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Found 23 results

  1. Note: As of this writing, a high-quality version of this film can be found for free at this URL: http://ffilms.org/marnie-1964/. For those trying to find Hitchcock's cameo, this is the *one* time it will be impossible to miss. *** SPOILER ALERT *** Okay, there's something about "Marnie" Edgar (Tippi Hedren) that's more than meets the eye - instead of simply being a shrewd, serial bandit which is obvious from the very beginning, you have two very disturbing scenes in the first thirty minutes: the "dream scene" at her mother's (Louise Latham's) house, which culminates with her mother, Bernice Edgar, taking a very "Hitchcockian" stroll back down the stairs, and the "spilled red ink" scene at Mark Rutland's (Sean Connery's) office. The viewer should also bear in mind that, at this point, there isn't necessarily a reason to believe that Marnie knows that Mark Rutland is a major client of Sidney Strutt's (Martin Gabel's), from whom she stole almost $10,000 to start the movie - but she *might* know, as she's obviously a very resourceful woman, and might have deduced this while working for Mr. Strutt. Sean Connery does not play fools - there's something a *little* too easy about Marnie bearing witness to this five-digit safe combination in the desk drawer of Rutland's office - they apparently had the perfect candidate right before Marnie interviewed - could Rutland have suspected something from the very start? It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I've learned not to try and outguess Hitchcock (that's the surest way to make a fool of yourself). And yet, he gives her a paper to type about arboreal predators in the Brazilian rainforest, making it very clear that most predators are women - we're being messed with. Master of Suspense bastard! I wonder if this scene of Rutland kissing Marnie had any influence on "Eyes Wide Shut": 1'30" into this 2'10"-long movie, I am as confused as I've ever been with any Hitchcock film - "The Wrong Man," this isn't: I have no idea why anybody is doing anything that they're doing. The "obvious solution," which is being planted into our heads, is too obvious - and it would *really* make this movie dated, whereas one of Hitchcock's trademarks are a timeless quality to most of his works. Every hunch I'd thought of may have been overturned by the question, "Are you still in the mood for killing?" Hitchcock is like Bach: In a Bach Prelude, Fugue, or pretty much anything else, there aren't any superfluous notes (think about it after hearing the question asked (*)). Well, the "obvious solution" happened - with a twist to the twist, of course. I was getting ready to say this was, at best, an average picture, and certainly a sub-average picture for Hitchcock. After having watched the entire film, I still think it's a sub-par Hitchcock film, but I think "Marnie" is a decent motion picture, worth seeing if you're a Hitchcock fan; not necessarily worth seeing if you're looking for true greatness. This is a good film; it's just not a great one. Not having seen either "Frenzy" or "Family Plot," I'm wondering if "The Birds" was Hitchcock's last great movie (Edit: I forgot about "Torn Curtain" and "Topaz," neither of which I've seen either, but for both of which I have greater optimism.) And the final question tonight on Jeopardy: What attracted Sean Connery to Marnie, especially given the thefts? I can see a physical attraction, but to take it as far as he did simply doesn't make any sense at all. (*) This unanswered question remains one of the great unanswered mysteries of this film.
  2. "Strangers on a Train," is regarded by many critics as one of the top five or six films by Alfred Hitchcock. Roger Ebert, in this review, says only three or four Hitchcock films are superior to it. Having seen most of the other films lauded as his "best," as well as some more obscure Hitchcock movies from his earlier days, I wanted to see for myself how this film stacked up against the others. The movie, based on the 1950 novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith, tells the story of two strangers who meet on a train and discuss "swapping" murders. While I found this film flawed, there were some things I really enjoyed about it. ***SPOILERS FOLLOW*** There is stunning camera work in this film. I love the shot of the shadows as Bruno follows Miriam and her beaus through the "Tunnel of Love." Miriam's scream, as they exit the tunnel, enhances the suspense even more. Miriam's demise, shown through the reflection of her discarded eyeglasses, is brilliantly done. This is Hitchcock at his finest. When Bruno arrives at Guy's gate with news of what he has done, we see his face obscured by the shadow of the gate, while Guy stands on the other side, fully lit by a street light. Once Guy hears the news, and begins to feel complicit in the crime, he joins Bruno on the other side of the gate, both of their faces masked by prison-like bars. Another wonderfully shot scene is when Guy spots Bruno in the crowd at this tennis match. All of the spectators' heads are moving in unison, watching the match, except one. The camera locks onto Bruno's face, staring creepily ahead--at Guy, and at us. Another fun thing about this film is that much of the story takes place in the D.C. area, with several beautiful shots of the city. The plot, however, is quite implausible, which made it hard for me to get emotionally involved in the story. Some of the acting is top-notch, including a fine performance by the director's daughter, Patricia Hitchcock. Laura Elliott (also known as Kasey Rogers) is great as the unlikeable Miriam, and Robert Walker does a fine job portraying the creepy Bruno. Ruth Roman, on the other hand, a gives a one-note performance as Guy's girlfriend, displaying her full range of emotions by wiggling her lower jaw and exposing her bottom teeth. The film is melodramatic and dated, but I think any fan of filmmaking and of Alfred Hitchcock will find some things to enjoy in "Strangers on a Train."
  3. I had heard of "Ex Machina," but knew absolutely nothing about it before a couple of nights ago - released in 2015, it won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects - considering it was a relatively low-budget, independent, science-fiction film, it's pretty remarkable that it didn't come across as low-budget (it didn't come across as high-budget either; it fell somewhere in the middle). Made for $15 million, it beat out such films as "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" ($250 million) and "Mad Max: Fury Road" ($150 million) - this alone is remarkable. Writer-Director Alex Garland also received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Original Screenplay, justifiably losing to the fine "Spotlight" - I suspect that, in this category, the crew took a "just happy to be here" attitude. I don't write plot summaries here - my time is too limited, and there are too many other fine websites that handle that task with aplomb; instead, I make whatever observations come to mind, and that I think people may find interesting or relevant. If you read past this point, I'm assuming you've already seen the film (don't forget, this is a discussion website). As a side note, if you've never heard "Deus ex Machina" pronounced before, the words sound like 1) Ama"deus" 2) "x" 3) "Mach" V + "eena," with the accent on Mach. As for Racer X, I did not ask him his opinion. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** The setting, in God-knows-what remote part of Alaska, Canada, or Siberia - as well as the role of Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) - both come across to me as silly. I don't care how smart or rich someone is - they don't own half the world, and have the knowledge to out-think all of humanity by themselves. Isaac played his part poorly, although he was in a no-win situation: Think, for a moment, how inane it is for him to have built a company which handles 94% of all internet searches, *as well as* having the technical intelligence and knowledge to make world-changing breakthroughs (you can be mega-rich, or mega-educated; never are you both, at least not to *this* extent. (Bateman wasn't even very old, yet he made Bill Gates look like a mentally impaired panhandler.) Furthermore, his character was not that far removed from that of a frat boy - I can see this as a satire or farce, but it was intended to be neither, and that's why it falls flat: not short, but flat. I do applaud it for taking a Mickey Mantle-like swing for the fences (that took guts, and I admire it), but it whiffed in a way that could have turbine-powered the entire Bronx on a hot summer day. The computer, Ava - deliciously played by Alicia Vikander, and undoubtedly stoking techno-nerd fantasies they didn't even realize they had - was supposed to pass what's known as a "Turing Test," theorized by tera-genius Alan Turing in 1950, which basically says that if a human interacts with a computer, but thinks they're interacting with another human, then the computer passes the Turing Test. Recall also that Alan Turing, whose work I studied more than any other individual's while in graduate school, was the subject of the fine 2014 biopic, "The Imitation Game" (it just this second popped into my head that "The Imitation Game" also alludes to a gay person staying in the closet, imitating someone who's straight, but that bit of mental numbness is my problem, and can be openly (sorry) discussed in The Imitation Game's thread). I mention the content of the preceding paragraph because at the very end of the film, Ava did indeed pass the Turing Test, as she obviously convinced the helicopter pilot (as well as pedestrians at the intersection) that she was human - I suspect most people are so wigged out by the film's finale that they miss this subtle-but-important point. This was essentially a four-person script, with "test subject" Caleb Smith (played more than adequately by Domhnall Gleeson), and in a lesser role than the other three, the "other" robot, Kyoko (played very well, and with respect for subtlety and nuance, by Sonoya Mizuno). You really need to turn your mind off to enjoy Ex Machina, as the fundamental premise, including the setting and the personality of Bateman, are so improbable that you'll pull your hair out if you question it, so it will help your emotional stability if you accept this in advance - but then again, you aren't supposed to be reading this until you've finished the film. On a related note, a friend of mine gave me a copy of Joseph Heller's "Catch 22" just this afternoon. On an unrelated note, it's somewhat disturbing that "Portnoy's Complaint" just popped into my mind. Admit it: You had the hots for Ava, and you feel somewhat conflicted. Just admit it. Do.
  4. "Infinity Chamber" (originally called "Somnio") is so new that it doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry. I'm not sure if it was even released in theaters, and it just came out on streaming video last month. There was initially an attempt to fund it on Kickstarter - if you watch the video there (which won't give much away), you'll "get to know" Writer-Director Travis Milloy, which makes me feel somewhat guilty for what I'm about to write. This intriguing title is about an equally intriguing subject: A man wakes up with only a vague recollection of being shot, and is imprisoned by a high-tech, futuristic, fully automated "LSO" (Life-Support Operative) named "Howard," which is a self-learning computer, fully (and hilariously) reminiscent of HAL in "2001: A Space Odyssey." (Note that the diminutive of Howard would be "HOW.") *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** Howard is the best and most memorable part of this film, which the LA Times correctly says is "a little too long." It's actually not only too long, but also too garbled, with an unsatisfying denouement that leaves the viewer with a "What the hell just happened" perception. There are films (such as "Inception") with deliberately ambiguous endings, but "Infinity Chamber" is more than just ambiguous - it's also perplexing, and not in a good way. I'm all-for open-ended endings, subject to interpretation, but this movie was one hell of a long ramble, not justified by the payoff. Christopher Soren Kelly plays Frank Lerner (note the double entendre), Cassandra Clark plays the girl of his dreams, Gabby (note the double entendre), and both are just about perfect in their roles, so the acting here is quite good. Howard is a delight as the laid-back, thoughtful LSO who almost befriends Frank during the arduous time spent getting to "know" one-another. The lighting is good ... until it isn't (the film becomes one of "those" black-as-night films, which leaves the viewer squinting and guessing - they've become a fad, and I'm sick of them), the music by Jacob Yoffee fits the movie, and the angular cinematography is as good as it can be within its severe limitations. This all sounds wonderful, but the actual plot not only plods, but is so infuriatingly vague that the stingy reveal leaves the viewer empty. Did Frank outsmart Howard? Is it all a dream? Did he die despite the ventilator? Is he happy-ever-after? You're welcome to pick-and-choose whatever you wish, and you won't be wrong, unless there's something patently obvious that I've missed. "Infinity Chamber" isn't a joy to sit through; it's hard work at times, and the claustrophobic set must have been the cinematographer Jason Nolte's worst nightmare, because with such a long film, and such a limited space, he simply ran out of things to try. As much as I don't want to say this, I just can't recommend this film to anyone except the most avid science-fiction fans - it does a lot of things right (and doesn't even come across as being low-budget), but there are just too many inherent flaws in the story and direction for talent to overcome - the irony being that I think there is some talent in writer-director Travis Milloy; it just didn't come out in this film.
