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Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.)

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The Natural [DVD]
The Natural [DVD]
Dvd ~ Robert Redford
Offered by Champion Toys
Price: £24.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The Wonder of Wonderboy., 24 April 2015
This review is from: The Natural [DVD] (DVD)
The Natural is directed by Barry Levinson and adapted to screenplay by Roger Towne & Phil Dusenberry from the novel written by Bernard Malamud. It stars Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Wilford Brimley, Barbara Hershey, Robert Prosky and Richard Farnsworth. Music is by Randy Newman and cinematography by Caleb Deschanel.

The Natural is a wistful sports movie, one that asks every person who views it to buy into the whimsy and mythologising on show. If able to do that then it's a film of beguiling beauty, awash with strength of the human spirit and of luscious technical credits. The Arthurian core to Roy Hobbs' (Redford a superb presence yet calmness personified) second chance ensures we always know this is fanciful stuff, but that's just fine, we are in Field of Dreams territory here and fans of such fare are rewarded royally. Period art design, photography and musical score are grade "A", snuggling up nicely with a support cast to Redford that is of high end proportions. If it's in you and you know what sort of film to expect, you may well, come the end, be punching the air whilst having a tear in your eye. Lovely film making. 8.5/10

Sorrowful Jones [DVD]
Sorrowful Jones [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bob Hope

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rock-a-bye Baby at Pimlico., 24 April 2015
This review is from: Sorrowful Jones [DVD] (DVD)
Damon Runyon's Little Miss Marker had already been filmed in 1934 as a Shirley Temple starrer, this remake changes the title and brings in the star power of Bob Hope and Lucille Ball, with great results.

Story has Hope as sly bookie Sorrowful Jones, who after accepting a five year old girl as a betting marker, gets lumbered with the child when her father is wasted by gangster Big Steve Holloway (Bruce Cabot). Initially a fish out of water with the kid, Sorrowful strikes up a loving relationship with her and aided by his ex-girlfriend, Gladys O'Neill (Ball), fights to keep the child out of an orphanage.

It's not - as some of the posters proclaim - funnier than Paleface (either of them since the sequel is better), in fact it's not close to the funny heights achieved by Hope's next Runyon adapted picture, The Lemon Drop Kid. However, Sorrowful Jones is funny, Hope gets to deliver some absolute corking lines that are guaranteed to at the least put a big grin on your face, but there's a semi-seriousness to it all which thankfully works a treat alongside the quips and wonderfully strange situations that Jones finds himself in. With a weighty support cast that also features William Demarest and Thomas Gomez helping things along, and young Mary Jane Saunders adorable beyond compare, this is a little cracker of a picture to brighten your day. 7/10

A Mitad De Camino (The Interrupted Journey) 1949 (Import)
A Mitad De Camino (The Interrupted Journey) 1949 (Import)
Offered by GREAT4DVD
Price: £13.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Film Review Only., 24 April 2015
20 Killed, 31 Injured!

The Interrupted Journey is directed by Daniel Birt and written by Michael Pertwee. It stars Richard Todd, Valerie Hobson, Tom Walls and Ralph Truman. Music is by Stanley Black and cinematography by Erwin Hillier.

To Stop Train In Case Of Emergency Pull Down The Chain. Penalty For Improper Use £5.

That's a woman in a million.

Very tidy Brit noir this one. The story is a bit hokey as it enters Twilight Zone territories, but the twists, turns and mystery quotient keep it lively to hold the attention. The low budget is never a problem for Birt, who aided by the excellent Hillier, brings a feverish realm to the story by way of canted angles, shadow play and hazes, while certain images (shapes of doorways etc) are cunningly teasing the audience about what is going on. Cast are very strong to round this out as more than worth the time of the Brit noir film fan. 7/10

40 Guns To Apache Pass (Region 2)
40 Guns To Apache Pass (Region 2)
Dvd ~ Audie Murphy
Offered by DaaVeeDee-uk
Price: £22.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just Pass., 20 April 2015
40 Guns to Apache Pass is directed by William Witney and written by Willard and Mary Willingham. It stars Audie Murphy and Kenneth Tobey. Music is by Richard LaShelle and Jaques R. Marquette photographs it in Pathe Color with location work coming at Lovejoy Buttes, Red Rock Canyon and North Ranch in California.

