Silly usurps funny (for the most part) and Peter Sellers usurps Goldie Hawn (completely) in this crackpot British movie pitting the vanity of philandering-but-cultured maturity against the naivete of freewheeling hippie youth, illustrating the ultimate absurdity and ignorance of both social groups during an era of 20th century elitism clashing with its own quite inevitable offspring.
A kind of love-child of Buñuel and Leone with more biblical and religious symbolism than one knows what to do with, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s surrealist Western El Topo follows a cowboy/priest with a sacred calling on a blood-soaked crusade to rescue and ravage the children of men along with their women to liberate the oppressed and celebrate the grotesque in all its gnarley forms without failing to achieve as a film something either sublime or just subliminal, always faithful to itself but less than preoccupied with viewer accessibility.
Bearing the marks of its Die Hard director all over it, John McTiernan’s remake of The Thomas Crown Affair bears at least as many marks of clichéd filmmaking – ranging from atrocious dialogue to plot holes of the most remarkable sort (like, really bad) – and features a couple of popular 90s actors doing everything they could to look cool and attractive but finally just looking desperate and arriving severely short of the standard form of heist films in which audiences at this point should be quite fluent.
He’s known for his long movies, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Sidney Lumet’s Murder on the Orient Express feels sort of arduous, but the main misfire, as Agatha Christie herself observed in part, is Inspector Poirot (and his ‘stache), played by an overacting Albert Finney in an otherwise delicately treated adaptation that, in classic Christie fashion, implicates the entire world in the practice of evil, letting everyone off the hook but only because otherwise there would be no one left to hook.
Grumpy, stubborn, half-drunk, sarcastic, and unshaven did nothing to diminish Cary Grant’s charm and unsurpassed presence in his second-to-last film Father Goose, begrudgingly filling the pater familias role to Leslie Caron and a bunch of girly-girls while periodically yelling at and being yelled at by the well-cast Trevor Howard in a light and goofy homage to The African Queen.
Zany, cooky, and campy to the extreme, with some dialogue to be cherished (“What’s that screaming? A good many dramatic situations begin with screaming.”) and extra-special effects (see above), Jane Fonda’s uncanny facial (and facial only) resemblance to her father makes Barbarella even stranger than it already would have been, missing only cameo appearances from Adam West and Burt Ward to make this slightly erotic and completely fantastic space oddity a celebratory tour-de-force (as they say) of Euro-American genre-bending deconstructive ingenuity.
Arguably the “best” of the Bond movies, You Only Live Twice is remarkably bad by normal film standards—which frown upon flawed shot-reverse shot sequences; ragingly out of control plot elements; and a hero who slouches, squints, and mats down his hair in order to look more Japanese—and yet its charm, wonderfully ridiculous scope (never outdone in Bond lore), and perfect villain (inspiration for the bad guy in Inspector Gadget?) somehow work together to make this cheesefest lovable.
As silly a film as you’ll ever see, The Good Soldier Schweik (Dobrý voják Svejk) (or anyway, part one of it) bounces through its very long 110-or-so minutes like an attempt to unify Chaplin and the Three Stooges with a socio-political bent, exhausting the viewer for its lack of substance and a sense of humor that would make a 12-year-old feel grown up (or maybe just don’t watch it first thing on an early morning).
Without pretense of being anything other than alcohol/drug-fueled dude humor, this dick flick remains true to the Todd Phillips formula of a few guys episodically surviving a few crazy days with some pretty good gags, scenarios, and characters filling in its cameo-interspersed narrative with few if any periods of comedic downtime, successful in part due to its Memento-like structure keeping the audience wondering what actually happened at the story’s beginning.
A textbook case of the monstrous feminine like no other, this series of horror/sci-fi cliches run amok with every one-liner in the book (always more effective when uttered with a British accent) wants to be so many things (Poltergeist, Alien, Evil Dead, etc.) and succeeds in being one of those so-bad-it’s-kind-of-good movies that makes you feel like you’ve seen it a hundred times after only one viewing. (Image from here.)
One of the most famous films noir, and for good reason, Laura captures the image (of the image!) of the untouchable woman, the “femme fatale,” with camera tilts galore and a maximizing of the 4:3 ratio that could have learned David Lean a lesson or two while somehow wallowing in its characters to such an extent that it forgets to take pleasure in tricking its audience. (Image from here.)
Another case-in-point of the feelgood romantic-heist-comedy genre not unlike its many predecessors and imitations, How To Steal A Million commits that infamously Hollywood cheat by inserting two gorgeous and charming leads (Peter O’Toole and Audrey Hepburn) as distractions from what would otherwise be undoubtedly a predictable hash of daddy’s little girl going after a charming bad guy who, of course, isn’t really bad at all, vindicating not only dear Audrey but countless adorers who would have gone to the nether regions and back just to watch her.