Saturday, January 13, 2018

Announcing End of the World Blogathon

It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
And I feel fine

The aliens are poised above the Earth with their own versions of Weapons of Mass Destruction.  A renegade terrorist group has just taken the world leaders hostage and threatened to destroy the world with their black market bombs.  Someone has just escaped from a secret military installation with a bio-engineered virus.  A vengeance on a sinful world is about to be enacted by a supernatural deity.  In other words it's time to bend down between your legs  and kiss your ass goodbye.

On the other hand, maybe this scenario has already happened.  Maybe the world already made a mess of itself.  Perhaps the world is being overrun by zombies or vampires or intelligent apes.  Or aliens have successful subjugated the Earth for thousands of years already.  There are many scenarios in which survivors of a post-apocalyptic world are just trying to get by or maybe even trying to figure out just what the hell happened while they were sleeping.  In any case, the potential has been covered by Hollywood countless times, and this is the inspiration for this blogathon.

The blogathon is being brought to you by your truly and Steve at Movie Movie Blog Blog.  

You are encouraged to let your muses run wild in this event.  Any scenario in which the world is trying to prevent the destruction  (or deal with the inevitable destruction) of Earth, or trying to cope with the aftermath of said destruction is fair game.  An incomplete list of acceptable titles can be found here.  But don't feel you are limited to these.  If you have an idea, submit it.  As long as it fits in the theme of the blogathon it is fair game.

Rules are simple:  Pick a movie, let us know about it so we can add you to the roster and then write about it and post it to your blog.  Early submissions are OK, but the dates of the blogathon are Mar. 30-Apr. 1 and you won't see a link on our blogs until then.  Other wise, have fun! (If the End of the World can be said to be fun...)

Only one thing.  Since there are such a wide range of possibilities we ask that you limit one person per movie.  But remakes are separate movies so if one person chose, say. War of the Worlds (the 1953 version) another could write about War of the Worlds (the 2005 version).

Below are several banners from which you might choose to promote our blogathon.  (which you should, otherwise Steve just busted his ass for nothing... :-D Eight of them...))

The roster:

The Midnite Drive-In:  On the Beach (1959)  and 12 Monkeys (1995)

Movie Movie Blog Blog:  Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) and Strange Brew (1983)

Caftan Woman: When Worlds Collide (1951)

The Dream Book Blog:  Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

Maddylovesherclaassicfilms: Deep Impact (1998)

Moon in Gemini: War Games (1983)

Movierob:   TBA

Open Letters to Film:   V for Vendetta (2005)

portraitsbyjenni: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 and 1978)

Realwweegiemidget Reviews:  Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Thoughts All Sorts: Sunshine (2007)


Friday, January 5, 2018

Time Waits for No Man

I have stated before that one of my favorite science-fiction tropes is the concept of time travel.  With the proper machinery, or spell in some cases, or even a map showing holes in the fabric of the universe, one can travel back in time to witness or even interact with events that occurred years or centuries ago.

Want to witness the birth of Jesus Christ (or prove that it didn't happen, depending on your perspective)?  Want to see the signing of the American Declaration of Independence?  Or that red letter day when Dr. Emmett Brown conceived of the flux capacitor?  All could be achieved if you had the proper equipment.  And it doesn't even have to be a souped up DeLorean.

Depending on your concept of the theme, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of potential viewing possibilities that cover the concept of time travel and the potential dangers therein.  "Dangers?" you ask.  Well, of course.  The classic Grandfather Paradox is an example.  Suppose you went back in time and accidentally (or intentionally, if you were so minded...)  killed your grandfather before he met your grandmother.  You would therefore not have been born and thus could not have gone back in time to commit the deed in the first place.

You could create even greater havoc if you chose to eliminate a prominent historical figure like, say, Adolph Hitler.  While you might think that would be a good thing, it may not necessarily be so.  Some theoretical historians believe that without Hitler's influence the Nazis could have won WWII.

An IMdB poster, with apparently a lot of time on his hands created a list that runs up to (so far) 587 titles that cover the concept of time travel.  Admittedly some are a stretch, and some (he includes It's A Wonderful Life)  don't really fit in my opinion, but that is still a fairly exhaustive list.  I haven't seen nearly as many of them as I would like.  In previous blog entries I have discussed the Bill and Ted Movies,  The Final Countdown, Time Bandits, and a couple of TV show episodes, one from The Twilight Zone and two from Star Trek.

Future entries will include more.  Later this year I am planning an entire week dedicated to H. G. Wells, whose output included a classic in the genre, The Time Machine.  I am considering comparing and contrasting the two theatrical versions, with maybe some references to an equally interesting movie along the same lines, Time After Time. The Back to the Future trilogy is also on the horizon for an entry. I also owe some long time readers a piece on Twelve Monkeys which I was forced to leave out of the Monty Python Blogathon last year due to unforeseen circumstances.

I am, however, interested in your ideas, dear reader.  Do you have any favorite time travel movies?  Leave your comments, and I assure you I will at least TRY to track them down.


