Film Review – THE FOUR MUSKETEERS (THE REVENGE OF MILADY) (1974)

Image result for the four musketeers swordfightTHE FOUR MUSKETEERS (THE REVENGE OF MILADY) (Spain/Panama/USA/UK, 1974) ****½
     Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox (USA), Fox-Rank (UK); Production Company: Alexander, Michael and Ilya Salkind Productions / Film Trust S.A. / Este Films; Release Date: 26 February 1975 (USA), 25 March 1975 (UK); Filming Dates: May-September 1973; Running Time: 108m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35 mm (Eastman 100T 5254); Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
     Director: Richard Lester; Writer: George MacDonald Fraser (based on the novel “The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas); Executive Producer: Ilya Salkind, Alexander Salkind (uncredited); Producer:  Ilya Salkind, Michael Salkind (both uncredited); Associate Producer: Wolfdieter von Stein; Director of Photography: David Watkin; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: John Victor-Smith; Production Designer: Brian Eatwell; Art Director: Leslie Dilley, Fernando González; Costumes: Yvonne Blake; Make-up: José Antonio Sánchez, Cristóbal Criado, Charlene Roberson; Sound: Don Challis, Don Sharpe; Special Effects: Pablo Pérez; Visual Effects: Doug Ferris (uncredited).
     Cast: Oliver Reed (Athos), Raquel Welch (Constance de Bonancieux), Richard Chamberlain (Aramis), Michael York (D’Artagnan), Frank Finlay (Porthos), Christopher Lee (Rochefort), Geraldine Chaplin (Queen Anne of Austria), Jean-Pierre Cassel (Louis XIII), Roy Kinnear (Planchet), Michael Gothard (Felton), Nicole Calfan (Maid Kitty), Ángel del Pozo (Jussac), Eduardo Fajardo (Captain), Simon Ward (Duke of Buckingham), Faye Dunaway (Milady), Charlton Heston (Cardinal Richelieu), Sybil Danning (Eugenie), Gitty Djamal (Beatrice), Jack Watson (Busigny), Bob Todd (Firing Squad Officer), Tom Buchanan (Firing Squad Sergeant), Leon Greene (Swiss Officer), Lucy Tiller (Mother Superior), Norman Chappell (Submarine Inventor), Richard Adams (Tortured Thug), Tyrone Cassidy (English Officer).
     Synopsis: D’Artagnan has become a Musketeer. Protestants hold La Rochelle, and the Queen loves Buckingham, who’ll soon send ships to support the rebels. Richelieu enlists Rochefort to kidnap Constance, the Queen’s go-between and D’Artagnan’s love. The Cardinal uses the wily, amoral Milady de Winter to distract D’Artagnan. But soon, she is D’Artagnan’s sworn enemy, and she has an unfortunate history with Athos as well.
     Comment: Shot at the same time as THE THREE MUSKETEERS (THE QUEEN’S DIAMONDS) – originally it was intended to be one long film with an intermission – this segment covers the second half of Dumas’ novel. As such the tone is slightly darker although the spirit of the first half still permeates via some swashbuckling set pieces, battle scenes and nifty pieces of comedy. The stakes have been raised as Dunaway’s Milady seeks revenge on York’s D’Artagnan and Welch’s Constance after they foiled her attempts to discredit Chaplin’s Queen Anne. Once again the sumptuous production and costume design are wonderfully captured by Watkin’s radiant cinematography and enhanced by Schifrin’s boisterous score. Reed and Dunaway come to the fore and their scenes together add significant depth to the drama. The finale as the Musketeers fight Lee’s Rochefort and the Cardinal’s guards contains some of the best sword fighting in screen history.
     Notes: Followed by THE RETURN OF THE MUSKETEERS (1989).

