Monday, January 29, 2018
Nanu Nanu, Folks
This is my entry in the Robin Williams Blogathon hosted by Realweegiemidget Reviews and In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood.
There is an excellent anecdote that the producer of Happy Days, Garry Marshall, asked his 8 year old son Scott what could be done to improve the show. Scott, being a typical 8 year old boy and an avid fan of science fiction said "Put a spaceman on it." Whatever Marshall's initial reaction really was, I don't know, since I wasn't there. I can imagine though that he rolled his eyes and humored the young tyke.
But he brought the idea to the writers and told them it was a great idea. (The story comes years after Mork and Mindy became a huge hit, so of course he told them at the beginning it was a "great idea".) The writers thought it was a horrible idea, and, according to Brian Levant, one of the writers, they actually drew straws to see which of them would be the sucker that had to come up with the script.
Several actors, including Dom DeLuise, were approached to play the part, but most of them turned tail and ran from the concept. Marshall's sister, Ronny Hallin, remembered seeing a young comedian named Robin Williams do a bit about a spaceman on stage. He was called in and, well, the rest is history. Of course, everybody knows Robin Williams now, but he was virtually unknown outside the comedy circuit stage at the time. Much of his performance in the first appearance on Happy Days was the result of some improvisation. According to Levant, by the time filming came along, much of Williams' schtick during rehearsals was added.
I am indebted to Charlie Jane Anders for the above trivia. If you'd like to read the whole article you can reach it from here.
Happy Days: My Favorite Orkan (1978):
Three of Richie's friends are concerned because Richie seems a little off recently. To cap that supposition, Richie bursts into Al's and tells everyone that he has seen a flying saucer. Of course, no one believes him. The Fonz even suggests even suggests that he is nutso, and "humdrum".
Richie returns home where he finds that the rest of the family has gone to see a movie. Richie settles down to do his studying, when someone knocks on his door. Enter Mork in a red spacesuit (jumpsuit) and a helmet.
Initially Richie thinks it is Raplh Malph, a notorious trickster, trying to play a joke on him. But Mork fries the family TV, and Richie becomes aware that it is not Ralph after all.
Richie, who is a budding journalist, realizes this is the event of a lifetime. He proceeds to interview Mork. Asked why Mork has come to Earth, he replies that he has come to collect a specimen of Earthmen. Thinking that Mork wants something special, Richie assumes that he means the President. Or maybe Hank Aaron (who at the time was a star on the Milwaukee Braves baseball team). When Mork replies that he is looking for an average Earthling, someone who is "humdrum", Richie finally concludes that he is to be the specimen. Richie initially agrees to go, that is, until Mork reveals that the time span that he calls a "bleen" that Richie will be gone is 2000 years.
When Richie's family comes home, Mork uses his finger to freeze them.
Richie panics and runs away. He goes to Al's where he tells the Fonz that a spaceman is after him. When Mork shows up, he and the Fonz duke it out over Richie.
The battle of "cool" versus "the fickle finger" of Mork is pretty funny. After the battle, Mork decides that he no longer wants Richie, instead he wants Fonzie. As Mork and his captive leave Richie screams "Don't take Fonzie!" Richie wakes up on his couch. It has all been a dream. There is a knock at the door. It is Robin Williams again, but dressed in normal clothes, asking for directions back to the highway.
At this point, the original episode ended. It was originally just a one episode odd entry in the Happy Days canon. But as Mork and Mindy was conceived, the episode was later amended with a scene of Mork conferring with Orson that his new mission was to go to the 70's and observe people in what was then the modern day. And this is how the episode appears today.
Happy Days: Mork Returns (1979):
Also called the "5th Anniversary Show", this show was just essentially clips of highlights from the first five seasons. The presence of Mork, who had as stated before, gone from 50's middle America to late 70's Boulder, CO, is for Mork to gain some insight on Earth concepts of friendship and love and family.
Mork only serves as a link to look back on some classic moments in the TV series, but Williams was still his uncontrollable self in the return.
As an added note, in the first season of Mork and Mindy, Mork remembers for Mindy how Fonzie helped set him up with a date with Laverne DeFazio. This crossover episode incorporated not only Happy Days, but Laverne and Shirley, too. Check out the youtube clip of this when you get a chance.
Thursday, January 25, 2018
Cabin in the Sky
This is my entry in the Busby Berkeley Blogathon hosted by Hometowns to Hollywood.
Cabin in the Sky (1943):
Eddie "Rochester" Anderson stars as "Little Joe" Jackson, a ne'er-do-well who is married to a devout Christian woman, Petunia (Ethel Waters). Petunia has a faith in God and a belief that He can redeem Joe, but Joe has his own demons to battle. For one, he is an inveterate gambler. But he has decided, to appease Petunia, to give up gambling and get right with the Lord.
But his former playmates have other ideas. They wheedle him to ditch the church service and go to the local gin joint with them. Joe ends up in a fight and he is killed by Domino Johnson (John W. Sublett). As he lays dying on his bed, Petunia pleads with God to give him another chance because of her faith, God sends an angel, called the General (Kenneth Spencer) and his retinue to revive him. But the Devil has sent his son, Lucifer, Jr. (Rex Ingram) to protect his own interests.
Joe is revived, but neither he nor Petunia know the deal that God and the Devil made. Joe just has a six month reprieve to change his ways or he will be sent to his eternal home in that other place... Junior manages to manipulate the outcome by insuring that Joe wins the Irish sweepstakes, but Joe discards the telegram, since he is unable to read it.
Ever the resourceful type, Junior manages to have Joe's gold digger mistress, Georgia Brown (Lena Horne) pick up the discarded telegram and after reading it delivers it to Joe.
Joe is happy at the news and intends to make Petunia happy with the windfall. Unfortunately Petunia walks in at the wrong time and sees Joe offering to buy Georgia a few trinkets and thinks he is cheating on her. She kicks him out and Joe is obviously on his way to losing his second chance. In the gin joint, Domino shows back in town after an absence.
Meanwhile, Petunia has shown up at the joint, and Domino puts the moves on her. Joe is jealous and a fight breaks out and Joe is once again killed. Unfortunately, so is Petunia. And Petunia was only acting like a loose woman to try to get Joe jealous. So when the judgement comes, the scales tip enormously in her favor and she is off to Heaven. But Joe has not done enough to redeem himself and is once again cast out.
Petunia pleads with the Lord that she can't go to Heaven without her man, but nothing doing as far as God is concerned. But then it is revealed that Georgia Brown, remorseful over the situation back on Earth, became a Christian and gave all of her share of Joe's money to the church. Joe just barely tips the scales and is going to get to go to Heaven with Petunia.
But that's not the end of the movie. If you have watched enough of these kinds of movies, I won't need to tell you what comes next.
Most of the movie was directed by Vincente Minelli, but Busby Berkeley had a hand in one number. Sublett as Domino does a song called "Shine".
I put some polish on my style piece
I made a shoestring into a tie
I cut the corners off the end of my coat
So they wouldn't fly.
I got my shirt from a silver lining
I got my cane from an old oak tree
And that is just the reason
The folks all nicknamed me
Just because my hair is curly
And just because my teeth are pearly
And just because I always wear a smile
And suits to dress up in the latest style.
Gee, I'm glad I'm living
Why I take troubles all with a smile
Just because my color shade's
A wee bit different, baby
That's why they call me "Shine".
The dance number is focused on just one person, that of Domino, unlike many of the great dance sequences that some of the others in this blogathon have chosen, but it doesn't lack for entertainment. If you watch closely, you will recognize some of the dance moves, I bet. Yes, its almost a sure bet that Michael Jackson copied some of the dance moves from this movie into his own act.
About the only drawback to this sequence, although the song is surely a toe tapper, is the fact that the song seems to revel in the fact that the singer approves of the nickname "Shine". For those of you unfamiliar with older generations, this was also a derogatory name used by whites to call black people in the day. Admittedly it didn't have the negative cachet that other words had, but it still feels a little disturbing, but maybe that's just me.
