From Russia With Love (1963 Britain)

You don’t review James Bond movies, you evaluate them, rate them according to how well they meet expectations. Today, the Bond franchise is second only to Star Wars in value, and second only to Godzilla in number of films. It’s MGM’s mainstay, and its title role is among the most coveted in the British film industry. But at the beginning, it was far from clear that it would be this way. Dr. No, while hardly a flop, was also less than a resounding success. It did decent box office, but reviews were mixed, and Ian Fleming himself was reported to be somewhat unhappy with the result. If the second Bond wasn’t an improvement, the series might not have continued much longer. But From Russia with Love was better, in practically every way, an interesting fact considering that it had the same director and leading man. [Read more…]

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The Day Of The Jackal (1973 Britain/France)

Oubliez le remake 1997 de la merde. En fait oublier que Bruce Willis existe même. This is a wonderful, organic piece of thriller-narrative film-making. Over 2 hours, mostly without music, no patronizing voice-over or script-embedded exposition. Consequently, those moments where we’re not entirely sure what’s happening act as moments of suspense, not so much twists as notches in the grain of the plot. What I like most about the film is its pace. The economy with which the director Fred Zinneman tells the story is stripped right down. He allows the story to breathe inside the viewer. What else do I like about it? No CGI – hurray! No botox – bravo! No Hollywood/PC multi-culturalism to make races with brown or yellow skin feel ‘included’ in a story which isn’t theirs – wonderful! No smarmy wisecracks either. [Read more…]

The Great Escape (1963 USA)

greatescape6-061315By 1963 audiences were becoming bored with re-living heroic World War Two exploits, Teenage filmgoers were too young to remember it and were tired of seeing their dads’ er…’doings’, (yuck! – sorry) which made their own lives feel smaller & duller. But “The Great Escape” depicted a failed breakout from an inglorious captivity. It managed to combine the expected set pieces of tension and ‘doings’ (yuck again!) with an incipient 60’s individualism. [Read more…]

The Raven (1963 USA)

raven02An absurd adventure – styled comedy. The plot is thinner than a supermodel’s waistline and even at 85 minutes it outstays its welcome. But I will be kind. Edgar Allen Poe may have turned in his grave, but the rest of us get to have fun as we see horror gods Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre, not to mention Jack Nicholson ham it up in style as the weird and wonderful cast of this very silly story of wizards and hocus pocus. [Read more…]

I tre volti della paura (1963 Italy)

bk 1963You can’t speak Italian? Neither can I, so “Black Sabbath” it is. 1945’s Dead of Night introduced horror cinema to omnibus films, and Black Sabbath brought it back! Italian produced films were making a lot of money in the early 1960s and former cinematographer / horror genius Mario Bava was brought in to direct this compendium of horror tales. [Read more…]

Death Of A President (William Manchester)

47843This old and rather musty smelling book takes the reader on a painstaking – and possibly stomach churning – journey encompassing six days in the autumn of 1963 (November 20-25). With an incredible amount of facts and rarely revealed tidbits of information concerning the shocking murder of JFK popping up on nearly every page. [Read more…]

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