Category Archives: Sean Connery

Blu-Ray Review: Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure (1959).

Directed by John Guillerman
Produced by Sy Weintrab
Screenplay by Bern Giler & John Guillerman
From a story by Les Crutchfield
Cinematography: Ted Scaife

Gordon Scott (Tarzan), Anthony Quayle (Slade), Sara Shane (Angie), Niall MacGinnis (Kruger), Sean Connery (O’Bannion), Al Mulock (Dino), Scilla Gabel (Toni)

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Right off the bat, I have to admit I’m not much of a Tarzan fan. But Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure (1959) is a solid attempt to do something a little different with Edgar Rice Burroughs’ character. Some say the idea was to take the ape man back to Burroughs’ original intent — for one thing, Gordon Scott gets to speak in complete sentences. Whatever they were trying to do, they ended up with a tight, tough action picture — with Tarzan driven to take out some really nasty bad guys.

The previous Tarzan’s had been Johnny Weissmuller and Lex Barker, and by this time, Gordon Scott was no stranger to the role and seems quite comfortable. He’d only don the loin cloth one more time, in Tarzan The Magnificent (1960), before starring in a series of peplum pictures. By the way, Cheetah makes an appearance, but there’s no Jane.

A gang of crooks, lead by the heinous Slade (Anthony Quayle), massacre a village to get a stash of explosives — which they will use to access a diamond mine. Tarzan heads after them to set things right. Along the way, he encounters a lovely pilot named Angie (Sara Shane) who follows him along the river to the final encounter with Slade and his cohorts.

The real selling point for Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure has become the chance to see a pre-Dr. No Sean Connery. He’s one of Slade’s slimy bunch, and he’s perfectly sweaty and sinister. But this picture’s more than a curiosity or the answer to a trivia question.  There’s plenty to recommend it. Along with what I’ve already mentioned, it was shot on location in Kenya, which gives it a certain edge. And Quayle is really terrific — a formidable foe for the Lord Of The Apes.

The location work is one of the picture’s real strengths, and something highlighted in the new Blu-Ray from Warner Archive. The color’s quite good, the framing is dead-on, and while the sharpness fluctuates from shot to shot at times (location vs. studio, perhaps?), on the whole it looks terrific. As a Bond-crazy kid, I watched this on local TV in the mid-70s — the 16mm print had turned so red, it looked like Tarzan was on Mars (where he did eventually travel to, didn’t he?). This Blu-Ray was a great way to rediscover a solid adventure picture. Recommended.

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Filed under 1959, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Gordon Scott, Sean Connery, Warner Archive

Dialogue Of The Day: Goldfinger (1964).

Q (Desmond Llewelyn): Now this one I’m particularly keen about. You see the gear lever here? Now, if you take the top off, you will find a little red button. Whatever you do, don’t touch it.

James Bond (Sean Connery): Yeah, why not?

Q: Because you’ll release this section of the roof, and engage and then fire the passenger ejector seat. Whish!

James Bond: Ejector seat? You’re joking!

Q: I never joke about my work, 007.

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Filed under 1964, Dialogue Of The Day, Guy Hamilton, James Bond, Sean Connery

RIP, Lewis Gilbert.

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Lewis Gilbert (left) directs Sean Connery and Donald Pleasance in You Only Live Twice

Lewis Gilbert
(March 6, 1920 – February 23, 2018)

Lewis Gilbert, who directed the underrated James Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967), has passed away at 97. In a couple more weeks, we would’ve been 98. You Only Live Twice gets a lot of flack, but to me it’s a knockout — from the incredible sets by Ken Adam to one of John Barry’s best Bond scores to the fact that Sean Connery hits a guy with a sofa! It’s big, loud and a bit obnoxious, and I love it.

He also directed the hip and influential Michael Caine movie Alfie (1966). Then there’s the terrific Sink The Bismark! (1960), with Kenneth Moore, Dana Wynter, Michael Hordern and some outstanding model work — all in black and white CinemaScope. It’s just a great thing all-around.

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Filed under 1960, 1966, 1967, James Bond, Lewis Gilbert, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, United Artists

RIP, Karin Dor.

Karin Dor
(February 22, 1938 – November 6, 2017)

I love You Only Live Twice (1967). And I hated to see that Karin Dor, seen above with Sean Connery, had passed away.

With Lex Barker in The Torture Chamber Of Dr. Sadism (1967).

Like so many of the Bond girls from the 60s, Ms. Dor appeared in a lot of other cool things. You’ll also find her in The Face Of Fu Manchu (1965) with Christopher Lee, Hitchcock’s Topaz (1969), and a number of German films co-starring Lex Barker — such as The Invisible Dr. Mabuse and The Treasure Of The Silver Lake (both 1962). From time to time, she even turns up in American TV shows like Ironside and The FBI.

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Filed under 1967, Alfred Hitchcock, Christopher Lee, James Bond, Sean Connery

Making Movies: Diamonds Are Forever (1971).

It had been a while since I’d seen Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Sean Connery’s last entry in the “official” Bond series, and the followup to my favorite 007 movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), which starred the one-Bond-only George Lazenby.

Much of the picture was shot in and around Las Vegas, so for us in the States, it doesn’t have the exotic, globe-hopping angle the series tends to have. However, it offers a terrific Panavision and Technicolor look at Sin City in the early 70s. Many of the casinos you see in it are now gone.

Another slight disappointment is the absence of Bond’s Aston Martin (either the DB5 from Goldfinger or the DBS seen in OHMSS). He drives a red 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 instead.

Another vehicle is the prototype moon buggy Bond swipes from Willard Whyte’s place.

Connery practiced his golf swing on the moon simulation set. (Actually, judging from behind-the-scenes photos, it looks like he practiced everywhere.)

Connery’s co-star was the lovely Jill St. John. Here they are with an ice cream bar.

And between takes on the offshore oil rig.

Here are Bruce Glover (as Mr. Wint) and Putter Smith (as Mr. Kidd) on location in Amsterdam.

Lastly, dig this preliminary poster design from the great Robert McGinnis.

Diamonds Are Forever, in a way, hints at the tone of the Roger Moore Bonds that were to follow. Guy Hamilton, who directed this and Goldfiinger (1964), would do the first two Moore pictures, Live And Let Die (1973) and The Man With The Golden Gun (1974).

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Filed under 1971, James Bond, Making Movies, Sean Connery

Remembering D-Day.

This is a movie blog, so we’ll pay tribute to those who fought on the beaches of Normandy via color stills from The Longest Day (1962, which is in glorious black and white CinemaScope), itself a tribute to the many sacrifices that helped push World War II toward its end.

Here’s the crew hard at work recreating the events of June 6, 1944.

Richard Burton (as Officer David Campbell) and Richard Beymer (as Private Dutch Schultz). Burton took time off from Cleopatra (1963) to shoot his scenes. Cleopatra was bleeding 20th Century-Fox dry at the time, which had a huge (negative) impact on Darryl Zanuck’s budget for The Longest Day.

Robert Mitchum as Brigadier General Norman Cota.

Richard Todd as Major John Howard. Todd’s voice is one of God’s great gifts to mankind — I would listen to him (or Richard Burton, for that matter) read the phone book.

John Wayne as Lt. Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort.

From the Army’s website: “The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 Soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolf Hitler’s crack troops.”

To quote John Wayne in an entirely different movie (John Ford’s She Wore A Yellow Ribbon): “Lest we forget.”

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Filed under 1962, 20th Century-Fox, John Wayne, Richard Burton, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, Roddy McDowall, Sean Connery

Blu-Ray News #103: Hell Drivers (1957).

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Directed by Cy Enfield
Starring Stanley Baker, Herbert Lom, Peggy Cummins, Patrick McGoohan, William Hartnell, Sean Connery, David McCallum

Cy Enfield’s Hell Drivers (1957) gets my vote as one of the all-time coolest movies to ever come out of the UK. It’s a hard-boiled story of corruption in the shipping business, with Stanley Baker and other blazing through the British countryside in some really bitchin’ trucks — all in gorgeous B&W VistaVision. Of course, Baker and Enfield would get together again to do Zulu (1964).

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This is a terrific action movie. And it’s coming to Blu-Ray from the British label Network Releasing on February 20 with a slew of extras. If you find out if this is Region Free, please let me know! Highly, highly recommended.

Oh, what’s The Heart Within?

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Filed under 1957, Cy Enfield, DVD/Blu-ray News, Sean Connery, Stanley Baker

King Kong Escapes (1967).

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Directed by Ishiro Honda
Written by Takashi Kimura
Special Effects: Eiji Tsuburaya

Cast: Rhodes Reason (Commander Carl Nelson), Akira Takarada (Lt. Commander Jiro Nomura), Linda Miller (Lt. Susan Watson), Hideyo Amamoto (Dr. Who), Mie Hama (Madame X), Susumu Kurobe (Henchman)

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The highly-radioactive Element X can only be found at the North Pole. Madame X (Mie Hama) wants the element for her country, so she enlists the evil genius Dr. Who (Hideyo Amamoto) to retrieve it. Dr. Who knows the only creature capable of digging up the dangerous element is the mighty King Kong, so Dr. Who builds a robot Kong that he can control. The mechanical ape’s circuitry gets zapped by the radiation, leaving Dr. Who with no alternative but to journey to Mongo Island and capture the real King Kong — much to the dismay of the increasingly impatient Madame X.

Dr. Who and Madame X

Dr. Who’s plan becomes even more complicated when Cmdr. Carl Nelson (Rhodes Reason), Lt. Susan Watson (Linda Miller) and Lt. Jiro Nomura of the UN become involved. You see, Kong has a thing for Lt. Watson. Only she can control the beast — which makes her a valuable asset to Dr. Who and his scheme. So he kidnaps her and her cohorts. Before it’s all over, King Kong and Mechani-Kong battle it out atop Tokyo Tower.

