Quentin Tarantino’s homage to grindhouse action, samurai, martial art movies was also a showcase for actress Uma Thurman.
Thurman stars as The Bride, a woman who was once a part of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. On her wedding day, while pregnant, her former squad members stormed the wedding killing everyone. The leader of the group Bill (David Carradine), The Bride’s former lover and father of her child shots her in the head. The Bride survives but is in a coma for four years.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Kill Bill”
After the 1970s there were several big movies that featured bad ass woman action lead roles. 1979’s Alien with Sigourney Weaver which needs no introduction and 1980’s Gloria with Gena Rowlands as a woman trying to save a kid from the mob. There was also a lot of bad action movies. She, Sheena and Red Sonja just to name a couple.
Today’s Sunday Matinee is 1985’s Yes, Madam a Hong Kong action film starring Michelle Yeoh – in what was her first starring role.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Yes, Madam!”
A woman gives birth to a baby girl while in prison in the late 1800 Japan. The woman dies after the birth but before she dies she wants her daughter Yuki to continue her plan of vengeance.
Yuki (Meiko Kaji) grows up learning how to fight and kill. She needs to kill three more people. Before she was born her mother and her mother’s husband were attacked by a group of four people. The husband was killed and the mother was raped. The mother tracked down one of the four and murdered him which is why she was in prison. While in prison she purposely got pregnant by one of the guards so she could have a child to finish seeking vengeance.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Lady Snowblood”
Pam Grier had co-starred in several women in prison movies and a few blaxploitation films before getting the lead role of 1973’s Coffy.
Blaxploitation films had exploded in popularity and American International Pictures had lost the rights to make Cleopatra Jones – which Warner Bros. made and released in the same year. American International Pictures being American International Pictures quickly raced and made Coffy to beat Cleopatra Jones in theatres.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Coffy”
Women in prison movies started becoming be in the late 1960s with films like 99 Women. Naturally Roger Corman’s low budget exploitation film company New World Pictures started making them in the early 1970s starting with The Big Doll House in 1971.
Directed by Jack Hill the movie was shot in the Philippines. Judy Brown stars as Collier a woman sent to prison for the murder of her husband. Once in prison she meets Alcott and Bodine (Roberta Collins and Pat Woodell). She also meets Grear (Pam Grier – in her first big screen role). Gear is a prison bully and lesbian who has her eyes set on Collier after her current girlfriend bores her. Meanwhile the sadistic female guards and warden Miss Dietrich (Christiane Schmidtmer) like to torture the prisoners.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: The Big Doll House”
Marital arts in movies have been around on the screen since the early days of film. But the massive international popularity of them wouldn’t really begin until the 1960s. In 1966 The Shaw Brothers Studio produced a movie called Come Drink with Me which would kick start a massive onslaught of martial art movies.
Come Drink with Me starred actress Cheng Pei-pei in the lead role as Golden Swallow a bad ass martial artist who is out to try and save her brother who has been kidnapped by a bandits have allied themselves with an evil monastery lead Abbot Liao Kung (Yeung Chi-hing). On her journeys she is helped by Drunken Cat aka Fan Da-pei (Yueh Hua), a former member of the same martial art master that trained Abbot Liao Kung.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Come Drink With Me”
Gianna Maria Canale stars as Consuelo who is the daughter of the notorious pirate called Tiger. Tiger has decided to retire and decides to hold a contest to see who will take over his command. The contest comes down to William (Anthony Steel) and Consuelo. Consuelo wins but then her father is murdered in the night.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Tiger of the Seven Seas”
This 1951 action adventure swashbuckler stars Jean Peters as Captain Anne Providence, a notorious pirate who sails the sevens seas. Intended to be loosely based on Anne Bonny the movie took several liberties and eventual became its on thing.
Anne and her crew have just seized a British ship and she meets Captain Pierre François LaRochelle (Louis Jourdan) whom she spares and lets him join her crew. Anne starts to fall in love with Pierre and takes him to meet her mentor Blackbeard (Thomas Gomez).
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Anne Of The Indies”
There are a few westerns in the 1940s and 50s which had strong female roles. 1945’s Along Came Jones featured Gary Cooper as easy going Jones who is mistaken for a bad guy except unlike the bad guy Cooper can’t shoot very well. Fortunately Loretta Young can.
There was also Ann Savage in Renegade Girl (1946), several adaptations on the life of Annie Oakley, first in 1935 with Barbara Stanwyck in Annie Oakley and then a musical with the same name in 1950 with Betty Hutton. There were also several Belle Starr films, the first was a silent in 19287 called Court Martial. Gene Tierney played her in Belle Starr (1941) and Isabel Jewell played Starr in Badman’s Territory and Daughter of Belle Starr (both 1946), and Jane Russell was Starr in Montana Belle (1952).
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Johnny Guitar”
Other than the action serials of the 1930s and 40s there was very very few leading roles for women as the hero. Most leading roles at the time were primarily drama, mother of a family struggling to keep the family together and such or a woman trying to become a star was another popular theme. But there the odd hero role for women.
Starting in the silent film era there was the odd western about a female gunfighter. 1918 had The Gun Woman. In the 1935 Annie Oakley a bio-pic about the sharp shooter starred Barbara Stanwyck, in 1935 The Plainsman starring Gary Cooper as Wild Bill had Jean Arthur as Calamity Jane but only in a non fighting side role. 1941 had the romanticized bio-pic Belle Starr (Gene Tierney) the notorious outlaw although the movie makes her more sympathetic, less of robbing criminal and more of a patriotic freedom fighter.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: The Paleface”
Brenda Starr was a popular comic strip that had started in the 1940s written and drawn by one of the few female comic artists working at the time Dale Messick. The comic followed the adventures of Brenda Starr a reporter who got into all sorts of adventures (Messick came up with it after her all female pirate comic got rejected). The series was so popular it lasted until 2011 in newspapers.
Columbia Pictures loved adapting comic characters into serials, Superman, Batman, The Phantom, Congo Bill, Terry and the Pirates and many more so it was not much of a surprise that they adapted Brenda Starr.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Brenda Starr, Reporter”
In 1944 Republic Pictures came out with another jungle girl serial The Tiger Woman starring Linda Stirling as the Tiger Woman. Sterling’s costume is actually a leopard print but whatever.
Two rival oil companies are trying to get the rights to drill in a jungle which is protected by the Tiger Woman and her tribe. Allen Saunders (Allan Lane) works for the one oil company but teams up with the Tiger Woman to fight the more evil oil company.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: The Tiger Woman/Zorro’s Black Whip”
So all the past few weeks of jungle girl movies have been leading to this 1941 action adventure serial from Republic Pictures, Jungle Girl!
Jungle Girl was the first sound serial to have a female lead. Well not quite – there was the 1933 remake of The Perils of Pauline and there was the 1935 serial Queen of the Jungle which just reused footage from the 1922 serial Jungle Goddess. But this actually the heroine swinging on vines and saving lives and fighting bad guys instead of just being a damsel in distress. Very very loosely based on Edgar Rice Burroughs novel of the same name the movie stars Frances Gifford as Nyoka Meredith the jungle girl of the title. The plot has Nyoka moving to an remote tribe in the jungle where her father Dr. John Meredith (Trevor Bardette) has fled and becomes doctor for the tribe displacing the witch doctor Shamba ( Frank Lackteen).
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Jungle Girl/The Perils of Nyoka”
Continuing with the jungle girl series today’s Sunday Matinee is 1932’s The Savage Girl.
Rochelle Hudson plays the title character, a young woman who has grown up in the jungle who is sort od a female Tarzan, trying to keep the animals of the jungle safe.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: The Savage Girl / The Jungle Princess”
There are lots of silent films that featured female leads, sometimes as the hero, more often than not as the damsel in distress and sadly most of the movies have been lost. The only other major film would the brilliant Les Vampires which I’ve previously done.
Despite the pre-code era with several strong female lead roles, there isn’t really any action roles for women other than supporting or again the damsel in distress. Sadly we have to jump to the 1940s action serials before we see a female lead.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Trader Horn”
One of the worst and greatest tragedies of the silent film era is how many movies have been lost forever, never to be seen again. Something like 70% of American silent films have been lost. So it’s especially frustrating to find something that sounds cool only to discover there is no chance of ever seeing it.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Ruth Roland”
The success of What Happened to Mary and The Adventures of Kathlyn would kick start a several action serials featuring female leads. In 1914 The Perils of Pauline starring Pearl White as Pauline, a young woman who is to inherit a vast fortune but her guardian Mr. Koerner (Paul Panzer) is plotting her death so he can get his hands on the money.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: The Perils Of Pauline”
It’s 2018 and this year there looks to be at least three movies featuring female action heroes. The Tomb Raider reboot, Red Sparrow with Jennifer Lawrence and most recently Proud Mary. With all that has happened lately in Hollywood and in the world in general I thought it would be a good time to take a look at the evolution of the female action hero.
To start things off we have to go back over 100 years ago. The first movie serial in the United States was 1912’s What Happened to Mary. Produced by Thomas Edison’s film studio Edison Films the movie wasn’t a true cliffhanger serial although there were 12 chapters released monthly. Each installment had a ending. But in a brilliant move each episode was released to coincide with the serial story of the same name published in McClure’s The Ladies’ World magazine.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: What Happened To Mary”
On January 28 and 31 Cineplex is playing the excellent 1963 movie Charade as part of the Classic Film series.
Directed by Stanley Donen, the film is kind of mix between a romantic screwball comedy and a thriller. Regina “Reggie” Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) while on a skiing trip decides she’s going to divorce her husband Charles when she gets back to Paris. While at the ski lodge she meets Peter Joshua (Cary Grant). When she returns to Paris she finds that her husband has been murdered.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Charade”
Julien Tavernier (Maurice Ronet) and his lover, the married Florence Carala (Jeanne Moreau) plot to kill Florence’s husband who is also Julien’s boss.
While the husband is working late Saturday night, Julien sneaks up the outside of the building using a rope and shoots and kills the husband. He then makes it look like a suicide. Julien leaves the building, starting his car and then notices that he left the rope hanging from the side of the building.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Elevator To The Gallows”