Friday, 21 December 2007

ENTER 'CAPTAIN BLOOD' - STILL EXCITING AFTER 72 YEARS!

Captain Blood is the archetypal high seas swashbuckler set in the seventeenth century. The film tells the story of an Irish doctor called Peter Blood (Errol Flynn) who is convicted for treason for treating a rebel during Monmouth rebellion and sent as a slave to the Caribbean, only to be bought by the colonel's niece, Arabella (Olivia De Havilland). However, Peter Blood and his fellow slaves manage to escape. They steal a Spanish ship and sail the seas as pirates!

The fil
m was released in 1935 and was hugely successful but Warner Brothers chief Jack Warner and chief executive Hal B. Wallis had taken a huge risk in hiring the then-unknown Errol Flynn. This was his debut lead performance and he is quite outstanding as the wronged doctor. Flynn became an overnight sensation but it must be remembered that the film provides many other pleasures too! Despite being modestly produced, the film is superbly directed by the Hungarian-American Michael Curtiz with all his unusual camera angles, shadows, camera movement and subjective camera styles very much in evidence from the beginning. The film is also noted for the stirring score by the highly acclaimed Erich Wolfgang Korngold whose career with Warner Brothers and Errol Flynn went from strength to strength, peaking at the inspirational score for The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).

Along with Flynn, the performances from the cast are outstanding, most notably from Basil Rathbone as evil French Pirate Levasseur and Olivia De Havilland (in her her first major role) as Arabella. Lionel Atwill is convincing as the sinister Colonel Bishop and so is Ross Alexander as Blood's friend Jeremy Pitt. Alexander's performance seems more touching when we learn that he was a troubled soul who committed suicide shortly after the release of the film.

The screenplay is expertly written by Casey Robinson (based on the novel by Rafael Sabatini),
Captain Blood is no history lesson but pure classic Hollywood entertainment! RATING *****

Saturday, 10 November 2007

'Portait of Jennie' is unforgettable!

Portrait of Jennie (1948) is a fantasy story about a struggling artist in the depression-hit New York who meets a young girl in old fashioned clothing. He begins to draw a portrait of her from his memory but each time he meets this mysterious girl, she is clearly a few years older. The artist begins to realise that the girl had lived many years before and he is confused to why she is here now. But he is so much in love with the girl...
Although not accepted by the critics at the time, Portrait of Jennie is now regarded as a classic. It boasts another fine performance from Joseph Cotten, who plays the role of Edem Adams, the struggling artist, with a lot of sensitivity and even a sense of loneliness. The talented and beautiful Jennifer Jones is enchanting as well as quite haunting as the mysterious Jennie Appleton! What is also remarkable about this film is Dimitri Tiomkin's use of themes from Debussy in his score and the atmospheric cinematography by Joseph August. It is also finely directed by William Dieterle. Although a black and white film for the most part, the producer (David O' Selznick, who had produced Gone With The Wind almost ten years earlier) added a tinted colour sequence near the end of the film and the final shot is shown in technicolor. Portrait of Jennie is only one of the first films to have no title sequences at the beginning.

Although the narrative does not always flow smoothly,
Portrait of Jennie is a haunting, beautiful and compelling film. Unique and completely unforgettable! RATING *****

'The Ghost and Mrs Muir' to be shown again on the big screen!

The heart-warming comedy The Ghost and Mrs Muir (1947) will be shown at the National Film Theatre in London during December. This atmospheric and romantic film stars Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison. It is one of my personal favourite films which I am sure will delight my fellow classic film enthusiasts.

The best Dracula to get your teeth into!!!!!!

