Tag Archives: Kate Reid

This Property is Condemned (1966)

this property

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: Mother pimps her daughter.

Owen Legate (Robert Redford) arrives in the small town of Dodson, Mississippi in the 1930’s to carry out an unpleasant task. He’s been assigned by his employer to layoff many of the railway workers in the area due to the economic depression. Many in town are not pleased with his presence and want him to go while even threatening him with violence. Alva (Natalie Wood) is the only one who takes a liking to him despite the fact that he consistently gives her the-cold-shoulder in return. She’s been forced by her mother (Kate Reid) to ‘entertain’ the male guests that stay at their boarding house and Owen wants none of it as he finds her dreamy, child-like personality to be off-putting and even an illness. Yet the longer he stays the more entranced with her he becomes, but he wonders if he’ll ever be able to get her away from the clutches of her domineering Mother.

This film was considered by critics at the time to be ‘trash’ and that was most likely due to its provocative subject matter that was clearly years-ahead-of-its-time, but with a script written by Francis Ford Coppola and Fred Coe, produced by John Houseman and directed by Sydney Pollack in a story based on a Tennessee Williams play couldn’t be all that bad and this clearly isn’t and in fact it’s excellent and should be considered a classic instead. The recreation of The Deep South from the ‘30s is spot-on and the on-location shooting done in the small town of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi lends some terrific atmosphere. The dialogue is sharp and the well-paced script leads to emotionally charged scenes of high drama.

Redford’s cool and detached persona is put to great use and I liked seeing a scenario where it’s the girl chasing after the guy for a change. Mary Badham is equally good in her first film after doing To Kill a Mockingbird, but here she is much more attractive with long hair and sans the Tomboy look. There is also solid support from both Charles Bronson and a baby-faced Robert Blake who just three years later reteamed with Redford in Tell Them Willie Boy is Here.

Wood gives an excellent performance as well, but I had a hard time understanding her character as her perpetual flights of fancy didn’t make much sense. The script seems to say that this is her ‘defense’ and escape from her harsh life, but any woman whose been forced into prostitution by her mother and pawed at by literally every man who comes along would most likely become hardened and bitter and learn to distrust and dislike any man who came near her.

Kate Reid as the mother also posed some initial problems as she looks too young for the part and in reality was only 8 years older than Wood who played her daughter. However, there is a birthday celebration where she is given a cake full of candles to blow out, but she refuses as she feels that 43 is getting ‘too old’, which made me realize that back then people had kids earlier even before they were 18 and therefore her still youthful look by our standards could be forgiven and even understood.

The final half is where this thing really comes together and includes a great confrontational moment between a drunken Wood, who really did get drunk in order to get into the scene, as well as her picturesque journey to New Orleans. Like in most movies the odds of her suddenly bumping into Owen after a couple of short days in the city seemed pretty slim, but I could forgive it as the rest of the film is so strong that any minor flaw with it is hardly worth discussing.

My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: August 3, 1966

Runtime: 1Hour 50Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Sydney Pollack

Studio: Paramount

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube

The Andromeda Strain (1971)

andromeda strain

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Isolating a dangerous virus.

When a satellite returns to earth it brings back a mysterious virus that ends up killing all the residents of a town where it lands. Two scientists Dr. Jeremy Stone (Arthur Hill) and Dr. Dan Hill (James Olson) go to the town to investigate and find that the only survivors are a wino (George Mitchell) and a six-month-old baby. They bring these two people along with the remnants of the satellite back to a secret Nevada lab known as Wildfire that’s buried deep below the ground. It is here after close examination that they are able to observe the virus, which appears as small green dots on the satellite, but they fail to realize that this virus can also mutate and presents an even greater risk to them in the lab.

One of the major selling points of this film is the fact that it keeps everything within the realm of ‘realistic sci-fi’. No bubblegum action, scary monsters, or any other form of over-the-top dramatics get added; instead it’s on a ‘thinking man’s level’ with an extraordinary attention to detail. I enjoyed seeing all of the decontamination procedures that the crew is forced to go through before they are even allowed to begin their investigation. The isolated lab, which is hidden beneath what looks to be just an ordinary farmhouse and shed, is really cool and director Robert Wise’s use of the split-screen during the search of the town is both flashy and slick.

Showing the scientist’s personal lives and how the government agents literally demand that they drop what they are doing and come with them helps humanize the characters to a degree. I also liked how the male character of Dr. Peter Leavitt in the Michael Crichton book from which this is based gets switched to a female character here, which helps add an extra dynamic and is very well played by Kate Reid. In fact the only thing about the character’s that I didn’t like, aside from Arthur Hill’s sterile performance, is when we see the dreams of the doctors as they sleep, which seemed corny and unnecessary.

The mysterious nature of the virus is compelling and I certainly enjoyed the way they were able to detect it by scanning the satellite with cameras that could focus onto the object in minute detail, but the plot itself gets stretched farther than it needs to. There are a few interesting twists, but it starts to feel quite labored around the 2-hour mark and the climatic finish isn’t all that intense and seems rather stagy and predictable.

I was also amazed that this film achieved a G-rating. For one thing there isn’t much action and the narrative is on a more sophisticated level that is clearly aimed at adults and something most children won’t be able to pick up on. Also, one of the victims that the two men come upon is of a woman with no top on. The image is brief, but her breasts are clearly exposed making this one of the few G-rated movies to feature nudity.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: March 12, 1971

Runtime: 2Hours 11Minutes

Rated G

Director: Robert Wise

Studio: Universal

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube