Dean Jagger

Dean Jagger

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Travellers Review


OK
There's style and intensity in this nasty little British thriller, but a thinly developed script keeps it from generating much real suspense or meaning as the story gets increasingly brutal.

On a motorbike adventure, four city guys camp overnight in a field outside a small town, where they find a caravan seemingly abandoned when Irish travellers were chased away. But it's not empty. And a group of armed men turn up, chasing three of them (Sweeney, Geoffrey and Richards) into the woods while the fourth (Edwards) is tied up in the caravan with brother and sister travellers (Jagger and Muir). One by one, they capture or kill each other. This escalates into a series of increasingly grisly encounters, including a sadistic bare-knuckle boxing match.

Continue reading: Travellers Review

Forty Guns Review


Very Good
A Western that's thoroughly urban in its outlook, Sam Fuller's Forty Guns was made at the height of his most fertile filmmaking period in the 1950s - he released China Gate and Run of the Arrow the same year - and represents a studio director working at the peak of his form: fast, vicious, and cutting all necessary corners. The forty guns of the title are the passel of mercenaries backing up Jessica Drummond (Barbara Stanwyck), a rancher who's the unofficial boss of a whole Arizona county and packs more of a wallop on her own than all her hired guns. At this stage, a few years past her bombshell prime, Stanwyck still cuts a mean, black-clad figure whipping her white horse into the horizon. (No stunt rider for this actress.)

Justice arrives in the laconic form of Griff Bonnell (Barry Sullivan), the federal marshal who comes to town with his two brothers, Wes (Gene Barry, grizzled) and Chico (Robert Dix, resembling a young Robert Vaughn), ready to clean things up. This interferes with the desire of Jessica's wastrel brother Brockie (John Ericson) to do things like get drunk and terrorize the town with the forty guns, and so the big showdown is set up. Jessica gets stuck right in the middle, torn between wanting to protect little Brockie and falling in love with Griff, a legendary gunslinger who's just about as granite-hewn as she is; an impressive feat.

Continue reading: Forty Guns Review

Billy Rose's Jumbo Review


Good
As circus movies go, Billy Rose's Jumbo isn't a bad one. It is, however, exceptionally long for a circus movie, and even scene-stealing Jimmy Durante can't make the film a true classic.

The film is a classic behind-the-scenes affair, with the inner workings of the struggling circus. The management (including Doris Day and Durante) isn't doing so hot, and a big shot businessman wants to buy the outfit. Of course, they resist, and meantime a mysterious tightrope walker arrives on the scene. How will this all play out? Well, there will be love, tears, and lots of singing. And an elephant.

Continue reading: Billy Rose's Jumbo Review

Elmer Gantry Review


Excellent
Burt Lancaster shines as the titular Elmer Gantry, a revival preacher with a questionable past and uncertain motives, in the epic film that won Oscars for Lancaster, Shirley Jones (as a hooker from Gantry's past), and the script by Richard Brooks. Written with an assured bite, Gantry skewers "that old-time religion" with a dramatic wit rarely seen in this era. Never corny (though its modern-day analogues most surely are), the film was a huge success in its day, and is all but forgotten now. Highly recommended for fans of Lancaster or Jean Simmons, who plays the earnest young preacher who gets caught up in Gantry's web.

Twelve O'Clock High Review


Excellent
Gregory Peck is searing in this WWII drama, shot shortly after the end of the war. Peck's General Savage whips a broke-down division into shape, but his story takes too long to get going and retreads itself once too often, to be honest. Still, some stellar performances make this a minor war classic.

Vanishing Point Review


Good
A cult classic, Vanishing Point is a pre-Smokey and the Bandit road trip film with Barry Newman's benny-fueled driver attempting to get from Denver to San Francisco in one night. Considerably stilted and random, the movie is still gritty and mannish, though the jumble of side stories like an encounter with a travelling snake handler make the movie feel padded. Fun, though that "surprise ending" isn't exactly a shock or very satisfying.
Dean Jagger

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Dean Jagger Movies

Travellers Movie Review

Travellers Movie Review

There's style and intensity in this nasty little British thriller, but a thinly developed script...

Forty Guns Movie Review

Forty Guns Movie Review

A Western that's thoroughly urban in its outlook, Sam Fuller's Forty Guns was made at...

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