Thursday, December 31, 2009

THE QUIET DUEL (1949)

Normal readers to my reviews know that I prefer to go into a film knowing nothing about the story. It's more fun that way and I think it's more fair to the makers of the film if I go into it completely blank. That said the only thing I knew about THE QUIET DUEL before I watched it was the cast/director and the poster made it look like a medical thriller. Well, I was wrong. It wasn't a surgical room duel between two surgeons with differing ideas on how a surgery is suppose to go or maybe they've been kidnapped and are now performing surgery on a yakuza boss or something.

None of that happened. Instead we get Mifune as a surgeon who during the War cuts himself while working on a soldier and contracts syphilis. He has a fiance back home who's been waiting for him for 6 years so when he returns from the War he breaks it off with her and keeps his secret from everybody. He returns to work at his fathers clinic then one day he runs into the guy who gave him the disease.

Of course other stuff happens, but I'm not going to give it all away. Overall it was a good film, but if it wasn't for the well-known cast and director the whole thing would just be forgotten. If you're new to Kurosawa this is not the film to begin with. Try YOJIMBO, STRAY DOG or HIGH AND LOW instead. THE QUIET DUEL (I have no fucking clue what that title means) is for completists only.

Update: I just bought an excellent Kurosawa book "The Films of Akira Kurosawa" and it seems even Kurosawa agrees with my opinion: "When I remember this film, it seems to me that only the early scenes in the field hospital have any validity. This is because I didn't describe things too well in this picture. When the locale moved back to Japan, somehow the drama left the film."
How many American movies in 1949 had the word "asshole" in it?

Well, fuck there she goes again!


Interesting trailer that has some different angle shots than the ones in the movie. Hmmm? Example at :55

Monday, December 28, 2009

NEVER A DULL MOMENT (1950)

NEVER A DULL MOMENT does not live up to it's title. By 1950 audiences had already seen most of these city-slickers-on-the-country jokes in superior films like THE EGG AND I, GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT HERE and MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE so it really boggles the mind why two excellent actors like Fred MacMurray and Irene Dunne would even sign up for an unoriginal clunker like this, but they did and it shows right from the start that they were just here for the money.

Irene Dunne is a popular songwriter/singer who lives in NYC and one day at a charity auction she meets rodeo rider Fred MacMurray and BAM! a few weeks later they're married and living on his rundown farm with all his annoying country neighbors barging in the house 24 hours a fucking day and raising Hell. I guess these jokes are suppose to be funny, but I just found depressing to watch Irene Dunne sad and dishearten because she's surrounded by a bunch of dimwitted assholes.

I didn't even smile once. Skip it.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

TOGETHER AGAIN (1944)

The always beautiful Irene Dunne is the widower who is also the mayor of the a small town. With so much responsibility she hasn't had any time for romance. A fact that her former father-in-law is frequent to bring up. One night during a thunderstorm lightening knocks the head off the statue of her late husband. Charles Coburn (the father-in-law) says it's a sign from her late husband to carry on with her life. Dunne laughs it off but when she meets the sculptor who's going to make a new statue she starts to maybe believe the story is true. The sculptor (Charles Boyer) is a very handsome man and instantly in love with Dunne.

Different romantic screwball hijinks take place and even though the beginning was a little slow it really starts to pick up steam in the second half, especially when Dunne's attractive teenage daughter accidentally thinks that the sculptor has proposed to her! That part was really funny.

Not the greatest Dunne movie, but I enjoyed it and would watch it again. The more of her films I see, the more I'm beginning to believe that she's never turned a bad performance.

THE TWILIGHT SAMURAI (2002)

After the overexposure of Samurai movies in the late 60's and early 70's there really hasn't been many good Samurai films since Kurosawa's RAN in 1985. Out of the handful that have been made THE TWILIGHT SAMURAI is my favorite, because not only is the action thrilling and the tender moments very moving I also think it might be the most realistic Samurai film ever made. I could be completely wrong about that, since I haven't seen every Samurai movie ever made (yet), but out of the hundred or so I have seen this one seems to me to be the most true to life.

If you are looking for nonstop fastest sword in the East-style ass kicking then go rewatch THE SWORD OF DOOM, cause this is a quiet, subtle film about a low-ranking samurai who's a widower (and in debt because of his wife's sickness) and now sole provider for his two small daughters and his senile mother. During the day he does his duties to the Clan and every afternoon just before twilight he rushes home to take care of his endless duties at home. He feels that he's better suited to be a farmer, but fate has lead him to the life of a samurai.

I won't be a cock like that Roger Ebert who gave away the ending to the movie in the first fucking paragraph of his review (thanks a lot asshole!!!), but I will go so far as to say that when the time comes Sir Twilight (as his fellow samurai's jest) knows how to kick ass and he does. There's also some romantic stuff going on, but it's all very natural and not forced.

If you like movies that have character depth along with the action then you'll enjoy THE TWILIGHT SAMURAI.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

LE MAGNIFIQUE (1973)

Super-spy Bob St. Clair makes James Bond look like a pussy! He can shoot a single bullet into a tree and kill 5 soldiers, he can fight his way out of evil villains lair without even breaking a sweat and of course he always gets the girl. Unfortunately Bob St. Clair is just a figment of novelist Francois Merlin's imagination. Merlin's real life is nowhere near as perfect. He has no money, his apartment is a dump and he's divorced. He has little control over the things that happen in his real life so when somebody pisses him off he throws that person into his story and lets St. Clair shoot him to pieces. The same goes for the good things in his life like his sexy upstairs neighbor, who just happens to be St. Clair's current love interest.

But things turn out to not always be perfect in St. Clair's world either, especially when Merlin gets mad at him and turns him into a bumbling idiot and then finally a limp-wristed queer who runs off with the villain on a two-seater bicycle! Hahaha. I'm giving too much away...

Everybody in this movie does a great job, especially the three main actors who all play duel roles, but I think the main praise should go to director/co-writer Philippe de Broca who does an excellent job of blending the two worlds so seamlessly that the story never lets up for even a moment. I was happy and smiling from beginning to end. Not many films can do that.

Favorite moments: when St. Clair's cyanide tablet falls out of his hollow tooth and kills all the tourist in the swimming pool; when a clumsy St. Clair gets mad at his robe; when St. Clair pours the hot water on his infected finger and all of the moments with Jacqueline Bisset.  She is absolutely radiant in this movie.

When I started this blog one of my main goals was to try and help bring attention to lesser known great films like LE MAGNIFIQUE to a wider audience. That was my goal, but as you can see I usually just end up getting sidetracked by junk like LAID TO REST and TURBULENCE 3: HEAVY METAL. LOL. Anyway, I highly recommend this movie and think you'll really enjoy it.

The picture on the DVD is pretty good for a standard disc (see below), but there are zero extras not even a main menu just a list of chapter stops.

Friday, December 25, 2009

THEODORA GOES WILD (1936)

How much you like this film will probably depend on how much you're a fan of Irene Dunne and/or Melvyn Douglas. Myself, I'm not the world's biggest Douglas fan. I've seen a number of his films and he does nothing for me. All I can ever think about when I see him is how somebody else would have done such a better job in his role. On the other hand Irene is pretty good considering she's working with a boring script.

Let's talk about the story. There's a huge fuss going all over the country about this new steaming sex novel called "The Sinner". It's a nationwide bestseller, but nowhere is the fuss bigger than in the small hamlet of Lynnfield. The local newspaper published the first chapter and it caused the righteous old ladies to go berserk and raise such a stink that the newspaper agreed to stop printing the story. In the midst of all this crazy behavior is Irene Dunne, a quiet woman who lives with her three cunts, I mean, aunts. She's also secretly the author of "The Sinner". She had no idea her story would cause such an uproar and she'll do anything to keep her secret.

Enter the annoying Melvyn Douglas who finds out her secret and is now using his knowledge to blackmail Dunne into employing him as a gardener in the hopes of...well I'm not really sure what he's hoping for. Things happen (I'm not going to give it all away) and soon Dunne turns the tables on him and is now blackmailing him! That sounds like it could be funny and when I rented it I was hoping that it would be, but instead I just got a few chuckles and that's it. I would have loved to see what Preston Sturges could have done with that story idea!

Mary Forbes from THE AWFUL TRUTH!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH (1976)

For years I've thought that this was a hardcore horror movie so when I started it up it was quite a shock when the opening theme song was some kweer 70's folk guitar ballad fagatron horseshit. Then the characters show up and they're a bunch of pussies! What the hell is going on here?! This is a goddamn drama movie!!! Once I settled into my disappointment I realized that the film isn't half bad. In fact it's just HEATHERS in the 70's. I was mildly entertained and glad that I finally got to watch it, but I sure as fuck never want to watch it again!

David's new to Central High. He meets different students (each representing a different political group or ideal) and the four bullies who keep order in the school with an iron fist (I guess they represent Communism). David instantly gets on the bad side of the bullies and tries to get the other students to revolt. They decline and the bullies break David's leg. He returns to school and assassinates three of the bullies. With no bullies the students go wild and tear the shit out of everything and start fighting over who's going to be the new boss. David doesn't like how things are turning out so he starts a fresh wave of assassinations.

The gore level is zero and I used the term "assassination" for a reason, he isn't murdering people in standard slasher fashion, but actually assassinating them like in a political action film...bombings, sabotaging vehicles, etc . This movie is not a slasher. It's more like a high school retelling of Orwell's "Animal Farm" with more violence and weird 70's fashions.
Nice "Little House on the Prairie" dress.


Mic visible

Trailer gives away the entire movie: