Friday, June 27, 2014

Outpost in Morocco (1949)

An American war drama directed by Robert Florey.
A military leader escorts a political leader's daughter to an area where people from his country are forbidden to go. He is surprised when he faces problems on his arrival.
I had to turn the movie off at an hour and twelve minutes. I know it only had a few minutes left, but the clicking/popping sound was just too annoying. This sound was present throughout the duration and either increased in volume or my patience for it decreased. The murky plot and lack of identifiable characters left me nothing else to focus on while viewing. I'm rating this shit because it was a boring movie with an annoying audio artifact.

Mystery Liner (1934)

An American murder mystery directed by William Nigh.
A murder happens on a boat and those on the boat try to figure out "who done it".
The only thing that really stood out in this film was Granny Plimpton's alcoholism. The old girl was always about to have a drink, wanting a drink or trying to open a bottle. The other thing was the text on the communications screens. It was clearly added after the fact, with actors staring at a blank screen and acting like there was something on it. Otherwise the movie was a waste. At an hour and 2 minutes, at least it didn't waste too much of my time. I'm rating it poor.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Outlaw Brother (1951)

A Mexican American western directed by Elliott Nugent, starring Mickey Rooney.
The younger of 2 brothers searches for his elder sibling in Mexico, where he supposedly owns a silver mine. Come to find out, the older brother is an outlaw. A ranger teams up with the younger brother to capture the older without being killed by him and save the woman the outlaw has selected to marry.
The only thing that I agree with is the younger brother complaining about having bad luck with women and always getting the big ones. He refers to them as whales and I can sympathize. The rest of the movie sucked pretty bad. Mickey Rooney is too much of a pansy to be in a western and the plot wasn't all that great. What it really lacked was style. What I mean by this is that you could turn the film on at any point in it's duration and even if you've seen it, not be able to identify it. I'm rating this bad, but no hard feelings. It's just another bit of the rough that I have to pass in my search for diamonds.

My Boys Are Good Boys (1978)

An American crime drama directed by Bethel Buckalew.
A group of boys in a juvenile institution plan and execute the robbery of an armored car.
The opening theme song was extremely bad. They took what should have been a folk song and added overpowering synthesizers to it. The characters and most of the plot were indicative of a style that would typify the early '80s in comedy and adventure films. For most of the duration, I thought the plot was going alright and liked the style and characters. When the film came to an end, I was shocked by the inconclusiveness. Most of the subject matter in the plot was left hanging and what seemed to be minor plot elements finished the film. I'm rating this o.k. because of the ending. If it had ended more conclusively, it would have gotten adequate or better.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mutiny (1952)

An American war film directed by Edward Dmytryk.
A former Navy captain embarks on a voyage as first mate with his cannon crew. The crew hears of a large amount of gold on the ship and the captain's girlfriend arrives onboard. The crew plots mutiny and forces the captain to lead their attack.
I really didn't understand the plot very well. In fact, I could barely tell what the actors were saying because the audio was so muddy and muffled. The video looked dirty and was too dark, obscuring the visual side of what was going on. This film lacks clear presentation in such a way that everything else becomes a non-issue. When I have trouble hearing and seeing what's going on, things like style and costumes may as well not exist. I rate it bad.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Thief of Baghdad (1961)

An Italian American fantasy adventure film directed by Arthur Lubin, starring Steve Reeves.
A poorly matched suitor comes to the palace to ask the princess' hand in marriage. A thief mugs the suitor and impersonates him to meet the princess and they fall in love. When the real suitor is found and the princess turns him down, he uses a love potion on her that will make her sick if she loves someone else. Since she loves a thief, she becomes sick and lots of men are sent to find the blue rose that will cure her illness.
Compared to the other films of this title, this one had a simpler plot that lacked many of the adventures of it's predecessors. There was nowhere near the amount of magic being used or fantastic genies and monsters. The video looked dirty like a '60s sword and sandal flick (hmmm, I wonder why) and the audio was inconsistent. Above all else, this lacked style and seemed forced or fake. If this was the only one, I would rate it o.k., but since there are 2 films that were made before this that are also better than this, I rate it bad. This is an empty shadow of the the films by this name. Don't watch it.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Thief of Bagdad (1940)

