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The Day the Fish Came Out (1967)
This isn't a great movie, and not even really a good movie, but it is...well, something. It seems to be the wacky, 1960s, Greek bastard/child of "Dr. Strangelove" and "The Russians Are Coming". It popped up recently on the Fox Movie Channel. Tom Courtenay was playing very serious in "Doctor Zhivago" a couple of years earlier. Here he is trying for laughs and mostly in his underwear. In fact there are lots of pretty people wearing very little, and when they are wearing something it's often designed by the director/writer/producer himself, and it's beyond the valley of mod. In fact, the movie could use more mod and more Grecian scenery. Recommended if you like movies from the late 60s.
Women's Prison (1955)
hilarious, fun junk
This movie is nirvana for trashy B-movie lovers. The cast is incredible. I believe Ida Lupino played a similar role in a 70s TV movie called "Women In Chains." In this one, "Women's Prison," one of the female inmates (there are male inmates, too) is a movie star impersonator, a trait that hilariously figures into the plot. Some of the actresses in this film also appeared in the earlier and much better "Caged": Gertrude Michael, Jan Sterling. There was another women's prison movie called "House of Women" soon to come. Don't miss this absurd movie! They showed it on Turner Classic Movies recently as part of their gay series. It will probably show up again.
Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)
I've just finished re-watching this movie and Schlesinger's "Midnight Cowboy, "Marathon Man" and "Day of the Locust." Also I've been reading bits of Schlesinger's biography "Edge of Midnight." Some of his interests included homosexuality, Jewishness, and the ugliness of modern society, as well as attempts by humans to connect with one another. Although "Midnight Cowboy" may be his masterpiece, this movie "Sunday Bloody Sunday" manages to convey all those things and more. All four of the movies are worth seeing. "Marathon Man" was a hit and "Locust" was not, but I prefer the latter.
"Sunday Bloody Sunday" is the most restrained of the four. Its being set in England could account for that. Schlesinger was pretty much appalled (but fascinated) by America.
I've looked and looked for Daniel Day Lewis in this movie. He's not in the credits of the movie, but he's listed on this site as a "vandal." I finally realized he's one of the little boys seen briefly doing something to a car. (I won't give it away.) There is an adult vandal in the movie; don't confuse the two.
The acting in Schlesinger's movies is always excellent. Treat yourself. One could say that Vivian Pickles peaked in 1971, with this movie and "Harold and Maude." She was also in "Elizabeth R" with Glenda Jackson around the same time, and before this movie she played Isadora Duncan for Ken Russell. One doesn't hear about her in the States anymore.
Bessie Love who plays the answering service operator was a silent movie star, and also played Isadora Duncan's mother in the Vanessa Redgrave movie about Duncan. And speaking of Vanessa, I also recently saw for the first time Schlesinger's "Yanks" with her. It was okay.
The Pawnbroker (1964)
Definitely worth seeing
Pauline Kael hated this movie. She called it "bad" and "terrible." Leonard Maltin gave it 4 stars, called it "important" and The New York Times also raved calling it "remarkable" and "brilliant." My opinion lies somewhere between. I don't think the movie really works. It's confusing, although I think the confusion is meant to be sort of impressionistic. There are some embarrassing moments and it is sometimes a tad arty. Ideas are suggested and not always clarified. Nevertheless, it's worth seeing. I live in Manhattan, where most of the movie was shot. I think anyone who lives in Manhattan will be entertained (the subway scene, the sequence filmed at Lincoln Square, a shot of Avery Fisher Hall, Nina Simone and Flip Wilson's names on the marquee at the Apollo) but it also makes New York and its environs seem like a depressing, claustrophobic hell. (I wish it still seemed that way to the tourists and yuppies that flock here.)
The main reason for seeing the movie, aside from the urban atmosphere, is the actors. Steiger is sometimes too intense, bordering on self-parody. But it's still a fascinating performance. All the other actors are equally fine. Kael and Crowther in The New York Times went out of their way to praise an actor they both called "old Juano Hernandez." He is heart-breaking.
