Tuesday, 25 September 2012

White Heat : A Classic Gangster Movie

White Heat, released in 1949, is a classic gangster film. It is one of the greatest crime thrillers ever made. The movie was directed by Raoul Walsh. The screenplay was written by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts based on a story by Virginia Kellogg. It starred the legendary actor James Cagney.

James Cagney plays the role of Cody Jarrett who is a brutal criminal and very much attached and depended on his mother 'Ma' Jarrett (Margaret Wycherly). In spite of being married to Verna (Virginia Mayo), he doesn't trust her. The other characters are US Treasury Investigator Philip Evans (John Archer) and undercover agent Hank Fallon (Edmond O'Brien) who goes under the name Vic Pardo.

The movie starts with a train robbery scene which has gained quite an appreciation over the years. When police come across during it, Cody fires and injures Philip Evans. Then later to avoid getting caught and being imprisoned for these heavy charges, Cody surrenders and confesses to a smaller crime committed by an associate during the same time, which serves as his alibi to this bigger crime.

Officer Philip Evans, decides to play smart and places Hank Fallon as Cody's cell mate to gain his trust. Philips's main task is to find 'The Trader' , who is a bigger fish and launders Cody's money. Fallon assumes the name of Vic Pardo on this mission. Cody's gang member Big Ed turns out to be dishonest and ambitious and tries to murder Cody in prison by assigning the job to another inmate but Vic's timely intervention saves Cody and thus Vic gains Cody's trust. Cody starts to worry about himself and his mother and thus breaks out of the prison with Vic to deal with Big Ed and continue with his usual robberies.

The story goes ahead in such a way that one cannot help but get glued to the screen. The robberies, the character of trader, the end sequence at the chemical plant with Cody's famous quote, 'Made it, Ma! Top of the world!', just before he gets blown up are shown brilliantly.

The movie was received very well. It is in Time Magazines list of top 100 films of all times. It has a 100 % fresh ratings on Rotten Tomatoes.
The American Film Institute (AFI) too has honored it. AFI lists Cody Jarrett as the 26th greatest villain in its list of AFI's 100 years...100 Heroes and Villains. Its also ranks 4th in the AFI's 10 Top 10 list in top ten gangster films. Cody's famous quote, 'Made it, Ma! Top of the world!' ranks at 18th in the list of AFI's 100 years..100 Movie Quotes.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Dollars Trilogy by Sergio Leone

An admirer of the Western Genre of films would always know how great the contribution of Sergio Leone to this genre was.
If you are fascinated by people who wear Stetson hats, bandannas, spurs, & buckskins and use revolvers or rifles as everyday tools of survival, and ride between dusty towns, then these films are definitely for you.
Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy is an epic one . Clint Eastwood appears as The Man With No Name in these three films.They are some of the finest films of Eastwood's career. The films are realistic and portray real human emotions with the artistic form of Leone's direction. Each film has its distinct story and its setting, our main character, The Man With No Name is generally portrayed as an outsider, a mercenary or a bounty hunter, or even an outlaw. The three films released in this trilogy were A Fistful Of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

A Fistful Of Dollars was the first movie in the trilogy and introduced the us to this character, the man with no name/stranger. The movie starts with our stranger arriving in a town and befriending an inn-keeper who briefs him about the crime structure in that town.  He learns that there are two families who are constantly in feud to wipe each other out and be the sole controllers of the town.
The man with no name immediately sees this situation as an opportunity to make a fortune for himself. He attempts to get involved in both the families and play them against each other, thus making out a win-win situation for himself.
The movie was executed and presented well and had many other elements to its story which made it more entertaining.

For A Few Dollars More has two main characters - our Stranger and the other Colonel Douglas Mortimer, portrayed as bounty hunters. They are in pursuit of the same fugitive named El Indio ("The Indian"). They both are trying to trace him from place to place and one day come across each other. Initially reluctant, they agree to unite in their quest for El Indio.
They trace him to a town, where is planning a huge bank robbery. Mortimer convinces our Stranger to join Indio's gang and keep a track of him. The robbery, Mortimer's personal anger towards Indio and other things form the latter part.
A rightful successor to the first movie, For A Few Dollars More turned out to be no less then what was expected of it. A complete entertainer which has its moments.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, is in no doubt the best movie in this trilogy. It takes you out on a cinematic adventure. Its the story of three guys - Tuco (Eli Wallach), Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef), Blondie(Clint Eastwood).
Angels Eyes comes to know about a treasure through his weird assignments of killing people for money. Tuco, a bandit is on the flee and a huge bounty is on his head when Blondie captures him and hands him over. But Blondie later frees Tuco and divides the share from the bounty. One day Blondie ends the partnership and leaves Tuco in the middle of a desert, angering him.
When Tuco later tracks Blondie down to kill, something unexpected happens. Through a series of events they come to know about the treasure but in such a way that they both know only the half of secret each and to get it they must work together. So Tuco cannot kill Blondie now.
Later they are captured and come across Angel Eyes who is now in power and thus the three form an alliance. But will this continue? Would it all go well? The answer lies in this great movie. The Mexican Standoff at the end is well executed and this movie would go down in the history of Westerns as one great epic.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Soak No More

'SOAK NO MORE', shouted the young and wise, Hari. All the remaining seven donkeys shouted back with him.

'A long time ago there was a salt merchant. He used to get very irritated with his lazy donkey. One day while doing his usual work of carrying loads of salt on his back the lazy donkey fell down in a stream. The salt on his back dissolved, thus the load was gone and the donkey walked out joyfully, devising a  wicked plan for many such journeys to come. The lazy donkey continued to do so many times and he would walk back happily. The merchant although unsuspecting at first, understood this act and decided to teach the lazy donkey a lesson.'

Dharampur was flourishing day by day since the Independence, it was the year 1950. Since the British had left the country there was a lot of scope for the Indians to develop and prosper. One such villager was Shyamlal, a merchant in Dharampur. He bought and sold almost everything that he could get in his hands and make profit. Automobiles had yet to make their way in the lives of the Indians of that era so mostly people depended on animals. But this is not a story of Shyamlal or Dharampur, nor has it got anything to do with the Indians or British, it is the story of the DONKEYS.

'The salt merchant one day fed up with the cunning nature and the laziness of his lazy donkey thought of putting an end to this act. He packed the same quantity of load but this time it was of 'cotton' and not salt as usual on the back of the donkey. Today instead of sending his usual servant to accompany the donkey he decided to go himself. The stupid donkey didn't realize what was stored in for him' 

Shyamlal owned eleven donkeys for transportation of goods from his storehouses/godowns to the markets. Out of the eleven there were three cruel donkeys - Santhu, Biju and Lala. These three donkeys were the strongest and the cunning of the eleven owned by Shyamlal. They used their power and cunning tactics to oppress the other donkeys. They never worked hard in fact they didn't work at all. It was the other donkeys who suffered but they could do nothing since they were scared of these three.

'As the stream approached the donkey knew what he had to do. A cunning smile appeared on his face. He didn't care if it was his merchant and not the usual servant who was accompanying him. He staged his jump in the stream as if it was an accident but the merchant knew better.'

Hari, was a young and clever donkey. He was very idealistic and kind. He had a crave for learning. Watching humans he had understood that the only way to progress and improve life was to get educated. Babu, son of Shyamlal sometimes took Hari to school and used to tie Hari outside the school, it was good enough for Hari because he could hear the voice of the teacher teaching inside, thus Hari was the only donkey to get educated. Hari also learned that the three donkeys - Santhu, Bijju and Lala who said that they were from England were lying and also that India had got independence three years back. So now even if Santhu and the other two were from England there was no need to be afraid of them because if India was free then so were the INDIAN DONKEYS !!

'The moment the donkey jumped in, he realized what trouble he had put himself in, the cotton on his back just 'SOAKED' in more water and grew heavier. So it was difficult for him to walk, the merchant witnessing this, came down and starting hitting the donkey to walk ahead, continuing the journey with the increased load on his back. Thus the lazy donkey learned his lesson.'

One day the Babu's teacher was telling the students the story of 'The Salt Merchant And His Lazy Donkey', Hari was within the distance to hear it. He at once understood what needed to be done. But he wanted the story to end differently in his case.
The day Hari awaited finally occurred, Shyamlal had bought a new big godown and wanted to shift some stuff in it. As usual the three cruel donkeys declared that it would be the other donkeys who would carry out all the heavy things but Hari had something better in his mind. he divided the load in such a way that the eight donkeys had to carry five times more then the three cruel donkeys which pleased Santhu, Biju and Lala. But Hari made sure that those three donkeys carried nothing else on their back except 'cotton'.
On the day of moving too, he convinced everyone that it would be wiser to take the road from the bridge across the river. After the three donkeys left, he called in other donkeys and told them about his plan. After telling them what was in his mind, he shouted, 'SOAK NO MORE, we have soaked enough because of them, its their turn to be soaked now.' Everyone agreed.
'SOAK NO MORE', shouted the young and wise, Hari. All the remaining seven donkeys shouted back with him.

On the way while moving, when the donkeys came on the bridge, Hari along with the two other donkeys took positions besides - Santhu, Biju and Lala. At the signal of Hari, the donkeys pushed the trio into the river, the light weight of cotton on their back now suddenly increased. Hari smiled to himself, the river was deep and the donkeys had fallen in the middle of the river, so in a matter of few seconds or maybe a couple of minutes they would be drowned. Santhu, Biju and Lala, looked up and found all other donkeys enjoying at their dying sight, they kept praying for a miracle while muttering to the load of cotton on their backs to SOAK NO MORE please, because the weight of that cotton kept pulling them down in the river and thus caused their death.
Shyamlal was sad because he lost his three donkeys. Three years ago he had been very happy on this day when India got her Independence. But somehow the happiness of opening a new big godown surpassed the sadness of losing those three donkeys.
Hari went back to the other donkeys and said, 'Happy Independence Day.'
The era of soaking had been finished. Now they would have to SOAK NO MORE !!

This story is my entry for The Surf Excel Matic #SoakNoMore Contest at Indiblogger.

Saturday, 1 September 2012


Ronin is one of my De Niro favorites. The story is not something new and unique for Hollywood but still it grips the viewers. Car chases usually just turn me off sometimes but this is one movie where I look forward for its chase scenes whenever I see it.

Ronin is truly a Robert De Niro and Jean Reno film but the rest of the cast comprising of Natascha McElhone, Stellan Skarsgard, Jonathan Pyrce do an impressive job. It was directed by John Frankenheimer and screenplay was written by David Mamet, based on the story written by J.D. Zeik.

The story starts with assembling of five special operation veterans -  Spence (Sean Bean), Larry (Skipp Sudduth), Gregor (Stellan Skarsgard), Vincent (Jean Reno), Sam (Robert De Niro) by a girl Deirdre (Natascha McElhone). Deidre is a member of Provisonal IRA and works for a mysterious employer, Seamus (Jonathan Pyrce).

The team is brought together for a job of stealing a briefcase, whose contents remain unknown throughout the movie. The briefcase is heavily guarded but then Sam and others successfully manage to steal it. What continues ahead is the betrayal of a team member who plans to sell it and keep the profit for himself. Thus Sam and the other remaining team members as well as their employers, Deirdre and Seamus are enraged. Everyone wants the briefcase back and tries hard for it and so the movie goes on ahead.

The efforts of Sam and Vincent on one side, Seamus and Deirdre who have captured the traitor on other, as well as the Russians who want the briefcase are worth watching. Also the real motive and intentions of Sam, makes it a good watch. If not for anything else then it is for the exotic locations and the amazing car chases, that holds the viewers and keeps them glued to the screen.