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CAPTAIN AMERICA (3/10)

 

The late 1970's saw a superhero boom on both the big and small screen. "The Incredible Hulk", "Wonder Woman" "The Six Million Dollar Man" and "The Bionic Woman" were all hits on tv, while SUPERMAN was making box office gold. "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "Dr. Strange" were less successful tv endeavors, as was 1979's CAPTAIN AMERICA.

 

For some reason, the producers opted to jettison most of the backstory from the decades old comic book, instead having Steve Rogers be an ex-marine caught up in corporate and covert intrigue. He's approached by a group led by Len Birman and Heather Menzies who have a "super steroid" developed by Steve's father capable of making a man nearly superhumanly strong and fast. Rogers takes the formula and the moniker Captain America to do costumed battle against bad guys led by Steve Forrest and Lance Le Gault. Future soap opera queen Robin Mattson shows up as a damsel in distress.

 

Terrible dialogue, wooden acting and some of the worst ADR ever mar this bland and misbegotten attempt. Much of the second half is taken up with ridiculous, Evel Knievel-style motorcycle stunts, since this Cap has a tricked out superbike.

 

Finally, Reb Brown stars as the title hero, and while he fills out the physical requirements of the role quite nicely, he comes across as bored or lost most of the time, much like the viewer.

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The Glass Cage (1964) Director Antonio Santean written by Antonio Santean and John Hoyt, Stars Arlene Sax, John Hoyt (The Unfaithful, Brute Force, The Bribe, Trapped, Loan Shark, and The Big Combo) Bob Kelljan, and a cameo by Elisha Cook Jr. who of course has numerous Noir in his CV. 
 
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Very Noir-ish Mystery with some great experimental cinematography about two detectives trying to solve the murder of a local, what looks like Bunker Hill neighborhood business man. A nightmare sequence features the iconic Noir Bradley Building. Pleasantly surprised, the film was produced by Futuramic Productions whose only other efforts was Squad Car (1960) and Come Spy with Me (1967). Arlene Sax plays a beautiful but troubled woman living in a low rent rooming house who thinks she shot the intruder. A beatnik artist is the only witness. Sax later known as Arlene Martel, was a staple of 50s-60s TV. A 7/10 worth a watch for Sax/Martel fans.

 

A fuller review with screencaps here:

 

http://forums.tcm.com/index.php?/topic/35193-recently-watched-noir/?p=1175961

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The Manxman (1929)--Was Alfred Hitchcock's last silent movie--Is basically a ridiculous melodrama that could be solved if two sentences were ever said--but film is drawn out into full blown tragedy.  Is worth seeing for Anny Ondras' performance (she starred in Hitchcock's first talkie, Blackmail (1929)).  She shows acting ability in silent film that her sound debut didn't show off.  Hitchcock also manages to get some touches in that make the viewer think this might become a crime drama (in particular a long close-up of the knife cutting a wedding cake).  I saw it on another website--the video was excellent, but was NO soundtrack--no music or anything.  A 5/10 watch--to see the director finding his style, even in muck like this, & for the talent of a nearly forgotten actress.  TCM lists her as having made only three films; check Wikipedia--they list 39 films (including a 1935 German version of Dickens' "Little Dorrit").

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CAPTAIN AMERICA 2: DEATH TOO SOON (4/10)

 

After the first attempt in January failed to click with audiences, this follow up was released in November of the same year (1979) to equal indifference.

 

Reb Brown returns as the title hero, continuing on from the end of the last film. The government science group led by Len Birman still employs Cap to chase down threats to life and liberty. The specific threat this time is Miguel, played by Christopher Lee, a Carlos the Jackal type international terrorist who has kidnapped scientists to force them to make an immortality potion!

 

Heather Menzies role has been recast with a charming Connie Selleca. Also with William Lucking, Stanley Kamel, Ken Swofford and Lana Wood as Yolanda.

 

Cap still uses his super rocketcycle that launches out of the back of his custom 70's van. His costume is even more ridiculous, and his physics-defying shield is transparent plastic that he slams into his enemies with all the force of a Tupperware lid.

 

Released theatrically in Europe, this turkey is only a fraction better than the first, mainly due to the presence of Lee. It failed to launch the hoped for tv series, and Cap wouldn't return to screens until the awful 1989 feature.

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THE CONCORDE...AIRPORT '79 (4/10)

 

Fourth and final entry in the series that began in 1970. That first film helped kickstart the all-star big budget disaster trend in 70's cinema, and this final outing helps just as much at putting the final nails in the genre's coffin.

