Movie Diary 3/7/2009


"Wow - you pull my finger, and the volcano actually erupts."

When Time Ran Out… (James Goldstone, 1980). Getting to the end of Irwin Allen’s disaster cycle of the Seventies, and what a way to go out: oilman Paul Newman sinks a well close to a volcano on a tropical island, while James Franciscus is sending a probe into the volcano itself (and juggling wife Veronica Hamel and mistress Barbara Carrera). Jacqueline Bisset and William Holden also collect checks, and the supporting cast is a Love Boat shipwreck: Alex Karras, Red Buttons, Ernest Borgnine, Edward Albert, Pat Morita, plus Burgess Meredith and Valentina Cortese as former trapeze artists. Will that last talent come in handy during the movie’s climactic set-piece, a walk across a crumbling bridge as hot lava melts it from below? (I know what you’re thinking: that’s it? That’s the movie’s climactic set-piece? Couldn’t they have thrown in killer bees or something?) And if you really want your mind blown, consider that this was nominated for the Oscar in Best Costume Design, and then revel in Franciscus’s brown-on-beige ensemble.

Sin Nombre (Cary Fukunaga, 2009). Another crack at doing an illegal-immigrant story, this time traversing the length of Mexico and mixing in the wide-ranging Mara Salvatrucha gang. It also has some amazing shots atop a moving train. (full review 4/10)

Dead in 3 Days (Andreas Prochaska, 2006). By all reports the ne plus ultra of Austrian slasher films, this one goes out of its way to pile up hackneyed conventions. Of course, the director used to work with Michael Haneke, so maybe this is all a meta-commentary on horror films. Nah.

The Helen Morgan Story (Michael Curtiz, 1957). One of those sob-story biopics, with Ann Blyth (a far cry from her glory days in Mildred Pierce) as the torch singer who drank her career away. Paul Newman is the gangster she can’t help lovin’. Gogi Grant did the vocal tracks.