The most fun thing about writing the Fitzpatrick siblings is the way they can go from intelligent adults to dueling eight year olds in a minute.
I had grown up with Vincent Price being carefully crafted self parody feeling kind of like a loving but very creepy favorite uncle. I had gotten a taste of just how good and scary he could be when I first saw The Abominable Dr Phibes so I wanted to see other examples of what made him the godfather of horror.
The first film I watched wasn’t a horror film , though it did feature an over the top megalomaniac, was Master of the World with Price playing Jules Verne’s other mad genius, Robur the Conqueror, who tries to blast the world into abandoning war from his airship, the Albatross,
While this was fun, and Price puts on an appropriately driven performance, Master of the World felt like a low rent response to Disney’s 1954 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and it never really managed to trigger my suspension of disbelief. Not just because the Albatross aways looked like the model in front of a blue screen that it was, but also because I kept wondering if there was any infrastructure behind the Albatross and where would Robur go once they ran out of ammunition.
Along with Price’s performance what interested me the most was the conflict between Bronson’s pragmatic American agent who would do what it took to wait for the right moment in order to stop Robur’s plans and the much more traditional hero, played by David Frankham who wants to do what is right as soon as possible and mistakes Bronson’s pragmatism for cowardice.
The comic relief from Vito Scotti playing the ship’s cook was entertaining too.
The second film was one of the horror classics of the 1950s House of Wax. Price is at his best as an eccentric sculptor and proprietor of a wax museum who is driven mad and terribly scarred when he is caught in a fire caused by his business partner to destroy the wax museum for the insurance money. He becomes a serial killer who uses his victims as models for his new wax museum encasing them in molten wax. (Bronson played his mute assistant, Igor)
I had known about this movie’s plot since high school and so I ws very much watching it in a “Rosebud was his sled” state of mind. So as I watched this I couldn’t help wondering if the director intended for this to be a mystery at all if the reveal of the wax statues being murder victims was meant to be a surprise. Price’s burn makeup didn’t really disguise him so I was not fooled when he reappears running the titular House of Wax seemingly unscathed by the fire (revealed to be a wax disguise in the end) I don’t know how much of a difference this would have made in the long run but it was a detail that I couldn’t help thinking about over and over.
All in all this was some fun over the top campy entertainment. In the end what I liked about it the most was it avoided the usual cliche of the police being useless (perhaps that became a cliche later) Anyway while they were certainly skeptical when our heroes arrive with their concerns but ultimately they put the pieces together on their own and ultimately, despite our dashing young heroes best efforts, are the ones who save the day.
I follow a lot of skepticism blogs. And when your read a lot of them one of the first words you learn is Paridolia. That is to say what you have when you see shapes in the clouds, faces on Mars or Jesus on toast. If you’re into symbology you can notice all kinds of things not all of them necessarily religious.
This brings me to my point. About a week ago I slammed my shin really badly on… something because I was experimenting with putting a light on my backpack strap while taking my favorite short cut (in daytime) Ravenna Park. It technically worked but it also shone the light right into my eyes so while I could see what was in front of me at a range of twenty feet I couldn’t see anything right in front of me. So I didn’t see how close to the side of the path was until it was too late and I slammed my shin against… Something.
This and a few other things are the reason I’m shopping for a good bike light right now.
My shin was a mess but nowhere as bad as it felt. Anyway I was coming out of the shower today and I happened to look at the scab and I couldn’t help noticing that upside down it looked kind of sort of like Kokopelli!
Unfortunately I don’t think there’s much call for ancient southwestern trickster fertility deities showing up in anything in the general tinfoil hat market… Still it makes for an interesting conversation piece.
For this week I did the second of my “forgotten Oscars” selection though in this case neither of these films are anything that I would call “forgotten” since 1976 was probably the best year for film for a long time before and after and I’m just a little embarrassed that I’ve never seen either of these before.
