sep1051

IMDb member since October 2001
    Lifetime Total
    25+
    IMDb Member
    18 years

Reviews

Red Silk
(1999)

Threadbare Jess Franco film
This is a rather threadbare Jess Franco film which was apparently intended as a comic caper film. After watching it my first impression was that it couldn't have taken more than a few days and a budget in the low tens of thousands to shoot. The small cast, long long takes (particularly of the nude scenes) and talky nature all implied limited budget despite the offsetting value of scenic southern Spain.

A pair of female private eyes/sex cabaret workers get involved in an art theft and a kidnapping. Nothing really happens in the film in terms of action and consequently the two women, talking about things we should be seeing, represent 80-90% of the film. The performances by Lina Romay and Christie Levin are broad and apparently amusing to them since the endlessly break into hoots about things that aren't remotely funny. The theory that a laughing performance creates a comedy film also effects the rest of the actors in the art sub-plot while, in contrasting tone, the actors in the kidnapping subplot are somber (offset, of course, by the leading ladies hooting).

As noted above there is copious nudity, full frontal, and simulated sex (mostly girl-girl). However, viewers interested in that aspect should be aware that half of the nudity is contributed by Lina Romay. While, in this feminist age, I acknowledge the right of short, overweight, fiftyish women with butch haircuts, to appear nude on film, I should note that it may be an acquired taste for some male viewers.

Technically the official DVD release was fine with respect to the photography, music etc. but I have major reservations about the dubbing. I've seen hundreds of dubbed European films, dubbed using professional "voice" performers, and never had difficulty with the dubbing. Here, in what I can only assume is a budget issue, they have not used professional voices but presumably friends and family. The result in rapid English through thick Spanish accents. This requires more effort than the dialogue is worth. Possibly the film is better in the original Spanish but I can't say.

Maroc 7
(1967)

Individual elements more interesting than the whole
Maroc 7 is one of those films that has a number of elements, individually of interest, but collectively failing to come together effectively.

The mysterious Simon Grant (Gene Barry) breaks into the home of fashion magazine editor Louise Henderson (Cyd Charisse) in order to get material to blackmail her into letting him accompany her on a fashion layout photo shoot in Morocco. Apparently he believes she was involved in a series of jewel thefts and he wants to get his share of the next caper. They are accompanied on the trip by her top model Claudia (Elsa Martinelli), shifty photographer Raymond Lowe (Leslie Phillips) and model wrangler Freddie (Angela Douglas). They are also accompanied by several models, including one, Vivienne, played by Tracy Reed. In Morocco they meet cynical police Inspector Barrada (Denholm Elliott), his attractive assistant Michelle Craig (Alexandra Stewart) and dubious antiquities expert Professor Bannen (Eric Barker).

The plot involves secret maps, robbing tombs and multiple double crosses. It doesn't really generate a lot of excitement but does have the decided attraction of being fast moving. They do try to enhance the ending with a fun plot twist. A major attraction is the colorful setting in Morocco, which is shown to great advantage.

Similarly the acting is professional, I don't think there is any bad performances per se, but it doesn't generate much emotional involvement. Perhaps the combination of 1940's Hollywood (Berry, Charisse) with 1960's swinging London was simply never going to be a comfortable fit. Although the photo shoot scenes, obviously dated to the 1960's (although I have no objection to miniskirts), provides some visual flair to match the Moroccan scenery. Denholm Elliott creates the most interesting character, while Elsa Martinelli and Alexandra Stewart are attractive love interests.

Leslie Phillips also produced the movie and he talked briefly about that experience on the commentary track for the British DVD release of Very Important Person (1961). Apparently he was interested in directing and thought that producing a movie would be a step in that direction. While he didn't say what, if anything, he enjoyed about producing, he was very clear about disliking all the financial management that went with producing. He mentioned, in passing, that the budget of Maroc 7 was approximately half a million dollars. According to IMDb this is the only movie he produced and he never directed any films (although his commentary referenced extensive theater directing). As an aside I would be interested in knowing whether the name of Alexandra Stewart's character, Michelle Craig, was an "inside joke" on Leslie Phillips' Doctor In Love co-star Michael Craig.

The quality of the print, in the German DVD release version I saw, could best be described as acceptable. In truth, having seen the movie on TV several times over the years, I have never really seen a pristine print of the film. The deterioration is regrettable given the colorful scenery in Morocco.

Overall the film is an acceptable time waster, although the elements are more workmanlike than inspired.

Rentadick
(1972)

The bits are better than the whole
Rentadick is an English comedy where the individual parts are better than the whole.

Armitage (Donald Sinden), a chemicals manufacturer has two concerns: he suspects that his wife Utta (Julie Ege) is unfaithful and he needs to protect his new chemical formula from Japanese spies, led by Madame Greenfly (Tsai Chen). He retains security expert Major Upton (Ronald Fraser) to address both problems. Major Upton sets the virginal Hobbs (Richard Beckinsale) to spy on Utta. He sets his "Number 1", Hamilton (James Booth) to protect the industrial secrets. Unfortunately Hamilton, a rather dubious character with a sideline of kidnapping girls for shipment to the Middle East by Hussein (Michael Bentine), strikes a deal with Madame Greenfly to obtain the chemical formula for her. In this he is assisted by bumbling agency operatives Owltruss (John Wells - who is also credited with additional dialog for the film) and West (Kenneth Cope). Another agency operative, Miles Gannet (Richard Briers), manages to screw up both problems even more.

Some of the plot points have not aged well. The concept of female sex slaves for the Middle East makes one cringe. Similarly the stereotyping of the Japanese and Arab characters are inappropriate in a multicultural world. Anyone who is offended by these unfortunate cultural relics will likely find the film unacceptable and not amusing.

