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If Rod Serling made movies
Caught "Seconds" on demand, and I was intrigued. A middle aged man is given an extreme plastic surgery makeover while his death is staged, so he can go on living a new life. But, all that glitters is not gold.
The film introduces us to Arthur Hamilton (John Randolph) a mild mannered, middle aged married bank executive. Settled into a comfortable existence, we can sense that there is something missing. He and his wife seem distant. Maybe it has to do with the phone calls he's been receiving. Perhaps that the calls are from a friend that died recently, have something to do with it.
Told by his "dead" friend about the procedure, Hamilton decides to go see for himself. In an anonymous building in Manhattan, he meets Jeff Corey, and Will Geer, as the director and owner, respectively, of a company that will fake Hamilton's death, and recreate him as a new man, in the form of Rock Hudson.
Unfortunately , Hamilton has a hard time adjusting to his new life and wants a do over. But there are no second chances here...
One of the things I love about this movie is the absolute creepiness hanging over every scene, courtesy of director John Frankenheimer and his excellent cast. You just know it's not going to end up well for Hamilton, but the journey is the fun here. Highly Recommended
Farewell, My Lovely (1975)
I knew I was in for a treat when I heard the opening theme
There's something about LA in the 40's that makes some great material. Perhaps because we think of it as a simpler time, or that it was a sun bathed paradise, but deep down it had its share of dark secrets, just like every other place. Philip Marlowe's LA is no different. A true gem of a film and the spiritual companion to Chinatown, this movie really does peel back the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown to reveal its seedy underbelly. Prostitution, murder, corrupt cops. It's all here, and expertly acted by the best Marlowe, Robert Mitchum. A tired, acerbic, street smart private eye who has seen it all. But he doesn't see this. A case involving a recently released convict and the search for his girl Velma lead him down the darkest paths, to places he never dared go. An absolutely stunning movie, it's one of my all time favorites.
Defending Your Life (1991)
A desert island film.
I've been meaning to write a review of Defending Your Life for years, so here goes. I first saw this movie in the early 90's on HBO as a teenager. Even then, I knew it was special. Hilariously funny, thought provoking, romantic, and most importantly, timeless. We follow Daniel Miller, a successful Los Angeles yuppie, who, in his new car, on his birthday, is struck and killed in a collision with a bus while fiddling with the CD player. He awakes in a strange place, a sort of purgatory, which happens to look a lot like a hotel. Disoriented, and unaware what's going on, he learns that he has died, and in order for him to move on, he must defend the actions he has taken in life, to a two judge tribunal. Representing Daniel in his case, is the great Rip Torn, (RIP) while the prosecutor, is charmingly referred to as "The Dragon Lady" (Lee Remick) As the movie moves forward, we see many scenes from Daniels life, that illustrate why he should or shouldn't move on. So many funny moments are shown, showing Daniel to be a victim of his own fears and self doubt. All seems lost for Daniel, but he meets the beautiful Meryl Streep, a newly arrived decedent, who is happy go lucky and confident, in other words, the opposite of Daniel. Without giving away too much, they form a great team, and the movie finally reveals its true purpose, the ability to overcome fear and doubt. It is so well done, with such great lines, and performances, that you'll be laughing very often. Very few do a better put upon guy character than Albert Brooks. A really uplifting, engaging, thought provoking movie that is in my personal top 10. Highly recommended!!
Foul Play (1978)
They don't make them like this anymore
I just watched Foul Play for the first time, and I must say, it is a wonderful, well written, acted and directed film, that stands the rest of time and then some. A true love letter to San Francisco, to a time, a place.
On top of the excellent plot, I can't say enough about the acting. Goldie Hawn is at the height of her career. Beautiful, smart, sexy, all of the things that many actresses are not these days. Chevy Chase is also excellent playing it straight, as a policeman trying to unravel a mystery while falling in love with a woman he is trying to protect. Their love scene should be studied in film school, to show how it's done. Maybe the best I've ever seen. The chemistry is so natural, and the love is so evident, it's amazing they didn't wind up together after the movie wrapped.
Throw in a stellar supporting cast, Brian Dennehy, Dudley Moore, Rachel Roberts, Burgess Meredith, Billy Barty (in a great cameo!) with absolutely knockout scenery filmed on location in San Francisco, and you have an all time classic.
You'll be humming Barry Manilow's 'Ready to take a chance again' after the first 5 minutes and you'll want to rewatch this great film. So highly recommended!
Enjoyable heist movie
"Entrapment" is one of those movies that, when it's on cable, you can stop and watch wherever you find yourself in the film. My guess is that it has something to do with the fun plot, (a heist movie with lots of gadgets and great locations) but more likely is the star power of Sean Connery, who at almost 70 years old (!) delivers another wonderful performance as the aging cat burglar Mac. Along with a very good and very easy on the eyes Catherine Zeta Jones, Ving Rhames adds a nice touch as a sidekick. Stick with this one, it's a fun ride.
Many times, I stumble across a movie that tells a great story in such a way, that I'm constantly thinking about it after I've seen it for the first time. Sunset Blvd and Chinatown, among many others come to mind. This is such a movie.
It's hard to overstate how good this film truly is. One of the top directors of the new Hollywood 70's William Friedkin, and one of the best scripts you'll ever see put to screen and it makes for a damn fine show. Four men, escaping to South America, after commuting various heinous crimes, find themselves in a place worse than jail, a poverty stricken hellhole where life is cheap, and the options are few. With no chance of really getting out, the men are resigned to their fates, until an opportunity comes calling: Transport highly volatile dynamite 200 miles across jungle terrain in order to put out an oil well fire.
Four men of different backgrounds, an American on the run from the mob, a Frenchman who dropped everything after being caught embezzling money from his company, a Palestinian terrorist, and a Mexican hitman. They seemingly have nothing to offer each other until they come face to face with fear, death, and their own fates. An adventure tale that has no lighthearted moments, and an ending that is one of the most twisting you'll see, you'll see why Friedkin talks about the Sorceror of the films title being a metaphor for the fates that control all of our lives. Thrilling, dire, heart stopping, this is a film for the ages!
Hired Gun (2016)
A must for music lovers
What a wonderful, engaging, funny, sometimes sad look at the life of a session musician, the guys who are hired to play on another musicians recordings. I consider this the companion piece to the excellent "Wrecking Crew" documentary.Often anonymous, these guys and girls are the backbone to many of your favorite artists. As someone who played drums for many years and dreamt of being in a traveling band, I realized years ago what a grind touring could be.
Many artists are interviewed and they are all candid about the business side of music, and what it takes to make it. Rob zombie puts it thus: You have to be the best musician, but also willing to put the spotlight on the main artist. Most importantly though, you need to be someone that can live on the road 24/7 with others and not be annoying!
Toiling away, night after night, for little pay can drain anyone, and it does take a toll. Even those that were very successful can be dumped for no reason, sending the artist out looking for work. Liberty Devitto, the drummer for Billy Joel for many years, was dumped by Joel along with his bandmates, one of whom later killed himself. It's a hell of a way to make a living, and the heights are high, but the pitfalls are always around the corner.
A must watch for any music fan!
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Didn't expect to like it as much as I do
Being from the generation that grew up in the 1980's, I missed out on the golden age of Hollywood, both the studio system heyday, and the second golden age, the 1970's. As a lover of old movies, it's hard to believe that it took as long as it did to watch "Singin' in the rain" not being a great fan of musicals, I was skeptical. Silly me! The absolute talent on display is simply breathtaking. You simply cannot take your eyes off the screen when Gene Kelly, Donald O'connor and Debbie Reynolds are dancing. The story is great, the acting is incredible, and the production had to be seen to be believed. If you've never seen "Singin' in the rain" you will not be disappointed!
A Night to Remember (1958)
An amazing piece of filmmaking
1958's 'A night to remember' is, and should be considered the definitive movie detailing the infamous doomed liner 'Titanic' sunk on her maiden voyage, in April 1912.
Watching this film in High definition, it is abundantly clear, that this is a class job of movie making. The sets, which are extraordinary, the effects, which to my eye are still wonderful, and most importantly the characters and story, are all done to an extraordinary standard. You really do feel that you are a fly on the wall, or even more terrifyingly, a passenger on the doomed ship. I found myself so engrossed in the goings on that I wanted to shout to the passengers to run to the lifeboats! Shot by the incomparable Geoffrey Unsworth, the film is a feast for the eyes, detailing the splendor of the Gilded Age, and the interior of the recreated Titanic. Even that, though would be a lost effort, if not for the wonderful cast and script taken from Walter Lord's book of the same name.
According to the trivia section actual survivors were on hand to lend their expertise. Absolutely incredible. Of all the tragedies that have befallen the world, the sinking of the Titanic continues to fascinate the public. With so many unanswered questions, theories, what-ifs, stories, and lives lost, the Titanic will continue to fascinate for another 100 years. This film really does the story justice, a must watch!
Coming at the beginning of what would become Billy Wilder's least successful period, Avanti! Is an utterly charming, lovely film that sadly did not see the success that perhaps it should have. The ALWAYS great Jack Lemmon is Walter Armbruster Jr, a Titan of industry, who arrives on the Italian island of Ischia to collect the remains of his departed father, killed in a car accident while on his annual one month rejuvenation vacation at an Italian spa and resort. Juliet Mills, as Ms Piggott, is an Englishwoman who has arrived with the same task, although it is her mother she has come to claim. When informed by Ms Piggott that his father used his month long sabbatical as an excuse to spend time with his English mistress, Armbruster is crestfallen. How could he reconcile the family man he knew with the man he now sees he really was?
Avanti really is about a father son relationship, about how the people we look up to and think we know can and are just as flawed as anyone else. But even those flaws can reveal things, like the true love that existed between the late couple. As Armbruster Jr. wonders how he will get his father home for his lavish funeral that is expected, he begins to realize that what he wants for his father, and what his father really wanted may be two separate things. Along the way, he also comes to terms with his own stifling marriage and his own image as a devoted husband. Will love show him another way?
As well as fine performances from the leads, we get an extraordinary performance from Clive Revill as the maitr'e d hotel, Carlo Carlucci, who gets almost all the best lines (and hits them out of the park) to see his performance, and realize it is not an Italian actor, is incredible!
Take some time to watch Avanti! Then take some more and watch it again, it really is a wonderful film, and one of Wilder's forgotten gems.
Black Mirror (2011)
An insult to Twilight Zone
I watched the opening episode of this series in that faint hope that a series would come along that MAYBE had some really timeless qualities that the Twilight Zone had, namely, smart, innovative, fantasy, horror, science fiction. What I came across was an absolute waste of time. After watching the series opener "National anthem" I was horrified. Horrified that someone would conceive and execute such a vile, disgusting piece of television such as this. Instead of fantasy, charm, literacy, and magic, we get an absolutely disgusting piece of rubbish. Rod Serling is turning over in his grave after this garbage was likened to TZ by Netflix. Everyone involved in this should be embarrassed, but I doubt that's possible anymore in the world we live in. But I guess that was the point wasn't it? Please do yourself a favor and watch literally anything but this.
Buddy Buddy (1981)
Not as bad as you've heard
I was lucky enough to find this movie posted on that famous video site, and sat down for what I thought was going to be a disaster. Billy Wilder's final film, as I've read and heard, was a disaster. Awful, a terrible end to the most brilliant of film careers. Well, after watching "Buddy Buddy" I find that I don't agree with that harsh assessment.
Jack Lemmon plays his usual role, the put on Everyman. But to say that in a negative light is wrong. He played that character so well, that it is a pleasure to see him do it again. This time, he is trying to win back his estranged wife of 12 years, who has left him for a sex clinic doctor.
Playing against type, is Walter Matthau playing a hit-man who has one last job to complete before retirement and a life of leisure on an island near Tahiti. As fate would have it, both men find themselves in the same hotel with much different objectives. Lemmon to end his life, and Matthau to end a mob snitches life, before he's able to testify in a big trial.
Needless to say, hijinks ensue, and in my opinion, some really funny scenes. I won't spoil it, but give Buddy Buddy a chance. Is it "The Odd Couple"? No. Is it worth a watch for some harmless entertainment? Absolutely.
