Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Oscar (1966)


Props to Dan Callahan. The Citizen Kane of bad movies is the best description evah. It's awe-inspiring, how no hint of talent or artistry crops up to mar the perfection of The Oscar's badness. No detail was too small to fuck up. My new life's ambition is to watch this with the Blogdorf Goodman crew and Beauty Addict, because the makeup is the world's most complete list of don'ts. Jill St. John's eyelids were turned into baby blue dinner plates and Eleanor Parker (ah, Eleanor, how you suffered for this one) had her coral lips drawn way outside the mouth edge (girls, don't ever do that). The costume designer signals which women are the tarts (St. John and Edie Adams) by dressing them both in doubleknit polyester that drapes straight down like a windowshade and has the added benefit of making their breasts look like lemons stuck to a wall. Even the hairstyles are awful, especially when they've been "mussed" to indicate a romp in the hay.



Parker, all of 44 in this movie and she would have looked 34 if not for the hair and lips, knocks Elke Sommer into a propeller beanie in the looks department. You get to compare the two Miss Es directly, as Eleanor plays her big topless scene on her tummy facing stage left and peeling the paint off the walls with her emotions; and Elke plays her topless scene on her tummy facing the same way and delivering her lines like she's announcing that the train will be held at the station momentarily. Joseph Cotten is the stalwart, integrity-stuffed studio head--lots of those in Hollywood-on-Hollywood movies, for that extra touch of versimilitude, one assumes.



As for Tony Bennett, in his big scene, his suit dusted with cornstarch to indicate a soul's struggle in the depths, the singer seems to be channeling John Garfield on a frequency that can only tune in to late-period Jack Webb.

Stephen Boyd anchors the cast, his dimpled chin working furiously to indicate the states of emotion he can't convey by squaring his shoulders. He also has the ugliest speaking voice the Siren has yet encountered, a bastard mix of Irish and American that drowns the consonants in his throat like kittens and forces the vowels back out through his nose. But it's Milton Berle, as the goodhearted agent done wrong by his two-timing client, who gives this peerless defense of the honor and decency of Hollywood:

Boyd: I'm no different from anybody else in this damn town.
Berle: That's not true, Frankie. Oh, if it comes to a matter of life or death, if we have no other choice, then we hurt others--but reluctantly.

The Pathécolor is hideous and the art direction was a trip down memory lanes marked Wood Paneling, Harvest Gold and Avocado. And the Siren still wants to know how many pairs of false eyelashes were on Merle Oberon for the finale, which was just as thrillingly god-awful as Yojimboen promised.

Need I tell you I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish it? My god, it was wonderful.

81 comments:

DavidEhrenstein said...

Isn't it The Cats?

Stephen Boyd is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. He's the male lead in one of my all-time faves The Best of Everything and one of the biggest snorefests Oscar ever honored, Ben-Hur. There's somethign weirdly remote about him that never allows a cinematic personality to quite take hold.

As I recall he was involved in some quack religious cult or other.

Peter Nellhaus said...

Hilarious, no holds barred Siren.

A pretty good film starring Boyd that Cinebeats has mentioned: The Third Secret.

Dan Oliver said...

Perhaps you should write everything at a white heat; this was catty, hilarious, spot on and actually much more entertaining than watching the movie. Thanks for brightening my morning.

Yojimboen said...

Hear hear! A twenty feet in the air double back somersault slam-dunk! Wowee! Harvest Gold and Avocado! Aaargh! Way to give me nightmares for a month! As Laughton says to Milland in The Big Clock: “You… have struck twelve!”

Linda said...

Was this the first time you saw it? I envy you having THAT jaw-dropping experience.

You should track down an SCTV sketch which combined "The Oscar" with "The Prize", an Irving Wallace shlockfest novel/movie about the Nobel Prize (?!). (Poor Elke also was in that one.) I don't want to give anything away regarding it but it is pure genius.

Arthur S. said...

Stephen Boyd is quite decent in The Fall of the Roman Empire which for me and many others is the greatest of the Ancient world Hollywood epics. That and Land of the Pharaohs.

Ben-Hur is a film I can't have negative feelings towards because I saw it on TV as a small kid with my brother and my mother till late and we found it quite fascinating as an experience. And Stephen Boyd in any case is the only one who has any sense what kind of movie he's in as Gore Vidal has made clear(though of course that escaped me when I saw it first).

The Siren said...

Arthur, Boyd is my favorite thing in Ben-Hur as well, aside from the white horses who are more beautiful than even Charlton Heston. His death scene is really rather touching. I can't understand what other people see in The Fall of the Roman Empire, though. It was a standing joke with me and my two roommates for years; if we were out too late we'd look at each other and say "Time to go home and catch the rest of Fall of the Roman Empire." Damn, that movie was slower than my twins moving upstairs for bedtime. Land of the Pharaohs, now that's the ticket. Way funnier than Hatari!, for one thing.

I'll try to catch The Third Secret but Boyd's voice is painful to my ears, to quote Professor Higgins. Still, it didn't bother me that much in The Best of Everything which I love, honest to Ehrenstein.

Linda, this was indeed my first time seeing it and The Oscar did remind me of how much fun it can be to write up a genuine four-door chrome-plated flop-o-rama.

Thanks for the compliments, guys.

DavidEhrenstein said...

It's auteur Russell Rouse also directed The Thief -- a film everyone should see.

Repeatedly.

Jeff Gee said...

We'll never know for sure what The Bad and the Beautiful would have been like if it had been written and directed by Ed Wood, but this is pretty close.

Arthur S. said...

The Fall of the Roman Empire is considerably shorter than Ben-Hur. It's an incredible film because it tells this epic with an ensemble of characters and it's quite sophisticated politically(the screenplay is by Philip "Johnny Guitar" Yordan). And it has this incredible ending where the throne of the Roman Empire is put on auction to the highest bidder(which actually happened), amazing way to end a film.

The film was shamelessly ripped off by Ridley Scott for Gladiator and they made it into a ridiculous wrestling picture. Along with Land of the Pharoahs it's one of the few epics made for grown-ups so I'd definitely say that one shouldn't give up on it. And the music by Dimitri Tiomkin(who also did Pharoahs) is great. It's Mann's last masterpiece.

Yojimboen said...

Enjoy.

The Siren said...

I had to move the two Miss Es to the banner. They so deserved it.

Vanwall said...

Boyd was good in small films, and in costume epics under tight control. He should never have been allowed facial hair in any of his roles. He was great in "Ben Hur", and in FOTRE, he actually underplayed (!!!), and he was good in the aforementioned "The Third Secret", and in "The Inspector" AKA "Lisa". And let's face it, he was marvelously bad in "The Oscar", creating a new level of badness almost unaproachable by any others.

Trish said...

The Fall of the Roman Empire is slow, but it's enlivened by an over-the-top performance from a young Christopher Plummer. I believe he plays the emperor who invented toilets? Anyway, he runs around half naked, if I recall, chewing the scenery in a way that would make Richard Burton proud.

The Siren said...

Trish, yes, Plummer was a delight in "Fall," and so handsome too. There were long, long stretches without him, however. I loved seeing Plummer at the Oscars after all those years.

Vanwall, in FOTRE Boyd was totally overplaying his underplaying.

Tom Block said...

Boyd is surprisingly, uh, okay as a Nazi hitman in The Man Who Never Was with C. Webb and G. Grahame. The Fall of the Roman Empire is an extraordinary movie despite him.

Rouse did do some good work. The Well is about a town where a small black girl goes missing. When rumors start flying that she was talking to a white man, a huge race riot breaks out until the girl is found stuck in a well, and the town rallies to try to save her--sorta like Ace in the Hole, but with fake optimism instead of fake cynicism. It's a lot better than Wilder's movie, though.

That was in '51, and in '52 he made The Thief, where Ray Milland plays a Soviet spy who's trying to pass microfilm out of the country. Great location shooting (a terrific chase ends inside the needle of the Empire State Building), an amazingly sympathetic portrait of the spy, and except for sound effects and music it's a silent movie--not a single line of dialogue in the entire thing.

Trish said...

I find it hard to believe that FOTRE was directed by Anthony Mann, in the same way I can't believe Stanley Kubrick directed Spartacus. I know Kirk Douglas likely ran the show on the set of Spartacus, but how does one explain Mann, with a reputation for some of the best film noirs and westerns, as the auteur of this snorefest?

The Siren said...

Tom, I can't say if I ever saw The Thief but now I will have to track it down. The Well sounds interesting as well.

I also want to see "The Night Heaven Fell."

The Siren said...

