Tuesday, September 27, 2016

CRACK IN THE WORLD (1965)

In order to solve the worlds renewable energy problem, scientist Dana Andrews heads up a project to drill down to the Earth's core and use the nonstop heat to create power.  Trouble is, once they drilled down nearly to the core they encountered a super hard layer that they cannot break through.  Solution: blast that bitch with a nuclear missile!  That's right, launch a missile down into the hole and hope for the best.  Naturally, things don't go too well and the massive explosion (multiplied by a hidden gas pocket) causes a slow-moving (3mph) crack in the Earth's crust.  That can't be good.

Yeah, that's a silly idea for a movie, but it does have potential (massive earthquakes destroying cities, damns bursting, the Golden Gate Bridge falling over, airplane landing on a runway that suddenly splits in two, dogs and cats living together, oceans boiling up gigantic clouds of steam, a volleyball game at a nudist colony is broken up by a sink hole with lava spurting out of it, etc.)...unfortunately none of that shit happens on screen.  Why? Because half of the film it taken up with a love triangle between Andrews, his young wife and her scientist ex-boyfriend who she still has the hots for.  Nobody that paid to see this movie gave a single fuck about any of that, but it's an excuse to chew up runtime without spending money of special effects, so it what we got.

Insulting lack of action, weak ending, annoying screaming by the lead actress, magmanauts, mediocre acting, a guy with zero respect for helicopter blades, misleading tag line on the poster: "The day the Earth split in two!"...bullshit.

Based on the poster artwork, I was looking forward to seeing this movie.  I was really curious as to how they were going to overcome the Earth splitting in two, but in the end, I just ended up disappointed and feeling sorry for Dana Andrews wasting his talents on this lying turkey.
Look how close that helicopter blade is to that guys dome!

THE BAD SLEEP WELL (1960)

It's a story as old as humanity itself: those with more (in this case, power and money) totally fucking over those with less.

News of an impending police investigation into corruption between two large corporations is just starting to become public, so the executives decide to do the right thing, admit their guilt and pay the price for their wrongdoings...hahahahahahahaha!!!!  You must be a poor person if you believed that!  No, the executives simply follow their natural instincts and convince their underlings (fall guys) to do the "honorable" thing and commit suicide for the good of the corporation.  It's a win-win-win situation for upper management: they can't be found guilty if all of the people who might have squealed under pressure are dead, they lowered the payroll and...there's more available spaces in the parking lot!  And they would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for a meddling vigilante who always seems to be one step ahead of them.  Guess that means their just gonna have to start playing even dirtier.

Cynical story full of murder, betrayal and dishonesty that (sadly) wouldn't even hold a candle to the stuff that's going on nowadays, strong performances by an impressive cast, average pace that could have been sped up a bit, good direction, pretty much all tight and medium camera shots.

THE BAD SLEEP WELL might be too slow or dated for most modern day audiences, but fans of Kurosawa and classic Japanese cinema will enjoy it.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

WINCHESTER '73 (1950)

Between 1950 and 1955 James Stewart and director Anthony Mann made five westerns together, this first pairing finds Jimmy Stewart and his buddy Millard Mitchell on the trail of Dutch Henry Brown (Stephen McNally)...a sidewindin', bushwackin', hornswagglin' cracker croaker that really pissed off Stewart, but we don't know why.

In the opening scene they catch up with him in Dodge City, but since there's no guns allowed in the city limits, they can't kill each other.  Instead they compete in a shooting contest judged by Wyatt Earp! Grand prize: a highly-coveted "one-in-a-thousand" Winchester Model 1873 rifle. Stewart wins the gun only to have Brown and his men jump him, steal the rifle and skedaddle it out of town. From here on the story splits in two: one, the story of the rifle (and it's quickly changing owners) and the other, Stewart and Mitchell tracking down Brown.

WINCHESTER '73 is a great western and one of the coolest things about it is it's outstanding cast.  Besides the two leads of Stewart and McNally you have Millard Mitchell, Shelley Winters, Will Geer, Rock Hudson, John McIntire, Dan Duryea, Stephen McNally, James Millican, Jay C. Flippen, Charles Drake, John Alexander, Tony Curtis, Abner Biberman, James Best, Steve Brodie and more!  I mean, the whole time you're watching the film you're thinking to yourself "Holy crap!  That's Teddy from ARSENIC AND OLD LACE! Charge!!!" or "Hey, there's Rosco from "The Dukes of Hazzard".  It's a joy seeing so many familiar faces, even if sometimes it's just in the background.

Strong direction, legendary cast, impressive acting (I especially liked Shelley Winters), clever script, quick pace, beautiful scenery and cinematography.  If you're a fan of Jimmy Stewart or just good movies then you can't go wrong with WINCHESTER '73.