Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Transformers : Dark Of The Moon

 Well off to flicks did cynical old me go today!! And out come cynical old me even more cynical than ever!!!! It really is difficult at times in reviewing a movie like this as I feel as if I'm writing the same thing week in week out. Suffice to say if you have seen the first two movies then you have seen this the third instalment.

 One thing that is different and which I am eternally grateful for is the fact the worst 'actress' of all time Megan Fox wasn't in this. She dropped out just as production started and here Shia LeBeouf gets English model Rosie Huntington-Whitely in Fox's place. Not in the same role thankfully as we learn that she has subsequently dumbed LeBeouf's character. So whew no appalling Megan Fox to agonise over! But we get someone just as bad I'm afraid! Whitely is the cliqued dumb blonde who is there as eye candy, and boy can she just NOT act!! It was embarrasing and I'm afraid a shot up her arse on a stairway with skimpy knickers on at the start is never going to make her an actress! Tight dresses want do it either I'm afraid Miss Whitely!! So straight off we are on the wrong foot with things sticking to the formula.

 It is somewhat unfortunate that Transformers 3 also has a plot from the 1960's. I instantly had visions of the recent X-Men. Again we have JFK footage, and even some from the very naughty Mr. Nixon. The shot of JFK is lifted straight from Forrest Gump, and if you watch carefully right throughout there are many nods towards other movies. In one scene there is a neon sign with Tron, and one of the Decepticons is a robot version of Predator. You will catch them if you are quick enough and somewhat tounge in cheek. But by doing this I think Michael Bay has seriuosly shot himself in the foot because when the scene where the building is cut in half and topples is virtually lifted straight out of the awful Cloverfield.

 And here we come to the crux of the problem. There is too much other movie stuff going on and all we get is a Transformers meets Cloverfield meets Battle : L.A meets Skyline hash/mash/spit out the end result. Sure the effects are great, and I will give credit where credit is due, but really it has been done before and I couldn't escape the feeling of deja vu. I was also feeling somewhat annoyed as there are several scenes of straight out wonten vandalisism. In one scene several Autobots beat up a Decepticon, throw him on a classic car ( nooooooooooo!! ), crushing it,  and then boot it into a nearby diner. I mean it was just out and out vandalism and I just couldn't buy into that as entertainment. Sure the franchise is about big bangs entertainment but by this third outing I was sick of OUR cities being trashed by two warring alien races. Here it is Chicago's turn and it laid to waste. Sure, spectacular, but somehow it annoyed me that it was our planet being destroyed. God damn it robot alien thingies, if you want to fight go back home and do it!

 Overall then this is like so many modern movies, it is just one too far. The first I will acknowledge, but its success lead to the inevitable sequel which made squillions which breed the yet again inevitable sequel. Unfortunately three is one too many and I think only serious Tranfsformer fans will gain anything from this. It is cliqued with some absolute clanger dialogue, and a really poor atempt at humour as LeBeouf goes through numerous job interviews. Honestly they are so bad as to be ridiculous. Does Bay seriously believe people act like than in job interviews???

 I find this a hard one to gauge. I liked the graphics, but the acting was a joke and some of the human scenerios just stupid. Bay has tried to add in some nods to other movies but they mis-fire as they just remind us of the fact that Transformers 3 is little more than a re-run. Taking shots from Forrest Gump and Cloverfield was not a smart move and I think Bay made a terrible mistake by doing so. The action sequences are spectacular yes, but are virtual replays of the last two movies. And very much like Battle : L.A the in between scenes are poor with some terrible, terrible dialogue. ( Frances McDormand ran rings around the rest of the cast and showed them what real acting was in the process. If it wasn't for her then there would have been no credible acting at all! ). Bay makes the whole thing worse with a sentimental soundtrack that can't cover the fact he is trying to add a serious and credible tone to the movie. Unfortunately he makes a poor movie even worse by trying to do so.

 In all honesty I think this is one for the fans alone. One too many that has nothing new and it is almost as if Michael Bay went out of his way to sabotage his own movie with some foolish lifting from other movies. I'm neutral on this one. It is a Transfomers movie and that is about it and probably one for fans alone. Luckily Bay has annouced this is his last Transformers movie. Lets hope the franchise goes away with him!!

Click here for a synopsis and more:

And here for more:

And here for the official site:

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Place In The Sun

 Well for my 150th post I have a real classic in Elizabeth Taylor/ Montgomery Clift outing A Place in the Sun. The AfI has this at 92 on its list of greatest movies, and yet while I really liked this film, and appreciated the performances, I struggle to call it great. Solid and very commendable yes, but not great.

 I rented this film in a three box set called Screen Sirens. It also included Roman Holiday and To Catch a Thief. I seriously doubt if Audrey Hepburn would have considerrd herself a 'siren'. I myself don't consider her one. She was an attractive actress to be sure but 'siren' isn't quite what she was. Elizabeth Taylor and the simply devine Grace Kelly were definitely 'sirens' though. I rented the box set more for the Hepburn and Kelly films as I have never been a Taylor fan. Let me tell you why.

 Until several nights ago I had only ever seen one Elizabeth Taylor movie, and that was in the mid-1970's!! It was National Velvet and since then I have almost religiously avoided her. It was more due to her many sham marriages than anything else as she began to represent for me the falsenesss of Hollywood. She just became a living joke and I felt quite repugnant whenever a new marriage was announced. It was just stupid that Elizabeth Taylor could be headline news round the world with another mariage when there was more important things to be aware of.

 So to say I wasn't a fan is an understatement. It really is quite stupid when I think about it. We all have actors/actresses we have  hate affairs with don't we? Whether we judge them on their screen portrayals or their lives offscreen we all have one or two we just come to loath. Taylor for me was one of several I have dis-liked over the years. The mantle has been passed to Vince Vaughn now. He makes me want to puke everytime I see him and I will never see another movie of his after the disgrace of The Dilemma.

 Taylor even though she lead a sham life did do alot for charity, especially AIDS wise, and I will give her credit for that. But for me I can't shake the marriage angle and the more I think of it the more I realise how silly it all is. So it was with some trepidation that I slipped A Place in the Sun into the DVD player the other night. I wasn't fussed on the thought of it and yet by the end I was actually very pleased I took the time to watch only my second Liz Taylor film in my lifetime!

 The film is an adaptation of Theodre Dreiser's novel, An American Tragedy. I think both film and novel titles very apt as the plot is a sad indictment of the American dream and its corrupting influences. The storyline revolves around George Eastman ( Montgomery Clift ), a poor working class boy employed by his rich uncle. He foolishly breaks a company rule of not becoming involved with the companies female employees, and gets a young naive Alice Tripp ( Shelly Winters ) in the family way. Meanwhile he meets beautiful, seductive, and innocent socialite Angela Vickers ( Liz Taylor ). The two fall in love and Eastman's troubles begin and lead to his demise.

