Fish-Flavored Baseball Bat

It's a John Cleese reference.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

VHS Vednesday: The Last Remake of Beau Geste

THE LAST REMAKE OF BEAU GESTE (1977). Directed by Marty Feldman. Starring Marty Feldman, Michael York, and Ann-Margret.

If you're a fan of Mel Brooks' spoofs, then the directorial debut of Brooks' sometime collaborator Marty Feldman should be right up your alley. Taking a twisted look at the classic adventure yarn Beau Geste, Feldman tells the tale of two brothers: Beau (Michael York), whose good looks and dashing bearing have cast him in the role of hero his whole life, and Digby (Marty Feldman), who is...well, Marty Feldman. (Digby explains the discrepancy: "We were identical twins, but somehow, Beau was much more identical than I was.") When the family's most prized possession, the legendary Blue Water sapphire, is in danger of falling into the hands of the brothers' gold-digging stepmother (Ann-Margret), Beau absconds with the gem and runs away to join the French Foreign Legion. Faithful Digby soon follows, and they soon find themselves under the thumb of the sadistic Sergeant Markov (Peter Ustinov). Much silliness ensues.
Feldman provides a steady stream of memorable gags, both verbal and visual. The movie falters towards the end with a "mirage" sequence in which Digby interacts with footage of Gary Cooper from the1939 version of Beau Geste...a scene which is skillfully edited and technically impressive, but stops the story in its tracks. Fortunately, the movie soon regains its footing and returns to a brisk pace.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Once again, my usual headline doesn't apply: The cast is filled with an impressive roster of performers, in roles both big and small. In addition to the major players mentioned earlier in this review, Feldman has assembled a veritable who's who of comedic talent (and some surprising work from well-known dramatic actors): Trevor Howard, James Earl Jones, Henry Gibson, Roy Kinnear, Spike Milligan, Terry-Thomas, Sinead Cusack, Hugh Griffith, Irene Handl, Avery Schrieber, Ted Cassidy...and even Ed McMahon.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What I Sang 8/25

I'm on vacation in Florida, but I've still managed to find a karaoke spot:

"We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel.
"How to Save a Life" by The Fray.
"Take the Money and Run" by The Steve Miller Band.
"And When I Die" by Blood, Sweat, and Tears.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

What I Sang 8/12

My tribute to John Hughes...

"Pretty in Pink" by The Psychedelic Furs.

"Sixteen Candles" by The Crests.

"Weird Science" by Oingo Boingo.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

VHS Vednesday: Liquid Dreams

LIQUID DREAMS (1991). Directed by Mark S. Manos. Starring Candice Daly, Richard Steinmetz, and Barry Dennen.

An ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful attempt at science-fiction noir, Liquid Dreams stars the ill-fated Candice Daly as Eve Black, a young woman just arriving in the big city to visit her sister...only to find her dead under mysterious circumstances. Since the police are ready to dismiss her sister's death as a drug overdose, Eve takes it upon herself to investigate by taking a job as a taxi-dancer at the club where her sister worked. She soon finds herself over her head with some of the most creepy characters ever seen, in an operation much bigger than she's ever imagined.
Director Mark S. Manos creates an interesting atmosphere, showcasing a stylish neon-futuristic city with a seedy, sleazy underbelly. (Because no matter how advanced the world may get, there will always be dive bars and fleabag hotels.) However, the movie comes perilously close to collapsing under the weight of its own bizarre elements...and while the MacGuffin of the story fits right into the film's future milieu, it doesn't change the fact that the basic storyline (heroine investigates loved one's death, gets mixed up with underworld, falls for tough, stoic cop) is as old as the hills.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Candice Daly provides an appealing characterization as the determined heroine; it's a shame her career never really took off. I have no way of knowing whether a more successful career might have led to circumstances that would have prevented her untimely death...or perhaps the limelight might have accelerated it; who can say? God, this is a depressing train of thought...let's move on to the rest of the cast.
The movie is chock-full of offbeat character actors, most prominently Barry Dennen (perhaps best remembered as Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar) as the primary villain, supported by former fashion model Juan Fernandez (recently seen as the title character in the Saw rip-off The Collector) as his equally sleazy right-hand man. In smaller parts, we've got such colorful performers as Tracey Walter, Paul Bartel, Mink Stole (of the John Waters repertory players), and punk rock legend John Doe. While none of their performances can be faulted individually, together they add up to a virtual overdose of quirkiness.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

What I Sang 8/05

Last night's offerings:

"Somebody to Love" by Queen (in honor of Sims' brilliant post).
"The Metro" by Berlin.
"Add It Up" by Violent Femmes.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

VHS Vednesday: Monster in the Closet

MONSTER IN THE CLOSET (1986). Directed by Bob Dahlin. Starring Donald Grant, Denise DuBarry, and Henry Gibson.

Quick Capsule:
A PG movie from Troma? Well, Monster in the Closet was a relatively early acquisition for the studio, before they developed their trademark style of over-the-top tastelessness. Instead, this is a gentle, affectionate spoof of '50s B-movies, featuring all the stock characters of the era (intrepid reporter, dedicated female scientist, absent-minded old genius, etc.) versus a deadly but goofy-looking creature (played by Kevin Peter Hall, who would go on to portray a much less laughable killer alien in Predator). Enjoyably silly fun.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Monster in the Closet is a veritable who's who of amusing cameos from familiar faces: From John Carradine as a cantakerous old blind man, to Stella Stevens in a gratuitous (but modestly framed above chest-level) shower scene, to Paul Dooley as Stella's ill-fated husband, to Donald Moffat as a gung-ho general, to Jesse White as a crusty newspaper editor. More substantial parts are played by Claude Akins (as the hard-headed local sheriff) and Henry Gibson (the aforementioned absent-minded old genius). However, the ones who are most likely to be leaving this off the resume are two child performers who have since gone on to fame: Paul Walker, in a major supporting role as the brainy son of the Dedicated Female Scientist...and Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson as a bratty victim of the closet monster. Geez, the '80s were a long time ago...