A British fantasy adventure directed by Michael Powell, Ludwig Berger, Tim Whelan, Alexander Korda, Zoltan Korda and William Cameron Menzies, starring Sabu.
A dethroned king and a young thief have adventures while saving the kingdom from a corrupt vizier and rescuing the princess.
The version of this film that I saw did NOT look like it was made in 1940. It was, however, the correct film starring Sabu. The video looked like it had been restored or augmented in some way because the colors were bright and the definition extremely clear in most scenes. The scenes that didn't look so great featured special effects like the flying horse or the genie. In these scenes, you can see the air around a character where they had been cut from a different shot and pasted onto another. The plot and characters were definitely interesting and the film had super-massive loads of style. The pacing was just about right because nothing seemed rushed or took overly long. I thought that the entertainment value was quite good because I like the fantasy genre in general. I'm rating it good and it's a keeper.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mister Scarface (1976)

An Italian crime film directed by Fernando Di Leo, distributed by Troma.
A low level loan collector in an organized crime group teams up with a friend to defeat the boss of their organization.
I don't usually like crime films or Troma films, but this one was alright. The plot was interesting and I liked the characters. It was clearly presented and had some style. The only criticism that I have is that the soundtrack was a little bit annoying at times. During the ending action scene, there was a clicking sound that got old fast and stayed around too long. I'm rating this adequate.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Mr. Robinson Crusoe (1932)

An American drama directed by A. Edward Sutherland, starring Douglas Fairbanks.
A man on a boat makes a bet with his friends on whether he can live on an island until they return.
This is what's known as worthless drivel. Static characters and a threadbare plot make an hour and ten minutes seem like a long time. I really disliked the main character and thought that his work in other films with less dialogue was far superior. I don't feel the need to drag this out. I rate it bad.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Master Touch (1972)

An Italian West German crime film directed by Michele Lupo, starring Kirk Douglas.
A bank robber enlists the help of a circus gymnast to steal millions of dollars from a safe.
The characters and plot didn't really stand out to me. The style was typical of the date. If the film were the crime, they would get away with it by blending in so well. I thought the rig in the sound testing room was cool, but otherwise the film was all bland and boring. There was an ever so slight sense of tension when the characters were actually robbing the building. What we've got here is a mediocre film. I rate it poor.

Manhunt (1972)

An Italian crime action film directed by Fernando Di Leo.
A pair of American assassins are hired to kill a low level pimp in Milan when a shipment of heroine does not arrive. Somehow, all of Milan's crime underworld turns against this man.
I was reminded of a scene from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) because the Americans are there "to croak a scag baron named" no, not Savage Henry, but Luca Canali. That's about as far as the plot made sense. Who is the hero? Apparently, nobody. Why are all the gangsters from Milan out to kill this guy as well? The movie doesn't say. I call that marks against plot and characters. The main character is a pimp and there is some female nudity, but it is my opinion that the women in these roles were not "well endowed" enough to merit this placement. That's a negatory on the female anatomy points. Seems to me that this was just an excuse to film chase scenes and shootouts. It does a fairly good job of this, but does that make it a good movie? This is the type of question/situation that I've been facing most frequently as of late. I'm reviewing movies here and have a list of criteria on the right side of my page detailing what makes a good movie. This falls somewhat short of that mark, but I thought it was relatively entertaining to watch. I rate it o.k. It called into question my evaluation and rating procedures and gave me something to type about.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Maciste in King Solomon's Mines (1964)

An Italian action adventure sword and sandal film directed by Piero Regnoli, starring Reg Park.
The queen and child prince of a peaceful city escape as it is taken over by a violent man. They are captured and work as slaves in a gold mine. The local strongman, Maciste, who must save them, is also captured and has his mind erased by an anklet.
And yet another sword and sandal flick. This one was pretty standard issue. It had bar bending and lifting of heavy objects. Maciste also had his arms tied to separate teams of horses in an effort to pull him apart. The only thing that set it apart was that there were some African tribesmen in one part. Maciste also does a better job of bar bending than Hercules by actually removing the bars. I found a word for this type of film: Peplum. It basically means a sword and sandal flick. I'm rating this poor because it's the same crap as the other peplums.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Lost Jungle (1934)

An American action film directed by David Howard and Armand Schaefer, starring Clyde Beatty.
A lion tamer's girlfriend goes on a jungle expedition with her father on an island. When it is discovered that the expedition is stuck on the island, the lion tamer leads a rescue mission.
It is difficult to say whether the animals in this film were being mistreated. The zoo animals were in small cages (one of which contracted on the lion) and the "wild" animals were forced close together on a small movie set. There was a tense feeling throughout, as if the situation was just barely under control and could erupt into untold violence at any point. The audience was definitely being mistreated, though, while being forced to watch this gruesome spectacle. Most of the soundtrack consisted of canned growls and roars that were played whenever an animal was on-screen. The plot was basic and the characters were pretty shallow. I can't say I liked the style much, considering these factors. Though I may not like it, the style was very definitive and conveyed with a clear sense of strength. I'm giving this one of those wonky pink ratings because It did a very good job of communicating something that I don't really know if I agree with.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Long John Silver (1954)

