A real mixed bag in this post. Regional sleaze, bikers, magic, and two very different noirs. Movies are fun guys!
041 02-01 Murder on the Emerald Sea (1973) 3/5
Vinegar Syndrome do it again, digging out a previously thought lost film, this time presented on an extremely limited edition DVD. Someone is killing the winners of the “Artists & Models” ball on the fancy cruise ship Emerald Seas, so a detective gets rooked into going undercover in drag to solve the mystery. This one might be one of the campiest films I’ve seen in a long time, and while it’s certainly cheap and goofy, it was pretty funny. Plus they somehow got Henny “Take my wife, please!” Youngman and Johnny “Tarzan” Weissmuller to cameo in it. Maybe if you’re lucky, VS will stream it on there streaming application when it goes live, see last blog for details.
042 02-02 Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay (2012) 4/5
Ricky Jay is arguably the best card magician living today. Most will probably recognize him from his acting career in such films as BOOGIE NIGHTS and the TV series DEADWOOD. I’m a huge fan, and as such I really enjoyed this documentary. It follows his path and career in magic. He’s cagey about personal details, says he left his family when he was seventeen but never explains the details. Instead he goes into the lives and experiences with the magicians he learned from. Lots of great clips, card tricks that will melt your brain in ways that flashy magicians like David Copperfield and even my beloved Penn & Teller never do. So it gets a recommend from me both as a look at Ricky Jay, and as a history of card magic.
043 02-05 The Stranger (1946) 4/5
Orson Welles directs this one, playing a Nazi war criminal hiding in a small American town, with with war crimes special agent Edward G. Robinson hot on his heels. This one is a top notch noir and Welles’ direction is stunning. Even basic set-ups are dazzling in composition. Add in a dead on cast (Loretta Young more than holds her own as Welles’ unknowing wife) and a tight script and this is one hell of a film. The only problem with it is that it slipped into public domain, so it’s tricky to find a copy that does the cinematography justice. The version I watched was shit transfer wise, but it’s such a damned fine film that you can look past it. I’ll have to track down a better copy.
044 02-06 Scarlet Street (1945) 4/5
Edward G Robinson is at his meekest in this noir directed by the great Fritz Lang. He plays a schlubby, lovesick clerk who runs into a girl one night, and ends up getting manipulated in typical Femme Fatale fashion. Lang pulls no punched, the film is desperate from the start and the fall seems never ending. One of the more emotionally brutal noirs you’ll see.
045 02-07 Angels From Hell (1968) 3/5
Pretty much a lost genre now, the biker picture. This one was quite fun though. A guy comes back to town, gets his bike gang back together and start hell raising all over town. It’s funny that they try to portray the gang sympathetically as people who just want to their own thing without hassle from society, man, a be free! The problem is, they’re a bunch of assholes. so you never really feel sorry for the guy as he tries to keep his gang together and what not. Still fun though.
It was interesting watching these. Edward G. Robinson was considered a leading man. I couldn’t imagine someone looking like he does being a leading man these days. Times sure have changed, we’re much more superficial right? I think the closest actor we have to him would be Paul Giamatti, who is about hundred times better looking, but rarely gets leading parts despite being amazing in everything he does.
A friendly reminder, it would be cool if you could kick some bucks to the Vinegar Syndrome crowdfunder I talked about last time since they are in their final week.