Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Below are images from "SADIE McKEE", the 1934 adaptation of Viña Delmar's 1933 short story, "Pretty Sadie McKee". Directed by Clarence Brown, the movie starred Joan Crawford, Franchot Tone and Edward Arnold:
"SADIE McKEE" (1934) Photo Gallery
Monday, October 20, 2014
Below is a list of my top favorite television series in the science-fiction/fantasy genre . . . so far:
TOP FAVORITE SCIENCE-FICTION/FANTASY TELEVISION SERIES
1. "Babylon 5" (1993-1998) - J. Michael Straczynski created this award winning television saga about the experiences of the inhabitants of an Earth-controlled space station in neutral territory during the mid-23rd century. Bruce Boxleitner, Mira Furlan and Michael O'Hare starred.
2. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1997-2003) - Joss Whedon created this spinoff of his 1992 movie about a Southern California young woman who has been supernaturally "chosen" to battle vampires and demons. Sarah Michelle Gellar starred.
3. "Star Trek Voyager" (1995-2001) - Kate Mulgrew starred in this third spinoff of the STAR TREK television franchise about the adventures of a Federation starship stranded 70,000 light years away from Earth. The series was created by Michael Piller, Jeri Taylor and Rick Berman.
4. "Jericho" (2006-2008) - Stephen Chbosky, Josh Schaer and Jonathan E. Steinberg created this post-apocalypse series about the inhabitants of a small Kansas town, and their experiences during the aftermath of nuclear attacks on many U.S. cities. Skeet Ulrich and Lennie James starred.
5. "Lost" (2004-2010) - Jeffrey Lieber, J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof created this supernatural series about the misadventures of the survivors of an passenger airline that crashed on a mysterious island in the South Pacific. Matthew Fox starred.
6. "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (2013-Present) - Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen created this Marvel Cinematic Universe series about a group of agents from the spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division). Clark Gregg stars.
7. "Angel" (1999-2004) - Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt created this "BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER" spinnoff about the ongoing trials of the souled vampire, Angel, in Los Angeles. David Boreanaz starred.
8. "Once Upon a Time" (2011-Present) - Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz created this fantasy drama about a gorup of fairy tale characters who have been transported to a "real world" small town in Maine. Ginnifer Godwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas and Robert Carlyle star.
9. "Star Trek Deep Space Nine" (1993-1999) - Avery Brooks starred in this second spinoff of the STAR TREK television franchise about a Federation-controlled space station guarding a wormhole to another quadrant. The series was created by Rick Berman and Michael Piller.
10. "Seven Days" (1998-2001) - Christopher and Zachary Crowe created this series about a former Navy SEAL and CIA agent recruited by a secret government agency to use their time traveling vehicle to correct major errors made in the previous week. Jonathan LaPaglia, Don Franklin, and Justina Vail starred.
Honorable Mention: "Fringe" (2008-2013) - J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci created this series about a team of F.B.I. agents and two scientists who investigate unexplained phenomena on behalf of the Federal agency. Anna Torv starred.
Friday, October 17, 2014
"GOLDFINGER" (1964) Review"
Ever since its release in 1964, the James Bond movie, "GOLDFINGER" has been regarded as one of the best ever in the franchise. In fact, it is considered by many Bond fans as the franchise's definitive film, considering that it more or less created what is known as "the Bond formula".
The 1959 Ian Fleming novel, upon which the movie is based, is also highly regarded by some fans. However, others believe that the movie is an improvement on the literary version. While I agree that the movie, "GOLDFINGER" is an improvement over the novel, I have a rather low opinion of both the novel and the cinematic adaptation. However, I am here to comment on the movie and not the novel.
The plot for "GOLDFINGER" begins with MI-6 agent James Bond sabotaging a Latin American drug laboratory. Following this assignment, Bond rests at an exclusive Miami Beach hotel, where he receives instructions from his superior "M" - via C.I.A. operative Felix Leiter - to observe a bullion dealer name Auric Goldfinger. Bond discovers that Goldfinger is cheating at gin rummy with the help of employee Jill Masterson. Bond distracts Jill and blackmails Goldfinger into losing the game. While enjoying sex with Jill inside his hotel room, Goldfinger's Korean (or Japanese) manservant Oddjob knocks Bond unconscious. The agent regains consciousness and finds Jill's dead body covered in gold paint.
After "M" censures Bond for screwing up his assignment in Miami Beach, he orders the agent to discover how Goldfinger is smuggling gold out of Europe. Bond engages in a golf match with the villain, before following him to Switzerland. There, the agent meets Jill's sister, Tilly, who seeks revenge against Goldfinger for her sister's death. Eventually, Bond and Tilly form a short-lived alliance before the latter is killed by Oddjob and the former becomes Goldfinger's prisoner. Fearful that the British agent might know the details of his new operation in the United States, Goldfinger keeps Bond a prisoner, instead of killing him.
As I had earlier stated, "GOLDFINGER" is without a doubt one of my least favorite Bond movies of all time. And there are many reasons why I harbor such a low opinion of it. Some of the the film's problems stemmed from some poor characterizations. James Bond spent most of the movie either behaving like an oversexed adolescent or an idiot schoolboy. This characterization merely hampered Sean Connery's performance in the movie and led me to consider it one of his worst. The movie also featured one-dimensional portrayals in characters such as Auric Goldfinger's henchman, Oddjob, which allowed actor Harold Sakata spend most of the movie wearing a menacing smile; the thuggish Mafia bosses who visit Goldfinger's Kentucky farm; and a very weak Felix Leiter, as portrayed by Canadian actor Cec Linder, who spent most of the movie behaving like a sidekick, instead of an ally from the C.I.A.
"GOLDFINGER" also featured some incredibly bad plotholes that make me wonder why this film is so highly regarded. For instance, I understood why Goldfinger had ordered Oddjob to kill Jill Masterson for her betrayal. Why did he not order Oddjob to kill Bond, who had compromised Jill and caused him to lose the card game? Goldfinger decides to keep Bond a prisoner, instead of making more of an effort to learn what Bond knew about his current scheme, "Operation Grand Slam". I think drugs would have been a good deal more helpful than a gold laser threatening the agent's nether regions. The method Bond used to convince Pussy Galore, Goldfinger's personal pilot, to betray her boss disgusted me. It disgusted me that screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn allowed Bond wrestle Pussy to the barn floor and use sex to get her to betray Goldfinger. It disgusted me that the entire scene reeked of attempted rape. Why not have Bond convince her that Golfinger was simply a nutcase? I guess Maibaum and Dehn, or the producers, wanted an excuse for Bond to use his "magic penis" on the leading lady.
The movie's most perplexing plot line involved the Mafia bosses' visit to Goldfinger's farm. It featured one of the most ridiculous and unnecessary plot turns in the movie franchise's history. The sequence began with the gangsters' arrival and demand for Goldfinger's presence and the money he owed them. And while Bond eavesdropped on the conversation, Golfinger revealed his Fort Knox plan. Then he murdered them. Many Bond fans have claimed that the reason Goldfinger revealed his plan to the Mafia bosses before murdering them, was because he wanted bask in the enjoyment of letting someone know about his plans. If that was the case, why not have Goldfinger tell Bond earlier in the film before before attempting to kill the agent or leave him for dead? Why save this moment for a bunch of one-dimensional gangsters in the first place? What makes this scenario even more ridiculous is that when one of the gangsters, Mr. Solo, decided that he wants nothing of the Fort Knox plan, Goldfinger sent him on his way with a gold bar . . . before Oddjob killed the man and crushed him inside a car. Goldfinger could have simply killed Solo and the other gangsters at the same time . . . without this ludicrous revelation of his Fort Knox plan?
Were there any positive aspects about "GOLDFINGER"? Well . . . yes, or else I would consider this entry in the franchise to be the worst. Thankfully, the movie's cast included Gert Fröbe as Auric Goldfinger. Although my opinion of Goldfinger's intelligence has diminished over the years, I remain impressed by Frobe's commanding presence and excellent performance. The movie also featured the talented and classy Honor Blackman (who was already famous in Great Britain for her role in the TV series, "THE AVENGERS"), playing the tough and intelligent Pussy Galore. I enjoyed Ms. Blackman's performance so much that it seemed a shame that her character was ruined in that Galore/Bond wrestling match inside the barn at Goldfinger's Kentucky farm. Shirley Easton made the most of her brief appearance as one of the doomed Masterson sisters, Jill. And one might as well face it, I doubt no one will ever forget that last image of her gold-painted body spread out upon the bed inside Bond's Miami hotel room:
"GOLDFINGER" also benefited from Ted Moore's photography of Britain, Switzerland and Kentucky; which featured beautiful and sharp color. I was also impressed by Peter R. Hunt's editing, which seemed most effective in the car chase around Goldfinger's Switzerland plant, the showdown at Fort Knox and the fight aboard Goldfinger's plane. Last by not least, I have to mention the music featured in the film. Between John Barry's score and theme song performed by the talented Shirley Bassey, I must admit that the film's music is one thing in "GOLDFINGER" that rose above everything else. After all, the move's theme song is considered one of the best in the Bond movie franchise. And that is an opinion I do share.
Despite some of the movie's positive aspects - some of the performances, the photography and the music, I have always harbored ambiguous feelings about "GOLDFINGER" for years. In the past, I tried to accept the prevalent feeling that it was probably one of the best Bond movies. But after watching it the last time . . . well let me put it this way, whether or not it was responsible for creating the Bond formula, I finally realized how much I truly dislike it.