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A Strange Adventure

Stranger than fiction.
I have no idea why this film exists, nor what audience it was intended for. This 1955 Republic drama in widescreen looks terrific and allows for some great L. A. background of the era. Adele Palmer costumes are good and the cast are quite effective, especially Ben Cooper. The film almost exists just to make a good trailer, which is well worth seeing how they salvaged the best bits for that. So much of the information is not shown, eg that Ben is a hot rod driver, so they just tell us. Also I have never seen a film end so abruptly. They just tell us what happened and cut to the fade out. I really enjoy Republic titles especially mid 50s but this one plays like Television in Cinemascope and contrives scenes and locations just to make a good trailer glimpse. The snow tractor on the poster is only there for 30 sec. I wanted to like this more but was continually shortchanged by the film just being cheap and silly. However days afterwards I kept thinking about it and how I now now want to see it again. Republic made about a dozen of these really cheap widescreen action dramas at the time and whilst each are interesting in their low budget way, they really are a suburban time capsule of their time. I have no idea who would go to see these in any cinema when first released. SNOWBOUND HOODLUMS would have been a far better title.

Ladies in Black

Almost perfect. Great new century film making.
Here is a quietly profound polite new film set in Sydney 1959 about New Australians from Europe having the start of an effect that allowed Australia to blossom into a superb Multicultural era of the 60s and 70s. Hungarian fashionista Magda befriends studious teen Lisa at Christmas 1959 in a snazzy department store. This opens the eyes ears and world of this lovely clever teen whose backyard world reflects the cosy Anglo suburbia of the British Australian post was conservative 50s era. The ongoing revelation of this group of store and home characters is the repression of their former lives, whether under Nazi and Communist rule in Europe of the banal lawn existence of the Sydney suburbs and the small mindset and 'we won the war' superiority instilled by the cardigan politics of the 50s. Everyone has a new world to see or a lost world to them. One particularly satisfying subplot is between the two shop counter 20 year olds who show appalling narrow-mindedness towards education books and New Australians without it even registering at first. The other great subplot is the shy husband who becomes sexually overwhelmed by his gorgeous wife one night then cowers from his exposure which he believes would have disgusted her. His sexual repression of teen and childhood is hinted at enough for his sexual confidence to be beautifully harmonised and his marriage blossoms. This is an utterly gorgeous generous funny film with excellent satire and a very smart view of a welcoming country which had no idea it was rude to strange people, and Emigrants who found Australians equal measure funny and endearing. I absolutely loved it, and especially for its educated wit and good heart. Everyone must leave their repressed past and enter the 1960s future. This is just great.

In Like Flynn

Pretty, lame.
Apparently Errol Flynn was a swashbuckling Indiana Jones type in New Guinea in1930. This new 2018 film is treading the same territory as the 1993 FLYNN which starred a more suitable Guy Pearce as Errol. IN LIKE FLYNN has a KING KONG Jack Black start which lurches into some Indiana Jones jungle chase and straight into a KITTY AND THE BAGMAN Sydney sequence. Once aboard a yacht it becomes RIDDLE OF THE SANDS with a Robert Shaw JAWS character. Many many images and ideas from other films. Nice young actors and some good photography and some not good acting and clunky dialogue. As it went on I found it all irritating. Also the early action scenes are far to violent and gruesome for what should be a PG movie. It's a R. Costas Mandylor appears, finally freed from SAW D list hell. I want to recommend IN LIKE FLYNN but alas, it is a misguided project, haphazardly executed and not the fun it should be. Why the violence and slashing and brutal deaths had to be so graphic is very disappointing.

War for the Planet of the Apes

Many reused images from many other films. Clever, though.
Have you seen WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES.... I have, and here are my thoughts: I am conflicted between admiring the CGI and absolute lifelike imagery of the apes, and particularly Andy Serkis as Caesar, as well as the astonishing amazing war-torn-storybook 'look' and then, I am irritated with the obvious re-use of CGI from other films. I constantly had the uneasy feeling I was seeing retread CGI from other movies: this came obvious when they discover a monkey which clearly is Dobby from the Harry Potter films. The thunderous waterfall and fir forests from Disney's JUNGKE BOOK and PETES DRAGON, ....FURY ROAD and the ridiculous recent PAN got a look in with convoys of trucks and the tunnel and fortress from any angle, and it all lapsed into THE GREAT ESCAPE and PAPILLON, eventually. Even a Dr ZHIVAGO citadel room. Then we get a mashup of WIZARD OF OZ Castle of the Witch where the trio and Dorothy hide among the rocks overlooking, this time with a trio of different apes and a little girl, even the Ourang- outang is the friendly Lion; and APOCALYPSE NOW with it's Colonel Kurt imagery throughout and mountain fortress and army. It is a familiar jigsaw puzzle of clever re used imagery heightened with astonishing visual skill which makes it compelling for a few seconds, then you feel irritated that you feel you know where they got the ideas from. It is an amazing result but it betrays itself. I loved some of the obvious studio sets and back projection, and marveled at the Apes few and many... The Dobby Monkey really unraveled it. Some Monkeys even looked like Steve McQueen.

We're Not Dressing

One vote for Carole Lombard, one vote for Ethel Merman and one vote for the art-deco yacht. You simply cannot believe your eyes at the animal cruelty towards the bear in this hideous stupidity..the bear called Droopy (drugged) and yanked about mercilessly on a chain to the gasping amusement of the cast and audience. This film is appalling. Podgy overweight Bing Crosby clearly needs a bra. Even the rolls of fat appear through his black turtleneck top. He is just the baby-man mummy's boy cringe factor no musical ever needs. I can see how this was a hit in 1934, but what a ridiculous not-funny-now result it is. Then we get the Burns-Allen radio blather. If you want to see friends recoil in horror at an old film, this is the one to do it. RKO re made it worse, if that is possible, with DOWN TO THEIR LAST YACHT.

Three Hats for Lisa

Deserves a re-working called ONE DAY IN London
Keep the songs and ditch the story and as with KINKY BOOTS, here is an outdated 60s musical that deserves having its dance routines and songs rescued and livened up into a new musical, swinging 60s style. There is room this century to look again at some quite terrific 60s tunes and imagery and see them reach a new audience. THREE HATS FOR LISA is a lame title for what is a full blown original screen musical. A funny idea, and very good songs and amazing orchestrations, this musical from 1965 would have been outdated by 1967 but the foundation and dance/music is all there as a solid big musical should be. Joe Brown and his character are irritating and basically immature and silly, but the girls: Sophie hardy and Una Stubbs are wonderful as is Dave Nelson, who is the 'Frankie Avalon' on the group. Sid James and his music hall patter is OK. It looks to want to be a Tommy Steele musical. I admire this film a lot and wish to see the songs reworked into a better stronger story line and re titles as a stage show called London. or ONE DAY IN London.

Play It Cool

what 1962 looked and sounded like. .
I'd give this 9 out of ten of Bobby Vee sang a few more songs. Billy Fury and Helen Shapiro appear and sing adding much interest to this well made 1962 Brit nightclub musical with excellent images and music allowing more than a dream glimpse into London of the time. This is a good scrapbook/jukebox musical and I certainly encourage you to enjoy it. I find Bobby See astonishing. He died recently and equipped with looks and song talent he is a welcome addition to this movie. Helen Shapiro is gorgeous and very direct in her style. Billy Fury is an Elvis/Cliff Richard mix and I have no argument with his performance or style. I know the limp floppy look of Fury irritates some but it was his individual look and it worked for him. This is a well made musical and a bonus with the guest stars and the crafted musical sequences.

Hotel de Love

LOVE HURTS, 20 years later.
I wanted to like this but the subplot of the other twin carrying on like love starved Puck or Bottom or whoever the hell he was supposed to be.... it is all just suburban theater put on film, in 1997. One minute this film actually almost becomes FOUR WEDDINGS etc and then it lapses into "wacky pratfall farce' on Pufnstuf Willy-Wonka sets and in some scenes THE RITZ but, oh, it keeps becoming some sort of dinner theater farce in some over produced sets with "ACTORS!!!" who are "ACTING...!!!" What might have seemed funny 20 years ago in this multiplex wannabee is not funny now when better slicker films are the norm. HOTEL DE LOVE is a cute idea with some money behind it, and very good looking young actors, but it lurches into amateur constantly, one dreadful downside of the writer also being the director and the enterprise needing a strong no nonsense helm. A re make in 2020 might be a better vision. Literally.