 George stevens the director cast Liz Taylor for her looks as he felt 'the audience would understand why George Eastman would kill for a place in the sun with her'. Taylor was 17 at the time and I must admit she was simply stunning!! It was a brilliant bit of casting and fit the whole moral of the story. In essence it is the story of class climbing and its pitfalls. Eastman is in a dilemma and dreams of killing off Tripp so he can safely marry Winters. Tripp fails in her bid for an abortion and forces Eastman to agreeing to do the honorable thing of marrying her. If he doesn't she would expose him to his uncle for the wrongful relationship. He is trapped and takes her out on a boating trip as he knows she can't swim. He battles his conscience which wins, but inadvertantly the boat tips over and she drowns. Eastman could have saved her but didn't as he saw it as the cure to his problems. Of course it all unravels and he ends up in court and found guilty of her murder. It is ironic because he had actually given up on the murder plan and yet fate seemed to fall his way when the boat tipped. The film ends with him confessing that he deserved the electric chair because he could have saved Trip and didn't.

 Montgomery Clift as George Eastman is excellent and well deserving of his Oscar win. I have never seen a film of his before so it was nice to get one under my belt. He must have been a fine actor because his role in From Here to Eternity is legendary as is the film and novel it is based on. Shelly Winters is excellent as well as the naive Shelly Winters. She is easily lead astray by the good looking Eastman and the viewer can sympathise with her position. Hers is also another worthy Oscar winning performance. Liz Taylr is a knock out and perfect for her role. She is a pampered, spoiled, beautiful socialite that any male would be hard pressed to resist. She and Clift have a real on screen chemistry that makes it all work. This was Taylor's pivotal role and saw her come out from under the cover of child actress into the adult world. It is a fine performance and I doubt anyone else had the age and looks for the role except her.

 A Place in the Sun when released was both a critical and commercial success. I think with both Taylor and Clift being young hearthrobs helped as audiences must have brought into the whole tragedy. It is a great story even though not original as such because three way love tryts have been done before. But it is a subtle look at the class system and how those without envy those who have, and how those with have nothing but scorn for those without. It reminds me very much of The Great Gatsby and parts of Les Miserables.

 So why don't I regard this as a great film? It is certainly very good and the three leads are excellent, but the premise isn't original, and whilst beautifully filmed in black and white there is nothing spectacular or notable in it ( even though it won an Oscar for best B&W cinematography!! ). It is basically a very solid, classically made film, that relies on its star power's youthful good looks, and sentimentality to achieve its popularity. There is nothing wrong with this and it achieves it very well , but it doesn't lead it into the great realm for me personally. I can't escape the feeling of my heart strings being pulled but without anything else but looks and a sad ending to endure itself.

Elizabeth Taylor onset between takes as beautiful socialite Angela Vickers
 A Place in the Sun is a very fine film, absolutely no question, and I do recommend it. Elizabeth Taylor is the obvious draw card and I must confess to have been impressed with her performance. She is perfectly cast for the role and fortunately had the talent to back up her extraordinary knock-out looks. If she didn't bring that talent to the role then the whole film would not have worked as her role is central to the socialite world she lives in and Eastmans desire to enter it through her. If you like classic movies then this will more than satisfy. For those of you, who like me were dismissive of Liz Taylor, I recommend you take a look at this as she did actually have real talent and this film proves it.

 A really good example of 1950's film making which exploits the looks of both Clift and Taylor in a film that deals with the pitfalls of social climbing. Well worth a look and believe me Elizabeth Taylor was a genuine beauty in her day and I was just in awe of her! A genuine classic, and a film that has me re-appraising Liz Taylor! Enjoy!!

Click here for a synopsis and more:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Flight Of The Phoenix

' ...you behave if stupidity were a virtue.'

 Dorfmann to Towns.

  Even though The Flight of the Phoenix was nominated for two Oscars it has somewhat faded away into obscurity. When released in 1965 it was a commercial success but critics weren't as impressed. This is shame because it has a stella cast which provide some very fine  performances in a quite entertaining movie.  I knew of this movie but didn't realise it was based on a 1964 Ellison Trevor novel of the same name. Unfortunately I believe there is to be a re-make in Holywood's mania to re-make everything because it is easier to do so than find some originality.

 One critic at the time called this movie ' grim and implausible'. Grim I absolutely agree with but that is the whole point!! A plane load of men crash landing in the Sahara with little water and nothing but pressed dates to eat is a grim situation. Which leads to the critics so called ' implausible' situation of the rapidly dwindling survivors building an aircraft from the wreckage in which to save themselves. To me this critic has got it wrong as the movie is no different from any other Hollywood movie. They are entertaining and 9 times out of 10 based on implausible, unrealistic situations, which inthemselves provide an escape from reality for a few hours. I don't see anything wrong with that.

 The problem arises if the plot and implausibility aren't backed up with a good script and acting. In this case we get both. This is where it is somewhat unfortunate that Phoenix has somewat disappeared as the acting in particular is extremely good. We all know James Stewart ( my favorite actor bar none ), was one of the very greatest actors ever, and that Richard Attenborough was a fine one too. But here it is Hardy Kruger who is the standout. Like many of the movies he starred in he again plays a German named Heinrich Dorfmann. As a character he isn't exactly a nice guy and unhesitatingly calls those around him 'ignorant' and 'stupid'. He is extremely arrogant and yet Stewarts character, pilot Frank Towns sees in him the future and the death of is own type.

 The survivors are put on a strict water ration as they believe they will be found, but as it dawns on them they won't Dorfmann, who states he is an aircraft engineer, advises building an aircraft from the wreckage. Towns is dis-believing and laughs at him asking ' are you joking with me'! This reaction brings to the fore Attenborough in a very fine performance as Lew Moran who mediates between the two. As Dorfmann convinces them his plan will work the survivors set to work as it is deemed better than waiting to die from lack of water. Also the numbers are dwindling due to murder from a few rouge Arabs, and several members trying to walk out to an oasis 106 miles away.

 Stewart, Attenborough, and Kruger are the three protagonists here but both Ernest Borgnine and George Kennedy star as well. Borgnine plays a man who is somewhat slow and off his rocker, and he dies off early in the movie. Kennedy at the time was a realitive new comer with a minor role, and yet is one of those who reach safety. The rest of the cast is virtually unknowns and I didn't know any of them. But really they are there to make up the numbers because the movie is more about the battle of wills between the old world of Stewart and the new of Kruger.

 A battle of wills it is to. Stewart is pragmatic and can't believe a cobbled together aircraft will fly and is horrified the survivors will be flown out lying on the wings!! As things tense up Attenborough finally turns him around suggesting it is betteer to die in a ball of flame if the craft crashes than to die of thirst. Things really reach a head when Stewart and Attenborough find out Kruger was a model airplane designer!! They are literally speechless but realise it is too late to tell the others and wreck their morale. They both have serious doubts as to whether the craft will fly.

 One interesting by plot is the slow decay of the men mentally. Some hold up well where as some fall to pieces. Stewart at one stage asks himself,  'what is happening to us'. I think this was a good part of the plot as it added to the desperate situation and was a fair reflection of humanity when faced with a very real slow death. 'Grim' the critic stated, well of course it is!

The building of the plane proceeds with various deaths and power struggles along the way until it is finished. The last part of the movie sees the attempt to get the aircraft flying and Kruger having one final fit as he loses it completely with Stewart. Of course we get a happy ending with them all arriving safely at a near by oasis and many of them diving into it. The movie ends with Stewart and Kruger begrudgingly acknowledging each other. They realise they needed each other and without the one or other they would all be dead.

The DVD cover.
 The Flight of the phoenix  is a fine movie. It is not a masterpiece or in the great realm but it is far above the average. The performances of the three big stars are impressive but especially that of Hardy Kruger who probably never played anything as good again. It has the usual 1960's effects and the difference between the indoor/outdoor sets are very obvious. But I can ignore that as this is a movie about the battle of wills between two strong willed men, and how they come to appreciate one another through the cool head of Richard Attenborough's character. It certainly is a fine movie and well worth a watch, because I believe it is a somewhat forgotten gem.

 Well worth your time to see. Sadly neglected but the performances must be seen as they lift The Flight of the Phoenix up well above the average movie it could well have been. Take a look as I think you will surprised at its overall quality.

Click here for a synopsis and more:


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cars 2

'When you find a friend you find a treasure'.

 I was really in anticipation of Cars 2 even though many do not rate the first movie particularly highly. Sure it isn't Toy Story but even so as a lesser Pixar outing Cars is a really good animated feature. In many respects with it being five years between sequels I was quietly hoping that just maybe in this era of mandatory part 2's, 3's, etc Cars may have just bucked the trend and been left alone.

 Not to be though and in all reality I should have known better! So I went along several hours ago and forked out $17!!!!!!!!!!!! for a pair of ill-fitting 3-D glasses and settled in for what I hoped would be and a very enjoyable 1 1/2 hours of animated fun. Well I came out replete and with a small grin on my face. For the first time in weeks Hollywood dished up something that was worth while watching and which didn't insult my intellect in the process. My grin was a bit wry though because in the back of mind I was thinking how bad it is that an animated feaure with a target base of kids offered me more than an adult orientated movie.

 What I've always admired about animation is the absolute unlimited boundaries it opens up for a movie makers imagination. This is what is lacking in mainstream movies today, just the pure use of imagination. If animation can do it so consistently why can't mainstream?? The scope is endlesss and yet the same movie gets played week in week out. The lack of original thinking is appaling which thankfully animation seems to thumb its nose at.

 Cars 2 satified me in everyway. It had the usual mesage for the kids in the form of environmental issues and the value of friendship. I do like this as it brings worldy issues to a kids level of understanding about the world they live in. I think it takes a great deal of skill to do this and the script writers must be commended for it as it isn't cheesy, convoluted or have a political under tone. It is done so the kids can grasp the message at their level without boring or insulting them. But best of all it is entertaining and fun..

 For the adults there is plenty on offer for them to. Any James Bond fan will really dig the Bond homage here as one character is very much a caricature of 007. He has all the gadgets imaginable, the English voice of Michael Caine, and he he has a beautiful sexy female side kick called Miss Sideshift. Any Bond fan will recognise the slight play on some of the Bond girls names there! The movie starts with a very Bond like mission and throughout the Bond situations are clearly recognisable. It is really alot of fun because along the way Tow Mater is accidently caught up in it all and mistaken for a secret agent. Suffice to say many hilarious mis-haps occur as he bumbles his way towards saving the day. ( This is a genuine homage to because it uses Bond like situations without being Bond. J J Abrams could learn something here in what homage actually means after his dumb virtual ET/The Goonies re-make ).

 Virtually from word go the movie has a fast and furious pace. Honestly there was no time to breath as one fast scene after another erupted from the screen. At no time did it slow for any sentimentality in getting across its core message of friendship. It was all done in a fast, frenzy paced way that was a lot of fun and without losing sight in what it wanted to say. The humour is what you would expect of a Pixar feature and provided plenty of sight gags to please young and old. But it also had a multitude of tounge in cheek jokes for the adults. I had a ball and was constantly laughing throughout. Again the originality was palpable and oh so re-freshing.

 On really nice touch which I was really impressed with was how the makers dealt with Doc Hudson, who of course was voiced by the late  Paul Newman. When the first scene in Radiator Springs comes up it finds Lightning McQueen and Mater in a Doc Hudson museum, and McQueen saying a few words on Hudson's influence etc on him. It was a lovely scene and a fantastic in house tribute from Pixar to Paul Newman. Kudos all round and I'm really impressed how quickly they wrote Hudson out yet quietly acknowlegding and respecting Newman in the process. I'm sure all Paul Newman fans who watch this segment will agree it was a touching well done final tribute.

 As you also may be aware there is a very short Toy Story feature before Cars 2 starts. It is less than 10 minutes long. It isn't anything special as such but it is always nice to see 'the gang' in action. I suppose since the target audience is mainly the kiddies then I have to add in what their reaction was. On the whole it seemed very favourable. I know if a feature doesn't engage them then there is alot of talking, fidgeting and general unrest, but right throughout Cars 2 there wasn't anything of this and I think it shows that the feature found its mark. I think the fast pace had so much to do with this and it must have really dazzled the little ones.

 In short then I absolutely enjoyed Cars 2 and recommend you go and see it. I very much doubt it will disappoint in any way. Bond fans will love the secret agent angle and the in-house Bond gags. The pacing is full on and just wonderful. It doesn't let up and is just pure entertainment for all. This is how a movie should be made, with care, originality and thought towards the audience about what you are giving them. The quality of Cars 2 is very high and a shining example of what is wrong with mainstream movie making today. Animation take a bow.

 Another charming fun filled animated feature from Pixar which I think all will enjoy immensely. Hope in, buckle up, and enjoy the ride!!!

