Film Review – THE GAUNTLET (1977)

Image result for the gauntlet 1977THE GAUNTLET (USA, 1977) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros. (USA), Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK); Production Company: Warner Bros / The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 21 December 1977 (USA), 22 December 1977 (UK); Filming Dates: 4 April – June 1977; Running Time: 109m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: 4-Track Stereo; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack; Producer: Robert Daley; Associate Producer: Fritz Manes; Director of Photography: Rexford L. Metz; Music Composer: Jerry Fielding; Film Editor: Joel Cox, Ferris Webster; Art Director: Allen E. Smith; Set Decorator: Ira Bates; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Don Schoenfeld; Sound: Bert Hallberg; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Ben Shockley), Sondra Locke (Gus Mally), Pat Hingle (Josephson), William Prince (Blakelock), Bill McKinney (Constable), Michael Cavanaugh (Feyderspiel), Carole Cook (Waitress), Mara Corday (Jail Matron), Doug McGrath (Bookie), Jeff Morris (Desk Sergeant), Samantha Doane (Biker), Roy Jenson (Biker), Dan Vadis (Biker), Carver Barnes (Bus Driver), Robert Barrett (Paramedic), Teddy Bear (Lieutenant), Mildred Brion (Old Lady on Bus), Ron Chapman (Veteran Cop), Don Circle (Bus Clerk), James W. Gavin (Helicopter Pilot), Thomas H. Friedkin (Helicopter Pilot), Darwin Lamb (Police Captain), Roger Lowe (Paramedic Driver), Fritz Manes (Helicopter Gunman), John Quiroga (Cab Driver), Josef Rainer (Rookie Cop), Art Rimdzius (Judge), Al Silvani (Police Sergeant).
      Synopsis: A hard but mediocre cop is assigned to escort a prostitute into custody from Las Vegas to Phoenix, so that she can testify in a mob trial. But a lot of people are literally betting that they won’t make it into town alive.
      Comment: Preposterous, ludicrous, but entertaining if taken in the right spirit and you are willing to condone its black humour as well as ignore the numerous plot holes. The movie must have set the record for the most gunshots on film. Eastwood and Locke make for a sparky team of misfits brought together by fate and a desire for the villains to remove them both from the scene. A long chase ensues with cartoon violent action sequences and barbed dialogue keeping things interesting. It’s hard not to smile at the absurdities or be impressed by Locke’s confident performance and Eastwood’s atypical dim-witted detective.
      Notes: The premise was reworked as the Bruce Willis vehicle 16 BLOCKS (2006).

Film Review – THE ENFORCER (1976)

