Film Four & Film Four +1 05-06-08.

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FILM4 05 Jun 2008

The Dark Corner
(1946) Quality film noir from Henry Hathaway, cunningly plotted and ominously atmospheric.
Lucille Ball stars in this quality film noir. Cunningly plotted and ominously atmospheric, a down-at-heel private eye finds himself accused of a murder he didn't commit
Long before she found fame as the dizzy wannabe starlet in sitcom 'I Love Lucy', Lucille Ball had a reputation for brightening up even the dullest studio-made drama. The Dark Corner catches her just before she entered the big league and the result is a highly accomplished thriller, undeservedly eclipsed by her later achievements.
Here she plays the secretary to private investigator Bradford Galt (Stevens). Having already done time for manslaughter, Galt's looking for a fresh start. But before long he's being trailed by a mysterious white-suited thug (Bendix) and sucked into a nightmarish frame-up while Kathleen (Ball) looks on helpless.
With its wheels-within-wheels plot it's a film that grows increasingly compelling and Stevens and Ball generate some tension of their own, he with his flirty little asides, she by tugging seductively at her nylons. A bluesy score emphasises the seedy vibe and though the film doesn't have the scope of, say, The Maltese Falcon, it's still a deadly thriller laced with style and pitch-black wit.

Sailor Of The King
(1953) Action drama starring Jeffrey Hunter as a Canadian serving in the WW2 Royal Navy who is taken prisoner by the German raider that sinks his ship.Second World War drama directed by Roy Boulting. Jeffrey Hunter stars as a Royal Navy crewman waging a one-man campaign against a damaged German warship
With his twin brother John, Roy Boulting began making feature films just prior to the Second World War. During the war, they worked on impressive feature length documentaries that chronicled major aspects of the Allied campaign - Desert Victory (1943), Tunisian Victory (1944, with Frank Capra) and Burma Victory (1945). They returned to fiction after the war, notably with 1947's Brighton Rock (in which John and Roy swapped producer and director roles), but 1953's Sailor Of The King was a return to the conflict, even though it was not based on reality. It instead drew on the novel 'Brown On Resolution' by Englishman CS Forester, writer of 'The African Queen' and creator of Horatio Hornblower. Forester's novel was a 1929 adventure yarn set during the First World War and had already been adapted once before, for the 1935 film Brown On Resolution (aka Forever England) starring John Mills. Here the action is updated but the plot remains essentially the same.
Jeffrey Hunter - the dashingly handsome American actor familiar to 'Star Trek' fans as Pike, the Enterprise's captain prior to Kirk - stars as seaman Brown, the Canadian illegitimate son of Richard Saville (Rennie), a high ranking officer in the British navy. Brown serves in the Royal Navy aboard a cruiser that's sunk by the German pocket battleship Essen. Only Brown and the injured Petty Officer 'Stokes' Wheatley (Lee) survive the attack and they're picked up by the Essen and taken prisoner. Although the Essen prevailed, it was heavily damaged so it has to put in for repairs at the deserted Resolution Island. This gives Brown an opportunity to steal a rifle and some ammunition and escape, swimming ashore to the dry - if barren and decidedly inhospitable - land.

The Sons Of Katie Elder
(1965) A group of brothers return to their hometown for their mother's funeral and set about trying to reclaim the family ranch from a card shark.
John Wayne and Dean Martin star in this western about brothers investigating the death of their father and the virtual eviction of their recently deceased mother
The Sons Of Katie Elder The slightly strange pairing of 'Duke' Wayne and lounge lizard Dean Martin that marked Howard Hawks' 1959 classic Rio Bravo was reprised in this western directed by veteran Henry Hathaway. Hathaway was an old hand at such things, having started his career in the 1930s directing westerns, before going on to make such hits as Rawhide (1951). A few years after The Sons Of Katie Elder he directed Wayne in his first and only Oscar-winning role in True Grit (1965). Hathaway wasn't renowned as a stylist or innovator, but he knew how to handle landscapes and tell a story in a straightforward manner. Such is the case here, the Mexican countryside standing in for Texas and captured with that classic combination of Technicolor and Panavision widescreen.
On the day of the funeral of their mother Katie, three of the Elder boys - Tom (Martin), Matt (Holliman) and young Bud (Anderson Jr) are back in the Texas town of Clearwater, waiting at the railway station for the arrival of their oldest sibling John (Wayne). He doesn't arrive. Instead, a dangerous looking man in black (Kennedy) gets off the train. He's the sort who sets off the alarm bells of old sheriff Billy (Fix) and gets his zealous young deputy Ben (Slate) itching.

Cheaper By The Dozen
(2003) Family comedy starring Steve Martin as the stressed-out father of 12 brats. Shawn Levy's warm-hearted family comedy also stars Piper Perabo. Family comedy starring Steve Martin as the stressed-out father of 12 brats
Cheaper By The Dozen Cheaper By The Dozen is loosely based on a best-selling memoir from the 1940s about growing up in a large family, so it's hardly surprising that it is so unashamedly old-fashioned. Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt are Tom and Kate, the parents of the Baker brood: 12 irritating urchins, the raising of which has necessitated abandoning promising careers as, respectively, a football coach and a sports reporter. That's okay though, because for the Bakers family is everything. When Tom gets offered his dream job coaching his alma mater football team, they uproot from their safe hick country town to the soulless big city.
It's not hard to predict what happens next: kids get bullied, kids hate dad. However, things get worse when Hunt's quirky book about raising such a big family becomes a success and she goes on a promotional tour leaving Martin in charge at the very moment he has to dedicate more time to his new job. Cue kids running around trashing their new home, slipping in sick and throwing darts at each other in a collective bid for attention while Martin fumbles in his dual role as father and a career man.
Which is all as horrible as it sounds. The kids are so screechy it's like listening to a cat fight for 90 minutes. Worst of all, it's cloying and sentimental, lessons are learned and big career dreams are once again abandoned in favour of a life of servitude to precocious offspring.

Alien Vs Predator
(2004) When Charles Bishop Weyland's satellites detect a pyramid buried under the Antarctic ice, he assembles a team of scientists to investigate.An archaeological expedition to the Antarctic is reduced to chaos when the scientists become embroiled in a conflict between two savage extraterrestrial species. Science-fiction franchise clash directed by Paul WS Anderson
Alien Vs. Predator When an Alien skull cropped up in the Predator's trophy cabinet in Predator 2, it was a welcome moment of light relief. Aside from this fleeting gag, the two science fiction franchises have also clashed in numerous computer games, a comic-books and all manner of toys. With 2004's Alien Vs. Predator, the two behemoths go head-to-head on the big screen in a controversial saga-uniting exercise. While it is simple-minded, predictable and fiddles with both the physiognomy of the star beasts and the saga's storylines, Paul Anderson's film isn't the atrocity it could have been. It's just a very average action movie and as such can't help but be disappointing.
With a story that owes as much to John Carpenter's The Thing as to the Alien and Predator series, the picture kicks off with industrialist Charles Weyland Bishop (Henriksen) leading an expedition to Antarctica. Bishop is convinced that he's found the remains of an ancient pyramid on the ice-bound continent. Unfortunately, the temple is now home to a ravenous Alien queen who has busied herself laying eggs. And, if matters weren't already bad enough, a group of Predators is in town to perform a sacred ritual that involves them fighting the Aliens - and the humans who have unsuspectingly gatecrashed their party.

(2005) Cameron Crowe's romantic comedy stars Orlando Bloom as Drew Baylor, a shoe designer who has just cost his company $972 million.
After losing his job, shoe designer Drew Baylor contemplates suicide. Then his life changes when he meets an optimistic airline attendant. Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst star in a film written and directed by Cameron Crowe
Elizabethtown Cameron Crowe has never been the most disciplined of directors. Well known for being unable to let go of his projects, his Oscar-winning Almost Famous (2000) spawned a DVD 'Bootleg Cut' that ran over two-and-a-half hours long. His latest, the wistful romantic comedy Elizabethtown, had 12 minutes pruned from it after a tour of the autumn film festival circuit. Sadly, it's not enough; like life in the eponymous Kentucky town, Crowe's film is amiable enough but slow-paced. A tribute, in part, to his late father, it's also very indulgent and rather hollow at its core. The film begins as hotshot shoe designer Drew Baylor (Bloom) takes an almighty tumble. For the past eight years, he was been working on the oddly-named trainer, the Spasmodica, for the ultra-successful Oregon-based company Mercury Shoes (a thinly disguised take on Nike, located in the same area).
As his boss (Baldwin) informs him, the Spasmodica is a flawed design that's about to lose the company $972 million and "may cause an entire generation to return to bare feet". Quite why - or indeed how - a shoe can lose almost $1 billion we never find out. Either way, Drew loses his job, and considers suicide, saved only by the discovery that his father has just died. Instructed by his mother, Hollie (Sarandon), to head to Elizabethtown to arrange the funeral, the maudlin Drew makes for the airport where he meets Claire Colburn (Dunst), a chirpy airline attendant who bumps him up to first class and gives him her number.

John Carpenter's Vampires
(1998) Master of horror John Carpenter turns his attention to the vampire myth, with James Woods as the leader of a gang of mercenary vampire killers.Macho but moderately inventive contemporary take on vampire mythology. James Woods play a tough-as-nails vampire hunter who goes up against "the first vampire"
John Carpenter's Vampires With proprietary credit firmly in place, Carpenter delivers a rowdy, bloody B-movie starring a typically sardonic Woods as leader of a nomadic band of vampire hunters. The defiantly male-skewed adventure has its Hawksian charm, but Carpenter rouses himself only for the action set pieces (which include a terrific opening).