Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

They’re not ‘old’ movies, they’re ‘vintage,’ but I can still write about them!

I’ve been watching movies from before I was born again, and some commenters have objected to me calling them “old” because they (the commenters, that is) are living in denial, so let’s just call them “vintage,” shall we? Let’s take a look!

Algiers (1938). Despite the presence of Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr, this isn’t that great a movie, as it kind of wobbles along through a fairly dull story. Boyer plays a master thief who’s hiding out in the Casbah in Algiers, where the police can’t touch him because it’s too dangerous to go into the warren of alleys and dark corners. He lives like a king, but he misses Paris and wants to leave Algeria and head home. One day Lamarr shows up with her fiancé and another couple, and Boyer is smitten with her and she with him. They have a brief romance, but the fiancé finds out about it, forbids her from seeing him, and books tickets right the hell out of there. Boyer decides to take the chance to leave the Casbah and try to hook up with her on the ship, but given when this movie came out (in the days when the law was the law!!!!), you can probably figure out how that goes. The problems with the movie begin with Boyer and Lamarr – they have no chemistry, so their romance simply doesn’t work, and so why would Boyer risk his freedom and life to follow her? There are other issues – Boyer is supposed to be a great thief but he never steals anything, Lamarr is marrying someone much older than she is but we never learn very much about why and what her economic circumstances are, Boyer acts like a lovesick schoolboy even though he’s supposed to be a hardened criminal – but the very brief and unconvincing romance between the two leads is the most egregious. Boyer is fine, Lamarr is dazzling as always, but it just doesn’t work. It’s a nice-looking picture – atmospheric at times, claustrophobic at other times (we can believe that Boyer is bored in his fiefdom, because it really is a prison in many ways), but it’s easily missed. Too bad. (Boyer was nominated for an Oscar for his role, as was Gene Lockhart for Best Supporting Actor, which is very odd as he’s just … fine. Nothing really distinguishes his work, so I wonder how he snagged a nomination. Lamarr was too busy inventing wi-fi to ever be nominated for an Academy Award!)

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1957). I figured I should probably watch this as it’s so legendary, and it totally lives down to its reputation. It’s a terrible, terrible movie, and there’s really not even one tiny thing to make it something to check out except for the fact that everything about it is terrible. The writing is terrible, the acting is terrible, the effects are terrible, the direction is terrible … I mean, it’s breathtaking how bad it is. It’s only 78 minutes long, though, so it’s definitely something to see, and thanks to Tim Burton, we know a little about how Wood got the movie made, and it really is impressive that he managed it. It’s still garbage, though, but it’s definitely an experience!

Cry Terror! (1958). This brisk thriller is pretty good, hampered by one major thing: part of Inger Stevens’s performance. As is typical in a movie from before … I mean, through the Eighties, almost – we get a woman screaming far too often, and you’ll notice in the sound mixing of older movies, the women (and girls; Stevens’s daughter, played by Terry Ann Ross, also cries occasionally) seem to have their voices tuned upward into registers that really, really grate on my ears. I don’t know if they were told to do it or if the sound guys did it or if the recording equipment wasn’t as sophisticated, but dang, it bugs me. Stevens actually does a pretty good job when she’s not screaming or weeping, but they have her doing that too much, and it cuts into the movie like a jagged knife. Ugh. Otherwise, this is a pretty good thriller – a bomber puts two bombs on a plane, calls it in so the authorities can find it and know he’s serious, and threatens to blow up a different plane if he’s not paid $500,000. James Mason sees the news about the bomb and realizes he made the housing for an old Army buddy, Rod Steiger (never an attractive man, at least Steiger is young – 32/33 – and relatively fit, so he’s not as corpulent as he would become), who arrives at his house and takes him and his family – Stevens and their daughter – hostage. His accomplices are Jack Klugman (who probably looked like an old man when he was 10 years old; he just has that vibe about him), a very attractive Angie Dickinson, who’s a bit of a psychopath, and Neville Brand, a Benzedrine addict who went to prison for killing a woman he was raping – Steiger, naturally, leaves him in charge of Stevens, which seems like a stupid thing to do (and is). Steiger’s plot is complicated but doable, as he gets Stevens to pick up the money while he separates her from Mason and her daughter. Mason is held in Dickinson’s penthouse apartment (it’s really nice, and one wonders where she got the money for it and why she needs to be part of this kidnapping scheme if she has access to such funds), but he figures out a way to escape, while Stevens figures out a way to thwart Brand. Mason is his usual relatively stoic self, Klugman looks like he’s about to explain the forensics of the body in his morgue at any moment, Stevens is far too young for Mason (she was about 25 years younger than he; Stevens died in 1970 at the age of 35 of a drug overdose that was ruled a suicide) but once she stops crying she does a good job, Steiger is nice and menacing, and Dickinson is, frankly, terrifying. The FBI agents are remarkably competent, too, which I know is propaganda, but is still interesting – none of the cops are really personalities, they just do their plodding job well, and figure things out as things are coming to a head. Part of the thrills hinge on, hilariously, the old cliché of women not being good drivers, which is just weird. It’s not a great movie, but it is a pretty decent thriller.

