Planet Of The Apes is one of those sci-fi films that everyone has seen or at least knows about. It is perhaps one of my favourite sci-fi films and I think that Charlton Heston is great in it. I especially like the ending where Chuck discovers… well that would be spoiling the film. This is so much better that the Tim Burton remake from a few years ago.
Yeah, I know that I haven’t really said much here, suffice to say that it is a very good film.
Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske & Wolfgang Reitherman
Produced by Walt Disney
Written by Bill Peet
& Dodie Smith (novel)
Starring Rod Taylor
Betty Lou Gerson
Music by George Bruns & Mel Leven
Studio Walt Disney Productions
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release date January 25, 1961
Running time 79 minutes
One Hundred and One Dalmatians is a good way to spend an hour and a bit. It is typical Disney fare from the 50s/60s period. It is not a masterpiece but just an enjoyable film. Cruella De Ville is an enjoyable villain but I feel that she could have been given a bit more screen-time, while her theme song is great. (Especially the Dr. John version that is not featured in the film but the 1996 live-action version of 101 Dalmatians!)
One thing that I was not too happy about was the amount of rotoscoping in this picture. For those who aren’t up to date on rotoscoping, it is basically when animators trace over live action film, frame by frame. Usually they do this to make a characters movement look more believable, although it does take away a lot of the cartoony-ness from animated films and to my eyes looks a bit out-of-place. This is just my opinion, but I feel that the rotoscope was used a little too much on One Hundred and One Dalmatians.
Directed by Jim O’Connolly
Produced by Charles H. Schneer & Ray Harryhausen
Starring James Franciscus
Music by Jerome Moross
Cinematography Erwin Hillier
Editing by Henry Richardson & Selwyn Petterson
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date September 3, 1969
Running time 96 minutes
Country United States
You would think that any movie that combines cowboys with dinosaurs would be the best film ever made, but that is not the case with Valley Of Gwangi. This is not to say that it is a bad movie, it just doesn’t live up to the potential of the premise of the film. It takes 45 minutes until Gwangi, an Allosaurus (not a T-rex), appears.
Despite all this the film is still pretty good. It is impossible to dislike anything that features the stop-motion magic of Ray Harryhausen, although he is not at the top of his game here. Some of the animation is a bit jerky and not as smooth as it should be, for example with the flight of the Pteradactyl or in the scenes where Gwangi battles the elephant. Despite this the film is still enjoyable.
Directed by Nathan H. Juran
Produced by Charles H. Schneer
Written by Nigel Kneale (screenplay)
H.G. Wells (story)
Starring Lionel Jeffries
Music by Laurie Johnson
Cinematography Wilkie Cooper
Editing by Maurice Rootes
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date November 20, 1964
Running time 103 mins
Country United Kingdom
First Men In The Moon is a 1864 adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel featuring the great stop motion animation of Ray Harryhausen. It is an exciting film, even though at times Lionel Jeffries overacts.
This is typical 1950s/60s sci-fi stuff, with the ending sort of pinched from War Of The Worlds. Harryhausen’s monsters are perhaps not as threatening as in the Sinbad movies or Jason and the Argonauts, with the only real threat being the brief scene with a giant caterpillar-like moon cow. The other creatures created by Harryhausen are the insect like moon people called the Selenites.
The film is interesting and entertaining and a faithful adaptation of H.G. Wells’ work, but it is a change of pace from Ray Harryhausen’s usual film making magic.
Directed by Gordon Douglas
Produced by Frank Sinatra
Written by David R. Schwartz
Starring Frank Sinatra
Sammy Davis, Jr.
Edward G. Robinson
Music by Nelson Riddle
Cinematography William H. Daniels
Editing by Sam O’Steen
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date June 24, 1964 (U.S. release)
Running time 123 min.
Robin And The Seven Hoods is nothing more than a vanity project for Frank Sinatra and the ‘Rat Pack’ in which Frank gets to fulfil his fantasy on screen by playing a gangster.
This movie is supposed to be a musical comedy but it’s really not that funny and with the exception of Frank singing ‘My Kind Of Town’ the songs aren’t that great. The film is a bit of a mish-mash in that it doesn’t know whether it is a film for adults with the gangster theme and talk about people being killed, or a family film with songs and a kid-centric sub-plot that is very annoying. The movie is still interesting in its own way due to the charm and personality of its stars Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy David Jr., as well as Bing Crosby and Peter Falk. Like all ‘Rat Pack’ movies the guys basically just play themselves but here, with the exception of Frank, neither Dino or Sammy receive nearly enough screen time in my opinion. Peter Falk has more screen time as Dean and Sammy combined.
