"Tora Tora Tora" (20th Century Fox, 1970)
A detailed look at the myriad miscalculations and complacencies that lead to Jerry Bruckheimer being able to lay such a giant egg sixty years down the line. This dramatization of the Pearl Harbor saga concentrates on the diplomatic and espionage efforts of the Americans, and the internecine political struggles of the Japanese high command, coupled with their military brilliance and the sheer luck they encountered attacking Hawaii. Most remarkable is the even-handedness with which this film presents both sides of the story, and exposes the follies of both military groups (Japan in making an attack that provoked American mobilization, and the USA for ignoring their not-so-subtle intentions). It's a pretty good narative, although all the characters are strictly defined by their jobs, and there's little exploration of their personalities. Cool historical film, though... worth checking out!
"Pork Chop Hill" (MGM, 1959)
A grim but macho look at trench warfare in the 1950s... Gregory Peck leads his troops up a worthless hill during the waning days of the Korean War, in a tragic pissing contest with the Red Chinese. Although there's a redemptive message tagged onto the end (that we proved to the Reds that Americans have what it takes to stand up to their aggression), this is a pretty bleak and despondent presentation of modern warfare... somewhat in keeping with other contemporary depictations of the Korean War -- the conflict where the phrase "War Is Hell" really stuck. Notable for the additions of Asian and black characters in the de riguer multi-ethnic squadron. The Japanese-American second in command is particularly welcome, although the cowardly African-American deserter is a bit more troublesome. Attempts to tie his character in with civil rights concerns don't help much. Best line of the film: "Where's that 'pushbutton war' we've heard so much about?" "We're the pushbuttons..."
"The Longest Day" (20th Century Fox, 1962)
Klaus Kinski's mannered performance punches a great, gaping hole in the middle of this super-low-budget sci-fi tale, but the guy who played the Max 404 android is pretty interesting to watch. Odd enough to be engaging, but definitely a shoestring production.
"The Affairs Of Dobie Gillis"
"A Canterbury Tale" (1944) (Michael Powell, director)
A loose, WWII-era interpolation of Chaucer... Interesting and unusual look at English rural life & a typically offkilter, Powell-ian slant on the action. It all comes together in the end.
"Force Of Evil" (Republic, 1948)
"Dr. Who And The Daleks" (Republic Studios, 1965)
Slo-o-o-o-o-o-owwwww moving, mildly campy feature film adapted from the beloved BBC-TV show. Peter Cushing takes a turn as the semi-dotty Doctor, and the Daleks are appropriately mechanical. You're better off getting your giggles from the original television episodes.
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