Chandler’s Trailers : “The Nude Bomb” (1980)

 Television super spy Maxwell Smart makes a tepid motion picture debut in Clive Donner’s “The Nude Bomb”, an aimless exercise in demonstrating how smart (no pun intended) and tightly constructed the original “Get Smart” series was in comparison to the seemingly hundreds of spy, Eurospy and comedic knock-offs which have been produced since the popularity of the James Bond thrillers in the 1960’s. If the original incarnation of the series was illustrative of anything, it is how precariously close to a ridiculous self-parody most of presumably serious efforts were, and how easily, in the hands of seasoned farceurs the fundamental building blocks of espionage might be slightly exaggerated to expose an absurdist core. “The Nude Bomb” strays from this calculation with a dedication of an accounting firm analyzing l.p. the reliable fiscal marketability of a known brand with a “New and Improved!” label obscuring the fact that the previously favored ingredients have been monkeyed with. With the exception of Smart and the evil organization KAOS, there is little of the familiar remaining and little that is new tickles the funnybone.

To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandlers-trailers-short-bits-for-emerging-cinephiles-and-a-better–america/

 

 

 

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Posted in comedy, espionage, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, Sylvia Kristel, Television, writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Lonelyhearts: “Play It Again, Sam” (1972)

aaplay   “Play It Again, Sam”  (1972)

    It would seem like a smart move to begin the film version of Woody Allen’s theatrical opus “Play It Again, Sam” with the airport aaplayOSfinale from”Casablanca”, as the difference in screen image between the heroically noble Rick Blaine and Allen’s slack-jawed Allan Felix immediately establishes the foundation of the psychological dependence based on idolatry with Allen’s movie maven whose relationship failures are methodically italicized when compared to the polished artifice of his Golden Age Hollywood romantic fantasies.

    Much of the film’s humor is derived by emphasizing the drastic gulf between Bogart’s idealized masculine movie persona (who appears periodically to offer what is meant as sage wisdom) and Allen’s fawning but almost pathologically awkward horndog; though this is a conceit which becomes increasingly aaplay2strained when it becomes apparent that the often inconsistent, film noir embellished advice given by the trenchcoated Dear Abby is merely the product of a phantasmagoric apparition solely at the mercy of Allan’s own insecure predispositions toward women; with Bogart’s B-movie philosophizing emanating entirely from Allan’s own inability to operate with confidence with the opposite sex while confusing and altering the admired behavior of his figurative mentor to coincide with Allan’s own romantic shortcomings. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nights-at-the-laurel-drive-in/

 

Posted in comedy, film noir, Humphrey Bogart, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, Romance, theater, women, Woody Allen, writing | 2 Comments

Chandler’s Trailers: “The Life and Times of Xaviera Hollander” (1974)

 

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 “The Life and Times of Xaviera Hollander” (1974)  Disregarding the content of the real-life Hollander’s memoirs ‘The Happy Hooker’, Larry G. Spangler’s film is merely an extremely crude patchwork of lackluster sex scenes framed as flashbacks as a fictitious rendition of Hollander answers a series of stilted inquiries from her current lover while he awaits resurrective stimulation for a second go around. As portrayed by newcomer Samantha McLaren, Hollander is an overly tanned (considering every minute of her spare time seems spent in poorly lit compromising positions) sexual go-to girl whose initial professed innocence and inexperience seems consistent with that of a veteran streetwalker; her bored proficiency of technique demonstrated in her supposed virginal encounter belies any credibility that a loss of purity is an issue (a common flaw in adult films where the “innocent” is portrayed either as overtly matter-of-fact or suspiciously practiced in the fine points of boisterously heated lovemaking). 

To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandlers-trailers-short-bits-for-emerging-cinephiles-and-a-better-america/

 

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Posted in books, erotica, grindhouse, movie reviews, Movies, pornography, sex, women, writing | Tagged | 1 Comment

Chandler’s Trailers: “Sex By Advertisement” (1968)


sexbyadvertisement “Sex By Advertisement”  (1968)  Is it a mockumentary on the subject of “degenerate” sex, or simply another sleazy sexploitation film pretending to have social significance in order to elude prosecution? A little of both actually, though the former may be more unintentional by way of a truly bizarre editorial aesthetic possible only through an entirely fortuitous incompetence that only a lunatic could have purposely designed. In any event, Joel M. Reed’s obscure faux documentary “Sex By Advertisement” features clinical testimony by Dr. Joanne Ridgefield (played by future “Miss Jones” Georgina Spelvin who would certainly have insider knowledge about the subject, though not in the way academically accredited in the film) who soberly and unflinchingly reads disapproving commentary from cue cards concerning what she sees as a burgeoning danger of luring unsuspecting enthusiasts of sexual debasement by way newspaper classifieds and coffee shop bulletin boards. Not exactly The Kinsey Report

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandlers-trailers-short-bits-for-emerging-cinephiles-and-a-better-america/

Posted in erotica, Georgina Spelvin, grindhouse, Jennifer Welles, Movies, Reviews, sex, women, writing | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Knock Offs: “Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw” (1976)


bobbiejo3        “Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw”  (1976)

    When bored carhop Bobbie Jo Baker (Lynda Carter) asks charmless drifter Lyle Wheeler (Marjoe Gortner) who his hero is, the answer should be the more accurate “Clyde Barrow” rather than the asserted “Billy the Kid” bobbiejoandtheoutlawINSERTas the violent trajectory to be taken by these two characters will be unmistakable to anyone who has seen Arthur Penn’s landmark 1967 film, though now admittedly executed on a lesser scale both in style and substance.

    Mark L. Lester’s “Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw” purports to tell the story of a couple doomed in an inescapable spiral of crime, yet the film is embarrassingly short on the essential narrative element of character motivation. The only reason for Bobbie Jo and Lyle’s descension into truly meaningless lawlessness is that the film needs an excuse to fill its paltry 88 minutes with badly staged car chases and shootouts once it has already exhausted the audience’s patience with a numbing succession of  music interludes shamelessly inserted to kill time while invaluable expository dialogue is drowned out by a soundtrack promoting irrelevant country western crooning; though, perhaps, on the basis of the decipherable dialogue by Vernon Zimmerman, Lester’s conciliation toward obscurity is more along the lines of a public service. Surely, the standards demanded of a literate American culture need no further dumbing down by yet another drive-in feature with no ambition, no originality and no reason to exist.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nights-at-the-laurel-drive-in/ 

 

Posted in crime, Drive-In Movies, Movies, Reviews, Romance, women, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Screwballed: “What’s Up, Doc?” (1972)


whatsupdoc4                 “What’s Up, Doc?”  (1972)

    When a popular genre fades away and then finds a sudden revival in even a singular vehicle, it is natural to consider whether the newer incarnation brings a legitimate contribution to the genre or is merely a product of slavish nostalgic admiration? Surely suchwhatsupINSERT considerations are at the forefront with “critic” cum director Peter Bogdanovich’s “What’s Up, Doc?”, a contemporized version of those breathless slapstick comedies which burst onto movie screens in the mid-Thirties and all but disappeared within two decades.

    Ever the relentlessly enthusiastic film buff, whose fawning idolatry of Golden Age Hollywood obviously clouds his creative  judgment sufficiently for any impulse toward originality to take a backseat in favor of nostalgic imitation, in “What’s Up, Doc?”, Bogdanovich unaccountably bases his comedy on a tired Hitchocockian Macguffin rather than in a witty clash of eccentrics, with the rusty gears of tired plotting fed by wheezy gag writer schtick that becomes increasingly pedestrian as it unfolds. 

    In San Francisco, several unrelated characters arrive and converge at a hotel, four of them carrying matching plaid suitcases (does it make sense that a rich dowager would carry the same case as a penniless student?) that will figure in a continuous game of musical luggage which becomes not only fatiguing but pointless as multiple switches often occur without anyone being aware nor with there being any consequence, so what exactly is the point except to distract from the central characters and the realization that there really isn’t any story constructed about them?  The screenplay by Buck Henry, Robert Benton and David Newman (the latter two losing every bit of their “Bonnie and Clyde” strutting rights after “Oh! Calcutta!”), based on a story by Bogdanovich (which from the pastiche nature of the film suggests the scenario might have been based on viewing notes of better directors’ movies, though not necessarily the better parts of those films) doesn’t allow for a continuous flow of comic dynamism nor a believable romantic tension to emerge between the principles when the various scrambled travel bags are afforded far more priority screen time.

 To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nights-at-the-aspen-hill-cinema/

 

Posted in Barbra Streisand, comedy, Movies, Reviews, Romance, writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Chandler’s Trailers: “The Holcroft Covenant” (1985)

holcroftcovenantThe resurgence of the Third Reich seems to be popular sport for thriller novelists seeking an easily identifiable scapegoat for global chicanery, and nowhere has this premise been given a more haphazard treatment than in John Frankenheimer’s film of the Robert Ludlum novel “The Holcroft Covenant”. A roster of distinguished European acting talent is trapped with Michael Caine in a preposterously violent (and needlessly sleazy) conspiracy plot whose eventual disclosure is so monumentally underwhelming in comparison to the mayhem that occurs in its concealment that the embarrassingly staged reveal comes off like an overemphatic reading of an actuarial report. 

To read the complete review. click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandlers-trailers-short-bits-for-emerging-cinephiles-and-a-better-america/

Posted in books, espionage, History, John Frankenheimer, Michael Caine, Movies, Mystery, Reviews, World War II, writing | 2 Comments

67 Years and No Relief in Sight: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, March 2019 Edition, Vol. 1952

 

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NEWS FLASH: The prototype Feather ‘N’ Tickle Cinema was to be given a lucrative test run in the quiet village of Beetley until a 2018 meeting of the Parish Council reminded the citizens of the national English ban on fun and pleasure.

67 Years and No Relief in Sight: Classic Film Photo Quiz, Mar. 2019 Edition, Vol. 1952

    Some men are born to greatness. Some have greatness thrust upon them, And some just won’t go away. Which brings us to yet another edition of America’s (The Former Colonies for those who have not kept up with their The Federalist subscriptions.) favorite irritant that doesn’t require relief with a topical ointment, the Classic Film Images Photo67gif1.gif Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those fine folks who distribute SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy; also available at the Beetley Q8 Petroleum (along with a selection of “funny” magazines under the counter; use the code word: WHIPLASH) In this edition we celebrate the life and legacy (well, the presence anyway) of one of CSR’s most persistent reader contributors (AKA anarchistic instigator) and as such may be legitimately eligible for intensive therapy as medically certified by that great and vast social experiment known as Chandler Swain Reviews. However, in celebration of our same good buddy from the far shores of Beetley (and we do suggest you visit his site at:  https://beetleypete.com, one of the most literate and readable havens on the Web) we present a look at his 67 years as reflected in the cinema. The following sixty seven images each represent a year in the life of our pal Pete, though we suspect without the occasional pictured lingerie. Your task is to correctly identify all sixty seven photos. The first to do so will receive the relatively new but still adolescently difficult CSR Culture Shock Award, transferable for one free seat at the Thursday Night Vatican City College of Cardinals Poker Night. Good luck.

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Posted in biography, black cinema, books, British films, comedy, crime, History, Movies, Musicals, Mystery, Romance, women, writing | 7 Comments

The Spy With Alfie’s Face: “The Jigsaw Man” (1983)


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       “The Jigsaw Man”  (1983)

    Featuring a story which obviously taking its cue from real-life double agent scandals (just where would half of the British espionage films have found their inspiration withoutjigsawmanOS Kim Philby?) Terence Young’s “The Jigsaw Man” is a spy thriller which seems to take more pleasure in the diversity of oddball eccentricity it presents as representative of British Intelligence than in making sense.

     Beginning as if it intends to be a continuation of “Scream and Scream Again”, traitorous former head of MI6 Philip Kimberley (whose backstory sounds suspiciously like details from the life and times of Philby and Guy Burgess) who is now living in the bosom of Mother U.S.S.R. is unceremoniously whisked away to undergo a session of secretive surgery involving major facial reconstruction, the result being a miraculously undetectable transformation from Kimberley (Richard Aylen) into defector Sergei Kuzminsky (Michael Caine), who has agreed to return to England to hand over his former “insurance policy”: a pay list of every Soviet spy operating in Great Britain, for the meager price of one million Swiss francs. However, the altered Kimberley has plans of his own, including a reuniting with his estranged daughter Penelope (Susan George) and double-crossing the KGB by selling the critical documents to the British Secret Service for one million dollars. Naturally the Soviets anticipate this deception (then why allow Kimberley the opportunity?) and they seem to have no problem in locating the supposedly wily Kimberley no matter how elaborate his machinations, despite being depicted as some of the most obvious and incapable agents ever to grace the screen. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/for-queen-and-country-the-british-cinema/

Posted in books, British films, Cold War, espionage, Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine, Movies, Romance, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Lure of the Siren: “Carmen” (1915)


carmen19153           “Carmen”  (1915)

     If a proper movie translation of Prosper Mérimée’s novella “Carmen” is to be realized, the film must positively reek of earthiness; it must relay a passion so irresistible in its attraction and so obsessive in its possession that it carmen1915OSconsumes the heart and destroys the soul. That’s a tall order for any filmmaker, but the film must additionally trust in the storytelling instincts to be gleaned from Mérimée’s source material and not shortchange the narrative of the doomed Don José in favor of its more provocative character, the gypsy Carmen, who may be the instrument of the soldier’s ultimate fall from Grace, but it is still Don José’s story.

    Any successful translation of “Carmen” is also reliant upon incisive casting and that is the first and most glaring failure of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1915 version. Opera star Geraldine Farrar makes her motion picture debut in the title role, and though her presence here is heralded to a great extent by her stature, at the time, as one of the world’s most celebrated operatic divas, her estimable vocal gifts are irrelevant in this production in which her interpretation of Mérimée’s fiery seductress could be most accurately comparable to that if it were being played by Margaret Dumont; all theatrical posturing that results in a portrait far too matronly and self-conscious to generate a flicker of heat. Negligible too is the Don José of Wallace Reid who fails to leave any impression; either as lover or actor.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandler-swain-reviews-the-silents/

Posted in books, Cecil B. DeMille, History, Movies, Reviews, Romance, silent movies, women, writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Nakedly Revealing: “Oh! Calcutta!” (1972)

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BARE ESSENTIALS: While the talented Margo Sappington choreographs and performs her own dance au natural in the pursuit of Art, the audience is left to ponder as to polar extremes of its own patronizing interest: the search for artistry or merely prurient curiosity?  Surprisingly, the answer may  lie within Jacques Levy’s unpredictably revealing film recording of the initially Off-Broadway production of “Oh! Calcutta!”, which actually speaks more about the audience’s reaction to the new sexual freedoms opening up in popular culture at the time, than in  exhibiting  the smallest  hint of wit or insight into the subject of sex, despite the prestigious roster of names accredited with the show’s conception.

          “Oh! Calcutta!”  (1972)

    “In America, sex is an obsession. In other parts of the world, it’s a fact.”                                                                                                                          – Marlene Dietrich

    There’s an interesting sequence at the beginning of Jacques Levy’s film version of the notorious theatrical revue “Oh! Calcutta!” in which the cast members are unashamedly mingling in the altogether as they go about their preparatory rituals backstage, while the arriving audience is seen sitting with a palpable discomfort as if each 00000000ohcalcuttaOSof the patrons were awaiting a court sentence. The dichotomy in behavior is both amusing and revealing: the performers enjoying complete ease with their bodies (how refreshing to see nudity portrayed as something other than for a lewdly sniggery effect instead of the casual celebration of the unselfconscious unencumbered state of the human body shown here) while the audience members seem to be layered in extra clothing as if the very act of sitting in the theater is tantamount to a shameful admission of prurient appetites (not to mention fleshy contact with the theater chairs might create an intimate contact with a sexually transmitted disease, as if they were sitting in a midnight showing on The Deuce).

     The brief sequence is an unexpected (and, from the evidence of the rest of the film, unintentional) documentation of common extremes of the systemic popular hypocrisy here finding expression in behavior associated with the perceived acceptance of open sexuality in American society while contradictorily proffering an acknowledgement of an unspoken defensive societal posture in publicly denying any actual interest in sex. So restrictive were the watchdogs of the most influential art form of the 20th Century (cinema), who actively quashed any overt expression of the sexual impulse except as a provocation for moral condemnation, that it perpetuated a self-castigating mindset for an unhealthily extended period in popular cultural.

 To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/sexual-politics-in-the-cinema/

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Culture, dance, erotica, Film Reviews, movie reviews, Movies, Musicals, Reviews, sex, theater, writing | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Fragility: “David and Lisa” (1962)


davidandlisa     “David and Lisa”  (1962)

    Hollywood seems reluctant to ignore a good story about mental illness as the actors are given to unleashing the hounds in roles that are traditional award magnets, while directors are afforded the opportunity to extend their visual vocabulary to heightened davidandlisaosaesthetic exaggerations depicting the (usually) frenzied mental state of the character (the Salvador Dali designed funhouse ride dreams of “Spellbound”) or the nightmarish condition of their institutional environs (the Bosch/Busby Berkeley flavored tableaux of “The Snake Pit”). 

    With “David and Lisa”, Frank Perry, in his directorial debut, initially sheds the self-consciously stylized baggage most filmmakers indulge in with similar material, favoring an impressively unobtrusive, pseudo-documentary style in which there is a genuine respect for the process of quiet observation and listening as a means to achieve real understanding, and secure emotional intimacy.

    David Clemens (Keir Dullea) is a highly intelligent young man who suffers from a pathological terror of physical contact. As he is introduced, he is being placed as a resident of a psychiatric youth treatment facility, though there is never an attempt to specifically identify his or any of the other residents’ actual psychological disorders; which by all available evidence, seems to involve different forms of discomfort with normal social interaction (though the same could be said of any high school cafeteria, sodavidandlisa3 the lack of more clinical reference points is not helpful in appreciating the film’s set-up). David is arrogantly antisocial, dismissing the thoughts and interest of others as insignificant, but is obsessed with the mechanics of timepieces and suffers from obvious obsessive compulsive behavior. His emotional isolation finds relief when he falls into an empathetic relationship with fellow resident Lisa Brandt (Janet Margolin), an energetic adolescent girl who apparently can only speak through childish rhyming verse, but who also suffers sudden shifts into a more withdrawn and mute personality (communicating solely through writing), identifying herself as Muriel. Lisa’s suffering from schizophrenia (as it is identified by David during one of his early smarty-pants pronouncements) suggests that the center’s patient roster acknowledges the presence of patients suffering from acute biological not restricted to simple behavioral disorders but also acute biological disorders. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/evenings-at-the-afi/

Posted in books, children, education, Movies, parenting, psychiatry, Romance, writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Again, Savages: “No moriré sola” (2008)


nomoriresola6          “No moriré sola”  (2008)

     There are times when a solitary movie makes you regret the invention of the cinema. “No moriré sola”, a.k.a. “I’ll Never Die Alone”, is made by people who evidently found “Innomoriresolaos Spit On Your Grave” too cerebral an experience; weighed down, as it must have been, with an inconvenient excess of sociopolitical baggage (called in civilized circles: excuse making) which inconveniently intruded upon the visceral thrill to be had in watching a woman repeatedly brutalized and raped. 

   “No moriré sola” is far more straightforward in its intentions. A carload of young women stops to help a shot (though the condition of her body suggests additional brutal treatment) and dying woman laying on the side of the road. In reporting the incident, the women are summarily beaten and raped (and more) by the same fellows who killed the first victim.  That’s about it for anything which might resemble a plot as though the production has been streamlined even from the spare example of its obvious source of inspiration.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/cinema-disturbia/

 

 

 

 

Posted in crime, grindhouse, Movies, women | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Twenty Five on the Black Hand Side: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Feb. 2019 Edition, Vol. 46

mlk61Twenty Five on the Black Hand Side:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Feb. 2019 Edition, Vol. 46

    Being that February has been designated Black History Month by every U.S. President since 1976 (while Congress has been completely inactive on our initiative to declare August “Give a Free Pastrami on Dark Rye, With Mustard and a Pickle to Writers of CSR Month”…. the bastards!), it seems an opportune time to pretend to care about eithernew faces2 new faces3cultural diversity or history when we’re painfully hungry for a pastrami on dark rye, with mustard and a pickle, and to present this month’s edition of America’s favorite intracranial distraction from visions of cream soda with  a pastrami on dark rye with mustard and a pickle chaser, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you by those foolish fellows who promote and distribute SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy and twice as nutritious as a recommended daily allowance of head cheese. In this edition we celebrate the talent, perseverance and contributions of the black artist in film in the century long struggle to emerge from the shadows playing subservient bit roles or eye rolling stereotypes in the service of a whitewashed Hollywood whose headliners conducted themselves with the moral standards of denizens of Caligula’s Pleasure Palace while black artists were regarded with scorn and an absence of dignity simply due to the color of their skin. The rules are the same. Be the first to identify the following twenty five films and receive that totem of global peace and harmony (and a dandy decoration on the refrigerator), the CSR Culture Shock Award. Good luck, and pass the sauerkraut.

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Posted in biography, black cinema, Blaxploitation, books, comedy, Drive-In Movies, History, Jim Brown, Movies, Musicals, women, writing | 2 Comments

Concession Stand Bites: “The War Wagon” (1967)


thewarwagon“The War Wagon” (1967)
Starring John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Howard Keel, Robert Walker Jr. Bruce Cabot, Keenan Wynn. Written by Clair Huffaker, based on his novel. Directed by Burt Kennedy. Standard serio-comic western which places Wayne in the rare role of the pseudo-bad guy, or is he?. In this film he’s Taw Jackson, an ex-con who’s out to rob the even badder guys who stole his ranch and then set him up to serve a stretch in prison. So technically there is no break in the Wayne persona, which veered explosively in John Ford’s “The Searchers” and then returned to the relative comfort zone. The supporting characters are a grab bag of western “types” usually played for background color, but in this case brought to the forefront to give the illusion of a density of incident that just isn’t there: they include a jealous, compulsive thief (Wynn), a drunken explosives expert with an inconveniently loose tongue (Walker Jr.), an Indian who can’t stay out of trouble (Keel) and Taw’s eventual partner Lomax, (Douglas) a gunslinger who is contracted to kill him and was also instrumental in helping frame him in the first place. If it all sounds rather forced and gimmicky, it is that, but Wayne and Douglas make an amusing duo helped by some brisk witty dialogue that often doesn’t know when to quit and gets too cute for it’s own good; as if the two are accompanied across the landscape by a team of overworked comedy writers.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-concession-stand-quick-snack-reviews/

Posted in John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Movies, Reviews, westerns, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Concession Stand Bites: “Murder Inc.” (1960)

murderinc“Murder Inc.” (1960) Starring Stuart Whitman, May Britt, Peter Falk, Henry Morgan, David J. Stewart, Simon Oakland, Morey Amsterdam, Joseph Bernard, Vincent Gardenia. Written by Irve Tunick & Mel Barr, based on the book by Burton Turkus and Sid Feder. Directed by Burt Balaban and Stuart Rosenberg. Tepid, meandering story of the Brooklyn gang that became the assassination arm of organized crime in the 1930’s and the means by which they were exposed, leading to the execution of syndicate kingpin Louis Lepke. The film proceeds haltingly and without sufficient focus, betraying a troubled production and the use of two different directors. When Peter Falk (in his screen debut) is onscreen as criminal assassin Abe Reles, the film comes alive, drawing from his energetic performance. Unfortunately, he is invisible for much of the second half and the film suffers with a variable performance by Stuart Whitman in an underwritten (and not particularly compelling) role as singer Joey Collins who eventually provides important testimony for investigating Burton Turkus (Henry Morgan).

To read the complete review. click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-concession-stand-quick-snack-reviews/

Posted in books, crime, History, movie reviews, Movies, women, writing | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Concession Stand Bites: “A Game of Death” (1945)

agameofdeath“A Game of Death” (1945) Starring John Loder, Audrey Long, Edgar Barrier, Russell Wade. Written by Norman Houston, based on the story by Richard Connell. Directed by Robert Wise. First remake of the classic “The Most Dangerous Game” finds big game hunter Don Rainsford yet again shipwrecked on the island of a madman who hunts humans for sport. Being that the film was shot and released at the end of World War 2, the killer protagonist has been changed from the story and film original Russian Zaroff to the German Erich Kreiger, but except for a few extra lines of valuable philosophical dialogue from Kreiger that is in keeping with the original story, the first half of the scenario is a virtual carbon copy of James Ashmore Cheelman’s 1932 adaptation, down to the harmful and unnecessary addition of the heroine Ellen Trowbridge- nee Eve- (played by the less annoying than Fay Wray Audrey Long, but far too bland nonetheless) and her brother Robert-formerly Martin- (Russell Wade, an improvement on the uselessly drunk and hammy Robert Armstrong). 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-concession-stand-quick-snack-reviews/

Posted in books, fay wray, movie remakes, Movies, Reviews, Robert Wise, short stories, writing | 2 Comments

Concession Stand Bites: “Shaft” (1971)

shaft“Shaft” (1971) Starring Richard Roundtree, Moses Gunn, Charles Cioffi. Directed by Gordon Parks. Written by Ernest Tidyman, based on his novel. The blaxploitation hit that supposedly started the genre into short-lived high gear is neither blaxploitation nor the hit that started the genre in earnest (that was more likely the Ossie Davis film “Cotton Comes to Harlem”), but a relatively colorless entry into the NYC private eye genre with it’s sole distinction that it stars a protagonist of color. Richard Roundtree portrays p.i. John Shaft as a fashion model with an attitude that wouldn’t intimidate Helen Hayes. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-consession-stand-quick-snack-reviews/

Posted in black cinema, Blaxploitation, books, crime, Drive-In Movies, Movies, music, New York City, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Concession Stand Bites: “Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961)


judgmentatnuremberg“Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961)
Starring Spencer Tracy. Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Maximilian Schell, Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift. Written by Abby Mann. Directed by Stanley Kramer. Lengthy, literate courtroom drama, still the most intelligent film to come from Hollywood on the subject of Nazi atrocities. The subject is post-World War II war crimes tribunals, ironically taking place in Nuremberg, location of the first international attention attained by Nazi fanaticism through the “documentation” of Hitler’s National Socialist rallies (filled with alarm bells curiously unheeded at the time) in Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will”. Kramer’s film is a still scathing indictment, not only of the Nazis but of Germany itself, as it dissects the disintegration of the moral fabric of an entire society who found the capability of inhuman action a small price to pay for a quick resolution of their economic and political crises. To the credit of the filmmakers, there is an attempt to interject a balanced viewpoint so what little may be understood of the attraction of evil by an entire society may be examined; but it is an intractable riddle, resistant to any one universal truth. Kramer and writer Abby Mann are well aware of this, and in a cogent creative choice, concentrate instead on the industry of denial and evasion of responsibility. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-concession-stand-quick-snack-reviews/

Posted in Burt Lancaster, crime, History, Judy Garland, Movies, politics, Richard Widmark, Spencer Tracy, Stanley Kramer, World War II, writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Concession Stand Bites: “Legend of the Lost” (1957)


legendofthelost“Legend of the Lost” (1957)
Starring John Wayne, Sophia Loren, Rossano Brazzi, Kurt Kasnar. Written by Ben Hecht and Robert Presnell. Directed by Henry Hathaway. In Timbuktu, adventurer Joe January (Wayne) is hired by a mysterious man named Paul Bonnard (Brazzi) to guide him into the Sahara Desert, in what later is revealed to be a plan to find Bonnard’s father, a lost city and the treasure that is supposedly hidden there. Accompanying them on the trip is a local girl of ill repute, Dita, (Loren) with whom Joe spends most of the trip bickering, although there develops an almost imperceptible seed of a romantic triangle that doesn’t really develop since Bonnard is a man of piety believing in neither drink nor with sexually fraternizing with women; until later, that is, when Bonnard attempts to kill Joe in an unmotivated delusional jealous rage over Dita. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-concession-stand-quick-snack-reviews/

Posted in John Wayne, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, Romance, Sophia Loren, women, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Chandler’s Trailers: “Godzilla” (1998)

 

godzilla1998     The Americanized version of Toho’s “Gojira” franchise is about nothing if not large, gaudy set-pieces. There are dozens of scenes, each involving catastrophic property damage, noisy weaponry and variable special effects, all topped off with a dollop of some truly execrable screenwriting and stereotypically boobish cartoon cutouts substituting as recognizable human characters. In other words: a typical Roland Emmerich blockbuster. The basic premise of a large behemoth running amok in a modern city is hardly a new concept unless we ignore the 1925 silent feature “The Lost World” or 1933’s “King Kong” or 1953’s “The Beast From 20.000 Fathoms” or any number of Harryhausen features, or…well, you get the idea. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandlers-trailers-short-bits-for-emerging-cinephiles-and-a-better-america/