  5. The first time I ever saw a film by David Lynch was in Manhattan, during the summer of 1981, and it was a re-release of "Eraserhead" on the big screen. I haven't seen this movie in almost 36 years, yet there are images which remain as plain as day in my mind. It was perhaps the creepiest film I'd ever seen at that point in my life. "Mulholland Drive" may not be as creepy - on absolute terms - until, that is, the final 40 minutes, when all sense of logic and reality become distorted: No matter how hard you try and understand what's going on, the film will demand a second watching (at least a second watching). The performances, the direction, the story, the shifting in-and-out of reality, the cinematography, and the music (even the simple doo-wop music (*)) is just so compelling that Lynch was working on a higher plane than mere human existence. I can't describe the movie, but I suggest watching it in parts - perhaps the first 50 minutes twice, then the second 50 minutes twice, and then the final 40 minutes as many times as you need in order to make some sense of things. This is a work of art that is clearly the work of genius; and yet, I can't tell you *why* it's such a great work of art. But it is. Now, I have to go back and watch "Eraserhead" again. Man, what a ride Mulholland Drive is. (*) Just in case you thought it was original:
  6. "The Stepford Wives" (1975) - Directed by Bryan Forbes (Director of "The Whisperers") Produced by Edgar Scherick (Producer of "Sleuth") Written by: Screenplay - William Goldman (Academy Award Winner for Best Original Screenplay for "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and for Best Adapted Screenplay for "All the President's Men"), Story - "The Stepford Wives" by Ira Levin (Author of "Rosemary's Baby") Featuring Katharine Ross as Joanna Eberhart (Etta Place in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," Elaine Robinson in "The Graduate"), Paula Prentiss as Bobbie Markowe (Liz Bien in "What's New, Pussycat?" Lee Carter in "The Parallax View"), Peter Masterson as Walter Eberhart (Fryer in "In the Heat of the Night"), Nanette Newman as Carol van Sant (Girl Upstairs in "The Whisperers"), Tina Louise as Charmaine Wimperis (Ginger Grant on "Gilligan's Island"), Patrick O'Neal (George Maxwell in "Bed of Roses" on "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," Harmon Gordon in "A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain" on "The Twilight Zone," Jonathan Meridith in "Wolf 359" on "The Outer Limits," Justus Walters in "A Fear of Spiders" on "Night Gallery"), Josef Sommer as Ted van Sant (District Attorney William T. Rothko in "Dirty Harry"), Franklin Cover as Ed Wimperis (Tom Willis on "The Jeffersons") --- I had managed to avoid "The Stepford Wives" (the original version) for my entire life, but given that the term has entered our lexicon, and more importantly, that the 1975 version was at least an attempt at horror (the latter version mixed in comedy), I thought I'd give it a go. While I can't say "it was a great movie," I also don't regret watching it. My biggest gripe about this film is one that other critics have repeated: It feels like a made-for-TV film, and is also about thirty minutes too long. I can't imagine walking into a movie theater, even when I was fourteen years old, and seeing this on the big screen. Katherine Ross is eight years older than when she played Elaine in "The Graduate," but she weathered those eight years beautifully - she has a very unique loveliness to her, and did a pretty good acting job in this role (I can't honestly say it was "great," but that's because she didn't have much to work with - this script would fit nicely in a thirty-minute episode, or perhaps a sixty-minute episode, of "The Twilight Zone"). *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** One thing that isn't entirely clear to me is whether or not her husband, Walter, knew about the goings-on in Stepford before leaving New York City - his conversion to one of the Stepford Husbands was seamless and total; yet, how could the town of Stepford trust a complete stranger, whom they'd never before met (or had they?), with this information? Two-thirds of the way through the movie (I'm loathe to call it a "film"), I wasn't quite sure how the transition would be done - was it drugs? Surgery? Or something else entirely? Make sure to see the outstanding 2017 film, "Get Out," which was clearly influenced by this movie, as well as by several other films (I won't insult you by naming them). "The Stepford Wives" is optional viewing; "Get Out" is an absolute requirement.
  7. Just as "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" (1962) fell into an obscure sub-genre of films being produced around the early 1960s called "Psycho-Biddy" - essentially old, famous actresses cast in new movies as "old ladies gone mad," "Satan's Triangle" (1975) falls into a cluster of films around the mid-1970s - including "The Exorcist" (1973), "The Omen" (1975), and "The Devils" (1971) that I would term, "Catholic Horror." I've never heard of this sub-genre before, but I remember an unusually high concentration of "Priest and Devil" films that came out right when I was transitioning from child to teenager (the exact time in someone's life when these would scare one the most). And "Satan's Triangle" scared the beejesus out of me when I saw it on TV, so much so that I've spent my entire life thinking it was one of the scariest films I've ever seen. However, I saw it last night for the first time in 42 years (!), and although parts are very creepy (if you watch it, make sure to stick with it until the very end), it just isn't all that terrifying, and although the actors themselves are extremely talented (Kim Novak, Doug McClure, Michael Conrad, Alejandro Rey), the film itself just doesn't bring out their very best. I also recently rewatched "Duel" (1971), Steven Spielberg's first feature-length film, which I saw when I was ten years old, and that film has not only withstood the test of time, but I enjoy it almost as much as a 56-year-old, as I did as a 10-year-old - Spielberg takes an almost painfully simple plot, and nearly impossibly turns it into 90-minutes of genuine, nail-biting thrills - I urge everyone reading this to click on that link and to watch "Duel." As for "Satan's Triangle," it isn't "dated" so much as I've grown up - any teenager who doesn't question the existence of God would probably still be scared by it, but I've turned into such a cynic that it just doesn't do as much for me. However, I can still be scared by a good, old-fashioned Catholic Horror film, if it was done well-enough; this particular one just isn't there. It's perhaps worth watching, and there are currently two free versions on YouTube which I cannot recommend (and won't even link to), as the quality is mediocre-to-poor (I made the mistake of watching one of these, and the quality of the presentation *really* diminished the experience). The one I watched even got worse in quality as it went along - if you're going to watch it, pay a few bucks and rent it: This might be the difference between "scary" and "not scary."
  8. "Rebecca," Alfred Hitchcock's first American project, is a Gothic tale filled with suspense. There is fine acting, beautiful cinematography and more twists and turns than your favorite roller-coaster. I wanted to see this film because I have watched a number of movies lately starring Joan Fontaine, and this is considered by many to be her finest work. "Rebecca" is the only Alfred Hitchcock-directed film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. It is based on the 1938 novel of the same name written by Daphne du Maurier. Filmed in black-and-white, "Rebecca" has a darkly brooding, mysterious feel to it. Fontaine is perfect as the naively sweet second Mrs. De Winter, living in the shadow of her predecessor, Rebecca. Fontaine and Laurence Olivier have wonderful chemistry in this film. All of the actors are top-notch, but Dame Judith Anderson is simply unforgettable in her role as the demented housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers. "Rebecca" is a sweeping, captivating picture that every lover of classic films should see.
