricked by Cook as he goes about using up his seven wishes. Raquel Welch as Lust? Might be the best casting decision in the history of film. So, you didn’t know there was an earlier version of the enjoyable Brendan Fraser/Elizabeth Hurley film? Yes, there is and it’s a comedic gem.
The Fourth Victim (1971) Severin blu ray. Carroll Baker stars opposite Michael Craig in this thriller that has Craig as being very unlikely when it comes to wives. He’s been widowed three times and suspected of killing each one. Could Miss Baker be number 4? Plot twists abound in this Eugenio Martin (Horror Express) Giallo entry.
The Boxer from Shantung (1972) Arrow Video Shawscope Collection Vol. 1 blu ray.
Kuan Tai Chen stars in the title role as the young fighter who has come to the city looking to remove the current “Bosses” who control the underworld where everyone pays them tribute. Great score in this one with superior fight scenes and one of the bloodier finales of the period that gives The Wild Bunch a good run for its money. I must say the film looks great so thanks to Arrow for this superb collection.
Blood Ceremony (1973) Mondo Macabro blu ray. Covers similar ground as Hammer’s Countess Dracula minus Ingrid Pitt. This time it’s Lucia Bose starring as the blood thirsty Countess who learns that bathing in the blood of virgins keeps her skin young and soft. Rather uninvolving considering the subject material.
The Day the Earth Moved (1974) Echo Bridge DVD. TV Movie of the week starring Jackie Cooper as a small-time flyer who gets railroaded in a hick desert town that includes William Windom and Beverly Garland. When he realizes that an earthquake is imminent, he does his best to fly everyone to safety. Typical feature of the week from the era. Also stars Stella Stevens as his gal and Cleavon Little as his co-pilot.
The Take (1974) Mill Creek blu ray. Billy Dee Williams tangles with mobster Vic Morrow.
Cry of a Prostitute (1974) Code Red blu ray. Hard hitting mafioso tale from Italy that finds hitman Henry Silva involved with dueling families in a very Yojimbo like plot. Violent sure but there’s a nasty sex scene involving Silva and Barbara Bouchet that is uncalled for and again towards the end. Had it on the shelf and with Silva’s passing I thought I’d give it a first time watch. Not bad but a bit too far at times where Miss Bouchet is concerned. The title? Doesn’t really fit and was used for exploitation purposes I should think.
Bound for Glory (1976) Twilight Time blu ray.
There’s an authentic feel to this Hal Ashby directed film starring David Carradine as the depression era singer, Woody Guthrie. Probably one of David’s finest performances and easily one of his best movies. Also stars Ronny Cox and both he and David sing and strum guitars to a number of well-known songs that the real-life Guthrie penned while riding the rails. Recommended.
Mardi Gras Massacre (1978) Severin blu ray. I guess the title tells all in this film that seems to be heavily influenced by the work of Herschell Gordon Lewis. Specifically, the 1964 gruesome affair, Blood Feast. Low budget? You bet.
Rehearsal For Murder (1982) Simitar DVD. Mystery movie of the week on network television plays like an Agatha Christie tale. All that’s missing is Angela Lansbury. Robert Preston stars as a playwright who uses his latest play to solve the murder of his fiancé, Lynn Redgrave, an actress whose death was ruled a suicide. Preston believes one of her costars at the time murdered her. He reunites the cast one year later to read for his latest play hoping to unveil her killer. Among the suspects are Patrick Macnee, Jeff Goldblum and Madolyn Smith. Nice to see Preston do his thing in one of his final roles.
A Breed Apart (1984) Shout Factory blu ray.
Donald Pleasence hires mountain climber Powers Boothe to steal some eggs from a Bald Eagle’s nest located on a small inland island. Boothe’s obstacle is that the island is owned by Rutger Hauer who intends to see the eggs hatch in order that the endangered species may flourish. A little bit different with Kathleen Turner costarring as Hauer’s love interest. Pleasence is only in it for a few minutes to bookend the film and damn near steals the show.
Spookies (1986) Vinegar Syndrome blu ray. Plenty of old school F/X in this VHS era horror flick that pretty much tosses everything at us for 85 minutes. Zombies rising from the grave. A werewolf like creature, teens wanting to have sex, a Ouija board with ominous warnings, a creepy graveyard, an Angus Scrimm like character and an abandoned mansion where two carloads of travelers seek refuge and shelter only to be murdered in various bloody methods. Made on the cheap but a tip of the hat for the effort put forth.
Deadly Prey (1987) Olive Films. David A. Prior directs brother Ted in this wanna be Rambo flick. Ted gets picked up off the street and is forced to run for his life by a group of mercenaries who train by hunting people. Sadly, they had no idea that Prior was a highly decorated killing machine from his days in the military. Also stars Cameron Mitchell and Troy Donahue. Low budget and it shows but all in all its passable for the audience it’s aiming at.
Through the Fire (1988) Vinegar Syndrome blu ray. Super low budget thriller with Linda Blair look-a-like, Tamara Hext, picking up a firearm and taking on a satanic cult with mixed results.
Raw Nerve (1991) Culture Shock blu ray.
Passable B flick from low budget specialist David A. Prior who employs his actor/brother Ted once again. There’s a serial killer on the loose and Police Capt. Glenn Ford wants him stopped. Jan-Michael Vincent is the detective on the case and believes Prior to be his number one suspect. Then again maybe it’s Randall Tex Cobb. Also stars Traci Lords as Prior’s younger sister and possibly the next victim. I suppose the most notable thing about this movie is the fact that it was Ford’s final theatrical film.
as of late ….
Snatch (2000) Screen Gems DVD.
Surely, you’ve seen this gangland classic from Guy Ritchie. The one with Brad Pitt, Jason Statham, Vinnie Jones, Dennis Farina, Benicio Del Toro and Rade Serbedzija. No? Then drop what you’re doing and get to it. Classic. I hadn’t seen it in a while and went to watch another title I had on DVD and before that movie started a trailer advertising Snatch kicked in prompting me to change my mind and eject one disc for the real deal. As I said, it had been a while and I had a great time revisiting this underworld tale.
Rage (2014) Eone DVD. Nicolas Cage action drama has merit but somehow needed a better delivery considering the powerful twist at the end. He’s a retired mobster who’s past comes back to haunt him when his daughter is kidnapped and murdered. He calls upon old friends and the trio singlehandedly start a mob war. Peter Stormare and Danny Glover also star.
Darkest Hour (2017) Crave TV.
Gary Oldman’s Oscar winning turn as Winston Churchill. Well made and inspiring. Been meaning to watch this for a while and since I’ve embarked on reading Churchill’s books on the WW2 years, beginning with The Gathering Storm, now’s the time. I’m currently in the first follow-up book, Their Finest Hour. I find it ironic that Oldman who is known to play some of the great screen villains over the past 30 odd years wins the Oscar for playing someone history looks upon as heroic. At least that’s my interpretation. Good movie for history buffs and those looking to learn about the past who might not be interested in reading up on it.
The Lost City (2022) Amazon Prime. Let’s be honest. I want to like this film and yes I laughed on occasion but it’s a missed opportunity and DAMN I hate crappy CGI. Sandra Bullock stars as a writer who along with Channing Tatum enter the world of Romancing the Stone where Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner did it far better. Daniel Radcliffe gets to chew the scenery as a Bond-like villain, but the film plays it light meaning he isn’t going to pay the price for his misdeeds. If you feel you must, give it a shot or maybe watch the trailer as it’s better than the movie as a whole.
Me Time (2022) Netflix.
Shoddy CGI again alongside Kevin Hart shenanigans only this time he’s teamed with Mark Wahlberg instead of D.J. He’s a stay-at-home Dad who finds reuniting with old pla Mark is going to have some consequences with his marriage and the trouble he gets in to. Sure, I laughed at times but it’s totally forgettable.
34 Films Seen
24 new to me.
The most enjoyable revisit? I’m going with Bedazzled. I watched it with Number 2 son, Kirk, and we both had a great time appreciating the performances and the smartly written script. I will add it was nice to revisit both Bound for Glory and Snatch once again.
Of the new to me titles I’d like to recommend The Silver Fleet for a classic era title and for something more recent I guess it would have to be Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour.
On to October and my own personal horrorfest. My goal is to watch 31 blu ray titles released by Scream Factory. I’ve got plenty of them sitting on the shelf.
Let me add that I’m giving Letterboxd a try. It’s an app where you can keep track of what you watch but also check out what others are watching. If you know of the App you can find me with the handle MikesTake.
Feedback always welcomed so let Brando the Weiner Dog and yours truly know how many of these you’ve seen.
R.I.P. Henry Silva 1926-2022.