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

Saturday, August 30, 2008

7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958) * * *











Evil magician Sokurah (Torin Thatcher) has reduced Princess Parisa of Chandra (Kathryn Grant) to 6" miniature size. Sinbad (Kerwin Mathews), legendary sailor of the 1001 Arabian Night tales, travels to the island of Colossa to obtain an egg from a giant two-headed bird called a Roc to restore the lovely princess to normal size. Sinbad says, "Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel." The ship's crew is a group of hardened criminals from the Caliph's (Alec Mango) prison.

Sinbad: "May Allah grant we find food and water."
Harufa: "And may Allah grant we find nothing else."

Captain Sinbad battles a man-eating Cyclops, a dragon, and a skeleton. These monstrous adversaries were created by Ray Harryhausen with Dynamation stop-motion. They are among his best creations, although his very best is the battle with a multitude of skeletons in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963). This film is Harryhausen's first in colour, and the animation process was more difficult than with his b & w movies. It took Ray 11 months to complete the Dynamation sequences.

The princess spends much of her time in a tiny traveling compartment and a magic lamp with the boy genie Baronni (Richard Eyer). To summon the genie, the magical incantation is: "From the land beyond, beyond. From the sea past hope and fear. I bid you genie now appear." Sinbad heroically manages to restore Parisa to normal size, and they live happily ever after, with Baronni as their cabin boy.

Sinbad: "Well done, Baronni. I know you will be as good a sailor as you are a genie."
Baronni: "I shall try, Captain. I shall try."

This excellent fast paced adventure/fantasy is the first of the Sinbad trilogy, a true classic that is suitable for children, families and everybody who enjoys great movies. However, some of the acting is stilted, and there are a few noticeable continuity problems. The romantic dialogue is sometimes poor. Sinbad tells Parisa, "For another such kiss, I'd invent a whole continent." The palace of the Caliph was filmed at the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. Production budget was $650,000 and the film was a huge box office success.

Also in the cast are: Danny Green (Karim), Alfred Brown (Harufa), Nana DeHerrera (Sadi), Nino Falanga (Gaunt Sailor), Luis Guedes (Crewmember), Virgilio Teixeira (Ali), and others. Alfred Brown's lines are dubbed in. The writing credits are Ray Harryhausen and Ken Kolb. Bernard Herrman composed the rousing music score. Nathan Juran directed.

THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1974) is similar and just as good. SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER (1977) is also similar, but not nearly as good.

JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963) * * *








Jason (Todd Armstrong) is the son of the King of Thessaly in ancient Greece. Pelias (Douglas Wilmer) kills his father and usurps the throne. Jason's life is spared through the intervention of the goddess Hera (Honor Blackman) who helps him throughout the film. From Mount Olympus Zeus (Niall MacGinnis) and Hera look down and comment on his adventures in a manner similar to CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981). Zeus tells Hera, "If I had to punish every blasphemy, I would have no followers."

To reclaim the throne, Jason assembles a fine crew for his boat the "Argo" to steal the Golden Fleece in Colchis. The crew includes Hercules (Nigel Green), Hylas (John Cairney), Argos (Laurence Naismith), and others. They encounter many obstacles such as a giant moving bronze statue named Talos, gigantic clashing rocks, and screeching Harpies that harass blind prophet Phineas (Patrick Troughton).

Phineas tells Zeus: "I was a sinner. I've never tried to deny it. But I didn't sin every day. Why then do you punish me every day?...Go ahead, Zeus. Throw down a thunderbolt, let the earth swallow me up. I defy you! (loud crash of thunder) You can growl away all you like, Zeus. I mean what I say."

The Argonauts reach their destination.
Jason: "Now the voyage is over, I don't want any trouble to begin"
Polydeuces: "There won't be any trouble, Jason. Just tell us where the city is and when we attack."
Jason: "We don't attack."
Polydeuces: "But that's foolish, you have the finest fighting men in the world."
Jason: "40 fighting men against a nation?"
Phalerus: "Better forty than one Jason."
Jason: "We're not pirates, Phalerus."
Acastus: "What's that girl done to you? We thought you were a fighting man." Jason: "I'm going up alone in the morning. See what the situation is."
Polydeuces: "Oh, you mean spy out the land. Well, why alone? Why not take a few of us scouting."
Jason: "The fewer who go, the less can get caught. Now what's the fewest you can think of?"
Polydeuces: "One, of course."
Jason: "Right. I accept your advice."

In Colchis the Argonauts find the Golden Fleece, but first must slay the seven-headed Hydra. Then to escape Colchis they must fight an army of seven skeletons ("The Children of the Hydra's Teeth") created by sowing the Hydra's teeth. Jason is victorious and Zeus allows him some rest and relaxation before his adventures continue.

Zeus: "For the moment, let them enjoy a calm sea, a fresh breeze and each other. The girl is pretty and I am always sentimental. But for Jason, there are other adventures. I have not finished with Jason. Let us continue the game another day."

This movie is a rambling semi-classic fantasy with a tongue-in-cheek approach to Greek mythology. It's one of the finest "sword and sandal" movies ever made. Ray Harryhausen's amazing stop frame animation creatures are the real stars of the film. It took Harryhausen four months to create the skeleton scene, which lasts four minutes in the movie. He rightfully considers this to be his best film. The excellent rousing music was composed by Bernard Hermann. This gem is great fun for the whole family.

Others in the cast include: Nancy Kovak (Medea), Gary Raymond (Acastus), Michael Gwynn (Hermes), Jack Willim (King Aeetes), Andrew Faulds (Phalerus), John Crawford (Polydeuces), Aldo Cristiani (Lynceus), Ferdinando Poggi (Castor), Doug Robinson (Eupaemus), Dvina Taylor (Briseis), and many others. Jason's voice is dubbed in by British actor Tim Turner. Beverley Cross and Jan Read wrote the screenplay from Apollonious Rhodios' poem. Don Chaffey directed.

CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981) * * *











Perseus (Harry Hamlin), the mortal son of the god Zeus (Laurence Olivier) visits the city of Joppa, far from his island home. He falls in love with Andromeda (Judi Bowker), an imprisoned princess. To free and marry her he solves a riddle, but the ruler of Joppa orders that Andromeda be fed to the Kraken, a huge sea monster and last of the Titans.

With the help of Ammon (Burgess Meredith), Bubo his robot owl, and his flying horse Pegasus, Perseus endures a series of obstacles to save Andromeda. Ammon is wise and says: "I was partial to tragedy in my youth. That was before experience taught me that life was tragical enough without my having to write about it...Call no man happy who is not dead...Oh impetuous... foolish... Ah dear, the young. Why do they never listen? When will they ever learn?"

The gods up on Mount Olympus look down on the mortals literally and figuratively. Thetis (Maggie Smith) and Hera (Claire Bloom) discuss Zeus' womanizing:
Thetis: "So many women, and all these transformations and disguises he invents in order to seduce them. Sometimes a shower of gold, sometimes a bull or a swan. Why, once he even tried to ravish me disguised as a cuttlefish."
Hera: "Did he succeed?"
Thetis: "Certainly not."
Athena: "What did you do?"
Thetis: "Beat him at his own game. I simply turned myself into a shark."

The goddess Thetis and her son Calibos (Neil McCarthy) make things difficult for our hero. Perseus kills a giant vulture and Dioskilos (a two-headed wolf). He meets the three Stygian witches, blind women who tell him he must obtain the head of Medusa the Gorgon on the Isle of the dead across the River Styx. Medusa was once beautiful, but Aphrodite turned her into a hideous monster that eye contact will turn any living creature to stone. Perseus beheads Medusa with Aphrodite's sword, which he also uses to kill Calibos. Our hero then destroys the Kraken with Medusa's head and frees Andromeda.

Zeus: "Perseus has won. My son has triumphed."
Hera: "A fortunate young man."
Zeus: "Fortune is ally to the brave."
Thetis: "What a dangerous precedent. What if there are more heroes like him? What if courage and imagination became everyday mortal qualities? What will become of us?"
Zeus: "We would no longer be needed. But, for the moment, there is sufficient cowardice, sloth and mendacity down there on Earth to last forever...Perseus and Andromeda will be happy together. Have fine sons... rule wisely... And to perpetuate the story of his courage, I command that from henceforth, he will be set among the stars and constellations. He, Perseus, the lovely Andromeda, the noble Pegasus, and even the vain Cassiopeia. Let the stars be named after them forever. As long as man shall walk the Earth and search the night sky in wonder, they will remember the courage of Perseus forever. Even if we, the gods, are abandoned or forgotten, the stars will never fade. Never. They will burn till the end of the time."

This romantic adventure and fantasy is loosely based on Greek mythology. Screenwriter Beverley Cross was a student of mythology, but as usual in a Hollywood movie, the story was modified. For example, the Kraken is a monster from Scandinavian mythology.

The cast also includes: Ursula Andress (Aphrodite), Jack Gwillim (Poseidon), Susan Fleetwood (Athena), Pat Roach (Hephaestus), Sian Phillips (Queen Cassiopeia), Tim Pigott-Smith (Thallo), Donald Houston (King Acrisius), Vida Taylor (Danae), Harry Jones (Huntsman), and others. Music is by Laurence Rosenthal, and Desmond Davis directed.

Ray Harryhausen, the master of stop-motion animation, created the special effects. Their quality varies from good to great, and this was the last film he worked on. The scenes of the gods on Mount Olympus looking down at mortals are reminiscent of JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963).

CLASH OF THE TITANS should appeal to children of all ages, and those who enjoy fantasy movies and Greek mythology. The cinematography is somewhat muddy at times, but this is basically a good movie.

REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955) * * *











Teenager Jimmy Stark (James Dean) is the new kid in town with a troubled past that causes his middle-class parents Frank Stark (Jim Backus) and Carol (Ann Doran) to move from town to town. Arrested on a drunk and disorderly charge, Jimmy screams at his parents, "You're tearing me apart!"

Carol Stark: (shocked) "What?"
Jimmy Stark: "You, you say one thing, he says another, and everybody changes back again!"
Carol Stark: "That's a fine way to behave!"
Grandmother: "Well, you know who he takes after."

At the police station Jimmy befriends Judy (Natalie Wood) and John "Plato" Crawford (Sal Mineo). Judy's boyfriend Buzz Gunders (Corey Allen) is a gang leader and involves Jimmy in a chicken race with stolen cars. Buzz plummets to his death over a cliff, and Jimmy is held responsible. Jimmy, Judy and Plato hide out in an abandoned mansion, and play act the roles of father, mother and son. They are sweet, sensitive kids.

