The weather where I am has been pretty bad, with almost non stop rain. Whenever it is a dat like this, I busy myself with thoughts regarding media, movies and television. Today my mind came on the trends in movie and television that are growing tiresome. For me, reality TV is a real drag as I find it false and overly manufactured. But what trend in movies and television is getting a bit old hat or pointless to you? Hopefully this image of me contemplating helps.
For my second entry into the blogathon after Sea Wife, I took it upon myself to review the movie known as The Stud.
- Joan Collins as Fontaine Khaled
- Oliver Tobias as Tony Blake
- Sue Lloyd as Vanessa Grant
The Stud is basically a soft core fantasy from a book by Jackie Collins, with no basis in reality and a let down in case of what it promises, Joan Collins at least provides some respite with a role similar to what we generally think of when her name is mentioned.
Fontaine Khaled is the beautiful wife of a wealthy businessman, who enjoys sex a lot and frequently with the manager of her nightclub. This man is Tony Blake, the eponymous stud, who can’t resist her and keeps coming back to satisfy. Fontaine knows how to play Tony like a fiddle and enjoys toying with him for her own delight. Tony also wants to start his own club, but never seems to succeed with it. While sleeping with other women, he is mostly on hand to supply the pleasure for his boss. However, Tony has grown tired of Fontaine and turns his attentions to her stepdaughter Vanessa, who resents her stepmother. Yet Fontaine is crafty and is perfectly adept at turning Tony’s life upside down when needed. Things obviously don’t turn out in a tidy fashion for Tony.
Quentin Masters contributes a muddled direction that does nothing to help the already labored movie. He can’t decide whether he wants the film to be sleazy or make a point about the lifestyles of the jet set crowd. Masters could have done better, especially as the story(what there is of it) is largely about the sex and not much else. The confusion also abounds in the visual style that is at times high key and then too dimly lit. It might have been better to just stick to one thing and not try to be something that it isn’t. The Stud is pretty laughable if it is attempting to say something, as the dialogue is stilted and unconvincingly clunky. While scenes of naughtiness are featured, but you expect more from an erotic movie than what’s presented. Yes the orgy scene is completely crazy and the lift sex is hot, but it can all feel frightfully dull. And that is one thing you don’t want with an erotic movie. The disco/funk score is pretty cool however and the various club scenes have a lot of energy and groove to them. It may smell of kitsch, but the music will get your foot tapping if nothing else.
What brings The Stud to some level of guilty pleasure is Joan Collins. This revitalised her career and established her as the go to lady for sassy and sexy vamps. Collins has this wicked gleam in her eyes and sexual energy that transcends the trite story here. Plus, she is completely comfortable with being revealing and not hiding her body, looking effortlessly fabulous and seductive throughout. Without Joan Collins, The Stud would simply be unwatchable. Oliver Tobias, while possessing a handsome face, is pretty flat and wooden as the supposed charmer. It’s pretty hard to believe that so many women fall at his feet, especially when his work is so lifeless and lacking any vigorous sexuality. Sue Lloyd is also beautiful to look at, but pretty bland in the scale of things. The main feature and the best one is Joan Collins.
No one will think of The Stud as something deep or at all plausible( it’s hardly even a good movie), but the presence of Joan Collins at her sexy, devious best is what makes it at least bearable.
The wonderful Gill and Cat invited me to take part in their Then and Now blogathon. I decided to review two movies, twenty years a part to fit in with the theme. As Joan Collins featured on one of the banners, it seemed only right to review two movies starring the great lady. The first up is Sea Wife.
- Joan Collins as Sea Wife
- Richard Burton as Biscuit
- Basil Sydney as Bulldog
- Cy Grant as Number Four
An adventure drama from the 50’s that may not be high art and a tad disjointed, Sea Wife is nonetheless a worthwhile enough movie that holds the attention for its relatively short running time.
