Paying for Time: “Agony of Love” (1966)

WHATEVER TURNS YOU ON: In response to the plea of housewife turned prostitute Barbara Thompson (Pat Barrington) to “Do it. Do it. Hurt Me. Dirty Me”, a rumpled client brings her to climax with the unlikely technique of appearing to fall asleep mid-coitus in William Rotsler’s “Agony of Love”.

          “Agony of Love”  (1966)

  Think “Klute” without the nonsense murder plot or “Belle de jour” without the surrealist subtext and both made without a hint of artistry and you will probably see much that is recognizable in William Rotsler’s “Agony of Love”, the portrait of a prostitute in crisis which is also the story of a housewife who is a prostitute in crisis.

    Stuck in a loveless marriage, Barbara Thompson (Pat Barrington) finds solace in keeping a separate apartment in which she becomes a growing concern in the sex trade, luring clients there for an afternoon of mattress frolics in exchange for a fistful of cash. But rather than acting as a remedy for her feelings of emotional alienation, her activities  result only in silly amateurishly filmed dream sequences and subsequent trips to the local psychiatrist whose manner of analysis suggests a surrender to professional mockery. Barbara’s therapy sessions provide sparse insight with a long, long road traveled to arrive at such revelations as she is searching for love (One can’t help but suspect a great deal of bill padding is afoot.) nor does the film provide satisfying dramatic closure (if that is what one seeks in such a picture) with a nasty concluding twist that is so predictable and telegraphed so far ahead that surely the only people in the theater surprised at the developments would be be the characters onscreen (though it does explain the unconventional but promising noirish opening sequence to which the film elliptically returns, but with diminished results).

To read the complete review, click the following link to:


Posted in erotica, grindhouse, Movies, psychiatry, sex, Sex in Cinema, women | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

What’s Love Got to Do With It?: “El gran amor del conde Drácula” (1973)


PROVING THERE ARE 1001 USES FOR A LETTER OPENER: Evidently saving his extended canines for more constructive uses, Dracula (Paul Naschy) nevertheless finds a way to extract a sample of the red stuff from the object of his desire (Haydee Politoff) in a bizarre and protracted series of rituals that provide the anticlimactic conclusion to “El gran amor del conde  Drácula” (“Count Dracula’s Great Love”).

        “El gran amor del conde Drácula” (1973)

    Popularly recognized by Euro Horror enthusiasts for his continuing role as lycanthrope Wademar Daninsky, Paul Naschy portrays an unexpectedly sentimental variation of cinema’s favorite vampire in “El gran amor del conde Drácula” (“Count Dracula’s Great Love”), a film which raises the bar for erotic content to a level that would cause the makers of Hammer Films’ bodice and bosom laden features blush in comparison and, significantly, is one of the rare films which delves deeply into the realm of lesbian vampirism without an appreciable claim to a conceptual influence markedly attributable to Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla. 

    A coach containing five travelers is disabled thereby necessitating their staying at the very abandoned sanitarium about which they had been discussing the ghoulish anecdotal history prior to their being cast afoot.. Occupied by a mysterious but kindly Dr.Wendell Marlow (Naschy) who just happens to have renovated a sufficient number of bed chambers to accommodate the stranded quintet, the travelers spend an inordinate amount of time in dreary small talk until the film relaxes into the vampiric domino principle which is its true destination. countdraculasgreatlove.jpg1.jpgif2The film is temporarily infused with a rush of energy as, with the exception of the virginal Karen (Haydee Politoff), the houseguests are summarily transmogrified into fanged nocturnal prowlers with the onset of a rash of exponentially increasing bloodletting.

    Up to this point Javier Aguirre’s direction has proven bloodless, both figuratively and literally, yet when the horror elements eventually kick in, he exhibits a perverse flair for stylish and sensual female-on-female vampire attacks; not the kind of thing that will significantly elevate a director’s status in the eyes of critics when one’s true calling seems limited to such a rarified specialty that may not be worth doing in the first place,  though it’s always preferable to see even the trivial executed with panache.

 To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in books, grindhouse, horror, Movies, Romance, Spanish films, vampires, women, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Performance Anxiety: “A Labor of Love” (1976)

BODY LANGUAGE IS EVERYTHING: Despite the announced explicit nature of the film within the film presented in Robert Flaxman and Daniel Goldman’s documentary “A Labor of Love”, the focus is not on the mechanics of sex but on the effect on those called to perform. 

        “A Labor of Love”  (1976)

     In the early 1970s, with the emergence of Porno Chic as a passport for the average moviegoer to casually experience that which heretofore had been the patron territory of the vaunted “raincoat crowd”, there was briefly an earnest question presented as to whether the “legitimate” commercial cinema might ever find occasion to meld with the newly prolific mirror industry whose efforts at dramatic replication were defined by thealaborofloveOS necessity of baring all and  Just how would “legitimate” thespians surrender to those performance demands consistent with those whose chosen trade is centered on sexual acts?

    Robert Flaxman and Daniel Goldman’s “A Labor of Love” is not an X-rated film per se, but a documentary about the making of one, or more exactly, the effort of a group of fledgling independent filmmakers in their efforts to produce one: “The Last Affair”, a low-budget independent which had the merciful virtue, by all evidence, of a rapid expiration date and path to instant obscurity save for any source of interest generated by this documentary.

    That in its conception “The Last Affair” was not planned as an “adult” feature, but rather as a prerequisite demand of its financial backers and that it was so easily adaptable into a porn film, should give some indication as to the pliably lurid nature of the material even at the incipient stage. Ostensibly a drama about alaboroflove77a woman desperate to have a child despite her husband’s sterility, the story of “The Last Affair” takes a bizarre turn when instead of consulting the normal courses of either adoption or third party reproduction, the wife employs the services of a house of male prostitution for the required zygotic progenitor. As it turns out, this decidedly uncommon approach to motherhood is directly the result of “Affair” director/writer Henri Charbakshi’s lifelong fascination with prostitutes; a creative fixation which will color his filmmaking effort with a discomforting air of depravity regardless of how many times a performer is prodded to work with the promise of the film they’re making is akin with the artistic traditions of Fellini, Bergman and Truffaut.

 To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in Documentaries, erotica, Film, movie reviews, Movies, photography, Porno Chic, Reviews, sex, Sex in Cinema, writing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Sometimes a Hero is Just a Sandwich: “Dick Barton, Special Agent” (1948)

“Dick Barton, Special Agent”  (1948)

    This first of three film productions attempting to replicate the zing of the popular Light BBC radio serial is more a product of creative corporate accounting than a legitimate attempt at producing a serviceable movie thriller, “Dick Barton, Special Agent” arrives on the big screen with a built-in popularity usually reserved for much more expensively sought literary bestsellers or hit theatrical properties. Produced quickly and cheaply, the film makes no pretense at artful or even minimal competency in the moviemaking process. Rather, the filmmakers seem entirely satisfied with aiming with what they obviously perceive as the less demanding tastes of juvenile matinee audiences and, indeed, the condescension shown toward their target demographic is appalling.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in British films, comedy, crime, espionage, germ warfare, Hammer films, movie reviews, Movies, Mystery | Tagged , | 2 Comments

25 Pictures in Search of a Theme: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Sept. 2019 Edition, Vol. 133524.48

DIG OUR NEW DIGS: A sneak peak of the new executive offices at Chandler Swain Reviews.

25 Pictures in Search of a  Theme: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Sept. 2019 Edition, Vol. 133524.48s

    Since the inception of Chandler Swain Reviews, we have engaged in the constant struggle between the search for Art and depth in the cinematic form (even in its most primitive permutations to which the critical elite have always ignored as unworthy of serious attention while ignoring the fact that it is impossible to understand the total cinematic form without examining the flawed with a fervor equal to that afforded the easily lauded) and the acknowledgement of cheap populist amusement to which the form has almost completely surrendered, at least on the domestic theatrical release battlefront in which the average 16 screen multiplex will be featuring two animated and three comic book releases on any given day, leaving just enough screen space for the weekly torture porn, sleazy teen comedy or instantly disposable remake, while the truly innovative and ambitious films still being made (especially in foreign markets) are consigned to extensive analysis in the few print film journals of worth but absent from any accessible theatrical venues. Which bring us (in a completely awkward and ill-conceived segue) to a memorial farewell in the continuing erosion of film as a public art form: the closing of Manhattan’s Paris Cinema, the last of the single screen venues in the city. And speaking of the cultural dumbing down of America, we now present this month’s edition of America’s most wisely ignored but persistently published game of cerebral flummery, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you this month, as always, by those fine smugglers of SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition we continue the tradition of this rambling introduction by desperately searching for a coalescing theme. The following twenty five images have been swept up off the floor during our recent office renovation, which seemed a convenient way to put together this month’s edition without too much honest effort. (Our headquarters may be refurbished, but our work ethic hasn’t improved a whit.) Your task is to identify the twenty five films represented, and to let us know the results.(Otherwise, you’re just talking to yourself and that’s just sad.) The first to do so will receive the spanking new CSR Culture Shock Award, an honor second only to being musically mentioned as a monstrously unworthy suitor by that most dreaded of ex-girlfriends: Taylor Swift. Good luck.



Posted in biography, books, Boston, Cecil B. DeMille, comedy, History, horror, Movies, Mystery, photography, Romance, women, writing | 1 Comment

Love in a Fog: “The Divorce of Lady X” (1938)

Is There A Chill In The Room Or Are You just Indifferent To See Me?: Despite starring in a film which assiduously follows tried and true formulas of the screwball comedy, Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier generate insufficient chemistry to enliven the mediocrity of material and execution that weighs down “The Divorce of Lady X”.

     “The Divorce of Lady X”  (1938)

    After a brief immersion in the London fog, the pastel carnival of colors assaulting the viewer’s eyes at the start of Ted Whelan’s “The Divorce of Lady X” is not unlike Dorothy’s later emergence from sepia toned Kansas to the hallucinogenic Munchkinland spectrum, except that in the case of this film the sudden visual onslaught actually distracts from thedivorceofladyxOS initial expository minutes and will prove an aesthetic weight from which the featherweight material of the comedy will prove insubstantial to justify.

    Nor is the success of the film assisted by that most curious of “Golden Age” cinema phenomena: the compromised attraction of the featured romantic coupling by far more interesting and accomplished supporting character actors; in this case, the charm deficient duo of self-assured socialite bulldozer Leslie Steele (Merle Oberon) and suitably flummoxed barrister Everard Logan (Laurence Olivier) is overshadowed by the delightful secondary (in credit ranking only) performances of Ralph Richardson,  Binnie Barnes,  Gertrude Musgrove and  Morton Selten.

    Stranded in a London hotel due to heavy fog, the patrons of a costume ball find themselves with a shortage of sleep worthy accommodations. After the aforementioned young barrister (Olivier) sternly refuses to surrender his spacious suite of rooms to a group of ladies, the aforementioned flighty socialite (Oberon) bullies her way into his bed and pajamas, all within the boundaries of good, chaste mischievousness, though both the mechanics of the plot and its execution are lacking both the sparkle of energy and invention to be found in the best screwball comedies.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in comedy, Laurence Olivier, London, movie remakes, Movies, music, Romance, theater, women, writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Death by Indifference: “Mr. Wong, Detective” (1938)

mrwongdetective5     “Mr. Wong, Detective”  (1938)

     The initial film incarnation of Hugh Wiley’s detective creation, first popularized in 1934 in Collier’s, “Mr. Wong Detective”, presents the stylish and erudite investigator in a mystery that is fairly unworthy of a master of deduction (sharp eyed viewers will solve the method of murder, if not the guilty party, fairly early in the story), though as a first chapter in what was intended as a continuous series of films featuring the title character, it does set up an amusing dynamic with Mr. Wong (Boris Karloff) effortlessly matching wits with his more acumen challenged compatriots on the police force, especially the easily excitable Captain Sam Street (Grant Withers). Street’s obvious overanxious recklessness to pin the blame on any convenient supporting player who happens to be in the room is the primary source of comic relief in an otherwise straightforward story of a mysterious chemical formula whose very existence leads to a series of unexplained deaths. Needless to say, the film easily falls prey to the contradictory but familiar trap recognizable in an astonishing number of mysteries, wherein despite the presence of a master sleuth, they are powerless to stop the bodies from piling to the ceiling. By the end of “Mr. Wong, Detective”, the solution of the killer’s rather ingeniously disguised identity is far less impressive when, in the interim, most of the likely suspects have themselves been fatally dispatched.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:



Posted in books, Boris Karloff, crime, movie reviews, Movies, Mystery, short stories, writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Conduct Unbecoming: “The Night of the Generals” (1967)


WHO LET THE BRITS OUT?: Despite his witty, energetic performance, the casting of Omar Sharif as a prominent German officer has often been criticized for a lack of authenticity, yet the predominance of British gentlemen and ladies filling the ranks of the Reich is accepted as casually as when they are just as frequently cast as equally despotic figures of a comparable period of civilized barbarism: the Roman Empire. Is there something in British classical theatrical training which suggests their artists are ideally suited to represent ignoble patrician authority regardless of national origin? Certainly the unmistakable Irish lilt of a Peter O’Toole is a greater burden to Aryan credibility than Sharif’s exotic ethnicity?