Click here for a synopsis and more:

And here for the official site:

The Green Lantern


 Well Daniel and Karina I actually took myself off to see this after I steadfastly said I wouldn't !!!! Why I hear you ask?!! Well on Saturday night I won a paltry NZ$63 in our national lottery...only one more number and it would have NZ$28,000 ..but them's the breaks huh?! Anyway since my investment of NZ$18 turned into NZ$63 I thought 'what the hell I ain't paying am I?', so off I went because I really can't get by without a weekly trip to the flicks.

 I really wasn't keen on seeing this at all which started from the moment I first saw the trailers months ago. Ryan Reynolds can be so-so but I did like him alot in Buried, and funnily enough in The Proposal with Sandra Bullock. But other than that Reynolds plays Reynolds. In some ways he reminds me of Keanu Reeves who is always the same...completely wooden. What gets me is why I felt like avoiding this, I still can't define it because Reynolds alone wasn't enough to deter me. I think the shot of the alien looking out of his cockpit at Jordan reminded me too much of a similar shot in Enemy Mine from the 1980's with Dennis Quaid....( anyone remember that or am I just old??!! ). I think when I saw that I turned off and thought, 'seen it all before'. But I will say this now I shuddered when I saw the Captain America trailers and thought 'oh my god it looks worse than Green Lantern...god help us!'.

 Anyway in I went and pretty much got what I expected. It is the usual formulatic, CGI heavy, plotless, all been done before, Hollywood weapon of mass destruction on intelligence, yawn fest. I just sat there thinking to myself it is the same movie I saw last week , and the before that, and the one before that, and so and so, and so, and.....yeah.

 It isn't that it isn't visually appealing as I did like many of the visuals, but the plot was diabolical, and the whole thing like an over done formula. There was no originality anywhere. The whole structure of the film is like the one last week, and the one before that, and the one...oh I've been there haven't I? It is almost a scene for scene, week in week out replay, but with different actors and visuals. And this is what I am getting sick of week in week out. The same fucking movie over and over and over. Christ! Hollywood has millions at its disposal and yet produces the same bloody movie each week!!!!!!!

 It wouldn't be a problem if each movie was constructed differently, or added something new or innovative, but on Sunday I could have fallen asleep and woken up wondering how I ended up watching Thor again, or Source Code, X-Men, or heaven forbid Super Trash...oops, Super 8. But one thing Green Lantern had going for it which Super 8 didn't was the fact there was no under handed promotion to it. What you saw in the trailers was what you got, and not the sneakiness of Super 8, which is why I hated it so much and why the bad taste in my mouth still lingers.

 Anyway rant over!!....nah!...here's some more!! I didn't hate Green Lantern because I got what I was expecting...and I didn't really pay for my ticket so it had an added bonus. I even paid extra to see it in 3-D!! Fair to say though I wasn't impressed either. I've seen worse movies by far ( The Green Hornet for example ), but for me Green Lantern was just another example of the deep rooted problem with mainstream Hollywood. Just not enough originality. I feel with the quality of the movies coming out out of Tinseltown recently there is a major excersise in dumbing down of the audience. I for one don't really want to play the game. Super 8 was a real low for me and it is with real horror that I read how many people really liked it and called it the best movie of the year. Somehow the dumbing down is here and we haven't realised, or not wanted to see it happening.

 Green Lantern is just another expensive movie with little going for it. It even fails on the entertainment side as I can go to the flicks next week and see the same movie again, but with a different title! Oh yes..the green CGI suit did tend to make Reynolds look like 'a bloody lego-man' didn't it Karina?!!!

 Boring, pure mind rot!!!

RANT OVER!!!....now I'm off to watch some Alfred Hitchcock classics to remind myself that once there was intelligent life in cinema!! Anthony Perkins here I come!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


 When I look back over the last decade I realise how extremely fortunate I have been at the amount of classic cinema I have seen on the big screen. In 2000 I saw Fritz Lang's Metropolis, and again several years ago. Many regard it as his masterpiece, but even after two viewings, and then watching M several nights ago, I think M is the superior film.

 Metropolis was ahead of its time visually with techniques the rest of the world wasn't even close to replicating. It is hard to imagine in our own times that once German cinema was the best and leading light in the field. Today it is Hollywood, but somehow with its dominance it doesn't come close to that of the Germans in the 1920's and early 1930's. In the Alfred Hitchcock books I have read and reviewed recently, and in particular the biography I am reading now, it is very clear where Hitchcock got his ideas from. He even acknowledges the German influence on himself. The camera shot looking down a stair well  for instance isn't Hitchcock's invention but Lang's. We see it in M when Elsie's mother at the start of the film looks down the stairwell several times when her daughter isn't home after school. Hitchcock states that stairwells are 'photogenic' and uses the technique in several of his films, but he was unashamedly copying Lang

 Fritz Lang filmed M in 1931 and it was his first 'talking' film. It is interesting because if you listen closely there are several scenes where there is no sound what-so-ever. I mean none! No background score, no voices,  no vehicle noise, nothing. It is quite strange and I kept finding myself turning up the volume in trying to find some noise. And yet in other scenes, when there was no narrative between actors, Lang had background noises such as voices, whistles, and horns. A soundtrack to a film of course was still its infancy, and it is enlightening to watch just to remind ourselves that what we see on our screens now wasn't always so.

 When you look closely it is a primative film which mirrors the youthfulness of the medium, especially the equipment. To look at the final product of M and then at at the primitive conditions in which it was made under is to appreciate it even more. Fritz Lang was a perfectionist and even with the equipment he had he understood film and cinema like no-one else at the time. Metropolis is a good example of this. But M, whilst not as technique/visually/ heavy, still is a real showcase of Lang's techniques and thinking.

 The stairwell scene is the first example. He hung a camera over the well and pointed it straight down to get the shot. It may sound backward by our standards but it was cutting edge stuff in the early 1930's. The other thing which is immediately obvious, and which Alfred Hitchcock latched onto and used in his own films, was the use of the high overlooking shot. Lang built platforms and other structures on which he hoisted up his cameras to get a shot looking downwards. In M there are huge amounts of this as we see people moving around the streets. The other shot that really sood out, and was unusual for the time, was one of a policeman sitting at his desk with the camera underneath in the footwell looking up over his knees to his face. Very cutting edge stuff for 1931, and still quite brilliant.

