Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Deep (1977)

Retro Active Critique #17

"The Deep" is yet another 1970's film that gets too little attention (if any) in retrospect, similar to "The Last of Sheila"

At the helm of this film, Peter Yates crafted some relatively advanced underwater filming for its time period. Much of the action takes place underwater and there are compelling moments throughout those extended scenes.

The greatest notoriety "The Deep" has maintained is its having images of Jacqueline Bisset in a wet t-shirt. Which is somewhat unfortunate, as the film does have its other merits. However, it should be noted that seeing Bisset and her co-star Nick Nolte appear together is worthwhile. They have natural chemistry and make a believable couple, as they discover a historic shipwreck while diving in Bermuda, only to be mixed up in a dangerous drug war.

The story is by Peter Benchley - the same Peter Benchley who wrote "Jaws". Apart from the action that takes place underwater, there is plenty above ground, as well. Extended fight scenes, for example... a choice one, in particular, between the two henchmen. The supporting cast consists of Robert Shaw (also of "Jaws" fame) and Louis Gossett, Jr. as the crooked and fierce Bermudan, Cloche.

I'm certain there have been a number of remakes (of sorts) for this over the years... but just watch "The Deep" for a classic action flick feel. And despite the slow pace in some scenes, it's worth viewing the entire thing to experience how the film rewards you by closing with an unexpected and completely unnecessary, cheesy, freeze-framed/disco-music-playing ending! 70's style.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Designing Woman (1957)

Retro Active Critique #16

The fun of watching 'Designing Woman' is threefold: there's the feel-good script, which won the Best Screenplay Oscar for its year; its stars, Lauren Bacall and Gregory Peck; and the charmingly dated feel of the whole production. 
'Designing Woman' has a great deal to love. While the film drags on just a little bit towards the end, the overall plot maintains great momentum and the film's execution by director Vincent Minnelli is top notch. Prior to 'Designing Woman', I wrote a post about another little known Gregory Peck film, 'Mirage'. I strongly suggest that anyone who hasn't enjoyed these two films, starring the great leading man, do so. And with 'Designing Woman', there's also the wonderful Lauren Bacall.
Peck plays a sportswriter getting into some hot water as he writes about some controversial mobsters; Bacall is the incredibly successful fashion designer with whom he falls in love. They are a couple of grownups with their own individual lives who decide to get married before they actually get to know one another.
It's an interesting story, but particularly so for the era during which it was told. In 1957, it was still quite rare for women to be career-oriented. Meanwhile, people generally got married when they were far younger than these protagonists. So their dilemmas, despite seeming dated, are particularly interesting considering the context of the film. If you'd like a bit of late 50's escapism and wit, I highly recommend 'Designing Woman.'

Turn to Stone - Electric Light Orchestra

Watch as the ELO gets ambushed by overzealous strings (a la 'more cowbell') and an overzealous, aerobicising Travolta. Notice the patient but troubled looks by Jeff Lynne & company... This is my take on 'Turn To Stone'.

Early MTV - Sound & Vision

Here's a blast from the past... an homage to early MTV videos I created several weeks ago. Hope you enjoy the 80's nostalgia as much as I do!