Category Archives: TV and Film

Forgotten Filmcast Episode 135: Jesse James vs. The Daltons

This article is from Forgotten Films. Click the title to hop over there.

Jesse James vs the Daltons

Well, while you’re shut up inside your house, why not check out the latest episode of the Forgotten Filmcast. This time Todd is joined by Toby Roan from 50 Westerns from the Fifties to talk about a 1954 3-D western directed by William Castle, Jesse James vs The Daltons.

Download the Show:
iTunes
Podomatic
Your Listen

Show Notes:
50 Westerns from the Fifties
Toby on Twitter

Movies Discussed:
Jesse James vs. The Daltons
Slither
House on Haunted Hill

Music:
“Protofunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Go to Source – Forgotten Films



Goliath and the Dragon

This article is from Forgotten Films. Click the title to hop over there.

Goliath and the Dragon 1

Anyone who went to Sunday School when they were young knows the name Goliath. The story of how the young David defeats the evil Philistine giant is one that is often shared with kids. Though, it’s kind of a grisly story for kiddie fare. It’s got decapitation and everything! The bottom line, though, is that we’ve come to associate the name “Goliath” with a villainous individual. So it’s a bit strange that when American International Pictures got their hands on this 1960 Italian Hercules film they chose to change their lead character’s name to Goliath. The original film’s title is translated as Revenge of Hercules, but for AIP’s purposes, it became Goliath and the Dragon. Strange thing is, all the stuff involving said dragon was added for the American version. That means that neither of this film’s title characters, Goliath or the dragon, appear in the original Italian release of this film. The movie business can be a bit strange sometimes.

Goliath and the Dragon 5

The adventure begins with Goliath (Mark Forest) on a quest into the underworld to retrieve an item called the Blood Diamond. What muscle-brain doesn’t realize is that he’s been sent on this mission by King Eurystheus (Broderick Crawford) because he figures the monsters that guard the diamond, including the three-headed Cerberus and a strange bat creature will surely cause the death of Goliath. With Goliath out of the way, the king will be able to gather allies for an attack on Thebes.

Goliath and the Dragon 2

Goliath survives, of course, but now has to deal with family drama as his brother Hyllus (Sandro Moretti) is in love with Thea (Federica Ranchi), the daughter of one of Goliath’s enemies. Hyllus, however, becomes convinced Thea is in love with Goliath. So a plan is hatched by the king to get Goliath’s wife to trick Hyllus into poisoning his brother. This backfires, too, and we have various battles between Goliath and various murderous beasties including a bear and an elephant before we get to the titular dragon.

Goliath and the Dragon 3

Goliath and the Dragon is a film that jumps back and forth between the extremes of production value. The print I watched of the AIP version of this film was pretty pathetic. It was washed out and had a considerable amount of scratches and other imperfections. However, the Italian cut of the film can also be found online in a much more pristine copy. The colors used in the sets and costumes really pop and show that this is no bargain-basement production.

Now, the creature effects are another thing altogether. The first monster we lay eyes on is the three-headed dog Cerberus, portrayed here by a fire-breathing puppet that is completely unable to maintain eye contact with whomever it’s attacking and is just a few notches above papier mache. A few moments later, Goliath faces a bat creature that looks a bit like a wookie with wings. It flaps around on wires and does more bumping into Goliath than it does actually posing a threat. Later in the film we have a centaur which only appears in four-legged horse man form when shot at a distance. It seems to be able to change from two-legged to four-legged at will. I mean, if you’re able to do that, why not just stick with two all the time? At least you’d save on shoes. Honestly, the most intimidating beast in the film is not a special effect at all. It’s the elephant! The king uses him to execute prisoners by just stepping on their faces.

Goliath and the Dragon 6

Of course, we need to address the titular dragon. This is an element that was not in the original version of the film. His presence definitely feels tacked on. At times he is portrayed as a stop-motion effect, which is not all that bad. It’s not Harryhausen, for sure, but we’ve all seen worse. For close up shots the dragon is just a large puppet sticking its head out of a hole in the rocks. Ultimately, the sequence is pretty goofy as Goliath spends most of the battle wrestling with the creature, standing right in front of its gaping jaws. Um, Goliath…buddy, dragons breath fire, ya know. He’s safe though since this film’s budget didn’t seem to allow for the dragon to deep fry our hero. It certainly seems like more of the budget was put into sets and costumes than making cool creatures.

Goliath and the Dragon 4

All the cheesiness of the effects aside, Goliath and the Dragon still manages to be pretty enjoyable. The actors seem to be doing a solid job. It’s always a bit hard to tell when dealing with a film where the dialogue is dubbed, but nobody really seems to be hamming it up. Sure, there are many elements of the film that are a bit clunky, but the actors all seem to be doing what they can to elevate the material.

So, in the end, Goliath turns out to be not such a bad dude, after all. I certainly could’ve done without so much of the family drama subplot of the film. At times it treaded a bit too close to being a mythological soap opera with the occasional monster attack thrown in. The film ends up succeeding enough, though, to see past the weaker moments and deliver some fun sword and sandal silliness.

Go to Source – Forgotten Films



Some Kind of Nut

This article is from Forgotten Films. Click the title to hop over there.

Some Kind of Nut 6

There are certain celebrities who just always seem to have a wholesome image. I’d put Dick Van Dyke in that category; a guy known for squeaky clean sitcoms and family-friendly films. So, it’s a bit strange to see him as a character who does something controversial and bucks the system. I know your mind is going wild right now imagining just what sort of nasty thing Van Dyke might have done. Brace yourselves, for in the 1969 film Some Kind of Nut Dick Van Dyke…grows a beard.

Some Kind of Nut 2

Van Dyke plays Fred Amidon, a teller at a bank in New York. He’s going through a divorce with his wife, Rachel (Angie Dickinson), but has a new fiancee in the form of a fellow bank employee, Pamela (Rosemary Forsyth). One day, while having a picnic lunch with Pamela, Fred is stung on the chin by a bee. This makes it difficult to shave, and as he is going on a three-week vacation anyway, he decides to just let the beard grow. When he returns to the bank, fuzz and all, his employer takes issue and quickly demands Fred shave it off.

Some Kind of Nut 3

Now, Fred is the sort of guy who usually falls in line with his boss’ demands, but he now decides that he is going to take a stand. He refuses to shave. This leads Fred on a path that takes him into the counterculture, finding kindred spirits in various hippies and beatniks. He also finds that his estranged wife becomes quite intrigued by this side of him, which she had seen before. Meanwhile, Pamela is repulsed by the beard, and even ends up plotting with her controlling brothers to drug Fred and shave the beard off themselves. This leads to a half-done job that fires up Fred even more.

Some Kind of Nut 4

Films like Some Kind of Nut are always a bit intriguing. For every 60’s film where Hollywood succeeded in capturing the counterculture movement of the day, you also have weird moments like this where they tried to do something that would appeal to those long-haired youngsters, but with a straight-arrow star. In all seriousness, though, how edgy is a film really going to get when your star is the guy who sang “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?” He’s just too clean-cut and likeable to be convincing as a guy who’s going to create such a stir over a bit of facial hair. Perhaps part of it is that the beard in question barely even registers as a beard. It’s just a few notches above peach fuzz, to be honest. Had they given Van Dyke a ZZ Top number and more freedom let loose, we may have ended up with something that had a bit more fire.

Some Kind of Nut 5

That being said, Van Dyke is still an appealing screen presence. He manages to make the film entertaining to a degree, even when it seems to run out of ideas. The script definitely meanders a bit through its middle section. It also helps that there is some real and unexpected chemistry between Van Dyke and Angie Dickinson. Of course, Dickinson is as sexy as ever, but I was surprised to find myself completely buying that she and Van Dyke’s character caused a bit of steam once upon a time. They are an odd match, to say the least, but it strangely works.

Some Kind of Nut

From a technical standpoint, the filmmakers try very hard to do some unusual things that just don’t work terribly well. This begins with frame one of the opening credits sequence which follows the bee that starts this whole story as it harasses various people around Central Park. It then moves into a sequence where Van Dyke and Forsyth scream and swat at said insect, captured with some strange camera work, including use of a fish-eye lens. The final chase sequence of the film is also headache-inducing as it divides the screen into small sections to show us several different camera angles all at the same time. If watching the split-screens that make up much of the documentary film Woodstock is tough for you, this sequence will make your brain explode. I can’t imagine how this sequence would’ve looked in the days of pan-and-scan.

