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Tag Archives: Classic Review

Classic Review: Dr. No (1962)

It’s the one that started it all. Who would have thought that this 1962 film based off a novel, would spawn a franchise that would run even to today, fifty years later. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to Mr. James Bond?

For the first challenge, James is out to save the space program, and the entire world from the half German, half Chinese, metal hand-having, Dr. No. After a fellow agent goes missing in the Bahamas, 007 is sent to see what is going on. Beaches, babes, and booze are sure to follow.

I really wish this was the first Bond movie I’ve seen. Unfortunately, it is not. And while I think it started the franchise on the right foot, it definitely is not the best. While the formula is not quite there yet, the villain is definitely top notch. Dr. No, may not be the most physically intimidating nemesis, but is mysterious, has a wicked deformity, and is a pretty cool baddie. And how cool is it, to reveal 007, with the famous, “Bond…James Bond”? All in all, a solid Bond, but not the top of the chain.

My Rating: B-

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Review: Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Sean Connery came back after a one film hiatus to star in Diamonds Are Forever, the seventh official 007 film. Sometimes, even the greats don’t know when to hang them up.

Bond is after the diamond smuggling business and Diamonds Are Forever. James is soon sent to Vegas to investigate Ernst Stavro Blofeld and his high stakes diamond business. Diamonds are rapidly disappearing, and no one seems to know why. Leave it to Bond to put the world back in order.

So far, in my journey of Bond films, Diamonds Are Forever is by far my least favorite. Don’t get me wrong, it had its moments (the multiple Blofeld’s, the rappelling from the side of the hotel). But these bright spots were the minority, and a lot of corny lines, bad acting, and not great fight scenes were the majority.  Luckily it gets better after the first hour or so. The first half we get 007 being chased in a moon rover. The second half is a pretty sweet oil rig battle. Also on the downside is James himself. I’ve been in love with Connery’s interpretation of the character so far, but this older, slightly chubbier version is not the same as Goldfinger Bond. He’s slower, less charming, and just second rate. I’d definitely like the film a lot better if they had the same vibe in the beginning as they did in the end. Unfortunately, Connery had to hang up the gun with a whimper instead of a bang.

My Rating: C+

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Review: Thunderball (1965)

Sean Connery has obviously hit his peak by 1965, as he had 3 previous films as the best secret agent around. Thunderball changed things up however, changing the setting to under the high seas.

Largely located in the Bahama’s, Thunderball finds Sean Connery battling SPECTRE agent Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi). The main problem? Two nuclear bombs that seem to have disappeared.  Of course, Largo and his collection of sharks, and underwater army are in the way of James figuring things out.

I liked Thunderball. It is a consistently good 007 movie. No, it didn’t have the iconic scenes of the previously released Goldfinger, but it was good in its own right. I can’t really find much wrong with it in fact. It’s only downside is the movie that it follows. The film is capped off by a fantastic underwater battle between the good guys and the bad guys. Easily one of my favorite scenes so far in the franchise. Personally, I think old school Bond is personified in these tropical-set movies, and Thunderball is the best of that class. Very very solid 007 film.

My Rating: B+

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Classic Review: Goldfinger (1964)

Again, like Lord of the Rings, Bourne, and Star Wars, I’m a bit behind on the man known as 007. Unfortunately, I am unable to start from the beginning (Dr. No), but the third installment of the Bond series is often considered one of the bests, so why not Goldfinger?

From Miami to Kentucky, Goldfinger is one of the more American Bonds. In this mission, Sean Connery’s James’ nemesis is Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) and his sidekick Odd Job (Harold Sakata). Bond is after Goldfinger, investigating into his shady gold investing. Soon enough, agent 007 is trying to stop a bomb going off in Fort Knox. Of course, there’s also plenty of women, chases, and explosions along the way.

This is my first Bond film, so I’m not sure yet what characters and themes are reoccurring, but I do know that I like what I see so far. From the Aston Martin DB5 to the death by gold paint, Goldfinger is filled with iconic lines, imagery, and set pieces. The duo of villains is especially top notch. There are some technical problems, such as the sped up film, and bad dubbing,  but that comes with a fifty year-old movie. The real treasure I’ve found is Connery. Clever, witty, debonaire, and atop it all, dangerous. Seriously, he wrecked a woman’s car just so he could get a chance with her! How much more dangerous can you get?  With what I’ve seen, combined with what I’ve heard, this is one of the best Bond’s out of the bunch.

My Rating: A-

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Classic Review: Eyes Without a Face (1960)

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I’ve gone through the Criterion Collection a few times, looking for movies that I haven’t yet seen. I remember seeing the cover for the 1960 atmospheric horror, Eyes Without a Face several times, however it has only been now that I’ve taken the quick hour and a half to watch.

A genius surgeon, Dr. Génessier (Pierre Brasseur) has attempted to transplant facial tissue from one person to another. His reason for doing so? His daughter was in a horrific car accident that left her face completely destroyed, with only her eyes intact. Several attempts have been made, and every time, each time ending the life of the facial “donor”. But soon a suspicious fiancee, a detective, and a innocent bystander try to get to the bottom of it all.

For showing barely any blood, being less than two hours, and not showing the deformed face clearly, Eyes Without a Face wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. First off, the score is fantastic. It’s a eerie, haunted playground kind of sound that is just really unsettling. Secondly the plot, while not the most detailed, is certainly genius. It doesn’t hold up completely against today’s gore-fest, but it does deserve to be remember alongside them.

My Rating: B-

Classic Review: Ikiru (1952)

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I’ve seen some of Akira Kurosawa films (Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Sanjuro), and while I can appreciate them, I was never a huge fan of them. And hearing of Ikiru, the story of a man diagnosed with stomach cancer, I wasn’t exactly jumping out the door to see it. In honor of the great director though, I sat through the Japanese classic. Actually, I was quite pleased with what I saw.

Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura) is a man stuck in a rut. He’s been working non stop at the city’s office doing his best to spend his time not really doing much of anything. His relationship with his son is weak at best, and his life doesn’t really amount to much at all. All of the comes screeching to a halt when he finds out he has stomach cancer. The first half of the film deals with how he reacts, trying maybe to spend money to find his worth in life. Of course his inevitable demise comes quick with a “Six Months Later” title and his co-workers in the middle of his wake. They soon begin to argue whether he knew he had cancer or not. His sudden determination to get a park built over a sewage leak leads most to think he had some idea.

I’ve found out some people call it the It’s A Wonderful Life of Japan, and I see where that comes from. To me, it is a much more sobering look at life. The ending is realistic, and hits home in many ways. Shimura is amazing and I instantly feel his desire to find his purpose before it’s too late. It’s a beautiful look at what we are doing in life, and a rare film that makes you look inward afterwards. Truly, I underestimated Kurosawa. A definite must watch.

My Rating: A

Classic Review: Orpheus (1950)

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Orpheus, like many French films at the time is a confusing, wonderful, fantastical ride in which the plot seems to go everywhere and no where at the same time.

Orphee a poet, witnesses a death of a fellow poet at the hands of two bikers. At the command of a princess, he goes along with the body to answer questions. Little does he know that the woman is actually death, and his ride takes him to a place between the worlds. In typically French fashion, he is put into a love triangle between himself, his wife Eurydice, and death personified. For 95 minutes we cross over again and again, listen to bizarre radio transmissions, and are generally dumbfounded at what is going on.

While I wasn’t blown away from the plot, the real gem from Orpheus is the special effects. It may no longer be cutting edge now, but for its time, the use of reversing the film, slow motion, and other effects give it a other worldly feel necessary to the film. The going through mirrors (how they pass through worlds) is especially great, and was apparently used by having a hand go through mercury. For anyone who is a fan of early special effects, Orpheus is a must watch, and not a bad film to watch to catch up on your French film history.

My Rating: C+