“The Getaway” (1972)

The suspenseful film, “The Getaway,” begins at the Huntsville Penitentiary, in Huntsville, Texas. One of the many inmates serving time, is Carter “Doc” McCoy. The character is portrayed by Oscar nominee, and two time Golden Globe winner, Steve McQueen (The Sand Pebbles). Convicted for bank robbery, he has completed four years of his ten year sentence, and is up for parole. Although he’s been a model prisoner, his parole is denied, for at least another year. McCoy, however, can’t do another year. The prison system is eating away at every fiber of his being, destroying whatever bit of humanity he has left. In fact, the constant sound of the weaving machinery, in the prison shop, where he works, is omnipresent in his head. The sound will only cease, once he’s released. In order to achieve the end goal of his freedom, McCoy utilizes the help of his wife, Carol, played by Oscar nominee, and three time Golden Globe winner, Ali MacGraw (Goodbye, Columbus).

Carol, at McCoy’s behest, approaches business man, Jack Beynon, a role acted by Oscar winner, Ben Johnson (The Last Picture Show). He is corrupt, and for the right price, or sexual favor, or as in this instance both, he can influence the parole board to reverse their decision. When McCoy is released, he meets with Beynon, who wants him to orchestrate a bank robbery. In addition to McCoy, and Carol, two other members on Beynon’s payroll will be part of the robbery: Rudy Butler (Al Lettieri), and Frank Jackson (Bo Hopkins). (As an aside: Al Lettierri will probably be known to most viewers for his portrayal of Virgil “The Turk” Sollozzo, in “The Godfather”).   

The bank heist goes off flawlessly, until Frank gets nervous and shoots and kills the bank’s security guard. McCoy and Carol flee the scene, as do Rudy and Frank. The destination of the criminals is Beynon’s ranch house. While on the run, Rudy kills Frank for his error, during the robbery. McCoy and Carol arrive at Beynon’s with $500,000 they netted from the robbery. Beynon strongly implies that Carol has been unfaithful to McCoy. This is something McCoy hadn’t known up until that point in the film. Carol enters the room and raises her gun, and has it pointed at McCoy’s back. In that moment, she appears to be deciding, which man she’d be better off with. In the end, she kills Beynon, which sets up the second half of the film. (As an aside: $500,00 in 1972, would be equivalent to approximately $3,600,000 today).   

McCoy and Carol go on the run. Their goal is to make it to Mexico. Accomplishing that task will be anything but easy. In addition to law enforcement, there is Beynon’s brother, Cully (Roy Jensen), who employs a contingent of loyal, armed men, who will kill as their boss commands. Further complicating matters is  Rudy. McCoy thought he’d left him for dead, but he was wrong. If that weren’t enough trouble for the couple, they experience other problems along the way. Will their quest for freedom end in escaping into Mexico? Are there too many forces out to get them, that will keep them from achieving that goal?     

“The Getaway” was directed by Oscar nominee, Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch). The screenplay was written by two time Emmy winner, Walter Hill (48 Hrs), based on the novel of the same name by Jim Thompson. The novel was published by Signet Books on January 1, 1958. The music for the film was composed by 30 time Grammy winner, Quincy Jones (In the Heat of the Night). Cinematography for the movie was done by Oscar nominee, Lucien Ballard (The Caretakers). The tight editing by three time Oscar nominee, Robert L. Wolfe (The Rose), showcases some interesting stylistic choices with his use of certain jump cuts, as well as slow motion sequences. The film premiered on December 16, 1972, in Italy. Parts action, crime, and thriller, the movie has a runtime of 123 minutes. (As an aside: Two time Emmy winner, Sally Struthers (All in the Family), appears in the film as Fran Clinton, a willing participant, who helps Rudy, in his pursuit of McCoy and Carol. Furthermore, Slim Pickens has a small cameo appearance as a character named Cowboy). 

Trivia buffs take note: Steve McQueen had final cut of the film, which was shot almost entirely in sequence. The original score for the movie was to be composed by Emmy winner Jerry Fielding (High Midnight). Oscar nominee and BAFTA winner, Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show), was initially hired to direct the movie, and the Ali MacGraw role was originally going to be played by three time Golden Globe winner, Cybill Shepherd (Cybill). Jim Thompson’s novel, as previously mentioned, is what the film is based on. Although Thompson was hired to write the screenplay for the movie, it wasn’t used, because he kept in the ending to his novel, which was much darker than the ending to the movie. McQueen didn’t think audiences would want to see what Thompson had envisioned for the characters. Ali MacGraw learned to fire a gun and drive a car for the film. Three time Oscar winner, Paul Newman (The Color of Money), was considered for the McQueen role, but passed, because his agent didn’t like the novel.   

“The Getaway” is a first rate, gripping, 70s crime thriller. Although everyone in the cast played their characters competently, McQueen is by far the standout in the film. The action is plentiful, but blood is kept to a minimal amount. Some viewers might find the pacing of the film, especially at the start, to be a bit slow. Once McCoy and Carol are on the run, however, there isn’t much let up in the tension, of will they, or won’t they succeed in escaping to Mexico?

I recommend “The Getaway” for fans of McQueen’s work who, perhaps, have never seen the film, or like myself, hadn’t watched it in some time. For those of you who are reading this that are fans of 70s action and crime films, you will more than likely consider the film worth the time you invest to watch it. Overall, a well executed, paced and acted film.                   

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“Off the Minnesota Strip” (1980)

“Off the Minnesota Strip,” begins with Micki Johansen, a teenage runaway, superbly portrayed by Oscar nominee and two time Emmy winner, Mare Winningham (Georgia). She has returned from New York City to her small, Minnesota town. While in New York, Micki worked as a prostitute. The reason for her return, is that she is pressing charges against her pimp, Louis (Leon Isaac Kennedy), who physically abused her. 

