Tuesday, June 26, 2007

B- Movies

Ed here: Unlike most of my friends, I hate wasting time watching lousy movies. I've always left movie theters and turned off VCRs when I lost interest in what was on the screen. So the idea of paying money for pictures you KNOW are lousy going in...Here's a piece that appeared in the NY Times:
New DVDs


Warner Home Video has brought a very diverse group of 12 films together into four box sets collectively called “Cult Camp Classics.” Unsurprisingly, not all of them are cult films (if there is any fan frenzy over John Guillermin’s “Skyjacked,” it is certainly muted); a few aren’t even campy (Howard Hawks’s “Land of the Pharaohs” could be the most down-to-earth costume epic ever made); and none of them would qualify as classics, even in the Ed Wood pantheon.

What these films have in common is a starless obscurity that makes them difficult to release into the name-driven DVD market. If the condescending “cult camp” label gives them a commercial hook, I guess that’s for the good, at least as long as it means getting prints as carefully restored and transfers as technically perfect as these.

With a clean face and pressed clothes, even a desperately impoverished drive-in picture like Edward Bernd’s “Queen of Outer Space” (1958) can make a good impression. One of a large number of low-budget films from the Allied Artists library now owned by Warner Brothers, this tale of virile American astronauts landing on a Venus populated by scantily clad women (Zsa Zsa Gabor among them) probably looks better now than it ever did at the drive-in. With its once-faded DeLuxe color pumped back up to something like its original intensity, William P. Whitley’s cinematography takes on the Pop Art shimmer of Pedro Almodóvar’s early films, a crazy quilt of violently mismatched hues.


Poor Dana Andrews comes in for a beating in the box Warners has titled “Terrorized Travelers.” This former A-list star, who had become the embodiment of the returning World War II veteran in William Wyler’s “ Best Years of Our Lives” (1946), was deep into a struggle with alcoholism by the time he appeared as the traumatized ex-fighter pilot in Hall Bartlett’s 1957 “Zero Hour!” and as the embattled husband and father in a duel with thrill-seeking teenagers in the 1967 “Hot Rods to Hell.”

The second film, in particular, draws on Mr. Andrews’s 1940s stardom, pairing him with his “State Fair” co-star Jeanne Crain under the direction of John Brahm, another ’40s figure. In a plot line that could be a parody of a World War II campaign picture, Mr. Andrews plays a debilitated authority figure (he can’t drive as a result of a devastating car accident) trying to transport his wife and children across the California desert to what seems like a grim new life managing a small-town motel.

The family’s caravan of middle-class decency is attacked by speed-crazed youths in souped-up cars, urged on by a decadent blonde played by Mimsy Farmer. The film may be stiffly executed, but its underlying anger and bitterness are hard to shake. Given the year of its making, “Hot Rods to Hell” may represent one of the last times that the aging, pre-boomer generation got to have its cranky say in a movie industry that would soon shut out most voices over 40.

for the whole thing go here http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/26/movies/homevideo/26dvd.html?_r=1&ref=movies&oref=slogin
Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Ed here: The sad thing here is the Dana Andrews appearance. He was a major actor and a damned good one. He did four or five noirs that were notable including "Laura" and "Fallen Angel." I always saw him as the spiritual brother of Robert Ryan, opposite in only one way--in Ryan despair became rage; in Andrews it became sorrow. Very quiet sorrow. And very quiet sorrow has no business in a film called "Terrorized Travelers."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Note: "Hot Rods To Hell" was originally a made-for-t.v. film that was considered too strong for television audiences and released to theatres. I remember seeing as a kid and remember it as being fairly intense.
-Brian O'Connor