Orion’s Belt (1985) Norwegian Cold War

Orion's Belt (1985) Poster film artwork photo dvd movie cinemaMuch like last month’s Ground Zero took a real life story and mixed it with a batch of fiction to amp up the drama.

Orion’s Belt is based on factual happenings in the Svalbard regions of Norway where the games of Cold War were being played out between Russia, America and the UK. Real brinkmanship shenanigans, with Norway, and their scandinavian friends, sat right in the middle like the stars in Orion’s Belt.

Orion's Belt (1985) opening title screen shot movie film

The story is an adaptation from a 1977 Nordic crime thriller novel written by Jon Michelet. It’s adventure starts with a three Norwegian salty sea dogs, wheeler and dealer fisherman who are always looking for a way to make a few krone. This involves doing a dodgy little insurance scam with a bulldozer. With orders to dump the machinery into the sea to claim the insurance money by pretending they are hit by a storm losing the bulldozer overboard. Then they decide to sell it, doubling their money.

Orion's Belt (1985) Tom Jansen - Lars and Sverre - skipper the dogOrion's Belt (1985) fisherman russian bucket

This leads them to ship further out in the Norwegian Sea where they hit a real storm forcing them to go ashore on a small island to find supplies. Now this is where it all goes tits up, when they find a large cable running across the land into a cave system. With money signs flashing around their eyes with the thought of selling the wire cable as scrap they follow it’s path till they hit their problem. It’s a manned secret Russian listening post……..

Orion's Belt (1985) russian helicopter attack norway film

And these Russians aren’t too happy to have their secret listening base discovered! Coming after them on helicopters as the guys make their frantic escape, all hell breaks loose.

Tagline – What can one man do against the most lethal army on Earth?… Live to tell the truth!

The three fishermen are Tom Jansen (Helge Jordal), Lars (Sverre Anker Ousdal) and Sverre (Hans Ola Sørlie). Oh and how can I forget! Skipper the sea dog. Can they survive the Russian army and evade capture? Can they outrun the helicopter on their trusty boat? Can this incident be covered up before Cold War tensions get too high?

Orion's Belt (1985) fisherman dingy boat bunker listening post

I thoroughly enjoyed this film, which when the action pieces hit the screen, you will be on the edge of your seat. It thrilling and exciting and the Svalbard settings are absolutely fantastic. Definitely one for your “watch list” notepad. Or have you seen it? What did you think?

Fascinating Fact –  This film was filmed twice in dual-language by two different directors, Ola Solum and Tristan DeVere Cole. Solum filmed in Norwegian and then after each scene Cole resumed the same scenes but this time the actors spoke English. I was expecting a dubbed version when I sat down to watch it. For a few minutes I was convinced it was some of the best dubbing ever lol.

Orion's Belt (1985) cold war action drama film movie

Further Reading

Orion’s Belt (1985) Wiki Info

Cold War Sites Of Norway

Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) Bombastic Berlin Bomb Disposal Drama

Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) film poster movie artwork

Director Robert Aldrich teams up once again with Jack Palance. After enjoying their last outing together, the 1956 war film Attack, I was keen on seeing our Jack in another hero role. Off the back of Attack, IMDB recommended me the wonderfully titled 1959 film Ten Seconds To Hell. A story of six German ex-soldiers returning to Berlin to help clear and make safe the city from unexploded British and American bombs.

Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) bombs dropped on berlin ww2Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) the gang of six

Jack Palance plays Eric Koertner, a man so chiseled he looks like the most handsome missing link there ever was. Reluctant leader of the band of six, Eric is the heart of the group. He is serious and professional, with attention to detail for safety and looking out for his work colleagues. He’s courageous and thoughtful but with an air of pure somber innocence to him, a modest guy.

Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) jack palance Eric Koertner bomb disposal expert

Quite the opposite to party man and ladies man Karl Wirtz (Jeff Chandler) the alpha male of the group who likes to have a drink to unwind the dangers of the job in hand. These two big guys couldn’t be more poles apart from each other but both are experts in their work.

Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) jack palance jeff chandler

The other four are just keen to get the job done and hopefully live to spend their hard earnt cash. The problem being, are you going to live long enough to be able to spend it? So they all come up with a plan to pass their wages on to the rest of the group if one of them should unfortunately not make it.  A three month contract which binds them to the task.

Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) jack palance Jeff Chandler bomb disposal experts

Tagline – WATCH! This man sweat out the most suspense-torn seconds in screen history!

This is a very efficient film filled with all the drama of sweat, blood and tension you would expect in the painstaking task of diffusing massive unexploded bombs. Dripping foreheads, worried faces and strained muscles, as ropes are pulled and rubble strenuously removed to reveal the detonating fuse to safely disarm the bomb.

Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) jack palance Eric Koertner Martine Carol

Throw in a bit of love interest rivalry from landlady, French minx Margot Hofer (Martine Carol) to add some extra tension to the working relationships and you get yourself an excellent post world war two drama. And another superb Palance performance.

Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) bomb disposal expert

Who will survive this dangerous and harrowing job till the end? Can all the explosives be removed to help rebuild Berlin? Can friendships and relationships survive under such hard stressful times? It’s well worth your time tracking this top-notch drama down for a viewing.

Like I said on the Attack post, if you have any other Jack Palance in hero mode film recommendations, then please let me know.

If you’ve seen it? What did you think?

Auf wiedersehen – Wolfenstein

Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) opening credits title screen shot

Attack (1956) Badass Chiseled Cheeked Curly Costa

Attack (1956) poster film movie artwork jack palance

Jack Palance is one of those actors that I know so well. His voice is so recognisable and that unique face of his seems to have played nothing but bad guys. He is probably best known to a certain generation for playing old badass rancher Curly Washburn  alongside Billy Crystal in the 1991 comedy adventure classic City Slickers.  But he’s popped up in a string of 80’s films which included Batman, Hawk The Slayer and Tango & Cash, to name a few, usually doing his panto villain role.

Now I know he had a massive career in cinema right from the 40’s playing all manner of cowboy, crime boss, soldier and even a saucy “R” rated film called Black Snake Woman but I’m honest to say I haven’t seen many.

Attack (1956) Jack Palance Buddy Ebsen Buddy EbsenAttack (1956) Eddie Albert Lee Marvin World War 2

So what a pleasure it was to stumble upon director Robert Aldrich’s 1956 World War Two drama Attack. What a film it was and Jack got to play a hero, Lieutenant Joe Costa. A wiry battleworn, lean and tough, no nonsense hands on fighting machine with a strong code of honour. Unfortunately for our Joe Costa he is under the command of the inept Captain Erskine Cooney (Eddie Albert) a coward with no honour or morals. Which sadly our Joe finds out when the Captain fails to support his troop as they try a daring assault on a German pill box. Resulting in the unnecessary loss of good soldiers in his platoon.

Tagline –“Not every gun is pointed at the enemy!”

Attack (1956) binoculars ambushed firing range ww2

After letting the Captain know his disgust for him, Joe is shut down by the Captains friend and superior Lt. Col. Clyde Bartlett (Lee Marvin). Luckily he has an ally in his buddy Lt. Harold Woodruff (William Smithers) but sadly his hands are tied.

With what looks like the start of the Battle Of The Bulge Lieutenant Joe Costa is sent off with his company to lead a reconnaissance mission to see if the Germans are holed up in a small town. Not wishing to lose his good men again with the thought of no support from the Captain and the rest of the company, Joe Costa demands a promise that he will be backed up. Getting to use the fantastic line of……

Lt. Joe Costa – “I swear, I swear by all that’s holy, I’ll come back. I’ll come back and take this grenade and shove it down your throat and pull the pin!”

Attack (1956) Jack Palance grenade Eddie Albert

Surely it wouldn’t happen again? Can our hero keep his troops safe through this attack? Can the incompetent superior officers be brought to justice? Will Joe Costa really have to blow the Captain’s head clean off with a grenade? You gotta tune in to find out.

Attack (1956) Jack Palance battle world war twoAttack (1956) Jack Palance battle world war two german fight

Jack Palance is just absolutely perfect in everyway as the efficient, charismatic, chiseled hero with that wonderful commanding voice. It’s an excellent film and I’m now gonna be searching the archives for more of his performances. Next up is the amazing titled Ten Seconds to Hell which incidentally is also directed by Robert Aldrich.

Can you recommend me some of his films? I see he’s done some film noir style dramas too. Let me know please.

Thanks for reading. Keep it cool, keep watching films. Mikey The Wolfman

Beach Red (1967) It’s Not Just A War Movie!

