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The Tall Men

Tall Men, tall Woman
Set against the epic journey of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana, The Tall Men tells the story of the competition between Gable und Ryan for the love of Russell. Ryan offers her position and wealth - he dreams of owing Montana - while Gable 'dreams small', offering her only love and a homestead in Prairie Dog Creek. Ryan is the aggressive Walsh hero, second Cousin to White Heat's James Cagney, and Gable the mature Walsh hero, a man who knows himself and therefore doesn't need to be continually testing himself. Equally significant is Russel's role. She is no prize to be given to the best man; rather she deflates the bravado of the one and the wealth of the other. Needless to say, it is she who chooses. The film is also notable for two scenes which are characteristic of Walsh. The first has Gable und brother pass a couple of corpses strung up from a tree: 'Must be getting near civilization', says Gable to Mitchell. The other is the extended sequence in which Russell and Gable spend the night in a Shack cuddling togehter to keep warm in a fashion which has a mature but nonetheless playful sexuality about it. A magnificent film.

Phil Hardy

Isola Bella

Good German Fun of 1961
If you are interested in old films (German films, in this case), with many well-known actors/singers of the time (Lil Babs, Lolita, Gus Backus), together with atmospheric ingredients and details, then 'Isola Bella' is a right choice for you. It's a light-weight colourful love-comedy, a kind of time-style-capsule without any aspects of sorrow, very entertaining under the above-mentioned condition. Most of the Players are long forgotten. Paul Hubschmid, Harald Juhnke (and perhaps Willy Fritsch) may still be known, in Germany, that is. Willy Fritsch was a famous German Filmstar during the years 1920 till 1960, roughly. He died in 1973, according to his imdb-biography, BUT....

.... there's A SLIGHT MiISTAKE in his imdb-biography: Among the films for which he should be known there is included 'Inglorious Basterds' by Quentin Tarantino (2009). If so, he must have been engaged out of his grave in the famous cemetery of Hamburg-Ohlsdorf, 36 years after he was buried there.

Bandit Queen

She snaps her whip well
Set in the days of old California, this piece of fantasy features Britton in the title role as the woman who, like batman, turns masked avenger when she witnesses the murder of her parents. In conjunction with Joaquin Murietta (Reed) she rids the territory of Parker and Maclane. Britton snaps her whip well, and looks extremely attractive, which is the main point in this otherwise routine-B-western.

Die Halbstarken

It's not 'Rebel without a cause'
'Die Halbstarken' don't have much in common with the theme and influence of the roughly contemporary James-Dean-Film 'Rebel without a cause', only that the main-persons of both films are attractive youths, who wear similar clothing. And: The Intention of this German film to handle the same Topic is recognizable.

But James Dean, Sal Mineo and Natalie Wood play sensible youths, who run into an emotional crisis while in contact with their surroundings (so triggering the Youth-Revolution against narrow structures),while Horst Buchholz, Karin Baal and the others are merely youthful criminals, who could have appeared as well in films from, say, the 1930's.

James Dean in 'Rebel' may seem emotionally unstable, but he is never brutal, like Horst Buchholz in 'Die Halbstarken' (who, above all, acts very dumb). It looks to me, in comparison, as if Nicholas Ray, director of 'Rebel', wanted to describe an emotional situation and a thereby starting Rebellion, while 'Die Halbstarken' wanted to warn against this Rebellion, according to the opinions of the grown-ups of that time. The German film wanted to demonstrate an immaturity and malignity of the so-called 'Halbstarken', and so seems to be a moralizing anti-youth-rebel-story, and therefore wholly different from 'Rebel without a cause'.

Devil's Canyon

Prison break movie in Western costume
Another grim Western from Werker, notable for the realism of ist depiction of life in the Arizona State Penitentiary at the turn of the century. McNally is the psychotic killer seeking revenge on Robertson, also imprisoned, while Mayo is the girl working in the prison dispensary to help McNally to escape, who switches sides at the last minute. In all essentials a prison-break movie in Western costume, it survives the imposition of 3-D thanks to Musuraca's low-key lighting effects. - Furthermore, this is an opportunity to watch Arthur Hunnicutt in another of his marvellous sketches of very special and likable sidekicks.

Phil Hardy

Johnny Reno

A pleasant actioner
An above-average Lyles Western that gently eases its ageing cast through an intriguing plot. Andrews is the marshal and Russell, as boisterous as ever, the owner of the gin palace he comes to visit. However, on his arrival with Drake, he discovers that law and order in Stone Junction is lynch law and that the town is ruled by Bettger. The film is well scripted - indeed this is the best screenplay of all Lyle's Westerns - and imaginatively directed by Springsteen, especially at the climax where a bunch of Indians all but tear down Stone Junction. This is a pleasant actioner.

Phil Hardy

Black Patch

An unusual western
An offbeat Western. Scripted by Gordon, who also takes the role of the friend turned bankrobber that marshal Montgomery is accused of murdering for the Money, Black Patch is directed with verve by Miner, a protégé of Robert Aldrich. Pittman contributes a distinctly modern interpretation of his role as the distraught teenager who faces up to Montgomery at the climax.

Phil Hardy

Town Tamer

Town saved by personal revenge
This is Selander's first film for Producer Lyles and his best Western for years. Like all of Lyles' Westerns, the main fault is the pedestrian screenplay which features Andrews as the hired killer seeking revenge for the death of his wife at the hands of Bettger and Cabot. He finds them ensconced as sheriff and saloon owner respectively, from which positions they're bleeding the town dry. Thus Andrews can liberate the town as well as secure his revenge in a corpse-strewn finale. Jaeckel has a marvellous part as Bettger's sadistic deputy.

Phil Hardy

Fury at Furnace Creek

Superior B feature
A superior B Feature. Mature and Langan are the sons determined to prove their father, the commander of a lonely cavalry outpost, acted correctly and was not responsible for the fort's destruction in an Indian attack. In doing so they expose a plot by Dekker to buy up cavalry land rich in mineral deposits for a pittance. Script and direction give the production a stylish edge. It's not the question if Victor Mature is a good actor or not. I wouldn't like to decide this. It's like real life: Some real people also leave the impression of being bad actors. It's Mature's face that is interesting. It looks not only attractive, but uncommon, too. Behind it seems to be much more than you can immediately see, waiting to be revealed at any moment, wherefore it's interesting to watch him.

Savage Pampas

Strong emphasis on realism
An Argentinian Western and Taylor's oddest film, Savage Pampas is a remake of the 1946 Argentinian film Pampa Barbera. Taylor is the guardian of a wagon train of women heading for a lonely outpost in the interior in 1870. The plot is reminiscent of his Westward the Women (1952) with the difference that this time the women are prostitutes, intended to be morale boosters to stop the men of the outpost from deserting. Shot by Hollywood veteran Fregonese who co-scripted it with a strong emphasis on realism, the film got lost in the flood of Spaghetti Westerns.

Phil Hardy

Das Superweib

very informative about times and mannerisms
It's possible to see (or feel)a film under very different aspects, as everyone knows. So you can give a film a very good rating for one aspect, and a very bad rating for a second aspect, and so on. The main-question is: Are you entertained, or even better informed about something, by this film ? 'Das Superweib' may be characterized as having a weak plot (or a bad execution of a worthy plot, or a not very original plot), but at the same time it's a very good showcase for the mannerisms of its actors and actresses, if you are interested in German films and actors. You learn something about the characteristic traits of those in Germany well-known actors that you can see in their other films as well. And very many of them appear in this film, although some of them only as cameos, too short for that(Armin Rohde, for example).But with most of them you can judge for yourself, if a certain actor may be interesting for you in other films as well, or if you don't like his/her mannerisms and looks. And the film is well-made in order to get those impressions,in terms of surroundings, camera-work and everything belonging to it,not only sufficient, but very good. And it's an interesting picture of an atmosphere typical for its time, and may be historically interesting in the future..... just as seeing Liselotte Pulver again, who long ago,in the Nineteen-Fifties, acted in films that are now similarly interesting in historical terms.

