Film Review – THE FOUR MUSKETEERS (THE REVENGE OF MILADY) (1974)

Image result for the four musketeers swordfightTHE FOUR MUSKETEERS (THE REVENGE OF MILADY) (Spain/Panama/USA/UK, 1974) ****½
     Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox (USA), Fox-Rank (UK); Production Company: Alexander, Michael and Ilya Salkind Productions / Film Trust S.A. / Este Films; Release Date: 26 February 1975 (USA), 25 March 1975 (UK); Filming Dates: May-September 1973; Running Time: 108m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35 mm (Eastman 100T 5254); Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
     Director: Richard Lester; Writer: George MacDonald Fraser (based on the novel “The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas); Executive Producer: Ilya Salkind, Alexander Salkind (uncredited); Producer:  Ilya Salkind, Michael Salkind (both uncredited); Associate Producer: Wolfdieter von Stein; Director of Photography: David Watkin; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: John Victor-Smith; Production Designer: Brian Eatwell; Art Director: Leslie Dilley, Fernando González; Costumes: Yvonne Blake; Make-up: José Antonio Sánchez, Cristóbal Criado, Charlene Roberson; Sound: Don Challis, Don Sharpe; Special Effects: Pablo Pérez; Visual Effects: Doug Ferris (uncredited).
     Cast: Oliver Reed (Athos), Raquel Welch (Constance de Bonancieux), Richard Chamberlain (Aramis), Michael York (D’Artagnan), Frank Finlay (Porthos), Christopher Lee (Rochefort), Geraldine Chaplin (Queen Anne of Austria), Jean-Pierre Cassel (Louis XIII), Roy Kinnear (Planchet), Michael Gothard (Felton), Nicole Calfan (Maid Kitty), Ángel del Pozo (Jussac), Eduardo Fajardo (Captain), Simon Ward (Duke of Buckingham), Faye Dunaway (Milady), Charlton Heston (Cardinal Richelieu), Sybil Danning (Eugenie), Gitty Djamal (Beatrice), Jack Watson (Busigny), Bob Todd (Firing Squad Officer), Tom Buchanan (Firing Squad Sergeant), Leon Greene (Swiss Officer), Lucy Tiller (Mother Superior), Norman Chappell (Submarine Inventor), Richard Adams (Tortured Thug), Tyrone Cassidy (English Officer).
     Synopsis: D’Artagnan has become a Musketeer. Protestants hold La Rochelle, and the Queen loves Buckingham, who’ll soon send ships to support the rebels. Richelieu enlists Rochefort to kidnap Constance, the Queen’s go-between and D’Artagnan’s love. The Cardinal uses the wily, amoral Milady de Winter to distract D’Artagnan. But soon, she is D’Artagnan’s sworn enemy, and she has an unfortunate history with Athos as well.
     Comment: Shot at the same time as THE THREE MUSKETEERS (THE QUEEN’S DIAMONDS) – originally it was intended to be one long film with an intermission – this segment covers the second half of Dumas’ novel. As such the tone is slightly darker although the spirit of the first half still permeates via some swashbuckling set pieces, battle scenes and nifty pieces of comedy. The stakes have been raised as Dunaway’s Milady seeks revenge on York’s D’Artagnan and Welch’s Constance after they foiled her attempts to discredit Chaplin’s Queen Anne. Once again the sumptuous production and costume design are wonderfully captured by Watkin’s radiant cinematography and enhanced by Schifrin’s boisterous score. Reed and Dunaway come to the fore and their scenes together add significant depth to the drama. The finale as the Musketeers fight Lee’s Rochefort and the Cardinal’s guards contains some of the best sword fighting in screen history.
     Notes: Followed by THE RETURN OF THE MUSKETEERS (1989).

Film Review – SUDDEN IMPACT (1983)

Image result for sudden impact 1983SUDDEN IMPACT (USA, 1983) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures / The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 8 December 1983 (USA), 27 January 1984 (UK); Filming Dates: 3 May 1983; Running Time: 117m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono | Dolby Digital (5.1); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Joseph Stinson (based on a story by Earl E. Smith & Charles B. Pierce and characters created by Harry Julian Fink and Rita M. Fink); Executive Producer: Fritz Manes; Producer: Clint Eastwood; Associate Producer: Steve Perry; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Marion Dougherty; Production Designer: Edward C. Carfagno; Set Decorator: Ernie Bishop; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Barbara Guedel; Sound: Bub Asman, Alan Robert Murray, Donald F. Johnson; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan), Sondra Locke (Jennifer Spencer), Pat Hingle (Chief Jannings), Bradford Dillman (Captain Briggs), Paul Drake (Mick), Audrie Neenan (Ray Parkins), Jack Thibeau (Kruger), Michael Currie (Lt. Donnelly), Albert Popwell (Horace King), Mark Keyloun (Officer Bennett), Kevyn Major Howard (Hawkins), Bette Ford (Leah), Nancy Parsons (Mrs. Kruger), Joe Bellan (Burly Detective), Wendell Wellman (Tyrone), Mara Corday (Loretta – Coffee Shop Waitress), Russ McCubbin (Eddie), Robert Sutton (Carl), Nancy Fish (Historical Society Woman), Carmen Argenziano (D’Ambrosia), Lisa Britt (Elizabeth), Bill Reddick (Police Commissioner), Lois De Banzie (Judge), Matthew Child (Alby), Mike Johnson (Assassin), Nick Dimitri (Assassin), Michael Maurer (George Wilburn), Pat DuVal (Bailiff), Christian Phillips (Hawkin’s Crony), Steven Kravitz (Hawkin’s Crony), Dennis Royston (Young Guy), Melvin Thompson (Young Guy), Jophery C. Brown (Young Guy), William Upton (Young Guy), Lloyd Nelson (Desk Sergeant), Christopher Pray (Detective Jacobs), James McEachin (Detective Barnes), Maria Lynch (Hostess), Ken Lee (Loomis), Morgan Upton (Bartender), John X. Heart (Uniform Policeman), David Gonzales (Gang Member), Albert Martinez (Gang Member), David Rivers (Gang Member), Robert Rivers (Gang Member), Harry Demopoulos (Dr. Barton), Lisa London (Young Hooker), Tom Spratley (Senior Man), Eileen Wiggins (Hysterical Female Customer), John Nowak (Bank Robber).
      Synopsis: A rape victim is taking revenge on her aggressors in a small town outside San Francisco. Inspector Harry Callahan (Eastwood), on suspension for angering his superiors (again), is assigned to the case.
      Comment: Fourth DIRTY HARRY film is heavy-handed, but entertaining nonetheless. The action has become more violent and cartoonish with the set pieces also increasingly formulaic, but Eastwood’s screen presence is more than enough to carry the movie. Eastwood directs efficiently and the only real weakness is a by-the-numbers script. Locke gives a good portrayal of the victim exacting revenge on her attackers.
      Notes: The screenplay was originally written for a non-Dirty Harry film with Sondra Locke. However, the script, by Earl E. Smith and Charles B. Pierce, was later re-written by Joseph Stinson into this Dirty Harry movie. Fourth in the series following DIRTY HARRY (1971), MAGNUM FORCE (1973) and THE ENFORCER (1976) and followed by THE DEAD POOL (1989).

Film Review – MAGNUM FORCE (1973)

Image result for magnum force 1973MAGNUM FORCE (USA, 1973) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures (USA), Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK); Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 25 December 1973 (USA), 26 December 1973 (UK); Filming Dates: 24 April–late June 1973; Running Time: 124m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Ted Post; Writer: John Milius, Michael Cimino (based on a story by John Milius and original material by Harry Julian Fink and Rita M. Fink); Producer: Robert Daley; Director of Photography: Frank Stanley; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Nessa Hyams (uncredited); Art Director: Jack T. Collis; Set Decorator: John Lamphear; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Joe McKinney; Sound: James R. Alexander; Special Effects: Sass Bedig.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan), Hal Holbrook (Lt. Briggs), Mitchell Ryan (McCoy), David Soul (Davis), Tim Matheson (Sweet), Kip Niven (Astrachan), Robert Urich (Grimes), Felton Perry (Early Smith), Maurice Argent (Nat Weinstein), Margaret Avery (Prostitute), Richard Devon (Ricca), Tony Giorgio (Palancio), Jack Kosslyn (Walter), Bob March (Estabrook), Bob McClurg (Cab Driver), John Mitchum (DiGiorgio), Russ Moro (Ricca’s Driver), Clifford A. Pellow (Guzman), Albert Popwell (Pimp), Christine White (Carol McCoy), Adele Yoshioka (Sunny).
      Synopsis: Eastwood’s Inspector Harry Callahan is on the trail of vigilante cops who are not above going beyond the law to kill the city’s undesirables.
      Comment: Sequel to DIRTY HARRY lacks the style and efficiency of the original, suffering from a sluggish pace at times. However, the set pieces are well-handled and Eastwood commands the screen in his signature role with much to enjoy in his verbal jousts with immediate superior Holbrook. Soul also makes an impression in an early career appearance as one of a group of four rookie cops, which also include Urich, Niven and Matheson. The story would have benefited from tighter editing – alterations and additions had been made to Milius’ original script adding some filler and unnecessary scenes. Schifrin’s memorable propulsive score riffs on his similar work on the first film.
      Notes: Suzanne Somers makes an uncredited appearance as one of the victims in the pool scene early in the film. Film debut of Urich. Second of five films in the series and followed by THE ENFORCER (1976), SUDDEN IMPACT (1983) and THE DEAD POOL (1988).

Film Review – DIRTY HARRY (1971)

Image result for dirty harry 1971DIRTY HARRY (USA, 1971) ****½
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures (US), Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK); Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 21 December 1971 (USA), 30 March 1972 (UK); Filming Dates: 20 April 1971 – 18 June 1971; Running Time: 102m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 15- contains strong violence.
       Director: Don Siegel; Writer: Harry Julian Fink & Rita M. Fink, and Dean Riesner (based on a story by Harry Julian Fink & Rita M. Fink); Executive Producer: Robert Daley; Producer: Don Siegel; Associate Producer: Carl Pingitore; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: Carl Pingitore; Casting Director: ; Art Director: Dale Hennesy; Set Decorator: Robert De Vestel; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Gordon Bau; Sound: William Randall.
       Cast: Clint Eastwood (Harry), Harry Guardino (Bressler), Reni Santoni (Chico), John Vernon (The Mayor), Andrew Robinson (Killer), John Larch (Chief), John Mitchum (De Giorgio), Mae Mercer (Mrs. Russell), Lyn Edgington (Norma), Ruth Kobart (Bus Driver), Woodrow Parfrey (Mr. Jaffe), Josef Sommer (Rothko), William Paterson (Bannerman), James Nolan (Liquor Proprietor), Maurice Argent (Sid Kleinman), Jo de Winter (Miss Willis), Craig Kelly (Sgt. Reineke).
       Synopsis: 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.
      Comment: Classic renegade cop movie was highly Influential and redefined the crime genre for a new generation. Siegel directs an efficient and effective crime thriller in which Eastwood established the blueprint for all maverick cop characters that followed. Much maligned by liberal critics at the time for its approach, it has since grown significantly in reputation for its lean script and Eastwood’s career-defining performance. Robinson is also excellent as the psychotic serial killer. The cat-and-mouse nature of the plot is well realised and leads to a tense finale. The screenplay contains much quotable dialogue and adds depth to the characters as well as addressing its broader message. There is a dynamite jazz-rock music score from Schifrin, which adds significantly to the movie’s style.
      Notes: Serial killer Scorpio was loosely based on the Zodiac killer, who used to taunt police and media with notes about his crimes, in one of which he threatened to hijack a school bus full of children. This was Josef Sommer’s first film. The first of five movies starring Eastwood as Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan. Followed by MAGNUM FORCE (1973), THE ENFORCER (1976), SUDDEN IMPACT (1983) and THE DEAD POOL (1988).

Film Review – STARSKY AND HUTCH (TV) (1975)

Image result for starsky and hutch 1975 pilot movieStarsky and Hutch (TV) (1975; USA; Colour; 73m) ***  d. Barry Shear; w. William Blinn; ph. Archie R. Dalzell; m. Lalo Schifrin.  Cast: David Soul, Paul Michael Glaser, Michael Lerner, Morgan Sterne, Michael Conrad, Antonio Fargas, Richard Ward, Gilbert Green, Carole Ita White, Don Billett, Gordon Jump, Karen Lamm. The two detectives investigating a double homicide, discover that the man and women who died were mistakenly murdered – it was the detectives themselves who were the intended targets. Pilot movie is a success due to the on-screen chemistry between Glaser’s demonstrative Starsky and Soul’s laid-back Hutch. Plot is okay and there is a well-shot finale pumped along by Schifrin’s score. Grittier than the eventual series and showing its influences to the extent that a barroom interrogation scene is almost a direct lift from THE FRENCH CONNECTION. Followed by a TV series (1975-9) and a big screen adaptation in 2004. [15]

Film Review – THE BEGUILED (1971)

Beguiled, The (1971; USA; Technicolor; 109m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Don Siegel; w. John B. Sherry, Grimes Grice; ph. Bruce Surtees; m. Lalo Schifrin.  Cast: Clint Eastwood, Geraldine Page, Elizabeth Hartman, Jo Ann Harris, Darleen Carr, Mae Mercer, Pamelyn Ferdin, Melody Thomas, Peggy Drier. 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. Haunting tale with Eastwood playing against type. Themes of repression, sodomy and sexual frustration are well-handled by Siegel and Page is excellent as a headmistress with her own secrets. Based on the novel by Thomas Cullinan. [15]

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]