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cinemalover
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Post by cinemalover »

Chris,
The singer du jour was an annoying habit in several of the Duke's films, and as you suggest was surely an economic decision to draw a few extra young bodies through the turnstiles.

The one guy that I was actually impressed with in this role was Glen Campbell in True Grit. Yeah, he was really bad in the early scenes, but he seemed to get much more comfortable as the film progressed. He appeared to gain confidence in his ability to stand next to the living legend. He made for a nice "All-American Boy" figure in contrast with Wayne's cantankerous drunk, Rooster Cogburn.
Chris

The only bad movie is no movie at all.
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

Well, gentlemen, as far as I'm concerned you can keep your Bobby Vinton, and I'm only mildly interested in Fabian, but gimme plenty of Rick Nelson, with or without the Duke.
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Post by cinemalover »

Judith,
At least Ricky had plenty of acting experience on the family TV show so he wasn't a complete fish out of water. He was defintely better than either Fabian or Bobby V.
Chris

The only bad movie is no movie at all.
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Post by mrsl »

Earlier today on another thread, I mentioned that the Glen Campbell part was originally offered to Elvis, as well as Ricky's part in Rio Bravo. I always wondered how those movies would have turned out with him in those parts. He did a great cowboy (e.g. Charro, Love Me Tender, and senior moment - the one with Dolores Del Rio), I'm definitely getting old when I can't recall the name of an Elvis movie!!!!

Anne
Anne


***********************************************************************
* * * * * * * * What is past is prologue. * * * * * * * *

]***********************************************************************
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Post by cinemalover »

Wow, Anne, I had never heard that.

The idea of Elvis playing opposite the Duke would have added an entirely different chemistry to the film. One can only wonder how much the final product would have varied from what turned out to be a very good movie.
Chris

The only bad movie is no movie at all.
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The Stranger Returns #550

Post by cinemalover »

Here is the sequel to A Stranger in Town

Date watched: 7/15/2008
Title: The Stranger Returns (Un Uomo, Un Cavello, Una Pistola) Made: 1967
Genre: Spaghetti Western Studio: Juventus Films/MGM
Format: DVD-R Source--TCM
Number of times viewed: First

Director: Vance Lewis (Luigi Vanzi)

Stars:
Tony Anthony—The Stranger
Daniele Vargas—Good Jim
Marco Guglielmi—Preacher
Jim Banner—Caroline
Marina Berti—Ethel
Dan Vadis—En Plein
Raf Baldassarre—Chrysler
Ettore Manni—Lt. George Stafford
Giuseppe Addobbati—Mr. Stanley

Tagline:
Trap him! Tease him! Throw him in a coffin…but don’t get the Stranger mad!

Story: When the film opens we are left to decide a very important question, which is the bigger sissy, the Stranger or his big black horse? The Stranger rides into the frame holding a pink parasol to protect his delicate skin from the penetrating rays of the sun. Moments later, when the Stranger dismounts, for a brief rest on his travels we see his rearing up in a startled panic, whipping his hoofs in the air at an invisible intruder. The Stranger quickly draws his gun expecting the worst. He slowly walks towards the brush that is hiding that which frightened his big stud of a horse (who is named Pussy). His investigation reveals that his horse was scared by a bunny rabbit. A silly start to the movie, but it immediately signals the audience that this film is going to have a much better sense of humor about itself than did the original.

Postal Inspector Ross (a Lee Van Cleef look-a-like) informs a gang of killers that there is $200,000 on a stage headed their way. The soldiers assigned to guard the stage are hours behind due to a delay, the pickin’s will be easy if they strike fast. When the postal inspector attempts to collect his pieces of silver for his treachery he instead collects a bullet in the back from En Plein (Vadis), the leader of the pack.

The shot echoes out over the desert plain and attracts the attention of the Stranger. By the time he reaches the origin of the shot he finds the inspector laying face down, dead in a water trough. The Stranger finds this very disrespectful and begins to pull the body out of the water. Then two of the gang, who had remained behind when the rest of the gang rode out, appear to confront the Stranger, barrels first. They insist that since he’s so upset by the condition of the inspector that he can go ahead and dig a grave for him in the rock hard ground. And while he’s at it he can dig another one for himself. He follows the orders and completes two graves, only you can guess which bodies take up permanent occupancy. The Stranger is intrigued by the events and is curious to learn why someone wanted a postal inspector dead. He takes the inspector’s identity papers and proceeds towards the closest town.

When the Stranger rides into town he hears the words of the Preacher (Guglielmi), whom is spreading the good word. That good word seems to rub the men who are on the wrong side of the law raw. The remaining members of En Plein’s gang are hanging about town and don’t want to hear want the Preacher has to say. They start to pick on the Preacher, telling him to shut up…or else. The Stranger intercedes, telling them that he wants to listen to his words and they should just leave him alone. This is all the excuse these bad boys need to pick a fight and they do everything they can to instigate the stranger into drawing against their combined forces. He turns the other cheek and walks away with the Preacher in tow. The Stranger asks his new found friend who the trouble-makers are.