An Australian American swashbuckling action adventure directed by Byron Haskin, starring Robert Newton.
A pirate captain pretends to aid a governor in the capture of another pirate while all the time plotting to return to an island to get treasure. The other pirate has a boy that John knows as a cabin boy and John takes the boy with him because he has an item that indicates the location of said treasure. The tavern wench is betrothed to John, but he leaves before the wedding and together with the boy, they go in search of the treasure.
The main character, Long John Silver makes the film here. With all of his "AARRR" and "BELAY"s, he defines pirate talk. Everything else about the film takes a back seat to this. With style dictated by pirate talk, everything else becomes unimportant. I'm rating it adequate because his pirate talk was repetitive, but very in character. If ye don't agree, I'll make ye walk the plank!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Laser Mission (1989)

An American action adventure directed by BJ Davis, starring Brandon Lee.
A mercenary tries to save a laser scientist with the help of the scientist's daughter.
The plot and characters were super '80s lame and cheesy, the soundtrack was extremely limited and dated and the style reeked of the time period. The element of this film that stood out the most was female anatomy points. Ooh la la, did it ever get female anatomy points! It was relatively clearly presented and the production value wasn't too bad. I'm rating it o.k. because it's worth a viewing if you're into stuff from the late '80s.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Jungle Book Sabu (1942)

A British Indian American adventure film directed by Zoltan Korda, starring Sabu Dastagir.
A boy is raised by wolves before entering human society. He learns good morals and how to speak with all the animals. This is seen as bad and exploited by the humans around him.
The production value may be low, but everything else was sky high. The characters were memorable, the plot lured the viewer in and style went to town on this one. It was identifiable at any point in it's duration as this film. I can't express in words how much that means. The actor that played Mowgli reminded me of Tony Jaa. Camera-work was done correctly. Lighting was right. Acting was on time and convincing. Some may try to down-play a public domain film, but this is the diamond in the rough. It was presented ever so clearly and with style. I mention style again because most films don't have it. Who in 1942 could make a good scene with 2 actors talking to a snake in color? These fuckin' people right here, that's who! I'm rating it best because it's epic and it pre-dates any other epic film. I wish I had more thumbs to put up for this! This is what I'm looking for: the diamond in the rough.

Jail Bait (1954)

An American crime drama directed by Ed Wood, starring Steve Reeves.
A small time criminal who is the son of a plastic surgeon and his gangster partner rob a theater, killing the night watchman and wounding a woman. The gangster kills the surgeon's son to protect himself and orders the surgeon to change his face so he can get away.
I actually thought this was pretty good. The plot was interesting and I liked the ending. The style was typical of the time period, but good and almost gave off a Twilight Zone vibe. On the negative side, the characters were extremely shallow. The production was also sub-par (come on, 1954? You expecting CG in HD?). Anyway, I'm rating it adequate because I think it's worth watching.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Jack London (1943)

An American biography drama directed by Alfred Santell, starring Michael O'Shea and Susan Hayward.
The story of author Jack London's life is told as he lives as a pirate, gold prospector and war correspondent.
The plot and characters were interesting, but nothing else really caught my attention. The sound was truly horrific, with rasping and popping during the dead air. The scenes that got into my memory are "bully on a boat", "horseback riding" and "give me my honorable camera". At least it wasn't a sword and sandal or a kung fu! I'm rating it o.k.
As a side-note, I've been writing some shorter reviews because I'm trying to plow through these public domain films. This is in line with keeping it concise and if I see something that requires a longer explanation, I will do so when I see fit.

Hero of Rome (1964)

An Italian sword and sandal action adventure film directed by Giorgio Ferroni.
When captured by Etruscans, a Roman soldier burns his hand to demonstrate that he will not tell them anything. He learns to fight left-handed and leads the Roman troops to victory.
When I read the plot, I asked "Is that it?". It sure seemed like more happened in the movie, but so what? It's just another sword and sandal. The camera-work was alright and the fights were choreographed pretty well. I'll rate it poor instead of bad.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Hercules Unchained (1959)

A French Italian sword and sandal action adventure film directed by Pietro Francisci, starring Steve Reeves.
Hercules is captured and his memory erased while conflict over the leadership of Thebes takes place.
This one was produced a little better than the other sword and sandal films. The same stuff happened like bar bending, holding doorways and political intrigue. Hercules' wife looked very good and the film didn't have that "dirty" look that so typifies this genre. For doing a few things slightly better, I will raise the rating to poor, rather than bad.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Hercules and the Tyrants of Babylon (1964)

An Italian sword and sandal action film directed by Domenico Paolella.
A princess is captured by the Babylonians and hides her identity as a common slave. She sends for Hercules to come save her and the people of her kingdom from the Babylonian royalty who conspire against one another.
...and another one. Political intrigue, feats of strength, nobles in hiding, whatever. I don't even care anymore. It all just blends together so much that I can barely tell it's a different movie. Sometimes Hercules has a beard, but he never EVER wears a shirt. Before I go on another rant (saving that for the last sword and sandal debacle), I'll rate it bad.

Hercules and the Masked Rider (1963)

An Italian action adventure film directed by Piero Pierotti.
A princess is engaged to a corrupt man who she does not love. Her true love returns from a war to find this and leads a band of gypsies and a strongman to overthrow the government.
Hercules outside of the sword and sandal genre? Too bad it didn't end up being any different. This is just like our famous hero's escapades in his own genre, with too much politics, crappy production and poor presentation. Again I don't feel the need for a long review and just rate it poor.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Hercules and the Conquest of Atlantis (1961)

A French Italian sword and sandal action adventure film directed by Vittorio Cottafavi.
After being forced into a sea voyage, Hercules meets a god called Proteus who is holding a young woman captive. After defeating the god, Hercules brings the woman to her home in Atlantis where he finds out that she was sacrificed by her mother, the queen.
Yet another sword and sandal flick that is just as worthless as the last. I think I only have a few more of these to go. No style, vague and muddy plot, forgettable characters, you know the deal. Rating it bad.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Hercules Against the Moon Men (1964)

A French Italian sword and sandal science fiction action film directed by Giacomo Gentilomo.
Hercules saves the citizens of a city from their corrupt queen and the aliens with whom she has been plotting to rule the world.
Another crappy sword and sandal flick. More mandatory bar bending scenes for Hercules. This time they added a science fiction element to really spice it up and make things different (sarcasm). I don't think that a long review is necessary for this type of thing. I rate it bad.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Gone with the West A.K.A. Little Moon and Jud McGraw (1975)

An American western directed by Bernard Girard, starring James Caan, Stefanie Powers and Sammy Davis Jr.
A man who is released from prison teams up with a Mexican woman to destroy a town with a corrupt leader.
I just watched this a second time and I was wrong in my initial review. This is what would happen if Bakshi did a live action western. Most of the story is told visually and through changes in the musical score. The two main characters are very memorable and the simple plot makes it easy to pay attention to. My favorite scene is still the one with the Mexican woman trying to get the cowboy's attention. The ending (which I still won't spoil) is good too because they break the fourth wall. I had initially thought that the funk and fusion music in the soundtrack was out of place, but now that I see it again, it makes more sense. I was strongly reminded of the Wizards (1977) soundtrack. I realized that this was a repeat that I accidentally got again because of the folk song that accompanies the beginning and ending. Then I thought of the picture above and decided to give it another chance. Glad I did, because now I'm changing my rating from poor to awesome. Definitely recommended for anyone who likes '70s films.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Goliath and the Dragon (1960)

A French Italian sword and sandal action adventure film directed by Vittorio Cottafavi.
A Grecian strongman fights monsters to protect his loved ones, thwart political schemes and disturb the gods.
The only reason to watch this is for the way cheesy monster fights. The hero (Goliath or Hercules?) faces Cerberus, a flying demon, a real elephant and a wingless dragon. I can see why it was voted by The Official Razzie Movie Guide to be one of the best bad movies ever made. I don't want to give too much away about the monsters, but the budget was pretty low and the results are definitely entertaining. The plot was easy to follow, even while distracted, and the characters are identifiable. The quality of the audio and video were low, but what do you expect? The camera-work was shitty and any style present came from lack thereof. I'll rate it o.k. because it's so bad it's good.

God's Gun (1975)

An Italian Israeli spaghetti western directed by Gianfranco Parolini, starring Lee Van Cleef and Leif Garrett.
An orphaned boy is looked after by a priest. He thinks that his parents are dead. The priest has a gun behind the altar of their church which does not belong to him. When the priest is killed, the boy seeks out the owner of the gun and reveals his true history.
This diamond in the rough is what I'm talking about! The style is very much a classic western, with good camera-work and a fitting soundtrack. The plot and characters were interesting and plots for each character were developed as to how they fit together in the main plot. The costumes were awesome and made me want to dress like a cowboy. The sets were great because they looked old, lived in and dirty/dusty like the old west is supposed to be. The only criticism that I have for this film is that the barroom brawl/dry-hump scene was too long. I'm rating this good because it's exactly the quality of film that I want to watch more frequently.