Film Review: Crooks and Coronets (1969, directed by Jim O’Connolly)


Crooks and CoronetsAfter taking off the month of October, I am now back on my Warren Oates kick.  The latest Oates film that I watched was Crooks and Coronets, a heist comedy that stars Oates and Telly Savalas as two career criminals plotting a robbery in England.

Crooks and Coronets starts with Herbie Haseler (Telly Savalas) getting released from prison.  Waiting for him is his partner-in-crime, Marty Miller (Warren Oates).  Because Herbie wants to go straight and doesn’t want to do any more time, he is not happy to learn that Marty stole a car just so he could pick Herbie up from prison.  Leaving the car behind, Herbie and Marty walk to a meeting with their old boss, New York gangster Nick Marco (Cesar Romero).  Nick reminds Herbie and Marty that they owe him money and tells them that they can not go straight until they pay him back.  Nick sends them to England to rob the estate of Lady Sophie Fitzmore (Edith Evans).

Crooks Coronets 03After arriving in the UK and meeting with Nick’s English counterpart, Frank Finley (Harry H. Corbett), Herbie and Marty infiltrate the Fitzmore estate.  Marty pretends to be a security expect while Herbie says that he is a librarian who is interested in cataloguing the Fitzmore library.  However, once they meet the kindly and eccentric Lady Sophie, neither one of them can bring themselves to rob her.  Instead, Marty helps Sophie fly an old World War I airplane while Herbie turns Fitzmore mansion into a tourist attraction.  When Nick and Frank show up and demand to know what the hold up is, Herbie and Marty have to find a way to stop the robbery.

Crooks and Coronets is never exactly memorable but it is amusing throughout.  The main reason to watch it is for the performances of Edith Evans, Telly Savalas and Warren Oates.  Though this is not one of Warren’s better-known films, it was a personally significant one for him.  It was while filming Crooks and Coronets that Oates met British actress Vickery Turner.  Turner played the role of Annie, a tour guide who helps to protect the mansion from Nick and Harry.  She did not have a big role but she did look great in a miniskirt.  She and Warren Oates were married in 1969 and, after they were divorced in 1974, she went on to have a very successful career as a novelist.

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Hallmark Review: Christmas Magic (2011, dir. John Bradshaw)


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I wanted to like this movie. I kind of do, but it’s really bogged down with problems. Let’s talk about it.

That woman is Carrie Blackford played by Lindy Booth and if there’s one thing I can’t complain about in this movie, it’s her looks. She’s quite an attractive woman in this movie. In fact, the whole movie is rather attractive. By and large, it looks good from the actors to the sets. It just has a litany of other problems.

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Carrie is at a gas station where she meets the attendant named Henry (Derek McGrath). Henry is a nice guy. She of course gives the Hallmark standard speech about how she doesn’t like Christmas. Henry is nice and just tells her that she should be careful on the dangerous roads and should stay off her cellphone while driving. This is where the movie goofs a little. The whole movie is supposed to take place in New York City, but they make the mistake of showing her cellphone screen.

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Rogers is a Canadian cellphone company. It’s a really stupid little mistake that could have been solved so easily. Make the call to the phone. Take a screenshot of it coming in as it is shown above. Edit the image so that the provider is missing. Then for the shot in the movie, have her look down at the screenshot on her phone. Problem solved.

Well, since she obviously did use her cellphone against Henry’s advice, she gets into a car accident. This is where I have to give the movie major credit. I have had issues with my cable signal tiling over the years, but I never thought of actually sticking it in the movie as sort of a replacement for tilting the camera to tell us something is off.

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Actually, it was just a weird quirk that occurred at the beginning of this movie. When I watch these I have it playing on the TV for my Dad to watch while I stream it to my iPad where I can take screenshots, and I keep the two in sync. For some reason it decided to tile like crazy only on my iPad mostly at this exact moment in the movie. Odd. Anyways, just before she dies she was having a little argument with a business rival named Lynette (Tricia Braun).

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Course Henry turns out to be an angel and now she is too. He even has an assignment all ready for her. She is to go help this guy whose restaurant is having trouble. Given that she was an event planner in real life, it makes sense that she would have some experience that could prove useful. Of course there’s a few conditions. The only one that really is important is that she can’t have contact with anyone from when she was alive. Keep that in mind because that’s where one of the problems with the film is.

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She is assigned to Scott Walker played by Paul McGillion of Stargate: Atlantis fame. And this is where the film shows that yes, she’s beautiful and so are the sets even if they don’t really make sense.

