Friday, November 29, 2013

My John Wayne Top 10

This was a tough one. By no means am I suggesting that these are Duke's BEST films, just my personal favorites, and in some cases for hard to explain reasons. I had twice this many chosen and had to eliminate some other favorites but right now these, in this order, are my favorite John Wayne movies.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes

I saw THE COMPUTER WORE TENNIS SHOES at Covington's Madison Theatre. Twice. It's a silly movie, sure. It's a glorified sitcom in fact. It's a beach party flick without a beach and without songs. But it's also much fun. This first of 3 movies featuring Kurt Russell as college loser Dexter Reilly (later Riley) has him picking up a super smart brain via an accident with one of those room sized computers of the day that probably, in retrospect, wasn't as smart as your smartphone.

The Disney live action comedies are often overlooked but many were quite enjoyable for all ages and this was certainly one. For the kids you have Kurt with Michael McGreevey (now one of my FB friends) as his "Jughead." There's also LASSIE's Jon Provost and a rare live action turn from voice actor supreme Frank Welker (SCOOBY DOO)

For adults, a great cast of familiar faced character actors was rounded up including Joe Flynn, Cesar Romero, Dick Bakalyan, Alan Hewitt, Bill Schallert and more.

It was followed by NOW YOU SEE HIM, NOW YOU DON'T and THE STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD, both mostly with the same cast although each made 2-3 years after the other. It was remade 20+ years later with Kirk Cameron but let's just not go there.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mr. Wong

Before I discovered Mister Moto and before I ever saw a Charlie Chan film, I watched one of my favorite actors, Boris Karloff, in his 5 films as the Chinese detective James Lee Wong, shown on consecutive Friday evenings at 11:30 PM.

Again once you get past the bizarre casting of a tall Englishman with a pronounced lisp as a Chinese man, these aren't bad. All 5 are clever little mysteries in which Karloff, just 7 years after FRANKENSTEIN. shows his gentler, meek, brainy side.

Grant Withers is great in support as the police detective and is joined by Marjorie Reynolds as a fun, wisecracking reporter in the final 3 pictures.

As of this writing, a few of the films are available via NetFlix and on YouTube.

With Karloff departing the role at the end of the decade, the studio recast it with Key Luke, then still playing Charlie Chan's # 1 son at another studio. Luke, the first actual Asian-American to play an Oriental hero on film, was said to be contracted for 4 films in the series per year but the series finished up after only one. Many years later, Luke would finally play Charlie Chan himself on THE AMAZING CHAN AND THE CHAN CLAN.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Headless Ghost

This 1959 American International film was a staple of the early morning movie s that ran opposite the kids shows on local Cincinnati TV. It's a light-hearted "horror" film with some genuinely creepy moments...if you're 9 years old anyway. I just watched it again for the first time in probably 40 years. Still entertaining in its own way with that extra level of nostalgia that always helps!

Friday, November 8, 2013

My First "Adult" Film--Bambole

I would have been probably 11 years old, maybe 12. I had heard jokes all my life about--nudge, nudge. Wink, wink--"foreign" films. I had heard whispers of naked ladies in Italian and French pictures! Of course, in conservative Cincinnati they never played THOSE kinds of pictures.

But one Saturday night, after I'd forced myself to stay awake for the ending of a monster movie, this is what came on next.

There was a host for the film, although I forget who it was. He kept announcing that this picture was pretty racy in case we wanted to turn our sensitive eyes...or was he enticing us to look closer? Hmmm...

He also explained that the title stood for "The Dolls" if translated into English. 

BAMBOLE is actually a fairly dull Italian sex comedy anthology, a type of film that they made scores of over there in the sixties and seventies for some reason.

There are no sex scenes (naturally) and no actual nudity but lots of teasing and sexy outfits on really attractive women.  

I knew Elke Sommer from her years of American movie and TV work. I had heard Gina Lollobrigida's name as a LAUGH-IN punchline but had never seen her except in a brief bit in a late Bob Hope picture. The gorgeous Virna Lisi and Monica Vitti were new to me completely but made a more lasting impression than the film itself, setting up my enjoyment of Euro-actresses ever after.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

My Top 10 Bronsons

Today would have been the birthday of Charles Bronson, international tough guy superstar of the early seventies but always a good actor as well. Seemed like a good tome for my Top 10.