Pedalers: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Oct. 2021 Edition, Vol. 400.6

bikes0PEDALERS:  CLASSIC FILM IMAGES PHOTO QUIZ, OCT. 2021 EDITION, VOL. 400.6

    In deference to the assertions of those who derive from great glee from splashing rain puddles onto the sidewalk strolling CSR editorial staff as they zoom by in their monster SUVs (decorated with a vast assortment of environmental bumper stickers meant to induce a finger wagging Green consciousness onto those who can’t quite read them as they’re wiping the highway drain residue out of their eyes), that the world will end tomorrow (if the apocalypse begins in Martha’s Vineyard, then we might have irrefutable proof that, indeed, there is a God) unless we heed their wolfish howls and surrender to their strategy of redressing supposed environmental abuses by burning through as muchbikesgif cash as possible (it’s a science thing that we anti-ozone taxpayers wouldn’t understand because we’re not empowered female Nobel laureates like AOC or Jerry Nadler), we present this month’s edition of America’s most bawdy game of intellectual flummery, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, always, by the makers of America’s favorite breakfast candy, SKITTLES, the last of the world’s edible confections not purloined by mainland China for use as an aphrodisiac. In this edition we present cinematic representations of an antiquated mode of self-propulsion-  the bike   -heretofore condemned by the Biden Administration as injurious to the White House’s continued pleading with OPEC for the makings of more combustible fuel (as explained by WH memorandum: “The reliance on non-consumptive vehicular transport would put an unjust, and frankly unAmerican, burden on the investable income of many of Congress’s most reliable contributors of kickbacks, a symbiotic shortfall which would prove detrimental to continued Congressional stagnation but is also probably Islamophobic, xenophobic and racist, and we’re not Trump!”) or impractical under AOC’s Green New Deal which discourages any mode of propulsion unencumbered by either windmill or solar panel. However, the following twenty five images are taken from films showcasing the use of pedaled conveyance in the years before America has capitulated to the sweet tranquilizers of insanity and stupidity. Your task is to mask up and identify all twenty five films (without the use of offensive pronouns, if you please) and convey your findings to our now suitably dry staff for evaluation. The first to correctly identify all twenty five films (no second place participation trophies here, Chuckles) will receive the all-powerful CSR Culture Shock Award, still protected by the Second Amendment, though non-transferable for cash or Ponzi scheme bond issues. Good luck.

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Posted in biography, books, Boston, Drive-In Movies, Italian cinema, Movies, photography, Romance, war movies, women, writing | 1 Comment

They Had Lenses Then: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Sept. 2021 Edition, Vol. 35mm

photo0They Had Lenses Then: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Sept. 2021 Edition, Vol. 35mm

Eschewing the usual mockery of political and social buffoons in the course of shamelessly circuitous introduction, current events demand that a passing dismissal of the criminally inept toddlers currently occupying the great swampland handed over to Pierre L’Enfant to plot the home of a future asylum of incompetence be necessary only to rescue the violently perplexed national sense of coherence and reason from a swift and expedient rush to the nearest vomitorium. And with that happy image in mind, we welcome you to the latest edition of America’s most eclaired (as opposed to acclaimed) morsel of cerebral pastry, the Classic Filmphotogif Images Photo Quiz, brought to you-  as always  -by those fine folks who provide a nutritionally impoverished world with SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition we feature those happy purveyors of the magical realm between reality and illusion (no, not White House speech writers), the (non-digital) photographer, as depicted in the cinema. Your task is to identify all twenty five films from which the following images are sourced. To make this edition all the more attractive, we have made this month’s edition 27 – 45% easier (depending on geographic location, ) to solve. Naturally, the first to correctly identify all twenty five images will receive the highly distinguished CSR Culture Shock Award, the preferred aperitif to ignite a night of shameless Rabelaisian carousing. Good luck.

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Posted in Audie Murphy, biography, books, Boston, Drive-In Movies, History, Mimsy Farmer, Musicals, politics, Romance, women, writing | 1 Comment

Exeunt, Joan: “Trog” (1970)

trog      “Trog”  (1970)

     When a trio of amateur spelunkers accidentally discover and unleash a living and frisky missing link from a shallow cave, naturally the interest of the world scientific community becomes secondary to thetrogOS interests of a local real estate developer whose role it is to be allowed to be recklessly and unexplainably petty while unrealistically interfering with the discovery until it’s rather domesticated nature is so provoked as to create civil disobedience of the type expected of and sadly typical of the climax of a creatively impoverished monster picture. This is Freddie Francis‘ “Trog”.

One of the most thankless labors of the film critic (presuming they are of a serious nature in approaching the cinema as an art form and not merely as a paid shill to sing hosannas over the latest visual illiteracy) is to sit through an offense such as “Trog”, a scandalously unimaginative and tepid offering which not only proves to be a thief of ninety healthy minutes from even the least discerning viewer’s life, but also makes an almost impossible task of breathing language into an intelligibly formed commentary aimed at a film so deliberately vacant, from conception to execution, in both its artistic anemia and thematic inertia. Applying additional insult to ennui, “Trog” signals the motion picture career curtain of one of Hollywood’s most enduring stars, Joan Crawford, being put through valedictory paces so demeaning they could only be considered cruel though, unfortunately, not so unusual punishment.

  To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandler-swain-reviews-nites-at-the-natick-drive-in/chandler-swain-reviews-nites-at-the-bellingham-drive-in/  

Posted in British films, Drive-In Movies, Freddie Francis, horror, Joan Crawford, Michael Gough, Movies, writing | 1 Comment

They Shoot Bad Movies Don’t They?: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Aug. 2021 Edition, Vol. 35MM

movie0They Shoot Bad Movies Don’t They?: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Aug. 2021 Edition, Vol. 35MM

   Despite Chairman Xi’s 2019 Xmas gift to the civilized world (and Vermont) in the form of a mildly annoying pandemic which not only destroyed the global economy but laid waste to millions of innocent lives (depending upon your particular geographic situation, consult your local authorities as to which is the greater priority), that profound think tank known as Hollywood has declared a reconstitution of purpose in their method of draining every cent of what remains of any compensatory emergency relief payments to the great unwashed from such unessential expenses as food and shelter, while the necessity of increasing subscriptions to endless streaming services in order to keep the champagne flowing among the supernal Olympians who provide what is shamelessly promoted as necessary cultural stimuli created by people who in the glory days of the big studios would most likely pass through the gates with a station much higher than lavatory attendants. If the continuance of a saturation of Xeroxed movie blandness is insufferable on the digitally enhanced idiot box (necessitating an investigation as to why the Grandad of Movie Awards has decided to silently eliminate such niceties as its past banishment of product produced and distributed for television from participation in its annual celebratory nomination process in its own by-laws), the same brain-deadening Far East market-bound pablum serving up ceaseless CGI conflagrations without a hint of interest in dialogue, character development or immersive human interaction is doubly insufferable when such imbecile offenses seem the only remaining options on the menu formoviegif reopening cinemas (at escalated prices), those faux rumpus room multiplexes which have already sucked the life out of the civilized theatrical experience. Which brings us to this month’s edition of America’s most annoyed monthly reminder that a cinema mind is a terrible thing to waste: the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those stubbornly patriotic distributors of SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition we celebrate the poor suckers who patronize the cinema, expecting a modicum of pleasure and usually emerging with alarmingly ground teeth. Thankfully the featured images are depictions of theater patrons as seen in the movies, so their universal rapture is in keeping with film’s ability to create illusion. Your task is to identify all twenty five films represented by the images and report your findings to the enlightened staff here at CSR. The first to correctly identify all twenty five will receive the CSR Culture Shock Award, the last honorarium guaranteed to get you a good table at the legendary Benny Fong’s House of Fong. Good luck.

