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I Just Watched...

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On 3/11/2019 at 5:04 PM, LawrenceA said:

"The trouble with women started with Eve." Because she was the first woman.

Ok, that makes sense.  Deanna Durbin was causing lots of problems as Anne Terry.  Thanks!

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THE HAUNTING (1963) *Score: 4.75/10*

Starring: Julie Harris, Russ Tamblyn, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Fay Compton, Rosalie Crutchley, Lois Maxwell, Valentine Dyall. 

I had only seen the Netflix serial adaptation of this back in the fall, and was unaware this movie even existed until I randomly came across it. Side note: if you have never seen the Netflix series, I would definitely recommend giving it a try; the plot, acting, and characterization are all great. Although, one of the more unsettling aspects of it did not have to do with the actual haunting/house, but Henry Thomas' blue contacts that made him look like an alien. It'll freak you out, I promise. 

The plot surrounds Hill House, a magnificent 1800s mansion that is rumored to be haunted. Professor Markway (an avid believer in the supernatural) gathers a small group of people to stay in the house with him, in an attempt to hunt ghosts and prove that the house harbors some otherworldly presence(s). This group consists of the heir to the house, Luke, the bold and sarcastic bohemian, Theodora (Theo for short), and Eleanor (Nell), a neurotic with a craving for freedom. One of the more interesting events in the film, was Theo and Nell's relationship. I picked up on the fact (rather early on, I must say) that Theo was what one might call "inclined romantically towards the fairer sex." Granted, her attraction towards Nell was unrequited, but the lesbian undertones (or, "overtones," I should say, as Theo was not very discreet) were an unexpected, yet interesting subplot. It did seem like they kept having all these little "lover's quarrels" though, throughout the film. 

As much as I wanted to thoroughly enjoy this one, I think I went in with too high of expectations. That being said, I enjoyed only one of the characters. Claire Bloom's "Theo" was the most likable out of the 4 "ghostbusters," in my opinion. Dr. Markway seemed like a rather pretentious idiot, and Nell was completely unlikable, and I did not sympathize with her in the slightest. I wouldn't buy this movie to have in my collection, but I might re-watch it again sometime in the future. 

Image result for the haunting 1963

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Nightkill (1980)  -  5/10

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Muddled thriller featuring Jaclyn Smith as the unhappy housewife of Mike Connors, an obnoxious jerk whose company develops biological warfare weapons. Jaclyn has been having an affair with her husband's second-in-command, James Franciscus. Soon one of the men is dead (or is he?), and the other may soon follow, as the increasingly upset Jaclyn tries to keep up appearances, which is made more difficult by the arrival of nosy police detective Robert Mitchum. Also featuring Fritz Weaver and Sybil Danning. The story doesn't quite hold together, and when the eventual scheme of the chief culprit is revealed, it's more than a little far fetched. However, there are some moments that work, Smith is good at playing scared, Weaver seems to have fun as a lecherous lawyer, and Mitchum is always worth watching. Speaking of which, this was my 100th Robert Mitchum movie.

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I went to the BFI Southbank in London to see Fred Zinnemann's High Noon (1952) on the big screen and was not disappointed.  I had seen it three times before but always on television.  It is truly one of my favourite westerns.  It plays out in real time with clocks as a constant reminder that Will Kane's date with destiny is getting closer and closer.  I had forgotten that Tex Ritter sings the ballad at the film's opening.  Somehow I had Frankie Lane's version burned into my brain which is probably from listening to my father's Hell Bent For Leather album about a thousand times as a kid.

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Floyd Crosby's cinematography is incredible.  Both Grace Kelly in her film debut and Katy Jurado in her American film debut are absolutely stunning.  I was particularly impressed with Kelly in what could have been a thankless clinging vine part.  This is my favourite Otto Kruger film.  He is great as Judge Percy Mettrick but because he skiddaddles so early in the film it is perhaps hard to remember him well.  And this time around Lloyd Bridges really impressed me.  Looking at the film now as an older man iI do see Bridges as the kid everyone keeps reminding him that he is.  When I viewed the film a kid this impression was lost on me.  His fist fight with Coop is really well staged.  I loved the shots where Coop is almost suspended in mid air after receiving a punch before collapsing.  And who would beat a man to a pulp just before he has to face four gunslingers!?

