Sir Roger Moore 1927-2017

The first James Bond film I saw at the cinema was A View To A Kill in 1985.  It was for a school friend’s birthday party.  We were due to go to the park for a game of football or cricket and later, a picnic, but the weather turned so it was decided a cinema trip was the alternative.  I remember the opening sequence with Bond snowboarding to the sound of The Beach Boys and then the denouement atop the Golden Gate Bridge.  For a long time, A View To A Kill remained my favourite ever Bond film and Roger Moore, a very classy James Bond.

Today, as news of Sir Roger Moore’s death breaks, I’m taken back to that rainy day when a group of kids piled into the cinema to be transported to a world of make believe.  It wasn’t until much later that I began devouring every film, watching and re-watching over and over again.  I still do, whenever they are on TV I just have to watch them.

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Roger Moore was 57 when he made A View To A Kill, his last of seven James Bond films that began in 1973 with Live And Let Die.  He had the unenviable task of following Sean Connery and George Lazenby in a role that was much sought after.  Of course, Moore was much more than just a number.

He signed a seven-year contract with MGM in 1954 but the film roles he was offered didn’t garner him much notice so much so that he was released from his contract after only two years following poor box office showing for the film Diane (1956).  His time after MGM found him in guest-spots on television shows before he signed another long-term contract with Warner Bros.

Pretty soon, though, Moore found fame in television.  Playing the lead in Ivanhoe (1958-59), The Alaskans (1959-60) and starring as Bret Maverick’s English cousin in Maverick (1960-61).  Worldwide fame soon beckoned when Lew Grade cast Moore as Simon Templar in the popular television series The Saint (1962-69) which ran for six series and 118 episodes.

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Once The Saint ended, Moore starred in two films.  The first, Crossplot was a spy caper while The Man Who Haunted Himself proved his acting ability although neither film made any dent at the box office.  Television lured him in once again and he was joined by Tony Curtis for The Persuaders! (1971-72) where they played millionaire playboys.

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Moore had actually been considered for the role of James Bond a few years earlier when it emerged that Sean Connery was stepping down but due to his commitment to The Saint, he was unavailable.  After George Lazenby departed after one film and Connery returned for one more, Moore was once again approached by the producers where he accepted the role that would define him.

Moore’s Bond was very different to both Connery and Lazenby.  His was very tongue-in-cheek compared to the very serious and less jokey incarnations.  It suited him.  He quickly became a firm favourite among fans and is still considered one of the best Bond’s of the franchise.

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His other film roles, both during his time as Bond and after he had retired from the role, were less impressive.  He never quite managed to hit the heady heights of his 007 persona and in later years his film roles, although plenty, were of poorer quality.

In 1991, impressed by his friend Audrey Hepburn’s commitment to UNICEF, he became an ambassador himself.  But it will be as James Bond 007 that he is most fondly remembered.  As that ten-year-old sat in the cinema over thirty years ago, I became a fan of not only A View To A Kill but of Roger Moore.  A man who was not afraid to make fun of himself yet knew his limitations as an actor.  One thing was for certain, though: Nobody Did It Better!

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My Life In Film: Part Nineteen

And, as I hurtle towards the 200 mark, I present the 19th part of my odyssey to list those films that have, in one way or another, made an impact on me.  At least one film in this edition surprised me and I think another film will surprise some of you.  That’s what I like about doing this, the fact that films can surprise you when your initial impression is one of ‘I don’t like the look of that’.  Anyway, enough of my waffling let’s get down to business…

 

GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (1992)

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There aren’t many films set in the world of sales that can grab your attention and slap you around the face like this one.  Based on his own Pulitzer prize winning play, screenwriter David Mamet creates a world of tension in the business of real estate aided by a stellar ensemble cast that features a powerhouse performance from Alec BaldwinAl Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey and Jonathan Pryce are all excellent in a film that isn’t afraid to say it like it is.

WATCH IT FOR: Baldwin’s amazing speech – Always Be Closing!

 

CAPE FEAR (1991)

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Robert De Niro plays Max Cady, a convicted rapist, who is released from prison after fourteen years and then begins a campaign of revenge against the lawyer (Nick Nolte) who put him away.  This is a delicious remake of the 1962 thriller that starred Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck (who also have cameos in the remake) and is given a fresh outlook by director Martin Scorsese.  De Niro is, as you’d expect, outrageously evil as Cady, wreaking his revenge against the lawyer and his family (played by Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis) but, at times, the film slips into parody and cliché.  This aside, Cape Fear is a stunning thriller from a fearless director and cast at the top of their game.

