Films

Jeff Bridges Blogathon Wrap-up

I’ve had absolutely wonderful entries to the Jeff Bridges Blogathon. Thank you to everyone who joined me.

Apologies to those of you who I only linked up today – timezones, different bedtimes and a long day at work made it difficult to get everyone’s linked on 4th December, Jeff Bridges’ Birthday.

Sam Simon of vengonofuoridallefottutepareti tells us about the excellent performance given by Jeff Bridges in his Oscar and Golden Globe winning role of Bad Blake, a washed out singer (and actually excellently sung by Mr Bridges himself) in Crazy Heart (2009). (here)

The Midnite Drive-In guides us through cult classic The Big Lebowski, which, dude, if you haven’t seen, you really should do so, man. This 1998 Coen Brothers movie is rated one of the top 250 by IMDB. Get inspired here.

Realweegiemidget Reviews tackles Jeff Bridges’ role as  homme fatale Jack Forrester in 1985’s Jagged Edge. This court-room thriller has you wondering if Jack is guilty or not. Pop past this post (here) to read all about it.

Taking Up Room tells us about Tron (1982) and the cyber world together with some really interesting things about the sets and costumes. It must be quite an experience finding yourself in a computer program. Here you can read it all.

MovieRob gives us his thoughts about Tron (1982) as well as Tron: Legacy (2010). Both star Jeff Bridges. Here and here are his thoughts about these two movies. Technologies change so be sure to read about his thoughts on the latter.

Read about Tucker: The Man and His Dream of 1988 over at Dubsism (here). Aside from the great movie reviewed you’ll also discover some interesting information around the hidden allegory to the rise and fall of the Alliance of American Football.

Want to read about a little heard of gem of a movie? Head on over to Diary of a Movie Maniac and read about Bad Company here. A western showing a less glorified west, with Jeff Bridges in one of his first starring roles.

Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies reviews The Fabulous Baker Boys of 1998 here. In this one Jeff teams up with real-life brother Beau and take on the role of musicians and the impact when a singer joins them.

And finally, I review the movie that first introduced me to Jeff Bridges, Lolly Madonna XXX here.

Happy reading!

 

Lolly Madonna XXX

Lolly-Madonna_XXX…not a dodgy rated movie but a postcard signed with kisses by Lolly Madonna. And the cause of a whole lot of violence between the Feather and Gutshall families in Lolly Madonna XXX (1973).

Two families, living next door to each other in Tennesse, steal or damage each others’ property. And up to this point, things are relatively harmless and nobody gets hurt. But then, the Gutshalls sons place a postcard into their own postbox which is next to the Feathers’ one. It is addressed to one of the Gutshall sons and states that Lolly Madonna will be waiting at the bus-stop in the village nearby on a particular day. This all with the hope that the Feather boys Thrush (Scott Wilson) and Skylar (Timothy Scott) will find the card (yes, the look into each other’s post boxes) and head off to town to find this girl thus leaving the Gutshalls with a chance to steal some pigs.

BUT…there just happens to be a girl waiting at the bus stop. Not Lolly Madonna but Roonie Gill (Season Hubley). She has no connection to these feuding families at all and is running away from her own troubles. Thrush and Skylar kidnap her while Zeb (Gary Busey) and Ludie (KielMartin) Gutshall go get the livestock. And this is the start of the total destruction of these two families. Even the respective patriarchs Laban Feather (Rod Steiger) and Pap Gutshall (Robert Ryan) fail to restore some order with violence ensuing on both sides. We do, however, have some members of these families who try to keep civil, including Zack Feather (Jeff Bridges) who is tasked with looking after Roonie.

It is Zack who always stood out for me. He is the caring one, the one who seems to want to stay out of it all. And this is also the role which introduced me to a very young Jeff Bridges. And I’ve been a fan ever since. He brings this perfect balance of a young man both loyal to his family yet still trying to do the right thing. And, it turns out that this mostly level headed Feather boy is indirectly responsible for all the mayhem.

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Directed by Richard C. Sarafian and based on a novel by…wait for it…you’ll never guess…Sue Grafton, I never really know how I feel about this one. At times unpleasant to watch at other times leaving a hopeless and then hopeful feeling, it is most definitely an interesting one to watch with a final climactic shootout. Oh, the futility of it all!

You’ll know most of the cast (also Ed Lauter, Randy Quaid) and yet will probably never have heard of this one. But, I’m forever grateful that this relatively unknown movie introduced me to such a phenomenal actor and artist. I’ve watched pretty much every Jeff Bridges movie since.

For more posts celebrating Jeff Bridges (it is his birthday today), head on over to my Jeff Bridges Blogathon page and read all the entries!

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The Jeff Bridges Blogathon and a birthday wish…

So, first and foremost:

Happy Birthday Mr. Bridges! Hope you have a wonderful day.

And for Jeff Bridges’ 70th Birthday, I’ve decided to hold the Jeff Bridges Blogathon to honour this wonderful and often underrated actor.

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As many of you know, I was introduced the wonderful world of movies through my parents’ Super 8 film collection (saved just in time from someone tossing them into the junkyard). And, it is amongst this wonderful collection that there was Lolly Madonna – XXX (and no, don’t get any ideas…that’s XXX as in kisses). The character who caught my attention was none other than Zack Feather played by Jeff Bridges. Since then, I’ve always enjoyed this artist and the movies he’s been in. From the up-to-no-good Jake (Bad Company) to Jack (The Fabulous Baker Boys and The Fisher King), be it Charles Howard (Seabiscuit) or Rooster Cogburn (True Grit) and those myriad other characters, every role he takes on is absolutely perfect.

Born on the 4th December 1949 as Jeffrey Leon Bridges, he has starred in movies such as The Fabulous Baker Boys, Tucker: The Man and his Dream, The Big Lebowski, The Fisher King, Crazy Heart, Hell or High Water, and and and the list goes on. It was year after year that I hoped this great actor would win the coveted Oscar and/or Golden Globe…finally 2010 came and Crazy Heart won him both awards. Photography is another gift of his and the shots I’ve seen are superb. As for his musical talents, those are fantastic too.

