Not-So Random Film of the Week: Way of the Dragon/Return of the Dragon

Hey, look! it’s that time of the month again – you know, when us guys get together and do the usual, but in public and with way too many people watching (well, hopefully). Yes, it’s time for an all-new (but not very much improved) installment of…

(theme song plays):

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If you did NOT hear a theme song, let me know. I paid some guy on eBay a pretty penny for a theme song. Hmmm… I think I need to stay off eBay for a while…

This month’s other entries can be found at Mike’s Take on the Movies, The Cinema Monolith, and Wolfman’s Cult Film Club, so go get reading (you’ll need your own popcorn and beverage of choice, though).

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A bit of misleading marketing copy here thanks to this getting a US release after Lee’s unfortunate demise and Enter The Dragon popping up in theaters first in the States.

If my fading memory is correct, the first martial arts flick I’d ever seen was Way of the Dragon (or Return of the Dragon) sometime in the mid 70’s on a black and white TV, either on WOR or WPIX, I believe.  It was pretty horribly dubbed from what I recall, but then again, so were way too many foreign films of all genres from what I can remember.  That version was what I saw as “definitive” in my youth until I finally heard from a few friends in the late 80’s that I’d probably want  to see it in its original language. That took a while, as I finally got around to seeing a cut of the Cantonese/Mandarin version with English subtitles about 10 years back and it made for a much better experience.

As a kid, I didn’t pay close attention to dubbing other than cracking up at the way the mouths moved while wondering how those actors onscreen often said the dopiest things. As I grew older and gained more knowledge about films and the dub/sub process, I saw that more often than not, bad dubbing was the result of rewriting dialog and trying to fit those words into the mouths of whichever actor was speaking lines. Granted, Bruce Lee’s first complete work as a writer/director/producer isn’t exactly going for the gold on the scripting front, but it works far better when you see how Lee uses the language barrier as a major part of the film’s plot.

(Thanks, fortunestarmedia!)

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On Storytelling: 30 Seconds or Bust

So, yep, I’ve been a bit unwell these past few days, but things are looking up. Or rather, I’m looking up at the ceiling earlier this morning and remembering “Oh yeah, I have a lot of writing to do!” as assorted creaks and groans emanate from under the covers. If one’s body is supposed to be a temple, mine is the heart-wrenching (ow) Temple of Doom, minus the fun but deadly mine cart stage. Oh, it used to be there and a hell of a ride it was (a regular E Ticket experience, whee!). But you know how things fall apart over time? Well, that part dropped into the lava about ten days ago and along with all the King’s horses and most of his men. It’s so NOT good to be the King when this sort of thing happens, but we push on. When the going get tough, the tough… kinda go back to bed for a wee bit.

Anyway, as a quick writing exercise as well as a tick towards some much needed humor, I’ve decided to practice on an unwilling audience this form of torture that I hope you appreciate (whipcrack!). Well, it’s not as bad as it sounds (hopefully).

(Thanks, James Bond 007!)

Now, pay attention.

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Trilogy of Terror: Your Triple Case of Nightmare Fuel TV is Here

As I’m er, vintage enough to have been around to see it when it premiered back in 1975, it’s just great to see Dan Curtis’ Trilogy of Terror getting a snazzy 4K version and unleashed on the masses by Kino Lorber. This flick put me in a sleepless zone for a while, but it also became one of my favorite scary films that’s lingered in the memory in terms of nailing a particular set of moods and generating a superb amount of tension.

While I kind of wish this restoration would have included Curtis’ nowhere as impressive 1996 followup, Trilogy of Terror II, I’ll take what’s here for the pure scare factor and still somewhat timely Richard Matheson stories. Kino sadly has no new trailer up, but this tiny snippet from the final episode of the anthology, “Amelia” is all you need to know about what’s coming your way when you place that order. The rest of what’s on the disc is listed below the jump.

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Burt Reynolds: Last Train Out For The 1970’s Man’s Man

I’d (way too) old enough to still remember seeing Burt Reynolds appear on Dan August way back in 1970-71 and liking the show just for the rather dynamic opening of Burt doing all those stunts (and that catchy title theme):

 

(Thanks, The Rap Sheet!)

 

Amusingly enough, I was also watching Mannix over on CBS back then and yep, both shows were cut from the same (and literal) rough and tumble Quinn Martin cloth. meaning they were reliably action-packed and very guy focused (although both Mike Connors and Burt clearly had appeal to anyone hooked into those shows). I still recall in school one day some fearless (but none to bright) kid tried to copy that floor slide Burt did in the opening only to find out the laws of physics and a non-waxed floor made for a painful-looking science lesson. Hey, I got a laugh out of that foolishness, so it was all good.

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I read Burt said this was his favorite film. I heartily agree. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth the watch.

I didn’t see any of Burt’s movies until John Boorman’s brutal, brilliant Deliverance popped up in heavily edited form (I think on ABC) and yes, I was creeped out big time by it, but it also became a favorite flick whenever it aired. Now, I wasn’t one to follow all of his work, but much of everything I saw was well made and Burt always came off as a pretty cool cat. Even in his more dramatic work up to a point, he did quite okay portraying an interesting variety of characters. I liked his work on Sharky’s Machine a lot because the film works as both cop drama and intentionally amusing dark comedy. yeah, Burt was a pretty decent director, too. Foo. I hate writing these posts because it’s hard to put words into proper sentences when one’s mind is racing like a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am about to clear a huge jump. Go watch a Burt flick at some point, I say. Pick a good one.

-GW

TCM Remembers 2017: Sunset Blvd. Or: Land of the Lost

 

At some point, I actually stopped keeping track of all the entertainment industry deaths this year because it was getting too depressing. I just watched this clip earlier this afternoon and my brain is still spinning inside my skull. Yes, there are some people not included in this list (including a few who recently passed away within the last week). But it’s been one of those long years where the tendency to get overwhelmed by both expected and sudden demises is only a tiny percentage of the stress one has to deal with. Everyone here will be missed, but not forgotten as long as their work remains and there are people who preserve and share it for future audiences to appreciate.

-GW

Random Films of the Week: Some Clock Cleaning Before Things Go Cuckoo

Hey, it’s not Friday, but it may be by the time I complete this post. Anyway, here’s a few more films I finally sat down and watched. It stinks not having a flick watching partner to bounce things off of, but so it goes. I suppose a resolution can be made to rectify that, but you all know that sort of pressure makes for an often crappy time when you go rubbing lamps hoping for the correct results (he noted, cackling madly). Anyway, some of these were screeners, a few were bought for the library and almost all come recommended for assorted reasons.

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Suture – It’s a gimmick film with one huge gimmick, but it’s a good one and writer-directors David Siegel and Scott McGehee do a decent Hitchcock riff on a few fronts with this thriller/mystery mash-up. Shot in glorious black and white with a solid as a rock cast, this is one of those indie films that packs a wallop and isn’t afraid to use your brain as its target. The interesting thing is the film also works without the gimmick as a pure thriller, so you can indeed re-watch this and see it from a different perspective.

I saw this a few times in theaters back in 1993 and later on cable and it still works as a great little film worth tracking down. Arrow Video’s restoration job is great and you get way too many bonus features that make this an automatic buy right out of the gate.

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Take A Good Look Coming to DVD in October

Take A Good Look DVD Ooh, this one’s been a long time coming, but if you like to laugh it up significantly and like old TV (or hey, just want to see something more fun than the usual modern reality junk), well here you go. Okay, so you have to wait until October, but that’s not too far away, right? Right.

Ernie Kovacs: Take A Good Look – The Definitive Collection is now up for pre-order on Shout Factory with the first 1000 copies getting an exclusive bonus disc, Ernie Kovacs: Private Eye, Private Eye. If you’re new to Kovac’s work, you’re in for a real treat. The man did so much to elevate comedy that it’s astounding he only did about ten years worth of work before his untimely death in 1962.

Hmmm… I smell a short press release… it’s minty!
 

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Take A Good Look – The Definitive Collection is now set for release on October 17! This DVD set is the third box set of Ernie Kovacs amazing body of television work (1952 -1962) to be released over the better part of this decade. All 49 existing episodes of Kovacs cockeyed and offbeat gameshow are presented here, fully restored and digitized by the Library of Congress.

Take A Good Look hosted an eclectic mix of guest stars, such as my mom (!), performer Edie Adams, writer/director Carl Reiner, the glamorous Zsa Zsa Gabor, comedian Mort Sahl, Our Gang’s Jean Darling, chess world champion Bobby Fischer, Major League Baseball’s Rogers Hornsby, White House Butler Alonzo Fields, Los Angeles Dodgers Chuck Essegian and Don Drysdale, Hawaiian Congressman Daniel Inouye, Miss America 1959 Mary Ann Mobley, several Olympic athletes, and many mor

-GW

Goodbye, Mr. Warmth

(Thanks, paratrip!)
 

I don’t remember the first time I saw the late, great Don Rickles on TV, but if it was a comedic appearance, I laughed my ass off. I think it was one of his appearances on an episode of The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast from 1974, but I think it may have been a few years earlier thanks to X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes airing on what I think was WPIX’ late, great Chiller Theater. Anyway, Don was the master of perfectly timed insults, the Prince of the Putdown, The Man You Went To See When You Needed To Be Taken Down A Few Notches And Wanted To Pay For The Privilege Of Being Insulted By The Best. Period. That sort of insult comedy was a great deal bigger back when Rickles was playing the circuit, when people were less triggered and more willing to laugh at themselves thanks to a man who could peg you with zingers, moving onto the next lucky or unlucky sap who dared to sit too close to the stage. Don made it work because you knew he was a total pussycat off stage, but once he got up to perform, all bets were off and if he singled you out, you’d better be prepared for the worst with an entire room full of people laughing at you.

(Thanks, ann turkel!)
 

Watching him in these old clips still makes me laugh loudly and that’s the best medicine for pretty much anything that ails you. I recall working for a guy many moons ago who was a bit of a stingy sourpuss, yet he paid good money to see Don live a few times around the country. Let me tell you, his mood was so much lighter after he returned that he was quite the nicest guy on the planet for a few days. I got a random raise once after one of his trips to see Rickles perform, apparently thanks to an ugly tie I’d given him as a birthday gift and a guy and his wife seated next to him who wanted to switch seats at the last minute. So I own an indirect thanks to the funnyman for getting me more money at one point in my life. Thanks, Don, er… Mr. Rickles. I’d probably not know what to say to the man if I ran into him at Patsy’s here in NYC, but I understand that he was pretty good with fans who approached him. Off stage, he was still a big prankster with his close friends, but treated regular folk just right.

(Thanks, KUSH Comedy!)
 

Now, you probably don’t need to buy both seasons of CPO Sharkey on DVD if you need a Rickles fix (although you should, as it was quite a hilariously wacky show for the era. My suggestion is to grab a copy of the 2007 documentary Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project for a nice and hilarious look at the man at work. Yes, he also did a few dramatic performances and of course, younger folks will remember him as the voice of Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story movies. I’ll stop here because I need some laughs, and Don would probably give me one of those looks and lay into me something fierce for trying to be too damn sentimental.

-GW

Sporty Sport Sport Stuff, Humor Edition

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Nope, I did not watch the big bootfall game last night (ask me about the NFL and you get this as a response), but seeing a GIF on Twitter of Goo Gaga leaping at some point last night took me right out of my bad mood and made me laugh for a good few minutes straight. Gal’s got more balls than both teams combined on and off the field.

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Clearly, the Lady herself must have been thinking of A few of the Mission Impossible movies as inspiration, or that’s my excuse for her acrobatics that came off better live than some movie stunts with overworked CG artists trying too hard over-exaggerating action in that way that never quite looks right.

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I ended up watching the whole routine later and being surprised it worked as well as it did. I’m not sure what Tom Cruise was doing last night, but I’d bet if he were near a TV, he was either grinning like crazy or going crazy because Gaga’s act will be the one talked about until he decides to jump off another building in whatever he works on next. J.J. Abrams’ phone was probably ringing off the hook before the halftime show was half done.

Back in a bit – been nursing some gloom for a bit, but I think I got some mojo back…

-GW

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Star Trek TV Series Teaser: That NEW Final Frontier, A Minus For Those Who Can’t Stream


 

Um, Warp Factor ZERO on CBS for what seems to be a great idea on one hand, but a LOUSY one for people who don’t like to or can’t stream content to their homes. Apparently, the premiere episode will indeed be shown on your local CBS affiliate here in the U.S. of A., but after that, the show will ONLY going to appear as a part of CBS All Access, a paid channel similar to HBO GO. Ugh. As you can imagine, some are quite cranky about this. Me, I kind of hope the realization that the MORE people who can watch this show from the get-go means it finds an audience WITHOUT piracy to get more people watching than actually paying to see this. Yeah, yeah, I know the excuses for the pro-piracy crowd and how that activity can drive up viewership in some cases.

But in this particular case? I don’t think it’s a good idea to try and get more money from people just because you have a hot new show and a showrunner who’s done great things in the past. For many who want to see this legally and on what they already use, they may all be singing this little ditty (just roll with it. I know full well the old crew isn’t in this new show!):

(Thanks, Chris Carothers!) 

That and I’d bet Gene Roddenberry would want his stellar trekking vision free to all interested parties within eyesight of ANY sort of viewing device. Then again, the teaser promising among other things, “New Villains” along with that slow-motion planet cracking stuff may mean (SPECULATION ALERT!) that the new Trek will be more action-oriented for the shorter, easily bored attention spans these days.

I sure hope the hell not, though.

GW

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