Daily Archives: July 1, 1997

Star Maps

Given its heartfelt sincerity and its desire to adapt some of the tropes of Mexican movie melodrama, I wish I could recommend this American independent feature by Latino writer-director Miguel Arteta, but the stilted dialogue and camera style make this difficult. After spending two years in Mexico with his grandparents, a young Mexican-American (Douglas Spain) returns to Los Angeles; though he aspires to be a Hollywood actor, his pimp father (Efrain Figueroa) puts him to work as a roadside prostitute selling maps of the stars… Read more »

Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation

Maybe this isn’t 60s family entertainment at its absolute worst, but it’s still pretty awful. Henry Koster, the resident hack at Fox who directed The Robe, does what he can, which isn’t much, with a comic tale by Edward Streeter (Father of the Bride) about the mishaps of a family renting a house on the ocean for the summer. Shot in CinemaScope; with James Stewart, Maureen O’Hara, Fabian, John Saxon, Marie Wilson, Reginald Gardiner, and John McGiver. (JR)… Read more »

Pushover

From the Chicago Reader (July 1, 1997). — J.R.

Pushover-hi-fi

pushover-1954

Richard Quine, a sometime actor best known today for his career as a director at Columbia in the 50s and early 60s, never became a cult hero, but a surprising number of his pictures hold up pretty well. This is one of them, a 1954 noir item with echoes of Double Indemnity. An aging cop (Fred MacMurray) falls in love with a bank robber’s girlfriend (Kim Novak in her first major role, and if you’re as much of a pushover for her early work as I am, you can’t afford to miss this). Adapted by Roy Huggins from two novels — Thomas Walsh’s The Night Watch and William S. Ballinger’s Rafferty; with Phil Carey, Dorothy Malone, and E.G. Marshall. (JR)

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Tight Spot

The neglected but powerful noirmeister Phil Karlson shows how good he can be in this taut 1955 thriller about a former gangster’s moll (Ginger Rogers, no less) who agrees to work for the police. The script is by William Bowers; with Edward G. Robinson and Brian Keith. (JR)… Read more »

My Name Is Julia Ross

A fairly remarkable B-feature directed by the remarkable Joseph H. Lewis (Gun Crazy), this 1946 gothic noir stars Nina Foch at her most effective as a woman who answers a newspaper ad and winds up as the prisoner of a crazy family. Only 65 minutes long and dripping with low-budget resourcefulness. With Dame May Whitty and George Macready. (JR)… Read more »

Bang

This lively, very-low-budget exploitation film follows a young Japanese-American woman (Darling Narita) in Los Angeles as she’s evicted, groped by a film producer who’s pretending to audition her, and nearly raped by a motorcycle cop. After getting hold of the cop’s gun, handcuffing him to a tree, and making off with his uniform and bike, she gets a chance to see how his gear affects other people, not to mention herself. The first feature of a London-born writer-director who calls himself Ash, this was shot without permits, using a handheld camera and long takes. It’s an amateur effort in the best sense: raw, angry, often bordering on incoherence, but never less than watchable and full of renegade insights about the differences between the haves and the have-nots. The only familiar face here is Peter Greene (Laws of Gravity), hyperbolically acting up a storm as a homeless eccentric; Narita shows some uncertainty in spots but remains a striking figure, and everyone else manages to be energetic at the very least. Originally titled The Big Bang Theory when a somewhat longer cut went out on the festival circuit a couple of years ago. (JR)… Read more »