What was the last movie you saw?

Our Man in Casablanca (Il nostro agente a Casablanca, 1966)

Better than average Eurospy flick. The convoluted plot has everybody after a set of papers. It's not clear who's on what side until the very end. The hero is fallible, and even shows some emotion at times. The mandatory beautiful women play important roles, and are not just eye candy. The ending is surprisingly cynical and arbitrary, proving that sheer accident plays an important part in life. Nice location filming. It helps that the copy I found on YouTube is in very good shape. Notable for a bad guy with a battery-powered steel hand he uses to electrocute people.
Whispering Ghosts (1942)

Comedy/mystery of the Old Dark House variety, but the house is a ship. Woman inherits a derelict ship, in which her granduncle was murdered a decade ago. Rumor has it there are diamonds hidden somewhere inside. Milton Berle, long before he was Uncle Miltie/Mister Television, plays a guy who solves old crimes on the radio. Add in a bunch of eccentric characters and red herrings. It's a better than average example of its kind. The setting adds atmosphere, and Berle provides lots of wisecracks without mugging too badly. John Carradine is around as one of the eccentrics/red herrings. Gifted comic actor Willie Best does his usual "frightened Black servant" act throughout, so that may be embarrassing to watch. Otherwise, an OK B movie of the time.
The Las Vegas Serial Killer (1986)

Bottom-of-the-barrel slasher from the director of The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies. Not anywhere near as much fun as that one. The tiny shred of actual plot goes like this. Guy strangles a bunch of women. Two other guys commit crimes, including putting a woman in the trunk of a car while they rob a guy. By sheer chance, the killer gets the woman out of the car then strangles her. At the end, the two guys run into the killer by accident and shoot him while running away from their latest robbery. The gun they throw into a trash container is found by two little boys, leading to the "FINE ???" end credit. ("FINE" as in "THE END," not as in "GOOD.") Most of the film is scenes of people walking around Las Vegas, or at parades, or at rodeos, etc. Features swimsuit models, strippers, and prostitutes but lacks enough energy to even be sleazy. Avoid.
It's a Bikini World (1967)

Just about the last gasp of the beach movie cycle of the 1960's. New girl shows up, isn't interested in the local macho ladies' man. Overhearing that she likes the more serious kind of boy, he dresses like a nerd and claims to be his own brother. A local hipster entrepreneur known only as Daddy (cult actor Sid Haig) gets together with a magazine publisher (whose last name is, appropriately, Pulp) to have a skateboard race. Girl challenges macho man, leading to a whole bunch of races between the two. Motorcycles, speedboats, and, as the film grows more surreal near the end, things like pushing a piece of furniture down the road, swimming more than twenty miles, and riding camels. Naturally, we have a lot of music to break things up. Daddy also runs a club where the stage is inside the mouth of a huge, fanged monster that sprays smoke out of its nostrils. Notable among the acts are the Animals, doing "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" and one-hit wonder the Castaways performing their sole charting number "Liar, Liar."
The File on Thelma Jordon (1950) NOIR ALLEY, back after two, count 'em, 2 months of other themes at TCM.

An Assistant District Attorney Cleve Marshall (Wendell Corey) is working late one night (when my eyes beheld an eerie sight, when my monster, from has slab began to rise-- :ROFLMAO: sorry could not help myself) when Thelma Jordon (Barbara Stanwyck) enters the office, seemingly desperate for help. She talks about burglaries at her elderly aunt's house, & the next thing we know, is that he falls for her. His own marriage, has become intolerable, with his wife's uncle & such intruding on their wedding anniversary as well as other occasions.

Seeing this is noir, bad things will soon happen, but, I will not spoil it. This is my 1st time seeing this film, & it was very satisfying! Twist, twist! I did not see that coming!

Strippers Vs Werewolves - I only managed to get 30 minutes into this before I gave up so this is one of my Public Service Broadcast posts.