If you can look past those issues the film is moderately, but only moderately, amusing. The film was written by Monty Python's John Cleese and Graham Chapman. However, there is obviously something that happened with the film inasmuch as their screen credits were removed (presumably at their request). I would assume there was disagreement over the vision of the film inasmuch as the tone varies all over the place from drawing room to satire to absurdest. I was astounded to read on IMDb that the director, Jim Clark, was an Oscar winner (albeit for film editing on The Killing Fields, also nominated for The Mission). So there was some talent behind the camera.

All of the actors in front of the camera are quite talented (except perhaps for Julie Ege, who at least is quite decorative). Donald Sinden ,with eyebrows flying, takes the heroic British acting technique of "damn the material, full spreed ahead". Ronald Fraser comes off best with endearing comic mannerisms. James Booth, a good actor, suffers from a script that makes him a cartoon character throughout. Richard Briers is his usual fluttery nervousness. Richard Beckinsale (the father, by the way, of actress Kate Beckinsale and who died at the tragic age of 32) and Kenneth Cope have less to do. As for John Wells, well you either like in a mouse suit (don't ask) or you don't. The latter basically illustrates the issue of comedy in this film. Most of the sub-plot regarding Julie Ege plays well because the actors, most veterans of London's west end stage comedies, are used to the compromising positions, slamming doors, hiding etc. of this genre. However the film transforms into a more absurdest comedy as it moves towards resolution of the chemical formula plot line (which contains the more objectionable stereotyping noted above). Everyone suddenly has to become a cartoon and, while there is no British actor who isn't game, many can only go to louder exaggeration as a performance.

If you are offended by the sexual and racial concerns noted above you should avoid this film. If you can live them and the wildly uneven tone of the film then there is enough comedy and beloved actors to give this film at least one viewing.

P.S. if you want to see a movie written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman (albeit with Peter Cook) and featuring Ronald Fraser that really works I would strongly recommend the political satire "The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer" (regrettably very difficult to obtain in North America).

What's Up Nurse!
(1978)

Another "Oh, its not as bad as all that ...." comment
If you were to categorize all the comments on IMDb you would end up with a large group of "Oh, it's not as bad as all that..." comments. Inevitably the film in question has a few modest "good" points but ends up being described as the "worst film ever made". Some lonely poster feels called upon to try and put some perspective back into the discussion. That is all just a preamble to saying that What's Up Nurse isn't really as bad as all that.

Young Doctor Todd (Nicholas Field) has an embarrassing encounter with Olivia Ogden (Felicity Devonshire) on the train to his new hospital appointment. This sets up his meeting with her father, the senior surgeon, Doctor Ogden (John Le Mesurier), the hospital orderly Carthew (Graham Stark - also an associate producer of this film) and the hospital Matron (Kate Williams). He obtains lodging with the young widow Helen Arkwright (Angela Grant) and starts work at the hospital. His work leads him to a gentleman who believes he has a "frog" in his throat (Mr. Newberry - Keith Smith), a gentleman who has an unfortunate problem with an inanimate object ("The Jam Jar Man" - Ronnie Brody) and local confidence man Flash Harry Harrison (Bill Pertwee). Along for a variety of other roles are actors from the Carry On film series (Peter Butterworth and Jack Douglas) and assorted British television comedies (i.e. Anna Karen "On The Buses", Frank Williams "Dad's Army", Andrew Sachs "Faulty Towers" - a waiter again!).

There appears to be three basic criticisms of this film: its degrading for established British comedy actors to appear in a "sex comedy", that the film does indeed contain sex and that finally that it isn't all that funny. For the first point it should be noted that many established British actors appeared in sex comedies during this period (a relatively lean period for the British film industry). In this film the established actors (i.e. John Le Mesurier et al) don't really appear in any of the sexy bits but are more concerned with the hospital aspects of the script. On the second point, there is nudity in the film but it isn't any more than I see in mainstream Hollywood movies today. Its mostly handled by the fetching Angela Grant, apparently Felicity Devonshire was four months pregnant during the filming of this movie, and a nudist camp stumbled into by Dr. Todd in his search for Mr. Newberry' s frog! The third point is a matter of personal taste. British comedy is often the comedy of embarrassment and any combination of sex and the indignities of hospitals offer opportunities for comedy.

I'm not here to argue this is a great movie. In addition to the points above, the younger actors (i.e. Field, who reminds me of a young James Villiers, and Devonshire) are rather bland. However there is a steady stream of comedy, admittedly more of embarrassment than of wit, and little of it very original. In addition the film will appeal to the fans of the plethora of beloved British comedy actors who are doing their bit.

Fatal Pursuit
(1995)

Erotic thriller with some erotic and no thriller
Fatal Pursuit is a poorly executed attempt at the erotic thriller genre. While suffering a number of faults it is primarily undermined by it's script.

Gang boss Bechtal (Malcolm McDowell), his moll Giselle (Lydie Dernier) and muscle Franco (Robert Z'Dar) steal $8 million in diamonds in a violent New Orleans kidnapping/robbery. British insurer Pinkrose (Michael Ensign) sends in Jill (Shannon Whirry) to investigate. She is teamed with local "good old boy" private investigator Deghy (L.P. Brown 111) and his sidekick Herbert (Charles Napier). They trace a witness to the crime through bad cops (Larry Manetti as Gersi), good cops (Obba Babatunde as Trindad, Joe Estevez as Morier) and subsequent witness Shelby (Larry Linville). Regarding the latter, Major Frank Burns in the MASH TV series, I should just note that this was his second to last credit before passing away. RIP.

L.P. Brown is believable as a "bad boy" private investigator and, as a co-producer of the movie, seems to have made sure he gets the best one liners. Unfortunately this leaves less for the other characters. This is especially notable with Shannon Whirry, who starts out with a reasonably strong and independent character but, through the script, ebbs into the "girl" in awe of our "hero". Charles Napier looks ready to have some fun, of course with that grin when didn't he look like he was ready for some fun, but the script leaves him nothing to do. Malcolm McDowell career has unfortunately descended into playing villains in B movies. The best that can be said here is that he's energetic, the man can snarl with intensity, but unfortunately that is all the performance entails. Lydie Dernier' s character is described or seen as "on the street" (prostitute?), thief, gangster's moll, killer and tourist shop operator. No wonder she just decided to play it as psycho. Robert Z'Dar has physical presence but isn't called on to do much (acting wise).

Once the romantic antagonism between Deghy and Jill peters out there isn't anything left but the plot. It would be unfair to say there is no plot; there is one and within its own context it is logical. The problem is that the plot is fundamentally stupid. First there is the witness to the jewel theft. Then there is the witness to the death of the first witness. It is nothing but coincidences related to the gangsters' amazing proclivity to leave witnesses. You've just killed a couple of people, stolen $8 million in diamonds and then you just glare at the witness and walk off! As for the erotic I would say that Shannon Whirry' s shower scene more than makes up for the fact that her British accent keeps coming and going. If they had expanded that to ninety minutes and cut the rest of the film we might have to revise our vote to 9 out of 10.

On the positive side the movie has a few good one liners, initial romantic tension between the leads and it moves along. It may make passable viewing for viewers in a non-demanding frame of mind. However I honestly couldn't understand why people just don't rent The Big Easy instead (same ambiance much more successfully executed).

Q
(1974)

French sex comedy available on poor DVD
I came across this French sex comedy through a British DVD release called "The World's Best Whorehouse For Women". This alternative title does not appear in the IMDb database.

Gilles (Philippe Gaste), who operates a money losing garage, teams up with his friends Max (Pierre Danny), who operates a scrap yard, and lawyer Xavier (Jean Roche) to open a brothel catering to women. They get the idea from Gilles' secretary Irma (Nanette Corey), a former prostitute. They are assisted in the implementation by Max's wife Juliette (Anne Libert) and Sabine (Malisa Longo) who is mad for Gilles. Unfortunately Gilles has fallen for Florence (Corine O'Brien) the daughter of the conservative Prime Minister (Jean Paredes) and his wife (Yvonne Clech). When the Prime Minister tries to shut down the brothel Gilles decides to stand against him in the election.

Unfortunately I can not really comment on the quality of the movie because the quality of the DVD, from Jef Films, was terrible. IMDb does not list the run time for "Q" but this DVD version clocks in a 64 minutes and has obviously been severely cut. This is most evident in the first third, the setting up of the story, where there are scenes that are inexplicable (i.e. Gilles having supper in a group, with the next scene Gilles getting out of bed with two naked girls and leaving - something happened, I know not what). Even in the remainder of the film the transitions between scenes are extremely abrupt (i.e. cuts as soon as character stops speaking). In addition, the print quality of what remains is poor, with color washed out. Compared to many viewers I am probably overly forgiving in terms of print quality, especially if its a movie I otherwise can't see, but in this case I think I need to be very specific with the problems because the excessive editing clearly effects comprehension of the story.

There were a number of funny scenes in what remained. I enjoyed them using a true schoolroom as a setting for Irma to teach the men how to make love to women and the men misbehaving as they would in any classroom. Nanette Corey and veteran comic Jean Paredes generally take the acting honors. The former, an attractive redhead, also takes the nudity honors.

There may be something to this movie but I would only recommend viewing it with a better print. So I have put in rating of 3 which maybe unfair inasmuch as the performers aren't accountable for this subsequent editing.

Under the Doctor
(1976)

Come now - its a lot more than Liz Fraser
While I would not like to be in the position of defending Under The Doctor as a great British sex comedy, if in fact there is such a thing, I would object to those who treat it as a paean to Liz Fraser.

Under The Doctor consists of four stories linked by the concept of people telling them to a psychiatrist (Barry Evans). The first patient, Marion Parson (Penny Spencer) is a young woman who has erotic fantasies about a potential employer Mr. Johnson (Barry Evans again) at a job interview. The second patient, the noble Lady Victoria Stockbridge (Hilary Pritchard), tells the tale of how she supports her luxurious lifestyle by wheedling "inside" information on the stock market from smitten banker Rodney Harrington-Harrington (Jonathan Cecil); he with the lecherous butler Wilkins (Peter Cleall). She then relates her fantasy of being an 18th century lady being dueled over by the foppish Lord Woodbridge (Jonathan Cecil again) and the dashing Lieutenant Cranshaw (Barry Evans again). The final patient is the single, live at home with Mom, Sandra (Liz Fraser) who fantasizes about rekindling the flame with her imaginary husband Colin (Barry Evans again).

In terms of sex, Penny Spencer is the youngest, prettiest and most naked. Hilary Pritchard contributes some worthwhile topless views and Liz Fraser does Victoria's Secret proud in the lingerie department. Although I am a lifetime fan of Liz Fraser's comic skills I must be a cad and suggest that perhaps she was reaching a stage where those skills might best be shown fully dressed.

In terms of comedy the offerings are much more dependent on your personal taste. The tone of the film is difficult to describe inasmuch as there is a touch of the fevered back of the hand to the forehead Perils of Pauline approach to the fantasies. It will either attract your interest or leave you confused. Most of the comic situations are simplistic and unoriginal (except for the "insider trading" plot line which is most likely to appeal to those with a business background).

In terms of acting Liz Fraser, with her vibrant performance and comic timing leads the pack. I've seen Jonathan Cecil in small roles in many British movies but the persona he displayed in each was always the same. Here he has a larger role and, while his persona is exactly the same (whether you like it is a matter of personal taste), there is no doubt he's enjoying it immensely. I feel like a cad, again, in being unable to say anything nice about Barry Evans rather flat performance. I feel that I owe him something to offset the tragedy of his short life but unfortunately I can't find anything on the screen.

Technical credits on the DVD I watched were low average.

Not Wanted on Voyage
(1957)

Enjoyable British comedy has aged a bit
As a fan of British comedies of this era I was pleased to discover Not Wanted On Voyage.