In general, I’d say Some Kind of Nut is a film that suffers from a number of miscalculations. Casting Dick Van Dyke as someone who is going to be embraced by the counterculture, as likeable as he is, is a miscalculation. Strange camera techniques and split screens, also a miscalculation. I suppose it’s to the credit of seasoned performers like Dick Van Dyke and Angie Dickinson that the film still manages to have a certain level of entertainment value. It’s all just a bit too weird to be ignored.

 

Go to Source – Forgotten Films



Some Kind of a Nut

This article is from Forgotten Films. Click the title to hop over there.

Some Kind of Nut 6

There are certain celebrities who just always seem to have a wholesome image. I’d put Dick Van Dyke in that category; a guy known for squeaky clean sitcoms and family-friendly films. So, it’s a bit strange to see him as a character who does something controversial and bucks the system. I know your mind is going wild right now imagining just what sort of nasty thing Van Dyke might have done. Brace yourselves, for in the 1969 film Some Kind of a Nut Dick Van Dyke…grows a beard.

Some Kind of Nut 2

Van Dyke plays Fred Amidon, a teller at a bank in New York. He’s going through a divorce with his wife, Rachel (Angie Dickinson), but has a new fiancee in the form of a fellow bank employee, Pamela (Rosemary Forsyth). One day, while having a picnic lunch with Pamela, Fred is stung on the chin by a bee. This makes it difficult to shave, and as he is going on a three-week vacation anyway, he decides to just let the beard grow. When he returns to the bank, fuzz and all, his employer takes issue and quickly demands Fred shave it off.

Some Kind of Nut 3

Now, Fred is the sort of guy who usually falls in line with his boss’ demands, but he now decides that he is going to take a stand. He refuses to shave. This leads Fred on a path that takes him into the counterculture, finding kindred spirits in various hippies and beatniks. He also finds that his estranged wife becomes quite intrigued by this side of him, which she had seen before. Meanwhile, Pamela is repulsed by the beard, and even ends up plotting with her controlling brothers to drug Fred and shave the beard off themselves. This leads to a half-done job that fires up Fred even more.

Some Kind of Nut 4

Films like Some Kind of a Nut are always a bit intriguing. For every 60’s film where Hollywood succeeded in capturing the counterculture movement of the day, you also have weird moments like this where they tried to do something that would appeal to those long-haired youngsters, but with a straight-arrow star. In all seriousness, though, how edgy is a film really going to get when your star is the guy who sang “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?” He’s just too clean-cut and likeable to be convincing as a guy who’s going to create such a stir over a bit of facial hair. Perhaps part of it is that the beard in question barely even registers as a beard. It’s just a few notches above peach fuzz, to be honest. Had they given Van Dyke a ZZ Top number and more freedom let loose, we may have ended up with something that had a bit more fire.

Some Kind of Nut 5

That being said, Van Dyke is still an appealing screen presence. He manages to make the film entertaining to a degree, even when it seems to run out of ideas. The script definitely meanders a bit through its middle section. It also helps that there is some real and unexpected chemistry between Van Dyke and Angie Dickinson. Of course, Dickinson is as sexy as ever, but I was surprised to find myself completely buying that she and Van Dyke’s character caused a bit of steam once upon a time. They are an odd match, to say the least, but it strangely works.

Some Kind of Nut

From a technical standpoint, the filmmakers try very hard to do some unusual things that just don’t work terribly well. This begins with frame one of the opening credits sequence which follows the bee that starts this whole story as it harasses various people around Central Park. It then moves into a sequence where Van Dyke and Forsyth scream and swat at said insect, captured with some strange camera work, including use of a fish-eye lens. The final chase sequence of the film is also headache-inducing as it divides the screen into small sections to show us several different camera angles all at the same time. If watching the split-screens that make up much of the documentary film Woodstock is tough for you, this sequence will make your brain explode. I can’t imagine how this sequence would’ve looked in the days of pan-and-scan.

In general, I’d say Some Kind of a Nut is a film that suffers from a number of miscalculations. Casting Dick Van Dyke as someone who is going to be embraced by the counterculture, as likeable as he is, is a miscalculation. Strange camera techniques and split screens, also a miscalculation. I suppose it’s to the credit of seasoned performers like Dick Van Dyke and Angie Dickinson that the film still manages to have a certain level of entertainment value. It’s all just a bit too weird to be ignored.

 

Go to Source – Forgotten Films



Forgotten Filmcast Episode 134: Jeremy

This article is from Forgotten Films. Click the title to hop over there.

Jeremy

The new episode of the Forgotten Filmcast is here! This time, Todd is joined by Tony Cogan from Coog’s Reviews to discuss the 1973 film Jeremy, starring Robby Benson and Glynnis O’Connor.

Download the Show:
iTunes
Podomatic
Your Listen

Show Notes:
Coog’s Reviews
Tony on Twitter

Movies Discussed:
Jeremy
The American Friend
Nighthawks

Music:
“Protofunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Go to Source – Forgotten Films



Supervan

This article is from Forgotten Films. Click the title to hop over there.

Supervan 2

In the mid 80’s, many suburban folks made the switch from station wagons to vans as the preferred method of family transportation. I remember my father doing all sorts of research before purchasing ours. Now, just a few years earlier van culture was something entirely different. Trust me, our family van wasn’t decked out with a shag carpet interior or vicious animals painted on the side. That’s what we get, though, in this 1977 piece of “vansploitation,” Supervan.

Supervan 1

Our story focuses on a young man named Clint (Mark Schneider) who is planning on entering his van, The Sea Witch, in a big event known as The Invitational Freak-Out. While on the road he meets up with a girl named Karen (Katie Saylor) who is being roughed up by some nasty bikers. Sadly the encounter with the bikers also leads to The Sea Witch getting crushed. Lucky for Clint, he has a van designer buddy named Bosley (Tom Kindle) who has been working on a secret project…a futuristic, solar-powered super-van he has dubbed “Vandora.”

Supervan 3

Clint and Karen head for the Freak-Out, but it’s not going to be an easy trip. A nasty oil company exec, T.B. Trenton (Morgan Woodward), is out to stop them since, you know, a solar-powered van wouldn’t exactly be good for business. Oh, and did I mention that Karen happens to be his daughter?

Supervan 4

What passes for the plot of Supervan is about as thin as they come. Much of the film is devoted to montages depicting the different competitions going on at the Freak-Out. There’s a zig-zag driving contest around a series of cones, a distance contest to see who can make it the furthest up a muddy slope, and a wet T-shirt contest. All these events are given play-by-play courtesy of a wacky DJ for radio station KVAN. These sequences serve primarily as a way to pad out the minuscule story, but these moments aren’t without a certain level of fun. It certainly seems as if much of this film may have been filmed at an actual gathering of van enthusiasts out in the middle of some muddy field. Strangely, amongst the modest crowd viewers can spot poet Charles Bukowski. He features prominently in the wet T-shirt contest scene.

Supervan 5

While aspects of the Freak-Out are somewhat interesting in that 70’s time capsule sort of way, the titular “Supervan” is less than spectacular. Sure, it looks kind of cool, but we don’t really get a good picture of what makes it such a revolutionary leap forward for vankind. Short of one scene where the van uses a laser to blast our leading man out of prison, the van doesn’t do much that is terribly impressive. Its primary futuristic features seems to be that it emits a constant beeping sound as it tools down the highway. It’s good that it’s solar-powered and all, but I’ll take an 8-track player over the continuous beeping, thank you very much.

Like the van itself, the human characters are also not terribly interesting. Clint and Karen are downright drab, and it doesn’t take long to stop caring if they ever manage to make it to the Freak-Out. There are a few strange side characters that manage to spice things up a bit, but ultimately most people who would’ve plunked down a few bucks to see this flick weren’t the least bit interested in the human cast. Heck, the last moments before the credits roll are devoted to a montage of the artwork decorating the sides of the vans. Bottom line, Supervan is essentially the cinematic equivalent of going to a car show.

 

Go to Source – Forgotten Films



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