If you ever get a chance to see this - don't even bother considering it for a second.

It. Is. Terrible. It's not 'bad'. It's not 'so bad it's funny'. It's not got a "Wow! We know it's dreadful but we're going to have fun making fun of how bad it is and let you in on the joke!" shtick going on. It has none of that or any other of the other possible ways some bad films have of endearing themselves to a receptive audience. It's. Just. sh*t.

In an attempt to disguise just HOW sh*t it is, a lot of the time the 'film' (I suppose I have to call it that) uses split screen. I like split screen. You can do great things with split screen (Phantom of the Paradise and The Thomas Crown Affair being good examples) all it managed to achieve here was let the audience watch badly directed actors deliver banal underwritten, uninteresting dialogue in two locations at the same time. (Sometimes I suspect it was only there to hide the fact that the footage within a scene wouldn't cut together in a comprehensible manner). Short pointless 'scenes' follow one after another linked with stripper silhouette-shaped, and clawed flesh shaped wipes, and what looked like Powerpoint presentations made up from stills run through Photoshop's Graphic Pen filter and coloured in with crayons.

Everything looked cheap, tatty and pointless.

According to the trivia section of its entry on the IMDb it 'took in only thirty-eight pounds at the UK box-office when released' - so the backers probably got their money back.
All the Brothers Were Valiant (1953) In mid 19th century, these guys were whalers (though, not on the Moon), & the elder of them, Mark Shore (Stewart Granger) was the captain of a ship, but had fallen ill and ended-up remaining on a tropical island. Sailors who had been under his command, faulted him for staying. His younger brother, Joel Shore (Robert Taylor) was very defensive about his elder brother's reputation. Then, he was given command of the same ship, sailed to the same island, & found his brother, who eventually would lead a mutiny against him.

Good supporting cast.
Ursus in the Valley of the Lions (Ursus nella valle dei leoni, 1961)

More entertaining than usual sword-and-sandal epic. Bad guy's army attacks the good guy's kingdom, killing the king and queen. Infant son is taken away by loyal folks to be hidden somewhere. They give him a medallion as proof of who he is. Everybody but the baby gets killed by the bad guys. Horse carrying the baby in a basket wanders into a place full of (you guessed it) lions. Horse runs off, naturally, leaving the baby behind. The lions inspect the basket.

Cut to twenty-odd years later, and our hero Ursus is playing with the lions. Yes, this movie turns into Tarzan of the Lions. We're told caravans come by every once in a while, which explains why he can speak and why he wears (very minimal) clothing.

Slave trader and his wagon full of beautiful slave girls come by and fall in one of the traps Ursus built to catch animals for food. He pulls them out with his super-strength. He decides he wants one of the girls for his own because she's pretty and just grabs her. Slave trader eventually gets Ursus to give him the gold medallion in exchange, because Ursus has no knowledge of its meaning or value. The slave girl's cute little fluffy white dog comes along, and becomes the best friend of the most heroic lion.

Eventually, the bad guy gets his hands on the medallion, and one of the slave girls offers to tell him where Ursus lives in exchange for becoming his queen. (Don't trust him, lady.) The bad guy's army captures Ursus and his new girlfriend, and, in the most shocking scene, poisons all the lions (except for the dog's buddy.) Will our hero escape from the villain's clutches? Heck, yeah.

One notable scene features Ursus fighting a bunch of hyenas in a pit. The hyenas actually get lassoed and tossed around, so no animal welfare folks around at the time, I guess. And holy cow, hyenas are freakin' scary!

More animal stuff happens when the bad guys has elephants drag a bunch of defeated rebels toward a raging fire.

It's a lush production, with nifty sets and groovy costumes. Worth a look for fans of the genre.
THE DAY OF THE JACKAL 1973 - I heard that the lack of stars hurt the film's box office but I don't think they could have made the film the same way if they had used familiar people. For one thing, there are scenes with no dialogue and I don't think a big star would go for that--and then they shoot so much guerilla-style--you can see that they are among pedestrians and not actors. They could not do that with Michael Caine etc.

