What I’ve Caught Up With, November 2020:
A classic film noir from the late 1940s, Tension gives us Richard Basehart playing a meek pharmacist married to a woman who strays, played by Audrey Totter. When he decides to kill the man she’s run off with, he creates a new identity for himself and plots the deed, but can’t go through with it. When the man turns up dead anyway and the cop on the case has a thing for his wife, well, the tension mounts. Features Cyd Charisse in a non-dancing role and William Conrad as a tubby cop. It’s good, but not quite great. Still, it’s worth tracking down if you like the style.
Solid thriller about Mexican drug cartels and the people that are involved in tracking them down and stopping them, sort of. What we learn is that a couple of FBI agents (Emily Blunt and Daniel Kaluuya) find out that the world of the cartels is a lot more dangerous than they could have imagined when thye end up on a task force that includes CIA, Army, and U.S. Marshals. There’s a lot of killing here, and a lot of innocent blood spilled in an effort to get a corner on the drug market or to stop drugs from coming through the border. Except, that stopping the drugs turns out to not really be the issue here—it’s more about controlling who is shipping them.
Film: The Misfits
This was the last film of Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable. It also features Eli Wallach, Monty Clift, Thelma Ritter, Kevin McCarthy, and Estelle Winwood. Hell of a nice cast. This is the story of a group of people come together almost out of necessity to catch wild horses and make a living for themselves. Each of them is broken in various ways by past events, but together, they almost make a couple of functioning people. It’s a fine enough film, but still features that May/December romance issue between Monroe and Gable, when she was clearly better suited to Wallach or Clift. Ah, well.
Film: Point of No Return
This remake of La Femme Nikita, made in the best American tradition, a couple of years after the original version, features Bridget Fonda in the role of drug-addled violence addict turned spy. Truth be told, I love me some Bridget Fonda, and her retirement from films was a sad day for me, but she’s better than this. Point of No Return is the answer to the question, “What do you get when you take Pygamalion and mix it with The Long Kiss Goodnight and then have it filmed by Quentin Tarantino?” Sounds great on paper, but the actual results, despite the presence of Gabriel Byrne, Lorraine Toussaint, and Miguel Ferrer, are less than stellar.
Film: The Flight of the Phoenix
Another one of those mid-1960s movies with a cast that you could kill for, The Flight of the Phoenix includes performances from James Stewart, Richard Attenborough, Dan Duryea, George Kennedy, Peter Finch, Ernest Borgnine, and more. The high concept is pretty simple—a plane filled with oilmen and military personnel goes down in the Sahara. Now they need to rebuild the plane and get out before heat and dehydration kill them. This is the definition of a Boys’ Own adventure. It’s not bad, but it’s overlong, and doesn’t give a great deal to do for a large portion of the cast. Ian Bannen was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in this film, and I’m not sure why.