Short Takes: New Films and Old

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Guy Ritchie)

uncleAn atrocity of one of the great TV shows from the 1960’s. Where to start? Well, the two leads, Henry Clavill and Arnie Hammer, have zero chemistry together as a team. Throughout the movie they just seemed uncomfortable in each other’s presence. Then there is the story which never feels menacing enough, though it involves the threat of a nuclear bomb being stolen. There are some good lines and droll humor here and there, but unfortunately, our two “heroes” cannot deliver the lines with any sense of ironic humor. The film is based on the 1960’s hit TV show, but the resemblance between the show and this film in non-existent. There is no T.H.R.U.S.H., no U.N.C.L.E. organizations and barely any camaraderie between our two spies who seem to hate each other for most of the film. The film is a complete bastardized version of the show. It desperately wants to seem hip and cool, of course it does, it has Guy Ritchie directing, It’s not. It’s just painful. The ending  clearly sets you up for a sequel which I suspect will never be made. Continue reading

The Rise and Fall of Legs Dimaond (1960) Budd Boetticher

DimaondIn 1957, Allied Artists released a low budget gangster film called, Al Capone, starring Rod Stieger. The film was an immediate hit raking in over one million dollars. Big bucks back then for a low-budget film. The film is notable for starting a new cycle of gangster films that included Pretty Boy Floyd with Leif Erickson, Machine Gun Kelly with Charles Bronson, The Purple Gang with Barry Sullivan and a young Robert Blake, King of the Roaring Twenties with David Jansen, Mad Dog Coll with John David Chandler and Vincent Gardenia, and Portrait of a Mobster with Vic Morrow. There was even a hit TV series, The Untouchables.   Included in this blood shed of works was Budd Boetticher’s The Rise and Fall of Legs DiamondContinue reading

Liebster Award!

liebster-awardI am late in doing this, but I just wanted to thank Summer Reeves over at Serendipitous Anachronisms https://serendipitousanachronisms.wordpress.com/author/kitschmeonce/  for bestowing the Liebster Award on my humble little blog. I am speechless, truly without speech, but I will try to move on. Seriously, I want to thank Ms. Reeves for anointing this award. I do appreciate it. I know there are “rules” that go long with receiving the Liebster like answering a bunch of questions and paying forward by bestowing the award on 11 favorite blogs. The last part is what I feel bad about because there are blog that I left off and could have easily be added to the list. Continue reading

The Spiral Staircase (1945) Robert Siodmak

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The opening scenes of The Spiral Staircase, where we first meet Helen (Dorothy McGuire), take place in a hotel ballroom that has been set up as a make shift movie theater. There’s a hand written sign that states there are two showings, 4:30 and 7:30. Then we see a silent film flickering on the screen; a woman is on the piano accompanying the storyline. In the back, we see a “projectionist” hand cranking the film through the projector. Finally, there is the audience sitting on hard wooden benches enthralled by the flickering images of this infant art. It is a great scene that gives film lovers a glimpse at what it was like when the movies were young. Continue reading

Eyes of Laura Mars (1978) Irvin Kershner

eyes3Some movies, well actually a lot movies, are flawed, but you like them anyway. There are reasons that even though you know the movie doesn’t work, it connects with you. When Eyes of Laura Mars came out in 1978 I was excited. On paper it had a lot going for it; a script by the then hot and upcoming John Carpenter, there was Faye Dunaway, still hot with recent hits like Chinatown, Network and Three Days of the Condor, just behind her, and most personally  for myself, the main character was a photographer.  Continue reading

3:10 to Yuma (1957) Delmer Daves

310Yuma1957FordHefflinThere is a moral compass to 3:10 to Yuma that some may find, sadly, a bit dated. We have a man who stands up for what he believes in; what he believes is morally the right thing to do. There is a similarity to High Noon. Like Gary Cooper’s Will, Van Heflin’s Dan is one man, basically all alone (he does have one alcoholic townie who stays with him, but is killed before the final shootout), fighting off a coming evil as the rest of the town decides to give up, run and hide. Time is another element the two films have it common. For Gary Cooper, there a high noon deadline when his former adversary, recently released from prisoner, is expected to arrive in town on the noon train. For Van Heflin, it’s also a train arriving at 3:10 that forces a final confrontation. In both films, clocks or watches are constantly seen building the tension as the deadlines to a deadly shootout come closer. Continue reading

Richard Avedon and Funny Face

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Richard Avedon was one of the best known and most influential portrait and fashion photographers of his day. He changed the concept of what was fashion photography and how it was presented. He has remains an artistic hero to many, right to this day. Born in 1923, in New York City, Avedon’s parents were both in the fashion business. His father, Jacob Avedon, owned and ran Avedon’s Fifth Avenue, a clothing store. With his family background, young Richard took an early interest in fashion and began photographing outfits from his father’s store. When he was twelve years old, Richard became a member of the Camera Club at the Young Men’s Hebrew Association. Continue reading