       “The Night of the Generals”   (1967)

    The makers of any film based on Hans Hellmut Kirst’s 1962 novel The Night of the Generals face a formidable task in that the author indulges in an sizeable amount of strategically inserted future declarations of inculpatorynightofthegeneralsOS evidence; time jumps which needlessly strain a concision of exposition already burdened with a fractured tandem narrative. Confounding a linear  recounting of events, these interruptions, not only impart information which proves irrelevant to the resolution of the film’s central mystery but also induce the grinding fatigue of redundancy in that these expositional asides merely redress what has been or will be doggedly dramatized at an already excessive length.

    Unwisely, while not profoundly tinkering with the novel’s initially awkward modus operendi, the filmmakers have injudiciously abbreviated the narrative threads bearing the weight of the historical event which which provides both versions of the material their title. Additionally, while preserving the most trivial of evidentiary insertions, the absence of the most important of the novelistic devices-  a thematically encapsulating epilogue encompassing a philosophical polemic  -extinguishes the very point of the film’s fidelity to Kirst’s dual narrative, rendering the entire story meaningless.

    In his kaleidoscopic storyline, Kirst introduces an almost Tolstoyan density of characters assembled over two decades in several major locales, with the primary focus split between the June 20, 1944 plot to kill Adolf Hitler and the investigation of a series brutal wartime sex crimes in which prostitutes are savagely stabbed with particular attention given by the killer in mutilating the victim’s genitalia. Given the lurid nature of the crimes and the inherent decadent nature of one particular character, the novel never submits to easy prurience, and the film, to its credit, happily honors this reticence toward the gratuitous.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in books, crime, History, movie reviews, Movies, Mystery, Peter O'Toole, World War II, writing | Tagged | 1 Comment

Firearms For Fun and Profit: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Aug. 2019 Edition, Vol. .38 Caliber

00000firearmsFirearms for Fun and Profit:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Aug. 2019 Edition, Vol. .38 Caliber

    Let us consider, for a moment,  the strained logic inherent in the Constitutional inalienable right to be contrary, hypocritical and downright stupid in certain assertions of what defines responsible conduct (not to mention what you can get away with with the backing of several managers, press agents, paid lackeys and a studio more concerned with award season statues than legal statutes) in regards to the proper function, intentions and usage of firearms by private citizens as prescribed in the 2nd Amendment (heretofore referenced as the 2nd Suggestion) as depicted by that most public exemplar of ludicrous misconduct-  the pacifist Hollywood film industry  -who best demonstrate their persistence of gratuitous moral hypocrisy by prolifically producing cinema efforts aligned with that which is unquestionably their favorite genre form: How to Kill Your Fellow Man (or, to comply with local Oregonian pronoun ordinances: How to Kill Compatible Carbon-Based Life Forms). And with that introductory contempt we bring you yet another episode of America’s most misunderstood regularly scheduled source of harmful but effervescent propaganda, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you during this and every other lunar phase by those wonderful folks who distribute SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy and most frequent substitute for American produced contraceptive pills exported over the Canadian border. In this edition we celebrate the unspoken but obvious secret fraternity between a publicly Guns & Ammo critical motion picture industry and their most advantaged recipient of what can only be described as fortuitous ancillary advertisement: the NRA (though not inclusive of former spokesperson Dana Loesch who lost considerable credibility when she began a campaign to force-feed America a steady diet freeze dried beet crystals). Each of the following twenty five images depicts Hollywood’s vision of civil society, pump action-style. Your task is to identify all twenty five images (correctly would be preferable) and let us know the results. (Otherwise, it’s a fruitless enterprise and will only lead to frustration and eventual insanity.) The first to correctly identify all twenty five images will receive the much discussed but banned in thirty two countries CSR Culture Shock Award. Good luck.


Posted in biography, books, Drive-In Movies, film noir, grindhouse, History, Movies, Musicals, Mystery, photography, westerns, women | 1 Comment

No Smoking in Bed: “Fuego” (1969)

IF YOU NEED SOME EXERCISE, MAY WE SUGGEST JUMPING JACKS?: Isabel Sarli portrays an insatiable sex addict in “Fuego”, a film that fails to stretch the Argentine sex symbol’s acting chops, as she seems to always play, alternately, either a nymphomaniac or a nymphomaniac prostitute.

      “Fuego”  (1969)  

     One may accuse the cinematic works of Argentine actor-director Armando Bo of many things, but subtlety is not probable to be high on the list of likely suspects. In the initial clumsily executed moments of “Fuego” we are introduced to the main characters via a casual case of exhibitionism, an amused example of ungentlemanly voyeurism and  a dash of furtive and hostile glances from a housekeeper suspiciously protective of her mistress for reasons obviously more personal than a mere devotion to domestic  professionalism. It is readily apparent from this blunt tableaux that whatever follows is intended as a hothouse of unrestrained hormonal exertions punctuated by as much exposure as possible of star Isabel Sarli’s already well-traveled flesh. To admit in any way that the film succeeds in its primitive intentions is to acknowledge that the purveyors of 42nd Street grindhouse bump and grind have been met in tepid global partnership with a bar that is set to such a depressingly low level of aesthetic competence that makes the output of Michael Findlay seem artistically composed by comparison.

    Sarli plays Laura, an overripe seductress whose atrocious fashion sense is boldly accented by the excessive eye make-up and towering hairstyles from later career Elizabeth Taylor embarrassments, and who, by convenient happenstance, suffers from the most childish exhibitions of public nymphomania one is likely to encounter in the adult cinema. (Her favored self-stimulative move involves rubbing her cheek against a lifted shoulder, resulting in an intensity of erogenous gratification so exaggerated one wonders what orgasmic ignition might result from slinging a purse over her shoulder?)

To read the complete review, click the following link to:     




Posted in erotica, grindhouse, Movies, music, Reviews, Romance, women, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Good Clean Fun: “Girls, Girls, Girls!” (1961)

GIRL POWER: In a surprising eleventh hour twist, three young beauties dare suggest that career success is entirely complementary with corresponding romantic attachment in Michael Winner’s unexpectedly breezy short subject “Girls, Girls, Girls!”.

       “Girls, Girls, Girls!”  (1961)

    “Girls, Girls, Girls!” (not to be confused with the next year’s Elvis Presley feature with the same title) announces itself with a sexy and stylish Pop Art title sequence suggestive of a rather saucy romantic romp, when in fact the film is a chaste but charming bit of fluff masquerading as a brief documentary recording the exploits of three young beauties and the remarkable ease with which they aspire to and attain career success in London. Their story, rather than being told with the institutional civil service gravitas commonplace in many “socially significant” instructional shorts of the 1950’s (films often leaden with a fidgety cautionary earnestness that renders the material, no matter how innocuous the subject, unintentionally comic), transpires with a breezy tone similar to that which one might associate with a Sandra Dee romantic comedy. This lighthearted, yet surprisingly informative (a great deal of information is imparted about such topics as photographic composition and lighting as well as creative cosmetic application) short might be deemed dismissively trivial save for early and interesting participatory credentials by an unlikely source of innocent amusement, writer-director Michael Winner, and future Bond Girl Tania Mallet.  

To read the complete review, click the following link to:


Posted in British films, Documentaries, Helen Mirren, London, photography, short films, women | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Reserved Seating: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, July 2019 Edition, Vol. A7

Reserved Seating:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, July 2019 Edition, Vol. A7

    Movies are a funny business (Unless the studios are attempting a comedy, in which case Hollywood can be the most depressing place on Earth.) and the psychology of the American film industry has become rife with a wholly unhealthy self-delusion of its own permanence of stature in the Pantheon of Cultural Immortals. This is openly expressed in terms of an increasingly arrogant condescension with which the industry has reduced the (naturally, unwashed) public to mere convenient statistical figures predicting opening weekend box-office returns and, more importantly (to the health and well-being of Art), any related adjustments to their conglomerated corporate benefit bonus packages. The unspoken covenant by which Hollywood operated at the behest of its patron public was simplicity itself: provide solid, nurturing entertainment and they will come. However, it has become increasingly apparent that even fleeting thoughts of the need for genuine creative storytelling (or, as it is more explicitly identified in studio pre-production development memorandum: any screenplay draft preceding the double digit phase) are no no longer bound by such an archaic term as “literacy” in a world clearly (according to Tinseltown elites) populated by the genetic brethren of the Morlocks; an unsavory global mob, one step removed as the prime ingredient of Soylent Green. If coherence in storytelling has been expeditiously dismissed as a needless expenditure of billable conference hours in the process of separating the Ma and Pa Kettles populating the vast wasteland outside of the gated communities of the sound stage oligarchs from whatever dollars remain after their desperate binges into a seductive world of celebrity sponsored faux luxury (in which a Beverly Hills carny like Alyssa Milano is able to peddle a football jersey as a legitimate entry gate into a bizarro universe’s conception of haute couture, which explains only her unmerited  talentless ascendancy and not her continued political vacuity), then what emerged as the most important cultural Art form of the past century is summarily reduced to a high-concept Board of Directors version of Three-card Monte. All of which which brings us to this month’s version of America’s most reliable Intolerant Voice Against Illiteracy Tolerance, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by the makers of SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition, we celebrate the audience. (Or, what the movie industry refers to as “marks”.) The following twenty five images each depict persons in the act of observing in that most curious of occupations that is usually described by theologians and practitioners of theoretical physics alike as being a member of the audience collective. You task is a simple one in theory, though in actual practice is probably as frustrating as  finding an all-you-can-eat buffet in North Korea: identify all twenty five films. Correctly. (Identifying all as being from “Caddyshack” may bring a sense of completion, but there are no participation ribbons awarded here, Chester.) The first to do so will receive the coveted (and slightly naughty) CSR Culture Shock Award. Good luck.


Posted in books, Boston, comedy, Drive-In Movies, History, Movies, Mystery, photography, politics, silent movies, Television, theater, women, writing | 3 Comments

Touch and Go: “He & She” (1970)

       “He & She”  (1970)

     Matt Cimber’s “He & She” is one of those cannily marketed pseudo-explicit features which skated by the diligently suspicious antennae of community standards by masquerading its exploitative intentions as an educationally enlightening seminar in “marital” heandshePOSlovemaking. (It was an attempt which fooled no one-  despite the rather absurd quotations from Dr. David Reuben and Ovid   -but it was rather quaint for them to give it a good old entrepreneurial try.) An unofficial follow-up to Cimber’s earlier “Man & Wife: An Educational Film For Married Adults”,  the film celebrates an asserted relaxing of taboos while disseminating the forbidden knowledge it so mock defiantly announces as essential to good societal health while simultaneously (and with more than a trace of ironic contradiction) informing the audience that such knowledge is only meant for consenting married couples. Clearly such noble intentions serve to give insufficient warning to those presumed clean living suburban couples who suddenly find themselves in the bowels of the urban grindhouse, to beware the man in the raincoat sitting behind them whose intentions are probably far less domestically altruistic.

    The film begins with an endless explanatory crawl which professes the film’s  intentions with the dedicated piety of a holy mission statement, followed by an indescribably arid lecture delivered by an unidentified man posing as a pompous academic (you know he’s to be taken seriously in the way he waves about his pipe) whose entireheandshegif2 spiel is latent with such confused and fraudulent information that, by comparison, makes the typical Ed Wood narration sound like a Nobel Prize acceptance speech. While this dusty codger wearily pontificates as much misinformation about sex as possible (The opening crawl has already defined foreplay as all sexual activity prior to orgasm.), he confidently asserts that “the imperatives of history now demand that the printed marriage manual of the past, helpful though they might have been, yield today to the motion picture marriage manual”, a declaration which just happens to benefit this film in particular with its suggestion of a built-in responsible and necessary societal benefit to the graphic depictions of hanky panky which comprise the greater bulk of the film.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in erotica, grindhouse, movie reviews, Movies, Romance, sex, women, writing | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Saturday in the Park: “The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film” (1959)

runningjumping1    “The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film” (1959)

    Seldom does an inaugural short effort display as assiduously prescient a blueprint of the emergent talent of a major artist as does the Richard Lester-directed  “The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film” (That is if indeed Lester can be reliably regarded as a major artist.), a brief but potent bit of surrealist whimsy that bridges the evolutionary gap between the radio antics of The Goon Show and the television (and later film incarnations) of the Monty Python troupe. However, it is in the early announcement of what will become the repetitive thematic imperatives which define the artistic voice in the Lester filmography that the film merits continued fascination and amusement.

    Shot on the quick in a public park on two weekend afternoons, from the outset, the film appears randomly incidental and without comprehensive purpose, yet is a cleverly surreal observational spoofing of the British fondness for leisure activity. Eschewing the traditional form of linear sketch comedy, “The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film” is comprised of a series of disconnected persons each engaged in errands of immediately uncomplimentary purpose, yet the structure of the film is such that there is created an elliptical overlap which although each activity is independent of the others,  frustrates the completion of each individual task. The nature of the comedy is engagingly absurdist in nature; with simple tasks made wholly improbable by a minute twist of logic: a charwoman scrubbing a grassy field; a violinist using a telescope to read the sheet music and then traveling by bicycle to turn the page; a portraitist whose subject’s face is helpfully mapped with a paint-by-numbers schematic.

  To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in British films, comedy, movie sequels, Movies, Peter Sellers, Reviews, Richard Lester, short films, Spike Milligan, writing | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Bad Habits: “Change of Habit” (1969)

changeofhabit1       “CHANGE OF HABIT”     (1969)

     One of the disillusioning truths of the American film industry is its cavalier willingness to disregard genuine and unique talent in favor of convenient formulaic utilitarianism; a primary example being the rather woeful filmography of Elvis Presley,change_of_habit which reflects a distinctly consistent and painful misunderstanding of the performer’s stimulative appeal. If one’s intention is a continuous process of neutering the elemental characteristics of the performer’s persona which attracted the audience in the first place and shook the censorial establishment of the entertainment executive suite to its core, that personality then becomes subject to a plasticizing transformation, homogeneous to the widest demographic as seen through the calculating lens of Hollywood bean counters, but offers little substantive value to an audience hungry for a germ of rebelliousness. Upon making his debut on television’s “Ed Sullivan Show”, Elvis was filmed from that waist up, so that his gyrating pelvis would not inflame the hormonal balance of America’s youth as feared by the network censors and the watchdogs of decency (why have someone deemed indecent on the air in the first place?), and it is evident from the long, undistinguished roster of films featuring this prodigious but constricted star, that virtually all of his films have metaphorically shot him from the neck up. Who wants a “safe” Elvis?

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in Elvis Presley, Film Reviews, movie reviews, Movies, religion, Reviews, women, writing | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Silence for Dummies: “Silent Movie” (1976)

       “Silent Movie” (1976)

    Mel Brooks’ misplaced ascension as one of the giants of film comedy is brazenly exampled in this woefully constructed comedy of conceptual errors in which the brave artistic instincts of the director-writer-actor is accredited with a boldness of vision in summoning yet another movie parody after the  phenomenal box-office success of ” Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein”. In Hollywood, nothing proffers an excuse to grant a rapid rise to the pantheon of industry adulation like a keen eye on past successes and the balance sheet.

    Alcoholic has-been movie director Mel Funn (Mel Brooks) attempts to persuade the Big Studio Pictures’ Big Studio Chief (Sid Caesar) to produce his latest project: a silent movie. (The novelty of “Silent Movie” being that it is also  presented as a narrative told through intertitle cards.) Despite his initial hesitancy, the studio chief green lights the project, unleashing Funn and his sidekicks, Marty Eggs (Marty Feldman), Dom Bell (Dom DeLuise), on an unsuspecting Hollywood to attract big star talent to assure the project’s box-office success (a formula only Hollywood insiders irreversibly removed from reality would believe the popular audience is foolhardy enough to fall prey); all of whom enthusiastically agree to participate despite the cloddish behavior distinguishing Funn’s entreaties, and the fact that not one actor is given a clue as to the nature of the project. This prolonged casting of actors is laborious and without any comedic payoff; an exercise in wilting expectations, especially when not one of the “stars” commands a demonstrable talent for the type of physical eloquence required of a silent movie performer. Consuming the bulk of the film’s running time, this needlessly extended star search is merely a strange form of incestuous industry valentine in which the antiquated Hollywood notions of blind public adulation of movie celebrity is enough justification to excuse a series of blatant extended cameos in which the featured actors (Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Paul Newman, Liza Minnelli, Anne Bancroft) play themselves and are meant to be admired, not for any accomplishment within the context of the film, but simply for being movie stars.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in comedy, Movies, music, Paul Newman, silent movies, writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Variety is the Spice of Life: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, June 2019 Edition, Vol. 57

Variety is the Spice of Life: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, June 2019 Edition, Vol. 57

    In keeping with the CSR tradition of taking an entire month to upgrade, update and perform a much needed Spring Cleaning on the site, regular readers may note with puzzlement that nothing has much changed since we have last published. Honestly, this is due to the fact that we’ve spent most of our off-time implementing a long gestating political plot (known in MI5 circles as “Codename: Ollie”) to harass certain disappointing global players through the surreptitious ordering of excessive amounts of pizza for the Breckland district and billing all deliveries to Number 10. (The history books, John Cleese and the stockholders at Domino’s Pizza, Inc. will thank us.) And with that in mind, we present this month’s edition of the EU’s favorite Brexit Party favor, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you this month by the distributors of SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy, and by Typhoo, the preferred beverage of Parliamentary twits. In this edition, we celebrate the annual emptying of the archival dustbins with the presentation of a few pictorial odds and ends, meaninglessly strung together in an attempt to advance the illusion that we care about this silly diversion anymore. The following twenty five images reflect a selection of films that we find moderately interesting enough to include in this puzzle. Your task is to identify all twenty five films. No hints. No clues. The first to do so will be granted first rights of refusal to ownership of that most coveted of limited edition fireplace mantel knick knacks, the CSR Culture Shock Award. Good luck.