So, without further ado, here are the posts of my fellow bloggers in honour of today’s special birthday (I’ll update the entries as the day goes by…late entries welcome, including mine):

 

CrazyHeartPoster vengonofuoridallefottutepareti  (Sam Simon) – Crazy Heart (2009)
TheBigLebowskiPoster The Midnite Drive-InThe Big Lebowski (1998)
Jagged_edge_poster Realweegiemidget Reviews Jagged Edge (1985)
Lolly-Madonna_XXX Thoughts All Sorts – Lolly Madonna XXX (1973)
TronPoster Taking Up Room – Tron (1982)
TronPoster MovieRob – Tron (1982)
TronLegacy MovieRob – Tron Legacy (2010)
Tuckerposter Dubsism – Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)
BadCompany Diary of a Movie Maniac – Bad Company (1972)
FabulousBakerBoys.jpg Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies – The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)

Intense, heavy, tragic, excellent…

Now…where do I even start? This is such a difficult movie to “digest”. I find it extremely disturbing and heart-breaking yet I do consider Brothers (2009) an excellent movie.

Well, I guess I should start at the beginning. We’re introduced to Marine Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire), his wife Grace (Natalie Portman) and their two little girls. We’re also introduced to Sam’s brother, Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) just as he is being released from prison. And then, we discover Sam is about to leave for Afghanistan in the line of duty. Shot down and reported dead, in reality he and good friend Private Joe Willis (Patrick John Flueger) have, in fact, been taken captive and undergo extreme torture* by the Taliban in a remote village.  Back home Grace and the family try to make sense of it all while Tommy additionally needs to deal with getting his own life sorted.

*I barely managed to watch these scenes on my first viewing so please be warned…they are not easy watching. And may disturb you long after the credits roll.

brothers-movieThis in itself is so heartbreaking to watch as every member of the family, from father to son, mother to daughter and even friends have their own personal daemons and grief process. While watching this I found it difficult to even try to understand what these people are going through with such a loss. The blame, the guilt, the hope and the list goes on. And we see how everyone has their own means of dealing with it. This must be so unbelievably difficult.

On the other hand, we also see positive healing in an unexpected manner. Tommy, the son who never followed his father’s military footsteps and instead went the criminal route, finally finds responsibility, a purpose and a way of rebuilding his life.

2009_brothers_011But then, Sam comes home. And things become even more difficult. The effects of Sam’s traumatic and extreme experiences (I won’t go into the details) are of course felt by all. And once again, an entire family must rediscover itself, it’s purpose, redefine relationships and question everything they thought they stood for. It almost becomes even more challenging because when presumed dead, Sam’s family had some means to move on and rebuild. But with him back that normalcy falls away. Relationships are tested. And we are reminded of the emotional impact of war. The ever-lasting after-effects. How, when the physical scars heal, those mental ones are barely, if at all, heal-able. I cannot imagine that anyone can ever fully recover from experiences such as Sam (and countless others) have.

Sam’s final line sums it all up perfectly: “Only the dead have seen the end of war. I have seen the end of war. The question is…can I live again?”. And that’s the sad thing…the lives that are ruined.

Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal as always, deliver stellar performances and even Tobey Maguire is superb in his role, earning a Golden Globe nomination. Overall, absolutely worth watching but as I said, this is a heavy one.

For more Marine related movies, head on over to my blogging friend Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews (here) and her co-host J-Dub of Dubsism (here) for their The Send in the Marine Blogathon.

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Grace shines again…

Rear_Window_film_poster…as always. I’m really enjoying watching Grace Kelly and this time I finally got around to a movie that I’ve been meaning to watch for ages. Rear Window (1954).

Here she takes on the role of snob high society fashion expert Lisa, who is desperately trying to win the full attention of her boyfriend Jeff (?, hmm, is he really? Maybe she thinks so…I’m not convinced he does). He, however, is confined to his apartment in a wheelchair due to a broken leg courtesy of some action shot he took (he’s a photographer). Bored, Jeff (James Stewart) spends his days spying on casually watching the comings and goings of the surrounding neighbours. One couple living across the courtyard is constantly fighting until suddenly, the wife is gone. Under very suspicious goings on. Lisa at first isn’t really interested – she’s more worried about serving lobster and being the perfectly styled lady around. Oh, and becoming the undivided attention. However, gradually she is pulled into the mystery of the missing wife. And eventually is fully involved in contributing theories.

I absolutely love watching Grace Kelly go from pretty much being disinterested to being hands-on with this personal investigation going on. An absolute pleasure to watch her transform yet still allow the underlying prim and proper lady to shine through. And she seems to manage this so will in all the movies I’ve seen her in (which, I’m afraid is really a small handful). She has the knack of subtly bringing out a woman who does, in fact, have more substance/strength than we initially believe. And yet she always keeps her poise.

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As for the movie, well, let’s just focus on Grace here. She is magnificent. And gives another fine performance.

Here the movie that first introduced my to this actress: Grace Kelly’s Mrs Kane in High Noon and here she is in another Hitchcock movie: To Catch a Thief (1955).

For more of this wonderful lady, head on over to The Wonderful World of Cinema (here), Musings of a Classsic Film Addict (here) and The Flapper Dame (here), the wonderful hosts of The 5th Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon.

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Northanger Abbey? Gothic?

Northanger Abbey_1I was quite surprised to see an image of this wonderful Jane Austen story on Pale Writer‘s Blogathon announcement. So I learn something everyday…and actually, it is right there, so obvious. Because Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey’s main character is engrossed by Gothic stories, particularly Anne Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho. Ms Radcliffe was, in fact, one of the first writers of Gothic fiction. Or, at least someone key in making it a “genre” if you like. Something else I’ve learnt.

Any excuse to watch the 2007 rendition of Northanger Abbey again…this time for the Gothic influence. It is absolutely wonderful watching Catherine, played perfectly by Felicity Jones, daydream (and dream) of all things “horrid” and terribly suspenseful, all influenced by those novels she loves to engross herself in. I absolutely love how this movie integrates the characters into her various fantasies all dark and moody (I’m not sure how they are portrayed in the book…will find out soon though as I have it waiting patiently on my bedside table to be read) from her daily encounters…including Henry Tilney and his brother. Ultimately, our dreams and daydreams involve people we know, I guess. And don’t we all build up our own expectations of the unknown…like Catherine expects a haunted mansion with ghouls and ghosts. And Henry just loves to tease her about it.

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Felicity Jones is perfect as Catherine who gives us that wonderful contrast between innocence and her “wild” haunting romantic dreams. I’m enjoying J.J. Field (Henry) more and more…

Her staying over at the Tilneys’ place is a delight. I thoroughly enjoy watching her build up her own mysterious world based on her readings and what she’s heard. The lightning storm adds the perfect atmosphere.

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All-in-all, a wonderful movie, well worth the watch.

For other entries of the Dark and Deep: The Gothic Horror Blogathon give Pale Writer a visit (here). And be sure to check out my Sleepy Hollow post for the same Blogathon (here). And while not part of this Blogathon, also thematically fitting is a previous post of mine on The Crow both comic and movie over here (here).

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Some delightful magic…

practical-magic-poster-01Practical Magic. Remember that one? One of those feel-good Sandra Bullock movies with a bit of magic and of course, romance. I came across it again last weekend. And thoroughly enjoyed it. Again.

There’s a curse around. A curse on the Owens witches. Passed from mother to daughter, generation after generation. All because of love. Or, rather the “agony of love”. Maria Owens, casts a spell that any man who is truly loved will die. And that’s exactly where the problem for sisters Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian (Nicole Kidman) comes in. Sally falls in love, with detrimental effects and Gillian, well, she also meets a man but has other problems. Ending up temporarily living with the aunts who raised them, these problems needs solving and the two sisters are left to deal with it, and a handsome investigator mostly on their own. What results is a wonderful, feel-good movie of magic, spells, family, laughter and love.

Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman are perfectly juxtaposed as sisters – different enough yet still convincing. Who better to play the two wacky aunts, and wacky they are…chocolate for breakfast, no things as bedtimes or brushing teeth (eeuw), than Stockard Channing and Diane Wiest? They remind us of what we should do a little more in our lives…worry less about what others think and just be ourselves. Granted, that is not always easy, but honestly, I think rate others’ opinions of us far too highly. There are some other lessons to be learnt but I won’t bore you with that right now.

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Back in the late 80s and early 90s, romantic (comedies?) movies had something that just worked. They were light, delightful and just…well, uhm, romantic. Especially if you had Sandra Bullock and Aidan Quinn (remember him?) crossing paths. Aidan Quinn is Gary Hallet, the detective following a lead and finding himself face-to-face with the most disliked ladies in town. Ladies who are totally misunderstood.

So, if like me, you are way too scared to watch real horror movies for Halloween, give Practical Magic (1998) a watch. You’ll smile and you’ll feel good by the end.

And remember ladies, “There’s a little witch in all of us”. Well, that’s what the aunts think anyway.

Not so sleepy…but very creepy…

…and absolutely wonderful! Full of atmosphere and eccentricity. Oh, those worlds Tim Burton can submerse us in! Welcome to the town of Sleepy Hollow:

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Where the headless horseman is in search of such object. A head that is. So intent on his mission that body after body is found clean cut and cauterised, “as though the blade itself were red hot. And yet, no blistering. No scorched flesh”. Ah…”The devil’s fire”.

Or, maybe not. After all, that’s what the constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp, who here reminds us that there once was a brilliant actor before Jack Sparrow) is here to prove. “Murder needs no ghost to come from the grave. We have murders in New York without the benefit of ghouls and goblins.” But Baltus Van Tassel (Michael Gambon) reminds him that “You’re a long way from New York, Constable”. Ichabod isn’t convinced despite shaking in fear that he can barely hold his cuppa “The assassin is a man of flesh and blood and I will discover him.”.

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So his investigation begins. With magic and sorcery and curses. Add some greed and other small town secrets and you’ve the start of a potion to behold. The key ingredients though are Tim Burton and the entire cast (Johnny Depp, Michael Gambon, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Christopher Lee and every single other actor and actress involved, with Christopher Walken topping it all off as the Headless Horseman.) Finally, Danny Elfman’s music makes this cauldron of art boil to perfection.

Sleepy-Hollow-Poster-202x300Tim Burton is just phenomenal with the fantastical words he creates for us. No matter which story he tackles, he weaves a gorgeous canvas that is utterly over the top yet at the same time moody and convincing. Don’t be misled by the seeming “lighter” parts he gives us – those bright and dreamy sequences that are as menacing as the dark and misty ones.

This Halloween, enjoy some Gothic Horror with Sleepy Hollow (1999). It is worth every millimeter of film.

And if that isn’t enough, there’s plenty more of the like over at Pale Writer and the bloggers of her Dark and Deep: The Gothic Horror Blogathon (here).

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Shelley takes no nonsense…

This is Shelley Winters to me:

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Always has been. Always will be. In fact, I don’t know her in any other role. That is, the cigar-smoking, non-nonsense taking Kate from The Scalphunters (1968). So there you have it…another secret is out. I guess I should try watch at least one other movie of hers…but you know what? I quite like her as this western lady. The one who gives tough-as-nails leader of the “wickedest, crookedest”* scalp hunters, Jim Howie (who else but Telly Savalas?), a run for his money:

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She has to though…who else would put up with kissing a man who chews tobacco and likes prunes:

Kate: “Look. Look at my skin. It’s getting all dried up. Pretty soon I’m going to look like an old prune.”

Howie: “Well, I like prunes”

She’s not scared to tell Jim Howie to run his business “like you knew what you’s doing” in such a way that all he can reply with is  “ain’t she pretty?”. And that she is. Underneath all her toughness, she dreams of a fancy house and beautiful skin. And, she’s Shelley Winters, really a pretty lady who has the perfect balance of sweetness and feistiness to pull off this role. I’m not sure who else could have been so perfectly cast opposite Telly Savalas, himself at times overpowering the screen.

Here she is, promised that after having had her hair shampooed by the humble cactus, she’ll be a fine lady:

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I think that goal was definitely achieved:

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Throughout the movie, Shelley Winters is just fabulous in her role. The perfect fit here and when facing the Kiowa chief, offering him a bottle of whiskey, she sums up her character (and performance) absolutely perfectly: “Indian Man, I don’t know how many wives you got now…but you’re going to have yourselves the damnedest white squaw in the Kiowa nation.”

If you haven’t seen this movie yet, do so. Aside from Shelley‘s performance, Telly Savalas, Burt Lancaster and Ossie Davis add their great acting skills to this western (with some comic moments added in). The story is about a fur tracker who encounters some Indians and being forced to trade his precious goods for an escaped slave. Things are further complicated when the furs end up with the renegades. For a more detailed review of the actual movie, head on over here (here).

*as so aptly described by Joe Bass (Burt Lancaster) to Joseph Lee (Ossie Davis)

Now I’m heading over to Realweegiemidget Reviews and Poppity Talks Classic Film the hosts of The Shelley Winters Blogathon  (here) to be enlightened on some more of this actress’ roles.

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Costumes and all the drama..

220px-Plunkett_&_Macleane…yep, we’re looking at costuming up within a costume drama…and some drama it is…with highway robbers and damsels (definitely not in distress). Let me introduce Plunkett & Macleane (1999). One of my favourites (thank you Paul).

Ah, what a wonderful movie. Plunkett (Robert Carlyle) and Macleane (Jonny Lee Miller) encounter each other one dark and dreary night during some grave robbing ruby retrieving activities. And what a perfect pair of (gentlemen) highwaymen they become…Macleane’s former socialite statues gets him back amongst the wealthy while Plunkett’s criminal know-how… well, you get the basic scenario. Add Lady Rebecca Gibson (Liv Tyler), who’s star-struck by our pair (well, one in particular) and finds it all quite daring and so much more exciting than being the prim and proper niece of powerful Lord Gibson (Michael Gambon). And definitely more adventurous than being “courted” by halitosis suffering General Chance (Ken Stott) who’s always (mostly) one step behind getting the pair behind bars. Ensuring some wonderful entertainment, Lord Rochester (Alan Cumming) and his cronies just round it all off. Especially on the costume side of things:

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“You forget something. I have morals” Oh please! The morals are long gone. Targeting the rich…not for the poor but for the grand plan of going across to America. For new beginnings. And gosh, the quotes are just wonderful. Actually, the whole movie is just great but if I tell you anything more you’re going to miss out on this gem (hmmm, no pun intended).

With a gentleman highwayman, ruby births (you’ll understand), gallows and balls…what more could you possibly want? Oh, you even get the costumes and the drama (and lots of comedy). I highly recommend.

Let the fireworks begin! Have fun! PlunkettMacleane8

And head over to Moon in Gemini for some other entries in this wonderful Costume Drama Blogathon (here)

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Kelly’s Heroes…good fun

Kelly's_Heroes_film_posterI’m not a big “war movie person” but with Kelly’s Heroes (1970) I make an exception. Because this movie isn’t just a war movie, no, it goes far beyond that. It is memories of those Super 8 movie days with my father. And of us quoting various scenes from Kelly’s Heroes by heart…

…for example “Sixty feet of bridge…” aah…but I get ahead of myself. Let’s backtrack just a little…I think I should give you a rough breakdown of the happenings first:

So, we have Kelly, of course, who hears about a stash of gold that would be good for the taking. Problem is, said stash is behind enemy lines. But, fear not, Kelly, being a tough soldier gets together his band of “heroes” with some added takers who end up in the group just because they happen to be in the “right” spot at appropriate time (think “Oddball” here”…I’ll explain later). And off they go…with all sorts of antics along the way. Remember, this isn’t a war war movie, no, it’s more of a comedy war movie (of course, with serious moments along the way).

Anyway, this became one of the most quoted movies in our household…mostly, because the memorable lines come from Donald Sutherland who was my father’s favourite actor. Like when all the bridges are being blown up just as our band of heroes want to cross. And Oddball, yes, Donald Sutherland (who else?) is tasked with finding a bridge…part of his telephonic negotiation goes along the lines of this:

Oddball: “…look baby, I’m kinda hung up. I need sixty feet of bridge.”

Bellamy: “Hey kid. They haven’t got you in the nut ward again?”

Oddball: “Ah Bellamy, for cryin’ out loud………I don’t need you. Sixty feet of bridge I can get almost anywhere. Schmuck!”

Oh boy, and the “negative waves”…always positive even when the bridge gets blown. As for his “battle tactics”:

Oddball: “These tanks are faster than any other tanks in the European Theater of Operations. Forwards or backwards. You see man, we like to feel we can get out of trouble quicker than we got into it.”

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And when Kelly asks if he has any other weapons:

Oddball: “Well yeah, man, you see, like, all the tanks we come up against are bigger and better than ours, so that all we can hope to do is, like, scare ’em away y’ know. This gun is an ordinary 76mm but we add this piece of pipe onto it and the Krauts think, like uh, maybe it’s a 90mm”

Further explaining that “We have a loudspeaker here, and when we go into battle we play music, very loud. It kind of…calms us down.” and “We got our own ammunition. it’s filled with paint. When we fire it, it makes… pretty pictures. Scares the hell outta people!”

But, it isn’t only Oddball who’s fantastic in this one. The whole bunch of heroes work so well with nobody out-shadowing the other. Clint Eastwood, is of course Kelly, all serious and leader of the group. Second in command, if you like, is Big Joe…ah, what a character – also his own entity and always shouting about as only Telly Savalas can. Crapgame, Don Rickles, is always wheeling and dealing in some way or other. And the list goes on making for a well worthwhile watch.

