Lone Wolf Sullivan is a writer, songwriter, and studio musician.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

EL TOPO (1970) * * *

Is it Art or a pretentious "blood and guts South American western"? Certainly the narration for the trailer is the most pretentious I've ever heard, but EL TOPO is one of my favorite films.

Mexican Alexander Jodorowsky stars as El Topo, the black-clad gunfighter who rides through the old west and has many surrealistic, grotesque, and perverse adventures. Jodorowsky also wrote and directed this powerful, violent and dazzling movie.

El Topo and his naked son Brontis (Brontis Jodorowsky) ride through the desert and hunt down a band of outlaws who have killed his wife and the inhabitants of a town. He tells Brontis, "You are seven years old. You are a man. Bury your first toy and your mother's picture." After leaving his son at a monastery, he rides off with a woman called Mara (Mara Lorenzio) to defeat the four great masters of pistol duelling. El Topo learns something from each master, then wins each duel by cheating. The fourth master kills himself to demonstrate the unimportance of life. El Topo says, "Too much perfection is a mistake." The first half of the film ends with El Topo's betrayal and near murder by Mara.

Fortunately, El Topo is rescued by a group of deformed outcasts, who save his life and take him to their cavern community. While comatose, he meditates on the four lessons for many years. He awakes, is "born again", and is determined to free the misfits from their prison. With the help of his dwarf girlfriend (Jacqueline Luis) and his full-grown priest son (Robert John), he digs an escape exit but his friends are murdered by cultists in a nearby town. El Topo kills them all, then pours oil on himself and sets himself on fire. He has learned all he can about life. His son and girlfriend make a grave for his body, which becomes a beehive full of honey.

EL TOPO (the mole) is supposedly an allegory for the Old Testament, life of Christ, and mankind's search for the meaning of life. I only notice the sublime absurdity and the blood and guts.

Originally I saw it in theatres in Spanish with English sub-titles. Now I watch it on video, dubbed into English. I prefer the Spanish. In one scene, Mara is lost, wandering in the desert saying, "Nada. Nada. Nada." Do we need a translation for this? It's much more effective in Spanish.

Others in the cast include: David Silva (The Colonel), Jose Antonio Alcaraz (Sheriff), Julian DeMeriche (Priest), Felipe Diaz Garza (Deputy), Jose Legarreta, Alfonso Arau, Jose Luis Fernandez, Alf Junco, Gerardo Zepeda, Rene Barrera, Rene Alis, Fererico Gonzales, Pablo Leder, Giuliano Girini Sasseroli, Aldo Grumelli, Ignacio Marinez Espana, Eliseo Gardea Saucedo, Hector Martinez, Paula Romo, Berta Lomeli, Juan Jose Gurrola, Victor Fosado, Agustin Isunza, Carlos Lavenant, Eliseo Pereda, Pablo Mariachal, and many others. Music was composed by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Nacho Medez. Alejandro Jodorowsky wrote the script, edited, designed the costumes, and directed.

Initially an underground film, the title EL TOPO is a metaphor of underground cinema. A mole digs to the surface, much as low-budget underground films can surface into mainstream popularity. It was John Lennon who bought the rights to EL TOPO to ensure worldwide distribution.

John Lennon loved EL TOPO. It was his favorite movie, so he financed Jodorowsky's next film, THE HOLY MOUNTAIN (1973)--equally great, but quite different. It's more shocking, bizarre, blasphemous, colourful, and psychedelic. A Christ-like figure, who is a thief, wanders through very strange scenarios and meets a mystical guide who introduces him to seven men who represent a planet in our solar system. There are unusual lines such as, "Your sacrifice completes my temple of 1,000 testicles" and "Rub your clitoris on the mountain." A group of nine go to Lotus Island to replace the nine immortal masters who live on a holy mountain.

Lennon's help with HOLY MOUNTAIN (La Montana Sagrada) turned into a nighmare for Jodorowsky, because sleazy manager Allen Klein acquired the rights to EL TOPO and HOLY MOUNTAIN. Klein hates Jodorowky and would not allow his movies to be shown or distributed in North America.

Alejandro Jodorowsky said of Allen Klein: "It would be good that all people who admire my work demand life-time jail for Klein, under the charge of cultural murder."

Klein's "cultural murder" all but destroyed Jodorowsky's career. After too many years, he returned to making films, but they are quite different and not as entertaining. His other films include: FANDO AND LIS (1967), THE TUSK (1978), SANTA SANGRE (1989), and RAINBOW THIEF (1990). In 2004 Klein finally relented and legally allowed Jodorowsky's films to be made available, but very little has changed.

Most people who have seen EL TOPO and HOLY MOUNTAIN have watched bootleg copies of copies of copies. Mine were imported from Japan, dubbed into English with Japanese sub-titles.

ERASERHEAD (1977) * * *

Director David Lynch's feature film debut took him 5 years to complete. He has refused to say anything about this weird, shocking and disturbing experimental film, except that it is a "dream of dark and troubling things" and he has never read an interpretation that is the same as his own.

Henry Spencer (John/Jack Nance) is a zombie-like printer who is on vacation for the entire movie. He lives in a run-down city with rows of abandoned buildings. Perhaps it takes place in the post-apocalytic future, or maybe it's all a nightmare. Electric lights constantly flicker, water pipes are always leaking and there is a constant humming noise.

Henry has dinner with his spastic girlfriend, Mary X (Charlotte Stewart) and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. X (Allen Joseph & Jeanne Bates). Dinner consists of tiny chickens that move their legs and ooze black gunk. Mr. X says, "I've watched this neighbourhood change from pastures to the hell-hole it is now." Mrs. X comes on to Henry, then we learn that Mary has given birth very prematurely and he must marry her.

Mr. X: "I thought I heard a stranger. We've got chicken tonight. Strangest damn things. They're man made. Little damn things. Smaller than my fist. But they're new. Hi, I'm Bill."
Henry: "Hello there. I'm Henry."
Mrs. X: "Henry works at LaPelle's Factory."
Mr. X: "Oh. Printing's your business? Plumbing's mine. For 30 years now. I've watched this neighborhood change from pastures to the hell-hole it is now."
Mary X: "Dad!"
Mrs. X: "Bill!"
Mr. X: "I put every damn pipe in this neighborhood. People think that pipes grow in their homes. But they sure as hell don't. Look at my knees! Look at my knees!"

Mrs. X: "There's a baby. It's at the hospital."
Mary X: "Mom!"
Mrs. X: "And you're the father."
Henry: "Well that's impossible! It's only been..."
Mary X: "Mother, they're still not sure it is a baby."
Mrs. X: "You're in very bad trouble if you won't cooperate..."

Mary moves in with Henry. Their baby is grotesquely reptillian and constantly cries. Mary cannot stand the crying and moves back with her parents. Henry can't cope with the deformed baby either. It goes into violent convulsions and breaks out in spots. Henry exclaims, "Oh! You are sick!"

One of the best parts of the film is the Lady in the Radiator (Laurel Near) in Henry's apartment. His hissing radiator opens to reveal a dancing lady on stage and she sings, "In heaven, everything is fine. You've got your good things and I've got mine." She stomps on and squishes worms, which appear in many scenes.

Henry has a sexual relationship with the Beautiful Girl Across the Hall (Judith Anna Roberts), who asks him, "Are you Henry? I locked myself out of my apartment...and it's so late." Other experiences include becoming pregnant, and being consumed by a planet. Jack Fisk, David Lynch's brother-in-law, plays the Man in the Planet.

The film's title comes from a fantasy sequence in the last half of the film. Henry's head detaches from his body, falls from the sky, and lands on the pavement where it cracks open. A young boy (Thomas Coulson) takes the head to a pencil factory where the workers determine the brain is suitable material for pencil erasers.

Eventually Henry cuts his baby's bandages, which were actually holding it together. He stabs the exposed internal organs with scissors and a huge apparition of the baby's head fills the apartment. The last scene shows Henry being embraced by the Lady in the Radiator.

Also in the cast are: V. Phipps-Wilson (Landlady), Jean Lange (Grandmother), John Monez (bum), Darwin Joston (Paul), Neil Moran (Boss), Hal Landon Jr. (pencil machine operator), Jennifer Chambers Lynch (Little girl), Brad Keeler (little boy), Raymond Walsh (Mr. Roundheels), Toby Keeler, Gil Dennis, Doddie Keeler, and Peggy Lynch. David Lynch wrote the music, script, produced and directed.

This surreal, repulsive cult classic defies interpretation and has its own demented, inscrutable logic. The plot is not very linear and there is a blurry line between fantasy sequences and the narrative. It's similar to Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel's surrealistic UN CHIEN ANDALOU (1928), which included dead donkeys on pianos. To try to make sense of it is foolish. Just enjoy the entertainment and a jolt to the intellect.

ERASERHEAD is in black and white and there are long periods without dialogue. It is definitely not for children or the squeamish.

BYE BYE BIRDIE (1963) * * *

In 1958 Conrad Birdie (Jesse Pearson) a rock'n'roll superstar similar to Elvis Presley is drafted into the army. His agent and songwriter Albert F. Peterson (Dick van Dyke) wants one last hit record with lots of publicity before Conrad is sent to the army. He plans to have Conrad sing "One Last Kiss" live on the ED SULLIVAN TV show and give one lucky girl from his fan club a kiss on TV.

The fan chosen at random is Kim McAfee (Ann-Margret) of Sweet Apple, Ohio. Conrad and Albert visit the small town and turn several lives upside down. Kim's father Harry (Paul Lynde) becomes obsessed, her boyfriend Hugo Peabody (Bobby Rydell) becomes jealous, and Conrad tires of show business and teaches the kids how to party, which gets him in trouble with the law. Complications arise when everyone, including Albert's clinging mother Mama Mae Peterson (Maureen Stapleton) and his girlfriend Rosie DeLeon (Janet Leigh) descend on Sweet Apple.

Harry McAfee says: "No matter how many millions I make selling Speed-up, I'll still be the same humble, lovable guy I always was. And if any of those hicks try to push me around, I'll break 'em... The next time I have a daughter, I hope it's a boy!" Randolph McAfee (Bryan Russel) says, "I respect ya, Papa." Harry replies, "I don't want your respect. Who wants respect from a ten-year old?"

Harry: "I know that showbiz type. I never told you this, but one summer I worked with the circus... all those midgets... wild! They're probably livin' in sin."
Doris: "Harry Lionel McAfee!"
Harry: "They've been engaged for six years. Don't tell me they haven't..."
Doris: "We were engaged for five years."
Harry: "He's not as stupid as I was."

Doris McAfee: "You know these adolescents. Kim'll lose face."
Harry McAfee: "And if I don't get him out that's not all she'll..."
(Conrad Birdie opens a can of beer, which sprays on Mr. McAfee)
Harry McAfee: "That's my favorite brand."
Kim McAfee: "Harry, do you have a cigarette? I've run out."
Harry McAfee: "So have I. How about my pipe?"

Rose DeLeon: "Well we could sure use the money. Any day now we'll have another mouth to feed."
Ed Sullivan: "Rosie, you're not even married."
Rose DeLeon: "His mother!"

Mae Peterson: "Now, don't try to pay me back, son. I forgive you. So what if you're an ingrate? So long as you're happy."
Albert Peterson: "I don't wanna be happy."
Mae Peterson: (sings) "Kids! Never once appreciate how I sacrificed. Working, slaving, scrimping, saving pennies... and livin' with your father!"
Albert Peterson: (sings) "Oh one last kiss... there never was such bliss... I love your dentifrice!"
Mae Peterson: "Goodbye, Rosie."
Rose DeLeon: "Goodbye, Mae."
Mae Peterson: "Call me Mrs. Peterson."

BYE BYE BIRDIE is the movie version of the Broadway musical satire first performed in New York City's Martin Beck Theatre on April 14, 1960. Dick van Dyke and Paul Lynde were also in the cast. The film changes the stage version somewhat, most notably by removing the satire. Nonetheless, it is pleasant, inventive, noisy, exuberant, frenetic, but dated and hard to follow. It has little reverence for popular culture, rock'n'roll, or family values.

Ann-Margret's knockout performance made her a star, paving the way for her to co-star with the real Elvis in VIVA LAS VEGAS (1964). Ed Sullivan makes a substantial guest appearance. Some viewers praise the film as classic 1960's camp, while others disapprove of the changes to the original play. It's a little corny, but has great style, lots of laughs, plus good singing, dancing, and choreography.

Others in the cast include: Mary LaRoche (Doris McAfee), Michael Evans (Claude Paisley), Robert Paige (Bob Precht), Gregory Morton (Maestro Borov), Milton Frome (Mr. Maude), Frandk Alberton (Sam), Trudi Ames (Ursula), Cyril Delevanti (Mr. Nebbitt), Gil Lamb (Lanky Shriner), Hazel Shermet (Marge), and many others. Michael Stewart wrote the play and Irving Brecher wrote the screenplay. Charles Strouse wrote the music and Lee Adams wrote the lyrics. George Sidney directed.

Only 11 of the 16 stageplay songs are used in the movie. The songs are: "The Telephone Hour", "Put On a Happy Face", "Kids", "Bye Bye Birdie", "How Lovely To Be a Woman", "One Boy", "Honestly Sincere", "Hymn for a Sunday Evening", "One Last Kiss", "A Lot of Living to Do", "Rosie", and "The Shriner's Ballet".

BYE BYE BIRDIE (1995) is a TV movie adaptation starring Jason Alexander as Albert Peterson, Vanessa Williams as Rose Alvarez, Marc Kudisch as Conrad Birdie, and Chynna Phillips as Kim MacAfee. Performances are good, although this version is not quite as good as the original. It stays close to the stageplay, which is problematic because a movie is not a play. And director Gene Saks often comments on the 1950's and 60's in general, rather than what's in the script. Rosie DeLeon is called Rose Alvarez as in the play, and McAfee is likewise MacAfee. Three mediocre songs are added: "Let's Settle Down", "A Mother Doesn't Matter Anymore", and "A Giant Step".

VIVA LAS VEGAS (1964) * * *

Lucky Jackson (Elvis Presley) is a race car driver and singer who goes to Las Vegas to compete in the Las Vegas Grand Prix. His car needs a new motor and the money to pay for it is lost in a swimming pool.

Jackson takes a job in a Casino and romances Rusty Martin (Ann-Margret), a cabaret dancer who turns out to be his rival in the hotel's employee talent contest. The on-screen chemistry between Elvis and Ann-Margret is hot, probably because they were having a real life affair at the time. This romantic musical is perked up by the glitz of Las Vegas and the exciting action of the racing scenes. The other actors, such as Cesare Danova (as Count Elmo Mancini), are quite good.

Lucky: "Good morning, I've been looking for you all night."
Rusty: "You must be desperate to find a model that really needs fixing."
Lucky: "It's what I call a real sport model."
Rusty: "Can you lend me a car until you get mine running again?"
Lucky: "We'll do better than that - I'll be happy to drive you wherever you want to go."
Rusty: "And why should you go to all that bother?"
Lucky: "Cause around here I'm known as your very bothering mechanic."
Rusty: "I'm sure you are."

Lucky: "Oh now I get it, you want me to use my bravado to block for you so you can... come right through."
Mancini: "That's right, I knew you were clever Mr Jackson."
Lucky: "Well just a couple or three things wrong with your proposition. I don't work for anybody, I never come second to anybody, and one small thing: I intend to win."
Mancini: "What difference does it make? Unfortunately you are on your way to Los Angeles and I have to work on my car, therefore we have no time for a beautiful girl."
Lucky: "I guess you're right."
Mancini: "You work on my car, I'll work on your girl."

Also in the cast are: William Demarest (Mr. Martin), Nicky Blair (Shorty Fansworth), Roy Engel (Mr. Baker), Francis Ravel (Francois), Robert Willams (Swanson), Jack Carter (himself), Bob Nash (Gus Olson), Forte Four (themselves), Robert Aiken, Holly Bane, Larry Barton, John Burnside, Carl Carlson, Ruth Carlson, Regina Carrol, Taggart Casey, George Cisar, Howard Curtis, Harry Fleer, Alan Fordney, Teri Garr, Barnaby Hale, Claude Hall, John Hart, Connie Hermida, Larry Kent, Lance LeGault, Rick Murray, Kay Sutton, Red West, and many others. Sally Benson wrote the script. George Sidney directed.

VIVA LAS VEGAS is one of the best Elvis Presley movies and the most successful. Between 1961 and 1969 Elvis made 2 or 3 formula movies per year, and most aren't considered very good. Except for JAILHOUSE ROCK (1957), VIVA LAS VEGAS is the only other bona fide Elvis Musical. The songs actually advance the plot, instead of just padding the movie as they do in his other films.

With very few exceptions, songs in Elvis movies are crap compared to his recorded music in the 1950's. This tends to be true for most film musicals, but in Elvis' case I suspect that inferior songs were chosen by manager Colonel Parker in business deals that ripped off songwriters to financially benefit Elvis.

"Viva Las Vegas" is the best song in the movie, and is used several times. When Elvis sings the title song, the entire performance is filmed live in one uncut take. No other major Hollywood musical can make this claim. Soundtrack songs were recorded in July of 1963 at Radio Recorders in Hollywood. Personnel: Elvis Presley (vocals); Ann-Margret (vocals); Scotty Moore, Tiny Timbrell, Billy Strange, Glen Campbell, Alton Hendrickson (guitar); Bob Moore, Ray Siegal (bass); Floyd Cramer, Artie Cane, Calvin Jackson (piano); Oliver Mitchell, James Zito (trumpets); Boots Randolph, William Green, Steve Douglas (sax); Randall Miller, Herb Taylor (trombones); D.J. Fontana, Buddy Harman, Frank Carlson (drums); Roy Hart (percussion; The Jordanaires, The Jubilee Quartet, The Carol Lombard Quartet (background vocals).

The other songs are: "The Lady Loves Me", "What'd I Say?", "I Need Somebody to Lean on Me", "C'mon, Everybody", "Today, Tomorrow, and Forever", "If You Think I Don't Need You", "Yellow Rose of Texas/The Eyes of Texas", and "Santa Lucia". "The Climb" is performed by The Forte Four. Ann-Margret sings "My Rival" and "Appreciation" and duets with Elvis on "The Lady Loves Me". The only recordings released with the film were the theme song and "What'd I Say?" as singles, plus a few songs on an EP. Additional songs recorded for the film would appear in later album compilations, but the complete soundtrack has never been available.

Three songs, "Night Life", "Do The Vega" and "You're The Boss", were recorded for the film but never used. "You're The Boss" is a duet by Elvis and Ann-Margret. Some of the songs were originally Elvis/Ann-Margret duets, but Colonel Parker removed the Ann-Margret tracks because Elvis is the star. The duet versions are now available on CD.

VIVA LAS VEGAS took 11 weeks to shoot. It cost less than $1 million to make, and brought in over $5 million. The working title was "The Only Girl in Town" and in some countries it is called "Love in Las Vegas".

BLUE HAWAII (1961) * * *

Chad Gates (Elvis Presley) returns to Honolulu after his discharge from the army. He is unsure of his future plans but does not want to join the family pineapple business, despite pressure from his mother, Sarah Lee Gates (Angela Lansbury) and father, Fred (Roland Winters). Instead he takes a job as a tour guide and his first assignment is a group of four teenage girls and their teacher, Abigail Prentice (Nancy Walters). One of the girls is quite nasty and manages to have Chad fired. His parents disapprove of his girlfriend, Maile Duval (Joan Blackman), and Chad leaves the house.

Chad tells his parents, "I like my job, mum. It's fun, it's interesting and I meet a lot of nice people." Sarah Lee Gates replies, "Nonsense. Tourists aren't people. They're... they're tourists."..."Chad think of who you are, remember you come from a fine family."
Chad: "I'm sure you'll do enough remembering for both of us."
Sarah: "Oh daddy, what did we do wrong?"
Fred: "Offhand I'd say we got married."

Chad: "Are you always so bored or is it me?
Ellie: "Life is a bore I always say."
Chad: "Oh, always."
Ellie: "I've had 17 years of it."
Chad: "I think you're a mixed-up kid that's too big for her breeches.
Ellie: "I don't wear breeches."
Chad: "You're getting out of here right now, Miss No-Breeches Bardot."
Ellie: "Chad, do you think I'm pretty?"
Chad: "I think you're pretty forward and pretty stupid."
Ellie: "Wouldn't you rather hold me than Abigail?"
Chad: "I'd like to hold you over a barbecue pit. Back to your room!"
Ellie: "I couldn't sleep there."
Chad: "Well you sure can't sleep here. Perhaps you should take a bath. On second thought make that a cold shower."

(Chad gives Maile a bikini]
Maile: "I thank you for thinking of me."
Chad : "Oh I wasn't thinking of you, I was thinking of me. You wanna know something--on you, wet is my favourite colour."
Maile: "My French blood tells me to argue with you and my Hawaiian blood tells me not to mind. They're battling it out in front of me.
Chad: "I've never seen such a beautiful battleground."
Maile: "You're pretty sure of yourself."
Chad: "Isn't it about time?"

Abigail hires Chad to take the group to Kauai. There are many complicated situations involving love and misunderstanding, but eventually Chad and Maile get married with "Hawaiian Wedding Song" ending the movie.

Also in the cast are: Jenny Maxwell (Ellie Corbett). Pamela Austin (Selena "Sandy" Emerson), Darlene Tompkins (Patsy Simon), Christian Kay (Beverly Martin), John Archer (Jack Kelman), Howard McNear (Mr. Chapman), Steve Brodie (Tucker Garvey), Iris Adrian (Enid Garvey), Hilo Hattie (Waihila), Lani Kai (Carl Tanami), George DeNormand (Gen. Anthony), Gregory Gaye (Paul Duval), Clarence Lung (Lonnie), Michael Ross (Lt. Gray), and many others. Writing credits are Allan Weiss and Hal Kanter. Original music is by Joseph J. Lilley. Norman Taurog directed.

BLUE HAWAII is one of Elvis Presley's most successful films. Elvis fans love it, and it also appeals to viewers who enjoy glamorous locations, and beautiful scenery. It's like taking a tropical vacation without the inconvenience and horror of modern airport security.

Much of the film was shot on location at Coco Palm Resort on the east shore of Kauai. Elvis visited the resort often, always staying in cottage 56. The rest was shot on Oahu. Filming began on March 27, 1961 and ended April 17. BLUE HAWAII also marks a distinct transformation in Elvis' personal and public persona. Previously he was a conservative family man groomed as a star. After this film he became a Las Vegas playboy, and his movies degenerated into mostly inferior "Elvis Movie" products with the same formula.

The soundtrack album for BLUE HAWAII spent 20 weeks at 1 on the Billboard Top LP's chart in 1961-1962 and stayed on the charts for 79 weeks. This was Elvis' most commercially successful LP and one of the most successful LPs of all time. It was not surpassed until 1977, with the release of Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors" album. Fourteen songs are on the soundtrack, more than any other Elvis film. "Blue Hawaii" and "Can't help falling in Love" were hit singles and Elvis' schlocky "Rock-A-Hula Baby" sold over a million copies.

Songs were recorded on three-track tape at Radio Recorders in Hollywood from March 21 to 23 in 1961. Personnel: Elvis Presley (vocals); Scotty Moore, Hank Garland, Tiny Timbrell (guitar); Alvino Rey (steel guitar); Fred Tavares, Bernie Lewis (ukelele), George Fields (harmonica); Boots Randolph (saxophone); Floyd Cramer (piano); Dudley Brooks (piano & celeste); Bob Moore (bass); D.J. Fontana, Hal Blaine, Bernie Mattison (drums); plus the Jordanaires and The Surfers (background vocals).

Elvis sings 15 songs. "Blue Hawaii" was originally written for Bing Crosby in 1937 by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger. The nicest song, "Can't Help Falling In Love", was written for the film by George Weiss, Hugo Peretti, and Luigi Creatore. The other songs are: "Hawaiian Sunset", "Hawaiian Wedding Song", "Island Of Love", "Ito Eats", "Ku-u-i-po", "Moonlight Swim", "No More", "Rock-a-Hula Baby", "Slicin' Sand", "Steppin' Out Of Line", "Almost Always True", "Aloha Oe", and "Beach Boy Blues".

GIGI (1958) * * *

Gaston Lachaille (Louis Jourdan) is bored with women and only enjoys the company of Madame Alvarez (Hermione Gingold) and her grand-daughter Gilberte or "Gigi" (Leslie Caron), who is being groomed to become a courtesan. Gaston falls in love with Gigi and receives advice from his uncle Honore Lachaille (Maurice Chevalier), who pursues women without emotional attachment or any intentions of marriage. He says, "In Paris, those who will not marry are usually men, and those who do not marry are usually women." At first Gaston thinks of Gigi as a potential mistress, but eventually they marry.

Gigi: "Four yards of material in the skirt. Well, don't I look great ladyish?"
Gaston: "You look like an organ-grinder's monkey!"
Gigi: "An organ-grinder's monkey?"
Gaston: "What happened to your little Scotch dress? And that ridiculous collar!" Gigi: "And what's wrong with that collar?"
Gaston: "It makes you look like a giraffe with a goiter."
Gigi: "Gaston, I've never heard it said you had any taste in clothes."

GIGI is based on Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette's famous 1945 novella, and takes place in Paris, circa 1900. The movie is a sumptuous extravaganza, exquisitely filmed, with a perfect cast who give excellent performances. It has delightful sets and costumes and was one of the first MGM musicals to be filmed on location (in Paris) and is considered to be the last great MGM musical.

Alicia: "Did you work hard in school today? What did you study?"
Gigi: "History. Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo."
Alicia: "How depressing. What else?"
Gigi: "English."
Alicia: "English? I suppose we must. They refuse to learn French."

The cast also includes: Eva Gabor (Liane d'Exelmans), Jacques Bergerac (Sandomir), Isabel Jeans (Aunt Alicia), John Abbott (Manuel), Maurice Marsac (Prince Berensky), Jean Ozenne (Monsieur Lachaille), Lydia Stevens (Simone), Edwin Jerome (Charles), Roger Saget (Pierre), and many others. Frederick Loewe wrote the music. Alan Jay Lerner wrote the screenplay and Vincente Minnelli directed.

The Lerner and Loewe songs are: "Thank Heaven for Little Girls", "It's a Bore", "The Parisians", "Gossip", "Waltz at Maxim's (She Is Not Thinking of Me)", "The Night They Invented Champagne", "I Remember It Well", "Gaston's Soliloquy", "Gigi", "I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore", and "Say a Prayer for Me Tonight". Lesle Caron's singing is dubbed in by Betty Wand, although "The Night They Invented Champagne" and "The Way You Look Tonight" are available on CD with Caron's singing.

This classic film is one of the best Hollywood musicals, a timeless cultural treasure, charming, memorable, with bright costumes and great atmosphere. But it's a little over-long, talky, with a simple thin plot and there is no dancing or big production numbers. It's unfair to judge a past era with our standards, however raising a little girl to be a courtesan is now politically incorrect. "Paedophilia" and "child abuse" come to mind.

GIGI was nominated for 9 Academy Awards and won all 9: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Music (score), Best Music (song), Best Writing, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction, and Best Cinematography. Maurice Chevalier won a special Oscar.

GIGI (1948), the original version of Colette's story is not a musical, but an amusing comedy of manners. Gigi/Gilberte (Danielle Delorme) is a young girl raised by her aunt and grandmother to be a demimondaine in Paris. When she marries handsome and rich playboy Gaston Lachaille (Frank Villard), she reforms him. The movie is overlong with good local colour, and a very good performance by Delorme. Marcel Landowski wrote the music and Jacqueline Audry directed.


GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES is a delightful musical comedy starring Marilyn Monroe as Lorelei Lee and Jane Russel as Dorothy Shaw.

Lorelei and Dorothy are showgirls from Little Rock who take a luxury ocean liner to Paris, where Lorelei plans to marry rich Gus Esmond (Tommy Noonan). They are stalked by private detective Ernie Malone (Elliot Reid), hired by the father of Gus Esmond to make certain Lorelei is not a gold digger. She certainly is. Dorothy tells Lorelei, "You know I think you're the only girl in the world who can stand on stage with a spotlight in her eye and still see a diamond inside a man's pocket."

Gus Esmond: "Dorothy Shaw. I want you to remember you're supposed to be the chaperone on this trip."
Dorothy Shaw: "Now lets get this straight, Gus. The chaperone's job is to see that nobody else has any fun. Nobody chaperone's the chaperone. That's why I'm so right for this job...In bed by nine? That's when life just begins!"

On the ship Dorothy is mostly interested in the American Olympic Team. Lorelei wants her to marry a rich man, and sets her up with Henry Spofford III (George "Foghorn" Winslow), who turns out to be a rich 7 year-old boy. He is precocious and says to Dorothy, "I'm old enough to appreciate a good looking girl when I see one." Later he tells Lorelei, "You've got a lot of animal magnetism."

Lorelei meets Sir Francis "Piggy" Beekman and Lady Beekman (Charles Coburn and Norma Varden). Piggy owns diamond mines and Lorelei covets Lady Beekman's diamond tiara. Sir Francis Beekman is very attracted to Lorelei and she is attracted to his wealth. Eventually Piggy gives the tiara to Lorelei and this causes major problems for Lorelei and Dorothy.

(Lorelei is holding Lady Beekman's tiara)
Lorelei Lee: "How do you put it around your neck?"
Dorothy Shaw: "You don't, honey, it goes on your head."
Lorelei Lee: "You must think I was born yesterday."
Dorothy Shaw: "Well, sometimes there's just no other possible explanation."
Lady Beekman: "It's a tiara."
Lorelei Lee: "You do wear it on your head. I just love finding new places to wear diamonds."
(later in Paris)
Lady Beekman: "You'll find I mean business."
Dorothy Shaw: "Oh, really? Then why are you wearing that hat?"

The great songs by Leo Robin and Jule Styne from the Broadway show are: "Two Little Girls From Little Rock", "Bye, Bye Baby", and Marilyn Monroe steals the show with "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend". The only song by Marilyn I like better is "My Heart Belongs To Daddy" in LET'S MAKE LOVE (1960). Later Russel sings "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" while impersonating Monroe in court. Her performance is great, but she does not look attractive in a blonde wig.

Hoagy Carmichael and Harold Adamson wrote songs especially for the film: "Ain't There Anyone Here For Love?" and "When Love Goes Wrong, Nothing Goes Right". Eliot Daniel and Lionel Newman wrote "You're In Love". The soundtrack is mono.

Detective Malone ruins Lorelei's marriage engagement, but everything works out fine when Malone and Dorothy fall in love. Lorelei impresses her future father-in-law with her honourable intentions and intelligence. Marilyn Monroe wrote the line: "I can be smart when it's important, but most men don't like it."

Esmond Sr.: "Have you got the nerve to tell me you don't want to marry my son for his money?"
Lorelei: "It's true."
Esmond Sr.: "Then what do you want to marry him for?"
Lorelei: "I want to marry him for your money."
Esmond Sr.: "Say, they told me you were stupid." You certainly don't seem stupid to me."
Lorelei: "I can be smart when I need to be... Don't you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn't marry a girl just because she's pretty, but my goodness, doesn't it help?"

The film ends with the double marriage of Lorelei to Gus, and Dorothy to Ernie Malone. As they walk down the aisle, Dorothy whispers to Lorelei: "Remember, honey, on your wedding day it's alright to say Yes."

Also in the cast are: Taylor Holmes (Mr. Esmond Sr.), Howard Wedell (Watson), Macel Dalio (Magistrate), Steven Geray (Hotel Manager), Henri Letondal (Grotier), Leo Mostovoy (Ship Captain), Alex Frazer (Pritchard), George Davis (Pierre), Harry Carey Jr. (Sims), Ray Montgomery (Peters), Robert Nichols (Evans), James R. Young (Randall), William Cabanne (Winslow), Rolfe Sedan (Francois), Harry Seymour (Louie), and many others. Charles Lederer wrote the screenplay based on the play by Joseph Fields and Anita Loos. Howard Hawks directed.

GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES is an intelligent movie filled with funny gags, silly shenanigans, glamorous costumes, and well staged choreography. The first half is better than the last half. Russel is warm and secure, with down-to-earth razor sharp wit and a better singing voice than Monroe. It's a study in contrasts with the child-like Monroe, who was paid much less than Russel for her work.

I never liked the anachronistic fortune hunter premise of the movie, but film scholars consider GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES as "feminist" and ahead of its time by exploring women's powerlessness in society in a sharp social satire. The wonderful friendship between Lorelei and Dorothy is heart-warming. They were real friends off camera. Russel called Monroe "Blondie" and was the only person who could persuade her to come out of her dressing room onto the movie set.


In 1919, Molly Donahue (Ethel Merman) and Terence Donahue (Dan Dailey) are a vaudeville team that travels a great deal. They have three children, Tim (Donald O'Connor), Steve (Johnnie Ray), and Katy (Mitzi Gaynor), who join their act on stage to sing and dance as The Five Donahues. When the children mature, the popularity of the parents declines.

Molly is concerned about her children: "You start worrying about your kids the day they're born, and you never stop. Even after they bury you, I bet you never stop worrying."..."I want them to have an education... a real education. They have to learn arithmetic and spelling and geography."
Terence: "You never went past the sixth grade... and it was probably the fourth grade, because you said it was the sixth."
Molly: "My age is the only thing I lie about, and I don't add on, I take off."
Terence: "All right, the sixth grade, but there's nothing wrong with your arithmetic. You can whistle 'Mandy', do an 'Off to Buffalo', and count the house at the same time, and tell me within five cents how much is out there."
Molly: "That's not arithmetic."
Terence: "You're darn right that's not... that's higher mathematics."

Tim meets hat check girl Vicky Hoffman (Marilyn Monroe), falls in love, and the family act starts to disintegrate. Molly asks Vicky, "Fit Lew Harris into this picture, will you?" She replies, " Lew did everything for me. Maybe he did have some ideas, that doesn't mean I always agreed with them. There was never anyone for me but Tim." Steve leaves the show to become a priest. Johnny Ray's acting is so bad, leaving the movie would have been preferable. Then Katy meets handsome Charles Biggs (Hugh O'Brian). In the end, the family reunites during a splashy production number finale and sing "There's No Business Like Show Business".

The twenty year history of the family's struggles on and off stage has a thin plot. It is mostly a vehicle for a catalogue of vibrant and rousing Irving Berlin songs. A flamboyant and gaudy musical comedy, it is entertaining, if not inspired. The movie is 20th Century-Fox's first Cinemascope musical and must be watched in the widescreen format. Often the screen is filled with six people side by side, so a pan and scan fullscreen version should be avoided if possible.

Others in the cast include: Richard Eastham (Lew Harris), Frank McHugh (Eddie Duggen), Rhys Williams (Father Dineen), Lee Patrick (Marge), Robin Raymond (Lillian Sawyer), Chick Chandler (Harry), Nolan Leary (Archbishop), Gavin Gordon (Geoffrey), Isabelle Dwan (Sophie Tucker), Charlotte Austin (Lorna), Donald Kerr (Bobbly Clark), and many others. Lamar Trotti, and Henry and Phoebe Ephron wrote the script. Alfred Newman composed the incidental music. Walter Lang directed.

There are 15 Irving Berlin songs. Marilyn Monroe sings "Heat Wave" and "After You Get What You Want You Don't Want It". Ethel Merman sings "Let's Have Another Cup O'Coffee", "When They Play a Simple Melody", "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody", and "There's No Business Like Show Business"--which is also performed by the entire cast. "Lazy" is performed by Monroe, Gaynor, and O'Connor. Dan Dailey Sings "You'd be Surprised". "A Sailor's not a Sailor ('Til a Sailor's Been Tattooed) is sung by Merman and Gaynor. "A Man Chases a Girl (Until She Catches Him)" is sung by Monroe and O'Connor, who also dances. Merman and Dailey sing "When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam", which is later reprised by Gaynor and O'Connor. Johnnie Ray sings "If You Believe". "Alexander's Ragtime Band" is sung by Merman, Dailey, O'Connor, Gaynor, and Ray--and later by the entire cast.

THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS was extremely expensive to make, attracted a large audience, but did not make a profit at the time. The title is taken from the famous song previously used in the musical ANNIE GET YOUR GUN (1950). Most critics don't rate this movie very highly. Marilyn Monroe didn't want to make this film, but agreed when Fox promised her the lead in THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH (1957). Nonetheless, it's one of the best Hollywood musicals, looks great and the music is wonderful in four-track stereo surround sound.

FLESH GORDON (1974) * * *

FLESH GORDON is a soft-core spoof of the 1930's FLASH GORDON serials. Professor Gordon (John Hoyt) informs us that Earth is "in big trouble" because Emperor Wang the Perverted (William Dennis Hunt) of planet Porno has aimed a "Sex Ray" at Earth that causes everybody to become uncontrollably horny.

Football player Flesh Gordon (Jason Williams), girlfriend Dale Ardor (Cindy Hopkins), and scientist Dr. Flexi Jerkoff (Joseph Hudgins) take the Stratos-ship (shaped like a phallus) to Porno to save Earth from Wang and his Sex Ray.

Dr. Flexi Jerkoff asks: "Do you take me for a fool? Do you think I don't know you've come here to steal the plans to my new interstellar hydro-combustion miracle-patented micro-teflon nuclear gamma strato rocketship-grade missile? Which was twenty years in the making. And employs a new updraft design which lifts the ship on small spirals of synthetic strontium pellets."

On Porno they escape Wang's soldiers and retreat into a cave where they are attacked by a Penisaurus. The soldiers take them to Emperor Wang, who sends Dr. Jerkoff to his lab and Flesh into a pit of savage hermaphrodites. He plans to marry Dale. Flesh defeats the hermaphrodites and is rescued by Amoura, Queen of Darkness (Mycle Brandy).

Flesh and Amoura retreat to her space ship, but are blown up by Wang's warship. Only Flesh survives, but the ghost of Amoura appears and gives him her Power Pasties that have the power to fight Wang. Meanwhile, Wang is dressed in a wedding gown preparing to wed Dale. She is kidnapped by the Secret Lesbian Underground led by the Dyke Queen, Chief Nellie (Candy Samples).

Jerkoff: My God, Flesh! They're dykes.
Flesh: Dykes?
Jerkoff: (threatening Chief Nellie's lesbian warriors) Get back there! I've got the Power Pasties, and I know how to use 'em!

Flesh and Dr. Jerkoff rescue Dale and meet Prince Precious (Lance Larsen) of the Forest People, rightful ruler of Porno. Prince Precious says: "I'm Prince Precious, rightful heir to the throne of Porno. Years ago, this planet was a veritable paradise. But Wang, a maniacal botanist whose organ was devoured by a crazed Penis Flytrap, could not tolerate the existence of so much pleasure, and so, banding together an army of the impotent and frustrated, and armed with a small but effective sex ray, plunged my palace into carnal chaos, and took it over."

Using the Power Pasties, Dr. Jerkoff creates a weapon to destroy the Sex Ray, but their space ship crashes. Flesh, Dale, Dr. Jerkoff and Prince Precious go to Castle Wang and are trapped in a giant toilet, the Royal Flush. They swim through a sewer to Wang's throne room. Wang activates his Rapist Robots, but Flesh manages to turn the robots on Wang, who escapes.

There is a great scene in Wang's throne room with many naked men and women running around. One of the men is extremely well endowed, and his monster cock flops and swings around as he runs. Lone Wolf always freeze frames this scene to admire his amazing dick.

Emperor Wang animates a huge monster idol that captures Dale and takes her to the Tower of Murder. Flesh hijacks one of Wang's ships and Dr. Jerkoff shoots the monster with his Power Pastie gun. The monster says, "Ooh, the pain! The humiliation! The hemorrhoids! Nobody burns my ass and gets away with it, Gordon." But the creature falls on Emperor Wang and his Sex Ray, and Earth is saved. Flesh, Dale, and Dr. Jerkoff return to Earth.

This movie is a very delightful comedy, deliberately campy. (The 1930's serial with Buster Crabbe is unintentionally campy.) Jim Danforth's stop motion animation is almost equal to the art of Ray Harryhausen ("7th Voyage of Sinbad", etc.). Danforth created the "Penisaurus" and other strange creatures.

Others in the cast include: Steve Grumette, Nora Wieternik, Judy Ziehm, Leonard Goodman, Donald Lee Harris, Howard Alexander, Jack Rowe, Alan Sinclair, Mark Fore, Annette Anderson, Maria Aronoff, Shannon West, Ric Lutze, Patricia Burns, Sally Alt, Nancy Ayres, Howard Ziehm, Kathryn Foster, Terri Johnson, Pat Hudson, Linda Sheppard, Duane Paulsen, Dee Dee Dailes, Damon Charles, and others. Michael Benveniste wrote the screenplay. Ralph Ferraro composed the music. Michael Benveniste and Howard Ziehm directed.

FLESH GORDON was originally hard-core porn, but police raided and seized the film. The two Directors were forced to view the film in the judge's chambers and all the hard-core footage was removed. It was restored in the late 1990's.


An equally funny sequel to FLASH GORDON was made 15 years after the original. It starts with a movie within the movie, and then Flesh (Vince Murdocco) is kidnapped by the Cosmic Cheerleaders, led by Robunda Hooters (Morgan Fox), because he has a very strong libido and is extremely well endowed, with a bulge in the 12 to 14 inch range. They abduct him by placing a "mindfuck" helmet on his head, then leave Earth in their space ship.

Flesh: If you're holding me for ransom, you're wasting your time. All my friends are broke.
Robunda: We don't want your money, just your virility.

The Cosmic Cheerleaders are the spirit squad for their school's "Codball" team. It's a sports game similar to basketball, and the alien players use their 24 inch cocks as sticks to whack a ball around with their schlongs. But their "cods" go soft and they lose the game. Their erectile dysfunction is caused by an impotence ray used by the Evil Presence (Emperor Wang in disguise).

Dr. Flexi Jerkoff (Tony Travis) and Dale Ardor (Robyn Kelly) leave Earth to rescue Flesh in a space ship that looks like a breast. They become trapped in an ass-teroid field with dozens of flatulent stone asses. To save themselves they fire corks into their sphincters and manage to blow up the ass-teroids. Their ship lands on a planet by using a brassiere-shaped parachute. They find Robunda in a school and rescue Flesh, but the Evil Presence attacks and captures Dale.

Dr. Jerkoff wears an argyle cod piece and he and Flesh fuck chickens to keep their space ship moving, because it runs on sexual energy released by horny chickens. They crash in the middle of a field of grassy breasts, the Mammary Mountains. There they encounter a gay alien in the form of a 30 foot tall cock. It throws a bar of soap to make Flesh bend over and tries to fuck him and then Dr. Jerkoff. "Your ass is mine, sugar britches," it says. They manage to escape by diving into a cave that resembles a vagina, and slide down a sperm-filled tunnel. At the bottom is a Milk Bar where dozens of grown men are dressed as babies, while large-breasted topless women serve them milk drinks. Then the Cosmic Cheerleaders finally catch up to Flesh. Robunda offers a truce and discovers that many of the patrons are members of the missing Codball team.

Dale Ardor has a less enjoyable time. She is frozen inside a huge condom and whisked away in an airship. Then she goes to mad scientist Master Bator's (Bruce Scott) laboratory. Along with cold bitches, dog men, random Pinocchio beatings, and an octopus creature licking her vagina, she is subjected to brainwashing.

Accompanied by Robunda, Flesh and Dr. Jerkoff navigate a five mile long rectum and meet the "Turd People". They are actors dressed in tubular costumes, with brown greasepaint on their faces. There is an entire shit society, even a little kid dressed up as excrement. Musical group Smoky Pile and the Constipations do a show biz routine singing, "I'm a steamer for you baby". Chief Diarrhea (Michael Metcalfe) says the Turds are going to eat Flesh and his companions. Quick thinking by Dr. Jerkoff saves the day: he gives the Turd People some Exlax chewing gum. They all start screaming, "Bowel movement! We gotta move!" and run away. Our heroes escape in a shitty space craft.

William Dennis Hunt reprises his role as Emperor Wang/Evil Presence and plans to have Flesh's monster cock transplanted onto him by Master Bator. Wang has an enormous dick but it is limp from his impotence ray. He says, "I must have that Gordon's organ. When I'm done with him he'll be a dick-less nobody. With Gordon's organ and my sex ray I'll be the only virile man in the universe. I'll change my name to Superstud." His paramour, Queen Frigid (Maureen Webb), is a bad actress and mis-cast.

Robunda: You, as the possessor of the virile force, must make love to the Queen.
Dale: No!
Dr. Jerkoff: Dale--Dale, she's right. It must be done. (aside to Flesh) Rumor has it she's quite a piece.
Flesh: Doc's right, Dale. I'll only stick it in halfway.

Evil Presence: You laugh at the Evil Presence now, woman. But once I get Gordon's sex hammer, you'll beg to be pounded by me.
Queen Frigid: Ha ha ha ha! I kinda doubt it.
Evil Presence: You thought you'd killed me Gordon, but my drive for lust and power is relentless! Your penis and my brain will be a marriage made in Hell!
Flesh: All right penis brain. Let's finish it once and for all.
Evil Presence: Do as I say! It's my fucking planet.

Flesh Gordon and others are taken to the frozen fortress of Queen Frigid and the Evil Presence. Flesh fucks Queen Frigid, so she helps him. He avoids being castrated in the lab and rescues Dale. The Evil Presence reveals himself as Emperor Wang during a fight with Flesh. Wang is defeated and Flesh then returns to Earth in a space ship with Dale and Dr. Jerkoff.

This belated sequel is similar to the original in many ways. It's longer, not quite as good, with scatological toilet humor added. Unlike the original, it is literally original, and does not rely very much on the FLASH GORDON serials for its inspiration. The story is somewhat hard to follow, with a poor sense of pace. It's campy, crude, vulgar, tacky, frantic, juvenile, and cheesy. If you're a fan of big tits and big dicks you may enjoy this sex-comedy sci-fi spoof. You will either love it or hate it. Most viewers hate it, but Lone Wolf loves it.

The cast also includes: Stevie-Lyn Ray (Babs), Sharon Rowley (Candy Love), Blaire Kashino (Sushi), Melissa Mounds (Bazonga Bomber), Sandy Jafferay (Bob Turd), Jayne Smith, Michael Coulter, Neil Grossman, Mitch White, Ian McNeil, David Gregg, Doug Frisby, Murray Brisker, Michael Bafaro, Terrea Smith, Carson Stoddard, Mike LeBlanc, Dean Rivera, Angelica Gordon, Liz Atkinson, Theresa Galbraith, Ronald Burke, Karen Palmer, Lona Thompson, Marty Burtwell, Strawberry Angel, Shannon Keir, Zdenek Juricek, Richard Hendry, Dorothy Wenzel, Jason Koverchuck, Eva Starr, BernieBlighton, Jonas Fairley, Jami Iser, Mike Andreasen, Remco Coessel, Tanjah Iser, J.J. Benjamin, and many others. Original music is by Paul Zaza. The theme song, "The All American Hero" is by Rod Knowlan. "The Hero Always Gets the Girl" is by Bruce Scott and John Hostetter. Howard T. Ziehm and Doug Frisby wrote the script. Howard Ziehm directed.

Both FLESH GORDON movies are best appreciated by those who have seen the original 1930's serials. For instance, Dr. Jerkoff is really Dr. Zarkov. You will not find the movies as funny if you haven't seen FLASH GORDON. If you don't like b & w relics, I recommend FLASH GORDON (1980). It's also deliberately campy, with great production values and an excellent music score by rock band Queen. The cast includes Max von Sydow (Ming the Merciless) and Timothy Dalton. Unfortunately, some of the other actors are mis-cast. And strangely enough, it has been influenced by FLESH GORDON.

QUARK (1978) * * *

QUARK is a space adventure parody and TV sitcom that first aired on NBC May 7, 1977, and was cancelled in April 1978. It was created by Buck Henry (co-creator of GET SMART) and only 8 episodes were produced. The show is a peculiar mix of sci-fi spoof, intellectual jokes, sex, and slapstick comedy. It is witty, sarcastic, bright, and cheesy.

In the year 2222 A.D. Adam Quark (Richard Benjamin) is Commander of the United Galaxies Sanition Patrol Cruiser, whose continuing mission is to clean up garbage floating in outer space, mostly in "space baggies". "Quark" sounds like "Kirk", and he would like important assignments because he is actually skilled and competent, although he always gets into trouble. His garbage scow operates out of United Galaxies Space Station Perma 1, home of Otto Palindrome and The Head. In a "Starnote", Quark records, "We are now orbiting Polumbus, a planet nobody has ever returned from. It could be very crowded down there."

The cast includes:

The Bettys (Cyb and Patricia Barnstable), co-pilots who are identical in every way, because one is a clone of the other. Nobody knows which is the clone and they constantly bicker over who is the real Betty. They tend to speak in unison, have the same thoughts at the same time, and are Quark's love interests. The Barstable twins were once featured in "Doublemint" TV commercials.

Gene/Jean (Tim Thomerson) is a "transmute", a humanoid with male and female chromosomes. He/she is the engineer and vacillates from macho to cowardly and feminine at very inconvenient times. His male half is never around when Quark needs him.

Ficus Pandorata (Richard Kelton) is a Vegeton, a highly-evolved intelligent plant with human appearance. He is logical, unemotional, observant, has difficulty understanding humans, and has a bad sense of timing. Obviously Ficus the science officer is a parody of STAR TREK's Spock. There's no doubt about it when you see Ficus use the Vulcan neck pinch.

Andy (Bobby Porter) is a robot made from spare parts. It is cowardly, neurotic, funny and similar to Marvin the Paranoid Android in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Andy says, "Cowards live longer."

Otto Palindrome (Conrad Janis) is in charge of Perma 1. A tyrannical bureaucrat, cowardly with his superiors, he enjoys giving Commander Quark unpleasant assignments. Conrad Janis is also in MORK AND MINDY.

The Head (Alan Calliou) is a disembodied head with a huge cranium. He is Palindrome's boss but is detached from routine events, cannot tolerate failure, and also enjoys giving Quark strange tasks to perform, usually at the most inconvenient times.

There is also Interface, a four-armed alien female bureaucrat; Ergo, Quark's one-eyed pet blob; and Dink, a small and hairy aide to Palindrome. The villains are the Gorgons. Zoltar the Magnificent is the evil High Gorgon. There is also Zorgan the Malevolent.

In the "Pilot" a deep space phenomenon threatens to destroy the galaxy. Because Quark's ship is the only one in the area, Palindrome and The Head order Quark on a suicide mission to save civilization. Communication can only be done by telegram, and much of the episode is spent with arguments over the cost of telegrams and ways to reduce words to save money. The crew accidentally save the galaxy anyway. There are many scenes of the galactic Interface (Misty Rowe) and her four arms. Ficus was not part of the cast in this episode, and the science officer is Dr. O. B. Mudd (Douglas Fowley), an old one-eyed man. Mudd and Quark build Andy the robot. Mudd never appears or is mentioned again in the series. This episode is a parody of STAR TREK's "The Immunity Syndrome", with a galaxy-eating enzyme. Quark says, "My ancestors were members of a subgroup called Americans. Archaelogical diggings made in the Western and several sections of their country indicate the so-called Americans worshiped and perhaps were governed by a fully clothed English speaking mouse." (First aired Saturday, May 7, 1977)

"May the Source Be with You": Perma 1 is in a state of emergency because Gorgon has created a weapon to destroy the United Galaxy. Palindrome gives "The Source", a secret weapon, to Quark who must believe in it to defeat the Gorgons. He is temporarily blinded by a stray gamma gun blast. The High Gorgon (Henry Silva) says, "People of Spartan, this is the High Gorgon. I command your unconditional surrender. You shall be treated with compassion, honor and patience. You have twenty seconds before I blow you out of the galaxy." (First aired Friday, February 24, 1978)

"The Old and the Beautiful": Quark is given an "extended romantic interlude" with Princess Carna of Kamamor (Barbara Rhoades). He says, "Emotionally I won't feel a thing. It's strictly a mission." In this spoof of STAR TREK's "The Deadly Years" problems develop when he encounters a space baggy contaminated with a virus that ages him 2 years every hour. Quark asks, "I want to know why I came out of that hatch ten years older than when I went down." (First aired Friday, March 3, 1978)

"The Good, the Bad and the Ficus": The garbage scow is accidentally pulled into a black hole, splitting the crew into good and evil counterparts. Ficus is immune and remains the same because "there are no good or evil plants, there are just plants". Quark confronts his evil self on an asteroid, defeats himself, and sends the evil counterparts back through the black hole. This is a parody of STAR TREK episode "The Enemy Within". The evil Quark says, "Keep your deflectors up do-gooder! You haven't seen the last of this face." (First aired Friday, March 10, 1978)

"Goodbye Polumbus": Quark and his crew are sent to planet Polumbus to discover why no one has returned alive. Just as in STAR TREK's "Shore Leave" they imagine things because of the Gorgons. Quark meets a beautiful woman (Mindi Miller), Ficus encounters a teacher (Maggie Sullivan), The Betty's meet duplicates of Quark, and Gene/Jean encounters Zoltar the Magnificent (Denny Miller). To survive Quark must destroy an obilisk and liberate the Polumbian "clay people". Quark says to Freddy Astro, "Of course I remember your dad. I baby-sat for you when you were ten feet tall. That's a long time ago. My goodness, you really shortened well." (First aired Friday, March 17, 1978)

"All the Emperor's Quasi-Norms (1)": Quark's crew encounter a Gorgon battle ship and are captured by Zorgon the Malevolent (Ross Martin), who wants to know what "it" is and where to find "it". His costume is reminiscent of FLASH GORDON. Zorgon's daughter, Princess Libido (Joan Van Ark), falls in love with Ficus, who teaches her to "pollinate"--which is how plants make love. Ficus says, "As a Vegeton I remain cool and crisp even while being crushed by walls." Andy the robot and Gene/Jean escape and disguise themselves as Gorgon scientists. Gene/Jean is asked for a lecture on "it". The Betty's are held hostage and Quark guesses what "it" is. (First aired Friday, March 24, 1978)

"All the Emperor's Quasi-Norms (2)": Ficus marries Princess Libido to save the crew. Quark and the Betty's are sent to a planet to be eaten by lizard god Lizgoth, but are saved by the The Baron of the Forest People (Bruce M. Fisher). Baron's people think Quark is "The Stranger" meant to defeat their oppressors. Gene/Jean says, "Andy, that's shit." on prime time national television. "It" is a piece of quartz. Quark is saved by Ficus and returns to the Zorgon ship to say good-bye to him. (First aired Friday, March 31, 1978)

"Vanessa 38-24-36": As a gift for Holiday Number 11, Palindrome gives Quark a new ship computer named Vanessa, which takes complete control of the spaceship. The computer is as crazy as Hal 9000 in 2001. Vanessa attempts to destroy Quark and the crew to prove its superiority. Quark disables Vanessa and throws it out the garbage hatch. Vanessa drifts through space singing "Born Free". (First aired Friday, April 7, 1978)

It is a shame that this very funny, intelligently written and well-produced spoof was cancelled with only 8 episodes. It satirizes sci-fi classics such as STAR WARS, 2001, FLASH GORDON, and three episodes are direct satires of the STAR TREK TV series. Some reviewers claim there are 9 episodes. They are in the minority, and it is probably because the "Source" is an hour in length and the other episodes are 30 minutes. Some fans believe that QUARK was canceled because of electrical power outages in the American midwest during the worst ice storm in US history. The resulting drop in ratings killed the show.

Science Fiction fans must see QUARK. For over a decade I watched videotape copies of Kentucky TV broadcasts from the 1980's. Now it is available on DVD. The picture quality is excellent and I notice details that I never saw before. It's like watching it for the first time.

SPACE: 1999 (1975-1979) * * 2/3

At the end of the 20th century, Earth dumps its nuclear waste on the dark side of the Moon. Due to magnetic interference, on September 13, 1999 there is an accidental explosion that sends the Moon out of orbit and far into deep space. Moonbase Alpha, a scientific research colony of 311 men and women is taken along. Isaac Asimov and other science writers have expressed their astonishment at this silly, extremely unlikely scenario.

Commander John Koenig (Martin Landau) is the leader of Moonbase Alpha. Dr. Helena Russel (Barbara Bain) is head of Medical Section, and Professor Victor Bergman (Barry Morse) is science advisor. During their interstellar journey, the Alphans encounter alien societies and civilizations as well as strange phenomena. John Koenig says, "We've had a lot of success so far. We know what dangers to expect out there from black suns, neutron storms, radiation and the like, but if we think we know everything that goes on out there, we're making a terrible mistake."

John Koenig: "We're all aliens, until we get to know one another."
Lee Russel: "Nobody dies. Matter never dies, Helena. It changes its form."
Maya: "You mean, people killed people, just because they were different from each other? That's disgusting."

SPACE: 1999 has some similarities to STAR TREK, except it tends to be less entertaining. The characters rarely interact very well, and this includes Landau and Bain who were married in real life, and they're emotionally flat. Stories are frequently incomprehensible nonsense masquerading as profound statements or symbolism.

This British sci-fi TV show was produced by Sylvia and Gerry Anderson. Because the ratings were low in the first season, producer Fred Freiberger replaced them for the second season. Freiberger is infamous for producing the third season of STAR TREK, which is considered to be the worst.

Many changes were made for the second season. Professor Bergman departed and was replaced with Maya (Catherine Schell), a shapeshifting alien. There were many other cast changes that were never explained on-screen. Freiberger emphasized action and adventure, as well as improving the character interaction and friendly liveliness. He turned it into a different show. It was too much, too late.

Freiberger also replaced the wonderful opening credit introduction and its great theme music by Barry Gray with an inferior one with music by Derek Wadsworth. One guy on the internet rated SPACE: 1999 as his # 2 favorite TV show "Opening" and wrote, "We are ignoring the hideous second season opening, just as we ignore the hideous second season." He has a point, for syndication broadcasts are mostly from the first season.

Professor Victor Bergman's last message before evacuating Alpha: "We are Mankind. We came from planet Earth, and we built this base, called Alpha, to learn more about space. But human error blasted this Moon out of the Earth's orbit. And so, we have traveled the Universe searching for a place to live. Now, we can no longer live here, and we go to face an uncertain future on the planet that has nearly destroyed us. You, whoever you are, who find this empty vessel of Alpha, come and seek us out, if we still exist. Come and teach us all you know. Because, we have learned many things, but most of all, we have learned we still have much to learn."

The cast from both seasons also includes: Tony Anholt (Tony Verdeschi), Nick Tate (Alan Carter), Zienia Merton (Sandra Benes), Prentis Hancock (Paul Morrow), Clifton Jones (David Kano), Anton Phillips (Dr. Bob Mathias), John Hug (Bill Fraser), Yasuko Nagazumi (Yasko), Alibe Parsons (Alibe), Jeffrey Kissoon (Dr. Ben Vincent), and Sam Dastor (Dr. Ed Spencer). Guest appearances include: Christopher Lee, Joan Collins, Peter Cushing, Ian McShane, and Brian Blessed.

SPACE: 1999 premiered in 1975, although the first episode had been filmed in 1973. There are 48 episodes, with a running time of 52 minutes. Four feature films were created from the series. DESTINATION: MOONBASE ALPHA (1978) is derived from the two-part episode, "Bringers of Wonder". ALIEN ATTACK (1979) was made from the pilot "Breakaway", "War Games", and new footage. JOURNEY THROUGH THE BLACK SUN (1982) combined "Collision Course" and "Black Sun". COSMIC PRINCESS (1982) combined "The Metamorph" with "Space Warp". For Italy only, SPAZIO: 1999 (1976) was made from "Breakaway", "Ring Around The Moon", and "Another Time, Another Place".

With an original look and style, the series has excellent special effects, a unique set, good costumes, and many well designed scale models such as "Eagle", a space shuttle. The shows are required viewing for sci-fi fans. It's somewhat boring and serious, as space travel can be, and it's not as good as STAR TREK, but it is superior to BATTLESTAR: GALLACTICA and BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY.

MIKE MYERS SNL (2003) * * *

Saturday Night Live "The Best of Mike Myers" is one of the best SNL compilations and one of the longest (84 minutes). The Eddie Murphy, John Belushi, and Gilda Radner "Best of" videos are better, but most are not. Chris Rock is OK, Molly Shannon is somewhat disappointing, but Dana Carvey is great. The most entertaining are the SNL "Best of" collections by year(s)--with the entire cast. SNL25 (1999) is quite good.

Comedian, actor, writer, and producer Mike Myers is a very funny man. After graduating from SNL he made two WAYNE'S WORLD movies (1992/1993) with Dana Carvey about two party dudes with their own cable TV show. The first was a hit, but the second, about organizing a Waynestock music festival, didn't do as well at the box-office.

His next movie, SO I MARRIED AN AXE MURDERER (1993) was not very successful. Myers mostly played himself and he has no charisma. I found his character boring. The highlight was his impersonation of his Scottish father. Myers is great at inventing humourous characters.

Most comics start off doing some impersonations of famous celebrities and their own creations. They tend to be devastatingly brilliant at it and it makes them stars. Yet they all aspire to be "original" and just play themselves. Myers apparently cannot take this route, because his own personality comes off like a boring version of Martin Short--who should have stuck with his hilarious impersonations as well.

In 1997 Myers unleashed AUSTIN POWERS, about a swinging 60's spy, followed by two sequels. They are the funniest movies released in many years. Mike Myers plays characters he has invented, such as Dr. Evil and Fat Bastard. Let's hope he doesn't try to play himself again.

The SNL "Best of" MIKE MYERS has too many skits available on other SNL compilations, but I suppose it's good to have them all on one video.

Myers plays Linda Richman on "Coffee Talk" and the real Barbara Streisand drops in. "Wayne's World" has Aerosmith and also Madonna as guests. Dieter on "Sprockets" is a hoot. It's too bad the film version of "Sprockets" was abandoned because Myers was dissatisfied with his own script.

Dieter: "Would you like to touch my monkey?"
Guest: "I would be honored to."
Dieter: "Touch him! Love him! Liebe meine abschmenkee!" (Guest shakes hands with monkey)
Dieter: "Now I am as happy as a little girl."

Other skits included are: Hedly and Wyche, Philip, Theatre Stories, Middle-Aged Man, RAF Hospital, Lothar of the Hill People, and the Tokyo Game Show.

The best skit is "Point/Counterpoint". Myers does a great impersonation of Mick Jagger and the real Mick Jagger does a funny impression of Keith Richards.

AUSTIN POWERS: International Man of Mystery (1997) * * *

It's 1967, the Summer of Love in the groovy 1960's. Austin Powers (Mike Myers) a Carnaby Street swinger and British secret agent is trying to capture Dr. Evil (Myers again), a villain similar to those in the 007 movies. Dr. Evil goes into cryostasis to escape into the future and Austin Powers does the same.

In 1997, Austin is unfrozen and paired with agent Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley). Austin's possessions are returned to him by the Quartermaster Clerk (Neil Mullarkey), including a penis vacuum pump that Austin claims is not his. The clerk displays, "One Warranty card for a Swedish-made penis enlarger pump, filled out by Austin Powers." Austin protests, "I don't even know what that is. This sort of thing ain't my bag, baby." The clerk hands him a book, "Swedish-made Penis Enlargers and Me: This Sort of Thing Is My Bag, Baby" by Austin Powers.

Much has changed in 30 years, including advances in cosmetic dentistry, and Austin has his discoloured snaggled teeth fixed. It is very observant of Mike Myers to comment on the bad teeth of many 1960's British movie stars. Take a look at Patrick McGoohan's choppers the next time you watch THE PRISONER. Perhaps that is why England is notorious as the land of bad teeth.

Dr. Evil has also thawed out and meets with his henchmen. Mustafa (Will Ferrell) is incinerated and shot for no good reason. Number 2 (Robert Wagner) suggests they hijack a nuclear warhead and hold the world hostage. Dr. Evil meets his Gen-X son Scott Evil (Seth Green), who wants more quality time and less world conquest. Frau Farbissina (Mindy Sterling) reveals a new secret weapon: "Fembot" android models that have guns implanted in their breasts. Dr. Evil and Scott attend a group family therapy session.

Austin and Vanessa jet to Las Vegas to find Dr. Evil. At a blackjack game they find him, Number 2, and Alotta Fagina (Fabiana Udenio). Eventually Austin and Vanessa are captured and threatened with "ill-tempered mutated sea bass", because sharks are on the endangered species list. Our heroes escape with dental floss, blind the guard with toothpaste, and the British army raids the headquarters. Austin defeats the Fembots.

Vanessa: "Look, I know I'm being neurotic, but I can't shake off this suspicious feeling about Miss Fagina..."
Austin: "No, don't be sorry, baby. You're right to be suspicious. I shagged her."
Vanessa: "What?
Austin: "I shagged her rotten, baby, yeah!"
Vanessa: "Did you use protection?"
Austin: "Of course. I had my 9mm automatic."
Vanessa: "You know I meant, did you use a condom?"
Austin: "No, only sailors wear condoms, baby."
Vanessa: "Not in the '90s Austin."
Austin: "Well they should, those filthy buggers. They go from port to port."

Dr. Evil is located, and Austin stops his doomsday device. Vanessa is being held hostage by Alotta Fagina, which allows Dr. Evil to start a self-destruct sequence and retreat into outer space. Austin and Vanessa escape and get married.

AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY is a hilarious spoof and parody of 1960's spy films featuring James Bond, Derek Flint, and Matt Helm. It is the funniest movie in many years that goes very far on a one-joke premise. There is too much repugnant toilet humour, but you'll just have to get used to it, baby. "Behave." This movie is fabulous, truly shagadelic. AUSTIN POWERS cost $16.5 million to produce, made $68 million at the box office, and was a financial goldmine on home video and cable TV.

Others in the cast include: Michael York (Basil Exposition), Mimi Rogers (Mrs. Kensington), Paul Dillon (Patty O'Brien), Charles Napier (Commander Gilmour), Mark Bringleson (Andy Warhol), Clint Howard (Johnson Ritter), Elya Baskin (General Borschevsky), Carlton Lee Russel (Gary Coleman), Daniel Weaver (Vanilla Ice), Joe Son (Random Task), Kaye Wade (Mrs. Exposition), Patrick Bristow (Bolton), Burt Bacharach (himself), Susanna Hoffs (Ming Tea), Hannah Kozak (Rita), Ben Scott (Jurgen), John-Clay Scott (Don Luigi), and many others. Mike Myers wrote the script. Music was composed by George S. Clinton. Jay Roach directed.

AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME (1999) is the first sequel. Dr. Evil travels back to 1969 to steal Austin's mojo with the help of Fat Bastard (Mike Myers again). Mini-Me (Verne Troyer) is Dr. Evil's tiny clone. Most of the characters from the original reprise their roles and this time Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham) is Austin's love interest. It turns out that Vanessa Kensington was actually a Fembot, an object Austin destroys. This movie is just as good, with more of the same (including a few of the same jokes), but not as fresh. It was written by Mike Myers and Michael MCullers. Music is by George S. Clinton and Quincy Jones. Jay Roach directed again. The film grossed $310,000,000 and made more money during its opening weekend than the entire box office receipts of the original.

GOLDMEMBER (2002) is the third entry, a little better than the second perhaps. Sir Austin Danger Powers travels back to the 1975 Disco era to defeat Goldmember (Myers again) who is working with Dr. Evil. There is a cute self-parody film at the beginning called "Austinpussy" with Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito and Steven Spielberg. This time Nigel Powers (Michael Caine) is Austin's neglectful father. Dr. Evil plans to use a tractor beam called "Preparation H" to pull a meteor to the polar icecaps and flood Earth. Detective Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles) helps Austin defeat the villains, Fat Bastard goes on a diet, and Dr. Evil is revealed to be Austin's brother. There are many cameos, more gross out humour, and let's hope there are more Austin Powers movies to come. The writing, musical and direction credits are the same as the first sequel. GOLDMEMBER grossed over $288,000,000.

THE AVENGERS (1961-1969) * * *

THE AVENGERS debuted on British TV January 7, 1961 as a spin-off of "Police Surgeon". John Wickham Gascone Berresford Steed (Patrick Macnee) and Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry) star as a crime-fighting duo. They are sophisticated equals, serious and confident, with an offbeat and subtle tongue-in-cheek approach. Steed is a charming and witty secret agent and Ian Hendry...quit the series during a BBC strike. Only 2 episodes survive along with the first 22 minutes of the premiere episode.

The next incarnation of AVENGERS includes nightclub singer Venus Smith (Julie Stevens) for 6 episodes. Steed's third partner is Dr. Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman), an anthropologist. She is a beautiful widow, cool and in control, and wears practical leather outfits. Steed's wardrobe is stylish Edwardian. They are equals. After 52 black & white episodes on videotape, Blackman left the series for movies, most notably as "Pussy Galore" in GOLDFINGER (1964).

In October 1965 Mrs. Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) became Steed's new partner. Emma Peel's name is derived from "M Appeal" or "Man Appeal". The series switched from video to film, and the 26 b & w and 24 colour episodes are considered to be the classic AVENGERS shows, the best.

Emma Peel is a sexy, independent, wealthy widow, with fast reflexes for Kung Fu fights she invariably wins. Nobody looks better in black leather than Emma Peel. Both she and Steed live sophisticated lifestyles, constantly drink far too much alcohol with no effect, and respect each other. During their adventures they are a romantic couple with perfect chemistry, yet we never learn if they have a sexual liaison.

John Steed: "There isn't a body."
Emma Peel: "There's no body?"
John Steed: "There's no body."
Emma Peel: "There's always a body!"

John Steed: "Mrs. Peel, we're needed."
(Emma is admiring an antique bed)
Emma Peel: "I've always rather fancied myself in one of these."
John Steed: "So have I... I mean, I have too."
Emma Peel: "You know my wavelength."
John Steed: "I do indeed."
Emma Peel: "Would you like a drink?"
John Steed: "Intravenously!"
(Emma is bouncing on a trampoline)
John Steed: "Look, do you mind? It's like watching a game of perpendicular tennis."
(Steed is magnetically attached to his car, Emma tries to help and becomes attached to him)
John Steed: "Don't fight it Mrs. Peel. We're inseparable."
(picking up Emma, who is injured)
John Steed: "Lean on me, Mistress Peel, as much as you like."

By 1966 THE AVENGERS had become an international hit. However, Diana Rigg left the series at the height of its success in 1967.

Enter Tara King (Linda Thorson) for 32 episodes. The relationship with John Steed is changed, because Tara comes from the government espionage service, is much younger, and is Steed's student rather than his equal. She admires him, but there is some conflict and tension. And THE AVENGERS degenerates into outdated spy antics, campy sets, and copies itself and its imitators.

THE NEW AVENGERS (1976-1977) stars Patrick Macnee as John Steed, Gareth Hunt as Mike Gambit, and Joanna Lumley as Purdey. The trio work for a vague arm of British Intelligence. The youngsters do most of the work and look up to Steed for guidance. We learn more about Steed's past in the 26 episodes.

THE NEW AVENGERS IN CANADA is the name of the last 4 episodes of THE NEW AVENGERS. It was filmed in Toronto, and I love watching the old footage of my home town--which is not disguised as an American city as it is in countless movies and TV shows.

Laurie Johnson composed the theme music for THE AVENGERS. The classic series has lovely orchestral music with a memorable melody. THE NEW AVENGERS' theme is aggressive and not as good.

THE AVENGERS (1998) is the inferior movie version. Ralph Fiennes is miscast as John Steed, Uma Thurman is OK as Emma Peel, and Sean Connery is good as Sir August de Wynter--the villain who tries to control the Earth's weather. Patrick Macnee has an amusing voice only cameo.

THE PRISONER (1967) * * *

Number Six (Patrick McGoohan) is a former British secret agent who resigned in anger over an unstated "matter of principle". He says, "I will not make any deals with you. I've resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own. I resign."

Immediately afterwards he is kidnapped and taken to The Village, a mysterious seaside prison that looks like an innocent resort town. His captors want information about why he resigned. The Village chairman is called Number Two, and the role is played by a different person in almost every episode. Number Six wants to know which side The Village is on, where it is located, and who is Number One. Each episode opens the same:

Number 6: "Where am I?"
Number 2: "In the Village."
Number 6: "What do you want?"
Number 2: "We want information."
Number 6: "Whose side are you on?"
Number 2: "That would be telling. We want information... information... information."
Number 6: "You won't get it."
Number 2: "By hook or by crook, we will."
Number 6: "Who are you?"
Number 2: "The new Number 2."
Number 6: "Who is Number 1?"
Number 2: "You are Number 6."
Number 6: "I am not a number, I am a free man."

At first Number Six concentrates on escaping and says, "I'm going to escape, come back, wipe this place off the face of the Earth, obliterate it and you with it." Because of the security system that includes huge rubber spheres (Rovers) that patrol The Village this proves impossible. Next he tries to gain knowledge about his captors, then tries to undermine the authority of Number Two. Most neighbours in the Orwellian community are generally complacent. Number Six is determined to be independent and trust nobody.

Plots range from assassination attempts, to recovering secret formulas, to ferreting out double agents. Symbolism is important and in some episodes the stories can only function on that level. Examples are: "Free For All", "Dance of the Dead", and the final two episodes. Everything is designed for the viewer to figure out the significance, and the show holds up very well under intense scrutiny. There is endless speculation on the meaning of THE PRISONER.

Seventeen episodes were produced in colour with a runtime of 52 minutes and a mono soundtrack. THE PRISONER was first broadcast on British TV on October 1, 1967 and in the US on June 1, 1968. The "40th Anniversary Collector's Edition" DVD has all episodes plus a "lost" version of "The Chimes of Big Ben", along with rare original footage of the 1966 location shooting, "The Prisoner Video Companion", original trailers, and other rare stuff.

Patrick McGoohan's role is almost identical to his secret agent "John Drake" role in the SECRET AGENT/DANGER MAN (1960-1962, 1964-1968) TV series. In fact, many of THE PRISONER episodes could have been used on SECRET AGENT virtually unchanged. McGoohan is a charismatic actor, who like many others turned down an offer to play James Bond. Ironically, he was tired of playing spy John Drake, so he switched to ex-spy Number Six.

THE PRISONER is a great show, intelligent, challenging, and original--but it's strangely psychedelic because it was produced in the late 1960's. Sometimes it almost seems McGoohan was on LSD when he created some hallucinatory sequences. There is speculation about it being subversive. As a well made espionage adventure, it functions perfectly on that level. But it has a cult following of intellectual types who are attracted to its pretentious and ambiguous allegories. It is existential and asks more questions than it answers. The show was sold as a spy thriller, but it has 60's counter-culture themes and it is also a sci-fi fantasy. There was a controversy when it first aired because of the bizarre, surreal ending.

Others in the cast include: Peter Swanick (Supervisor), Leo McKern (Number Two), Patrick Cargill (Number Two), Kenneth Griffith (Schnipps), Colin Gordon (Number Two), Bee Duffell (psychiatrist), John Maxim (Number Eighty Six), and many others. The series was written by Patrick McGoohan, George Markstein, David Tomblin, Anthony Skene, Terence Feely, and Vincent Tilsley. Music was composed by Ron Grainer, Albert Elms, Wilfred Josephs, Jack Beaver, and Robert Farnon. The theme music was created by McGoohan, who hummed it to Grainer. Direction was by Patrick McGoohan, Pat Jackson, Don Chaffey, and David Tomblin. THE PRISONER was created by George Markstein and Patrick McGoohan.

In "Many Happy Returns" we learn that The Village is located on an island somewhere near the coast of Morocco, then in the last episode we learn it is located in Wales. Scenes of The Village were filmed at Portmeirion, an eccentric village resort in Wales. Number Six finally learns the identity of Number One. Each time he asks the response is "You are Number Six". The correct interpretation is, "You are, Number Six."

DR. NO (1962) * * *

Ian Fleming's sixth 007 novel, "Doctor No" (1958) was made into the first James Bond movie. DR. NO is a toned down version of the book, and it started the 1960's spy craze. It is one of the best 007 superspy thrillers, with good production values, non-stop action, sex, violence, high-tech hardware, expensive sets, exotic locations, and tongue-in-cheek humour. The film has as many similarities to the source book as it has differences.

British agent John Strangways (Tim Moxon) is murdered and a file marked "Dr. No" is stolen from his home. James Bond (Sean Connery) is sent by M (Bernard Lee) to Jamaica to investigate. He is armed with a Walther PPK to replace his Beretta M1934. After a few attempts on his life, 007 discovers that Dr. Julius No (Joseph Wiseman) is sabotaging American missile launchings from his hideout. Bond meets Felix Leiter (Jack Lord) of the CIA, and beautiful Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress), as well as many others who try to kill him.

Honey: "I put a black widow spider underneath his mosquito net... a female, they're the worst. It took him a whole week to die."
(Bond looks shocked)
Honey: "Did I do wrong?"
Bond: "Well, it wouldn't do to make a habit of it."

Dr. No is part of SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) and Ernst Stavro Blofeld is its leader. James Bond and Dr. No have a fight on a platform above a nuclear reactor. Dr. No, even with his prosthetic hands, is no match for 007, who destroys him near the end of the film. Bond escapes and makes love to Honey Ryder on a raft.

Ursula Andress is the first and most sexy of the "Bond girls". Her voice is dubbed in throughout the movie. Wiseman is the only early Bond villain whose voice is not dubbed in. Originally Ian Fleming wanted Noel Coward to play Dr. No. Coward responded, "Dr. No? No. No. No."

DR. NO introduced many features associated with the 007 movies: the James Bond music theme, the gunbarrel sequence, "Bond girls", exotic settings, narrow escapes, SPECTRE, ambitious villains, sexual innuendos, and Bond's taste for champagne and vodka martinis "shaken, not stirred". This movie is straightforward, economical, tightly paced, and not padded with stunt sequences. It is superior to most 007 movies.

Sean Connery has arachnophobia, a morbid fear of spiders, so the tarantula scene was filmed mostly with stuntmen--who were also frightened by the spider. James Bond's 007 prefix and code name has a meaning: the "00" means "license to kill" and "7" is the number of the agent who has the license to kill. Ian Fleming wrote 12 novels and 9 short stories featuring James Bond, secret agent 007.

Also in the cast are: Zena Marshall (Miss Taro), John Kitzmiller (Quarrel), Eunice Gayson (Sylvia Trench), Lois Maxwell (Miss Moneypenny), Peter Burton (Major Boothroyd), Yvonne Shima (Sister Lily), Michel Mok (Sister Rose), Marguerite LeWars (Photographer), Dolores Kator (Mary), Reggie Carter (Jones) Lois Blaazer (Pleydell-Smith), Colonel Burton (General Potter), and many others. The script was written by Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood, Berkely Mather, and Terence Young. Terence Young directed.

The jazzy incidental music was composed by Monty Norman and John Barry. As well, there are three good Calypso songs: "Under the Mango Tree", "Jump Up Jamaica", and "Three Blind Mice".

DR. NO is much less flamboyant than its successors and is the only 007 movie without a pre-credits sequence. Cary Grant, David Niven, James Mason, Steve Reeves, Patrick McGoohan, Roger Moore, and others were first offered the part, but fortunately for us they declined. Sean Connery is the coolest James Bond.

ZARDOZ (1974) * * *

Sean Connery and Charlotte Rampling star in this cult sci-fi parable. In 2293 AD Earth is a wasteland with masses of savage Brutals ruled by Exterminators such as Zed (Connery) who is commanded by the mysterious god Zardoz.

There are three classes on Earth: the Brutals, the Exterminators, and the Eternals. The latter are immortal, remote intellectuals who are very bored and their technology is running wild. They live apart in various civilized "Vortices". Brutals live in a primitive wasteland. The only contact between the two groups are the Exterminators who harass and kill the Brutals at the command of a huge flying stone head of the god Zardoz.

Zardoz (Niall Buggy) explains as the film starts: "I am Arthur Frayn, and I am Zardoz. I have lived 300 years, and long to die. But death is no longer possible, I am immortal. I present now my story - full of mystery and intrigue. Rich in irony, and most satirical. It is set deep within a possible future, so none of these events have yet occurred. But they may! Be warned, lest you end as I. In this tale I am a fake god by occupation, and a magician by inclination. Merlin is my hero! I am the puppet master. I manipulate many of the characters and events you will see. But I am invented too for your entertainment and amusement. And you, poor creatures, who conjured you out of the clay? Is God in showbusiness too?" Later Zardoz proclaims: "The gun is good. The penis is evil. The penis shoots seeds, and makes new life to poison the earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the gun shoots death, and purifies the earth of the filth of Brutals. Go forth...and kill!"

Zed: "I want the truth."
May: "You must give the truth, if you wish to receive it."
Zed: "I'm ready."
May: "It'll burn you!"
Zed: "Then burn me"

Zed rides around in the Zardoz head, but most of the time runs around in red diapers. He penetrates a Vortex, is captured, studied, and put to work as a laborer. Eventually Zed learns the nature of the Vortex and destroys the Tabernacle that provides immortality. The Vortex is invaded by other Exterminators who kill most of the Eternals. A few escape and educate the Brutals about civilization. Zed and Consuella (Charlotte Rampling) have a child, grow old, then die with Beethoven's 7th Symphony playing in the background.

This pretentiously intellectual film has a muddled plot and is difficult to fathom, even after repeated viewings. For example, it took me about 20 years and many viewings to discover that "Zardoz" is a corruption of "Wizard of Oz".

ZARDOZ is a visual treat, wonderfully fatuous, with some sex and violence. Critics don't like it much and call it a "trash pile" and a "pompous, boring fantasy for the so-called intelligentsia". I like it because it's sci-fi, Connery is very good, and the plot is so incomprehensible that I can watch it over and over again. Yes, I enjoy incoherent, puzzling movies such as DUNE.

Due to budget constraints, most of the Brutals had their feet painted red instead of wearing red boots. You don't notice. This reminds me of the "making of" LORD OF THE RINGS where I learned the Hobbits spent an hour each day having their feet done by make-up artists. I never noticed their feet in the movies.

Others in the cast include: Sara Kestelman (May), Sally Anne Newton (Avalow), Bosco Hogan (George Saden), Jessica Swift (Apathetic), Bairbre Dowling, Christopher Casson, Reginald Jarman, Daisy Boorman, Katrine Boorman, Telsche Boorman, and many others. Original music is by David Munrow. John Boorman wrote the script, produced and directed the film

Burt Reynolds turned down the part of Zed due to illness. Director John Boorman said Connery found it incredibly difficult to find work after he abandoned the 007 movies for the second time after DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971). Boorman was able to hire Connery very cheaply for the role.

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