Monday, January 1, 2018

In Like "Thin"

This is my entry in the Bill and Myrna New Year's Blogathon hosted by Phyllis Loves Classic Movies and The Flapper Dame.

The comedy/mystery The Thin Man was the first to feature Dashiell Hammett's characters, and the success and popularity of the booze guzzling high society pair spawned no less than 5 sequels.  All of the sequels featured a variation on "The Thin Man" even though the original thin man was only a character in the first movie.  But you could be forgiven if you thought that the title character was referring to Nick Charles.

Nick and Nora Charles are a parody in and  of themselves.  Before I ever saw The Thin Man, I saw Neil Simon's Murder by Death, which featured parodies of several famous detectives, but in particular was a parody of the Nick and Nora duo, with David Niven and Maggie Smith playing Dick and Dora Charleston.  It wasn't until I saw the original characters that I realized just how exquisite Niven and Smith's parody of them was.

Dashiell Hammett's  main claim to fame was undoubtedly the character of Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon, but I would think that the Charles duo would be a close second.   And much of that is due to the excellent efforts of Powell and Loy in the film roles.  In fact, to quote Roger Ebert in a review he did of this same film "William Powell is to dialogue as Fred Astaire is to dance."

And Myrna Loy is no slouch either, although she is at her best when she makes those cute little faces at Powell rather than a witty response.


But despite all this, the real star of the film is Skippy, the terrier who plays Asta, their pooch.  This dog is a scene stealer from the get-go. This mutt is a bigger camera hog than his contemporary, Terry, who played Toto in The Wizard of Oz.

There you go.  Now that you have been introduced to the stars of the show, on with the show.

The Thin Man (1934):

Dorothy Wynant (Maureen O'Sullivan) comes to her father's workshop to announce her engagement and impending wedding to Tommy (Henry Wadsworth)Her father, Clyde (Edward Ellis) is an eccentric inventor who works in a laboratory designing new devices.  Dorothy learns that Clyde is on his way out of town but she exhorts him to be back in time for her wedding, which has been scheduled to occur in 3 months.

Within the first 15 minutes of the movie we discover that not only does Clyde's secretary have a secret lover on the side, but that she has been trying to bilk Clyde out of money for her own security.  Not only that, but Clyde's ex-wife, Mimi (Minna Gombell) wants more money than she got from the divorce.  She has a gold-digger husband (played by Caesar Romero in an early role) who also lurks at the fringe wanting more money.  There is a lot of skullduggery going on early in the film, and a lot of red herrings are thrown at the audience, but it's all in fun, because the real stars haven't come on the scene yet.

Enter Nick Charles (William Powell), who in his first appearance is trying to show the bartender how to mix drinks.  His style is to mix them, based on the contents, to a rhythm of a dance number.  (Wonder if James Bond knows about this...)  Nora (Myrna Loy) shows up with Asta and the repartee begins.  One of the first funny bits is when Nora asks Nick how many martinis he's already had.  When he replies 6, Nora tells the bartender to line up 5 more for her.  These are two lushes who are competing with each other, but instead of doing it for superior ranking in ability to hold their liquor, they are doing it out of love.  (Whether that's a good thing or not is debatable...)

Dorothy, whose father it turns out was an old client of Nick's from his days as a professional private detective, approaches him to find out what has happened to her father.  It seems he has not been seen since that meeting 3 months earlier and no one seems to know what has happened to him.  But circumstances crop up almost immediately.  His secretary/mistress turns up dead and the guilty finger seems to point at Clyde.  She had been sponging money off him for some time.  Which didn't set too well with the ex because she wanted to keep dipping her finger in the pie.  In fact, it was she who discovered the body of the mistress.... hmmm...

 The suspicions abound as to who is more deeply involved in the affair than they are letting on, but police lieutenant John Guild (Nat Pendleton) is convinced that Clyde is the culprit and is intent on locating him.  When another dead body turns up, the fingers still point primarily to Clyde, but Nick is convinced of his innocence, enough so that he constantly presents a 2 to 1 bet with Lt. Guild that Clyde is innocent and that someone else will eventually come to the fore as the guilty party.

At Clyde's laboratory a secret basement is discovered where a skeleton is discovered.  Due to the clothes that cover the skeleton, it is deduced by Lt. Guild that the body is that of a man that had been blackmailing Wynant, the same case that Nick had been working on for Wynant several months back.  And once again, the outcry is that Wynant is the guilty party.  All except for nick who still insists that Wynant is innocent.

The finale of the case is revealed in the quite Agatha Christie-ish like fashion, all of the suspects are gathered at a dinner party where Nick finally solves the case.  Of course, it's probably no surprise to any one familiar with these types of movies, but Nick is correct in his prediction that Wynant is innocent of any of the murders.  What is surprising is the details of where and what Wynant had been doing in the preceding 3 months.  No spoiler alerts here; watch it for yourself.  If nothing else for the comic parts.  As a detective story it is lacking, in my opinion, but the comedy makes it worth a view.

Well, the martinis are calling, so I'll be off.  Drive home safely, folks.