Grey Lady Down - 1978
Grey Lady Down - released March 10, 1978 - Director David Greene
Taunt sunken-submarine film with an ensemble cast: Chuck Heston, David Carradine, Ned Beatty, Stacey Keach, and a young Christopher Reeve. After a collision on the surface with a Norwegian ship, the USN Neptune sinks to the sea bottom. Besides the precarious problem of getting the crew to the surface before the situation gets worse (a difficulty that is conquered by the inventive Captain Gates, played by David Carradine), but the sub is also on the edge of a ridge which plunges to a deeper depth, guaranteeing the death of the trapped crew.
The Fleet's In - 1942
The Fleet's In - released January 24, 1942 - Directed by Victor Schertzinger
Dorothy Lamour and William Holden are at the head of the cast for this WW2 quasi-romance-comedy-musical which is pieced together like a variety show, with numerous song, dance (Lorraine and Rognan) and comedy acts taking center screen. Songs by Johnny Mercer are featured, along with many interludes with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. Betty Hutton and Eddie Bracken also provide a lot of comedy, though even with the personalities already listed, it just scratches the surface of all the names which appear in this thinly-plotted tale of sailors participating in a bet on whether the "Sea Wolf" Casey Kirby (played by Wm. Holden) can melt the heart of icy night club singer "The Countess" (Lamour) before the sailors all have to ship out.
Speedy - Harold Lloyd 1928
Speedy - released April 7, 1928 - Directed by Ted Wilde
An action packed final 30 minutes to this film barrels along with Harold Lloyd in his prime with long, complex action-comedy sequences.
King Solomon's Mines
King Solomon's Mines - Directed by Compton Bennett and Andrew Marton
Released November 24, 1950
Adventure films based in Africa had been a sub-genre in Hollywood for many decades before King Solomon's Mines showed up in 1950, from the Tarzan films to Trader Horn (1931), but this Technicolor blockbuster with Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr not only upgraded African adventure films, but adventure films in general. With a rapid plot, wide open on-location cinematography of the African people (mostly Masai and Watusi tribes) and landscape (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Belgian Congo), and a streak of post-World War 2 melancholy (though the film timing is actually Victorian) the movie was a perfect fit for American and English audiences. Box office was huge, and only Disney's Cinderella did better that year.
Slaughter of the Vampires - 1964
Director: Roberto Mauri
Low budget Italian horror film that borrows heavily from the basic outlines of Bram Stoker's Dracula, with a vampire noble menacing the happiness of a newly wedded couple who live on a large estate featuring beautiful 18th century outfits, winding staircases, landscaped grounds and sumptuous interior art direction.
What carries this film beyond the predictable story and acting is the well done, economical cinematography. Director Mauri (who also wrote the screenplay) often moves his camera around and he generally executes some first-class storytelling despite the stodgy material. While the conflict between the vampire and the victims is rote, the angles and motion of the camera is frequently interesting and inventive. None of this can salvage the mundane elements of the story, but the movie tries to compete with the quality standards of something higher in calibre like a Hammer film, and visually speaking, often succeeds.
More Joan Crawford
Madame Medusa - The Rescuers - 1977
The Rescuers - Released June 22, 1977
Disney's The Rescuers is a curious film in their oeuvre. There is a bleak element of despair in the film which is about the abusive situation of a kidnapped girl who is pressured into cave-diving to access a pirate treasure. Madame Medusa (voiced by Geraldine Page) is a variation on Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmations, 1961) but Medusa's obsession isn't with dogs, but with diamonds and her cruelty is primarily worked out on her captive child, Penny (voiced by Michelle Stacy). The film generated a 1990 sequel The Rescuers Down Under which shied away from the sense of loss and darkness that is plumbed in the 1977 movie.
The Rescuers particularly features the art direction work of Ken Anderson and the animation drawing skill of Milt Kahl (1909-1987) who worked especially on drawing the character of Madame Medusa.
Starring Miss Barbara Stanwyck [Illustrated with 310 Photographs] - amazon.com
- Don't Make Waves - 1967
- Night Creatures with Peter Cushing and Yvonne Romaine
- Legend - 1985 - Ridley Scott Fairy Tale with Unicorns
- Flamingo Road - 1949
- Night Tide - 1962
- Horsefeathers - 1932
- The Damned Don't Cry - 1950
- Ninotchka - 1939 - Greta Garbo
- The Hurricane - 1937
The Agony and the Ecstasy - 1965 - Michelangelo (Chuck Heston) is given the honor of painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. Only problem is, he doesn't want the project, and after being forced to take it, his first effort is less than satisfactory (to Michelangelo) who vandalizes the images he has made and then goes on the run from a very angry Pope. How the artist who detests painting (sculpting is better, he claims) and the irascible art-loving Pope finally work out their differences is the tale in Carol Reed's 1965 big-budget 'art-epic.'
The Freshman - 1990 - Marlon Brando reprises... or does he satirize? his Godfather character of Don Vito Corleone in this comedy in which a freshman film student (Matthew Broderick) takes a part-time job with Carmine Sabatini, legendary New York City Italian "importer" who assures the young Vermont lad that his high-paying gig as a transporter of rare imported items is perfectly legal. It isn't. Written and Directed by Andrew Bergman.
Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines - 1965 - International Air Race comedy with beautiful photography and classic antique aeroplanes from the very beginning of the air age.
Sadie McKee 1934 - Joan Crawford battles the great depression, a husband's alcoholism, Franchot Tone, and her lower class start in life (she's a maid at a mansion, then ends up in a dance hall before marrying a millionaire), she proceeds to triumph through each and every adversity. With Gene Raymond as a ukulele player.
Zombies of Mora Tau 1957 - Allison Hayes, Autumn Russell and Gregg Palmer face off against a B-Movie sailor-zombie problem while trying to fetch a cache of diamonds from the ocean depths along the African coast.
Dark of the Sun 1968 - Mercenaries are hired to go into the Congo civil war to rescue civilians and to also bring back a $25 million dollar cache of diamonds. Rod Taylor leads the mercenaries (James Brown, Peter Carsten and others) on a three day mission that soon includes Yvette Mimieux before everything begins to careen out of control.
3 Days of the Condor, 1975 - Robert Redford as CIA analyst Joe Turner, trapped between warring factions within the CIA itself. Confused by why everyone is shooting at him, he goes on the run with kidnapped Faye Dunnaway in tow. Sydney Pollack's direction is tense and has clear storytelling. Max von Sydow is on hand as an amused veteran hitman who learns Joe Turner a thing or two. A great big slice of 1970s paranoia powers the film and lays down the template for many films that have followed afterward.