I last watched this back in 2012, but decided to watch it again as it is a very good documentary about movie-making.

It starts off in the late sixties when films were made big and starred The Kirkster amongst others, then moves onto the seventies when new directors started experimenting and made films that were about real people and real life. By the end of the seventies they were making films like Star Wars and Jaws, pure escapism and more uplifting. It was quite a decade really.

There are interviews with people like Francis Ford Coppola, Bruce Dern, Julie Christie, Roger Corman, Sydney Pollack, Peter Bogdanovich, and Dennis Hopper.

I have seen many of the films mentioned, but there are just as many that I have not seen, so I am going to seek some of them out.

A very good watch if you like a bit of film history.

Date watched: February 8th
Score: 9/10
Film count 2018: 11

The Day of the Triffids

I read the book by John Wyndham a very long time ago, but I remember enjoying it thoroughly. So when I saw this film on YouTube I just had to give it a watch.

I actually don’t remember the story well, and as it turns out the film adaption is very different to the book, almost to the point of being a whole new story.

As a film though it was reasonably entertaining and very 1960’s horror. The Triffids were well done although they are quite different to the book version. The acting was fine I suppose, also very 60’s, and one actress had an excellent scream of terror.

The ending was a bit of a cop-out though. Like War of the Worlds a simple way to kill the Triffids was found, they melt when sprayed with seawater (the book does not find a way of killing the Triffids).

I must read the book again actually.

Date watched: November 24th
Score: 7/10
Film count 2017: 128

I Giorni Dell’ira

This is a 1967 spaghetti western starring Lee Van Cleef and an Italian actor by the name of Giuliano Gemma, and is called “Day of Anger” in English (I prefer the Italian title).

It is though, on the whole, a sub-standard spaghetti western as the story is nothing new and is a bit muddled at times. There are a few good scenes here and there, and Lee Van Cleef is always brillo to watch, but it is mostly quite forgettable.

I will have to watch “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” again some day, that is an ace film.

Date watched: November 18th
Score: 4/10
Film count 2017: 127

You Must Be Joking!

This is a 1965 British comedy film starring Terry Thomas, Denholm Elliot, and a few other familiar faces from British comedy.

It was supposed to be a madcap and nutty comedy with all kinds of sillines, but I don’t remember any particularly funny bits, although Terry Thomas is always funny, even when he doesn’t actually say anything funny. I actually watched this over three sessions because I just didn’t feel like watching it in one go.

The story is about some army guys who have to go on a scavenger hunt to test their initiative. They are tasked with getting things like an electric rabbit (greyhound rabbit), the “Spirit of Ecstasy” from a Rolls Royce, and , the Lutine bell from Lloyds of London, among other random things.

The best thing about the film was the acting. All of the actors were doing the best with what they were given, and they are obviously funny people, but the script was just not up to the task methinks.

Well, at least I can say I have seen it if it ever pops up in a conversation some day.

Date watched: November 9th (final third)
Score: 3/10
Film count 2017: 125

A Hard Days Night

I saw this many years ago, but had pretty much forgotten a lot of it, and with my recent Beatlemania I thought I would watch it again.

This is a pretty weird one actually, at least by 2010’s standards. In the 1960’s, when The Goons were the kings of British comedy, the humour in this was probably normal. For today’s youth though this is probably a real head-scratcher. Can you imagine any of today’s boy bands making a film like this (I can’t think of one single boy band to name… is Kayne in a boy band)?

Which makes this a unique and very fun film to watch. The Fab Four while not the best actors are still just plain fun to watch, and as we know they were already funny anyway. With the weird script, sometimes bizarre dialogue, and general chaos it was a hoot. And of course there are several songs throughout. Seeing John, Paul, George, and Ringo at such a young age (Ringo was 23 at the time) was also interesting to see.

Ringo Starr accidentally came with the film title, and the title song was quickly written eight days before filming finished.

The name “The Beatles” is never spoken throughout the entire film, it is only seen written. Phil Collins played a schoolboy watching the Beatles play on TV (he was 13 at the time).

