Category Archives: Adventure

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Image via Wikipedia

Directed by David Yates
Produced by David Heyman, David Barron & J. K. Rowling
Screenplay by Steve Kloves
Based on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
Starring Daniel Radcliffe
Rupert Grint
Emma Watson
Ralph Fiennes
Alan Rickman
Helena Bonham Carter
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Orchestrator:
Conrad Pope
Themes:
John Williams
Cinematography Eduardo Serra
Editing by Mark Day
Studio Heyday Films
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date 18 November 2010
Running Time 146 minutes
Country United Kingdom & United States
Language English

It’s almost over. Almost a decade ago the first Harry Potter film was released and there is just one more picture to go until it is all finally over. Deathly Hallows part 1 I find to be OK, but it is very different to the other films in the series. There is no Hogwarts or the fun associated with it, while most of the supporting cast are relegated to cameo appearances in the first 10 minutes of the film. The entire movie focusses on the dynamic between Harry, Hermione and Ron. Much of the movie is like one big camping trip with the three main characters and their tent being in the spotlight for a long time. The film is quite slow but it builds and makes the viewer want the final installment now rather than in July.

This Potter film is a lot darker than the rest of the series and there is not much in the way of comic relief as in the other films. This movie feels a lot more like a Lord of the Rings type film than Harry Potter. (I guess JK Rowling based the last book on Tolkien’s work?!)

I must admit that I did not anticipate this film like I have the others in the Potter series. I gave up reading the books after the fifth installment and even though I do have the final two books here at home, I have never really had the inclination to read them. Maybe it’s because of the dread that if I do read them then the story will be finished. (Does that make sense?!)


Lassie Come Home

Lassie Come Home

Image via Wikipedia

Directed by Fred M. Wilcox
Produced by Samuel Marx
Written by Novel:
Eric Knight
Screenplay:
Hugo Butler

Starring Pal
Roddy McDowall
Donald Crisp
Dame May Whitty
Edmund Gwenn
Elizabeth Taylor
Nigel Bruce
Elsa Lanchester
J. Patrick O’Malley

Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof
Cinematography Leonard Smith
Editing by Ben Lewis
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date October 7, 1943
Running time 89 minutes
Language English

Lassie Come Home is the type of movie that we rarely see anymore. It is a film that is accessible to everyone, whether they are 5 years old or 95. It is a classic family film with a great storyline and some real tear-jerking moments.

The movie is set in the depression era Yorkshire and features Lassie, the rough Collie who belongs to the Carraclough family, and in particular young Joe. Unfortunately the family can no longer afford to keep Lassie and have to sell him to the Duke of Rudling. Unfortunately for the Duke Lassie seems to always find a way to escape from his kennels and find her way back to Joe. Even when the Duke takes Lassie to Scotland, she finds a way of escaping and managing to make her way back to Yorkshire. We see all the perils that Lassie faces during her travels and the friendly (and not so friendly) people she encounters along the way.

There are some terrific performances in the film. The best performance is by Pal, the collie who played Lassie. (Pal was a male Collie by the way.) It also features very early performances by Roddy McDowall and Elizabeth Taylor, who were ably supported by veterans Donald Crisp, Elsa Lanchester, Nigel Bruce and Edmund Gwen.


The Prisoner Of Zenda

Directed by John Cromwell
W.S. Van Dyke (uncredited)
Produced by David O. Selznick
Written by Anthony Hope (novel)
Edward Rose
Wells Root
John L. Balderston (screenplay)
Donald Ogden Stewart (additional dialogue)
Ben Hecht (uncredited)
Sidney Howard (uncredited)
Starring Ronald Colman
Madeleine Carroll
C. Aubrey Smith
Raymond Massey
Mary Astor
David Niven
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
Music by Alfred Newman
Cinematography James Wong Howe
Bert Glennon
Editing by James E. Newcom
Distributed by United Artists
Release date September 2, 1937
Running time 101 minutes
Country United States
Language English

This is a really great adventure film to watch. Probably almost as good as The Adventures Of Robin Hood which came out a year or so layer, although it’s action scenes don’t really come until the climax of the film.

Ronald Coleman stars in the dual role of Rudolf Rassendyll and King Rudolf. His performance from this film was memorably parodied by Don Adams in a couple of Get Smart episodes in the 60s, and I must say that Don was very accurate with his interpretation.

I think that the real stand out performance is that by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as the villainous Duke Rupert of Hentzau. He is very charming and likable but evil at the same time. David Niven is also in this film in an early role, but he really doesn’t do very much.

All in all this is a great film which they don’t make any more.


Around the World in 80 Days

Directed by Michael Anderson
Produced by Kevin McClory, William Cameron Menzies & Michael Todd
Written by: Novel: Jules Verne
Screenplay: James Poe, John Farrow & S.J. Perelman
Starring
David Niven
Mario Moreno “Cantinflas”
Robert Newton
Shirley MacLaine
Music by Victor Young
Cinematography Lionel Lindon
Editing by Howard Epstein, Gene Ruggiero & Paul Weatherwax
Distributed by 1956 – 1976: United Artists
1983 – present: Warner Brothers
Release date October 17, 1956
Running time 183 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Around The World In 80 Days is a film that I loved to watch as a kid, despite its very lengthy running time. Watching the film today it doesn’t really hold up as being so special, but it is a fine film nonetheless.

The film follows Jules Verne’s novel with the exception of the scenes in the balloon and the bullfight in Spain, which I gather were done just to give the  fans of the Mexican Cantinflas, who plays Passepartout, something to cheer about. I am not so sure about the choice of Cantinflas to play the ‘worthy fellow’. Verne’s Passepartout is a Parisian, not latino, and unlike the way he is portrayed in the film he is not a skirt chasing comic relief.

I wonder if this could be the reason why I did not enjoy the film this time around. I have recently read and enjoyed the novel and found the film adaptation to be lacking in detail and quite watered down. The film seems to go from one scene to the next without any growth for the characters (Shirley MacLaine’s Aouda is just there and unlike her namesake in the novel adds very little to the plot).  There is really colourful and spectacular scenery and lots of cameos but ultimately while the film is fun, it feels a little empty. It feels very rushed compared to the novel and some vital plotpoints are left out or tweaked. Despite the film being 3 hours long it feels much shorter although some scenes are a little pointless and seemed just designed to show off the special guest star who is playing a cameo rather than furthering the plot. Perhaps if the film spent more time on the plot and of developing the major characters and less on trying to tell the world that a certain guest star is appearing in a particular scene I would have enjoyed the film a little more.


North By Northwest

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Produced by Alfred Hitchcock (uncredited)
Written by Ernest Lehman
Starring Cary Grant
Eva Marie Saint
James Mason
Music by Bernard Herrmann
Cinematography Robert Burks, ASC
Editing by George Tomasini
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) July 28, 1959 (US)
Running time 136 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Along with Psycho and The Birds, North By Northwest is perhaps Alfred Hitchcock’s best known work. Of all of Hitchcock’s films North By Northwest is probably the one that is the most critically acclaimed. It is also the film that contains a couple of the most well-known scenes in all of Hitch’s movies and indeed of all of cinema. While the shower scene from Psycho may be the most famous of Hitchcock’s signature scenes, Cary Grant being chased by the crop duster through the corn field in North By Northwest as well as the backdrop of Mount Rushmore while Grant and Eve Marie Saint battle their would be assassins have both become just as iconic in their own right.

In this exciting movie Cary Grant plays Roger Thornhill, a nobody advertising executive who is mistaken for fictious spy George Kaplan. He is initially kidnapped by a couple of thugs who believe he is the spy Kaplan and who try to murder him. Once he escapes a cat and mouse adventure begins, with Thornhill being chased across the United States as he searches in vain for Kaplan. The film is just thrilling in every sense, with this being one of Grant’s best films. Bernard Herrmann’s score is once again brilliant and matches the excitement of each scene.  In my opinion this is simply a great film that everyone should see once in their lifetime.

* Early in the film watch for a cameo by Ed Platt as Thornhill’s lawyer. A few years later Platt went on to play the Chief in Get Smart, my favourite TV show of all time!!!


