Farewell, My Lovely

The hot day continued, so I browsed for another film on YouTube, and came up with this particularly good 1975 film, another Raymond Chandler story.

Robert Mitchum starred as Philip Marlowe, hired to find an ex-convict’s girl. The story starts getting complicated quickly with plenty of characters and sub-plots to follow. The ending was not predictable at all, and for it all to make complete sense I think I need to watch it all again, or read the book which as fate would have it I loaded onto my Kindle yesterday, so I will get onto that.

At first I wasn’t sure if Robert Mitchum was going to be a good Philip Marlowe, but soon I was enjoying watching him play the part. I dare say that he was as good, if not a tad better than The Bogart, but perhaps that is the heat talking. Robert is the only actor to play the role of Marlowe more than once on the big screen. Richard Burton was the first choice for the role, but he was too busy to do it.

Also in this film was Kate Murtagh who was great as the gangster-like madam of a brothel, apparently based on a real life person by the name of Brenda Allen. You will also recognize Kate from the cover of Supertramp’s “Breakfast in America” album (see below). Ah! The lives some people have! She is 97.

We also got to see a young, and not particularly brawny Sylvester Stallone.

Left picture: Kate on the left, Stallones on the right.

Other well-known faces in this were Charlotte Rampling, Anthony Zerbe, Harry Dean Stanton, and John Ireland.

The actor playing “Moose Malloy”, the ex-convict, is Jack O’Halloran who you will recognise from Superman II.

It was well made, engaging, and the entire cast were all great. I can’t think of any complaints at all, except that maybe there could have been a bit more action. If this was made today with Tom Cruise or Liam Neeson as Marlowe, then it would certainly have a lot more action with epic gun battles and ten minute car chases added in for 21st century audiences…so I am glad this was made in the seventies when story and quality acting were all that mattered.

Two good films in one day, not bad.

Date watched: July 14th
Score: 8.5/10
Film count 2018: 42

Star Wars: Episode 4

There is no real need to write much about this as I have already written about it four times previously in this blog (although I have seen this film at least twenty times).

What I will say again is that the “improvements” Georgie added in are very annoying and do nothing for the film at all. Why, Georgie, why?

Date watched: July 8th
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 39

Chinatown

I first watched this film back in 2012, and I gave it a rapturous review back then, and adding it to my list of best films ever. So, it was my intention to watch this again someday, and so I did. And just as last time, I found it to be a most excellent film, just as good as I remembered.

Most of the excellent-ness is due to Jack Nicholson’s and Faye Dunaway’s acting, both were brilliant, almost as good as Humphrey and Bacall. It also felt a lot like a Humphrey crime noir film both in it’s intricate story and cinematography (except that it was in colour).

There were one or two very minor directing niggles from Roman Polanski (this was his last film in the U.S.), but it was well paced and always engaging.

Do yourself a favour and watch this again.

Date watched: April 18th
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 29

A DECADE UNDER THE INFLUENCE

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

Death Race 2000

This is a 1975 film starring David Carradine and produced by Roger Corman.

The opening title of the film says a lot about the film…

… cheaply made and probably a bit amateurish.

And it was indeed made on the cheap. Wikipedia says it was made for either US$300,000 or $530,000, but it made either five or eight million.

Apart from David Carradine the only other notable actor was Sylvester Stallone in only his fifth film.

The story was about a race across the U.S. between five cars with a driver and navigator. The driver could get points along the way for killing people. The race was endorsed by the president, who in the dystopian future of the year 2000 ruled the country under a totalitarian regime. He also resided in China for some reason. The sworn enemy of the U.S. was France!

A group of rebels though tried to sabotage the race, and the granddaughter of the leader was able to become a navigator for “Frankenstein”, the national hero driver dressed in a black leather suit (David Carradine). The government controlled media covering the race would blame any attacks on the race on the French.

So it was basically a black and murderous comedy version of The Cannonball Run. It was actually quite funny in places, mostly because it was absurd or just plain silly. For most of the car chase scenes they pushed the 2x button to make it look faster.

While watching it was thinking that Arnold would been great in a late 1980’s remake, perhaps just after Running Man…oh, what could have been.

Date watched: January 25th
Score: 7/10
Film count 2018: 4

DEATH RACE 2000, David Carradine, 1975

Blazing Saddles

A few days ago I decided this would be my final film for the year. I wanted it to be a comedy, and this is one of my all-time fave comedies and I have not seen it for a while (I last watched it in 2012).

As usual it was funny, although there were one or two flat jokes. It is also very un-PC, but even so despite the derogatory terms used it is not a racist film, quite the contrary actually.

All of the actors were very funny, even the supporting cast. Some characters had only one or two scenes but they were memorable. The hangman for example was very funny even though he had less than one minute in the whole film.

Sadly the only actor from the principal cast still with us today is Mel Brooks. Cleavon Little who played the sheriff died way back in 1992, Gene Wilder last year, Madeline Kahn back in 1999, Harvey Korman in 2008, and John Hillerman just last month.

Richard Pryor was one of the writers. He was the original choice for Sheriff Bart, but the studio was against it due to his drug problems. Cleavon Little though aced the part.

This is not up there with the Monty Python films, or Airplane!, but I still think it is a silly hoot.

And that is it for my film watching this year. Not a bad one.

Date watched: December 31st
Score: 9.5/10
Film count 2017: 148

Jaws

James and I watched this together this afternoon, it was a film I recommended James see due to it’s importance in cinema history.

Recently I started listening to a new podcast by Chuck Bryant (he of Stuff You Should Know fame) called Movie Crush, where he chats with celebs (not super famous ones) about their fave film. Roman Mars (he of 99% Invisible podcast fame) chose Jaws as his fave film and it gave me a hankering to watch it again.

And indeed it is still a great film, even if it has dated a little. Some of it is a bit contrived, but it is still a great tale of one huge and smart shark who just wants to eat, stupid people who ignore warnings about giant people-eating sharks, and the hero who wants to save the stupid people by killing the shark.

The film really gets going when Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, and Robert Shaw (who was apparently drunk most of the time on set) get on a boat and go huntin’ for the shark (the mechanical shark used in the film was nicknamed “Bruce”). It is tense the whole time and Roy Scheider’s reaction when he first see’s the shark up close is cinema gold, alng with the line “You’re gonna need a bigger boat!”, which was ad-libbed (story behind that here).

Steven did a great job of keeping the film tense, and there was never a dull or unnecessary moment in the film. The cinematography too is great.

The soundtrack too is fabs with the shark theme being one of the most iconic in all of cinema history. In fact I would rate it along with The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s theme) as being the best villain theme of all time, both by John Williams of course.

An excellent film to finish off the year, although I have one more film lined up as my final of the year…

Date watche: December 31st
Score: 9/10
Film count 2017: 147