Film Review – DIRTY HARRY (1971)

Dirty Harry (1971; USA; Technicolor; 102m) ∗∗∗∗½  d. Don Siegel; w. Harry Julian Fink, Rita M. Fink, Dean Riesner; ph. Bruce Surtees; m. Lalo Schifrin.  Cast: Clint Eastwood, Harry Guardino, John Mitchum, Reni Santoni, Andrew Robinson, John Larch, John Vernon, Josef Sommer, Woodrow Parfrey, Mae Mercer, Lyn Edgington, Woodrow Parfrey, William Paterson, Maurice Argent. When a mad man calling himself ‘the Scorpio Killer’ menaces the city, tough as nails San Francisco Police Inspector Harry Callahan is assigned to track down and ferret out the crazed psychopath. Influential, efficient and effective crime thriller with Eastwood establishing the blueprint for all maverick cop characters that followed. Siegel handles it all with style. Dynamite jazz rock music score from Schifrin. Sommer’s first film. The first of five movies starring Eastwood as Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan. Followed by MAGNUM FORCE (1973). [18]

Film Review – COOGAN’S BLUFF (1968)

Coogan’s Bluff (1968; USA; Technicolor; 93m) ∗∗∗½  d. Don Siegel; w. Herman Miller, Dean Riesner, Howard Rodman; ph. Bud Thackery; m. Lalo Schifrin.  Cast: Clint Eastwood, Lee J. Cobb, Susan Clark, Don Stroud, Tisha Sterling, Betty Field, Tom Tully, David Doyle, James Edwards, Louis Zorich, Melodie Johnson, Rudy Diaz, Meg Myles, Seymour Cassel, Marjorie Bennett. An Arizona deputy goes to New York City to escort a fugitive back into custody. First collaboration between Eastwood and Siegel is a pointer to things to come with Eastwood’s economic and laconic approach  perfectly complemented by Siegel’s efficient direction. Cobb is excellent as world-weary NYC lieutenant and the script is both punchy and witty. Inspiration for the TV series McCloud starring Dennis Weaver. [15]

Film Review Round-up – THE EIGER SANCTION (1975); THE FOG (1980) and LAST MAN STANDING (1996)

119934094Eiger Sanction, The (1975; USA; Technicolor; 123m) ∗∗∗  d. Clint Eastwood; w. Hal Dresner, Warren Murphy, Rod Whitaker; ph. Frank Stanley; m. John Williams.  Cast: Clint Eastwood, George Kennedy, Jack Cassidy, Thayer David, Vonetta McGee, Heidi Bruhl, Reiner Schone, Michael Grimm, Jean-Pierre Bernard, Brenda Venus, Gregory Walcott, Candice Rialson, Elaine Shore, Dan Howard, Jack Kosslyn. 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. Lame spy story is not one of Eastwood’s best efforts but is rescued by spectacular and thrilling mountain-climbing scenes. Eastwood did all of his own stunts. Based on the novel by Rod Whitaker (as Trevanian). [15]

images (2)Fog, The (1980; USA; Metrocolor; 90m) ∗∗∗∗  d. John Carpenter; w. John Carpenter, Debra Hill; ph. Dean Cundey; m. John Carpenter.  Cast: Adrienne Barbeau, Hal Holbrook, Janet Leigh, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Houseman, Tom Atkins, Nancy Kyes, Charles Cyphers, George “Buck” Flower, Jim Haynie, James Canning, Ty Mitchell, John F. Goff, Regina Waldon, Darrow Igus. A Northern California fishing town, built 100 years ago over an old leper colony, is the target for revenge by a killer fog containing zombie-like ghosts seeking revenge for their deaths. Creepy, atmospheric and with more than its fair share of shocks. Carpenter nicely ratchets up the tension and a game cast keep the viewer engaged. Eerie score by Carpenter heightens the fear factor. Remade in 2005. [15]

298841-lastmanstandingLast Man Standing (1996; USA; DeLuxe; 101m) ∗∗½  d. Walter Hill; w. Walter Hill; ph. Lloyd Ahern II; m. Ry Cooder.  Cast: Bruce Willis, Bruce Dern, William Sanderson, Christopher Walken, David Patrick Kelly, Michael Imperioli, Karina Lombard, Ned Eisenberg, Alexandra Powers, Ken Jenkins, R.D. Call, Ted Markland, Patrick Kilpatrick, Luis Contreras, Leslie Mann. A drifting gunslinger-for-hire finds himself in the middle of an ongoing war between the Irish and Italian mafia in a Prohibition era ghost town. Cartoon violence abounds in this tale of cross and double-cross. Willis is effective, but it is difficult to connect with any of the characters. Re-working of Akira Kurosawa’s YOJIMBO (1961) (story by Ryûzô Kikushima and Kurosawa), which in turn was remade as FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964). [15]

Film Review Round-up – THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (2014); HORSE FEATHERS (1932) and FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964)

