Military atomic testing in the Arctic unleashes an ancient dinosaur from hibernation. A physicist (Paul Hubschmid), the only witness to the monster, can’t get anyone to believe him that it exists. Soon enough, the beast emerges on the East Coast and proceeds to devour a few fishing vessels before stomping most of Manhattan flat to the ground. The physicist partners with an anthropologist (or archaeologist or dinosaurist–I can’t remember) to stop the carnage.
Archive for the ‘Classics’ Category
[Sorry, but I got behind in my reviews. Here are two quick, unedited, and not entirely well-written commentaries.]
I grew up on the original Clash of the Titans (1981), that great Hollywood epic of bowdlerized mythology, and what fun it was to revisit it after quite a few years. Sure, the effects might not stand up to the times, and Harry Hamlin might have made for a mite-too-handsome Perseus; but the film is full of wonder and excitement, as Perseus races from one end of the planet to the other in an attempt to save the life of Princess Andromeda, who’s set to be sacrificed to the Kraken. Terrific stop-motion effects by the master Ray Harryhausen. Fun cameos by the Stygian Witches, with their single eye between the three of them; Pegasus; and the precious robot owl, Bubo. The battle scene in Medusa’s lair is moderately suspenseful, although I think a bit too scary for younger children. A classic today.
Say what you will about Creature From the Black Lagoon: seeing this drive-in classic again after twenty years, I was startled and impressed by how technically proficient it really is.
You know the story, of course: scientists discover a prehistoric amphibian alive and well in an Amazonian lagoon that is not so very black and attempt to capture it for study. The “gill-man” becomes enamored with the only female on the expedition (naturally), and tries to steal her away to its remote cave hideaway–surely to talk about things such as the American economy after the end of WWII.
The acting is predictably bland for a low-budget horror film at the time, and there are plenty of dramatic musical swells and stingers to accompany the action. But I was surprised by the little details of Bud Westmore’s intricate creature design; obviously rubber, but not too much so, if you know what I mean. The underwater photography, too, is impressive. In several scenes, director Jack Arnold frames the creature and our heroine, Kay (Julie Adams), in long shots, with Kay swimming along the water’s surface, and the creature in a mirror image below her, paddling upside down. And there’s a neat shot toward the end involving a spotlight and air bubbles.
Audrey Hepburn won an Oscar as a princess overcome by royal ennui. Mildly sedated after a meltdown, Hepburn escapes the confines of the palace and runs into Gregory Peck, a reporter who intends to take advantage of the situation, but ends up falling in love with her instead. Romances, for the most part, tend to be no match for my cold heart. But you know what? Roman Holiday won me over. It’s a sweet, funny movie, loaded with sharp dialogue and gorgeous shots of Rome. Hepburn is luminous, of course, and Eddie Albert gives a terrific supporting performance as Peck’s partner in crime. The final shot isn’t satisfactory (at all), but I think you’ll agree with me that it’s inevitable–and therefore right.
1953; starring Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck; directed by William Wyler; 118 min; Not Rated; English.
1959; starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee; directed by Terence Fisher; 87 min; Not Rated; English.