What was the last movie you saw?

Bloody Birthday (1981)

Three babies are born during a total solar eclipse. Ten years later, they go on a killing spree.

That's about all the plot you need in this "evil children" variation on the slasher theme. Of note is the fact that some of the killings are simple (gun, bludgeoning with a baseball bat) and some are weirdly elaborate (arrow shot through a hole in a closet.) The three young actors manage to convince the viewer that they're coldblooded killers.

Dude, that movie was intense! It had this super dark, gritty vibe that just really got under your skin, you know? Like, the whole time you're watching it, you just feel this constant sense of unease and tension.
From the sublime,

Oppenheimer (2023) dir. Christopher Nolan; starring Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt


I probably don’t need to say much here about this one.

To the also sublime,

American Fiction (2023) dir. Cord Jefferson; starring Jeffrey Wright, John Oritiz, Erika Alexander, Sterling K. Brown

Top notch cast given excellent material to work with, including a brief appearance of Tracee Ellis Ross. Thelonious “Monk” Ellison (Wright) is a writer who has published some novels but finds his latest being unaccepted by his publisher. He’s a vainglorious, snarky guy with a chip on his shoulder at the beginning of the movie. The life hits him in the face: His sister dies, his mother is showing signs of dementia, his brother’s life is falling apart, and what he sees getting published instead of his are books he considers trash. So he writes some trash. The consequences lurch between very funny and rather sad.

Really good movie, and too bad for Wright that his performance came up against Murphy and Oppenheimer.

To the not at all sublime,

Where the Spies Are (1965) dir. Val Guest; starring David Niven, Francoise Dorleac, John Le Mesurier (who was last seen by me as an assassin in The Liquidator, which also opened in ’65)

British intelligence loses its Beirut agent and so the boss (Le Mesurier) brings in an amateur who helped him during the war (see also, the beginning of The Liquidator), Dr. Jason Love (Niven). There’s a Russian plot afoot and Love has to suss it out. The movie begins like the typical ‘60s spy farce and has several moments throughout of that nature, but takes a serious turn when a connecting plane Love is supposed to be aboard explodes. What sells the movie is Niven’s off-hand charm as an intelligent man – intelligent enough to question why the gorgeous woman is throwing herself at him, though not really intelligent enough to duck – treading water in unfamiliar circumstances and taking advantage of any breaks he gets. Unlike most of his peers, Niven retained enough athleticism in middle-age, so most of what he does seems believable. And unlike certain other agents, when he’s beat up, he gets cut and bruised! Amazing!
Mummy's Boys (1936) Two worthless men Stanley Wright (Bert Wheeler) & Aloysius C. Whittaker (Robert Woolsey) take jobs as ditch diggers on an Egyptian expedition to a certain Pharaoh's tomb, not to find relics, but to return them. 8 of those involved in the 1st mission have died without medical reasons. So, the leaders of the expedition hurry to return the items. But is there really a curse, or is there some other explanation for the deaths?


Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey a few years before Abbott & Costello are a comedy duo whose films have been shown on TCM. I find them thoroughly entertaining.

Is this the 1st time a map had been tattooed onto someone's back?
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Seems to me, there are several newer films and other stories featuring this element, Water World being one of the later ones.

SPACEFLIGHT IC-1 1965 -Short (an hour) movie about a space mission to Earth 2 in the year 2015 (undertaken by the World Government although there is a Deep State inside it that is rather sinister (isn't it always?). The commander is a grouchy American who learns he is sterile and takes it out on the other people--refusing to turn the ship back to save a sick crew member. When he refuses her request to have a child on the ship due to the rigid eugenics rules, she kills herself--causing her husband doctor to mutiny. There's a Dr. Garth on the ship who was a normal man before he had his head chopped off and attached to a box in order to serve as a kind of Hal-9000. Talk about being devoted to the space program. They eat algae which also gives them air--and they have a holographic toy for the children called Ho Ho The Clown. It is cheap but I was held in interest by the story.
Where did you see this?

The Intruder (1962): Based on the novel by Charles Beaumont, who was also famous for writing many of the original Twilight Zone episodes, some of which were adapted from his short stories. He makes an appearance in the film as a teacher.

A man played by William Shatner comes to a small town looking to capitalize off the town's racial prejudices. African-American students are being admitted into what were once schools exclusively for white students. The collective hatred of most residents builds to a fever pitch, leaving the few sane citizens to strive against Shatner's character. In the end, he gets what he deserves.