  9. I know nothing about "Blackboard Jungle" except that it's "the other" teen-angst film from 1955 that I was going to watch, along with "Rebel Without a Cause." The notorious high school principal, Mr. Warneke, is played by John Hoyt, who you'll find playing the Chief Medical Officer on the Starship Enterprise before Dr. McCoy came along in the "Star Trek" series pilot, "The Cage." (don't forget, the central action in "The Cage" takes place thirteen years before most of the current cast has come into the picture). It's amazing how many character actors you become familiar with over time - in this movie is someone I've encountered several times recently: "The Maytag Repairman," Jesse White, not credited in this film, but pictured here to the left of Glenn Ford (our right). White was in so many things I've seen lately that I'm thinking of giving him his own thread: And who's that in the glasses playing the student named Santini? It's Jameel Farah in his film debut. Interestingly, the Lebanese-American Farah (born in Toledo, OH) used his real birth name in this film; he eventually changed his stage name to Jamie Farr. You know how people say "the good old days were only old; they were never good?" This is one example of something that's both old *and* good: an ethnic actor unafraid to use his birth name for fear of being ostracized. So many famous actors, like this student, Artie West in the film, to the left of the column with curly hair and a cap on: Unfortunately, this actor, Vic Morrow - like James Dean - became more famous for how he died than how he lived. The opening of this film is a virtual parade of future Hollywood stardom, like that kid in the restroom smoking a cigarette: Twelve years later, he'd have the most successful year in all of Hollywood, winning Best Actor for "In the Heat of the Night" (yep: Sidney Poitier). Then, much later in the film, comes along Richard Deacon for a cameo: *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** With about thirty minutes left, Richard Dadier (Glenn Ford) went from being completely ostracized by his students - with his wife threatened - to borderline accepted, for seemingly no reason. Perhaps it's Miller (Sidney Poitier) who was finally won over, and Miller is (as has been implied the entire film) leader of the gang, so to speak. The transition just seems a little abrupt to me, but regardless, it takes a *lot* of stress off of the viewer. This all happens shortly after Dadier walks in on Miller's gospel group, singing about Moses - a side of Miller that has not yet been seen before (it should be remembered that this film was released just one short year after Brown vs. Board of Education was decided). I've been negligent in not mentioning Dadier's lovely wife Anne (played by Anne Francis). Easily the main sub-plot of the film, Anne wants Richard (Glenn Ford) to move to a better school, with students who are more receptive, but she does have a secret ulterior motive: She has started to get anonymous letters, warning her about another woman - as far as the viewer can tell, these letters are absolutely untrue, and are efforts from the students to destroy Richard - that's why it's a little surprising that this all started happening right around the same time he was becoming accepted by them. With only thirty minutes left in the film, it's going to be interesting to see how this all plays out. I have a hunch that it might be Lois Hammond herself ("the other woman") sending these letters, because she might have a crush on Richard. I say that, yet it's clearly a man who has called twice to warn the (expecting) wife, and that man is shaping up to be Miller (Poitier) - why on earth would he be doing this when Richard has shown absolutely *no* sign of infidelity? Maybe Miller really *does* want Richard to get the hell out of this school, and teach somewhere he can be appreciated - that would be fitting, because Dadier has been good to Miller this entire film, and Miller knows it. I'm writing this paragraph about ten minutes after the last one - Artie West (Vic Morrow) has quietly been perhaps the strongest supporting actor in this movie, and the producer and director have *very* cleverly led the viewers to follow their own biases down one street, when it has been West all along that was the source of all troubles (although I was almost certain West was the one who slugged Richard in the alley). Vic Morrow should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor if he wasn't, because he is *terrific* in this film. About the *only* over-the-top element (and I'm just about at the end) was when Santini (Jameel Farah) stopped West's attack with the American Flag - that was awfully heavy-handed, but I can give this fantastic movie one mulligan. Props also go to Rafael Campos who played Latino student Pete Morales - he was yet another quietly brilliant actor in this movie. If "Blackboard Jungle" was Poitier's springboard to Hollywood stardom (and his career began almost a decade earlier, so it might not have been, but *if* it was), it's perfectly understandable, because he comes across as the type of actor who America would embrace for his role in this film. He was brilliant, but so were any of a dozen other people - even small roles, such as Richard and Anne's doctor (Warner Anderson) were just brilliantly played. It's funny, I thought that the principal, Mr. Warneke (John Hoyt) was going to have such an influential role in this film, but he did almost nothing (which, in-and-of-itself, was *very* influential in terms of how the high school was run), but in terms of the movie, he was nearly non-existent, and it was the command performances of so many other actors that made "Blackboard Jungle" leaps-and-bounds better than "Rebel Without a Cause" - the former is *so* much better than the latter, that they really can't be compared; one is a period piece - a "Catcher in the Rye"-type piece of pablum, famous only for James Dean; the other, "Blackboard Jungle," is one of the finest films I've seen - easily the best "50s-era problem-teen" film I've ever watched, and if this wasn't nominated for Best Picture, and if several people weren't nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, then that's criminal. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie at all costs. I'm not going to "rank" it, but I will say that it's one of the finest movies I've ever seen - top 20? top 30? I don't know ... just see it, trust me and see it. People say this film is dated, and a product of its time; I think it's underrated, and way ahead of its time - it is *so much* more important than "Marty," which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and the acting is *so much* better than it was in "Rebel Without a Cause," which had a lot more nominations - the academy simply wasn't ready for this type of movie in 1955. It's time for "Blackboard Jungle" to have a renaissance.
  10. When I was in my mid-20s (maybe in the late 80s), "The Manchurian Candidate" made a revival on the big screen, and I saw it, and really enjoyed it while also thinking it was something almost campy. Now that I've seen it a second time, I realize that I was too uneducated to appreciate the film - this was an incredibly well-done movie, somehow able to take the absolutely unbelievable - bordering on the ridiculous - and make it seem positively realistic and possible. For me, The Manchurian Candidate is almost like a "Greatest Hits" album of actors, and I cannot imagine how Frank Sinatra - and for that matter, Lawrence Harvey - weren't nominated for Best Actor (the great Angela Lansbury was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, which is reasonable, but she was outperformed by both of these men). It says a lot that The Manchurian Candidate would speak louder and more clearly, and also be more believable, to an educated 55-year-old man than an enthusiastic, but ultimately ignorant 24-year-old boy. Back in the 1980s, I considered myself very knowledgeable about film for an amateur; what I wasn't knowledgeable about was life itself. Back then, I distinctly remember talking with a Vietnam Veteran, who made an off-the-cuff remark to the extent of, "I really have trouble watching that stuff, because it messes with my mind," and I can easily see how he thought that ... now; back then, I didn't really understand. I just cannot get over how this movie managed to make something so utterly implausible seem so incredibly realistic and possible. Although I had no memory of how the film ended, I did manage to guess the ending sequence with a high degree of accuracy, but though I knew what was coming (or thought I did), nothing was ruined or compromised - the film ended exactly how it needed to - it was a heart-wrenching, but beautiful, ending to a heart-wrenching film. The Manchurian Candidate is a *big* film, with *big*, *bold* ideas and messages, and it succeeds on that level, but what makes it truly great is the individual-level, human tragedy that unfolds before our eyes. The irony of a sabotage-themed work invoking such strong feelings of patriotism - all without overtly manipulating the viewer in that regard - is amazing in-and-of itself. I'm not sure how "good" this film is rated by critics, but this is absolutely one of the most important Cold War movies I've ever seen. Sadly, people who are any younger than I am will simply not be able to relate to this in the way that I can, as my formative years were spent during the apogee of the Cold War - in elementary school, we'd crawl under our desks to simulate how we'd act in case of a nuclear-bomb attack. Although I suppose this generation of children has their own cross to bear, with being trained how to deal with school shootings - the more things change, the more they stay the same. There is a *ton* of symbolism in this movie - much of it obvious, some of it more subtle, but it's probably nearly impossible to pick it all out. You could watch this film a second time, just looking for symbols, and not waste your time. An absolutely classic film in several regards, and the best work I've ever seen from both Frank Sinatra and Lawrence Harvey.