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Posted in Andy Warhol, biography, books, Boston, comedy, Drive-In Movies, football, germ warfare, Ingrid Thulin, Jenny Agutter, Movies, music, religion | 2 Comments

…On Gossamer Wings: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, July 2021 Edition, Vol. 0G

alice0…On Gossamer Wings: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, July 2021 Edition, Vol. 0G

    With the current interest is privatized space travel capturing the popular imagination, and providing a welcome distraction and yet another promising one-way ticket out of our shared breathable atmosphere for all of the elitist celebrity climate change phonies who think nothing of wagging accusing talons at your hankering for a juicy hamburger as the death knell of Mother Nature (though suspiciously silent of the vast Chinese rice fields whose own release of methane gasses fail to pass stringent Green New Deal demarcations for causing Global Extinction as long as it is cultivated by followers of the Little Red Book) while taking an eveningalicegif6 excursion into the stars, propelled by engines emitting enough noxious exhaust in seconds to equal the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio and downtown India combined during a ten year period.  With this in mind, it is an entirely appropriate moment to squeeze in the monthly sucker punch which introduces the monthly edition of America’s most reliably irritating (if not highly anticipated) scheduled indictment of the failure of national teacher’s unions, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by that interstate cartel which satisfies our hunger for SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast street candy. In this edition we explore the world of the cinema spacecraft, that curious gizmo which propels human characters from planet to planet, usually without the motivation of sanctimonious hectoring by certain ex-barmaids on the federal dole who make being sucked into the silent vacuum of space seem like sweet relief. Your mission is to identify all twenty five films from which the curious assortment of galactic travel modes originate, The first to correctly identify all twenty five will receive a weekend excuse pass from Space Camp as well as possession of a genuine and thoroughly honorable CSR Culture Shock Award, redeemable in all galactic rest stops for free travel maps and a complimentary zero-gravity coffee mug. Good luck. 

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Posted in books, Drive-In Movies, George Pal, Movies, photography, science, science fiction, writing | 2 Comments

Swamp Thang: “‘Gator Bait” (1974)

gatorbait0          “‘Gator Bait”  (1974)

    “‘Gator Bait” is a simplistic tale of revenge that is simply told, entirely lacking in any trace of nuance or pretensions toward Art and it’s all the better for it. What familial regional exploitation directors Beverly and Ferd Sebastian lack in budgetary gloss they more than compensate in a comfort with theirgatorbaitOS2 material while maintaining an impressive technical proficiency in what appears to be a difficult and uncomfortable location shoot.

     When slow-witted Ben Bracket (Ben Sebastian) is accidentally killed by Deputy Billy Boy (Clyde Ventura) in their attempt to snare wildcat poacher Desiree Thibodeau (Claudia Jennings, who impresses with a difficult but remarkably consistent Cajun accent unmanageable by the majority of Actor’s Studio alumni) in the act for the purposes of forcibly enjoying her sexual wares, Billy Boy reports the killing to his father, Sheriff Joe Bob Thomas (Bill Thurman), as having been perpetrated by the swamp dwelling beauty. An enraged patriarch of the Bracket clan, Leroy (Douglas Dirkson), initiates a search for Desiree, deep into the heart of the swampland which inevitably results in a chain of retributive internecine events.

     Despite an unsurprising portraiture of social unrefinement in the film’s limited roster of characters, the lack of condescension to the rural antagonists eliminates the usual Hollywood cinematic assertions of genetically influenced primitivism among characters situated outside of prestigious gated suburban communities or metropolitan penthouses. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandler-swain-reviews-drive-in-cinema-2/chandler-swain-reviews-nites-at-the-queens-chapel-drive-in/

Posted in crime, Drive-In Movies, grindhouse, movie sequels, Movies, women, writing | Tagged | 1 Comment

Blood and Sand: “The Longest Day” (1962)

CHANDLER SWAIN REVIEWS

LongestHelm

     “The Longest Day”   (1962)

(Originally published June 23, 2013)

    Darryl F. Zanuck’s monumental war epic depicting the events of the D-Day invasion of World War 2 has the disadvantage of not only following dozens of characters over dozens of different locations, but also the input of three different credited directors working to patch a cohesive picture of just what did go on during the massive invasion of Normandy on that “longest day” (as referred to in a quote by German Field Marshal Irwin Rommel) on June 6, 1944.  Add to that, the fact that, unique in a big-budget studio epic, disregarding the expectations of the audience, the story is presented entirely in correct linguistic terms: the French and Germans speak in their native tongues with the assistance of subtitles. By all rights, this should be a colossal boondoggle, a confused and incoherent film not unlike

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Memorium: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, July 2021 Edition, Vol. 6

memorial16Memorium: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, June 2021 Edition, Vol. 6

     In the aftermath of America’s annual amnesia as to the true meaning of Memorial Day aside from the now-popular three day bacchanal celebrated by those nursing that perpetual hangover from the previous weekend’s two day bacchanal, we present with great pride (and more than a little trepidation to express patriotic zeal lest we be taggedmemorialgif as Trump/Putin marionettes by the current touring ensemble of The Karl Marx Follies currently- and ironically -at play at 1600 Pennsylvania) this month’s edition of America’s cerebral answer to post-nasal drip, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those wonderful folk who bring you SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition we turned our jaundiced attention to the the humble cemetery, the eternal resting ground (until greedy local developers decide to use the land for the latest much-needed location of a nail shop/T-Mobile/Stan’s Package Store strip mall) of the dearly departed. The following images illustrate Hollywood’s understanding of the cemetery as not only a place of sorrow and remembrance, but equally useful as a backdrop for underhanded chicanery. Your task is to correctly identify the twenty five films represented in the following images and report your findings to, well… us. (What do you think? Reporting your info to the Senate Intelligence Committee is going to win you brownie points?) The first to complete the challenge correctly will receive the sacred icon known by scholars and certain disreputable people from Newark as the CSR Culture Shock Award, redeemable for a lovely sectional sofa (offer excludes, taxes, shipping costs, custom fees and the cost of the sofa) at our home office located in beautiful downtown Warsaw. Good luck. 

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Posted in Blaxploitation, books, Boston, horror, Movies, Mystery, photography, westerns, writing | 2 Comments

Horse Sense: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, May 2021 Edition, Vol. 6 Hands

horsesensegifHORSE SENSE: CLASSIC FILM IMAGES PHOTO QUIZ, MAY 2021 EDITION, VOL. 6 HANDS

     If the current pandemic teaches us anything (a supposition which for reasons only a scientific investigation the size of the Manhattan Project might begin to unravel why any enlightenment is foreign to the intellectually and morally bereft elected Beltway political cadre of clowns), it is that whatever assumptions we might have attributed as to the basic worthlessness of a certain two-legged species (identified though now legislatively censored pronoun designations), they are, in reality, far more dire than previously suspected. However dour this realization may have upon initial consideration, further meditation lends itself to a rather optimistic alternative point of view and that is in acquiescence tohorsesensegif2 a  comforting surrender to the fact that those post-apocalyptic movie scenarios involving cities suddenly absent of bustling, elbowing, noisome crowds, obliviously rude children and their moronic parents who insist on jamming a wide-load stroller onto a working escalator only to create greater traffic tie-ups than downtown Tokyo at rush hour, are an unconscious and prescient example of cultural wish fulfillment in which the entirety of a miserably unsocial and surly populace is relegated to those phantasmagorical states of limbos so embraced by those same grim science fiction films. Surely, the past year has proven that the company of  the four-footed make for far more substantial and loyal companions than anything which both walks erect and is equipped with the opposable thumbs necessary for interminable selfie scanning on smart phones. Which brings us to this month’s edition of America’ most trusted mental laxative, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those diligent purveyors of SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition we turn our attention to the most noble creatures to ever suffer through the humiliation of forced human interaction. We are, of course, referring to the valiant horse whose positively supernal resistance to throwing their rider into the nearest bottomless chasm is proof positive of an incalculable tolerance toward dumb creatures far exceeding that of even the most decorated Saint. The following twenty five images depict the horse in all of their patient nobility as seen on the motion picture screen. Your task is to identify the films from which the images are sourced and report said result to our CSR offices conveniently located in an undisclosed underground bunker somewhere in the Western Hemisphere. The first to correctly identify all twenty five images will receive the splendid (and nourishing) CSR Culture Shock Award, suitable for marking the pathway for marauding armies of red ants. Good luck.

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Posted in Africa, art house cinema, biography, books, Drive-In Movies, Movies, photography, Romance, westerns, women, writing | 3 Comments

Without a Clue: “The Stone Killer” (1973)

stonekiller5          “The Stone Killer”  (1973)

     Discontent to assure audiences of a visceral thrill ride by the mere mention in the opening credits of Michael Winner assuming the directorial antics, “The Stone Killer” begins with a scene showing Charles Bronson’s tough guy police detective casually tossing his hat into the cruiser, climbing a staircase under gunfire and blasting the armed perp on a fire escape, just to let you know that he and thestonekillerINS film mean to waste no time in getting down to dirty (Harry) business.

