Film Review – TRUE CRIME (1999)

Image result for true crime 1999TRUE CRIME (USA, 1999) ***½
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Warner Bros. / The Zanuck Company / Malpaso Productions; Release Date: 19 March 1999 (USA), 14 May 1999 (UK); Filming Dates: 4 May 1998 – 26 June 1998; Running Time: 127m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Larry Gross, Paul Brickman, Stephen Schiff (based on the novel by Andrew Klavan); Executive Producer: Tom Rooker; Producer: Clint Eastwood, Lili Fini Zanuck, Richard D. Zanuck; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Henry Bumstead; Art Director: Jack G. Taylor Jr.; Set Decorator: Richard C. Goddard; Costumes: ; Make-up: Tania McComas; Sound: Bub Asman, Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: John Frazier.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Steve Everett), Isaiah Washington (Frank Louis Beechum), LisaGay Hamilton (Bonnie Beechum), James Woods (Alan Mann), Denis Leary (Bob Findley), Bernard Hill (Warden Luther Plunkitt), Diane Venora (Barbara Everett), Michael McKean (Reverend Shillerman), Michael Jeter (Dale Porterhouse), Mary McCormack (Michelle Ziegler), Hattie Winston (Angela Russel), Penny Bae Bridges (Gail Beechum), Francesca Eastwood (Kate Everett), John Finn (Reedy), Laila Robins (Patricia Findley), Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Jane March), Erik King (Pussy Man), Graham Beckel (Arnold McCardle), Frances Fisher (D.A. Cecilia Nussbaum), Marissa Ribisi (Amy Wilson), Christine Ebersole (Bridget Rossiter), Anthony Zerbe (Henry Lowenstein), Nancy Giles (Leesha Mitchell), Tom McGowan (Tom Donaldson), William Windom (Neil), Don West (Dr. Roger Waters), Lucy Liu (Toy Shop Girl), Dina Eastwood (Wilma Francis), Leslie Griffith (Herself – TV Anchor), Dennis Richmond (TV Anchor), Frank Somerville (Afternoon News Anchor), Dan Green (Field Producer), Nicholas Bearde (Reuben Skycock), Frances Lee McCain (Mrs. Lowenstein), Cecil Williams (Reverend Williams), Casey Lee (Warren Russell), Jack Kehler (Mr. Ziegler), Colman Domingo (Wally Cartwright), Linda Hoy (Counter Woman at Pocum’s Grocery), Danny Kovacs (Atkins), Kelvin Han Yee (Zachary Platt), Kathryn Howell (Nurse), Beulah Stanley (Female Guard), George Maguire (Frederick Robertson), Bill Wattenburg (Radio Reporter), Cathy Fithian (Nancy Larson), Roland T. Abasolo (Guard), Michael Halton (Guard), Jade Marx-Berti (Waitress), Velica Marie Davis (Purse Whacker), John B. Scott (Colonel Drummond), Edward Silva (Colonel Hernandez), Jordan Sax (Colonel Badger), Rob Reece (Executioner), Walter Brown (Beechum Family Member).
      Synopsis: Can an over-the-hill journalist uncover the evidence that can prove a death row inmate’s innocence just hours before his execution?
      Comment: Taut, gripping race-against-time thriller may stretch credibility but is nonetheless well-crafted. Washington delivers a superb performance as the innocent man on death row, whilst Eastwood’s star quality cuts through as the alcoholic and womanising reporter out to clear his name. Hill gives a nicely balanced portrayal as the prison governor at odds with his conscience. A tighter script would have made this an absolute winner, but it too often relies on a significant suspension of disbelief from its audience. Fortunately, due to its strong cast, it just about delivers.

