American Graffiti (1973) Movie Review

Director: George Lucas

Writer: George Lucas, Gloria Katz, Willard Huyck (Screenplay)

Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips

Plot: A couple of high school grads spend one final night cruising the strip with their buddies before they go off to college.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Fun 70’s Comedy

Story: American Graffiti starts in the final day of summer vacation, Curt (Dreyfuss), Steve (Howard), John (Le Mat) and Terry (Smith) are all about to start the next stage of their lives, so before they do they want to spend one last night on the strip of their own town.

Over the night Curt must decide whether he wants to follow through with his college plans, Steve is caught up trying to keep his relationship with Laurie (Williams) together or call it quits before the move, John is facing the reality he isn’t ready to face the future without his friend and Terry is trying to find his cool after getting to look after Steve’s car, trying his luck with the ladies after years of rejection.

Thoughts on American Graffiti

Characters – Curt has always enjoyed his time on the strip, he knows everybody and is one of the most popular guys around, he was due to head of the college, but hasn’t made his mind up yet, despite it needing to be read for his next day, he ends up trying to spend his time chasing a mysterious woman around town all night. Steve has always planned his life out, he is going off to college and he is ready to make his relationship more open while they are separated, here he gets to learn about his relationship even if his best friend might not be joining him in college. John is the friend that has always been known for his ability with cars, he has a reputation around town with the police following him around and now he is starting to see the future where his friends are doing a lot more than him and gets stuck with a younger girl for the night, where he starts to see a brighter side to his future. Terry has always been the butt of most of the jokes between the friends, now he gets Steve’s car to look after he spends the night trying to find himself a woman and impress her with his lines.

PerformancesWhen we look at the cast, Richard Dreyfuss is great through the film showing us a character that can get plenty of laughs and is quick on his feet. Ron Howard brings the character we know him for is always going to be easy for him to play. Paul Le Mat brings the typical bad boy to life that does show how he bought us a level of sympathy to the character. Charles Martin Smith brings the geeky sounding character out which become one of the most popular characters in these teen comedies for years to come.

StoryThe story here follows four friends on the last day of summer before college is due to start, we see how the four have a different adventure on this night, which will help them discover what they want next in their lives. This is a story that shows just how difficult life is when you take the next step, leaving school is one of the first and biggest anybody will take, with the uncertainty being there for everybody involved, part of you will want to stay close to what you already had, while other sides of this will see you wanting to see what is next. This story mixes all of this together through the film with little effort and makes you believe these people could be real, while certain aspects will have dated here, with a new generation, back n the 1970s this would have been the idea of the house party in the 80s or 90s and wild adventure the modern youth would be having.

Comedy The comedy in this film would be right up there with any teen comedies, it would have gotten more laughs for when it was released, rather than the ones you would expect to see now.

SettingsThe film is set in one hang out location known as the strip, this will be the location where we get all the hang outs you would expect for teens in this generation.


Scene of the Movie – Terry’s attempts to get boozes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The world involved does seem to have dated.

Final Thoughts This is a wonderful look at teenage life in the 70s it shows us just how close the friendships were, how hard the changes coming were and just what was left for the people in life.

Overall: Beautiful Look at the 70s.

Rumble in Hong Kong (1973) Movie Review

Director: Mu Chu

Writer: Mu Chu (Screenplay)

Starring: Charlie Chin, Qiu Yuen, Betty Pei Ti, Chin Hu, Jackie Chan, Nan Chiang

Plot: Ho Mei Fong is a young woman in trouble, running from a gang of criminals with something of importance hidden in her purse. She dies in Chien Chen’s taxi while trying to escape, but not before hiding the purse. Chien Chen is now involved whether he likes it or not, along with Ho Mei’s sister, who turns out to be an undercover Hong Kong policewoman. They must solve the mystery of the missing purse and what it contained, while being pursued by the criminals and their hired thugs 


Tagline – Before The Bronx there was..

Runtime: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Martial Arts 101

Story: Rumble in Hong Kong starts when Chien Chen (Chin) picks up a woman in distress running from a gang in Hong Kong in his taxi, she is wounded and dies in his cab, hiding her purse before doing so. The gang led by (Chan) comes after him next demanding the purse, leaving him beaten and bruised, before the woman’s sister Jo Mai-Hua (Yuen) arrives to take on the gang and find out what her sister was hiding.

Thoughts on Rumble in Hong Kong

Characters – Chien Chen is an innocent taxi driver, he keeps his nose down can handle himself one on one in a fight, but finds himself being targeted by a gang of one of his passengers, he doesn’t know who to believe either as they are desperate to get what he doesn’t know he has. Ho Mai-Hua is the sister of the victim (I think, this isn’t the best copy the film I have seen) who has become distant from her and is looking for answers about her disappearance. The gang is led by the thugs who will beat up anybody who gets in their way no matter who they are or what they want.

PerformancesThis is a film where the performances can only be judge on the martial arts skills, the fights all look good for the era without being anything more than they should be, while the basic side of the acting is simple enough. Let’s be honest I only watched this because Jackie Chan was plastered on the poster.

StoryThe story here follows an innocent man that finds himself in the middle of a battle between a gang and a policewoman trying to end the battle which to her sister’s life. The story does everything it needs to without doing anything fancy, we know how this will play out without being anything fancy and by the end of the film you will be left feeling satisfied enough by the outcome. This is a story which does follow one person as each chapters get unlocked without showing us too much up front.

ActionThe action in the film is martial done to the basic, it never feels like they are as hard hitting as the modern style, but does everything he needs to.

SettingsWe are set in Hong Kong for most of this film as we see the different types of people that might get met through the time here.


Scene of the Movie – First proper fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We don’t see enough Jackie Chan, considering he is on the cover.

Final Thoughts This is a simple martial arts movie with nothing more than the simple stuff being done well, it is being sold on Jackie Chan, who is barely in the film either.

Overall: Simple Action.

Mean Streets (1973)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Martin Scorsese, Mardik Martin (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, David Proval, Amy Robinson, Richard Romanus, Cesare Danova, Victor Argo

Plot: A small-time hood aspires to work his way up the ranks of a local mob.


Tagline – You don’t make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Scorsese 101

Story: Mean Streets starts as we follow small time criminals, Charlie (Keitel) and his boys Michael (Romanus), Tony (Proval) and Johnny Boy (De Niro) as they go through their normal days of threatening people for money and trying to reclaim the money the loaned out, all while doing their wheeling and dealing.

Charlie is trying to get his men involved in bigger jobs, despite the local crime bosses not liking all of his work, we follow them to see what they will do to stay relevant in this criminal world.

Thoughts on Mean Streets

Characters – Charlie is the ambitious criminal businessman, he mainly does small robberies with his crew and follows this up with scuffles in bars, he has dreams of moving up the ranks of the criminal underworld with his crew and this is his chance to make that happen. Johnny Boy is the reckless partner in crime for Charlie, he is usually the first one to swing a punch, though he can finish without anything stopping him. Tony is another member of the crew, he owns a bar and doesn’t want any illegal activities happening in his bar. Teresa is the girl next door and partner of Charlie, he reputation puts Charlie’s rise to power in doubt.

PerformancesRobert De Niro and Harvey Keitel are both wonderful in the leading role, showing the tough nature his character requires to become a threat in the film. The rest of the cast all feel like they are part of this criminal world too.

StoryThe story follows two criminals trying to put themselves on the map within the criminal world, trying to impress the local gangster, which sees them finding themselves getting in more trouble than it is worth. This story does show the old school criminal activity world which sees how the people in this world are trying to make a name for themselves by impressing others, we mostly follow them around the city as they try to cause troubles and stop anything getting out of hand, though it isn’t that much to deal with.

CrimeThe crime side of the film puts us into the underworld that the characters will be operating in.

SettingsThe film is set in Brooklyn that shows that we are in a tough neighbourhood where the criminals will always be fighting for control.


Scene of the Movie – Pool hall hustle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not that much going on.

Final Thoughts This is a typical crime world film that shows how criminals are all operating through the film.

Overall: Simple and basic crime film.

James Bond Month – Live and Let Die (1973)

Director: Guy Hamilton

Writer: Tom Makiewicz (Screenplay)

Starring: Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour, Clifton James, Julius Harris, Geoffrey Holder, David Hedison

 

Plot: 007 is sent to stop a diabolically brilliant heroin magnate armed with a complex organization and a reliable psychic tarot card reader.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Bond Movie

 

Story: Live and Let Die starts when three secret agencies are killed, James Bond (Moore) is set to investigation the three locations, Harlem, a Caribbean island and New Orleans. His investigations lead him to tarot card psychic Solitaire (Seymour) who is being controlled by heroin magnate Kananga (Kotto).

We watch how Bond must take on a fresh villain with his own plans to bring chaos to the world, this time lives are at risk and he must do everything he can to stop the plan from taking over America and the world.

 

Thoughts on Live and Let Die

 

Characters – James Bond is back with a slightly different look and swagger, he goes undercover in a location you wouldn’t expect to see Bond, dealing with a heroin dealing company, he still gets his girls along the way and manages to escape each person trying to kill him. Kananga is the heroin magnet with a masterplan which has involved killing undercover agents that have gotten to close to his operation, he however is obsessed with tarot cards that will help him make the right decisions. Solitaire is the tarot card reader that can see the future unless she make love, so until she meets Bond, she sees him as a way out of the control of Kananga.

PerformancesRoger Moore steps into the shoes of Bond and while he does bring a different dimension to the character, he doesn’t hit the full quality levels Connery did. Yaphet Kotto in the villainous role is good in the role without ever feeling like a complete threat. Jane Seymour is good in her role even if the character never seems to fit the complete story going on.

StoryThe story here takes James into battle against a drug lord trying to reshape the drug world, James must go through the black neighbourhoods while dealing with his voodoo beliefs and a tarot card worshiping mad man. For a Bond movie this is one of the weaker stories, not because of the performances, but because the case just seems very basic with no peril, it’s a drug lord over any mastermind world dominance plan. It does feel like a bi of a reboot with the new actor, showing him complete an easier case rather than continuing the battles against the bigger enemies, we do try to get a henchman which should bring peril, though he is more comic relief and the whole boat chase feels like something out of a comedy.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is good for the basic moments, the airplane moment is great fun, though the boat race is comical for the most part.

SettingsThe film does use more recognizable location which is nice, the Harlem and New Orleans settings stand out for this discussion because they make us feel like James is just a police detective.


Scene of the Movie –
The airport sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The villain, while interesting, he never feels like a threat.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun Bond movie, not good one, but one you can easily watch without feeling completely out of the previous world created.

 

Overall: Simple to watch Bond.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Exorcist (1973)

Director: William Friedkin

Writer: William Peter Blatty (Screenplay)

Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, Lee J Cobb, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran, Jason Miller, William O’Malley

 

Plot: When a teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.


Tagline – Now… Open your eyes to..

Runtime: 2 Hours 2 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Truly a Horror Classic

 

Story: The Exorcist starts as we meet Father Merrin (von Sydow) working overseas on an arachnological dig, uncovering something evil, Father Karras (Miller) is facing a question of faith after seeing the different effects passed over by the church and single mother Chris MacNeil (Burstyn) caring for her daughter Regan (Blair).

When Regan starts acting strange the doctors aim to look for a solution with test and even a psychologist, with them failing Chris turns to the church where Father Merrin and Father Karras look to exorcise the demon that has taken over her body.

 

 

Thoughts on The Exorcist

 

Characters – Chris MacNeil is an actress and single mother working on her new project when her daughter becomes sick, she is a concerned mother that wants answers getting ever more frustrated with the lack of results being found. Regan is the daughter is Chris, she is like any other young teenager that becomes possessed by a demon, first however she goes for medical procedures to see if it is medical before the priest come to help with the problem. Father Karras is the local priest and psychologist within the church, he can study Regan’s case with a scientific and a religious side and has been having a crisis of faith after his mother’s death. Father Merrin is the experienced priest that has been through exorcisms before he is the one that gets bought in to try and cure Regan, teaching Karras along the way.

PerformancesThis is a performance heavy movie, Ellen Burstyn is excellent in her role as the concerned mother, Linda Blair (with help from another actress) gives us one of the creepiest scary performances in horror history and the two different stages of their careers in the film performances from Max von Sydow and Jason Miller are a delight to see.

StoryThe story here shows us what is happening to a teenage girl once she becomes possessed by a demon, where this story is intelligent, is by going through the medical and mental issue which are known for being used first. Away from this and the slow build as things become even more shocking and terrifying as the film unfolds shows how story telling in horror isn’t all about jump scares, it can focus on the idea of possession becoming more powerful. The film creates the right characters for the film by giving each of our main characters enough time to develop to feel like they are going to be playing a major part in the movie too. This will become the level all horror story tellers will be looking to get close to.

HorrorThis is a horror movie that uses the slow build and horrific moments to shock us to our core as we see the procedure behind an exorcism and just how the demon can take control.

SettingsThe film does use the settings well because they put us in a location where it could happen in the middle of a big city, which only adds to the horror we are seeing.

Special EffectsThe effects that we go through are some of the best effects we will ever see in cinema for the time, practical all the way through the use of make up shows us just what could be achieved to create the horror.


Scene of the Movie –
The exorcism scenes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me So many different edits of it.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the classic horror movies that can be enjoyed in terror by anyone in the audience, at 45 years old it still stands the test of time.

 

Overall: True classic.

Rating