Risky Business (1983)

DailyView: Day 89, Movie 153

One of the earliest movies in the Tom Cruise filmography is the teen coming of age/sex movie Risky Business, directed by Paul Brickman. This is the next film in the DailyView binge.

With his parents are away for the weekend, Joel (Tom Cruise) decided that he would have some fun. Contacting a call girl Lana (Rebecca De Mornay), Joel found himself in all kinds of trouble.

More mature and deep than American Pie or Porky’s, Risky Business is the story of high school kids behaving badly and dealing with the overabundance of teen angst as well as the proclivity of sex. There are dark themes in examination here in a satire that does have some solid laughs to it.

Of course, the most iconic scene in the film is one that nearly everybody has seen… the Bob Seger “Old Time Rock-n-Roll” scene with Cruise dancing in his underwear. It happened early in the movie, but there are several other classic 80s songs in the film’s soundtrack as well.

You can see the actor that Tom Cruise would become here with his youthful and carefree performance.

There were distractions for me as well. They were in the form of Balki from Perfect Strangers and Herbert Viola from Moonlighting. Bronson Pinchot and Curtis Armstrong are the actors and they were playing Cruise’s best friends, but they are too recognizable for me to not be pulled out of the film. As I have said before, this is not the film’s fault, but my own biases. Plus, I have an unnatural dislike of Herbert Viola because of how much I blame him unreasonably for the decline in Moonlighting quality.

There is a Ferris Bueller vibe here too as Joel goes to great distances to avoid being caught and it seemed as if things always worked out in the end.

Frailty (2001)

DailyView: Day 89, Movie 152

Today’s DailyView is a tense and suspenseful thriller frim the early 2000s called Frailty, starring and directed by the late, great Bill Paxton.

A man (Matthew McConaughey) walked into the FBI offices claiming to know the identity of the God’s Hand Killer, a infamous serial killer the FBI had been searching for. He then started to recount an account of his childhood where his father (Bill Paxton) said he was spoken to by God to start to destroy demons. The two boys, Fenton (Matt O’Leary) and Adam (Jeremey Sumpter), struggled with the mission their father had undertaken.

I am not sure how I feel about this one. I would say 3/4th of the film was intense and anxiety filled. Watching the two boys, especially Matt O’Leary who is excellent here, going through such a horrible childhood, I was filled with dread. I was hoping for something to work out.

However, with the way the movie ended, there was a twist ending that completely reconfigured how the audience would look at the film, I had some real problems with it. I can’t really go into it without spoiling the twist, but I was disappointed with what happened.

This is an example of a movie that had been doing extremely well only to go off the rails with the third act. It felt like one of the M. Night Shyamalan twists that did not fit with the story they had been telling, like it was tacked on afterwards. It was a disappointment.

Bill Paxton was outstanding as the crazy father. Both young boys were excellent. Powers Boothe played the FBI Agent Wesley Doyle and he made a really strong foil for McConaughey. It started with a True Detective vibe to it for sure.

I enjoyed a good chunk of this movie, but I was not a fan of how it wrapped up which tainted the whole movie.

Dragonwyck (1946)

DailyView: Day 88, Movie 151

TCM has been a nice resource for me to see some movies that I may not have been able to find on streaming services during the DailyView. Tonight on TCM, they played a 1946 Gothic romance movie called Dragonwyck. I had never heard of this, but the synopsis sounded intriguing and featured the classic Vincent Price. It is the debut of director Joseph Mankiewicz.

A young woman Miranda (Gene Tierney) was recruited by a distant relative, Nicholas Van Ryn (Vincent Price), to come to his mansion Dragonwyck to be the governess to his daughter. During this time, Nicholas’s wife (Vivienne Osborne) had taken ill and suddenly died. Nicholas had created a connection with Miranda and would wind up marrying her.

The local doctor Jeff Turner (Glenn Langan), who was there the night of Nicholas’s wife’s death, had also found feelings for Miranda, but he understood how she was in love with Nicholas.

Vincent Price is excellent as the proper, regal patroon. The film deals with several themes involving religion, karma, mental illness. There are some powerful scenes about the legend that the Van Ryn family are the only people who could hear the playing of the harpsichord played by the ghost of Nicholas’s great-grandmother Azilde whenever misfortune befell the family.

It was a weird sensation in the film. When Nicholas was having the meeting of the farmers working his land, there was a character named Klaas Bleecker. Bleecker was angry with Nicholas about having to give him the product and he attacked him. The weird things was… I knew the voice. He did not look familiar, but I knew the voice. It was Sherman T. Potter from MASH, Harry Morgan. I would not have recognized him at all since he had a heavy black beard, but that voice was recognizable. It was strange hearing Potter’s voice coming out of this unknown person.

This was very creepy of a film, with some tragic events. You kind of thought you knew what was happening, but you could never quite be sure. It was dark and mysterious. Vincent Price was excellent.

I was happy to have the chance to see a movie like this. I have to continue to keep my eye on TCM.

The Wiz (1978)

DailyView: Day 88, Movie 150

The film I watched today for the DailyView is one that is infamous, considered a financial and critical flop. The film, starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Richard Pryor, was The Wiz, a black adaptation of the classic L. Frank Baum novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and a Broadway musical. Having watched the film, I am unsure why this turned out to be such a failure. It was a wonderful piece of entertainment.

Dorothy (Diana Ross) lived with her family in Harlem with as much drama as one would believe. During a snowstorm, her dog Toto ran outside and Dorothy desperately followed him. When she caught up with Toto, a magical snowstorm swept the two of them off to the mystical world of Oz, which shared several characteristics with New York itself.

Once in Oz, Dorothy was shown that she had accidentally killed the Witch, some special silver shoes appeared on her feet and she was being celebrated by the Munchkins. They sent her down the Yellow Brick Road to go and see the Wiz (Richard Pryor), but Dorothy could not find the start of the road. Along her travels she meets up with the Scarecrow (Michael Jackson), the Tin Man (Nipsey Russell) and the Lion (Ted Ross) and the four of them (five if you count that dog too) continued to ease on down the Yellow Brick Road.

If you know the story of The Wizard of Oz, you would have known The Wiz. It follows the main structure very closely, with only some general specifics being altered. It plays very much like a Broadway show in the way it is shot and presented which is part of the charm.

Diana Ross and Michael Jackson are both wonderful in their roles. Who thought Jackson could have provided such as in depth performance, so sweet and soft.

The music was rousing too. Quincy Jones was involved in crafting the music from the Broadway show and writing some new music for the film, along with married couple Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson. You had the voices of Ross and Jackson to play with, as well as Lena Horne, who played Glinda the Good Witch.

Surprisingly though, the standout for me was Nipsey Russell. I only knew Russell from his days on The Match Game, but he showed off his acting skills, his dancing skills and his singing ability. As the Tin Man, Russell brought such humor, passion and so much skill. The scene where Dorothy and Scarecrow found Tin Man in the broken down amusement park is just masterful.

The Wiz is too long with a few of the scenes, in particular the underground subway scene with the Lion, potentially being shortened. However, there is an energy in the music and the dance. I enjoyed watching The Wiz and would put it among the solid films of the late 70s.

Spy Game (2001)

DailyView: Day 87, Movie 149

Decided that this morning would be a great time for the DailyView to dive into a little espionage. Spy Game is a thriller starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt, directed by Tony Scott.

According to IMDB, “CIA operative Nathan Muir (Redford) is on the brink of retirement when he finds out that his protégé Tom Bishop (Pitt) has been arrested in China for espionage. No stranger to the machinations of the CIA’s top echelon, Muir hones all his skills and irreverent manner in order to find a way to free Bishop. As he embarks on his mission to free Bishop, Muir recalls how he recruited and trained the young rookie, at that time a sergeant in Vietnam, their turbulent times together as operatives and the woman who threatened their friendship

This was a lot of fun. While it was fun, there are the typical spy movie clichés here. All of the CIA agents seemed to be nowhere nearly as competent as you would expect they should be. Robert Redford just kind of ran rings around them. There was a countdown clock until Bishop was going to be executed that popped up on the screen every once in awhile (the first time the four hour time variance seemed to be really quick). These are thriller tropes we have seen before.

However, Redford is so charming and Brad Pitt is excellent that they overcome any minor plot contrivances that might be in place. You do enjoy watching the supposedly retiring Redford work his magic on the others in the CIA and get away with it. I would have liked a little more of a conclusion to the story as I wondered what Redford was going to do next.

Catherine McCormack made a short, but significant appearance here as a connection for Brad Pitt that made him question what he was doing. She was very good too and she did have some good chemistry with Pitt.

Overall, Spy Game is a flawed movie, but one that is an enjoyable watch if you do not allow yourself to be bogged down with some of the issues the film has. Redford and Pitt are tremendous together as a sort of Hollywood generational pairing.

The Comedy of Terrors (1963)

DailyView: Day 86, Movie 148

Boy, do we have a wild one for the DailyView today.

The Comedy of Terrors is a horror/comedy featuring the iconic Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. Vincent Price plays Waldo Trumbull who is an undertaker whose business has been failing. Trumbull was blackmailing former thief Felix Gillie, played by Peter Lorre, to be his assistant. Since the funeral business has ben slow, Trumbull and Gillie go out at night and kill old men to increase business.

Trumbull is a mean-spirited, drunken, cruel man, unhappily married to a wannabe opera singer who lacked any ability to sing Amaryllis (Joyce Jameson). Her father (Boris Karloff) lives there too, barely competent and nearly senile. Trumbull is always unsuccessfully trying to give the old man his “medicine” which is actually poison.

Major problems occur for Trumbull and Gillie when they go to try to kill their landlord John F. Black (Basil Rathbone). Chaos then ensued.

I don’t think I would have ever believed that Vincent Price and Peter Lorre would turn out to be a perfect slapstick comedic pairing, but that is exactly what has happened here. They both exhibit a tremendous amount of comedic timing and there were a few times where they reminded me of a dark Abbott and Costello. Price and Lorre were really great here.

Basil Rathbone is as over-the-top as I think I have seen in a long time. His performance has to be seen to be believed.

I loved the ending of the movie too. It is such an ironic twist to the end of the film that is really satisfying and works extremely well.

Joyce Jameson’s “singing” is unbelievably funny and about as hard to listen to as possible.

This is a dark movie with some sarcastic and evil people that is really funny.

Munster, Go Home (1966)

DailyView: Day 85, Movie 147

1966 must have been an odd year. This is the year where we got the Batman movie from the TV series with Adam West and Burt Ward. Now, I have found another TV show adapted into a movie from 1966 for the DailyView. It is based on the TV show the Munsters. It is called Munster, Go Home.

Herman Munster (Fred Gwynne) and his family head to England to claim an estate willed to him by a relative, an inheritance that would make him Lord Munster. However, the English Munsters, Freddie (Terry-Thomas) and Grace (Jeanne Arnold) and Lady Effigie Munster (Hermione Gingold), were not happy about it.

This was very much like the TV show, extended to the length of a movie. It had the same type of humor from the show and was very easy to watch.

Nearly the whole cast from the TV show returned for the film including Yvonne De Carlo as Lily, Al Lewis as Grandpa and Butch Patrick as Eddie. However, the role of Marilyn Munster was played by Debbie Watson instead of Pat Priest. Apparently Universal wanted to go with the younger Watson to build up her career. According to IMDB, this recast angered a lot of the show’s fans.

There were few other familiar faces found in Munster, Go Home. Richard Dawson was here playing Joey, a man who would pick up “boxes” from Munster Hall every month. Bernard Fox, who appeared in several sitcoms such as Bewitched, Hogan’s Heroes and Mash, was Squire Lester Moresby, who had a running rivalry with the English Munsters. John Carradine played Munster Hall’s butler Cruikshank.

This is not great, but if you liked the Munsters, then this would be a fun movie to watch. It plays like a longer version of the TV show. The story is simple and the laughs are cute.

The Big Chill (1983)

DailyView: Day 85, Movie 146

Next up on DailyView is the ultimate 1980s film, The Big Chill, directed by Lawrence Kasdan.

A group of 8 tight college friends reunited for a weekend after another one of their friends of their group had committed suicide. The friends spent the weekend reconnecting, talking with each other, and discovering what the group dynamic was now.

There is not much of a plot here, but the film depends on the strength of the cast. The cast is filled with a bunch of the actors of the 80s such as Kevin Kline, Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, William Hurt, Jeff Goldblum, JoBeth Williams, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly and Don Galloway. The ensemble works well together and carries the movie. The interplay between characters was a fascinating aspect of the film.

The dialogue was well constructed and helped us learn more about the characters. It also had a definite feel of improv here as well. The group dynamic is delivered through the words they said and it felt natural.

The soundtrack to the film was outstanding with a variety of great songs such as “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and “Wouldn’t it Be Nice.” One of my favorite scenes was when the whole ensemble was dancing in the kitchen to “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.”

Splash (1984)

DailyView: Day 85, Movie 145

Splash has been on the DailyView list from the beginning, but I was not sure if I had seen it before. I mean, I was aware of the movie and the general plot, but I was not sure if I had ever actually seen it. So I decided to give it a chance on Disney + this morning. I did not recognize much of anything in the movie so I feel comfortable that this meets the criteria for the DailyView.

Directed by Ron Howard, Splash starred Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah in one of the most oddball love stories in the Disney canon. Allen Bauer (Tom Hanks) was reunited with a mermaid (Darryl Hannah) who had saved him from drowning as a child. However, he did not know that she was a mermaid. The mermaid, who took the name Madison, could, for a short period, come on land and walk around with legs. Unaware of the surface culture, Madison learned about it by watching TV.

Allen and Madison fell in love during these few days, but Madison worried about telling him the truth. As this romance is blossoming, scientist Walter Kornbluth (Eugene Levy) is desperately trying to prove that mermaids exist and he pursued Madison.

Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah had good chemistry and it was great to see John Candy here too. Candy played Allen Bauer’s older brother who was full of troublesome behavior. It was just the same role that John Candy always played and he was really good at it.

I did not like the way the film concluded, though. The chase scene which proceeded it was average at best.

Tom Hanks showed here that he was on his way to stardom. He threw himself into the bizarreness of the plot and filled up the screen.

Harvey (1950)

DailyView: Day 84, Movies 144

During the DailyView, I have been watching several of the films in the filmography of Jimmy Stewart and the latest is the off-beat comedy, Harvey.

Elwood P. Dowd (Jimmy Stewart) was an affable and charming gentleman, friendly and kind-hearted, who seemed to have one problem, he talked to a 6’3″ white invisible rabbit named Harvey. Elwood’s sister, Veta (Josephine Hull) was becoming tired of the impropriety of the situation and wanted to have him committed to the mental institution.

All manner of chaos and shenanigans ensued after this with Elwood unaffected by any of it. He just went about the day engaging with every person he met and passing out his card.

Harvey is a funny, light-hearted movie that shows how likeable Jimmy Stewart can be. Even with everything going crazy around him, Elwood just continued to see the goodness and the sweetness of everyone.

There would be a question if this movie is making light of the serious business of mental illness, but there are also parts where you, as the audience, believe that Harvey is real. They refer to him as a Pooka, a spirit, which could be considered the way around any actual illness. Of course, it can also be referring to how you can take control of your own life by letting go of the worries or the stress and just basking in the warmth of life.

Jimmy Stewart is wonderful in Harvey, showing the warmth and the whimsical side of his personality. The performance of Josephine Hull was so great that she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. There are lots of solid comedic performances, including Jesse White as the sanatorium’s orderly. Cecil Kellaway takes his character, Dr. Chumley in many different paths as the film moved along.

Based on a play by Mary Chase, Harvey is a wondrous romp through the world of acceptance and finding the light in the dark. Harvey could have been a much darker film dealing with themes of alcoholism and mental illness, but instead, it chooses to find the joy life gives. We should all have a Harvey in our lives.

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

DailyView: Day 83, Movie 144

I looked at the schedule for TCM tonight, and they were showing Rebel Without a Cause, which has been on the DailyView watchlist for awhile now. It was one that I had on the HBO Max queue for awhile too, but I had not gotten around to it so when it was there on TCM, it would work out perfectly.

James Dean was only in three movies, and his tragic death came just before the release of Rebel Without a Cause. You can tell how charismatic he was in this movie. You could see just how big of a star he was on his way to becoming with his performance here.

Having said that, I had to laugh when he did the “You’re tearing me apart” line because I immediately pictured Tommy Wiseau in The Room with his line for Lisa. Wiseau was inspired in that line delivery from Dean in this movie.

According to Rotten Tomatoes: “After moving to a new town, troublemaking teen Jim Stark (James Dean) is supposed to have a clean slate, although being the new kid in town brings its own problems. While searching for some stability, Stark forms a bond with a disturbed classmate, Plato (Sal Mineo), and falls for local girl Judy (Natalie Wood). However, Judy is the girlfriend of neighborhood tough, Buzz (Corey Allen). When Buzz violently confronts Jim and challenges him to a drag race, the new kid’s real troubles begin.”

I enjoyed a lot of this movie, in particular the ending with Plato. This was a very enjoyable watch and I would recommend it to anybody. However, I am going to focus on a few of my problems with it. I just want to stress that I liked this movie a lot, but these were my thoughts.

I was distracted by Thurston Howell the Third being James Dean’s father in this movie. That is not the movie’s problem, it is mine issue. I know that, but every time I saw Jim Backus, all I could do was think “Where is Lovey?” To be fair, by the third act, I was more accepting of him as the father. Backus gave a good performance and was able to shake me out of the Gilligan’s Isle thoughts I was having. Again, that is not a fault of the film.

One of the things that was the fault of the film was that I did not believe the relationship between Jim and Judy. SPOILER Buzz, who was Judy’s boyfriend, just died earlier that night and suddenly Jim and Judy were professing their love. They dumped that story really quickly and I had a problem with that. END OF SPOILERS

The last thing I will bring up is how much of a dick Buzz is at the beginning and how his gang of jerks were just following him no matter what. Pull out a knife? Fine. Be an a-hole for no reason? No problem. Then, at the end, the others are out to take it to another level. I just did not understand why these kids were acting the way they were. Plus, Judy was there and seemingly happy to be part of the insanity.

Beside those issues with Rebel Without a Cause, I did like this very much.

Bob Dylan: Don’t Look Back (1967)

DailyView: Day 83, Movie 143

In 1965, Bob Dylan went on a tour of England and, during the tour, Dylan allowed a documentarian and director D.A. Pennebaker to come along. Dylan gave Pennebaker an unrestricted access to the singer as they went from concert to concert, and hotel room to hotel room. This documentary would become Don’t Look Back and it gives an amazing look at the iconic singer as he was transitioning from acoustic to electric, from folk to rock and roll.

The legendary Bob Dylan was 23 years old during the tour and the cameras caught plenty of fascinating moments, from Dylan trying to find out who threw a glass out the window at a party in his room to his debate about an article in Time Magazine. It gives a deep picture of the crotchety musician.

The documentary kicks off with the video for “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” an iconic video with Dylan showing cards of the song’s lyrics. There are some great songs used throughout the doc, Dylan performing them on stage during the tour.

Some of the conversations that Dylan engages in with the people in his orbit are fascinating, and, I can only say, a little confusing.

I will admit to not knowing a lot of Bob Dylan’s music outside of his “hits” but this was a highly engaging and entertaining documentary with a man who was an enigma of his times.

Trog (1970)

DailyView: Day 83, Movie 142

Ever since the TV mini series Feud, I have been interested in the career of Joan Crawford. As it showed in the series, Crawford was desperate in those last years of her career to find movies that would hire her. The ageism in Hollywood was terrible at the time and, despite being one of the most famous and powerful actresses around. Because of her struggles to find suitable roles to match her status, Crawford wound up taking a lot of movies that were not up to her past standards.

Her final movie performance is a perfect example of this, as Crawford appeared in a film called Trog. A primitive being was discovered in an underground cave and is taken by the scientist Dr. Brockton (Joan Crawford). Believing that the creature could be the missing link between human and troglodyte, Brockton began teaching, studying and working with the creature, naming him Trog.

However, there is a resistance to Trog and a vocal opposition claiming that he should be destroyed is led by Sam Murdock (Michael Gough, Batman’s Alfred, himself!).

Joan Crawford plays this role 100% straight. There is no silliness or parody in her performance, which makes it all the funnier. The movie is so ridiculous that you can’t help but wonder why Crawford took the role. I guess paychecks are important.

Trog looks like a man with a monkey head on. Trog’s reign of terror at the end is laugh out loud funny.

I think that, despite how terrible the movie is, Trog is something that should be experienced. It is hard to explain.

The Conversation (1974)

DailyView: Day 83, Movie 141

One of Frances Ford Coppola’s finest films according to critics and cinephiles is next up on the DailyView, The Conversation starring the ever awesome Gene Hackman. Speculation has been that the character played by Gene Hackman in The Conversation is the same character he plays in the movie Enemy of the State years later with Will Smith. Now having seen The Conversation, I can see why the connections have been made.

Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) was an expert in surveillance who was hired to record a conversation between a young couple, Mark (Frederic Forrest) and Ann (Cindy Williams). Paranoid and regretful from a previous job that turned out tragically, Harry stated to believe that the couple might be in danger from the man who had hired him and this worry began to weigh on Harry’s mind.

Written and directed by Coppola, The Conversation has an interesting cast of actors. Along with the excellent Gene Hackman, there was Shirley from Laverne & Shirley, Cindy Williams, a young Harrison Ford, Teri Garr, Allen Garfield, an uncredited role for Robert Duvall, and John Cazale.

The movie is excellent, in particular, the third act that takes what we thought was happening and flipped it around to show us what was really going on. It was a twist ending before twist endings became so predominant in the industry. I honestly never saw it coming.

I love how the film slowly develops the character of Harry Caul and how we see him struggle with himself over what he has done in the past and how this new case could potentially echo that problem.

The underlying theme of surveillance is as important today as it was back in the 1970s. At that time, this movie had come out just around the same time as the Watergate conspiracy and so the nation was surely looking at films like this in more ways than just entertainment.

I’ve said this before, but I miss Gene Hackman. He is truly one of the most underrated actors we have ever had. He has a filmography unlike most Hollywood stars and he is exceptional every time.

The Conversation is one of those movies that I have seen on the different streaming services, but I never watched before. I am glad that I changed that today.

Three Days of the Condor (1975)

DailyView: Day 82, Movie 140

A political thriller day for DailyView which kicked off with the Robert Redford movie Three Days of the Condor, directed by Sydney Pollack. Based on the novel Six Days of the Condor by James Grady, this movie was tense and satisfying.

Turner (Robert Redford) worked as a reader for the CIA. He would read everything, looking for clues or ideas or hints of what someone may be planning and then he would send it to the main office. His most recent report brought an unexpected result. A hit squad came to his office and assassinated everyone there. Turner was lucky because he was out getting the office’s lunch.

When he returned, he took off, trying to figure out what he was going to do. He found a gun and kidnapped a random woman Kathy (Faye Dunaway) off the street who had her own car. He forced her to take him to her apartment so he could hide out and try to determine what happened and what to do next.

Max von Sydow was here too as the main assassin hired by the CIA to take out Turner. He was great as he always was. We did not get a deep dive into his character, but you still could see what he was like and how Max took it and created something original.

Redford and Dunaway were great together and their chemistry burned through some scenes that were uncomfortable to watch.

The story is slowly unfurled and reveals the truths in a satisfying manner. You are never sure what Redford was going to do next and that made for an edge of the seat thriller. The paranoid filled film worked really well for the time, coming out just after the whole Watergate fiasco. Much like All the President’s Men, Three Days of the Condor works not only as a period piece but also as an thriller.