Tag Archives: Albert Finney

The Set of 400: #58 – My Favorite Bicycle Powered Sword Fighting Dummy

Today! Because unless I’m very much mistaken, chaderd is the Egyptian word meaning “to eat fat”! Now we’re getting somewhere!

The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1975)

Directed by Gene Wilder

Starring Gene Wilder (x4), Marty Feldman (x2), Madeline Kahn (x7), Leo McKern, Dom DeLuise (x7), Roy Kinnear (x3), John Le Mesurier, Nicholas Smith, Douglas Wilmer, Thorley Walters, John Hollis, Aubrey Morris (x2), Susan Field, Albert Finney (x4), George Silver

This movie was such a bedrock staple of childhood that I was amazed to learn of its relative obscurity as I got older. I mean, it’s not completely unknown, but it certainly isn’t widely discussed or regarded. Information about its general success upon initial release is a little tough to come by – I’ve seen it ranging anywhere from the 24th to 48th highest grossing movie of 1975, and it may or may not have been the #1 film the weekend before Christmas – but it certainly hasn’t had the staying power of the ’70s Mel Brooks films it is clearly patterned after.

Which is a shame, because while it doesn’t function overly well as a Sherlock Holmes parody – à la the more direct take off of #220 Without a Clue, say – it is a pretty solid Sherlock-esque comedy. Lifting an alias Holmes employed in the first Conan Doyle story after the character’s supposed death (“The Adventure of the Empty House”), Wilder plays Sherlock’s bitter younger brother Sigerson, not – as you may have guessed sight unseen – his famously smarter elder brother Mycroft. Sherlock (played by frequent Sherlock, Douglas Wilmer) directs a vitally important case to his brother through Feldman’s Scotland Yard Sergeant Orville Sacker (named very similar to Doyle’s early draft Dr. Watson – Ormond Sacker). Before long they are facing off with a comically volcanic Moriarty (the terrific Leo McKern), a habitually lying chanteuse (you can never go wrong giving Madeline Kahn musical numbers), and a horse-and-carriage chase/fight through the streets of London unlike any ever made.

Thanks for coming through, heavily watermarked stock photo!

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The Set of 400: #113 – My Favorite Impromtu Subway Stop

Today! Because I always hated this place –

Skyfall (2012)

Directed by Sam Mendes

Starring Daniel Craig (x3), Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes (x2), Albert Finney (x3), Rory Kinnear, Berenice Marlohe, Ola Rapace

Man, the Bond floodgates really opened here! For the third time in the last forty movies, we’ve got Ian Fleming all up in this piece. And unless I’m eyeballing the rest of the list incorrectly, we’ve got two Bonds still to come. Skyfall is my third favorite Bond movie? Really? Okay, I’ll take it. I wouldn’t have figured on this before, but as I said in #138 From Russia With Love (I think), my main enjoyment of the character is the very early films, and the very recent ones, and everything in between just blurs together. Even Moonraker.

Even as comically distinct as Moonraker is

In something that might only interest me, Skyfall also marked the end of one of the more interesting box office phenomenons ever. Across eight movies, covering 23 years, every James Bond movie outperformed the previous film in domestic gross. Come with me on this journey – starting in ’89 with License to Kill ($34.6 million) to GoldenEye ($106.4) to Tomorrow Never Dies ($125.3) to The World is Not Enough ($126.9) to Die Another Day ($160.9) to Casino Royale ($167.4) to Quantum of Solace ($168.3) to Skyfall, top of the heap at a whopping $304.3! I mean, there are a lot of narrow gains in there, but still, I don’t know of another film series that can claim anything like this. Fast and Furiouses three through seven all improved on each other, but that’s five movies in nine years. Not even close! Way to come along and screw the whole thing up, Spectre! Still the second highest grossing Bond film at $200 even, but come on!

We were all pulling for you, Spectre!

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The Set of 400: #129 – My Favorite Waterloo Tube Station Espionage

Today! Because this is where is started for me. This is where it ends –

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

Directed by Paul Greengrass (x2)

Starring Matt Damon (x5), Joan Allen (x4), Julia Stiles (x2), David Strathairn (x3), Scott Glenn (x3), Albert Finney (x2), Edgar Ramirez, Paddy Considine, Daniel Bruhl, Tom Gallop (x2), Corey Johnson, Colin Stinton

The excellent Bourne trilogy concluded in a major way with Ultimatum – and then there were two more relatively unnecessary movies, one with Damon’s Bourne and one without, that you can basically ignore. In the continuing conversation of Best Movie Trilogies, people tend to start dropping franchises from the discussion once there is a fourth film. This, I feel, is wrong. Sure – if the movies are made one right after the other, and they all tie tightly together, maybe don’t count pieces of those as trilogies. But, a series that just splits an obvious third film in two (The Hunger Games, for example) – we can still call that a trilogy, no? Or if the fourth film is cash-in bullshit made way after the fact (Indiana Jones, Scream, American Pie – I’m not making judgments whether they’re good or bad trilogies here) or is basically unrelated (The Bourne Legacy, Mad Max) – we can ignore those, huh?

Please help me forget this

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The Set of 400: #374 – My Favorite Snowbound Train

Today! Because a repulsive murderer has himself been repulsively, and, perhaps deservedly, murdered –

Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

Directed by Sidney Lumet

Starring Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave (x2), Martin Balsam, John Gielgud, Michael York, Wendy Hiller, Richard Widmark, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Rachel Roberts, Colin Blakely, George Coulouris

Sidney Lumet’s all-star take on the Agatha Christie classic is still the definitive big screen take on her work. Most Christie novels are a little too uncinematic to make for really great movies, and thus there have been far more and better TV versions of her stories than films (the Branagh Orient Express from 2017 is also pretty good, so hopes are high for Death on the Nile). But this one has everything – all the stars as in the heavens turned out for this film, a terrific locked-in train set that heightens the tension and suspense one scene after the other, a script where basically every line is vital to fully telling the tale, and Finney’s masterful work as Poirot tying the whole thing together. Widmark allegedly signed on in the relatively brief role as the doomed villain Ratchett (The book’s been out for 80 years! No complaining!) just so he could meet the other stars of the picture. Ingrid Bergman won her third Oscar for essentially one scene of significant dialogue! Sean Connery’s epic mustache nearly trumps Poirot’s! Continue reading

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