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Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.)
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Tension at Table Rock (Region 2)
Tension at Table Rock (Region 2)
Offered by Arco Celeste Dvd
Price: £15.90

4.0 out of 5 stars Film Review Only, 11 Feb. 2016
The Ballad of Wes Tancred.

Tension at Table Rock is directed by Charles Marquis Warren and is adapted to screenplay by Winston Miller from the novel "Bitter Sage" written by Frank Gruber. It stars Richard Egan, Dorothy Malone, Cameron Mitchell, Billy Chapin, Royal Dano, Edward Andrews and John Dehner. Music is by Dimitri Tiomkin and Technicolor cinematography is by Joseph Biroc.

Wes Tancred (Egan) is a weary gunslinger who is wandering the plains after having been accused of a cowardly killing. Assuming the name of John Bailey, he happens upon the "Bitter Sage" ranch and events there will lead him into the town of Table Rock. Where his future, perhaps damned by his past, will be determined.

A good Oater full of the staples of 50s genre pieces, tension at Table Rock is nonetheless a worthy morsel for those keen of a Western diet. Pic picks up a number of thematic threads, such as the gunman trying to go straight, a lawman who has lost his bottle, and hero worship by way of surrogacy. Naturally there's a romantic angle, with Malone all bright eyed and perched in between Egan and Mitchell, but this is thankfully not over played.

Standard action scenes are handled well by Warren, a man who knew his way around dusters of TV and cinema. Costuming and scenic photography is pleasing, while Egan (tortured square jawed machismo), Mitchell (tortured and scarred and awaiting machismo rebirth) and Dano (eleagant wise man) are in good credit with performances. Best of the support is Dehner, no surprise there, and Angie Dickinson and DeForest Kelly have minor but key roles to play.

It's all tightly played out to the point that the derivative nature of the story is in no way a hindrance to the entertainment on offer. 7/10


The Mask Of Dimitrios (1944) - Region 2 PAL
The Mask Of Dimitrios (1944) - Region 2 PAL
Dvd ~ Sydney Greenstreet
Offered by GREAT4DVD
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A Coffin for Dimitrios., 10 Feb. 2016
The Mask of Dimitrios is directed by Jean Negulesco and adapted to screenplay by Frank Gruber from the novel "A Coffin for Dimitrios" written by Eric Ambler. It stars Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Zachary Scott and Faye Emerson. Music is by Adolph Deutsch and cinematography by Arthur Edeson.

"For money, some men will allow the innocent to hang. They will turn traitor...they will lie, cheat, steal...they will kill. They appear brilliant, charming, generous! But they are deadly. Such a man was Dimitrios"

Dimitrios alright - ruthless and primitive.

Foreign intrigue mystery thriller dressed up in film noir clobber, Jean Negulesco's film is a treat for the so inclined. Often tagged as the inferior baby brother of John Huston's The Maltese Falcon, that statement shouldn't detract from what a good film Dimitrios is. Plot finds Lorre as mystery novelist Cornelius Leyden, who after learning of the body of master scally-wag Dimitrios Makropoulos (Scott) being washed up dead on the shores of the Bosphorus, seeks out his history in the hope of writing a novel about him - aided by the suspicious Mr. Peters (Greenstreet). What he finds is waters more muddier and deeper than the Bosphorus itself.

Narrative is a two pronged affair, we are in the company of Leyden and Peters during real time, and in the dubious company of Dimitrios in a number of flashbacks that introduce new characters that are bruised and battered, or worse, by Dimitrios' actions. The story moves through a number of exotic European locations, ensuring there's always a cosmopolitan feel to the intrigue. Intrigue that ticks away nicely because nothing you sense is as it seems. Moody atmosphere is unbound via Edeson's (also The Maltese Falcon) photography, plenty of low lights and shadows ensure all the mystery machinations are given added impetus.

Back on release some critics bemoaned the lack of action and of "A" list stars, which now looks very unfair criticism. Certainly Greenstreet and Lorre to their fans have never been seen as lesser lights, their body of work holding up as joyous celluloid art. While the lack of action is irrelevant, this is about story telling and of characterisations, of mystery unravels, all of which leads to a super finale that rewards those who invested their time. 8/10


No Title Available

4.0 out of 5 stars Film Reviewed Only, 9 Feb. 2016
A funny story about 6 and 9.

6ixtynin9 (Ruang talok 69) is without doubt a film of acquired tastes, a pic that's hard to recommend with any great confidence. That is, though, unless you have a kink for violent black comedy crime movies, where the narrative drive is quirky and fulsome, even winsome in some regards.

