Gordon Carroll

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Cool Hand Luke Review


Excellent
A half-dozen months after its 40th anniversary and just over a year after it's star's for-real-this-time retirement from acting, Stuart Rosenberg's Cool Hand Luke still stands as the quintessential cool movie, despite its reality. That is to say: The lines and the character have survived the film's oft-forgotten actual message.

I surmise that summary is an act of redundancy but let's do it one more time for the cheap seats. The man is introduced as Lucas Jackson (Paul Newman), a Vietnam vet who takes to cutting heads off parking meters while on a bender. Sent to a hotter-than-a-smokehouse prison camp in the south (it was mainly shot near and around San Joaquin and Stockton, California), Lucas has the smirk of a troublemaker but doesn't show his hand til a solid 30 minutes in. It's a boxing match between Luke and alpha-con Dragline (the great George Kennedy) that queues up the prisoners, the guards, and the Captain (Strother Martin, pure menace), proving that Luke may be the true pied piper of the prison camp. Even with his drunken mother, a role originally offered to Bette Davis that eventually went to Jo Van Fleet, the con's cocky grin cannot be dissuaded.

Continue reading: Cool Hand Luke Review

Cool Hand Luke Review


Excellent
A half-dozen months after its 40th anniversary and just over a year after it's star's for-real-this-time retirement from acting, Stuart Rosenberg's Cool Hand Luke still stands as the quintessential cool movie, despite its reality. That is to say: The lines and the character have survived the film's oft-forgotten actual message.

I surmise that summary is an act of redundancy but let's do it one more time for the cheap seats. The man is introduced as Lucas Jackson (Paul Newman), a Vietnam vet who takes to cutting heads off parking meters while on a bender. Sent to a hotter-than-a-smokehouse prison camp in the south (it was mainly shot near and around San Joaquin and Stockton, California), Lucas has the smirk of a troublemaker but doesn't show his hand til a solid 30 minutes in. It's a boxing match between Luke and alpha-con Dragline (the great George Kennedy) that queues up the prisoners, the guards, and the Captain (Strother Martin, pure menace), proving that Luke may be the true pied piper of the prison camp. Even with his drunken mother, a role originally offered to Bette Davis that eventually went to Jo Van Fleet, the con's cocky grin cannot be dissuaded.

Continue reading: Cool Hand Luke Review

Blue Thunder Review


Good
When John Badham's Blue Thunder came out I was just a kid, but the film made quite an impression on me. I didn't actually see it. And I suspect that most of the kids who told me long rambling stories about it didn't either. It was one of those school yard legends, like the one about the woman in the apartment across from the middle school who gets undressed in her window for all the world to see, or the one about the kid who was skateboarding a swimming pool and found a machine gun in the deep end. Blue Thunder was just the sweetest thing we could imagine. I mean, it was a helicopter that flew silently (so the story went) and it was all high tech and it could kill a million people in a few seconds. This was the Cold War and something like Blue Thunder just seemed too incredible. This was Ronald Reagan's secret weapon against the commies.

Of course, like all schoolyard tales it was too good to be true. "Blue Thunder" wasn't a top clandestine Commie-busting nuke firing super secret weapon; it was a cool looking helicopter that the cops used to control rioters. When I actually saw the movie a few years later, I was bummed to say the least.

Continue reading: Blue Thunder Review

Alien 3 Review


OK
Since Alien and its sequel Aliens received universal praise, Fox just had to make a trilogy (which later became a quadrilogy). Trilogies (and especially quadrilogies) can pose some risk since a premise can lose its edge and outlast its welcome. Ironically, Alien 3 doesn't suffer from the trilogy syndrome as much as it suffers simply from bad writing.

Alien 3 continues with the series tradition, beginning exactly where Aliens concluded. When we left Lt. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), the android Bishop (Lance Henriksen), Cpt. Hicks (Michael Biehn), and Ripley's surrogate daughter Newt (Danielle Edmond), they managed to destroy the creature, board a spacecraft, set course for Earth, and fall into deep sleep. Unfortunately, another alien has found its way onboard with them.

Continue reading: Alien 3 Review

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid Review


Terrible
Sam Peckinpah's virtually unseen Western turns out to be unseen for a reason. Interminably boring and filled with red paint-for-blood splattering, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid ought to turn you off, but if that doesn't do the job, I've got one phrase that will: "Also starring Bob Dylan." Nuff said, I hope.

Alien Review


Excellent
The good news: Sigourney Weaver's famous underwear shot, which probably launched millions of now middle-aged men straight into puberty and beyond, has survived Ridley Scott's keen eye in his digitally remastered 2003 director's cut of Alien.

As for the bad news, well, there really isn't any. Alien, first released in 1979 and in theaters right now, has stood the test of time remarkably well. The beautiful and ballsy Weaver is a heroine for all seasons, the movie is suspenseful in all the right spots and it plays beautifully on the big screen with big sound.

Continue reading: Alien Review

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