Khartoum (1966 Britain)

This has to be one of the most splendid films ever to come out of Pinewood Studios. Khartoum depicts the last chapter in the remarkable life of Gen. Charles “Chinese” Gordon; another one of those larger-than-life-personages seemingly produced uniquely by Victorian England; such as Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890) or T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia). To that last personage is the best comparison as they were both considered the best commanders of “irregular” forces of their respective times. And like Lawrence of Arabia this film barely scrapes the surface of the man’s life but they couldn’t make it three times longer could they? [Read more…]

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Beneath The Planet Of The Apes (1970 USA)

tumblr_nz8ttify5j1sradg3o1_1280What is it about American astronauts? No sooner do they lock into some time warp than they crash their spaceship! NASA seems to have perfected time travel, but even a bumpy landing seems beyond them. Controversy has always centred around the film’s ending more than any other feature of it. Those who criticize it miss the point – this was intended to be the last apes film. Why? Because it was felt that another movie set in a post-apocalyptic Ape-ruled world would just be ”flogging a dead horse.” One of the greatest features of these films, started by the Statue of Liberty sequence in the original, was that they all contained ”shocker” endings, designed to send a shiver down the spine of the audience.  And this one doesn’t disappoint. [Read more…]

Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes (1972 USA)

conquest2No, this is not an Isis recruitment video although it looks like one with the brightly coloured boiler suits on display. In 1961, writer Rod Sterling was asked “what he’d most like to write about next?” He responded: “I’d like to do a definitive study of segregation, from the Negro’s point of view.” Several years later Sterling would write the screenplay for “Planet of the Apes”, soon turned into a 1968 groundbreaking movie. A “what if the shoe were on the other foot?” parable, the film finds a chauvinistic American astronaut stranded on a planet ruled by apes. Here he’s forced to experience racial discrimination of a type once reserved for blacks. [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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Earthquake (1974 USA)

Earthquake-hestonphoneCo-written by Mario Puzo, the man who re-defined the gangster genre, `Earthquake’ is the quintessential disaster movie. The elements are all there: the large, all-star cast, the pathos, the massive devastation, the many intertwined subplots, the Wagnerian heroes and the ultimate banality. For those who find nothing to enjoy in soap operas, trashy romance novels, or depictions of mass destruction there is nothing here. But for the rest of us this is art. [Read more…]

Planet Of The Apes (1968 USA)

apes(Today is the first anniversary of this blog, btw) Moving on…Planet Of The Apes is such an icon of the late 1960s. This is why 21st century remakes of it do not work. Youngsters today think its just a science fiction story, but this is actually a barometer of what was going on in those days of a rapidly changing society. “Don’t trust anyone over 30” and  “Beards? I don’t go in for fads,” type of cutesy-pie dialogue dates it wonderfully. The satire here does go overboard at times, but everyone seems to really mean what they are saying. Man.

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El Cid (1961 United States/Spain)

elcidAn epic in every sense of the word, `El Cid’, boasts everything one would expect to find in a film of its kind: huge crowd scenes, massive battle sequences, and a strong, controlled presence at its core. It achieves the latter in the form of Charlton Heston, who has carried as many epics on his back as has any actor in Hollywood history. [Read more…]

THE OMEGA MAN (1971 USA)

the_Omega_Man_02What we have right here is a prime sampling of Charlton Heston’s 1970s renaissance.The man. In all his ageing, fading glory. The Omega Man is his best flick,  even surpassing “Planet of the Apes”. No one can do a last-martyr-on-earth number like Chuck. But Heston is also a ham. People tend to either love him or hate him. [Read more…]

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