Film Review – McLINTOCK! (1963)

McLintock! (1963; USA; Technicolor; 127m) ***  d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. James Edward Grant; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Frank De Vol.  Cast: John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Yvonne De Carlo, Patrick Wayne, Stefanie Powers, Chill Wills, Jerry Van Dyke, Edgar Buchanan, Strother Martin, Aissa Wayne, Jack Kruschen, Bruce Cabot, Perry Lopez, Robert Lowery, Hank Worden. A cattle baron fights his wife, his daughter, and political land-grabbers, finally “taming” them all in this Western comedy with “Taming of the Shrew” overtones. High-spirited, if rather empty, Western-comedy is carried by the performances of its leads, with Wayne and O’Hara sparring off each other as they trade insults. The movie’s two big set-pieces – a slapstick fight in a mud pool and Wayne’s pursuit of O’Hara through the town in the climax are the most memorable sequences in this big, brawling and politically incorrect entertainment. [U]

Film Review – NORTH TO ALASKA (1960)

Related imageNorth to Alaska (1960; USA; DeLuxe; 122m) ***  d. Henry Hathaway; w. John Lee Mahin, Martin Rackin, Claude Binyon; ph. Leon Shamroy; m. Lionel Newman.  Cast: John Wayne, Stewart Granger, Fabian, Ernie Kovacs, Capucine, Mickey Shaughnessy, Karl Swenson, Joe Sawyer, Kathleen Freeman, John Qualen, Stanley Adams, Frank Faylen, Kermit Maynard, Roy Jenson, Alan Carney. When Wayne and Granger strike gold in Alaska. Granger sends Wayne to Seattle to bring Granger’s fiancé back to Alaska. Very broad Western, driven by high-spirited performances and helped by strong production values and use of locations. Lacks any real depth and its main purpose is as a time filler. Based on the play “Birthday Gift” by Ladislas Fodor and an idea by John H. Kafka. [U]

Film Review – JET PILOT (1957)

Image result for jet pilot 1957Jet Pilot (1957; USA; Technicolor; 112m) **  d. Josef Von Sternberg; w. Jules Furthman; ph. Winton C. Hoch; m. Bronislau Kaper.  Cast: John Wayne, Janet Leigh, Jay C. Flippen, Paul Fix, Richard Rober, Hans Conried, Denver Pyle, Roland Winters, Kenneth Tobey. An Air Force colonel is assigned to escort defecting Soviet pilot and falls in love with her, but she is scheming to lure him back to the USSR. Poorly directed story fails to engage on any level and only the superb aerial photography and flight sequences make this film interesting. Tone veers uneasily from drama to comedy as Wayne and Leigh, who is at least appealing in her Russian spy role, skirt around each other. Filmed in 1949-50, this long held-back movie was finally released seven years later. [U]

Film Review – THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS (1974)

Image result for the sugarland express posterSugarland Express, The (1974; USA; Technicolor; 110m) ****  d. Steven Spielberg; w. Hal Barwood, Matthew Robbins, Steven Spielberg; ph. Vilmos Zsigmond; m. John Williams.  Cast: Goldie Hawn, Ben Johnson, Michael Sacks, William Atherton, Gregory Walcott, Steve Kanaly, Louise Latham, Harrison Zanuck, A. L. Camp, Jessie Lee Fulton, Dean Smith, Ted Grossman. A woman attempts to reunite her family by helping her husband escape prison and together kidnapping their son. But things don’t go as planned when they are forced to take a police hostage on the road. Spielberg’s first theatrical feature is a winning combination of drama and humour. Balancing the tone is the director’s biggest challenge as he takes on this adaptation of real life events. Hawn and Atherton score strongly as the misguided couple, whilst Johnson gives a quietly effective performance as a sympathetic lawman. The tone shifts sharply in its final act, but this remains an engaging tale. [PG]

Film Review – FARGO (1996)

Image result for fargo 1996 blurayFargo (1996; USA/UK; DuArt; 98m) ****½  d. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen; w. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen; ph. Roger Deakins; m. Carter Burwell.  Cast: Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Harve Presnell, Peter Stormare, Steve Reevis, Kristin Rudrud, John Carroll Lynch, Tony Denman, Gary Houston, Warren Keith, Larry Brandenburg, Bruce Bohne. Jerry Lundegaard’s inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen’s bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson. A darkly comic and violent thriller set against a cold and snowy backdrop with winning performances from a strong cast. McDormand and Buscemi are standouts who make the most of the Coen Bothers’ Oscar winning screenplay. Followed by a 60m pilot for a TV series, which didn’t sell, but a series was eventually taken up in 2014. [18]

Film Review – “CROCODILE” DUNDEE II

Image result for CROCODILE DUNDEE II DVD“Crocodile” Dundee II (1988; Australia/USA; DuArt; 108m) **½  d. John Cornell; w. Paul Hogan, Brett Hogan; ph. Russell Boyd; m. Peter Best.  Cast: Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, Charles S. Dutton, John Meillon, Hechter Ubarry, Juan Fernandez, Luis Guzman, Kenneth Welsh. Australian outback expert protects his New York love from gangsters who’ve followed her down under. Tired re-tread, which reverses the scenario of the original. Hogan again evokes an easy-going charm, but the plot gets in the way of the laughs, which are few and far between once the action returns to Australia. Followed by “CROCODILE” DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES (2001). [PG]

Film Review – “CROCODILE” DUNDEE (1986)

Image result for crocodile dundee dvd“Crocodile” Dundee (1986; Australia/USA; DuArt; 97m) ***½  d. Peter Faiman; w. John Cornell, Paul Hogan, Ken Shadie; ph. Russell Boyd; m. Peter Best.  Cast: Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, Mark Blum, John Meillon, Michael Lombard, David Gulpilil, Irving Metzman, Reginald VelJohnson. An American reporter goes to the Australian outback to meet an eccentric crocodile poacher and invites him to New York City. Hogan’s commentary on culture clashes is delightfully funny. The charm of the leads is enough to carry a formulaic plot and there is much fun to be derived from seeing Hogan’s “Crocodile” Dundee cope with multi-layered city life – from the trappings of the rich to the sleaze of street life. Finale is rushed, but a sequel was pretty much guaranteed. Followed by CROCODILE DUNDEE II (1988) and CROCODILE DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES (2001). [15]

TV Review – MURDER ON THE BLACKPOOL EXPRESS (2017)

Murder On The Blackpool Express. David Van Der Clane (Griff Rhys Jones).Murder on the Blackpool Express (TV) (2017; UK; Colour; 91m)   pr. Jim Poyser; d. Simon Delaney; w. Jason Cook; ph. Ian Adrian; m. Samuel Karl Bohn.  Cast: Johnny Vegas, Sian Gibson, Griff Rhys Jones, Mark Heap, Nina Wadia, Kimberley Nixon, Nigel Havers, Kevin Eldon, Una Stubbs, Sheila Reid.  Feature-length comedy about a crime writer (Jones) who takes a group of his fans on a coach tour of locations from his books. The bus is soon leaving a string of bodies in its wake, and the passengers are faced with the possibility of a murderer in their midst. Woeful attempt to parody the Agatha Christie classic constantly misfires and long outstays its welcome. A good cast of comedy veterans is wasted with lame material and is poorly directed – even the few good jokes are badly delivered and executed.

Film Review – RADIO DAYS (1987)

Image result for radio days blu-rayRadio Days (1987; USA; DeLuxe; 88m) ***½  d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; ph. Carlo Di Palma; m. Dick Hyman (supervisor).  Cast: Mia Farrow, Diane Keaton, Jeff Daniels, Tony Roberts, Dianne Wiest, Woody Allen, Seth Green, Julie Kavner, Michael Tucker, Wallace Shawn, David Warrilow, William Flanagan, Mick Murray, Paul Herman, Mike Starr. A nostalgic look at radio’s golden age focusing on one ordinary family and the various performers in the medium. Allen’s affectionate tribute to the 1940s is a series of vignettes based around a family of Jewish New Yorkers living in Brooklyn. Along the way we meet vulnerable characters encountering the challenges of poverty and life who get their pleasures from the radio programmes of the time. Warm and funny, its lack of a central plot is compensated by its strong ensemble cast of characters. [PG]

Film Review – PORRIDGE (1979)

Image result for porridge 1979Porridge (1979; UK; Eastmancolor; 93m) ***  d. Dick Clement; w. Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais; ph. Robert Huke; m. Terry Oates (supervisor).  Cast: Ronnie Barker, Richard Beckinsale, Fulton MacKay, Brian Wilde, Peter Vaughan, Julian Holloway, Geoffrey Bayldon, Christopher Godwin, Barrie Rutter, Daniel Peacock, Sam Kelly, Ken Jones, Philip Locke, Gorden Kaye. This prison comedy is based on the popular British television series (1974-7) of the same name. Long-time Slade prison inmate Barker is ordered by Grouty to arrange a football match between the prisoners and an all-star celebrity team unaware that the match is only a diversion so that an escape can take place. Extended but good representation of a classic comedy series. The script is witty and the plot light enough to allow the characters room to breathe. Barker is excellent and is well supported by Beckinsale, Wilde and MacKay. US title: DOING TIME. [PG]