Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Phynx!

I had never heard of the movie The Phynx until I stumbled across its description at Turner Classic Movies. It described the movie as a spoof of spy films and hearkening from 1970 I thought it might be worth my time. It was and it wasn't.

I am not going to waste a lot of my time writing up a detailed summary of the movie. This review does it quite nicely with a good level of detail if you don't mind spoilers. But I do want to comment generally on what stood out from this bomb of a movie.

It seems to be a film shout out to The Monkees, a pop band is conscripted by the United States secret services to infiltrate Albania to rescue a mob of vintage celebrities who have been kidnapped for exceedingly unclear reasons. The movie purports to be a farce and perpetrates some of the most unfunny comedy I've seen on the screen in some time. Off and on through the movie The Phynx (the band itself) sing some of their music and it as listless and lifeless as any pop music you've ever encountered. There is much jumping about and even an implied orgy or two, but eventually the band get to Albania and encounter the "celebrities" who are held captive. It's gaggle of old fogies but salted in among them are a few who are of interest to this writer and folks with a pulp sensibility.

Johnny Weismuller is on hand as is his old jungle mate Maureen O'Sullivan and the pair do a shout out to their olden days as the number one jungle couple which comes across as one of the few genuinely sweet moments in a dreary movie. Also of note is the Lone Ranger (John Hart) and Tonto (Jay Silverheels) and Silverheels gets off my favorite line of the movie when he retorts to the Ranger's decision to sally forth and protect the mob that it's the stupidest dang thing he's heard. Great stuff and Silverheels steady and reliable voice is at once recognizable and still able to carry off a choice bit of sarcasm. For all the inherent flaws in the relationship between the Ranger and Tonto, it was always the dignified way Silverheels carried himself which made the thing work as well as it did and limited the cringe-worthy moments even in the modern day.

But aside from these brief highlights this is a dumbfounding mess of a movie which apparently was so obvious at the time of its impending release that it got a a very limited one and has been held hostage itself for decades, escaping to dvd only a few years ago. It's truly an awful movie, but as a curiosity it has some interest.

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