John Paxton

John Paxton

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On The Beach Review


Excellent
Never mind the unfortunate title, this ain't Frankie and Annette. On the Beach is a movie that begins with the apocalypse: Nuclear war has wiped out the entire world except for Australia. (They were making movies like this in 1959???) It's here we find a U.S. submarine hanging out amidst Aussies living their lives, pretty much as normal only with less booze. The catch: Everyone knows the end is coming, as nuclear fallout makes its way across the Oceans, due to arrive in a month or two. But what's this Morse code signal coming from San Diego? Could someone be alive and transmitting? The sub's off on a recon mission to the wasteland, and meanwhile the Australians come to grips with certain death in a matter of weeks. While heartbreaking and touching, it's hard to imagine that riots aren't rampant and that martial law isn't required, but hey, it's a movie, and quite a good -- if overlong -- one, at that.

The Wild One Review


Good
When rival motorcycle gangs descend upon a small town, chaos ensues. A great look at how two-wheelers got demonized in the 1950s, featuring what now looks like a cutesy performance by Marlon Brando, before his career went belly up. While it's a reluctant classic and was edgy in its time (and banned for 12 years in Finland), on the whole, The Wild One is now mostly silly.

Murder, My Sweet Review


Good
Dick Powell stars as Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe in this oft-considered-classic film noir, based on Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely. Unfortunately, too many arbitrary plot twists and turns serve merely to complicate matters without much reason. Ultimately the movie doesn't make a lot of sense, nor does it build up much suspense along the way.

Crossfire Review


Good
Wildly overrated, Crossfire was nominated for Best Picture in its day with its presumably scandalous look at a murder carried out because its victim was Jewish and the murderer was a G.I. back from World War II, looking for kicks -- and if it rubs out a Jew, well, all the better.

Religious intolerance wasn't a new idea in the movies of the 1940s, but for some reason Crossfire has been singled out as making something unique out of this tale. I'm baffled as to why: Today the movie seems pat, with a curious setup but a drawn-out hour of investigation that looks like a schoolyard game of C.S.I. by today's standards.

Continue reading: Crossfire Review

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