Image result for the enforcer 1976THE ENFORCER (USA, 1976) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros. (USA), Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK); Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures / The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 22 December 1976 (USA), 26 December 1976 (UK); Filming Dates: 14 June — early September 1976; Running Time: 96m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono | Dolby Digital (5.1); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: James Fargo; Writer: Stirling Silliphant, Dean Riesner (based on a story by Gail Morgan Hickman & S.W. Schurr and characters created by Harry Julian Fink and Rita M. Fink); Producer: Robert Daley; Director of Photography: Charles W. Short; Music Composer: Jerry Fielding; Film Editor: Joel Cox, Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Mary Goldberg; Art Director: Allen E. Smith; Set Decorator: Ira Bates; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Joe McKinney; Sound: Bert Hallberg; Special Effects: Joseph A. Unsinn.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan), Tyne Daly (Kate Moore), Harry Guardino (Lt. Bressler), Bradford Dillman (Capt. McKay), John Mitchum (DiGeorgio), DeVeren Bookwalter (Bobby Maxwell), John Crawford (The Mayor), Samantha Doane (Wanda), Bob Hoy (Buchinski), Jocelyn Jones (Miki), M.G. Kelly (Father John), Nick Pellegrino (Martin), Albert Popwell (Mustapha), Rudy Ramos (Mendez), Bill Ackridge (Andy), Bill Jelliffe (Johnny), Joe Bellan (Freddie the Fainter), Tim O’Neill (Police Sergeant), Jan Stratton (Mrs. Grey), Will MacMillan (Lt. Dobbs), Jerry Walter (Krause), Steve Eoff (Bustanoby), Tim Burrus (Henry Lee), Michael Cavanaugh (Lalo), Dick Durock (Karl), Ron Manning (Tex), Adele Proom (Irene DiGeorgio), Glenn Leigh Marshall (Army Sergeant), Robert Behling (Autopsy Surgeon), Terence McGovern (Disc Jockey), Stan Ritchie (Bridge Operator), John Roselius (Mayor’s Driver), Brian Fong (Scoutmaster), Art Rimdzius (Porno Director), Chuck Hicks (Huey), Anne Macey (Madam), Gloria Prince (Massage Girl), Kenneth Boyd (Abdul), Bernard Glin (Koblo), Fritz Manes (Detective #1).
      Synopsis: Dirty Harry must foil a terrorist organization made up of disgruntled Vietnam veterans. But this time, he’s teamed with a rookie female partner that he’s not too excited to be working with.
      Comment: Third DIRTY HARRY film turns its slender plot into a series of violent action set-pieces. Most of the fun is derived from the interplay between Eastwood and Daly, who is excellent in her first major role as Eastwood’s female partner. The teaming gives rise for Harry to display his prejudices and some of these scenes may play uncomfortably with modern audiences (as they did with Daly at the time). Over the course of the film, the partnership warms up and reaches it’s almost inevitable conclusion during a fine shootout finale on Alcatraz. Whilst it lacks the gravitas of the original this second sequel moves at a faster clip than MAGNUM FORCE. However, the direction is uneven, injecting elements of black humour and the potential to play stronger messages about idealism and feminism are largely glossed over. The result is a diverting, but strangely stilted star vehicle.
      Notes: Preceded by DIRTY HARRY (1971) and MAGNUM FORCE (1973) and followed by SUDDEN IMPACT (1983) and THE DEAD POOL (1988).

Film Review – THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES (1976)

Image result for the outlaw josey walesTHE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES (USA, 1976) ****½
      Distributor: Warner Bros. (USA), Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK); Production Company: Warner Bros. / The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 26 June 1976 (USA), 29 August 1976 (UK); Filming Dates: 6 October – late November 1975; Running Time: 135m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Philip Kaufman, Sonia Chernus (based on the book “Gone To Texas” by Forrest Carter); Producer: Robert Daley; Associate Producer: James Fargo, John G. Wilson; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Jerry Fielding; Film Editor: Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Jack Kosslyn; Production Designer: Tambi Larsen; Set Decorator: Charles Pierce; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Joe McKinney; Sound: Bert Hallberg; Special Effects: R.A. MacDonald, A. Paul Pollard, Frank Hafeman (uncredited).
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Josey Wales), Chief Dan George (Lone Watie), Sondra Locke (Laura Lee), Bill McKinney (Terrill), John Vernon (Fletcher), Paula Trueman (Grandma Sarah), Sam Bottoms (Jamie), Geraldine Keams (Little Moonlight), Woodrow Parfrey (Carpetbagger), Joyce Jameson (Rose), Sheb Wooley (Travis Cobb), Royal Dano (Ten Spot), Matt Clark (Kelly), John Verros (Chato), Will Sampson (Ten Bears), William O’Connell (Sim Carstairs), John Quade (Comanchero Leader), Frank Schofield (Senator Lane), Buck Kartalian (Shopkeeper), Len Lesser (Abe), Doug McGrath (Lige), John Russell (Bloody Bill Anderson), Charles Tyner (Zukie Limmer), Bruce M. Fischer (Yoke), John Mitchum (Al), John Davis Chandler (First Bounty Hunter), Tom Roy Lowe (Second Bounty Hunter), Clay Tanner (First Texas Ranger), Bob Hoy (Second Texas Ranger), Madeleine Taylor Holmes (Grannie Hawkins), Erik Holland (Union Army Sergeant), Cissy Wellman (Josey’s Wife), Faye Hamblin (Grandpa), Danny Green (Lemuel).
      Synopsis: A Missouri farmer joins a Confederate guerrilla unit and winds up on the run from the Union soldiers who murdered his family.
     Comment: One of the best Westerns ever made, this often violent but epic tale works over a number of evolving themes and is also a remarkable character study. Eastwood the director allows the story sufficient room to breathe and develop and draws great performances from a strong cast. Eastwood the star fleshes out his standard persona into a characterisation that grows as the story progresses. Chief Dan George also gives a wonderful scene-stealing performance as an old Indian with an ironic sense of humour. The film is beautifully photographed by Surtees, who takes advantage of the autumnal vistas with great use of natural light. All other aspects of the production are top notch, with the authentic production design and costumes also standout aspects. Jerry Fielding’s score, nominated for the Academy Award for Original Music Score, is sparse and eschews the convention for big orchestral gestures, settling instead for sparse but subtly effectively interjections which heighten the tension in this mature and intelligent genre classic.
     Notes: Philip Kaufman started to direct the film but was replaced by Eastwood, a controversial move which prompted the DGA to institute a ban on any current cast or crew member replacing the director on a film – a rule which has ever since been titled the “Eastwood rule.” Based on the book “Gone to Texas” by Forrest Carter. Followed by THE RETURN OF JOSEY WALES (1986) without Eastwood.

