April 2017


April 29, 2017 // 3 Comments

  BEST ‘CAPER’ FILM: The Sting (1973)      This selection was a ‘no-brainer’. If Lawrence of Arabia was near-perfect, The Sting is probably a touch better. Quite simply, it is a seamless, brilliant piece of movie-making. Great writing, an ideal cast on the top of their game, and a plot that could easily have had holes galore, yet I cannot find a single one. And all of this capped [...]


April 27, 2017 // 0 Comments

  I was recently asked to name ONE movie in each of a number of genres and categories as my favourite, and ONE in each that I considered to be grossly over-rated. Almost an impossible task, but I promised to take a crack at it. Here are my choices, randomly listed: BEST MUSICAL: Kiss Me Kate (1953)      Cole Porter’s songs are out of this world, witty, melodious and forever memorable. [...]

‘THE LONG SHIPS’ (1964) – what a stupid, stupid movie!

April 25, 2017 // 21 Comments

                            The Long Ships was a somewhat lame British-Yugoslavian joint venture, shot around Belgrade over six months in 1963-4. Initially, Robert Taylor was lined up to play Rolfe, the Norse leader of a gaggle of seafarers bent on finding a huge golden bell known as ‘The Mother of Voices’, but when that idea fell through the producers fixed upon George Peppard [...]

‘THE VIKINGS’ (1958)

April 23, 2017 // 0 Comments

                                    The Vikings was shot in the summer of 1957 when its star, Kirk Douglas, was already 40 years old. Einar, the character he was playing, was supposed to be in his twenties. Well, it’s Hollywood, so close enough is good enough, I guess. Kirk’s age may or may not have had something to do with his generous offer to reward the extra who grew [...]

‘THE LAST VALLEY’ (1971) – a hidden gem.

April 21, 2017 // 0 Comments

  The Last Valley (1971) was panned almost universally, probably because it echoed writer/director James Clavell’s well-known atheism. Churches hate that kind of thing and they had enough clout back then to strongly influence many critics in their reviews. Personally, I thought the script was brilliant, the acting excellent, and John Barry’s incredible score worth the price of [...]

Casting Blunders Pt 1.

April 19, 2017 // 0 Comments

I often watch movies over and over again, just for the pleasure of re-visiting an extraordinary performance. Occasionally, as for instance with Double Indemnity (1944), it is not only an individual performance, but a combination of strong acting from more than one player, a fabulous script, seamless directing, and a score that seems to fit the overall production like a glove. Such combinations do [...]

‘THE BLUE GARDENIA’ (1953) – when film noir was king.

April 17, 2017 // 0 Comments

  As far as film noirs go, The Blue Gardenia rests somewhere near the middle of the genre. It has its moments, but the hurried ending detracts from its overall effectiveness. Indeed, if we didn’t know better, we could be forgiven for thinking that the production suddenly ran out of money, causing director Fritz Lang to suddenly yell, ‘Cut! That’s a wrap.’ A pity really because, [...]

COVER GIRL (1944) – the one and only Rita Hayworth.

April 15, 2017 // 0 Comments

                         Released in the closing years of World War Two, Cover Girl was an ordinary musical comedy featuring Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth, supported by Phil Silvers, Otto Kruger and Eve Arden. With the singular exception of ‘Long Ago and Far Away’ the tunes are dull and mostly tuneless. The choreography, too, is routine and un-memorable, despite Kelly’s [...]

‘A Place in the Sun’ (1951) – an American classic?

April 13, 2017 // 0 Comments

  In 1906 Chester Gillette murdered his pregnant girlfriend Grace Brown on Big Moose Lake in upstate New York. A jury concluded that he rowed her out onto the lake with the sole purpose of drowning her, struck her over the head with a tennis racquet, and watched her sink beneath the waters. Two years later he went to the electric chair at the Auburn Correctional Facility. The papers boasted [...]

Indiana Jones – the good and not so good.

April 11, 2017 // 0 Comments

As shooting on this picture drew to a close, Paramount executives arranged a little surprise for its star Harrison Ford. Chained to a rock and about to be flogged by a turbaned torturer, he was astonished by the sight of Barbra Streisand dressed in black leather and brandishing a phony bullwhip. As she delivered the first lash on his bare back, she chanted: ‘That’s for Hanover Street, the [...]
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