Category Archives: TV and Film

The Boy who could Fly

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The Boy who Could Fly 2

It’s not easy to be a teen actor. I mean, eventually, you grow up! Some are able to continue acting as adults, and others struggle. Then there are some who just decide that acting isn’t for them. Such was the case with a young actress named Lucy Deakins. I remember that she played the love interest of one of John Candy’s teenage sons in The Great Outdoors. However, after just a few films she stepped away from acting. I understand that she is now quite successful as a lawyer right here in the Denver area. One of her most substantial roles, before she turned to other pursuits, was in 1986’s The Boy who could Fly; a film I had never taken the time to watch until recently.

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Deakins plays a girl named Milly who has just moved into a new house with her mother (Bonnie Bedelia) and kid brother Louis. The family is dealing with the challenge of having recently lost their father. As the family adjusts to their new surroundings, they find there are unusual goings-on at the house next door. A teenage boy named Eric (Jay Underwood) lives there with his alcoholic uncle (Fred Gwynne). Eric is autistic and has not spoken since his parents passed away when he was very young. He now spends much time sitting outside of his second-story window, arms raised as if he is flying.

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Milly finds herself quite intrigued by the boy next door and ends up helping Eric at school a lot at the request of a kindly teacher (Colleen Dewhurst). Soon, Milly finds herself being somewhat infatuated with Eric…but there’s more. She also starts to believe that he actually does possess the ability to fly. This is fueled by strange moments including him showing up in her room one afternoon, and seconds later being back on his second-story window sill next door. As authorities start to close in on institutionalizing Eric, it’s up to Milly to protect him and perhaps prove to the world that he really can take to the skies.

I think I may have avoided this film for all this time as it always seemed to feel a bit like an After School Special. It does to a degree. It takes place in a very sweet and sugary world where all the teachers are angelic, and you can spot an alcoholic neighbor by their stubble and ripped ballcap. There’s a bit more to The Boy who could Fly, though. It’s a layered film that offers something very different than what the average teen film was presenting in the mid 80’s.

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The fact that Eric is autistic is an important element of the story, and is probably one of the main things that gives the film that After School Special feel. Ultimately, though, I think the film’s central theme has to do with how we deal with grief. Many of the film’s central characters are dealing with the loss of a loved one, and they each do so in a variety of ways. For Eric it’s seeing himself as soaring above the clouds. For Milly, it’s wanting to believe that he can, and be with him. She looks at him much the way Lois Lane looks at Superman during “Can You Read My Mind” sequence of the 1978 film. There’s a dream sequence moment that is very reminiscent of that iconic scene, and which is almost as lovely. I was most intrigued, though, by Fred Savage’s character, Louis. He deals with the loss of his father through an obsession with military toys. He goes so far as to bury his G.I. Joe action figures in a makeshift cemetery. This theme of dealing with loss is much weightier than what was typical for most 80’s teen fare.

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Of course, dealing with such heavy issues only works with a capable cast, and that’s more than a challenge when many of your actors are so young. This cast handles the material perfectly, first and foremost the young Miss Deakins. The weight of the film is truly on her shoulders. If we can’t see the situation through her eyes, this fantastical film falls apart. Lucky Deakins is pretty much in every scene of this film. The movie is all hers and she puts in what may be one of the best teen performances of 80’s cinema. I’m sure Miss Deakins ended up a fantastic lawyer, but I do wish we’d gotten a few more films to highlight her undeniable talent. Alongside her, Jay Underwood is given the challenge of an almost entirely silent performance. He hits the right tone for this challenging character. Balancing things out, Fred Savage (pre-Princess Bride) and The Facts of Life’s Mindy Cohn, as a nosy neighbor, bring in just enough comedy to not make the film feel too heavy. That being said, though, Savage has one of the film’s most emotional moments as he exhumes the bodies of his toys who have been lost in battle during a downpour.

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The teen movies of the 80’s are one of the things that made growing up a movie fan in that decade so great. The Boy who could Fly is a far cry from Anthony Michael Hall asking Molly Ringwald if he can borrow her panties for a bit. It’s something entirely different, but it deserves a place among the iconic teen films of the era.

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Making the Grade

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

Making the Grade 2

I always consider 1984 to be the year that really got the teen movie trend of the 80’s going in a big way. It saw the release of films like The Karate Kid, Revenge of the Nerds, and, most importantly, Sixteen Candles; the directorial debut of 80’s teen movie sage John Hughes. There are, however, a few teen films from 84 that did not reach the same heights of popularity. Take the private school comedy Making the Grade, starring Judd Nelson, an actor who would see his star rise the next year, thanks to Hughes casting him in The Breakfast Club.

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Nelson plays Eddie Keaton, a small-time hustler who owes a bunch of money to a local crook known as “The Diceman” played by Andrew Dice Clay. While attempting to escape The Diceman’s goons, he ducks into a golf course where he encounters Palmer Woodrow (Dana Olsen), a rich kid who is trying to get out of being sent to the stuffy Hoover Academy. Now, the folks at Hoover have never met Palmer before, so he figures he can hire someone to take his place while he heads off to Europe to party. Eddie is the perfect man for the job.

