The Shop Around the Corner (1940) – An OCF Classic Movie Review

“The Shop Around the Corner” is an MGM movie starring Jimmy Stewart that combines elements of comedy, drama and romance to tell the story of a retail store in Budapest, Hungary called Matuschek and Company.  Mr. Matuschek, played by Frank Morgan is the owner of a leather goods store that is struggling to survive at the end of the Great Depression.  Matuschek is enthusiastic, self-important and comically hot-headed.

His lead salesman is Alfred Kralik, played by Stewart.  Kralik is intelligent, earnest and falling in love with a woman he’s never met.  He’s in an anonymous pen-pal relationship with a woman that he knows simply as “dear friend.”  As it turns out dear friend also happens to be his co-worker Klara Novak, played by Margaret Sullavan.  But in their real life Kralik and Klara detest each other.  In addition to this comedy of errors love/hate relationship, there are other characters and other sub-plots.  Kralik’s closest friend at the shop is Mr. Pirovitch played in a wonderfully comic turn by Felix Bressart.  Pirovitch is Mr. Matuschek’s favorite whipping boy.  His favorite statement is “Pirovitch you’re an idiot.”  To which the meek Pirovitch replies, “Yes, Mr. Matuschek, I’m an idiot.”

There is Ferencz Vadas, another of the sales clerks, played with enormous pomposity and self-regard by Joseph Schildkraut.  And finally, there is the errand boy Pepi Katona who snipes sarcastically at all his superiors and ends up as the hero of the second plot line.  For along with the romance there is a drama.  Mr. Matuschek has become aware of the fact that his wife is having an affair and he believes it is with one of his employees.  And since Kralik has had the most opportunity to meet Mrs. Matuschek he is the prime suspect.  So, whereas formerly Matuschek treated Kralik almost as a son now he hates and distrusts him.  After goading Kralik into anger, Matuschek discharges him.  But when the private detectives finish their investigation, they name Mr. Vadas as Matuschek’s rival.  With his life in shambles Matuschek attempts to end it all with a pistol.  But in the nick of time Pepi breaks in on his suicide and hands Matuschek over to the hospital for psychiatric observation.

Meanwhile Kralik discovers that on top of being fired his “dear friend” is Klara Novak.  He finds this out when he is supposed to be meeting her at a café with each of them wearing a carnation.  Spying Klara’s carnation from outside he throws away his carnation and pretends that he was just stopping at the café to meet Pirovitch.  Klara accuses him of trying to spoil her prospective date, insults him and finishes by calling him an insignificant clerk.  After this he leaves in complete dejection and misery.

But in the next act Matuschek calls Kralik to his hospital bed to apologize for his terrible treatment and to beg him to come back and manage the store while Matuschek recuperates from his nervous breakdown.  Even Pepi is rewarded for saving Mr. Matuschek by becoming a salesman.  Now with roles reversed Klara is dejected because her date never showed up and on top of that she finds that the man she insulted is now her boss.  But all ends well.  Kralik fires the despicable Vadas in royal fashion.  The store has a stellar Christmas sales total and Mr. Matuschek returns in time to give everyone a wonderful bonus.  And finally, the lovers are re-united.  But first Kralik has some fun with Klara by pretending that he had met her “dear friend” and he was fat, bald, old, and a greedy fraud.  When Klara finally discovers that Kralik is her “dear friend” she is relieved and happy.

This is a relatively silly story.  But the dialogue and the acting are remarkably good.  Even the minor parts are played skillfully and with great comic verve.  There is great heart here.  And the humanity of all the characters, even the villainous Vadas feels very real.  You believe the story.  There is a Dickensian feel to the production.  I highly recommend this story to everyone.  It’s a gem.

Star Trek – The Original Series – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 26 – Assignment: Earth

This the last episode of season 2.  We are told at the beginning of the episode that the Enterprise has been sent back in time to 1968 by means of blah, blah, blah.  They are there to do research.  By a remarkable coincidence they intercept an enormously powerful transporter beam coming from 1,000 light years away.  The beam deposits a seemingly human man holding a black cat.