Preacher, “Around here they call them the Treasure of the Border.”
Stranger, “What?”
Preacher, “All together they’re worth $10,000 in rewards.”
Stranger (whistling to show that he’s impressed with the total), “The one who did the shooting, what’s his name?”
Preacher, “En Plein, that’s what they call him. Do you know what En Plein means?”
Stranger, “Dead center. Never misses!”
Preacher, “Uh-huh. Are you going back there?” (Where the gang is)
Stranger, “Fact is, I like places that smell of trouble. Something good might turn up.”

He gets that smell of trouble even quicker than anticipated when three of the bandits ride up rapidly from behind to collect the Stranger. They have learned that their two comrades back at the water trough were murdered and they suspect that the Stranger may be responsible. They begin to interrogate him to get the information they seek. Just as things are getting interesting the interrogation is interrupted by word that the stage is on its way. Two of the gang are assigned to take the Stranger out back and very quietly kill him while the rest prepare to capture the stage. Needless to say, death does strike quickly, and quietly, but it is the Stranger who remains standing while the bad guy corpse total reaches four.

While our hero disposes of his captors the remainder of the gang has positioned itself to greet the incoming stage. The stage was just making a quick stop to refresh the horses but the gang has positioned itself to easily pick off the passengers and guards on the stage, leaving bodies sucking dirt. The killers escape with the stage’s contents.

Moments later the cavalry troop, led by Lt. George Stafford (Manni), arrive to take up guardianship of the valuable stage. Too little too late as they weren’t in time to save lives or the stage’s payday. The Stranger steps forward and introduces himself as the deceased postal inspector. He says that he witnessed the crime and he recognized the leader of the group, En Plein, from a wanted poster. He shows the soldiers which way they rode out and Lt. Stafford orders his men to pursue.

Once the soldiers have left, the local postal inspector, Good Jim (Vargas), volunteers to drive the stage to its destination, supposedly so that the mail will get through. He pulls out of town leaving the still stunned townsfolk to deal with the mess. As he’s approaching the outskirts of town he finds the preacher waving him down. When he slows to stop he learns that the stage had another passenger as well, the Stranger was napping inside the cabin. Jim now has two passengers when the Preacher boards, but this won’t deter his plans. He pulls the stage into the small town where the bandits are waiting for him. The gang had left a false trail to send the cavalry on a wild goose chase and had planned to meet Good Jim, who is obviously in cahoots with them. The gang takes the Stranger as their prisoner and reveal that the $200,000 had not been “on” the stage, but was the stage itself. The body of the stage was constructed of gold and covered with a thin layer of wood to hide its value. They have an identical stage made up and waiting and Good Jim will continue his journey with the imitation and no one will know for sure who ended up with the golden stage.

Then the fun begins for the gang when they celebrate their accomplishment by dragging the Stranger around the streets behind the stage. They intend on having a really good time at the annoying Stanger’s expense. But En Plein is not the only one capable of planning and executing acts of treachery. Good Jim craftily switches the two stages so that the one he leaves with is really the golden goose. The Preacher witnessed the switch and informs the Stranger. It doesn’t take En Plein long to figure that he’s been duped, and like the Hulk, you won’t like him when he’s angry. The men chase after Good Jim whom they track to his home where he was picking up his wife and pretty daughter. The Stranger magically shows up too, just in time to save the woman from sharing their man’s fate as Good Jim becomes good and dead for his betrayal.

The Stranger and the gang play a game of ‘tag” with bullets throughout the grouping of buildings that surround Good Jim’s home. The Preacher provides the Stranger with his special four barreled shotgun to help even the odds. In the middle of the battle the Stranger is tempted by a snack when he passes through a kitchen laid out with food. When one of the villains makes the same choice when following the Stranger it becomes his last meal. The game of bullets and hide n’ seek will continue until there is one winner.

This film is not nearly as sadistic as the first Stranger film and is sprinkled much more generously with comic bits and pieces. Tony Anthony takes more of a Terrence Hill approach to the character, similar to Hill's character in the Trinity series. The Stranger’s motives are sometimes ambiguous and often not altruistic, which is the perfect formula for a Spaghetti Western. In this second outing as the Stranger Anthony seems much more comfortable in the boots and begins to develop a personality of his own.

This is a quality example of the Euro-Western that distinguishes itself from decades of American interpretations. The hero who looks out for himself first and foremost but is instilled with a contempt for those who’s actions imperil the innocent bystanders. He’ll only get involved to save a pretty face or a child, or to partake in a fortune. He’ll never end up with the girl, most of the time he’ll never even get physically involved with them, which may bring his sexual orientation into question. Is the hero asexual with his gunplay substituting for his personal gratification? All these questions come into play with so many of the Spaghetti heroes.

The score includes an eclectic mixture of styles and instruments which keeps the action lively.

7* (out of 10) A good horse ride filled with action and a unique (if sometimes overly complicated) plot.
Chris

The only bad movie is no movie at all.
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Post by Hollis »

Hey, wottsa motta you?

