Thursday, July 13, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks #157: Amusement Parks



This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of "Thursday Movie Picks", the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This week's theme is amusement parks, and for once I'm actually selecting four movies, none of which has much amusement at the park:

Strangers on a Train (1951). Alfred Hitchcock's classic stars Farley Granger as a tennis player with an estranged wife who meets Robert Walker on a train; Walker has an overbearing father. Walker comes up with the ridiculous idea that since each of them has someone they want out of their lives, each should murder the other guy's bĂȘte noire. Walker strangles Granger's wife at a carnival; the climax comes at the park when both men try to get to the park to retrieve some evidence that will prove who did it.

Some Came Running (1958). Frank Sinatra plays a World War II veteran and writer who goes back to his hometown. Shirley MacLaine plays a floozy who follows Sinatra's character to the home town. Unfortunately, her old flame also follows, and that leads to a showdown at the carnival in the movie's climax.

Under the Volcano (1984). Albert Finney plays a British diplomat in 1930s Mexico who's lost his job because of his drinking, and is now planning to drink himself to death. His wife (Jacqueline Bisset) and brother (Anthony Andrews) travel there to stop him. One scene has Finney at a carnival riding the airplanes-go-round-in-circles ride, loose change falling out of his pockets for the poor kids to pick up on the ground.

And for one that's a little less depressing, Gorilla at Large (1954). At a carnival, the gorilla escapes and breaks somebody's neck. Or is it somebody who borrowed the carnival barker's (Cameron Mitchell) gorilla costume? Police detective Lee J. Cobb investigates. Anne Bancroft plays the girl; Lee Marvin plays a cop; and Raymond Burr may just be the bad guy again. This one is cheesy low-budget fun, originally filmed in 3-D.

3 comments:

Wendell Ottley said...

Haven't seen any of these. I do plan on seeing Strangers on a Train, soon.

joel65913 said...

LOVE your choices! Strangers on a Train is one of Hitch's best. Incredible that Walker wasn't honored with a nomination for his brilliant performance but I think he might have passed away by the time of the film's release and posthumous nominations weren't very common then.

Some Came Running is a film that improves with repeated viewings, at least it did for me. The first time I watched it I thought it a bit dense but when I gave it a second chance I found much in it, chief among those things is Shirley MacLaine's knockout performance. The carnival climax is a beautifully composed sequence.

Under the Volcano is one very dark tale with fantastic performances by the three leads but not something that lends itself to making you want to see it again.

Gorilla at Large!! What a daffy programmer but totally worth the time just for the chance to see young Anne Bancroft, Lee J. Cobb and Raymond Burr.

After my first obvious pick I struggled a bit to come up with two more but found two wildly different takes on the theme.
Rollercoaster (1977)-After a rollercoaster derails due to a device placed on the track the major amusement park owners receive a taped message from the mad bomber (Timothy Bottoms) that unless they pay him a million dollars the carnage will continue. Safety inspector Harry Calder (George Segal) who had cleared the first coaster and was investigating the crash is pulled in by FBI agent Hoyt (Richard Widmark) when the nameless young man demands Harry deliver the extortion money to his next target or he’ll detonate another bomb. Suspenseful but not quite the experience it was in theatres where it was presented in Sensurround.

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? (1964)-I really can’t better this IMDB description: "Jerry falls in love with a stripper he meets at a carnival. Little does he know that she is the sister of a gypsy fortune teller whose predictions he had scoffed at earlier. The gypsy turns him into a zombie and he goes on a killing spree."

Or the tagline:
SEE: the dancing girls of the carnival murdered by the incredible night creatures of the midway! SEE: the hunchback of the midway fight a duel of death with the mixed up zombies! SEE: the world's first monster musical!

It’s not good but it’s unique!

40 Pounds of Trouble (1962)-Sixties version of the Damon Runyon story Little Miss Marker about a little girl left in Lake Tahoe casino manager’s Steve McCluskey (Tony Curtis) care as a hold against the debt owed by her father. When the father is rubbed out Steve with the help of the casino’s singer Chris Lockwood (Suzanne Pleshette) has to look after the tyke and dodge various people after him for different reasons. They decide to take the little one to Disneyland (at this point open less than 10 years) and between rides are chased through the park offering a pretty complete picture of what the place looked like in the 60’s. Cute comedy where unsurprisingly being mostly a Disney movie all ends happily.

Birgit said...

I thought I posted here..ok so we match with Strangers On a Train which is excellent. Love to see Sinatra film and gorilla at large which I might have seen as a kid but don't quite recall. Under The Volcano also sounds quite good even thou it sounds depressing.