The whole film can be found on YouTube (I searched "the intruder 1962"). Trigger warning: Lots of racial slurs in this one, but keep in mind that the ones doing it are portrayed as they should be--as vicious, backwards bigots. Also, it's pretty short, only lasting for about an hour and twenty minutes.

It is sad that Beaumont died so early due to early-onset dementia. He was a good man and I often wonder what he would have done had he more time.
Compare WS' love-making / seduction technique here to that in Star Trek! I could find no difference!
Tommy (1975) When I was a teen, a friend had the album, but this is my 1st (& only) viewing of this film. I really did not like it, and out of boredom, had to distract myself during its running. It was around halfway through, before much if any of the familiar music started.

The story was o.k., but too much weirdness; it just took too long for the R&R began. Not my type.

Fugitive Alien (1986)

Fake movie made from episodes of the 1978 Japanese TV series Star Wolf (and supposedly very loosely based on a series of novels by Edmond Hamilton with that title.) Watched as part of the KTMA era of MST3K.

Very human aliens (except the big boss, who looks a little weird) invade Earth with a huge fleet for some reason. Our hero is one of the guys running around on the ground zapping people. He is reluctant to kill a little kid and tries to stop his buddy from doing so, accidentally killing him. Thus he becomes the FUGITIVE ALIEN, on the run as a traitor condemned to death. In particular, his ex-girlfriend (the sister of the buddy he killed) is assigned to execute him.

He winds up as part of the crew of an Earth starship. They go to a planet inhabited by Japanese people dressed up like Hollywood Arabs, stupidly leaves the ship when ordered to stay, then stupidly gets in a bar fight, winding up in jail and due to be executed. Escape and confrontation with the ex-girlfriend (Japanese woman in a hip-length blonde wig) follow.

Space scenes are very heavily "influenced" by Star Wars. Land scenes have a whole bunch of fighting.

Why do the hero and other invaders have curly blonde wigs under their helmets when they show up that are never seen again?

The spaceship has a dial that says "Space Speed." That amuses me.
SST: Death Flight (1977)

Made-for-TV disaster movie, watched via the KTMA/MST3K version.

The first US commercial SST flight takes off with everybody who ever appeared on American television in the 1960's and 1970's aboard. Soap opera back stories blossom. For vague reasons, an engineer aboard sabotages the hydraulic system in a way that will force it turn around in order to make it look like a failure. The pilot doesn't turn around. Everybody doomed! Great plan, engineer!

OK, we deal with that. Too bad the plane is also carrying a very dangerous sample of a deadly flu virus, so nobody lets them land. Time to crash land in Senegal (where the virus originated.)

Multiple implausible plot points besides those mentioned above. Watchable but utterly forgettable.
Venom (2018)
My first time viewing this movie and it’s your fairly typical superhero/villain shenanigans. I don’t feel that I’ve missed much by waiting so long to watch it but I suppose the best thing I can say about it is that I’ve seen worse.
Call Northside 777 (1948) I thought I had already seen this, but it may have been a familiar title because Muller talked about it when showing similar noir in NOIR ALLEY.

During Prohibition, a cop is killed when two armed men rush through the door to a Speakeasy, where the cop was having a drink. The owner of that business identified two guys who had nothing to do with the murder, and both are sentenced to 99 years. One man's mother worked for 11 years to earn money to offer to anyone who aids in finding the real killer. She puts an ad in the newspaper to that end, the title of the film refers to words from the ad.

My 1st time seeing it, and very happy I did. Muller noted that aside from noir, this is also a newspaper film. Also noteworthy is the fact that this was based on real events, & filmed on location.


Almost forgot, there is an element involving the background image in a photograph that is enlarged to reveal the date on a newspaper. I seriously doubt it would be legible. I recall a film called BLOW-UP, that also featured the enlargement of a photograph to show what was in the background. I doubt either case would work-out.
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Saving Private Ryan (1998) The Military big shots realize the 3 of the 4 sons of a Midwest family were killed in action, and that the last son is somewhere in France, and could join his brothers at any moment. No mother should make such a terrible sacrifice. So they send a unit out to bring Pvt. Ryan home safely. When they finally find him, he refuses to leave his unit, charged with holding a certain bridge against an enemy attack.

Tense drama!

Stupid wiki page says nothing about the paper Mache Tiger built atop a T-34. Found the data on youtube. Good ol' Tank Museum.

As I recall, I 1st saw this in the theater, if so, I had the biggest bucket of popcorn & the largest cola, no ice, all sugar. Mmmmm, yummy! Now I worry about my blood sugar.

