Hey Twilight Time fans, it's that time of the month. This is a combination of this month and June's titles which I neglected to review last month. Sorry about that. Also, thrown in for good measure is a few odds and ends from other another label that should be of interest or not depending your tastes. You decide so let's get down to it!
"The Mechanic" Starring Charles Bronson, Jan-Michael Vincent and Keenan Wynn Directed By Michael Winner 1972/R/1 Hour 40 Minutes./Aspect Ratio: 1:85.1/English DTS-HD 1.0 Special Features: Isolated Score Track of Jerry Fielding's score/ Audio Commentary with Cinematographer Richard H. Kline and Film Historian Nick Redman / Original Theatrical Trailer.
This is one of the more outstanding films of the 1970's and without question one of Charles Bronson's greatest films. A sparse, razor sharp action thriller of the tallest order stars Bronson as Arthur Bishop, a meticulous, merciless and professional assassin who is nothing short of the best who is under the employ of a mysterious benefactor (Keenan Wynn). When Bishop gets the call for his latest job which is to virtually eliminate his benefactor which he does unwittingly despite his loyalty to him. Soon after a young man named Steve (Jan-Michael Vincent, "Airwolf" in a great performance) comes calling, the rather reluctantly takes the young upstart under his wing and train him as to be his student assassin. They develop a strong bond, but there is a twist that even Bishop himself doesn't see coming and without a doubt, one of the more surprise and shocking endings that makes this film a pure classic. The film is one of my absolute favorites and there are many reasons why. Bronson is brilliant here with a quiet and patient demeanor that would resonate in his "Death Wish" films later on, but nowhere near as great as this. Vincent is the perfect foil matching Bronson in every way and I doubt that any other actor at the time could've matched Bronson's intensity than Vincent. The script by Lewis John Carlino is terrific and should be a blueprint on how to write solid action thrillers in this day in age with exceptional directing by Winner. The film was of course remade with Jason Statham in the lead role and as good as that film was, it really pales to this version in everyway. If you want to see The Mechanic, this is definitely the one to see! Major thumbs up! A Classic (*****)
"Brannigan" Starring John Wayne, Judy Geeson, Richard Attenborough and John Vernon Directed By Douglas Hickox 1975/PG/1 Hour 51 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 2:35.1/English DTS HD 1.0 Special Features: Isolated Score Track / Audio Commentary with Actress Judy Geeson and Film Historian Nick Redman / Judy Geeson’s “Behind the Scenes” Home Movie Footage / Original Theatrical Trailer
One of John Wayne's next to last films as an actor features him in a fun, fish out of water role of a tough Chicago cop Brannigan, who's on the trail of a Chicago mobster (John Vernon, National Lampoon's Animal House) who has literally skipped town...to London, England! When Brannigan arrives, he's met with some reservation on his search for the mobster by Scotland Yard and their commander (Richard Attenborough, The Sand Peebles) and is matched wits by a beautiful and tough Detective-Sergeant (Judy Geeson). However, things turn worse when the mobster himself is abducted and Brannigan and the reluctant Scotland Yard troops are forced to work together to bring these criminals to justice. The film isn't one of Wayne's best, but easily enjoyable of his non-Western works in which the Don Siegel directed "The Shootist", would be Wayne's final swan song as an actor and a great way to end it with a Western. This film is somewhat like the cool and enjoyable "McQ" which was loads of fun and great to see Wayne as a different type of role and continues it here with gusto and bravado. Geeson is a great foil to match Wayne and a great casting choice and the fact that she's very sexy helps matters. With wonderful cinematography and a fine score by Dominic Frontiere, "Brannigan" is a first class entertainment that fans of Wayne will enjoy. Thumbs up. (***1/2)
"Radio Days" Starring Michael Tucker, Julie Kavner, Mia Farrow, Seth Green, Jeff Daniels, Dianne Wiest, Danny Aiello and Josh Mostel Directed By Woody Allen 1987/PG/1 Hour 27 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 1:85.1/English HD DTS 1.0 Special Features: Isolated Music & Effects Track / Original Theatrical Trailer
