Monday, January 31, 2011

Mein Kampf (1961)

Notes: 1/31/11
Berlin 1945. Devastation. Backtrack to 1914. How it all began.
Intriguing old documentary footage detailing the history of Nazi Germany.
Scenes of children in the ghettos is frightening.
Concentration camp footage is moving and fascinating.
Not so much a story of Hitler, but more of what he created.

Review: B-
Candid documentary footage illustrates the rise of Hitler's Third Reich and the subsequent devastation of the Holocaust. Fascinating in parts, particularly the images of the concentration camp victims and survivors. While the title is borrowed from Hitler's own autobiography/manifest, there is not as much focus on the man as one might expect. Instead, the film serves as a lesson in the horrors or history and how they must never be repeated. Personally, I was expecting more.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Honeymoon Machine (1961)

Notes: 1/23/11
Bouncy opening titles. Not a bad song – Love Is Crazy.
McQueen had a sort of hippy Paul Newman quality.
Prentiss and Hutton are the definite highlight.
Gambling in Venice mixed with Naval humor mixed with silly romance.
I like Dean Jagger and his great voice.
Cute, amusing, but not a classic.
Nice cast gets a deserved curtain call.

Review: C+
Bright comedy with Steve McQueen in an early role as a sailor who discovers a way to fix the casino tables in Venice. Lots of mishaps along the way involving the US Navy and some silly romance. Paula Prentiss is the comic highlight and Jim Hutton makes a great scene partner for her sophisticated brand of slapstick. Bouncy and amusing with a fine cast.

Two Loves (1961)

Notes: 1/23/11
Shirley MacLaine in a quiet, uncharacteristic role.
The first love is an awkward relationship between Shirley and Laurence Harvey.
The second love is the similarly awkward one with Jack Hawkins.
It does seem a little strange that no one appears to be from New Zealand, despite the setting.
Perhaps Shirley wasn't right for this movie. More of a Deborah Kerr role.

Review: C-
Uninvolving drama with Shirley MacLaine in a role better suited for Deborah Kerr. As a sheltered school teacher in New Zealand, Shirley seeks romance with Laurence Harvey, a brash rake of a man, and Jack Hawkins, an older lovable sort. Characters are rather annoying or thinly written, making this film no more than a curio for fans of the stars.

Back Street (1961)

Notes: 1/23/11
John Gavin was one of the sexiest actors ever.
Susan Hayward was one of the best star actresses of the 50s and 60s.
Vera Miles and John Gavin reunite after Psycho.
Vera is a monster of a wife. Susan needs to bitch-slap her.
Jean Louis costumes were Oscar nominated.
Vera Miles was certainly gorgeous. Movie is worth watching for the pretty cast.

Review: C+
Susan Hayward and John Gavin steam up the screen in this story of forbidden love. Fans of the two actors would be the best audience for some of the love scenes. Some memorable moments surround a series of highly dramatic and lushly photographed scenes between the two leads. Not completely memorable or interesting, but kept afloat by the assurance of the leads.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

By Love Possessed (1961)

Notes: 1/22/11
Looks like a Douglas Sirk movie, but it's directed by John Sturges.
Cinematographer Russell Metty shot most of Sirk's movies.
Barbara Bel Geddes is quite a mature presence.
Nice music by Elmer Bernstein.
I like the friendship between George and Lana. Nice to see people respecting each other in this type of movie where most people who are angry or bored all the time.

Review: C+
Dramatic soaper, filmed in the style of Douglas Sirk, offers little in the way of an interesting plot. Lana Turner does well in melodrama-mode and the rest of the cast makes the film worth seeing. George Hamilton and Barbara Bel Geddes provide thoughtful performances, elevating their storylines above others. Had their characters been a bit more well-written, the movie might have had more to offer.

Loss of Innocence (1961)

Notes: 1/21/11
Not sure if this movie appeals to me on any level.
I like Kenneth More, but I don't know how I feel about his character.
Danielle Darrieux doesn't do much for me in this, but I love her accent.
Susannah York does good work in an early role. Drunk scene.
Probably more enjoyable for anyone who was ever a teenage girl.

