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Thanks to Huckleberry Hound and Supercar, Jon Abbott has been writing professionally about popular culture for around thirty years, during which time he has written over four hundred articles on American film and television for over twenty different trade, populist, and media magazines of all kinds, including all the major U.K. sci-fi titles. These have included City Limits, Television Weekly, TV Comic, Starburst, Video Today, Stills, Media Week, Adult Movies on Video, What Video, What Satellite, TV Zone, Time Out, The Face, The Dark Side, Video Buyer, Video Monthly, Video World, Cult Times, Comedy Review, Home Entertainment, SFX, and Dreamwatch.
He is the author of several books, including Irwin Allen Television Productions 1964--1970, and Stephen J. Cannell Television Productions: A History of All Series and Pilots, both published by McFarland. Now concentrating solely on 20th century film and TV, and self-publishing on Amazon’s Createspace platform, he has published The Elvis Films, Cool TV of the 1960s: Three Shows That Changed the World, and Strange New World: Sex Films of the 1970s. See his Amazon Author's Page!
I wouldn't dream of calling this a complete or comprehensive list. Like most people, fascism isn't top of my list for fun film watching... but every so often a semblance of reality seeps into my comfort zone. Remember--all politicians are scum, but if you don't vote, the nutters get a bigger percentage... and they're the first ones to show up at the ballot box...
And while I'm bitching, surely the exact match should come up first, rather than "most popular"? I know what I'm typing, and I know what I'm looking for. We don't all follow the crowd like sheep down to the ma-aaa-aal, y'know... Okay, that's the end of the ranting, time to start lusting...
Allen started as a writer for other Jewish comedians, but soon began doing his own stand-up, exploiting his wimpish Jewish nebbish persona; he was a nerd before the term was invented. He broke into films with an assortment of bizarre, very '60s off-the-wall projects that didn't quite work, but had their moments; when he started writing and directing his own work, the results were patchy and slapdash, but showed moments of brilliance. His talent is the self-deprecating throwaway line, mixed with visual humour inspired by the silents. He peaked with the superb Annie Hall, but made the fatal mistake of listening to the critics--the accolades turned him toward the aforementioned pretension and self-indulgence of the likes of Interiors and Stardust Memories.
The quality, depth, and significance of Allen's subsequent films remain the subject of fierce debate, but the opinions expressed are usually a matter of personal preference. Most of his films are worth seeing at least once, and fall into the love-or-hate category, but when you find one you like, it becomes a very special film (mine is Crimes and Misdemeanors). He is without doubt a unique and original film-maker, a curious combination of typical Jewish New York wit and European sensibilities. But I prefer the early, funny ones. One of my most memorable movie house experiences was sitting in the Brighton Film Theatre in the 1970s for a late-night double-bill of Sleeper and Love and Death with an audience howling with such hysterical laughter that I had to see the films again a few weeks later to hear the numerous jokes I'd missed the first time because they'd been lost in the roar.
So I'm not going to get into all that stuff about Woody Allen being a serious film-maker or a profound philosophical genius. I'm simply going to point you toward his 1970s comedy films because they put the paint-by-numbers comedies of the last thirty years to shame.
Anyhow, if you want to watch the original run of Godzilla films and their related tie-ins sequentially, then I hope this helps. Always go with the original, always choose subtitles when available (dubs are for the kids). A chronological list of the reboots is out there somewhere under the DISCOVER pre-fix, as is a tentative list of non-Godzilla scifi from Toho (hit the see all lists logo). Feel free to offer any correct corrections with the emphasis on correct...
Blue Falcon 2: The Return Begins Again--I love it.
I haven't seen any Scooby Doo cartoons since I watched some of the feature length animations made in the 1990s, but I was lured into this one by references to Frankenstein Junior and The Herculoids on the DVD cover (wasted on most U.K. purchasers, to whom these characters are virtually unknown, unless they are incurable fanboys or cult TV nerds like me). I doubt the number of people who have heard of the Herculoids or remember Frankenstein Junior and the Impossibles from the late '60's in Blighty run to three figures. Anyhow, this is all a bit of a letdown, as these characters are represented purely by a hot air balloon of Frankie and an amusing sequence when Freddy, Daphne and Velma dress up as three of the Herculoids to get into the rather sparsely attended Comic Convention where this particular adventure takes place (I wasn't really expecting the originals to be shoehorned into the format, but still...). There are numerous background gags involving other H-B characters, and it's all good fun for freeze-framing fans, although South Park did it first and better with Imaginationland.
Warners, like Paramount with Star Trek, are very good at biting the hand that feeds them, and the rest of the cameos by obscure 1960s characters are represented by ill-fitting costumes worn by overweight and shabby convention-goers. These caricatures are quite funny and on-the-nose, and provide most of the fun in this routine yarn, which revolves around Scooby and Shaggy being fans of Dynomutt and the Blue Falcon, a sort of robot Scooby clone and deliberately bland super-hero from what Jimmy Carr memorably termed "the Scrappy-Doo years", that awful dead period of the 1970s and 1980s pre-Simpsons and Cartoon Network, when virtually all animated cartoons were unwatchable.
Fanboy writers Marly Halpern-Graser and Michael Ryan, and director Michael Goguen, all with much similar fare behind them, litter the background with posters and sight gags recalling all the obscure Hanna-Barbera creations of the 1960s I love, and appear to feel the same way I and many of my generation do about the vicious and nasty versions of our childhood heroes presently being offered to today's deprived youth. Ironically, while successfully making their point, they've produced a film far more cynical than all the episodes of Family Guy and South Park combined, in which every character outside the regular cast is bitter and twisted and phoney. Star Trek fans and Comic Convention attendees have been so cruelly (and often accurately) lampooned over the last two decades that they must have the hides of rhinos to still be showing up at these things.
What's left to say? Matthew Lillard's Shaggy is as pitch perfect as ever, but I'm not so sure about the new audible Scooby Doo, who is much more coherent than he used to be. When did that happen? It's not dull, and the animation is fine (the green goo sequence is particularly well done, and a long way from when the characters simply ran from left to right), but the welcome critique of the ludicrous Batman situation, whereby the classic and most popular version of the character from the '60s is being deliberately sat on while Warners persist with endless reboots of the one who dares not even speak his name (while providing a bonanza for bootleggers as the most pirated TV series in history) will obviously go over the heads of the kids... and may even have gone over the heads of the Warners suits! Jeff Bennett provides such a perfect imitation of Adam West that I actually assumed it was him doing the voice--not unreasonable, as he's played similar roles on numerous other occasions merrily sending himself up. And Billy West of Futurama does a mean Paul Lynde impersonation!
Don gato y su pandilla (2011)
Let's be fair...
This film did not quite make the grade, as remakes or reboots of much loved originals rarely do, but I have been quite taken aback by the harshness of some of the reviews, which rightly point out the problems but fail to mention what worked. Having seen what's been done to other classic TV shows by Hollywood, I think it's fair to say that what works in this film is only there because the property was farmed out to people keen to make it, rather than interfered with by sticky fingered money men and ass-covering executives.
Unlike many of the other reviewers, who seem to be speaking for entire crowds of people ranging from their entire families, to kids, to all fans everywhere, I will simply speak for myself, a Hanna-Barbera fanboy since Huckleberry Hound.
Yes, there are drawbacks, one avoidable and one not.
The one thing that spoils the film irretrievably is the bad guy, a terrible, horrible character completely out of tune with the spirit of the series, and a major misjudgement. The other problem is that the guys who did the original voices are no longer with us. There's nothing anyone can do about that.
But whatever it's failings, this film is clearly a labour of love by people who love and respect the original series, the style of which belongs to its time, and has by happy chance, proved to be timeless. The endless array of in-jokes were a delight--Laslo Laslo, Arabella, Gus, the Maharajah of Pookajee, the rich lady, Queen for a Day, Griswold, and loads of walk-throughs including A.T. Jazz and his buddy in the pool hall... this was not some careless throwaway deal as some have suggested.
Ever since Star Trek the Motionless Picture in 1979, film-makers have been taking our memories of classic TV shows and trampling all over them, worst offenders being The Avengers (U.K.) and Lost in Space, trashing the concepts and characters, and quite clearly not caring about the originals in any way, shape or form, just cashing in on the good will and name value. It was a pleasure to see a film that, even if they got the Big Picture wrong, respected and acknowledged the source material and the original audience, even to the point of retaining the original music. It's also worth noting that the Don Gato movie had different voice overs. And finally, a New York that has people and cars in it!!
So yes, Top Cat the movie could have done with a couple of rewrites before it went before the cameras, and a bit of tightening up. Let's remember that the Hollywood live action Flintstones went through 38 writers (as opposed to the three guys who wrote all the hundred-plus episodes they were drawing from) and still came up with a lousy bad guy and a dull, over-complicated and uninteresting plot.
I thought this was an interesting failure and a brave try. I can't shake the feeling that if this had been made in L.A. some idiot would have been telling us how dark and gritty they were going to make it, Top Cat would have been a callous rapper dealing drugs, and the film would have opened with the drive-by shooting of Officer Dibble...