HoF

Nov 292018
 
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Learning that King Richard was captured by Duke Leopold of Austria on his way home from the crusade, his brother John seizes the throne of England. However, his tyrannical rule is opposed by a revolt led by the astonishingly merry Robin of Locksley. While Errol Flynn was born to play the role of Robin Hood, the decision to switch directors during filming resulted in an uneven movie. Read More…

Nov 222018
 
Texas

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
The miniseries presents the history of Texas from the establishment of Stephen Austin’s first colony in 1823 to the annexation of Texas by the United States in 1846. Lacking the budget required to receate the battle of the Alamo, the producers simply re-used footage from John Wayne’s movie The Alamo. While the script deserves credit for showing the reaction of the native Tejanos to the American colonists, the acting makes the miniseries hard viewing. Read More…

Nov 082018
 
Journey's End (2017)

Rating: ★★★★☆
A British company commences a six-day rotation at the front in March 1918. The company’s section of the line has not seen any action for a year, but an attack is expected in the next few days, and a sense of dread builds among the officers and soldiers as they hear the German troop trains every night. Based on a play and filmed shortly after the introduction of sound, the original version was extremely talky, and focused almost entirely on the efforts of the company commander to cope with terror through copious consumption of whiskey. While keeping the basic story, this version has benefited greatly from the addition of many new scenes, making it one of the better movies on WWI. Read More…

Oct 182018
 
The Alamo: Thirteen Days to Glory

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
As the title says, the film examines the thirteen-day-long siege of the Alamo during the Texan Revolution. The best thing that I can say is that Raul Julia clearly had fun playing Santa Anna, more fun than I had watching the movie. At least, this version dreamed up some new inaccuracies. Honestly, it is better than several versions in the 1940 and 50s. Please do not misunderstand, I am not saying that it is good but there are worse. Read More…

Oct 112018
 
Robin Hood (1922)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Prince John seizes control of England while King Richard is absent on crusade. Aware that the king would abandon the crusade if he knew, the earl of Huntington returns to England and becomes the robber chief Robin Hood to oppose John’s harsh rule. Although the movie was a grueling experience, the stunts are wicked, and worthy of Jackie Chan. To be fair, there is some history, but this is for silent film buffs only. Read More…

Oct 042018
 
The Lion in Winter

Rating: ★★★½☆
The recent death of his heir forces King Henry II of England to re-arrange his succession plans, so he invites his two eldest sons Richard and Geoffrey, and his captive queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, as well as King Philip II of France, to spend Christmas with him, his youngest son John and his ward Alice, Philip’s half-sister. Compressing years of plotting into a single weekend, the movie is a correct description of the countless plots and revolts that produced numerous burned farms and dead peasants simply to improve the relative position of one family member. Read More…

Sep 202018
 
Robin Hood (2010)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Even though it is called Robin Hood, I honestly have the impression that director Ridley Scott wanted to make a movie about England during WWII, since all of the men are away fighting in France, and everyone fears invasion. The story of an archer who convinces King John to sign a charter granting equal rights to all Englishmen, but becomes too popular and is declared an outlaw, the film is filled with an astonishing number of historical inaccuracies. In particular, the decision to transform a nasty squabble between two rival families over territory in Europe into a conflict between the English and the French produces a movie that has little to do with history. Read More…

Sep 062018
 
Journey's End (1930)

Rating: ★★½☆☆
Focusing on the officers of a single British company on the front line line near the end of WWI, the script makes no effort to explain the overall strategic situation, choosing instead to present the officers’ struggle to remain sane. Based on a play, over-talkiness is to be expected, especially since sound was a recent addition to films, even so the actors’ delivery was hard to take. Although the film is noteworthy as an early look at the grinding effect that the nightmarish experience in the trenches had on soldiers, it is hard to watch, and suitable only for fans of early sound films and WWI buffs. Read More…

Jul 052018
 
Davy Crockett King of the Wild Frontier

Rating: ★★½☆☆
Initially, three episodes that were shown as the Disney television miniseries Davy Crockett, the movie presents Crockett as a frontiersman, congressman and one of the defenders of the Alamo. Honestly, I was surprised, it’s not bad. Better than most movies on the Alamo, and it shows the full scope of Crockett’s eventful life. Read More…

May 312018
 
Dunkirk

Rating: ★★½☆☆
The portrayal of the evacuation of more than three hundred thousand British soldiers from Dunkirk, France across the Channel back to England, Dunkirk is a disappointment, despite an excellent start. Essentially forty minutes of story shown three times from different perspectives, the film’s main weakness is that it takes a script suitable for a television episode and transforms it into a movie by simply showing the same scenes over and over. Director Christopher Nolan had a vision of a waking nightmare, a mix of terror and confusion. Since he wrote the screenplay and directed the film, he succeeded in transferring his vision from his mind to the screen. As a work of art, that is an admirable achievement. As a portrayal of a key moment in WWII, it is less successful. Read More…

May 172018
 
Godfather Mendoza

Rating: ★★½☆☆
Don Rosalio Mendoza prospers during the Mexican Revolution by remaining friends with both the Zapatistas and the federal forces. Although he has no interest in either side, and is determined to ensure the continued existence of his hacienda by lavishly entertaining both sides, he becomes close friends with a Zapatista general, who serves as his son’s godfather. As the fighting continues, Mendoza fears for the safety of his wife and son, and plans to move to Mexico City, but finds himself faced with a horrible choice. Read More…

May 102018
 
Prisoner 13

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
A film about a corrupt military officer, who accepts a bribe to release a revolutionary, but unknowingly arranges for his long-lost son to to take the prisoner’s place, Prisoner 13 is essentially a morality play due to the twist ending. While the film does not say much about the Mexican Revolution, it is interesting and must have been quite daring for the time. Given the grim atmosphere, it is recommended for fans of Pre-code film and film buffs but not the average viewer. Read More…

Apr 262018
 
Ironclad

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Viewers of Ironclad may believe that the film is about the fight between King John, who wished to reclaim the absolute power that had been taken from him when he had been forced to sign the Magna Carta, and the barons, who were fighting to preserve the rights of the common people and the nation itself. Cynics may complain that the barons were simply concerned with their own rights, not the rights of the smelly peasants. However, the film is really the struggle of the sex-starved young wife of the castle’s lord to persuade a Templar knight to break his vow of celibacy and satisfy her carnal needs. The story of a leader who gathers a group of disillusioned warriors, preferably seven, to defend a place against huge odds is not new in film history, and Ironclad is not a notable addition to the record. Filled with a cast of solid character actors who have all done better work, the film needed a better script. Still, it is relatively enjoyable and relatively accurate. Read More…

Apr 192018
 
The Torch

Rating: ★★½☆☆
Maria Dolores, a wealthy young woman, is preparing for her wedding when the town is occupied by rebels. A chance encounter with Maria Dolores causes the rebel general to fall in love with her, attracted equally by her beauty and her temper. A mix between Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew and Morocco, viewers won’t learn much about the Mexican Revolution but it is entertaining. Read More…

Apr 122018
 
And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself

Rating: ★★★½☆
Forced to buy weapons on the black market by President Woodrow Wilson’s embargo, Pancho Villa (Antonio Banderas) sells exclusive rights to film his battles against President Victoriano Huerta to Mutual Studios. Although the movie may seem the feverish idea of a screenwriter who is a fan of both early Hollywood and the Mexican Revolution, and tried to jam two unrelated scripts together, it is based on real events. As a loving tribute to the silent film era, it is a success. While the portrayal of Pancho Villa at the height of his power is effective, the film limits itself to Villa, ignoring the rest of the Mexican Revolution.
Read More…

Nov 232017
 
Men of the Fighting Lady

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Set on an American aircraft carrier during the Korean War, a squadron of bomber pilots question the value of their mission. Similar to The Bridges at Toko-ri (1954), the two films share much in common including the respectful presentation of the dangers of air rescue and the frustration of married veterans of WWII called back into service, but Men of the Fighting Lady is filmed like a documentary, and appears to be intentionally boring. To be fair, it is an effective documentary. The planes are beautiful, and the bombing scenes use stock footage from the Korean War, which gives the film an authentic feel. Read More…

Nov 022017
 
Pancho Villa

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Pancho Villa’s raid on Columbus, New Mexico, which led to the American Intervention in Mexico, is presented as a comedy. To be honest, the screenwriter seems to have done little research, focusing instead on the comedic elements of the script with uneven success. Every scene with Telly Savalas is fun to watch, but it is unlikely that viewers will learn anything about the Mexican Revolution. The action sequences are imaginative if low-budget. In fact, the director seems fascinated with trains, since most of the action involves various scenarios of train collisions. Read More…

Oct 262017
 
The Newton Boys

Rating: ★★½☆☆
Tired of picking cotton, an ex-convict teams up with a safecracker to rob banks at night in the early 1920s, recruiting his brothers to help. The film’s strengths are the cast, especially Matthew McConaughey, Skeet Ulrich, Ethan Hawke, and Vincent D’Onofrio, and the presentation of the mechanics of robbing a bank, in particular an explanation of how to use nitroglycerine to blow safes. The script is relatively accurate but Richard Linklater’s direction is merely adequate, resulting in a film that lacks life. Having achieved critical success with the low-budget independent films Slacker (1990), Dazed and Confused (1993) and Before Sunrise (1995), The Newton Boys was Linklater’s first Hollywood film, and he would avoid action films afterwards. Read More…

Oct 122017
 
Man of Conquest

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Although the film covers the entire Texan Revolution, it is presented as a chapter in the life of Sam Houston, so viewers will actually learn little about the revolution, especially since the script is a giant mess of inaccuracies. Oddly enough for a film about a revolution, the endless talk about freedom means there is little time for battles. Read More…

Oct 052017
 
Alfred the Great

Rating: ★★½☆☆
To the best of my knowledge, this is the only film about Alfred the Great, and it is a disappointment. For a movie with numerous battles, the fight choreography is surprisingly weak. The film avoids a glossy portrayal of the period, and Alfred is genuinely unlikeable, vain and abusive towards his wife. Although the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok led the Danish invasion of England, the script ignores the Lothbrok dynasty, highlighting instead Guthrum, a later leader. Since the script focuses mainly on Alfred’s struggle to choose between the Church and the defence of the kingdom, there is little time left for political complexities. A slapstick comedy without the humor, Alfred the Great fails to explain the role played by Alfred in the creation of England. Read More…

Sep 142017
 
Dragonfly Squadron

Rating: ★½☆☆☆
In 1950, an American officer is assigned to train South Korean pilots as war with North Korea seems increasingly likely. If ever there was a film that is a waste of time and money, this is it. For a movie about aviation, there is little air combat. Or entertainment.
Read More…

Aug 172017
 
The Last Kingdom Season Two

The focus in season two moves north to show what has been happening while Uhtred has been keeping Wessex safe for Saxons. Having driven the Danes out of southern England, Alfred wants order, Christianity and an end to Viking rule in Northumbria. Drawn into Alfred’s schemes, Uhtred makes Guthred, a Dane, king of all of Northumbria, both Dane and Saxon. Many mean, nasty people are killed along the way. Meanwhile, Uhtred continues to make life hard for himself, worsened by Alfred’s admission that he does not trust his pagan warlord, leaving Wessex less prepared when the next wave of gold-hungry Vikings arrives, led by the brothers Erik and Sigfried. Read More…