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So New Year, new film project. DVD recorders and Sky+ are great for recording films, but at some point they need to actually be watched. But so many films! What to watch? I just end up muttering indecisively, then flicking on Celebrity Big Brother instead (not really). So in an attempt to free up some space on my hard drives, I've diplomatically decided to watch them according to the alphabet. So today's post is brought to you by the number 3 and the letters A-B-C.

Atlantic City (Louis Malle, 1980) is a quiet melodrama, set against the fading grandeur of a dreary-looking Atlantic City. Which is perfectly fitting for the story, which focuses on several equally faded characters, whose dreams of past and future glories clash with the cruel realities of the present. At the centre of the story, there's fine, Oscar-nominated performances from Burt Lancaster as the aged gangster who was never the bigshot he wanted to be, and from Susan Sarandon in her breakout role as the girl who wins his heart (mostly by rubbing lemon juice on her chest, in the movie's most celebrated scene). Romance briefly threatens to blossom, before reality and practicality intrudes in a sweetly melancholic fashion. It makes for low-key, but layered viewing. Also, watch out for a helluva slap from Sarandon in one scene, the bloke looks genuinely hurt!

The Blood of Fu Manchu (Jesus Franco, 1968) is the fourth entry in the Christopher Lee series of Fu Manchu films and it's pretty terrible. Imagine if someone approached you and your mates in the pub, gave you a camera and some costumes, and asked you to make a film about an Oriental criminal mastermind scheming from his secret Amazonian lair to take over the world by killing important world leaders with a poisonous kiss of death from ten scantily clad seductresses. Even if you were all hopelessly pissed, I doubt you could make a less coherent film than this one. Only the guy playing the twitchy Mexican bandit leader seems to be having fun, Lee and everyone else just looks embarrassed or bored. As I was after watching this.

The Curse of Frankenstein (Terence Fisher, 1957) was the film which really put Hammer Horror on the map. Their first colour horror film, it was an enormous success and established them as the prime purveyor of lurid Gothic horror, paving the way for the resurrection of Dracula, The Mummy and many other monsters from their film graves. It also brought together Peter Cushing (Baron Frankenstein) and Christopher Lee (the Creature) for the first time in starring roles, sparking a lifelong friendship and a long career in films together. "I've got no lines!" Lee complained to Cushing when they first met. "You're lucky," responded Cushing," I've read the script." Despite his misgivings, Cushing gets the plum role here as the cultured, but clearly bonkers Baron, as he arrogantly stalks around in his splendidly equipped mad scientist lab, before resorting to some unethical grave-robbing and murder in his materials and methods. He does sport some excellent side-burns and quite a natty shirt ruffle, though, so I forgive him - it was all in the name of science, after all. Lee gets a little short-changed with limited screen time as the Creature, although he does get a memorable unmasking moment and a couple of creepy moments. Elsewhere, Hammer experimented with some heaving bosom shots, which also proved a hit with viewers. It's nowhere near as good as the original Frankenstein (1931), but it's still a key film in British film history and the two leads make it worthwhile.

So then, I'm off and running and so I'm happy to ignore the fact those last two films really start with T, if I were being pedantic. But hey! That's how I roll in my house, baby! Next time, D-E-F!!

This series has been brought to you by the number 26 and the letters A to Z. The entire list of reviews can be viewed in one handy list here, in reverse order for extra excitement. Or you can click on the links below because it's still Christmas and I'm feeling helpful. Until next year, farewell

Previously on the Alphabet Film Project....


Atlantic City
Blood of Fu Manchu
Curse of Frankenstein


Esio Trot


Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Hiroshima Mon Amour


Julius Caesar
Late Chrysanthemums



Perks of Being a Wallflower
Quatermass and the Pit
Roman Holiday

Sherlock Holmes & the Scarlet Claw
Tender Mercies
Under the Skin

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

You're Next
Zombie Flesh Eaters

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