Archive | April, 2012

American Stars in Japanese Films, Part 1: THE GREEN SLIME (1968)

22 Apr

I remember seeing the trailers for THE GREEN SLIME back in 1969 and being put off somewhat by the cheesy-looking design of the title monsters, so I didn’t make the effort to see it back then. I was a high school sophmore at the time and more interested in “serious” sci-fi, such as 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, PLANET OF THE APES and…BARBARELLA!  I eventually saw it on TV and kicked myself for not seeing it in a theater when I had the chance. It’s a film that’s historically important for several reasons. It was the first U.S.-Japan co-production shot in Japan with an entirely Caucasian cast and the first with more than one name actor from the west. It was the first science fiction film directed by Kinji Fukasaku, who would make two other significant entries in the genre, MESSAGE FROM SPACE and VIRUS, both also featuring American stars. (He’s been more famous in the past decade for his final film, BATTLE ROYALE, 2000.) The film was released in December 1968 in Japan and in May 1969 in the U.S.

I have a still from the film, scanned here, as well as screen grabs from the Warner Archive DVD, which I watched for this review.

Robert Horton, in dark blue uniform, on the far left; Luciana Paluzzi, with stethoscope, on the right, in THE GREEN SLIME

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42nd Street Theaters, Part 2: SHAKEDOWN (1988)

19 Apr

SHAKEDOWN (1988), directed by James Glickenhaus, is a buddy cop thriller distinguished chiefly, for me at least, by a couple of scenes shot on 42nd Street during the waning heyday of the Deuce. The plot has to do with a legal aid lawyer (played by Robocop himself, Peter Weller) teaming up with a maverick plainclothes cop (Sam Elliott), originally from Texas, who seems to operate without any supervision. (The  harried police captain, usually a staple of these films, is the one cliché missing here.) The lawyer’s client is a black drug dealer who shot a white undercover cop to death and claimed self-defense, thinking the cop was a robber seeking to kill him for his drugs. Elliott’s character helps the lawyer with his investigation, penetrating a porn-sex-and-drug ring with ties to a whole network of corrupt cops. From there, in true R-rated ’80s fashion,  it’s a steady stream of chases, shootouts, fistfights, preposterous plot twists, and ample nudity in various sex clubs, including one situated several floors above the New Amsterdam Theater.

Peter Weller and Sam Elliott leaving the Lyric Theater in SHAKEDOWN

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BORDER PATROL (1943): Robert Mitchum’s film debut

11 Apr

I’ve been on a B-western kick lately and was happy to learn that BORDER PATROL (1943), one of the Hopalong Cassidy westerns contained on the Cowboy Legends Collector’s Set (from Echo Bridge), was indeed the film debut of my all-time favorite movie star, Robert Mitchum.

I’d long known that he’d gotten his start in the series of Hopalong Cassidy westerns released by United Artists in the 1940s, but I’d never had the opportunity to see any of them.

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Al Capone – Three Film Versions

7 Apr

Al Capone was a famous gangster who dominated bootlegging in Chicago during much of the Prohibition era in the 1920s, despite a multitude of rivals whose opposition led to open warfare in the streets, culminating in the infamous “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” in a Clark Street garage in 1929.  I have stills from three different movies about Capone, so I decided to watch all three to compare the portrayals and then consult a book I have on him to see how accurate the movies were. I don’t have DVDs of the films, only VHS copies, so I didn’t get any screen grabs. The films are: AL CAPONE (1959), THE ST. VALENTINE’S DAY MASSACRE (1967), and CAPONE (1975).

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