‘You want me to kill ’em both? Sure, I can do that!’

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959). This is probably the first Holmes story I ever read, and it remains my favorite, so I always like to check out the adaptations. This is a Hammer film, and they hoped it would start a series of Holmes movies, but this was the only one the company ever made, which is too bad. Peter Cushing is excellent as our hero, and André Morell does nice work as Watson. Christopher Lee is quite good as Henry Baskerville, and if you have those three well cast, the rest of the movie takes care of itself, largely. Cushing, like a lot of older Holmes, doesn’t play him as a genius asshole somewhere on the autism spectrum – he’s the slightest bit curt, but definitely not as asshole – and Morell is a strong Watson, not a bumbler at all, and Holmes never talks down to him. It’s surprisingly bloody for 1959, but then again, the Brits were always a bit more bloodthirsty than the uptight Yanks, and there’s a powerful sexual undercurrent (and in some places, overcurrent!) throughout the story. I’m not entirely sure why the book was so changed – Beryl’s name is changed to Cecile, but that might be because Marla Landi, who’s Italian, is playing the role, and “Beryl” is such a proper English name. Other things, however, are annoying. The Stapletons are father and daughter, not brother and sister, and it turns out they’re actual father and daughter, not just pretending. Cecile is far more evil than Beryl. Stapleton’s fate is different, but it makes sense in context. Frankland has no daughter. Most of this stuff is fine, but Holmes’s disappearance from the story doesn’t feel as important, so when he returns, it doesn’t feel as momentous. Conan Doyle, as we know, wasn’t the best mystery creator, but at least by keeping Holmes away from the story for so long in the book, it feels like he could have discovered what he did. In this movie, it’s almost like he’s never gone, so how could he have found so much out? Still, the movie is nice and atmospheric, and the hound is pretty cool (given the limitations of what they could do in 1959), and as I mentioned, the three leads are quite good. Cushing and Lee, having a blast! What’s not to love?