Blue Denim

very effective c/s b/w 1959 sit com teen drama...
Dated as it may be, BLUE DENIM, or BLUE JEANS as it was known overseas, is still an effective teen pregnancy film, and no doubt a big deal of it's time. Carol Lynley is by far the best actor in this modest but visually quite engrossing studio bound movie from Fox, with really beautiful c/s b/w imagery and TV style settings and acting. It reminded me a lot of COMPULSION and THE STRIPPER and KISS ME STUPID and even IN COLD BLOOD with its rural town suburbia in CinemaScope b/w, a style I have always thought atmospheric and effective. Brandon De Wilde clearly just 16 or 17 is quite puppy-fat terrific as the handsome nice boy with the Patty Duke Show style parents, but it is Carol Lynley who acts everyone else off the screen. I grew to really love this film as it went on and actually had a good cry. It still works if you are willing to see it as a very strong teen pregnancy film of its time which must have really had an effect on every teen who saw it. Tragic that DeWilde was killed at 30 in a car crash, as this film had the Rebel Without A Cause image and emotion well presented. Quite beautiful for many reasons and wonderfully frank for 1959. It must have made millions of dollars on a very low budget. There is a wonderful horrible Gothic moment with the abortionists car and the hag within.


PAN is a gorgeous mess. Visually beautiful with a superb music score, this mish mash of the writer and director's favorite movie scenes, all shoved together and pelted at the audience, ends up being infuriating and tedious. Peter Pan was written by JM Barrie in about 1904. Not 1940, as this film thinks it starts. The London Blitz sets the Little Orphan Peter scenes with cartoon Catholic Nuns and suddenly switches to galleons which whisk kids through The Batlle Of Britain to Mad Max Thunderdome or is it Fury Road. Utter preposterous ridiculous rubbish, even by fantasy standards. This is THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MAUNCHHAUSEN colliding with MADAM BUTTERFLY in operatic OLIVER cacophony with Hugh Jackman in the most stupid pirate lacquer since Burt Lancaster in THE CRIMSON PIRATE. Hook is introduced and played by a ridiculous Garret Hedlind who clearly has been told to sound like Jack Nicholson imitating Clint Eastwood imitating John Huston dressed as Indiana Jones doing Michael Douglas in ROMANCING THE STONE. Some jungle scenes crash in which collide Aztec SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON with RAPA NUI. A risible crystal amphetamine smoking scene should have been deleted from the picture as is all hunting the addictive crystal should have been. The endless fighting, screaming and yelling will drive any audience to tears... and then it all ends. This is a terrible beautiful mess of a film, and I groaned audibly often. Levi Miller is magnificent as Peter... but what is this Pan Flute crap? JM Barrie did not write PETER PAN FLUTE. This is just stupid, endlessly. What a waste of all the craftsmanship on show.

Gone Girl

Terrific until the 140th minute
Well, how's this for a terrific soap opera..... all too clever by half, and with so many new century thriller films, paints itself into a corner that cannot be redeemed in the running time. Here is a great modern destructive thriller with an ending that completely undoes the whole film. Drone character husband meets cryptic woman manipulator who scores a 10/10 for bitch mayhem. Wealth allows plot points and absurd new characters to be hired to glance sideways. In-joke about deception sees gay actor hired as hetero obsessed stalker lover. Ice blonde proves to be better temptress than all the men mired in ghastly double dealings. Oakie rednecks prove to be the smartest characters in WASP thriller. Stay gasping until the 139th minute. Admire the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture. Toss food at the screen. Shake head as credits roll.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsmen....or clown..
Clever slick and all Steed-shiny...but this film, poached from KILL BILL, THE SAINT, INCEPTION, THE AVENGERS, any 60s BOND etc...with added CLOCKWORK ORANGE violence simply shows that Matthew Vaughn is just another vile Tarantino wannabee handed a big budget and excessively indulgently produced a stupid film with set pieces of boring ugly violence. Some scenes, as in the church, are just disgusting, and from that point the interest level wanes. The scenes in the mountain lair are INCEPTION meets ON HER MAJESTYS SECRET SERVICE with absurd and endless killing which ultimately made me feel ill. 30 minutes too long and from a clown copycat director, this film is great initially, for 60 minutes and then irritating and vile for 70 minutes. Yes the damn thing runs 130 minutes. I really did feel sick and exhausted when it finished. I thought it all a shocking waste of production money time and the studio's trust. To show contempt for the audience with such cretinous perverse 'action' and result, the villain even spews on the audience. Then there is the 'hilarious' anal sex joke. The last 70 minutes of this chrome dildo of a movie are truly horrible.


