Adventures of Don Juan, 1948, Warner Bros.
Errol Flynn was a great actor from the 1930s through the 1950s. He was a natural athlete, and he was often cast in swashbuckler films, like his first one, Captain Blood, 1935. He became a huge star even with that first film. He was a hard drinker and only lived to be 50 years old, passing away in 1959.
Adventures of Don Juan is one of my favorites.
It stars Flynn as Don Juan de Maraña, in the sixteenth century. He is sent to the Spanish royal court to begin teaching fencing. There, he meets Queen Margaret (Viveca Lindfors) and King Philip III (Romney Brent). He gets into a lot of trouble having affairs with various ladies of the court, and in between affairs, discovers that the Duke de Lorca (Robert Douglas) is attempting to dethrone the King and take it for himself. Below are two screenshots of Don Juan with one of his lady friends.
Notice in the shot above how much of the room above them is seen. I took this opportunity to show what it might have looked like if the movie had been filmed in CinemaScope, which was the rage starting in 1953, just four years after Don Juan was released.
This shot is from a café, where Don Juan and his sidekick Leporello (Alan Hale, Sr.) run into some difficulty with Spanish soldiers trying to induct locals into the army.
Don Juan intercedes, much to the consternation of the soldiers.
Flynn looked a bit puffy in this movie even though he was only 38 years old. Booze was taking its toll.
Viveca Lindfors looked terrific, however.
If you like old movies, this is a good one. It is not available for free on YouTube or other websites but should be there in the streaming services. Plenty of action, romance without nudity, marvelous musical score (typical of Warner Brothers films). Of note: There was no King Philip III of Spain. There was a King Philip II of Spain and Philip III of France.
Broken Arrow (1950), 20th Century Fox.
James Stewart was one of Hollywood’s most successful actors of the golden era. He played all sorts of roles, including westerns. This story is about a federal agent, Tom Jeffords, who tries to stop the Indian war between the Chiricahua Apaches and American settlers in the late 1880s.
He meets an Indian who turns out to be Geronimo, played by Jay Silverheels, who a short time later was Tonto in the Lone Ranger TV series.
Geronimo’s father-in-law, Cochise, played by Jeff Chandler, is the chief of the Apaches and is, at first, very suspicious of Jeffords and his motives.
Jeffords meets Sonseeahray (Debra Paget), and they fall in love, which is a problem since she is Apache and he is a white man.
They meet secretly.
Cochise intercedes for them, and they are married. In the meantime, Jeffords arranges for Cochise not to interfere with the Pony Express mail to show the white men that peace is obtainable.
Cochise breaks an arrow to signify that peace.
However, Geronimo is not convinced, and trouble occurs in the climactic finale.
This one is available free on the Internet.
Debra Paget was only 16 years old when she played her part in this movie. It’s based on a true story.
The Courier, Original release: 2020.
Studio: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel Brosnahan, Jessie Buckley, Merab Ninidze, Angus Wright
Directed by: Dominic Cooke
Synopsis: This movie, when released last year, pretty much slipped under the radar in all the chaotic COVID-19 release schedules. It’s a shame because The Courier is a first-rate spy film.
The film tells the story of reluctant spy Greville Wynne and his Russian source Oleg Penkovsky as they try to put an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis. It’s mostly a true story and one that many of us have likely forgotten.
Still, the story resonates today and the acting of Benedict Cumberbatch, as always, is compelling. Some will compare it to the recent Tom Hanks movie, Bridge of Spies, but I think The Courier is the superior movie in emotional depth and acting from the main characters. Merat Ninidze is excellent in the role of the Russian high-ranking intelligence chief who believed he was helping save the world from a nuclear conflagration. The Courier is not by any means an action movie, but rather a character study of two men who were pushed into action by the predicament of the world.
The movie looks just fine on Blu-ray. Many of the scenes take place at night and in darker rooms, but black levels were always clean, and I saw no evidence of black crush. The color is subdued, but never lifeless, while skin tones are realistic.
The Courier offers a DTS MA 5.1 track. It’s not demonstration quality, nor was it meant to be. Most of the sound in this movie is dialog and it’s always clear. There is weak activity in the surround channels where we hear room ambiance and some light traffic noises for outdoor scenes. The subdued sound is a feature, not a bug. The audio design is just the way this movie should sound. No car crashes, explosions, or hails of bullets, just a natural soundscape.
Some extras included are; On The Brink – Making The Courier: A 29-minute feature in where the cast and crew talk about the original and production of this film. It’s worth a look, and it is more substantial than the usual press kit filler.
We don’t get too many films like this these days from Hollywood. It is a well-crafted and at times very intense look at spycraft and how it affects families as well as countries. It’s a substantial film and well worth a look.
Friday the 13th – 8 Movie collection, Paramount, Blu-ray.
Just when you thought it was safe to swim in Crystal Lake again, Paramount releases this teen slasher horrorfest in time for Halloween (which, of course, is another horror franchise altogether). The first 4 movies have been newly remastered for this release and though they look fine for movies that date back to the ’80s, no one will mistake them for anything other than B movies. The 3rd one actually has dust and an occasional piece of lint crop up on the screen. To its benefit, it had the best use of surround sound and punchy bass. Jason dons the hockey mask in the third installment as well.
Frankly, after watching these (I do not recommend doing this in one sitting), I was struck by the poor acting and repeated storyline throughout. In The Final Chapter (4), we do get Crispin Glover and a very young Cory Feldman. Glover is one of Hollywood’s quirkiest actors and some of his skills are on display at this early time in his acting career. Feldman went on to do The Goonies. After being killed off in 4, the 5th film is aptly named A New Beginning, then Jason Lives, New Blood, and finally Jason Takes Manhattan. Yes, the series makes Jason supernatural and campier, but hey, you can only kill teens with so many implements from the tool shed.
Tom Savini got put on the special effects make-up map with these films and if you grew up as a teen in the 80’s, these films will likely be a trip down memory lane. Still, I can not understand why a girl would go down into a dark basement saying, “Tommy? Is that you down here?” Kids! They never learn…