Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

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Fifty years ago, there was a classic film released that really changed the genre.  Produced by and starring Warren Beatty, Bonnie and Clyde loosely told the true story of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, notorious bank robbers during the 1930s.

Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty), an ex-con, is caught by Bonnie (Faye Dunaway) trying to steal her mother’s car.  Enamored by his criminal lifestyle, Bonnie joined him in a bank robbery as the pair began a love affair.

The Barrow gang added Clyde’s brother Buck (Gene Hackman), Buck’s wife Blanche (Estelle Parsons) and mechanic C.W. Moss (Michael Pollard), and they moved around Texas and the central states robbing banks and getting into shootouts with law enforcement.

This movie was groundbreaking because of the violence that it showed.  For the time, the violent shootouts were very graphic and the blood was shown as well.  Of course, it was tame in comparison to today’s standards, but this film led the way in what a movie could show.

Beatty and Dunaway had tremendous chemistry with one another and you truly believed that these two were the wild loves.  This was also one of the first films that shows their main protagonists as criminals, anti-heroes.  Bonnie and Clyde are extremely likable and easy to support.

The ending was a dramatic moment that came out of nowhere.  SPOILERS.  The ending was just like real life.  In a set up, Bonnie and Clyde are gunned down in a hail of bullets by police officers including Frank Hamer (Denver Pyle).  Then the movie ended right there leaving the viewing audience shocked and wanting more.  I teach plot in my literacy class and we talk about the climax of a story being followed by falling action.  There was no falling action or conclusion here.  It took the climax of the film and just threw up the “THE END” on the screen.  There was not even any boxed text like you see in other real life stories where they have info on the screen for the audience to read.  It was just done.  That made this ending all the more unbelievable.

Bonnie and Clyde was a great film with a shocking ending and two extremely charismatic leads.  The film won two Oscars as well.  50 years later, this film certainly holds up.

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Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein (1948)

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I was always a fan of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.  I loved the “Who’s On First” routine.  I loved all of their other movies.  But when they came across the Universal monsters, the pair took it to another level.

This film also boasted the appearances of Lon Chaney Jr. as Larry Talbot (who would become the Wolfman) and Bela Legosi who is the Count.

These actors truly make the film work by playing their individual monsters straight.  They are not played for humor.  In fact, that straight play works extremely well with the lines delivered by Lou Costello.

There is more slapstick comedy here than the normal Abbott and Costello movie.

Dracula has a plan.  He wants to revitalize the brain of Frankenstein’s monster by replacing it with a viable (and simple) brain.  And whose brain do you think is the one that will work?  That is right.  It is Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello).  With the help of a beautiful lady scientist (Lenore Aubert), the Count looks to lure Wilbur into the spider’s web.

This is one of Hollywood’s first horror/comedy mash-ups.  There is a lot of humor here, without sacrificing the scares.  It is also one of the better examples of the Universal monsters coming together in a movie (which also included the voice of Vincent Price as the Invisible Man making a special cameo).  The Dark Universe stumbled out of the gate with The Mummy.  Perhaps they should look at this as an option, at least with the narrative.

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Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Carrie (1976)

Carrie

This weekend sees the debut of Stpehn King’s The Dark Tower in theaters so I figured I would add one of the greatest King adaptations to the list of Classics reviewed here.

Carrie starred Sissy Spacek in the title role of a sad, put upon high school girl, who finally gets asked to the prom.  Problem is, Carrie is being set up by the mean kids.

Kids can be really cruel, and they think and do some of the meanest things just for the laughs of it.  And they can target the weaker and the different.

However, they mess up, because Carrie was anything but weak.

She was a telekinetic.  That means that she can move objects with her mind and I have always believed that TK is one of the most powerful of all super powers.  And Carrie turns this film on its head with her TK powers, changing the movie from a psychological horror movie to a revenge story.

Piper Laurie is utterly brilliant as the overbearing religious mother Margaret White.  She was just as cruel as the high school kids, but in a different way.  Locking Carrie in the closet was a terrifying scene, and Margaret earns her end.  Piper Laurie, who would eventually be on Twin Peaks, received an Oscar nomination for her role.  She was chilling.

There is a great cast around these other awesome actors.  John Travola, William Katt, Amy Irving, Betty Buckley all have important roles and have great performances here.  Brian DePalma directed the adaptation, creating some iconic imagery that continues to be a horrifying look at high schoolers and their lives.

There was a remake of Carrie a few years ago, but it was a basic reshoot of the original done with lesser performances.

This is one of the best horror films of the 1970s and arguably the best Stephen King adaptation to date.

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Carrie

Batman and Robin (1997)

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This was my least favorite movie for a long time.  Then Movie 43 came along and took its place, but that does not mean that this travesty is not still one of the worst movies ever created.

Joel Schumacher directed this turd and helped kill the Batman franchise.  After the series had been resurrected by 1989’s Batman, this, the fifth of the series, drove the nails into the coffin.  The only benefit of this is that it forced the WB to put this franchise aside until Christopher Nolan came back to the Dark Knight trilogy.

Again, this is not an excuse for why this sucked so badly.  It is just a fact.

George Clooney took over the Batman suit (fresh with bat nipples) from Val Kilmer.  He was hamstrung by the tone of the film.  The Batman series had been moving back toward the camp that the 1989 Batman left behind.  The Batman from the sixties had its detractors and the image of the character from the comics was very dark.  With the comedic tone and the campiness of the new film, Batman and Robin started in trouble.

Then, things were just went so badly.  Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze was a terrible choice.  Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy?  Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl (who was Alfred’s niece)?  A script that was so crammed full of horrid dialogue and ice puns that you could not stand it.  A Bat credit card (how does that work in the first place?)  Bat ice skates?

The whole Alfred is sick storyline was nothing but a way to force Batgirl into our world.  Chris O’Donnell played Robin as if he needed a slap across the face.

There was product placement galore.  Some of the worst examples of product placement in any movie (maybe better than the Transformers, but.. hey what isn’t?)

Oh… and Bane.  Well, maybe I really don’t have to go into how terrible this version of Bane was.

This version of Batman was too jokey to be taken seriously and too stupid to be funny.  The neon colors are vomit inducing.  The action is poorly filmed and does not make up for the ridiculous script.

These are some actual quotes from Batman and Robin:

“Let’s kick some ice! “- Mr. Freeze

“Tonight, hell freezes over! ” – Mr. Freeze

“Hey, Freeze. The heat is on.” -Batman

“You’re not sending ME to the COOLER!” – Mr. Freeze

“Chicks like you give women a bad name.” -Batgirl

“Let me guess, Plant Girl? Vine Lady? Huh? Hand over the diamond Garden Gal, or I’ll turn you into mulch!” -Mr. Freeze

“It’s the hockey team from hell!”  -Robin

“I hate to disappoint you but my rubber lips are immune to your charms.” -Robin

 

There were actually a bunch more Mr. Freeze lines that could have been included here, but you get the idea.

I’ve talked about this piece of crap for too long already.  If there was any doubt, this one is …

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Batman & Robin

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Fast Times At Ridgemont High

TCM presented a showing of 1982’s comedy classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High today through Fathom Events and it gave me a chance to see the film.  Though there were several scenes that I was familiar with, I do not believe that I ever saw the entire film until today.

Fast Times was a film based on a book from then 22-year old Cameron Crowe, whom went undercover as a high school senior and wrote an expose on what he saw.  The book would become a high school comedy filled with a great cast and some real life situations that caused a stir.

There were plenty of references to drugs and to sex.  In fact, according to today’s pre-show, the film was initially rated X, until there were some cuts made to bring the rating down to R.

And you can see why the film was rated that way.  It had characters that spoke in a matter-of-fact manner about many sexual situations as well as there being plenty of nudity and simulated drug use.

However, the film was more than just that.  In fact, though most of the characters appear to be the typical stereotyped characters we have come to know from these high school movies, the Fast Times characters were actually quite well developed.  You could understand the basis for the choices these young people made and the film did not shy away a frank illustration of the youth culture of the times.

Plus, Fast Times is really funny.  Led by Sean Penn’s iconic stoner Spicoli, there are some great comedic performances here.  It was also wonderful to see the late, great Ray Walston as Spicoli’s foil, Mr. Hand.  That relationship was over-the-top, but it was sweet and surprisingly realistic. It is the type of teacher-student adversarial relationship that other films have tried to include but with which they failed miserably.

Now, Fast Times is far from perfect.  There was a decisively missing plot, as the film was really more of a series of scenes involving these characters.  The film gets away with that because these characters are so likeable, but the story structure was definitely lacking.  There were also some seriously lacking of parental figures for these kids.  Were they all just roaming around freely?

I enjoyed seeing the special presentation of Fast Times today, and I can see where many of the film’s ideas and concepts were copied and used with lesser extent in the years since.

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Fast Times At Ridgemont High

Rear Window (1954)

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The Alfred Hitchcock classic Rear Window is one of his best films ever.  There is something isolating about it and it brings us along to feel the anxiousness displayed by James Stewart.  We see everything happening in our own POV, knowing the truth but not exactly sure what is happening.

James Stewart plays photographer L.B. Jefferies, currently confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg, who spends his day staring out his window at the apartment complex and wondering about the lives of the people he sees.  When something strange happens in one of the windows across the way, Jefferies has his imagination run away with him… or does he?

Hitchcock creates such a great mysterious story that we try to work out at the same time as the main character.  He does it with a tremendous amount of suspense and tension.  James Stewart does a remarkable job of conveying that.

Grace Kelly is here as well, playing Lisa, Jefferies girlfriend who has been trying to get him to allow her into his life at a deeper level.  She is beautiful and it is an awesome when she joins in with Jefferies’ attempts to uncover what exactly was going on.  It showed their relationship in a strong way.

Raymond Burr played Thorwald, the neighbor whose behavior makes Jefferies think he has done something dastardly.  Burr does a great job with less, creating a wonderful antagonist for Jefferies, even though you are unsure if he has done anything wrong at all.

Rear Window is one of Hitchcock’s greatest films of all time and it holds up today.  It is am amazing film.

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Coach Carter

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I had a chance to go to an education conference and we were lucky enough to have a chartered bus to travel from Iowa to Minneapolis.  On the trip home, we put in a movie that starred Samuel L. Jackson named Coach Carter.

Coach Carter is a basketball coach that takes a job at his old school, a school that is one of the worst school in the state in way of graduation and education.  There are several young players who have their own struggles with dedication, as well as the other typical troubles that face the typical high school student in this type of sport movie.

Coach Carter was a pretty entertaining film for one main reason.  It was Samuel L. Jackson.  Jackson is always good, even in poorly written, cliche-ridden sport movie.  Jackson had a presence and he was very believable in the role.  Without him, I am afraid that this movie would have been considerably worse.

Most of the movie’s younger actors, including a young Channing Tatum, were not very good here.  Tatum has improved dramatically as an actor and seeing him this way is a stark reminder of how much better he has become.

As an educator, there were a lot of things that were illogical or downright wrong about what goes on in the movie.  The principal and the teachers were doing and saying things that made no sense, but, ironically, much of what Coach Carter says and does was almost exactly what, ironically, was talked about at my conference.

In the end, Coach Carter is a fun time despite its problems.  And as the first of the “classic” reviews, Coach Carter gets a….

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Doc’s Classic Movies Reviewed

Hey.  So, I want to start writing up some reviews for the site that give you my thoughts and opinions on other movies that occurred prior to the movie reviews on EYG.  This might be some that I had already reviewed back before the site came here to WordPress or it could be films that I have never reviewed before.

I have used the term classic in the heading of this section, but that does not necessarily mean I am only reviewing classics.  Clue could be reviewed, (ok…Outlaw?) or something that is like the original Ghostbusters, or Star Wars or Monster Squad or ET or Casablanca… etc.

In fact, I have never seen Casablanca, but I do believe it is one of the films to be included in the Fathom special series.  Films like that could get a review.

You could get cult classics- such as Rocky Horror or The Evil Dead.

I could review the “classic” films such as The Room or Birdemic: Shock and Terror.

Or even just old movies that I hadn’t reviewed before.  Films on Netflix or Amazon or one of the many other streaming services available today.

We are taking the term “Classic Movies” and stretching it quite a bit.

I am also going to change my rating system for these reviews.  Instead of using the stars, I am going to use the following classifications (in the following order).

Paragon

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Vintage

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Classic

classic

Fun Time

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Meh

meh

Overrated

overrated

Stale

stale

Putrescent

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Let’s see what this brings us.