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Weekly Mishmash: November 22-28

Due to Thanksgiving and having our household plumbing completely redone this week, a shorter than usual Mishmash:
Book Of Love — Candy Carol. A quasi-psychedelic synthpop suite, Book Of Love’s 1991 album Candy Carol netted the Alternative Radio hit “Alice Everyday” but was otherwise snowed over in a marketplace that increasingly preferred the morose likes of Pearl Jam to anything with a nursery rhyme melody. This group knows how to rock the chimes, Casio keyboards and clever Tommy James samples. One glance at the song titles — “Sunny Day,” “Flower Parade,” “Butterfly” — ought to tell you their m.o. here. Quite a cute and uplifting little album, well worth the buck I spent on it.
poster_bostonblackieBoston Blackie Goes Hollywood (1941). The fact that Turner Classic Movies recently did a day full of Boston Blackie, Columbia’s low budget detective series from the ’40s, made me pretty excited. I’d never seen one before, so I gave Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood a try on the TiFaux. The spouse and I love old movies set in Hollywood, even fake backlot versions of Hollywood, but viewer beware. Despite the title, Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood rarely leaves Columbia’s backlot version of New York. As a film, it’s cheesy, dull and stupid, with a sense of humor hovering around the level of a Bowery Boys flick. Disappointing to the extreme, despite my admiration for Chester Morris in the title role. The short and stocky Morris might be one of the oddest looking men ever to attain movie star status (his face looks handsome straight ahead, but bizarrely squished in profile), but he was a commanding lead here as an ex-jewel thief who must compete against an incompetent group of police detectives to help out an old friend. In an odd coincidence, the night after viewing this film supporting actor Lloyd Corrigan turned up again in a Lucy Show episode we saw — from 20 years later!
Mala Noche (1985). Gus Van Sant’s first feature deals with unrequited love between a gay convenience store clerk and a Mexican vagrant on the grubby streets of Portland. Although a few complications develop, it’s a simple, basic story (too simple, actually) efficiently told within a mico-sized budget. Aspects of this film seem like a glorified student project, however, and the lead actors aren’t very good despite their apparent naturalness on camera. I enjoyed the high contrast black and white camerawork, and the film’s take-it-like-it-is approach to the characters’ queerness must have been a breath of fresh air in 1985.
Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964). Slow paced sci-fi film that has gained some admiration over the years due to its introspectiveness, markedly different from the kiddie-oriented fare of its time. Mostly we were bored, but the film’s multiple lapses in logic (a helmetless astronaut can breathe on Mars?) piqued my interest. Also notable is the scene where hunky lead actor Paul Mantee skinny dips in a Martian pool. Now that I think of it, Mantee’s tight black zippered outfit looked like what an average gay clubgoer would have worn circa 1999. In that respect, the film was way ahead of its time.

2 Thoughts on “Weekly Mishmash: November 22-28

  1. I guess I’ll be the first to dissent — I enjoyed the heck out of Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood even if the title is a flagrant misnomer (but that’s the way the studio worked back then–first the title, then the screenplay). I’m kicking around the idea of doing up the series on my blog because a) it’s one of my favorite film series, and b) I’ve been on a Chester Morris tear lately thanks to Hollywood, Meet Boston Blackie (1941) and I Promise to Pay (1937).

  2. No problem, Ivan! You should know I like dissenting opinions. Maybe I picked a bad one; usually I like those detective b-movie series like the Falcon and the Whistler. Do all the Boston Blackies have a lowbrow sense of humor?

    I feel cheated about that title, however! The filmmakers could have made it “Hollywood” with a few cheap adjustments. The friend could have been an actor calling Blackie from a movie set, for example.

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