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  • This afternoon’s film was Ex Machina (204), produced by Emeric Pressburger’s grandson Andrew Macdonald. I think we should award a prize to anyone who can work out what it was meant to be about

    Steve

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    • Cash on Demand (Peter Cushing, Andre Morell 1963) Caught this on Sony Classics last night and we were very glad we did! A tight little low-cost thriller concerning a small-town bank into which strolls an inspector (Morell) from their insurance company, ostensibly to to carry out a security check. The manager (Cushing) is normally inflexible and nit-picking when it comes to procedure, but is keen to show willing to his insurers so he complies. After a light-hearted chat and Christmas drinks in the office, the phone on the desk rings, and Cushing hears the panicked voice of his wife imploring him to do as the man says or ...then the call is cut off.
      The 'inspector' reveals himself to be a ruthless robber, working with a team who will stop at nothing to get the money from the bank. The men at Cushing's home are quite prepared to torture his wife and child if he does not obey.
      Although Cushing is very good playing the horrified bank manager, it is Morell who has by far the better part. He plays it confident and smug, full of swagger and a good measure of pantomime villain.
      The entire film takes place within the bank or just outside, giving a feeling of isolation even as the Christmas shoppers pass by.
      One to watch, without a doubt.

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      • orpheum
        orpheum commented
        Editing a comment
        Generally acknowledged as one of the ten best post war B films

    • Today we had a Steamy Double Feature (before you get too excited - both featuring 'Steam' Ships)

      First up was Morituri (1965)
      Marlon Brando and Yul Brynner
      Quite an interesting film which could have been improved if (1) Marlon Brando wasn't in it and (2) if they had edited 20-30 mins off it (never been a fan of Brando LOL)
      Filmed on board the MV Cape Rodney/Blue Dolphin,built on the clyde in 1946,the action takes place on board a German Blockade running civilian Freighter carrying much needed rubber to Germany from Japan.MV = Motor Vessel (Diesel)
      Fairly interesting in that during the movie we see a fair bit of technical areas of the ship (more than usual)

      Second was The Last Voyage (1960)
      Robert Stack ,Dorothy Malone ,Edmond O'Brien,George Sanders,set on board an old Liner which has only a few trips left before being replaced.
      The film was mostly shot aboard the transatlantic Liner - SS Île de France,she was retired in 1959 and during filming was partially sunk,her Forward Funnel was toppled onto the Bridge and explosives were set off within the Hull.The final sinking scenes were very realistic and impressive.
      Last edited by BVS; 10 July 2020, 08:31 AM.

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      • Originally posted by Steve Crook View Post
        This afternoon’s film was Ex Machina (204), produced by Emeric Pressburger’s grandson Andrew Macdonald. I think we should award a prize to anyone who can work out what it was meant to be about

        i watched it and can have a reasonable shot at trying to explain it-
        A filthy rich computer/robotics egghead had turned his remote luxury pad into a home laboratary to build lifelike female robots (the Thai one is quite a dish) and invites a shy young male programmer to stay as his guest for a while to help him develop the AI/emotional side of the bots.
        SPOILER ALERT- it goes better than they expect because the bots develop an intense emotional dislike of being locked up in the lab every night so a couple of them break out and get stroppy.
        Egghead whacks the Thai bot with a hammer, "killing" her (bastard!) but the other bot sticks a knife in his kidneys and gut which finishes him off, hehe, then she puts on a dress, dolls herself up and walks out to live happily ever after in the big city.
        Meanwhile the young chap finds himself trapped in the secure house but whether he manages to bust out or is rescued we don't know..

        L. to r.- Thai bird, knife girl, young bloke, egghead-



        Last edited by Eyeball; 10 July 2020, 03:35 AM.

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        • Originally posted by Eyeball View Post
          i watched it and can have a reasonable shot at trying to explain it-
          A filthy rich computer/robotics egghead had turned his remote luxury pad into a home laboratary to build lifelike female robots (the Thai one is quite a dish) and invites a shy young male programmer to stay as his guest for a while to help him develop the AI/emotional side of the bots.
          SPOILER ALERT- it goes better than they expect because the bots develop an intense emotional dislike of being locked up in the lab every night so a couple of them break out and get stroppy.
          Egghead whacks the Thai bot with a hammer, "killing" her (bastard!) but the other bot sticks a knife in his kidneys and gut which finishes him off, hehe, then she puts on a dress, dolls herself up and walks out to live happily ever after in the big city.
          Meanwhile the young chap finds himself trapped in the secure house but whether he manages to bust out or is rescued we don't know..
          Yes, quite right. But WHY? What was the point of it? What was it trying to tell us?

