Latest Blog Posts

by Michael Barrett

5 Aug 2015


Made ten years apart, these Jess Franco films star Howard Vernon in stories about perverse aristocrats who whip and torture naked people. It’s what happens when you have too much time on your hands. The incurably tasteful would insist that too much time is what you need to sit through such provocative trash, but we’ll try to explain the hypnotic allure.

Those who think of Franco as a slipshod, style-free hack would be bowled over by the widescreen black-and-white photography and elegant, arty tone of The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus, a French-Spanish co-production set in a German town upset by the murders of several women. Between Godofredo Pacheco’s camera and Daniel White’s diverse jazz/classical/avant-garde score, they might think Franco’s bringing too much taste, for the first hour and 20 minutes are calm, polite, and even plodding in its investigation, albeit beautifully composed and shot with sleek cat-like movements.

by Michael Barrett

4 Aug 2015


Joseph Losey’s feature debut, The Boy With Green Hair aroused attention because it was such a peculiar little socially-conscious fable, emerging as it did during Dore Schary’s brief, adventurous span as head of RKO, and in a period when postwar Hollywood was releasing more or less heavy-handed message pictures on racial and ethnic prejudice.

The opening scene gives a shock reveal: a bald little boy in a police station. This is Peter (Dean Stockwell), an ordinary American lad whose parents were killed in London during WWII, during which the film is set. In flashback, he tells a friendly doctor (Robert Ryan) about how he got shuffled among various relatives until he came to live with “Gramps” (Pat O’Brien), a singing waiter who’s actually no relation to him. Apparently social services were very informal back then, especially in movies. Gramps may not have any legit claim, but he showers the kid with Irish-accented blarney and even gets a fantasy musical sequence with co-star Walter Catlett.

by Michael Barrett

31 Jul 2015


Here in razor-sharp high-definition Blu-ray is Thank Your Lucky Stars, an entertaining time capsule from WWII. The film is a featherweight all-star revue that refers lightly to the war while corralling a group of dramatic stars to do unlikely things like sing and dance. We’re tempted to quip that never have so many given so little for so much, but the movie was a very successful fundraiser for the Hollywood Canteen founded by Bette Davis and John Garfield, which is why they’re in the picture and got so many of their colleagues to appear.

by Steve Leftridge and Steve Pick

28 Jul 2015


Steve Leftridge: I once got into a debate with a film writer about the merits, or lack thereof, of modern action/suspense films. During this discussion, my friend proclaimed that The French Connection was the greatest police thriller of all time and that nothing made in the last couple decades comes close. So, as always here at Double Take, I’ll have to get your take on the overall quality of the film at some point, but I’m going to open with a discussion of Popeye Doyle, the hard-boiled central character played by Gene Hackman. An original tagline for the film read, “Doyle is bad news…but a good cop.” Do you think that’s an accurate description of Officer Doyle?

by Michael Barrett

27 Jul 2015


This unusual suspenser brought together several talents at budget-conscious RKO to become a surprise hit of 1939. It’s now available on demand from Warner Archive.

Five Came Back  might be one of the original “high concept” movies, since the whole idea is spelled out in the title. Twelve diverse people, conceived as quickly sketched types, are in a small airplane that gets blown way off course and crashes in a lush jungle en route from Los Angeles to Panama City. Search planes fail to find them, and they must spend weeks repairing the plane and forming a community.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

The Eye of Lenzi: "Gang War in Milan" and "Spasmo"

// Short Ends and Leader

"Two wide and handsome Italian thrillers of the 1970s.

READ the article