Showing posts with label 1970's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1970's. Show all posts

Sunday, November 22, 2020

PODCAST: "Robin and Marian" (1976) - a Connery Tribute PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan


Watched:  11/01/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Richard Lester


The Signal Watch is sad we've lost a film icon in Sean Connery, so SimonUK and yours truly check out one of Connery's less discussed but curiously interesting films - where he plays a middle-aged Robin Hood returning to Sherwood Forest after 20 years away. A meditation on legends, aging, love, what drives us and what we hang onto. 
Music
Robin and Marian Suite - John Barry


Monday, November 16, 2020

Watch Party Watch: The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (1974)




Watched:  11/13/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  third
Decade:  1970's (and sooooo 1970's)
Director:  Joseph Sargent

I saw this one the first time at the Paramount with absolutely zero context.  Back in the day, I'd just show up for whatever was showing during the Summer classics series, and it's how I first saw some of my "new favorite" films since college.  Third Man.  Sunset Boulevard.  and a host of others.  

And, yeah, I really like The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (1974).  It's a tidy caper movie, sharing screen time between the heisters and the heisted, but with no set up - just the execution.  So, when four guys take a subway car hostage on a weekday afternoon in New York, it makes no sense to the guys running the subway - blue collar schlubs whose jobs it is to literally make the trains run on time - and it takes a minute they don't have to figure out what the hell is going on.  Let alone - how the baddies think they're going to get away with it (they're trapped in a tunnel, too).  

The gang is a classic heist gang.  The master mind.  The wild card.  The dutiful sergeant.  The guy who is there as the inside man.  But part of what makes the movie is that the guys on the other side of the mic aren't hostage negotiators - they're public employees suddenly in a very weird position, running communications from the heisters all the way to the Mayor.  And, of course, they're a bunch of 1970's New Yorkers.  

As the world I live in is project and operational management, I get a kick out of heist films.   The heist = a project - and the plan for the heist, accounting for everything that can occur and keeping your stakeholders managed sure feels familiar.    The opposite side is operations, which are interrupted by the interference of the heist.  And - man, as I am wont to say - people are terrible in a crisis.

One detail I like about the film is that no one is working in synch on the MTA or government side.  From the mayor dithering and worrying about votes to the internal disagreement in the subway tracking office where Matthau is trying to keep things in hand.  I assure you, there's almost always someone in a crisis who is more bent out of shape that they can't do their usual job than aware of the actual unfolding situation than makes rational sense.

The movie was released in '74, so the occupants of the jobs likely have been sitting in that office since the late 1950's.  There's a casual racism and sexism pervading the scene and characters, and the film does comment on it - albeit not in the way we're used to in 2020.  Brace yourself for some stereotypes (especially among the hostages) and among the main cast.  It's a movie about an imperfect world that has to suddenly deal with the unknown.  

It's a tight film - the run time almost occurs in about half of real-time.  We don't worry too much about the home lives of the characters, and we don't even really know the motivations or what led up to the heist.  But what we do get is a wild mix of talent in the film which makes it work.  Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Jerry Stiller, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo, Doris Roberts, Julius Harris, Kenneth McMillan, and a bunch of other faces you'll recognize (I finally identified Robert Weil as also appearing in Hudsucker Proxy after it's bugged me every time I've watched this movie previously).   

Anyway, worth your time some time.


Thursday, November 5, 2020

Election Week Watch: The Muppet Movie (1979)




Watched: 11/04/2020
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1970's
Director:  James Frawley

We watched most of this movie on election night in order to avoid the news.  Finished it up last night in order to avoid the news.

Everytime I watch this, I am reminded that Rowlf is the funniest Muppet.   And Paul Williams needs to be re-re-discovered every three years.


Saturday, October 31, 2020

Hammer Watch: Dracula A.D. 1972




Watched:  10/28/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Alan Gibson

So, we skipped a Dracula movie in there because we read it was super not good, and Jamie's been watching these with me, and I'm trying not to make her hate this.  I have a weird fondness for this very not good movie, which I'd seen before and picked up on discount on BluRay.  But, you know, from a critical standpoint, and through the eyes of 2020, it's hard to say Dracula A.D. 1972 aged particularly well.  

Monday, October 26, 2020

Watch Party Watch: The House That Dripped Blood (1971)




Watched:  10/23/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming Watch Party
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Peter Duffell

Really, an excuse for me to watch an Ingrid Pitt movie, I subjected friends to The House That Dripped Blood (1971), a horror anthology starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Denholm Elliot and, of course, Ingrid Pitt, all in different sequences.  

