100 Rifles (1969)
Jim Brown, Burt Reynolds and Raquel Welch star in this
old-fashioned studio Western about the internal struggles in Mexico circa 1900. Reynolds plays a
"half-breed" named Yaqui Joe, a Yaqui Indian from his mother's side,
but fathered by a white man from Alabama. (Although for some reason
his last name is listed as Herrera in the credits!!??) His tribe is at war with a
renegade Mexican general (Fernando Lamas) whose plan is to kill any
Yaquis that won't accept the yoke of oppression. In order to even the
odds in the Yaqui/Mexican war, Reynolds robs a bank in Arizona and
uses the money to buy rifles for the Indians. He thus creates two
major enemies simultaneously - the Mexican general, and an American lawman (Jim
Brown) who follows him back to Mexico, intent on returning him to
Arizona dead or alive.
The idealistic lawman tries to stay
focused on his job, but he can't help but get involved with the cause
of the poor, rural Indians. Some of his change of heart is the result
of compassion for the underdog Indians, but the lawman is pushed all
the way into the struggle because the arrogant Mexican general simply
refuses to co-operate with him and even orders him shot by a firing
squad. The lawman therefore has no choice but to help Yaqui Joe before
he can get him back to the States to face justice. The decision is made less painful
for Big Jim by the fact that he falls in love with the female spitfire (Raquel
Welch) who leads the Yaqui rebellion.
solid premise, and the film was made with a substantial budget, backed
by a score from Jerry Goldsmith. I really wanted to like this movie.
just wasn't in the cards. It
ended up being a mediocre and formulaic film filled with missed
1) The bickering love/hate relationship
between Jim Brown and Burt Reynolds might have turned into a classic
"screen buddy" pairing, but the character development and dialogue
were kept in the background in order to feature riding and gunfights.
2) The action scenes just didn't turn out to be
worth the sacrifice of plot and characterization. The action
consists of a lot of guys clutching their chests and saying "ya got
me, pard" in Spanish, and physics-defying scenes of rows of men all
falling forward dramatically after having been shot in the chest.
Not only did they all fall in the wrong direction, but they fell in
a nice, neat choreographed line, as if they were falling into an art
deco pool during a Busby Berkeley number.
3) The narrative is jumbled, so that the
characters are where they need to be for the story to continue, as
opposed to where they really could be or should be in the real
world. The evil general's men are ambushed not once but twice, and
in each case he is not with them, although we expect him to be. At
one point, Burt and Jim and fifty Indians and the titular 100 rifles
choose to flee when pursued by a mere dozen men on horseback - even
though the evil general is with the riders, the Indians are on their
own terrain, have the advantage of surprise, and would be defending
their own own village. Instead of choosing to battle the general on
those terms, they postpone the confrontation so they can take on the
general in a fortified town where he has a full battalion armed with
Gatling guns and cannons. Yeah, there's a plan.
The studios were still cranking out lots of
Westerns in 1969, and 100 Rifles was overshadowed by several better
ones with bigger stars, including two with John Wayne and two with
Redford. Reynolds had not even become Dan August yet by 1969, and
would not become a major movie star until Deliverance in 1972. (The
Longest Yard followed in 1974; Smokey and the Bandit and Semi-Tough
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid managed to
develop the buddy rapport much better than 100 Rifles. The Wild
Bunch did much better with the violent action sequences. True Grit
had The Duke, who won an Oscar as Rooster Cogburn. In comparison to those three landmark films,
100 Rifles and Sam Whiskey (another Reynolds oater from 1969) seemed
to fall somewhere between drive-in movies and a bunch of kids
Three (2004? 2005? 2006? Take your pick.)
Released to video as "Survival Island"
I'd like to know how many times commercial filmmakers are going to
remake The Admirable Crichton. I, for one, have been sick of these desert
island class-reversal films since before many of you were born.
