Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated Action/Adventure - Hal Horn ""

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Underrated Action/Adventure - Hal Horn

Hal Horn's collaboration with Rupert Pupkin Speaks stretches back to the dawn of time (or circa 2010 - near the beginning). He is always Mr. Johnny-On-The-Spot with a great list of truly underappreciated cinema from a man who clearly adores it. I love his blog, The Horn Section(www.hornsection.blogspot.com) and give it my highest personal recommendation, so scoot on over there!
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AGAINST ALL FLAGS (1952)
In the last of his pirate adventures, Errol Flynn (CAPTAIN BLOOD) is a British officer posing as a deserter to infiltrate a pirate’s base. , Flynn is eyed suspiciously by pirate leader Anthony Quinn but has less trouble convincing the only female Coast Captain, Maureen O’Hara.  As Flynn slowly gathers the needed evidence, O’Hara falls in love with him.  Flynn made this one out on loan to Universal near the end of his long Warner Brothers contract, and it is arguably the most handsomely produced of his post-World War II vehicles, with Quinn making a terrific villain.  Directed by frequent John Wayne collaborator George Sherman, who proves to be very capable outside the western genre.


FINGERMAN (1955)
“B” noir from Allied Artists stars Frank Lovejoy as an ex-con attempting to go straight by cutting a deal with the Feds.  They’ll grant him immunity from prosecution for his last heist, he’ll work undercover and get the needed evidence on mobster Forrest Tucker.  Watched this one initially as a Tuck fan, and found it to be a tight, solid little B film with plenty of action and convincing performances.  Peggie Castle (LAWMAN) and Evelyn Eaton (who both died way too young) are eye catching beauties, but the real show-stealer is a crazed Timothy Carey as Tucker’s main henchman.  Hard to find these days: hopefully it will join the wealth of Fifties treasures that have popped up on Netflix and Epix for streaming.  Directed by Harold D. Schuster (DRAGOON WELLS MASSACRE).

THE ROOTS OF HEAVEN (1958)
Directed by John Huston, Errol Flynn’s penultimate film would have been a much more fitting swan song than the ultra-cheap and clumsy CUBAN REBEL GIRLS was.  Arguably the greatest Hollywood action hero of the 1930’s and 1940’s, Flynn played a disgraced British officer seeking redemption by helping conservationalist Trevor Howard in his crusade against elephant poaching..  Juliette Greco, Eddie Albert, Paul Lukas and Orson Welles co-star.  William Holden was originally cast in Howard’s role, and Howard comes across as too abrasive at times, but the film’s conservationalist stance is admirable and sadly, the topic is more relevant than ever a half century later.  THE ROOTS OF HEAVEN was filmed entirely on location in Chad.  It turns up occasionally on Fox Movie Channel.


THE REIVERS (1969)
Emphasis on adventure here.  THE REIVERS is based on a Faulkner novel, received two Oscar nominations and comes from the height of Steve McQueen’s stardom, but still seems lost in the shuffle these days compared to his better known action films of the period.   At the turn of the 20th century, 11 year old Mitch Vogel lives in Mississippi and his grandfather gets the area’s first automobile: a yellow Winton Flyer.  While Gramps is away, handyman McQueen steals the car, taking Vogel and black stowaway Rupert Crosse with him.   Memphis is the physical destination, but Vogel is really headed for the adult world, and lessons on everything from racism to courage.  Wonderfully understated film contains some of McQueen’s finest work; Crosse (who died of cancer just three years later) received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.


ROAD GAMES (1981)
Yeah, it’s derivative (of both ROAD WARRIOR and REAR WINDOW) but distinguished by a rare heroic turn for Stacy Keach (at least, outside of his MIKE HAMMER TV series) and the Australian outback.  Keach is a motor mouthed trucker whose only companion is a pet dingo(!) as he drives across those plains with a delivery of frozen meat, commenting on anything and everything he sees.  Hearing radio reports of a deranged killer at large and noticing the driver of a green van behaving and driving in a peculiar fashion arouses Keach’s suspicions.   Keach picks up hitchhiker Jamie Lee Curtis, who also suspects something is amiss, and a potentially deadly game is afoot.   Unsettling film best watched late at night, but not really horror.   TCM Underground aired this in the Spring; well worth keeping an eye out for the inevitable repeat showing.


WHITE SQUALL (1996)
Fictionalized version of a true 1961 story, the fate of the Brigantine Albatross.  Emphasis on adventure again; a school sailing trip, with skipper Jeff Bridges leading a group of fourteen male students (Ryan Phillipe and Jeremy Sisto among them) through the Caribbean.  The boys are taught discipline by their tough captain, which will be much needed when the vessel is threatened by the title storm.  Directed by Ridley Scott, WHITE SQUALL is overlong and bombed at the box office, but contains a typically solid performance by Bridges, and hey, who can resist a good seafaring adventure that doubles as a coming of age tale? 

3 comments:

AndyHunt said...

Road games is a true overlooked gem. I am constantly surprised by just how many horror/cult film buffs have no idea about this movie. Perhaps its the lack of full on stabbiness, or its Oz setting that holds it back. what this movie does excel at is a sweaty, paranoid, claustrophobic atmosphere that knocks most road movie horror/thrillers into oblivion. It may be a bit of a hybrid mash up of cultures, styles and genres, but it sure as hell works. I'd team this up with Russell Mulcahy's 'Razorback' for a night of dark demented Aussie shocks.

john knight said...

So glad to see you champion the excellent FINGER MAN.
Sadly this is one of those Allied Artists Pictures not
owned by Warner Archive,and is held by Paramount/Republic.
A DVD release seems highly unlikely and the same thing
applies to DRAGOON WELLS MASSACRE.
Another Allied Artists gem on the missing list is Harold
Schuster's superb JACK SLADE by far the bleakest and
most disturbing Western that I have ever seen!
Good news for fans of "Tuck" the very underrated
FORT MASSACRE is due on Blu-Ray from Explosive in Germany
later this year. The great man plays an Irish cavalry
trooper who thinks that drinking water gives you
cirrhosis of the liver!

Will Errickson said...

Yes, ROAD GAMES! Don't know how it ended up in my Netflix queue a few years back, but I had a great time watching it. Keach and Curtis are at their best. An unexpected treat!