Category: Movies

“Frank Miller: American Genius” – The Poster & Trailer are Here!

This is a must-see for me.  I am a HUGE Frank Miller fan.

FRANK MILLER: AMERICAN GENIUS documents the unique journey of an unparalleled American artist. The film explores the half-century career of the legendary comic book artist and writer. Made for his fans following a near death experience, the documentary delves into Miller’s radical and defining influence on art, storytelling and culture. Following his small town beginnings in Vermont, to New York City, Hollywood, and beyond; this intimate documentary delves into his failures, successes, self-destruction and re-discovery.

June 6th – Sneak preview at New York’s, the Angelika. With guest moderator Neil Gaiman. @neilhimself

https://angelikafilmcenter.com/nyc/mo…

June 10th – Premiere at Cinemark Theaters. Moderated by Rosario Dawson. @rosariodawson

https://www.cinemark.com/movies/frank…

www.frankmillermovie.com

“Countdown” (1967) starring James Caan & Robert Duvall / Z-View

Countdown (1967)

Director: Robert Altman

Screenplay: Loring Mandel based on THE PILGRIM PROJECT by Hank Searles

Stars: James Caan, Robert Duvall, Joanna Moore, Barbara Baxley, Charles Aidman, Steve Ihnat, Steve Ihnat, Bobby Riha, Robert Buckingham, William Conrad (voice), Mike Farrell and Ted Knight.

Tagline: The motion picture that puts a man on the moon … and you will follow him every terrifying second of the way …

The Plot…

The time is the late 1960s.  Russia and the United States are in a race to be the first to land a man on the moon.

At NASA astronauts training to be on the first team to land on the moon have their session cut short.  The mission commander, Chiz (Duvall) is called to a meeting.  The Russians have moved up their timeline.  They are launching in just four weeks.  There is no way the US squad will be ready, but there was a contingency plan in case something like this happened.

The US will send up one astronaut to land on the moon.  Supplies and a pod will be sent up first.  The astronaut will then live there for several months until a properly trained team will be launched to retrieve him.

Chiz is excited.  He will be the first man on the moon!

Then Chiz learns that Russia, in a political move is sending up civilians to prove that theirs is a nonmilitary operation.  The President has decided that NASA must do the same.  Because Chiz is an Air Force colonel, he is eliminated from the mission.  Lee (Caan), a civilian being trained as part of Chiz’s team, will be the one to go.

Chiz argues that Lee isn’t ready, he doesn’t have the training and will die if he’s sent.  When it becomes clear that Lee is the chosen one, Chiz demands to lead the completion of Lee’s training.

The race is on…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

NASA gave complete cooperation for filming and it shows!  Cape Canaveral was a location.

Countdown was Robert Altman’s return to feature films after directing television projects for ten years.  Things did not end well.  When Altman had completed shooting, he was fired.  Further, he was not welcome on the studio lot.  The studio head, Jack Warner, hated that in some scenes Altman had two actors speaking at the same time.

Altman would go on to use overlapping dialogue in his future feature films.  Robert Altman was an Academy Award nominee as Best Director five times (M*A*S*H; Nashville; The Player; Short Cuts and Gosford Park).

Because of Altman’s firing, new footage including a more upbeat ending was filmed by William Conrad.  Conrad was an Executive Producer on the film as well as the voice of the television announcer.  Altman’s ending had James Caan’s character, as his air supply ran out, walking in the wrong direction from the lunar pod.

Countdown was released a year and a half before the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Countdown (1967) rates 3 of 5 stars.

“Roadblock” (1951) starring Charles McGraw & Joan Dixon / Z-View

Roadblock (1951)

Director: Harold Daniels

Screenplay: George Bricker, Steve Fisher story by Richard H. Landau, Daniel Mainwaring

Stars: Charles McGraw, Joan Dixon, Lowell Gilmore, Louis Jean Heydt, Peter Brocco and Milburn Stone.

Tagline: A DAME IN MINK…A STOLEN MILLION and a red-hot payoff in bullets!

The Plot…

Joe Peters (McGraw) is a straight-arrow insurance investigator.  He’s honest, smart and one of the best in the business.  When there’s a tough case, they call Joe Peters.  On a flight home, Joe meets Diane (Dixon).  When bad weather forces an unexpected overnight stay at a hotel, they wind up in the same room.  Joe’s attracted to Diane, but she makes it clear she wants the finer things in life.  Things Joe could never afford on his salary.

As an insurance investigator Joe gets information that passed to the wrong people would result in scores that could set a man for life.  Against his better judgment Joe decides on a one-and-done scheme.  If successful he will be a rich man and get Diane.  But if not it could mean his death.

The best laid plans…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Roadblock is one of the first movies to film in the Los Angeles River.  Other famous films using this location include Them!, Point Blank, Grease, Terminator 2 and To Live and Die in L.A.. 

Roadblock (1951) rates 3 of 5 stars.

