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"weirdo_87" (Rancho Cucamonga, CA USA)

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North by Northwest (Widescreen)
North by Northwest (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Cary Grant
Offered by SURPLUSDVD NEW YORK
Price: CDN$ 22.98
16 used & new from CDN$ 1.18

5.0 out of 5 stars Ever had one of those bad days?, Feb. 18 2002
Cary Grant's Roger Thornhill has one of those in Alfred Hitchcock's renowned thriller. In twenty-four hours, he has been kidnapped, mistaken for another man, intoxicated with alcohol and arrested for drunk driving and assaulting an officer. To top it off, he is framed for murder, which leads to a nationwide search. Let's also not forget when he is attacked by a cropdusting plane. Throw in a dangerous villain (James Mason) and his mistress (Eva Marie Saint), superb direction from Hitchcock (Who makes a brief cameo in the film's beginning) and an exciting Bernard Hermann music score, you have yourself quite a ride. The movie has several clichés that were later exhausted in other movies, but that doesn't detract from the fun.
Considering that it is bargain priced, the DVD of "North by Northwest" is a great buy. The film is presented in a Widescreen Anamorphic transfer that's so well done its almost impossible to tell that it is over forty years old. But the extras are really what set this above. "Destination Hitchcock", hosted by Eva Marie Saint, is a documentary about the making of this movie featuring interviews with Hitchcock's daughter Patricia and screen writer Ernest Lehman (Who also does an audio commentary). A theatrical trailer, a "Hitchcock Trailer", a TV spot, a photo gallery, cast and crew bios and an isolated version of Hermann's music score complete this excellent package.
Whether you are a fan of one of the stars or of Hitchcock, admire great films or just like entertaining movies, "North by Northwest" should be added to your personal library.
Favorite quote:
"I have two ex-wives, a mother and several bartenders depending on me."
-Roger Thornhill

The Right Stuff (Widescreen)
The Right Stuff (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Sam Shepard
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 15.45
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars The Right Stuff: Indeed!, Feb. 15 2002
This review is from: The Right Stuff (Widescreen) (DVD)
The Right Stuff is very long, at over three hours. Nevertheless, it earns its length. Viewers can question as to whether the depiction of the astronauts and test pilots is accurate or not. But they will most certainly agree that this a great movie.
I was amazed in this movie by the surprising attention to period details. Sets representing those of the era were built and period vehicles and uniforms were also found. But, with me being a big aviation fan, I was most impressed by the attention given to locating or replicating aircraft. An actual B-29 Bomber was utilized as the mothership of a replica X-1 aircraft. Various scenes feature '50's or 60's vintage fighters.
But the main highlight is in the acting. Almost all the main performances were done by newcomers or character actors. Sam Shepard received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of test pilot Chick Yeager. Yeager is different in many respects from the Mercury Astronauts that went into space (Portrayed by the likes of Dennis Quaid, Scott Glenn and Ed Harris). Yeager is not a team player. He does important things, but only because it's his job. He also takes risks that the Mercury Seven wouldn't. For example, the evening before his X-1 flight, he cracks some ribs, yet still flies. The Mercury Seven do come close to danger (John Glenn's reentry for example), but the closest they came to physical injury was when Alan Shepard urinated in his suit (Though that scene is also very hilarious).
There is also another difference between the test pilots and the mercury astronauts. When Yeager broke the sound barrier, the matter was kept secret. When the Mercury Seven began flying into space, the event was nationally televised and recorded. The astronauts use the media to their advantage. They know that they can get the politicians to agree with them or can get support from the public with the quote "No Bucks, no Buck Rogers".
The film also stirs up controversy about a well-known mishap in the space program. After landing back to earth, the hatch on Gus Grissom's capsule blew off in the water, causing the craft to sink before it could be hoisted by helicopter. In the film, it is seen that Grissom panicked and activated the release lever. Grissom himself denied this happened, but many people disagree with him. The film's depiction will certainly add to the debate.
The DVD presents the film well, by my judgment, except for having to turn the disc over to watch part two. It's the extras where this disc disappoints, there being a trailer and some production notes (With a few film images). A movie this good demands a Special Edition.

Twelve Oclock High
Twelve Oclock High
VHS
3 used & new from CDN$ 10.00

5.0 out of 5 stars "We've got to fight. And some of us have got to die.", Feb. 11 2002
This review is from: Twelve Oclock High (VHS Tape)
When most people think of a war movie, they think of hordes of soldiers charging an enemy position as machine guns mow them down while shells create spectacular explosions in the background. Twelve O'Clock High is different; Except for a combat mission near the film's end, there is hardly any combat action. Yet it is often regarded as one of the best war movies. (Some plot spoilers).
Gregory Peck is outstanding in one of his greatest performances. Portraying Air Force General Savage, Peck takes command of the 918th Bomb Group during the early years of World War II, when daylight bombing over Europe was still in question. The previous commander, Col. Keith Davenport was relieved of command for getting too involved with his men and reaching a breaking point. After their most recent mission was a failure, moral is low in the unit. When Savage takes over, he also discovers that discipline isn't strict enough in the unit. Guards, for example, don't check on people entering the base and on-duty officers leave their posts to get drunk.
Savage, at first, enforces discipline on the 918th members, particularly the lazy air executive officer, to the point where the pilots put in requests for transfer. The transfers are delayed, allowing Savage time to change his men's minds. As the 918th successfully completes one mission after another, Gen. Savage soon comes to know and respect his men and feel for him like his own children. The pilots withdraw their transfers and Savage begins to push himself further on the missions to find out what a 'Maximum Effort' is. However, the stress of command and the loss of some pilots soon starts effecting Savage and he breaks down as well.
This movie is excellent in how it studies about the psychological effect of war on men. As seen in this film, the bomber crews could take a lot of flying, but only so much. There is one scene I particularly like in the movie. After a mission in the film's beginning, one of the flyers tells an interrogation officer about the bloody flight, where one man was decapitated. The description is detailed, yet none of the actual damage is shown. It goes to show that words can be just as powerful as images.

Touch of Evil
Touch of Evil
VHS
6 used & new from CDN$ 16.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Touch of Brilliance, Feb. 11 2002
This review is from: Touch of Evil (VHS Tape)
Orson Welles. At 25, he made "Citizen Kane", quite possibly the world's greatest movie. However, he would loose creative control of his next film "The Magnificent Ambersons". Throughout the rest of his life, he struggled to gain creative control over his film projects, rarely getting it. But when he did, the results were incredible. Touch of Evil is one such example (Some spoilers).
Welles wrote, directed and acted in the movie as Hank Quinlan, a respected but corrupt detective in a border town between Mexico and the U.S. Charlton Heston is Mike Vargas, a Mexican police officer on a honeymoon with his wife (Janet Leigh). Heston suspects wrongdoing on Quinlan's part and investigates into Quinlan's past. But Vargas and his wife get mixed up with Quinlan and the brother of a man whom Vargas arrested.
Through most of the film's middle, Leigh stays at a motel out in the middle of nowhere. Alfred Hitchcock must have like this movie, because fans of "Psycho" will notice similarities between that movie's Norman Bates and this movie's night watchman (Played by Dennis Weaver). Leigh also gets into trouble in this movie, this time with a biker gang, led by an uncredited Mercedes McCambridge.
"All border towns bring out the worst in a country" states Charlton Heston. Whether that is true or not, it is in this movie. The unnamed town is a place of crime, drugs and sleaze. Bars are populated with strippers, criminals and about every other scum you could think of. The film's sets have an eerie dark feeling throughout. There is even a peeping tom who looks at Janet Leigh (But who could blame him?).
Touch of Evil employs many of the same filmmaking techniques used in "Citizen Kane". Welles experiments in lighting, camera movement, shadows, sound, editing and particularly music. The film has been renowned for its scenes that goes on for minutes without switching to a different edit. One particular example being the much known opening shot, which goes on for three minutes unbroken, as Heston and Leigh walk down the streets of the border town.
Considering that it was brilliantly made, was originally a "B-Movie" and had some dirty content, the Academy Awards, for the sake of prestige but probably also for their dislike of Welles, had to ignore this movie in every category in 1958. Over time however, the movie was examined under new light and has since been hailed as a masterpiece. Still, when the American Film Institute drew up its "100 Greatest Movies" list in 1998, Touch of Evil was ignored again (Could some of the same voters had been involved?). But some of the sins committed against Orson Welles's last masterpiece were repaid when this "Director's Cut" was released. This version includes footage restored or reedited to Welles's original specifications, including no opening credits. This restored version was also awarded by the New York Film Critics in 1998 and added to the National Film Registry in 1993.

Alternate Oscars
Alternate Oscars
by Danny Peary
Edition: Paperback
22 used & new from CDN$ 3.80

5.0 out of 5 stars A revised opinion on Alternate Oscars, Feb. 10 2002
This review is from: Alternate Oscars (Paperback)
When I wrote my previous review for this book, I was writing from memory. I also was influenced by some opinions from other reviewers. But after reviewing the book, I have to say that it isn't that bad. It depends upon who is reading.
When they were originally founded in the late 1920's, the goal of the Academy Awards was to honor films and actors/actresses on the grounds of merit. This was difficult enough to achieve with a group of about a dozen voters, considering especially that they had power and influence. But overtime the academy grew to hundreds and even thousands of members. With such a large group of different people and personalities, it's safe to say that many have been influenced in their decisions by other reasons beside merit: Sentimentality, politics, consolation for a previous defeat and, most importantly, an obsession with prestige. In addition, silent movies were ignored during the transition to sound movies and certain film genres (Comedies and Westerns predominately), as well as independent and foreign films have been largely ignored over the years. If these factors did not exist in the minds of the academy voters, the results would be far different.
Author Danny Peary has realized this. As a result, he has gone back through Oscar history and rewritten the results, awarding Alternate Oscars to different winners, occasionally giving them to the actual academy choices. While some choices are the predictable ones ("Citizen Kane" or "Casablanca"), Peary mostly tries to surprise us as much as possible in his selections, providing reasons for his choices and analyses of the films. In addition, so has to honor the contributions of others, "Award Worthy Runners Up" are included for every year (Although there are sometimes none).
Another area the book works at is in the disagreement with the decisions. For example, I like the much-acclaimed union drama "On the Waterfront". But Mr. Peary took away it's 1954 Best Picture Oscar and awarded it to "Salt of the Earth", another film about labor workers. While I may disagree, I have not seen "Salt of the Earth" and am now intrigued at watching it. If I hadn't read this book, that might not have happened.
There are a few complaints with the book, though minor. A few of your favorite stars (Burt Lancaster for example) might not have received Alternate Oscars. But the author apologizes for this at the book's introduction. Also, no Best Picture selection is made for 1963 (The author citing a lack of great films). Finally, the selections only go up to 1991. Hopefully, a second edition is in the works. It would be fascinating to see what Peary would have to say. Or who knows? Maybe another critic could share their two cents on the Academy. How about several critics on the same book? But one thing is for certain: for as long as the Academy continues to blunder, there will always be a place for critics like Danny Peary. Thank you very much.
(I would also like to make a correction on my previous review. Mr. Peary's selection as 1976's Best Picture was Woody Allen's "The Front", not "The Accused".)

Laura [Import]
Laura [Import]
6 used & new from CDN$ 15.00

5.0 out of 5 stars "I'm not kind, I'm vicious. It's the secret of my charm.", Feb. 9 2002
This review is from: Laura [Import] (VHS Tape)
With a well-rounded cast, Oscar winning cinematography and a beautiful but haunting music score, Laura is one of the best film noirs ever made, a definite classic (Possible plot spoilers ahead).
Laura Hunt (A beautiful Gene Tierney) is a manager at an advertisement agency. Famous, talented and of course attractive, she is adored and respected by everyone. But when she is murdered, everyone who was close to her is suspected. Detective Lieutenant Mark McPherson (A dull but effective Dana Andrews) is put on the case. Throughout the film, we are given the impression that McPherson doesn't think too well of women, referring to them as 'Dames' or 'Dolls'. As he delves further, he finds he falling in love with Laura's portrait. As it turns out, Laura is very much alive. The problem now is for McPherson to find out who was murdered and, more importantly, who was the murderer.
Clifton Webb gave the film's best performance as columnist/ writer Waldo Lydecker (Murder is his favorite subject). He never admits it, but seems to be in love with Laura. He has given her many gifts and gave her the boost to become the success that she was. He also believes that only he is right for her, though considerably beyond her age. But maybe Laura just was using and manipulating him to rise to the top. Waldo never seems to believe this and prevents Laura from having other relationships with men. He also is a smart alec, claiming that he writes not with a pen, but "...with a Goose Quill, dipped in venom". He is definitely the most colorful character in the movie and got an Oscar nomination for his work.
What ever you do, don't give away the ending. It is revealed who the murderer was. It is both the most likely and the least likely suspect. But it doesn't matter who it is, really. For this is still a must see movie. It's also, for the MTV generation people, rather short (88 Minutes).
Since this movie is not yet out on DVD, fans will have to go with the VHS edition, which includes the Original Theatrical Trailer.

Psycho (Widescreen)
Psycho (Widescreen)
DVD ~ DVD
Price: CDN$ 22.99
18 used & new from CDN$ 7.97

5.0 out of 5 stars "We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you?", Feb. 3 2002
This review is from: Psycho (Widescreen) (DVD)
Out of all of Alfred Hitchcock's movies, "Psycho" is probably his most well known, largely due to a little scene that takes place in a bathroom. But this movie is far more than that. It is a deep psychological thriller, with Anthony Perkins giving a signature performance as the disturbed Norman Bates.
Marion Crane (Janet Leigh in another signature performance) is a thief who is on the run after stealing some money. On her way, she stops over at the Bates Motel, little knowing what is in store for her. But Norman Bates doesn't kill Marion because of himself but because of his mother, who is jealous at her. But who really is Norman's mother? Who really is Norman?
Recently the American Film Institute, in another controversial list, named "Psycho" as "America's Most Thrilling Movie". It is no surprise, considering its many famous and surprising scenes, including the ending. This film has been the inspiration of many horror movies like "Halloween", "Friday the 13th" and "Scream". It has been parodied and spoofed countless times and has even been followed up by sequels and a remake (None of which were particularly good). But even after all this plus 4 decades of age, the movie has lost none of its original power.

The Maltese Falcon
The Maltese Falcon
DVD ~ J.K.Rowling
Offered by SURPLUSDVD NEW YORK
Price: CDN$ 8.44
19 used & new from CDN$ 3.77

5.0 out of 5 stars When you're slapped, you'll take it and like it., Feb. 3 2002
This review is from: The Maltese Falcon (DVD)
1941. A good year in cinema history in terms of memorable movies and performances, But when it came to film debuts, this was arguably the best year in movies. The first and probably most well known was Actor/Director Orson Welles (Which, I hope, no explanation is necessary). The other was Director John Huston for "The Maltese Falcon". While not as effecting or groundbreaking as "Citizen Kane", it's still nevertheless a tremendous first effort. A tight, well crafted, gripping mystery, this film is deserving of being considered one of the best movies ever made.
Star Humphrey Bogart also had a very good year in 1941. After a decade of playing parts in gangster films like "The Petrified Forest" and "The Roaring Twenties", Bogart finally hit it big with his performances as ex-convict 'Mad Dog' Earl in "High Sierra" and as Private Detective Samuel Spade in this movie. Bogart is excellent in his role, tough and brutal. He established with this role (And his Philip Marlowe in "The Big Sleep" what the detectives of later film noirs would be like. Considering this one of his trademark performances, it's surprising he didn't get nominated for this or "High Sierra".
In addition to Bogart's superb lead role, he is assisted by a colorful supporting cast. Mary Astor as a client who gets Sam involved with the falcon, Peter Lorre as Cairo, who is looking for the Falcon, Sydney Greenstreet (In his first talkie film) as "Fatman", who is also looking for the Maltese Falcon, and Elisha Cook, Jr. as Wilma, a thug of Fatman's.
As everyone knows who's seen the movie, the film's most famous quote comes at the end
when Spade, carrying the falcon in his hands, calls it "The stuff that dreams are made of". But with all the virtues of this production, could he have been referring to the movie? The debate goes on...
Some other great quotes from the movie:
Sam Spade: We didn't believe your story, Mrs. O'Shaughnessy, we believed your 200 dollars.
Wilmer Cook: Keep on riding me and they're gonna be picking iron out of your liver.
Kasper Gutman: I couldn't be fonder of you if you were my own son. But, well, if you lose a son, its possible to get another.
Sam Spade: When a man's partner is killed, he's supposed to do something about it.
Joel Cairo: You always have a very smooth explanation...
Sam Spade: What do you want me to do, learn to stutter?
Joel Cairo: You... you bungled it!

Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark
VHS
Offered by DAVIDS
Price: CDN$ 49.99
18 used & new from CDN$ 1.42

5.0 out of 5 stars What can I say? This movie's terrific!, Feb. 1 2002
"Raiders of the Lost Ark" is among my picks for the best action movie ever made. Unlike some action movies which just make up explosions, this movies uses much more than that. It's the creativity and originality involved that rise this movie above the rest. Another thing that separates this film from some other action films is that it's cheerful and darn fun to watch, not moody and depressing. There is something for everyone: great dialogue ("I hate snakes!"), great film moments (Marksman versus Swordsman) and certainly great music (Even someone who's deaf knows the theme music by heart). With all this, we forget the clichés and wooden characters, caught up rather in the excitement of what's going on screen. Sadly, Paramount seems to not think so because there is yet for a DVD to be released. Do they not think people will buy it?

Cape Fear (Widescreen)
Cape Fear (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Gregory Peck
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 14.69
30 used & new from CDN$ 8.48

5.0 out of 5 stars Meet Fear Itself, Jan. 31 2002
This review is from: Cape Fear (Widescreen) (DVD)
Robert Mitchum plays Max Cady, an ex-convict who goes after lawyer Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck) who had testified against him and put him in prison. Seems like your typical stalker film. The only difference is that Cady had planned this out real well.
Mitchum gives a creepy, degenerate performance ("I've got something planned for your wife and kid they ain't ever going to forget!") that somehow didn't get an Oscar nomination. I also note the lack of explicit content; there are some people beaten and assaulted in the film, yet little of the incidents are shown. Certainly, it would be different if made today (Come to think of it, it was some years back). I also congratulate Universal for their nice DVD edition.

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