Rotten to the Core (1965)

This crime comedy begins with three small time criminals – Lenny the Dip (Kenneth Griffith), Scapa Flood (James Beckett) and Jelly Knight (Dudley Sutton) – about to be released from Wormwood Scrubs prison. Their gang’s mastermind is Randolph Berkeley-Greene, nicknamed “The Duke” (Anton Rodgers). But he is still on the outside, having provided himself with a cast iron alibi for their last job. Read more …

The Killing (1956)

The Killing is a classic 1950s heist film and the first major film from director Stanley Kubrick. 

The film stars Sterling Hayden as Johnny Clay, the mastermind of a plan to steal $2 million from a racetrack. Among his gang are inside man George Peatty (Elisha Cook Jr.), corrupt and indebted cop Randy Kennan (Ted de Corsia) and Mike O’Reilly (Joe Sawyer), a bartender with a seriously ill wife. 

Clay also hires two men to create diversions at the racetrack. These are gun dealer and crack shot Nikki (Timothy Carey), who is to shoot the favourite horse during the race, and an old friend, wrestler Maurice (Kola Kwariani), to start a fight at the track. 

But the plan is complicated by the unexpected involvement of Peatty’s duplicitous wife Sherry (Marie Windsor), who plots with her lover (Vince Edwards) to get their hands on the cash themselves.  Read more ...

Way Out West (1937)

The comedy Way Out West has a simple plot that sees Laurel and Hardy arrive in the western frontier town of Brushwood Gulch to deliver an inheritance. This is in the form of the deeds to a gold mine, which they are to hand over to Mary Roberts (Rosina Lawrence), the daughter of a late prospector friend.  Read more …

The Amicus Horror Anthologies

Although less well known than its rival Hammer, Amicus Productions left its own mark on the horror genre during the peak years of the British horror film in the 1960s and 1970s. Amicus’s trademark was the anthology or portmanteau film, one comprised of four or five horror tales all linked by a framing story and often concluding with a revelation or surprise pay-off.

In this post I explore all 7 of the Amicus horror anthologies – and a few copycat films too. Read more …

The Thirty Nine Steps (1978)

This third film version of The Thirty-Nine Steps stays much closer to the plot of John Buchan’s novel than previous adaptations and moves the story’s setting back to the eve of The First World War.

Colonel Scudder (John Mills) is a British spy who has uncovered a plot to assassinate the Greek premier on his visit to London, something that will spark a crisis in the Balkans and likely lead to war in Europe. When he finds himself pursued by enemy agents determined to kill him and take possession of his evidence against them, Scudder seeks sanctuary in the apartment of a neighbour in his building, Richard Hannay (Robert Powell). Read more …

My Man Godfrey (1936)

My Man Godfrey is a screwball comedy starring Carole Lombard as a wealthy heiress who hires William Powell, supposedly a down-and-out, to be her new butler. Complications – and romance – inevitably ensue.  Read more …

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

Cancelled in 1969 after three seasons on television, Star Trek appeared to lay dormant in the late 1970s, until it was unexpectedly revived in a big screen version as Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the film that would transfer the Star Trek brand from the small screen to feature films and precede its 1980s television revival. Read more …

Power Play (1978)

A military coup in an unnamed country is the basis for this 1970s political thriller starring David Hemmings, Peter O’Toole and Donald Pleasence. 

David Hemmings plays Colonel Narriman, an apparently decent army officer on the verge of retirement. Narriman is looking forward to a quiet life on his farm in the country, when he is persuaded to take part in a coup against the government. The country’s current regime is authoritarian and unpleasant and the country beset by terrorist violence. Narriman himself is finally convinced of the need for action when his friends’ daughter is murdered by the country’s secret police.  Read more …

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

One of John Ford’s last films, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is an exploration of some of the myths and mythologising of the old West and the relationship between historical fact and legend. 

Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) is a respected US Senator who arrives unexpectedly with his wife Hallie (Vera Miles) one day in the small western town of Shinbone, the place where Stoddard had first made his name. When the local newspaper editor learns he is there, he senses a story. Stoddard explains that he is in town for the funeral of an old friend, Tom Donophin (John Wayne). When pressed further, Stoddard reluctantly decides that it’s time to finally tell the tale of his friendship with Donophin and the true story behind his famed shootout with outlaw Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). Read more …

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