Another thing that always sticks out for me is the opening (well, not opening but the first piece) song “Burning Bridges” by the Mike Curb Congregation. Back in the day, before online shopping, I searched many a CD store (remember those?) for this title…and finally found it on a compilation CD. Here it is with some snippets from the movie (so, possibly spoiler alert):

Overall, a treat of a war movie.

Thanks to Maddy of Maddy Loves her Classic Films together with Jay of Cinema Essentials for hosting this Blogathon. Head on over to their sites for other great entries.

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~Legends of Western Cinema Week Tag~

Ahhh….anything Western just catches my attention and so I came across Caftan Woman‘s Post titled LEGENDS OF WESTERN CINEMA WEEK: Post 2, Tag (originating at Along the Brandywine here.) And in this European heat wave…a tag is just perfect…especially with the Western theme. Ok, ok, a Western tag is perfect come rain or shine, hot or cold… 🙂

1) Do you tolerate, like, or love westerns?

What kind of question is that???? I looooooove Westerns! But those “traditional” style ones. These new-fangled modern-day Westerns aren’t for me.

2) What do you enjoy about them and, more broadly, the west itself (e.g. the history, accompanying paraphernalia, etc)?

War_Wagon_film_posterI just love that “romantic” notion that the Western movie brings me. There’s something special about a cowboy driftin’ the plains. The honkey tonk music somewhere in a distant saloon where someone is bound to come crashing to the boardwalk through the swinging doors. And then there are the cowgirls, the ladies who can swing into the saddle and wrangle as good as any man. She can hold her own in the dusty west yet always has a tender side.

3) What’s the first western you can remember watching?

The War Wagon with John Wayne on the Super 8 reels my parents had salvaged from a store who was about to throw them out when VHS and Beta Videos came out and the Video Store was born. I think part of my passion comes from that certain something that came with watching movies on our white lounge walls and ever so often having to change burnt out light bulbs or salvage stuck film before it melted.

4) Who are your favorite western stars, the ones whose presence in a western will make you pick it up off the shelf?

Gosh, this is a difficult one. When I was younger, John Wayne (but a young or middle-aged John Wayne) was a definite watch. Gary Cooper and Paul Newman weren’t too bad either. But over the past few years, Gregory Peck has become my favourite. But this too is bound to change. I like modern day actors in Westerns too – Michael Fassbender does a good job as does Karl Urban.

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5) What’s your favorite performance by an actress in a western?

scalphunters3I thoroughly enjoy Sharon Stone in her role as The Lady in The Quick and the Dead. But Shelley Winters as cigar smoking Kate in The Scalphunters is absolutely brilliant.

6) What is your “go-to” western, the one you’ll typically reach for?

Yellow Sky. And now and then The Magnificent Seven (1960). But yes…Yellow Sky. I’d say it is my favourite western.

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7) Do your family/friends share your interest in westerns, or are you a lone ranger (pun completely intended)?

My father loved a good western but these days I’m out on the prairie alone.

8) Pick one western to live inside for a week, and explain why you chose it.

I’d have to pick Yellow Sky…and of course I’d be “Mike” (Anne Baxter) as she’s tough as nails yet behind all that lies a woman who’d love a beautiful dress or that flowery bonnet. And it is just so wonderful how her friendship with “Stretch” (Gregory Peck) develops. Ok…fine, I just love this movie so I’ll admit it…I’d dream of living it…

 

Although, as a little girl I used to see myself as some character in Big Jake and make up my own derivative story.

9) Share one (or several!) of your favorite quotes from a western.

Ha ha…I don’t even need to look this one up: “You can call me father. You can call me Jacob. You can call me Jake. You can call me a dirty son-of-a-bitch. But if you ever call me Daddy again, I’ll finish this fight.” – Jacob McCandles (John Wayne) to his son James (Patrick Wayne) in one of my other favourites, Big Jake.

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First impressions of…Psycho (1960)

PsychoPosterWe all know that iconic shower scene accompanied by that specific music…don’t we? And we all know which movie it comes from. Yet…until this weekend I’d never dared (yes, “dared” because I’m scared of horrors…but how bad can a 1960s movie really be? And Hitchcock? Why am I such a scaredy Cat??? (no pun intended for those who know me…ok, ok, fine, I couldn’t resist).

So, with The Janet Leigh Blogathon I decided to tackle this one. In that way, it would go from my To Watch List to my Watched List because I’d obviously need to watch it. And it is another case of …why did I wait so long?

Absolutely excellent. The opening credits, or more so, the music sets the scene (gosh, I’m doing well today 😉 ) for a brilliant Hitchcock work. And off course, the symbolic music, those screeching strings have finally made an impact…I’d learnt about how they are the perfect horror music accessory but this movie really shows their ultimate usage. One thing is for sure, I’ll never be quite comfortable in a motel shower again. Ever. I’ll probably also check behind every picture too.

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Oh, the story. I won’t go too much into it. I think you’d best discover it yourself. Let’s just say that Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) ends up at the Bates Motel one rainy night. Run by Norman Bates, the creepiest guy out such a lovely, polite man. And well, the rest I won’t give away. I never knew the story until now, so will leave you in as much suspense. Just go watch it.

Moving on to our Blogathon subject…I’d never seen Janet Leigh before (bar the shower scene stills) and was really impressed. I absolutely loved her in this Oscar and Golden Globe nominated role as Marion. Even though we are introduced to her in what is a secret tryst, somehow she is still a sympathetic character from the start. So much so that, knowing the shower scene was coming, I was hoping that, having never seen it, she’d come out of it alive. And, spoiler alert (sort of), what she does to get the story going in the first place, is therefore totally unexpected. Janet Leigh‘s depiction of her inner turmoil is absolutely convincing yet there are moments when you wonder if she’s not a little psycho herself. Yet, somehow you really feel for her. Especially once she checks into the infamous motel (oh, that’s another thing that I “knew” of this movie but really didn’t, if that makes sense…amazing how popular culture impacts us). But somewhere, at the back of my mind, the unfair thought that she ended up in this situation because she wasn’t quite innocent crept in. Would any of this have happened had she gone to the bank?

Fascinating, yet disturbing, is the explanation/reasoning behind the shower scene. The personality/ies of Norman. It somehow reminded me of the movie I’d reviewed a while back, Peacock.

JL banner - Evil 1It isn’t only Janet Leigh who makes this all come together. Hitchcock‘s amazing imagery, the music, the actors, the story, everything just works so well together to present us with the perfect movie. Absolutely worthy of a watch. Maybe even a second or third.

Love Letters to Old Hollywood has more Janet Leigh post right here.

So wonderfully horrendous…agonisingly euphoric…

Reel Infatuation 2019…you just want to cry out of pure frustration yet savour those special butterflies in your stomach. Knowing that you can never have the man…knowing that he doesn’t view you the same way…that helpless feeling knowing that he has his own life. One where you don’t feature. Arrghh….I absolutely love but hate crushes!

And the worst part…this one snuck up on me. I mean I knew him (who doesn’t?) but out of the blue, one day, the besotted-ness just hit me square on. I never saw it coming. I can’t pinpoint what triggered the wiring in my brain to go haywire…something just did. And now…I’m not managing to get over him. What are you????? 16 years old????? Crazy?????

Possibly it was because he was just another guy until that point where he realised things needed to be done and without muscling his way through, but rather even battered and bruised joins the “opposition” and makes some plans taking everyone’s input into account:

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I’m on about a man who speaks his mind. He’s confident and goes after what he wants. When others don’t dare, he does it. He ruffles the feathers and gets stuff done. Who wouldn’t crush on a man like that? He’s also clever and has a plan, even though he’ll often deny it or claim he’s not educated (raised in a brothel)…

…he’s worked his way upwards. He has a drive to better himself. He has used the resources available to him to observe, listen, train, grow, learn…and has become something better. Through pure determination, trial-and-error as well as long hard hours, the fact that he is underestimated gives him an advantage. And definitely doesn’t deter him in business dealings with the “aristocracy” who mock him. He listens. He soaks it up. And then speaks wiser than any of those with formal education.

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He is ultimately respected by his friends (and enemies) and likewise respects them. He doesn’t claim a higher status amongst them and even makes a round table so all are equal:

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But, I’m not his type. A man like that wants a fit, young and pretty woman. One who can hold her own when the going gets tough. That’s why, he might be single now (I guess he has work to do at this stage), but we all know how things go once Guinevere enters the scene. Don’t we?

But, I can dream on, can’t I?  About the things that make a man total crush material.

Oh…did I mention…I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, but in case you didn’t, my character crush is on Arthur. Not the King. But the man, who grew up not knowing his true background. That gives him so much more character for me. Makes him so much more attractive. The fact that he doesn’t use his status to get ahead.

Head over to my crush posts from previous Blogathon years: Crushing on Will Scarlett and Lucky Luciano (here), Sexy Crush…Peaky Blinders’ Tommy Shelby (here) and Unsuspecting Crush (here)

And now that I’ve disclosed my latest crush you can read about others over at Silver Screenings (here, here and here) or Font and Frock (here) (aka A Smell Press Life)

Sexy, oops, I mean, Mean Villain…

…gosh, what’s on my mind? This is the Great Villain Blogathon…right? And I’d put my name down for Prince John from Robin Hood (2010)…right? And, my mind is clearly elsewhere because I got sidetracked…right? Wrong…because…actually, the real villain here is not Prince John (Oscar Isaac)…he’s merely being, should we say, gently guided, by the sexiest nastiest man with ulterior motives. Oooh….but there’s just something about Godfrey, who just wouldn’t be the same if played by any other actor than Mark Strong.

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I’d very quickly realised that Prince John is simply a spoilt brat who wants his way. And he’s too busy having his way (not with his wife) to really pose any threat. Yes, he might have his moments, purely out of having some sort of power kick, but Godfrey, he’s there ever so subtly, or not, steering things. Weaseling his way into everything. Being English “when it suits me” French when that works better.

Godfrey has this presence from the very start. He’s clearly not phased by airs and graces, so comfortable is he around Philip of France during their (and our) first encounter. With that introduction comes…a perfect piece of music that will forever be associated with him…this one:

…it is Godfrey for me…staccato, slightly evasive, yet with an underlying hardness, energy, gradually increasing in drive, just like this man…all to gradually crescendo to a point where he eats the human blood stained oyster. The things people do. He encourages his men to plunder from the dead and doesn’t hesitate a moment to yank on the lance embedded in a dying knight. All in a day’s work it seems. And he’s so smooth when he does this.

And if his initial presence isn’t enough, somehow the scar on his cheek from Robin’s arrow simply makes him meaner in terms of personality as well as looks. Oh, and according to seasoned expert Prince John, the “ladies will love you all the more” for it. It amplifies his sexiness, oh no, did I write that again? “villain-ness” while he’s always listening, always scheming:

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Addressed as “my Lord” by both the French and the English, this man will casually instruct his men to get rid of someone or patiently wait in the sidelines for an opportunity to present itself. Strategically positioning himself during court meetings, saying just the right things, while Prince John is too busy dealing his family and greed issues. Wait…isn’t that an ever so slight (sly) smile on his face as he is about to officially serve the crown? Nicely played Godfrey, nicely played:

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“Choose carefully the spot Godfrey, where you would place your dagger”, so obvious to everyone including William Marshal (William Hurt). A man to be wary of.

Villain Banners 2019This must be one of the most heartless villains…who gives an old man news of his son, proudly telling him that “I’m the one who killed him” (left in a French ditch)??? To entice a fighting reaction from a blind man…plain mean.

