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The Detective (1968)
The Detective looks rather dated now but for the time it was rather daring and gritty.
Adapted from a novel by Roderick Thorp. Incidentally the sequel to the book formed the basis for Die Hard!
Joe Leland (Frank Sinatra) is a veteran New York detective investigating the gruesome death of a gay man. Although they get a confession from a suspect and Leland later gets a promotion for solving the case.
An investigation of a man who committed suicide suggests that the wrong man was convicted and executed.
Director Gordon Douglas has very much tried to keep the sprawling structure of the novel.
Leland's investigations brings him into contact with police and political corruption.
Then there is the disintegration of his marriage. The film has flashbacks as to how Leland met his wife Karen (Lee Remick) who has been having casual affairs.
There is a steely performance from Sinatra as basically a good and progressive cop. I could not help wondering that he looked too old even though Leland is a veteran cop.
There is an interesting scene where a black member of the detective team interrogates a suspect by stripping him naked. He states that is the same method used by the Nazis during the war. Another hint that police corruption and abuse was rampant.
The scenes with his wife gets in the way of the rest of the movie. The flashbacks with Leland courting Karen were not needed.
There is some casual homophobia even though for the time it was rather progressive. The footage of gay men hanging around inside the trailer of a truck looks rather amusing now.
Meet Joe Black (1998)
Meet Joe Black
Meet Joe Black is a remake of Death Takes a Holiday.
When this film was released it was apparently the most expensive non action movie ever made.
Martin Brest has certainly made a very long romantic fantasy that is a bit of a misfire.
Bill Parrish (Anthony Hopkins) is a media mogul that is contemplating a merger with a brash rival. He is also about to celebrate his 65th birthday.
His older daughter Allison (Marcia Gay Harden) is planning a lavish party where even the President might drop in.
His younger daughter Susan (Claire Forlani) is training to be a doctor and is his favourite. She is in a sparkless relationship with duplicitous Drew, an arrogant executive in Bill's company.
Susan encounters a charming stranger one morning in a diner. A flirt played by Brad Pitt who is suddenly run over when he later crosses the road. His dead body is taken over by Death and he later comes to visit Bill and hangs around with him for a few days. In that time Death meets Susan once more and falls in love with her.
The best bit about Meet Joe Black is the big expensive party that Allison is planning. The kind of glitzy and kitschy party disgraced tycoons such as Jeffrey Skilling and Bernie Madoff used to throw with other people's money.
Although there are no hints that Bill is a cynical manipulative power hungry media tycoon. So that part is certainly a fantasy. In fact this is one of the movie's problems. The boardroom backstabbing is boring and obvious. Bill is so passive, you wonder how he made it big in the corporate jungle.
Then there is the character of Death in human form. At times knowing very little of life on Earth and at other times he is all knowing. It is bizarre storytelling.
It is a muddled film with a funereal pace. Pitt struggles and even more with that Haitian accent. Hopkins does his best with little characterisation, Forlani looks pretty but failed to convince me that she was a doctor.
Free Fire (2016)
Director Ben Wheatley has made his name in the movies with English folk horror.
On television he has show diversity ranging from comedy to science fiction.
With Free Fire, Wheatley wants to expand his repertoire. Unfortunately it is too much of a grungy quirky low budget Quentin Tarantino tribute act.
Set in Boston in the late 1970s. Chris (Cillian Murphy) and Frank (Michael Smiley)are IRA members who go to a warehouse for an illegal arms deal with Vern (Sharlto Copley.)
The deal is brokered by Ord (Armie Hammer) and Justine (Brie Larson) who have to overcome the mutual suspicion between the two groups.
However there is antagonism between the minions involved with the two parties which quickly escalates to a shootout.
For what it is Free Fire is fun and frenetic. It soon becomes one long shootoff with a couple of surprises when another group turns up and start firing.
Wheatley injects some black humour and John Denver Songs to keep things perky.
However it can never shake off that Tarantino feeling.
