Thursday, October 13, 2016

From Russia with Love (1963)

Caught this one at the Senator Theatre tonight in a nice restoration from Lowry Digital. It's always more fun seeing these Bond flicks on the big screen, so I usually wait until one comes around to the revival theater rather than watching them on video. This one, the second in the series, is one of the best, owing in particular to a great performance by the always-superb Robert Shaw as the killer, Grant. Colorful locations, thrilling action scenes (including some incredibly dangerous-looking stunts) and a rare-but-memorable screen appearance by Lotte Lenya add to the fun.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Red River (1948)

Possibly Hawks' finest Western, rivaled only by RIO BRAVO, it tells the epic story of the first cattle drive on the Chisholm Trail. John Wayne has one of his finest roles as the financially devastated cattle rancher who must move his entire herd from Texas to Kansas, while slowly losing his authority and gradually breaking under the strain of the difficult journey. Montgomery Clift, in a remarkably assured screen debut, is the young ranch hand who defies Wayne in order to assume command and, in true Hawksian fashion, to get the job done right. A rousing score by Dimitri Tiomkin and breathtaking cinematography by Russell Harlan contribute greatly to the film's deservedly high reputation.

Monday, October 03, 2016

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953)

Delirious musical fantasy, conceived and designed by Dr. Seuss, produced by Stanley Kramer, and directed with real flair by Roy Rowland. A boy, bored with his piano lessons, falls asleep and dreams that his piano teacher is actually a mad supervillain and that he is being held captive in a labyrinthine lair. This set-up is a backdrop for a series of colorful, surreal set pieces and songs. This is undoubtedly the best role that Hans Conried ever had, delivering a delightfully madcap performance as the piano teacher. Tommy Rettig delivers a fine performance as the boy, and usband-and-wife vaudeville team Peter Lind Hayes and Mary Healy are good if somewhat bland as the adults in the story. Although often an uneven film, it is nevertheless entertaining and is superior to, and truer in spirit than, the more recent film adaptations of Dr. Seuss stories.