Youse guys got somethin bad to say about my South Philly boy Fabian Forte? Ricky Nelson can sleep with the fishes! Next ting ya know, youse'll be sayin' sumthin' bout Bobby Rydell! TimeLife don't use just nobody in their infomoishals! Woid to the wise(guys,) lay off the Paisanos... Hey Vito, more garlic bread!
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Renegade #551

Post by cinemalover »

The gift that keeps on giving, the Grindhouse Collection Volume 2….

Date watched: 7/16/2008
Title: Renegade Made: 1987
Genre: Family Adventure
Format: DVD Extras—Dubbed, FS.
Number of times viewed: First

Directed by Enzo Barboni

Stars:
Terrence Hill—Luke “Renegade Luke” Mantie
Robert Vaughn—Lawson
Ross Hill (Terrence’s son)—Matt
Norman Bowler—Moose
Donald Hudson—Ely
Beatrice Palme—Tallulha
Lisa Ann Rubin—Melody
Luisa Maneri—Petula
Valeria Sabel—Rachel
Cole S. McKay—Trucker
Curt Bortel—Trucker
Joe Krieg—Chickadee
Jannel Robinson—Police Woman

Plot: Luke (Hill) is a loner that tools around the country in his open Jeep, pulling a horse trailer behind him that houses his best friend, his horse named Joe Brown. Luke doesn’t have a job of profession per se, but he does have a method for collecting cash every time his wallet comes up empty. He sells Joe Brown to some unsuspecting rube that thinks he’s getting a great buy on a quality animal. Luke than parks a mile down the road and waits. Inevitably, Joe Brown returns like a lost cat, having ditched his new owner. The two continue their travels, a little richer for the transaction.

One day when Luke is minding his own business, eating in a greasy spoon roadside diner, a 14 year old punk kid named Matt (Ross Hill) approaches him. After verifying that he is talking to “the” Renegade Luke the boy tells hi that his father is an old friend of his. His dad is Moose (Bowler) and he’s in prison after being convicted of vehicular manslaughter. He would appreciate if Luke would go and visit him which he does.

Moose has two interesting pieces of news to share. The first is that he won a big chunk of land in a poker game, the second is that he’s named Luke as guardian for his boy, Matt. Moose requests that Luke take Matt to the property and settle down to look after Matt while he’s locked up. Luke falters at the door of responsibility and tries to find excuses not to do it.

Moose (in a reassuring way), “He’ll grow on ya’!”
Luke, “Like athlete’s foot!”

Luke reluctantly agrees to take on a new sidekick and matt joins Luke and Joe Brown on the road. They quickly get into a dispute with a couple of bone-headed truckers which becomes a running gag for the remainder of the film. They also have a run in with a huge motorcycle gang that they are only saved from by Matt’s past association with one of the younger members.

When Luke and Matt locate Moose’s property they find a rundown shack with no electricity. Neither Luke nor Matt can find any redeeming factors on the property until they meet their new neighbors. Next to their property is Ely (Hudson), who runs an Amish-like farm, has several very attractive daughters that peak both Luke and Matt’s interest. Just as things are looking interesting trouble arrives in a helicopter. Two suits from the Lawson Company emerge to talk business with Luke, since he is the acting owner of the property. They want to purchase the property for the Lawson Company and are disappointed when Luke informs them that it’s not for sale.

Suit #1 (giving Luke a gentle warning), “You’re steppin’ in high water, friend, over your head! I wouldn’t cross Mr. Lawson!”

When the veiled threat produces no different result the suits call in two goons that were waiting in the chopper. They stroll up full of confidence in their ability to persuade Luke to change his mind. They are met by a slammed door and then the business ends of Luke’s fists as he sends his unwelcome guests on their way. They promise that Luke has not heard the last of this.

To celebrate their victory against the Lawson thugs, Luke and Matt go on a double date with two of the farmer’s daughters. We are then subjected to a montage of their merry activities orchestrated to the lyrics of a lousy 80’s love song. It’s uneven transitions like this that prevent the film from rising above mediocrity.

When the boys return home they find that Joe Brown is acting up to draw their attention. As they go to see what’s wrong with the horse the house explodes behind them, becoming a pile of toothpicks.

Neighbor Ely and his daughters arrive to see what all the noise was. Luke explains, “It looks like a message from Mr. Lawson. He couldn’t find a mailbox so he left it by the door!”

Ely is also being pressured to sell his land to Lawson and is getting weary of the fight. He asks Luke if they should just give in and sell.

Luke, “No way!!!!”

Luke decides to take things in his own hands and tracks down Lawson (Robert Vaughn) in his offices. Once he meets him Luke realizes that he knows Lawson from way back, only under a different name. Luke also learns that it was Lawson who framed Moose to send him to prison, assuming that this would make it easier to acquire his property. Now that Luke has seen Lawson he is a threat to reveal Lawson’s secrets he must die. Lawson sends all of his heavies to stop Luke at any cost.

Luke escapes the offices and drives off in the waiting Jeep with Matt. Lawson pulls out all the stops and follows Luke in his company helicopter to direct his ground forces. As they’re zipping down the road they pass a sign that reads, "Future Sight of Lawsonville.” When they are surrounded and stopped by the construction crew it seems like the entire town is on Lawson’s payroll. Lawson lands to get in on the finale and uses the time to brag about his complicated scheme. Is there any way that Luke can talk his way out of this quagmire?

