War Hunt (1962, directed by Denis Sanders)


In the last days of the Korean War, Pvt. Roy Loomis (Robert Redford) is assigned to an infantry unit that’s serving on the front lines.  Loomis is an idealist who believes in always doing the right thing and who believes that he’s truly fighting for the American way of life in Korea.  The company’s commander (Charles Aidman) is more cynical.  As he explains it, the job of the soldiers is not to win the war.  Their job is to stall the advance of the enemy long enough to let the politicians and the diplomats get what they want out of a peace settlement.  The soldiers are merely there to be sacrificed.

Loomis soon finds himself in conflict with Pvt. Endore (John Saxon).  Endore spends his night sneaking around behind enemy lines, killing soldiers, and gathering intelligence.  No one goes with Endore on these missions and Endore makes it clear that he doesn’t want to have anything to do with the other solders in the unit.  Because Endore usually returns with valuable intelligence, he’s allowed to do what he wants but it becomes clear that gathering intelligence is not what motivates Endore.  Endore loves war and killing.  In the United States, he would probably be on death row.  In Korea, at the height of the war, he’s a valuable asset.

Charlie (Tommy Matsuda) is an orphan boy who has been adopted as the company’s mascot.  Both Loomis and Endore have a bond with Charlie.  Loomis wants Charlie to go to an orphanage after the war so that he can hopefully be adopted and maybe brought over the United States.  Endore, however, plans to stay in Korea even after the war ends and he wants to keep Charlie with him.  He wants to turn Charlie into as efficient a killing machine as he is.

This low-budget but effective anti-war film may be best known for featuring Robert Redford in his first starring role but the film is stolen by John Saxon, who is frighteningly intense as Endore.  Endore is so in love with war that he continues to fight it even after the Armistice is declared.  Saxon plays him like a cool and calculating predator, a natural born killer.  He’s an introvert who rarely speaks to the other members of the company.  Even though he helps them by killing the enemy before the enemy can kill them, it’s clear that Endore doesn’t really care about the other members of the unit.  He just cares about killing.  He’s close to Charlie because Charlie is too young to realize just how dangerous Endore actually is.

Along with Saxon and Redford, War Hunt also features early performances from Tom Skerritt, Sydney Pollack, and Francis Ford Coppola.  (Coppola, who goes uncredited, plays an ambulance driver.)  Pollack and Redford met while they were both acting in this film and Pollack would go on to direct Redford in several more films.  One of those films, The Electric Horseman, would reunite Redford and Saxon.  Again, they would play adversaries.

Last night, when I heard John Saxon had died, I tried to pick his best performance.  I know that most people know him from his horror work and his role in Enter the Dragon.  Those are all good performances but, for me, Saxon was at his absolute best in War Hunt.

 

4 Shots From 4 Holiday Classics: The Godfather, Rabid, Lethal Weapon, Eyes Wide Shut


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 lets the visuals do the talking!

Merry Christmas!

‘Tis the season for….

4 Shots From 4 Holiday Classics

The Godfather (1972, dir by Francis Ford Coppola)

Rabid (1977, dir by David Cronenberg)

Lethal Weapon (1987, dir by Richard Donner)

Eyes Wide Shut (1999, dir by Stanley Kubrick)

 

Horror on the Lens: The Terror (dir by Roger Corman)


Have you ever woken up and thought to yourself, “I’d love to see a movie where a youngish Jack Nicholson played a French soldier who, while searching for a mysterious woman, comes across a castle that’s inhabited by both Dick Miller and Boris Karloff?”

Of course you have!  Who hasn’t?

Well, fortunately, it’s YouTube to the rescue.  In Roger Corman’s 1963 film The Terror, Jack Nicholson is the least believable 19th century French soldier ever.  However, it’s still interesting to watch him before he became a cinematic icon.  (Judging from his performance here and in Cry Baby Killer, Jack was not a natural-born actor.)  Boris Karloff is, as usual, great and familiar Corman actor Dick Miller gets a much larger role than usual.  Pay attention to the actress playing the mysterious woman.  That’s Sandra Knight who, at the time of filming, was married to Jack Nicholson.

Reportedly, The Terror was one of those films that Corman made because he still had the sets from his much more acclaimed film version of The Raven.  The script was never finished, the story was made up as filming moved alone, and no less than five directors shot different parts of this 81 minute movie.  Among the directors: Roger Corman, Jack Hill, Monte Hellman, Francis Ford Coppola, and even Jack Nicholson himself!  Perhaps not surprisingly, the final film is a total mess but it does have some historical value.

(In typical Corman fashion, scenes from The Terror were later used in the 1968 film, Targets.)

Check out The Terror below!

4 Shots From 4 Films: Army Darkness, Candyman, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Dust Devil


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 lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 1992 Horror Films

Army of Darkness (1992, dir by Sam Raimi)

Candyman (1992, dir by Bernard Rose)

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992, dir by Francis Ford Coppola)

Dust Devil (1992, dir by Richard Stanley)

Horror on the Lens: Dementia 13 (dir by Francis Ford Coppola)


(I originally shared this film back in 2011 — can you believe we’ve been doing this for that long? — but the YouTube vid was taken down.  So, I’m resharing it today!)

For today’s excursion into the world of public domain horror, I offer up the film debut of Francis Ford Coppola.  Before Coppola directed the Godfathers and Apocalypse Now, he directed a low-budget, black-and-white thriller that was called Dementia 13.  (Though, in a sign of things to come, producer Roger Corman and Coppola ended up disagreeing on the film’s final cut and Corman reportedly brought in director Jack Hill to film and, in some cases, re-film additional scenes.)