You never heard of The Admirable Crichton? I suppose I never would have
either, had I not I majored in English Lit, with a specialty in Modern
British and Irish Drama. (Very useful for making a living, right? Of
course, that was the late sixties, when making a living was considered a
sell-out.) At any rate, it is a play written by the same odd little man
who wrote Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie, and the two plays were written at about
the same time, just after the turn of the century. You can
read the play online if you really care to, for it is in the public
The plot was essentially this:
Rich couple gets shipwrecked with their butler. In the new
social dynamic created on
the island, the butler becomes the leader, because he is the only one with
the grit and intelligence for survival. The aristocrats take orders
from him. When everyone is saved, the Lords and Ladies return to their
high station, and Crichton goes back to being a butler.
If your girlfriend wants to drag you to this play, don't
count on any hot butler-on-girl action. This was not a predecessor of Red
Shoe Diaries, although the condescending Lady did eventually find herself
falling in love with her dynamic, ingenious butler - but only until they
were rescued. J.M. Barrie was not much interested in sex, if at all.
Although he married, some of his biographers have suggested that his
marriage was never consummated and that he died a virgin. The relationship
between Barrie's life and his most famous concept, a juvenile frozen in
boyhood, would certainly have been an interesting topic for the analytical
skills of his contemporary, Dr. Freud, because Barrie himself never grew
up in many ways. He stopped growing in boyhood (he was about five feet
tall), and apparently never developed any adult sexual capability. "Boys
cannot love" is how he was said to have explained his impotence to his
wife Mary, shortly before she divorced his tiny ass. In other words, he
wasn't anything like Johnny Depp.
The Admirable Crichton itself has been made into several eponymous
motion pictures, the first one coming out of the silent film era, and the
memorable starring Kenneth More as Crichton. As the twentieth century
progressed and the leisure classes developed an ever increasing interest
in sex, various filmmakers with a healthier libido than Mr. Barrie started
to realize that the entire dynamic of The Admirable Crichton really ought
to have a sexual component. After all, as the "dominant male" on the
island, wouldn't Crichton also get the hottest babe(s)?
Enter Lina Wertmuller and her "Swept Away ..." in 1974, in which the
guy from the lower classes asserts his complete domination over the Lady
when they get shipwrecked. He knows she can't survive unless he provides
for her, and she knows it too, so he uses this advantage for his
amusement, beating her, abusing her, raping her, turning her into his
menial slave, and so forth.
Swept Away was remade by Guy Ritchie into a notorious stinker in 2002.
Ritchie chose unwisely to feature a certain non-actress named
Madonna as the rich bitch. I doubt if he had many options, since he was
married to her.
The latest twist on the story is called Three. A rich couple (Billy
Zane and Kelly Brook) take a private yacht into the
South Seas. It sinks. What is the deal with Billy Zane and boats? This is
the fourth film in which he has been on a sinking ship! (Dead Calm,
Titanic, Cleopatra). At any rate, Zane is nowhere to be seen when Kelly
washes ashore on L'isle D'Gilligan with Manuel, the hired hand. The usual
Admirable Crichton dynamic takes over. Manuel is the one with survival
skills, and he's a horny guy, so she becomes dependent on the handsome
hunk, and they become romantically involved. This actually seems to be
working out quite well until the scriptwriter remembers that the
Gilligan's Island theme song mentions "the millionaire and his wife."
Enter the millionaire, who washes up on the same island. Oh, you know it's
gonna get nasty in a "two men enter, one man leaves" kind of way, except
this island thunderdome involves Zany Bill instead of Mad Max.
Zane goes mad watching his wife shagging
enthusiastically with the other guy, so he hatches a very convoluted
revenge plot. First he finds the hull of a boat, and seems to be planning
to leave alone, so the other two steal the boat and leave Zane behind. As
it turns out, that was exactly what he wanted. He is the only one of the
three who knew that the boat was not seaworthy, and it sinks! The plot
twists continue in the same vein when Brook and the other guy swim back.
Oh, yeah, and there's a voodoo curse involved as well. One of the three
will die. One will eventually leave the island alone. The third will end
up marooned alone.
The film's distribution has been problematic, and rumors
Zane did everything he could to block its
uncut release after he and Brook
became a real-life couple. It seem that there was some dispute about nude scenes
in which Ms Brook shows off a nicely rounded bum and a very generous chest! Perhaps
greatest problem was many of the sex scenes involve Brook loving long time
with a hunky guy from Argentina named Juan Di Pace. Whatever
Zane's arguments may have been, they seem to have had no legal merit, and the film
is available now in Greece, and will soon be released in Region 1.
Inner Sanctum (1991)
I don't know if Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski have the worst directing records in
history, but they run about neck-and-neck when it comes
to the prolific output of grade-Z films.
Of the 50-something films they have each directed, I have enjoyed
exactly one from each of them: Wynorski's Deathstalker II and Ray's
Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers.
The list of films below their mid-points
is like an inventory of the flotsam and jetsam of a horrible cinema shipwreck.
Note that Inner Sanctum is below the average for Ray's films. A bad
sign, that. The film certainly has its share of problems. The
scripting and editing are confusing enough that I wasn't completely
clear who had been plotting what, even after the film ended. The
acting ranges from barely OK (Valerie Wildman) to very weak (Tanya
Roberts and Joseph Bottoms) to laugh-out-loud bad (Margaux Hemingway).
Poor Margaux was in the process of making her post-rehab comeback, and
I suppose nobody was offering her a job except Fred Olen Ray. It's not
difficult to see why work was hard to come by. She was out of shape.
She looked older than her 35 years. Her face was no longer
sufficiently attractive to make her right for the part as the "other
woman." She still had that cartoon voice as well, but her acting would
have been hilarious even if she had been able to switch voices with
Lauren Bacall. To make matters even worse, she used a body double for
some of her nude close-ups, and her saggy A-cups suddenly and
obviously transformed into full, firm breasts! Meanwhile, Tanya
Roberts couldn't have sunk to Margaux's acting level even if she had
tried, but she opted for one of those corny 30s-style "ditzy dame" New
Yawk accents, complete with gum-snapping, as if she were trying to
impersonate Judy Holliday. I have to give Tanya some credit for
effort, however, because she at least tried to infuse some personality
into her character, while the rest of the actors remained bland and
Having said all of those mean things, I would add
that I am pleased with the acquisition of this DVD for a few reasons:
(1) Tanya Roberts looked very good in this film,
and did some career-best nudity.
(2) Margaux Hemingway did some rare post-rehab
nudity. Some of her close-ups were performed by body double Michelle
Bauer, but some of the scenes were done by Margaux as well.
(3) The DVD is adequate by the standards of
grade-B films. The colors are reasonably vivid, the focus is not
excessively mushy, and there is no motion blur, so Tanya's nudity is
fairly clear and crisp.
Unfortunately, the DVD is not available in Region
1. If you are interested in a Region 2 PAL disc, there is a
Scandinavian one available in America through an importer. Click
on the image below for details. (Note: Michael Nouri and Sandahl
Bergman are not in this film. The people who created the DVD box
got this film confused with Inner Sanctum 2. Of course, that
doesn't explain why they misspelled "Hemingway.")
714 - with an asterisk
The 50 Worst Beers In The World
Kirstie Alley will wear a bikini on Oprah's
show in November
Worst idea for an opera this week:
Nixon in China.
- Why not? From Faust to Othello to Don
Giovanni, opera has always featured evil,
satanic figures ...
- ... just not so many in the same opera.
(Nixon, Kissinger, Mao)
- Quote of the day: "The English National
Opera will mount Nixon in June and July."
"In his provocative new film 'Shortbus,' U.S.
director John Cameron Mitchell is seeking to
demystify sex on screen by making it real."
An incredible sequence of pictures - a tugboat
is pulled under a bridge which does not open
Now THIS is a Father's Day present:
The Original Gag Gift Hot Dog Roaster!!!
Freddie dreams with the fishes.
How to ruin your tough-guy rocker image: get
your ass kicked by a 55-year-old designer.
Dodgers: 16 runs on 25 hits - in
pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium
Critics judged irrelevant by audiences.
DaVinci code opens huge. ($30 million on
Family Guy - Peter and Stewie bond
"Dreamgirls" casts a spell over the Cannes
The logical extension of the DaVinci Code
Married with Jesus
The hybrid electric burning cross - for the
racist who loves the environment or hates the
high price of gas.
Yoko Ono to blame for McCartney split
- "The latest polls reveal that Ono is
also receiving a hefty share of the blame
for the trouble in Iraq, the immigration
problem and rising gas prices. The growing
anti-Ono ire is good news for the Bush
administration, which announced it has
evidence linking the notorious band-wrecker
to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "
The real reason for the McCartney split
- There's no humor or sensationalism here.
Most of the other stories have been
completely superficial, but this is an
analytical article for those who actually
care about the matter.
Architecture Portal News: Constructing The
Highest Viaduct Ever (It carries traffic
about 800 feet in the air over a valley.
That's about the height of the observation
deck of the Empire State building.)
The Republican plan for complete control in
2008 includes losing the mid-terms in 2006
Three clips from the remake of The Omen
Top 100 Beers
"The Senate voted unanimously late Thursday
night, without fanfare, to raise the fines the
FCC can levy against broadcasters by a factor
Berkeley's notorious 'Naked Guy' dies, fully
Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format.
Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.
Angel Blade (2002)
David Heavener wrote, directed and starred in this neo-noir erotic thriller
about the non-gambling, non-glitz side of Vegas. (In fact, there isn't a
single slot machine or casino in the film.)
A serial killer is dispatching barely pregnant hookers in Las Vegas with a
knife. Based on brief flashes, we know that they were chained to a wall and
tortured. They all had the same panties with prints of angels on them.
Heavener's character is a police detective, or at least he used to be one
before his life went wrong. First, his pregnant wife died falling off a
building, after he had been paged to come to work. He was later suspended from
the force for three months after stepping on the toes of a police
commissioner. Six months have passed since that time, and still he has no
intention of coming back, but his boss wants him on this case, and the
pregnancy angle intrigues him. As the detective starts to follow the clues, he
finds that a lingerie model (Amanda Righetti) is the sole supplier of the
angel-print panties. He ends up in a romantic relationship with her. Twists
ensue. I don't want to give any more clues, since they might spoil the ending,
which is completely unique.
Co-star Amanda Righetti (who is now a regular on "The O.C.") had no
previous acting experience before this film. Heavener read dozens of actresses
for the role and didn't like any of them. He then decided to see models, who
would be comfortable with their body and able to handle the nudity. He was
very pleased with Righetti, and felt that she had natural acting ability. The
rest of the cast included Marc Singer, Richard Moll, Louis Mandylor, and
Margot Kidder in a cameo.
I am still not sure how I feel about Angel Blade. I felt unfairly
manipulated by the director more than once, such as in a scene where Heavener
wakes up from a bad dream, and then wakes up again, as he had been dreaming
that he was having a bad dream. Since the "making of" featurette says that
Angel Blade is "not your grandma's erotic thriller," I will grade it
within that genre and give minus points for the sex and nudity, but plus
points for a unique plot. On average, it is a solid C, a satisfactory genre
IMDb readers say 1.9, but that score appears to be meaningless. It is based
on only 25 votes, and all three linked reviews are positive.
I found a rarely-capped clip of Mia Farrow in
"A Wedding." Parts of this sequence I don't think I have ever seen capped.
Here are five caps I made. The quality of the clip was not great, but I did
what I could with it.