Category Archives: 1970 Films

House of Dark Shadows-1970

House of Dark Shadows-1970

Director Dan Curtis

Starring Jonathan Frid, Grayson Hall

Scott’s Review #1,079

Reviewed November 9, 2020

Grade: B

House of Dark Shadows (1970) is undoubtedly meant mostly as a treat for fans of the popular gothic soap opera, Dark Shadows, which aired on ABC television from 1966-1971.

The soap was groundbreaking for its gloominess and its focus on the world of vampires, eliminating the tried and true apple pie wholesomeness of serials like As the World Turns and The Guiding Light.

The film was an enormous hit with followers at the time of release and while it can be enjoyed by all, it screams of having a specific target audience in mind.

Released during the height of the television show’s popularity in 1970, it must have been enthralling to be the first feature film based on a daytime soap opera.

And how exciting for fans to see their favorites on the silver screen. I tried to keep this in mind as I was watching, and it helped me enjoy it more.

In later years I watched bits of season one, so some knowledge exists.

If memory serves, some of the action happens in the series and in the film (like Barnabas rising from his coffin), but that doesn’t seem important and served as more of a recap to me.

The film is entertaining enough on its own merits in a spooky, atmospheric way, although besides more blood and chills, it follows the same formula that the series did.

Our star, Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) emerges from his coffin in the family mausoleum much to the chagrin of the family handyman, and introduces himself to the Collins family as a distant cousin from England.

He has an uncanny resemblance to a figure on a portrait displayed in the estate that is over a hundred years old.

A fancy ball is thrown to celebrate the family where Barnabas bites Carolyn (Nancy Barrett) turning her into a vampire. He quickly becomes obsessed with governess Maggie (Kathryn Leigh Scott) while awakening suspicions in psychologist, Julia Hoffman (Grayson Hall).

The whole package is stylish and haunting with lots of necessary goth attire like coffins, capes, fangs, and blood-red lips. The production style is appealing and not the least bit cheesy or amateurish.

The famous Lyndhurst estate in Tarrytown, New York was used during the shoot and with good results. The interior is lavish, and the exterior is just as grand with lush grounds and a hidden driveway being useful to the plot. The eerie attic with macabre and stifling trimmings is vital in one scene.

This works much better than a studio set, and the overall production is superior to the series.

The final thirty minutes or so is the best part with a cool Hammer horror likeness. When Julia gives Barnabas, a powerful injection meant to cause him to age rapidly, all hell breaks loose.

You see, while Barnabas is obsessed with Maggie, Julia is secretly in love with Barnabas, so the dramatic soap opera necessities are intact.

The makeup during this sequence is highly effective and downright creepy.

Other characters are likable and respectable in the film, but the acting isn’t so great, which reduces the believability factor just a bit. Stalwarts like Joan Bennett as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, Roger Davis as Jeff Clark, and David Henesy as little David Collins have prominent roles.

It’s an ensemble effort as each character has something to do to support the main story. This is a nice add-on and gives everyone time to shine.

Regardless of knowledge of the daytime drama series, one can enjoy the film on its own merits, though how exciting it must have been for fans to see their favorites on the silver screen in 1970.

I am not sure how many viewers will need to invest in the film because it feels like a reward for viewers of the series and in the present day a retro nostalgic experience.

The series was again celebrated in a film with the mediocre 2012 effort entitled Dark Shadows, starring Johnny Depp.

House of Dark Shadows (1970) is a compelling watch around Halloween time since it has nice autumnal, gothic elements fitting for the season of the witch.

The ghastly (in a good way) makeup and bloody bites and pretty people turned vampires, suffering from stakes through the heart is worth the watch.

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders-1970

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders-1970

Director Jaromil Jires

Starring Jaroslava Schallerova

Scott’s Review #1,076

Reviewed October 30, 2020

Grade: B+

One of the oddest films I’ve ever laid eyes on. The best way to view a film like Valerie and Her Week of Wonder (1970) is to absorb it and let it either pull you in or turn you off.

The cadence is to feel the film and then search for any semblance of meaning or interpretation later, or perhaps never.

The genre best to categorize the film is art cinema meets fantasy meets horror meets fairy tale. Is it ever a bizarre experience? If one is to take hallucinogens first, this film is a recommended watch.

The production is Czech and is translated to Valerie a týden divů in its native language. 

The story involves a week in the life of Valerie (Jaroslava Schallerová), a girl on the cusp of womanhood, and the weird sexual thoughts and desires she encounters while blossoming. She encounters witchcraft, vampires, and a bizarre Constable, who wears a mask.

Valerie is raised by the strangest grandmother (Helena Anýžová) imaginable, who morphs into other characters named Mother and Redhead. Valerie does not live a boring life.

One poster for the film is of a blooming flower with splotches of blood that can be interpreted as a girl losing her virginity.

To delve much further into the plot than a quick summary is wasteful because it doesn’t make very much sense. Such activities as Valerie’s grandmother making a pact with vampires to keep her young forever, Valerie lying in a coffin surrounded by rotten apples, being burned at the stake, and finally being followed and menaced by her priest, are a few of the shenanigans the film presents.

This is shrouded by some of the loveliest photography and scenery you’ve ever seen.

The creativity and the experimental nature of Valerie and Her Week of Wonders are what will allure an open-eyed viewer seeking something left-of-center….very left-of-center.

The story is secondary.

The medieval landscape is gothic and haunting, perfect for evil-doings and strangeness. Not to harp on this point, but the look of Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is the money shot. All else can be left by the sidelines.

The perspective is all Valerie’s, which is nice in an early 1970’s feminist way. It feels like Valerie is changing from a girl to a woman and a strong one at that. She is coming into her own after facing and challenging demons. In the mix is a handsome man who titillates Valerie.

I felt like I was emerging into the girl’s subconscious and experiencing her fears and desires alongside her.

Critically speaking, I would have preferred a little more logic and wrap-up, but that’s just me.

Surely, not a realistic interpretation, Was the girl dreaming while asleep or merely delving into fantasy one day? The more I tried to follow the story and put together the pieces like working on a puzzle, the less this did me any favors.

I then decided to space out and indulge in the other lovelies included. I should have done this from the beginning.

I am unsure how many Czech films I have seen if any, but Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970) is a clear example of what Czech filmmakers can do and it’s crazy what they can come up with.

The mystique is likely multiplied on American audiences and a viewer used to more formulaic approaches to film. With a desire for more put-together stories and logic, I nonetheless admired this film for the magic and style offered.