     That this opening incident is entirely unrelated to anything within the rest of the picture seems to have not occurred to anyone intimately involved in the production, which may explain some of the other, more critical oversights: for instance, that the plot makes little to no sense or that every character is conceived and portrayed as such broad archetypal stereotypes that a cataract-afflicted amateur with no law enforcement experience could spot the bad guys from ten blocks away without the use of spectacles. Paul Koslo’s shockingly coiffed killer is a Broadway neon sign screaming “PSYCHO LOON”, a fact that fails to dissuade Bronson’s detective arresting and manhandling all of the wrong people until he clumsily bungles the simple arrest of the genuine perpetrator, leading to a spectacularly destructive chase sequence in which the safety of the citizens of Los Angeles seems less important than Bronson’s Lou Torrey engaging in an act of behavioral overreach which is suggested (only momentarily and then immediately forgotten) as a hint of a deeper psychological rage born of his intolerance for the criminal element. 

    Source of all of the police procedural fuss is a plot in which Sicilian Mafia bigwig Al Vescari (Martin Balsam, affecting the most cartoonish Italian accent since the days of Lucy Ricardo stomping in the wine vats of Parma) plans the unexplainably delayed (42 years) revenge for “The Night of Sicilian Vespers”, a massacre Mafioso Dons by rival career climbers. Vescari’s plan involves the use of veteran soldiers outside of  “the organization”, know under the designation of “stone killer”.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nights-at-the-aspen-hill-cinema/

Posted in books, Charles Bronson, crime, Drive-In Movies, Movies, Mystery, writing | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Strange Bedfellows: “Public Affairs” (1983)

 

     “Public Affairs”  (1983)

     Henri Pachard’s “Public Affairs” (which he also co-scripted) would have you believe that politics is no deeper than a lowbrow humor which seems suspiciously lifted using the frivolous filter of vague remembrance of the sound truck campaign pronouncements from Robert Altman’spublicaffairsOS “Nashville”, If unambitious homage can be considered a form of flattery it might have proven to be a usable defense in any legal claims the makers of the earlier film might have made with an accusation of counterfeiting by way of slanderous anti-intellectualism, but it doesn’t excuse nor make “Public Affairs” a more elevated enterprise.

     The film follows the final days of Congressman Nicholas Stern (Paul Thomas) who has mounted a Senatorial campaign heavily tilted towards a fervent anti-smut agenda. Given the nature of the film, it is also unsurprising that Stern is an unrepentant hypocrite, a chronic womanizer whose prodigious appetite for sexual unions in which his pleasure seems increased by the degrading of his female partners. Suspicious of Stern’s true character is television reporter Elvira Lawrence (Annette Haven) who employs what is exampled  (without a trace of irony) as the usual method of extracting investigative information from a target’s associate: initiating a torridly intimate affair.

    Being that the focus of the film is indulgent in extended scenes of hardcore carnality of every stripe, most without relevance to the thinly conceived plot, the chosen theme of the critical moral political posturing poses a problematic mocking of the very adult sex industry from which it is sourced. Since Pachard and co-scenarist Joyce Snyder’s failurepublicaffairs12gif to reconcile their willingness to present Stern’s anti-smut message as a positive ideal subject to corrupt betrayal-  a message dramatized as embraced with popular support  -while taking great pains to enjoy the exposure of the phony moralist (and thus, ridicule his message) creates an insoluble dichotomy from which the film never retrieves its bearings. If the script presented its characters’ motivations with a more serious deliberation, the corruption of self-interest in the face of public interest (it was a powerful subtext of Alan J. Pakula’s “All the President’s Men”) might have yielded a fertile ground for social commentary. Alternately, a strictly comedic approach might be fruitful were it to pointedly illustrate the rich arena of political folly. Unfortunately, Pachard and Co. seem content with capricious follow-throughs on its potentially provocative thematic conception. That the current product satisfies neither more substantial form of dramaturgy is characteristic of far too many “adult” films which all too easily concede to merely stacking the number of graphic couplings as an expression evolutionary provocation rather than any attempt to elicit a meaningful symbiotic sophistication of content between the elements of the mainstream and the pornographic.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/sexual-politics-in-the-cinema//
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Posted in Annette Haven, comedy, erotica, grindhouse, Movies, politics, sex, Sex in Cinema, women, writing | 1 Comment

Isn’t Running a Sign You’re Up to No-Good?: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Apr. 2021 Edition, Vol. 26.2

marathon12Isn’t Running a Sign You’re Up to No-Good?: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Apr. 2021 Edition, Vol. 26.2

     With this year’s upcoming cancelled running of the Boston Marathon, there is little reason for the annual Patriot’s Day holiday save for another unexplained day of state government workers not showing up for another day in which they don’t perform their jobs anyway, so… (Ask anyone on the a Boston street the reason for the holiday and you’re likely to get a vacant stare…. then again the same would probably apply with a similar Back Bay inquiry about Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, Columbus Day and Labor Day, so… ) Nevertheless, the former members of the Massachusetts Cultural Council (ostracized for their painfully stubborn resistance to the corruption that was expected of all within the agency) marathongifcomprising invaluable editorial assistance for the CSR home team are working their overtime magic to ensure that no holiday, observed or otherwise will compromise this month’s expected laxity of post scheduling. In the meantime, since we mentioned the Boston Marathon and are desperate to find a theme unconnected to the Muppet currently occupying a certain bleached D.C. residence (talk about yet another federal property which might usefully imprison its tenant with the same razor wire separating good citizens from the Feral Jackals on the Hill), we will proceed with a tenuous thematic attribution in this month’s edition of America’s favorite cerebral mind-melt, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those pioneer spirits who bravely distribute America’s favorite breakfast candy, SKITTLES, throughout Obama’s 57 states. (Obviously mistaking the Republic for a jar of sweet relish. A mistake anyone could have made.) In this edition, we present the humble and traffic obstructing runner as presented in the cinema. Your task is to identify the following twenty five films represented in the images and relay these sparks of wisdom to the CSR Headquarters. The first to do so will receive the invaluable CSR Culture Shock Award, a medicinal totem repellent to government rodents named Fauci. Good luck.

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Posted in art house cinema, biography, books, Boston, British films, crime, Drive-In Movies, grindhouse, Movies, Mystery, politics, women, writing | 4 Comments

All Creatures Great and Small: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, March 2021 Edition, Vol. 46XXL

giants3All Creatures Great and Small:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, March 2021 Edition, Vol. 46XXL

     With the arrival of a theatrical film award season celebrating the achievements of a year completely invisible of theatrical entertainment, it has become more evident than ever before that the continuous sessions of gowned and tuxedoed inebriated trophy grabbing by the Hollywood elites has become a bold symbol of a cadre of increasingly uncreative “artists” so far removed from the reality of the experience of the average person that it explains the current detachment of the mainstream entertainment industry’s gratuitous reveling in vacuous fantasy while rejecting reflections of the human condition as pitiable grumblings of a great unwashed working class. In the uninspired minds of Hollywood royalty, they are the watchdog giantsgiantsgif of entitlement lording over the homunculi forming the rest of an ignorant and undeserving society. With this in mind, we bring you the latest installment in what we’re afraid is that continuous series of monthly irritations popularly known as the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you with admirable stubbornness by those happy folk who peddle SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition, we present twenty five examples of Hollywood’s less offensive depictions of the giant and the infinitesimal. Your task is to identify the twenty five films and relay to us their true identity. As a result of such dedicated effort, the first to correctly identify every image will receive the much exalted though misunderstood CSR Culture Shock Award, essential in the successful practice of black magic and explaining the continued popularity of the McRib sandwich. Good luck.

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Posted in animation, Bert I. Gordon, books, Boston, Drive-In Movies, horror, kaiju, Movies, Pre-Code Movies, science fiction, silent movies, writing | 4 Comments

In the Realm of the Insensible: “Jade” (1995)

jade0            “Jade”  (1995)

   While convolution in a murder mystery is nothing new, a film usually pays dividends if, in the end, a semblance of coherence can be deciphered from even the most labyrinthine of evidentiary bread crumbsjadeOS trails. (The exception of the eternally baffling Howard Hawks production of “The Big Sleep” whose exclusion to the rule has more to do with the entertaining distractions of Hollywood star power and breezy stylishness, along with a critical Get Out of Jail Free card for virtually any film from a filmmaker included in the Auteurist Pantheon.) 