The Apaches, led by Cochise (Michael Keep), are on the warpath and vowing to kill all whites they come across. Captain Bruce Coburn (Murphy) is in charge of leading homesteaders out of harms way. But there is unrest in the band of men under his charge and mutiny is afoot.

This was the last but one film Murphy made before retiring, you feel that he hoped this would be a fitting swan song to his career. It wasn't. Saddled with a weak script and surrounded by wooden supporting actors, Murphy alone can't make this lacklustre, cliché riddled, Western work. There's some nice scenery shot by Witney and Marquette, but with LaShelle scoring it like an episode of Scooby Doo the impact is lost. It would be easy to blame director Witney, a man more than capable of stringing together an action based movie, but asking him to try and make this particular screenplay stretch to over an hour and half was asking for the impossible.

3/10 for Murphy's manful efforts to carry such a low-budget, routine and forgettable piece.

Repo Man [DVD] [2003]
Repo Man [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Harry Dean Stanton
Price: £5.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes., 19 April 2015
This review is from: Repo Man [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Repo Man has become one of those films where even though it was savaged by many critics of the time (not Ebert, he loved it), was met with very poor box office as well, but now everyone seems to shout that they loved it back then, always have! It is the very definition of a "cult movie", a pic that went underground and found its audience, so much so it burst back above ground and today is still being discovered by an ever intrigued movie loving audience.

Repo Man was one of a kind, a film that refused to be pigeon holed, a true original. Story for what it's worth has Emilio Estevez as L.A. punk Otto Maddox who gets bluffed into a repo man job. Taken under the wing of Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), Otto gets to become a fully fledged repo man, taking on all the perks and dangers that come with the territory. But when a mysterious 1964 Chevy Malibu arrives on the patch, all bets seem to be off because everyone is either after it or being disintegrated by it!

The life of a repo man is always intense.

OK! Where to start? Offbeat, eccentric, punk, funky, funny, smart? Repo Man is all those things, it dares to be bold and challenging, its satirical edges slicing away at film genres and American societies. Director Alex Cox (how wonderful that such an American film is directed by a British guy) fills out this scuzzy part of L.A. with hippies, freaks, punks, aliens, scientist nutters, UFO nutters, effeminate coppers and the repo men themselves, a bunch of grizzled souls hardened by life's travails, but always with a quip, a smile and a gunshot at the ready.

The dialogue fizzes with cheeky derring-do, some lines even today still quotable and used in pubs and clubs across the continents. Robby Muller's cinematography has snap crackle and pop, as does the rocking soundtrack as Cox invites the likes of Iggy Pop, The Circle Jerks, Black Flag and The Plugz into his weird and wonderful world. Performances are bang on the dollar, Stanton the class act, Estevez superb, Tracey Walter proving what his fans already knew, that he's a legendary character actor.

From an opening involving a pair of smoking boots, to the glowing sci-fi nirvana finale, Repo Man kicks ass. One viewing is never enough, and for sure there are those who have seen it once and hate it to the point of refusing to ever watch it again. That's a shame, because repeat viewings are essential, because the more you watch the more Cox's deliriously cheeky movie makes sense. 9/10

Starman [DVD]
Starman [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jeff Bridges
Offered by Preowned Discs Direct
Price: £30.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loving the Alien., 19 April 2015
This review is from: Starman [DVD] (DVD)
Mixed notices then and now for John Carpenter's sci-fi love story - cum human warning parable, but the fact is is that if it touches you it's a touch that stays for ever. It's a lovely film headed up by Jeff Bridges' wonderful turn as the alien from outer space teaming up with Karen Allen for a road trip to a Nevada crater, where he will be picked up by his own species and taken home.

Taking on human form, that of Allen's deceased husband, much of the humour is derived from how the alien tries to adapt to a human lifestyle. The language, food, customs and romance, but always there is a serious thread running through the narrative. He was invited here by the contents of Voyager One, but now the suits want him for less than honourable research, so the pair, coming together as one after she is obviously in a state of kidnap worry, have to stay one step ahead of the authorities.

So there's suspense in the mix via the chase dynamics, as well as some beautiful sequences, one of which has animal lovers of the world punch the air with unbridled joy. The premise is of course flimsy, and cribbing bits from ET and Close Encounters did the film no favours under critical analysis, but the emotional whack is mightily strong, with the lead characters being so easy to root for. While Jack Nitzsche's synth based musical score is a sci-fi great, perfect.

A vastly under valued picture on Carpenter's CV, Starman would like to come and see us, if only we would give it the time. 8.5/10

Streets of Fire [Blu-ray]
Streets of Fire [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Diane Lane
Price: £17.78

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bombers, Blasters, Attackers and Streets of Fire., 18 April 2015
Streets of Fire is directed by Walter Hill who also co-writes the screenplay with Larry Gross. It stars Michael Paré, Diane Lane, Rick Moranis, Amy Madigan and Willem Dafoe. Music is scored by Ry Cooder and cinematography is by Andrew Laszlo.

When the lead singer of Ellen Aim and the Attackers is kidnapped by biker gang The Bombers, her ex-soldier of fortune boyfriend is contacted and hired to go get her back...

There were a couple of movies released in 1984 by maverick directors that were frowned upon at the time, but are now significantly held in high regard and define the saying "cult movie". One was Alex Cox's Repo Man, the other was Walter Hill's Streets of Fire.

Streets of Fire is a bastard hybrid of ideas and influences. In part a rock opera set to the backdrop of blink blink blinkity blink neonvillle, an unnamed place that lives and breathes between 50s angst and 80s futurism, in others it's a straight forward road/mission movie headed up by an anti-hero taking notes from Snake Plissken whilst jostling for cool space with Kyle Reese. It's a film, that by Hill's own admission, is unashamedly a collage of things he finds cool in cinema. Yet this is not a detriment to the pic, the narrative is straightforward as can be and Hill throws everything he can into the mix, and it works.

In essence it's a live action comic book, it knows it's just a film and has no pretencions to seem remotely real life. The look is wonderfully flamboyant and campy, where the hero and villain wear braces and PVC overalls respectively. The girls are a mixture of a teenage diva babe and a beer swilling roughneck babe. The city itself is a vibrant mix of colours and carnage, beauty and beats, and where the streets literally are on fire. Hill weighs in with his adroit flair for action, always kinetic, while the soundtrack rocks and the dialogue bubbles with self aware glee. Cast are super, some sexy and tough, others weaselly and weak, but all pumping the pop culture blood through the veins of the movie.

With style and cool to burn, both only beaten out by the action quotient, Streets of Fire is an ode to live action fun. And watching it now you can see just how it has influenced many a film maker post its release. Streets of Fire, one bad ass bitch funky sex machine. 9/10

Man in the Vault [DVD] [1956] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Man in the Vault [DVD] [1956] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £2.55

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bowling for deposit boxes., 18 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Adapted by Burt Kennedy from the Frank Gruber novel, The Lock and the Key, Man in the Vault is a minor 50s crime flick that has somehow been lumped into the film noir encyclopedias. Andrew V. McLaglen directs and William Campbell, Karen Sharpe, Anita Ekberg and Berry Kroeger star. Story has Campbell as a locksmith who gets coerced into a deposit box theft just as Sharpe turns his head romantically.

Amazingly, nothing much happens, there's a lot of talking and pouting, Campbell's teddy-boy quiff always holds court, while Kroeger tries to eat all the indoor scenery. William H. Clothier is utterly wasted on photography, only really getting to use his skills when the story enters out onto the real L.A. locations; which are actually the film's only saving grace. OK! The deposit box sequence has a modicum of suspense, the mystery element as Campbell tries to fathom out what's going on also works, but come the weak and cop-out finale you may well wish you had done the gardening instead. 5/10

Woman In A Dressing Gown [DVD] [1957]
Woman In A Dressing Gown [DVD] [1957]
Dvd ~ Yvonne Mitchell
Price: £9.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The rain falls hard on a humdrum town, 18 April 2015
Woman in a Dressing Gown is directed by J. Lee Thompson and written by Ted Willis. It stars Yvonne Mitchell, Anthony Quayle and Sylvia Syms, music is by Louis Levy and cinematography by Gilbert Taylor.