01)02)03)04)05)06)07)08)09)10)11)12)13)14)15)16)17)18)19) 20)21)22)23)24)25)

Posted in biography, books, comedy, History, horror, movie reviews, Movies, photography, Romance, sex, theater, women, writing | 8 Comments

Chandler’s Trailers: “Foreplay” (1975)

“Foreplay”  (1975) Considering the drastic flux occurring in the American cinema commensurate with both the so-called Sexual Revolution (which with the concurrent rise of the radical Women’s Lib movement made for some interesting paralyzing debates between the assertion of sexual freedom and the cultural application of said freedom as being a tool of my misogynistic institutional objectification) and the rapid emergence of its filmic black sheep progeny, “Porno Chic”, Hollywood filmmakers predictably but frustratingly tread lightly in the artistic water where a meaningful (or truly erotic) expression of human sexuality might emerge within the context of a dramatic (or even comedic) presentation. Faced with an industry of filmmakers (inclusive of the so-called American New Wave writers and directors, who would presumably not be subject to to any knee jerk trepidation born of sanitized career creativity under the Production Code) studied in the mentality of the subject of sex as something forbidden and morally aberrant, sexuality in the modern America cinema found representation as either gratuitous peek-a-boo exposures, or in exercises of tittering vulgarity. Curiously, these same cheaply exploitative and sexually  immature traits were the bread and butter of the sexploitation films of from the emergence of the nudie cutie to the presumed softcore precipice signaled by the rise of “Porno Chic”. These same depressing tendencies are prominently at work in the 1975 comedy “Foreplay”, a tripartite collection of sexually tinted humorous shorts intended to pronounce to the world that the dirty joke may no longer dead, but nevertheless is in desperate need of a mercy killing.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:


Posted in comedy, erotica, movie reviews, Movies, Porno Chic, sex, writing | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Chandler’s Trailers: “Keeping Up With the Joneses” (2016)


keepingup3“Keeping Up With the Joneses” (2016) A comedy which intermingles the movie-fed image of spies (i.e., those who carry on covert operations which seem to bring the greatest attention to themselves) with a Hollywood humorist’s vision of suburban America, “Keeping Up With the Joneses” is a film that doesn’t aim very high yet manages to waste every opportunity to achieve even the slight amusements that are its goal. From the first, the focal married suburban couple, Jeff and Karen Gaffney, are conceived as two nitwits perpetually in the midst of life as sketch comedy since their every interaction, no matter how private, seems intended to be played for the delivery of one-liners and tired slapstick. Unfortunately, as played by Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher, their characters begins at an almost  hysterically fumbling pitch (at no time do the pair ever resemble anything but two overwrought comic actors) and have nowhere to go except to a more elevated level of the obnoxious.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:


Posted in comedy, espionage, Movies, Reviews, Romance, women, writing | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Stars Behind Bars: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, May 2019 Edition, Vol. 10 – 20

aaabarsStars Behind Bars: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, May 2019 Edition, Vol. 10 – 20

With the recent collegiate scandal involving several prominent Hollywood actresses doing their thespian best to convince a disgusted populace that their attempts to inflict their less than stellar progeny onto an unsuspecting graduating class of (as seen through Celebr-o-vision) garden variety commoners who just happened to actually apply themselves to the task of educational advancement was actually an act of academic altruism, it has become apparent that instead of enduring yet another installment of the favored perennial exercise in prevarication by the Democrat ruling class, which promises a mass Exodus to the hinterlands of the Marshmallow Fluff of the League of Nations- O Canada  -yet never delivers the promised change of address notifications, that they might instead seize upon a fortuitous opportunity and choose to contribute in Making America Less Grating Again by mimicking  the example of the unfortunate House of Laughlin by traveling the express exit from polite society and booking an extended stay in the Big House, which would not only separate the cultural snowflakes from imposing their lunatic ideals on a genuine working class from five to life (though the latest Sanders delusion, born-  no doubt  -of an excess of Vermont cheese, would still afford them the opportunity to write in their favored ethnocentric Maoist even in the comfort of solitary confinement) and thus save the rest of us from having to endure one more electoral season of their interminable irrational clucking? And with that extended introduction, we present yet another version of America’s most trusted model for anti-immigration legislation, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you by those wonderful border smugglers of SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition, we glory in the very thought of as many Hollywood denizens finding citizenship in a cell block, and feature the many films in which a character is depicted as enjoying such residency. Your task is to observe the following twenty five images and identifying from which films they were sourced. The first to correctly identify all of the images will receive bail in the form of the coveted CSR Culture Shock Award; better than a Presidential Pardon and enjoyable without the danger of itching or unpleasant facial eruptions. Good luck.


Posted in biography, books, British films, comedy, crime, Drive-In Movies, education, History, Movies, Mystery, westerns, women, writing | 4 Comments

By the Colouring Book: “Die, Monster, Die!” (1965)


            “Die, Monster, Die” (1965)

    The literary reputation of H.P. Lovecraft receives a glancing body blow with “Die, Monster, Die!”, an extremely casual adaptation of his celebrated short story The ColourdiemonsterdieHS Out of Space; a film which seems to have far more in common with the with the Edgar Allan Poe adaptations (themselves only mere suggestive shells of the original tales) of Roger Corman in which an outsider’s presence becomes an unwitting catalyst in the unraveling of dangerous familial dynamics attributable to illness, tragedy and a particularly alarming genetic disposition toward madness. This is, perhaps, a foreseeable source of influence since the first-time director Daniel Haller had recently worked on no less than five of the Poe/Corman films  (including “The Haunted Palace” which, although attributed to Poe, actually had its basis in another Lovecraft story, The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward) in the capacity of art director or production designer.

    But in the indulgent use of such well traveled narrative tropes which have little to do with the source material, director Haller and screenwriter Jerry Sohl mistakenly embrace a staid familiarity; a decision which comes at the expense of ultimately abandoning one of the most notable achievements of Lovecraft’s tale: the conception of an entirely unorthodox alien presence, which here is abandoned for a far more conventional source of menace. In fact, there are attempts to obscure such conventionality late in the film with a out of left field suggestion that much of what is occurring is nonsensically connected to a grandfather’s occult attempts to contact mysterious beings, which is in itself suggestive Lovecraft’s  entirely unrelated Cthulhu Mythos. However, this is merely evidence of a desperate attempt to obscure the fact that the filmmakers, despite their labored attempts to create an air of  unspeakable horror, are merely distracting from the film’s trading in that hoariest of  post-1950 genre tropes: radiation mutation.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:


Posted in books, Boris Karloff, Drive-In Movies, H.P. Lovecraft, horror, Movies, Roger Corman, science fiction, short stories, writing | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Labor Party: “The Mole People” (1956)

         “The Mole People”  (1956)

  It’s a curious phenomenon when a cultural industry ignores a particularly prickly subject which merits serious dramatic representation simply through moral cowardice or, more disgracefully, through financial considerations which take into account certain regional markets which might boycott such historical illumination as a slap in the face to still existent Jim Crow lifestyles. The Hollywood industry, once self-ruled by the complex set of regulations barring all that were deemed transgressive breaches of moral behavior, nevertheless cast a blind eye to those darker corners of human nature which institutionally promoted racism. Thus, in such a corrupted atmosphere of righteousness did flower a fairly consistent portrait of  citizens of color depicted as little more than domesticated servants or foolish caricatures and as such the source of undignified humor. If black indignity (not to mention rage) was suspiciously absent from the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood, so too were unflinching and unromanticized depictions of American slavery; with existent portraits of suffering usually relegated to the more individual circumstances of indentured servitude (generally a healthily buxom maiden in historical adventures or melodramas) or, especially, as a figure of empirical oppression in biblical epics; whose distant timeframe did much to obscure any inconvenient kinship to more historically adjacent examples of comparative offences. Then there are the most curious instances of allegorical representation…

    Beginning with a rather unconvincing lecture espousing the hollow sphere theory by Dr. Frank C. Baxter, the 50’s favored expert on scientific subjects which are outside of his chosen field of expertise (he was a professor of English), Virgil Vogel’s “The Mole People” is granted an air of arch self-importance which may have been thought to grant the particularly preposterous scenario a certain level of intellectual respectability, though the film has as much relevance to the opening academic salvo as a documentary on coal mining. Subterranean considerations aside, “the Mole People” is ponderous even when the story suggests far more incident than is actually occurring. One reason for this may be the sheer abundance of scenes in which characters do little but skulk through  unlit tunnels in fruitless exercises in tail-chasing; that is when they are not surrounded by the grandeur of some of the most obvious matte paintings in memory. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:


Posted in Drive-In Movies, horror, John Agar, movie reviews, Movies, religion, Romance, women, writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Farm Hands: “Jennie, Wife/Child” (1968)

jennie1      “Jennie, Wife/Child”   (1968)

    For the advanced connoisseur of sexploitation sleaze, “Jennie, Wife/Child” is bound to disappoint. But for those trulyjenniewifechildos interested in the cinema in all of its permutations, and the small, unexpected demonstrations of unheralded accomplishment in the most unlikely of vehicles, there is much to consider, even admire, in this umpteenth telling of the jealous farmer and his sexy but unhappy (not to mention unsatisfied) young trophy bride.

    The subject of endless derisive dirty jokes, the curmudgeon farmer as cuckold (or outraged parent of a violated tease in the farmer’s daughter variations) is here represented by Albert Peckingpaw (Jack Lester), whose miserly ways has created a frisson in his May -December marriage to twenty four year old Jennie (Beverly Lunsford) who, realistically, is a bit long in the tooth to be continuously referenced as a child bride. Finding little romantic sustenance in Albert’s refusal to buy her pretty baubles, Jennie seeks comfort in the person of their farm hand Mario (Jim Reader), a Jethro Bodine wannabe who, as prescribed by the rules of Hollywood stereotyping in the depiction of rural laborers, is as dumb as a bale of hay. Mario spends his leisure time becoming inebriated by swigging on liquor bottles which are obviously empty, while Jennie orbits about the barnyard dullard, with her dreams of erotic rewards sparked by the fact that Mario is often shirtless and sweaty despite the fact that he rarely engages in labor more strenuous  than trying to remember which chores to do. Peckingpaw catches his wife in flagrante delicto merely by hearing her giggle (the film is surprisingly chaste), a demonstration of far more active imagination than the farmer has previously exercised. Naturally, being the product of heated melodrama, Peckingpaw reacts not with reason or self-reflection, but with the planning of a murderous revenge.

 To read the complete review, click the following link to:




Posted in Drive-In Movies, grindhouse, movie reviews, Movies, music, Reviews, Romance, women, writing | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Splits: “The Cheerleaders” (1973)



ARE YOU HELPING WITH MY GOLF SWING OR ARE YOU JUST HAPPY TO SEE ME?: Getting your stroke right is all a matter of practice as amply demonstrated in Paul Glickler’s hard-hitting exploration of modern mores, radical feminist empowerment and the missionary position, “The Cheerleaders”.

       “The Cheerleaders”     (1973)

    With “The Cheerleaders”, director Paul Glickler answers the musical question: just what goes on in the heads of America’s annoying sideline0000cheerleadersOS screamers? If his film is any accurate indication, the answer is simple: very little thought as all roads appear to lead to the nether regions. The film follows the peculiarly successful season of the Amarosa High School football team-  peculiar as they have been colossal duds until a recent string of victories against superior teams  -and the particular circumstances involved in this mysterious turn of events. Being that this is a Jerry Gross presentation rather than one by Walt Disney, what are the odds that this mystery may find a solution not with Flubber but with rubbers?

      By turning his high school cheerleading squad into an uncontrolled group of insatiable succubi, the Glickler film reverses the popular role of horny male adolescents in their search for carnal nirvana, though “The Cheerleaders” presents its “heroines” in a distinctly different light: being deliberately, aggressively predatory with a specific reward in mind for their sexual servicing. Rather than the usual vacuous goofy male teen simply out to get laid to fulfill the demands of both the dopey teen comedy and their burgeoning hormones, the girls of Amarosa High’s cheerleading squad seem so naturally practiced in the fine art of the courtesan revelry as to make the antics in Fanny Hill seems like antiquated prudery in comparison. And while the spontaneous couplings are of sufficient frequency to raise alarm that the squad might eventually suffer from friction burns, the young ladies (whose indeterminate portrayed ages, led to provocative concerns over a possible portrayal and endorsement of underage carnality; a view which the filmmakers deplorably sniff aside as mere coming-of-age hijinks) are imbued with a motive of disturbing calculation for a greater portion of their libertine excesses: with the  their sexual congress unhealthily suggesting secondary school prostitution. None of the girls seem motivated by personal stimulative gratification, as much as the more mercenary reward of adding another win in their school’s hapless football team’s victory column by draining (so to speak) the opposing team’s players of stamina by strategically banging their brains out before the game. One wonders if the same stratagem is implemented for the school’s basketball, baseball and wrestling tournaments? Why not debate team meets and chess club matches as long as we’re talking about the blind promotion of school spirit? (In regard to the squad actually lighting a fire of enthusiasm under the collective student body, it might have occurred to someone in the planning stages of the film to have the girls show the slightest affinity for anything but painfully uncoordinated and tepid attempts at sideline rallying.)