Film Review – THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (1995)

Image result for the bridges of madison countyTHE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (USA, 1995) ****
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures / Amblin Entertainment / Malpaso Productions; Release Date: 2 June 1995 (USA), 15 September 1995 (UK); Filming Dates: 15 September 1994 – 31 October 1994; Running Time: 135m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 12.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Richard LaGravenese (based on the novel by Robert James Waller); Producer: Clint Eastwood, Kathleen Kennedy; Associate Producer: Michael Maurer, Tom Rooker; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Music Supervisor: Peter Afterman (uncredited); Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Ellen Chenoweth; Production Designer: Jeannine Oppewall; Art Director: William Arnold; Set Decorator: Jay Hart; Costumes: Colleen Kelsall; Make-up: Michael Hancock; Sound: Bub Asman, Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: Steve Riley.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Robert Kincaid), Meryl Streep (Francesca Johnson), Annie Corley (Carolyn Johnson), Victor Slezak (Michael Johnson), Jim Haynie (Richard Johnson), Sarah Zahn (Young Carolyn), Christopher Kroon (Young Michael), Phyllis Lyons (Betty), Debra Monk (Madge), Richard Lage (Lawyer Peterson), Michelle Benes (Lucy Redfield), Alison Wiegert (Child #1), Brandon Bobst (Child #2), Pearl Faessler (Wife), R.E. ‘Stick’ Faessler (Husband), Tania Mishler (Waitress #1), Billie McNabb (Waitress #2), Art Breese (Cashier), Lana Schwab (Saleswoman), Larry Loury (UPS Driver), James Rivers (James Rivers Band), Mark A. Brooks (James Rivers Band), Peter Cho (James Rivers Band), Eddie Dejean Sr. (James Rivers Band), Jason C. Brewer (James Rivers Band), Kyle Eastwood (James Rivers Band), George Orrison (Café Patron), Ken Billeter (Café Patron), Judy Trask (Café Patron), David Trask (Café Patron), Edna Dolson (Café Patron), Dennis McCool (Café Patron), Michael C. Pommier (Café Patron), Jana Corkrean (Café Patron), M. Jane Seymour (Café Patron), Karla Jo Soper (Café Patron).
      Synopsis: Photographer Robert Kincaid wanders into the life of housewife Francesca Johnson, for four days in the 1960s.
      Comment: A sublime example of how a top-class director and two wonderful central performances can elevate a standard sentimental romantic drama into something much more. Streep is utterly convincing as the Italian housewife falling for Eastwood’s travelling photographer. Eastwood the director knows Streep’s qualities as an actress to inhabit the roles she plays and maximises her contribution, whilst himself producing an atypical sensitive portrayal. Whilst the story offers nothing new to the genre, the interplay between the stars is so powerful as to carry the familiar material through to its logical conclusion.
      Notes: Streep received an Academy Award for Best Actress nomination in 1996 for her performance in the film.

Film Review – A PERFECT WORLD (1993)

A Perfect World (1993)A PERFECT WORLD (USA, 1993) ****
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Warner Bros. / Malpaso Productions; Release Date: 24 November 1993 (USA), 24 December 1993 (UK); Filming Dates: 29 April 1993 – 16 July 1993; Running Time: 138m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: John Lee Hancock; Producer: Clint Eastwood, Mark Johnson, David Valdes; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox, Ron Spang; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Henry Bumstead; Art Director: Jack G. Taylor Jr.; Set Decorator: Alan Hicks; Costumes: Erica Edell Phillips; Make-up: James Lee McCoy, Francisco X. Pérez; Sound: Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: John Frazier.
      Cast: Kevin Costner (Butch Haynes), Clint Eastwood (Red Garnett), Laura Dern (Sally Gerber), T.J. Lowther (Phillip Perry), Keith Szarabajka (Terry Pugh), Leo Burmester (Tom Adler), Paul Hewitt (Dick Suttle), Bradley Whitford (Bobby Lee), Ray McKinnon (Bradley), Jennifer Griffin (Gladys Perry), Leslie Flowers (Naomi Perry), Belinda Flowers (Ruth Perry), Darryl Cox (Mr. Hughes), Jay Whiteaker (Superman), Taylor Suzanna McBride (Tinkerbell), Christopher Reagan Ammons (Dancing Skeleton), Mark Voges (Larry), Vernon Grote (Prison Guard), James Jeter (Oldtimer), Ed Geldart (Fred Cummings), Bruce McGill (Paul Saunders), Nik Hagler (General Store Manager), Gary Moody (Local Sheriff), George Haynes (Farmer), Marietta Marich (Farmer’s Wife), Rodger Boyce (Mr. Willits), Lucy Lee Flippin (Lucy), Elizabeth Ruscio (Paula), David Kroll (Newscaster), Gabriel Folse (Officer Terrance), Gil Glasgow (Officer Pete), Dennis Letts (Governor), John Hussey (Governor’s Aide), Margaret Bowman (Trick ‘r Treat Lady), John M. Jackson (Bob Fielder), Connie Cooper (Bob’s Wife), Cameron Finley (Bob Fielder, Jr.), Katy Wottrich (Patsy Fielder), Marco Perella (Road Block Officer), Linda Hart (Eileen, Waitress), Brandon Smith (Officer Jones), George Orrison (Officer Orrison), Wayne Dehart (Mack), Mary Alice (Lottie), Kevin Jamal Woods (Cleveland), Tony Frank (Arch Andrews), Woody Watson (Lt. Hendricks).
      Synopsis: A kidnapped boy strikes up a friendship with his captor: an escaped convict on the run from the law, headed by an honourable U.S. Marshal.
      Comment: Intelligent and thoughtful pursuit movie which is driven by Costner’s complex central performance as the escaped prisoner on the run and the remarkable young Lowther as his 8-year-old hostage. Themes of father/son neglect are sensitively handled and the developing relationship between Costner and Lowther is the core of Hancock’s nicely judged script. Eastwood takes more of a back seat as he plays the Texas Ranger on Costner’s tail with Dern’s psychologist in tow. The climax is perfectly judged.

