Ain't It Cool News (
Movie News

QT QUATTRO Night 3: Heist Thriller Night with Herbert Lom, Michael Caine, Shirley Maclaine and Kirk Douglas...

Welcome to the coverage of the third day of the Quentin Tarantino Film Festival.... This night will be Heist Thriller Night. The all night horror marathon had begun to chip away at stamina levels... I’m not the spring chicken I was 4 years ago... You see... I’m a lot like a young indie filmmaker of today. My first year of covering the fest was bare bones, lean and mean essentials. I didn’t have a lot of skill and wasn’t quite able to type as well... By year two I had developed a level of confidence to be able to write more complete analysis of the films and the coverage of the event. I began getting a bit artsy fartsy with my coverage. Then... with the third festival, I found my coverage getting longer and longer and longer... So long that some told me I need to begin editing... So this time out... I’m trying to keep these things from being 5000 words, trying to boil the events to a little more than just the essentials... trying to place you in the mood... and at the same time... giving and serving the films the justice they deserve. Now... Let’s see if these hot shot filmmakers go from perilously long third films to leaner and meaner fourth flicks.... Hmmmm.... (hehehehe, complain about me not having coverage done will ya Quentin?)

NOW.... Let’s move on to Heist Night. Now... This is a genre that Quentin has made one of the truly wonderful films in... so he should know the genre pretty well... I was fairly confident this would be a grand night coming in... even though I was not familiar with either GAMBIT or THE MASTER’S TOUCH. There was a third... midnight film... but it was out of genre... a Philipino Blaxploitation Women in Prison Pirate film called THE MUTHERS....

Now, as Quentin took the stage... He began by... “When I was working at the video store before RESERVOIR DOGS, I used to be in charge of putting together a genre shelf each week... like Women in Prison films and the like, wellll one day I was putting together a Heist shelf and I was looking at the titles and realized... maaan, there are a lot of really good heist movies and that’s how it began” Now... we all know how Quentin adapted aspects of TAKING OF PELHAM 123 and CITY ON FIRE for RESERVOIR DOGS... but it is nice to see other films that Quentin has in his cortex from the same genre...

The first film up tonight was GAMBIT... GAMBIT is now among my top 250 films or so. I soooo completely love this movie. Now here’s the thing... you should not investigate too much about this film. YOU NEED TO SEE IT.

The movie was written by folks that had worked on THE HUSTLER, PAPER MOON, STRAIGHT TIME, etc. But it feels like a classic movie from the thirties or forties, but with that cool sixties ROMAN HOLIDAY vibe to it.

The director is Ronald Neame... who is probably best known for directing THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE... which was the first film I ever saw in my third week of existence at the Paramount theater here in Austin... well, Ronald I do believe might not of ever made a better film than GAMBIT, though as cinematographer... his work on BLITHE SPIRIT and ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING is exemplary. However, just the sheer magical charm of this film completely swept me up.

However, though the writing on this film be very very genius... in fact, there are a couple of moments where the writing is so good that you can feel the swelling upon your forehead from the frying pan they smacked you with. And while that writing completely wins you... You are left with the idea that... My god... Herbert Lom, Shirley Maclaine and Michael Caine are the three most wonderful perfect people ever assembled for a perfect little piece of magic.

Now... Before entering the theater, Quentin and I were chatting and he asked me if I had ever seen GAMBIT, and I looked over at the poster very briefly and said, “No... but I’m a huge Herbert Lom fan.” To which Tarantino responded, “Ooooh man, you are going to Love him in this!” and the entire time he said it, he had that... I know something you don’t know... look in his eye that was just insidious.

Now, I can hear some of you wise asses saying... Harry... how can you be a big fan of Herbert Lom... who the hell is that? Well you uneducated heathen... Herbert Lom is a badass... Yeah, I know... most of you think of Herbert Lom as Chief Inspector Dreyfus from all those PINK PANTHER movies and as being Peter Seller’s foil in all those Blake Edwards comedies... But ya know.... if that’s all you know about Herbert Lom... that’s just sad... because the man was a god. As a child, I was terrified of Herbert Lom... what he represented to me was ultimate mysterious meglamaniacal power. Herbert Lom was my Captain Nemo and my pre Darth Vader, Darth Vader. You ever see... EL CID? This is one of my top 20... love with every fibre of my being films. Herbert Lom played that black turban wearing insane eyes that paralyze... Ben Yussuf... the Moorish warlord that will destroy EL CID and all of Spain. He is death, black cold and evil. And for quite some time, he was my Boogie Man... Herbert Lom is a fantastic actor of great range and the PINK PANTHER films typecast him as an eye rolling buffoon... now albeit he was great at that, but damn folks... Lom is so much more.

Case in point, GAMBIT. Herbert Lom plays his Omar Shariff romantic love struck suave pimp daddy billionaire of the Middle East. He’s the foil... the character whom... well, you’ll see... BUT what I love, is they never play to parody... His Shahbandar is the man. Possibly the best played super rich guy in film history.

Now the flipside of the coin is Shirley Maclaine who... DAMMMMMN, what a sweetheart. Shirley... ya know folks, before age crept up on the wondrous Ms Maclaine, she was simply one of the cutest most adorable... love and squeeze and take care of her forever gals you ever did see. She’s playing her Eliza Doolittle role here, and ya know what... As the character stands here... I would take her over Audrey Hepburn any day of the week... I mean dear lord and pass the ammunition I’m in love... Shirley, I will pierce you with my ACK ACK of Loooove....

And then... there is poor ol Michael Caine. Caine is great here, but he falls pray to two characters that are so well written and played that he can only be their David Niven. He plays it with a certain drop of Peachy... and a half teaspoon of ALFIE... and as a result there is a certain adorable roguish demeanor to him that I like. But Lom and Maclaine are the jewels... Caine is the setting.

The heist? Well, find the movie... according to IMDB it is currently available on VIDEO only.. by all means... GET THE MOVIE... If you like films like ROMAN HOLIDAY, CHARADE and the like... You should adore this film.

Next up was a completely different... kinda what I expected from Quentin’s Heist night type of film. THE MASTER’S TOUCH, an Italian Heist film starring Kirk Douglas.

My background in ITALIAN cinema is pretty darn good in Horror, the Neo-Realist movement and Spaghetti Westerns... But in the other genres... I’m a complete imbecile... So it was with great attention that I spent to trying to grip and hold on to what Quentin said about the film. Unfortunately... as he began firing out at a million miles a minute the various names and identities of the directors, screenwriters, producers and actors... whom’s names all ended with a “o” or an “i” I just got lost... I mean... Quentin knows his Italian cinema of the sixties and seventies, like I know my musical, monster, noir/crime and adventure films of the 30s, 40s and 50s. And usually when I talk about those... it shoots by too fast for most...

This particular festival is showing quite a bit of Italian films... especially the night I’m heading into with is ITALIAN CRIME FILMS... (Can’t wait), so basically... this is my beginner course. The funny thing is... I have probably 50 or so scores and compilations of scores to Italian films... But only a few films that I’ve seen.

So as I watched this Kirk Douglas flick I was trying to pick up on the vibe. Well... let me tell you this... If this film is indicative at all of the genre of Italian Crime flicks... I’m in for a helluva night tonight. Kirk Douglas plays his character about half War Wagony and the other half Colonel Dax. You can see this playful goshness about him... but then there is that deadly... I will die for what I believe in earnestness that his Dax has. Meanwhile... he moves about with a complete and total assuredness... He really is great as the recently released world class thief, that wants to pull the... ONE LAST JOB... and retire bit.

However, as much as I like Kirk Douglas in this film... this Italian actor named Giuliano Gemma who plays MARCO is fantastic. He’s a circus trapeze artist that gets involved with Douglas. He’s acrobatic, charming and just steals the show for me. He also has like all the best scenes in the film, in terms of action. His car chase and fist fight scenes and liquor store fight are all wonderful.... BUT a special nod has to go to the car chase in this film. This is the best car chase I’ve seen at any of the Quentin Fests... with the exception of FREEBIE AND THE BEAN which had... something so great and fantastic that it boggled the very tissue of the brain.

Ultimately though... the film is serious and deadly as a heart beat... It left the audience silent... and morose. EXCELLENT FILM.

The next film was out of genre... It’s that Philipino Blaxploitation Women In Prison Pirate film I mentioned above... THE MUTHERS. Now... Earlier today... before arriving at the theater, I was at El Capitan Pedro Sangre’s (aka Peter Blood) villa (aka castle) and his beautiful Arabella Bishop (aka his wife) and the adorable little daughter... Irena Dubrovna... a real babe... were socializing and eating the flesh of cows seared by charcoal in a very non-Texas way of doing things... foreigners... sigh... Anyway... the point of this non-sequitor is that Peter Blood told me that he wouldn’t be here tonight to watch this film because he’d seen it... and it was... not good.

So, Imagine my surprise when this film began kicking exploitation ass right at the 10 minute mark. I mean... it has all of the high water marks in a Women in Prison film... but it also has this strange bizarre out of this world PIRATE motif with gunboats and cannons and mortars and machine guns.... And then you have the whole double agent for the government angle, the typical yummy lesbian hints... lots and lots of wet breasts and see through tan tops with excellent headlight action going on. In the exploitation genre... what I want is to not be bored, to see a lot of fun weird and wacky stuff... of which this film has in spades. You need to have beautiful attractive women, lots of nudity.... And... God willing, the dialogue needs to be filled with inflections and memorable lines. When one character has a snake bite her breast she says, “Just like every other snake I run into, they always messing with my tits.” or... the inflection in the way one character says, “FUCK serena.” Now the all caps is because you scream the first word... and then softly say the proper name... Serena. The way and reason that is said just kills you.

The action is pretty good, the... ‘these girls are soooo screwed’ level of tension is very high. I’ll watch this film and cheer with glee about a 20 times before I’ll even allow someone to hold up the box for BREAKDOWN PALACE... that was some lame shit... at a high price. Here... Philipino director Cirio H Santiago did some fine work here and man this movie was a blast. Check it out if you ever get the chance... for one... Rosanne Kanton and Jeannie Bell are just a pair of the sweetest women you ever did see... and while playing the pirates... it’s like they’re doing it for your own personal fetishistic delight.... Enjoy..

That wrapped up Night 3.... Next night will be SEX NIGHT... and boy is there some stories there...

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus