Friday, June 20, 2014

1979: Honorable Mentions and Also-Rans

1979 was a fantastic year for film.  Lots of good stuff plus some classic guilty pleasures.  Let's get started with the runners up and the also-rans.

Interesting martial arts movie that is one of many projects Bruce Lee had in mind before his death.  David Carradine plays multiple roles in this tale of a young martial arts student (Jeff Cooper) who goes off in search of a mysterious monk played by Christopher Lee.  While it's not an entirely successful film, the fight scenes are good and it is an interesting look at Eastern philosophy.

I get a kick out of this relatively mild British thriller starring Roger Moore in a decidedly un-Bondian role as a brilliant strategist who also happens to be a cat loving, woman hating, grouchy needlepoint enthusiast.  Moore plays the title character who is brought in to stop Anthony Perkins from blowing up two oil rigs he's taken over along with his goons.  Perkins and Moore are good and while the film sort of drags, seeing Roger Moore in this role is quite amusing.

I'm a huge Looney Tunes fan and this compilation of shorts, held together by a loose framing story as Bugs Bunny talks about his career is just sheer joy.  While the shorts are edited, they're still awesomely hilarious as always.  Great stuff.

Not the best horror movie ever but a solid cast makes this nifty little horror film worth seeing.  The setup is a play on the old chestnut: a group of strangers invited to the mansion of a dying millionaire with his fortune as a prize if they can survive the night.  Not much in the way of scares but there are some good bits here and there and Sam Elliott is always enjoyable.

Deeply flawed on a storytelling level, the first Star Trek movie is nonetheless a visual treat.  Great visuals make the rather weak story and less than enthralling acting (even Shatner can't work himself up to his usual) somewhat more palatable but it's not enough. The story, which sees the crew trying to stop a mysterious entity from destroying Earth is big on spectacle (an understatement as the endless f/x shots come off as almost masturbatory) and has one or two interesting ideas but it doesn't provide anything in the way of real surprises.  A disappointing start to the film series.

Steve Martin's first starring role is an endearingly silly, stupid comedy about an absolute imbecile trying to make it big. Martin is quite funny and while the overall plot is a little too "Jerry Lewis" for my tastes, it's still a damn fine effort.

Briefly around this time, there was a trend of editing together TV series episodes into feature length movies for theatrical (or syndicated broadcast) distribution.  Such was the case with the short-lived first run of Battlestar Galactica.  After the show ended, the three episode pilot was made into an epic 126 minute long movie. It's a pretty damn good flick, actually, as the pilot at least was a solid bit of sci-fi spectacle.  Damn shame the first iteration of the show wasn't as successful as the more recent reboot.

Coming soon: The worst of 1979, plus a guilty pleasure

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.