It starts with Makepeace getting injured after pursuing some jewellery thieves.
Makepeace is then a little annoyed when she is sidelined when a bank is held up by some armed robbers.
Spikings is giving this robbery his urgent attention. Inside the bank is a senior executive who went in to exchange some notes.
He hopes the robbers do not find out just who he is as he could be a valuable hostage.
Dempsey takes Watson with him to get inside the bank but Watson gets shot.
Makepeace gets involved with the action when she exchange places with one of the hostages.
Surprisingly it is Dempsey who is less gung ho in this episode as he tries to negotiate with the robbers.
There is a very annoying young girl/woman whose mother is feeling unwell. I was surprised the robbers did not shoot her.
The bad guys were straight out of Golan/Globus era Cannon Films. Trigger happy.
There are a few big action scenes in this episode that would have keep the stunt team busy.
Public Eye: The Windsor Royal (1973)
The Windsor Royal
An episode that never reaches its full bloom. Maybe it needed more plant feed.
Frank Marker has been called in when Clem Lawrence believes that some new breed of rose he has developed has been pilfered.
Clem blames his former business partner Ron Hayward, he thought Ron might be been fooling with his wife.
Marker finds out that Clem's daughter and Ron's son are intertwined as an item.
There is nice bit as Marker tries to learn to be a rosarian. Everyone also seems to go to a tea shop that makes it own fresh cream gateau.
The episode is just a little dull. It needed a deeply rooted story.
Interpol Calling: Air Switch (1959)
Antibiotic medicine originating from America are being diverted to the black market.
A clever switch takes place as the bottles of medicine are substituted with water along the route.
Whoever is doing it is very sly and manages to be one step ahead of law enforcement.
Duval figures that London airport is the place where the switch takes place and thinks an airline pilot is involved.
Post war blackmarket medicine always brings to my mind the classic movie The Third Man.
There is less of a mystery here as there is not much of a guessing game with the baddie black marketeer.
The Sweeney: Bad Apple (1976)
Interestingly a few days before I watched this episode. An Independent Panel found that London's police were institutionally corrupt over the investigation relating to the death of a private investigator back in the late 1980s.
The comedian Jim Davidson was right all along. The British police are the best money can buy!
You do wonder if it's a case of a few rotten apples or just the whole barrel is rancid.
Haskins is concerned that some criminals are getting lighter sentences because their previous convictions have become lighter. They are not showing up.
All because some cops at a nearby station run their own protection racket and its very lucrative. The head cop is even thinking of buying a boat.
Carter goes to a local police station to snoop about. It is really up to Regan to go undercover as an ex con.
The cops being investigated are no slouches as Regan's cover is soon busted.
Episodes dealing with police corruption would always have been controversial at that era. Hence the emphasis on it being a few rotten apples.
A slightly sleazier episode with a bit of female nudity and a male stripper in drag.
Enemy at the Door: V for Victory (1978)
V for Victory
Major Richter's patience is wearing thin as V for Victory signs appear in library books and painted on walls.
Richter wants Oberleutnant Kluge to investigate and get tougher. Meanwhile Reinicke finds a SS soulmate who thinks the Germans are not being tough enough.
Billy LePrevost is the teenage boy who is caught but Kluge knows it's not him. He does plan to turn the boy to a reliable informer but wants Reinecke's help to play bad cop. A bit of a reach for Reinecke to play such a nicer role.
Another dark episode. The German's even make reference to what happened to the last disobedient librarian.
It also highlights the collateral damage to any resistance movement and Billy is a bystander caught in other peoples games.
It was a nice plan by Kluge to set up a network of young informants. However circumstances wrongfooted him and Billy.
The Birthday Party
Tom Chance is taking no chances when he organises a surprise birthday party for Alison. He has invited Alison's friends.
He is determined that nothing will go wrong. It seems the caterer and the singing telegram disguised as a postbox disagree.
A mix up with the birthday present was inevitable. Only for Alison to end up with an expensive fur coat and a bottle of champagne.
