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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Category Archives: 1960s

The Dirty Dozen (1967)

Who doesn’t want to go out and kill some Nazis?

Major Reisman (Lee Marvin) is assigned an unusual and top-secret pre-invasion mission: Take a small unit of soldiers convicted of felonies and turn them into a commando squad to be sent on a special mission. The mission is an airborne infiltration and assault on a chateau near Rennes in Brittany. And the incentives for those felons who survive the mission is that they will have their sentences commuted. It quickly becomes clear that both Reisman and his superiors regard the operation as a near suicide mission and expect that few, if any of the felons will return.

The first hour-and-a-half of the Dirty Dozen is as good as you can get. There’s plenty of action, jokes, and cool, macho-stuff going on between a bunch of guys that will just get any dude watching it, feeling inspired that they now have to act like this in order to get whatever it is that they want. Not saying that going around and shootin’ up Nazis left and right will get you anywhere, but acting big and tough like these guys seems like it could get you going somewhere in life even if it just by pure intimidation.

Now he knows not to back-talk.

Now he knows not to back-talk.

It’s the typical man movie, for better and for probably worse, depending on who you’re talking to.

Where this film works is the fact that it takes what we usually expect with a WWII movie, flip it on its side, and give us a flick that not only has a whole lot of humor, but also a bunch of violence that seems like these film-makers take pride in showing on the screen. Back in those days before this little ditty hit, WWII flicks were pretty grim, dark, and depressing, as they should be because that’s what war was. Instead, we get an action-filled ride with humor, murder, and a couple of really cool pieces of violence against the enemy at the time, and when it’s all said and over, we all jump up in the air and say, “Yay!”. It was a very risky move taking what was essentially a very touchy subject all those 22 years later, and make light of, but it works well because the movie’s not trying too hard to be funny in a way that’s offensive. It just has a light sense of humor that works, given the setting and all that.

However, as great as this film may be for totally taking these war movies conventions and giving them a nice “edge”, we still seem to get something very similar to them by the end of this flick just when they decide to get all serious on us. Right about the half-way mark, when it seems like all of these crooks have had their fun, had their training, and had their time to shine, they get shipped off to do the big mission they were assigned to do in the first place and that’s where things started to get a little fishy for me, just by how the tone switched up very dramatically.

Don’t get me wrong here, this film is barely ever boring, but it’s just that the last hour of this movie seemed to face problems with the fact that they couldn’t really escape the idea of some of these people dying combat, having their last words, and never being able to walk the face of Earth again. I don’t care what war flick you’re making, nine times out of ten, you’re going to have to come to this fact and show it in your movie, which is what this film does here, it’s just a shame that it takes more away from the film than actually give it any dramatic depth. We care for these characters and whenever one of them goes down, we feel for them, but it also feels very uneven. It’s as if director Robert Aldrich didn’t know how far he wanted to go with the comedy, nor did he know how far he wanted to go with the violence and death, either.

It’s sort of a mixture between the two and it doesn’t quite bode well for the final-half.

Either way though, the cast is pretty great, featuring a who’s who of absolute bad-asses.

Eh, don't look behind you but I think Charlie Bronson's there.

Eh, don’t look behind you but I think Charlie Bronson’s there.

Lee Marvin leads the movie Major John Reisman, someone who doesn’t take a single bit of back-talk at all, but he’s also not necessarily the hard-nosed drill instructor we’re so used to seeing and hearing in these kinds of movie. He’s not screaming or yelling curses, he’s not taking them down and making them all little playthings in front of everybody else, and he sure as hell isn’t making his soldiers be respectable to him and call him “sir” and whatnot. Basically, this guy doesn’t get on these cases about much and just makes a deal with them – you do your job, I’ll do mine, and maybe, just maybe, we can both get out of here alive and you may get free for good. It’s a pretty strong deal that this dozen makes with Reisman and what better person to make that deal than Lee Marvin. I got to tell you, this guy is cool and pretty bad-ass when he needs to be.

But honestly, Marvin’s just the tip of the iceberg, like I’ve mentioned before. There’s a whole slew of famous peeps from this dozen like Charles Bronson (before he started taking a hobby in vigilantism), Donald Sutherland (before Kiefer started trying to take his legacy), Telly Savalas (before he got his stint on Kojak), Jim Brown (after he just retired from kicking booty in football and before he started going off and kicking more booty in films) and John Cassavetes (before his indie film-making career took over the world). There’s plenty more that are apart of that dozen and they’re all amazing, and add side performances for Ernest Borgnine and George Kennedy to the supporting cast and you got yourself a bunch of dudes, who know what they’re doing, how to do it, and how to make it fun while still maintaining that level of respect that usually comes with the actors of these statures.

Wow. I’ve literally grown more hair on my chest.

Consensus: The Dirty Dozen suffers a bit from unevenness, but still features plenty of kick-ass moments of action, violence, blood, and Nazis being killed and also some great performances from a cast that is just filled with a who’s who of bad-ass, male actors from the 60’s.

8 / 10

If only I was as cool.

If only I was as cool.

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins, FilmDROID

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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

The Western that even made Clint chuckle. Just a little bit, though. He still found a way to be as bad-ass as ever

Here lies the story of the Wild West outlaws known as Robert LeRoy Parker, known to history as Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and his partner Harry Longabaugh, the “Sundance Kid” (Robert Redford). Together, they pulled-off many wacky and wild heists back in their day but here, we watch specifically as they migrate to Bolivia while on the run from the law in search of a more successful criminal career. It works for a little while, that is until the boys rely who they really are and know that they can’t settle down, be calm, and cool. They got to rob, even if their lives depend on it.

For the past two months, something has come over me. I keep on finding myself, sitting down once a week, and poppin’ in a DVD of a Western movie. I don’t know if it’s because of the weather, because I’m bored, or just because I enjoy a nice little shoot ’em up action that take place in deserts, but I’ve just been watching them a lot lately. However, seeing all of these Westerns so much, I think I’ve come to terms with what’s usually seen and accepted with them, which makes it all the better to see one that isn’t your typical Western, no matter how much it gets regarded as one.

