Review: The Baltimore Bullet

Pool shark Nick Casey (James Coburn) is the title character, who along with his idiot gambler partner/protégé Billie Joe Robbins (Bruce Boxleitner) is headed for a big pool tournament where the winner gets to face off against The Deacon (Omar Sharif), this film’s version of ‘The Man’, whom Casey has some history with. For the most part though, the film is mostly Nick and Billie Joe travelling around and making silly bets and hitting on women. Enter Ronee Blakley, a country singer the duo meet along the way. Jack O’Halloran turns up as a hulking thug with a seeming grudge against one of the pool-playing characters here, Michael Lerner is the chief organiser/emcee of the tournament, while Calvin Lockhart is an effete but dangerous weirdo named Snow White.   Although James Coburn is much more agreeable company than Paul Newman in “The Hustler” , this 1980 pool hustler film is a pretty crummy dry-run for the later “The Colour of Money” . Directed by Robert Ellis Miller (the flawed but

Review: Midway (1976)

As the title suggests, an account of the Battle of Midway in which a small US Navy force is tasked with taking on the much larger Japanese fleet, becoming a pivotal turning point in WWII. Charlton Heston is a Captain whose Navy Lieutenant son (Edward Albert Jr.) is currently dating an American-born Japanese girl currently interned with her parents for security measures. The Japanese are led by Admiral Toshiro Mifune (dubbed by Paul Frees), with Pat Morita and James Shigeta as his subordinates with differing ideas on tactics. Henry Fonda turns up as Mifune’s American counterpart, with Glenn Ford, Robert Mitchum, Robert Webber, Robert Wagner, Cliff Robertson and others playing the various American Navy brass. James Coburn has one scene as a (fictional) Captain, and Hal Holbrook plays a Commander in charge of the Intelligence unit trying to decrypt Japanese Navy codes.   A gigantic cast is predominantly wasted in this dramatically inert 1976 WWII movie from Jack Smight (whose best fil

Review: The Blood Rose

A tortured artist named Lansac (played by Philippe Lemaire) blackmails disgraced doctor Howard Vernon into using his skills in experimental surgery to restore the once beautiful face of his disfigured wife.   Yet another film about a man driven to deadly deeds to restore the once beautiful face of his disfigured love ( “Eyes Without a Face” , “Corruption” , “The Skin I Live In” , etc). This 1970 French film from director Claude Mulot (whose background is in adult entertainment pictures) and his co-writers Jean Carriaga (Mulot’s “Sexyrella” ) and Edgar Oppenheimer (Mulot’s “Manhunt for Murder” with Sydney Chaplin!) is as stuffy and dull as the awfully smug lead performance by Philippe Lemaire, a block of wood if ever I’ve seen one. Mulot is acting like this Franco-esque exploitation trash material is “8 ½” and it results in a film that is no fun at all. Howard Vernon is quite good as a disgraced surgeon, and the film both looks and sounds immaculate. The women are hot, too. I just

Review: Suspect

Professor Peter Cushing leads a scientific team including Tony Britton, Virginia Maskell, and Kenneth Griffith. They’re conducting experiments on super bugs that could work to eliminate bubonic plague and other epidemics. Sewell and the rather impatient Britton would like to publish, but the Minister of Defence (Raymond Huntley) believes that publishing their findings could potentially lead to the bugs getting in the hands of those who wish to do national harm. Just to make sure Cushing and co. stay in line, the Minister employs the services of security officer Thorley Walters, who isn’t quite as daffy and absent-minded as he might appear. Walters in turn enlists Griffith to be his mole on the inside of the laboratory. Whilst Cushing reluctantly accepts the Minister’s order, the rather indignant and hot-headed Britton takes another tact entirely. Sir Ian Bannen plays Maskell’s double-amputee partner in a passionless relationship (she tends to his medical needs, but they’re no longer ro

Review: Hellhole

After killing her mother, Judy Landers manages to get away from scarf-wearing psycho killer Silk (Ray Sharkey). Landers did take a great fall however, injuring her brain. Now an amnesiac, she ends up in a psychiatric facility run by evil Dr. Fletcher (Mary Woronov) and her spineless cohort (Marjoe Gortner). Dr. Fletcher tortures patients with lobotomising experiments in the underbelly of the hospital. Meanwhile, Landers starts to remember things from that awful night when she spots a creepy orderly who looks an awful gosh darn like Silk! Edy Williams plays a nympho, Richard Cox plays a good doctor, and Robert Z’Dar plays a brutal nightstick-brandishing hospital guard.   I don’t bust out the ‘No Rating’ very often. In fact, I’ve only done it a couple of times. It’s basically my go-to when I simply have no idea what to make of a film from a grading standpoint. “Let Me In” received it, despite not being an objectively terrible film – just a pointless and unnecessary remake of a film

Review: Against the Wall

The story of the Attica prison riot in 1971, with second generation guard Kyle MacLachlan being caught in the middle so new to the job. He’s disgusted at the conditions within the prison as well as the brutal behaviour of many of his fellow guards, all of which contribute to the eventual violent unrest. Frederic Forrest plays the most antagonistic of the guards, whilst Clarence Williams III and Steve Harris whoop their fellow prisoners up into a frenzy as the situation gets completely out of control and the power dynamic shifts. Samuel L. Jackson is Jamaal X, who initially stands back and observes, occasionally trying to reason with his more psychotic comrades that killing guards probably won’t get things to improve within Attica. Harry Dean Stanton plays MacLachlan’s dad, Tom Bower is MacLachlan’s uncle and fellow guard, Anne Heche is MacLachlan’s wife, who needs more financial support for their growing family. Carmen Argenziano and Philip Bosco play Superintendent Mancusi and the Cor

Review: Black Gunn

Jim Brown stars as Gunn, owner of the Gunn Club, whose brother Scott (Herbert Jefferson Jr.) has become involved with black revolutionaries (Bernie Casey among them) who commit robberies to afford weapons for their Black Action Group (BAG!) exploits. On their latest heist, the group rob a mob-run gambling house, and Scott nicks off with some cash and mob books that apparently have very prominent names listed. He hides them in a safe at the Gunn club. Unfortunately, it’s the last thing he does before getting bumped off. Now it’s up to Gunn to seek revenge and take on the mob, largely represented here by occasional used car salesman (!) Martin Landau, who works for mafioso Stephen McNally. Bruce Glover and William Campbell play henchmen of varying degrees of efficiency, Brenda Sykes is Gunn’s lady, whilst Luciana Paluzzi plays a glamorous woman whose role in proceedings is meant to be somewhat of a mystery for much of the film (It’s pretty obvious). Gary Conway plays a Kennedy-esque cong