Two cabin stewards, the scheming Albert Higgins (Ronald Shiner) and his dim witted mate Cecil Hollebone (Brian Rix), set out on a ocean voyage under the exasperated Chief Steward (Michael Brennen). Along for the trip are the wealthy Mrs. Borough (Fabia Drake) and her secretary Pat (Dorinda Stevens). Obviously Mrs. Borough's jewels attract the attention of thieves Guy Harding (Griffith Jones) and Julie Harris (Catherine Boyle). Also along for the trip are the demanding Col. Blewton-Fawcett (Michael Shepley) and honeymooners Mr. and Mrs. Rose (John T. Chapman and Therese Burton).

The plot of the movie is primarily the theft of Mrs. Borough's jewels, no points for guessing who gets falsely accused of the dastardly deed, but most of the movie consists of scenes of Steward Higgins' moneymaking schemes and Steward Hollebone's ineptitude as they interact with a variety of passengers and crew.

The attractions of this movie include a good mix of verbal and physical comedy, a high professional standard amongst the large cast of characters and a good pacing (82 minutes).

However, on the negative side, the comedy seems a little dated, with the verbal comedy not memorably witty and the physical comedy not terribly original. Perhaps the bigger negative is that, upon reflection, many of the main characters aren't that sympathetic. Ronald Shiner's character literally doesn't do anything good for anyone, including his purported mate played by Brian Rix, without charging money for it. Contrast this with Sid James' characters in the Carry On films, who often schemed but inevitably were revealed to have a soft heart. Only Brian Rix's character comes off as warm but obviously playing dim witted all the time has its own limitations.

None of this detracts from the fact that the movie is pleasantly enjoyable watching but it does mean that the emotional satisfaction from the movie is less.

Technical credits on the British DVD I watched were professional.

I bandoleros della dodicesima ora
(1972)

Good natured comic spaghetti western
This is a serviceable comic spaghetti western which doesn't take itself too seriously. Three bandits rob the train of the settlers' money (allowing their cohort, the evil local banker (is there any other kind in spaghetti westerns?), to seize the settlers' land). Our three not so upright heroes rob the robbers but, needless to say, get distracted by the settlers' womenfolk.

When I watched this film my first impression was that it was an absolute rip-off of the Terence Hill/Bud Spencer westerns (i.e. They Call Me Trinity). Only here we have Michael Forest in the laconic never ruffled Terence Hill role and Fred Harrison, bringing his fist down on the top of people's heads, in the Bud Spencer role. Once you get by the comparison you can accept Forest and Harrison's generally good natured approach to the roles. I found Paolo Gozlino to be a bit aggravating as their sidekick but mugging for the camera is an honored practice in spaghetti westerns. Malisa Longo is very attractive, but largely wasted, as the head of the settlers. The three not so bright bandits are played very broadly.

There is no surprises in the plot (i.e. the money keeps passing back and forth between the bandits and our heroes). The comedy is more good natured than original (although Michael Forest and his horse should be seen). The movies ends with a rousing 15-20 minute fight/tear the town down scene that will leave spaghetti western fans satisfied.

I came across this movie on DVD under the title "Now They Call Him Sacramento" (which isn't a title listed in IMDb). Technical credits on the DVD were excellent.

Ladrón que roba a ladrón
(2007)

Character driven caper film exceeds expectation
I don't believe that I need to recap the plot of this movie since other commentators have done so quite clearly. However I would like to expand on three aspects of the film: the casting, comparable movies, and the technical credits.

I'm an Anglo and came across the movie by accident on Amazon.com. As such I was totally unfamiliar with the cast of this movie, most of whom appear to have extensive credits in Hispanic television series. When an actor delivers a good performance you can credit the actor. When all the actors fit their roles you have to credit the casting. Saul Lisazo, as the putative villain Moctesuma Valdez, was impressive. Both of the gang leaders, Miquel Varoni as Emilio Lopez and Fernando Colunga as Alejandro Toledo, were in character. While the latter was billed first, I assume he's better known for his television work, I would say the former was more of a standout in this film. Ruben Garfias was expressive as car jockey Rafa and Ivonne Montero was very dynamic as his motor-head daughter Rafaela. Gabriel Soto brought some charm to the usually thankless role of caper muscle man. Julie Gonzalo was attractive in the role of the nanny Gloria but Sonya Smith had little to do as Mrs. Valdez (apparently she was more actively involved in a sub-plot which was cut from the movies to reduce run time). Oscar Torres as Miguelito, a would be actor, and Jon Molerio as a security guard provide standout comedy relief. Only the computer "nerd" role of Julio Miranda was surprisingly under written given that it was played by JoJo Henrickson, the author of the screen play. It is relatively seldom that all major roles in a film are well cast. It is a high compliment when I say it makes me want to go out and look at the other work of these performers.

Commentators have compared this film to Ocean's Eleven (1960/2001) or the The Sting (1973) in terms of where it was derived from and the style of the caper. I don't know who made the first caper film, with people coming together to stage a heist, but I know it definitively precedes Ocean's Eleven (1960). Without even pausing I can think of Jules Dassin's Rafifi (1955), Stanley Kubrick's The Killing (1956) or John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle (1950). In terms of style I think we must remember that this film was apparently made on a budget of US$900,000 over twenty days. Its simply not going to have the high-technology caper of a big budget Ocean's Eleven (2001). The complexity of the caper is more like that of 1960's television series Mission Impossible or Man From U.N.C.L.E. However the director and writer of this film wisely choose to concentrate on character and social commentary rather than complexity of the caper. This fits better within both the budget and the concept of invisible immigrants staging a caper. Part of the emotional satisfaction with the ending is the social commentary embedded within it.

Technical credits are normally taken for granted but deserve comment in this case. The camera work is particularly impressive, with use of continuous takes as the camera moves amongst the participants in the scene. This style binds the characters together and creates both realism and a sense of activity. I was also impressed with some of the framing of the shots, with the main characters bookending the background events. I don't think I've ever commented on subtitles in a movie. Inevitably one senses that the subtitles you are reading are a poor reflection of what's said in the original language. In this case the English subtitles, I presume by the screen writer JoJo Henrickson, are fluid and fully convey the emotions on the screen. The catchy soundtrack also adds to the professionalism of the credits.

XX: Utsukushiki kinô
(1996)

It all depends on whether you like the twist ending
Beautiful Killing Machine is a very average Japanese "girl with gun" movie whose only real interest is in the twist ending. Female bodyguard (Cheryl -Rei Natsume) is hired to protect a Honk Kong jewel thief (Kou - Naomasa Musaka) from the "Owl" (Kenichi Endo). Cheryl is supported by her mentor, one armed bar keeper Mark (Shunsuke Kariya) and her female physician, Dr. Hayami (Saiko Isshiki) who helps Cheryl deal with flashbacks concerning a kick boxing event that links Cheryl to the "Owl". The movie is clearly a low budget direct to video affair with limited cast and settings. Within that context the storyline is simplistic, the action sequences unlikely to satisfy any "action" fans and the female nudity, adequate as it is, insufficient to satisfy voyeurs. The acting was generally acceptable, with Shunsuke Kariya coming off best, but nothing to write home about. In fact the only real interest in this film is the plot twist at the end, in regards to the prior relationship of Cheryl and the "Owl". It isn't what you expected it to be. It appears some other commentators didn't get the twist, probably those pesky sub-titles, or as recorded in Amazon's comment board, were even offended by it. Personally I just said "Oh, thats a very different way of bringing all the plot points together". Consequently whether you are in any way satisfied by this movie may depend on your reaction to the twist ending.

Emmanuelle à Cannes
(1980)

When female nudity is boring even to heterosexuals
Unfortunately it would be impossible to "spoil" the plot of this movie for readers inasmuch as there is no plot. Stripper/prostitute Emmanuelle (Olinka Hardiman) leaves her cheating boyfriend in order to attain her dream of stardom, or at least movie roles, at the film festival in Cannes. The film consists solely of three or four "soft-porn" sequences, much wriggling and moaning, with the vast majority of the film being "filler" of Emmanuelle walking around Cannes to an idiotic voice over about her movie aspirations. There is minimal dialog and consequently all of the walk around scenes are interchangeable except for the voice over. Was that Emmanuelle meeting the journalist? Or Emmanuelle meeting the actor? Or Emmanuelle meeting the producer? Who can tell since all the scenes are the same.

I had never heard of Olinka Hardiman, before seeing this film, although IMDb shows an extensive "adult" career. I don't know how you would classify her "performance" since, with only limited dialog, in consists of either walking around Cannes or rolling around in a bed. She was moderately attractive, undressed, but this movie was clearly made before "adult" performers discovered the gym and "toned" up.

Technical credits were mediocre at best.

Personally I found both the film and Olinka Hardiman boring. Its interest lies only with those "completists" interested in either Olinka Hardiman's nudity or the "Emmanuelle" series. However I doubt that this film has any relationship to the "Emmanuelle" series except for opportunistic exploitation of the title.

Steak
(2007)

Riddle: Which comes first, a joke or the end of the movie?
This movie has one of the most interesting distributions of "votes" I have ever seen on IMDb. As of this date approximately the same number and percentage (23%) of voters think this is a "10" as think it is a "1" (with the balance evenly distributed in between). Clearly a movie you either love or hate! My vote was "1 (Awful)" and I honestly can't conceive what anyone who voted "10 (Excellent)" could possibly say to justify such a vote.

The story line is very minimal. Two "losers", played by Eric and Ramzy, want to belong to the "cool" high school group - the Chivers. The latter is a group of males who strive to be "perfect" - with plastic surgery, shallow girlfriends, non-smoking etc. Beyond this concept there isn't any plot per se, simply a number of inter-changeable incidents all showing that Eric and Ramzy are too much losers to ever fit into the group. The incidents aren't very original and you would need an IQ below room temperature not to foresee where they were going or how they would end. These carry on until, lacking any character or plot development, the screenwriter simply tosses in an ending. Obviously a counter argument would be that this is all a "brillant" satire on high school conformity and I've simply missed the point. To paraphrase LLoyd Bentsen's old political zinger "I knew satire and you are no satire". Look to "Heathers" or for that matter even "Animal House". There you have a variety of believable, if misfit, characters, unforeseen plot twists, character development throughout the film(s) and witty dialog. Regrettably all are lacking in STEAK.

There is no appreciable "acting" to comment on. Eric and Ramzy basically play one note characters similar to their other movies, sweet stupid and excitable stupid respectively. That does not change from beginning to end. The Chivers may seek conformity but unfortunately it is a very boring conformity with no distinct performances. Needless to say all the actors were 15 to 20 years too old for their roles. I watched Eric and Ramzy in "La Tour Montparnasse Infernale" and would rate it a "5". In retrospect one of the main distinctions of that film was a far more interesting supporting cast. I can't think of a single supporting actor in STEAK who generated much interest.

The technical credits, on the DVD I watched, were professional.

Obviously there is some market for Eric and Ramzy's "all stupid all the time" routine. I can only think of the reviewer of "La Tour Montparnasse Infernale" who, rating it 9 out of 10, explained that it got funnier the more alcohol he/she drank. I had the misfortune to see STEAK stone cold sober. Is it possible that the 23% of the voters who ranked it a "10" might have had a little alcoholic stimulus before they voted? P.S. the answer to the riddle was that the movie ended (84 minutes) before I laughed.

