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Titanic II (2010)
The general idea wasn't bad, but the execution was horrible. Bruce Davison has been able to add a bit of class to low-budget productions before but this was beyond his ability. Most performances register just under adequate, filming is often poor and it feels like it runs twice as long as it actually does. Possible SPOILER WARNING The rescue scene near the end is so dark it is impossible to tell what is going on. Some may see this as a disadvantage, but believe me, it may actually be a blessing. This is not the first time the Queen Mary has stood in for the Titanic, but it is certainly wasted here except for some early exteriors with good color. CGI is generally weak, although some of the night scenes are passable. Finally, Shane van Dyke is living proof that talent is NOT genetic. His performance is poor, but may be due to having an inexperienced director to work with. Pass this one by; your taste buds will thank you.
This is a truly horrible comedy at any level. The jokes are lame and were old in the 12th Century. The cast tries hard to work with the script but Ray Austin is no comedy director and the timing is poor. For a comedy to be believable the cast has to get into character and play it straight. Here everyone tosses out their lines with no thought seeming to be given to what is going on around them. If given the "Airplane" or "Naked Gun" treatment it might have held up better. The best scene comes early in the movie when Roddy McDowell's Prince John is being psychoanalyzed by his adviser played by Michael Hordern. After that, it's downhill all the way. Perhaps Robin just does not work as a comedy. Mel Brooks' first attempt, "When Things Were Rotten" is unable to hold up through its short run. "Men In Tights" works better because it was a targeted satire of "Robin Hood Prince of Thieves", a yawn-inducing overly serious attempt at a Robin Hood story. Sadly "The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood" fails to live up to its title.
The Soldiers (1955)
The Soldiers Remembered
I have very faint memories of this show from more than fifty years ago. As I recall it filled a fifteen-minute slot on Saturdays and effectively was a two man show. Why I remember this I just can't explain, but something must have caused it to stick in my mind. I have no idea if any episodes of this show exist and I don't remember any of these short programs ever being shown in syndication. Tom D'Andrea and Hal March were likable performers who were around for years, usually in supporting roles. They appeared together on the Colgate Comedy Hour which may have been the origin of this series. Hal March later went on to direct some television episodes and both appeared on a number of variety and game shows.
Four Rode Out (1969)
Interesting film with a strong cast. Pernell Roberts is outstanding and should have had more starring roles. It is slow paced but keeps the viewer's interest. Only a weak script keeps this from being more memorable. Following the success of the spaghetti westerns some American companies took advantage of the Spanish locations and used mostly American casts. "Four Rode Out" has the look of a spaghetti western while avoiding the badly dubbed dialog that hurt the genre. The primary print currently circulating appears to be from a television movie package so some words get bleeped out here and there. Fortunately it is not a choppy as many were.
Il sacco di Roma (1953)
Rarely filmed subject
This film covers the sack of Rome in 1527 by the mercenary armies of Charles V of Spain. Renaissance warfare has rarely been covered in film so, for the military buff, this film is rewarding. As the film opens Rome is being approached by an invading army, but the Orsini and Colonna families fight among themselves (shades of Montagues and Capulets). Also featuring in the story is Benvunuto Cellini, the artist. Murder, intrigue, betrayal and warfare all take the stage along with some well staged battle scenes. The dubbing in the English language print is also quite well done. It's no classic, but is worth seeing for the history buff and fan of costume dramas. There is also some good swordplay present.
Captain Pirate (1952)
The Bland Pirate
Bland filming of Sabatini's "Return of Captain Blood" has some good players, but lackluster direction, weak script and poor miniatures bring it down. The cyclorama behind many of the ship scenes is wrinkled and the models are not convincing. Certainly not up to the classic Flynn and Power swashbucklers and lacking the wit and sense of fun found in "The Crimson Pirate" released the same year. Louis Hayward is capable in the lead role, but lacks Errol Flynn's charisma. Patricia Medina is lovely but doesn't have much to do. Only George Givot and Ted de Corsia play their characters broad enough to make them classic pirates and Jay Novello stands out as the treacherous Egyptian. Still, it's a competent swashbuckler and is a pleasant way to kill some time.