Dementia 13

Luana Anders as interloper Louise

So, a Francis Ford Coppola movie with significant action taking place on a boat. That would be Dementia 13 (aka The Haunted and the Hunted), the director’s first mainstream movie (if we’re ignoring sexploitationers The Bellboy and the Playgirls and Tonight for Sure). Make me something that’s a bit Psycho-esque was producer Roger Corman’s instruction to Coppola, who had already been working with Corman in Ireland on 1963’s The Young Racers. There was money left over from that film, so Corman gave it to Coppola, and lent him the cast and crew from The Young Racers to make his film. The only significant other instruction was that the finished movie needed to have … Read more


George C Scott in Patton

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 11 April President Truman fires General MacArthur, 1951 Today in 1951, President Truman fired his most popular, successful general, Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur had been chief of staff of the US army in the 1930s, had been commander of the US Army in the Far East and supreme commander of the southwest Pacific during the Second World War. It was MacArthur who accepted the surrender of the Japanese in 1945 ,and it was MacArthur who effectively governed Japan between 1945 and 1951. It was also MacArthur who led the United Nations forces into Korea, where he was initially successful, before being pushed … Read more

Apocalypse Now

Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 3 December Joseph Conrad born, 1857 On this day in 1857, Jozéf Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, later known as Joseph Conrad, was born in Berdichev, in what was then the Russian Empire. Conrad was the son of Polish nobility and considered himself Polish. Conrad’s father was a political campaigner against the Russian occupation of his country and his activism got him first imprisoned in Warsaw, then exiled to Vologda, 500 km north of Moscow. Conrad was home-schooled by his father, who instilled in him a love of Polish literature and Shakespeare. By 1869 both Conrad’s mother and father were dead and his … Read more

The Rainmaker

Danny DeVito and Matt Damon in The Rainmaker

A half-hearted, second-rate vehicle designed to help carry Matt Damon to stardom, in which he takes his shirt off to play a principled rookie lawyer taking on a big bad medical insurance company. It’s written by John Grisham and while it’s in legal territory Grisham’s thrusting plot dynamics carry it forward. But that wouldn’t have suited the film’s agenda, which is more about Mr D’s career progression than telling a decent story. So as well as legal drama we have rather a lot of sub-plot in which Damon does the amorous hokey-cokey with the winsome Claire Danes, a client worth bending his professional ethics for. Other ornaments in this enjoyably decorated firmament include … Read more