Friday, February 26, 2016

God or Devil? Peter O'Toole's Manic Director in The Stunt Man

This is my entry in the Oscars Snubs Blogathon being run by yours truly and the ladies at Silver Scenes, which is being run on Oscars® Weekend.

Peter O'Toole was forever the "also ran" in the Academy Awards.  He holds the record, at 8 nominations, for being the most nominated individual to have never won a statuette.  He had some stiff competition in most of those contests: Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird, Marlon Brando in The Godfather, John Wayne in True Grit.  A couple of those losses stand out in my opinion:  Rex Harrison for My Fair Lady???  I would have picked ANY of the other four nominees before Rex Harrison.

I admit I have never been enamored of Robert DeNiro's performance in Raging Bull.  And while I thoroughly enjoyed John Hurt in The Elephant Man, (not the least because I, too, suffer from the same disease, albeit not as drastically), I think the best nominee of the bunch was O'Toole's turn as an unhinged movie director Eli Cross in The Stunt Man.

The Stunt Man must surely be the least recognizable title of  an Oscar nominated movie.  Many people I've mentioned the movie to have responded with "The What???"  I am sure most movie reviewers have heard of it, especially those around at the time of it's release, since it has an 89% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  (That's up-to-date as of 2 minutes ago.)  But it didn't really get widespread release, because I'd never seen it on the marquees around the town where I lived and I was a young avid movie-goer at the time. Peter O'Toole, jokingly I think, on the DVD commentary, says it was released in about 11 theaters.  "This movie wasn't released, it escaped" he says.

I saw this movie once, and only once, when it made it to cable on HBO or Showtime (I don't remember which).  This was in 1982.  But the film made such a profound impression on me that I could relate some details of it even 30 some-odd years later.  Then one day last year I was browsing the used DVD stacks at a local resale shop and saw it in the stacks.  I pounced on it like a fox on a skittish rabbit, and raced home to watch it for only the second time.

Sure enough, it was just as good as I remembered it.  And O'Toole blew me away again in what should be included when mentioning his iconic roles.  There are several other familiar faces in the movie:  Steve Railsback, who surely freaked out millions in his portrayal of Charles Manson in Helter Skelter.  Barbara Hershey, who has either been nominated or even in some cases won every other award besides the Oscar over the years.  Familiar character actors, faces who are immediately recognizable, such as Alex Rocco, Allen Garfield (Goorwitz) and Adam Roarke round out the cast.

The Stunt Man (1980)

A brief synopsis before continuing on the examination of Peter O'Toole's performance.

The movie begins with a ragged looking man, Cameron (Steve Railsback) being arrested.  Cameron escapes capture and, while on the run, encounters a Dusenberg which he thinks has pulled over to give him a ride.  Instead the driver tries to run him down and he causes the car to go off a bridge.  A helicopter comes in and we see Eli Cross (Peter O'Toole) looking at him.  It turns out that the driver was a stunt man in a movie and Cross is the director.

When the cops show up on the set (different cops, these are only investigating the previously unplanned ditching of the Dusenberg),  Cross convinces Jake (Alex Rocco) that Cameron is the stunt driver who drove the Dusenberg.  This is aided by the fact that the original stunt driver's body cannot be found.  So for the rest of the movie Cameron becomes "Bert" the titular "stunt man."  There is a thriving love interest in the story between Cameron and the leading lady of the movie within the movie, Nina Franklin (Barbara Hershey), and Cameron eventually becomes convinced that Cross is trying to kill him in the stunts.  A fantastic movie on its own merits, but you came to see a demonstration of why Peter O'Toole deserved the golden statuette.  So...

For a reference, I'd like you to scan back up and see the two movie posters I used.  One shows O'Toole as a puppeteer, or god if you will, directing the actions of one man, the stunt man.  The other shows a devil behind a camera.  Both of these images are wonderful encapsulations of the character of Eli Cross.  Our first image of Cross, outside of the view of him in the helicopter, is when he descends from the helicopter on land.  The angle is from about knee height looking up, which really pounds home a God impression.

A query of Cross about what happened on the bridge reveals that the stunt man could not be found.  O'Toole gives the impression that he's more upset about the delay the accident will cause rather than the loss of one stunt man.  After Cameron "rescues" Nina from the river, and Cross invites him to be a stuntman He asks "What about your people?"  O'Toole responds somewhat callously "Don't worry about my people, they'll call you anything I want them to."  The God complex rears it's head once again.

