Giant Lizards and Fur Bikinis: ONE MILLION YEARS BC (1966)

raquelJURRASIC WORLD and its CGI dinosaurs have stomped their way to box office domination this year, raking in over five hundred million dollars (and counting). The youth market just eats up those computer generated special effects. But for my money, you just can’t beat the prehistoric hijinks of Hammer Films’ 1966 ONE MILLION YEARS BC. Two reasons: Ray Harryhausen and Raquel Welch.

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Poli-Tricksters: The Marx Brothers in DUCK SOUP (1933)

DuckSoup1When I heard TCM was airing DUCK SOUP tonight, I set the DVR. I got home as soon as I could (after an excellent Tom Rush concert) and began watching before it was finished recording. This is one of my favorite movies of all time, right up there in my personal comedy pantheon with such gems as AIRPLANE! and BLAZING SADDLES. It’s one of the most anarchic comedies ever made, and certainly one of the funniest.  If you think today’s politicians are a bunch of looney tunes, wait til you get a load of these guys.

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An Oddball Bit of Americana: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? (1945)

fred     I’d never heard of this musical fantasy until running  across it while scrolling through channels looking for movies to review. The premise caught my attention and I decided to DVR it and take a look. WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? is definitely dated, with it’s World War 2 slang and constant references to Brooklyn, but is charming enough to merit at least a look.

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Beyond Redemption: 1947’s BORN TO KILL

born to kill

The darker side of man (and woman) is on full display in 1947’s BORN TO KILL. Sex, violence, greed, blackmail, lust, and murder abound in this mean little film. It’s loaded with crackling hard boiled dialogue (example: “You’re the coldest iceberg of a woman I ever saw, with the rottenest insides”) by screenwriters Eve Green and Richard Macauley. BORN TO KILL shows the RKO film noir style at it’s moodiest peak. It’s hard to believe the director is the same man who helmed the sticky sweet Oscar winning THE SOUND OF MUSIC!

Robert Wise got his start in RKO’s sound editing room, graduating to film editor in 1939. He was nominated for Best Editing for Orson Welles’ classic CITIZEN KANE and was soon promoted to the director’s chair, working with producer Val Lewton on psychological horror gems like CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE and THE BODY SNATCHER (with the great terror tandem of Karloff and Lugosi). His resume includes bonafide classics like THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, I WANT TO LIVE!, WEST SIDE STORY, THE HAUNTING, and the aforementioned saga of the Von Trapp Family. But without a shadow of a doubt, his toughest movie is BORN TO KILL.

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Just Plain Xilly: Nick Adams in MONSTER ZERO

I was never a big fan of kaiju eiga movies. I watched them as a 60s Monster Kid in good standing, but much preferred the Universal classics, Technicolor Hammer horrors, and AIP/Poe epics. Those badly dubbed, fake looking Toho flicks just weren’t my cup of gruel.

I was however a fan of Nick Adams. The actor had roles in major films of the late 50s (REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, PICNIC, NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS) and scored big as Johnny Yuma in TV’s THE REBEL (1959-1961). He was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for 1963’s TWILIGHT OF HONOR. Yet a scant two years later, Adams found himself in Japan appearing in low budget nonsense like FRANKENSTEIN CONQUORS THE WORLD and MONSTER ZERO. Continue reading “Just Plain Xilly: Nick Adams in MONSTER ZERO”

Revisiting an Old Fiend: THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK

Recently I switched from cable to DirecTV. As part of my package, I’ve officially joined the DVR generation. This is like being in heaven for an old movie buff like myself. Now I can record films of interest no matter what time they’re on and enjoy them at my leisure. Especially those older black & white gems that air mainly in the wee-wee hours. I can catch up with some classics I’ve only read about over the years but never had the opportunity to view, and those I only have vague memories of watching decades ago on snowy looking UHF channels. Continue reading “Revisiting an Old Fiend: THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK”

Hello world!

Welcome to Cracked Rear Viewer! Join me as I take a look back at classics and clunkers from the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s (with a sprinkle of early 80s for good measure). Focusing on films for now, but my site will always be a work in progress. Grab some popcorn and a box of Raisonettes as we take a Cracked Rear View at fifty years of movie history. Enjoy!