Category Archives: 1960s

Shadow on the Land (1968)

It’s Christmas Eve in America. The streets are filled with the usual hustle and bustle of a lieutenant colonel on the run from his own government. Churches are having their holiday decorating (nothing like waiting to the last minute) interrupted by Internal Security Force agents. Holiday travelers are being harassed at the airports by new regulations restricting their ability to fly across country. Even Santa himself is getting manhandled by jackbooted thugs during a roundup of folks who oppose the president’s agenda! Continue reading

Grand Slam (1967)

This may come as something as a shock to many of you, but sometimes even the most minutely planned diamond heist can go horribly wrong. Grand Slam follows the formula to the letter right down to the doublecross at the end of things that you pretty much had to see coming, if only as a way to explain one character’s sudden change in behavior during the middle of the movie. The only way the movie could have turned out that would have genuinely surprised me was if the big steal was pulled off without a hitch and everyone got their fair share of the booty. Continue reading

Hell Is for Heroes (1962)

There’s a scene in some little bar that Steve McQueen’s John Reese isn’t supposed to be at where he’s getting himself some firewater and the barmaid is saying that he’s going have problems when the MPs find him there. “Are you looking for trouble?” she asks. He pours himself another and says “the world’s full of trouble”. And there’s no way you could argue with that, I thought. Especially since some shell-shocked combat burn out who only goes crazy when he’s not in battle is saying it! Continue reading

Ursus, the Rebel Gladiator (1962)

Made back in 1962, Ursus, the Rebel Gladiator most likely was lumped in with all the other musclehead movies coming out of Italy at the time. Audiences then can be forgiven if they thought this one was interchangeable with the latest entry in the Hercules, Goliath, Maciste, Samson, Atlas, Ursus and Ulysses film series.

It is also precisely because of this glut of pretenders that I’m going to cut the Academy a little slack for failing to recognize Ursus, the Rebel Gladiator with the Oscar for Best Picture that year. And lest you think this some artless attempt at being obtusely droll, all I’m saying is that if they can give this movie five Oscars when it came out again in 2000, then it was a shame that the participants in the first one languish in obscurity. Continue reading

Duel of Champions (1961)

Here’s a movie that’s going to satisfy that contingent of gladiator fans that like watching old, short guys near the end of their life strapping on the Roman soldier outfit and battling a bunch of guys half his age and still come out on top. Sure, in the end both of his brothers are killed in the battle, his sister commits suicide, and his father has been accusing him of being a coward and a traitor for most of the movie, but other than that, he came out on top. Continue reading