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Category Archives: Celluloid

Dreams A Go Go

The Dreamgirls trailer popped up during last night’s South Park. Excellent. Can’t wait for December! Beyoncé sure looks eerily like a young Diana Ross in those previews.

Funny — the producers of the original Broadway Dreamgirls were famously cagey about comparing their story with the Supremes’ saga, but it appears that the filmmakers are being less covert. If you look closely in one brief flash of a scene, a blown-up album cover for the film’s fictional trio The Dreams can be seen in the background. The album derives its design from two vintage Supremes albums: More Hits By The Supremes (1965) for the layout and Supremes A Go Go (1966) for the photography. I wonder if the film will have more of these little in-jokes for Supremes fans?

Robot Chicken

Oh Turner Classic Movies, what would we do without you? They’ve been playing some groovy old Japanese horror/sci-fi films lately that deserve a little write-up here. First up was Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (1968), broadcast on October 1st. This film follows a small passenger aircraft as, mysteriously, the sky turns bright red and birds start crashing into the windows. A glowing UFO appears, causing the plane to crash in an empty canyon. As the terrified band of passengers attempt to survive with no food and water, an alien host invades one man who then tries to kill the others in various entertaining ways. This was a memorably unsettling film made even more resonant with its references to the Vietnam war. Although the alien looks like nothing more than a harmless blob of pearlescent shampoo, I found the scenes of it entering/exiting the human hosts through a slit in their foreheads truly creepy.

Our second film came in the form of last Sunday’s The X from Outer Space (1967), another one of those “giant creature on the loose” flicks. The creature in question, a big rubbery reptile/chicken saddled with the un-scary name Guilala, doesn’t appear until the second half. Until then, we have to endure a standard romantic love triangle in space involving a handsome astronaut, a pretty Asian traffic controller, and a pretty blonde scientist. I’d have to agree with one of the IMDb commenters, however, in interpretating that the two women seemed more interested in each other than in the man — which made this movie more interesting than the filmmakers likely imagined. Another thing I dug was the space station’s future-chic costumes and production design, which predated the similar looking TV series UFO and Space: 1999 by a few years. I also enjoyed the groovy rockish music score, although the repeating theme accompanying the monster’s inevitable rampage through cardboard buildings got old after awhile. In sum: two squawks up.

Belle of the Beach

The L.A. Times has a good story on Marion Davies, specifically the gloriously tacky Santa Monica beach compound that William Randolph Hearst built for her in the ’20s (thanks Christopher!). Although the main buildings in the compound are no longer standing, area residents want to refurbish and reopen the place as a community center. The article also has a good bio on the actress — do people still think she was a talentless bimbo? Guess so.

I Want and Gimme

If anybody has an extra $650 to blow on something, I would personally love to be gifted Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films from Janus and Criterion. My birthday is coming up next month, so you still have a few weeks to go. The title of this post, by the way, came from the nicknames that my grandmother used to give to my mom and aunt when they were wee tykes. Some things never change.

Ladies Choice

GreenCine Daily notes that the feature on Chick Flicks is beautifully designed, and I’d have to agree. The writing’s good, too — essays on female-oriented films from the past 25 years, from Private Benjamin to Mean Girls.

Jack Carson: Boob for All Seasons

Coincidentally, the webmaster of this nice Jack Carson tribute site sent me a link the day after I watched one of his movies broadcast on TCM. Carson was one of the most underrated performers of the ’40s and ’50s. He excelled in portraying doofy yet appealing know-it-alls, jocular guys who settled into careers of seedy salesmanship (like the used car dealer he played in a Twilight Zone episode). He brought a lot of heart and humanity to his work and was even sexy in an offbeat way. For prime Carson, check him out in Mildred Pierce or the tasty 1943 Ida Lupino vehicle The Hard Way.

By the way, the movie I watched was One More Tomorrow, a glossy yet turgid Warner Bros. melodrama from 1946. Carson stars alongside Dennis Morgan, Ann Sheridan, Alexis Smith and Jane Wyman. Not one of his better flicks — but it does have a few witty lines, the ladies are decked out in some gorgeous gowns, and ‘ol Jack is his usual funny self.