The man identifies himself as Gary Seven (played by Robert Lansing), a human agent of a far off highly advanced race that he claims maintains a population of humans to visit Earth and influence human history in a way that limits the possibility of self-destruction.  Gary tries to convince Kirk to let him continue on to Earth to fulfill his mission which is to harmlessly but frighteningly destroy a nuclear weapon during a launch into orbit.  Kirk is unsure of Seven’s story and refuses to release him without proof of the truth of his story.  He fears that Seven is an alien enemy trying to destroy Earth by triggering WW III.

Seven manages to escape from detention on the Enterprise and proceeds to his base in New York City.  There he finds out that the agents meant to sabotage the orbital rocket have died in a car crash.  He must go himself to the Florida rocket launch and program the rocket to explode 100 miles above Russia thus convincing the Americans and their enemies that keeping H-bombs orbiting the Earth is a very bad idea.

At this point a woman hired by his two late associates to be their receptionist, Roberta Lincoln (played by a very young Teri Garr in a miniskirt) shows up and further confuses Gary Seven’s mission.  Meanwhile the Enterprise has identified the destination Seven transported to and sends Kirk and Spock dressed in mid-century American clothes.  They get into an altercation with Roberta and she manages to send for the police.  Gary Seven transports to the rocket launch location before Kirk and Spock reach him.  Meanwhile the NYPD shows up and Kirk has Scotty beam the two policemen and himself and Spock to the Enterprise.  The two policemen are stunned by their transportation.  Kirk and Spock exit the transporter and Scotty returns the officers to Earth before they can recover their wits.

Kirk now knows that Gary Seven has reached the rocket base and he and Spock decide to go there to stop Seven’s plan.  They are immediately arrested by the base’s armed guards and hauled off to, of all places, the mission control location.  Gary Seven is now on the gantry next to the rocket and has begun reprogramming the rocket.  At this point back on the Enterprise Scotty locates Gary Seven on the side of the rocket and attempts to beam him aboard the Enterprise.  But as Seven begins to materialize in the Enterprise transporter Roberta Lincoln fiddles aimlessly with the controls of the transporter in New York and the machine finds Gary Seven and brings him to New York.  How’s that for ridiculous!

After that we have Roberta Lincoln realizing that Seven can’t be from the CIA and knocking him out with a metal box.  Then Kirk and Spock, who in the interim have been rescued from detention by Scotty, show up and use up all but a few seconds of time needed to detonate the bomb in the upper atmosphere.  Shatner uses his confused face to let us know he isn’t sure whether he should do the only reasonable thing and let Seven prevent the nuke from reaching Earth.  Spock has to bless his decision by saying there is no information to make a logical decision so Kirk’s human intuition is the only choice.  Kirk says, “Do it!”  And the show comes to a blessed ending in the glare of a thermonuclear explosion at exactly 104 miles above the ground.

In the epilogue we learn that history had recorded that the bomb did go off at that altitude and was the impetus for nuclear negotiations between the United States and Russia.  And Spock informs Seven and Lincoln that they will have interesting adventures together in the near future.  We then see that Seven’s cat Isis can also transform herself into a scantily clad and buxom woman and when Roberta questions Gary about this female rival, “Who’s that?”  She transforms back into a cat in time for Gary to tell Roberta, “That’s my cat.”

Okay, let’s go over this a little bit.  This episode was a sort of pilot for a spin-off starring Lansing and Garr that never happened.  And I will say that these two were definitely a notch above the caliber of most of the guest stars.  They both had good presence, some comedic timing and decent acting skills.  The script although filled with improbabilities piled on ridiculous coincidences moved along quickly and reached a satisfying climax without Shatner breaking out too much of his classic emoting.  In fact, having Lansing and Garr dominate the air time was extremely refreshing.  And this is one of the few episodes I can think of where Dr. McCoy has almost no time on screen.  So, it’s a real win/win.

I would say this in one of the good episodes.  As mentioned above Shatner doesn’t get to use much of his bag of painful tricks so the Shatner mockery value will be sort of low.  Let’s call this an 8 // 3.

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) – A Movie Review

“The Friends of Eddie Coyle” is a crime drama that takes place in and around Boston.  Robert Mitchum is Eddie Coyle, a small-time member of an Irish gang who is about to be sentenced for a truck hijacking that he did for another gangster named Dillon who is played by Peter Boyle.  Because Eddie doesn’t want to do anymore time he agrees to act as an informant to ATF agent Dave Foley.  He informs on the gun runner Jackie Brown who has been providing Eddie with pistols for use by a bank robbing gang being run by Eddie’s friend Jimmy Scalise.