Film Review – THE EIGER SANCTION (1975)

Image result for clint eastwood totem poleTHE EIGER SANCTION (USA, 1975) ***
      Distributor: Universal Pictures; Production Company: The Malpaso Company / Jennings Lang / Universal Pictures; Release Date: 21 May 1975 (USA), 21 August 1975 (UK); Filming Dates: 12 August – late September 1974; Running Time: 129m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15 – strong violence.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Hal Dresner, Warren Murphy, Rod Whitaker (based on the novel by Rod Whitaker, as Trevanian); Executive Producer: David Brown, Richard D. Zanuck; Producer: Robert Daley ; Director of Photography: Frank Stanley; Music Composer: John Williams; Film Editor: Ferris Webster; Art Director: George C. Webb, Aurelio Crugnola; Set Decorator: John M. Dwyer; Costumes: Glenn Wright, Charles Waldo; Make-up: Joe McKinney; Sound: James R. Alexander, Robert L. Hoyt; Special Effects: Ben McMahan.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Jonathan Hemlock), George Kennedy (Ben Bowman), Vonetta McGee (Jemima Brown), Jack Cassidy (Miles Mellough), Heidi Brühl (Mrs. Montaigne), Thayer David (Dragon), Reiner Schöne (Freytag), Michael Grimm (Meyer), Jean-Pierre Bernard (Montaigne), Brenda Venus (George), Gregory Walcott (Pope), Candice Rialson (Art Student), Elaine Shore (Miss Cerberus), Dan Howard (Dewayne), Jack Kosslyn (Reporter), Walter Kraus (Kruger), Frank Redmond (Wormwood), Siegfried Wallach (Hotel Manager), Susan Morgan Cooper (Buns), Jack Frey (Cab Driver).
      Synopsis: A classical art professor and collector, who doubles as a professional assassin, is coerced out of retirement to avenge the murder of an old friend.
      Comment: Saddled with a weak by-the-numbers script this spy thriller is considerably bolstered by the superb mountain climbing footage and Eastwood’s star power. Eastwood also performed his own stunt work adding a sense of authenticity and he directed the climbing sequences with considerable skill, managing to create a tense climactic ascent of the Eiger. Kennedy shines in a support role as Eastwood’s climbing buddy, as does Cassidy as a gay assassin. Great use is made of Monument Valley and Swiss locations and John Williams provides an evocative score.
      Notes: The scenes that depict Hemlock training for the Eiger climb include Monument Valley’s “Totem Pole,” a rock spire with an elevation over 5,500 feet. According to production notes, Eastwood performed the climb himself while Kennedy was lowered onto the rock’s crest by helicopter. Shortly after the scene was filmed, the Navajo Nation deemed “Totem Pole” off-limits to future climbers. Twenty-six-year-old British climber David Knowles died on the Eiger during the production.

