It may be the most confusing movie ever made. By no means is that a good thing here. It skips right past intriguing and mystifying and right to, “What the hell is going on?” In a way, it reminded me of Scream and Scream Again; a movie where we think we know what’s happening in the beginning, and then as the scenes and endless subplots get introduced, we get lost and it all falls apart. Chandler has the look and feel of a good detective story. Starring one of my favorite character actors, the underrated Warren Oates, we are expecting a rough and tumble, edgy plot with a decent level of violence. It never comes.
Suddenly is a 1954 film directed by Lewis Allen which depicts an assassination attempt on the life of the President of the United States. Produced just nine years prior to the JFK assassination, it is impossible to not draw some comparisons, no matter how minor. But it runs a little deeper with this film starring Frank Sinatra as the lead assassin and Sterling Hayden as a proud sheriff who will try to foil the plot. The internet is a wonderful source of rumors, including one which stated that Lee Harvey Oswald watched Suddenly less than a week before his infamous deed. Others state it was his “favorite movie” and some have gone so far as to put those words in the mouth of his brother when interviewed after Kennedy’s death and even Marina herself. Like many of the conspiracy theory aspects, these go unfounded. Two books (one a biography of Sinatra, another on Oswald) have each reinforced this, but again, there is no proof—no Dallas or nearby theater schedule or TV guide listings, which would have no-doubt been discovered by now. There was also no home video at the time, so this almost absolutely rules this out. However, if you have seen the movie then you can see why a rumor such as this would not only spread, but carry weight.
Since its initial release, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure has been mercilessly attacked for being the sequel to the 1972 classic disaster film that never should have been made. Reviewers in 1979 ripped it a new one, as have most viewers, generally, in the years to follow. But how bad is it? I had a chance to view the film on TCM the other day, and I have to admit, I actually enjoyed it and didn’t think it was horrible. When you consider all the atrocious sequels to be made after the initial classic was such a blockbuster, this is pretty good in comparison. Yes, the story requires one enormous suspension of disbelief after another, but if you put that aside, we have a decent and exciting adventure movie that has the same production values as the original. The finished product is not perfect, but it is far from the nightmare people have painted it out to be.
It bothers me that Jesus has never once been portrayed actually looking like the real Jesus would have looked like two-thousand years ago. In every major Hollywood and otherwise film, we see a white man with white disciples preaching to white crowds. He would not have had light skin and flowing light-brown hair, and certainly would not have had blue eyes, Jeffrey. Jesus would have been dark-skinned—or very tan, to say the least—with dark hair, and would have been short, probably barely five-feet tall. His followers would have looked the same. Just take a look at what Arabic and Middle Eastern people look like today, and you would find what the majority of characters in the Jesus story looked like. It is also irksome that Jesus has never been performed by a Jewish actor, and from a storytelling point of view, not once have we seen a secular characterization of him as strictly a social and political revolutionary, not a religious figure. In this daring and politically correct world we live in, we can surmise that one or all three of these gripes will inevitably be fulfilled. That said, there certainly have been enough biblical films over the years to find some good ones, and for this essay, I chose to stay strictly to the ones about Jesus. Forgive me if there are any not on the list, and I did choose to go with films only in the sound era:
John Wayne is a man’s man. His movies are often packed with action and require little thinking (which can be refreshing), but sometimes, he churns in a very good performance and his film goes down in history as legendary. According to my IMDB, I have seen more than 50 of his movies, meaning if you factor out most of his early 1930’s B-level projects before becoming “The Duke”, you could say that I have seen all of his major films. However, prior to this week, that was not the case. My viewership of his movies has declined in recent years as my taste has changed slightly, but when I saw TCM was having a marathon of his, I went through the guide and saw a few that I had somehow missed so far in my lifetime.
“What’s that? A John Wayne movie you haven’t seen, Greg? Go git ’em!” my subconscious told me. So, I recorded the three films below and set out to watch them this week. However, I found that there was probably a reason why I had never seen them, though I had indeed heard of them all. They simply just aren’t that good. Not to say they are “bad”, but as stated in the title of this article, they are forgettable, to say the least. Below are reviews of three John Wayne movies that I thought were “okay”, even though I would never watch them again, and cannot really recommend them all that much, for various reasons, and mostly not even due to Wayne himself.
Back when I was a hockey writer and covered the New York Rangers, I noticed a trend in my blog posts. When the team won, I would put up a game recap, and maybe get five or six reads in the course of the next few hours. It could have been the game of the season, and no one would bother to read what I had to say. However, when the team lost, or played exceptionally bad, that same styled game recap would garner 30 or 40 hits almost instantaneously after posting. It was then that I realized that people only wanted to read negative stuff! I admit, writing a good, scathing article is immensely more fun than saying something nice. I like to think I am an extremely fair person, and I try to always give credit where credit is due, but boy, do I love to dole out a good ripping! I have taken a slightly different approach with my movie reviews, though. When I watch something amazing, I am quick to put it on here and say why I thought it was incredible. But, when I watch something that was just good, unless there was something particular about it I thought was worth mentioning, like a history-related flick, I tend to let it slip through the cracks. Then come the awful, almost unbearable movies, which I feel that I need to review as a public service. And out of all three of these categories, guess which one is the most read? You guessed it, the terrible ones!
I had not seen a new Mel Gibson film since he went off the deep end a few years ago, but because I was such a big fan of his, I could not pass up the $7.50 Blu-Ray offer at Wal-Mart for his latest flick, the action-packed Get the Gringo. Very rarely do I buy movies that I have never seen, but this was well worth the risk as I found myself enjoying it from start to finish. Before I get into a summary of the film, let’s just say that this seemed like an 80’s action movie, meaning it was completely unrealistic in premise, yet entertaining as all hell. If I had to make a comparison, I would say it was like Payback meets Lethal Weapon meets Taken, considering the different plot twists and level of violence present. It is hard to believe this was a straight-to-video release in the United States, given the extremely high production value and $20 million budget that had the special effects of a present-day Hollywood blockbuster. The fact that this movie is so little-known and un-advertised is proof positive at how far down Mel Gibson’s career has fallen due to his outbursts and tirades over the years. Had he been in good standing with Hollywood, and had production companies and distributors not been afraid to touch any of his products, this would have easily been smash hit, no doubt pulling in at least $100 million. But alas, here we are, and even all these years later, Gibson’s penance in staying away from roles has not been enough. Say what you want about him, though, this was him at his action-thriller finest, bringing back the good old days when he was on top of the world.