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Black Jack (1968)
Of all the Spaghetti Westerns I've seen, this is among the top 5 in my estimation. The acting, photography, and story are all exceptional. Robert Woods has never been better than he is in this film, IMHO.
I love surprise endings, and the darker the better. This film really has no good guys, per se, so it helps the film to standout, among so many other standard spaghetti westerns.
For what it's worth, my other top 5 films are: Deguello, White Apache, The Hills Run Red, and Hate Thy Neighbor, with Adios Hombre as a close runner-up.
If you've never seen this classic, do so, if you can. It's well-worth the effort. Too bad these classics have yet to appear on DVD, in widescreen color.
Excellent film, for it's time!
I really like this film a lot. I'm a big fan of Sterling Hayden, Nancy Gates, and Frank Sinatra.
There's no arguing that it could have been better. Some actors are miscast (would have preferred a more seasoned actor play Slim...such as Martin Landau), but overall, it's a fun film to watch.
In my opinion, Frank Sinatra was a much better "bad guy" actor than he ever was playing "good guys". He's the best thing about this film...sinister, self-serving, and cold-blooded. A great performance!
Like others have said, it's the "fifties" sets and costumes that make this really interesting. Had the director spent a little more time in choosing the right weapons, and tightened up the secondary casting, it probably would have fared better.
If you've never seen it, do yourself a favor. It's a hoot, warts and all.
This Is A Painful Waste Of Time
I don't know where to start.
Although the acting is exceptional in every way, this is neither a comedy nor an entertaining film to watch. Before I begin, I'll say this. This review may contain spoilers, but it won't matter, since the film isn't worth viewing anyway.
What's it about? Well, it's about a couple of old college chums who go on a wine-tasting trip, prior to the marriage of one of them. They talk, they drink wine, they talk some more, they eat, they drink some more wine....and talk, talk, talk.
Giamatti plays the Woody Allen type nerd, who is divorced, and is as pretentious as they come. It's easy to see why his wife left him. He's also morose and insecure. And...he's a thief, stealing money from his own sweet mother. Church is the other buddy...a not too smart, washed-up actor, who can't keep his #@@*& in his pants. They meet up with two women along their journey, and then the four of them talk, drink wine, and eat out. It's supposed to be a comedy, yet most of it is neither funny, nor interesting. (I admit that the crashing of Giomatti's car is funny, but that's it.) Sitting through this film is an ordeal, and that's not what watching movies should be about. It seems that every year, Hollywood loves to over-praise a turkey (it was Lost In Translation, the previous year), and this is the over-rated turkey for 2004. I wish I had back the two hours I spent watching this thing. I gave it a two, only because of the performances of the actors.
Be aware. Unless you like this kind of talky movie, you'll be bored to death.
Once a Thief (1965)
Good, Well Made Noir
I suppose I like the cast better than the film, itself. Heflin, Palance, Ann-Margret, Chandler, and Delon are all watchable.
This may very well be Chandler's finest performance (and he was always good at playing bad guys).
The story is one we've all seen before, many times, yet the cast makes it worth watching. Ann-Margret might not have been as good as she could have been, but she's not really that bad.
Even the scenes involving the little girl work well, and the chemistry between she and Delon is exceptional.
The surprise ending is tense and exciting. Too bad there's no DVD of this film. I'd buy it.
Not Too Bad, But Not Very Good, Either
This film starts off fine, but fails along the way. Duffy does his best, but he lacks the proper edginess to pull off his character. Someone like Willem Defoe or James Woods would have been far better in the role. Hyland is attractive, but hardly sexy or pretty enough to drive Duffy's character to distraction.
The finale is simply ridiculous. What person would commit such an act in broad daylight, in a city park? Any intelligent person would have done it indoors, hidden from public view.
Anyone expecting a lighthearted sexual romp starring Dallas's Bobby will be in for a shock. It's quite the opposite. He's put on a few extra pounds and seems in constant need of a bath. It seems odd to me that any man who is as attracted to the woman as he, would allow himself to remain as scroungy as Duffy's character. It just doesn't make any sense.
Don't expect any happy endings, and it might be worth a look, just to see Patrick Duffy play against type.
Not perfect, but certainly a keeper to me.
Many people hate movies that skip over the happy endings, or fail to feature any likable characters, but I'm not like that, at all. If you are, you probably won't like this movie.
Most of the characters are unscrupulous, and in some cases, downright despicable. I love that in a movie. Hehe.