Director George Seaton

Starring Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Helen Hayes

Scott’s Review #1,059

Reviewed September 2, 2020

Grade: A

The film that triggered the popular disaster genre that captivated much of 1970’s cinema, Airport (1970) led the pack in innovation and entertained the masses with a large cast of A-list Hollywood stars suffering peril.

What fun!

The blueprint continued with The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Earthquake (1974), and The Towering Inferno (1974). Interestingly, the Airport contains little death, unlike the others who systematically killed off cast members in a reverse whodunit, more like “who gets it”.

It holds up quite well.

Airport is pure bliss for me. An enormous fan of the disaster epic, to begin with, this one satisfies my obsessions with airports and airplanes, adding late 1960s sophistication and style, and a healthy dose of sub-plots.

From a romantic triangle to mental illness to an elderly stowaway named Ada (Helen Hayes), the storylines mesh so that there’s never a dull moment. Events occur amid a twenty-four-hour time, and a busy and snowy Chicago airport is the backdrop.

The cinematic spectacle was based on a little-known novel of the same name written by Arthur Hailey and turned into a screenplay written by George Seaton, who also directs the flick. I love it when a director also writes the dialogue because a better experience often prevails.

Seaton directed Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and a slew of other films, so he knows a thing or two about pulling the heartstrings while offering adventure.

The film was rated “G” so it’s a family-friendly affair.

A cold and snowy winter night in Chicago results in flight delays and a 707 plane getting stuck on the runway in snow and mud. As crews attempt to dig out the plane, Airport manager Mel Bakersfield (Burt Lancaster) is forced to work overtime. His furious wife Cindy (Dana Wynter) demands a divorce. He’s in love with Tanya anyway, a pretty customer relations agent for the airline, Trans Global Airlines, a clever play on Trans World Airlines.

Other characters emerge like a high-spirited chief mechanic (George Kennedy), and married man Vernon, who is a captain of TGA, and having an affair with stewardess Gwen (Jacqueline Bisset), who is pregnant with his child.

The heavy is a mentally disturbed man named D.O. Guerrero (Van Heflin) who is so down on his luck that he desperately crafts a handmade bomb and takes out an insurance policy that his struggling wife Inez (Maureen Stapleton) will receive upon his death.

He boards a plane to Rome with most of the other characters, intent on detonating the bomb, killing himself, and leaving Inez with some financial relief. When she catches on she hurries to the airport, desperate to stop the flight from departing. Of course, things don’t go so well.

The Guerrero’s are my favorite characters. D.O. could have easily been written as a villain, one-note, and dastardly, but he isn’t. He is a sympathetic character, pained and wounded, his troubles are the result of war, and he oozes compassion.

Stapleton is tremendous as Inez, the suffering wife who loves her husband and desperately wants them to have a nice life. The actress gives a gut-wrenching performance that should have won her the Oscar.

Instead, it went to the comic talents of Hayes.

The main appeal of these stories is that the audience slowly gets to know, and falls in love, with the characters. They become like good friends.

The pacing is so good that it’s only the last forty-five minutes of the film where the real action takes place.

Strong characters and rich stories are offered as the buildup, and we know that peril is eventually coming, and indeed it does.

The special effects and the airplane set are fantastic for 1970. The luxury airline with its plush seats and catered meals is on display and the entire length of the plane, and the cockpit, are used heavily.

Characters walk up and down the aisles frequently, so the illusion is a vast and stylish airliner, even though a small set was probably used.

The stewardesses and pilots offer a glimpse of what a luxury it used to be to fly in style without the annoyances of long security lines, check-ins, and constant hassles.

Hell, D.O. casually walks on the plane with a bomb and Ada gets on without a second glance when she claims to be giving a passenger their dropped wallet!

Airport (1970) set the tone for other similar films to follow and successfully mixes sudsy dramatic stories of its characters’ lives with the thrills and plights of those same characters in danger.

I don’t consider it the fluff that many others do, but a satisfying, well-constructed film that still holds up well.

The film was followed by three sequels and heavily spoofed hilariously by the comedy Airplane! (1980).

It bears repeated viewings.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress-Helen Hayes (won), Maureen Stapleton, Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Original Score, Best Sound, Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls-1970

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls-1970

Director Russ Meyer

Starring Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers

Scott’s Review #976

Reviewed January 2, 2020

Grade: B+

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) was originally intended as a sequel to the 1967 film Valley of the Dolls but was revised as a parody of the commercially successful but critically panned original.

This was not altogether a smart move since it would have been interesting to see a coherent follow-up exploring the lives of the original characters instead of a similarly named film with little to do with the first.

Instead, the film plays like frenetic mayhem with jarring edited scenes, a peculiar character switch and storyline, and completely over-the-top vulgarity. Still, the film is fun and extravagant, but hardly on par with Valley of the Dolls.

I would not even recommend watching them in sequence- the confusion would only be doubled.

To call Valley of the Dolls a “serious” film is laughable, but compared to Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, it is.

Director Russ Meyer is known for successful sexploitation films that feature campy humor, satire, and large-breasted women, such as Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) and Supervixens (1975), are at the helm to create the bombastic and eye-dropping shenanigans.

Famous film critic Roger Ebert co-wrote the screenplay along with Meyer.

Three young women MacNamara (Dolly Read), Casey Anderson (Cynthia Myers), and “Pet” Danforth (Marcia McBroom) front a struggling rock band, The Kelly Affair, managed by Harris Allsworth (David Gurian), Kelly’s boyfriend.

The four travel to Los Angeles to seek Kelly’s estranged aunt, Susan Lake, an heiress to a family fortune. Fans of Valley of the Dolls will need to know that Susan is supposed to be Anne Welles, the central character in that film.

A battle ensues as Susan graciously offers to give some of her fortunes to Kelly, but Susan’s unsavory financial adviser, Porter Hall (Duncan McLeod) will have none of it. Amid the drama, Kelly meets a gigolo who feuds with Harris, while Harris is pursued by a sexually aggressive porn star named Ashley St. Ives (Edy Williams).

Events all take place against the backdrop of the night-after-night Los Angeles party.

While the plot is not the central aspect of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, the renaming of Susan from Anne, the same character, as well as the recasting of Barbara Parkins with Phyllis Davis, make things confusing.

Adding to this point, Parkins was originally cast as Anne/Susan but was abruptly fired from the production. This makes any comparisons to Valley of the Dolls other than the title alone, unwise and a waste of time.

The lively revelry is the fun and the beauty of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. The film has a cool and groovy vibe and epitomizes the late 1960s psychedelic and colorful aura. The free love and the expressionism make the experience a wild but liberal-minded experience and that is suitable for a film like this.

The intention is to entertain and express the confidence of women. While the female characters are exploited, they are also driven and comfortable with themselves.

