Tuesday, February 9, 2016

TRAPPED (1973)

If you like the sound of dogs snarling, growling and barking then this is the movie for you! Originally broadcast on November 14th, 1973 as part of ABC's "Movie of the Week" series TRAPPED tells the story of a young James Brolin who's shopping at a large department store in NYC.  He's jumped in the bathroom by some muggers who beat him up and leave him for dead.  The store closes and for whatever insane reason the store is guarded by five bloodthirsty attack dogs!  They're so violent that the handlers have to wear full body protection and even install dividers to keep the dogs from attacking each other!!! James wakes up and is instantly bitten in the leg. So now with blood spurting all over the place, to the point that he's getting delirious, he runs around the store getting attacked at every turn by these crazy dogs.

Any normal person (remember this is before cell phones) would just run back into the shitter and pull the fire alarm or break a fire sprinkler nozzle, but no, not Brolin. Instead he runs all over the joint crashing into stuff. It's kinda humorous, especially how pissed off the dogs are. They growl at everything! What's that? A mop? Grrrrr. What's that?! Stairs? Grrrrr. What's that?! A door? Grrrrr. What's that?! Another dog going Grrrrr? Grrrrr.

The dog portions are fun, but unfortunately half of the film is also taken up with Brolin's ex-wife looking for him.  Those scenes are a complete snoozefest.  If there were more attack dog scenes and less ex-wife walking around scenes, I would recommend it, but as it is it's just a mildly entertaining historical novelty.

Fun Fact: writer/director Frank De Felitta went on to direct the legendary TV movie DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

ANOTHER WOMAN (1988)

Reminiscent of Bergman's WILD STRAWBERRIES, ANOTHER WOMAN tells the story of a professor who is in her 50's and beginning to reexamine her life.  Taking a leave of absence from work to write a book, she rents an apartment next door to a psychiatrist's office, but soon discovers that through some "acoustical oddness" she can hear all of the patients quite clearly.  She tries to ignore them but one patient in particular (Mia Farrow) captures her attention and brings back sad memories from her own past.  Failed relationships, estranged siblings and parents, her decision to not have children, her current dead end marriage to Ian Holm which began with him cheating on his wife with her, her turning down a suitor (Gene Hackman) who was clearly in love with her.

Needless to say ANOTHER WOMAN is not a happy film.  It's not as depressing as Allen's last film, SEPTEMBER, but it's no walk in the park either.  Intimate photography by Sven Nykvist, a steady pace, strong performances by a great cast, interesting story.  ANOTHER WOMAN has a lot of the ingredients to make an outstanding film, but instead it just falls into the "above average" category.  I'm not sure exactly what it is, but it just doesn't have that magic spark to it.  Not to worry though because Allen's next film CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS is one of the greatest films of all time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

SEVEN IN DARKNESS (1969)

Originally aired on September 23, 1969 as part of ABC's "Movie of the Week" series, SEVEN IN DARKNESS tells the interesting story of eight (yes, I counted them multiple times) blind people who are stranded in the wilderness after their airplane crashes.  All of the sighted people on-board were killed so now it's up to the eight blind survivors to make their way beck to civilization before the blizzard freezes them to death.  Also one of the blind women is very pregnant.

For what it is SEVEN IN DARKNESS is a totally watchable film.  The production values are obviously pretty low (the "Movie of the Week" series was rumored to budget around $400,000-$450,000 per film), but the story is intriguing and the 74-minute runtime doesn't have any wasted moments.  The entire cast was good, but I was especially impressed by Lesley Ann Warren who genuinely looked blind and by Barry Nelson who did an excellent job portraying the internal struggles of a blind dude who is used to being respected and in charge and is now failing to deal with the fact that the survivors are listening to another guy instead.

Wolf attack, lots of bumping into stuff, a young woman playing a guitar and singing on a commercial airplane 5 years before AIRPORT 1975, Milton Berle not really looking like he's blind, walking canes whacking into everything.  Modern audiences would probably fall asleep within five minutes, but I think anybody who has childhood memories of this film or people (like me) that are interested in television from this period will enjoy SEVEN IN DARKNESS.
Not sure why, but my copy has this interesting "Place commercial here" cue included during one of the obvious commercial breaks.