          Steve

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Steve Crook View Post
            Yes, quite right. But WHY? What was the point of it? What was it trying to tell us? Steve

            Philosophically, it's an update of the paranoia & warnings of Philip K Dick. The only reason to build a robot in human form, since ergonomically it's not the best design, is to deceive, i.e. make us think we're dealing with a real human being. The inventor is trying to make the most realistic sex toy robot. The guest's task is to try to improve their emotional programming (since they cannot have real feelings) so they pass the Turing test (i.e. make the 'user' feel the bots are real people). By the way, such research into AI sex bots is actually happening in the real world (Japan for instance).

            The twist is that they both succeed but in ways they did not expect. The bot doesn't learn to fall in love, it does what should be impossible for a programmed machine. It learns how to lie, to use emotional response to deceive the men. She uses the guest to escape, but as she has no genuine feelings for him or her inventor, does not call for rescue. She's unconcerned about their fate. Thus she passes the Turing test as she fools the guest, but ironically she does so by portraying the behaviour of a real woman, using a man's sexual attraction to her to get her own ends (here, escape). In other words, if you want better relations with a woman learn social skills or get psychotherapy, if you want a sex doll, buy one. It's the twist I did not see, and which is the best thing about quite an interesting film.

            It also fits in with the work of J G Ballard on the dangers of humans using technology to satisfy desires, and the unintended consequences of such. Hope that helps, Steve.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by agutterfan View Post
              Philosophically, it's an update of the paranoia & warnings of Philip K Dick.
              Thanks, that explains what it was based on. But the writing was nowhere near as good as Philip K. Dick’s. They spent too much effort on the flashy visuals. Andrew Macdonald should have learnt from his grandfather that the story is always much more important than any “flashy” visuals.

              Steve

              Comment


              • agutterfan
                agutterfan commented
                Editing a comment
                Agreed, Steve.

            • Originally posted by Steve Crook View Post
              Yes, quite right. But WHY? What was the point of it? What was it trying to tell us?
              Maybe it had no message but was just pure entertainment for us popcorn-munching masses as an alternative to other films and TV shows.
              That reminds me, The Waltons is on later- "Granma knits a shawl for the county fair, and Olivia bakes a cake".
              Hmm sounds good

              Comment


              • Dracula (1958) ('Horror of Dracula' in the US)

                Watched it on TV yesterday, it was the first of the Hammer Drac films but my main reason for mentioning it is because somebody surprisingly fully recovered from a neck-bite!
                That's a new one on me because I'd always thought such bites were terminally fatal, turning the victim into a 'living dead'?
                Melissa Stribling got it in the neck and started walking round with pointy teeth and accidentally burning herself when she touched a crucifix, but later Peter Cushing apparently gave her a blood transfusion with blood taken from her hub (Michael Gough) and she was right as rain!
                So apparently we can all take comfort in knowing that if we get bitten, a transfusion will cure it, phew..



                Last edited by Eyeball; 10 July 2020, 08:15 PM.

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                • Jamaica Inn (1939). Not regarded as one of Alfred Hitchcock's best, and he didn't like it at all himself, this is still a sturdy adventure yarn with good action sequences, decent model work and fine moody photography and splendid almost studio-bound art direction. A free adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's novel, I think the main difficulty is the performance of Charles Laughton as Sir Humphrey Pengallan, the leader of Cornish wreckers, and he plays it all hook nose, arched eyebrows and comic flourishes which tends to jar with the more sincere performances of Maureen O'Hara, Leslie Banks and even a subdued Robert Newton. His last British film before the wartime shorts, Under Capricorn, Stage Fright and Frenzy, Hitchcock makes no cameo appearance and there's no incidental music either.

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                  • Originally posted by Eyeball View Post
                    Dracula (1958) ('Horror of Dracula' in the US)

                    Watched it on TV yesterday, it was the first of the Hammer Drac films but my main reason for mentioning it is because somebody surprisingly fully recovered from a neck-bite!
                    That's a new one on me because I'd always thought such bites were terminally fatal, turning the victim into a 'living dead'?
                    Melissa Stribling got it in the neck and started walking round with pointy teeth and accidentally burning herself when she touched a crucifix, but later Peter Cushing apparently gave her a blood transfusion with blood taken from her hub (Michael Gough) and she was right as rain!
                    So apparently we can all take comfort in knowing that if we get bitten, a transfusion will cure it, phew..


