Lists by jonabbott56
If you've got to the point where you know the dialogue of all the Sean Connery Bond films off by heart, and you cringe at the thought of Flint and Helm, it might be time to reacquaint yourself with the dialogue (and plots, and performances) of the Man from UNCLE films. And if you've yet to see them, what are you waiting for? There's eight in all, two from each season, and they represent the series, and the era, perfectly. And the good news is that all four seasons of the show itself are out there on DVD... So if you enjoy these...
The Twilight Zone was created by television writer Rod Serling as a way of circumventing the censorship of 1950s television and writing about important themes concealed within twist ending fantasy tales. In this, he was largely successful, and many episodes tackled serious subjects of the day. Some are even more relevant today than ever, some embarrassingly outdated. Other episodes, working equally well, were simple fables, pulp sci-fi, or horror stories.
Serling wrote about two thirds of the episodes himself, allowing only writers he completely trusted to maintain the quality to supply the others. Those writers included Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, and Earl Hamner.
The Twilight Zone, which ran for five seasons, four half an hour long, and the fourth as an hour, is unique in that unlike most other series, which either improve, peak, or deteriorate as they proceed, it had as many good, bad, and medium episodes each season. The fifth season had the same percentage of gems, duds, triumphs and clunkers as the first, second, third, and fourth. When it was bad, it was bad, but when it was good, it was absolutely amazing. These are the ones that struck a chord with me for one reason or another. You might have your own. That's the fun of it.
The cast credits listed here are a nonsense; this was an anthology series--actually, THE anthology series--and Rod Serling was the creator, host, and writer of many of the episodes. The other three names listed are bit players from various episodes. I've added the correct main players. In the meantime, don't wait for me--why not check 'em out?
You may not have heard of these, or you may be vaguely aware of them. You may already love them, or you may have decided they're not for you... I'm saying... Don't miss 'em. If you take film as fun seriously, if you consider yourself knowledgeable on the subject of cinema without being a snob about it, you need to give these a go.
In Woody Allen's pretentious and self-indulgent movie Stardust Memories, his film-maker alter-ego encounters some aliens from a UFO. They've seen his films, they tell him, "but they prefer his early, funny ones". Allen meant it as an ironic, satirical comment, but I'm with the aliens.
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.
Sci-fi B-movie enthusiast Bill Warren put it best when he said that when people write about Roger Corman they either seriously over-rate him, or seriously under-rate him. What is fair to say is that his B-movie cheapies were among the best of the bad, that he created or popularised many of the trash film genres we enjoy today, and that while paying peanuts, he gave a huge number of people working in film today valuable working experience that kick-started their careers. His contribution has been far more positive than negative. Most people interested in non-mainstream cinema started their voyage of discovery by finding the films of Roger Corman and diversifying from there. He has had his fingers in so many pies--most notably sci-fi, horror, women-in-prison, gangster films, and sexploitation--that it's very difficult, and certainly not advisable, to avoid him.
As a messenger in the Fox mailroom, then a story analyst, and an aspiring writer, Corman learned the harsh realities of the film business the hard way--credit stolen, promises broken, stories butchered, ideas messed up by others. Seeking independence, he started his own company with little more than an address (located, with brutal irony, above the Cock and Bull Inn), and made the ridiculous but modestly successful Monster from the Ocean Floor. The title of his second film may be surprisingly familiar to contemporary audiences, and demonstrates how Corman's input can be found scattered throughout cinema in every decade since he began--The Fast and the Furious.
If you were to ask for the three most important names in cinema, you would get three different names from everybody, but from my personal perspective it would be showman George Melies for pioneering fantasy and special effects, Thomas Edison for inventing the serial, and Roger Corman for knowing us, his audience. Not them, dutifully traipsing off to see the latest over-hyped blockbuster or "family film", but us. Corman was as honest about what we wanted to watch as we were about seeing it. He rapidly became a cynic, and at that point started making money, which he placed way above the quality and integrity of the finished product, but like so many independents, his films are much more interesting than those from the majors, and he has undeniably played a major part in popularising and enabling almost every type of genre film audiences enjoy.
Corman has produced over four hundred movies in the last six decades, and directed over fifty of them. Rather than laboriously list every one of them (they're all on the IMDB), what I've done is created a list of flags and signposts for every important film, direction, or development Corman has taken along the way in, at time of compilation, a sixty year career in film production. I have five of the many books specifically about Corman in my library, and only two of them have an index (Naha and McGee), although his films are mentioned in dozens of others. Finding what you want can take all morning sometimes, so I hope this list (unfinished text at the moment, but you might as well have access to it) will assist both myself, and you guys, to sort the gems from the paste.
Before the current and ongoing Marvel Comics movies of the 21st century, there were several other attempts to recreate the Marvel super-heroes for films and TV in simpler times, both in animated and live-action formats. This list runs through them in chronological order. It does not include TV movies or foreign releases made from television episodes, or non-super-hero productions, but it does include unsold pilots and one- offs.
Geez, what a mess! But someone had to do it! The original Godzilla film appeared in 1954, and for the next twenty years Toho Studios in Japan produced a timeless run of simple, juvenile monster movies that were both cheap and charming. The franchise was revived in 1985, given a clueless drubbing by Hollywood in 1997, and then rebooted yet again by Toho for the millennium, but this list covers the original run of Godzilla films, alongside the all-important tie-in films that are part of the Godzilla universe, such as Rodan and Mothra, who later encounter Godzilla. As you can see, the problem is not just with the IMDB whimsically switching back and forth between English and Japanese titles, but all the alternate titles used over the years. Add to this the plethora of subtitles and satires and rip-offs, and all the different VHS and DVD versions, and it's a minefield.
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...
Blackballed by Famous Monsters of Filmland, the only major media information outlet for fantasy films in the 1960s, Paul Blaisdell worked in obscurity while his contemporaries were regularly name checked, making the cheapest of creatures and props for the cheapest of monster movies and producers. Indeed, he finally threw in the towel because he could never secure the proper funds to complete his work to his satisfaction, and became tired of taking short-cuts for minimum wages. By the time nostalgic sci-fi enthusiasts were asking questions about who designed the She Creature or the Saucermen, Blaisdell was gone... but his work lives on, and his name has finally been recognised.
One of the three main players alongside Republic and Universal, Columbia entered the serials game relatively late, moving in when the competition had thinned out a little bit. Many of their titles were taken from earlier films made in the silent era. They were the cheapest and most slapdash of the three, in a genre not known for its largesse and attention to detail in the first place, but they got lucky early by securing the rights to Superman and Batman, and many of their serials were built around comic strip characters and popular culture icons of myth and legend. Their stories are also the most ridiculous of a wild lot, but of course with hindsight that makes them more fun today. However, we shouldn't make the rookie mistake of assuming the audience was as dumb as the product; Republic and Universal were acknowledged by public and industry alike as superior. Still, we'd be worse off without most of the following...
Filmed comedy pretty much began with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, and this is a list of their very best work in chronological order, which appeared from the very beginning of sound to the beginning of the war years. It is not a complete list of their entire inventory, but is intended as an introduction or guide to their classic material. They were not infallible, and not all their stuff worked, but this was due not to ineptitude or lack of ability but rather Stan's constant need to experiment, develop, and rework their material. He was not afraid to repeat something that did work, or rework something that almost worked, and so their output literally develops experimentally in front of the audience. Film was a new medium, and Laurel was thrilled by it... and in Oliver Hardy he had the perfect foil with whom to explore and exploit its potential. We have seen others stealing from them... shall we say inspired by them... ever since. Please discover and enjoy their wonderful, extraordinary achievements.
Lina Romay was the leading lady/wife/muse of prolific exploitation filmmaker Jess Franco (all the films below, with the exception of Rolls Royce Baby and Mi Conejo es el Mejor, are Franco films directed under his numerous variety of pseudonyms).
She was a stunning, dark-eyed, dark-haired, girlish Spanish beauty, and completely uninhibited, often appearing naked and frequently in explicit sex scenes. But make no mistake, she could act. Her IMDB photo unfairly shows her near the end of her days, when in fact she did her best and most well-known work in her teens and twenties, the image most fans would recognise. She made her first appearance in 1972's Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, in a bit part as a gypsy girl, although these were inserts not in all prints, and eventually appeared in over one hundred films, almost all of them for horror and porn schlockmeister Franco. This list is in no way complete (I'm still chasing many of her films), but these are some of her more striking appearances, in chronological order.
If you're ready to investigate the sci-fi films of the 1950s, there are dozens of 'em, and even some of the dreck has entertainment value. But if you want the very best, this is where you start, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise.
This list is in alphabetical order, but the top three are The Day the Earth Stood Still, War of the Worlds, and This Island Earth, with Them an easy no. 4.
All these films are listed because they're either mildly amusing, funny for the wrong reasons, fascinating as pop cultural sociological period pieces, or feature attractive young women in various states of undress. They're also far more accurate representations of Britain in the 1970s than anything the social engineers at the BBC are able to show you. Do not, under any circumstances, try and watch them for a sexual thrill. That's what real sex films are for...
If you were a schoolboy in the 1960s, your British icons were Lennon and McCartney or Mick Jagger and the Stones if you were into music, Bobby Moore and/or George Best if you were into football, or Gerry Anderson and Doctor Who and the Daleks if you were into TV. Anderson never really wanted to make puppet shows, or even kids' shows, and tried to use his series as showreels to demonstrate he could make movies. That he did. As his mentor and financier Lew Grade said of the Thunderbirds pilot, "This isn't a TV series--it's a movie!". This list is in chronological order.
After the golden age of the Warners and MGM shorts of the '40's and '50's, and the Disney features of the same period, the most entertaining cartoons could be found on television, as Warners and MGM staff migrated en masse to companies like Hanna- Barbera. Cinema cartoons in the 1960s were awful, but look at the variety here. This list is in alphabetical order.
As the old cliche goes, nobody ever set out to make a bad movie... although in the field of '50's sci-fi, it's fair to say that some cared more than others about the end result. Most of these films failed due to a combination of lack of funds and over-ambitious intentions. That's why they're worth a look, even if its only on fast-forward to 'the good bits'. Somewhere in these calamities there's about five minutes of good footage.
Before television, a trip to the cinema might include a cartoon, a newsreel, and a serial along with the main feature/s. The serials--nicknamed cliffhangers, for their tendency to leave the hero in dire straits (such as, say, hanging from a cliff)--ran between twelve to fifteen chapters, and were deliberately designed to lure the audience back to the next show to see the outcome.
There were three major suppliers of serials (or chapter plays, as some like to call them), and these were Universal (best known for Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers), Columbia (the cheapest outfit, offering Superman, Batman, and Jungle Jim), and Republic (briefly known as Mascot), widely regarded as the best of the three.
The following is a chronological checklist of all the Republic serials. Whether westerns, detective dramas, espionage thrillers, or pulp sci-fi, they all basically had the same plot, but ya know what? They were so energetic and full-on, it never got old... There were many returning two-fisted, square-jawed leading men, but the real stars were Howard and Theodore Lydecker, who did the model work and special effects, and the small army of regular recurring stunt-men, who smashed up the sets in fights that seemed to last forever (or at least until the last unbroken stick of furniture).
If you've never seen one, try one drected by John English and William Witney from the late '30s/early '40s when they were at their peak, and then you'll be dipping into this list like a box of chocolates... Mmm--mm.
Frequently a staple of light-hearted Italian sex comedies, the stunning Gloria Guida's literally flawless beauty, combined with her willingness to disrobe in practically every film she ever made, has resulted in many pundits falling into the trap of thinking that because she got naked in fluffy sex fantasies, she couldn't act. Miss Italy 1974 she may have been, but the lights were on, and she was as capable of playing scheming minxes and troublemakers as she was at breezing through lowbrow comedies unscathed.
