Wednesday, May 20, 2015

SORRY, WRONG NUMBER (1948)

Adapted for the screen by Lucille Fletcher from her own radio play, SORRY, WRONG NUMBER is the mildly interesting story of an obnoxiously pampered woman (Stanwyck) who is bedridden and home alone in her gigantic NYC mansion.  When the film opens, Stanwyck is desperately tying to get her husband (Lancaster) on the phone.  While talking to the operator she gets a crossed connection and overhears two seedy sounding guys planning a murder for that very night at 11:15, when a passing train would hide any screams.  Startled by this conversation she calls the police but does a terrible job of convincing them of anything.  After that we're shown numerous flashbacks, even flashbacks within a flashbacks of how she met her husband.

Stanwyck is the spoiled putrid daughter of a wealthy businessman.  Burt was a dirt poor drug store employee.  But she didn't care.  She wanted him and she always got what she wanted.  Almost forced into marriage, Burt is now extremely bitter and full of secrets.  Could some of these secrets be connected to the mysterious conversation Barbara heard earlier?  Mayhaps!

I wasn't expecting SORRY, WRONG NUMBER to be a film noir, but I'm pretty sure it is.  Lots of deep shadows, low lighting, sinister-feeling camera angles, corrupt characters, doomed situations, etc.  The story is very dated now, but it's still entertaining.  Also I felt very little sympathy for Barbara's character (she created this entire situation with her selfish cruelty).  Maybe that was the writer's intention?  As it is though, SWN is a good film.  And I'm always happy to see Stanwyck and Lancaster, although I do wish they had more scenes together.

Recommended for classic movie fans.
Joyce Compton in a uncredited appearance.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971)

When will the pain end?  Like a fool I agreed to review all of the James Bond films but each one is just as convoluted and silly as the last one.  At least this time around they got rid of that lifeless dork and brought back Sean Connery.

The story, as far as I can tell, is about this mega-villain dude who devises an highly elaborate and highly dangerous plan to horde all the diamonds in the world in order to make a laser satellite.  What??!  That doesn't even make sense!  Oh god, my head hurts.  So now it's up to Bond to travel around beating up women, stealing cassette tapes and driving a moon buggy across the desert in order to stop this guy.  It's beyond ridiculous.  Even worse than the brain dead story is the multiple times that Bond is completely incapacitated and nobody kills him!  On at least two occasions the bad guys knock Bond out cold then transport his body somewhere to be killed, then once there they set the death device in action and walk away!  "Well, I did all I could do.  Yeah, I could stab him or simply stand here for another 45 seconds but I gotta get home to watch Marcus Welby, MD.  See ya!!!"

Vintage Las Vegas scenery, mysterious scuba guys on the poster that don't even show up in the movie, multiple female nipples, cheap looking car chases, weak writing, a Sid Haig sighting(!!), cleavage, Bruce Glover hamming it up, a oil rig shootout complete with helicopters. 

One thunderball out of five.

Part 1 - Dr. No
Part 2 - From Russia With Love
Part 3 - Goldfinger
Part 4 - Thunderball
Part 5 - You Only Live Twice
Part 6 - On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

FIREBALL 500 (1966)

There might not be a beach in sight, but FIREBALL 500 definitely has a Beach Party series feel to it. Plus a number of the same cast and crew.  Including director/writer William Asher.

This time around, Frankie Avalon is a up-and-coming race car driver.  After arriving in a new town and beating the local champ (Fabian), Avalon is offer a job trying out a new car for a upcoming cross-country race.  Being gullible (and having the hots for the race tracks sexy owner, Julie Parrish), he agrees.  Ends up the car is loaded with moonshine.  Before long Avalon is catching stress from all ends: he's being blackmailed by IRS agents, catching heat from the moonshiners, being a professional racer, knocking boots with Parrish, getting into multiple fistfights and he sings 5 songs!  What a guy.

While F500 does have a "Beach" feel to it the overall tone of the film is more adult.  There's moonshine drinking, an on-screen death, endless references to sex, fighting, a guy catching on fire, implied stripping, a "beaver" reference, car wrecks, Parrish grabbing Avalon's butt cheeks, etc.  I doubt most people would care for it at all, but I enjoyed FIREBALL 500 from beginning to end.  The story is goofy, but it was a lot of fun watching Avalon trying to be all serious.  I also enjoyed all the familiar faces in the background.  I didn't care too much for Fabian's hair though.

Recommended for fans of the Beach Party movies.