It kept my attention all the way through with lots of action, and the final shootout was awesome.
I love Lili Taylor in anything, and she's great here. Also worth noting are the performances of a couple of highly underrated actors....Paul Schulze and Adam Trese. Watching Tony Danza play a gay crimelord is a hoot.
Sure, it's downbeat, gritty, and dreary, but isn't that what gangsters and drug trafficking is all about? Love it!
An American in Paris (1951)
Maybe the worst Oscar winner in history.....
When AFI released it's list of the Top 100 films of all time, I decided to check out the ones I'd missed, and of all 100 films listed (except the silent films, which I didn't bother with), this is THE turkey of them all. It was an ordeal just sitting through it, and here's why:
Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron had no chemistry whatsoever...he was too old for the part, and she was very unattractive (though in later years she blossomed into a real looker, I admit).
Oscar Levant was as humorous as a graveyard, and served no purpose, at all.
This was obviously filmed on the back lot of the studios, and doesn't in any way resemble Paris.
All in all, it's much-a-do about nothing, and remains (to me) the most overrated film of all time.
Before avid fans start screaming that I must hate musicals, I don't. I loved Chicago, The Sound Of Music, South Pacific, and many others, but this one is not worth the time to endure sitting through it. I can't think of one good thing I gained from watching it
Shoot Out (1971)
This isn't great, but it's entertaining.
I admit that it's not the best western ever made, by a long shot, but it's worth watching just for the fine performance of Robert F. Lyons. He should have won an Oscar nomination for "Pendulum", and his performance here is almost as good. He made a chilling bad guy in both films.
Anyone ever notice that he wore the same shirt in this film that Roddy McDowall wore in "Five Card Stud" (which was made by Hathaway and Wallis)? Too bad they didn't have Lyons play the same role in that classic. McDowall did his best, but he couldn't match Lyons portraying a bad guy cowboy.....too British.
Say what you will. I like this one.
Journey to Shiloh (1968)
Not Especially true to history.....but enjoyable
This is one of those films that works because of the cast. It's fun to watch actors not well-suited to western films give it their best shot, and do well, despite that fact.
Old timers like Noah Beery, Jr and John Doucette were used to the genre, and add to the film greatly.
Newcomers (at the time), like James Caan, Michael Sarrazin, Jan-Michael Vincent, Harrison Ford, and Robert Pine would all go on to better things, but they do well here, too. Added to the mix is a TV leftover, Paul Peterson, who's part is small, but well-done.
It was obvious that the film was cast and made like it was because of the growing youth market (Wild In The Streets, Psych-Out, Savage Seven, and Chubasco, among others).
I love this film very much, and wait patiently for a widescreen DVD to be released. I can only hope I live long enough to see it happen.
High School Big Shot (1959)
Could have been so much better, but it's badly directed....
This could have been so much better than it turned out. Tom Pittman gives a good performance and some of the older actors do well with what they have to work with, but it just doesn't work.
First, the actors are much too old to play high school students, especially Howard Veit (Vince). He looks about thirty. Second, it's hard to sympathize with poor Marv, especially since Betty is not all that hot, to start with.
*******Spoilers****** The ending is so strange. It looks like the director intended for Pittman's character to get shot, but there are no gunshots...he's just knocked to the cement, where he lays there until the ambulance drivers pick him up and place him on a stretcher (face down!). What were his injuries? A skinned knee? Goofy! Vince has just shot his girlfriend dead without any remorse whatsoever, yet he simply shoves Marv to the ground and rushes off, despite the fact that he makes no secret of the fact that he hates the kid. And to make matters even sillier, Marv begs the police to tell his father he's sorry. (Duh! Hey Marv. You just got knocked around. I think you will have plenty of opportunities to tell your father you're sorry...in person). And this writer didn't get an Oscar nomination? Skip it, unless you get to watch it on MST.
Da jue dou (1971)
A great flick, but when will it be released?
Just to let everyone know that the new DVD release of this movie is NOT the original version, but an edited one.
The VHS version was released sometime ago, and clocked in at 90 minutes. It's called "Duel Of The Shaolin Fist". At least it's widescreen, but it's been edited considerably.
The DVD release is full screen (so we get a good look at half their faces in many scenes), and it is 98 minutes long. Unfortunately, the final scene is edited out, the film is spotty, and it skips. Don't be misled by the original title. It's NOT "Duel Of The Iron Fist"! When will we be able to get an uncut original DVD of this classic movie?
