Film Review – PALE RIDER (1985)

Image result for pale rider 1985PALE RIDER (USA, 1985) ***½
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 27 June 1985 (USA), 4 October 1985 (UK); Filming Dates: began 17 September 1984; Running Time: 115m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack; Executive Producer: Fritz Manes; Producer: Clint Eastwood; Associate Producer: David Valdes; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Edward C. Carfagno; Set Decorator: Ernie Bishop; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Barbara Guedel; Sound: C. Darin Knight; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Preacher), Michael Moriarty (Hull Barret), Carrie Snodgress (Sarah Wheeler), Chris Penn (Josh LaHood), Richard Dysart (Coy LaHood), Sydney Penny (Megan Wheeler), Richard Kiel (Club), Doug McGrath (Spider Conway), John Russell (Stockburn), Charles Hallahan (McGill), Marvin J. McIntyre (Jagou), Fran Ryan (Ma Blankenship), Richard Hamilton (Jed Blankenship), Graham Paul (Ev Gossage), Chuck Lafont (Eddie Conway), Jeffrey Weissman (Teddy Conway), Allen Keller (Tyson), Randy Oglesby (Elam), Herman Poppe (Ulrik Lindquist), Kathleen Wygle (Bess Gossage), Terrence Evans (Jake Henderson), Jim Hitson (Biggs), Loren Adkins (Bossy), Thomas H. Friedkin (Miner Tom), S.A. Griffin (Deputy Folke), Jack Radosta (Deputy Grissom), Robert Winley (Deputy Kobold), Billy Drago (Deputy Mather), Jeffrey Josephson (Deputy Sedge), John Dennis Johnston (Deputy Tucker), Michael Adams (Horseman), Clay M. Lilley (Horseman), Gene Hartline (Horseman), R.L. Tolbert (Horseman), Clifford Happy (Horseman), Ross Loney (Horseman), Larry Randles (Horseman), Mike H. McGaughy (Horseman), Jerry Gatlin (Horseman), Lloyd Nelson (Bank Teller), Jay K. Fishburn (Telegrapher), George Orrison (Stationmaster Whitey), Milton Murrill (Porter), Mike Munsey (Dentist / Barber), Keith Dillin (Blacksmith), Buddy Van Horn (Stage Driver), Fritz Manes (Stage Rider), Glenn Wright (Stage Rider).
      Synopsis: A mysterious preacher protects a humble prospector village from a greedy mining company trying to encroach on their land.
      Comment: Eastwood’s first Western since THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES nine years earlier is a thinly disguised reworking of the themes explored in SHANE (1953) and Eastwood’s earlier HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (1973). Eastwood deftly mixes the morality messaging of SHANE with the mysticism of HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER and the film’s lack of an original perspective makes it seem at times overly familiar. There is, however, much to enjoy here with Eastwood and an excellent cast making the most of the familiar situations. The star is in good form returning to his stranger persona as he helps a group of prospectors panning for gold against a mining company out for their land. The production is well-mounted in a beautiful setting in Idaho, which is sumptuously captured by cinematographer Surtees at the start of a snowy autumn.

Film Review – TIGHTROPE (1984)

Image result for tightrope 1984TIGHTROPE (USA, 1984) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: The Malpaso Company / Warner Bros.; Release Date: 17 August 1984 (USA), 2 November 1984 (UK); Filming Dates: 17 October–3 December 1983; Running Time: 114m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Richard Tuggle; Writer: Richard Tuggle; Producer: Clint Eastwood, Fritz Manes; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Edward C. Carfagno; Set Decorator: Ernie Bishop; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Barbara Guedel; Sound: Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: Joseph A. Unsinn.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Wes Block), Geneviève Bujold (Beryl Thibodeaux), Dan Hedaya (Det. Molinari), Alison Eastwood (Amanda Block), Jenny Beck (Penny Block), Marco St. John (Leander Rolfe), Rebecca Perle (Becky Jacklin), Regina Richardson (Sarita), Randi Brooks (Jamie Cory), Jamie Rose (Melanie Silber), Margaret Howell (Judy Harper), Rebecca Clemons (Girl with Whip), Janet MacLachlan (Dr. Yarlofsky), Graham Paul (Luther), Bill Holliday (Police Chief), John Wilmot (Medical Examiner), Margie O’Dair (Mrs. Holstein), Joy N. Houck Jr. (Swap Meet Owner), Stuart Baker-Bergen (Blond Surfer), Donald Barber (Shorty), Robert Harvey (Lonesome Alice), Ron Gural (Coroner Dudley), Layton Martens (Sgt. Surtees), Richard Charles Boyle (Dr. Fitzpatrick), Becki Davis (Nurse), Jonathan Sachar (Gay Boy), Valerie Thibodeaux (Black Hooker), Lionel Ferbos (Plainclothes Gus), Eliott Keener (Sandoval), Cary Wilmot Alden (Secretary), David Valdes (Manes), James Borders (Carfagno), Fritz Manes (Valdes), Jonathan Shaw (Quono), Don Lutenbacher (Dixie President), G. Wood (Conventioneer), Kimberly Georgoulis (Sam), Glenda Byers (Lucy Davis), John Schluter (Piazza Cop), Nick Krieger (Rannigan), Lloyd Nelson (Patrolman Restic), David Dahlgren (Patrolman Julio), Rod Masterson (Patrolman Gallo), Glenn Wright (Patrolman Redfish), Angela Hill (Woman Reporter), Ted Saari (T.V. News Technician).
      Synopsis: A New Orleans detective is leading an investigation into a killer who is raping and murdering women. His enquiries lead him into the seedy side of town where he is no stranger off-duty.
      Comment: Interesting character study of a divorced detective coming to terms with raising his young daughters following a divorce and wrestling with his more basic desires. It is framed around a serial killer plot, which runs close to home for Eastwood’s character. Where the film falls short is in the thrills department, with little tension built through the story and a heavy-handed script, which fails to capitalise on the ambiguities suggested. The climax is more conventional and ups the thrill quota. The film is more interesting for seeing Eastwood give a layered performance with a more complex version of his no-nonsense detective persona.
      Notes: While Tuggle retained the director’s credit, as with THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES on which original director Philip Kaufman was replaced by the star, Eastwood directed most of the movie after finding Tuggle working too slowly.

Film Review: ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ (1979)

Image result for escape from alcatraz 1979ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ (USA, 1979) ****
      Distributor: Paramount Pictures (USA), Cinema International Corporation (CIC) (UK); Production Company: Paramount Pictures / The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 22 June 1979 (USA), 24 January 1980 (UK); Filming Dates: 16 October 1978 – January 1979; Running Time: 112m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Don Siegel; Writer: Richard Tuggle (based on the book by J. Campbell Bruce); Executive Producer: Robert Daley; Producer: Don Siegel; Associate Producer: Fritz Manes; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Jerry Fielding; Film Editor: Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Marion Dougherty, Wallis Nicita; Production Designer: Allen E. Smith; Art Director: ; Set Decorator: Edward J. McDonald; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Joe McKinney; Sound: Bub Asman, Bert Hallberg, Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar.
       Cast: Clint Eastwood (Frank Morris), Patrick McGoohan (Warden), Roberts Blossom (Chester ‘Doc’ Dalton), Jack Thibeau (Clarence Anglin), Fred Ward (John Anglin), Paul Benjamin (English), Larry Hankin (Charley Butts), Bruce M. Fischer (Wolf), Frank Ronzio (Litmus), Fred Stuthman (Johnson), David Cryer (Wagner), Madison Arnold (Zimmerman), Blair Burrows (Fight Guard), Bob Balhatchet (Medical Technical Assistant), Matthew Locricchio (Exam Guard), Don Michaelian (Beck), Ray K. Goman (Cellblock Captain), Jason Ronard (Bobs), Ed Vasgersian (Cranston), Ron Vernan (Stone), Regina Baff (Lucy), Hank Brandt (Associate Warden), Candace Bowen (English’s Daughter), Joe Miksak (Police Sgt.), Stephen Bradley (Exam Guard), Garry Goodrow (Weston), Ross Reynolds (Helicopter Pilot), Al Dunlap (Visitors’ Guard), Denis Berkfeldt (Guard), Jim Haynie (Guard), Tony Dario (Guard), Fritz Manes (Guard), Dana Derfus (Guard), Don Cummins (Guard), Gordon Handforth (Guard), John Scanlon (Guard), Don Watters (Guard), Dan Leegant (Guard), Joe Knowland (Guard), James Collier (Guard), R.J. Ganzert (Guard), Robert Hirschfeld (Guard), Lloyd Nelson (Guard), George Orrison (Guard), Gary Warren (Guard), Joseph Whipp (Guard), Terry Wills (Guard), John Garabedian (Guard), Dale Alvarez (Inmate), Sheldon Feldner (Inmate), Danny Glover (Inmate), Carl Lumbly (Inmate), Patrick Valentino (Inmate), Gilbert Thomas Jr. (Inmate), Eugene Jackson (Inmate).
      Synopsis: Frank Morris (Eastwood), a hardened con with a history of prison breaks, is sent to serve the rest of his life sentence at Alcatraz — America’s most infamously brutal and inescapable maximum security prison. Morris quickly realizes the prison’s dehumanizing effects and clashes with its cruel warden (McGoohan). Fed up with life at Alcatraz, Morris and two convict brothers (Ward, Thibeau) meticulously plan the unthinkable: an escape from the island.
      Comment: Well-made account of a true story of the last attempt of prisoners to escape from the remote, rock-based San Francisco prison. Eastwood teams once again with director Siegel and the latter is at his efficient and effective best. Eastwood uses his screen persona to good effect in a role that allows him to stick within his confines. The tension in the relationship between the prisoners and their captors, notably McGoohan’s determined warden, is well played by a strong cast. The final escape sequence itself is impressively staged.
      Notes: Glover’s film debut. Song: “D Block Blues,” by Gilbert Thomas, Jr. Less than one year after the real-life events that are depicted in the film, the prison was shut down. The escape occurred on June 11, 1962, and the prison closed on March 21, 1963. Because the penitentiary cost much more to operate than other prisons (nearly ten dollars per prisoner per day, as opposed to three dollars per prisoner per day at Atlanta), and half a century of salt water saturation had severely eroded the buildings, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy ordered the penitentiary closed on March 21, 1963.