Gary Cooper is just sensational to watch on the big screen.  Every bit of self doubt is there to see which is perhaps unusual in the formulaic western.  Screenwriter Carl Foreman has given every towns person who deserts Will Kane in his time of need a good reason for doing so.  The BFI programme notes recalled how much John Wayne and Howard Hawks hated High Noon.  It inspired them to make Rio Bravo (1959) as a result.  Their reasoning was that no seasoned Marshal would snivel around town looking for help (against four gunslingers!) and that everyone in the town would have jumped at the chance to help him.  Zinnemann's response in an interview with Jon Tuska for the book The Filming of the West was ...

"I maintain, and will always maintain, that it's perfectly valid for a man who finds himself in a desperate situation to ask for help.  And the fact that he's denied the help begins to work on his attitude.  He becomes disillusioned or he grows up, or whatever else we want to say.  But the fact that in his hour of need everybody is on the fence for one reason of another, and in the end he finds himself alone, that's really the crux of the story."

And I would add that given the chance to run off with Grace Kelly whom you've only just married (and she's a Quaker so they probably haven't even ...) or face four desperadoes alone ... well, that would give anyone pause for thought.  

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1 hour ago, Bogie56 said:

Both Grace Kelly in her film debut

Somebody hasn't seen Fourteen Hours. ;)

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45 minutes ago, Fedya said:

Somebody hasn't seen Fourteen Hours. ;)

Correct.  I was going by the programme notes I received.  "It was Grace Kelly's first screen appearance, and Katy Jurado, who was 25 years of age then and had appeared in some 27 Mexican films ...."

The information for the BFI programme notes was from Jon Tuska's book The Filming of the West published in 1976.  This was before the imdb and even Ephraim Katz so getting the release dates and filmographies of stars was not as exact.

It should have said Grace Kelly's first substantial film role.  Not that this was the case here but how many times have we seen films with "And Introducing ..." when the person in question has already been in many films.

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9 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Screaming Mimi (1958)  -  5/10

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Weak thriller featuring Philip Carey as a reporter who becomes interested in a series of knife attacks that are linked to mysterious dancer Anita Ekberg. Also featuring Gypsy Rose Lee, Harry Townes, Linda Cherney, Romney Brent, Alan Gifford, and Vaughn Taylor. This one's been discussed recently, so all I'll add is that 1) Ekberg is in top form, and 2) the rest of the movie is pretty weak.

They would have been better following the novel a little closer.

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5 hours ago, Bogie56 said:

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I went to the BFI Southbank in London to see Fred Zinnemann's High Noon (1952) on the big screen and was not disappointed.  I had seen it three times before but always on television.  It is truly one of my favourite westerns.  It plays out in real time with clocks as a constant reminder that Will Kane's date with destiny is getting closer and closer.  I had forgotten that Tex Ritter sings the ballad at the film's opening.  Somehow I had Frankie Lane's version burned into my brain which is probably from listening to my father's Hell Bent For Leather album about a thousand times as a kid.

maxresdefault.jpg

Floyd Crosby's cinematography is incredible.  Both Grace Kelly in her film debut and Katy Jurado in her American film debut are absolutely stunning.  I was particularly impressed with Kelly in what could have been a thankless clinging vine part.  This is my favourite Otto Kruger film.  He is great as Judge Percy Mettrick but because he skiddaddles so early in the film it is perhaps hard to remember him well.  And this time around Lloyd Bridges really impressed me.  Looking at the film now as an older man iI do see Bridges as the kid everyone keeps reminding him that he is.  When I viewed the film a kid this impression was lost on me.  His fist fight with Coop is really well staged.  I loved the shots where Coop is almost suspended in mid air after receiving a punch before collapsing.  And who would beat a man to a pulp just before he has to face four gunslingers!?

