Friday, December 29, 2017

TCM TiVo Alert for January 1-7

January 1–January 7


A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (January 3, 9:30 pm): The first of the brilliant "Spaghetti Westerns" trilogy, starring Clint Eastwood as "The Man With No Name" (an undertaker calls him Joe, but his real name is never revealed) and directed by Sergio Leone, is a rip-off of Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo (also a great movie). What a great rip-off! Eastwood is a stranger who also happens to be an excellent gunslinger who comes to a small Mexican town that's in the middle of a long and bloody feud between the Rojo brothers and the Baxter family. Eastwood's character sees an opportunity for money – as he does in the two other Leone's Westerns in which he stars – by "working" as a gun-for-hire for both. The 1964 film is funny, clever, action-packed and tells a great story. Eastwood's character shows his soft side, a rarity in the trilogy, when he reunites a family forced to separate by the Rojos. Every gunfight scene is outstanding, but the final shoot-out in which Eastwood taunts Ramon Rojo to aim for his heart, he's wearing a steel-plated chest-protector, is legendary. This film changed the face of Westerns, proving a blood-and-guts hard-hitting style could be great.

THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (January 5, 12:00 am): This is a fast-moving 63-minute movie that has famous big-game hunter and writer Bob Rainsford (Joel McCrea) on the other end of the hunt. He is the lone survivor of a yacht that wrecks – we later find out it's not the first and it's no accident – and blows up in a pretty good bit of special effects for a 1932 film. Rainsford swims ashore to a small island owned by Russian expatriate Count Zaroff (played deliciously evil by Leslie Banks), who lives there with a few henchmen and a pack of hunting dogs. Zaroff recognizes Rainsford and it turns out the latter is also a big game hunter hunting the biggest game of all – man. He wants Rainsford to join him, but Rainsford is outraged and refuses. So the would-be hunter becomes the hunted. He and Fay Wray are sent to the jungle to see if they can survive what Zaroff calls "outdoor chess." The action during the hunting part of the movie, filmed at night on the King Kong set, is nonstop and a lot of fun to watch.


THE BANK DICK (Jan. 2, 10:45 pm): W.C. Fields was never funnier than in this film about a no-account who is given a job as a bank guard after he unwittingly foils a robbery. His daughter’s nitwit fiancé works there and Fields soon gets him involved in using the bank’s money to finance a stock scheme that looks as if it will go bust, so they must distract the bank examiner (a wonderfully fussy Franklin Pangborn) until the money can be returned. It all results is a crazy and hilarious car chase when the bank is robbed again.

GOJIRA (Jan. 3, 11:00 am): This is not your father’s Godzilla, with Raymond Burr inserted for American audiences. No, this the original, inspired by a tragic accident that took place when America exploded the first H-Bomb in the Marshall Islands, which used to belong to Japan until World War II. A nearby fishing boat, thought to be out of range of the fallout, got caught and the crew died horribly. That was eight months before this film went into production. Godzilla is a metaphor not only for The Bomb, but for America. In other words, Godzilla R Us. Forget about the American version of the film, which at times didn’t appear to make sense amid all the cuts. This version makes perfect sense and it’s meaning is clear. It’s also a very frightening and serious film, in contrast to the ever increasing silliness of its sequels (except for the first, Gigantis the Fire Monster). It’s a picture that deserves to be seen.

WE DISAGREE ON ... LOGAN'S RUN (January 3, 3:30 am)

ED: C. As with most movies set in the future, Logan’s Run is a child of its times. Made in 1976, we see that the year 2274 pretty much resembles 1976, except everyone lives in a shopping mall and dresses as if going to the disco. Survivors of some sort of holocaust live in a domed city. To control the population the computers that run the city have mandated that anyone over 30 is to be liquidated. The policy is enforced by policemen called “Sandmen.” Of course, Michael York, one of the “Sandmen,” begins to question the policy and becomes a rebel himself. Please, this is a hackneyed plot to begin with, and the “special affects” do nothing to enhance the goings-on. For one, the domed city looks as if it were made for a bad Japanese monster movie – note the miniatures. On the other hand, the cheesy fire-guns used by the sandmen look like something out of a bad Italian sci-fi movie. Speaking of, the special effects in this film are, to put it mildly, atrocious. You can see the strings, for God’s sake. And check out Box the robot. Does it get any worse – or sillier? Truly cringe inducing. As for the acting, Michael York, normally a good actor, is difficult to differentiate from the tress he walks among. Jenny Agutter looks great in those short-short negligees, but she seems to be reading her lines from cue cards. Peter Ustinov has nothing better to do than ham it up and mumble his way through. And Farrah Fawcett-Majors? Well, the less said the better. The duel to the death between York and fellow Sandman Richard Jordan only serves to remind Darth and Obi-Wan that they had nothing to worry about as per competition. And speaking of, can you believe that Star Wars was only a year away? It seems as if it were light years away. I think that in giving this mess a “C” I was being far too generous.

DAVID: B+. I'm a huge fan of early and mid-1970s futuristic dystopian films such as this, Soylent GreenOmega Man and Rollerball. As an aside, the three films I named were subjects of previous We Disagrees with me liking them and Ed not being much of a fan of any. In Logan's Run, it's the year 2274 and some sort of apocalypse has occurred leaving people to live in a domed society with everything they do handled by a super-computer. That leaves them a lot of time for wine, women (or men, though futuristic sex is a little strange) and song. Most everyone is very happy leading a hedonistic life. Among those not thrilled are people approaching and then reaching the age of 30. That's because there's one catch to this society: once you get to be 30, you go through a ritualistic death in a place called "Carousel." It is there where the birthday boys and girls are incinerated and supposedly renewed elsewhere while spectators cheer with each death. Logan 5 (Michael York) is a "Sandman," a cop who hunts down "Runners," those who want to live past 30 and attempt to run for their lives. After killing a Runner, Logan discovers a curious-looking pendant worn by him. Logan takes it to society's computer, which tells him what it is and that he must find a supposed "Sanctuary," where the successful Runners are and destroy it. To make sure Logan does what he's told, the computer adds four years to his life, thus making him 30 and someone with a vested interest in keeping society in order because he's now a Runner. The plot is compelling, and while some of the special effects look straight out of 1976, they were good enough to receive a "Special Achievement" Academy Award for visual effects. It was also nominated for two Oscars – Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, and six Saturn Awards (given by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror films – you know, people who love sci-fi), including one for Best Science Fiction Film. The acting is fine though certainly not great. However, Peter Ustinov is exceptional as an old man living outside the dome. He is the first person anyone from inside the dome sees who is old. The scene in which the dome is destroyed by the computer, after it essentially self-destructs, and those who escape that society see, touch and marvel at Ustinov's character as he is old with wrinkles has a beauty to it. There's a morality tale in this film, but I'm not going to argue it's a classic or even a highly-sophisticated film. What is it? It's an enjoyable and fun science-fiction film with a lot of action and women in very mini miniskirts. 

For the complete list of films on the TCM TiVo Alert, click here.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more David, and Yea the Girls weren't hard to look at. So bad it's good comes to mind! :o)