“Beady-Eyed Sneer”

January 9, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Film, FILM, Uncategorized |
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Lee Van Cleef (9 January 1925 – 16 December, 1989) In The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (1978), the authors, citing Return of Sabata (1972), quote Van Cleef as stating: “being born with a beady-eyed sneer was the luckiest thing that ever happened to me.”           His was not a filmography to commend itself to posterity.  However, we respectfully suggest the following to the canon: In bit parts: High Noon (1952), Gunfight at OK Corral (1957), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962): As a spaghetti anti-hero / villain: For a Few Dollars More (1965),…

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Morning Departure

November 29, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |
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(Directed by Roy Ward Baker) (1950) November 2017: the horrid news of a possible explosion and sinking of an Argentinian submarine off Mar del Plata recalls a ghoulishly wonderful English film vividly showing the dangers of life under the sea. Morning Departure was too gritty and sad to be a hit in its day but it is still a highly suspenseful piece, all the more so because it is quintessentially human and so sad. Lieutenant Commander Peter Armstrong (John Mills) is off early for a morning exercise on board his sub. His wife (Helen Cherry) wants him to stop roving and start working at her…

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The Charge at Beersheba

October 28, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Australian History, Classic Film, FILM, HISTORY |
Painting by George Lambert (c/-Australian War Memorial)

Painting by George Lambert (c/-Australian War Memorial)

31 October, 1917: That late afternoon saw the last great cavalry charge in history. The Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade staged a ridiculously audacious and brilliant wheeze that routed the opposing forces of the (once truly great) Ottoman Empire. This bit of derring-do cleared the way for the taking of Gaza, and allowed British forces under General Allenby to enter Jerusalem, the first Christian occupier since the Crusades. Allenby had worked out that Beersheba (in Ottoman Palestine) was critical to overcome, in order to advance on, inter alia, Damascus.  But there were fortifications and well-manned, 9 feet-deep trenches, held by Turkish soldiers who were…

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La La Land / The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

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(La La Land directed by Damien Chazelle) (2016) (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg directed by Jacques Demy) (1964) I’ve not been to Los Angeles for years but the town stays in the memory. It’s full of brand identification – Sunset Blvd., the Chinese Theatre, the film studios, the Roosevelt Hotel, the Beverly Wiltshire, The Viper Room…the beaches! The hills! The outlets! The orange smog! Emma Stone (the fresh-faced, bug-eyed lass from Birdman) is Mia, a waitress with dreams of stardom. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz bore par excellence, struggling away in obscurity. She has dud auditions; he has to play 80s horror-tunes at parties. Girl…

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Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (Novel)

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By Henry Farrell. The critic Judith Crist said, “the guignol is about as grand as it gets”. Film buffs, was Crist talking about Henry Farrell’s short novel, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” or the 1962 film which it inspired?  Neither.  She meant the film “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte’ which Farrell co-wrote with Lukas Heller, the screenwriter for “Baby Jane”.  But Baby Jane Hudson is more gothicly horrifying on a good day than Charlotte and her lot on a Halloween killing spree. Blanche Hudson, a beautiful and feted film star of the 30s and 40s, has spent twenty dreary years in a wheelchair after suffering a spinal injury.  Her sister Jane shares Blanche’s gloomy Beverley…

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