A vulgar catastrophe
Yeesh...why is this film in existence. ANIMAL HOUSE in 1978 was funnier and without the swearing and the titty/dick jokes. Why is Seth Rogan allowed to just smear this nappy on the screen? This is a god-awful film and not anywhere as interesting as Belushi's NEIGHBOURS from 1981. It's the crudity and the sexist jokes that sting here... it's just tedious. The Robert De Niro party idea is wasted, and editing in the last 30 minutes makes no sense... where are the other neighbors which logically would make up a subplot, and half the movie is spent with the audience asking "where is the baby"... Dave Franco must have busted the casting couch in Hollywood to get this part, and the talent of the terrific Zac Efron is again wasted. This is crude ugly film. Stupid and unfunny. I tossed the blu-ray in the bin. Zac Efron needs to make the movie about Tyrone Power in the 40s and exit this trash asap.

A Million Ways to Die in the West

Tedious crude vanity project: BUNGLED SADDLES is more apt.
Hopefully the end is nigh for the idiotic unfunny XXX level crudity from Seth MacFarlane. This beautifully designed and produced western sinks under the imbecile immature sex jokes and at A HUNDRED AND THIRTY FIVE MINUTES.........that is the biggest joke of all, that this 80 minute idea takes two and a quarter hours to lick the screen. Obviously our frat-boy Seth was so enamored with his skills on and off the screen that the edit suite was clogged with his face too. This is a lame film and not worth your money or time. The sheer endless crudity was just pointless and tedious. The opening night party must have drawn some stifled yawns from the guest list, and I am sure even Universal were polite, and then hoped to hell he never got to do this trash again. Mel Brooks 4o years ago did it better and so did the Marx Bros in 1941. Half of the movie is repeated conversations of him and Theron just chatting, as if that is enough.

The Thing

Teeth From Outer Space.
This pointless remake is so terrible and laughable as to be annoying. Silly big Jabberwocky gnashers and spaghetti veins and cardboard sets and yelling about in the dark. Honestly, why remake so badly. The ending is outrageous, silly cutting into the credits with leftover scenes if maybe a sequel. Well NO thanks. I really enjoyed the 1982 remake with Kurt Russell and it all should have been left at that. This new remake is an insult. I suppose Joel Edgerton accepted a role here and collected a few hundred $$$ dollars which should have been given to charity. The music sounded like Television sci-fi.. as if lifted or borrowed from LOST IN SPACE 1965. How did these messy silly aliens build this craft, why, where did it come from... what a waste. Cockroaches can't fly a spacecraft, even if they have three heads dangling from their groin. Silly. Awful.

A Night in Casablanca

Along with ROOM SERVICE, this title, A NIGHT IN CASABLANCA is lame. Groucho comes out of it best, but Harpo and Chico are really showing their age and actually look creepy still slapping about with vaudeville antics. Production values are excellent and the style and look of the film is quite wonderful. But as a comedy, it isn't one, and the sight of the Marx Bros in a punch up is horribly unfunny. Several short scenes are good routines (the trunk and wardrobe being unpacked etc) and occasionally Groucho's one liners are mildly amusing, but the drawn out climax on the plane is hopeless and the overall pantomime is really dated. I love the 1929-35 Marx Bros films. This comes from 1946 and whilst well made, lacks the script and tighter editing. One gag at the very beginning is hilarious where Harpo is asked if he is holding up a building. That's it.


why can't all American films be as good as MUD...
Languid running time, jus' like the Mississippi and with a good ol' boy Clyde Parker type criminal befriending Huck and Tom characters, MUD is a slow burning deliverance in a 'coming of age' wrapper. Except for the pointless very last scene, MUD is an exceptionally well made simple film. It is deceptive and with about 7 subplots, and with an astonishing performance by 16 year old Tye Sheridan almost out-acting Matthew Mac, MUD rolls along, gathering emotions and drama and suspense right up to the final 'I love you' and family bond. An excellent hard PG film for teens and parents, made simply and on location. BREAKING AWAY and other similar films precede but this one adds shotgun bayou/Romeo-Juliet/DELIVERANCE/STAND BY ME imagery and intelligence. ... but that very last scene... not needed.

The Witches

Witches crack'd.
Minor Hammer Horror from the mid 60s has several very effective components: a terrific location of banal evil in a very picturesque village, excellent acting by everyone, even the kids and families who genuinely live there, astonishing and beautiful art direction sets and interiors, and some major acting from Hollywood Oscar winner Joan Fontaine. I am sure this was not the experience depicted in THE MIRROR CRACK'D but far more like that of making THE WICKER MAN eight years later. I felt a lot of THE WITCHES led to THE WICKER MAN and together would have made a fabulous double feature. I enjoyed this "women's matinée horror" entry in Hammer's lexicon, the sort of horror film your Mum would come home one day and tell you she saw it at the Odeon on a shoppers' session while you were at school. Unfortunately, the 'ghastly ritual climax' is very poorly depicted and looks more like the local amateur dance and theatrical society were hired to be 'devil worshipers'. It really is badly directed and cast. Joan delivers o all counts and the after effect is one of nodding approval. Benign devil coven antics, if that's possible. However I loved the color photography, the eerie daylight village feel and the beautiful interiors of every home. Yes it's the Women's Home Beautiful Hammer Horror. Girl star Karen Dotrice from MARY POPPINS and THOMASINA makes a juicy teen sacrifice. I think Matthew Garber from the same films also appears as her love interest early on.

The Hitch-Hiker

Mexicali Bros
This terrific Ida Lupino noir thriller from 1953 has more than it's share of admirers and all for good reason. However, I felt there was a sub plot or subtext also slightly on view. The killer first kills a couple, then a single man, but when he picks up two pals going on a 'fishing trip' and realizes they are NOT going where they told their wives... he might just be in the sort of male company he was looking for... hence the reason why he sticks with them instead of just killing them as he did with the other false start pick-ups at the beginning of the film. This hitch hiker wants to be with a male couple. While it is not spelled out, it certainly is there in body language and in some emotional hints. The ring we see left at the gas pump is not a wedding ring, it is a fraternity ring. The Mexican police officer says this in Spanish. After WW2 and after The Korean War many many displaced and sexually confused men who had experiences intimate and grueling male bonding were tipped back into society. The rise of bike gangs is testament to these men who wanted male companionship in leather and uniform platoons began to get noticed in society. This film is a microcosm of that emerging subculture. The couple murdered at the start: not the pick up he wanted; the man killed: not the man he wanted. The two men going on a 'picnic' ... and the wives have been told a lie, THAT's the men he wants to be with, hence the rest of the film.

Any Day Now

Hopefully, soon.
I was skeptical as I sat there but when informed that this is a true story, I engaged better and ultimately admired this small simple emotional film. An unlikely first act overcome, the story of a gay couple who adopt an abandoned teenager with Down Syndrome and the legal battle that follows when conservative law is aghast, makes for a strong story. Talented Alan Cumming is a bit hard to deal with at times and often resembles a younger Dustin Hoffman. The teen is wonderful and Garret Dillahunt right for the hesitant lawyer/partner. A particularly emotional ending is straight to the heart. I do recommend this honest interesting film and if admire the concise low budget production values.

