THE BIG CAPER (1957) Rory Calhoun trades in his Colt .44 for a .38 snubnose in this programmer about a sweet little heist that goes all wrong when love comes to town. He's got a flawless plan to take a million bucks in cash from a podunk California bank. But the gang he's with is made up of sadists, psychos and sickies. Tight, taut with loads of twists and turns and James Gregory (Barney Miller's Inspector Lugar) as a hood with more than one kink in his closet.
THE BIG BOUNCE (2004) This movie’s like a beach vacation; easy, breezy, with nothing on its mind but fun. Once-over-lightly adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel with the action moved to Hawaii. Fun cast combination led by Owen Wilson and Sara Porter who have a give-and-take chemistry that will keep you guessing even as you’re engaged. Director George Armitage’s particular talents are well suited to the material in a perfectly structured caper comedy that never takes itself seriously and never goes where you think it’s going.
MASSACRE IN DINOSAUR VALLEY (1985) Kind of late in the game for this brand of grindhouse exploitation actioner. Also, a very tame entry in the cannibal sub-genre that Italian moviegoers were so enamored of through the 70’s. Here the genre gets an Indiana Jones makeover with a pair of arrogant Americans vying for leadership of a pack of plane crash survivors looking to escape a lost valley filled with man-eaters of every variety. Nudity, violence and cruelty abound but mostly it’s running through jungles and wading through swamps. Don’t expect any dinosaurs either. Not even one. And the cast either chews the scenery or walks around looking for their spot. The most emotion that the attractive lead actress can work up looks like she’s worried her suitcase won’t be on the baggage carousel. This is even while they’re clearly going to be horribly tortured then eaten by their captors.
Jacquou le croquant (2007) The kind of epic tale of injustice and revenge that the French do so well. From Dumas to Hugo, they own this genre. Young Jacquou becomes an orphan early on in post-Waterloo France. His father shot escaping from prison, his mother dying from grief. He’s raised by the local priest with one goal in mind, revenge against Count Nansac! There’re complications along the way like star-crossed love, betrayals and a very suspenseful escape from an oubliette. (look it up, it’s horrifying). A well-mounted period production rich in detail with some gorgeous landscape. The cast is solid and overcomes even the sillier aspects of the story. There’s a dance-off that sets off the second act action but it’s not as dumb as it sounds, trust me. Old school, bodice-ripping entertainment in which a few buckles are swashed.