The Mask of Zorro

  • Directors: Martin Campbell
  • Producers: David Foster, Doug Claybourne, Executive Producers, Steven Spielberg, Walter F Parkes
  • Writers: Screenplay, John Eskow, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Story, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Randall Jahnson, Characters, Johnston McCulley
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Romance, Western
  • Actors: Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta Jones, Stuart Wilson, Matt Letscher

In 1821, the Mexican Army is on the verge of liberating its country from Spanish colonial rule. In Las Californias the ruthless Spanish Governor, Don Rafael Montero, is about to be overthrown. In a final effort to trap his nemesis, the masked swordsman Zorro (Anthony Hopkins), Montero prepares to execute three innocent townspeople. With assistance from two orphan brothers, Joaquin and Alejandro Murrieta, Zorro releases the prisoners. Zorro rewards the Murrieta brothers with a medallion he wears, and escapes on his horse, Toronado, after cutting a “Z” into Montero’s neck as a warning.

Montero deduces that Zorro is really Don Diego de la Vega, a Spanish nobleman married to Esperanza, the woman Montero loved. Attempting to arrest Diego, a fight ensues. Esperanza is killed while trying to protect Diego. Diego’s house is burned and his infant daughter, Eléna, is taken by Montero to be raised as his own. Diego is imprisoned.

Twenty years later Montero returns to California, looking for Diego in the old prison. Although de La Vega is there, Montero does not recognize him, while several prisoners claim to be Zorro. Diego escapes, intent on killing Montero at a public ceremony for Montero’s return. Diego restrains himself when he sees Eléna (Catherine Zeta-Jones), now a beautiful young lady. Eléna is presented with a bouquet of flowers – Romagnas, native to California – the scent of which she recognizes, although she believes she has never been to California.

The one moment that captured all the advertising and viewer’s attention: When Eléna (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is undressed by the slashing sword of Mexican thief Alejandro Murrieta/Zorro (Antonio Banderas); the view of her opened dress caused his sword blade to pop up, followed by his taking her for a sensuous kiss.[1][2] The scene has been called one of the most erotic film moments of the 1990s.[3][4] In fact, both Catherine Zeta-Jones and Antonio Banderas have admitted to sexual arousal during the filming of this scene,[5] Banderas being aroused by Zeta-Jones’s beauty,[5] and Zeta-Jones being aroused by the very fact that Banderas could strip her by using only his sword and not his hands.[5]

McCabe Mrs Miller

  • Directors: Robert Altman
  • Producers: Mitchell Brower, David Foster
  • Writers: Edmund Naughton, Robert Altman, Brian McKay
  • Genres: Drama, Western
  • Actors: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Rene Auberjonois

Around the beginning of the twentieth century, a gambler named John McCabe (Beatty) arrives in the fictional town of Presbyterian Church Washington State to start a low-class brothel. McCabe quickly takes on a dominant position over the town’s simple-minded and lethargic miners, thanks to his aggressive personality and rumors that he is a gunfighter. The ‘legend’ of McCabe as a gunfighter is propagated largely through gossip on the part of Paddy Sheehan (Rene Auberjonois), a local saloon owner notorious for telling tales. The legend claims that McCabe shot a famous gunfighter named Bill Roundtree with a Derringer pistol during a card game. The legend is neither confirmed nor encouraged by McCabe; he is not seen with such a pistol until the film’s conclusion, and is not portrayed as a courageous type, leading the audience to believe that the legend is merely another of Sheehan’s fabrications.

Shortly after McCabe has established his make-shift brothel, consisting of three prostitutes purchased from a pimp in the nearby town of Bearpaw for $200, Constance Miller (Christie), an opium addicted professional ‘Madam’ arrives in Presbyterian Church. She convinces him that she can do a better job of managing the brothel than he can, as McCabe is clearly inept when dealing with women. The two become successful business partners, and a love-interest subplot is developed between these two frontier-hardened and cynical characters.

Just as McCabe is a classical example of the antihero, the final shootout between McCabe and the gunmen is antithetical to the western genre. It takes place, not at high noon on main street, but in a stifling snowstorm, as the killers stalk McCabe through the back alleys of the town like a hunted animal. The arch-villain gunslinger (played by British actor Hugh Millais) is a giant Englishman, who uses a single-shot elephant gun, rather than a revolver. As he stands gloating over the apparently slain McCabe, the latter produces the fabled deringer and shoots his assassin in the forehead. No music is used, and only deafening silence is present as the falling snow muffles all sounds. McCabe’s victory over his hunters is not celebrated by the townspeople, who are otherwise occupied putting out their burning church on the other side of town. Having triumphed over his enemies, McCabe does not get to ride off into the sunset with Mrs. Miller, but instead, slowly dies in a snowbank while Mrs. Miller drifts into an opium-induced trance, oblivious to his fate and indifferent to her own feelings. After McCabe and the bounty killers are all dead, the town’s people are seen rejoicing, not for the hero’s victory, but for the church fire that had finally been extinguished.

The Thing

  • Directors: John Carpenter
  • Producers: David Foster, Lawrence Turman, Wilbur Stark, Stuart Cohen
  • Writers: Novella, John W Campbell Jr, Screenplay, Bill Lancaster
  • Genres: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, David Clennon, Donald Moffat, Thomas G Waites, Joel Polis, Peter Maloney, Charles Hallahan, T K Carter, Richard Dysart, Richard Masur

In winter 1982, an American Antarctic research station is alerted by gunfire and explosions. Pursued by a Norwegian helicopter, an Alaskan Malamute makes its way into the camp as the science station’s crew looks on in confusion. Through reckless use of a thermal charge, the helicopter is destroyed and its pilot killed shortly after landing. The surviving passenger fires at the dog with a rifle, grazing Bennings (Peter Maloney), one of the American researchers. The passenger is subsequently shot and killed by Garry (Donald Moffat), the station commander. Not knowing what to make of the incident, the station crew adopts the dog.

Unable to contact the outside world via radio, helicopter pilot R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Dr. Copper (Richard Dysart) risk a flight to the Norwegian camp to find it destroyed, its personnel missing or dead. Finding evidence that the Norwegians had dug something out of the ice, the pair return to the station with the partially-burned remains of a hideous creature which bears some human features. An autopsy of the cadaver by Dr. Blair (Wilford Brimley) is inconclusive, save to find that the creature had what appeared to be a normal set of internal organs.

At Bennings’ request, the station’s wrangler, Clark (Richard Masur), kennels the stray with the rest of the station’s sled dogs. Noises from the kennel cause Clark to return, finding almost the entire sled team in the process of being messily assimilated by the stray dog, which has transformed into a monster. MacReady summons the rest of the crew to the kennel with the fire alarm and orders Childs (Keith David) to incinerate the creature with a flamethrower. A subsequent autopsy by Blair reveals that the stray dog was an alien capable of absorbing and perfectly imitating other life-forms. Realizing the implications of this, Blair quickly becomes withdrawn and suspicious of the rest of the crew. A second helicopter expedition discovers an alien spacecraft unearthed by the Norwegian research team, revealing that the creature had awakened after being buried within the ice for many thousands of years.

After some time, MacReady is shown wandering alone in the flaming rubble. He encounters Childs, who claims to have seen Blair and gotten lost while chasing him in the snow. With the polar climate closing in around them, they acknowledge the futility of their distrust, sharing a drink as the camp burns.