Archive for Martin Landau

Tucker: The Man and His Dream

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Detroit engineer Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges) has been interested in building cars since childhood. During World War II he designed an armored car for the military and made money building gun turrets for airplanes in a small shop next to his home in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Tucker is supported by his large, extended family, including wife Vera (Joan Allen) and eldest son Preston Jr (Christian Slater).

As the war winds down, Tucker has a dream of finally building the “car of the future.” The “Tucker Torpedo” will feature revolutionary safety designs including disc brakes, seat belts, a pop out windshield, and head lights which swivel when you turn. Tucker hires young designer Alex Tremulis (Elias Koteas) to help with the design and enlists New York financier Abe Karatz (Martin Landau), to arrange financial support. Raising the money through a stock issue, Tucker and Karatz acquire the enormous Dodge Chicago Plant to begin manufacturing.

Launching “the car of tomorrow” in a spectacular way, the Tucker Corporation is met with enthusiasm from shareholders and the general public. However, the Tucker company board of directors, unsure of his ability to overcome the technical and financial obstacles ahead, send Tucker off on a publicity campaign, and attempt to take complete control of the company. At the same time, Tucker faces animosity from the Big Three and the authorities led by Michigan Senator Homer S. Ferguson (Lloyd Bridges).

While the manufacturing of the Tucker Torpedo continues, Tucker is confronted with allegations of stock fraud. Ferguson’s investigation with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), causes Karatz, once convicted of bank fraud, to resign, fearful that his criminal record will prejudice the hearings. Yellow journalism starts ruining Tucker’s public image even though the ultimate courtroom battle is resolved when he parades his entire production run of 51 Tucker Torpedoes, proving that he has reached production status.

After giving a speech to the jurors on how capitalism in the United States is harmed by efforts of large corporations against small entrepreneurs like himself, Tucker is acquitted on all charges. Nevertheless, his company falls into bankruptcy and Preston Tucker succumbs to a heart attack seven years later, never able to realize his dream of producing a state-of-the-art automobile.

REVIEW :

I think I’m one of a handful of people who actually remember Tucker: The Man and His Dream. When this film was released it did ok business, but was still considered a flop. As such, it never had the chance to gain a cult audience, so now it just exists without any real rabid fanbases supporting it.

What is this about?

Unimpressed with the cars being built following World War II, Preston Tucker dreams of building a more stylish car. But even with the help of his business-savvy wife and mechanic son, Tucker faces roadblocks — mainly from the auto industry itself.

What did I like?

Faithful. With biopics, it is very hard to stick with the original story, because you want to change bits and pieces in a way to make it more interesting for audiences. The director made a valiant effort to not change anything with picture and the few changes that were made were minor, the biggest being that instead of 4 yrs, it takes place over the course of 1 year. There are other small changes made, but none that made a big difference, as far as I’m concerned.

Cast. Very rarely does one come across a film that has such a perfect cast. Highlighted by the star Jeff Bridges, who manages to capture the 40s essence needs to pull this off. In certain scenes, it almost seems as if he’s trying to imitate Kevin Costner’s mannerisms and such from The Untouchables.

There was a time. Anyone that follows this blog or knows me in person will attest that I’m huge fan of this era. There is just something about the way things were done back then. Couple that with some great jazz playing on the radio, and a look at a couple of full service gas stations. Really makes one nostalgic, even I was taken aback by it all.

What didn’t I like?

Price isn’t right. Martin Landau gives a nice performance as financier Abe Kravitz, but his look threw me off. With the moustache they put on him. he resembled Vincent Price. It is possible, yet unlikely, that they wanted Price for this role. Perhaps the real Kravitz resembles Price is the reasoning for that. I really can’t tell you, but I kept expecting him to go to some kind of lab and create monsters and give and evil laugh.

Hughes. Now, fans of Quantum Leap will recognize Dean Stockwell, who plays Howard Hughes. The way that sequence played out was quite odd. Hughes was a bit of an enigmatic figure, to be sure, but they ratchet the mysterious part of his persona to 10. I can live with that, but the creepy music they play behind him almost make the audience think something bad is about to happen.

Politics. Some things never change. Politicians stick their grubby little hands in and basically put Tucker out of business. That is a damn shame! When did politicians go from serving the people to serving the dollar? These days you can throw in throwing a tantrum when they don’t get their way, but I won’t go into all that. The powers that be see Tucker as a threat because his ideas actually work and will make things better (and cheaper). One must wonder how many others have suffered the same fate, if not worse.

Tucker: The Man and His Dream is one of those films that not many people know about. Truthfully, the same can be said about the man, Preston Tucker, but it is a great thing that someone wet through the trouble to inform the public about someone who was so influential to the automobile industry. Here’s something else, the Tucker Tornado still has a futuristic look some 70 yrs later. There was an article on Yahoo.com a week or so ago about a real life version of the car Homer designed in an early episode of The Simpsons. I just realized that the debut scenes are very similar. At any rate, I highly recommend this film. It is a very entertaining biopic about a figure that many of us don’t know about. Check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

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North by Northwest

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , on September 11, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Advertising executive Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) is mistaken for “George Kaplan” and kidnapped by Valerian (Adam Williams) and Licht (Robert Ellenstein). The two take him to the Long Island estate of Lester Townsend. There he is interrogated by a man he assumes to be Townsend, but who is actually spy Phillip Vandamm (James Mason). Vandamm orders his right-hand man Leonard (Martin Landau) to get rid of Thornhill.

Thornhill is forced to drink bourbon, but manages to escape a staged driving accident. He is unable to get the authorities or even his mother (Jessie Royce Landis) to believe what happened, especially when a woman at Townsend’s residence says he got drunk at her dinner party; she also remarks that Townsend is a United Nations diplomat.

Thornhill and his mother go to Kaplan’s hotel room. While there, Thornhill answers the phone; it is one of Vandamm’s henchmen. Narrowly avoiding recapture, he goes to the U.N. General Assembly building to see Townsend, but finds that the diplomat is a stranger. Valerian throws a knife which hits Townsend in the back. He falls dead into Thornhill’s arms. Without thinking, Thornhill removes the knife, making it appear that he is the killer. He is forced to flee.

Knowing that Kaplan has a reservation at a Chicago hotel the next day, Thornhill sneaks onto the 20th Century Limited. He meets Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint), who hides Thornhill from policemen searching the train. Unknown to Thornhill, Eve is working with Vandamm and Leonard, who are in another compartment. In Chicago, Eve tells Thornhill she has arranged a meeting with Kaplan.

Thornhill travels by bus to an isolated crossroads with flat countryside all around. Another man (Malcolm Atterbury) is dropped off at the bus stop, but he eventually leaves on another bus. Then a crop duster goes into a dive toward Thornhill, narrowly missing him. He hides in a cornfield, but the airplane dusts it with pesticide, forcing him out. Desperate, he steps in front of a speeding tank truck, which stops barely in time. The airplane crashes into the tanker.

Learning that Kaplan had already checked out before Eve claimed to have met him, Thornhill goes to Eve’s room. While he is cleaning up, she leaves. From the impression of a message written on a notepad, he learns her destination: an art auction. There, he finds Vandamm, Leonard, and Eve. Vandamm purchases a Tarascan statue and departs. Thornhill tries to follow, only to find the exits covered by Valerian and Leonard. Trapped, he places nonsensical bids so that the police will be called to escort him away.

Thornhill identifies himself as the fugitive wanted for Townsend’s murder, but the officers are ordered to take him to the Professor (Leo G. Carroll), a spymaster. The Professor reveals that Kaplan does not exist. He was invented to distract Vandamm from the real government agent: Eve. As he has inadvertently put Eve’s life in danger, Thornhill agrees to help maintain her cover.

At Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, Thornhill (now pretending to be Kaplan) meets Eve and Vandamm in a crowded cafeteria. He offers to let Vandamm leave the country in exchange for Eve, but is turned down. Thornhill grabs her arm, Eve shoots him and flees. He is taken away, apparently dead. Thornhill is actually unharmed, having been shot with blanks. He learns, to his dismay, that Eve, having made herself a fugitive, will accompany Vandamm out of the country that night. The Professor has Thornhill locked up to keep from interfering further.

Thornhill escapes and sneaks inside Vandamm’s mountainside residence. He overhears that the statue contains microfilm. While Eve is away Leonard fires her gun at Vandamm, demonstrating the shooting was faked. Vandamm decides to throw Eve out of the airplane once they are airborne. Thornhill manages to warn her.

On the way to the airplane Eve grabs the statue, and she and Thornhill flee across the face of the Mount Rushmore monument. Valerian lunges at them but falls to his death. Eve slips and clings desperately to the steep mountainside. Thornhill grabs her hand while precariously holding on with his other hand. Leonard appears and grinds his shoe on Thornhill’s hand. A police marksman shoots Leonard. Vandamm is taken into custody.

The scene transitions from Thornhill pulling Eve to safety on Mount Rushmore to him pulling her, now his wife, onto an upper bunk on a train. The final shot shows their train speeding into a tunnel.

REVIEW:

Earlier this year, I had the chance to watch Hitchcock and ever since then I’ve been inspired to watch some of his films. Unfortunately for me, nearly all of them are on very long wait. Finally, North by Northwest, notable for being the first motion picture to use kinetic typography in the opening credits, came available. Does this film stand up to the other greats by Hitchcock?

What is this about?

What if everyone around you was suddenly convinced that you were a spy? This classic from master director Alfred Hitchcock stars Cary Grant as an advertising executive who looks a little too much like someone else and is forced to go on the lam (helped along by Eva Marie Saint). Hitchcock’s sure-handed comic drama pits Grant against a crop duster and lands him in a fight for his life on Mount Rushmore — a true cliffhanger if ever there was one.

What did I like?

Performance. Often times, especially today, we’ll see a film were the actors appear to be phoning it in. Something that I’ve noticed with Hitchcock films is that he is able to pull out great performances, no matter what. Granted with the likes of Cary Grant and James Mason, you don’t have to do much, except sit back and be wowed by their talent and on-screen presence.

Plot. At first, I had a bit of trouble keeping up with what was going on, but that confusion turned out to be part of the plot twist. I can really appreciate a flick that deceives the audience, as this one does, but doesn’t lose them or try to be too smart for its own good. Thriller directors of today need to take notes!

Chase. I guess chase films have become my cup of tea….or at least that actual chase has. Once Hitchcock decides to take this story out of the doldrums it starts with and flips on the chase it is a gradual crescendo culminating in a fairly exciting climax that leaves the audience so satisfied they need a moment to soak it all in. With all the twists and turns along the way that Grant has to do in order to evade his pursuers, including the oh so famous crop duster scene, it is truly a wonder he made it through this film at all!

Charm x10. In my day, I’ve seen some villains that could charm their way into Mother Teresa’s panties, but they have nothing on James Mason’s Vandamm character. Maybe it is the voice, but when he appeared, I couldn’t help but hang on every word he said. That is thing about both Grant and Mason, they commanded such attention when they were on screen and had distinctive styles of speech. These days, you either have to have a deep voice like James Earl Jones, Patrick Stewart, Morgan Freeman, or more recently Benedict Cumberbatch, in order to get the amount of respect, or have an authentic accent, usually British.

What didn’t I like?

Saint Eva. I’ve read some reviews of this film (past and present), most praising how great Eva Marie Saint was and how this was her best role. I didn’t really see it. Granted, I’ve never seen any of her other films, but she just seemed like any other generic, attractive woman of the time. There isn’t anything special to report about what she did on screen, so I don’t get the big fuss, other than her lines of risqué dialogue for the time.

Length. I’m no fan of long films, especially when they seem to be dragged on for no specific reason. I was able too get lost in this film and didn’t even realize it was over 2 hours…until it got to the final act. After the climax, Hitchcock seems to not really know how to end the film. Wait, let me take that back. The ending is great, but getting there from the point of climax seemed to have been an issue. There are a few other scenes that seemed to run long that probably could have been cut for time purposes and they seem to be nothing more than talking points.

Regarded as one of Hitchcock’s finest, North by Northwest is up there with me, as well. Aside from being a great classic thriller that is well made from beginning to end. Some have said that this many elements influenced the Bond films. I can see it, but not sure which came first, the original Ian Fleming Bond book, or this. At any rate, this gets a very high recommendation from me, as you should definitely see this at least once before you die, so check it out!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Cleopatra

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film opens in 48 B.C. shortly after the Battle of Pharsalus where Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) has defeated Pompey. Pompey flees to Egypt, hoping to enlist the support of the young Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII (Richard O’Sullivan) and his sister Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor).

Caesar pursues and meets the teenage Ptolemy and the boy’s advisers, who seem to do most of the thinking for him. As a gesture of ‘goodwill’, the Egyptians present Caesar with Pompey’s head, but Caesar is not pleased; it is a sorry end for a worthy foe. As Caesar settles in at the palace, Apollodorus (Cesare Danova), disguised as a rug peddler, brings a gift from Cleopatra. When a suspicious Caesar unrolls the rug, he finds Cleopatra herself concealed within and is intrigued. Days later, she warns Caesar that her brother has surrounded the palace with his soldiers and that he is vastly outnumbered. Caesar is unconcerned. He orders the Egyptian fleet burned so he can gain control of the harbor. The fire spreads to the city, burning many buildings, including the famous Library of Alexandria. Cleopatra angrily confronts Caesar, but he refuses to pull troops away from the fight with Ptolemy’s forces to deal with the fire. In the middle of their spat, Caesar begins kissing her.

The Romans hold, and the armies of Mithridates arrive on Egyptian soil. The following day, Caesar passes judgment. He sentences Ptolemy’s lord chamberlain to death for arranging an assassination attempt on Cleopatra, and rules that Ptolemy and his tutor be sent to join Ptolemy’s now greatly outnumbered troops, a sentence of death as the Egyptian army faces off against Mithridates. Cleopatra is crowned Queen of Egypt. She dreams of ruling the world with Caesar. When their son Caesarion is born, Caesar accepts him publicly, which becomes the talk of Rome and the Senate.

Caesar returns to Rome for his triumph, while Cleopatra remains in Egypt. Two years pass before the two see each other again. After he is made dictator for life, Caesar sends for Cleopatra. She arrives in Rome in a lavish procession and wins the adulation of the Roman people. The Senate grows increasingly discontented amid rumors that Caesar wishes to be made king, which is anathema to the Romans. On the Ides of March in 44 B.C., the Senate is preparing to vote on whether to award Caesar additional powers. Despite warnings from his wife Calpurnia (Gwen Watford) and Cleopatra, he is confident of victory. However, he is stabbed to death by various senators.

Octavian (Roddy McDowall), Caesar’s nephew, is named as his heir, not Caesarion. Realizing she has no future in Rome, Cleopatra returns home to Egypt. Two years later, Caesar’s assassins, among them Cassius (John Hoyt) and Brutus (Kenneth Haigh), are killed at the Battle of Philippi. The following year, Mark Antony (Richard Burton) establishes a second triumvirate with Octavian and Lepidus. They split up the empire: Lepidus receives Africa, Octavian Spain and Gaul, while Antony will take control of the eastern provinces. However, the rivalry between Octavian and Antony is becoming apparent.

While planning a campaign against Parthia in the east, Antony realizes he needs money and supplies, and cannot get enough from anywhere but Egypt. After refusing several times to leave Egypt, Cleopatra gives in and meets him in Tarsus. Antony becomes drunk during a lavish feast. Cleopatra sneaks away, leaving a slave dressed as her, but Antony discovers the trick and confronts the queen. They soon become lovers. Octavian uses their affair in his smear campaign against Antony. When Antony returns to Rome to address the situation brewing there, Octavian traps him into a marriage of state to Octavian’s sister, Octavia (Jean Marsh). Cleopatra flies into a rage when she learns the news.

A year or so later, when Antony next sees Cleopatra, he is forced to humble himself publicly. She demands a third of the empire in return for her aid. Antony acquiesces and divorces Octavia. Octavian clamors for war against Antony and his “Egyptian whore”. The Senate is unmoved by his demands until Octavian reveals that Antony has left a will stating that he is to be buried in Egypt; shocked and insulted, the Senators who had previously stood by Antony abandon their hero and vote for war. Octavian murders the Egyptian ambassador, Cleopatra’s tutor Sosigenes (Hume Cronyn), on the Senate steps.

The war is decided at the naval Battle of Actium on September 2, 31 B.C. where Octavian’s fleet, under the command of Agrippa, defeats the Anthony-Egyptian fleet. Seeing Antony’s ship burning, Cleopatra assumes he is dead and orders the Egyptian forces home. Antony follows, leaving his fleet leaderless and soon defeated. Several months later, Cleopatra manages to convince Antony to retake command of his troops and fight Octavian’s advancing army. However, Antony’s soldiers have lost faith in him and abandon him during the night; Rufio (Martin Landau), the last man loyal to Antony, is killed. Antony tries to goad Octavian into single combat, but is finally forced to flee into the city.

When Antony returns to the palace, Apollodorus, not believing that Antony is worthy of his queen, convinces him that she is dead, whereupon Antony falls on his own sword. Apollodorus then takes Antony to Cleopatra, and he dies in her arms. Octavian captures the city without a battle and Cleopatra is brought before him. He wants to return to Rome in triumph, with her as his prisoner. However, realizing that her son is also dead, she arranges to be bitten by a poisonous asp. She sends her servant Charmian to give Octavian a letter. In the letter she asks to be buried with Antony. Octavian realizes that she is going to kill herself and he and his guards burst into Cleopatra’s chamber and find her dressed in gold and her and her servant Iras dead while an asp crawls along the floor. Octavian is angry that she is dead and leaves. One of Octavian’s guards asks dying Charmian if the queen killed herself well and Charmian answers, “Extremely well” and dies.

REVIEW:

When Elizabeth Taylor passed away awhile back, I wanted to brush up on some of her films. Cleopatra was one that everyone has mentioned as her greatest role, so I was curious to check it out. Why did it take so long to get to it, well, it is four hours long!!! I’m not one of those people who cares for these excessively long movies, so I was in no rush to check it out, but I finally caved.

Somewhere I read that this film has been described as “opulent, decadent excess”. I can’t say that I disagree. So, what did I like?

History lesson. I know a fair bit about Caesar and many things Egyptian, but some somehow I’m not too familiar with Cleopatra, other than she’s like Angelina Jolie (overrated beauty). Like most historical pictures, this flick takes liberties with history, but there are parts that are accurate. These are the scenes that make you wish you could have watched it in history class. Wouldn’t that have been more interesting than listening to your teacher lecture for an hour?

Beauty of a betty. Elizabeth Taylor was a definitive looker back in her day. In the early parts of the film, when she is getting bathed by her slave girls, she even shows off her body…or at least all that could be shown in 1963. Combine all that with her talent and it is no wonder she was cast, despite her, shall we say…lack of pigment?

Epic scale. While this wasn’t filmed in Rome or Egypt, the sets were on a grand scale. If this was done today, most of it would have been computer generated, more than likely. You know how no one wants to work on their craft anymore. Back in the day, such hard work paid off, as can be seen in this film.

Costumes. Similar to the sets, the costumes are just as epic. I think I read that Taylor made around 80 costume changes (don’t quote me on that, though).

Story and performances.  As with 99.9999% of films made in yesteryear, the story is well crafted and executed and the cast gives flawless performances. It shows that people actually cared back then, as opposed to today where filmmakers have all but turned everything over to the computers and think of nothing but money.

What didn’t I like?

Not enough Cleopatra. Seeing as how she is the title character, I was expecting there to have been more of her, and there just wasn’t. I felt that there was too much focus on Caesar, Mark Antony, and to a lesser extent, Octavius. You can make the case about her own story not being that interesting, but I’m sure there was plenty going on down there in Egypt while this film was focusing on Rome.

Not an opera. 4 hours is just too long. The only way I can excuse anything for being that long, is if it was an opera. I know for a fact that I dozed off a couple of times. There are two things they could have done with this. Either split it into two separate films or cut some stuff out. Simple as that.

Whitewash. I’m not one to go on a tangent about race, and I won’t start now. However, last I checked, Egyptians were rather dark-skinned, and yet I don’t believe I saw a single non-white person in the entire films, save for that one African tribe that was dancing fairly early on in the film.

This film is truly a classic. While it may not have been as commercial a success as they would have liked for it have been, it has gone on to make up for that, especially with the legacy of Taylor and the love story that developed between she and leading man Richard Burton. Despite the excessive length, I highly recommend this flick. It is definitely one of those that one must see before they die!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

9

Posted in Animation, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Prior to the events of the film, an unnamed man, referred to as, “The Scientist,” created the B.R.A.I.N. (or the Fabrication Machine) for peaceful purposes and to help evolve mankind’s technology. However, the leader of mankind took control of the machine and used it to wage war on other humans. With the lack of a human soul, the machine was corrupted and turned on mankind, wiping them out using other machines and poisonous gases. The Scientist constructed nine robotic like homunculi referred to as “Stitchpunks”, each one alive via a portion of the Scientist’s soul, and created an amulet which could be used to destroy the Fabrication Machine. The Scientist died shortly after creating the last of the Stitchpunks, 9.

9 awakens at the start of the film, taking the amulet with him. Outside, in the lifeless and devastated world, 9 meets fellow Stitchpunk 2, who gives him a vocal processor to speak. However, they are attacked by a machine called the “Cat-Beast” and 2 is captured. 9 is saved by one-eyed 5 who takes him to Sanctuary, an abandoned cathedral and home to the Stitchpunks, led by 1, and his bodyguard 8. 9 decides to rescue 2 from an old factory, aided by 5. The two locate 2 and the “Cat-Beast” is destroyed by 7, the only female Stitchpunk and a skilled warrior. 9 spots the shutdown Fabrication Machine where the amulet connects to, awakening it. It attacks 2 and sucks out his lifeforce, the soul being the machine’s power source. The Stitchpunks retreat to 3 and 4’s hideout where they reveal the machine’s origins. 9 realises they need to remove the amulet from the machine and returns to Sanctuary where 6 points out they need to return to a disclosed source. Sanctuary is attacked by a bird-like robot, called the “Winged Beast”, which is destroyed, but as is Sanctuary.

A snake-like robot, the “Seamstress”, kidnaps 7 and 8. 9 pursues it and witnesses 8 being killed by the Fabrication Machine, but rescues 7 before destroying the factory where the machine is, seemingly destroying it as well. The surviving Stitchpunks celebrate, but the machine rises and kills 5, and 6 soon after, the latter warning 9 that the souls of the deceased Stitchpunks are within the machine and it should not be destroyed, as well as the source is in the Scientist’s workshop where 9 awoke. 9 goes to the workshop and finds a video recording which explains how the amulet can be used to destroy the machine and free the trapped souls. 9 returns to the others who plan to destroy the machine. During the following battle, 9 prepares to sacrifice himself to defeat the machine, but 1 sacrifices himself to allow 9 to remove the amulet and destroy the machine.

The film ends with 9, 7, 3 and 4 releasing the souls of 1, 2, 5, 6 and 8, who fly up into the sky and cause it to rain, the raindrops containing small organisms, hinting that life in the world is not gone after all.

REVIEW:

I’ve seen some strange and confusing films in my day, but I have got to say that 9 takes the cake. THat is not to say that this is a bad film, by any stretch of the imagination, just a bit on the eccentric side.

The good…the animation is beautiful. Look at the detail in each of the puppets. It is quite impressive. Voice casting isn’t half bad, though I belive I would have switched Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau’s characters. THe fabrication machine is also quite the impressive manifestation, as are the things that “serve” it. The story is ok, but I think it could have been a bit lighter in tone, but I think that has more to do with my anti-dark film stance than an actual critique of the film.

The bad…I’m so tired of these post-apocalyptic films. Can’t anyone out there come up with something original? This could have easily happened on another planet. To make things worse, the time frame they seem to be in is as if the war happened around the 40s or so. I have no issue with that, really, but I do wish they had set down an actual time frame. Also, how is it that 7 is the only female, or how is she female, rather? I mean, these are all part of the scientist’s soul. I’m guessing that is the part of him that’s in touch with his feminine side? No, that can’t be it, because she was far from being all girly girl. I didn’t really have a problem with the character, but rather the fact that it was odd to have this one female and that its part of his soul. Just seemed a bit odd to me.

I wish I could say that I enjoyed this picture, but the fact is that I didn’t. At the same time, I didn’t hate it. There just wasn’t anything to make me sit up and say I love this or that about this film, at least nothing that would make me choose it over a Pixar flick, or even remember it. However, I do think if you can get past the utter confusion of the film and how not for kids this is, you’ll find a decent film.

3 out of 5 stars

Ed Wood

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Edward D. Wood, Jr. is struggling to join the film industry. Upon hearing of an announcement in Varietythat producer George Weiss is trying to purchase Christine Jorgensen’s life story, Ed is inspired to meet Weiss in person. Weiss explains that Variety’s announcement was a news leak, and it is impossible to purchase Jorgensen’s rights. The producer decides to ‘fictionalize’ the film titled I Changed My Sex!, and “do it without the shemale”. One day, Ed meets his longtime idol Béla Lugosi, after spotting him trying out a coffin in an undertakers. Ed drives Béla home and the two become friends. Later, Ed deceides to star Béla in the film and convinces Weiss that he is perfect to direct I Changed My Sex! because he is a transvestite.

Ed and Weiss argue over the film’s title, Weiss has already had the poster printed, which Ed changes to Glen or Glenda. The shoot finishes on Glen or Glenda, and Ed is enthusiastic that he starred, directed, wrote and produced his own film. Glen or Glenda is released to critical and financial failure. Ed is unsuccessful in getting a job at Warner Bros., a producer there tells him Glen or Glenda is the worst film he has ever seen, but Ed’s girlfriend, Dolores Fuller, tells him that he is not “studio material”, and that he should find independent backers for his next film, “Bride of the Atom”. Ed is unsuccessful in finding money for Bride of the Atom, but is introduced to the psychic The Amazing Criswell.

At a bar, Ed meets Loretta King, who he thinks has enough money to fund Bride of the Atom. Filming begins, but is halted. Ed convinces meat packing industry tycoon, Don McCoy, to take over funding the film. McCoy does so, but on the condition that film ends with a giant explosion, and that his son Tony, who “is a little slow”, is the leading man. The filming of Bride of the Atom finishes, but Dolores and Ed break up after the wrap party, because of Ed’s transvestism. Also, Béla, who is revealed to be highly depressed and a morphine addict, attempts to conduct a double suicide with Ed, but is talked out of it. Béla is put in rehab, and Ed eventually finds happiness when he meets Kathy O’Hara, who is visiting her father. Ed takes her on a date on tells her and tells her that he a transvestite so he won’t have to keep it a secret from her.

Ed begins to shoot a film with Béla outide his home. Ed and company attend the premiere for Bride of the Monster, an angry mob chases them out of the theatre. Sometime later, Béla dies leaving Ed without a star. Ed convinces Reynolds that funding Ed’s script for “Grave Robbers from Outer Space” would result in a box office success, and generate enough money to make all of the Twelve Apostles films. Dr. Tom Mason, Kathy’s chiropractor, is chosen to be Béla’s stand-in. However, Ed and the Baptists begin having conflicts over the title and content of the script which they want to have changed to Plan 9 from Outer Space along with Ed’s B movie directing style, his casting decisions and his transvestism. This causes a distressed Ed to leave the set and immediately take a taxi to the nearest bar, where he encounters his idol Orson Welles. Welles tells Ed that “visions are worth fighting for”, and filming for Plan 9 finishes with Ed taking action against his producers. The film ends with the premiere of Plan 9, and Ed and Kathy taking off to Las Vegas, Nevada to get married.

REVIEW:

A while back I had the pleasure of watching  Plan 9 from Outer Space. After I finished, I decided to check this one out. I’m not so sure that was the wisest decision on my part.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad picture, but if you take out Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, and Bill Murray it becomes a total snooze-fest.

This was still pretty early in Depp’s career, but he masters the role and commands the screen with the presence of a seasoned pro. His take on Ed Wood is very flamboyant, which I hear is not too far from the man himself, and seeing him in drag was hilarious. Depp seems to be Tim Burton’s go to guy, especially when i comes to characters named Ed (as in Edward Scissorhands).

Martin Landau brings Bela Lugosi back to life. Whether he was a fan or not is unknown to me, bu one thing is for sure, he did his homework on Lugosi’s mannerisms. To make things even better, Landau makes Lugosi feel like the grandfather the audience can fall in love with. This make his death just past the halfway mark that much more impactful.

Bill Murray steals the few scenes he is in as Bunny Breckenridge, the drag queenobviously gay friend. He really sells the, for lack of a better term, gayness. One of his best performances, acting wise, in my opinion.

The rest of the cast is nothing spectacular, as I said before. Quite frankly, they seem uncomfortable in their roles, with the exception of George “The Animal” Steele as Tor Johnston and Vincent D’Onofrio as Orson Welles. Steel and Johnson were both wrestlers, so it wasn’t a big leap for him to get into that role. D’Onofrio just happens to slightly resemble Wells, and that is how he got the part, which was voiced by Maurice LaMarche.

The black and white filming of this film really puts the audience in the mindset that they’re looking at something from the past. Tim Burton has yet to make a film I don’t like. The man has a real talent for filmmaking, but I have to say he falls short with this one. I found myself wishing it would hurry and end. This is something I don’t normally do, unless I really don’t like a film. Unlike Ed Wood’s films which were so bad that they were good, Ed Woodjust seems to try to hard to find an identity and by the time it finally does, the credits are rolling. Tim Burton needs to be kissing Johnny Depp’s feet for keeping this film from being more of a bore than it is.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars