January 21, 2013
Jack the Giant Killer
In this version of Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack rescues the beautiful princess from the giant as well as an array of witches, dragons and sea monsters-- each the magical creation of the evil Pendragon.
The stop-motion effects and the other filmic special effects make this a marvel and a joy to watch. It is quite intense and may not be suitable for viewers under ten or so. With two headed giants, a lizard octopus and my favorite some sort of burning, flying demon it is a joy. The story is a little campy but the special effects cannot be beat for 1962. Jim Danforth did the effects and they look like something by Ray Harryhausen. Jim Danforth, who after watching this, stands alongside of Harryhausen in stop-motion animation. ~Mike
Askwtih Media Library 59013-D 94 minutes 1962
October 24, 2012
Dog day afternoon
The story of a botched bank robbery that occurred August 22, 1972 in Brooklyn, New York and turned into a bizarre hostage situation lasting all day.
This is a fine representation of the early 1970's in the United States; confusion, violence and a little bit of anarchy. This film covers some hot topic social issues of the time. Al Pacino plays Sunny, a man who through the frustration of those around him, hopes to solve their problems with a poorly planned bank robbery. The robbery quickly spirals out of control leaving Sunny (John Cazale) and his partner Sal in too deep. While the media and the public develop a love/hate relationship with Sunny the police and FBI make their plans to end the situation. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 44205-D (DVD) and 58238-B (Blu-ray)
124 minutes 1975
October 23, 2012
Rhoda and John are two people whose worlds collide after a tragic accident. Their intimate drama plays out against the astounding discovery of Earth 2, a parallel world that poses provocative and fascinating possibilities. Does a new Earth mean a chance at another life? Another destiny? Another self? With a mind-bending surprise ending that you will never forget.
This is a very well done film. It does have its share of surprises. The overall plot seems to be about reconciliation. However in this case reconciliation did not work out as planned. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 58244-D (Both DVD and Blu-ray) 93 minutes 2011
May 21, 2012
The League of Gentlemen
Bitter about being forced into retirement, a colonel (wittily embodied by Jack Hawkins) ropes a cadre of former British army men into aiding him in a one-million-pound back robbery -a risky, multitiered plan that involves infiltrating a military compound. A delightful case of British all-stars.
Cast: Jack Hawkins, Nigel Patrick, Roger Livesey, Richard Attenborough, Bryan Forbes, Kieron Moore, Robert Coote, Terence Alexander, Norman Bird.
Classic British dry humor and a very clever caper. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 54729-D 116 minutes 1960
November 18, 2011
The unholy three
The scheming ventriloquist Prof. Echo, disguised as Grandma O'Grady, heads a robbery ring that includes a feeble-minded strongman and a cigar-chomping little person, the latter masquerading as Grandma's grandbaby.
What a strange and funny movie but don't mess with the unholy three. However it is a chance the see Lon Chaney Senior in action. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 54848-D 71 minutes 1930
November 14, 2011
Terry Pratchett's Going postal
When Moist von Lipwig is caught for his trickery, he is given the option of becoming the next postmaster or falling down a deep pit.
A two part film of a man who learns the error of his ways. Set in a sort of 19th century England where "Clacks" (light emitting towers) are used as a type of internet. Honorable mention goes to the great actor David Suchet, known (in America at least) for his Hercule Poirot role in Agatha Christie Mysteries. His part in this film is nothing like the Poirot charactor and he plays it masterfully. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 56246-D 185 minutes 2010
November 11, 2011
Invisible Invaders/ Seventh Planet
Invisible invaders. Aliens, contacting scientist Adam Penner, inform him that they have been on the moon for twenty thousand years, undetected due to their invisibility, and have now decided to annihilate humanity unless all the nations of earth surrender immediately. Side B. Journey to the seventh planet. A U.N. space expedition to the planet Uranus discovers a bizarre world right out of their own heads, featuring places and people the crew members recall from childhood. It's all part of a fantasy created by the planet's master, a giant, pulsating brain that can also turn their worst thoughts into reality.
