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Death in Small Doses (1957)  -  6/10

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Peter Graves is an undercover government agent investigating illicit amphetamine use in the trucking industry. Featuring Chuck Connors as a fellow trucker who's always riding high, Mala Powers, Merry Anders, Roy Engel, Robert B. Williams, Harry Lauter, Robert Shayne, John Mitchum, and John Dierkes. This has a basic plot told in a straight-forward manner, and it resembles a dozen cop flicks or TV shows of the period. However, the film is worth seeing for Chuck Connors' gonzo performance as a speed-freak, constantly amped up and spouting hipster lingo. It's a far cry from his square-jawed hero on The Rifleman.

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Dragstrip Girl (1957) -  5/10

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Two hot-headed hot-rodders (John Ashley and Steven Terrell) vie for the same girl (Fay Spain), who's a fair drag racer herself. Also featuring Frank Gorshin, Russ Bender, Tommy Ivo, Judy Bamber, Grazia Narciso, and Tito Vuolo. Typical low-budget teen exploitation flick, notable for Ashley's film debut and for the vintage hot rods on display.

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Panic on the 5:22 (1974)  -  4/10

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Three inept criminals (Robert Walden, James Sloyan, and Reni Santoni) attempt to rob a commuter train car filled with wealthy and powerful people, including Andrew Duggan, Bernie Casey, Lynda Day George, Laurence Luckinbill, Dana Elcar, Eduard Franz, Robert Mandan, Linden Chiles, Ina Balin, and Dennis Patrick. Also featuring Charles Lampkin and Byron Morrow. There's a lot of heavy-handed sermonizing on the haves and have-nots, and some weak pop psychology is thrown around to pass the time. Shrill, tedious, and ultimately boring TV movie. A Quinn Martin Production.

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16 hours ago, rayban said:

"Agatha" with Dustin Hoffman and Vanessa Redgrave was a terrible film.

Agree there. FInally saw it on TCM a few  years back.

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16 hours ago, rayban said:

I find it difficult to comprehend the success of this material on Broadway and in the movies.

Well, it was Ingrid's comeback film. Different times....

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16 hours ago, rayban said:

Jayne Mansfield was a good actress.

Unfortunately, her image got in her way.

And, of course, Frank Tashlin treated her like a cartoon.

Yes, but she perpetuated that image.....

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On 2/27/2019 at 3:35 AM, LornaHansonForbes said:

I don’t even like MANHATTAN MELODRAMA all that much and I watched it because I’m jonesing that hard to see something in black-and-white.

I know we’re not even there yet, but the three most insulting days of the year for me are March 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

OH OSCAR MONTH, FROM HELLS HEART I STAB AT THEE

Manhattan Melodrama makes me laugh, if only to think about Mickey Rooney growing up to look like Clark Gable.

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18 hours ago, NickAndNora34 said:

AGATHA AND THE TRUTH OF MURDER (2018) *Score: 5.5/10 

... I enjoyed the overall feeling of this film. I am a huge Agatha Christie fan, and I like to watch film adaptations either about her, or about her books. I solved almost all of the murder by myself (for once) and was immensely proud. Although, maybe reading Christie's books at least two times each had a hand in my success. 

*Source: Netflix 

 

as am I, and it's interesting that in this second decade of the 21st century, she's going through a quiet sort of renaissance with a lot of modern retellings and remakes and even some strange retroboots of a sort (the MARPLE tv series the BBC did a few years back actually inserted Miss Marple into Christie novels she was not in, such as ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE and TOWARDS ZERO.)

There was a three part ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE remake that was done i think last year on amazon prime, in fact i keep being bombarded by ads. i gave it a shot, but did not like it.

there's also a CROOKED HOUSE remake with GLENN CLOSE on amazon prime I have not seen yet either.

For my money, the best recent CHRISTIE adaptation was THE MOVING FINGER episode of the MARPLE tv series which aired on THE BBC with the late GERALDINE MCEWAN in the lead. it had a modern flair and a highly stylized visual sense and the actors were good. if you haven't seen it, it's worth scouring for.

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To the Devil . . . A Daughter (1976)

Hammer Studio's last film, shot in conjunction with a German studio, is an intriguing, handsome, if flawed, tale of a Satanic cult and an author on the Occult who sets out to defeat them. There are moments of bloodiness and nudity and, at least, one spectacularly tasteless scene in which the bloody fetus of a demon slowly crawls into a woman's body.

