Film Review – KOJAK: FATAL FLAW (TV) (1989)

Image result for KOJAK FATAL FLAWKojak: Fatal Flaw (TV) (1989; USA; Technicolor; 94m) **½  d. Richard Compton; w. Albert Ruben; ph. Geoffrey Erb; m. Cameron Allan.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Andre Braugher, Angie Dickinson, Steven Weber, George Morfogen, Charles Cioffi, Richard Jenkins, Paul Guilfoyle, Kario Salem, David Ciminello, Sally Jessy Raphael, Don King. Popular book writer is murdered. Kojak finds out that shortly before his death he was working on a book about the mafia, so the mob is automatically his number one suspect.  Dickinson adds glamour to this okay mystery. Savalas seems more engaged with the material and the whole thing is competently directed by Compton. [PG]

Film Review – KOJAK: ARIANA (TV) (1989)

Kojak: Ariana (TV) (1989; USA; Technicolor; 96m) **  d. Paul Krasny; w. Maurice Hurley; ph. Geoffrey Erb; m. Cameron Allan.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Andre Braugher, Shari Headley, Caroline Wilde, Hector Elizondo, Joe Grifasi, Kario Salem, Jean De Baer, David Margulies, Liliana Komorowska, Mike Starr, James Rebhorn. One of Kojak’s old enemies uses Ariana, a young Greek girl, as bait to trap the legendary New York detective. Meanwhile, Kojak finds himself a brash young associate. After a promising start this first episode of a revived series of Kojak TV Movies descends into sentimentality and some weak comic moments. Braugher is introduced to handle the action sequences, whilst Savalas seems a little tired in his iconic role. [PG]

Film Review – THE PRICE OF JUSTICE (TV) (1989)

Image result for kojak the price of justicePrice of Justice, The (TV) (1987; USA; Technicolor; 95m) **½  d. Alan Metzger; w. Albert Ruben; ph. Victor J. Kemper; m. Patrick Williams.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Kate Nelligan, Pat Hingle, Jack Thompson, Brian Murray, John Bedford Lloyd, Jeffrey DeMunn, Tony DiBenedetto, Ron Frazier, Stephen Joyce. When the bodies of two young boys are discovered in a Harlem river, their mother is the obvious suspect, particularly with her scandalous past. But Kojak believes that she is innocent. This did she/didn’t she mystery never really catches fire and is little more than a routine addition to the Kojak series. Savalas, here lacking his support cast from the series, gives a subdued performance but Nelligan conveys effectively the confused emotional state of the mother. Hingle and Thompson are good in support, but the script is unconvincing.  Based on the novel “The Investigation” by Dorothy Uhnak. [15]

Film Review – THE BELARUS FILE (TV) (1985)

Image result for the belarus fileBelarus File, The (TV) (1985; USA; Colour; 95m) **½  d. Robert Markowitz; w. Albert Ruben; ph. Alan Metzger; m. Joseph Conlan, Barry De Vorzon.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Suzanne Pleshette, Max von Sydow, Herbert Berghof, Dan Frazer, Betsy Aidem, Alan Rosenberg, Charles Brown, George Savalas, David Leary, Harry Davis, Rita Karin, Mark Russell, Vince Conti. The murders of several elderly Russian men lead Kojak to a group of Nazi war criminals who are living in America with the full knowledge and approval of the U.S. Government. Savalas’ Kojak character is shoe-horned into an adaptation of John Loftus’ novel with middling results. There is no real mystery to sustain the story and the heavy-handed handling of the material flattens the intended emotional impact. On the plus side, Savalas remains charismatic, Von Sydow essays a dignified performance and there are occasional and welcome nods to the glory days of the TV series. [PG]

Film Review – KOJAK: THE SUMMER OF ’69 (TV) (1977)

Kojak: The Summer of ’69 (TV) (1977; USA; Technicolor; 96m) ***  d. Gene R. Kearney; w. Gene R. Kearney; ph. John McPherson; m. John Cacavas.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Stephen McHattie, Alex Dreier, Harrison Page, Pepe Serna, Phillip R. Allen, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson, George Savalas, Woodrow Parfrey, Thalmus Rasulala, Catlin Adams, Diane Baker. A man is released from prison, and a woman who rides with him to New York is found murdered in his abandoned car (with the MO of a dead serial killer). Interesting premise helped by strong portrayal of psychotic killer by McHattie. Flashback elements are distracting and the sub-plot involving a mob fixer is never fully realised. Good use of NYC locations add authenticity. Compiled from two-part episode from fifth season of Kojak TV series. [15]

Film Review: KOJAK: KOJAK’S DAYS (TV) (1977)

Kojak: Kojak’s Days (TV) (1977; USA; Technicolor; 96m) *** d. Charles S. Dubin; w. Chester Krumholz, Matthew Rapf; ph. Sol Negrin; m. John Cacavas; ed. Eric Albertson, Jim Benson.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Maud Adams, William Hurt, Ken Kercheval, Louise Sorel, Michael Tolan, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson, George Savalas. An unidentified corpse in a stolen Rolls-Royce is found the same morning a wife kills her husband and abandons her child, leaving a trail that could lead to her suicide. Dramatic impetus is undermined by having four separate cases for the detectives to solve. Whilst this adds authenticity it makes the viewing hard-going at times. Extensive use of NYC locations, good performances by a strong cast and Savalas’ presence are main strengths. Adams is wasted in a what amounts to little more than a cameo. Compiled from two-part episode from fourth season of Kojak TV series. [PG]