Story finds Lalita Panyopas (excellent) as Tum, a lady who has just been laid off from work courtesy of lots being drawn. Feeling desperate and at the end of her tether, she's amazed to find on her doorstep a noodle box with $25,000 in it. A gift from the gods? Not quite! And once some shifty gangster types come knocking at her door, nothing will ever be the same again...

There's a whole ream of films this draws from, but favourably so, especially since the films often referenced in reviews are pretty tasty in themselves. Yet this is no hack job, director and writer Pen-Ek Ratanaruang has crafted a splendid pot of Thai neo-noir curry, putting his own stamp on things, imbuing the pic with his own flourishes, such as showing acts of violence off screen! Via a shadow, a splatter of blood, or a pair of legs going limp.

The characters who inhabit this world are gloriously strange or purely deranged. The henchmen are from a Thai boxing club, garishly attired in bright red clobber (film is packed with pronounced reds), one of them is even deaf, while their boss is a bit off the map, likes to have one of his charges massage him with is feet. There's a phone sex pest, who ends up being a real key component to how things pan out, and one of the baddies reveals tears and a most bizarre death in the family!

It's all deliciously off kilter, even as the bodies pile up, the black comedy tongue is prodding away at the inside of the cheek. But ultimately its noir heart is with the vagary of fate and of the coincidences that pitch our everyday woman (she's no moll or assassin type) into a bloody and bonkers world. All of which has hinged, ironically, on a number badly screwed to an apartment door! 8/10


Dawn At Socorro [DVD]
Dawn At Socorro [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rory Calhoun
Price: £10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars All my friends are my enemies., 8 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Dawn At Socorro [DVD] (DVD)
*FILM REVIEW ONLY*

Dawn at Socorro is directed by George Sherman and written by George Zuckerman. It stars Rory Calhoun, Piper Laurie, David Brian, Kathleen Hughes, Alex Nicol and Edgar Buchanan. Music is by Joseph Gershenson and cinematography by Carl Guthrie.

One Night In Socorro.

A cracker-jack Western this. Plot essentially has Calhoun as Brett Wade, a tough gunfighter who is suffering badly from ill health. Taking advice from his doctor he decides to retire to healthier pastures, but his past and new enemies refuse to let him go. OK! So it's very much a composite of a number of famous Westerns, but to dismiss this as a cheap knock off would be foolish. The script is very literate and the screenplay never gets tired or preposterous. From an action stand point it scores favourably, right from the opening in Lordsburgh where we get a stockyard shoot-out, pic is never dull.

I wont arrest you for being naked.

There's good black humour in here as well, and some outstanding scenes such as Brett playing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata at his own funeral (you will understand when you see it) and a poker game where the stake is the fetching Piper Laurie! There's a constant running feud between Wade and Jimmy Rapp (Nicol), a well written part of the film as it brings in codes and ethics that play opposite another character.

The tech credits are bang on the money. Location photography out of Apple Valley and Victorville is gorgeous, as is Guthrie's colour lensing for the interiors. Props and set design is hugely appealing, including a super locomotive for the train enthusiasts to gorge on. While the front line cast members (Lee Van Cleef & Skip Homeier have small roles) turn in very good work, with Calhoun once again showing his qualities in the genre.

My past - every dark miserable day of it!

But it's with the characterisations where the film strikes the finest. Laurie's Rannah Hayes has been cast out the family home for apparently being a hussy, she's constantly carrying that baggage with her. She finds a soul mate in Wade, a man dragged down by his life, and the weight of such could be his downfall - and he knows it. Buchanan is wonderfully ebullient as the lawman trying to get Wade out of town ASAP, Nicol is hopped up on booze and a thirst for vengeance, whilst David Brian is entrepreneur Dick Braden, a devious man with no code or honour.

Highly recommended to Western fans. 8/10


Blood And Bone [DVD] [2009]
Blood And Bone [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Michael Jai White
Offered by Wowudo
Price: £2.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Profanity is a brutal vice. He who uses it, is not a gentleman., 7 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Blood And Bone [DVD] [2009] (DVD)
Michael Jai White is one of the baddest men on the planet, so it was inevitable that he would follow in the footsteps of Van Damme, Seagal, Norris etc etc into movies.

A martial artist of supreme skill and deadly grace, White brings not only his imposing physique and skills to the film, but also a moody poise to the role of Isaiah Bone, an ex-convict who infiltrates an underground fight circuit to avenge the murder of a friend.