Premiered 50 years ago to the day (of the jackal).
Ursus in the Valley of the Lions (Ursus nella valle dei leoni, 1961)
The relationship between the dog and the lion is certainly cute.
Morals For Women (1931)

Poverty Row/Pre-Code/Early Talkie/Exploitation Melodrama. There, I think that covers everything. Hour-long flick starts with these rather odd words on the screen.

BROADWAY blazes through the cross currents of the breaking dusk. Its night with the shadows of its menace and cruel sword sweeps down unrelentlessly and swiftly on helpless souls. They, who lie before her, with their jewelled crowns, its night plunders and turns to flee when welcome dawn comes in across a sleeping sea.

Uh, OK. Note the nonexistent word "unrelentlessly," which obviously should be "relentlessly" or "unrelentingly."

Anyway, main character lives in a fabulous apartment and even has a French maid named Fifi. She works for an executive, and it's pretty clear she's his mistress. Nice guy from her home town pays a visit after earning his fortune, and wants to marry her. She goes back home. Little brother beats up a guy who makes a wisecrack about "wanting to go to one of her parties." He's so badly hurt that little brother has to pay one thousand bucks or go to jail. Woman goes back to the big city, where she arranges to have party girls (prostitutes?) show up at her place to booze it up with executive buddies of her boss. Both her parents and the nice guy show up unannounced. A crisis occurs when the nice guy sees that the boss knows exactly where to look for a handkerchief in the woman's dresser. The very last scene shows her back home, and the nice guy takes her in his arms, obviously willing to forgive and forget. It's not a great film, but it's an interesting portrait of attitudes of the time.
THE FALLEN SPARROW (1943) If I had known this would be featured on NOIR ALLEY later this month, I would likely have waited until then to watch it.

So, this American John 'Kit' McKittrick (John Garfield) had been fighting in the Spanish Civil War, captured and tortured, escaped (apparently), and returned to America. That is when the film starts.

Watched it just last week, & how much I have already forgotten. So he tells of his experiences to his friends, which included a part about one of his tormentors, whom he knew only by the guy's dragging one foot clomp, drag, clomp, drag, etc. Only a few days after returning, he hears this sound again, and in vain, tries to find its source. Later, at a social gathering, he meets Dr. Christian Skaas (Walter Slezak), a wheelchair bound guy who is giving a talk about modern Vs. ancient torture. Too bad he was not watching this movie, as we were, because he might have guessed that anybody portrayed by Slezak is almost certainly the villain.

What more to say? Very tense drama! Highly recommended! Catch it on TCM 12Am Sunday, either this week or next!

Supporting cast includes John Banner, though I failed to recognize him. "I know nothing! I see nothing!"
THE DAY OF THE JACKAL 1973 - I heard that the lack of stars hurt the film's box office but I don't think they could have made the film the same way if they had used familiar people. For one thing, there are scenes with no dialogue and I don't think a big star would go for that--and then they shoot so much guerilla-style--you can see that they are among pedestrians and not actors. They could not do that with Michael Caine etc.

Premiered 50 years ago to the day (of the jackal).

Brilliant movie. What was even better was the first time I watched it I had no idea if he was going to succeed or not.
Medieval (2022). In a Europe with two popes, a mercenary is tasked with kidnapping the fiancee of Bohemia’s most powerful nobleman, forcing him to help the Emperor be crowned by the real pope, in Rome. Based on the true story of Czech military commander Jan Zizka.

I remember Shadiversity calling out how gloomy this movie is, and he was right. The movie takes the term “Dark Ages” a little too seriously. “Violence” is literally the first spoken word. Although not the most accurate depiction, it’s still a feast for the eyes for lovers of medieval battles. Reminded me of Ironclad (2011).

There is not much plot. They just keep going back and forth with the kidnapped woman. It’s just an excuse for medieval fights. Go for it, if that’s your thing.

Favorite Quote: “I need a Blacksmith and big nails.” and “Kings may be chosen by God, but they still make the mistakes of men.”
Out of Sight

A truly awful beach party/spy comedy/musical (is there any that are good though?) and yet interesting as a time capsule and also how it foreshadows certain artistic trends to come. I am going to ramble a bit because I need to use this as therapy to get over the trauma.

One part is a beach party movie—and it is interesting how specific they were in casting for such things back then. I have seen people comment on Youtube when they show a variety show from the 60s--with models or dancers--how surprised a modern viewer can be to discover how uniformly attractive the dancers were in those days. All the women and men have to fit a certain type. The women are usually much smaller in stature than the men--very limited height range. It makes you wonder--did they just not have any taller women back then or did they simply had such strict guidelines for requirements that you had to be a certain height, you had to have a certain nose etc. It's interesting because many of them look like they stepped out of a John Romita soap opera comic.

So that at least was something of interest.

It was also a musical and that was at times fascinating for the historical capsule. Either they were groups that I had never heard of or never had seen pictures of or songs that I never heard of (since I am more of a Bach and Beethoven man).

Freddy and the Dreamers—what a geeky lead singer but good voice.

The Turtles?

The Knickerbockers? They sang It's Not Unusual—weird to hear a version other than the Tom Jones one but this sounded virtually the same.

Jerry Lewis's son Gary was one of the singers too--they got him out of the way in the first five minutes.

The Astronauts. I never heard of them before.

The comedy was horrendous—just horrible.

Most of the cast are second tier people like the neighbor on Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie—Robert Pine from CHiPs was in it. I was thinking that this made Munster, Go Home! seem good and who pops in for a moment just like he did in that movie? Richard Dawson.
He doesn't help.
Jamie Farr is listed in the IMDB credits but lord knows where he was.

The story (if we can be so generous) has a butler for a James Bond-type spy impersonating him, and he refers to some fantasy enemy as Dr. Evil. Later, a midget shows up as a bad guy and made me wonder if Mike Myers was a fan of this.

The comedy is so horrible--and yet, just as a butterfly might flutter past the wreckage of a grotesque and tragic car crash, there is one individual in the film who somehow manages to maintain some dignity. Not much--but she at least seems to be on page for how to perform in a comedy. Carolyn Barry--I do not know who she is--she wore Austin Powers-style glasses for the whole film (probably glad to be incognito) but another interesting feature of those days--when they wanted someone to play a nerd woman--they picked someone attractive, confident, and with charm. Her character was named Marvin and she couldn't get a date among the beach boys crowd--she eventually chooses the butler--but he gets blown up into the air and ends up in the passenger seat of a two rider motorcycle. The driver is a woman but she then speaks to him in the male voice of his boss.
It ends on a gender bender joke which seems so today.
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, given my inexplicable hunger for lame beach movies and unfunny spy comedies, I've seen that one. My review from six years ago:

Out of Sight (1966)

Some time ago I subjected myself to The Fat Spy (also 1966), which was a beach movie pretending to be a spy spoof. This one is a spy spoof pretending to be a beach movie.

Our hero is the inept American butler of British "special agent" John Stamp. (This is apparently supposed to be a joke on James Bond.) He gets mistaken for the spy and winds up involved in a plot by Russian-accented bad guy Big D and his ineffectual henchmen Mousie (the little one) and Huh! (the big one, and, yes, his name has an exclamation point) to blow up a rock 'n' roll concert. In between lots of mid-Sixties pop music (Gary Lewis and the Playboys, the Turtles, Freddy and the Dreamers, etc.), teenagers dancing, and Saturday morning cartoon chase scenes, we get an attempt by three gorgeous female assassins with odd names to kill the hero. There's Scuba, a skin diver who assaults him with a speargun; Wipeout, a surfer who attacks him with karate (and who is played by one of "Mudd's Women" from Star Trek; the dark-haired one, to be specific); and Tuff Bod, who is so powerful that she has to be literally kept behind glass which is only broken open during an emergency. (Disappointingly, her only secret weapon is being a sexy redhead.) Along for the ride are Marvin, a boy-crazy young woman (and who is just as attractive as any other beach bunny in this thing, but who wears glasses and reads a lot), and a couple of antagonists unrelated to the main plot and who are only credited as "The Man From F.L.U.S.H." (a midget) and "The Girl From F.L.U.S.H." (not a midget) who ride around on a motorcycle which is just as goofy as the hero's dune buggy. An enjoyably terrible movie.
The Candidate (1964)

Ted Knight, of all people, is The Candidate in this odd little political melodrama/soap opera/exploitation film. Three, and possibly four, characters are more important and have more screen time than he does.

The opening titles are done in clever fashion by appearing on billboards, bumper stickers, and the like. The rest of the film in done as a series of flashbacks during a closed door hearing, in which a small group of senators question whether our film's antihero, a political operative, is fit to hold his position. (His title is "Congressional Coordinator." I suspect that's a fictional job, but then, the movie claims to be based on a novel of the same name, which apparently doesn't really exist.)

Anyway, he's also the campaign manager for Knight, who is running for Senator. The antihero meets our American bombshell, Mamie Van Doren, who works at a hotel. Next thing you know, she's working for him, and the two of them are smooching hot and heavy.

By sheer accident, Van Doren runs into our British bombshell, June Wilkinson, when she runs out of a hotel room before the house detective catches her with her married lover. Pretty soon, Knight is smitten with Wilkinson, and plans to marry her.

Meanwhile, the antihero has a fling with another woman, who gets pregnant. She goes to a surprisingly sympathetically portrayed physician to get an abortion. Despite how nice he seems, it seems the woman came out of anesthesia to find herself in "an intimate embrace" with the doctor, resulting in a psychological trauma that left her paralyzed from the waist down and, from what we see, in a zombie-like state.

Along the way there's a wild party at the antihero's place (to which the staid candidate is pointedly not invited) during which the men wear monster masks. There's one woman during this scene who wanders around saying "Seymour?" several times.

I might also point out that the female lawyer representing the two bombshells at the hearing is played way over the top, wearing a hat that would put Hedda Hopper to shame, smoking through a cigarette holder, drawling in a heavy Southern accent, and sniping at the Senators throughout.

Eventually, it comes out that Wilkinson starred in a stag film. (We get to see the non-explicit part of the film, which is played like a silent comedy.) This is enough to make the candidate die of a heart attack on the spot and destroy the antihero's career.

The film takes itself completely seriously, despite the smarmy plot and the presence of the two bombshells. Not a great movie, but offbeat enough to be worth a look.
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, given my inexplicable hunger for lame beach movies and unfunny spy comedies, I've seen that one. My review from six years ago:
I heard of it recently because someone said it had the "super strong woman" trope which it does.

The concert scene was also notable because it looked like they filmed part of it at an actual public event--I observed one of the background people at the fair looking blankly as one of the spy villains staggered by. They did not react like actual background actors.
And during the actual concert you can see someone blocking her ears in pain as other audience members are screaming behind her.
The Courier (2020)

During the Cold War, Benedict Cumberbatch plays an English businessman and salesman, Grenville Wynne, recruited by MI6 and the CIA to carry secret documents out of Russian just prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The film claims that he, and the Russian source, Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze), were responsible for averting the mutually assured nuclear destruction of the entire world. But at quite a cost to himself after he is captured. I'm liking all these semi-historical movies and TV series based on real world 1960's, '70's and '80's events because it is history that I feel I ought to know, actually being alive, but I was so young or disinterested at the time, I don't, or I don't know the details. Having said that, they dramatise these things so much that you can't be sure it is all true. This is available on Netflix now.

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