There is no way this film should be in a “Grindhouse” collection. It is far too mild and non-exploitive to be classified with the genre. That being said, it did make for a nice contrast with the content of the other films included. This film could be played on Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel with very few edits.

Terrence Hill has a breezy charisma that is obvious and delightful on the big screen. He uses some of the same comedic violence that made the Trinity Spaghetti Western series so much fun. He gets into fights and belittles the bad guys, but he does it with a wink and a laugh instead of with bullets and blood. His son, Ross, is not much of an actor, but Dad has enough charm for both of them.

Robert Vaughn, whom I have always enjoyed since his Napoleon Solo days, makes a delicious villain. His screen time is limited but he makes a big impression with the time he’s given.

5* (out of 10) Several positive pieces in an inconsistent film. Terrence Hill is the strength of the film, Ross is the weakness. I’m happy for them that they were able to make a film together, but the movie would have been better with a more accomplished actor in the son’s role.

This is the 19th of 20 films in the set. This one gets a marginal ups which leaves our score for the set at 11 ups and 8 downs.
Last edited by cinemalover on July 21st, 2008, 9:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
Chris

The only bad movie is no movie at all.
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

Hey, Dude -

Han Solo? Don't you mean Napoleon Dynamite? :wink:
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Post by cinemalover »

Actually I'm suffering from a brain freeze. Robert Vaughn played Napoleon Solo on The Man From Uncle, but some of his friends may have called him Hans (or not).

I'll fix the post, thanks.
Chris

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Highway Racer #552

Post by cinemalover »

And now for the final entry in the Grindhouse Collection 2….

Date watched: 7/17/2008
Title: Highway Racer (Convoy Busters/Poliziotto Sprint) Made: 1977
Genre: Action/Adventure
Format: DVD Extras—Dubbed, FS, Permanent Foreign ST Onscreen.
Number of times watched: First

Directors: Stelvio Massi

Stars:
Maurizo Merli—Marco Palma
Giancarlo Sbragia—Captain Tagliaferri
Angelo Infanti—Jean-Paul Ducena
Lilli Carati—Francesca
Glauco Onorato
Orazio Orlando
Gaetano Balestrieri
Rosario Borelli
Tullio Casarino
Paulo Casella
Gabriele Domennichini
Vittorio Fanfoni

Tagline: Truckloads of explosive action!

Story: Marco Palma (Merli) is a hot shot cop who was inspired to join the force so that he’d have a legal excuse to hot rod around the streets, chasing the bad guys. More often than not his driving skills don’t match his instincts and he manages to wrap several police vehicles around immovable objects. These accidents threaten to derail his career in the field and handcuff him to a safe desk job. His sort fused temper flares when he thinks he may lose his driving position, and he callously takes it out on his attractive girlfriend, Francesca (Carati). She tries to understand, but it puts a strain on the already shaky relationship.

Once Marco is allowed back out in an undercover police car he can’t just be thankful and tow the line. He takes the car to the garage and illegally modifies it, greatly enhancing its power and maneuverability. He’s assigned a new partner, one that is well aware of his driving reputation.
Marco, “You mean, you don’t mind driving with me?”
Partner, “I don’t mind….I’m terrified!”
So he offers Marco some advice, “The problem with you is that you’re always speeding, even when you’re walking. Maybe you ought to take a tranquilizer!”

Marco’s boss, Captain Taliaferri (Sbragia), was Marco’s idol when he was young. Tagliaferri was the crime-bustin’ rocket racer that used his exploits in a car to become a media darling with his accomplishments. But those days are gone, and the department now frowns on such lone cowboy activities. When he discovers that Marco has souped-up his car, he’s not a happy camper, or Captain. Marco has all of Captain T’s greatest cases memorized where he used his superior driving skills to capture multiple criminals. Marco tries to throw these facts in Captain T’s face when he confronts Marco, but it’s not gaining him any friends.

Despite the warnings to be careful from his Captain, Marco can’t resist the urge to participate in a high-speed chase with a crime in process. They are after a brown Citroen, which is cruising away from a robbery. Marco spots the escape car and puts his pedal to the metal. Other police vehicles join the chase but the driver of the Citroen is a pro and manages to continually elude his pursuers. The police decide to call off the chase because innocent bystanders are getting injured in the process. Marco ignores the order, letting his testosterone overrule his brain. He almost catches the criminal’s vehicle when a sharp turn causes him to lose control and add to his crash resume. The Citroen gets away cleanly but the impact of the wreck kills Marco’s partner.

The guilt destroys Marco’s confidence, as well as what’s left of his reputation. The Citroen is apparently part of a highly organized gang using the cars to flee from high-end robberies. Soon another robbery is reported and this time the police spot two Citroen’s racing away from the scene of the crime. Multiple police cars are dispatched to capture them, but the skills of the Citroen driver’s cause the a police car pile-up and create havoc wherever they go. Marco wasn’t allowed to participate in the chase, and this just fuels his hatred for the gang behind the robberies. Marco feels like he’s getting no respect from the force and turns in his notice. This is a very selfish view for our hero considering he was responsible for the death of one of his own.