There is absolutely no surprises in store here, narratively speaking, but the action, the choreography and the editing are high grade stuff. So strap yourself in and roll with it, let the kinetic fury grab you, and rejoice as another martial arts expert enters the fray late in the day.

A terrific action film, hoo-hah! 7/10


Jackie Brown - 2 Disc Collector's Edition [DVD] [1998]
Jackie Brown - 2 Disc Collector's Edition [DVD] [1998]
Dvd ~ Pam Grier
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £3.52

5.0 out of 5 stars Booyah!, 7 Feb. 2016
Coming as it did after critical darlings Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, it's perhaps not surprising that Quentin Tarantino's next film failed to - at the time - scale those giddy heights. Yet on reflection these days, when viewing Tarantino's career nearly twenty years later, it's one of his tightest works.

Working from master pulper Elmore Leonard's novel "Rum Punch", Tarantino had a concrete base from which to build on, which he does with aplomb. Cleaving close to the spirit of Leonard, Jackie Brown is rich with glorious chatter, each conversation either pings with a biting hard buttock edge, or alternatively deconstructing the vagaries of the human condition.

Oh for sure Jackie Brown is talky, but nothing is ever twee or pointless, it's a film that pays rich rewards to those prepared to grasp the characters on show, to be aware that all is building towards the final third. It's then here where the story brings about its stings, with a complex operation cloaked in double crosses and evasive captures, of violence and more...

There's a wonderful portion of the story that sees Tarantino play the same sequence out from different character perspectives, but it's not indulgent. Tarantino reins himself in, not letting stylisations detract from the characters we are so heavily involved with. His other triumph is bringing Pam Grier and Robert Forster to the fore, who both deliver terrific performances. It's through these pair, with their deft characterisations, where Jackie Brown is most poignant and purposeful.

Is Jackie Brown undervalued in Tarantino's armoury? Perhaps it is? But it's ageless, holding up as a piece of intelligent work of note, and well worth revisiting by anyone who hasn't seen it since it was first released. 9/10


Velvet Touch [DVD] [1948]
Velvet Touch [DVD] [1948]
Dvd ~ Rosalind Russell
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Where did you get your luck, Valerie? Or does God pity the wicked?, 7 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Velvet Touch [DVD] [1948] (DVD)
The Velvet Touch is directed by Jack Gage and collectively written by Leo Rosten, Walter Reilly, William Mercer and Annabel Ross. It stars Rosalind Russell, Leo Genn, Claire Trevor, Sydney Greenstreet and Leon Ames. Music is by Leigh Harline and cinematography by Joseph Walker.

Ah, now then, is this a murder mystery in reverse? At the beginning we are shown the crime of murder, so we know the main character is guilty. The rest of the picture thrives on if Valerie Stanton (Russell) will either get caught by the law, own up, or become a victim of crime herself? The screenplay contains a flashback and that grand old devil of someone else being pegged for the murder. There's witticisms abound, with some wonderfully choice lines delivered with relish, while the cast turn in decent shows - Greenstreet doesn't show up till the 45 minute mark, but promptly waddles in and steals the film!

Set to the background of the theatre it's unsurprising to find this is something of a theatrical drama rather than a film noir of the era. It has found its way into a couple of film noir reference books, without really being film noir as such. Certainly the photography is appealing to noir fans, and there's a dark passage of play that definitely comes out of noirville, but really it's a marginal entry. But hey! It's still a very good film that's recommended. 7/10


Dawn At Socorro (1954) - Region Free PAL
Dawn At Socorro (1954) - Region Free PAL
Dvd ~ Rory Calhoun
Offered by GREAT4DVD
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars All my friends are my enemies., 7 Feb. 2016
Dawn at Socorro is directed by George Sherman and written by George Zuckerman. It stars Rory Calhoun, Piper Laurie, David Brian, Kathleen Hughes, Alex Nicol and Edgar Buchanan. Music is by Joseph Gershenson and cinematography by Carl Guthrie.

One Night In Socorro.

A cracker-jack Western this. Plot essentially has Calhoun as Brett Wade, a tough gunfighter who is suffering badly from ill health. Taking advice from his doctor he decides to retire to healthier pastures, but his past and new enemies refuse to let him go. OK! So it's very much a composite of a number of famous Westerns, but to dismiss this as a cheap knock off would be foolish. The script is very literate and the screenplay never gets tired or preposterous. From an action stand point it scores favourably, right from the opening in Lordsburgh where we get a stockyard shoot-out, pic is never dull.

I wont arrest you for being naked.

There's good black humour in here as well, and some outstanding scenes such as Brett playing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata at his own funeral (you will understand when you see it) and a poker game where the stake is the fetching Piper Laurie! There's a constant running feud between Wade and Jimmy Rapp (Nicol), a well written part of the film as it brings in codes and ethics that play opposite another character.

The tech credits are bang on the money. Location photography out of Apple Valley and Victorville is gorgeous, as is Guthrie's colour lensing for the interiors. Props and set design is hugely appealing, including a super locomotive for the train enthusiasts to gorge on. While the front line cast members (Lee Van Cleef & Skip Homeier have small roles) turn in very good work, with Calhoun once again showing his qualities in the genre.

My past - every dark miserable day of it!

But it's with the characterisations where the film strikes the finest. Laurie's Rannah Hayes has been cast out the family home for apparently being a hussy, she's constantly carrying that baggage with her. She finds a soul mate in Wade, a man dragged down by his life, and the weight of such could be his downfall - and he knows it. Buchanan is wonderfully ebullient as the lawman trying to get Wade out of town ASAP, Nicol is hopped up on booze and a thirst for vengeance, whilst David Brian is entrepreneur Dick Braden, a devious man with no code or honour.

Highly recommended to Western fans. 8/10


The Yellow Mountain
The Yellow Mountain
Dvd ~ Lex Barker
Offered by DaaVeeDee-uk
Price: £20.67

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars War of the Mines!, 2 Feb. 2016
This review is from: The Yellow Mountain (DVD)
*FILM REVIEW ONLY*

The Yellow Mountain is directed by Jesse Hibbs and collectively written by George Zuckerman, Russell Hughes, Robert Blees and Harold Channing Wire. It stars Lex Barker, Mala Powers, Howard Duff, William Demarest, John McIntire and Leo Gordon. Music is by Joseph Gershenson and cinematography by George Robinson.

The yellow mountain of the title is in Goldfield, Nevada, and there is gold up there in that thar mountain. There are two local factions in opposition for mining superiority, something is clearly going to have to give...

She thinks I'm a philanthropist.

Lovely tidy Oater this one, it's for the discerning Western fan who has a love for the 1950s boon of the genre. It begins with a fun punch - up as Barker's Andy Martin arrives in town and renews his fremeny relationship with Duff's Pete Menlo, and of course the presence of the gorgeous Nevada Wray (Powers) muddies the testosterone waters still further. Uneasy alliances will be formed and director Hibbs slots in some Western staples (chase/fights/stare-downs etc) as the story progresses, with some very nifty stunt work into the bargain.

Technical credits are way above average. Barker has left Tarzan behind and is playing cowboy, and he's OK, but more of a presence than a fleshy character. Main problem for Barker is the strength of the supporting cast who outshine him. McIntire and Gordon are the weasels, which is always a bonus for Western fans, while Duff and Demarest, the latter of which owns the film, give great character driven turns. With nice outdoor scenery photographed around the Mojave Desert and appealing costuming on show, production is as safe as a brick out-house.

Stoic fans of Westerns will know exactly where it's all going to end up, but formula is fine if the journey is fun and engaging, such is the case here. It isn't going to make anyone's top 100 Westerns list, but genre fans should catch it if they can. 7/10


Everest [DVD]
Everest [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jake Gyllenhaal
Price: £10.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 1996, and Mother Nature's big mama is playing her hand again., 1 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Everest [DVD] (DVD)
Based on a true story, Everest tells about a climbing expedition on the world's highest mountain that would become devastated by a severe snow storm.

She stands and watches over us all, she is Mount Everest, and climbing her is seen as one of the pinnacles of mountaineering. No matter how many lives are lost over the years, there will always be another group of adventurers ready to take on the mountain and the elements that come with her.

The ill fated 1996 trek up Everest gets a worthy cinematic treatment here. Sure it suffers from some of the pitfalls of the disaster movie genre, such as weak characterisations and fake sequences, but emotional investment is high and ready to be grasped by those so inclined. The drama on the mountain is gripping, and thankfully this is matched by the frantic concurrent story strands involving the family and friends waiting at base camp and the family homes. Cinematography is often breathtaking, the acting performances as solid as one of Everest' rock faces, but it's the story that sells itself. A tale well worth reading about, and the cynical among us should do well to remember this fact. 8/10


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