Wave Goodbye to ‘Manos: The Hands of Fate’

I’m sure you’ll be renting your clothes in anguish thrilled beyond words interested to know that this is the very last part of the movie Manos: The Hands of Fate!

And, according to Wikipedia, it really is one of the worst movies ever! 🙂

Ironically, The Worst Movie Ever! didn’t make the list!

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Posted in B-Movies, Horror, Public Domain Movies, Saturday Matinee, Serial Shorts, Trailers | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

My Review of ‘Bad Day at Black Rock’ (1955)

I’m extremely pleased to submit this review as part of The Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn Blogathon being hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. To access the blogathon page click the link above or the image below.

This movie is a thriller cleverly disguised as a Western. It has also been said to contain film noir elements. These things are all true.

The year is 1945. The setting: the isolated Southwestern desert town of Black Rock. For the first time in ages, the train stops and lets a mysterious one-armed stranger off. The man is John J. Macreedy (played by Spencer Tracy) and, from the moment he leaves the train, you can tell he means business.

Macreedy seeks a man named Komoko, but his inquiries with the residents lead to nothing but trouble. In fact, everyone in this tiny community (with the exception of a few hardy souls) becomes hostile at the mention of Komoko’s name. Needless to say, all this hostility leads Macreedy to wonder why. So he pokes around some more, trying to figure that out. This gives him a bit of a reputation, and since the townsfolk are too stupid to play it cool worried about what he’ll discover, their hostility level toward Macreedy rises. To the point where it becomes deadly for him to hang around until the next train comes through.

Spencer Tracy’s performance in this film is an understated triumph. Macreedy may be a one-armed man, but he’s hardly incapable of defending himself—whether in verbal or physical conflict. And the townsfolk trying to thwart this search include such heavy hitters as Robert Ryan (their de facto leader), Lee Marvin, and Ernest Borgnine.

The script for this film is also a gem. Here are some of the zingers:

First Train Conductor: Man, they look woebegone and far away.
John J. Macreedy: Oh, I’ll only be here twenty-four hours.
First Train Conductor: In a place like this, it could be a lifetime.

John J. Macreedy: I got a problem of my own.
Doc T.R. Velle Jr. (played by Walter Brennan): You sure have, they’re going to kill you with no hard feelings.
John J. Macreedy: And you’re going to sit there and let ‘em do it.
Doc T.R. Velle Jr.: Don’t get waspish with me, mister.
John J. Macreedy: Oh, I’m sorry, I, uh …
Doc T.R. Velle Jr.: Yeah, well, I feel for you, but I’m consumed with apathy. Why should I mix in?

Reno Smith (played by Robert Ryan): My name’s Smith. I own the Three Bar Ranch. I want to apologize for some of the people in town.
John J. Macreedy: Act like they’re sitting on a keg.
Reno Smith: A keg? Of what?
John J. Macreedy: Heh-heh, oh, I don’t know. Diamonds? Gunpowder?
Reno Smith: Oh, it’s nothing like that. We are suspicious of strangers, is all. Hangover from the old days, the Old West.
John J. Macreedy: I thought the tradition of the Old West was hospitality.
Reno Smith: I am trying to BE hospitable, Mr. Macreedy.

Reno Smith: She must have strained every muscle in her head to get so stupid.

Coley Trimble (played by Ernest Borgnine): You’re a yellow-bellied Jap lover! Am I right or wrong?
John J. Macreedy: You’re not only wrong. You’re wrong at the top of your voice.

So much for the hospitality of the Old West. And without giving away what happens, I’ll just say the story represents a triumph of brain over brawn, and of intelligence over ignorance.

It’s also interesting to note the small but significant roles played by Anne Francis and John Ericson, who would go on to become partners on television in Honey West.

This movie received deservedly high acclaim from the critics and did well at the box office. It delivers a taut, well-written, and well-presented story in an economical 81 minutes. The movie is a must-see for fans of modern Westerns, thrillers, and film noir, because it has something for all of you.

Posted in Blogathan, Movie Reviews, Thriller, Westerns | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Part Five of ‘Manos: The Hands of Fate’

Hello all! I’m sure you’re outraged disgusted depressed delighted to see that it’s time for Part Five of the baddest (and not in a good way) B-movie I’ve ever had the displeasure to see.

It’s none other than Part Five of Manos: The Hands of Fate! 🙂

Posted in B-Movies, Bad Movies, Horror, Saturday Matinee, Serial Shorts | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

My Review of ‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week’ (2016)

I recently had the pleasure of seeing this documentary. It was more than just a trip down memory lane.

The film follows the Beatles from 1962 to 1966, that period of touring frantically and being mobbed by screaming girls. Much of the footage was originally shot on 35mm film, but has been digitally restored to magnificent 4K resolution.

This movie manages to capture the sheer madness of Beatlemania as it swept the globe.

Not to mention the overwhelming effect it had on the four lads from Liverpool—a working-class town where becoming a musician wasn’t high on most young men’s career choices.

Each one of the group members have interviews, two of which are obviously posthumous. There’s something particularly bittersweet about those interviews with John Lennon and George Harrison.

More than that, what impressed me most was how Paul McCartney described his close relationship with John. You see them writing songs together, in those quiet moments when they can create the music.

I was also extremely impressed with the way the band handled press conferences. They came off cheeky, but not obnoxious. They poked fun as much of themselves as anything else. This got a bit harder toward the end of the touring period. For reasons that become pretty obvious.

You also see the group (behind the scenes and on stage) transform from a close-knit foursome, engaging in antics and having fun, to four people in identical suits and haircuts trying to find their own identities, despite the pressures of fame.

I was impressed with how much the group acted as a team. They voted on all positions the band would take and adopted them only by unanimous vote. Including their bewildered response to racial segregration in the States and refusal to perform before a segregated audience.

The movie had numerous great behind the scenes moments, interspersed with performance footage and scenes from the first two movies.

And although being a Beatle would eventually lose its charm, for those who grew up living the experience, listening to the music was nothing less then euphoric. The legacy of Beatlemania was captured well, not only in the concert footage, but in interviews with people of different races and ethnicities who were enraptured with the group when they were young.

What other movie have you seen recently where the audience sang along with the closing song—“Eight Days a Week”—and knew all the words?

This film a must-see for music lovers! 🙂

Posted in Documentaty, Movie Reviews | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Part Four of ‘Manos: The Hands of Fate’

Hello and happy Saturday! 🙂 It’s time again to brave endure enjoy another viewing of the latest Saturday Matinee feature.

Yes, I’m sorry but, it’s time for Manos: The Hands of Fate, Part Four! 🙂

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My Thoughts About ‘La La Land’ (2016)

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I finally got around to seeing this movie. And while I cannot properly call this a review (I gave up watching at about the 30 minute mark), I will share my thoughts about why I couldn’t watch it.

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I know this is a musical, there’s something about large crowds of people dancing and singing in the midst of a Los Angeles traffic jam that strikes me as a wee bit … overly joyous? Let’s make that sugary to the point of cloying. Had it lasted longer than it did, I might have developed the world’s first acute case of diabetes.

Emma Stone plays aspiring actress Mia Dolan, who has the audacity to give Sebastian Wilder, aspiring jazz pianist (played by Ryan Gosling), the finger when he honks at her when she doesn’t move with the flow in the above-mentioned traffic jam. Sebastian, naturally, slows down long enough to give her the stink eye, but miraculously no one honks at him. I guess they’re all too busy practicing auditions in their heads, since everyone in LA wants to go into show business—apparently.

I made it through this saccharine scene (thinking all the while, “It is, after all, a musical”), and what followed was pretty much what I expected. Mia auditioning and failing to land parts—although, the parka was an unexpected touch—while Sebastian played heartfelt jazz piano to a restaurant full of people who just came to eat.

Mia lives in an apartment she could never afford on a barista’s salary with other women who talk her into going to a party. Although these women apparently don’t appear anywhere else in the movie, they do give Mia the opportunity to pretend to be in Sweet Charity.

Mia ends up leaving the party and, while passing by above-mentioned restaurant, hears Sebastian tinkling the ivories and is mesmerized. For the horrible transgression of not playing Christmas carols during the holiday season like probably 1,000 restaurants all over LA are doing, Sebastian is fired. He brushes by Mia as she tries to compliment his playing. At this point, it should be obvious to the viewer that Mia and Sebastian will end up together, since minor-league road rage is now the new form of meet-cute—apparently.

Months later (which are mercifully condensed with a cut to a party and the superimposed words “6 months later”), Mia just happens to be at yet another party where Sebastian is playing keyboard with a band that either specializes in 80s hits or is playing contemporary music in a film set during the 80s. I can’t remember if they said, and I don’t care. It’s after this party that Mia and Sebastian do that little dance in the twilight that provides the iconic image in this photo.

Two major things made me decide to give up on this film. As awesome as Emma Stone is at acting, she is not a professional dancer. The same can be said of Ryan Gosling. Nothing made this more painfully obvious than watching Gosling fling himself through the air in this dance scene. He looks less like a Gene Kelly than a third-rate Bruce Lee.

The second—and bigger—problem for me was the alleged chemistry between these two. I just wasn’t feeling it. The actors were very sweet, but I couldn’t sense any real spark between them. So … kind of sweet, but flat as old ginger ale.

With all due respect to the amazing cinematography and choreography (and they were absolutely amazing), if you’re going to watch an old-fashioned musical, watch a real old-fashioned musical.

Let’s see Emma Stone do that in heels!

Now that’s chemistry! And that’s a proper leap! 🙂

PS: I’ll leave you with these.

Posted in Movie Reviews, Musicals, Romantic Comedy-Drama | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Part Three of ‘Manos: The Hands of Fate’

Yes, folks. It’s time again for another part of this … thing they call a movie.

As ridiculous as this movie is, it serves as an example of just how important good screenwriting and plotting is.

As so, for your astonishment horror amazement amusement, here’s Part Three of Manos: The Hands of Fate! 🙂

And may God have mercy on my soul. 🙂

PS: In much better news, the Czar of Noir Meets Batman!

 

Posted in B-Movies, Saturday Matinee, Serial Shorts | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments