Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Devils and Ken Russell

Ken Russell on the set of Tommy (1975)


The great visionary madman, director Ken Russell died November 27th at the age of 84, leaving behind a collection of films that were both visually stunning, intelligently written and always, and I mean always, just a little twisted.

Probably best known to mainstream audiences as the director of the 1975 film adaptation of the Who's rock opera Tommy, and as anyone who can remember the twitching face of Tina Turner's Acid Queen could tell you, Russell was  master of creating an image that was both seductively attractive while at the same time, mind-numbingly repulsive.



I'll admit that I am not nearly the fan of his first two major films, Women in Love and The Music Lovers. While both are brilliant, striking films that cover adult subject matter in an intelligent and compelling manner, they simply are just not weird enough for me to enjoy as much as Russell's later work. 

So don't get me wrong, both of these films, especially, Women in Love are well worth watching, but for me, Russell is at his best in his later work starting with 1971's The Devils in his embrace of a recurring, and compelling visual fixation that's a mixture of religious imagery with graphic sex and violence.




Watching classical actress Vanessa Redgrave writhing in sexual ecstasy as she fondles the femur of the priest she's caused to be burned at the stake and you really have no other choice but to either shirk back in total disgust or move ahead in total acceptance and appreciation.


Now don't get me wrong, because it's not like Ken couldn't make a bad film, it's just that even his bad films, such as 1975's Lisztominia, the whole mess is still so visually striking and well, just plain strange, that you can't help but have a good time, even if that means putting up with a feature length film starring Roger Daltrey, who as an actor is really a very good singer.
.



One of Russell's most successful features and which was also the film that introduced Hugh Grant to an American audience was the gloriously silly, Lair of the White Worm (1988). The ravishingly sexy Amanda Donohoe blasts across the screen as the perfect Russell woman. Beautiful, sardonic and very dangerous.




Personally, my very favorite Russell film was Salome's Last Dance, his play with-in a play version of Oscar Wilde's classic. Glenda Jackson, Stratford Johns and several other British stage greats are all a treat, but the completely over the top performance by Imogen Millais-Scott as Salome is stunning in its abandoned depravity.





Ken Russell was a man who was fascinated by our highest artistic goals and our lowest human vanities. He made films that were seductive on so many different levels intellectually and emotionally, and I for one am raising a glass to the man.

Ken Russell was an artist.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Classic Television Toy Commercials


Captain Action Advertisement

I've mentioned before just how badly I wanted a Captain Action doll when I was a kid, and how I never got one. The Captain, with his ability to change into numerous other characters was easily the coolest thing I had ever seen and when I never got one under the tree it was really disappointing.

Ah well.

Here's the original commercial that introduced the good Captain and as I'm sure you'll see, Captain Action was one of the great toys of the 1960's.




Mom was never really into getting me GI Joe's either, which I again never really understood. Heck back then Mom was a Republican and Matt and I had all sorts of toy guns, swords and other implements of destruction, but never the ultimate boy toy, GI Joe.

Here is an early GI Joe commercial introducing us to Astronaut Joe and his realistic space capsule.





In the mid-1970's I finally did get one GI Joe, but it really wasn't your normal Joe.

Instead, Mom got me Bulletman, the GI Joe superhero.

Bulletman joins the GI Joes

Not to say that Bulletman with his complete rip-off of the classic Fawcett superhero wasn't fun, but he really wasn't that much a Joe and much more of a superhero.




Speaking of ripping off other characters, in the last days of the original GI Joe run, it seems that the folks at Hasbro not only had run out of ideas, but had no hesitation about stealing other peoples ideas as well.

For example Mike Power, the Atomic Man

Mike Power, the Atomic Man


I've always wondered if the owners of ABC's Six Million Dollar Man ever thought about suing the toymaker for the obvious theft.









Now what my mom did let me have was Mego's, tons and ton's of Mego's.

Maybe it was a cost thing, but where I couldn't get a Joe if I tried, my mom got me just about all of the Superhero's, most of the Star Treks, including the Enterprise play set, the planet of the Apes toys and even the Universal Monsters.

Mom was one of Mego's best customers for a few years there.

Here is the original commercial for their World's Greatest Superhero's line




The Planet of the Apes toys were really well put together like most Mego toys with good looking uniforms and great looking faces.





The Star Trek doll's were nice, but the Aliens from the series were just fantastic. 

Here's the commercial that introduced these fantastic toys.





By the way, although the GI Joes were famous for their detail and quality, by the later part of the original run in the 1970's the quality really went downhill. Mike Power was a second rate Steve Austin, as this commercial clearly shows.




In fact, the Six Million Dollar Man was so cool that even his sidekick Oscar Goldman got his own doll......and commercial.



There's what ever 8 year old wanted, a doll that comes with a 70's sports coat and a briefcase.

Now that was exciting.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

More Gratuitous Sexy Girl Pictures from the 1970's

Time to build up the page count with more sexy pictures of pretty girls from the 1970's

I know, I know, my lack of artistic integrity is pathetic.


Jane Seymour 1975





Linda Carter's classic poster hung on millions of walls in the 1970's





A very young Victoria Principal, 1974



Fantastic shot of Farrah Fawcett by Andy Warhol





Friday, November 25, 2011

1964 - Fail-Safe


Poster for Fail-Safe (1964)


In 1964 the Cold War was in full swing with the Cuban Missile Crisis only a year old, the war in Vietnam growing hotter and the intercontinental ballistic missile tests that both the USA and the Russian’s were disguising as their space program were going spectacularly well, clearly demonstrating to both sides the ability to totally destroy each other in a nuclear inferno.


Bad for property values


Many films of the era reflected the fears that average people were feeling about the possibility of thermonuclear destruction. Movies such as On the Beach, The World, the Flesh and the Devil and of course Dr.Strangelove all were films that dealt with the end of the world with various degrees of intensity and humor. 


The War Room from Dr Strangelove (1964)

One of the best films of the era, and one that shares a surprisingly large amount of it’s plot with Strangelove was Sidney Lumets tale of bombers that refuse to be recalled and the attempts by the American government to somehow prevent total catastrophe, Fail-Safe.


Larry Hagman and Henry Fonda in Fail-Safe (1964)

With a powerful cast led by Henry Fonda as the President, a solid young Larry Hagman as his interpreter, giving voice to the Soviets, Dan O’Herlihy as an Air Force General asked to do the unthinkable, Fritz Weaver as an officer on the brink and Walter Matthau as a government consultant who thinks that since the facts are what they are, the US has no choice but to commit to a full attack, Lumet creates a stark, non flinching film, with a minimal soundtrack,  that plays more like a documentary then a piece of fiction.

Who is the matador?

The matador is facing the bull, and the dance to the death is in full swing, but everything is shaky, unclear, and then General Warren Black (Dan O’Herlihy), or Blackie as he is known to his friends wakes from his dream disturbed by what was there in his sleep.


Blackie dreams of the matador
Heading into his job at Strategic Air Command, Blackie stops to give a ride to his adjunct, Col. Cascio (Fritz Weaver), and stumbles into an ugly domestic scene where Cascio is fighting with his drunk father, a poor immigrant who hits his wife. Deeply embarrassed by what Blackie sees, Cascio and the general head to SAC.

Col. Cascio's family
It’s an average days at Strategic Air Command, although as always tension exist between the US and the USSR, there is nothing particularly interesting going on and everything is more or less peaceful. Visiting Congressman Raskob, played by future Boss Hogg, Sorrell Brooke questions the officer in charge about the possibility that something could go wrong, the General laughs and tells the Congressman that there are systems upon systems to prevent any kind of accident.


The War Room Situation Board

Which is of course when the big board in the war room suddenly lights up and automatic orders are sent out to have strategic nuclear bombers move out to their Fail Safe positions, Something the general mentions is a common occurrence.

Destination: Moscow

But what’s not so common is that once the planes reach their holding points, they keep on going, heading directly for the Soviet Union with their nuclear payloads. It’s seems that instead of sending out the recall codes, the computers have made an error and sent out the legitimate attack codes instead.


Edward Binns in Fail-Safe (1964)

Meanwhile on one of the bombers, Col. Jack Grady (Edward Binns) the attack group commander is trying to reach base to get his orders confirmed, but finds his radio is being jammed. So with no way to double check, Grady has no choice but to carry on with his instructions and continues on towards his primary target, Moscow.


Watching the "Big Board"

Back on the ground SAC command is in a panic as they desperately attempt to reach the bombers. At the White House in the basement bomb shelter, the President of the United States, played with full gravitas by Henry Fonda decides that since the planes are not responding to radio messages that there is no choice but to order fighter aircraft to shoot the bombers down.


Buck and the President speak to the Soviets

When the fighter aircraft meet with only limited success, the President along with his interpreter Buck (Larry Hagman) call the Soviet Chairman and inform him of the situation. Telling the Chairman about the danger to Moscow and offering full American support, the Soviets, all things considered take the news fairly calmly, and refuse the American offer of help, making clear that they will shoot down the planes themselves.


The battle as seen from the "War Room"

Unfortunately though, the Soviets are only able to shoot down a few of the planes leaving a few still in the air and heading toward the Soviet capital.

Back at SAC a panel is quickly assembled to discuss the options for how to handle the situation with one member Professor Groeteschele (Walter Matthau) making the case that like it or not, war was here, so Americas only option was to go for an all out attack and try to just “win”.

Discussion in the "War Room"

While the two sides bicker back and forth with America offering all help it can provide, but the Russian showing not unreasonable distrust, the world stands on the brink of full fledged nuclear war, when the President makes the Soviets an offer that will balance the scales and allow the world a chance at survival.


The President places a fateful call

The President orders Blackie to pilot a bomber over New York City and if Moscow is destroyed to drop a nuclear bomb over downtown Manhattan killing millions in the process, including Blackies wife and children as well as the First Lady.

It turns out that the Soviets have been jamming the planes radio in a misguided belief that this was all an American plot, but now allow SAC to communicate with the bombers, even putting Grady’s wife on the radio to convince him to stop, but believing that the broadcast is a trick, Grady continues on to Moscow and drops his load destroying the city.


Blackie prepares to follow his orders

Hearing the destruction of Moscow over the phone, the president orders Blackie to proceed with his mission. Injecting himself with a suicide needle as he drops the bomb over New York, Black whispers as he dies, “I am the matador”.

We see children playing in the streets, people going about their business cars driving down the street, birds taking off into the sky.


Birds fly for the last time from Manhattan


Everything freezes.

Everything goes to black.

Unlike Stanley Kubrick’s classic film, Fail-Safe is a serious event from beginning to end, and I guess that in a way that sort of works against it. Dr. Strangelove looks at the absurdity of mutual nuclear destruction, but Fail-Safe goes for a different tact, instead showing normal, decent people doing their best to cope with the unthinkable and failing.

Shot in a stark black and white with almost no soundtrack, Fail-Safe has a tight room intimacy that pulls the viewer in and truly makes you feel like you are in the room.

Fail-Safe is very much a relic of the early 1960’s and might not hold up as well with younger viewers as with people who actually lived though the area, but never the less, Fail-Safe is a well acted, brilliantly directed end of the world drama that 50 years later is still one of the best examples of its type.


Original Trailer for Fail-Safe (1964)



Thursday, November 24, 2011

1948 - Melody Time

Melody Time (1948)


Going back to the earliest of the Silly Symphonies, Walt Disney had experimented with combining top notch animation and a variety of musical styles. Of course the most famous example, with it's powerful combination of classical music and brilliant animated sequences, is 1940's Fantasia. While Fantasia lasts as a legitimate animated classic, it was a financial failure on it's initial release, forcing Disney to re-evaluate where he wanted to go with his ideas on musical animation, if he was going to make the genre a success.




The obvious route and one that would prove financially anyway, more successful was to use modern music and more straightforward narrations, while still providing top notch animation.No doubt the formula worked, as seen in the films The Three Caballeros, Make Mine Music and the film we are looking at today, 1948's Melody Time.

Overseen by the great Jack Kinney, with sequences directed by Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Wilfred Jackson and Kinney himself, Melody Time uses a variety of animation styles and musical forms to create a funny, energetic and colorful explosion of animated goodness for the entire family to enjoy.

Melody Time is a hodgepodge combination of American folk tales, left over bits from earlier pictures and a couple of shorts all strung together into a messy but enjoyable whole.

The first section if the Legend of Johnny Appleseed, with singer and Jack Benny sidekick, Dennis Day providing the voices and the melodies as he tells the highly Disneyfied story of the real John Chapman and his effort to spread apple orchards across the newly settled "West".





Next up comes Little Toot, a fairly conventional Disney children's carton livened up by colorful animation and fantastic vocals by the always under appreciated Andrews Sisters.





Tree's, based on the poem by the Joyce Kilmer is the slow point of the film for me anyway, but I still admite it's attempt at something different and more serious, and there is no argument that the animation is top notch.

For the final two pieces, Melody Time brings on the team of Donald Duck, his pal, Jose Caricoa and their new found friend the Aracuan Bird in the colorful and surreal Blame It On The Samba.






Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers narrate the films high point, the slapstick tall tale of Pecos Bill.

The toughest cowboy in the history of the West comes to life with style, humor and eve a little pathos, making for one of the best short works of the entire Disney pantheon.







In modern releases Pecos Bill undergo's some minor editing taking out his smoking, but other then that, Melody Time is available on DVD in its entirety, and is a film that the kids can enjoy, but so can mom and dad.






Wednesday, November 23, 2011

1964 - The Killers


The Killers (1964)


It’s a bight sunny California morning when Charlie Storm, played with intelligent menace by the always threatening Lee Marvin and his eager young associate Lee walk into a school for the blind and make their way to the Principals office. Once inside the men begin terrorizing the lady principal, forcing her into telling them where to find teacher Johnny North, played with tragic resignation by revolutionary independent director John Cassavetes.


Lee Marvin in The Killers (1964)

As the two thugs make their way to the upstairs classroom where North is teaching, the principal calls up to the classroom warning North of the danger, but the tired looking man just sits down and waits for the two men to arrive and puts up no struggle as they shoot him to death.


John Cassavetes in The Killers (1964)

Later, after leaving town, Charlie tells Lee that he is not comfortable with how this assignment has gone off. First off, it seems to him that they got paid a lot more then the hit they had carried out seemed to be worth. More importantly, Charlie doesn’t understand why Johnny just sat there and hadn’t made any attempt to get away or save his life and he wants to know why, the guy just waited to be plugged.


And so begins director Don Siegel’s loose adaptation, from a script by Star Trek's Gene L. Coon, of Ernest Hemingway’s short story, The Killers, that ditches Nick Adams and the rest of Papa’s story and the earlier 1946 filmed version, but leaves behind the bare bones tale of a man waiting calmly for a deserved death. As Charlie and Lee search for why Johnny North just allowed himself to be killed, director Siegel transforms the story into a noir version of Citizen Kane.


Lee Marvin in The Killers (1964)

Don Siegel always had a deft touch with crime films such as Charley Varrick or Dirty Harry and this 1964 film is no exception. Originally filmed as a television movie NBC decided The Killers was far too violent for broadcast, and gave it back to Universal who released it in theaters instead.

Lee Marvin leads an exceptional cast that provides strong performances all around. Clu Gulager is great as the younger hit man Lee, carrying himself as a young man who could just as easily be working as a car salesman as a hired killer. Angie Dickinson plays the lady in distress who might not really be that distressed. John Cassavetes plays a tough guy who is smart enough to know he is over his head and there is going to be hell to pay. And best of all in his only turn on screen as a villain, Ronald Reagan in his last feature role, plays a psycho gangster named Jack Browning who is one of the nastiest pieces of work to grace the screen up to Dennis Hopper gave us Frank Booth in BlueVelvet.

Ronald Reagan in The Killers (1964)

Okay, maybe not that extreme, but still, it’s kind of fun to watch Ron beat up girls and murder cops.

If you have ever seen Pulp Fiction, then The Killers is a crime film you almost have to see. The two hit men played by Marvin and Gulager are the spiritual godfathers of Jules and Vincent. And the entire feel of the film, from tight dialogue to brightly lit California streets, is an obvious influence on the Los Angeles of Quentin Tarantino.

If you haven’t paid much attention to the work of Don Siegel, you're missing out on one of Hollywood’s finest directors and The Killers is easily one of his very best films.



Original film trailer for The Killers (1964)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

1970 - David Bowie Finds His Inner Alien

David Bowie 1969


It was 1969 and David Bowie just knew he had a hit in the making with his latest song, Space Oddity. After several years of struggling to get noticed, having to change his name after the creepy little  guys from the Monkees stole it and more or less just not having the mainstream audience "get" him, he had the right song.

The only issue though, was how to present himself when he sang it.

Should he present his new song as a nice normal, long haired hippie guy?






No, maybe that's wasn't it, there were after all a million long haired guys out there with their shirt open to the belly, and really that just wasn't David.

So maybe he should go just the opposite route and go for complete geekdom.

Bad haircut, thick glasses, that sort of thing.



Well maybe that would work, but honestly, just going out there and acting weird might not be enough.

Then it hit him, if he was going to sing about a spaceman, then just maybe it would work better if Bowie WAS the spaceman.




And what do you know, that version was the one that worked.

Monday, November 21, 2011

1914 - The Oz Film Manufacturing Company

Ozma of Oz  (1915)

In 1914, L. Frank Baum, the creator of the classic fantasy world of Oz, decided to get into the film business to produce movies for the entire family. The studio lasted for less then two years and was never a financial success.

While never big money makers, three of the studio's production's, all based on Baum's Oz books, truly stand the test of time and are not only lovely silent films, but also Oz stories created by Baum directly for the screen that any fan of the Oz books, should do themselves a favor and watch.


The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1915)

The first film was a fairly bare bones adaptation by Baum of his 1913 book The Patchwork Girl of Oz, filmed in a slapstick manner and with very limited special effects or plot development, it still manages to capture the feeling of the early Oz books.





The next feature on the other hand is a much more in-depth fantasy with great characters and some creepy villains  The only issue with The Magic Cloak of Oz is that it's not actually based on an Oz book, but instead is taken from another Baum story, Queen Zixi of Ix.



The Cowardly Lion, The Magic Cloak of Oz (1915)


Still, The Magic Cloak takes the non-Oz story and throws in several Oz characters like the Cowardly Lion and turns the story into an adventure in the magic land of Oz.



The Roly-Rouges, The Magic Cloak of Oz (1915)


The Magic Cloak of Oz concerns two regions of Oz that find themselves under attack by the dreaded Roly-Rouges and the search for the one magic item that can save all of Oz. The story is pretty standard but the Roly-Rouges are actually pretty creepy for a silent children's film. Their unchanging faces make for one of the creepier silent film images I've seen in awhile.








Finally we have what is a very loose adaptation of both The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Land of Oz titled, His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz. Where the Scarecrow and the Tin Man with a small amount of help from the Lion, rescue Dorothy from her burden as a slave to the evil witch Mombi.


His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz (1915)

Mombi, who looks more than a little like the great Margaret Hamilton, is a nasty piece of work who is loyal to the evil King Krewl of Oz.


The Tin Man and the evil witch Mombi, His Majesty the Scarecrow of Oz (1915)


But in the end the Scarecrow with some help from the Wizard and the Tin Man's trusty ax, soon enough set things right in Oz and in the end even place the great Ozma on the throne making for a very happy ending.






These films suffer from a heavy use of slapstick and a bit too broad a pantomie, though who's to say by 1915 standards. And the scripts are weak in places, and yet these films are honest to goodness pieces of the story and being from Baum himself are nice little side pieces to the ltierary classics that spawned them.





Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Night With Sid





Look, I'm not going to make the claim that John Ritchie aka Sid Vicious was any kind of real musician, but damm it if he didn't really want to be.

One of the founders of both The Flowers of Romance and Siouxsie and the Banshees and then later the "bass" player for the Sex Pistols, there is no doubt that Sid was mostly on stage to provide the perfect Punk "image", and yet there is something, well, there is no other world for it then, brilliant version of the classic crooner, My Way.

I admit it starts off in this horribly irritating manner, but once Sid gets going, the result is pure chaos and an amazing performance.




Oh sure, everybody including Sid's mom ends up in the same state as Nancy Spungen, but the song rocks and convinced me that Billy Idol ended up with Sid's career.

By the way here's a bit from the Great Rock n Roll Swindle with Sid moving around Paris being obnoxious, stoned and threatening, well as threatening as a 100 pound herion addict can get.




This piece I enjoy, not because of Sid walking around making a nodding fool of himself, but instead because of the really cool version of, L'Anarchy Pour Le UK, that the street musicians perform. It's probably one of my two or three very favorite cover songs ever.

Anyway back to Sid performing, in his attempts to replace John Lydon in the Sex Pistols, Malcolm Mclaren recorded tracks with Paul Cook, Steve jones and even Sid on lead vocals to see if one of them could step in.

Now none of the boys really could compare to Lydon's ferocious vocals, but the attempts do make for some enjoyable tracks, with Sid having recorded remakes of a couple of tunes first made popular by Eddie Cochran.

First Sid get's ready for a busy day in this cover of Something Else.





This last video is actually far more conventional with Sid riding around the countryside on a motorcycle singing his cover of C'mon Everybody.




Sid really was just a kid in way over his head, but at the same time I understand why he has become such an iconic image. Despite everything there was something about Ritchie that was charismatic and to young people anyway cool.

It's just a shame that the kid didn't live long enough to get his life together, though I guess after stabbing nacy there really was no turning back.




Saturday, November 19, 2011

1968 - Wild in the Streets

Wild in the Streets, American International Pictures (1968)


I was always a big fan of the 1970's science fiction film, Logan's Run, the classic Michael York film about a man on the run from a society that kills you when you turn 30. The films basic premise of the ultimate society of the young excited me as a kid and amuses me as an old man. 1968's Wild in the Streets is a great little trash film, that while not actually connected in any ways to the 70's film, is still, at least in the Wold Newton manner, a prequel to Logan's Run






Produced by the heavy handed and yet brilliant team of Samuel Z Arkoff and James H. Nicholson, for their American International Pictures, and helmed by future Across the 110th Street, director Barry Shear, from a screenplay by Robert Thorn, Wild in the Streets is every 15 year old's wet dream of revolution and every adults ultimate "get the hell, off my lawn" nightmare.With it's bizarre combination of hippie's, revolutionaries, communists and fascism, Wild in the Streets has something in it to both amuse and offend people of all ages.

Max Flatow, played as a boy by future Brady Buncher, Barry Williams, is a typical middle classed American boy who just can't stand his parent's, and really who can blame him, his father is a spineless wimp and his mother is an overbearing shrew played by Shelley Winters. Growing up into former star of television's The Legend of Jessie James, Christopher Jones, Max blows up his father's car and leaves home


Christopher Jones as Max Frost, Wild in the Streets (1968)

A few years later, our burgeoning revolutionary, now known as Max Frost, is the millionaire lead singer of The Trooper's, a rock band with one of the best line-ups of talent this side of the Hong Kong Cavaliers. Their bassets has a hook, but is still a brilliant player, the drummer is a famous black revolutionary, played by a young Richard Pryor, Sally, the pretty girl on keyboards is a former child star turned radical, and the 15 year old lead guitarist is also the bands lawyer.


Richard Pryor in Wild in the Streets (1968)

One night Max's mother sees him playing on television. Recognizing her long missing son, the shallow Mrs. Flatow excited to see that she is related to a star and makes a beeline to one of his concerts and barges her way into Max's life. Shortly afterwards though while driving Max's Rolls with the band in tow, she rolls the car, killing a small child in the process, and enraging Max.who sends her away and tells her to never try to see him again.

Max is very aware that more than 50% of the United States is under 25 years old and he is determined to see the law changed so that 18 year old get the vote. Max becomes involved with the Senate campaign of Johnny Fergus, played in his normal slightly twisted middle class manner by the great Hal Holbrook, who really doesn't actually care to much about what the youth want, but is all in favor of getting their votes.

While playing a concert in support of Fergus, Max doesn't just support Johnny's idea of giving the vote to 18 year old, but instead makes a a speech and then sings a song about giving the vote to 14 year olds instead.

Taken by surprise, but recognizing that the majority is with Max, Johnny makes a deal to support giving the vote to 15 year old instead. Soon enough with Max's support, the Constitution is amended and everyone 15 and older gets the vote.

Not long afterwards, when a congressmen dies, Max's keyboardist, Sally Leroy (Diane Varsi), who is 25 years old and able to run, gets elected to Congress, and her first act is to introduce extremely popular legislation to lower the voting age, as well as the right to run for everything from Congress to the President to 14 years old.


As the youth movement grows and protesters cover Washington, the military kills 14 young people driving Max's youth rebellion into overdrive, which is symbolized by the song The Shape of Things to Come.




As the youth grow in power, people over 30 try to do whatever they can to retain power and stop the juggernaut of Max Frost's movement.But Max and his band spike the Washington DC water supply with LSD turning the entire population on and convincing a totally stoned Congress to pass the change in the Constitution.

Free to run for President, Max runs for President, as the Republican candidate, and easily wins becoming the youngest president in history.

Soon, with youth in power, new laws are passed requiring anyone over 30 to retire and everyone over 35 to be moved to special camps, where they are kept controlled through the use of LSD.




Max's mother is stunned to find herself in a camp and resists, while his father just sit's back and enjoys the trip, and Johnny Fergus hangs himself from a tree.

Hal Holbrook, Wild in the Streets (1968)




Flush in his victory Max is enjoying power but is thrown off when Fergus's 10 year old daughter tells him that he is old. So Max goes off for a few days to get his head together. While walking along a river, he finds a crawfish on a string and after killing it, is confronted by the three young boys,  who had made it a pet.

Max, sneers at the angry boys pointing out that they are too small to do much about it, and leaves. But as he goes one of the boys look at his friends and swears that they are going to put everybody over 10 "Out of business".

Wild in the Streets takes itself a bit too seriously to be great parody, but it still manages to poke not only the older generation with their stuffy, conservative nature, but also the younger generation with their willingness to follow a leader just because he looks good and can sing.

Shelley Winter's and Hal Holbrook both do a fine job of chewing the scenery as people who fool themselves into believing they can ride the movement, but who have another thing coming.And as Max, Christopher Jones does an excellent job of playing someone who is equal parts James Dean, Jim Morrison and Adolf Hitler.

It's not hard to see the society emerging at the end of Wild in the Street evolving over time to the domed cities of Logan's Run, although from the looks of things, just maybe the folks in the 20's had better look out.

From our pals at YouTube, here's the entire movie in one clip.








Friday, November 18, 2011

La Casa Dei Vampiri


Spanish Poster for, House of Dark Shadows (197o)


Cruising around the internet tonight and I ran across this Italian poster for the 1970 film House of Dark Shadows, that was just so fantastic that I just had to share it with everyone.

I plan to talk about the film in detail at some point, since this is really one of my very favorite really bad movies, but the poster just couldn't wait.

I do know this though, the movie in that poster was way, way better then the movie we got.



Thursday, November 17, 2011

1961 - The Future is Now!!!


The coolest helmet ever created. Beat this DEVO!


When Yuri Gagarin made his historic first space flight on April 12, 1961 followed on May 5th by Alan Shepard, the entire world got wrapped up with Space Fever.

For most of the next decade, leading up to the landing of Eagle in the Sea of Tranquility everybody was looking to the stars.

But nobody was looking quite as hard as kids.

Toys, games, books, posters, bubble gum cards, you name it and they made it.

So let's take a walk down memory lane when the future was bright, shiny and most important of all, here.



The Monkey in the Rocket (1962)

Written by Jean Bethell and drawn by cinema legend Sergio Leone, 1962's, The Monkey in the Rocket, tells the story of Sam and Bam two fictional moneys who are part of the space program, with one of them taking the a trip up and down into space.

Wonderfully written with great illustrations from Leone, the Monkey in the Rocket is a fine children's book on the early space race, and also a nice little collectible.




Space Travel (1969)

From the later days of the space race, Jeanne Bendick's 1969 book, Space Travel was a more realistic look at the upcoming Moon landing, with a look at what was on the table for the 1970's and 80's including our first voyage to Mars. A wonderfully written, scientifically challenging look at a future that never was.



I Walk in Space (1980)

My last book is actually from 1980, but Alexei Leonov's I Walk in Space, written and drawn by the first man to ever walk in space, is a fantastic first hand look at the Soviet space program written by one of their true hero's. While obviously not the full story, never the less, Leonov's book truly brings the reader into the excitement and enthusiasm of the Russian program and is a book I highly recommend to both kids and adults.


Moving away from the highbrow and into the absurd, I give you Space Food Stick's...



Space Food Sticks circa 1970

It's hard to describe the taste of Pillsbury's attempt to jump onto the space bandwagon. Space Sticks came in Peanut Butter and Chocolate, but neither one really tasted all that much like either Peanut butter or Chocolate.

Instead space sticks had this odd chalky taste, that resembled what was on the label but never quite managed to actually have any flavor.

But never the less, they were what the astronauts ate, and so very much like the horrible fake orange flavor of Tang, we ate the damm things all the time.

That's not to say that Space Food Sticks were the oddest combination of tying in food with outer space.

For example there's this interesting tie in from lunch meat producer Swift.



Swift Meat Premium circa 1962


 While the attempt to tie-in bologna with space travel is a bit of a push, the items Swift offered kids were actually pretty swell.




Swift Solar System map Premium circa 1962

This celestial map was a item you could get from sending in your Swift meat labels. I really like the art on this map, basic, but clear and all the space ships are just a nice touch.


A smaller item was this Space Race Card Game from 1963


Space Race Card Game circa 1963

Again nothing fancy, but the cover art is just too nice to ignore.

From the very later 1950's comes a board game based on a CBS television series about the near future and the upcoming exploration of the solar system, Men into Space.


Men into Space Board Game circa 1959

The box to this board game is nice enough, but what makes this game so spacial is the game board itself.



Men into Space Game Board


I was blown away the first time I ever saw the board for this game, the art is just about as perfect as anything I've ever seen.

Okay, that's it for today, I hope you all had fun, I know I did.

Looking this material up made my entire week.

To finish up here's a color shot of the great space helmet shown at the start of the post.



Tell me you wouldn't want to wear this into work.