Film Review – KOJAK: A SHIELD FOR MURDER (TV) (1976)

Image result for kojak a shield for murderKojak: A Shield for Murder (TV) (1976; USA; Technicolor; 96m) ***½  d. Jeannot Szwarc; w. William P. McGivern, Robert Malcolm Young; ph. Sol Negrin; m. John Cacavas.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Geraldine Page, Charles Kimbrough, Michael Lombard, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson, George Savalas, Kenneth McMillan, Thom Christopher, Janet Ward, Frederick Coffin, Mary Beth Hurt, Lester Rawlins. A young man is killed by police after he attempts to kill an assistant district attorney at a courthouse. Kojak learns that the young man was a boyfriend of an ice skater who is in prison for the murder of her mother two years before. But when he tries to look further into the case, he gets pressured to drop it, with the orders ultimately coming from a powerful political operative. Highly effective feature-length episode in the Kojak series plays of themes of political greed, corruption and psychological torment. The performances are first-rate – notably Hurt as the tortured victim of the cover-up and Page as the orchestrator. Savalas is a commanding presence in his signature role. From the fourth season of the series. [PG]

Film Review – KOJAK: A QUESTION OF ANSWERS (TV) (1975)

Image result for kojak season threeKojak: A Question of Answers (TV) (1975; USA; Technicolor; 97m) ***½  d. Jerry London; w. Albert Ruben; ph. Sol Negrin; m. John Cacavas.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Eli Wallach, Michael V. Gazzo, Jennifer Warren, Jerry Orbach, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson, George Savalas, Allan Rich, F. Murray Abraham. A man tries to clear his name by helping Kojak trap a loan shark. Strong feature-length entry in the series makes extensive use of New York locations adding authenticity and bite to this deft and downbeat story. Savalas and Wallach excel and are strongly supported by Warren and Orbach. Third season opener for Kojak TV series. [PG]

TV Review – KOJAK: THE CHINATOWN MURDERS (1974)

Image result for kojak season twoKojak: The Chinatown Murders (TV) (1974; USA; Technicolor; 95m) ∗∗∗  d. Jeannot Szwarc; w. Jack Laird; ph. Vilis Lapenieks, Sol Negrin; m. John Cacavas.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Michael Constantine, Sheree North, Tige Andrews, Roger Robinson, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson, George Savalas, Leonardo Cimino, Milton Selzer, Robert Ito, Victor Argo, Vincent Baggetta, Patrick Adiarte, Val Bisoglio. A series of gang-member murders in Chinatown starts a war. Kojak finds out that those murders were blamed on rival gangs in order to take over the territory from old families by a new gang. This feature-length episode opened Kojak’s second season. Despite attempts to inject some scope through its plot, the story is really nothing more than standard TV fare, albeit heightened by Savalas’ charismatic performance and a lean script. [PG]

Film Review Round-up – JOHNNY GUITAR (1954); THE MARCUS-NELSON MURDERS (1973) and THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (2011)

51H5XHQ9HGLJohnny Guitar (1954; USA; Trucolor; 110m) ∗∗∗∗½  d. Nicholas Ray; w. Philip Yordan; ph. Harry Stradling Sr.; m. Victor Young; ed. Richard L. Van Enger.  Cast: Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Scott Brady, Mercedes McCambridge, Ward Bond, Ernest Borgnine, John Carradine, Royal Dano, Ben Cooper. A strong willed female saloon owner is wrongly suspected of murder and bank robbery by a lynch mob, when she helps a wounded gang member. Stylish and original western is superbly directed by Ray and performed by a strong cast with Crawford and McCambridge standouts as feuding strong-willed women. Hayden is also excellent as the gunfighter who has a thing for Crawford. Filmed on location at Sedona, Arizona and at Red Rock Crossing. Entered 2008 into the National Film Registry. Based on the novel by Roy Chanslor. [PG]

41NVPY92GGL._SY300_Marcus-Nelson Murders, The (TV) (1973; USA; Technicolor; 137m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Joseph Sargent; w. Abby Mann; ph. Mario Tosi; m. Billy Goldenberg; ed. Carl Pingitore, Richard M. Sprague.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Marjoe Gortner, José Ferrer, Ned Beatty, Allen Garfield, Lorraine Gary, Roger Robinson, Harriet Karr, Gene Woodbury, William Watson, Val Bisoglio, Antonia Rey, Chita Rivera, Bruce Kirby, Robert Walden. A homicide detective begins to suspect that the black teenager accused of murdering two white girls is being framed by his fellow detectives. Gritty police and courtroom drama is well acted and directed and makes excellent use of the seedier streets of New York. Savalas is compelling amongst a strong cast. Based on the book by Selwyn Raab and an actual case known as the “Career Girl” murders that happened on 28 August 1963. Served as a pilot film for the TV series Kojak (1973-8) only here Savalas’ character’s name is spelled “Kojack”. [15]

5020111000Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The (2011; UK; Colour; 124m) ∗∗∗½  d. John Madden; w. Ol Parker; ph. Ben Davis; m. Thomas Newman; ed. Chris Gill.  Cast: Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup. British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways. Top-notch cast adds great dignity to the story and they are helped by a witty script, which manages to navigate the more predictable and familiar elements.  Based on the novel “These Foolish Things” by Deborah Moggach. [12]