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Category: Z-View

Up in Smoke (1957)

Up in Smoke (1957)

Director: William Beaudine

Screenplay: Jack Townley

Stars: Huntz Hall, Stanley Clements and David Gorcey

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make another Bowery Boys picture!”

Tagline: HOLY SMOKE! They’re Raisin’ The Devil!…and SATAN’S WAITIN’ to take them BELOW!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

When Satch loses money for a child’s charity, he sells his soul to the devil in order to be able to pick horse race winners for a week.

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The Invisible Man Returns (1940)

The Invisible Man Returns (1940)

Director: Joe May

Screenplay: Lester Cole & Curt Siodmak (as Kurt Siodmak)

Stars: Cedric Hardwicke, Vincent Price, Nan Grey and Alan Napier.

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make another Invisible Man picture!”

Tagline: More strange thrills… More eerie chills… More awesome suspense

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Sentenced to die for a murder he didn’t commit, Geoffrey Radcliffe (Price) escapes death row by taking the invisible man serum.  Will Radcliffe be able to prove his innocence before invisibility drives him mad?

Although Vincent Price is the Invisible Man, you won’t see much of him in this starring role.  ; )

 

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Each Dawn I Die (1939)

Each Dawn I Die (1939)

Director: William Keighley

Screenplay: Norman Reilly Raine and Warren Duff based on the novel by Jerome Odlum

Stars: James Cagney, George Raft, Jane Bryan

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make a prison drama!”

Tagline: Slugging their way to adventure!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

When newspaper reporter Frank Ross exposed government corruption he is framed for a manslaughter charge and sent to prison.  Holding out hope for evidence to exonerate him, Ross is beaten down by the system (not to mention the prison guards).  Seeing no other way out, Ross teams with infamous gangster Stacey (Raft).

 

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Marnie (1964)

Marnie (1964)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Screenplay:  Jay Presson Allen based on the novel by Winston Graham

Stars: Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery, Martin Gabel, Diane Baker, Alan Napier and Bruce Dern.

The Pitch: “Hey, Hitchcock wants to make ‘Marnie’!”

Tagline: On Marnie’s wedding night he discovered every secret about her . . . except one!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

Wealthy businessman, Mark Rutledge (Connery) falls in love with a beautiful pathological liar and thief (Hendren) when she tries to steal from his company.  Rather than turn her over to the police he decides to find the origin of her compulsions.

This film has all of Hitchcock’s flourishes but falls way short of his best for me.

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Looking for Danger (1957)

Looking for Danger (1957)

Director: Austen Jewell

Screenplay: Elwood Ullman

Stars: Huntz Hall, Stanley Clements and Lili Kardell

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s do another Bowery Boys movie!”

Tagline: It’s a royal delight when Sach crashes the Sultan’s harem and teaches the gals with the seven veils to rock ‘n roll!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

The boys remember the time during the war when they were sent to spy behind enemy lines in an Arabian land disguised as Nazis.

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Of Mice and Men (1939)

Of Mice and Men (1939)

Director: Lewis Milestone

Screenplay: Eugene Solow based on the novel by John Steinbeck

Stars: Lon Chaney Jr., Burgess Meredith, Betty Field, Charles Bickford, Roman Bohnen, Bob Steele and Noah Beery Jr.

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s turn Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men into a movie!”

Tagline: A mighty novel! A sensational stage success! Now! The year’s most important picture!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

George (Chaney, Jr.) and Lennie (Meredith) are old buddies who travel from farm to ranch looking for work just barely getting by during the depression. George is a strong giant of a man with the brain of a child.  Lennie constantly looks after George whose strength and lack of mental aptitude is always getting him them in trouble.   Although they dream of one day owning their own little place, it will probably never happen.

George and Lennie get work on a ranch owned by a mean old man and his son, Curley (Steele).  Curley takes an instant dislike to George.  Curley distrusts all the men on the ranch because of his attractive wife (Field), but he especially hates large men.  Lennie warns George to stay away from both Curley and his wife.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that they will stay away from him.

 

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The Birds (1963)

The Birds (1963)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Screenplay: Evan Hunter from a story by Daphne Du Maurier

Stars: Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Suzanne Pleshette, Jessica Tandy and Veronica Cartwright

The Pitch: “Hey, Alfred Hitchcock wants to make The Birds!”

Tagline: Suspense and shock beyond anything you have seen or imagined!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

Another classic from the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.  This is one of a few movies I was always allowed to stay up and watch even on a school night as a kid.  All you need to know (and you probably already know it) is that birds are attacking and killing humans in Bodega Bay (and maybe the entire world)!

 

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Backtrack (2015)

Backtrack (2015)

Director: Michael Petroni

Screenplay: Michael Petroni

Stars: Adrien Brody, Jenni Baird and Bruce Spence

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make a ghost movie with Adrien Brody!”

Tagline: Nothing haunts like the past.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Psychologist Peter Bower (Brody) is having a terrible time dealing with the death of his daughter.  He was teaching her to ride a bike when he became distracted and she was struck by a truck and killed.  Bower begins to have dreams of the dead and even starts to see them while awake.

As Bower sorts out the meaning of his visions, he also tries to remember what distracted him and lead to the death of his daughter.  Bower believes that they are linked.  Following the clues, he returns to his boyhood home and a secret that ties it all together.

 

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Split (2017)

Split (2017)

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan

Stars: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson and Betty Buckley

The Pitch: “Hey, M. Knight Shyamalan has a cool idea for a movie!”

Tagline: Kevin has 23 distinct personalities. The 24th is about to be unleashed.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

Kevin Wendell has 23 different personalities.  One of them kidnapped three girls and locked them in a remote location.  All they know is that a new personality, ‘the beast’ is coming and they are considered sacred food.

M. Knight is back!  The twist ending has received a lot of buzz and is a cool reveal more than a twist.  With that said, I watched the movie thinking that one of the girls was actually one of Kevin’s personalities.  I really believe that M. Knight wanted us to lean that way… but I was wrong.  It’ll be interesting to see how M. Knight re-visits this story-line.

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Sleepless (2017)

Sleepless (2017)

Director: Baran bo Odar

Screenplay: Andrea Berloff based on the French film Sleepless Night

Stars: Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Dermot Mulroney, Scoot McNairy, Gabrielle Union and Octavius J. Johnson

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s remake Sleepless Night!”

Tagline: Don’t judge a cop by his cover.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

Sleepless starts off with a lot of potential and then quickly becomes turns into a brainless action fest.  That’s not a bad thing if you’re not hoping for more, but based on the trailer I was.

Sleepless opens with a drug ripoff that turns into a shootout leaving the drug couriers dead. The two masked men who ripped off the 25 million dollars worth of cocaine get away and we learn that they are cops.  Vincent Downs (Foxx) and his partner show up at the station and Downs requests to investigate the case.  Pretty smart move since he and his partner committed the crime.  This is probably the last smart thing that happens in the movie.

Downs and his partner go to the crime scene and discover another pair of detectives are also working the case.  To make matters worse both the drug dealer and the drug buyer are on to Downs (how do they figure this out before the cops?) and so they kidnap Downs’ son.

Downs’ has a son and a wife.  He doesn’t live with them because he was never home.  Son tolerates dad who is always late or doesn’t show up for scheduled visits.  Wife is ready to move on to another man who has been in her life.  This family life could be expected from a drug dealing no good cop.

Downs gets a call and is told to bring the cocaine to the drug dealer’s casino.  Yep, just bring 25 million of coke to the casino and you’ll get your son back.  So what does Downs do?  He takes the satchel of coke to the casino.  Ah, but he has a plan.  He’ll go into the men’s room and hide half in the ceiling.  Then he’ll wait to give his son back before giving them the rest of the drugs.

Can you think of another place that has more cameras than a casino?  Not the brightest plan.  What follows are a bunch of fights as Downs gets his son back, loses his son, fights the drug dealers and fights the other cops investigating the crime.  There are fights in the hallway, fights in the kitchen, the disco, the spa, the pool and the parking garage.  You’ll see more people with guns get their guns taken away by unarmed folks than in any other movie I can remember.

The thing that bugs me is that this could have been a better movie with just a little more thought.  Nits I will pick…

  • Downs takes all the coke to the casino and then hides half of it in the casino.  What’s the point?  Doesn’t he know about cameras?
  • When the female cop trailing Downs discovers he’s brought the stolen coke to the casino she doesn’t call it in.   Instead she takes the coke and hides it in a locker in the spa in the same casino?!?
  • When Downs goes to get the coke he hid so they will give him his son he discovers it is missing.  So he goes to the kitchen and packs up sugar.  The drug dealers take it without checking because cops are supposedly on their way up.
  • In fight scene after fight scene someone with a gun has it taken away from them by an unarmed person.
  • In a scene in the parking garage, one of the thugs puts on a mask and begins firing off tear gas rounds.  The tear gas has no effect on anyone.  Perhaps he was just firing off smoke grenades, but if that is the case why is he wearing a mask and the smoke would hinder his and his partner’s vision as well.
  • Downs’ wife shows up at the parking garage just in time to kill a thug and save his life.
  • It turns out (major spoiler alert and cliché) that Downs is a good cop who has been undercover for two years.  His dedication to the case is an admirable thing.  Ignoring his family was all in the line of the job.  Aww!  His son and wife are going to forgive him and all will be well in the Downs’ household.
  • The cliché I was hoping that they’d avoid was that the bad cop was actually the female detective’s partner.

If it sounds like I hated Sleepless, I didn’t.  If you go in expecting a fairly mindless action flick, you should like it.  I was just hoping for so much better.

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The Thing from Another World (1951)

The Thing from Another World (1951)

Director: Christian Nyby, Howard Hawks (uncredited)

Screenplay: Charles Lederer based on the story Who Goes There by John W. Campbell Jr.

Stars: Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer, James Young, Dewey Martin, Robert Nichols, William Self, Eduard Franz and James Arness.

The Pitch: “Hey,let’s turn Who Goes There into a movie!”

Tagline: What do you know about it? What does science know about it? What does ANYONE know about THE THING?

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

A small band of scientists and soldiers are stationed in the Arctic.  They discover what appears to be a flying saucer buried in the ice.  They also find an alien being frozen in the ice.  When they bring back the block of ice containing the creature, they have no idea the horror that is in store.

The Thing from Another World is a Classic!

 

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Stagecoach (1939)

Stagecoach (1939)

Director: John Ford

Screenplay: Dudley Nichols  from an original story by Ernest Haycox

Stars: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine and John Carradine

The Pitch: “Hey,let’s make a western that’s more than just white hats vs black hats.”

Tagline: Danger holds the reins as the devil cracks the whip ! Desperate men ! Frontier women ! Rising above their pasts in a West corrupted by violence and gun-fire !

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

Stagecoach is not only one of the best westerns ever made, but one of the best movies ever made.  It has it all, danger, romance, humor, mystery and more.  It could actually be the film that laid the ground work for disaster/apopcalyptic movies.  Throw a group of strangers together and drop in a disaster and see what shakes out.

The strangers include: The stage driver and his partner riding shotgun, an alcoholic doctor and a prostitute (who’ve been run out of town), a gambler, a pregnant woman, a bank manager (who has a bag of stolen money) and an escaped convict seeking revenge for the murder of his father and brother.

The stagecoach is traveling through Apache territory in the middle of an uprising.  As they get deeper and deeper into Indian territory, the odds of their surviving are dropping fast.

This is the movie that made John Wayne a star.

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The Rules of Wolfe by James Carlos Blake

The Rules of Wolfe by James Carlos Blake

Publisher: Mysterious Press

First sentence…

Eddie Gato pleaded with us to take him on that run last winter but we said no.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

Eddie Gato Wolfe is an ambitious young man who wishes to make a fast rise in the vast Wolfe family criminal organization.  When things aren’t moving as fast as he’d like, Eddie heads down to Mexico and takes a security job for the La Navaja drug cartel.

Assigned to a remote but luxurious desert villa, days and nights are boring.  The only time things liven up is when the cartel bosses fly in with young women to party.  Although contact or conversations with the help is not allowed one of the women seems interested in Eddie… and he in her.  Eddie learns her name is Miranda.

On Miranda’s next visit he sneaks a visit to her and they hit it off.  All is going well until the man who brought her finds them together.  He and Eddie fight and the man ends up dead.  The dead man is the brother of  La Navaja’s leader.  Eddie knows that unless he and Miranda can escape across the desert and back into the United States, a brutal merciless death awaits them both.

Eddie and Miranda head into the desert with the knowledge that the entire La Navaja cartel will be looking for them.  They’re only hope is a lot of luck and maybe some help from the Wolfe’s… the family that he deserted.

James Carlos Blake has another winner!

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The Traveler (2010)

The Traveler (2010)

Director: Michael Oblowitz

Screenplay:  Joseph C. Muscat

Stars: Val Kilmer, Dylan Neal and Paul McGillion

The Pitch: “Hey,let’s make a murder mystery with supernatural revenge overtones.”

Tagline: How do you catch a killer you’ve already caught?

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Late one evening a stranger walks into a deserted under-staffed police station and begins confessing to murders he hasn’t yet committed.

Interesting premise that falls way short in reality.  The underlying premise is that an innocent man has been killed by the officers in the station and that the stranger is there to get revenge.  What follows is a lot of stupid decisions made by characters that results in torture and gore.  Then at the end there is a reveal that makes all that we’ve seen even worse.  Bah!

 

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Hold That Hypnotist (1957)

Hold That Hypnotist (1957)

Director: Austen Jewell

Screenplay: Dan Pepper

Stars: Huntz Hall, Stanley Clements and Jane Nigh

The Pitch: “Hey,let’s make another Bowery Boys movie.”

Tagline: They’re HYSTERICAL…They’re HYPNUTICAL!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Satch gets hypnotized and has visions of an earlier life when he was a pirate and wakes with the knowledge of a buried treasure.  Less laughs than most Bowery Boys films and one of the weakest in the series.

 

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