Quintessential Cold War novel about the prospect of accidental nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. When a UFO is detected heading toward America, several bomber groups routinely plot a course for their “fail-safe” points, positions in the sky from which, if given a “go” signal, they can attack Russia. The UFO is identified as a friendly and all the groups are recalled — except one, which, due to a mechanical malfunction, receives its go signal and heads towards its target: Moscow. The action shifts between Strategic Air Command, the Pentagon, the White House, and the bombers. Authors Burdick and Wheeler eschew satire and ridicule, presenting instead a satisfying and realistic portrayal of intelligent, driven, and powerful men who in many ways are at the mercy of the machines they funded, created, and allowed themselves to become dependent on. With a great deal of interesting character-building through backstory that only underlines the cold and impersonal nature of the villain: the system itself and the computers and machines that make it possible. Gripping and suspenseful, this cautionary tale ends unflinchingly. Made into a film in 1964.
Likable comedy starring Andy Griffith as Will Stockdale, a Georgia hillbilly drafted into the Air Force whose boisterous naivete makes life miserable for his complacent commanding officer. Originally a novel by Mac Hyman set during World War II, the book was updated to a peace time setting for a television adaptation and later a Broadway play, both written by Ira Levin (of Rosemary's Baby fame) and starring Griffith. Don Knotts also appears (as he did on Broadway) as the officer in charge of conducting manual dexterity tests on new recruits. Episodic and overlong yet unpretentious, with an undeniably charming performance by Griffith.
Sparse, British-made Western starring Raquel Welch. As Hannie Caulder, she swears revenge on the three not-too-bright brothers (Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam, and Srother Martin) who killed her husband then raped her. Robert Culp, a fast-drawing bounty hunter, teaches her how to shoot. Despite being billed as "the first lady gunfighter," Welch never comes off as tough, driven, or angry enough to carry the film, which leaves it in the hands of the bumbling brothers, who are played more for comedy than anything else. Robert Culp does what he can to save the picture, but he's only a second banana. With hippie-colored credits, Christopher Lee as a gunsmith, Diana Dors as a madam, and the pointless addition of a mysterious man in black.
How the man (it must have been a man) responsible for this poster wasn't hooted and howled out of the boardroom is a mystery.
Surrounding a woman, dressed and posed in a sexually suggestive manner, with the three men who murdered her husband and serially raped her as if they were all part of the same happy gang must rank as one the top five most insensitive and offensive advertising blunders in all of cinema.
That said, I think the movie would have been improved if, instead of being in tight pants and a poncho for most of the film, this is how Ms. Welch had been featured.
Pretentiously slow and largely dull sword and sorcery, based on the popular character created by Robert E. Howard in the 1930s. As a young boy Conan witnesses the massacre of his people, including the murder of his father and the beheading of his mother, by a triumvirate of evildoers led by Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones), the shapeshifting head of a cult of snake worshippers. Freed after years of slavery, Conan the man (Arnold Schwarzenegger) seeks vengeance, sleeping with a witch and killing a giant snake along the way. As well as picking up a couple of companions, with one of whom, the thief Valeria (Sandahl Begman), he falls in love. Schwarzenegger, who certainly looks the part, isn't given much to say, metaphorically mirroring the entire film.
Ebert the Politically Correct
Roger Ebert, the late reviewer of films for the Chicago Sun-Times, liked the film, but admitted its conclusion, which featured Nordic Arnold Schwarzenegger defeating black James Earl Jones, disturbed him. "Am I being too sensitive?" he wonders. Given that black Jones is responsible for the murder of Schwarzenegger's white father and the beheading of his white mother and that this incident is passed off by Ebert as a convenience (since it "gets them neatly out of the way"), I would have to conclude that a more fitting question would have been, "Am I being ridiculous?"
Books. Movies. Mostly.