“The Girl in Black Stockings” (1957) starring Lex Barker, Anne Bancroft, Mamie Van Doren & John Dehner / Z-View

The Girl in Black Stockings (1957)

Director:  Howard W. Koch

Screenplay: Richard Landau, based on the short story “Wanton Murder” by Peter Godfrey

Stars: Lex Barker, Anne Bancroft, Mamie Van Doren, John Dehner, Ron Randell, Marie Windsor, John Holland, Diana Van der Vlis, Richard H. Cutting, Larry Chance, Gene O’Donnell, Stuart Whitman and Dan Blocker.

Tagline: One Will Die Tonight!

The Plot…

When a party girl is found brutally murdered, Sheriff Jess Holmes (Dehner) has no shortage of suspects. They include:

  • David Hewson (Barker), a LA lawyer on vacation
  • Beth Dixon (Bancroft), Ed Parry’s former personal assistant
  • Ed Parry (Randell), the paralyzed, wheelchair-bound lodge owner
  • Julia Parry (Windsor), Ed’s sister and caretaker
  • Norman Grant (Holland), a once-famous actor hoping for a comeback
  • Harriett Ames (Van Doren), Norman Grant’s much younger lady friend
  •  Joseph Felton (O’Donnell), a guest who just recently arrived at the lodge
  • Joe (Chance), an employee of the lodge

Sheriff Holmes has his hands full. More will die before the murderer is revealed!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Girl in Black Stockings was filmed on location at the Parry Lodge in Kanab, Utah.

Top-billed Lex Barker played Tarzan in five movies prior to making this.

Anne Bancroft would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress in a Leading Role five times, winning once in 1963 for her performance in The Miracle Worker.

Stuart Whitman and Dan Blocker appear in small roles.

The Girl in Black Stockings (1957) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“Chief of Station” starring Aaron Eckhart – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

Here we have the poster and trailer for Chief of Station starring Aaron Eckhart.

After learning the untimely death of his wife was not accidental, a former CIA Station Chief (Aaron Eckhart) is forced back into the espionage underworld, teaming up with an adversary to unravel a conspiracy that challenges everything he thought he knew.

Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Olga Kurylenko, Alex Pettyfer
Directed by: Jesse V. Johnson
Release Date: 5/3/24

“On the Line” (2022) starring Mel Gibson / Z-View

On the Line (2022)

Director:  Romuald Boulanger

Screenplay: Romuald Boulanger

Stars: Mel Gibson, William Moseley, Alia Seror-O’Neill, Paul Spera and Kevin Dillon.

Tagline: There’s a Killer on the Line

The Plot…

Elvis Cooney (Gibson), late night radio shock jock finds himself with a caller who will kill Cooney’s family if Cooney doesn’t follow his directions on-air.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

On the Line sets up and interesting premise and follows through for the first hour and a half or so.  Then in the final minutes we are left feeling like we just watched the ninth season of Dallas.

On the Line (2022) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“Dark Matter” – The Trailer is Here!

Dark Matter looks like it could be a winner.

There are infinite realities. This is the one where Jason Dessen kidnaps himself. Based on the New York Times bestseller, Dark Matter premieres May 8. https://apple.co/_DarkMatter

Dark Matter is a sci-fi thriller series based on the blockbuster book by acclaimed, bestselling author Blake Crouch. The nine-episode series features an ensemble cast that includes Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Connelly, Alice Braga, Jimmi Simpson, Dayo Okeniyi and Oakes Fegley. Dark Matter makes its global debut on Apple TV+ on May 8, 2024, premiering with the first two episodes, followed by new episodes every Wednesday through June 26.

Hailed as one of the best sci-fi novels of the decade, Dark Matter is a story about the road not taken. The series will follow Jason Dessen (played by Joel Edgerton), a physicist, professor and family man who — one night while walking home on the streets of Chicago — is abducted into an alternate version of his life. Wonder quickly turns to nightmare when he tries to return to his reality amid the mind-bending landscape of lives he could have lived. In this labyrinth of realities, he embarks on a harrowing journey to get back to his true family and save them from the most terrifying, unbeatable foe imaginable: himself.

Crouch serves as executive producer, showrunner, and writer alongside executive producers Matt Tolmach and David Manpearl for Matt Tolmach Productions, and Joel Edgerton. Dark Matter is produced for Apple TV+ by Sony Pictures Television.

“Night of Terror” (1933) starring Bela Lugosi / Z-View

Night of Terror (1933)

Director:  Benjamin Stoloff

Screenplay: Willard Mack, Beatrice Van, Lester Neilson, William Jacobs

Stars: Bela Lugosi, Wallace Ford, Tully Marshall, George Meeker, Matt McHugh, Dave O’Brien and Oscar Smith.

Tagline: A mad murdering midnight menace!

The Plot…

A serial killer known as The Maniac is on the loose.  He was last seen near the estate where a rich man was murdered.  When the family comes together they learn they are heirs to the fortune left behind.  As family members turn up dead, survivors wonder if the killer is the Maniac or someone in the family attempting to get a bigger share.

How many will have to die before the truth is known?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Although Bela Lugosi gets top billing, he plays a supporting character.

The best part of the film is after the mystery is solved.  The killer is caught. The Maniac is lying dead on the floor.  The family exits and we’re expecting “THE END” to appear.  But instead the Maniac gets up, walks close to the camera and speaks directly to the audience.  He warns them that if any tell how the movie ends he will find and haunt them! (Oh, and the Maniac isn’t the killer!)

Night of Terror (1933) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“The Roundup: Punishment” starring Don Lee – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

Don Lee is back and we have the trailer and poster for The Roundup: Punishment.

IN THEATERS MAY 3.

During the investigations of a drug trafficking app, the Monster Cop Ma Seok-do (Don Lee) and his team discover a connection between the wanted app developer, who was killed in the Philippines, and a massive illegal online gambling organization. Meanwhile in the Philippines, Baek Chang-gi, a former elite soldier, has been controlling the Korean online illegal gambling market, terrorizing it with kidnap, assault and murder. His partner, the IT genius CEO, Chang Dong-chul plans an even larger scheme in Korea. To put an end to the escalating threat, Detective Ma expands the operation by proposing an unexpected alliance to Jang, and unfolds the biggest roundup mission to hunt down the criminals, collaborating with the cyber unit and Metro Investigations.

“Civil War” – The Last Trailer is Here!

Civil War will get me back to a theater.  Looking forward to this.  Here’s the last trailer!

From writer/director Alex Garland and starring Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Cailee Spaeny.

CIVIL WAR – In Theaters April 12, 2024.

RELEASE DATE: April 12, 2024
DIRECTOR: Alex Garland
CAST: Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Cailee Spaeny

“Apocalypto” (2006) directed by Mel Gibson

Apocalypto (2006)

Director:  Mel Gibson

Screenplay: Mel Gibson, Farhad Safinia

Stars: Rudy Youngblood, Raoul Max Trujillo, Gerardo Taracena, Jonathan Brewer and Iazua Larios.

Tagline: No one can outrun their destiny.

The Plot…

When Jaguar Paw’s village is attacked, he manages to hide his pregnant wife and young son in a deep hole right outside their jungle settlement.  He then goes back to fight the attackers.  With overwhelming numbers, the attacking Mayans kill or capture every man and woman in the village.  The prisoners will be marched to the Mayan city.  The women then sold into slavery and the men publicly sacrificed.

Jaguar Paw is determined to escape, survive and get back to his family.  Odds are against it.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

When people talk about Mel Gibson’s directing ability they usually mention Braveheart, Hacksaw Ridge and The Passion of the ChristApocalypto should be included in that group.  It’s arguably the best film he ever directed.

Many of the roles in Apocalypto were performed by Mayans who had never acted before.

Apocalypto was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Achievement in Makeup (Aldo Signoretti, Vittorio Sodano); Best Achievement in Sound Mixing (Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell, Fernando Cámara) and Best Achievement in Sound Editing (Sean McCormack, Kami Asgar).

Apocalypto (2006) rates 5 of 5 stars.

“Road House” (2024) starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Daniela Melchior & Conor McGregor / Z-View

Road House (2024)

Director:  Doug Liman

Screenplay: Anthony Bagarozzi, Charles Mondry, story by Anthony Bagarozzi, Charles Mondry, David Lee Henry based on Road House by David Lee Henry, Hilary Henkin

Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Daniela Melchior, Conor McGregor, Billy Magnussen, Jessica Williams, B.K. Cannon, Joaquim de Almeida, Austin Post Malone, Lukas Gage, Dominique Columbus, Beau Knapp, Hannah Love Lanier, Travis Van Winkle and JD Pardo.

Tagline: Take it outside.

The Plot…

Ex-UFC cage fighter, Elwood Dalton (Gyllenhaal) is offered $5,000.00 a week to become head bouncer at the Road House beach bar.  A biker gang has been terrorizing customers.  Dalton reluctantly takes the job.  He then discovers that the bikers are pawns used by a drug runner who wants the Road House for reasons of his own.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Road House is Conor McGregor’s film debut.

Director Doug Liman keeps the action moving and the shots interesting.

Jake Gyllenhaal is great as the “keep it cool” character with a savage dark side once a line is crossed.

Conor McGregor is as over the top in the movie as he is in real life.  Let that sink in.

While not as good as the original, I enjoyed it more than most folks.  Road House (2024) currently has a 6.2 out of 10 rating at IMDb.  At Rotten Tomatoes it has 59% rating among reviewers and a 54% audience rating.

Road House (2024) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“Pushover” (1954) starring Fred MacMurray, Kim Novak, Philip Carey, Dorothy Malone & E.G. Marshall / Z-View

Pushover (1954)

Director:  Richard Quine

Screenplay: Roy Huggins based on THE NIGHT WATCH by Thomas Walsh and RAFFERTY by Bill Ballinger

Stars: Fred MacMurray, Kim Novak, Philip Carey, Dorothy Malone, E.G. Marshall, Allen Nourse, James Anderson, Tony Barrett, Phil Chambers, Alan Dexter, Anne Loos, Marion Ross, Paul Richards and Dick Crockett.

Tagline: HOT-BLOODED BLONDE…COLD-BLOODED GUY…and MURDER!

The Plot…

Detective Paul Sheridan (MacMurray) is sent undercover to befriend Lona McLane (Novak).  Lona is the girlfriend of Harry Wheeler (Richards), the prime suspect in a bank robbery where a security guard was killed and the thieves made off with over $200,000.00.  Paul and Lona hit it off.

The police have placed Lona’s apartment under 24 hour surveillance by Paul, an alcoholic cop named Paddy (Nourse) and Detective Rick McAllister (Carey).  Paul is surprised when Lona shows up at his house when he’s off-shift.  Lona tells Paul that she knows he’s a cop.  That she loves him.  That if Paul will kill Harry, they could run away together with the bank cash.

Paul refuses… at first.  But he’s in love and the temptation is too great.  Paul and Lona come up with a plan, but like the best laid plans…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Although Kim Novak’s credit says, Introducing, this wasn’t her first on-screen appearance.  She was just 21 when Pushover was released.  She definitely comes off as sexier,  older and more world-weary than a 21 year old.

Roy Huggins’s script was based on two books not written by him. Huggins was himself a novelist and screenwriter.  He was also writer, creator and/or producer of television series that include Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip, The Fugitive, Hunter, and The Rockford Files.

Marion Ross of Happy Days fame appears uncredited as Mrs. Crockett.

Fred MacMurray and Kim Novak are excellent.  Kudos also to Philip Carey, Dorothy Malone and E.G. Marshall.

Pushover (1954) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“Die Hard” Trivia!

Rob Hunter at Film School Rejects posted 37 Things We Learned from Steven E. de Souza’s ‘Die Hard’ Commentary.  Before you click over (and you should since his piece is full of interesting Die Hard trivia), here are three of my favorites and my thoughts on each…

8. Sinatra was actually the first of many actors to decline the role. “You have to view this movie in the context of the time it was made. In the 1980s there had been all these action movies with these muscular, steroid, pumped up, roid rage heroes.” He adds that he played a role in that, “mea culpa,” as a reference to films like Commando (1985) and The Running Man (1987). The only one he mentions by title, though, is 1985’s Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) — which he didn’t write. The point being that McClane spends a big chunk of the time trying to hide and call the cops, something action stars of the decade weren’t too keen on. “So in that context, this guy is a coward, he’s a pussy.” (The fact that McClane didn’t act like an action hero made him more believable.  It made the film better. – Craig)

12. After Sinatra said no, Fox took the script to other stars, but they were turned down by “Arnold, then Sly, then Clint Eastwood, then Mel Gibson, then Richard Gere, then Don Johnson, then Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Kurt Russell, James Caan, and Burt Reynolds who was a Hail Mary call from our producer.” In desperation, the studio made the offer to Willis whose management was well aware of the film’s hard release date — and negotiated a killer deal as a result. (I believe Willis ended up getting $5million for his role.  It was interesting that when the movie was first being advertised it didn’t focus on him being the star. The feeling was that the studio had waaay overpaid.  Turns out they got a bargain. – Craig)

7. The novel is actually a sequel to 1960’s The Detective, also based on a Thorp novel, which stars Frank Sinatra in the lead role. When Fox moved forward on Die Hard they has to approach Sinatra and offered him the role. “He said ‘I’m too old and too rich to do this, and the chases in the building would have to be on Rascal scooters.’” The character names were all changed to sever that connection, and they also took the opportunity to age down the retired cop character to a younger, active police officer. (I am so glad that Sinatra had the good sense to pass.  I’ve read the novel (NOTHING LASTS FOREVER) and it isn’t near as good as “Die Hard” turned out to be.  As you’ll see if you click over to Hunter’s article, many of the things fans love about “Die Hard” happened by accident or good luck. Everything came together to make a classic movie. – Craig)

“The Crooked Circle” (1932) starring Zasu Pitts & James Gleason / Z-View

The Crooked Circle (1932)

Director:  H. Bruce Humberstone

Screenplay: Ralph Spence (original screenplay), Tim Whelan (additional dialogue)

Stars: Zasu Pitts, James Gleason, C. Henry Gordon, Raymond Hatton, Berton Churchill, Spencer Charters, Robert Frazer, Frank Reicher and Christian Rub.

Tagline: WHAT TIME IS IT WHEN THE CLOCK STRIKES 13? THRILLS will creep on you-LAUGHS will leap on you! IN ZASU PITTS FIRST FEATURE PICTURE

The Plot…

The Crooked Circle, a secret group of criminals, has vowed to kill Colonel Theodore Walters.  Walters is a member of the Sphinx Club, a group of amateur detectives.

When the Sphinx Club meets at a creepy, old mansion, the Crooked Circle plan to make good on their vow.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Crooked Circle is a variation on “The Old Dark House” movies that were popular in the era.  Hidden passageways, ghosts, bad guys and a touch of comedy are staples of this genre.

Zasu Pitts and James Gleason were the top billed stars, but their characters aren’t the main focus of the film.

Zasu is her real name.  Her mother made it up taking the last two letters of Eliza and the first two letters of Susan.  Her mother’s sisters were named Eliza and Susan.

Zasu Pitts was the inspiration for Popeye’s girlfriend, Olive Oyle!

The Crooked Circle (1932) rates 3 of 5 stars.