Lists by jonabbott56
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.
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 will add correct main players in due course. In the meantime, don't wait for me--why not check 'em out?
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, 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 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.
This list is in chronological 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. Start here. He is absolutely electric in all these, particularly the magnificent White Heat, a perfect film.
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. Yes, the image accompanying no. 29 is completely wrong! Got a spare half hour to tell 'em??
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...
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 it has become, it deserves to be seen and enjoyed without the baggage it has accumulated, and its legacy understood and appreciated.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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 is not on Facebook, but you can always leave comments on the relevant message boards.
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...
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.
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.
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!
She was a stunning, dark-eyed, dark-haired 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. 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.
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.
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!!
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.
This list is in chronological order.
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...
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.
List completed; text and comments to follow when time permits...
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! 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 and tumble with brutal, sheer wanton cruelty. The expressions of despair, resignation, and misery on the poor creature's face say it all...