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Helped by Palmer’s friend Rand (Carey Scott), Eddie jumps into playing the role of Palmer. It takes him a while to adjust to the snooty types at the school, especially resident preppie bully Bif (Scott McGinnis). It doesn’t help matters when Eddie starts to make the moves on Bif’s girl, Tracey (Jonna Lee). Things also become a bit more challenging when The Diceman shows up on campus to claim his money, right at the same to that the real Palmer returns due to boredom.

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Making the Grade has all the elements that we expect out of 80’s teen sex comedies. We’ve got a goofball leading man, wacky side characters, hot chicks, a bad guy who ties his sweaters around his neck…it’s all there folks. I don’t think we can really call this film a teen sex comedy, though. It’s actually quite tame when it comes to the suggestive elements and is very low on nudity. It doesn’t end up being a particularly funny film, but it does end up being enjoyable. Strangely, the less raunchy approach is actually somewhat refreshing in this case.

The film is certainly helped by having an appealing cast. Though Judd Nelson’s post-Breakfast Club career was not as stellar as what his castmates enjoyed, there’s no denying that he was one of the most magnetic personalities of the whole Brat Pack scene. Nelson’s likability is on full display here, and he’s convincing as his character goes from second-rate street hood to pseudo-preppie. Scott McGinnis was one of the go-to guys for playing the rich guy bully roles and he’s at the top of his game again here. An array of other familiar faces fill in the other supporting parts, including Gordon Jump as the head of the school, Dan Schneider as the obligatory chubby kid, and Ronald Lacey (yes, Toht from Raiders of the Lost Ark) as one of The Diceman’s associates. The weak spot in the cast is Dana Olsen, who plays the actual Palmer Woodrow. I think the filmmakers were trying to make Palmer the obnoxious but charming character, but they forgot to add the charming part.

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The Diceman, though, is the best thing about this film. It’s strange for me to say that. As comedians go, I find your average roll of paper towels to be funnier than Andrew Dice Clay. I fear, though, that the guy may have missed his true calling as he often excels as an actor…even in bad films. Here he plays a gangster type and is basically doing the “Dice” character he created for his standup routines. He manages to make the character both buffoonish and legitimately intimidating all at the same time. The film’s funniest moments are all courtesy of Dice

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There’s nothing about Making the Grade, though, that we haven’t seen in a million other teen comedies. It’s got the have’s vs the have-nots, jocks vs geeks, etc, etc. It’s not very original, even as early in the teen movie game as 1984. Yet, it does it with a less debauched approach that makes it a bit easier to stomach.


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Forgotten Filmcast Episode 136: Once You Kiss a Stranger…

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

Once You Kiss a Stranger

On the new episode of the Forgotten Filmcast, Todd is joined by Tom Lisanti from to discuss the 1969 film Once You Kiss a Stranger…; a loose remake of the Alfred Hitchcock classic Strangers on a Train.

Download the Show:
Your Listen

Show Notes:
Sixties Cinema
Tom on Twitter

Films Discussed:
Once You Kiss a Stranger…
Model Shop
Hollywood or Bust

“Protofunk” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Go to Source – Forgotten Films

Micro But Many – A new book on Micro Machines

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If you’re here, I’m guessing you know about the 80s! And I’m guessing you know about, or are at least aware of, Micro Machines. As a quick explanation for people who are just exploring the internet, have found this and would like a brief overview, Micro Machines were miniature vehicles sold in sets of 5 back in the 80s. You could get sets of cars, planes, bikes and boats, and they were one of the most collected toy ranges in the late 80s/ early 90s.

Well, Bitmap Books have released what I consider to be the definitive publication on those tiny vehicles, a new book called Micro But Many.

The book charts the development, production of Micro Machines, starting with their beginnings in 1987 with Kaplinski right through to the end of their production with Hasbro in 2007. You get the whole history of the toy line, development photos and photos of prototypes.

It starts with a foreword from John Moschitta Jr, the original Micro Machines man himself. You will remember him as the fast talking voice from the original adverts.

Inside the book there are photos of 1000 different Micro Machine models, along with notes and stats. The book also notes whether each model is common, rare or super rare, making in an invaluable resource for both collectors and fans of the tiny vehicles.

The vehicles are split into six themed sections:

Unique Europeans – everything from Ferraris to the Mini Cooper
Awesome Americans – US cars including RV, Fords and Chryslers
Cool Classics – including Model T, Cadillac and Bentleys
Rad Paint Jobs – a range of cars with rad colourings
Cute Couples – cars which are part of a matching set
Planes, Trains and Snowmobiles – and helicopters!

There are a huge range of photos in each section, along with stats for over 250 of the Micro Machines

There are also sections for never before seen prototypes and design concepts, which are fascinating to see and read about. I do like reading all the behind-the-scenes details.