At the same time, we discover that Eddie’s associate Dillon is also providing information to Foley too.  Eventually Dillon provides information on Scalise’s operation and the gang gets busted.  When both Jackie Brown and Scalise both get taken down by ATF the head of the gang decides that Eddie is responsible for the leaks and sends his hitman to kill Eddie.  And ironically the hitman is Dillon.

The movie consists of the various crimes, the gun-running and the bank robberies along with Eddie’s and Dillon’s meetings with Dave Foley.  The movie’s strengths are the dialog and the portrayal of these characters.  Listening to them justify the various and contradictory actions they take rings true.  Even Eddie’s relationship with his wife and family demonstrates what a hopeless mess his life is.  And the ending where Dillon takes Eddie to a Bruins hockey game and gets him black out drunk before executing him in a car ride into the suburbs is completely believable and emblematic of the faithless fraternity that these men inhabit.

Living in New England I asked a friend of mine what he thought about the somewhat recent Boston mob movie, “The Departed.”  He said that the legitimate quintessential New England mob movie was the “The Friends of Eddie Coyle.”  And I agree with him completely.  This movie feels about right as a representation of Boston corruption.  Whether it’s gangsters or crooked politicians this is what that world looks and feels like.  It’s petty and disloyal and penny-ante and very, very local.  There’s nothing grandiose and nothing heroic.  It’s gritty and believable.

If you like crime movies that reek of small-timer sweat, this is it.

The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) – A Movie Review

“The Bad and the Beautiful” is a film about Hollywood.  Kirk Douglas plays Jonathan Shields, the son of a famous Hollywood producer who has his sights set on following in his father’s footsteps.  Starting out as the producer of B movies for a friend of his father’s, Harry Pebbel (played by Walter Pidgeon), Jonathan finds, befriends and ultimately betrays the best director, actress and author that fate sends his way.  The movie is about this destructive mode of living that Jonathan inhabits.  Along the way we see that Jonathan is both tremendously talented and possessed of enormous personal magnetism.  But these positive traits are set against his staggering disregard for the welfare of the people around him.  Basically, he’s a narcissist.  He also suffers from bouts of clinical depression when he finishes each of his film projects.

The set up for the plot is the actress (Lana Turner playing Georgia Lorrison), the director (Barry Sullivan as Fred Amiel) and the author (Dick Powell as James Lee Bartlow) arriving at the office of Harry Pebbel who is trying to get the three of them to agree to star, direct and write Jonathan’s next project.  His last film was a financial disaster and the only way he can get funding is to have a team of celebrated professionals like them involved.

Harry is the narrator introducing the three vignettes that chronicle Jonathan’s disastrous relationships with Georgia, Fred and James Lee.  Each of the stories features Jonathan catalyzing the creative success that each is capable of but also betraying each of them in a way that is unforgivable.

Fred hands Jonathan the script of a great movie with the understanding that Fred will direct it.  Jonathan manages successfully to get the studio to provide a lavish million-dollar budget for the project but then decides to hand the direction to a more experienced man.  This ends Fred’s friendship and partnership with Jonathan but allows Fred to pursue his own career which ends in him becoming a highly successful director for other studios.

Georgia’s story features Jonathan saving this fragile young daughter of a famous actor who has fallen into a self-destructive cycle of drunkenness and loveless affairs.  He realizes that in order to give Georgia the confidence she needs to succeed he will have to pretend to be her great love.  With Jonathan’s help she finds her acting skills and makes the part and the movie a great success.  But after the film wrap Jonathan goes into his typical depression and when Jonathan isn’t at the opening party Georgia returns to Jonathan’s home to cheer him up.  Instead, she finds him entertaining a starlet in a negligee.  But instead of being embarrassed he becomes enraged that she thinks she can own his affections.  She flees into the night in a torrential rainstorm and we see her driving wildly and almost crashing into the oncoming traffic.  This is the weakest scene in the movie.  Her hysterical screaming while braking the car into a spin strikes me as absurdly comical.  The next day she quits her job and even though she was bound by contract Jonathan lets her out of it.  She goes on to become the most acclaimed, in demand and highest paid actress of her time.

