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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Hail, Hail, Rock ‘N Roll

By CarrieSpecht

June 21st, 2006

At the Egyptian Theatre Hollywood Saturday, June 24 at 7:30pm. Following the screening Director Taylor Hackford (and surprise guests) will appear in person for a discussion and to reveal some surprise extras, some of which appear on the upcoming new DVD release of the film.

Hail, Hail, Rock ‘N Roll

The tagline proclaims, “The whole world knows the music. Nobody knows the man”.

Director Taylor Hackford ("Ray") rectifies this situation in his wonderful expose of preeminent musician Chuck Berry who was a prominent pioneer of the idea of singer as songwriter, and a highly influential leader in the infancy of rock 'n' roll. Berry is explored and exposed as never before in this revealing, inspiring and energizing documentary.

Filmed on location at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri, Hackford's earnest and attentive documentary is an all-star extravaganza revolving around a concert given in Berry’s hometown on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

This lovely and personal account of Chuck Berry is told in the usual documentary fashion, with Berry the man revealed through his own words and those of his friends and colleagues through an entertaining mix of interviews, some vintage behind-the-scenes clips, and live-concert archival footage.

The film abounds with a multitude of guest appearances by many legends and luminaries in concert as well as in interviews, including Etta James, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Robert Cray, Julian Lennon, Linda Ronstadt, legendary musicians Bo Diddley, Little Richard, the Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen who once opened for Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis early in his career.

Although standard in it’s presentation Hackford does an impressive job of capturing Berry's charismatic performances, his humor, and the uncompromising standards he has set for himself, often presenting Berry as a difficult character, avoiding the trap of idealizing or idolizing him. By showing the enigmatic showmen in all his humanity makes this one of the best and most honest rock films of all time.

With its charm and exuberance it’s no wonder that this film has long been a fan favorite and it’s DVD release has been so greatly anticipated.

My rating: A-