#291 Point Blank

Watched: January 23 2021

Director: John Boorman

Starring: Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Keenan Wynn, Carroll O’Connor, John Vernon, Sharon Acker

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 32min

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Walker (Marvin) is double-crossed (by his wife and best friend, no less!), shot and left for dead during a heist at the abandoned Alcatraz prison. He somehow survives and escapes, and is now determined to get his $93 000 back from “the Organization.”

“I AM Judge Judy and executioner!”

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He kills his way through a bunch of crooks and crime bosses, outsmarting them at every turn, all the while repeating his mantra of “I want my money.” Which, spoiler alert, he never gets. But he manages to fuck enough shit up that the people who stole from him won’t be able to enjoy it either. Which is a sort of a win itself, we guess. Although not a very satisfactory one.

About as satisfactory as emtying your chamber in the unoccupied bed of your treacherous ex-wife. We assume. We’ve never experienced the former as all our revenge plots have gone off without a hitch.

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As is tradition, in between kicking ass and taking names, he manages to entangle himself with a Dame, in this case his wife’s sister Chris (Dickinson). Keep it in the family. Smart man.

“I cannot believe my own brother-in-law is all the milkshake brought to the yard. Step up your game, milkshake!”

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We loved the sort-of-non-linear storytelling, Lee Marvin’s strong silent man routine, Angie Dickinson’s… Angie Dickinsonness, Lynne’s monologue when confronted by her “late” husband, and of course we’re suckers for a good revenge story.

“If you think about it, I’m the real victim here. I mean, I had to watch you die. Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to backstab you like that?”

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Our pet theory: Walker is a terminator. His escape from certain death, glitches in memory/patchy, non-linear thinking, and single minded determination to achieve his agenda are all testimony to that. Or, he is possibly just a very goal-oriented man. Either way Point Blank makes for a very entertaining watch, with its noir and French crime film influences and bad ass protagonist.

“I’ll be back. To watch the T-Birds beat the Scorpions in a drag race…”

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What we learned: If you’re going to double-cross and kill someone, make sure they’re actually dead. Also, just pay the man his money!

Next time: Poor Cow (1967)

#288 Le Samouraï

Watched: January 1st 2021

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville

Starring: Alain Delon, Nathalie Delon, Cathy Rosier, François Périer

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 45min

So, happy new year, everyone. What a start. We’re not sure 2021 is going to be much better than 2020 judging by the first few weeks, but who knows? In Norway, we’ve gone right into a semi-lockdown so we’ve had our hands full dealing with the repercussions of that, while of course following the insanity that is the USA closely. However, we are the perpetual optimists and have high hopes for February! Things need to calm down at some point, right? And while we wait, why not watch some movies? Such as Jean-Pierre Melville’s amazing Le Samouraï.

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Remember when we said Tokyo Drifter was cool? Well, prepare to meet Le Samouraï! Jef Costello (Delon) is a French hitman. After being observed at a murder scene, he needs to avoid both the police and the people who hired him who now see him as a liability.

Unfortunately for a killer for hire, he is cursed with a face so ridiculously handsome that no eye witness will ever be able to forget him.

Silently and cooly, in his trenchcoat and fedora, he goes around Paris figuring out who to trust, who to love (if such a thing is possible), and how to survive.

He’s also working really hard on varying his facial expressions, but so far no dice.

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This movie is amazing. The story itself is not the most original, perhaps, but Alain Delon is fantastic as Costello. The world he inhabits is quiet, efficient, spartan and grey, but with the occasional song bird to brighten the mood. Or alert one of danger. Whatever rubs your Buddha.

Real question: how on earth did he end up owning a bird? Did he buy one? Did someone give it to him? Did it just come with the apartment? The public needs to know!

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We loved the little glimpses into the Parisian underworld, such as the mechanic Costello visits, the long, quiet scenes without dialogue, Costello’s M.O. in establishing his alibi and planning his evening of chilling and killing, the police’s strange practice of just rounding up a random 600 people to parade in front of eye witnesses in hopes of finding a match (we hope they put a bit more thought into it than it seemed..?), the two women in Costello’s life, and the quiet, suspenseful action of Le Samouraï.

“Witnesses descibed the shooter as a ridiculously handsome young man, so I got this middle aged lady in for the line-up, boss!” “Good work, officer! With work like this a promotion is just around the corner.”

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It’s stylish and suspenseful, visually a sort of mix between some of the other French films and the older American noirs, and a welcome distraction in a world gone topsy-turvy. And with that, we hope you are all safe and healthy, and we urge you to get your Samouraï on!

If hitmen in fedoras don’t get you hot, then you can at least appreciate the woman who actually manages to pull off this coat. You have our deepest admiration, Miss Rosier.

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What we learned: In Paris in 1967 there were only 100 different keys. Together, they opened every single door and started every engine. Also, everyone owned a set.

Next time: Mad Monster Party? (1967)

#283 Bonnie and Clyde

Watched: November 14 2020

Director: Arthur Penn

Starring: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Michael J. Pollard, Estelle Parsons, Gene Wilder

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 51min

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Bonnie Parker (Dunaway) is a bored small town waitress looking for trouble. Trouble arrives in the form of recently released convict Clyde Barrow (Beatty). The two fall instantly in love when he tries to steal her mother’s car and then performs a robbery just to prove to Bonnie that he really is a convict.

“Impotence and poverty don’t bother me none, but there’s no way I’ll ever date a man who doesn’t have a record.”

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Bonnie and Clyde take off to travel around the US robbing and looting. You know, normal first-year-of-a-relationship-stuff. Soon, the two hook up with gas station attendant C.W. Moss (Pollard), kill their first man, and go see a musical. Two of those things might be more important to the plot than the other. Once Clyde’s brother Buck (Hackman) and his wife Blanche (Parsons) join the group as well, the Barrow gang is born.

We pillage, we plunder, we rifle and loot!
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot!
We also need all your money and a fourth for our barbershop quartet.

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The gang continue the crime spree started by the protagonists, and as they grow in notoriety and their crimes grow in brutality, the web starts closing in around them. It’s not long before law enforcement starts to catch up…

“No, ma’am, I ain’t here to arrest you. I just wanted a picture for the grandkids. Much obliged!”

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Bonnie and Clyde doesn’t really follow a traditional structure – it starts right in on the action and then has a fairly flat structure throughout, until the final shoot out and credits. Which is not a criticism – it works. There’s just not a lot of ups and downs in action and tension. In a lot of ways, it reminded us of some of the French movies we’ve watched from the ’60s, which is probably intentional from the director. The flat structure also gives it a bit of a documentary feel, although there’s very little else which gives that impression.

Least of all Gene Wilder’s face. There’s no way you can watch his scenes in this movie and not project the character of Fronkonsteen onto this hapless young man.

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We loved the old timey car chases, the costumes, the clip from Gold Diggers of 1933, and the match made in hell of Bonnie and Clyde. As always with movies based on real events, we fall for the temptation of doing some fact checking, and so here is some trivia, based on about 5 minutes of googling. Inaccuracies may occur.
1. There’s little evidence to substantiate the claim that Clyde Barrow was impotent or otherwise unable to perform sexually. There is however some evidence that he was brutally raped in prison, and also that he was bisexual.
2. The couple killed their first man in 1932, but then went right to the cinema to see a movie musical released in 1933. We can only conclude that the pair owned a time machine [citation needed].

“Hey, Clyde!” “Yeah, Bonnie?” “Do you think maybe we should have used that time travel thingamajig to foresee this predicament?” “Well, it’s too late now!” “Uhm… Is it..?”

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Despite the historical inaccuracies and the fact that Bonnie and Clyde never once used their time machine to do anything except watch movies, we really enjoyed this. It is of course an inaccurate version of the very real criminals, but they’re perhaps not overly romanticized – they’re both flawed people in difficult situations, neither heroic nor vilified. All in all, very good. And we can’t wait for the inevitable sequel where they team up with Marty McFly.

“Just gotta get this bad boy up to 88 mph and we are home free!”

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What we learned: The minute someone orders you to change your hair is the minute you should dump them. Also, Arthur Penn was in love with Faye Dunaway’s face.

Next time: Cool Hand Luke (1967)

#281 What’s Up, Tiger Lily?

Watched: October 22 2020

Director: Woody Allen/Senkichi Taniguchi

Starring: Woody Allen, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Frank Buxton, Louise Lasser, Tatsuya Mihashi, Mie Hama, Akiko Wakabayashi, Julie Bennett

Year: 1966

Runtime: 1h 20min

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What’s Up, Tiger Lily? is a strange little thing. Basically, Woody Allen has taken a Japanese James Bond-style action comedy and redubbed it to make a whole new, and very silly, story. The new film revolves around the quest for the ultimate recipe for egg salad, and it is packed full of silly jokes and sexual innuendo.

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This was clearly an American influence – the original movie was clean as a whistle

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Ok, so the idea is good, and the first 30-40 minutes were very funny and entertaining, in a silly comedy à la Airplane sort of way. The juxtaposition of the action thriller with the decidedly silly dialogue, and specifically the club dancing with the music of “The Lovin’ Spoonful”, worked well and we found it funny and entertaining.

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Oh, how we were waiting for a “drinking problem” joke. None was forthcoming…

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However, after about 35 minutes, we must admit that both sisters started to lose interest. It didn’t really go anywhere new anymore, and the jokes, which were always a bit hit or miss, were beginning to grow a bit tired…

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At this point, the Japanese version was starting to seem more intriguing (and absurd) than the parody. Check out the fancy pirate flag!

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By the end, we became the movie audience we personally hate – the ones sitting on their phones while “watching” a film. We’re sorry. To all those who had faith in us, we apologize and promise to do better on the next one.

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Love in the time of Corona

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Despite the fact that Woody Allen does not appear onscreen a lot, there are some uncomfortable connotations from a modern point of view in this movie, especially during the credits. Innocent enough jokes in 1966 take on a new dimension given everything that has transpired since. However, that’s not our problem with this. In our opinion, the movie’s main weakness is that the concept doesn’t quite work for 1h 20 – it might have been better as a series of 20 minute episodes based on different films, or even a stand-alone 30 minute short.

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“30 minutes? I’m way too funny for a 30 minute short! Imbeciles…”

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In conclusion: we enjoyed the first half more than we thought we would, and lost interest in the last half. This is definitely not a movie for all audiences, and we suspect that it’s one of those love it or hate it kind of things. Although we neither loved or hated it. We were just a bit underwhelmed.

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Also, we don’t find the idea of tricking women into stripping on camera as amusing as Allen apparently did.

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What we learned: Bring the cattle prod.

Next time: Belle de Jour (1967)

#280 Tokyo Drifter

Watched: October 11 2020

Director: Seijun Suzuki

Starring: Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara, Ryûji Kita, Eiji Gô, Hideaki Nitani, Tamio Kawaji

Year: 1966

Runtime: 1h 29min

Small disclaimer: we were unable to get our grabby hands on the recently added #279 The War Game in time for the blog, so we’re skipping that for now. We might return to it later if we can find it. But for now, we have moved on to #280: Tokyo Drifter!

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Hey kids! Wanna watch something incredibly stylish and cool? But at the same time you feel the need to watch something which will up your social capital and teach you something about a different culture? Or perhaps you’re just really tired of the world and want to look at some pretty colours? Well, have we got the film for you!

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“Which colour did you want in this shot again?” “ALL OF THEM!”

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Tokyo Drifter is as stylish as they come (checks the cool-box), is Japanese (checks the culture-box) and is also filled to the brim with pretty colours (checks the why-can’t-the-world-just-leave-me-alone-box)!

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Actiony AND artsy. It’s like a cheese-covered broccoli-movie!

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Tetsu (Watari) and his boss are reformed yakuza who are trying to go straight. However, their former rivals have other plans, and soon they are drawn back into the world of crime. To avoid brutal death, Tetsu must go a-roaming around Japan. But sooner or later return to Tokyo becomes unavoidable…

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“These shoes were made for walkin’, but not in this fucking snow! One of these days these shoes are gonna walk back to Tokyo.”

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Did we mention how cool this film is? ‘Cause it is so cool! The clothes, the colours, the sets, the music, the gangsters – you’ll be hard pressed to find something more stylish. It is as ’60s as they come in all the right ways. Also, there are both guns and swords at play here, which is never wrong.

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“All right, so everyone is clear on the rules? We get up and dance around, and whoever is still standing when the music stops has to die.”

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So OK, Tetsu annoyed us a little bit in the end, walking away from his girlfriend to live as a “Tokyo Drifter,” which struck us as a bit of a self-serving “sacrifice.” Other than that, there was nothing here we didn’t love. And now we want to visit Japan in the 1960s… Wearing bullet proof vests, obviously.

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Bullet proof vests can only get you so far though…

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What we learned: It is hard leaving a life of crime behind.

Next time: What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966)

#278 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Watched: September 22 2020

Director: Sergio Leone

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee van Cleef, Eli Wallach

Year: 1966

Runtime: 2h 58min

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We must admit that there’s little we can say about this movie other than how much we enjoyed it. But we’ll give it a go!

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Yodle-odle-ooooo! Wah-WAH-waaah…

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Blondie (Eastwood) and Tuco (Wallach), a.k.a. the Good and the Ugly, respectively, have a lovely little scheme going. Blondie hands over Tuco, a wanted man, to the authorities, collects the reward, then frees his partner just as he is about to be hanged for his crimes.

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Yodle-odle-ooooo! Wah-wah-WAAH!

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While they’re doing their thing and occasionally backstabbing each other for cash, Sentenza (Cleef), a.k.a. Angel Eyes a.k.a. the Bad, is a gun for hire who by accident learns about $200 000 hidden somewhere and goes off in search of a good pay day.

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Yodle-ooAAH! WAH-wa-wa-wa…

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Eventually, during another attempt at killing each other, Blondie and Tuco also learn of the money, and since they both hold some information about its location, they must stick together in order to claim their reward. Oh, and the American Civil War is also in full swing around them.

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Yodle-odle-ooooo! Wah-WAH-waaah…

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly might be the most famous Western in the world, and it certainly delivers. There’s dust, tumbleweed, weatherbeaten clothes, weatherbeaten men, weatherbeaten horses and donkeys, and lots of beautiful landscapes filled with cacti.

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Yodle-odle-ooooo! Wah-wah-WAAH!

It’s beautiful, intriguing, exciting, funny, tense, occasionally horrific, and thoroughly entertaining, even at three hours long. Ennio Morricone’s score alone is worth the time, and we love how Sergio Leone was not scared of making three hour epics and telling complex stories. If you’re only going to watch one Western in your life, this should be it. Although why on earth would you only watch one Western? They’re amazing!

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Yodle-ooAAH! WAH-wa-wa-wa…

What we learned: Never have a bath without a gun. Also, you’ll never get rid of this earworm…

Next time: Tokyo Drifter (1966)

#269 Batman

Watched: May 27 2020

Director: Leslie H. Martinson

Starring: Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin, Alan Napier, Neil Hamilton, Stafford Repp

Year: 1966

Runtime: 1h 45min

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Today we bring you the peak of cinematic history: 1966’s Batman. It’s the perfect movie and we defy you to find anything better. Bruce Wayne (West) and his youthful ward Dick Grayson (Ward) live double lives as caped crusaders Batman and Robin in Gotham city. But their daily crime fighting routine is disrupted when their main enemies band together to kidnap the United World’s Security Council by dehydrating them.

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Holy Convoluted Plot, Batman!

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The Joker (Romero), Catwoman (Meriwether), The Riddler (Gorshin) and The Penguin (Meredith) have kidnapped an inventor and stolen his dehydrator. With it, they can reduce people to a fine powder and then bring them back by adding water. Science!

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Holy Evil Science School, Batman!

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However, The Caped Crusader and The Boy Wonder will not let them get away with their nefarious plans! They will POW! BLURP! THWACK! BIFF! and SPLA-AT! the council members to freedom and the villains to their doom.

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Holy KAPOW! Batman!

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You have probably gathered how we feel about this movie from the opening line. It’s been a favourite ever since we used to watch the TV-show as kids, and it has aged oh so well. It may not be the most sophisticated piece of cinematic history, but it’s silly, campy fun which works for all ages.

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Holy Sardine, Batman!

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What’s not to love? The opening credits, the narrator, the bat gadgets (batgets..?), the quintessential Batmusic, the riddle solving and jumping to conclusions, the insane dedication to putting batwings on stuff, and the superhero physique we can all aspire to and actually achieve (I think we can all agree that this is more within our reach than becoming Chris Hemsworth) – they’re all brilliant and very cartoony.

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Holy Marathon, Batman!

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Our favourites are the Shark Repellent Bat Spray and Robin’s endless supply of holiness. But the cheap costumes and the fact that Romero couldn’t even be bothered to shave off his mustache for the role are also part of what makes this movie special. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favour asap.

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Holy Complete Television Show, Batman!

What we learned: Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb.

Next time: Blow-Up (1966)

#264 The 10th Victim/La decima vittima

Watched: March 15 2019

Director: Elio Petri

Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Ursula Andress, Elsa Martinelli, Salvo Randone, Massimo Serato, Luce Bonifassy

Year: 1965

Runtime: 1h 32min

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In the near future (from 1965 so, now..?), people are given an outlet for violent tendencies and aggression through “The Big Hunt” – a game in which each participant gets five rounds as hunter and five as victim. The idea is that this will stop people from going to war. You’re licensed to kill your victim and your hunter, and if you win ten rounds there’s a big prize waiting for you!

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The prize is no longer having to wear outfits that will cut you up if you move. Yay!

 

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One of the greatest hunters is Caroline Meredith (Andress) – a woman with deadly boobs and the wits to go with them. But when she’s pitted against Italian pro Marcello Poletti (Mastroianni) she meets her match. In every sense.

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“Oh, don’t mind me. I was just planning to make a surrealist documentary about a man drinking from 16 glasses at once when I happened to spot you. Carry about your business.”

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This thing was insane and we loved it! The ’60s-inspired futuristic fashion is amazing, and the entire movie is sexy, stylish, campy fun. We loved the dancing, the cow print dress, the insanity of Marcello’s sun worshipping cult (what the h*** was that all about?), Caroline’s deadly boobs, the random people killing each other in the background, and Marcello’s wife and girlfriend going off on their own spree.

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It might look cool, but girl – those tan lines!

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This is one of the most entertaining episodes of Spy vs. Spy you’ll ever see, and an interesting take on a futuristic dystopia. But a stylish, sexy dystopia. With excellent fashion (and government controlled culling of the elderly, but we’re not supposed to focus on that..).

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We simultaneously love and hate this hot pink outfit in equal measure. We have nothing but love for the musicians on the boxes though.

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We would love to watch this on the big screen at some point as a normal TV could never do it justice. And we encourage everyone to do the same if you ever get the chance once social distancing and quarantines are over. We’re also wondering just how many drugs were involved in the making of it…

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Our best guess is oh so many. And some very creative designers with a penchant for colour blocking.

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What we learned: The moment you catch feelings is the moment you catch a bullet.

Next time: The Collector (1965)

#252 For a Few Dollars More

Watched: December 26 2019

Director: Sergio Leone

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee van Cleef, Gian Maria Volontè, Mario Brega, Luigi Pistilli, Aldo Sambrell, Klaus Kinski

Year: 1965

Runtime: 2h 12min

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The Man with No Name (Eastwood), a.k.a. Manco or Monco (so… The Man with Potentially Several Names then..?) is now a professional bounty killer, roaming the wild west looking for bad guys to kill. For money, obviously. He’s not a complete psycho. He is not alone in this noble pursuit though – The Man in Black (van Cleef), a.k.a. Colonel Douglas Mortimer is a formidable rival.

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“Let’s make a deal. Whoever kills the most bad guys gets to wear the poncho for a day!”

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Notorious criminal El Indio (Volontè) escapes from jail and reunites with his followers whom he preaches to about carpenters from a pulpit… Seems like an oddly familiar pastime. Manco/Monco/TMWPSN and Mortimer alpha off and then join forces to stop El Indio’s evil bank robbing plans.

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“My name is El Indio, and these are my ten discipl… eh, gang members.”

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The Man with No Name goes undercover in the gang, and then gets into hot water – quite literally as they ride to Agua Caliente, the unfriendliest town in the west.  But who will outwit whom? What is the significance of El Indio’s pocketwatch and his flashbacks? And who will eventually Über-Alpha the other Alphas and become the one Alpha to rule them all?

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One can only guess…

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The sequel to A Fistful of Dollars, later followed by The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), For a Few Dollars More has everything you could possibly want in a western. Strong, silent men, lots of pregnant pauses and tense silences, a fantastic soundtrack by Ennio Morricone, saloons with easily distracted piano players (is there a union rule that they all have to stop every time a new person enters the room?), hat shooting duels, and lots of violence and horses. What’s not to love?

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Even The Man with No Name has upgraded from his mule to a proper horse. Well done, you!

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We loved Mortimer’s arrival in Tucumcari, Indio’s flashbacks and backstory, the soundtrack, all of Clint Eastwood, the twists and turns, and the tension. Can’t wait for the next one!

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“So, we’ll meet up again in 8765 hours for the sequel?” “Sure. Can I play a different character though?” “Well, we can certainly change our names for it if that helps.” “Dammit, I’m in!”

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What we learned: Keep your friends close and your frenemies closer. And would it kill you to call your frenemies once in a while..? They might be getting lonely you know.

Next time: Planet of the Vampires (1965)

#251 Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Watched: December 18 2019

Director: Russ Meyer

Starring: Tura Satana, Haji, Lori Williams, Sue Bernard, Dennis Busch, Stuart Lancaster, Paul Trinka, Ray Barlow

Year: 1965

Runtime: 1h 23min

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Go-go dancers Varla (Satana), Billie (Williams) and Rosie (Haji) like it fast. Fast cars, fast men, fast living. While joyriding out in the desert, they run into young couple Tommy (Barlow) and Linda (Bernard). Varla challenges Tommy to a race, and afterwards kills him in a fight.

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“Unfortunately for you, I am both a sore loser AND a sore winner! You never stood a chance.”

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After the murder of Tommy, the girls drug Linda and bring her along on their road trip. A chance encounter with and old man (Lancaster) and his son “The Vegetable” (Busch) at a gas station lead them to their farm where the three women plan to rob them and the other son Kirk (Trinka).

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“A deltoid and a bicep, a hot groin and a tricep, makes me – Ooh! – shake!”

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The crippled old man is rumoured to have a hoard of money. Unfortunately, he also has misogynistic and murderous inclinations which he has passed on to his son. With feigned friendliness, Varla and the old man start a power struggle over lunch, both plotting each other’s demise.

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Buns of Steel vs. Wheels of Steel. The Showdown

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This movie is glorious, campy fun. We absolutely loved the diversity and blurred gender roles – the women are as badass and as bad as the men! The plot is filled with twists and turns, the dialogue is amazing and the music is fantastic. Also, Linda’s bikini is totes adorbs.

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“I really should be in a sweeter movie”

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In fact, we loved every boobyliscious and swinging go-go outfit the women wore. And we could watch angry, violent women fighting misogynistic, violent men all day every day. We’re simple that way.

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“Yay! Sexy violence!”

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What we learned: Russ Meyer was definitely a boob man! Also, don’t mess with women.

Next time: For a Few Dollars More (1965)