Slaughter’s Big Rip Off

Browsing for films on YouTube I came across this film, which as it turns out is another American International Pictures release. It was made in 1973 and features the acting talents of Jim Brown, with a soundtrack by James Brown. It also stars Ed McMahon as a drug lord.

It is pretty typical 1970’s B-grade fare with lots of action, cardboard acting, scenes where nothing much happens, TV-style directing, large collars, mustaches, and attitude. Some of it was just plain funny, especially a scene involving Slaughter being attacked by kung-fu assassins.

Some of it was quite violent, especially a scene at the beginning of the film where we see a character (played by George Gaynes, aka Lieutenant Lassard of Police Academy fame…read his bio, he had quite a life) on the receiving end of a headshot by a hitman shooting a machine gun from a low flying biplane. For the day this must have been quite shocking.

Jim Brown was an American Rugby player before he turned to acting, and quite a successful one too. This film was made seven years after he retired from sports, but he was obviously still in good shape. He had plenty of opportunities to show off his physique, mostly in scenes that involved some lady friends (his character had a girlfriend, but he was not very faithful to her).

Jim in action.
Jim in gun action (different film).
Jim these days.

Also in the film was Scatman Crothers, which is always a pleasure to see. He was the voice of Hong Kong Phooey don’t you know?!

The seventies fashions in this film were only average. The best dressed character, apart from Scatman of course, was “Joe Creole” who was a smooth-talkin’ pimp.

Scatman knows how to wear a hat.
Purple is my thang!

Ed McMahon did have some stylish sunglasses though, and the shirt is not too bad either…

Ed with the film’s hitman.

This is actually a sequel to the original Slaughter film that came out a year earlier, so I’ll have to check that out too. Hopefully it is as much fun as this one.

Fave lines in the film (from IMDB):

Slaughter: [Slaughter’s girl is wound up about him getting hurt] Now, you gettin’ all wired up ain’t gonna help nothing… So why don’t you go back on outside, and give the customers another look at your pretty face?
Marcia: You know, that’s what gets me about you, Slaughter… You’re so goddammed cool!
[She storms out]

Slaughter: [to his girl] I’m Slaughter, baby… The baddest cat that ever walked the earth… And besides, I’m gonna do it to them before they do it to me… You can bet your money on that.

Date watched: October 12th
Score: 7.5/10
Seventies-O-fashion score: 6/10
Film count 2018: 62

Youngblood

This is a 1978 film made by American International Pictures, who made quite a few blaxploitation films, including Scream Blacula Scream.

The story centres around “Youngblood”, a teenager who gets into trouble at school when he is caught with a handgun. He then gets involved in a street gang that has a beef with a local drug dealer after one of the gang dies of an overdose, so they decide to bring him down. What they don’t know, and Youngblood doesn’t know, is that Youngblood’s seemingly upstanding older brother is one of the leaders of the drug ring.

There is a little more to it, but really the story is nothing new or particularly engaging. The cinematography and directing are nothing flash, but it is obviously a film made on small budget. The acting though is fine, and there are a few familiar faces in the cast. The soundtrack is by War, and this is made clear to us right from the first opening credits, and is the first thing you see in the end credits. Click here to listen to the title song.

The film ends with the following freeze frame, where we have time to ponder what was to become of Youngblood. Freeze frames are a cheap way to end a budget film really. Instead of neatly tying up all of the loose ends and sub-plots, a freeze frame which lasts 30 seconds or so (as this one did) gives us time to forget all that and make up our own ending.

Not a great film, but overall it was watchable, and it is always fascinating to see 70’s America (in this case it was Watts in Los Angeles). I always marvel at the size of many of the cars back then, they were huge abominations, and the fashions of the day were superb.

“I got smarts and style!”
70's duds
“We got style!”
Date watched: October 7th
Score: 5/10
Film count 2018: 61

Life of Brian

This is one of my all-time fave films, and I have reviewed it three times already on this site, giving it a perfect score very time. I last watched it in June, 2016.

It is still just as funny as ever, and even though I know most of the jokes, almost word for word, it never gets old.

The entire cast was great, and it is always fun in a Python film seeing the Python members play all kinds of different characters. The supporting cast too were very good, including a cameo by Spike Milligan. A Kiwi actor by the name of Terrence Baylor played this memorable character…

And another character who was always funny was Mathias, played by Brian Young…

A few facts (from IMDB):

When Michael Palin as Pontius Pilate addressed the soldiers daring them to laugh, he was truly daring them. The soldier extras were ordered to stand there and not laugh, but not told what Palin was going to do. Palin, in fact, can barely stifle his own laughter when saying “Biggus Dickus” in front of the soldier asked if he finds the name “risible.”

Spike Milligan was on holiday in Tunisia while the film was being shot. When the Python team realized he was nearby, they offered him a part in the film.

Six cast members played forty characters.

This film would not have been made at all if it was not for George Harrison who helped finance the film. The world needs more Georges.

Date watched: October 6th
Score: 10/10
Film count 2018: 60

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