Monthly Archives: September 2010

Murder On the Orient Express

Directed by Sidney Lumet
Produced by John Brabourne
Written by Novel: Agatha Christie
Screenplay: Paul Dehn
Uncredited: Anthony Shaffer
Starring Albert Finney
Lauren Bacall
Sean Connery
Ingrid Bergman
Michael York
Vanessa Redgrave
Jacqueline Bisset
Richard Widmark
John Gielgud
Anthony Perkins
Martin Balsam
Rachel Roberts
Wendy Hiller
Denis Quilley
Colin Blakely
Jean-Pierre Cassel
George Coulouris
Music by Richard Rodney Bennett
Cinematography Geoffrey Unsworth
Editing by Anne V. Coates
Studio EMI Films
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date November 24, 1974
Running time 128 min.
Country
United Kingdom
Language English

This film is OK, but I don’t think it is as great as it could have been. It has one of the most star-studded casts in Hollywood history yet they ham it up and act way over the top for the film to be taken too seriously. I really cannot stand Albert Finney in his role as Hercule Poirot. I feel that Peter Ustinov was much better in the later Death On The Nile. I also like the TV version of Poirot, David Suchet, but Finney just doesn’t nail the part at all. I find him to be quite bland and he really doesn’t nail Poirot’s Belgian accent at all.

The other actors all have what really amounts to cameos. Lauren Bacall hams her part up a lot and is quite annoying, as is Anthony Perkins, while Ingrid Bergman’s performance is really rather strange. Sean Connery, Michael York, John Gielgud and Vanessa Redgrave don’t really get enough screen time to do anything too impressive.

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Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!

Directed by Mark Hartley
Produced by Craig Griffin & Michael Lynch
Written by Mark Hartley
Music by Stephen Cummings
Cinematography
Germain McMicking & Karl von Moller
Editing by Jamie Blanks, Sara Edwards & Mark Hartley
Distributed by Madman Entertainment
Release date 28 August 2008
Running time 103 minutes
Country Australia
United States
Language English

This is an interesting documentary that looks at some of the exploitation films made in Australia in the 70s & 80s. It’s really amazing how much crap our film industry made in what was supposed to have been its golden age. It seems that if an Aussie film wasn’t filled with gratuitous nudity it would be filled with gratuitous violence. One thing that is glaringly obvious is that very few of the films mentioned are any good, but it is still a watchable doco.


Ride ‘Em Cowboy

Directed by Arthur Lubin
Produced by Alex Gottlieb
Written by True Boardman & John Grant
Starring Bud Abbott
Lou Costello
Dick Foran
Anne Gwynne
Ella Fitzgerald
Music by Frank Skinner
Cinematography John W. Boyle
Editing by Philip Cahn
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date February 20, 1942
Running time 86 minutes
Language English

Ride ‘Em Cowboy is a 1942 Abbott & Costello comedy that is funny in places but it does feel some boring musical pieces. One bright spot is the number featuring Ella Fitzgerald. I wish that she had of been given a bigger role than just being relegated to the background and singing one number, as well as the duet with the Merry Macs.

Abbott & Costello are quite funny in this, although there are a number of jokes involving native American Indians that today would be considered politically incorrect. Lou Costello is not as annoying as he was in Hold That Ghost, which came out a year earlier, and is funnier. The abuse that Bud gives Lou has also been toned down a lot since that earlier movie.


Never Give A Sucker An Even Break

Directed by Edward F. Cline
Starring W.C. Fields
Gloria Jean
Margaret Dumont
Franklin Pangborn
Leon Errol
Music by Charles Previn & Frank Skinner
Cinematography Charles Van Enger
Editing by Arthur Hilton
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date 10 October 1941
Running time 71 min.
Country U.S.
Language English

Never Give A Sucker An Even Break is a quite surreal film in that W.C. Fields is playing himself trying to pitch a film. It has quite a few funny scenes but is a little uneven. The bits where he’s discussing his script with Franklin Pangborn are amusing but the movie that Fields had envision is quite weird (I guess that’s the point!).

I could compare this film to a Marx Bros. film as it mixes music with the comedy. In Never Give A Sucker An Even Break Fifteen year old Gloria Jean sings some light operatic songs, but unlike those types of songs in the Marx’s films, these musical interludes are not completely boring, which I guess is testament to the fact that Ms. Jean had some semblance of a personality, which can rarely be said for the singers in the Marx films. The songs here are just as mind-numblingly boring as those in Marx Bros. films, but in one scene in particular Ms. Jean actually pokes fun at this fact by showing how bored she is with the song. There is so much other funny stuff going on in the background that you don’t have to hit the fast forward button. Considering she was so young and seemed to be a talented actress and singer, I wonder why she did not appear in many more films.

Another comparison to the Marx Bros. is that Fields tries to woo Margaret Dumont in order to become wealthy. This is part of his script for his fictional film. Unlike Groucho though, Fields comes to his senses when he sees just what he’s gotten himself into. Another contrast here is that Ms. Dumont really isn’t playing the straight man to Fields here and that she is in on the joke. Perhaps Fields included this element to satirize the Marx Bros. films? He does mention Groucho by name in an early scene.

This is a funny yet weird film. The parts that are not Fields’ fantasy seem to work the best.
Never Give A Sucker An Even Break is a part of the W.C. Fields Comedy Collection Volume 2 with The Man On The Flying Trapeze, You’re Telling Me, The Old Fashioned Way and Poppy. This DVD box set is available from Amazon for $43.99. You can purchase it by clicking here…


Tim Burton’s Hansel & Gretel

Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melb...

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Written by The Brothers Grimm
Directed by Tim Burton
Produced by Julie Hickson & Rick Heinrichs
Original channel The Disney Channel
Original run October 31, 1983

This short early film by Tim Burton is being shown at ACMI as a part of the Tim Burton exhibition at Federation Square. I had never seen it before. It is a Burton-esque version of the Grimm’s fairy tale and has a few amusing moments. It runs for about 20 minutes and combines live-action with stop motion animation, although it is mostly live-action. Like most things Burton, it is slightly weird.


Vincent

The Nightmare Before Christmas

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Directed by Tim Burton
Produced by Rick Heinrichs
Written by Tim Burton
Narrated by Vincent Price
Music by Ken Hilton
Cinematography Victor Abdalov
Studio Walt Disney Productions
Distributed by Touchstone Home Video
Buena Vista Distribution
Release date UK 1982
Running time 5 minutes 52 seconds
Country USA
Language English

I saw Vincent last week as a part of the Tim Burton exhibition that is currently on at ACMI in Federation Square, Melbourne. (I also have it on DVD as an extra on The Nightmare Before Christmas) It’s a great six-minute stop motion animated film that shows where Burton would be headed in his career. It features great narration from Vincent Price and the animation is very good.


Destino

The Persistence of Memory is one of the most f...

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Directed by Dominique Monféry
Produced by Baker Bloodworth & Roy E. Disney
Written by Salvador Dalí, John Hench & Donald W. Ernst
Music by Armando Dominguez
Music Adaptation: Michael Starobin
Editing by Jessica Ambinder-Rojas
Studio Disney Studios France
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Release date USA: December 19, 2003
France:  June 1, 2003

Destino was a collaboration between Disney and Salvador Dali that commenced in 1945/46 but was unfinished. They had storyboarded it but due to financial difficulties and the war the project was cancelled. It was resurrected in 2000 by Roy Disney and finally premiered in 2003.

It has not been released onto DVD yet, although it could be an extra release with the forthcoming Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 release next year. It was supposed to have been a part of the Walt Disney Treasures line but that never came to fruition. It is quite interesting and very Dali-esque. Destino was a part of the National Gallery Of Victoria‘s 2009 Dali exhibition; Liquid Desires.