FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| John Sturges |||
John Sturges

Helming the “Magnificent Seven” should be reason enough, demonstrating that Sturges had the happy talent of taking what was considered strictly “male” oriented stories and making them sexy enough and humorous enough to appeal to female movie-goer as well.

Sturges takes this star-studded gunslinger film based on the Japanese favorite "The Seven Samurai", and makes it a bone fide all-American classic featuring Yul Brynner. At the request of Mexican peasants, Brynner recruits a band of fellow mercenaries, half of whom Sturges introduces as the next generation of action film super-stars including Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Steve McQueen. Widescreen!

Sturges is responsible for what is renowned as one of the greatest war films ever made, featuring Steve McQueen and his unforgettably daring motorcycle jumps in the face of the enemy. Allied prisoners escape from a German POW camp in this superior effort, noted for a brilliant international cast and Elmer Bernstein's triumphant score. Widescreen!

This day in the life of a stranger in an isolated town has since been done to death, and this is why. In the hands of a lesser director the talents of this exceedingly manly cast (Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan) would otherwise overwhelm this compelling drama with a prejudice theme, but Sturges is able to maintain a firm grasp of the reigns, keeping his actors this side of mellow drama. Widescreen!

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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State Property II

By EdwardHavens

April 13th, 2005

"State Property II" isn't so much a movie as it is a ninety-four minute commercial for all of actor/writer/director/hip-hop mogul Damon Dash's various entrepreneurial enterprises. One could probably count on one hand the number of shots that do not feature a character framed to lovingly show off a piece of clothing from Dash's Rocawear or (hey hey now!) State Property clothing lines. Those interested in annoying things like plot or plausibility are best off steering clear of this inane celebration of all things thug.


If, like myself, you never saw, or (more likely) heard, of "State Property," Dash is kind enough to give a quick recap of the first film during the opening credits... not that the summary makes much sense, fighting for attention with the bombastic soundtrack and the busy, 1980's-era "Yo! MTV Raps" title sequence. I think it might have had something to do with a guy who calls himself Beans (Beanie Sigel) who tries to make himself the big man in Philly's drug scene but fall short of toppling the main crew in town. Regardless, Beans is now doing time in the pokey, and helpless to act as he watches his once-mighty empire fall to pieces as his inept lieutenants screw up deal after deal. Looking for a way to get back into the game, Beans hooks up with a fellow inmate, Pollo Loco (Victor 'N.O.R.E.' Santeago), to get out of prison and take over the Philly drug scene once and for all from Dame (Dash).

Or at least that's the excuse of a story. Most of all, this is a home movie shot on digital video, with a bunch of friends and acquaintances doing the modern urban version of that old Mickey Rooney "Come on, let's put on a show" zeal. You know you're in trouble when there is a reliance on narration to move the story forward. But unlike "Sin City," there is nothing of interest here to keep viewers motivated. Music fans will no doubt be playing Magic Mirror for most of the film ("I see Mariah Carey and Ol' Dirty Bastard... oh, there's Cam'ron and Kayne West"), but that's not enough to sustain an entire film.

If Mr. Dash is serious about being a filmmaker, by all means, I hope he does the right thing in the future and spends the time to learn how to tell a real story, because product placement, pretty women, fly rides and lots of guns going off can only take a movie so far. But then, I suspect this film wasn't really made for a thirtysomething white guy who drink tequila and enjoy Fellini movies.

My rating: D