Those horses are just happy to be in the same frame as these two legends, and not awaiting their fate at the next Meat Convention.

Those horses are just happy to be in the same frame as these two legends, and not awaiting their fate at the next Meat Convention.

What separates this Western, from so many others out there in the world is that director George Roy Hill takes an approach to this material that is more light-hearted, then it is grim, which is something very different for a Western, especially for one back in that day. When you get the usual Eastwood/Leone Spaghetti-Westerns, you get sinister, dark stares into the sky; guys killing each other in cold blood; innocents going down like flies, and a whole bunch of other gritty shit that is willing to make anybody feel depressed. That’s where this film is very different with that idea that everything has to be dark and grim, in order to make a good Western. All you really need is a bunch of laughs, shootings, and bank robberies, to have a good old-fashioned time, and that is exactly what Hill and co. allow for us to have.

In fact, that’s what really kept me going with this film even when it started to hit some slow spots, here and there. Everybody involved with this flick seems like they’re having so much fun and it’s almost contagious because whenever you see these guys rob a bank or beat the shit out of some gringos, you don’t feel mad at them or feel like these are the two most despicable pieces of human-beings that you have ever seen put on-screen. Instead, you love it and you can’t wait till they start to do some more of that, along with knocking out some pretty funny one-liners along the way to really get you laughing. It’s not all about being an evil son-of-a-bitch here, it’s about being on the bad-side of the law and still having a fun-ass time regardless of wondering who is following you and when they are going to eventually catch your asses. Very different approach to the usual Western people in those days were used to, and I’d say it’s a good thing that it changed the genre up because without this flick, that genre probably would have started to fall off the face of the Earth and become a bore to every person who even bothered with it.

Then again, it’s a genre that’s still growing strong all of these years later, so I think it’s safe to say that the times may have changed, yet the game remains the same.

But people, let’s be honest, this movie would not be as entertaining and fun if it wasn’t for the two leading men, playing in these iconic roles: Paul Newman and Robert Redford as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Both of these actors, in their own right, are amazing actors that will forever be remembered in pop-culture just for giving out some great performances for basically every film they have done, but they’re pairing here is definitely some of the most fun either of them have had in any film prior to this. Whether they are together or not, both seem to be having a ball with themselves, as well as the material and it’s almost infectious, especially when you get to watching these two vets just work their hardest to make their fun time, not just their fun time, but ours as well. Thankfully, it works.

Newman just oozes cool no matter what it is that he does and plays the brains-side of this duo very well as Butch Cassidy, and Robert Redford plays his charm up perfectly, as one of the most intimidating dudes with a ‘stache ever, The Sundance Kid. Both of them have very different sets of skills, but they both complement each other in a way where the one would totally have the others back no matter what it was that they have gotten themselves into.

Boooo! Who needs a girl when you have each other, Rob and Paul?

Boooo! Who needs a girl when you have each other, Rob and Paul?

Watching these guys together on-screen is like a work of magic because every scene they have together, just makes them feel more and more like they were actual buds, who just got done having a few pints at the bar before they walked onto the set and started filming. They both play off of each other perfectly and use their hilarious comedic-timing to their advantage every which way of this flick and it definitely helped me stay on-board with this flick, even when it seemed like the film was starting to lose my attention at points. You never stop liking these guys, no matter what bad acts they commit, and I think that’s much ado to the pure likability that lie within these guys’ acting. The chemistry between them is THAT good, and it’s no wonder why they teamed up again for The Sting, and kicked ass there as well.

Perhaps if I was to choose a problem with this flick, it would be that it’s not all that exciting as I would have liked to have expected. The story starts off perfectly with just the right amount of energy and fun that’s needed, but as soon as the film starts to focus on the unneeded “love triangle” between Butch, Sundance, and Sundance’s girl, Etta, I felt like the film cooled down it’s brakes and was really wasting valuable time that could have been dedicated more to these guys just having a fun time, regardless of whether it was all true or not. Thankfully, that last shoot-out where they face-off against all of Bolivia is by far one of the most iconic endings in film-history, and with good reason: it’s full of just the right amount of suspense and emotion, all to solidifie the legends of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And what legends they truly were, to all bandits all over the world. Even the wet ones.

Consensus: Though it cools itself down in bits and pieces, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is still a very fun, light, and humorous-take on the Western genre that is so much more legit, due to the fact of Newman and Redford’s chemistry being some of the best anyone has ever seen between two buddies in a buddy film, on and off the screen.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Even when caught off-guard, they still look cool as fuck.

Even when caught off-guard, they still look fly as fuck.

Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

The only way you were getting rich in the 30’s was by robbing banks. So yeah, hate on these two for being young, smart, and prosperous.

Living in America during the Depression was hard. However, for Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty): it sure as hell wasn’t as long as they had their guns, their minds, and their love to fully round everything out. Together, the two pulled off a series of daring bank robberies and found their way to becoming two of the most notorious outlaws in American history. This is their sad, but true story.

Viewing these older movies and reviewing them is not an easy chore to complete, especially when they are considered “classics” like this one here. Usually, you have to take this movie how it is but you also feel pressured into making it sound like this movie is some end-all, be-all masterpiece, just because you saw people like Roger Ebert (R.I.P. my friend) say so. However, I’m not going to back down from a fight and I’m going to step over the line and say that THIS MOVIE IS……..good.

What makes this movie such a classic in terms of American cinema is because it was broke down some large-barriers back in the day. Due to the fact that it was filled with incredible amounts of violence, some sexual tension that was actually shown (somewhat), and some booty-showing, this movie had some people up in arms about what people should, and should not see in the movie theaters (oh, if only they could see us now). But that was back in 1967, when these sort of things being in a movie were almost unheard of, which is why you have to give Arthur Penn a lot of credit for taking that huge step and showing his material for what it was worth. The violence and killings here aren’t as graphic and disturbing as some of the stuff we see now, but the film still has plenty of it to make anybody’s grand-mom get a little scared.

