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There Was a Crooked Man... (1970)
David Newman and Robert Benton wrote a terrific script. Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz took that script and created a borderline classic. "There Was a Crooked Man..." is filled with great characters. The entire cast played the heck out of those characters. Great performances are given across the board. This movie is beautifully produced. The sets and the costumes are very well done. The music is also top-notch. I've seen this movie many times. It remains fresh and inventive. It's exciting, funny and has quite a bit of heart. "There Was a Crooked Man..." never fails to hit the spot.
"Harry and Walter Go to New York" is growing on me. It's not as good as it should have been but it does have a lot going for it. The cast is very good and they all do a nice job. The set design and the costumes are top-notch. But for some reason, "Harry and Walter..." doesn't work as well as it should have. Sometimes a movie's production values and smother it's humor. I think that might have happened here. Also, especially in the first half, the editing seemed off. A lot of the jokes were ruined with too quick cutaways. That said, I do enjoy a lot of this movie. It's not a total write-off. It's definitely worth watching.
Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
Always hits the spot
"Bad Day at Black Rock" is a tough, suspenseful movie. It's also a great looking movie. The set design is terrific. The cast is also great. They all deliver solid performances. I wish I could have seen this movie in the theater way back when. It must have been something else in its widescreen glory. But even on television, "Bad Day at Black Rock" is an impressive movie. Honorable mention: Robert Ryan.
Last Train from Gun Hill (1959)
This may sound like a bold statement but I don't think Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn have ever been better than they are in "Last Train from Gun Hill". The two of them deliver terrific performances in the movie. The supporting cast is also very good. The story is exciting and very moving. "Last Train from Gun Hill" has one great scene after another. This movie is an example of how great a western can be. I need to watch this more often.
Blues Busters (1950)
"Blues Busters" is a Bowery Boys miss. There's too much music, not enough laughs and it gets too serious. The supporting cast is good but they can't save this movie. "Blues Busters" makes for a long hour. This one is not for me. Honorable mention: Slip's weed joke.
"Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn" was not the kind of movie I was expecting. It tells its story in a way that is different from most of the movies I usually watch. That's not a bad thing. Director Cathy Yan and company have a lot of fun with the material. Harley Quinn is a great character and Margot Robbie was born to play her. The rest of the cast also does a nice job. The soundtrack was also very good. "Birds of Prey" has a good story and it tells it with very little, if any, downtime. I enjoyed watching this movie tonight. I also have the feeling that I will like it even more the next time I see it. Honorable mention: Rosie Perez. (I saw this movie at the Regal Cinemas, Westbury, NY)
"The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash" is a very funny movie. I remember watching it when first aired on US television. I thought it was funny back then but I haven't seen it since. Well, I've watched it three times in the last two months and now I love it. "The Rutles" is a wildly entertaining movie. There's one funny moment after another. There are a bunch of great cameos. There's even a cameo by the always dreamy Bianca Jagger. I had a great time watching this movie. Honorable mention: John Belushi.
Police Academy (1984)
"Police Academy" is a hard movie to resist. Yeah, it's silly but it does have a lot of laughs. There a lot of really funny moments in this movie. The cast is very good. They all give very good comedic performances. If I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be George Gaynes. He was given a great character with Commandant Lassard and Gaynes hit the ball out of the park. I saw "Police Academy" in the theater (Sunrise Multiplex, Valley Stream, NY) and I've seen it many times since. It still delivers the laughs.
Pete Kelly's Blues (1955)
More Jack Webb greatness
Jack Webb is criminally underrated. Webb was a master storyteller. He told his stories in a straightforward, meat and potatoes kind of way. There was nobody like him. "Pete Kelly's Blues" is a solid addition to Jack Webb's resume. It is a great looking movie. The set design is terrific. It has quite a few really good performances. It has great dialogue and really good music. It tells its story with very little, if any, downtime. I can't wait until I get to see this one again.
You Can't Take My Daughter (2020)
A Lifetime winner
Sometimes a Lifetime movie delivers a lot more than I expected. That is the case with "You Can't Take My Daughter". This movie was an edge-of-your-seat experience. It's unbelievable that this story is true. I was not familiar with the real story so I had no idea what the rapist was going to do next. "You Can't Take My Daughter" is a beautifully acted movie, especially by Lyndsy Fonseca. Fonseca does a terrific job. "You Can't Take My Daughter" is a movie I'll be watching again.
Return of the Seven (1966)
Don't watch "Return of the Seven" as a sequel. Watch this movie as a "stand alone" western. If you watch it that way, you're in for a great time. "Return of the Seven" is a solid western. It has a good story and a very good cast. This movie is filled with great performances. The action is top-notch and, of course, the music is terrific. I put off watching this movie for many years. Shame on me. I can't wait until i get to see it again.
The Secret of NIMH (1982)
I saw "The Secret of NIMH" in the theater when I was 19 years old. I was excited to see what director Don Bluth was going to do with his first non-Disney movie. Bluth hit a triple down the line. "Secret of NIMH" is a great movie. It's drawn beautifully. It's has a bunch of interesting characters and puts them in an exciting adventure. I liked this movie in the theater and I really liked it tonight. "The Secret of NIMH" has aged beautifully. Shame on me, I haven't watched this movie in a while. I won't let that happen again.
I wanted to like "Hellboy". It seemed that it could be pretty good. Unfortunately, it's not that hot. Hellboy is interesting but most of the other characters are not. The story is not too good. The effects are hit and miss. I also don't know why the film makers went for such a hard "R" rating. One gory scene, in particular, took a lot of wind out of the movie for a while. Whatever it was they were trying to achieve, I don't think it worked. Another problem was the length. It's about twenty minutes too long. "Hellboy" was okay, I guess, but I doubt I'll be revisiting it any time soon.
The Neighbor in the Window (2020)
I've seen a lot of Lifetime movies. They are hit and miss. "The Neighbor in the Window" is somewhere in the middle. It was an okay watch. It's just that there was nothing that special about it. The cast is fine. They all do a nice job. It's just that material isn't that hot. I don't want to bash this movie because I did kind of like it. It's that I wanted more than I got.
"Nighthawks" is one of Sylvester Stallone's better efforts. I'm saying that as a fan of most of Sly's movies. This movie was trying to do something different with the cop genre and in many ways it succeeded. It has a good story and a very strong villain. The cast, including Stallone, all give very nice performances. Sly wears eyeglasses in this movie. Not many leading men have the guts to try for realism like that. The NYC location photography is terrific. It plays a huge part in my enjoyment of this movie. This movie has quite a few edge-of-your-seat moments. I enjoyed "Nighthawks" when I saw it in the theater (Bellerose, NY) and I enjoyed it tonight. Honorable mention: the disco scene.
Loud and boring
"Hobbs & Shaw" is the first movie that I watched from The Fast & Furious franchise. It is also going to be the last. "Hobbs & Shaw" is filled with uninteresting characters and ridiculous action. I didn't care about one thing that was going on. This movie actually manages to take three very appealing actors (Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham and Idris Elba) and make them boring. This movie is also way too long. "Hobbs & Shaw" added up to a wasted night.
The War Wagon (1967)
An enjoyable watch
"The War Wagon" is an easy watch. It does get a little silly at times but, overall, it's a funny, exciting movie. It has a very good cast. John Wayne gives a solid performance and the often annoying Kirk Douglas also does a very nice job. I wish these two stars made a couple of more westerns together. They make a very good team. "The War Wagon" also has great location photography and really good music. There are more than a few really good moments in "The War Wagon". I've seen this movie many times and it always hits the spot. Dishonorable mention: the bar fight.
Bend of the River (1952)
Another solid Mann/Stewart western
"Bend of the River" is a fast moving, tough western. It has a great story and beautiful location photography. It has a strong cast and they all do a solid job. Jimmy Stewart once again gives a great performance. Stewart and director Anthony Mann are one of the all time great movie teams. They made great westerns together and "Bend of the River" is one of them. I need to watch this movie more often.
Tom Horn (1980)
When I'm discussing the films of Steve McQueen with people I often fine myself holding back on "Tom Horn". For some reason I act like it's a secret. It's just that I know that not many people have seen it and I don't want to seem like a snob. I shouldn't act like that because "Tom Horn" is one of McQueen's best movies. It's the western at its melancholy best. Steve McQueen delivers an excellent performance. In lesser hands the Tom Horn character would have been unsympathetic and the movie would not have worked. The supporting cast is also very good, especially Richard Farnsworth and Slim Pickens. "Tom Horn" is a great movie and I need to watch it more often.
Always hits the spot
I saw "Rollercoaster" in the theater (Floral Park, NY) when it first came out. I liked it. After many years and many viewings, I still like it. It a solid thriller. It has a good story. It looks great. It has a very good cast. The always likeable George Segal gives a very good performance. The back and forth between Segal and Timothy Bottoms is a lot of fun to watch. "Rollercoaster" is a solid thriller that never gets old.
Solid John Carpenter movie
I am a fan of most of John Carpenter's movies. He is the reason "Christine" is as good as it is. He takes a kind of silly script and turns it into a good movie. Carpenter created a beautiful looking movie. He makes great use of his camera. All of his shots are framed perfectly. The cast is fine but the only real standout is Harry Dean Stanton. That said, "Christine" does have some problems. The biggest problem its the length. "Christine" is too long. Anyway, I enjoyed watching this movie tonight. (I saw "Christine" in the theater ( Bellerose, NY) when it first came out.)
Day of the Outlaw (1959)
Almost too tense
"Day of the Outlaw" is a mean, tough and very tense western. It has a strong cast and beautiful exterior photography. What goes on in "Day of the Outlaw" is not for the faint of heart. This is a serious movie. I don't think there was any humor in it. "Day of the Outlaw" is a good western and I plan on watching it again soon.
American Psycho (2000)
Sometimes my movie sixth sense is right. I put off watching "American Psycho" for twenty years because I didn't think it looked very good. Well, I found myself watching it today and I was right. "America Psycho" stinks. There are a lot of problems with this movie. The main problem is the always overpraised Christian Bale. Bale delivers a solidly obnoxious performance in this movie. It's his fault that I quickly lost all interest in not just his but in all of the characters. I sat watching "American Psycho" not caring about anything that was happening.
Uneven but still good
"Waterworld" is always a welcome watch. It is a great looking movie. The action scenes are terrific. The cast is very good, especially Dennis Hopper. Hooper gives a terrific performance. He also has the best lines. The story gets a little silly at times and "Waterworld" does go a little too long. But overall, this is a solid action movie.
I remember when I saw "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" in the theater. I liked it then. But after many viewings over many years, I really like it now. "Phantom Menace" is a very good movie. It's beautiful to look at. The action is very strong. And, of course, it has Darth Maul. Maul is one of the greatest movie villains, ever. I just wish he was in more of the movie. "Phantom Menace" is always a satisfying watch.