Showing posts from November, 2023

The Evil Dead (1981)

Writer/Director: Sam Raimi Stars:  Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss,  Hal Delrich, Betsy Baker, Sarah York A group of friends (Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss,  Hal Delrich, Betsy Baker, and Sarah York) face a harrowing night when they inadvertently release demonic forces.   This is about as punk rock as movies get.   Childhood friends Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell scraped together the money for a low-budget horror feature, went into the woods for a difficult shoot, and came out with a minor masterpiece.  Lack of money was no constraint on creativity, and there is plenty of inventive filmmaking on display—surprising camera angles, ambitious special effects (convincing to varying degrees but always entertaining), and tons of atmosphere.  Although this installment doesn’t lean into the comedy the way later films would, Campbell gets to show that his brand of comedic bravado has what it takes to front a movie.

The Cowboys (1972)

Director: Mark Rydell Writers: Irving Ravetch & Harriet Frank Jr. and William Dale Jennings, from a novel by William Dale Jennings Stars: John Wayne, Roscoe Lee Browne, Bruce Dern, Colleen Dewhurst, Alfred Barker Jr., Nicolas Beauvy, Steve Benedict, Robert Carradine Wonderful evocation of the end of an era as the hard work  ethic gives way to the day of the get-rich-quick scheme.  After a lifetime of hard work, aging cattleman Wil Anderson (in a great performance by John Wayne) must go on one more cattle drive, this time accompanied by schoolboys since all of his experienced hands have taken off to search for gold.  Not only must he get the cattle to their destination safely, but he must also teach the boys how to be men.  Great supporting performances and a surprising turn in the plot toward the end.