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

Monday, September 20, 2021

Roller Watch: Unholy Rollers (1972)




Watched:  09/18/2021
Format:  TCM Underground
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Vernon Zimmerman

Probably most famous for its editor of all things (a young lad name of Martin Scorsese), it's a Roger Corman movie about the rise and fall of a wayward young woman with a temper who finds stardom in the Roller Derby!

Starring Claudia Jennings - a person I'm surprised hasn't had a movie made about her life - it's a no-budget production that mostly relies on the drift in what you could show on a screen in 1972, and that meant lots of casual partial nudity.  Which was what I associated with Roger Corman when I first knew who he was as a teen, and isn't really accurate.  

The movie also has, oddly, Joe E. Tata! of 90210 fame, and Kathleen Freeman looking like she doesn't want to be there more than usual.

Look, it's a cheap and trashy movie, and that's the fun of it.  I didn't tune into Unholy Rollers (1972) because I was expecting a David Lean film.  That it shifts gears and tries to tell a story about the perils of roller derby stardom is almost weird.  But if the movie lasts long enough, I guess it's going to tell some kind of story one way or another.  I'm just not sure why they went for a downbeat ending.  

I mean, it's not Mean Streets downbeat, but it's also not a "and she skated happily ever after".

Anyway.  It does a great job of explaining and showing off roller derby, and made me miss going to bouts.



Wednesday, August 18, 2021

70's Thriller Watch: Klute (1971)




Watched:  08/18/2021
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Alan J. Pakula

In, I believe, 1996 the assistant manager at Camelot Records found out I was a film major.  
"Have you seen Klute?" she asked.
"No.  What is it?"
"Jane Fonda.  Donald Sutherland.  She's a hooker and he's a detective."
"Huh.  I'll need to check that out."
She'd check in weekly, really, to see if I'd seen it yet, and to be truthful, every time I went to rent it at I Love Video, it was checked out.  Or lost.  I didn't know, but it wasn't in.  But, yeah.
So, here we are, Jill.  25 years later, I finally watched Klute (1971).

Well, Klute is, actually, a very good movie.  Two thumbs up.  I dug it.  Nice, grimy pre-punk New York, Donald Sutherland nailing quiet intensity that I am sure made someone swoon.  Fonda maybe a little patrician for the role, but that's kind of the point, I think.  

Sutherland does play a private investigator, John Klute, searching for an executive who went missing a long time before.  The clues are scant, except for a letter that matches several that a call girl (Fonda) received, shortly after getting beat up by a john she barely remembers, one of a sea of faces.  

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Noir Watch: Farewell, My Lovely (1975)




Watched:  08/09/2021
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Dick Richards


I've read the Raymond Chandler novel upon which Farewell, My Lovely (1975) is based a couple of times, and seen the Dick Powell-starring 1944 film adaptation Murder, My Sweet (1944) a handful of times.  I do appreciate the 1970's neo-noir movement and the adaptations or interpretations I've seen, but there's always such a layer of 1960's or 1970's-ness all over the films, you feel like they can't get out of their own way making sure you know "we have updated this for modern times".

This movie, however, is a period piece, adhering as close to the source material as possible, with a definite romanticism for the genre, the book and the movies which it inspired.  While some updating occurs, the politics of the 1970's are only thinly layered on, and the story does take place just prior to WWII (the novel was released in 1940), but with the not insubstantial casting choice of a 58 year old Robert Mitchum.  And, look, you'll never catch me saying a negative thing about Mitchum, but this may be about 15 years too old for the character, no matter who that actor is.  The script changes the novel enough to take Mitchum's age into account here and there, and I absolutely get why the filmmakers were thrilled to get him.  Mitchum would have been ideal casting for a production from '50-'57.  

Sunday, August 1, 2021

PODCAST: "Meatballs" (1979) - a Signal Watch Canon Episode w/ JAL and Ryan



Watched:  07/28/2021
Format:  Justin's backyard
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Ivan Reitman



JAL and I have some margaritas, watch a movie outside and then record a podcast outside about a movie that takes place outside. It's maybe ground zero for what became a genre unto itself in the 1980's (the camp movie), and a subgenre of the "misfits vs. the preps" - but this one actually has some heart! And some great gags. Join us after a few margaritas and this will all make more sense. FAIR WARNING: this is the most wandering podcast ever recorded here at The Signal Watch.




Music:
Are You Ready For The Summer? - North Star Camp Chorus, Meatballs OST
Meatballs - Rick Dees, Meatballs OST

Signal Watch Canon:

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Murder Watch: The Last of Sheila (1973)




Watched:  07/20/2021
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Herbert Ross

What a weird combo of talent on this film.

I recorded this on my DVR when Rian Johnson indicated it had helped inspire the sequel to Knives Out, recently filming in the French Riviera, where this film, The Last of Sheila (1973), takes place.  

I did not know that it was written by Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins - two guys not known for Hollywood movie scripts.  Then, it was directed by Herbert Ross, who you may know as the director of The Secret of My Success or Footloose.  The cast is small, but as in Agatha Christie style, everyone has to carry their weight.  

But what a cast:  James Coburn as a movie producer, Dyan Cannon as a talent agent, James Mason as a director past his prime, Raquel Welch as a starlet with a past, Ian McShane as her iffy boyfriend, Richard Benjamin as a screenwriter seeing his career fail, and Joan Hackett as his heiress wife.

The titular Sheila dies in the opening scene, the victim of a hit-and-run as she drunkenly leaves a party to walk her Bel-Air neighborhood.  A year later, Coburn invites a handful of the attendees to his yacht in the South of France for a week of games, one of which is a game of his own making.

I won't say anything else.  No spoilers.  But the movie is a murder mystery with more twists than an industrial drill.

Go check it out sometime.  



Friday, July 16, 2021

Neo-Noir Mitchum Watch: The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)




Watched:  07/16/2021
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Peter Yates

I've been hearing about this one for a while, and I can see why.  Mitchum was in a weird period here where he was far older than in his prime two decades earlier, but his age and everything he'd done to himself for his adult life comes with him when he shows up in a role.  Add in his bona fides as part of the noir movement and his already naturalistic (if swaggerish) acting style, and he fits into the era well.  That said, I've not seen his outings as Marlowe, so that's soon, I think.

It's funny, I've definitely had the same thoughts that I saw reflected in this article from The Ringer that I read yesterday about the 1990's neo-noir movement.  Particularly the thought that resonated was that the 1990's noir movement had as much or more to do with filmmakers of the 1990's wanting to make movies like they grew up with in the 1970's than it had to do with anyone wanting to remake Kiss of Death (which they did, and is not the original, but it's fine).  And, likewise, the filmmakers of the 1970's using noir tropes to say something about the same world that insisted on Donnie and Marie.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Neo-Noir Watch: Remember My Name (1978)



Watched:  07/13/2021
Format:  TCM Underground on TCM
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Alan Rudolph

Into it.  

A late 1970's sorta-thriller where the viewer slowly puts the pieces together as you watch a clearly broken woman arrive in LA and then target a couple who don't seem to know her.  

Remember My Name (1978) stars Geraldine Chaplin (daughter of Charlie) as an ex-con who seems a bit off, even for the actions she's taking.  Frankly, Chaplin is pretty great here, working in a sort of breezy, Altman-esque manner (Altman produced the film).  Weirdly, Chaplin is still wildly prolific, but is working in corners that means I just haven't seen her in much - and didn't know who she was when I did see her.  

Watch Party Watch: The Creeping Flesh (1973)




Watched:  07/12/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Freddie Francis

I had no expectations whatsoever of this film, but figured it might be okay as it co-starred Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.  Anyway, The Creeping Flesh (1973) is not a Hammer Horror film, but feels like a sister film to The Horror Express.  

Why, Signal Watch? you may ask.  Well, dear reader, this movie is about bringing the remains of an unknown being from New Guinea into someone's house and then shit gets weird/ scary.  That movie is about a scientist moving the remains of an unknown being from China to Europe via the Trans-Siberian Express and, in transit, shit gets weird/ scary.  

This one has a very different take - possibly including a form of evil that's a literal virus with very pronounced flagella.  Also, a crazy daughter.   Add in Lee as an amoral scientist/ custodian of an insane asylum, and a frazzled Cushing as a gentleman scientist, and...  there's nothing not to like.  

Sunday, July 11, 2021

PODCAST: "Theatre of Blood" (1973) - A Signal Watch Horror Canon PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan




Watched:  07/07/2021
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Douglas Hickox



SimonUK and Ryan take the stage to talk a 1970's Brit-horror favorite! Join us as we soliloquize on a film that goes deep on The Bard, delivers Vincent Price in fine form, gives us Diana Rigg in a look I doubt she sported much in public, and plenty of chills, thrills and camp gallows humor! It's a big cast having a grand time at the grand guignol!



Music
Theatre of Blood Main Theme - Michael J Lewis
Theatre of Blood, Edwina's Theme - Michael J Lewis

 
Canon Playlist

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Neo-Noir Watch: Night Moves (1975)




Watched:  07/03/2021
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Arthur Penn

46 years on, it's curious to watch a movie that was doing 1970's meta-commentary on hard-boiled detective stories of the 20's - 1950's in books and movies (and radio and early TV),  and know that we're about as far from 1975 as Night Moves was from the earliest Black Mask detective stories.  We've also processed and analyzed the 1970's movie era as much as any as directors leveraged the 1960's collapse of the studio system to tell stories TV could not, carrying with them the cynicism of the era.  

The obvious comparison is to The Long Goodbye, based on one of the final Chandler-penned Philip Marlowe novels.  But while that book was a metacommentary on... any number of things even in its 1950's release window and lended itself naturally to a 1970's adaptation, Night Moves exists in our world, in which everyone knows who Sam Spade is from the books and whatnot, and makes jokes about detectives thinking they're heroes of those books.*

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Shark Watch: Jaws 2 (1978)




Watched:  06/21/2021
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing: First
Decade:  1970's
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

Pam Grier Watch: Friday Foster (1975)




Watched:  06/20/2021
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
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.  

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Horror Watch Party: Burnt Offerings (1976)




Watched:  06/01/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Dan Curtis

I liked this one!  A haunted house movie filmed in the country house I'm familiar with from A View to a Kill.  But Burnt Offerings is in the mode of haunted house film I quite like, from The Haunting to The Shining.  But maybe a lot more indirect than those films?

The cast is small, but contains Burgess Meredith (briefly), Bette Davis, Karen Black, Oliver Reed and Anthony James.  Also, the kid who grew up to become Jeff in Girls Just Want to Have Fun.  

I have also realized talking about the movie any more will spoil it, so I'm gonna shut up.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Yog - Monster from Space/ The Space Amoeba (1970)




Watched:  04/19/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Ishirō Honda

This movie is not about an amoeba from space.  

I don't remember anyone calling the thing that does show up "Yog".  

It is about a sort of pile of glowing animated dots from space.  But that's not really an amoeba, is it, movie?

The blob of lights keeps infesting local beach creatures which turns them into rampaging kaiju, which creates a hard time for our friends who want to build a hotel on a remote island.  

Anyway, it's a lot of quality nonsense.  

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Doc Watch: Pumping Iron (1977)




Watched:  04/15/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's

So, I finally watched Pumping Iron (1977)!  It was super good.  I'm not spending the energy to write it up, but if I liked Arnie before (and he's my imaginary friend, so, yes), nothing has changed.  Also, it was wild to see young Lou Ferrigno.  

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Lady Frankenstein (1971)




Watched:  04/06/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Directors:   Mel WellesAureliano Luppi


Weirdly, this European produced take on Frankenstein co-stars film great Joseph Cotten.  I have no explanation other than Cotten wanted to have a stay in Europe for a while and this work was easy and probably wouldn't be seen by Americans, especially fifty years later on personal computers.  But here we are!  

The basic set-up for the story is that the good doctor (Cotten) is getting set for his grand experiment to bring a human to life when his daughter (Rosalba Neri) returns from med school, a fully licensed surgeon with amazing hair.  He has a sort of side-kick who helps him out in the lab, as well as the usual grave-robber types hanging about.  

But when the monster springs to life, he is super into murder, and starts with Baron Frankenstein.  Well, funny story, because his daughter Tania is way more of a freak than he.  So, as the monster runs around murdering pretty much exclusively copulating couples (viva Italia), the NEW good doctor gets to work on a plan for creating her own monster who will kill the first monster.  WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

She first seduces and marries her father's invalid sidekick, then convinces him to undergo a brain transplant into the local handsome moron.  

You guys, I'm not gonna lie.  This movie has a ton of nudity and sex, and then you remember "oh yeah, this is an Italian horror movie.  They think Americans movies are way too tame."  And so.  But it also creates a certain very dark take on the proceedings as Lady Frankenstein herself manipulates the men around her and seems to thrill in the more sadistic elements of what's going on - leading to an ending that had our watch party basically saying "well, huh" as the film wrapped.

It IS a horror movie.  Horrible things happen!  Some of it was some weirdly dark content I did not expect from what seemed initially like a goofy Hammer knock-off.  Because, man, there are some sharp turns there in the second half.  

I'll at least say: it was never boring!  But it is absolutely not for everybody.  Did I like it?  I mean, I was entertained.  I'm not sure it was a good movie, but it at least surprised me and wasn't entirely camp.  So.  I dunno.  

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Amazon Watch Party Watch: Piranha (1978)




Watched:  04/02/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Joe Dante

You can't discuss Piranha (1978) without pointing out that it's the first film by director Joe Dante- and is already very Joe Dante.  And that it's also written by indie film director and writer John Sayles.  

Here in Central Texas, we also always mention "you know, they filmed this partially around San Marcos".  But I didn't know the final bit occurred at now-defunct water park Aquarena Springs, which was a feature of summer-time-life for the strip between Austin and San Antonio along I-35 for decades, and then - somewhat inexplicably, went belly up while I was in college as parents decided it was no longer hip, I guess.

But, yeah, the movie is about a skip tracer looking for some kids who went missing (the young lady who played Louisa in Sound of Music), and who winds up pairing up with an alcoholic to learn a mad scientist has been breeding particularly nasty fish in a tank near his house.  And, whoops, he and Louisa accidentally release them into the local river that people live on, contains summer camps, etc...

And, of course, this being a horror movie, things go poorly.  

The movie includes Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Dick Miller, Paul Bartel, and for some reason, Barbara Steele.

Anyway, it's a lot of fun, the fish make buzz-saw/ bee sounds, and you see some pre-80's Texas.  

Here's a link to a trailer for a doc on Aquarena Springs, and they kinda talk about Ralph the Swimming Pig, which was something I desperately wanted to see in 4th grade, but didn't see til 7th.  You know what?  It lived up to the hype.

Monday, March 22, 2021

PODCAST: "The Long Good Friday" (1979) - a SimonUK Canon episode w/ Ryan



Watched:  03/16/2021
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1970's
Director:  John MacKenzie



We're still talking our personal canon, and SimonUK brings a favorite from the UK - and one hell of a film. We talk amazing performances, tight stories, and the real world of late-70's England that informed one of the hallmark films of the gangster genre. Join us for a long chat on a good movie.




Music:  

The Long Good Friday Theme, Extended Edition - Francis Monkman


Signal Watch Canon:

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Deathsport (1978)




Watched:  03/05/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  probably best we not dwell on it

This is kinda the new bar for our Friday night watch parties.  We've sampled many flavors of movie over the year we've been in lockdown (we started off live-tweeting The Shadow on April 10th of 2020!) - and you never know how it's going to go.  But I took the advice of Nathaniel C, a guy who really knows his genre stuff, and chose Deathsport (1978) as our feature of the evening.

Do you like motorcycles?  Explosions?  Exploding motorcycles?  Plastic swords?  Iffy sci-fi dialogue and boobs?  Friends, Deathsport (1978) has all that and more.  It may lack plot, character, direction and a steadi-cam harness, but it doubles down on what it does have.  

Sometime in the distant future, after a nuclear war of some sort, matte paintings of cities will be ruled by guys who look vaguely like Johnny Cash's ill sibling.  The wastelands between will be inhabited by mutants (people with ping-pong balls cut in half and covering their eyes), and "rangers", an idea stolen awkwardly from Tolkein.  The city's will have something called "Deathsport", which is like a motorcycle stunt show with murder.  

I cannot stress enough that you can get a flashlight that will disintegrate people, horses and doors, but folks seem obsessed with using swords and motorcycles to do their murder.  I should mention - the swords are well intentioned - someone made them out of plexiglass and the basic concept is kind of cool.  Except they look exactly like plexiglass, and I have to assume they broke a few in production.  

With an inevitable dash of pretention, the "rangers" have their own code and manner of dialog that isn't inherently bad.  I've seen similar pulled off just fine in all kinds of sci-fi and fantasy, but here - it just isn't working.  And so it is very bad, indeed.  I don't know if it's the flat line delivery or that we keep seeing Carradine in a diaper and Uggs, but it just feels like no one was sure how it would or should work.  

The movie is titled Deathsport, but unlike, say, Deathrace 2000, there's very little Deathsport.  Deathsport is a gladiatorial game that David Carrdine and his lady-friend (Claudia Jennings) get thrown into as Rangers, versus city-dwelling Statesmen, who hate the Rangers.  They are mercilessly driven near by guys on dirtbikes - here called "Death Machines" - who ensure they are within sword range and very, very combustible.  Like, look at them funny or a strong breeze hits them just right, and they're blowing up with 5x the capacity their gas tanks could have mustered.  So many explosions, just blasting off everywhere.

I guess there's a story, but it doesn't matter.  An argument is made about a lack of fuel and remainin technology, but it doesn't play into the movie - kind of the opposite.  Instead, it's Richard Lynch taking his helmet off and chasing Carradine and Jennings across very familiar terrain if you've ever seen anything ever shot outside in Southern California.*  There's a slowly maddening head of a city who is just a dick, gets his while taking a moment to torture a nude lady with Christmas lights in PVC pipes.  It's a whole thing.

Maybe the most remarkable part of this very remarkable film is the sound, both music and sound effects.  I can kind of see why letting a cat run across your synth would seem like a fine idea for a score, and there's all kinds of music that gets inserted in - including sexy sax during a fight scene.  But the score is... just really something.  

I don't know who did sound design on this, but it was not Ben Burtt.  Someone chose a few sounds, did not pay attention to whether they would be awful if you had to hear them every time a motorcycle passed the camera, and then never reviewed their work before releasing the film.  It's some absolutely insane/ maddening stuff.  Every choice made to suggest the motorcycles do not sound like dirtbikes is a tragic mistake, and may the sound designer find peace, for they were clearly a tormented soul if this was working for them.

Anyway - highly recommended.


The Vasquez Rocks may be the single most filmed location on Earth.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Finally Watched It Watch: The Last Picture Show (1971)


Watched:  02/09/2021
Format:  TCM on DVR (from, like, April)
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Peter Bogdanovich

So, I always knew this movie had a stellar reputation.  And, it's totally earned.  So earned, I'm not going to talk about it here.  Maybe on some future viewing.  

I *do* find the fact the father of a girl I dated in college was really, really pushing me to watch this movie to be a curious choice in making suggestions for the beau of your precious darling, but good on you, sir.  Good on you.