AnnaLynne McCord, Blackmail, Charlie Chan, Crime, Detective, Donald Sutherland, Drama, Gambling, George Eads, Gold bullion, Gutshot Straight, Justin Steele, Las Vegas, Lesley-Anne Down, Literary adaptation, Mantan Moreland, Michael Crichton, Murder, Radio station, Reviews, Robbery, Sean Connery, Sidney Toler, Stephen Lang, Steven Seagal, The First Great Train Robbery, The Scarlet Clue, Thriller, Victorian England, Vinnie Jones
It’s been a pretty quiet month, so only a few movies make the roundup.
The First Great Train Robbery (1979) / D: Michael Crichton / 110m
Cast: Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland, Lesley-Anne Down, Alan Webb, Malcolm Terris, Robert Lang, Michael Elphick, Wayne Sleep, Pamela Salem, Gabrielle Lloyd
Rating: 7/10 – in Victorian England, master criminal Pierce (Connery) recruits a motley gang of criminals (including Sutherland’s dandy pickpocket) to pull off an audacious heist: the robbery of gold bullion from a moving train; Crichton adapts his own novel with wit and style, and even though he finds himself hampered by budgetary restrictions, still manages to make The First Great Train Robbery an enjoyable, if predictable, diversion.
The Scarlet Clue (1945) / D: Phil Rosen / 65m
Cast: Sidney Toler, Mantan Moreland, Ben Carter, Benson Fong, Virginia Brissac, Robert Homans, Jack Norton, I. Stanford Jolley, Janet Shaw
Rating: 5/10 – murder and espionage are the order of the day for Charlie Chan (Toler) as he investigates criminal goings-on in a building that houses both a radio station and a science laboratory (which are, of course, connected); not one of the Oriental detective’s better outings but still possessed of an admirable energy, The Scarlet Clue has a meandering script but it’s offset by good performances (though Toler does look tired) and better-than-average injections of humour.
Gutshot Straight (2014) / D: Justin Steele / 89m
Cast: George Eads, AnnaLynne McCord, Stephen Lang, Ted Levine, Steven Seagal, Vinnie Jones, Tia Carrere, Fiona Dourif
Rating: 4/10 – when Las Vegas-based gambler Jack (Eads) meets fellow gambler Duffy (Lang) he finds himself entangled in a web of murder and deceit centred around Duffy’s wife, May (McCord); boasting a half-decent performance by Seagal, this vanity project for Eads signposts its clunky plot developments with all the finesse of a punch to the face, and never finds a way of overcoming its star’s shortcomings as an actor.