Peeping Tom (1960). This film, which feels a bit tame today, was of course a huge thing back in 1960, when it effectively wrecked director Michael Powell’s career because it was so controversial! Powell dared to make his killer, Carl Boehm, fairly sympathetic, and that is something up with which the British critics would not put! Boehm is a meek cameraman for movies who also moonlights as a photographer of the softest soft-core porn you can imagine (I guess in the British version, one of his models is actually topless, but Americans couldn’t handle boobs so they had to reshoot it with her chest covered!), but he’s also a serial killer. Oh dear. The big problem for critics is that Powell dared make him likeable but also not completely at fault – it’s clear his father (played by Powell in a Hitchcockian cameo, with his own son playing a young Boehm) was a monster himself, but got away with it because he was a respected scientist and he didn’t kill anyone. Boehm grows up severely damaged, both by his father and his stepmother, who is implied to have not wanted children around interfering with her gold-digging. Boehm begins a romance with his downstairs neighbor, Anna Massey (who, unfortunately, is a bit outclassed by Boehm in this movie), and he’s well aware of his predilections and is desperate to seem “normal” to her, which feels like another strike against the movie in the eyes of uptight critics – how dare he attempt to have a regular life! It’s a disturbing movie, mainly because of Boehm, who does a terrific job – he’s both far more “normal” and attractive and therefore far creepier than Norman Bates, as the movie is often compared to Psycho. It’s not Anthony Perkins’s fault – he just looks weirder than Boehm does, so Boehm is much better at appearing like a regular dude. Boehm might be a bit odd, but when he begins to break down and get that killer urge, it’s creepy because he seems so apologetic about it. Anyway, this movie is very well done – Powell makes it claustrophobic a lot, and he uses cuts to heighten the tension. The police aren’t all that great at their jobs, which is normal in movies where they’re not the focus, but Boehm isn’t that good at getting away with things, either, so there’s that. It is quite a fascinating movie, because it does feel pretty modern (well, except for the utter lack of blood when Boehm stabs people!) and it retains the ability to creep you right out. Yes, the acting is a bit melodramatic, and yes, Massey seems awfully stupid occasionally because she knows there’s something a bit weird about Boehm but she ignores her feelings because he’s … pretty?, but overall, it’s a very good, fairly influential slasher movie. And hey, Martin Scorsese likes it, so you should too, right?

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). I saw this when I was young – 10 or 11, I think – and I liked it, although I didn’t know who any of the people were and some jokes flew right over my head (in the beginning, Jimmy Durante literally kicks a bucket but I didn’t know what that meant). I figured I’d watch it now that I know who the people were, and it’s still a very funny movie. It’s impressive that Stanley Kramer managed to wrangle so many people to be in the movie, even guys like the Three Stooges, who show up for, what, five seconds? Some things crack me up about it: Ethel Merman ruins everything (it’s always the woman, amirite?) by insisting that everyone who was at the crash site get a share of the money, even though she didn’t do anything, so while the five main dudes – Berle, Caesar, Rooney, Hackett, and Winters – were perfectly happy splitting it five ways, Merman’s whining made them all suspicious of each other and led to all the problems. Terry-Thomas complains to Berle that America is a matriarchy, and I wonder how women in the early 1960s felt about that. Dick Shawn as Merman’s drugged-out and loony son is the stealth MVP of the movie, as he injects the right amount of youthful insanity into the proceedings. Both Dorothy Provine and Edie Adams add some nice eye candy to the movie, and Provine, at least, is annoyed that everyone is being so greedy (she was also almost 27 years younger than Berle, her on-screen husband, which is never great, but everyone ignores it). Spencer Tracy screws up his plot to get the money because he simply can’t wait at the park for a few more minutes, so all the others spot him leaving with the cash instead of waiting for the cops. Come on, Spencer Tracy! This is a really fun movie, even if you don’t spot all the cameos (and I think I missed a few). It’s 3 hours long (give or take), but there’s an intermission, which is nice, and it really does zip right along. Take the afternoon off and give it a whirl!

Marnie (1964). This is the last of the “classic” Hitchcock movies, isn’t it? Before he moved into late-era Hitchcock (see below!) and lost something in the transition, he made this, a psychological thriller in the vein of, say, Vertigo (it’s not as good as Vertigo, but it’s in the same arena, thematically-wise). He only made four movies after this, but they were all slightly lesser movies than his older output, and the shift is weird. I mean, this isn’t his greatest movie, but it’s pretty good, and it deals with the kind of weird psycho-sexual things that Hitch was disturbingly obsessed by, so maybe he sensed that the winds of culture were shifting and he couldn’t get away with that sort of thing anymore, or maybe he just lost interest in it as he got older. And this is a weird movie, made even weirder by the fact that Hitch released it in 1964. Tippi Hedren is a pathological thief and liar, but when she steals from Sean Connery’s company, he’s able to figure it out and catch her. Instead of turning her over to the police, he marries her (he was digging her before he put the pieces together and figured out she was a thief), claiming that it’s probably better than prison. She wants nothing to do with men, and Connery respects that except for one brief moment when he decides he just have to have sex with her and she doesn’t resist (see below; it’s far too much like rape to modern eyes, but Hedren plays it as dead-eyed acquiescence, so I guess they can get away with it … although I guess there were objections back then by people on the movie to what happens, so it’s not just modern people thinking it’s bad!). So that’s weird. Connery knows that something is wrong with her, even as she rails against the patriarchy that believes a woman uninterested in men must be crazy. Of course, there is trauma in her past, and it’s actually a pretty good depiction of someone in complete denial over their trauma and the way society forces us to conform to their version of “normal.” It’s a bit ham-fisted, but it feels ground-breaking for the mid-Sixties, and Hitch doesn’t really pull any punches with the resolution. Connery and Hedren are pretty good, Diane Baker is dazzling as always, and Louise Latham as Hedren’s mother does a good job as the emotionally distant woman who has a pretty good reason for it. There are some amazing Hitchcock camera shots, many using wonderful perspective (Hitch, as always, is master craftsman with the camera), and there’s some disturbing stuff in it, and while it doesn’t quite rise to the level of his best work, it’s still pretty good.

Torn Curtain (1966). This is another late-era Hitchcock movie that has some interesting elements but never coheres into a good movie, which is too bad. Paul Newman plays a physicist who tries to ditch his fiancée, Julie Andrews (who doesn’t have much to do) and defect to East Germany because the American government pulled the plug on his missile defense system which would have made atomic bombs obsolete and he wants to work with a German scientist in Leipzig who is working on the same thing. Andrews follows him to Berlin, of course, and it turns out that Newman is just trying to glean the secrets from the scientist and scurry back to the States, and Andrews being there complicates things. That’s not a bad plot, but the movie still doesn’t work well. Newman is too wooden – he can’t quite pull off the seriousness of the character and he can’t quite nail the “getting hunted by East Germans” vibe at the end. Newman was about 40 when filming was going on, and it seemed like he hadn’t gotten out of his “charming rogue” phase of his career yet – he definitely became a better actor as he got older. He pulled off a different kind of character in The Sting, and that was only 7 years after this, but he hasn’t gotten it down yet (he had already been nominated for three Oscars, so he wasn’t bad, per se, just very good at playing a type). He doesn’t have a ton of chemistry with Andrews, either, which doesn’t help. Meanwhile, Hitch apparently didn’t like Newman all that much, and he spent a lot of time with the supporting characters, which is why someone like Lila Kedrova (that’s Oscar-winner Lila Kedrova to you!) gets so much screen time with a completely inconsequential part, one she plays as fairly ridiculous – Hitch liked her, so she got a lot of screen time! That makes the film stilted, though, because we spend so much time on Newman getting to Berlin, and then the East Germans are onto him almost immediately, so then we spend an excessive amount of time with him getting out of Germany. The professor he meets in Leipzig knows there are questions about his defection, but Newman is still able to con him out of his secrets. The escape is exciting, although it’s a bit silly how many times Newman and Andrews are almost caught but they keep getting away, but it still takes up too much time. Obviously, it’s not a terrible movie – it’s still Hitchcock, after all – but it was apparently a troubled production, and it kind of shows on screen. Oh well.