James Lee’s story finds him recruited by Jonathan to write the script for a movie being made from his own best-selling book.  It’s actually James Lee’s wife Rosemary (played by Gloria Grahame with an awful Southern accent) who wants him to stay in Hollywood for the movie work.  But at the same time Rosemary is the greatest impediment to James Lee accomplishing much writing.  She interrupted him at every turn and distracts him with chaperoning her to Hollywood parties.

Jonathan is frustrated by this lack of progress so he arranges for James Lee to accompany him to a cabin in the woods where they can work undisturbed.  But to make sure that Rosemary doesn’t intrude Jonathan arranges for his handsome friend “Gaucho” to keep Rosemary company.  Of course, Jonathan knows Gaucho will make a pass at Rosemary and he also believes she will welcome it.

Sure enough, James Lee and Jonathan make enormous progress and finish the script.  But in the meantime, Gaucho and Rosemary take the opportunity to fly to Acapulco for a love tryst.  They are both killed in a plane crash and James Lee is devastated by his wife’s death and by the knowledge of her infidelity.  Jonathan convinces him to stay on in Hollywood to assist in the production of the movie and this lifts James Lee out of his despair.  But Jonathan inadvertently says something that reveals that he knew about Gaucho’s affair with Rosemary.  But instead of apologizing Jonathan goes on the attack and tells James Lee that Rosemary’s death was her own fault and that she was a hindrance to James Lee’s career.  And the outraged widower punches Jonathan in the face and walks out.  Afterward James Lee writes a book about a woman like Rosemary and the book wins the Pulitzer Prize.  We are led to understand by Harry’s remarks that James Lee’s new understanding of his wife’s hidden desires was what made the book the success it became.

After finishing the reminiscences Harry is going to call Jonathan in Paris and tell him whether Fred, Georgia and James Lee will be willing to work with him on his new project.  As the call is connected the three of them tell Harry they refuse and begin to leave the office.  As they walk into the anteroom, we hear Harry talking on his phone to Jonathan as he begins to hear the details of the new movie.

In the last scene Georgia carefully picks up the receiver of an extension phone in the anteroom and starts listening very interestedly in what Jonathan is saying.  Quickly Fred and James Lee huddle around her eavesdropping with her.  Obviously as much as they despise Jonathan for his selfishness they are fascinated by his talent.

This movie is a narcissist’s love letter to itself.  Hollywood almost prided itself on destroying the people it used up to make its products.  Vincent Minelli was the director and his wife Judy Garland could have been the model for the character Georgia.  And any number of other Hollywood actors, producers, directors and writers could probably have been templates for the characters in this movie.  The only difference would be that the betrayals were worse in real life and the talent of the producer would have been much less impressive.

I’m of two minds about this movie.  It is very well made.  It captures the spirit of the industry it portrays.  But the shabbiness of the people on display revolts me.  Jonathan is never apologetic.  He always attacks his victims.  He always justifies his betrayal.  He is a sociopath.  I guess taken as a cautionary tale it would have value.  Maybe it speaks to the selfishness in all of us.

The Four Feathers (1939) – A Classic Movie Review

This 1939 British version of the story stars John Clements as Harry Faversham a young Englishman whose family has a centuries old tradition of military service but who himself fears the reality of war.  He is engaged to Ethne Burroughs daughter of retired General Burroughs and sister to Peter Burroughs his best friend and comrade in the Royal North Surrey Regiment of the British Army.  Ralph Richardson plays Captain John Durrance, Faversham’s rival for Ethne’s love and the main cast is rounded out by Jack Allen as Lieutenant Willoughby.

As the marriage approaches the British Army is about to send an expedition from Egypt to Sudan to reconquer Khartoum ten years after the Mahdi had captured it from General Gordon.  The Royal North Surrey Regiment is called up for service but Faversham resigns his commission to avoid fighting.  His three friends send him a package that consists of a box with three white feathers attached to cards with each of their names.  When he arrives at Ethne’s home her father will not even speak to him and because of Ethne’s sorrowful reaction to his actions he takes a white feather from her fan and tells her he will add it as her contribution to his collection of white feathers.

Now feeling himself to be the coward that his friends have declared him he visits his father’s old friend Dr Sutton and works through his feelings with this mentor and decides that he must restore his honor by going to Sudan and proving himself.  But of course, he’s no longer in the British Army so he goes to Egypt and recruits the help of an Egyptian friend of Dr. Sutton who disguises him as a native.  But to hide his lack of knowledge of Arabic he is branded on the forehead to appear as one of the mute Sangali tribe.  In this guise he travels to Sudan and joins the work gang that is helping to transport the British Army under Kitchener to Khartoum.  And he is just in time to save Captain John Durrance from death when his company is surrounded by the Mahdi’s army during a diversionary action that the British planned to allow the bulk of their army to escape a battle at the enemy’s stronghold.

Durrance has suffered a heat stroke and is now blind.  When his position is being overrun Faversham is able to save his life although both of them are wounded and left for dead by the Mahdi’s men.  Burroughs and Willoughby are captured and taken back to Khartoum for imprisonment or worse.

Faversham continues the impersonation of a mute while he transports Durrance across the desert back to the British territory and medical help.  Before escaping from the British Faversham manages to place the feather that Durrance gave him back in Durrance’s wallet.

Now Faversham travels to Khartoum and manages to give his two friends a file that they can use to saw through their shackles in prison.  He ends up being discovered as an Englishman by the Mahdi and tortured for information.  He is thrown into the prison with his friends.  He reveals himself to his friends and tells them his plan.  If the Mahdi is beaten by Kitchener in battle, he is likely to retreat back to Khartoum and kill his prisoners before the British can take the town and free them.  So, Faversham’s plan is to use the file to free as many of the prisoners as possible and wait until the Mahdi’s army sets out for battle then overwhelm the few guards and take possession of the arsenal building that will provide them with the weapons and walls they need to survive until the British take the town.

Things work as Faversham expects until the British army follows the Mahdi’s army and begins bombarding the arsenal.  To save themselves from being blown to bits they manage to find an old British flag from the former regime and raise it over the arsenal just in time to save their lives.

Returning to England with his comrades Faversham finds himself forgiven his former cowardice and indeed a hero.  But most importantly his fiancée revives her plan to marry him.

The movie has several things going for it.  It was filmed on location in the places depicted in the story.  The cinematography is impressive and the production was able to enlist British soldiers in period costumes to film the battle scenes.  Large forces of men on camels and horses also adds drama to these scenes.  The story is highly improbable but the action is enjoyable and the characters are interesting.  One standout is C. Aubrey Smith’s portrayal of General Burroughs.  In several scenes Burrough’s laments the present-day army’s lack of toughness.  In each case he uses food found on a banquet table to reenact the Crimean War, Battle of Balaclava.  By the end of the movie, to the relief of the audience, Faversham is in a position to finally shut up his prospective father-in-law by correcting his mistaken narrative of how Burroughs’s actually began the famous charge.  I like these old tales from the British Empire.  They are filled with adventure and the ethos of the time.  Highly recommended for fans of high adventure.

The Cincinnati Kid (1965) – A Movie Review

Here’s a movie that I can’t decide if I love or hate.  Steve McQueen is the too cool to have any facial expression Cincinnati Kid.  He’s a stud poker player in in New Orleans.  His girlfriend is too cute for words farm girl Christian (played by Tuesday Weld) and his mentor is Shooter played by Karl Malden.  Shooter is the man who arranges all the high-end poker matches and acts as the professional dealer.  He’s married to Melba, played way over the top by Ann Margaret as she slinks around in her underwear waiting for the Kid to betray his girlfriend and her husband and join her in bed.

The climax of the movie is a high stakes poker match between the Kid and Lancey Howard played by Edward G. Robinson.  Lancey is “The Man.”  If the Kid can beat him, he becomes the foremost stud poker player in his world and his future becomes assured.  But a rich New Orleans gambler named Slade (played by Rip Torn) is stinging from a poker beating he took from Lancey and he extorts Shooter to throw the game to the Kid.  Halfway through Cincinnati figures out he’s being fed cards and because he wants to win the game himself, he forces Shooter out of the deal.  And for good measure, during one of the breaks from poker, he beds Melba.  Unfortunately, Christian picks exactly that moment to return from a visit to her parents and discovers Melba even less dressed than usual in Cincinnati’s room.