Superman III (1983)
Good, but could have been so much better
They say the third time is the charm, but I might tend to think that this movie proves the law of diminishing returns. To be fair though, the first two Superman movies were SO good, with such great stories and talented casts, that even had all the elements come together for a third film with all the original cast and crew, it still might not measure up. Oh what could have been though! After being fired while directing Superman II, Richard Donner (Who directed the original) was replaced by British filmmaker Richard Lester, who, a competent director in his own right, was maybe not the right fit for the tone of the original Superman films. Out was the somewhat dark, serious film, and in was the overly slapstick style that began in the middle of Superman II.
Returning to direct the third installment, Lester again throws sight gags at us as if it was his job. The opening montage starts out with a bank robbery then slides down the slope into pratfalls, and pie in the face routines. Richard Pryor as computer genius August 'Gus' Gorman, lays it on a bit thick, and is really wasted in what could have been a better part. But really, there lies the problem with Superman III. Instead of battling Lex Luthor, or Zod, Superman is set upon by Richard Pryor, a boring business tycoon and a supercomputer! Instead of a known villain, we get jobbed. As if the producers just didn't care to invest the time into really writing a strong story with a great conflict.
What they do accomplish however, is staging some very good action sequences, whereby Superman saves the day in several different scenes. The most exciting in my opinion, being the fight between the 'Good' and 'Evil' Superman, a high point for the series. In addition, the back story of Clark's life in Smallville is brought to the fore as we are introduced to Lana, Clark's high school crush, (Annette O'Tool) in a fun trip back to where it all began for Clark on Earth.
Kudos must go to Christopher Reeve for his portrayal of three characters, Clark Kent, Superman, and Bizzarro Superman. He was a wonderful talent and this movie really shows off his acting chops. The rest of the cast holds their own, but the script is not up to par, so you really can't blame them. What could have been a GREAT cap to the series is only a fair effort, a shame as this was the last gasp of a great series of films.
Murder by Decree (1979)
One of the best Holmes adventures
Christopher Plummer and James Mason step into two of the most famous roles in literature, those being Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in this absolutely wonderful tale set during the Jack the Ripper murders in whitechapel. What sets this movie above many others in not only the Sherlock Holmes adventures but the thriller genre itself is the excellent script, along with the totally convincing performances by the leads.
This movie totally draws you in to its dark and sometimes horrifying world, where the seamy underbelly of Victorian life is on display. Congratulations must go the production designer who immerses us in the London fog and dark backstreets of 1880's England. Add a beautiful, haunting score and wonderful direction and this rivals the best thrillers I've ever seen. Highly recommended!
Heaven Can Wait (1978)
A wonderful cast and an even better movie
A remake of 'Here comes Mr Jordan', 'Heaven can wait' is a absolutely wonderful 1970's fantasy/comedy with a cast that really makes the movie. Warren Beatty in one of his best roles, is Joe Pendleton, a pro quarterback who unexpectedly dies while training for his football comeback. When he reaches the afterlife, he learns that there was a mistake and that he was taken too early. Unable to return to his old body, after it is cremated, a suitable replacement must be found.
Entering the body of a wealthy industrialist murdered by his valet, Neil Farnsworth, Pendleton must decide what is really important to him, returning to football glory, or staying as Farnsworth to help a beautiful woman who comes to Farnsworth for help.
The film is a treat. Beautifully shot, with soft lighting, and wonderfully acted by a GREAT cast including James Mason as the angel Mr Jordan, Charles Grodin as the murderous valet, Jack Warden, Dolph Sweet, Dyan Cannon, and the beautiful Julie Christie as Beatty's love interest. A filmed really tinged with sadness in its own way, but a beautiful love story, it should not be missed. Highly recommended.
Wilder's next to last
After just finishing Ed Sikov's wonderful biography of Billy Wilder, I got interested in this movie, seeing as it was another pairing of Wilder and one of my favorite actors, William Holden. Shot in 1978, it has a very dream like quality to it, due to the cinematography, which adds to the somewhat creepy atmosphere of the movie.
Trying to track an elusive movie star who has retired to a Mediterranean villa to star in his latest film, Barry Detweiller (Holden) cannot seem to catch the elusive beauty. Her compound is secluded, and all access is restricted. His calls and letters go unanswered. But he must get in to see the elusive Fedora.
After sneaking in to the compound, Detweiller believes he has caught his quarry. But a strange turn of events, reveal to him that all is not what it seems in paradise. Wilder's next to last film, is something of a return to his great "Sunset Blvd' featuring another Joe Gillis like character, and a another Norma Desmond as well. The two movies do bookend each other I believe, and if you are a fan of the former, you should try and see the latter.
Wilder's Sherlock Holmes
This was not a film that would have figured for the irrepressible Billy Wilder, after all there is not a undercurrent of severe cynicism, or the usual brilliant wordplay Wilder is known for. That is not to say that 'The private life of Sherlock Holmes' doesn't measure up, quite the contrary! This really is a fun, well told story from the lost files of Dr John Watson, who, while narrating the movie from beyond the grave, (ahh a Billy Wilder touch after all!) tries to give the audience and himself some clue as to the real Sherlock Holmes.
Beginning with Holmes and Watson returning from a recently completed case, we see Holmes, bored, taking up a syringe which to inject cocaine. It seems that Holmes, when bored between cases, uses to try and stimulate his incredible mind. Disapproving, Watson is hopeful a new case will come along to break Holmes from his cocaine fit. While waiting, Holmes and Watson are invited to attend the Russian ballet performance of Swan Lake where Holmes is offered a very interesting arrangement!
Not long later, the meat of the movie starts with a mysterious guest arrives at 221B Baker st, and we are off on a grand adventure. Played by Robert Stephens, and Colin Blakely, Holmes and Watson do make a fun pairing. Trying to watch any sherlock Holmes adaptation without Jeremy Brett, is always going to look odd, but these two are very good. Stephens plays up Holmes' distrust of women, while Blakely is a mite too overdone for my taste, but as a whole, the cast is uniformly excellent. Lushly photographed on location in London and Scotland, this film is a treat for the eyes. With an absolutely fantastic score, by Miklos Rozsa, the finale is especially touching. An even nicer surprise is Christopher Lee as Mycroft Holmes, in a wonderful performance.
In researching this movie, I found out that Billy Wilder had originally scripted this movie as a series of different cases in the same movie, but the footage that was shot was lost. What a shame, it would have made an already excellent film so much better. Highly Recommended!
The Hollywood Complex (2011)
Absolute train wreck
Caught this movie on Netflix, and I had to watch most of it through my hands because it is so humiliating for everyone involved. The movie revolves around an apartment complex in LA that kids and their parents stay in while the networks cast new TV pilots.
The movie follows a group of kids and their parents as they go on auditions, meet casting agents, and directors, and try to find jobs. The kids seem very nice, but it is sad that 99.9% of the people going to Hollywood to pursue their (or their parents?) dreams of stardom will wind up with nothing to show for all of the THOUSANDS of dollars spent, months away from family and friends, scams suffered, and humiliation of constant rejections. The whole underbelly of the Hollywood machine is open to see, and it is not pretty. No one has the guts to tell these parents that their little boy or girl is just not going to make it, as they see just another sucker they can wring a few dollars from. "You need different head shots" is a familiar refrain (Neglecting to tell you that the photographer of those head shots is their husband)
The saddest thing is that these aren't kids in the normal sense, they have been taken over by their overriding ambition to be "somebody" Instead of living a normal childhood, they are already sounding, and resembling like slick adults. It is sad to watch this movie and think of all the wasted time and money, but even sadder to think of the wasted youth. Highly recommended
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
A classic in every sense
When one thinks of all the amazing, iconic motion pictures ever made, you have to wonder, where did it all start? Obviously the silent era produced an amazing number of names and images that last to this day. Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, and Rudolph Valentino come to mind, but for me it will always be The Face. The face of...The Phantom of the Opera!
Is there a film image that can conjure up such horror as the unmasking of Erik, The Phantom? Played by 'The Man of 1000 Faces' himself, Lon Chaney, we have to remember that this film was made in 1925 and that Chaney's characterization has remained as potent and vital in 2012 as the day it was first seen. Surely there are precious few performances of any kind that can stand the test of time as well as Chaney's has.
Taking place in the late 19th century, the story concerns the haunting of the Paris Opera House by the famed Phantom, a hideously disfigured madman who, from his underground lair deep beneath the stage fills the theatre owners with dread. In love with opera understudy Christine Daae, the phantom terrorizes the theatre owners, and performers when his object of affection is not given the lead role in the latest performance. Luring Christine to his lair, while disguised, he confides in her his unrequited love. The phantom has only one request, that she never attempt to peer behind his mask. In love with another man, Christine cannot give herself to the phantom and cannot resist the urge to peer behind the mask...
