You Only Live Twice (1967 US/UK)

As I watched “You Only Live Twice,” I developed a nostalgia for many scenes that made the older Bond films work so well. One of the great things about “You Only Live Twice” is that it has the confidence to be quiet. Take Bond’s conversation with Henderson (Charles Gray). Bond walks into Henderson’s home, he asks his contact a few questions, an interesting conversation between the men ensues and then Henderson freezes. Someone threw a knife into his back. “North by Northwest,” also has a man unable to reveal a crucial piece of info because he is suddenly killed. And you know what? Between you, me and the gate post, these scenes never get tired/worn. They are what separates the old world of film from the new. [Read more…]

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Thunderball (Ian Fleming)

The Bond originally conceived by the cinema was very much a creature of the 1960s. Yet the Bond of the books is a man of the 1950s. And like many men in the 1950s, eating an English breakfast 3 times daily and not only being unfit, but unable to even spell the word, seemed to be de rigueur: James is in poor shape it seems, 60 cigarettes a day (think of that in 2017….where would he even find a place to smoke that often!?) do not keep the doctor away. And he drinks like a fish. So M sends him away on a little vacation to recuperate…again. And, of course, each time James goes away to rest, someone tries to take him out. What a life huh? [Read more…]

Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea (1961 USA)

To those who were reared on pre Star Wars sci-fi, it’s hard to grasp the complaints of the modern audience about old time genre flicks and the effects that reside within. Before George Lucas took sci-fi/cinema watching to a different level, involving pacey violence every other frame, mucho explosions and bloated CGI effects: audiences were happily catered for by solid stories, character development and some inspired special effects (for their time). Enter Irwin Allen’s Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea, which boasts all these points mentioned.
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The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad (Britain 1974)

golden-voyage-of-sinbadIf you are looking for an enjoyable adventure, full of swashbuckling heroics, colourful characters, and of course the battle of good versus evil, then you’ve found it. All aspects of the production contribute to a fantastic tale of conflict, destiny and glory. This is one of a series of Ray Harryhausen (animator/story) movies about Sinbad, the legendary sailor. In the first ten minutes this film shows its true colours as a fantasy. It will pull you in and keep you musing, wondering, and entertained mostly all the way through. [Read more…]

Swiss Family Robinson (1960 USA)

sfrGorgeous production with Disney all-star-cast , funny sequences and spectacular adventures. The treatment of its subject (survival on a desert island) is overly wholesome and unrealistic of course. The family seems to be treating the whole situation like the perfect holiday. Even in the face of many hardships they all remain surprisingly cheerful. And the parents have an annoying habit of calling each other “Mother” and “Father”, even when they’re alone. But we must take it for what it is – good old fashioned, clean fun played out on a widescreen.
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Two Brothers (2004 France)

deadly_mongooseFour paws good, two legs not so good…if you’re out to demonstrate that animals are better than people, then by all means, make ‘Two Brothers’ your prize exhibit. Just as the ‘Incredible Journey’ showed us decades beforehand, animals, when given the right elbow room, are simply fantastic when it comes to film. They have the power to transform minimal, routine story lines  into gripping, engaging and dazzling delights, simply by being themselves. [Read more…]

Moby Dick (1956 USA)

moby dick 1956I declare war on all the remakes. To you teenyboppers wondering which version – this is the best. And if anyone is still smirking at the title they can leave this blog now or I will smite thee! (Don’t laugh) Supposedly Herman Melville’s masterpiece was impossible to turn into a film script. Supposedly director John Huston was too tyrannical and stubborn during the filming and spent a lot more time and budget than he was allowed to. Supposedly none of the actors playing the most crucial roles deliver good performances and don’t bring any justice to their characters as described in the book. I say tish and pish to all of these objections! [Read more…]

Incident At Victoria Falls (1992 Europe/International)

incidentIf you didn’t know better, you’d take this for one of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot stories. Just add twenty years and make the hero short and squat instead of so tall and narrow that he seems to be on stilts. Imagine Holmes and Watson in pith helmets and white suits, tramping through the jungle in an exotic location. But really, this TV movie is not to be taken seriously. Its a light-hearted romp with an enjoyable train journey as the highlight. [Read more…]

Planet Of The Apes (1974)

POA 1No, this was not a show about the possibilities of ANC rule in South Africa. This had much lower crime stats and more solid infrastructure. Two astronauts end up on earth in the future and befriend a chimpanzee. One of the astronauts is the dark haired, wise-cracking guy, the other one a serious, considerate, blonde guy. Starsky & Hutch in other words. This means that the feeling of doom which the films had is lightened here. (The dude who plays Burke really is a burk with his irritating personality and corny dialogue – I wanted the Apes to shoot the slimy creep but, alas, they never did… not all child hood dreams come true.) [Read more…]

The Three Musketeers (1973/74 Spain/Panama/UK)

61163_Raquel_Welch_0_The_Four_Musketeers_16_122_34Of the countless screen versions of this classic French tale, this one (paired with the sequel “The Four Musketeers”) comes closest to the vision and spirit and story of the novel. There are still some variations, but, for the most part this succeeds very well, even improving on things occasionally. Director Richard Lester pulls off a marvelous adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’s venerable classic cloak and dagger novel.
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