Category Archives: 1973 Films

The Satanic Rites of Dracula-1973

The Satanic Rites of Dracula-1973

Director Alan Gibson

Starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Joanna Lumley

Scott’s Review #1,405

Reviewed October 16, 2023

Grade: B+

The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) is the eighth film in the Hammer Horror Dracula series, and the seventh and final one to feature Christopher Lee in the starring role. It also unites legendary horror actor Peter Cushing with Lee for the third time.

So, the territory and storyline are hardly unchartered and a film like this is for a targeted audience.

For those unclear, Hammer Horror films are a series of low-budget British films produced by the London-based company featuring gothic and fantasy-type films.

Their heyday was from the mid-1950s until the 1970s.

The Satanic Rites of Dracula comes at the end of the horror genre reign of terror but is enjoyable nonetheless. It’s redundant in a way because I’ve seen so many of them by now that there’s little intrigue anymore.

It’s not a surprise anymore what’s going to transpire in the film.

I love these films mostly because of the low budget and the creative and sophisticated sets and art design. But the main selling point is the Lee/Cushing pairing.

After a Secret Service agent barely escapes an English country estate where satanic rituals are being held and later dies Van Helsing (Cushing) is asked to investigate.

He seeks the seven hundred-year-old count (Lee), who is dead and living in London with his vampire bride and a breed of other undead women dressed in red robes.

Van Helsing’s granddaughter Jessica played by Joanna Lumley is introduced as well as another Secret Service agent, Murray (Michael Coles).

The team naturally winds up at the English estate where they discover shenanigans led by a female Chinese vampire (Barbara Yu Ling). They grapple with fire and brimstone as they determinedly attempt to take down Dracula once and for all (yeah right!).

The film is silly but in the best of ways. I enjoyed the very beginning and ending most of all. When the Secret Service agent runs down the vast estate driveway amid darkness the mysterious pursuing motorcycle men provide intrigue, and the plot is hatched.

As fans know well the finale will result in a fiery showdown between good and evil and the benevolent Van Helsing destroys the villainous Dracula with a strong stake to the heart.

This technique is used a few times during The Satanic Rites of Dracula and in comic fashion, a stake and hammer always seem to be at the ready.

But the fun is good besting evil after all and delightful is seeing a vampire’s fangs come into view as the unsuspecting victim gasps in shock or shrieks in terror.

By 1973 Cushing and Lee could probably deliver their dialogue in their sleep and the motivation doesn’t seem to be there. Lee barely appears until the final act.

The introduction of Lumley, well-known to Absolutely Fabulous fans is wise and breathes new life into the familiar characters. She brings a Nancy Drew-type appeal especially as she sneaks into the estate basement to investigate peculiar noises.

A hoot for Hammer Horror fans or fans of British horror but it’s not one of the best in the series. Enjoyable mostly for additional tidbits like howling wind, creepy noises, and lavish drapes, furniture, and various set pieces.

The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) is a nice watch in October around Halloween.

Paper Moon-1973

Paper Moon-1973

Director Peter Bogdanovich

Starring Ryan O’Neal, Tatum O’Neal

Scott’s Review #1,352

Reviewed March 23, 2023

Grade: A-

Peter Bogdanovich’s follow-up to the 1971 brilliance that belongs to The Last Picture Show is a film called Paper Moon named after a song introduced during the opening sequence.

While similar in texture and tone to the former the latter takes much more time to become absorbed in. But the payoff finally arrives. There are also hints of comedy in Paper Moon which The Last Picture Show had virtually none of but they are companion pieces for sure.

The cinematography could even be classified as a carbon copy and the isolated midwest (this time Kansas and Missouri rather than Texas) is on full display, rather than a 1950s Korean War dilemma. In Paper Moon the time is the 1930s Depression Era United States when everyone and their brother was looking for a way to survive.

To make things interesting, real-life father and daughter star together. Ryan O’Neal and Tatum O’Neal are a remarkable dynamic duo and the connection is evident.

They portray slick con artists Moses Pray (Ryan) and Addie Loggins (Tatum) who play off of each other in a relaxed easy fashion.

When “Moze” is unexpectedly saddled with getting the nine-year-old Addie to relatives in Missouri after her mother’s death, his attempt to dupe her out of her money backfires, and he’s forced to take her on as a partner.

Swindling their way through farm country, the pair is nearly done in by a burlesque dancer (Madeline Kahn) and an angry bootlegger (John Hillerman).

Knowing that years later Ryan would unwittingly proposition his daughter at a funeral unaware of who she was, is both comical and sad.

But, I digress.

The chemistry makes Paper Moon work though Bogdanovich’s direction is second to none in creating the proper mood as he did so well two years earlier. The muddy, crusty atmosphere is palpable with miles and miles of desolate land on full display for the viewer.

Everything looks dirty, dusty, and depressing which is to the film’s credit.

The small characters are a winning formula as they hope against hope that the scheme Moze is selling (a first-rate Holy Bible inscribed to them by their recently deceased loved one) could be true and is heartbreaking.

I’d give the first half a B or a B+ but the second half earns a solid A. The events start slowly and are a bit tough to get into from a storyline perspective.

I wasn’t so much enamored with Madeline Khan’s character, though the actress is one of the strong aspects of the film. Moze is hot and heavy for Miss Trixie Delight but besides being busty she has little else to offer. She doesn’t treat her downtrodden teenage maid, Imogene (P.J. Johnson) very well and makes a spectacle of herself wherever she goes.

Satisfyingly, Addie, and Imogene make quick work of her when they conspire to have Moze catch Trixie in bed with a hotel clerk. Khan is a hoot but Trixie is mediocre.

When events get back to the Moze and Addie story it’s off to the races. An enthralling final sequence occurs when the pair uncovers a bootlegger’s store full of whiskey, steals some of it, and sells it back to the bootlegger.

Unfortunately, the bootlegger’s twin brother is the local sheriff, and he quickly arrests Addie and Moze. The climax is on par with 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde without the killings- instead, the pair are on the run and foraging for an uncertain future.

The characters may not have the best morals but they are survivors and that makes them appealing. I’d venture to say Tatum O’Neal is the standout though Ryan’s good looks are hard to ignore.

Paper Moon (1973) starts slow but becomes infectious during the final thirty minutes or so.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Supporting Actress-Madeline Kahn, Tatum O’Neil (won), Best Screenplay-Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Sound

O Lucky Man!-1973

O Lucky Man! -1973

Director Lindsay Anderson

Starring Malcolm McDowell, Ralph Richardson, Helen Mirren

Scott’s Review #1,174

Reviewed September 1, 2021

Grade: A-

O Lucky Man! (1973) is a satirical black comedy that mixes musical songs with a message of capitalism by the driven protagonist. Like a great fine wine, the film has aged well and is still relevant decades later.

The film is a slow build but by the end of the lengthy running time of nearly three hours, I was enamored and hummed the title song repeatedly.

I’m still humming it as I write this review.

Suggested is to watch O Lucky Man! in two or three segments for full appreciation. One sitting would be incredibly tough since some of the events require some level of reflection and thought.

An ambitious young British man, Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell) is determined to be successful at all costs. Debuting as a coffee salesman, Mick is quickly promoted within his company. Events take a series of bizarre turns when Mick is abducted by a military agency.

Later, he becomes smitten with the gorgeous Patricia (Helen Mirren) and winds up working for her father, sinister executive Sir James Burgess (Ralph Richardson). As Mick’s tale continues, his experiences get progressively stranger.

The clever aspect is that just when you think Mick’s life is dour and drab he rebounds more successful than ever. Hence the title of the film. So, there is an element of adventure and romance amid the capitalist plot.

Lindsay Anderson, who directed O Lucky Man! re-casts McDowell again in the same role he first played as a disaffected public schoolboy in his first film performance in Anderson’s film If… (1968).

I did not realize this at the time I watched O Lucky Man! and I think this knowledge would have made me catch on to the events and the subtexture even more.

Now, I need to rewatch If…

I did however ruminate constantly on McDowell’s other iconic role in A Clockwork Orange (1971) as Alex. The characters are quite similar save for Alex being a juvenile delinquent instead of a rising corporate guy like Mick is.

This is in large part due to McDowell’s looks and acting style. His trademark sneer and bright blue eyes make him mesmerizing in both roles.

I even spotted an actor who played one of the infamous droogs!

A plus to the film is that several actors appear in multiple roles, some difficult to distinguish. Part of the fun is trying to figure out who’s who.

There isn’t a whole lot of chemistry between McDowell and Mirren but it’s interesting the shifting characteristics of the characters. And Patricia is fascinating. When she inquires why people work so hard for things instead of just taking them we realize that she places no value in things because she’s never had to work for them. She’s a rich, daddy’s girl.

There are reasons not to like her but I still did. When she winds up in a homeless lot it’s shocking. And I also loved the character of Mick and his epic journey. He is imprisoned and then reformed in a humanistic way just like Alex was in A Clockwork Orange.

But the best part of O Lucky Man! is the music. Anderson takes periodic breaks from the drama to simply treat his audience to a musical number all performed by Alan Price.

It’s comforting to sit back and enjoy the unforgettable tunes that pepper the film. One could argue that the songs almost usurp the main action but I found them, great companions, to the other.

As if there was any doubt, the soundtrack was widely lauded and was a huge financial success.

A surreal effort, sometimes happy or tragic but always insightful and oftentimes delightful, McDowell, Price, and Anderson are at the top of their respective games.

O Lucky Man! (1973) is a terrific watch brimming with good juices if one just has the patience to let events marinate.

The Day of the Jackal-1973

The Day of the Jackal-1973

Director Fred Zinnemann

Starring Edward Fox, Michael Lonsdale

Scott’s Review #1,155

Reviewed June 22, 2021

Grade: A

Political thrillers can run the gamut of taut plots involving espionage assassinations, and car chases all woven into the political landscape. They often run the risk of being overly complicated and losing their audience with too much wordiness and not enough meat and potatoes.

The Day of the Jackal (1973), telling the story of an assassination attempt on a world leader is perfectly paced and intriguing offering some titillating elements and nothing run of the mill. It’s not lazy and can be classified as a thinking man’s film.

I loved it.

Certain complexities and trysts experienced by the deadly title character add extra pizazz and spiciness to the already compelling plot.

And the sequences of Paris and its lovely metropolis can aid any film.

A cagey and intelligent underground French paramilitary group is determined to execute President Charles de Gaulle (Adrien Cayla-Legrand), but when numerous attempts on his life fail, they resort to hiring the infamous hitman known as “The Jackal” (Edward Fox).

As he plots to assassinate de Gaulle, he takes out others who stand in his way. Meanwhile, Lebel (Michel Lonsdale), a Parisian police detective, begins to solve the mystery of the killer’s identity.

The film is not in French but in English.

Fox is the major draw. Charismatic, handsome, and athletic, he hardly looks like a fiend.  But that’s just the point. A lesser film would have cast an actor who looks like a killer. With Fox, we get many more intricacies. He beds women…..and men.

Think- a bisexual James Bond.

This is enchanting to see in 1973, though the film is British, and sometimes the Brits were well ahead of American filmmakers in this regard.

The director, Fred Zinneman, is Austrian and boy can he direct.

I wasn’t sure how engaged I would be. After all, the history books can tell us how the assassination attempt ended. It failed. What was the motivation for watching a film, especially one destined to be complicated? I quickly realized that The Day of the Jackal had that special sauce. It’s more than engaging, it’s enthralling.

The audience is meant to root for Lebel to best Fox but there is so much more bubbling under the circumstance. The villain is mysterious and we know almost nothing about him. The ambiguity continues after the film ends. This is a positive to the character and subsequently to the film.

Meanwhile, the hero of the film, the guy after the “Jackal”, is your average, everyday, Joe. He is unexciting but very smart and determined to capture Fox.

Lebel is quite likable for his savviness alone but I still argue many will root for Fox to escape the clutches of Lebel. I know I did.

Great scenes occur in a swanky hotel when Fox becomes intrigued by Madame de Montpellier, played by Delphine Seyrig. He picks up the rich and mysterious woman as they chat in the dining room. He later sneaks into her room and gets the girl.

Whoever cast this woman must have seen the Hitchcock classic Frenzy (1972) because she’s a dead ringer for Brenda Blaney (Barbara Leigh-Hunt).

Is it an accident that both meet grisly ends?

Not to be satisfied with merely bedding rich women he goes to a Turkish bath to avoid the police and picks up a French gentleman. It is implied they have a romantic date before the gentleman catches onto Fox’s identity (he is now on the run from the police) and meets his maker in his kitchen.

The Day of the Jackal (1973) is a meticulously crafted film that should be the blueprint for anyone intent on creating a political thriller. It avoids hokey stereotypes or predictability instead offering an edge-of-your-seat experience with nuances for miles.

It’s exceptional on all levels.

Oscar Nominations: Best Film Editing

The Friends of Eddie Coyle-1973

The Friends of Eddie Coyle-1973

Director Peter Yates

Starring Robert Mitchum, Peter Boyle

Scott’s Review #1,151

Reviewed June 11, 2021

Grade: B+

Borrowing heavily from the standard cop thriller films that emerged during the early 1970s but containing a unique cynicism and a point of view all its own, The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) is a taut and engaging crime thriller that will please fans of the genre but never bailing on those cinema fans seeking a more intellectual experience.

The Boston landscape is plentiful and a treat for fans of locale shoots and 1970s qualities.

A superior film based against the many similar films to be created during the decade, there is a moroseness that encompasses the experience. I felt sorry for the main character and The Friends of Eddie Coyle lacks a clear good guy versus bad guy standard. This helps the film.

What I’m trying to say is that those crime thriller fans desiring a clear hero or standard characterization might be unsatisfied or miss the point, though the bank robbery scenes alone are worth the price of a ticket.

Some say Robert Mitchum, cast in the title role gives his finest film performance but I wasn’t entirely blown away.  The film is an ensemble and at times Eddie Coyle feels like a supporting character.

Think Ma Rainey in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020).

Instead, I ruminated over his brilliant performances in my two favorite films of his, The Night of the Hunter (1955) and Ryan’s Daughter (1970).

His performance is fine but all the actors bring their A-game.

Aging low-level Boston gunrunner Eddie Coyle (Mitchum) is fearful of the possibility of several years of jail time for participating in a truck hijacking in neighboring New Hampshire. Having a wife and kids dependent on him, and feeling old and desperate, he volunteers to funnel information to Dave Foley (Richard Jordan), an ATF agent.

Eddie buys some guns from another gunrunner, Jackie Brown (Steven Keats), then gives him up to Foley, but the agent isn’t satisfied. Panicked, Eddie decides to also give up the gang of bank robbers he’s been supplying, only to find that Foley already knows about them, and the mob believes Eddie snitched.

These events do not bode well for poor Eddie who now has a mark on his back.

The Friends of Eddie Coyle has a handful of plots happening simultaneously. There is Eddie’s predicament, the saga of the bank robbers and the bank owners they put in peril, and a bartender played by Peter Boyle (of television Everybody Loves Raymond fame), who is also an informant.

The stories intertwine but sometimes not quite enough and a conclusion over how the players relate is sometimes unclear.

From the get-go, I was reminded of Dirty Harry (1971) which arguably propelled the cop/crime thriller/crime drama to mainstream audiences.

Dave Grusin gets credit for the music composition and creates a similar score to Dirt Harry with funky tempo, and time-relevant arrangements. They work and fit the times perfectly.

Differing from Dirty Harry, which is a superb film in many ways, is the messaging. Whereas, Dirty Harry professes a good vs. bad approach and a conservative pro-gun stance, The Friends of Eddie Coyle doesn’t partake in schooling the audience on the viewpoints of most cops.

The bad guys are complex and nuanced characters with worries and fears to wrestle with themselves.

The location sequences are plentiful and give the film authenticity and Boston appreciation. The classic Boston Garden is featured as two characters attend a Boston Bruins hockey game. The Charles River, downtown, and surrounding areas like Quincy are featured. Director, Peter Yates certainly creates a blue-collar, Irish-represented community.

Lovers of classic 1970s American automobiles will be in heaven. I spotted a Ford Galaxy, a Chevy Impala, and similar full-sized cars. One character drives a green muscle car. I mean, there are tons and tons of car sequences in this film.

With the seedy Boston underworld, a terrific performance by Robert Mitchum, and enough guns, car chases, and bank robberies to satisfy the action audience, The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) is a win.

The film didn’t stick with me as much as I would have liked but it’s a striking entry in the crime thriller genre.



Director Don Sharp

Starring Nicky Henson, Mary Larkin, George Sanders

Scott’s Review #1,084

Reviewed November 19, 2020

Grade: B-

Psychomania (1973) is a film that has an intriguing premise turned messy and confusing by aspects not coming together.

A motorcycle gang wreaking havoc on their English small town decides to kill themselves and come back from the dead to live forever. They intend to do so with the aid of witchcraft and a sinister cult.

Unfortunately, neither the gang comes back to everlasting life nor does the premise provide an adequate payoff. The film meanders along without much intrigue or interest except for an above-average finale.

But even that is too little, too late.

Renowned film and television actor, George Sanders, famous for powerful roles in classics like Rebecca (1940) and All About Eve (1950), in which he won an Academy Award, and numerous other roles, co-stars as a butler.

His role in Psychomania is barely more than a throwaway part since he does not have much to do. Hardly the crowning achievement of his long career, he committed suicide soon after the shooting wrapped.

Star, Nicky Henson joked that Sanders saw the finished film and overdosed on pills, realizing how far his career had descended. Hopefully, that’s an urban legend.

Beryl Reid, wonderfully bitchy in The Killing of Sister George (1968) as a lesbian soap opera star is similarly downgraded, playing a glamorous matron who gets her kicks by holding seances for her neighbors.

She is the mother of the psychopathic leader of a violent teen gang.

Tom Latham (Henson) is the handsome leader of “The Living Dead”, said motorcycle gang, who enjoy driving around town intimidating folks. He is joined by his pretty girlfriend, Abby (Mary Larkin), who is good-natured and not as rebellious as the others.

Tom has time to flirt with other girls and uses his good looks to his advantage. He is in cahoots with his mother (Reid), and they have a penchant for frogs and black magic.

The gang decides, through Tom’s encouragement, to commit suicide and if they believe in it, they will return as one of the “undead”.

Each follows suit, except for Abby, and engages in ritualistic activities at their hangout, “The Seven Witches”, which is a poor man’s Stonehenge. They decide to kill Abby because of her defiance.

The DVD quality (mine anyway) was atrocious and did the film no favors. My enjoyment would have increased if the luscious English landscape and its vibrant colors could have been capitalized on.

Mrs. Latham’s home, filled with creative antiques and oddities, would have been enhanced with better quality.

The story never comes together. I like the main character Tom and find his sneering and posturing appealing in a light-hearted way. Henson is way too good-looking to be believable as a foreboding and crazy guy, but he sure is easy on the eyes.

No chemistry is to be found between him and Larkin, but they are cast well for this type of film- looks over acting talent. Neither is terrible in the acting department nor great either.

The supporting characters look very British and of the 1970s, which is to be expected. This isn’t an annoyance as much as an astute observance. From the doctors who perform the autopsies to the constables, to the chief inspector, everyone looks their part.

Psychomania has a 1970s look and feel, so it ultimately feels like a dated film because there is not much else to distinguish it from others.

It’s adequate, but not much more.

On the positive, some of the music is chirpy and hip, which adds a bit of an upbeat, contemporary vibe. The numerous motorcycle scenes make me wonder if a motorcycle company has stock in the film but surprisingly works.

The film, targeted as a horror film, is a strange one to categorize. The cult and witchcraft elements give off that vibe. The title of Psychomania (1973) creates a motorcycle/horror effect.

I’m not sure what to make of this film other than a sleazy, greasy, devil-worshipping mess. Poor Don Sharp, well-known for directing many Hammer horror films, seems not to know what to do with the silly script he is handed.

Is it a goofy comedy or straight-ahead horror?

They Call Her One Eye-1973

They Call Her One Eye-1973

Director Bo Arne Vibenius

Starring Christina Lindberg, Heinz Hopf

Scott’s Review #1,061

Reviewed September 14, 2020

Grade: A-

They Call Her One Eye (1973) is a marvelously wicked revenge film that is a must-see for any Quentin Tarantino fans since it’s a blueprint for his works to come.

The famous director worked as a clerk at a video store (back when they had video stores) and stumbled upon many odd and wonderful obscure, independent films.

Through the guidance of his stepfather, he was encouraged to pursue his love of film by visiting art theaters and such.

Undoubtedly, They Call Her One Eye was one of his findings.

A young woman (Christina Lindberg) struggles to overcome her tortured past but runs into more trouble when she gets mixed up with a seemingly wonderful man (Heinz Hopf), who ends up being the exact opposite.

After she misses her bus to her job at a farm, the man picks her up and soon has her working as a prostitute and addicted to drugs. Her only chance to escape will be to learn martial arts and exact revenge on her pimp. She spends her time learning to fight and plotting a day of reckoning.

Impossible not to conjure images of Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003) and Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004), the film is told from a female perspective and revenge is the recipe of the day.

The main character also wears an eye-patch, following a horrific scene when her eyeball is removed as punishment for being defiant.

Any fan of Tarantino knows that the character of villainous Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) in Kill Bill also wears an eye patch and is a force to be reckoned with.

The film is focused on the 1970s female revenge genre so the fun is witnessing how badly Madeleine is treated by her pimp and her myriad of clients because we know they will soon be dead.

Director, Bo Arne Vibenius makes no bones about what type of film this is and as a good measure of gender equality, throws in a female client who abuses Madeleine.

They Call Her One Eye is also reminiscent of I Spit on Your Grave, a disturbing 1978 American film with a similar story and more fanfare.

Those with even the slightest hint of prudishness must be forewarned. There is not only extreme nudity (the film is Swedish after all!) but contained within are several pornographic sequences of both vaginal and anal sex.

The scenes are tough to watch, and the unknown is whether the actors appeared in these moments themselves since their faces cannot be seen.

My hunch is that these scenes were spliced in from real pornographic films of the day, but are not necessary or relevant to the rest of the film.

The Swedish locales are lovely especially those of the countryside or farmland and the subtitles are nice to have. The film loses a point because my copy of the DVD is dubbed in English rather than authentically Swedish speaking.

I found this a slight detraction but other viewers may find this just fine.

The fight scenes are mostly done in slow-motion which is another Tarantino stamp. This adds some flavor as the slowed-down scenes become more effective as blood and saliva spattering is at a maximum level.

Madeleine is the clear heroine (no pun intended) of the story so the film doesn’t contain any other good characters except for Madeleine’s parents who quickly commit suicide after receiving hateful letters they think are from their daughter.

Her plight is lofty since she is raped at a young age by a filthy derelict which leaves her mute.

The girl has little luck.

Her pimp Tony is dastardly and when he picks her up on the roadside we know there is terror in her future even though he benevolently takes her for dinner.

They Call Her One Eye is so low-budget that it almost feels like someone walked around with a camcorder and videotaped the sequences. Of course, this only lends credence to the grit the film produces and works exceptionally well for offering a seedy, dirty delight.

Rumor has it that during the eye-slicing scene, recommended for only those with steel-lined stomachs, a real corpse was used. Whether or not this is an urban legend is anyone’s guess.

Fans of Tarantino or those of experimental, artsy, horror meets thriller-lined productions will adore They Call Her One Eye (1973) as it is plagued with richness, disturbing storylines, and much blood.

However, the result will leave feminists or anyone championing women with a small smile on their face after the dramatic conclusion.

The Mackintosh Man-1973

The Mackintosh Man-1973

Director John Huston

Starring Paul Newman, James Mason, Dominique Sanda

Scott’s Review #1,058

Reviewed August 31, 2020

Grade: B

The Mackintosh Man (1973) is not one of legendary director John Huston’s best films.

Known for well-remembered titles like The African Queen (1951), The Maltese Falcon (1941), and The Misfits (1961) that all movie historians and fan buffs are familiar with (or should be), this project is rather lackluster, only picking up at the very end to offer a riveting ending.

The rest is mediocre, suffering from a weighted-down plot, a lacking romance, and little in the way of answers or a good wrap-up.

If this sounds too harsh I will say that anything starring Paul Newman is worth seeing. Huston hit the jackpot in the casting department and the actor provides enough to raise The Mackintosh Man’s status to an adequate “B” ranking.

I hate the title as it took days for it to stay in my memory.

Huston attempts to make the film a taut thriller which at times is achieved especially during the climax, and mix humor, but the funnies rarely come, only getting in the way of what would have been better in a darker vein.

It feels like a weak attempt to turn Paul Newman into James Bond.

Back to Newman. With his handsome face and icy blue eyes, he makes any film compelling, but I never really bought him in the role. This could be because of how the character is written.

Newman is an American actor who plays a British secret agent pretending (sometimes) to be Australian. This is a busy ask even for an actor of Newman’s caliber. He was much better in Alfred Hitchcock’s critically panned but well-aged, Cold War thriller, Torn Curtain (1966) in a similar role.

Dominique Sanda, brilliant in The Conformist (1969), has little screen time until the finale at which time her character finally shows depth.

Newman plays Joseph Rearden, a British intelligence agent tasked with bringing down a communist spy ring. After purposely getting himself tossed in a high-security prison, he breaks out of the joint in an escape arranged by a mysterious organization.

Rearden then tries to track the group’s activities and unmask its shadowy leader played by James Mason.

On paper, the premise sounds quite appealing and with Newman, Mason, and Sanda in my pocket, my expectations were lofty, but not met.

I am not painting the film as bad by any means, just not as good as I anticipated. Certainly, some aspects work.

Reardon’s time in prison is appealing and might have influenced the not-yet-made Escape from Alcatraz (1979).

When a male prisoner makes a pass at Reardon on the lunch line asking Reardon if he’d like to dance with him, he is kindly rebuffed. Does the prisoner cleverly respond with “maybe in a year or two”?

The scene is played for laughs but also contains a sweet innocence.

The Mackintosh Man is not a film where a scene like this can be interpreted as anything more than re-affirming Reardon’s (and Newman’s) masculinity, though.

From there, we get back to business.  He meets a convicted Russian spy and the two conceive a successful prison break. How they escape so easily is hard to swallow, but they have help from an organization.

After the breakout, Reardon finds himself drugged and sent to Ireland. It turns out that the escapade was organized by Mackintosh in the hopes Reardon could infiltrate the Scarperers gather information on the group’s leader, Sir George Wheeler (James Mason), and prove him to be a Russian spy.

Just writing this out feels too confusing which is the film’s main problem.

Reardon has a flirtation with an eccentric tall, bad girl straight out of a Kubrick film before connecting better with Mrs. Smith (Sanda) and culminating in a harrowing climax aboard a luxury yacht with the gorgeous backdrop of Malta.

The sequence almost makes the rest of the film forgivable as a lot of action suddenly develops and the landscape is gorgeous. A deadly and unexpected shooting occurs after an incident involving drugged champagne or white wine.

I advise watching The Mackintosh Man (1973) with the knowledge that the slowness and the confusion of most of the film are worth watching for the fantastic finish.

Events and plot points may not necessarily all be spelled out, but the yacht scene and Malta locales are tremendous.

Newman carries the film with good acting from Mason and Sanda supporting the star.



Director Michael Crichton

Starring Richard Benjamin, James Brolin, Yul Brynner

Scott’s Review #1,056

Reviewed August 25, 2020

Grade: A-

I have seen the film version of Westworld (1973) before and after having watched the current hit HBO television series, brilliant in its complexities.

Many are not even aware that the series is based on a film and that is a pity because the film is good stuff with lots to digest in a short time.

Admittedly, watching it in present times given the extreme psychology that the series offers, the film has so much more it could have offered but it’s still a great watch.

One must always remember the time-period a film is made for proper context and comparison.

Yul Brynner nearly steals the film in a spectacular and creepy performance as a wide-eyed futuristic android cowboy to Richard Benjamin and James Brolin’s regular guys out for an escapist good time.

Much of the film could be conceived as a buddy film with a bevy of homoerotic elements brimming beneath the surface if one is aware. These tidbits spice things up in an already escapist and futuristic world.

A titillating high-tech adult-themed amusement park is the backdrop of the film. Participants can choose any of the three worlds to embark on Western World, Medieval World, or Roman World. All contain lavish and realistic trimmings and ooze realism.

The inhabitants are robots, not real people, so they can be shot, stabbed, or made love to depending on the personal tastes of those who wish to indulge in their wildest fantasies.

The island is very exclusive, and the experience comes at a high cost.

Peter (Benjamin) and John (Brolin) are businessmen who adore the Wild West, so they select the Western World. They enjoy frolicking with desperadoes, gunslingers, and dance-hall girls who appear as if they are human beings.

Enjoying their adventures, the technicians notice odd behavior from the androids. Small at first, events escalate quickly when a gunslinger (Brynner) goes on a rampage with Peter and John as his targets.

Since the television series is fleshed out so well and the motivations and the stories of the androids are examined at length, it makes it easy to ask why the film does not, or rather, wish it had.

On the one hand, it is creepy not knowing what makes Brynner’s gunslinger tick, on the other hand, I want to know what makes him tick.

I also wanted to know more about the guests. Why were they there and what are their lives in the real world like?

One way in which the film is superior to the series is the way Peter and John are written.

Is it my imagination or do the pair seem a little closer than merely friends? Do they wish to escape their lives to be together? Are the wives and children waiting at home for them?

A scene of Peter bathing is erotic especially as he must abandon the tub mid-soak to battle a foe. He is the Marlboro man personified, though Benjamin’s too recent turn as the twit father from Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970) ruins any masculinity he has.

The climax is riveting.

Since we are unsure of the gunslinger’s motivations we are unsure what he will do. A frightening scene occurs when the gunslinger intently walks down a corridor with his expressionless eyes attentively stalking his prey. This still gives me the chills.

When the android is sprayed with acid his face becomes freakish and psychotic-looking this adds fright to an already frightening character. When Peter frantically traverses the park looking for help his peril is terrific as he finds dead guests and damaged robots everywhere.

The severity of the situation is finally realized.

Crichton deserves much of the credit since he not only directed but wrote the screenplay, and this was his debut! The pacing is excellent and something is going on all the time making the film feel as entertaining as it is intelligent.

The dazzling cinematography of the world allows the viewer to see the differences.

Westworld is riddled with intriguing questions that are left unanswered and this adds to the tension.

Impossible not to compare the film to the series as much as we might like not to, Westworld (1973) is a freakish, creative, adventure that I wanted so much more from having seen the complexities and story possibilities crafted for the series.

I am not a fan of remakes but in this case, a modern retelling is not a bad idea. Some accuse the film of being cheesy, over-the-top, or “too 70’s”, but I disagree.

I like the hidden trimmings and messages mixed with the good fun.

Vault of Horror-1973

Vault of Horror-1973

Director Roy Ward Baker

Starring Curd Jurgens, Daniel Massey

Scott’s Review #1,038

Reviewed June 26, 2020

Grade: A-

Horror anthologies are usually a vast treat and a reminiscent memory of childhood afternoons watching Twilight Zone re-runs on television.

This is hardly much of a stretch since Vault of Horror (1973) is a British anthology based on Tales from the Crypt (1972), which in turn was based on stories EC Comics series.

Each chapter is superior storytelling providing bloodthirsty horror viewers with suspense, adventure, and surprise endings.

Below is a summary, review, and rating of each vignette.

Framing Story- A

Events get off to an intriguing start as one-by-one five businessmen enter an elevator in a corporate office in downtown London. They are taken to the basement level though none of them has pressed that floor and emerge to find a gentlemen’s club.

With no way to get back onto the elevator, they begin to drink, each discussing a reoccurring nightmare.

This segment immediately grasps the viewer as we ponder questions. Is someone holding the men there for a reason, who is behind it, and why? Are the men’s nightmares only nightmares or are they revealing deeper secrets?

Midnight Mess- A

Harold Rodgers (Daniel Massey) is a suave, well-dressed man who tracks down his missing sister Donna (real-life sister, Anna Massey!) in a peculiar village. He fiendishly kills her to acquire her share of their father’s inheritance.

Working up an appetite he dines at a local restaurant that serves blood soup and blood clots as the main course. The village is inhabited by sophisticated vampires and his sister is one of them!

This vignette is my favorite as the restaurant decor is warm and toasty, the village provides a stylish ambiance, and clever writing exists throughout. The bloody feast the eatery serves is a devilish delight in macabre humor.

And the fangs are great.

The Neat Job- A

Arthur Critchit (Terry-Thomas) is an elegant man suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. He is married to Eleanor (Glynis Johns), a trophy wife, who despite wanting to please her husband, is a lousy housekeeper.

Constantly criticized for being incompetent, Eleanor loses it and kills Arthur with a hammer. She proudly cuts him to bits and stores his remains in glass jars, all neatly labeled.

This story is simply delicious, offering elegant British furniture to salivate over and macabre, witty comedy as the viewer eagerly anticipates what Eleanor will do when she finally snaps, and we just know she will snap.


The Trick’ll Kill You- A-

Sebastian (Curd Jurgens) is a magician on holiday in India, where he and his wife Inez (Dawn Addams) are searching for new tricks for their act.

Frustrated, they encounter a girl charming a rope out of a basket with a flute. The couple persuades her to come to their hotel room where they murder her and steal the enchanted rope. They gleefully plot how to incorporate the rope into their act assuring them of riches.

Inez experiments with climbing the rope only to disappear with a scream. An ominous patch of blood appears on the ceiling, and the rope coils around Sebastian’s neck and hangs him. Their smirking victim reappears alive in the bazaar.

This vignette provides a good glimpse of the Far East and is culturally outstanding. The story is compelling though a letdown from the earlier entries.

Bargain in Death- B+

Maitland (Michael Craig) is buried alive as part of an insurance scam concocted with his friend Alex (Edward Judd). They each plan to double-cross and kill the other to get the money.

Two trainee doctors bribe a gravedigger to dig up a corpse to help with their studies. When Maitland’s coffin is opened, he jumps up gasping for air, and the gravedigger kills him. At the same time, Alex’s car crashes into a tree and he dies.

In humorous comedy, when trying to close the sale of the corpse the gravedigger apologizes to the doctors for the damage to the head.

This segment is more comical than the others and a nice aside is that the trainee doctors are named Tom and Jerry. The plot is a bit convoluted and doesn’t succeed as much as the other stories.

Drawn and Quartered- A

Moore (Tom Baker) is a struggling painter living in Haiti. When he learns that his paintings have been sold for high prices by art dealers after being praised by a critic, he goes to a voodoo priest for help exacting revenge.

He is instructed that whatever he paints or draws can be harmed by damaging its image.

Returning to London, Moore paints portraits of the three men who cheated him and mutilates the paintings to exact his revenge. After the displays, his portrait, each one, including Moore, suffers an agonizing experience.

This story is top-notch, and the loss of the eyes and the hands are the highlights of fun.

As the film wraps, we learn the mysterious puzzle involving the five men in a satisfying form.

Vault of Horror (1973) is a horror anthology that hardly disappoints. I am eager to watch this one again which is a major achievement for a cinematic offering to have on a viewer.

Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural-1973

Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural-1973

Director Richard Blackburn

Starring Cheryl Smith, Leslie Gilb

Scott’s Review #1,036

Reviewed June 22, 2020

Grade: A-

Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural (1973) is a bizarre and fascinating horror film and a great example of 1970s experimental cinema.

At the risk of stating that there may be a tad too much exploration going on since aspects go in many directions, the film is the perfect watch for a late weekend night extravaganza of the weird and wild and is a joy to view.

The fact that I am still thinking about the film days after watching is a tremendous sign. Vampires, creepy clown-like figures, a reverend, a blood-thirsty woman, and a thirteen-year-old girl make up the cast of unusual characters to feast one’s eyes upon in delight.

During the Prohibition era in the southern United States of America, a young, angelic girl named Lila Lee (Cheryl Smith) slips out one night to look for her gangster father after an anonymous and cryptic tip.

Lila is someone of note in her small town, envied by many in the church where she preaches with the local Reverend (Richard Blackburn).

She treks along swampy territory to the strange town, Astaroth where her father is being held. After Lila is attacked by vampires a strange woman named Lemora (Lesley Gilb) helps her and gives her a place to reside, but Lila soon begins to wonder if Lemora is a friend or a foe.

For such a low-budget affair the visual details are superb.

The photography and the use of lighting are particularly honorable. Many characters ooze with glowing fright, especially Lemora. The ghostly white color enhances her blood-red lips offering a pasty and haunting image that is ghastly to the eyes.

If done at a sloppy level the result could easily have been juvenile or comedic (not in a good way), but the elements fall together in an easy flow that combines horrific details that fascinate.

The best characters are Lila and Lemora and their scenes together are immense. Gilb is the standout and brings a monotone, wide-eyed performance reminiscent of a talking Bride of Frankenstein.

She frightens the audience, to say nothing of Lila, and is a fantastic villain.

Beautiful and erotic, her sexuality is in question.

Lila, young, fresh-faced, and developing, is ripe for the picking by Lemora, but I was perplexed if Lemora wanted her blood or her other parts. The vague, but suggested lesbianism and sexual abuse of a child only enhance the mystique and macabre qualities. When Lemora bathes Lila this is where it’s most evident.

I adore films that challenge the norm and attempt to break the mold of your typical carbon copy film or a formulaic script, but there is none to be had in Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural and it keeps the viewer guessing.

Comparisons to the brilliant The Night of the Hunter (1955) have been made and while I don’t quite see that, a chilling fairy tale concept exists. Think Hansel and Gretel, the Brothers Grimms German fairy tale, sans Hansel.

Lila’s pigtails and little girl’s dress give her a child’s vulnerability and appearance.

While deserving of credit for bravery and letting loose from a story perspective, there is a measure of disorder and confusion as to what is going on that perplexed me.

Blackburn, who also plays the Reverend, offers many creatures who are on the attack, coming out of nowhere to scare Lila. Unclear is who they are (or were!) and what their motivations are.

Why does Lemora like to feed on children? Is she holding Lila’s father captive to lure her into her clutches? Is Lila’s blood more desirable than other children’s? The plot points are uneven but maybe that doesn’t matter.

A suggestion, if plausible, is to check out the uncut version of the film. I saw the cut version which was trimmed by nearly forty minutes and released theatrically in late 1974.

Tough to find, I wonder if this would provide more clarity to several plot items. Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural (1973) was heavily criticized by the Catholic Legion of Decency who deemed it “anti-Catholic”, which is more than enough reason to give it a whirl.

Don’t Look in the Basement-1973

Don’t Look in the Basement-1973

Director S.F. Brownrigg

Starring Anne MacAdams, Rosie Holotik

Scott’s Review #954

Reviewed November 5, 2019

Grade: B

A film that is so low-budget that it strongly resembles the quality of independent master John Waters films, Don’t Look in the Basement (1973) has very low production values. It makes Waters’s films look like grandiose budget fests.

It contains a campy and cheap quality that adds to the fun of watching. With a videotaped look and marginal acting, the film is perfect for a late-night indulgence, but little more.

Director S.F. Brownrigg, with screenwriter, Tim Pope, brought this project to life. Also named The Forgotten and Death Ward #13, Don’t Look in the Basement is the title that works best and conjures up the most intrigue.

The story revolves around a collection of odd hospital inmates running the asylum while a series of mishaps occur.

Stephens Sanitarium is a secluded mental health facility in a remote area run by the quirky Dr. Stephens. The good doctor believes that the secret to curing his crazy group of loons is to allow them to express themselves, acting out their realities in hopes of solving their problems.

Stephens and an elderly nurse are both killed separately, he is accidentally hacked to bits by an ax, and she has her head crushed by a female patient who thinks her baby (a doll) is being taken from her.

Dr. Geraldine Masters (Anne MacAdams) is left to run the facility and greets a new nurse, the sexy Charlotte (Rosie Holotik) when she arrives from out of town expecting a job.

Charlotte encounters all the inmates before strange events begin to occur like an older patient having her tongue cut out, and a visiting telephone repairman being murdered.

One could speculate that Don’t Look in the Basement influenced independent treats such as Supervixens (1975), High Anxiety (1977), or the plethora of slasher films soon to be on the horizon, but this may be wishful thinking.

A few choice scenes seem like quick blueprints for these films to follow but in an amateurish way.

Despite the film being of the horror genre category, several scenes, mostly of Charlotte and Geraldine talking in an office, seemingly carved from a daytime soap opera, which was popular in those days.

The long dialogue, and almost throwaway scenes, do not further the plot much, and it’s the occasional macabre death scene that achieves the most reaction.

Don’t Look in the Basement adds a big twist that is not difficult to figure out once all the pieces are presented to the viewer. The foreboding title ultimately underwhelms as this anticipated big secret barely comes to fruition.

As the players are offed one by one the implausible conclusion reaches a climax and the viewer will ruminate that the early stages of the film are superior to the ending.

The poor pacing and meandering story made me tune out from time to time. Still, the film is fun and a good, old-fashioned camp-goofy good time.

The characters are completely over-the-top in the best possible way. A female nymphomaniac who, it is relayed, has been left by any man she has ever met and craves love and affection, is convinced that the repairman will marry her (they have only just met!) and has sex with his corpse.

A lobotomized black man only eats purple lollipops and has a heart of gold, while the ugly old woman, sans tongue, attempts to convey a secret message.

Don’t Look in the Basement (1973) is a marginal success because it does not take itself too seriously. This is both good and bad because the project takes on a juvenile quality that sometimes seems to be going for laughs more than for fright.

The acting is below par, but somehow the characters retain enough interest to warrant a recommendation, but only for those with interest in the genre.

Soylent Green-1973

Soylent Green-1973

Director Richard Fleischer

Starring Charlton Heston, Leigh Taylor-Young

Scott’s Review #943

Reviewed October 8, 2019

Grade: B

Soylent Green (1973) is a rather obscure offering starring then big-named star Charlton Heston in a dystopian science-fiction film.

The story is futuristic and eerily reminiscent of Planet of the Apes (1968), though not nearly as compelling nor as layered.

The result is admirable for its progressive message, cool colors, and sets, but feels dated and of its time and treats female characters more like props than characters, leaving an uneven result.

It’s a one-and-done sort of film.

The year is 2022 and because of the Industrial Revolution, forty million people live in New York City, suffering year-round from extreme humidity because of the greenhouse effect and shortages of water, food, and housing.

Only the wealthy are afforded necessities and residents of the rich (mostly female) are referred to as “furniture” and used as slaves.

Detective Frank Thorn (Heston) is tasked with investigating the murder of an affluent and prominent man, which leads him to dire details surrounding Soylent Industries and the food they produce.

The film seems like someone’s visionary idea turned Hollywood.

Loosely based on a 1966 novel entitled “Make Room! Make Room!” by Harry Harrison, Heston is cast as the lead while his career was slowly declining, but he is still the star and quite hunky for an older gentleman.

He plays a role similar to the character of George Taylor in Planet of the Apes, especially during the final climactic reveal, which will make viewers question what is contained in what they are eating for dinner.

Heston carries the film well and mixes wonderfully with character actor Edward G. Robinson, who plays Sol Roth in his final role. The old character decides to “return to the home of God” and seeks assisted suicide at a government clinic.

The final scene between the actors is poignant and heartfelt as they say goodbye to each other. Eagle-eyed viewers will spot a young Dick Van Patten in a tiny role during this scene.

Any romantic chemistry is lacking in Soylent Green as a potential love match between Frank and Shirl (Leigh Taylor-Young) strikes out. Mismatched and having little thunder together, the couple does not appeal well.

Making matters worse is that Shirl is mere “furniture” limiting the character’s potential. She is reduced to assisting with Frank’s investigation.

The main detraction is that the film does not feel very futuristic or authentic. The characters look like actors from the 1970s dressed up to look like they are from the future always with a tint of Hollywood thrown in.

The story loses its way halfway through and teeters about between pure science-fiction and a standard detective story, seen nightly at that time on network television.

Still, the film does contain a robust amount of potential but is not reached. The progressive slant and social commentary are admirable, and the bright green nutritious synthetic canned food is almost a character.

The final scene will shock the viewer with horror and I wish more scenes this jaw-dropping existed within the entire experience and not simply at the end.

A film that attempts to do something different or provide a provocative message is worthy of a certain amount of praise.

Soylent Green (1973) carves a bit of thought provocation but seems more relevant for the 1970s than containing much interest decades later.

Heston is dazzling as the main character and the trimmings are impressive but Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) or The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) resonate more as similar genre films.

The Long Goodbye-1973

The Long Goodbye-1973

Director Robert Altman

Starring Elliott Gould

Scott’s Review #830

Reviewed November 14, 2018

Grade: A

Nearly a full-fledged character study of one man’s moral fiber, The Long Goodbye (1973) is an edgy piece of direction by famous mastermind Robert Altman.

The setting of the Los Angeles underbelly is fabulous and effective as is dim lighting and excellent camera work prevalent throughout. The film is not cheery and rather bleak which suits me just fine given the smart locale.

Perhaps a more obscure Altman offering, but the film sizzles with zest and authenticity.

The film is based on a story written by Raymond Chandler in 1953.

Altman, however, opts to change the setting from 1950 to present times- 1970s Los Angeles and present a film noir experience involving deceit and shenanigans where all is not as it seems.

I think this is a wise move and I could not help but draw many comparisons (mainly the overall story) to Chinatown (1974), released the year after The Long Goodbye, but a film much better remembered.

Elliott Gould is wonderful as Phillip Marlowe, a struggling private investigator, and insomniac. He is asked by a friend, Terry Lennox, for a ride to the Mexico border one night and agrees to do the favor.

This leads to a mystery involving police, gangsters, and Eileen and Roger Wade after Phillip is questioned regarding his connection to Terry, who is accused of murdering his wife Sylvia.

The seedy side and complexities of several characters are revealed as the story unfolds and the plot gradually thickens.

My favorite aspects of The Long Goodbye are not necessarily the primary storytelling, though the writing is filled with tension.

As the film opens an extended sequence featuring a “conversation” between Phillip and his cat is both odd and humorous. The finicky feline refuses to eat anything other than one brand of cat food. As Phillip tries reasoning with the cat through talking and meowing, he is forced to venture out in the middle of the night to an all-night grocery store.

Altman, known to allow his actors free-reign for improvised dialogue, appears to allow Gould to experiment during this scene.

Phillip’s neighbors, a bundle of gorgeous twenty-something females, seem to do nothing except exercise on their balcony, get high, and request he buy them brownie mix for a “special occasion”.

As they stretch topless, usually in the background and almost out of camera range, they are a prime example of an interesting nuance of the film. The girls are mysterious but have nothing to do with the actual plot adding even more intrigue to the film.

In one of the most frightening scenes in cinematic history and one that could be straight from The Godfather (1972), crazed gangster, Marty Augustine (Mark Rydell), slices the beautiful face of his girlfriend to prove a point to Marlowe.

In a famous line, he utters, “That’s someone I love. You, I don’t even like.” The violent act is quick, unexpected, and fraught with insanity.

Finally, the film’s conclusion contains a good old-fashioned twist worthy of any good film noir. In the end, the big reveal makes sense and begs to raise the question “why did we trust this character?”

In addition to the viewer being satisfied, Marlowe also gets a deserved finale and proves that he cannot be messed with nor taken for a fool.

The Long Goodbye is undoubtedly the best film of Gould’s career. With a charismatic, wise-cracking persona, the chain-smoking cynic is deemed by most as a loser. He is an unhappy man and down on humanity but still wants to do what is right. He lives a depressed life with few friends and the company of only his cat.

While he is marginally entertained by his neighbors, he goes about his days only barely getting by emotionally. Gould is brilliant at relaying all these qualities within his performance.

The addition of the title theme song in numerous renditions is a major win for the film and something noticed more and more with each repeated viewing. The ill-fated gangster’s girlfriend hums along to the song playing on the radio at one point, and a jazz pianist plays a rendition in a smoky bar.

This is an ingenious approach by Altman and gives the film a greater sense of mystery and style.

There is no question among cinema lovers that Robert Altman is one of the best directors of all time.

In his lengthy catalog filled with rich and experimental films, The Long Goodbye (1973) is not the best-remembered nor the most recognizable.

I implore film fans, especially fans of plodding mystery and intrigue to check this great steak dinner of a film out.

Don’t Look Now-1973

Don’t Look Now-1973

Director Nicolas Roeg

Starring Julie Christie, Donald Sutherland

Scott’s Review #693

Reviewed October 22, 2017

Grade: A

Don’t Look Now is an exceptional 1973 supernatural horror film that is as thought-provoking as it is intelligently written and directed.

Combined with riveting acting by famous Hollywood stars of the day, the film is simply an anomaly and must be seen to be appreciated. It is also the type of film that can be watched again and again for better clarity and exhibits the age-old “it gets better with age” comparison.

The film is rich with story, atmosphere, and cerebral elements, as well as being highly influential to horror films that followed.

An affluent married couple, John and Laura Baxter (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie), live happily together in their English country home, raising their two children, Johnny and Christine.

After a tragic drowning incident, resulting in the death of Christine, the devastated couple relocates to Venice, after John accepts a position restoring an ancient church. Soon, Laura meets a pair of elderly sisters, one of whom is blind and claims to be clairvoyant, warning her of imminent danger and that Christine is attempting to contact her from beyond.

Don’t Look Now is hardly your standard horror film, which is the main part of its appeal- psychological in nature, the film holds only one gruesome death- not including the death of Christina, which is a terrible accident- not malicious.

Rather, director Nicolas Roeg quietly builds the suspense to a startling final sequence by using a chilling musical score to elicit a reaction from the audience. We know not what will happen, only that something sinister is bound to.

Due to the successful chemistry between Sutherland and Christie, in 1973, both cream of the crop in terms of film success and marketability, the actors deserve much credit for making Don’t Look Now both believable and empathetic.

John and Laura, each give their character a likable nature and immeasurable chemistry, which makes the audience care for them.

Despite the supernatural elements in the film, at its core, the story is quite humanistic. John and Laura have tragically lost a child and we see them deal with the painful grief associated with this loss.

The famous sex scene between the pair is shocking given the time, but also tastefully done, as Roeg uses a fragmented filming style that mixes the nudity with the couple dressing for dinner.

Visually, Don’t Look Now is a pure treat. The viewer is catapulted to the cultural and wonderful world of watery Venice, where scene after scene features gondola rides, exterior treats of the city, and filming locations such as the famous Hotel Gabrielli Sandworth and the San Nicolo dei Mendicoli church, wisely chosen as shooting locations giving the film an effective realism.

The characters of the elderly sisters, Heather and Wendy, are wonderfully cast. Hilary Mason and Clelia Matania are fantastic and believable as the mysterious duo. Seemingly kindly and eager to help, I was never really sure what the character’s true motives were.

Was Laura paying them for their assistance?

The film never reveals this information, but Heather especially contains a sinister look that shrouds her motivations in uncertainty. Fabulous actress Mason shines in her important role.

As John begins to “see things”, the use of the color red becomes very important. Christine died wearing a red coat and John sees a child wearing a red coat walking around the city, but cannot make out her face.

When he sees Laura and the sisters at a funeral, we begin to question his sanity. But are the sisters up to something and attempting to trick him or is his mind playing tricks on him?

The terrific conclusion will only lead the viewer to more questions.

Don’t Look Now (1973) is a unique, classic horror film, with incredible thematic elements, an eerie psychological story, fine acting, and location sequences that will astound.

Mixing the occult with an unpredictable climax, the film is influenced by Alfred Hitchcock and succeeds in achieving a blood-curdling affair sure to be discussed upon the chilling conclusion.

The film is non-linear in storytelling, which only makes it more challenging to watch and appreciate.

Live and Let Die-1973

Live and Let Die-1973

Director Guy Hamilton

Starring Roger Moore, Jane Seymour

Scott’s Review #646

Reviewed May 25, 2017

Grade: A-

When Live and Let Die was released in 1973, it began a new chapter in the James Bond film franchise with the introduction of a new Bond.

Sean Connery refused to do any more Bond pictures, and Roger Moore was crowned the new film hero and successfully made the role his own during his tenure.

My personal favorite Bond from top to bottom- I enjoyed the wry humor Moore added- he makes Live and Let Die more than it otherwise might have been with a less charismatic actor.

The story and the subsequent elements of the film have issues, but this installment holds a soft spot for me as it was one of my first exposures to the mountainous franchise that is Bond, and I adore the period of the mid-1970s.

Bond (Moore) is summoned to duty by his leader, M after three MI6 agents are simultaneously killed in the Caribbean, New Orleans, and at the United Nations in New York City. Bond is then tasked with figuring out who killed these agents and how the deaths are connected.

The adventure takes Bond from Harlem to an unnamed island in the Caribbean, and back to the bayous of southern Louisiana as he tangles with a heroin drug lord, Dr. Kananda.

Bond’s main love interest in the film is the virginal tarot card reader, Solitaire, played by Jane Seymour.

Live and Let Die is a breakthrough in some ways, though the film admittedly contains both positives and negatives worthy of discussion.

Since the film was made in 1973, following a successful run of “Blaxploitation” films like 1971’s Shaft and 1972’s Super Fly, the film is influenced by those in style (for better or worse).

This means that all of the villains are black, from the main villain, Kananga, to various henchmen and even background criminals growing the massive amounts of heroin shipped to the United States for distribution.

Having such representation among a minority group is fantastic and feels cutting edge, but stereotypes such as derogatory racial epithets, a pimpmobile, and the addition of weird voodoo, exist.

Another major flaw to the film, and despite my overall warmth for Live and Let Die, is the goofiness that the film turns into towards the end of the film.

At a certain point, the film feels like a different film from what it starts as, which becomes quite jarring-the introduction of Sheriff J.W. Pepper during a Louisiana chase scene turns the film into more of a cheesy Dukes of Hazzard episode, with bumbling law enforcement officials, rather than a quality film, and the southern stereotypes run rampant.

Why does a throwaway scene of a speedboat racing through an outdoor wedding feature all high society white folks with nary a black character existing other than as servants?

Some diversity in this scene would have been nice considering the film goes out of its way to feature black characters.

Still, many positives do exist. Live and Let Die has the honor of containing the first-ever black Bond girl- the CIA double agent, Rosie Carver, who sadly meets a grisly ending far too soon.

Gloria Hendry’s chemistry with Roger Moore is readily apparent, though the film chooses to make the character inept rather than a true equal. The smoldering sex scenes between the duo are wonderful and groundbreaking to watch so the film gets major props for pushing the envelope in this way.

Memorable is the terrific title theme song, “Live and Let Die”, by Paul McCartney and Wings. The success of this hit song, especially decades later, does wonders to elevate the film and keep it relevant in pop culture.

Also great to see are the location sequences and good action car chase scenes along the West Side Highway in New York City and into Harlem.

A treat for this retro fan is the inclusion of early 1970s Chevrolet Impalas and Chevy Novas throughout the entire feature film- was Chevy a financial backer?

Classic cars are a major inclusion in Live and Let Die, which as a current-day viewer is a cool treat and quite retro.

In the way of the primary villain and primary Bond girl, the film misses. Jane Seymour is a dud as Solitaire, a character that really should have been played by a black actress. Seymour and Moore have zero chemistry and her character is weak and simpering, lacking any sort of backbone.

Similarly, Yaphet Kotto as Dr. Kananga seems miscast and lacks any real qualities that make him neither devious nor dangerous, and his inevitable swan song underwhelms.

Live and Let Die (1973) is not the greatest in the Bond collection and suffers from some problematic, now-dated aspects, racial issues, and a silly overtone, but, perhaps more so as a terrific childhood memory, I hold a particular fondness toward this film despite many negatives.

Oscar Nominations: Best Song-“Live and Let Die”



Director Woody Allen

Starring Woody Allen, Diane Keaton

Scott’s Review #631

Reviewed April 5, 2017

Grade: B

One of the earliest of Woody Allen’s enormous list of films that he both directed and starred in, 1973’s Sleeper is a comedic, science-fiction film, and a blueprint for future Allen masterpieces, such as Manhattan (1979) and Annie Hall (1977).

While this film has moments of intelligence and clever dialogue, it too often teeters into straight-up slapstick and silliness to be held in the same esteem as the aforementioned richer films.

Rather it is a juvenile effort as compared to masterpieces to follow, but admittedly with some laughs and creative moments. Sleeper is the first of several to pair Allen with longtime co-star, Diane Keaton.

Allen portrays Miles Monroe, a nerdy jazz musician, and owner of the “Happy Carrot” health-food store in Greenwich Village, New York City sometime in the then present time of the 1970s.

In the hospital for routine surgery, he is cryogenically frozen for two hundred years, waking up in an otherworldly police state and frazzled beyond belief.

The scientists who revive him are part of a rebellion and beg Miles to assist them as they are taken into police custody, pleading with him to search for a secret plan known only as the “Aries Project”.

Miles then poses as a robotic butler and goes to work for Luna (Keaton), a spoiled, bitchy, socialite. The duo ultimately bonded together and spent the rest of the film outrunning and outsmarting their pursuers.

Sleeper succeeds as a novel story, one filled with unique and interesting gadgets from a futuristic world, with clever, witty, crisp dialogue and odes to the past world, now deemed irrelevant.

Amusing are scenes when scientists explain that natural foods and products, at one time thought to be healthy and natural, are not so much.

This makes the world that Miles is used to seem silly and superfluous in their minds.

I also enjoyed the physical humor that the film contains, as when Miles (as his robotic persona) serves dinner to a sophisticated group of Luna’s friends, accidentally destroying their expensive outerwear in a garbage incinerator as well as botching dinner.

As all of the attendees are high on hallucinogenic drugs (including Miles), they fail to realize that he is a human being- they dance with glee and stumble around in a haze, largely unaware of their surroundings.

This is one of the best scenes in the film.

The plot itself is fairly predictable though and almost forced. Miles and Luna are the couples we root for in the film, the introduction of a handsome rebel leader, Erno Windt (John Beck) doesn’t stand a chance and is somewhat of a foil for them.

Much of the time, the pair are on the run and sparring with each other. The actors involved have wonderful chemistry with each other, but the central story is not the strongest suit- rather, the weird and unique gadgets and intricacies of the film, are.

Albeit, an introduction for anyone intrigued by the comic genius that is Woody Allen, other polished Allen gems are a better start than this early offering, but that is not to say Sleeper (1973) is not a good, entertaining film, with imagination, merely that it lacks all of the elements to rank it among other Woody Allen greats.

Magnum Force-1973

Magnum Force-1973

Director Ted Post

Starring Clint Eastwood, Hal Holbrook

Top 100 Films #87

Scott’s Review #336


Reviewed January 9, 2016

Grade: A

The follow-up to the original action thriller to end all action thrillers, Dirty Harry, 1973’s Magnum Force is as good as the original in my opinion but flies under the radar as compared to the acclaimed Harry.

Both films are similar in style and grit, but Magnum Force holds sentimental memories for me, as I remember watching the film countless times on rainy Saturday afternoons as a kid.

The similarities abound between both films as the screenwriter and score are by the same writer and composer, respectively.

Admittedly, Magnum Force is more conventional and less dirty than its predecessor.

Playing not just the same role of Harry Callahan, the grizzled, hard-nosed Inspector from Dirty Harry, but Clint Eastwood also plays him in quite the same manner.

Not one to blow anyone away with his dazzling acting talent, Eastwood is smart to keep to the status quo. The character is tough, and no-nonsense, but has a take-prisoner vulnerability we love and admire.

In this chapter, a syndicate of vigilante cops is taking matters into their own hands by assassinating known criminals who have been let off the hook either by connections or some other form of loophole.

The pattern is for uniformed patrol officers to pull over a criminal for a mundane reason only to shoot and kill them on the side of the road at point-blank range. They deserve it, but are the cops justified in their actions?

The appeal and mystery of the film are that the police officers wear dark helmets that hide their identities from the audience adding a level of intrigue.

The film offers up a moral question- do the criminals get what they deserve, and do the policemen have the right to justify their actions?

Especially relevant is the final thirty minutes of the film, as Harry and the central “villain”, Lieutenant Briggs (Holbrook)  have a standoff and discuss the topic.

Magnum Force is a shoot-’em-up action flick, so this debate is skirted over largely in favor of car chases and fight scenes. But the point can be thought about.

The best sequence of the film is the finale, as Callahan is lured to an abandoned garage and chased by three remaining cops. The big reveal is that Briggs is running the show and as he drives around in his early 1970’s Ford LTD, soon to become battered and weathered, it is a great scene, especially for those who enjoy car chases.

Magnum Force is a no-frills “guy” film, but one done very well and with an interesting, semi-controversial premise.

The film is the 1970s action genre at its very best.

Surprisingly, and to the film’s credit, one can discuss the film after watching it instead of it being a generic, forgettable flick.

The Exorcist-1973

The Exorcist-1973

Director William Friedkin

Starring Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair

Top 100 Films #39    Top 20 Horror Films #13

Scott’s Review #326


Reviewed January 5, 2016

Grade: A

Making a lasting mark on cinematic history and impossible not to be familiar with through some form of pop culture, The Exorcist (1973) is a classic supernatural horror film that transcends the genre to become a Hollywood success story.

Along with Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and The Omen (1976), these three films have similarly haunting “religious” subject matters and deal with dark and sinister topics such as “god versus the devil” and “good versus evil”.

The Exorcist is a masterpiece on every level and is adapted from the 1971 hit novel of the same name.

The story centers on “demonic possession” and was quite simply a shocking subject when The Exorcist was released in 1973, scaring the wits out of those brave enough to see it (especially Christians) everywhere.

Some abhorred the subject matter and refused to have any part of the film-their loss.

Ellen Burstyn stars as Chris MacNeil, an actress of note who moves to Georgetown to film a movie. In tow is her twelve-year-old daughter Regan (Linda Blair).

As shooting on the film wraps, Regan begins acting very strangely- making noises, becoming belligerent, and peeing on the floor during a dinner party. Worried, Chris enlists the assistance of priests (Max von Sydow and Jason Miller).

Things progress from bad to worse as Regan spirals out of control and Chris and the priests determine that an exorcism is the only resolution to the problem.

The Exorcist-mainly director William Freidkin sets up the film in a clever way by using various technical elements to build the tension.

For starters, the eerie musical score is highly successful at scaring the audience and the score is similar to that of Rosemary’s Baby. The film is also lit very well, so it appears dark with dim lighting- the cinematography and the windy rustling of leaves in the exterior sets are great.

The cover art of the film should give an indication of the unique style used- black and white, a man with a hat and suitcase peers up at the second floor of a house where a glowing light is illuminating- the image is intriguing and haunting.

Enough cannot be said for Linda Blair’s performance as Regan, especially in the final act. During the “pea soup” and the “Jesus crucifix” scenes a different voice was used, but the facial expressions and the emotions that Blair uses are admirable.

As Regan is bed-ridden, angry, scared, and emotional, there is no limit to Blair’s range. Throughout a large part of the film, she is a sweet, young girl- innocent, so much so that her transformation is both shocking and disturbing to witness.

The final act of the film- the “exorcism” is riveting and a groundbreaking aspect of film history. The terrifying scene all taking place in one child’s tiny bedroom elicits fright and is nail-biting beyond belief.

The Exorcist (1973) is a very influential film that inspired filmmakers for decades to come and still resonates with audiences to this day.

Oscar Nominations: 2 wins-Best Picture, Best Director-William Friedkin, Best Actress-Ellen Burstyn, Best Supporting Actor-Jason Miller, Best Supporting Actress-Linda Blair, Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (won), Best Sound (won), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing

The Wicker Man-1973

The Wicker Man-1973

Director Robin Hardy

Starring Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee

Scott’s Review #245


Reviewed May 31, 2015

Grade: B+

The Wicker Man is a cult horror film from 1973 that is considered one of the finest by horror critics.

While the film does not enamor me quite as much as some other favorites in the horror genre (Halloween, Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, Dressed to Kill, and Suspiria) immediately spring to mind while thinking of 1970s-style horror gems, I cannot help but admire The Wicker Man’s creativity and religious overtones.

Despite not awarding the film a solid “A” rating, I look forward to viewing this film again and, perhaps over time, as some films do, it will see an adjustment in scoring.

Set on an island in the Scottish Hebrides, named Summerisle, a devout Christian (Edward Woodward) named Sergeant Howie travels to the island in search of a missing young girl named Rowan Morrison, thought to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

The inhabitants are vague, aloof, or hostile towards the policeman. He immediately is disturbed to notice the group worships Celtic gods and notices other strange acts of worship and sexual behavior (a naked dance), which he resists and disapproves of.

He is tempted by a gorgeous seductress, Willow, played by Britt Ekland- most notably known as a Bond girl in The Man with the Golden Gun, and butts heads with the island leader, Lord Summerisle, played by horror legend Christopher Lee.

As he attempts to locate the missing girl, he uncovers some very dark goings-on around the island as the annual Mayday harvest celebration is about to occur. He deduces that Rowan is slated to be the sacrifice at the celebration and he races to find her before it is too late.

But is there more to the island than meets the eye?

The Wicker Man is not mainstream fare and that is what I admire most about it, as well as its British flare. It strives to challenge the norm in horror and question who is right and who is wrong and who the audience should champion.

Religion and the occult have been portrayed in horror films for eons, but rarely given a normal face. Typically, the villains are scary, horrid, or even cartoonish, clearly defined as bad.

Despite all of the townspeople being in on the sacrifice, they are seemingly ordinary appearing. They raise their kids, farm, run stores, and teach the kids in a classroom setting.

On the surface, they appear wholesome and that is part of what makes The Wicker Man so scary. Rosemary’s Baby did the same thing.

Typically, any sort of satanic overtones or human/animal sacrifices, frighten audiences, especially if the culprits could be their neighbors, friends, or even loved ones. The realness is unnerving.

Differing, controversial, religious beliefs are a prevalent theme throughout The Wicker Man as are elements of good vs. evil.

The film is not predictable. It delves into questions of morals and beliefs- for example, Howie is a virgin- saving himself for marriage and trying to be a good, decent person.

He is the moral center of the film and, in his belief, everyone on the island is either perverted, crazy or a sinner.

By this logic, Howie looks down on others who are dissimilar to him and comes across as preachy. I do not get the impression that the film wants the audience to love Howie- or hate him.

The balance between the old gods (Christianity) and new gods (Celtic paganism) makes the film interesting.

The shocking conclusion involving an enormous, life-sized burning wicker man is terrifying beyond belief and by far the best part of the film, as the hero must come to terms with his fate.

The final thirty minutes are quite spectacular from the final twist through the ending.

My lack of an exceptional grade for The Wicker Man stems from it being a tad too slow-moving. Perhaps a few additional jumps or frights along the way would have been beneficial, but, on the other hand, it is not a scary film, nor does it try to be.

It is, however, quite intelligent and, I suspect will increase my enjoyment with each subsequent viewing.

A fine addition to the relics of classic horror, The Wicker Man (1973) is a creative, mysterious, and left-of-the-center film.

Theatre of Blood-1973

Theatre of Blood-1973

Director Douglas Hickox

Starring Vincent Price, Diana Rigg

Scott’s Review #230


Reviewed March 23, 2015

Grade: B

Theatre of Blood (1973) stars Vincent Price, a long-time fixture in the classic/campy horror scene, as a demented Shakespearean theatre actor who enacts revenge on the critics who fail to recognize him with a coveted award that he cherishes.

Price, as always frighteningly good, delivers a campy, but not ridiculous, turn as the crazed actor.

Price’s appearance alone- tall, wiry, with sinister facial expressions, poises him perfectly to believability in any dastardly role he portrayed in his heyday and the performance he gives as Edward Lionheart is no exception.

Not solely a campy, melodramatic horror film, Theatre of Blood rises above that categorization with humorous tributes to Shakespeare and a unique chronicle of the Shakespearean works used to systematically off the critics one by one about the Shakespearean story- quite frankly in a comical and witty way.

Price eerily dresses in many different elaborate costumes to commit the murders- a wine-tasting expert, and a television host, among other interesting characters, and oftentimes, taunts his victims before permanently dispensing them.

The film is quite British in tone and humor and done in a tongue-in-cheek manner so that the murders are not to be taken at all too seriously.

The critics themselves- seven or eight of them- are deliciously fun. One is a loud boisterous fat man who always has his beloved poodles at his side.

What happens to him and the dogs is better left unsaid.

Another is an uptight, sophisticated woman (played by Price’s real-life wife Coral Browne). Several of the critics are created as comic villains so their demises are not all too devastating for the audience as they are rather unlikeable characters, to begin with.

I found myself rooting for Lionheart and looking forward to the next murder!

One criticism involves Diana Rigg, who plays Price’s daughter Edwina, accomplice to his dirty deeds. Well known for her starring role in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the 1960s Avengers series, Rigg has little substance to do in Theatre of Blood.

Perhaps by 1973, her film career was on the downturn and she was not winning the coveted roles any longer. I would have loved to see her sink her teeth into a meatier role.

A side-kick, Edwina could have done much more.

The film belongs to Price and the unique storytelling of Shakespearean works made only possible by this great actor.

Not overly serious and played for some laughs, Theatre of Blood (1973) is successful in its telling of an interesting British horror story.

It’s a nice late-night treat for fans of the British horror genre especially.



Director Brian De Palma

Starring Margot Kidder, Jennifer Salt

Scott’s Review #178


Reviewed September 29, 2014

Grade: B+

Directed by stylistic film genius Brian De Palma, Sisters (1973) is an early entry in the famed director’s repertoire and a direct homage to the classic films of Alfred Hitchcock.

The film stars Margot Kidder as a French-Canadian model named Danielle Breton, who shares a Staten Island, NY apartment with her demented twin sister Dominique. For many years Danielle and Dominique were conjoined twins and only recently surgically separated.

After a romantic date with a new acquaintance, Danielle begins to feel ill and Dominique murders the new boyfriend after he surprises, who he thinks is Danielle, with a birthday cake.

But is it Dominique or is it Danielle?

Meanwhile, a neighbor, Grace Collier played by Jennifer Salt, witnesses the murder from across the alley, and in a highly dramatic scene, involving the victim attempting to scrawl “help” on the window, Grace gets the police involved.

The authorities are skeptical and unsympathetic to Grace’s claims since she works as a newspaper reporter and is constantly challenging the police department in her articles.

Finally, when the police do search Danielle’s apartment, no dead body is found. This sets off the plot for the remainder of the film as Grace looks for the missing body on her own (in Nancy Drew’s style) with the help of a detective she hires, Joseph Larch, comically played by Charles Durning.

One point to mention about Sisters is that the film is a blueprint for De Palma films to come, but that does not mean it is not engaging on its own merits- it pales in comparison to other De Palma gems that followed, such as Carrie and Dressed to Kill.

It feels raw and slightly underdeveloped compared to those aforementioned films.

Danielle’s ex-husband and doctor, Eli, while creepy and sinister, is not fully explored, and his relation to events taking place is a bit vague throughout much of the film.

Techniques such as the split-screen showing simultaneous action oftentimes relating to each other are introduced in this film and are a marvel to watch as so much of the plot is revealed in these sequences- activity in Grace’s apartment contrasts with and interchanges perfectly with action in Danielle’s apartment- highly effective and suspenseful.

DePalma uses many Hitchcock influences, but in no way steals them- the idea of a set of conjoined twins with mental illness was taken from a real-life story of Soviet twins.

Viewers familiar with Psycho will smile during the murder scene as influences are apparent- Rear Window is certainly referenced as countless scenes of the camera looking into Danielle’s or Grace’s apartment or the camera looking out onto a street scene or someone with binoculars spying out of their apartment and into someone else’s apartment across the street- very visually oriented.

The Hitchcock similarities continue with the musical score- it is composed by Bernard Hermann, a frequent collaborator of Hitchcock films- think Vertigo.

After all of the psychological build-up throughout the first hour of the film, the final thirty minutes or so, taking place within the confines of a mental asylum, is confusing and unrealistic, as various flashbacks and dream sequences are used, even using one character taking the place of another in a dream- edgy and unique, but tough to follow and organize properly.

Grace is assumed to be a newly admitted mental patient seemed far-fetched. What exactly transpired between Danielle and Dominique present and/or in the past?

Even though events are explained, I found myself scratching my head a bit after the film.

For fans of Brian De Palma films, Sisters (1973) is a perfect movie experience to show the influence to come and not a bad film on its own either.



Director David Greene

Starring Victor Garber, Katie Hanley

Scott’s Review #23


Reviewed June 17, 2014

Grade: C+

Although Godspell (1973) is a popular and legendary Broadway musical production, the film left me with very mixed reactions.

The positives for me are the songs- they are memorable, and they stay in your head for days to come.

My absolute favorite is “Day by Day”.

I also enjoy the cast travels throughout NYC as I love when films are set here.

For the first thirty minutes of the film, I did not like it at all.

There is no plot, but simply a group of college-aged people leaving their crummy jobs and celebrating Jesus as they aimlessly flitter about the city, with nobody else in sight, singing songs of savior and celebration.

Then I started to realize this is not a “message” movie or an attempt to convert people towards religion. Many devout Christians despise the film.

The film left me with questions.

Is it tongue-in-cheek or meant to be taken seriously?

By the end of the film, I simply took it for a fun musical with great songs. It offers nothing more, nothing less.