Tag: david niven

MOVIE REVIEW | Murder By Death (1976)

In a nutshell, Bored and Dangerous says: “Is it as simple as people in the 70s thought it was funny to say that Chinese and Japanese people all looked the same?  Because as terrible as it is, that’s the only ‘joke’ I can see the movie attempting with these characters.”

Murder 1
“He gives us meaningless clues to confuse us, dangles red herrings before our eyes, bedazzles us with bizarre banalities, while all the time precious seconds are ticking away towards a truly terrible murder still to come.”

The murder mystery is a very unique TV and movie genre.  It’s been a standard on big and small screens as long as they’ve existed, while almost always being regarded as low rent, schlock, cheap entertainment.   Detective stories and murder mysteries are rarely seen as prestigious, yet they’re obviously crowd pleasers.  For every high end hit like the current BBC, Benedict Cumberbatch incarnation of Sherlock Holmes, there are half a dozen low budget, long running detective series that your mum loves, but you’d never waste your time on.  It’s a genre I assume I don’t I like, but when I think about it, I realise that there are plenty of examples that have thoroughly entertained me.  It’s also a genre that when I found out there was a star studded parody made in the 70s, I knew I had to see Murder By Death.

At the invitation of eccentric millionaire Lionel Twain (Truman Capote), the world’s foremost detectives descend on his creaky mansion on a dark and stormy night.  There’s the Miss Marple like Jessica Marbles (Elsa Lanchester).  The Bogart style gumshoe, Sam Diamond (Peter Falk).  The offensive Chinese stereotype and Charlie Chan facsimile Sydney Wang (Peter Sellers).  Hercule Poroit clone, Milo Perrier (James Coco). And crime solving, posh couple, Dick (David Niven) and Dora (Maggie Smith) Charleston. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Pink Panther (1963)

Pink Panther

“I’ve never really known another man like him. He can keep ten girls in the air at once and make each one happy.”

I don’t get Peter Sellers. I know that’s not supposed to be the reaction of an average comedy and movie loving human being, but I just don’t. Sure, his performance as not one, but three hilarious characters in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying Worrying and Love the Bomb is unimpeachable. But when I watched The Party, widely regarded as one of his best, I found Sellers way more aggravating than funny. And even amongst the mediocrity of the 60s Casino Royale, he couldn’t manage to shine through. But I knew I couldn’t trust my opinion of Sellers without seeing an entry or two into his trademark, career defining series. So I finally watched The Pink Panther.

The child Princess Dala receives the world’s largest diamond, the Pink Panther, as a gift. Years later, the adult Dala (Claudia Caradine) is on holiday at a ski resort with British playboy, Sir Charles Lytton (David Niven). Unbeknownst to Dala, Lytton is legendary cat burglar The Phantom, and he has his eye on the Pink Panther. Also at the resort is Robert Wagner as Lytton’s nephew, George. He has no idea about is uncle’s alter ego as The Phantom, but burglary must run in the family, because George has his sights set on the diamond as well. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***BOND WEEK*** Casino Royale (1967)

Casino Royale

“You can’t shoot me! I have a very low threshold of death. My doctor says I can’t have bullets enter my body at any time”.

When I decided I was going to do a James Bond theme week, there was one movie that intrigued me the most, one that I was most interested in seeing. Not because it has a reputation as being the best, but because it’s the black sheep, the red headed step child, the most often dismissed of the series. I don’t know if it’s even officially a part of the James Bond series. But from all reports, it’s the weirdest, silliest, and possibly worst entry in the franchise. It’s Casino Royale. Not the new millennium Daniel Craig Casino Royale that made the series more culturally relevant than it had been in decades. But the 60s Casino Royale that is, well, I’m not sure what it is.

David Niven is Sir James Bond, a long retired spy with no interest in abandoning that retirement. But when the heads of MI6, the CIA and the KGB realise they’re losing too many spies to sexcapades and general promiscuity, they beg the chaste Bond to return to the field. You see, in this version, James Bond is a prude. That’s a joke, ‘coz in the other Bond movies, he’s always on the job. Get it? Anywho, he’s eventually convinced to get back into the spy game and has so much success, he’s made head of MI6. His first decree as boss is to name all agents James Bond 007, and train them to resist the feminine wiles of the dolly birds they will inevitably face in the field. (more…)