In 1942, a cargo ship in Singapore is boarding people before the Japanese Army arrives. They are however soon under attack, causing everyone to evacuate the boat. One a lifeboat, four disparate people end up escaping and separated from everyone else. None of them are really referred to by their real names, instead we get to know them through the nicknames they assign each other. There is military Officer Biscuit, beautiful Sea Wife( who is secretly a nun), bigoted businessman Bulldog and black purser Number Four. Frictions and tensions quickly rise as Bulldog and his prejudiced views belittle Number Four. Also, Biscuit begins to fall in love with Sea Wife, unaware that she is really a nun and is bound by her vows to God. Following being nearly thrown overboard in a storm, near starvation and desperation, they eventually end up washed onto an island. And while they all attempt to think of ways to make it back to civilisation, events take a tragic turn.
Bob McNaught and his direction are passable and do the job, yet can feel rather labored and in need of a fixer upper. The opening stretches of Sea Wife are the best areas of the film, with the attack of the ship and the subsequent introductions to the characters ending up quite fascinating. Sea Wife, while dated, is quite surprising since good doesn’t always triumph over bad here. In most old movies, good often prevails but in Sea Wife there is a definite melancholy to it that marks it out as something different. Plus, the topic of racism is approached with depth and a sensitivity rarely seen in a 50’s movie. Yet there are definitely some parts of the overall product that could have been improved. The sentimental nature is laid on a bit too thick in stretches and I think my biggest gripe was that events, especially when concerning the latter stages, feel rushed in comparison with the parts where we get to know the characters. A tad more expansion and some more back story for all of them would have been a blessing to this film. The flashback device is pretty nifty and well employed, while lending a bit more depth than what the script often gives us. Focusing on the attempts of Biscuit to find Sea Wife after the tumultuous events on the island, it gives more nuance to the film than it really should have. The music score for the film has a real sweeping quality to it, that I really enjoyed and found beautiful to listen to.
As the eponymous character, Joan Collins is the main focal point of the film. Although known primarily for playing super bitches and glamour goddesses, it’s somewhat refreshing to see a very young Joan Collins in a serene and sincere role. There’s a real sweetness to her here and her beautiful face often speaks volumes in terms of feeling. If you’ve only ever thought of Joan Collins as the aforementioned diva, please check out Sea Wife to see another side to her. You may be surprised to see her play a nun, but it actually works. The ever intense Richard Burton is on hand too, with his customary seriousness and brooding, ideal for his part of the pining man. Basil Sydney really gets into character as the horrible racist, whose prejudices and nastiness, are rendered in full villainous form. Finally, we have Cy Grant as the abused yet useful man, who suffers at the hands of Bulldog simply because of his skin colour. It is with the cast that Sea Wife rises above its many flaws. And while their roles are not what you’d call the best written, they all make them work.
No classic of adventure by means, but still owning enough moments and good acting to tide us over, Sea Wife is an interesting movie to be sure.
The effervescent Virginie asked me to join her blogathon on classic star Grace Kelly. With Kelly being an iconic movie star and a real life princess, how could I ever refuse? To honour the beauty and splendour of Grace Kelly, I decided to review the romantic adventure Mogambo.
- Clark Gable as Victor Marswell
- Ava Gardner as Eloise ‘Honey Bear’ Kelly
- Grace Kelly as Linda Nordley
- Donald Sinden as Donald Nordley
A gorgeously photographed romance/adventure, Mogambo provides good entertainment and classic Hollywood stars to be dazzled by . And while it isn’t major league work from John Ford, its star quality and passion is still very much exciting to view.
Victor Marswell is a rugged, experienced big game hunter and safari businessman whose life is going smoothly in the wilds of Kenya. With his business booming, he can’t really ask for more. Events however take a turn with the arrival of Eloise ‘Honey Bear’ Kelly; a gorgeously outspoken and free-spirited showgirl who has been stood up by a suitor. Having to occupy the same space with Marswell until the next boat back to her planned journey, the two sparring individuals begin a sensual relationship. But Marswell is more concerned with his business and cools the relationship, much to Kelly’s consternation. Yet Kelly’s journey back is halted and run aground, meaning she has to return to Marswell. Around this time, anthropologist Donald Nordley and his posh wife Linda arrive, with wanting to observe the gorillas of the region for study. The prim Linda, who is all about manners and decorum, begins to take a liking to Marswell, seeing as her husband is more concerned with his studies. This of course arouses jealousy from Kelly, who takes it upon herself to stir things up for all involved. While Donald remains oblivious to his wife’s obvious attraction to the uncouth Marswell, a love triangle falls into place.The competition is on as both Kelly and Linda angle for the affections of Marswell amid the wild landscape.