The budget is modest, but it does have a sort of fun "let's tell spooky stories over the campfire" vibe to it, with four episodes of horror, all in complete different genres.  One - a writer conjures the villain from his book to life.  Two - a retired actor stumbles upon a wax figurine in a wax works in the village that reminds him of a woman with whom he failed to kindle a relationship, and he becomes obsessed.  Third - a man moves into the house with his young daughter, who may be a bit too much like her deceased mother.  Fourth - a horror movie star and his much younger girlfriend/ co-star move into the house while he also secures a cape that may really, really get him into the role of a vampire.

It is a silly movie, in many ways, but a darn good one for the Halloween season.  


Sunday, October 25, 2020

Hammer Watch: Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)




Watched:  10/24/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:   Peter Sasdy

I actually liked this Dracula a bit more than I expected.  We're hitting 1970 by this time, Hammer was loosening up, and the characters feel a bit more three-dimensional around Dracula - which is welcome what with the lack of Peter Cushing.  

Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) picks up during the events of the prior Dracula film, with Dracula impaled on a golden cross.  A wayward English traveler comes upon the scene at that very moment, and, being an enterprising fellow, collects Dracula's cape, his clasp and his ring after the count is "dead".  As well as putting some of his blood in a vial.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Hammer Watch: The Vampire Lovers (1970)


 

Watched:  10/21/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Roy Ward Baker

A few years ago I included The Vampire Lovers (1970) in my list of one of the best movies I'd watched that year, but I don't think I'd actually watched it again since.  Maybe in bits on cable, but this year I've been saving another rewatch for Halloween-season.   The last few Octobers were obnoxiously busy times for me (in no small part because of baseball, but the Cubs were very bad this year).  But, last year I squeezed in a listen to the audiobook of the source material, the novella Carmilla.  (I should mention, the novella predates Dracula by about 15 years).

Monday, October 12, 2020

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Watch Party Watch: Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter (1974)


 

Watched:  09/27/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Brian Clemens

I kinda like this goofy movie. 

Hammer had the not-all-that-bad idea in a post-James Bond era to frame a new character as one of the disaffected antiheroes that had made their way into film.  I am certain this was intended to be the first of several films starring Captain Kronos, but Hammer studios was on the verge of collapse and wsn't able to continue the adventures of the good Captain.  

The movie is also - I learned - part of the Karnstein vampire saga which began with an adaptation of the 1872 novel Carmilla starring Ingrid Pitt and retitled The Vampire Lovers.  As an alternative to the Dracula films, Hammer had found new angles on the Karnsteins across 3 films in 1970 - 71 before the incredibly iffy return of Drac in 1972.

This film sees a vampire that haunts the woods outside a remote village.  The local doctor calls in a friend from "the war", an expert swordsman who pairs with a Van Helsing-like expert in vampire affairs to root out and eliminate the fiends (and in Hammer, especially, the vampires are not just misunderstood weirdos or X-Men with a blood addiction).  Kronos is Hammer's version of a bad-motherf@#$er - chain smoking his way through the film, rescuing a grateful Caroline Munro from her small-minded fellow villagers and bringing her along for the inevitable sex scene and to fawn over him throughout the movie.  

For their part, the vampire is draining young girls of their youth and essence.  Meanwhile, clues start mounting up pointing at the wealthy rich family in town.  

All in all, it's pretty straight-forward stuff.  Hammer was looking to get a bit more action-adventure with their movies and maybe push their aging cast of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing as the leads for young film fans to enjoy.  It's actually a good enough formula that a smattering of non-Dracula vampire movies of the past thirty years have borrowed the idea of cool vampire hunters, from Vampire Hunter D to Vampire$ and a bunch I'm not thinking of.   But - Blade the Vampire Hunter appeared in Marvel comics a year before this movie arrived in theaters.  Pretty wild.  Something was in the air.

The movie does include some swordplay, but it never quite reaches Errol Flynn-ness.  And maybe suggested a cantina scene to a certain Mr. Lucas.  

There's no, like, deeper themes to the movie.  It's pretty straightforward, sets up Kronos and his pal and what their adventures look like, and then mic drops.  If you're looking for something that does some good genre bending and is clearly having a good time doing it, sure!  

