Monday, March 28, 2022

The Movie Quote Game (Westerns Edition)

This month, we're focusing on quotes from Western films. We will list a quote from a famous Western and ask you to name it. Try to answer these questions on your own without resorting to Google searches. As always, please answer no more than three questions per day so others can play.  If you have a response other than the intended one, just be able to defend it.

1. "What are we going to do with this one, Frank?"

2. "I've heard that you're a low-down Yankee liar."

3. "Don't shove me Harv. I'm tired of being shoved."

4. "Everything happens to me. Now, I'm shot by a child."

5. "I don't like owing anybody any favors. You saved my life back at the hotel. That's all right, I've broken out of Yuma before."

6. " The old man sired two sons. One was no good... never was any good. Robbed a bank...a stagecoach. Then, when he came home and wanted to hide out, the old man wouldn't go for it."

7. "What do I get to eat when I get home in Lordsburg? Nothin' but frijole beans. That's all. Nothin' but beans, beans, beans!"

8. "I ain't gonna slap no leather with you, Doc Frail."

9. "There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend: Those with a rope around the neck, and the people who have the job of doing the cutting."

10. "This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

11. "The old man was right. Only the farmers won. We lost. We always lose."

12. "A game-legged old man and a drunk. That's all you got?"

13. "It's your great ideas that got us into this mess. I never want to hear another one of your great ideas. Ever!"

14. "Well, folks are all gonna miss you around here. All except a few wives, I suppose."

15. "Now remember, when things look bad and it looks like you're not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean."

Monday, March 21, 2022

Master of the World, or 6,000 Feet in the Air

Vincent Price as Robur.
Jules Verne was a hot property in the late 1950s and 1960s, with movie theaters filled with big-budget adaptations of Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959), and Mysterious Island (1961). So, it was inevitable that American International Pictures (AIP) would mount its own Verne extravaganza in 1961 starring Vincent Price. As AIP movies go, Master of the World was a classier effort than usual with a literate script by Richard Matheson and decent special effects.

Set in 1868, it opens with the "eruption" of The Great Eyrie mountain in a small Pennsylvania town. John Strock, an agent for the Department of Interior, enlists the aid of two balloonists to investigate the mysterious incident (townsfolk also reported hearing the "voice of God"). As their balloon nears the mountain's crater, it is seemingly shot down from the sky and crashes. 

Strock (Charles Bronson) and the others awaken aboard a flying fortress called The Albatross. The ship's commander is a pacifist called Robur (Vincent Price), who is willing to employ violence to bring peace to the world. He makes his intentions clear when--after warning a battleship to disarm--he destroys the ship and its crew. Can Strock stop Robur before others die in his path of destruction?

The flying fortress Albatross.
Although based on two Verne novels, Robur the Conqueror and its sequel Master of the World, Matheson's screenplay bears more than a passing resemblance to Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954). Both Robur and Captain Nemo want to end war, both live in fantastic vessels, and are threatened by survivors that they take aboard (portrayed by Bronson and Kirk Douglas, respectively). Whereas 20,000 Leagues employed a sea lion for comic relief, Master of the World uses a French chef!

Also, while Disney's film was a technological marvel for its time, Master of the World has to make do with a modest budget. The special effects range from serviceable (e.g, the Albatross) to woeful (e.g., the flat painting of The Great Erie). Obvious stock footage, mostly from The Four Feathers (1939), is used extensively.

Charles Bronson as the hero.
Vincent Price carries the film with his authoritative presence, whether playing the proud host to his guests or threatening war to end war. Bronson looks bored as the hero, but frankly it's not a well-written part. The rest of the cast includes Henry Hull as a balloonist (and arms manufacturer), Mary Webster as his adult daughter, and David Frankham as her hot-headed fiancé.

AIP considered making a Master of the World sequel at one point. Pre-production artwork exists for a movie titled Stratofin, which would have given Robur a new fantastical ship called The Terror. Alas, the idea was abandoned and we're left with this one and only outing with The Albatross.

Master of the World played frequently on local channels when I was a kid in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I hadn't seen for many years, though, until it popped up recently on a cable channel called ScreenPix.

Monday, March 14, 2022

The Quiller Memorandum

George Segal as Quiller.
When two of its agents are murdered in Berlin, the British intelligence agency MI-6 employs an American spy to locate the headquarters of a 1960s Nazi organization. Known only as Quiller (George Segal), the American follows his own rules--much to the dismay of his British handlers. Instead of pursuing an undercover investigation, Quiller makes his presence known to anyone who might be affiliated with the Nazis. 

He is quickly captured, injected with truth serum, and grilled about the location of the British headquarters. He divulges nothing of interest, but is mysteriously discarded rather than murdered. This is the first indication that Quiller is engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with his query.

Made in 1966, The Quiller Memorandum is one of several serious spy dramas made in the wake of the decade's hugely successful James Bond films. However, despite an impressive pedigree, including an all-star cast and an award-winning screenwriter, The Quiller Memorandum comes across as lightweight compared to The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), The Ipcress File (1965), and The Deadly Affair (1967).

Senta a spy?
Part of the problem lies with the simplistic plot, which serves only as a frame for an overdose of dialogue-driven scenes. Nothing much happens in The Quiller Memorandum. Its protagonist walks the streets of Berlin, chats with people, and gets interrogated under the influence of drugs. There's a short feeble car chase and an explosion at the climax, but there's nothing that drives the story nor injects it with any sense of urgency.

Screenwriter Harold Pinter, who adapted the novel The Berlin Memorandum, presents characters with less depth than cardboard cut-outs. Perhaps, his point is that spies lie so much to everyone that their "real" lives cease to exist. However, the end results of his efforts are characters without any character. Quiller is an cartoonish smart aleck who tosses off quips as he sits strapped in a chair facing torture or death. His attitude might work in a Bond knock-off, but obviously The Quiller Memorandum was intended as an anti-Bond spy film.

On the plus side, director Michael Anderson paints a haunting, noirish portrait of Berlin in the mid-1960s--from the crumbling buildings to the late night streets filled with lonely people. The gloom-ridden atmosphere is augmented by John Barry's dour score, which features Matt Monro singing "Wednesday's Child" (Mack David's lyrics include lines like "I am Wednesday's child, born to be alone").

Fans of Alec Guinness, Max Von Sydow, and Senta Berger may be interested in seeking out The Quiller Memorandum. However, if you're in the mood for a good 1960 spy drama, stick with The Spy Who Came in from the ColdThe Ipcress File, or Funeral in Berlin.

Monday, March 7, 2022

The Four Favorite Noirs Blogathon in support of National Classic Movie Day

To celebrate National Classic Movie Day on May 16th, we are hosting the Four Favorite Noirs Blogathon. Per its title, each participating blogger is invited to write about four of her or his favorite film noirs from cinema's classic era. These films don't have to be your all-time favorite noirs--just four that you enjoy and want to share with your readers. Your choices can range from the famous (Double Indemnity) to the lesser-known (Black Angel) and even include international noirs such as Elevator to the Gallows.

If you want to participate, please make sure your blog complies with our blogathon guidelines. Then, leave a comment below with your blog's web address or e-mail it to When you publish your article on May 16th, please include a link back to this post. We'd appreciate it if you'd post the graphic above to promote the blogathon.

If you don't have a blog, you can still participate by listing your four favorite film noirs on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or another social media platform. All we ask is that you wait until May 16th to do so.

Finally, since National Classic Movie Day is all about our love of classic movies, it's a great day to introduce a friend to the wonderful films from the silents to the 1970s!

Here are the participating bloggers so far:

4 Stars Films

Backstory Classic

Classic Film Addict

Classic Film & TV Cafe

Crítica Retrô

Hamlette's Soliloquy

Hometowns to Hollywood

In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood

Lady Eve's Reel Life

The Last Drive-in

Make Mine Film Noir

Once Upon a Screen

A Person in the Dark

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies

Realweegiemidget Reviews

Reel Charlie

Shadows and Satin

Silver Screenings

Taking Up Room

This n' That: A Potpourri of Books, TV, Movies, Life & Fun Things

Whimsically Classic

Wonderful World of Cinema