    In “Jade”, William Friedkin seems to delight in his camera gliding over the ornate mise-en-scene with a fetishistic compulsiveness of a impassioned lovers caressing (if the point of this tactile stroking is lost, the orgasmic crashes of James Horner’s overheated scoring may yet result in the audience absently reaching for a cigarette). It is a type of hyper-eroticized teasing that conveys a particularly disreputable surrender to the lurid when a carved banister is meant to convey all of the seductive properties of a high society escort. Yet for all of its labor intensive attempts at artfully steamy sexiness, “Jade” fails to conjure the merest seismic flutter on the sensuality  meter, a crippling enough failed standard for what has been euphemistically (if not optimistically, according to the whims of studio marketers) referred to as an “erotic thriller”, but less impactful when taking into consideration that absolutely nothing which transpires in the rest of the film makes a bit of sense.

 To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/multiplex-movies/

Posted in crime, erotica, Movies, Mystery, sex, William Friedkin, writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Jungle Daze: “Trader Horn” (1973)

traderhorn6“TRADER HORN”  (1973)

    The painfully optimistic marketing material announces that this remake of the 1931 African adventure “Trader Horn” is in the grand tradition of “King Solomon’s Mines” and “Mogambo”. For once we are presented with an example of long-sought after honesty in Hollywood advertising, thougtraderhornOSh one might be careful as for what one wishes. If this version  summons less a sensation of nostalgia than one of contrived revisitation, it is most assuredly due to the bulk of this “new” version being cobbled together with such an alarming quantity of previously used stock footage from those aforementioned films (among others), that it may be a legitimate cause for a thorough Treasury audit into the Aubrey-era accounting books at MGM.

   “Trader Horn” is the type of sensationalized literary property to which the studios of the so-called Golden Age were particular drawn; especially with those properties promising exotic locales (even if cleverly faked in studio) brimming with intrigue. However, even the most slavishly decorous settings could not ignite a spark in such a colorless romantic pairing as the sullen Jean Sorel accompanied by an alarmingly antiseptic Anne Heywood with whom we are stranded on a meager journey through what appears to be the studio’s Culver City backlot. So crisply arranged are the newly lensed safari locations, one can practically see the lawnmower marks on the veldt.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/now-playing-at-the-mercado-cinema/

Posted in Africa, biography, books, movie remakes, Movies, Rod Taylor, Romance, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Lurching: “The Addams Family” (2019)

THE ADDAMS FAMILY “The Addams Family”  (2019)

    If anyone is sincere in capturing the delicious, wickedly funny malevolence of the original Charles Addams cartoons, it would seem prudent to preserve the monochromatic design of the drawings. The new animated “The AddamsaddamsfamilyOS Family”, while returning to the original design of the characters specific to the printed cartoons (impossible to duplicate with exactitude in live action), immerses Addams’ characters in a world of color, with the artist’s macabrely expressive ink washes replaced with a palette that is often distractingly ugly at best, but too often simply murky. If that were the only problem. 

     The film is also an unfortunate continuation of Hollywood’s insistence on shuffling aside genuine voice talent for what passes for an engagement of those granted the unimpressive status of celebrity. Thus, instead of voice work which will delight the ear, not to mention enhance their respective characters, we have the vocal readings of a blandness comparable to those of digital voice assistants: technically serviceable but devoid of  any engaging spark of individuality (As Morticia, Charlize Theron’s work is especially wan). These colorless vocal performances accompany the continued plasticized nature of pixelated animation that has become the coma inducing standard of  assembly line production.

  To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/for-kids-of-all-ages/

Posted in animation, cartoons, comedy, humor, movie reviews, Movies, writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Noir!: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Feb. 2021 Edition, Vol. .38

noir25Noir!: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Feb. 2021 Edition, Vol. .38

     Being that February is Black History Month and the crew at CSR are noted for their sensitivity to the burning issues of the day, it was decided during the last staff meeting that to designate this month’s edition as a celebration of Noir was a close enough thematic fit to make a glancing acknowledgement of a typically empty calendar celebration while keeping us at arm’s length in becoming embroiled in any of the raucous political boiling points of the day. (Who needs more obscene postage due telegrams from a certain high spirited former barmaid now working behind ironically appropriate razor wire in our fair nation’s capital?) Also, more importantly, it was in keeping with our titling our monthly brain teasers with a consistent level of social noirgif2impudence, and we are lovers of many things, but none more highly prized than impudent condescension. And so without further-  as the great Bard of Avon would put it  -ado, we present this month’s edition of America’s favorite cerebral headsneeze, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those fascinating folk who peddle us our daily supply of SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition, we celebrate, acknowledge and continue to generate considerably visual strain over the beloved cinematic genre of the Film Noir, happily characterized as that slimy cinematic underworld of guys with gats, dames with dangerous curves and enough shadow to make Elizabeth Taylor’s eye make-up livid with envy. Each of the following twenty five images is from a Film Noir production. Your task is to solve the mystery of the true identity of each of the twenty five films illustrated, and then to bring your findings back here to CSR’s Mr. Big. The first to complete the dirty deed will get a payoff of one genuine copy of the CSR Culture Shock Award: more valuable than a sack of brass rings and a sweeter Valentine’s offering than a kisser full of grapefruit. Good luck.

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Posted in blogs, books, crime, Drive-In Movies, film noir, Movies, Mystery, women, writing | Tagged | 2 Comments

Thundering Cliff Notes: “Tombstone” (1993)

tombstone1         “Tombstone”  (1993)

     In George Stevens’ film “Shane”, when excitable homesteader Frank Torrey (Elisha Cook Jr.) is gunned down by the enigmatic hired killer Jack Wilson (Jack Palance), the director deliberatelytombstoneOS amplified the volume of the shot to emphasize the violence inherent in a death by gunfire. By using a subtle but simple sensorial shock technique, Stevens was able to momentarily stir the audience from their complacency as passive spectators to make the lethal act more disquieting and thus invest the likelihood of similar consequences for other innocents with an intensified emotional immediacy.

     In “Tombstone”, director George P. Cosmatos takes a similar but more extreme approach, by continually pummels the viewer with seismic storms of thundering hooves and explosive gunplay, almost continually abetted by Bruce Broughton’s muscular scoring which sings out with the dramatic import of what has or is about to occur with all of the subtlety of a claxon horn. Whether this approach is meant to immerse the viewer in the intensity of the violent confrontations, the results continue the fascinating confusion modern cinema has in conflating brute intensity with excitement. While it is possible to find immersion with the film’s reckless momentum, it is a strenuous form of pleasure. There is no question that one may emerge with the feeling of having been physically worked over by the film’s aural assault alone.

   “Tombstone” doesn’t tread any particularly new territory that hasn’t already been steeply embellished by previous versions of the story, though in relating the familiar story of Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell, slightly inconsistent but with genuine highs), his brothers and Doc Holliday (an astonishing career performance by Val Kilmer) against Ike Clantontombstone2 (an unrecognizable Stephen Lang) and the Cowboys, the carnage has been elevated to an absurdist level. One would have to reach back to Roger Corman’s “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” to find a find a movie comparable in its willingness to  undercut the visceral potency of its own historical highlight merely by a miscalculation of the overabundant quantity of bloodletting featured throughout the entirety of the film, producing a literal numbing of the senses from overstimulation.

 To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/multiplex-movies/

Posted in biography, History, Movies, westerns, writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Riding Off Into the Rising Sunset: “Red Sun” (1971)

redsun0         “Red Sun”  (1971)

    With the emergence of the Spaghetti Western, the appearance of ethnically incongruent casts became more commonplace, especially in light of the Italian film industry’sredsunOS habit of shooting films MOS. The capability of producers for international casts assembled to expand the range of a popular genre production’s global range of marketability (and in doing so, built on the blueprint initiated by the already emergent Italian horror and peplum films) was advanced by the ease with which any linguistical incongruity of a performance soundtrack was immediately correctable with the substitution of a port-dubbing track of any national origin. (That the films, generally situated in the American West, were nonetheless populated by extras seemingly comprised of colorfully grizzled natives from the hills surrounding Almeria, Spain is one of the irreverent idiosyncrasies of the genre when their every utterance emerges with a distinctively flat Midwestern accent.) However, the extension of multinational castings often resulted in odd pairings for which there seemed to be little rational explanation save for the extension of international box-office magnetism. The great Japanese actor Tatsuya Nakadai featured formidably as the primary antagonist in 1968’s “Oggi a me… domani a te!” though his presence was clearly meant for its enhancement of regional box-office potential than in any meaningful cultural representation in the context of the film. 

     In Terence Young’s “Red Sun” East again meets the old West with the able participation of  a goodly representation of half of the NATO nations and the usual compliment of Almerian local color. Though unlike many multinational European westerns, in this film there has been some level of effort, labored as it may be, to naturally integrate the international seasoning of the casting.

 To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nights-at-the-wheaton-plaza-playhouse/ 

Posted in Movies, Sam Peckinpah, westerns, writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Lucky 2021: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Jan. 2021 Edition, Vol. 0-0

twentyone11Lucky 2021: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Jan. 2021 Edition, Vol. 0-0

     Thank goodness for the end of 2020. Not that we have anything to complain about here at the offices of CSR, but we’re so tired of listening to everyone else. However, with the pioneer spirit that fought two World Wars, forged a country from a wilderness and survived one of TCM’s innumerable marketing campaigns of swill (as if the assertion that Cabernet Au “Duck Soup” is a varietal of genuine enological interest weren’t enough) which proffered Elizabeth Taylor not as The Bleating Vulgar Spawn of Excessive Alcohol and Make-Up Application but as a Star of the Month, we bring you sunsetblvdgif1this month’s edition of the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you as always by SKITTLES, America’s only breakfast candy that hasn’t been poisoned by a twelve part reversal of opinion by Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s leading candidate (attention TIME Magazine!) for Person More Likely to Flip Than Simone Biles on a Balance Beam. In this edition we look forward to more of the same in ’21 and therefore segue that bold pessimism (Is this your first visit to Earth or what?) into the quite cleverly unrelated subject of movies that feature gambling with cards. Each of the following 25 images is sourced from a motion picture in which cigars, beer and potato chips are happily promoted as the essential three nutritional food groups indigenous to the strenuous recreation of flipping cards for fun and profit. Your task, as always, is to identify all twenty five films and report your findings to the proper authorities (that’s us, Butch), where after careful scrutiny we will tabulate the findings (allowing for the proper period of tabulation hanky-panky) and discover the first to calculate the correct responses of all featured films. The first to do so will receive the coveted CSR Culture Shock Award, happily useful in this edition as a drink coaster. Good luck.

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Posted in biography, blogs, books, comedy, Drive-In Movies, Movies, Puzzles, Rosalba Neri, theater, writing | 2 Comments

Getting Crabs: “Attack of the Crab Monsters” (1957)

attackofthecrabmonsters4

       “Attack of the Crab Monsters”  (1957)

    One of the immediate presumptions one can make when noting the presence of genre regular Russell Johnson in Roger Corman’s “Attack of the Crab Monsters” is that, as inattackofthecrabmonstersOS most of his other unlucky SF appearances, he will not survive to the closing credits.

    It’s this type of predictability which plagues the 1950s atomic age monster film, so numerous yet comfortable in adhering to a rather narrow checklist of formula tropes. Compound the tiresome familiarity with the glaring shortcuts inherent in no-budget filmmaking and the audience is at the mercy any cleverness which may be scraped together by necessity through the desperation created by the film’s independent creators lack of resources readily available to even the most shameless story deficient major studio potboiler which may shamelessly disguise storytelling deficiencies through a preponderance of cosmetic distractions with an increased focus on production values, star power, gaudy color photography or overly ripe symphonic scoring.

    In the case of “Attack of the Crab Monsters”, the attractions are limited to a worrisome pair of gigantic papier mâché crustaceans complete with trash bag eyelids over their roughly painted peepers. Unfortunately, with the exception of the aforementioned short-lived Russell, the cast is no more interesting than the rocks which endlessly cascade about their heads, nor is what they are compelled to say in the uncharacteristically bland dialogue providedattackofthecrabmonsters3 by Charles B. Griffith. However, despite the virtual absence of characters whose survival would generate more audience interest than finding a comfortable theater armrest, the film is corpulent with a literal smorgasbord of screwball conceptions which when shamelessly cemented together result in an uncomfortable quilting of irrationally explained story elements requiring a constant running commentative road map of arcane scientific gibberish which passes for conversation but merely (and vainly) attempts to explain to the audience just what the hell is going on. It’s the kind of film where a scientist profoundly announces his discovery of an anomaly of atomic structure while using only a hobby shop microscope.

To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/poverty-row/

Posted in Drive-In Movies, horror, Movies, Roger Corman, science fiction, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Black and White in Color: “In the Heat of the Night” (1967)


    
“In the Heat of the Night”  (1967)

    With “In the Heat of the Night” director Norman Jewison breaches the unconscionable commercial wall of denial concerning racial injustice by way of silence (born entirely of an industry cowardice more concerned with box-office acceptability within the more hotbed states than any artistic or moral considerations) from a film industry self-congratulatory in its touting of such offenses as Stanley Kramer’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, a film purporting a gentle jab at guilty white liberalism while offering the depraved observation that the most accomplished black man in the world is arguably unworthy of the dumbest white woman on the block.

   One evening in the sleepy town of Sparta, Mississippi, a body is discovered by patrolling police officer Sam Wood (Warren Oates). The ramifications of this homicide will prove to carry a weight of greater consequence to the police chief Bill Gillespie (Rod Steiger) that might be confined to an isolated criminal investigation as the victim turns out to be industrialist Phillip Colbert, to whom the town was counting on economic rejuvenation with the construction of a new factory. Wood spots a lone black man, Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) in the railway station and immediately arrests him as the most likely convenient prime suspect, being that he appears to be a transient and, more significantly, one who is black. However, when Gillespie soon discovers Tibbs is a Philadelphia homicide detective, his initial  animus is colored by both a professional jealously and an ironic awareness that he is in desperate need of the detective’s very special investigative expertise.

    Finely constructed (Jewison’s films tend to be overlooked models of craftsmanship), impeccably acted to the smallest part and atmospherically scored by Quincy Jones, the greatest strength of “In the Heat of the Night” is ultimately in the unshowy incisiveness of intheheat6its screenplay by Sterling Silliphant, which improves  (with one glaring exception) upon John Ball’s simplistic, stereotyping debut Virgil Tibbs novel; wherein every white town resident is a virulent racist and Tibbs is portrayed as an almost ethereal symbol of purity and perfection. In the novel, every thought and action of the white characters is predicated with race as its only motivating factor, while Tibbs is a virtual saint whose solving of the case involves less of the acumen of the professional detective and more far-fetched prescience achieved through the purity of goodness. 

    Silliphant has wisely pared away the behavioral absolutes on both sides of the race fence, enhancing the narrative by smoothing out the more inflexibly jagged edges of most of the principles, thereby humanizing the story into a more palatable and credibleintheheat5 framework. This is significant as it places the representative burden of racism back onto how each individual reacts to an oppressive amoral social fabric rather than simply accounting for hatred being an indelible characteristic specific to a people of a particular regional location. Thus the central characters, as reimagined by Silliphant and Jewison, are granted the charity of a flexible humanity; no longer fixed into convenient, simplistic stereotypes solely defined by racial animus.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nites-at-the-shoppers-world-cinema/

Posted in black cinema, book reviews, books, movie reviews, Movies, Mystery, racism, Reviews, Rod Steiger, Sidney Poitier, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Castle Redux: “Two on a Guillotine” (1965)

twoonaguiullotine         “Two on a Guillotine” (1965)

          Clearly taking direction from the horror films of William Castle and employing vividly evident inspiration from his 1959 “House on Haunted Hill”, William Conrad’stwoonaguillotineOS “Two on a Guillotine” is an example of attempting duplication of another’s success without attending to the original’s most glaringly problematic features.

