shakspryn

IMDb member since April 2017
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    5 years

Reviews

Mannix: Night Out of Time
(1968)
Episode 10, Season 2

Pretty good
As with some other late 1960's series, Mannix sometimes had a director who went in for an "artsy" type of feeling. This is one of those episodes. It's handled fairly well here, and doesn't slow the story down too much. Mannix is his usual warm, friendly, humane yet tough self, that fans like. The guest cast is good. The solution of the mystery had me guessing, which is a compliment for a tv show. So often on a detective show such as Mannix, you can guess the villain right away, because the cast of suspects is so limited. See if you can guess here! I was thinking maybe several different people were possibilities. That's good writing.

One general comment about the series: quite often, Mannix will face off with one or more bad guys, and he doesn't hesitate to whip out his pistol--I think it's usually a snub-nosed .38, sometimes a small automatic--and he's ready to bring matters to, shall we say, a definite conclusion. Not like those later 1970's TV detectives, such as Barnaby Jones, who if he ever shoots a villain, always just wings him in the shoulder, as I recall. Joe Mannix doesn't go in for half measures!

In this episode, Mannix's client drives a very handsome Mercedes convertible, a real beauty. That was fun to see. The quality of the cinematography in this, as in all in Mannix episodes I have watched lately, has been first-rate. Worthwhile episode.

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves
(1944)

A classic and beautifully filmed adventure story
This is a superb, unforgettable adventure movie, which is appealing on so many levels: it has a beautiful heroine and a handsome hero. The vibrant colors of this 1943 film are a joy to behold. And the costumes! Never, ever has any Hollywood film boasted more spectacular costumes than you will see here! Why, it's worth seeing this movie for the costumes alone! For just one example among dozens, check out the handsome outfit the main villain is wearing in the final scenes.

As an adventure movie, it succeeds completely. The action is fast-paced from the start. The scenes of the forty thieves, galloping all-out across the desert, are splendid and exciting. The supporting character actors, Andy Devine and Turhan Bey, have never had a better movie than this.

Are there criticisms one could make? Sure. The movie does use some "process" shots when characters are supposed to be riding horses, and we see them in close-up. But something like that is a very minor quibble.

This movie has earned a 10 rating, because it succeeds brilliantly in what the filmmakers wanted to do: create an entertaining story, full of beauty and spectacle. There will always be some people who prefer a serious film, with tragic themes, to a movie like this. For instance, "The Grapes of Wrath" was a powerful story filled with very poor people, social realism and a lot of tragedy. I saw it once a long time ago, and that was enough! "Ali Baba" is a movie I could happily watch 10 times.

Lady on a Train
(1945)

Entirely delightful comedy-mystery with a wonderful star
The plot of this 1945 movie will be a familiar one to fans of old movies: an attractive young heroine witnesses a murder; the police don't believe her; she sets out to solve the crime herself. But this film stands head and shoulders above most such 1930's and 1940's efforts.

First, and most importantly, the reason is Deanna Durbin. She is remarkably beautiful, and added to that, she has an energy, charm, and pure screen magnetism that very few actresses of any era can match. Any scene she is in is enjoyable and watchable, just from her presence! That is a rare, near magical quality. The biggest stars have it. Deanna had it.

Next, the supporting cast is excellent. David Bruce, Deanna's love interest and a mystery writer, has the best role of his career: he is handsome, witty, and energetic. He deserved much better from Hollywood than he got, but at least he was able to appear in a big part in this jewel of a film.

The look of the film is very good. There is an old mansion setting that is pleasantly creepy and mysterious. That adds a lot.

The comedy scenes are consistently enjoyable. They are well written scenes, but I think it is the Deanna Durbin charm that makes them work so well.

This movie is a lot of fun for all ages, from kids to grandparents. Highly recommended.

Fog Island
(1945)

Rich in creepy atmosphere, though the plot is hard to follow
PRC, the Poverty Row studio that made this film, went all out on this one: its pluses include: a first-rate cast. Including big names such as George Zucco and Lionel Atwill; a pretty, young heroine; a suitably creepy old mansion. The sets look unusually good for a Poverty Row film.

With all that said, the premise of the movie is tough to accept: George Zucco was framed by the people he invites to his island, yet they accept his invitation, in the hope that he's hidden away a fortune there, and maybe he's giving them a chance at it? Since the plot is that they framed him and he went to prison for five years, and one of them murdered his late wife (named Karma, the first time I have heard this as a character name) why on earth would he want to benefit them in any way, is my question! But, this is one of those movies where you have to just accept the odd premise.

The film will strongly remind viewers of Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians." Also, there's a certain Edgar Allan Poe feeling to some scenes. The climactic scene of the movie is unforgettable. Indeed, the climax is so dramatic, I get the feeling that maybe the writer started off with that in mind, and worked out the plot backward from that point. The movie is 70 minutes long, and it would have benefited from another 10 or 15 minutes to allow more character interplay and for the main events to unfold in a less hurried way. Still, it is a truly exceptional achievement for a Poverty Row studio, and well worth seeing. It's a treat to see those two greats, George Zucco and Lionel Atwill, having scenes together! Interestingly, Atwill seems to underplay in those scenes, allowing Zucco to have a clear field to come on strong. Recommended.

China Passage
(1937)

Excellent, enjoyable 1930's mystery
This movie is very well done. The settings are interesting, starting in 1937 Shanghai, and then moving onto a passenger steamship for most of the story. I always enjoy those old mysteries set on a ship!

All the characters are good, and the script is top-notch, with many nice lines. This movie definitely deserves a higher rating than it has.

RKO did a fine job with this movie. One of the merits of the plot is, that there are a lot of suspects among the liner's passengers, which makes it more interesting. The plot is similar to what you might expect in a Charlie Chan film of that period, but without a standout hero such as Chan, this movie has been very obscure. It is well worth your viewing time, especially if you like 1930's mysteries.

Skyfall
(2012)

Some OK parts, but too long and has overdone action scenes
Bond movies are supposed to have great action scenes, but there can be too much of a good thing, which is what happens here. The action scenes went on and on, to the point that I was bored.

Like all the Daniel Craig Bond movies, there are completely unnecessary references to Bond's earlier life, in a heavy-handed effort to make the character more "human," I suppose. A broader problem with all the Craig Bond movies is that they have a grim, negative, unpleasant tone. They take themselves way, way too seriously. Bond in these recent movies seems more like one of those self-absorbed superheroes, like Batman. I find that a bore.

The cinematography in this, as in all the recent Bond movies, is excellent. That's one good thing.

Casino Royale
(2006)

Overrated, and just not very good
Daniel Craig has been widely admired for his portrayal of James Bond, and the Craig Bond movies have been heralded as presenting a Bond who has more depth and a human backstory. I think that direction has been a mistake. Bond is a fantasy character whose main trait has always been unapologetic masculinity and a strong sense of right and wrong. That was enough for a film character; he didn't need a bunch of allusions to his childhood or earlier life. Who cares about that? Not most Bond fans. Movie critics may like that stuff, but they are not average people.

This version of Casino Royale is an OK movie that has some good action, and Craig is enjoyably witty at times. Some of the plot turns are too negative and gloomy for my taste. I saw this once, when it came out, and that was enough. To me, the story dragged.

A View to a Kill
(1985)

A weak Bond movie
This is simply not a good movie. It has almost nothing for Bond fans to enjoy. "Diamonds Are Forever" and "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," widely considered two of the lesser Bond movies, look like classics compared to this.

The story is tired, grim and excessively violent. The Patrick Macnee character is not used well. Roger Moore does what he can, but even his charm can't save this one. I saw it in its first release in a theatre, and I could sense how disengaged and bored the audience was. I like Tanya Roberts, I wish she had been in a better Bond movie. When the action of the movie drags, as this one does, then you really notice how cookie-cutter and repetitive the plots are; how silly, really: mad villain billionaire plots world mayhem--again! Yawn. My advice: skip it.

Checkmate: The Dark Divide
(1960)
Episode 9, Season 1

The plot is an old chestnut, but the performances are excellent
The plot is one that is very familiar to today's viewers, but back in 1960 it was more novel. I've started watching episodes of this series on the dvd set. This episode has Barbara Rush in a tour de force performance, which is reason enough to watch. The other thing I really liked about this one, is how it allowed Sebastian Cabot's character to show his warmth and humanity as a psychiatrist. He's very impressive, as are the other two main cast members. Doug McClure is so likeable! As with other episodes I've seen, this outing is much more thoughtful than most TV shows. It has that depth that some late 1950's and early 1960's series had, and which has been rarely seen since! The trio of leads work well together and there is a nice camaraderie. The emphasis in this episode, as in others of the series, is not on action; it' much more on character.

Mannix: The Need of a Friend
(1968)
Episode 9, Season 2

Interesting episode, but you need to be patient with it
There is a good story here, and a very strong supporting cast. The need for viewer patience comes in because the director was evidently going for an "arty" feel to the episode, so you get some camera angles and close ups that will seem a bit--well, different, than you see in most 1960's TV shows. Also, the dialogue sometimes has rather the feeling of a stage play. Still, it is well worth viewing: beautiful, clear cinematography, those fine guest stars, and Mannix showing depth and emotion. A young and ravishing Barbara Babcock, and a strong turn by Cloris Leachman, are standouts in the episode; plus the male guest star is excellent,

Starship Troopers
(1997)

The film is completely contrary to the spirit of the novel
I saw this a long time ago, and would never have bothered to review it, but today I read a journalist's article gushing over what a fine movie it is, so I decided to add my comment.

I don't think it's a good movie. I think it is complete and utter junk, for one basic reason: the director was entirely unsympathetic to the spirit of the novel and the viewpoint of the novelist, Robert Heinlein, who happens to have been one of the all-time great science fiction writers.

Contrary to what many casually suggest, the Earth of the novel is not "fascist." Heinlein posits that traditional U. S. democracy had collapsed due to social and moral decay, and that the country was re-founded on the principle that no one could vote unless they had served in the military. The U. S. started off with a property-ownership qualification to vote, so having a qualification of previous military service seems to me like a very long way from "fascism." My view is, if a director hates a book's message, then that director should not make it into a movie! The protagonist of the novel and his fellow soldiers are heroic in the book, which is exciting, compelling and still very worth reading. The book's author, Robert Heinlein, deserved much better than the travesty which is this movie.

Mission: Impossible: The Short Tail Spy
(1966)
Episode 14, Season 1

Outstanding performance by Barbara Bain
The first season episodes of MI are sometimes quite different than those we saw in later seasons. This is one of those different episodes, in a good way. For one thing, the story is centered on Cinnamon, and Barbara Bain gives us a tour de force performance, as she plays a dangerous game of romance with a notorious, womanizing, deadly spy, ably played by Eric Braeden.

The succession of quick scenes developing the romance angle is colorful, imaginative, and like nothing else I've ever seen on the series. The episode is aiming for a tone of poignancy, and achieves it. We don't get Martin Landau or Peter Lupus in this episode; it all belongs to Barbara Bain, this time. A very fine and memorable episode.

Daktari: The Elephant Thieves
(1966)
Episode 1, Season 1

Nice intro to the show; dated, but has good points
This first episode introduces us to the cast, which includes Judy the chimp, and Clarence, the famously "cross-eyed lion." Human and animal characters are both likeable, though there is a human adversary who wants to steal animals to sell.

What's good about this episode: Unlike so many TV shows of its time, this one is mostly filmed outdoors, which is refreshing. The lead actor has a very warm, genial presence, and all the regular cast are people you will like. It's a very good family show.

What's dated: the time period of the series isn't stated, but was presumably meant to be contemporary, that is 1966. But the game warden is a very English white guy, and there is only one person of African ethnicity that we see; he's a cast regular. So, it's a very white-looking show, which feels odd since this is supposed to be Africa. The lion and chimp are portrayed as entirely lovable and harmless pets; that message seems more than dubious today, despite the fun of watching them. Judy gets up to tricks that suggest a high IQ! Which comes to seem a bit much.

But despite those issues, it's an entertaining show. Slow paced by modern standards, but well worth watching.

Mission: Impossible: The Interrogator
(1969)
Episode 25, Season 3

An acting tour de force by Henry Silva
Not infrequently, an MI episode is elevated to memorable status by a standout performance from the guest star. Our MI team become in a way supporting players, as the audience sees the key figure, the person holding a secret that the team needs, struggling forcefully in the web they have carefully created.

In this episode, our team finds out that they are facing perhaps the most crucial challenge ever, to foil an imminent surprise nuclear attack on the United States!

Henry Silva, a fine actor, gives a powerful and passionate performance as the officer of a foreign power who knows the details that the team must have to avert the attack. He brings to this role the intensity for which he was known and admired. We should be glad that this series gave him a chance to show what good work he could do. Recommended.

The Return of Mr. Moto
(1965)

Slow moving, with a few fairly good moments
I saw this film, as many probably do, because it is included as an extra on the Fox release of "Mr. Moto Takes A Vacation." The dvd print is fairly sharp' the 1965 film is in black and white.

The best moments of the film are a couple of action scenes, which are handled pretty well. Otherwise, it's just not very engaging. To me, that has two main causes: the film has virtually zero humor, and in Henry Silva's characterization, Mr. Moto seems a totally American person. There aren't even any little moments to indicate he's Japanese! Not in his taste in food, or dress, or habits, or manners, anything!

So, it seems like we're watching an American agent, who for some reason is named Moto, and who, rather oddly, everyone talks about as being Japanese. As for the plot of the film, it's like one of those early episodes of the Saint: frankly, it's a yawn.

Henry Silva's Moto is sort of likeable, but he's also super serious nearly all the time. His Moto just doesn't have much charm, which Peter Lorre always had in ample supply. I guess it comes down to, this movie is very much about the plot, and the plot has been done so many times on old TV shows that it's dull, and there's no humor to keep one engaged.

Suzanne Lloyd as the attractive woman character is good; I wish she had been in more scenes. Martin Wyldeck, who played the bad guy assassin, was very good; that part of the movie, involving him, was fine, but the film is a vehicle for Moto, and in that regard, the film is flat and under-powered. I'd say, it's OK to watch once if you have the Fox dvd.

Hot Rats
(2003)

An intriguing and imaginative adult film
Nearly all adult films are utterly predictable and they sink into oblivion almost as soon as they are made. If fans of adult films remember them at all, it is usually for a single scene that featured a fan's favorite performer.

This film is refreshingly different from that model. Almost uniquely among adult films, it is visually interesting to watch for the sets. There is more to it than the sex scenes (which are numerous and well done). Because this extra dimension is not what most fans look for or expect, this movie often causes bafflement among such fans, who are 100% fixated on the "action." The story has many elements of fantasy, or a dream. The main character is a young woman whose costume suggests Red Riding Hood. She leaves home and goes on a journey in which she witness and/or takes part in several erotic encounters.

The erotic encounters are energetic and varied. This 2003 film has one of the last performances of Lea de Mae, who died tragically young a year later from brain cancer. It also features Michelle Wild, unquestionably one of the most beautiful actresses in the entire history of adult films, at the age of 23, shortly before she left the industry. Michelle has never looked better, or more erotic, than she does in her two scenes in this film. Lea is also a standout in this film. Even though so many adult film fans do not "get" this movie, it is very worthwhile for anyone who enjoys some real creativity in adult films: it is so rare! Recommended.

Sealed Cargo
(1951)

Exciting film noir with a unique World War II setting
This movie is outstanding. The script is tight and taut; all the performances are good; Claude Rains and Dana Andrews raise the movie to a higher level than the usual "B" picture.

And the film noir aspect! The movie is wonderfully atmospheric, with scenes of Dana Andrews' fishing vessel in the fog off the Grand Banks....and they sight this mysterious, ghostly looking sailing ship, that seems like it might be the close cousin of the Flying Dutchman!

There's a lot of mystery, some nice romance, and also some good action scenes. Lots of dramatic tension, and as the climax approaches you wonder how this is going to turn out!

I saw this movie in a Spanish dvd release, which I could play on my region free dvd player. Their print was good, and the dvd came with a very nice booklet (in Spanish) with a discussion of the movie, and images of a number of posters from the movie.

The woman in the movie is Carla Balenda, who is very beautiful and who does a fine job in the role. I got the movie because I saw her in a Perry Mason episode, and she was so stunning, I was intrigued, and found that she was in this. Movies with a sea mystery aspect, and set on ships, are some of my favorites. I'm so glad I ran across this one. Highly recommended, especially for fans of film noir, Claude Rains and Dana Andrews!

Whispering Ghosts
(1942)

Very enjoyable mystery-comedy with a first-rate cast
There's a great deal to like in this movie. The setting of the rotting old sailing ship is wonderfully gloomy and mysterious. The supporting cast is expert. Milton Berle comes off very well. Yes, he fires off one-liners almost non-stop at times, but I thought he did a fine job and was funny. There's a good amount of action; it's not just all talky. It's worth seeing.

Mission: Impossible: The Bunker: Part 1
(1969)
Episode 19, Season 3

One of the greatest Mission Impossible adventures: Ever!
This two-parter is outstanding; classic IMF adventure. It is brilliantly written; tightly directed; superbly acted. A key plot element involves technology that was very advanced indeed for 1969; you'll see it in Jim Phelp's briefing at the start, and it will make you smile! Talk about being ahead of its time!

This outing, our IMF team is involved in a very high-risk operation in a foreign, Iron Curtain type country. This is definitely one of the toughest challenges the team has ever had. Are they up to it? You know they are!

Some of the many pluses in this two-parter: Willy has key and important things to do; beautiful Lee Meriwether has a big part; we get to see Milton Selzer (Dr. Rojak) as an admirable genius; there are good twists and turns; lots of action; and man, the final climactic scenes! Absolutely spectacular! Worthy of a James Bond movie--yes, it's that good and exciting! Talk about a high budget two-parter: whew! It's all on the screen in this one! I somehow didn't see this one when I was a teenager; I just watched it tonight on dvd. Highest recommendation.

Watusi
(1959)

Entertaining movie with a good cast
This is an enjoyable adventure movie set i 1919 Africa. As for the cast, it's really a story of three main characters, and all the actors do a fine job, with well-played, subtle interactions at times. In terms of acting, David Farrar stands out to me as being very impressive.

George Montgomery makes a good adventure hero, and in many scenes he will remind you so much of Indiana Jones! Right down to the hat and the bare chest! He's super-handsome. I wasn't familiar with Taina Elg--she is Finnish, I think--a lovely actress.

This is an adventure movie, but with a more deliberate, or slower, pace than we are used to today. I find that difference refreshing. One very notable quality of this movie, is the use of some really great stock footage of Africa--there are many beautiful scenes of abundant wildlife. The matching of that footage with the actual movie isn't always perfect, but why be critical about that? Just enjoy scenes that often feature many different animals. George Montgomery fans, of whom I am one, will especially like this movie.

The Brasher Doubloon
(1947)

Excellent mystery
This is a very enjoyable mystery. Some reviewers don't have a high opinion of George Montgomery as the detective hero, comparing him to how they think Humphrey Bogart or Dick Powell would have been in the role, but I thought he was very good. Montgomery was handsome, charming and very likeable. Nancy Guild the young lead actress, was also a pleasure to watch--beautiful and mysterious.

The movie has a strong visual style and is fast-paced. Highly recommended for fans of 1940's mysteries.

The Six Million Dollar Man: The Last of the Fourth of Julys
(1974)
Episode 10, Season 1

Steve as super-spy; a fun James Bond type episode
Our man Steve is very much in secret agent mode here, and the plot is similar to many spy movies. It's an enjoyable episode, and I think it shows one of the most appealing qualities of this series: it wasn't a cop or detective show, of which there were so very many in the 1970's.

This series is really different. Steve is basically a secret agent who happens to have some super powers due to his bionic enhancements.

Arlene Martel is a beautiful member of the cast, and she has a good part. Steve Forrest is also very good as the bad guy. And in a surprise bit of casting that I didn't realize until I read the credits, none other than Tom Hayden--yes, that Tom Hayden, former husband of Jane Fonda--plays a submarine crewman! I didn't recognize him, but then, I wasn't expecting him to pop up in this series!

Selen video magazine: Violenza paterna
(1996)

Memorably for one great scene with Selen
For viewers who do not know, these Selen video magazine titles are a series of scenes, with Selen in one or two of the scenes in the movie. There is no connected plot between the scenes.

What makes this movie of interest, in that there is a one very good scene between Selen and Backey Jakic.

Concetta Licata
(1994)

Selen and Erica Bella look good here
Selen has two good scenes in this movie, and Erica Bella has one. Those are the reasons to watch the movie, in my opinion. Also, Selen displays her very good acting skills, which made her characters more real. That acting ability, combined with her smoldering, sensual attractiveness, is probably why she was one of the top adult stars in Italy in the 1990s.

Cuore di pietra
(1996)

Italian movie starring Selen
Selen has several scenes in this movie; one of the scenes is among her best, and is the main reason to watch or own this film. That scene comes near the end of the film. Kelly Trump also has one very good scene, and several other scenes.

Aside from those two standout scenes, the movie is fairly standard Italian adult fare for the 1990's. The film is well-shot, not grainy or cheap looking, which is a plus. This is one of relatively few films which Selen made, for which Mario Salieri was not the director. It's worth seeing for Selen and Kelly.

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