Fast and Loose
(1954)

Lost in an era of innocence with the delightful Miss K!
A young married couple, Peter (Brian Reece) and Barbara (June Thorburn) are taking the train to visit friends in the English countryside for the weekend. Leaving Barbara in the train on the platform Peter pops out to buy a newspaper, meeting old "friend" Carol (Kay Kendall) at the news stand. Naturally the train leaves while they're still catching up! Peter takes Carol back to his apartment, and dubious family maid Rawlings (Dora Bryan), while arranging a car to take them to the country. By now Barbara has contacted her parents, formidable Mrs. Crabb (Fabia Drake) and tippler Mr. Crabb (Stanley Holloway), with the news that Peter has "run off" with another woman. Their suspicions confirmed by Rawlings they set off in pursuit. Unfortunately Peter and Carol have been stranded with a broken car and take shelter in a small inn ran by Gladys (Vida Hope). Needless to say there is only one bedroom available and needless to say Gladys has strong religious principles against unmarried cohabitation! Signing the register, as a married couple, Peter and Carol have a close call with the passing Reverend Tripp-Johnson (Reginald Beckwith), who married family friend Carol but can't quite remember her husband. Peter spends a restless night trying to find somewhere to sleep, under the suspicious eye of Gladys, and to sneak Carol's dog in from the rainy barn. As to be expected Barbara and her parents arrive, followed closely by the Reverend and ultimately Carol's husband, Member of Parliament Claude (Alexander Gauge). Someone once said that English comedy is the "comedy of embarrassment" and this is shown in the subsequent interactions.

I have always been enjoyed British comedies from the 40s to the early 60s. They benefit from the fantastic array of British character actors, a more literate or at least verbal comedy than their American cousins and an air of innocence long lost. This film has all three. Brian Reece is a bit "wet" for my taste but all other actors are strong. The key attraction is the sadly missed Kay Kendell. At the end, as Carol's husband is bombarded by accusations from Mrs. Crabb against her and Peter, she simply wraps her husband around her finger with wit and charm. Its amazing that people not even born when she died are grandparents. However her charm, style, wit and knowing look are more "modern" then ever.

The Big Bounce
(1969)

Of Interest But Not Truly Successful In Adapting Elmore Leonard's Work
I watched this movie with curiosity rather than interest inasmuch as I'd seen some comments that it had "bombed" when initially released. The ratings in IMDB, where as many people rated it a four as rated it a ten, clearly showed that it elicits a wide range of individual reactions. Personally I thought that it was worth watching but has a number of weaknesses. Jack Ryan (Ryan O'Neal) is a drifter working as a farm field worker. Fired for getting into a fight he escapes trial due to the intervention of the local judge, Sam Mirakian (Van Heflin). Jack is told to leave town by the farm supervisor Bob Rodgers (Robert Webber). However he stays after meeting the farm owner, "pickle king" Ray Ritchie (James Daly) and his secretary/mistress Nancy Barker (Leigh Taylor-Young). Jack takes a job as handyman at a hotel owned by the judge where he also meets a divorced woman, Joanne (Lee Grant), and her daughter. Unfortunately Jack begins to romance Nancy who turns out to be a thrill seeker (nice 1960's exploitation movie term!). Thrills include vandalism, breaking and entering and more (no sense giving away the plot). The movie is not entirely successful. In large part this is because it was taken from a book by Elmore Leonard. His works have a significant element of black comedy but, when played straight as here, it comes off as absurd melodrama. This movie has none of the sense of fun (i.e. Get Shorty) that this nuanced material needs. Fortunately Elmore Leonard's plots are relatively complex and full of incident so the movie keeps going and doesn't sag. The actors, aside from the pleasure of seeing them all so young, are mixed. Ryan O'Neal is best at light comedy which is to say that his performance here is limited. Leigh Taylor-Young displays a far greater range although, from time to time, a little histrionic for my personal taste (but then again I'm not a big Bette Davis fan either). While I've always looked forward to seeing Robert Webber I have to admit that he has only one expression throughout this movie. James Daly is underutilized but does have one extremely nasty scene, in the delicious sense of the word, pimping Nancy ("How would I know, I'm in produce"). The revelation is Van Heflin who is far more avuncular than I've ever seen him. I swear he was "channeling" Brian Keith! Unfortunately he lived only another two years and we lost what could have been a very interesting career as an older "character" man. RIP. The technical credits are fine and the gorgeous California scenery, I suspect the Monterey peninsula, would convince me to move. Overall the movie is worth watching but shows why Elmore Leonard's novels have a reputation for being poorly adapted to the screen.

Addio zio Tom
(1971)

Interesting From A European Viewpoint
As can be seen from the other comments response to this film varies significantly by viewer. The episodic nature on the film, the sardonic narration, the degrading sex, extreme violence and theme of slavery are all potential sources of disagreement. Personally I felt that the film is worth viewing. I felt that the film captures, at the turn of the 60's, the European viewpoint of the American racial disturbances. The support offered by (left wing) European intellectuals to the rioters may have a strong element of anti-Americanism. I doubt if many Americans ever stop to wonder what the European reaction to those events were. However this film gives you those reactions. You do not have to agree with them, indeed I found many to be debatable, but those with open minds should find an alternative viewpoint.

Shuang tong
(2002)

Worth Viewing
I am not a devotee of Hong Kong or Asian movies. What initially attracted my attention to Double Vision was the presence of David Morse. Over the years he seems to have had a knack for showing up in interesting, if offbeat, films. This movie is no exception to that pattern. The acting of the leads is good to above average. I don't want to duplicate the comments expressed so well by others. Let me just say that I concur with the general opinion that the film goes offtrack in the third act. Up to that point it relied on the characters of the leads and exposition on Taoism. After that point it veered off into supernatural confusion. However, all in all, worth the viewing.

The Master of Ballantrae
(1953)

Lesser Errol Flynn
Although I have seen a monumental number of films, The Master Of Ballantrae had managed to escape my viewing until recently. I expected that it would not be of the same quality as Captain Blood or other Errol Flynn hits or else it would have been shown as much as they are. This is exactly what it turned out to be, a watchable but lower quality film. Scottish laird Jamie Durrisdeer (Errol Flynn) leaves his father Lord Durrisdeer (Felix Aylmer), younger brother Henry (Anthony Steel), and fiancee Lady Alison (Beatrice Campbell) to go fight the English. Defeated in battle he is pursued back to the family castle accompanied by a talkative Irish mercenary Colonel Francis Burke (Roger Livesey). Their hiding place betrayed, Jamie and Col, Burke must flee. Jamie believes that his brother has betrayed him to the English in order to inherit the family estate. However the snitch is revealed to be Jamie's spurned lover Jessie Brown (Yvonne Furneaux). Jamie and Col. Burke hope to sail to France, with smuggler MacCauley (Moultrie Kelsell), but he, in turn cheats them by sailing to the Caribbean. There the ship is taken by colorful French pirate Arnaud (Jacques Berthier). Just as you would guess Arnaud can see uses for Jamie and makes him a "partner" despite the doubts of Arnaud's second in command Matthew Bull (Francis DeWolff). In a clever plot twist, since you don't really want our hero to victimize innocent people, they set out to rob the booty of another pirate, Mendoza (Charles Goldner). Afterward there is the, to be expected, falling out between Jamie and Arnaud, the fight and Jamie's ultimate victory. Jamie, with Col. Burke, returns home a richer man but still wanted by the English. There he finds that Henry, believing him dead, is courting Lady Alison. Following a battle with the English, misunderstandings are cleared up, love prevails and our heroes escape to live happily ever after. Ah, only in movies! The above highlights what is best about the film, which is that it keeps moving, with a lot of action for only 90 minutes running time. Also the locales, in Scotland and Spain (filling in for the Caribbean) are very scenic. However there are three significant problems which stop this film from becoming an "A" picture. First, as noted in many other comments, Errol Flynn is showing the wear of his lifestyle. In his best pictures he displayed vitality, a dazzling smile and mocked his enemies. Here he is tired, broody and uninspired. However, in his defense, he may also of had other things on his mind. While making this film, he was preparing to produce his next picture, William Tell. If you don't recall that movie it's for good reason because Errol Flynn, after starting production, could never find sufficient funding to complete the film. Secondly, there is no central villain, a la Basil Rathbone et al, in this movie. The English are gentlemen who, thinking they've killed the escaping Jamie, go out of their way to apologize to his father for having to do so. We know that his brother did not betray him (it would have created more dramatic tension if the script had hidden his betrayer until Jamie and Col. Burke return to Scotland). The smuggler who waylays them has only one or two scenes. Only Arnaud generates any interest. Thirdly, there is no sex. OK so there is no sex in any 1953 films but Beatrice Campbell generates none of the interest that say Maureen O'Hara or even Olivia De Haviland possessed. Yvonne Furneaux does create more energy but there is something uncomfortable about her scenes, as her character is grabbing at Jamie, for attention, and he is blithely looking the other way. Having waited this long to see The Master Of Ballantrae would I see it again. The answer is definitely yes but I am more likely to first see Captain Blood or Robin Hood five or ten times more.

Gone Fishin'
(1997)

Doubly Tragic
Someone. I believe it was Truman Capote, once said that when he was bored at dinner parties the only thing he could do, to keep sane since there was no escape, was to analyze the other person to find out why he found them so boring. This is a movie which could generate a lot of analysis. The core of the problem is the characterizations of Pesci and Glover. They play, straight faced, a pair of extremely stupid friends to which infantile catastrophes happen. These are largely physical inasmuch as neither is bright enough for repartee. Historically the center of any physical comedy routine is an essential childlike innocence. Reference the films of Jerry Lewis or Jim Carrey. When Pesci and Glover, as tired middle aged men, try the same routines they simply look pathetic. Pesci has pulled off this role, albeit playing a character who thought he was smarter than he was, in Home Alone. However there he benefited from a much better script in terms of dialog and physical setups. However, in Gone Fishin', there is simply no good dialog and no surprises in the action. Only Gary Grubbs, as a shifty boat dealer, seems to generate any fun. The true pity of this film was that one of the stunt women, Janet Wilder, was killed in a boating accident while the film was being made. To die young for Gone With The Wind would be a tragedy lessened by one's achievements. To die young for this worthless waste of film is just doubly tragic.

I sette gladiatori
(1962)

All in all a very pleasant surprise
I wasn't that interested in the "gladiator" genre but recently bought a DVD compilation - how could I go wrong with four movies for $4.99! The first movie was bad, the second better and finally the last, Gladiators Seven, turned out to be quite interesting. It benefited from what was clearly the highest budget featuring multiple scenic locations in great color. The title, while descriptive of the plot, also seems to be derivative of the Seven Samurai and The Magnificant Seven. A freed gladiator (Richard Harrison) returns to Sparta to find his father killed and his girlfriend (Loredana Nusciak) in the hands of the evil and lustful ruler (Jose Marco Devo). The gladiator gathers six collegues to take on the ruler's army. The scenes of him gathering the gladiators one by one will clearly remind you of the previous movies. Richard Harrison is not an expressive actor and his performance here remains wooden. However, from an opening arena battle onwards, he is good in most of the action sequences. However the other gladiators are all colorful characters and overshadow Harrison's acting in all the scenes. Even with dubbed dialog they convey individuality. There is a stong under current of humor and they often dispatch their enemies in a humorous manner. The movie is fast paced and speeds by effortlessly. All in all a very pleasant surprise.

Orazi e Curiazi
(1961)

OK movie creates sense of sadness
The story of this movie has been described here by others and suffice it to say I found the movie to be very average. I think the really memorable aspect was the chance to see Alan Ladd and Robert Keith at the end of their careers. Alan Ladd would go on to make two other movies before his untimely death at 50. Unfortunately, from this movie, it is clear that his personal and professional lives were in decline at this time. He appears sluggish and bloated with only the infrequent flashing of a smile to remind viewers of past glories. Although he plays a general his performance doesn't really command the screen. If you want to see him, in his later movies, I would suggest you pass this up and settle for his final role, in the Carpetbaggers, which shows much more bite. Secondly, this represented the final film in the long career of actor Robert Keith (here playing the King of Rome). Although, by modern standards, a relatively young man (63) when this movie was made, it would be his last before his death five years later. He appears very frail but conveys a strong sense of dignity and maintains a masterful diction. Perhaps, given the combination, a suitable finale for a character lead.