Gary Cooper is just sensational to watch on the big screen.  Every bit of self doubt is there to see which is perhaps unusual in the formulaic western.  Screenwriter Carl Foreman has given every towns person who deserts Will Kane in his time of need a good reason for doing so.  The BFI programme notes recalled how much John Wayne and Howard Hawks hated High Noon.  It inspired them to make Rio Bravo (1959) as a result.  Their reasoning was that no seasoned Marshal would snivel around town looking for help (against four gunslingers!) and that everyone in the town would have jumped at the chance to help him.  Zinnemann's response in an interview with Jon Tuska for the book The Filming of the West was ...

"I maintain, and will always maintain, that it's perfectly valid for a man who finds himself in a desperate situation to ask for help.  And the fact that he's denied the help begins to work on his attitude.  He becomes disillusioned or he grows up, or whatever else we want to say.  But the fact that in his hour of need everybody is on the fence for one reason of another, and in the end he finds himself alone, that's really the crux of the story."

And I would add that given the chance to run off with Grace Kelly whom you've only just married (and she's a Quaker so they probably haven't even ...) or face four desperadoes alone ... well, that would give anyone pause for thought.  

Thanks for the great review, Bogie. It must have been great to see a classic like High Noon on the big screen and hear the audience reaction to it.

Just as you selected Otto Kruger's portrait from a memorable cast of character players, I have always found Katy Jurado's combination of independence, pride and earthy sensuality quite mesmerizing in the film. Quite frankly, I thought Will Kane really lost out when his relationship with her went sour for some reason.

Cooper, by the way, had thrown out his back and was in great pain during the wedding scene when he had to lift Grace Kelly. His daughter, Maria (who was on the High Noon set), always watches his face during that scene, without a hint of discomfort, and regards this "nothing moment" to the rest of us as one of his best acted moments in the film.

Cooper admired the realism of High Noon, in a later statement bemoaning the phoniness of most westerns when someone gets hit with a couple of bullets and still keeps going or beats up someone after taking a bad beating himself. Coop also did his own stunt work in the fistfight with Lloyd Bridges (a scene that had to be partially re-shot when little Beau Bridges, hiding nearby, burst out in laughter after he saw his Dad get hit).

Gary Cooper's courage was not just on screen during the making of High Noon. The following is from Gary Cooper American Hero, by Jeffrey Meyers, in reference to the pressure that screenwriter Carl Foreman was experiencing during the preparation of High Noon due to his Communist past:

 

During this crisis Cooper, like his father, revealed the liberal strain in his conservative thought. In a fine consistency between screen role and real character, Cooper - as if to atone for his appearance as a "friendly" witness (in the 1947 HUAC hearings) - showed considerable moral courage by supporting Foreman.

By the time of the second HUAC investigation of 1951, Foreman had "set him straight" about many crucial political matters and he now had a much clearer  understanding of how HUAC had persecuted innocent people and destroyed many lives. Pat Neal, a liberal, also helped persuade Cooper to support Foreman. "You mustn't let him down," she said, "You must help him when he's in trouble."

Foreman wrote that in 1951, the most difficult time to support an accused and then blacklisted writer, Cooper "put his whole career on the block in the face of the McCarthyite witch hunters who were terrorizing Hollywood."  After Foreman was subpoenaed in April "Cooper was immediately subjected to a violent underground pressure campaign aimed at getting him to leave the film, and he was told that unless he agreed to do so, he, too, would be blacklisted in Hollywood for the rest of his life. But Cooper believed in me. He saw it through."

After Foreman had testified in September and been abandoned by (producer Stanley) Kramer, Cooper called Foreman at home and asked him how he could help. When Foreman said he was going to form his own production company, Cooper replied "Count me in - now. Use my name. I mean it." And he publicly announced, "I like and admire Carl Foreman and am delighted to be in business with him." Cooper was then so popular that even Hedda Hopper couldn't crucify him.

But Louis Mayer and Walter Wanger warned Cooper that he might never get another decent role if he didn't back off. Foreman later explained that their partnership was also "prevented by the pressure of the Hollywood blacklist. Cooper came under severe attack from John Wayne and Ward Bond, as well as others in the so-called Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, as well as Warner Bros. and various right wing publications, and I released him from his commitment in order to avoid damage to his career."

Realizing that they could never establish a business in this hostile climate, Foreman told Cooper, "I know. Nobody can hold up against this . . . not even you." Though Cooper was finally forced to admit defeat, the grateful Foreman declared, "He was the only big one who tried. The only one."

high-noon-1952-gary-cooper-alone-review.

A man alone. I suspect that Cooper must have felt that way, at times, with the pressure exerted upon him to drop out of High Noon.

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5 hours ago, Bogie56 said:

I went to the BFI Southbank in London to see Fred Zinnemann's High Noon (1952) on the big screen and was not disappointed.  I had seen it three times before but always on television.  It is truly one of my favourite westerns.

 It plays out in real time with clocks as a constant reminder that Will Kane's date with destiny is getting closer and closer. 

Gary Cooper is just sensational to watch on the big screen.  Every bit of self doubt is there to see which is perhaps unusual in the formulaic western.

1. Great review and I am jealous.

2. Any chance Theresa May was sitting a few rows back with a headscarf and some JACKIE O glasses, "amen-ing" and feeling a real sense of solidarity with Coop in his desperate, un-aided fight against the always ticking clock?

3. I have to admit, HIGH NOON is not a favorite of mine, BUT you make a great point- seeing a film on the big screen and in the dimensions it was meant to be seen (and in its original quality) can absolutely open your eyes to its strengths that you might miss on a small screen viewing of a blurry or cropped print. I know when I went to see JAWS on the big screen, I came away EVEN MORE impressed by ROBERT SHAW's work in the movie than I already was, because when Quint is 20 feet tall, WOW, it amplifies everything about the performance.

4. somebody already mentioned 14 HOURS as GRACE KELLY'S debut, if you haven't seen it- check it out. it's a cool little film from the early fifties people don't talk about enough.

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2 hours ago, TomJH said:

But Louis Mayer and Walter Wanger warned Cooper that he might never get another decent role if he didn't back off. Foreman later explained that their partnership was also "prevented by the pressure of the Hollywood blacklist. Cooper came under severe attack from John Wayne and Ward Bond, as well as others in the so-called Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, as well as Warner Bros. and various right wing publications, and I released him from his commitment in order to avoid damage to his career."

Thanks.  I suspected that it was just not the 'film' that had John Wayne and Howard Hawks so up-in-arms and publicly denouncing it.

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13 minutes ago, Bogie56 said:

Thanks.  I suspected that it was just not the 'film' that had John Wayne and Howard Hawks so up-in-arms and publicly denouncing it.

The strange thing about it all, though, is that Wayne agreed to accept Cooper's Oscar for him if the latter won the award (which, of course, he did). Wayne (what a hypocrite!) even made a comment on the AA stage at the time, I believe, about why didn't his agent get him a crack at the High Noon role. I could be corrected on this statement, as it is a vague memory, but I'm pretty sure I'm right. But, if he did make the statement, why would he after his war on Foreman?

The pixs below of the two of them was listed as being taken in Acapulco. Cooper was filming Blowing Wild in Mexico in 1953, the reason he wouldn't be in LA during the Oscars. I suspect these pictures of the two of them together must have been taken about the time that the Duke said he'd pick up the award for him during the ceremony, if need be.

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37 minutes ago, Bogie56 said:

Thanks.  I suspected that it was just not the 'film' that had John Wayne and Howard Hawks so up-in-arms and publicly denouncing it.

and yet the WEIRD FREAKING THING IS THAT JOHN WAYNE ACCEPTED THE OSCAR ON COOPER'S BEHALF AT THE CEREMONY!

Like seriously?

I have no idea if Cooper was okay with this, but this was a COUP D'ETAT of A MOMENT on a par with the whole JOAN CRAWFORD PROXYING FOR ANNE BANCROFT in 63.