“Follow Me Quietly” (1949) / Z-View

Follow Me Quietly (1949)

Director: Richard Fleischer

Screenplay: Lillie Hayward story by Anthony Mann, Francis Rosenwald

Stars: William Lundigan, Dorothy Patrick, Jeff Corey, Nestor Paiva, Paul Guilfoyle, Frank Ferguson, Douglas Spencer, Paul Bryar and Fred Aldrich.

Tagline: Police baffled by the FACELESS KILLER!

The Plot…

Police Lieutenant Harry Grant (Lundigan) is frustrated.  A serial killer known as The Judge has struck again.  At the crime scene a note from the killer taunting the police was found. How many more people have to die before The Judge is brought to justice?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Lawrence Tierney was scheduled to star, but off-screen antics (arrests for public intoxication and fighting) led to a change.

Follow Me Quietly (1949) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“The Crazies” (1973) written & directed by George A. Romero / Z-View

The Crazies (1973)

Director: George A. Romero

Screenplay: George A. Romero based on The Mad People by Paul McCollough

Stars: Lane Carroll, Will MacMillan, Harold Wayne Jones, Lloyd Hollar, Richard France, Ned Schmidtke, George A. Romero and A.C. McDonald.

Tagline: Why are the good people dying?

The Plot…

When a military plane crashes near a small town, the water supply is contaminated with a powerful bio-weapon.  Soon townspeople are starting to act violent towards themselves and each other.  When the military shows up the town is put on lockdown.  As more citizens and soldiers become infected, the decision to nuke the town becomes more likely.

Will anyone survive?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Romero was given a micro-budget for filming.  Most of the actors had little to no training and were locals.  Even some high school students played soldiers in hazmat suits.

The burning house was actually being used by local firefighters for a training exercise.  Romero got permission to film it.

Remade in 2010 starring Timothy (Justified) Olyphant and Radha (Pitch Black) Mitchell

The Crazies (1973) rates 3 of 5 stars.

“The Evil That Men Do” (1984) starring Charles Bronson / Z-View

The Evil That Men Do (1984)

Director: J. Lee Thompson

Screenplay: John M. Crowther, David Lee Henry based on THE EVIL THAT MEN DO by R. Lance Hill

Stars: Charles Bronson, Theresa Saldana, Joseph Maher, José Ferrer, René Enríquez, John Glover, Enrique Lucero, Roger Cudney, Joe Seneca, Conrad Hool and Raymond St. Jacques.

Tagline: Most criminals answer to the law. The world’s most savage executioner must answer to Bronson.

The Plot…

Holland (Bronson) is a retired hitman living a peaceful life on a remote beach.  When an old friend asks Holland to kill a sadistic torturer known as the Doctor, Holland initially refuses. After seeing video evidence of the number of people the Doctor has killed and maimed, Holland decides to come out of retirement for one more hit.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Jill Ireland (Bronson’s wife and co-star in many of his films) was originally slated to play the role that went to Theresa Saldana.  Ireland lobbied for Saldana to get the part.  Theresa Saldana had survived a brutal stabbing by a stalker and was looking to get back into feature films.

The Evil That Men Do is based on a book written by R. Lance Hill.  Hill also received credit as screenwriter on the film, but chose to use the penname David Lee Henry.

This is the 5th of 9th films that starred Charles Bronson and was directed by J. Lee Thompson. The films in order are: The White Buffalo (1977), St. Ives (1976), Cabo Blanco (1980), 10 to Midnight (1983), Murphy’s Law (1986), Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1987), Messenger of Death (1988) and Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects (1989).

The Evil That Men Do (1984) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“The Great Wall” (2016) starring Matt Damon & Pedro Pascale / Z-View

The Great Wall (2016)

Director: Yimou Zhang

Screenplay: Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro, Tony Gilroy story by Max Brooks, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz

Stars: Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau and Pedro Pascal.

Tagline: One of mankind’s greatest wonders. 1700 years to build. 5500 miles long. What were they trying to keep out?

The Plot…

In ancient China, William Garin (Damon) and Pedro Tovar (Pascal) lead a group of mercenaries on a mission to get gunpowder.  One night the group is attacked by a strange beast.  Only William and Tovar survive.  The next day they reach the Great Wall.  There they are taken prisoner as spies by the Nameless Order.  The Nameless Order are a trained army that stand guard at the Wall.

As William and Tovar are being questioned the call to battle is sounded.  The Wall is being attacked by thousands of monsters like the one who wiped out William’s group.  Although the Wall is fortified by soldiers using various weapons, several of the creatures make it to the top.  William and Tovar join the fight.  The monsters are driven back, but at the cost of many lives.

Because of their bravery William and Tovar are no longer prisoners.  They are free to leave.  As the Nameless Ones prepare for the next monster attack, Tovar steals kegs of gunpowder and makes his escape.  Garin is unaware of Tovar’s actions.

As the monsters prepare another attack, the Nameless Ones and Garin ready themselves for a fight to the death.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Great Wall was an epic production.  Over 100 translators were needed to provide instructions to the cast and crew.

Although most of the filming took place in China, they weren’t allowed to film on the Great Wall.

I enjoyed the inventive machinery and methods used to fight the monsters.

I went in with low expectations for The Great Wall.  It’s a fun movie if you’re looking for light adventure.

The Great Wall (2016) rates 3 of 5 stars.

RIP: Dabney Coleman

Dabney Coleman, the award-winning actor of stage and screen, died yesterday. Mr. Coleman was 92.

Dabney Coleman attended both the Virginia Military Institute and the University of Texas at Austin.  Mr. Coleman was drafted and served in the U.S. Army.  After his service, Dabney Coleman attended the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre.

In 1961, Dabney Coleman made his Broadway debut in A Call on Kupri.  That same year, Mr. Coleman appeared in an episode of Naked City.  For the rest of his career Dabney Coleman would appear on television and in feature films.

In 1987, Dabney Coleman won a Primetime Emmy as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special for his role in Sworn to Silence.  Mr. Coleman was nominated for five other Primetime Emmys: 1983 and 1984 – Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Buffalo Bill; 1988 – Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special for Baby M; 1988 – Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for The Slap Maxwell Story and 1991 – Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for Columbo.

Television appearances of Dabney Coleman include: Naked City; Armstrong Circle Theater (3 episodes); Alcoa Theater; Ben Casey; Breaking Point; Arrest and Trial; The Movie Maker; Kraft Suspense Theater (2 episodes); Dr. Kildare; The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (2 episodes); The Outer Limits (3 episodes); Bob Hope Presents Chrysler Theater (2 episodes); Hazel; The Donna Reed Show; 12 O’Clock High (2 episodes); The Fugitive (4 episodes); Please Don’t Eat the Daisies; Run for Your Life; That Girl (8 episodes); I Dream of Jeannie (2 episodes); The Flying Nun; The Invaders (2 episodes); Iron Horse; Judd for the Defense; Death Valley Days; Mod Squad; Then Came Bronson; Bonanza (2 episodes); Dan August; Nanny and the Professor; The Bold Ones: The New Doctors; Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law; Banyon; Room 222 (2 episodes); Ironside; Search; Savage; Kojak; The FBI (7 episodes); Mannix (3 episodes); Medical Center; McMillian & Wife (2 episodes); The Mary Tyler Moore Show; Cannon (2 episodes); Switch; The Streets of San Francisco (2 episodes); Police Story (2 episodes); Petrocelli; Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (148 episodes); Fernwood Tonight (2 episodes); Quincy (2 episodes); Forever Fernwood (130 episodes); The Love Boat; Apple Pie (8 episodes); Diff’rent Strokes (2 episodes); Barnaby Jones (5 episodes); Buffalo Bill (26 episodes); Fresno (6 episodes); Dolly; The Slap Maxwell Story (22 episodes); It’s Gary Shandling’s Show (2 episodes); Columbo (2 episodes); Drexell’s Class (18 episodes); Lincoln; Madman of the People (16 episodes); The Wonderful World of Disney; Recess (14 episodes); The Guardian (67 episodes); Courting Alex (13 episodes); Heartland (6 episodes); Boardwalk Empire (24 episodes); Pound Puppies (4 episodes); Ray Donovan; NCIS and Yellowstone.

Feature film appearances of Dabney Coleman include: The Slender Thread; The Scalphunters; The Trouble with Girls; Downhill Racer; Cinderella Liberty; The Towering Inferno; Black Fist; Bite the Bullet; Midway; Viva Knievel!; Rolling Thunder; Go Tell the Spartans; North Dallas Forty; How to Beat the High Cost of Living; Melvin and Howard; 9 to 5; On Golden Pond; Modern Problems; Tootsie; War Games; Cloak and Dagger; The Muppets Take Manhattan; The Man with One Red Shoe; Dragnet; Amos & Andrew; The Beverly Hillbillies; Clifford; You’ve Got Mail; Inspector Gadget; Where the Red Fern Grows and Domino.

The first time I saw Dabney Coleman on screen was probably in The Fugitive or Invaders.  But man, he sure did appear in many other shows I regularly watched.  My most memorable performance by Dabney Coleman is from 9 to 5.  He was perfect.  Of course that’s not surprising because any time you saw Dabney Coleman, you knew the program/movie would be better because of him.  It’s evidence of his talent that he could move from television to feature films or drama to comedy with ease.

Out thoughts and prayers go out to Dabney Coleman’s family, friends and fans.

“Never Let Go” starring Halle Berry – The Teaser & Trailer are Here!

Never Let Go – in theaters September 27! Starring Halle Berry, Percy Daggs, and Anthony B. Jenkins

From visionary director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, Crawl) and producers of Stranger Things and Arrival comes NEVER LET GO.

In this new psychological thriller, as an evil takes over the world beyond their front doorstep, the only protection for a mother, played by Academy Award® Winner Halle Berry (Actress in a Leading Role, 2001 – Monster’s Ball), and her twin sons is their house and their family’s protective bond. Needing to stay connected at all times – even tethering themselves with ropes – they cling to one another, urging each other to never let go. But when one of the boys questions if the evil is real, the ties that bind them together are severed, triggering a terrifying fight for survival.