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Weekly Mishmash: November 2-8

All the President’s Men (1976). Great movie that I’d never seen before. This was a remarkable view of the Watergate scandal from the media coverage side — which doesn’t tell the definitive story, but it is an illuminating angle nonetheless. Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford truly drive the film as Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. Aspiring journalists should check this out right away, and people who dig the look of 1970s office furniture (possibly only myself) will have a field day.
House by the River (1950). Dull Fritz Lang film about an aspiring writer from the early 1900s, played by Louis Hayward, who kills a household servant in a fit of passion. Hayward and his brother (Lee Bowman) spend the rest of the film trying to cover up the crime with middling results. Despite Lang’s directing credit, there was really nothing interesting or unusual about this movie — it plods along like a glorified TV drama, and Hayward is too over-the-top to make any lasting impact.
Point Blank (1967). One wild ride. I can see why this John Boorman-directed crime thriller is a bit of a cult item. The dazzling visuals and editing are ahead of their time, and Lee Marvin delivers a meaty performance as a stone-faced hit man driven to get his share of an unpaid debt. One thing that really popped about this film is the striking use of color, especially scenes where the set is mostly variants on one color. The apartment of Marvin’s ex-wife is nothing but white and silver, Angie Dickinson’s place is awash in yellow, while the office of the evil boss is nearly all olive green. At its core, this is a stylish but incomprehensible b-movie — but I’d have to agree with the IMDb reviewer who headlined his piece “Kind of confusing but exciting.”
Rick and Steve – The Complete First Season. This show, described as a gay South Park, was a pleasant surprise. It combines appealing, lego-like stop motion animation with primary colors and a smutty sense of humor. Episodes vary, but the scripts all have the know-how for mocking the stereotypes of LGBT life without wallowing in them. The second season premiere airs this week on the Logo channel. I wish I had the Logo channel.
Rollercoaster (1977). Somewhat fun, somewhat overlong thriller notable for being one of the few films (besides Earthquake) to use the very of-its-time gimmick of Sensurround. This movie is decidedly more low-key than the other ’70s disaster flicks, at times gaining a nice intensity missing from its campier brethren. Early on, there’s one good set piece with a coaster accident sending bloody dummies flying everywhere — after that it settles into a tired cat-and-mouse game with George Segal pursuing psycho bomber Timothy Bottoms. Scenes with the two tramping through Virginia’s Kings Dominion theme park play like a kinky version of that one Brady Bunch episode. The one where Mike’s architectural drawings got mixed up with Jan’s Yogi Bear poster, remember? I kept hoping one of the Bradys would pop up in the background somewhere.

4 Thoughts on “Weekly Mishmash: November 2-8

  1. Matt, I’m disappointed. You review Rollercoaster and make no mention of Sparks’ interminable performance at the end of the movie? As for Point Blank, which I love, one way to watch it is to assume that Marvin’s character dies in the opening scene.

  2. By a weird coincidence, just the other night I saw a test segment that Joel Hodgson (of Mystery Science Theater fame) did for a TV pilot where he would’ve used CGI to insert Mad Magazine-esque background sight gags into old movies… The clip they used was from Rollercoaster! Here it is:

  3. “Big boys, big boys …” I’m trying to forget I ever heard it, Vince. Thanks a lot.

    Greg, that is priceless. Wish they’d done the whole movie that way!

  4. It is really funny… I can see why the pilot didn’t sell, though. I don’t quite get how it was meant to work on TV. Were they supposed to show the whole movie straight, and then show the Jollyfilter version? Or were they supposed to show the original in two-minute blocks, followed by the Jollyfilter clips?

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