Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
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Interesting early entry in the Hammer Gothic Horror line. This film is a remake of a 1944 Horror/Thriller The Man in Half Moon Street which itself was adapted from a stage play. This is part of the reason that this film seems more stagey and talkative than other Hammer films. Anton Differing makes an interesting and compelling protagonist, a man who is over a century old but ever ten years or so he must replace certain glands (taken from a healthy and unwilling donor) or he will rapidly age and die. He is artist, urban, and cultured, he is also selfish, egotistical, and quite willing to murder to prolong his life. Hazel Court is an old flame who is still in love with him and doesn't realize what a monster he is while Christopher Lee is our hero, a suave doctor who is in love with Hazel Court's character and is blackmailed into helping Differing's character. It is always good to see Lee in a Hamer film and he always made as engaging a hero as he did a villain and Hazel Court's lovely presence is greatly appreciated and this script gives her more to do than many of the other films she was in during this period but ultimately this film does not stand up as well to other early Hammer films. Director Terence Fisher is still developing his style and the Hammer look is still being developed. Still, it is one of the important early steps from this great studio.
Naomi Watts continues here sideline career as an A-List 'scream queen' in this effective little Horror/Thriller. Watts is a widowed child psychologist caring for her bedridden stepson (Charlie Heaton) in her isolated New England home. When a troubled child (Jacob Trembley) she is caring for disappears and is presumed dead, strange things begin to happen and she wonders if she is being haunted while her psychiatrist (Oliver Platt) wonders if she is suffering from some anxiety. A massive storm is approaching and threatens to further isolate our heroine from any potential aid. Now if you have seen as many of these types of films as I have, you can figure out the plot pretty quickly but there were some pretty satisfying bumps in the night and a reasonably suspenseful plot that kept me engaged. Watts is, as always, an attractive and resourceful heroine and is supported by a good cast. Like many of David Cronenberg's early films, the cold snowy and harsh environment further isolates our characters from aid and offers no easy route of escape.
This remake of the 1944 Film Noir Murder, My Sweet is probably a more faithful adaptation of the Raymond Chandler Phillip Marlowe novel. In this film, the role of Marlowe is played by the great Robert Mitchum. An aging and world weary private investigator who attempts to locate the missing girlfriend of the hulking Moose Malloy (Jack O'Halloran) a mug who pulled a massive bank job and did a stretch in prison. Marlowe soon finds that a lot of people are not telling the truth or are winding up dead as he follows the confusing trail of the missing "Velma" through a pretty seedy and neon-lit Los Angeles in 1941. The world is at war but Marlowe is more interested in Joe Dimagio's powerful bat when he isn't being shot at, beaten up, drugged, seduced, and interrogated by unsympathetic LAPD detectives. A classic Neo-Noir set in the classic Noir era. With sexy Charlotte Rampling as the wife of a millionaire judge; Sylvia Miles as a washed-up alcoholic colleague of the missing "Velma," the always oily Anthony Zerbe as the head of a gambling syndicate; John Ireland as a good cop and Harry Dean Stanton as a crooked cop; and Joe Spinell and a very young Sylvester Stallone as thugs. Note that Arnold Schwarzenegger also played a thug in the contemporary Robert Altmann adaptation of The Long Goodbye (1973) in which Elliot Gould played Marlowe. Anyhow, this movie is a very entertaining Neo Noir and an outstanding vehicle for Mitchum.