Posts Tagged ‘Ed Nelson’

Today’s movie(s) review is for each / both the “Midway” movies – the first from 1976 and the second from last year (2019).  Both movies are “epic” war movies with ensemble casts.  Both try to give a “feel” for each combatant (Japanese and American).  And, both are – at best – mediocre in terms of popular and professional reviews.  Anyway, here goes…
Midway (1976) — movie review
This film is almost entirely a male cast.  The only significant female role is Christina Kokubo playing the fiance of a (fictional) naval pilot.  The movie hosts a number of (for that time) big name movie stars on both sides of the battle lines, including: American side: Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, James Coburn, Glenn Ford, Ed Nelson, Hal Holbrook, Robert Mitchum, Cliff Robertson, and Robert Wagner; and, Japanese side: Toshiro Mifune, James Shigeta, Pat Morita, John Fujioka, and Robert Ito.  With the possible exception of Pat Morita, who played Mr. Miyagi in the “Karate Kid” movie series, most of these actors will (probably) be unknown to anyone under 30 years of age as most have been dead or retired for over 20 years.
This movie has two basic story lines.  The main one, of course, is the naval battle.  The second, which I guess is meant to create character sympathy, is a fictional story about a father and son who are naval pilots and their “family issues”.  Other than the overly-strict father (Heston) trope common to military movie / stories, there is also the introduction of an inter-racial love story between a Japanese-American young lady (Kokubo) who is about to be incarcerated (internment for the war) with her family, who is also not allowed to marry the son / naval pilot (played by Edward Albert).
The movie incorporates a lot of stock footage from World War II, most of which is not from the actual battle.  Anyway, the “Battle of Midway” is widely considered the turning point of the naval battles in the Pacific theater.  It marked a decisive victory for the Allied forces from which the Japanese forces never recovered.
As a small point here…  In my humble opinion, the Battle of the Coral Sea (which is mentioned in both movies) was actually the turning point, but it was not a “decisive” U.S. victory, so history almost unanimously ranks Midway as the more significant battle.
So, is this movie any good?  Is it entertaining (even if not entirely accurate)?  Why is it considered “blah” by viewers and reviewers?  I have distinct memories of first seeing this movie at a theater, so I viewed it while I was in the Army (1974-1978).  I mention this to answer the third question first.  In the 1970’s, the U.S. was just getting out of Vietnam and there was a significant amount of backlash against our participation there and a corresponding backlash against the glorification of past wars.  Both of these trends would culminate in the “Rambo” genre movies which began emerging in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
So, is this movie any good?  Yes.  Is it accurate?  Well, it had the correct combatants, the correct time line and the correct result.  Most everything else I put down to artistic license and limited special effects.  Entertaining?  Yes, but I like action movies and war epics, so I’m a biased audience.
Final recommendation: moderate to good.  Come for the “old Hollywood” and stay for the so-so history lesson.  One caution to younger viewers: many of you will come away thinking either these guys can’t act or they are mailing it in.  My vote is the latter, but mostly because I like(ed) most of the geezers in this version when they were in other (mostly younger) roles.
Midway (2019) — movie review
This second review is for last year’s remake.  As mentioned above, another ensemble cast: Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Tadanobu Asano, and Woody Harrelson.  I’m not sure why, but while watching this version my initial reaction was: “they picked a lot younger cast.”
As with the earlier version, this movie chose to run parallel story lines to create character interest (drama).  This movie chose three lines, though, instead of two.  Again, a pilot love story, blah, blah, blah, “those who sit and wait”.  The second is about an Intel Officer who figures out what’s going to happen (Edwin Layton – who was “kind of” the basis for the composite fictional character played by Heston in the earlier version).  And, then of course, the battle / result.  This movie also provides a view of leadership on both sides of the conflict as we lead up to and then throughout the battle.
Is this movie any good?  Yes!  Is it accurate?  Again, so-so.  Like the first, it gets most of the main stuff correct.  Is it entertaining?  Yes!  Much more so than the 1976 version.  To begin with, the special effects are FAR superior.  Gosh, what a surprise…  Seriously, though, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the battle scenes almost appeared to me to be in 3D.  Of course, I’m watching this movie on a 48-inch screen from 2.5 feet away and not at a big screen theater, but still…  I thought most of the photography was excellent and I don’t remember ever thinking: “CGI this.  Or, CGI that.”  It looked like I was watching the action through a window.  So, how was the acting?  Again, FAR superior to the earlier version.  Some of the acting may not have been very good, but I didn’t think it was because they were mailing in the performance.  I would add – in particular – I have never been a fan of Woody Harrelson, but he played a much better Admiral Nimitz in this version than Henry Fonda did in the original.  (Just my opinion…)
Final recommendation: Good to strong.  The camera / photography was very good.  The acting was pretty good.  I find “epic” war movies very difficult to get right (as a viewer / fan of the genre).  The action scenes (independent of the effects) were good.  And, I think they got most of the main history points correct, too.  I don’t usually prefer remakes, but this is the much better of the two versions.
Final thought:  I’ve owned the DVD of the 1976 version for over a decade and watch it every three or four years.  I bought it when I went through a Henry Fonda kick after re-watching “On Golden Pond“.  I will pick up a copy of the 2019 version when the price point drops to my range ($5 – $6).  Heck, I may even pick up a streaming version of the original if it ever makes it’s way to my preferred supplier.  Then I can binge them both like I did this time!
On This Day In:
2019 Speaking Of #45
2018 A Higher Loyalty
RIP – Our Silver Lady
2017 Slowly Cutting Their Own Throats
2016 Man’s Advantage Over God
2015 Deeply
2014 Hi-Yo Silver, Away!
2013 Warning:
2012 Thinking About Beauty
2011 A Founding Father’s Argument Against Public Funding Of Religious Education
Weekend Update
So Far, So Good

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That’s the Way of the World”  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the 1975 movie “That’s the Way of the World” starring Harvey Keitel as record producer Coleman Buckmaster (the man with “the Golden Ear”) and featuring “the Group” aka R&B / soul group Earth, Wind & Fire.  The movie also has some “F” list actors: Cynthia Bostick (the “sexy” female role), Jimmy Boyd (the drug addict “brother” role), Bert Parks (the pervert “father” role) — the three are a “family” singing group calling themselves “The Pages”, and, Ed Nelson (as a mob-influenced record label executive).
I don’t think the movie was intended to be what it turned into:  a vehicle for introducing the music of EW&F to a broader audience.  In real life, the band saw an early cut of the movie and felt it would be a box-office bomb and so rushed to get the soundtrack out before the movie hit the theaters.  They did get the album out early and it did become a much bigger success than the movie.  Basically, the movie is about a good band (with talent) struggling while a bad group (with little talent) gets a push from the mob and the heroic producer has to save the day.
I saw this movie on its original release back in ’75 while I was in the military and I enjoyed both Keitel’s portrayal and the (spoiler alert) twist at the end of the movie.  The movie is very symptomatic of the mid-1970’s with references to drugs and sex with a fair amount (a full scene) of discussion about the latter (child molestation / abuse) and some pretty open use of the former (booze, weed, cocaine and heroin).  I guess as a reflection of my naivety, I have no recollection of any of this and the topics surprised me in this viewing.  My only recollections were EW&F, the acting of Keitel and the twist ending (which I only vaguely remembered).
Final recommendation: moderate recommendation.  The movie is about 100 minutes, so it’s not like you’re giving up a tremendous amount of time to see a snap-shot of the 1970’s with all of the stereotypical tropes / clichés from that era:  roller-rinks, cars (a Pinto sighting), billboards, bell-bottom pants and “Super-fly” shirt collars.  I stumbled upon the movie on Tuby TV as a “free” movie with limited commercial interruptions.  I don’t know if any sex scene was deleted from the movie, but the actors mouth swear words which are simply deleted with noticeable silences.  It has a “PG” rating.
Just a few more comments:
1) Harvey Keitel – this movie marked Keitel for me as a star to look out for before I really started looking out for stars.  I don’t know if this role was Keitel’s first big movie lead, but it’s the first I remember.  (The only other actor I’ve had the same reaction to was Robert Duvall a few years later in “The Great Santini“.)  I haven’t seen very many of Keitel’s roles, but, with one notable exception, his appearance in a movie meant it was going to be worth the price of admittance.  The exception was the DVD / movie “Star Knight” which I picked up on the strength of Keitel’s name on the cover of the DVD.  It is the ONLY movie I have ever thrown away immediately after viewing so I would never again be tempted to waste time re-watching it.  (Full disclosure: I pulled it out of my waste bin and put it on the very back of my film shelf and have never re-watched it.  I did this to serve as a reminder that even good / great actors can take bad parts in bad – really bad – movies.)  And,
2) Watching the movie today, I was reminded that seeing a live act is (normally) nowhere near as good as hearing a great album.  I used to go to concerts periodically when I was younger, but it wasn’t until fairly recently (the last 15 years or so) that I realized the concert was the experience you enjoyed or you didn’t.  It wasn’t the music.  Even when a concert has great music, it is almost never as good as the music on an album.  As a cost-benefit analyst type, I’d much rather spend $15 on an album or CD to listen to it 100 times than $50 on a concert for the one time memory.  But that’s just me…
On This Day In:
2019 Carrying Humanity
2018 Not Necessarily In This Order
Stock Market Sets More Records Under #DumbDonald
2017 An Accumulation Of Acts
2016 Here’s Lookin’ At You Kid
2015 How To Be Omnipotent
2014 The Promise Of Future Love
2013 Christian, n.
2012 Praise
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
2011 A Few More Lyrics From The Past
5 For The Price Of 1

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