She made no less than six films in 1975 alone, including three of her very best and her most popular. Two substantial roles were provided by writer and director Silvio Amado, who did her proud in Quella eta Maliziosa and Peccati di Gioventu, in which she played a flirtaceous troublemaker and a selfish and spiteful schemer respectively, both explicitly sexual with and without clothes. That same year she was given a worthy showcase in Maurizio Liverani's ruminations on erotica, art, and religion, Il Solco di Pesca, and made her first of three appearances in the La Liceale series of schoolroom sex comedies.
Her best films were made in the early '70s, but before long her talents were noticed by some of Italy's leading men, and she found herself being cast as girlfriends and wives alongside Lando Buzzanca, Renato Pozetto, and Johnny Dorelli, the latter of whom she married, retiring in the early '80's.
Rather like Stan and Ollie of Laurel and Hardy fame, who appeared solo to little avail until finding each other, Tweety and Sylvester both appeared in individual solo cartoons (three each) before being teamed for the first time in 1947's "Tweetie Pie", a true classic overseen by Friz Freleng, who directed the vast majority of team-ups to follow. Tweety premiered in 1942's "A Tale of Two Kitties", followed by "Birdy and the Beast" and "A Gruesome Twosome", and Sylvester in 1945's "Life With Feathers" and then "Peck Up Your Troubles" and "Kitty Kornered". This latter title was a Porky Pig cartoon followed by the equally inspired "Back Alley Oproar", which has the most amazing and eclectic musical soundtrack of any cartoon ever.
Once Tweety had teamed with Sylvester, he continued to appear only with his new tormentor/tormentee, but Sylvester continued to appear in other formats by other Warners animators, occasionally with his whiny, embarrassed son Sylvester Jnr. and interminably with a kangaroo mistaken for a giant mouse, and eventually tiresomely with the one-joke Speedy Gonzales. While these tended to overuse the character, Chuck Jones did turn out a series of three inspired horror spoofs with Porky Pig ("Scaredy Cat", "Claws for Alarm", and the sci-fi "Jumpin' Jupiter") in which Sylvester was necessarily mute! In these, Porky is oblivious to the fantastic and scary events around him, while Sylvester desperately tries to clue him in with frantic mimes! What was interesting here is that Warners placed no restrictions or restraints on how a character was used or interpreted in those days, giving animators complete artistic freedom in how they chose to employ or portray even major faces. However, all of these traded on the goodwill generated by Freleng's Sylvester and his amazing sense of timing and attention to detail. I think it's the appalling few micro-seconds of resignation, horror, confusion, or despair on Sylvester's face before he pays the painful price for his evil intent that makes these cartoons so agonisingly funny.
Sylvester also appeared in a Foghorn Leghorn cartoon (1947's "Crowing Pains"), in Daffy Duck's legendary "Scarlet Pumpernickel" in 1950, and alongside Wile E. Coyote (in 1965's awful "The Wild Chase").
However, it is with the malicious and vindictive and far from cute and innocent Tweety that Freleng's lisping alley cat truly shone, in a series of just over forty almost heartbreakingly violent encounters with his malevolent meal. The Tweety and Sylvester cartoons rival Tom and Jerry for sheer laugh-out-loud entertainment, replacing their cosy rough and tumble with brutal, sheer wanton cruelty. Those expressions of despair, resignation, and misery on the poor creature's face say it all...
Okay guys, here we go. You're vaguely aware of them, you've seen the stills, you've heard of the titles, you've thought about catching up with them one of these days... Now you have no excuse not to wallow in the wonderfulness of the pulp sci-fi Saturday morning serials.
Here they are, all the sci-fi titles of Republic, Universal, and Columbia, listed for you in chronological order. You like comics? You like sci-fi movies? This is where, and how, it all began...
Start anywhere, but if you've not seen Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, or Undersea Kingdom, start there... If you have, spread your wings...
John Wayne's film career began in earnest in 1939, but he had been making western shorts and serials all through the 1930s, and started acting even earlier than that. He was guaranteed box office gold for forty years. The Searchers and She Wore A Yellow Ribbon are his two best films in my opinion, but for pure lazy afternoon relaxation, I prefer his later films. Try these if you're a newbie. This list is in chronological order.
For a few brief years in the 1960s, the majority of sit-coms took on a completely different form than the standard dopey dad/wise dad perfect/dysfunctional family format. While series like My Three Sons and Family Affair kept the flag flying for the traditional sit-com format, gimmick sit-coms far outnumbered them. F Troop mocked the western, Hogan's Heroes mocked the war film, and Get Smart mocked the spy fad, but many comedies had a supernatural or fantasy theme. This list is in chronological order.
If you're not bothered by sub-titles (and why would you be?), Jackie Chan's best work was done before he went to Hollywood, where his style was considerably watered down. Also, let's face it, he's getting older like the rest of us... Forget about Rush Hour etc. and see the man at his super-human best. Here's Jackie at his peak, in chronological order.
This list is not intended as a definitive guide to the sci-fi films produced by Japan's Toho studios that do not involve Godzilla. To be honest, I've put it together to aid myself as an easy reference source. However, I've made it public because I see no reason not to. I also have lists on the IMDB under my DISCOVER pre-fix for Godzilla (originals and reboots) and Gamera. The best reference sources I know of for Japanese pulp sci-fi fare are Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo by Stuart Galbraith (1998) and the absolutely superb Critical History and Filmography of Toho's Godzilla Series by David Kalat (second ed. 2010) both of which I recommend unreservedly.
So here's an eccentric jumble of odds and ends... I've stuck to fiction--sit-coms, dramas, and whatever the hell those puppets come under... Otherwise, I guess it's stand-up and comedy panel shows. Looking over the finished list, it occurs to me that the one thing they all have in common--even the Americanised puppets--is their very Britishness. No other country in the world would have made these shows. Still, not much to show for sixty years, eh?
