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Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot
Friday, June 30, 2006
It's A Canadian Fact
I mock my Canadian pals, but I do want to wish them a happy Canada Day, which is celebrated tomorrow, July 1. Which is a Saturday, which means they don't get a day off of work. Nice one, eh.

I was thinking of the great SCTV episode where the janitors went on strike, so station owner Guy Caballero (Joe Flaherty) simulcast Canadian Broadcasting Corporation programming to stay on the air. Even though I'm not very familiar with CBC's notoriously dull programming of the 1970's, the SCTV show parodies are dead on, including the brief IT'S A CANADIAN FACT segments, in which we learn that Canada celebrates Thanksgiving in October, so they must have invented it.

Other segments include John Candy as MAGNUM, P.E.I. (a private eye battling potato thieves on Prince Edward Island) and a mockery of the "Canadian hoser classic" (as John Charles says) GOIN' DOWN THE ROAD. I haven't yet watched the real film, but after seeing the hilarious SCTV parody, I feel as though I have.

Posted by Marty at 2:37 PM CDT
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Dang Ol' Tripod
Thanks to the whole two of you who left a comment for me in a previous post. I'm also now not receiving an email notification whenever a comment is posted, so thanks a lot for that, Tripod.

I may not do much blogging for a few days. Tolemite is coming to town this weekend. I'll be working on Monday (my company is notoriously stingy with days off) and hopefully having a good time outside on Tuesday. Hope you have a happy July 4th. For the Canadian contingent that reads this site, July 4 is the day the United States celebrates its independence from the British Empire. Next, I'll explain to you why we celebrate Thanksgiving in November...the way it's supposed to be, you hosers.

I couldn't find it, but you may remember me posting about KILLDOZER once. Yep, KILLDOZER, the movie where some macho TV leading men fought an alien-possessed bulldozer on a deserted island. Well, here's a TV GUIDE advertisement for the movie:

Oh, yeah, you know you wanna see it. Kick some 'dozer ass, Clint Walker!

Posted by Marty at 12:05 AM CDT
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Thursday, June 29, 2006
Holy Cow

Yes.  You know him, you love him.  Don't ever forget him.  A rapping Harry Caray.

Posted by Marty at 10:50 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, June 29, 2006 10:52 AM CDT
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A Little Confusing
I don't know if you can notice it, but Tripod has been messing with its blog template. In some ways, it's a bit easier to manage and change things, but I think the comments section may be screwed up. I was over at Katie Cohen's blog (see the sidebar), and a comment I left on her post was missing. Then I logged in to Tripod and I could see there were 2 comments on that post--one was mine.

If you get around to it, please do me a favor and leave a comment to this post. Doesn't have to be anything fancy or elaborate. I just want to know if comments are getting through or if you can read them.

Instead of taking you to a different page to edit and create blog entries, Tripod now puts a window over the current page, I imagine using Java or something like it. One downfall is that, while the window shows up fine over the regular page, if I have an imbedded video or an image, like that MONSTER SQUAD video below, the window falls behind the video, making some buttons inaccessible to me.


Posted by Marty at 8:51 AM CDT
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Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Gopher Meets The Monsters
Following up on my KIDS FROM C.A.P.E.R. post from weeks ago, here's another TV series I used to watch on Saturday mornings. And like C.A.P.E.R., I think it was only on about a year. I'd like to see it again though. THE MONSTER SQUAD had a great premise: a nebbishy caretaker of a wax museum had a super-duper "crime computer" that brought to life statues of Count Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster and the Wolf Man. Naturally, he used them to fight crime.

Of note is that the caretaker, Walt, was played by Fred Grandy, only about a year or so before he began his long-running gig as Gopher on THE LOVE BOAT (and long before he became a U.S. Congressman from Iowa).

Here's the opening titles to THE MONSTER SQUAD (no relation to the "Wolfman got nards" movie of the same name):

Posted by Marty at 12:45 AM CDT
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Monday, June 26, 2006
Does He Talk Or Just Hit?
Juanita Bartlett’s dialogue for “Find Me If You Can” features another great “Rockfordism” that adds much to actor James Garner’s portrayal of the character. While fussing over his son, who has come home from another night at work sporting a cut next to his eye, Rocky (Noah Beery, Jr.) sputters, “Another two inches to the left, and you’d be missing that eye.” Without missing a beat, the optimistic Jim responds, “Well, look at it this way. Two inches to the right, and it woulda missed me altogether.”

“Find Me If You Can” stars two guests who would go on to amass tremendous success on television: Joan Van Ark (her name is misspelled “Arc” in the titles), who spent more than a decade as one of the original stars of the nighttime soap KNOTS LANDING, and Paul Michael Glaser, whose megahit STARSKY & HUTCH debuted on ABC less than a year after this episode aired on NBC.

A young woman (Van Ark) drops by Rockford’s trailer late at night and hires him to find a missing person: herself. Obviously frightened and on the run from somebody, she gives Jim three days pay to see if he can track her down, presuming that if Rockford can find her, then so can whomever she’s running from. Rockford, with a bit of help from police buddy Sgt. Becker (Joe Santos), learns her name, address and basic information, but the case doesn’t stop there. Someone else is on Van Ark’s trail: her ex-boyfriend, a mobster named Ralph Correll (Glaser), who wants back the $50,000 she stole from him.

NBC and the ROCKFORD production team were still battling each other over the humor content of the series with Garner, producer Stephen J. Cannell et al. wanting more (a la MAVERICK) and the network wanting a straight-forward detective show like MANNIX. That probably explains the climax, which offers a seriously tough Rockford pointing guns at mobsters and nearly choking the life from Correll. Garner is very good in the scene, but it’s not what he--and we--really wanted from the character.

It’s a good episode with a good gimmick, one that story writer Roy Huggins must have been enamored with. The plot bears a resemblance to GIRL ON THE RUN, a 90-minute TV-movie (before there was such a thing) that served as the pilot for the esteemed ‘50s private-eye series 77 SUNSET STRIP, which was produced by Huggins and written by Marion Hargrove from Huggins’ story.

Posted by Marty at 6:06 PM CDT
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Sunday, June 25, 2006
I just watched the trailer for an upcoming Nicolas Cage movie titled THE WICKER MAN. It's a remake of a British movie from the early 1970's, which was not widely seen at the time, due to distribution troubles, but has since grown a reputation as a cult favorite. The original WICKER MAN stars Edward Woodward, later an American household name as the star of THE EQUALIZER, and Christopher Lee, and it was written by the renowned Anthony Shaffer, whose credits include the brilliant mystery SLEUTH.

The remake, directed by Neil LaBute, appears awful, judging from the trailer and from comments by LaBute about changes he has made to the source material. One such change, making the Cage character a father, sounds like a deadly one. Woodward was a virgin in the original picture, a character trait that was of utmost importance both to his character's reactions to the situation he was in and to the plot. I can't go into much more of THE WICKER MAN without getting into spoiler territory, but LaBute's updating of Shaffer's original screenplay (which was sensitively directed by Robin Hardy) seems on initial reflection to be fatal. The trailer goes to great lengths to make the remake look stupid, including a car crash, killer bees, and a gender switching of Lee's character, who is portrayed by Ellen Burstyn in the new film.

THE WICKER MAN by Hardy, Shaffer, Woodward and Lee is a unique horror film and a thoughtful one that delves into a peculiar culture--Paganism--and dares to pit that religion against Christianity, personified by Woodward's uptight policeman. The plot finds Woodward arriving on a remote Scottish island to search for a missing little girl and getting a complete runaround from the entire village, including the girl's mother, a sexy barmaid who performs a wild naked dance (Britt Ekland), and Lord Summerisle (Lee), who owns the island. Shaffer structures it as a mystery and keeps the audience--and Woodward--guessing right up to its powerful climax.

Thinking back on THE WICKER MAN, it seems likely that almost everything about it that makes it unusual and fascinating will likely be jettisoned by a Hollywood studio attempting to dumb it down for the 16-year-olds: the lead's virginity, the otherworldly Scottish locations (the new film is set in the U.S., but filed in Canada), the nudity and eroticism (extremely important to the story), the unusual folk songs, the downbeat ending.

Perhaps the marketing people are making the new WICKER MAN look stupider than it really is (it wouldn't be the first time), but I hold out little hope that it will be a good movie.

Posted by Marty at 12:01 AM CDT
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Saturday, June 24, 2006
Fight! Fight!
A few days ago, I wrote about watching TWIN DRAGON ENCOUNTER, which is a terrible Canadian action movie starring a pair of twin martial artists, Michael and Martin McNamara. Something I didn't mention was the ridiculous theme song. It's one of the funniest things I've ever heard. It's called "Right to Fight" or something like that and repeats lyrics like, "We're gonna fight for our right to fight." I don't know what that means, but it's a remarkably cheesy '80s power rock tune and you need to hear it. So here's the opening title sequence of TWIN DRAGON ENCOUNTER. It'll also give you the chance to witness the McNamara brothers and how desperately they tried to model themselves after the great god Lee Horsley.