So, I could never have done that, to charge out of a landing craft into a hail of bullets. Many were killed in the boat immediately after the ramp opened. Like shooting fish in a barrel. More than intense! Words fail to adequately describe the horror of it. I recall reading [or whatever medium] Churchill being against the whole idea of a cross-channel invasion. He much preferred working their way up from Italy, having already done the landing at Anzio, etc. Likened it to attacking the tender underbelly of the continent. It was Stalin, who wanted the cross-channel invasion, perhaps because he wanted massive casualties among the Western Capitalists, since the USSR had suffered massive casualties itself. Never mind that Stalin was a mass-murderer himself.

Anyway, a film not to be missed! 10/10!

I had forgotten one particularly interesting item:

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This is an MG-42; while the dialog mentioned it several times, the sound-effects omitted it. Unlike other such weapons, this one has a very distinctive feature: it fires 1200 rounds per minute; twice the rate of fire of most other machine guns. It sounds very different from any other such weapon of that time.

TCM even ran a military training film, or whatever it was called about this weapon, a few years ago. This addressed the fear that American soldiers had of this machine gun, which could laterally cut a man in half in just a 1 second burst. The training film tried to reassure the soldiers that "its bark is worse than its bite"

Anyway, my critique is aimed at the lack of appropriate sound-effects as well as there being no mention of the fear this weapon caused. I likewise forgot to add such comments to a certain Audie Murphy film I wrote about a few months ago, which also used a the weapon on film. AM himself used it, though with the standard sound effects.
Take Aim at the Police Van (1960) NOIR ALLEY; Japanese noir. An assassin targets several convicts as they are being transferred from one prison to another. The guard (Michitaro Mizushima) aboard the van takes the blame, and is fired. Now, he, a mere prison guard rather than a detective, goes out to solve the crime.

Civil War (2024)

Well-written and very well shot and directed, with some great performances (Stephen McKinley Henderson in particular, but also Jesse Plemons despite limited screen time). Super bleak, and also frightfully realistic - not exactly a popcorn movie.
DILEMMA - 1962 - Schoolmaster returns home to find his rich wife had run out of the place minutes before and there is a dead man in the bathroom. "For better or worse" is written on his wedding picture so he buries the body in the living room--and has to deal with constant visitors as he does. It did keep me riveted until the end.

THE REBEL GLADIATOR - 1963 - Basically Gladiator told peplum-style with Alan Steel as Commodus and some other muscle guy in the Maximus part (he was a Roman soldier and then became a....gasp! Christian!).
Thelma - 2024

An old widow is scammed out of $10,000 and when the police can't help her, she takes things into her own hands, a la Tom Cruise Mission Impossible style, in order to get it back. Or as Tom Cruise as a 90-year-old can with a light dash of senility and a barrowed electric scooter.
Very fun!
THE DIRTY DOZEN - 1967 - as war action films go this is one of the clunkier and dumber ones and I don't seek it out for rewatching. It has a preposterous plot and caricatures. But there are a few amusing scenes --dimwit Donald Sutherland posing as a general and Ernest Borgnine's reactions during the war games. I'd rather rewatch The Great Escape.
ALISTAIR MACLEAN'S PUPPET ON A CHAIN - 1971 - Good spy agent movie starring Sven Bertil-Taube who I have never seen before but he is a decent lead--reminds me of a blonde Alain Delon. Set in Amsterdam, there's lots of funny Dutch hats and even a glimpse of the infamous drug and prostitution dens. A very cool boat chase occupies the latter half. Co-starring Barbara Parkins (she could be playing the older version of her character from The Kremlin Letter), Patrick Allen. Good surprise ending (maybe it is predictable but I didn't see it coming).
My better half got a book all about great documentaries and ordered some DVD’s of them, so we’ll be watching them for a while (particularly since so many DVD’s of “classics” have tons and tons of extras, often longer than the films themselves.)

Anyway, we started with:

Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927)

Silent German film. Not so much a narrative as just visuals of Berlin, from the mechanisms of the train system to folks at work and at play, and so forth. It makes Berlin look surprisingly modern nearly a century ago.

Salt for Svanetia (1930)

Silent Soviet film. Shows life in a remote village in the Caucasians just before and after a road is built to the place, so they can get (among other things) salt. Strong propaganda value, as the villagers overthrown the local priest and turn the church into a “clubhouse.”

Araya (1959)

Venezuelan black-and-white film dealing with a peninsula on the coast of that nation that is pretty much a gigantic salt marsh. The locals either fish or do the backbreaking labor of hauling salt out of the marsh and piling it up in huge pyramids before it’s bagged and shipped. The scenes of truly immense amounts of salt are stunning, and make this look like the least livable place on Earth.

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