Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Hoodlum Priest (1961)

Notes: 5/31/11
Irvin Kirshner directs. One of his first features.
Not much else of interest in this plodding crime drama.
Don Murray is charismatic and also wrote the screenplay.
Overblown, unfocused, and not entirely involving.
Kirshner delivers with directorial touches. Realism is achieved.
Downbeat conclusion is the film's highlight.
Keir Dullea is the whole show. So much sweat and fear.

Review: C
Don Murray co-wrote and stars in this slightly overblown tale of a city priest who ends up devoting his life to reforming young delinquents. Young Keir Dullea steals the film as a sensitive young 'hood' who is helped along by Murray's guidance. Irvin Kirshner directs with fine realism and a few gritty flourishes. Dullea manages to make the film's downbeat conclusion a must-see. Unfortunately, as entertainment, the film lacks focus and plods along aimlessly.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Devil at 4 O'Clock

Notes: 5/30/11
Spencer Tracy is a priest and Frank Sinatra is a convict
Lots of serious issues and not enough humor.
Spencer just seems angry all the time.
Sinatra is too serious and doesn't get to flex his charm.
“I just felt the devil pass under my feet.”
Kerwin Matthews is a young priest. Sort of boring.
Turns into a volcano disaster film.
Still proves to be a bit dull.
Lots of religious talk. Tracy is, of course, a priest.

Review: C
Heavy religious themes and not enough humor make this film rather dull. Spencer Tracy is an aging priest who employs convict Frank Sinatra to rescue children from a leper colony when a volcano violently erupts. Too serious and self-important to capture viewer's attention and the stars are not given a proper showcase for their talents.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Second Time Around (1961)

Notes: 5/18/11
Silly Western romance.
Debbie Reynolds is full of energy.
Thelma Ritter is fun in support.
Andy Griffith and Steve Forrest are dueling lovers of Debbie.
Everything works out fine in the end. Well made.
Director Vincent Sherman moved the action along swiftly.

Review: C
Debbie Reynolds exudes energy in this silly Western romance. Debbie is chased by two suitors while raising children from a previous marriage. Andy Griffith and Steve Forrest are the dueling lovers. Vincent Sherman moves the action along quickly as director and showcases the great Thelma Ritter as (who else?) Debbie's sly no-nonsense friend. Pretty well-made but pretty forgettable just the same.

Master of the World (1961)

Notes: 5/18/11
A bit campy, perhaps because of the cast.
Vincent Price as a nutjob. Of course.
Charles Bronson strangely cast.

Review: C
Vincent Price does what he does best, this time as a mad genius (aka nutjob) bent on using weapons to create world peace. Jules Verne story is a bit campy, but also colorful and fun. Charles Bronson seems a bit out of place in the hero role.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Something Wild (1961)

Notes: 5/17/11
Eye-catching Saul Bass credits.
Carroll Baker owns the early scenes of the film. Spare dialogue.
Ralph Meeker shows up and probably doesn't mean to do any harm. He's lonely and bruised too.
Dreary and drab, but offers surreal scenes like the museum dream sequence that stand out.
NYC location scenes do add a little to the enjoyment.

Review: C
Dreary, rather depressing tale of New York girl Carroll Baker who bears emotional damaged following a street assault. Soon after, Baker meets lonely drifter Ralph Meeker and the two unleash their emotions in brutal, often violent, ways. Too dark to really enjoy despite some fairly good performances. Depsite the promising premise, the film offers the viewer few challenges.

The Naked Edge (1961)

Notes: 5/17/11
Flashy opening credits.
Written by Joseph Stefano.
Gary Cooper's last movie.
Nice cinematography.
Lots of quiet toward the end. Only sound is the music on television.
Adds to suspense.
Typically stalwart British cast.
Uninteresting. Nothing really exciting.

Review: C
British suspense film traps Gary Cooper and Deborah Kerr in a rather uninteresting story of Kerr suspecting Cooper of murder. Director Michael Anderson creates a thrilling atmosphere, but can't hide a mundane script. Kerr's fright and suspicion were put to greater use in The Innocents. Cooper's last film is a pretty forgettable entry in his career.

The Outsider (1961)

Notes: 5/17/11
Tony Curtis in Native American make-up
Delbert Mann directs
Sorenson and Hayes holding each other on the battlefield. Touching.
Definitely one of Tony's best performances.
Memorian dedication scene is great.
Kind of a downer ending.

Review: C+
Tony Curtis gives an emotional performance as Ira Hayes, the Native-American soldier who takes part in the flag-raising at Iwo Jima and spirals into alcoholism upon returning from the war. A bit of a downer, but worth seeing for Curtis in an atypical role.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Paris Blues (1961)

Notes: 5/4/11
Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman, and Joanne Woodward! Mega-stars.
Louis Armstrong appears in a character role.
Diahann Carroll plays Joanne's friend.
American jazz-lovers enjoying the jazz flavor in Paris.
Romance quickly blossoms between each couple.
Despite the cast, the music by Duke Ellington is the real star.
Terrific direction of the music scenes. Such great music.

Review: B
Americans Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier are struggling blues musicians in 60s Paris who meet vacationing fellow Americans Joanne Woodward and Diahann Carroll. Sparks fly like jazz beats when the four pair up and fall in love. Moody, authentic, and unglamourous black-and-white depiction of Paris is a great showcase for real-life couple Newman and Woodward. The performances and romance are swell, but its the terrifically directed sequences featuring Louis Armstrong and the scoring of Duke Ellington that make the movie special.

The Ladies Man (1961)

Notes: 5/4/11
Jerry Lewis lunacy. Seriously absurd.
Elaborate opening scene on a busy street.
Kathleen Freeman was an imposing figure.
Lots of girls! Big elaborate sets.
George Raft plays a gangster.
Strange set pieces. Jerry has a slight French style to his direction.
Rather strange and kooky atmosphere.
Lots of howling and chasing and assorted slapstick.

Review: C-
Jerry Lewis lunacy raised to the kookiest level. Lots of elaborate sets filled with girls, chase scenes, and assorted slapstick. Moves quickly despite not having a story or anything to really recommend, aside from the marvelous Kathleen Freeman. A Lewis misfire.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Parrish (1961)

Notes: 5/3/11
Glossy production. Delmer Daves directs. Max Steiner does the score.
Lots of connections to Susan Slade – Donahue, Stevens, Daves, Steiner, et al.
Claudette Colbert! Living legend on screen again.
Diane McBain and Colbert have a bitch-off.
Way too long and a bit too over-dramatic.
Colbert deserves much better and Malden is overheated.
Troy and his young actress co-stars are rather boring.

Review: C-
Yet another glossy soaper from the creative team behind A Summer Place. Unfortunately, this empty melodrama lacks the necessary spark to make a viewer care about any of these characters for over two hours. The presence of legendary Claudette Colbert, as well as seasoned actors Karl Malden and Dean Jagger, lifts the film above mediocrity, but the characters are poorly developed. Troy Donahue and the ladies that surround him are all pretty robots. Even the Max Steiner music is forgettable! A waste of time and talent.

Wild in the Country (1961)

Notes: 5/3/11
Elvis movies usually rely on great music or a seasoned cast to be watchable.
Lots of ladies! Hope Lange, Tuesday Weld, and Millie Perkins.
Elvis offers a good performance. He was a good actor, as well as singer.
Certainly a good showcase for Tuesday Weld. Hope Lange was very pretty.
The ladies and Elvis each get a curtain call at the end.

Review: C+
Elvis gets to show off his fine dramatic acting as a troubled man who must undergo counseling as a parole requirement. Hope Lange plays the counselor who encourages Elvis to explore his literary talents. Tuesday Weld and Millie Perkins are local girls who attract (and distract) his attention. The cast is memorable, but the movie is not, despite a saucy showcase for Weld and a surprisingly complicated role for Elvis.