John Ford takes us on safari with his gift for using visuals and settings to capture the attention and contribute beauty. Ford has often done this in his classic Westerns and here is no different. Mogambo may not be a masterpiece, but there’s no denying the sumptuous visual direction of the great John Ford and his keen way of making locations come to life. Animals and wide, vast sights are glimpsed in nearly every frame of this torrid take, accentuated by alive cinematography and luscious colour. Mogambo is very much a melodrama and one of feverish emotions as wild as the surroundings. This approach is well utilised for the torrid feelings that attempt to be kept under wraps, but spill over with delicious passion and fruitful events. Only later on foes the drama get a little too overwrought for its own good, thankfully the stars and scenery can make up for those cracks. Mogambo is also a very saucy movie, Granted, the sexual sizzle is mainly confined to innuendo given the time period the movie was in, Mogambo still steams things up in its own naughty way. It’s the verbal sparring of the three that brings fire and vibrancy to a sometimes sleepy film; one-liners and veiled seduction are checked off the list and explored frequently against picturesque backdrops.
The stars are the thing and you couldn’t have asked for three more glamorous people than Clark Gable, Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly. Clark Gable, now in the later years of his career, still has the charm and panache to pull of his part. He is world-weary but immensely jaunty, especially in that grin that he employs. He wasn’t known as the King of Hollywood for no reason. The ravishing Ava Gardner is relaxed and appropriately sassy, cracking one liners with ease and wit. Her devilish appeal and devastating good looks are matched by her subtle shading of the character who is tough, sexy and unexpected. Gardner is suitably fetching and confident in her acting; obviously relishing the sizzling role given to her. Grace Kelly rounds out the central trio and at the point of major stardom, beautifully plays the repressed Linda who is not quite as innocent or lily-white as we first see her. Kelley has the right amount of ice and fire for the part( which would later lend itself well to roles in Hitchcock movies) and looks simply gorgeous throughout. Starting off prim and almost childlike, her desire emerges and her reserve thaws to show a passionate woman. It’s a nice part for Grace Kelly that compliments the work of Gable and Gardner. Donald Sinden is not given a whole lot to do, besides remain largely ignorant of what is transpiring around him.
So while overlong as a movie and often sometimes plodding, Mogambo is redeemed by the great cast and passionate approach. A glamorous adventure that is simple in story, but pretty excellent in execution with the best in the business being and in front of the camera.
I don’t whether I say it enough, but I couldn’t do this blog without all of the support I receive. You wonderful people truly inspire me and keep me going. I love you all so much for your feedback and incredible kindness. You all deserve a big hug. On an added note, I do have a number of posts ready for soon for you all to read. I know I’ve been slacking lately, but not anymore.
It is that spooky time of year for everyone, yes it’s Halloween. My horror coverage hasn’t been as prominent as last year, but I promise horror will still have a place on my blog being my favourite genre. So what is everyone up to today? Is there a party? Or is it a night in with scary movies? Whichever it is, feel free to share.
With Halloween soon upon us, the lovely Maddy asked me to join her spooky blogathon. I decided to review the classic Cat People for my entry into this fine celebration of horror.
- Simone Simon as Irena
- Kent Smith as Oliver Reed
- Jane Randolph as Alice
- Tom Conway as Dr. Louis Judd
A rightfully, highly regarded horror movie that champions lighting and atmosphere to create suspense, Cat People is much deserving of its classic status.
Serbian sketch artist Irena meets marine engineer Oliver Reed one day in Central Park Zoo while drawing a panther. The two enjoy a flirtation, yet Irena is hesitant to take events any further. Eventually, Oliver charms the shy Irena and after a courtship, they marry. Yet after they are married, she reveals a strange fear to Oliver. From childhood, she was aware of tales in her village of evil women who would turn into cats when feeling jealousy or experiencing passion. As a result, she is terrified to be intimate with Oliver and consummate their marriage. Oliver tries to support his wife, but her fears and sense of terror drive him away as he finds it harder to cope with the situation. He finds support in the form of work colleague Alice, who loves him more than just simply a friend. Irena is admitted to a psychologist, who tries to dispel her anxiety of what might happen if she is to be intimate with her husband. Yet even he is slightly curious as to why Irena has this fixation on the idea of her becoming a panther when jealousy or passion are about. But it may in fact be too late, as Irena becomes aware of Alice’s attraction to her husband. With jealousy aroused the results could be deadly. Or is it all just a delusion from the mind of Irena?
Jacques Tourneur is in the directing seat with the great producer Val Lewton also making a mark with this horror that’s all about the mind and what is hinted at rather than deliberately shown. Tourneur is an adept director whose expertise and ambiguity lend themself beautifully to this gorgeous and creepy exercise in spooky atmospherics and hidden horrors. At the heart of it, Cat People is just as much a mystery as it is suggestive horror. The main question of whether Irena is simply delusional or in fact in fear of a tainted curse she has no power over, provides Cat People with a really compulsive air and a tragic one too. On the visual front, the symbolism of all things feline and entrapment abound, much like how feels so caged and frightened of what may happen if she becomes intimate with her husband. Chiefly, it’s the shadows and sounds that are key to the eeriness of Cat People with many a moment being shrouded in darkness with just the right amount of light to back up the mystery of everything. There are two specific celebrated sequences that showcase just how effective suggestion can be. In the first, Alice is followed by something and is startled by a very loud noise, which is something else than what she thinks but still a jolt to the system and quite cunningly done. It’s a sly and very creative trick to use. The second sequence features Alice in a swimming pool, with light flickering about her as the noise of a panther stalks in the shadows around her. Both scenes wonderfully use the idea of what it could be, rather than what it is to generate the spooks and creeps within you. Cat People is more chilling than jump out of your skin frightening, but that’s the strength of it. It manages to tap into something subtly psycho sexual without being to overt about it, with regards to Irena’s fear of getting close to her husband in the physical sense. Rounding out things is the suspenseful music that knows exactly how to jangle nerves in this strange story.
Simone Simon, with her already feline features and slightly off kilter appeal, is sublimely cast as the terrified woman at the centre of this atmospheric film. Is she a pretty predator or a victim of a tainted curse? That’s the best part of Simon’s performance; the deep ambiguity and exotic mystery. Her eyes convey tragedy and can be simultaneously fragile and sensual in a great balancing act that keeps you guessing just what is the meaning of her fears and whether they have any validity. Kent Smith is the All-American guy who loves Irena deeply, but really can’t work her out as the movie goes on. Jane Randolph succeeds at not simply making her character a home wrecker, but a woman who actually wants to help and is assertive along with sympathetic. Then there is who is more than a little too interested in his patient’s condition and about to pay the ultimate price. Out of them all though, it is Simone Simon who makes the largest impact to this classic horror.
A masterwork of tension and mystery, Cat People is a horror that earns its stripes through its refusal to be over the top and the way it captures the imagination of the viewer with what it presents.
Ed Harris; that charismatic and ever so versatile character actor who has a knack for popping up in so many movies. I can honestly say I can’t think of a bad performance from him, that’s how reliable he is. I admire the guy a hell of a lot for his talent and ability. So which of his many performances really stands out to you?
- Jay Hernandez as Paxton
- Derek Richardson as Josh
- Eyþór Guðjónsson as Óli
- Jennifer Lim as Kana
With it being October and Halloween just around the corner, I thought it well to focus on some horror movies. I chose to review Hostel, the infamous shocker that I will admit I couldn’t finish all of upon first viewing. Now being older, I decided to get a spine and finally watch it all. I have to say that watching it now it deserves its reputation of being a horrifying and stomach churning movie, but also has some rather surprising parts to it. Anyway, back to my review.
College buddies Paxton and are backpacking through Europe in search for ladies, drugs and all time partying. They are joined in Amsterdam by Icelandic Óli, who is similar in interest to them and more than happy to tag along. Around this time, in between excessive sex and drug use, the trio encounter a young man with an intriguing offer. He informs them of a hostel in Slovakia that will make all their debased and carnal fantasies come true. Being horny and only concerned with having a good time, the three friends head to the hostel in Slovakia. Gorgeous ladies, drugs and partying awaits them on arrival and it seems like the perfect time for all of them. Yet it is all too good to be true as the first indicator of something amiss is when Óli goes missing. Later on, Josh also disappears and the people around the hostel are very evasive over what they know. It is left up to Paxton to discover what sinister things are transpiring around him. Searching for answers, he stumbles upon a twisted society of torture that is gleeful in its torment. Paxton is ultimately put into this nightmarish situation and must fight in order to survive the onslaught of perverted brutality.
Eli Roth writes and directs Hostel; clearly having a sort of twisted fun with the set up and then the unleashing of horrifying content. His sense of pace is very well established with how the terror unfolds for us and the characters. A slow burn covers the first half of Hostel, with events playing as a frat brother’s hedonistic dream that will soon become a nightmare. There’s boobs, boozing and all these guys could ask for. The main characters are not the most likable bunch, but they conform well to the overall Jock stereotype Roth is going for. We are given hints of something untoward going on, with the opening titles depicting something murky that will become prominent. Hostel in itself is not a very deep movie, and yet it manages to have some commentary on the gullibility of tourists in an unfamiliar place. Plus, there are many self-referential anecdotes and instances of other horror movies coming into play in an assured way, especially at the start. The last forty minutes of Hostel are a relentless excursion into jaw-dropping horror, with no let up for breathing chiefly through the graphic and gruesome depictions of torture. A strong stomach is needed for Hostel’s brutality, though it is hard to turn away despite the horror on show. Gore is the order of the day and in high supply, with Roth obviously enjoying grossing the audience out with what he depicts. It’s not all mean-spirited, just rather nasty in its unapologetic refusal to compromise on the blood. Twisted is the best word for Hostel, with many of its scenes cutting close the bone(literally and figuratively). One particular scene involving tendons is bound to induce feelings of sickness, along with the appearances of feral children who want more than money from you and will turn violent if you don’t provide it. And while it’s a horror, various thriller elements are on call for a tense finale that is gruesomely and shockingly satisfying( if that is the right word for it.) The visual style, that progressively becomes bleaker as the picture goes on, excellently mirrors the descent into depravity experienced by the characters, and chiefly us. Suspense is handled by the music, that knows how to ratchet up the atmosphere.
The cast is competent and works well within the framework of Hostel. They aren’t there to be the deepest characters going, but once the horror starts you do feel something for them. The three main men at first blend in together because of their attributes, but later one emerges in particular as very effective. Jay Hernandez is given the most to do here as the main frat boy falling into a horrific situation. He starts out as a lady-mad guy with only one thing on his mind, but once the terror hits, Hernandez finds a desperation and determination to survive the torturous world he’s thrown into. Derek Richardson is well used as the not so convinced of the journey member of the group, while Eyþór Guðjónsson lives it up as the Lothario with the gift of the gab. Jennifer Lim, out of the women in Hostel, has the most to do as the rather unfortunate traveler who also falls prey to the horror.
A movie of extreme violence and horror, Hostel is worthy of shocking credentials and title as a work of twisted depravity. Not for everyone, but a memorably brutal movie nonetheless.
For my first entry into Crystal’s Tracy and Hepburn blogathon, I covered the classic movie The African Queen yesterday to celebrate the talents of Miss Hepburn. Today. I’m going to honour the greatness of Spencer Tracy with my review of the 50’s Western, Broken Lance.
- Spencer Tracy as Matt Devereaux
- Robert Wagner as Joe Devereaux
- Richard Widmark as Ben Devereaux
- Katy Jurado as Señora Devereaux
- Jean Peters as Barbara
- Hugh O’Brian as Mike Devereaux
- Earl Holliman as Denny Devereaux
A western with definite Shakespearean overtones to it, Broken Lance is a resounding success with its fine cast and confident direction that bring drama and emotion to the genre.
Matt Devereaux is the hardened and tough patriarch of four sons and most proudly, a cattle empire that is his life’s work. While successful with his business due to his ruthlessness and charisma, his parenting hasn’t been particularly special. For Ben, Mike and Denny, he has been a tyrant since they can remember and forced his temperament onto them. For his youngest son Joe, it is a different picture as he respects his father and is good at judgement. This doesn’t go down at all well with any of the other brothers. Further animosity is present as Joe is mixed race, owing to Matt’s marriage to the dignified Señora Devereaux, a Native American princess. Ben in particular feels resentment towards this and also the fact that his father is refusing to modernise their business in a changing world. Matt however is too old and determined to change his ways, least of all for his children who he finds largely ungrateful. Trouble brews when a nearby copper mine pollutes the water supply, leading to the death of many of Matt’s cattle. The grizzled Matt takes matters into his own hand and raids the mine. The law gets wind of this and Matt is threatened with prison for his actions. It is here that tragedy and turmoil really come out among the four brothers, leading to eventful and irrevocable changes.
Edward Dmytryk directs this highly charged Western with the right flavour for drama and character. Broken Lance is essentially a Western interpretation of King Lear, with the daughters being replaced with sons and the King being a cattle ranch owner. But the presence of that great play gives Broken Lance more of an edge in comparison with other traditional Westerns. The script, using characters and depth, is largely responsible for this and how it depicts the unfolding tragedy of the family. Plus, in a rare move for a Western of the 50’s, Broken Lance features a positive representation of Native Americans. The vast majority of depictions in Westerns is a negative one; Broken Lance rectified this by having the main Native American characters be people of virtue and right. I respected Broken Lance for taking this stance and also highlighting the prejudice faced by Native Americans. My only niggle with Broken Lance is that I wish it were longer; the film is quite short and while a fine Western, I wanted just a little bit more. That shouldn’t however take away from the excellence of the overall movie and how it has a difference to it that most Western’s do not take. It’s with the drama that Broken Lance particularly excels at and while there is action present in Broken Lance, it never descends into just another shoot out movie. A grandiose score really gets us into the events of this Western with flourishes of strings and drums.
At the centre of it all and completely dominating events is the marvellous Spencer Tracy, in full grizzled and boisterous mode. The character of aging patriarch with his own brand of justice and love for his land( at the expense of the love from three of his sons), Tracy explores the various facets of him with rich texture. On one hand, he’s a domineering man who it must be said has been harsh towards his sons in terms of wanting them to follow him. But in another breath, he’s a very charismatic man who has worked hard to make his cattle ranch a success and is thwarted by the ineptness and animosity of his three older sons. Such a great combination from an accomplished actor is the main source of vitality in this dramatic western. Robert Wagner, in a very early role, manages the decency and respect of a young man who looks up to his father, yet suffers because of it. It’s a good showing from the then young actor. The ever effective Richard Widmark( always exceptional when playing a wrong un), brings seething rage and resentment that lead him to ruin and dishonor the father he thinks has forsaken him for his entire life. There is still some humanity in there, but Widmark most succeeds at discovering the nastiness and bitterness of the part. In support, Katy Jurado beautifully captures the dignity and strength of Matthew’s second wife, who knows all about the prejudice aimed her way but rises above it with grace and humility. Sometimes just a look from her is enough to voice her inner thoughts and love, the role providing a peaceful balance to the frequent clashes between the men of the movie. Jean Peters is the pretty love interest for Wagner and sweet enough to pull it off. Hugh O’Brian and Earl Holliman are honestly not given much to do but follow their older and more resentful brother, but do the job good enough.
A character driven Western that has the right amount of drama and action to it, Broken Lance showcases great direction and acting, particularly from the legendary Spencer Tracy.