Box Office Gold, Disc 1

Let’s see. All color. Some dates in the 1970s and 1980s, although some also earlier. Mostly 84-94 minutes. Big stars in almost every movie. Thirteen discs to hold 50 movies, because there aren’t six short subjects. This can only mean…TV Movies, at least most of them, or at least movies with no significant commercial presence in the U.S.

I reviewed another set of mostly TV movies in “50 Movie All-Stars Collection,” and a generally good set it was, starting with the first-rate duo Divorce Hers and Divorce His. This set doesn’t get off to quite such an auspicious start, but we shall see. Why am I interleaving a third megapack, along with “Comedy Kings” and the everlasting Mystery Collection? For the worst of all possible reasons: Sometimes I just want to watch a color old movie, and there are precious few of those in the other collections.

Guns of the Revolution (aka Rain for a Dusty Summer), 1971, b&w. Arthur Lubin (dir.), Ernest Borgnine, Humberto Almazán, Sancho Gracia, Aldo Sambrell. 1:32.

I’m not sure what to say about this one, with Ernest Borgnine as the general in charge of getting rid of all the priests in 1917-era Mexico—and one would-be priest, very much a jokester, who winds up defying the general and revealing the lasting Catholicism of the people. Supposedly based on a true story, this movie seems unclear as to its purpose and mood, although it’s most assuredly pro-Catholic. Borgnine is, well, peculiar in the role of the dictatorial general insistent on freeing the people from the tyranny of religion. The rest of the cast is adequate, but I found the writing flat and the direction scattered. The picture’s fine. This is supposedly a theatrical release, but has all the depth and attitude of a TV movie. I come up with $1.25.

High Risk, 1981, color. Stewart Raffill (dir.), James Brolin, Anthony Quinn, Lindsay Wagner, James Coburn, Arnest Borgnine, Bruce Davison, Cleavon Little, Chuck Vennera. 1:34 [1:32]

A better title might be Four Idiot Gringo Thieves. I guess it’s a caper movie of sorts, one in which we’re apparently supposed to identify with four young men who decide to rip off a drug warlord in South America for a million or so. Hey: Four guys, most of whom have never handled a weapon, armed with various overpowered stuff from a friendly neighborhood armaments-out-of-a-truck dealer (Ernest Borgnine), flying on a chartered drug plane, parachuting in to open a safe (for which the leader thinks they have the combination) in a heavily-guarded estate, expecting to just go in, do it, and leave…oh, and they’ll do it during siesta, because everybody will be asleep.

What could go wrong?

Great cast, with James Coburn as the drug lord with $5 million (and a lot of drugs) in his safe, Anthony Quinn as the head of a scraggly bunch of former revolutionaries who are now just bandits, James Brolin as the head of the idiot gang who sold his house and belongings to pay for the weapons and arrangements, Lindsay Wagner as—it’s hard to say …and more.

Plausibility: Zero. Likability of the gang members: For me, not a lot more than zero. This was mostly people who felt justified in ripping off somebody else because, I dunno, they’re underemployed, at war with a high-living suave drug lord and a bunch of aging revolutionaries. Decently filmed, good print, but…well, I just didn’t see it. Apparently, this was also a real feature, not a TV movie, released in nine countries with as many titles. IMDB calls it a comedy as well as an action film; I really don’t get that. Charitably, $1.00.

The Cop in Blue Jeans (orig. Squadra antiscippo), 1976, color. Bruno Corbucci (dir.), Tomas Milian, Jack Palance, Maria Rosaria Omaggio, Guido Mannari. 1:35 [1:32]

There’s this Italian cop (or “special agent”) who dresses like a bum and rides a scooter that can keep up with any car and can be driven up several flights of stairs without difficulty. He’s out to reduce the plague of purse-snatching and other crime—by going after the fences, which he does in an odd way. (And if you believe that, of a full busload of Japanese tourists, 100% of them would spend two minutes taking pictures of someone mooning them from across the street, with nobody paying attention to the guys putting all of their luggage in a van and driving away…well, then you can believe everything else in this movie.)

Add to that a misstep by the king of the snatchers, the Baron, whose own scooter team manages to snatch a briefcase from an American coming out of a hotel—a briefcase holding $5 million in thousand dollar bills. Without giving away the plot climax, I’ll mention the bizarro ending—in which the cop shows just what a good guy he is by, well, snatching somebody’s briefcase while riding a scooter—while violating airport security in a fairly outrageous manner. Incidentally, the IMDB plot summary is as wrong as the sleeve summary.

It’s all high-action nonsense, really badly dubbed (except for Jack Palance, the American) and with dialogue I’m pretty certain doesn’t match the original—and badly out of focus to boot. Palance is there for maybe 15 minutes and pretty clearly in it for the bucks. I’m being very charitable to give this Eurocrap $0.75.

Act of Love, 1980, color. Jud Taylor (dir.), Ron Howard, Robert Foxworth, Mickey Rourke, David Spielberg, Mary Kay Place. 1:44 [1:28]

Fratricide, euthanasia and Ron Howard (acting, not directing), with Robert Foxworth as a wealthy lawyer. How can you beat that? Well, a clear picture that wasn’t red-shifted through much of it (Howard and others aren’t so much rednecks, country accents aside, as red-faced) would help. This one is a TV movie.

The setup: Howard is the younger brother who loves his older (married) brother (Rourke), and both live with their mother—after their father died the previous winter. One day, Howard goes off to work while the older brother takes a brand-new motorcycle and starts driving it around the farm like a madman…including the uncleared five acres the two sons were planning to start clearing. Motorcycle. Uncleared acreage. Accident.

When the older brother realizes he’s probably going to paralyzed from the neck down, he asks his younger brother to swear to kill him. Which Howard does—by shooting him in the head with a half-loaded buckshot cartridge in a sawed-off shotgun. The rest of the movie is about the trial. I won’t give away the ending.

Great cast, reasonably well acted. The poor quality of the print—soft and reddish—hurts quite a bit. I wind up with $1.00.

One Response to “Box Office Gold, Disc 1”

  1. Steven Kaye says:

    I wish more directors had realized James Coburn could act – Affliction is a wonderful, if painful to watch, movie.