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Watch Party Watch: Someone I Touched (1975)


 


Watched:  09/22/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Lou Antonio

Well, this falls squarely into "something I probably wouldn't have watched on my own".  A 1975 TV movie about syphilis and the people in Southern California who get it.  However, it does star Cloris Leachman making 1970's outfits actually work.  

It's easy to forget - we live in an era of media that's deeply scrubbed and sanitized.  Sure, sure, we've got gritty heroes and complex moral subplots, but a movie torn from the headlines about how sleeping around on your spouse isn't just naughty, it can give you a debilitating (but treatable) disease would be considered un-airable on network TV.  In an era where we had basically three networks and PBS, this was what a network decided would make for good all-purpose viewing.  

And, it's surprisingly good, helped along by Leachman turning in a rock solid performance and bringing some realism to a melodrama that includes infidelity and the impact beyond our immediate group of characters.  In fact, it starts far out from Leachman and works it's way back.  

I don't want to oversell the movie, but there's some willingness to deal with real-life unpleasantness and leave things a bit ambiguous that could exist in today's landscape, but it's hard not to imagine it getting glossed up and the audience missing the point and turning it into a game of "who do we blame here, because everything is about winning and losing?"


Thursday, September 17, 2020

Fosse Watch: All That Jazz (1979)




Watched:  09/15/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First (all the way through)
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Bob Fosse

Not that long ago I watched the FX limited series Fosse/Verdon, an FX television production following the later careers of Broadway and Hollywood director Bob Fosse and his ex-wife - famed performer, Gwen Verdon.  If you've not seen it, I can't recommend it enough.  It stars two of the greats of this era, Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell, and features some amazingly nuanced performances by both, in a co-dependent relationship/ partnership that's bigger than a failed marriage.  

I'm not a musical theatre follower - and certainly no historian of the second half of the 20th Century when it comes to musical theater or movie musicals, but it's not hard to see the impact Bob Fosse left on the form, and why everyone is still scrambling to keep up.  His stage show of Chicago (2002) managed to win Academy Awards when turned into a hit movie decades after his passing (1987).  And during his lifetime he was a huge part of the movement that made musicals relevant, updated dance on Broadway, and turned sexiness from something blushing and suggested to something overt.  And - he made the films Sweet Charity, Cabaret, Lenny, Star80 and All That Jazz (1979).

I'd seen parts of All That Jazz years ago, but on a channel that cut it for TV and for commercials, and given the flow, I threw in the towel with an intention to watch it all in one shot - which I never did.  But i did see enough of it to gather some basic facts - I figured it was a confessional auto-biopic from when "directed by Bob Fosse" came up, and saw what the film was about.  So I didn't go into Fosse/Verdon totally unprepared.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Bear Watch: Grizzly (1976)


 

Watched:  09/07/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  William Girdler

So, I very much remember this VHS box fading on the shelf of pretty much every video rental place I went from the mid-80's to the late 90's.  I think it was usually in the horror section, which is an inaccurate place to put the movie, but it's not action, either.  But I never thought much about it - I just didn't rent it.  Looked like a movie about a large bear eating people, and I was pretty far into my 30's before I realized I liked movies about large animals giving humanity a bad time.

So, apparently there's a sequel that was never released, and it includes actors like Louise Fletcher, John Rhys Davies, George Clooney and.. most importantly.. Laura Dern.  Shot in 1983, it's just NOW about to get a release.  And I figured "well, I don't want to not know what happened in the first one...", and even though the original is 100% Laura Dern-free, Jamie and I fired it up.  

Friends: what if Jaws, but bear?  

That is the question posited by Grizzly, the highest earning independent movie ever when it was released in 1976.  And I'm not exaggerating - someone went to see Jaws and wrote down the events of that movie, and tried to map their own script onto the story of Jaws.  But instead of a 25 foot shark, we have a 15' grizzly bear.  Instead of a Sheriff, we have a Captain of the Park Rangers.  

They even include scenes like the Captain getting drunk when someone gets killed, and a spooky monologue about a herd of grizzlies eating people.  There are three main characters, but one of them (played by "that guy" actor Richard Jaeckel) is a mix of Hooper and Quint (he even wears Hooper's little hat).  

There's a Park Manager who doesn't want to shut the park down, invites in hunters... you're maybe familiar with the plot.

Anyway - it's also kind of plodding and gives you an idea what Spielberg and his editors did so well that this movie did not.  But, again, wildly successful!  

Anyhoo... I want to podcast this with Simon at some point.  So, more to come.


