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Category: Z-View

San Quentin (1937)

San Quentin (1937)

Director: Lloyd Bacon

Screenplay:
Peter Milne
and Humphrey Cobb

Stars: Pat O’Brien, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan, Barton MacLane and Joe Sawyer.

The Pitch: “Hey,let’s make a dramatic romance focused around a prison.”

Tagline: “IT’S EASIER TO FIGHT TEN PRISON RIOTS THAN TAME ONE DIZZY DAME!”

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Captain Stephen Jameson (O’Brien) tasked with bringing discipline to the prisoners of San Quentin goes there to make a difference.  Jameson falls in love with the sister (Sheridan) of one of the convicts (Bogart).  When the convict escapes Jameson vows to bring him in.

One of the most unintentionally funny movie endings ever.

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Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954)

Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954)

Director: Don Siegel

Screenplay: Richard Collins

Stars: Neville Brand, Emile Meyer, Frank Faylen, Leo Gordon, Robert Osterloh, Paul Frees, Don Keefer, Alvy Moore, Dabbs Greer and Whit Bissell.

The Pitch: “Hey,let’s make a dramatic expose on prison life.”

Tagline: YOU ARE CAUGHT IN THE SCORCHING CENTER OF A PRISON RIOT! YOU feel the savage frenzy of 4000 caged humans! YOU see the horror of the wolf pack on a vengeance kick! YOU sweat out every second with tortured hostages! YOU rock with the impact of brute force against bullets!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

James Dunn (Brand) leads a prison riot intended to bring about better conditions for all prisoners.  Unfortunately, Dunn’s partner in the uprising is Crazy Mike Carnie (Gordon) who sees this as his chance to get back at guards and maybe more.

Leo Gordon is a force of nature in this.

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Fingers at the Window (1942)

Fingers at the Window (1942)

Director: Charles Lederer

Screenplay: Rose Caylor and Lawrence P. Bachmann from a story by Rose Caylor

Stars: Lew Ayres, Laraine Day and Basil Rathbone

The Pitch: “Hey,let’s make a scary love story!”

Tagline: DANGER AT NIGHTFALL!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

An axe-murderer is terrorizing the city of Chicago with six killings so far.  When Oliver Duffy (Ayers) sees a strange looking man following a woman late one night he stops to warn her.  Although skeptical at first, Edwina (Day) comes to realize Oliver isn’t kidding.  Oliver walks her home and a second attempt on her life is made.

Soon enough they realize that the other murders were just a ruse and she is the real target.  But who wants to kill her and why?  Oliver and Edwina may die finding out.

 

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London Has Fallen (2016)

London Has Fallen (2016)

Director: Babak Najafi

Screenplay: Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benedikt and Christian Gudegast and
Chad St. John

Stars: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Radha Mitchell, Angela Bassett and Morgan Freeman

The Pitch: “Hey,let’s make a sequel to Olympus Has Fallen!”

Tagline: The world’s leaders have assembled. So have their enemies.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

World leaders have all come to London for the funeral of an English diplomat.  When terrorists strike in attempt to kill as many world leaders as possible, it is up to Secret Service agent, Mike Banning (Butler) to get the President to safety… and kill as many terrorists as possible along the way.

 

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Rear Window (1954)

Rear Window (1954)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Screenplay: John Michael Hayes based on the short story by Cornell Woolrich

Stars: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey and Raymond Burr

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

Tagline: In deadly danger…because they saw too much!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Stuck in his apartment mending a broken leg, professional photographer, Jeff Jeffries (Stewart) has taken to watching the lives of the people in the building across the courtyard.  It seems a harmless way to pass the time until Jeffries is convinced he saw a man kill his wife.

The police don’t have any evidence and Jeffries is stuck in his wheelchair.   With no proof and the appearance that the man is about to move away, Jeffries convinces his girlfriend, Lisa, (Kelly) that a murderer is about to escape justice.  Lisa is caught looking for evidence. The man now has Jeff and Lisa in his sights.

 

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The Mummy’s Ghost (1944)

The Mummy’s Ghost (1944)

Director: Reginald LeBorg

Screenplay: Griffin Jay & Henry Sucher & Brenda Weisberg

Stars: John Carradine, Robert Lowery, Ramsay Ames and Lon Chaney, Jr.

The Pitch: “Hey, it’s time for another mummy movie!”

Tagline: NO CHAINS Can Hold It! NO TOMB Can Seal It!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Like all mummy movies, a mummy is brought back to life and is attracted to a modern woman who may be the reincarnation of his past love.  Terror ensues at a slow pace (mummies have a hard time walking all bandaged up and all).  This mummy movie does have at least one surprise.

 

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Rope (1948)

Rope (1948)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Screenplay: Hume Cronyn adapted from the play by  Patrick Hamilton

Stars: John Dall, Farley Granger, Edith Evanson, Douglas Dick, Joan Chandler, Cedric Hardwicke, Constance Collier, Dick Hogan and James Stewart

The Pitch: “Hey, turn Rope into a movie!”

Tagline: Nothing ever held you like Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Shortly before a dinner party they’re hosting, two college intellectuals strangle a man and hide his body in a trunk in their apartment.  They then decide to serve their dinner party on the trunk.  Invited to the dinner party are the man’s parents, his girlfriend, her former boyfriend and one of the past professors.

Because one of the murder’s thinks he is so intellectually superior he continues to taunt and tease his crime partner… only thing is, someone in the dinner party might be picking up the clues.

 

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Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Director: Frank Capra

Screenplay: Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein based on the play by Joseph Kesselring

Stars: Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, Raymond Massey, Jack Carson, Edward Everett Horton, Peter Lorre, James Gleason, Josephine Hull, Jean Adair, John Alexander and Charles Lane.

The Pitch: “Hey, turn Arsenic and Old Lace into a movie!”

Tagline: She Passed Out On Cary! No Wonder . . . She’s just discovered his favorite aunts have poisoned their 13th gentleman friend!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

As he’s about to leave on his honeymoon, Mortimer Brewster discovers that his dear old Aunts have been poisoning old, lonely men who are without friends or family.  The Aunts have their crazy brother (who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt) bury them in the basement.  “Teddy” thinks that they’re victims of malaria and he’s digging the Suez canal.

To complicate maters, Mortimer’s violent criminal brother, Jonathon,  returns after 20 years away.  Jonathon is more than willing to kill Mortimer, the Aunts or anyone who gets in his way.

Arsenic and Old Lace is one of my all-time favorite comedies.  Yes, the comedy is broad and there are double takes and it is all wonderful.

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Re-Kill (2015)

Re-Kill (2015)

Director: Valeri Milev

Screenplay: Michael Hurst

Stars: Bruce Payne, Daniella Alonso, Roger Cross

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make a zombie movie!”

Tagline: We are the endangered species.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

It’s five years after the zombie apocalypse and life inside gated communities with security goes on.  Watching Re-Kill is like watching a tv station that is all-zombie kills all the time.  Maybe like watching Cops but the criminals are now zombies.  There are commercials and public service ads insterspliced within the “Re-Kill” programming.

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Before killing Bogue, Chisholm reveals that Bogue and his men had raped and killed his mother and sisters years earlier.  They had even hung Chisholm and left him for dead.

While this gives additional justification for Chisholm wanting to take on Bogue and his men, it makes him a little less heroic.  Up to the point of the reveal, it appeared that Chisholm and the others recruited were going against impossible odds because it was the “right” thing to do… not because one of them wanted revenge.

 

 

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The Magnificent Seven (2016)

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Screenplay: Richard Wenk and Nic Pizzolatto based on the original The Magnificent 7 which was based on the movie The Seven Samurai.

Stars: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio,
Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett
and Peter Sarsgaard.

The Pitch: “Hey, Denzel wants to make a western.”

Tagline: Justice has a number.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

When the town folk of Rose Creek reject Bartholomew Bogue’s pittance offering for their land he brings in hired killers to run them off.  The widow (Bennett) of one of the men killed hires Chisholm (Washington) to help the town fight.

Chisholm recruits other gunfighters to the cause.  Chisholm ends up with seven fighting men and a town full of farmers and store owners… but he has a plan.

The Magnificent 7 is well cast and directed but falls short of the original.  There’s a twist at the end that is supposed to be shocking and provide additional reasoning for Chisolm taking the impossible job but I didn’t like it.  I’ll explain after the rating in case you don’t want the secret spoiled.

 

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Before killing Bogue, Chisholm reveals that Bogue and his men had raped and killed his mother and sisters years earlier.  They had even hung Chisholm and left him for dead.

While this gives additional justification for Chisholm wanting to take on Bogue and his men, it makes him a little less heroic.  Up to the point of the reveal, it appeared that Chisholm and the others recruited were going against impossible odds because it was the “right” thing to do… not because one of them wanted revenge.

 

 

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North by Northwest (1959)

North by Northwest (1959)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Screenplay: Ernest Lehman

Stars: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Jessie Royce Landis, Leo G. Carroll, Martin Landau, and Edward Platt


The Pitch: “Hey, Hitchcock wants to make a new movie.”

Tagline: Alfred Hitchcock takes you…. North by Northwest!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Roger Thornhill (Grant) is mistaken as a U.S. spy by foreign agents.  Thornhill is kidnapped and brought to  Philip Vandamm (Mason) for questioning.  Thornhill is totally at a loss since he isn’t a spy.  Thinking that he just won’t speak, Vandamm orders his agents to kill Thornhill.

Thornhill escapes and goes to the authorities who don’t believe his story.  Vandamm is a rich, respected man who is scheduled to speak at the United Nations.  Thornhill goes to the U.N. to speak to Thornhill and ends up framed for his murder.  Now on the run from foreign agents and the police, Thornhill led on a cross-country chase to prove his innocence.

North by Northwest has it all: drama, suspense, humor and romance.  A true classic!

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The Maltese Falcon (1941)

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Director: John Huston

Screenplay: John Huston based on the novel by Dashiell Hammet

Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre, Barton MacLane, Sydney Greenstreet, Ward Bond and Elisha Cook Jr.

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make The Maltese Falcon with Bogart in the lead.”

Tagline: A guy without a conscience! A dame without a heart!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

A woman (Astor) shows up unexpectedly at the office of private detectives Sam Spade (Bogart) and Miles Archer.  She needs help and because she’s a looker, Miles jumps at the chance to take lead on the case.  Within hours Archer is found dead and Spade is drawn into a very different case — involving the acquisition of a priceless statute… The Maltese Falcon.

The woman hopes to get her hands on the Falcon before Kasper Gutman (Greenstreet) and his two gunmen (Lorre and Cook) find it.  To do this she will need Spade’s help.  Spade is up to the challenge but with the cops breathing down his neck for the murder of his partner (who DID kill him?) and more murders to come, Spade may be in over his head.

The Maltese Falcon is a classic.

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Pandemic (2016)

Pandemic (2016)

Director: John Suits

Screenplay: Dustin T. Benson

Stars: Rachel Nichols, Alfie Allen, Missi Pyle and Paul Guilfoyle.

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make a zombie movie that looks like a video game.”

Tagline: You Are Humanity’s Last Stand.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

You know the drill.  A virus has swept the world turning people into crazy fast zombies.  Survivors are either trying to live on the big city streets or worse yet the suburbs.  If you’re lucky you’re safe behind the walls of a military complex where doctors are working on a cure.

Lauren is a doctor who was separated from her family.  Not allowed to attempt to check on them, (the suburbs are way too dangerous), instead she is sent with three others (a driver, a gunner and a scientist) on a rescue mission into the city.

When things go bad, Lauren decides to head to the suburbs to check on her family.

Most Pandemic is shot as a first person shooter game.  And it feels like one at times.  Whether that is a good or bad thing depends on if you prefer watching games or movies.

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No Country for Old Men (2007)

No Country for Old Men (2007)

Director: Ethan Coen and Joel Cohen

Screenplay: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy

Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson Woody Harrelson and Kelly Macdonald.

The Pitch: “Hey, the Cohen Brothers want to make No Country for Old Men.”

Tagline: You can’t stop what’s coming.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

In the badlands of modern day Texas, Llewelyn Moss (Brolin) comes across a massacre – a massive drug deal that went sideways.  Among the dead bodies Moss finds two million dollars in cash.  Moss takes the money and leaves the scene unreported.  When the drug dealers discover the missing money, they send Anton Chigurh, a psycho hitman (Bardeem) to track down the money.  Chigurh kills without remorse and the bodies start piling up as he tracks Moss.

Once Moss realizes that someone is on to him he prepares for the worst having no idea how bad it will get.

No Country for Old Men is a modern day masterpiece.  It is a film that will stick with you.

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Hell or High Water (2016)

Hell or High Water (2016)

Director: David Mackenzie

Screenplay: Taylor Sheridan

Stars: Ben Foster, Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham and Gregory Cruz.

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make a modern day western.”

Tagline: Justice isn’t a crime.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Two brothers, one an ex-con and one recently divorced, have a plan to pay off the family ranch’s reverse mortgage before the foreclosure deadline.  Oil has been discovered on the ranch which will set them up for life, if the payment can be made to the Texas Midland Bank (which has a reputation of keeping people in debt until they can no longer pay and then taking their land).

Their plan involves robbing several Texas Midland Banks.  Nobody is supposed to get hurt or killed.  Of course we all know how such plans work out.  And the brothers didn’t count on Texas Ranger, Marcus Hamilton.

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