A fun fact, and cause for musing, is that as wild and exploitative to women (and men) as Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is, Ebert was largely responsible for penning the script.

In the 1980s the critic, who I am a cherished fan of, panned many of the 1980s horror/slasher flicks, especially Friday the 13th (1980) for exploiting women, but he had no issue exploiting them years early.

Makes one ponder the hypocrisy of his comments.

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) is daring and never plays things safe. With a hip edge and plenty ahead of its time in same-sex character representations, the film is unique and brimming with hilarious and bizarre antics.

The plot is rather silly and goofy and unsurprisingly panned by critics but has become a cult classic and with repeated viewings, has grown on me more and more.

The production is meant to be watched late at night for better appreciation.

Love Story-1970

Love Story-1970

Director Arthur Hiller

Starring Ryan O’Neal, Ali MacGraw

Scott’s Review #950

Reviewed October 23, 2019

Grade: B+

Love Story (1970) was an enormous blockbuster hit at the time of release with two good-looking stars of the day immersed in a tragic romance. Almost fifty years later the story feels contrived and watered down with a “been there seen that” result.

While reviewing the film one must be mindful of the period in which the film was made (before similar films hit the circuit) and the chemistry between the leads holds up quite well.

Perhaps the film works best having seen it decades ago as it now feels dated.

Handsome Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O’Neal) is a star ice hockey player attending Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is heir to the wealthy Barrett family led by father Oliver Barrett III (Ray Milland).

While at school he meets the blue-collar Jenny Cavilleri (Ali MacGraw), who attends neighboring Radcliffe College and studies classical music. The couple falls madly in love becoming inseparable.

Oliver is met with anger after he proposes to Jenny, She accepts, and they travel to the Barrett mansion so that she can meet Oliver’s parents. They are judgmental and unimpressed with her thinking she is nice, but hardly a companion for their son.

Later Oliver’s father tells him that he will cut him off financially if he marries Jenny. After graduation, Oliver and Jenny marry nonetheless and begin a life of financial struggle but filled with happiness. When they attempt to conceive they learn that Jenny is terminally ill and has weeks to live.

The prime appeal of the film is the romance between Oliver and Jenny which feels primal and honest. They are the cliched rich boy and poor girl equation but in this film the dynamic works.

O’Neal and MacGraw are good-looking and were on the cusp of Hollywood A-list classification so the stars aligned in the casting. They ebb and flow at the beginning of the film with Jenny’s sarcasm and Oliver’s quiet arrogance, but there is never a doubt the pair will fall madly in love and we, the audience, are hooked from the start.

On an atmospheric level, the icy northeastern climate and the myriad of exterior scenes throughout Massachusetts give the film a proper ambiance.

For anyone who has studied at a university in this area or has an interest, the film succeeds, and it adds a robust flavor to the surrounding events. The youthful wonder and the promise of a bright future are of paramount importance to the story being told and the foreshadowing is effective.

The film lacks guts in the pacing area though. Most of Love Story is spent focusing on the newness of Oliver and Jenny’s romance and their hurdles surrounding family members and a brief nod to class and societal roles.

At a brief one hour and thirty-five minutes, there is very little time left for the shocking turn of events surrounding Jenny’s illness. Coming out of nowhere, the character is alive and well, has a brief fainting spell, and is then seen lying on a gurney before dying off-screen.

There is no bedside death scene, no suffering or deteriorating health, and the entire tragedy is glossed over. Hence the title, the focus is on the “love story” but this seems like a scam.

So much is invested in the couple that the loss seems skimmed over. How can one die from leukemia (blood cancer) within a few days anyway?

The filmmaker’s clear attempts at playing it safe are at the expense of the overall film experience.

Love Story (1970) deserves praise for being one of the first of its kind- the romantic tearjerker. The genre would soon become soaked with imitators so cliched that they bring the original down a notch because it now feels trite.

The ‘chick flick’ contains good acting and nice scenery but lacks the emotional depth I was hoping for. Melodramatic to a fault the appeal of the leads surges the overall effort way more than it should.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Picture, Best Director-Arthur Hiller, Best Actor-Ryan O’Neal, Best Actress-Ali MacGraw, Best Supporting Actor-John Marley, Best Story or Screenplay Based on Factual Material or Material Not Previously Published or Produced, Best Original Score (won)

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever-1970

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever-1970

Director Vincente Minnelli

Starring Barbra Streisand, Yves Montand

Scott’s Review #921 

Reviewed July 19, 2019

Grade: B+

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970) is a very obscure film that deserves better than to be relegated to the unknown.

Released during a time when the Hollywood musical had lost its luster, it feels like a last-gasp effort to keep the genre alive, serving as a star vehicle for Barbra Streisand.

The film suffers from severe editing problems with a large portion being cut, so much so that the result is a choppy and disjointed feel, tough to follow as is but left untouched the film could have been a creative masterpiece.

In a particularly convoluted plot that spans two time-periods, chain-smoking New Yorker, Daisy Gamble (Streisand) is convinced by her uptight fiancee Warren (Larry Blyden) to attend a class taught by Marc Cabot (Yves Montand), a psychiatrist.

When she is accidentally hypnotized by Cabot he realizes she speaks in the voice of an early nineteenth-century woman named Melinda, and he becomes obsessed with her while she teeters between two existences.

The screenplay was written by Alan Jay Lerner and adapted from his book for the 1965 stage production.

Film director Vincente Minnelli fuses fantasy with a musical to create an experimental piece extremely left of center- this is not your standard 1950s or 1960s MGM experience with merry or clap-along tunes.

Some of the more memorable numbers include “On a Clear Day” which is a reprise at the end of the film, “He Isn’t You” and “Love with All the Trimmings”.

Casting Streisand is a monumental choice as she carries the film on her shoulders. Belting out numbers is the singer-turned-actress’s forte and she never disappoints. She is fascinating to watch in the neurotic role as she smokes and prances around, usually in a tizzy or a state of peril (self-induced).

The performance impresses as a different style than many of her other films and she has never portrayed a livelier character. Streisand overcomes a few challenges of the film, winning in spades.

She shares little to no chemistry with co-star Montand who is not only too old for her, but he is not the greatest actor. If the film’s intent, which I suspect, was to make the pair the main draw then this failed.

Streisand’s chemistry with John Richardson, who plays Sir Robert Tentrees to her Melinda in the other time-period, excites her. The duo smolders with passion but sadly, most of the nineteenth-century scenes are the ones that are sacrificed making most of it a jumbled mess.

Much more interesting would have been to leave the entire film intact.

An oddity is Jack Nicholson’s almost nonexistent role of Tad Pringle, a mostly non-described brother of Daisy’s. Is he also her neighbor?

In 1970 Nicholson was only on the cusp of super-stardom and it questionable is whether some of his parts were left on the cutting-room floor, but the limited character is strange and unsatisfying. In another role, there would have been some possibility of romantic entanglement.

Throughout the film, I wondered how On a Clear Day You Can See Forever might have worked with someone other than Streisand in the roles.

I kept ruminating about how good Liza Minnelli might have been in the roles with her non-classic looks (like Streisand) and bombastic voice. Her high dramatic flair and capable New York-style would have made results interesting, but Streisand hits it out of the park.

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970) is a brave attempt at something fantastical, brimming with potential that is left feeling cluttered and messy.

With a delicious leading lady whom the camera adores and enough creative sets and rigorous energy to keep one guessing, the film stumbles with many problems and leaves viewers incomplete.

The Boys in the Band-1970

The Boys in the Band-1970

Director William Friedkin

Starring Kenneth Nelson, Frederick Combs

Top 100 Films #80

Scott’s Review #658

Reviewed July 4, 2017

Grade: A

An excellent counterpart to the equally brilliant, and equally unpleasant, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) The Boys in the Band is also a stage production made into a feature film.

As such, shot very much like a play and seemingly in one long take, the film is highly effective and delicious in wit and dark humor. With a macabre and bitter element, the characters snipe and ridicule each other during a birthday party.

The Boys in the Band is a groundbreaking film on many levels as it is one of the first LGBTQ+ films to feature gay characters in prominent roles. Furthermore, it has the dubious honor of being the first film to use the word “cunt”.

Regardless, the film is fantastic and a must-see for anyone intrigued by LGBTQ+ film history. All of the actors appeared in the stage production and reprised their roles for the film version.

The setting is the Upper East Side of Manhattan in the late 1960s.

Michael, a writer, is hosting a birthday party for his good friend, Harold. When Michael receives an urgent call from his straight and married college chum, Alan, he begrudgingly invites him over at the risk of having his lifestyle exposed.

One by one, the guests arrive for the party. Emory is quite effeminate and loud, Hank and Larry are masculine and a couple, but with monogamy issues and Hank’s marriage as obstacles.

Bernard, a black bookstore clerk is an amiable, nice guy.

“Cowboy”, a dim-witted hustler, and Harold, the sarcastic, bitter, guest of honor, round out the attendees.

As the night wears on, the party turns into a free form of insults, bad feelings, and vicious conversation. Alan and Emory get into a fistfight, and later a hurtful telephone game forces everyone to call the one person they truly love which results in anxiety and sadness for most of the guests.

The key aspect of The Boys in the Band is that it is shot like a play would be, with a highly effective result. In this way, especially mid-way through the film when the guests are all in the same closed room, the action becomes suffocating and stifling as the fangs are bared by a few of the guests.

Director, Friedkin, uses many close-ups of his characters to further portray their raw emotions.

My favorite characters are Alan and Hank as these characters are the most complex.

Both are married, and both hit it off famously, although Alan’s sexuality is never completely revealed. He is married but troubled, and the audience never learns why, although we could wager a guess that he is, indeed, conflicted by his sexuality.

What will become of him? Will he accept his sexuality or live a repressed existence?

Hank, during a divorce from his wife, lives with Larry as a couple. Hank is complex because he is transitioning from a straight life to a gay lifestyle and that must have been very difficult in the late 1960’s- for this reason, I find the character of Hank quite brave.

The film does not explore this angle as much as it could have, but a character such as Hank fleshes out the cast in a positive way. Alan and Hank are multi-dimensional characters whereas some of the others contain gay stereotypes.

I would have enjoyed a deeper dive into the personal lives of some of the characters, but the film is really about the emotions many of the characters possess and feelings of love, some unrequited, and there are too many characters for each to receive his due focus.

Plus, the main focus of the film is the back-and-forth banter between the characters.

The Aristocats-1970

The Aristocats-1970

Director Wolfgang Reitherman

Starring Various voices

Scott’s Review #570

Reviewed December 29, 2016

Grade: B+

The golden age of Disney films mainly occurred before the release of this film, The Aristocats is a latter-day Disney film, released in 1970- the first release since Walt Disney’s death in 1966.

It is a darling story with a very cute subject matter- cats living in sophisticated Paris face peril from their butler.

Like many Disney works, the film’s message pertains to the treatment of animals. The Aristocats is much safer fare than the dark Bambi or even Dumbo, but it is a fantastic film worth watching.

Glamorous and elegant retired opera star, Madame Adelaide Bonfamille, lives peacefully with her gorgeous mother cat, Duchess, and her three kittens, Marie, Berlioz, and Toulouse in the heart of Paris, circa 1910.

They are sophisticated beyond measure and enjoy every luxury known to cats, and are accompanied in their estate by English butler, Edgar.

One day while Madame is discussing her will with her attorney, Edgar learns that she plans to leave her entire estate to her cats, until their death, then all goes to Edgar.

Filled with greed, Edgar plots to kill the cats. This leads to an adventure in the country as the accosted cats attempt to find their way back home to Madame, with the help of feral yet kindly cat friends.

Ever so sweet to the film is the burgeoning romance that erupts between Duchess and Thomas O’Malley, as he aids the cats in returning to Paris. It is the classic girl from high class, who meets the bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks- only cat style.

The chemistry is readily apparent between the pair and, on a personal note, my female cat Thora certainly seemed smitten with Thomas O’Malley as she sat smiling at Thomas while she watched the film.

During their adventure, Thomas and Duchess manage to dance and sing along with Thomas’s best friend Scat Cat, who leads a Jazz band of alley cats- this makes the film light and lively in tone. The group also shares adventures with English geese, Abigail and Amelia Gabble, who share a fondness for style and a prim and proper manner.

Throughout it all, the group continues to be pursued by Edgar, who is portrayed more as a bumbling villain than a sinister one, making The Aristocats a fun film rather than anything too heavy or sinister.

The sophistication of the film is really what makes me enjoy it so much. The high style of the Parisian city blocks, Madame’s gorgeous mansion, and the beautifully drawn French countryside are my favorite elements.

I love the contrasts in this film- the city and the country. The high-brow characters meet the more blue-collar ones, but in the end, everyone comes together to conquer the mischievous foe.

Whereas in Bambi man is the serious enemy, in The Aristocats, Edgar is more of a buffoon than a truly dangerous element. He is cartoon-like (no pun intended), and the film is more of a caper with hi-jinks than of true danger.

For the cat lovers in all of us, The Aristocats is a delightful film with a nice message and a wonderful cultural experience.

Who can forget the fantastic theme song, “Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat”?



Director Ronald Neame

Starring Albert Finney, Alec Guinness

Scott’s Review #561

Reviewed December 25, 2016

Grade: A

A classic that is perfect to watch around the holidays, accompanied perhaps by a roaring fire and a bit of brandy, Scrooge (1970) is a magical, musical experience, that should be adored by the entire family.

The film is a re-telling of the 1843 Charles Dickens story, A Christmas Carol.

Set in London with spectacular London-style art direction, it is perfect in its depiction of life around the holidays in the historic city, circa the nineteenth century.

To be clear, this is the musical version of the popular tale- not to be confused with the 1935 or the 1951 versions of the story.

The film is not as dark or scary as those films are. Rather, the 1970 Scrooge would be a fantastic companion piece to the 1968 classic, Oliver!, both based on Dickens stories, as both mix fantastic musical scores with dramatic elements.

Albert Finney takes center stage in flawless form as the old, cantankerous, miser, Ebenezer Scrooge. He plays the character as both an old man and, via flashbacks, as a young man (Finney was merely thirty-four years old at the time of filming).

Guinness, certainly a high-caliber actor, is effective as the ghost of Jacob Marley- Scrooge’s former business partner. Scrooge is a money-lender, mainly to the working class, and is unforgiving in his collection of debts.

Filled with hatred for all things good, especially the Christmas holiday, Scrooge refuses to attend a family Christmas dinner hosted by his nephew, Fred, or to give to any charities. He begrudgingly gives his minion and bookkeeper, Bob Cratchit, Christmas day off.

Finally left alone on Christmas Eve night, Scrooge is visited by the spirit of Jacob Marley, who tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts during the night.

In a chilling scene, Marley takes Scrooge on a journey through the sky where he is greeted by spirits doomed to traverse the Earth as Jacob is, with shackles acquired from their life as living beings.

Since they are greedy and wicked, they are doomed in the afterlife, just as Scrooge will be if he does not change his ways.

In a wonderful sub-plot, we get to know the Cratchits, led by father Bob, a poor, but earnest man. The family has little, but make the most of what they do have, and appreciate the glorious holiday. They prepare a meager Christmas bird and savor being together as a family.

Their youngest, Tiny Tim, is lame, and he lusts over a lavish train set in the local toy shop. Cratchit epitomizes goodness and richness of character and contrasts Ebenezer Scrooge.

As Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and Christmas yet to come, he slowly realizes he needs to change his ways before it is too late, and the audience is treated to stories of Scrooge’s youth, as we realize what has made him the miserly old man that he is today.

The clear highlight of this film is its musical numbers that will leave even the most tone-deaf humming along in glee. Throughout each sequence, we are treated to various numbers.

My favorite is “Thank You Very Much”, as first appears during the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come sequence.

By this time feeling more sympathetic and appreciative, Scrooge merrily dances and sings along with the townspeople, unaware of the fact that they are celebrating his death and are dancing on his coffin to celebrate the fact that their debts are now free and clear.

This catchy tune is a reprise at the end of the film.

Other cheery numbers are “Father Christmas” and “I Like Life”, which perfectly categorize the film as a merry, holiday one, despite the occasional dark nature of the overall film. This is necessary to avoid making Scrooge too bleak.

I also adore the vivid set designs as the gorgeous city of London is perfectly recreated to show the festive Christmas holiday. The film is not high budget but makes the most of it by using small, yet lavish sets.

Scrooge is a perfect holiday film that contains fantastic tunes, and a meaningful story, that comes across on film as a celebratory of life, never edging toward contrived or over-saturated.

A wonderful holiday feast.

Oscar Nominations: Best Original Song Score, Best Song Original for the Picture-“Thank You Very Much”, Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction



Director Paul Morrissey

Starring Joe Dallesandro, Holly Woodlawn

Scott’s Review #490


Reviewed October 7, 2016

Grade: B+

Trash (1970) is a very unique movie. It needs to be experienced firsthand to be believed.

Produced by icon Andy Warhol, it is both creative and raw, and certainly not for those seeking a basic film that can easily be digested and contained in a box.

Rather, the gritty and controversial aspects percolate into something edgy and creative. In essence, it is a day in the life of a junkie.

An indie drama with documentary aspects, made in 1970 and set in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Trash tells the story of a young heroine junkie named Joe (Joe Dallesandro) along with his sidekick Holly, who wander throughout the city picking through trash in desperate need of their next heroin fix.

The film is hardcore and that is what I admired most about it. Not always compelling and certainly not always story-like, it is an experience.

Trash would likely not be made today, but, alas in the 1960s and 1970s films like this could be made.

Its rawness, explicit nudity (and I mean full-frontal folks) and blatant IV drug injections are not for the perky or conformists.

It reminds me quite a bit of a John Waters cult exploitation film but interestingly preceded John Waters.

Very well made and Id like to see it again sometime.

Five Dolls For An August Moon-1970

Five Dolls For An August Moon-1970

Director Mario Bava

Starring William Berger, Howard Ross

Scott’s Review #393


Reviewed April 9, 2016

Grade: B-

Five Dolls For An August Moon is a 1970 Italian horror film by horror maestro Mario Bava, a well-regarded director of the genre.

Being relatively a novice to his films, but knowing his name, I expected a bit more from the film than I was treated to.

From a critic’s consensus, Five Dolls For An August Moon is not considered to be one of his better films- not even close. I found some positive elements to the film, but ultimately it did not come together concisely or compellingly.

The dubbing from Italian to the English language is poor and I would have preferred more authenticity to watch in the native Italian language.

Containing a fascinating and mysterious premise, a group of gorgeous people gathers on a sunny, remote desert island- somewhere off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

Owned by wealthy industrialist George Stark, the weekend is intended to be one of socializing, fun, and relaxation.

It appears to be summer(hence the title) and the vacationers exude sexuality and a sense of good style. The beach house is lavish and sophisticated and it is suggested that all are brilliant, or at least, riding on the coattails of those who are.

One of the guests is famed chemist, Professor Gerry Farrell, who has recently created a revolutionary formula, and it is quickly revealed that all of the guests are industrialists with plans to buy the formula from him at any price.

Incensed, Farrell refuses to budge and, suddenly, one by one, the guests are killed off in typical gruesome horror fashion.

I am a sucker for a good whodunit, and Five Dolls For An August Moon appears to be in Agatha Christie’s- And Then There Were None style of intrigue, but this aspect of the film proves to be the most trivial and uninteresting as the plot moves along.

The character’s motives were unclear (yes, I get they all wanted the secret formula), but the real necessity of having it besides, presumably money, which they all appeared to already have plenty of, was dull.

The ending of the film and the “big reveal”, while clever, was also overly complicated for this type of film.

The film was for its time (1970), very provocative in look and style, and that impresses. Featuring a groovy, psychedelic soundtrack, bright, trendy clothing, and a sunset, the film challenges the tried and true horror elements, especially foreign horror (darkness, rain, fog, gloom) and this makes the film work from a cinematic perspective.

One cannot help but watch this film and think of director Russ Myer as a heavy influence. The casting of good-looking Italian actors, both male and female- the females busty and gorgeous- the men stylish and cool, reminiscent of Myer male actors, is noteworthy.

Interestingly, another glaring example of how other countries’ progressive sexual viewpoints contrast with the more conservative United States is that many of the couples on the island are involved sexually with other people on the island, including a lesbian romance, highly unusual to show in 1970.

These shenanigans give Five Dolls For An August Moon a more creative, suave, and sexual intrigue.

A highly effective, and creepy, aspect of the film is the keeping of the corpses in a freezer with plastic bags over the victim’s heads- meat locker style. Eyes bulging, with the clear bags giving a ghastly view, I immediately thought of the still-to-come masterpiece, Black Christmas, and how this film might have been influenced by a similar scene of a victim wrapped in plastic with a gruesome facial expression.

This is good horror stuff.

Five Dolls For An August Moon (1970) is not a great film, but it does have some edgy elements, a cool look, and thanks to great direction from Mario Bava, does some influencing films to come.

A decent horror flick and a worthwhile investment for fans of Italian horror- Bava is a heavy hitter and, next to Dario Argento, is the master in Italian horror films.

(Le Boucher) The Butcher-1970

(Le Boucher) The Butcher-1970

Director Claude Chabrol

Starring Stephane Audran, Jean Yanne

Scott’s Review #273


Reviewed September 14, 2015

Grade: A-

(Le Boucher) The Butcher is a French thriller made in 1970 that is slow-moving at first but progresses to a dramatic crescendo as the latter part of the film escalates, and turns from plodding to cerebral mind-blower.

Mirrored after and inspired by director Alfred Hitchcock, The Butcher is surprisingly not quite horror (based on the title one might assume it is), but rather, an intelligent dreamy thriller.

Gorgeous schoolteacher Helene Daville is smart, confident, and filled with a zest for life. She tutors children needing extra help laughs with them and even lets one sip champagne during a wedding to try the taste of it. She enjoys living and the occasional adventure.

One day, at a wedding, she meets the local butcher, Paul Thomas, and they immediately hit it off as they tenderly walk home together. Cordial and kind, they develop a friendship and laugh together.

As time goes on, a series of killings begin to occur in the town.

Helene begins to suspect Paul of the murders and wrestles with her conflict between her budding love for him and her revulsion at the thought of being in love with a vicious murderer. Her conflict is the point of the film.

The relationship between Helene and Paul is an interesting dynamic and, I now realize, the reason for the slow pace of the picture. Helene and Paul enjoy a nurturing, caring courtship and the film successfully achieves the intended slow build.

The murder mystery is rather secondary and helps support the main plot. We know little- almost nothing- about the female victims. They are strangers to the audience and the reason for their deaths is unknown.

The killer simply kills- no motivation is revealed. This is what makes the film so cerebral and mysterious.

The Butcher is a love story intertwined with a thriller. It is not a mainstream thriller in the conventional sense and the final twenty or thirty minutes reeled me in completely and gave me great admiration for the film, which I had been hedging about throughout.

The meat of the film might have started an additional thirty minutes before it did in my opinion, but then again the slow build may have been intended to make the result more powerful. The moral conflict, love versus hate, tenderness, affection, caring, devastation, and betrayal are all explored during this relatively brief finale.

Besides, the blurry camera shots and angles from the vantage point of an automobile driver traveling down a dark, tree-lined street are highly creative and unique.

The comparisons to Hitchcock are evident.

Helene is similar to Tippi Hedren’s “Melanie Daniels” from The Birds. She is glamorous, alluring, blonde, tall, well-dressed, and the heroine of the film. Attractive and blonde are traits featured in many Hitchcock films.

Paul, on the other hand, reminds me of Rod Taylor’s Mitch, also from The Birds, though not as handsome or charismatic. Still, their relationship reminds me of the two of them as the chemistry oozes from the screen and a romance and thriller are combined.

Helene is perceived as a wholesome wonderful person by the audience, but is she truly?

In the end, we are left questioning her true feelings and are left with a distaste in our mouths. Her choices confuse us or is she simply a complex human being like each of us is?

The interesting aspect of The Butcher (1970) is it leaves one questioning how we would handle Helene’s dilemma, and more importantly, how we would channel our feelings if faced with a similar predicament.

Peau d’Ane (Donkey Skin)-1970

Peau d’Ane (Donkey Skin)-1970

Director Jacques Demy

Starring Catherine Deneuve

Scott’s Review #227


Reviewed March 11, 2015

Grade: B

Peau d’Ane (English-Donkey Skin) is a 1970 French musical film that is a fairy tale for adults- seemingly happy, but very dark beneath the surface.

To say this film is bizarre would be an understatement. The film is a strange retelling of the classic story of Cinderella.

The film is set in a peculiar medieval world and centers on a dying Queen, her husband The King, and the heroine of the story, the beautiful Princess.

The Queen is dying. Her last wish is for The King to marry the most beautiful woman in the land. Coincidentally, that is their daughter The Princess! Eager to produce an heir to the throne, he is determined to marry and reproduce with his daughter.

The Princess, wanting none of it, turns herself into an ugly creature, by way of wearing the skin of a donkey and moves to a neighboring kingdom to exist in a life of exclusion and revulsion, farming pigs and being berated by those around her.

A handsome Prince decides to pursue the woman who has baked him a delicious cake, but knows not who she is. Ironically enough it is the Princess.

I found the film to be quite interesting, albeit in a warped way. Unusual and tough to analyze, one must watch with an open mind.

Certainly, Donkey Skin delves headfirst into the icky world of incest and makes no apologies for its controversial nature all the while interspersing the film with cheery tunes with singing roses and hatching chicks.

The donkey skin that the Princess wears is fake and unbelievably laughable and how nobody is aware that there is a beautiful Princess underneath is silly.

And yet the film somehow works. I was transported into a magical world where nothing is normal and one surprise after another ensues.

A couple of oddities worth mentioning- some of the music from the film is a piece of contemporary, upbeat music. Also, strangely, the final scene involves a helicopter, which is completely implausible given the period.

I get the sense that this film is going for absurd and unique and succeeds on both counts.

Visually the film is gorgeous- bright and cheerful with loads of colors. The film has awe-inspiring art direction as the set pieces within the castle are odd, interesting, and colorful. I especially enjoyed the Prince’s bedroom set.

As eccentric and seemingly dark as the film is, often a character will burst into a cheerful song as evidenced by the Princess singing a happy tune while making a meal, all the while dressed in her donkey skin, almost like a scene out of Mary Poppins or My Fair Lady or any other wholesome musical.

To be sure a unique film, Donkey Skin is eccentric, lively, and interestingly perverse with a French flair. Fantasy for adults and a journey into the weird.

The Conformist-1970

The Conformist-1970

Director Bernardo Bertolucci

Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli

Top 100 Films #28

Scott’s Review #212


Reviewed January 10, 2015

Grade: A

The Conformist, directed by Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci and based on the 1950s novel by Alberto Moravia, is a complex film that tells the story of one man’s complicated life throughout the time of Italian Fascism (the 1920s until 1943).

Due to a traumatic childhood event, he is troubled and strives to “conform” to a “normal”, traditional lifestyle despite his underlying wounds and desires, which he struggles to repress.

The character in question is Marcello Clerici, played by Jean-Louis Trintignant, who works for the secret police supporting the Fascist government.

Marcello yearns for a quiet life that everyone else seems to have. He is set up with a beautiful new wife and is ordered to assassinate his college professor who is a leader of an anti-Fascist party.

Throughout the story, Marcello is tormented, via flashbacks, by his troubled childhood and the film delivers a marvelous, creative use of camera angles, style, and design.

It is a dreamlike film that makes full use of childhood memories from the perspective of the protagonist.

The film is a character study in the highest regard yet is also beautiful to look at making it very multi-faceted. Marcello is troubled as evidenced by his backstory. In many ways he is weak, refusing to accept who he is or admit his deepest desires.

Mixed in with the complexity of his character is a unique character named Anna (Dominique Sanda), the college professor’s gorgeous blonde wife who appears to be bisexual, enticing both Marcello and his wife, Giulia, played by Stefania Sandrelli. Marcello, in particular, becomes transfixed and obsessed with Anna.

A truly heartbreaking moment arrives later in the film and is my favorite scene in The Conformist. As the assassination attempt is made on a lonely and secluded, yet picturesque country road, the result is murder, betrayal, and surprise.

When one character non-verbally speaks to another with mostly facial expressions and emotionally and pathetically pleads for their life through a car window it is as tragic as it is poetic.

The scene is wrought with drama and sadness.

Additionally, Marcello’s troubled childhood involving a homosexual experience involving a chauffeur named Lino resurfaces years later in an unlikely way and leads to the shocking conclusion of the film.

The very last frame of the film leaves the viewer pondering what is to become of Marcello next.

Marcello’s mother and father add mysterious layers to the film. His father is securely an inmate in a mental hospital while his mother is a boozy older woman who sleeps until noon.

While these characters are not explored as completely as they might have been, it does lead one to ponder why Marcello is the way that he is and if his parents have any bearing on his persona.

In a particularly fascinating scene, Anna seductively dances with Marcello’s wife at a crowded dancehall, they do the tango, as amidst her affair with Marcello, she is clearly in love with his wife, making the dynamic confusing yet at the same time fascinating to view.

The Conformist heavily influenced storied directors such as Frances Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg. A beautiful scene of leaves blowing in the wind almost mirrors a similar scene contained in Coppola’s The Godfather Part II.

A film that is as captivating as it is filled with influence, The Conformist is an interesting watch for both the style and the mystique that surrounds it.

Oscar Nominations: Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium

Diary of a Mad Housewife-1970

Diary of a Mad Housewife-1970

Director Frank Perry

Starring Carrie Snodgress, Frank Langella

Scott’s Review #189


Reviewed November 5, 2014

Grade: A

The film version of Diary of a Mad Housewife, based on the best-selling novel by Sue Kaufman, is a tremendous, unique story of one woman’s frustration with her irritating life.

A superb Carrie Snodgrass stars as a haggard, insecure, yet affluent housewife named Tina Balser, who lives in New York City, surrounded by an unpleasant family.

The family is led by Tina’s verbally abusive and neurotic husband Jonathan- a successful attorney, played flawlessly and rather comedically by Richard Benjamin, and her two brattish daughters Sylvie and Liz.

Bored, Tina decides to embark on an affair with crude artist George Prager, wonderfully played by Frank Langella. She teeters on the edge of an emotional breakdown throughout the film and trudges through life depressed and disappointed with all aspects of her life except for her affair with George.

George, however, is a womanizer and openly has other conquests besides Tina.

The brilliant idea of the film is that the story is told strictly from Tina’s point of view. All of the action centers on her character, which makes the film so interesting.

On the surface, one might argue she has everything- she is intelligent, well-educated, and affluent. A stay-at-home mother, she is treated like a servant by her husband Jonathan, as he constantly berates her appearance and criticizes her activities- she is always doing something incorrectly.

The film though is not a downer. It is a dry, satirical comedy that reminds me very much of a Woody Allen film. Tina is depressed, yes, but she goes through life with a realistic, almost chin-up, outlook. Her marriage to Jonathan is loveless yet why doesn’t she leave him?

Her affair with George is sexually satisfying, but she has no intention of pursuing anything further with him, nor does he want to. Tina dotes over her husband- planning dinner parties, sending Christmas cards, and various other wife duties.

I’m not sure that the film’s true intent is to show Tina as either a strictly sympathetic character or as completely downtrodden- the film is not a moral tale nor is it a schmaltzy, woman victimized and will rise against the world’s generic drama- it is witty and filled with black humor.

Despite her unkind husband, I found myself envying Tina’s life, in a way, and I think the film expects that of the viewer. I never got the impression that Tina was suicidal in any way.

It’s not that type of film.

Instead, she has wealth, and she goes to fancy restaurants, but she also has a very needy husband- he does not abuse her in a physical sense, nor is she reduced to tears by his outbursts.

She gets annoyed and merely accepts that this is the way life is and gets by with the assistance of an occasional swig of alcohol while doing dishes or preparing dinner, or when the dog has “an accident” on the living room rug and Tina’s kids cannot wait to tattle on her.

She is a sophisticated woman, trapped in an unhappy yet financially secure relationship.

Diary of a Mad Housewife is an interesting character study for all women to view and perhaps even slyly wink at.  Many women would champion Tina. She is a likable, sarcastic, cool chick. Audiences will find themselves drawn to her and even falling in love with her before long- I know I did.

Without the talents of Carrie Snodgrass, who completely carries this film, it would not be the wonder that it is. A wonderful satire, the film is not as wry or satirical as the novel, but how many films are?

The novel delves more into detail and the role of the Balser’s maid is barely mentioned in the film, yet plays a larger role in the Kaufman novel.

I loved the portrayal of Jonathan by Richard Benjamin who must receive some honor for the most annoying character ever in the film when he repeatedly screams for his wife by bellowing “teeeenaaaaa!”, or initiating sex by asking “Would you like a little roll in dee hay?”, one wants to choke him.

The way Tina’s daughters whine “mudder” instead of “mother” is comically brilliant. And her simmering hatred of all of them is dark hysteria.

Diary of a Mad Housewife is a genius and should not be forgotten.

Oscar Nominations: Best Actress-Carrie Snodgress

Five Easy Pieces-1970

Five Easy Pieces-1970

Director Bob Rafelson

Starring Jack Nicholson, Karen Black

Scott’s Review #101


Reviewed July 10, 2014

Grade: A-

Five Easy Pieces (1970) is Jack Nicholson’s first leading role and, as one watches the film now, it is evident that the character of Bobby Dupea influenced many of his later performances.

The film is a quiet, character study about a talented yet unhappy concert pianist who gives up his privileged life of affluence and performing to lead a simple, blue-collar life working on an oil rig and dating a neurotic lonely waitress played wonderfully by Karen Black.

He returns, via a road trip, to his upper-class family to visit his ailing father.

With Black in tow, they travel from California to remote Washington, with a couple of excellent scenes involving two angry at-life female hitchhikers, and a cold waitress at a coffee shop where Nicholson performs his infamous “chicken sandwich” scene.

It is a story of one man’s loneliness and his conflict between the two lives he has lived and his turmoil at deciding where he belongs- a conflict many people wrestle with.

He is not a happy man.

Karen Black is excellent as the needy, clingy girlfriend and Sally Struthers has a small, yet interesting part as a flirtatious girl.

The film drags at times, moving very slowly, but does an excellent job of getting inside one man’s mind and sharing the pain with the audience.

The film is nuanced as the conflict Dupea feels pulls at his very being and this is conveyed incredibly well. The final scene is simply mesmerizing in its power.

Five Easy Pieces (1970) is a purely character-driven and wonderfully life-questioning film.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor-Jack Nicholson, Best Supporting Actress-Karen Black, Best Story or Screenplay Based on Factual Material or Material Not Previously Published or Produced



Director Mike Nichols

Starring Alan Arkin, Martin Sheen

Scott’s Review #41


Reviewed June 18, 2014

Grade: B

Catch-22 (1970) is a satirical film similar in subject matter to Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H, released the same year though admittedly I have not seen that film yet.

It does remind me of Dr. Strangelove, and Slaughterhouse-Five in their anti-war theme.

This film is well-made and certainly effectively portrays the outrageousness and lunacy of war.

Most of the characters are presented as crazy, albeit in a dark-humored, over-the-top way.

Alan Arkin is wonderful as the protagonist trying to find a way out of the island of Italy where he and his fellow pilots are stationed.

At times the film feels disjointed and tough to follow, which I understand the novel is too (I have not read the entire book), but the message of the movie comes across loud and clear.



Director Freddie Francis

Starring Vanessa Howard, Michael Bryant

Scott’s Review #11


Reviewed June 14, 2014

Grade: B-

Girly (1970) is an unusual British horror film about an affluent, bored family, clearly deranged, who kidnaps victims and forces them to become “members” of the family by participating in game-playing escapades for their delight.

The premise of the film is appealing and intriguing as to how it will play out. The family members (Mumsy, Nanny, Girly, and Sonny) are played with gusto by the cast but are never over the top.

My favorite is “Mumsy”, wickedly played by British actress Ursula Howells.

The film itself has a fairy tale quality to it with the sets of the house they share. The main victim (a male gigolo) is a miscast (too old, not sexy enough) and begins a cat-and-mouse game of trickery, plotting the family against one another until the inevitable bodies pile up.

The film loses steam midway through and the ending is not satisfying.

Why the victims are not able to escape the vast property is weak (a 7-foot tall flimsy fence??).

“Curious” film that becomes a tad boring towards the conclusion.

Ryan’s Daughter-1970

Ryan’s Daughter-1970

Director David Lean

Starring Sarah Miles, Robert Mitchum, Christopher Jones

Scott’s Review #10


Reviewed June 17, 2014

Grade: A

Ryan’s Daughter (1970) is a sweeping epic by the masterful director, David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia, A Passage to India, Doctor Zhivago).

The film is sprawling and filled with fabulous locales of oceanic Ireland. Much of the action takes place using exterior scenes and this is arguably as prominent and important to the film as the story is.

Set in WWI-era Ireland, one will immediately notice the gorgeous Irish landscapes and the brilliant photography involved. This gives the film a timeless look, and one can simply escape into the scenery itself, forgetting the story, and dream away through the roaring waves.

The intense “storm scene” is second to none as Lean had to wait over a year to film this pivotal scene- and Mother Nature had to cooperate.

The story is twofold: a love story involving a woman torn between her schoolteacher husband and a strapping, yet English (at this time there was no love lost between the Irish and English), officer. Rosy (Sarah Miles) is headstrong yet kindhearted, the daughter of a local, prominent man.

Her husband, Charles (Robert Mitchum) is dutiful and loyal to a fault. After Rosy’s affair with the British officer, she is deemed a tyrant by the townspeople, as her husband chooses to stand by her side.

The second story is political. A feeling of extreme nationalism exists among the townspeople against the British. Both stories blend nicely as small-town gossip and a subsequent witch hunt come into play.

The village idiot is played brilliantly by John Mills, who won an Academy Award for his efforts.

Character-driven is the story’s main appeal and the audience will surely feel perplexed about whom to root for or feel empathy for. I know I did. In fact, at different times one’s loyalties can fluctuate or be challenged.

The film is reminiscent of Doctor Zhivago to me as romance and politics intertwine and a dilemma involving the central female characters are similar. At over three hours in length, the film does not drag and remains interesting throughout as the conflict and drama reach a crescendo during the final act.

At no time is there any filler or unnecessary scenes, which, in itself is a positive.

Sadly, Ryan’s Daughter is not considered as worthy as other aforementioned David Lean efforts, but I disagree with this- the film ages exceptionally well- like a fine wine.

This film also focuses largely on a female character and, therefore, is female-driven, a wonderful aspect of the film, circa 1970.

Oscar Nominations: 2 wins-Best Actress-Sarah Miles, Best Supporting Actor-John Mills (won), Best Sound, Best Cinematography (won)