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TIGER BAY (1959)
Engrossing thriller introduced Hayley Mills as a young girl who witnesses a murder but lies about it. Based on the short story "Rodolphe et le Revolver" by Noel Calef directed by J. Lee Thompson and produced and co-written by John Hawkesworth, the film features John Mills, her real-life father, as a police detective who tries to get her to tell the truth, and Horst Buchholz as a young sailor who commits the murder in a moment of passion. The movie was shot on location in Wales.
THE FLAME AND THE ARROW (1950)
Burt Lancaster, showing off his circus performer background, as an athletic eratz Robin Hood named Dardo Bartoli in a silly swashbuckler from early in his career. Virginia Mayo and Nick Cravat co-star in a Jacques Tourneur-directed adventure that is long on breathtaking stunts (many performed by Lancaster) and short on logic. If Dardo was much smarter, however, you wouldn’t have a story.
EXECUTIVE ACTION (1973) Ineptly made conspiracy theory film, offering plausible scenarios for the assassination of President John Kennedy by right-wing zealots with a lot of business money behind them. Burt Lancaster and Robert Ryan head up the shadowy black ops team that masterminds the operation, but even though Lancaster’s presence is strong, this is no Seven Days in May. There is no suspense in this so-called thriller, which intercuts archival black-and-white footage with newly shot color scenes. If the filmmakers really wanted to make their point they would have more skillfully blended the footage by shooting everything in B&W and creating some kind of subplot in which someone discovers the conspiracy bit by bit (as was done in the excellent Gene Hackman conspiracy thriller The Package) and not laying it out for us in by-the-numbers didactic speeches from Lancaster (“What does that mean?” says one character. “We have to take action. Executive action.”) The X-Files this isn’t.
THE PACKAGE (1989) Excellent conspiracy theory thriller, with Gene Hackman top-notch (as usual) as a career military man who stumbles on wide-ranging plan to kill the Russian premier at a peace conference. There are clever parallels to the JFK assassination, showing how easy it would have been for plotters to set up a patsy for the killing of the president. The story hits all the paranoid buttons except the final one: Hackman’s character survives the ordeal. It’s satisfying, though unbelievable; such a powerful conspiracy would probably have taken him down, in Parralex View fashion. Otherwise, a terrific thriller. With a nice supporting turn by Dennis Franz as (what else?) a cop.
BABES ON BROADWAY (1941) Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland star in this rousing fantasy about kids who put on their own show, and, against all odds, are a big success. Directed by Busby Berkeley, with Vincente Minnelli directing Garland's big solo numbers, the film, which features Fay Bainter and Virginia Weidler, followed Babes in Arms (1939) and Strike Up the Band (1940).
December 27, 2012