As a silent film, the viewer is treated to three aspects that make this film great. One is the performance of the actors. They are so expressive and so natural at the same time. Second is the amazing score. A PERFECT complement to the Gothic atmosphere of this movie. And third is your own imagination. Without speech and sound effects we have to imagine them for ourselves, which makes this film even more special.
A masterpiece by anyone's standards, 'The Phantom of the Opera' deserves your attention. Highly Recommended!
The Longshot (1986)
Actually quite funny!
Watched this recently for the first time in many years on Netflix, as I thought it might be the same movie I enjoyed when I was a kid, and it was! 'The Longshot' is a fun, breezy way to pass a rainy afternoon with a few chuckles, and I must say some good laughs.
The plot concerns four buddies who love betting horses at their local track. With not much else going on in their lives (They are presented as lovable losers), they fall into a scheme to bet a fixed horse race with money borrowed from the mob! Tim Conway (Who wrote the script) Harvey Korman, Jack Weston, and Ted Wass are the four buddies who take part in the action. We get a glimpse into each characters home life, where they are browbeaten husbands, content to play cards in Conway's garage, or, in a great scene, happy to grill steaks in the back of Ted Wass' possessed station wagon. It really is a funny movie with some good comic performances from all the actors. I won't give away the ending, but suffice to say it'll leave a smile on your face as the credits roll.
Two bonuses, Eddie Deezen (Of 'Grease' fame plays a funny bellhop in a cameo, and Jonathan Winters brings the laughs as an old tow truck driver. Give the 'Longshot' a chance, you'll be happy you did!
Logan's Run (1976)
Good idea, not so good execution
I really wanted to like 'Logan's Run' as I am a big fan of the sci-fi/horror genre, but this one just left me flat. Others have commented that the special effects are pretty bad (true, but I couldn't care less) The real problem here is the script. It takes a really good idea and does almost nothing with it. To start, there really is no backstory for the main character Logan, who in the future dystopian world the characters inhabit, is charged with tracking down, and exterminating people that refuse to submit to the law of the land, namely that you must be sacrificed at age 30. Like I said, a good idea, in theory, but the actors just don't make me care.
Michael York as Logan, is a 'Sandman' a man charged with tracking down those unfortunate souls who decide that maybe they don't want to die at 30. Considering life is one big party for the inhabitants of this world, all pleasure all the time, I can see their point! Unfortunately, we get no backstory on these characters! Why were they chosen for these assignments as executioners? What benefit do they get? They also die at 30 so why would they take the assignment??
Well, Logan meets a "runner" in the form of a beautiful woman Jenny Agutter, and initially is intent on finding her network of cohorts so he can take them all down, but as time passes, his feelings change, and he decides that he wants to live dammit! The movie plods along and eventually comes to an unsatisfying ending. I really can't recommend this one unfortunately however I will say the music is great. A half synthesizer, half orchestra score that is a highlight. If you're looking for a great sic-fi/end of the world movie, Charlton Heston in 'The Omega Man' is a much better film.
Tales of the Unexpected (1979)
A wonderful anthology series
Being a huge fan of anthology series, I'm always on the lookout for ones I haven't seen. I've had some hits (Twilight Zone, Night Gallery) and a few misses, (Thriller, most of Hammer House of Horror) but then I stumbled across Roald Dahl's 'Tales of the Unexpected'
Always being a short story, horror, and sci fi fan, I jumped at the chance to try some programs I had never seen. Having some familiarity with Roald Dahl's work, I was intrigued, having read that he was a cross between Alfred Hitchcock and O Henry. I sat back to enjoy the first story of the series, the fine, 'Man from the South' about a man who bets the little finger on his left hand that he can't light his lighter ten times in a row. Filmed on location in Jamaica, it is a very clever tale that sets the tone of future episodes. Now don't misunderstand, the episodes are not all 10's, but the majority are very, very good, including 'The Landlady', and 'The Flytrap' which is a CHILLER, all the while featuring a wonderful sense of storytelling along with some excellent actors, including Jose Ferrer, Joseph Cotten, and Joan Collins, to name but a few.
