Film Review – THE HEROES OF TELEMARK (1965)

HEROES OF TELEMARK, THE (1965, UK) ***
Action, History, War
dist. Rank Film Distributors (UK), Columbia Pictures (USA); pr co. Benton Film Productions; d. Anthony Mann; w. Ivan Moffat, Ben Barzman (based on the novels “Skis Against the Atom” by Knut Haukelid and “But for These Men” by John Drummond – both uncredited); pr. Benjamin Fisz; ph. Robert Krasker (Technicolor. 35mm, 70mm (blow-up). Panavision (anamorphic). 2.20:1 (70 mm prints), 2.35:1); m. Malcolm Arnold; ed. Bert Bates; pd. ; ad. Anthony Masters; set d. Robert Cartwright, Ted Clements (both uncredited); cos. Elsa Fennell; m/up. Neville Smallwood, Maude Onslow; sd. Teddy Mason (Mono (Westrex Recording System)); sfx. John P. Fulton; st. Gerry Crampton; rel. 23 November 1965 (UK), 9 March 1966 (USA); cert: U; r/t. 131m.

cast: Kirk Douglas (Rolf), Richard Harris (Knut Strand), Ulla Jacobsson (Anna), Michael Redgrave (Uncle), David Weston (Arne), Sebastian Breaks (Gunnar), John Golightly (Freddy), Alan Howard (Oli), Patrick Jordan (Henrik), William Marlowe (Claus), Brook Williams (Einar), Roy Dotrice (Jensen), Anton Diffring (Major Frick), Ralph Michael (Nilssen), Eric Porter (Terboven), Wolf Frees (Knippelberg), Karel Stepanek (Hartmuller), Gerard Heinz (Erhardt), Victor Beaumont (German Sergeant), George Murcell (Sturmfuhrer), Mervyn Johns (Col. Wilkinson), Barry Jones (Professor Logan), Geoffrey Keen (General Bolt), Robert Ayres (General Courts), Jennifer Hilary (Sigrid), Maurice Denham (Doctor), David Davies (Captain of ‘Galtesund’), Philo Hauser (Businessman), Faith Brook (Woman On Bus), Elvi Hale (Mrs. Sandersen), Russell Waters (Mr. Sandersen), Jan Conrad (Watchman In Factory).

As Axis and Allied scientists race to create the first atomic bomb, British Intelligence receives shocking news of significant breakthroughs at a Nazi facility in occupied Norway. The British work with Norwegian Resistance head Knut Straud (Harris) and distinguished physicist Dr. Rolf Pederson (Douglas) to plan an urgent response. As a Norwegian team headed by Straud struggles to stop Nazi science in its tracks, a civilian hostage situation erupts. An uneven war adventure, which is a disappointment from a director with a legacy such as Mann. His direction here feels loose and the editing is at times slipshod – with real black and white bomber footage jarring against the Technicolor presentation and German soldiers seemingly blind as the resistance leaders simply shuffle past them time after time. The film’s strongest assets are the leads. Douglas and Harris give strong performances in an initially antagonistic partnership that grows as the film progresses. Some of the action scenes are well-staged and there is an added tension in the film’s climax aboard a ferry. Ultimately, though, this could have been much better.

Film Review – UNFORGIVEN (1992)

Clint Eastwood and Jaimz Woolvett in Unforgiven (1992)UNFORGIVEN (USA, 1992) ****½
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Warner Bros. / Malpaso Productions; Release Date: 3 August 1992 (USA), 18 September 1992 (UK); Filming Dates: 26 August 1991 – 12 November 1991; Running Time: 131m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby (as Dolby Stereo); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: David Webb Peoples; Executive Producer: David Valdes; Producer: Clint Eastwood; Associate Producer: Julian Ludwig; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Henry Bumstead; Art Director: Adrian Gorton, Rick Roberts; Set Decorator: Janice Blackie-Goodine; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Michael Hancock; Sound: Alan Robert Murray, Walter Newman; Special Effects: John Frazier.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Bill Munny), Gene Hackman (Little Bill Daggett), Morgan Freeman (Ned Logan), Richard Harris (English Bob), Jaimz Woolvett (The ‘Schofield Kid’), Saul Rubinek (W.W. Beauchamp), Frances Fisher (Strawberry Alice), Anna Levine (Delilah Fitzgerald), David Mucci (Quick Mike), Rob Campbell (Davey Bunting), Anthony James (Skinny Dubois), Tara Frederick (Little Sue), Beverley Elliott (Silky), Liisa Repo-Martell (Faith), Josie Smith (Crow Creek Kate), Shane Meier (Will Munny), Aline Levasseur (Penny Munny), Cherrilene Cardinal (Sally Two Trees), Robert Koons (Crocker), Ron White (Clyde Ledbetter), Mina E. Mina (Muddy Chandler), Henry Kope (German Joe Schultz), Jeremy Ratchford (Deputy Andy Russell), John Pyper-Ferguson (Charley Hecker), Jefferson Mappin (Fatty Rossiter), Walter Marsh (Barber), Garner Butler (Eggs Anderson), Larry Reese (Tom Luckinbill), Blair Haynes (Paddy McGee), Frank C. Turner (Fuzzy), Sam Karas (Thirsty Thurston), Lochlyn Munro (Texas Slim), Ben Cardinal (Johnny Foley), Philip Maurice Hayes (Lippy MacGregor), Michael Charrois (Wiggens), William Davidson (Buck Barthol), Paul Anthony McLean (Train Person #1), James Herman (Train Person #2), Michael Maurer (Train Person #3), Larry Joshua (Bucky), George Orrison (The Shadow), Greg Goossen (Fighter).
      Synopsis: A retired Old West gunslinger reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner and a young man.
      Comment: Eastwood’s revisionist Western strips away the old mythology surrounding the gunfighters and the lawmen, delivering the vulnerable and violent reality of killing. The film is perfectly paced to capture the nuances in the script and the performances of a wonderful cast, with Hackman, Harris, Freeman and Eastwood all turning in note-perfect interpretations. Gentle acoustic score by Niehaus adds melancholy to the mix alongside wonderful location photography from Green utilising the beautiful landscapes of Alberta, Canada standing in for Wyoming. One of the all-time great Westerns.
      Notes: Winner of four Oscars: Best Picture; Actor in a Supporting Role (Hackman); Director and Film Editing. Only the third western to ever win the Best Picture Oscar. The other two being DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990) and CIMARRON (1931). The final screen credit reads, “Dedicated to Sergio and Don”, referring to Eastwood’s mentors, Sergio Leone and Don Siegel.

Film Review – UNFORGIVEN (1992)

Unforgiven (1992; USA; Technicolor; 131m) ****½  d. Clint Eastwood; w. David Webb Peoples; ph. Jack N. Green; m. Lennie Niehaus.  Cast: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Richard Harris, Saul Rubinek, Frances Fisher, Rob Campbell, Anthony James, Shane Meier, Jaimz Woolvett, Anna Levine, David Mucci, Tara Frederick, Liisa Repo-Martell, Beverley Elliott. A retired Old West gunslinger reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner and a young man. Eastwood’s revisionist Western strips away the old mythology surrounding the gunfighters and the lawmen, delivering the vulnerable and violent reality of killing. The film is perfectly paced to capture the nuances in the script and the performances of a wonderful cast, with Hackman, Harris, Freeman and Eastwood all turning in note perfect interpretations. Gentle acoustic score by Niehaus adds melancholy to the mix.  Winner of four Oscars: Best Picture; Actor in a Supporting Role (Hackman); Director and Film Editing. Only the third Western to ever win the Best Picture Oscar. The other two being DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990) and CIMARRON (1931). The final screen credit reads, “Dedicated to Sergio and Don”, referring to Eastwood’s mentors, Sergio Leone and Don Siegel. [15]

Film Review – THE GUNS OF NAVARONE (1961)

Image result for the guns of navarone 1960Guns of Navarone, The (1961; USA; Eastmancolor; 158m) ****  d. J. Lee Thompson; w. Carl Foreman; ph. Oswald Morris; m. Dimitri Tiomkin.  Cast: Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Stanley Baker, Anthony Quayle, Irene Papas, Gia Scala, James Darren, James Robertson Justice, Richard Harris, Bryan Forbes, Allan Cuthbertson, Michael Trubshawe, Percy Herbert, George Mikell. A British team is sent to cross occupied Greek territory and destroy the massive German gun emplacement that commands a key sea channel. Top-notch WWII action-adventure yarn with well-staged set-pieces, a strong cast and a acript that is more thoughtful than usual for the genre. Peck, Quinn and Niven deliver memorable performances. Oscar winner for Special Effects (Bill Warrington, Chris Greenham). Based on the novel by Alistair MacLean. Followed by FORCE 10 FROM NAVARONE (1978). [PG]

Film Review – THE WILD GEESE (1978)

Image result for the wild geese 1978Wild Geese, The (1978; UK/Switzerland; Eastmancolor; 134m) ∗∗∗  d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. Reginald Rose; ph. Jack Hildyard; m. Roy Budd.  Cast: Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Roger Moore, Hardy Kruger, Stewart Granger, Jack Watson, Frank Finlay, Jeff Corey, Winston Ntshona, John Kani, Jack Watson, Kenneth Griffith, Barry Foster, Ronald Fraser, Ian Yule. A British multinational seeks to overthrow a vicious dictator in central Africa. It hires a band of (largely aged) mercenaries in London and sends them in to save the virtuous but imprisoned opposition leader who is also critically ill and due for execution. Whilst this action thriller may be littered with cliches and weighed down by a by-the-numbers script, there is still much to enjoy. The lead performances are strong and the action sequences well directed. Some clumsy and dated handling of the racial politics aside this makes for diverting viewing. Based on the novel by Daniel Carney. Followed by WILD GEESE II (1985). [15]