To be honest, I didn't know what was going on much of the time but, after a slow first half, the film moves into a higher gear in this adaption of a Dennis Wheatley novel. Christopher Lee plays an excommunicated priest who heads the cult which raised a baby (whose mother was slain) as a nun, with plans, twenty years later, of that nun herself mothering a demon. Fans of Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist may take a liking to this one.

Nastassja Kinski is the blank faced nun and potential demon baby incubator, with Richard Widmark trying to stop the cult and Honor Blackman and Anthony Valentine as an innocent couple who know nothing about Satanism that also get involved. Denholm Elliott scores well as the cringing father of Kinski, fearful of ramifications, who lives cut off from others.

The acting, on the whole, is very good. Widmark is a comforting presence and plays his part with conviction, while Christopher Lee has a few closeups which eerily represent pure evil.

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The film, as we all know, will inevitably lead to a final confrontation between the forces of good (Widmark) and evil (Lee). The resolution comes far too quickly and easily, for my money, but my bet is that fans of Occult horror films will still be there to see this one to the end. There are worse ways to spend your bloody time.

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2.5 out of 4

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1 hour ago, rayban said:

True, she believed that she could replace Marilyn Monroe.

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I love where she poses straight on and Sophia looks none to pleased.....

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Forty Guns (1957)  -  7/10

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Typically extreme Sam Fuller western, with Barry Sullivan, Gene Barry and Robert Dix as lawmen brothers who stop off in a frontier town ruled over by cattle baroness Barbara Stanwyck. Her crazed brother John Ericson terrorizes the town, and while Sullivan and Stanwyck fall for each other, their relationship will be strained by her brother's antics. Also featuring Dean Jagger, Hank Worden, Jidge Carroll, Paul Dubov, Ziva Rodann, and Eve Brent. This is a gender-bending retake of the Earp-Clanton feud, but with Fuller's penchant for over-the-top characters and lurid sexuality and violence. The ending is almost incredible, but's it's undone by a studio-mandated cop-out. Stanwyck, who had appeared in at least one film a year since 1929, didn't make another movie until 1962's Walk on the Wild Side.

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1 hour ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

as am I, and it's interesting that in this second decade of the 21st century, she's going through a quiet sort of renaissance with a lot of modern retellings and remakes and even some strange retroboots of a sort (the MARPLE tv series the BBC did a few years back actually inserted Miss Marple into Christie novels she was not in, such as ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE and TOWARDS ZERO.)

There was a three part ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE remake that was done i think last year on amazon prime, in fact i keep being bombarded by ads. i gave it a shot, but did not like it.

there's also a CROOKED HOUSE remake with GLENN CLOSE on amazon prime I have not seen yet either.

For my money, the best recent CHRISTIE adaptation was THE MOVING FINGER episode of the MARPLE tv series which aired on THE BBC with the late GERALDINE MCEWAN in the lead. it had a modern flair and a highly stylized visual sense and the actors were good. if you haven't seen it, it's worth scouring for.

I watched the "Ordeal by Innocence" 3-part series just recently. I actually enjoyed it. Not as much as some of the other adaptations, though. I have also seen the recent Glenn Close "Crooked House" remake. I would suggest giving that one a try. I really liked it. The acting was fantastic. 

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The Riddle of the Sands (1979)

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Continuing my popcorn exploration of other "overlooked" late-70's Lord Grade epics that recently resurfaced on Amazon Prime, after barely raising a US blip in theaters:  If the title is getting you stoked for Indiana Jones-style archeological adventures among the great Pyramids of Egypt...this isn't that film.  That's probably one reason it was so difficult to market in the US, and didn't even show up until ITV had to salvage Rank Studios' last few big-budget productions.

What we do get is a classic British adventure novel about two 1900's Oxford chums on a boating expedition off the German seacoast islands, who ultimately stumble into a "39 Steps"-style nefarious German spy plot against the English coast, years before WWI.  (The original novel's success even inspired Britain as a wakeup-call to renew its defenses against Europe, while there was still time against the Kaiser.)  It's still a good cracking Steps-clone adventure, only with empty chases across moorish hillsides now replaced by long scenes of yacht-sailing off the north Atlantic.  Michael York and Simon MacCorkindale are perfectly cast to play Georgian Brit-lit characters, and, this being a York film, Jenny Agutter gets the attractive duplicitous romantic-lead.

