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Mr. A. E. Ward Davies (Canterbury , England)

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Robert Shaw: More Than a Life
Robert Shaw: More Than a Life
by Karen Carmean
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars informative book of underrated actor., 14 Aug 2006
as this biography shows and what i also know, robert shaw was as famous for his writing as well as being an actor and a darn good one.

this book is slightly difficult to read to start with, but soon picks up.

the authors go into considerable detail about shaw's life and career; his struggling to be recognised in the theatre, then his break in t.v in "the buccaneers," then gradually ascending to gain some kind of notice and finally stardom.

i can't understand why shaw wasn't given more leading roles in films, because he was certainly a great lead. i certainly rate him as a far superior dramatic actor compared to his contempories sean connery and michael caine. strangely enough, they have both had more success in hollywood than robert shaw did. there is no justice sometimes.

i didn't know that robert shaw had an obsessive, sometimes aggressive competitive streak where he had to win at everything he took part in. by all accounts, he was of seemingly limitless energy until excessive drinking took its toll - hence his premature death.

the photographs selected in the biography aren't that good to say the of various films are absent when they should have been highlighted.

it is a shame that he finished his career with some rather poor choices towards the end; "the deep," "force 10 from navorone" and "avalanche express." simply terrible. why he didn't take up sam peckinpah's offer to play sgt. steiner in "cross of iron" i shall never know.

still, as this book points out, shaw has left his mark in plenty of great films; "jaws"(my favourite), "black sunday," "the caretaker," "the birthday party," "from russia with love," "swashbuckler" (my second favourite), "figures in a landscape."

the writers tend to cover shaw novels in slightly too much detail, but informative nevertheless.

a great read of someone who should have achieved far more.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 14, 2011 12:36 AM GMT

A Fistful Of Dynamite (Special Edition) [DVD]
A Fistful Of Dynamite (Special Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rod Steiger
Offered by WorldCinema
Price: 19.99

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars under-rated leone western., 14 Aug 2006
the reputation of this film seems to have suffered rather unfairly compared with leone's previous western "once upon a time in the west."

"a fistful of dynamite" is an overlooked minor classic that has plenty going for it; good acting from rod steiger and james coburn, especially steiger; plenty of gunfights, more great music and a dose of humour now and again. the plot is sometimes difficult to follow, but that doesn't really matter.

it is interesting that the film is based circa 1913 when the old west was just about over. seeing primitive motorcars alongside horses is rather a strange sight to behold.

this isn't called a "special edition" for nothing. the film has finally been restored to its full length of 150 minutes. the original big box video edition from 1982, had the running time of 132 minutes. then in 2003, a d.v.d edition was released that ran for 147 minutes. it's all rather confusing as the film was released in cinemas around the world under different titles with various editing having been, the film is all the better for its proper running time.

there's a short but informative documentary on the making of the film but also an interesting featurette about the different versions that were shown on the original release.

i suppose there is a note of disappointment that "a fistful of dynamite" marked one of the last, or possibly the last spaghetti western directed by the late, great sergio leone. a brilliant way to finish.

For A Few Dollars More  (Special Edition) [DVD]
For A Few Dollars More (Special Edition) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Clint Eastwood
Price: 5.96

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of my personal favourites., 13 Aug 2006
this is just as much a classic now as it was when i first saw it as a small boy over 20 years ago.

i would go so far as to say that "a few dollars more" is superior to "a fistful of dollars."

in this film, the plot is expanded to brilliant effect, there is more action, the setting is more widely spread than before and the music provided is the best i've ever heard in a western.

clint eastwood is his usual laid back self; lee van cleef is rather wooden as always. but the acting honours go to two people; klaus kinski as the gunslinger with the humped back is very good within the limited screen time that he has, but it is gian maria volonte as the crazed leader indio who really steals the film. a pity that there aren't more of his films available on d.v.d, as he is indeed a very good actor.

the special features included are good without being being marvellous. the best ones are the documentary about the film and the interview with clint eastwood.

there are many classic moments to be found here; the gunfight at the end, indio's escape from prison(or should that be a loony bin?), eastwood and van cleef trying to intimidate each other with their shooting skills and indio having a draw against some poor bloke who's got no chance.

sergio leone has really shown what a top director he is, judging by this film and the others that he has done.

i didn't know until recently that i had been watching a version that was slightly censored. these cuts have now been restored, as mentioned in one of the featurettes.

the budget was increased for the film, as the one for "a fistful of dollars" was considerably less. personally i don't notice any difference.

sit back and enjoy one of the best westerns ever made.

The Plague Of The Zombies [VHS] [1966]
The Plague Of The Zombies [VHS] [1966]
Offered by unclejohnsband
Price: 6.95

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars zombies - hammer horror style., 9 Aug 2006
at a time when "hammer" were about to leave bray studios, they finished their time there with one of their best horror films.

shot back-to-back with "the reptile," i regard "the plague of the zombies" as the far more entertaining of the two. this has a very good plot, plenty of atmosphere, subtle humour and some fine acting. qualities that would be lost for the most part in the coming years, sadly.

a shame that there are certain shots still censored after all this time.

i think top performances go to andre morell, john carson and michael ripper, though limited in screentime.

a slight criticism, comes from the zombies being rather under used. it would have been great to have a scene where they roam the village in the middle of the night.

a very good film nevertheless.

Hammer Horror Series [DVD] [1964] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Hammer Horror Series [DVD] [1964] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Clifford Evans
Price: 13.61

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars some forgotten gems., 9 Aug 2006
this is a collection of rather obscure hammer films that include both horror and thrillers.

best films here in my opinion, are "brides of dracula," "night creatures" and "curse of the werewolf."

the latter has been fully restored after spending years being broadcast minus about 5 minutes or more. now running at approximately 92 minutes, the film makes more sense.

the one and only peter cushing leads the way in three films including one of his most famous characters, baron frankenstein.

"kiss of the vampire" is one of the stronger entries in this collection. the weakest is "phantom of the opera."

King Kong Vs Godzilla [DVD] [1962]
King Kong Vs Godzilla [DVD] [1962]
Dvd ~ Tadao Takashima
Price: 3.00

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars clash of the titans., 9 Aug 2006
despite previous reviews, this particular monster film is actually quite good. yes there are some rather slow spots now and then, but i think it's well worth it to see the showdown between king kong and godzilla. i won't give the ending away, but it is a great sequence.

i haven't got this recent d.v.d release, but i still possess an old video copy from the late 80s so at least i've seen the film.

for those who are fans of king kong or godzilla or both(like me), you won't be disappointed.

Godzilla [1954] [DVD]
Godzilla [1954] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Akira Takarada
Price: 8.05

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the one that started the craze., 9 Aug 2006
This review is from: Godzilla [1954] [DVD] (DVD)
a brilliant start to the japanese "godzilla" film series.

all the ingredients in this film are the ones that made the godzilla franchise one of the biggest in the world; corny acting and dialogue, burning buildings, vehicles being smashed up but also the sight of an actor inside a monster suit. all very cliched of course, but that's the way i like it. i have always regarded this particular character with affection, just like that other one king kong.

and now, i finally get to see the original "godzilla" from 1954. although there were two versions of the same film released at the same time, i prefer this one as it is the japanese one with a longer running time of 92 minutes; where as the american version runs for approximately 80 minutes.

the extras are good if a bit limited; the two featurettes are informative, the original designs and sketches for the film are interesting, but i think a full length documentary covering all of the godzilla films would have been outstanding. but that is a minor quibble.

so glad to see this finally on d.v.d.

The Brides of Fu Manchu [VHS] [1966]
The Brides of Fu Manchu [VHS] [1966]

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars patchy sequel., 7 Aug 2006
a reasonable sequel to the classic first film, douglas wilmer isn't as good at playing nayland smith like nigel green, who is sorely missed.

good scenes to be sure, christopher lee is still in the series thankfully but the pace tends to drag along and the plot is rather silly.

still better than the cut-price co-productions that would follow.

Face of Fu Manchu [VHS]
Face of Fu Manchu [VHS]

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best fu manchu by far., 7 Aug 2006
This review is from: Face of Fu Manchu [VHS] (VHS Tape)
this film has remained one of my favourites since i first saw it nearly 20 years.
christopher lee makes for quite an imposing fu manchu and is good at it. the setting of 1920s london has been detailed brilliantly. a good cast bring an imaginative script to life, plus there is some great action along the way.
there has never been a better interpretation of nayland smith than portrayed here by nigel green. the authority and conviction that he brings to the character, makes him the best actor in the film without a doubt. i can remember feeling extremely disappointed that nigel green didn't come back for the second film "the brides of fu manchu." i feel it affects the continuity of the fu manchu series to have three different actors in total playing the same character.
still, a hugely entertaining film that is by far the best compared with the increasing rubbish that followed until it all finished in 1970.

King Kong [VHS]
King Kong [VHS]
Offered by Discountdiscs-UK : Dispatched daily from the UK.
Price: 7.95

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the grandfather of all monster movies., 7 Aug 2006
This review is from: King Kong [VHS] (VHS Tape)
this film may have been made over 70 years ago, but the pioneering special effects are just as effective now as they were then.

the scene of kong on top of the empire state building with his loved one in tow, fighting off the aeroplanes, has become one of the most popular images in the history of cinema.the film also has one of the most famous lines in hollywood thus: "It was beauty that killed the beast."

special effects master willis o'brien had already experimented with his now famous filming technique, in the 1925 film "the lost world." this has been put to better use in "king kong."

the cast are pretty good; fay wray screams a lot more than any other actress i've ever seen but does it convincingly. bruce cabot is passable, if slightly wooden as her love interest but it is robert armstrong as the adventurous, daring filmmaker carl denham who comes off the best. i'm glad he was cast as denham once again in "son of kong" and in "mighty joe young" as a similar character.

kong is essentially an innocent animal who is used to ruling in his own habitat. it is rather sad when he comes up against man and his machines and makes for a touching ending.

king kong is the biggest and the strongest of the screen monsters- note how he defeated godzilla in "king kong vs. godzilla." (1963)

forget the inferior 1976 version and other sequels, stick to the original.

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