If you enjoy really well told tales that hold your attention and are genuinely entertaining, get the first two sets of this series, they really are a wonderful way to spend a few hours.
The Long Goodbye (1973)
1940's detective meets 1970's LA
What a wild movie. And when I say that I don't mean to say it as a fault. Quite the opposite in fact! This has quickly become a top ten movie for me as it is just so interesting on so many levels.
First, Elliot Gould is a revelation as the chain smoking, wise cracking private detective living as a man out of his time in the wild 70's of LA. His under the breath come backs are so snarky and perfect, you have to love him. He's got a cat that has special dietary needs, wild next door neighbors, a doorman who does impressions, and a friend who needs a ride to Mexico at three in the morning (Who later winds up dead, setting off the movie) If it all sounds a bit odd, it is. But it's so good, you'll wonder what took so long to find this movie.
As with many great movies, there's more going on here than a great leading man and his wisecracks. Director Robert Altman tries some different things here, which really work. First, the title song which is great, is repeated throughout the whole movie in different arrangements. I've never seen that before in any movie, and it works great. The second, which is much more subtle, is the fact that the camera never stops moving for the entire two hours. Not one static shot. A ingenious device IMO.
Finally, we have the supporting cast. Without being more familiar with Sterling Hayden's work other than the Godfather, and the great The Killing, his role as an alcoholic writer is so impressive, that you have to wonder if he's really acting at all. Mark Rydell, later a director (For the Boys) has a small role as a gangster who is terrifying.
To try and accurately describe this movie wouldn't do it justice, needless to say it is a must watch. Highly recommended!
The Lonely Guy (1984)
One of Steve Martin's best
'The Lonely Guy' with Steve Martin is a comedic gem. Coming courtesy of Neil Simon, we are introduced to Larry Hubbard, a greeting card writer and the title character of this wonderful film. Cheated on by his girlfriend early in the film, he realizes that he is now part of a large (but silent) group of people known as Lonely Guys. He meets a fellow lonely guy (A rarely better Charles Grodin) and the two strike up a friendship based on mutual loneliness. It sounds really depressing and strange but this such a funny movie! The writing is heartfelt, and the jokes are great. Try not to laugh when Steve Martin and Charles Grodin talk about haircuts on a park bench. It's great! So many funny sight gags and wonderful jokes, that you'll be laughing all the way through.
As the movie moves along we watch Larry trying to cope with his new found status as a lonely guy. Walking into a restaurant, he admits that he is dining alone for the evening. Right then, a spotlight shines on him and every customer in the restaurant stops talking and stares at him. He tries buying a dog, but when he throws a stick for the dog to catch, the dog runs away! It's full of funny scenes where you just laugh at the goofiness.
One of Steve Martin's best, along with 'Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid', and 'The Man With Two Brains', give this film a chance you'll be pleasantly surprised!
Hitchcock shines in a later work
There's few things more enjoyable than sitting down to a well told tale. Whether it be a great book, or a wonderful movie, you get comfortable knowing you're in for a treat. Such is the feeling when sitting down to Alfred Hitchcock's 'Frenzy'
Released in 1972, it's a later Hitchcock film, but one that has not lost any of the master's distinguished touches or style. In fact, it even treads new ground for the director, in view of the brutal rape and strangling scene that must have shocked early 1970's sensibilities.
Set, and shot in London, 'Frenzy' brings us a tale of 'The Necktie Killer' as London papers are calling him, a sadistic psychopath who rapes and strangles his victims, with his calling card neckties. Police are baffled, until Dick Blaney comes walking along. Just fired from a bar tending job, he walks the streets of London's fruit and vegetable market, depressed about his prospects, he meets of old friend Bob Rusk, a vegetable stand operator. Here's where things start going very wrong for Mr. Blaney.
Hitchcock's plot device of the innocent man caught in a web of lies, deceit, and murder is again focused on here, with a knot slowly twisting around the wrong man's neck. It is a joy to watch the cast, which is uniformly excellent as the story unfolds. Throw in a superb plot, excellent score, and the trademark Hitchcockian black humor and you have a winner. 'Frenzy' is a wonderful ride through London that shouldn't be missed!