I really should have a rainy Saturday category. These two films are wonderful examples of low budget 1950s science fiction. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 55917-D
Invisible invaders: 67 minutes 1959
Journey to the seventh planet 77 minutes 1962 In color
November 09, 2011
The Man From Planet X
An alien arrives on Earth to seek help for his dying planet, but he is confronted with hostility. Takes place on a lonely Scottish island.
Above they fail to mention that the alien planet is on a course to crash into earth. The alien also hypnotizes local villagers to labor for him. One person's hostility and greed has ruined yet another chance for humans to meet and learn from outsiders. This story has your standard cast of characters, The scientist, the newspaperman and the love interest (the scientist daughter), the greedy scientist who just happens to have a shady past and the unaware, suspicious locals. All this combined to make a well, pretty run of the mill 50's sci-fi. Honorable mention must go to the alien's special costume and the special effects of the approaching Planet X. This is a great rainy, Saturday afternoon film. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 55632-D 71 minutes 1951
October 21, 2011
A Midwinter's Tale
To be or not to be? To act or not to act? The questions are the same to Joe, a struggling (jobless) actor whose every sinew and synapse cries out to perform and to soften the blow of not landing a part in a mega budget sci-fi movie. So in the stalwart (desperate) tradition of actors everywhere, Joe vows to put on a show, a special (even more desperate) version of the greatest play in the English tongue.
A great cast and a joyful film. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 53437-D 98 minutes 1995
October 19, 2011
The World, the Flesh and the Devil
'Millions Flee from Cities! End of the World!' From a Manhattan skyscraper, Ralph Burton surveys the emptiness announced by that chilling newspaper headline. Nuclear doomsday has come. Ralph is sure he is the last person alive. Then a woman appears and the two form a cautious friendship that's threatened when a third survivor arrives.
Fantastic post apocalyptic tale, Harry Belafonte is a survivor bringing electricity to New York city. He struggles with loneliness while hoping for other survivors. It is an anti nuclear, anti ware cautionary tale.
Modern viewers may notice the lack of Zombies and Vampires. ~Mike
Askith Media Library 53453-D 95 minutes 1959
October 18, 2011
How to Steal a Million
A woman and a burglar hatch a scheme to swipe a forgery from an art museum to conceal her father's art forgeries.
Special features: Commentary by Eli Wallach and Catherine Wyler; "Audrey Hepburn: the fairest lady" as seen on Biography on the A & E Network.
An enjoyable film, beautifully shot, fantastic dialog and probably Peter O'Toole's finest work. ~Mike
Askwith Media Library 50090-D 125 minutes 1966
March 28, 2011
An astronaut-in-training has to leave NASA (to save the family farm) but just can't give up on his dream of shooting into space, even if he has to do it all by himself. And that will of course get everyone up in arms, from his wife to his banker to the town gossips to the media and the Department of Homeland Security.
A somewhat misleading description above: The Astronaut Farmer has his children (two younger daughters and elder son) and wife involved in the dream of orbiting the earth from their rocket being assembled in the barn. The rocket is an obsolete rocket used in the 1970s. The Farmer has bought a scrapped one and has scavenged the needed parts. The banker requires the mortgage payments to be made and homeland security becomes very interested when the farmer tries to purchase 10,000 pounds of rocket fuel. It is an enjoyable film about hope and a family that sticks together while the world around them doubts their sanity. ~Mike
Released in 2007
Askwith Media Library 53495-D 104 minutes
Napa Valley, 1976. For connoisseur Steven Spurrier, there is no finer art than French wine. But rumors bandy about of a new California wine country that holds the future of the vine. Positive the small Napa wineries are no match for established French vintages, Spurrier challenges the Americans to a blind taste test. He finds the valley full of ambitious, and talented, novice vinters like Jim Barrett and his son Bo. He realizes his publicity stunt may change the history of wine forever.
It could be a docu-drama, but that title would be a little limiting for this film. It is a beautifully shot and acted film although the plot uses some action elements to keep the interest of some viewers. This is the story of a taste test comparison between Californian and French wines. Napa Valley wines won the contest and this established Napa Valley as a premiere growing location while opening up the possibilities for the rest of the world to grow grapes for wine. Since then we have all benefited from the diversity of wines grown around the world. ~Mike
Released in 2009
Askwith Media Library 53308-D 108 minutes