One of the 25 films that were added to the National Film Registry this year is Frank Capra’s 1937 movie Lost Horizon. Lost Horizon was based on a novel by James Hilton. It’s starts in China in 1935 where a revolution is taking place. Robert Conway (Ronald Colman) is a diplomat who tries to save 90 British citizens from the revolution. He then flees on the last plane with his George (John Howard), paleontologist Alexander Lovett (Edward Everett Horton), industrialist Henry Barnard (Thomas Mitchell) and the sickly Gloria Stone (Isabel Jewell). Their plane is hijacked and then crashes in the Himalayan Mountains.
From there the group discover a hidden city in the mountains called Shanghai-La. It’s a beautiful place and it seems to make the dying Gloria better. Robert meets the lovely Sondra (Jane Wyatt) and his brother meets the equally lovely Maria (Margo). It’s revealed that the city is over two hundred years old and was founded by Belgian priest named Father Perrault. It’s also revealed that the group have been kidnapped and brought to the city. George is furious. When Robert and George confront their guide he takes Robert to see the High Lama (Sam Jaffe). Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Lost Horizon”
While the return of the Star Wars franchise in the form of The Force Awakens was wholeheartedly welcomed, Chapter VII raised a few red flags. The similitudes with A New Hope were numerous and conspicuous, enough to encourage the perception that the new trilogy may end up being a remix of the original one.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story benefits from this brewing problem by delivering the most original tale of the Rebellion since Jedi. Sure, the structure is videogame-like and the plot contrivances can be more exasperating than exciting, but the characters are edgier and their interactions are a lot spikier than what we have become used to. Continue reading “REVIEW: Rogue One Is the Best Kind of Outlier”
Doc Erwin Riedenschneider (Sam Jaffe) has just gotten out of prison and already has a master plan for his next heist. Doc goes sees bookie Cobby (Marc Lawrence) and Cobby introduces Doc to high priced lawyer Alonzo Emmerich (Louis Calhern) who has been dabbling in other activities on the side.
Doc needs some money in advance, $50,000 to be precise to hire three men to help pull off a million dollar jewelry heist. Emmerich agrees to give Doc the money for a piece of the action but instead of using a fence for the jewels Emmerich insists on cutting out the middle man and letting him fence the loot. Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: The Asphalt Jungle”
Dennis Quaid is Alex Gardner, a man with with psychic abilities that he mostly uses for gambling. He’s in debt so when a couple of guys in suits show up he gladly goes with them instead of the thugs that have chasing him.
The men are sent by his old mentor Doctor Paul Novotny (Max von Sydow). Novotny is part of a top secret government project where they use psychics to go into people’s dreams. Originally the project was to help people but the head of the department, Bob Blair (Christopher Plummer) seems to have evil schemes and Novotny wants Gardner’s help. Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Dreamscape”
Filmmakers have been going to the moon since Georges Méliès’ 1902’s A Trip to the Moon. Fritz Lang’s 1929 silent classic Woman in the Moon was the first to show series space travel and a multi-stage rocket. While Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers filled the screen with their space adventures in the 1930s and 40s, serious scientific travel wouldn’t return until 1950.
Producer George Pal had Robert A. Heinlein contribute to the screenplay and Pal made the movie into a big production, lots of publicity and a big budget for the effects. The publicity for the film prompted producer/director Kurt Neumann to quickly rush out and make the quick and cheap Rocketship X-M to cash in on Destination Moon. Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Destination Moon”
It’s the 23rd Century and the crew of Starship C-57D have reached the planet Altair IV to check on an expedition that landed there 20 years ago. They are contacted by Dr. Edward Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) who tells them everything is fine and go away. Naturally Commander John Adams (Leslie Nielsen) ignores Dr. Morbius and lands anyway to complete his mission.
When they land the crew is met by a robot named Robby who takes them to see Morbius. They meet Morbius’ lovely daughter Altaira (Anne Francis) and then the good doctor himself. Morbius informs Commander Adams that the entire expedition party except for Morbius and his daughter have been killed by a mysterious force but they themselves are fine but Adams should leave the planet as soon as possible. That night something sabotages the C-57D. Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Forbidden Planet”
The other big sci-fi movie that opened on the same day as 2001: A Space Odyssey back in April of 1968 was a little film called Planet of the Apes.
Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner (Patton, The Boys from Brazil) and based on French novelist Pierre Boulle’s La Planète des Singes. Boulle also wrote the novel The Bridge over the River Kwai which was also turned into a movie. Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Planet Of The Apes”
And we’re back after a month long break for 31 Days of Horror. I’m still feeling the space theme and I kind of wanted to include this but it’s not a horror movie – it’s much much more. Today’s Sunday Matinee is Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey.
There are a few films that have influenced movies over the years and as we enter an era where there is less emphasis on creating art than there is on creating mass entertainment there seems to be less and less auteurs. They still exist but it feels like the days where a studio would just finance the work of someone like Stanley Kubrick seem to be over. And while you can see the influence a film like 2001: A Space Odyssey has on someone like Christopher Nolan and his Interstellar it’s hard to imagine a studio financing a movie like 2001: A Space Odyssey today. Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: 2001: A Space Odyssey”
After conquering with relative ease the earthly and interstellar realms, it’s time for Marvel to get mystical. The most obvious way to enter the most otherworldly of planes is through Doctor Strange, the only character of the ethereal branch to break into the popular subconscious (with the possible exception of Ghost Rider).
At first sight, Doctor Strange appears to be a risky bet for Marvel. The film is loaded with comic book arcana and introduces -quite literally- a whole new universe with its own rules and characters. Furthermore, Strange’s ties to the Avengers and their baggage are very limited, at least at this stage.
It is, however, a calculated risk. Strange follows the Marvel formula to a tee (Strange’s likeness to Tony Stark is particularly on the nose), and for safety’s sake, nearly every plot point but one has been leaked to the public. There are so few surprises in Doctor Strange, it feels like a rerun. Continue reading “REVIEW: Doctor Strange’s Cold Medicine”
So ends another year of 31 Days of Horror. Next year in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary I’ll be focuses on Canadian horror movies. To end this year’s theme I leave with the classic that kick started a franchise that’s still going today and spawned a hundred rip-offs like Galaxy of Terror, Forbidden World, Xtro, Horror Planet, Creature, Alien 2: On Earth, Parasite and many many more.
The spaceship the Nostromo is returning home to Earth when the crew is awakened to a distress call. The call is coming from nearby planet that’s devoid of life. The crew go down to the planet and find a giant alien spaceship that has crashed on the planet. Inside is a large fossilized alien that seems to have died from something bursting out of it’s chest. Kane (John Hurt) finds a bunch of eggs that covered by a sort of mist. He looks into one of the eggs and something attaches itself to his face. Continue reading “31 Days Of Space: The Spooky Frontier – Alien”