Film Review – THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT (1974)

Image result for thunderbolt and lightfoot 1974THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT (USA, 1974) ***½
      Distributor: United Artists; Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 22 May 1974 (USA), 19 September 1974 (UK); Filming Dates: July – September 1973; Running Time: 115m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Michael Cimino; Writer: Michael Cimino; Producer: Robert Daley; Director of Photography: Frank Stanley; Music Composer: Dee Barton; Film Editor: Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Patricia Mock; Art Director: Tambi Larsen; Set Decorator: James L. Berkey; Costumes: Jules Melillo; Make-up: Joe McKinney; Sound: Bert Hallberg, Norman Webster; Special Effects: Sass Bedig.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Thunderbolt), Jeff Bridges (Lightfoot), George Kennedy (Red Leary), Geoffrey Lewis (Eddie Goody), Catherine Bach (Melody), Gary Busey (Curly), Jack Dodson (Vault Manager), Eugene Elman (Tourist), Burton Gilliam (Welder), Roy Jenson (Dunlop), Claudia Lennear (Secretary), Bill McKinney (Crazy Driver), Vic Tayback (Mario Pinski), Dub Taylor (Station Attendant), Gregory Walcott (Used Car Salesman), Erica Hagen (Waitress), Alvin Childress (Janitor), Virginia Baker (Couple at Station), Stuart Nisbet (Couple at Station), Irene K. Cooper (Cashier), Cliff Emmich (The Fat Man), June Fairchild (Gloria), Ted Foulkes (Young Boy), Leslie Oliver (Teenager), Mark Montgomery (Teenager), Karen Lamm (Girl on Motorcycle), Luanne Roberts (Suburban Housewife), Lila Teigh (Tourist).
      Synopsis: With the help of an irreverent young sidekick, a bank robber gets his old gang back together to organise a daring new heist.
      Comment: Road movie turns into heist movie in this entertaining vehicle for Eastwood and Bridges. The plot is initially slight and the pace slow as we are introduced to the two misfit loners. Once Kennedy and Bridges enter the story the character interplay becomes the main focus and the pace quickens as the quartet take to work to raise money to fund their heist. The tone swings from comedy to melodrama to violent action but is generally well-handled by Cimino on his directorial debut. Bridges delivers a superb and believably natural performance and Eastwood generously gives him centre stage. Kennedy too stands out as Eastwood’s stubbornly proud ex-partner.
      Notes: Cimino modelled this movie after one of his favourite films, CAPTAIN LIGHTFOOT (1955). Bridges was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award.

Film Review – MAGNUM FORCE (1973)

Image result for magnum force 1973MAGNUM FORCE (USA, 1973) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures (USA), Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK); Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 25 December 1973 (USA), 26 December 1973 (UK); Filming Dates: 24 April–late June 1973; Running Time: 124m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Ted Post; Writer: John Milius, Michael Cimino (based on a story by John Milius and original material by Harry Julian Fink and Rita M. Fink); Producer: Robert Daley; Director of Photography: Frank Stanley; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Nessa Hyams (uncredited); Art Director: Jack T. Collis; Set Decorator: John Lamphear; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Joe McKinney; Sound: James R. Alexander; Special Effects: Sass Bedig.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan), Hal Holbrook (Lt. Briggs), Mitchell Ryan (McCoy), David Soul (Davis), Tim Matheson (Sweet), Kip Niven (Astrachan), Robert Urich (Grimes), Felton Perry (Early Smith), Maurice Argent (Nat Weinstein), Margaret Avery (Prostitute), Richard Devon (Ricca), Tony Giorgio (Palancio), Jack Kosslyn (Walter), Bob March (Estabrook), Bob McClurg (Cab Driver), John Mitchum (DiGiorgio), Russ Moro (Ricca’s Driver), Clifford A. Pellow (Guzman), Albert Popwell (Pimp), Christine White (Carol McCoy), Adele Yoshioka (Sunny).
      Synopsis: Eastwood’s Inspector Harry Callahan is on the trail of vigilante cops who are not above going beyond the law to kill the city’s undesirables.
      Comment: Sequel to DIRTY HARRY lacks the style and efficiency of the original, suffering from a sluggish pace at times. However, the set pieces are well-handled and Eastwood commands the screen in his signature role with much to enjoy in his verbal jousts with immediate superior Holbrook. Soul also makes an impression in an early career appearance as one of a group of four rookie cops, which also include Urich, Niven and Matheson. The story would have benefited from tighter editing – alterations and additions had been made to Milius’ original script adding some filler and unnecessary scenes. Schifrin’s memorable propulsive score riffs on his similar work on the first film.
      Notes: Suzanne Somers makes an uncredited appearance as one of the victims in the pool scene early in the film. Film debut of Urich. Second of five films in the series and followed by THE ENFORCER (1976), SUDDEN IMPACT (1983) and THE DEAD POOL (1988).

