Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Planet of the Buddha Man!

Buddha Man jumps back in the driver's seat! Hang on!

Buddha Man here again! Let's look at several movies that have run across my eyes of late!

I was pleased by these.

Bulldog Drummond's Revenge (Paramount, 1937) This is an entertaining old British mystery featuring John Howard (Lost Horizon '37) as adventurer Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond, once again getting into the thick of things with his pal Algy (Reginald Denny - Commodore Schmidlapp in Batman '66), much to the consternation of Colonel Nielson (John Barrymore - Grand Hotel). This time out a new explosive has been invented, and everyone wants to get their hands on it...gently...
Reginald Denny, John Howard, and E.E. Clive all want to use the phone,
but John Barrymore got there first, so la-de-dah.
Drummond gets on the trail of the spy ring out to steal the formula, and it all comes to an exciting climax on a train. At 57 minutes, it also does not overstay its welcome. There's not much mystery, as we watch the bad guys through every step of their plan, and it's annoying to have Drummond's fiance whining about him going off on another adventure every couple of minutes, but some snappy dialogue - especially from Drummond's valet Tenny (E.E. Clive - Foreign Correspondent), charming miniature work, and good acting put this one right over. Check it out!

Five Minutes to Live (Sutton Pictures, 1961)  There were a lot of 'small' crime films in the 50's and 60's, where a couple of lowlifes would come up with a plan to pull a heist, kidnap someone, or bump someone off for a quick ticket to easy street. This is one of those movies, but it stands out for several reasons. First and second - it stars Johnny Cash (!) and Vic (Mel Sharples himself!) Tayback as the two lowlifes. Third, their plot involves a bank manager and his family, and the kid is little Ronny Howard, on break from The Andy Griffith Show. Fourth, it was put out more than once, originally as this movie in 1961, then re-released with new footage as Door to Door Maniac in 1967. I've heard that the second version has at least some of the same actors in new footage, but they've changed weight and appearance signifigantly and the new scenes are bumping up against the old so they're going through doors and whoa! Thirty pounds and different sideburns! This version is a pretty tense little thriller with Cash hijacking the house of bank manager Donald Woods (13 Ghosts) while Don's at work. With the Mrs. now at the point of a gun, Vic Tayback pays a visit to the bank and demands money, letting hubbie know if phone calls aren't made to the house on a regular basis, Cash will off the better half. But Tayback and Cash don't know that Woods made plans that very morning to leave his wife and head out of town with his mistress, so he might be making his life a little easier if he holds back on the money...

Look how close we were to The Man in Tweed.
    Cash is the real reason to watch this, and he's really not bad, playing a high strung psycho who likes to stalk around ranting one minute, then serenade his victim on the guitar the next. His choice of song? The title tune, natch. Tayback plays his scuzzo with gusto, as is expected; everybody else is a bit on the level of a sitcom from the period. The finale doesn't hold together real well, but it doesn't completely destroy the movie. But you have to give it to Johnny. He didn't do an erstaz Elvis movie for his first film role; he went out there in a proto-Tarantino flick (no profanity, but you get the idea) and did just fine. If that sounds good, track this one down. (I found it on TCM one night).

Horror of Party Beach (Iselin-Tenney Productions, 1964) Okay, thanks to those idiotic Medved bothers (no, I didn't forget the R) and whichever of their "books" it was featured in, this movie is ranked down near the bottom of the barrel. But looking at it again recently, it's actually a tongue-in-cheek romp that throws in several disparate elements to see what might stick on the entertainment wall. It ends up being a mix of a beach movie, a musical, an enviromental treehugger flick, and a monster movie - who exactly thought this was meant to be taken seriously? Probably the biggest misstep was the attempts at gore in the monster attack scenes, but they're not much either, mostly stage blood smeared on the victim. You know, the silly jokes, cornball slapstick, and goofy appearance of the monsters (with their oft-mentioned "mouthful of sausages") might have been a tip off. But noooo.

Who wants a dog? Hot and ready! Just reach in and grab one!
Everyone acts like the filmmakers were trying for Gone with the Wind II: Prissy's Revenge and failing. I personally think they succeeded admirably in making pretty much a one of a kind movie. The music is catchy, the acting is mostly non-existent, the monster suits are elaborate even if they are giggle inducing and if you're like me and enjoy your movies a little out there, by all means check this one out!

Three have pleased me, three is all it shall be. Tee hee. And always remember, you no longer need to wait one hour after eating to go swimming.

1 comment:

  1. My shame at ever having put money into the Medved's pockets knows no bounds. I did learn about some movies from their books, but man, what a couple of smarmy, superior creeps.