Friday, August 21, 2020

J-Swift Watch Party: Thank God It's Friday (1978)



Watched:  08/19/2020
Format:  Amazon Prime Streaming Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director: Robert Klane

This was Jenifer's choice of movie for a Watch Party on Wednesday, and it was a great choice.  Not a *bad* movie, but a fun one with lots of stuff to talk about.  It all takes place in one night at a disco in LA, following multiple storylines.  And! it features Donna Summer, Jeff Goldblum, Debra Winger, the actual Commodores, and a cast of dozens you will never see again. 

It's super goofy and has that belief in discos that you one saw in a handful of movies by people you suspect hadn't really spent all that much time in a disco, but it is full of 70's-flavored male chauvinism, 70's sexism, 70's-flavored ideas about dating and marriage, and the eternal power of Goldblum and the Commodores.

Donna Summer can't act, exactly, but she was *fun*, so there's that. 

You will spend a good amount of the movie runtime wondering if the movie is going to go for an endorsement of swinging, which feels odd, and in the end, I think it split the difference. 

Good pick, Jenifer!

Monday, August 17, 2020

PODCAST: "Le Samourai" (1967) and "The Conformist" (1970) - a European Neonoir Watch w/ JAL and RYan



Watched:  Le Samourai 07/28, The Conformist 07/31
Format:  HBOmax/ BluRay
Viewing:  third for both, I believe
Decade:  1960's/ 1970's
Director:  Jean-Pierre Melville  & Bernardo Bertolucci

For more ways to listen


Justin and Ryan head to Europe for some neo-noir! We swing through France for a hitman film and over to Italy for... well, he's not much of a hitman, really. One of these is absolutely noir and the other, we're kind of calling a noir - and we're pretty excited about both of them. Join us as for a double-bill, continental style!





Music:

Le Samourai Title Theme - François De Roubaix
The Conformist Title Theme - Georges Delerue


Playlist - Noir Watch:




Monday, August 10, 2020

PodCast: 114 "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977) - A Bond PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan


Watched: 07/30/2020
Format: BluRay
Viewing: Unknown
Decade: 1970's
Director: Lewis Gilbert

For more ways to listen


It's Roger Moore, and nobody does it better! One of the biggest-scale Bond movies, with some great villains, a terrific romance and cool-as-hell gadgets! What's not to like about this one? SimonUK and Ryan discuss a Bond movie that may be at sea, but is never adrift. Plus - Ryan gets to talk about Caroline Munro for a bit.




Music:

Nobody Does it Better - Carly Simon (like you didn't know)


Playlist:



Caroline Munro is here to remind you that just because you're trying to kill people doesn't mean you can't look your best



Saturday, July 25, 2020

Bruce Watch: Fist of Fury (1972)



Watched:  07/25/2020
Format:  Criterion BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Wei Lo

So, if the *last* Bruce Lee movie I watched I wondered "hey, why didn't they use more of the snow cone girl?" - friends, I have learned that is Nora Miao, and I was not the only one who thought she should get more screentime.  Here she plays the childhood sweetheart of Bruce Lee's Chen Zhen, and she appears in a few of Bruce Lee's big-name movies.

First, I loved Fist of Fury (1972).  Great story, interesting character arc, complex scenarios and amazing fight scenes.  Nothing to not like.  I don't know if the film had a much higher budget than The Big Boss, but it just *looks* better than the prior film, and the story is infinitely tighter.

The story will feel a bit familiar to those of us who've seen Fist of Legend (which you should 100% see), and I'm unclear if this movie is based on a true story of any kind.  I don't think so, but... the movie says it does?

When a Master of a martial arts school dies under mysterious circumstances, his star pupil, a passionate young Bruce Lee, returns to Shanghai to mourn - and, once he's clicked to the fact the death made no sense - seek out justice.  The story takes place in The Settlement, something I had to look up, an international portion of Shanghai that has a fascinating history.

The Japanese come to the funeral for the Master and basically bully multiple schools at once, knowing that the Chinese can't push back.  Except for Chen Zhen, who comes to the Japanese dojo and kicks the living crap out of *everyone* in a dynamic fight sequence.  However, this leads to retribution on several fronts and an impossible situation for Chen Zhen's school.

Bruce realizes this was the girl selling shave-ice in the last movie


At the heart of the film is Chen Zhen's romance with Nora Miao, and their interrupted dreams of settling down and running a martial-arts school, and the opportunity for Lee to do some dramatic acting alongside his angry-young-man work.

