Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Modesty

Today is Monica Vitti’s 88th birthday, and I decided to celebrate by watching again the 1966 movie Modesty Blaise, based on Peter O’Donnell’s character of the same name.
Now two things I need to make clear: I always loved Monica Vitti, and I always found the Modesty Blaise movie hard to digest.

Monica Vitti

And it is weird, because we are talking a film directed by a giant of British cinema, Joseph Losey, and featuring a cast that includes not only Monica Vitti, but also Terence Stamp, Dirk Bogarde, Harry Andrews and Clive Revill. The problems are others. First, much as Monica Vitti’s voice has always been one of her assets, her accent stops very soon being exotic, and turns out to be just irritating (but that’s just me). Much more important, to me, is the general campiness of the set-up. Now the Modesty Blaise comics and novels were never high literature, but the movie does at time try too hard.

But hey, celebration day, so on we go with Modesty Blaise, 1966.
Or not.

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Raiders of the Lost Franchise: The People that Time Forgot

I first saw 1977 The People that Time Forgot at the local parish cinema. It was probably 1979, I had not yet seen the previous movie in the series and yes, I was thirteen and I was quite impressed by Dana Gillespie’s, ehm… presence.
So sue me.

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Raiders of the Lost Franchise: The Land that Time Forgot

My friend Lucy is doing a Halloween-month series of posts about the Amicus anthology horrors from the ’70s, and talking about the Amicus films, I remembered a pillar of my young education – the Amicus productions of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Novels, The Land that Time Forgot and The People that Time Forgot, plus At The Earth’s Core.
All three movies were directed by Kevin Connor and featured Doug McClure.

So I went and re-watched The Time that Land Forgot, the first and certainly the best of the three movies.

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Raiders of the Lost Franchise: The Phantom (1996)

After The Shadow fizzed at the box office, the hopes, for lovers of old time adventure and pulp-ish entertainment, rested on the Paramount production of The Phantom, based on the classic comic strip by Lee Falk, featuring a stellar cast: Billy Zane, Treat Williams, Kristy Swanson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, James Remar and Patrick McGoohan.
What could ever go wrong?

And really, based on the trailer, one could dream…

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Raiders of the Lost Franchise: The Shadow (1994)

This is one of the two movies that really got us all excited when we learned they were in the making, one that we expected with increasing trepidation. And it is really one of the great missed opportunities of franchise-making cinema – in a parallel universe somewhere, the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn’t exist, and kids go crazy about the Shadowverse.
Or something.
But this is not that universe.

And if I have to explain to you who and what The Shadow is, you are on the wrong blog. One of the most iconic and long-lived pulp characters, The Shadow has been a radio drama host/character, the hero of 325 novels, and has appeared in comics and films for almost a century.
When the 1994 movie was announced, the fans went in overdrive.

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Raiders of the Lost Franchise: Hawk the Slayer (1980)

And we finally come to the true heavyweight among the three “not so bad” early 1980s Conan clones. And Hawk the Slayer is a heavyweight for a number of reasons: because it is a true cult movie, because it was not, in fact, a Conan rip-off at all (it came out two years before the John Milius film), and because it was damn cheap, but it had a heart.
And Jack Palance playing Darth Vader.

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Raiders of the Lost Franchise: The Beastmaster (1982)

The second of the three “not so bad” sword & sorcery movies of the early ’80s features a tiger dyed black, an eagle that normally refused to fly, two weasels and one of Charlie’s Angels, the latter in a role that had been written for Demi Moore. And Rip Torn was in it, too, in a role that had been written for Klaus Kinski.

We are talking of course of Don Coscarelli’s The Beastmaster.
And it’s not really bad. It’s just not very good.

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