Thursday, April 5, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks #195: Underground

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 "Underground", and I wasn't certain exactly what was meant? Is it the sort of cult movie that airs on TCM Underground? Or perhaps it was the literal, physical underground locations like caves and mines? Or you could even go with underground movements like the French Resistance in World War II. I decided to go with the middle one, and picked three older movies:

Black Fury (1935). Paul Muni plays a coal miner who sees his best friend (John Qualen) get murdered for speaking ill of the company's unsafe practices, so Muni goes down the mine and threatens to blow it up! It's your typical Warner Bros. social commentary movie of the 1930s, which means there although there's some stuff people might find heavy-handed today, it's all handled professional and a good, entertaining movie is the result.

Transatlantic Tunnel (1935; also known as The Tunnel). British movie set in the distant future (at least from the time the movie was made) about ambitious plans to build a tunnel under the Atlantic Ocean connecting the UK and North America. Richard Dix was brought in from Hollywood to play the lead engineer, and the movie focuses on both the tunnel and the issues in his personal life. It's actually based on a German book from just before World War I.

You Only Live Twice (1967). Ernst Stavro Blofeld's lair, carved out of a dormant Japanese volcano. Need I say more?


joel65913 said...

Love your choices and we match!

I liked Black Fury, I've always preferred Muni in modern dress though I know he liked to bury himself under makeup to play Pasteur etc. Transatlantic Tunnel has some slow patches but you have to respect it's ambitions. The Bond pick is a great out of the main choice.

I went with two older films as well and a more contemporary disaster one though its nothing special but fit so well.

Transatlantic Tunnel (1935)-Engineer Richard "Mack" McAllan (Richard Dix) proposes the building of a tunnel to connect England and the United States though revolutionary new technology. The film follows the many years and problems encountered as the realization of the project progresses. Futuristic early sci-fi posits the construction of an undersea tunnel linking England with the United States was one of the first film allegories to attempt to strengthen the US/UK bond as the dark clouds of war began to waft through Europe. Though little known today this was a high profile project at the time with two of the most esteemed actors in film, Walter Huston and George Arliss, as the President of the United States and Prime Minister respectively.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)-Sir Oliver Lindenbrook, a Scottish geologist (James Mason) and his assistant Alec McEwan (Pat Boone!) set off on an expedition to the center of the earth after finding directions in an inscription hidden in volcanic rock. Along the way to an Iceland volcano to begin their journey Carla G√∂teborg (Arlene Dahl) the widow of a famous scientist, Icelander Hans Bjelke (Peter Ronson) and his pet duck Gertrud join their party. On their way they encounter, treacherous terrain, subterranean oceans, prehistoric monsters and rival scientist Count Saknussemm (Thayer David) who is on their trail. The sets and effects are very dated by today’s standards but still a fun adventure.

Daylight (1996)-When robbers fleeing police collide with trucks carrying toxic waste inside New York’s Holland Tunnel a fireball results collapsing both ends and trapping a disparate group of survivors who turn to the disgraced former chief of Emergency Services Kit Latura (Sylvester Stallone) now working as a cab driver and trapped with them “the only man capable of saving the day!” Typical Stallone nonsense but vigorous and actiony if undemanding.

Wendell Ottley said...

You Only Live Twice! Enough said, indeed. Haven't seen the other two, but I am curious about Transatlantic Tunnel.

Ted S. (Just a Cineast) said...

Who wouldn't like to have a lair like that? (Of course, I can't afford the henchmen.)