Captain T is frustrated by the force’s inability to stop this mobile gang. He turns to Marco whom he sees as the only one close to good enough to deal with the driving skills of the crooks. He talks him out of quitting and promises him an undercover assignment that will be to his liking. Captain T pulls his old Ferrari out of storage and makes Marco an offer he can’t refuse.
Captain T, “Look, Palma, we gotta show those punks who we are! We gotta beat them at their own game!”

As T and Marco work together to tune up the Ferrari we see a montage of flashbacks highlighting Captain T’s crime-fighting adventures with the Ferrari. Once it’s running to perfection, T puts Marco through his paces as he works out the sportscar on a track. Once T is convinced that Marco knows every inch of the car he gives him his assignment. He’ll become “Mareno”, a criminal with a reputation as a driver. He’ll start hanging around hoping to uncover the gang and become a member. Since this is a movie, it takes no time at all for Mareno to make contact with Jean-Paul Ducena (Infanti), the leader of the gang. Mareno quickly impresses Jean-Paul with his driving skills and Jean-Paul hesitantly offers him a job as a driver on their next heist. He doesn’t pretend to trust him though, so he won’t reveal any details prior to the planned crime.

Mareno’s plan is working to perfection until a freak accident blows his cover. He is on the streets talking to jean-Paul when Francesca spots him from afar. He’s left by the time she gets there (she is unaware of the undercover assignment he is on) but she gives Jean-Paul enough information for him to realize that Mareno is really a cop. Her slip has put Marco’s life in grave danger. The final act will include some fantastic car stunts and a fantastic one on one showdown between Marco and Jean-Paul to determine the most skilled driver.

An action-filled crime drama that concentrates on stunt highlights instead of plot development. While short on depth, the high-octane chases (which are fabulous in this pre-CGI stunt-fest) and multiple vehicular mayhem will leave viewers screaming at the screen for more. The stunts are staged to perfection with choreography that will bring the wreckage right into your home.

Maurizo Merli (who was completely unknown to me prior to this film), brings a heroic profile and dashing good looks to the part. Underneath all that mediocre dubbing he might even have been a decent actor. Angelo Infanti makes a suave villain whose driving expertise is envied by the police even while they fail to catch him.

The secondary title of Convoy Busters has absolutely nothing to do with the film and must have been an advertising ploy used in the days following the smash success of such hits as Smokey and the Bandit.

6* (out of 10) This is one of the films in this set that would definitely benefit from a nice, widescreen print to fully appreciate the action. A quality print might even raise my rating of the film by a point.


This is the 20th and FINAL film from the set, and it’s nice to go out on a winning note. This gets the big thumbs up, leaving the score for the set at 12 ups and 8 downs.
Chris

The only bad movie is no movie at all.
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

cinemalover wrote:Actually I'm suffering from a brain freeze. Robert Vaughn played Napoleon Solo on The Man From Uncle, but some of his friends may have called him Hans (or not).

I'll fix the post, thanks.
Now you've done it. I won't be able to look at Vaughn again without calling him "Hans." :lol:
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Vantage Point #553

Post by cinemalover »

Date watched: 7/19/2008
Title: Vantage Point Made: 2008
Genre: Thriller Studio: Columbia Pictures
Format: DVD Extras—Commentary, Featurette, Trailer..
Number of times viewed: First

Directed by Pete Travis

Stars:
Dennis Quaid—Secret Service Agent Thomas Barnes
Matthew Fox— Secret Service Agent Kent Taylor
Forest Whitaker—Howard Lewis
Sigourney Weaver—Rex Brooks
William Hurt—President Ashton
Bruce McGill—Phil McCullough
Edgar Ramirez—Javier
Said Taghmaoui—Suarez
Ayelet Zurer—Veronica
Zoe Saldana—Angie Jones
James Legros—Ted Heinkin
Eduardo Noriega—Enrique

Tagline: 8 strangers. 8 points of view. 1 truth.

Plot: This is a very brisk film with a 90 minute run time, but almost 8 minutes of that is the credits. The movie shows the same event, the assassination of an American President, from eight different perspectives, each of which gives us pieces of the bigger puzzle. President Ashton (Hurt) is in Spain, where the protestors are very vocal and seemingly everywhere, to attend an anti-terrorism summit. Before the summit starts he is giving a brief speech at the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca. The players include two secret service agents assigned to guard the President, Thomas Barnes (Quaid) and Kent Taylor (Fox), a television news director, Rex Brooks (Weaver), a Presidential advisor, Phil McCullough (McGill), an American tourist, Howard Lewis (Whitaker), a local cop, terrorists and their victims.

The story shows the proceedings as the President steps to the podium and is almost immediately gunned down by sniper bullets. As the secret service is trying to get him out in an ambulance an explosion adds to the confusion. The film shows the same 23 minute time frame from each of eight viewpoints, each revealing to the audience a little more information in a complicated web of a plot. I must admit that by the time the fourth or fifth rewind started my interest was starting to wane. The screen goes black and then a digital clock ticks to 12 noon and we see the same 23 minutes from someone else’s perspective. So the movie starts out with a very interesting premise, starts to lose momentum in the middle, but then bounces back to reveal a very exciting climax.

Agent Thomas Barnes has a history with the President, he took a bullet for him two years earlier and is just now back on active protective duty after struggling with some mental recovery. He becomes the star of this tale as he tries to decipher what truly happened and why. He uses the control booth of GNN (Global News Network) to quickly review the action and see what he can learn. He also uses American tourist, Howard Lewis’s video camera to help catch the culprits. Nothing is quite what it seems and not everything you see is what you think you see.

The structure of the film is a gimmick that will either impress you for its different take on a familiar theme, or annoy you for its repetitive time frames and constant retelling of the same event. It reminded me somewhat of the creative and unique Memento, which would be a compliment. It’s impossible to talk much more about the plot without revealing too many spoilers.

Dennis Quaid looks rough and rugged as the agent trying to regain his confidence after facing death at the hands of an attempted assassin. As the movie begins you get the feeling that he is going to be a support character in this play, it takes a while to realize that he is the hero of the piece. Sigourney Weaver’s role is fairly small. Unfortunately either her make-up person was having a bad day or she’s really aged poorly in recent years. Matthew Fox (of LOST fame) is the hot shot younger agent that is trying to help Quaid’s character get back on his feet, or is he? His is one of the deeper roles in this story, though many of his actions are left unexplained.

The film wastes no time with explanations or set-ups as it jumps right into the thick of things as the viewers see the President go down. You’ll have to wade your way through the various scenarios before things gradually make sense.

Karie meter 6* (out of 10) Karie had chosen the movie because she had heard great things about it. She enjoyed it, but it didn’t live up to the hyped word of mouth.

6* (out of 10) Similar feelings to Karie. It starts out strong, then lags, but closes with a flourish that will keep you clenching in your seat. A popcorn thriller that tries to march to a slightly different beat. It will be interesting to see if the success of Crash and its multiple overlapping storylines that eventually converge will influence more of tis type of film. Personally, a few of them go a long ways as is.
Chris

The only bad movie is no movie at all.
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G.I. Samurai: Timeslip #554

Post by cinemalover »

Here's a little diddy that most of you have never heard of, I know I had never heard of it before....

Date watched: 7/18/2008
Title: G.I. Samurai:Timeslip (Sengoku Jieitai) Made: 1979
Genre: Adventure Studio: Kadokawa/Herald Pictures
Format: DVD Extras—Trailer, ST, Anamorphic WS.
Number of times viewed: First

Director: Kosei Saito

Stars:
Sonny Chiba—Lt. Yoshiaki Iba
Jun Eto—Nouhiko Ken
Toshitaka Ito—Harumi Takashima
Hiroshi Kamayatsu—Mokichi Nemoto
Kenzo Kawarazaki—Koji Kano
Asao Koike—Koizumi
Kentaro Kudo—Ishiba
Ko Kuraishi—Masao Maruka
Masao Kusakari—Masakichi
Yoichi Miura—Manabu Nonaka

Story: A Japanese Army platoon is out on routine maneuvers. The platoon includes a tank, a helicopter and even a speed boat, plus numerous other vehicles and infantry, all loaded down with state of the art weaponry. Without any attempt at an explanation, logical or otherwise, the entire squad, including all vehicles, are transported back in time 400 years to Japan’s feudal period. The squadron is led by Lt. Yoshiaki Iba (Japanese action superstar Sonny Chiba).

The squad doesn’t realize that they have shifted backwards in time as they appear to be in the same seaside surroundings that they were moments ago. The first sign of change is when they see three samurai warriors staring at them from atop their horses.

One of the soldiers asks, “Is there a festival going on?”

Soon the three warriors return with dozens more of mounted samurai, all under the leadership of Kagetora. These samurai serve Lord Koizumi Yukinaga and are most curious about these soldiers and their “metal boxes with wheels”. Lt. Iba approaches Kagetora in a friendly manner and the two form an instant bond. Iba gives Kagetora a tour of all their advanced equipment and weaponry. Kagetora is particularly impressed with the machine gun, as he exterminates much of the surrounding foliage as he plays with the toy. Kagetora leaves with a hardy handshake with Lt. Iba as he takes his men back to the castle with a mindful of tall tales to share.

No sooner than Kagetora rides off with his men then another group of samurai arrives, these ones with no intentions of friendly banter. They are the enemies of Kagetora’s men and witnessed the friendly interactions with the soldiers which leads them to assume that Lt. Iba and his boys have sided with Kagetora. The samurai reign down arrows at the confused platoon who must quickly rally under Lt. Iba’s orders to defend themselves. This was a bad choice for the samurai as the guns and grenades come out, mowing down the samurai like wheat with a scythe. Swords and arrows don’t stack up too well against machine guns and tanks. Advantage, soldiers. Then, even though they obviously had the skirmish well in hand, Kagetora and his warriors return to help Iba finish off the opponent. Kagetora beheads the leader of the opposition and carries around the head like a trophy.

Iba is invited to receive the royal treatment, and to show off his toys, by a messenger from the Shogun, “The steel ship that flies, the steel box that runs on land, and the gun that kills tens of people at once. He would like to see it for himself!”

Iba politely declines, explain that he’s been involved in enough killing already, “We cannot side with either of the armies, should we go to your castle there’ll be misunderstandings.”

The messenger acts indignant and is offended. His master doesn’t accept “no” from anyone. He implies that there will be a price to pay for the refusal. Kagetora, who had been sitting quietly, listening to his master’s servant make the invitation, is fed up. He stands and kills the messenger. He says that his master is trying to capitalize on Iba’s forces from afar without dirtying his hands. That is disrespectful and Kagetora will no longer be able to serve him. Kagetora offers Iba a partnership, between his samurai and Iba’s soldiers and weapons the two of them can rule all of Japan. Iba likes Kagetora and the thought of power tempts him, but he delays his decision without making a commitment.

A few of Iba’s soldiers decide they are going to go it alone and try to dominate in this ancient time. They steal the platoon’s boat and go on a pleasure cruise. They attack a village, killing some men, to capture some women to be their pleasure slaves. Lt. Iba contacts them via the radio and tells them to return immediately and he’ll reconsider their punishment, which would be the firing squad for deserting. They just laugh at him. Using the helicopter it doesn’t take Iba long to locate the renegades. The boys toss their captive girls off the side of the boat and try to fight their way out of it. When one of their members has a clash of conscience and cannot fire upon the soldiers that are chasing them, his less discriminating mates give him an impromptu burial at sea. After that the kid gloves are off and Iba orders his men to destroy the boat and its occupants. They end in a fiery explosion.

Having witnessed his well-trained soldiers go rogue helps convince Iba that it will be impossible to maintain discipline in this environment if he doesn’t adapt to the circumstances. Iba pursues the partnership with Kagetora and lets his men choose for themsleces whether they want to join him or not. Iba and Kagetora’s forces make a joint assault on Kagetora’s former master, Lord Yukinaga, to storm his castle. Kagetora offers Yukinaga the opportunity to surrender, when he refuses he kills him and assumes control.

Kagetora, “I’m ashamed to have revered this idiot as my lord. It’ll be my rule now. I, Kagetora will rule! Follow me, those who defy me will be killed!”

Kagetora and Iba draw up battle plans to other throw the other shoguns on their path to total rule. On paper it looks like a dream match-up, with Iba’s heavy weaponry having a huge advantage over the sword and arrow equipped samurai that they are going against. But in reality, it is anything but easy. The overwhelming numbers of the enemy are able to swarm over Iba’s vehicles like ants on a picnic basket. One by one his men are forced to flee, leaving their vehicles behind. As Iba’s troops are killed off by their military predecessors Iba turns to the weapons of the day to fight his opponents with their own weapons. Iba’s ability to effectively ride a horse and use a bow separate him from most of his men who panic when they can’t adapt. Most of them pile up as corpses. The leader of the samurai that are tearing apart the modern warriors is Lord Shingen. He and Iba face off for a one on one battle of honor with swords. Shingen calls off his men so that their honorable fight will not be interfered with. Iba isn’t so honorable as in the middle of the fight he relies upon his revolver to stop Shingen dead in his tracks. The thirst for power has made Iba evolve back into his lowest common denominator as his military discipline and honor has deteriorated completely. Then Iba beheads Shingen’s son, who had rushed in to avenge his father. After this, allies Iba and Kagetora find themselves battling each other for total supremacy and the final decision is not quite what you’d expect, especially the annoying song that plays over the final scene.

There are a few minor references to the fact that their actions 400 years in their own past may affect their present, but they are not emphasized. This is not a thinking man’s time travel saga, it is merely an excuse to square off two different military cultures 9times) against each other for some unique action possibilities. The sight of modern weaponry launched against hundreds of samurai foot soldiers and horse warriors, each flying the banner with their house colors is a visual treat. No expenses were spared with the use of extras or colorful costumes. The most disturbing phase of the film was the musical interludes, of pop songs, played over montages displaying the passage of time and action. The music was a very annoying choice and was distracting from what was already a bizarre premise.

Sonny Chiba is always a hoot in an action film as he has more menacing grimaces in his repertoire than any other actor I’ve ever seen. He is a quality athlete who performs the action stunts with graceful ease. His character seemed to jump from respectable military leader to wild conqueror rather too quickly, but believability is not the film’s strongpoint. There’s definitely never been a better movie made detailing a battle between tanks and samurais!

