Showing posts with label 1970's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1970's. Show all posts

Friday, May 17, 2024

Even More Swashbuckle Watch: The Four Musketeers - Milady's Revenge (1974)

Watched:  05/16/2024
Format:  BFI trial on Amazon 
Viewing:  First
Director:  Richard Lester

The Four Musketeers (1974 or 1975, depending where you look) is basically just Part II of the prior year's Three Musketeers, which we just watched.  For a bit more on this, I'd start with that post.  


So, yeah.  This movie was a slog for an hour and change of the 1:48 runtime.  It's got all kinds of pacing issues, is kind of plot-heavy, decides to pack in some characterization the first film sorely needed, and then, after 3 hours of movie insisting this is all slap-stick goofiness, wants for you to take this stuff all super seriously, and to be a drama which matches the events of the novel.  

With most action-comedies, that's not a problem.  We've seen The Guardians of the Galaxy pull it together into a tear-jerking sequence that feels like a fulfillment of the prior parts of the movie, and we're all in when the action hits and character threads are resolved.  But with this movie, the pacing is so deadly, the motivations of characters so wishy-washy (I have no idea if that's a book or movie problem) and kookily disproportionate to the actual matters-of-state at hand...  I really was having a hard time knowing why anyone was doing what they were doing for the last 70 minutes of runtime. 

I'll not quibble with a nearly 200-year-old novel that remains popular, at least in the zeitgeist.  

What I will say is that this is a directing and editing problem.  And likely a problem conjured by the Salkinds' desire to have two box-office returns for the price of one.  

I'm not even sure if the acting in this movie is good or bad.  I mean, it's *good*.  Oliver Reed turns in some great sequences in this movie, and Heston reminds you he's got swagger to spare.  But it's so hampered by everything around it.  Faye Dunaway is likely good, but Milady is an exposition machine.  And the sequence in which she murders Constance is barely motivated, overly contrived (how did Constance not recognize Milady?  they were face-to-face in the prior movie for several minutes) and in the framework of this movie, feels pettily unmotivated.  

And how we're supposed to feel other than "okay, I guess all that happened" at the end of the film seems completely broken.  Constance was the driver for the entire second movie's A-plot, and her death is treated as a "well, that sucks" moment.  And then we're treated to a montage about all the good times from the past two movies.  It is super, super weird.  

I mostly just felt like these two movies should have been one movie.

I'm mostly glad I watched it insofar as I now feel like I've got a grip on what's in the novel, to an extent - I literally can't remember the Disney movie anymore.  And cultural literacy can be helpful!

But, yeah, once again, I can see how these movies have kind of gotten lost over the years, especially as new versions keep coming out.  Apparently there's another two-movie series that's got a second installment coming or arrives, is in French and stars Eva Green (!).  And I recall a sort of steampunk version was out in 2011 or so.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Swashbuckle Watch: The Three Musketeers (1973)

we're literally missing a whole Musketeer here - D'artagnan isn't a Musketeer

Watched:  05/11/2024
Format:  Prime
Viewing:  First
Director:  Richard Lester


So, I'm kind of surprised this movie isn't more of a thing here in the US.  Or hasn't had a longer shelf life.  But I have thoughts on that.  

I've not ever read Dumas' The Three Musketeers, and my knowledge of the material comes primarily from having seen the 1993 Disney version with Oliver Platt, Keifer Sutherland, (checks notes) Charlie Sheen (?) and Chris O'Donnell looking incredibly out of place.  If a 31 year old memory serves, that movie was not at all about the same things as this movie.

If that movie were a star-studded affair, it barely holds a candle to the cast of this film.  Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, Frank Finlay, Michael York, Faye Dunaway, Raquel Welch, Christopher Lee, Charlton Heston, Geraldine Chaplin, Roy Kinnear, Simon Ward - and, apparently, Sybil Danning?