"We came here to do two things: look stylish and get all your money. Where shall we begin?"

“We came here to do two things: look stylish and get all your money. Where shall we begin?”

One thing that at first bothered me, was that I felt like Penn was really just glamorizing everything that these two did. From the robberies, to the kidnappings, to the murders, and to everything else, it felt like I was watching Penn show us how cool it is to be like them, when in reality: he was just showing us the facts. A lot of the stuff you see in this film, is pretty much how it all happened and it’s not being shown in any hip or cool way, it’s just the way it was and how these two functioned back in the days. And whenever the shoot-out scenes do come up, they are very fun and you never know what’s going to happen next. That is, unless you haven’t been paying attention in history-class, ever.

But what really made me realize that this is no masterpiece, is that it’s just so damn dated with it’s writing. Right from the start, we get all of this corny talk between Bonnie and Clyde where they are constantly just acting like total dumb-asses with their Southern accents that make them sound like a really-bad extra from Deliverance. That was obviously annoying, and a lot of the delivery that Beatty and Dunaway used too, was annoying just because they seemed just a tad too spirited about all of this, almost to the point of where it was basically campy. I mean, what do I expect from a film that was made in the late 60’s, but I know what bothers me, and half of this dialogue is what did it for me.

Also, aside from the main 4 in this cast, everybody else sucks at acting. The kid who played C.W. Moss was really bad and made me laugh my ass off by how idiotic this character, and this actor was. For a prime example, there was the one scene where Bonnie and Clyde first meet him, and he just looks so damn awkward, stumbling around the set like a little fool. His character is pretty much one of those stereotypical country-bumpkins, that doesn’t know how to do anything else other than fix cars (because you know, that’s what all Southerners do). Hell, even the film wanted to take the high-road and go off and write him as he truly was in real life, then good, just get a better actor to play it so it isn’t so damn obvious that this kid blows major cock. There’s plenty of others here that excruciatingly bad as well and I think it’s just a strange mixture of bad acting and some bad lines that just makes everybody come off like they’re over-acting it a bit. But in some cases, they aren’t even acting at all, so it’s either one way or another. No reason for the Blondie reference, but just thought I’d throw it in there while it’s still fresh and clean in my head.

Messing with a person's mustache back in the 30's? Unforgivable, they say!

Messing with a person’s mustache back in the 30’s? Unforgivable, they say!

But other than these terrible supporting-performances, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway do some pretty kick-ass jobs with their titular roles and are easily the best things about this flick. They definitely have some great chemistry together and you can tell that the film is going to show them a lot together, but it surprisingly doesn’t. Instead, it gives them more time apart to develop on their own, but even when it does come back to them being with one another, it feels like it’s developing both of their characters and giving us two people that we can feel some essence of sympathy for and actually like. Beatty is this wild, high-strung dude that just wants to make his lady happy, and Dunaway is this sad and l0nely girl that is getting the worst case of homesickness, ever. Two very good performances as even when things for Bonnie and Clyde turn darker and they start doing more bad things, you still like them and I don’t know why that was. Either way, easily the best things about this flick even if there is some more to see.

Oh, and don’t forget to be on the look-out for a performance from Gene Hackman as Clyde’s big-bro. Having Gene Hackman in any movie is always a treat, but this one especially since he actually shows everybody how to act. God, I miss him.

Consensus: Probably more influential than it is perfection, Bonnie and Clyde suffers from a terribly-dated script, and bad performances from everybody else involved, other than the four main stars. Still, you can’t go wrong with a film that was willing to show us these two criminals in a sympathetic-light and be able to get away with it, surprisingly. Oh, and the final scene is pretty freakin’ awesome, too. But I bet you have all already seen it, haven’t you?

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Yabba dabbba doooo!"

“Ya’ll gooonna wannna doo dattt overr deerrr aftaaa I fixxxx daaa caarrr.”

The Hustler (1961)

I really got to work on my pool skills.

“Fast Eddie” Felson (Paul Newman) is a man that knows how to play his game of pool, win, and while he’s at it; hustle some peeps in the long-run. However, his shenanigans eventually start to catch up with him once he decides to get involved with a lady of his (Piper Laurie). But it only gets worse once his desire to prove himself the best player in the country is by beating legendary pool player “Minnesota Fats” (Jackie Gleason).

“Cool” is a word that fits plenty of films, but not as well as it fits this one. In fact, I never quite thought that a sports movie about pool would actually be considered “cool”, but there’s just something about those old school billiard lounges, filled with smoke, brewskies, and jazz music that are just able to get you in the mood for some cue-balling. Oh, and some gambling too. Can’t ever forget about that fun activity.

Actually, I wouldn’t even consider this a sports film, but more of a character-study that gives us a character, a dilemma, and a reasoning, and uses the game of pool as a background. Most movies of this nature have been using this idea for centuries, but this flick shows it in a different light that isn’t all hurrah hurrah about it’s sport, or the people partaking in it. That’s right, no Kurt Russell speeches here. Cue the tears.

This film is surprisingly very dark but it never lost me and it was pretty intriguing to see where this film went with Felson. We get to see him through all of the thick and thin where we see him at his highest, as well as his lowest. We also get a chance to see him for his flaws, as well as the aspects that make him so likable and charming, upon first-sight. Felson could also serve as the protagonist for this story, but he’s not an underdog, there’s no valiant loser, no witty old-timer that is getting the young buck for his next big match, and there is no training-montage let alone, any scenes of training whatsoever. This is what separates this sort of movie from all of the other sports movie and it’s a risky move that director Robert Rossen takes with this material, but makes it work no matter what.

