Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Madmen of Mandoras (1963)
The perfect third feature at an all-night theater - with spoiler
In 1964, several of us missed the last city bus out of downtown L.A. back to our West-side dorm, so we found an all-night theater and paid 75 cents to sit in an uncomfortable, unpadded wooden seat. "Gypsy" was the first film, in Technicolor. A Jeffrey Hunter vehicle was next; I think it was "Key Witness" in black and white, filmed on the streets of L.A. The three of us were the only people in the theater awake for the first two films because we couldn't figure out how get anywhere near comfortable. Then, onto the screen came "The Madmen of Mandoras." By now -- probably 4 a.m., I'd figured out how to sleep in the seat, but the denizens of downtown L.A., for whom this was the cheapest bed available, woke up and got into the movie. (Spoiler alert.) By the time the flames engulfed Hitler's head, which was in some sort of electrified vat of sustaining clear fluid, there were cheers. I'm sure plenty of World War II vets were in the audience, glad to know that Hitler had finally melted. (Oh, no, I gave away the ending.) The moment that "The End" appeared on screen, the beadles were at the back of the theater, banging on seats with bats to wake any remaining sleepers and to roust us out of the theater. The program was timed to the minute to end just as the first rays of the sun brought another day to L.A. "All night" and not a minute more. It was a perfect triple bill: an almost-first-run Hollywood A film, a forgettable B picture, and "Madmen of Mandoras," too awful to be a camp, cult classic, but memorable nonetheless.
Cock Fight (1896)
this film is lost -- and is not part of the Kino collection
There are no copies of this film known to scholars and archivists. The Kino collection "The Movies Begin" wrongly notes that the Cock Fight film it includes was produced in 1896. That's incorrect: the film included in the Kino collection is the film IMDb lists as Cock Fight No. 2 (1894). That particular 1-minute film can also be seen on YouTube (at least that's true in September of 2009). Don't be confused by Kino's error; don't post a correction to IMDb claiming that this film is part of the Kino collection "The Movies Begin"; don't add another error to the database. I have checked these facts with Professor Charles Musser, of Yale, whose book on Edison's 1890-1900 films, published by the Smithsonian, is definitive -- at least for now. This film, released by Edison in 1896, is nowhere to be found.
Enjoyable in many ways
Just saw the movie on DVD. Shor's granddaughter tells several stories: about Toots, about New York, about Prohibition, about the changing times of the 1960s, and about changing relationships between stars and the public. She's a good storyteller: she's dug out old photographs and news clips from the early 1900s through 1970; the black-and-white scenes of New York City's neon are wonderful; she's found aging sportswriters for whom Toots Shor's place was the watering hole in the age of Dimaggio, Mantle, and Gifford. She gives us a take on ethnicities and religious backgrounds (not so much on race) in the twentieth century. And at the center of it is this unique guy -- tough, quick-witted, generous, a warm father and husband, sly about his ego -- a man who saw things in terms of personal relationships. It's a personal film that transcends the personal. A master class in documentary film-making.
Never Forever (2007)
A woman in love with her husband (he's suicidal) decides to have a baby to save his life. She's been to a fertility clinic - as has the lover she takes - so both know how artificial insemination works; but, instead of using the method thousands of people use every year around the world (the $5 turkey baster), they engage in coitus. We also are to believe that although the immigrant is in love with his fiancée, he doesn't suggest the obvious alternative to intercourse. Further, even though this is a business arrangement, the first time she's with her sperm donor, she takes off all her clothes, as if it's a seduction. Plus, her husband doesn't notice when $30,000 goes missing from their bank accounts. Does all this seem to demand more willing suspension of disbelief than even most Hollywood fare? Far fetched on all counts.
Baisers volés (1968)
This film is set against the backdrop of the student revolt of 1968. We know it's going on because images of the protests flicker on the television sets seen by Doinel (and by us) during the course of the movie. One would think that this character would engage in these earth-shaking events - after all, Doinnel is in his early 20s, the age of the protesters - but Truffaut chooses to have Doinnel be indifferent, detached, incurious. These epic events don't engage Doinnel at all. For me, Truffaut's insistence on our noticing Doinnel's detachment is Truffaut's comment on the limits of the student protests -- not unlike Marx's distinction between the way the proletariat and the lumpen-proletariat see their places in society.
did this film ever exist?
I find no record that President Roosevelt attended the opening of the St Louis Exposition/St. Louis World's Fair -- April 30, 1904. He was present at the dedication one year previously -- on the centennial of the signing of the Louisiana Purchase (Paris, April 30, 1803). The IMDb contains a title that links to the Library of Congress's on-line library of films -- you can see Roosevelt at the dedication in 1903. However, if Roosevelt didn't attend the opening of the St. Louis Exposition in 1904, how could there be a film about it -- unless Teddy was the original Zelig? Anyone know anything more about this film? I think the trivia entry calling its existence into question is accurate. (There's another problematic title in IMDb "Roosevelt Dedication at Lewis and Clark Exposition" 1904. I think that film is apocryphal too.)
did this film ever exist?
I can find no reference to President Roosevelt being present at the groundbreaking for the Exposition (groundbreaking in 1904, I think) or the Exposition itself (1905). There are references to the Vice President of the U.S. attending the Exposition's opening in 1905 -- one would think that if the Pres were there, he'd be mentioned, too. I don't think this title has been in the database long -- and it might be an error. Anyone know anything definitive? There are a couple of other problems with IMDb titles involving President Roosevelt -- he didn't attend the opening of the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, although there's a title in the database suggesting that he did ("Roosevelt Dedicating at St. Louis Exposition"). Is there a definitive text listing US films of the first decade of the 20th century? What does it say. Neither this title nor the 1904 St. Louis Exposition title are at the Library of Congress, as far as I can tell.
Baignade en mer (1895)
Probably the same film as "Baignade en mer" (1895)
I wonder if the 42 folks who voted on this one include any of the 30 people who cast votes on "Baignade en mer"? Here is a summary of "Baignade": "The sea is before us. Some rocks are visible to the right and a narrow jetty extends about ten meters or so about three feet above the sea, held up by two sets of pylons. A woman and several lads about ten years old are coming out onto the rocks, one climbs onto the jetty at the end. He jumps back into the sea as the lads and lady run out to the end of the jetty and jump off. Even though the sea looks to be only about a foot deep, one boy does a flip into the water and repeats it later. The others simply jump in." If this also describes "La Mer" (1895) then we either have a duplicate entry or we have the first sequel in the history of the movies... or maybe it's the first remake, ahead of "Kiss in the Tunnel" by a full four years.
Two Girls and a Baby (1998)
You'll laugh, then you'll cry because you're laughing so hard
Everything about this short film is terrific. Claudia Karvan and Niky Wendt are engaging, sunny, and convincing as our mothers-to-be. Kelli Simpson's script is out of this world, not an extra word; it's touching at moments, but mostly it's dead-on funny. For me at least, this film is a look at how couples make a decision, how they talk to their families about it, some of the emotions along the way, and how the decision can play out. In the end, this short film is also about Simpson's generous spirit. Stay for the credits: Renee Geyer's music rocks.