O'Toole manages to convey more in some scenes with just a pensive look.  Perhaps it has something to do with his eyes.  Plus the fact that I think O'Toole was probably on the same drugs that Dick Clark took to keep looking so young.  He was about 50 when this movie was made, yet for most of the picture, he could pass for 30.  That manages to push the devil side more prominently.

O'Toole's character is even callous towards his leading lady.  During one scene in which her parent's are visiting the set, they are invited to see the dailies, (that's movie slang for film that was shot that day).  He slips in a scene of her making love to the leading man, then later feigns innocence and shock when telling her about the "faux pas".

The ego of Cross is best depicted in one scene.  O'Toole is trying to convince his new stunt man that movie magic can accomplish anything "Do you not know that King Kong the first was just three foot six inches tall?  He only came up to Fay Wray's  belly button!  If God could do the tricks we can do he'd be a happy man!"

The fact that O'Toole could pull off both sides equally well within the same role, and yet convince you that he is just a sweet innocent soul on the side makes this movie even more entertaining.  Is he really trying to kill Cameron, or is he just so fanatically focused on his movie getting made that he doesn't realize the dangers he is putting his crew through?  Or maybe all of this is just a put on to keep the crew on it's toes.

Side by side, compared to some of O'Toole's other great portrayals, I honestly would rank this at least in the top 5.  He managed to make the character come to life and be memorable and isn't that what the Best Actor award is all about?

That's it for this week, folks.  Hope you enjoyed it, and least are intrigued enough to dig around and find this gem of a movie.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Oscars® Snubs Blogathon Roll Call

The Oscars® Snubs Blogathon is here!  Keep checking back over the weekend.  I will update the roll as I get the links and find the time to add them.  (Keep in mind I'm a working man and have to work all day Friday!)  Thanks to all who participated in this, and I hope you enjoyed yourselves.  Once again, thanks to the ladies at Silver Scenes who helped me co-host this blog.


The Oscars® Snubs Blogathon Roll Call

Silver Scenes presents a solid case for Debbie Reynolds in The Unsinkable Molly Brown

There's a riot in the cell block over Joe McDoakes' snub by  Movie Movie Blog Blog

Silver Screenings proves it's not such a wonderful life when It's A Wonderful Life was snubbed.

Robert Preston gets his well-due praise from A Person in the Dark for Victor/Victoria.

Angelman's Place says Auntie Roz was robbed in Auntie Mame

Yours truly (The Midnite Drive-In) makes a case for Peter O'Toole in The Stunt Man.

CineMaven is ready for a closeup of Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard,

Gary at MovieFanFare makes a case for 6 time snub victim Thelma Ritter.

Little Bits of Chaplin gives Charlie Chaplin the praise the Oscar committees withheld.

Sometimes They Go To Eleven gives us a taste of the film noir classic Mildred Pierce.

The Hitless Wonder feels Barbara Stanwyck should have won a few of her own statuettes.

William Powell's snubs is the subject du jour for Phyllis Loves Classic Movies

100 characters was not enough for Peter Sellers to win an Oscar, Crítica Retrô opines.

Margaret Perry enumerates several Oscars Katherine Hepburn should have received.

A Shroud of Thoughts  has some thoughts on the Beatles' snub.

Silver Scenes second entry notes the astounding snub How the West Was Won got for Cinematography

The Love Pirate makes an appeal to rethink Best Picture nominee Master and Commander.

Movie Night Group wonders where is Charles Laughton's Oscar.

Defiant Success laments Lumet's snubs.

Mildred's Fatburgers makes a case for Agnes Moorehead in The Magnificent Ambersons.

More to come...


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Alone in the City

This entry is the third of three entries for the Movie Scientists Blogathon.  This absolutely captivating idea for a blogathon comes to us from the warped minds of Christina Wehner and her laboratory assistant, Silver Screenings.  The blogathon spans over three days.  Today, the third day is devoted to Lonely Scientists.

Charlton Heston had a brief period of his career in the late 60's and early 70's in which he was a sci-fi icon.  Previously reviewed on this blog were three of those movies (Soylent Green  as well as his two adventures on the Planet of the Apes;  Planet of he Apes and Beneath the Planet of the Apes)  Of course late in his career he was cast as an ape in Tim Burton's remake of Planet of the Apes.  In between the Apes movies and Soylent Green, Heston made The Omega Man.

Not by coincidence were all three dystopian views of the future (Planet of the Apes: A world taken over by apes,  Soylent Green: A world with population growth beyond control, and The Omega Man: A world devastated by a man-made plague.  One could say that almost the entire output of sci-fi movies of the 70's was a negative dystopian view of the future.  Silent Running, THX-1138, Logan's Run, and even Mad Max  predicted societies gone amuck.  Phantom Empires wrote a piece for this very blogathon on Colossus: The Forbin Project, which, while not entirely a dystopian future does exemplify the somewhat pessimistic view that 70's sci-fi filmmakers had of science and the future.

 The Omega Man was directed by Boris Sagal, a TV director and also the father of Katey Sagal (Peg Bundy on Married With Children) and twins Liz and  Jean Sagal (former Doublemint Twins, among other credits).  The script was written by the husband/wife team of Joyce and John Corrington, who also wrote the screenplay for Battle for the Planet of the Apes, a movie reviewed earlier this month on this blog.

The Omega Man was actually the second attempt to put to film the Richard Matheson novel I Am Legend.  The first was a 1964 Italian production called The Last Man on Earth, and starred Vincent Price.  More well-known is the recent I Am Legend (2007), starring Will Smith.  Richard Matheson lived long enough to see all three adaptions.  He was originally involved in the italian production, but was dissatisfied with the results and opted to have himself credited as "Logan Swanson" in the credits.  As far as The Omega Man, they changed the plot so much he wondered why they even bothered giving him credit.

An interesting note:  A kiss between Charlton Heston and Rosalind Cash is rumored to be the first interracial kiss in a movie.  Of course, Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura's kiss on the TV show Star Trek predates that by a couple of years, and a British claim for an even earlier one predates both.

An interesting note on the music.  In several scenes, Heston's character pops in an 8-track (remember those?  If you do, news're getting old. But so am I...)  In both scenes that you can see the 8 track he pops in, the title is a Frank Sinatra release.  But the sound that emanates from the speakers (or at least what you hear following this action) is NOT a Frank Sinatra song.  The first scene this happens is at the very beginning of the movie.  I zoomed in on the tape and it says (I think) "Frank Sinatra: Strangers in the Night").  But what you hear is Max Steiner's "A Summer Place".  At another point in the movie, he puts another 8-track in the player in his fortress,  (another Frank Sinatra tape, but my DVD player is too unclear for me to read the title.)  But what comes out of the speakers this time is Thelonius Monk's "'Round Midnight".  OK, so maybe no one else in the world is anal enough to check that out, but I thought it was interesting.

The Omega Man (1971)

The movie opens with a solitary car cruising the deserted streets of Los Angeles.  Col. Robert Neville (Charlton Heston) is on the look out for signs of life.  But he is not looking for normal human life.  Neville believes he is the only survivor of a plague that wiped out most of humanity, while leaving a large contingent (although not as large as the population that was there before the plague) who survived the plague, but are deformed.  Neville thinks himself to be the only still human survivor, and he is immune to the plague due to having injected himself with an experimental immunization drug. See the Colonel was also a doctor and a scientist, and had been working on the immunization before the plague hit.

A Sunday drive (with guns)

The plague caused most of humanity, or at least most of the humanity in Neville's part of the world, to fall off in a quick death. It happened in part due to a Chine-Russian war that triggered another World War.  The time of said plague was around March of 1975.  (The movie makers were making a political point, since it was only 1971 when the movie was made).  The events of the present, in the movie, occur about two years later, in August of 1977.

But not all humans succumbed to immediate death from the plague; there are remnants.  These remnants are living, but are pale, ashen and covered in sores, and have to stay under cover of darkness due to a defect that causes their eyes to sort of dilate.  They are blinded by the light and only come out at night.  (This is in direct contrast to the original novel which depicted the survivors as vampires, still unable to come out at night, but significantly different from the movie's plague survivors.)

Anthony Zerbe could use a little rouge...
Matthias (Anthony Zerbe) is the leader of "The Family" as he calls his cohorts.  They are driven by one goal.  To kill off Neville, who is the last remaining vestige of the old world.  The Family eschews the weapons of the old order and instead packs spears and clubs and primitive siege weapons like a catapult to try to assault Neville's fortress.  This back and forth scuffle between the two armies (well one an army, the other just a former army man) takes up the first 30 minutes of the movie.

In the mean time during breaks in the back and forth battle Neville plays chess with and converses with a bust of Julius Caesar.  The bust, of course, does not actually talk back, and Neville is actually playing himself, but I gather it's a way to combat the extreme loneliness he must feel, when the only other possible companions he might have in the world want to kill him.

And the sad part is the statue keeps winning...

On one occasion while Neville is scouting he encounters a Negro woman (Rosalind Cash) who is not apparently a victim of the plague.  She sees him and runs away.  He tries to catch her but fails.

That ain't no mannequin...

A short time later Neville is finally captured by The Family and put on a sort of trial.  He is sentenced to death for the crime of being of the old order and using the forbidden electronic and modern weaponry.  As he is about to be burned at the stake, however, he is rescued by another heretofore unknown plague survivor (Paul Koslo).

Dutch (right) and the kids

After escaping, Neville learns that "Lisa" and "Dutch", are not the only ones still unaffected by the plague.  These people, however, are not immune as Neville is, but just have not contracted the plague yet.  this is evidenced by the fact that Lisa's brother, Ritchie (Eric Laneuville), is sick with the plague.  They have rescued Neville for the sole purpose of seeing if he can do anything  to help.  They transport Ritchie back to Neville's fortress in the city where he works on a serum made with his own immune blood.

The healers at work

The humans do have some success with the serum, but it is not going to be easy to convince Matthias and The Family that they can be cured.  The Family has succumbed to Matthias' rantings about the evils of the old order's modernism.  He is determined to wipe out the old order completely and in his mind Neville is the only thing left of that old order.

Just watch this movie, especially toward's the end and try to count how many allusions there are to the theme of Christ's redemption of humanity in the Biblical story.  Neville being the Christ figure in this allusion, of course.  The Omega Man  is an apt title in more ways than one in this respect.

Well kiddies, hope you enjoyed the weekend's romp through the various scientists.  I'm about worn out myself.  Guess I'll go see if they left any interesting energy boosting formulas in the lab.  Drive home safely folks!


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Brain Food for Insomniacs

This entry is the second of three entries for the Movie Scientists Blogathon.  This absolutely captivating idea for a blogathon comes to us from the warped minds of Christina Wehner and her laboratory assistant, Silver Screenings.  The blogathon spans over three days.  Today, the second day is devoted to Mad Scientists.

Hard to believe that it's been 4 months since I re-inaugurated  this blog and I have as yet not reviewed any of the output by Crown International Pictures and only one by American International Pictures ("The Wild Angels" see Heavy Metal Thunder for that review).  The reason this is so amazing is the reason I got started in reviewing in the first place, and the reason I called my blog The Midnite Drive-In (as opposed to, say, The Good Ship Lollipop Theater) is because I wanted to expose the generally unacquainted masses to the little known and barely remembered bygone years of the drive-in movie.

Drive-in movies, in their heyday, were the outlet for some pretty cheesy quick-filmed, low-budget stuff,  most of which had no real social value, and many that were designed to appeal to what was referred to as the "Peter Pan Syndrome":

a) a younger child will watch anything an older child will watch;
b) an older child will not watch anything a younger child will watch;
c) a girl will watch anything a boy will watch;
d) a boy will not watch anything a girl will watch;
therefore to catch your greatest audience you zero in on the 19-year old male.
(Quoted from the A.I.P. entry on  Grindhouse Database)

The majority of A.I.P.'s and C.I.P.'s output fit in the sci-fi and horror field, with some counterculture youth films thrown in the mix.  Roger Corman, who directed the aforementioned Wild Angels was one of the frequent purveyors  of this type of movie.  Corman, however, was unique in that most of his movies acquired a cult following, whereas some of the others would barely be remembered if it wasn't for the efforts of the likes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 making a mockery of them back in the 90's.  And admittedly quite a number of those mocked movies warranted the mocking.  But if you are a movie masochist, like me, some are genuinely fun to watch.

Brains (and disembodied heads) have been a sci-fi staple over the years.  Some of the ones scheduled for later reviews in this blog (if I can find them) are Monstrosity: The Atomic Brain, Donovan's Brain, The Brain from Planet Arous  and The Brain Eaters (which has some claim to fame because Robert A. Heinlein sued because of the plot's resemblance to his book The Puppet Masters

Mad scientists were usually behind the scenes or even at the forefront for many of these renegade brain movies.  (Mad scientists are like that.  One brain is not enough, got to have a brain on the side, too....) So let's delve into the psyche of a couple of mad scientists who had less than scrupulous plans for the brains of their subjects.

The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962)

Cheesy movies have to start somewhere.  This one starts on the operating table.  Top doc, and father to sonny boy doc has just failed to keep his patient alive.  Son doc wants to try his own methods to save the patient.  Dr. Cortner the father (Bruce Brighton) expresses objections to Dr. Cortner the son's (named Bill) methods and ideas, (Jason "Herb" Evers), but allows him to try his way. Bill saves the patient and the day  After the operation Bill's fiancee, Jan (Virginia Leith), a nurse (every male doctor's fantasy.  Hell lots of male's fantasy...), shows up and they make plans for a getaway to Bill's country home.

The Doctors (with Jan who still has a good head on her shoulders)
Just before he leaves Bill gets an urgent call to come to the country home from his assistant, Kurt (Leslie Daniel).  The thing in the closet has started acting up again.   The scene shifts to Bill and Jan driving down the road to the country home.  Bill decides he must hurry and starts speeding and driving very dangerously for the condition of the road.   He ends up crashing the vehicle and severing the head off Jan in the process.  But he grabs the head and makes a mad dash the rest of the way on foot.  Once at his secret laboratory, he hooks Jan's head up with a lot of wires and fluids to keep the head alive.  (You knew it had to get ridiculous at some point, didn't you...?)

A man, a plan and a Jan in the pan
Kurt tries to get Bill to look at the creature in the closet (a mysterious thing behind a closed door that can only grunt and rap on the door).  But Bill is on a tight schedule.  He has to find another body for Jan, and quick, because her head won't survive long, even with all those wires and tubes hooked up to it.  So Bill goes to look for a body.  And where's the first place he goes?  Why to a strip club, of course.  (Hey, that's where I'd start...)

The doc knows what he wants
Bill is frustrated by the fact that he can't get one of the girls alone.  "I can't afford to be seen as the last person to see a girl alive" he says.  So he goes out driving and following women on the street instead.  (I guess in the 60's, it wouldn't look so suspicious for a guy to drive slowly by women.  Gee, I miss the good old days...)  He ends up picking up a girl he knows.  Just as he's about to drive off with his score, another girl shows up.  There goes that prize.  But the three go to a beauty contest, and while Bill is leering at the beauties, one of the girls mentions Doris Powell (Adele Lamont), who is an old girlfriend of Bill's, a loner and conveniently, never goes out in public.  She just allows photographers to shoot her in her own apartment.

Body of choice

Doris has a scarred face, and Bill uses this excuse to get her to come to his country home.  He tells her his father can do wonders with new techniques in plastic surgery.  She falls for this ruse, hook, line and sinker and off they go.

Meanwhile Jan has struck up a conversation with the Thing in the Closet, The thing can only grunt and knock, but it understands her, and they agree that Bill is insane and must die.  Bill comes back with Doris and drugs her and takes her to the lab.  Jan tries to tell him not to do it, but Bill is determined, and tapes Jan's mouth shut to quiet her.

Well, that's one way to shut a woman up.

The Thing in the Closet has something to say about the procedure, too.   When we finally get to see it, it looks pretty ridiculous.

Watch the movie to see the freak

Most of the people in this movie never made another, and some didn't even use their real names.  Leslie Daniel was credited in most of the other movies he worked on with his real name Tony La Penna.  Jason "Herb" Evers did have a prolific career (he was an actor in the previously reviewed Escape from the Planet of the Apes on this blog),  Virginia Leith was apparently so embarrassed as being cast as a head case, she waited 15 years before appearing in another movie.  If you are a fan of the TV show Barney Miller, one of the photographers in Doris' apartment may look vaguely familiar.  Arny Freeman was a frequent guest character on that show.

The Madmen of Mandoras (1963)  (aka. They Saved Hitler's Brain)

The mad scientist in this entry is not one man but a whole cadre of Nazi docs (Joseph Mengele clones?).  The movie was originally released as The Madmen of Mandoras in 1963.  About 7 or 8 years later a group of UCLA students bulked up the original movie with added footage and released it as They Saved Hitler's Brain.  Try as I might I could find nothing stating who the "actors" (if you can call them that) were who were involved in this bulking up project.

Just to cover the additional footage first, there are two investigators paralleling the original movie and trying to find out what secret shenanigans are going on.   The two investigators, one male and one female, are so radically different in hairstyles and clothing that it is jarringly obvious it's not part of the original movie, even if you had never seen the original.  Plus both of them are killed off early on in the movie, so their presence is entirely unnecessary to the plot.  My suggestion is to watch Madmen  and just ignore They Saved Hitler's Brain.

The plot is rather convoluted even without the extra footage anyway.  The movie begins in an office where a professor (John Holland) details a mysterious gas known as G-gas, which can kill a person PDQ.  What's the G stand for?  I don't know, but considering the plot I'd say it stands for "Good Grief!"  (Yeah I know, that's two Gs.  Add another G and you get what it probably cost to make this movie.)  Anyway the professor, it turns out, is one of only a few people who know the antidote.  This is why he is kidnapped shortly thereafter.  See, he get a mysterious phone call that is daughter is in trouble.  When he goes to her apartment, her boyfriend David (Scott Peters) is unconscious and Suzanne (Dani Lynn) is gone, and the phone in the apartment has been destroyed.  The professor and David get kidnapped as they leave to find a working phone.

A mysterious stranger, whose name is given as Teo (Carlos Rivas) kidnaps the professor's other daughter, K.C. (Audrey Caire)  and son-in-law, Phil (Walter Stocker).  He tries to tell them the whole story but is shot and killed while in the car with them.

No, no more cigarettes! Please!

They stuff his dead body in a phone booth (a very convenient place to stuff a dead body) and take off for the South American island of Mandoras (because the stranger did manage to tell them that's where the professor was taken).  They are met by the police who seem to know that they were coming.  After being put up in a hotel room that they didn't reserve, they are met by the twin brother of  Teo (at least, it's the same actor, so I guess you are supposed to assume that)

Here's where we find the horrible truth.  See Hitler was a crazy man.  (As if you didn't already know.)  Towards the end of his life he had multiple look-alikes posing as him in public, and when the end of the war was almost evident, Hitler had his head removed and preserved in a glass case.  (So who's really the crazy ones here, Hitler or the people who came up with this plot?)  Hitler's head mostly just leers, so it's up to you to wonder how he's giving orders.  His one sole line in the movie is "Macht schnell!"

Macht schnell!

As always in this type of movie, the Nazis are secretly planning to renew their struggle to take over the world.  But they are too incompetent to even hang their own flag right.  It's hung up backwards.  (the lines are supposed to break right not left...I was a WWII history major in college.)

Backwards flag

The two find Suzanne who apparently is oblivious to anything resembling real life, and it's not because she's drugged, she's just ditzy.  And speaks in some kind of slang teenybopper language that must have been written by someone who only vaguely listened to the (then) current jargon of teens and made the rest up.  They are taken to the professor who is being held in a cell and bombarded with noise to make him cry "Uncle".

Believe it or not, they aren't pumping Kanye West into his cell.

It also turns out that David (remember Suzanne's boyfriend?) has been going along with the Nazis all along.  (The blonde hair should have been a dead giveaway, but even I was fooled.)  There are a lot of twists and turns in this one, none of which will really surprise you, but this is well worth a watch if you appreciate this kind of movie.  It ends just the way you probably expect, except that one person's life is changed forever by having to live with ditzy Suzanne the rest of his life.  (not that that's entirely horrible... The actress playing her was cute.)

Phil, KC and (Woohoo!) Suzanne

Well that's all from the back seat this time.  Be sure to come back tomorrow for part 3 of the Movie Scientists Blogathon  the theme of which is Lonely Scientists.