King Kong Escapes (1967) is a crazy movie, even by Japanese Kaijū (“strange beast”) movie standards. From the logic of using King Kong to mine radioactive material to the mad scientist and his nagging sponsor, it’s just plains nuts. But these movies exist in a world all their own, where the laws of reason and science are of very little concern.

Linda Miller and some fake monsters

The story of how the movie came to be is almost as crazy. Toho had been very successful with King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962), which was released (heavily modified) in the States by Universal in 1963. In 1966, Rankin/Bass, the stop-motion Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer people, produced a King Kong cartoon, The King Kong Show, animated in Japan. The cartoon featured both Dr. Who and Mechani-Kong. Rankin/Bass entered into a joint venture with Toho, combining story elements from the Rankin/Bass Kong series with Toho’s outstanding technical people and mangy-looking gorilla suit.

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Rhodes Reason, who plays the American commander, is the younger brother of Rex Reason from This Island Earth (1955). Reason dubbed his own voice for English-language prints, while the American model Linda Miller was upset that hers was not used. The great Paul Frees (of Disney’s Haunted Mansion fame) provided the voice of Dr. Who and a number of other characters.

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Mie Hama, who plays Madame X, had just appeared with Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice (1967), the fifth James Bond movie, which was filmed in Japan. Hama, Hideyo Amamoto and Susumu Kurobe can also be found in Key Of Keys (1965), the Japanese spy movie Woody Allen re-worked for What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966).

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In theaters, Universal paired the picture with The Shakiest Gun In The West (1968), a remake of The Paleface (1948) starring Don Knotts. That’s a double feature I would’ve loved as a kid — I was precisely the demographic Universal had in mind. Incidentally, the Japanese version of King Kong Escapes (called Kingu Kongu No Gyakushû) is longer than the US cut.

Ishiro Honda between takes with Mechani-Kong and King Kong

What is it about these movies? They’re ludicrous and obviously aimed at kids. The special effects are both accomplished and pitiful at the same time (consider that Kubrick’s 2001: a space odyssey was in theaters that same summer). The Technicolor and TohoScope cinematography is gorgeous, and some might say it’s wasted on something like this. There’s a sense of wonder to these movies that I attribute to the director, Ishiro Honda, and the special effects crew headed by Eiji Tsuburaya. As a kid, I really liked this one because the monsters had a sizable amount of screen time — back then, my enjoyment of such things was often based on the monster-to-people footage ratio.

By the conventional idea of what constitutes a good movie, King Kong Escapes is way off the mark. But there’s nothing about it that’s conventional. Japanese monster movies are their own thing, and that thing can be pretty wonderful.

Here in the States, you’ll find King Kong Escapes available on both DVD and Blu-Ray, sometimes paired with King Kong Vs. Godzilla. It always looks splendid. The color is eye-popping and it’s sharp enough to reveal every wire on every toy helicopter. For those attuned to this type of nonsense, it comes highly recommended.

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Filed under 1967, Don Knotts, Ishirō Honda, James Bond, Kaiju Movies, Sean Connery, Toho, Universal (-International)

RIP, Ken Adam.

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Sir Ken Adam
(5 February 1921 – 10 March 2016)

Ken Adam, the production designer of the James Bond films of the 60s and 70s, has passed away at 95.

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Adam’s volcano rocket base for You Only Live Twice (1967, above) is jaw-dropping-ly cool — especially on the big screen in Panavision and dye transfer Technicolor. It absolutely floored me the first time I saw it.

He worked for Stanley Kubrick twice: Dr. Strangelove (1964), with the incredible War Room, and Barry Lyndon (1976). Oh, and an early credit came for Night Of The Demon (1957).

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Filed under 1964, 1967, 1976, George C. Scott, George Lazenby, James Bond, Peter Sellers, Sean Connery, Stanley Kubrick

Making Movies: A Bridge Too Far (1977).

Bridge Too Far HS

I was lucky enough to attend a special screening of A Bridge Too Far (1977) here in Raleigh, North Carolina, when it first opened. I was 13. The guy James Caan played, Staff Sergeant Dohun, was there — and he was not happy that Caan dropped an F Bomb in one scene.

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Plastic commandoes ready to litter the bridge.

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Watching and waiting — something that happened in both 1944 and 1977.

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(Sir) Michael Caine (as John Ormsby Evelyn ‘JOE’ Vandeleur) and director (Sir) Richard Attenborough.

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Shooting the harrowing sequence where Robert Redford (as Major Julian Cook) and his men cross the river in flimsy assault boats. “Hail Mary, full of grace…”

I’ve always had a soft spot for A Bridge Too Far. It’s one of the last truly epic war movies, with a few jaw-dropping scenes here and there. And it was a huge moviegoing experience for me. Cornelius Ryan’s book is terrific, too.

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Filed under 1977, Gene Hackman, James Caan, Making Movies, Michael Caine, Richard Attenborough, Robert Redford, Sean Connery