Designed by Robert Kinoshita (who also created Robby the Robot for Forbidden Planet), voiced by veteran announcer Dick Tufeld, and operated by stunt man and dancer Bob May (who also created a comedy character for the nameless "Servo-Mechanism B-9"), the Robot began life in the series as an afterthought and very mechanical man (an environmental control robot) but gradually developed a character as comic relief as the tool (and conscience) of wicked Doctor Smith. These are the episodes in which he had significant scenes, either dramatic, heroic, or comedic.
It seems terribly wrong that the wretched Hollywood version of Godzilla plays on television all the time, but the Toho originals never get a look-in. The original Godzilla film was made in 1954, and was popular enough to spawn an ongoing series which lasted until the mid-'70s. The merits of these are still being debated today, and there is no right or wrong, only opinions and preferences, but it's true to say that the series got more simplistic and childish as the films progressed and found their audience. A chronological listing of these films can be found under the DISCOVER pre-fix, alongside one for Toei's rival Gamera series, and the best of Toho's non-Godzilla sc-fi (go to "See all related lists" under any title you know in those categories).
In the mid-'80's, just under ten years after the series paused, Toho decided to revive the Godzilla franchise, and this is where this listing picks up events...
I've watched Pasolini's Salo twice now, enduring it the second time because everyone else continues to praise it as a scathing indictment of fascism. I still can't see it; for me it's just a series of brutal incidents that explain nothing, with no character delineation and everything in basic black and white. It's not even a particularly well made film. The films listed below, however, I feel illustrate quite accurately and painfully how totalitarianism and authoritarian bullying does--and more often doesn't--work.
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...
Hard to believe, but true. Sometimes they make a sex film that is actually sexy instead of a tiresome bore. Each to their own and all that, but try these and you might save yourself hours of fast-forwarding...!
Is this the coolest guy since Elvis, or what? After you've been introduced to Chinese gangster films, you have been irretrievably spoiled. You can never go back to Hollywood action films, especially since box office considerations toned down the violence. In these films, *nobody* gets out alive, and when they feature Chow Yun Fat, you get a charismatic performance thrown in as well, from a real actor. Don't take my word for it, get stuck in to these films, and you'll never be satisfied with CGI again.
Note: I feel familiar enough with this guy's work to justify this list (nearly two dozen titles), but there are still a fair number of Chow Yun-Fat films I've yet to track down and/or see. It seems only right that I should restrict my list those I already have. Consider this a good starting point.
The audience has always been divided about the virtues of the monsters in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, a popular sci-fi TV series from the 1960s, as have the cast and creative talents, but the truth is that when we watched the show as kids we always felt a bit cheated if we didn't get aliens or monsters, and I still prefer those episodes today. In fact, the sillier the menace to the Seaview, the more I enjoyed the show. For better or worse, here are the major creature features from a wonderful adventure series...
Paul Naschy was born Jacinto Alvarez in Spain. He was a bodybuilder, pulp western writer, illustrator and film extra who had two loves--himself, and Universal horror movies. His ambition was to make movies in the tradition of the Universal monster films featuring Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolfman etc., and he succeeded in his aim superbly. Well done, Jacko.
There had been one major obstacle. The Spanish authorities did not like horror films. They really didn't like horror films. So much so, that if anyone made a horror film in Spain, they were not allowed to use Spanish names or Spanish locales. It was okay to film in Spain, they just had to ensure that the films did not involve Spain or the Spanish people in any way. So great was Alvarez' desire that he dutifully legally changed his name to the German-sounding Paul Naschy, obediently set all his stories in foreign countries, and obligingly gave his recurring werewolf character the Polish name of Waldemar Daminsky.
Naschy's films are fascinating and enjoyable in the way that all second-rate, almost-good films are. Naschy always played the lead role, casting himself as visible reproductions of familiar monsters in the public domain, and surrounding himself with semi-clad women. However, he was as likely to show off his own upper torso as theirs. His films have that magical clunky aura of fun trash that is always present when dialogue doesn't quite work, special effects don't quite succeed, or music doesn't quite fit the action. Like his fellow film-makers inspired by their passions, Jess Franco and Jean Rollin, his films are far more interesting than the more professionally produced yawneramas produced by tired old hacks and lazy jobsworths employed by studios just out to make money. Not that Naschy, Franco, and Rollin weren't profit motivated, they certainly were. They just wanted to earn a living doing something they loved but on their own terms. And that always gets the best results, even with limited talent on a low budget.
This is not intended as a complete filmography of everything Naschy acted in, directed, or produced. It is a guide to his major works in chronological order. I'm still exploring Naschy's output myself, and this listing is as much to help me as others. Like so much exploitation fare, Naschy's work is scattered to the four winds under various different and often inappropriate titles, and with varying degrees of availability and print quality. Plus, there is the dilemma of foreign language titles. But if you're interested, here's a good place to start, and as ever, correct corrections that are definitely correct are always welcome.
This list is in alphabetical order, including the Chinese and Japanese titles. Thirty classics to get you started, there are others, the most notable absentee being Al Pacino as Scarface--that was no. 31. A deliberate absentee that turns up on other lists is the movie version of The Untouchables, I love the original TV series too much to include that one. Amazing how many other lists leave out Warren Oates as Dillinger, a top five entry in my book. Hit the see all lists button to see my separate lists under the DISCOVER pre-fix for James Cagney, Chow Yun Fat, and crime sprees...
The 1960s was probably the last decade when feelgood movies were being made in any great quantity, or indeed actually made the audience feel good. This list is in alphabetical order.
The amazing James Cagney, one of the most dynamic and impressive actors in the early days of cinema made over sixty films in three decades, calling it quits when he struggled to complete a difficult dialogue scene in the routine comedy One Two Three. An extraordinary dancer, he was most appreciated for his gangster film roles, which dominate here. He was always good, lighting up the screen as soon as he came on. You never looked at anyone else. He is absolutely electric in all these, particularly the magnificent White Heat, a perfect film. Start here and then watch him in everything and anything...
After the phenomenal success of the extraordinary and powerful giant ants film Them in 1954, producers scrambled to unleash other oversized insects on a terrified populace, and pretty much every real-life bug-eyed monster got its chance over the next ten years. Very often the stories followed exactly the same path as the original, inaugurating the clichés of the genre as they went. These expectations, almost always fulfilled, became part of their charm. So grab a super-sized can of bug spray and settle down for a series of remarkably similar encounters with multi-legged creepy crawlies '50s-style. This list is in alphabetical order.
I recently had to sit through these films while researching a book on softcore sex films... and I don't see why I should suffer alone...
This list is in chronological order. There's not much in the way of comment here yet, because I created it basically for myself as a quick reference source so that I could keep track of things, but I can't see any reason not to share...
In the 1980s there were a lot of movie house tough guys swaggering about, but everybody else was second rate, and sometimes third and even fourth rate, next to Stallone and Schwarzenegger. This is an incomplete and highly partial list of what I consider to be the most amusing, best fun Arnie films. I forget sometimes how much fun these stupid movies are...
Quentin Tarantino's superb Pulp Fiction was an extraordinary achievement and a wonderful film, but it truthfully had very little to do with actual pulp fiction. Real pulp fiction would never indulge in non-linear storytelling (other than the occasional flashback), and would never have involved multiple storylines or such complex characters or clever dialogue. Real pulp fiction is about taking the shortest and most direct route possible to the most obvious outcome, by way of sex, violence, and lurid horror. It is blunt, bloody, lustful, and voyeuristic, and panders to our lowest collective human interests and basic instincts.
Listed below are some of the most enjoyable films, serials, and TV series ever made in the spirit of pulp fiction... So much so, that if they really were magazines or paperbacks made of the cheapest pulped paper possible, their crisp, yellowing pages would be coming away loose in your hands as you turned the pages... Enjoy!!
Okay, this is just a bit of fun to celebrate my fiftieth list on the IMDB. During the course of compiling them, I've been struck by just how many really well known and established titles are listed under something else that's completely ridiculous. I can't imagine why I would ever need to, but I sometimes think that if I typed in The Sound of Music and Gone With the Wind, they would come up as Running Across the Hills and Fire in the Sky.
I know the IMDB have their way of doing things, and will say with some justification that these titles are technically correct, having been given them for two milliseconds when originally released in Belgium or whatever, but some are just pedantry gone mad (I'm not referring to foreign films being listed under their foreign titles, which is perfectly acceptable, if not always consistent).
So, hoping that this light-hearted listing will be taken with the good humour it's been put together in, here are the wildest and wackiest alternate titles I've stumbled across as I utilise the IMDB. And if you guys want to insist that the 1964 pilot for Star Trek absolutely has to be dated 1986 just because that's when it got it's official release, that's fine with me... In the same way that some guys like to be spanked with table tennis bats while dressed as Little Miss Muffet, that's fine with me too. Weird... but live and let live... (which is not the alternate title for You Only Live Twice, by the way)...
Jon Abbott has been writing professionally for over thirty years about film and television for around two dozen different publications, trade, specialist, and populist, and has had two books published by McFarland. See his Amazon authors' page and his other lists on the IMDB promoting the popular culture of the 1960s and surrounding decades. They all begin with the pre-fix DISCOVER...
To call these films an acquired taste is an understatement. They all fall into the category of love 'em or leave 'em. We all like to revisit our favourite films, but we also like to sometimes leave our comfort zone. The question is: is this one of those times when you feel like finding something different? If, like me, you enjoy wading through oddities in the hope of finding that one shiny little rare gem to add to your collection, then here's a few that made it into mine, and made sifting through all the costume jewellery worthwhile...
This is also one of the few of my lists that features a fair smattering of recent 21st century films, which I find quite encouraging...
Overshadowed by the Star Trek phenomenon, and overpowered by sheer force of numbers from the Irwin Allen studios, Quinn Martin's The Invaders, an aberration from a prolific cop show factory with the emphasis on real people with real lives rather than planetary exploration by heroic scientists, is frequently overlooked or forgotten.
The bastard offspring of the classic sci-fi feature films of the 1950s (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Invaders from Mars, This Island Earth, and I Married a Monster From Outer Space were all influential) and the magnificent The Outer Limits, this stylish exercise in rampant fear and paranoia is based on one wonderful, magnificent conceit--what if one of those flying saucer nuts was actually telling the truth?? He DID see a UFO, and the aliens ARE out to get him.
This is the dilemma of David Vincent, portrayed with weary desperation and resolve by Roy Thinnes, who must both run from the cold, ruthless, emotion-free invaders, and convince a naturally doubtful world that they are infiltrating us in human form... difficult when they place secrecy and anonymity above everything, and dissolve into nothing when they destruct.
There are 24 of the 43 episodes of the series here to get you started in the best possible way. Contrary to the DVD image provided, the vast majority are from the first season; sadly, the series did lose its drive and direction as it went on, due to the limitations of the format. A huge mistake was the introduction of a support group for Vincent called the Believers; another was the Quinn Martin studio's policy of re-using recurring guest players but casting them in different roles far too soon, and frequently. Also, Dominic Frontier's superb distinctive and menacing music was used less in the second season, to the series' clear detriment. However, most of the first season and a handful of the second are magnificent.
And let's face it, an extraordinary number of them don't, although curiously the marketing department usually remembers to imply it. This list is in chronological order. I've no objection to films being listed under their original foreign language titles, but all attempts to put it in alphabetical order were constantly stymied by the IMDB's infuriating habit of putting films under their second or third alternate titles, rather than the one they are best known for (and indeed often released on DVD as). Eight of these films are listed under their lesser-known titles, and another six under their original language titles.
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...
During the 1960s, and the dry period in cinema SF between the 1950s creature features and the special effects triumphs of 2001, Planet of the Apes, and Star Wars, producer Irwin Allen combined the best of both worlds into 274 episodes of four television series that are as original, inspired, and well-loved today as when they were made.
The Irwin Allen shows were always more popular with the general public, who realised that you could have fun with this sort of stuff long before Douglas Adams, Star Wars, Red Dwarf, and the Next Generation's Holodeck confirmed it for the more serious minded sci-fi fans, who picked at the scientific inaccuracies and scoffed at the absurdities of the Allen shows while taking Star Trek etc. too seriously.
But while Gene Roddenberry raided westerns and war films by way of H.G. Wells, Forbidden Planet, and The Outer Limits for Star Trek, Allen was swiping from Jules Verne, Conan Doyle, the drive-ins, and the serials. He was a showman dealing in thrills, spectacle, and adventure, and he delivered four of the most entertaining, imaginative, and exciting TV series of the 20th century. This introduction to them is in chronological order.
Despite the presence of some truly wonderful vintage pulp sci-fi bug-eyed monsters from the likes of John Chambers, Janos Prohaska, and most notably Wah Chang, this was a sophisticated and sensible series for those with broad imaginations and artistic sensitivity, and probably the most intelligent science-fiction series ever produced of television, the perfect fusion of stylish direction and camerawork, remarkable writing and ideas, and brilliant performances. Younger members of the audience may scoff at the not-so-special effects, but the strength is in the above qualities, not a few wobbly cardboard spaceships, and virtually every sci-fi movie or series produced since the 1980s owes a debt to the content of either The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits.
Firstly, please ignore the supposed cast list under each episode. This was an anthology series with different players each week. Vic Perrin was the narrator, Bob Johnson was a voice artist, Ben Wright was a bit player, and the late, great Bob Culp was in three episodes. I will put the lead players in, in due course. Episodes are listed in the order they were produced.
There were 49 episodes of The Outer Limits. The fact that this list could only be trimmed down to thirty shows just how good this series was.
Jean Rollin, who died in 2010 aged 72, remains one of the most extraordinary independent film-makers ever. Raised on horror films, Saturday morning serials, surrealist art, and comic-books, he brought extraordinary baggage to the sets of the fantasy films he was so desperate to realise.
Although he worked continuously from the 1960s to the 2000s, few would disagree that his most successful and interesting work was produced in the 1970s, and consisted primarily of his series of erotic vampire films. Rollin didn't always get what was in his head onto film (our loss), which is why what he achieved is so enthralling. Better a Rollin film only one third or two thirds successful, than a vapid, loveless, bland, bloated Hollywood bore.
Born Jean Michel Rollin Le Gentil, Rollin used the other half of his nom-de-plume to make porn films under the name of Michel Gentil, which both paid the bills and financed his more fanciful artistic efforts. These bored him, and were often artless and ugly, but still had their fascinations. The hardcore Sexual Vibrations, for example, features a scene of two sexual partners laughing together during sex, and ends with the two leads romancing each other and getting married! Two things rarely seen in porn films, for sure. The softcore Bacchanales Sexuelles and Jeunes filles impudiques are hilariously silly, and sexy.
Like many true innovators in film, Rollin had a regular company of stock players and craftsmen he liked to use, and many of the artistic community who worked with him acted in his fantasy films and his sex films. His secret was simple. When he was making movies, he was enjoying himself.
This list is in no way a complete or definitive filmography. It is intended as an introduction to his very best and most intriguing works. He made over fifty films, some of them appalling. Rollin's films are available in an assortment of formats, versions, and quality, but the special Encore editions are far and away the best bet. Don't be put off by the lurid and inappropriate covers on display here, these films are tasteful, strange, ethereal, dreamlike, occasionally erotic, and quite often daft as a brush.
If ever there was a series that fell into that old cliched category of "needs no introduction", it's probably this one, although I've always worked on the principle that there's always someone, somewhere, seeing these films and series for the first time. We all have to start somewhere, sometime. In terms of not accidentally starting with a stiff, these listings would be a fine place for newbies to start on the good ones. If in doubt, or doubting me, start at the beginning of the series and proceed in chronological order.
Star Trek first showed up in the 1966-'67 U.S.TV season, an extraordinarily good year for SF TV, as it also gave us The Time Tunnel and The Invaders. Sold as a sort of space-western ("Wagon Train to the stars"), it took the cornball characters and the cliches of the western and the war film and transposed them to outer space, and performed the invaluable service of introducing a mainstream audience to basic standard science-fiction concepts. It was also the first fantasy series featuring recurring characters to match the intelligence and sensitivity of the classic anthology series The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.
Gradually, those characters--Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty--became so popular that by the second season the cast had become more significant than the concepts. The series' beloved cliches had become more important than the ideas, which were starting to repeat themselves. This was, perhaps, inevitable. Equally surreptitiously, the emphasis had shifted almost immediately from exploration of new worlds (the so-called "five year mission") to policing existing territories of "the Federation".
Given the series' initial accessibility to everyday TV viewers who otherwise regarded sci-fi as silly kids' stuff, it's ironic and unfortunate that it has since become the iconic symbol and lazy go-to reference point to represent the weirdo and nerdy obsessive, while the wacky sci-fi shows of the same period have become the cult pleasures of the mainstream. As camp and dated as Star Trek has become, it deserves to be seen and enjoyed without the baggage it has accumulated, and its legacy understood and appreciated. It is still, first and foremost, great television.
A huge load of rubbish has been written about Star Trek over the years--so much so that it's creator, Gene Roddenberry, even started to believe some of it himself when trying to catch lightning in a bottle a second time for the Next Generation. The two greatest fallacies are that everyone in the future gets on with one another (the original series was built on conflict and the personality clashes of the three leads), and that the series represents an optimistic future. Really?? Militarism, misunderstandings, death and destruction on a grand scale, and all the problems of today still present and being carried into outer space to pollute other cultures. Religion, racism, power-mongering and profiteering all present and correct. The success of Star Trek was in transposing our recognisable world to the future, like all sci-fi. As Roddenberry noted, Star Trek was positive in that it said we actually had a future, at a time when many people genuinely felt humanity didn't.
