Saturday, June 18, 2022

Vegas Watch: Viva Las Vegas (1964)




Watched:  06/17/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director:  George Sidney

Confession:  I thought I had seen an Elvis movie all the way through, but looking at The King's IMDB profile, I hadn't. I've seen others in part (Blue Hawaii, Roustabout, etc..), but am not overly keen on jukebox musicals with a book thinner than a pamphlet.  However, Viva Las Vegas (1964) is kind of the high water mark for these kinds of films, and it co-stars perennial favorite, Ann-Margret.  

Part tourist boosterism for America's playland, part romantic comedy, and all boppin' musical, the film is about 85 minutes of rocket-sled plotting paired with Go-Go dancing, while absolutely nothing happens, and we basically watch plot points used a million times over by '64 to tell the story of Elvis and Ann-Margret falling in love.  And in the last ten minutes of the film, we suddenly have a massive bodycount.  Did not see that coming.

Did I like the film?  Yes.  It's charming, dumb and cute.  Ann-Margret is something else.  Was the film good?  By conventional standards, its a mess.  But it was intended to get teens out to cinemas, promote Ann-Margret and Elvis and sell some records, and by that standard it's Citizen Kane.  

Picture stolen from Jenifer's blog, but you can see Garr in white and Basil's backside in red



Sidenote - Teri Garr is briefly in the movie as a background dancer, and you can see how she got pulled out of the chorus for a leading position.  Also: I heard Toni Basil is in the movie, and you cannot miss her when she's on screen for maybe 4 seconds.




But, yeah, basically Elvis plays a would-be race car driver who is in Vegas to drop off his car for a big road rally before heading off to LA to pick up the new motor.  He meets, immediately, an Italian Count who is the definition of Frenemy, and Ann-Margret, who is a pool manager/ swimming teacher.  Trying to find Ann-Margret, Elvis and the Count go on an ogling expedition of the showgirl shows across Vegas, so, you too, can fill your spank bank and have an idea of what you can objectify for a few bucks if you come to Vegas.  Eventually Elvis finds Ann-Margret, they begin to date (having enormous fun with money we're told Elvis doesn't have), but she doesn't want him to race lest he crash.  So they kind of break up.  But then he goes to race, and she helps.   It makes no sense, as nothing in the movie makes any sense.   And then they show the race, and it's a reminder of how terrifyingly dangerous racing was in mid-Century America and how far we've come in not thinking motor sports should end in death.  

Anyway, it is exactly what I was expecting, except for the scene where Elvis hangs out with a bunch of drunk Texans and it suddenly feels like a documentary or how-to video about how to deal with drunk Texans that is accurate to this day.




Friday, June 17, 2022

Emergency Friday Watch Party: Viva Las Vegas

 


What's 90 minutes and contains as much Ann-Margret shimmying as a movie can handle?  More Elvis being charming as hell than a movie should contain?

That's right, we're emergency watching Viva Las Vegas.  

  • Day:  TODAY 06/17/2022
  • Time:  8:30 PM
  • Service:  Amazon Prime

SHIMMY WITH US BY CLICKING HERE  


Thursday, June 16, 2022

Tim Sale Merges With The Infinite




Comics artist and illustrator Tim Sale has passed.  




Sale's work was singular, unmistakable, and reminded an industry what could be done with a certain minimalism if you knew how to capture the essence of character in gesture, expression and motion in a line.  He volleyed between Marvel and DC for a good bit, but I believe I remember learning of his work through Haunted Knight and then the superlative Long Halloween.  

His work at Marvel provided a depth to characters with whom we're all familiar on multiple series, such as Daredevil: Yellow and Spider-Man: Blue.  

As a Superman reader, it's hard not to point to the defining work of A Superman For All Seasons, a new chapter to the life of a young Man of Steel finding his place in the world.  It's a beautiful comic with a deeply sympathetic take on Superman that you simply wanted to comfort as he sought his place in the world.











Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Return to "Smallville"



It's a fascinating thing to return to a show 20 years later.  For the kids, Smallville debuted when I was about 26 and would have watched pretty much anything that was comic-book related, but was aggressively obsessed with all things Superman - an obsession which started roughly five or six years prior and continues to this day in a toned-down sort of way.  It will sound weird to new comics readers now, but arriving at Superman around the age of 20 or 21 was late for a comics nerd as I'd been reading comics for a decade with no particular interest in The Man of Steel.  But, a confluence of comics that spoke to me where I lived featuring Superman* began trickling out in the mid to late 90's, and that, paired with the WB's Superman: The Animated Series, turned the tide.

At the time of show's debut, I wasn't much of a TV watcher - as in, I didn't make time for television, but I did watch a lot of films.  That said - I'd followed X-Files til right about at this point (when I gave up on the program), but had not been a person to obsess over a particular show, otherwise.  Well, maybe Seinfeld, Simpsons and some Babylon 5.  And lest we forget, Chef!.  No Buffy, Angel or whatever else for me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Ida Watch: The Man I Love (1947)




Watched:  06/13/2022
Format:  Criterion
Viewing:  First
Director:  Raoul Walsh

Cubs were in weather delay, so I put on The Man I Love (1947) so that I might continue on my Ida journey.  

Ida Lupino had previously starred in High Sierra for director Raoul Walsh, and he must have known he had about four choices in Hollywood to pull off the part of Petey Brown (my new favorite character name in anything, ever), and by 1947, Crawford and Stanwyck were not going to sell the age Petey needed to be in relation to all the other members of her family.  

There's a lot of reasons to like this movie, but not least because Ida Lupino is in fabulous gowns and other outfits.  She's... well cared for on this movie in some ways (she also apparently suffered from legit exhaustion on the movie, which makes me think in other ways, she was run ragged), with gorgeous lighting, hair and make-up in every scene.  

Sunday, June 12, 2022

PodCast 201: "Daredevil" (2003) - A Marvel Madness Episode w/ Danny Horn & Ryan




Watched:  06/09/2022
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Mark Steven Johnson




Danny and Ryan break a Signal Watch record, talking about a movie for longer than the run-time of that movie. Because when it comes to 2003's superhero offering, we need to take this to court and then give it the beatdown. We're jumping off skyscrapers of logic and throwing billy clubs of criticism as we echo-locate what it's all about.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Daredevil Theme - Graeme Revell
Guardian Devil - Graeme Revell


Marvel Madness Playlist

Watch Party Watch: Streets of Fire (1984)




Watched:  06/10/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Walter Hill

Sooner or later I was going to make the Friday Watch Party Gang watch this movie, and indeed, I did.  

Reactions were, at best, mixed.  

The last time I watched this movie, I was ill and Jamie and I recorded a very iffy podcast that required some follow up when I was feeling better.



Noir Watch: The Killer is Loose (1956)




Watched:  06/10/2022
Format:  TCM Noir Alley
Viewing:  Second
Director:   Budd Boetticher

This movie is here to put the lie to the 1950's being a more innocent time.  It's dark and brutal and feels like a gritty novella of the era (which should also tell you that if you think the 1950's were what you saw on TV re-runs, you're a remarkable idiot).  This film mostly made it past censors as near as I can tell because the antagonist as the Hays Office would have seen it gets shot to hell in the final reel.  But that's missing the drifting shades of gray of *everyone* in the movie, including and especially out lead cop.

I watched this one about seven years ago, and it's interesting to return to films I haven't seen much now that I know the actors and noir a bit better.  I have a better feel for Joseph Cotten, Wendell Corey, Rhonda Fleming*, Alan Hale Jr., and even Virginia Christine.  

Anyway - it's a good ticking time bomb of a movie.  Wendell Corey plays a bank employee who seems to be trying to thwart a robbery, but the cops figure out he's involved.  When they come for him, Joseph Cotten accidentally kills his wife.  Seeing Cotten's wife, Rhonda Fleming, at his trial, he vows revenge in the form of murdering Fleming.  

He escapes (via murder) an honor farm and he begins his pursuit.  Fleming and Cotten battle over what it means to be a cop's wife and what she's going through worrying about him constantly and what he feels is his duty.  In a curious turn for the era, the movie refuses to give us an answer if either of them are right.  But as a potential target, it really brings the debate to a boil.

Give this one a shot some time.  It's a quick watch, but gets the job done.  And you'll never look at Wendell Corey the same again.



*I mean, let us be honest - I tend to say "okay" if a movie has Rhonda Fleming, and this one does.