This film is listed in a few top 100 films of all time, and Roger Ebert gave it a four out of four stars. It influenced the Monkees TV series, as well as British spy films for some reason.

Good ol’ Beatles.

Date watched: October 21st
Score: 9/10
Film count 2017: 119

The Thomas Crown Affair

Apparently this was Steve McQueen’s favourite film, and I must say it is the best film I have seen him in so far.

The story involves McQueen’s character who is a very rich businessman who orchestrates the perfect bank robbery just for kicks. On his tail is an insurance investigator played by Faye Dunaway. They fall in love of course, but she is still determined to bust his ass as she knows he was the mastermind.

It is not an overly exciting film, but the chemistry between Steve and Faye was brillo, and there were some good (but not geat) scenes here and there. Still, it is better than Bullitt which really only had that fantastic car-chase going for it, whereas this had a better story and acting, plus Steve actually smiled a few times which was charming to see.

Sean Connery was originally offered the main role in this film, but turned it down.

On the subject of missed roles, Steve was offered the lead role alongside Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but couldn’t accept it:

Wikipedia: McQueen was offered the lead male role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but was unable to accept due to his Wanted: Dead or Alive contract (the role went to George Peppard). He turned down parts in Ocean’s 11, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (his attorneys and agents could not agree with Paul Newman’s attorneys and agents on top billing), The Driver, Apocalypse Now, Dirty Harry, A Bridge Too Far, The French Connection (he did not want to do another cop film), and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

In the film Faye Dunaway drove a Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spyder which today is one of the most valuable Ferrari’s in the world. Steve did his own stunts of course which involved playing polo (impressive he was too), and driving a dune buggy on a beach like a nutter. He was quite a chap, so it was a real loss when he died of cancer in 1989 aged only 50. In fact, I must put him on the MBMS Page Of Fame, he deserves it.

Fezza 275

Not an essential film, but it was not bad.

Date watched: September 15th
Score: 7/10
Film count 2017: 104

Spartacus – part 2

Continued from part 1

After the long intermission, which consisted of more rousing Hollywood orchestra, the story headed for the inevitable battle scene. And it was quite an impressive one as they used eight thousand Spanish infantry soldiers as extras. There were the Roman soldiers all done up in their armour, and the slave army all done up in rags and helmets. The Roman army spent some time doing formation manoeuvres which was impressive to watch (but not as impressive as this).

The battle scene went on for a short time, and had a few scenes cut out as it was deemed too gory by test audiences. One particularly impressive scene was when the slave army pushed flaming rollers made of hay down a hill right into the Romans. The stunt dudes certainly earned their money as they were rolled over or sometimes caught briefly in the flames, which looked to be burning very hot.

Stanley Kubrick was his usual fatidious self in this film. From Wikipedia:
So precise was Kubrick, that even in arranging the bodies of the slaughtered slaves he had each “corpse” assigned with a number and instructions.

The story followed it’s logical, and not so accurate ending (the real Spartacus died in battle, but he was crucified in the film). Actually, historically it was not the most accurate film, but entertainment trumps history. In the film he met a woman and had a baby, all fiction of course because Hollywood needs some romance and kissing scenes.

Being a big Hollywood production there was a lot going on behind the scenes, mostly due to egos clashing, especially between Kubrick and the cinematograher. A screenwriter who was one of the Hollywood Ten was taken on by The Kirkster to replace the original screenwriter, which helped to break the Hollywood blacklist. Spartacus!

Stanley Kubrick ended up disowning this film although why is not clear, probably because he didn’t get his way in how the film was made.

At the box office back in the day it made back five times what it cost to make, but did not win any major Academy Awards. The Kirkster was not even nominated!

Reading about The Kirkster I found that he was an avid blogger and wrote posts on the Huffington Post which you can see here. There have not been any posts this year, but Wikipedia says he is probably the oldest celebrity blogger in the world! Spartacus!

I would not say this is an essential “epic” to watch, but it is still well worth watching, not only for The Kirkster, but also for the excellent supporting actors and the gnarly battle scene at least.

And here is a John K. blog about The Kirkster.

Date watched (part 2): August 28th
Score: 8/10
Film count 2017: 96