WATCH IT FOR: Cady disrupts a cinema visit!

 

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (2004)

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Director Roland Emmerich has a track record for causing mayhem and destruction in his films (Independence Day, 2012, Godzilla) and this one is no exception.  Dennis Quaid plays Jack Hall, a paleoclimatologist, who must travel across the country to rescue his son (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is trapped in New York during a catastrophic storm that sees the world enter a new Ice Age.  Emmerich applies all his usual techniques to crank up the action and drama while Quaid and Gyllenhall are the backbones of an international ensemble cast.

WATCH IT FOR: Epic freeze

 

THE GENERAL (1926)

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Widely regarded as one of Buster Keaton‘s finest films, The General sees him play Johnnie, an engineer, who is turned down for service in the American Civil War because he is deemed to important in his job.  Union spies capture Johnnie’s beloved train (“The General”) with his beloved Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack) on board.  Johnnie embarks on a daring rescue mission to save both his loves.

WATCH IT FOR: The genius of Buster Keaton!

 

LABYRINTH (1986)

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A number of popular singers were in the running for the role of Jareth, the Goblin King – among them Michael Jackson, Prince and Sting.  Director Jim Henson wanted Sting but was convinced by his children that David Bowie would be perfect.  How right they were!  The story concerns a young girl (Jennifer Connelly) who makes a wish to the Goblin King to take her baby brother away.  Once the wish is granted, though, she immediately regrets it and must then fight her way through a magical maze in order to rescue him.  Henson creates a wonderful fantasy world full of monsters and musical numbers and Bowie revels in his sinister role.

WATCH IT FOR: Magic Dance!

 

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST (1975)

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McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is a career criminal who find himself back in court.  In order to avoid labour duties in prison, he pleads insanity and is sent to an asylum where he faces the irrepressible force of Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher).  The film is one of only three (It Happened One Night & The Silence of the Lambs) in history to win the ‘Big Five’ Academy Awards – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress & Best Screenplay – and it’s not hard to see why.  Nicholson and Fletcher are on top form in a film that rarely falters.

WATCH IT FOR:  “You’re not crazy”

 

SPECTRE (2015)

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Now, you can hate on me all you want but I’m a big fan of this entry into the Bond franchise.  Yes, it has major flaws (Don’t get me started on the Blofeld storyline!) but it also has some nods to the earlier movies that sets it apart from Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace.  A cryptic message from Bond’s past puts him on a path to uncover a sinister organisation.  Daniel Craig returns for his fourth outing as 007 and for the most part seems very comfortable in the role.  There are some spectacular action sequences that remind us what the Bond franchise used to be before the Sam Mendes soap opera it turned into with this and Skyfall.  I for one would love to see Craig return for a fifth Bond film (at time of writing there is still no word on his future) but if this were to be his final instalment, it’s not a bad one to bow out on.  Just don’t mention Blofeld!

WATCH IT FOR: The epic opening sequence

 

THE ROCK (1996)

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Long before Michael Bay turned every movie he made into a huge, stinking pile of dog dirt he hit his stride with this action thriller.  Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) is a biochemist in Washington D.C. who is called upon to help the government when General Hummel (Ed Harris), a former soldier and team take Alcatraz hostage.  Hummel has stolen some highly dangerous nuclear warheads and threatens to launch them at San Francisco.  Goodspeed can disarm the bombs but first, he needs to find someone who can get him inside – enter John Mason (Sean Connery), former British Intelligence officer and one-time inmate at The Rock.  The two men reluctantly work together to break in to one of the most notorious prisons in the world.  It’s a non-stop, boy’s own adventure that doesn’t hold back on the subtlety!

WATCH IT FOR: Connery at his best!

 

PITCH PERFECT (2012)

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Here’s a film that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy as much as I did.  I’d managed to avoid it for a while as I thought it was just a chick flick but it really isn’t.  Anna Kendrick is Becca, a University freshman who gets herself signed up to the school’s all-girl singing group, The Bellas.  They take part in a campus competition against their male counterparts in a film that both surprises and lifts the spirits.  Kendrick is great but the real breakout star of the film is Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy.  It really is a fun film.  In fact, it’s acca-awesome!