Dark of the Sun (1968). I like to read the “trivia” section about these movies on IMDb, and dang, this sounds like a wild shoot. It’s an action movie set in the Congo (but filmed in Jamaica), with Rod Taylor as a mercenary who’s hired by the president and some fat businessman to go in-country and pick up $50 million worth of diamonds from the businessman’s mine … and rescue the people up there from the rebels, if it’s convenient. Taylor and his second-in-command, Jim Brown, recruit a bunch of dudes from the Congolese army, whose commanding officer happens to be … an ex-Nazi? (It’s unclear if the dude, played by Peter Carsten – who would have been only 17 at the end of the war – is an actual ex-Nazi or if he just admires the Nazis.) They head north, pick up Yvette Mimieux along the way (her husband, who has been killed by the time they arrive, was an employee of the diamond company), get the people and the diamonds, and everything goes to hell. It’s a fairly violent movie, and apparently a whole hell of a lot was cut because it was so much more violent. Taylor is the stereotypical mercenary who cares only for money, but if you think he has a change of heart along the way, well, you wouldn’t be wrong. Brown’s character is Congolese (although he was educated in the States, so the filmmakers can upend the expectations of bigots who think he’s just a grunt), and he’s fighting for his country, but thanks to the vagueness of the backstory of the Congo, it’s unclear if he’s really that sympathetic to the government he fights for (the Congolese president is clearly a puppet of Western interests, but that’s unremarked upon, and it’s probably because in the 1960s, it was seen as good to be a puppet of Western interests rather than in the pocket of those godless Commies!). Taylor makes some good points about the nature of violence, but the political subtext of the movie isn’t pushed too much. If you think the Nazi becomes a problem, well, you wouldn’t be wrong, again. It’s a decent movie, although in some places, the cuts are obvious – there’s another officer who panics early in the movie, gets a talking-to from Taylor, and seems as if he’s going to be more important, but his part feels cut after that (although they leave enough in to hint at what happens to him, and it’s not pleasant). The drunken doctor feels like a bigger part, but Kenneth More, who played him, said that a lot was cut. Brown and Taylor didn’t get along, and Brown didn’t like the movie, although he’s actually quite good in it. They cut a part where Taylor forces Mimieux to have sex with him, which was definitely the right move, as Taylor’s not really a bad dude, just a bit rough, and making him a rapist would have ruined the entire movie. The ending is a bit silly – I don’t want to spoil it, but Taylor throws himself on his sword a bit when he really doesn’t have to, and it feels like a “Hays Code” ending (which this film would have been subject to, I think), so that’s a bit odd for such an amoral movie. It’s not great, but it is a solid adventure, and if you’re a fan of war or war-ish movies, this is not a bad one to check out.

Hot Millions (1968). This generically-title movie (I mean, yes, technically, the “millions” are “hot” because Peter Ustinov embezzles them, but it’s still a dull title) is a pretty fun comedy, as Ustinov plays an embezzler who gets out of prison at the beginning of the movie and immediately gets back into crime. He was found out by a computer, so he goes to work using a computer to embezzle money from a big corporation. He’s hired by Karl Malden, and his nemesis at the company is Bob Newhart, who suspects him from the beginning. His neighbor, Maggie Smith, becomes his secretary briefly (she’s not very good at keeping a job) before they hook up and get married. Ustinov’s scheme is actually pretty clever, but of course it all comes crashing down until the fun, bit-of-a-twist ending. Ustinov (that’s two-time Oscar winner Peter Ustinov to you) and Smith (who’s also won two Oscars, but at this point she had only been nominated once) have fun together – both are cleverer than they seem, although Ustinov does seem to get awfully lucky a lot. The security at the company doesn’t seem terribly adequate, and he asks a lot of questions that ought to make more people – not just Newhart, who doesn’t like him not because he thinks he’s a crook but because Ustinov showed him up in front of the boss – a bit suspicious. Malden (who also won an Oscar for A Streetcar Named Desire – dang, this cast is stacked!) enjoys himself as the somewhat clueless boss, and Newhart is quite good as the vile bureaucrat (who nevertheless drives a very cool Jensen Interceptor). Robert Morley (an Oscar nominee back in 1939) and Cesar Romero have extended cameos, and while the movie does strain credulity just a tad, it’s still a fun heist flick whose central scheme relies on tea, because of course it does (being an English movie, after all). Fun stuff all around!

Who’s seen these movies? Let me know what you think of them in the comments!


  1. Jeff Nettleton

    Hey, I’ve seen some of these.

