Random Film of the Week: Corruption


 

As mad scientist flicks go, Corruption is something of a forgotten classic in its own crazy manner. You get the great Peter Cushing out of his usual period piece horrors playing a successful plastic surgeon in a more modern 60’s setting, some surprisingly shocking (by mid 60’s standards) content and a laser gone haywire in a finale that may elicit some chuckles from forward thinking Star Wars fans. If you’ve ever wanted to see Cushing go full-tilt, over the top into scenery chomping territory, this one won’t disappoint one bit. While there are some slow expository moments here, the overall film is an interesting slice of horror that while not wholly original, ends up being pretty memorable on a few fronts.

(Thanks, groovemaster!)
 

After the swingin’ credit sequence, we meet Cushing’s Sir John Rowan and his pretty younger fiancée Lynn (Sue Lloyd) at a pretty raucous party. While the good doctor struggles with the mingling, Lynn, who just so happens to be a model, is in the middle of an impromptu photo shoot when Rowan rushes up to stop the snapping away before his squeeze loses all her clothes. Before you can say “Watch out for that hot studio lamp!”, Rowan accidentally knocks said lamp over and it lands on poor Lynn, burning half her face. Ouch! Fortunately, she’s engaged to a very capable plastic surgeon, right? Unfortunately, conventional surgery won’t work this time, so Rowan decides to use Lynn as a guinea pig to try out a little something he’s been working on in secret.

If you’ve seen Georges Franju’s Les yeux sans visage (Eyes Without A Face), you can probably guess things up to a point, For everyone who hasn’t, Répétez après moi, s’il vous plaît:

“What could POSSIBLY go wrong?”(dot dot dot) Continue reading

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Planet of the Apes Back on the Big Screen: Not Hard to Fathom At All

Image from impawards.com

Image from impawards.com

 


I think I’ve mentioned this before, but in case you haven’t read that old post, 1968’s Planet of the Apes was the very first movie I saw in a theater. That said, I’m not sure I’ll go to this Fathom Events screening thanks to my backlog keeping my plate full. But to anyone seeing this for the first time or for the first time on a big screen, my glass is raised that your sense of wonder gets the same kick mine did those many years back. If YOU do end up going and are reading this, feel free to drop on by and leave impressions. It’s always fun to hear how modern moviegoers see the classics.

Random Film of the Week: The Pirate

The Pirate MPEvery movie fan (this writer included) has a case of “Hollywood Blinders” they slap on for certain films they love because without them, thinking of anything abnormal taking place behind the scenes ruins much or all of a particular movie’s strengths. This little review just so happens to be about one of those films some outright adore while others don’t take to it all that well.

While its comic book colors and highly exuberant performances make Vincente Minnelli’s 1948 musical The Pirate a mostly to extremely fun to watch slice of Hollywood entertainment, it’s the behind the scenes stuff that makes the film somewhat problematic as a classic one can fully enjoy unless you ignore certain elements. For this particular film, those Hollywood Blinders take the form of an eye patch (or bandanna or even a big felt pirate hat if you like watching your colorful, imperfect musicals with two working eyeballs).

The pairing of Gene Kelly and Judy Garland should have been a wonderful one and in fact is when the film hits most of its high marks. But thanks to the studio system’s lousy treatment of her from the beginning of her career, Garland’s star was far from shining bright during the troubled production. The results are amusing and impressive at times, but it’s also a somewhat flawed film with a too quick finale that pops in as if the cameras were running out of film and something needed to get shot or someone had to walk the plank.

(thanks, SuperVintageCinema!) 

Garland’s assorted troubles (including a nervous breakdown that kept her off set for an extended period) thankfully don’t show up in the finished product. But it’s clear that the wide-eyed gal next door who played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz less than ten years previously was a wider-eyed and far more troubled soul on a downward spiral to a much shorter life than she deserved. Toss in a fantastic Gene Kelly dance sequence with The Nicholas Brothers that seemingly got them pushed out of the movies (and Hollywood) for a few years too long and you end up with a film best seen with those Hollywood Blinders on. Nice and tight, now.  So, buckle your swash and slap on that eye patch, folks. There’s a storm a-brewin’ on the shooting stage and you’re getting shanghaied and strapped into your seats for a wild ride… Continue reading

Book Review: Film Noir 101: The 101 Best Film Noir Posters from the 1940s-1950s

Film Noir 101 Fantagraphics
 

Thanks to a colorist probably following instructions to the letter about the use of the color red, Both Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall wear lipstick on the poster to The Big Sleep. The poster for White Heat almost looks like the one for the aforementioned film. Edward G. Robinson’s face is Hulk green in the poster for Scarlet Street. Richard Widmark doesn’t even appear on the poster to Kiss of Death, but in the one for Night and the City he looks as if he’s doing a “jazz hands, down!” pose. You miss these details when poking around online for some classic film posters, but in Fantagraphic’s beautiful Film Noir 101: The 101 Best Film Noir Posters from the 1940s-1950s, all you see is some amazing poster art for arguably some of the best film noirs of the era. Film Historian Mark Fertig has compiled quite a healthy list of films and their respective one-sheets here and the big 10.75″ x 14.25″ hardcover book will thrill film fans while possibly promoting a bit of discussion about some of the choices among others. Continue reading

“That Handsome Man” Passes: So Long, Mr. Sharif


 

I’m smiling a bit through this latest gloomy news because I can recall many years back sitting in a diner eavesdropping on a rather amusing conversation between two older ladies chatting about movies with part of the chatting being about actors they’d get swoon-y over. Omar Sharif’s name came up and one of the gals got a bit carried away, saying “Oooooh, that handsome man! I’d keep him tied up with my stockings for DAYS!” Yikes. Well, I had to make a mad dash from my booth behind them into the restroom to have a big laugh and of course, those ladies were cracking up when I returned because they knew why I scooted away. When some guys say stuff like that in a far different tone, it’s usually not a good thing. But two ladies of a certain age dressed in their Sunday best? They get a welcome and well-deserved pass. Anyway, goodbye, Omar – you’ll me missed but your best work will live on forever.

A Few Too Few Words About Christopher Lee…


 

Another light goes out and if you knew the man’s rather astounding body of work it was one of the brightest lights you’d ever seen. While he was known primarily for his work in the horror genre, the late Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee was so much more than a one-note performer. Whether or not you liked some of the films he appeared in, he always gave his best even in the worst “B” flicks (Castle of Fu Manchu, anyone?). Some of us recall his films made with the late, great Peter Cushing (I’m partial to Horror Express) while younger viewers will know him from his work in The Lord of the Rings and a few Star Wars films.

I’d pick The Wicker Man (above) as my favorite Lee film because it’s a great flick that challenges viewers who come in expecting a standard horror tale. It’s a surprisingly intelligent genre film that works on a few levels and seeps into your bones for about a week or so after viewing. Go track it down (and don’t bother at all with the horrible remake) along with a few other Lee classics. I’m sure Turner Classic Movies will be running a marathon of his work shortly. But if you’re a film fan with room in your library you should think about adding a few of the man’s always re-watchable works to your collection.

WATCH THIS: Nothing Lasts Forever… Unless It’s on TCM!

Nothing Lasts Forever MP 

Finally, one of the bucket list 80’s film for many folks my age is coming to TV legally and I couldn’t be happier. Well, I actually COULD be happier if TCM was showing Nothing Lasts Forever at a more sane hour. For a big premiere of a film many have desired seeing on the big screen, that 2am (EST) start time just made me say, “really?” out loud when I found out. Which was funny because I was at the library and when I said that, two guys who were talking next to me thought I was referring to the conversation they were having that I didn’t hear. Oops.

Okay, not that I’m not a complete night owl at times (all my candles have wicks on either end), but come on now. Still, this bodes well if the damn film also nets a DVD/Blu-Ray release at some point in the near future. Or at the very least, more and earlier showings on TCM. Here’s a fan-made trailer from a few years back just to pique your interest in case you’re wondering what I’m gushing about:

(thanks, mpjstreeter!)
 

I’m not sure if they track their ratings as obsessively as network stations do, but I’m betting a lot of people will be staying up later than usual to catch this. The other upside to all this is if you still happen to be awake and giddy afterwards, you can sit through John Carpenter’s 1981 classic, Escape From New York, which amusingly enough fits the theme of the previous film, albeit in a more comically violent manner. Anyway, I’ll put on some coffee as soon as I walk in the door, maybe do a few push-ups and jump into the shower to keep awake. I was up late into the morning today (see my previous post) and had forgotten the film was on later today, er, tomorrow morning. Fear not, dear readers – I’ll be awake to see it in its entirety. My Sunday may either be spent half asleep for the better part of the morning or wishing I could see the movie again because I missed something.

MGM had better come through with a home video release at some point. I’m betting a lot of people will be replacing bootlegs with a better version that will hopefully have some decent special features.

TCM Remembers: It’s Been A Year of Falling Stars…


 

Hmmm. These TCM tributes are getting longer and harder to watch as the years zip by and we lose a few more stars. Yes, it’s not complete, but that can be rectified with a bit of creative calendar juggling. I suppose the thing about starting a new year fresh is big with too many people that changing this tribute’s air date to January would be seen as sacrilege to many. But at least this would insure they got in everyone including actors whose films would probably never be shown on the channel. Okay, I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have a job programming content for a cable channel. All you’d get would be old “B” movies you’ve never seen (or haven’t seen for decades), silly comedies from around the world, oddball random cartoons and the occasional documentary.

Finally Friday: Let Cary Show You Some Moves For That New Year’s Party…


 

Other than a clip here and there over the years, I’d actually never seen all of Stanley Donen’s 1958 film Indiscreet until a few days back when I was up late stressing over some stuff. Yeah, the kitchen and other major repair jobs that are needed but seem to be hard to impress on the folks who run this place about how urgently they need to get taken care of. Bleh. Anyway, it’s an interesting and not quite perfect film about a woman (Ingrid Bergman) who thinks she’ll never find love who ends up falling for a man (Cary Grant) who she thinks is married. There’s more and a twist or three, but I’ll let you track this down and watch it if you’ve yet to, as it’s a fun film to wile away some time.

I’d have to say this dance sequence was the funniest thing I’d seen in a while at that hour of the morning, as I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t sleep afterwards thanks to the scene replaying itself in my head a few times. While I knew that Grant could hoof it like a maniac when he needed to in his earlier films, I didn’t think he did any fancy dancing this late in his career. That, and the scene is played entirely for laughs and gets them even when seen in that out of context clip above. Anyway, study those moves well and use them at that New Year’s party you’ve been invited to. I’d bet those steps work with any modern uptempo beat and I’d also bet that someone’s going to try and out-step you at some point on that dance floor. Of course, if they’re not in on the gag and have never seen this film, they’ll look a lot more foolish than you do, that’s for sure…

You’ll Find Out: Yet Another Oddball Film I Need to See!

(Thanks, Sleaze-O-Rama!)
 

You'll Find Out_MPHa. I’d never heard of this 1940 comedy until about a month ago when someone asked me if I’d seen it. I hadn’t, noted to myself to look it up and forgot about it thanks to the stupid time I’ve been having on a few fronts keeping me from being very much entertained. Anyway, in my inbox this afternoon was the trailer above and I got pulled right into wanting to know more.

What a cast! Boris Karloff, Béla Lugosi, Peter Lorre… and Kay Kyser & his band? Yeah, I laughed a lot at the casting here. And if I’m not mistaken, the band and bandleader are the heroes here. Oh, this one’s going on the “gotta watch it!” list for sure. Well, I’m gathering I’ll need to haunt TCM and see when it turns up again. It’s usually the case when I hear about an oldie like this they have in their library that it runs less than a week or so later. Mood lightened considerably? You betcha.