A good double feature would be to pair this with The Green Pastures another all black cast feature film that involves a Christian spirituality.
That ends this post. Drive home safely, folks.
Monday, January 22, 2018
Midnite Drive-Ins Movie List
This post has been a long time coming. (Translation: I've procrastinated doing it for a long time... Took me 3 hours to do all the links!) Following is a list which I will continually update as new entries are made. This will also appear as a sidebar for yours (and my) convenience. Yours: In case you want to find a specific review, and Mine: so I won't end up doing repeats...a distinct possibility as this blog gets larger and my old age makes my memory grow dim...
War Movies in the 60's
A Memory: Wizard of Oz
A Tribute to Joe Bob Briggs
John Wayne Retrospective
Hank Worden and John Wayne
History of Pirates in Movies
Richard Matheson's I Am Legend in Film
7 Faces of Dr. Lao, The (1964)
12 Monkeys (1995)
12 to the Moon (1960)
200 Cigarettes (1998)
1990: The Bronx Warriors (1982)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
3:10 to Yuma (1957)
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949)
Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, The (1984)
The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space (1995)
Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, The (1994)
All of Me (1984)
Alien Nation (1988)
Amazon Women on the Moon (1987)
The Amazing Colossal Man (1957)
American Christmas Carol, An (1979)
American Werewolf in London, An (1981)
Angry Red Planet, The (1959)
Animal House (1978)
Appointment with Danger (1950)
Around the World in Eighty Days (1956)
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
Assignment:Outer Space (1961)
Attack of the 50 Ft Woman (1958)
Auntie Mame (1958)
Back to the Future Trilogy (1985-90)
Back to School (1986)
Batman and Robin (1997)
Battleship Potemkin (1925)
Battle of the Worlds (1961)
Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)
Big Lebowski, The (1998)
Big Sleep, The (1946) (brief)
Big Sleep, The (1946) (full)
Big Trouble in Little China(1986)
Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)
Bill & Ted: Face the Music (2020)
Bill W. (2012)
Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966)
Birdcage, The (1996)
Blade Runner (1982)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Blood Alley (1955)
Blood and Sand (1941)
Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh (1991)
Blue Dahlia, The (1946)
Blue Lagoon, The (1949)
The Blues Brothers (1980)
Born in East L.A. (1987)
Boys from Brazil, The (1978)
Boys in the Band (1971)
Brain that Wouldn't Die, The (1963)
Breakfast Club, The (1985)
Bridge on the River Kwai, The (1957)
Bridges at Toko-Ri, The (1951)
Bucket of Blood, A (1959)
Bulldog Drummond Trilogy
Bulldog Drummond Comes Back (1937)
Bulldog Drummond's Revenge (1938)
Bulldog Drummond's Peril (1937)
Cabin in the Sky (1943)
Cactus Flower (1969)
Caine Mutiny, The (1954)
Cannonball Run (1981)
Cannonball Run II (1984)
Cape Fear (1961)
Capricorn One (1979)
Cat's Eye (1985)
Cheech & Chong Nice Dreams (1981)
Cheech & Chong Up in Smoke (1979)
Children's Hour, The (1961)
Clockwork Orange, A (1971)
Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, The (1969)
Conan Double Feature (rescheduled TBA)
Conqueror, The (1956)
Cowboys vs. Aliens (2011)
Dark Passage (1947) (brief)
Dazed and Confused (1993)
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)
Death Race 2000 (1975)
Detroit Rock City (1999)
Devil's Brigade, The (1968)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Die Hard (1988)
Dirty Dozen, The (1967)
Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974)
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986)
Dr. Goldfoot & the Bikini Machine (1965)
Dr. Goldfoot & the Girl Bombs (1966)
Dracula's Daughter (1936)
Earth Girls are Easy (1988)
Easy Rider (1969)
Eating Raoul (1982)
Eight Men Out (1988)
El Dorado (1967)
Escape from LA (1996)
Escape from New York (1981)
Eye of the Needle (1981)
Eyes of My Mother (2016)
Falling Down (1993)
Fantastic Planet (1973)
Field of Dreams (1989)
Final Countdown, The (1980)
Fire Maidens from Outer Space (1956)
First Blood (1982)
Five Days (1954)
Flash Gordon (1980)
Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938)
Fly, The (1950's trilogy)
- The Fly (1958)
- The Return of the Fly (1959)
- The Curse of the Fly (1965)
Forbidden Planet (1956)
Forty Guns (1957)
Frank Capra's Why We Fight documentaries (1941)
French Connection, The (1971)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Ghost in the Shell (1995)
Ghost of Frankenstein, The (1942)
Ghostbusters II (1989)
G.I. Samurai aka Time Slip (1979)
Glass Cage, The (1955)
Glass Key, The (1942)
Glen or Glenda? (1953)
Go For Broke! (1951)
Godfather Part II, The (1974)
Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956)
Golden Voyage of Sinbad, The (1973)
Grease II (1982)
Great Escape, The (1963)
Great Race, The (1965)
The Green Slime (1968)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Gun Belt (1953)
Guns of Navarone, The (1961)
Hearse, The (1980)
Heaven Can Wait (1978)
Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)
High Noon (1952)
High Voltage (1929)
The High and t5he Mighty (1954)
Heavy Metal (1981)
Hitch-Hiker, The (1953)
Horse Soldiers, The (1959)
How to Murder Your Wife (1964)
Howard the Duck (1986)
Hustler, The (1961)
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed up Zombies (1964)
Invaders from Mars (1953)
Invaders from Mars (1986)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The (1956)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The (1976)
It Came from Hollywood (1982)
Its a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)
James Bond Ouevre
The Jazz Singer (1980)
Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966)
Jet Pilot (1957)
Journey to the Seventh Planet (1962)
King Kong: A Retrospective (rescheduled TBA)
Key Largo (1948) (brief)
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
King of the Zombies (1941)
KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978)
Kiss of the Spider Woman (!985)
La Cage aux Folles (1978)
A Lady Takes a Chance (1943)
Land that Time Forgot, The (1975)
Last Detail, The (1973)
Last Unicorn, The (1982)
Last Woman on Earth (1960)
Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
Logan's Run (1976)
Lone Gun, The (1954)
Longest Day, The (1962)
Longest Yard, The (1974)
Longtime Companion (1989)
Lost Boys, The (1987)
Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, The (2001)
Lost Weekend, The (1945)
Major League (1989) and Major League II (1993)
Maltese Falcon, The (1931)
Maltese Falcon, The (1941)
Man who Invented Christmas, The (2017)
Man Who Knew Too Much, The (1956)
Mars Attacks! (1986)
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Moon Over Parador (1988)
Morons from Outer Space (1985)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Murder by Death (1976)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
My Cousin Vinny (1992)
Myra Breckenridge (1970)
Night of the Ghouls (1959)
Night of the Hunter (1955)
North to Alaska (1960)
Now You See Him, Now You Don't (1972)
Old Yeller (1957)
Omega Man, The (1971)
On the Beach (1959)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
Panic in the Year Zero! (1962)
Paragraph 175/How to Survive a Plague
People that Time Forgot, The (1977)
Phantom Planet, The (1961)
Pied Piper of Hamelin, The (1957)
Pink Floyd- The Wall (1982)
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1956)
Planet of the Apes
- Planet of the Apes (1968)
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
- Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)
- Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)
- Battle for the Planet of the Apes(1973)
- Planet of the Apes TV series
Planet Outlaws (1953)
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
Please Murder Me (1956)
Portnoy's Complaint (1972)
Princess Bride, The (1987)
Public Enemy, The (1931)
The Quiet Man (1952)
Race with the Devil (1975)
Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
Reefer Madness (1936)
Red Dawn (1984)
Return from Witch Mountain (1978)
Reunion in France (1942)
Rio Bravo (1959)
Road Warrior, The (1981)
Robe, The (1953)
Robocop II (1990)
Robot Monster (1953)
Rocky IV (1985)
Rocky Horror Picture Show, The (1975)
Ruthless People (1986)
Santa Claus Conquers Martians (1964)
Satan Met a Lady (1936)
Scarlet Street (1945)
Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
She Done Him Wrong (1933)
Shining, The (1980)
Shootist, The (1976)
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Sinbad and the Eye of Tiger (1977)
Snake Pit, The (1948)
Soldier's Story, A (1984)
Son of Dracula (1943)
Son of Frankenstein (1939)
Sons of Katie Elder, The (1965)
Soylent Green (1973)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
Star Wars (1977)
Sting, The (1973)
Strange Love Martha Ivers, The (1946)
Streets of Fire (1984)
Strictly Ballroom (1992)
Strongest Man in the World, The (1975)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Stunt Man, The (1980)
Teenage Zombies (1958)
They Live! (1988)
Thin Man, The (1934)
This Gun for Hire (1942)
This is Not a Test (1962)
This is Spinal Tap (1984)
Three Amigos! (1986)
Throw Momma from the Train (1987)
Time Bandits (1981)
Time Slip aka G.I. Samurai (1979)
Time Travelers, The (1964)
To Have & Have Not (1944) (brief)
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995)
Too Late for Tears (1949)
Trading Places (1983)
Train Robbers, The (1973)
Undefeated, The (1969)
Urban Cowboy (1980)
Von Ryan's Express (1965)
Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965)
Warriors, The (1979)
War Wagon, The (1967)
Watcher in the Woods, The (1980)
White Nights (1985)
Wild Angels, The (1966)
Without a Clue (1988)
Wizard of Oz, The (1939)
X: the Man with X-ray Eyes (1963)
Zombies of the Stratosphere (serial) (1952)
TV Shows, Cartoons:
Batman (feat. Mr. Freeze)
Batman (feat. Shelley Winters as "Ma Barker")
Batman (feat. Van Johnson as "The Minstrel")
Batman (feat. Catwoman)
Bugs Bunny Cartoon ("Hareway to the Stars")
Bugs Bunny vs. Daffy Duck
Dick Van Dyke Show ("It May Look Like a Walnut")
Happy Days (feat. Robin Williams as "Mork")
Honeymooners, The ("Ralph the Spacman")
Man in the Santa Claus Suit (1979)
Monk (Lee Goldberg episodes)
Monk (Mr. Monk's OCD)
Monk ("Mr. Monk and the Red-Headed Stranger")
Night Gallery ("Eyes")
Planet of the Apes ("The Liberator")
The Prisoner (a study of "The Village")
Sherlock (BBC series)
The Stand (1994)
Star Trek (Two Time Travel episodes)
Star Trek: The Next Generation: "I, Borg"
Star Wars Holiday Special
Tales of the City (miniseries)
Taxi ("Jim: A Space Odyssey")
The Twilight Zone: Robots in TZ
The Twilight Zone ("The Bard")
The Twilight Zone ("The Invaders")
The Twilight Zone ("Night of the Meek")
The Twilight Zone ("Once Upon a Time")
What's My Line? (Lucille Ball appearances)
WKRP in Cincinatti ("Turkeys Away")
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 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)
Crítica Retrô: H. G. Wells' Things to Come (1936)
Diary of a Movie Maniac: End of the World (1916)
The Dream Book Blog: Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Maddylovesherclaassicfilms: Deep Impact (1998)
Moon in Gemini: War Games (1983)
Movierob: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005), I Am Legend (2007)
Old Hollywood Films: Panic in the Year Zero! (1962)
Once Upon a Screen: Fail Safe (1964)
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)
Silver Screenings: 1984 (1956)
Seeker of Truth: The Story of Mankind (1957)
Speakeasy: Five (1951), This is Not a Test (1962)
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.