    Algiers is actually a Hollywood remake of the French film, Pepe Le Moko, with Jean Gabin. The original is generally rated the superior film and Boyer complained that it was a bad idea to try to remake it and claims the director screened scenes from it and told them to do it exactly the same way, which he didn’t like. The director claims that Boyer was responsible for pushing Lamarr, as the love interest, when Ingrid Bergman and Sylvia Sidney were being considered. It least it inspired Pepe Le Pew!

    Plan 9 is terrible, though the Burton Ed Wood plays fast and loose with the truth, hitting some of the highlights, then putting Burton’s own weird spin on things. As far as Woods’ movies go, I find Glen or Glenda and Bride of the Monster fairly watchable, though hardly good and Plan 9 as awful for anything other than doing the home version of MST3K (who riffed on Bride and the later Sinister Urge). Burton sympathized way too much with Woods and seriously downplayed his alcoholism and how pathetic he got, though he stopped things at Plan 9. I have come across worse things, though, from major studios!

    Hound is decent, but typical of Hammer, which used violence and sex to sell to audiences. Holmes doesn’t quite give you much to work with. They would have been better off doing something like A Study in Terror, where Holmes investigates the Ripper killings (with Judy Dench in a very early role). Lee later got to play Holmes in a couple of German Holmes films.

    Loved It’s a Mad, Mad, etc since seeing it as a kid, back in the 70s, and it has stayed as hilarious, later. That’s what made the cat burglar episode of the Simpsons so fun, since the climax pays tribute to the best parts. Love Jim Backus as the drunken pilot and Jonathan Winters as the tow truck driver, especially when he tangles with the two guys at the filling station (Arnold Stang & Marvin Kaplan).

    The plot of Torn Curtain sounds a lot like an I-Spy comic plot that I reviewed recently, right down to the fake defection to find out about the Commies’ progress.

    Dark of the Sun is a favorite, after first seeing it as a late movie. It is based on a Wilbur Smith novel and Smith knew Africa, of the period. The book was set early in the Congo’s independence, when the Katanga province had seceded, with the backing of the Belgian mining companies and government and the CIA. The character that Calvin Lockart plays is based on Moise Tshombe, the leader of Katanga. He hired mercenary soldiers to back his own forces and the Belgians convinced France to send a detachment of Foreign Legion paratroops, on detached service. Other mercenaries joined them, as the UN backed the Lumumba government. Eventually, they reached a peace, after Tshombe had Lumumba killed. Tshombe was later called to act as prime minister, during the Simba Uprising and again brought in mercenary soldiers, including Mike Hoare, an Irishman who served in Burma, and several South African, French, Belgian and British soldiers. Also in the mix was an ex-Wehrmacht soldier, Siefried Muller, who had been in the Hitler Youth and then the Wehrmacht, on the Eastern Front. He was noted for wearing his Iron Cross (won during the war) on his uniform, in the Congo, which was photographed by many journalists. Carsten’s character is based on him. The film mixes the secession period and the later Simba uprising (which was not long before the movie was filmed). The soldiers that Taylor chooses, though, are all mercenaries and the Congolese Gendarmery. That was the main military formation from the Congolese government, the mercenaries leading gendarme troops against the Simbas (and, earlier, UN forces from Sweden, Ireland and India). Taylor is believable as a mercenary officer; but, Brown is never quite as convincing, though his character and performance are good. The stuff with the Europeans caught by the Simbas is relatively accurate and they seized Stanleyville and threatened to kill all of the Europeans, which led to a rescue operation, carried out by Belgian paracommandos, the USAF (flying transport) and the mercenary and Congolese forces advancing on the ground. They were successful in liberating the bulk of the populace.

    The film The Wild Geese takes a bit of inspiration from the same period (but set later), as well as the plot of Frederick Forsyth’s The Dogs of War. There is a more recent one, The Siege of Jadotville, about how an Irish unit held off a numerically superior force of Foreign Legion mercs and Katanganese, who also had air support, while the UN left the Irish to flounder. They fought them off until they ran out of ammo and surrendered. Good film.

    1. Greg Burgas

      It would have been nice to see a bit more of the politics in Dark of the Sun, but perhaps it was part of what was cut. We needed to get to the bloodshed quickly, I guess!

  2. I was fascinated when I caught Marnie in TV in the early 1970s. Rewatching a year or so back, it’s “meh” Hitchcock. Hedren’s not a good actor (Hitch reportedly tried and failed to woo Grace Kelly back into movies for the gig) and as a friend of mine says, the film never acknowledges Connery’s just as much a mess, forcing a woman to marry him when she screams at his touch. I’ve heard persuasive arguments he does not, in fact, take her in that scene but it does give that impression.
    Cry Terror — ah, I remember this one but I was never able to remember the title. Thanks.
    I like Algiers. It’s way better than the later remake “Casbah.” Haven’t seen the French original.
    I agree with one critic’s review of “Ed Wood,” that we’re supposed to respect Wood because dammit, he made the films His Way — and this somehow excuses that they’re terrible films, not the work of a lone visionary.
    Plan Nine is fun to watch. It’s also noteworthy as one of the only two movies (along with Invasion of the Saucer Men) that presents the idea of a massive UFO cover-up (as opposed to the “you can’t report this yet, people will panic” approach that was quite common) as we learn government covered up the aliens wiping out an entire town (“A small town, true, but a town of people!”).
    The book Cult Movies argued that Wood made the movie deliberately bad so he could slip in a subversive critique of US military policy, but that ignores that all of Wood’s movies are dreadful.
    Peter Cushing is an excellent Holmes, a role he later played a couple of times on the Beeb. Lee has the distinction of playing Holmes, Baskerville and Mycroft in different movies.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Despite Marnie being somewhat groundbreaking, it was still the 1960s, and Hitch wasn’t interested in exploring how men could be as messed up as women. Men could certainly BE messed up, and often were – Stewart in Vertigo is an absolute mess – but it was rare, if not non-existent, for the male, “romantic” lead to have problems that anyone talked about, and it stayed that way for a long time. Connery is definitely a mess, and I suppose it’s good we even got it in subtext, because it certainly wasn’t going to be in the text like it is with Hedren.

    2. True, all of Wood’s movies are dreadful. Part of it is that his scripts always exceed the limitations of his budget, so you get cheesy things like cardboard tombstones and pie-pan flying saucers and actors finding their own costumes. Part is that the actors in his films are whoever he could rope into doing it for pocket change, and their performances reflect that. But the major reason is that Ed Wood is a classic Dunning-Kruger case; he’s inept and doesn’t know it. If he had a major studio backing him, big budget and A-list actors, but still wrote his own scripts, his movies would still be clumsy and hard to watch.

  3. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

    I’ve got your back, Greg – all of these movie ARE old!

    I have a foolproof taxonomy for what qualifies as an “Old” movie:

    Did it come out before Star Wars?

  4. Plan 9 is just bad, and not “so bad it’s good,” just badly made, even if Wood hadn’t had to bring somebody else in to finish Lugosi’s role and provide what little accidental comedy there is.

    Now, if you want entertainingly bad, so bad it’s good, unintentionally funny, you want ROBOT MONSTER. But you need to see it in 3D, because the truth is, the only reason this movie exists is to serve as a commercial for the 3d filming process in which it was made. But unlike Plan 9, it’s actually entertaining, despite being absurdly cheaply made, badly acted, and insanely written.

    Of the other films you covered, I’ll just say that my younger daughter is still a huge fan of the great Dick Shawn. She fell in love with him in THE PRODUCERS, and then IAMMMMW cemented him as her favorite comedic actor. I can’t say she’s wrong.

    1. I love Plan Nine — it is definitely bad enough to be entertaining. Never seen Robot Monster in 3D but it’s a lot of fun even without it (still, if I get the opportunity I’ll keep your recommendation in mind).
      Dick Shawn as LSD is indeed hilarious. “I took my flower to the mean old cop/He took his nightstick and beat — me — up!”

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