Film Review – THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1973)

Related imageTHE THREE MUSKETEERS (THE QUEEN’S DIAMONDS) (Spain/USA/Panama/UK, 1973) ****½
     Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Production Company: Alexander, Michael and Ilya Salkind Productions  / Film Trust S.A. / Este Films; Release Date: 25 March 1974 (UK), 28 March 1974 (USA); Filming Dates: May-September 1973; Running Time: 105m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm (Eastman 100T 5254); Film Process: Panavision, Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: U – Contains mild violence and innuendo.
     Director: Richard Lester; Writer: George MacDonald Fraser (based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas); Executive Producer: Ilya Salkind, Alexander Salkind (uncredited), Michael Salkind (uncredited), Pierre Spengler; Producer: Ilya Salkind; Associate Producer: Wolfdieter von Stein; Director of Photography: David Watkin; Music Composer: Michel Legrand; Music Supervisor: ; Film Editor: John Victor-Smith; Casting Director: Miriam Brickman (uncredited); Production Designer: Brian Eatwell; Art Director: Leslie Dilley, Fernando González; Costumes: Yvonne Blake; Make-up: José Antonio Sánchez, Cristóbal Criado, Charlene Roberson; Sound: Don Challis, Don Sharpe; Special Effects: Pablo Pérez; Visual Effects: .
     Cast: Oliver Reed (Athos), Raquel Welch (Constance de Bonacieux), Richard Chamberlain (Aramis), Michael York (D’Artagnan), Frank Finlay (Porthos / O’Reilly), Christopher Lee (Rochefort), Geraldine Chaplin (Queen Anna), Jean-Pierre Cassel (King Louis XIII), Spike Milligan (M. Bonacieux), Roy Kinnear (Planchet), Georges Wilson (Treville), Simon Ward (Duke of Buckingham), Faye Dunaway (Milady), Charlton Heston (Cardinal Richelieu), Joss Ackland (D’Artagnan’s Father), Nicole Calfan (Kitty), Michael Gothard (Felton), Sybil Danning (Eugenie), Gitty Djamal (Beatrice), Ángel del Pozo (Jussac), Rodney Bewes (Spy), Ben Aris (1st Musketeer), William Hobbs (Assassin), Gretchen Franklin (D’Artagnan’s Mother), Francis De Wolff (Sea Captain).
     Synopsis: The young D’Artagnan (York) arrives in Paris with dreams of becoming a King’s Musketeer. He meets and quarrels with three men, Athos (Reed), Porthos (Finlay), and Aramis (Chamberlain), each of whom challenges him to a duel. D’Artagnan finds out they are Musketeers and is invited to join them in their efforts to oppose Cardinal Richelieu (Heston), who wishes to increase his already considerable power over King Louis XIII (Cassel). D’Artagnan must also juggle affairs with the charming Constance Bonacieux (Welch) and the passionate Lady De Winter (Dunaway), a secret agent for the Cardinal.
     Comment: A joie-de-vivre permeates every frame of Lester’s definitive adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ classic adventure novel. This represents the first half of the story with the second following a year later. The result is a supremely entertaining swashbuckler filled with great sword fights, delicious humour, authentic production design and costumes. The whole cast enter into the spirit of the production with note-perfect performances, whilst Lester’s spirited direction and Watkin’s sumptuous cinematography make for a visual delight. York, Reed, Chamberlain and Finally are well cast as the Musketeers whilst Welch demonstrates a gift for comedy as York’s love interest. Heston is obviously enjoying himself as the scheming Cardinal Richelieu and Dunaway shows promise of what she would go on to deliver in the follow-up.
     Notes: Lester shot the film in conjunction with its sequel, THE FOUR MUSKETEERS (1974). Originally intended as a single film, the split prompted a lawsuit from the cast demanding payment for both films.

Film Review – SHAFT (2019)

Image result for shaft 2019SHAFT (USA, 2019)
      Distributor: New Line Cinema / Warner Bros. (USA), Netflix (UK); Production Company: Davis Entertainment / Khalabo Ink Society / Netflix / New Line Cinema / Warner Bros.; Release Date: 14 June 2019 (USA), 28 June 2019 (UK); Filming Dates: December 2017 – February 2018; Running Time: 111m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital; Film Format: D-Cinema; Film Process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Hawk Scope (anamorphic) (source format); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Tim Story; Writer: Kenya Barris, Alex Barnow (based on the character created by Ernest Tidyman); Executive Producer: Kenya Barris, Richard Brener, Marc S. Fischer, Josh Mack, Ira Napoliello, Tim Story; Producer: John Davis; Director of Photography: Larry Blanford; Music Composer: Christopher Lennertz; Music Supervisor: Trygge Toven; Film Editor: Peter S. Elliot; Casting Director: Tara Feldstein; Art Director: Jeremy Woolsey, Brittany Hites; Set Decorator: Missy Parker; Costumes: Olivia Miles; Make-up: Kimberly Jones; Sound: Sean McCormack; Special Effects: Russell Tyrrell; Visual Effects: Nicole Rowley.
      Cast: Samuel L. Jackson (John Shaft), Jessie T. Usher (JJ Shaft), Richard Roundtree (John Shaft, Sr), Regina Hall (Maya Babanikos), Alexandra Shipp (Sasha Arias), Matt Lauria (Major Gary Cutworth), Titus Welliver (Special Agent Vietti), Method Man (Freddy P), Isaach De Bankolé (Pierro ‘Gordito’ Carrera), Avan Jogia (Karim Hassan), Luna Lauren Velez (Bennie Rodriguez), Robbie Jones (Sergeant Keith Williams), Aaron Dominguez (Staff Sergeant Eddie Dominguez), Ian Casselberry (Manuel Orozco), Almeera Jiwa (Anam), Amato D’Apolito (Farik Bahar), Leland L. Jones (Ron), Jalyn Hall (Harlem Kid), Sylvia Jefferies (Once Beautiful Woman), Whit Coleman (Butch Lesbian Girl), Chivonne Michelle (Baby), Tashiana Washington (Sugar), Philip Fornah (Jacked Dude), Laticia Rolle (Cocktail Waitress), Ryan King Scales (Male Secretary), Tywayne Wheatt (Portly Doorman), Kenny Barr (Cop), Mike Dunston (News Anchor), Jordan Preston Carter (5-8 Year Old JJ), Nyah Marie Johnson (5-8 Year Old Sasha), Joey Mekyten (5-8 Year Old Karim), Sawyer Schultz (Mike Mitchell), Esmeree Sterling (Cute Bartender), Jose Miguel Vasquez (FBI Employee), Gabriel ‘G-Rod’ Rodriguez (Goon), Keith Brooks (Drunk Disorderly Man), DominiQue MrsGiJane Williams (Beautiful Woman), Michael Shikany (Older Man in Mosque), Lucia Scarano (Lady in Line), Greta Quispe (Employee), Heather Seiffert (Hostess), Charles Green (Hallway Man), Dorothi Fox (Old Lady Neighbor), Shakur Sozahdah (Worshiper).
      Synopsis: John Shaft Jr., a cybersecurity expert with a degree from MIT, enlists his family’s help to uncover the truth behind his best friend’s untimely death.
      Comment: Misguided continuation of the Shaft legacy is one misstep after another. Firstly Story re-tools the franchise as an action comedy that attempts to wring laughs from the generation gap separating Jackson’s John Shaft II from his son JJ, played far too broadly by Usher. Jackson’s Shaft also suffers by being made into a caricature of the character he portrayed in the 2000 series continuation. Jackson does what he tends to do best but even he gives a one-note performance that lacks nuance. The plot thread that brings the two Shafts together is given scant focus by an incredibly lazy script by Barris and Barnow.  The plot is frequently abandoned to demonstrate time after time the un-PC Jackson vs the PC Usher through a series of increasingly tiresome jokes and one-liners. Roundtree, as the original John Shaft, appears late in the proceedings and delivers the best performance with a dry understated delivery that has more class than is seen in his character namesakes. Lennertz’s score is insipid, lacking the grooves of Isaac Hayes’ 1971 music, and fails to add anything to the franchise whilst it is constantly interspersed with rap numbers that only serve to give you a headache. Even the use of Hayes’ theme is mishandled removing all elements of cool. To say I was disappointed in this destruction of Ernest Tidyman’s legacy is an understatement. My advice to Shaft fans is to stick to the originals, or better still the books. If there is any future for the franchise on screen it would be better served making reference to David F Walker’s recent comic books series prequel and rebooting the series set in period as a serious crime thriller.
      Notes: Most of the movie was shot in Atlanta, doubling for New York.

Film Review – CLIFFHANGER (1993)

Image result for cliffhanger 1993CLIFFHANGER (Italy/France/USA, 1993) ***½
      Distributor: Guild Film Distribution; Production Company: Carolco Pictures / Canal+ / Pioneer / RCS Video / Cliffhanger Productions; Release Date: 26 May 1993 (USA), 25 June 1993 (UK); Filming Dates: 11 April 1992 – 19 August 1992; Running Time: 113m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) | Dolby Digital (35 mm prints) (Europe) | Dolby SR (35 mm prints) (USA); Film Format: 35 mm, 70 mm (blow-up); Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Renny Harlin; Writer: Michael France, Sylvester Stallone (based on a story by Michael France from a premise by John Long); Executive Producer: Mario Kassar; Producer: Renny Harlin, Alan Marshall; Associate Producer: Jim Davidson, Tony Munafo; Director of Photography: Alex Thomson; Music Composer: Trevor Jones; Film Editor: Frank J. Urioste; Casting Director: Mindy Marin; Production Designer: John Vallone; Art Director: Maria-Teresa Barbasso, Aurelio Crugnola, Christiaan Wagener; Set Decorator: Robert Gould, Cynthia Sleiter; Costumes: Ellen Mirojnick; Make-up: Jeff Dawn; Sound: Scott Martin Gershin, Wylie Stateman, Gregg Baxter; Special Effects: R. Bruce Steinheimer; Visual Effects: John Bruno, Neil Krepela, Jay Riddle.
      Cast: Sylvester Stallone (Gabe Walker), John Lithgow (Qualen), Michael Rooker (Hal Tucker), Janine Turner (Jessie Deighan), Rex Linn (Richard Travers), Caroline Goodall (Kristel), Leon (Kynette), Craig Fairbrass (Delmar), Gregory Scott Cummins (Ryan), Denis Forest (Heldon), Michelle Joyner (Sarah), Max Perlich (Evan), Paul Winfield (Walter Wright), Ralph Waite (Frank), Trey Brownell (Brett), Zach Grenier (Davis), Vyto Ruginis (Matheson), Don S. Davis (Stuart), Scott Hoxby (Agent Hayes), John Finn (Agent Michaels), Bruce McGill (Treasury Agent), Rosemary Dunsmore (Treasury Secretary), Kim Robillard (Treasury Jet Pilot), Jeff McCarthy (Pilot), Mike Weis (Mike – Co-Pilot), Duncan Prentice (Treasury Helicopter Pilot), Kevin Donald (Ray), Jeff Blynn (Marvin), Thor (Thor).
      Synopsis: A botched mid-air heist results in suitcases full of cash being searched for by various groups throughout the Rocky Mountains.
      Comment: Highly enjoyable and exciting, if wildly overblown and often preposterous. Stallone is at his macho best as the lead mountain rescue climber with a chip on his shoulder and the group dynamics give you heroic characters to root for. Lithgow is deliciously over-the-top as the chief villain. Harlin directs with a great feel for action scenes and with flair and pace. Wonderful scenic photography and incredible stunt work. The memorable opening sequence is a real humdinger and superbly edited.
      Notes: Set in Colorado, but filmed in the Cortina d’Ampezzo-Dolomites mountains, because of their spectacular similarities to the Colorado Rockies. Dedicated to Wolfgang Gullich, Sylvester Stallone’s double in the film, who was killed in a car accident shortly after filming had finished.

