What this movie needed was Cinerama. That format blended exotic locale and thrills. The Tanganyika setting and jeeps belting across uneven terrain to capture myriad wildlife provide the two required elements. But the rest of the film struggles to keep up. Here Howard Hawks combines his two most common themes, a group of men stuck … Continue reading “Hatari! (1962) ***”
Sean Connery in an early role as a gangster is not the only reason for watching this brisk British thriller about a London protection racket. Primarily told from the point-of-view of the bad guys, this explores how a ruthless Mr Big (Herbert Lom) builds up a criminal empire. Lom, a bent accountant, brings together the … Continue reading “The Frightened City (1961) ***”
The heist movie – as epitomised by The Asphalt Jungle (1950), The Killing (1958) and Jules Dassin’s Rififi (1955) and Topkapi (1954) – had tended to be a relatively low-budget affair. Top-ranking stars steered clear because complicated plot often got in the way of character development In the highly polished and entertaining Gambit British director Ronald Neame’s riff on the genre involved a narrative shift … Continue reading “Gambit (1966) ****”
Director Blake Edwards was so confident that he could repeat on the big screen the small screen success of Peter Gunn (1958-1961) that the movie was promoted as the first in a series. He couldn’t have been more wrong. Although the private eye genre had been given a fillip by Paul Newman’s shamus Harper (1966) … Continue reading “Gunn (1967) *”
A clever mixture of detail and derring-do, World War Two picture Operation Crossbow (1965) – based on the true story of Allied infiltration of a German rocket factory – was a surprising hit at the British box office. The picture took a risk in keeping star George Peppard hidden from view for the first 28 minutes (top-billed … Continue reading “Operation Crossbow (1965) ****”
Hitchcock had set the standard for the glossy thriller. But the bar was set so high few others reached it. Stanley Donen fitted that category with Charade (1963) with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn and now he was back for a second crack but minus either star. And the replacement male lead was less of … Continue reading “Arabesque (1966) ****”
A belated entry into the Cold War thriller genre that appeared to have peaked with Dr Strangelove (1964), Fail Safe (1964) and Seven Days in May (1964). The Bedford Incident, filmed in black-and-white with a less-than-stellar cast nonetheless holds its own as an examination of men under pressure, a cat-and-mouse actioner, as well as a … Continue reading “The Bedford Incident (1965) ****”
Christopher Nolan take note – sci-fi works best if the premise (no matter how preposterous) is simple to understand. In this endearing adventure, set in Victorian times, Professor Cavor (Lionel Jeffries) has invented a paste that defies gravity. Thus liberated, a spaceship covered in the stuff, for example, would fly to the Moon. The story … Continue reading “First Men in the Moon (1964) ***”
To round off my week of celebration of The Magnificent Seven, I’ve made a 10-minute video for Youtube (link below). A number of people contacted me to ask why I wrote the book in the first place. As that was quite unusual in itself, I thought i would explain myself. A decade ago as a … Continue reading “How I Came To Write “The Making of The Magnificent Seven””
Tomorrow is the 60th anniversary of the release of the original The Magnificent Seven, and this marks the end of my week-long tribute to the picture and its impact on the American western. Timing was the biggest obstacle standing in the way of the second sequel. This was the year of masterpieces such as The … Continue reading “Guns of The Magnificent Seven (1969) ***”
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