The General

Directed by Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton
Produced by Joseph Schenck & Buster Keaton
Written by William Pittenger (memoir)
Screenplay: Al Boasberg, Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton
Uncredited: Charles Henry Smith & Paul Girard Smith
Starring Buster Keaton & Marion Mack
Music by Carl Davis (1987)
Robert Israel (1995)
Joe Hisaishi (2004)
Cinematography Bert Haines & Devereaux Jennings
Editing by Buster Keaton & Sherman Kell (both uncredited)
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s) February 5, 1927
Running time 75 minutes (times vary with different versions)
Country United States
Language Silent film
English intertitles

The General is regarded as Buster Keaton’s greatest masterpiece. In my opinion it is indeed a fine piece of film making that seems to be more of an action or adventure film than a comedy.

The movie is based on true historical events from the American Civil War. It involves the theft of the train The General, by the Union Army and how the group who stole it, Anderson’s Raiders, were pursued by one determined Southerner named Johnnie Gray. The film is very exciting and some of the cinematography is brilliant, considering that the film was made in 1927 and there are a few amusing bits, but nothing really laugh out loud funny. The final chase between the Union train The Texas and The General from back to the south is particularly exciting, as is the blowing up of the Rock River Bridge.

The film is more of an action/adventure film than a comedy. Although it was a critical and box office failure on its release, it is now considered one of the greatest films ever made. I enjoyed the film but more as a historical artefact than as a piece of entertainment. It has moments of excitement and drama but it isn’t really a comedy film.

* 29 years later Disney made their film The Great Locomotive Chase which was also based on these events but from the point of view of the Unionist who stole The General rather than the South.


The Court Jester

Directed by Melvin Frank & Norman Panama
Produced by Melvin Frank & Norman Panama
Written by Melvin Frank & Norman Panama
StarringDanny Kaye
Glynis Johns
Basil Rathbone
Angela Lansbury
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s)January 27, 1956 (1956-01-27)
Running time 101 minutes
Language English

“The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!”

Watching The Court Jester turned into quite a chore, not because it is a bad film, because it is a great musical comedy, but because my partner Priscilla kept interrupting me every time that I tried to watch the film. I am not sure why she kept interrupting me, other than the fact that she can sometimes take attention seeking to another level and make it difficult for me to do the things that I like doing. Sigh!

The movie itself is very enjoyable, with lots of amusing bits of action, music and of course the tongue twisting word play that everyone remembers. The film really is a lot of fun and it never takes itself too seriously. It was also great to see a guy like Basil Rathbone, who was known for his serious roles, having a lot of fun too.

It is amazing but even though Danny Kaye was a star he really only made a handful of really great movies. Of all of the films he made this is undoubtedly the best of all. When The Court Jester was released in 1956 it bombed at the box-office, although Danny Kaye was nominated for a Golden Globe award for best actor in a musical or comedy film. It has become viewed much more favourably thanks to TV, which is where I remember first watching the film on a Sunday afternoon on Bill Collins’ Golden Years Of Hollywood. (Sigh! Wouldn’t it be great if FTA TV would show the classic Hollywood films again?!)


Clash Of The Titans

Directed by Desmond Davis
Produced by Ray Harryhausen & Charles H. Schneer
Written by Beverley Cross
Starring Laurence Olivier
Harry Hamlin
Judi Bowker
Maggie Smith
Ursula Andress
Burgess Meredith
Music by Laurence Rosenthal
Cinematography Ted Moore
Editing by Timothy Gee
Distributed by MGM
Warner Home Video (International DVD)
Release date(s) June 12, 1981
Running time 118 min
Country United States
Language English

Titans will clash. This is the idiotic and uncreative tagline from the new version of Clash Of The Titans, due to be released in April. While I am sure that the new film will be appreciated by those film goers who are able to turn their brains off for two hours, I am sure that I will prefer the original version. Whilst the new version will undoubtedly have lots of cool computer generated characters and use loads of motion capture technology, I prefer watching Ray Harryhausen’s hand crafted and meticulous stop motion animation.

I could lie and say that Ray’s work on this film was state of the art, but in 1981 Ray’s craft had been equalled and surpassed by other creators that he had inspired. Clash Of The Titans looks very quant when compared to The Empire Strikes Back, which was released over twelve months earlier. What looked spectacular in the 1950s and 60s looks rather dated in the 80s, although there are a couple of great moments with Ray’s creations. The scenes where Pegasus is flying look really great as does the scenes with Medusa, while the Kraken looks like a standard Harryhausen giant monster. The only real miscue is Bubo the golden owl who is both annoying and unconvincing in a Jar Jar Binks kind of way.

Still this is a very enjoyable film. There are lots of renowned actors such as Laurence Olivier, Burgess Meredith and Maggie Smith (who looks as old here as she does in the Harry Potter films), as well as a brief appearance of former Bond girl Ursula Andress. It’s a fun movie and there is a lot of action. It is a typical Ray Harryhausen movie. I guess that Gen Yers won’t like this as they would prefer modern crap like Transformers and the worst of Uwe Boll, where there is a lot of fast paced mindless action and blowing shit up for no reason. Those people should just watch the big budget, computer made remake and ignore the original.


Foreign Correspondent

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Produced by Walter Wanger
Written by Memoir: Vincent Sheean
Screenplay: Charles Bennett & Joan Harrison
Dialogue: Robert Benchley & James Hilton
Uncredited: Harold Clurman, Ben Hecht,
John Howard Lawson, John Lee Mahin,
Richard Maibaum &Budd Schulberg
Starring: Joel McCrea
Laraine Day
Herbert Marshall
George Sanders
Albert Basserman
Robert Benchley
Music by Alfred Newman
Cinematography Rudolph Maté
Editing by Dorothy Spencer
Distributed by United Artists
Release date 16 August 1940 (US)
11 October (UK)
Running time 120 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Foreign Correspondent is another of those lesser known Hitchcock films. It was released in 1940 and was nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture, but it has since been overshadowed by Hitch’s other film from 1940, Rebecca.

This is a brilliant spy thriller set in Europe just prior to the start of WWII. There is lots of rollicking action and intrigue and a few of Hitchcock’s set pieces that are excellent examples of film making. The scene where Van Meer is shot in the face is brilliant, as is the scenes involving the windmills and the plane crash at the films finale. However the most disarming thing about Foreign Correspondent are the scenes in which Edmund Gwenn, who in years to come would play Santa Claus in Miracle On 34th Street, playing a hired killer trying to murder Joel McCrea’s heroic Huntley Haverstock. It’s a great action movie, well worth watching.


Treasure Island

Directed by Byron Haskin
Produced by Perce Pearce
Written by Lawrence Edward Watkin
Starring Bobby Driscoll
Robert Newton
Basil Sydney
Finlay Currie
Music by Clifton Parker
Cinematography Freddie Young
Editing by Alan Jaggs
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date(s) July 19, 1950
Running time 96 minutes
Country UK/USA
Language English

“Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!” Treasure Island was Walt Disney’s first wholly live action film and it is a beauty me hearties. Unlike Disney live action films that followed, Treasure Island does not feature any light-hearted comic relief moments, it is just a faithful adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel.

Treasure Island is a rip-roaring swashbuckling pirate movie, but it primarily the story of young Jim Hawkins, played here by Disney’s first child star Bobby Driscoll. Driscoll’s performance is fine, although his American accent is initially a bit annoying, as are some of his weird facial contortions and expressions.

The star of the film is of course Robert Newton who plays the opportunist scoundrel pirate Long John Silver. Newton’s enjoyable performance gives the one-legged rogue a lot of charm, and whilst he is a villain, it is hard to dislike someone who is just so darn likeable. Long John is a bit of a conundrum as while he leads a mutiny and puts Hawkins’s life in danger, he has an affection for the boy and protects him from the other cutthroats, even though he makes it quite clear that the only real loyalty he has is to himself. He really is a fun character and it is clear that Newton is enjoying himself throughout the film.

Treasure Island is a lot of fun to watch. While it is a lot more serious than some of Disney’s later live action productions it is a good and enjoyable film to watch.

* The film must have been successful, at least in Australia, as an Aussie made non-Disney sequel followed in 1954 with Newton reprising his role as the iconic pirate Long John Silver. This will be coming to DVD on February 10th. A TV series also followed.

*Considering it’s popularity in Australia, it is surprising to see that Treasure Island was not released in this country until 15 February 1951, some seven months after it was released in the US.

* Buy Region 4 (Australian) release of  Treasure Island on DVD from EzyDVD for $17.97 *


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