Regardless of whether the credit should go to Coppola, Corman, or Hill, Dementia 13 is a brutally effective little film that is full of moody photography and which clearly served as an influence on the slasher films that would follow it in the future.  Speaking of influence,Dementia 13 itself is obviously influenced by the Italian giallo films that, in 1963, were just now starting to make their way into the drive-ins and grindhouses of America.

In the cast, keep an eye out for Patrick Magee, who later appeared as Mr. Alexander in A Clockwork Orange as well as giving a memorable performance in Lucio Fulci’s The Black Cat.  Luana Anders, who plays the duplicitous wife in this film, showed up in just about every other exploitation film made in the 60s and yes, the scene where she’s swimming freaks me out to no end.

(One final note: I just love the title Dementia 13.  Seriously, is that a great one or what?)

4 Shots From 4 James Caan Films: Lady in a Cage, The Godfather, Misery, Bottle Rocket


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 lets the visuals do the talking.

Happy birthday to one of the great American actors, James Caan!

In honor of this day, here are….

4 Shots From 4 James Caan Films

Lady in a Cage (1964, dir by Walter Grauman)

The Godather (1972, dir by Francis Ford Coppola)

Misery (1990, dir by Rob Reiner)

Bottle Rocket (1996, dir by Wes Anderson)

4 Shots From 4 Films: The 4 best Best Picture Winners


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 lets the visuals do the talking.

Today is Oscar Sunday!  Tonight, a new film will join the exclusive list of the 90 previous best picture winners!

Sometimes, we spend so much time focusing on the winners that shouldn’t have won that we forget that some truly great films have managed to take the top prize.  So, with this edition of 4 Shots From 4 Films, I’m highlighting for the four best Best Picture winners!

4 Shots From 4 Films

All About Eve (1950, dir by Joseph L. Mankiewicz)

The Godfather Saga (1972 and 1974, dir by Francis Ford Coppola)

It Happened One Night (1934, dir by Frank Capra)

West Side Story (1961, dir by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins)

4 Shots From 4 Christmas Films: The Godfather, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, Die Hard 2


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 lets the visuals do the talking.

Merry Christmas!

Let’s get today started with….

4 Shots From 4 Christmas Films

The Godfather (1972, dir by Francis Ford Coppola)

Lethal Weapon (1987, dir by Richard Donner)

Die Hard (1988, dir by John McTiernan)

Die Hard 2 (1990, dir by Renny Harlin)

4 Shots From 4 Films: A Streetcar Named Desire, Reflections in a Golden Eye, The Godfather, Last Tango in Paris


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 lets the visuals do the talking!

In honor of Marlon Brando’s birthday, here’s…

4 Shots From 4 Films

A Streetcar Named Desire (1952, dir by Elia Kazan)

Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967, dir by John Huston)

The Godfather (1972, dir by Francis Ford Coppola)

Last Tango in Paris (1973, dir by Bernardo Bertolucci)

Playing Catch-Up With The Films of 2017: Paris Can Wait (dir by Eleanor Coppola)


Anne (Diane Lane) is the wife of Michael (Alec Baldwin).  Michael is an internationally renowned film producer.  As is established early on, their marriage is not perfect.  Michael is consumed with work and, at one point, Anne spots him deep in conversation with a young actress.  Anne’s reaction tells us all we need to know about Michael’s history as a husband.  While Michael obsesses on making the latest deal, Anne takes pictures of inanimate objects.  None of the pictures are particularly good but everyone in the movie raves about them.  I imagine that has something to do with the fact that Anne is based on Eleanor Coppola, who wrote and directed Paris Can Wait.

When the film opens, Anne and Michael are at Cannes.  Michael has spent the entire festival making deals but he’s promised Anne a Paris vacation afterward.  However, the day that they’re vacation is supposed to begin, Michael gets a call!  He’s needed in Budapest!  And Anne can’t fly because she has an ear infection…

No worries!  Their friend Jacques (Arnaud Viard) is willing to drive Anne to Paris and keep her company while she waits for Michael to return.  And so, while Michael flies off to Budapest, Anne and Jacques head off for Paris.  However, Anne soon finds herself questioning Jacques’s intentions.  Is he being flirtatious or is he just French?  When he stops off at every restaurant along the way and uses Anne’s credit card to pay the exorbitant bills, is he taking advantage of her or is he just being French?  When Anne isn’t doubting Jacques’s intentions, she’s questioning her marriage.  Is Michael really in Budapest to work on a movie or is he having an affair?

One of the good things about being rich is that you occasionally get to make a movie about how difficult it is to be rich.  That certainly seems to be the case with Paris Can Wait, which was written and directed by Eleanor Coppola, the wife of Francis Ford Coppola and the mother of Sofia and Roman Coppola.  Paris Can Wait is said to be autobiographical, which would seem to suggest that Eleanor and Francis aren’t particularly interesting human beings.

There are some positive elements to the film, of course. Diane Lane gives about as good a performance as one can when you’re playing an idealized version of a film’s director.  Also, Alec Baldwin manages to make it through the entire movie without bellowing.  In fact, Baldwin’s barely in the movie and that’s not a bad thing.  The French countryside looks beautiful but, quite frankly, it’s impossible for the French countryside not to look beautiful.  On the negative side, it just doesn’t add up to much.  You never really care whether or not Michael and Anne stay together.  You’re just thankful that you’ll never get stuck beside them on an airplane.

I think the main problem is that, as a director, Eleanor Coppola doesn’t really seem to know what she’s trying to say with her film.  For instance, I could imagine Sofia Coppola taking the exact same material and creating a movie that would be achingly poignant and full of ennui.  But, with Eleanor, it’s just another travelogue to nowhere.