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1 - Suspiria � (1977, Dario Argento)
2 - Black Sunday � (1960, Mario Bava)
3 - Creature from the Black Lagoon � (1954, Jack Arnold)
4 - The House with Laughing Windows � (1976, Pupi Avati)
5 - I Walked with a Zombie � (1943, Jacques Tourneur)
6 - The Wicker Man � (1973, Robin Hardy)
7 - The Black Cat � (1934, Edgar G. Ulmer)
8 - Eyes Without a Face � (1960, Georges Franju)
9 - The Island of Lost Souls � (1933, Erle C. Kenton)
10 - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre � (1974, Tobe Hooper)
11 - Les Diaboliques � (1955, Henri-Georges Clouzot)
12 - Mad Love � (1935, Karl Freund)
13 - Night of the Demon � (1957, Jacques Tourneur)
14 - The Haunting � (1963, Robert Wise)
15 - The Innocents � (1961, Jack Clayton)
16 - Deep Red � (1975, Dario Argento)
17 - The Invisible Man � (1933, James Whale)
18 - What Have You Done to Solange? � (1972, Massimo Dallamano)
19 - Kill Baby�Kill � (1966, Mario Bava)
20 - Son of Frankenstein � (1939, Rowland V. Lee)
21 - Blood and Black Lace � (1964, Mario Bava)
22 - The Lodger (1944, John Brahm)
23 - Bride of Frankenstein � (1935, James Whale)
24 - The Devil's Rejects � (2005, Rob Zombie)
25 - Cannibal Holocaust � (1980, Ruggero Deodato)
26 - The Mummy � (1932, Karl Freund)
27 - Frankenstein � (1931, James Whale)
28 - Audition � (1999, Takashi Miike)
29 - Son of Dracula � (1943, Robert Siodmak)
30 - The Mask of Fu Manchu � (1932, Charles Brabin)
31 - Horror of Dracula � (1958, Terence Fisher)
32 - Le Boucher � (1970, Claude Chabrol)
33 - The Wolf Man � (1941, George Waggner)
34 - Onibaba � (1964, Kaneto Shindo)
35 - Pit and the Pendulum � (1961, Roger Corman)
36 - The Thing from Another World � (1951, Christian Nyby)
37 - The Curse of the Crying Woman � (1963, Rafael Baledon)
38 - The Thing � (1982, John Carpenter)
39 - The Descent (2005, Neil Marshall)
40 - The Legend of Hell House � (1973, John Hough)
41 - The Old, Dark House � (1932, James Whale)
42 - Black Sabbath � (1963, Mario Bava)
43 - The Plague of the Zombies � (1966, John Gilling)
44 - Night of the Living Dead � (1968, George A. Romero)
45 - Peeping Tom � (1960, Michael Powell)
46 - Spoorloos � (1988, George Sluizer)
47 - Black Christmas � (1974, Bob Clark)
48 - M � (1931, Fritz Lang)
49 - King Kong � (1933, Merian C. Cooper)
50 - The Night of the Hunter (1955, Charles Laughton)
51 - Spider Baby � (1968, Jack Hill)
52 - Alucarda � (1978, Juan L�pez Moctezuma)
53 - The Hound of the Baskervilles � (1959, Terence Fisher)
54 - The Spiral Staircase � (1945, Robert Siodmak)
55 - Tenebre � (1982, Dario Argento)
56 - Tombs of the Blind Dead � (1971, Amando de Ossorio)
57 - The Black Pit of Dr. M � (1959, Fernando Mendez)
58 - Who Saw Her Die? � (1972, Aldo Lado)
59 - Opera � (1987, Dario Argento)
60 - All the Colors of the Dark � (1972, Sergio Martino)
61 - Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter � (1974, Brian Clemens)
62 - The Bird with the Crystal Plumage � (1970, Dario Argento)
63 - High Tension � (2003, Alexandre Aja)
64 - Mill of the Stone Women � (1960, Giorgio Ferroni)
65 - The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh � (1971, Sergio Martino)
66 - The Omen � (1976, Richard Donner)
67 - Halloween � (1978, John Carpenter)
68 - The Hills Have Eyes � (1977, Wes Craven)
69 - The Scarlet Claw � (1944, Roy William Neill)
70 - A Tale of Two Sisters � (2003, Ji-woon Kim)
71 - Shock Waves � (1977, Ken Wiederhorn)
72 - The Masque of the Red Death � (1964, Roger Corman)
73 - Cat People � (1942, Jacques Tourneur)
74 - Your Vice is a Locked Door and Only I Have the Key � (1972, Sergio Martino)
75 - House of 1000 Corpses � (2003, Rob Zombie)
76 - The Queen of Spades � (1949, Thorold Dickinson)
77 - Daughters of Darkness � (1971, Harry Kumel)
78 - The Abominable Snowman � (1957, Val Guest)
79 - The Exorcist � (1973, William Friedkin)
80 - Village of the Damned � (1960, Wolf Rilla)
81 - Dressed to Kill � (1980, Brian De Palma)
82 - Mystery of the Wax Museum � (1933, Michael Curtiz)
83 - The Girl Who Knew Too Much � (1963, Mario Bava)
84 - The Ninth Gate � (1999, Roman Polanski)