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: 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 – 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 – 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.

Film Review – STAN & OLLIE (2018)

Related imageSTAN & OLLIE (UK/USA/Canada, 2018) ****
      Distributor: Entertainment One (UK), Sony Pictures Classics (US); Production Company: BBC / Fable Pictures / Sonesta Films / eOne Entertainment; Release Date: 21 October 2018 (UK), 14 November 2018 (US); Running Time: 98m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: PG – mild bad language.
      Director: Jon S. Baird; Writer: Jeff Pope; Executive Producer: Kate Fasulo, Christine Langan, Xavier Marchand, Joe Oppenheimer, Eugenio Pérez, Gabrielle Tana; Producer: Faye Ward; Co- Producer: Jim Spencer; Director of Photography: Laurie Rose; Music Composer: Clint Mansell; Music Supervisor: Karen Elliott; Film Editor: Úna Ní Dhonghaíle, Billy Sneddon; Casting Director: Andy Pryor; Production Designer: John Paul Kelly; Art Director: David Hindle, Astrid Sieben; Set Decorator: Claudia Parker; Costumes: Guy Speranza; Make-up: Jeremy Woodhead, Mark Coulier; Sound: Paul Cotterell, James Harrison; Special Effects: Chris Reynolds; Visual Effects: Noga Alon Stein, Mark Michaels, Jolien Buijs.
      Cast: John C. Reilly (Oliver Hardy), Steve Coogan (Stan Laurel), Shirley Henderson (Lucille Hardy), Nina Arianda (Ida Kitaeva Laurel), Danny Huston (Hal Roach), Rufus Jones (Bernard Delfont), Susy Kane (Cynthia Clark), Richard Cant (Harry Langdon), Ella Kenion (Holiday Camp Organizer), John Henshaw (Nobby Cook), Sanjeev Kohli (Manager of Glasgow Empire), Lucy Appleton (Audience Member), Bentley Kalu (Elephant Wrangler), Keith MacPherson (James Finlayson), Joseph Balderrama (James Horne), Kate Okello (Newcastle Receptionist), Greg Canestrari (Stan’s Lawyer), Charlie Robinson (Savoy Guest), Harry Hepple (Wally Brady), Roger Ringrose (Doctor), Julie Eagleton (Irish Woman, Cork Harbour), Daniel Fearn (Cab Driver), Nick Owenford (Studio Executive), Sophie Wardlow (Laurel and Hardy’s Makeup artist), Conrad Asquith (Lord Warley), Paul Riddell (Holidaymaker), Toby Sedgwick (Theatre Manager), Rebecca Yeo (Concierge Savoy), Matt Dunkley (Conductor), Andy Mihalache (Arthur I. Royce), Stewart Alexander (Joe Schenck), Danny Scheinmann (Jeweler), Paul Bailey (Art Greene), David Gambier (Audience Member), Eve Harding (Train Passenger 1), Ashley Robinson (Gordon Douglas), Karl Jenkins (Chill Wills), Michael Haydon (Audience member), Swaylee Loughnane (Theatre Goer), Geoffrey Osborne (Photographer), Elise Lamb (Plymouth Girl), Gary Kiely (Irishman), Martin Bratanov (Audience Member), Josh Alexander (Stall Holder), Laraine Dix (Savoy guest), Callum Forman (Stage Hand), Tom Bates (Roach Scene Hand), Sinéad Daly (Dublin Mother), Steve Healey (Theatre Goer), Alex Jaep (Audience Member), Phillip Seddon (Doorman), Simon Ager (Poster Man Newcastle), Lewis Reynolds (Plymouth Stage Hand).
      Synopsis: Laurel and Hardy, the world’s most famous comedy duo, attempt to reignite their film careers as they embark on what becomes their swan song – a gruelling theatre tour of post-war Britain.
      Comment: Wonderful account of the twilight years of the greatest comedy double-act of all-time. Coogan and Reilly give extraordinary performances as L&H, perfectly capturing their mannerisms and voices. Henderson and Arianda also score heavily as the pair’s wives. The production design neatly captures 1953 England, albeit with a slightly romantic glow. Pope’s script efficiently condenses events into a tight running-time, which ensures it doesn’t outstay its welcome. The recreation of some of the duo’s stage and movie routines is highly authentic and very funny. There are moments of gentle humour and melancholy, but it is all delivered with an honesty and obvious affection for the subject matter. Let’s hope it leads a new generation to appreciate these true legends of cinema.
      

Film Review – THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (1971)

Image result for the last picture show 1971Last Picture Show, The (1971; USA; B&W; 118m) ****½  d. Peter Bogdanovich; w. Peter Bogdanovich, Larry McMurtry; ph. Robert Surtees; m. Phil Harris, Johnny Standley, Hank Thompson.  Cast: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, Eileen Brennan, Clu Gulager, Sam Bottoms, Randy Quaid, Joe Heathcock, Bill Thurman, Jessie Lee Fulton, John Hillerman, Noble Willingham, Grover Lewis, Kimberly Hyde, Gary Brockette, Sharon Taggart. In 1951, a group of high schoolers come of age in a bleak, isolated, atrophied West Texas town that is slowly dying, both culturally and economically. Superbly acted drama populated by imperfect characters trying to make a sense of their lives in a dying Texas town. Bogdanovich gives the characters room to breathe and adds a directorial flourish to create an overarching sense of sadness. The 1950s setting is realistically realised through Polly Platt’s production design and Surtees’ black-and-white cinematography. Won Oscars for Best Supporting Actor (Johnson) and Supporting Actress (Leachman) as well as receiving six other nominations. Based on the novel by Larry McMurtry. Director’s cut runs 126m. Followed by TEXASVILLE (1990). [15]

Film Review – HELLFIGHTERS (1968)

Image result for hellfighters 1968Hellfighters (1968; USA; Technicolor; 121m) ***½  d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. Clair Huffaker; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Leonard Rosenman.  Cast: John Wayne, Katharine Ross, Vera Miles, Jim Hutton, Bruce Cabot, Jay C. Flippen, Edward Faulkner, Barbara Stuart, Edmund Hashim. The story of macho oil well firefighters and their wives. Whilst it plays almost every cliché in the book – and set a few – this is still an entertaining, well-staged action-packed story. Likeable characters, witty and simplistic plot and episodic nature keeps us interested. Rosenman’s theme and score are memorable. Wayne’s character of Chance Buckman is based on real-life oil well firefighter ‘Red’ Adair. Adair, “Boots” Hansen, and “Coots” Matthews, all served as technical advisers on the film. [PG]