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Posts Tagged ‘Robert Duvall’

Bullitt” (1968)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the 1968 cop movie “Bullitt“, starring Steve McQueen in the title role as homicide Lieutenant Frank Bullitt.  The film also stars Jacqueline Bisset as Cathy (the girlfriend), Don Gordon as the partner (homicide Detective Delgetti), Robert Vaughn as US Senator Walter Chalmers, Simon Oakland as the gruff voiced boss (Captain Sam Bennett) and (in an early role) Robert Duvall as Weissberg (a cab driver).  There’s also a bunch of bad guys (who cares).
The basic plot is that some guy is running from the mob in Chicago.  He flees to San Francisco.  He is “made” by a doorman at a hotel and the mob sends a couple of professional contract hitmen to kill the runner.  We are introduced to the star and his partner.  Bullitt meets a big money / sleazy politician (Vaugh / Chalmers) and is assigned to protect a witness over the weekend until a Senate hearing on Monday.  The witness is (of course) the runner.
The protection goes south and the witness and the cop protecting him are shot.  The witness (ultimately) fatally.  Bullitt smells a rat and bends the rules to keep the case open.  Blah, blah, blah…  BIG car chase – for which the movie is FAMOUS.  The two killers are dead, but Bullitt feels the case still stinks and continues to work it (this time, with permission).
Blah, blah, blah…  Bullitt chases and kills the runner at the airport.  The END.
OK.  There are really only three reasons to see this film:  1) you are interested in seeing police movies from 50+ years ago.  2) you really are interested in checking out “Mr. Cool” aka Steve McQueen.  And,  3) the CHASE.  Did I mention the “chase” is over ten(10) minutes long and “visually” covers most of San Francisco?  No, in reality the areas filmed are not really contiguous, but what the heck…  IT is a GREAT chase scene!!
Final recommendation: strong recommendation.  This is considered a classic movie JUST because of the lead (McQueen) and the car chase, so normally I’d give it a “highly to must see” recommendation, but it’s really not that good a movie.  To me, the plot doesn’t make a lot of sense (even if it goes out of the way to hit you with plot checkpoints) and it is particularly unsatisfying.  The “real” bad guy in the movie is Senator Chalmers and nothing happens to him.  So, loose threads and no resolution.
Why “strong” then?  I like Steve McQueen as a big star in a number of films from when I was growing up, not the least of which are: “The Magnificent Seven” and “The Great Escape“.  And then, of course, there is “The Chase“.  Just as a bit of personal trivia / nostalgia, shortly after the movie, one of our local TV news stations shut down the block I was living on (a big hill in SF) and recreated the chase with one of their reporter cars jumping the intersections to “follow the news”.  It was cool to see our house on TV for months as this commercial was rebroadcast.  And, finally, if you watch this film, it’s easy to see where “Dirty Harry” (1971) comes from.
So, come for the “cool” and stay for the CHASE!
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On This Day In:
2019 True Piety
2018 I Would, Too (A music-video for all)
2017 100th Day (of the Trump Presidency)
Both Unlucky
2016 Or Blog
2015 Stretched Today?
2014 Outta Here
2013 Getting Words Right
2012 There’s A New Dog In Town
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is
2011 A Conservative Is…

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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…
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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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Over the weekend, I finished reading “To Kill A Mockingbird” and viewing the movie based on the book.
To Kill A Mockingbird” (1960©) —  book review
TKAM was written by Harper Lee.  This was her first (and only) novel until “Go Set A Watchman” was published just before her death.  “GSAW” was / is purported to be the initial draft of TKAM, with substantial revision to focus on a particular period within the draft.  TKAM is the story of a young girl growing up in Alabama during the 1930’s Great Depression.  More specifically, it’s about a three year period where the girl begins to discover her place in her family, her town and society in general.  From just before entering school, to attending a criminal trial, to almost being murdered, the girl’s life interweaves threads of family, friendship, racism, education, poverty, politics, economics and justice.  I have not read GSAW, so I cannot comment on it at this time.
The main character / narrator is Jean Louise Finch (“Scout”), a “tom-boy” who lives with her older brother, Jeremy (“Jem”) Finch, and their widowed father, Atticus Finch.  The brother and sister befriend a boy named Dill, who visits their town each summer to stay with his aunt.  The three kids are scared of, yet fascinated by, their neighbor, the reclusive Arthur (“Boo”) Radley who lives in a relatively dilapidated house on their block.  They make up stories and believe “Boo” is a prisoner of his strict / evil father.  Although, he is not the “main” character, Scout’s father, Atticus, is the ultimate heroic father figure – kind, humble, understanding, a successful lawyer and a crack shot with a rifle.
The book also has two characters who are important in tying the other strands together:  Calpurnia (the Finch’s housekeeper / cook) and Alexandra Finch (Atticus’ sister).  The two females serve as role models for “Scout”, both in terms of “female” skills (cooking, cleaning and discipline) and in social status / behavior (dress, speaking, comportment).
(SPOILER ALERT!! –   stop here if you’ve not read the book or seen the movie.)
The two main threads of the book are the mystery of Boo Radley and the Radley house and the trial of Tom Robinson (a black man on trial for raping and beating a white woman).  Over time, the children make friends with Boo without ever seeing him.  Atticus establishes the innocence of Tom, but due to racism, Tom is convicted of the crime anyway and dies while trying to escape custody.  After a few more convolutions, Boo saves Scout and Jem from the truly guilty party and the Sheriff “saves” Boo from Atticus and the town.  In effect, although an innocent black man died, justice is served when the real “baddie” gets it in the end.
This book has been considered a “classic” since its release.  In my opinion it definitely is!  I found the story well developed and the characters believable.  It is easy to see why the fictional character of Atticus Finch has been mentioned by many as “the reason” they got into the legal profession.  Final recommendation:  highly recommended!!  As an aside, this is the first book in many years where I had to pull out my dictionary to make sure I understood what the author was saying.  I did this six(6) times!!!  How many times to you thoroughly enjoy a work of literature and learn vocabulary from it too?
To Kill A Mockingbird”  (1962)  —  movie review
I must admit I know I have seen this movie before, but I have almost no recollection of it.  Based on that, I must have seen it in my early teens, before I was aware of economics or the Depression or class / social racism.  I’m not saying I was unaware of racism when I was growing up.  Only that I grew up in a multi-cultural environment which did not “promote” it openly.  The movie closely follows the trial theme in the book.  Other themes are glossed over or poorly explained (relative to the book).
Having said the above, this movie is profoundly disturbing.  As an “older” man (now in my 60’s), I still find the overt racism (tribalism?) portrayed in this movie to be frightening real and powerfully moving.  The book has multiple threads in it which the movie simply doesn’t have the time to develop.  This detracts from the overall story, but it increases the force of racism portrayed.  I imagine though, that if you have either not read the book or not read it recently, the fact the trial of Tom Robinson was the main theme of the movie makes its viewing even more disturbing than the rendition in the book.
The movie stars Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch (Oscar for Best Actor), Mary Badham as Jean Louise Finch (“Scout”), Phillip Alford as Jeremy Finch (“Jem”), Frank Overton as Sheriff Heck Tate, Brock Peters as Tom Robinson, Estelle Evans as Calpurnia, Paul Fix as Judge Taylor, and Robert Duvall (in one of his earliest film roles) as Arthur “Boo” Radley.  Badham received an Oscar nomination for her role as Scout.  The movie won three Oscars and was nominated for five more (including Best Picture and Best Director).  The movie is shot in black and white which (to me) increases the dramatic effects of the characters and the town / time period.
Final recommendation:  highly recommended!!  The movie skirts the social, educational and economic issues raised in the book and focuses on the racism in America during that time period.  This is not to say there is no racism in America today.  The movie is, however, attempting to bring the issue to the forefront for discussion – which for a 1962 release date – was, in itself, a powerful step forward for the country.  It continues to highlight (to me) that as far as we’ve come, we’ve farther to go.
Oh, and my suggestion is to read the book first and then see the movie.  But, that’s just me…
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On This Day In:
2016 Mirror, Mirror
2015 Speaking With Forked Tongue
2014 The Code
2013 Eventually Formed
2012 Remember To Vote Tomorrow
2011 It Sounds Like Chaos Theory To Me

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