One Woody Allen's most enjoyable and underrated comedies (okay I'll admit that I really hated this film at first, but after endless viewings on HBO, it's become one of my favorites along side "Manhattan" and "To Rome With Love") which revolves around Allen's youth growing up in the early 1940's in Rockaway, New York through the eyes of a very young Seth Green (in his debut) in which he shares experiences with his rather eccentric family (Tucker, Kavner, Wiest and Mostel) living under the same room. The film also revolves around the personalities that are on the radio and the behind the scenes shenanigans that ensue through which involve a mousy, but ambitious cigarette selling singer named Sally (Farrow) and many of the other radio personalities that make up the glamourous world of radio. The film is easily one of Allen's most light and enjoyable comedies he's ever done and really hasn't matched that since to be quite honest and really one his most down to Earth films that is very realistic and just spending time with this family is enough to drive yours nuts in a good way. The film is well written and well shot by Carlo DiPalma with some excellent performances by Tucker, Kavner, Green and especially alot of the supporting cast that includes Wiest as Aunt Bea who really wants to get married, Aiello as a hitman who falls for the mousy Farrow to advance her career and many others that make up this fine ensemble. Not one of Woody Allen's greatest films, but "Radio Days" is easily his most sparse and truly enjoyable without question. Thumbs up (****)
"Violent Saturday" Starring Victor Mature, Ernest Borgnine, Richard Egan, Lee Marvin, Sylvia Sydney, Maragret Hayes Directed By Richard Fleischer 1955/Not Rated/1 Hour 31 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 2:55.1/English HD DTS 5.1/Special Features: Isolated Score Track / Audio Commentary with Film Historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman.
A true classic of the cinema with great visuals and a fine cast that really brings out the best of what the Golden Age of cinema and especially for crime dramas. The film features some of the most iconic Hollywood actors of that era in a noir film that revolves around pitting a trio of vicious bank robbers against a small Arizona mining town riddled with secret sins, adulterers, alcoholics, voyeurs, and thieves that makes it really hard for these thieves to make out with their own lives in tact along with their precious loot. The film is revered amongst classic movie fans as well as action films for its' spectacular Cinemascope and great performances from Mature, Brognine and especially Marvin as a great iconic bad guy of the piece. The film is rock solid and enjoyable for its type and fans of the film will no doubt cherish this release. "Violent Saturday" is definitely a lean, mean crime drama that would be the influence of latter films such as "Bonnie And Clyde", "Heat", "Thief" and "Collateral". Thumbs way way up! (*****)
"Born Yesterday" Starring Broderick Crawford, Judy Holliday and William Holden Directed By George Cukor 1950/Not Rated/1 Hour 43 Minutes/Black & White/Aspect Ratio: 1:33.1/English 1.0 DTS-HD MA/Special Features: Isolated Score Track / Original Theatrical Trailer
Charming and delightful comedy that has inspired a wealth of intellegent comedy films in the years after. The film based on Garson Kanin's hit play stars Crawford as a crooked loudmouth junk Tycoon named Harry Brock who heads to Washington D.C. in order to bribe a congressman or several of them. On his trip, he brings his ditsy mistress Billie Dawn (Holliday, who won an Oscar in her greatest performance) a Sleeping Beauty mentally who hangs around looking pretty for Brock. When Brock is embarassed at how Billie's mental state is, he hires a newspaper reporter Paul Verrall (William Holden) to reform herself into a well rounded person both physically and mentally. Soon Billie falls for her tutor and has really gained the self confidence to find out the truth about Harry and the crook that he really is.The film was nominated for several Oscars with Holliday winning for Leading Actress and the film was remade in the early 1990's by Disney which was directed by Luis Mandoki with Oscar Nominee Melanie Griffith in Holliday's Oscar Winning role and with both John Goodman and Griffith's ex-husband, Don Johnson filling the roles of both Crawford and Holden respectively. This film is proof as to why some films shouldn't be remade and if you want to seek Born Yesterday this is the definitive version of it eventhough the remake isn't entirely bad, but misguided that's for sure. A very charmed thumbs up for this film (****)
"The Train" Starring Burt Lancaster, Paul Scofield, Jeanne Moreau, Michel Simon Directed By John Frankenheimer 1964/Not Rated/2 Hours 13 Minutes/Black & White Aspect Ratio: 1:66.1/English English 1.0 DTS-HD MA/Special Features: Isolated Score Track / Audio Commentary with Film Historians Julie Kirgo, Paul Seydor, and Nick Redman / Audio Commentary with Director John Frankenheimer / Original Theatrical Trailer
This is one of Director John Frankenheimer's best films that followed great thrillers such as The Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days In May that made him a go to director for action oriented thrillers. "The Train" stars Lancaster as a French train worker given the responsibility with ensuring that a cargo of irreplaceable French art which are irreplaceable and soul of his nation is not allowed to leave France, despite the devious plotting of a Nazi officer (Paul Scofield), determined to steal these great works for Germany in honor of his homeland. A superbly shot and masterfully directed film featuring a memorable score by the late Maurice Jarre, The Train is an exciting and thrilling film that wouldn't be dared to be made today unless you count "Unstoppable" starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine and "Runaway Train" starring Jon Voight and Eric Roberts, which are in the same vein but don't share the same story. Frakenheimer had a gift of utilzing his locations and actors perfectly and this film firmly cemented him as great directors of the 60's and continued his mastery until his passing in the early 2000's. The Train is a suspenseful and intense film not to be missed! Thumbs way way up (****)
"Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison" Starring Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr Directed by John Huston 1957/Not Rated/1 Hour 46 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 2:35.1/English 2.0 DTS-HD MA/Special Features: Isolated Music & Effects Track / Fox Movie Tone News / Original Theatrical Trailer
This nice little drama stars Mitchum as a no-nonsense Marine and as a dedicated nun stranded on a South Pacific island overrun by hostile Japanese forces during World War II. This rather mismatched couple are at odds at first, but as their plight continues, their relationship grows even stronger as they start to trust and depend on each other to ensure that they survive their ordeal. The film is a rather interesting one that features a nice script by Huston and John Lee Martin with appealing performances by the gruff Mitchum and the lovely Kerr who play perfectly off each other beat for beat that you start to actually root for them to survive in the end. A wonderfully shot film by Oswald Morris that is perfectly captured in this aspect ratio and a stunner on Blu-Ray. Affectionate thumbs up (***1/2)
"Resurrected" Starring David Thewlis Directed by Paul Greengrass 1989/Not Rated/1 Hour 32 Mintues/Aspect Ratio: 1.78.1/English 2.0 DTS-HD MA/Special Features: Isolated Music & Effects Track / Paul Greengrass on “Resurrected” / David Thewlis on “Resurrected"
Resurrected is acclaimed "Bourne Supremacy", "United 93" and "Captain Phillips" director Paul Greengrass' directorial debut that stars David Thewlis as a Falklands soldier who turns up alive after being presumed dead and accorded a military funeral with full honors. The film was shot pretty much like Greengrass directed his films of late, in a documentary styled setting that does give you a lasting impact. The film is at times tough to watch and it is heartbreaking at times. I also found it a little too much to take. The plight of this many going through this situation is just a rough go and while the film does make a good impact and will for fans of Greengrass' work, the average viewer might be a little put off by this film. Thewlis is brilliant and unforgettable but I can't quite recommend it all that much despite it's positive aspects because it feels a bit of a put off and a little too depressing for my liking. A reluctant thumbs down with admiration for both Thewlis and Greengrass (**1/2)
"Save Your Legs" Starring Stephen Curry and Damon Gameau Directed By Boyd Hicklin 2012/Not Rated/1 Hour 32 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1/English 5.1 DTS-HD MA/Special Features: Isolated Music & Effects Track / Audio Commentary with Director Boyd Hicklin, Producers Robyn Kershaw & Nick Batzias, and Actors Stephen Curry, Brendan Cowell & Damon Gameau / Save Your Legs!: The Documentary / Bound 4 India with Ted & Col / Original Theatrical Trailer
This entertaining little Australian import is based loosely on a true story of an Aussie cricket team filled with aging players led by best friends Teddy (Stephen Curry), Rick (Brendan Cowell) and Stavros (Damon Gameau) who engineer an “international tour” for their stumbling club, focusing on three matches in exotic, cricket-mad India and a chance to meet their idol, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.The film is a slight and engaging comedy that is nicely photographed and has a rather unique perspective on the sport of cricket that I've never seen before. The rest, however does fall into the trap of the fish out of water tourist traps and hijinks that you've seen in films such as Road Trip, Eurotrip, National Lampoon's European Vacation, The Darjeering Limited and even, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. There's alot to like here and alot that feels that you've been down this road before. I can't quite recommended because the films I mentioned have a decided edge on tourist hijinks. Not to say this is a bad film because it certainly isn't, not just a strong one to recommend. Affectionate thumbs down (**1/2)
"The Man From Laramie" Starring James Stewart,Arthur Kennedy, Donald Crisp and Cathy O'Donnell Directed By Anthony Mann 1955/Not Rated/1 Hour 42 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1/English 5.1 DTS-HD MA/Special Features: Isolated Music & Effects Track / Original Theatrical Trailers
Stunning and brilliant Western that is finally seen in its original aspect ratio which makes a tremendous difference for this classic film that stars the great James Stewart as Will Lockhart, a determined gunslinger with a personal agenda. Determined to avenge the death of his brother, he stumbles into a host of family problems when he encounters the troubled Waggoman clan. The mysterious Lockhart delivers supplies to storekeeper Barbara Waggoman (O'Donnell) at the an isolated town in Apache country named Coronado. Before long, he's tangled with Dave Waggoman, vicious son of autocratic rancher Alec and Barbara's cousin. He decides to stick around and his presence becomes a catalyst for changes in people's lives while searching for someone he doesn't know who's been selling rifles to the Apaches as well as his brother's murderer. The film is the quintessntial Western and beautiful remastered in this special release by the label. It is a stunning film to look at and Stewart has never been better here. His performance is spot on and O'Donnell is the perfect positive foil for his quest for vengeance. This is a film that would go on to influence the great Clint Eastwood film, "Unforgiven" which was also shot beautifully and the tone is just spot on like this film truly is. One of Twlight TIme's greatest achievements and surely a classic of their great catalog that deserves alot of attention. Brilliant. Thumbs way way way up! (*****)
Onto the odds & ends:
"Open Grave" Starring Sharlito Copley, Joseph Morgan/Josie Ho Cinedigm/2013/R/1 Hour 42 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 2:40.1/English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
This low rent and disappointing thriller stars "District 9" star Copley as a man named John who is found in a pit with no memory and then finds himself stuck with a group of strangers who also don't know what the heck is going on. As each starts to regain their memories of happend before their sudden amnesia, the film turns into a dark corridor for death and betrayal as they try to figure out why each was chosen to be in this unknown place for what purpose. This is a sloppily made film that basically a remake of the film "Unknown" that starred Person of Interest's Jim Caviezel, Greg Kinnear, Joe Pantoliano, Barry Pepper, and Law & Order's Jeremy Sisto that had the very same plot and was well executed by director Simon Brand and a tightly edited film with a somewhat shocking ending to the proceedings. There's nothing positive about this film in the least to be honest. A definite baddie that lamely steals from this film and in fact should be sued for ripping off a better film. (*)
Well, that's it for Twilight Time for this month. Stayed tuned for their next upcoming batch which should be just as great as the rest. Till then the Blu-Ray player is now off!
To Recap the titles I've reviewed:
The Man From Laramie/Thumbs Way Way Up
The Train/Thumbs Up
The Mechanic/ Thumbs Way Way Up
Save Your Legs/Thumbs Down
Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison/Thumbs Up
Radio Days/Thumbs Up
Born Yesterday/Thumbs Up
Violent Saturday/Thumbs Way Way Up
And Thumbs way way way down for "Open Grave". Save Your Money on that one!
All of the titles mentioned are available (except for Open Grave) are available by Twilight Time via Screen Archives Entertainment @ http://www.screenarchives.com/display_results.cfm?category=546 . Also check out SAE's extensive soundtrack selection which is one of the best.
Till next time! Happy viewing!