The Two of us - 1967
More The Two of Us 1967
The Omega Man
The Omega Man - Released August 1, 1971. Directed by Boris Sagal
Charlton Heston seems tired through a lot of this film, and it's not hard to see why. He, (along with supporting cast Anthony Zerbe and Rosalind Cash) have to carry this movie forward through a very long 98 minutes. The story isn't always logical (or coherent ... Heston's character, Robert Neville, quips to co-star Rosalind Cash, playing Lisa, 'how did you ever see swimming fish in Harlem?' yet our whole story takes place in Los Angeles and there's no indication Lisa is from New York City. Is screenwriter John Corrington trying to tell us all African-Americans come from Harlem?)
There is also the issue of how Neville survived the plague which has rendered everyone (well, almost everyone) into albino, silver-eyed homicidal killers dedicated to a Luddite, medieval cult operated by crazed former-newscaster Matthias (Zerbe). Dressed in black robes (some have a sparkly "glam" surface, others are matte, no reason is given for the difference) the members of "The Family" are trying to destroy all vestiges of the technology they blame for the plague. They especially want to kill Heston, a "user of the wheel" who stands as a monument to the past they want to erase. At least that's what they keep saying, though from the littered and abandoned appearance of Los Angeles, they've not made any progress as there are cars everywhere and other remnants of the past. The only occupation we see the robed-ones pursuing is trying to kill Heston (who survived the plague because he took a shot of a rare antibiotic serum).
Neville is holed-up in his barricaded townhouse (Lisa calls it "A honky paradise"), equipped with food, guns, 8-track stereo tapedecks, and closed-circuit TV. He has surrounded his place with powerful lamps that cause the hyper-light-sensitive "family" to shrink away like vampires beholding a crucifix. As a token of his dedication to civilization, Neville has hooked up a fully-functional water fountain out front that gushes a flowing stream whenever Neville's electric generators are on. Because it lacks any utility to the script, it seems funny (and there's a lot of unintentional humor in this movie) though it might be a leftover from the original source of the movie, the Richard Matheson novel I Am Legend which contained experiments with running-water in that books plot where Neville battles vampires.*
As was the brief fashion in the very late 1960s and early 1970s, Sagel's camera moves in and out of scenes and inward toward objects and faces in a style that might be called "groovy" and it dates the movie considerably to a specific blip of time in Hollywood history. Heston's character likes to drop into an abandoned movie theatre and watch the movie Woodstock (1970) which is full of teeming crowds of young people and this psychologically makes sense, since Neville is (for awhile at least) utterly alone in a city of dead corpses, but this footage also ties the movie down to s specific moment in time. As the movie grinds onward, Neville's unique status as "the last man on earth" gets diluted until it is meaningless as other survivors show up, and because of the threat of Anthony Zerbe's awkward black-clad army, the story is soon filled with a lot of running people in robes and it takes on the live-action aspects of a Scooby Doo cartoon.
Compromised by a filming style that went out of fashion almost as quickly as it became one, and written in a way that mostly sets up chase sequences that get repetitive quickly, The Omega Man has too few good scenes (there are some) and too many that are not.
*Only the general outline of Matheson's novel appears in director Sagel's The Omega Man. Matheson: "I don't know why Hollywood keeps coming back to the book just to not do it the way I wrote it. The book should have been filmed as is at the time it came out." Matheson's novel has been filmed three times and 'borrowed' from for many other productions. The most successful version was the $585 million dollar grossing I Am Legend of 2007 with Will Smith as Neville.
The Mummy's Hand - Released September 20, 1940. Directed by Christy Cabanne
Boris, Vincent and Peter
The Raven - Released Jan 25, 1963. Directed by Roger Corman
Rear Window released Aug 1, 1954 - Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Day of Fury
Day of Fury - Released May 1, 1956. Directed by Harmon Jones
Jock Mahoney is the very tall Marshall Allan Burnett, and he's got a major dilemma on his hands: his life was saved by career gunslinger Jagade (played by Dale Robertson) who had no idea the man he was rescuing was both a Marshall (who he dislikes on principal) but is also engaged to marry his ex-girlfriend Sharman Fulton (Mara Corday).
Events conspire to place the whole town of the aptly titled West End into a pressure cooker as Jagade, Sharman and the Marshall try to work out their unwelcome triangle, and Jagade's influence starts to draw out flaws and hypocrisy in the local townspeople who thought their area was free of lawlessness. In desperation (and because the Marshall is rendered mostly impotent by his personal debt to Jagade) the townspeople are soon forming a lynch mob to take justice into their own hands.
Strange Cargo - 1940
Strange Cargo - Released March 1, 1940. Directed by Frank Borzage
This odd movie based on the metaphysical bestseller of 1936 Not Too Narrow... Not Too Deep*, is a prison escape film that's not really about getting out, but changing the reason why you're in prison in the first-place. Director Borzage has on his hands a tale of ten escaped convicts (many murderers) and a genial but mysterious 11th man named Jean Cambreau (he appears to be a convict, too. The impression doesn't last long.) Borzage turns it all into a crazy Hollywood love drama in which the self-centered and nihilistic Verne (Clark Gable), weary career floozy Julie (Joan Crawford) and the convicts have to face up to why they need each other on their water-and-jungle trek to freedom to escape a South American French penal colony.
In the case of Cambreau (played by Ian Hunter), who doesn't appear to need anyone, there is the exception of one brief instance when Clark has to provide a bit of rescue in a scene that predates a similar scene in Capra's It's A Wonderful Life. As the movie rolls along, the convicts learn that Cambreau always knows what's about to happen and knows why people are doing what they are doing better than they themselves know. This proves a relief for some of the convicts and quite vexing for the others, particularly the most religious member - Telez, played by Eduardo Ciannelli.
Peter Lorre isn't one of the convicts but plays an important role as M'sieu Pig, who everyone despises (with good reason) who proves useful when the chips are down unless he is trying to sell someone out to the authorities, which is his usual full-time occupation. Incidentally, Pig is always pining for Julie, and trying to manufacture some situation that will get her to sell-out to him. Eventually, he gets his chance.
It's hard-headed (and hearted) Verne that is the real challenge in the reformation sweepstakes, though the crew of ten escapee's presents plenty of additional difficulties, too. However, it appears to be nothing that Monsieur Cambreau can't handle, not even death proves too difficult for this clever stranger.
*Not Too Narrow... Not Too Deep by Richard Sale
Identity Theft: Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Invasion of the Body Snatchers - Released February 5, 1956. Directed by Don Siegel, based on the story Sleep No More by Jack Finney.
Kevin McCarthy (as Dr. Bennell) figures out something is amiss in Mira Vista, California, and after he determines it is an alien invasion, he wonders how to stop it since he can't simply go looking for tentacled creatures or giant monsters, because the aliens are right in front of him, exact copies of the people he has been seeing all of his life, duplicates that have unemotionally taken over their place (the same upgrade is planned for Bennell, too, as the aliens try to sell their superior vision of existence to him in a moment of confrontation: a future earth with no love, hate, or trouble of any kind, just one big "us" and no more "I.")
The same problem in being able to even see the aliens underlies Bennell's problem in finding allies, and quickly he learns he really doesn't have any left (except would-be girlfriend Becky Driscoll played by Dana Wynter.)
More about Invasion of the Body Snatchers
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