Bad Movie of the Week

Number 13 of a series

This came out in 2013, and it pulls from the original Alien of 1979, as do a number of other films. It’s Alien Rising, and I found it streaming on Amazon Prime Video. According to Wikipedia, where I’m getting details, this is also known as Gemini Rising. It has the following cast:

This is the very much standard alien plot with an ominous creature stalking about and government agencies making a big muddle of it all. It opens with some cute graphics. An alien creature has been discovered in a craft orbiting Neptune, and it’s been brought back to Earth.

Now that we’re past that, and we see DEA agent Lisa Morgan in a confrontation with some bad guys. There is a shootout, and her partner, Manning, is killed.

So, Lisa is shaken by it all, and she takes up operating a dance school, where all she has to deal with is the occasional overbearing father who comes around insisting his daughter will never learn to dance the ballet.

The father leaves, and a pair of government agents come in and zap Lisa, taking her to a remote island, where operations with the alien creature are underway. Her intro to the operation is she has to whoop ass on a bevy of ranger types to show she has the right stuff.

What they want Lisa for is her psychic bond with her deceased twin sister. There is talk in the Sci-Fi crowd that twins have a psychic bond, and that is what is manifest in the alien creature.

Apparently the way the creature operated before capture is the creature would drive his spacecraft to a world that needed exploring or conquering, and a giant clone would descend to take care of business, operating through the psychic bond with the (smaller) version in orbit. Anyhow, lab crew has both copies in sealed containers, and they are doing much serious science. They demonstrate to Lisa that the actions of one copy are replicated by the actions of the other, much distant apart.

But wait. Lisa’s sister did not die in prison. The feds rendered her from prison to work the experiment, and she was killed. Also, Manning is not dead. He is here, on the project. He wants to reconnect romantically with Lisa, but she insists their previous encounter was a one-time thing.

We see her bedding down with Plummer, a decent-looking guy working on the project. Warning, he gets killed in the movie.

The plot has the essentials. Here is Colonel Cencula, who heads up the project on the island. He is super gung-ho and also super corrupt. He keeps promising to meet the project deadline, but he and other team members are plotting to sell the alien technology to rogue nations and militant groups.

Back in the Pentagon is the colonel’s superior officer, apparently Army Chief of Staff.

The corrupt lab gang sets up an auction by video conference, and they demonstrate the power of the alien.

One by one the bidders drop out as the final bid hits $4 billion, likely from North Korea. A bitcoin transfer seals the deal, and separate chits are issued to each of the lab collaborators.

Then the shit hits the fan. Lisa has escaped, and she recovers a number of pressure mines buried about in the sand. She will do battle with lab gang.

She breaks both copies of the alien free, and we see brave soldiers engaging fruitlessly against a force they cannot defeat. Besides that, the island, actually a volcano, is set to blow.

Just in time the commanding officer arrives by helicopter to rescue Lisa.

And the alien returns to his home in space.

Lots of great Sci-Fi bunk and a halfway decent watch. There is a trailer on YouTube if you want to catch some of the flavor before deciding whether to waste your time.

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Wednesday Bad Movie

Number 26 of a series

This one passed me by when it came out 30 years ago. Now it’s streaming on Amazon Prime Video. It’s The Package, featuring Gene Hackman in a classic role. Details are from Wikipedia, which lists the following:

Here is a short synopsis and a critique of this most unbelievable plot.

We are back to the days of the Soviet Union, unraveling at the time this came out. In Berlin leaders are meeting to discuss getting rid of nuclear arsenals. We see there are some in the background not pleased with these developments. At least one, American Army Colonel Whitacre, is dead certain the continuance of mutually assured destruction (MAD) is preventing future wars. We know the generalities, but not the particulars, because TV news anchor Ike Pappas (portraying himself) tells us this speaking into the camera while covering the event.

Doing security is Sergeant Gallagher, a battle-wise career soldier. He and his squad intercept two backpackers in the woods near the meeting. They call the pair up short and Gallagher demands to see the contents of their backpacks. But a squad of German police rolls up and takes charge. They take the hikers away without inspecting their backpacks.

The conference concludes, dignitaries motor away while Whitacre has a private meeting that includes Soviet Colonel Davidov and the Soviet press secretary. A scheme is discussed.

As Gallagher and his men patrol the snowy woods the backpackers are seen roaming freely along the road from the compound. As a particular car carrying people of interest pass them by, the man triggers a bomb in the back of the car.

The car crashes, and the two attackers pull out machine guns and proceed to murder the survivors. Gallagher and his men come on the scene and engage the attackers, wounding the man and suffering one soldier killed. Another car speeds down the road and picks up the two attackers, carrying them away.

Colonel Whitacre takes Gallagher to task over the disastrous outcome. Whitacre questions Gallagher’s competence. The two definitely do not hit it off.

We see Whitacre visiting American soldier Walter Henke at his confinement in the military stockade. He gives Henke the opportunity to redeem himself by going back to the United States and infiltrating a Nazi group in Chicago. Somebody is cooking something up.

Gallagher, on the other hand, is given a different assignment. His assignment is to return immediately to the United States and is to take another soldier with him, supposedly to stand trial. The soldier, Gallagher is told, is Walter Henke. Henke is accused of assaulting people and of being a bad guy in general. He makes this clear at the point on a snowy street where Gallagher takes charge of “the package.” Hence the title of the movie. The soldier is in reality a person named Thomas Boyette, and he is in no way a member of the American armed forces. But to demonstrate he is such a bad guy, he starts a fight with the soldiers turning him over. Something very strange is going on.

Back at the airport in Washington, D.C. “Henke” phones his wife in Alexandria, Virginia, and then asks to go to the restroom, where there are a number of military types. These persons assault Gallagher, knocking him cold and allowing the package to escape. The envelope containing the details of the prisoner transfer is left behind.

So Gallagher visits the home in Alexandria, Virginia, of soldier Henke. Henke’s wife knows nothing about her husband, especially that he was in military jail, and definitely not that he is back in the United States. And, no, her husband did not phone her from the airport.

Things are finally looking suspicious to Gallagher, and he pays a visit to his ex-wife, Army Lieutenant Colonel Eileen Gallagher. She agrees to help.

She enlists the aid of Army Lieutenant Ruth Butler. Butler does some searching and comes up with alarming details.

Before she can relay these details to Mrs. Gallagher she is murdered—a supposed hit and run pedestrian accident. Mrs. Henke returns home from grocery shopping, and there is an intruder in her house. He approaches from behind and strangles her.

About this point the plotters’ scheme begins to come unraveled. Lt. Col. Gallagher needs to be eliminated. In a parking garage two men, posing as D.C. police approach. They tell her she needs to come with them to sign some papers. She has previously armed herself with her service pistol, and she resists. A running gunfight ensues.

Meanwhile, Sgt. Gallagher has enlisted the help of an Army friend, they they arrive in the friend’s pickup truck. The sergeant scoops up his ex-wife, and the driver plows into one of the gunmen, killing him. Dead bodies are starting to pile up on both sides.

The Gallaghers steal registration plates off a rental car and put them on hers. They drive to Chicago, where the plot is moving.

By now it is revealed “the package” is actually master assassin Thomas Boyette. His assignment is to murder the President of the United States, who will be attending a ceremony at the University of Chicago, where Enrico Fermi’s team first achieved a controlled nuclear fission chain reaction.

The real Henke is seen being welcomed into the Nazi organization. His handlers set him up with an office that poses as a travel agency. It overlooks the spot where the President will be exiting the University of Chicago event.

Sgt. Gallagher hooks with an old friend of his, Chicago Police Lieutenant Milan Delich, who agrees this business is very suspicious and signs on to investigate off the books.

Sgt. Gallagher drops by the headquarters of the Nazi group and pretends to be running an errand. The Nazis are suspicious, but they give Gallagher a packet of pamphlets to carry to Henke. By this way Gallagher learns the location of the phony travel agency.

But one of the conspirators, Karl Richards, is there, and he follows Gallagher outside. Richards follows up and determines Gallagher and others are onto the scheme. They need to be eliminated. Boyette declines the invitation to handle the matter. He is only being paid to kill the President. He directs the amateur conspirators to handle the job themselves. They need to lure their targets out of their safe zone and kill them. Richards poses as a police intelligence officer and tells Delich that a certain confidential informant has information.

When Sgt. Gallagher and Delich meet the C.I. at a bar, the man tells them he knows nothing about having information for them. Gallagher and Delich realize they have been set up, and they attempt a hurried exit. But the killers are there, and a raging gunfight ensues.

Out on the street one or more of the conspirators come to a bad end, and Delich is taken away in an ambulance.

Gallagher is waylaid and taken to a hideout basement, where they chain him to a post. Boyette comes by to bring him some food and to taunt him. Then he leaves. A phony Army M.P. arrives to snuff the unfortunate Gallagher, but Gallagher gets the upper hand, cold cocking the killer and taking the keys to his chains.

Delich is now out of the hospital and back in service. Gallagher examines photos from the hideout and determines the sniper’s vantage point is the real estate office. He alerts the ex-wife and Delich and then tears off doing what Gene Hackman is most famous for. Driving an Army sedan he careens through traffic to save the world. Here it comes. You guessed it. He crashes through a barricade and jumps the car over the gap of an opening drawbridge.

Meanwhile, the real Henke arrives at the real estate office. Richards is there to present him with a present. It is a snazzy case, and inside is a super sniper’s rifle. As Henke picks up the beautiful weapon Richards leaves, and Boyette appears. He shoots Henke in the head and goes about his business preparing to kill the President.

But Delich and Gallagher are searching the building. Gallagher discovers the dead Henke and the sniper’s rifle. Boyette has his own rifle. He looks around and determines the location of the snipers’ roost.

Meanwhile Delich encounters Richards in the building and recognizes him. Richards goes for his gun and is quickly dead.

As Boyette is applying pressure to initiate the fatal shot, Gallagher arrives. Surprised, Boyette cannot respond in time, and two quick shots end the career of a professional killer.

Nobody on the ground is aware of the attempt, but it quickly gets revealed. Gallagher and Whitacre have a tense encounter, each promising fearful retribution. We next see Gallagher testifying to what he knows. Whitacre’s whereabouts are unknown.

But the closing scene shows the fate of Whitacre and the Soviet colonel. Their driver stops to examine the map and then turns a pistol on both of them. The conspiracy is now shut down with no loose ends.

And it is all very much ridiculous. The conspirators want to disrupt approval of the treaty. That involves first killing a car full of people along a snowy road and then killing the President of the United States. How do they do this? You are not going to believe it.

First they have two innocent-looking assassins traipse through the woods so they can set up an ambush. When Gallagher’s group pulls them up short some phony German police come just in time to rescue them. Then the assassins are forced into a gunfight with trained soldiers, taking one casualty.

Next the conspirators need to get a world-class sniper into the United States to kill the President. Really? I recall when a disgruntled former Marine killed the President of the United States with a cheap rifle he purchased mail order.

And how do the conspirators propose to get their guy into the country? They smuggle him in disguised as a soldier being prosecuted for assault and battery, the reasoning being this is how you get somebody without a passport into the country. No, not really. They way they do it requires smuggling two people into the country. One is the assassin, and the other is the real Henke.

Who do they choose to take the package? None other than the very person who has the wherewithal to put the kibosh on the entire operation. Once in the country it is necessary to stage a jail break to get their package into business. This focuses attention onto an operation most would like to be kept secret.

Now the conspirators need to go around killing a bunch of other people, starting with wife Henke and Lieutenant Butler. More attention is focused on the operation.

They need the real Henke, because he is going to be the fall guy. When police raid the sniper’s nest somebody will claim to have killed the sniper, Henke. But the rifle with Henke’s fingerprints is not the murder weapon. That would be the one Boyette hopefully took with him when he escaped. And Boyette shot Henke with a pistol he took with him. It’s not likely that’s going to match any police pistol, especially since Boyette’s pistol was fitted with a silencer, and police do not fit silencers to their service weapons. Wait! Watch the movie. Henke will be found dead. Who shot him? A cop? No. The plot does not show anybody on scene to take credit for the kill. And Henke’s sniper rifle has not been recently fired.

Apparently the conspirators cooked up this whole Nazi business solely to suck Henke in and to make him the scapegoat. That is way too much activity for an operation you would like to close quietly and fade into the night.

Good performances all around. The French Connection car scene is not as scary as the original.

Denis Franz reprises his role as a tough cop four years later in NYPD Blue, where he starred for all 12 seasons.

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Bad Movie of the Week

Number 12 of a series

I didn’t see this when it came out in 1942, but they must have run it again a few years later, because I watched it on the big screen at the theater in my home town. I was a kid in those days, and the action sequences impressed me most profoundly. It’s Flying Tigers, starring John Wayne, only in those days I didn’t realize the actors were real people with real names. For some reason I never obtained a copy, so I watched it on Amazon Prime Video. A list of the players is provided by Wikipedia:

It’s from Republic Pictures, which I have not seen in decades. Another company acquired them in 1967.

The Flying Tigers was a real outfit, operating with former American military pilots officially assigned to the Chinese government, but under American control. Organizer and commander was Claire Lee Chennault. The Flying Tigers operated three squadrons of approximately 30 P-40 aircraft each. Shark’s teeth painted on the air scoops of the planes gave them a fierce appearance, and their aggressiveness gave them their name. We see a squadron preparing for combat at their ragtag field, likely in Kunming province in China.

The group’s effectiveness was disproportional to its size, and the movie audience of those dark days in 1942 likely cheered at scenes of Japanese pilots clutching at their bloody faces.

We see squadron commander Captain Jim Gordon and his pretty girlfriend Brooke Elliott, who is a nurse at a local hospital that treats wounded pilots and Chinese civilians, many refugees from the invading Japanese.

Of course, the squadron loses pilots in combat, and Gordon interviews potential replacement Blackie Bales. Bales desperately wants the assignment. The pay is good, $450 a month plus a $500 bonus for each combat victory. But Bales has a bad reputation, and Gordon refuses.

Later Bales’ wife prevails upon Gordon, and he relents. Bales joins the group while his wife remains behind in Rangoon.

Another who joins up is Woody Jason, who makes a splash entering the plot by landing a burning passenger plane wheels up in a storm. But Blackie has a serious problem. He is 100% full of himself, interested only in the money and caring little for squadron unity.

Fresh off the boat he makes a play for the squadron leader’s girlfriend. Not a good way to get started.

Suddenly a mission is called to intercept Japanese bombers. Blackie is ordered to stand down, but he is eager to get into battle and start earning some bonus money. Still in his civvies, he climbs aboard a lone aircraft and takes off to do battle. Only, the plane has not been armed up, and Blackie, unable to defend himself, catches fire from the Japanese, and he cracks up the plane on landing. Yeah, this is the kind of stuff that should get you sent back to Topeka, Kansas.

Blackie is supposed to fly with Bales, but Bales has to cut loose when he catches enemy fire. He opens his chute too early, and a Japanese pilot sprays him with machine gun fire.

Blackie attempts to redeem himself, and we see him doing tricks for the Chinese children at the hospital. Nurse Elliott is much appreciative. Blackie also flies to Rangoon to comfort Bales’ widow. He also presents her with bonus money from two combat victories, which he claims are owed.

The group is ordered to commence night flying, and all pilots must take intense physical examinations. Hap Davis fails the exam. His eyesight has deteriorated, and he cannot discern distances.

But Blackie has taken Nurse Elliott to dinner, and is late getting back for a night patrol. Davis takes his place surreptitiously and is killed when he rams a Japanese plane. Blackie is now scheduled for the Topeka flight.

We notice the date on the calendar on Captain Gordon’s desk.

Things are serious now that America is officially in the war, and the squadron needs to knock out a railroad bridge the Japanese are using in their stepped up offensive. Gordon figures to drop cans of nitroglycerin from the belly of a cargo plane. Since this is likely to be a one-way mission, he plans to go alone.

But Blackie stows aboard, and Gordon agrees to accept his help.

The film has a mixture of staged flying, actual footage from combat, and the use of studio models. Here we see the cargo plane flying knap-of-the-earth through canyons on its approach to the bridge. I am unable to tell whether this is real or a model.

Anyhow, they release a few cans of nitro onto the bridge, and the mission is accomplished. But a Japanese supply train is still moving, and they figure to up the score. However, a shell from a Japanese gun sets the plane on fire, and they prepare to bale out.

Only, the explosion has wounded Blackie severely, and he tricks Gordon into jumping first. Then he takes over the controls and flies the plane into the supply train after first catching a face full of machine gun fire from the train’s defenders.

And that’s the end of the movie, except for the patriotic message that typically follows the action of movies made during this time.

A lot about the plot is not right. We see the date on Gordon’s desk, but the Flying Tigers did not enter combat until two weeks later. The bit about an American pilot being machine gunned in his parachute is real, and propagandists for our side played it up big. There was probably no need to bear down on this case, because as the war progressed members of the Japanese army went out of their way to earn a sour reputation, notably by torturing and killing prisoners.

A lot of the dialog is stiff and preachy, and we see a combat squadron being run in an unprofessional manner. The first time Blackie commandeered a plane and took off unauthorized into combat, wrecking the plan, should have been his last day on this planet. Probably shot by his commanding officer.

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Wednesday Bad Movie

Number 25 of a series

This is Crypto, which came out this year featuring Kurt Russell plus some others I do not recognize. Hulu streamed it, and details are from Wikipedia, whence this cast of characters:

We are going to learn the plot is all about dirty financial dealings involving crypto currency. People are going to get killed. But first we open with this scene. Banker Martin Duran, Jr. drives his brother’s pickup truck to a deserted lot in a downscale industrial area. He parks and waits.

Presently a white van arrives. The van circles the pickup, and those in the van scope out the area. Finally the van stops, and the man in the suit gets out. Duran demands to see his father, Martin Duran, Sr. A couple of thugs open the back door and dump the elder Duran out onto the ground. Negotiations begin. The bad guys want a piece of computer memory Martin, Jr., has.

Now we turn the clock back a week to the main offices of Omni Bank in New York City. Martin has researched a company the bank wants to engage, and his report is damning. The company in question is engaged in shady dealings involving crypto currency. The head man is not pleased. Bank compliance regulations require Omni Bank not get involved. Martin’s immediate superior is Robin Whiting, and she reminds the big man this is the reason Martin was hired.

The big man says screw all this compliance. The bank was forced to hire Martin, a prime recruit with a stellar academic record, so the bank could satisfy regulators.

After the meeting Whiting tells Martin he will have a new assignment. He will report to the Omni branch in Elba, New York. I checked. Elba is a real place, between Buffalo and Rochester, which fits into the remainder of the plot. Also Elba is where Martin has family, his father Martin, Sr., and his brother Caleb. We will learn Martin left home to attend college and has had little contact with his family since.

Martin stops in at a local liquor story, operated by his high school chum, Earl Simmons. Earl’s father left the store to him when he died shortly after Earl got out of high school. He’s been running it since.

To summarize, there is a woman in the store attempting to use the ATM, and she asks Earl about crypto currency. We later learn she is Katie, and she leaves after Martin arrives and distracts Earl. Earl and Martin discuss old times.

Earl and Martin duck into the back of the store, where Earl has a massive setup to trade in crypto currency. He has become a master. Martin doesn’t have to pay for the beer.

Martin reports to the local Omni branch and begins to go over the books. His goal is to ensure the bank is working in compliance with regulations. He notices something peculiar about a local art gallery.

At the gallery he meets Katie, who works there.

Katie introduces Martin to the nominal owner, the sexually aggressive Penelope Rushing. Martin is interested in knowing the real owner. That information remains murky. He needs to talk to Penelope’s accountant, Ted Patterson.

Ted Patterson turns out to be a disreputable, pugnacious, and defiant character. He gives Martin a box of documents.

Martin reconnects with his father. He learns his father has held onto the money-losing operation after turning down a 7-figure offer to buy it. Duran, Sr., explains he held onto the farm because that was all he had left of his life with Martin’s mother, who died of cancer. Martin’s brother is defiant and perpetually on edge. He resents that Martin abandoned the family to seek fortune. Caleb is an angry and much disturbed veteran of the recent armed conflicts.

Martin is directed to the Omni branch’s retired auditor. He pays her a visit at her home, where she is undergoing treatment for cancer. She gives him troubling information about the bank.

Martin departs and shortly another person comes to the woman’s door. He explains he is standing in for her regular care provider. A few minutes later the woman is dead.

Martin gets to know Katie. She previously sang “House of the Rising Sun” in a karaoke session at the local bar. She explains her past, troubled family life.

Martin digs deeper into the bank’s association with the art gallery. He engages Earl to do some research, as well. We see Martin researching Omni’s association with the art gallery.

The man who paid a visit on the bank auditor pays a visit to Earl at the store. His presence is ominous. He asks Earl for a vodka that does not exist. Earl researches. He makes a grim discovery, and he pays Martin a visit at the bank. There is an association between the art gallery and Carcasse Bait and Tackle in Canada on the Niagara River. Multiple people have turned up dead in the vicinity. We see video of a body being dumped in the river from a boat owned by Carcasse.

There is evidence of money laundering. A painting at the gallery has sold for $8 million. The way it works is you want to show you received some money legitimately, so you purchase a painting for a few thousand and sell it for millions.

We see Penelope getting the same treatment as the retired bank auditor.

Earl prepares a package for shipment and sends it off to Martin. About this time Martin’s frustration boils over, and he goes to the family farm to help Caleb and his father harvest a load of potatoes.

Martin and Caleb relax at the local bar, and the news comes over the TV. The liquor store has burned, killing Earl.

Martin gets the package from Earl. It contains a bottle of liquor and a USB drive. Information on the drive details emails between Robin Whiting and Ted, the art gallery accountant.

Caleb arrives, desperate. Their father is missing. At the farm is this message: “Lets talk cowboy.” And it gives a location.

Now we are back at the movie’s starting point. Martin hands over the USB drive. The crooks doubt Martin made a copy. Martin claims Caleb has a copy, and he will deliver it after Martin phones and tells him to. Martin phones. We hear Caleb’s distinctive ring tone, which is Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.” Caleb is in the bed of the truck, and he shows himself with a deadly weapon.

The Russians are outgunned, but it appears they are desperate. Then the FBI arrives like Gang Busters, and the tide is turned. The lead mobster puts down his pistol and flops on the pavement. The others scramble.

Martin suspected Katie is FBI, and he phoned her before coming to the meeting. She shows up with her pals. There is a fierce gun battle in a nearby building. One of the Russians hits her with a round or two, she goes down, saved by her vest. Caleb makes waste of the Russian, and the fight is over.

Martin and Katie talk of getting together again, and Martin goes off to a meeting at the bank headquarters. Robin has previously told him the bank managers are investigating.

Martin lays down the law at the meeting. From all appearances the upper management has been involved in criminal activity. He speaks briefly with Robin and departs. As he leaves a squad of FBI people come in to arrest everybody.

A nice suspense thriller with some oddities.

The bank has been doing dirty, and Martin is wreaking havoc with their denials of wrongdoing. So they send him off to get him out of their hair. They send him to the very place where he can do the most damage. What?

Martin gets frustrated. What does he do. He helps Caleb and their father harvest a pickup truck load of potatoes. I’m guessing that’s about $200 worth of potatoes at the this point in the route to your plate. Does not make a lot of sense three grown men putting in that much for this piddling return, especially on a farm that could sell for over $1 million.

Martin arrives for the meeting with the Russians. They drive around to make sure the coast is clear, but they never look inside the truck. Of course, if they did Caleb would have come out shooting, and the movie would have ended a bit earlier.

The movie will be more interesting if you know something about bitcoin and blockchain technology. It’s at the heart of this plot.

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Bad Movie of the Week

Number 11 of a series

This should not be confused with a previous movie of the same name. This is Split Second from 1992, featuring Rutger Hauer as tough guy Harley Stone. Screen shots are from Amazon Prime Video. Details are from Wikipedia, which provides the following:

Just so you know.

This is a science fiction horror flick, and it has what you need. I’m not going to recap the plot. I will just show the essentials.

The movie needs a dystonian world. You got it. London after global warming has resulted in flooding of the city.

You need a tough guy, and here he is. I often wonder how tough somebody thinks they look walking around with a thing sticking out of their mouth.

You need a failing society, swimming in sin. Here Stone pays a visit to a low life joint, where he expects a serial killer will strike next. He has no way of knowing. He just has a feeling. The place is swarming with disreputable characters. The bouncer is advised to “keep an eye on this one.”

We need a victim. She tells Stone she needs to pee, and will he watch the door for her.

The movie needs gratuitous T&A. You got it. Stone is distracted. Somebody or some thing rips the victim’s hear out of her pretty chest and makes off with it. The game is on.

The tough guy needs a geeky partner. He is Detective Dick Durkin. Also note the forbearing boss. These movies require him.

You need the wholesome girlfriend.

You need the shower scene. The girlfriend showers on while the evil menace enters the apartment. How Alfred Hitchcock would have loved to film it this way. The evil menace strikes elsewhere.

There are encounters with the menace. He is supernatural. “We’re going to need bigger guns.” They arm up.

The chase leads to the flooded underground. It’s the two of them against the evil menace, all alone in the surprisingly well-lighted abandoned tunnels.

The evil menace has captured the wholesome girlfriend, and strung her up by her pretty wrists. They rescue her and take after the menace. The menace manifests itself. It’s the Devil incarnate.

The girlfriend pitches in to help put the kibosh on the evil menace. They hook power cables from the rail system to the car where the menace is holed up.

They throw the switch, and there is massive sparking and flames. In the end Stone must confront the menace head on and rip out his evil heart.

They ride off into the flooded streets of the city. Good has triumphed again.

And that’s all I’m going to say, except this movie is deliberately corn pone silly. It steals shamelessly from Ghost BustersAlien, and possibly others. Readers are invited to submit additional titles.

And there is no reason this should be titled Split Second. There is nothing time-critical in the entire plot.

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Wednesday Bad Movie

Number 24 of a series

Yes, I saw this when it came out in 1954. I must have been about 14 at the time, and it made an impression. What I most recall is the scene with Gregory Peck carrying his fellow crewman across the rugged landscape on his back. Since growing up I have made the effort of carrying a 100-pound person, and I can say it is a killer task.

I don’t have a copy, but this is streaming on Amazon Prime Video. It’s The Purple Plain, and I could never figure out where any purple plain fits into the plot. Anyhow, I’m getting details from Wikipedia, whence this cast of characters:

It’s a British film, but we see the MGM lion.

Who recalls this opening credit sequence?

And it’s in Burma (now Myanmar) in early 1945, so you know the situation. By now the Nazi’s are on their last legs in Europe, and the Japanese Empire is being bombed into dust by Curtis LeMay’s B-29s. We see squadron leader Captain Bill Forrester lying on his cot in his tent at the airbase. He wakens to the sound of Japanese bombers approaching and dropping bombs.

He races to the flight line and scolds the ground chief for not having fired up the engines. The two come to blows. There is no air raid. Forrester is having another of his lapses of sanity. He returns to his bunk, and the ground chief licks his wounds.

Come morning and Forrester and his squadron of Mosquito bombers are off to make life miserable for the Japanese. A word of note: the Mosquito was a British invention, made out of plywood and the fastest bomber in the war. Anyhow, approaching the target, the squadron comes under fire from the ground, and shells begin to burst among the formation. Forrester doesn’t flinch but dives his Mosquito toward the ground gunners, guns blazing and bombs dropping among the emplacements. His navigator is wounded.

That’s the last flight this navigator is going to make with Forrester. His wound gets him a trip to an aid center and a chance to live another day. Forrester is a former fighter pilot who survived the Battle of Britain, as so many of his companions did not. He is tolerated in the RAF because of his aggressiveness and his success in combat, but the general consensus is he is “around the bend.” He lies on his cot and reminisces.

He thinks back to his days in England, newly married and dancing with his bride on their wedding day. She a gold band on her finger.

The Luftwaffe attacks, and a bomb strikes the building. As Forrester searches the wreckage of the room he spots her hand among the rubble, the ring on her finger.

The friendly medical officer coaches Forrester into coming to a local refugee center, where Burmese and English civilians have come after fleeing Rangoon. 300 perished on the trip. But here he meets Anna, a comely Burmese lass who steals his heart.

He is paying a second visit and getting more chummy with Anna when the Japanese attack again. The first pass he covers her prone body with his, and then they run for cover. A second bomb lands close by, and he scrambles among the debris, searching for her. He finds her alive and well. History has not repeated.

He and his new navigator, Flying Office Carrington, take on the job of ferrying a passenger to another field. The passenger is Flight Lieutenant Bore, aptly named.

The starboard engine catches fire, and Forrester crash lands the Mosquito in Japanese territory, 30 miles from friendly forces. All three survive, but Carrington is left with a useless leg.

Bore resists, but Forrester insists they leave immediately and head toward British territory. They will carry Carrington on a makeshift stretcher.

There is like a quart of water among the three, and the heat is unbearable in daytime. They will travel by night and hunker down during the day. Bore is recalcitrant and clumsy. He slips down a steep drop and breaks his collar bone. Now there are two cripples Forrester needs to get to safety.

Bore insists on returning to the crash site, and while Forrester is asleep he takes off on his own, leaving two cups worth of water and taking the remnants of the canteen. We know what’s going to happen. We see Bore, staggering under the hot sun, approaching a drop-off. Yes, he stumbles over it, demolishing the canteen and the last of his water. He has his pistol, and he fires one shot.

Forrester, going back to look for him, hears the shot, and discovers him dead. He returns to help Carrington. They need to make it to a river, now about 20 miles away.

And here comes the memorable scene. I’m hoping the movie did not get it title from this geography. I see no plain, and I see nothing purple.

They stop to rest. Carrington suggests Forrester go ahead alone, get help, then come back to him. Carrington will fire one shot from the pistol about sunrise to help Forrester get his bearings. Then he will fire a shot every hour to help Forrester and any others locate him. Forrester starts off alone and ultimately reaches the end of his endurance. He collapses on the hot sand.

But I notice, watching the movie, the sand appears moist. There must be water nearby. It gets quiet. Forrester can hear water running. He pulls himself up over a rock outcrop.

He sees a stream and people. They are saved.

Carrington is rescued, as well, and the movie ends as Forrester returns to the refugee center and to Anna.

And it is all too pat.

As mentioned, I recalled from 1954 Gregory Peck carrying his crew mate across the desert. The other thing I recall is the bombing scene in London and the other one in Burma. The second time around viewers’ hearts stop as we fear he will find poor Anna torn apart under the rubble. We rejoice when we see her alive and well, and we are sure Forrester is going to get over his deep funk.

H. E. Bates wrote the original novel in 1947 following his 1945 travels in India and Burma. The Brits commissioned him to write stories about the campaigns to get the message to a public eager for something bright during those dim times.

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Bad Movie of the Week

Number 10 of a series

True confession. I watched this one at the theater on the town square when it came out in 1948. It’s Cañon City (pronounced Canyon City because it’s the Spanish spelling for the word). Further confession. I subscribed to Amazon Prime Video three years ago, and this was available. I determined to watch it, but when I went to look again Amazon had pulled it from their prime list. Inspiration! I checked and found it streaming on YouTube for free.

From Wikipedia, here is the cast of characters:

And here it is.

It’s about a real-life prison break that took place in the eponymous Colorado town. The producers, besides proclaiming its factual basis, inform viewers that actors in the movie are the people they depict.

Except only some of the actors are their movie characters. Obviously, the escapees were not available to traipse about the countryside re-enacting their escapades of the prior year.

Anyhow, a break is being planned. The ring leader recruits others to join in. Here a prisoner electrician will deliver prison-made guns to a photographic darkroom for hiding.

The break is set for the next to last day of the year. Not a good time to be leaving a nice warm prison cell, but that’s the way it happened.

The producers do interview inmates at the prison. This man has been in the place since 1897. He has no desire to leave at this stage in his life.

Yes. Yes! The escapees employ the tried and true method of sneaking in hacksaw blades to cut through bars in the isolation lockup. The break counts on these hard cases to break free first to overpower the guards.

The break begins as guards return, not expecting to find prisoners out of their cells. Prisoners overpower them and take their uniforms.

Twelve make it outside the walls. A loud whistle alerts citizens of the break, and they rush to get to their homes and to safety. We get a look at what was playing in the theaters in 1947.

The prisoners scatter, stealing cars and driving to remote locations, where some attempt to pose as guards searching for the escapees but ultimately falling back on threats to coerce cooperation.

A teenage girl is menaced by a convict.

In groups of one or more the convicts confront the police. Here a family lies low as a blazing gun battle rages.

Nine are captured, two are killed, as in this instance where the ring leader is trapped on the iconic Royal Gorge Bridge. Of course he takes the fall.

The last one is captured after he allows a mother to take her son to a doctor. The father offers the escapee a ride, but there is a police road block, and he surrenders.

And that is the end of the real action.

If nothing else, I am sure the episode on the bridge is not true to life. I find no history of a convict being cornered. It’s pure drama inserted to pump up the plot. Besides that, the plot is limp and without a lot of intense drama. Performances are proforma. The production seems aimed at leveraging on the locale’s infamy as a host for multiple prisons.

My family took a Colorado vacation a few years after the movie, and we drove across the bridge. I was amazed. It went nowhere. It was not for serious traffic. There is a joke about a family at the bridge. The boy wants to drive the car across, but the father is concerned. The boy says, “What are you worried about? It’s a rental.”

When I previewed the movie on Amazon three years ago the print seemed to be in good shape, but this one on YouTube has serious quality issues. Most noticeable, about the time the prisoners breach the outer wall the sound track cuts out for about a minute. When sound resumes it leads the video by five seconds. You get to hear what’s going to happen before it happens. It could be I should have paid to rent from Amazon.

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