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in Drive-In Movies, education, erotica, grindhouse, movie reviews, sex, Uncategorized, women, writing | Tagged | 1 Comment

-30-: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, April 2019 Edition, Vol. 1984

-30-: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, April 2019 Edition, Vol. 1984

    Now that the two year Mueller investigation has reached the obvious conclusion that indeed there has been blatant seditious collusion between Russian interests to undermine and interfere with public confidence in American democracy, and a shadowy-  if ineptly attention seeking  -crass, craven and self-absorbed partner within the United States who can be easily identified by the SVR code name, the Fourth Estate (a conclusion which becomes more apparent if, in the context of this discussion, you identify the brethren first Three Estates as Moe, Larry and Curly), it may be a perfect opportunity to identify the bearers of shameless Poverty Row standards to a once noble and necessary profession. (It is probably obligatory, for reasons of clarity, to emphasize that the more secondary [but, unfortunately, still publicly unavoidable] cohorts in this grand scheme of fraud, deception and ignominy-  politicians and Hollywood celebrities  -have never been noble or necessary except in their own personal pursuit to nourish their own special form of sociopathic narcissism.) Yes, we are talking about the Free Press (at least they admit what they’re worth), that randy bunch of neurotics, incompetents and featherweight idealists whose professional ethics are guided by a moral compass as straight as Quasimodo’s spine. And with that brief but poignant introduction of persons whom you would never entrust with keeping an eye on your latte while you’re visiting Starbucks’ Men’s/Women’s/Transsexual/Whatever Room (we cater to all persuasions here in the sovereign state of “Who Gives a Damn? Mind Your Own Business and Lemme Eat My Beef Jerky in Peace”), we bring you yet another edition of that most celebrated of boardless bored games, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz; brought to you, as always, by the ravenous consumers of SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition we celebrate, or at least mention in passing without succumbing to cramps and a general sensation of nausea, the brave and bold (and mostly fictional) depictions of intrepid journalists in the cinema. The following twenty five images are from films in which honor, dignity and ethics (there are inevitable exceptions) are the cornerstones of the depicted news profession. (Editorially, we at CSR felt it unfair to load the quiz with less respectable representations of the craft, feeling that the current crop of “journalists” are embarrassing themselves enough without assistance.) Your task is to identify all twenty five films, avoid Congressional subpoenas by supplying your answers to us in a (preferably compromised) dossier. The first to correctly identify all twenty five films will receive the infamous CSR Culture Shock Award; legitimate as a substitute passport at all Russian border crossings. Udachi.


Posted in biography, books, Boston, comedy, crime, History, Movies, politics, Television, westerns, women, writing | Tagged , | 9 Comments

“Across 110th Street” (1972)


across1             “Across 110 Street”  (1972)

    Barry Shear’s “Across 110th Street” walks the precarious line between the gritty urban cop thrilleracrossOS for which the standard was set by the previous year’s “The French Connection” and the trashiest of blaxploitation, that unwittingly goes to great lengths that oily haired mobsters and watered down genre tropes don’t make for a satisfying mix. Shear’s predilection toward handheld camera shooting intends to weld a docudrama immediacy to the proceedings à la Friedkin, but all that results is a strained, incompatible visual aesthetic whose grittiness only makes the B-movie artificially of the characters all the more unpalatable.

    As the result of a deadly Harlem robbery, which results in the death seven men, including two police officers, an energetic search for the perpetrators is led by Mafia psycho Nick D’Salvio (Anthony Franciosa) whose interest in indulging in graphic, extended torture is only equalled by his acting the caricature of every overly emotive bad gangster performance including a particular affinity toward expressing every shade of human emotion with a death’s head toothy grimace. On the side of the proverbial angels is police Capt. Frank Mattelli (Anthony Quinn), a veteran cop whose delicate technique of beating witnesses results in not a single lead but effortlessly maintains the film’s provocative but needless my consistent level of brutality.  Partnered with Mattelli’s old-across2school persona (by way of secondary  corrupt film noir flatfoots) is  the more satiric contemplative Lt. William Pope (Yaphet Kotto), whose gentler forbearance also fails to yield; with the resulting generational, racial and temperament frisson between the two reduced to a mere matter of appearance, with Pope looking quite dapper, whereas Mattelli continually looks as if he’s just fallen out of a Murphy bed.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in black cinema, Blaxploitation, books, crime, Movies, racism, writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Busted: “The Organization” (1971)

“The Organization” (1971)

    In “The Organization”, the final film in the Virgil Tibbs  trilogy, there is a vivid demonstration of the law of diminishing returns. The film features a plot that is not only needlessly illogical, but commits the unpardonable sin of making the featured homicide detective fairly irrelevant to the main action.

    A furniture manufacturing company is subjected to a robbery of such unnecessary overproduction (apparently designed to eliminate the possibility of escaping notice), so much so that it could have only been conceived by a scenarist overly stimulated by viewing any one of a hundred better caper films. The protagonists are a merry band of social activists, each equipped with a sad story and the kind of weighty chip on their respective shoulders which will guarantee that they will stupidly act in a recklessly emboldened fashion which will almost guarantee their demise.

To read the complete review click the following link to:




Posted in black cinema, crime, movie reviews, movie sequels, Movies, Mystery, Sidney Poitier, writing | Tagged , | 2 Comments

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:–america/




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Posted in comedy, espionage, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, Sylvia Kristel, Television, writing | Tagged , | 2 Comments

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:


Posted in comedy, film noir, Humphrey Bogart, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, Romance, theater, women, Woody Allen, writing | 4 Comments

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



 “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:



Posted in books, erotica, grindhouse, movie reviews, Movies, pornography, sex, women, writing | Tagged | 2 Comments

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:

Posted in erotica, Georgina Spelvin, grindhouse, Jennifer Welles, Movies, Reviews, sex, women, writing | Tagged , | 3 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: 


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:


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:

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



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:, 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)


       “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:

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:

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

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



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:








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:

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:





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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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