Welcome back fellow movie fans to a brand new year of My Life In Film… posts. I hope your festive season went smoothly and without incident and that you are now ready to face 2019 with fresh and positive eyes. Or, failing that, stumble into the new year with the same old attitude you’ve always had…just like me! Anyway, Part 35 has arrived and, with it, a slew of classic films to savour. Without further a do, let’s get down to business…
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR (1993)
This is one of those great family comedies that just doesn’t seem to get the love it truly deserves. Thomas Ian Nicholas plays Henry Rowengartner, who has always dreamt of playing professional baseball just like his late father. When he breaks his arm, he finds that, once the tendons have healed too tightly, he can throw pitches over 100mph! He’s soon drafted to play for the Chicago Cubs where he comes up against some strong opposition. While this film might not have been in the running for any major awards, it does have something that the majority of films don’t have – heart! The directorial debut of co-star Daniel Stern, Rookie of the Year is a great feel-good yarn full of hope and optimism, not to mention plenty of baseball action plus support from Gary Busey and John Candy!
WATCH IT FOR: The Have To
THE LION KING (1994)
With a brand new, live-action/CGI version on the way, what better time is there to revisit this classic, Disney original? Smashing all kinds of box office records on its release and scooping dozens of awards along the way, The Lion King is an outstanding achievement in cinema. The story of a young lion cub, Simba, who grows up believing he is responsible for his father’s death. Fleeing the pride, Simba goes on a journey to discover his place in the world and, along the way, makes friends and falls in love. With music by Hans Zimmer and songs by Tim Rice and Elton John, The Lion King proves that, while sometimes they falter, Disney quite often triumphs.
WATCH IT FOR: Stampede
THE MAN WITHOUT A FACE (1993)
Another directorial debut here, this time from action movie hero Mel Gibson. This tender drama sees Gibson cast himself in the lead role as Justin McLeod, a troubled teacher who befriends an equally troubled young boy, Chuck (an excellent Nick Stahl) and nurtures his potential to follow his dreams. McLeod, disfigured from an automobile accident in which another young boy was killed and for which he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, faces hostility from the locals when Chuck befriends him. Its a brave choice to make a film that is so against type but it works, mostly due to Gibson’s then ability to strike gold with almost everything he touched. You should really seek it out if you haven’t already.
WATCH IT FOR: Trailer
SPIES LIKE US (1985)
Emmit Fitz-Hume (Chevy Chase) and Austin Milbarge (Dan Aykroyd) are two low-level government types who are chosen by the CIA for a top secret mission. They believe they are being employed as spies but, in reality and due to their incompetence, they are sent in as decoys. It is one of those really (really) silly films that you either get or you don’t. Chase and Aykroyd are, as you’d expect, just on top form as their 80s personas and, with direction from John Landis, Spies Like Us is all about the escapism!
WATCH IT FOR: Training!
48 HRS. (1982)
Here’s another one of those classic 80s actions flicks that pairs two unlikely stars together to form an explosive partnership. In this case we see Nick Nolte‘s gruff, veteran cop Jack Cates forced to buddy-up with Eddie Murphy‘s convict, Reggie Hammond as they go on the hunt for a killer. Director Walter Hill keeps all fires burning in this loud, action-packed comedy thriller. While some of the language used may offend some, it certainly didn’t deter from producing a sequel eight years later. Its dated, for sure, but it still packs a punch.
WATCH IT FOR: I Hate Rednecks
THE LAST BOY SCOUT (1991)
Another unlikely buddy partnership here with this action thriller from director Tony Scott and writer Shane Black. Joe Hallenback (Bruce Willis) is a down and out private detective who teams up with down and out ex-quarterback Jimmy Dix (Damon Wayans) to investigate corrupt politicians and a crooked football team owner. As you’d expect from Scott and Black, the action and dialogue comes thick and fast and the chemistry between Willis and Wayans jumps off the screen. Its an underappreciated action flick that, I feel, deserves more attention.
WATCH IT FOR: Fifth Street Shootout
COOL RUNNINGS (1993)
The much-missed John Candy stars here, in one of his final movies, as Irving Blitzer, a disgraced bobsleigh coach who gets a second chance to prove himself when the son of a friend comes to him with a crazy idea. Derice Bannock (Leon) is disqualified from the Olympics and turns to Irving to help coach him and his friends to become a great bobsleigh team. Based on the true story of a team from Jamaica hitting the icy slopes of Calgary, Cool Runnings hits all the marks as a triumph over adversity and human redemption story. And with Candy on board, you can bet there are plenty of laughs, too!
WATCH IT FOR: First Training
LIVE AND LET DIE (1973)
In an edition that has already featured a couple of debuts, it seems fitting that this, the first appearance of Roger Moore as James Bond, should also be included. For the eight movie in the franchise, and following the departures of both Sean Connery (twice) and George Lazenby, the producers turned to Roger Moore to bring an altogether different approach to the role. With several agents dying, 007 is sent to New Orleans where he comes up against a powerful drug baron (Yaphet Kotto), a sexy tarot card reader (Jane Seymour) and some dangerous sidekicks (Geoffrey Holder, Julius Harris). Out of all of Moore’s Bond films, this is, perhaps, the darker and most loved. Here on in, the tone gets lighter, the tongue sits firmly in the cheek and Moore’s eyebrows raise the bar.
WATCH IT FOR: Meeting Mr Big
Jean-Claude Van Damme takes centre stage in this slice of sci-fi nonsense from director Peter Hyams. JCVD plays Max Walker, security officer for an agency that regulates time travel. He comes up against Ron Silver‘s shady politician who has some sinister plans for the time technology. This is one of those films that I absolutely hated when I first saw it but have since grown to love it for all its faults.
WATCH IT FOR: A suitably cheesy trailer!
TOUGH GUYS (1986)
Here’s a treat for you. Two legends of the golden age of Hollywood together again. Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster play elderly gangsters who, after being released from prison, find that they no longer fit in and so decide to show the world just what they’re made of. Its been a while since I saw this film so I can only go off what my memory tells me but I seem to recall really enjoying seeing these two old guys butting heads and taking no guff from anyone. Reportedly, the pair didn’t speak to each other on set but you can’t tell.
WATCH IT FOR: Foiling A Bank Robbery
And there you have it. Another ten films to add to the ever-growing list. A nice little collection, even if I do say so myself. Congratulations if you spotted the Bruce McGill connections as well. If you like what you see here, please do feel free to get in touch, comments are always welcome! Until the next time…
“He always did have an inflated opinion of himself”