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A Full Tank of Gas Movie Reviews A Full Tank of Gas Movie Reviews

A Collection of 1349 Movie Reviews Written by Richard Cross

Latest Movie Review: Salt of the Earth (1954)

Salt of the Earth (1954) Movie Review

Despite its constant struggle to prevent itself from sliding into a didactic diatribe against the faceless menace of corporate management, Salt of the Earth, a collaboration between filmmakers (and some actors) blacklisted by McCarthy’s hysterical Communist witch-hunt manages to deliver effective and uplifting entertainment.   The film was blacklisted by the US government when it was released, but when viewed today it doesn’t seem so controversial, and in fact much of what this Communist movie preaches – sexual and racial equality, safe working conditions, etc – have been embraced (in theory, at least) by mainstream society. (Read more)

2011-2014 Movie Reviews

2001 - 2010 Movie Reviews

Interstellar (2014) Movie Review Splice (2009) Movie Review

Nolan seems to have decided that the key to grabbing an audience is to mystify and puzzle it, and then reveal an oblique resolution which invites endless discussion.   But whereas his Inception was a truly original concept, Interstellar comes across as a pale rehash of a certain Kubrick movie, with a wormhole near Saturn substituting for a monolith on the moon. (Read more)

With Vincenzo Natali’s Splice, the Frankenstein legend is given a high-tech makeover, while thudding into every predictable plot-line you can think of.  We get two Frankensteins for our money here: genetic engineers Clive Nicoli and Elsa Kast. Elsa’s one of those independently-minded women which means that she’s a real pain in the backside who ignores other people’s opinions if they conflict with her own, and who, in real life, would be unable to maintain a relationship for more than three months with any man in possession of appendages that swing. (Read more)  

 Interstellar (2014)

Splice (2009)

1991 - 2000 Movie Reviews

Things to Do in Denver… (1995)

1981 - 1990 Movie Reviews

Child’s Play (1988)

Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead (1995) Movie Review Child's Play (1988) Movie Review

If ever there was an example of style over substance, Things to Do In Denver When You’re Dead was it.  The movie looks terrific, and the ridiculously handsome Mr. Garcia looks sleek and elegant as the meticulously garbed Jimmy the Saint.   Unfortunately, the story doesn’t really hold up under close scrutiny; screenwriter Scott Rosenberg seems incapable of allowing one character or incident to pass without attempting to inject each with some element of quirkiness. (Read more)

Child’s Play takes place in an alternate reality very much like our own but in which the police will vacate a murder scene because the owner of the house in which the murder took place has had a tough day; it’s a world in which no-one stops to question the plausibility of a living doll once they see it for themselves, and when they explain this reality to others, fully expect to be believed.   It’s a world in which adults can be overpowered and killed by a doll, and in which a working mother can shoot the leg from under a small doll from across a room. (Read more)   

1971 - 1980 Movie Reviews

Motel Hell (1980)

1961 - 1970 Movie Reviews

Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

Motel Hell (1980) Movie Review Bonnie and Clyde (1967) Movie Review

Motel Hell creates the kind of scenario that could prove truly chilling if played straight from the viewpoint of a victim, but Connor and screenwriters Robert and Steven-Charles Jaffe play it largely for laughs.   Calhoun and Parsons’ character are semi-comical hayseeds, and their younger brother Bruce (Paul Linke) is a small-town cop only a step or two above the likes of Roscoe P. Coltrane.   There’s even a couple of swingers straight out of some bad sex comedy who provide some ‘light relief’ before being gassed and planted next to all of the Smith’s other victims. (Read more)

David Newman and Robert Benton’s original screenplay had Barrow enjoying a bizarre homosexual encounter with the couple’s sidekick, C. W. Moss (Michael J. Pollard).   Thankfully, this departure from the truth was deleted from the shooting script, but was replaced instead by Barrow’s problem making love to Bonnie, which was also fictionalised, and which was presumably included to offer some kind of explanation for why such a likeable man leads an irredeemable life of violent crime. (Read more)

1951 - 1960 Movie Reviews

The Ladykillers (1955)

1941 - 1950 Movie Reviews

Spellbound (1945)

The Ladykillers (1955) Movie Review Spellbound (1945) Movie Review

The Ladykillers is the last of the great Ealing comedies from the 1940s and ‘50s and is by far the funniest of them all, even though its humour is of the blackest kind imaginable.    The diverse characters complement one another perfectly, and virtually every cast member plays their part to perfection.   Katie Johnson looks as though a strong wind would blow her over, but she proves to be an indomitable foe for the crooks who earn her wrath. (Read more)

Neither Bergman nor Peck convince as highly-intelligent psychiatrists, although I suppose Peck doesn’t really have to.   Bergman sometimes wears spectacles to indicate the serious intelligence of her character, but crusty old Dr Brulov probably accurately sums her up when observing that “the mind of a woman in love is operating on the lowest possible intellect.” (I can’t see that line making it into any future remakes, somehow). (Read more)

1931 - 1940 Movie Reviews

The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)

1921 - 1930 Movie Reviews

Safety Last! (1923)

The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) Movie Review Safety Last! (1923)

The thing that spoils our enjoyment of a genuinely stirring finale is those horses going down two or three at a time in a straight line as their legs meet the carefully positioned trip wires.   Dozens died, and according to legend Flynn was so outraged that he physically assaulted an uncaring Michael Curtiz.   There’s no denying that knowing those horses lost their lives for the sake of some essentially meaningless adventure movie takes the gloss off that finish. (Read more)

Safety Last! is arguably the greatest of Lloyd’s features.   Compact and streamlined, it wastes not a second of screen time, allowing no opportunity for a gag to pass it by.   Only a sequence in which Lloyd has to tie himself in knots attempting to fool his girlfriend (Mildred Davis) into believing he’s the General Manager of the store in which he toils as a lowly sales assistant suffers from a poor pacing.   It’s a mark of the quality of the entire film that, even though we know that the superlative finale in which Lloyd’s character scales the side of a skyscraper is to come, we never feel impatient for that act to begin. (Read more)

1911 - 1920 Movie Reviews

The Mark of Zorro (1920)

1901 - 1910 Movie Reviews

The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906)

The Mark of Zorro (1920) Movie Review The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906)

The title character was played by Douglas Fairbanks, one of United Artists’ founders, and marked a change of direction in his screen career which would see him portray a succession of heroic figures such as Robin Hood, D’Artagnan and The Black Pirate throughout the 1920s.   He was an unlikely action hero in many ways.  With a round, slightly pudgy face he looked more like a hero’s sidekick… (Read more)

Film language had not yet developed to an extent that it was capable of supporting a long film, so while it was a sensation back in 1906, what remains of the film today is curiously dull – and yet also fascinating – and there’s little doubt the whole film, if it existed intact today, would be excruciatingly dull for most people. (Read more)

1891 - 1900 Movie Reviews

Annabelle Serpentine Dance (1895)

Annabelle Serpentine Dance (1895) Movie Review

The girl in the picture is quite interesting.   Her name was Annabelle Moore, and she was no more than 16 years old when Annabelle Serpentine Dance was filmed, and she went on to become a star with Ziegfeld’s stage extravaganzas in the early years of the twentieth century.   A couple of years after this movie she would cause a minor scandal by revealing that she had been asked to appear nude at a private dinner party. (Read more)