The Amazing Captain Nemo

The Return of Captain Nemo. Warner Bros. 1978.
The Return of Captain Nemo. Warner Bros. 1978.

Before watching the movie:

I try to stick to movies with a theatrical release, but I’m not sure this had one, as it was written as a three-part television pilot. I do know that it brings Captain Nemo to the modern era, and it stars Jose Ferrer as Nemo and Burgess Meredith as the bad guy, and the contrast between great cast and silly concept caught my curiosity and attention, and I could not leave it on the shelf.

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Aces High

Aces High.  Fisz Productions/Productions Roitfeld 1976.
Aces High. Fisz Productions/Productions Roitfeld 1976.

Before watching the movie:

World War I doesn’t get nearly as much attention as any other major war of the 20th century (that registers in American history education). It’s sometimes treated like a forgotten prequel to everyone’s favorite war with Nazis and atomic detonations. While it’s a mentality I’m not at all immune to, it’s worth remembering as the horrific tragedy of old-fashioned warfare at an industrialized pace. There are few symbols more powerful to me than the Douaumont Ossuary, a memorial built to house the remains of over 130,000 young men killed in a single (massive) battle, and that number is just the ones that couldn’t be identified. Small wonder it was thought at the time that this war would make any future wars unthinkable. As centennial anniversaries of milestones in the war are remembered currently, it might be gaining back some respect.

I went into all of that because this movie is positioned as a drama concerning the toll aerial warfare took on RAF pilots, and so hopefully the above paragraph is relevant, even if it was more concerned with terrestrial battles than planes. The big names by today’s standards are Malcolm McDowell and Christopher Plummer, though Peter Firth (whom I don’t think I’ve heard of) gets top billing on this poster. I know McDowell is a major character, but I’m not sure about Plummer.

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Invasion of the Body Snatchers. United Artists 1979.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers. United Artists 1978.

Before watching the movie:

I don’t normally like to see remakes before the original. When I do see the 1956 version, hopefully this won’t color it too much. However, the reason this is line-jumping is because I wanted to respect the death of Leonard Nimoy and this has turned out to be pretty much the only work he was involved in available to me that I haven’t seen and is a movie.

At any rate, this is billed as a “reimagining”, and appears to do a decent job at making the story relevant to the late 70s, which is always a problem when remaking science fiction decades later. I take it from the recommendation that brought this to my attention that Nimoy’s role is fairly significant, though I don’t know much about his star capital between Star Trek leaving television and entering theaters to judge whether he was a big enough name to get on the poster for minor roles.

I don’t want to make this post all about Nimoy, but it occurs to me that I may never have seen him play an onscreen role besides Spock.

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YesterMovies Rewind: Family Plot

rewind

Family Plot. Universal Pictures 1976.
Family Plot. Universal Pictures 1976.

Five years ago this month, Yesterday’s Movies officially began. To celebrate half a decade of movie reviews, I’m rewatching some of the highlights and giving them second-look reviews. This week, I’m giving the unfairly forgotten Family Plot another try.

In May of 2011, I was preparing to leave for an extended stay in another state, and I’d decided that my last review the night before leaving would be a family copy of Family Plot. However, shortly after I began watching the movie, I received word canceling the lodgings I thought I’d secured for my trip. I spent the next few hours frantically trying to make other arrangements, and while I managed to get a review posted, I probably hadn’t had enough attention to give it. Therefore, I always wanted to find an opportunity to give it another attempt, since it’s probably the film on this blog most deserving of a second look.

That story is pretty much all of what I remember about the movie. It’s some kind of comedy about murder, but I think that much is stated on the box.

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Rocky

Rocky. United Artists 1976.
Rocky. United Artists 1976.

Before watching the movie:

And now another installment of “how could you never have seen…?”

Yes, I’ve never seen any Rocky movie. Or maybe I’ve seen them all, thanks to spoofs, parodies, homages, reference clips, and a handful of “underdog solo athlete” genre movies that I have seen. But that just proves the cultural relevance of the film and why I should be seeing it. The story of Stallone’s million to one shot of getting this made was more interesting to me than a David and Goliath story about a boxer. There’s probably a documentary or biopic about that out there.

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The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother

The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother. 20th Century Fox 1975.
The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother. 20th Century Fox 1975.

Before watching the movie:

This movie is incidentally legendary in my family. I’m told I saw a few minutes of it at an extremely young age until my mother realized she shouldn’t be playing it in the presence of someone so young. So this is the Ur-example of movies I haven’t seen because of good parenting.

The combination of Gene Wilder and the Holmes mythos is an odd one, but both of them individually are reasons to take an interest, so hopefully they merge successfully. I expect the reason Wilder’s character is “Sigerson Holmes” when Mycroft Holmes is a canonical character who is actually smarter than Sherlock is so they have more room to do what they want with him, but I hope Mycroft at least gets a mention.  I think the Doyle estate still had American copyright over Holmes characters, so this might be a legal loophole as well.

I think somewhere around the house there’s still an off-air recording of this movie (which has most of the title on the label, but always seemed less like a title and more like a placeholding description), but even if we had a working Betamax player, I don’t like to review from off-air recordings since scenes get cut for time and content, and commercials break the flow in an unintended way. I saw this float through the library again and decided it was time.

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How to Frame a Figg

How to Frame a Figg. Universal Pictures 1971.
How to Frame a Figg. Universal Pictures 1971.

Before watching the movie:

So here’s another Don Knotts vehicle. This time, corrupt politicians are trying to cover up their embezzlement by hiring the most inept bookkeeper so they can pin it on him. Unfortunately, they hired a Don Knotts character, and we all know Don Knotts characters are the blind pigs that find the motherlode of acorns.

I hope when he does figure it out, he’s more proactive. Knotts roles tend to just be buffeted by the sweep of plot and partnered with someone competent.

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