Trish, I can't explain Mann's big torpid movie either and in addition I am, no point in hiding it, no big fan of El Cid. Frankly I'd rather watch Raintree County than either. I don't know why Edward Dmytryk is rapped for creeping gigantism in his later Oscar-bait films but Mann's are seen as his talent in full flower.

Lord, Frankie Fane has left me feisty today. I'm going to catch hell for dissing Mann's late epics but oh well, I'll just let Sammy Davis Jr say it for me.

panavia999 said...

I also think Stephen Boyd is the best thing in Ben Hur. People criticize Heston's performance, but I think he's fine too. It's a biblical epic, I expect melodrama! (Hugh Griffith, the sheik with the welsh accent was also over the top. He is always fun to watch.)Ben Hur is pretty depressing to sit through in one stretch but I always watch the chariot race.
I haven't seen FOTRE since I was a kid, but one thing that I always remembered was a chariot chase through the woods which seemed just like a car chase scene but but with chariots. "The Third Secret" is a very interesting psychological mystery with a good ensemble cast. Pamela Franklin is especially good.
Unfortunately, my satellite is out and I missed "The Oscar". I hope to see it in the future because it sounds like a craptacular fun fest.

Arthur S. said...

Well ''The Fall of the Roman Empire'' touches on a number of themes that fascinated Mann. In fact it's practically a remake of ''The Man from Laramie'' with Alec Guinness playing the Donald Crisp role and Stephen Boyd playing the role of the decadent son while Stephen Boyd is a mix of Jimmy Stewart and Arthur Kennedy. Only the Roman Empire is a greater scale than some frontier land in the Wild West.

And the framing, the sense of movement, the powerful violence and muted earthy colours is very much Mann's style and far different from the other epic films which tended to have gaudier and tackier set design.

By the way, the early scenes of ''Spartacus'' was shot by Mann and was intended to be made by him. Especially the fight with Woody Strode, he differed with Kirk Douglas, got fired and Douglas brought in Kubrick.

Arthur S. said...

My mistake it's Christopher Plummer who plays the role of the decadent son...

The Siren said...

All right, I am back because really, I should not and cannot be so flip about a couple of movies that many of my esteemed commenters value highly. Here's the thing with the two Manns. I am not blind and I see the incredible beauty of the compositions and camerawork in those films. One problem I have is with the scripts, which lack the kind of propulsive narrative drive an epic needs (and which Spartacus had in spades) and also have stiff characterizations and speechifying dialogue. I also think the pacing is deadly in both movies. And there are other things too, like the lovely Sophia, who never seemed quite at ease in most of her English movies. She has no chemistry with either leading man; that's a particular problem in El Cid where the romance is supposed to sweep me along with the rest of the story.

There are pleasures in both films. I respect people's admiration for them, but I don't really share it for anything beyond the pictorial beauty.

The Siren said...

Arthur, you posted your defense before I got to my clarification! Hope I explained myself sufficiently.

Sondermann said...

"It's auteur Russell Rouse also directed The Thief -- a film everyone should see.

Repeatedly."


What a striking invocation of hell...I hope one would be allowed to scream out loud at least (unlike the poor characters in said movie). I was intrigued by the premise when I read about it but it didn't work for me at all. The forced silence, or better: the forced lack of human utterances - quickly becomes an incredibly annoying gimmick.

But speaking of Eleanor Powell, it just so happens that yesterday I saw Never Say Goodbye, which I would like very much to see even repeatedly.

The Siren said...

Sondermann, the Eleanor of whomst thou speakest is Parker, not Powell, but please do not fret as it's a mistake that has been made here before. But not by me; my specialty is typing Kenneth Brownlow when I mean Kevin.

I love Ms Parker and will make a mental note about Never Say Goodbye; she was at her best early on.

Sondermann said...

Quel faux pas...But to my defence, she danced with both Errol Flynn and Forrest Tucker in that movie.

Dan Callahan said...

When I first saw your new banner, I could have sworn the blond was Kim Novak in "Legend of Lylah Clare," another wondrous bad movie we've been talking up.

"Alright, Frankie...you may have your Oscar...and I hope it keeps you warm on cold nights!" croaks Elke. I lose it every time.

Rouse is interesting; I'd like to see "The Well" and "The Thief." I just saw his "Wicked Woman," which is terrifically seedy, a cheap-looking movie about cheap, sordid lives. Beverly Michaels deserves her cult following---she's really quite touching in the last scene.

DavidEhrenstein said...

A freind of mine, the late great Rafe Blasi, once interviewed Russell Rouse and asked of Bveryl Michaels "Whatever happend to that cheap floozie?" to which Rouse replied "I married her."

X. Trapnel said...

Stephen Boyd is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life.

The Siren said...

David, HA! That is even better than my old friend who walked up to me at a party and languidly inquired "Who's the bimbo with Al?" when said bimbo was standing about three inches behind her trying to get the bartender's attention.

I take it that was the end of the interview, or was Rouse able to laugh/shrug it off?

The Siren said...

XT, LOL!

The Siren said...

Dan, I have yet to experience Beverly in anything but bit parts.

Tom Block said...

>She has no chemistry with either leading man; that's a particular problem in El Cid

That's putting it mildly--she and Heston absolutely hated each other, to the point where he refused to work on Roman Empire when he heard she was going to co-star.

I like El Cid just okay but Roman Empire blows me out of my sandals thanks to its sheer majesty--no other word for it, really. That funeral in the snow? Baby, that is no joke...

rudyfan1926 said...

I see, in hindsight, I should have skipped the Oscar telecast and watched The Oscar. It sounds deliciously bad.

The Siren said...

Rudy, I enjoyed the Oscars this year but I don't think you'd have regretted it, all the same, especially since the 1966 flick was on a triple bill with The Big Knife and Show People.

Tom, Heston didn't get along with several of his leading ladies; he also hated Ava Gardner although she does seem to have been a handful at that stage of her career. Naughty me, I have always thought maybe Heston wanted to be the only beauty in the room.

Gloria said...

Having read this, and Stacia's and Professor Wagstaff's reviews of the film, I'd say that it could be summones in one word: "Setentero" (even if it was made in the middle sixties)

(I would say that "El Cid" was ponderous if not for the fact that I saw it years ago in french dubbing, which was somewhat unsuited to the likes of Mr. Heston and Ms. Loren, and made the picture very funny to watch)

DavidEhrenstein said...

Well that's unusual. I've heard nothing but wonderful things about Ava Gardner. Mr. Cukor utterly adored her, said she was very hard working and tended to underrate herself as an actress.

My favorite Ava story is one I heard back in the late 70's. She was at the Formasa Cafe with some pals. It's a wonderful old ramshakle "diner car" style Chinese restaurant on Melrose (a scene in L.A. Confidential was shot there.) It's right next door to the "Warner Hollywood" lot -- which used to be the Goldwyn Studios. In any event Frank Sinatra had an office there -- right underneath the screening room.

Ava hears that an order is going across the street to Frank. So she pays for it, and signs the bill "From an admirer."

Yojimboen said...

XT! Welcome back! You were missed!

If we’re doing Heston epics, let me give a modest shout-out to a pair of my secret faves: Nick Ray’s 55 Days at Peking and Franklin Shaffner’s The War Lord
(Rosemary Forsyth? Be still my heart!).

But old Chuck H never topped this Stephen Boyd moment.

The Siren said...

David, I forget the exact details but Heston goes into it in his memoirs; it was during 55 Days at Peking and had to do with her stalking off the set after an extra took an unauthorized snapshot of her, if I recall correctly. The Lee Server bio does go into some unpretty behavior from time to time but I'm with you, it's hard not to love Ava. One hell of a woman.

Lou Lumenick said...

Parker is quite good as Stuart Whitman's alcoholic wife in her other 1966 movie, An American Dream, which I saw last week courtesy of the Warner Archive Collection. The film itself, based on a Norman Mailer novel, is a not-uninteresting mess.

Arthur, many of Yordan's credits, certainly including Fall of the Roman Empire, are him fronting for blacklisted writers or simply grabbing credit in his capacity as Samuel Bronston's in-house writer.

Karen said...

[Tony Bennett] seems to be channeling John Garfield on a frequency that can only tune in to late-period Jack Webb.

This may be the funniest thing I've ever read ANYWHERE. You really had the claws out; I like it when you're classy and insightful, but this side of you is pretty damn fun.

Now I really have to watch it.

Incidentally, while browsing through the TCM offerings of the coming week, I noticed a film in which George Chakiris is playing a Norwegian. It was the purest act of will not to program it into the DVR.

X. Trapnel said...

Y, that clip opened up a veritable Pandora's box of fetid cinema memories.

Joseph Cotten was in Kane and Ambersons. And The Oscar and Soylent Green. One grows pensive.

Trish said...

Poor Chuck! He's so dull in those big epics. I like him far better as a circus manager in "The Greatest Show on Earth", and most especially as the jealous ranch hand of "The Big Country". Every time it comes on, I sit down to watch in the hope that the ending will finally resolve the relationship between he and Carroll Baker...

Ambrose Murgatroyd said...

My thanks for the banner pic. Eleanor Parker, makeup nightmares be damned, had me mesmerized from moment one. I'm not sure what I'd rather do, go ice skating with her in Mission to Moscow or join her actors workshop in The Oscar. Remarkably well-preserved, as Edmund Gwenn might say. Swoon (uh, to Ellie not Edmund)!

Vanwall said...

Karen -

Is that George Chakiris playing a Norwegian in "633 Squadron"? One of the most rousing Main Themes ever, by Ron Goodwin - another film where the music is way better than the rest of it. Its kinda dubious honor was being a major influence on "Star Wars", especially the last attack sequence.

Vanwall said...

M X -

Don't forget "Latitude Zero" in Cotten's résumé. Hehe!

The Siren said...

XT is back, Karen is back, Gloria is here, Lou is here, Trish is saying nice things about The Big Country. All's right with the world. Despite our wistful contemplation of late-period Joseph Cotten.

The Siren said...

And Ambrose, welcome. So glad my appreciation of Parker is shared. She was also dang hot in The Sound of Music.

Yojimboen said...

And Arthur S is saying nice things about Tiomkin...

You're back not a moment too soon, X.

Verification word: FOOKIM
I swear.

DavidEhrenstein said...

I like him best in Ruby Gentry with the fabulous Jennifer Jones and The Naked Jungle with our star du jour Eleanor Parker.

Vanwall said...

I'll take Heston's Harry Steele - more influential than we can ever know.

tomcervo said...

The SCTV skit was called "The Nobel". Dave Thomas as Bob Hope presided over the ceremony in Oslo:
"You know what the Nobel Prize is, dontcha? It's the ACADEMY AWARD for BRAINS!"

Oh yes, "The Naked Jungle". Parker is Heston's mail order bride; he rejects her because she's a widow and not the virgin he expected. Except that she makes the Brazilian rainforest look like a bonsai tree in comparative lushness, and you start wondering if Heston's character is gay.

The Siren said...

Tom, I wrote up The Naked Jungle the very first year of this blog; the post is here. It's one of the few things I ever wrote in a similar vein to The Oscar.

Arthur S. said...

I am not saying that Stephen Boyd is a great neglected actor or any such thing. Just that he isn't the worst actor in the world and that he's quite good in The Fall of the Roman Empire and Ben-Hur. In the Mann film, we aren't really invited to identify with any one character or figure in that story and for that style he is suited.

My favourite Heston roles is Touch of Evil(which let's not forget got made because he campaigned for Welles to direct...for that we can even forgive the NRA phase) and also his remarkable cameo at the end of that Michael Moore film.

Ambrose Murgatroyd said...

Re: The Naked Jungle post.

Well, that was brilliantly funny, Siren.

"If you knew anything about music, you would know that the best piano is one that's been played."

Zing went the strings of my heart! Going to the top of the ol' rental queue as we speak. Certainly one of the more amusing conventions, when our male lead, like Chuck, has to act bothered with the attentions of a woman who's clearly been sent here from another planet, like Eleanor. I think of an irritated Dennis O'Keefe playing defense against a hungry Jane Greer or Andy Hardy ignoring the 20-year-old Donna Reed because she wears glasses.

Yojimboen said...

Ah, yes, The Naked Jungle! “…forty square miles of agonizing death!” A touchstone for many a dull teenage Saturday night. Whenever the conversation lagged, someone would shout those six words to rekindle the laughter. (Every teenager’s a stand-up comic.) For myself, I liked Chuck Heston the first time I saw him in The Private War of Major Benson with the babelicious but perpetually undersung Julie Adams. I think I always liked him; though he made it harder for us in later years (cf our earlier conversation about separating the artist from the art). Add to the above-mentioned titles, The Greatest Show on Earth, Major Dundee and yes, M VW, his proto-Indy, Harry Steele; but especially Will Penny, which along with The War Lord & The Big Country was for me his best work.

WTF, he was a professional who always gave us our money’s worth. In the end, “what does it matter what you say about people?” Like Quinlan, Vargas was also “some kind of man”.

Vertigo's Psycho said...

I love Parker being torrid, but an emotionless Elke is also a perfect thing, in her own way. She's even likable in Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!, another career high/low.

Karen said...

Vanwall, I could not be more impressed at your pulling out 633 Squadron so effortlessly; that is indeed the film with Chakiris as a Norwegian. A Norwegian freedom fighter, no less.

I'm afraid even a rousing score isn't going to get me to watch that!

Thanks for the welcome back, Siren! Three and a half weeks in Egypt were pretty fine, but I did miss your inimitable salon.

VW: imormal. I cannot stop giggling.

Flickhead said...

Elke's finest moment was in The Wrecking Crew.

Spitz Nichols said...

I believe Pauline Kael described this film best (I quote from memory), "[O]ne of those happy accidents in which bad taste transcends itself."

Poor William Millar! Extraordinarily handsome and a perfectly competent actor, he never got the sort of breakthrough role that might have ranked him with the likes of Heston, Burt Lancaster, etc. At least his stage name wasn't the sort of awful concoction the Hollywood studios inflicted on their young players (Rock, Tab, etc.), I guess the Brit studios where he started were somewhat less given to such ludicrous flights of fancy.

Fortunately, he got the role he played in Ben-Hur, and that's what people remember him for, rather than this atrocity. It's part of the film's off-key perfection (with neither a realistic moment nor a line that sounds like it could have been spoken by an actual human being) that this supposedly brilliant actor Frank Fane is portrayed by someone giving one of the worst performances in a lead role ever recorded. The last ten minutes should be shown at acting schools the world over as a warning to young performers, "don't let this happen to you!"

Millar/Boyd did have a rather odd sounding voice. I was a kid when his career was at its peak, so between movie theatres and television, I saw a lot of his films. At the time, I assumed he was American, it wasn't until years later I discovered he was Ulster Irish. His odd vocal production is doubtless the result of purging his County Tyrone accent. If you're familiar with the way people speak in that part of (Northern) Ireland, you have to be impressed with his ability to sound so convincingly American. OTOH, having to constantly watch how he pronounced words probably added a stilted quality to his performing, much as it has to the work done by other foreigners. There's a very brief sequence in Billy Wilder's film One, Two, Three where Horst Buchholz gets to speak his native tongue, and it's a bit of a shock to see how relaxed and naturally animated this normally stilted and awkward performer is in those moments. But then he was a respected stage and film actor in Germany prior to going to Hollywood. I have to think working so hard to speak and pronounce his lines a certain way hurt his performance, and that this sort of thing also had a negative impact on the work of others (maybe even Elke Sommer, who knows?).

One other thing that interests me about this film is the presence of a pair of feuding parties who don't have any scenes together, i.e., Sinatra/Peter Lawford and Joseph Cotten/Hedda Hopper. Lawford looks so bloated and awful (you can smell the booze through the TV screen) that I'm relieved he doesn't have to be anywhere near Sinatra, but one does wish the filmmakers had possessed the wit to duplicate the famous incident in which Cotten gave Horrible Hedda a boot in the rear, and the onlookers clapped and cheered. I wonder if anyone had to resort to restraining orders during the shoot.

X. Trapnel said...

V, I think things started going wrong for Cotten when he found himself being stalked by Wendell Corey wearing a dress in The Killer is Loose.

Vanwall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vanwall said...

Karen -

Planes and cars were my early film bent, so I have seen way too many war and car crashing movies - don't get me started on period anachronisms, biplanes, or "silenced revolvers", and James Bond's Aston Martin and the Minis from the original "Italian Job" are gods of the screen in their own right for me. I did kinda wonder what that guy from "West Side Story" was doing in my plane flick at the time, tho.

Trish said...

Vanwall, I'm envious. The Naked Jungle is definitely a guilty pleasure, but I've wanted to see "Secret of the Incas" since I was a child. Why is this film so hard to come by?

DavidEhrenstein said...

I saw Secret of the Incas when it came out. Great fun. Chuck AND Yma Sumac. Can't be beat!

I ran into heston around town a good deal in the years just before Alzheimer's set in. He was quite pleasant and professional. When Alzheimer's hit (which was AFTER his appearance in Bowling For Columbine) he was a shell of a former shell and coudl barely talk. He showed up for the Academy's William Wyler tribute, but didn't even stand up in his seat, much less go up on stage. It was really, really sad.

DavidEhrenstein said...

As for Caged you really haven't seen it unless you've attended a Gay and Lesbian Film Festival screening, when it's shown to a room full of lesbians.

Makes Rocky Horror Pictue Show screenings look like High Tea at Buckingham Palace.

Vanwall said...

Trish -

"Secret of the Incas" used to be on TV all the time, until Indy appeared, and it "mysteriously vanished". Far be it from me to point out the grassy knoll, but it was sure interesting that it wasn't ever part of any Heston farewell I saw, altho I don't want to say it was buried, just stashed. I've read it was a direct inspiration for the Indiana Jones character, and if you see it, you'll never believe the brainstorming sessions came up with such a close similarity by chance, not to mention some actual plot and set swipes...er, ideas. It's available from some online DVD 'legger sites, I've heard.

Yojimboen said...

Trish – See it here.

So-so quality, but watchable.

It ends abruptly about 30 seconds short of its 100 minutes, but the story’s over by then. It’s fun. Enjoy.

MrsHenryWindleVale said...

I see that someone has mentioned "American Tragedy" before I got round to it. Good. But EP *is* wonderful in it, and one is best advised to switch it off once her character takes The Big Leap. Hell, the movie even begins with Parker naked 'cept for pearls and dark glasses. What More Could You Want?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-8o7dgI0kc

Yojimboen said...

David E, I can think of a thousand movies I'd love to re-see at a Gay or Lesbian Film Festival, but nobody ever invites me. Do they advertise in L.A. Weekly?

D Cairns said...

Heh heh heh. I love it when you trash stuff, even if I come here for the enthusiasm and insights into great films. Still to see The Oscar, but have seen other Harlan Ellison scripted stuff and his purple prose never sounds too convincing emerging from characters...

ajm said...

THE OSCAR is *way* funnier than FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION, the only Christopher Guest mockumentary I could never get into. The oversized Halliwell film guide quotes one OSCAR reviewer as saying (I don't have the book with me, so I'm paraphrasing): "It's a total disaster, but the kind of bloated disaster *only* Hollywood could create, so it's a pretty remarkable achievement."

Trish said...

Yojimboen and Vanwall -- thank you so much! It's late, but I will watch "Secret of the Incas" tomorrow when I'm alert. I can hardly wait! :D

Peter L. Winkler said...

I'm surprised no one mentioned that Rouse and Greene wrote the film D.O.A.

The Siren said...

Peter, that was mentioned when I posted that I was dying to DVR this. DOA is a really good movie, but now that I think back there is an element in it that one could conceive of leading to, well, this.

ajm said...

I came across the actual Halliwell Film Guide quote, not quite as I remembered it:

"This is the sort of film that only Hollywood could make, and on that level it is preposterously enjoyable." -- David Wilson

cgeye said...

Oh, poor Leiningen vs. the Ants, aka The Naked Jungle. Not the first time a pretty-boy actor was outshone by the radio version done by Bill Conrad.

And with all this love for Miss Parker, the first movie to mention is not Caged? For shame. And why yes I saw it at lesbian noir night at the film festival, why do you ask?

cgeye said...
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Eric said...

Siren, I'm surprised no one's commented on the filmmaker's decision as to who finally does win "The Oscar" at the climax. (Spoiler alert.) The overall thrust of the film would seem to be that virtue and honesty should eventually triumph, and that cynical climbers can't rise by talent alone - "He's missing something," says studio head Cotten. Point taken - we've watched Frankie Fane act like a heel for two hours, and we're sure not rooting for him to win - but who finally does get the statuette? That paragon of selflessness, compassion and clean living, Frank Sinatra. You don't have to be Kitty Kelly to find a dollop of irony in that payoff.

Unless, of course, the irony is so bald and self-evident that only I'm obtuse enough to find it profound. There's that possibility.

Juanita's Journal said...

The Fall of the Roman Empire is considerably shorter than Ben-Hur. It's an incredible film because it tells this epic with an ensemble of characters and it's quite sophisticated politically(the screenplay is by Philip "Johnny Guitar" Yordan). And it has this incredible ending where the throne of the Roman Empire is put on auction to the highest bidder(which actually happened), amazing way to end a film.

The film was shamelessly ripped off by Ridley Scott for Gladiator and they made it into a ridiculous wrestling picture.



Let me get this straight. GLADIATOR has some of the same characters as in THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE . . . and it's suddenly a rip-off?