When she returns home, she is questioned by the police. The answers she gives to Detective McGrath (James Murtaugh) are forthright. Micki has no qualms about admitting, in front of her parents, that Louis kept all of her money, and that she was fed a steady diet of pizza, and nothing else. When McGrath is finished questioning her, she is released into the care of her parents: Micki’s father, Bud, who seemingly thinks everything can be fixed by eating one of his fried egg sandwiches, is played by Oscar nominee and five time Emmy winner, Hal Holbrook (Portrait of America). Micki’s mother Hughlene, a role acted by Four time Emmy winner, Michael Learned (Nurse), comes across as the sterner of the two parents. From Bud’s own admission to the detective, who is interviewing Micki, neither he, nor Hughlene are people who express much outright emotion, which is evident given how they react to seeing Micki, after her being away for an extended period of time. When Micki arrives home, even her younger sister, Danielle (Heather McAdam), behaves in a cold manner toward her. She blames Micki’s return home as the reason for her birthday party being cancelled, to which Micki replies, that it is just their mother using that as an excuse, so that she doesn’t have to arrange to have a party for Danielle.

Micki adjusts to life as best she can. She enrolls in school, where, according to the school principal, Dr. Haas (Richard Venture) she will be given a clean slate, but no special treatment. In addition to her current classes, she has to make up all of the work that she missed. Her friends, who her mother disapproves of, welcome her back, but there are many, including some of the school bullies, who taunt her about her days in New York. They also attempt to take things even further. From the outset of the movie, Micki’s a smoker, but she also takes to drinking to help cope with her emotions. Her mandated therapy sessions with Dr. Fischel (Ronald Hunter), seem to only exacerbate her issues.    

It’s not all bad for Micki. Dwayne (Ben Morley), an aspiring musician, who works at a garage with his best friend and band mate, Tony (Kirby Furlong), seems, if not at first, but as the movie progresses to genuinely care about Micki. Dwayne dreams of moving to California, where his brother has built a successful career in the music business. When Micki hears of Dwayne’s dream, she likes the thought of leaving Minnesota with him for a better life. There is a reason she fled from her hometown for New York, before she even knew Dwayne. The teens romantic relationship is tested, however, when Louis arrives in town. He is there, in an effort to keep Micki from testifying against him.

Will Louis be successful in his efforts to convince Micki to drop the charges. Why did Micki initially leave Minnesota for New York?  Does the same reason still haunt her, and will it prompt her to once more runaway, with or without Dwayne. Will Micki and Dwayne, both leave their lives behind in Minnesota for the potential to have a better life together in California?

“Off the Minnesota Strip” was directed by two time Emmy winner, Lamont Johnson (Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story). The teleplay was written by seven time Emmy winner, David Chase (The Sopranos). The 104 minute drama, originally aired on May 5, 1980, on ABC (American Broadcasting Company).


I read about this movie, and tried to find it on a number of streaming services to watch, without success. I found it on YouTube. The audio and picture quality left a lot to be desired, but it is still watchable. The movie avoids both exploitation, as well as cliches that are more often than not found in the traditional movie of the week format, or movies, like this, in general. Mare Winningham, as stated earlier, gives an excellent performance, one of the best of her career. The cast, as a whole, play their parts with competence. I am surprised that, as of the writing of this post, “Off the Minnesota Strip” has never been officially released on DVD, considering some of the movies well known talent, and that it was written by David Chase.


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“The Driver” (1978)

Before I write my review of the 1978 film “The Driver,” I would like to mention that none of the characters in the movie have names. They are all referred to in the credits by what they do in the film, and in a few instances, the clothes they wear, or one of their physical characteristics. In this post, the occupation, etc., of each character will be capitalized.

“The Driver” centers on an enigmatic, wheelman for hire, portrayed by Oscar nominee Ryan O’ Neal (Love Story). He’s a person who presents an icy demeanor, and when he drives, fear of crashing, or even death, seems like it holds no sway over him. The Driver receives his jobs through The Connection played by Oscar nominee Ronee Blakley (Nashville). The Driver is excellent at what he does, and as such, charges a high price for his services. The money is seemingly worth it, based on his success rate. In fact, The Driver has never been caught, or positively identified by any witnesses. With each successive job that The Driver pulls off, his reputation grows.

None of what The Driver does, sits well with The Detective, a role acted by two time Oscar nominee, Bruce Dern (Nebraska). He’s always seemingly one step behind The Driver, who Dern’s character refers to as the cowboy, because of the man’s love of country western music, as well as his rebellious attitude toward law enforcement. The Driver treats the streets of Los Angeles, as if they are his to do with as he wants, when he wants, and no one is going to tell him otherwise.

At the start of the film, The Driver has been hired by two thieves. The men are in the process of stealing money from a casino. They are late, however, to meet The Driver at the appointed time he gave them. This leads to a thrilling action scene that pits The Driver, in a 1974, Ford Galaxie 500, against a number of police vehicles. The Driver is a master of the streets. When it appears that he’s cornered, or that the police are going to force him to crash, he maneuvers his vehicle as if the situation he’s in, was his plan all along.   

Unfortunately for The Driver, because the criminals were late, several people, who had left the casino a short time before the robbery, get a look at him as he is sitting in his car waiting for the robbers. One of the witnesses is The Player, the part of which is acted by two time Oscar nominee Isabelle Adjani (Camille Claudel). She, along with several other people are brought to a police lineup. The Driver is one of the men in the lineup. Dern tries to illicit a positive identification from The Player, but she tells him that The Driver is not the man she saw. The other witnesses can’t be certain, because they were standing further away from where The Driver was parked.   

As it turns out, The Player was paid by The Driver to be a witness to the crime, but of course to not identify him, should he need her. The Detective knows this. He also knows that without any concrete evidence he has to let The Driver go. The Detective devises a plan, which he shares with his fellow detectives, referred to in the credits as Red Plainclothesman (Matt Clark), and Gold Plainclothesman (Felice Orlandi). The plan is to entrap The Driver. The Detective busts a trio of criminals: Fingers (Will Walker), Glasses (Joseph Walsh), and Teeth (Rudy Ramos). They’ve recently robbed a grocery store, and, if convicted, they’ll each serve a decade in prison. Opting to cooperate with The Detective, he wants the trio to hire The Driver, pay him whatever his fee is, and have him be the wheelman on a bank robbery. The police will not interfere during the heist. The rendezvous point for the robbery will be right where The Detective, and his fellow officers are waiting. Will The Detective’s plan work? Do the criminals double cross him for the money, even though their freedom, if caught, is on the line?  

“The Driver” was written and directed by two time Emmy winner, Walter Hill (Broken Trail). The film premiered in both Los Angles, and New York City, on July 28, 1978. Parts action, crime, and thriller, the movie has a runtime of 91 minutes. The cinematography from two time Oscar nominee, and two time Emmy winner, Philip H. Lathrop (Christmas Snow), does an outstanding job of capturing every nuance of the car chases. 


Trivia buffs take note: The film was originally written for Oscar nominee, and two time Golden Globe winner, Steve McQueen (The Sand Pebbles). McQueen, who at that point had already done 1968’s “Bullitt,” and 1971’s “Le Mans,” didn’t want to be involved with another film that featured car chases, and turned the part down. In addition, also turning down the part of The Driver was two time Oscar nominee, and Golden Globe Winner, Sylvester Stallone (Rocky). Oscar winner, Julie Christie (McCabe & Mrs. Miller), passed on the role of The Player. The Driver only speaks 350 words during the entirety of the film. The movie was inspired by the 1967 film “Le samouraï”  directed by Jean-Pierre Melville. “The Driver” was the first Hollywood film for Isabelle Adjani.

A viewer watching “The Driver” today, especially those viewers under the age of thirty, will, in all likelihood, consider this film boring by comparison, to the likes of the movies in “The Fast and the Furious” franchise. One of the aspects of “The Driver” that makes the film interesting, and one that should be applauded for its action scenes, is that everything in the movie was done pre-CGI. What younger viewers should understand, is that “The Driver” was one of the films that inspired the directors who are making the modern day action films, especially those that feature intense car chases. Overall, a stylish thrill ride that deserves to be seen and appreciated.                                                                                                                                                                           




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When I first began watching “M3GAN,” I thought that “Peacock” decided that I needed to sit through several more advertisements before they’d let me see the film. I was wrong. “M3GAN” begins with a faux, thirty second spot, designed to get children interested in toys called the Purrpetual Petz. In fact, the narrator of the commercial informs children that they can collect all six for their enjoyment. The scene shifts from the advertisement to a vehicle, which is headed up the steep incline of an icy, snow caked mountain with its three occupants: two adults and their nine year old daughter Cady (Violet McGraw), who is on her iPad. Her parents begin to argue over how much screen time she should be allotted. They decide to stop the disagreement, because they can’t drive any further, and are going to wait where they are until the weather clears. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes and Cady’s parents are killed. She is bruised, but survives the terrible accident, and is sent to live with her aunt Gemma, portrayed by Allison Williams (Get Out).

Gemma works as a robotics engineer for Funki, a company located in Seattle. In fact, Gemma helped to design the Purrpetual Petz, along with her engineering team, Cole (Brian Jordan Alvarez) and Tess (Jen Van Epps). The team’s boss, David (Ronny Chieng), is becoming increasingly frustrated with the engineering trio. He wants them to design a Purrpetual Pet that children will have fun playing with, but that is also cost effective. Gemma, and the team, however, are more interested in working on a different creation, known as M3GAN, which stands for Model 3 Generative Android.  M3GAN is an extraordinarily realistic robot, that acts and talks like a person, but the protocols of which are specifically designed to befriend, and interact with children. Gemma will put everything on hold, when she learns that her sister was killed in the accident. As it turns out, in such an event, her sister wanted Gemma to become Cady’s guardian.   

She might be a gifted engineer, in regard to designing toys for children, but when it comes to actual child rearing, Gemma lacks the basics. For example, when Cady walks into Gemma’s house for the first time, she gravitates toward a shelf of toys. Gemma informs Cady that the toys are collectibles, and are not to be played with. During the first evening in her new home, when Cady asks Gemma if she’ll read her a story, before bed, Gemma is at a loss. She has no children’s books, and doesn’t know any children’s stories. What Gemma can do, and  does, is to invest seemingly her every waking moment into finishing her M3GAN robot.  Gemma hopes that the robot will help Cady adjust to her life without her parents, by being there for her, in many different capacities. For example, to listen to Cady, read her bedtime stories, and remind her to do things like wash her hands, when she’s through in the bathroom.  


Cady becomes very attached to M3GAN, to the point where she wants the robot at her side at all times. M3GAN takes her main protocols of protecting Cady from harm very seriously, so seriously, in fact, that when Gemma’s neighbor Celia’s (Lori Dungey), dog bites Cady, the dog is dealt with by M3GAN, unbeknownst to Cady and Gemma. The incident is only the beginning of M3GAN showcasing that she is willing to do anything to live up to what she was initially programmed for. Will it eventually be too late to stop M3GAN, considering she’s already taking things too far?     

“M3GAN”  was directed by Gerard Johnstone (Housebound).  The screenplay was written by Akela Cooper (Luke Cage), based on a story she co-wrote with James Wan (The Conjuring). The body movements that the robot couldn’t perform, were done by Amie Donald. Furthermore, Donald did all of her own stunt work The voice of M3GAN, belonged to Jenna Davis. The film premiered in Los Angeles on December 7, 2022.  Parts horror, sci-fi, and thriller, the movie has a runtime of 102 minutes.