I guess that the really interesting story in regards to Robin And The Seven Hoods is what happened behind the scenes and why Peter Lawford was not a part of the film. He was scheduled to play the part that eventually went to Bing Crosby and was cut from the film by Sinatra because Frank felt that Lawford’s brothers’ in law, President John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy snubbed him by not staying at his house. The Kennedy’s were going to stay with Sinatra but got cold feet due to a few of Frank’s indiscretions and with him openly cavorting with real life Mafioso. Brother-in-Lawford was unofficially kicked out of the ‘Rat Pack’ and ostracised by Sinatra.
Overall the film is not great but it is watchable although it is probably half an hour too long.
- Victor Buono who plays Deputy Sherriff Potts went on to play King Tut in the Batman TV series. Caesar Romero who starred in the previous ‘Rat Pack’ movie Oceans 11 also appeared in the Batman TV series as The Joker.
- This film probably holds a record for having the most actors who have a ‘glass eye’. Sammy Davis Jr. lost his left eye as a result of a car accident in 1954, while Peter Falk had his right eye removed at the age of three because of a tumour.
Directed by Howard Hawks
Produced by Howard Hawks & Paul Helmick
Written by Harry Kurnitz
Starring John Wayne
Music by Henry Mancini
Cinematography Russell Harlan
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date October 6, 1962
Running time 157 min
Hatari is another manly John Wayne movie. It’s not as manly as The Quiet Man, but it is pretty close. Of course John Wayne is a man’s man, even if there are photos of him wearing women’s clothing which somehow hasn’t made it to the internet yet! (Perhaps he is so manly that the internet refuses to believe that he was into transvetitism!). Hatari is such a manly film that even the woman act manly, no matter how hot they are. In one scene that lasted about five minutes Elsa Martinelli smokes three cigarettes and drinks a beer. The film is just dripping with testosterone.
Seriously it is an enjoyable, although overlong, film. There are lots of exotic animals and dangers in the African savannah and there is also a lot of good-natured humour. With John Wayne you always know what you are going to get as he always plays the same type of character. Perhaps he didn’t need much of an acting range since he was so manly?!
I should also mention the music and that at the end of the film we are treated to Mancini’s Baby Elephant Walk and the sight of three cute baby elephants running amok. All in all an enjoyable way to waste 2 1/2 hours and best thing is that you can get the DVD from Big W for less than ten bucks.
Directed by Frank Tashlin
Produced by Jerry Lewis
Written by Frank Tashlin
Starring Jerry Lewis
Anna Maria Alberghetti
Editing by Arthur P. Schmidt
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date December 16, 1960
Running time 91 min.
I didn’t know that Jerry Lewis was in town when I bought this from Target on Sunday. All I knew was that I had been wanting it for a little while but was too stingy to pay $30 for it in JB Hifi. Currently this and some other Jerry Lewis films are on sale in Target for $7, which is a bargain.
I must make mention of the film’s director Frank Tashlin. He had quite an interesting career in Hollywood. He started out as an animator and a newspaper strip cartoonist and helped Warner Bros. develop the Looney Tunes brand of humour. He also briefly worked at Disney before going to Columbia briefly to head up their animation department. He returned to Warners where he directed some of the funniest cartoons of all time including the brilliant Puss ‘N’ Booty.
He then left animation for live action, becoming a gag man for Harpo Marx and Lucille Ball before directing movies starring Bob Hope, Doris Day and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. He was also an author and wrote a book on animating as well as another children’s book. Phew…
Cinderfella is a typical Jerry Lewis outing with Jerry playing the Cinderella role until his fairy godfather, Ed Wynn, pays him a visit. There are lots of silly gags and Jerry also gets to sing (his voice aint bad either). Overall it’s not a bad way to spend 80 minutes.
Directed by George Pál
Produced by George Pál
Written by David Duncan
H. G. Wells (novel)
Music by Russell Garcia
Editing by George Tomasini
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date 17 August 1960
Running time 103 minutes
Country United Kingdom
The Time Machine is a sci-fi film made in 1960 by George Pal and stars Robert Taylor. It roughly follows the plot of H.G. Wells’ novel from the late 19th century in which an inventor creates a time machine and goes into the future to discover that mankind has torn itself apart through war. It does of course deviate away from the novel as it features scenes of World War I, World War II and the possibility of nuclear annihilation, things that Wells could not have possibly predicted.
When Taylor’s character H. George Wells goes into the future (1966 to be exact) and discovers that the world has been destroyed in a nuclear holocaust, he then decides to go thousands of years into the future to see i anything could have survived this destruction. He discovers that the human race has split into two species, the surface dwelling Eloi who are beautiful and seemingly carefree and ignorant, and the underground Morlocks, who are ugly and beastly and cruel. The Eloi have everything that they need provided to them by the Morlocks, who breed them like cattle only to cannibalise on them once they reach an age of maturity.
George ends up saving the Eloi and destroying the Morlocks and in doing so falls in love with the beautiful Eloi girl Weena. He then goes back to his own time where he relates his tale but is not believed by his friends. Because of this he returns to the future at the conclusion of the film.
The film is a typical 1960s type sci-fi film, of which their were hundreds. It is a very good fantsy film but the special effects are not all that special by 21st century standards. The use of stop motion animation and time-lapse photography is very quant when compared to today’s CGI but it was state of the art for its time. All in all the film is quite enjoyable as there has been a lot of thought put into the plot and the feelings of Taylor’s character. While the acting is a bit over the top, which was standard for 1950s and 60s sci-fi I still liked the movie.
By the way you may recognise Alan Young who plays Wells’ friend Filby. You may even recognise the Scottish accent he uses throughout the film. At around the same time that the Time Machine was released he was appearing in the first season of TV’s Mr. Ed as Wilbur Post. Since the 1980s he has lent his voice and Scottish accent to Uncle Scrooge McDuck for Disney.
Directed by David Swift
Produced by Walt Disney (uncredited)
Associate Producer: George Golitzen
Written by Novel: Eleanor Porter
Screenplay: David Swift
Starring Hayley Mills
Music by Paul Smith
Cinematography Russell Harlan
Editing by Frank Gross
Distributed by Buena Vista
Distribution Release date May 19, 1960
Running time 134 minutes
Country United States
Pollyanna was released into cinemas 50 years ago last Monday. You would think that Disney would be making a big song and dance about this popular and well remembered film reaching the half century mark but it seems that the Walt Disney Company does not really value its past live action films. Heck, Disney doesn’t really value its animated classics either, and simply views them as a cash cow to be released on video or DVD every seven years. In fact it is pretty obvious that all Disney cares about these days is making horrendous live action teen comedies that can sell heaps of merchandise. I doubt that a film like Pollyanna would be made today as it would be difficult to fit in any fart jokes or sell merchandise with the sweet story.
One thing that I think needs to be said is that despite Disney’s reputation today as being just kids stuff, he could still get the biggest stars to appear in his films. Fine actors such as Jane Wyman and Karl Malden appear as do Agnes Moorehead and Ed Platt, who went on to play the Chief of Control in Get Smart but played supporting roles in a number of major films (including a brief part as Cary Grant‘s lawyer in Hitchcock’s North By Northwest). However the real star of the film is Hayley Mills, who played the little girl whose positive attitude brought a whole town together. She is really good in this film and went on to become a huge child star in the 1960s, mainly in other Disney films.
This is a very entertaining film, in the Disney tradition, it’s just a shame that Disney today doesn’t really care at all about it.
I am currently trying to write up a post on This Is Spinal Tap, which I watched the other day. This got me to thinking about the genre of Rock ‘N’ Roll movies and in particular those that for some reason or another you rarely get to see.
One movie that I have always been curious to see is The Beatles’ Let It Be, as this is a film that shows the greatest of all rock groups disintegrating on film. I’ve heard that the film isn’t that great but I have always been curious to see it. Unlike The Beatles’ other feature films, A Hard Days Night, Help! and Yellow Submarine and the TV special The Magical Mystery Tour, Let It Be has never been officially released on home video or DVD or screened on television. A DVD release was imminent a couple of years ago but this was vetoed by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr because it was thought that its release could tarnish The Beatles global image as well as reopening some old wounds. Apparently some bootlegs of the film are available but these are not official releases.
The Rolling Stones’ Cocksucker Blues is a film that was made of their 1972 North American tour. It was going to be released to cinemas BUT as the finished film features lots of images of sex and drugs without the Rock ‘N’ Roll. There was no way that this film could ever be released and it can only be screened with director Robert Frank present. Naturally enough the censored version is available to view on Youtube.
Another Rolling Stones film that rarely is seen is the documentary Gimme Shelter, which focuses on their 1969 tour and the disastrous free concert at Altamont. This film captures the murder of Meredith Hunter by a member of the Hells’ Angels, who the Stones chose to be security, on film. Jagger has since said that he feared for his own life whilst performing that night as well.