The "8" I rated it is for the full-length original, not this mess.
The Flesh Eaters (1964)
Early Gor Flick Is Worth Watching...For The laughs
This is one of those shockers that I fondly remember for the silliness of it all, and the sudden gore factor....
*********Spoiler******** The most memorable scene in the film is when the beatnik (Omar) is given what he thinks is a shot of whiskey, when in fact it's a drink containing "flesh eaters". I love it when he rubs his belly and moans. "That sure does hit my spot." A few minutes later, he's holding his guts in his hands, and screaming in terror. I never did understand how the flesh eaters decided to leave the rest of him whole.
Bad acting, silly story, but worth watching for the sheer silliness of it all. Very low-budget! If you buy this black and white film, make sure it contains the "sudden color" scene uncut, or you're missing the true effect of it.
Memorable, but don't expect a lot.
Bad, bad, bad movie, but.....
This is a classic example of a "B" movie. It has it all...bad dialog, bad acting, bad directing, and bad acting. Is it worth watching? Well, maybe.
Even good old Ben Johnson doesn't help, as he seems to realize what a turkey this movie really is. Shame, as he was a fine actor.
The story involves a small Texas town, in which a couple of lowlifes rape a woman and murder a young man (right in front of his father). The man's murder is one of the most intense, well-made scenes I've ever seen, and is the best part of the movie, IMHO. Unfortunately, the rest of the film pales by comparison.
The dead man's father seeks justice, and will stop at nothing until he gets it.
In the end, as you would expect, the bad guys get what's coming to them.
The real reason that this film might be of interest is the Lou Diamond Phillips connection (billed as Lou Diamond here). He co-wrote the screenplay, and plays one of the two bad guys. His performance in the movie is the best in the film, and might be worth watching, for that alone. Ironically, the only other exceptional performance is young Thom Meyers, as the unfortunate son, since both actors die in a similar fashion in the film.
All in all, it's a boring film, worth watching for Phillip's and Meyer's performances, but little else.
Can you say DISAPPOINTED???
While I can't fault the film for the acting, or shear majesty of the film, I am EXTREMELY disappointed in the way it distorts Homer's work.
Characters die that weren't supposed to and others live that were killed off in the original story. Still others live longer than the original story had them survive, characters are changed up completely, and Achilles, who's body was supposed to be immune to daggers, swords, arrows, and spears, takes four arrows too many. I realize that it was only loosely based on the Homer epic, but enough is enough. There was no real reason to change that much of the story....it was fine just as it was.
Bana and O'Toole are both excellent, as is Burrows, but it left me sitting in wonder when it ended....is that what all the talk is about? Personally, I much preferred the mini-series, "Helen Of Troy" to this one.
The Killing Jar (1997)
Contrary To What Others Might Have Said
I enjoyed this film a lot! I thought that the story and the direction were fine, and this is a much better film than I ever imagined. I enjoyed it enough that I bought it, after renting it.
The biggest problem with the film lies in the fact that two of the victims appear to survive by the end of the film, when there's no chance of that happening. The human body can take a lot of abuse, but not that much. Plus, the film ends too soon to let us know what happened to Sanford and his wife.
Still, it's a taut, well-made film, with the actors giving some gritty performances. Cullen, Tomita, and Bower do a great job with their roles.
It's obviously not for every taste (what movie is?), but I sure liked it!
Scream for Help (1984)
Perhaps I wasn't expecting very much.....
I like this movie a lot. True, it's not a cinema classic, but as a "B" horror film, it rates a B+. The story, acting, and direction are much better than most films of this sort.
My biggest complaint with the film is the music, which is often out of sync with the film, and at other times shrill to the point of being annoying.
The actors do a fine job, particularly Sisto, in the sleasy, white trash role. The young actress who stars in this film is quite effective, and I have to wonder why she didn't get a career boost, after this one.
I'd like to purchase this film, if it is ever released on DVD.
I like this movie, but
I like this movie very much, but it is not without flaws, for sure. For instance, would a gangster meet the guys that are trying to kill him on a deserted island in the Caribbean, armed with nothing but a knife? Ha! And what possessed the costume guys to dress these guys in suits (one in a BLACK shirt, no less), when they are in the Bahamas? Can you say....stupid? Finally, in a scene in which a man gets shot in the belly, the shooter is obviously not pointing his gun at him. Cheesy, at best!