 

Alain Delon gets top billing as the captain of the title craft. With Susan Blakely and John Davidson as reporters, Robert Wagner as a crooked arms dealer, Sylvia Kristel as the head stewardess, Eddie Albert as the airline owner, Sybil Danning as his trophy wife, Avery Schreiber as a Soviet Olympic coach with a deaf daughter, Andrea Marcovicci as the oldest Russian Olympic gymnast ever, Mercedes McCambridge as her busybody chaperone, Cicely Tyson as a mother to a child desperately in need of a heart transplant, Nicolas Coster as the doctor to perform it, David Warner as the dieting flight engineer, Bibi Andersson as a prostitute, Jimmie Walker as a pot-smoking sax player, Charo as Margarita and Martha Raye as the woman who can't stay out of the bathroom (no, really).

 

Of course, George Kennedy costars as Patroni, the only character to appear in all four films. This time he has a larger part as co-pilot of the title passenger jet, on route from the US to Paris, as Wagner's evil arms dealer hatches numerous inept plans to bring down the craft and destroy incriminating evidence. The dialogue is trite and banal as usual, and the various relationships and mini-dramas amongst the bloated cast never rise above the mundane.

 

Keep your eyes open for an early appearance by Ed Begley Jr as Rescuer #1. Like many films of the era, the studio also cut together an extended version for tv broadcasts that added even more subplots and characters, played by the likes of Jose Ferrer, J.D. Cannon and Alan Fudge, but the version I watched was the original.

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LOL. I never got around to reading the book GREEN MANSIONS........I've heard its quite different than the movie version?

 

SPOILERS!

 

There is- to the best of my recollection- no romance between RIMA THE BIRDGIRL and the NARRATOR. Rima is about 4 feet tall and ugly and she is burned to death in the end.

 

Enjoy kids!

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SPOILERS!

 

There is- to the best of my recollection- no romance between RIMA THE BIRDGIRL and the NARRATOR. Rima is about 4 feet tall and ugly and she is burned to death in the end.

 

Enjoy kids!

 

Whhaat? But in the Classic Comic version, she's tall and beautiful. And I've been assured that the Classic Comics were almost word for word faithful to the book.  

 

...weren't they?.......

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Really remarkable detail on the artist's rendering of Notre Dame as well.

 

It looks to me as though the first "tier" (don't know the architectural term) is a bunch of "C" s, in the same font as the "C" in Classic Comics". Take a look.

 

c492995b-25ba-4d03-8cf1-5f00783e22a2.jpg

 

 

 

I picked "The Count of Monte Cristo" because I think the expression of astounded greed on the count's face is really funny. But anyway, the "C" in the word "Classics" looks like the design on the cathedral in the "Hunchback" cover.

Isn't it wonderful that we can discuss these serious important matters here?

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DRACULA (7/10)

 

This 1979 version of the Bram Stoker tale takes it's cue from the then-recent hit Broadway revival of the old Hamilton Deane & John Balderston play than from the original source. The emphasis is more on gothic romance than bloody horror.

 

The familiar tale has been reconfigured, with some characters changing drastically while others are dropped all together. Lucy is now the central female role, played ably by a fetching Kate Nelligan. Instead of being one of her suitors, Dr. Seward (Donald Pleasence) is now her father. The Mina character takes the secondary role held by Lucy in the book, and in this version, she's the daughter of Dr. Van Helsing. That iconic role is played by Laurence Olivier, looking very old and frail. Jonathan Harker, fiancee of Lucy and real estate agent to Dracula, is a bland Trevor Eve. The crazed Renfield acts as little more than an inept butler to Dracula, and is played by Tony Haygarth, who the previous year had played an especially detestable Nazi in the tv miniseries HOLOCAUST.

 

But the center of the film is Frank Langella as the title count. His performance made him a true superstar of the stage, and it translates fairly well to the big screen. His full lips, big dark eyes and thick head of blown dry hair make him the most overtly sexual of all the screen Draculas.

 

The production is nice to look at for the most part, but some scenes are a little too under lit. The sweeping John Williams score is suitably evocative. One romantic sequence using backprojected laserlight has the unfortunate effect of casting a disco vibe about the whole thing, suitable since directing duties went to SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER's John Badham. Olivier's performance is all over the place, at turns leaden then scenery-chewing, with a wandering accent to boot. His health was a serious issue at this time, so some understanding should be accorded. One shouldn't expect much in the way of scares or gore, with a few minor exceptions. The novel's unsavory subtexts regarding fear of immigrants and female sexuality are thankfully absent. All in all, suitable viewing on lonely nights for those with a darker taste in romance.