Beach Red (1967) - Cornel Wilde World War 2 poster film movie

After being so impressed with director and star Cornel Wilde in magnificent form with his chase movie The Naked Prey I had been excitingly awaiting his 1967 follow up Beach Red. This time he stars as a Captain MacDonald, a leader of a US marine unit sent in to fight the might of the Japanese who have a stronghold on a small island in the Pacific during World War 2.

Beach Red (1967) - Cornel Wilde World War 2 soldier marine battleship

Cornel takes the pacifist anti-war film approach and includes a very everyday man feel to it. You get introduced to the soldiers whilst they are circling around the rough sea onboard their landing craft ready to go into hell as they ready themselves for the beach attack.

It isn’t long before they are given the orders to attack the beach and what transpires is pretty horrific and quite the set piece. For the time, I can imagine this mass beach invasion to have looked very impressive, which it still does. I read and could see clear inspiration to the brutal realism on the D-Day landing sequence in Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. It might not have the money and the effects but it’s certainly effective.

Beach Red (1967) - Cornel Wilde World War beach invasion d-day landingBeach Red (1967) - battle on the beach pacific d day landing invasion

What sets this film aside from more gung-ho war films of the time is it’s approach to show a different side to the horrors. Imagery and narration is used in a surreal way to show the morbid reality of war, a cockroach under a boot, a butterfly caught in a spider’s web and the knowledge that most of the insects and plants are out to get you.

We hear little excerpts from each of the marines as inner monologues and daydreams, their fears, worries and feelings for loved ones or even just for everyday chores. Captain MacDonald mutters to himself that he must buy some new glasses when he gets home.

Beach Red (1967) - egan tins of beans cliff
Egan loves his beans.

Also, which is refreshing, is the portrayal of the Japanese soldiers. You see visions of their past lives, like a rice farmer who has been taken away from his wife and young family as he fondly remembers back to his former life.

Beach Red (1967) - battle on the beach pacific japanese soldiers armyBeach Red (1967) - battle on the beach pacific japanese soldiers army 2

Capt MacDonald flashes back to his last encounters with his wife and family whilst Private Egan (Burr DeBenningrecalls his past lady friend hook ups, which leads to a great scene with him drunk as a skunk messing around with a gorgeous leggy lass twice his size. Played by “Tall Girl” Linda Albertano at 6’4″ and damn sexy too.

Beach Red (1967) - leggy tall dancing girl small drunk eganBeach Red (1967) - rip torn Sergeant Honeywell

Total bad ass Sergeant Honeywell played by Rip Torn gets to fire off the films best line.

“”I’m gonna bayonet ’em, break their arms, so they don’t give me no more trouble! That’s what we’re here for… To kill… The rest is all crap!””

Beach Red (1967) - Cornel Wilde in battle

Captain MacDonald gets a good one in too as he tell redneck Private Egan who can’t stop eating tins of beans.

“I’ll put you in for a new medal, Egan…… for abdominal fortitude”

Some of the dialogue and acting is a little rough round the edges but it’s heart is very much in the right place. Well worth tracking it if you haven’t seen it, or if you have, what did you think?

Beach Red (1967) - battle on the beach pacific d day landing invasion fight

Here’s the trailer which is really awesome. It edits pretty much everything in under 3 minutes. I suggest you watch the film first if you gonna see it soon but if you can’t wait, go for it.

Beach Red (1967) - opening film title credits screen shot

Telefon (1977) – The Russian Manchurian Candidates

Telefon (1977) - Charles Bronson Movie poster artwork film

Donald is gonna think I’m stalking him! This is the third film in a row with the versatile, dependable Mr Pleasence and this time it was purely by chance as I didn’t know he was in it. What a great surprise.  Cul-De-Sac was first then Ground Zero.

Was ticking this one off the list mainly because of Charles Bronson and second being that it’s a Don Siegel movie I knew about but wondered if I had actually seen it. I hadn’t and I can report that it’s a fine piece of 70’s drama.

Telefon (1977) - Charles Bronson explosion

Russian saboteurs within the United States had been placed as sleeper cells at strategic positions around America during the height of the Cold War. Without really knowing it they were hypnotised to go on a suicide mission by a command signal setting them off like the Manchurian Candidate. This message is sent by telephone and consists of a phrase from a poem by Robert Frost called ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’.

Tagline – They’ll do anything to stop Telefon. The operation that can trigger 51 human time bombs.

Telefon (1977) - Charles Bronson russian cia agent

Suddenly they are set off one by one blowing stuff up left right and centre. One minute casually fixing a car as a mechanic the next minute you’re plowing through barriers to decommissioned army barracks and blowing up the building. And they just keep coming, hitting targets all over the place. What’s scary is the fact that theres 51 sleepers ready to be activated!

Telefon (1977) - Donald Pleasence telephone bad guy russian agent 3

Who could be doing this? really there can only be one person so dastardly, so ruthless, that it has to be Donald Pleasence playing a disgruntled rogue KGB agent called Nicolai Dalchimsky who has acquired a little black book filled with all the agents addresses and most importantly to him, their phone numbers.

Telefon (1977) - Donald Pleasence telephone bad guy russian agent

Tagline – Your next phone call may be your last!

Who can stop this madman who could actually start world war 3? Well step up Mr Charles Bronson as Russian Major Grigori Borzov, an experienced officer within the KGB with photographic memory superpower. He gets to memorise a copy of the black book before he is sent to the USA to track down and stop Nicolai.

Telefon (1977) - Charles Bronson gun car chase

What name does this Russian super agent go by?  “Gary“! Gary meets up with a sassy CIA agent Barbara played by Lee Remick and she is greeted with the line.

“For an American agent you’re not entirely repulsive!”

There’s lots of great banter and sly spy work chemistry between Gary and Barbara as they try to figure each other out whilst tracking down Nicolai Dalchimsky. Can these two agents work together to bring down this rogue agent on a destructive path trying to start a world war? You have to get this on the watch list to find out if you haven’t seen it already.

Telefon (1977) - Charles Bronson Lee Remick KGB CIA AgentsTelefon (1977) - Charles Bronson Lee Remick KGB CIA Agents car

On a side note – Criminally under used in a wonderful little part, is Tyne Daly from Cagney and Lacey fame playing a super brained boffin, CIA computer expert called Dorothy Putterman. Would liked to see more of her used. She was never better than Kate Moore in The Enforcer annoying Harry Callahan.

Telefon (1977) - Tyne Daly computer geek cia agentTelefon (1977) - Tyne Daly computer geek cia agent 2

Ground Zero (1987) – Cold War In The Outback

Ground Zero (1987) Vickers Valiant bomberGround Zero (1987) Vickers Valiant bomber scientists nuclear radiation

One way to write a good screenplay is to use historical facts for your plot and then jazz it up with some fiction. Ground Zero really doesn’t need “jazzing up” as the original source material is horrific in it’s own right but with a tweak here and there this 80’s Australian film casts a thrilling story. It also scores big points for a collection of amazing imagery which give the outback set pieces a science fiction movie feel.

Ground Zero (1987) Prosper Gaffney Donald Pleasence voice box

And guess what after yesterday’s Cul-de-Sac this is the third film within in a month with the truly wonderful Donald Pleasence. The other film was the exceptional Wake In Fright.

Ground Zero (1987) Harvey Denton (Colin Friels) film editing

Cameraman and film editor, Harvey Denton (Colin Friels) works for a news organisation in the city and freelances from his apartment. In his spare time he converts and edits old family video footage his father took in the 50’s. Also a cameraman, his father was a documentary film-maker working with the army during the secret testing of nuclear explosions in Maralinga in outback South Australia, which he then just vanished.

Ground Zero (1987) Harvey Denton (Colin Friels) gun capture held upGround Zero (1987) Royal Commission Trebilcock Jack Thompson

With the Royal Commission investigating the historical events with the excavation of a radioactive Vickers Valiant bomber which surprisingly contained the skeletal remains of what looks like a murder victim. Could this body be Harvey Dentons missing father? And why are different organisation interested in getting their hands on his family home movies? Motivated to find out what the blue blazes is going on he starts to investigate.

Ground Zero (1987) Harvey Denton film archive vault reel moviesGround Zero (1987) Harvey Denton (ed hearse car van

This leads to encounters with the head of the Royal Commission, Trebilcock (Jack Thompson) who is desperately looking for a lost reel of 35mm camera film. This links to a very eccentric old army veteran called Prosper Gaffney.  Who could that be played by you may ask? Hehe of course it’s Donald Pleasence.

Ground Zero (1987) Charlie (Burnham Burnham)

Now Prosper Gaffney lives out in the outback right near to the quarantine zone at Maralinga. He is now wheelchair bound and relies on the help of his Aboriginal friend Charlie (Burnham Burnham) who is blind, so they both help each other in different ways. 

Ground Zero (1987) Harvey Denton film archive vault reel moviesGround Zero (1987) burning sun outback aussie film oz

Does Prosper Gaffney know anything that can help Harvey Denton out on his quest? Can he find this film reel and give it to the right people to help bring justice to the Indigenous people of Maralinga who had their land, homes, family life and generations of health problems dropped on them from the British nuclear tests allowed through the Australian government.

Ground Zero (1987) burning sun outback aussie film oz Aboriginal stones

Like I said at the top, this story has been enhanced but a lot is very true and just as horrific. As Britain raced to become one of the “nuclear” superpowers during the Cold War they needed somewhere to do their tests. Did they know the exact damage these appalling tests would cause, it’s had to say at the time but it now seems they did and they blamed it on the severe weather change.

Ground Zero (1987)Aboriginal Indigenous people of Maralinga court case

Lots of the characters are loosely based on real people and if it is of interest then please read the links I have added at the bottom of this post to see the awful truth of the horrors of humanity.

It’s an excellent taunt fast paced action mystery film and what with two good performances from Colin Friels and Jack Thompson there’s also that whacked out psychedelic performance from Donald Pleasence who lights up his screen time. It has it’s problems but mainly it’s very enjoyable movie with it’s heart in the right place. Check it out. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

It’s on youtube in full at the moment if you fancied it. All the best… Mikey Wolfman

Further Reading Links

British nuclear tests at Maralinga
An article entitled 60’s years after the Maralinga bomb tests
Ground Zero (1987) Wiki
Ground Zero (1987) Oz Movies Site
Ground Zero (1987)

Cul-De-Sac (1966) Eggs, Mead and Pleasence in a Dress

Cul-De-Sac (1966)

Can you judge a film by it’s cover? Yeah course you can in this case! Flicking through a few movie titles on a search for something different I stumbled across the intriguing title of Cul-De-Sac. What grabbed me in was the minimalist artwork from the cover of The Criterion Collection release and then the hook, line and sinker, Donald Pleasence. Oh I do love a good Donald performance and this film highlights his quirky style to the fullest.

Cul-De-Sac (1966) Jan Lenica Roman Polanski film poster art

Then I saw the original poster artwork from Jan Lenica and that settled it, this film was going to be awesome no matter what and you know what dude, it’s absolutely fabulous. Two hours of just beautifully made tension, comedy, banter and wonder. All from three main characters and one real setting, a 15th century castle called Lindisfarne.

Cul-De-Sac (1966) causeway car intro start

A quick glance at the plot summary.

“Two wounded gangsters on the run find refuge in the secluded castle of a feeble man and his wife in search of help, however, under the point of a gun nothing is what it seems…”

What aspired was a thoroughly absorbing film which I just could not keep my peepers off. Not what I was expecting from the synopsis and all the more fun because of it.

Cul-De-Sac (1966) Donald Pleasence Francoise Dorleac in dress funCul-De-Sac (1966) beautiful Francoise Dorleac nude back smoking

Donald Pleasence plays George an eccentric middle aged gentleman who has sold his business and purchased a castle as a retreat for himself and his young beautiful, saucy flirtatious French wife Teresa played by Francoise Dorleac. This castle is situated out on a causeway which gets surrounded by the tides making it an ideal secluded hideaway. Life is spent painting and making mead wine and eating eggs, hundreds of eggs. Teresa makes atomic strength vodka, plays records and entertains a few friends if you know what I mean!

Cul-De-Sac (1966) Donald Pleasence Lionel Stander beach.Cul-De-Sac (1966) Donald Pleasence Francoise Dorleac Lionel Stander.

What comes to turn things upside down is the arrival of two men caught driving along the causeway by the incoming tides in a truly delightful filmed opening sequence. Injured and “driving” the car is Albie played by Jack MacGowran and looking out for him is his partner, the hulkish Richard played with such passion by Hart To Hart’s Max, the wonderful talent of Lionel Stander.

They are on the run from a job gone sour and stumble across this hideaway. Waiting to get picked up from their gangster employer they take over the castle until they get rescued. The beauty is Richard’s character, he catches you off guard as this brutish hulk with his gravelly voice and giant size but under that frame is an almost innocent sweet nature which he turns off and on, hot and cold.

Cul-De-Sac (1966) chickens Lionel Stander beach.

If you haven’t seen it before I thoroughly recommend you tracking it down as it’s a real joy, the situations  and character building with the unconventional way the story develops and plays out is masterful. Directed by Roman Polanski and co written by himself and Gerard Brach. If you have seen it, what did you think?

Cul-De-Sac (1966) beautiful Francoise Dorleac


Sad Fact – After enjoying the alluring beauty and fun performance by Françoise Dorléac it was so sad to read she died in a car chase at the young age of 25. Her sister Catherine Deneuve went on to be a big star and I notice that the two sisters starred in a 1967 film together called The Young Girls Of Rochefort. It sounds like a fun film and be nice to see more Françoise Dorléac. Any recommendations, please let me know.

Cul-De-Sac (1966) beautiful Francoise Dorleac record player vinyl jazz smoking

By the way that quirky jazz record Teresa puts on the turntable is by Polish composer Krzysztof Komeda who scores the soundtrack. Here is that record to play us out.

Love film, relax, eat, drink and be entertained by the art of film. Love Wolfie x

Johnny Handsome (1989) – Revenge Has A New Face

Johnny Handsome (1989) Mickey Rourke poster

Mickey Rourke plays criminal minded JohnJohnny HandsomeSedley and manages to channel the spirit of Eric Stoltz portrayal of Rocky Dennis until he meets Dr Fisher (Forest Whitaker) for some experimental cosmetic surgery giving Johnny the chance to change his face. Turning him into Bruce Willis with hair whilst sprouting the vocal style of Marlon Brando.

Tagline – Revenge has a new face

Johnny Handsome (1989) Mickey RourkeJohnny Handsome (1989) Forest Whitaker

Now that our Johnny is handsome and unrecognisable from his former self he can go to work seeking revenge on the dastardly duo that got him locked up for a jewellery robbery they had sabotaged, resulting in the murder of his trusted friend Mikey played by Scott Wilson AKA Hershel from The Walking Dead.

Johnny Handsome (1989) morgan freeman

In his way, is none other than Morgan Freeman playing Lieutenant Drones, a cop all too familiar with the nature of Johnny’s inner workings and knows a leopard can’t change his spots. But maybe the kind hearted secretary Donna McCarty (Elizabeth McGovern) can help put our anti-hero back on the straight line?

Johnny Handsome (1989) Robbery

Tagline – They changed his looks, his life and his future… but they couldn’t change his past.

To be honest this film slides very close to a B-movie what with the reconstruction surgery computer graphics and a speech therapy Nun! Then throw in the most ridiculously over the top psycho baddies from the likes of Southern lowdown hoe (Ellen Barkin) “Mad” Sunny Boyd and the totally deranged camp looking cyber punk Rafe Garrett played by Lance Henriksen otherwise known as Bishop from Aliens.

Johnny Handsome (1989) Ellen Barkin Lance HenriksenJohnny Handsome (1989) Ellen Barkin Lance Henriksen Mickey Rourke

Rourke, Morgan and Forest put in some good performances and the film plods along at a good pace. With my task of filling in Director Walter Hill’s movies I’ve missed, it’s another one ticked off the list but if i’m honest I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped, it was pretty average.

Fun Fact – Based on a 1972 novel by Morton Freedgood under the pen name of John Godey called The Three Worlds of Johnny Handsome. A year after he wrote the book The Taking of Pelham One Two Three which went on to being made into the awesome New York subway thriller starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw.

Nightfall (1956) and Aldo Ray Recommends?

Aldo Ray Men In War Nightfall
Sergeant Montana in Men In War

This is the second film I’ve seen with Aldo Ray in the last few months and I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of him before. The first was Men In War (1957) with Robert Ryan.  He played a Sergeant called Montana who was looking after a battle worn, shell shocked officer known only as The Colonel. Aldo Ray’s performance really stood out in film, he came across as a strong willed maverick but also filled with passion and kindness as he cared for his Colonel. Intrigued to see more from Aldo I stumbled upon Nightfall.

Tagline – THE BLACK BAG…with $350,000 in loot! THE BLACK DRESS…with a beautiful pick-up girl inside! THE BLACK NIGHT…made for lovers…and killers!

Nightfall (1956) - Aldo Ray film noir

Nightfall is an excellent suspenseful film noir drama which races along at a cracking pace, not adding any fluff to its short runtime of just under an hour and twenty minutes. Our star and hero Aldo plays James Vanning a graphic design artist who has a story to tell as he wanders around the city with a heavy heart.

Nightfall (1956) - Aldo Ray film noir Anne Bancroft

He’s been involved in a murder and accused of a bank robbery which resulted in the disappearance of the cash. He finds himself on the run as he is hunted not only by two psychotic gangsters, John (Brian Keith) and Red (Rudy Bond) but he’s also being tracked by an insurance investigator called Ben Fraser (James Gregory).

Nightfall (1956) - Aldo Ray film noir James GregoryNightfall (1956) - Aldo Ray film noir Rudy Bond Brian Keith

Losing himself in the bars of the city he meets a young lady called Marie Gardner (Anne Bancroft) who fills the film noir femme fatale role. Can James Vanning find a way out of all this mess? Can anyone be trusted? Can he escape from those dastardly thugs? It’s well worth seeking out for a watch or have you seen it? What did you think?

Nightfall (1956) - Aldo Ray film noir intro credit titles

What striked me again with Aldo Ray was with character’s portrayal, with his kind gentle nature even through his big stocky frame. Not sure how I had missed this actor before but its great to be catching up with his films now.

So what the hell happened?

Looking through his filmography I couldn’t help but notice things look like they just fell apart for him after the mid 60’s with a ton of dodgy B-movies. Have to say the titles are amazing and I’m intrigued to check some of these out, like The Dynamite Brothers (1974) Suicide Commandos (1968) Riot on Sunset Strip (1967) Psychic Killer (1975) The Man Who Would Not Die (1975) The Lucifer Complex (1978) and even a Western Adult film! called Sweet Savage (1979.

We're No Angels (1955) aldo ray

I’ve been recommended We’re No Angels (1955) with Peter Ustinov and Humphrey Bogart which sounds much fun but what else should I be looking out for?

Movies are ace, keep on viewing.  Mikey Wolfman.

The Exterminating Angel (1962) – Sacrificial Lamb Satire

The Exterminating Angel (1962) art poster image film movie

When it comes to movie titles, The Exterminating Angel is pretty spectacular. Being that I only read a small synopsis for the plot I had imagined it would be in the vein of Agatha Christie’sAnd Then There None” and that the exterminating angel was a description of some femme fatale who was unleashing her wrath on the unexpecting party guests. Haha how wrong could I have been!

Luis Buñuel

This, I find out to my complete joy and fascination is a film by Spanish director Luis Buñuel. A true master of surrealism and credited to be one of the most original directors in the history of film medium! Doh I knew the name but had never seen anything by him. Well you have to start somewhere I guess and the beauty is, I now have a whole bunch of his movies to blow my mind and if The Exterminating Angel is anything to go by, I’m in for some real treats.

The Exterminating Angel (1962) house party upper class guests 1

Tagline – The degeneration of high society!

Upper class Edmundo Nóbile and his wife, Lucia invite a bunch of friends and associates back to their luxury mansion for music and late night drinks. As the night continues on into the early hours everyone starts to settle down to sleep on the couches, sofas and even the floor. When morning arrives no one seems keen to leave. Even when they start to feel the need to return to their homes, family or work, they find that once they reach the threshold of the opened doorway they can’t quite bring themselves to walk across it. This predicament carries on and on, causing all manner of countless problems for our guests.

The Exterminating Angel (1962) house party upper class guests 2The Exterminating Angel (1962) house party upper class guests 3

The film is filled with dread, panic and depression, with symbolism and surreal moments aplenty as waves of dreams and delirium take over as food and water runs dry and sleep desperation sets in. Within the horror there is an undercurrent of dark comic humour as these rich aristocracy get brought down a peg or two. What happened and how does it end? Well you have to watch it but Luis Buñuel lets the viewer come up with his own interpretation and it makes the film so much more because of it.

The Exterminating Angel (1962) house party upper class guests water drinking

Luis Buñuel also wrote the screenplay and story which features such fine dialogue and banter lead interactions. Being set in one room I can only imagine it would make the perfect stage play, it’s such a wonderful film and the whole reason I do this blog to find gems like these. One very happy wolfie.

Luis Buñuel quote – Give me two hours a day of activity, and I’ll take the other twenty-two in dreams.