Thursday, March 27, 2014
Big news for and from yours trashly...
I podcast now, I guess?
Yeah, you can head over to Geek Fallout right now and give the latest episode [#51] a listen, and you'll totally hear me overuse the word "like" way too much and speak fondly about the Phantasm series and Krang, the Evil Warlord of Dimension X. The best part is that I'm not alone in this new endeavor. Miss M joins me as we suit up to become the latest co-hosts for the weekly program, along with pod-caster extraordinaire [and fellow League-member!] ChrisLoc from Random Nerdness. Seriously, the guy runs like eighteen different podcasts and is super-nice. I'm not sure how he does it.
Geek Fallout co-founder, Rich, appears in the "fourth chair" as we discuss the latest news in the worlds of film, television, comics and technology. And to wrap things up, we each share our Top 5 Villains from '80s Cartoons lists, which are sure to thrill TransFans and Bronies alike.
Please go check it out [if you don't already], and feel free to leave comments/concerns/insults here to like, break my spirits and spare us all another episode of my crazy ramblings and tired lisping.
And don't worry, all. Even though I'm now a world-famous internet personality, I would never abandon you. I'll be back soon-ish with loads of VHS and my in-depth thoughts on Season 4 of Night Court.
Welcome to the Wasteland.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Heaven Can Wait, released August 11, 1943.
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch.
Starring Gene Tierney, Don Ameche and Charles Coburn.
PETER BOGDANOVICH SAYS:
"One of the master's most wonderful and representative films, one that should be seen by anybody who craves real quality or needs to be convinced that there has been a general dumbing down of our popular entertainment, is Lubitsch's penultimate film. Appropriately, the 1943 Techniolor production HEAVEN CAN WAIT is a look at the inevitability of death and a meditation on the rewards and punishments of the afterlife, all part of a funny and profoundly human chronicle of an unimportant man's life."
THE TRASH MAN SAYS:
A wonderful, charming and poignant look at growing old and mortality.
Henry van Cleeve (Don Ameche) finds himself at the Gates of Hell, face-to-face with His Excellency, arguing not why he should be spared an eternity of brimstone and hellfire, but instead why he should be admitted. The only way he knows how is to tell the tale of his life; which he begins as a spoiled, pampered child of privilege; bribing young girls with beetles and sipping champagne with his family's French-maid. Oh, and at twenty-six, he steals away his cousin's fiance, Martha (Gene Tierney), running off to elope on the very same day they met.
Love, in the truest sense of the word, manages to change Henry from a womanizing cad to a loyal husband and father. But there's still a lingering presence of his former silver-tongued self, which begins to emerge more and more as his hair begins to grey and his tummy begins to grow. Despite the occasional missteps, however, Martha stands by her husband's side.
Until the day she dies.
Leaving poor Henry alone with his son, Jack, and eventually his son's wife. Nearly two decades pass by in a flash, giving us only a few glimpses into the loneliness and pathos of a man who has always had a difficult time with growing older and his eventual demise. Perhaps it's because he feels like he deserves an eternity in Hell, away from the people who he loved and who loved him in return. A vague guilt for past indiscretions that he'd already been forgiven for.
Or it could be that Henry simply loved life too much to want to slow down, to watch years waste away to nothing in silence. It certainly explains why, on his death-bed, he still dreamed of young, beautiful blonde girls and a river of whiskey and turning away Death for appearing in a canoe and not a luxury cruise-liner.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
The Quiet Man, released August 14, 1952.
Directed by John Ford.
Starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald and Ward Bond.
PETER BOGDANOVICH SAYS:
No words, however, can convey the joyous exuberance of THE QUIET MAN, its visual grace, the wonderful love of humanity it projects. Barry Fitzgerald's performance alone as the "matchmaker" carries much of the leprechaun-like magic and poetic mystery Ford brings to the tale. It is, too, a film for the whole family, before ratings were necessary, that is thoroughly clear for adults in its adult meanings, yet innocently enjoyable for children.
THE TRASH MAN SAYS:
Back when I was younger, I used to claim that my favorite John Wayne flick was Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), because Wayne gets shot and killed by a sniper.
Yeah, I was a pretty stupid kid.
Here, as Sean Thornton, recently returned to the small Irish village where he was born, Wayne is totally likable. There's the element of culture shock; he's a fish-out-of-water, unsure how to go about courting the fiery red-head, Mary Kate Danaher (played by Maureen O'Hara), or how to keep her happy when he finally does win her over. But he's an honorable man, refraining from giving in to violence and more concerned with the simpler things in life over material wealth. Of course, he's not above giving his bride a good pat on the bottom, and constantly lighting up cigarettes. Slamming doors and stealing kisses [and tandem bikes] and knowing when he absolutely must stand-up for the people he loves.
The real star here is Ireland itself, though. Most of the outdoor scenes were shot there, and they are gorgeous. The luscious green landscapes are breath-taking; they're worth the price of admission alone.
Like many of the films I've watched so far for the Challenge, this one serves as a proper introduction for yours truly to the works of another prolific director; this time it's John Ford. I had seen bits and pieces of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) years ago, but The Quiet Man marks his first film that I've watched from beginning to end. Odd, though, that I'd start with one of his few collaborations with John Wayne that wasn't a western.
That will soon change, however, when The Bogdanovich Challenge hits Week Twenty-Two.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, released January 5, 1944.
Directed by Preston Sturges.
Starring Eddie Bracken, Betty Hutton, Diana Lynn and William Demarest.
PETER BOGDANOVICH SAYS:
"Not only are all the performances top-notch but there's that flawless comic rhythm that is uniquely Sturges--his stock company certainly knew his beat--like a conductor with his own orchestra. This was especially important with Sturges, who created all his scripts by improvising them for his secretary to write down."
THE TRASH MAN SAYS:
Writer/director Preston Sturges makes his second appearance on Bogdanovich's list of 52 essential films for the year with The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944). Another screwball romantic comedy, this time dealing with a promiscuous party-girl, Trudy (Betty Hutton), who ends up married to The Unknown Soldier. Or, well, close enough. Maybe his name is actually Ratzkiwatzki or something else with a Z in it, she's not really sure. Complicating matters, Trudy quickly discovers that the fun-filled night of dancing, drinking and blacking out also left her fun-filled with child.
So, she does the honorable thing and tries to conceal the truth by convincing a stupid, stuttering bank-teller by the name of Norval Jones (Eddie Bracken) to propose, wed, and claim to be the father-to-be. Norval, madly in love with Trudy, is willing to do whatever it takes to protect her and hopefully win her heart and her hand for real. Naturally, things escalate and matters become even more complicated and comical from there.
The climax involves bank robberies, Sturges' regular William Demarest wrestling a cow, and Adolf Hitler.
I'll admit that I'm amazed at the subject matter that's presented, and for comedic-effect no less, in a film from the mid-Forties. The concept of an expected mother, one who doesn't even know the identity of the true father, as the film's protagonist seems pretty novel for a film from the Golden Age of Cinema. Doubly impressive was Trudy's whip-smart and sarcastic kid sister, Emmy (Diana Lynn), who runs circles around the rest of her family and the rest of the cast.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
There's a couple big posts coming down the pipe-line in the very near future, but I wanted to break up the rhythm here a little while we're waiting. Sprinkle some small posts in between the weekly Bogdanovich Challenges, so it doesn't seem like I'm just half-assed reviewing classic cinema these days. Thankfully, a quick visit to my favorite thrift shop this morning proved to be fruitful. A regular fruitful station, minus Michael B. Jordan or regular Michael Jordan or any of the other guys from ProStars.
Generic He-Man and the Masters of the Universe action figures..!
That's probably the first thing you thought of when you saw the two fellas up above, and really, you're not too far off. These two Adonises, muscles sculpted from plastic-marble, are, in actuality, "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair and Rick "The Model" Martel. Part of Remco's AWA [that's the American Wrestling Association] toy-line from 1985. I never owned either of these as a kid, despite being a huge fan of professional wrestling, because my heart and soul belonged to the House-that-Hulk-Hogan-built, The WWF.
Flair, I remember fondly and best as the ultimate heel; tormenting poor Miss Elizabeth and trying to tear apart her romance with "The Macho Man" Randy Savage, who was [and still is] one of my all-time favorite wrestlers. Flair betraying his former advisor, Mr. Perfect, and losing to him in a "Loser Leaves Town" match on one of the premiere episodes of Monday Night Raw. Flair leading the Four Horsemen, and epic battles with Sting and Lex Luger over in WCW.
I feel less strongly [weakly?] about Rick Martel. First off, his toy is absolutely the most plain-looking action figure I've ever seen. Before I locked down his true identity thanks to various websites, I toyed with the idea that he might be Ricky Steamboat or Tito Santana or Larry Zbysko or or or...
You get the idea.
So, besides having difficulties in identifying a mid-card talent like Martel, he also earns some red-marks for being, well, a mid-card talent. Now, don't get me wrong, I loved guys who weren't in the main-event; guys feuding for the Intercontinental Title or forming random tag-teams, because why not? But Rick Martel was best known [to me, at least] as the narcissistic heel who brought an over-sized bottle of his own "perfume" to the ring, and spraying his opponents in the eyes and blinding them.
The best thing to spring from that was him being forced to compete in a "Blindfold Match" against Jake "The Snake" Roberts at Wrestlemania VII.
I sorta' miss when I used to feel passionately about grown men wearing speedos and tights battling one another in the squared circle, but then I don't at all.
Actually, here's another two from the same AWA wrestling line. I'd never heard of "The Fabulous Ones", a tag-team consisting of Stan Lane and Steve Keirn, before today. Wikipedia informs me that they were credited with being the first team with the "Pretty Boy" gimmick, made famous by later tag-teams like The Rock 'n Roll Express and The Rockers.
God, now I wanna watch Shawn Michaels super-kick his former partner, Marty Jannetty, and then throw him through the window of "The Barbershop".
Wrestling is dumb.
I'll tell you what isn't dumb, though, and it is totally VHS.
Fred Ward portraying The Destroyer in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985) is perfection. I haven't watched the film in years, but plan on rectifying that as soon as possible. Maybe once I'm finished showing off this ridiculous junk. Don't be surprised if I can barely muster the energy or enthusiasm to say more than a few words about Disney's Darkwing Duck: His Favorite Adventures.
Actually, I guess the correct title is "Darkly Dawns the Duck", and it's an origin tale for the most beloved caped-and-cowled fowl. That ties it into the Remo Williams film better than I could have planned it to, which is equal parts awesome and really, really stupid.
I take back what I said before about VHS not being dumb. Sometimes it can be, especially if it features Launchpad McQuack.
Also, here's some comic books that I bought. They came from the dollar-bins at my local comic shop, and I didn't need to buy them at all, since I already own thousands and thousands of floppies. Unfortunately, I'm a sucker for Mike Allred's Madman riding an atomic bomb, Mark Waid-written issues of The Flash, and random, awful titles from the '90s, like Malibu Comics' Rune.
There's also a single Spider-Man book, because I definitely needed more of those.
My name now is Bo, and Bo knows nothing about saving a dollar.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
The Blue Angel, released April 1, 1930.
Directed by Josef von Sternberg.
Starring Emil Jannings, Marlene Dietrich and Kurt Gerron.
PETER BOGDANOVICH SAYS:
"The amazing chiaroscuro photography, the clothing, the decor, the atmosphere: with Dietrich at her least sentimental, Jannings at his most naked, everything conspires to make THE BLUE ANGEL an indelible screen tragedy."
THE TRASH MAN SAYS:
It's not enough that I've taken to watching the man's film selections every single week. Now, I had to look up the definition of "chiaroscuro", so thanks a bunch, Bogdanovich. If I really wanted an education, I would have paid attention in school.
I should have been paying closer attention to this particular entry from the get-go, though. While visually it reminded me of my brief infatuation with German Expressionism, films like Nosferatu (1922) and Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920), the tone of The Blue Angel was a little too light for my taste. Sure, there was an emphasis of light and shadows, a staple of early German cinema and the "film noir" genre, but a bumbling professor (Emil Jannings) teased by his students, knocking things over and being referred to as "Professor Garbage" didn't really catch my attention.
Of course, then he meets and falls in love with a saucy cabaret dancer named Lola-Lola (Marlene Dietrich), and everything starts to fall apart. Things stop being light and funny, and you'll bear witness to the lows that a man will sink to in order to win a woman's heart. And when that same woman, now the Professor's wife, finds it more and more difficult to stay faithful to her husband, that man will break. Completely and utterly, until all that's left is Der Clown; lost to the shadows and wallowing in the dredge and depravity that was once his life.