And don't forget--you got to fight...for your fight.

Posted by Marty at 10:45 AM CDT
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Thursday, June 22, 2006
A Talking Monkey?
I don't want to write too much about it now, because I've written a review to appear in next week's The Hub, but let me highly recommend to you KISS KISS BANG BANG. Fucking jagoff Champaign-Urbana theater managers never brought this terrific movie to town late last year, I guess because they had to have 8 or 9 screens free to play KING KONG on. KISS KISS BANG BANG is a lot better than KING KONG, and it didn't help its cause that Warner Brothers gave it an arthouse-type release. That made no sense, as it's definitely a mainstream action/comedy, albeit a very quirky, offbeat one that may not mesh well with the dopier among us. Regular arthouse patrons probably had little patience for the violence and raucous humor, meaning it probably played in a lot of empty movie houses.

KKBB was written and directed (his first time) by Shane Black, who wrote LETHAL WEAPON, LAST ACTION HERO and THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT and became one of Hollywood's most expensive screenwriters. KKBB is a perversion of sorts of those dumbass action movies that made him rich. It spins '80s buddy-cop movies and '40s detective mysteries with high style and humor.

Robert Downey, Jr. stars as a petty thief who becomes the reluctant partner of "Gay Perry", an L.A. private eye, played by Val Kilmer. The two stumble onto a twisty murder plot reminiscent of THE BIG LEBOWSKI, and like that movie, the plot plays second fiddle to the broad cast and rat-tat dialogue. Michelle Monaghan, whom I recall from her brief stint as a regular on BOSTON PUBLIC, is the female lead, and does a surprisingly professional job keeping up with her fast-talking male costars. Corbin Bernsen, of all people, has a terrific role that might very well be, with the exception of MAJOR LEAGUE, the best part he's ever had in a feature.

At home tonight, I began watching POLICE WOMAN, thanks to Netflix. I have no idea why Sony decided to put this '70s cop show on DVD, but I'm glad they did. I really don't recall seeing much of it when I was a kid, even though it followed THE ROCKFORD FILES on Friday nights for awhile. I'll write more on POLICE WOMAN after I've had a chance to watch a few episodes, but it seems pretty solid. Angie Dickinson, 42 at the time and looking stunning, starred as an undercover cop with trusty Earl Holliman as her boss and Ed Bernard (THE WHITE SHADOW) and Charles Dierkop as her colleagues.

Posted by Marty at 11:06 PM CDT
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Won't Kill For It, Won't Marry For It
“The Big Ripoff” contains one of the great ROCKFORD FILES lines. After getting his ass kicked by a pair of thugs, Rockford is tended to by a young woman whom he had picked up hitchhiking that day. As she examines his cuts and bruises, she asks Rockford, “Is there anything you won’t do for money?” His reply: “Well, I won’t kill for it, and I won’t marry for it. Other than that, I’m open to about anything.” That explains the Jim Rockford character about as well as any lengthy backstory could.

The hitchhiker is played by Jill Clayburgh, just two years before breaking into motion picture stardom in GABLE AND LOMBARD and SILVER STREAK and four years before her first Academy Award nomination for AN UNMARRIED WOMAN. Her guest role here, despite getting top billing for it, is actually quite slight and tangential to the story. She’s cute and appealing, though.

Robert Hamner’s script, based on a Roy Huggins story reportedly recycled from the Darren McGavin series THE OUTSIDER, which also was about a down-on-his-luck private eye, finds Rockford (James Garner) talking his way into an insurance case where the company paid off a $400,000 life insurance policy. Jim believes the victim, Steve Nelson (Fred Beir), may have faked his death and split the purse with his wife (a young Suzanne Somers), who’s living it up alone in Europe. Rockford’s nose for money (more specifically, a 5% recovery fee) takes him to Almeria, California, where he (again) runs afoul of the local fuzz (Kelly Thordsen) and a couple of gun-waving goons while following clues.

ROCKFORD writers were frequently unwilling to wrap their mysteries up in neat packages, and “The Big Ripoff” ends with its plot just barely complete. Character-actor fans will enjoy Bruce Kirby (Bruno’s dad) as an art gallery owner and frequent heavy Warren Vanders as a mechanic. Also of note is Mike Post and Pete Carpenter’s better-than-average score, which plays beautifully over the otherwise-silent prologue set in Europe (but shot on the Universal lot).

Posted by Marty at 10:59 PM CDT
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