85 - Witchfinder General � (1968, Michael Reeves)
86 - Horror Hotel � (1960, John Llewellyn Moxey)
87 - Scream of Fear � (1961, Seth Holt)
88 - Don't Torture a Duckling � (1972, Lucio Fulci)
89 - The Ghost Breakers � (1940, George Marshall)
90 - The Man Who Changed His Mind � (1936, Robert Stevenson)
91 - Mark of the Devil � (1970, Michael Armstrong)
92 - The Changeling � (1980, Peter Medak)
93 - The Unknown � (1927, Tod Browning)
94 - Let Sleeping Corpses Lie � (1974, Jorge Grau)
95 - Red Queen Kills 7 Times � (1972, Emilo Miraglia)
96 - Dark Water � (2002, Hideo Nakata)
97 - The Body Snatcher � (1945, Robert Wise)
98 - The Curse of the Werewolf � (1964, Terence Fisher)
99 - Venus in Furs � (1969, Jess Franco)
100 - Race with the Devil � (1975, Jack Starrett)
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Ray Master l'inafferrabile (1966)
I'm still shaking my head in disbelief
The Quick Pitch: A thief comes up with an elaborate scheme to rob a diamond valued at $1 billion from a heavily guarded museum in Thailand.
Diamonds are a Man's Best Friend is the kind of 60s heist movie I usually go for. European and other exotic locations, a well-crafted scheme, reasonably good acting, a groovy 60s soundtrack, and plenty of twists and turns along the way - that's what you find in a lot of my favorite heist movies. And while you get a lot of that in Diamonds Are a Man's Best Friend, what it lacks is believability. The movie features one of the most ridiculous looking robberies ever put on film. It all starts to go horribly wrong about half-way through the heist. Earlier in the movie, the characters had mentioned something about a vacuum, but when I, as a viewer, saw exactly what the thieves were up to, I had to laugh in disbelief. I thought they planned to use a vacuum to extract the diamond from the room where it was kept. I had no idea they intended to create / build a vacuum in the museum room so they could fly overhead and pluck the diamond from its resting spot. I'm not a scientist, but I'm confident this wouldn't work the way it's presented. What about gravity? And even if it would, watching the robber float about the room in what amounts to a spacesuit is mind-bogglingly stupid. The movie does redeem itself in the last act, but the damage had already been done.
Maisie Was a Lady (1941)
My favorite so far
The Quick Pitch: Thanks to a drunk millionaire, Maisie Ravier finds herself out of work once again. To repay her, her hires her on as a maid. Maisie soon discovers that the family needs more attention than the house.
I've only see four of these movies, but Maisie Was a Lady might be my favorite so far. This was Ann Sothern's fourth Maisie film and director Edwin Marin's third. By this point, they knew what they were doing. They both understood what made Maisie work. Maisie Was a Lady features a very strong and capable supporting cast. I'm a bit shocked that actors like Lew Ayers and Marueen O'Sullivan appeared in secondary roles in a Maisie film. They were real pros. Also in the cast is C Aubrey Smith. Some of his scenes with Sothern are the highlights of the movie. Whether arguing about Maisie's jewelry or how to address the family, the two worked incredibly well together. The plot is a bit predictable. Has anyone ever watched Maisie Was a Lady and not predicted how things would end up for her? Finally, the movie looks great. I don't think I've mentioned this before, but sets, lighting, and cinematography are all better than expected. Given the fact that these weren't big budget affairs, MGM certainly got a lot of bang for their buck.
My biggest gripe with Maisie Was a Lady has to be the serious tone of much of the movie. I've come to think of Maisie as rather light-hearted, fluffy entertainment. Topics like alcoholism and suicide aren't what I expect.
Worth watching just for Hermione Gingold
The Quick Pitch: Mundy's mission is to steal an aging duchess' manuscript which may contain information sensitive or embarrassing to the West. However, there are other unfriendly operatives working to get their hands on the document first.
What a great way to round out Season 1! The Lay of the Land is such a fun episode. Mundy gets to go through his entire arsenal of tricks, from safecracking and fighting to schmoozing the ladies. The entire episode is packed with one nice scene after the other. Director Don Weis does an excellent job of holding it all together and keeping the pace up for the entire runtime. Easily one of the shining stars of Season 1.
But what really sets The Lay of the Land apart from some of the other episodes is the supporting cast - in particular Hermione Gingold. She is an absolute delight as Duchess Christina. What an actress! Eccentric and funny with a sparkle in her eye and a smile on her face - she brings real life to the episode. Everyone else, including Robert Wagner, comes off poorly in comparison. Ms Gingold is something of a force of nature and gives one of the more enjoyable performances I've seen in the series thus far.
Gold Rush Maisie (1940)
Maisie does The Grapes of Wrath
The Quick Pitch: On her way to a gig in Phoenix, Maisie's car breaks down in the middle of the desert. She finds herself stranded in an old mining town. When gold is rediscovered, Maisie helps a dirt poor family in their attempt to strike it rich.
I've got to agree with what a lot of others have written on the internet - Gold Rush Maisie definitely has a Grapes of Wrath feel to it. For me, that's one of the films biggest flaws. I enjoy these Maisie films for their comedy and ridiculousness. And while Ann Sothern gets in a good one-liner here and there, the overall tone is terribly somber. When you're dealing with dirt farmers who have no idea where their next meal is going to come from, laughing at Maisie's hijinks just doesn't feel right. Gold Rush Maisie wasn't the kind of entertainment I was expecting or looking for.
My other big complaint is with the ranch owner, Bill Anders, played by Lee Bowman. My problem Isn't with Bowman (in fact, there's something about him that I like more than any of the other male leads Southern played opposite in the first three Maisie films). Instead, my problem is with the character, Lee Anders. One minute, he's in love with Maisie - the next, he can't stand her. One minute, he wants to help the farmers - the next, he wants to throw them off his land. The wild swings the character goes through make no sense at all. It's a pretty poor job of writing.
So far, all I've talked about are the negatives. Based on my rating, it should be obvious that I didn't find Gold Rush Maisie a total wash-out. When the script allows Maisie to be Maisie, those moments really shine. Southern is such a joy to watch as Maisie with her perfect comedic timing and infectious nature. Maisie is always a treat.
I may have to stop watching this show
The Quick Pitch: A series of robberies is blamed on a drifter who claims to be Santa Claus. Nancy Drew sets out to find the real criminal.
I really hope that the rest of The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries episodes are better than the last two I've watched. After back-to-back duds, I'm not sure how much more of this I can take. There are so many problems I could write about, but my single biggest issue with Will the Real Santa Claus...? is the plot. It's just so stupid. The entire series is based on either Nancy or the Hardys using real clues, logic, and science to solve their mysteries. That all gets chucked out of the window. Here, with a completely straight face, we are supposed to believe that this hobo really is Santa Claus. His disappearances in front of witnesses, the sleigh tracks in the snow, and the constant references to his life as Santa are all too much. It's horrible writing. Add to that some painfully stiff acting on the part of guest Rick Springfield, the worst ADR imaginable, and a secondary plot that never goes anywhere, Will the Real Santa Claus...? is easily one of the worst episodes I've run into so far.
Looking back on what I just watched, I really can't come up with many positives. I suppose I did enjoy the scene where Nancy is chased through the house by the real robber. It's a fairly tense moment. Equally enjoyable were Pamela Sue Martin's skin-tight jeans. They're definitely worth mentioning.
Congo Maisie (1940)
Loved the showgirl routine
The Quick Pitch: Maisie finds herself stranded in an African jungle. If that's not bad enough, Maisie will have to use all her skills as a showgirl to deal with the local witchdoctors.
Watching Congo Maisie can be a bit jarring at first as there is no continuity from Maisie, the first film in the series. Well, actually there's no continuity other than Ann Sothern in the title role. Here, she's just as delightful, energetic, cute, and funny. Maisie is a fantastic character and Sothern plays her perfectly. Sothern's comedic time is in top form. In Congo Maisie she even gets a chance to do a bit of her showgirl routine. The final scene where she does her song and dance number for the dazzled and confused natives is a real highlight. Funny stuff. The supporting cast is decent enough, but no one really stood out. As with Maisie, Congo Maisie moves at a relatively good pace throughout most of the movie. The exception is when the film gets bogged down in its romance angle. Unfortunately, in Congo Maisie, it's a poorly written love triangle (a love square might be more appropriate) that annoyed me more than anything. Still, this bit couldn't ruin the overall film. Congo Maisie is a winner.
Looking forward to more Maisie
The Quick Pitch: Maisie is a fast-talking, New York showgirl who ends up stranded in a one horse Wyoming town. She weasels her way into a job at a local ranch and into the heart of the ranch foreman.
I'm not sure how I missed the Maisie series, but I'm awfully glad I stumbled on it last night. Man, did I ever have fun watching Maisie! It's not perfect, but it's got a lot to offer. Ann Southern is the sassy Maisie. She's absolutely perfect. I don't know that I've ever seen a role so tailor-made for an actor. She's funny, smart, and about the cutest thing I've ever seen. Her comedic timing is spot on. And she equally capable of handling the physical bits also. I really can't say enough positive things about Ann Sothern's Maisie. I'm really looking forward to see what Maisie gets up to next.
But, as I indicated, Maisie isn't perfect. I've got two big grips that I think are worth mentioning. First, things really slow down toward the end of the second act. There's too much schmaltzy romance drama and too little of Maisie being Maisie. Other than that, I had no real problems with the plot. Second, I'm not much of a fan of Robert Young. He's too stiff, with his pants pulled up to his armpits, to play the romantic lead next to Sothern. It never felt right to me.
One final thing about Maisie - and really a lot of movies from the 30s and 40s. The "cowboys" in these movies never seem or look real. They're all too clean, pressed, and starched.
"That's your exit line, Marlowe. Follow it out."
The Quick Pitch: Marlowe is hired by a young woman from Kansas who is trying to find her lost brother. However, Marlowe doubts the wisdom of taking his new client when he gets mixed up with a gangster named Steelgrave and a couple of deadly ice picks.
I'm really shocked at how much I enjoyed Marlowe. Contrary to most of what I've read on the internet, I found Marlowe fantastically entertaining. I've never read the Raymond Chandler novel this is based on so I don't have that comparison - which is probably a good thing. The plot is a bit convoluted, but if you've seen the better known The Big Sleep, it's about what you would expect from a Chandler adapted novel. It'll keep you guessing throughout. The film has really groovy 60s vibe to it that I found especially appealing. The opening credit sequence and theme really set 60s stage just right. Director Paul Bogart may be best known for his work in TV, but his direction here is on-point. He keeps things moving at a brisk pace. He filled Marlowe with plenty of action, mystery, witty dialogue, and interesting set-pieces. In fact it's got all the ingredients I need for a good time.
I found most of the acting in Marlowe to be top-notch. James Garner is just so cool in the title role. His Marlowe seems so natural - it's like he's not even acting. I've never seen the Rockford Files, but after watching Garner here, I might have to change that. Rita Moreno sizzles in her supporting role. Her chemistry with Garner is so believable. The rest of the cast is more than adequate. I had no idea that Bruce Lee was in the film. When he popped-up, I couldn't have been more surprised. He doesn't really do much other than bust-up Marlowe's office, but that overhead light fixture kick was amazing.
I'm not going to bother with the few minor quibbles I had with Marlowe. When a movie is this much fun, why bother?
Plenty of Al doing what Al does best
The Quick Pitch: Instead of stealing, Al's mission involves returning a golden orb to a royal treasure room. But what Al doesn't know is that the orb has been packed with plastic explosives.
A Matter of Royal Larceny is another solid episode. None of these episodes are what I'd call great, but most are entertaining enough. In this one, we get plenty of Al doing what Al does best - lots of sneaking around, some spy work, and wooing the women. I especially enjoyed Al's final dramatic assault on the treasure room. Overall, quite fun.
A few random thoughts:
1. I'm sure I've seen the main building featured in this episode in about half of the ones I've watched so far. It Takes a Thief seemed to recycle the same sets on a regular basis.
2. Exactly where was the Kingdom of San Marcos supposed to be? I'm sure I heard at least four different accents - American, French, British (and very heavy British at that), and some sort of weird Eastern European accent.
3. I had forgotten just how stunning Lynda Day George was in the 70s. She never looked better than here. And what about those fabulous outfits? Really nice.
4. Maybe it was just me, but it felt like J Pat O'Malley and his dog had stepped over to It Takes a Thief from another show. Their bits had a weird vibe to them.
5. Finally, I was shocked to see Ben Murphy, of all people, playing the King-to-be of San Marcos. Too funny,
The Quick Pitch: Al is tasked with stealing an object from an Eastern bloc museum. The trouble is that he's not at all sure what he's supposed to steal.
On the whole, I quite enjoyed Locked in the Cradle of the Keep. The opening shootout is exciting, even if the ultimate outcome is terribly predictable. The part of Al's plan to get in the museum without stepping on the floor was humorously clever. And the bit where Al tricks his tail into following the wrong motor-scooter was a nice scene. But the best part of the episode for me had to be the relationship between Al and Ilsa. Robert Wagner and Celeste Yarnall made quite the handsome couple and had some real chemistry together. In almost every episode, Al gets the girl. But other than Susan Saint James, none seemed as natural with Wagner as Yarnall. A nice bit of casting.
My complaints are minor and center on a few ridiculous plot points (like why there wasn't more security personnel at the museum during the final scene), but they're hardly worth mentioning. Overall, a nice episode.
The Worst of the Hardy Boys
The Quick Pitch: Joe and Frank get mixed-up with a deaf woman who may have "overheard" a plan to blow up a casino.
It's been awhile since I last watched an episode of The Hardy Boys, but I don't remember any being as bad as The Mystery of the Silent Scream. It's just plain old Gawd awful! I'll start with the plot - ridiculous. It makes no sense that these two goofballs were able to solve the mystery behind the bombing so easily or that the police would even let them. And what about the bomber's motivation? Again, it makes no sense. Second, the dialogue is painful. No one in the real world talks like that. The scene where Joe tricks the deaf girl into kissing him - cringy beyond belief. Third, why make the bomber's accomplice a mystery? The reveal isn't much of a surprise when there are only two other people in the episode with speaking parts. Fourth, and this is a problem with the entire series, the ADR is about as bad as you'll see in an American made TV show with English speaking actors. Finally, when your "guest stars" are Larry Storch and Trini Lopez, that pretty much says all you need to know about the quality of what you're watching.
There are several other Hardy Boys episodes I've never seen. I hope they aren't be as bad as this.
There's Always a Woman (1938)
Joan Blondell - Cute, Funny, and Sassy
The Quick Pitch: Husband, who works for the DA, and wife, who is secretly running her husband's old detective agency, compete to see who can solve a murder.
As my rating indicates, I generally enjoyed There's Always a Woman. It's no Thin Man, as it's often compared and as Columbia Pictures had hoped it would be, but the movie is decent enough entertainment. The mystery may not be much, but this kind of light-hearted, who-done-it is never deep on plot. The film looks good and moves at a good pace. The direction is snappy with very little in the way downtime. Joan Blondell really shines as Sally Reardon. She's cute, funny, and sassy. She dominates the screen anytime she appears. Co-star Melvyn Douglas is good in his own right and makes a good straight man for Blondell, but he can't compete with her screen presence. There are a variety of other solid actors in the supporting cast, most notably Mary Astor, in what is pretty much the same role she played a few years later in The Maltese Falcon.
The thing that bothered me the most about There's Always a Woman was the casual depiction of spousal abuse. Maybe attitudes have changed since 1938, but I don't enjoy seeing a woman having her hair pulled or being hit by her husband. It didn't come off as funny or playful, just mean. Without those moments, I would have definitely rated There's Always a Woman higher.
It's a good one
Al's mission is to rescue a young girl being held in Bulgaria. Al has the help of the local underground, but one of their members may be a double-agent working for the Secret Police.
The Radomir Miniature is one of the better episodes I've run into. What sets it apart from some of the others is a real sense of tension. It's all a little more serious (for lack of a better word) than the average episode. Al has to do some real spy work. He has to think quickly on his feet when things go wrong. He has to use his wits to uncover the mole before his mission is ruined. The writing and direction go a long way to creating this tension or atmosphere - better than what you expect from a random episode of It Takes a Thief.
Another big plus for The Radomir Miniature is the cast. Just look through the IMDb credits for some of this episode's guests. You'll see several actors with 100+ credits. Two actors I'll specifically mention are Ina Balin and Eve Plumb. Ms Balin more than holds her own with Robert Wagner. She's not just another pretty face. As for Eve Plumb, to be as young as she was, she did a fantastic job. Too bad about some of the really poor ADR work on her lines.
Five Came Back (1939)
Who will live and who will die?
The Quick Pitch: Twelve people board a plane that crashes in the South American jungle. While they work to fix the plane and with angry natives closing in, the group realise the plane will generate enough thrust for only five passengers. Who will live and who will die?
What a nice, little B-film! Five Came Back was quite a nice watch. Director John Farrow should get a lot of the credit. He crafted a tight film with a very small budget and was able to inject well placed tension and atmosphere. There are few wasted moments in the 75 minute runtime. Every scene matters. I also like the way he and the writers turned societal norms on their head. The passengers you would expect to do well in the jungle, don't. Those who may have had problems in polite society end up being the heroes. It's a very interesting look at how adverse conditions can change people. The ending is very satisfying. The decisions about who will and who will not be on the plane lead to some very interesting drama.
Five Came Back is helped by having an outstanding cast. The most immediately recognizable name is Lucille Ball. This was long before she became Lucy. Here, she's the tough-talking sexpot. Allen Jenkins, Joseph Calleia, and Chester Morris are also standouts. Finally, has there ever been a more British looking actor than C. Aubrey Smith? One look at the man and you can all but hear God Save the Queen playing in the background. Overall, some strong performances.
I'm not sure I had ever heard of Five Came Back before watching it the other night. But it's a solid film that I plan to revisit again in future. My 8/10 is probably about right given the quality of the film and the enjoyment I got out of it.
"Our law is She, the goddess, who's your god?"
The Quick Pitch: In a post-apocalyptic world, Tom and his friend set out to rescue his kidnapped sister. The pair is quickly kidnapped by a group led by She. Eventually, She agrees to help the guys on their quest. They'll face a variety of foes, each more bizarre than the previous one, if they're to be successful.
I'll start this by saying that I can't begin to count the number of times I've seen She. I believe it was a staple on the old USA Network "Up All Night". However, even though I've seen it who knows how many times, I will readily admit that She is garbage. The plot is completely nonsensical, the production values are lame, and the acting is, for the most part, incredibly weak. So, if She is that bad, why have I seen it so many times? Because She is just fun. It's 80s-era cheese at its finest. When you combine elements of movies like The Road Warrior and The Warriors with a giant in a tutu, a band of toga-wearing werewolves, a Robin Williams-esque bridge guard, a cult leader with glowing green eyes, and a variety of other outlandish characters, you end up with She. It's all a mish-mash of largely incoherent ideas and visuals that never fail to pull me in.
The film stars Sandahl Bergman as She. If you've seen Ms Bergman in other films, you know what to expect. I really did, however, like the way she played it all straight, regardless of the nonsense going on around her. Gordon Mitchell pops up near the end in what amounts to little more than a cameo. Still, he's always fun to watch. She's partner, Shandra, is played by Quin Kessler. I thought she had a real screen presence and I'm surprised to discover she didn't do many more movies. The rest of the acting is largely forgettable.
It Takes a Thief: Turnabout (1968)
Noah wants Al to break into a laboratory facility to steal a new type of lens. Before the mission can get started, however, Al breaks a leg. With Al talking in his ear, it's up to Noah to play the role of the thief.
It's not that Turnabout is horrible, but it's nowhere near as good as any of the other episodes I've watched. There are a couple of problems here, but the main one is the writing. Noah's conversations with Soviet scientist Dr Schneider are painful. Watching and listening to Noah lay out his cringy pick-up lines is difficult. It just doesn't work. A second big issue I have with Turnabout is the lack of any suspense in the episode. The theft is far too easy. I like the episodes that require a more intricate plan. Overall, none of it is very good.
I usually love watching Ida Lupino in most everything I've ever seen her in. But here, I think she's miscast. The role of the innocent and easily flattered scientist doesn't fit Lupino very well. And like I previously wrote, she's given some horrible lines to work with. It's embarrassing.
"Do you have a wristwatch that shoots bullets?"
The Quick Pitch: A small-time thief "accidentally" steals some top secret documents. The thief travels across Europe hoping to sell the documents while staying one step ahead of (1) the spies he stole from and (2) a CIA agent trying to recover the secrets.
Dead Run is a nice little Eurospy film that I don't think I'd ever heard of before watching it the other night. IMDb lists the film as a drama/thriller, but there's also a bit of comedy thrown in that I found appealing. The plot is interesting, but maybe a little more complicated that it needed to be. The location shots are fabulous as everyone races across Europe. I always love a film filled with 60s era European locations. The film stars Peter Lawford. While he's not what I envision when I think 60s spy movie, the light-hearted tone of Dead Run fit his style fairly well. He's joined by a rock-solid cast featuring the gorgeous (and often quite funny) Ira von Furstenberg, the even more gorgeous Maria Grazia Buccella, and a host of well-known German actors, including Werner Peters, Wolfgang Preiss, and the menacing Horst Frank. I really enjoyed the way Lawford and von Furstenberg played off each other. I felt some real chemistry. But the real star is Georges Geret as Carlos, the man with the stolen documents. He's an interesting character - fun to watching in some instances, tragic in others. Overall, it's a better cast that I would have expected.
My only complaint (and the main reason I'm not rating Dead Run any higher) is that I felt the movie ran out of steam about halfway through. After a fantastic and interesting start, the movie slowed down a bit too much for my liking.
Blood Legacy (1971)
What a wretched experience
The Quick Pitch: An old man dies, leaving his fortune to his children and servants. The only catch is that they must remain on his estate for a week (or was it just one night - who cares?). If anyone dies, their share is split amongst the survivors.
I really hate everything about this movie. Legacy of Blood (or whatever other name it's known by) is one of those instances when I question why I watch this stuff. It's all just so predictable and boring. Predictable: Guessing the killer's identity is no challenge at all. Boring: So much talking about nothing that it's a chore to sit through. When something does happen, like a murder, it's all so clumsy with what might be the worst effects of their kind ever put on screen. There are some decent actors here, but they're given nothing to work with. Did anyone involved with making Legacy of Blood really think they were doing something good? If they did, it doesn't show. I can't remember seeing a more joyless movie in my life. What a wretched experience!
The Swinger (1966)
Not much of a movie, but a whole lot of Ann-Margret
The Quick Pitch: In order to get her story published in a girly magazine, good girl Kelly Olsson (Ann-Margret) decides to turn herself into the swingingest swinger who ever swung.
As a movie, The Swinger disappoints at just about every turn. It's not funny, it's outdated (a term I usually hate to use but it's definitely appropriate here), it's horribly predictable, and there really isn't much of plot. So, if it's that bad, why haven't I rated it any lower than a 4/10? Well, because as a vehicle to watch Ann-Margret, The Swinger is a wild success. The scenes featuring Ann-Margaret dancing, rolling around in paint, or trying on a variety of revealing, kitchy outfits - those are the highlights. I think my favorite bit had to be where Ann is walking through the house she shares with a variety of other people. There's some sort of choreographed dance practice going on. Ann flawlessly moves into place and out-dances everyone else without ever once looking up from the book she's reading. Her dancing and outfit are just amazing. Unfortunately, however, it all ends quickly and we're back to the tired, unfunny old movie.
So, to sum it up, if you want to see a good movie, keep looking. But, if you want to see Ann-Margret in her prime, The Swinger just might be the thing for you.
Hong Kong Confidential (1958)
Hong Kong never looked so bad
The Quick Pitch: A secret agent stationed in Hong Kong must locate a kidnapped prince.
If Hong Kong Confidential were an episode of a television program (something like Danger Man for example), I might have rated it higher. But as a "movie", it's really lacking. The direction is flat. There's nothing here to elevate the movie beyond anything you could find on 1958 TV. Everything is so obviously filmed on a soundstage. Nothing looks real or authentic. Cheap doesn't begin to describe it. Throw in poor lighting, a predictable script, and a bombastic, in-your-face narration and the result is a pretty poor movie.
I will, however, give Hong Kong Confidential one big bonus point on the use of Asians in the Asian roles. I don't think I noticed one "white" face playing an Asian. That's not something you usually found in 1958.
I've never been much of a Gene Barry fan and this movie changes none of that. He just seems out of his depth and unbelievable. And his lounge singer schtick is laugh-out-loud funny. I can't imagine an audience anywhere, let alone some bar in Hong Kong, enjoying his brand of bad singing and hysterical dancing. Too funny!
Time Table (1956)
Nice little noir
The Quick Pitch: $500,000 in cash is stolen from a train's baggage car.
Not a lot to say other than that this is a good one. My little plot summary may be shorter than usual, but I don't want to spoil anything. Time Table has a couple of plot twists that are about as good as any I've seen. The first comes early on in the film. While I may have had an inkling of what was about to happen, I still enjoyed watching the events unfold. But the second twist caught me by complete surprise. What fun!
Time Table is one of those films that proves you can (or at least you could in 1956) make a quality little movie without breaking the bank. Given budgetary constraints, director Mark Stevens created a tense, atmospheric crime/noir/thriller that moves at a brisk pace and is entertaining throughout. Not only does Stevens direct, but he also stars in Time Table. His performance is just as solid as his direction. The mostly no-name supporting cast is equal to the challenge. I'm sure I could pick a few things to complain about, but why bother when a movie is this enjoyable.
Sophia Loren and James Coburn . . . Yes Please!
The Quick Pitch: A respected chemist is murdered because of information he has on some faulty pharmaceuticals. The chemist's wife, Adele Tasca (Shopia Loren) wants the government to bring gun-for-hire Jerry Fanon (James Coburn) out of retirement to track down the man responsible. From there on, things get complicated with twist after twist that I'm not going to even try to explain.
Across the internet, I see a lot of people slagging on Firepower. No, it's not great and it's got its share of problems, but it sure is fun. As my title indicates, tell me a movie starts both Loren and Coburn and I'm in. I thought both were quite good given the material they were handed. The supporting cast is interesting, with Anthony Franciosa, Eli Wallach, Vincent Gardenia, and O.J. Simpson (Simpson's line about not killing anyone made me chuckle). Add in plenty of over-the-top explosions, lots of intrigue, and some fantastic looking Caribbean locations, and everything is in place for a good time.
Unfortunately, though, there's a thing called plot that's necessary for a good movie. The problem with Firepower is that the plot is too complicated for its own good. There are so many twists and turns that I defy anyone to keep up and understand everything that's going on. Who is on whose side? What is the mob's role? Who is Fanon's lookalike and why is he in the movie? A simpler plot would have really helped.
One more thing that gave me more than one unintentional laugh, as Fanon and Co are making their escape from the baddie's plantation, they are helped along over and over again by some of the most fortunate coincidences I've ever seen. For example, Fanon is being chased by three guys on horseback with a helicopter overhead. Miraculously, just as the baddies are bearing down on Fanon, a preset explosive detonates, destroying the helicopter. The three biggest chunks of the wreckage just happen to hit the three guys on the horses. How convenient!
A real letdown
The Quick Pitch: A group of models headed to South America for a photoshoot are shot down while flying too low over a cocaine plantation. The women are imprisoned, tortured, and raped. They make their inevitable escape only to interrupt a high-level confab between the drug runners and the mafia. Much gunfire and bloodshed ensues.
Let me start this by saying that I'm usually a fan of WIP films - I love most of the stuff Pam Grier and Co were churning out in the 70s. Also, I realize that I watched a butchered version of Jungle Warriors. I know that lots of what most people call the good bits you find in a WIP were cut out. However, I'm not really sure any of the excised footage would change my opinion. Jungle Warriors is just too slow and predictable to be entertaining. I was bored out of my mind throughout most of the film. Throw in some pathetic acting, poor special effects, and lazy fight choreography and you end up with a real dud.
With that being said, one of the bigger issues I have with Jungle Warriors is the underutilization of Sybil Danning. When you watch a movie with Sybil Danning so prominently featured on the box/poster artwork, you want to see a movie with Sybil Danning. She's barely in the thing (at least my cut). And when she is, she really doesn't do much of anything.
As bad as the movie is, I did get a chuckle watching Paul L Smith do some serious running. I doubt he ever moved that fast in the rest of his entire life. Overall though, a real letdown from start to finish.
"I shot and scalped a lot of freckle-faced kids"
The Quick Pitch: Remy (Warren Oates) is the leader of a band of outlaws. He wants to cross a river on his way to Mexico. The titular barquero, Travis (Lee Van Cleef), isn't going to let him use his barge. He knows it will be destroyed to prevent others from following. A stand-off ensues.
Until I stumbled on this last night, I had no idea Barquero even existed. What a find! Warren Oates and Lee Van Cleef in the same movie. These guys just ooze machismo. Throw in a supporting cast featuring Forrest Tucker and Kerwin Mathews and there was no way I wouldn't enjoy Barquero. The opening shootout as Remy and his men slaughter everyone in a small town to steal a wagon load of guns is an over-the-top joy to behold. And the last act where Remy and Travis are drawn into their final, inevitable showdown is just plain old awesome.
The problem with Barquero is the bits that come between the beginning and the end. Unfortunately, the second act really drags with Remy and Travis separated by a river. They shout back and forth, but there's really not much else that happens. Too bad, because with this kind of cast, some fantastic locations, and plenty of blood and violence, Barquero had the potential to be legendary.
Kill and Kill Again (1981)
Love that beard!
The quick pitch: Martial arts master Steve Chase is hired to rescue an important scientist who has been kidnapped for his potato-to-fuel formula. His chemical process also produces a mind-control drug that the evil Marduk intends to use for world domination. (What kind of potatoes do they grow in South Africa?)
Until I ran across Kill and Kill Again, I had no idea that a South African martial arts movie was a thing. After watching this one, if there are more, I see why they're not very well known. Overall, Kill and Kill Again is not really a very good movie. Acting, special effects, editing, and much of the script come straight from the bottom of the proverbial barrel. Two things that especially annoyed me, however, were (1) the lame, simplistic final act and (2) the uber slow-paced fight choreography.
That's not to say that Kill and Kill Again is all bad. There is quite a bit of fun to be had - even if some of it might be an unintentional laugh or two. The scenes where Chase is putting his band together are a highlight. Tug-of-war with a guy named Gorilla, levitation practice with the Fly, and junkyard fights with pal Gypsy Billy - it might be stupid fun, but it's still fun. And then there's chief baddie Marduk - he's not really so menacing as he is ridiculous looking. That beard he wears looked like something you'd find after Halloween in a dollar store clearance bin. Too funny.