Middle Age Crazy

original posterIt’s hard to imagine a more unlikely prospect for a film adaptation than John Cheever’s short story, The Swimmer, which was first published in The New Yorker. Yet, it was actually adapted into a major motion picture from Columbia Pictures starring Burt Lancaster. Was it a success? Hardly. Even though a handful of critics endorsed it, the public stayed away but for some who were lucky enough to see it, the film resonated for years. Now it is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Grindhouse Releasing and a reassessment is in order. Continue reading

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Soul Survivors

11311651-lAlthough less well known today than Stanley Kramer’s Oscar-nominated 1967 drama, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, and still unavailable on DVD/Blu-Ray, One Potato, Two Potato (1964) was the first serious, non-exploitive attempt to deal with an interracial marriage as its main subject and was independently produced outside Hollywood. Set in the fictional small town of Howard (a stand-in for Painesville, Ohio, where it was actually filmed), the movie is bookended by a courtroom ruling on a child custody case and in between is the sad but all too true story of an interracial couple who become social outcasts in both the white and black communities.    Continue reading

Desert Rats

Nigel Davenport (left ) & Michael Caine in PLAY DIRTY (1969)

Nigel Davenport (left ) & Michael Caine in PLAY DIRTY (1969)

Underrated by critics and ignored by audiences upon its initial release in 1969, Play Dirty, directed by Andre de Toth, has slowly but surely acquired an appreciative fan base over the years thanks to high profile advocates of the film like Martin Scorsese who included it on a long list of guilty pleasures for the May-June 1998 issue of Film Comment. Unfortunately, this World War II drama starring Michael Caine had the misfortune to follow in the wake of Robert Aldrich’s box-office hit, The Dirty Dozen (1967), to which it was often unfairly compared. But, outside of a similar assemble-the-team concept which sends a group of criminals on a suicide mission, the film has very little in common with Aldrich’s blockbuster and there is absolutely no reason to feel any guilt over liking it either.  Continue reading