It's something of an inauspicious title, a title hardly conducive to making this piece of film leap out at you, to shout that it's essential British cinema. How wonderful to find that not only is it a title completely befitting the material being played out, but that it is actually essential British cinema.

It's little known and very under seen, in fact myself was only introduced to it by a Canadian friend! The story centers on a London family of three, husband is away earning the corn at the office, teenage son is just starting out in life after school, and mother? She's on housewife auto-pilot, but disorganised with it. Her auto-pilot world is shaken to the core when it is revealed that husband is having an affair with his personal secretary, a smart and beautiful younger sort who is demanding that husband divorces wifey or it's all off...

It sounds very kitchen sink, but actually it's not, it's a very smartly written picture giving credence to mental illness, to the shattering blows of infidelity, of a crumbling family dynamic, a family that in truth is homespun. Ordinary? Yes, but safe as the red brick built poky flat they dwell in. We are not asked to take sides here, to chastise or judge, Thompson and his superb cast merely ask us to delve into their world, to understand it, the psychological humdrum of 50s Britain, the starkness of marriage does mean growing old together, but that nobody ever said it was going to be easy.

Looking at it now it can be viewed as a very important film in the trajectory of British cinema, Mitchell's character is the fulcrum, making the film a must see as regards the evolution of how women have been represented in Brit cinema through the years. Thompson, better known for tough macho fuelled movies on his CV, does a wonderful job in letting us feel the anguish and emotional turbulence. Hazy camera shots couple up with stark framing of the objects in the cramped flat, all marrying up to the fractured nature of Amy & Jim's marriage. There's even humour to be found, very much so, with Louis Levy's musical cue accompaniments deftly shifting from seething passions to Ealing like comedy as the home life of Amy is scattergun in execution.

Kitchen sink, social realist, proto realist and etc? No! This has no pigeon hole to be placed in, it's just terrific film making, from the writing, the performances, the direction and its worth to anyone interested in classic British cinema, this demands to be sought out. And for the record, the last 20 minutes of film will move and invigorate the coldest of hearts. 9/10

Ambush [DVD] [1949] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Ambush [DVD] [1949] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £9.54

4.0 out of 5 stars People only die when they have something to live for., 18 April 2015
Ambush is directed by Sam Wood and adapted to screenplay by Marguerite Roberts from a Luke Short serial story. It stars Robert Taylor, John Hodiak, Arlene Dahl, Jean Hagen, Don Taylor and John McIntire. Music is by Rudolph G. Kopp and cinematography by Harold Lipstein.

"In 1878 the shortest trail West through the territory of Arizona crawled across the foot of Bailey Mountain...

The shortest trail but, the most dangerous. For Bailey Mountain was the stronghold seized by Diablito and his hostile Apaches"

Nice! A Western movie for Western movie lovers to sink their teeth into. It's not exactly wall to wall action on offer here, but there is an adultness to proceedings that hits all the right chords for the discerning audience. The opening scene shows us the aftermath of an Apache raid, then it's introductions to the main characters who will come together to go rescue a kidnapped white woman from Diablito's Apaches.

The build up isn't rushed, we are drawn into the lives of the American Fort residents, their love triangles and frets, while mature themes of adultery and spouse abuse are given some skilled direction and performances. Once traits and peccadilloes are established, the band of not so merry men go off to fight the Apache, the latter of which are thankfully shown as a resourceful foe with some cunning tactics.

Taylor saddles up for a scuzzy portrayal, honourable for sure, but happily dirty and his character is shown to be fallible in one of the many machismo contests that permeate the story. Hodiak offers some elegance, Hagen some emotional punch, while Dahl - costumed to enhance her curvaceous figure - lights up every scene she is in.

The great Harold Lipstein photographs much of the picture through black and white film noir filters, adding the requisite turbulence to the story, while Wood, in what was his last motion picture directorial assignment, directs with assuredness and makes the most of the Simi Valley and Gallup locations.

McIntire is wasted and Bruce Cowling as the violent husband is only just convincing, while the blending of painted backdrops with the gorgeous locales becomes a little distracting in the final quarter. Yet as any hardcore Western fan will tell you, often those sort of things are forgiven if the makers don't insult our intelligence, which is thankfully the case here. 7/10

Warner Archive provide a good healthy transfer to disc.

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