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About
At Cinema Essentials I explore film history, discovering great films, classic films, forgotten films and overlooked gems, with a little bit of classic TV thrown in. The articles on this site usually avoid major spoilers and I will give advanced warning if I think they are unavoidable. 

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Copyright
This blog uses images from film and TV productions and publicity materials for the purposes of commentary and criticism on a fair use basis. All written material on this website is copyright J. Watts and Cinema Essentials, unless otherwise stated, and may not be reproduced without my permission.

Contact
If you would like to contact me you can email me at cinemaessentials @gmail.com

Jay


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The Liquidator (1965)

“The name's Oakes. Boysie Oakes.”

It doesn't really work, does it? But in the mid 1960s everyone was trying to cash in on the James Bond craze. Rival spy series included Matt Helm, Harry Palmer, Bulldog Drummond and Derek Flint. MGM's hopes for a Bond rival were pinned on Rod Taylor as Boysie Oakes in The Liquidator.

Taylor's character is an ex-army sergeant who is inducted into the British secret service by spy master Colonel Mostyn (Trevor Howard). Mostyn has been tasked by his boss (Wilfrid Hyde-White) to recruit an agent to carry out unofficial assassinations off the books. Mostyn recalls an incident in wartime Paris, shown in a black and white flashback sequence, when he was rescued by Oakes from two would-be assassins. Unbeknown to him, Oakes's heroics were mostly accidental. Oakes goes along with the plan, smitten as he is with the money he's paid, the E-Type Jaguar he's given, the swanky '60s bachelor pad apartment and the endless parade of bea…

The 39 Steps (1935)

For me, The 39 Steps is the quintessential Hitchcock film. Other films may have weightier themes or a more complex subtext, but The 39 Steps boils the Hitchcock thriller down to its essential elements – a shocking murder, an innocent man on the run, a beautiful blonde and a MacGuffin so irrelevant that few people can remember what it was all about.

The Trap (1966)

The Trap is set in the wilds of British Columbia in the late 19th century. A French-Canadian fur trapper, Jean La Bete (Oliver Reed), arrives at a trading post with his latest wares, just as a wife auction is finishing. Yes that's right, a wife auction. (They do still have those in Canada, right?) A group of women have arrived, petty criminals and prostitutes, who have been freed from jail by horny lonely frontiersmen, on condition that they marry their benefactors.

One woman's prospective husband has died and so she is auctioned off to the highest bidder. Jean tries to bid but is too late. Later, after a night of drinking, he arrives at the home of the owner of the trading post (Rex Sevenoaks), demanding the money he owes him. The trader is in financial trouble, heavily in debt, and Jean's appearance makes things worse. He had been told that Jean was dead, but now he has to find money to pay this debt too.