Film Review – THE ROOKIE (1990)

Related imageTHE ROOKIE (USA, 1990) **
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Warner Bros. / Malpaso Productions / Kazanjian-Siebert Productions / Lighthouse Entertainment; Release Date: 6 December 1990 (USA), 18 January 1991 (UK); Filming Dates: 16 April 1990 – 13 July 1990; Running Time: 120m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) | Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints) (4 channels); Film Format: 35 mm (Eastman 5384), 70 mm (blow-up) (Eastman 5384); Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Boaz Yakin, Scott Spiegel; Producer: Howard G. Kazanjian, Steven Siebert, David Valdes; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Judy Cammer, Ken Kaufman; Art Director: Ed Verreaux; Set Decorator: Daniel Loren May; Costumes: Glenn Wright, Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Ralph Gulko, Michael Hancock; Sound: Robert G. Henderson, Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: John Frazier; Visual Effects: Ken Kaufman.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Nick Pulovski), Charlie Sheen (David Ackerman), Raul Julia (Strom), Sônia Braga (Liesl), Tom Skerritt (Eugene Ackerman), Lara Flynn Boyle (Sarah), Pepe Serna (Lt. Raymond Garcia), Marco Rodríguez (Loco Martinez), Pete Randall (Cruz), Donna Mitchell (Laura Ackerman), Xander Berkeley (Ken Blackwell), Tony Plana (Morales), David Sherrill (Max), Hal Williams (Powell), Lloyd Nelson (Freeway Motorist), Pat DuVal (Interrogator #1), Mara Corday (Interrogator #2), Jerry Schumacher (Interrogator #3), Matt McKenzie (Wang), Joel Polis (Lance), Rodger LaRue (Maitre’D), Robert Dubac (Waiter), Anthony Charnota (Romano), Jordan Lund (Bartender), Paul Ben-Victor (Little Felix), Jeanne Mori (Connie Ling), Anthony Alexander (Alphonse), Paul Butler (Captain Hargate), Seth Allen (David as a Child), Coleby Lombardo (David’s Brother), Roberta Vasquez (Heather Torres), Joe Farago (Anchorman), Robert Harvey (Whalen), Nick Ballo (Vito), Jay Boryea (Sal), Marylou Kenworthy (Receptionist), George Orrison (Detective Orrison).
      Synopsis: A veteran detective gets stuck with a rookie cop when in pursuit of a German crook.
      Comment: Loud, violent, bubble-gum action thriller vehicle for Eastwood and Sheen. It spends all its money on its elaborate and destructive set-pieces, which by their very outlandish nature are wasted on a script that starts out okay then gets progressively dumber. Eastwood and Sheen occasionally spark off each other well, but as a whole, the cast is a collection of cardboard characters and the action is too nasty to be considered fun.
      Notes: The film featured over twice as many stuntmen as it did actors. Held the world record for the biggest ratio of stuntmen/actors. Reportedly, over eighty stuntmen worked on the movie.

Film Review – PINK CADILLAC (1989)

PINK CADILLAC (USA, 1989) **½
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Malpaso Productions / Warner Bros. Pictures; Release Date: 26 May 1989 (USA), November 1989 (UK); Filming Dates: 3 October 1988; Running Time: 122m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Buddy Van Horn; Writer: John Eskow; Executive Producer: Michael Gruskoff; Producer: David Valdes; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Steve Dorff; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Edward C. Carfagno; Set Decorator: Thomas L. Roysden; Costumes: Glenn Wright, Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Michael Hancock; Sound: Robert G. Henderson, Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: Calvin Joe Acord, John Frazier, Harold Selig.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Tommy Nowak), Bernadette Peters (Lou Ann McGuinn), Timothy Carhart (Roy McGuinn), Tiffany Gail Robinson (McGuinn Baby), Angela Louise Robinson (McGuinn Baby), John Dennis Johnston (Waycross), Michael Des Barres (Alex), Jimmie F. Skaggs (Billy Dunston), Bill Moseley (Darrell), Michael Champion (Ken Lee), William Hickey (Mr. Barton), Geoffrey Lewis (Ricky Z), Gary Howard Klar (Randy Bates), Dirk Blocker (Policeman #1), Leonard R. Garner Jr. (Policeman #2), Robert L. Feist (Rodeo Announcer), Gary Leffew (John Capshaw), Robert Harvey (Skip Tracer in Diner), Gerry Bamman (Buddy), Julie Hoopman (Waitress), Travis Swords (Capshaw’s Attorney), Paul Benjamin (Judge), Randy Kirby (District Attorney), Linda Hoy (Lou Ann’s Attorney), Cliff Bemis (Jeff), Frances Fisher (Dinah), Bryan Adams (Gas Station Attendant), Sue Ann Gilfillan (Saleslady), John Fleck (Lounge Lizard), Bill Wattenburg (Pit Boss), Mara Corday (Stick Lady), Jim Carrey (Lounge Entertainer), Erik C. Westby (Room Service Waiter), Richie Allan (Derelict), Roy Conrad (Barker), Wayne Storm (Jack Bass), James Cromwell (Motel Desk Clerk), Sven-Ole Thorsen (Birthright Thug), Bill McKinney (Coltersville Bartender).
      Synopsis: Bounty hunter Tommy Nowak (Eastwood) is on the trail of Lou Ann McGuinn (Peters), a bail jumper last seen burning rubber in her husband’s pink Cadillac.
      Comment: Uneasy mix of violent action and comedy marks a change of pace for Eastwood who gives a broad performance as a bail-skip tracer who adopts a series of disguises to trap his targets. That is the only real note of interest in an otherwise familiar and not overly engaging story populated with caricatures and a simple plot that is drawn out over two hours of screen time. Peters, however, is good as Eastwood’s latest target in whose story he becomes embroiled. This is definitely a minor-league Eastwood vehicle and was a flop at the box office.

Film Review – THE DEAD POOL (1988)

Image result for the dead pool 1988THE DEAD POOL (USA, 1988) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures / Malpaso Productions; Release Date: 13 July 1988 (USA), 14 April 1989 (UK); Filming Dates: 17 February – March 1988; Running Time: 91m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo (4 channels) | Dolby Digital (5.1); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Buddy Van Horn; Writer: Steve Sharon (based on a story by Steve Sharon, Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw and characters created by Harry Julian Fink and Rita M. Fink); Producer: David Valdes; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: Ron Spang; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Edward C. Carfagno; Set Decorator: Thomas L. Roysden; Costumes: Glenn Wright, Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Monty Westmore; Sound: Richard S. Church; Special Effects: Joe Day, Bob Finley III, Chuck Gaspar, Thomas Mertz, Bruce Robles.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan), Patricia Clarkson (Samantha Walker), Liam Neeson (Peter Swan), Evan C. Kim (Al Quan), David Hunt (Harlan Rook), Michael Currie (Captain Donnelly), Michael Goodwin (Lt. Ackerman), Darwin Gillett (Patrick Snow), Anthony Charnota (Lou Janero), Christopher P. Beale (D.A. Thomas McSherry), John Vick (Lt. Ruskowski), Jeff Richmond (Freeway Reporter #1), Patrick N. Van Horn (Freeway Reporter #2), Sigrid Wurschmidt (Freeway Reporter #3), Jim Carrey (Johnny Squares), Deborah A. Bryan (Girl in Rock Video), Nicholas Love (Jeff Howser), Maureen McVerry (Vicky Owens), John X. Heart (Samantha’s Cameraman), Victoria Bastel (Suzanne Dayton), Kathleen Turco-Lyon (Officer at Trailer), Michael Faqir (Sergeant at Trailer), Ronnie Claire Edwards (Molly Fisher), Wallace Choy (Chinese Store Manager), Melodie Soe (Chinese Restaurant Hostess), Kristopher Logan (Gunman #1), Scott Vance (Gunman #2), Glenn Wright (Detective Hindmark), Stu Klitsner (Minister), Karen Kahn (T.V. Associate Producer), Shawn Elliott (Chester Docksteder), Ren Reynolds (Perry), Ed Hodson (Paramedic at Elevator), Edward Hocking (Warden Hocking), Diego Chairs (Butcher Hicks), Patrick Valentino (Pirate Captain), Calvin Jones (Pirate Tug Reporter #1), Melissa Martin (Pirate Tug Reporter #2), Phil Dacey (Detective Dacey), Louis Giambalvo (Gus Wheeler), Peter Anthony Jacobs (Sgt. Holloway), Bill Wattenburg (Nolan Kennard), Hugh McCann (Young Man on Talkshow), Suzanne Sterling (Young Woman on Talkshow), Lloyd Nelson (Sgt. Waldman), Charles Martinet (Police Station Reporter #1), Taylor Gilbert (Police Station Reporter #2), George Orrison (Embarcadero Bodyguard #1), Marc Alaimo (Embarcadero Bodyguard #2), Justin Whalin (Jason), Kris LeFan (Carl), Katie Bruce (Girl on Sidewalk), Harry Demopoulos (Doctor in Hospital Room), John Frederick Jones (Dr. Friedman), Martin Ganapoler (Reporter at Pier).
      Synopsis: Dirty Harry Callahan must stop a sick secret contest to murder local celebrities, which includes himself as a target.
      Comment: Fifth and final DIRTY HARRY movie is an outlandish but watchable thriller coasting on Eastwood’s star presence. The plot is far-fetched, including a great set-piece with a toy car carrying a bomb. Clarkson is a reporter out to get the story who falls in with Eastwood.  Carrey grabs attention as a junkie rock star, whilst Neeson is seen in an early role as a self-obsessed film director. It all adds up to a comic book action thriller, but a diverting time for undemanding viewers.
      Notes: Song: “Welcome to the Jungle,” written by Slash, W. Axl Rose, Steven Adler, Izzy Stradlin and Duff Rose McKageh, performed by Guns N’ Roses, courtesy of Geffen Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products.

Film Review – HEARTBREAK RIDGE (1986)

Image result for heartbreak ridge 1986HEARTBREAK RIDGE (USA, 1986) ***½
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: The Malpaso Company/ Jay Weston Productions; Release Date: 5 December 1986 (USA), 9 January 1987 (UK); Filming Dates: 4 June 1986 – 25 July 1986; Running Time: 130m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo; Film Format: 35 mm (Eastman 5384); Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: James Carabatsos; Executive Producer: Fritz Manes; Producer: Clint Eastwood; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Edward C. Carfagno; Set Decorator: Robert R. Benton; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: E. Thomas Case; Sound: Bill Nelson; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Gunnery Sergent Thomas Highway), Marsha Mason (Aggie), Everett McGill (Major Malcolm Powers), Moses Gunn (Staff Sgt. Webster), Eileen Heckart (Little Mary), Bo Svenson (Roy Jennings), Boyd Gaines (Lieutenant Ring), Mario Van Peebles (Corporal Stitch Jones), Arlen Dean Snyder (Sergeant Major Choozoo), Vincent Irizarry (Fragetti), Ramón Franco (Aponte (as Ramon), Tom Villard (Profile), Mike Gomez (Quinones), Rodney Hill (Collins), Peter Koch (‘Swede’ Johanson), Richard Venture (Colonel Meyers), Peter Jason (Major Devin), J.C. Quinn (Quartermaster Sgt.), Begonya Plaza (Mrs. Aponte), John Eames (Judge Zane), Thom Sharp (Emcee), John Gallagher (Emcee), John Hostetter (Reese), Holly Shelton-Foy (Sarita Dwayne), Nicholas Worth (Jail Binger), Timothy Fall (Kid in Jail), Jon Pennell (Jail Crier), Trish Garland (Woman Marine Officer), George Hartmann (Bar Tough Guy), Darwyn Swalve (Bar Tough Guy), Christopher Michael (Marine), Alex M. Bello (Marine), Steve Halsey (Bus Driver), John Sasse (Bus Driver), Rebecca Perle (Student in Shower), Annie O’Donnell (Telephone Operator), Elizabeth Ruscio (Waitress), Lloyd Nelson (Deputy), John H. Brewer (Sgt. Major in Court), Michael Maurer (Bouncer in Bar), Tom Ellison (Marine Corporal).
      Synopsis: A hard-nosed, hard-living Marine gunnery sergeant clashes with his superiors and his ex-wife as he takes command of a spoiled recon platoon with a bad attitude.
      Comment: Highly entertaining film coasts on Eastwood’s supremely charismatic performance whilst it ploughs a similar furrow as SANDS OF IWO JIMA, despite the stakes being lower. Eastwood’s tough-as-nails marine may be a caricature to some degree, but there is also a depth to the star’s performance that elevates the film above its derivative storyline. Van Peebles is a good foil for Eastwood and Mason gives a strong performance as the ex who lost out to the army. The film falters only in its two-dimensional characterisation of the Marine Corps brass.

Film Review – ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN (1980)

Image result for any which way you canANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN (USA, 1980) **½
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures (USA), Columbia-EMI-Warner (UK); Production Company: The Malpaso Company / Warner Bros. Pictures; Release Date: 17 December 1980 (USA), 18 December 1980 (UK); Filming Dates: 5 May – July 1980; Running Time: 116m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Stereo; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Buddy Van Horn; Writer: Stanford Sherman (based on characters created by Jeremy Joe Kronsberg); Executive Producer: Robert Daley; Producer: Fritz Manes; Director of Photography: David Worth; Music Supervisor: Snuff Garrett; Film Editor: Ron Spang, Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Marion Dougherty (uncredited); Production Designer: William J. Creber; Set Decorator: Ernie Bishop; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Joe McKinney; Sound: Bert Hallberg; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar, Jeff Jarvis.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Philo Beddoe), Sondra Locke (Lynn Halsey-Taylor), Geoffrey Lewis (Orville), William Smith (Jack Wilson), Harry Guardino (James Beekman), Ruth Gordon (Ma), Michael Cavanaugh (Patrick Scarfe), Barry Corbin (Fat Zack), Roy Jenson (Moody), Bill McKinney (Dallas), William O’Connell (Elmo), John Quade (Cholla), Al Ruscio (Tony Paoli Sr.), Dan Vadis (Frank), Camila Ashland (Hattie), Beans Morocco (Baggage Man), Michael Brockman (Moustache Officer), Julie Brown (Candy), Glen Campbell (Glen Campbell), Richard Christie (Jackson Officer), Rebecca Clemons (Buxom Bess), Reid Cruickshanks (Bald Headed Trucker), Michael Currie (Wyoming Officer), Gary Lee Davis (Husky Officer), Dick Durock (Joe Casey), Michael Fairman (CHP Captain), James Gammon (Bartender), Weston Gavin (Beekman’s Butler), Lance Gordon (Biceps), Lynn Hallowell (Honey Bun), Peter Hobbs (Motel Clerk), Art LaFleur (Baggage Man #2), Ken Lerner (Tony Paoli Jr.), John McKinney (Officer), Robin Menken (Tall Woman), George Murdock (Sgt. Cooley), Jack Murdock (Little Melvin), Ann Nelson (Harriet), Sunshine Parker (Old Codger), Kent Perkins (Trucker), Anne Ramsey (Loretta Quince), Logan Ramsey (Luther Quince), Michael Reinbold (Officer with Glasses), Tessa Richarde (Sweet Sue), Jeremy Smith (Intern), Bill Sorrells (Bakersfield Officer), Jim Stafford (Long John), Michael Talbott (Officer Morgan), Mark L. Taylor (Desk Clerk), Jack Thibeau (Head Muscle), Charles Walker (Officer), Jerry Brutsche (Black Widow), Orwin C. Harvey (Black Widow), Larry Holt (Black Widow), John Nowak (Black Widow), Walter Robles (Black Widow), Mike Tillman (Black Widow).
      Synopsis: A bare-knuckle fighter decides to retire, but when the Mafia come along and arrange another fight, he is pushed into it. A motorcycle gang and an orangutan called Clyde all add to the ‘fun’.
      Comment: Sequel to 1978’s EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE is a more enjoyable movie. Amping up the comedy and removing some of the mean-spiritedness of the original, the result is an extremely lightweight but sometimes fun movie. Anyone looking for depth of character or development should look elsewhere. Those looking for broad laughs, slapstick and cartoon-like characters will likely find something to enjoy here. Eastwood seems more relaxed with the comedy and whilst Lewis and Locke are more marginalised, the role of Clyde is dialled up for comedic effect.
      Notes: Filmed in the California communities of Sun Valley, North Hollywood, and Bakersfield, and in Jackson, Wyoming.

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).