Key Largo (1948)

100 mins

Characters who would not normally mix, trapped in a hotel during a storm.  Storm is a little hokey.  The mixup between “the indians killed Sawyer” no, “the gangsters killed Sawyer” neither all that interesting or strong enough to fulcrum the entire plot.

The plot is the result of random strangers being thrown together, and so is weaker than if it grew organically from characters’ life trajectories.  There is no reason Bogart had to come at this particular time.

Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)

103 min

“I’m completely out of control!” – Dunaway

Right before Carpenter’s big (and better) break.

One of those 70’s time capsules packed with artifacts of the time.  Memorable today mostly for reasons the director did not intend.  You may need to pause the movie every 10 minutes or so to take a shower.  But 70’s sleaze don’t wash off easy, baby.

Just to ask the big obvious question: What exactly is the origin of Dunaway’s clairvoyant powers?  And this being the 70’s, why haven’t they already been harnessed by NASA or some other government agency to cover up / facilitate some big conspiracy?

The Good…

  • New York City locations

The Bad…

  • Numerous sound problems – characters in same space sound different. There is an echo.
  • Intro music worse than the Carpenters
  • Furs everywhere
  • A gloved killer’s hand leafing magazines in a hazy psychic interlude
  • Tommy drives Laura and Donald down the West Side Highway while looking at the road about half the time
  • Tommy Lee Jones is about the least interesting killer you can imagine
  • The inevitable pseudo Freudian explanation of the childhood incident that “made the killer this way”

The Ugly…

  • Random manhandling of women
  • Gratuitous breast shots that no doubt fired up the Jujyfruits-scarfing masses
  • Dunaway’s Okie teeth
  • 70’s interiors
  • Dunaway’s histrionic shrieks (that break up)

Many aspects feel derivative: the car accident as backdrop is NASHVILLE (1975), the fashion photographer crime story is BLOW-UP (1966), the psychic visions is THE EXORCIST (1973) and THE OMEN (1976).

The Devil’s Brigade (1968)

132 min

Chiefly of interest because of filming locations in Utah.

  • Too much time spent on “getting the band back together” phase (half the movie)
  • First attack in Italy ludicrously easy
  • We don’t see Germans respond to artillery barrage
  • The overall objective the entire movie is moving towards is too undefined and comes too late in the movie
  • Real fighting only comes with 15 minutes left in movie
  • Use of a German POW to help carry wounded would never happen