Sunday, April 21, 2024

70's Sci-FI Watch: Rollerball (1975)

the image that looked back at you from every video rental shop in America in the 1980's

Watched:  04/20/2024
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Director:  Norman Jewison
Selection:  Me

I very much recall the 1980's and wandering the sci-fi aisles of video rental stores where we never, ever rented Rollerball (1975).  When you'd bring up the movie with someone of age to have seen it in theaters, mostly they hadn't.  So all we had to go on was a box which was Jimmy Caan with a spiked glove.  And if we wanted movies about sci-fi athletes, which we really didn't, we'd watch Solarbabies.  It was a different and stupid time.

But, yeah, we just never picked it up, even when the film was remade in 2002 by John McTiernan (from my reading, the remake is more or less a completely different movie that happens to include the same sport).  

Parts of the movie are exactly what I'd expect.  It's sort of The Kansas City Bomber, but they added a whole bunch of kooky stuff to Roller Derby to make it violent.  Motorcycles, a big metal ball, spiked gloves... stuff like that.  The game is played in a future world where the corporations have taken over, completely.  Cities now exist to serve specific corporate interests.  

Example:  the team we're following is Houston, which is an Energy town, and, man, is that uncomfortably close to the truth.

It's not dissimilar to plenty of other sci-fi set-ups, where a wealthy elite sit at the top pulling the strings, and everyone else is happy with the world they're in, but our hero stumbles onto the plan/ evil machinations of the elite.  The problem with Rollerderby is that, actually, aside from our lead character's life, everyone else seems fine?  I mean, I don't love the world they present, and people are dying playing this goofy game, but...  literally everyone else in this movie is playing along.  There's no Fahrenheit 451 group of folks quietly or loudly resisting.  There's no masses starving and miserable like Soylent Green.  I don't like the idea of a corporation providing me with a new girlfriend every six months, but no one seems pretty bent out of shape with it, no matter how weird or dehumanizing.

Monday, April 8, 2024

G Watch: Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)

Watched:  04/07/2024
Format:  Max
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Jun Fukuda

I wasn't feeling great thanks to springtime allergies, and decided a rewatch of Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) was in order.  

My memory of the movie was mostly bi-furcated between the Children's Land storyline and maybe 1/3rd of the movie being some really pretty good kaiju fighting (as these things go).  And that turned out to be correct.  

For folks who are somehow shocked that the current Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire film is not a gritty, "realistic", edgy take on Godzilla - y'all need to sit down.  There were multiple eras of Godzilla, and within each of those eras - quite a few of the movies were for kids.  And I think you can see the spirit of the more kid-friendly movies at their best with this one.  

It's another alien invasion-via space-kaiju film, but also the promise of how cool it would be to build a Godzilla tower as the focal point of an amusement park.  I mean - we kinda really should have this, and I'm mad I can't stay in a hotel in Godzilla's belly and eat dinner in his head.  

The heroes are young hipsters, one of which is for no reason a karate-wielding bad-ass, and then a manga artist, a hippie and... girl?  Anyway, in the same era Hanna-Barbera was making shows about Youths having kooky adventures, so too was Toho.  

The villains are eventually revealed to be intelligent cockroaches, which is hilarious and gross.  

Anyway, the battles in this are really complex and really long, and that's not a complaint.  You paid to see Godzilla and Anguirus get in a scrape, and they sure do.  We're in the period, as well, where Godzilla was now a "protector" of the Earth, rather than an unknowable force that just rampaged from time to time.  This "protector" idea was picked up immediately by Monsterverse and was more or less their whole deal, which I didn't particularly love as an intro to Godzilla.  

The odd thing about the movie is that there *is* monster blood, which tells you that Toho was still seeing what they could and couldn't do, and what looked weird and changed the tone of the fights.  Overall, there's some fun stuff in the fights, because Gigan is a pretty creative kaiju with a great look.  

Anyway, not going to oversell it, but I think if you want a Showa-era movie, you could do worse.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

70's Watch: The Devils (1971)

Watched:  03/19/2024
Format:  Criterion
Viewing:  First
Director:  Ken Russell
Selection:  Oh, no one was going to watch this with me

Years ago I'd read about the Ursuline nuns of Loudun and their possession.  I have no idea in what context I'd stumbled across it, but it definitely stuck in the back of my head.  In fact, when The Little Hours came out, I thought it was a riff on this event (it wasn't, and I didn't watch much of the movie when I saw it on HBO).  

