Hazel Motes, played by Brad Dourif in a brilliant, physical performance, is a character John Huston would have had to create if O'Conner hadn't already written him. Aggressive and hissing like an angry cobra, Motes slithers his way into town from a stint in the army and begins yelling about a "Church Without Christ" that he will begin. He finds a believer in the young, brainless Enoch Emory (Dan Shor) who tells Hazel about the "wise blood" in his veins that tells him things no one else can hear.
Continue reading: Wise Blood Review
Huston's most interesting decision was to riff off the title and shoot the entire picture in a golden sepia tone with only occasional splashes of color. The print was pulled from theaters when people didn't get it, but on DVD you can see it the way Huston intended, and it's unlike anything you've seen before.
Continue reading: Reflections in a Golden Eye Review
Smarts is ultimately what separates Bogart's Sam Spade as clearly from the rest of the characters in Maltese Falcon just as it separates the film itself from most of its inferior imitators. Spade is the eagle-eyed watcher, a calloused and borderline morally indifferent student of humanity who seems to get his kicks tossing verbal banana peels out for the more dim-witted to trip themselves up on. He has plenty of opportunity for such sparrings, dropped as he is into a mess of scam-artists and treasure hunters violently turning San Francisco upside down as they hunt for a long-lost jewel-studded falcon supposedly once given by the crusading Knights Hospitaller to the Holy Roman Emperor in exchange for the island of Malta. The world around Spade -- a sort of aloof knight errant in fedora and sharp suit -- is one of manipulation and lies, stupidity, and the occasional cleverness dulled by unlimited greed.
Continue reading: The Maltese Falcon Review
The animation is typical of the early 1980s, round faces and bulbous noses, wide expressions, and oversized eyes. And lots of singing: "Where there's a whip, there's a way" is a guilty pleasure classic.
Continue reading: The Return of the King (1980) Review
Regardless of whether the upcoming Lord of the Rings turns out to be a cinematic milestone, the point is that there are probably some books, whether unfilmable or not, which should remain un-filmed. Even the inoffensive animated version of The Hobbit by Rankin/Bass, which was a lot easier to produce than the forthcoming live-action trilogy will be, illustrates why adapting popular books to movies is rarely successful. The storyline of The Hobbit (Bilbo Baggins goes on trip, finds ring, kills dragons, etc.) is not so powerful that it demands to be retold. And in spite of a good cast of voices and decent animation, the animated film adds nothing to the book. This is usually the case, because the best qualities of books are not the best qualities of movies.
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The film is based on Gore Vidal's bestselling 1968 novel, which gave us Myra as a magnificently over-the-top symbol of changing sexual mores, greed, revenge, Hollywood, and how they all intersect. In the hands of director Michael Sarne, the story became a messy sex farce; Vidal stepped away from the project, and for good reason. In the book, Myra romanticizes the great movies of the 1930s, arguing, in fact, that it was the best decade ever for movies. This inspires Sarne to raid the 20th Century Fox vault and cram in seemingly dozens of clips from Laurel & Hardy and Shirley Temple films, sometimes ironically, but mostly sitting there like a bad joke told at a dinner party. (It may be that Myra's sole usefulness is that it inspired a similar idea in the HBO TV series Dream On, actually done well.)
Continue reading: Myra Breckinridge Review
Essentially a revision of a dozen or so Bogie movies, all mashed together, Beat the Devil follows a group of miscreant adventurers on a quest to secure a parcel of land in Africa which is rich in uranium. Naturally, events and foes conspire against them, culminating in their arrest.
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Jungle is one of Hayden's finest hours, earnest and searing as he finds himself wrapped up in the perfect crime -- a jewel heist which is (unfortunately) a rather simple safecracking affair. This time out, Hayden's desperate gambling addict looks about ready to do anything in order to get back to the pastoral farm where he grew up -- and we believe it.
Continue reading: The Asphalt Jungle Review
Ain't homework painful?
Continue reading: Chinatown Review