Yet, at the end of the day, things must come to an end for him. And, while cowardly trying to race from the battlefield, this villain has had lots of personality. He has a certain presence that doesn’t even need his “signature” theme music. You notice him in all the scenes he’s in. He’s so bad yet somehow I feel drawn to him. He has the blatant audacity to pursue his goals. The way he holds himself. Confident, almost elegant. And while I obviously don’t support his behaviour, it is this type of character, acted perfectly by Mark Strong, that allows that “guilty pleasure” of being drawn to the bad guy. Because, that’s what movies allow us. Escapism.

For my previous entries to the Great Villain Blogathon, pop past Villain, Villain on the wall (here) and Meanest of the Mean…Ma-Ma (here). I’ve also written a piece on Mark Strong as a character actor in A Strong Character… (here)

And of course all the other entries to the Great Villain Blogathon can be found here (Shadows and Satin), here (Speakeasy) and here (Silver Screenings).

Here some impressions together with his theme song:

10 Things I Hate About You…

10_Things_I_Hate_About_You_film.jpg 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) is already (!!!wow, can’t believe it!!!) 20 years old yet it never feels that way…I still enjoy watching it as much as I did when it came out.

First things first, the plot: Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) transfers to Padua high where he is smitten on first sight with Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik). Telling his new friend Michael (David Krumholtz) that he would like nothing more to date Bianca he finds out that she isn’t allowed to date. This due to strict dad-rules which unexpectedly change: Bianca has a sister Katarina ‘Kat’ (Julia Stiles) who everyone deems scary, anti-social, ant-establishment etc. So, “knowing” that nobody would ever think of even approaching Kat, dad allows Bianca to date if Kat does. And the challenge is on! Find a guy crazy enough to date Kat so that Bianca can do so. Enter Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) the guy who has supposedly eaten a live duck, done time, donated his liver etc..

Based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, you know you’re in for a good one when a character is introduced accompanied by Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation. And that’s the refreshing part…Kat doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her and she is who she is, having “swore I wouldn’t do anything just because everyone else was doing it”. The reasons become clear during the movie but I really think this is such a valid point. As is Patrick’s comment to Cameron of “don’t let anyone ever make you feel like you don’t deserve what you want”. So there you have it…the guy who uses his flip knife in science to dissect a frog isn’t all that bad. Oh, and he even buys her a Fender guitar instead of flowers and chocolates to apologise for messing up:

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I never tire of watching this one. While it may be predictable, it is still a pleasure watching the characters fall in love. Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger have really good chemistry together and at the same time are convincing in their outward “mean and scary” demeanor yet showing their underlying true personalities in just the right quantities at the right time. But it isn’t just these two. Even Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Krumholtz, Larisa Oleynik and Andrew Keegan (who plays stud Joey Donner) gel well together with their respective characters being absolutely believable. The magnitude of teen high-school problems and dilemmas come across perfectly.

So, if you haven’t seen this one yet, go give it a go. It really is worth the watch. And, after that, you could even give the series a go. I thoroughly enjoy it too (watching episodes here and there when the mood strikes) and it is a pity that it never got past the first season.

Head on over to Pop Culture Reverie and In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood for some more entries into this It’s a Young World Teen Movie Blogathon. And finally…enjoy the week ahead.rebelbanner

 

 

Some (ever changing) Thoughts: Adore (2013)

Adore-headerI’ve just finished watching Adore (aka. Two Mothers) for the umpteenth time (trailer at the end). And, as always, my thoughts on this change. Don’t you just love movies that make you think? Make you question? Make you come to different opinions each time?

Once again…I’m pondering the thought of this mother-having-a-relationship-with-her-best-friend’s-son-and-vice-versa. Hmmm….

Oh, before I go on, best I tell you what this movie is about. We have best friends (since childhood) Roz (Robin Wright) and Lil (Naomi Watts) who now have, almost, adult sons. They too are best friends as well as neighbours living on the beautiful coast of Australia. And somehow, it comes out that each son has feelings (beyond just those “normal” of a guy to his friend’s mother) for the other’s mother. Seemingly this has been the case for a while but it is only acted upon now (so that we have a movie, of course). What results is a very strange situation. And that is where my thoughts keep changing…

…so, while I don’t judge (and please don’t judge my thoughts here) people on their preferences in relationship and the age-gap (if it works, that’s fantastic) that comes with some of them, during this viewing it has kicked in that at the beginning of these relationships the sons are barely out of their teens (18/19 years old). And their mothers well into their 40s, if not more. So, for some reason, this has now made a difference on how I feel. In fact, Roz even says what I tend to agree with…that they as mothers should allow their sons to have girlfriends. Because, let’s face it, Roz and Lil are lovers, not girlfriends, to Ian (Xavier Samuel) and Tom (James Frecheville). She might have a point: There should be that option for the guys to experience their teens and how it is to fall in love then. Teenage love is different to that one later in life. They shouldn’t be pulled into this type of toxic  relationship just yet. Yes, much later in life, then fine, let them feel free to make up their own mind. Or…is love oblivious to age? Even for teens?

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And yet again, I’m wondering…are they already men enough at this stage to decide on the relationships they want to pursue? After all, a few years later, they both meet girls their age and as much as they feel they have to follow the “norm”, things just don’t work out. What point is there if they aren’t happy?

Ultimately, I guess they all need to make up their own minds but the hard part is watching them pull down those outside of their circle of four. The hurt they cause. You’ll wonder who is to blame for it all. Was it all necessary? Ian asks “why can’t you leave things as they are?”. Even though, at some point as a viewer there’s a feeling that they should just have followed their hearts all along. Or not. Gosh, I don’t know anymore!

Let’s not even get started on the mothers…is it love? Is it lust? Or just a means of confirming that they still have what it takes to be attractive? Lil could have the attention of a man her age yet she is not interested. Granted, she turns him down (multiple times) even before the relationship with Tom starts. Next thought is if they (Tom and Lil) get things going purely because Roz and Ian do so or would they have done so eventually regardless?