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Somebody is a fan of Ali: Fear Eats The Soul (1974), and that person is me, because this restaurant made me think of the bar from that movie.

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By the way, if you haven’t seen Ali: Fear Eats The Soul, then stop reading this review right now and go watch it. It’s one of my all time favorite movies and I almost came to tears just capturing those two screenshots.

Back to this movie. You see the size of the restaurant. Realistically this set can’t hold more than a couple of customers. Also, he says the regulars keep him afloat, but you will only see a couple of people actually eat at his place. Luckily, they kind of work around it. It still is a sign that this was done on the cheap.

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Of course he has a daughter from a previous marriage, and that wife is dead. I was quite surprised that the daughter wasn’t played by Sierra McCormick. This actress certainly made me think of her, appearance wise. Scott agrees to let her help promote his business and help with his kid in the process. Where does she go since she can’t go home. It never says. She just leaves and sometimes goes to talk with Henry. Although, she does spot her father on the street and hides. I’ll come back to him at the end of this movie.

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Oh, and the daughter some how knows she is a real angel. It happens really fast as if she has been around for a long time, but they just met. Also, they never explain this. All they had to do was throw in a couple of lines where Carrie asks Henry how she knows and Henry responds that it has something to do with the innocence of children. Hey, it worked to explain how children could see Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap no matter whose aura surrounded him, so why not here?

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Well, the reason his restaurant isn’t doing well is because his food isn’t very good. Apparently, he took over from someone else and promised the regulars he wouldn’t change the menu. Doesn’t mean he’s a bad cook, but he’s afraid to try something new since the regulars are the few customers that keep him in business and they are adamant about sticking with what they like.

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Luckily, there’s a local guy who looks crazy in that screenshot giving an art exhibit. Carrie goes to see him. This scene seems to come out of nowhere and goes on for quite a while before it ties itself back into the actual plot of the film. She convinces him that, among other things, he needs a caterer.

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The event goes well and that’s Lynette from the beginning of the movie. Now I know what you’re thinking. This means that Carrie now has competition for the heart of Scott and someone she’s not allowed to come in contact with. So of course Henry comes to have a conversation with her about it.

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Well, you’d think Henry has come to have a conversation with her about not coming into contact with Lynette, but he hasn’t. It doesn’t make any sense, but he’s there to remind her that she can’t come in contact with her father. A guy who has barely been in the movie and will hardly be in the movie at all. This conversation just comes out of nowhere. But then just to confuse matters more, it’s immediately followed by a scene where Lynette shows up at the restaurant forcing Carrie to duck out. After Carrie and Henry have a little heart to heart, this happens.

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This is Scott singing and playing a piano. He is badly dubbed here and it comes around to bite this film in the butt at the end. I don’t know why they had to dub him. Even if he has a terrible voice I can fix that without dubbing him. During this scene Carrie comes up behind him and they talk a little about him giving up playing. All they had to do was have her say he sounded great to her. He says he knows he sounds bad, but that his wife would always say what she said, and he can tell she means it just like his wife did. Then he doesn’t have to be dubbed for the final scene of this movie because it’s not whether he sounds good to the viewer, but that it establishes a connection he had with his wife, and now has with Carrie. The movie winds down pretty quick now. It turns out Carrie isn’t dead, but in a coma. She has a chance to come back and Scott goes to her side.

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He goes to her side, sings badly dubbed, she wakes up, and that’s the end. However, this is when the father shows back up. He barely is onscreen for a couple of minutes and only has a couple of lines, but he delivers a more genuine performance without saying a word then I see in most of these Hallmark movies. I didn’t think this guy was in the credits, but for some reason he is credited as a character named Jefferson. I don’t remember him having a name in the movie. The actor’s name is Don Allison. He appears to be some sort of character actor. He nearly saves this ending scene that is largely ruined by the totally unnecessary and bad dubbing.

I really can’t recommend this movie for the reasons I mentioned, and others I didn’t. I really wanted to like this, but it’s bogged down by so many problems. Won’t kill ya, but I don’t recommend it.

Japanese Trailer of Star Wars: The Force Awakens Even Better


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Just a couple weeks ago saw the release of the first and last official trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was teasers before that one. The official trailer was suppose to keep the Star Wars fandom sated until December 18 (or earlier for those willing to brave the early advance screenings before midnight). It pushed all the right buttons to keep the fandom happy and wanting more.