Film Review – HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (1973)

Image result for high plains drifter 1973HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (USA, 1973) ***½
      Distributor: Universal Pictures (USA), Cinema International Corporation (CIC) (UK); Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 6 April 1973 (USA), 31 August 1973 (UK); Filming Dates: July-August 1972; Running Time: 105m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Ernest Tidyman; Executive Producer: Jennings Lang; Producer: Robert Daley; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Dee Barton; Film Editor: Ferris Webster; Casting Director: William Batliner, Robert J. LaSanka (both uncredited); Art Director: Henry Bumstead; Set Decorator: George Milo; Costumes: James Gilmore, Joanne Haas, Glenn Wright (all uncredited); Make-up: Joe McKinney, Gary Morris (both uncredited); Sound: James R. Alexander.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (The Stranger), Verna Bloom (Sarah Belding), Marianna Hill (Callie Travers), Mitchell Ryan (Dave Drake), Jack Ging (Morgan Allen), Stefan Gierasch (Mayor Jason Hobart), Ted Hartley (Lewis Belding), Billy Curtis (Mordecai), Geoffrey Lewis (Stacey Bridges), Scott Walker (Bill Borders), Walter Barnes (Sheriff Sam Shaw), Paul Brinegar (Lutie Naylor), Richard Bull (Asa Goodwin), Robert Donner (Preacher), John Hillerman (Bootmaker), Anthony James (Cole Carlin), William O’Connell (Barber), John Quade (Jake Ross), Jane Aull (Townswoman), Dan Vadis (Dan Carlin), Reid Cruickshanks (Gunsmith), Jim Gosa (Tommy Morris), Jack Kosslyn (Saddlemaker), Russ McCubbin (Fred Short), Belle Mitchell (Mrs. Lake), John Mitchum (Warden), Carl Pitti (Teamster), Chuck Waters (Stableman), Buddy Van Horn (Marshall Jim Duncan).
      Synopsis: A gunfighting stranger comes to the small settlement of Lago and is hired to bring the townsfolk together in an attempt to hold off three outlaws who are on their way.
      Comment: Eastwood’s second directorial effort is an interesting supernatural Western that trades on the persona he built with Sergio Leone and is filmed with the efficiency he learned from Don Siegel. The black humour was a late addition as Eastwood looked to move the story away from writer Tidyman’s initial revenge theme to something more mysterious. Eastwood assembled a good cast and technical crew. The Mono Lake location presents a remote community and adds to the mystery as does the eerie score by Dee Barton. Eastwood would rework the theme in 1985s PALE RIDER.
      Notes: Universal Pictures wanted the film to be shot on the studio lot. Instead, Eastwood had a whole town built in the desert near Mono Lake in the California Sierras. Many of the buildings were complete, so that interiors could be shot on location. One of the headstones in the graveyard bears the name Sergio Leone as a tribute. Other headstones bear the names of Don Siegel and Brian G. Hutton. Patrick McGilligan’s 2002 Eastwood biography quotes the star as saying, “I buried my directors.”

Film Review – JOE KIDD (1972)