 M is a pure masterpiece of film technique. I just loved watching it and seeing Lang's thinking on film making. The high shot was his speciality and the disc I had has a few photos on it showing the elaborate sets Lang had produced, and the platforms he had built over them for his cameras. It is primitive stuff but no-one can ever convince me modern film makers are in any way better than those of the past. Fritz Lang for me was a pioneer and one of the very first genuinely great filmmakers, of whose influence Alfred Hitchcock no-less acknowledges on his own career. How many have been influenced by Hitch into our era?? Lang's influence has a very long reach when you really think about it!

 One thing really made me laugh and that is the amount of smoking. In almost every scene everyone is either smoking a cigarette or cigar. It is incredible and in some shots the smoke is so thick you can cut it with the proverbial knife!! Watch M and you'll be amazed! All those actors must have died of lung cancer!! Other things are also interesting. The use of primitive CGI for instance. In one scene Lang has a high shot and on each side of the frame he has superimposed two buildings. You can always tell this is films of the era because the imposed shot is shaky and jumps compared to the background it is put on. Notice this too in the court room shot where two big elaborate lights are on each side of the judges. You can see them shudder slightly against the background. Lang's use of this technique is very good when compared to its use in other films where it is extremely crude, and the shuddering of the imposed shot is more than obvious. But for its day Lang's use of the technique, and his quality of it, is remarkable.

 What also stood out was the editing as it was very sharp unlike many films of the era where there is a clear cut in the film. Sometimes editing was so poor  the scene was cut just before it actually finished. Again Lang's eye to detail stands out and M is a very well made film overall. With such good editing it hasn't the jerkiness many early black and white films were known for. M is a quality film all round and  Lang has to be acknowledged for this.

 I don't need to go into a synopsis suffice to say M was one of  the very first films to deal with a serial killer. Certainly in a way that wasn't for entertainment purposes alone. It is surprising that such a subject like this was allowed to be played in the 1930's. Lang has also shown great eye for detail in the plot as he has in its visually making. I was immensely impressed with how he has shown what mass hysteria starts. We see this as the child murders increase and people start pointing the finger at each other willy nilly. In several scenes two men are falsley accused in the street and subsequently mobbed and assaulted. True to life stuff and I felt revoltion at it all as it was a true reflection of the mass ( or mob ), and society.

 I also liked how Lang then shows how the police and authorities react to the murders. They quickly realise asking for the publics help is more a hinderance than a help due to the constant false accusations and mass hysteria. For me M shows that nothing changes as people of 80 years ago react the same way as we would today. M isn't about a particularly pleasant subject dealing as it does with child murder, which brings out strong emotions in us all. I think Lang has produced a very prescient view on humanity when it comes to this. The police and their efforts to apprehend Beckert are very well played as Lang shows their scientific approach to their work. The frustartions they feel are palpable as the presure mounts on them from the public and local authorities. This isn't a film just from the murderer's point of view but also from that of those charged with stopping him. There is no sentimentality displayed and the grittiness is superb from all the players.

Peter Lorre as Hans Beckert.
 The best scene for me is when the murderer, Hans Beckert ( played brilliantly by Peter Lorre ), is put on trial by the local criminal element. It reminds me so much of Humbert Humbert, the pervert of Lolita. Both he and the murderer know they have perverted tastes that aren't considered normal. They both go through life both loving their 'tastes', and yet knowing they are heavily burdened by them since they have to satisfy the 'hunger' to find relief. When Beckert breaks down screaming 'I can't help it, I can't help it', Lorre is quite brilliant as the viewer feels both revulsion and sympathy with his character. It was at this point I was amazed that a film with this subject matter was made in 1931.

 There have been many serial killer movies made over the years and yet I consider M by far the best of them. When  Beckert breaks down and confesses his perversions and self loathing, more than any other film, M comes the closet to what a serial killer is really about. Simply a sick twisted person who can't help their pervesrions and has to kill to feel better. We see the same thing in the muderer in Alice Sebold's novel, The lovely Bones. I liked M because the murders aren't shown. OK it is 1931 and it wouldn't have been accepted but when the shot of the ball running away is seen it leaves no doubt at to what has happened. It is refreshing as for me it shows that the unseen can be far more powerful thatna gruesome slow-mo shot of a person being sliced and diced. ( Think of the shower scene in Psycho as an example ).

 M is just much more than The Silence of the Lambs for instance. That relied on thrills and graphic violence and gore whereas M is more subtle in its approach. For me the murderer of M is the more chilling because he is seen for what he is , just a simple flesh and blood man, whereas Hannibal Lecter is made into an anti-hero. Where  we should be repulsed by him we instead watch and glory in his perversions as entertainment. For me M is the best of any serial killer film made because it isn't entertaining and deals with an appalling subject with extreme objectivity. I've never been fond of movies that glorify the likes of Beckert, Lecter, Jigsaw, etc, and turns them into anti-heros.

 M is a superb film, and even though 80 years old is still the best look at serial killers. Peter Lorre is quite brilliant especially when he breaks down and confesses his perversion. It is a great scene. But as film, and a piece of cinematic history , then M steps up into another league. Any film aficianado will love M for the brilliantly made film it is. It is as flawless as could be made in 1931 and much of what Lang achieved in it resonates in modern cinema. It is one of those rare films where you watch a great script and acting backed with superb film-making. There is nothing here I can criticise or fault, and after some of the mainstream awfulness I've watched recently it was a pure pleasure to watch a truely great piece of cinema.

 M is in a word compulsory viewing. For me it is one of the greatest film ever made. It may be dated visually, but it was a brilliantly made film in 1931 which any true film aficianado will appreciate for what Fritz Lang achieved. The performance of Peter Lorre is brilliant and quite unforgetable. Also Lang has given us a look at society in general and provides a warning at the end of the of the film in that we all have a responsibility to keep our children safe. M is the serial killer film to beat all serial killer films because it deals with the subject in a clear cut way and doesn't make Hans Beckert out to anything else but a sick man who needs help.

 Brilliant, quite brilliant. A damn good example to all as to what makes a truely great film great.

Click here for a synopsis and more:

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Spellbound By Beauty - Donald Spoto

 Donald Spoto has forged a career out of writing celebrity biographies. His biography entitled Enchanctment on Audrey Hepburn I feel is one of the better Hepburn biographies written. But when it comes to Hitchcock Spoto comes a litle unstuck. He wrote a tome like biography entitled The Dark Side of Genius which has divided opinions deeply, and brought a heap of condemnation upon his head in the process. 

 Donald Spoto intially wrote a book on Hitchcock's movies which was highly praised when released, even by Hitchcock himself. The problem arose when he then published his biography three years after Hitchcock's death in which he seemed to viciously turn on Hitchcock. This in turn lead many to believe he had had knifed Hitchcock in the back after he had endorsed his book and provided Spoto with many private interviews of which Spoto made much light of. I have looked at the various reviews on amazon which overall appear favourable ( 4 out of 5 stars ), but still as a whole there is a lingering feeling of ill-will surrounding Spoto's biography.

