Tuesday, July 24, 2018

THE MECHANIC (1972)

Los Angeles.  An older, professional hitman (Charles Bronson) takes a younger man (Jan-Michael Vincent) under his wing as both a protege and assistant.  After that, things start to get a little gay, but not really since the studio chickened out on the original story and instead ended up with a garbled film that doesn't seem to know what it wants to be.

The assassination portions of THE MECHANIC are entertaining enough in a dated, early 1970's action movie sort of way, but the character development is weak.  According to Wikipedia, Lewis John Carlino's original script was suppose to be "...a commentary on the use of human relationships and sexual manipulation in the lives of two hired killers. It was supposed to be a chess game between the older assassin and his young apprentice."  That actually sounds interesting, but unfortunately, that's not what ended up on screen.  At all.  I wish, that, if the studio was gonna purge the gay stuff (and therefore the main subject of the script!), they would have just made another movie altogether.  Instead, the audience is left with a confused mess about two single men who, when not murdering people together, hang out together 24/7 and stare at each other longingly.

Confused pace that alternates between slow and fast, zero nudity, mildly entertaining kills, one nice car-pushed-off-a-cliff wreck, okay acting, boring dialogue, goofy scenes of Bronson acting sophisticated while thinking really hard, a 16-minute section where there is zero dialogue, two men at the zoo touching fingers.

THE MECHANIC is entertaining enough for a single viewing, but I have no desire to ever watch it again.

Remake - The Mechanic
Remake, Part 2 - Mechanic: Resurrection

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

PALM SPRINGS WEEKEND (1963)

A bunch of 30 year-old looking college students go to Palm Springs, California for the Easter Weekend to get crunk.  And by "crunk" I mean swimming, going to the record store (don't forget your copy of "Behind The Button-Down Mind Of Bob Newhart" that can be seen five times in the opening shot of the record store!), playing with a Bugs Bunny doll, playing a banjo, filling a swimming pool with bubbles, singing "The Yellow Rose of Texas", fist-fighting, trashing somebody's house, attempted murder and sexual assault.  PALM SPRINGS WEEKEND starts out innocent enough, but once it gets going, it's kind of dark.  Robert Conrad's character was especially fucked up.  He was a complete psychopath.  I wouldn't be surprised if he went on to become a politician.

I could talk in detail about the story for PSW, but it really doesn't matter.  If you're a fan of stuff like WHERE THE BOYS ARE or BEACH PARTY then you should check it out.  (If you're not a fan of BEACH PARTY, then I just feel sorry for you.)  PALM SPRINGS WEEKEND wasn't nearly as enjoyable as the awesome BEACH PARTY, but it was still fun.  I had a blast listening to all of the dated lingo and silly comedy bits that were so dead that they were kinda funny.  The vintage cars, clothes and hairstyles were also fun to check out.

I do wish that it had better songs and more memorable characters.  I love re-visiting the Beach movies, but I doubt I'll be going on a Palm Springs Weekend anytime soon again.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967)

Britain, 1944.  A US Major (Lee Marvin) is given orders to select twelve men from the local military prison, train them, then go on a suicide mission behind enemy lines to kill as many German officers as possible.  This will create disruption in the chain of command right before the D-Day invasion.  The men who survive the mission will be pardoned.

Watching THE DIRTY DOZEN today, it's dated as fuck, but still entertaining.  The story was definitely cool and the action scenes were kinda like the cover's the the men's adventure magazines of the 1950's come to life, but I was mainly fascinated by the all-star cast!  I mean, this thing is pack from floor to ceiling with big names.  Charles Bronson, Donald Sutherland, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine...pretty much every scene had somebody awesome in it.

I also found the film to be interesting from a historical perspective.  I'd love to know more about it.  For example: I'm curious how many films previous to TDD showed American soldiers so gleefully killing not only Nazi officers and soldiers, but also the women with them?  Did the subversive feel of the film have something to do with the Vietnam War?

Younger audiences would probably find the whole thing boring, but it's definitely worth a viewing for fans of (older) WWII movies and movie nerds.

Side note: IMDb lists Dick Miller as "MP at Hanging (uncredited)", but I couldn't find him.

Part 2 - The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission
Part 3 - The Dirty Dozen: The Deadly Mission
Part 4 - The Dirty Dozen: The Fatal Mission