The first of the two “All The President’s Men” tells the true story of Watergate (give or take a few embellishments) and the newsmen who let us know it. This in mind is very close to being a perfect film, my only real nitpick being where they chose to actually end the film, thought the one they chose, Nixon’s second inauguration playing on the television while Woodward and Bernstein work on their next story, works as well as any other.
I’ve always enjoyed procedural dramas be they police or legal… All the President’s Men, I believe is the first time I’ve ever seen a Journalistic procedural with our two protagonists, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, played brilliantly by Robert Redfordand Dustin Hoffman have to comb through a ton of extraneous data and a seemingly endless number of interviews.
This is a smart movie and it assumes you the viewers are intelligent too and expect you to notice the tiny bits of data or hear the slip of the tongue of an obstructive interviewee, and rewards you for paying attention.
FInally, I find it very interesting how our public perceptions of a film is different from the film itself in this case I’d always imagined Deep Throat as being something like the Smoking Man from theThe X-Files, a mysterious operator who exists only in shadows, completely in control of the situation who decided to contact our protagonists out of a capricious whim. Here in the film it is completely obvious that Woodward knows who he is having contacted him first and while he still is in shadows we see enough of his face to know exactly how much he knows his ass is on the line.
Network is a brutal satire of the state of the media in the seventies but does it in a way that makes it brutally timeless. It tells the tale of Howard Beale a fading news anchor who, after being given his two week notice, breaks down on national telivision. The station’s corporate owners who have been looking for shows to boost their rating (the other show that is shown being worked on is a reality show featuring a group of Marxist Terrorists robbing banks) as well as trying to bring the news department under their control see this as ratings gold and give him his own show to rant on. They quickly loose control over Beal’s content and as his rating’s sag they finally arange his assasination (just as if it were just another meeting item in the board room.)
This is all paccaged in a brilliant script by Paddy Chayefsky and every word of dialogue is amazing! It’s really hard to tell what is best. Certainly the “I’m as mad as Hell” speech is the one that everyone knows but almost as good if not better is Ned Beatty playing head of the corporation who takes Beal into his office to straighetn him out. Framed by a line of lights of a large conference table he gives his “You have meddled with the primal forces of nature” speech, a corporate sermon right up there with “greed is good”
Network takes no prisoners in it’s picture of corporate greed and corruption other than the completely insane Beale nobody is safe from this (even the Marxists argue about percentages and subclauses in their contracts) What makes it all the more difficult to watch today because while Network tell the story of the decline of the media, It is all very clear tnat we are at what Network dreaded now and what’s worse, take it for granted. As I watched Howard Beale ranting on his program I kept finding myself thinking of Glenn Beck at his most theatrical. The main difference is a guy like Beck can only dream of being Howard Beale.
Well yesterday was a whole lot of fun with the Seahawks making it to the Superbowl again!
As I’ve said many a time that I’m a terrible fan whose idea of “following” my team for most of the season has consisted of refreshing the Google feed during the game and I’m completely guilty of mostly giving up on them after their three game loosing streak. On the plus side it allowed me not to stress out about the Seahawks’ chances, I just found out about the win after all of the drama of the astounding fourth quarter and overtime were done. So I’m really psyched about this.
What’s better is an hour later I found that my other team, the Patriots, made it too! Leading to the Game I wanted last year but didn’t get.
For the most part my following the Patriots is almost as pathetic as following the Seahawks now back when I lived in New England being a Pats fan was kind of like being like being a Cubs fan and you were lucky if they won six games in the season… Back then I would start rooting for my fall back team, the Redskins, pretty darn quick. (but let’s not talk about them. It’s really easy not to be sentimental about the Redskins these days. ) And frankly the Patriots being a legacy juggernaut for the last ten years still kind of confuses me.
But either way it’s great having my two favorites going he’d to head. The countdown will be so much fun.
(On a side note I find it kind of interesting that this game consists of two teams who squeezed their way into their first Super Bowl only to be punked in more ways than one by the dominant team that year.)