I don't think my episode choices are too controversial or contentious, and I've tried to justify them. It will probably come as no surprise to those familiar with the show that most of the episodes come from the beginning of the series. Few would argue that the quality declined as it went on. However, it was a tight squeeze, and I was sorry to leave out four or five episodes--the Archons, Armageddon, the Tribbles, all bubbling under. And I've cheated, by counting the two parts of The Menagerie as one, which they're not.
The Japanese do love their monsters, and so do I. The predecessors to Pokemon, Digimon, and Yu-Gi-Oh were the Godzilla and Gamera film series which proliferated in the 1960s and '70s (not to mention a slew of super-hero television series in the same vein). Toho's Godzilla, which began in semi-seriousness with Gojira in 1954 had become so popular with kids by the mid-'60s, that rival studio Toei decided to cut themselves a slice of the pie aimed squarely and shamelessly at the rugrat market in 1965.
The histories of the two series are weirdly similar. The original run of Godzilla films lasted fifteen films, with an attempted revival in 1984 and another reboot in the 1990s. Gamera ran for an initial series of seven, followed by a one-off return in 1980, and a reboot in the '90's which was ironically superior to the new Godzillas although the big boy made a major comeback in 2000, and Gamera in 2006. In terms of aesthetic success, it's a photo finish for the moment...
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Stephen J. Cannell was the single most influential figure in populist action/adventure television. His fusion of the B-movie plots and values of 1940s pulps, westerns and cliffhanger serials to the post-Watergate cynicism of 1970s cinema refreshed popular culture, from the smart, wry humour of The Rockford Files to the comic-book exploits of The A-Team. Although he was so heavily copied that his innovations eventually became cliches themselves, his shows directly inspired such movie franchises as the Die Hard and Lethal Weapon series. Today, there is nothing quite like them on television, yet during the 1980s, every adventure show either was a Cannell show, or was copying his style.
This list is in alphabetical order. Yes, a couple of early 2000 films snuck in, mainly because the Asian market hasn't watered down its movies for mall-friendly low ratings certificates.
The very first moving picture with a story was a western called The Great Train Robbery, and ever since then cinema has been obsessed with crime, criminals, and their comeuppance. Me, I like to see 'em get what's comin' to 'em. Most, but not all, in this selection do. This list is in alphabetical order.
Although he merrily licensed his cartoon characters to any advertiser of anything, whatever the product, the late, great Charles Schulz ventured into television with great trepidation. The earliest TV specials are delightful, unusual, and unique, but later efforts mirrored the decline of the strip itself, into yucky, preachy indulgence and overly cute sentiment, as Schulz got comfortable and lost his edge. Avoid the later creepy and condescending ones, and instead enjoy these classics.
Although some of these titles are listed as TV movies, they're all just under half-an-hour long. This list is in chronological order.
Although ironically and unfairly best known for the notorious 1979 film of Caligula, which he was famously removed from and subsequently disowned, the true cinematic legacy of Giovanni Tinto Brass is as the foremost maker of classy but in-your-face erotica. He has commanded and exercised complete control of his projects ever since, even to the point of doing his own editing. Also, unlike many other reliable providers of sexual content in film (Franco, Rollin, etc.), Brass is neither objectionable or incompetent, having learned his trade with the likes of Fellini and Rossellini.
His films range from the poignant emotional drama of The Key and Black Angel to the brazenly silly and fluffy Cheeky and Private. Best known for his stunningly beautiful leading ladies, abundant fulsome uninhibited nudity, and joyous love of life (his films frequently feature scenes of frivolity and dancing), his films are completely and wonderfully shameless in their lusty exhibitionism. Brass makes no concessions of any kind to prudishness, propriety, or puritanism, referencing it only to show his admirable contempt, and frequently mocks weak or controlling men and figures in authority, ridiculing hypocrites in church and government alike. His women are vivacious, selfish, demanding, and in complete control of their lives, the exact opposite of women's roles in most cinema, including much aimed at women.
Make no mistake though, these are films made purely for men, even though it's impossible for anyone of either sex to criticise them without looking like a repressed chump. Invariably set in precise time periods that are nevertheless timeless in their presentation, his films rarely betray their era even when it is a part of the story; you rarely see technology or popular culture, although the early '60s films of his youth were exceptions, typically and unmistakably of that era, often in the worst possible way. Interestingly, his one attempt to be of the moment, the very '80s Miami Vice-like Snack Bar Budapest, is now, of course, his most dated, while almost all the others could have been made at any time during the last thirty years.
This is in no way a complete filmography, but an introduction to his very best work. This list is in chronological order.
Sylvester Stallone was a jobbing minor New York actor with near-invisible bit parts in classic '70's films Bananas and Klute, a couple of guest roles in the cop shows Kojak and Police Story, and a dalliance with Corman, who reached for the brass ring with the feelgood boxing yarn Rocky and never looked back. Although more intelligent than his damaged-at-birth countenance, subsequent speech impediment, and muscular physique suggested in image-fixated Hollywood, his best films and greatest commercial triumphs have been in the enjoyably mindless action arena, his digressions conceded with good humour as mistakes.
I realise this list would be a bit controversial if I called these films the best, so I've been diplomatic. I'm an admirer of Mr. Stallone, but I'm just not into the Rocky or Rambo films (other than First Blood). These are the Stallone action films that made it into my DVD collection.
One of my other lists offers the twelve best vintage pulp sci-fi movies ever made. Another lists fifty failures that didn't quite make the grade. But I felt that there were some films that, while they didn't qualify as quality must-see material, don't quite deserve to be thrown in the trash either. In fact, they're quite enjoyable. So here they are.
These are all films with the emphasis on sex and/or sexual content, but not necessarily actual sex films (although many are). This list is in alphabetical order, as per the best known titles of the films.
