Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Lucky Lady-1975


In 1975, Burt Reynolds, Gene Hackman and Liza Minnelli were three of my favorite actors so I was excited about their teaming in LUCKY LADY. The film was directed by Stanley Donen who was behind several of my favorite movies including CHARADE and SINGIN' IN THE RAIN. The co-authors of AMERICAN GRAFFITI turned out the script! What could possibly go wrong? Well, quite frankly, I've blocked most of the details but let's just say that even back then my favorite part of this thing was the gorgeous Richard Amsel art seen above.




Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pierre Richard


 I love it when I can still, at this late date, discover an exciting performer whose work is completely unfamiliar to me. In this case, Pierre Richard, a French comic actor at his peak in the '70s and '80s. His best known films were remade in America as 1980s vehicles for Richard Pryor and Tom Hanks, leaving him known only to a select few in the US while a major iconic star in France.










Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Great Gildersleeve


After playing variations on the character on radio for several years, Harold Peary as The Great Gildersleeve was given his own sitcom spin-off (one of the first!) in the early forties. After a few appearances similarly in various movies, Peary got his own series of low-budget comedies soon afterwards. While the movies don't quite get the casting right at times, they do feature a number of members of the radio cast, although not necessarily playing their familiar roles. 





Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hannie Caulder



I remember teenage me lying awake the night before I saw HANNIE CAULDER, convinced by the ads that I was going to see Raquel Welch naked all over the place! Raquel actually never once did a nude scene in any of her films but at the time, what did I know?

It was rated R but I had convinced my dad to take me  and what we ended up getting was an odd bird indeed--A fish and chips western!

Produced by Welch's then-husband, HANNIE CAULDER is an English idea of a spaghetti western. And it works for the most part.

The plot deals with a raped woman getting revenge on her attackers. There are some ick moments around that.

The FUN is in the cast. Welch LOOKS good enough that one can discount her not quite yet good acting, especially when she's surrounded by veteran scene-chewers like Strother Martin, Jack Elam and Ernest Borgnine as the villains. Cool Robert Culp plays the hero. Add the unlikely appearances of Christopher Lee and Diana Dors as well as a cameo from Stephen Boyd and then have veteran western director Burt Kennedy stir it all up to a fairly tasty concoction.



Sunday, December 21, 2014

36 Hours


Long but suspenseful, 36 HOURS from 1964 presents James Garner as a military man who knows all the info about the planned Allied Invasion of Europe. He's kidnapped by the Nazis who attempt to get  him to reveal the info via an elaborate ruse that makes him think the war is long over and it's 6 years later. 

Garner is restrained but good. The easy charm he usually exudes comes here instead from Rod Taylor as the Nazi who learns so much about his prey that he learns to respect him more than his masters.

Eva Marie Saint heads up the rest of the excellent cast that included even an appearance by TV's Sgt. Schultz, John Banner, doing something very un-Schultzlike.

















Monday, December 15, 2014

Cantinflas


Highly recommended if you get the chance. It's a biography of the great and beloved Mexican film comedian Mario Moreno aka Cantinflas, told from the perspective of his first international triumph in Mike Todd's AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS and looking back over his life. Spanish actor Oscar Jaenada does an at times amazing visual impersonation of the film's subject, with US character actor Michael Imperioli excellent also as the eccentric and quirky producer, Todd.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Who Killed Teddy Bear?



This picture undoubtedly gave heart attacks to the still very much in force local censors of the day. This is very much a gritty 1970s movie. Unfortunately it was made in 1965!


The plot alone would seem unacceptable. Rapes, murders, obscene phone calls, a terrorized woman. The killer is obsessed with pornography but so is the detective! 


Written by comic book legend Arnold Drake--creator of Deadman and the Doom Patrol--the cast is if anything more impressive in retrospect than it was at the time. Sal Mineo--always underutilized--gives perhaps his best performance and looks pretty darn hot throughout if I do say so myself as a devout heterosexual. Juliet Prowse, whom I always think of as a dancer, is a good actress here and effortlessly sexy.


Also in the cast are the great Elaine Stritch, future HILL STREET BLUES star Daniel J. Travanti, Margot Bennett (later married toMalcolm McDowell) and great character actors like Rex Everhart, Frank Campanella and Bruce Glover.


And surprisingly the hero--or what passes for one here--is played quite well by comic Jan Murray in a  tough but quirky perfomance.



One of the real stars of the picture though is the city of New York itself, caught in all its raw glory in noirish black and white with a feeling that wouldn't be felt again until Martin Scorsese, all done up in a nice package directed by Phoebe Cates' dad!