A newly restored version of this film will be playing at theaters around the country this summer — not in Las Vegas, you’ll notice, but it’s always a hard day’s night here.  If you’re going to be in any of the cities listed at the link below, check it out:


I saw the first showing of the film in Washington, D. C. when it came out with my friend Bill Bowman.  The theater was electric with excitement before the show, and when the United Artists logo came up on the screen, people (mostly girls) started screaming and didn’t stop until the film was over, with spikes of hysteria at the first appearance of each Beatle and during the songs.

I had to go see it again the next week, when things had calmed down a bit, just to hear what was going on on the soundtrack.



Raoul Walsh’s The Big Trail from 1930 is one of the most beautiful movies in the history of cinema.  Almost every shot is masterfully composed, lit and choreographed, moving effortlessly between the lyrical and the epic, astonishing at every turn.

It was filmed in an early widescreen process that didn’t catch on but the movie survives in that form, and is now available in a Blu-ray edition that does more than a measure of justice to Walsh’s achievement, which is really amazing.  He made one of the first full-scale widescreen films and it’s as elegant and accomplished as any that have followed it, including the widescreen pictures of John Ford and David Lean.


Unfortunately the film was an early talkie, and though the sound recording on a wide variety of exterior locations is technically impressive, the actors deliver their lines in a stilted, declamatory style, perhaps for the benefit of the microphones, which seriously undermines the total effect of the movie.  It doesn’t help that their dialogue is clumsy in its own right, very badly written.

Once you get past this flaw, however, you’re  treated to a visual feast that’s inexhaustible, a pageant of breathtaking images that are simply unforgettable.



This quirky Western from 1978 got a limited theatrical release when it first came out and then disappeared from sight but has recently been released on Blu-ray by Kino.  It’s sort of an American version of a Spaghetti Western, slightly tongue-in-cheek and occasionally verging on the surreal, with a score that rather deliberately mimics Ennio Morricone’s work for Sergio Leone.


Christopher Walken, looking impossibly young and pretty, does a fair impersonation of The Man With No Name, though his character does have a name of sorts here — Mr. Rainbow.  Margot Kidder, looking equally young and pretty, plays the female lead.


The narrative meanders off the trail aimlessly from time to time, and the tale never gathers much momentum, but the film is always engaging, primarily because Walken and Kidder are so engaging.  It was handsomely shot, apart from a few too many zooms, by the estimable Michael Chapman, uncredited on the film for some reason.

If you like Westerns you’ll enjoy it, and even if you don’t like Westerns you’ll probably find it fascinating for its off-beat charm and imagination.



This ninth James Bond film, and the first to star Roger Moore as 007, has one of the best action set pieces in the whole series — the speedboat chase through the bayous in Louisiana.  It’s beautiful, exciting and punctuated with some truly impressive practical stunts, of the sort we’re never likely to see again in this age of digital cinema.


Jane Seymour as Solitaire makes a surprisingly alluring Bond Girl.  She’s always been a strikingly attractive woman, but she developed a sort of prissy persona as a grande dame of television dramas.  Here, at age 22, she’s delightfully fresh and unaffected.  She takes her modest acting chores seriously enough, but she also seems to be having fun, and is genuinely sexy.


Roger Moore is not Sean Connery, of course, but he’s effective enough as Bond, and the title song by Paul McCartney is a classic.  All in all Live and Let Die is a more than respectable entertainment.

Click on the images to enlarge.