Posted in Drive-In Movies, Godzilla, kaiju, movie remakes, Movies, New York City, science fiction, writing | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Concession Stand Bites: “Slaughterhouse-Five” (1972)

slaughterhousefive“SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE” (1972) Starring Michael Sacks, Ron Leibman, Valerie Perrine, Eugene Roche, Perry King, Kevin Conway. Directed by George Roy Hill. Written by Stephen Geller based on the novel by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. When the film of a seemingly unfilmable novel manages to capture not only the substantive essence but the tone of it’s literary source, you know you’re seeing something special. Director George Roy Hill was an odd bird, capable of a complete surrender to crass commercialism (see “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”) yet still capable of direct, intelligent artistry in the service of that same commercialism. His film of “Slaughterhouse-Five” is a latter such film, confidently crafted with a superbly intelligent script adaptation, a roster of perfectly cast performers stressing type not star power and gossamer-like editing from the brilliant Dede Allen which effortlessly translates Vonnegut’s conceit of Billy Pilgrim’s becoming “unstuck in time” with the graceful ease of a page turning, despite the fact the page turning is out of sequence and perfectly capable of confusing the audience with a seeming randomness; though “seeming” is the operative word, as there is an intelligent design at work in which each jarring transportation is met with corresponding, collaborative elements from one sequence to another. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-concession-stand-quick-snack-reviews/

Posted in books, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, Romance, science fiction, World War II, writing | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Concession Stand Bites: “Dracula” (1931)

dracula“DRACULA” (1931) Starring Bela Lugosi, Dwight Frye, Helen Chandler, David Manners, Edward Van Sloane. Directed by Tod Browning and an uncredited Karl Freund. Written by Garret Ford, from the play by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, based on the novel by Bram Stoker. The first “official” film based on Stoker’s vampiric Count has atmosphere to spare in the opening reels with Frye’s Renfield visiting Dracula’s Transylvanian castle, but once it reaches dry English soil, it become a dry English drawing room play. This is somewhat predictable since the film takes as it’s primary source, not the groundbreaking epistolary novel, but the tepid stage adaptation by Deane & Balderston. The stage bound feel of the script is not compensated for by imaginative direction; as a matter of fact Tod Browning’s efforts seems particularly hampered in this effort as if he either was disinterested in the material or felt insecure with the primitive technical constraints of early talkies. 

To read the complete review. click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-concession-stand-quick-snack-reviews/

Posted in books, horror, movie reviews, Movies, Pre-Code Movies, Reviews, theater, vampires, writing | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Concession Stand Bites: “36 Hours” (1965)


36hours“36 Hours” (1965)
Starring James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, Rod Taylor, Werner Peters, John Banner, Alan Napier. Written by George Seaton, based on the story “Beware of the Dogs” by Roald Dahl and a story by Carl K. Hittleman & Luis H. Vance. Directed by George Seaton. High level intrigue World War 2 style, following an elaborate deception by German psychiatric experts to extract top secret information about the impending D-Day invasion from Allied insider without him knowing about it; this is a radical expansion of the famous 1944 short story “Beware of the Dog” by Roald Dahl, with its more streamlined scenario of a downed, wounded RAF pilot substituted by the more grandiose vision of the “one man who holds the key to the war” formula. James Garner portrays Major Jefferson Pike, a U.S. Army Intelligence Officer who, after being briefed on the particulars of the imminent European Invasion, travels to Lisbon to meet with a recruited German double agent to ensure the Germans are anticipating the upcoming battle plans incorrectly.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-concession-stand-quick-snack-reviews/

Posted in books, espionage, History, James Garner, Movies, psychiatry, Rod Taylor, Romance, short stories, World War II, writing | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Concession Stand Bites: “My Little Chickadee” (1940)

mylittlechickadee“My Little Chickadee” (1940) Starring W.C. Fields, Mae West, Joseph Callieia, Dick Foran, Margaret Hamilton, Donald Meek, Ruth Donnelly. Written by Mae West, W.C. Fields. Directed by Edward F. Cline. What would appear to be a comic match made in heaven, with West, the Queen of the insouciant double entendre and Fields, the screen’s merriest misanthrope, is actually a frustrating demonstration of the creatively debilitating effects of the Production Code. Evident from the very first scene is the gag placed on Mae West, preventing her from practicing her most signature brand of sexually provocative material; her raison d’etre. It is like handicapping Fred Astaire with cement shoes topped by spats, obliviating one of the most important foundations of her lasting appeal. Almost every opportunity for West to speak (she wrote her own dialogue) is an exercise in frustration, often awkwardly paused as if she’s imagining the dialogue she’s unable to speak before the actual uninspired lines emerge, and occasionally there seems to be a sharp edit at the end of her lines, as if she smuggled one by the censor’s and was later rudely truncated. Fields, for his part, fares much better, evidently always unfazed by the limiting restrictions of Hays, having created his own idiosyncratic vocabulary substituting for language which would be deemed “offensive”. 

To read the complete review, click the following link:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-concession-stand-quick-snack-reviews/

Posted in comedy, Mae West, Movies, Reviews, Romance, W.C. Fields, westerns, women, writing | Tagged | 1 Comment

Cut Ups: “The Switchblade Sisters” (1975)

switchblade_sisters_1975_Maggie

Robbie Lee as Lace, the leader of the Dagger Debs, whose own worst personal enemy is the sibilant s.

“SWITCHBLADE SISTERS” (A.K.A. “THE JEZEBELS) (1975)

     Films that purport to be Exploitation cinema but follow the routine thematic formulas of this breed of cinema without encompassing genuine prerequisite exploitation elements is simply trash without a reason to exist.

    Jack Hill’s “Switchblade Sisters” (alternately titled “The Jezebels”, without any greater success) is such an animal; a mutt masquerading as an overbred canine- a compendium of drive-in trash cinema clichés encompassing a random Column A/Column B selection 300px-Switchblade_Sistersfrom gang films, blaxploitation cinema, vigilante films, drug films, teen films, sexploitation cinema and women-in-prison melodramas- with no apparent decision ever made on which avenue to focus on. Its a virtual “greatest hits” version of exploitation but on somnambulist cruise control.

    The film follows the exploits of two high school gangs, though most of the participants look about a decade too old, one named the Daggers and their female counterpart The Dagger Debs, who later in a break from the male of the species, to become The Jezebels. The events that lead to this change bring about the only remotely interesting aspect of the film; an indelible feminist viewpoint of empowerment.

    Despite the fact that the subordinate Dagger Debs are the girlfriends of the male gang, they are treated as shabbily and with the same lack of respect afforded their victims in the surrounding community. This has little to do with machismo or an innate toughness, but is a sloppy perspective perpetrated by director Hill who set a general standard in all of his exploitation films of celebrating the empowered woman by treating them as proverbial sexual objects as gratuitously and insultingly as possible.

To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/sticky-floors-stained-screens-days-nights-at-the-grindhouse/

Posted in crime, Drive-In Movies, grindhouse, movie reviews, Movies, women, writing | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Concession Stand Bites: “The Mountain” (1956)


mountain“The Mountain” (1956)
Starring Spencer Tracy, Robert Wagner, E.G. Marshall, Claire Trevor, Richard Arlen, William Demerest, Anna Kashfi. Written by Ranald MacDougall from a novel by Henri Troyar. Directed by Edward Dmytryk. When a passenger plane crashes at the top of a mountain in the Swiss Alps, it sets of a long simmering clash of brother against brother in Dmytyk’s leisurely but effectively suspenseful action drama. When a mountaineering party is launched, not to find survivors of which there are presumed to be none, but to gather mails and important documents, mountaineering legend Zachary Teller (Tracy) declines the opportunity, simply saying “I don’t climb anymore.” His hot-tempered sibling Christopher (Wagner) has other notions, expressing grave dissatisfaction with his life and with Zachary (“It used to mean something to be your brother,” he hisses contemptuously at Zachary, as if individual accomplishment would be an alien concept to his callow imagination.) and hatching a scheme to climb the mountain to rob the dead of their money and jewels. Much of the first half of the film is spent reemphasizing Zachary’s reticence to climb the mountain- no matter what the circumstance -partially leading to a foolhardy expedition that results in the death of a close friend. Much is made of Zachary’s expertise and of his simple way of life, but in Tracy’s portrayal Zachary gives not only the impression of being a man of simple tastes, but of just being simple.

To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-concession-stand-quick-snack-reviews/the-concession-stand-ii-the-return-of-quick-nibble-reviews/

Posted in 1950's cinema, Boston, Drive-In Movies, movie reviews, Movies, Spencer Tracy, writing | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Concession Stand Bites: “Upstairs and Downstairs” (1959)

aaupstairsanddownstairs“Upstairs and Downstairs” (1959) Starring Michael Craig, Anne Heywood, Mylene Demongeot, James Robertson Justice, Daniel Massey, Sid James, Joan Hickson, Joan Sims, Claudia Cardinale. Written by Frank Harvey, based on a novel by Ronald Scott Thorn. Directed by Ralph Thomas. What is it about British comedies that they seem to be populated by an unfair abundance of quirky, happily oddball characters who effortlessly operate in a world of their own individual behavioral devising- a quality that in genteel American terms might be referred to (if Capra’s “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” is used as a barometer of appropriate living) as “being pixilated” but in British terms might be more appropriately identified as “eccentricity”? Successful British comedies are abundant with eccentricity, more often than not with a seemingly inexhaustible population capable of all manifestations of drollery from deliciously awkward mannerisms, to comically twisted asides. Somehow, in the world of British comedy, even the normal is slightly askew, but in a civilized way, which makes the social aberrations all the more delicious. Ralph Thomas’ “Upstairs and Downstairs” is a fine example of the sturdy social center upended by a dizzying orbit of eccentricity.