Bronco Buster

Real-life rodeo stars
The first of the films of Boetticher to win real praise, Bronco Buster has an ease about it that prefigures the majestic Westerns he was to make with Randolph Scott later in the decade. Even the rivalry between the Lund and Brady characters, as they compete in the ring and out of it for the Hand of Holden, prefigures that between Scott and the series of amiable villains Boetticher confronts him with in classic films like 'Ride lonesome'(1959) and Comanche Station (1960). Lund is quietly effective in the Scott role while Brady is more hammy as the 'villain'. Real-life rodeo stars Casey Tibbs, Pete Crump, Bill Williams and Jerry Ambler supply strong support. But in Boetticher's hands it is less the actuality of the rodeo that matters than its closeness to the bullring and the metaphor of the closed circle that is so powerfully present in Boetticher's movies. The result is an assured film.

Phil Hardy

La romana

Why was there no review up to now ?
I wonder why there's no review of this film up to now, not only because it's a very good movie. Beside of that, it features one of the biggest female movie-stars of the 20th century, Gina Lollobrigida, in an early leading role, in the prime of her beauty. To my taste, she appears here much more impressive than in later and better-known roles. The underlying story ('La Romana')was a big success in the USA in the year 1947, and millions of it were sold worldwide, was written by one of the most famous 20th-century-Italian writers, Alberto Moravia. The film itself is a late example of the equally famous Italian neorealistic style, with a depressing finale, regarding its heroine.

The story is set in the Italian fascist era (1935), full of tension, and very atmospheric. The streets, cars and people of the later post-war-Rome (1954, when the film was made)are shown in gritty black-and-white. In a sequence playing within a Cinema, film within film, one sees marching fascist Italian troops on the screen, giving a feeling as if you were a cinema-visitor yourself, and then the propaganda is suddenly cut short by an action of anti-fascists. In spite of a scene like this, the film centers on the individual aspects of the protagonists, rather than on the underlying political aspects.

Verführung am Meer

Dark and stormy island
If one takes the plot only, this movie could have been very kitschy. But this was absolutely prevented by the director, and by the camera-work.

At first there are some moody shots of Berlin in the snow.

Then, at the Dalmatian coast, there's a dark and stormy feeling about the black-and-white-images,with dark broken clouds, sometimes a high wind, and big waves beating the rocks of the small island, on which van Eyck lives all for himself, with his two dogs and one goat.

Set against these rather dark, lonely and stormy images are the personality and looks of Elke Sommer, sexy and attractively self-conscious, using these attributes to lift van Eyck out if his seemingly moody states of mind. At first she does this only because she's paid for it...

There's one scene where van Eyck and Elke Sommer talk directly to the camera, to the viewer, as they sometimes did in films of the French 'nouvelle vogue', at the same time period.

The director Jovan Zivanovic made many films in former Yugoslavia(he died in 2002 in Belgrad), and elsewhere one viewer commented on one of his social dramas from Yugoslavian times, remarking that Zivanovic never got the critical attention he would have been entitled to.

Cry Blood, Apache

good low-budget-seventies-western
One of the best of Starrett's low budget action-Pictures of the seventies, this intriguing Western was co-produced by its star, Jody (son of Joel)McCrea. Told in flashback by McCrea as an old man (played by Joel) as he reminisces about his past, McGregor's screenplay has McCrea and a bunch of prospectors slaughtering a band of Indians until the last one left, Gahva, promises to tell them the whereabouts of a gold mine and lead them there. On the way they are pursued by Gahva's brother, who murders them one by one (including director Starrett), until Gahva kills him to save McCrea.

Ph. H.

The Brass Legend

Marvellous Western from Oswald
A marvellous Western from Oswald, a director who brought an intensity and fluidity to the B-Western that seems impossible given the five-to-seven-day shooting schedule it and the equally impressive 'Fury at Showdown' (1957) shared. Burr and O'Brian are the baddie and peace officer respectively set on collision course, when O'Brian captures Burr only to have him escape. The action is breathtaking - the climax has Burr and O'Brian racing towards each other on horseback, guns drawn - but it is Oswald's assertive camera, creating a jail break in one long take, for instance, that one remembers.

Ph. H.

Appuntamento a Ischia

Errol Flynns girlfriend, Mina, and a Jerry-Lewis-lookalike
I wonder why Italian films of this period (1950s to 1960s) are almost never commented on IMDb.

This is not a bad one. And there's an interesting connection: One of the major roles is played by Linda Christian, an actress much discussed in the scandal-press of those times, and now almost entirely forgotten (a fate that will befall some of today's actresses, too, after some time has gone by). Her second name 'Christian' was suggested by Errol Flynn (who was associated with her)after his own role of Fletcher Christian in the film 'In the Wake of the Bounty'(1933).

The scene of this film is Ischia in 1960. Main person is a little girl (Maria Letizia Gazzoni)who doesn't want her father (after her mother had died) to be married to a young woman who wants her to go to an 'Internat'(a kind of School, led by nuns, where she would have to live).

Instead she wants her father (a singer and orchestra leader, played by the then well-known Italian singer ('Volare') Domenico Modugno) to marry a different pretty young woman (Antonella Lualdi), in order to have a stepmother after her taste, who will not send her away. The problem is that this preferred new mother is still connected with a very arrogant leader of a classical orchestra... so the little Girl has to be very smart to get what she wants...

One of the two tobacco-smugglers towards the end of this film is mimically a Jerry-Lewis-lookalike.

Modugno sings some very typical Italian songs of the 1950s in Italy, as does also the then famous Italian female singer Mina. The film is full of the atmosphere of those times, and if one is interested in this aspect, it will be rewarding to watch it.


Jean Paul Belmondo for a few seconds
There seem to have been many difficulties in restoring this film (on the DVD-cover they say it lasted two years, because the complete negative was annihilated in 1990).

The result may be interesting, if you like to see some shots of the Riviera in the year 1961. Otherwise the film is not very remarkable, apart from the fact that Jean Paul Belmondo appears in it, but only for a few seconds (you have to watch out for him), during a car race with mini-motorcars (the participants are not professionals, but tourists in a kind of playground).

The film is a love story in the style of those times, involving a middle-aged businessman (Wolfgang Preiss) from Hamburg (Hamburg in 1961 is also seen in a short sequence), and his young wife (Ulla Jacobsson) and a young writer (Hartmut Reck) whom she meets at the Riviera. There is also a wealthy Greek yacht-owner(a la Onassis, played by Walter Rilla) in front of the Riviera coast, with whom her husband wants to get in business contact. - The Riviera and a yacht in front of it was an almost-cliché ultimate dream scenery in Germany at that time.

I don't like to state that any film is generally 'uninteresting'(as professional critics may have to do), because this depends entirely on each viewer's individual web of associations while watching it. Therefore, I don't say such a thing about this one... by the way: I've seen one or two more interesting films by the same director Wolfgang Becker, in German sceneries of those times (Example: 'Kein Engel ist so rein' from 1959).

The Plainsman

64 pistols from De Mille's collection
Conceived and executed with all the brio typical of a De Mille epic - all the 64 pistols used in the film came from his personal collection - 'The Plainsman', for all its attention to petty historical detail (De Mille was insistent that the Phrase 'Go West, Young man' be correctly attributed to John B. Searle, the Editor of The Terra Haute Express) plays fast and loose with history.

Cooper is the austere Hickok, Ellison (a regular in the Hopalong Cassidy series, loaned to De Mille by 'Pops' Sherman)a boyish Buffalo Bill, Arthur a breezy Calamity Jane and Miljan a heroic Custer to whose defence all three come. Bickford is the smooth gun running villain. De Mille's well-practised abilities in handling big budgets, big casts and big stories overcame the doggedly domestic drama of Cooper and Arthur's relationship. Slow moving and overly romantic by modern standards in its depiction of Westward expansion, 'The Plainsman' remains an entertaining spectacle.

In 1966, Universal remade the movie as a vastly inferior telefilm.

Phil Hardy

I Know Who Killed Me

Any fool can pass judgement...
This is one of the best films with Lindsay Lohan I saw up to now (along with 'The Parent Trap' and 'A Prairie Home Companion', and surely I haven't seen all of them.

I have no idea what induces some reviewers to state that L.L. is a 'bad actress' in this film. She's right for her role. Besides: Some people are bad actors in real life.

As to those ugly reviews (which make one symphatize with L.L. and the makers of this film): There's an old saying that fits perfect: Any fool can pass judgement, more or less just or unjust, on a film, but some can do better things: Some can create works for other people to criticize....

Cattle Queen of Montana

Stanwyck's Indian Name: 'Princess Many Victories'
Perhaps the most uncomplicated of America's classic directors, Dwan made a series of films in the fifties for producer Bogeaus that allowed him a degree of flexibility he'd been unused to since the silent days. Cattle Queen of Montana, the tale of Stanwyck's struggles to hold on to the property of her murdered father, is beautifully lit by cinematographer Alton, the great unsung Hollywood cameraman. It evokes a world of easeful innocence far removed from the cynicism and violence that was the norm in the Western of the fifties. Reagan is the mysterious gunman who comes to Stanwyck's rescue. Stanwyck, who did all her own stunts, so impressed the Blackfeet Indians hired as extras that they made her a blood sister, and gave her the Indian name of Princess Many Victories.

Phil Hardy

The Raid

a fine western about a little-known incident
This fine Western is based on a little-known incident of the Civil War. Boehm's screenplay features Heflin as the Confederate officer who, after escaping to Canada from a Union prison camp with several of his men, plans to take over and sack a town just across the Canadian border in retribution for Northern Raids into the South. Marvin is the fiery officer who nearly gives the game away, Boone the one-armed Union veteran and Bancroft the war widow Heflin boards with while studying the lay-out of the town. Fregonese directs suspenseful, much aided by Ballard's brooding cinematography.

Phil Hardy


black or white ? No really important question in this film, or elsewhere
Far too often this film is discussed within the limits of the so-called 'political correctness' (why a black man instead of an Arab, as it was in reality, and why must a black man serve a white man, etc. etc.). This film is about friendship of two very different persons, no matter if they are black or white.

I think, that the black man (Omar Sy) was a very good actor in this role, and the white man (Francois Cluzet)was a good actor in this role as well.

And I think that racism will be no more virulent only when people are no more interested in the question if a black, yellow, white or mixed person plays a certain role, but only in the question if he/ she plays the role good or not.

Jud Süss - Film ohne Gewissen

A fascinating film
This is a fascinating and gripping film. I heard it was discredited at the Berlin Film Festival, but I cannot understand why. Whoever says it's a bad movie, is some sour critic with a bad taste, and when these are together, they infect one another mutually with their moods (or they think it chic to have this view). Nobody should avoid this film only because of their view of it. Nobody but you yourself knows your taste, and the way in which something enters your mind in the strongest way.

And nobody really knows the details that happened to Ferdinand Marian, the exact words that were said, the exact situations. A historical piece like this is never absolutely correct,the real proceedings are lost to us, and therefore different angles of view are allowed, and should be seen as such. And this one was a very fascinating interpretation, that held me captive until the end. This means especially the view on Goebbels, and I'll never forget the color that Moritz Bleibtreu gave him.

The Showdown

Eloquent and forceful
Like many of Republic's B Westerns of this period, this was shot on sound stages with back-projection and process-work standing in for the big blue yonder once so much a part of the western.

Nonetheless, like 'Hellfire' (1949), also scripted by the McGowans, this was a fitting end to Elliott's long stay with Republic. The interesting script has Elliott on the trail of the murderer of his brother and joining a wagon train knowing that one of the men is the guilty one. In an attempt to find out which one, he pushes men and cattle beyond their natural endurance. Brennan, cast against type as the quiet and friendly man who is finally gored to death, is the guilty one and Windsor is the saloon keeper who buys an interest in the herd and travels with it.

The direction is as eloquent as the screenplay and elliott plays his forceful role to the hilt.

Phil Hardy

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