Space Children: Jack Arnold Classic

DATELINE:  1958 Gem

brothersPlaying brothers: Johnny Crawford & Michel Ray

One of the great under-appreciated directors of the 1950s is largely forgotten now, Jack Arnold. Among his best known films are Creature from the Black Lagoon, It Came from Outer Space, The Incredible Shrinking Man and No Name on the Bullet. He transcended genre.

In 1958 he tried another science fiction flick that didn’t quite win the cult following of his earlier movies. That was his interesting examination of a space alien that puts mind control on kids in The Space Children.

Mind you: this was way before sweet E.T. and monstrous Children of the Damned took over the minds of juveniles.

It helped that Arnold was fearless with child actors. He simply found the best and let them play it. In this case he used Johnny Crawford, before the Rifleman, and Michel Ray, before Lawrence of Arabia. As brothers, they are as good as the Hardy Boys.

He also cast some of the well-known character actors of the era:  Raymond Bailey (of Beverly Hillbillies), Jackie Coogan (of Addams Family), and Russell Johnson (of Gilligan’s Island), as his adult problems for the kids.

Michel Ray is particularly effective with eyes that seem to presage Nick Hoult 60 years later. It’s Ray who has the ray-beam power to paralyze adults, through his alien host.

These kids are children of rocket scientists—and their mission is to sabotage their fathers’ prototype Star Wars missile program. Yes, this movie is a tad ahead of its time.

The film is subtle and not given over to the histrionics we have come to expect from puerile space movies.

Perhaps the title misled audiences: this was clearly a movie for adults to ponder, not to titillate the popcorn set.

This lost gem can be streamed on your viewing device and clocks in at 68 minutes: it’s a dreamy entertainment.

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Twin Peaks 3: Episode 14 Update

DATELINE:  We See Dead People

bowie

Late David Bowie With Early MacLachlan

If we have learned any lesson this season, it is there is no such thing as a spoiler in Twin Peaks 3.  David Lynch’s surreal series is moving toward its conclusion, and the old characters, however dead they may be, are still viable plot movers.

Old time fans will be glad they have hung on to the lunacy by this time. Lynch now has begun to weave clips of the original show, 25 years ago, into the new plot.

This episode featured old Lynch as FBI Director Cole recounting a dream to Miguel Ferrer as his assistant Albert. In it, we see dark-haired young Lynch in conversation with young, still-dark haired Kyle MacLachlan as Agent Cooper. Director Cole’s old partner and friend shows up from 25 years ago, and it is none other than the late David Bowie.

He is in a scene with the late Miguel Ferrer.

Dana Ashbrook is now on the Twin Peaks Police Force, and James Marshall is now a night watchman in the infamous Twin Peaks Hotel. There, he works with a British boy who looks like his son—and has been directed to Twin Peaks by cosmic forces to find his “destiny.”

Lynch continues to be a grand proponent of directing actors to stare blankly at each other. It is both insightful and hilarious. He does it best with Ferrer who notes the absurdity of the universe.

We now learn too the connection between missing agent Dale Cooper, his assistant Diane, and the weird counter-point of Naomi Watts as Mrs. Dougie Jones.

The episode is dedicated to the memory of David Bowie who probably wished he could return to reprise his role in this grandiose season.

Unsolved History: Death of Marilyn 1962

DATELINE: Carted Away

carted away

So long, Norma Jean

The old Discovery series holds up as a marvel of scientific accuracy. Take, for instance, their 2003 look at the strange circumstances surrounding the death of legendary actress Marilyn Monroe.

As the third episode of the second season, it may be worth your streaming download to put to bed all those conspiracy theories that she was murdered for threatening the Kennedy brothers (President and Attorney General) that she would reveal secrets about UFOs.

The episode brings together a witness from the original autopsy, a pharmacologist, and a forensic psychiatrist. It also pulls together a brilliant re-enactment and actual photo evidence.

Since the location of her death, a modest cottage in Los Angeles is now a parking lot, they build the room in which she saw her last minutes of life.

Using old mimeographed photos, as the originals are gone, they decorated the room to a minute detail: it was a stark, non-glamorous location filled with clutter. It had no decorations or artwork to express personality. It was the ultimate banal chamber of a drug addict without concern for the world.

Marilyn eschewed her usual sleeping pills and took just about all of Nembutal that she had purchased the day before.

Her body could have been re-arranged, or moved, but the series proved she locked the door—and went about her grim task.

One researcher insists that she was given drugs through an enema to kill her—but the show proved that the drugs would dissolve in her system within 20 minutes, time enough to put her out before death descended within an hour or so.

Occasionally one must view one of these historically and scientifically accurate episodes to sweep away the hysteria and legend.

In under one hour, History Unsolved resolves plenty.

Long Live King Kong

 DATELINE:  Still Kicking 85 Years Later

kong

 

If you want to be enchanted and taken back to childhood, the little documentary on the history of King Kong is pure escape and delight.

Kong! What an actor. They literally don’t make them like him anymore.

A bunch of Hollywood’s behind-the-scenes creative people were most influenced to go into the artistic end of movies because of their experience with the 1933 stop-action classic that still amazes and thrills nearly 85 years later.

Oh, yes, they have clips from all the major rip-offs and poor productions, which are somewhat enjoyable, but all the subsequent Kongs were dwarfed by the original.

There are anecdotes about people knowing Fay Wray over the years—and what a devotee she was to Kong, ever faithful to the ape who loved her.

Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake follows most closely as an act of love, updated, to pay homage to the Merriam C. Cooper version. The film omits the latest Kong movie called Skull Island, which features some interesting actors, all willing to play co-star to the big monkey.

Brady in Manhattan

There is no real answer as to why Kong remains beloved, despite the carnage he creates in New York for Carl Denham, the hilarious Robert Armstrong’s legendary performance as a rapacious movie producer.

Kong holds up as the eighth wonder of the world because the filmmakers managed to give a puppet all the range of emotions and powerful communication skills that are often missing in most action stars.

Long Live King Kong is certainly not the best documentary of the year, but it is one to most likely give you a smile of long-ago fun when monster movies defied your kid’s understanding of special effects and gave you mesmerizing appreciation for film.

 

Rebel in the Rye Catches Nicholas Hoult

DATELINE:  See You in September, Release Date

REAL SALINGER   hoult

Real J.D. Salinger and the Real Nick Hoult

If we were to pick our favorite recluses, J.D. Salinger is up there with B. Traven and Greta Garbo.

Now comes forth an intriguing film about the years before Jerome David Salinger went private-mad.

Nicholas Hoult has sent out a Facebook message about his new movie, Rebel in the Rye.

The handsome young British actor has perfected his American accent enough to go for playing a New York writer in the 1940s.

J.D. Salinger famously published but one novel and preferred the genre of short story and novella. Who can blame him? His greatest hit is titled Catcher in the Rye, which a few people have read over the past 60 years.

Salinger would never let Hollywood ever come near his cherished novel. And, they threw oodles of money at his feet, but he was adamant.

So, how would J.D. feel about a movie depicting his post-traumatic experiences in World War II as the backdrop for writing his “grand” novel. Heavens, Holden Caulfield would have a fit over calling his story grand.

And, boy, would he throw a fit over this movie! Privacy is certainly dead nowadays.

Nicholas Hoult is always fascinating to watch, but he may seem a touch different here. It’s the brown contact lenses to cover up those startling blue eyes that vaulted him to fame among devoted distaff viewers.

With Kevin Spacey as his demanding editor, Hoult’s Salinger comes across as chummy, not reclusive. Ah, youth.

The best we can give you at this point is a trailer. So here goes.

So here goes.

30 Days of Night: North to Vampires

DATELINE: Beautiful Josh Hartnett Alert!

 Josh Hartnett

Director David Slade gave us the pretty vampire of Robert Pattinson in that sugar-pop vampire series, but has turned in an uglier version with 30 Days of Night. Here in Barrow, Alaska, when the sun sets, the vampires have a long winter’s feast.

It’s a claustrophobic experience to be cut off from the rest of the world with an army of hungry vampires.

Josh Hartnett has never looked prettier in this 2007 movie, but he seems to fall apart, as the film proceeds, thanks to makeup effects. He’s the sheriff of a cold, little town in the northern most latitudes of the United States. He goes from clean-shaven to scraggy, to—well, we won’t say.

Most of the residents don’t have a clue what the plague is that is attacking them as night must fall.

These are Nosferatu Nasty vampires, led by black-eyed Danny Huston speaking some weird language of vampires, in sub-titles no less. Huston wins the creepy award.

As one of those pick’em off one by one movies, you watch the little town of 150 or so dwindle to a precious few.

Ben Foster starts things off in one of his patented creepy roles, but once those superhuman vamps start flying like flakes in a blizzard, you figure that the movie will be over in thirty minutes.

Humans are resilient—and fight back, rather hopelessly.

The film is a little different than you might come to expect from the genre, and that makes it highly watchable, despite the blood-letting.

This didn’t win any Oscars, but it might have entertained a few people over the years. We have discovered it later than it deserved. But, better late than never. Go north, vampire hunters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WordPress, Wherefore Art Thou?

DATELINE:  Biting the Hand That Feeds Us Tofu Turkey

Tofu   tofu turkey

Almost as juicy as our Tofu Turkey Award, we were just notified by WordPress that this is our seventh anniversary.

We almost expect the locust to descend upon our readers.

Every once in a while we realize that there are awards out there for blogs, but as Ella Fitzgerald used to sing, “But Not for Me….”

Yes, indeed, bloggers are writing songs of love, but not for me.

We heard there are real WordPress awards out there, but they are as mysterious as the Men in Black for us.

Fear not, fearless readers. We will continue for another seven years writing movie reviews on weird movies, pushing our bad books, and berating Tom Brady. If we are not mistaken, seven years is about the same length of time for those with bad luck when you break a mirror.

Thank you, WordPress, for reminding us.

 

 

Brandon DeWilde: Gone 45 Years Ago

DATELINE: Memories

Audie with Brandon DeWilde

Audie Murphy with Brandon on set of Night Passage

Forty-five years is a long time, no matter how old you are.

It is especially long when you think that young actor Brandon DeWilde died on a road in Denver that many years ago. He’s buried in East Farmingdale, New York.

Brandon is likely remembered as the little boy in the movie Shane who cried, “Come back, Shane, come back!” as the mysterious gunman kept on riding his horse into the clouds.

Our personal favorite movie with Brandon was Hud, though when he stood up to father figure John Wayne, his costar for In Harm’s Way, he gave another interesting performance. Challenging the man playing your father is not an easy trick when it’s the Duke.

Julie Harris starred on Broadway in 1950 and in the movie version of Member of the Wedding, largely forgotten nowadays, with Brandon as her little friend. She once told us in an interview that their bare feet would be so dirty after a stage performance of pretending to be outdoors in the Old South. For years afterward, he would greet her by announcing his feet were clean. She remembered him fondly as her costar on stage and in film.

Who didn’t adore Brandon?

He glowed in every performance, not like so many insipid child actors.

Brandon was such a scene stealer that, when he costarred with dangerous war hero Audie Murphy in Night Passage, he was knocked on his keester by Audie, wearing a black hat and black leather vest for this bad guy role, in one scene. Yes, it was in the script.

You could put Brandon up against Warren Beatty and Paul Newman—and he matched their intensity.

DeWilde is now a trivia piece of history for many movie fans. But his demise so long ago was a shock when it happened. He rode off into the clouds, leaving us to cry out, “Come back, Brandon. Come back.”

Alas, he can only do it in his marvelous movie roles.

 

 

 

Movie Gold = Blue Gold

DATELINE: Blue Denim without Brandon De Wilde

 blue gold

Though we expected this documentary to be frivolous, it turned out to be entertaining and smart.

Blue Gold: American Jeans tells the story of how the fashion-plate pants of the Old West have become a big business and an art form. Yes, you will regret having tossed out those moth-eaten old pair of blue jeans. They are worth thousands of dollars today.

Oh, the film traces the historical process of how jeans are made with indigo dye and rivets by Levi Strauss, or Lee, or Wrangler. You will surely learn how the business of fashionable jeans in America has gone to the Far East.

This little film compiles everything you want to know about blue jeans—from Calvins to Brooke Shields with nothing next to her. Every morsel of trivia about blue jeans is here. And, you can’t be much closer to a subject than how it fits and shapes your scrotum and ass.

Authentic blue jeans are indeed valuable, especially in Japan nowadays. Collectors travel the Midwest and Nevada to find old trunks with old trunks. You will not find many documentaries that will combine Bob Dylan, Bruce Lee, with Iggy Pop and James Dean.

It struck us that those looking for authentic jeans, worn by real workers years ago, are actually big phonies. They never worked for their jeans, but they paid thousands of dollars for the privilege of looking like blue collar types in their pantaloons.

With a main host who looks a great deal like John Goodman on a lark, the film will not make your butt look fat.

Directed with holes in the right places by Christian D. Bruun, the film is sheer delight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rita, Kim, & Frank: Pals of Joey

DATELINE:  Another Lost Classic

star power

From 1957 comes an overlooked musical from Rogers and Hart, based on a John O’Hara book. Pal Joey has top-drawer firepower with Kim Novak, Rita Hayworth, and Frank Sinatra.

Set in San Francisco with much location shooting, you will have a sense of what it was like in the Red Light district. Not a year later, Hitchcock would bring Kim Novak back to the setting for Vertigo.

Sinatra is in typecast form as the brash lounge singer who foists himself on whoever is handy. He downplayed what he didn’t like and made the character a version of himself. His dream is to have his own nightclub where he can sing and star. In the meantime, his two-bit hoodlum act wears thin on almost everyone, but he is a ladies’ man, as they used to say.

Sinatra could not have two better, bigger co-stars. Sinatra even gave Hayworth top billing as the “older woman.”  Mae West was originally considered for the role with Billy Wilder directing.

Rita Hayworth is on the cusp of middle-age and seems to be playing her patented Gilda a dozen years later. She is now a rich widow with a tainted show busy past. When Sinatra forces her to perform at a charity auction, she seems about ready to sing “Put the Blame on Mame,” and actually does a satiric number in which she strips off her gloves (both of them, this time).

Sinatra woos her for the start-up money for his lounge on Nob Hill—and voluptuous Kim Novak rises from the chorus to a featured singer and dancer.

Once the tunes start humming, you have a bunch of standards coming one after another: Sinatra sings “The Lady is a Tramp,” to Hayworth—and Hayworth sings “Betwitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” while Novak gives a sensitive rendition of “Funny Valentine.”

Sinatra even re-did the final fantasy dance scene with all three stars, which is sad because Rita Hayworth was a real dancer.

The film shines, despite changes orchestrated by producer Harry Cohn and Sinatra. It’s still classic crooner Sinatra.

Hurricane Clint Eastwood Downgraded to Breezy

DATELINE: Better to Stay Lost

breezy

In his third directorial effort, back in 1973, Clint Eastwood took up the challenge of a romantic comedy.  It probably sounded easier than he expected because he had William Holden, even aging and falling apart, as his charming, cynical leading man.

This atrocity is called Breezy, rhymes with easy, named after the hippie free spirit who haunts William Holden. It might have been more hilarious if Breezy was a teenage boy. But Clint doesn’t eat sweets.

However, the moribund script features one fantasy hippie girl who believed in free love of the era. Perhaps it was realistic back in the early 1970s in L.A., but Kay Lenz presents one of the most annoying, anachronistic versions of a promiscuous teenager we have seen in decades.

We cannot figure out why Holden’s well-to-do businessman didn’t toss this annoying and cloying girl out on her keester when she first appears to panhandle and try to con him. Are all men victims of their sex drive?

That Holden falls in love with her seems to stretch credulity for a character who never has fallen in love with any woman.

On top of all this, we are then faced with the embarrassments of May-December romance being denigrated by every other character Holden knows in the movie script. Really, Clint?

We almost hoped Holden would turn into Dirty Sex Harry and shoot the whole lot of slut hustlers. Of course, it’s not that kind of film, alas.

If the saccharine hippie girl isn’t enough to rot the script, you have an overlay of Michel Legrand music. Apparently, Clint gave himself plenty of challenges to overcome. You may drown in movie sweetness, not typical Eastwood.

Clint fans knew better than the novice director—and ran away from this clinkeroo. This was not even a good character-driven story, though you can see how Eastwood wants to develop it. The film wastes William Holden– and Eastwood too.

Many critics in hindsight think this was Clint’s most “personal” film. We doubt it. He was still learning his craft by directing in an unusual setting and genre.

Destroying the film negative might be a better challenge to undertake. Clint likely chose to ignore the movie as time passed as an experiment in directing. This movie is a freak of his oeuvre.

Who Was Heath Ledger?

DATELINE:  No Answers in I am Heath Ledger

 heath

Derik Murray has put together a series of “I am..” documentaries. They are intimate, unflinching, and hypnotic films about subjects with charisma and cult interest. Something went wrong along the way on this one called I am Heath Ledger.

So it is not surprising to find Heath Ledger being given the mythic figure treatment. He is no James Dean because he was filled with joie d’vivre and was a man with a cause and a mission.

Ledger said openly that he was on a mission to push his artistic feelings to the limit. He surrounded himself with his Australian friends from boyhood as an entourage for the most part, but there were no naysayers in the bunch. There was also no one to help him discipline himself. He was brilliant, a chess prodigy and potential major film director.

Going without sleep and pushing his physical limits, Heath Ledger was a whirling dervish of inspired talents. He was into music and film in particular, but showed unlimited artistic abilities. He took endless videos of himself, almost each snippet a movie in miniature. He was observing and teaching himself what reactions worked in a role.

He managed to improve with each role, but seemingly his happy demeanor hinted at a less satisfying deeper sense. His marriage fell apart, and he increasingly covered his beautiful body with tattoos. He used himself as a laboratory for life.

He spoke that he had limited time, like so many music and movie legends who went beyond before age 30. Was he prescient, or just a workaholic?

Heath left several stunning performances in Brokeback Mountain and The Dark Knight, but his colleagues do not line up to appear in this film tribute—only family and close friends are anguished and full of love.  Naomi Watts and Ang Lee speak about him, but the film turns on the achievements of his friends, rather than on Heath finally.

The spin of final repeated clips at the end of the documentary without words may be more telling as the film seems to spin away too.

 

 

TB12’s A-M DB 11

DATELINE: Tom Brady to Carpool to Work?

TB12's A-M DB 11

Just when you thought it was safe to drive to work during the early morning commute, you learn that Tom Brady is having a custom-made Aston-Martin fitted to his own design specifications.

This sort of transportation transcends the Mini-Cooper and even our own BMW.  Aston Martin will pay Brady some unspecified amount to endorse their low-budget $212,000 cars (options extra).

This certainly makes Peyton Manning’s pizza deal of a lifetime of pepperoni look like anchovies under glass.

In a world of have nots and Trump-level billionaires, Tom Brady is casting his lot with the X-press Way of La Dolce Vita. He will not be allowed to commute to Foxboro from Brookline in the express lane unless he carpools with Julie E.

We don’t see that happening. Julian Edelman lives in Foxboro, not toney Brookline.

A friend of ours met Tom some years ago when he was not far removed from being a sixth round draft pick.

He and my friend met at one of those Cape Cod charity events when Tom watched as our friend had his red MB SLK 320 roof slide into the back seat.

Tom was agog, and said: “I need to get one of those.”

How times have changed.

He can now afford three of those Mercedes to one Aston Martin DB 11.  When Tom pushes a button on his new A-M, the entire car folds into the back seat.

And we were going to tell him to buy Aaron Hernandez’s used assassin 4-Runner Deathmobile SUV for sentimental reasons. He’s outdone us again.

 

 

 

 

Tom Brady’s Secret Plan to Play Ten More Years

DATELINE: I’ve Got a Secret or To Tell the Truth?

Featured image

Will the Real Tom Please Stand Up?

Tom Brady has consulted a great oracle of fame and immortality this week. He did it by communing with the dead author of “The Canterbury Ghost,” a short ditty written by his new mentor: Oscar Wilde.

And, Oscar Wilde told him he can play for ten more years. Not even Josef Stalin went for ten years; he always stuck with five year plans.

However, Brady must keep that courtroom sketch from the Deflategate controversy hidden in his attic. All the ills of his life, aging, and negative feelings will transfer to the picture. While it grows more monstrous in his vault of shame, Tom will continue to look the picture of health and beauty.

That New York artist and Jets fan Jane Rosenberg will probably be at the Meadowlands, trying to sell him another vision of the future.

Tom Brady may not be young enough to know everything, but he has started to become wiser with his fortieth birthday around the corner.

If he plays for ten more years, as he himself wished on Wednesday, he may morph into a Thriller style zombie on the lines of George Blanda—or at least Brett Favre.

Years ago novelist Tom Tryon (a former movie star) wrote his famous book called Fedora in which a stunning movie queen kept her looks and talents for forty years on the silver screen. Her beauty secret could be the one Tom has in the works for ten years from now. At that point, his youth and vigor will be astonishing, renewed, and a bizarre scandal if ever discovered.

We know the secret of Tom’s ten-year plan—and we aren’t talking, lest he put a curse on us.