The Sugarland Express (1974)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Har Barwood, Matthew Robbins (Screenplay) Steven Spielberg, Hal Banwood, Matthew Robbins (Story)

Starring: Goldie Hawn, Ben Johnson, Michael Sacks, Williams Atherton, Gregory Walcott, Steve Kanaly, Louise Latham

 

Plot: A woman attempts to reunite her family by helping her husband escape prison and together kidnapping their son. But things don’t go as planned when they are forced to take a police hostage on the road.


Tagline – Every cop in the state was after her. Everybody else was behind her.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Smartly Drive Crime Thriller

 

Story: The Sugarland Express starts when Lou Jean (Hawn) breaks her husband Clovis (Atherton) out of early release prison, they want to travel to Sugarland to get their son back after losing custody. The plan seems simple until a police officer Slide (Sacks) pulls over their car leading to the couple taking him hostage.

It isn’t long before this turns into a state wide pursuit led by Captain Tanner (Johnson) that seems to have ever police car in the state leading to a chain of cars heading to Sugarland.

 

Thoughts on The Sugarland Express

 

Characters – Lou Jean has lost custody of her child, now she will break her husband out of prison to get him back, she is the desperate mother who even though she doesn’t have the complete resources for parenting she will give the child all the love in the world. Clovis is the husband that goes on the journey believing this will be the last resort, he will support her even if she doesn’t give him the complete story. Slide is the police officer that is taken hostage, he is helpless to follow instructions putting his fate in the hands of his Captain and captors. Captain Tanner is the man that must figure out how to bring an end to the events, he doesn’t want a shootout, he must control all the officers in search of a peaceful ending.

PerformancesGoldie Hawn in the leading role as the desperate mother doing anything she can to get her child back, we see how she plays the naïve nature of her behaviour for the characters age involved which helps us support her decision. William Atherton as the boyfriend is good in his role showing moments of confusion like his character would be going through. Michael Sacks as the hostage cop he keeps calm through all the scenes which is needed for his character. Ben Johnson as the captain is a good watch because we almost see him planning each move in his head.

StoryThe story here is based on a real event about a couple that take a highway patrol officer hostage as they plan to get their child back. We follow this story closes and how the police didn’t want to get involved in anything crazy as the couple are going about the situation in a peaceful manner. What we see in the story is just how far people would go to get their child back after and just how the story would take the country by storm, with the supporters coming from each town they travel through and for some reason the endless numbers of cops that will follow them. When we start looking at how this plays out, we would have a different outcome now, first it would have been a lot harder to break the husband out of prison and secondly you feel the police would be a lot more aggressive when we go across state borders. If you want a story that could easily be one that captures a nations attention this will be one.

CrimeThe crime side of the film shows us how the two petty criminals will go to extraordinary lengths to get their child back even if it means breaking the law in ways that will only get them in trouble for longer.

SettingsThe film takes us across the country in pursuit of a car which has taken a highway patrol officer hostage in an attempt to get their child, this is a questionable use of setting because we never really learn the scale of the distance travelled.


Scene of the Movie –
Going through the town with gifts.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not knowing how far they travel.

Final ThoughtsThis is an early look at just how talented Steven Spielberg was going to be, it is a crime film that keeps you on edge and one that make you have sympathy for the criminals.

 

Overall: Early masterclass from Spielberg.

Rating

 

 

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Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)

Director: Michael Cimino

Writer: Michael Cinimo (Screenplay)

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Jeff Bridges, Geoffrey Lewis, Catherine Bach, Gary Busey, Jack Dodson

 

Plot: With the help of an irreverent young sidekick, a bank robber gets his old gang back together to organize a daring new heist.


Tagline – Thunderbolt… the man with the reputation. Lightfoot… the kid who’s about to make one!

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Comedy Heist Film

 

Story: Thunderbolt and Lightfoot starts as we meet car thief Lightfoot (Bridges) as he stumbles into wanted criminal Thunderbolt (Eastwood) who happens to be on the run from Red Leary (Kennedy) and Eddie (Lewis) from a previous job.

When the unlikely pairing decide to work together to collect the money from Thunderbolt’s big heist they become friends and start to plan their latest heist with the original crew getting back together.

 

Thoughts on Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

 

Characters – Thunderbolt is the seasoned criminal, that reluctantly takes Lightfoot on his latest heist, he knows how the plan ahead and get away with hiding in plain sight. Lightfoot is the rookie criminal that falls into the connection with Thunderbolt as he helps him escape trouble, he talks his way into the next heist even if his mouth can get him in trouble. Eddie and Red are former partners in crime of Thunderbolt out to get their share from their last job, they have the history with him and will trust him to help get the next job done.

PerformancesClint Eastwood was one of the biggest stars in the industry when this movie was made, he works in the lead role shining next to the younger talent. Jeff Bridges showed us here that he was going to be a huge star, he has great chemistry with Eastwood too.

StoryThe story follows two new partners working on a heist together, in fairness there isn’t too much more to look at here, it plays out like you would imagine and sends the characters o a road trip adventure at times too. It is easy to follow and doesn’t offer many twists which makes this one that could be enjoyed by all.

Comedy/CrimeThe comedy in the film does work well without being needed too often which shows that the crime is the focal point of the film as most heist films should do.

SettingsThe film takes our characters on a road trip adventure as they look to escape the bad heist and head towards the next heist.


Scene of the Movie –
The first meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too by the book.

Final ThoughtsEasy to watch and enjoyable heist movie with a great cast that gives us a road trip adventure.

 

Overall: Fun and enjoyable.

Rating

 

 

The Conversation (1974)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Writer: Francis Ford Coppola (Screenplay)

Starring: Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Frederic Forrest, Cindy Williams, Michael Higgins, Elizabeth MacRae, Harrison Ford

 

Plot: A paranoid, secretive surveillance expert has a crisis of conscience when he suspects that a couple he is spying on will be murdered.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Thriller

 

Story: The Conversation starts as surveillance expert Harry Caul (Hackman) and his team record their latest work surround a married couple, upon looking to receive his payment we learn about his paranoid mind set, living in secretive life with no phones, wanting his own lock for his apartment and his own secure mail box.

Once he collects his payment, Harry starts looking into the recordings, asking just what is so important about the conversation he has recorded. When his former employee Stan (Cazale) leaves him, Harry starts to believe he is being followed and it is his involvement in the last case causing this feeling, is he being followed or just losing his mind.

 

Thoughts on The Conversation

 

Characters/PerformanceHarry is an isolated man who works on the bugging world before it was a major factor, he is considered one of the best in the business but does have a paranoid side. He starts to question everything he has been doing putting his career on the line. The rest of the characters are people that work with, respect or are the people are being recorded, they all help with the outcome of the film.

Performance wise, Gene Hackman is brilliant in this leading role playing each part of the character exactly how you would expect him to be. We do have good performance from the supporting cast and always look out for young Harrison Ford.

StoryThe story has in places dated because technology has moved onto the next level and the idea of the surveillance idea has become a major problem in the world. We do get a mystery thriller that leads our leading man Harry into a moral dilemma into what is the right or wrong thing to do, this is the highlight of the film.

Mystery/ThrillerWe are left trying to piece together the mystery in this film about what is the importance of this conversation recorded and once Harry questions it all we are left wanting to know how it will unfold.

SettingsMost of the settings show us just how difficult it would be to trust your environment from becoming bugged and the consequences of being caught where you would know what it is like to be the victim.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that has a brilliant pay off and twist even if it is slightly slow getting to that moment.

 

Overall: Good thriller that stands the suspense of time.

Rating

 

 

The Towering Inferno (1974)

twoer

Director: John Guillermin

Writer: Stirling Silliphant (Screenplay) Richard Martin Stern, Thomas N Scortia, Frank M Robinon (Novel)

Starring: Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Susan Blakely, Richard Chamberlain

 

Plot: At the opening party of a colossal, but poorly constructed, office building, a massive fire breaks out that threatens to destroy the tower and everyone in it.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic Disaster Masterclass

 

Story: The Towering Inferno starts as the architect of the brand-new building preparing for opening night Doug Roberts (Newman) discovers not everything is quite as he had planned only up to standard rather than up to his desired safety standards.

With the party bringing in the who’s who of the town including the mayor (Collins), Senator Parker (Vaughn) along with a range of celebrity faces. But little do the guest know there is a fire starting to burn in on the maintenance rooms. When Doug discovers the fire, he goes to bring it under control wanting to end the party early but Jim Duncan (Holden) refuses let it be a worry. Fire Chief O’Hallorhan (McQueen) comes to tackle the fire bring the party to an end with the 300 plus guests need to find a way below the fire, but when it becomes clear that Simmons (Chamberlain) has cut corners the safety of everyone in the building it now at risk. We are left to see how the Chief can put together the best rescue possible for everyone inside the building.

 

Thoughts on Towering Inferno

 

StoryThe disaster genre has always been an easy sell on the story and this is no different having group of survivors trapped in a building that is on fire with little to no easy escape, what more could you want? This does have deeper stories because each character has their own story to why they are in the tower and what is waiting if they can get out which draws us into the bigger picture of the story, which is what many disaster films have tried and failed over the years.

Action/ThrillerThe action sequences are planned brilliantly as we see how each moment that could go wrong does go wrong which leads us into the thrilling side as we are left on edge seeing where this story will go next.

Characters/PerformanceDoug the architect is a great leading character because he knows the flaws that are not his fault, Chief O’Hallorhan also makes for a joint great leading character because he controls the men to pull off the rescue mission, having to characters that are putting everything into saving as many people as possible really shines through. Looking deeper into the characters we get plenty of supporting characters we can all enjoy watching their stories as we are drawn into finding out what happens to them.

Diving into the performances I feel Newman was the star of the show with Holden showing just all of the experience he bought to his role. I did find it hard to get pulled into the McQueen performance who feels static in certain scenes with Dunaway doing well without reaching her ability. The rest of the supporting cast all do well and you want to follow their stories through.

SettingsWe have the whole film within the glass tower which becomes the prison for people stuck in the top floor. The setting is used perfectly because at the time the buildings were getting bigger and dealing with a blaze would have be a challenge for any fire crew.

Special EffectsWhen you look at the disaster movie genre one of the main attractions is seeing how breath-taking all the sequences are and this has them with wonderful special effects that make you believe in every sequence going on through the film.

Final ThoughtsWe have here a disaster film that is nearly three hours long and never get remotely dull, now that is something directors should all be learning from.

 

Overall: If you ever want to know how to make a disaster film that tells the story well this is where you start.

Rating

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

texasDirector: Tobe Hooper

Writer: Kim Henkel (Screenplay)

Starring: Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A Partain, William Vail, Teri McMinn, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen

 

Plot: Two siblings visit their grandfather’s grave in Texas along with three of their friends and are attacked by a family of cannibalistic psychopaths.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Shocking

 

Story: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre starts with a warning that this is a true story (it is not) before throwing news stories at us with the main one being that a Texas graveyard has been having bodies dug up. Worried that their grandparents grave could have been disturbed Sally (Burns) and brother Franklin (Partain) along with friends Jerry (Danziger), Kirk (Vail) and Pam (McMinn) travel to Texas.

Arriving at a family home the friends look to settle down for the night. Searching for a good time alone Kirk and Pam search for a local waterhole only to stumble upon the neighbour’s house in the search for gas. It is here where we first meet Leatherface (Hansen) and here is where the massacre begins.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the most iconic horror movies ever made. The story does keep everything very simple with it being 5 young people finding themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. They find themselves terrorized by Leatherface who doesn’t take long to kill most of his victims. There isn’t too many things fresh to say about this and I do think this is one I think shows you don’t need to overcomplicate horror films.

 

Actor Review

 

Marilyn Burns: Sally is known as the one who survives from the opening narration, she is the sister of the wheelchair bound Franklin who is joining her friends on the road trip. She becomes of the most iconic victims in any horror film ever made. Marilyn gives us a performance that will still be talked about today in the horror world.

Allen Danziger: Jerry is the boyfriend of Sally’s who does his best to make sure all the travelling Franklin does through easy. Allen does come off like just another victim in this film.

Gunnar Hansen: Letherface is the iconic mentally challenged horror killer, he kills ruthlessly with a chainsaw or with a hammer before preparing the bodies for food. Wearing human faces as a mask the killer makes an instant impact on screen with his first appearance being the swing of a hammer on his first victim. Gunnar will always be remembered for his role because it strikes fear in everyone who saw it.

Paul A Partain: Franklin is the wheelchair bound brother of Sally, he finds himself the 5th wheel on the trip where he does need help from the fellow travellers. Franklin has the most character development and you will be left shocked with what happens to his character. Paul is great in this role as we get to see a victim that doesn’t get a chance to run.

Support Cast: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has a small supporting cast with the friends being just victims and the rest of Leatherface family only appearing later in the film.

Director Review: Tobe HooperTobe gives us a horror film that shows how you can make true horror with little money and one that can shock the audience too.

 

Horror: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has some of the most brutal kills in horror history and the shock moments will have you jumping.

Settings: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre keep all the settings feeling like we are in the middle of nowhere.
Special Effects
: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has brilliant practical effects going on for the kills in this film.

Suggestion: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one I do expect every single horror fan should have seen at least once. (Horror Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Shock of the kills.

Worst Part: Certain bad decisions being made by victims.

Kill Of The Film: Franklin because it is full of shock and jump scare.

Scariest Scene: Leatherface hooks Pam

 

Believability: While sold to be real it isn’t at all.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Has sequels, prequels and remakes.

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $83,532

Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes

Tagline: Nothing Cuts Like the Original!

Trivia: The human skeleton in the house at the end of the movie and many of the bones seen in the rest of the film are real. They used a real bones because a human skeleton from India is far cheaper than a fake plastic skeleton.

 

Overall: Truly one of the most shocking horror films of all time.

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