Film Review – MAN OF THE WEST (1958)

MAN OF THE WEST (1958, USA, 100m, 12) ****
Western
dist. United Artists; pr co. Ashton Productions / Walter Mirisch Productions; d. Anthony Mann; w. Reginald Rose (based on the novel “The Border Jumpers” by Will C. Brown); pr. Walter Mirisch; ph. Ernest Haller (DeLuxe | 2.35:1); m. Leigh Harline; ed. Richard V. Heermance; ad. Hilyard M. Brown.
cast: Gary Cooper (Link Jones), Julie London (Billie Ellis), Lee J. Cobb (Dock Tobin), Arthur O’Connell (Sam Beasley), Jack Lord (Coaley), John Dehner (Claude), Royal Dano (Trout), Robert J. Wilke (Ponch), Joe Dominguez (Mexican Man (uncredited)), Dick Elliott (Willie (uncredited)), Frank Ferguson (Crosscut Marshal (uncredited)), Herman Hack (Train Passenger (uncredited)), Signe Hack (Train Passenger (uncredited)), Ann Kunde (Train Passenger (uncredited)), Tom London (Tom (uncredited)), Tina Menard (Juanita (uncredited)), Emory Parnell (Henry (uncredited)), Chuck Roberson (Rifleman-Guard on Train (uncredited)), Glen Walters (Train Passenger (uncredited)), Guy Wilkerson (Train Conductor (uncredited)), Jack Williams (Alcutt (uncredited)).
This psychological western sees Cooper in fine form as an ex-outlaw aboard a train when bandits rob it. When Cooper tries to intervene, he is knocked unconscious and left stranded in the middle of nowhere with a saloon singer (London) and con man (O’Connell). Cooper leads them to his nearby former home, which is now the hideout for the bandit led by his uncle (Cobb). He must re-join the old gang for one last holdup to save his friends. Mann directs with a sureness of hand and total control of the material. A strong script by Rose, adapted from a novel by Will C. Brown gives Cooper, Cobb and co plenty to get their teeth into. The cast gives excellent performances as the tension mounts between the bandits and their captives. Cooper is splendid conveying a man wrestling with a past he would rather forget, whilst Cobb is frightening as his unstable older mentor. Standout scenes include an exhausting fistfight between Cooper and Lord and a superbly staged shootout in a ghost town as Cooper looks to gain the upper hand. The result is another example of Mann’s mastery of his craft and his ability to elevate seemingly familiar material to new heights.

Film Review – THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1972)

THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1972, USA, 117m, PG) ****
Action, Adventure
dist. Twentieth Century Fox; pr co. Twentieth Century Fox / Irwin Allen Productions / Kent Productions ; d. Ronald Neame; w. Stirling Silliphant, Wendell Mayes (based on the novel by Paul Gallico); pr. Irwin Allen; ph. Harold E. Stine (DeLuxe | 2.39:1, 2.20:1 (70mm prints)); m. John Williams; ed. Harold F. Kress; pd. William J. Creber.
cast: Gene Hackman (Reverend Scott), Ernest Borgnine (Mike Rogo), Red Buttons (James Martin), Carol Lynley (Nonnie Parry), Roddy McDowall (Acres), Stella Stevens (Linda Rogo), Shelley Winters (Belle Rosen), Jack Albertson (Manny Rosen), Pamela Sue Martin (Susan Shelby), Arthur O’Connell (Chaplain), Leslie Nielsen (Captain Harrison), Eric Shea (Robin), Fred Sadoff (Linarcos), Sheila Allen (Nurse (as Sheila Mathews)), Jan Arvan (Doctor Caravello), Byron Webster (Purser), John Crawford (Chief Engineer), Bob Hastings (M. C.), Erik L. Nelson (Mr. Tinkham).
Ocean bound from New York City to Greece on New Year’s Eve, the luxury passenger ship the S.S. Poseidon is capsized by a tidal wave. With the captain (Nielsen) dead, a group of surviving passengers, led by the passionate clergyman (Hackman), struggle through numerous obstacles and a labyrinth of ladders and tunnels in a desperate attempt to reach the surface through the ship’s hull. Following 1970s AIRPORT, this was the movie that set the benchmark for the disaster cycle of the 1970s and made Irwin Allen the king of the blockbuster. The impressive all-star ensemble cast ensures investment in the characters as well as the spectacle. Hackman and Borgnine (as a former cop) are particularly impressive in their antagonistic roles, Whilst Stevens has fun as Borgnine’s reformed hooker wife. Winters gained weight, which is thoughtlessly referenced on numerous occasions by other characters, specifically for her role. Excellent production design and tight direction by Neame help make this an exciting and tense affair. Followed by BEYOND THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1979) and remade for TV in 2005 and again for theatrical release as POSEIDON in 2006.
AA: Best Music, Original Song (Al Kasha, Joel Hirschhorn for the song “The Morning After”); Special Achievement Award for visual effects (L.B. Abbott, A.D. Flowers).
AAN: Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Shelley Winters); Best Cinematography (Harold E. Stine); Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (William J. Creber, Raphael Bretton); Best Costume Design (Paul Zastupnevich); Best Sound (Theodore Soderberg, Herman Lewis); Best Film Editing (Harold F. Kress); Best Music, Original Dramatic Score (John Williams).