Dracula (1958), otherwise known as Horror of Dracula (for US Audiences) begins with a narration from the diary of Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen), who arrives at Castle Dracula at the latter part of the 19th century with the purpose of killing the evil Count Dracula (Christopher Lee). After being bitten by a vampire, Harker succumbs to Dracula's power. He knows that he himself is cursed to walk the earth eternally as a member of the "undead". His only hope is that someone will find his diary and do whatever is necessary to release his soul and to get rid of this evil man.Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) arrives at a nearby inn to find out what happened to Harker and a trip to Castle Dracula awaits him. Can Van Helsing achieve what Harker failed to do?
This is easily the best version of Dracula ever filmed. It began a commercially successful series of Dracula films for the British Hammer studios and made the relatively unknown lead stars into household names. This is also the first Dracula film to be shot in colour, with added blood and an element of sexual overtones which shocked critics when the film was originally released. Dracula may not look so shocking now but it is still compelling entertainment. Despite a modest budget, the film often looks sensational and a unique gothic look. Despite the odd dated moment, there is much to enjoy. The film has colourful set designs, an absorbing screenplay by Jimmy Sangster, a wonderful satanic score by James Bernard and brilliant direction by Terence Fisher (who had a real eye for visual set-pieces). To top all of this, the performances from Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are truly striking which helps makes this Hammer film stand out as a horror movie to savour. RATING *****

(In order to celebrate the fifty years since the release of the film, a digitally re-mastered version of Dracula has been re-released and shown at selected cinemas during November 2007)

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Classy 'Ninotchka' works on every level!

"Garbo Laughs!" That was the tag on the initial release poster for Ninotchka in 1939. The film begins with three Russians (Sig Ruman, Felix Bressart and Alexander Granach) who are in Paris to sell Jewelry that was taken from the aristocracy during the Russian Revolution of 1917. They meet Count Leon D'Algout (Melvyn Douglas) who is working for a Russian Grand Duchess who wants to retrieve her jewelry.The Russians send their cold-spoken envoy, Nina Yakushova (Garbo), to sell the jewelry and to bring the three men back to the USSR. However, Nina slowly becomes seduced by the west....

A wonderful comedy directed by arguably Hollywood's most sophisticated director, Ernest Lubitsch. The film is also remembered as being the breakthrough success for the legendary Billy Wilder who along with Charles Brackett and Walter Reisch, wrote the sparking screenplay. The performances are sublime too, especially from Garbo. Utterly memorable! RATING *****

Friday, 26 October 2007

MOVIES TODAY DO NOT KNOW WHEN TO FINISH!

Spider-Man 3 was a resounding box-office success which was even more profitable than the successful and critically-acclaimed Spider-Man 2. The success of this franchise is almost guaranteed courtesy of the Spider-Man brand name. So why does the writer/director (Sam Raimi) play it safe by supplying an ending that is clearly too long! Without fear of spoiling the plot, there is a moment when the leads are on a building with a sunset in the background - this would have been an apt time to finish the tale!

In a Hollywood system where studios' executives are so worried about losing money, it may be understandable for them to approach the safe route and produce a film that is formulaic so that they can make a profit in the first week of release. However,
Spider-Man 3 was such a highly-anticipated film that surely it's profits were assured. So the creators decision to be produce yet another predictable and over-long ending is truly baffling!

What is so annoying about Spider-Man 3 is that it is not a bad film. It is just that it could have been so much better. However, Spider-Man 3 is just another example of the powers-at-be in Hollywood being more worried about losing money and ever-more responsive to the reaction of test audiences rather than break the formula so to create an ending that makes the film a lot more memorable.

We have witnessed loads of these films which could have been better over the past ten or fifteen years or so. One notable example is the 2000 Steven Spielberg movie AI: Artificial Intelligence. This film is clearly 20 to 40 minutes overlong that even the die-hard Spielberg fans were looking at their watches before long. The critics were quick to seize on the over-sentimentalised and overlong ending. But what was really sickening about AI: Artificial Intelligence was that the film had begun so well and had the makings of being a modern classic. This was one of those films that the late great Stanley Kubrick wanted to be involved in. So what really is going on?

It is quite simple. The tail is wagging the dog and therefore the creative elements in Hollywood needs to stand up to be counted. I do not know how this is going to happen but as I have asked my film Studies students if they thought that Casablanca would have been as effective had Rick given a "hill of beans" or if they thought that Gone With The Wind would have been as memorable if Rhett Butler had given a damn. Such great endings do not always give the audiences what they really want but by doing just that they often make the movies into gems that will never be forgotten. So let's hope for better endings - and even I have clearly outstayed my welcome already!
Spider-Man 3 RATING: *

Thursday, 18 October 2007

'Ratatouille' is simply a delicious movie!

In the new animated Disney/Pixar film Ratatouille, Remy is an unusual rat. His father, brother and the other scavengers eat just about anything to survive but Remy is different. He has a gourmet sense of smell and prefers food that is refined and cultured. He has learned his specialised cooking skills by watching Auguste Gusteau's cookery television programme on the television at an old woman's house where his colony of rats live. After watching that his hero Gusteau has just died following the severe criticism of his restaurant by evil food critic Anton Ego, the colony of rats are found by the old woman, who then tries to shoot them. They escape but only to lose Remy on the way. Remy finds his way to Gusteau's restaurant in Paris and it is by the vision of Gusteau who inspires him to help a talentless rubbish cleaner Linguini, who has no cooking talents, to become a gourmet genius. However, the former sous-chef, Skinner is in charge and does not warm to Linguini and needless to say that the evil Anton Ego, whose reviews had destroyed Gusteau's life, is due for a re-visit in the near future.
Ratatouille is a wonderful return to form by Disney and Pixar. Written and directed by Brad Bird (of The Incredibles), the film is witty and stylish,which keeps the attention of the viewer throughout. The visuals are simply amazing and even the rats look cute, despite not looking that much different to real rats! The vocal performances are striking especially from Patton Oswald (Remy), Peter Sohn (Emile), Janane Garfalo (Colette), Ian Holm (Skinner), Brian Dennehy (Django), Brad Garrett (Auguste Gusteau) and Lou Romano (Alfredo Linguini). However it is Peter O'Toole's sinister performance as the creepy Anton Ego that is the scene stealer in the movie! The performances are a major ingredient in what is a meaty and spicy film that will swallow loads of awards - including Oscars! Enjoy! RATING ****

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

BEN-HUR: SIMPLY MY FAVOURITE CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE!


Ben-Hur (1959) has always been one of my two favourite films, along with Roman Holiday (1953), both of which were directed by veteran director William Wyler. The story is set in Judea during the time of Jesus Christ when the Roman Empire was in the ascendancy. The film focuses on Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston), a Jewish nobleman who greets the arrival his old Roman childhood friend, Messala (Stephen Boyd) who is now in command of the local Roman garrison. Messala lets Judah know that more legions of Romans will be arriving in Judea very shortly but he promises Judah that he and his family will be saved.

After meeting Judah's mother (Martha Scott) and sister (Mary O'Donnell) at the house of Hur, Messala's real intentions become known. He tries to force Judah to name any Jewish "troublemakers" to him so that they will be punished. Judah angrily refuses Messala's request and after an angry exchange of words, Messala gives Judah a straight forward ultimatum that he is either FOR him or AGAINST him. Judah's response is "if that is the choice, then I am AGAINST YOU!" Messala leaves Judah's house in disgust.

Later Judah and his sister overlooks the welcoming parade for the new Roman governor from the rooftop of their house but a broken brick becomes dislodged and falls off, barely missing the governor. Despite knowing that Judah and his mother and sister are innocent, Messala decides to arrest them anyway. Judah's family are a powerful Jewish family and Messala uses this moment to make an example of them. He sends Judah's mother and sister to prison and sends Judah to the galleys, without even a trial. Judah does get a chance to make one promise to Messala just before he is dragged away by the Roman soldiers: "God grant me vengence that you will live when I return!" The adventure for justice begins....
Ben-Hur was an exceptionally expensive production made for a then-unheard figure of $15 million. The production required 200 sets scattered over 340 acres (or 1.4 km²).
The original silent version of Ben-Hur was made in 1925 on an expensive budget and was a huge gamble for the new MGM studios but the final result was a critical and commercial success. Once again, the 1959 version was a huge gamble made by MGM to save itself from bankruptcy which did pay off, earning a then-huge figure of $75 million. However, the producer of the movie, Sam Zimbalist, suffered a fatal heart attack during production which many colleagues believe was due to the stresses of making such a hugely important picture.
The film delivers. It is a visually a gigantic epic, filmed in a process called MGM Camera 65, with an aspect ratio of 2.76:1 which is one of the widest prints ever made. The width is almost three times its height. The amazing music opus by Hungarian-born film composer Miklós Rózsa is truly epic and the overall production is amazing to behold. Although the set pieces such as the sea battle are well-staged, it is the memorable chariot race that is the highlight of the film. The chariot race took over three months to complete, using 8000 extras on the largest film set ever built. Although filmed in the days long before computer generated images, the chariot race is still extremely enjoyable and even by today's standards, it is considered by most critics as one of the most exciting action sequences ever filmed.
Charlton Heston is convincing as the downtrodden Judah Ben-Hur and deservedly won an Academy Award for this performance. Irish actor Stephen Boyd plays the evil Messala with a perfect measure of venom and camp that suits the character. He was awarded the Golden Globe that year. The other actors such as Jack Hawkins (Quintus Arrius), Hugh Griffith (Sheik Illderim), Haya Harareet (Esther), Sam Jaffe (Simonides) and Finlay Currie (Balthasar) provide sensitive performances. The screenplay is credited as written by Karl Tunberg, but it seems certain that he had written the original draft before it was re-written by Gore Vidal and Christopher Fry. This was a contentious point but Charlton Heston paid tribute to Fry's contribution during his Best Actor Academy Award acceptance speech.

Ben-Hur was expertly directed by William Wyler and co-directed by Andrew Marton who played an enormous part in the filming of the amazing chariot race. The film went on to win eleven Oscars including Best Picture, a record that was only equalled recently by 'Titanic' (1997) and 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King' (2003).

Ben-Hur
is without question the film in which other epics are measured by. It is not without flaws but they are really so few. In the recent four-disc DVD edition there is a unique documentary included entitled 'Ben-Hur: The Epic That Changed Cinema' with current filmmakers such as Ridley Scott and George Lucas discusses the importance and influence of the film.

In regards to me, I remember watching Ben-Hur all those years back at the old Scala Cinema in Letterkenny. I was taken away by the experience and I have not recovered since. I love Ben-Hur so much and along with Roman Holiday, this is my favourite moment in film history! I have seen the film so many times already but I look forward to watching it again and again! RATING *****

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Wendie's favourite films - for the moment!!!!!

I have known my dear friend Wendie from Arizona for almost 7 years now and I still haven't got the slightest clue about what films she likes! So her comments will be news to me!
Well, I've been thinking of my top 10 movies all week; and I am not that good at performing this task because I keep changing my favorite movies. I like:
1. The Crow with Brandon Lee
2. Killer Klowns from Outer Space (A stupid, cheesy flick that made me afraid of clowns as a child, but always brings a smile to my face.)
3. Knocked Up (I've seen this one 3 times in the theatres. I just bought the dvd, and the deleted scenes are hilarious!)
4. American Beauty (I hated this movie the first time I watched it. The ending is quite beautiful.)
5. Sideways (b/c I've always appreciated real-life situations, although too depressing for some)
6?. There's some romantic wine movies out there, but I've forgotten the titles.
7. Waking Life (b/c it's deeply philosophical and intellectual)
8. Boondock Saints (b/c it's awesome!)
9. Amelie (b/c it's sweet)
10. What the Bleep do we Know? (intellectual)
11. Harry Potter (Who doesn't like HP?)

Monday, 8 October 2007

Another enjoyable trip on the River Thames!


This is me on the river Thames in August with the famous landmark called "Monument" standing right behind me! Monument was built to commemorate the great fire of London and it is a 61-metre (202-foot) tall stone Roman doric column, near to the northern end of London Bridge. It is located at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill, from where the Great Fire of London started in 1666. The guide on the tour mentioned film references on this boat trip including where Michael Caine worked (real name Maurice Micklewhite) in Billingsgate Fish Market before he became a world famous actor.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

My two favourite films of all time to be reviewed shortly!



My two favourite films of all time are 'Ben-Hur' (1959) and 'Roman Holiday' (1953). I remember watching 'Ben-Hur' on the big screen during it's last run before it was shown on television and I loved watching it so much. I still do. I remember watching 'Roman Holiday' on TV on a Sunday night when I was a young boy and then on January 1988. To think that on September of that year I was so lucky to have met the lead actress, Audrey Hepburn. I have so many reasons to love these wonderful films and I can not wait to share them with you in the very near future.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

The star alongside my logo


The actress shown alongside my "Classic Cinema" logo is the beautiful Irish-American star from the 1940's, Gene Tierney (1920 - 1991). Best remembered for her performance in the title role of 'Laura' (1944), Tierney had starred some other classic films such as 'Heaven Can Wait' (1943) and 'The Ghost and Mrs. Muir' (1947), my favourite film of hers. Suffering from depression and mental health problems for most of her adult life, Tierney died in 1991 of emphysema just before her 71st birthday. Gene Tierney is one of my favourite actresses who was stylish, talented and truly special.

'RED RIVER' - A MEMORABLE WESTERN FROM THE 1940s


'Red River' (1948) is an acclaimed western, directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne, Montgomery Clift and Walter Brennan. It tells the story of Thomas Dunson who wants to start up a cattle ranch in Texas. Along with his trail hand Groot (Walter Brennan), he leaves the wagon train and his girlfriend (Coleen Gray) behind to go it alone but later he learns that they have been killed by Indians. He continues to pursue his ambition and comes across a young orphan boy called Matthew Garth whom he takes under his wing. Fourteen years later, Dunson, Groot and Garth (played as an adult by Montgomery Clift) lead a massive herd hundreds of miles north to Missouri. However stubborn Dunson's leadership is becoming tyrannical and it it beginning to affect the men. How long can they hold out against Dunson?

This is probably the best western made during the 1940's and certainly one of the most entertaining westerns ever made. Wayne is very convincing as the increasingly tyrannical Dunson but his star performance is matched by the newcomer Clift. There is a lot more than just the splendid performances though. There is the picturesque cinematography by Russell Harlan and the memorable music score by Dimitri Tiomkin. However the star of this film is the legendary director Howard Hawks who has created a genuine masterpiece and a must-see experience. RATING ***** (watched by Suky on 25/9 and by me on 25.12.2006)

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

'Night of the Demon' on TV and soon on DVD - and about time!!!!



'Night of the Demon' (1957) is a genuinely suspenseful and atmospheric British horror film from the acclaimed French-American director Jacques Tourneur. The film stars Dana Andrews as the sceptical scientist Dr. John Holden who investigates the activities of a satan-cult leader Dr. Julian Karswell (Niall McGinnis). He is contacted by the niece of a professor who was recently killed by an unknown animal (we know that he was killed by a demon at the beginning of the film) and by Dr. Karswell, who threatens him. However, Holden continues to proceed to investigate more.
Remembered today as the horror film with the line used by Kate Bush in her song 'Hounds of Love' ("It's in the trees! It's coming!"), this is a well-crafted horror tale with genuine moments of suspense and with a wonderfully menacing performance by McGinnis. A notable classic and definitely worth watching! RATING *****

Shown on BBC2: Mon 1 Oct, 12:10 am - 1:45 am 95mins

Monday, 24 September 2007

'VERTIGO' - HITCHCOCK'S MOST INFLUENTIAL AND PERSONAL WORK


'Vertigo' is a psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1958. The film stars James Stewart as John "Scotty" Ferguson, a San Francisco detective who develops acrophobia after a police officer falls to his death from a rooftop after trying to rescue Scotty.

Forced to retire from police work, Scotty is asked by an old college friend Tom Elster (Tom Helmore) to work as a private detective so that he can follow his wife, Madeleine (Kim Novak). Elster is concerned about his wife's mental health, that she is possessed by the spirit of someone who had lived and who had committed suicide over a century before. Scotty reluctantly agrees to follow Madeleine and after following her around San Francisco, Scotty notices that Elster's concerns about Madeleine appear to be genuine. Feeling a strong sense of attraction for Madeleine, he follows her to San Francisco bay where she jumps in in what appears to be a suicide attempt. Scotty jumps and rescues her. In an attempt to help her with her obsession, Scotty brings Madeleine to the Mission San Juan Bautista , the location featured in one of Madeleine's dreams. However, when they arrive at the scene, Madeleine runs up the steep staircase to the bell tower in what appears to be another suicide attempt but can Scott overcome his acrophobia so that he can follow her up the stairs?

'Vertigo' is one of my favourite films but it was not well-received by the critics or the general public at it's initial release. However it is now regarded as one of Hitchcock's most influential and personal works. The screenplay was by Samuel A Taylor and Alec Coppel from the French novel 'Sueurs froides: d-entre les morts' (Cold Sweat: From Among the Dead) by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. Hitchcock's wonderful use of colour is evident throughout which adds to his very unique visual style. His stylish direction is supported by a wonderful team of technicians such as the a haunting score by Bernard Herrmann (at the top of his form) and master cameraman Robert Burks.

The performances are excellent too. James Stewart is excellent as the likable Scotty who shows vulnerability and a streak of nastiness as he becomes more obsessed with Madeleine. As well as looking quite stunning as Madeleine, Kim Novak's performance portarys a ghostly, tortured soul who is the centre of Scotty's obsession. Barbara Bel Geddes plays the sympathetic Midge, who harbours a passion for for Scotty.

'Vertigo' was restored by Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz and this restoration was released in 1996. The film contained newly-restored colour, DTS digital surround sound and was shown in 70mm, which was quite similar to the original Vistavision process used for the original film.

I remember watching 'Vertigo' at the Rio Cinema in Dalton Kingsland on a cold Friday evening back in 1990. The print was possibly the same print used for the initial releases from decades before, although I did enjoy the experience. However the newly-restored print is wonderful and I have just shown it to my film studies class today. All of the pupils had never seen the movie before and they loved it. 'Vertigo' becomes better after every viewing and so like me, they will anticipate the day when they will watch it again. RATING *****

Friday, 21 September 2007

'Dances With Wolves' - Entertainment on an epic scale!


Released in 1990, 'Dances with Wolves' is a multi-awarded western epic, directed by and starring Kevin Costner. The film tells the story of John Dunbar (Costner), a United States cavalry officer from the civil war who wants to see the frontier "before it is gone". So he travels into the Dakota Territory, near a Sioux tribe and in time, earns the trust of members of the local Sioux leaders.

Although 'Goodfellas' was released on the same year and it is regarded by many as Martin Scorsese's most entertaining film, 'Dances With Wolves' has been attacked by many critics over the years as the film that won the Oscars at the expense of 'Goodfellas'. But 'Dances With Wolves' is an escapist if over-indulgent film perhaps, but thoroughly enjoyable in it's own right! It is epic in scope and it graces a massive production alongside a beautiful haunting music score by John Barry. The acting has it's moments too, especially Graham Greene's intelligent performance as 'Kicking Bird'.

The opening sequences and the many great vistas stay in the mind and not even the lengthy extended versions (released on VHS and DVD shortly after the cinematic release) diminishes the power of such a beautiful movie! Always worth watching and certainly under-rated! RATING ****

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Thursday, 6 September 2007

MY TOP TEN FAVOURITE JAMES BOND MOVIES


I am a big fan of the James Bond film series and the following selected Bond films are my favourite. I also think that they represent the very best of the inventive additions to the series. It is in my opinion that 'From Russia With Love' (poster above and photo below) is the best simply because I feel that it has the best screenplay of the whole series. I must admit that I think that 'Goldfinger' does come quite close.
1. From Russia With Love (1963)A wonderful sequel to 'Doctor No', with a taut plot helped by a brilliant screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Johanna Hawood. There is a lush music score by John Barry. exotic cinematography by Ted Moore, clever editing by Peter Hunt and stylishly directed by Terence Young. The performances by Sean Connery (a laconic and unforgettable James Bond), Lotte Lenya (as the evil Rosa Klebb) and Robert Shaw (as the menacing Red Grant) are unforgettable. A truly enjoyable Bond picture. RATING *****
2. Goldfinger (1964)The ultimate Bond film with amazing set designs by Ken Adam and an unforgettable brass score by John Barry. Beautiful visuals by cinematographer Ted Moore and an amusing screenplay (by Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn), along with another memorable performance by Sean Connery as the invincible Bond contribute to make this a classic to remember. RATING *****