The wonderful Batman TV series of the 1960s was best known for its colourful roster of crazy adversaries, including the Joker, the Riddler, the Penguin, the Catwoman, Egghead, and King Tut. But apart from unfunny lame-o's like Shame and Marsha, Queen of Diamonds, who both appeared twice, there were also a handful of variable one-offs who only appeared the once... Here are the "forgotten" Batman bad guys (and bad girls).
It's difficult to get across to those who weren't there just how all-encompassing the spy fad of the mid-'60's was... It wasn't just Bond, or even Bond and UNCLE, and neither did it involve just one medium, like most trends. The spy fad enveloped film, TV, paperback fiction, comics, advertising, and even music and fashion. Spoofs, rip-offs, and spin-offs abounded.
This list of the major movies--just the tip of an iceberg--is in alphabetical order. If you like these, check out the superb secret agent TV shows of the era, including The Avengers, The Man from UNCLE, The Girl from UNCLE, Get Smart, I Spy, Amos Burke--Secret Agent (erroneously listed on the IMDB as the third season of Burke's Law, another fine '60's series), and Honey West. Some of them are better than these movies!
Could someone with the skill and knowhow put the UNCLE posters or logo in on the relevant pages please? I feel the UNCLE phenomenon is being done a disservice here!
Far too quickly criticised by know nothings, these are some of the best feelgood films of the '60s, perfect to crash out to at any time of day. To see Elvis the singer at his best, go to Loving You and/or King Creole. In the meantime...
All on this list were box office gold with the exception of Easy Come, Easy Go, the weakest listed here. There are others (Elvis made 31 films in total), but try these first and remember a time that never existed. Auto-pilot critics say these are bad films, but after you've watched them, you feel better. What's bad about that? This list is in chronological order.
As well as being one of the most exciting and creative television adventure series ever made, The Time Tunnel was also a gift to actors, especially those TV players usually consigned to playing routine supporting roles as cops, cowboys, crooks, heavies, judges, and doctors etc. Some of television's busiest guest players found their most colourful roles in the Irwin Allen series, particularly this one, and given a chance to shine, responded by giving some of their most memorable performances.
The prime-time success of Batman and other fantasy adventures like Lost in Space and The Man from UNCLE provoked a slew of sci-fi and super-hero adventure cartoons in the mid-'60s with spy-fi and super-powers to the fore. Noisy, busy, nonsensical, non-stop, simplistic, and colourful, they're perfect sofa-coma TV.
Perhaps the world's funniest and most famous animated comedy duo (rivalled only by Tweety and Sylvester), Tom and Jerry are also surely the most maligned, mistreated, and misunderstood. Broadcasters and distributors alike seem unable to tell the difference between the original classics by Bill Hanna and Joseph Barbera, and the dreadful follow-ups perpetrated by Gene Deitch, Chuck Jones, and television, and most broadcasts and compilation videos and DVDs feature a charmless and confusing mix of good and bad. To add injury to insult, the early and best ones have been subjected to cultural and artistic vandalism over the years by humourless fascists imposing faddish and misguided transitory contemporary views on work they disrespect and misunderstand. (See the reviews for the three Tom and Jerry Spotlight Collections on Amazon U.S. for further details).
This is gradually being rectified by outraged public pressure, although current owners Warners, who inherited the series from the equally disrespectful MGM, still insist on insulting both the makers and the audience by labelling elements of the humour racist, with pompous lectures and 'warnings' on the DVDs.
It was not racist to portray the world as it actually was in cartoon form. The series mocked Hitler along with the rest of the free world, and the infamous blackface gags were not hateful, as any fool can see. Despite the violence and the fighting, the Tom and Jerry cartoons glow with love. To remove or 'modify' Lillian Randolph's wonderful characature of the black maid is a racist act in itself. Is Elmer Fudd considered an affront to white people? Will the lisps, stutters, and moron-level stupidity of cartoon characters be the next to go, as potential incitement to taking offence? What will the next owners of The Simpsons, South Park, or Family Guy see fit to 'correct' or 'modify' in fifty years time? Don't be tempted to consider these remarks an over-reaction; there have already been plans to remove the scraggy cigarettes from the mouths of Tom's loutish friends.
Anyhow--we mustn't let these buffoons ruin our pleasure with anger. Listed below, in chronological order, are nearly a hundred of the finest cartoons ever made, overflowing with a love and understanding of human nature the humourless robots referred to above can never understand or appreciate. There aren't many--okay, any--omissions until we reach the mid-'50s, when almost everybody began to lose the plot. Bill and Joe made 114 Tom and Jerry cartoons between 1939 and 1959; that 94 made it into my list is a batting average anyone can be proud of. Their legacy is immense, and dwarfs the meddlers.
Comments on individual cartoons to follow when time permits... In the meantime, please jump in anywhere, and enjoy...
It's hard to imagine a western without John Wayne. It's even harder to find a good one without him. But here are ten...
Wiser and more well-informed heads than mine may disagree, but I feel it's safe to say that horror films as mainstream popular entertainment (i.e. fun) pretty much began with the Universal versions of Frankenstein and Dracula respectively, making stars of Boris Karloff (alias Bill Pratt) and Bela Lugosi overnight. Amazingly, it was four years before the sequel to Frankenstein, but when Bride of Frankenstein picked up from where the first film left off, the makers were already having fun with their gallery of characters and playing for nervous laughs long before Abbott and Costello got in on the act. By the time all the various things that go bump in the night were bumping into each other on dark and stormy overcrowded evenings for capers like Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, House of Frankenstein, and House of Dracula, it was only a few short steps to Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, You'll Die Laughing bubble gum cards, Paul Naschy films, and The Munsters. Which was fine by me. This list is in chronological order.
The economy was crap, the music was crap, the TV was crap... but the films were amazing. Just look what was coming out of American and European cinema before Speilberg and Lucas ruined everything...