Review: C-
Mostly appealing to teenage girls, this film couldn't draw my interests, despite the presence of charming Kenneth More and French actress Danielle Darrieux. The highlight of the film is the performance of Susannah York in an early role as a young girl accepting her maturing sexual feelings despite not fully understanding them.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Scream of Fear (1961)

Notes: 1/21/11
A young girl is pulled out of a lake.
Great cinematography by Douglas Slocombe.
Christopher Lee! You just know he's going to be up to something.
Ann Todd is totally hiding something.
Scary-looking 'father' character. Especially in the summer house.
Fun mystery. Tension grows slowly. Definite sense of 'what is going on here?'
Twisty outcome.

Review: B
Creepy Hammer thriller with Susan Strasberg as a wheelchair-bound girl returning to her father's estate after many years. Once she arrives, she begins to experience ghostly behavior that no one else seems to notice, or believe. Things, naturally, are not what they appear to be and the twists keep coming. Quite good, with nice cinematography by Douglas Slocombe and some fine performances.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Angel Baby (1961)

Notes: 1/20/11
Pretty nice cast. Mercedes McCambridge, Joan Blondell, etc.
George Hamilton is energetic and adorable.
Burt Reynolds in his film debut!
Joan Blondell and Henry Jones sure are a show-boating team.
The mixture of sex and religion will surely create some upheaval.
Lots of themes and emotion in this movie. 

Review: C+
Pretty good depiction of evangelism and the manipulation and confusion that surrounds it. Impressive cast prevents the story from being too muddled and helps make the drama work. Joan Blondell and Henry Jones are particular standouts as a boozy, carefree couple. George Hamilton brings great energy to his promoter role and Mercedes McCambridge is defiant as his wife. All are affected by the arrival of young, pretty Angel Baby, who may or may not have healing powers the others can only dream of.

Bridge to the Sun (1961)

Notes: 1/20/11
Interesting to see an interracial love story on screen. Must have caused some scandal.
Seeing them torn apart by WWII is more fascinating when you remember this is a true story.
Shot of children flying kite together. Most poignant moment in the movie.
Carroll Baker – good performance?
Story could have been more moving and effective with a stronger actress.  

Review: C
Interesting true story, based on the romance between an American girl and a Japanese man during World War II. Scandalous love story is portrayed in a classy way, but the film, unfortunately, offers little else of interest. Carroll Baker, masterful in Baby Doll, just doesn't seem to work in this role, making the film less effective. The tearjerker ending, for example, might have worked better with a stronger actress. The rest of the film could use a bit more energy and some tighter direction.

Bachelor in Paradise (1961)

Notes: 1/20/11
Fun cast, fun opening titles
Oscar nominated song is ok. Not catchy, but it's clever.
Lana Turner is an icy foil Bob Hope's sarcasm.
Nice to see Lana in something light for a change. Really makes her likable.
Paula Prentiss and Jim Hutton are cute together as a young couple.
Nice, modern comedy about the struggle with suburbia.

Review: C+
Pleasant romantic comedy with Bob Hope as an author, and proud bachelor, who enters the world of 1960s suburbia to write a book about it. Fascinating glimpse into how life was from the homes to the cars, right down to the supermarkets. Lana Turner's icy persona works as an amusing foil to Hope's sarcasm. The supporting cast is a colorful assemblage of talent, including Janis Paige as a town floozy, and Jim Hutton and Paula Prentiss as a young married couple. Not as hilarious or memorable as other Hope films, but it's certainly a time capsule for an era that is no more.

The Guns of Navarone (1961)

Notes: 1/19/11
Outstanding music by Dimitri Tiomkin.
Lots of great ensemble work. Cool cast. .
Exciting scene where team works together to destroy the crew of a German ship..
Each actor has expressive eyes that make the performances extra great.
The interactions between each character, the one-on-ones and the group scenes, really make the movie.
Awesome, suspenseful finale.

Review: A
Exciting action-adventure about an expert team working together to destroy two German guns hidden in the cliffs of Navarone. Taut, tense scenes make this film a real nail-biter, but much of the magic of this movie is created by the starry ensemble. Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, and David Niven each give commanding and moving performances. The supporting cast is just as impressive, allowing for some very memorable scenes and interactions. Superior direction by J. Lee Thompson keeps all of the heart and action on an even playing field. Outstanding musical score by Dimitri Tiomkin is yet another ingredient that makes this film a classic.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Go Naked in the World (1961)

Notes: 1/19/11
Captures the moment when a man grows up and everything between him and his parents becomes awkward, but everything with his lover feels like the best thing ever.
Franciosa might be too old for this role?
The romance and family feuds didn't work so well, but Franciosa's reaction to the truth about Gina is pretty good. I think the story is better than the execution and that the acting is just adequate.

Review: C
Modern-day story of 'Camille' focuses more on the upscale family life of Anthony Franciosa, than the scandalous life of Gina Lollabrigida. The ages of the actors is a bit questionable, making one ponder others who might better serve these roles. Ernerst Borgnine is the most blustery as the Franciosa's difficult father. Unfortunately, Lollabrigida is rather dull and Franciosa only registers in scenes with his family. Colorful production is just alright, but might have been more interesting with a different cast.

Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1961)

Notes: 1/19/11
Opening narration raises interesting questions. Was there really an Atlantis?
Lots of shirtless Anthony Hall make this movie difficult to get bored with. So far, at least.
I like John Dall, but why does he clothe Anthony Hall with a salmon bathrobe? I have nothing to stare at anymore!
Edward Platt is a strange choice for the high priest. He doesn't do much but make faces.
Disaster time! LOTS of stock footage.

Review: C-
Special effects (and stock footage) highlight this George Pal production concerning the downfall of the mythical continent of Atlantis. Not the greatest of its genre; some of the acting is lazy and the editing is slightly sloppy. Anthony Hall (aka Sal Ponti) runs around without clothes on for much of the movie, giving it a much-needed spark. John Dall and Edward Platt add some class in supporting roles, but both appear to be running on auto-pilot. Film is mostly silly, but not as bad as one might expect.

Days of Thrills and Laughter (1961)

Notes: 1/19/11
Robert Youngson continues his compilation series.
Clips range from bawdy comedy to elaborate action.
Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy, Fairbanks, Pearl White, etc.
Great opportunity to educate people on early filmmakers and stars.
Houdini! What a thrill to see pieces of his silent films.
Terrific opportunity to see clips from The Perils of Pauline.
“No successors; but only moving shadows.”

Review: B-
Robert Youngson continues his series of silent era compilation films by focusing on the thrilling stunts and hilarious gags that make silent films a one-of-a-kind experience. Film works as an opportunity for younger audiences to discover the great gags of lesser known comedians like Charley Chase and Snub Pollard, along with Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy. Even more enjoyable are clips from the films of Harry Houdini, allowing viewers to marvel at the legendary magician and escape artist.

Underworld U.S.A. (1961)

Notes: 1/19/10
Samuel Fuller! I'm intrigued.
'When will he come out?', 'When he's dead.'
Change of pace role for Cliff Robertson. Gritty.
Richard Rust was also in Homicidal. Pretty good looking.
Beatrice Kay does a good job. Looks like Sylvia Sidney.
Can't believe they killed the little girl.
Film noir wasn't as popular in 1961, but this movie and Fuller stay true to the form.

Review: C+
Samuel Fuller creates another gritty crime story with an effective Cliff Robertson as a man out for revenge on the mob who killed his father years ago. Supporting cast helps keep the film memorable and interesting. Overall, the film is a minor effort in the film noir genre that lacks the proper suspense and excitement to really score.

The Explosive Generation (1961)

Notes: 1/19/11
A little reminscent of those silly rock 'n roll movies.
Funny to imagine that teenagers lined up for these types of films.
This is much better than a silly rock 'n roll movie. I like the basic plot. Sex education = taboo.
Definitely spotted Beau Bridges in the class.
Promising start, but the film ends up losing steam in its mid-section.
Interesting time capsule. Can't imagine all the fuss that sex education caused.

Review: C
Teen drama works only as a time capsule from the era just after the squeaky-clean 1950s and the sexual revolution of the late 60s. William Shatner plays a teacher who introduces sexual behavior into his curriculum, causing uproar among parents and townspeople. Loses steam somewhere in the mid-section, deflating a promising depiction of a bygone era.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Young Doctors (1961)

Notes: 1/18/11
Phil Karlson is an curious choice to direct a melodrama about doctors, but he definitely supplies a gritty realism that elevates the material.
Love story with Ben Gazzara and Ina Balin is OK. Cute interaction scene on a bus.
Pretty well made medical drama with little fluff and some fairly nice moments.
Fredric March elevates this from being hokum and Gazzara make it feel authentic.

Review: B-
Well-made medical drama given an authentically gritty feel by director Phil Karlson. Fredric March leads a talented cast as an aging doctor faced with changes in the medical world, including the hiring of a much younger doctor in his department. Ben Gazzara is effective as March's new colleague and Dick Clark shows early acting promise as doctor whose wife is having a baby.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Claudelle Inglish (1961)

Notes: 1/17/11
Uninteresting soaper.
Constance Ford is a scene-stealer. Liked her in A Summer Place.
Not classy enough to be Peyton Place and not sexy enough to be God's Little Acre.
A stale melodrama with good actors, but little entertainment.
Not entirely sure why this was nominated for Costume Design, but I guess it's authentic.
Ending = annoying

Review: C-
Stale melodrama attempts to be sexy, but lacks any kind of spark or personality in its characters or story. Diane McBain and Chad Everett are each rather unremarkable as young lovers. Arthur Kennedy and Constance Ford stand out as the parents of McBain's title character. The ending reinforces the frustrating feeling that the film causes as it plods along.

Town Without Pity (1961)

Notes: 1/17/11
Narration seems out of place. Kind of a lazy form of storytelling.
Rape story and German flavor make this stand out a bit.
The music is awesome. Dimitri Tiomkin. Seems a but out of place though. Great title song!
The girl's father is an interesting character.
I like that all involved are both sympathetic and despicable.
Probably could have been done better. Good story, but not as engrossing as it could have been.

Review: C
The title song, while rather out of place, is the best part of this courtroom drama about four American soldiers accused of raping a German girl. Kirk Douglas does well as the conflicted defense attorney and Christine Kaufmann is memorable as the girl. The story and characters have so much promise, but the film itself turns out to be rather lazy and uneven. Too bad.

The Big Show (1961)

Notes: 1/17/11
Nice cast assembled. Circus theme could be fun.
Good actors, but script and direction are lacking something.
The girls are kind of boring.
Esther Williams is definitely beautiful, but she's not swimming, so....
So much draaaamaaa in the movie. Nothing interesting though.
Robert Vaughn was good at playing a creep. – And holy shit! Crazy death (?) scene.

Review: C-
Particularly uninteresting family drama concerning betrayal among a family of circus performers. Cliff Robertson and Robert Vaughn play brothers at odds. Their relationship is the only thing that stands out in a story that also involves a nowhere-near-a-pool Esther Williams as a love interest. If the script and direction had just a bit more focus, the film could have been more exciting. Instead, it's rather forgettable. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ada (1961)

Notes: 1/16/11
Susan Hayward is brassy. She is such a commanding presence.
Lots of confrontation scenes between Hayward and Wilfrid Hyde-White
Dean Martin is an interesting choice for the politician.
Story of a strong woman defying the odds and he reputation. Not all that interesting.
Martin Balsam has a good supporting role.
Ralph Meeker was handsome, but he's sort of a dick in this movie.

Review: C
Susan Hayward is the sole reason to watch this uninvolving soaper about a hooker who struggles to gain respect when she marries a politician. Dean Martin is an odd choice for her husband, but he's always a welcome presence. Still, it's Hayward's show and she makes anything watchable.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Parent Trap (1961)

Notes: 1/6/11
Opening credits are cute. 
Ricky Nelson reference. I love the pop culture allusions. Very 1961.
Impressive split-screen effects. It really does seem like there are 2 of Hayley Mills.
Leo G. Carroll has a funny bit as a Reverend.
Let's Get Together duet scene is fun

Review: B
Hayley Mills plays twin sisters in this entertaining live-action comedy from Disney. Impressive split-screen effects add to the fun, while the colorful supporting cast, particularly Una Merkel and Charles Ruggles, offer some welcome warmth. Mills is very likeable and Maureen O'Hara, who plays her mother, is quite beautiful.