Category Archives: D — VIEWING

READINGMAY 2019

(Don­ner 1978) Super­man
(Annakin 1960) Swiss Fam­i­ly Robin­son
(Mar­ti­no 1978) Slave of the Can­ni­bal God [aka Moun­tain of the Can­ni­bal God]
(Trelfer 2019) Dark Cor­ners Review: (353) Star Wars: The Road to Men­ace, Part 1
(Frow 2018) Mid­Somer Mur­ders: Ep.119 ― Draw­ing Dead
(Band & Band 1992) Doc­tor Mor­drid
(Tenold 2019) Brandon’s Cult Movie Reviews: Doc­tor Mor­drid
(Hay 2013) Mid­Somer Mur­ders: Ep.95 ― Schooled in Mur­der
(Neu­mann 1958) The Fly
(Ware­ing 1989) Doc­tor Who: Ep.686 ― Ghost Light, Part 1
(Ware­ing 1989) Doc­tor Who: Ep.687 ― Ghost Light, Part 2
(Ware­ing 1989) Doc­tor Who: Ep.688 ― Ghost Light, Part 3
(Smith 2000) Mid­Somer Mur­ders: Ep.11 — Blue Her­rings
(Kel­ly & Donen 1952) Sin­gin’ in the Rain
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FILMSAPRIL 2019

(Trelfer 2016) Dark Cor­ners Review: (100) Fiend With­out a Face
(di Chiera 2009) Death of the Megabeasts
(Fried­kin 1970) The Boys in the Band
(Fried­man 1989) Phan­tom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge
(Trelfer 2019) Dark Cor­ners Review: (349) Phan­tom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge
(Sas­dy 1985) The Secret Diary of Adri­an Mole: Ep.1
(Winther 2004) The Librar­i­an: Quest for the Spear
(Schu­mach­er 1994) The Client
(Miike 2001) The Hap­pi­ness of the Katakuris [カタクリ家の幸福 ; Katakuri-ke no Kōfuku]
(Trelfer 2019) Dark Cor­ners Review: (350) The Hor­ror Films of F. W. Mur­nau
(Oliv­er 2008) On the Oth­er Hand, Death
(1928) Ear­ly Sound Footage: Unit­ed States
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FILMSMARCH 2019

(Joffe 2017) Tin Star: Ep.1 ― Fun and (S)Laughter
(Rye 2011) Mid­Somer Mur­ders: Ep.91 ― Mur­der of Inno­cence
(Sil­ber­ston 1998) Mid­Somer Mur­ders: Ep.3 — Death of a Hol­low Man
(Rye 2012) Mid­Somer Mur­ders: Ep.92 ― Writ­ten in the Stars
(Tay­lor 1998) Mid­Somer Mur­ders: Ep.4 — Faith­ful Unto Death
(McNaughton 1974) Mon­ty Python’s Fly­ing Cir­cus: Ep.41 ― Michael Ellis
(Moore 1976) Mur­der By Death
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(Richardson 1965) The Loved One

This is the kind of film that should be seen by hap­pen­stance. A delib­er­ate view­ing can’t match the deli­cious plea­sure of stum­bling upon it by chance. I real­ly shouldn’t even be telling you about it.

In 1947, the British nov­el­ist Eve­lyn Waugh was approached by Hol­ly­wood for a pos­si­ble film­ing of his nov­el Brideshead Revis­it­ed. The book’s two essen­tial com­po­nents were a heavy dose of the mys­ti­cal upper-class Catholi­sism which exists only in Eng­land and bears no resem­blance to Catholi­cism any­where else, and a steamy homo­sex­u­al yearn­ing that man­ages to nev­er men­tion homo­sex­u­al­i­ty. The idea that this would have been made into a film even vague­ly resem­bling the orig­i­nal was ludi­crous, but Waugh was hap­py to let Hol­ly­wood give him an all-expense-paid trip to Los Ange­les to hag­gle. Waugh had no inten­tion of going through with the deal. Waugh was a snob — he was revolt­ed that “low­er-class” ser­vice peo­ple spoke to him as an equal, detest­ed Amer­i­can infor­mal­i­ty, and com­plained about every­thing. But snobs often write the best satire (think Thack­er­ay), as they have no com­punc­tions about hurt­ing people’s feel­ings. Hol­ly­wood is a bizarre, arti­fi­cial, and goofy place even for Amer­i­cans, and Waugh found plen­ty of mate­r­i­al for his next satir­i­cal nov­el, The Loved One, which appeared in 1948. He was par­tic­u­lar­ly fas­ci­nat­ed by Amer­i­cans’ pecu­liar atti­tudes towards death and (to a Brit) weird funer­al cus­toms. The plot is sim­ple: A young Eng­lish­man with a posh edu­ca­tion but no par­tic­u­lar ambi­tion wins a trip to Hol­ly­wood, and stays with an Uncle who is a stal­wart in the expat British com­mu­ni­ty in the film stu­dios. His host com­mits sui­cide, leav­ing him to fend for him­self on this alien plan­et. Attend­ing to his uncle’s funer­al, he becomes involved with Aimée Thanatogenos, an embalmer work­ing at Whis­per­ing Glades Ceme­tery, a spec­tac­u­lar­ly vul­gar Dis­ney­land of Death cre­at­ed by the mega­lo­ma­ni­ac Blessed Rev­erend Glen­wor­thy. He encoun­ters an assort­ment of lunatics, all of them dis­play­ing extreme ver­sions of Amer­i­can cul­ture that Waugh found offen­sive and laugh­able. As in many of Waugh’s books, and many of the same ilk, the “hero” dis­plays no notice­able virtues oth­er than not being one of the loonies. 

Tony Richard­son, a British direc­tor who had scored big with crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed and finan­cial­ly suc­cess­ful films (Look Back in Anger; The Enter­tain­er; A Taste of Hon­ey; The Lone­li­ness of the Long Dis­tance Run­ner; Tom Jones) filmed the book in 1965. The script was writ­ten by the wild­ly unlike­ly com­bi­na­tion of Ter­ry South­ern and Christo­pher Ish­er­wood. South­ern is not much read now, but in 1965 he was in lit­er­ary vogue, and usu­al­ly paired with Kurt Von­negut as a satirist. Ish­er­wood was a gay play­wright and nov­el­ist who had chron­i­cled the sex­u­al under­ground of Weimar Ger­many, and would lat­er reach a wide audi­ence with Cabaret. Waugh had vicious­ly car­i­ca­tured Ish­er­wood in one of his nov­els, but in that cat­ty lit­er­ary crowd such things appar­ent­ly did not mat­ter much. The film script sticks fair­ly close to the book, but adds a some scenes that make it fit in bet­ter with 1965. These addi­tions would, I sus­pect, have been fine with Waugh. Visu­al­ly, the film is a feast. Every shot fills the eye with details just as fun­ny as the sit­u­a­tions and the dia­log. Every cut serves a satir­ic pur­pose. But the real bonan­za is the cast­ing. Aimée Thanatogenos is played to per­fec­tion by Anjanette Cormer, whose remark­able tal­ent was nev­er well-used by Hol­ly­wood. The Eng­lish hero is played by Robert Morse, one of the few Amer­i­can actors at the time who could con­vinc­ing­ly play an Eng­lish­man — while the vul­gar Amer­i­can film mogul is played by Rod­dy Mac­Dowall, then still best known as a for­mer Eng­lish child star. Lib­er­ace turns in a hilar­i­ous per­for­mance as a funer­al direc­tor — he real­ly missed a chance to be a great com­ic film actor. Jonathan Win­ters plays both the Rev­erend Glen­wor­thy and his incom­pe­tent twin broth­er, mak­ing each char­ac­ter a gem. Rod Steiger chews the scenery with the moth­er-obsessed and near­ly psy­chot­ic Mr. Joy­boy. Paul Williams is a child rock­et sci­en­tist. The actu­al Hol­ly­wood Eng­lish Con­tin­gent (reg­u­lar­ly cast as “Lords and but­lers”) essen­tial­ly play them­selves: John Giel­gud, Robert Mor­ley, Alan Napi­er. Mil­ton Berle, James Coburn, Mar­garet Leighton, Bar­bara Nichols, Lionel Stander, and Bernie Kopell do well-craft­ed bits. There are numer­ous Hol­ly­wood in-jokes that the audi­ence could hard­ly have been expect­ed to catch. For exam­ple, the cow­boy film star who is being absurd­ly voice-coached by the stu­dio to play an Eng­lish Lord is played by Robert Eas­t­on. Eas­t­on was him­self a voice coach, and one of the worlds great­est author­i­ties on Eng­lish dialects. Many in the cast were clos­et­ed gays. Tab Hunter plays a tour guide! 

It’s extra­or­di­nary that this satir­i­cal film, made 54 years ago, based on a book writ­ten 71 years ago, remains rel­e­vant and bit­ing­ly fun­ny.

FILMSFEBRUARY 2019

(Kagan 1974) Judge Dee and the Monastery Mur­ders
(Malle 1971) Mur­mur of the Heart [Le souf­fle au coeur]
(McNaughton 1973) Mon­ty Python’s Fly­ing Cir­cus: Ep.37 ― Den­nis Moore
(McNaughton 1973) Mon­ty Python’s Fly­ing Cir­cus: Ep.38 ― A Book at Bed­time
(Ware­ing 1988) Doc­tor Who: Ep.678 ― The Great­est Show in the Galaxy, Part 1
(Ware­ing 1988) Doc­tor Who: Ep.679 ― The Great­est Show in the Galaxy, Part 2
(Ritt 1963) Hud
(Ware­ing 1988) Doc­tor Who: Ep.680 ― The Great­est Show in the Galaxy, Part 3
(Ware­ing 1989) Doc­tor Who: Ep.681 ― The Great­est Show in the Galaxy, Part 4
(Seltzer 1986) Lucas
(Guð­munds­son 2014) Ártún
(Sil­ber­ling 2004) Lemo­ny Snicket’s A Series of Unfor­tu­nate Events
(Lourié 1953) The Beast from 20,000 Fath­oms
(Elston 2013) The Oth­er Pom­peii: Life & Death in Her­cu­la­neum
(Mar­cus 2007) Roman Mys­ter­ies: Ep.3 ― The Pirates of Pom­peii, Part 1
(Hitch­cock 1936) Sab­o­tage
(Liu & Li 2008) Jus­tice Bao [包青天; Bāo Qīng Tiān]: Ep.1 ― Beat­ing the Drag­on Robe
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FILMSJANUARY 2019

(Melville 1950) Les Enfants Ter­ri­bles
(Arkush 1979) Rock’n’Roll High School
(Cross­land 2011) Mur­doch Mys­ter­ies: Ep.41 ― Kom­man­do
(Dante 1984) Grem­lins
(Trelfer 2016) Dark Cor­ners Review: (54) Grem­lins: The Great­est Christ­mas Hor­ror Film
. . . Ret­ro­spec­tive
(Dante 2011) Joe Dante Intro­duces Grem­lins for the Ciné Nasty Series
(Sawall 2010) Etr­uscans: Glo­ry Before Rome
(Hough 1978) Return from Witch Moun­tain
(Grin­ter & Hawkes 1972) Blood Freak
(Trelfer 2018) Dark Cor­ners Review: (332) Blood Freak
(Copp 2010) Inside the Milky Way
(Man­cori & Mann 1964) Son of Her­cules in the Land of Dark­ness [Riff­Trax ver­sion]
(Wise 1951) The Day the Earth Stood Still
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FILMSDECEMBER 2018

(Ward 1988) The Nav­i­ga­tor: A Medieval Odyssey
(Clough 1987) Doc­tor Who: Ep.665 ― Drag­on­fire, Part 1
(Bole 1991) Star Trek, the Next Gen­er­a­tion: Ep.89 ― First Con­tact
(Steven­son 1974) The Island at the Top of the World
(Clough 1987) Doc­tor Who: Ep.666 ― Drag­on­fire, Part 2
(Clough 1987) Doc­tor Who: Ep.667 ― Drag­on­fire, Part 3
(Bill 1980) My Body­guard
(Moore 1990) Demon Wind
(Trelfer 2018) Dark Cor­ners Review: (329) Demon Wind
(Pal 1960) The Time Machine
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FILMSNOVEMBER 2018

(Hunt 1982) The Mys­te­ri­ous Stranger
(Hon­da 1957) The Mys­te­ri­ans [地球防衛軍; Chikyû Bôei­gun]
(Trelfer 2014) Dark Cor­ners Review: (175) The Mys­te­ri­ans
(Wright 2010) Mur­doch Mys­ter­ies: Ep.39 ― The Tes­la Effect
(Break­ston & Crane 1959) The Manster [双頭の殺人鬼]
(Trelfer 2018) Dark Cor­ners Review: (322) The Manster
(De Felit­ta 1981) Dark Night of the Scare­crow
(Mor­gan 1987) Doc­tor Who: Ep.654 ― Time and the Rani, Part 1
(Mor­gan 1987) Doc­tor Who: Ep.655 ― Time and the Rani, Part 2
(May 1940) The Invis­i­ble Man Returns
(Mor­gan 1987) Doc­tor Who: Ep.656 ― Time and the Rani, Part 3
(Mor­gan 1987) Doc­tor Who: Ep.657 ― Time and the Rani, Part 4
(González 1965) The Fool Killer Read more »

FILMSOCTOBER 2018

(Young 1962) Dr. No
(Shel­don 1981) Love­ly But Dead­ly
(Trelfer 2018) Dark Cor­ners Review: (321) Love­ly But Dead­ly
(Schaffn­er 1965) The War Lord
(Ray­mond 1931) The Speck­led Band
(Wright 2010) Mur­doch Mys­ter­ies: Ep.38 ― In the Alto­geth­er
(Mann 2008) Les enquêtes de Mur­doch: Ep.1 ― D’un courant à l’autre
(Elve­bakk 2014) Bal­let Boys
(Seil­er 1939) Dust Be My Des­tiny
(Waters 1994) Ser­i­al Mom
(Pavlou 1986) Raw­head Rex
(Tenold 2018) Brandon’s Cult Movie Reviews: Raw­head Rex
(Sachs 2016) Lit­tle Men
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FILMSSEPTEMBER 2018

(Kon­chalovskiy 1997) The Odyssey
(McNaughton 1972) Mon­ty Python’s Fly­ing Cir­cus: Ep.34 ― The Cycling Tour
(Cim­ber 1984) Yel­low Hair and the Fortress of Gold
(Trelfer 2018) Dark Cor­ners Review: (313) Yel­low Hair and the Fortress of Gold
(Bridge 2017) How the Uni­verse Works: Ep.42 ― Strangest Alien Worlds
(Betuel 1985) My Sci­ence Project
(Williamson 2018) How the Uni­verse Works: Ep.43 ― Are Black Holes Real?
(Greene 1959) The Cos­mic Man
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