Anyway - shocker, this is a good Bruce Lee film.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Bruce Lee Watch: The Big Boss (1971)



Watched:  07/21/2020
Format:  Criterion BluRay
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Lo Wei

I've only ever seen two Bruce Lee movies, but - like everyone - I like the *idea* of Bruce Lee.  His byzantine relationship with America and Hong Kong, his cocksure manner that he could 200% back up, his ability to synthesize the old into the new, his drive and his ability to cut to the quick of reality in a few spare words that it comes off as spiritualism.

Be water, indeed.

The Big Boss (1971) is not Lee's first movie.  He'd been a child actor before getting sent to the US (where he was born and so had citizenship - his father touring in the US as a performer at the time of his birth) for street-fighting and headng down a bad path.  Lee had starred in 20 movies or so in Hong Kong, and appeared on US television as Kato and other roles, as well as appearing in the Chandler adapted film Marlowe (he's good, but his exit is not great).

He returned to Hong Kong to find out he was a bit of a star thanks to The Green Hornet, and was hired by Golden Harvest, who put him in The Big Boss.  By American standards of 1971, it's a low-budget production.  The story is fairly straightforward.  And Lee is used very strangely.

According to an interview attached to the disc, The producers weren't sure which of the two main characters at the start of the film would be the hero of the story, so Lee's character just sort of watches from the sidelines.  Apparently the producer, Raymond Chow, liked what he saw, because he canned the director and put Lee in the rest of the film - and the rest is history.

When he's finally allowed to cut loose, Lee is like a magnesium flare suddenly bursting into the film.  His martial arts are totally different, he's the fully formed, swagger-prone Lee you know.  The beginning of the movie is a decent set-up, if a bit stiff, but once Lee enters the fray (breaking a promise to his mother not fight), the rest of the movie takes off like a shot.  Including simple, dramatic scenes.

In a way, it's like seeing a character dropped in from another movie, and I am not bagging on 1970's martial arts films, but there's a reason The Big Boss kick-started Lee's superstardom.  He's really frikkin' good and clearly an innovator of character and fighting style. 

I won't oversell the actual film.  It's creaky and clunky, and marginally more adult than I had expected (some light nudity and sexuality paired with an axe to the head or two, and piles upon piles of dead people).  And there are plot holes.  But when it takes off, you don't really care all that much. 

Mostly I want to know what happened to the girl you see selling snow cones at the beginning.  I kept thinking she'd be relevant - but not so much. 

Here's to you, snow cone lady.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Watch Party Watch: The Stepford Wives (1975)


Watched:  07/17/2020
Format:  Amazon Prime Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Bryan Forbes

The Stepford Wives (1975) is a movie you will absolutely guess how it works and what it is, and how it will end, and you should absolutely still watch it.  

Starring Katharine Ross (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), it's a New York City woman with two young girls and a husband as they move into the suburban town of Stepford, CT.  Good schools, big houses and yards, it's a post WWII dream.  Immediately we learn that Joanna's (Ross) husband didn't actually consult with her about the move, which she found out was a done deal after she saw the house and agreed to it.  But she let that slide.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

PODCAST: 110 - "King Kong" 1933, 1976, 2005 & "KIng Kong Lives" (1985) and "Kong: Skull Island" (2017)



King Kong  (1976)
watched:  06/03/2020
Format:  DVD
Viewing: No idea
Director:  John Guillermin

Kong Lives (1985)
watched 06/08/2020
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  third?
Director: John Guillermin

Kong: Skull Island (2017)
watched: 06/12/2020
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  second?
Director:  Jordan Vogt-Roberts

King Kong (2005)
watched:  06/13/2020
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  third
Director:  Peter Jackson

King Kong (1933)
Watched:  06/23/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  no idea
Director:  Merian C. Cooper


For more ways to listen



It's King Kong-a-Palooza as we take on 5 movies about one big monkey. Stuart joins in as we talk about the modern mythology of King Kong, what the story tells us, and what it tells us about ourselves that we retell the story every few decades. We reflect on man, ape, mysterious islands, mystery in general, and fame as we ponder the various takes. Join us as we discuss 1933, 1976, 2005 "King Kong" installments, as well as "King Kong Lives" and the recent entry "Kong: Skull Island".





Music:
King Kong Main Theme (1933) - by Max Steiner
King Kong Opening Theme (1976) - by John Barry