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SPOILERS!

 

There is- to the best of my recollection- no romance between RIMA THE BIRDGIRL and the NARRATOR. Rima is about 4 feet tall and ugly and she is burned to death in the end.

 

Enjoy kids!

 

 

LOL. Well, the movie stayed true to part of it........

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EAGLE'S WING (6/10)

 

British-made western stars Martin Sheen as a fur trapper and Sam Waterston as a Kiowa warrior both of whom are after a beautiful white horse named Eagle's Wing. Nice scenery and cinematography enliven the routine proceedings. With Harvey Keitel, John Castle, Stephane Audran and Claudio Brook as Sanchez.

 

Trivia sidenote: this was released the same year as APOCALYPSE NOW, the biggest starring role in Sheen's big screen career, and one which was originally cast with Keitel, who was fired shortly into production.

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SPOILERS!

 

There is- to the best of my recollection- no romance between RIMA THE BIRDGIRL and the NARRATOR. Rima is about 4 feet tall and ugly and she is burned to death in the end.

 

Enjoy kids!

 

I read GREEN MANSIONS in high school but I don't remember much about the book.

 

On the subject of books/stories that were sources of Audrey Hepburn movies, there was also no romance between writer character (who was the narrator) and Holly Golightly in Truman Capote's BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S .

One could infer that Capote himself was the narrator.

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I read GREEN MANSIONS in high school but I don't remember much about the book.

 

On the subject of books/stories that were sources of Audrey Hepburn movies, there was also no romance between writer character (who was the narrator) and Holly Golightly in Truman Capote's BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S .

One could infer that Capote himself was the narrator.

 

 

Yeah, well the narrator was gay (you had to read between the lines) That wouldnt work in 1961!

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I read GREEN MANSIONS in high school but I don't remember much about the book.

 

On the subject of books/stories that were sources of Audrey Hepburn movies, there was also no romance between writer character (who was the narrator) and Holly Golightly in Truman Capote's BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S .

One could infer that Capote himself was the narrator.

Now that you mention it, Truman Capote would have been far better as Rima The Bird Girl in GREEN MANSIONS than Audrey Hepburn.

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THE SIGNAL (6/10)

 

Arty indie 2014 SF film sees three MIT students on a road trip take a detour to confront a hacker nemesis, only to get much more than they bargained for. This is the kind of story that works better the less you know beforehand, so I'll keep plot details to a minimum. Suffice it to say that there are many twists and turns and keeping the viewer confused along with the main characters seems to be part of the point.

 

Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke and Beau Knapp star, with Laurence Fishburne adding some menace and Lin Shaye popping up to act weird as usual. The acting is credible, the fx are outstanding and sparingly used, but the off-kilter nature of the narrative can be off putting, and when all is said and done, not much has truly occurred.

 

Recommended for SF fans and those with the patience for unconventional storytelling.

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Holden said: One could infer that Capote himself was the narrator.

 

Yes, and the George Peppard charactor was Capote's idea of himself. Most gay men have buddies like Holly Golightly, the relationship is the most interesting aspect of the story to me.

While Capote was a very handsome young man, I thought casting Peppard was rather pompous on his part. Capote was never that genteel.

 

One of the best books I read in 2015 was PARTY OF THE CENTURY...the Fabulous Story of Truman Capote's Black & White Ball by Deborah Davis.

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Holden said: One could infer that Capote himself was the narrator.

 

Yes, and the George Peppard charactor was Capote's idea of himself. Most gay men have buddies like Holly Golightly, the relationship is the most interesting aspect of the story to me.

While Capote was a very handsome young man, I thought casting Peppard was rather pompous on his part. Capote was never that genteel.

 

One of the best books I read in 2015 was PARTY OF THE CENTURY...the Fabulous Story of Truman Capote's Black & White Ball by Deborah Davis.

 

Truman Capote was opposed to the casting of George Peppard as the writer in the movie adaptation of BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, and he did not like the way that the character was changed for the movie. The subplot about the writer being a kept man by the older woman played by Patricia Neal is not in Capote's story.

Capote actually wanted to play the writer himself and wanted the relationship between Holly and the writer to be a platonic friendship as it was in Caopte's story.

"Hollywood," however, wanted to add a romance.

 

PS. In the original story, Holly does not find the cat at the end. 

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