I say it's always uplifting to see Brenda Blethyn in sexy lingerie. No wonder Tom was in second mind about going out.
It was nice to see that after all the mishaps, both Tom and Alison have a lovely evening of sorts.
Gideon's Way: The White Rat (1964)
The White Rat
Another rare early outing for Ray McAnally.
He plays thuggish albino gang leader Mickey Keston who seems obsessed with his pet rat.
Keston carries out a series of warehouse raids, one of them leaves the nightwatchman dead.
A veteran CID man Syd Taylor has been after Mickey Keston for some time. When he is shot, Gideon makes it his mission to arrest Keston.
An episode enhanced by McAnally's performance, slightly unhinged and creepy. His pet rat gives him away.
Starstruck: Summer (2021)
Tom is the surprise guest as Jessie and Kate are having a murder mystery party.
Tom wants to try out his Australian accent for an acting role. Jessie is only too happy to assist.
It's the third episode and I just find it slow going. There are no sparks here.
At the end you sense that Tom and Jessie's story might be going somewhere until someone else makes a comment.
So far this show has promise but no momentum.
Destruction Inc. (1942)
When a guard from the Metropolis Munitions Works factory is found dead.
Lois Lane goes to investigate and is soon discovered by the saboteurs.
Luckily Clark Kent has also gone in to investigate in disguise.
Superman needs to catch the bad guys and save Lois Lane.
Apart from Clark Kent mistaking a man as Lois. This is repetitive stuff from previous cartoons.
It lacks care and attention. Also it lacks a lot of Superman.
Taggart: Black Orchid (1995)
It starts with a hypnotist stage show. Later a nightclub chanteuse sings the Taggart theme song as the credits begin.
A different start to the episode. Everyone would had been aware that Mark McManus had died in 1994.
It's still a jolt watching Taggart's funeral scenes. In the episode he had died in his sleep. In reality Taggart had a reduced role in the previous stories, an inkling that his health was not the best.
It's also the end of the road for Jean Taggart. This is her last appearance but she gets several scenes with Mike Jardine.
The story concerns hypnotist The Great Sabina. His career is in ruins after a volunteer from his show is later found drowned. She was hypnotised to swim the channel.
Sabina's career is on a downward spiral. His wife is cheating with his manager. There is a newer and brasher rival and a muckraking journalist.
Sabina hypnotises a deluded fan to kill for him while Sanina always has an alibi. The killings look like a hit.
It looks like a bog standard plot. Jardine is in charge and has a new temporary boss. Jardine needs to crack whether Sabina could hypnotise someone to kill.
Is he using deep buried hypnotism to a key witness. Jardine ends up with serious allegations against him and it seems planned by someone.
At the end Black Orchid has more depth to it. It is Sabina who is being played but it does suffer from having an abrupt ending.
I do remember the cinema trailer for Braindead, rather amusing with the split screen.
This early work for three times Oscar winner Sir Peter Jackson is more an exercise of special effects over acting and a coherent screenplay.
Lionel Cosgrove is the mama's boy whose life is turned into hell when his overbearing mother is bitten by a Sumatran rat-monkey.
Now the zombified mother is infecting everyone else especially when creepy Uncle Les arrives and holds a big party. It is up to Lionel and his new girlfriend Paquita that his mother disapproved off to just to stay alive.
The film is a black horror comedy with bucket loads of gore and bad taste. The baby offspring of the dead nurse and priest is surely a homage to Gremlins.
It is really a showcase of Jackson's early talents. Show what he can do with an ultra low budget. The downside is the acting is a bit off, a little on the amateur side.
The grotesque special effects take precedent leaving the story just too demented.
Alcoa Theatre: Souvenir (1957)
Jack Lemmon does what he does best.
Light comedy of a former naval officer Edward King who has been brought back by the Pentagon.
They want to know what has happened with the US Navy ship he commanded. It has disappeared.
King cannot recall what has happened to it and is shocked that he owes the Pentagon millions of dollars.
He searches desperately for what has happened to it.