The end of the game comes in a hand that includes an ace high full house and a straight flush.  Oh, come on!  I’ll let you watch the movie to see who ends up on top but I’ll add that the Kid ends up getting the girl back (at least in one version of the movie).

So why can’t I figure out how I feel about the movie?  Well, it’s a construct.  It’s like they put it together by recipe.  Ultra-cool young gambler, Steve McQueen, check.  Impossibly sweet, pretty blonde girl, Tuesday Weld, check.  Cast of familiar, stereotyped character actors, check, check, check.  Voluptuous, half naked girl throwing herself at star, Ann Margaret, check.  Classy, golden age actor to lend some gravitas, Edward G. Robinson, checkmate.  It’s all by the numbers.  They even lay on the New Orleans atmosphere with old time jazz players and even throw Cab Calloway in as one of the gamblers.  It’s just too much.

But for whatever reason if I’m in the mood to watch a spectacle I end up enjoying the movie.  Edward G. Robinson is just too much fun to watch and listen to.  He doesn’t have that much to work with but he fills out the roll with style.  We feel the aches and pains of the old man sitting hour after hour at the table playing against the younger man.  His banter with Joan Blondell as the alternate dealer “Lady Fingers” is amusing.  Even the scene where the Kid meets Christian’s back country family and shows them some card tricks is charming.  What can I say?  I like it.  I know it’s a set up and I’m the mark but it works.  The critics said this was a copycat movie of Paul Newman’s pool room film, “The Hustler.”  They’re probably right.  But this is the less serious, less fraught version and I think it’s more enjoyable.  I’ll recommend it with my remarks above as the qualifier.  It’s a contrived spectacle but that’s what Hollywood makes.

Libel (1959) – A Movie Review

Libel is a British courtroom drama. The legal case is a libel charge against a man, Jeffrey Buckenham, who claims that an imposter stole the identity of an English baronet.  Buckenham claims that during WWII in a German POW camp, a fellow POW who looked remarkably similar to Sir Mark Loddon stole his identity during an escape from the camp.  Buckenham claims that during their escape the imposter, Frank Welney, escaped but Lodden perished.  Dirk Bogarde plays both Loddon and Welney.  Olivia de Havilland plays Lodden’s wife, Lady Margaret Loddon.  Paul Massie plays Buckenham.  And finally, familiar character actors Robert Morley and Wilfrid Hyde-White play, respectively, the prosecuting and defense attorneys.

The story develops with us seeing that the man assumed to be Mark Lodden suffers from extreme amnesia of his pre-war life and is also haunted by recurring nightmares that include a snatch of song and an image of a face in a mirror.  His wife provides patient support during all his agony but as the trial progresses the story told by Buckenham begins to eat away at her belief in her husband and his identity.  Buckenham relates details about Welney’s behavior that makes it plausible that he might have pulled off the impersonation.  He was a professional actor.  He had pumped Lodden for details of his private life.  Welney had a missing finger that the present Sir Lodden also claimed to have lost to a bullet wound during his escape.  Buckenham even testified that he overheard Welney talking to himself about impersonating Lodden if he ever returned but Lodden didn’t.  Before the end of the trial Lady Margaret Loddon becomes convinced that she’s married to an imposter that did away with her actual fiancé.

The testimony by Buckenham and Lodden are portrayed with flashbacks of the wartime interaction of the protagonists in the POW camp.  The acting is good.  The script is relatively taut for such a convoluted story and the tension is well maintained.  The finale is a bit of a twist and is as plausible or implausible as the rest of this slightly unlikely story.  I recommend it.

Hang ‘Em High (1968) – A Movie Review

Clint Eastwood stars as Jed Cooper, a former law man who is mistaken for a rustler and murderer by a posse and is hanged.  A U.S. Marshall comes upon him and cuts him down in time to save his life.  The Marshall brings Cooper in and his story is corroborated.  And the local judge Adam Fenton offers him a job as a Marshall with warrants for the arrest of the men who hanged him.

The rest of the movie revolves around Cooper’s attempts to bring the eleven men who hanged him to justice.  In the interim there is a love story between Cooper and Inger Stevens who plays a store owner named Rachel Warren who was also the victim of violence.  Ed Begley, Bruce Dern, Alan Hale, Jr and Dennis Hopper appear as members of the posse in supporting roles.  But this is Eastwood’s movie.