Out of the blue, this morning saw Disney release without any fanfare a new trailer but one cut and edited for the Japanese market. It’s a trailer that includes scenes and images already seen in the previous official trailer and two earlier teasers, but also happened to include newer scenes (that still doesn’t spoil what the film will be all about) involving BB-8, Kylo Ren and more Princess Leia and Chewie.

So, it would seem that when Disney said that the trailer released a couple weeks ago would be the one and only trailer for the film it would seem they meant it would be the only domestic trailer. Sneaky, sneaky there Disney.

Plus, I rather prefer the Japanese trailer. Once again proves the Japanese gets the cool things.

Warcraft Official Trailer (For The Film…Not The Game…I Know, Right!)


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Warcraft was a game on the PC that I played for hours on end. It was the closest thing gamers had to a video game version of the Warhammer Fantasy property. the title had two popular sequels and gave birth to the biggest, most popular and most addictive MMORPG in history. I mean, World of Warcraft, led to couples getting divorces, players getting into real fights outside the game and even getting together in holy matrimony for reals.

So, Hollywood seeing a cash cow when it sees one had been trying to get a live-action film based on the Warcraft property for years. So many different directors had been attached to make it (from Uwe Boll right up to Sam Raimi) but in the end Duncan Jones got the job to bring Azeroth (and Draenor) to life on the big-screen.

With the film still months away, Universal and Legendary Pictures look to start the hype train going by releasing the first official trailer for Warcraft with much fanfare.

London Has Fallen Official Trailer


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The White House under siege film Olympus Has Fallen from 2013 was a surprise hit and pretty much took the prize in the match-up between it and the bigger-budgeted White House Down starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. What the latter didn’t have was the presence of Morgan Freeman, the steadfastness of Aaron Eckhart and the utter badass that is Gerard Butler. Olympus Has Fallen had all three and thus was the better of the two films.

It didn’t take long for the studio who made Olympus Has Fallen to start on a sequel with the three core figures from the first film (Freeman, Eckhart and Butler) back to fight the evil of terrorism on all freedom-loving citizens. I think the studios just thought the audience who saw the first film loved just how much Gerard Butler’s character kept stabbing people in the face.

Here’s to hoping London Has Fallen didn’t try to fix what wasn’t broken…and more Gerard Butler stabbing people in the face.

Because anything this divisive gets my attention. So, I also watched The Leisure Class…


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First off, I have never watched that TV Show, and based off of Lisa’s description in her review of this film, I’m glad I don’t. It sounds like a seasons worth of footage of that dog from Godard’s Goodbye To Language (2014) pooping. In other words, I had no vested interest in this movie developed by watching the show. I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

The movie opens with that title card which would make you think you’re about to watch something like Last Year At Marienbad (1961). Then we cut to a party and meet some of our characters.

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That’s William (Ed Weeks) and Fiona (Bridget Regan). One thing that stuck with me from Lisa’s review about the production of this is that it was shot on film, and it shows. I don’t know if it comes through in that screen shot, but it feels like it’s trying to remind me of Merchant Ivory Productions from the 70s and 80s.

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That’s Edward (Bruce Davison) and Charlotte (Brenda Strong). This is a party the family is having to celebrate the wedding of William and Fiona that is going to take place the next day. William is marrying into this wealthy political family.

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This is Carolyn (Melanie Zanetti) who is Fiona’s sister. She’s the short horny sister whose character is abandoned rather quickly and seems to exist only to give the next character who shows up a foothold in this whole setup.

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Then this guy shows up at the party. He is William’s brother and is about to throw a wrench into William’s plan to marry into this family. William is actually a conman. A lousy conman cause this movie already starts telegraphing the ending of the film to you at this point. Now the brother does have a name in the movie, but let’s call him what he is. He’s Withnail (Tom Bell), minus any lines people will be quoting decades from now. William tells Withnail to leave the party, but of course he doesn’t even for money. He latches on to Carolyn and generally begins acting like a jackass.

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Since night is upon them, they move inside. Then what I can only assume is the boom mic pops in from the upper left hand corner.

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But enough of that little technical goof because we need more characters. We have the parents who seem to be basically oblivious at this point. Fiona is basically the same way at this point. Carolyn wants With to Nail her. And of course there’s our conman William. Naturally that’s why the movie needs a detective character. That comes in the form of another sister named Allison (Scottie Thompson). She tends to stay away from the family and is a lawyer.

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And you can tell she doesn’t like him because of that I just met you, but I already know your kind very well look on her face.

Well, after William tries to get some.

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And so does take me now Carolyn.

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Withnail decides to round up some booze and people to go off to a party!

IMG_4247Now take a good look at Fiona’s hair here. I’ll bring that up later. Now a couple of them, including Fiona jump in a pool.

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Oh, did I say a pool. I meant a plot device to clearly establish that Carolyn is drunk, Fiona is her own woman, and William is in over his head. Well, seeing as Carolyn is drunk and something needs to bring things to a head, we get a car accident.

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You see the look on Fiona’s face. That’s the look of the audience when they realize this scene only works if William has never seen a movie where rich people get away with things like car accidents they are at fault for. I hate when movies depend on their characters existing in a world where movies don’t exist that have covered situations they’re in. But again, they are trying to foreshadow the ending of this movie some more here.

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This is when you need to take another look at Fiona’s hair. I have taken physics before so I’m aware of how hair works when it comes to hydrogen and disulfide bonds, but something tells me being in a pool for all of a couple of minutes doesn’t transform hair from looking perfectly straight to looking like you just had it curled at a salon. I’ll have to ask the lady who does my hair, but this struck me as a continuity error. A minor error like the boom mic, but my only guess is that it was left in to make her character appear more vulnerable and less hoity toity so that we would see her come full circle back to the way she was at the beginning, but worse.

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Anyways, this is when Edward decides to give William a good talking to. So he pulls out a report that apparently shows all sorts of inconsistencies in William’s story. Hmmm…and why he didn’t pull this report out I don’t know… prior to the night before the wedding? The movie never really says. The best explanation we are given is in a scene coming up when Edward makes it clear that he wanted a son to carry on his name, but he only seems to produce girls. Perhaps we are expected to believe that Edward was willing to turn a blind eye to this report that he clearly had before because it meant he would have a son-in-law. Fiona also gets a talking to about how the wedding could affect his and her political careers. But who cares about that because we need another character…apparently…for reasons?

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This is Carla the prostitute played by Christine Lakin. I actually know who she is since she played Jackie on Melissa & Joey. The girl who wanted Joey’s sperm to impregnate her one way or another. Here she plays a pointless character thrown in so that Withnail won’t leave the movie alone. At least I hope that’s the reason because otherwise she’s just a character who brings Fifty Shades Of Grey (2015) into this movie by bringing up nipple clamps. I know what you are thinking. This movie needs a scene that looks like it belongs in a Tarantino movie or something like Funny Games. And it comes next.

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This is when Edward just flips out on the boys and his family. He pulls out a gun, he strips and whips Withnail, and probably give the best performance in this whole movie. Even if it is a bit much.

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Cut to the next morning and Edward with two penises drawn on his face makes his daughter and Withnail offers they can’t refuse. Much to the dismay of William who at this point probably figured he and Fiona would be riding off into the sunset having told her the truth about himself and that he truly does love her. At least Carla leaves the bride with a wedding present.

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Then a little wedding stuff before the movie ends on this shot.

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And that’s The Leisure Class. Why did this movie stir up so much crap over Lisa’s review? It’s a movie with it’s fair share of problems, but those are a dime a dozen. Director Jason Mann tried something probably a little too ambitious for the conditions he was working under, and it never really came together. It happens. It’s his first film. What were people hoping for here? I don’t know. I just know what the finished product is. A forgettable movie that amounts to Withnail Crashes A Wedding.

As for some of the nasty comments that came Lisa’s way. I don’t mind the down votes. That’s what they’re for, but if you only want to hear what you have to think about something then don’t read other people’s reviews of things. You don’t need anyone else’s validation to have an opinion about something.

Well, I’m moving on with my life now.

4 Shots from 4 Films: RIP George Barris


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films.  As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking. George Barris (11/20/25-11/5/15) was Hollywood’s  car customizer to the stars. Barris is probably best known for designing the Batmobile for the 60’s TV series, but his work showed up in many movies. Here’s a look:

High School Confidential! (1958, director Jack Arnold)

High School Confidential! (1958, director Jack Arnold)

Batman (1966 director Leslie H. Martinson)

Batman (1966, director Leslie H. Martinson)

Munster, Go Home (1966 director Earl Bellamy)

Munster, Go Home (1966, director Earl Bellamy)

The Car (1977, director Elliot Silverstein)

The Car (1977, director Elliot Silverstein)