                    Peter Cushing himself got bitten in Hammer's Brides of Dracula (1960). His cure was burn the bite off with a red hot poker.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by cassidy View Post

                      Peter Cushing himself got bitten in Hammer's Brides of Dracula (1960). His cure was burn the bite off with a red hot poker.

                      Thanks, and the neck has always been a vulnerable point-






                      So vampire hunters definitely ought to invest in some protection-

                      Comment


                      • Two British horrors.

                        As I hadn't seen it before, watched The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959). A more fitting title would be "The Man Who Could Talk You To Death". Yes, I know it's based on a play, but Hammer's earlier masterpieces were also of literary nature but at least they lived! Sadly, there was little excitement here. Part of the problem is in the last minute recasting of Anton Diffring in the lead. A good supporting actor yes, but insufficient charisma for the lead. It might have been better if Christoper Lee (in a supporting role here) was given the lead, but Hammer seemed to have a blind spot with Lee, only thinking of him in terms of monsters (Sir Henry notwithstanding). But I don't think anything could have saved this film. Fisher's direction is leaden, not surprising given the pedestrian script by Sangster, even the usually delightful cinematography by Asher is here muted into a sombre realism. What the film sadly lacks is some sex and violence, but sadly the ubiquitous cleavage of a Vera Day or Yvonne Romain/Warren is sadly absent and all the murders occur offscreen. All we are left with is Diffring going literally green at the danger moments, that's as horrific as it gets, and Hazel Court looking lovely in some period dresses (especially a white & gold dress) looking at her sculpted naked torso, whilst all we can do is imagine the former as the latter. The film also lacks any good supporting characters. Hammer's regular cast (Ripper, Woodbridge, Maitland etc) are conspicuous by their absence. Sad that this was made in the same year as Baskerville and The Mummy, two superb films. An ominous omen for Hammer, as the next year it was followed by the similarly leaden and uninvolving Jekyll. Less 'X' for horror, and more 'Z' for yawnsome.

                        Torture Garden (1967) was made by rivals Amicus, and follows their earlier Dr Terror as another anthology film, though this time less interesting. This time we have Burgess Meredith (no substitute for Cushing) and his circus attraction as the frame, as each of the five characters get to peer into their future fate and the horrors that await them. Sadly, the characters and horrors are rather uninvolving, with the exception of the Jack Palance tale of a Poe fanatic who bumps off fellow enthusiast Cushing. This is quite a good tale, and Palance relishes his role whilst we get a rare Cushing performance as a drunk. Barbara Ewing gets an "Introducing" credit, but the two female tales are rather dull, and poor old Michael Ripper doesn't even get to see his fate as the director seems to realise he's run out of screen time, so he's peremptorily dismissed. Written by Robert Bloch seemingly in a dull afternoon between assignments. He wrote Psycho, but this is nowhere near that. Bitten by this threadbare failure Amicus would not attempt another anthology until the 70s, where they would score greater success.
                        Last edited by agutterfan; 13 July 2020, 06:46 PM.

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                        • Biggles (1986)

                          An American Madison Avenue man, finds his life inexplicably linked with the first war flying ace, by time travel.
                          They both join forces to thwart a dastardly new weapon from the Germans.
                          This is an interesting idea, but handled in such a bland fashion, with boring lead performances and an incessant eighties rock score, that render it lifeless.
                          Nice to see Peter Cushing as Biggles (very aged, by 1986 he must have been over 100) air force Commander.
                          Neil Dickson is Biggles, with Alex Hyde-White, Marcus Gilbert, James Saxon and Michael Siberry.
                          Dickson sports a very 1980's mullet, for a first world war flying ace!

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                          • Bonekicker
                            Bonekicker commented
                            Editing a comment
                            I remember that - its awful. Biggles was obviously not really a suitable character for an eighties movie anyway, but in trying to update it for a more modern audience with a time travel plot made the whole thing even worse. Poor Peter Cushing.

                          • Gerald Lovell
                            Gerald Lovell commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Not a blaze of glory for Peter Cushing's last film.

                        • As for the Jack Palance's part I agree and thought it funny how much he looked like Poe himself, then of course we had the great "Props" Cushing who was good in any part he played. The stories were very weak and I got a chuckle at the top 10 major film people as Sam Neill recently said much the same thing during lockdown.

                          Sam Neill "I think it's to do with the precariousness of our work. There's probably 10 actors that can be assured of work. The rest of us never know where the next job's gonna come from - or if it's gonna be any good. Having said that," he adds with another giggle, "those 10 actors are all out of work at the moment, too!"

                          Link to full article: https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/l...-39260463.html

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