“M3GAN” can be viewed two ways: One, as a cautionary tale to parents and guardians. These days with ever increasing technological wizardry, it is easier for adults to place a child in front of a tablet, or a video game console, and go about their business for a few hours. The hours, however, add up, and instead of social interaction, the child befriends the piece of technology that they spend the majority of their time with. Negative consequences, may or may not occur. Most people I know, who are currently raising young to teenage children, limit their child or teen’s time on streaming devices, as well as on social media. Two: “M3GAN” can be taken the way I took it – as entertainment. It’s not in any way scary in the traditional sense, but it is a good all around entry into the horror and sci-fi genre. As of the writing of this post, “M3GAN” is currently streaming on “Peacock.” 

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Charley Varrick (1973)

The quick witted, Charley Varrick is a former stunt pilot, who makes his living as a crop duster. He also profits from criminal activity. The character is portrayed by Oscar winner, Walter Matthau (The Fortune Cookie). At the start of the film, Varrick is about to rob his latest target, the Western Fidelity Bank, in Tres Cruces, New Mexico. Accompanying Varrick, is his team, which consists of his wife, Nadine (Jacqueline Scott); his young accomplice, Harman, played by Emmy nominee, Andrew Robinson, (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), and seasoned professional, Al Dutcher (Fred Scheiwiller). (As an aside: Walter Matthau won the BAFTA for Best Actor for Charley Varrick).

What should have been a quick cash grab, is complicated by Deputy Sanchez (Rudy Diaz). He approaches an idling, 1971, yellow, Lincoln Continental, which is parked in front of the bank. When the deputy approaches the vehicle, Varrick, who is disguised as an elderly man, with an injured foot, says that his wife will move the car as soon as he’s done in the bank. Deputy Sanchez leaves the married couple alone, but as he drives away, his suspicions get the better of him. When he has his police dispatch run the license plate, it turns out that it belongs to a stolen car. In the short duration of time, since the deputy drove away, the bank robbery has already commenced. During the melee, while escaping the bank, there are causalities on both sides. Deputy Diaz is killed. Varrick loses his long time associate Al, and shortly thereafter his wife. Ever the professional, Varrick doesn’t allow emotions to slow him down. He and Harmon stick to the plan and, eventually, manage to escape with what they initially believe to be a modest score.   

The take from the robbery, when counted, is anything but modest. In fact, Varrick and Harmon have $750,000 to split between them. The money would equate to over five million dollars today.  Harman, a former Vietnam Veteran, who is tired of small time living, is elated at the amount of money. He can’t wait to start spending his share on all of the things that he’s ever dreamed about. Varrick is concerned. His mindset is that there is no way a local, town bank, should have had that amount of money. He is even more mystified, when a news broadcast, that pertains to the robbery, states that only a few thousand dollars was taken. It doesn’t take him long to realize, that he and Harmon have stolen from the mafia. Harman could care less, he wants to spend, and spend now. Varrick states to his impetuous, young, accomplice, that the mob will never stop coming for them. Complicating matters, Varrick knows he can’t return the money, because he’ll still wind up dead, as a cautionary tale to others, who might foolishly think they can take what belongs to the syndicate. He lets Harmon know, that as a safety precaution, the money can’t be spent for at least three years. Harmon is overly distraught at the prospect of having to wait that long.  

Even as Varrick attempts to think of a way out for him and Harmon, forces are already at work. Law enforcement, led by Sheriff Horton, a role acted by Emmy nominee, William Schallert (The Fisher Family), will not rest, until the people responsible for the killing of his deputy are brought to justice. Sheriff Horton is bolstered by the support of Garfinkle, played by Golden Globe winner, Norman Fell (Three’s Company), who represents the federal government. He has been interjected into the investigation for two reasons: To seek justice against the people who murdered the deputy; and to review the records of the bank. The bank’s president, Maynard Boyle (John Vernon), immediately gets in touch with his contact in the mob, to inform them of what has taken place. Through one of the mafia’s middle men, Honest John (Benson Fong), the perfect person to track down the money, is hired. The no-nonsense, Molly played by BAFTA nominee Joe Don Baker (Edge of Darkness), is dispatched by Honest John to retrieve the money, and execute the perpetrators.  It doesn’t take Molly long before he has viable leads as to where the money is, and who took it. Can Charley Varrick make it out alive, and live to spend his ill-gotten fortune?  

The film was directed by Don Siegel (Escape from Alcatraz). The screenplay was co-written by Howard Rodman (Harry O), and two time Emmy nominee, Dean Riesner (Vanished), and was based on the novel “The Looters” by John Reese. The novel was published by Random House on January 1, 1968. The score was composed by four time Grammy winner, and 2019 Honorary Oscar winner, Lalo Schifrin (Mission Impossible). The movie premiered at the Elko Film Festival on September 15, 1973. Parts crime, drama, and thriller, the film has a runtime of 111 minutes. 


Charley Varrick is a taut, compelling film. The movie is well written, and competently acted. There are a number of tension filled moments throughout the duration of the film’s runtime. The plot is clever, and I liked the way it played out, up to, and including, its memorable climax. Overall, a film that is often underrated, but shouldn’t be.                                                                                                                         

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“Breathless” (1983)

The film “Breathless” is an excellent remake of honorary Oscar winner, Jean- Luc Godard’s 1960 French film of the same name. The remake’s central character is Jesse Lujack, aka Jesse Burns, aka Jesse Lee Burns, portrayed by Golden Globe winner, Richard Gere (Chicago). He is a car thief who loves Jerry Lee Lewis music and Silver Surfer comic books. At the start of the film, Jessie steals a Porsche 356A coupe, outside of a Las Vegas casino. His intention is to get out of Vegas as quickly as possible and make his way to California. Jesse is a high energy individual, and while driving, along the way, his impatience at being slowed down by a truck that is in front of him, leads to his being pursued by a highway patrol officer (Jack Leustig). Earlier, while driving, Jesse discovered a handgun in the glove compartment of the Porsche. When he is pulled over, in an attempt to get rid of the gun before the officer can see it, it accidently goes off, and the officer is killed. Jesse in full panic mode, leaves the scene of the crime, and continues on his way to California. (As an aside: Oscar winner, Robert DeNiro (Godfather II), Oscar winner Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman), and two time Golden Globe winner John Travolta (Get Shorty), were all considered for the lead role of Jesse. Furthermore, Marvel’s Silver Surfer character was created by Jack Kirby, and debuted in Fantastic Four # 48 in 1966).

Jesse’s desire to get to California revolves around a very attractive woman he’s smitten with, and had a brief fling with in Vegas. Her name is Monica (Valerie Kaprisky). She is from France, and has come to America to study architecture. Monica has no idea that Jesse is coming to see her. She’ll outright tell him, when he interjects himself into her life, interrupting an important exam she’s taking at school, that she never expected to see him again. (As an aside: Golden Globe winner, Nastassja Kinski (Tess), was originally considered to play the role of Monica. In addition, as of the writing of this post, “Breathless” is the only American film that Valerie Kaprisky has ever done).  

Even though Monica is an above average student, who according to her teacher Paul (William Tepper), has a very bright future ahead of her, she can’t help, but be seduced by Jesse’s charms. Jesse, driven entirely by impulse, wants Monica to leave school, forget about her career, and come with him to Mexico to start a new life. The only thing standing in their way is that he needs to cash a check he received for delivering a stolen car to one of his contacts. Whenever Monica asks Jesse a question regarding how they’ll live, or what they’ll do once his money runs out, Jesse brushes it aside with a quick answer, in essence, telling her not to worry. He lives his life in the immediate moment, and he expects her to adhere to the same style of living.

Impulsive or not, Jesse’s plans for a life in Mexico with Monica are dependent on several things. Firstly, the cashing of the check. He has a number of contacts in the Los Angeles area, but each one he goes to either doesn’t have money, or is trying to take advantage of him, because of his predicament with law enforcement, such as salvage yard operator, Birnbaum (Art Metrano). Even Jesse’s friend Berrutti (Gary Goodrow), who can get the money for him, but he’ll have to wait overnight, something Jesse is hesitant to do. Pursuing Jesse for the murder of the highway patrol officer is LT. Parmental (John P. Ryan), and Sgt. Enright (Robert Dunn). They are seemingly only one step behind Jesse and Monica, wherever they go. Can Jesse and Monica make it out of Los Angeles, and begin a life together in Mexico? Does their outlaws on the run story come to a tragic end?

“Breathless” was directed by Jim McBride (The Big Easy). The screenplay was written by L.M. Kit Carson (The Hitchhiker). Carson’s screenplay, as aforementioned, is based on the 1960 film written and directed by Godard, which was from a story by BAFTA winner, Francois Truffaut (Day for Night). Additional contributions to the original “Breathless” were made by Claude Chabrol (Rien ne va plus), but he was not given credit. Music for the remake was composed by Oscar winner Jack Nitzsche (An Officer and a Gentleman), and synchs up very well with what is transpiring on screen. “Breathless” was released to theaters in the United States on May 13, 1983. Parts action, drama, romance, and thriller the movie has a runtime of 100 minutes.

“Breathless” is intense in parts, and well paced, with each scene helping to advance the narrative. The cinematography by Oscar nominee Richard H. Kline (King Kong – 1976), is spot on, and transforms Los Angeles into an additional character throughout the film. Gere and Kaprisky have very good chemistry together. For fans of Gere, who might not be familiar with this entry from the earlier part of his career, this should provide for interesting entertainment. Those of you who value the cinematic opinions of two time Oscar winner, Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), might be interested in the film, as he considers “Breathless” to be one of the coolest movies he’s ever seen. Furthermore, those of you who saw the original Godard film, might want to see what an America remake of the French New Wave classic looks like. As of the writing of this post “Breathless” is available to stream on Tubi.

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“The Lady in Red” (1979)

In the early 1930s, naive, Polly Franklin, played by Pamela Sue Martin (The Hardy Boys / Nancy Dew Mysteries), dreams of becoming a professional dancer. She is relegated, however, to working on a farm. The farm is owned by her religious zealot, father, who is quick tempered, and doesn’t hesitate to administer punishment for perceived transgressions. While in town, running an errand for her father, she gets caught up in a bank robbery. The robbers take her as a hostage, in an attempt to ensure their getaway. Unscrupulous reporter, Jake Lingle (Robert Hogan), interviews Polly about the robbery, but not before plying his charms on her. He gets Polly to come back to his hotel room. Lingle promises her that when the interview is finished, he will give her a red dress.

When Polly returns home hours later, her father hits her. This latest act of cruelty prompts Polly to leave the farm, and search for what she hopes will be a better life in Chicago. She finds employment as a seamstress in a garment factory run by, the repugnant, Patek (Dick Miller. Her Jewish friend Rose, played by Emmy winner, Laurie Heineman (Save the Tiger), is arrested for alleged communist activities, because she dared to try to start a union. Furthermore, her co-worker, Mae (Terry Taylor), who is pregnant with Patek’s baby, is forced to get an abortion, when he refuses to admit he’s the father. Polly is fed up. She ridicules Patek, and riles up her co-workers, which promptly leads to her being fired.

Polly’s firing, at first, seems like it will lead to her being able to pursue her dreams of becoming a dancer. Far from the glitz and glamour she pines for, Polly is hired to work at a club, where she will be paid ten cents for every dance she has with the men who come into the establishment. She soon learns, from her co-workers, that many of the women who are working there are willing to do more than dance, for an opportunity to earn extra money. Polly reluctantly resigns herself to the fact that she is going to have to perform sexual acts, if she wants to have a roof over her head, and, be able to afford to eat. Her first time offering more than a dance, leads to her being arrested by an undercover cop (Michael Cavanaugh). The prison Polly is sent to is run by the vile, anti-Semitic, bigoted, Tiny Alice (Nancy Parsons). Polly and Alice clash from the start, and at one point, Polly physically assaults Alice. The altercation adds time to Polly’s sentence, which wasn’t initially that lengthy. Rather than serve additional time, Polly agrees to work for Alice, on the outside, as a prostitute. Each week, someone will be around to collect Alice’s percentage of Polly’s earnings.  

The brothel Polly will be working out of is run by Madam Anna Sage, portrayed by Oscar winner Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). Despite her having to deal with all sorts of unsavory types, she does make a few friends, who also work at the brothel, Pops Geissier (Peter Hobbs), and Pinetop (Rod Gist). Unfortunately for Polly, a frequent customer of the brothel is a mob enforcer nicknamed Frognose, a role acted by three time Emmy winner, Christopher Lloyd (Taxi). Turk, played by Oscar nominee, Robert Foster (Jackie Brown), who Polly meets while working at the brothel, unbeknownst to her, will wind up being an important ally of hers in the future.  

Even when Polly thinks she’s made a love connection, it winds up adding further turmoil to her life. Polly meets a charming, handsome man, who she begins to date. The problem is that the man is none other than notorious gangster, John Dillinger. He never admits his true identity to Polly. The part of Dillinger is performed by Golden Globe nominee, Robert Conrad (Baa Baa Black Sheep). Anna learns from her lover, Captain Hennessey (Buck Young), that Polly’s boyfriend is Dillinger. It is information that Anna is willing to give to the F.B.I., in order to get out of being deported back to Romania. As in real life, the feds take care of Dillinger. From that moment forward everything that has happened to Polly up until that point in the movie, will seem comparatively harmless, compared to the trouble coming her way. She is hounded by Lingle and his press cohorts, and more importantly, and dangerously, Frognose, and those he represents. 

“The Lady in Red” was directed by Lewis Teague (Alligator). The screenplay was written by two time Oscar nominee, John Sayes (Lone Star). The film was released in American theaters on July 27, 1979. Parts action, crime, drama, and romance, the movie has a runtime of 93 minutes. The film features an entertaining and historically accurate score composed by two time Oscar winner, James Horner (Titanic). 

The stylish film moves at a fast pace. The performances of the cast were engaging, especially the lead performance by Martin. The script was well written, and the direction by Teague, who has always been an underrated director, in my opinion, was spot on. The main problem for the film is that it was shot during a four week time frame, and had a paltry budget. It would’ve benefited, once more in my opinion, from more of both; considering what the filmmakers managed to accomplish with limited time, and lack of funding, it certainly deserved both.                       

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“Alone in the Dark” (1982)

At the start of the film, “Alone in the Dark,” there is a surrealistic dream sequence. I won’t spoil it for those of you who might be interested in seeing the movie at a later date. After the sequence viewers are introduced to Dr. Dan Potter, played by Dwight Schultz (The A-Team). He has recently moved to New Jersey with his family: his wife Nell (Deborah Hedwall), and his daughter Lyla (Elizabeth Ward). Dr. Potter has been hired to work at The Haven, an experimental psychiatric hospital. The hospital is run by the eccentric, Dr. Leo Bain, portrayed by BAFTA winner Donald Pleasence (Halloween). Dr. Bain is not a proponent of conventional psychiatric therapy, a mindset that will come back later on in the film to haunt him. (As an aside: “Alone in the Dark” was the first feature film that was produced by New Line Cinema).  

Dr. Potter is replacing Dr. Harry Merton (Larry Pine). Potter’s replacement of, the trusted and liked, Merton doesn’t sit well with four men housed on the secure, third floor of the hospital. The floor is reserved for those who are considered criminally insane. The unofficial leader of the group is Frank Hawkes, a role acted by Oscar winner, Jack Palance (City Slickers). Hawkes, a former military prisoner of war, suffers from paranoia. He is convinced that Potter has killed Merton, in order to get his job. Hawkes riles up the other inmates, like former preacher Byron Sutcliff, played by Oscar winner Martin Landau (Ed Wood), to his way of thinking. Sutcliff has been institutionalized because he is a pyromaniac. He not only set fire to the church that he used to preach at, but did it with his parishioners locked inside. Child molester, Ronald Estler (Erland van Lidth), projects a dominant physical presence, but is easily swayed mentally, when it comes to believing in the validity of Hawkes outlandish claim. Lastly, there is The Bleeder (Phillip Clark). He is named such, because in the past, after he would claim a victim’s life, his nose would start to bleed.  

One evening, there is a blackout, and all of the electrical security measures and alarms, that are designed to keep the inmates on the third floor locked up, simultaneously short circuit. The outage offers the four men, the opportunity to leave their controlled captivity. Led by Hawkes, the men take a van to the nearby town, where, due to the blackout, mass looting of retail stores is taking place. The men ditch their hospital garb, and change into attire that allows them to blend in with everyone in the crowd.

When the men left The Haven, they seemingly, thanks to Hawkes, had an objective on their minds, and that was to kill Dr. Potter, as well as his family. In a surprising turn of events, however, The Bleeder leaves the other three during the looting, for reasons that will only become apparent later on. Dr. Potter and his family, which includes his younger sister Toni (Lee Taylor-Allan), who has come to visit for a while, due to troubles of her own, are in route back to the Potter’s house. They have no idea of the danger they are in, but they’ll soon find out. Will the Potter’s survive? (As an aside: The original idea for the film was to have the story take place in Manhattan. The same situation occurs, where a blackout frees dangerous mental patients. In the earlier story scenario, the inmates were not out to go after anyone specific. The mafia was utilized to help take care of those that escaped).

“Alone in the Dark” was directed by Emmy winner, Jack Sholder (The Hidden). Furthermore, Sholder wrote the screenplay based on a story co-written by Robert Shaye (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), and Michael Harrpster. The film premiered in France, on May 16, 1982 at the Cannes Film Market. Parts horror and thriller, the movie has a runtime of 92 minutes.   

The film is not often mentioned in the same conversation with its contemporaries of the time period. Part of the reason is that it didn’t lend itself to a sequel, or even a prequel, for that matter, at least not with the same cast. Perhaps Donald Pleasence would have agreed to be in a prequel, given his work in the Halloween franchise, but  I can’t really envision Palance and Landau returning for Parts II, III, and IV. If that was the filmmakers’ mindset, which it wasn’t.     


“Alone in the Dark”  was well made, and the unconventional story held my interest from start to finish. The movie has the right amount of horror and suspense, which should keep most viewers entertained, and at its runtime, does not overstay its welcome. Recommended for genre fans, as well as fans of the cast.



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“Wednesday – A Rating’s Record Breaker for Netflix”

On February 6, 1932, cartoonist Charles Addams had his first sketch, that of a window washer, published by the New Yorker. Six years later, in 1938, the first ever appearance of the Addams Family was published in cartoon form, in the same magazine. From that moment forward, and for the next half century, Addams would create a total of one hundred and fifty cartoons that centered on the family. The Addams family members remained nameless until September 18, 1964, when ABC (The American Broadcasting Company), premiered the first black-and-white episode of the television series “The Addams Family.”  The show would run for two seasons, for a total of sixty-four episodes, airing its final episode on April 8, 1966.  Since the original series conclusion, the Addams Family has continued to be a part of different popular culture mediums, from subsequent television series and movies, to feature films, as well as video games and books. Throughout its run, there have been nine actresses, who have voiced or acted the role of Wednesday Addams, beginning with Lisa Loring, in the original series, up until the present Netflix series, which stars Golden Globe nominee Jenna Ortega (Scream).

Pugsley Addams (Isaac Ordonez),  Wednesday’s brother, has been victimized by his high school bullies. The act, like it would with any sibling worth their salt, doesn’t sit well with her. Unlike most siblings, who would have choice words for their sibling’s tormentor(s), or get into a physical altercation, Wednesday’s revenge is different. As it turns out, Pugsley’s bullies are in the swimming pool, so Wednesday in an effort to teach them a lesson, releases piranhas into the pool. Needless to say, she gets revenge on behalf of Pugsley. She also, however, gets expelled from high school. Her actions prompt her parents Morticia, portrayed by Oscar and BAFTA winner, Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago), and father Gomez, played by Luis Guzman (Traffic), to enroll Wednesday in their Alma mater Nevermore Academy. It is a boarding school that provides a safe environment for vampires, werewolves, sirens, and others that come from a supernatural or magical background. Nevermore is run by Principal Larissa Weems, a role acted by Emmy nominee Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones). Wednesday is warned by Morticia, that there is nowhere she can run to if she leaves Nevermore, that all of the extended family members have been alerted. One thing Wednesday has kept secret from her family, before she is enrolled at Nevermore, is that she has been having psychic visions.

Additional cast members include, but are not limited to: Two time Emmy nominee, Christina Ricci (Yellowjackets). She plays botanist teacher, Marilyn Thornhill. She is seemingly the only person at Nevermore, that doesn’t come from a supernatural background, or possess magical abilities. The Addams family’s strange, but lovable Uncle Fester is portrayed by Emmy nominee, Fred Armisen (Documentary Now). Actress, and one half of the comedy folk duo “Garfunkel and Oates,” Riki Lindhome, acts the part of therapist, Dr. Valerie Kinbott. Jericho, Vermont’s disgruntled Sheriff Galpin (James McShane), oversees the town where Nevermore is located. He is under pressure from Jericho’s Mayor Walker (Tommie Earl Jenkins), to solve a series of murders that have recently taken place. Lastly, there is Wednesday’s omnipresent sidekick, the disembodied hand named Thing (Victor Dorobantu).

If her parents thought a change of scenery would alter Wednesday’s demeanor, it didn’t. No sooner does she arrive, that she begins to disrupt the relative peace and harmony of the students at Nevermore. Even those who try and welcome her, like her upbeat and outgoing roommate, the yet to transform werewolf, Enid (Emma Sinclair). She finds Wednesday too off putting to attempt to socialize with. Over time, however, Wednesday will have a change of heart about Enid.  She will wind up becoming one of the most important friends Wednesday makes at Nevermore. Additionally, Wednesday will encounter other allies, like Nevermore’s resident apiarist Eugene (Moosa Mostafa).

It doesn’t take long for Wednesday to forget about attempting to run away from Nevermore. There is a mystery that she wants to solve. People are being murdered. Wednesday, like the fictional character she’s writing about in the novel she is working on, is under the belief that she has the necessary wherewithal to catch the murderer. Wednesday is especially intrigued, when she learns that the current mystery could involve the actions of her parents, when they attended Nevermore. Are her parents somehow connected to what is taking place? Can Wednesday solve the mystery? Those questions and more will be answered by the conclusion of the first season.

Trivia buffs take note: Christina Ricci was not initially cast in the show. BAFTA nominee Thora Birch (American Beauty), was originally cast as Marilyn Thornhill, but had to drop out of the production for personal reasons. The name of the Hall that Wednesday lives in at Nevermore Academy is Ophelia. Morticia’s sister on the original “Addams Family” television series was also named Ophelia. In the Charles Addams comics, the name of the family babysitter was Miss Weems. The entrance code for the “Nightshades Society” is two snaps. The two snaps were used in the “Addams Family” theme song in the original television series, composed and sung by Vic Mizzy. The theme music was also used in the movies that followed.  The song Wednesday dances to in episode four, during a school dance, that has become a viral sensation, is called “Goo Goo Muck,” it is a 1981 single by “The Cramps.” 

The series was created by Alfred Gough (Smallville) and Miles Millar (Spider-Man 2). The series premiered in Italy, on October 31, 2022 at Lucca Comics & Games. Netflix released the first season of Wednesday for worldwide streaming on November 23, 2022. Emmy winner and two time Oscar nominee, Tim Burton (Beetlejuice), directed the first four episodes of season one. James Marshall (Into the Badlands), and Gandja Monteiro (Brand New Cherry Flavor), directed two episodes each. Parts comedy, crime, fantasy, and mystery, each of the first season’s eight episodes, is approximately 45 minutes in length. (As an aside: Lucca Comics & Games is an annual comic book and gaming convention and is the largest comic festival in Europe. The festival has been held in Lucca Italy, since 1965). 

Jenna Ortega is excellent as Wednesday. She completely embodies the part. For the role, she learned how to play the cello, but she also took lessons in archery, boxing, canoeing, fencing, and German, in order to prepare to play Wednesday. The cast as a whole does very well in their respective roles. It is the sort of series, that can be enjoyed by teenage and older viewers alike. Filled with interesting characters, and a plot line that involves a mystery that should keep many viewers guessing as to the who and why, “Wednesday” is a worthy entry into the “Addams Family” franchise. As of the writing of this post, on January 6, 2023, Netflix officially renewed the show for a second season.                                                                                                                             

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The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything

There have been numerous times during the course of my life where I’ve contemplated time travel. Even though I don’t think about it that often, I do sometimes wish that I had the ability to travel back into my past, like I imagine countless individuals would. I wouldn’t return to the past to change everything, only to fix the costly mistakes that I’ve made. I’ll spare those of you who are reading this specific examples. Freezing time, however, to fix what is transpiring in the moment, is something I’ve never given much thought to. It is also the major theme that is dealt with in prolific author, John D. MacDonald’s novel “The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything.”

Fantasy and Science Fiction are genres that MacDonald wouldn’t immediately be associated with. Early in his career, however, during the years 1948 through 1953, MacDonald did write a number of science fiction short stories, many of the best of which were published in the 1978 anthology “Other Times, Other Worlds.” Additionally, he wrote the novels “Wine of the Dreamers” (1951), and “Ballroom of the Skies” (1952). Born in Pennsylvania, the World War II veteran, would later move to, and set many of his novels in Florida. Often MacDonald’s later work would encompass the genres of crime and suspense. For example, “The Executioners,” published by Simon & Shuster in 1957, is one of MacDonald’s most well known works. In 1962, the book was made into the film “Cape Fear.” (As an aside: The Mystery Writers of America bestowed their highest honor on MacDonald. In 1972, they awarded him the Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement, which is given to an author who consistently produces quality work).

At the start of the novel, thirty-two year old, Kirby Winter’s uncle, Omar Krebs, has passed away. He was a fanatically private, and extraordinarily wealthy individual. Omar started out as a math teacher, but through gambling, he was able to amass a substantial fortune. Kirby, on behalf of Omar, has spent the preceding years, as a member of OK Enterprises, traversing different continents, where he gave away millions of dollars to different charitable organizations. Upon Omar’s passing, the IRS is extremely interested to know what happened to the rest of Omar’s considerable wealth. Furthermore, the leadership board of the Krebs Foundation, as well as several unscrupulous individuals associated with organized crime, are extremely keen to learn where the bulk of Omar’s fortune is. Kirby, Omar’s only living blood relative, doesn’t have the answers any of the various inquirers seek. The only thing Kirby has inherited from Omar, is a gold plated watch, as well as a sealed envelope. The envelope, per Omar’s instructions, is not permitted to be given to Kirby, until one year after his passing.

Kirby, who despite his world travels on behalf of Omar, has led a quiet, unassuming life. He suddenly finds himself in the spotlight. It’s not only the federal government and Omar’s foundation who want to ask him questions, but he is also pursued by the media. Entering Kirby’s life, amidst the chaos, is Charla. Kirby, who has not had much luck with the opposite sex, is immediately smitten by her seductive manner. She is not alone. Omnipresent is Joseph, her business partner and companion in crime. Charla’s niece, the at first, hot tempered, Betsy Alden, an actress, wants to break free from Charla’s control over her life. She wants to help Kirby. Betsy knows full well that her aunt and Joseph, regardless of whatever assurances they have given Kirby, have evil intentions. Their plan is to get Kirby aboard the Glorianna, their luxury yacht, where they intend to utilize whatever tactics are needed to extract the information they seek. Charla and Joseph are particularly interested in getting their revenge on Omar, vicariously through Kirby. Omar, was always able to stay one step head of the two criminals, and they want to learn how he accomplished, at times, the seemingly impossible. Wilma Farnham, Omar’s prim and devoted secretary, also becomes one of Kirby’s allies in the quest to figure out what has happened to Omar’s fortune. None of the people, who have recently become part of Kirby’s life, will have more of an effect on him, than the vivacious Bonny Lee Beaumont. The resourceful woman becomes everything Kirby ever needed, but didn’t know he was missing in his life. I’ll stop the review here. I don’t want to impart anymore specific plot reveals, they would only serve to spoil the novel for those of you who might want to read it.   

“The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything” was published by the now defunct, Fawcett Gold Medal of Fawcett Publications, on January 1, 1962. A television movie of the book was released via syndication from Paramount Productions on June 13, 1980. The movie was directed by William Wiard (The Rockford Files), and the teleplay was written by George Zateslo (Mork & Mindy). Amongst other cast members, Robert Hays (Airplane) portrayed Kirby Winter, and Pam Dawber, (NCIS), played Bonny Lee Beaumont. Parts comedy and Sci-Fi, the movie has a runtime of 100 minutes. (As an aside: Fawcett Publication’s Gold Medal Books was founded in 1950. What set the publisher apart from others at the time, is that they would publish paperback originals).

In closing, “The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything” is a well paced and detail rich novel, with interesting characters. MacDonald, at the time he wrote the novel, gave the premise a fresh spin, and combined it with a crime thriller, as well as the injection of humor in the right places. Like any well written novel that I read, I had difficulty putting it down. I always wanted to read just a few more pages. My body did not thank me the next morning, when I had to get up to go to work. Recommended for fans of MacDonald, and those of you who are reading this that are perhaps seeking to get into a new author. For those of you who like fantasy and science fiction when it is mixed with other genres, the novel, will more than likely entertain you.


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