Tuesday, August 20, 2013

it's been 10 years today!

The Man, the Myth, The Legend was taken away from us ten years ago today!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Review: Someone Behind the Door - 1971

Someone Behind the Door
Director: Nicolas Gessner

Dr. Laurence Jefferies takes on a new patient, a man with total amnesia. He doesn’t know who he is or even his name. Dr. Laurence helps him to remember by planting all sorts of things in his presence. But Dr. Laurence isn’t the good guy thinks at first; he has a personal agenda. He doesn’t really want to help the man remember; his goal is to plant memories into the man’s head so that he can carry out Dr. Laurence revenge against his cheating wife…

I realize that the above plot description might have a couple of spoiler in it since it’s not known what Dr. Laurence is doing at first. It’s fairly obvious that he doesn’t play it totally straight though and that he has some foul play in his mind. Anthony Perkins has the perfect facial expression for such a role. We all know him from Hitchcock’s Psycho where he basically does the same thing. We don’t know what it is, but we’re sure there is something wrong.

The other part – The Man, is portrayed by Charles Bronson who also makes a good job. In some scenes he proves beyond a doubt that he’s an actor capable of playing something else than a vigilante. He seems to do this with relative ease and we’re totally convinced that he’s an amnesia case. He’s frustrated over not remembering and when Perkins plants something for him to remember he jumps at it. He SO willing to swallow everything Perkins gives him it´s almost ridiculous. He swallows the hook, line and sinker to be sure!

Bronson can’t be blamed for this though. He didn’t write the part he merely acted it as it was written. The problem is with the story and the direction. It never gets suspenseful and it never gets exciting. I think this is partly because there are not so many characters in the film. Basically there are three: Dr. Laurence (Perkins), his wife (Jill Ireland) and the man with amnesia (Bronson). There are a couple of smaller parts as well but nothing major. This means that it takes something really special to create the need tension for it to be exciting. There are a couple of movies throughout history that has managed it, but not too many.

So what we have here is a plot that is basically interesting but doesn’t work since it doesn’t create enough tension between the characters. Yet it´s nicely played in all the ways that can be asked for. We feel sorry for the man with amnesia but not enough to bond with him. The character is the most important of all but is in essence a supporting part. Come to think of it, all of the main characters are nothing less than supporting parts. There are no leads at all in this movie. Strange isn’t it?

When it’s over we don’t feel sorry for anyone. Not the man with amnesia, definitely not Dr. Laurence and not his wife. Not even her lover which is the reason for the revenging scheme in the first place. It’s a movie that should interest movie buffs, Charles Bronson and/or Anthony Perkins fans (and Jill Ireland of course). Nothing more, nothing less…


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review: Lola AKA Twinky - 1970

Director: Richard Donner
Aka: Twinky

Scott is in his middle ages, he’s thirty seven even if he on occasion claims he’s only thirty two. Anyway, he’s near his forties. He writes pornographic novels for a living. During a stay in London he meets this teenage girl that he falls in love with. She fall in love with him too of course and since the age of consent is sixteen in England they get married. Everyone says it’s a marriage bound to fail but they are both positive it’ll work out. When the couple moves back to New York they need to confront things they didn’t think about. She has to go to school for example. And when Scott gets arrested for hitting a cop and gets one month behind bars things really gets out of hand…

First of all… for me Richard Donner is the man that gave us the Lethal Weapon movies. To see such an early film by him is very interesting. It’s actually his second movie and it kind of shows. There are lots of very cliché ways to tell the story and it’s obvious that Mr. Donner has some way to go before he’ll make really good craftsmanship movies! After some TV series and TV Movies he started to make some very memorable movies though. But this is the Shrine of Charles Bronson and not Richard Donner so I won’t elaborate further on that!

Charles Bronson does the male lead in this very awkward story. It does not condemn the marriage despite their difference in age, and it does not encourage it either. It rather focuses on the problem of the marriage or the relationship altogether. The thirty seven year old porn novelist and the sixteen year old school girl do not have very much in common. And when the initial teen crush is over they have a very hard time. He needs to focus on his next book in order to get an income and she can’t help it but rants on and on about things in a teenage kind of way. To him the world is old and to her it’s a new place full of new thing to experience and to learn. In addition to that, she’s British and he’s an American.

Susan George did the part of sixteen year old Lola/Twinky. She was twenty at the time but is totally convincing as an adolescent. Charles Bronson on the other hand does one of his more strange roles here. I’ve seen quite a lot of his movies and I know that the revenge- and cop movies are just a fraction of what he did in his career. But still, this is a very odd part. I can’t say that he does something special with the opportunity, but he uses more facial expressions that usual and he seem to be genuinely in love!

This hasn’t gone down in history neither as a lost Richard Donner nor a Charles Bronson classic and it’s not hard to figure out why. But still, as a fan one Charles Bronson I found it uplifting to watch and even if the story is kind of naive it was very watchable. Not this particular release though, it sucks big time! There must be a better quality release out there! If not, someone better release one! I bet there are movie buffs out there dying to catch this obscure film already! It might not be a classic but it’s certainly a gem worth watching among some of us!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Review: Cold Sweat - 1970

Cold Sweat
Director: Terence Young

Joe Martin hasn’t always been the quiet man he is today. He hasn’t always had a boat and made a living taking tourists out on fishing trips. He hasn’t always had a wife and a twelve year old stepdaughter. Once upon a time he was in the military and has an even more complicated story than he wish to tell his wife. It turns out that he was one of four who escaped from a prison and that someone got killed during the escape. Joe, who didn’t want anything to do with the others violence fled the scene and let the other take the fall. Now they’re back with a vengeance and blackmail him into helping them with a heroin trade. Now he got no choice as his wife and daughter life are at stake.

Terence Young might be most known for the Bond films Dr. No and From Russia With Love and that ought to count for something. I mean, there is obviously ability in making movies there. In my opinion Dr. No might be the best Bond film of all times so you’d understand if I have high hopes for this one! And I actually saw it some years ago thiking it was a very good Bronson film! I told you already that me and a couple of friends of mine made it out business to see as many movies starring Charles Bronson as we could find, but I think this was one of those that we didn’t find for rental. This was shown on Swedish TV though. That’s how I remember it anyway.

I remember it as one of the better ones and considering we saw thirty or so of them that’s pretty good. Since I opened the shrine I made it my business to watch all of them again, and preferably more of them. There are different ways to get them these days, making it much easier to get. In short, we have the internet! Therefore I was a bit disappointed by this! It’s not a bad film in any way, but there is not so much of Charles Bronson in it. Liv Ullman steals the show totally actor wise (even though her English pronunciations are pretty bad) and James Mason is really good too! There are a few other supporting cast as well but I won’t get into them here. Except for Jill Ireland as a Hippie of course… All great actors!

But I can only take so much of case chases! I have a hard time watching the very long scene where Joe (Bronson) drives the serpentines with the police at his heals. I can’t stand the engine sound and can’t stand that the tires squeal at every turn. It doesn’t matter if there’s asphalt or sand. Plus that it’s very sloppy made. There are supposed to be three people in the car but at times I can only see the stunt driver. I might not have 20-20 vision but even if there in fact are three people (or dummies or whatever) and I don’t see it it’s still a failure!

And then there is the thing of the pace. It’s not very well edited. Much of the main suspense centers around Bronsons need to make it in time by car. But the scenes are so slow and dull that the fast driving doesn’t really matter, it’s still boring. So… Great acting and basically a great storyline with kidnapping, blackmailing and revenge but sloppy made – and not enough of Bronson


Friday, March 22, 2013

Review: Chino aka The Valdez Horses - 1973

Aka: The Valdez Horses
Director(s): John Sturges, Duilio Coletti

Chino Valdez is a lone horse breeder. This is partly by choice and partly because he is a so called half-breed. He’s unwelcomed almost wherever he goes. He has a few sanctuaries though; one is with the Indians where he spent a lot of time. He knows the way of nature and he’s a master horseman. One day a youngster named Jamie comes to him looking for work and a roof over his head. Chino tells him to keep looking elsewhere and that he has no need for ant help, he can manage on his own. But some way the two starts to like each other, almost like father and son. Chinos arch enemy – a mighty ranch owner which goes out of his way to make Chinos life miserable has a sister, Catherine. She plans to buy a Valdez horse from Chino and they end up falling in love with each other, something that is not easily forgiven by the brother who will stop at nothing to keep the two apart.

This edition has a pretty poor transfer of the film. I don’t know which the best to have is, but I figure that we’re never going to see a really good BD of this film. That’s a shame really since it has a lot of quality scenes in it! I’m not generally too fond of westerns even if I fancy a few of them of course, mainly the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns. European westerns are so superior to their American equivalents in my mind. This isn’t any film that comes up to the dirty standards of Leone but it’s still rather non-glorified when it comes to the violence and the heroism. It’s more realistic so to speak. I would have liked to call it non-romanticized but since there’s clearly an important love story to be told here I can’t really do that!

In fact, towards the end I even cry a few tears when… No, I won’t tell you what happens, but it’s quite emotional for me I can tell you! Most of the film is about injustice and racist bullshit. Chino seems to get into trouble most of the time, but I figure that it isn’t his fault. Yet he gets to take the blame with the law. I figure that this is because of the racist bullshit the film tries to tell. As far as I am concerned they try to show us just how stupid racism really is. I bet the color of our blood is the same if we’re red, yellow, white, black or blue. I bet our organs look the same too! And I bet that out feelings are the same!

Charles Bronson does the part as the half-breed great! He’s just as masculine as we’re used to see him! He might have the looks to suit a Mexican half-breed too but I think it’s mainly acting skills! Nothing will break him and the degradation is everyday life for him. Yet he can’t take it! He absolutely refuses to let them break him! His integrity is enormous! But what did you expect me to write? After all this is The Shrine…

Jill Ireland, Charles Bronsons real life wife, plays the supporting part of Catherine. You can tell that there are some real emotions going on, absolutely stunning casting! But of course, as we all know, this was neither the first nor the last time them played in the same movie!

So…we’re about to come to the bottom line here. Is this a good film? Yes! I like it a lot! Bronson once again plays the character that will not break. He would rather stand up for his cause and die trying that to give up! Or will he?