Aw yeah! Strike that pose, Paul!

Aw yeah! Strike that pose, Paul!

But no matter how dark this film may actually be, there is still a certain type of coolness about it that just lingers underneath everything else. There’s all of these countless themes about greed, addiction, love, hustling, and the fear of being lonely, that could get any sports-junkie on the suicide watch list, but do more than you think. It adds a certain brooding sense of feel and style, but also enhances the mood in which you feel like the way these games of pool are set-up and played, are definitely not the type of ones you just decide to play around with, while you and your bud are drinking before the big fight. Nope, there’s more to it than that, and I have to say that it’s a bold move that I can’t see many other sports movies taking nowadays. That is, unless they didn’t want to earn any money or fans with the popular, movie-going crowd. Because honestly, let’s think about it: which person wants to see a sports movie, only to find out that it’s a whole two hour flick dedicated to one person crying, and swallowing in his own misery? Maybe this guy over here, but sure as hell not the type of people I know who want to see movies like these. Hence why it was made in 1961. A much simpler time where people had standards. Sort of.

Paul Newman is known as being cool in almost everything he does, and “Fast Eddie” Felson is the perfect personification of that. Newman brings so much cool wit and charm to this character that in almost every shot, you can just feel them both oozing out of every line he speaks. Whether he’s doing it with his eyes, his lips, or his physical-stature, the guy’s always got something to say and whether or not the other person across from him is going to like it, is wholly on their asses. The character of “Fast Eddie” isn’t a particularly likable one, considering the guy always acts like his shit doesn’t stink when he wins two games in-a-row, but Newman keeps him grounded and always worth a cheer. You never know where this dude’s story is going to lead into next, but Newman keeps you guessing and wondering just how he pulls off these acts of desperation, but still seeming to be “cool”, underneath it.

Then, on the total and complete opposite side of him is Jackie Gleason as Minnesota Fats. Fats rains supreme as a totally different character than Felson, for the sole-fact he is just the intimidating guy you do not want to fuck with if you see him across the bar. But yet, Felson loves to do that and does just that, many ‘a times. Fats is a character that reminded of one of those old-school, big guy mob types that you can just feel the tension of. The only difference here is that this guy isn’t part of the mob (or at least so I think), he’s just regular, old-school pool shooter that just so happens to be one of the best in the country and Gleason plays this up so perfectly. Fats isn’t really in the film that much but whenever he is, it’s easily some of the best parts of this whole flick and his presence is always there throughout the whole film.  No matter where “Fast Eddie” goes with his game, with his money, with his dame, and with his high-life; Fats will always be there ready to play again.

"Come on, kid. You got it all fucking wrong."

“Come on, kid. You got it all fucking wrong.”

But I can’t just talk about these two without talking another two that absolutely knock their roles out of the park as well. George C. Scott has probably never been as dirty or greedy as he is here as Burt Gordon, one of the main guys that takes Felson under his wing, but strictly for money purposes. Scott is so damn detestable but you can’t take your eyes off of him throughout the whole movie because you know he’s going to screw Felson over, one way or another, and it’s going to hurt big time. Piper Laurie is also amazing as Felson’s love interest, Sarah, but be warned; she isn’t your normal romantic love interest all of these sports movies have. This chick has problems, BIG, BIG problems, actually. Sarah is a very interesting character because she just seems like one of these chicks that is always so drunk all of the time, that it’s easy to underestimate her, but after awhile you realize that she knows what’s up with everything that Felson is doing and what could possibly happen to him. Laurie is great with this character and makes her watchable the whole damn time, even if the ride between her and Felson isn’t always enjoyable, nor is it all that believable once you see how they act with one another, once they get drunk, wild, and rich. Bad combination right there, no matter who you are.

Being that this is an older film and a lot of the people in it talk all hip, sly, and witty, in the way that they probably thought was hip, sly, and witty back in 1961; some of it does feel dated. Not all of it, but some. Some performances go a bit over-board and I couldn’t help but feel like a lot of these dude’s who’s reactions are filmed, weren’t just because they were talented actors, but because they were the only actors around to take part of filming at the time. It’s been almost 40 years and one sequel later, so maybe my main-beef is all but idiotic, but it’s just little problems like that, that usually get to me. Don’t know why, it’s just the way I am. Go home if you don’t like it.

Consensus: The Hustler isn’t your quintessential sports movie that’s all about the happy cheers, beers, and winning championships, but more about a loner of a dude that makes money a cheap, but sly way, and gets caught-up doing so. And sometimes, in more ways than one.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Hustler3

“If I beat him now, it’s still breakfast at Mickey D’s. Hmm…..”

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)

I guess back in 1967, black-and-white milkshakes where wiped-off menu’s everywhere, as well?

This film tells the story of a liberal couple (Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn), he a publisher and she an art gallery owner, whose value system is challenged when their only daughter (Katharine Houghton) announces one day her intention to marry a famous black surgeon (Sidney Poitier). Obviously you know that all racist hell breaks loose! Well…sort of…

In today’s day and age, no matter where you may be in the world or what you’re views on the subject are, but interracial dating is still an act that people frown upon. However, back in 1967, it was pretty much illegal, without ever really being considered a law in the first-place. It was just a mutual understanding that blacks and whites weren’t supposed to be together in a romantic sort of way, even though it still happened behind the curtains. It just goes to show you that time does change, which is a good thing for society and the world we live in, but sadly, is not a good thing for this movie.

Director Stanley Kramer surprisingly starts this film out as a comedy which, much to my surprise, actually worked and had me interested into where the hell this story could, and might just go with itself. There were plenty moments that had me chuckling here and there, which really took me by surprise considering how ready I was for some straight-up drama and even though the topic may ask for that, it still came off as the opposite and had me wondering just what the hell Kramer’s intentions were with this story and what he planned to do with it in the first-place. However, as film continues to go on and on and bring in some more subjects to the story, it begins to get a bit more serious and sadly, that’s where all of the problems for this flick begin.

