Film Review – THE BELARUS FILE (TV) (1985)

Image result for the belarus fileBelarus File, The (TV) (1985; USA; Colour; 95m) **½  d. Robert Markowitz; w. Albert Ruben; ph. Alan Metzger; m. Joseph Conlan, Barry De Vorzon.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Suzanne Pleshette, Max von Sydow, Herbert Berghof, Dan Frazer, Betsy Aidem, Alan Rosenberg, Charles Brown, George Savalas, David Leary, Harry Davis, Rita Karin, Mark Russell, Vince Conti. The murders of several elderly Russian men lead Kojak to a group of Nazi war criminals who are living in America with the full knowledge and approval of the U.S. Government. Savalas’ Kojak character is shoe-horned into an adaptation of John Loftus’ novel with middling results. There is no real mystery to sustain the story and the heavy-handed handling of the material flattens the intended emotional impact. On the plus side, Savalas remains charismatic, Von Sydow essays a dignified performance and there are occasional and welcome nods to the glory days of the TV series. [PG]

Film Review – KOJAK: THE SUMMER OF ’69 (TV) (1977)

Kojak: The Summer of ’69 (TV) (1977; USA; Technicolor; 96m) ***  d. Gene R. Kearney; w. Gene R. Kearney; ph. John McPherson; m. John Cacavas.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Stephen McHattie, Alex Dreier, Harrison Page, Pepe Serna, Phillip R. Allen, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson, George Savalas, Woodrow Parfrey, Thalmus Rasulala, Catlin Adams, Diane Baker. A man is released from prison, and a woman who rides with him to New York is found murdered in his abandoned car (with the MO of a dead serial killer). Interesting premise helped by strong portrayal of psychotic killer by McHattie. Flashback elements are distracting and the sub-plot involving a mob fixer is never fully realised. Good use of NYC locations add authenticity. Compiled from two-part episode from fifth season of Kojak TV series. [15]

Film Review: KOJAK: KOJAK’S DAYS (TV) (1977)

Kojak: Kojak’s Days (TV) (1977; USA; Technicolor; 96m) *** d. Charles S. Dubin; w. Chester Krumholz, Matthew Rapf; ph. Sol Negrin; m. John Cacavas; ed. Eric Albertson, Jim Benson.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Maud Adams, William Hurt, Ken Kercheval, Louise Sorel, Michael Tolan, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson, George Savalas. An unidentified corpse in a stolen Rolls-Royce is found the same morning a wife kills her husband and abandons her child, leaving a trail that could lead to her suicide. Dramatic impetus is undermined by having four separate cases for the detectives to solve. Whilst this adds authenticity it makes the viewing hard-going at times. Extensive use of NYC locations, good performances by a strong cast and Savalas’ presence are main strengths. Adams is wasted in a what amounts to little more than a cameo. Compiled from two-part episode from fourth season of Kojak TV series. [PG]

TV Review – PORRIDGE: SERIES ONE (2017)

Porridge Series 1 [2017] [DVD] [2016]Porridge: Series One (2017; UK; Colour; 6 x 30m) ***½ pr. Richard Webb; d.  Dominic Brigstocke; w. Dick Clement, Ian Le Frenais.  Cast: Kevin Bishop, Dave Hill, Mark Bonnar, Dominic Coleman, Jason Barnett, Colin Hoult, Harman Singh, Colin McFarlane, Daniel Fearn, Rory Gallagher, Ricky Grover, Harry Peacock, Pippa Haywood, Zahra Ahmadi.  Bishop stars as Nigel Norman Fletcher, the grandson of Ronnie Barker’s Norman Stanley Fletcher from the original series, who is in prison for cyber crimes. Highly enjoyable and old-fashioned comedy that benefits from original scriptwriters Clement and Le Frenais, even if they have recycled some plot lines and jokes from their original scripts. Characters have been re-tooled and the show retains the feel of the the classic series. Bishop is excellent as the wisecracking Fletcher whilst Bonar and Coleman provide affectionate tributes to Fulton MacKay and Brian Wilde. [12]

Film Review – KOJAK: A SHIELD FOR MURDER (TV) (1976)

Image result for kojak a shield for murderKojak: A Shield for Murder (TV) (1976; USA; Technicolor; 96m) ***½  d. Jeannot Szwarc; w. William P. McGivern, Robert Malcolm Young; ph. Sol Negrin; m. John Cacavas.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Geraldine Page, Charles Kimbrough, Michael Lombard, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson, George Savalas, Kenneth McMillan, Thom Christopher, Janet Ward, Frederick Coffin, Mary Beth Hurt, Lester Rawlins. A young man is killed by police after he attempts to kill an assistant district attorney at a courthouse. Kojak learns that the young man was a boyfriend of an ice skater who is in prison for the murder of her mother two years before. But when he tries to look further into the case, he gets pressured to drop it, with the orders ultimately coming from a powerful political operative. Highly effective feature-length episode in the Kojak series plays of themes of political greed, corruption and psychological torment. The performances are first-rate – notably Hurt as the tortured victim of the cover-up and Page as the orchestrator. Savalas is a commanding presence in his signature role. From the fourth season of the series. [PG]

Film Review – HALLOWEEN II (1981)

Image result for halloween iiHalloween II (1981; USA; Metrocolor; 92m) ***  d. Rick Rosenthal; w. John Carpenter, Debra Hill; ph. Dean Cundey; m. John Carpenter, Alan Howarth.  Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Charles Cyphers, Pamela Susan Shoop, Tony Moran, Lance Guest, Dick Warlock, Hunter von Leer, Leo Rossi, Gloria Gifford, Tawny Moyer, Ana Alicia, Ford Rainey, Cliff Emmich, Jeffrey Kramer. Following the events of HALLOWEEN, Michael Myers finds Laurie (Curtis) at the Haddonfield Hospital. More formulaic and bloody continuation, but makes effective use of the hospital setting. Curtis gives a physical performance requiring little dialogue, whilst Pleasence manically tries to convince others that Myers lives. Most effective moments are those that mirror set-pieces from the classy original. Followed by HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982). [18]

Film Review – KOJAK: A QUESTION OF ANSWERS (TV) (1975)

Image result for kojak season threeKojak: A Question of Answers (TV) (1975; USA; Technicolor; 97m) ***½  d. Jerry London; w. Albert Ruben; ph. Sol Negrin; m. John Cacavas.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Eli Wallach, Michael V. Gazzo, Jennifer Warren, Jerry Orbach, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson, George Savalas, Allan Rich, F. Murray Abraham. A man tries to clear his name by helping Kojak trap a loan shark. Strong feature-length entry in the series makes extensive use of New York locations adding authenticity and bite to this deft and downbeat story. Savalas and Wallach excel and are strongly supported by Warren and Orbach. Third season opener for Kojak TV series. [PG]