Thursday, 18 September 2014

Rififi Review


Director: Jules Dassin
Stars: Jean Servais, Carl Mohner, Robert Manuel, Jules Dassin, Marie Sabouret, Magali Noel, Claude Sylvain, Janine Darcey, Pierre Grasset, Robert Hossein & Marcel Lupovici
Running Time: 112 mins
Release: April 1955
Tony le Stephanois (Servais) comes out of prison after doing five years for a jewel heist. He is greeted by his protege Jo (Mohner) and friend Mario (Manuel) try to entice Tony to do another jewel heist but he refuses. He then finds his girlfriend Mado (Sabouret) is now involved with mobster Pierre Grutter (Lupovici). This changes his mind on the heist and ambitiously decides to hit the safe rather than the window. Mario then brings in Cesar (Dassin) who's a safe cracker. The four men methodically and intrinsically plan the heist and it all goes according to the plan until Pierre Grutter finds out.
I've never heard of Jean Servais till I watched this film but is one hell of a great actor and makes one great noir character in Tony. He's intelligent, callous, tough, loyal, emotionally hardened and an absolute bad-ass (especially in one scene). You would not think that when you look at him as he's a a rather small wiry man. I have to be honest with you I didn't much like the character but he slowly grew on me and I began to like him. He's given some great pulpy noir dialog too which works really well and works for his character completely. He has a really lived in looking face showing his past and how it's taken it's toll on him and how prison broke him, He says a lot with his eyes that are full of life and show so much emotion.
Carl Mohner plays family man Jo. He is a dear friend and a protege to Tony in being a jewel thief. I should say that to me he looks a bit like Burt Lancaster and he reminds me of him a lot. He's a tough and resourceful man who's fiercely loyal to Tony. Jo even made Tony the godfather to his son. He takes part in the heist because he wants a better future for his family he's also the muscle of the gang. Jo is not as intelligent as Tony and he's a bit of a hothead. He's a fantastic actor and i'll be looking up his other works.
Robert Manuel plays Tony's fun loving pal Mario who's a bit of a kid at heart It's no surprise to me that he had a comedic background as well as a theatrical one. He's the joker of the pack and works well with the gang. He's also really loyal to Tony and he's a great joy to watch in this film. He's also sympathetic like the other members of the group. He's phenomenal in his final scene too.
Jules Dassin played Cesar under the pseudonym Perlo Vita as the original actor didn't want to play the part so Dassin took his place as they were on a tight schedule. Cesar is the safecracker and the Don Juan of the gang. He's fantastic in the role and I didn't know it was Dassin till after I watched the film he speaks French very well despite being American. I later found out that he starred in some of his films He's a great actor but an even better director.
Marie Sabouret plays Mado Tony's ex. Her first scene with Tony results in him humiliating her offscreen as she turned on him and has gotten involved with a mobster. The main reason why Tony changed his mind on the robbery is because she left him and he still loved her and had nothing more to live for aside making a score and hopefully win her back. Later on in the film she turns into a useful ally to Tony. She is the main leading lady of this film in my opinion and she's absolutely fantastic and she was very beautiful too. It's tragic her life and career was cut short as she died at the age of 36 from Leukaemia.
Magali Noel plays Viviane the glamorous singer at the nightclub who later becomes Cesar's squeeze. She's brilliant in the role and her most famous scene is singing Rififi which will be in my head for a very long time as it's very catchy and she sings it very well.I was not surprised to find out that she is a very well known actress.
Janine Darcey plays Louise Jo's wife. She's a rather pivotal character in this film. She knows all to well of her husband's unscrupulous past and does not like the idea of what he's doing. Her talk with her husband towards the end of the film is fantastic and I'm not saying much as I don't want to spoil it.
Claude Sylvain plays Ida Ferrarti, Mario's wife who does not know much of her husband's plan at the beginning of the film though she does later on in the film. It's a small role for her but she works very well in it.
Marcel Lupovici plays Pierre Grutter Tony's nemesis. He's a real piece of work. He seems charming at face though inside he's an absolute monster. He's greedy and selfish and wouldn't think of turning the money in. He's fantastic and has appeared in some of Dassin's other films.
Robert Hossein plays Remi Grutter Peirre's younger brother who's also a drug addict. His older brother is shameful of him and his addiction. His encounter with Tony is awesome.
Pierre Grasset plays the other brother Louis Grutter who is just a lapdog for Pierre Grutter he's not in much in film but he's a rather imposing figure.
George Auric does the score to this film and it's amazing and aesthetically suits the theme and atmosphere of the film completely. I was hooked as soon as I heard the intro theme. You may know George Auric from scoring The Innocents, Dead of Night, Heaven Knows Mrs Allison among many others. It's a marvellous score and one of the finest i've ever heard.
There's plenty of themes In this film and my absolute favourite is how the gang and the mobsters are not glamorized in the film. It depicts Tony and his gang as real human beings. There's also the themes of loyalty, greed, betrayal and human error. It's a fantastic noir despite not having most of the tropes of a noir. And it was well ahead of it's time in it's depiction of sex.
Dassin does a absolutely outstanding job directing this film. It's an absolute masterpiece in movie making. Of course the most famous scene is the 32 minute silent heist which is so taught and tense I was on the edge of my seat. It was a bold move to shoot it silently but It works incredibly well. The methodical planning (especially how to work around the alarm and silent it) and the aftermath are done very well too. I Love the POV shot towards the end of the film and the drive through Paris. Speaking of Paris it looks amazing in this film. It looks so gritty and beautiful at the same time. The cinematography is gorgeous and I love the use of light and shadow. It's beautiful in every sense of the word.
If your a fan of noir this is an absolute classic which some films after this have tried to intimidate but this is the original. This is my first Dassin film and I am very grateful that Arrow Films are releasing two more of his works on Blu-Ray Brute Force and The Naked City which i'm undoubtedly going to get as they have done an amazing job on this and the extras which i'm yet to see all so i'll definitely get those too. This is a really high recommend.

Lady Snowblood 1 & 2 Review

Lady Snowblood & Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance

Director: Toshiya Fajita
Meiko Kaji, Toshio Kurasawa, Noboru Nakaya, Sanae Nakahara, Eiji Okada, Hitoshi Takagi,Ko Nishimura, Yoshiko Nakada, Shin Kishida, Juzo Itami, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Yoshio Harada & Toru Abe.

Running Time: 97&89 mins
Release: 1973&1974

In Lady Snowblood a young family are attacked by a group of criminals and they murder the father and son raping the mother though leaving her alive. She winds up in prison and purposefully attempts to get herself pregnant to create an instrument for revenge. She gives birth to Yuki and dies shortly afterwards. The child is raised as an assassin to get revenge for her family that she never knew. 20 years after her birth Yuki (Meiko Kaji) is on the hunt..
In Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance Yuki is on the run from the authorities for murdering 33 people in the original film, she is soon captured by the Secret Police and is told she must spy on a revolutionary. She then sides with the revolution after they uncover the government's insidious plan.
The second film is not as good as the first though I greatly enjoyed and the political story was brilliant.
Meiko Kaji is the lead in both films and she's brilliant in both of them and is the main attraction of the films. After watching both films I learned that she is a very famous actress in her homeland and for good reason she's terrific. Her character is like a superhero. Though Lady Snowblood is based on a manga series. On the surface Yuki appears to be a stunning, kind hearted, sweet caring young woman who is also a vengeful cold blooded assassin who was put on this earth solely to kill those who killed her family.
She's a quick thinker, methodical and very fast and deadly which makes the action scenes brilliant in the films. Her character does not express much emotion in the first but in the second she does and I put this down to fact that she's already got her revenge at that point so she can move forward and think for herself and make choices. Which I really liked as it's not a personal story.
No matter what you follow her story and feel for her and what she goes through. She is a very expressive actress especially with her eyes she could of not said a single word in these films and I could of understood her !.
It's a great role reversal film with the samurai being a woman long before the Kill Bill films which were inspired by the Snowblood films.
She is also an outcast which is more prominently shown in the first than the second film. I'm not saying anymore as I don't want to spoil the character. What I will say is Meiko is a very beautiful and brilliant actress. I'll definitely look for more of her work and I hope that Arrow Films release more of them.
Lady Snowblood Cast:
Toshio Kurasawa plays Ryurei Ashio a newspaper writer who aids Yuki on her mission to find the criminals who killed her family. He's a tough and resourceful man who goes through a lot in this film to help her. He plays the part brilliantly. It's a shame he was not in the film much.
Noboru Nakaya plays Takemura Banzo a washed up drunkard of a man and a gambling cheat and one of the men that killed Yuki's father and brother and raped her mother. Despite this I oddly felt some sympathy toward him as he looked to be a shell of a man whom he once was. I don't really know why perhaps it was performance that made me. He's fantastic in the role especially in his final moments.
Sanae Nakahara plays the evil Kitahama Okono who is the most despicable of the criminals (in my opinion) she does not have to say a word as she looks evil I think it's her face that conveys it so well. In the beginning it looks like she's the leader of them. She makes a formidable enemy for Yuki.
Eiji Okada plays the elusive Tsukamoto Gishiro who's the real villain of the piece. He's one charismatic and smarmy slick devil. Unlike the others he's rather successful in his enterprises which were an integral part of Japanese history. His scenes are awesome and his performance equals Meiko's.
Hitoshi Takagi plays Matsuemon a dishevelled clan leader who helps Yuki seek her targets. I find his character to be quite comedic and I think that's down to his appearance. His more prominent in the first half of the film than the second. He's a real leader and it shows in his introduction.
Ko Nishimura plays Priest Dokai Yuki's harsh mentor. He trained Yuki to be the assassin that she is and he was rather cruel to her to make her tough though was more warm to her as she got older. Much like a father. He's brilliant in the small role.
Yoshiko Nakada plays Kobue. Banzo's beautiful daughter. Kobue is a prostitute to help pay her father's debt. She's a rather tragic character when I come to think of it especially in her last scene. She plays the part extremely well in her few scenes.
Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance Cast
Shin Kishida plays Seishiro Kikui who's one of the senior head of the secret police. He's despicable and inhuman and a real nasty piece of work. He initially sends Yuki on her mission to spy on the anarchist rebels before she changes her alliance. He has some great scenes in this.
Juzo Itami plays Ransui Tokunaga the rebel that Yuki spy's on by pretending to be a maid. He's fantastic in the role and you really do feel for him and his cause. His torture scenes are real nasty.
Kazuko Yoshiyuki plays Aya Tokunaga. Ransui's wife who's concerned for her husband. She means well but is a bit of a fool and is great in her few scenes and conveys the emotions that she expresses very well.
Yoshio Harada plays Shusuke Tokunaga Ransui's Brother who does not believe in the same cause as his brother. He would use the information to bribe the government to get what he and the other people in the slum wants which makes him a Robin Hood sort of character. It's funny that the subtitle is Love Song of Vengeance yet there's no real love interest in this film though subtlety it hints at Yuki's attraction to him.
Toru Abe plays Terauchi Kendo another head of the secret police who still has some humanity in him well a little which we see towards the end of the film.
Masaaki Hirao does the beautiful score for the first film and Kenjiro Hirose scored the second film. Right off the bat I have to say the score for the first film is much better than the second and more original. I love the infusion of 70's funk incorporated into the score. I should add Meiko Kaji is also a singer so she sung the main theme to both films and she sings very beautifully.
All in all these films are very thematic with some great themes running throughout like the gradual westernisation of Japan during the period. There's also the theme of being the outcast with Yuki especially in the Ballroom scene at the end of Lady Snowblood. The political story in the second film works very well and it surprised me it was very edgy.
In some parts the films feel like Spaghetti westerns and not just in the way Yuki can hack down enemies very quickly and is sort of an anti-hero but because of the pacing of the films they are quite slow building up to a bloody climax.
Toshiya Fujita directed both films and he's done an outstanding job on both. The cinematography is beautiful to say the least especially in the action scenes. I should add that the final fight scene in Snowblood echoes that of Enter The Dragon which coincidentally came out in the same year. I love how it was filmed mostly on sets it was quite surprising and the landscape is gorgeous. I love how the snow is done in both films it looks beautiful. Fujita sure knows how to direct.
There's not many extras on the Arrow release though I found the booklet very informative and the interview with Jasper Sharp very insightful and has made me look at Japanese cinema in a new light. The visual and audio presentation on these films are fantastic and Arrow have done a marvellous job. If want to say a great kick-ass action role reversal film with a great heroine and a brilliant story to boot you can't miss this. Also if you love samurai films I highly recommend this too.

The Long Goodbye Review

The Long Goodbye
Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Elliott Gould, Nina van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden, Mark Rydell Henry Gibson, Jim Bouton, David Arkin, David Carradine, Arnold Schwarzenegger & Ken Sansom.
Running Time: 112 mins
Release: 7 March 1973
Detective Phillip Marlowe tries to help his old friend Terry Lennox (Bouton) clear his name of murdering his wife. The Marlowe receives a call from Eileen Wade (van Pallandt) to look for her missing husband Roger Wade (Hayden).
Elliott Gould gives an absolutely terrific and electrifying performance as Phillip Marlowe. Marlowe is a dishevelled, cat obsessed, chain smoking, mumbling, sarcastic, wry, smart mouth, outsider, chivalrous and intelligent detective who has his fare share of faults which make him human and he has a sense of morality unlike most of the characters in this film. I really do sympathise with him. He's absolutely perfect and I don't get the hate that he received I don't think any actor that has played the character has been completely faithful to Chandler's Marlowe.
With that aside he is an absolute joy to watch I love the way that he speaks to himself saying what he's thinking. And his catchphrase “That's okay with me”. Marlowe is a man out of time, he's from the 1940's and 50's it's like he's been sleeping for the last 20 years and that he is not completely attached to the world. It's like he's displaced. Just look at his neighbours and how different they are compared to Marlowe in there lifestyle and attitude and how he's not phased by them. It's very subtlety done and I really like that.
I love his dialog and sense of humour and how he gets the better of the cops and some of the other characters. He's a real smart mouth. I love the way he talks to. He has a very expressive face and it works very well for Marlowe. I noticed in the film he almost always has a cigarette in his mouth and lights up at any opportunity it's a great character tic for him. I love how he plays with his sense of identity too though I won't spoil that for you. I have to say he's my personal favourite interpretation of Marlowe.
Nina Van Pallandt plays Eileen Wade a sort of femme fatale she's a rather sympathetic character in this film who walks a very fine line. What I really was surprised with was her cut glass english accent despite the fact that in actual fact she's Danish ! It's quite amazing really. She has some great scenes in this film all of which are with Gould and Hayden. I'm surprised she has not appeared in much after The Long Goodbye.
Sterling Hayden plays Roger Wade a alcoholic writer slowly losing his mind akin to Ernest Hemingway of whom he was based on in this. He gives a brilliant storming performance in this film. The way he rambles and slips on his words looks very natural. He's a rather sympathetic character despite his behaviour and seeing him being bulled by Dr Verringer (Henry Gibson) is amazing and unexpected it's like a bull being bullied by a mouse.
Mark Rydell plays the psychopathic hoodlum Marty Augustine. He's a real nasty piece of work and his performance reminded me of Joe Pesci's psychopathic roles that were long after this film which makes me think Pesci was possibly inspired by Mark Rydell's turn as Marty. He gives a marvellous performance in this film and he's only in two scenes and his first is rather shocking especially by what he does it's completely unexpected.
Henry Gibson plays the enigmatic Dr Verringer. Throughout the film we never really know what his true intentions are but one thing for sure other characters are frightened of him well Marty and Roger. He has something over them and it appears (to me anyway) that he has some form of mental control over Roger. It's a great role and Henry Gibson gives the character a restrained menace feel to the character.

Jim Bouton plays Marlowe's long time friend Terry Lennox who's a bit of a gambling man and is in a bit of trouble and ends up being accused of killing his wife. He's only in few scenes but he's a pivotal character. He's very good in the role. I'm very surprised that he was a baseball player before he appeared in this which was his debut acting job.
David Arkin plays Marlowe's lookout and aide Henry. He's fantastic in the role and is a great memorable character he has some great lines in this.
David Carradine is uncredited in this he plays Marlowe's cellmate in the brief prison scene. His little monologue is fantastic I loved it and I didn't realise it was him till after the film.
Another uncredited role was Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of Marty's goons you can't miss him. It's a silent role and he's pretty good in it it's a bit odd seeing him before he hit the big time.
Also watch out for Ken Sansom as the Colony Guard who does some absolutely brilliant voice impressions.
What's really interesting about the score which is done by the great John Williams is that it's just different arrangements of the main theme and Williams does a great job on it. It's rather minimalist and suits the tone and atmosphere of the film completely.
Leigh Brackett wrote the screenplay to The Long Goodbye and it's a brilliant. There's somethings she's changed which I really liked. She was surely a very talented woman.
Before talking about Altman's masterful directing I have to mention Vilmos Zsigmond's beautiful cinematography. It's done using the “flashing technique” and it works incredibly well given the film a pastel like look which suits this film very well and it gives it an old school noir sort of feel which I love. After reading the booklet that came with the film it's a really hard thing to do and get right and Zsigmond executed it perfectly. I should add that he also worked on Brian De Palma's Blow Out another Arrow film that i'll be seeing & reviewing soon.
Robert Altman films with such flair and style and in typical. I noticed the camera never stood still it was constantly in motion though very subtly. A trademark or Altman is that the characters can talk other one another at times and he uses it quite a lot and I had no real problem with it though it can be hard for some. It should be noted that no sets were used for this film it was all filmed in real locations no sound stages. It really has a nitty gritty feel just like Chandler's novels and the other adaptations of his work albeit this one was updated to the 70's. It's a beautifully shot film and it's experience seeing how it was shot.
My favourite scenes would have to be the introduction scene, the interrogation-prison sequence which Marlowe encounters the store clerk he met earlier in a brief rather funny scene. To say anymore would spoil it. It was a sheer joy to watch.
There's a of themes within in this film; identity, morality, friendship, deceit, truth, corruption and justice. It's a fantastic noir film easily one of the best I have ever seen.
This film has everything that you could ask for in a classic noir in my opinion. It treads a fine line between character study,thriller (mostly) and comedy (they are some great funny bits in this). The acting is brilliant with Gould owning the film, a cracking pulpy script, fantastic cinematography and direction, an apt minimalist score and a damn fine ending.There's a lot of extras on the disc and in the booklet that is well worth a look A real American masterpiece of film and one of the finest from it's era.

Theatre of Blood Review

Theatre of Blood

Director: Douglas Hickox
Stars: Vincent Price, Diana Rigg, Ian Hendry, Harry Andrews, Coral Browne, Robert Coote, Jack Hawkins, Michael Hordern, Arthur Lowe, Robert Morley, Dennis Price, Milo O'Shea, Eric Skykes and Diana Dors.
Running Time: 104 mins
Release: May 1973
Edward Lionheart (Price) is a Shakespearian actor who takes poetic revenge on the critics who denied him the recognition that he though so rightly deserved.
Vincent Price plays Edward Lionheart and he's absolutely fantastic in the role. He makes Lionheart appear to be a over-acting hammy actor which is an absolute joy to watch. Though it's not just Lionheart that he plays. He plays the guises that Lionheart uses to get closer to his enemies to move in for the kill.
He plays them all brilliantly especially Richard the III (It's a great rendition) and Butch. The first time he used a guise I didn't realise that it was him. He's a intelligent man who thinks of himself really highly and has a god complex. You do sympathise with him and why's he's killing the critics because they never gave him credit they always panned him. In someway's I think some actors would like to kill their critics so there's some wish fulfilment with Lionheart.
As he's a Shakespearian actor and performed in Shakespeare's plays he uses the plays involving murder as an inspiration for some of his kills and there are some fantastic kills in this film. I love the one liners he says after killing a victim. They are really funny. Of the few roles that I have seen Price in this is my favourite. He's a great American Shakespearian actor.
Diana Rigg plays Edward's daughter Edwina Lionheart who works in films like her father but not in the acting department. She works in the make-up department. This is the only thing that I have seen her in aside The Avengers TV Series and Game of Thrones and she's really good in this and it's great to see her play a rather villainous but sympathetic character.
Of course like her father she wears some disguises and she has a very popular one where she dresses up as a man with a big moustache and a small afro which could only happen in the seventies. I love her scene where she's in the hair salon whilst her father is killing one of the critics with smoke everywhere and the critic screaming she's calmly reading a magazine not being phased at all !.
Ian Hendry plays Peregrine Devlin the leading film critic. Oddly I found myself sympathising with him as the film progressed as he understood Lionheart and he didn't give Lionheart a battering unlike some of the other critics in the film. He's brilliant in this and I love his fencing scene with Lionheart it's really camp and sends up all the sword fight scenes that came before. I love the part of the trampolines it got me in hysterics.
Harry Andrews plays the lecherous Trevor Dickman who uses the casting couch as per se. He's not that much different from the character that he plays in Entertaining Mr Sloane which was also directed by Hickox. Though in this he's straight. He does some great Shakespearian acting himself before the curtains close on him.
Jack Hawkins plays Solomon Psaltery a film critic who panned Lionheart. Lionheart does not kill him he hurts him by other means in one absolutely brilliant scene which I don't want to spoil. It should be noted that Hawkins does not talk that much in this film as he was suffering from throat cancer which unfortunately killed him after this film was released. He's fantastic all the same and you may recognise him from Zulu.
Diana Dors plays Maisie Psaltery Solomon's much younger wife her role is very small though her one scene is brilliant and rather comedic.
Michael Hordern plays George William Maxwell the first critic we see and is the first to die. His death scene is my favourite as it's the most gruesome though we don't see much of what's going only that he's pressed against plastic sheeting trying to get away.
Dennis Price plays Hector Snipe another unfortunate critic his death is particularly gruesome. He's rather unwise and does not have much screen time till he meets his sticky end. His final scene is really nasty.
Robert Coote plays Oliver Larding another critic who gets on the wrong side of Lionheart his death is particularly nasty and Lionheart's line afterwards is perfect.
Coral Browne plays Miss Chloe Moon. Browne is perfect in the role as a upper crust woman who thinks rather highly of herself. She is very sharp. Her death is brilliant and hilarious. I should add that Coral Browne married Vincent Price shortly after making this film
Robert Morley is Meredith Merridew a plump theatre critic who loves food though doesn't have the stomach for it when he meets his demise. He seems the most happy of the critics and doesn't take the situation as serious as the others I felt. He was great fun to watch though.
Arthur Lowe plays Horace Sprout a character not far different from Mainwaring in Dad's Army but with less warmth. He's fantastic as he always is and his death is gruesome and funny watch for the maid who screams twice she had me in stitches.
Milo O'Shea plays Inspector Boot the plodding detective who's always one step behind Lionheart. He's fantastic in the role.
Erik Sykes plays Boot's right hand man Sergeant Dogge it's a very funny role as his character is rather a bit dimwitted not his own fault mind. He's a great character actor.
The score is by Michael J.Lewis and this is his most famous piece of work and for good reason. It's magnificent and really adds atmosphere and drama to the film. The opening score is really iconic and is my favourite piece in the film.
Douglas Hickox certainly had style when it came to directing and this is beautifully filmed the cinematography is amazing. I know this is a British film but there's something quite american about it. There's not one shot out of place and his vision for the film really shows on screen.
This film is a great slightly camp comedy horror that mixes some drama elements in. There's a fantastic cast with Vincent Price stealing every single scene he's in. The dialog is great and there's some fantastic quotes in this film mostly uttered by Price. The score is perfect and it's shot beautifully with such style. The deaths are incredibly inventive and effective. I think the best way to view this film Is a black comedy and a marvellous one of that. If your a fan of Price you sure going to love this I certainly did, every single minute of it.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Maniac Cop Review

Maniac Cop

Director: William Lustig
Stars: Bruce Campbell, Tom Atkins, Robert Z'Dar, Laurene Landon, William Smith, Richard Roundtree, Sharee North and Victoria Catlin.
Running Time: 85 Mins
Release: 13 May 1988
In New York a rouge policeman (Z'Dar) is killing innocent people for no apparent reason. He sets up a fellow officer Jack Forest (Campbell) by killing his estranged wife Ellen Forrest (Catlin) and Jack is instantly arrested for suspicion of her murder. Meanwhile Detective Frank McCrae believes Jack is innocent and that it's another policeman. The race is on to stop the Maniac Cop before he kills again.
I have to say this is the most subtle role that I have seen Campbell ever play. It makes a great far departure from the role of Ash (it's still a fantastic role). I was surprised by how little screen time he gets in film. He is a likeable lead. He's very brave, determined, smart and sympathetic. Like many of his other roles he get's thrown around a lot. It's a great role for him.
The real star of the show though is the superb Tom Atkins who plays Detective Frank McCrae. He plays him with such aplomb and heart. He's wizened, intelligent, weary, cynical and a maverick. One of my favourite on screen cops. I am surprised he got more screen time than Campbell so you would think he's the leading man. He stole every single scene he was in and is my favourite character in this film. 
After watching the film I watched the interview Doomed Detective: Tom Atkins on Maniac Cop which is the best interview that I have seen and I am very pleased that Arrow put the interview on the disc. I'm a real fan of Tom Atkins now after watching the interview he's so genuine , kind and honest and I love how he just calls himself 'an old actor from Pittsburgh'. It was great to know more about him and his favourite film he's been in; Night of The Creeps. 
Which I have recently seen and Atkins is outstanding in. It's the best b-movie that I have ever seen and it whole heartedly deserves a Arrow Video release it's criminal how it's not been released here in the UK yet.
Robert Z'Dar plays The Maniac Cop. It's a mostly a silent role and he plays him with real menace. What I really love about the character is that we don't see him properly till into the final third of the film. He's given a backstory that is revealed later on the film which makes him somewhat sympathetic. I was not entirely expecting that to be honest with you. He has some great kills in this film. He's a great slasher killer who's rather underrated. I should say he's got a much bigger chin than Campbell.
Laurene Landon plays Theresa Malloroy a fellow cop who is also Jack's mistress. She is one of the very few people that believe Jack. It's a real scream queen role and she's fantastic in this film.
William Smith who is a very prolific actors plays Captain Ripley he's only In a few scenes but he's great in them. He has a real commanding presence. I recognise him from Rumble Fish.
Richard Roundtree plays Commissioner Pike who's a very well known actor. He has a rather small role in this film and he shares a great scene with Atkins early on in the film.
Sharee North plays Sally Noland a police officer who has a very bad leg. Her role is small but a pivotal and something I was not expecting. She's a brilliant actress and was fantastic in all her scenes.
Victoria Catlin plays Ellen Forrest. She catches Jack out for his cheating and in that scene she's fantastic. Actually she's brilliant in all her scenes and I am surprised that she's not done much afterwards.
Also I should add Sam Rami has a small role in this film which I was not expecting though I know he pops up in various films with his collaborators Bruce Campbell and The Coen Brothers.
Jay Chattaway did the score for this film and it's incredibly 80's and I absolutely love it. It suits the film perfectly especially the flash back scene and the chase scene towards the end of the film. Lustig has done a tremendous job filming Maniac Cop there's some fantastic shots in this. I love the intro credits scene, the car stop scene and to say anymore would spoil it. Though I do love how Lustig shot the Maniac Cop himself and kept his appearance hidden for most of the film. I know it's meant to be set in New York though clearly some scenes are shot in LA though I didn't mind none as it was shot very well.
This film really surprised me with it's story it was something I was not expecting. Especially how Larry Cohen (the writer) added the theme of paranoia into the film which added some realism to the film. I really do love this film and it's a really good slasher film and it blends elements of a police thriller perfectly.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Day of The Dead Review

Day of The Dead

Director: George A.Romero
Stars: Lori Cardille, Joseph Pilato, Terry Alexander, Richard Liberty,Gary Howard Klar, Jarlath Conroy. Sherman Howard, Anthony Dileo & John Amplas
Running Time: 96 mins
Release: 19 July 1985

The Zombies have taken over the word, there's 4000 of them to every living human on the planet. In Florida there is a small group of scientists and military personnel who are holed up in a bunker to avoid the living dead to research why they have come back to life. It's not long before tension mounts between the group and the undead horde make their way into the bunker. An absolute classic zombie film.
Lori Cardille plays Sarah who's the main protagonist. She's a researcher and is the only woman inside the bunker. She s a very strong and capable woman willing to do anything to keep her & her friends alive. She has some of the same characteristics of Ripley from the Alien series. She's at constant loggerheads with Rhodes (Pilato) who's the military leader within the bunker. She's intelligent, brave, logical, a realist and has some great survival instincts. Like many of the actors she has not done much after Day of The Dead. But she is fantastic in this
Joseph Pilato plays Rhodes the leader of the military group inside the bunker. He's egotistical, racist ,intelligent, selfish, cruel, a bully and barely has any humanity left in him. The only real concern that he has is for himself and his men. I see him entirely as a villain but I know others will not. One thing is for sure though is that he's a fantastic character. Despite how much I hate him I loved seeing him on screen he's one of those rare villains that you root for despite the despicable things he does. He has some fantastic scenes and Pilato plays him with a fierce almost menacing intensity which makes him one of the best villains i've seen. Also he has some famous last words.
Terry Alexander plays John the only helicopter pilot in the bunker. John is a realist and wants to get out of the bunker and live the rest of his life on a tropical island. He's neither with the scientists or the military he's more of an outcast with McDermott (Conroy) who lives in a static caravan in a part of the bunker. Alexander is absolutely fantastic in the role and has a great speech in this film with one scene he has with Sarah. He's also a complete bad-ass too towards the end of the film using Rhode's twin revolvers.
Now here's a character I feel conflicted about Richard Liberty's Logan who's the head scientist in the facility. To research as to why the dead have come back to life the good doctor cuts up zombies and performs experiments on them using them as specimens as he does with the dead soldiers which is morally questionable to say the least. Though there is some good in him with the domesticated zombie Bub (Howard) whom he's personally made docile. He's interested in Bub as he is learning (like other zombies) and is slowly becoming more human. He protects Bub as he see's him as a innocent like a child and not a threat unlike the military personnel inside the bunker. One things for sure Logan is completely nuts of which Liberty expresses so well through his dialogue and that crazy look in his eyes. I have to say he's my favourite in this film.
Gary Howard Klar plays Rhodes second in command Steele. The only military personnel that I feel some sympathy for as he's not really a bad man. On the exterior he appears to be cold, harsh, violent and foul but he's not like that deep down as we see in some scenes expressing some of his humanity when he refuses to shoot Sarah and killing one of his men who's going to turn. It's a fantastic role for Klar and I am surprised he's not been in all that much after this.
Jarlath Conroy plays McDermott the communications man. Like John he lives in the static caravan and is also an outcast. I must also note that he is Irish too. He's very resourceful too. He has a tendency to say “Jesus,Mary and Joseph” when trouble arises. Like many other cast members he has not done much since this film.
Sherman Howard plays Bub the conditioned Zombie who's learning to become somewhat human. I feel he's the real heart of the film as you do feel and sympathy towards him. He sort of gives the zombies a voice in the film too. We learn in the film that Bub used to be in the military which makes one of my favourite scenes in the film I was completely outstanding. He's a fantastic zombie and Howard gives a terrific performance without saying a single word. 
Anthony Dileo Jr plays Miguel a soldier who is also Sarah's boyfriend who's developed cabin fever and is losing his mind. It's not a big role but it's a pivotal one though. He plays the part of a mentally unstable man very well indeed.
John Amplas plays Fisher another research scientist down in the bunker. It's a very small role but he's very good in it. The main reason I included him was for trivia he played Martin in Romero's Martin.
John Harrison did the music in this film and you'll either love it or absolutely hate it and I can say I love it. It's a great 80's synth soundtrack and there is some spectacularly good pieces of music in this film. My favourite being the introduction when the helicopter lands in Miami. I find it suits the tone of the film very well especially in the last scenes the music is used to a great effect.
This is a terrific zombie film and one of which that is quite thematic as well as being a satire. The biggest ones being the fine line between good & evil and morality. Romero does a marvellous job shooting this film there's some amazing shots in this film especially with some deaths and images of the undead horde. I have to mention Tom Savini is responsible for the special effects in this film and they are nothing short of spectacular for it's time and still holds up very well today. He's the master of gore. and the way he pulled the effects off should really be credited they are truly special.
I have to say this is my first Romero film and the first Arrow Blu-Ray Release that I have seen and I am really impressed. It's a fantastic film and i'm really looking forward to watching the others. I have not seen the special features that came on the discs but I will do in the near future though I did read the booklet that came inside it and I must say it gave me a great insight to the film.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Steptoe and Son: A Series Review

Steptoe and Son

Writers: Ray Galton and Alan Simpson
Stars: Wilfrid Brambell and Harry H. Corbett
Length: Series 1 – 8 (1962-1974)

Some of you may of heard of this sitcom about the rag and bone men Albert Steptoe and his son Harold Steptoe who resided at Mews Cottage, Oil Drum Lane in Shepard's Bush, London. I've decided to write a review of the series as a whole as the series has had a compelling effect on me. It's so much more than a sitcom, it has pathos and a tragic element to it and tackles issues that still remain today like sex, class, politics, poverty, war, masculinity, family, aspirations etc. Over the years the humour became more broad but it remained the same at heart and in my opinion there's only a few weak episodes in the 58 that were made. It was certainly ahead of it's time.
I'm very happy that it became a full length series after the pilot “The Offer” that was a Galton and Simpson one off production for their comedy playhouse series. As it's given me hours or laughter and sheer joy and at times it's made me cry. 
I absolutely adore this series and has made me see some sitcoms in a much different light.
It would be far too long for me to write about every series and episode so i've decided to condense it into one review discussing the absolutely outstanding acting by Brambell and Corbett and some selected actors that you may one to look out for and highlighting some of the best episodes of the series and finally the themes to the sitcom. Enjoy.
Harry H. Corbett plays Harold Steptoe a man who's gullible, cultured, good hearted, a socialist, intelligent, political, a dreamer and a man who blames his father for holding him back all these years. Never letting him go and living his own life when in fact he himself is partially to blame. This does not make him a complete fool mind you as he means well but is held back by his own shortcomings, misunderstandings and some times his father's schemes. 
The root of Harold's tragedy comes from his childhood when his mother died when he was younger and his father took him out of school at the age of 12 and never sent him to another school but put him on the horse and cart and put him to work. He only got away from his father when he fought in the second world war and was put on the cart again. There's other things of which I don't want to spoil for you.
He's always trying to better himself be it to impress a woman or open doors socially to give him a better social standing. With him it's about what others think about him. Harold hates being a rag and bone man because of the way people look down on him and how women react to hearing he's profession they instantly think the worst of him and Harold does his best to correct it.
Despite having to leave school early he has bettered himself with learning about artistic periods from across the globe, a love of classical music, a fine taste of wine and food and a love of theatre and literature. He also speaks a little latin and French. 
Women are a big part of Harold, he is always after them though it's not so prominent in some episodes. He has no problem at all with attracting their attention. The problem is when he takes them home and they meet his father. When he gets turned down by a women he sometimes goes into fits of anger and frustration which is made light of when in fact you should not be laughing at all. This is where the them of masculinity comes into play as Harold sees having a woman on his arm will make him a man and to stop his father treating him like a child. 

Harold does not like how Albert views women, in he's rather disgusted by it. In the later series he becomes much more sexually expressive.
Harold is a fiercely passionate Labour supporter throughout the whole series as he see's there ideals match his own. He see's himself a socialist and strives for equality for all. He is also very liberal in his views for the period that it was made. He wants to distance himself from the common people as he finds he cannot have intellectual conversations with them and they are tasteless. He also takes swipes at the upperclass too which does not happen often though are brilliant. I wonder what he would of made of If... ?.
Harold is always having blazing rows with his father as they have very different view points of which I don't want to spoil for you in case you have not seen a episode. They are brilliant scenes. You can clearly see that Albert really does get on his nerves and never ceases to cause him frustration. He also see's his father holding him back with emotional blackmail of which i'll go into later. This causes Harold to contemplate snuffing out his old man which is made light of too but makes some really great scenes in the series i'll just mention the shower and that would be it !.
He's also a rather depressed too as he contemplates ending his own life to end the drudgery and the misery of his surroundings it's very dark but really rather funny.
What really impresses me about Harold is his vast knowledge on antiques of which he's often seen to be better at than his father which is one of his small little victories against him. At some points in the series he gets little victories against his father which cause no end of amusement for me personally. There's time when he outsmarts his father too.
He has a strong love hate relationship with his father, most of the time it's hate. Though they do have their moments. Also what I love about Harold his how he fiercely defends his father whenever he thinks his father is in trouble he rushes to his aid. He also defends his mother's honour very strongly and mostly from Albert. He does not like anyone picking on or taking an advantage of his old man aside himself of course. Deep down he does not want to upset his father as he feels he has a duty to look after him as he's all Albert has and this is a part of his shortcomings but makes some of the greatest moments in the series.
He is a very tragic character and Corbett really does bring him to life. He plays him with absolute sincerity, honesty, sadness & heart. I really love his performance in this I was hooked from the get go on him. I really love those moments when he does not speak and the expressions on his face say everything. One moment in particular in the episode titled “The Holiday” he's on the round and passes a series of advertisements for holidays abroad and there's very attractive woman on them and the smile on his face says everything and to top it off he takes of his cap too. 
He expresses so much emotion throughout the series it's incredible to say the least and it's beautiful to watch no matter how brief it was especially in “Porn Yesterday” the look of horror on his face is brilliant and the only time he shows it. I know that some people can find Harold's voice grating and annoying though I personally have no problem with it. I can honestly say it's one of the greatest performances I have seen in a sitcom that can only be matched by a small handful of actors. He is fantastic in all episodes. He's absolutely nothing like the character he portrays on screen. It's a shame that Corbett was not well known for his acting talent as this really showcases his best.
Wilfrid Brambell plays Albert Steptoe, Harold's Father. A bigoted, selfish, ignorant, very intelligent and cunning, xenophobic,worldly, realist dirty old man who surprisingly has a lot more to him than meets the eye. I must say at first in the series I depicted him as a villain character but I quickly changed my mind as I began to love his character and could sympathise with him.
Albert will never ever let his son go, he uses any means necessary to make him stay and in most cases uses emotional blackmail which at times is completely genuine though you would need a good eye to tell. He see's the women that Harold brings home as a threat to his comfortable lifestyle and does his best to turn them off Harold. Often with some hilarious results. He's the great saboteur. 
His son has a habit of calling him “The Dirty Old Man” as he never washes and if he does he rarely washes his neck and covers it with his muffler much to Harold's chagrin. He's always trying to save money by any means and he's a bit of a cheapskate in that he takes clothes off the round and does not buy any and watch out for his glasses case and making a steak and kidney pie, and many other instances where he lives up to his name sake !. Most of the time he dresses very shabbily though with some air of sophistication with a pocket watch and waistcoat. He rarely dresses nice and it's only to make a good impression on those who seem fit to and when he does he cleans up very well and unrecognisable. It's like he's a different man completely.
It's not only Harold's chances with women that he ruins but his social aspirations too. Whenever Harold tries to better himself he's guaranteed to a throw a spanner in the works or join in to ruin Harold's chances which makes some of the most finest moments in the series of which I won't get into.
What also get's on Harold's nerves is that his father supports the Conservative Party. Which Harold feels as a betrayal to their class. Like Harold he's passionate about politics too. The reason that I think he supports them is because to get on Harold's nerves. I must admit they have some great political discussions in the series.
Albert is quite backwards in his views compared to Harold most notably his view on foreigners which I finds wears off as the series goes on. One interesting view is his view on families and the expectancy of the children looking after there parents in there old age where as Harold believes he should strike out on his own and leave his father and put him in a home. This of which really frightens Albert he hates the idea of being put in a home as he knows he would die there and would rather look after himself and die at home.
Even though Albert appears to be an old man, he's really not he's a very sprightly and active man and keeps himself busy while Harold's on the round most of which is not work related !. He is full of surprises. That is what surprised me quite a lot of what he gets up to when his son is not around it's quite remarkable really. There's parts of Albert's past that get slowly eked out in the series which are marvellous and make some of the most touching elements of the series as we learn that Albert was not always like how he is. It's rather tragic really.
Another thing I really like about Albert is his double standards view point on women and sex. He disapproves of Harold's desires often calling him “you dirty little bleeder”. Whilst telling Harold of his sexual exploits of which he's really proud of and leaves Harold feeling in mixed revel and disgust. Also Albert would like to move on from his dead wife and marry again as numerous times throughout the series. Much like his father Harold tries to ruin his chances with prospective women, it's a great role reversal and in one episode it's particularly sharp.
He is a rather rude and vulgar and sometimes lecherous man who uses a lot of blunt language and is not afraid to speak his mind. Unlike Harold who is far more polite. Though he does have his moments.
Also Albert loves going to Bognor Regis, they go there every year for there annual holiday. No where else just Bognor and it shows that Albert is low class down to earth individual who's happy where he is unlike Harold who's trying to get his dad to go on a much classier holiday. They have very different tastes too which makes great viewing. 
Unlike his son Albert is a realist, he see's things for what they really are and know's when his son is taken for a fool and means well by showing him the error of his ways. They always make great touching scenes. He is also very protective of Harold in some of the episodes and I absolutely love those moments and most of them draw down to social prejudices which really hit home. They may not seem to like each other but when they defend each other it really does show how much they care.
He's really a cunning man and know's exactly what he's doing and pretends he does not when Harold catches him out sometimes. It's not done out of cruelty (though at one time it really is and is the most cruellest thing he ever did). He does it for their benefit which really does bring them together and ends some of the episodes on a high. 
He's also a brilliant faker too, so much so you don't know when he's being genuine or not. Though at times it does show when it's genuine especially when he reads his birthday cards in “65 Today”. When he does fake it though Harold falls hook line and sinker. I really have to say his fake death faces look really genuine. Another thing he likes to play on is having a heart attack all of which are fake of course it's like a running joke but it's great when it happens.
I have to say it Brambell is a even more marvellous actor than Corbett. It's an absolute joy to watch him on screen for every single moment just like Corbett. He was forty-nine when he first played Albert as he looks much older than he actually was and when you watch interviews with Corbett he's the complete opposite of Albert he dresses really smart and has a very good high class voice. He once was too smartly dressed to be let in to a BBC Party !. He has a fantastic face for facial expressions I have never seen one better. A single look on his face says everything especially when he's sad he looks very gaunt and full of sorrow. I also love the 'proud facial expressions too.
I really love the voice he puts on for Albert it's a fantastic voice he expresses so much with his voice too with using different tones. I love the pity me voice. In some episodes he actually plays himself and they are great to watch. He changes them very quickly showing the ever changing emotions of Albert. I also love the really extreme face he pulls when Harold is angry with him and gets hold of him they are fantastic or when he realises he's done something wrong and widely opens an eye and half closes the other one, it's priceless. He would not look out of place of a Charles Dickens production.

His character was so full of life and expression. He brings great warmth to Albert Steptoe no one could of played him better and I am pleased he stayed on he is brilliant in every single episode.
Now that I have discussed both actors without giving any surprises away I want to dispel the common well known lie that Harry H.Corbett and Wilfrid Brambell absolutely hated each other. It's not true in the slightest. Galton and Simpson have said it when the Curse of Steptoe drama aired some years ago and Corbett's relatives have too. It would be very clear if they didn't get along and there would not be eight series if that was the case. They may have had different views and lifestyles but they got along very well it's very clear and evident to see especially in there 1963 Variety Awards Ceremony and in the episodes.
I really have to say there was some great supporting actors within the series. Here are my favourites. Throughout the series you may see faces popping up again as different characters.
Frank Thornton is one actor who's appeared in more episodes than any other that has appeared in the series. Five times in fact. Most notably the Barman who appeared in “65 Today” and reappeared in “Steptoe A La Cart”. He and Harold have a great albeit short argument about politics when Harold recognises him.
Dudley Foster appeared in four episodes and was brilliant in all of them. He has a very distinctive high class voice. I most remember him as Mr Stonelake in “My Old Man's a Tory”. It's very sad that he committed suicide at the age of 48.
Valerie Bell played Dolly Miller of whom Albert had said that she's always fancied Harold and she finally appears in the episode “Any Old Iron ?”. Also she played Roxanne in “The Bird” Harold's failed date.
Yootha Joyce plays Delilah and Avis two women whom Harold tries to seduce and almost does in “A Box In Town” she's fantastic in that one especially in the opening scene. You may recognise her from George and Mildred.
George A.Cooper played Uncle Arthur, Alberts brother his brilliant in his the brief scenes that he's in. You may recognise him as he was always on TV back in the day but not so much now. I would like to see him in more.
Mollie Sugden played Melanie's Mother in “And Afterwards at” she has one brilliant scene with Albert and Auntie Minnie in “Oh, What a Beautiful Mourning” she is fantastic in that too. You may recognise her from Are You Being Served ? and That's My Boy.
Speaking of Are You Being Served ?. Trevor Bannister appears in “A Star Is Born” as Rupert Ffaines -Muir a jittery nervous wreck of a man who's trying to put a theatre production together he is magnificent.
June Whitfield features in The Bond That Bind Us as Madge a young woman of whom Albert attracts. I'd never thought she would appear in this. Her character was about to be in her mid to late twenties when in actual fact she was about 39 !.
Patricia Haines appears in “Is That Your Horse Outside?” as Dorothia who takes a shine to Harold. She's brilliant in her role and she's very beautiful too. She steals all the scenes she's in. It's a pity that she died young at the age of 45 of Cancer. She also appeared in the cult classic british sci-fi movie Night Caller From Outer Space/Blood Beast From Outer Space. She also appeared in three classic episodes of The Avengers.
Margret Nolan plays Nemone Wagstaff in “A Star is Born” a amateur actress who stars across Harold in the play. She's had a really interesting career as she used to be a glamour model then a actress. She's been in some of the Carry On Films and featured in Goldfinger as Dink and as the woman covered in gold in the opening credits and interestingly starred in Witchfinder General & A Hard Day's Night which also starred Wilfred Brambell !.
Rita Webb plays Aunt Freda in “At Afterwards At” and Aunt Ada in “Oh, What a Beautiful Mourning”. I see them both as the same character as she's a great loudmouth battleaxe and steals the only two scenes she's in especially in “At Afterwards At” look out for her rant I was in fits of laughter. she was a great character actress and starred in many comedy series of the time.
A young Joanna Lumley who was only 26 at the time starred as Bunty, Harold's girlfriend in “Loathe Story” that he got on very well with until he introduced her to his father. I have to say I was really surprised to see her in this and she looked really stunning and instantly recognisable and the voice has not changed at all. I was mesmerised by her when she appeared. She's a great comedic actress.
Leonard Rossiter featured twice in the series in Series 3 in The Lead Man Cometh as Welsh Hughie who sells them some lead he was “given to by the church”. I didn't recognise him till my second viewing and stole the show in Series 7 as Johnny in “The Desperate Hours”. That small role secured him the part of Rigsby in Rising Damp which was originally a stage show and Wilfrid Brambell was up for the part. He has a great sense of humour also J.G Devlin is very good in his role too.
Now for the hard part my favourite episodes. In chronological order of airing.
The Offer- The one that started it all which set up the premise to one of the greatest sitcoms ever made. This episode is more of a drama than a comedy and there's some great laughs to be had. The ending is very upsetting well for me anyway with Harold breaking down. This could of easily been transferred to stage. It's beautiful. 
The Bird- This episode is fantastic and really gets to the root of Harold's frustration with women. I have to say this is the only episode that made me see Albert as a villain as he does the most dastardly evil thing to his son and causes him to throw a fit of anger and rage which is seen as funny but it's really not it's incredibly raw.
The Diploma – In one of many attempts of Harold to better himself takes up a course in TV repairing to become a TV Repair man. The one of many instances where he's upstaged by his father a cracking episode.
The Holiday- Ah the one that started the Bognor Regis/Abroad argument it's an absolutely fantastic episode and one where we really see the differences between the two. I really love the wordless opening of Harold admiring the holiday posters. The ending is absolutely fantastic as Albert uses every trick in the book.
Wallah, Wallah Catsmeat- Hercules is taken ill and Albert and Harold expect the worse is to come, they are near broke and struggle to survive until they both come up with a brilliant idea. It's one of the brighter ending episodes. I love Harold's speech about Britain's relationship with cups of tea it's very truthful what he says.
The Bath- This one has a great opening scene and this episode is golden. The saying “You Dirty Old Man!” is taken to another level in this episode and Harold's sarcasm is fantastic In this as it is throughout the series. Superb.
The Stepmother- Albert attempts to re-marry and Harold is having none of it. A great role reversal as to where Harold is trying to break up Albert's relationship. There's some very sharp lines in this which is really ahead of it's time.
Sixty-Five Today- It's Albert's 65th Birthday and Harold wants to treat his old man to a night in the West End rather than the Skinners Arms. A episode of true class and taste divide. I really love the scene where Albert receives the present and card from his son. It really made me feel for Albert and Brambell gives a stellar performance in this. Also when they get up town it's amazing, the bar scene and the Chinese restaurant come to mind. I love it when Albert catches Harold trying to chat up a woman. The ending is rather sad mind.
A Musical Evening- Harold brings some records to the house, some of which are classical pieces and some of the pop music of the time which he disgust and his father loves. Hilarity ensues when they both try to irritate each other to turn off their music.
Full House- Harold has won a game of poker and he invites the friends he played with round for a game of Poker of which Albert thinks is a sin and believes that Harold had some “Beginners Luck” and was meant to win. Albert defends his son and wins back all the money despite never playing a game in 30 years.
Is That Your Horse Outside- Harold helps a attractive woman named Dorothia carry her things whilst asking her if she has any junk to sell him. But she's after something else and Harold is more than happy to help and believes it would lead him to break away from his father. But Albert's seen it all before. A brilliant and tragic episode with some great moments of laughter. Brambell steals this episode that face at the end says it all. 
Home Fit for Heroes- To go on a around the world trip Harold considers putting his father into a care home of which Albert completely detests and is scared of. When they get to the care home it starts really funny with Albert's reaction and how he plans to rebel but near the end it gets very sad and you really feel for Albert.
The Wooden Overcoats- Harold gets the clever idea of flogging coffins and has the idea of his father becoming a undertaker. A great gothic horror tinged episode. I loved every minute of it.
Steptoe a la Cart- After meeting and having communication problems with a attractive french maid. Harold attempts to learn French and brings her home to Albert. If I say anymore i'll spoil it, it's beautiful and Brambell steals it with the surprises of Albert.
Sunday for Seven Days- Ah the trip to the pictures. Harold wants to see Federico Fellini's 8 ½ whilst Albert wants to see Nudes of 64. An absolute side splitting episode and it had me in stitches throughout. I love how Harold defends his father in this one. To say anymore would spoil it. It's a masterpiece. Though I'll say it's very ahead of it's time.
The Bond That Binds Us- Albert wins £1000 on the horse races much to Harold's surprise he's disappointed that his father won't share it with him, then again he doubted it in the first place. Albert than brings Madge back to the house and Harold's determined to expose her true intentions. Another sad episode which has a bittersweet moment at the end. We see Brambell playing himself in this one.
And Afterwards At- Harold get's jilted at the alter, not to the surprise but the delight of Albert. Due to the embarrassment Harold decided to head home as he's very shocked, depressed, angry and full of mixed emotions. Eventually his family members come around to 'comfort' him. I love this episode as it really gets to the root of family. Rita Webb steals her scene with her 'tea towels' rant. Brambell and Corbett are phenomenal in this episode especially when Albert talks about marriage, the punch ups he and his wife had, hell and having a blazing argument with the mother in law priceless. Harold's outburst as the end is absolutely fantastic.
Crossed Swords- Harold finds a piece of porcelain off the round which he thinks will sell a lot of money at auction so he decided to take it to a dealership to see it's worth and the greed gets the better of him. A masterful episode.
Those Magnificent Men and Their Heating Machines- You can tell how this one will end from the start but the result is still very funny as Harold attempts to add central heating to the house. His handiwork is laughable but means well and the last 5 minutes are outstanding.
The Siege of Steptoe Street- Another dark episode where they have little money and the debts are mounting for the Steptoe's and the debt collectors come a knocking. This leaves Harold and Albert coming up with ideas to get them off there back and to hold out of them. It's a fantastic episode and this one gives Albert a sense of class with his eating habits which I found marvellous especially Harold's reaction to them. There's a great emotional scene towards the end where Harold comes rushing to his aid.
A Box in Town- Harold is finally able to move away from the house and 'get a box in town' a small apartment atop a some flats. Harold now able to bring women back to his place but his old man is more successful with the ladies than he is !. The only episode to feature a swear word. This one was very ahead in themes for it's time and it's a marvellous episode. One of the absolute best in the series.
My Old Man's a Tory- As Harold is a staunch labour supporter. He buys himself a Gannex Mac like Harold Wilson and put himself forward to be chosen as the ward's new Labour candidate and calls a party meeting to stake his claim. Watched on by Albert who's a Conservative supporter. This one is really about politics and social prejudice it's absolutely brilliant.
Pilgrims Progress- Albert decides he wants to revisit the battlefields of WWI go on a pilgrimage there. Harold thinks that they should go somewhere else abroad instead. Him being a war veteran himself fighting in WWII. Harold then changes his mind and decides to take his father. When they get on the plane this episode really does take off it's brilliant and Harold soon learns why he should never fly with his father again !. This episode's sole focus is war and it's brilliant to see it covered and learn of there experiences. 
A Death in The Family- Hercules dies of a heart attack when Harold's on he round and Albert blames Harold for killing him by racing him. Harold decides it's time to move on and get another horse but Albert is finding it very difficult to move on. This episode is very raw and very emotional as Harold struggles to tell his father about Hercules and Albert's reaction feels very truthful as he unearths his feelings towards the horse it's amazing to watch. There's some brilliant dark comedic moments.
A Winters Tale- Harold is looking to go on a skiing holiday despite the fact that he has has had no experience and his father yet again wants to go to Bognor. Despite knowing what will happen it's brilliantly executed. This episode features the brilliant shower scene.
Steptoe and Son – and Son!- A pregnant woman knocks at the Steptoe's door. Claiming that she's looking for Harold Steptoe is the father of the unborn baby much to Albert's shock and disbelief. Harold is excited at the idea of becoming a father and Albert grows to the idea of being a grandfather and is very excited at the prospect. This episode is very sad and I love Albert in this one as Albert does not say a single word when the truth comes out and tries to bury his true emotions.
The Colour Problem- Albert is sick and tired of the small black and white TV and Harold wants a car to attract women. The less I say the better the ending is outstanding.
Robbery with Violence- Albert accidentally knocks down Harold's cabinet which contains some of his prized porcelain. To save angering Harold and getting walloped by him he fakes that there's been a robbery. It's fantastic to watch events unfold in this one.
Come Dancing- Harold is feeling frustrated as his latest girlfriend is a dancer and he has two left feet. So Albert decides to help his son by teaching him to dance which does not end how he plans. Watch out for the scene where the milkman teaches Harold a dance step !. It's one of my favourites as Albert is genuinely trying to help him and Brambell is a fantastic dancer.
Two's Company- Albert has a girlfriend that he met at the Darby and Joan Club though she's no old dear she's an employee and is Harold's lost love Daphne Goodlace (Jean Kent) and Albert intends to marry her and when Daphne and Harold they find they still have feelings for each other. Which leaves Daphne with a very difficult choice to make. The last few minutes are fantastic as the camera does not focus on Harold and Albert when they are discussing what to do and instead focuses on Daphne. The piece of music that accompanies this scene adds an air of sadness to it and the ending is fantastic. A perfect example as to why Steptoe could be adapted to stage.
Tea for Two- Campaigning for the by-elections has started and Harold is still a Labour Supporter and Albert is true blue Tory. The two argue about there opposing political views which is amazing to watch and among the greatest discussions in the series. Ted Heath the Conservative leader at the time is on a 'Meet The People Tour' and Albert is thrilled at the news that Heath will be visiting him . It's not long after that Harold plans a nude protest with Dolly Clackett though not all goes according to plan, it's a fantastic political based episode. 
Without Prejudice- Albert and Harold decide to move from their home of squalor and disrepair into Suburbia and are met with social prejudice from the neighbours. A cracking episode about social prejudice. Watch out for the salesman he's brilliant. 
Cuckoo in The Nest- Albert's long lost son called Arthur arrives on Oil Drum Lane from Australia, Harold is surprised and shocked that he has an older brother and feels jealous that his father treats Arthur better. Which makes him move out. This one really highlights on poverty yet makes light of it.
A Star is Born- Harold has joined a theatre group and hopes to become an actor through the group feeling that is his true calling. Yet there's tension within in the theatre group and their leader Rupert Ffaines—Muir as well as the fact that his father joins in to and attempts to steal his thunder. The ending has moment of great pathos and sadness, beautiful.
Oh, What a Beautiful Mourning- The Steptoe clan return as Arthur's brother George has died and there's a family funeral and all the money grubbing relatives turn up hoping to get a part of George's will. A masterful episode where Albert says the greatest line throughout the series and Harold tries to go out with his cousin !. Being honest with you The Steptoe clan ain't in this enough.
Loathe Story- After suffering for many years under his father's rule Harold is sleepwalking and grabs butcher's knife and attempts to kill his father. Albert wakes up in time and Harold desperately apologises. Harold decides to visit a therapist to get to the root of his problem. A brilliant episode which covers Harold's past (most of which his father has done to him). Joanna Lumley is brilliant and look out for the breast obsessed therapist !. 
Divided We Stand- Harold want's to refurbish the house interior and Albert is completely against the idea. So Harold takes matters in his own hands and divides the house in half !. There's some terrific scenes in this which I don't want to spoil.
The Desperate Hours- In the middle of winter Albert and Harold are broke and are out of food and nearly out of money for the meter just as they get some uninvited house guests from Wormwood Scrubs ! in the shape of Johnny (Rossiter) and Frank (JG Devlin). They soon learn they have robbed the wrong place It's not soon long that Harold sympathises with Johnny and Albert sympathises with Frank as they are in the exact same relationship. A marvellous episode which tackles many issues and is quite dark in places. And Rossiter steals the limelight in this one he's on top form.
And So To Bed- After an unsuccessful attempt to woo his latest squeeze Harold decides to buy a water bed. Not all goes to plan in this episode but it's incredibly funny and the humour is very broad . There's an ending shot that echoes The Shining.
Porn Yesterday- Harold is out totting in the sweltering heat whilst his father relaxes enjoying the summer sun. He picks up a 'What The Butler Saw' Machine and is keen to watch it and his father's initial excitement turns to something else. A marvellous episode in which Brambell expresses so much emotion as much the same for Corbett a fantastic episode that has a lot of pathos in.
Upstairs, Downstairs, Upstairs, Downstairs- The second from last episode in the last series which really should have been swapped for the last. Albert is bedridden after a back injury of which he needs plenty of rest and Harold is running ragged after his every need. To say anymore would spoil it but the ending is fantastic.
A Perfect Christmas- Sick and tired of spending Christmas at home every year Harold decides to go abroad for the holiday season and of course Albert is adamant on not going to Bognor. Eventually the old man caves and decides to go to Switzerland there's only one problem Albert has not got a passport. The ending is brilliant and ends on a high note and a great ending to the series. Brilliant.
I have to say I absolutely adore Steptoe and Son it's a fantastic sitcom that was well ahead of it's time and was the first to add pathos. You could say it's more of a comedy drama.The issues it tackled were true to life and still very relevant today. I was honestly surprised by it's depth and how it made me feel. I have to say I was crying at some points and no sitcom has made me do that before. It's made me see sitcoms in a whole new light that's for sure. Galton and Simpson have created a masterpiece with Steptoe and Son. Their scripts are absolutely fantastic in every imaginable way. I love the subtle satire they use and the subtle way they reveal the characters tragic past and issues. 
What is also a very important part is Corbett and Brambell they were perfect for the characters and really bought them to life and add great pathos to them. I absolutely love the characters of Albert and Harold Steptoe.
Who can forget the iconic theme tune Old Ned by Ron Grainer it's a brilliant theme as soon as it starts you know it's Steptoe. His music really bought atmosphere and a sense of mood it was fantastic and the pieces accompanied the episodes well. I cannot forget the many directors either they did an amazing job of shooting Steptoe and making it feel very real.
If you've never seen this before your in for an absolute treat and I know the word timeless get's thrown around often regarding some sitcoms and this one truly is. I'll happily watch this series again and again every few years I love it and i'll definitely review some more similar sitcoms in the future.