A year after Robert Clouse directed Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon, he turned his attention the one and only Jim Kelly for the 1974 picture Black Belt Jones. Kelly had been in Enter the Dragon with Lee and the filmmaker picked up on his charisma, but it doesn’t exactly translate well to his own […]Read more "Black Belt Jones (1974)"
Lo Wei’s The Big Boss is often considered the first major film for the legendary Bruce Lee. Also known as Fists of Fury, this 1971 Hong Kong martial arts flick certainly does its part to showcase Lee and features plenty of ass-kicking action. Alas, much of the conversation about The Big Boss generally has to […]Read more "The Big Boss (1971)"
Directed by Arthur Lubin from a story by Jay Dratler, Impact is kind of a middling film noir. There are plenty of interesting elements, but there’s also a great deal of padding and the plot is a little too telegraphed. There are many noir tropes, including the femme fatale and the false accusations, but it’s […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: Impact (1949)"
Directed by John Boorman and based on the novel of the same name by James Dickey, Deliverance is another one of those essential 1970s films. Often considered among the first of the survival pictures, this 1972 movie can be interpreted a number of different ways but seems to carry very sure themes about civilization, survival […]Read more "Deliverance (1972)"
Freedom dies an awful lot in the films of the 1970s. With the 1960s in the rearview mirror, it’s unsurprising to find a great deal of crime and punishment in the cinematic decade that followed. Vanishing Point is yet another example, like Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, Straw Dogs and even Death Wish, of the changing winds.Read more "Vanishing Point (1971)"
A wild and crazy chase picture, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry embodies the muscle car era of the 1960s and the open road debauchery of the 1970s. Directed by John Hough, this 1974 flick is a cult classic of the drive-in movie set and for good reason. It has a loose, boozy feel throughout its 93 […]Read more "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974)"
William Friedkin’s crime thriller The French Connection is a crackerjack of a movie. It’s the first R-rated flick to win the Oscar for Best Picture and it’s one of the finest films in the genre. Mostly noted for its critical and downright dazzling chase sequence, this outing is actually a layered exercise in moving a […]Read more "The French Connection (1971)"
Re-released as Satan in Skirts, the 1944 picture Guest in the House has some distinctive noir traits but feels mostly like a parlour melodrama with elements of a psychological thriller. Lewis Milestone was the initial director, but he was replaced by John Brahm after a bout of appendicitis. He is a capable director, but it’s […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: Guest in the House (1944)"
An amusing and smart-mouthed thriller, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is an amusing and often biting picture by Joseph Sargent. This 1974 movie is based on the 1973 novel of the same name by Morton Freedgood and features a screenplay by Peter Stone. Like other crime films of the era, it paints a […]Read more "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)"
Like most exploitation films, the moral waters of Death Wish are muddy. It’s tempting to view this 1974 vigilante revenge picture as an emboldened NRA fantasy, but there’s a little more to it than that. Directed by Michael Winner, there’s certainly a case to be made for the “good guy with a gun” mentality of […]Read more "Death Wish (1974)"
The fourth entry in the Underworld series is a breezy, hard-edged action horror picture that gets in and gets out in a mere 88 minutes. Underworld: Awakening is the slightest movie in the series. It’s also lean and mean, a striking and almost Nordic example of cinematic efficiency. It perhaps stands to reason that its […]Read more "Underworld: Awakening (2012)"
It probably shouldn’t work, but Underworld: Rise of the Lycans actually manages to be an entertaining if ludicrous prequel to the Underworld series. The 2009 film is directed by Patrick Tatopolous from a screenplay by Danny McBride, Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain. The tale deals with the events before the vampire-Lycan war and runs as […]Read more "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)"
A gritty, two-fisted film noir, Kansas City Confidential is said to have at least partially inspired Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. The 1952 flick is directed by Phil Karlson with a screenplay by George Bruce and Harry Essex. Some have charted Kansas City Confidential as the genesis of several other Confidential movies from producer Edward Small.Read more "Film Noir Friday: Kansas City Confidential (1952)"
As the second entry in the series, 2006’s Underworld: Evolution certainly marks a progression from the 2003 original. It takes the compelling backstory, with its meticulous mythology, and opens things up considerably with a more satisfying finished product. This is bloody, sexy B-movie stuff, the exact sort of motion picture required for this kind of […]Read more "Underworld: Evolution (2006)"
There’s a lot of walking and movement in Underworld, the 2003 action horror movie directed by Len Wiseman, and in a lot of ways that’s the best of what this outing brings to the table. Sure, there’s a story about vampires fighting werewolves and there’s a pretty impressive mythology backing the whole thing. But for […]Read more "Underworld (2003)"
There’s a good mix of sour and sweet to be found in Mean Girls, the 2004 comedy from director Mark Waters. This is kind of an SNL film in a number of ways, with Lorne Michaels producing and Tina Fey penning the screenplay. It even features a horde of stars from the show, including Fey, […]Read more "Mean Girls (2004)"
How funny is it to watch someone get hit in the face with a dodgeball? It’s pretty funny, especially because it makes an entertaining sound as the rubber slaps against human flesh. It’s even funnier when the person falls down after getting hit. And perhaps it’s even funnier when that simple act is turned into […]Read more "DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story (2004)"
Directed and co-written by Norman Foster and based on an original story by Sylvia Tate, Woman on the Run has some terrific on-location cinematography in San Francisco even if existing transfers don’t exactly do it justice. The 1950 motion picture has the benefit of a rabbit-quick pace and a fairly straightforward story, even if it […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: Woman on the Run (1950)"
Directed by Ben Falcone, Tammy isn’t as bad as its reputation suggests and yet it still has trouble finding any footing. It contains an admirable working class quality in that it doesn’t rely on conventional standards to float its conventional road trip comedy clichés, but there’s still a lot of trouble in terms of cohesion […]Read more "Tammy (2014)"
Directed by Lloyd Bacon and featuring choreography by the great Busby Berkeley, 42nd Street is a scintillating backstage musical that builds to a tremendous set of production numbers for its last 20 minutes or so. Bacon’s picture was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in 1934 and features music by Harry Warren and Al Dubin.Read more "42nd Street (1933)"