 I am in the process of reading Alfred Hithcock : A Life in Darkness and Light by Patrick McGilligan who is not shy in pointing out some of Spoto's less convincing arguments. I haven't read Spoto's biography but so far McGilligan's book is very authoritive and  I cannot escape the feeling that some of the critisim directed towards Spoto's is very well founded. But in saying that if you have taken the time to read my previous biography reviews you will have seen that I state that biographies are a difficult genre to write as you will always encounter controversy and critisims. My own feeling is that overall Spoto is a quite good celebrity biographer and his books do get good reviews. If he writes one that isn't so good then he can be forgiven that in light of his better ones.

 The title to this particular book is fairly obvious in regards to its content. It is a look at the actresses Hithcock worked with on his films from his days in Britain through to Tippi Hedren in Marnie. The main emphasis being  Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly, Kim Novak, and Hedren. As a book it reads very much like Charlotte Chandler's in which the main protagonists have been interviewed and speak in their own words. As with all Spoto's works the writing is crisp and clear, with many anecdotes and snippets of interesting information.

 But I couldn't escape the feeling that as a work it is no more than the editings of his Hitchcock biography. The chapters are rather short and made up of very brief paragraphs. The overal feeling of it being a cobbled together left overs from another book is palpable. I think the length of only 197 pages tends to back up this view. There is nothing as such that Chandler in her book hasn't written, except that Spoto has gone somewhat deeper in Hitchcock's sexual harrassment of Tippi Hedren. Except for the chapter dealing with Hedren the rest of the book offers nothing new as such. It has two photo sections with some photos I haven't seen before and is well presented, but it still isn't a book I would willingly pay for and add to my collection.

 As a book it is worth reading if you have a rainy day in hand as it is quickly read and light in the process. But overall Spoto hasn't exactly added anything new to our knowledge of Hitchcock. Maybe only when it came to his treatment of Tippi Hedren has Spoto expanded on Hitchcock's less savoury aspects, but his bawdy, lewd schoolboy jokes told in front of his leading ladies is nothing new. In essence Spoto hasn't even come up wth any sort of new thesis for Hitchcock's attitudes towards women. Certainly it is common knowledge he was never happy with his physical apperance and was morbidly obese of which women were never going to be attracted to. But one feels his attitude ran deeper than just this.

  What I found interesting though is how Spoto puts forward the argument that Hitchcock lost interest in films after Tippi Hedren spurned his advances. He went through with his threats to ruin her career when she refused to have sex with him and many Hitchcock  partisans blame the quality of his susequent films decline on Hedren after Marnie!!! I think it is disgusting that these same partisans can blame Hedron for this alone as he also treated Diane Baker in the same way. By that stage of his life Hitchcock had clearly lost the ability to control himself and no woman is to blame for that. I can see why Melanie Griffith calls him a 'motherfucker'!!!

  Overall Donald Spoto has written a book that feels like the edited out bits from his 1983 biography of Hitchcock. It isn't a poor book but I can't exactly condone his motives for publishing it as it feels like nothing more than a money grab. The information and arguments he puts forward are nothing new and have been written about before in many preceding Hitchcock books. But as a light introductory read to Hitchcock then it is a good place to start. But for more seasoned readers and students of this film making genius with a flawed personality due to his looks and weight ( which he himself acknowledged ), then this book probably isn't worth your time.

 Not one of Spoto's best I'm afraid. Recommended for a day of really bad weather as you will be able to quickly whizz through it with too much effort. But certainly not a book for those with a serious knowledge of Alfred Hitchcock.

 Click here for a review from the New York Times:

 I also recommend a visit to amazon as it is a useful tool in gauging the quality of a book as there are many reviews avaliable. I think they give a fair indiction of this book with 2 1/2 stars out of 5.

The Great Gatsby

' Rich girls don't marry poor boys'

Daisy Buchanan to Jay Gatsby.

 Well after the train wreck on my senses that was Super 8 last week I decided to stay in and rent some DVD's rather than go the flicks this week and subject myself to The Green Lantern. The weapon of mass destruction of quality film making called CGI just held no appeal I'm afraid.

 I have read F.Scott Fitzgerald's novel and liked it. I have reviewed it on my other blog, An Intellectual Mediocrity,  if you are interested in my views of this most famous of American novels. There have been three adaptations of the novel since 1948 of which this is the 1974 attempt. I believe there is another one in the pipeline to be made in 3-D. Why I shall never know as it highlights mainstream Holywood's mania for re-makes and lack of original thinking. It is like 'hey we've made this three times already so lets do it again!!'

 This particular version was not well recieved by critics when released as they stated it lifeless and unsympathetic to the jazz age. All this even though it was acknowledged to be faithful to the novel. I agree about the second assessment as it is a very good adaptation of it and for that I was pleased. But unsympathtic to the jazz age? I think that was a critism too far as the novel may be based in that era but it isn't the heart and soul of the novel. I thought the score was excellent and the 'swing' dancing and party scenes superbly choreographed. The jazz feel perfectly replicates that of the novel scene for scene, so as an adaptation what more did the critics expect?

 The critism of it being 'lifeless' I can understand, but I can't call it exactly that as such. For me it felt too much like a 1970's film trying to portray the 1920's. I found the actresses make-up that of a 1970's woman and it glaringly showed. Sure they had the clothes and jewellery but the make-up didn't match. Lois Chiles was the most obvious. She was a genuinely beautiful woman in her day but her beauty is highlighted in the 1970's manner not the 1920's. This was extenuated by the fact that there are numerous close-ups of the actresses faces throughout the film and it just highlighted this error in the make-up. The women cast members look fantastic but they are made up out of era.

 The make-up is my only gripe visually as the film as whole won an Oscar for its costumes which are superb and add the 1920's 'air'. Only one goof leaped at me and that was when Gatsby was shot. If you look closely the pistol is unloded!! It is a revolver and quite clearly none of its six chambers has a bullet in it. It is a very minor detail but it made me laugh considering the lavish detail put into the dress, settings, and vehcles. So over-all the film works beautifully in bringing to life the novel. Again I don't think it is lifeless, it is more that it just doesn't quite shake of a patina of 1970's-ness. It is a visual thing rather than a scriptual one.

 The settings are wonderful and really bring to light what serious wealth and money can buy. The houses...oops...mansions, are huge and pretensious. I personally found them vulgar and couldn't live in them. The two mansion used were both in Rhode Island and yet the interior scenes for the Buchanan one were filmed at Pinewood Studios in England, along with several of the outdoor driving scenes.

 Francis Ford Coppola is accredited with the script but he later stated it wasn't used and the final product bears no resemblance to his. I believe Truman Capote was originally used but replaced by Coppola, and even Vladimir Nobokov of Lolita fame was called in to re-write some of the scenes. It may have had scriptural problems but the end result doesn't mirror them. The only thing that I didn't like was how Nick Carraway meets Gatsby. In the novel he just happens to be standing next to Gatsby and inadvertently finds out who is that way. In the film he is taken upstairs and meets him in a private room. It may be just to make the scene quieter than that with a party backdrop but it was somewhat diasappointing as it is one of my favorite scenes from the novel.

 The cast is very good. Robert Redford was praised for his performance of Jay Gatsby and rightly so. But for me Sam Waterston as Nick Carraway was the stand out as the narrator. He, like Redford, really captures his character and the two together really made the film. Bruce Dern wasn't bad asTom Buchanon but he just didn't quite have the sneering arrogance of the novel's Tom. He also wasn't quite big enough as Tom in the novel is an ex-football player who backed up his arrogance with physical size and intimidation. ( Interestingly Jack Nicholson, Steve McQueen, and Warren Beatty were intially considered for the role of Gatsby ).

 Mia Farrow ( who was pregnant during filming, hence the flowing clothes ), wasn't so much mis-cast as mis-directed I feel. As Daisy Farrow is more ditzy and air-headed than the bored, pampered, monied too soon in life, Daisy of the novel. She doesn't capture the inherent moral softness of Daisy and her virtual uselessness as a human being to do anything for herself. She certainly gave a performance of beauty and money, but just didn't have the 'air'. Just like Dern who lacked Tom's 'air' of arrogance, the pair just aren't quite convincing enough as the money corrupted Buchanans. ( Funnily enough Chiles was first considered as Daisy before being given the role of Jordan Baker. Cybil Shepard, Faye Dunaway, and Candice Bergen are among others considered for Daisy ). 

 I liked Lois Chiles though. Beautiful and morally corrupted by too much wealth she perfectly captured the snobbery and immorality of Jordan Baker. Sure she is beautiful but she is totally repugnant as a person. For me she was the standout female performer of the film. Karen Black is great as Tom's mistress but I couldn't escape the feeling that both Farrow and Black's characters were too similar in performance. Wilson is ditzy and well played, it is Farrow's Daisy that isn't quite right. All the same Black did manage to win a Golden Globe for her performance.

 As usual it is easy to find faults and nit-pick but overall for its poor reception this adaptation was well recieved by the public and made a profit three times that of its budget. Besides the 1970's make-up of the actresses, and the not quite on target portrayals of the Buchanans, I feel overall this isn't a bad film. I enjoyed it because it is a very faithful adaptation of an extremely famous and important piece of American literature. I dispute the claim of its supposed unsympathtic jazz era feel as that is only the story's backdrop not its centrality. The sets and costumes are perfect, and overall the performances are extremely good. Even though Dern and Farrow aren't quite 'there' as the Buchanans their performances are exceptionally good. But Robert Redford and Sam Waterston are the real standouts and get into their respective characters perfectly.

 At 137 minutes long I think as an adaptation this is a very good film. I liked it and think it is far better than it is credited with. Some adaptations stray too far from a novel to be totally unrecognisable except in name. I think the script writers are due high praise for the final product. It is beautifully filmed and I think the party scenes come off extremely well. The score is great and I felt my foot tapping along to it! Whilst not a masterpiece The Great Gatsby is an enjoyable, well made film, which I'm sure that lovers of the novel will say is a faithful adaptation and like in the process.

 Better than given credit for and well worth your time, especially if you have read the novel.

Click here for my review on this famous novel:


Click here for a synopsis and more:

And here for more:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's Only A Movie : Alfred Hitchcock : A Personal Biography - Charlotte Chandler

' Call me Hitch, without the cock.'

 Alfred Hitchcock as he introduced himself.

 The name Alfred Hitchcock needs absolutely no introduction. If it does then your cave needs running back to! Like many celebrities I have picked up bits and pieces about them individually over the years and I find reading a biography can fill in many of the gaps. When I finished this book I realised how much I didn't know about this most famous of directors.

 But there is a problem. This isn't a biography per se. It is more a chronological look at Hitchcock's life as a film maker rather than a biographical look at the man himself. The title is mis-leading as it isn't a biograpy at all. It took me until a third of the book to figure it out and I felt somewhat dis-gruntled and mis-lead as it wasn't what I picked the book up for. I wanted a look at Hitchcock and not an individual look at each of his films. There is nothing wrong with what Chandler has written, it is just mis-labeled. It should read something like The Movies Of Hitch or some such thing. As biography...well, in short it isn't one.

 So with that out of the way the book can be analysed for what it actually is. Hitchcock started his career in the silent film era and was employed to produce the films inter-titles. He was a talented artist who quite literally started on the bottom and worked his way up. The whole book is full of interesting anecdotes about Hitch but it still isn't biographical. Chandler has written something of a mis-mash in detailing Hitch's rise with some quite interesting facts which she fleshes out with interviews she personally conducted with those involved.

 My one concern though is why she waited until 2008 to publish this book as most of the inter-views were conducted at least thirty years ago and the interviewees are all long gone. I couldn't escape a feeling of unease at this because with them all deceased they can't refute anything she has published. I may be wrong but just a pinch of salt may be needed. After all there are other Hitch biographies written that can corroborate or dismis Chandler's views. I also have two more Hitch biographies here to read so I shall soon find out how reliable Chandler is.

 I also feel Chandler is somewhat awestruck by her subject and unwilling to write anything deferential about Hitch. She writes about his sense of humour and his good points, but there is nothing negative, except Mellanie Griffith, daughter of Tippi Hendren , calling him a 'motherfucker'. In essence Chandler has delivered Hitch as she likes to see him rather than show how he actually was. She has failed the test of the biographer in that regard.

 So what Chandler has done in fact is write a short piece on each of Hitch's movies interposd with some of those involved, from Hitch himself, the actors/actresses, script writers, and technicians, etc. It does provide some really interesting reading as she takes you behind the scenes. And in that regard this is what this book is, a look behind the scenes of Hitchcock's many films. She starts from his very early days as a studio's dog's body until 1978 when his health failed.

 I like how Hitch himself recognised in the 1920's and 30's the fact that German cinema was way ahead of Britsh and American of the time. Their film techniques were revolutionary and influenced Hitch enormously. Many of his own films mirror that debt. I was also surprised to know that the use of 3-D has been around since the 1920's! I honestly didn't know that. Hitch saw its use in German cinemas and used it in Dial M for Murder. He was keen on the technique and hoped it wasn't it a 'phase'. Dial Murder itself  had a very limited run in 3-D in theatres.

Things interesting titbits like the fact that no matter the set, or how hot things got, Hitch was always immaculately attired. He never took off his suit jacket, and only wore a short sleeve shirt once, in Marrakesch, for The Man Who Knew Too Much re-make...but still had on a tie!!. He believed in the director setting an example by his appearing professional at all times. He certainly was professional and his sets were legendary for their quietness and efficiency. Sky larking and practical jokes were virtually unknown. And little snippets like the fact the utterly lovely Grace Kelly was supposed to star in On the Waterfront but pulled out to star in Rear Window solely to be directed by Hitch. Oh!... and the blood in the famous shower scene of Psycho was actually chocolate sauce!!!

 The book itself is nicely presented with quite big text. It is easily readable ( I read it in one day ), consise and clear. The photo section is reasonable but could maybe have done with a few more. There is one of Grace Kelly that is the best I've ever seen. It is of her, Hitch, and Alma his wife. My god Kelly was a stunning woman, just stunning!! But it has faults. The title suggests the book is a biography but it clearly isn't. If you are expecting one you will be let down and somewhat mystified as to the use of the word 'biography' It is a look at Hitch's movies through the use of interviews by those involved. That is not a biography. Also Chandler is like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights, she is too awestruck by Hitchcock and too unwilling to write about his dark side, an important facet of the man. But if you want a light introduction to Alfred Hitchcock then this is a good place to start.

 I give this a 5/5 only because it isn't a biography when it quite clearly promotes itself as one. It has some useful snippets of information , but overall it is a neither here nor there type book, as it doesn't quite know what it actually is. Readble yes, essential reading, no.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Clark Gable : Tormented Star - David Bret

 Clark Gable's name will be forever synonymous with that of Rhett Butler, a part he was extremely reluctant to play and forced into. I've been fortunate to have seen two of Gables' better films Possessed and Wife vs.Secretary on the big screen but realised I knew very little about him as a man and his overall career. This book is only 270 pages long and quite nicely presented so I thought I'd delve and learn more on this Hollywood legend.

  Well it is fair to say that this biography was one the poorest I have ever read. By page 270 Clark Gable had at no stage made an entrance and I still know virtually nothing about his character or even feel like I had read of an actual person. Bret takes us through nothing more than anecdotal look at Gable, and worse still writes pages of un-neccesary synopsis on each of Gables' movies. At no time does Bret explore Gable the man and what made him tick or even attempt to project any sort of character assessment. To my mind getting inside the subject should be a biographers objective and sadly Bret doesn't even try.

 What Bret has essentialy achieved is nothing more than a 270 page book of sordidness. The whole book read like the ridiculous forum letters out of Penthouse magazine. Every second page is about cock, hole, riding, cock, fuck, cock, homos, pubic hair, cock, sucking, foreskin, this orifice, that orifice.....oh, and cock. Think I'm kidding?? Then read the following, and I assure you they are all lifted from the book. I  have added the page number as corroboration:

'...an imprint of his uncircumsised cock'! p 97.

' Clark suffered from premature ejaculation, and from acute phimosis - an inability to retract his foreskin...that left him with odour problems below......I can't stand a man who does'nt keep his ...cock clean...I hear he shoots too soon....a special gift..a cake of soap and a bottle of listerene...the accompanying note...Clark dear - the soap is to clean out the cheese beneath your foreskin and the Listerene to take away the smell.' p 110.

'...when Bogart was standing next to Clark at a men's room urinal....after doing some pecker checking....Bogie suggested a helpful surgical operation for Gable's penis...' p 111.

'..Clark's tiny meat.' p 118.

' Inside was a hand knitted cock-sock and a card...Don't let it get cold. Bring it home hot for me.' p 140.

' I've had my cock sucked by five of the biggest names in Hollywood, all of them guys!' Attributed to James Dean. p 228.

 See what I mean?!! The whole book is riddled with this sort of sordidness. I'm not a prude and realise that movie stars do their fair share of bed hopping but Bret just delves into the world of sleaze and turgidness. I was not impressed and wondered how seriously he actually wants to be taken as a biographer. I think he is nothing more than a tabloid writer at best who can't lift his abilities and sights above trashiness.

 He basically trys to sell the premise that Gable was a homosexual and when first in Hollywood was a 'fucks for buck's kind of a guy. In other words, a prostitute. He then says Gable tried to shake of the 'homo' image be 'fucking' lots of women to appear more 'manly' and started to act homophobic. If Gable was actually gay then Bret should have adopted a more professional approach and backed his arguments up with real reasearch and use of endnotes. All he has achieved is a 270 page article of smuttiness that doesn't bear up under scrutiny. By the end I wondered if there were ever any hetro-sexual's in  Hollywood as Bret seemingly would have us believe they were all 'fags', 'homos', or 'carpet munchers', ( his use of words ).

 Ulimately David Bret is nothing more than a gossip that prefers to listen to slander and innuendo whilst ignoring any actual facts by not looking for them. Gable's whole life is brushed over with anecdotes and I still don't know how he really got into acting and made his way to Hollywood. Once in movies all Bret does is write the sordiness such as the legendary dust-ups with powerful mogul Louis B. Mayer, the many sham marriages ( with many references to his 'cock' ), and very little of worth about his career and how he felt and percieved it. All the things a reader of a biography wants to know about the subject Bret failed to deliver on. Except one thing...Gable's 'cock'. I know more about Gable's genitals than I do about Gable the man, and that is the crux of Bret's biography. It is nothing more than a sordid, smut fest that will titilate the less intelligent and antagonise the rest.

 When I have a serious look at this I can honetly say all I learnt about Gable is that he had bad teeth which gave him terrible halitosis. He was born William Clark Gable and his mother died after giving birth to him. His step mother then died and he never liked his father...um...um...and ...and...yeah you get the picture don't you?! Even the photo section is poor with only nine photos, and only of Gable with his wives and several leading ladies. Nothing with his houses, his movie roles, etc, Just nothing you would expect to see in a biography. Bret's main angle is just sex to the detriment of anything else about Clark Gable.

 Clark Gable : Tormented Star then is a very poor biography. Why call it 'tormented star' and then fail to tell the reader why? As a biography it is a 270 page load of turgid gossip lifted straight from the pages of a trashy magazine. I really can't understand or abide books like this being published as they add nothing to the world of knowledge or culture.