This movie throws so many questions out there. Here are my thoughts from a previous post (Adore…Friendship on a different level). At the end of it all, right or wrong, I will watch this one again despite the negative reviews it received. It isn’t a feel-good movie, but it is good. And a thought-provoking one leaving you with the image below together with thoughts on what the situation is from here on out (quite different from the similar image of the poster at the start of this post, which is taken from early in the story):

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Here’s the trailer (not for sensitive viewers due to nature of some content):

“Rome! By all means, Rome…”

Roman_Holiday_poster“I will cherish my visit here in memory as long as I live”. These the words of Princess Anne (Audrey Hepburn) after her 24 hour (give or take) adventure in Rome. With a man, I might add. Unchaperoned. Tsk tsk. This is Roman Holiday (1953).

Princess Anne is on a tight schedule of appearances and events during an official visit to Rome. Having had enough of this one evening, and being lured by the wonderful music and dancing outside the residence walls, she sneaks out to do exactly what she feels like doing for a change. However, the effects of the new drug she’s been given to help her sleep and be happy only kick in once she’s well on her way in this big city. Sleeping on a bench, reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck, ahhhh….swoon, as always) comes across her, mistaking her as being drunk. Sleeping off her “hangover” in his apartment (due to circumstances) as he rushes off to work to discover the identity of this woman. And, being a reporter, also sees this as an opportunity for his big story. Hoping for exclusive, personal insight into the princess he takes her out for the day with the pretense of doing something nice for someone. And of course, they fall in love…supposedly.

RomanHolidayI say “supposedly” because I’m not really convinced with this one. They have wonderful chemistry but for me, they part more with respect and possibly friendship rather than love. Maybe you might think differently. Even the ending, to me, feels less like lovers parting. More like her having grown from the experience. Anyway, doesn’t really matter as the focus is the wonderful Audrey Hepburn. She takes on this role so wonderfully… balances that naive girl with the groomed royal so well. And we sympathise with her…she just wants to live, to be left alone, to do what she wants. To experience the everyday like the residents of Rome do (actually, the city is irrelevant). I absolutely love watching her start to relax and have some fun. Especially at the dance down by the boats…ah, that guitar part is something to behold. Ms Hepburn is definitely deserving of her Oscar (Best Actress in a Leading Role) and Golden Globe (Best Actress – Drama) wins for this role. I can’t believe that Audrey Hepburn was supposedly a newcomer…wow, now that is an actress…or should I say artist?

RomanHolidayDirected by William Wyler, it also stars one of my favourite leading men…Gregory Peck. Oh, sorry…I got distracted there…Eddie Albert also stars. Oscars were also won for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story and Best Costume Design (I absolutely love the outfits). Oscar nominations also included Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Director, Best Writing – Screenplay, Best Cinematography (Black-and-White), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Black-and-White) and Best Film Editing.

For some more posts on the wonderful Audrey Hepburn, head over to Sister Celluloid for her Audrey at 90: The Salute to Audrey Hepburn Blogathon

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In a Nutshell: Bumblebee (2018)

220px-Bumblebee_(film)_posterWell…what can I say? Pleasantly surprised? I really was. Actually, dare I say “what a nice movie”. It really was. A light-ish action movie, which, sometimes felt more like a mini-coming-of-age movie combined with mini-feel-good stuff. Don’t lambaste me…that’s honestly how I felt watching this one – that it was about Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) finding not so much Bee or BumbleBee or B-127 but herself. I love the interaction between her and this transforming robot. His facial expressions are beautiful. OK, not what I should say of a soldier and hero.

Anyway, the story is pretty much that B-127 needs to lay low on earth for a while until Optimus Prime reappears. Disguised as a yellow VW Beetle, he becomes Charlie‘s junkyard car and ultimately friend. Naturally, they save the world together.

For a light-ish action-sci-fi movie also starring John Cena amongst others, give this one a watch. It works quite well. For me, anyway. Happy watching.

Brilliant…The Last of Sheila

Last_Of_Sheila_(movie)I’d forgotten the sheer brilliance of The Last of Sheila (1973). Or rather, I think when I watched it last, as an early teen, I didn’t appreciate it. Or maybe, it was just that on the Super 8 reels my parents used to own, the sound wasn’t clear and I missed half the dialogue. Irrelevant…what’s important is now…how excellent it is. And how wonderful it is to re-watch after soooo many years…and only remembering who did it at the moment the culprit is revealed (again).

The opening scene, set by that perfect, almost stereotypical mystery music, has Sheila running from a party to be hit (and run) by an out-of-control car not a few minutes later. Fast forward a year to 6 guests, invited by Clinton (Sheila’s husband, played by James Coburn), onto his yacht for a few days of time out and with a mystery game. These 6 guests were all present at the party the night Sheila was killed. And Clinton’s game isn’t really a game…it hits all too close with those supposedly random secrets he allocates to each person (at his insistence that it is just fun). When things go wrong, as they usually do, the whole thing unravels…or, comes together.

the-last-of-sheila1973-lobby-card-3I must say, to come up with such a clever story requires close on genius. Every action, every line of dialogue is critical to the story. You won’t notice many of the things on first viewing but on round two (or more), you’ll discover just how it all fits perfectly right in front of your eyes…with you barely noticing. Ultimately you’ll have it spelt out for you and you’ll go “ah, of course” or “duh, so obvious”. Followed by Clinton’s response to “I like any game where you don’t have to move” of “Well, you don’t have to for this one…if you’re smart enough”…little do you realise just how true it is. It is all right there in front of you…if you’re smart enough.

Now, I won’t go into many more details because this is one you just have to watch. At least twice. I’d hate to spoil anything upfront because anything I say will give it away.

Directed by Oscar nominee Herbert Ross, and written by Oscar winner Stephen Sondheim and nominee Anthony Perkins…the stars are of course James Coburn with Raquel Welch, James Mason, Ian McShane, Richard Benjamin, Dyan Cannon and Joan Hackett as his 6 suspects friends…well, probably not suspects as I think he knows all along who the killer is.

Here’s the trailer:

 

Enjoy!

And for some more mysteries…head on over to Pop Culture Reverie (here) for the Mystery Mania Blogathon.

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