To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

mockinbirdDirector: Robert Mulligan

Writer: Horton Foote (Screenplay) Harper Lee (Novel)

Starring: Gregory Peck, John Megna, Frank Overton, Rosemary Murphy, Ruth White, Brock Peters, Estelle Evans, Paul Fix, Mary Bedham, Phillip Alford, Robert Duvall


Plot: Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his kids against prejudice.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: One of the Greatest


Story: To Kill a Mockingbird starts as we meet single father Atticus Finch (Peck) who is raising his two young children Scout (Badham) and Jem (Alford) through depression-era America. Atticus is a lawyer who has been keeping his practice going but get an invite to defend black man Tom Robinson (Peters) against a rape charge.

As Atticus takes on this racial case his children learn about all the different racial prejudices going on in the world and just how dangerous the world can be when they get targeted by the racists of the world. With the case unfolding we clearly see how the town has already made their decision on whether Tom is guilty or not but Atticus uses his skills to prove the whole town wrong but can that overcrowd the prejudice ways.

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most iconic films ever made from one of the most famous books ever written. This is all clear through this film as we get to see the racial tension and discrimination America once gave towards black citizens. We also get to see the side effects of supporting a man that the rest of the town are against. This really is the classic it has been branded for years with a lot of the story being told through the eyes of the children which is something we have not seen since as we usually only follow the lawyers point of view.


Overall: The classic everyone knows it is.






The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

rob challengeThis weeks challenge from Rob iscandudayeDirector: John Frankenheimer

Writer: George Axelrod (Screenplay) Richard Condon (Novel)

Starring: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury, Henry Silva, James Gregory


Plot: A former Korean War POW is brainwashed by Communists into becoming a political assassin. But another former prisoner may know how to save him.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Dated & Slow


Story: The Manchurian Candidate starts when Raymond Shaw (Harvey) returns from the Korean war as a hero getting one of the few medal of honours. His mother Eleanor (Lansbury) and step father Senator Iselin (Gregory) use his new fame to help the Senator’s campaign for re-election.

We meet Major Marco (Sinatra) who is having nightmares about Raymond Shaw and the rest of his unit and wants to get to the bottom of it all. As Major Marco’s paranoia continues to grow he starts to think he might have been part of a mind control experiment and Shaw isn’t who the world sees.

The Manchurian Candidate is a very low moving story that has been built into a real conspiracy theory being from around. I do feel this is only the stepping stones to the idea and in the modern world it would be a lot easier to cover this up. We are left to basically deal with one man being pushed hypnotised into making the next President by taking out the people who stand in his way. It’s all interesting but this just goes too slowly to pull you right in.


Actor Review


Frank Sinatra: Major Bennett Marco is the man who lead the unit with Raymond Shaw in, he is plagued by nightmares about what potentially happened with mind control. He tries to investigate what could have happened and what he finds will change American history forever. Frank gives us a good performance but you do feel like there could have been a higher intensity to his character.

Laurence Harvey: Raymond Shaw is the war hero, returning with the Medal of Honour, but he is really just being placed in a position to help the Government to unleash their undercover assassin. Laurence does a good job in this role where he looks the part as the everyday good guy.

Janet Leigh: Eugenie Rose Chaney is the stranger on the train that meets Bennett and seems to understand what he is going through as well as opening the doors for a romantic angle. Janet is in the film but doesn’t get much screen time.

Angela Lansbury: Mrs Eleanor Shaw Iselin is the mother of Raymond who is controlling her husband Senator to uncover the communism going on with in the US government. Angela is the star of the show as the manipulative woman trying to elect the next President.

Henry Silva: Chunjin is the translator that worked with the unit in the past and gets placed with Shaw to protect the asset, he instantly clashes with Bennett. Henry has a good fight scene but is never used enough for my liking.


Support Cast: The Manchurian Candidate has a supporting cast that includes the other players in the Presidential race but none get the screen time required.

Director Review: John FrankenheimerJohn bought us a good thriller for the time but due to increased use of technology it almost feels dated now.


Thriller: The Manchurian Candidate does keep you guessing but never puts you on the edge of your seat.

Settings: The Manchurian Candidate has the settings you would expect to see these characters in which does help with the film but nothing really stands out.

Suggestion: The Manchurian Candidate is one to try and is one if you like the classic film you would enjoy otherwise you will find it slow. (Classic Film Fans)


Best Part: The idea.

Worst Part: It has dated.


Believability: Depends what you believe in the conspiracy.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Nominated for 2 Oscars

Budget: $2.2 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes

Tagline: Once unbelievable. Now unthinkable.

Trivia: According to Howard W. Koch, the budget was $2,200,000. Of that amount $1,000,000 went for star Frank Sinatra’s salary with another $200,000 for Laurence Harvey, leaving only $1,000,000 for everything else.


Overall: A great idea that is a film that could be a brilliant television show now


Hell Is for Heroes (1962)

logoDirector: Don Siegel

Writer: Richard Carr, Robert Pirosh (Screenplay) Robert Pirosh (Story)

Starring: Steve McQueen, Bobby Darin, Fess Parker, Harry Guardino, james Coburn, Bob Newhart


Plot: Small squad must hold off German attack.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Dated War Film


Story: Hell is for Heroes starts in Montigny, France 1944 where the soldiers are resting. They are all waiting for the time when they can finally go home but when a new soldier Reece (McQueen) turns up the banter gets put slightly out of place. Sgt Larkin (Guardino) and his men Corby (Darin), Pike (Parker), Henshaw (Coburn) and Driscoll (Newhart) along with Reece are sent to a new location before getting final instruction before their next mission.

Reece is going to be trouble as he is straight away very much to himself and likes his drinking. The unit have the hopes of a return home shattered as they get sent out on their new mission. When the orders change it is down to the six men to keep the Germans back without giving away their numbers. What follows is the Americans trying to pull off as many tricks as possible to trick the Germans into thinking they have a large platoon.

Hell is for Heroes is a story that we see in plenty of war films where we see a small number of soldiers overcome the odds to beat a large number, it is tried and tested as everyone likes to cheer for an underdog. This one has plenty of generically easy ideas that all work out nicely and for the time it would have looked like a very good war film. Film has come a long way now and this would not stand next to them anymore but it could easily have been one of the best at the time of release. (6/10)


Actor Review


Steve McQueen: Reese the rebellious soldier who has been causing problems during the war, he has an attitude but could be the best hope for victory. Steve was the icon and main attraction for this film and he shows why in his performance. (7/10)


Bobby Darin: Corby wheeler and dealer who seems to have everything the men would want also he is very much a wise cracker. Booby gives us a good performance and is the character I wanted to see on camera more often. (7/10)


Support Cast: Hell is for Heroes has a supporting cast that fills the generic war film types, they all help the story unfold and all do a very good job in their performance.


Director Review: Don Siegel – Don keeps everything simple in this film and ends up getting a solid war film still over 50 years later. (7/10)


War: Hell is for Heroes comes off as a solid war film for the time. (7/10)

Settings: Hell is for Heroes uses pretty much one setting for the most part of the film and it shows how little area people were fighting for during the wars. (9/10)

Suggestion: Hell is for Heroes is one for the classic film fan to enjoy, I don’t see today’s audience enjoying this film. (Classic Film Fans)


Best Part: The end was good and well put together.

Worst Part: Little bit slow starting.

Action Scene Of The Film: Final attack.


Believability: Things like this would have happened in the war. (5/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $2.5 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

Tagline: ONLY 6 G.I.’s and they had to hold off the whole German army!

Trivia: According to Bob Newhart’s autobiography, “I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This”, Steve McQueen and Bobby Darin did not get along during filming. When stories of their feud appeared in the trade papers, the film’s publicist was fired. As it turned out, it was Nick Adams who leaked the story. According to Newhart, Adams felt so badly that he chased the publicist’s departing plane yelling, “I’m sorry!”


Overall:  For years war films have been used to tell the stories off overcoming odds and this is no exception and would have been one of the best at the time.

Rating 70