To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-concession-stand-quick-snack-reviews/ 

Posted in British films, comedy, movie reviews, Movies, Romance, women, writing | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Middle Age Crazy: “The Black Sleep” (1956)

theblacksleeppix1    “THE BLACK SLEEP” (1956)

     Reminiscent of a poverty level variation of H.G. Wells’ “The Island of Dr. Moreau”, “The Black Sleep” is also a distant poor cousin to the clubhouse monster films of the waning days of Universal’s horror films such as “House of Frankenstein” which would 220px-Blacksleepposterassemble the various fading monster attractions for one last gasp at box office hurrahs. In this case, it’s not the monster characters that are resurrected but the roster of performers including Basil Rathbone, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi and John Carradine. Directed by Universal veteran Reginald Le Borg and written by John C. Higgins who penned a number of surprisingly gritty noir features for Anthony Mann, the film enjoys the pedigree for a promising horror film, but the talents all seem asleep at the wheel in what is not only a painfully derivative tale of “mad scientist” syndrome that had been done to death a decade before, but also a horror film without horror, chills, suspense or a genuine reason for any of the featured horror veterans to be appearing onscreen. Neither Chaney nor Lugosi have a word of dialogue to speak-yet still manage to be appallingly unconvincing- while Carradine, in what is basically a glorified cameo, brings enough ham to his role to feed a starving nation.

To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandler-swain-reviews-nites-at-the-natick-drive-in/chandler-swain-reviews-nites-at-the-bellingham-drive-in/

Posted in Drive-In Movies, horror, movie reviews, Movies, writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Chandler’s Trailers: “The Boys From Brazil” (1978)

boysfrombrazil

    Beware actors who protest their image too much. In the case of Franklin J. Schaffner’s “The Boys From Brazil”, the thespian in question is none other than venerable good guy Gregory Peck who makes a career backflip to the darker regions of human nature by tackling the role of nefarious Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele, a turn of dramatic ambitions that Peck seems to relish, yet is sadly inadequate to the task. Not that he’s assisted by surrounding cast of scenery munching screen Aryans including an odd turn by the usually reliable James Mason who plays his Nazi conspirator as a tourist of Key West club spots. The film follows the plot of Ira Levin’s source novel fairly closely, though Levin’s signature finales with evil seemingly emerging triumphant is obscured in no small part by a terribly staged final confrontation and the ruinous, multiplied non-presence of newcomer Jeremy Black, perhaps the worst motion picture discovery since Smell-O-Vision, though equally odoriferous. This mineral deposit impersonating an actor has been generously granted the opportunity to fail in several roles, each distinguished by a different accent, none of which resembles a legitimately recognized echo of human speech. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandlers-trailers-short-bits-for-emerging-cinephiles-and-a-better-america/

Posted in books, Gregory Peck, Laurence Olivier, movie reviews, Movies, music, Reviews, science, World War II | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Chandler’s Trailers: “Batman Returns” (1992)


batmanreturns    Tim Burton’s second film outing exploring Gotham City’s Caped Crusader is once again long on annoying guest villains and short on the main character. Though cheerfully absent of the destructive narcissism of a particular Nicholson, the film is a seamless continuation of the first film’s few strengths but an escalation of it’s more gratingly unnecessary flaws. In this installment, Batman is faced with two different costumed foes: a mutant Penguin and Catwoman; played respectively by a typically scene chewing (and drooling) Danny DeVito and a sumptuously playful Michele Pfeiffer. Again, Gotham City seems suspiciously underpopulated, as if the film’s budget didn’t extend beyond needlessly busy art direction to suit Burton’s (by now) tiresome visual scheme. It all begins well until the forced mechanics of cartoon villainy undercut the deliberate solemnity of the portrayal of the film’s hero. 

To read the complete review. click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandlers-trailers-short-bits-for emerging-cinephiles-and-a-better-America/

Posted in comic books, Drive-In Movies, movie reviews, movie sequels, Movies, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Concession Stand Bites: “Airport” (1970)


airport“Airport” (1970) Starring Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Jean Seberg, George Kennedy, Helen Hayes, Van Heflin, Maureen Stapleton, Lloyd Nolan. Directed by George Seaton. Written by George Seaton, based on the novel by Arthur Hailey.
The film credited with instigating the disaster movie trend of the early 70’s, Seaton’s film actually takes it’s model from the soap opera, with the dialogue advancing plot exposition rather than exploring character. The “all-star” cast is an interesting mix of genuine stars, fading screen personalities and eclectic hangers-on and the whole film is approached with the earnestness of an industrial instructional short which should minimize dramatic interest, but strangely makes the blatant hokum far more appealing than it has a right to be. Oddly, the least sympathetic characters in the roster are the ones chosen for possible doom and it’s more a credit to the sturdy conventions of the genre than to filmmaking cleverness that the film manages to maintain a moderate level of suspense. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-concession-stand-quick-snack-reviews/

Posted in books, Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, disaster films, Drive-In Movies, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews | 2 Comments

True Confections: “Trottie True” (1949)


trottietrue         “Trottie True”   (1949)

    “Trottie True” (stupidly retitled for U.S. distribution as “The Gay Lady”) is a colorful not quite rags to riches story (more like a tale of working class to upper crust ascendancy) embellished with song and dance, all in the service of the not tootrottietrueos original message that money and prestige don’t necessarily lead to  happiness, though they certainly can be tangible inducements when genuine affection makes a happy intrusion as part of the overall equation.

    Though there would appear to be little in the film that hasn’t been done before-  the parade of noble working class stiffs who carry on with a chipper optimism that might make Betty Hutton blush; sympathetic and subtly fun loving servants; a ruling class whose armor of superiority (easily distinguished by the timely placement of an arched eyebrow) can be effortlessly thawed with a coquettish flash of dimple and a cheery song  -it all works to a surprising degree, in no small part due to the film’s stubborn refusal to capitulate to the seeds of melodramatic discord simmering just beneath the movie’s sunny surface. There is a charm to the film that is not only undeniable but infectious, though it a charm easily won without the challenge of dramatic material which honestly addresses the real issues of class and sexual politics that are put to use as topical backdrops. Not unlike most musical features, any weight relevant to its subject is insubstantial by design.

 To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/for-queen-and-country-the-british-cinema/

Posted in British films, comedy, movie reviews, Movies, Musicals, Romance, theater, women, writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Primitives: “The Lost World” (1925)

alostworld1            “The Lost World”  (1925)

   Based upon the 1912 adventure novel by Sherlock Holmes scribe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry O. Hoyt’s 1925 “The Lost World” presents Conan Doyle’s less well known but equally estimable (in a more overtly flamboyant fashion) creation, Professor GeorgelostworldOS Edward Challenger in his initial appearance on the screen.

    This tale of a small band of intrepid adventurers, who travel to the farthest reaches of unexplored South America in order to find evidence of an uncharted plateau housing remnants of prehistoric epochs, has been substantially watered down in the adaption process from its initial action oriented pulp attraction with the inclusion of a woman in the novel’s original all male quartet of explorers, which not only changes the masculine dynamic of the narrative but fundamentally alters both a major character’s motivation in joining the expedition but also makes irrelevant the ironic twist ending pertaining to the cynical extinguishing of the novel’s tenuous connective thread to the romantic ideal. 

    Fiery Professor Challenger (Wallace Beery) leads a small group of volunteers, including renowned hunter Sir John Roxton (Lewis Stone), fellow scientist Professor Summerlee (Arthur Hoyt), journalist  Ed Malone (Lloyd Hughes) and Paula White (Bessie Love, whose role in the story is the aforementioned invention of the film adaptation), the daughter of explorer Maple White who was lost in a prior expedition tolostworld63 the mysterious plateau. The evidence of White’s discovery, a journal filled with sketches of living prehistoric creatures, is met with mockery when presented by Challenger to a conference of esteemed academics. Malone, in an attempt to cement his relationship with girlfriend Gladys Hungerford (Alma Bennett) by demonstrating an active pursuit of heroic adventure, persuades his editors to sponsor a rescue mission for White with Malone acting as their exclusive correspondent. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandler-swain-reviews-the-silents/

 

Posted in animation, books, movie reviews, Movies, Romance, silent films, silent movies, women, writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Mind Games: “Monstrosity” (1963)

 

monstrosity2

“HEY… MY BRAIN’S UP HERE!”: Dr, Frank (Frank Gerstle) attempts to keep his eyes on the prize while prepping domestic Nina Rhodes (Erika Peters) for a literal change of mind in the cheap, derivative but rather disturbing “Monstrosity”.

                   “Monstrosity”  (1963)

    “Monstrosity” is a film that has a great deal on its plate but none of it worth doing as it has already all been done better. And worse. Hence we are privy to a narration (spokenmonstrosityos  by Bradford Dillman) postulating the wonders of brain transplantation and its connection to vampiric legend (don’t ask) as well as a sexy corpse, a mad scientist, a nocturnal prowling man-beast, a murder and grave robbing. And that’s only in the first four minutes. Unfortunately, sheer quantity of borrowed horror movie elements does not necessarily produce a better film, merely a traffic jam.

Cleverly named scientist Dr. Frank (Frank Gerstle) is experimenting with brain transplantation using the bodies of recently deceased, very healthy looking young women. Regardless of the fact that there is no explanation as to the availability of so much freshy departed female meat in such a desolate location, the experiments proceed with the usual monstrous blunders (hence the title of the film) present in every mad scientist film, including the aforementioned man-beast; the product of an animal brain placed inside a human body (though why this makes the subject suddenly look like a denizen of Dr. Moreau’s summermonstrosity1 cottage is another unexplained mystery of science). Frank’s research is funded by a miserly old woman, Mrs. March (Marjorie Eaton) whose interest is motivated by her own desire to have her brain transplanted into the body of a nubile young woman. Also in her employ is Victor (Frank Fowler), a toady who practically salivates at the prospect of grabbing onto Mrs. March’s money (though Mr. Dillman reminds us that the unsavory rewards of romantic attachment to a twenty-something pin-up girl only for her to have the mind of a crotchety octogenarian). The scheme nears fruition with the importation of three foreign domestics-  Nina (Erika Peters), Beatrice (Judy Bamber) and Anita (Lisa Lang)  -who, unlike most women in peril in horror films, seem acutely aware that something is amiss from the very start, but feel powerless to take countermeasures. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/poverty-row/

 

Posted in Drive-In Movies, grindhouse, horror, Movies, science, women, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Hecklers Needed: “Dance Hall Racket” (1953)

dancehallracket2

WAS IT SOMETHING HE WROTE?: While one fortunate actor is left to contemplate the luck of his early demise in Phil Tucker’s atrocious “Dance Hall Racket”, Honey Bruce (here alibied as Honey Harlow) watches as real-life husband Lenny Bruce is manhandled by perpetual bad film contributor Timothy Farrell; no doubt over the crummy dialogue written by the “comic genius”.

            “Dance Hall Racket”  (1953)

  Critics have been arguing for decades over the genius/mediocrity of the late comedian Lenny Bruce, but with scant direct filmed evidence to make a case either way (certainly the horribly miscast Bob Fosse directed biopic “Lenny” did not help in any way), the verdictdancehallracketos may perpetually be unresolved. “Dance Hall Racket”, the only extended feature film appearance of the late comic as an actor will only further roadblock the cause for cultural canonization as Bruce is awkward, hesitant and often physically unable to spit out his admittedly horrible dialogue. The situation may be worse than first imagined, however, as Bruce is also credited with writing the same admittedly horrible dialogue.

    Directed by Phil Tucker between his work on the notorious SF hiccup “Robot Monster” and one of his sociological treatises on ecdysiasts, “Tijuana After Midnight”, “Dance Hall Racket” is the kind of backyard production that might have resulted when Mickey and Judy decided to “put on a show”, if their intention was imitate the tried and true gangster film by divesting themselves of every healthy creative instinct, all the while emphasizing the nickel and dime productiondancehallracket3 values (and having change left over) that would make any PRC production look like a Cecil B. DeMille opus by comparison.

   Low level racketeer Umberto Scalli (Timothy Farrell) runs a run down dance hall while running a diamond smuggling operation in his office. His hot-tempered flunky Vincent (Lenny Bruce) kills one of his contacts- a off-duty sailor  -in the crowded hall, but as in keeping with the traditions of bad movie convenience, no one notices, and Vinnie and an associate easily dispose of the body. Enter the authorities, who send an undercover man to solve the mystery, but whose genuine function only seems to be to contain the story within the confines of the film’s few crummy sets. Oddly, none of this will have any relevance to the outcome of the movie.

  To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/poverty-row/

 

 

Posted in Boston, crime, grindhouse, movie reviews, Movies, women, writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Chandler’s Trailers: “Four Dimensions of Greta” (1972)


fourdimensions2 “Four Dimensions of Greta” (1972)
Never at a loss for a gimmick to lure unsuspecting patrons to  fill seats, the 3-D craze arrived on the shores of England about two decades late with “Four Dimensions of Greta”, a film that despite its visual gimmickry still grovels in the same exploitation mire as every other film attached with the directorial stamp of Peter Walker. On assignment for a German magazine, horny young journalist Hans Wiemer (Tristan Rogers)  is sent to London for a penetrating investigation of that most critical of global crises: the au pair experience. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandlers-trailers-short-bits-for-emerging-cinephiles-and-a-better-america/

 

 

Posted in British films, crime, erotica, London, movie reviews, Movies, Mystery, Romance, sex, women | 3 Comments

A Not So Fine Madness: “A Reflection of Fear” (1972)


areflectionoffear1       “A Reflection of Fear”  (1972)

  Cinematographers who assume the director’s mantle often produce movies which heavily favor the visual rather than the contextually comprehensible, with the fledgling filmmaker often failing to make allowances for the fact that rarely can a film achieve itsareflectionoffearOS intended goals with an overreliance upon the pictorial to the exclusion of almost everything else (Jack Cardiff’s “Girl on a Motorcycle” is a case in point).

    In the case of William A Fraker’s “A Reflection of Fear”, the film was rumored to have had extensive post-production reworking and interference from the studio, though in those unfortunate cases there is generally a sense of diminution of the film’s intentions, whereas in Fraker’s film there is hardly a occasion where any two contiguous scenes offer a clue as to what the audience is expected to decipher from the plot which is a series of contradictory convolutions wrapped within tediously conventional psychological thriller genre tropes. 

    Marguerite (Sondra Locke) is a fifteen year old who has been raised in a completely reclusive environment with no friends and few personal connections outside of her strangely domineering mother, Katherine (Mary Ure) and grandmother, Julia (Signe Hasso). Her inflexibly restrictive and lonely existence, which seems to have promoted an extremeareflectionoffear5 form of delusional interaction with imaginary companions, is about to experience a serious disruption with the arrival of her father, Michael (Robert Shaw), who has been absent from her life for ten years. The purpose of Michael’s visit is to obtain a divorce from Katherine so that he might marry his girlfriend Anne (Sally Kellerman), though in their reconciliation, it is obvious to everyone that there is more than a healthy father-daughter attraction between Michael and Marguerite. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nights-at-the-laurel-drive-in/

 

 

Posted in books, Canada, movie reviews, Movies, Mystery, Reviews, women, writing | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Solo: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Jan. 2019 Edition, Vol. 1


passengers1Solo:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Jan. 2019 Edition, Vol. 1

    The act of being alone comes in many forms in the cinema, from a voluntary solitude to an imposed seclusion, with the reaction to such isolation ranging from moodiness to surrendering to the brink of madness. However, anyone who enjoys a long weekend in Boston with the streets magically cleared of a vast majority of the population-  giving the illusion that you havealonegif1 suddenly been blessed with insertion in one of those The Twilight Zone episodes in which the entire population has vanished without a trace, which seems like a bad idea on the program, but encountered in the real world gives one the warm sensation of having won the lottery without buying a ticket  -might think that the feelings of emotional devastation rendered on the Silver Screen are subject to a bit of overreach. Nevertheless, being cognizant that not everyone shares the extremities of antisocial attitudes of we here at CSR, there are many instances in the movies in which the act of being alone brings with it a meditative placidity that some might find comforting, but they’re probably anarchists anyway. And with this awkward (and probably morally inappropriate) segue we bring you yet another in a long line of editions of America’s favorite monthly brain stimulant, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by the street pushers of SKITTLES, America’s favorite legally addictive breakfast candy. In this edition we celebrate those films in which characters experience the extremes of solitude whether voluntarily, or more likely, through the cruel hands of fate. Your task, as always, is to identify each of the following twenty five movies and report your finding right back here for evaluation. The first to correctly identify all twenty five films will be the proud recipient of the CSR Culture Shock Award, the only cultural honorarium that can act as both an amenable companion and an emergency flotation device. Good luck.  

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Posted in biography, books, British films, Bruce Dern, comedy, History, movie remakes, Movies, science fiction, silent movies, Steve McQueen, women | 4 Comments

Chandler’s Trailers: “Invasion U.S.A.” (1952)


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“Invasion U.S.A.”  (1952)  If one can imagine a production of  “The Time of Your Life” reconstituted with “Fail-Safe”, you might get a pretty good idea of the awkward Cold War civics lesson that is “Invasion U.S.A.”, a collection of mismatched and inconsistent stock footage wrapped around a few dramatic scenes, including a few ridiculously low-tech scenes of Soviet officers (though never specifically identified as “the enemy”, it’s pretty obvious) standing in front of a chart, directing their entire global assault. The denizens of a Manhattan bar are engrossed in awkward and stilted dialogue meant to reveal the shared social indifference of stock movie characters (who cavalierly dismiss worrisome news broadcasts from the bar’s large flat screen TV, strangely ignorant of the fact that such an item was decades away from being available), when they are suddenly entranced (in more ways than one) by a pensive stranger named Mr. Ohmer  (the underrated Dan O’Herlihy) who seems fixated on swirling his extremely large brandy snifter. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandlers-trailers-short-bits-for-emerging-cinephiles-and-a-better-america/

Posted in Cold War, Drive-In Movies, movie reviews, Movies, politics, Reviews, Romance, war movies | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Overcooked: “Coma” (1978)


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           “Coma”  (1978)

     In his debut novel ‘Coma’, Robin Cook presented an unlikely set of circumstances concerning a vast criminal conspiracy within a fictitious Boston hospital, that stretched the very pretense of plausibility as the incidents of mayhem pile up far too rapidlycomaOS to not be noticed by anyone of responsible character or authority. The novel is one of those breathless thrillers that seem to exist outside of the constraints of reality (this is true of most contemporary action movies as well), so that the heroine-  in this case a beautiful (naturally) medical student named Susan Wheeler, whose nose for sniffing out mischief makes her the hospital rounds equivalent of Nancy Drew  -is able to demonstrate abilities enabling her to penetrate the labyrinth of a secretive operation that would baffle seasoned experts, though her alarmist proclivities never extend to thinking of picking up a telephone to the police even as the mysteriously undetected bodies begin piling up at an laughable rate.
 