  11. "Das Boot" is perhaps the finest war film I have ever seen. It is certainly in my top three films about war. I recently watched the Director's Cut of this German film, released in 1997 (the original was first shown in German theaters in 1981 and then as a TV miniseries). "Das Boot" is an adaptation of Lothar-Günther Buchheim's 1973 German novel of the same name, and it tells the fictional story of a German U-96 crew during World War II. The director's cut is 3 hours and 29 minutes long, combining action sequences from the 2.5 hour original theatrical release (which garnered six Academy Award nominations) and character development from the miniseries. Improvements in the picture and sound were also made. Yes, 209 minutes is a substantial amount of time to devote to watching a film, but I can tell you, the Director's Cut is worth it. I have watched much shorter films that seem twice as long. I found this film riveting from the bawdy opening scene to the closing segment, one of the most poignant and moving moments I have witnessed on film. The tension in this film is palpable. The tedium and the fear of fighting a battle deep beneath the surface of the sea is made incredibly real for the viewer. I felt great empathy for the characters, and forgot they were Germans, fighting for the other side. They were men, some really boys, struggling to do their best under the most difficult conditions. This is one of the best films I have seen - an epic, classic, World War II tale - and I highly recommend it.
  12. You have two choices when watching "The Wild One": 1) Watch it through the eyes of older people who lived through The Great Depression and World War II, and were genuinely afraid of seeing society unravel and go to hell in a handbasket, or 2) roll your eyes, and scream aloud, about fifty times, "My *God* this is dated!" "The Wild One" is so dated that it comes across as a parody of itself. The acting is so overwrought, and the dialogue is so corny that it comes across as being about as rebellious as "Rock Around the Clock." One of the leaders of the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club is Jerry Paris, who played the dentist in "The Dick Van Dyke Show" - I'm sorry, but seeing Rob Petrie's next-door neighbor Jerry Helper in a black leather jacket is just not that frightening. Clocking in at just under an hour and twenty minutes, "The Wild One" seems interminable. You have to acknowledge its influence as the first-ever biker flick, and for Marlon Brando influencing both Elvis Presley and James Dean (and hence, the rebellious 1960s). This film is, at once: terrible, important, influential, dated, forward-looking, inane, and ridiculous. Marlon Brando's stunt-double was *so obvious* that it was, at times, laughable, as he didn't look anything like Brando, and the transitions between Brando and his stunt-double were very poorly done, and not edited well at all. If you want to watch a movie for a good time, take a pass on "The Wild One"; if you want to be a good film scholar and watch a historically important movie, then go for it. That's about the best I can do for you - I felt like I was watching an episode of "Route 66," and not a particularly good one, either. --- But there is this legendary quote: Kathie Bleeker: "What're you rebelling against, Johnny?" Johnny Strabler: "Whaddya got?" --- The Hollister Riot, the staged picture of which - in Life Magazine - influenced the whole biker genre.
  13. "Suspense" is one of the very first television anthology series, debuting in 1949, and running 6 seasons and 260 episodes until 1954. It was adapted from a radio program of the same name which ran from 1942-1962, and was broadcast *live*. Many of the scripts were adapted from literary classics by big-name authors, and also featured big-name stars as actors. Although the show was broadcast live, most episodes were recorded on kinescope, and about 90 out of the 260 episodes survive as of this writing. I continue to be amazed that so much early television is just plain *gone*, considering how important the medium is - they taped *over* productions in order to save money! The series has several Producers (one of whom being billed as an "Executive Producer"), and I'm not sure what the difference is between the two positions. Robert Stevens directed 105 episodes, and produced 102 episodes. Season One (Jan 6, 1949 - Jun 28, 1949) 1.1 - "Goodbye, New York" - Story by Cornell Woolrich ("It Had To Be Murder" (source for "Rear Window"), "The Big Switch" on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents")), Sets by Samuel Leve Featuring Meg Mundy (Grandmother in "Ordinary People")
  14. Earlier this year, I watched the 1927 silent film "The Lodger," which is widely considered the first "real" Alffed Hitchcock film (after he found his mojo), as well as the first filming of The Lodger, which was remade, in various guises, no less than four times, this being the third of five that I know of. Although this is a remake, Hitchcock had nothing to do with this: It was produced by Robert Bassler and directed by John Brahm, For those who don't know, Jack the Ripper was active in London during 1888 in Whitechapel, a district in the East End of London, in the borough of Tower Hamlets (there are (as of 1965) 33 "local authority districts" in London: 32 are boroughs, and, the 33rd is the "City of London" itself). A "district" is an unofficial, loose term for "neighborhood" - "borough" is an official term, and the district of Whitechapel is inside the borough of Tower Hamlets. If you read the Wikipedia entry for Jack the Ripper (above), it's really quite a grisly tale - the most troublesome fact? The Ripper was never caught. Since this takes place in 1888, I did some financial conversion for you to put the figures in 2016 dollars: Mr. Slade (played by Laird Cregar, an American actor) offers 5 pounds a week for room and board, which equates to 595 pounds today, or $731.85 - a considerable weekly sum for the rooms he was renting, and the meals he would be served. Mr. Robert Bonting (played by Sir Cedric Hardwicke) originally started his tea-broker business (in 1868) with 100 pounds, or $12,423 in 2016 dollars. Kitty Langley gave Annie Rowley one Sovereign: a gold coin worth about one Pound Sterling, i.e., one Pound. Since 1957, they've been minted again, but are used as gold bullion (they're certainly worth a lot more than one pound in 2016 - they're gold, and weigh slightly over one-quarter ounce (as of this writing, gold is trading for about $1,130 an ounce, so today's Sovereigns are worth $250-300)). Interestingly, and tragically, Laird Cregar went on a crash diet (which included prescribed amphetamines) to obtain the part in this film, and that caused a strain on his system that would eventually kill him this very same year, in December of 1944. Vincent Price delivered his eulogy, and Cregar currently has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Cregar died at age 31, and could have conceivably become much more well-known than he currently is - I suspect most of you reading this haven't heard of him. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** This may, or may not, be a major spoiler, so I advise you to skip this paragraph entirely until you've finished the film, even if you read the rest of the Spoilers Section: it is a known quantity, in advance, that "The Lodger" in Hitchcock's 1927 film turned out to be innocent in the end. However, the reason for that was because the big-name star of that film, Arthur Chesney, did not want his reputation sullied by being associated with Jack the Ripper (whom a certain percentage of viewers still remembered). I say this only because, if I remember correctly, there was some controversy about what Hitchcock really wanted (or am I thinking of "Suspicion?"), and given that there are so many remakes of the 1927 version, it seems highly unlikely that "the lodger" will end up being innocent in every single version. We're about to see ... How coincidental that the lodger's name is Mr. Slade. Robert Bonting, the landlady's husband, was a tea-broker on Mincing Lane, which was, in the late 19th century, the world's leading center for spice and tea trading. There are almost exact similarities between Mr. Slade turning the pictures of the old actresses (in his bedroom) around so he couldn't see them, and with what Arthur Chesney did in Hitchcock's 1927 film. For a moment, I thought the part with the two shrews in the tavern (playing the concertina) could be an upcoming sign of dullness, but it only lasted for a minute or two, and it had a dramatic reason for existing. I'm over halfway through this film, and am really enjoying it, even more than the Hitchcock version (which was, of course, silent). Speaking of which, the techniques Hitchcock used in his silent film were so vastly different, that they make for a fascinating study. For example, to create tension when The Lodger was descending the stairs, he couldn't use footsteps (there was no sound), so he had to show a close-up of a hand, sliding down the railing. Hitchcock, himself, admitted that footsteps would have made for a more-effective buildup of tension, and he would have used them had the technology been available. It's too bad he wasn't around for more color films, which have a very different strategy than filming in black-and-white. Look at this cinematography - what an imposing shot this is: *** END SPOILERS *** Listen to what I say here: Even if you don't think you like silent films, watch Hitchcock's 1927 version of "The Lodger" first, *then* watch this version. They make wonderful companion pieces, even though this is a remake - this is a splendid picture that stands on its own; it's better still when watched after the original: You'll love them both, and watching both makes both of them better: Even though these two films were made independently of each other, they are best viewed as a diptych, making sure to go in chronological order. Whaam!
  15. It sounds kind of pathetic, but I sometimes try and link together two small themes when it comes to selecting my next film - in this case, the theme was Jacqueline Scott, who co-starred as Polly Baron in "Macabre," and also co-starred as Carol Maxwell in "The Galaxy Being," the very first episode of "The Outer Limits." It's a thin, tenuous link, to be sure - not unlike throwing a dart, blindfolded, at a global map to determine your next family vacation, but I wouldn't have discovered "Macabre" without it. "Macabre" was one of the first "huckster" films, where director William Castle gave each patron a $1,000 "frightened-to-death insurance policy" upon entering the theater, written by Lloyd's of London. If anyone died of fright during the film, their beneficiaries got $1,000. There's also a plea at the very beginning to "look out for your neighbor" showing any signs of distress, so that appropriate medical attention can be obtained quickly, and another plea at the end, urging customers not to tell anyone about the film's surprise ending. The campy, promotional aspect of this film is, by far, the most important and historical thing about it; nothing else is of any merit. Although "Macabre" is completely dated, the one thing about it that's not is the basic premise: A man's daughter is kidnapped, and placed into a coffin, where she has about five hours of air before she suffocates. The film is a "race-against-time" pioneer that would be very typical in today's landscape - in that regard, it was truly a groundbreaking movie (although I don't really know whether or not it was the first of its type). Two people whom you may recognize from "Macabre" are Jim Backus (Mr. Magoo, and The Millionaire on "Gilligan's Island") and Ellen Corby (Grandma Walton on "The Waltons," whom I've been running into a *lot* in shows aired around the turn of the 50s-60s decades - I've seen her in several anthology series, and have written about her on this website). About 2/3 of the way through the film, I sneak-peaked a look at some reviews in order to get some characters straight (I still don't know the infamous "twist ending"), and Leonard Maltin seems to sum things up nicely when he said, "promises much, delivers little." Despite William Castle's hype about the film (this is apparently the first movie ever to have "gimmick promotion"), this is shaping up strongly to be typical, B-level 1950's suspense (so far, there's very little horror to be found). I found it very difficult to sort through the relationships of the characters in this film, so I'm going to explain them to you here (this is after about thirty minutes of research, and will save you time without ruining anything about the movie). I very much recommend that you read them *before* seeing the movie (if you get the five following bullet points straight in your mind, the movie will be *much* easier to comprehend); nevertheless, since they reveal some relationships - albeit none that harm the plot - I will mark them as spoilers: *** MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW (SORT OF - THEY'RE MORE HELPFUL THAN HARMFUL) *** * There are three "families" involved, the Wetherbys (Wealthy older man), the Barretts (Doctor), and the Tyloes (Sheriff). * There are two deceased girls, both daughters of the wealthy, older Jode Weatherby. * Alice Wetherby Barrett was one of the daughters, died a few years before, and was married to Dr. Barrett. A nuanced point is that Alice also apparently had a relationship with Sheriff Tyloe before Dr. Barrett took her away from him (this issue is presented very subtly in the film, and is easily missed, but you will notice obvious animosity in how the Sheriff feels about the Doctor). * Nancy Wetherby (Tyloe?), who was blind, was another daughter, died just a few nights ago, and had some sort of relationship with Sheriff Tyloe. I cannot figure out whether or not they were married, but imdb.com implies that they were, perhaps incorrectly (I don't think they were). There is a flashback in the film that shows the relationship between Nancy and Sheriff Tyloe - Nancy is also a girl who sleeps around, and has gotten pregnant by one of her lovers (even she doesn't know who it is). * Marge Barrett (the daughter of Dr. Barrett and Alice) is 3 years old, is Jode Wetherby's granddaughter, and is the one who's kidnapped. *** END MILD SPOILERS *** This movie was neither scary nor suspenseful. Unless you are a hardcore, and I mean hardcore, movie fan, your time is best spent as far away from this drivel as possible. There was almost nothing to like about this movie, and it was one of the worst films I've seen in a long time. But not *the* worst: That honor goes to "Five" (but not by much). To show how much William Castle evolved in ten years, and also to show how much of an influence "Psycho" had on the genre when it came out in 1960, William Castle was the Producer, believe it or not, of the 1968 classic, "Rosemary's Baby."
  16. I cannot believe it! I saw "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" when it was released in theaters in 1986 - right at the beginning of my "art-house theater period," when I was going to great lengths to expose myself to culture other than Del Taco. Or perhaps it was in 1990 after the rating changed (see below). By chance, I happened to look up Merle Dixon - one of the primary characters on "The Walking Dead" - and saw that his name was Michael Rooker. I didn't recognize the name, and like I usually do, I looked him up on Wikipedia, only to have my *jaw drop* when I saw that he was *Henry*! I couldn't (and still can't) believe it! I saw *Merle Dixon* thirty years ago in an art film! You just have no idea how shocked I am to find this out (I just found it out twenty minutes ago, and immediately rented the movie on Amazon). Warning: I remember "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" as one of the more violent, disturbing pictures I have ever seen, so even though it's an "art film," it's a no-holds-barred, well, it's a no-holds-barred portrait of a serial killer, so if you're disturbed by films such as "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover," you might want to stay away from this. This film was originally rated "X" for its sheer brutality, but that got changed to NC-17 when that rating was implemented in 1990, so ... fair warning. It was shot in less than one month with a budget of $110,000, and is widely (though not universally) critically acclaimed. Most importantly, it is *not* a slasher film despite its brutality. I just started the movie, and I can't believe I'm watching Merle Dixon at age 30! Damn! One of the first things I recall is that I remember "Henry" as being a somewhat diminutive man; whereas "Merle" is a large, imposing figure - in reality, Michael Rooker is 5'10", which will probably come as a surprise to viewers of The Walking Dead: They portray him very well as a bigger man (and someone who you would not want to mess with). About halfway into the movie now, and I'm having a bit of trouble separating Henry from Merle, but Michael Rooker is an *excellent* Henry. Unlike so many other films dealing with this type of subject, there's no offsetting humor, no laughs (not even dark laughs), no letup of the grungy lives being portrayed, no remorse or complexity of character (other than the obvious: Henry was most likely severely abused as a child, but the way he tells it, we're not entirely certain because his story has holes in it) - this film is just straightforward "portrayal," and it's because of that, that it seems so bone-chillingly real. These are people that, under no circumstances, would you want to try and "reform" or "help"; you'd just want to stay as far the hell away from them as you possibly could. Henry just "introduced" his prison friend Otis (Tom Towles) to murder, and from what I remember, Otis is going to begin enjoying it very shortly, There is seemingly a hint of honor in Henry sticking up for Otis's sister, Becky (Tracy Arnold), when Otis crosses the line in the way he touches her - Becky (who has just left an abusive husband) is quite taken by Henry, as the two have child abuse in common, and Henry, in turn, seems to be somewhat moved by Becky's fondness for him - so we're dealing with 99.5% evil; not quite 100% evil ... at least not yet. On the other hand, Otis is revealed to be a sociopath perhaps even more depraved than Henry (I know that sounds impossible, but it's true) - whereas Henry's "illness" is deeply ingrained in his soul, that of Otis is closer to the surface, and more obviously hedonistic and perverse - he is the type of person society needs to have eliminated at all costs (they both are, but Otis's newfound fetish is even more repulsive than Henry's psyche). I didn't exactly remember the ending, but close enough. This is one intense movie. This is considered a "psychological horror" film, and the psychology behind it lies in the fact that, while you're watching it in the confines of your living room, there are people out there - maybe right outside your house - just like Henry and Otis, who are going to commit another random murder that evening. Wherever you are in an urban area, there's probably a murderer within two miles of you - if that isn't terrifying, nothing is.
  17. After viewing the 1956 version of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much," I decided to watch the 1934 film by the same name, also directed by Hitchcock. Not satisfied with his earlier work, Hitchcock decided to remake the film. While the basic plot remains the same, I was surprised at just how different the two films are. I liked parts of both films, but loved neither. Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day are endearing in the 1956 version in their roles as a Midwestern doctor and his wife on a Moroccan holiday. But the film felt too long as it went on-and-on beyond what I considered the climax of the movie. *** MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW *** The 1934 version felt too long as well, with an unsatisfying shootout scene near the end that felt oddly out of place in the film. There was more humor in this version (the dental office scene in this film being more entertaining than the taxidermist scene in the 1956 version), but there were a lot of flaws throughout the film which made me understand why Hitchcock would want a mulligan.
  18. You may be asking yourselves: 'What in God's name are you doing watching, much less writing about, 'Airport '77,' Don?' And you'd be wise to ask both questions - watching this God-forsaken movie was an accident: I thought it was a sequel to "Airplane!," the uproariously funny parody of "Airport" (1970), but Airplane! came out in 1980, and was a parody of the entire, four-film Airport franchise, "Airport '77" being the third of four. Before watching it, we took a quick peak at Wikipedia, and noticed in one section Roger Ebert's comment that "The movie’s a big, slick entertainment, relentlessly ridiculous and therefore never boring for long," and took that to mean that although there may be moments of downtime, the yucks won't let up for long - hoo, boy, what a mistaken interpretation that was! About 45 minutes into the film, my friend and I commented about how this film was taking an awfully long time to build up to some laughs, and I made an off-the-cuff comment about it being the wrong movie before we realized, about five-minutes later, that I was (despite my random, clueless comment) correct: We weren't watching a comedy; we were watching a disaster movie in the same vein as "The Poseidon Adventure," only worse - much worse ... there *is* no sequel to "Airplane!" So not only were we watching a crummy disaster film, which was so bad we thought we were watching a comedy for nearly 45 minutes, we were watching the third of four in a franchise, not even having the dignity of context (I believe I saw the original, long, long ago, but never saw any sequels). It only made sense, looking at the absurdly rich cast of characters, that they all got together and agreed to make a slapstick for one last, goofy hurrah together on the screen: Joseph Cotten, Olivia de Havilland, Jimmy Stewart, Jack Lemmon, George Kennedy, Lee Grant, Christopher Lee, Brenda Vaccaro ... that is one seriously famous group of older actors, but instead of going down in a barrel of laughs, they crash-landed in a giant ball of flame and shame: Airport '77 is one of the worst movies I've seen in my adult life. How could this troupe have agreed to sully their reputations by appearing together in this dreadful affair? Even if they were all on the verge of bankruptcy, is there nothing sacred anymore? This movie has nothing worth discussing, with the one exception of the rescue scene at the end, which is interesting because it uses actual Navy rescue techniques. Unless you're OCD, and have a mental requirement to watch films in their entirety (as I do), you're better off skipping to the last scene, to the rescue effort (which, admittedly, is interesting), and eschewing the rest of this awful, awful excuse for cinema.
  19. A recent discussion about "Vertigo" on this website made me think about watching "Rear Window" again. I saw this film years ago, and I loved it. I watched it again last night with the same result. This film is regarded by many critics as one of Hitchcock's best. It stars James Stewart as a world famous photographer sidelined with a broken leg. As he sits in his apartment recovering from his injury, he becomes a voyuer, passing the hours watching the lives of his neighbors unfold through their rear windows. The result is a fascinating look at human nature, and our desire to watch. Like Stewart's character, Jeff, we are drawn into the lives of these strangers, without knowing their names or in some cases, ever hearing them speak. Love, marriage, fidelity, success, failure and of course (it is Hitchcock after all) murder--all of these subjects are put on display, simply by allowing us to sit and stare out of the window with Jeff. Grace Kelly is luminous as Jeff's girlfriend, Lisa Fremont. A successful fashion model who is madly in love with him, she appears in one gorgeous dress after another, begging for Jeff's attention, but failing to draw his gaze away from the window with her more than ample charms. Hitchcock films Lisa so that we are seduced by her, even when Jeff is not. She faces the camera as she kisses his neck, begging him to pay attention to her. Her Edith Head wardrobe is divine. Anyone remotely interested in 1950s fashions will love seeing the frocks Kelly so beautifully wears. Jeff ignoring Lisa for his voyeuristic pursuits makes this film feel relevant in 2016. Who hasn't seen groups of people sitting together, heads down, scrolling through their Facebook feeds or reading the news on their phones? Would they be happier if they looked up and talked to each other? Or, consider the concert-goers, taking endless photos and posting them on social media. Would they enjoy the performance more if they pocketed their phones and lost themselves in the music? In 1954, Hitchcock was making a statement about people watching films and, perhaps, TV. Think about how much more pervasive passive voyeurism has become in the past 60 years. "Rear Window" succeeds on many levels. It is a story of romance and mystery. There is a great deal of suspense in this film as it unfolds, all extremely well done by the master. If you haven't seen "Rear Window," I highly recommend that you do.
  20. "Rope," Hitchcock's first Technicolor film, was an experiment of sorts for the director. The action takes place in real time, edited to appear as a single, continuous shot through the use of long takes. This movie is based on a play of the same name, and this filming technique makes the viewer feel as if they are watching a play rather than a film. *** SPOILER ALERT! *** "Rope" is the tale of two young roomnates who strangle a former classmate minutes before they host a dinner party. The corpse is stuffed into a large chest, on which they decide to serve their meal to their guests. The men had no issues with the deceased; they merely wanted to murder for murder's sake. Among the guests at the dinner party are the dead boy's father and fiancee. James Stewart plays the young men's prep school housemaster, who eventually unravels the mystery. John Dall is outstanding as the arrogant Brandon Shaw, who thinks commiting the perfect murder makes him superior to other men. Constance Collier gives a delightful performance as the dead man's aunt. James Stewart seems miscast in his role, and Farley Granger overacts on occasion as the nervous pianist. There is, however, a wonderful scene with Granger playing the piano while Stewart's character questions him. The metronome ticks faster and faster while the music becomes increasingly dissonant, creating a palpable sense of terror and suspense.
  21. I saw "Taxi Driver" years ago, and the only thing I remembered was finding Jodie Foster's portrayal of a 12-year-old prostitute unsettling. I am one year younger than Jodi Foster, so, at the time, her character stood out in my mind. I recently re-watched the film, and I am glad I did. "Taxi Driver" is a masterpiece. It is a gritty tale about the underbelly of New York City. Robert De Niro's portrayal of Travis Bickle, a lonely and depressed former U.S. Marine who becomes a taxi driver, is phenomenal. Is this troubled young man insane, a hero, or a little of both? De Niro's nuanced performance captures the essence of Bickle, and we are drawn into his world of paranoia, violence and redemption. There are outstanding performances by Jodie Foster, a long-haired and buffed Harvey Keitel, and Peter Boyle. Even Scorsese has a very good cameo as one of Bickle's more interesting passengers.
  22. I hadn't seen "Marathon Man" since I was in high school - given my filtered memory, I'm surprised at how slow the film starts off, but once it builds (about one-third or one-half way through), it builds quickly and relentlessly. It's a fiendishly fun thriller that will make you wince, pity, fear, and cheer, all with unresolved questions at the end, but you may be surprised at how slowly the film begins. An obvious repeated theme in this film is pain, and the ability to "run through it," and the marathon motif is no MacGuffin - it's highly symbolic of the horrors which are coming. Speaking of MacGuffins, I've started working my way through "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" whose thread you'll find in that link - I hope people see an episode they remember, and feel free to discuss it, as with all the old TV series that I've gone through - it has been, and continues to be, my hope that our members will find this to be a fun place to discuss their old favorites, right down to the sub-atomic level of detail - same goes with all these old films I've been joyfully revisiting. One of my goals with this website is to get some of my knowledge down on paper for future generations, so they don't have to learn it all over again. Although there's no "knowledge" in this little essay, I hope it at least gives you a stroll down memory lane - who knows? Maybe it will inspire some of you to watch the film again, decades later. My only regret is that our human lifespan isn't 250 years so I could do everything I'd like to do, but if it was 250 years, I'd wish it were a thousand, and if it were a thousand, I'd wish it were a million (unless, of course, I was in "The Escape Clause," - "The Twilight Zone," Season 1, Episode 6, co-starring none other than the first Latino ever to be nominated for an Academy Award, Thomas Gomez). There's a humorous, famous, and somewhat legendary story about an interplay between Dustin Hoffman and Sir Lawrence Olivier about "Why don't you just try acting?" that's worth reading about. It is nearly disturbing how much I find William Devane to resemble Jack Nicholson in this film. I cannot possibly be the only one who has noticed this - if Jack Nicholson and Robert F. Kennedy had had a baby, it would have been William Devane. The other two supporting roles, played by Roy Scheider and Marthe Keller completes the billing of quite a talented cast, with even more character actors who played their roles very well - the cast may have been this film's biggest overall strength, or number two just behind the unrelenting suspense which lasts for over an hour.
  23. Torment was originally released in Sweden as "Hets," and then in the U.K. as "Frenzy." Released in 1944, it represents Ingmar Bergman's first directorial work, although he wasn't the official director (he co-directed without credit, and also wrote the screenplay). This is the first film in our Bergman retrospective, as we're going in chronological order. Having watched about 45 minutes of the movie as I post this, I can tell you right now: It's worth your time! Of note: This was released during WWII, not that this is readily evident from what I've seen so far, but how could it not have affected things?
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