1950’s

[5.5] Gregory Peck is Captain Ahab in John Huston’s adaptation of Melville’s classic novel. Peck is reliably charismatic in the role, and the movie is at its best when it stays with him. Huston’s style is not an overly romantic one — which I think would have suited the movie better. I enjoyed the first thirty minutes the most, up through Ahab’s introduction and his …

[6.0] From a technical and artistic point of view, this may be the finest animated film ever made. But it’s also dull. I dislike how the three floating fat ladies (Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather) steal the show, while the prince and princess are given all the personality of tree stumps. Fortunately, artistry goes a long way. Sleeping Beauty is Disney’s most exquisite work. I love …

[8.0] François Truffaut made his feature directorial debut with this semi-autobiographical tale of a disenfranchised twelve-year-old Parisian boy who takes his first steps into a life of petty crime. Truffaut went into The 400 Blows with an admirable mission statement — to capture the very real malaise of pre-pubescence. Truffaut’s doppelganger is Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), whose escalating infractions with his school and parents threaten to …

[4.0] Aliens in flying saucers contact a scientist about their plan to enslave all the humans of Earth! This atomic age flick is slow going until the last ten minutes, when effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen gets to destroy Washington D.C. Aside from the big finish, this movie suffers from the usual pitfalls of the era, including bad acting, over reliance on stock footage, and silly …

[6.0] Gordon Scott’s second outing at Tarzan is far better than his first, and it’s also the first Tarzan film to be shot in color! This time around, the loinclothed lord is tasked with helping five passengers of a crashed airplane safely out of the jungle. Along the way, our heroes have to contend with a traitorous big game hunter and a reclusive tribe of …

[4.5] Vincent Price headlines as a millionairre who offers $10,000 to five people if they’ll spend the night with him and his wife in their haunted hilltop mansion. The house is the site of countless murders and is supposed to be haunted by ghosts. But is it the paranormal the guests should be afriad of? Or is it Price and his wife, who seem to …

[7.0] The residents of a small California town are slowly being replaced by otherworldly “pod people” and it’s up to Kevin McCarthy and Carolyn Jones to warn the rest of the world about the invasion. This original film version is a modestly-budgeted but effective sci-fi/horror flick. It’s emblematic of the ’50s for its allegorical use of the Red Scare, but it also suffers from some …

[5.5] Peter Cushing returns for Hammer’s first sequel to their highly successful Curse of Frankenstein. Cushing’s mad doctor escapes the guillotine and sets up camp in a new town, where he transplants the brain of his deformed assistant into a reanimated corpse. For campy horror fun, Revenge of Frankenstein begins and ends well, but the middle portion is pretty unremarkable — an uninspired rehash of …

[6.0] An army rocket returning from Venus crash lands in the Mediterranean, releasing a Venusian creature that wreaks havoc in Italy. This matinee monster movie is better than most of its kind. The first thirty minutes are surprisingly strong, building mystery and suspense very nicely. After that, the movie becomes a bit of a King Kong knock off. Effects master Ray Harryhausen once again succeeds …

[5.0] This monster romp was the first solo effort by effects wizard Ray Harryhausen. All the stop-motion animation has the usual Harryhausen charm, including a famous scene where the dinosaur rages down Wall Street and chomps on a policeman. Unfortunately, there’s not much else going for this creature feature until that point. The story is one of the earliest to feature atomic mutation, but the …

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