    These types of thriller plots operate on what might be best described as the Blind World Principle, in which it is assumed that while the hero/heroine is possessed of the acumen of Sherlock Holmes, the remainder of the characters must be incognizant to anything that goes on about them. Many of these problems are initially addressed and seemingly corrected in Michael Crichton’s filmization, which for the first fifty minutes is an efficiently orchestrated piece of low-key storytelling, keenly reimagining the pulp elements of the novel into a more realistic framework; knowingly playing off of the audience’s inviolable sense of psychological foreboding toward the impersonal environs of a hospital which, ironically, is the arena dedicated to the most coma2personal of bodily intrusions. After such an auspicious first half in which the film is comfortably in the company of the best film procedurals (Bo Widerberg’s “Mannen på taket”, for example), Crichton unaccountably abandons the film’s unaffected verisimilitude (in which the resistance to sensational Hollywood melodrama is similar to that as seen in Alan J. Pakula’s fine thriller, equally imbued with a paranoiac core, “All the President’s Men”) is a case study in a director going spectacularly wrong when not trusting their creative instincts in favor of conceding to the tried and true, but generic, mechanics of constructing a movie thriller. 
 
To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nights-at-the-sack-cinemas/
 
 
Posted in books, Boston, medicine, Michael Crichton, Movies, Mystery, Richard Widmark, Romance, women, writing | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Ballot Stuffing: “Linda Lovelace for President” (1975)


lindapres7            “Linda Lovelace for President”  (1975)

    Chances are that if a movie announces upfront that it intends to offend every member of the audience, the results will be fairly pedestrian, as a truly provocative feature wouldlindapresOS let the material speak for itself. “Linda Lovelace for President” does manage to offend, but only in that ho-hum way of the truly awful. As a comedy, the film manages to be uniformly unfunny, certainly not a unique accomplishment what with dozens of competitive examples unleashed upon the public every year; though with its rapid fire Hellzapopin’– style of anything for a laugh jokiness, this film may qualify for some sort of quantitative honorarium for negative achievement simply the sheer number of witless swings and misses it mistakenly presents as humor.

    The film’s premise suggests that celebrity alone is enough to propel a person to the White House, and with that in mind, the early 70’s Porno Chic princess Linda Lovelace is offered the presidential nomination by a convention of what is meant to be a cross-section of America (including a Saudi prince, a Chinese Communist and a Nazi) and begins what might be referred to as a grass roots campaign to ascend to national office. The nature of Ms. Lovelace’s public reputation being entirely due to her sword swallowing abilities (her subsequent efforts to publicize herself as the incarnationlindapres3 of the Sexual Revolution’s Mother Courage would emerge five year later), one might suppose that the direction of the film would take would somehow put a comedic spin on how sex and politics make for strange (if not unfamiliar) bedfellows. However, the extremely scattershot nature of the film is a prolonged and agonizing stream of consciousness of aimless, tired crudity resulting in an experience that is the cinematic version of Tourette syndrome.

To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/remembrance-of-films-forgotten/

Posted in comedy, grindhouse, Linda Lovelace, movie reviews, Movies, politics, racism, Reviews, sex, women, writing | 4 Comments

Chandler’s Trailers: “Zeta One” (1969)


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“Zeta One”  (1969) Presumably intended as a spoof of spoofs of the Eurospy film, “Zeta One” is little more than a succession of baffling, tedious scenes whose only connection is the desire to undrape the dozens of shapely actresses who found their careers on a sufficient skid to sign up for this paltry British contribution to the sexploitation genre. Secret agent James Word (Robin Hawdon) relates the details of his latest mission with his bed partner Ann Olsen (Yutte Stensgaard), the secretary of his boss ‘W’, with whom he opens the film engaged in an interminable session of strip poker, which has nothing to do with the rest of the film except to set up the flashback structure which could have been accomplished without the needless twenty minute delay. The mission concerns the Angvians,  who area race of converted kidnapped Earth women (a process achieved by naked immersion is something resembling an immense lava lamp), led by Zeta (Dawn Addams), a creature of either extraterrestrial or interdimensional origin (the film is undecided as to such minor details).

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandlers-trailers-short-bits-for-emerging-cinephiles-and-a-better-america/

 

Posted in British films, Drive-In Movies, erotica, espionage, movie reviews, Movies, science fiction, sex, women | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Saving Santa: “The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t” (1966)


christmas7          “The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t”  (1966)e

    Hollywood (a popular cultural abstract which we use as a convenient shorthand to identify the purely commercial cinema regardless of geographical origin) may be manychristmasOS things, but a reputable harbinger of advancing an unpolluted celebration of Yuletide spiritual innocence is certainly not one of them.

    The characteristic common to virtually every Christmas film is the inevitable presence of a sneering blackguard of such a villainously contemptable disposition that they all but invite an eruptive hiss from the audience of such violently repulsed emotion that one would think William Castle had outfitted the theater with a hidden system of out of control compression air hoses.

    These seasonal ne’er-do-wells are tasked with the unenviable burden-   and thus providing the dramatic impetus of their films  -of proving that good will and glad tidings are the foolish consistencies that are the true hobgoblins of little minds.* How insupportable are these characters who balk at the very concept of Christmas (and by villainous extension, as shamelessly proffered in every one of these films, the happiness of children), regardless of whether that concept is of the traditionally ecclesiastical variety or of the contemporary sectarian one in which the prominent holy figure is that of the department mall St. Nick, the modern symbol of all that is great and good and charitable, yet has been adopted by the purveyors (most especially the media, and most especially the movies) of capitalism, who have effectivelychristmas1 converted Luke 2:11 into a mandate asserting that all modern forms of holiday cheer are based upon the fourth quarter retail sales figures (especially to all of those little elves at the annual Macy’s stockholders meeting).

    Supplanting these altruistic holiday impulses is the movies; a cultural enterprise in which the only consistent conscious artistic impulse is to open big in the lucrative Asian marketplace; hardly commensurate with that brief reminder of spiritual values laid out by Charles Schultz’ blanket wielding sage as to the true meaning of the holiday, when everyone in Hollywood knows that, indeed, out of the mouths of babes comes wisdom, but only if what comes out of their mouths is the a screaming demand for cheaply manufactured movie franchise tie-in merchandise.

  To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-film-vault-index-of-reviewed-films/ho-ho-ho-happy-holidays-from-the-critical-establishment/

    

 

 

Posted in books, children, children's books, Christmas, fantasy, holidays, Movies, Musicals, Santa Claus, writing | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Big Bang: “Krakatoa East of Java” (1969)

 

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TURN AROUND STUPID: Captain Hanson (Maximilian Schell) and his lover Laura (Diane Baker) gaze in awe at the obvious warning signs of impending disaster but, in the best Hollywood tradition of unexplainable behavior, continue to sail into the Valley of Death in Bernard L. Kowalski’s “Krakatoa East of Java”.

    “Krakatoa East of Java”  (1969)

    Seldom have adventure films sunk from their own surfeit of narrative ballast as dramatically as Bernard L. Kowalski’s “Krakatoa East of Java”, a film that juggles so many storylines- ensuring that none will see the light of full coherence  -that the eponymous volcano is relegatedkrakatoaOS to the lowly status of an afterthought until all hell necessarily breaks loose in the final reels.

    The film follows an event-filled voyage of the steamer Batavia Queen from its port located on the coast of West Java (the title of the film famously misdirects the location of Krakatoa in proximity to Java, yet this trivial amusement has little to do with evaluating the substance of the production) to offshore the volcanic Krakatoa, primarily in search of a sunken cache of pearls, but also to administer psychic healing to the more-than-slightly unhinged love interest of the ship’s Captain Chris Hanson  (Maximilian Schell), Laura Travis (Diane Baker). From such melodramatically eruptive personal relationships are born highly suspect, exotically located adventure films, especially when all of the purely soap opera elements are churning just out of reach of the destination volcanic island which is doing its best to discourage all interlopers with continuous warning signs of pending catastrophic volatility; warning signs that will be, needless to say, ignored due to the demands of the disaster film which regularly necessitates behavior so uncannily ill-considered that such persons would be declared mentally incompetent in a real-world court of law.

  To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/now-playing-at-the-mercado-cinema/

 

 

Posted in disaster films, History, movie reviews, Movies, Romance, women, writing | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Egypt, Unwrapped: “The Mummy” (1932)

 mummy82    “The Mummy”    (1932)

    The first of the major Universal sound horror films which relied upon the invention of screenwriters rather than a direct literary predecessor, Karl Freund’s “The Mummy” enjoys the luxury in the depiction of the title creature’s origin backstory and continued tale of menace without the critical distraction of source comparisons. That being said, itmummyOS is remarkable as to how many elements of the film seem vaguely familiar, as if directly lifted, by way of clever transposition, from previous successes, most prominently Tod Browning’s “Dracula”. That Freund, the earlier film’s cinematographer, is promoted to the director’s chair and actors David MannersEdward Van Sloane are prominently featured in both films,  certainly contributes to a certain air of déjà vu; but it is the presence of John Balderston which accounts for the prematurely formulaic sense of reincarnated genre tropes to which the film is attributable (he managed to make a  stuffy drawing room drama out of Stoker’s seminal novel, from which every incarnation  since has immeasurably suffered). 

    In 1921, a group of archeologists, including Sir Joseph Whemple (Arthur Byron) and an expert in occultism Dr. Muller (Edward Van Sloan) under the sponsorship of the British Museum, make some remarkable finds in an Egyptian dig (despite early exchanges in which characters  complain, with contradictory fervor, that their labors have yielded little of value!); a perfectly preserved mummy of the high priest Imhotep (Boris Karloff), and a mysterious chest whose contents are protected by a dire caution ofmummy6 death. As though he were unfamiliar with lesson to be learned from the tale of Pandora’s Box, Sir Joseph’s assistant, the foolhardy Ralph Norton (Bramwell Fletcher), reveals the contents of the casket (Just how would horror films thrive without the cooperation of rational people who recklessly run headfirst to their doom?), the Scroll of Thoth, imprinted with forbidden holy words of resurrection, the substance of which the film foolishly opens, making the text sound like a Pep Squad chant for ancient deities. The revived mummy, shocks the startled Norton into a paroxysm of insane laughter. from which he never recovers; though just how the shuffling Imhotep manages to elude both Sir Joseph and Dr. Muller, who are standing just outside the entrance to the chamber, is a mystery.

 To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/evenings-at-the-afi/

Posted in Boris Karloff, horror, horror films, Movies, Pre-Code Movies, religion, Romance, women, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Dear Cinema Santa: 2018 Edition

 

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You too would be exclaiming Gloria in excelsis deo if you found this sleepy little elf left under your Christmas tree.

       Dear Cinema Santa:  2018 Edition

    Once again dear friends (and you folks in Vermont) it is that time to weigh in on the past year’s accumulation of greedy impulses and dissatisfaction with the world of movies with our Dear Cinema Santa Wish List, an annual tradition here at CSR in which we ask for very little and expect to receive even less. 

Animated Gif Christmas (384)We are quite fed up with the Criterion Collection’s more recent lapses in judgment by ignoring truly interesting films and instead featuring the promotion of undeniable trash (“Valley of the Dolls”? Really?). So, here are a few titles that we are still asking for in case anyone is listening: Barbara Loden’s “Wanda”, Joseph Losey’s “The Go-Between”, Giuseppe Patroni Griffi’s “‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore”, Ken Russell’s “The Boy Friend”, Solanas and Getino’s “The Hour of the Furnaces”, Jean Eustache’s “The Mother and the Whore”, Bo Widerberg’s “Joe Hill” and “Man on the Roof”, Michael Ritchie’s “The Candidate” and perhaps Eclipse box sets featuring the films of Mai Zetterling and Susan Sontag.

Animated Gif Christmas (384)More movie theaters and fewer community performance centers. The trend toward non-profit groups buying out abandoned old movie theaters and restoring them is something that CSR can’t help but find commendable. However, instead of being used as a film venue as intended, most are converted into performance arts centers which, more often than not, play host to Mrs. Hastings’ 3rd grader production of “The Night of the Iguana”. At least the wrecking ball ends the suffering quickly.

Animated Gif Christmas (384)The end of useless, endless and needlessly expensive political campaigns. Instead, let all of the prospective candidates show their mettle by pursuing their office as the prize of a giant road race, with inauguration papers hidden under a “Big WH”. 

To read the complete wish list, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-film-vault-index-of-reviewed-films/ho-ho-ho-happy-holidays-from-the-critical-establishment/

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in art house cinema, blogging, Boston, Christmas, holidays, humor, Mai Zetterling., Movies, theater, vermont, women, writing | 5 Comments

Floating: “Zeppelin” (1971)


000000zeppelin6            “Zeppelin”  (1971)

    The staggering cost in human lives resulting from global conflicts is reemphasized in Etienne Perier’s World War I adventure “Zeppelin”, one of those myriad cinema fantasies in which the fate of the War, if not the world, is reliant on the quick thinking000000zeppelinOS and romantic attraction of a solitary intelligence agent, here played by an unlikely Michael York. Such a victory might also come with the participation other factors, such as armies, battle strategies and civilian sacrifice during the depletion of wartime resources; none of which seems to be a pertinent factor here, whereas the cut of Alexandra Stewart’s negligee seems of be of heretofore underappreciated vital national importance.

     York portrays Scotsman Geoffrey Richter-Douglas, a lieutenant in the British Army during World War I, who meets a beautiful woman at a party named Stephanie (Stewart), who just happens to be a German spy and with whom he falls in love. She attempts to convince him to desert and return to the bosom of the Germanic side of his family, a suggestion that is all too amenable to his superiors who wish the lieutenant to become a spy and use his family’s connections to somehow penetrate the obviously lax security of German military intelligence and gather valuable information on the LZ36, the newest version of their Zeppelin airship; an improved version of the one shown terrorizing London in the opening scenes. 

   Geoffrey’s defection is staged with a minimum of the theatricality for which British Intelligence has become famous in the movies (a bullet wound in the upper arm is deemed sufficient to grant him credibility) and before Roy Budd’s spirited escape music has a chance to subside from memory, Geoffrey is already safely embraced to the bosomzeppelin1 of German Intelligence (who have their own motives in activating Geoffrey’s desertion from England in the first place) and will have conveniently bumped into an old family friend, Professor Altshul (Marius Goring, in a performance packed with so much barely contained eccentricity, it makes you wonder why Michael Ripper wasn’t cast in the role), who, just as conveniently, happens to be the engineering genius behind the new LZ36. Possible complications arise with Geoffrey’s introduction to Altshul’s new young bride, Erika (Elke Sommer), a fellow engineer who immediately assumes Geoffrey is a spy (could it be the Scot-German’s clipped Oxford accent?), though she never acts on her suspicions.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nights-at-the-aspen-hill-cinema/

Posted in espionage, History, London, Michael York, Movies, Romance, war movies, women, writing | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Ups and Downs: “The Man Who Skied Down Everest” (1975)


manskied1      “The Man Who Skied Down Everest”  (1975)

    When George Mallory famously responded to the question as to why he wanted to climb Mount Everest with the seemingly flippant remark- “Because it’s there” -his briefmanskiedOS answer would prove to provide a succinct definition as to rationalizing the existential challenge to the modern adventurer. However, when the specific nature of said adventures fall into the category of  novelty rather than that of significance, then such a conquest of historic inconsequence calls for outside observers to apply the brakes of practical comparative criticism. Such a novelty challenge is not so much explored than merely recorded in the Bruce Crawley production of “The Man Who Skied Down Everest”, in what, in essence, is a testament to Man’s persistence in personal glory regardless of the sacrifice or expense to others.

   The film relates, in interestingly documented logistical and technical detail, the method by which hundreds of porters, Sherpas, technicians, journalists and fellow climbers journey from Katmandu to Mount Everest so that Japanese alpine skier Yûichirô Miura may try his hand at being the first man to every ski down the world’s highest peak. The film is narrated completely from the journal of Miura, his words given voice by Canadian actor Douglas Rain (familiar as the voice of HAL 9000 in “2001”), and since his perspective is the only directly articulated window we are given as to nature and purpose of the venture, we manwho2are beholden to his judgment in all matters except for one: what we see for ourselves in the remarkable captured footage, which often either contradicts or minimizes the often pie in the sky philosophical ramblings which fail to account for the reality of the hardships his singular quest for adventure is wreaking on his absurdly vast support team. Rather than a heroic figure, the spoken text reveals the skier to be something of a narcissistic, arrogant jerk, as well as a singularly unimaginative tour guide; espousing prosaic musings meant to memorialize his own status, yet never once do the thoughts of the man capture the poetry of aesthetic splendor in a single one of the wondrous images captured by the camera crew headed by director of photography Mitsuji Kanau.

To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nights-at-the-orson-welles-cinema/

 

Posted in art house cinema, biography, Documentaries, History, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Silent Revenge: “Oggi a me… domani a te!” (1968)


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“Oggi a me… domani a te!”  (1968)

    “Oggi a me… domani a te!”, a.k.a. “Today We Kill, Tomorrow We Die!”, is a not an untypical example of the spaghetti western genre (or the western, period) in that the plotoggiameOS is fueled by an obsessive hunger for revenge. However, rather than featuring a lone vengeance seeking individual, the method of exacting said retribution is given a novel twist with the incorporation of a small band of hired guns à la “The Magnificent Seven”, though here they might be more accurately described as “The Genre Type Five” , with the mercenary group featuring a gambler (William Berger), strongman (Bud Spencer, with an obviously fake beard), ex-lawman (Wayde Preston) and gunfighter (Franco Borelli, credited as Stanley Gordon), all lead by Kiowa (Brett Halsey, credited as Montgomery Ford), a mysterious man of few words who just happens to be wearing the exact outfit worn by Franco Nero’s iconic Django.

    The quintet is on the hunt for the machete wielding leader of a group of vicious Comancheros, Elfego (Japanese great Tatsuya Nakadai, slumming here), who is seen in a sepia toned flashback sequence (which makes the mise-en-scene look  even more impoverished than it already does) killing Kiowa’s wife and framing him for which he isoggi4 sent to prison, and thus providing the fuel for sour grapes that provides  the film its threadbare plot. At no time is it explained why  Elfego engages in such an act of betrayal as he and Kiowa appear to have been friends. (Are they? Who knows?) Nor are we privy as to how Kiowa- beyond the promise of ten thousand dollars each  – persuasively recruits his hired guns to ride with a stranger and face off against tremendous odds, when the motive is personal? Where are his persuasive arguments? And most importantly, when is the strategy revealed in defeating a small army of killers?

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/cinema-italiano/

 

Posted in Drive-In Movies, grindhouse, Italian cinema, movie reviews, Movies, Spaghetti Westerns, westerns, writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments