"Well, most people like it and I like it, and I'm working hard and trying to keep the cost down"

J. Russell Finch CEO & President
The Pacific Edible Seaweed Company
Fresno, CA.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

HAVING A WILD WEEKEND 1965

     





      Although today they barely register in the minds of all but the most serious 60's music aficionados at one time The Dave Clark Five were considered pretty stiff competition for The Beatles. Blessed with a great lead singer in Mike Smith, they were the first British Invasion band to play Ed Sullivan after The Beatles (they would later appear 12 times on Sullivan) and were one of the only British Invasion bands to be more popular in America then their native country with 17 top forty hits on the American charts along with selling almost 50,000,000 records.
     Clark (the groups drummer) was smart enough to insist on ownership of the groups master recordings, but his dictatorial control of those tapes has led to the group's music being MIA in a physical format for decades. Their sound was a combination of American Rock and Roll and R&B filtered through Clark's primitive "wall of sound" production style and by 1967 they're never evolving music was considered antiquated in the burgeoning psychedelic scene and they faded away (although a bit bizarrely they did have a late 60's renaissance in England).




     In 1965 they duly made their motion picture debut in HAVING A WILD WEEKEND. Originally titled CATCH US IF YOU CAN in England, it was the feature film debut for director John Boorman and is unique in the fact that the group doesn't preform any songs through the course of the film. Obviously patterned after The Beatles A HARD DAY"S NIGHT The Dave Clark Five don't appear as musicians but as a team of stuntmen known as "Action Incorporated", Although a few of their songs appear on the soundtrack (along with an cash-in album being released) it's not a "pop music" film at all. While A HARD DAY'S NIGHT was all loud and frantic HAVING A WILD WEEKEND's script by Peter Nichols (GEORGY GIRL) is more quiet and introspective with a surprisingly tender romance lurking in its plot. All of which led it to being a relative flop at the box office.
     The film's beginning has the group shown living together in a London flat with and as they roust  themselves up in the morning they run through some Beatles-like humor and quips. Arriving at work they're assigned to work on a series on commercials as stunt coordinators for a British meat company whose billboards with the slogan "Meat For Go !" plaster the London cityscape. Dinah, the model for the ad campaign (known as "The Butcher Girl") is played with all sorts of beguiling 60's cuteness by Barbara Ferris (CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED).




     Steve, the head stuntman (played by Dave Clark) seeing the meaningless and vapid
commercialism of his life and work steals a Jaguar sports car from the commercial shoot and along with Dinah they both run off to the English countryside with the ad company and the remainder of the group in pursuit. Finding a group of young squatters in a burned out building on the military proving grounds of the Salisbury Plain (where The Beatles would film portions of HELP ! about the same time). Steve & Dinah take refuge with the pot smoking outcasts who confess to the duo that they're looking forward too moving into heroin (which seems a pretty surprising mention in teen oriented movie from 1965).  After an attack by soldiers they flee where they next encounter an unhappily married couple in large country (played wonderfully by Yootha Joyce and Robin Bailey) who keep a large collection of antique bric-a brac in a desperate attempt to hold on to their earlier happy times. Steve and Dinah speak wishfully of making it to an isolated island off the coast of Dorset, but they along with the viewers seem to be resigned to the fact that they'll never escape.
     With it's total lack of youthful exuberance or the celebration of the liberation that the by now exploding pop music world might bring HAVING A WILD WEEKEND instead seems to look forward to burned out hope of the late 60's and one can only wonder what the gaggles of teenagers who this product was aimed at thought of it at the time. Not a great movie, but an interesting take on that fleeting moment that was the "swinging sixties".




All above screen captures are from the Warner Archives MOD DVD 






Thursday, January 28, 2016

99 RIVER STREET Coming to Blu


"Rips into you like a double crossing dame !"


    Although they haven't set a definitive street date yet. Kino have announced that 99 RIVER STREET is coming out later this year on blu-ray. Directed by the great Phil Karlson, this gritty little 1953 B&W crime drama features a perpetually pissed off John Payne as a down and out boxer who as straddled with bitchy & two timing wife Peggie Castle finds himself framed for murder. While attempting to clear himself he beats up up scads of low life criminals and along the way enlists the help of the wonderful Evelyn Keyes (in what is probably her finest performance) and character actor Frank Faylen. With atmospheric cinematography by Franz Planer (with some really excellent boxing sequences) it also features Brad Dexter along lots of squalid hotel rooms, dingy bars and of course Karlson's trademark lean, mean & tight direction. 
   Currently available through MGM on their MOD program this will be a must buy (for me at least) and anytime we can get more Phil Karlson on blu-ray it's a good thing.



Saturday, August 22, 2015

Happy Birthday Honor Blackman

         


    Born of this day 90 years ago and still going strong is Bond girl extraordinaire Honor Blackman.  Although it probably seems more accurate to call her a "Bond woman" as she was 38 years old at the time of GOLDFINGER and most likely was one of  the only Bond female counterparts that was older then the actor portraying 007.
    Before GOLDFINGER she was known to British audiences as Cathy Gale in THE AVENGERS and I think she's wonderful in Roy Ward Baker's Titanic drama A NIGHT TO REMEMBER from 1958. She also made for a beautiful goddess Hera in Ray Harryhausen's CLASH OF THE TITANS. A drive-in re-release of GOLDFINGER at some point in the 60's is one of my earliest childhood movie memories and Honor will always be my favorite Bond girl of any age.



Thursday, August 20, 2015

EMPEROR OF THE NORTH 1973

    



    Coming Sept. 8 on blu-ray from Twilight Time is Robert Aldrich's 1973 depression era action/drama EMPEROR ON THE NORTH. Upon the surface this would seem to have box office bonanza written all it - the director of such classics as THE DIRTY DOZEN reuniting with two of that films stars in the presence of Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin. Based upon a couple of short stories by Jack London, it was marketed as an "action" film in the vein of THE DIRTY DOZEN and as a result struggled at the box office and for years was MIA on home video until a DVD release in 2006.
    The sparse plot concerns a hobo named A-No.1 (Marvin) who takes up the challenge to hitch a ride upon a freight train guarded by a sadistic guard named Shack (Borgnine) who takes great pleasure in killing any unwelcome riders with Carradine being a cocky (and none too bright) youngster attempting to make a name for himself. The film was originally title EMPEROR OF THE NORTH POLE which was a slang term for the best hobo in the world, which in hobo parlance equates being king to the same as ruling over a frozen wasteland.  It was  quickly retitled with the shorter EMPEROR OF THE NORTH.
    Filmed in the Pacific Northwest and set in almost entirely in dirty train yards and strangely empty trains that travel back and forth between two points with everything seemingly just set up as props to let Marvin and Borgnine face off like gladiators. Excellent work by the two leads (with Borgnine in probably the most sadistic role of his career) and a strangely off key movie that is well worth seeking out.






Friday, August 14, 2015

Warren Oates Day On TCM

    

    Coming up on Aug. 24 is as part of their Summer Under the Stars Series its a full day of the great Warren Oates on Turner Classic Movies. The days programming contains the usual suspects such as the classics THE WILD BUNCH and RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY, however there's some hard to see gems buried in there - including the still not on DVD western THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN from 1970 and the 1973 comedy THIEF WHO CAME TO DINNER.
    Also of interest is the excellent 1968 caper film THE SPLIT and in what is one of Warren's finest performances in Sam Peckinpah's grungy & sweaty neo noir road trip from hell BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA (where you get to see Peckinpah directing Oates who is playing Peckinpah). Sounds like a good day to find an excuse to stay home.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

FAT CITY Coming on Blu

  

    Twilight Time has announced a Sept. 8 for this excellent John Huston directed 1972 drama. Starring Stacy Keach as a washed up prizefighter attempting a comeback it also stars Jeff Bridges as a young boxer, Candy Clark and best of all a heartbreakingly beautiful performance by Susan Tyrrell as Keach's barfly girlfriend.
   The critical success of this film led to a late career renaissance for Huston, who was coming off a string of not well received projects and the acclaim for FAT CITY would allow him to direct his long time dream project of THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING in 1975. Previously available on DVDr from Amazon it will be nice to have this vital piece of 1970's American cinema on blu-ray.



Thursday, July 30, 2015

THE OUTSIDE MAN 1972

     


    Directed by Jacques Deray this strangely seductive French production (original French title is UN HOMME EST MORT) was shot in Los Angeles and with the exception of the lead it features a cast of familiar American faces. Combing a 70's American crime film vibe with the low key coolness (by way of Jean Pierre Melville) Gallic style production its one of those films that in spite of its stellar cast has fallen off the radar through the years. With its off kilter plot maybe adding to its cult status, its seems like a movie that would be ripe for re-discovery as a cult film .
    French hit man Lucien Bellon (Jean-Louise Trintignant) arrives in Los Angeles to kill an American gangster (film noir staple Ted de Corsia in his last role). Dully carrying out his assignment as the gangsters wife (Angie Dickinson) and son stand mutely by and watch, he returns to his hotel and finds his passport and luggage missing with another hit man (Roy Scheider) gunning for him. The pair then play a cat mouse game through the sun baked seediness of early 70's Los Angeles.
    Along the way Trintignant hooks up with a hardened topless bar manager (played with a tough as nails brassiness by Ann Margaret) as he attempts to navigate through a totally alien world where he doesn't even speak the language. Director Deray uses the city as almost a main character with its endless freeways, concrete lined streets and intrusive modern technology including TV's that drone away in the back ground at every possible moment. The film is reminiscent somewhat of John Boorman's excellent L.A. based neo noir POINT BLANK with its detached protagonist wondering through a cold mechanized world.


    Thom Anderson is his excellent documentary L.A. PLAYS ITSELF calls THE OUTSIDE MAN "the most precise portrait of the city there is". Among the films highlights are a shoot out at a dreary looking Venice Beach, a confrontation at a funeral home with Ted De Corsia's embalmed corpse front and center and Georgia Engel (THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW) who along with her son (Jackie Earle Haley in his first role) are taken hostage by Bellon. Upon its surface the film has a lackadaisical meandering rhythm to its plot as even a car chase is filmed as though its an afterthought with it's characters wondering through the proceedings with little or no dialogue - all of which add to sense of isolation and detachment.
    The entire cast is excellent (this probably Ann Margaret's best role) and Scheider with about five lines of dialogue seems to having a great time with his role. Coming off the previous year's THE FRENCH CONNECTION he gets the central image in the promotional artwork. THE OUTSIDE MAN in available on DVD from MGM through their on demand service, but this really deserves a nice blu-ray release.