Jimmy: "Nobody talks to children."
Judy: "No, they just tell them."
Plato: "Do you think the end of the world will come at night time?"
Jimmy: "Uh-uh, at dawn. I'll bet you'd go to a hanging."
Plato: "I guess it's just my morbid personality."

Their friendship is shattered by a tragic yet exciting end. But out of the bleakness of the finale comes a ray of hope that Jimmy will finally be understood. The performances by Dean, Wood, and Mineo are superb. Unfortunately, in real life all three actors had tragic deaths.

The cast also includes: William Hopper (Judy's father), Dennis Hopper (goon), Edward Platt (Ray Fremick), Steffi Sidney (Mil), Virginia Brissac (Jim's grandmother), Beverly Long (Helen), Ian Wolfe (Dr. Minton), Frank Mazzola (Crunch), Robert Foulk (Gene), Jack Simmons (Cookie), Tom Bernard (Harry), Jack Grinnage (Moose), Clifford Morris (Cliff), and many others. The story is by Nicholas Ray, the adaptation is by Irving Shulman, and the screenplay was written by Stewart Stern. Music is by Leonard Rosenman. Nicholas Ray directed.

REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE began as a case history written by Dr. Robert Lindner in 1944. Director Nicholas Ray chose James Dean for the starring role and it was his second film after EAST OF EDEN (1955). Dean made only one more film, GIANT (1956). That's it, except for some TV dramas made in New York and two commercials (one ironically promoting Safe Driving).

James Dean's classic film about juvenile deliquency is an early sign that teens in the 1950's were alienated from the older generation and were developing their own culture. It was the first film to show that juvenile violence existed outside the slums, and there was a conflict with the values of parents and their kids. This somewhat dreary melodrama made Dean a symbol for teenagers and catapulted him to superstardom. He became a cultural icon as well, but never lived to enjoy his success.

"Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse," is what James Dean said. At age 24 he died in a violent car crash around 6 pm, Friday, September 30, 1955 near Cholane, California. He was virtually unknown at the time. Only EAST OF EDEN had been released and just as the public was becoming aware of this astonshingly talented actor, he was gone.

James Byron Dean was the first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, and the only person to have two such nominations posthumously.

WILD IN THE STREETS (1968) * * 1/2











Back in the groovy 1960's there was a generation gap and the youth had a slogan, "Don't trust anyone over age 30". This is taken to its illogical conclusion in WILD IN THE STEETS.

Max Flatow (Christopher Jones) runs away from home and 7 years later emerges as Max Frost. He fronts a rock band called The Troopers and sells illicit drugs. The 22 year-old rich pop star and drug pusher launches a campaign for teen-age emancipation. He proclaims: "I have nothing against our current President... that's like running against my own grandfather. I mean, what do you ask a 60-year-old man? You ask him if he wants his wheelchair facing the sun, or facing away from the sun. But running the country? Forget it, babies!"

He runs for the senate, wins in a landslide, doses Washington's water supply with LSD, has the voting age lowered to age 15, then is elected President of the USA. American youth take over. Thirty is the mandatory retirement age, and adults over age 35 are imprisoned and fed a daily dose of LSD. Max's mother, Mrs. Daphne Flatow (Shelley Winters), joins him in the White House, and says, "I'm sure my son has a very good reason for paralyzing the country." Later she is arrested for being "overage". She protests hysterically, "No, no, no, I'm young! I'm young! I'm very young. I'm very young!" The Hook, Abraham (Larry Bishop) takes her into custody and replies, "Lady... you are the biggest mother of them all."

When President Frost informs a senator's daughter that he is 24, she responds with contempt, "That's old." Sally LeRoy (Diane Varsi) his former keyboard musician becomes a Senator for California and says, "America's greatest contribution has been to teach the world that getting old is such a drag." Max Frost is then challenged by youths even younger than himself.

Richard Pryor appears as Stanley X, drummer and political activist. Other actors include: Hal Holbrook, Millie Perkins, Bert Freed, Kevin Longhlin, Michael Margotta, Ed Begley, Sally Sachse, Kellie Flanagan, Don Wyndham, Mary Ishihara, Dick Clark, Walter Winchell, Gary Busey, Bobby Sherman, and Peter Tork. Robert Thorn wrote the script. Original music is by Les Baxter. Barry Shear directed.

The songs on the soundtrack are: ""Wild In The Streets", "Love To Be Your Man", "Shapes Of Things To Come", "Free Lovin'", "Fifty Two Percent", Fourteen Or Fight", "Sally LeRoy", "Listen To The Music", "Shelley In Camp", and "Psychedelic Senate".

WILD IN THE STREETS is an entertaining tongue-in-cheek fantasy. It's a funny political satire and melodrama with many gags. An understanding of the 1960's youth revolution is crucial to appreciating this teen exploitation cult film.

EASY RIDER (1969) * * *








Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) smuggle cocaine from Mexico to L.A. and sell it to a man in a Rolls-Royce (Phil Spector). They use the cash to take a cross country trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras in their customized motorcycles. Wyatt dresses in an American flag leather costume, calling himself Captain America, and Billy dresses in an Indian-style buckskin outfit. Billy looks like a stereotypical hippie drop-out, Wyatt seems like a clean suburbanite in silly clothes. Captain America says, "I'm hip about time." Maybe, but this emotionally flat poser doesn't seem "hip" about anything else.

On their trip to find "the real America" they pick up a hitch-hiker (Luke Askew) who invites them to his commune for a few days. One of the kids there is played by Bridget Fonda, Peter's daughter. Life is hard for the farming hippies and our heroes are given some LSD to share with "the right people" when they depart. While riding in a small town parade they are jailed for "parading without a permit" and are released with the help of drunken lawyer George Hanson (Jack Nicholson).

George: "You know, this used to be a helluva good country. I can't understand what's gone wrong with it."
Billy: "Man, everybody got chicken, that's what happened. Hey, we can't even get into like, a second-rate hotel, I mean, a second-rate motel, you dig? They think we're gonna cut their throat or somethin'. They're scared, man."
George: "They're not scared of you. They're scared of what you represent to 'em."
Billy: "Hey, man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody who needs a haircut."
George: "Oh, no. What you represent to them is freedom."
Billy: "What the hell is wrong with freedom? That's what it's all about."
George: "Oh, yeah, that's right. That's what's it's all about, all right. But talkin' about it and bein' it, that's two different things. I mean, it's real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. Of course, don't ever tell anybody that they're not free, 'cause then they're gonna get real busy killin' and maimin' to prove to you that they are. Oh, yeah, they're gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom. But they see a free individual, it's gonna scare 'em."
Billy: "Well, it don't make 'em runnin' scared."
George: "No, it makes 'em dangerous."

George joins the freewheeling bikers, smokes some marijuana for the first time, then is killed in his sleep by rednecks. Billy and Wyatt continue to New Orleans and visit a brothel recommended by George. Two prostitutes, Karen (Karen Black) and Mary (Toni Basil), join them in the Mardi Gras festivities and all four take LSD in a cemetery. In the end, Wyatt says, "You know Billy, we blew it." He means their search for freedom was financially successful, but a spiritual failure. The film ends in spectacular tragedy because of trigger-happy rednecks.

EASY RIDER was an overwhelming box-office smash hit when released, one of the highest grossing films of the 1960's. There were lineups around the block outside movie theatres. It appealed to alienated youth, hippies, motorcyclists, and everybody who wanted to be "hip" or know what was going on. However, this trendsetting movie nearly destroyed Hollywood as every studio tried to duplicate its success.

The original title of the film was "The Loner", and it started out as a police chase movie, but was later edited into a pretentious teen exploitation flick. It supposedly evokes and symbolizes the era of the swinging 1960's, but I think it's crap. Peter Fonda is a terrible actor, and Dennis Hopper is a stoned zombie in the film. EASY RIDER made Jack Nicholson a star, and he is certainly the best actor in the movie, even though I've never liked him at all.

What really made the movie a success is the great Rock soundtrack, which was originally in horrible mono. The songs are: "The Pusher" (Steppenwolf), "Born To Be Wild" (Steppenwolf), "I Wasn't Born To Follow" (The Byrds), "The Weight" (Smith), "If You Want To Be A Bird" (The Holy Modal Rounders), "Don't Bogart Me" (Fraternity of Man), "If Six Was Nine" (Jimi Hendrix), "Let's Turkey Trot" (Little Eva), "Kyrie Eleison" (The Electric Prunes), "Flash, Bam, Pow" (The Electric Flag), "It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding" (Roger McGuinn), and "Ballad of Easy Rider" (Roger McGuinn).

This dated, low-budget melodrama was written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Terry Southern. Dennis Hopper directed, and his previous work with Roger Corman is quite evident. The cast also includes: Luana Anders (Lisa), Antonio Mendoza (Jesus), Sabrina Scharf (Sarah), Robert Walker Jr. (Jack), Sandy Brown Wyeth (Joanne), Keith Green (Sheriff), and many others.

What is an "easy rider"? It is slang for a pimp, or more correctly, the kept lover of a prostitute. For example, "Easy Rider" is a great risque song by Mae West in SHE DONE HIM WRONG (1933). How it applies to this grossly overrated motorcycle movie is anybody's guess, although to be fair, Peter Fonda is quite aware of the slang meaning and said it symbolizes the relationship of the bikers with America.

BLOW UP (1966) * * *











Fashion photographer Thomas (David Hemmings) takes some snapshots of a couple in a park and when he develops the film he believes he has evidence of a murder. Jane (Vanessa Redgrave), the woman in the photos, pursues him and seduces him out of the film.

Jane demands the photos: "What are you doing? Stop it! Stop it! Give me those. You can't photograph people like that." Thomas simply replies, "Who says I can't? I'm only doing my job. Some people are bull fighters, some people are politicians. I'm a photographer." He only pretends to give Jane the pictures, but really gives her a different roll of film. Thomas returns to the park and discovers a dead man's body. But did Jane murder him or does an enlargement of the photo reveal a nearby man with a gun?

Thomas: "Don't let's spoil everything, we've only just met."
Jane: "No, we haven't met. You've never seen me."

Set in the trendy "swinging London" of the 1960's, the photographer lives an aimless, bored, nihilstic and decadent lifestyle. His character is underdeveloped and enigmatic, as are the rest of the cast. The plot is scanty, the film openly sexual. There are psychological twists, complex symbolism, and many possible meanings to BLOW UP. It is not entirely a murder mystery, mostly it's a tense and stimulating examination of the perception of reality versus fantasy.

Thomas: "I thought you were supposed to be in Paris."
Verushka: (smoking marijuana) "I am in Paris."

The best scene is when Thomas goes to a Yardbirds rock concert. The band has both Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck on guitars. Michael Palin of Monty Python can be seen in the crowd. The band play "Train kept a Rolling" (incidentally the first song Led Zepellin ever played) during a "rave up". Beck smashes his guitar and tosses it out to the audience. Until then the audience was bored and passive, but they viciously fight over the guitar. Thomas manages to get it and is chased outside by other fans who want it. When he finally escapes, our anti-hero simply throws the guitar away. The film's ending is equally strange, with the photographer joining a a tennis match played by white-faced mimes with no rackets or ball.

BLOW UP is based on a short story by Argentinian Julio Cortazar, the 1959 "Las Babas del Diablo". It is Antonioni's first English language film, the most accessible, his only box-office hit, and considered a seminal film of the 1960's. It won the "Best Film" award at Cannes in 1967.

The cast also includes: Sarah Miles (Patricia), John Castle (Bill), Gillian Hills (the brunette), Peter Bowles (Ron), Veruschka von Lehndorff (Verushka), Julian Chagrin (mime), Claude Chagrin (mime), Susan Broderick (shop owner), Tsai Chin (receptionist), Chris Dreja (Yardbird), Melanie Hampshire (model), Keith Relf (Yardbirds' singer), Jane Birkin, Harry Hutchinson, Julian Chagrin, Claude Chgrin, Mary Krahl, Tsai Chin, Chas Lawther, Jim McCarty, Peggy Moffitt, Roaaleen Murray, Ann Norman, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Janet Street-Porter, Reg Wilkins, and Ronan O'Casey. Music is by Herbie Hancock. The script is by Tonino Guerra, Edward Bond, and Mechelangelo Antonioni, who also directed.

Unlike conventional thrillers, BLOW UP offers few answers. It is filled with ennui and secrets. We never learn about the murder, or indeed if there actually was a murder. The existential drama does not resolve. It's an enigmatic, cryptic puzzle with no solution.

BEEFCAKE (1999) * *











BEEFCAKE is a semi-documentary about the physique models in L.A. in the 1950's. It's not listed in any of my movie review books, but the video cover claims it's about the underground physique culture, a photographer ahead of his time, and the struggle for first amendment rights. The cover is deliberately misleading, calling the film a comedy and other things it is not, merely to sell the product. BEEFCAKE was inspired by F. Valentine Hooven III's 1996 book "Beefcake: The Muscle Magazines of America, 1950-1970".

It is fascinating to see the vintage photos and films of muscular young men in posing straps and also fully nude. Joe Dallesandro ("Little Joe never gave it away"--Lou Reed), Jim Lassiter, and other former models recount their fond memories of the era. Most were heterosexual bodybuilders who believed they were physical fitness role models for the youth of America. Fitness guru Jack Lalanne is also interviewed.

One of the problems with this film is that it mixes genres. About 10% is documentary, 15% is interviews, 20% is historical re-creation, but most is fiction. The video cover claims they are "seamlessly blended". No! It is incoherent, almost like randomly switching channels on your TV. Separating the ingredients is annoying, especially if you just want to enjoy the entertainment. The poorly focused mixture of biography, fantasy, and history doesn't work.

The story is based on the rise and fall of photographer Bob Mizer (Daniel MacIvor) and his magazine "Physique Pictorial"--the first male physique periodical. He seems naive and oblivious of the fact that his photos were bought primarily by homosexual men. Basically BEEFCAKE sugarcoats and reinvents Mizer. The movie is somewhat campy and kitschy, but "Gay" did not exist then, and is not mentioned in the film.

Mizer: "Sun, schmun. This scoundrel's on some kind of a drug trip."
(looks at David)
Mizer: "You. I warned you. We do not slap wrists here at AMG. I want you to take your weed-head friend here, and I want you to scram. I mean it!"
(David picks up his friend)
Mizer: "And don't come back! Ever."
(looks down at their naked behinds as they walk out)
Mizer: "Not until you've learned your lesson"

The cast includes: Daniel MacIvor (Bob Mizer), Joshua Peace (Neil O'Hara), Jack Grifin Mazeika (Red), Carroll Godsman (Delia Mizer), Jonathan Torrens (David), Thomas Cawood (Attorney), Jaime Robertson (Prosecuting Attorney), Dick Sircom (Judge), Thom Fitzgerald (Attorney), Orest Ulan, Glen Deveau, Andrew Miller, Marla McLean, Daniel McLaren, Marc St. Onge, Steve MacLaughlin (LaFleur), Andy Smith (Arthur Bob), James Mac Swain (Mr Summers), Michael Weir, Marc Le Blanc, Timoth Phillips, and many others. John Roby composed the music. Thom Fitzgerald wrote the script and directed.

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975) * * *










Tim Curry stars as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, "a sweet transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania" in this kinky sci-fi/horror cult musical comedy. It is based on a flop stage musical and is narrated and commented on by the Criminologist (Charles Gray).

The Criminologist: "I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey....Crawling, on the planet's face...some insects, called the Human Race. Lost in Time, and lost in space... and in meaning."

Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon), a normal couple, are stranded in a rain storm and take refuge in an isolated creepy old castle filled with degenerate weirdos. Handyman Riff-Raff (Richard O'Brien) invites them in and they spend the night.

Janet: "Brad, please, let's get out of here."
Brad: "For Godssakes, keep a grip on it, Janet."
Janet: "But it seems so unhealthy here."
Brad: "It's just a party, Janet."
Janet: "Well, I wanna go!"
Brad: "Well we can't go back to the car unless we get to a phone."
Janet: "Well ask the butler or someone!"
Brad: "Just a moment, Janet. We don't want to interfere with their celebration."
Janet: "This isn't the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Brad!"

The engaged couple try to cope with the madness, which centres on Frank N. Furter's experiment with creating Rocky Horror (Peter Hinwood)--a blond homoerotic muscular boytoy. Frank says, "So come up to the lab, and see what's on the slab. I see you shiver with antici...pation."

Magenta (Patricia Quinn) and Riff-Raff remove the couple's wet clothes and give them lab coats. Frank animates the body of Rocky, who "is good for releaving my tension". Eddie (Meat Loaf) emerges from a freezer storage vault on a motorcycle. Half of his brain is now in Rocky's head. Frank murders Eddie with a pickaxe, then after a bridal procession takes Rocky to his boudoir.

Frank-N-Furter: "It was strange the way it happened. Suddenly... you get a break! All of the pieces seem to fit into place. What a sucker you've been, what a fool. The answer was there all the time. It took a small accident to make it happen. An Accident. And that is how I discovered the secret. That elusive ingredient, that... spark that is the breath of life... yes I have that knowledge! I hold the key to life...itself!"

Later that night, Frank disguises himself as Brad and has sex with Janet. Then he disguises himself as Janet and has sex with Brad. Magenta and Riff-Raff watch the seductions on TV monitors, then torment Rocky. Janet sees Rocky crying and seduces him. Dr. Everett Von Scott (Jonathan Adams), Brad's former science teacher and Eddie's uncle, pays an unexpected visit. During an awkward dinner, Dr. Scott says he has come for Eddie. Frank reveals that Eddie was the main course of their meal.

The Criminologist: (reading from dictionary) "Emotion: Agitation or disturbance of mind; vehement or excited mental state. It is also a powerful and irrational monster. And from what Magenta and Columbia eagerly viewed on their television monitor, there seemed little doubt that Janet was, indeed... its slave."

There is a chase scene around the castle with all the main characters. It ends in the lab where Frank uses a "Medusa Ray" to turn them into statues. Frank dresses them for a show, releases them from suspended animation, and they perform a cabaret act. Then they plunge into a swimming pool.

Magenta and Riff-Raff arrive and announce they are returning to planet Transsexual in the galaxy Transylvania without Frank, whom they kill with a ray gun. The castle blasts off, taking Magenta and Riff-Raff back to Transsexual. Brad, Janet, and Dr. Scott are left lying in an empty field where the castle once stood.

Also in the cast are: Nell Campbell (Columbia), Jeremy Newson (Ralph Hapschatt), Hilary Labow (Betty Munroe Hapschatt), Gina Barrie (Bridesmaid), Petra Leah (Bridesmaid), Koo Stark (Bridesmaid), and Frank Lester (wedding father). The Transylvanians are played by: Perry Bedden, Chrisopher Biggins, Gaye Brown, Ishaq Bux, Stephen Calcutt, Hugh Cecil, Imogen Claire, Tony Cowan, Sadie Corre, Fran Fullenwider, Lindsay Ingram, Peggy Ledger, Annabel Milner, Pamela Obermeyer, Tony Then, Kimi Wong, Rufus Collins, and Henry Wolf. The script is by Jim Sharman and Richard O'Brien. Music and lyrics are by Richard O'Brien. Jim Sharman directed.

The first two songs are first-rate: "Time Warp" and "Sweet Transvestite". The many other songs are mediocre at best, and only serve to advance the plot. This is usual for musicals, which generally have only one or two good songs. People who listen to the second-rate songs repeatedly become familiar with them and enjoy them--but they're still crap. The other songs are: "Science Fiction - Double Feature"; "Dammit, Janet"; "Over at the Frankenstein Place"; "The Sword of Damocles"; "I Can Make You a Man"; "Hot Patootie"; "Once in a While" (cut from film); "Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a Touch Me"; "Eddie's Teddy"; "Planet Schmanet Janet"; "Don't Dream It, Be It"; "Wild and Untamed Thing"; "I'm Going Home"; and "Superheroes".

The Criminologist: "It's just a jump to the left."
Everybody: " And then a step to the right!"
The Criminologist: "With your hands on your hips"
Everybody:
"You bring your knees in tight!
But it's the pelvic thrust
That really drives you insane
Let's do the time warp again!"