It really is a type of comedy that Lemmon could have made a movie out of. Although it would have been stretched. So this works well at 30 minutes with the added silliness.
The payoff at the movie theatre was predictable. Just makes you think how could no one remember what happened to the ship?
When the Boat Goes Out
There is an end of term feel about the final episode of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.
New EEC rules meant that other European workers have to register with the German authorities.
Most of them want to go back home. It is Dennis who is in a dilemma.
Does he stay with Dagmer or go back to his estranged wife. The kids are the pull for him but really he should go straight in for Dagmer.
As for Oz, Kevin Keegan provides the answer. Keegan headed to Newcastle from FC Hamburg.
At the end the hut catches fire because of Barry's motorbike. Yet again leaving Dennis and Dagmar frustrated.
A fiery end to this raw, earthy landmark series.
You know some people like to say because of wokeness you cannot make old shows anymore. Because of Brexit you cannot make Auf Wiedersehen, Pet set in Europe anymore.
Ironically the voters of North East seemed to be more keen on Brexit.
Johnny Ringo: Die Twice (1960)
Boone Hackett is a notorious outlaw who is presumed to be dead. He even has his own grave in his hometown.
However a man fitting Hackett's description was seen killing another man. Now Johnny Ringo needs to get a signature from his widow to exhume his grave to make sure that the dead man in in there is Hackett.
Only Hackett makes sure that his wife will never sign anything. What a rotter.
Ringo is determined to get Hackett dead or alive. Hackett meanwhile needs to get to his hidden loot.
Some men are better left buried and Hackett is one of them.
A decent entertaining half hour and Cully gets a bit more to do.
The Serpent: Episode #1.8 (2021)
This could had been the story of how Charles Sobhraj evaded justice for his killings. He even gave an infamous television interview.
A mixture of daring, cunning and luck were the weapons in Sobhraj's disposal.
He knew that he could always outsmart the authorities in India, Nepal and Thailand. They were always a few steps behind.
Like the way he he escaped from jail in India. It meant when recaptured his sentence was increased and he could not be extradited to Thailand to face murder charges. Those charges would eventually expire.
Charles Sobhraj is in jail though in Nepal. A visit to Nepal that he did not have to make led to his capture and trial.
Maybe it was vanity and arrogance but he finally slipped up.
This was an enthralling story but it could had been done in less episodes. It was too padded and Billy Howle could only do so much angst and frustration as Herman Knippenberg.
Tahar Rahim was excellent as Sobhraj and matched by Jenna Coleman as Marie-Andrée Leclerc. She too evaded justice but succumbed to cancer.
The Time of the Wolf: Part 2
Gulnar unleashes the curse of Fenric.
A plot so dastardly the viewers will wolf it down.
By the powers of Gulnar's sorcery, he has created a double of Robin of Sherwood but this one has a feet of clay.
Despite having the teeth of a maniac. This double will slaughter villagers as they al think he is Robin Hood. Then Gulnar will release Robin so he can take the blame for the chaos.
Maybe with all the sorcery in Gulnar's disposal. There was a more easier way for him to take power of the English throne.
This was a silly episode and Richard O'Brien was in full ham. It was also the final episode of the series.
ITV decided not to continue with a fourth. Maybe the stories were done and maybe Jason Connery's hair was beginning to fall out.
It ends with the Merries together but with Marion finding a higher calling.
30 Rock: Jack the Writer (2006)
Jack the Writer
Jack wants to try out the latest management fad. He decides to attend the writer's room as an observer.
Only for Jack to prove that he is a distraction. More than pretty Cerie and her skimpy outfits who always gets the attention of the men.
Having had bosses who wanted to try out what they have learned from the latest management courses. I could sympathise with Liz.
As for Cerie, she certainly was easy on the eye.
A deceptively simple but clever episode. Although not as funny as it could be. I think the scenes featuring Tracy were the weakest.
The Material Witness
A Scale of Justice episode that really has not much to do with a courtroom. It also has lots of characters who you care little for.
Harry Turner (Reginald Marsh) is an arrogant sales executive who likes a drink or three.
Despite a previous conviction for drink driving, he is caught once more by the police and this time he is imprisoned for two months.
In the meantime, his personal assistant Lewis Carter takes over Turner's duties at work and starts going out with Turner's daughter.
When Turner leaves prison, his arrogance is plain to see. He expects to just waltz back into his job. He is surprised to see Carter doing his work and that he is also due to marry his daughter.
Turner finds out the skullduggery that Carter has been involved in. When the manager of the bar tells Turner that Carter deliberately phoned the police which resulted in his conviction.
Turner gets revenge on him at a fancy works do. It all ends with Carter fleeing while he has had a few to drink.
An episode titled The Material Witness. You would expect a big court case as a finale. I doubt Turner would be none the wiser if the bar manager had not told him the truth. Even after returning from prison, with the shame of demotion, he still keeps on drinking.
His daughter and prospective son in law were a pair of deplorables as well. Both deserved each other.
Porky Pig's Feat (1943)
Porky Pig's Feat
A Warner Brothers cartoon in black and white with Daffy Duck stealing the show.
Porky's bill for his stay at the Broken Arms Hotel would nearly break the bank. Getting charged for air, sunshine and goodwill.
Daffy Duck has the money for the hotel bill but he is gambled it all away.
Both Porky Pig and Daffy Duck have no choice but try to escape without paying but the hotel manager is on to them.
Even Bugs Bunny might have problems getting out of this hotel without paying and he does make a cameo appearance.
Fast frenetic fun and a touch of deliberate parodying of a Looney Toons cartoon.
For the Love of Ada: The Admirer (1971)
While Ruth is in hospital with the new baby.
Ada has found a gentleman admirer. Someone to flirt with. He is a new widower, David Llewellin Griffiths (Freddie Jones.)
As Ada tells Ruth, well as long as Walter does not know.
Walter has a secret of his own. He has been earning extra money by doing some gardening with a bloke called David Llewellin Griffiths.
It's not long before Ada is busted and Walter seems to have taken it all in good grace.
Ada is certainly naughty and that naughty invitation to a fancy tea room is full of double entendres. Either that or my wife said I have a dirty mind.
Mortal Kombat (2021)
Mortal Kombat has been rebooted as a gore laden and a more serious action packed movie.
It is surprisingly entertaining but a predictable film. The director makes effective use of some visceral battle fights.
It starts off in 17th Century Japan. Bi-Han/Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) kills the ninja clan led by Hanzo Hasashi/Scorpion. He kills Hanzo as well as his wife and son.
Raiden, god of thunder, arrives and takes Hanzo's infant daughter to safety.
In the present day. Outworld has defeated Earthrealm in nine of ten tournaments known as Mortal Kombat. If Earthrealm loses the tenth tournament, it can be conquered by Outworld.
An ancient prophecy that the blood of Hanzo Hasashi will bring a new generation of Earthrealm's champions. One such person is a former MMA fighter named Cole Young (Lewis Tan.)
The movie needed a bit more humour. I thought Kano (Josh Lawson) who provided some of the banter quickly became tiring.
The big problem was the lack of a well known star so this really is a B movie fodder. However for a movie based on a computer game franchise, it is still one of the better ones.
The Case of the Shy Ballerina
Dr Watson took the wrong coat from his club.
I'm surprised he didn't notice it the time as it was rather tight.
When the rightful owner comes by to swap it. He ends up taking Dr Watson's hat by mistake as he is leaving.
Later the man is found dead. The hat takes Lestrade to see Dr Watson.
Holmes and Watson had come across a note in his pocket when they discovered it was someone else's coat.
When Holmes and Watson had earlier went down to his house to get the correct hat back. His wife had hired Holmes as her husband was being blackmailed by a Russian ballerina.
This could had been decent minor story which is spoilt by sexist cod psychology. Even for the mid 1950s this is embarrassing.