Image result for joe kidd 1972JOE KIDD (USA, 1972) ***
      Distributor: Universal Pictures; Production Company: Universal Pictures / The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 19 July 1972 (USA), 24 September 1972 (UK); Filming Dates: November 1971; Running Time: 88m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: John Sturges; Writer: Elmore Leonard; Executive Producer: Robert Daley; Producer: Sidney Beckerman; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: Ferris Webster; Art Director: Henry Bumstead, Alexander Golitzen; Set Decorator: Charles S. Thompson; Sound: James R. Alexander, Waldon O. Watson.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Joe Kidd), Robert Duvall (Frank Harlan), John Saxon (Luis Chama), Don Stroud (Lamarr), Stella Garcia (Helen Sanchez), James Wainwright (Mingo), Paul Koslo (Roy), Gregory Walcott (Mitchell), Dick Van Patten (Hotel Manager), Lynne Marta (Elma), John Carter (Judge), Pepe Hern (Priest), Joaquín Martínez (Manolo (as Joaquin Martinez)), Ron Soble (Ramon), Pepe Callahan (Naco), Clint Ritchie (Calvin), Gil Barreto (Emilio), Ed Deemer (Bartender), Maria Val (Vita), Chuck Hayward (Eljay), Michael R. Horst (Deputy).
      Synopsis: An ex-bounty hunter reluctantly helps a wealthy landowner and his henchmen track down a Mexican revolutionary leader.
      Comment: Eastwood and Duvall add a level of class to this otherwise familiar Western. Leonard’s script is slight with little in terms of character development but is enlivened by moments of humour – including a deliciously over-the-top finale (unscripted and jokingly suggested by producer Daley) involving a train and a saloon. Outdoor sequences are beautifully shot by Surtees near June Lake, east of the Yosemite National Park. Old Tuscon was used for the town scenes.
      Notes: Elmore Leonard’s script, originally called “The Sinola Courthouse Raid”, was inspired by Reies Tijerina, an ardent supporter of Robert F. Kennedy, who stormed a courthouse in Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico in June 1967, taking hostages and demanding that the Hispanic people have their ancestral lands returned to them.

Film Review – THEY LIVE (1988)

Image result for they live 1988THEY LIVE (USA, 1988) ***
     Distributor: Universal Pictures (USA), Guild Film Distribution (UK); Production Company: Alive Films / Larry Franco Productions; Release Date: 4 November 1988 (USA), 23 June 1989 (UK); Filming Dates: March – April 1988; Running Time: 94m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo (4 channels); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 18 – strong violence, language.
     Director: John Carpenter; Writer: John Carpenter (as Frank Armitage) (based on the short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” by Ray Nelson); Executive Producer: Andre Blay, Shep Gordon; Producer: Larry Franco; Associate Producer: Sandy King; Director of Photography: Gary B. Kibbe; Music Composer: Alan Howarth, John Carpenter; Film Editor: Gib Jaffe, Frank E. Jimenez; Art Director: William J. Durrell Jr., Daniel A. Lomino; Set Decorator: Marvin March; Costumes: Robin Michel Bush; Make-up: Francisco X. Pérez; Sound: Jeffrey L. Sandler; Special Effects: Roy Arbogast.
     Cast: Roddy Piper (Nada), Keith David (Frank), Meg Foster (Holly), George ‘Buck’ Flower (Drifter), Peter Jason (Gilbert), Raymond St. Jacques (Street Preacher), Jason Robards III (Family Man), John Lawrence (Bearded Man), Susan Barnes (Brown Haired Woman), Sy Richardson (Black Revolutionary), Wendy Brainard (Family Man’s Daughter), Lucille Meredith (Female Interviewer), Susan Blanchard (Ingenue), Norman Alden (Foreman), Dana Bratton (Black Junkie), John F. Goff (Well Dressed Customer), Norm Wilson (Vendor), Thelma Lee (Rich Lady), Stratton Leopold (Depressed Human), Rezza Shan (Arab Clerk), Norman Howell (Blonde Haired Cop), Larry Franco (Neighbor), Tom Searle (Biker), Robert Grasmere (Scruffy Blonde Man), Vince Inneo (Passageway Guard), Bob Hudson (Passageway Guard #2), Jon Paul Jones (Manager), Dennis Cosmo Michael (Male News Anchor), Nancy Gee (Female News Anchor), Claudia Stanlee (Young Female Executive), Christine Anne Baur (Woman on Phone), Eileen Wesson (Pregnant Secretary), Gregory J. Barnett (Security Guard #1), Jimmy Nickerson (Security Guard #2), Kerry Rossall (2nd Unit Guard), Cibby Danyla (Naked Lady), Jeff Imada (Male Ghoul), Michelle Costello (Female Ghoul).
     Synopsis: A drifter discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to wake up to the fact that aliens have taken over the Earth.
     Comment: John Carpenter’s take on INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS taps into the cold war paranoia of the day of a US government led by Ronald Reagan. References to mass manipulation are woven into its action-packed narrative. Ex-wrestler Piper is cast in the lead role and whilst his acting is adequate at best, his physical attributes help the film’s many fight sequences. David, impressive in THE THING, co-stars as his sidekick. After a promising start, the film descends into a familiar violent shoot-em-up scenario. Moments of tongue-in-cheek humour help us to not take it too seriously.
     Notes: Because the screenplay was the product of so many sources—a short story, a comic book, and input from cast and crew—Carpenter decided to use the pseudonym “Frank Armitage”, an allusion to one of the filmmaker’s favorite writers, H. P. Lovecraft (Henry Armitage is a character in Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror)

Film Review – THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951)

Image result for the thing from another worldTHE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (USA, 1951) ****½
      Distributor: RKO Radio Pictures (USA), General Film Distributors (GFD) (UK); Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures / Winchester Pictures Corporation; Release Date: 6 April 1951 (USA), 1 August 1952 (UK); Filming Dates: 25 October 1950 – 3 March 1951; Running Time: 87m; Colour: B&W; Sound Mix: Mono (RCA Sound System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1; BBFC Cert: PG – contains mild threat.
      Director: Christian Nyby; Writer: Charles Lederer (based on the story “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell Jr. (as Don A. Stuart)); Producer: Howard Hawks; Associate Producer: Edward Lasker; Director of Photography: Russell Harlan; Music Composer: Dimitri Tiomkin; Film Editor: Roland Gross; Art Director: Albert S. D’Agostino, John Hughes; Set Decorator: Darrell Silvera, William Stevens; Costumes: Michael Woulfe; Make-up: Lee Greenway; Sound: Phil Brigandi, Clem Portman; Special Effects: Donald Steward; Visual Effects: Linwood G. Dunn.
      Cast: Margaret Sheridan (Nikki Nicholson), Kenneth Tobey (Capt. Patrick Hendry), Robert Cornthwaite (Dr. Arthur Carrington), Douglas Spencer (Ned Scott), James Young (Lt. Eddie Dykes), Dewey Martin (Crew Chief Bob), Robert Nichols (Lt. Ken Erickson), William Self (Cpl. Barnes), Eduard Franz (Dr. Stern), Sally Creighton (Mrs. Chapman), James Arness (‘The Thing’). Uncredited: Edmund Breon (Dr. Ambrose), Nicholas Byron (Tex Richards), John Dierkes (Dr. Chapman), George Fenneman (Dr. Redding), Lee Tung Foo (Lee – a Cook), Paul Frees (Dr. Vorhees), Everett Glass (Dr. Wilson), ‘King Kong’ Kashey (Eskimo), David McMahon (Brig. Gen. Fogarty), Bill Neff (Bill Stone), Walter Ng (Second Cook), Charles Opunui (Eskimo), Norbert Schiller (Dr. Laurence), Robert Stevenson (Capt. Smith – Fogarty’s Aide), Riley Sunrise (Eskimo).
      Synopsis: Scientists and American Air Force officials fend off a blood-thirsty alien organism while at a remote arctic outpost.
      Comment: Although it plays loose with the source material this is a tense, tightly scripted and well-acted sci-fi that bears all the hallmarks of producer Hawks despite being credited as directed by his long-time editor Nyby. Hawks’ trademarks of overlapping dialogue and a strong female character (Sheridan) always ahead of her male suitor (Tobey) are immediately evident. The movie was to become a major influence on the sci-fi horror genre. Arness, in heavy make-up, is “The Thing” and Spencer’s warning to the world “Watch the skies” captures the political paranoia of the period.
      Notes: Re-issue version runs 81m. A remake, following the source material more closely, was released in 1982, which itself generated a prequel in 2011. The complete title of the viewed print was The Thing from Another World . In the opening credits, the words “The Thing” appear first in exaggerated, flaming type, followed by the words “from another world” in smaller, plain type. The picture was copyrighted in early Apr 1951 under the title The Thing . According to publicity materials contained in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library, producer Howard Hawks added the words “from another world” to avoid confusion with a novelty song entitled “The Thing,” which was a hit single at the time of the picture’s release. Margaret Sheridan, a former fashion model, made her screen debut in the picture.