Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '56 - Colin McGuigan ""

Friday, December 2, 2016

Underrated '56 - Colin McGuigan

"My name's Colin McGuigan. I'm originally from Northern Ireland but resident in Greece for many years now. I've been a fan of classic Hollywood as long as I can remember and caught the western bug early on - watching Randolph Scott on Saturday afternoons on TV probably sealed it for me. It's a vast genre, always offering up new surprises and even the stuff I've become most familiar has the ability to reveal different aspects and perspectives. I've come to love the westerns of the 50s most of all, even though I can and do appreciate every era, and feel that decade saw the genre at the peak of its maturity and sophistication."

Colin's Blog is 'Riding The High Country' - found here:

Colin also did both Underrated Thrillers and Underrated Westerns lists for RPS previously:

He did an Underrated '55 list as well:
7th Cavalry (Joseph H Lewis)
Let's start with a western, and a Randolph Scott one at that. And in a series devoted to underrated titles what's better than to begin with a movie that I've probably undervalued myself. It has an intriguing premise in its post Little Big Horn setting and there's at least one half of a very good film in there, maybe more if you just sit back and enjoy the work and company of the actors and the director involved.
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While the City Sleeps (Fritz Lang)
From the Old West, we move on to neon and shadows, the urban jungle of film noir. There were, and I think still are, people who will tell you that the movies made by Fritz Lang towards the end of his time in Hollywood are among his weaker efforts. He had altered his style somewhat by this stage and it's perhaps not so surprising that it doesn't appeal to everyone. For myself, I like it and find this an absorbing and caustic look at the questionable morality the media.
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Attack (Robert Aldrich)
I guess most film fans know the name of Robert Aldrich seeing as he made a number of highly regarded critical and commercial hits over a longish career. Attack isn't a title that will spring to mind readily with many though, even though it deserves to. War movies aren't to everyone's taste, which may be part of the reason for its relative obscurity among the director's other work, but it's hard to ignore a film that pits an on-the-edge Jack Palance against a weak-willed Eddie Albert while Lee Marvin coolly observes from the sidelines.
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23 Paces to Baker Street (Henry Hathaway)
One of the most versatile and consistently entertaining directors working in classic era Hollywood was Henry Hathaway, a man capable of turning his hand successfully to just about any kind of movie you care to think of. This one sees him in the UK and taking on an unusual mystery based on Philip MacDonald's novel Warrant for X. It's well acted, tightly directed and looks handsome in 'scope.
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The Green Man (Robert Day)
We'll stay in Britain for this sharp black comedy from the pen of Launder & Gilliat. It has one of those marvelous casts that you often find in British comedies of the time but the stand-out performer is the incomparable Alastair Sim. His sly comic skills are always a joy to watch and he was blessed with one of those voices that I could happily listen to simply reading names from the telephone directory.
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The Ogre of Athens - Ο Δράκος (Nikos Koundouros)
You don't tend to hear a lot about Greek cinema, not in comparison to other forms of world cinema anyway. Part of the reason for that may be that back in the classic era a lot of its output fell into the comedy and/or musical category, genres which don't necessarily travel all that well and frequently lose something in translation. This film is a solid thriller though, a kind of Greek noir that is strong enough to slug it out with what Hollywood had to offer in terms of dark cinema. It proves that classic Greek cinema had some teeth, and helped pave the way for serious dramas like Lola and The Red Lanterns in the following decade.


john k said...

Apart from the Greek Noir entry which is off radar for a middle lowbrow like yours
truly I totally endorse your other splendid entries.
ATTACK I need to see again after some considerable time.
I'm so glad that you chose 7th CAVALRY because I have unintentionally been on a sort of
"Custer binge" the past week or so..
I more or less binge watched LITTLE BIG MAN,CHIEF CRAZY HORSE and THE GLORY GUYS (not a
Custer film but it has a Custer like character and the Indians win!) I totally love all those three and was constantly reminded of Lewis' film which I also love.Lewis,by all accounts
would have rather not made such a "Custer Friendly" film,still it's fun seeing Randy
in charge of the most winging Cavalry troop in film history.
Colin,my friend-very well done and I'm sure I speak for all your fans that the sooner
RTHC is back the better.
Finally,as I'm sure you know the Hathaway entry is soon to appear on Blu Ray from a 4K restoration-should look incredible.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, John, glad you liked the picks here.
I haven't been much in the mood to write lately, but I did fire off a guest post for my mate Sergio at his very fine site here -


Jerry Entract said...

Like John, I am ignorant when it comes to many foreign-language films but that apart I loved your eclectic and interesting choices here, Colin.

"WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS" is a gripping, witty and finely-acted late masterpiece from Lang, in my book.

"THE 7th CAVALRY" receives its share of brickbats from many knowledgable quarters but when I re-watched it recently I found myself unable to agree largely. Not perfect by any means but a pretty darned fair Scott western and a little different for him.

Totally agree about Hathaway, a fabulous director when at his peak, and "23 PACES..." is a polished and well-rounded effort. Plus, I always enjoy Cecil Parker.

As for "THE GREEN MAN", it is a wonderful example of good British black comedy. Raymond Huntley is wonderfully supercilious and Alastair Sim is simply priceless.

Really good to see your creative juices flowing, as always, Colin.

Anonymous said...

Some great choices here - not seen OGRE but will try to now. I agree about the Lang, I only really appreciated his later films once I was much older.

noirencyclopedia said...

The Ogre of Athens/Ο Δράκος/O Drakos has been very much in my sights for the past few months -- circumstances have conspired against my watching it, but the moment surely can't be delayed much longer. I'm a bit of a fan of the Lang, too, and The Green Man is splendid -- like Colin, I'm a huge fan of Sim. (As a child I saw him on stage playing Prospero. Those were the days, eh?)

Anonymous said...

Always good to hear of other fans of Sim! And do try to catch up with OGRE, I feel it's definitely worthwhile.


Kristina said...

Real interesting! I love the 1st three-- and have been promising myself a Randolph Scott marathon sometime soon since I saw his years ago--but don't know the last two. New titles to be on the lookout for! Cheers

Anonymous said...

Always delighted to be able to pass along a few recommendations that may be less familiar, Kristina.


Silver Screenings said...

"While the City Sleeps" is based on true events, is that right?

As for "Ogre in Athens" sounds like an absolute must-see.

Anonymous said...

Yes, While the City Sleeps does appear to be based on a real-life series of killings, have a look on Wikipedia and you'll get the lowdown.
And yes, you should try to check Ogre out.