It's all good generic empty-calorie period boys'-book adventure, but plays itself earnestly straight, without descending into camp or irony, and moves along at a good clip.  Good stuff came out of Britain in the late 70's, before they had PBS to make it for them.

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Four Girls in Town (1957)  -  6/10

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When a temperamental star quits, Universal scrambles to find a replacement for their new big-budget religious epic. With much promotional ballyhoo, the studio narrows it down to four women: an American (Julie Adams), a French woman (Gia Scala), an Italian (Elsa Martinelli), and an Austrian (Marianne Koch). Each woman has her own past, desires and dreams, and they try to reconcile them all with the help of several helpful men, including George Nader, John Gavin, Grant Williams, and Sydney Chaplin. Also featuring Herbert Anderson, Hy Averback, James Bell, and Jose Ferrer. Lightweight fluff with a lot of attractive performers. As far as I can tell, this has never been released on home video on any format, and hasn't been shown on TV since the early 90's on AMC.

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59 minutes ago, NickAndNora34 said:

I watched the "Ordeal by Innocence" 3-part series just recently. I actually enjoyed it. Not as much as some of the other adaptations, though. I have also seen the recent Glenn Close "Crooked House" remake. I would suggest giving that one a try. I really liked it. The acting was fantastic. 

(the 2018 ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE REMAKE ON AMAZON PRIME) was so heavily stylized with herky-jerky editing and SWOOSHING sound effects and that ice-cold production design...

I have so little patience with that.

there was a BBC version of BLEAK HOUSE that recently went over gangbusters and damned if I know why, but it seems like it started a very unfortunate trend in modern British historical and period piece dramas to be edited like THE MATRIX and shot with handheld cameras and feature LOTS of DRAMATIC zoom-IN ESTABLISHING SHOTS! accompanied by a whooshing sound.

it unnerves me.

(moreso)

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The Garment Jungle (1957)  -  7/10

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Kerwin Mathews returns from serving in the Korean War to work for his father (Lee J. Cobb) at his NYC garment business. He soon becomes embroiled in a war between pro-labor union forces led by Robert Loggia and ruthless criminal Richard Boone, who will stop at nothing to maintain control of the "garment jungle." Also featuring Gia Scala, Valerie French, Harold J. Stone, Joseph Wiseman, Celia Lovsky, Wesley Addy, Adam Williams, and Jud Taylor. This was a hard-hitting, well-acted drama with some surprising violence. Original director Robert Aldrich was fired close to the film's completion reportedly due to the film's dark tone and violence, and Vincent Sherman was brought in to finish, and get sole credit. I like Gia Scala, and thought this was one of her better roles, playing Loggia's sympathetic wife. Boone also excels as the chief antagonist.

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The Girl in the Kremlin (1957)  -  5/10

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Josef Stalin (Maurice Manson) fakes his death, has plastic surgery to change his appearance, steals a bunch of money from the Soviet treasury, and moves to Greece with his private nurse (Zsa Zsa Gabor). The nurse's twin sister (also Zsa Zsa Gabor) hires an American ex-secret agent (Lex Barker) to find her sister, which brings them into danger from Stalin's minions. Also featuring William Schallert as Stalin's son, Jeffrey Stone, Michael Fox, Natalie Daryll, Aram Katcher, Charles Horvath, and Kurt Katch. Natalie Daryll has her head shaved on camera, which adds to the nonsense lunacy of this Cold War artifact. It's all as silly as it sounds, but not as entertaining as it should have been.

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7 hours ago, rayban said:

True, she believed that she could replace Marilyn Monroe.

jayne-mansfield-sophia-loren-underwood-a

....and shove Sophia Loren out of the way!

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The Green-Eyed Blonde (1957)  -  6/10

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Teen angst at an all-girls reform school. New girl Betsy (Melinda Casey) tries to get used to her new surroundings while keeping her distance from her new roommates (Susan Oliver, Beverly Long, Norma Jean Nilsson, Tommie Moore, Carla Meyer). Also featuring Jean Inness, Sally Brophy, Olive Blakeney, Juanita Moore, and Betty Lou Gerson. Susan Oliver makes her screen debut here as the most confrontational of the girls. Nilsson is amusing/scary as the girl nicknamed "Cuckoo". This was produced by Doris Day's husband Martin Melcher.

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"The Human Comedy" - Clarence Brown - 1943 -

starring Mickey Rooney, Van Johnson, Fay Bainter, Frank Morgan, James Craig and Jackie "Butch" Jenkins -

Beautifully realized panoramic view of several months in the life of a small town during World War II -

there is a great deal of pathos, but it is always understated -

the thread through all of this is one small-town family -

the father has died, the eldest son has been drafted and the younger son works, after school, at night at a telegraph office - 

the youngest son is just discovering the joys and beauties of life -

throughout the many vignettes, all of the actors and actresses are remarkably superb without ever hogging the spotlight -

the three brothers - Van Johnson, Mickey Rooney and Jackie "Butch" Jenkins - are memorable -

the ending, in which the eldest son is killed in action only to be replaced by his best bud who is visiting for the first time is remarkably effective storytelling -

as the film says, the ending is only the beginning -

one of MGM's most effective "entertainments" -

a world in just one film -

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9 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

The Green-Eyed Blonde (1957)  -  6/10

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Teen angst at an all-girls reform school. New girl Betsy (Melinda Casey) tries to get used to her new surroundings while keeping her distance from her new roommates (Susan Oliver, Beverly Long, Norma Jean Nilsson, Tommie Moore, Carla Meyer). Also featuring Jean Inness, Sally Brophy, Olive Blakeney, Juanita Moore, and Betty Lou Gerson. Susan Oliver makes her screen debut here as the most confrontational of the girls. Nilsson is amusing/scary as the girl nicknamed "Cuckoo". This was produced by Doris Day's husband Martin Melcher.

Nothing like "The Girl With Green Eyes" with Peter Finch and Rita Tushingham.

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Gun Girls (1957)  -  3/10

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Hilariously bad "juvenile" delinquent movie about bad girl Joy (Eve Brent, looking and sounding like she's 35) who leads a small gang of girl thieves and armed robbers. Also featuring Timothy Farrell as a sleazy criminal middle-man. With Jeanne Ferguson, Jacqueline Park, Calvin Booth, George Graham, Harry Keaton, and Barbara Weeks. Terrible dialogue, amateurish acting, and even worse direction from Robert C. Dertano, who also wrote this turkey, are the highlights. This is high-octane trash featuring multiple on-screen outfit changes for the girls, clunky lecturing from a parole officer about juvenile crime, and a schmaltzy ending that serves as the cherry on top of this bad-movie sundae. 

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On 2/27/2019 at 3:51 PM, rayban said:

Some movie stars are just "clean"!

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The-Main-Attraction-Nancy-Kwan-Pat-Boone

 

 

These posters are great, Rayban. Pat Boone as a homoerotic heartthrob! Who'd have thunk it? Although Nancy Kwan is a very beautiful woman, you'd never know it from that poster. Pat is definitely the main attraction.

If that weren't enough: Lawrence, my mind is completely blown by the notion of Zsa Zsa Gabor playing twins. Imagine a remake of, say, The Dark Mirror or Dead Ringer with Zsa Zsa in the dual roles.

And to all the Agatha Christie fans: I'm a huge fan of Agatha, too. No other mystery writer has had such a marvelous sense of how to play with the reader's expectations. Her characterizations are not necessarily deep, but she always gives us a character, not just a figure in a puzzle, and almost incidentally she gives us a clear view of certain aspects of British life as the years passed.

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1 hour ago, kingrat said:

And to all the Agatha Christie fans: I'm a huge fan of Agatha, too. No other mystery writer has had such a marvelous sense of how to play with the reader's expectations. Her characterizations are not necessarily deep, but she always gives us a character, not just a figure in a puzzle, and almost incidentally she gives us a clear view of certain aspects of British life as the years passed.

As a kid, I always liked to read up on stage magic, but I could never understand the concept of "Misdirection".

Until I started watching the David Suchet/Hercule Poirot and Geraldine McEwan/Miss Marple episodes, and realized that just about EVERY single Agatha Christie mystery solution is based on some form of magicians' misdirection--If there's a clue that's passed off as utterly meaningless side business, it'll usually turn out to be the clue, and the clue we're asked to focus our central theory on will nearly always turn out to be the wrong one.

For ex., "But we know the murder happened at 8, because that was when we heard the gunshot!", or "But she must have taken the drink that was meant for Lord Crommel...Who could be trying to poison him?", or "But it had to be Lady Ashley running away from the scene--I didn't see her face, but I recognized that big wide hat she always wears!"  I'm sure that anyone sitting through the recent Kenneth Branagh "Murder on the Orient Express" was nodding along familiarly with our search for the "suspect".  ;)

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