I found some parts of the story were overly drawn out and dragged.  The action scenes were good.  In addition to Eastwood, I would say Pat Hingle who played the judge was the most interesting character.  Overall, I enjoyed the movie.  But I am a western fan.

So, what’s the verdict?  As a specimen of the “new western” this is a good representative.  If you’re a western fan I think you’ll like this film.  If you’ve never seen a western it might seem stilted and slow.  I enjoyed it within the limitations I mentioned.

Time After Time (1979) – A Science Fiction Movie Review

Malcolm McDowell is H.G. Wells.  He has invented a time machine and is about to use it to explore the past and future from his home in 1890, London.  But at a dinner party where he is announcing his project one of his friends John Leslie Stevenson steals it to escape from the police who have discovered that he is Jack the Ripper.  Stevenson is played by David Warner that I only know from his turn as Bob Cratchit in the 1984 version of A Christmas Carol.

After the time machine returns empty from the Ripper’s escape Wells follows him back to 1979 San Francisco.  No explanation is given as to how the time machine can also move through space but since this movie isn’t very good, we won’t quibble about unimportant gaps.

In San Francisco Wells meets up with a currency exchange bank clerk named Amy Robbins played abysmally by Mary Steenburgen and naturally they fall in love and we’re trapped into listening to their various thoughts on women’s liberation and casual sex.  It’s pretty awful.  Amy thinks her “career” at the bank is her whole life.  She left her husband because he wanted her to raise a family.  The monster.

Wells finds Stevenson and he tells Wells that 1979 is the greatest place in the world for Jack the Ripper with casual sex and easy access to women and sharp knives.  Then there is this ridiculous chase scene where the two Englishmen are running around on the streets of San Francisco.  It looks ludicrous and they’re not really running very fast.  Then supposedly Stevenson is killed in a minor car accident.  Wells takes this opportunity to see the Redwoods outside of San Francisco and talk to Amy about women’s lib again.

Then we find out that Jack the Ripper must not have been killed because women start turning up butchered.  Wells tells Amy that he’s from 1890.  She tells him he’s nuts and to prove to her that he is telling the truth he uses the time machine to bring her forward a week and she finds a newspaper that shows that Jack the Ripper has killed her the day before.

So, they go back to the week before and try to catch the Ripper and save Amy’s life.  Cars get flat tires; Wells is arrested by the police as the Ripper and it appears that Amy is murdered and hacked to pieces by the Ripper.  The police let Wells go because he couldn’t have killed Amy while he was in custody.  But, big mistake, it was Amy’s friend who was butchered and now Stevenson has her hostage and wants to trade her life for the key to the time machine.

Stevenson tricks Wells and after getting the key takes Amy with him as he heads to the time machine.  Wells takes a car and somehow figures out how to drive at night in a crowded city and follows them to the machine.  There he begs for Amy’s life but Stevenson decides to take her with him but somehow in a way that doesn’t make any sense she escapes him.  As Stevenson enters into the machine and begins setting it for the future Wells removes another key from the outside of the machine and this sends Stevenson to “infinity,” whatever that means.  Hoorah for Wells and Amy.  Now Amy decides that her bank job isn’t as important as marrying Wells back in 1890.  And they live happily ever after.

This movie is so bad that it both sucks and blows.  The special effects are laughably bad and cheap looking.  They remind me of some effects that they used on Gilligan’s Island.  The dialog is awful and the 1970s disco hedonism is embarrassing.  Mary Steenburgen is an awful actress but this part is even below her talents.  The quality of this film is at the level of a made for television movie.  McDowell and Warner are decent actors but they aren’t given anything to work with here.  It’s all too silly and badly done.

Not recommended.

10JUN2021 – OCF Update

Today is a disrupted day due to errands and visits.  But also I have to watch the Nick Cage movie of the H.P. Lovecraft story “The Color Out of Space.”  Tyler Cook of the Portly Politico and I have agreed to each watch this stinkeroo and then review it to the best of our abilities.  He has watched it and assures me it’s awful.  So today I will bite the bullet and watch it before Camera Girl gets back from weekly shopping.  I am dreading the experience already.  The things I do for my art.