Fourteen Hours

This is a 1951 film noir drama about a young chap who wants to jump from the 15th floor of a hotel because life sucks, and the cop who tries to talk him off the ledge.

I had not heard of most of the actors, although upon researching this film I found that they were all significant film and TV actors in the day and beyond, just not up there with The Kirkster or Elizabeth Taylor or whatnot. Grace Kelly made her film debut in this with a minor role.

The young chap was played by Richard Basehart who would go onto play Wilton Knight of Knight Rider fame, although he was killed off in the pilot episode. His voice lived on though in the intro…

The cop was played by a fellow named Paul Douglas who had a decent career in radio, TV, and film but nothing as significant as Knight Rider. He died aged 52.

Barbara Bel Geddes played the fiance of the young chap. She had a role in Vertigo, and was Miss Ellie Ewing in Dallas.

Debra Paget played a sympathetic onlooker on the street (everyone else was waiting for the young chap to jump, including a bunch of comedy relief taxi drivers who placed bets on when he would jump). She would go on to play Elvis’ love interest in his film debut in Love Me Tender. She is also the only main cast member who is still alive, she is 86 now. Elvis apparently took a liking to her…

From Wikipedia: During production of Love Me Tender (1956), Elvis Presley became smitten with Paget, who in 1997 claimed the singer even proposed marriage. At the time, however, the media reported that she was romantically linked with Howard Hughes and nothing came of this. A 1956 article quoted Paget’s comments about Hughes:

I was in love with Howard for two years, and I don’t care who knows it… I was never alone with him in the whole two years. Mother was always with us… I haven’t seen Howard for a long time now, because I’m a one-man woman, and I’ve got to have a one-woman man… But I’ll always remember Howard with fondness.

Agnes Moorehead played the young chap’s mother. She appeared in Citizen Kane (her first film) and had a very long and successful career. She played Samantha’s mother in the TV series Bewitched, she was fab in that.

The film itself was decent. It moved a long at a good pace and despite mostly taking place on a hotel ledge or in the hotel room it worked well. The acting was pretty good on the whole. It was nominated for an Academy Award, but did not win anything (An American in Paris won best picture).

Events for the film were closely based on an actual event in New York in 1938 which had a tragic ending. According to Wikipedia the film too was going to have a tragic ending, but due to the daughter of the Fox president killing herself by jumping from the roof of the Fox West Coast Building, the ending was changed (two endings were filmed). As in the film the cop tried for fourteen hours to talk the man down, and was almost successful until a photographer interfered (read the Wiki article).

This is not an essential film to watch, but I found it to be a decent watch.

Date watched: September 14th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2019: 25

Casino Royale

James wanted to watch a Bond film in the weekend, so he chose this one as he has not seen it yet.

I have seen this a couple of times before at least, with my last post about it way back in 2012. So here is what I wrote that time:

I saw this a few years back for the first time and decided to watch it again to see how well it has stood up after seeing most of the older Bond movies.

And I was quite impressed. Daniel Craig was as good as I remember and the rest of the film was much more polished, mature and action-like than any Bond film before it, but pretty much minus the camp Bond humour. That though did not matter too much, this seemed more like a proper action/thriller/spy film that can hold it’s own against the Jason Bourne and Tom Cruise flicks that could have easily wiped out Bond if he did not get up with the times.

Hopefully Daniel Craig does a few more Bond films.

I am in agreeance with myself on what I wrote, but I don’t agree with my score of 8.5 out of 10, it was a tad too generous. There were a few long scenes where the story slowed down just a bit too much and I was longing for some action sequences. The poker game for example dragged on a bit which could have been shortened or livened up a bit with a shootout at some point. And the romance storyline in the third act, which seemed like it was tacked on, was kind of dull… it too needed a shootout scene or at least a car chase somewhere.

But these gripes aside it was still a good Bond film, and solidified Daniel Craig as a very worthy Bond.

Date watched: August 3rd
Score: 7.5/10
James’ score: 7.5/10
Film count 2019: 22

Die Hard 4.0

I found this in my collection and thought it would be good to see a dumb action flick again.

It is pretty much as I remember it, full of preposterous but entertaining action sequences, slick cinematography, nasty villains (some French for some reason), and that nutty jet fighter scene.

This is not the kind of film one writes long posts for, no need to.

I am now considering what my final film for the year will be, a tough choice.

Date watched: December 30th
Score: 7.5/10
Action-O-meter: 9/10
Film count 2018: 91

The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins

This is a 1970 short documentary by Les Blank about Lightnin’ Hopkins, a blues guitarist from Texas.

Les just follows Lightnin’ around as he does his thing, and films him singing the blues. There is no narration at all, just Lightnin’ talking about what the blues means to him, and tells the occasional story. One story he told was of his car breaking down at the side of a road in North Carolina. A policeman turns up and tells him he can’t be parked there, but Lightnin’ says the car can’t move. The policeman takes him to the town butcher, who is also the local judge. Upon hearing his story (with Lightnin’ getting a bit sassy), the judge fines him $500 ($3500 in today’s money) on the spot. Lightnin’ laughed it all off after telling the story, and said black men should never go to North Carolina.

There is great footage of people going about their own business in the dusty old town they live in. There is also footage at a rodeo, and at a BBQ where Lightnin’ entertains.

From Uncut: Although initially keen on the idea, Lightnin’ Hopkins soon tired of the process of documentary film-making. After playing ten songs for Blank and his camera, after only one day’s filming, Hopkins ordered Blank back to California. Whereupon, with the camera off, the men began playing cards. Blank lost, and lost again. The more money he lost to his subject, in fact, the more Hopkins began to see the virtue of keeping the young documentarian around.

Very simple film making, but it is fascinating to watch, and has plenty of blues.

Date watched: December 21st
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 85

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

Tetro

Today’s film review is in pirate speak, for no particular reason. Aye.

’tis a 2009 film starrin’ Vincent Gallo, ‘n directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

’twas filmed in Argentina ‘n be a U.S./Argentina/Spain co-production wit’ a cast o’ mostly Argentinian actors, along wit’ Vincent ‘n Alden Ehrenreich, who I could nah place ’til th’ end credits. Both o’ them, along wit’ th’ rest o’ th’ cast were mighty good.

Th’ cinematography too was excellent, mostly filmed in glorious black ‘n white. Th’ scenes taken in th’ Patagonia mountains were beautiful. ‘n th’ tale itself was reasonably simple, but multi-layered, ‘n told th’ tale o’ a difficult family relationship well. Thar was a good endin’ too, quite unexpected, although unlike many films o’ th’ ilk it went fer th’ safe endin’.

Alden Ehrenreich were bein’ great in his role, this bein’ his first film aft bein’ discovered by Steven Spielberg. While watchin’ this ’twas hard nah t’ reckon ye were watchin’ a young Leonardo Decaprio, he looks kind o’ like ‘im ‘n had a similar actin’ style.

A mighty good, but nah great film I would say. I would recommend watchin’ this wit’ a good white wine, ‘n a nice selection o’ cheese.

Lookin’ at Vincent’s website I see that ye can buy some rather pricey booty.

Translation by Pirate Monkeyness.

Date watched: August 4th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 52

American Made

I will pretty much watch anything with the Cruiser, the guy knows how to make himself look good on film, and the stories he tells are good with a large Coke and plenty of potato chips.

This is very loosely based on the true story of Barry Seal, a pilot who got himself involved in smuggling all kinds of stuff for Central and South American drug lords and dictators.

What the film spends most of the time on is convincing us that being a crafty pilot smuggler is damn cool because you can buy anything you want, people will love you, and the law cannot touch you. And to top it off the CIA is helping you do all of this, so it’s all good, no need to feel guilty about any of it. Not only that, but the government right up to Olly North, and even Ronno Reagan himself, were ordering the CIA what to do in their campaign to rid South America of dirty commies. They didn’t come off looking so good.

In the story, as in real life, Barry was assassinated, while the CIA, Olly, and Ronno all got off scot-free, and went on to dream up the Iran-Contra affair (which didn’t work either).

So, what I have read about the real goings-on, and what this film portrayed, showed that Tom made Barry look too good (Barry was a large fellow too). He was not some outlaw hero who stuck it to the man, he was just a greedy criminal with a licence to ill, although he was quite brave to do some of the things he did.

The real Barry was at one point one of the richest men in America with over $60 million big ones, although Tom himself is worth $550 million in today’s money (which back in the eighties was over $200 million). Tommo is 15th on the list of rich celebs, with Stevo Spielberg at number one, worth $3.7 billion.

As a film it was pure entertainment. It was well made with some good action sequences here and there, some funny bits, and of course the Cruiser being his usual charming self. There were a few ficticious scenes added in for extra laughs or gasps, such as Bazza landing a plane on a suburban street, getting out of the plane covered in cocaine, then handing a kid huge amounts of cash to a kid for the damage caused to his house, then another bundle of cash for his bike, which he then speeds away on.

We did not at any point in the film get to see Tom running…disappointing, but the bike scene was close enough.

Another purely entertaining Tom Cruise film, not quite up there with Mission Impossible, but still well worth a watch.

And here is Tom running…

Date watched: August 2nd
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 50