Friday, 30 April 2010


A rather obscure Film Noir (at least, I'd never even heard of it) directed by Robert Florey. John Payne stars as a WW2 vet who suffers from incurable amnesia due to a war wound. He returns home to Los Angeles to trying discover his identity and discovers he was a gang boss who betrayed his partner (a really strong and viscious performance by Sonny Tufts) and that he was married to a night club hostess (Ellen Drew). There is nothing startlingly original about the plot but it works well enough. What really lifts this film several notches above the routine is the atmospheric black and white photography by the great John Alton. If Noir is your game then this movie wont disappoint. Rating ***

IL MIO NOME E NESSUNO/My Name is Nobody (1973)

There is a persistant rumour that rather than the credited director, Tonino Valeri, MY NAME IS NOBODY was actually directed by the great Sergio Leone. The interview with Terence Hill which can be found on the DVD does nothing to dispel the rumour as Hill cryptically refuses to say yes or no. What he does say - and he is absolutely correct - is that Leone had the original idea, wrote the script treatment, chose the actors and produced the film. He was on the set continually and the movie is made in his style. Whatever the truth of the official credit (and I don't want to take anything away from Valeri) this is a Sergio Leone film. Leone's idea was to take the character of Trinity which Terence Hill had played in several highly popular films and play him against the historical background of the death of the Old West and the passing of the great American hero - personified here by Henry Fonda as Jack Beauregard, an ageing gunfighter who wants to retire to Europe. As a gunfighter nobody is faster than Beauregard and Hill plays Nobody. Nobody/Trinity represents the new West - or rather the new Western (i.e. the spaghetti version) and the film emphasises this in the graveyard scene where the graves bear the names of American Western directors. Performances are excellent in what is essentially a light hearted film and besides the two leads there are nice appearances by Leo Gordon, Steve Kanaly and Geoffrey Lewis. Rating ****

Tuesday, 27 April 2010


Wilko Johnson and Lee Brilleaux

About a mile and a bit from my house is a small park where I used to walk my dog and in that park is a wooden bench where I used to sit sometimes. On the bench is a small metal plaque dedicating it to the memory of Lee Brilleaux. You can't live on the Thames Estuary (or as this film romantically calls it the Thames Delta) without being aware (if you like real music) of Lee and the band he fronted, Dr.Feelgood-they are part of Essex mythology. Back in the days when bands were dressing in flowered shirts and singing about Hobbits and peace and love, Dr.Feelgood emerged from the oil slick mud of Canvey to let rip with some of the grittiest down and dirty rhythm and blues this side of the Atlantic. Lee was a great vocalist and a powerful presence on stage and he was perfectly matched by fellow band member Wilko Johnson who moved around the stage orbiting Lee like some manic dangerous demented Dalek. As a kid I spent a lot of time on Canvey Island thanks to my Uncle Bert who was one of the shack dwelling Canvey Flatbillies and the place has lost none of its fascination - it has always had an atmosphere of decay about it, something not quite right and Julien Temple's brilliant film (which is as much about the island as it is about the Band - the two subjects being inseparable) perfectly captures the atmosphere of place and time. Interviews with the surviving band members, roadies, Jools Holland, Martin Stone, Lee's widow and, most delightfully, his wonderful old mother who almost steals the show from Wilko Johnson who is the focal point of the film. Johnson is still manically jittery (or skittery as he defines it) and comes over as a nice guy in an eccentric sort of way although there is still a touch of danger there and if you were drinking in The Admiral Jellicoe or The Monico he doesn't look like the guy you should jostle. This is a terrific film which chronicles the rise and eventual demise of the band and the culture that gave it birth and I really can't wait for the DVD release.
Rating *****

Scarey or what? Wilko Johnson today.
Still playing a guitar just like ringing a bell!


Apologies for the lack of posts. I've been watching very little recently but hopefully new (to me)
stuff will be arriving soon.

Friday, 16 April 2010


Well, I've certainly had some good answers. My absolute favourite choice was Tex Avery - the thought of anybody living in a Tex Avery cartoon is really far out. Another choice, that of Bertolucci, at least has set me off on a quest for STEALING BEAUTY. I could have predicted that Cerpts would go for Antonioni and on overcast days as I walk the seafront looking at the rolling clouds over the estuary I sometimes share that choice. However, most days, I feel I'm in a middle period Bergman film - somewhere between THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY and WILD STRAWBERRIES.....although somedays its HOUR OF THE WOLF.


Wednesday, 14 April 2010


Here's something a bit off my usual beaten track. Sitting around with a friend last night watching some movies and he asked what I thought was an interesting question. I'd be interested in any feedback from anybody out there (if there IS anybody out there!) The Question is this :

At this time in your life, if your life were a film, which film-maker do you think is most likely directing it ?

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


I had a friend once who was obsessed with Jacques Tati's JOUR DE FETE to the point that he went to spend his holiday in the village where it was filmed. Finally seeing the film myself after all these years it is easy to see why. My only previous experience of Tati was a vague memory of seeing MON ONCLE as a child. JOUR DE FETE is a film of considerable charm. It is an elaboration on an earlier short film made by the director and star. Set in a French village on the day a fair comes to town, the film has little or no story - simply 24 hours in the life of the local postman - played with near balletic skill by Tati himself. Tati made the film in using an experimental colour camera with a second black and white camera for backup. When it was found that the lab could not process the colour footage it was decided to release the film in black and white. Modern technology now enables us to see the film as Tati intended - in colour. Needless to say, it is very funny. Rating ****

Thursday, 8 April 2010

LEGION (2010)

They must be joking! A film so mind numbingly stupid that it defies belief. Rating *

Friday, 2 April 2010


This rare "race" horror film is a sort of unofficial sequel to the 1930 INGAGI. A newly wedded couple inherit a house from an altruistic woman doctor who, unknown to everybody, has been killed by the ape man she keeps in her cellar - a relic of her many years in Africa. It is pretty crude poverty row stiff which is just about competently acted by its all black cast. Script is by Spencer Williams Jr. who also provides some eye-rolling comedy relief as Nelson the bungling detective. A couple of nice musical numbers by The Four Toppers are among the film's highlights. A real curiosity. Rating **

Internet Archive


It is impossible to judge this film against later versions of the story and difficult to rate it as a piece of entertainment. The very fact that this first adaption of Mary Shelley's novel, produced by Thomas Edison and directed by J. Searle Dowley even exists is enough in itself. It has to be viewed as an historical document and for film enthusiasts in general and horror fans in particular it is a very, very important one. As such I make no excuse for holding it in such esteem. Rating *****

Internet Archive

Thursday, 1 April 2010


Almost forgotten (perhaps because it lacks a sinister title) this is a quite lively Old Dark House comedy directed by Wagon Wheel Joe himself, Joseph H. Lewis. The East Side Kids in their second film under that name find themselves stranded for the night in an old castle with, you guessed it, a killer on the loose. Bobby Jordan and Leo Gorcey headline with some gentle comedy relief from Vince Barnett and for once when the killer was unmasked it came as a real surprise. Minerva Urecal plays a sinister housekeeper as if shes just been to see REBECCA. If, like me you like this low-budget fare it's pretty good fun. Rating ***
Available at Internet Archive

MANIAC (1934)

Forget Ed Wood, Dwain Esper is my main man! MANIAC certainly lives up to its reputation as one of the most bizarre films ever made. A mad doctor so over the top that he could outdo both Atwill and Zucco, body stealing, revival of corpses, a sneaky reference to necrophilia, a guy who breeds cats for their fur, hypnotism, bare breasted women fighting with hypodermic needles, and a lunatic eating the eyeball he's just popped out of a troublesome moggy, all intercut with scenes from HAXAN, Lang's SIEGFRIED and an Italian silent MACISTE film! I just sat and watched this totally demented piece of sub-cinema in disbelieve. Partly based on Edgar Allan Poe's The Black Cat one can only wonder at the sanity of the people who made it! Rating ****
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