The problem with most films from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, etc., is that everything that seemed so cool and relevant then, are all lame and out-dated now. Obviously this is no surprise to any film-geek in the 21st century (points to self) who notices a huge change in the times, but this film really had me thinking about that problem the whole damn time and it just got in the way of everything.  The dialogue does surprisingly have its moments, but also features plenty of other moments that are totally cheesy, over-dramatic, and very eye-rolling, almost to the point of where you wonder whether or not a certain line was supposed to be taken seriously, or these writers just thought it was time to have every character break-down and say the dumbest crap imaginable.

However, the point of this movie is what really invigorated me in the first-place and the real question is does this film bring up a lot about race and interracial relationships? In a way, yes is does, but is also done in such a way that it brings up all of these facts and problems with that point this movie is making, however, ends on it in such a terribly weird way that makes it seem like this film was aiming for something else other than the topic of racism. The film is basically telling us that it doesn’t matter what color, race, or social background two people come from, as long as they feel and have love for each other then that’s all that matters. That’s a nice theme and central message to have and think about as you go on throughout your whole day and life, but also seems terribly, terribly hokey and tame considering this issue that were dealing with here and how it was so damn taboo back in those days to even talk about, let alone, have a whole film discussing it. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wanted this subject to be hit harder rather than touched and backed away from as if a little kid was at the petting zoo. Makes no sense? Yeah, I know, but just bare with me on that and realize that I was a scared kid at the zoo whenever my parents took me.

Though to be honest, I wouldn’t have had such a problem with this theme if it was handled at least a bit better in a more realistic and believable. Instead, the film goes with sentimental and light-approach that almost comes off as self-parody. The issue of interracial dating is an important one, and one that was really controversial back in the day, so it really made me disappointed in seeing just how soft of a obvious-treatment it was given here, without ever really allowing itself to break through the cracks and give us all something to think about that wasn’t just something that Hollywood was shoving down our throats. But it’s not all about interracial relationships, actually, some of it just talks about how the times are changing and how the younger generation is starting to gain more and more control over the older generation of people, an issue that goes on and on and on no matter what decade or generation it is. Once again, another important issue to bring up, but once again, the film handles it poorly. It got so bad during one scene where Tracy accidentally hits some young, black kids car and gets yelled at by him for being a dumb, old, senile man, which was a scene that had me laughing my ass off, even though the look on Tracy’s face was serious, as well as the kids’ as well. It’s one of those memorable scenes that you remember, strictly for all of the wrong reasons.

What does make this film a lot better and very watchable are the performances here given by the trio of leads. In what would be his last role ever, Spencer Tracy gives a heart-breaking performance that truly makes this film memorable. Throughout the whole film, Tracy’s character is constantly struggling with himself and his morals because he doesn’t know whether or not to say yes, or to say no to his daughter going off and getting hitched to this black man, that seems very charming and nice, but also worries him about their possible-future together. This problem is very understandable, and it’s also one that Tracy shows off perfectly with a great amount of sympathy and realism that seemed to lack from the rest of the film that surrounded him. Tracy has, and forever always will be a legend of acting and his performance here as the struggling father remains one of the finer performances from his later career, which makes it even more of a shock that the guy died only about 2 weeks later. Real shocker, but also a true testament to what a great actor he truly was and one that is still missed to this day.

Katharine Hepburn plays his elegant wife, Christina, and also gives another great performance, just like you’d expect from Miss Hepburn. She starts off as kind of a bitchy-type that you see in most of these “rom-coms” where it’s all about meeting the disapproving familia, but after awhile, you start to realize that this is real lady who only wants the best and whats safe for her daughter, but just can’t seem to get that idea off onto her hubby, who just so happens to be black. Hepburn has some really memorable moments here, especially when she fires a chick that works for her out of the blue and shows just why she was one of the greatest actresses to ever grace the screen. Once again, like Tracy, another actress that is still truly missed to this day and with her performance here, shows why you can do wonders with a mediocre script.

Let’s also not forget to mention the always terrific, Sidney Poitier as Dr. John Wade Prentice, in what is another role where he plays the calm, sophisticated, and charming black man that’s trying to win the approval of the common white-folk. Poitier is strong and perfect in a role that seems like he was fit to play, but there was one flaw to him that I didn’t seem to understand, and really took me away from his character’s believeability and motivations. I mean this black guy is essentially Mr. Perfect: he’s handsome, a renowned pro in his area of study, kind, respectful, and above all, a gentleman. Now why the hell would Tracy have such a problem with a kind of guy like that going out with his daughter? I get it, the guy is black but within the first 10 minutes of meeting the guy, he has to realize that he’s not that different from anybody that’s white. He’s just a simple, nice, and kind-hearted young man that just so happens to have the hots and wants to marry your daughter. Now what so bad about that, other than him being married to a white-girl in the 60’s? I may make it seem a lot less serious than it really was, but after awhile, these people should realize that the guy isn’t such a bad cat after all, and should at least be given a shot before they kick him to the curb.

In case you haven’t been able to notice, I mentioned that the trio of leads in this flick all do magnificent jobs, but I left out the other gal that just so happens to in this film as well, Katharine Houghton as the young-lady, that just so happens to have a case of jungle fever. The reason I chose not to include this chick with the three thespians up-top, is because she’s pretty bad and struggles through all of her dialogue, making her the main-reason why this film is as over-the-top as it comes out to be at certain points. I don’t know what the hell this chick does with her life now, but sad to say, I hope she didn’t show-up in any other flicks and ruin them, or hopefully, she got better at acting and decided to take a low-key approach. Either way, haven’t heard anything from the gal after this and I think the same could be said about Poitier and Hepburn, as well. Tracy doesn’t count, cause, well, you know, he died. Sorry, too soon?

Consensus: What was once a landmark film for discussing a controversial subject back in its day, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is now, in the year 2012, a very dated and tame film that doesn’t bring anything new to the subject of interracial dating, even though it does do a nice job of show off some very fine performances from the cast, especially Hepburn and Tracy, who is superb in his last role, ever.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Bullitt (1968)

Mustangs are hawt.

Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen, who serves as the prototype for every movie cop who refuses to play by the book) must babysit a gangster for 48 hours. But when hit men snuff the witness, Bullitt won’t be stopped in his quest for vengeance.

All I have been hearing about this movie for the past year is that the car chase is awesome. Hell, anytime you mention the flick itself, the car chase is always brought up. It is brought up with good reason but maybe that’s just to escape the rest of the flick.

Director Peter Yates does gain some points by making this a very simple but fun thriller. There isn’t really anything new to be seen here other than two or three murders, a car chase, and a whole bunch of other crazy and mysterious ish going on but Yates isn’t trying to blow our minds. Yates has a very cold tone to this film that makes a whole lot more tension then there really is beneath the surface.

Where this film sort of lost me was that it’s a crime thriller where there is barely any thrilling aspects at all. Yes of course we get a couple of shootings and that car chase scene, but other than that we get a bunch of scenes dedicated to dudes waiting around for something to happen like another piece of evidence to pop up or for the main politician dude to show up so he can bother the hell more out of Bullitt. It’s a simple story, which I liked, but Yates doesn’t really find anything fun or exciting to do with it other than just meander along at a very snailish-like pace. I know I’m going to piss off a lot of peeps out there when I say this but this film actually had me a bit bored at times and even though I really tried my hardest to stop my mind from wandering off, it kept on going back to the thoughts in my head of ‘Drive’ and Ryan Gosling, and just how cool he was in that movie.

What also was a bit annoying was how the film tried to dive a bit deeper into this main character by showing plenty of scenes with his lady friend that nobody, not even him, really cared about in the first place. It’s always good to have a little bit of development to your character so that they can actually feel more human than anybody else in the film, but here, they keep on showing his squeeze trying to bring his thoughts out of him and hear what he’s thinking. It was annoying every time she was on-screen, which is why I didn’t even understand why she was around in the first place, but it was also lame considering that Bullitt was obviously a character that didn’t have any time for that play-time shit. Bullitt. He’s a man amongst men.

Instead of avoiding it this whole review, I think it’s pretty safe to come clear and say that the car chase is pretty damn awesome. This is definitely one of the most iconic car chases of all-time and with good reason because it’s so simple and realistic, but yet so damn cool at the same time. The cool thing about this scene is that it’s filmed in only the sounds the car makes whether it’s accelerating, stopping, or hitting the edge of something it’s not supposed to in the first place. That means there’s no slow-mo affect, no bass-bumping soundtrack that makes it seem like your speakers are about to blow out, and no lame-o side talk from characters just in order to sound witty and hip with it. It’s a pretty straight-forward car chase that relies on cool camera placement and realistic fun, which worked for me and it’s a real surprise that the death rate in car races didn’t increase back in 1968 when the flick first came out. Definitely one of the biggest high-lights of this whole film and worth the wait if you ask me.

The reason why this car chase is as good as it is, is also because of the man who was doing all of the stunts himself, none other than Mr. Steve McQueen himself as Bullitt. McQueen is a cool as hell actor that makes it seem like he could be one of those dudes you can share a nice couple of brewskies with, but then also seems like the kind of dude that would also kick your ass in a second if you said anything weird to him. The whole film he carries this cool, calm, and very cold expression to his face and commands just about every scene with his presence, which makes this very shrill and mysterious character even cooler. Gotta check out more Steve McQueen flicks in the future, that’s for damn sure. I also have to give some little brownie points to this flick for also including a small role from a much younger Robert Duvall and Robert Vaughn who’s a huge dick that I just wanted to see get his face knocked in by Bullitt himself.

Consensus: The car chase is iconic and McQueen definitely provides a lot more coolness to his character than expected, but Bullitt is just a very overrated flick that has its moments, but is also very slow, if at times, boring, with it’s very simple premise that goes exactly where you think it would, with barely any real surprises. Please don’t hate me people, please don’t!

7/10=Rental!!

The Cincinnati Kid (1965)

This is one of the posts from my buds Andrew Perry who’s making a review/post on the classic film, The Cincinnati Kid. Read it up and let me know what you think. Thanks guys!

When thinking about the best poker movies from past decades, many tend to overlook The Cincinnati Kid.  Starring Steve McQueen as Eric Stoner aka “The Kid” and Edward Robinson as Lancey Howard aka “The Man”, the movie gives a realistic look at world of high stakes Five Card Stud poker from the post-depression era.

The movie centers around a big game that will include “The Kid” and “The Man.”  When Stoner decides to take on Howard, Stoner’s friend “Shooter” reminds how he was gutted by Howard in a prior game.

In a game prior to the big game, a big fish known as William Jefferson Slade tries to take on The Man and ends up losing $6,000 to him.  Fuming over the loss, he blackmails Shooter into cheating at the final game by stacking the deck against Howard.  Shooter does not want to do it, but he has $12,000 in markers hanging over his head and agrees.

The day of the big game arrives and Slade steps up to help Stoner out in the game.  As the game progresses, players either get busted or drop out the game and eventually it is a classic showdown between The Man and The Kid.

Stoner figures out that Shooter is stacking the deck in his favor and tells him to stop.  When he discovers that Shooter will not do so, he angles to have another dealer pitch cards and the game continues.

Stoner is beginning to win pot after pot and it appears that he is going to beat Howard before the climatic hand.  In Five Card Stud poker, one card is dealt down and the other four are dealt face up.  When the last card is dealt, The Kid has As-Ad-10c-10d showing for two pair.  Howard is showing 8d-Qd-10d-9d.

