Vincent Price is WITCHFINDER GENERAL (1968) (released in the US as The Conqueror Worm)Matthew Hopkins, a historical witch-hunter who convicted around 400 witches in East Anglia in the English Civil War. In this version, he and sadistic sidekick Robert Russell are having a high old time in their profession but when they rape Roundhead Ian Ogilvie’s fiancee, they soon find justice catching up with them. I remembered this as being good, but despite Price and Russell’s turns, I found it rather flat this time. A lot of the problem is that Ogilvie’s as bland here as he was in Return of the Saint a few years later.
LITTLE GIANT (1945) stars Lou Costello as a Cucomonga farm boy who tries reinventing himself as a salesman, heads off to LA and winds up as a vacuum cleaner door-to-door salesman and an unwitting threat to Boss Bud Abbott’s fraud schemes (Abbott has a second role as his Good Twin). This was a real change of pace for Bud and Lou as they’re not working as a team in-story and didn’t rely as much on their usual vaudeville routines. I give them credit for trying to shake things up (a decision variously credited to an argument they’d had that year or worries their regular shticks were losing their appeal) but like a lot of the later Marx Brother films the result is a rather generic comedy—Lou could as easily have been Danny Kaye, Red Skelton or Mickey Rooney.”No! I’m bigger and stronger and far meaner than you are!”
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is DON JON (2013), a womanizer who despite constantly scoring with the local talent sees no reason to give up on Internet porn (“There are no money shots with real girls.”) which leads to inevitable trouble when new girlfriend Scarlett Johanssen finds out about his habit. Raunchy but very good, much less preachy about the topic than it might have been. I also give Gordon-Levitt (who also wrote and directed) for not making Johanssen just the Evil Bitch (she’s not right for him, but she’s correct in diagnosing his problem) though the idea rom-coms have warped her as much as porn has warped him doesn’t come off. With Tony Danza and Glenne Headley as Gordon-Levitt’s parents and Julianne Moore as the Voice of Sanity in his life. “Do not talk about mops in public.”
THE ASSASSINATION BUREAU (1969) stars Diana Rigg as an early 20th century journalist hunting down the title Assassin’s Guild, which leader Oliver Reed believes is creating a better world by knocking off the unjust and unworthy. This leads to a running battle as Reed and his more mercenary underlings attempt to eliminate each other to determine the future of the organization. A fun romp, and Rigg has never looked lovelier; Curt Jurgens and Telly Savalas are among the supporting cast. “I do not think it proper for an Italian lady to practice murder professionally.”

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  1. Pingback: Farewell, Dame Diana | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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