The Astonished Heart

Well, I was astonished.
Yes, dated, yes, stiff, yes, mannered, yes, upper class twaddle, yes, Noel looks 99 years old, yes, wet, yes, blinkered clipped and indoors... BUT what a script! I had never seen this 1950 film which delves well into adultery and gay relationships and (in one jaw-dropper throwaway scene, an incest/son-mother proxy moment where a mother is aghast at her sex drive for a boy 'younger than her son who looks just like......him'...)... While it is easy to sneer and carry on being superior to the 'drama'... THE ASTONISHED HEART is a very well behaved and quite intelligent dissecting of a weak marriage falling into lust by a man who knows what it means, how it is caused and what the result will be... and that therein is the thrill of it: He knows and he still cannot stop falling. Don't ridicule this film, enjoy its melodrama and manners. It is a really intelligent adult film from the post war years of Britain when everyone was sick of... waiting....!

Wolf Creek 2

An embarrassment, a catastrophe. Just terrible. Avoid.
Someone needs to get Greg Maclean a job in an old folks home to ensure he stops making films. 3 crap movies does not make a career with a future. This feral farce, which is created to pulverize the viewer with a carnival of pantomime cruelty creating distressing images of imbecile brutality towards good looking 25 year olds is the absolute lowest lamest dumbest ugliest most stupid and tedious film ever made in this country. What an embarrassment. Maybe Tarantino and Eli Roth might admire the sadism which is lifted from their films and re created here, and someone might think plagiarizing visual ideas from WAKE IN FRIGHT or MAD MAX 1/2 or HOSTEL or Freddy Kruger idiocy might morph into a career, but sadly no. Avoid this horrible silly film and save your money. Everyone associated with this film need to scrape it from their resume and pretend they did not participate.

Gun for a Coward

Gun and fist psychological beat up on Mama's boy.
This very enjoyable and rather surprising Universal western form 1957 has 5 terrific actors and a very good script. Even Fred MacMurray was good, but Chill Wills as the 'greek chorus' to Jeffrey Hunter's ethical dilemmas is an entertaining standout. However it is Jeffrey Hunter and Dean Stockwell's movie. Stockwell, just 20 and Hunter just 30 are magnetic in their conflicted brotherly dramas. A bit of pre-Psycho mother smothering sets the tone for some emotional blackmail by Mama who gratefully drops dead by reel 2. Then we get on with the girlfriend dilemma and the worry between two of brothers. It is all beautifully realized by Janice Rule, gorgeous and well cast as Audrey, the love interest that fractures brotherly love after the cattle stampede. I loved the music score and appreciated the production values. It is a good western, unusual and edited to just the right length.

Don Jon

Spunky satire about the male tug of love.
This dynamic new dramedy is a sensational writing and directing debut by the irrepressible Mr JGL. What a presence and what a star he is from this film. I actually felt it an update or a remake of Saturday NIGHT FEVER but smaller scale and crossing much of the same male ego and sexually provocative territory. But updated with new century chrome slickness and filth. It is a good film. Great casting, especially with Tony Danza and young Scarlett, always game for a smutty drama, and here being the emotionally manipulative GF to JGL's ego bastard. Then along comes some mature mind-sex leading into the proper emotion of the story. Clocking in at a slim but sturdy 85 minutes and with far too much product placement including the porn site which actually exists like an 85 minute ad for them, DON JON is fast and furious phallusy entertainment. Unreleased in cinemas in Australia because of the porn advertising site so vigorously displayed, DON JON was no crowd puller at the box office but is a firm favorite on the couch at home. Just like our hero.

C'era una volta il West

A big fistful of Paramount's dollars.
Quite astonishing for about 45 reasons, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is a film that also took me 45 years to bother to see. Whilst I admired the over-all production especially the art direction and the photography, I found the convoluted and quite bewildering story presentation tedious and ultimately irritating. There are many absolutely gloriously spectacular scenes both in Utah and with the train; the created sets/houses/town etc are genuinely visually fascinating and stunning to enjoy and make you reach further into the movie. I liked the main casting, even enjoying Fonda doing Eastwood. You can see how Bronson became a superstar after this. Some soaring magnificent orchestrations and endlessly beautiful scenes... but oh, that slow pace really did get to me. An irritating magnificent western masterpiece. Probably what Cimino was aiming for with HEAVENS GATE but overspent. This superb production came in for about $6m and looks every well spent dollar of it. Bravo! Beautiful.... Boring.

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