The Maltese Falcon
John Huston’s first movie as director, adapting Dashiel Hammett’s convoluted Sam Spade detective novel into pulsating, zippy film noir. Humphrey Bogart is, of course, excellent in the lead; we also get delightful supporting performances out of Sydney Greenstreet (his screen debut), Peter Lorre and Mary Astor. 101 minutes of celluloid joy.
Freedom Or Death!
American videographer Damian Kolodiy visits the land of his forefathers when anti-government protests start ramping up, and stays until things develop into a (barely) proxy war between Ukraine and Russia. Not the most sophisticated documentary on the subject, but with strong on-the-ground footage.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
The dimple-chinned Aussie model George Lazenby has a shot at being Bond, and it’s a damn good attempt. Played without the pretence of 007 being anything other than a heavy with a bit of charisma, we get the wonderful ‘Bond in love’ sub-plot around crook’s daughter Tracey (Diana Rigg), and some bruising action scenes courtesy of one-and-done director Peter Hunt (who had had a long association with the franchise through his editing work).
Diamonds Are Forever
After Lazenby’s one-movie wrecking ball, Harry and Cubby drag Connery back in for a horrifically-syrupped payday picture. Nobody thought to bring in any writers with a clear idea of what to do. In a clear prefiguring of the Moore years, here it’s all silly names and camp villains and nonsensical villainy, set mainly in Las Vegas for, presumably, budget/time reasons. The odd stand-out moment, but Sean is clearly only here for the money, the plot is lashed together from bits of the earlier films, and it’s at best a messy misfire.
Drab and plodding film about the contribution of Polish pilots to the Battle of Britain. Sure 1969’s Battle Of Britain had its odd anachronisms and soap opera background story, but overall it was a taut and dramatic and, in essence, accurate account of the BoB, including the reluctant deployment by Fighter Command of foreign pilots. Fifty years on and this, however, manages to be both leaden and disingenuous (the main Polish character is played by Welshman Iwan Rhone). And it has none of the aerial majesty of its predecessor.