B00R3DO58KHobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The (2014; New Zealand/USA; Colour; 144m) ∗∗∗½  d. Peter Jackson; w. Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Guillermo del Toro; ph. Andrew Lesnie; m. Howard Shore. Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, Aidan Turner, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Ryan Gage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, James Nesbitt, Jed Brophy, Stephen Hunter, John Callen, Adam Brown, Dean O’Gorman, William Kircher, Peter Hambleton, Mark Hadlow, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Billy Connolly, Christopher Lee, Stephen Fry, Ian Holm, Sylvester McCoy, Manu Bennett. As the dwarves dwell in the mountains, forces of Orcs and Elves descend on them, bringing possibility of a war that threatens all of Middle-earth. Bilbo must take it upon himself to end the conflict, but his actions may come at a terrible cost. Spectacular, action-packed finale, which is light on plot and characterisation and includes some implausible set-pieces. This is essentially one long battle. The visuals are stunning, however. Based on the novel “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien. Also shot in 3-D. [12]

220px-HorseFeaHorse Feathers (1932; USA; B&W; 68m) ∗∗∗∗½  d. Norman Z. McLeod; w. Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby, S.J. Perelman, Will B. Johnstone; ph. Ray June; m. John Leipold.  Cast: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx, Thelma Todd, David Landau, Florine McKinney, Nat Pendleton, James Pierce, Robert Greig. Quincy Adams Wagstaff, the new president of Huxley U, hires bumblers Baravelli and Pinky to help his school win the big football game against rival Darwin U. Fast and furious Marxian lunacy with the gags flowing thick and fast. This one of their most sustained funny films. Although the present running time (68m) is very close to that of the original (70m), there are still a few bits and pieces and lines of dialogue missing due to re-editing in 1935 in order to bring the film up to Production Code standards. [U]

518oyd3UP1L._SY300_Fistful of Dollars (1964; Italy/Spain/West Germany; Technicolor; 99m) ∗∗∗½  d. Sergio Leone; w. Víctor Andrés Catena, Jaime Comas Gil, Sergio Leone; ph. Massimo Dallamano, Federico G. Larraya; m. Ennio Morricone; ed. Roberto Cinquini, Alfonso Santacana.  Cast: Clint Eastwood, Mario Brega, Gian Maria Volonte, Marianne Koch, Jose Calvo, Wolfgang Lukschy, Joseph Egger, Sieghardt Rupp, Antonio Prieto, Margarita Lozano, Daniel Martin, Benito Stefanelli, Bruno Carotenuto, Aldo Sambrell. A wandering gunfighter plays two rival families against each other in a town torn apart by greed, pride, and revenge. First of Leone’s “Dollars” trilogy is relatively low key compared to its successors, but highly influential on the genre. Eastwood’s presence is immediately apparent and the story is told with economy and style. A remake of YOJIMBO (1961), which itself was based on the as yet unadapted 1929 novel “Red Harvest” by Dashiell Hammett. Not released in the US until 1967. Original title: PER UN PUGNO DI DOLLARI. Followed by FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965). [15]

Film Review Round-up – SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (2014); HEARTBREAK RIDGE (1986) and MANHATTAN (1979)

109548_mediumSin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014; USA; DeLuxe; 102m) ∗∗∗ d. Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller; w. Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez; ph. Robert Rodriguez; m. Robert Rodriguez, Carl Thiel; ed. Robert Rodriguez.  Cast: Josh Brolin, Eva Green, Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Ray Liotta, Juno Temple, Jeremy Piven, Michael Madsen, Jamie Chung, Jaime King, Dennis Haysbert, Crystal McCahill, Julia Garner. Some of Sin City’s most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with a few of its more reviled inhabitants. Visually impressive and stylistically violent follow-up lacks the originality of its predecessor in both approach and story. Green is the film’s best asset in an alluring performance. Based on he comic book by Frank Miller. Also shot in 3-D. [18]

5318b63fb4deeHeartbreak Ridge (1986; USA; Technicolor; 130m) ∗∗∗½ d. Clint Eastwood; w. James Carabatsos; ph. Jack N. Green; m. Lennie Niehaus; ed. Joel Cox.  Cast: Clint Eastwood, Marsha Mason, Everett McGill, Bo Svenson, Mario Van Peebles, Moses Gunn, Eileen Heckart, Arlen Dean Snyder, Boyd Gaines, Rodney Hill, Vincent Inzarry, Ramon Franco, Peter Koch, Tom Villard, Mike Gomez. 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. Film coasts entertainingly on Eastwood’s supremely charismatic performance and ploughs a similar furrow to SANDS OF IWO JIMA, although the stakes are lower. [15]

download (2)Manhattan (1979; USA; B&W; 96m) ∗∗∗∗∗ d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman; ph. Gordon Willis; m. George Gershwin; ed. Susan E. Morse.  Cast: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Mariel Hemingway, Meryl Streep, Michael Murphy, Anne Byrne Hoffman, Tisa Farrow, Wallace Shawn, Karen Allen, David Rasche, Karen Ludwig, Michael O’Donoghue, Bella Abzug, Gary Weis. A divorced New Yorker currently dating a high-schooler brings himself to look for love in the mistress of his best friend instead. This classic is bittersweet, accurate and ultimately poignant and is framed by sumptuous cinematography and backed by the soaring music of Gershwin. Allen produces an insightful slice of New York life through the eyes of his characters. [15]