3. The Living Daylights (1987)This was the movie that introduced a new James Bond after the many years of Roger Moore and this new Bond was Timothy Dalton. The Bond film contained the last score by John Barry for a Bond film and it is indeed a memorable one. Dalton's performance is a serious but striking one which helps this makes this film unique if slightly underrated addition to the Bond canon. RATING ****

4. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)The critics may have been quite right about the central miscasting of former Australian model George Lazenby as James Bond but the movie is now regarded as a classic and one of the best of the series. This movies contains loads of exciting moments and has another memorable score by John Barry. RATING ****
5. You Only Live Twice (1967)
An enjoyable picture despite a rather thin screenplay by Roald Dahl. The film boasts a superb brief performance from Charles Gray as Dikko Henderson and a genuinely menacing Donald Pleasance as enemy Blofield. The set pieces may not be the best of the series but the memorable score by John Barry and the inventive set designs by Ken Adam, along with the masterly direction by Lewis Gilbert gives this film an edge over many of the others.
RATING ****

6. Doctor No (1962)The first if not quite the best of the highly successful Bond series. Sean Connery provides a smooth and memorable performance as the suave 007. Joseph Wiseman is well cast as the creepy Dr. No, a performance that has been much imitated throughout the years. It is amazing to know that one of the set pieces in 'You Only Live Twice' had cost more than the whole of 'Doctor No'. RATING ****
7. Thunderball (1965)An amazing global box office success on it's release, this movie may be regarded as a lack- lustred follow-up to 'Goldfinger' but it does contain many enjoyable action sequences and some inventive set designs by Ken Adam. RATING ****

8. Casino Royale (2006)Nobody expected this new vision of Bond to work. But it does, well until the last thirty minutes when we can safely say that the movie becomes tedious. The critics were impressed with Daniel Craig's debut performance as the spy but it is the stunts and the cinematography by Phil Meheux that make this Bond film one of the best for many years. RATING ****
9. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)The first part of this Roger Spottiswoode directed Bond film is as good as any other of the series with a particularly memorable moment when Pierce Brosnan (an excellent James Bond) confronts the evil killer, Doctor Kaufman (Vincent Schiavelli). Sadly the second part of the film develops into a standard action thriller with a weak villain and containing lacklustre setpieces with lots of explosions. RATING ****
10. The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)Heavily criticised by critics throughout the years, this entertaining addition to the Bond series is campy and humorous. Roger Moore's comic timing is evident and the expensive set pieces are worth the price of the entry alone. Clearly not the best Bond film but definitely not the worst. RATING ***

"AAAAHHHH Paul Bradley is in my shower!!!!!!"




Watch out world, I shall submit my first Hitchcock review to the blog very shortly! It will be 'Psycho' (1960) OR 'Vertigo' (1958).

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1956) to be released on DVD at long last!!!

My review of the science fiction classic

'Invasion of the Bodysnatchers' is a truly amazing science fiction movie! Originally released in 1956, you would think that from the title you are about to watch a "B" movie but this is no "B" movie! It is a thrilling cinematic masterpiece which enhanced the careers of the director, Don Siegel (Coogans Bluff, Dirty Harry) and of the film's lead stars, Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter.
The film begins with how a small American town doctor, Dr Niels Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) tries to convince local residents of behaving hysterically. They accuse their loved ones of being emotionless imposters but we learn that these local residents are not wrong because plant-like aliens have indeed invaded earth and are replicating many of the local residents.

The idea that humans are being replaced by pods from another planet may sound absurd but this is science fiction film which contains an intelligent screenplay (written to perfection by Daniel Mainwaring and an uncredited Richard Collins) and it has parallels with the McCarthy politics present in the United States at the time of the film's original release. The film is gripping from the start and contains effective suspenseful moments. Watch out for a cameo from the soon-to-be legendary film director Sam Peckinpah.
Remade twice, 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' ranks as possibly the greatest science fiction film of all. Owning a copy of the film is essential. Watching the movie is a MUST! Rating *****
DVD to be released on 1/10/07

How well will 'The Wolf of Wall Street' do at this weekend at the Oscars?

How well will 'The Wolf of Wall Street' do at this weekend at the Oscars? Brilliantly written by Terence Winter ("The Sopranos&...