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Showdown at Boot Hill (1958)  -  6/10

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Minor western drama featuring Charles Bronson as a deputy marshal and bounty hunter who, after killing his latest target, faces opposition from the locals who liked the man. Bronson is forced to remain in town while trying to find some way to validate his target, while the townsfolk fight him at every turn. Also featuring Fintan Meyler, John Carradine, Carole Matthews, Robert Hutton, Joe McGuinn, Paul Maxey, Thomas Browne Henry, and Argentina Brunetti. Bronson enjoys one of his earliest leading roles, and it's a bit more complex than many of his. I don't recall any other film that addressed Bronson's height (he was 5'8''), and his relative shortness is referenced several times. He also gets an off-beat romance with Meyler, who plays a waitress whose mother is the chief "entertainer" at the saloon. I liked Carradine as a friendly barber/undertaker, as well.

 

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The Sign of Zorro (1958)  -  6/10

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A feature cobbled together from multiple episodes of the Disney-produced television series starring Guy Williams as Don Diego de la Vega, who fights for justice in 1820's California as the masked hero/outlaw Zorro. Also featuring Henry Calvin, Gene Sheldon, Romney Brent, Britt Lomond, George J. Lewis, Tony Russel, Lisa Gaye, Nestor Paiva, and John Dehner. The plot is a mess thanks to trying to mash several episodes' plots into a 90 minute movie, but the action is still very good, particularly the sword fighting. IMDb lists this as a 1958 film, Leonard Maltin in his intro stated that it's a 1959 release, and a book I have lists it as from 1960.

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The Square Peg (1958)  -  6/10

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British comedy with Norman Wisdom as a bumbling laborer who gets drafted, along with his boss (Edward Chapman), into the army during WWII. The two struggle through training and then end up behind enemy lines, where the French Resistance makes use of Norman's resemblance to a Nazi general. Also featuring Honor Blackman, Campbell Singer, Hattie Jacques, Brian Worth, Terence Alexander, John Warwick, and Victor Beaumont. I was unfamiliar with Wisdom, who starred in a series of comedies throughout the 50's and 60's. The laughs for me were few and far between, but I've read that many really like these movies, so your mileage may vary. Oliver Reed is supposedly among the background players, but I didn't seen him.

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47 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

I was unfamiliar with Wisdom, who starred in a series of comedies throughout the 50's and 60's. The laughs for me were few and far between, but I've read that many really like these movies, so your mileage may vary.

Wisdom's movies were shown in Communist Albania, probably the most repressive of the European Communist regimes, because the Communist authorities thought Wisdom's characters getting one over on the boss were making a trenchant point about capitalism.  Audiences didn't see it that way, and flocked to his movies in droves, and showing their appreciation for him when he was able to visit after the fall of Communism.

 

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Teenage Cave Man (1958)  -  3/10 

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"It is like writing history with lightning!" - Woodrow Wilson

The 28th President of the United States said the above about a movie, but probably not this one. Star Robert Vaughn later referred to this as the greatest motion picture ever made. Or maybe the worst motion picture ever made. It was definitely one of the two. Whichever it was, I am forbidden by the Law from telling you any more about it. Just know that the ending will change your life...forever!

teencaveman6.jpg

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

Teenage Cave Man (1958)  -  3/10 

51594_1_front.jpg

"It is like writing history with lightning!" - Woodrow Wilson

The 28th President of the United States said the above about a movie, but probably not this one. Star Robert Vaughn later referred to this as the greatest motion picture ever made. Or maybe the worst motion picture ever made. It was definitely one of the two. Whichever it was, I am forbidden by the Law from telling you any more about it. Just know that the ending will change your life...forever!

teencaveman6.jpg

Looking at your writeup, Lawrence, if forced to watch this film, all I would yell is "UNCLE!"

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The Two-Headed Spy (1958)  -  7/10

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WWII spy thriller with Jack Hawkins as a British agent who has been undercover in the German army since WWI. He proves to be an invaluable source of info for the Allies, but it becomes increasingly more difficult to maintain his cover, especially after he begins a relationship with singer and fellow spy Gia Scala, who is also pined for by Hawkins' junior officer (Erik Schumann). Also featuring Alexander Knox, Felix Aylmer, Donald Pleasence, Walter Hudd, Laurence Naismith, Martin Benson, Bernard Fox, and Michael Caine. Hawkins anchors the proceedings with a solid performance. Scala is lovely, and Knox is hissable as the chief Gestapo agent. Michael Caine is credited as appearing as another Gestapo agent but I didn't notice him. There's a particularly horrific interrogation scene, with much barbarity implied although not shown directly.

 

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Up the Creek (1958)  -  6/10

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British military comedy starring David Tomlinson as a bumbling Royal Navy officer with an interest in rocketry who gets assigned to command a ship in the "Mothball Fleet", where they send the ships and crew that don't quite cut the mustard, but can't be fired or decommissioned for one reason or another. Tomlinson discovers an illegal money-making scheme run by the ship's CPO (Peter Sellers). Also featuring Liliane Sottane, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Vera Day, Lionel Jeffries, Michael Goodliffe, Peter Collingwood, David Lodge, Sam Kydd, and Michael Ripper. I found this marginally amusing, but not worth the effort of seeking out unless one has a particular interest in the milieu or the cast. 

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9 hours ago, TomJH said:

The strange thing about it all, though, is that Wayne agreed to accept Cooper's Oscar for him if the latter won the award (which, of course, he did). Wayne (what a hypocrite!) even made a comment on the AA stage at the time, I believe, about why didn't his agent get him a crack at the High Noon role. I could be corrected on this statement, as it is a vague memory, but I'm pretty sure I'm right. But, if he did make the statement, why would he after his war on Foreman?

The pixs below of the two of them was listed as being taken in Acapulco. Cooper was filming Blowing Wild in Mexico in 1953, the reason he wouldn't be in LA during the Oscars. I suspect these pictures of the two of them together must have been taken about the time that the Duke said he'd pick up the award for him during the ceremony, if need be.

a7909bba900ae0f385a5fd9fe4dff8f2.jpg

 

I'm curious about Coop's ballet shoes.

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4 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Teenage Cave Man (1958)  -  3/10 

Whichever it was, I am forbidden by the Law from telling you any more about it. Just know that the ending will change your life...forever!

I'm open on Channel D, however, and so was MST3K (in arguably one of their better episodes):

 

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Violent Playground (1958)  -  7/10

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British crime drama with Stanley Baker as cop begrudgingly assigned to the juvenile division. He soon becomes enmeshed in the family drama of the Murphys, a poor family of siblings. Young twins Mary and Patrick (Brona & Fergal Boland) are already dabbling in petty crime at the age of 7, while older brother Johnny (David McCallum) is a gang leader and serial arsonist. Their older sister (Anne Heywood) works too much to keep them in line, so Baker tries to help. Also featuring Peter Cushing as a kindly priest, John Slater, Clifford Evans, Moultrie Kelsall, Michael Chow, and Tsai Chin. The performances from Baker, McCallum and Cushing are all noteworthy, and the finale is still chilling, involving 

 a prolonged stand-off at a school where McCallum, armed with a machine gun, has taken children hostage.
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Toxic Zombies (1980)  -  2/10

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Zero budget horror tale about the Feds crop-dusting a backwoods marijuana field with a toxic chemical which causes the pot farmers to go homicidal and crave human flesh. Another government agent (Charles McCrann, who also wrote and directed the movie), unaware of any of this, takes his wife (Beverly Shapiro) on a camping trip to the same area, with mayhem following. Also featuring Dennis Helfend, Kevin Hanlon, Judith Brown, Pat Kellis, Roger Miles, and John Amplas. This is dumb and amateurish, with bad performances and poor craftsmanship. It's reasonably amusing as so-bad-it's-funny material, though. John Amplas was the only cast member I recognized, as he'd been in a few George Romero films, including starring in Martin (1977). Shot in Pennsylvania, and originally released as Bloodeaters and also known as Forest of Fear. I watched this one on YouTube, from an uploaded VHS recording of a showing on Commander USA's Groovie Movies. The uploader kindly left all of the commercials intact, so it was fun looking at some from 30 years ago.

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