Film Review – PLAY MISTY FOR ME (1971)

Image result for play misty for me 1971PLAY MISTY FOR ME (USA, 1971) ****
      Distributor: Universal Pictures (USA), Cinema International Corporation (CIC) (UK); Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 20 October 1971 (USA), 28 January 1972 (UK); Filming Dates: 14 September 1970 – October 1970; Running Time: 102m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15 – strong violence.
       Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Jo Heims, Dean Riesner (from a story by Jo Heims); Executive Producer: Jennings Lang; Producer: Robert Daley; Associate Producer: Bob Larson; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Dee Barton; Film Editor: Carl Pingitore; Art Director: Alexander Golitzen; Set Decorator: Ralph S. Hurst; Costumes: Helen Colvig, Brad Whitney; Make-up: Jack Freeman; Sound: Robert L. Hoyt, Robert Martin, Waldon O. Watson.
       Cast: Clint Eastwood (Dave), Jessica Walter (Evelyn), Donna Mills (Tobie), John Larch (Sgt. McCallum), Jack Ging (Frank), Irene Hervey (Madge), James McEachin (Al Monte), Clarice Taylor (Birdie), Don Siegel (Murphy), Duke Everts (Jay Jay), George Fargo (Man), Mervin W. Frates (Locksmith), Tim Frawley (Deputy Sheriff), Otis Kadani (Policeman), Britt Lind (Anjelica), Paul E. Lippman (2nd Man), Jack Kosslyn (Cab Driver), Ginna Patterson (Madalyn), Malcolm Moran (Man in Window).
      Synopsis: A brief fling between a male disc jockey and an obsessed female fan takes a frightening, and perhaps even deadly turn when another woman enters the picture.
      Comment: Slick, effective psychological thriller with an un-nerving performance from Walter as the obsessive fan who stalks Eastwood after having become his lover. Eastwood directs confidently and elicits strong performances from a talented cast. Riesner rewrote Heims’ original script, which included relocating to Carmel from San Francisco. It is a lean script with a taut narrative. The film only slows in an unnecessary detour to the Monterey Jazz Festival, indulging Eastwood’s love of music. The locations are sumptuously photographed by Surtees and Barton’s score, whilst sounding a little dated, adds an element of class. A major inspiration for 1987’s more celebrated FATAL ATTRACTION.
     Notes: Eastwood’s directorial debut. The first scene he shot was his former director Don Siegel’s cameo as a bartender. The concert scenes were filmed live at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Songs: “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” music and lyrics by Ewan McColl, sung by Roberta Flack, produced by Joel Dorn for Atlantic Records; “Hand Jive,” music and lyrics by David Lanz and E. Lightborn; “Misty” composed and performed by Erroll Garner, by arrangement with Octave Music Publishing Corp.; “Squeeze Me” by Duke Ellington.

Film Review – THE BEGUILED (1971)

Image result for the beguiled 1971THE BEGUILED (USA, 1971) ****
      Distributor: Universal Pictures (USA), Cinema International Corporation (CIC) (UK); Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 31 March 1971 (USA), July 1971 (UK); Filming Dates: 9 April 1970; Running Time: 105m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15 – moderate language, sex and violence.
      Director: Don Siegel; Writer: John B. Sherry, Grimes Grice (based on the novel “The Painted Devil” by Thomas Cullinan); Executive Producer: Jennings Lang; Producer: Don Siegel; Associate Producer: Claude Traverse; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: Carl Pingitore; Casting Director: Robert J. LaSanka; Production Designer: Ted Haworth; Art Director: Alexander Golitzen; Set Decorator: John P. Austin; Costumes: Helen Colvig; Make-up: Bud Westmore; Sound: John L. Mack, Waldon O. Watson.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (John McBurney), Geraldine Page (Martha), Elizabeth Hartman (Edwina), Jo Ann Harris (Carol), Darleen Carr (Doris), Mae Mercer (Hallie), Pamelyn Ferdin (Amy), Melody Thomas Scott (Abigail), Peggy Drier (Lizzie), Patricia Mattick (Janie), Charlie Briggs (1st Confederate Captain), George Dunn (Sam Jefferson), Charles G. Martin (2nd Confederate Captain), Matt Clark (Scrogins), Patrick Culliton (Miles Farnswoth), Buddy Van Horn (Soldier).
      Synopsis: During the Civil War a wounded Union soldier who has been taken in at a Southern girls’ school. The girls become curious and then sensuous. But when jealousy sparks, the anger is ultimately focused on the soldier.
      Comment: This is a haunting tale in which Eastwood plays against type in an unsympathetic role. Themes of sexual repression and sodomy are well-handled by Siegel, never crossing the line into exploitation. Page is excellent as the headmistress with her own secrets. The production is handsomely mounted and beautifully photographed by Surtees. The sexual tension builds throughout the story as Eastwood manipulates the naivety of his saviours. He gives his best screen performance to date as a result.
      Notes: Remade in 2017.