The nudity must have been shocking at the time. There is an implication of evil homosexuality in the Brock Peters character. I must check Vito Russo's book "The Celluloid Closet" to see if he picked up on it.
The Kremlin Letter (1970)
nice turnout for this film at MoMA
The Museum of Modern Art in NYC is having a "Huston family" festival and they showed this film last night. Big crowd to see this film that was a flop when originally released. I had been wanting to see it for some time out of curiosity: George Sanders appears in drag as a San Francisco gay bar pianist, and Barbara Parkins has a role, three years after "Valley of the Dolls." (I love Parkins not just for the "Valley" connection. I think she's talented and beautiful and I love her voice.) I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. So much better than the stuff Hollywood cranks out today, although sometimes just as difficult to follow. There's lots of verbal exposition in the movie, and at one point I think it's even implied that the Orson Welles character is a homosexual.
The sexual politics of the film are outdated, perhaps. But, then, the political correctness of today is even more numbing.
The movie pops up on the Fox Movie Channel occasionally. Be sure to see it in letterbox.
By the way, Pauline Kael hated the movie. Funny, bitchy review in her book "Deeper Into Movies." But just because Pauline hated it, doesn't mean you will. She complains about the sound, but I didn't notice a problem. She also complains about the look of the film, but I think the verite style was intentional.
One tiny thing I thought I noticed, the old lady who is the mother of the Russian thief Barbara Parkins lives with seems to have too nice a manicure! I could be wrong. The moment flew by.
Here's Lucy (1968)
not as fun as "The Lucy Show," but still interesting
I recently watched quite a bit of a 4-DVD set of "Here's Lucy!" episodes including extras such as rehearsal footage, syndication sales tapes, Thalians award show, commentary by Lucie and Desi, Jr., etc.
In spite of Lucy's neediness, bitterness, volume and high vocal pitch, I quite enjoyed her honed technique, especially in the Burton/Taylor episode where she seems to really give a damn.
Also, her clothes are very chic for the most part (nicer than all the other actors' costumes) and I especially loved the once-familiar "fallout shelter" sign in the hallway outside Uncle Harry's office! The dance number Ann-Margret does with Desi, Jr. is something to behold. The Wayne Newton episode, believe it or not, is fun. And Lucy, Lucie and Ginger Rogers dancing the Charleston is cute. Lucy loved a Charleston!
The animated Lucy puppet during the credits is adorable, but you get sick of it if you watch too many episodes!
What I really want to see are "The Lucy Show" (before "Here's Lucy!") episodes and extras, when Viv was Lucy's housemate and there were three kids living with them (not Lucy's own kids).
The Sergeant (1968)
Good film; slightly confusing
After wanting to see this film for a long time, I finally tracked down a VHS copy taped off TV in Philadelphia (I found the copy in California). The performances are very good. And it's well made, until it gets close to THE BIG MOMENT, and then the editing goes awry, as if studio executives had gotten nervous about the subject matter and deleted whole sections, so that the time line of the behavior of the title character - played by Rod Steiger - is all off. One minute he's telling John Philip Law to get lost; the next minute he wants him near. I know people change their minds, and LOSE them when they're obsessive, but it feels choppy here, and glaring. And between THE BIG MOMENT and the denouement there is an odd black and white montage that seems to be some kind of memory device (could the copy I saw be missing something?), so that seemed like another obvious studio error. Still, the movie is worthing seeing and should be on a double bill with "Reflections In A Golden Eye," another well made, failed film from around the same time and on the same subject (repressed, lonely, older, closeted military man fascinated by a handsome younger guy).
Three in the Attic (1968)
What "The Graduate" hath wrought
I was fascinated by the concept of this movie when it came out. I remember the poster and the trailer. But I didn't get to see it then because I was too young. (Somehow I did see "Barbarella" and "In Cold Blood." My parents must have been slipping.) Finally I have seen "Three In The Attic" and my expectations were no longer high. It was somewhat enjoyable and probably wouldn't have gotten made if "The Graduate" hadn't been a hit. (The finale even somewhat mirrors the earlier film.) Its ideas about gender conflicts, race, class, sex and death are interesting, but it's ultimately an exploitation movie with a Hollywood ending, cheaply made by American International who made a lot of fun trash.
The film (which stars Christopher Jones - in a nude scene showing his backside - square-jawed John Beck, Judy Pace, and top-billed Yvette Mimieux) takes place on a Vermont college campus and there are also brief shots of hippy-dippy 1960s Provincetown. There's not much to see in terms of Vermont scenery.
Myra Breckinridge (1970)
A fascinating, unhappy mess; but see it if you love movies
The book "Myra Breckinridge" is marvelous, and so is its nutty sequel "Myron" (which takes place on the set during the making of the Maria Montez movie "Siren of Atlantis" and, in its original published version, is a diatribe against censorship and finds new ways to use the name Rehnquist). The movie, a big flop in 1970, is not marvelous, but starts intriguingly and still has an aura of the forbidden about it (it was rated X; in 1970 that wasn't a liability, it could be a marketing scheme). The Fox Movie Channel showed the film recently in widescreen and I watched it (the latest in several viewings ) and I failed to notice exactly when it begins to unravel.
In spite of its ultimately depressing and sleazy tone, the movie does have some lovely things in it: the winking girl who pops up in various scenes throughout, Raquel Welch's game, amusing performance, an intriguing visual style, the usage of old movie clips to comment on the action in a meta-cinematic manner (my favorite is the brief glimpse of Marilyn Monroe in the unfinished "Something's Got To Give," a glimpse that could have been furthered), a bizarre underused supporting cast of excellent Old Hollywood character actors (Jim Backus, Kathleen Freeman, Grady Sutton, Andy Devine, John Carradine, etc.) and a short appearance by Genevieve Waite, the star of the director's previous, and only, hit film "Joanna." Waite is also the mother of Bijou Phillips and the ex-wife of John Phillips, of The Mamas and The Papas. (John Phillips wrote the song "A Secret Place" that was used in the film.) I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when the movie was being made. Rex Reed, one of the stars in the film, WAS a fly on the wall and wrote about the fiasco in Playboy magazine. Then he went on The Mike Douglas Show and gave out his Christmas list. To everyone who saw the movie "Myra Breckinridge" he gave a case of amnesia.
I agree with another comment here that the movie has finally caught up with its audience, but only if you know a little something about Old Hollywood and really love cinema.
Savage Intruder (1970)
terrible but fascinating junk
Every once in awhile I'll remember that I've actually seen this bizarre fiasco that's a cross between "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?", "Sunset Boulevard," the Lana Turner LSD movie "The Big Cube" and the Manson murders, which also took place in 1969 but maybe before this so-called "movie" was made! There are some descriptions of the plot already here, so I won't go into it. But it's worth noting that Miriam Hopkins plays a parody of herself: a chattering, ego-maniacal, fading actress. Perhaps she thought she was making a movie that would be as successful as one of the Bette Davis horrors. The old gal Hopkins never stopped working, so you have to hand it to her. She shows a little too much flesh in this movie, something Davis and Crawford would never have done. And there's a scene with Miriam in the actual tacky Hollywood Boulevard Christmas parade, which must have been filmed Xmas, 1968.
Gale Sondergard is old, old, old. It's just shocking how wrinkled and awful she looks. John Garfield, Jr. looks a bit like his father, but not as interesting. I think one of the Three Stooges is the tour guide at the beginning. If it's not one of the Stooges, it's somebody.
I was astounded to come across this thing in the form of a commercial videotape given to me by a friend who knows all about junk like this. It's amazing!!!