Back around 2002, a show debuted on American television that would introduce the nation to its first not-pleasant gameshow personality, Simon Cowell. That show was American Idol, a program which has left a string of forgettable personalities and the occasional dead body.
Friday, June 25, 2021
Thursday, June 24, 2021
Swingin' Spy Watch: The Silencers (1966)
Format: TCM on DVR
Decade: 1960's (so very, very 1960's)
Director: Phil Karlson
Thanks to a misfire of the Google Fiber TV television schedule - I've found it. The most 1965-1968 movie ever made.
This is the second movie I've recorded by accident while trying to watch a recording of The Kissing Bandit as part of the Cyd Charisse month-long retrospective. Last time I'd accidentally recorded Singin' In the Rain, and this time...
I'd heard of The Silencers (1966) a while back, but never stumbled across it or had reason to watch it. It was always lumped in with movies that influenced Austin Powers about 30 years after this film arrived (and we're now almost as far from Austin Powers as this was from that! WOW, are we getting old). It stars Dean Martin as a sort of super-spy in a made-up NSA-type agency called "ICE".
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Joan Watch: Queen Bee (1955)
Format: Amazon Watch Party
Director: Ranald MacDougall
Jenifer was good enough to host a watch party this evening and selected Queen Bee (1955), a film from Joan Crawford's mid-40's to mid-50's cycle.
I'd label the movie as a "Southern Gothic Melodrama", and I wouldn't be shocked to see it pop up on Noir Alley, either, but not til we've exhausted other films like Flamingo Road, which fits the bill better. I genuinely enjoyed the film, in part because it's so bonkers and done with complete sincerity as Crawford manipulates everyone around her in a grand old house in small-town Georgia.
The film co-stars Barry Sullivan and John Ireland, but our POV is the young cousin of Crawford played by Lucy Marlow, who arrives after her schooling to be a sort of companion/ secretary to Crawford. But I just figured out the woman playing one smaller role was Fay Wray, aged 48 or so. Mind officially blown.
You can't not comment on the fact that Crawford was 50 or older when the movie was filmed and is still playing a woman who is probably supposed to be no older than 35. I can never think of anyone who pulled this sort of thing off in the studio-era for as many movies in a row who wasn't Mae West. But casting contemporary Wray against her as a former rival for the affections of Barry Sullivan, is no mean feat. And, look, it's not a criticism. Crawford's make-up was more a problem by 1955 than the actual aging process, and in some shots and in some entire films from the era, it works. Crawford herself is no less powerful an actress, and one wonders if she dialed it back how she might have appeared (although her hair in this film is the tight perm of the mid-50's that did few women any favors).
But, yeah, it's a tidy 100-or so minutes of Crawford wreaking all sorts of havoc upon her own family and their lovers. It's got some outstanding dialog, terrific cinematography (Charles Lang), and you can't outguess the movie as it unfolds.
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Shark Watch: Jaws 2 (1978)
Format: Amazon Streaming
Director: Jeannot Szwarc
I've seen the original Jaws probably 20 times, but as part of my day waiting for the AC repairman, and as yesterday was the 46th anniversary of the release of Jaws, I figured... maybe give that sequel a spin?
Jaws 2 (1978) arrived 3 years after the original, and had some of the band still in place. Scheider and Lorraine Gary reprised their roles, as well as Murray Hamilton as Mayor Vaughn, our canary in the coal mine that politicians don't actually have to worry about disasters or deaths they cause through incompetence so long as people refuse to ever admit maybe the voted for the wrong person.
Screenwriter Carl Gottlieb is back, as well as the same producers David Brown and Richard Zanuck. Even John Williams.
But, yeah, it's not Spielberg. Instead we got Jeannot Szwarc, who you may say: what else did he do?
Monday, June 21, 2021
Musical Watch: The Harvey Girls (1946)
Format: TCM on DVR
Director: George Sidney
So, I recorded this one as part of the Cyd Charisse "Star of the Month" retrospective on TCM, and while I have been waiting for the AC repair guy to call me back (it's 100 today in Austin), I put the movie on.
I'd always heard the name of the film The Harvey Girls (1946), but didn't know anything about the movie - just that it was a big, 1940's-style musical with Judy Garland as the lead. I assumed it was about a group of sisters in the Harvey family. Nope.
Pam Grier Watch: Friday Foster (1975)
Format: TCM on DVR
Director: Arthur Marks
Friday Foster (1975) comes late in Pam Grier's starring roles in the "blaxploitation" cycle of films. Curiously, it's also based on a comic strip that ran from 1970-74, which I plan to track down. But - as you can see by the release date on the movie, the strip was defunct by the time the movie arrived.
From what I saw on the internet, the strip and movie had some things in common, but reversed the course of Friday's career - making her start as a model and wind up as a photographer/ reporter for Glance Magazine.
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