Author: Leslie Sampson

July 8, 2008 / / Film Notes
June 17, 2008 / / Film Notes

By KJ Hamiltonkiss of death

Kiss of Death – dir. Henry Hathaway – 1947

It all began with an act of desperation: a jewel heist at Christmastime. Nick Bianco (Victor Mature) was an ex-con with a record a mile long, but the most important thing to him was his family. Unable to secure a job, he returned to his old ways in order to have money for Christmas gifts for his family. He was caught, and refused to rat out his partners in crime—on the promise that those partners would take care of his wife and two daughters. Bianco meets an interesting character, Tommy Udo (Richard Widmark), whose laughter is nowhere near as infectious as it is scary. Months go by, and Bianco learns that his family has broken apart as a result of his wife’s suicide. He decides to make a deal with the assistant district attorney, Louis D’Angelo (Brian Donlevy), and is eventually granted parole. He remarries and, with D’Angelo’s help, secures a home, a job, and a different last name. Bianco not only squeals on his partners in crime, he also relates back information that helps to pin Udo as the prime suspect in a murder case and takes the stand at trial. But, when the prosecution’s case falls apart, Bianco is forced to square himself with Udo. There’s only one way to catch a killer: red handed.

June 9, 2008 / / Film Notes
June 9, 2008 / / Film Notes
June 9, 2008 / / Film Notes

By: KJ Hamilton Zelig – dir. Woody Allen – 1983 I am a big fan…

May 20, 2008 / / Film Notes

No Country for Old Men – dir. Joel and Ethan Coen – 2007 – Theatrical Trailer no country

By KJ Hamilton

Would you risk everything for money? It is more than risking all of your winnings in trade for what’s behind Door Number Two. This is your life in exchange for money. What are you worth? It’s said that every man has his price. For this film, the price is $2 million. Vietnam veteran Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is an average Joe who served two tours of duty. He’s married and lives in a doublewide mobile home in a trailer park. While hunting deer in the West Texas desert, he came upon the aftermath of a drug deal gone terribly wrong. He finds a truck bed full of heroin and a suitcase with $2 million in it. He decides to keep the money,  having absolutely no idea that the countdown to the end of his life just began. Each time he eludes his pursuer, he gets closer to the realization that this is blood money, and the blood is his own.

May 12, 2008 / / Film Notes

By KJ Hamiltonwest side story

West Side Storydir. Robert Wise – 1961 Theatrical Trailer

I have a confession to make: I really don’t like love stories. Why? Well, they usually end up one of two ways: Happily Ever After (which is the stuff of fairy tales) or one or both of the lovers die (and I wonder what the point was). West Side Story is the latter, although there are many different levels to this film that I wonder about. For example, although this story takes place in the 1950’s, it is still relevant today. There are still turf wars, and people are still dying for the sake of trying to carve out a niche. That may be an over -simplification, but the fact of the matter remains that it’s beyond unfortunate that rivalry like this still exists. This story has always been a commentary on the social aspects of a society that doesn’t understand its own place in the grand scheme of things.Second: although this love story is hundreds of years old, it’s still poignant, and it doesn’t have to relate to race, it could be wealth, social standing, background, etc. This story has been done and redone; why do people still find it so fascinating? Why is the idea of the rich socialite falling in love with the delinquent biker rebel, for example, so intriguing that it’s retold again and again? Perhaps it speaks to the core of who we are as people and as a society.

May 5, 2008 / / Film Notes

By KJ Hamilton

The Magnificent Seven – John Sturges – 1960

The first time I saw this film; I didn’t really pay attention to it. I was a kid, there was one TV in the house, and I wasn’t allowed to change the channel when the Westerns were on. I didn’t inherit my father’s love of classic, Hollywood Westerns, so I barely remembered the plot.

It’s a classic tale: a poor village in Mexico is terrorized by Calvera (Eli Wallach); who justifies his actions by explaining that he has to have a way to feed himself and his men. The villagers wish to reclaim their crops and their village, but the only thing they know how to do is farm land. So, they seek the advice of an elder, who sends them north to the United States to buy guns. Instead, the men decide to hire gunslingers to help them. Enter Chris Adams (Yul Brynner), a man who is not afraid to go against an entire town to bury a dead Native American who, even in death, was shunned. The villagers are fascinated with his confidence, and seek him out. They plead with Adams to help them win back their village. Adams accepts their offer and immediately hires more men to join him: Vin (Steve McQueen), Bernardo (Charles Bronson), Lee (Robert Vaughn), Harry (Brad Dexter) and Britt (James Coburn). Chico (Horst Buchholz) is a young wannabe gunslinger who rides along behind the group, and is eventually accepted. The Seven rides into town, but the villagers are so afraid of outsiders that they only come out to greet their heroes after provocation.