Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

The Greg Hatcher Legacy Files #95: ‘Friday Linkblogging (Mostly Fisticuffs)’

[Another weird one, published on 19 September 2008. You can find it here, but unfortunately, as I note below, a lot of the links don’t work anymore. It’s weird because it has disappeared from the new-fangled CBR, and I found it on the Wayback Machine with a bit of luck. I don’t know if I could have found more of the videos using the CBR links, but they ain’t there. The old internet is a strange and scary place, people. Also, in the comments, Greg rants about All Star Batman and Robin, and it’s always a good time for ranting about ASBAR! Enjoy!]

By the time you read this, I’ll be under anesthesia, or possibly already home whimpering like a traumatized puppy.

Which is to say, it’s time for another round of dental surgery.

Perhaps not quite as scary as the above photo, but plenty bad enough. I’m dreading it. This just seems to be going on and on. I think my dentist isn’t going to be satisfied until I have an entirely bionic jaw.

So this week’s column is a very hit-and-run entry. Mostly just some internet stuff I found here and there that I thought was worth sharing. I normally wouldn’t do a column of nothing but links but it’s all I have time for, and I hate to miss a Friday. Here’s what I’ve bowled out on YouTube the last week or two.

We’ll start with a fun one I found out about from Dick Cavett, of all people. A clip from Blood on the Sun, starring James Cagney and Sylvia Sidney. The reason this is of interest to us is because this is, I think, the earliest American-made martial arts action movie. Cagney actually was a black belt in judo and helped choreograph the fight scenes.

It was made in 1945, so it’s a rootin’ tootin’ wartime piece of U.S. propaganda that’s occasionally quite racist, but it’s still a lot of fun. James Cagney is Nick Condon, a tough reporter in pre-war Japan, trying desperately to get the scoop on the Tanaka Document, a blueprint for Japan’s plan for world domination. As luck would have it, Nick’s also a black belt, so there are quite a few scenes of him opening up a can of Oriental whup-ass on Tojo’s minions and other evil secret police types trying to stop him from getting the Tanaka Document into the hands of the Western powers. Check out this clip to see Cagney hand the head of the Japanese secret police a serious beat-down. [Edit: That’s a dead link, but I assume Greg was referring to this scene below.]

And here is the Cavett column that got me interested; it’s worth reading all by itself. Who’d have thought Dick Cavett was as geeky about this sort of thing when he was a kid as I was? (Of course I still am, really, and from the tone of Cavett’s column he still is too.) His pitch was so good that I ended up ordering it for us, for the whopping sum of seventy-five cents plus shipping. And you know what? It really is that much fun, especially for those of you reading this that have an interest in pulp adventure (you know who you are.) The movie’s fallen into public domain so you can find it almost anywhere on DVD for $1.75 or thereabouts.

Speaking of martial arts and exploitation films, here’s a bit from one of my very favorite ones of the 1970’s — the so-bad-it’s-genius Jim Kelly epic, Black Belt Jones.

Taste the awesome in this clip here. [Edit: Again, see below.]

A little closer to home, this clip is probably the most fondly-remembered of the Bruce Lee fight scenes from The Green Hornet. Unless you count the Batman crossover one where he kicked Burt Ward all over the room. [Edit: Neither of those links work, and I don’t know which one Greg is referring to in the first one, and the second one was on an account that’s been deactivated. Sorry!]

Speaking of Burt Ward, someone assembled this wonderful montage of Batman fight scenes from the 1966 series, including the very first one from the pilot. [Edit: Nope, sorry!]

And while we’re on the subject of Batman, here and here are two versions of the Dark Knight trailer that cracked me up. [Edit: No for the first one, but the second is below!]

How about some cool cartoons? Somewhere out in space live The Herculoids. Or check out Frankenstein Jr. vs. The Shocking Electrical Monster. Perhaps you’d enjoy this vintage Space Ghost short, back when he was the galactic Dirty Harry. The first Justice League cartoon I ever saw. The first Teen Titans cartoon I ever saw. The original opening credits for the Hanna-Barbera Fantastic Four. And here are the credits for possibly the greatest adventure cartoon ever: Jonny Quest. [Edit: Sigh. I could only find the final one. See below.]

This clip is so deranged I don’t want to spoil it with a description; you really should see it for yourself. But it made me laugh so hard it frightened the cat. [Edit: Sadly, this video is no longer available, and I have no idea what Greg was talking about!]

And finally, Adventure House has a whole page of free downloadable pulp-magazine PDFs. [Edit: Of course, that’s a dead link!] I’d especially recommend Charles Beaumont’s wonderful reminiscence, “The Bloody Pulps,” originally published in Playboy and later included in Peter Haining’s terrific anthology The Fantastic Pulps.

That should be enough to keep you folks entertained while I am recuperating. See you next week, bionic jaw and all.

One comment

  1. Jeff Nettleton

    In the Black Belt Jones clip, the thug in the green, red and black knit cap is Donnie Williams, one of the founders of the Black Karate Federation (along with Steve Muhammad, aka Steve Saunders), a noted stunt performer and fight aranger and a staple of many martial arts and blaxploitation films, and can be seen briefly, in Enter the Dragon, when Jim Kelly is leaving the karate school, headed out for his flight to Hong Kong (before he gets “hassled by the Man.”

    Martial arts popularity in the US was generally fueled by Hollywood. In the 30s and 40s it was boxing, wrestling and judo, with things like Blood on the Sun fueling the judo side. In the 50s and 60s it was karate, as that became better known and taught to GIs, during the occupation of Japan. By the late 60s and early 70s, Bruce Lee and the Shaw Brothers films popularized kung fu styles, as well as theKung Fu tv series, with David Carradine. You also had the Billy Jack films, where Tom Laughlin was doubled by Korean hapkido expert, Bong Soo Han (who also appears in Trial of Billy Jack, as a character). By the 80s, you have Korean karate styles, with Tae Kwon Do and Tang Soo Do, popularized by Chuck Norris and the Cobra Kai side of the Karate Kid, while the Miyagi style demonstrated gojuryu karate. Then there are the ninja. In the 90s, thanks to the UFC (and a little bit in Lethal Weapon), it became MMA.

    Still, one of my favorite demonstrations of martial arts was in The Devil’s Brigade, with a hand-to-hand expert, played by Jeremy Slate, who demonstrates Defendu techniques, pioneered by William Fairbairn, an ex-Shanghai polic officer who taught the British Commandos, SOE and OSS agents deadly street fighting techniques he learned and developed in Shanghai. Slate’s character is based on one of Fairbairn’s subordinates, who gave the character his name, Patrick O’Neil.

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