Ursus gladiatore ribelle
(1962)

Conforms To Stereotype Of Gladiator Movies
The stereotype of 1960's European gladiator movies is that the lead is a muscle bound non-actor and everyone else yelling as their dialog is dubbed into English. It is movies such as The Rebel Gladiators that show the stereotype is true. Evil Emperor Commodus (Sergio Ciani) inherits the throne of Rome and the hand of lovely Arminia (Jose Greci). Proceeding to ruthlessly oppress a village he is defeated by strongman Ursus (Dan Vadis). Senator Emilius Letus (Gianni Santuccio) realizes that only Ursus is strong enough to defeat Commodus and forces Ursus to become a gladiator by kidnapping Ursus' girlfriend Marzia (Gloria Milland). Commodus seizes Marzia to force Ursus to fight him. Guess who wins! Essentially Dan Vadis was a muscle bound non-actor and is least interesting. The Italian actors in support give much more lively albeit not nuanced performances. The acting honors there go to Sergio Ciani, enjoying himself as the evil Emperor, and longtime character actor Andrea Aureli as the gladiators' instructor. Technically the credits were OK but the version I saw was in black and white while the IMDb database says the movie was shot in color. OK movie for gladiator fans (i.e. those who don't expect acting) but better alternatives are available in the genre.

No Kidding
(1960)

Amiable British Company
Before they concentrated on the Carry On franchise, producer Peter Rogers, director Gerald Thomas, write Norman Hudis, composer Bruce Montgomery et al made a series of comedies such as "No Kidding". David (Leslie Phillips) and Catherine (Geraldine McEwan) Robinson inherit Chartham Place, a large country home, and convert it into a holiday home for rich children. The children come from a cross section of families but, in general, all suffer neglect from their bust parents. They include an arrogant American brother and sister, the son of a social climbing scrap merchant, two sons of a Middle East King, two daughters of African politicans, the daughter of a Duke, a boy with a seriously ill mother and a sexy teenager with a vivid imagination (Julia Lockwood). As with comedies of this genre there is minimal plot. Christine encourages the children's "freedom", obviously until freedom goes too far. A matron (June Jago) feuds with the drunken cook (Joan Hickson, enjoying herself immensely) who, in turn, is abetted by the caretaker (Noel Purcell). An officious alderwoman (Irene Handl) has an eye on the property for a community center. Given these acting professionals the acting is good across the board. Geraldine McEwan shows the greatest range and its a pity that she isn't better known in North America. Overall this comedy can be recommended, it may not have belly laughs but will bring many smiles.

Strange Bedfellows
(1965)

Poor Repairing Of Hudson And Lollobrigida
In 1961 Universal had a popular success, Golden Globe winner I believe, with pairing Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida in the comedy "Come September". In 1965 they attempted to recreate the magic with "Strange Bedfellows". Unfortunately this failure just goes to prove that scripts and characters are just as important as actors. Rock Hudson plays a conservative oil executive who impetuously weds bohemian artist Gina Lollabrigida. Given their incompatible natures they separate after a short marriage. Seven years later Lollobrigida wants a divorce to wed newspaper editor Edward Judd while public relations man Gig Young encourages Hudson to portray himself as a happily married man in order to get a big promotion. Hudson proceeds to re-kindle the flame with Lollobrigida, while Judd tries to disrupt the relationship by encouraging Lollobrigida's bohemian causes and thus embarrassing Hudson. The outcome of all this is Lollobrigida riding through London as Lady Godiva as a protest for one of her causes. The movie fails for a variety of reasons. Hudson's scene in bed with Judd might have some "camp" value but, although ungallant of me to say so, I've seen Lollobrigida look better. The character development is limited, with fundamentally incompatible pair coming together apparently without any change in character. None of the supporting players has any personality in the script. Gig Young does many scenes solo, supposedly on the telephone to Hudson's character, and could probably been written out of the entire movie. Judd's acting is unfortunately limited to putting a pipe in and out of his mouth. The producers obviously recognized these problems and brought in British character comedians (i.e. undertaker Terry Thomas and several taxi drivers) for cameos. Much of the Lady Godiva scene requires physical comedy which is not Hudson's and Lollobrigida's forte. As commented on by others the Hollywood backlog substituted for London is cheesy. By way of comparison I would note that Come September had strong support from old pro Walter Slezak, energy from a young Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee, beautiful Italian scenery and a coherent plot. Suffice it to say that "Strange Bedfellows" at 98 minutes seemed dreadfully long while "Come September" at 112 minutes whizzed by.

Conflict of Wings
(1954)

Difficulty Balancing Comedy And Drama
While I am a fan of British movies, particularly comedies of the 1950s and 1960s, I was not familiar with this movie. However I had warm expectations given the cast led by the usually dependable John Gregson and Muriel Pavlow. The movie concerns a British air force base that is activated as a training facility. Requiring a target range the government conscripts a nearby marsh, the Island of Children, for that purpose. The marsh is a wildlife habitat principally for birds (hence title Conflict of Wings between birds and aircraft). Obviously the local inhabitants, led by native daughter Muriel Pavlow and an assortment of colorful character actors (i.e. Niall MacGinnis, Frederick Piper), lead a fight to save the marsh. This leads to conflict with her boyfriend, airman John Gregson, as well as the base commander Kieron Moore. Combining comedy and drama is difficult and here it doesn't really succeed. There is almost a sub-genre of British comedies about colorful locals rising up (i.e. Passport To Pimlico, Titfield Thunderbolt). However, in all instances, the enemy are incompetent bureaucrats or buffoons. Here the air force is shown as capable, concerned but committed to their responsibilities. Periodically Kieron Moore is required to look out into mid-space and give a speech about the need for military preparedness, with appropriate references to just past crisises in Korea and Malaysia. The fact that decent people have to make difficult choices may be more representative of real life but it is less satisfying in reel life. Here the shifting between comic efforts and near tragic efforts by the the local population results in an uneven and ultimately unsatisfying cinema experience. Acting is generally good and technical credits, including color photography of the marsh, are also good.

See all reviews