Film Review – FANTASTIC VOYAGE (1966)

Image result for fantastic voyage 1966FANTASTIC VOYAGE (USA, 1966) ***½
      Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox; Production Company: Twentieth Century Fox; Release Date: 24 August 1966 (USA), 14 October 1966 (UK); Filming Dates: 25 January – mid June 1965; Running Time: 100m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: CinemaScope; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: U.
      Director: Richard Fleischer; Writer: Harry Kleiner (screenplay), David Duncan (adaptation) (based on a story by Otto Klement and Jerome Bixby); Producer: Saul David; Director of Photography: Ernest Laszlo; Music Composer: Leonard Rosenman; Film Editor: William B. Murphy; Art Director: Dale Hennesy, Jack Martin Smith; Set Decorator: Stuart A. Reiss, Walter M. Scott; Costumes: Bruce Walkup, Truman Eli, Ollie Hughes (all uncredited); Make-up: Ben Nye; Sound: David Dockendorf, Bernard Freericks; Special Effects: Johnny Borgese, Greg C. Jensen (both uncredited); Visual Effects: L.B. Abbott, Art Cruickshank, Emil Kosa Jr.
      Cast: Stephen Boyd (Grant), Raquel Welch (Cora), Edmond O’Brien (General Carter), Donald Pleasence (Dr. Michaels), Arthur O’Connell (Col. Donald Reid), William Redfield (Capt. Bill Owens), Arthur Kennedy (Dr. Duval), Jean Del Val (Jan Benes), Barry Coe (Communications Aide), Ken Scott (Secret Service), Shelby Grant (Nurse), James Brolin (Technician), Brendan Fitzgerald (Wireless Operator). Uncredited: Brendon Boone (Military Policeman), Kenneth MacDonald (Henry – Heart Monitoring), Christopher Riordan (Young Scientist).
      Synopsis: A diplomat is nearly assassinated. In order to save him, a submarine is shrunken to microscopic size and injected into his bloodstream with a small crew. Problems arise almost as soon as they enter the bloodstream.
      Comment: Imaginative sci-fi memorable for its superb production design and photographic effects, which deservedly won Academy Awards. The script is solid, even if the dialogue is a little hokey at times, and provides the requisite set-pieces, helping build tension in the story. The concept of miniaturisation is fanciful, but once you get past that element there is much to enjoy in the fantasy it creates. Boyd makes for a likeable square-jawed hero and Welch adds glamour to the mix.  Capably directed by Fleischer and with an eerily discordant score from Rosenman.
      Notes: The picture marked the first major screen role for actress Raquel Welch. Won Oscars for Art Direction-Set Decoration (Jack Martin Smith, Dale Hennesy, Walter M. Scott and Stuart A. Reiss) and Special Effects (Art Cruickshank). Novelised by Isaac Asimov. Followed by an animated TV series in 1968.