The book itself is a chunky hardback, running at 400 pages long, with a lenticular cover and 4 individual page marker ribbons – ideal for marking your favourite Micro Machines.

This genuinely has to be the definitive source of information on Micro Machines. It embraces the whole nostalgia of these tiny toys and the fact that so much details has gone into the book geuinely fills me with joy.

You can check out some of the cars at

The book retails at £29.99 and can be bought directly from Bitmap Books.

Also, come and show some Micro Machines appreciation on Twitter at Microbutmany and Bitmap Books.

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Loose Cannons

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

Loose Cannons 2

The evolution of the buddy cop film is an unusual thing. They began pretty straightforward…one’s a young guy, one’s an old guy. Perhaps it’s one’s a black guy, one’s a white guy. Before you knew it we had one is an alien and one is a human or one’s Whoopi Goldberg and one is a talking dinosaur. Somewhere before we hit that extreme came 1990’s Loose Cannons where one is a grizzled detective and the other has multiple personalities.

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The film follows Washington D.C. police detective Mac Stern (Gene Hackman) as he investigates some grisly murders. He’s partnered with a brilliant investigator named Ellis Fielding (Dan Aykroyd). This is Ellis’s first case after an extended time away from the force, recovering at a monastery after a traumatic experience. The monks, and his police captain uncle, think he’s ready to return, however they don’t realize that when exposed to violence, Ellis ends up switching into a number of alternate personalities to deal with the stress.

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Now, this situation doesn’t sit terribly well with Mac, but he also sees that Ellis is quite a skilled detective. Their investigation ends up leading them to a porn king known as Harry “The Hippo” Gutterman (Dom DeLuise). It seems that Harry has a deal in place to get a hold of an odd film that features Adolf Hitler in compromising situations…as well as a current German official (Robert Prosky), who denies having been a part of der fuhrer’s inner circle. This, of course, means a bunch of German goons are out to get their hands on the home movies first.

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Putting Gene Hackman and Dan Aykroyd together is perhaps one of the oddest team-ups that the buddy cop genre ever gave us. Both actors are ones who I am always excited to see in a film. Aykroyd ranks among my favorite SNL veterans, and I’ve been fascinated with Hackman since I first saw him as Lex Luthor. It is weird, though, to have Hackman playing the grizzled but wise-cracking cop next Aykroyd doing weird voices. Critics and audiences didn’t respond well to it back in 1990. Yet, as ridiculous as the film is, I found myself enjoying the ride.

Make no mistake, though, one must look past some pretty messed up stuff to find those nuggets of enjoyment. I’m no expert on mental health, but I’m sure there’s nothing even slightly accurate about this film’s depiction of multiple personality disorder. Most of the personalities Ellis drifts in and out of are impersonations of various pop culture characters. He does Captain Kirk, the Cowardly Lion, Popeye, and the Road Runner, among others. Let’s face it, if folks had a problem with the way M. Night Shyamalan dealt with multiple personalities in Split, they’d short circuit over this flick. I guess some would say it’s insensitive,’s Dan Aykroyd. If you’re going to have a character doing goofy voices, Aykroyd is the right sort of guy to hire.

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I’ve also got to hand it to Gene Hackman. You gotta know that Hackman realized he was slumming it a bit on this flick. Hackman is pro, though. I don’t think I could ever accuse him of phoning it in, even with the likes of Superman IV. He and Akyroyd work well together and managed to keep me engaged even through the film’s dopier moments. Even Dom DeLuise ends up being somewhat enjoyable. He’s kind of brought in as a third wheel a la Joe Pesci in the Lethal Weapon flicks, but director Bob Clark seems to know how to keep DeLuise reigned in. We definitely don’t get Smokey and the Bandit II level cringe out of DeLuise here.

Now, I’m a sucker for dumb comedies. While I was able to appreciate the dumb comedy aspects of Loose Cannons, many others will not. This is in no small part due to some weird tonal shifts that happen throughout the film. After all, the MacGuffin here is a Hitler sex tape! Plus, the whole reason for Aykroyd’s multiple personalities is that he was captured and tortured during a previous investigation. A pretty grim justification for Bert Lahr impressions. The film also has its fair share of violence, including a severed head dangling from a fishing line to open the film and a pretty big shootout at the close. Though, the biggest amount of violence in the film is perpetrated against a classic Woodie during a chase sequence that will have car enthusiasts weeping.

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In the end, Loose Cannons is a film that I enjoyed, but can I justify that? Not really. Maybe it’s because I like dumb comedies. Maybe I’m too easily won over by Dan Aykroyd doing silly voices. Maybe I miss seeing Gene Hackman…it’s been 16 years since he retired, after all. Honestly, I don’t quite understand why I enjoyed this film which is completely worthy of the hatred that most other reviewers heap on it.

Go to Source – Forgotten Films

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:
Your Listen

Show Notes:
50 Westerns from the Fifties
Toby on Twitter

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

“Protofunk” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Go to Source – Forgotten Films

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