All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

allquietonthewesternfront_1Starring Louis Wolheim, Lew Ayres, John Wray, Arnold Lucy, Ben Alexander, Scott Kolk, Owen Davis Jr., Walter Rogers, William Bakewell, Russell Gleason, Richard Alexander, Harold Goodwin, Slim Summerville, G. Pat Collins, Beryl Mercer, Edmund Breese

Directed by Lewis Milestone

Expectations: Moderate. I’m not too excited to watch this for some reason.

fourstar


All Quiet on the Western Front is a remarkable film for its day, and it’s one that still holds up impressively well today. It is a war film that contains everything you could possibly want in one: battles, boot camp, camaraderie, patriotism, disillusionment, the list goes on. The film opens on the patriotic high of classmates enlisting for their country’s greater good, spurred on by the rousing words of their professor, and it eventually works its way through the war to a very natural and emotional anti-war ending.

Set during World War I and focusing on the German side of the struggle, All Quiet on the Western Front is largely plotless and driven simply by the various episodes and struggles the characters go through. There’s no grand goal for them to achieve; the film doesn’t even attempt to convey the context of the war and which side is which. This one is specifically from the point of view of the enlisted man, the man who must die for his country and who stands to gain nothing more than the right to go back to his life if he survives the war.

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Salem’s Lot (1979)

salemslot_1Starring David Soul, James Mason, Lance Kerwin, Bonnie Bedelia, Lew Ayres, Julie Cobb, Elisha Cook Jr., George Dzundza, Ed Flanders, Clarissa Kaye-Mason, Geoffrey Lewis, Barney McFadden, Kenneth McMillan, Fred Willard, Marie Windsor, Brad Savage

Directed by Tobe Hooper

Expectations: High. Excited to re-watch this after a decade or so, having just recently re-read the book.

threestar


Salem’s Lot is one of my favorite Stephen King books, so any screen adaptation would have a lot to live up to. Add in that this film was a ’70s TV miniseries, unable to capture King’s penchant for colorful language and mind-searing terror, and you might think that this one hasn’t got a shot in hell of holding up much. But it does hold up (for the most part), so if you’ve been sitting on the sidelines for the last 34 years, give it a shot. ๐Ÿ™‚ One warning, though: if you’ve read the book and you remember how things go down, it’s going to be hard not to compare the two versions constantly while watching.

I’m generally against reviews that focus on pointing out why the film version isn’t as good as the book, but for this one it’s going to be hard to hold back. Certain aspects of the adaptation don’t even begin to bring life to the words on the page. Many of the book’s characters are missing completely, and in some cases the ones that survived the cuts absorbed their sub-plots where the screenwriter saw a need to combine. This is an understandable necessity in adapting this type of book and I’m not against many of the specific changes made, but in doing this one of the novel’s central characters feels pushed aside and left out: the town itself.

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End of the World (1977)

Starring Christopher Lee, Sue Lyon, Kirk Scott, Dean Jagger, Lew Ayres, Macdonald Carey, Liz Ross

Directed by John Hayes

Expectations: Low, but it has Christopher Lee so that’s something.

On the general scale:
halfstar

On the B-Movie scale:
onestar


Plainly put, End of the World is awful. Just wanted to get that out of the way. It’s awful in one of the worst ways a movie can be awful too. It’s excruciatingly boring. So boring that the entire film is summed up within the Netflix summary paragraph, leaving out only minor occurrences. Next to nothing happens in this one, but surprisingly the movie ends on such a high note that I can’t help but think back fondly on the experience. This is the other 1977 film about first contact with alien lifeforms, and actually was released a few months before the more famous film.

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