The lips in the opening song "Science Fiction - Double Feature" belong to Patricia Quinn and the singing is by Richard O'Brien, who actually wrote the original stageplay and also the terrible spin-off sequel movie. Tim Curry originally auditioned for the role of Rocky by singing Little Richard's song "Tootie Fruity". Director Jim Sharman was so impressed he cast him as Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW was one of the first movies to be shown at special Midnight screenings. It quickly developed a phenomenal subculture of audience participation. Patrons dressed up as their favorite characters, spoke and sang along with the movie sound track, tossed popcorn around the theatre, and so on. This film is fast paced, trashy, weird, subversive, and great fun. It's certainly not for everybody, and for some it is probably more entertaining in a theatre as a participation movie.

Quotes from Tim Curry:
"One of the best things that ever happened to me was ROCKY HORROR being a total flop in New York as a play. I mean, it was a disaster, and it was the night of the long knives as far as the critics were concerned."
"I'm proud of that character (Frank-N-Furter). I have no intention of disowning it. There's no point in saying, 'I'm not the Fonz.' And I did it for so long. At the beginning, it was just another play, the fifth I was doing at that theater (The Royal Shakespeare Company). It just clicked and went on and took so long to surface as a film. Now it's a minor religion. I don't think you can worry too much about how the public sees you."
"I don't really think THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW has typecast me. That was a long time ago and I have done a lot since then. But there are a lot of people who seem to associate me only with that project."
"I ran up and down ladders in high heels." (for ROCKY HORROR)
"I did that show (ROCKY HORROR) forever. I did six months in London, six months in L.A., and then I did the movie, and then a couple of months in New York. It was enough ... The cult thing has always been a bit peculiar to me, because it's so much more here than it is in England. It's always bewildering to me again when I first come back to America. "Rocky" acolytes still try and get in touch with me. But people don't go through my garbage anymore, or line up in front of the apartment building."
(Speaking to a crowd at a ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW convention)
"It's so comforting to know that there are so many people in this world sicker than I am."

The semi-sequel to ROCKY HORROR is the seldom-seen SHOCK TREATMENT (1981). Basically it's an inferor rip-off of part of MELVIN AND HOWARD (1980), about TV game shows. SHOCK TREATMENT has the same director, and some of the same cast from ROCKY HORROR. The dreadful music sounds identical to ROCKY, with the same production. Brad and Janet (played by different actors) are trapped on a TV game show and try to escape. Do yourself a favour and don't get trapped in this horrible movie. There's no escaping the fact that it's so bad it's unwatchable.

JIMI HENDRIX at Woodstock (2005) * * *









Jimi Hendrix headlined and closed the Woodstock Festival starting at 9 a.m. on Monday, August 18, 1969. Most of the 400,000+ crowd had left and he played to less than 180,000 people. Bad weather and logistical problems delayed his two hour set, the longest of his career. The performance was plagued with technical difficulties such as microphone levels and guitar tuning problems. It was not his best performance, but it is nonetheless great, a historical milestone.

Sixteen movie cameras from Warner Bros. captured his image and his long-time studio engineer/producer, Eddie Kramer, handled the audio recording. Jimi played with a new band he had assembled called "Electric Sky Church" or the "Gypsy Sun and Rainbow Band", usually abbreviated to "Band of Gypsies". It featured Mitch Mitchell on drums, Juma Sultan on percussion, Jerry Velez on congas, Larry Lee on rhythm guitar, and his army buddy Billy Cox on bass.

The songs performed as listed on the 2005 2 DVD set are:
01. Message To Love
02. Spanish Castle Magic
03. Red House
04. Lover Man
05. Foxey Lady
06. Jam Back At The House
07. Izabella
08. Fire
09. Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
10. Star Spangled Banner
11. Purple Haze
12. Woodstock Improvisation
13. Villanova Junction
14. Hey Joe
15. The Road To Woodstock: New documentary directed by Bob Smeaton featuring new interviews with Hendrix band members Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, Juma Sultan, and Larry Lee, engineer Eddie Kramer, and Woodstock promoter Michael Lang among others.
16. Jimi Hendrix Press Conference: Color film footage of never before seen Jimi Hendrix press conference held September 3, 1969 at Frank's Restaurant in Harlem. Hendrix answers questions about his Woodstock festival performance, his rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" and the festival's cultural impact.

With the exceptions of Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox, the other musicians were not good enough, had not rehearsed sufficiently, and sometimes couldn't keep up with him. But for a colossus like Jimi Hendrix it doesn't really matter. He was magnificent! "Band of Gypsies"? During his three years as a Superstar, Jimi Hendrix never had a home. He was a genuine counter-culture hippie.

The end of his set ended the original WOODSTOCK (1970) movie. In 1994 the "Director's Cut" was released with 40 minutes added, including more Hendrix. 1994 also brought JIMI HENDRIX AT WOODSTOCK, a 57 minute video of his performance. Then a video of the entire performance was released in 2005.

Jimi Hendrix is by far the greatest electric guitarist in history. You may prefer Eric Clapton or Jeff Beck. However, both these guitar players knew and played with Hendrix--and they both have said frequently that Hendrix is the best, in a league of his own.

What made this genius the best? He was a virtuoso who could play the guitar behind his back, with his teeth, and with one hand better than Clapton and Beck or the other guitar heroes who just play boring blues licks. Jimi invented his own musical vocabulary and his own style. His unique guitar sound was totally unprecedented. He was a showman who danced as he played. And he sang his own first-rate songs, that are very personal.

Jimi Hendrix said about Woodstock: "It was a success for the simple fact that it was one of the largest gatherings of people, in a musical sense. It was a complete success compared to all the other festivals. I'd like everybody to see this, how everybody mixes together. It spreads harmony and communication. There was no violence at all out there. Nobody could expect this through a mixed group, the idea of non-violence, and the idea of let everbody in free. And the idea of people really listening to music over the sky in such a large body."

More quotes from Jimi Hendrix:

"Festivals shouldn't worry about getting so many people. It's a big ego trip now. They didn't do all that kind of mess with Monterey."
"Imagination is the key to my lyrics. The rest is painted with a little science fiction."
"My goal is to be one with the music. I just dedicate my whole life to this art."
"If I'm free it's because I am always running."
"Music makes me high on stage, and that's the truth. It's like being almost addicted to music."
"Blues is easy to play, but hard to feel."
"I just hate to be in one corner. I hate to be put as only a guitar player, or either only as a songwriter, or only as a tap dancer. I like to move around."
"Music doesn't lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music."
"I'm the one that has to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life, the way I want to."
"Once you're dead you're made for life."
"When I die, I want people to play my music, go wild and freak out and do anything they want to do."
"When I die, just keep playing the records."

TOMMY (1975) * * *








Tommy Walker (Roger Daltry) is a young child who accidentally witnesses the murder of his father Captain Walker (Robert Powell) by his stepfather Frank Hobbs (Oliver Reed). His mother Nora (Ann-Margret) tells him to forget everything he has seen and heard and never talk about it. This causes Tommy to be deaf, dumb and blind.

Some bizarre cures are tried but fail. A preacher (Eric Clapton) mistakenly believes Marilyn Monroe can heal him, and the Acid Queen (Tina Turner) also fails with her drugs. Cousin Kevin (Paul Nicholas) tortures him and Uncle Ernie (Keith Moon) molests him. Tommy suffers much growing up but finds solace in pinball games. When he defeats the Pinball Wizard (Elton John), he becomes the world pinball champion, rich and famous. Then a doctor advises a shock as a cure. The shock from breaking a mirror works, and Tommy believes he is the new messiah. A religious cult is formed, but his followers begin commercializing his fame. When Tommy objects, his supporters accuse him of hypocrisy and turn on him.

Nora Walker Hobbs: "Today it rained Champagne! A son was born again! A genius untamed! A life of wealth and fame, wealth and fame! Champagne flowing down just like rain, Caviar breakfasts every day. Merchant banks and yachts at Cannes! Servants and cars and private sand...But what's it all worth? What's it all worth when my son is blind? He can't hear the music nor enjoy what I'm buying. His life is worthless, affecting mine. I'd pay any price to drive his plight from my mind!"

Acid Queen: "If your child ain't all he should be now, This girl will put him right. I'll show him what he could be now, Just give me one more night! I'm the Gypsy, the Acid Queen, Pay me before I start. I'm the Gypsy, I'm guaranteed To tear his soul apart."

The Pinball Wizard: "Ever since I was a young boy, I've played the silver ball. From Soho down to Brighton, I must have played them all. But I ain't seen nothin' like him In any amusement hall. That deaf, dumb and blind kid Sure plays a mean pinball."

Tommy: "See me, feel me, touch me, heal me...Listening to you I get the music, Gazing at you. I get the heat, Following you. I climb the mountain, I get excitement at your feet! Right behind you, I see the millions, On you. I see the glory, From you. I get opinions, From you. I get the story."
"See Me Feel Me" Peter Townshend c 1970 Fabulous Music Ltd.

The cast also includes: Jack Nicholson (the Specialist), Peter Towshend (himself), John Entwistle (himself), Arthur Brown (the Priest), Victoria Russel (Sally Simpson), Ben Aris (Reverend Simpson), Gary Rich (rock musician), Dick Allan (President Black Angels), Barry Winch (young Tommy), Eddie Stacey (Bovver Boy), Ken Russel (cripple), and many others, with lots of cameos--including John Lennon. Ken Russel directed and wrote the script based on Peter Townshend's rock opera.

Peter Townshend wrote the original rock opera in 1969. The songs are: "Prologue 1945", "Captain Walker", "It's a Boy", "Bernie's Holiday Camp", "1951/What About the Boy", "Amazing Journey", "Christmas", "Eyesight to the Blind", "Acid Queen", "Do You Think It's Alright? (1)", "Cousin Kevin", "Do You Think It's Alright? (2)", "Fiddle About", "Do You Think It's Alright? (3)", "Sparks", "Extra, Extra, Extra", Pinball Wizard", "Champagne", "There's a Doctor", Go to the Mirror", "Tommy Can You Hear Me", "Smash the Mirror", "I'm Free", "Mother and Son", "Miracle Cure", "Sally Simpson", "Sensation", "Welcome", "TV Studio", Tommy's Holiday Camp", "We're Not Going To Take It", and "Listening to You/See Me, Feel Me".

Actors sing the songs. The Who's brilliant concept album is never dubbed in over the film. Furthermore, Ken Russel elevates Peter Townshend's rock opera masterpiece to Grand Opera, which means there is no spoken dialogue. In this regard, the movie is absolutely magnificent. It is extremely difficult to write good songs that also advance the plot, and TOMMY has only good songs, five that are first-rate platinum hits.

Ken Russel is infamous for his flamboyant, garish, and weird cinematic style. He is an appropriate director for TOMMY. His penchant for bad taste and a barrage of startling images compliment the movie. There is some miscasting and poorly-conceived production concepts, but the film is a clamorous and energetic success, a classic. Eric Clapton, Elton John, and Tina Turner give outstanding musical performances. Bravo!

MOULIN ROUGE (1952) * * *











MOULIN ROUGE is a lavish biography of French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), the Parisian postimpressionist whose growth was stunted by two chilhood accidents. Jose Ferrer gives an impressive performance as Lautrec, and director John Huston captures the flavour of the bawdy Montmartre district, its characters, and Lautrec's sadly distorted view of life.

The son of a French count, Lautrec falls in love with Marie Charlet (Colette Marchand) and begins a relationship. He earns most of his money by painting advertising posters, and hangs out with the bohemian sub-culture near a burlesque palace, the Moulin Rouge. This is the setting of the fabulous 20 minute can-can sequence near the beginning of the film.

Jose Ferrer also plays his father, the Compte Alphonse de Toulouse-Lautrec, who disapproves of his son's art career as a disgrace to the family name.

The Compte: "You should be horsewhipped for smearing the name of Toulouse-Lautrec over every kiosk in Paris. That revolting poster is a disgrace."
Henri: "I am sorry you do not like my work, Father. But I shall continue to sign it as I please, for it is my name and it is my work."
The Comte: "Work? A pretext to hang about cheap dance halls and drink all night. You call that pornographic trash work?"
Henri: "Yes, I call it work. On this I am more of an authority than you, Father. You've never worked. Our kind never did. We are the grand seigneurs, we are above work."

Henri: "Well, Jane, what a long road you have traveled. Only a few years ago you were singing for your supper, and here you are a full-fledged star at twenty-nine."
Jane: "Twenty-five!"
Henri: "Of course, I beg your pardon. Twenty-five."
Jane: "I have been twenty-five for four years, and I shall stay there for another four. Then I'll be twenty-seven for a while. I intend to grow old gracefully....You are the only man who has never bored me."
Henri: "I am the only man who has never loved you."
Jane: "Henri, over there. There is the most beautiful creature. Look at those shoulders."
Henri: "For your sake, I pray that they are not padded."

To play the dwarfish Henri, Ferrer used platforms, concealed pits, special camera angles, and he walked on his padded knees. Lautrec's deformity, physical and mental anguish, and failures in romance lead to his early death--caused by alcoholism, debauchery, and a fall. The deathbed scene is the very best in cinema history. His father apologizes and is very proud to inform Henri that his collection of paintings was just chosen to hang in the Louvre, the only artist to be so honoured in his lifetime.

Ghostly dancers move around him and entertainer Jane Avril (Zsa Zsa Gabor) waltzes in and out of his bedroom, and says, "Henri, my dear, we just heard you were dying. We simply had to come say good-bye." Gabor is excellent in this film. If she had been consistently this good, she would have been a major star, instead of a mere celebrity--famous for being famous.

The cast also includes: Suzanne Flon (Myriamme Hayam), Claude Nollier (Countess de Toulouse-Lautrec), Katherine Kath (La Goulue), Muriel Smith (Aicha), Mary Clare (Madame Louet), Walter Crisham (Valentin Dessosse), Lee Montague ( Maurice Joyant, Jim Gerald (Pere Cotelle), Georges Lannes (Sgt. Patou), Harold Kasket (Zidler), Maureen Swanson (Denise de Frontiac), Jill Bennett (Sarah), Theodore Bikel (King Milo IV), Peter Cushing (Marcel de la Voisier), Charles Carson (Mr. Paquin), Walter Cross (Babare), Colette Marchand (Marie Charlet), Michael Balfour (Dodo), Christopher Lee (Georges Seurat), and many others. Huston wrote the screenplay from the novel by Pierre La Mure. Music is by George Auric and the movie theme hit the top 10 charts in the US.

Nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor, MOULIN ROUGE won two Oscars: Art Direction and Costume Design.

MOULIN ROUGE (1934) is a good musical comedy about songwriter Douglas Hall (Franchot Tone). Constance Bennett plays two roles: American wife Helen Hall and her sister, a pseudo-French actress who was a success in Paris as Mlle. Racquel. She impersonates her sister to revitalize her marriage and stage career that her husband will not allow. Some of the jokes and costumes are good. The 15 minute grand finale has most of the singing and dancing.

MOULIN ROUGE (1941) is a French musical shot in Paris just before the Nazis invaded and took over. It stars Rene Dary as aspiring singer Lequerec, too poor to get into the Moulin Rouge and prove himself. To survive Lequerec works as an undertaker's assistant and caretaker. With the help of his friend Loiseau (Lucien Baroux) he loans a rich man's clothes and sneaks onstage at the Moulin Rouge and becomes a star. Josephine Baker plays Princess Tam-Tam, the original title of the film, and performs some of her famous dance routines.

MOULIN ROUGE (2001) is a hallucinogenic fantasy and love story with a gaudy, bombastic view of the "City of Lights". Satine (Nicole Kidman) is a notorious nightclub courtesan and Christian (Ewan McGregor) is the narrator and young writer in love with her. Both sing quite well, and there are dozens of songs, mostly hit pop songs from the 1970's and 1980's. John Leguizano plays Toulouse-Lautrec. This movie is inferior to the 1952 film, has virtually nothing in common with it, and it also won Oscars for Art Direction and Costume Design.

SOUTH PACIFIC (1958) * * *











James A. Michener's book "Tales of the South Pacific", based on his WWII tour of duty in the Pacific, was made into the 1949 Rodgers & Hammerstein stage musical. Its success led to the making of the movie version of SOUTH PACIFIC.

Mitzi Gaynor stars as Ens. Nellie Forbush, an American nurse on a tropical island who falls in love with wealthy, suave French planter Emile de Becque, played by Rossano Brazzi, who becomes a war hero. Their love scenes were considered shocking in the 1950's. Emile says, "When all you care about is here, this is a good place to be."

It's 1943 and the film begins with a song and dance number by dozens of half-naked sailors who sing "There is nothin' like a Dame". An ironic song choice considering all the muscular beefcake on display. Lt. Buzz Adams says, "You gotta do something to break the monotony out here, Lieutenant. You know, if this war ever really gets started..."

Bloody Mary: (gives a shrunken head to Lt. Cable) "You like I give you, free!"
Luther Billis: "Free? You never gave me anything free!"
Bloody Mary: "You no sexy like lieu-tellen."
Bloody Mary: (she looks Cable up and down) "Lieu-tellen, you sexy man."
Lt. Cable: "Thanks. You're looking pretty... er, fit yourself."

(Lt. Cable has been told that Nellie is in love with Emile)
Lieutenant Cable: "That's hard to believe, sir. They tell me he's a middle-aged man."
Capt. Brackett: "Cable, it is a common mistake for boys of your age and athletic ability to underestimate men who have reached their maturity. Young women frequently find older men attractive, strange as it may seem. I myself am over fifty. I am a bachelor. And Cable, I do not, by any means, consider myself through."
(to Harbison, who is trying not to laugh)
Capt. Brackett: "What's the matter, Bill?"
Cmdr. Harbison: "Nothing--evidently! (laughs)

The cast also includes: John Kerr (Lt. Joseph Cable), Ray Walston (Luther Billis), Juanita Hall (Bloody Mary), Russ Brown (Capt. George Bracket), Ken Clark (Stewpot), Floyd Simmons (Cmdr. Bill Harbison), Candace Lee (Ngana), Warren Hsieh (Jerome), Tom Laughlin (Lt. Buzz Adams), Francis Kahele (Henry), Richard H. Cutting (Adm. Kester), Charles Carter (Barua), and many others. Writing credits are James Michener, Oscar Hammerstein II, Joshua Logan, and Paul Osborn. Original music is by Richard Rodgers. Joshua Logan directed.

Other great songs include: "Bali Ha'i", "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair", "Younger Than Springtime", and "Some Enchanted Evening". Very few musicals have this many first-rate songs. The other songs are: "Bloody Mary", "A Cock-Eyed Optimist", "Twin Soliloquies (Wonder How It Feels)", "Dites Moi", "A Wonderful Guy", "Happy Talk", "Honey Bun", "My Girl Back Home", "Carefully Taught", and "This Nearly Was Mine". Rossano Brazzi's singing is dubbed in by opera star Giorgio Tozzi. This was unneccesary, because even I can sing these simple songs just as well, and can do a decent impersonation of Giorgio Tozzi's version.

SOUTH PACIFIC was filmed mostly on location in Hawaii and another small, isolated island. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous, almost like taking a tropical vacation. This musical moves at a leisurely pace, the acting is solid, the music is wonderful, and it is great family entertainment. There is a powerful theme of racial prejudice, no doubt because James Michener was married to an Asian and knew all about prejudice.

Unfortunately, the worst thing about this film is the experimental use of colour filters on the camera lens for dramatic emphasis during intense scenes. The colour change is meant to represent the emotions of the actors. These colour filters cause people to turn purple and other horrid colours! It is extremely distacting and annoying. Do not adjust your TV. I thought one of my tapes was defective, until I used a different TV and got better results. The cinematography in SOUTH PACIFIC is breathtakingly beautiful and does not require artificial colour filters.

Director Joshua Logan said using the colour filters was the biggest mistake in his career. I would say it was the biggest mistake in colour movie history. Fortunately, Logan uses the filters rather sparingly in the film.

Doris Day, Audrey Hepburn, Liz Taylor, and Ginger Rogers were considered for Mitzi Gaynor's part. A made-for-TV version of SOUTH PACIFIC was released in 2001 with Glenn Close and Harry Connick Jr. It is considered superior to the original, but I have not watched it so I cannot comment.

FREAKED (1993) * * *











Sitcom actor Ricky Coogin (Alex Winter) is spokesman for E.E.S. (Everything Except Shoes), a corporation that markets toxic fertilizer to the third world. Ricky is sent to South America to placate a scandal involving Zygrot-27, a poisonous caltalyst used in many E.E.S. products. Ricky says, "I heard that s**t's lethal."

Ricky and two friends encounter a strange amusement park operated by Elijah C. Skuggs (Randy Quaid), who dispays "Hideous Mutant Freekz" (the original title of the film). Skuggs uses Zygrot-27 to transform the trio into freaks. They join the other freaks such as a bearded lady (Mr. T), a human worm (Derek McGrath), Sockhead (Karyn Machchus), Toad (Jaime Cardriche), and Dog Boy (Keanu Reeves).

Ortiz the Dog Boy: "Twelve milkmen IS theoretically possible. Thirteen is silly. Looks like there's one milkman too many, Coogan!"

As half man and half beast, Ricky is disgusting. I could not watch all of this in one evening and had to take a break for a few days. The makeup work is so remarkable that the movie is cruel as well as funny. Gross-out humour can go too far. FREAKED is inventive, rude, loud, fast-paced, obnoxious, and tasteless. It's not for the squeamish.

Ricky Coogan: "I wonder if I they're still casting "Gremlins 3"..."
Bearded Lady: "When I arrived here, I was nothing like I am now. I was confused; a walking contradiction, and I was so full of questions."
Elijah Skuggs: (flashback) "You know, you'd be better off without a d**k."
Bearded Lady: (grunts angrily)
Elijah Skuggs: "Hey, you can keep the beard."
(they hug)
Elijah Skuggs: "Do I seem like a wierdo?"
Ricky Coogan: "Nope. You seem like a regular dumbs**t old redneck to me."

The budget for FREAKED was $12 million, largely eaten up by the three separate special effects companies involved. Keanu Reeves' salary was $1 million for his uncredited cameo as Ortiz, the Dog Boy. Brooke Shields plays Skye Daley, a TV host. She looks very out of place in the film, instantly recognizable as...Brooke Shields. Strangely, there are equal entries on the internet for "Zygrot-24" and "Zygrot-27", so I'll have to pay close attention the next time I watch this flick.

Others in the cast include: William Sadler (Dick Brian), Eduardo Ricard (George Ramirez), Brian Brophy (Kevin), Michael Stoyanov (Ernie), Morgan Fairchild (stewardess), Alex Zuckerman (Stuey Gluck), Megan Ward (Julie), Jeff Kahn (Nosey), John Hawkes (Cowboy), Lee Arenberg (Eternal Flame), Patti Tippo (Rosie the Pinhead), Tim Burns (Frogman), Bob Goldthwait (Sockhead), Don Stark (editor), Arturo Gil (clown), Gibby Haynes (Cheese Wart), Joe Baker (Prof. Nigel Crump), Calvert DeForest (Larry Melman), Joseph S. Griffo (N. Eye), Ray Baker (Bill Blazer), Jon M. Chu (Giant Stuey Monster), and Vincent Hammond (Giant Rick Monster). The script was written by Tim Burns, Tom Stern, and Alex Winter. Original music is by Kevin Kiner. Tom Stern and Alex Winter directed.

FREAKED is a very good, funny movie. Twentieth-Century Fox didn't promote it properly, and this outrageous, weird, surreal fantasy did not get the distribution and publicity it deserved. Fortunately we have home video.

NAKED LUNCH (1991) * * *











NAKED LUNCH is based on William S. Burroughs' 1959 novel, a semi-autobiographical account of his drug abuse. The book is basically "unfilmable" because of its surreal and fragmentary structure. Burroughs invented "cut-ups" and chopped his writing into fragments, which he then tossed together in a random order.

Bill Lee (Peter Weller) is an aspiring writer who makes his living in N.Y.C. as an insect exterminator in 1953. His crazy wife Joan (Judy Davis) is addicted to his bug powder, and she persuades him to start mainlining insecticide. She tells Bill, "It's a literary high...It's a Kafka high. You feel like a bug." Then Bill tries a narcotic made from a Brazillian centipede. Bill accidentally kills Joan and flees to a port city in North Africa, Interzone (Tangiers).

Interzone is a Casablanca-like community populated by squares, hipsters, and weirdos. Some of the characters are obviously based on Beat writers such as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Jane and Paul Bowles. It's a paranoid city with double agents and subplots within plots. Bill starts taking another drug called mugwump jism and continues writing in a hallucinatory delirium.

Tom Frost: "They say you murdered your wife. Is that true?"
Bill Lee: "Who told you that?"
Tom Frost: "Word gets around."
Bill Lee: "It wasn't murder. It was an accident."
Tom Frost: "There are no accidents. For example, I've been killing my own wife slowly over a period of years."
Bill Lee: "What?"
Tom Frost: "Well, not intentionally. I mean, on the level of conscious intention, it's insane, monstrous."
Bill Lee: "But you do consciously know it. You just said it. We're discussing it."
Tom Frost: "Not consciously. This is all happening telepathically, non-consciously."
Bill Lee: "What do you mean?"
Tom Frost: "If you look carefully at my lips, you'll realize that I'm actually saying something else. I'm not actually telling you about the several ways I'm gradually murdering Joan."

NAKED LUNCH is nightmarish, psychedelic, and intensely bizarre and grotesque. Director David Cronenberg mixes Burrough's life with fiction, including violence, nudity and profanity at every opportunity. It's a wild ride for those who like it weird.

Blob-like creatures with sexual organs move about. Mutating and oozing giant bugs pervade the film. Bill's typewriter transforms into a cockroach and speaks to him, sounding exactly like the electronic brain in Jean-Luc Godard's sci-fi classic ALPHAVILLE (1965). Peter Boretski provided the creature voices and played Exterminator #2.

Exterminator # 2: "Just remember this. All agents defect, and all resisters sell out. That's the sad truth, Bill. And a writer? A writer lives the sad truth like anyone else. The only difference is, he files a report on it."

The cast also includes: Ian Holm (Tom Frost), Julian Sands (Yves Cloquet), Roy Scheider (Dr. Benway), Monique Mercure (Fadela), Nicholas Campbell (Hank), Michael Zelniker (Martin), Robert A. Silverman (Hans), Joseph Scoren (Kiki), Yuval Daniel (Hafid), John Friesen (Hauser), Sean McCann (O'Brien), Howard Jerome (A.J. Cohen), Claude Aflalo (Forgeman), and others. Music is by Ornette Coleman and Howard Shore.

NAKED LUNCH is one of Cronenberg's best films. It is relatively more coherent than William Burroughs' misanthropic Beat masterpiece. "William Lee" is the pseudonym Burroughs used for his first novel, "Junky". The film is full of absurd deadpan humour, and has very good special effects, cinematography, and period costume design.

TOPPER (1937) * * *











George Kerby (Cary Grant) and his wife Marion (Constance Bennett) are swinging, sophisticated wealthy socialites. Driving recklessly, they have a fatal car accident and become ghosts. In order to enter heaven they must do a good deed, and they decide to "liberate" stuffy banker Cosmo P. Topper (Roland Young) and teach him to enjoy life.

Marion: "Oh, George, I can see right through you."
George: "Say, that's funny. I can see through you, too."
Marion: (seeing her body lying next to George's beside the car, which has just crashed) "George, look. You know something George? I think we're dead."
George: "I think you're right. Funny, I don't feel any different."

The ghosts are only visible to Topper, and when he starts to live it up, it strains his relationship with henpecking Mrs. Clara Topper (Billie Burke). Topper is thrust into one madcap adventure after another, leading to his arrest and a temporary scandal. In court he is discovered to have women's lingerie hidden under his jacket.

Strange as it seems, TOPPER condones risque and anti-social behavior, including drunkenness, extra-marital affairs, and pinching wives' bottoms. In one funny scene Topper is followed around a hotel lobby by a chair pushed by the invisible George Kerby. With perfect deadpan timing Cosmo apologizes to the other guests, "I'm having a little chair trouble. Please don't pay any attention."

Marion: "Let's go have some dinner."
Cosmo: "Oh no, we cannot eat on an empty stomach."
Marion: "Then we better have a few drinks first."
Cosmo: "My wife objects to drinking."
George: "Then she shouldn't drink."
Cosmo: "She doesn't."
George: "What's her objection?"

The cast also includes: Alan Mowbray (Wilkins), Eugenene Pallette (Casey), Hedda Hopper (Mrs. Grace Stuyvesant), Virginia Sale (Miss Johnson), Hoagy Carmichael (piano player), Betty Blythe (Mrs. Goodrich), Ward Bond (Eddie), and many others. Norman Z. McLeod directed. Jack Jevne, Eric Hatch and Eddie Moran wrote the screenplay. Music is by Marvin Hatley.

This classic screwball comedy is an adaptation of Thorne Smith's 1926 novel. It's a delightful fantasy with good trick photography and special effects. In 1985 TOPPER was the very first black and white movie to be "colorized". Don't get me started.

TOPPER TAKES A TRIP (1939) is the first sequel, and it's just as good. Mrs. Parkhurst (Verree Teasdale) convinces Mrs. Topper to divorce Cosmo. Cary Grant appears in a flashback, but is absent from the film because he had entered heaven or had become too expensive. Marion returns to help Cosmo and brings a ghost dog, Mr. Atlas (as Skippy) played by "Asta". Bennett, Young, and Burke reprise their roles. Cosmo and Clara Topper end up on the French Riviera and the ghost of Marion Kerby prevents Mrs. Topper from being victimized by an aristocratic con man. Special effects are very good and Norman Z. McLeod directed again.

TOPPER RETURNS (1941), the second sequel was directed by Roy Del Ruth and is less a screwball comedy and more a spoof of films such as THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1932). Cosmo Topper (Roland Young) helps the ghost of Gail Richards (Joan Blondell) solve her own accidental murder. She was staying with her wealthy friend Ann Carrington (Carole Landis), the intended victim. Clara (Billie Burke) is suspicious. She says, "Trying to make these policemen understand something is harder than doing it yourself." This film is just as good as its predecessors. It's a supernatural murder mystery comedy, with a haunted mansion, stupid cops, and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson as Cosmo's chauffeur.

TOPPER (1953-1955) is a very good and justly famous CBS TV series starring Leo G. Carroll as Topper, Anne Jeffreys as Marion Kerby, and Robert Sterling as George Kerby. Lee Patrick plays Henrietta Topper. There are 30 episodes and the laugh track is sometimes annoying.

TOPPER (1979) is a dreadful TV movie remake starring Jack Warden as Topper, with Kate Jackson and Andrew Stevens as the ghosts. Turkey time!

ROAD TO BALI (1952) * * *









ROAD TO BALI is the sixth Bob Hope/Bing Crosby "road" musical comedy. It is the only one in colour and is the last they made for Paramount Pictures. Hal Walker directed it, and he also directed ROAD TO UTOPIA (1945).

George Cochran (Bing Crosby) and Harold Gridley (Bob Hope) are vaudeville song and dance performers working in Melbourne, Australia. Forced to leave to avoid a dual shotgun marriage, they sign on as undersea divers for Prince Ken Arok (Murvyn Vye).

They sail to a South Seas island and meet his cousin Princess Lalah (Dorothy Lamour), who looks better in black and white. Lalah's Scottish father lost a treasure chest of jewels when his ship sank. Harold recovers the treasure after an encounter with the squid from REAP THE WIND (1942).

Ken Arok tries to usurp Lalah's throne, and the trio escape with the treasure and head for Bali to sell it. Their boat sinks and they crawl ashore an island. They contend with jungle dangers such as cannibalistic natives, a slapstick gorilla, and an exploding volcano from ALOMA OF THE SOUTH SEAS (1941), which stars Dorothy Lamour. Princess Lalah is attracted to George, but also likes Harold because he reminds her of a pet chimpanzee.

Lalah: "Look!"
George: "The African Queen! Humphrey Bogart?"
Harold: "Boy, is he lost!"
George: "Hey! Hey, Bogie!"
(All three run toward Humphrey Bogart)
Harold: "Hey, jungle fever! That's what we got. That was just a mirage!"
George: "Oh yeah? What about this?"
(Holding up a trophy)
George: "Humphrey Bogart's Academy Award!"
Harold: "An Oscar! Gimme that, you got one. Friends, this is a great occasion, me receiving this Academy Award. And I'd like to say a word..."

ROAD TO BALI is a song-and-dance musical comedy, and the songs are by Johnny Burke (lyrics) and Jimmy Van Heusen (music). Bing Crosby sings "To See You Is To Love You". Crosby and Bob Hope sing "Chicago Style", "Hoot Mon", and "The Merry-Go-Run-Around" (also with Dorothy). The two crooners also dance. Dorothy Lamour sings "Moonflowers". There is also the instrumental "Chorale for Brass, Piano, and Bongo" by Stan Kenton and Pete Rugolo. Most of the music score is string oriented with orchestral arrangements by Van Cleave. The soundtrack is mono.

Crosby's version of "To See You Is to Love You" is in Alfred Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW (1954) without credits to Crosby or the songwriters. On a boat, when Bing Crosby is about to sing, Bob Hope turns to the camera and says, "He's gonna sing folks. Now's the time to go and get your popcorn."

Also in the cast are: Peter Coe (Gung), Ralph Moody (Bhoma Da), Leo Askin (Ramayana), Carolyn Jones (Eunice), Jan Kayne (Verna), Michael Ansara, Herman Cantor, Sue Casey, Larry Chance, Leslie Charles, Jack Claus, Jena Corbett, Harry Cording, Roy Gordon, Berernie Gozier, Richard Keene, Al Kikume, Donald Lawton, Bunny Lewbel, Judith London, Charles Mauu, Patti McKay, Allan Nixon, Betty Onge, Satini Pualoa, Kuka Tuima, and Douglas Yorke, Besmark Auelua, Patricia Dane, Devi Dja, Mary Kanae, and many others. Writing credits are Frank Butler, Hal Kanter, William Morrow and Harry Tugend. Original music is by Johnny Burke and Joseph J. Lilley. Hal Walker directed.

Cameos include: Humphrey Bogart, Jane Russel, Carolyn Jones, Bob Crosby, Jerry Lewis, and Dean Martin. The special effects are good.

ROAD TO BALI is my favorite "road" movie because it's in colour. All seven are great: SINGAPORE (1940), ZANZIBAR (1941), MOROCCO (1942), UTOPIA (1945), RIO (1947), BALI (1952), and HONG KONG (1962). ROAD TO HONG KONG, distrubuted by United Artists, is my second favorite "road" movie. I first saw it in a movie theatre, and it's reminiscent of DR. NO (1962), with espionage and space rockets. Robert Morley is an excellent villain and the cameos are great. Too bad it's not in colour. ROAD TO MOROCCO has the best music.

The camaraderie and chemistry between Bob and Bing is always terrific. Con man Bing is smarter than cowardly Bob and usually dominates and takes advantage of him. There are constant wisecracks, sight gags, inside jokes and a love triangle with Dorothy Lamour, who is the "straight man". It seems there is a homosexual sub-text in all the road movies. In this film Bob and Bing kiss, marry each other, and sleep together. What always puzzles me is Bob Hope's pro-Republican jokes. It is completely out of character for him to be a Republican and the "jokes" aren't funny. He should be apolitical, or at least a Democrat in the "road" movies.

They don't make films like this anymore. It's an innocent, harmless, entertaining and very pleasant diversion. Interestingly, ROAD TO BALI is the only road movie to lapse into the public domain, so over a dozen companies have released DVDs of the film.

LITTLE NICKY (2000) * * 2/3










Nicky (Adam Sandler) is the youngest son of Satan (Harvey Keitel). He has no evil whatsoever, whereas his half-brothers Cassius (Tommy Lister Jr.) and Adrian (Rhys Ifans) have no goodness. Strong Cassius and brainy Adrian leave Hell for New York City, thereby freezing the wall of fire that lets damned souls into the underworld. This causes Satan to begin dying. He actually wants to retire, so he sends Little Nicky to Earth to put his brothers into a flask, which will solve all his problems. Nicky has one week, and if he dies on Earth he can return to Hell and start over again, which he does several times.

On Earth Nicky is guided by Mr. Beefy, a streetwise talking bulldog that often makes wisecracks and entertains us with amusing antics. Mr. Beefy is obviously "inspired" by Frank the Pug in MEN IN BLACK (1997). Digital technology has created realistic animated lips on talking animals in movies. Some people enjoy it very much, and others think it's an over-used boring gimmick they are tired of.

Todd: "You know, this cake tastes kind of funny."
John: "Oh yeah, I dumped a fat sack of reefer into the mix. I thought I'd spice up the batch."
Mr. Beefy: "Really?"
Nicky: "What's Reefer?"
Mr. Beefy: "About five Hundred bucks an ounce."

Nicky has a roommate, Todd (Allen Covert) and falls in love with a fashion school student, Valerie Veran (Patricia Arquette). Eventually he ends up in Heaven and learns that he is half angel, which accounts for his sweetness. Scenes in Heaven are quite lovely, and the film shows that Heaven and Earth are infinitely preferable to Hell. Nicky is rather stupid, goofy, accident-prone, and has a speech impediment--not exactly an appealing character, except in comparison to his family.

Peter: "Drink up. Here's to fifty million clams."
Adrian: "To the defilement of Earth and the corruption of its people."
Peter: "Okay whatever, just drink it."
Adrian: "It's awfully hot down here. How do you manage to stay so cool?"
John: "Uh, beer lowers the body temperature. I read that in a beer magazine."
Adrian: "This liquid would probably quench my thirst, cool me off."
Peter: "Definitely."
John: "It'll give you a pretty good buzz."
Adrian: "Or maybe it will trap me inside for all of eternity."
John: "Uh, no it won't."

Loosely based on Shakespeare's "King Lear", LITTLE NICKY has great sets and wonderful special effects. The Dante's Inferno scenes in Hell are reminiscent of the opening of HELLZAPOPPIN (1941), but are much superior, visually exciting and very colourful and dark at the same time. Most of the movie takes place on Earth, which makes the terrific Heaven and Hell scenes more effective by contrast.

Outrageously funny, this fantasy is also crude, with strong language and sexual humour. Mr. Beefy is good at toilet humour. Film critics generally do not like the movie and they don't think much of Adam Sandler either. One nasty critic complains of his "total inability to act". Why do these jerks write negative reviews of good movies they personally hate? They should understand that any movie that is popular with the public has been democratically elected as a success, a good movie.

There are many gag cameos by Sandler's Saturday Night Live friends. Jon Lovitz is a peeping Tom, Kevin Nealon is the gatekeeper of Hell, and Dana Carvey is a possessed basketball referee. The list goes on. Other cameos include Quentin Tarantino, Henry Winkler, and Ozzy Osbourne--who saves the day.

The cast also includes: Rodney Dangerfield (Lucifer, Satan's father), Peter Dante (Peter), Jonathan Loughran (John), Reese Witherspoon (Angel Holly), Carl Weathers (Chubbs Peterson), Michael McKean (Police Chief), Blake Clark (Jimmy the Demon), Rob Schneider (Townie), Clint Howard (Nipples), Jackie Sandler (Angel Jenna), Leah Lail (Angel Christa), Lewis Arquette (Cardinal), George Wallace (Mayor Randolph), Christopher Carroll (Hitler), Ellen Cleghorne (Mom), Reggie McFadden (Dad), Laura Harring (Mrs. Dunleavy), Isaiah Griffin (Scottie Dunleavy), Brandon Rosenberg (Baby Zazariah), Kevin Grady (Fitzie), Salvatore Cavaliere (Sal the Demon), and many others.

The script was written by Tim Herlihy, Steven Brill and Adam Sandler, who also co-produced with eight others. Steven Brill directed. Music is by Teddy Castellucci.

Little Nicky basically just wants to be alone in his bedroom and listen to heavy metal music. Therefore the soundtrack reflects this: "Highway To Hell" by AC/DC, "Rock You Like A Hurricane" by Scorpions, "No More Tears" by Ozzy Osbourne, "Running With The Devil" by Van Halen, and 17 others.

THE MAN WITH TWO BRAINS (1983) * * *




















Wacky neuro-surgeon Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr (Steve Martin) is the famous inventor of "cranial screw top" brain surgery. He saves the life of sultry Dolores Benedict (Kathleen Turner) after he runs her over with his car. Michael falls in love and they marry. However, Dolores is a gold-digger and will not consummate the marriage, even though she is "a cheap, vulgar slut".

The Hfuhruhurrs travel to Vienna for a for a honeymoon and medical conference, and they get a divorce. Michael meets eccentric scientist Dr. Alfred Necessiter (David Warner) who has a collection of human brains in glass jars in his lab. The brain of Anne Uumellmahaye (voiced by Sissy Spacek) communicates with Michael, they fall in love, and he starts looking for a new "home" for it.

Dr. Necessiter says, "My experiments have progressed to the point where I can transfer the contents of a human brain into a gorilla." Dr. Hfurhuhurr replies, "I couldn't f**k a gorilla."

There is an Elevator Killer on the loose in Vienna, a serial killer who apparently chooses his victims at random. He murders by injecting window cleaner into buttocks, leaving the victim's body dead but the brain alive. Eventually the identity of the Elevator Killer is revealed, which is now a movie inside joke.

Dr. Necessiter: "Dr. Huffer?"
Dr. Hfuhruhurr: "It's pronounced Hfuhruhurr...The only time we doctors should accept death is when it's caused by our own incompetence."
Dr. Necessiter: "Nonsense. If the murder of twelve innocent people can help save one human life, it will have been worth it."

THE MAN WITH TWO BRAINS is a sci-fi comedy, a spoof of 1950's horror and cheap science fiction films. It parodies movies such as DONOVAN'S BRAIN (1953). Dr. Hfuhruhurr takes Anne's brain in a glass jar for a romantic boat ride, and puts wax lips on it so he can kiss it.

Steve Martin is in top form with his dry delivery and wry humour. His great performance of an unlikeable character makes this one of his funniest movies. He is the zany, off-beat "wild and crazy guy" from Saturday Night Live, rather than the refined and sophisticated Steve Martin in his later films. If you liked THE JERK (1979), you'll enjoy this.

Kathleen Turner is very good and sexy, and her character is reminiscent of SERIAL MOM (1994) and especially BODY HEAT (1981). David Warner, not famous for his comedy, is surprisingly funny as a crazy doctor. His huge condo apartment has the decor and space of a large castle.

The cast also includes: Richard Brestoff (Dr. Pasteur), George Furth (Timon), Peter Hobbs (Dr. Brandon), Earl Boen (Dr. Felix Conrad), Francis X. McCarthy (Olsen), Randy Brooks (Fran), Bernard Behrens (James Gladstone), Natividad Vacio (Ramon), Don McLeod (Dr. Schlermie Beckerman), Jeffrey Combs (Dr. Jones), Haunani Minn (Nurse Breen), Merv Griffin (as himself), and many others. Music is by Joel Goldsmith. The witty and inspired script was written by Steve Martin, George Gipe, and Carl Reiner--who also directed.

THE MAN WITH TWO BRAINS is a very funny slapstick farce that moves at a frantic fast pace. It's clever and silly with many sight gags, lots of jokes, and it is surely one of the most underrated comedies of all time. The mystery is why it made only $10 million at the box office and why it is not very well known. Rated R for profanity, violence, and nudity.

AMERICAN PIMP (2000) * * 1/3











AMERICAN PIMP is a documentary from the Hughes Brothers, who also directed MENACE II SOCIETY (1993) and DEAD PRESIDENTS (1995). It's disappointing for me because I've read excellent non-fiction books about pimps and prostitutes. However, most movie reviewers seem to like it.

Albert and Allen Hughes expose real life pimps by focusing on 30 black men who explain their experiences of living off the avails of the world's oldest profession. Coast to coast, they are quite similar and reveal themselves as misogynous capitalists. Pimping is often a family tradition, handed down from father to son, with rarely a retirement from the business.

The pimps are flamboyant, larger-than-life, cocky, confident, and charismatic. "Mack Daddies" have names such as: Filmore Slim, C-Note, Gorgeous Dre, Charm, Rosebud, K-Red, and Bishop Don Magic Juan. They speak the same words, constantly using "bitch" to describe their "ho's", and constantly say, "You know what I'm saying?", "Motherf***er", and "S**t". The pimps' attitude is,"A ho's a ho, you know? It's a once-a-month bleedin', pussy havin' ho. That's what she is. What else could she be?" Rosebud's strategy is to "steal a bitch's mind".

Some Quotes:
Kenny Red: "I'm a junky. S**t, I need money like a junky need heroin."
C-Note: "Priests need nuns, Doctors need nurses. So ho's need pimps."
Charm: "If a ho don't have instruction she's gonna be headed for self-destruction."
Rosebud: "If you're going to ban pimping because of violence, you're going to have to ban marriage, because more husbands have put their wives in graves than pimps have hos. There are bad pimps, but the majority aren't. I'm not a bad person just because I manipulate women. Dogs and children get manipulated all the time."

A few of the women are interviewed. They hustle hard every night, turn over all their earnings to the pimps, and steal anything they can from clients. We also meet a woman legally employed at a Nevada brothel, and her white legal pimp wants all prostitution legalized.

The Hughes Brothers use clips from "blacksploitation" pimp films such as THE MACK (1973) and WILLIE DYNAMITE (1974) to compare fantasy with reality. Their bleak view of the pimp subculture lacks objectivity and tends to glorify the parasitic and manipulative exploitation of women. It's entertaining at times, but frustrating and monotonous because of the little information provided.

The cast includes: John S. Dickson (Rosebudd), Antonio Fargas (Link Brown), Heidi Fleiss (herself), Hugh M. Hefner (himself), Dennis Hof (Himself), Bishop Don Magic Juan (himself), Rudy Ray Moore (Dolemite), Conan O'Brien (himself), Roscoe Orman (Willie Dynamite), Kenny Redd (K-Red), Todd Anthony Shaw (Too $hort), Clarence Sims (Fillmore Slim), Carol Speed (Lulu), Andre Taylor (Gorgeous Dre), Mel Taylor (himself), and others.

We never learn why prostitutes have pimps. Why are the strange, unattractive pimps appealing to the women? One says, "Well, hos just can't handle their money by themselves. I need to do it for them." Are pimps very well endowed? Not many answers from this film. I know because I've read about it in reputable books. You should do the same, and avoid this mostly depressing movie. However, it does show pimps in ways that cannot be found in books.

THE FAT SPY (1965) * *











THE FAT SPY is not a James Bond 007 parody, but a strange beach party teen exploitation flick with mediocre music. It's different from the AIP productions in that the adults are the primary characters and the teens are secondary. The film begins suddenly with two teenagers on a pier singing an acoustic rock song, "People Sure Act Funny When They Get A Little Money". Their performance is filmed and recorded live and goes on for too long. One of the turtlenecked longhaired teens plays guitar and the other plays harmonica. It abruptly ends and a cartoon-style opening credits starts with the bouncy title tune.

Off the coast of Florida is an island reputed to have the Fountain of Eternal Youth. A boatload of teenagers go there for a scavenger hunt. The island is owned by wealthy tycoon George Wellington (Brian Donlevy) who runs "The House of Wellington" cosmetics company. He disapproves of the young intruders and sends his daughter Junior Wellington (Jayne Mansfield) and her nerdy scientist lover Irving Gonjular (Jack E. Leonard) to stop them. He tells her, "Whoever those teenagers are, I want them driven back to the sea."

Irving's twin brother Herman, also played by Leonard, and his girlfriend Camille Salamander (Phyllis Diller) also go to the island with their own agenda. Herman is the "Fat Spy" of the title. Camille's real name is Rapunzel Fingernail. Herman lovingly admires Camille: "Ah, but your eyes, they're so beautiful. Where did you get those eyes?" Camille replies, "They came with the head." Camille beats her masochistic Sikh servant Punjab (Lou Nelson) with a riding crop.

When Junior discovers Camille and Herman's plan to steal the Fountain of Youth, she is tied to a huge machine in the basement. Camille says, "She knows too much, Herman. She must be destroyed...Get a bomb. A big bomb!" Herman replies, "When I turn this knob, her fate will be sealed and our secret wil be safe forever." Camille shoots back, "That knob? That's the air conditioning." There are subplots involving spies as well as the Fountain of Youth and the teenagers. Nanette (Lauree Berger) and Frankie (Jordan Christopher) are the equivalent of Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon and the young couple have a secret that is not revealed until the film's end.

Dodo Bronk (Johnny Tillotson) floats alone in a small inflatable boat, sings a song about loneliness, then meets blonde mermaid Naiomi (Toni Lee Shelly). "Lift up your tail" he says as he helps her into the boat. Later he is alone on the beach, sings a song, then hears the mermaid imploring him to join her. Dodo wades into the ocean, his fate unknown.

Herman sneaks Camille into the Wellington corporate headquarters to use the computer to find the location of the Fountain of Youth. The computer discloses that it is a twin-headed black rose. Herman and Camille eat a rose and turn into kids in diapers. Then the twist ending is revealed, involving the last rose and Frankie and Nanette. Irving looks into the camera and exclaims, "Boy, this is some picture."

The cast also includes: The Wild Ones (themselves), Penny Roman, Adam Keefe, Richard Green, Chuck Alden, Tommy Graves, Linda Harrison, Jeanette Taylor, Tommy Trick, Tracy Vance, Deborah White, and Eddie Wright. Music is by Chuck Alden, Jordan Christopher, Joel Hirschhorn, Hank Hunter, and Al Kasha. Mathew Andrews wrote the script and Joseph Cates directed.

File this movie under "So Bad It's Good". Turkey time! It is featured in the documentary THE 50 WORST MOVIES EVER MADE (2004). Barely released to theatres in 1966, it was rarely watched until the 1990's when it lapsed into the public domain and became readily and cheaply available. It will be enjoyed by lovers of camp and low budget B films. Others should avoid it, although it compares well with Beach Blanket type exploitation movies.

Jayne Mansfield's singing is not very good (but better than Diller's and Leonard's) when she sings, "I'd Like to be a Rose in Your Garden". Jordan Christopher backed by the Wild Ones is a decent singer. He sings, "Wild Way of Living", "People Sure Act Funny", and "Everyone Do the Turtle" (said to be the "slowest dance you'll ever do"). Stock film footage and vacuous lines such as "Gee, can I sing my song now?" fill the film and there are also dancing scenes with teenagers as well as Diller and Leonard. Comedienne Phyllis Diller is good. Jack E. Leonard is less so, unappealing, and tries too hard. Jayne Mansfield gives a good breathy dumb blonde performance.

FAT SPY was filmed in Cape Coral, Florida in June and July, 1965 on a lake that substituted for an ocean beach. The movie ends with promises of three sequels that were never made. Jayne Mansfield, a year before her death, was over five months pregnant with her fifth child (son Antonio Raphael Ottaviano aka Tony Cimber). Her pregnancy certainly changes her famous curvaceous figure. Mansfield is very beautiful with a gorgeous body, but her waist is not thin and it's distracting. She doesn't look pregnant or over-weight, but you can't help wondering why the pink goddess doesn't go on a diet or go to the gym.

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