Thursday, June 27, 2019

How Green Is The Archer?

I've been hankering to see The Green Archer forever and a day, but for whatever reason I never picked up a copy and never sat down to enjoy this Columbia chapter play starring Victor Jory as the hero seeking to get inside a displaced castle in which is held captive a lovely woman and where a gang of thieves hide and plot their schemes. It's a castle full of the usual, hidden doorways galore, mysterious steps, dungeons in offbeat places, and one of the wackiest garages you'll ever see.

It's generally assumed The Green Archer inspired the creation of DC's longtime bowman Green Arrow. The timing of this film's release over many months and Green Arrow's debut in the pages of More Fun Comics is certainly coincidental if nothing else. But I think this serial has progeny in the TV realm as well, specifically The Green Hornet show. There's a giant hedge that opens up automatically when the villains drive off their lot and they rise up into position to do that by an dandy elevator, and all these gimmicks stay hidden pretty much through the entire movie. It's not quite as cool as the kissing pair billboard or the turntable garage for Black Beauty, but it sure put me in mind of them.

The story is an ambler. The hero drops into the castle and out with varying motives, sometimes it seems forgetting all about the damsel in distress. And the cops appear unusually feckless, though that is kind of explained later as well. One thing which really pops out is the gang employed by the top villain, in that they are an unusually specific and unusually funny gaggle of baddies. Attention is given to them to a surprising degree for a serial, but that's good since it adds some zest to a show which gets rather repetitive quickly.

I haven't mentioned the Green Archer himself yet. Well, he's a ghost supposedly and represented in the movie in three ways. There's a painting and a fake Archer who works for the villain. And then there's a mysterious other Green Archer who  helps the hero and foils the villains and seems to have an unusual familiarity with castle's hidden avenues. Arrows zing all over and some deliver messages, a few deliver death, but always they mark a turn of plot.

This one can get a little rusty, but try to have fun with the bad guys, because they singularly good.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Monster Or The Ape!

The 1946 serial The Monster And The Ape might be more accurately titled "The Monster OR the Ape" since to my memory the two titular entities which promise so much only get together once and the "Monster" (a robot) is incapacitated at the time and the ape just carries it about for his masters. I will tell you now that the clash between the polished menace of the future and the furious might of the natural world  does not happen. I thought maybe they were keeping the two apart to save them up for the finale, but alas I was disappointed.

The story is pretty simple. A scientist has constructed a robot he dubs "The Metagalon Man" (the name referencing the fictional rare metal used in the construction) and wants to market it to the world. But his former partner wants the riches all to himself and begins a campaign of crime to steal the robot and in the course of that uses a giant gorilla from the local zoo. The robot has three parts, the robot itself, a small device fitted to the hip to connect it to the third part,-- a control panel. All three are needed to activate the robot and rarely are all three in the hands of either the villains or the heroes, so that means the robot moves relatively rarely.

There's nothing really wrong with this serial, but there's little really to recommend it above any others save possibly for the work of Ray "Crash" Corrigan as the gorilla. His antics are particularly good and it's always fun to see his ape suit in action. The whole movie seems to be on a simmer most of the time waiting for something big to happen and as I've already said, that doesn't happen. More's the pity. It's a diverting entertainment, but a true missed opportunity for psychotronic splendor.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

What's A Spirit To Do?

This notorious image by the Spirit's creator Will Eisner says much about where we were once upon a time and points up where we are today. The idea that women were to be taken in hand, reared as it were by the adult men in their lives has been the classic mode for generations. But the world was soon change even as Eisner was drawing this cover in 1941.

Only a few months after the beginning of World War II women were called upon to leave their classic roles and step up to fill in. The returning men after the war needed for the old way to reassert itself and to some extent it did, but it was just another step in the progression of women to full participation in the society in which they are critical. Feminism has never stopped despite the caveman attitudes which deride it daily and sooner than later women will taken the wheel in the country in which I live. They will lead us out of the constant cycle of war and not-war, at least that's what I hope.

That said, it's still a nifty evocative image which has been used a few times over the decades. The shadows added by Kitchen Sink's Pete Poplaski make it pop.

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Monday, June 24, 2019

The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot!

How could I resist a title like that -- The Man Who Killed Hitler and the The Bigfoot is a movie that demands that it be seen. and requires that whatever you expect, you must anticipate surprise and possible disappointment. With the great Sam Elliot, one of the few actors of our time who is almost always larger than the parts he plays, this is a movie that was only ever going to be so bad regardless of what else anybody other than Elliot did. He has delivered in every movie I've ever seen him in and that made me feel safe in trusting my imagination to this film.

Get it and see it. I highly recommend it.

Now for those who have already seen the movie let me continue.

The yarn (I use that word a lot but never more accurately) here is divided fragmented in time. We begin with a weary old warrior named Calvin Barr who lives alone and mired in regrets and oddly some degree of guilt. He was commissioned by his country in World War II to infiltrate the Nazi territories, find the real Adolph Hitler and assassinate him. He did and we follow along as the young Calvin (Aiden Turner) completes his mission. But we also see him leave behind the love of his life, hesitate to make her his wife and then lose her for all time in that way so many people leave our lives, they just go away. Nothing of his life between that spectacular secret mission and the modern day is really revealed save a few comments between Barr and his brother, a local barber who has had a regular life (whatever that means). We get feelings but not details, not really.

It is into this somber environment that two agents appear, one from the United States and the other from Canada and they say they need the help of Calvin Barr yet again. There is a mission he is uniquely qualified for because he is among the very very few with the training, talent and blood immunity to confront the Bigfoot. The creature is alone and sick, and that illness is threatening to spill across all borders as a plague they world has rarely seen and which civilization would be hard pressed to survive. With the nuclear option at the ready and looming in the distance Calvin journeys beyond the firewalls meant to keep out the curious and into the depths of the Canadian wilderness, to find Bigfoot and put it down.

But what's the movie about? As it turns out it ain't really about Hitler and it ain't really about Bigfoot, it's about what it requires of men and women to deal with the monsters in the world, monsters rearing up from the bowels of civilization or leaping forth from the depths of the natural world. It's about that what it happens to people when they face cold reality and still must find a means to progress forward. It's a love story too of course, but it's a heartbroken love story and how a person must come to terms with time after lost opportunity. It's about what's real and what's myth.

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Sunday, June 23, 2019

"T" Is For Tobor!

Tobor the Great is yet another of those vintage sci-fi classics I'd never seen until recently when I grabbed a copy off of the Amazon and sat down to enjoy it in all its 50's psychotronic splendor. I was not disappointed and the movie was all that I expected and more too.

Of course "Tobor" is "Robot" spelled backwards and the movie points that out a few times for the folks who don't tumble to it. (I'm not going to criticize because there are lots of obvious things I didn't get until much later than I probably should have.) We are in the later 50's (some few years beyond the 1954 film's release date) and man is pushing to get into outer space. The debate which opens the movie is whether its ethical to expose people to the rigors of space without foreknowledge of what they will encounter. This debate results in a classic absent-minded professor and a fiery young doctor working together on a machine which can take a person's place.

Charles Drake and Karin Booth play the obligatory romantic leads in a movie in which neither of them is the focus and who have names I don't care enough about to look up. We spend more time with the robot, his ancient creator (Taylor Holmes),and the latter's grandson "Gadge", a genius of a kid who has a knack for doing exactly the opposite of what he is told and getting away with it. It is the relationship between Tobor and Gadge which is the core of the story, as the boy seeks a strong male having lost his father in the Korean conflict. Despite lots of screen time devoted to the shenanigans of red spies (Stephen Geray and Peter Brocco among others) working almost in a Three Stooges style to get the secret of Tobor, this is the story of a boy and his 'bot.

There are lots of familiar movie locations in this little yarn from the friendly sci-fi confines of Griffith Park Observatory to the "Garden of the Gods". This is a perfect example of movie craftsmanship with good work done on nearly all fronts resulting in an entertaining movie. It's not going to elevate beyond that status because frankly it never wants to. But for those wanting a pleasant sci-fi diversion Tobor the Great is ideal.

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Saturday, June 22, 2019

Just Call It "Q"!

I've been watching a lot of Larry Cohen movies of late and recently learned that this maverick director passed away just a few months ago. He seemed to be one of those energetic characters that the movie industry loves and hates at the same time, a go-getter but not one who does things by the book. That's all well and good until someone gets hurt and on Q, a movie about the great flying god of the Azetics Quetzoquotal setting up shop in New York City there was ample opportunity for that.

I've long wanted to watch Q, but it never seemed to be a movie which played anywhere I was and I kept running across references to the stop-motion animation, a dying art even when this 80's flickw as being made. The flying monster in this one is okay and performs its functions well enough,but like so many movie monsters fails to live up the outstanding imagery of the posters. Boris Vallejo outdid himself on this one.

The story of how the movie got to be made is fascinating as well. Cohen was fired off a project and just to keep his hand in and to stick to the folks who sent him packing he put together a movie in a matter of days, calling favors from across the world. David Carradine , Richard Roundtree and Michael Moriarty give this monster epic heft, and the presence of Candy Clark assures one and all its status in the cult community. Cohen and Moriarty got along so well on this movie that they worked together on several of other projects.

Q ain't a great monster movie by any stretch, but it's a darn entertaining one and has an energy many of the modern much ballyhooed epics fail to match.

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Friday, June 21, 2019

A Day In The Anti-LIfe - Drum Beats!

I talk less about the deplorable state of the nation here for the simple reason I try not to think about it much. Life needs living and there's an ample library of books and films in my possession which allow me to go days on end without hearing the T-Word. That's good for my blood pressure. But at the risk of my health (not really) let me reflect on some more recent events.

The loathsome nature of the current leader is all too clear to anyone willing to glance in the direction. All the people I interact with who support our Dotard-in-Chief regardless of his endless whimperings know full well how low he is. But they set that aside because somehow they are convinced the the other side is worse. And while the other side is not worse in terms of policy (which will be revealed agonizingly slowly over the course of the next few decades as the cost of deregulation begins to create problems once thought solved) the opponents to the current Blowhard-in-Chief lack the stupid single-mindedness which seems ultimately to pay so many dividends these days.

I am reminded of quaint far off times when "flip flopping" once could well be the harpoon to the gut of any campaign, and now we are riddled with flips and flops so pronounced and frequent that just cataloging them requires due diligence and framing them into context utterly impossible save in reflective articles which almost no one will ever read. The secret is never to admit the obvious, just plow forward regardless of ethics. Power is all that matters, the getting and using of power to achieve ends or in the case of our cringe-worthy leader just as end in itself so that he can  bask in the soft warm glow of sweet lovely power.

I've said before and I'll repeat that the amazingly callous administration which currently heads up the United States has found far more traction than I thought it ever could. A brief bout of madness is not uncommon in American body politic, but usually a few years washes it out of the system and we return to the normal state of politics which is no bag of sugar on its own. The difference these days to me seems to be the utter openness of those in power to talk about maintaining that power and doing so at the cost of failing to meet their responsibilities. The House of Representatives was returned to the Democrats for the express purpose to put a check on the flagrant violations of the Republicans and especially these Republicans who treated Washington and the country as their own personal pig sty. They were not put into place to merely watch the pigs and secure a seat to watch them longer, they are there to clean up the sty. 

Not only that, but in the face of obvious provocations it is the responsibility of the House to impeach the President. I'm not crazy about the prospect, but it is their duty and as far as I can see the only way they are going to be able to gather the necessary footing to tip the balance of power back into the hands of the legislature which has for far too long allowed the executive to have its way. As the drum beats of a yet another possible conflict in the Middle East begin to thrum through the land, the Democrats must stick the bully in the eye before he  ruins another two decades of the twenty-first century. It may already be too late. 

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