The Kid puts the last of his money into the pot, but since they are playing open stakes as opposed to table stakes, Howard raises another $5,000.  The Kid offers The Man a marker for $5,000 thinking he has him beat.  The Man agrees and The Kid makes the call only to discover Howard turn over the Jd for a straight flush. Stoner had another ace in the hole for a full house, and shockingly the losing hand.  The movie ends with Stoner leaving penniless and gutted after his loss.

The Cincinnati Kid was a classic movie not just because of the poker action, but it portrayed poker realistically. Stoner took a massive cooler and experienced what many have at their local poker room, leaving with nothing.  The Kid had the talent, but in the end, it just wasn’t in the cards for him to win.

Kudos to PokerJunkie.com for providing the review and the reference to the rules of Five Card Stud poker.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Makes me want to go out right now and have a baby with some lucky honey.

Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow), the young wife of a struggling actor (John Cassavetes), is thrilled to find out she’s pregnant. But the larger her belly grows, the more certain she becomes that her unborn child is in serious danger. Perhaps there’s something sinister behind the odd enthusiasm her eccentric neighbors (Sidney Blackmer and Ruth Gordon) have for her welfare. Or perhaps it’s all in her mind.

The best thing about Roman Polanski (other than his ways of picking up girls), is that he is so good at creating tension within any film. I have already seen films like The Pianist and The Ghost Writer, and both are kind of different, but both build up suspense to keep us totally on the edge of our seat. This film is no different.

Polanski takes a normal story, with little things that seem odd at first but never go anywhere and uses them as possible clues as to what may happen, and what may not happen as well. There’s this eerie feeling that something just isn’t right, and not only do you feel scared for this chick Rosemary, but as well as yourself, because you honestly have no idea how this is all going to turn out. Also, the score that Polanski uses just get’s right underneath your skin, and still gives me the goosebumps thinking about it. It’s psychological horror film, that’s disguised as a horror film, and it works so well for both.

I think the only problem with this film is that it is from 1968 so you have to appreciate it for what it is, but there are still some parts that kind of had me chuckling by how cheesy it really is. Some lines seem dated and don’t really quite work now, as they did back in 1968, but I think it’s the fact that this is 1968 and not everything is going to be so up-to-date. Also, I did feel some scenes were a little too bland that weren’t needed at all, but in the end it kind of all worked out.

Mia Farrow is perfect in this role as Rosemary Woodhouse. Rosemary starts off as this big-loving housewife who wants a baby, and when she finally gets it, that’s when she starts to get crazy. Farrow does an amazing job because her character goes from normal, to total paranoia and it all seems believable. We stand behind her character, and we are with her, as we don’t always know what’s quite going on either. I just wish I saw her in more roles today. That damn Woody Allen! John Cassavetes is also good here as Guy, the husband that is just so likable and cool, but yet at the same time we don’t know if we can quite trust him. Sidney Blackmer and Ruth Gordon are perfect in these roles as the scariest damn neighbors ever. I’m telling you if I ever moved into a place and I saw these two right next door, I would not think twice about getting the hell out of there!

Consensus: Somehow it’s a little bit dated, but Rosemary’s Baby is still a mind-tingling, creepy thriller, that may move at a slow pace, but keeps you fascinated by Polanski’s direction, and Farrow’s daring performance.

8/10=Matinee!!

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Makes me want to fly into space right now.

While investigating the appearance of mysterious monoliths throughout the universe, astronauts David (Keir Dullea) and Frank (Gary Lockwood) battle their ship’s intelligent computer, HAL-9000.

Questions about space are never answered. Many people sit and wonder about the actual mysteries of space, and what is really out there. I can count myself as one of those people, but thinking about a new life out there? That is what mostly brings up my curiosity.

The one thing about 2001 is that this film, like many of Stanley Kubrick‘s others, confuse the hell out of people. And this film, is really no different. Kubrick films this project with great style. The way he uses almost no dialogue, and replaces it with either, orchestra music, or just the sound of silence or breathing, he is adding a lot more to the mystery of space. He is trying to take us away from the story and more towards the idea of humanity, and where we came from, and what is out there.

However, a lot his style may turn off a lot of viewers. At times, I did find myself a little challenged by everything that was going on, because it is so different. Literally, the first three minutes are just pitch black, with a creepy-ass score, and that’s when I knew I was in for a big-ass ride. People will not just be taken back from the minimal dialogue, but also the extraneous amount of symbolic images, that people have no idea what they mean. The film is open to viewer’s, and for me I understood most of the symbolism, however, some people will find a lot of this, totally out of their comfort zone, because I questioned it too, if whether or not I knew exactly what was going on. But, it’s just the fact that Kubrick keeps this film together with a script that brings out so many questions, and ideas that we, as a society, have never thought about. Where did the first murder occur? How did it occur? When will technology take over the world to a point of where it is practically turning against us? How far will it go, till the point of the end of humanity? All these questions are brought up, and although some are answered, and some are not, we all know one thing that as humans, we may never know, until it actually happens. Its not just about the one human, but just as the human species in general.

I was totally blown away by those special effects. Kubrick uses a lot of hand-crafted puppet materials, that we’re later used in a very similar movie, but you didn’t hear it from me. It still astonishes me that this film was made back in 1968, where images like this were unheard of, and Kubrick got every single image, and effect right, whereas many films, that spend almost $1,000,000 on CGI-special effects, and can’t get it close to even looking right. The images of space, and the numerous space crafts that inhabit, are just beautiful. Mixed with the sound it really does give you sense of isolation, and adds to the overall effect that the film was going for. By the end, Kubrick uses certain colors, that just totally boggle your mind, and actually make you think what drugs you took, however, all of it adds to the overall effect of a place, farther than where our imagination can stretch.

The acting here is highly sub-par but that’s because there’s barely any dialogue, that can show off these actors talents. I have to give it the most to Douglas Rain, who does the voice of that evil-ass red-dot computer, HAL-9000. The best thing about HAL 9000 is that it is one of the first “robots” to be used as a harmful thing in a film. We always see how robots help us out through almost every time, but we never see how, and what happens when this piece of technology turns on us. Rain does a great job of voicing HAL because, he doesn’t show too many emotions, and just sticks with one tone of voice the whole movie. The last couple of scenes with HAL, are just heart-wrenching and will have you totally feeling upset over a robot. This adds a lot more over the idea of technology over humanity.

Consensus: Though some viewers may find themselves catching some z’s, others will be astonished. 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the most influential sci-fi films of all-time that brings up great questions about humanity, and space, but has an incredible direction from Kubrick, that holds a lot of symbolism, and great visuals, of outer space. It has to be seen to believed.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!!

The Graduate (1967)

A film for all cougars saying it’s alright.

Dustin Hoffman (in his first major film role) turns in a landmark performance as a naïve college graduate who is seduced by a middle-aged neighbor (Anne Bancroft) but ends up falling in love with her beautiful, young daughter (Katharine Ross).

I have heard and seen many great things about this movie and how great it truly is, and to be honest I can’t quite say I will go against that but I won’t call it the greatest.

The film starts out as a great and wonderful comedy that is all about being awkward and very situational. The writing here is top-notch with a lot of funny little quirks to go along with a lot of ironic humor. But the best thing about the screenplay that it also speaks a lot about actually staying committed to one person for the rest of your life, which I found to be the most brutally honest aspect of the film.

I feel like the problem here is that the genration gap is the big problem. This film was back in the 60’s where everything was goody goody and of course this movie was hilarious back then. But now looking at it the satirical look at these characters doesn’t quite hold up since it does seem a bit dated now in the 21st century. Also, the score from Simon & Garfunkel had its moment, but the same song was played about 4 times in this movie and I found it to be a bit annoying to say the least.

Director Mike Nichols does give out a great job here at the directing chair and shows that he knows how to direct. The way he positions the camera in some scenes, it was very different at the time and can still be viewed as different nowadays but the way he uses these camera angles to convey a sort of emotion works so well. The way the film changes at the end with the drama and sort of romantic comedy way did push me back a little bit but not too much to where I was totally appalled.

Hoffman is very good here in his first big role. He plays this character Ben with such awkwardness, that you can’t really at all hate this character cause he is just way too nerdy but at the same time funny. In my opinion I found Anne Bancroft to be actually very better-looking than her daughter and she plays this role with such sexiness and deviously, that she is probably one of the better female performances I have seen in awhile.

Consensus: The Graduate doesn’t quite hold up today as it did back then, but still has gret writing, inspired direction, and wonderful performances from Hoffman and Bancroft.

9/10=Full Price!!

Psycho (1960)

Truly the definitive horror film that will never get old.

When larcenous real estate clerk Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) goes on the lam with a wad of cash and hopes of starting a new life, she ends up at the notorious Bates Motel, where twitchy manager Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) cares for his housebound mother. The place seems quirky but fine … until Marion decides to take a shower.

What could possibly be said about Psycho that hasn’t been said before? It certainly must be one of the most famous movies of all time. Having heard so much about it, I really doubted if the movie could live up to my expectations. Amazingly, it actually exceeded my expectations.

Psycho is basically a horror film that was the first to ever come out, and it might as well be one of the greatest. I’m not a huge fan of those gore-fest films with over excessive nudity, blood, and violence. So because this film was basically made back in the 60’s there really is none of what we get nowadays with these horror films.

The one amazing thing about Psycho that not many other films do is that it really is a timeless film that really has aged perfectly. It isn’t corny nor is it dumb now that we look at it, it is still a great thrilling horror film.

Alfred Hitchcock really is one of the greatest director’s of all-time. I’m not talking in the horror genre, I’m talking of all film. He uses these camera angles and looks during each scenes to really have us capture the essence that something just isn’t right. The famous shower scene that almost everyone knows is great, and really is worth, just to see.

Anthony Perkins shines in this film as the creepiest mo fo in the whole film as Norman Bates. He creates one of the first great creepy characters on film, and he actually does make this person seem creepy as he talks more and more.

Consensus: Alfred Hitchcock shows he is the greatest director of all-time with Psycho. A film that has aged really well, and is an amazing watch of how much it’s influence in the horror genre that we see all today is in.

10/10=Full Pricee!!

The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966)

Instead of the Germans its the Russians, so hilarious!

A Russian submarine runs aground near a small New England town, and it’s up to Lt. Rozanov (Alan Arkin) as the Russians’ second-in-command to covertly secure a towboat to avoid an international confrontation. When he hooks up with residents such as Walt Whittaker (Carl Reiner) and the police chief (Brian Keith), all hell breaks loose.

I will say one thing about this film is that although it is an old film, it still does hold up some comedy that you can still laugh at till this day. The film is a very gentle comedy towards the Russians. I was expecting a film that was going to be bashing the Russians and basically making them look like fools, however this is not the case. Much of the film shows the culture clash but shows how the Russians are just as gentle as us, and we shouldn’t be afraid of them.

I just didn’t think that this film was all that funny as I was to believe. Many of the jokes are catchy but most of them can be very flat, and really stiff. Now this is a good film don’t get me wrong, but I just think that there are better ones out there, that would be a lot more funnier than some of the jokes they had in this film.

I will say that despite the over 2 hour time limit the film was very sharp. The direction of the film was quick and went from one place to another so I wouldn’t get bored too easily of these jokes.

The performances are OK but would be nothing without Alan Arkin. Arkin does the best job as he still does the great Russian accent and it doesn’t slip one bit. He was funny but also very vicious, and you could tell that’s what he was having coming out through this performance.

Consensus: Though not amazingly funny, Russians Are Coming boasts a great performance from Arkin, memorable quotes, and a timeless message of “why can’t we all just get along?”.

8/10=Matinee!!