5* (out of 10) At 219 minutes the film drags in spots and would have benefitted from a more discriminating editor who could easily have trimmed 30 minutes and improved the pace of the film.
Chris

The only bad movie is no movie at all.
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Maisie Gets Her Man #555

Post by cinemalover »

Date watched: 7/21/2008
Title: Maisie Gets Her Man Made: 1942
Genre: Comedy Studio:MGM
Format: DVD-R Source--TCM
Number of times watched: First

Directors: Roy Del Ruth

Stars:
Ann Sothern—Maisie Ravier
Red Skelton—Hap Hixby, the Laugh Bandit
Leo Gorcy—Ceecil
Allen Jenkins—Pappy Goodring
Donald Meek—Mr. Strickwell
Lloyd Corrigan—Mr. Marshall J. Denningham
Walter Catlett—Jasper
Fritz Feld—Professor Orco
Ben Weldon—Percy Podd
Rgas Ragland—Ears Cofflin
Frank Jenks—Art Giffman

Tagline: Roar with Red Skelton in the funniest Maisie hit of all!

Story: Our heroine, Maisie Ravier (Sothern), is a taough as nails girl who is always employed on the fringe edges of show biz. Currently she is working as the leggy assistant, and target, for Professor Orco (Feld), a professional knife-thrower and big name performer. Right before his act is supposed to go on he throws a fit and quits because his girl has dumped him. The stage manager is less than pleased by this sudden turn of events.

Stage manager, “Listen, you greasy ham, you leave me holding the sack for my main attraction and I’ll see that you never get another booking from here to the coast!”
Orco, “Booking! Booking! What’s booking! It’s peanuts! I kill myself!” But then he turns his anger to the fairer sex. “I hate women. They should all be dead!” (Said while stabbing a picture of his ex).

Maisie steps in to sooth his aching ego and convince him that, “The show must go on!”

Orco does go on but his depression is affecting his aim as he launches his knives dangerously close to Maisie’s figure. She finally jumps out of the way of a final blade that would have given her a split personality. Orco goes completely nuts because Maisie has ruined his show, he chases her off stage with a knife, threatening to kill her. Maisie survives the ordeal, but when Orco is carted off to the looney bin, she finds herself in familiar territory, broke and unemployed.

Her next stop is a talent agency, hoping to land a job somewhere in town. While she’s there a comedian wannabe, Hap Hixby (Skelton) storms the office hoping to impress. Instead he just annoys. Maisie doesn’t end up with any job offers as the talent agent seems more interested in her gams than her talent. But when she leaves the office she meets the building manager, who offers her a job as his assistant. To celebrate their new business arrangement, the manager takes Maisie to the building’s diner for lunch. She meets Hap again at the diner and overhears some of his corny humor.

Hap, “…he’s like the cross-eyed man that got arrested for burglary….he just looked crooked!”

Hap zooms in on Maisie and tries to generate small talk, much to her displeasure. He keeps pushing, she keeps retreating. When Maisie’s bill comes Hap tries to be gallant.
Hap, “Hey, put it on my tab…I like to pay for my mistakes!”
Maisie (dryly), “That must keep you broke most of the time.”

Maisie’s joy at her new job doesn’t last long as she learns that the building is bordering on the brink of bankruptcy. Her boss is about to lose his job which will mean she won’t have a job either. To save them both the trouble she chooses to quit and pursues a partnership with the often annoying Hap. It’s not a perfect relationship, but as they prepare and practice for opening night they start to get along much better.

When the big night finally arrives and the two are set to premiere their act on stage Hap freezes. All his joking and laughs (he refers to himself as the Laugh Bandit) were performed before friends and family back home. He’s never been in front of a big audience and he gets caught glaring in the headlights. Maisie tries to salvage the act, but they get booed off the stage. Maisie just can’t get a break.

Hap and Maiaise stick together for their next vbusiness venture as Mr. Marshall J. Denningham (Corrigan), president of the Saphire Water Company, and also a tenant of the same building, offers them both jobs with his company helping sales. Hap even rates the title of Vice President. All seems to be going well as sales of the reinvigorating product are brisk. Little do Maisie and Hap know that Denningham is just lacing bottles of tap water with gin and selling them as wonder cures for anything and everything. The bad news keeps flowing as Maisie and Hap are just starting to become really attracted to each other when Hap’s fiancé from back home, Elsie, shows up unannounced. This puts a damper on the romance. Then Mr. Denningham disappears on a “business trip” as the offices are raided by the police. Hap is arrested as part of the Saphire Water swindle since he is the highest ranking officer in the company present.

While he’s behind bars the heartbroken Miasie carries on, joining a traveling troop that is entertaining troops. She gets to sing such witty lines as, “If you’re hep, get in step….”

Hap gets out of the slammer and joins the army. Hmmmm…do you think they’re paths will cross again?

A surprisingly entertaining entry in the series that is buoyed by a deep and rich comic support cast that each add depth to even the smallest of parts. Red plays the hick who thinks he’s destined for comic stardom, but his talents and jokes are more suited for a cornfield. He and Sothern have a sweet onscreen chemistry as she gets to play the strong lead that looks out for the interests of the weaker willed Skelton.


6* (out of 10) Solid programmer and one of the best in the Maisie series. Ann Sothern gets to sing “Cookin’ With Gas”, a lively little number complete with a dancing chorus line behind her.
Chris

The only bad movie is no movie at all.
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