Still, the performers rise above the bad directing and out-of-place costumes, so it's worth watching, for that purpose, alone. Alex Cord and Joseph Wiseman are particularly good as coldhearted, sadistic gangsters, and there's even an early appearance by Roy Scheider.
Interesting that it's much better than the book (especially the ending), since that rarely happens.
Lost in Translation (2003)
What a sleeper!
Bill Murray can't sleep, Scarlet Johansson can't sleep, but they sure made me sleepy. I can't believe this droll piece of celluloid trash beat out Cold Mountain (or any number of other fine films) for a Best Picture nomination!
Bill Murray received a nomination for portraying himself! Wow! That hasn't happened since Woody Allen got one for his role in "Annie Hall". As far as the screenplay is concerned, I got the impression that it was all improvised, start to finish. It must be a blessing to be a member of a famous Hollywood family, to get this much notice for a film such as this.
I wanted to scream at them...go home, if you are so unhappy. I really didn't care about these people, or their predicament, and they simply bored me to tears.
Scarlet Johansson does show great promise as an actress, but everyone is so wasted in this movie.
I want my money back.
The Journeyman (2001)
Gritty And Well Made Western
If you like your westerns gritty and violent, this will be right up your alley. I loved it!
The story of two brothers who end up raised in totally different ways is not like any other western you'll ever see, but that's what makes it so enthralling.
It's always fun to watch character actors like Barry Corbin and Burton Gilliam, and they are both great in this film.
The real star of the film is Brad Hunt. His acting is the kind that makes us all want to take note of his name. If there is any justice at all, Hunt will become a big star. He's that good.
If you don't like violent westerns, you may want to skip this one (it makes Unforgiven look like a bright ray of sunshine, by comparison), but otherwise, you owe it to yourself to see it, if nothing else, to see Brad Hunt's sensational performance.
Birth Rite (2003)
Awful, Awful, Awful
I don't know what I expected when I rented this film, but I sure didn't care for it.
Laura Nativo does a nice job of acting, and so does Kyle Lupo. That's the good news. The rest of the young cast are eye-candy, especially Danny Wolske.
The real problem here is the script, the staging, and the directing. The story is laughable and unrealistic. ............Spoiler.........
When one of the characters gets knifed to death, why is it not shown, and why is he shown with blood all over his body, but no wounds?
The fight sequence near the end is downright ridiculous! We are expected to believe that this woman is able to get the best of the muscular hunk she's fighting, yet he's got mystical powers, in addition to his natural strength! Come on!
I suspect that all of the actors could do much better, given the right script and proper direction.
The Last Outlaw (1993)
Not bad, but could have been sooooo much better!
This film is not too bad, but the most annoying things about it are:
Mickey Rourke's makeup and wardrobe. His stupid Fu Manchu mustache is so out-of-place. His big, floppy hat, along with it, doesn't help, and at times, he's dressed in way too many layers of clothes for the hot, summer plains...which makes him appear heavy, uncomfortable, and ridiculous.
Secondly, the final scene is WAY too short, truncated, and unbelievable.....it's almost laughable, especially after the way the scenes before it were so action-packed.
Still, Rourke and Mulroney are good in their roles and fun to watch. Let's face it....Rourke is the quintessential bad guy!
The Hunting Party (1971)
I would love to see this movie released on DVD (Wide Screen format). It's tough, gritty, and exciting. How can you go wrong with Gene Hackman, Candace Bergen, Simon Oakland, and L. Q. Jones. The Sharps rifles are real plus here. Very good movie. Now if someone will just release it...
A Time for Killing (1967)
This has always been one of my favorite Civil War flicks, along with Shenandoah, and Journey To Shiloh. Very gritty, exciting movie! However, I would never buy it unless it's released in the "wide screen" format, since much of the movie is invisible, due to the unacceptable use "pan and scan". Here's my vote for a DVD Wide Screen release.
The Yellow Canary (1963)
Good lost film.
It's a shame that this film gets trashed all the time by critics, when it's really a fine Rod Serling movie. Boone, Eden, and Forrest give nice performances in this little mystery. I sure wish that I could find a copy of it on VHS, but I don't think it's ever been released on video. Maybe someday.
From Beyond the Grave (1974)
Great little horror film
I first saw this film in a drive-in theater, as "The Creatures", in 1973. My favorite one of the four is "The Gate Crasher". Totally cool! David Warner is such a great actor, but I wish that the director had switched him with Ian Ogilvy, who's featured in another story. Ogilvy was always under-used, in my opinion.