WATCH IT FOR: Fat Amy!

 

MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN (1992)

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After a freak accident, Nick Halloway (Chevy Chase) is made invisible and forced to flee for his life when the CIA want to recruit him.  In theory this film, from acclaimed horror director John Carpenter,  should have been great but it just doesn’t work quite as well as it should.  It’s still good fun though, seeing Chase’s character come to terms with his invisibility.  Daryl Hannah provides the love-interest support while Sam Neill is the villainous CIA agent tracking down his man.

WATCH IT FOR: The trailer

 

Another batch of cinematic classics and box-office bombs that mean something to me, whatever that may be.  So far, 190 films have made the list and there are still SO many still to come.  If you agree (or disagree) with some of my choices then let me know, I’d love to hear from you.  In the meantime, I’m off to track down some more lost gems!

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“You’re a kite dancing in a hurricane, Mr Bond”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Face Is Familiar…

Another in my occasional series of posts looking at those hard-working actors and actresses who appear in absolutely everything but who’s name escapes you.

 

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SHANE RIMMER

Much like his Canadian counterpart and friend Ed Bishop, Shane Rimmer has forged an illustrious career in film and television here in the UK.  The two friends even joked together that they were becoming “rent-a-yanks” in the business , their paths crossing in a number of projects over the years.

Rimmer emigrated to England in the late 1950s and soon began finding work as a bit-part player in films and television.  His first major film role came in Stanley Kubrick‘s Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb where he played Captain ‘Ace’ Owens.  Roles followed in The Saint, Danger Man and Doctor Who before starting a long-lasting association with Gerry Anderson‘s productions in Thunderbirds.  As well as Scott Tracy, Rimmer also provided uncredited voices in Captain Scarlet and the Mystersons and Joe 90 as well writing some of the scripts.

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Rimmer also has the distinction of appearing in three different James Bond movies as three separate characters (You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever and The Spy Who Loved Me) as well as the first three Superman films, also as different characters.  Never seemingly out of work, Rimmer’s credits also include roles in White Nights, Out Of Africa, Spy Game and Batman Begins as well as prominent guest roles in the long-running soap opera Coronation Street.

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His voice was also heard in the spoof stop-motion animated series Dick Spanner P.I. in 1987 and The Amazing World of Gumball before returning to the Thunderbirds family once more in 2015. A familiar face at fan conventions, Rimmer also published his autobiography, From Thunderbirds To Pterodactyls, in 2010 and a work of fiction, Long Shot, in 2014.

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Face Is Familiar – Shane Rimmer

My Life In Film: Part Eighteen

“I told you I’d be back!” – Arnold threatened to be back and he is a man of his word, as am I.  Part Eighteen already?  I thought I would run out of films to include but that’s not the case.  What I’ve found is, the further into the vaults I go the more films I remember and can’t believe they haven’t been included already.  So, in the words of Beetlejuice: “It’s Showtime!”

 

DIE HARD 2 (1990)

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The original Die Hard movie was such a huge hit in 1988 that it was inevitable that a sequel of some sort would be on the cards.  Two years later and Bruce Willis is back in action as LA cop John McClane, this time trying to avert disaster in a busy airport.  Rogue military operatives have seized control of Dulles Airport in Washington at Christmas and are holding everyone to ransom.  McClane is there to meet his wife (Bonnie Bedelia) off her flight when he stumbles across the terrorists and manages to find himself “in the same shit twice”.  Director Renny Harlin, in his usual style, brings more bang for your buck to this all-out sequel and sometimes it loses its way because of this but it’s still full of the things that made the first film such a hit.  William Sadler is particularly menacing as McClane’s foe and it’s nice to see some of the original cast returning.

WATCH IT FOR: One of the spectacular action sequences – “Military funeral”

 

THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE (1992)

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In the early nineties there was a spate of thrillers featuring the very unhinged type of character that Rebecca De Mornay plays in this film from the late, great director Curtis Hanson.  Peyton Flanders suffers a miscarriage following her doctor husband’s suicide after being accused of sexual harassment by a patient, Claire (Annabella Sciorra).  Flanders blames Claire and sets out on a plan of revenge that sees her pose as Claire’s new nanny.  The supporting cast is excellent, Matt McCoy as Claire’s husband and Ernie Hudson as a mentally-challenged odd-job man are particularly good but this film belongs to Rebecca De Mornay and her portrayal of a desperate woman looking for answers and someone to blame.

WATCH IT FOR: The trailer

 

JFK (1991)

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Oliver Stone always knows how to court controversy and create a debate about films and filmmaking so it was no surprise that JFK caused great rumblings when it was released.  More than just a conspiracy theory, Stone’s movie is a work of art.  Kevin Costner plays New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison who discovers there may be more to the Kennedy assassination than everyone believes.  It’s an intense, in-depth portrayal of the turmoil that surrounded the shocking events yet still manages to walk the fine line of being a genuine Hollywood ensemble movie.  The cast list is just as impressive as the film itself with brilliant cameo performances from Jack Lemmon, Walter MatthauJoe Pesci, Tommy Lee Jones, John Candy and an outstanding Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey Oswald.  It’s a long slog to watch, clocking in at over 3 hours, but it is well worth it.

WATCH IT FOR: Trailer

 

THE BIRDS (1963)

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“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it” One of my favourite Alfred Hitchcock quotes about his movies.  It’s a quote the pretty much sums up his style.  There was never that much blood, gore or violence in his horrors, only the fear of what was about to happen.  Psycho did it best, but The Birds is right up there for me as one of his finest.  Tippi Hedren plays a wealthy socialite who meets Rod Taylor in a pet shop and subsequently follows him to a small town where he stays with his mother and younger sister.  Once she arrives, though, strange things start to happen and birds of all species begin to attack the people.  There’s never an explanation as to why this bizarre occurrence happens and I think that’s part of the films charm.  Sometimes, things happen that you just can’t understand.

WATCH IT FOR: One of my favourite scenes – crows assemble in the playground

 

STAY TUNED (1992)

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It seems fitting that two stalwarts of American television find themselves as husband and wife, trapped in a television set from hell and forced to take part in versions of the programmes they find themselves in.  Pam Dawber (Mork & Mindy) and John Ritter (Three’s Company, Hooperman, 8 Simple Rules) are Helen and Roy Knable, a couple with run-of-the-mill jobs who are given the opportunity of a lifetime when a salesman knocks on their door with a state-of-the-art satellite TV set.  It’s basically a chance to spoof some popular TV shows of the past and see how these characters play out in each one.  It’s good fun, if a little lacklustre but to be honest, I haven’t seen it since I saw it at the cinema so my opinion might be completely different if I watched it again!

WATCH IT FOR: The trailer

 

ON THE TOWN (1949)

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Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin play three sailors on 24-hour shore leave in New York City where they hope to find fun and romance.  What sets this apart from most other musicals of that era is the fact that it went out on location to film scenes rather than use sets.  This is evident is the famous opening song-and-dance number where our three heroes take a sight-seeing tour of the city.  It’s vibrant, bold and still holds up after all these years.

WATCH IT FOR: That opening scene

 

GOLDENEYE (1995)

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You could almost look at Goldeneye as a twist of fate for Pierce Brosnan.  He was originally approached to play James Bond when Roger Moore retired after A View To A Kill but lost out due to his contract on Remington Steele.  As we know, Timothy Dalton got the part and played 007 in two films until the franchise ran into legal problems, hence the six year gap between Licence To Kill and this.  Bond is assigned to retrieve stolen access codes for a top secret space weapon, “Goldeneye”, but he is hampered by a villain (Sean Bean) who anticipates his every move and has a deeper reason for wanting Bond dead.  It’s a great return for the franchise and Brosnan was always going to make a great Bond but it does fail at times to bring the humour of the original films.  This film also marks the first appearance of Judi Dench as ‘M’.

WATCH IT FOR: The breath-taking opening sequence

 

TOY SOLDIERS (1991)

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A group of rebellious teens at a prestigious boarding school face off against a bunch of terrorists in this popcorn-treat of a thriller from director Daniel Petrie Jr.  I missed this one at the cinema but thanks to home video I got the chance to watch it on VHS many times and wasn’t quite sure why it wasn’t a success.  Sean Astin and Wil Wheaton lead the group of rebels against Andrew Divoff and his terrorists.  There is also fine support from Louis Gossett Jr and Denholm Elliott.  If you haven’t already, you should check it out if you can, it’s a great little action flick that deserves a wider audience.

WATCH IT FOR: The trailer

 

KILL BILL: VOL. 1 (2003)

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A brash, bloody and violent tale of revenge from Quentin TarantinoUma Thurman stars as ‘The Bride’ a former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad  lead by her lover, Bill (David Carradine).  Once she fell pregnant she decided to leave this violent world and fled to Texas where she fell in love and, on the day of her wedding, is gunned down by a jealous Bill and his squad.  Four years later ‘The Bride’ wakes from her coma with only revenge on her mind.  Tarantino is a master at the quirky dialogue and violent action sequences and this film has plenty of both.

WATCH IT FOR: The Bride vs O’Ren – warning, there be violence!

 

THE CASTLE (1997)

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This delightfully funny and touching Australian film crept under the radar back in 1997.  I first became aware of it thanks to Johnny Vaughan and Liza Tarbuck on The Big Breakfast discussing it and quoting lines from the film to each other.  We rented it on VHS and were not disappointed.  It’s quirky, very funny and instantly a cult classic.  It’s the classic David & Goliath tale of a normal, working class family forced to take on the bigwigs at City Hall who want their house for expansion.  You must watch this film at least once in your life.  It will lift your spirits like nothing else.

WATCH IT FOR: House valuation

 

In the blink of an eye, another batch of films bites the dust.  Looking back at this particular grouping and I notice most of them are from the 1990s – a prolific period of time in my cinema-viewing life.  Yet, there are still SO many more films still to come, these lists just keep getting longer after every post.  If you enjoy these blog posts, please get in touch and let me know – I really would love to hear from you.  “Get your hands off it, Daryl”

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My Life In Film: Part Seventeen

As sure as tock follows tick, night follows day, Part Seventeen must surely follow Part Sixteen.  Another batch of ten films in my ever multiplying list of favourites from over the years.  As a great man once said: “It’s not the years honey, it’s the mileage” – some of these films really have the mileage…see if you can spot the curve ball in this rundown!

 

ANCHORS AWEIGH (1945)

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Two sailors on a four day shore leave in Hollywood meet an aspiring young singer (played by Kathryn Grayson) and try to get her signed to MGM.  It’s pretty much standard movie musical fare when it comes to plot but that’s not the reason to watch it.  Gene Kelly is, as always, magnificent alongside fellow sailor Frank Sinatra.  A young Dean Stockwell plays Grayson’s nephew who wants to join the navy and grows attached to the two sailors.  There are some great song and dance numbers, none more so than the brilliant Jerry Mouse routine.

WATCH IT FOR: Gene Kelly dances with Jerry Mouse – “Look at me, I’m dancing!”

 

GALAXY QUEST (1999)

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Sci-fi conventions are THE place to go to catch a glimpse of your favourite stars from television and film.  When a group of TV stars of the past reunite at a convention they get a little more than they bargained for.  Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and the ever brilliant (and much missed) Alan Rickman play the stars of TV’s ‘Galaxy Quest’ and are approached at a convention by real aliens believing their characters to be the real deal.  Their help is needed to solve a problem of intergalactic proportion!

WATCH IT FOR: The show must go on!

 

BIRDMAN or (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) (2014)

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Michael Keaton knows a thing or two about playing a famous superhero, having played Batman twice, so it’s interesting to see him here playing an actor trying to shake off the spectre of an all-encompassing role and be taken seriously.  Keaton plays Riggan Thomson, an actor who made his name playing Birdman in three movies, who is trying to stage an epic comeback by writing, directing, starring-in and co-producing a play on Broadway.  What we see is a man in meltdown and the consequences this has on the people around him.  His daughter, played by Emma Stone, his friend and co-producer Zach Galifinakis and temperamental star Edward Norton.  It is a daring, imaginative piece of filmmaking from Alejandro G. Innaritu which rightly won four Academy Awards, including a nomination for Keaton.

WATCH IT FOR: “Does she talk?”

 

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN (2011)

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Based on the classic comic books by Herge, this is the first animated feature film from director Steven Spielberg about the intrepid young reporter Tintin (Jamie Bell) and his faithful dog, Snowy.  In this story he goes on a treasure hunt for sunken treasure with help from drunken sea-dog Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis).  Using motion-capture and animation techniques, its a fun thrill-ride of an adventure and, according to IMDb a sequel is on the way!

WATCH IT FOR: Falcon chase

 

REMO: UNARMED AND DANGEROUS (1985)

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Or Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, to give it it’s original title.  A James Bond-style franchise was planned with this film based on “The Destroyer” novels but this film didn’t play well and all we’re left with is this bizarre gem of an action flick.  Fred Ward stars as Remo Williams a cop who is supposedly killed in the line of duty and subsequently trained as a lethal assassin to work for the US President.  With a strange mix of action, martial arts and just a hint of the supernatural, Remo is an underrated cult classic with an iconic scene atop the Statue of Liberty.  Stellar support from Wilford Brimley and the ever wonderful Joel Grey as Remo’s mentor.

WATCH IT FOR: Statue of Liberty and walking on cement!

 

ROXANNE (1987)

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This is one of my favourite Steve Martin performances.  Based on the play “Cyrano De Bergerac” he plays C.D. Bales who, while having an unusually large nose, falls for the beautiful Roxanne (Daryl Hannah).  Unfortunately, though she’s attracted to his personality she falls for the looks of another man (Rick Rossovich) who seeks Bales’ advice on wooing Roxanne.  It’s a delightful comedy that showcases Martin’s charm and wit.

WATCH IT FOR: Insults to a nose

 

FARGO (1996)

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Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) works in his father-in-laws car dealership and has got himself into some serious financial strife.  He sets a plan in motion for two men (Peter Stormare and Steve Buscemi) to kidnap his wife and hold her for ransom but he didn’t bet on the men being inept at their job and the amount of bloodshed it entails.  He is further hampered by the local Sheriff, played to perfection in an Oscar-winning role by Frances McDormand who is determined to find the killers whilst nine months pregnant.  This is a brilliant and twisted thriller from The Coen Brothers which has since gone on to spawn a very successful television series.

WATCH IT FOR: Frances McDormand’s wonderful performance

 

DOC SAVAGE: THE MAN OF BRONZE (1975)

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This is one of those films that is just so bad it’s actually pretty awful but still ok to watch every now and then.  Based on the pulp novels about an intelligent superhero in the 1930s and starring Ron Ely as the titular title character.  Doc Savage returns home to find his father has died and that he has become the target of an assassination plot.  He assembles his team “The Fabulous Five” (Paul Gleason, William Lucking, Michael Miller, Eldon Quick and Darrell Zwerling) and vows to solve his father’s murder.  It’s cheesy, camp and over the top but with enough action and humour to keep you watching.  This film used to be shown quite a lot during the school holidays but has since been banished to the “best left forgotten” pile.

WATCH IT FOR: The cheesiest of cheesy trailers!

 

QUICK CHANGE (1990)

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Grimm (Bill Murray) enters a New York bank dressed as a clown in order to commit a robbery.  With the help of his two friends (Geena Davis and Randy Quaid) the pull off the heist but their biggest problem is escaping the city and getting to the airport.  Murray acted as co-director on this film with his co-writer Howard Franklin.  The idea of Murray, with his deadpan demeanour, dressed as a clown is superb and the supporting cast are excellent.  It’s surprising then, that the film isn’t as fondly remembered as it should be.  It’s certainly one of Murray’s best performances, if not his famous.

WATCH IT FOR: The trailer

 

THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963)

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This is one of those films that Hollywood used to do so well.  A massive, ensemble piece with glorious scenery, plenty of action and a leading man so damn cool it should be illegal.  Steve McQueen leads the all-star cast as Allied soldiers plan a daring escape from their Nazi camp during World War II.  Richard Attenborough, Donald Pleasence, James Garner, James Coburn, David McCallum, Charles Bronson and Gordon Jackson are just some of the stellar line-up in John Sturges‘ epic (almost 3 hours!) perennial favourite that features some of the most iconic scenes in movie history not to mention one of the most famous pieces of film music ever written!

WATCH IT FOR: McQueen’s motorcycle escape

 

If you were to look up the word “eclectic” in the dictionary I’m pretty sure you’d find this edition of My Life In Film… From singing sailors to deadpan bank robbers, ace reporters to The King of Cool this has a little bit of everything.  That’s pretty much how my taste in film goes as well, a veritable concoction of movie genres and a cornucopia of actors and actresses.  If you liked what you saw here today, please feel free to get in touch – you can message me direct on here or find me on Twitter as @Shadow_Chaser – I’d love to hear your thoughts.  I’m off to throw a baseball against the wall for a few hours!

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Face Is Familiar…

One of Hollywood’s hardest working actors with over 100 credits on television and film, not to mention his stage roles.  Often seen playing concerned fathers or shady authority figures, his name might escape you but his face…well, his face looks familiar.

 

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CLIFF DE YOUNG

Before starting his acting career, De Young was the lead singer of sixties band Clear Light where they played on the same bill as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Doors.  After the band broke up he made his way to New York and, specifically Broadway, where he starred in a production of Hair and Sticks and Bones.  After four years in New York he returned to California and took a starring role in the television movie and subsequent television series, Sunshine where he played a man whose wife is dying of Cancer and featured the songs of John Denver.

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He went on to star in over 80 films and television programmes including Harry and Tonto alongside Art Carney; Shock Treatment, a sort of sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Tony Scott‘s The Hunger where his fellow co-stars included Susan Sarandon and David Bowie.

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Perhaps most prolific during the 1980s, De Young starred as a corrupt special agent in the action thriller F/X alongside Bryan Brown and Brian Dennehy; as David’s father in the classic family adventure Flight of the Navigator and another concerned father in the 1988 chiller Pulse.  There also followed guest spots on popular television programmes Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The X-Files and The West Wing.

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Still going strong in movies, television and theatre Cliff De Young is one of those actors whose work you know but don’t know.  Always reliable and a constant presence for over forty years his name might not be as well known but his face sure is familiar

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FACE IS FAMILIAR – CLIFF DE YOUNG

 

My Life In Film: Part Sixteen

“This means something.  This is important”  Well, at least that’s what I keep telling myself.  It might not be moving any earth or shaking any trees but this countdown of my favourite films certainly means something to me.  It’s giving me a focus, a purpose if you will.  Like I’ve said before, I’m really enjoying revisiting these classics and sharing them with you.  Even if you’re not actually reading any of this!

 

PULSE (1988)

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This is one of those films I’m going to file under “nobody else remembers this”.  I first saw it when it was tucked away in the late-night schedule and immediately loved it.  I think I’ve only seen it once since then and haven’t seen it shown anywhere else.  There’s an unseen, electrical force taking out whole neighbourhood’s and taking lives.  Joey Lawrence plays David, a young boy visiting his father (future star of Face Is Familiar… Cliff De Young) and new stepmother (Roxanne Hart) when he discovers this strange force is out to harm him and his family.

WATCH IT FOR: Trailer – “Spooky, ain’t it?”

 

UNBREAKABLE (2000)

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Following the success of The Sixth Sense, writer/director M. Night Shyamalan brought us another suspense thriller.  Bruce Willis is David Dunn, the sole survivor of a massive train wreck who walks away without a single scratch on him.  Samuel L. Jackson‘s mysterious Elijah Price has a strange theory as to why this happened to him.  As in his previous film, Shyamalan weaves a seemingly simple story that captivates right through until the twisty final act.

WATCH IT FOR: Comic Book Store

 

THE ROCKETEER (1991)

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Long before comic books spawned a thousand blockbuster movies, this pulp graphic novel hero reached for the stars.  It’s a 1930s Hollywood complete with Nazi spies, gangsters and a young pilot (Bill Campbell) who stumbles across a top secret jet pack that allows him to become a masked hero.  With the help of his friend/mentor (played by Alan Arkin) he rescues his girl (Jennifer Connelly) from the clutches of Neville Sinclair (a deliciously hammy Timothy Dalton) and takes to the skies as The Rocketeer.

WATCH IT FOR: A daring rescue

 

TOY STORY (1995)

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It’s a common sight now but back in 1995 Toy Story was the first full-length computer animated film.  And what a film it is!  Woody (Tom Hanks) is Andy’s favourite toy but then, for his birthday, Andy is given the all-singing-all-dancing Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen).  Trouble is, Buzz isn’t aware that he’s a toy – he thinks he’s a real space ranger.  The drama comes from Woody’s jealousy which leads the two of them lost in the big, wide world and needing to work together to get home.  Toy Story is an absolute joy of a film and a landmark in modern cinema.

WATCH IT FOR: “You are a toy!”

 

AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY (1997)

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Essentially, this is a love letter to the British spy films of the sixties from Mike Myers (Wayne’s World).  Austin Powers is a super-hip spy in swinging sixties London who is cryogenically frozen and awoken 30 years later  in a radically different world in order to defeat his nemesis Dr Evil.  Myers plays both Powers and Dr Evil with great energy and humour and sends up the spy film brilliantly without making fun of it.  Support comes in the form of Elizabeth Hurley, Michael York and the brilliant Robert Wagner, whose performance is a revelation.

WATCH IT FOR: Myers having fun as Dr Evil

 

RANSOM (1996)

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This gripping thriller from director Ron Howard sees the son of millionaire businessman Tom Mullen (Mel Gibson) kidnapped and held for ransom.  At first Tom works alongside the police but soon takes matters into his own hands.  Gibson is great as the desperate father willing to do anything to get his son back.  Rene Russo and Gary Sinise provide excellent support but this is really Gibson’s movie which grabs with both hands.

WATCH IT FOR: Tom turns the tables

 

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008)

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Yes, this film has plenty of flaws but I love it!  Almost twenty years since he cracked his whip in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Harrison Ford returns as the man in the hat for an adventure that takes him further into the realms of the supernatural.  During the Cold War, Indy is approached by Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) with a coded message from an aged colleague Harold Oxley (John Hurt) that leads them to the legendary Crystal Skull.  Hot on their trail is Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) who will stop at nothing to claim the skull for herself.  Although it does lack a lot of the heart of the original films, Spielberg does pepper the story with nods to the past including the return of Marion (Karen Allen) but, ultimately, it just doesn’t stand up as well with the others (Mutt’s character grates and the swinging through the trees scene is just stupid!).  That aside, I enjoyed seeing Ford as Indy again (a fifth instalment has also been announced, due in 2020!)

WATCH IT FOR: Indy’s back

 

CITIZEN KANE (1941)

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Much revered and usually found atop most Top Ten lists, this film is a work of genius from one of Hollywood’s greatest maverick filmmakers.  Orson Welles plays Charles Foster Kane, a multimillionaire media tycoon who, upon his deathbed, utters one single word: “Rosebud”.  This leads a group of reporters, including Joseph Cotten, to try and decipher it’s meaning and thus begins Kane’s story.  Through flashbacks we see Kane’s rise to the top and ultimate downfall using many cinematic techniques that were fresh and new for the time.  Welles was just 25 years old when he co-wrote, directed, produced and starred in this film and created an iconic piece of cinema.

WATCH IT FOR: “Rosebud”

 

JERRY MAGUIRE (1996)

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I’ve never really been a huge fan of sports movies but this one really caught me out.  Tom Cruise stars as Jerry Maguire, a narcissistic sports agent who one day has an epiphany about his job and is fired for expressing his feelings about it.  He decides to take his new sports philosophy and try it out on the only athlete who has stayed with him.  Cruise is on excellent form as the self-obsessed Maguire who, along with Renee Zellweger takes Cuba Gooding Jr‘s football star to new heights.  It’s a masterful story from Cameron Crowe about the human condition and what it means to be successful.

WATCH IT FOR: An Oscar-winning Cuba Gooding Jr – “Show me the money!”

 

THE TOWERING INFERNO (1974)

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Irwin Allen was the master of the disaster movie, having already brought us The Poseidon Adventure (1972).  Here we are in similar territory with a huge construct, poorly built and full of party guests, stricken by nature and threatening to engulf the whole lot.  Paul Newman is the architect who discovers that while he was away his wiring schematics haven’t been followed correctly.  Whilst at the inaugural party, a fire breaks out and disaster is only a matter of time away.  Chief fire officer Steve McQueen leads the charge against the flames trying to protect the all-star cast inside.  Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Robert Vaughn, Richard Chamberlain and an Oscar-nominated Fred Astaire are just some of the big names attracted to this mammoth project.

WATCH IT FOR: Explosions and panic

 

And, as the smoke clears, we find another batch of cinematic gems to enjoy.  Yet another eclectic mix, don’t you think?  Each of these films is great (or terrible) in its own right and hopefully this is giving you the inspiration to view some of them for yourself.  Or maybe you’re compiling your own list?  Either way, let me know what you think of this group and I’ll see you on the other side…

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