July Film Diary

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Another fantastic movie viewing month with almost no duds! I won’t be doing mini-reviews but wanted to keep up with posting my list since it always sparks a fun discussion and great recommendations –those comments are always most welcome so fire away.

My 70’s binge continued with: Night Moves (1975), Vanishing Point (1971), The Carey Treatment (1972), Duck, You Sucker (1971), Don’t Look Now (1973), Chandler (1971, the one I liked least in this group), Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973), The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971), Badlands (1973), The Getaway (1972), The Valachi Papers (1972) and Charley Varrick (1973).

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Foreign: Solaris (1972, which I followed with the Soderbergh 2002 remake), L’Avventura (1960), Bicycle Thieves (1948), and Possession (1981) which was unreal, “If only you had seen what I saw!!” indeed.

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Apologies to Joel McCrea for only seeing one of his this month, Fort Massacre (1958). I loved John Russell in this one.

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Lots of really good crime movies: The Gangster (1947), The Long Wait (1954), The Girl Hunters (1963), The Hunted (1948), The Unknown Man (1951), World for Ransom (1954), and The Long Wait (1954).

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Horror corner: A Michael Reeves (director) double-bill with Witchfinder General (1968) and The Sorcerers (1967), Diary of a Madman (1963), The Bad Seed (1956) and a rewatch of one of my favourite modern era scaries, The Others (2001).

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Of the rest I really enjoyed: Queen Bee (1955), Billy Liar (1963), Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), The Big Gundown (1966), Assault on a Queen (1966), Harold and Maude (1971) surprisingly uplifting for a movie about death, Room (2015) and Sicario (2015), and rewatches of Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980) and The Prestige (2006).

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OK/Good: Frankie & Alice (2010), Tron Legacy (2010), Miami Vice (2006), First Man into Space (1959), Our Brand Is Crisis (2015).

Meh: Dark Shadows (2012).

The most unusual (but fascinating): The Congress (2013) an ambitious, thinky scifi with animation, about “Robin Wright” being scanned at her peak and selling the rights to her forever young actress self to a studio, in a world where people live in bliss and oblivion by looking at ugly reality through fantasy/VR filters.

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Discovery: The Great Garrick (1937) was a delightful, witty comedy directed by James Whale and starring Brian Aherne, Olivia de Havilland and Edward Everett Horton. It’s the story of a troupe of French actors who try to bring the visiting British star Aherne down some pegs by staging a nutty performance at his inn.

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19 thoughts on “July Film Diary”

  1. A lot of really great stuff here, Kristina, too much!

    Tarkovskij’s Solaris is mesmerising isn’t it? You just have to give yourself over to it. Apparently his Stalker (1979) is even better – actually it turns up on a lot of Best SF Movie lists – Thankfully there’s a blu-ray coming soonish. The existing DVDs get very poor marks and even second hand copies are exorbitantly priced.

    Possession is indeed unreal. It’s a difficult film to recommend as it deals with some incredibly raw emotional stuff, but Holy Mackerel, Isabelle Adjani, what a performance. I wish Ridley Scott had watched this film before he made Prometheus, a lot of it’s problems could’ve been ironed out if he’d borrowed it’s core concept – Evil causing insanity through it’s mere proximity.

    Night Moves might be my favourite Gene Hackman movie ever. And The Getaway might even be my favourite Steve McQueen. Cat O’ Nine Tails is excellent, great chemistry between Karl Malden, James Franciscus and the kid. It’s surprising nobody ever got the idea to turn it into a TV series.

    Can I ask a movie trivia question that’s been bugging me for years? There’s a scene in The Good The Bad And The Ugly where they visit a beleaguered fort and there’s an injured Cavalry Captain – Do you know, or if any of your readers (I bet John K knows!) can confirm if that is an uncredited James Franciscus? The timeframe works, he and Jane Fonda were together around that time and both were working a lot in Europe. The voice is dubbed obviously, but I’m sure it’s him.

    La Aventure, I keep looking at. I had the trilogy in my Amazon basket for a while and chickened out! Hahaha. It’s a bit of an investment without knowing much about them, and I’m not that familiar with Antonioni. If you get a chance I’d love to hear more on what you thought of it.

    Right, I’m off to track down The Great Garrick. Thanks as always!

    Chris B

    1. I can’t wait to see Stalker, I marked a YT copy if I get impatient but others have told me to wait for the blu too. Really Liked the original and the remake was not bad either, there were a few scenes I wish had been recreated exactly, but still a good attempt to make it accessible to people afraid of foreign movies or even thinky scifi. I liked that highway scene in Solaris 71. And if you’re accustomed to that kind of pace, focus on scenery etc, L’Avventura won’t feel much different– it was an unsolved mystery/disappearance and existential love story. I’ll soon watch the rest of that “trilogy” (La Notte, L’Eclisse), this was my first Antonioni.

      You’re so right about Prometheus, I love the look and feel of that movie but if only had Possession’s unbearable tension and terror. Possession’s Heinrich is such a fun, memorable character, and no wonder (as I read) that Adjani had a breakdown after that role, one of the most intense movies I’ve seen, well done.

      The Getaway was a fun rewatch, I’d forgotten how great it is, McQueen at his coolest. Agree on Cat’s fun crime-solving team, the show could have been The adventures of Cookie! Can’t answer that Franciscus Q without checking since it’s been awhile, hopefully someone adds their knowledge to this thread!

      Garrick is a lot of fun, and Olivia was super in it. Last week with Whale’s birthday his monster/creepy movies rightly get attention so it’s nice to see and spread the word on the other genres he did well in.

      Off to see more movies!

  2. Oh oh. I think the only film on your list that I’ve seen is Badlands, which is mesmerizing.

    Yup, I just checked your titles again, and it is the only one I’ve seen.

    For a movie blogger, I’ve sure been slacking off!

    1. One of the interesting, fascinating things about Badlands is that they do horrifying things but the movie doesn’t glamorize or judge them, it feels very real and also detached (like Spacek’s almost comically unemotional voiceover). Thanks, movie-wise I love to try pretty much everything that looks interesting! I think in the future I’ll do these more often instead of lumping them all in once a month.

  3. I know you put a lot into your writing and I would never say you should do it here when you have any reason not to but I kind of miss the “L’avventura” piece that you didn’t write. Your first Antonioni and it’s one of the key films of modern cinema–with you, I know I would have been interested in what you’d have to say there.

    Night Moves, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Duck You Sucker, Fort Massacre and World for Ransom are other films I like a lot very much among those you saw this past month. Glad you are watching so many excellent movies, Kristina.

    1. I may do a post on that, because I just watched L’eclisse (out of order but I got impatient and haven’t found my copy of La Notte yet 🙂 ). Really enjoyed both of those! Antonioni’s pace and view of settings (and where the people are in them) is really something–people come and go against the permanent landscape in ways interesting to compare with the Ozu films, here people are often shown so distant from each other or with obstacles between. Also the way Vitti is framed in L’eclisse: doorways, windows, etc. And Vitti is fascinating, glad to have discovered her.

      I had a blast with most of the 70s movies and the other couple you named. Duck You Sucker was great–random observation but I kept hearing Pierce Brosnan in Coburn’s accent there. Fun to think Coburn was almost the “man with no name!” World for Ransom was a fun adventure with that great cast, nice hero lead for Duryea. Wonderful image at the end of Night Moves with the boat and Hackman still going in circles like he did during the investigation.

      So many great movies, so little time. Thanks!

  4. What a collage of titles and genres! Some big time winner sin here. Peckinpah titles are fun. Some god 70’s flicks in there with a little Bronson for god measure. Sorcerers and Witchfinder General are a couple of cult favorites due to the director.General gets plenty of applause and Price as well but I prefer him poking fun at the genre as opposed to this outright nasty role. Yes Dark Shadows was a letdown but there has to be something said about Depp’s Barnabas putting the greatest vampire of all, Chris Lee under his vampire spell in that one scene.

    1. Witchfinder General was heavy and Price was great as intimidating villain. Shame the director died so young, WG and Sorcerers were good. Yes Lee in Dark Shadows was a welcome sight and fun appearance.

  5. James Franciscus in TGTB&TU….Chris you got me there kid!

    Kristina,so glad you caught THE BIG GUNDOWN a very
    superior Spaghetti…wasn’t that section at the woman’s
    ranch incredible,especially her scary “hired help”
    I also love FORT MASSACRE and THE HUNTED is a
    very underrated Noir.

    1. Well I for one welcome any excuse to rewatch TGTB&TU, so when I do I’ll keep my eyes peeled for JF. GUNDOWN was some tasty spaghetti, love to watch Van Cleef, liked that fabulous theme music, some socio-political comment thrown in. I haven’t seen Tom Milian in that much, and he did a nice job with this manipulator. I mentioned how much I like John Russell, nice big part in Ft. MASSACRE, so I just watched him in GAL WHO TOOK THE WEST 🙂 fun stuff! the Rashomon of western romantic comedy. HUNTED was good! Disturbing, dark stuff with Foster imprisoning the woman he doesn’t trust and is thoroughly obsessed with. Fun with an opportunity for Belita to show off her skating talent!

  6. It’s interesting that Wild East ( a Spaghetti
    Western outfit) are soon to release a Tomas Milian
    Spaghetti double bill,neither of which I have seen.
    Richard Oravitz a regular over at Toby’s Western site
    and apart from yours truly the only contributor to Toby’s
    wonderful Hannibal 8 is something of a Spaghetti Western
    expert.
    Richard’s very interesting,like myself he likes loads of trashy
    movies but like the esteemed Blake Lucas he also enjoys
    a wide variety of films including Euro Art House and Silent Cinema.
    I wish that I had the more urbane tastes of these two
    gents.
    Anyway Richard reckons THE UGLY ONES is a great
    Spaghetti with Tomas being pursued by a bounty hunter
    played by the enigmatic Richard Wyler.
    Richard is none too keen on the Wild East co-feature
    SONNY & JED which has Tomas teamed with Susan
    George as a sort of Western Bonnie & Clyde.
    Telly Savalas is the law enforcer on their case.
    All this sounds great but Richard says the film is terrible and
    by far Sergio Cobuccho’s worst Spaghetti.
    Still if in a double movie set I get one goodie and one clunker….
    to me that’s a result.
    I LOVED your take on GAL WHO TOOK THE WEST and
    sign me up to the John Russell fan club.

    1. I’ve had fun getting into essential Euro/art house lately, I like sampling all the foods at the cinema buffet (pigging out, more like). Noting those spaghettis, thanks for bringing that info over. Also saw River Lady with Yvonne, good stuff again! Hopefully this weekend I’ll do up a mid-month roundup to include those. Thanks!

  7. THE HUNTED! Love that one. 🙂 Need to see THE GREAT GARRICK, I have it here. I’ve been leery of FORT MASSACRE but since I’m also in the John Russell Fan Club (not to mention McCrea’s) I may have to try it out.

    Read this a ways back when I was “out and about” somewhere and wanted to chime in with the crowd! Your diaries are always fun reading, Kristina! (And fun viewing, too!)

    Best wishes,
    Laura

    1. Excellent, John Russell fan club is one I’m proud to be a member of! Ft. MASSACRE has McCrea as an unpleasant, complex character, good psychological western. GARRICK is a delight, so fun. Thanks!

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