I wasn't actually seeking this movie out in particular.  I saw a Ken Russell movie was on Criterion, I like a good challenge of a movie from time to time - and Russell does provide that.  It had Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave, so I figured - sure, let's give it a spin.

For Americans, the closest proximate I would suggest would be The Crucible - but notch it up to an NC-17, add utter madness to the mix, way too many people, and a chance to lose faith in humanity for a bit, and there you go.  

Monday, February 19, 2024

Sports Watch: Slap Shot (1977)

Watched:  02/18/2024
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Director:  George Roy Hill

Slap Shot (1977) is one of those movies that just gets repeatedly referenced and is a sort of rite-of-passage film for a lot of folks, especially big sports fans.  I've been mildly curious about the movie for a long time, but as someone who grew up in Texas, which means know exactly nothing about hockey, it just didn't connect for me before to watch the thing.  

But, the movie came up as I was sorting through back-issue bins at my local comic shop, Austin Books, as the manager is a huge film nerd and the owner is a sports buff (and I think enjoys that I am not a person who says "sportsball" who shops there).*

What I knew was the movie starred Paul Newman, Michael Ontkean and three guys who weren't pro actors who everyone talked about playing three weirdo brothers, the Hansons.  And that was about it.  Some things I could infer were that it was from that mid-70's period where it became a bit trendy in movies to make it feel like it was shot on-location and live in a bar with everyone talking.  And, to be honest, it is not to my taste, Robert Altman.  

Sunday, February 4, 2024

G Watch: Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)

Watched:  02/02/2024
Format:  Max
Viewing:  Second*
Selection:  joint - me and Jamie

I don't have much new to really add to what I said back in 2020 about this movie.  But I do suspect that this is the Godzilla movie I have a firm memory of watching on TV as a kid, mostly because of the multiple kaiju and that the fight happens in an open field.  

I didn't say much about the human story in my prior write up - but it does feel like it's trying to set up a TV show or series of movies about two dudes and a child of vague relation, and their robot.  Read onto these people whatever you want - are they pals, brothers, a couple and their adopted child?  They do not say.  Nor do they do much to infuse anyone with a personality, story or anything to make them characters, but they do spend a lot of time showing them doing things.

Btw - the reason Megalon is attacking is that the surface humans set off an underground nuclear test killing - according to the dialog - a full third of the population of Seatopia, the nation of people living under the ground.  Y'all, the Seatopians are right to try to kill all of us.  But so wrong about trusting that guy and his bad mustache to run Seatopia.

But this is a kids movie, and I'm not going to complain too much.  The kaiju battling, robot stuff and bases for the movie is (chef's kiss).

Monday, January 29, 2024

G-Watch: Godzilla versus Mechagodzilla (1974)

Watched:  01/26/2024
Format:  Max
Viewing:  Second-ish
Director:  Jun Fukuda
Selection:  moi

Look, this week at work was a rough one, and next week is looking to be more of same.  I am tired.  And so, after watching another episode of the phenomenal fifth season of Fargo,* I put on Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974).  

This movie is remarkably silly, makes no sense in parts, forgets its a monster movie for long stretches, and does nothing to develop or differentiate any of the characters, seemingly adding them as the movie goes along to help fill plot holes.

The real showcase is, of course, Godzilla versus a giant robot version of himself that space aliens for a black hole(?) have built in order to take over the Earth.  Or, at least, whatever part of Earth is near the robot.  Initially, it's disguised as Godzilla, but to what end?  I cannot say.  Because they almost immediately remove the facade, and it seems like a robot is just as much a problem as the real Godzilla in how it's being deployed - by rampaging.  

However, we're also dealing with a prophetic vision seen by a young woman priestess/ heir to a once great dynasty on Okinawa.  There's a prophesy to go along with it regarding two monsters joining forces to fight a great threat, but it seems odd the ancients knew Mechagodzilla was coming?  There's nothing magic about a giant robot, except the love we should all feel for Mechagodzilla.

Anyway, this movie's main, non giant kaiju feature is a villain in a shiny jumpsuit who keeps smoking cigars.  I love this guy.  He really enjoys his work.

The one caveat is that this is around when Toho thought they needed to add blood.  So things get weird when MechaG really messed up Anguirus (he's fiiiiine) and then G himself (also: fine).  Also:  melting alien faces.

It's a fun pic, and while I don't think there's big life lessons to be learned, and it's confusing sorting out who all of these people are from time to time, this first appearance by MechaG is pretty stellar.  Where else will you find a 20-story robot that shoots rainbows out of its eyes?

*Juno Temple and Jennifer Jason Leigh busily confirming they're somheow even better than you thought, and Richa Moorjani putting in a bid for "damn, put her in more stuff" in a fine breakdown of myth and Fargo's patented exploration of good and evil 

Monday, October 30, 2023

HalloWatch: Young Frankenstein (1974)

Watched:  10/30/2023
Format:  Max
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Mel Brooks

I don't watch this every year, but I sure like it!  

Anyway, one of my personal favorite comedies.  

Monday, October 23, 2023

HalloWatch: The Vampire Lovers (1970)

quite the photoshop collage here

Watched:  10/23/2023
Format:  FreeVee on Amazon
Viewing:  3rd or 4th
Director:  Roy Ward Baker

In the wake of the opulence and spectacle of watching the 1992 Dracula adaptation, I threw on the 1970 Hammer horror film, The Vampire Lovers, a movie I'm pretty sure I'm on the record as a fanThat impression held up on a re-viewing of the movie.  

During this period, Hammer was sorting out what to do as Lee was increasingly (and famously) less interested in playing Dracula, and so they sought to expand their vampire offerings beyond the Count and his shenanigans.  Thus, they went to the novel that preceded Dracula, and from which Stoker (ahem) borrowed from.  

If you're looking for the book that mixes up vampirism, sex and romance, this is the one, and it often feels like the romantic angles ascribed to Dracula was an interpretation of how this book, and therefore movie, take on a vampire's relationship with their prey.  In this case, rather than an exotic Count from a mysterious kingdom, it's a fellow young woman who is deposited at the doorstep of a family with a young woman of similar age.  Who precedes to die.

Shortly after, the same young woman, calling herself Carmilla, appears at another house (left by a woman of breeding and elegance) with a similarly aged young woman, and we see how the relationship between the two blossom, even as villagers start getting picked off.

If Brides of Dracula is any indication, Hammer had long ago figured out the formula for inserting a clutch of attractive women in their films and teaming them with baffled middle-aged men and Peter Cushing.  

This was one of a handful of starring movie roles for Ingrid Pitt, who is 30+ here if she's a day, playing 19.  Full disclosure, we're Ingrid Pitt stans here at The Signal Watch, and we think she's just super.  Madeline Smith, just at the start of her career, is terrific, and we'd be happy to see more films with Kate O'Mara.  As always, Cushing is a force of nature in the film.

Anyway, with all the "romance" of vampires stuff, Vampire Lovers manages to find the balance between eroticism and the actual devilish nature of the characters.  Part of Carmilla's curse is that she does seem to form a bond with her victims - if not love, then dependence, and she's damned to take their lives, one after another.  

The only other film I can think of that seems to touch on this concept in its way is The Hunger, which blows that concept out, making it a genuine romance.  Until it isn't.  And walks through what the relationship actually is via Sarandon and Deneuve.  

There's still straight up vampire stuff in this film, from Carmilla wandering the woods like an apparition, to garlic being generally unwelcome, to beheadings.  All solid stuff.  

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

PodCast 255: "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974) - Halloween 2023 w/ JAL and Ryan

Watched:  09/30/2023
Format:  Peacock
Viewing: First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Tobe Hooper

JAL and Ryan get a little off the beaten path in their homestate of Texas, The Friendship State. It's rural roads, roadtrips and tasty BarBQ all the way down as they make new pals and learn the importance of family.



Halloween and Horror - all films playlist

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Hallo-Watch: Twins of Evil (1971)

Watched:  10/07/2023
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second
Director:  John Hough

I had watched and even blogged Twins of Evil (1971) previously, but I really didn't remember it  It happens (I sometimes have a cocktail when watching a film).  I didn't even recall it starred Peter Cushing.

But star Peter Cushing it does!  He plays a religious zealot who has formed a posse of like-minded puritans who are taking the fact that there seems to be a vampire on the loose to ride around, finding attractive young Hammer ladies, and then burn them at the stake, suspecting them of being a witch or vampire without ever actually checking.  You know, they just feel it in their gut that this girl who is doing something as shady as walking home is clearly in league with Satan (we get Judy Matheson in a pivotal role here illustrating the problem).  

This movie is part of Hammer's parallel-to-Dracula vampire series, the Karnstein Trilogy.  The series starts with The Vampire Lovers (one of my personal favorite horror films), is followed by Lust for a Vampire (which I recently rewatched and found I loved it on a second viewing), and now we land here, with Twins of Evil.   

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Vamp Watch: Daughter of Dracula (1972)

Watched:  09/04/2023
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Director:  Jess Franco

If the 1970's brought us anything in cinema, it was sexy vampires.  I mean, there's no shortage before.  Ask me about Brides of Dracula.  But by the time we got to the 1970's, we had moved into a weird twilight zone of art film/ exploitation film/ horror film where nudity was rampant and sex was not just implied in knowing cut-aways.

As far as I know, of the Jess Franco movies, I'd only ever seen Vampyros Lesbos.  And, somewhat (in)famously, Franco was one of the foremost purveyors of cheap, wandering "horror" films that bordered on a Cinemax late-night entry and what cable would play on weekends in the 1980's while also absolutely existing as in-no-way-scary horror films.

The movie is one of five directed by Franco in 1972 alone.  Whatever the market was, it was quantity over quality, and I suspect few scenes were actually scripted or anyone really did much to prep for the movies after getting a set of fangs, a Dracula cape and a location.  The movie uses a lot of 1970's film language, from racking focus into a scene (usually onto some natural object) and lots of lingering shots of people walking and not saying much.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

PodCast 248: "Orca: The Killer Whale" (1977) - an Angry Animals Podcast w/ SimonUK and Ryan

Watched:  June 23, 2023
Format:  Amazon
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Michael Anderson

Simon and Ryan join up for a whale of a movie! We set sail for a curiously novelistic take on man vs beast and man vs himself and man vs ice berg as Richard Harris spears the wrong sea-mammal and has to deal with a whale with a death wish! We're talking post-Jaws sea-ploitation!



We Are One (Orca) - Carol Conners and Ennio Morricone, Orca OST 

Angry Animals PodCast

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Raquel Watch Party Watch: Kansas City Bomber (1972)

Watched:  02/17/2023
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Jerrold Freedman

So...  Picking movies for Friday watch parties is always a challenge.  We talk over the movies, so it can't be anything too complicated.  It has to be fun because we're not watching a movie on a Friday to be miserable - and that's not the vibe for riffing, anyway.  

While Raquel Welch is an international icon, and I wanted to use the Watch Party to celebrate her the week of her passing, she is just as likely to play a supporting part as a lead.  But this was all about Ms. Welch, and thus I was also looking to find a movie in which she played the lead.  Plus, I like Roller Derby.  So, I picked Kansas City Bomber (1972), not really knowing much about it.  But that is not to say that I saw the trailers and was not dazzled that the romantic co-star was Kevin McCarthy.  I mean... 

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Watch Party Watch: Zardoz (1974)

Watched:  01/20/2023
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Director:  John Boorman

So, my college pal, Robb, was a big fan of this movie, which really set the bar for me.  He's the same guy who would pitch a Saturday as "let's watch Stalker and then Bullit".   Circa 1999 or so, my brother, Steanso, and myself decided to give Zardoz (1974) a whirl, and I think we made it twenty minutes in before giving up and watching Xena or Cleopatra 2525.  

I will not say I hated or even disliked Zardoz, while acknowledging - this is not a movie for everyone.  The film contains a million concepts and ideas all crammed into one movie.  I don't think it really succeeds (for me) as story, commentary or entertainment, but it is absolutely a thing to watch for its tremendous ambition, low-budget-swing-for-the-fences approach, and unique visuals.  It's trying to do some Very Important Stuff via sci-fi, and I can't say it fails, exactly.  The ideas are interesting enough.  It's just not a movie that is amazingly fun to watch (sober).

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Doc Watch: Harlan County, USA (1976)

Watched:  01/14/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  First
Director:  Barbara Kopple

One of the things I wonder about as The Kids have decided that labor movements are a fine idea and that they should unionize is if they're well educated on the incredibly bloody history of labor movements in the US.  I'm not recommending one path or the other (I am, but this isn't that blog) but things tend to get really dark when the operators see the minions getting organized.  

To a 20-something working at Starbucks in 2022 or 2023, it may seem like the good fight, but in the places Starbucks tends to exist, you can usually just pick up and go work somewhere else if the deal isn't what you want.  And, of course, 1972 is ancient history when old-timey things happened.  Like the events of the documentary, Harlan County, USA (1976) a film about striking coal minors in Kentucky and the various factors at play and persons involved. And it's as far removed from today's labor conversations and the way work once worked in the US as the Pullman Strike is to organizing baristas.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Super Watch: Superman - The Movie (1978 - theatrical cut)

Watched:  01/06/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  1,000,000th
Director:  Richard Donner

Superman: The Movie (1978) is the movie I've seen most of any film, enough so that I have it pretty well memorized.  At this point, I'd hesitate to say how many times I've seen the movie, but it's dozens and dozens of times.  At least 7 in the theater.  Intentionally, I haven't watched it much the past few years.  I mean, I'm trying to watch new-to-me movies, I can replay any scene in my head any time, I know the beats and jokes, and cool elements and emotions in every scene.  But I also know the plot holes, the mistakes, the dated issues with the film, where that's-a-doll, that's-how-that-shot-was-done, etc...  I even look for where extras were at a difference walking pace in various shots.  

What's probably most notable to modern film audiences is that a movie that plays it mostly straight for an hour has a hard jump in the second half to a far wackier vision of the world it establishes, moving from sci-fi epic to American Rockwell-esque pastoral to a cosmic sci-fi fantasy.  And then...  Metropolis, with hustling big-city folk, fast talking journalists, and Otis bumbling along.  And for the next 90 minutes, the movie is a mix of romance, screwball, camp and heroism.  There's something oddly Broadway-ish about that back 90 minutes - I mean, doesn't Miss Tessmacher seem like she needs an "I Want" song?  Because Lois gets one in spoken-word.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Doc/ Review Watch: That's Entertainment (1974)

Watched:  12/31/2022
Format:  TCM
Viewing:  First
Director:  Jack Haley Jr.

I'm not clear on where this first showed - I guess wide release?  It has a box office take listed, so I guess it was put out in theaters.  Which is pretty wild.  The movie is essentially a review/ clip show of MGM musicals and the greatest generator of a punchlist for movie nerds I can think of.  

What's even wilder is that the movie was released as a 50th Anniversary celebration of MGM - and we're about 50 years from the release of this film.  Time.  It does roll on.  

The film is hosted by an array of folks who were still living and vibrant, from Frank Sinatra to Bing Crosby to Elizabeth Taylor to a Mickey Rooney (who'll de damned if he's gonna shoot in the sun and manages the worst lighting you'll see in a major release as he wanders down a tree-lined sidewalk).  But it's all a celebration of what made the movie musical great - and it makes a stunning case for the idea.  Spectacle, talent, artistry and a bit of hokum all combine in an electric mix across about 100 clips supporting the thesis and the arguments presented for the musical. 

Clips cover everything from the Depression-era Busby Berkley opuses to Andy Hardy films to Eleanor Powell, Ann Miller and of course Fred and Ginger (and Fred and Cyd).  And a reminder that the most insane Hollywood may have ever gone was staging Esther Williams movies.  It's impossible to imagine happening in the past 40 years.  

1974 - the year of release - is an interesting inflection point.  Liza Minnelli appears to remind you she's the daughter of Judy Garland and Vincent Minnelli and that she just won an Oscar for a musical.  It's the promise of a new generation taking on musicals, which may have seemed possible in '74.  But, clearly, that's not what happened.  Sure, these days we get one or two a year, and most Disney cartoons are musicals for all intents and purposes, but as much as westerns would fade, musicals became a novelty.  And, frankly, it seems like people my age feel weirdly threatened by musicals that don't start as Broadway shows.*

Trotting out the old guard is a fine idea for a retrospective, but in 1974, there's no home video.  They weren't going to re-release 45 years of musicals, I don't think.  So what was this for?  One last hurrah and a trip down memory lane?  The stars walk the now clearly dilapidated sets, around a decaying MGM lot, and I have to ask "why?"  Why would MGM show their own sets in such a state of disrepair?  I don't know what happened to MGM in the 1960's, but the story of MGM by the 1980's was about purchases, mergers, real estate sales...  the company had gone from being a force of nature to a has-been.  Even today, MGM seems to exist to put out Bond movies and not a whole lot else.  If this film hoped to push people to clamor for musicals, I guess - not so much.

That said, it's a stunning reminder of what Hollywood - at least MGM - did on the regular to deliver wildly imaginative productions, the kind of talent they had on staff, and what movies can do.  And maybe what we lost when the 1970's taught us to rely on "realism" in film, or at least pivoted us to space epics for our visions of flights of fancy.  

Clearly Broadway tells us there's still an audience for musicals, and you do wonder - with today's techniques - what would an Esther Williams film look like?  Who could star in it?  Can an audience sit for a tap number?  Do people still get swept up in ballroom dancing by the best, or just when it's a reality show with D-level stars trotted out for two minute numbers and people pretending to be judges?

And, honestly, even TCM doesn't play musicals like it used to.  I'm sure the numbers track better to other kinds of films for whatever reason, but it would be nice to have some play of those big spectacle flicks.

MGM produced enough of these musicals that it spawned several sequels - That's Entertainment 2 and 3, as well as That's Dancing.  So clearly they were making some money off of these things.  

*I will never get the hostility to La-La Land

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Hammer Horror Halloween Watch: Lust for a Vampire (1971)

Watched:  10/30/2022
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Jimmy Sangster

So, way back when I was first getting familiar with Hammer, I watched Lust For a Vampire (1971), and wound up with one of those absolutely wild experiences you get once in a while on the internet.  Admittedly, I'd not *really* been watching the movie - I was online and just watching the movie with one eye and I dashed off a jokey, jerky write-up.  But I was so much not paying attention that I mistook a completely different actor for Christopher Lee, which should tell you how much I was *not* watching.  

Within 24 hours, actor Judy Jarvis (nee Matheson) - who plays Amanda McBride in the film - spotted the review and *rightfully* called me out.  My review was stupid.  I'm lazy.  It happens.  But it was also a reminder that I should actually pay attention to a movie and give it a fair shake if I'm going to criticize the film as a viewer.  And real people do work on these films.

I promised Judy Jarvis I would rewatch the film, but, honestly, that's a *lot* of pressure.  Now I didn't want to embarrass myself if Judy Jarvis was still patrolling the internet, and I absolutely wanted to give the movie a fair shake this time.

Suffice to say, I am now more familiar with Hammer, what was going on in 1970's British film, and know how to watch these movies from a better perspective.  I've read Carmilla and become more aware of what Hammer was doing with the Karnsteins (a family of vampires they employed as Dracula wound down and based on the novel Carmilla).

I am not just saying this:  I loved the movie this time.