     Attending the funeral of her magician father, Duke Duquesne (Cesar Romero), young Cassie (Connie Stevens), who has been estranged from her parents for twenty years, exhibits a sufficient amount of neurotic fragility along with promising curves to attract the attention of reporter Val Henderson (Dean Jones), whose interest seems nakedly leaning toward amour rather than pursuing a Pulitzer worthy piece of journalism. Cassie learns that she will inherit her father’s entire estate as long as she commits to occupying his house for a week, a codicil which guarantees the issuance of a series of unexplained (but nonetheless predictable) moans and cackles that promote the illusion of a haunted house, but are quickly revealed as the machinations of an overly developed sense of theatrics. The not-so-mysterious nature of the spook house novelties sheds a temporary light of suspicion on two loyal longtime employees of Duquesne, who profess a disinterest in their being ignored in the apportioning of the estate, but who stand to split the fortune on the occasion of  Connie failing to successfully carry out the will’s conditions.

     To read the complete review, click the following link to:    CHANDLER SWAIN REVIEWS: NITES AT THE BELLINGHAM DRIVE-IN | CHANDLER SWAIN REVIEWS (wordpress.com)

Posted in Drive-In Movies, Movies, Mystery, Romance, writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Heart of Darkness: “Justice League” (2017)

justiceleague4

BATTY: Despite Batman’s (Ben Affleck) insistence for the need for superhuman abilities to gain membership into the Justice League, no one questions that his most profound abilities seem to be the ability to grimace and speak in a remarkably low incomprehensible gravely voice. (A film with a trace of deserved irony might have Batman’s foes reacting to his guttural threats with “Speak up please. What did you say?”)

                “Justice League”  (2017)

     If “Justice League” proves anything it’s that any pretense of the inclusion of genuine human heart in the halting but expanding collection of high-powered missteps knownjusticeleagueOS as the DC Extended Universe is provided solely by the presence of Diane Lane as Superman’s adoptive  mom, Martha Kent.

     Alone in this cinema cycle of whose entire modus operandi is predicated on the presumed excitement surrounding operatic violence and a fervent argument promoting the basic irrelevance of humans without the advantage of supernal abilities or (in the case of Batman) resources, the figure of Martha Kent stands alone as a beacon of devotion unencumbered by any motivation save as the torchbearer for the purity of traditional maternal affection. (Kevin Costner provided a well-matched partner with his portrayal of spouse Jonathan Kent, but his early exit, though occasionally referenced, presence in the franchise contributes a philosophic but strained emotional reach.)

     The architects of this extended franchise were certainly aware of this in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” when they needlessly and sadistically exploited the fragility of this character in keeping with DC’s post-Frank Miller/911 era fascination with nihilism as entertainment rather than good old-fashioned adventure stories demarcating the forces of good from those of the reprehensible. One of the reasons for justiceleague1the failure of “B v S”, is its total rejection of the human factor. In the end, what is celebrated and what loss is mourned at the conclusion of that film are not the untold thousands who suffered as casualties of the crossfire between interplanetary interlopers, but of the singular death of a super-powered alien  who, for the better part of the film, has been treated with suspicion and something indistinguishable from animus. This last minute reversal of sentiment represents the surrender of the people of modern civilization to finally unite not in a harmonious brotherhood of global understanding, but as sheepish submissives alarmingly eager to fall subordinate to unquestioning preternatural idolatry.  

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/multiplex-movies/

Posted in comic books, fantasy, Movies | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Chandler’s Trailers: “The Undertaker and his Pals” (1966)

undertakerandhispals2“Undertaker and His Pals, The”  (1966) A bizarre hybrid of a film which emerges as an extremely low-rent version of Harvey Kurtzman-like parody of the savage mock Southern Gothic sadism of Herschell Gordon Lewis. To boost the business of  the local undertaker, two proprietors of a greasy diner randomly kill (naturally curvaceous) women whose body parts are used in providing the ingredients for their daily specials. While films dealing in both serial carnage and cannibalism are surprisingly not infrequently found in the annals of schlockmeister cinema, the unwieldy combination of vicious (though amateurishly staged) murders and exceptionally broad attempts at humor is both distasteful and infuriating. While it is possible…

To read the complete review (if you must), click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandlers-trailers-short-bits-for-emerging-cinephiles-and-a-better-america/

Posted in comedy, Drive-In Movies, grindhouse cinema, horror, movie reviews, Movies | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Pacific Overtures: “PT 109” (1963)

pt1092               “PT 109”  (1963)

     Much can be determined from the character of a person by the substance of an autobiographical tome. In the case of “PT 109”, so much influence was exerted on thePT109OS making of the film by then-sitting President John F. Kennedy (under the assured “personal supervision” of White House bootlicker Jack Warner), that it is no wonder an interesting story has been waylaid for a peculiar brand of cinematic honorific in which the young lieutenant is incessantly seen heroically posed on the bridge while the scoring of David Buttolph and William Lava  provides enough celebratory brass to make John Philip Sousa cry foul.

     Covering the period between Kennedy’s arrival in the South Pacific and his assuming command of a post-shipwreck PT 59, the film makes claims for a high level of historical accuracy while suspiciously wading through the same menu offerings of wartime movie cliches (the derelict equipment that has to be polished on an impossibly short schedule for inspection, the colorful crewmates including a cook- mercifully not referred to here as “Cookie”  -giving  familiar if muted, the hardnosed commander who is a softy at heart), none of which reveals a hint at an individual of extraordinary character who merits a worshipful film portrait exclusive of a future ascendancy to national office. In fact, the film’s reveling in a depiction of the future president as something of a smartass cowboy whose reckless behavior is destructive to government property second only to the several Japanese air raids which predictably occur to help distract from the fact that, for the most part, very little of consequence is happening through most of the film.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nites-at-the-shoppers-world-cinema/

Posted in biography, books, Boston, History, Movies, war movies, World War II, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Dear Cinema Santa: 2020 Edition

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Dare we maintain an air of gleeful self-assurance while the rest of the world is engaged in attending the sold out festival of mopey whininess? You bet. May Santa bring you all a stocking full of expired gift cards and a Blu-ray box set labeled ‘The Art of Pauly Shore’.

                           

         Dear Cinema Santa: 2020 Edition

To crown this year of joviality and conviviality (we only eliminated four enemies all year, so we have a sizeable stockpile of quick drying cement if anyone’s interested) we  present our annual report of bitter dissatisfaction with the film world and what we would like to see as remedies before we really lose our cool and  are forced to resort to looking at troglodytic cave paintings as a remedy to our ennui. Santa pay attention!

To read the entire post, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/the-film-vault-index-of-reviewed-films/ho-ho-ho-happy-holidays-from-the-critical-establishment/

Posted in China, Christmas, cinema, Culture, holidays, Movies, theaters, writing | 1 Comment

‘Tis the Season of Excess: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Dec. 2020 Edition, Vol. 3,000,000,000

greed0‘Tis the Season of Excess: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Dec. 2020 Edition, Vol. 3,000,000,000

If anything might be guaranteed to emanate on a continuous basis from the deeply humanist and selfless communal mindset that is at the core of the American entertainment industry (most happily centralized, in the minds of the countless cattle who sup at the contaminated  formula bottle of popular culture, on The Shining Creative Landfill on the Hill known as greedgifHollywood), it is the depiction of greed and excess as a norm in the human experience. Add to this notion of monetary and proprietary mammon as the one true God deserving of genuflective consideration, the sibling favored recreational pastimes of gluttony and addiction and their associated antisocial vices. all of which collectively accounts for approximately ninety-six percent of your garden variety motion picture megaplex releases, and you have the makings of another opportunity for a session of our monthly cascade of sarcasm and socio-political nose-thumbing. With this in mind, and the fortuitous timeliness of St. Nick’s annual marathon session of domestic breaking and entering, we bring you the latest edition of America’s favorite mental hiccup, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you by those jolly union elves who wrap and package SKITTLES, America’s most popular placebo. In this edition, we focus on le grand cinema’s characters preoccupations with excess in all of it’s unsavory forms. Your task (“He tasks me,” said Kahn, and so do I. And (to paraphrase Vonnegut) so it goes…), as always, is to correctly identify the films from which all twenty five images are sourced. The first to do so will become a lifetime guardian of the mysterious (and possibly alien [though legally documented] in nature) CSR Culture Shock Award: the longest continuously awarded honorarium of the Visigoths. Good luck.

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Posted in art house cinema, biography, books, History, Italian cinema, Movies, photography, Romance, Santa Claus, silent movies, westerns, women, writing | 2 Comments

Five Characters in Search of a Crime Scene: “Madonna of the Desert” (1948)


madonnaofthedesert1
         “Madonna of the Desert”  (1948)

     The slightness of “Madonna of the Desert” might not be evident to those who have never seen a motion picture of any kind. However, those with even minimal exposure tomadonnaofthedesertOS the medium may be prone to experience a continuous sensation of what be most accurately described as a form of humdrum dramatic reincarnation.

    Though the film is ostensibly a crime drama, its screenplay is disproportionately indistinguishable from the manufactured patchwork of spritely though substantively vacuous banter (especially between the figurative femme fatale and her ‘mark’) typical of Golden Age Hollywood assembly line creativity, with exchanges tonally consistent in manner of charming insubstantiality which makes a conversation between two housewives over coffee as interchangeable as a murderous gangster outlining his latest scheme with his moll. The homogenized artificiality of these exchanges, more concerned with adhering to the moral formality advanced by the Production Code rather than more complex human exchanges led to the featuring of dialogue passing for a cleverly stylized form of communication, where every utterance is a droll bon mot or a polemic designed a pseudo-Freudian analysis of either introspection or a critical analysis of the narrative itself (predating the curious art form that was television soap opera writing, where every line of dialogue is a barely disguised plot synopsis).

     Nor does the dreary verisimilitude of everyday routine intrude upon this typical Studio System example of heightened representations of the commonplace, where selective actions are sufficiently strung together to give the illusion of expeditious purposefulness. No one ever washes a dish without this simple act becoming a portent of often incongruous narrative development. Yet, rather than enhancing the storytelling experience, this brand of authorial artifice encourages a formulaic blandness; one inmadonnaofthedeaert3 which the scenarios are preposterously ignorant of logic and populated by characters whose primary preoccupation is, inexplicably, in the avoidance of logical action. 

    And so it goes with “Madonna of the Desert”, whose plot is constructed around the most uncomplicated of premises: the attempt to steal a rare and valuable statue of a Madonna that has somehow become a family heirloom in the possession of a fruit farmer. It is a vaporous premise whose simplicity of conception might anticipate a brisk if unhurried melodramatic unfolding, but instead emerges as a brief though cluttered mélange of underworld shenanigans of such ridiculously unlikely convolution that in tying up all of its unharmonious elements, the film swerves to an uncharacteristic narrative road less traveled in the form of an abrupt cathartic intrusion of a spiritually transformative epiphany. Taken at face value, the narrative threads converge with a particularly awkward struggling of forced interjection of Production Code breast beating, resulting in an insoluble mixture of cornpone James M. Cain by way of Cardinal Spelling.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/matinees-at-the-bijoux/

Posted in crime, film noir, Movies, Reviews, women, writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Family Ties: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Nov. 2020 Edition, Vol. 2.4

familyties0Family Ties: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Nov. 2020 Edition, Vol. 2.4

    Recently it was reported that America’s most prominent Chicken Little,  Dr, Anthony Fauci was informed by his family that due to the conditions of the pandemic, they would not be traveling to join him for this year’s Thanksgiving festivities. Predictably, within hours, Fauci announced a warning to the nation that any gathering of family around a table featuring turkey, giblet gravy and yams was tantamount to a death wish. Following such an obsessively fixated trail of imposing public policy from the jaws of private frustration, one hopes that the day never comes where the good doctor runs outfamilytiesgif of toothpaste, lest he devise a national mandate that everyone’s teeth be extracted for the sake of public health. So with these familial restrictions for the holidays in mind (which thankfully for the Clinton household is not inclusive of escorts, strippers and mistresses), we defy the laws of common insensibility and present this month’s edition of America’s favorite figurative mask against the literal intrusion of intellectual pandemonium, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by the New England distributors of SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition we present a celebration of that which has been the direct source of patients subject to entire lifetimes of billable pyshotherapy session hours: the family. Your task is to identify the twenty five films from which the following images have been sourced and to relay that information directly (answers delivered through Congressional whistleblowers will be disqualified) to the offices of CSR (that’s right here, lest this is all be too obscure). The first to complete this task with the correct information will receive the handcrafted and water resistant CSR Culture Shock Award, a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Good luck.

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Folly Du Jour: “Hand of Death” (1962)

handofdeath

        “Hand of Death”  (1962)

     In “Hand of Death”  poor John Agar stars as his latest incarnation of an actor impersonating a career scientist whose altruism is perverted with exponentially monstrous results as he operates with an alarmingly elevated level of negligence. After allhandofdeathOS what are the odds if a movie scientist casually waves off warnings that his experiments are dangerous that he will shortly succumb to the very horrific side effects which are the predictable result of incautious laboratory protocols?

     “Hand of Death” relies exclusively on the innate reliability of intellectual hubris to be sufficient catalyst for an otherwise apparently rational man to carelessly pour a container of a newly discovered toxic solution (a nerve agent of all things!) all over their extremities and then compound this offense of logic by mopping up the excess as if he were suddenly the subject in a paper towel absorbency commercial. The purpose of this total surrender of safety etiquette lies exclusively in the need to justify yet another example of Hollywood’s dim understanding of the purpose of the scientific community outside of providing a means to transform the quietest mixing of chemicals into a homicidal Hellzapoppin. But as Agar mutates from congenial lab hermit into a charcoal briquette stylishly accessorized  in a fedora and trench coat worthy of a sun-crisped Tor Johnson wandering in from a film noir set, it becomes apparent that his curious transformation, entirely avoidable or not, is predicated not on the demands of the story, but rather to account for the only audience hook to this otherwise tepid SF/horror afterthought. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandler-swain-reviews-drive-in-cinema-2/

 

Posted in Drive-In Movies, horror, John Agar, movie reviews, Movies, science, science fiction, writing | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Poe in the Cinema: “The Tell-Tale Heart” (1953)

CHANDLER SWAIN REVIEWS

 

telltaleheart1953     Notoriously unlucky in the myriad of film translations of his work, Edgar Allan Poe finds an unlikely ally with the techniques of a minimalist animation style from U.P.A. Studios, a happy meeting of the literary and the graphic arts to produce one of the finest cinematic interpretations of the author.

     The U.P.A. style, which rejects the attempts at mimicking realism, championed by the Disney studio, allows for the advancement of a film to find a uniquely individual visual voice, produced with a stylized design specific to subject of the film. Employing a technique which came to be known as “limited” animation, eschewing the need for the quantity of individual painted cels necessary to recreate the fluidity of live action, the animators at U.P.A. were able to ingeniously use the mixture of vivid narration (void of the visuals, the soundtrack alone would make for satisfying radio drama) and…

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Make Light, Not War: “Getting Straight” (1970)

CHANDLER SWAIN REVIEWS

gettingstraight_elliotgould0       Imagine the panic in Hollywood studios in the late 1960’s, many already absorbed by corporations who had no more knowledge of the film business than a dairy cow has about producing Dulce de Leche, and those same businessmen following marketing studies and flow charts to indicate which way the audience of the commercial cinema marketplace was leaning; as if there were any alchemic algorithm to predict box-office success, the reality of which is amply demonstrated by the mountains of beleagered and discarded cinematic albatrosses left to twist in the proverbial winds of infamy. So, imagine this same congress of artistically inexperienced businessmen calculating the cultural sway which caused an entire industry to rush to produce films in the short-lived but hopefully lucrative rebellious youth fad, reflecting then-current anti-establishment values which would  be the very antithesis of the the deciding corporate mindset. Compounding studio concerns was that they…

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Petals and Thorns: “The Little Shop of Horrors” (1960)

CHANDLER SWAIN REVIEWS

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0000littleshop2        “The Little Shop of Horrors” is a more broadly freewheeling horror-comedy than Roger Corman’s savagely on target beat counterculture satire “A Bucket of Blood”, a film with a far more ambitious agenda as it was satirizing a then contemporary cultural movement whereas, this minor opus concerning a pesky carnivorous plant is more of a gentle poke at both crummy horror films (which at the time of production usually involved a somewhat wince inducing, low-budget menace interrupting the hero’s attempts go get into the ingenue’s skirt- think the Hays Office as supernatural guardians of chastity and you get the idea) and while Charles B. Griffith’s screenplay isn’t as observationally sharp as his work on 0000littleshopthat film, nor as smart- the newer film is also less controlled in it’s focus (it has a tendency to drift when the location shifts from the flower shop) ,  it is still a sufficiently…

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Capra Conned: “Magic Town” (1947)

CHANDLER SWAIN REVIEWS

0000magictown      By the time director Frank Capra created his series of unrelenting Man of the People populist fantasies, it was clear that although he didn’t invent this particular genre (though even a cursory glance at the filmmaker’s autobiography cum declaration of divinity The Name Above the Titlemight certainly suggest otherwise), he certainly0000magictown5 perfected an archetypal formula by which a single individual imposes his ideals onto a greater citizenry to the exclusion of anyone daring to suggest alternative opinions lest they be pegged as (surprisingly without irony) demagogues or corrupt power brokers. The fact that the Capra formula was also steeped in a creepy masqueraded fascism that sugarcoated the proposition of a singularly enforced populist view being as unhealthy for the social collective with an abundance of aw shucks eccentricity-  generally identified as Capracorn  -that gives the impression a genuine philosophical difference in the division between opposing but ultimately similarly…

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#MeBoo: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Oct. 2020 Edition, Vol. 35-24-36-43

horror0#MeBoo:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Oct. 2020 Edition, Vol. 36-24-36-43

    Amid all of the fuss of the current extended job interview between two fellows who, in the real world, would be underqualified to handle the complexities of being given the responsibility of bagging groceries at the local Trader Joe’s (Thank goodness politics happens to be the lone professional pursuit which mandatorily requires neither experience nor a discernible skill set.), the world seems to have forgotten (or have been mercilesslyhorrorgif distracted from, by the private designs of a shamelessly mind deadening mass media) the critical social issues which just mere months ago were aggressively hammered into our collective skulls as being of such importance that any casual dismissal of said issues would forever corrupt and diminish our very characters into the dustbin of infamy. And so, in the spirit of renewing our commitment to addressing grievous societal ills (though without any commitment to take said ills seriously), we present this month’s edition of Boston’s most revered pastime not containing references to either chowder or taxation, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those wonderful folks who bring us SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this Halloween-themed edition we present a celebration of female empowerment and independence as represented in the cinema in the form of horrible, dangerous (often murderous), often supernaturally generated figures of dread and horror (with a special emphasis on one particular-  though unnamed  -individual who all dedicated readers of CSR will certainly not fail to recognize). Your task, is to endure the twenty five frightful images which follow, and to correctly identify the titles of all of the corresponding films. The first to do so will receive the nerve-racking CSR Culture Shock Award, the perfect substitution for an expensive cordial on a dark and stormy night. Good luck.

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Posted in books, Boston, Drive-In Movies, horror, horror films, Movies, photography, vampires, women, writing | 13 Comments

Chandler’s Trailers: “Humanoids From the Deep” (1980)

 

humanoidsfromthedeep1“Humanoids From the Deep” (1980)  If one were uncertain as to the gravity of the situation in the small fishing hamlet of Noyo, California one would need no further measurement than the overbearingly ominous music of James Horner which emphasizes, to the point of exhaustion, the menace inherent in every forest twig, ripple of water or drifting finger of morning mist. Though Horner’s muscular faux-Goldsmith scoring is unceasingly oppressive, the composer  provides the only genuine atmosphere to Barbara Peeters’ “Humanoids From the Deep”, a haphazard pastiche of B-movie SF tropes of irresponsible science run amok and more au courant thematic glances at environmentalism and racial disharmony, which manages to be simultaneously sanctimoniously preachy and exploitatively vulgar, but in neither regard entertaining nor competently wrought.

To read the complete review, click the following link to: https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandlers-trailers-short-bits-for-emerging-cinephiles-and-a-better-america/

Posted in Drive-In Movies, horror, movie reviews, Movies, music, Roger Corman, science fiction, women, writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

To Tell the Truth: “Valerie” (1957)

WOMAN IN VIOLENT REPOSE: This Vemeer-like opening image from Gerd Oswald’s “Valerie” sets the stage for a Western less interested in the who than in the why of what appears to be a spontaneous multiple killing.

         “Valerie”  (1957)

    Given the artificial boundaries of ironically disreputable expressions of human behavior self-imposed on the American film industry by a proselytizing Production Code valerieINand a simultaneous melodramatic bent in which even the most vital details of history were often less important than accurate period beading of costumes, is it any wonder that truth has emerged as an instinctively elusive element in the Hollywood cinema firmament?

    Alfred Hitchcock once confused audiences and outraged critics in “Stage Fright” with the inclusion of a flashback of a character’s remembrance to be revealed as fraudulent; a perfectly legitimate narrative stratagem in keeping with the director’s celebrated penchant for viewer manipulation. Yet, in this instance, his directorial gamesmanship was met with derisive cries of “cheat” and “foul!”, as if he had betrayed an unwritten confidence between storyteller and patron; with a sudden and convenient epidemic of public amnesia that such trickery being the tool of a charlatan, only explanation in forgetting that the use of such manipulative shenanigans were precisely how Hitchcock gained his universal reputation in the first place. A mere two years later, Akira Kurosawa was applauded for handily obliterating the reliability of the dramaturgy of objective observation, though unlike Hitchcock, the deconstructive aims of “Rashomon” were met with universal applause, despite (or more likely, because of the finality in the film’s acquiescence of a radical reformation of traditional narrative to the realm of a deliberate unknowing. (Critics generally welcome the prospect of  the “artistically’ obtuse as it affords the appreciative reviewer a belief that they hold intellectual prestige over their audience).

     Occupying a middle ground between Hitchcock’s bald manipulation and the structural formality of Kurosawa‘s designed obscurity, Gerd Oswald’s surprisingly absorbing “Valerie” opens with an abrupt pre-credit massacre after which the film appears to settle into the guise of a fairly pedestrian trial drama in which the opening events will be explained. Adding to the curious nature of circumstance is the fact that the killings are perpetrated by a man whose reputation as a Civil War hero and local figure of prominent stature is announced as being unimpeachable; while his wife Valerie, who has miraculously survived the shooting, is publicly derided as a trollop deserving of her fate.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/nights-at-the-st-george-theater/

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If You Have the Time to Read This, You’re Not Earning Your Pay: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Sept. 2020 Special Labor Day Edition, Vol. 40/5

alaborb0If You Have Time to Read This, You’re Not Earning Your Pay: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Sept. 202 Special Labor Day Edition, Vol. 40/5

    In celebration of the American holiday acknowledging the working class, all of the effort required to put together this very special edition of the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz was expended a day ahead, therefore the expected (and not undeserved) reactions from our loyal readers ( in the form of the gnashing of teeth, the sacrificial burning in effigy of a certain unnamed subterranean dwelling Presidential candidate, the sending of large cash alaborsbgifdonations, etc., etc., etc.) of sympathy for a hard working (no chance of that) fellow who spends every day exercising the grey cells to little or no result, are to no avail. However, in the spirit of magnanimity toward those we at CSR are forced to share the dwindling supply of fresh oxygen with, we present this month’s edition of America’s most controversial alternative to literacy and common sense, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those brave distributors of  SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast addiction. In this edition, we once again celebrate those fine individuals who sell their souls for meager compensation to an ungrateful employer class. Your job is to identify all twenty five films. The first to do so will receive a newly polished CSR Culture Shock Award, guaranteed to bring a handsome return of five to ten in Attica when attempting to redeem it for cash at your local pawn shop. Good luck. 

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It Came From the File Cabinet: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Late Aug./Early Sept. 2020 Edition, Vol. 47

alabor24It Came From the File Cabinet: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Late Aug./Early Sept. 2020 Edition, Vol. 47

     It is with great sorrow that we at Chandler Swain Reviews regret to inform you that our traditional method of signaling the opening of the calendar month with the release of an all new Classic Film Images Photo Quiz will continue. Regardless of the thousandsalaborgif of pleas to desist from our loyal reader, as well as one particularly curious promissory threat of hostilities, delivered from a country to remain unmentioned but located in the Pacific Rim by diplomatic pouch, advising an immediate cessation to our monthly exercise in quizmaster frivolity, we shall continue. Granted, one of the primary burdens in compiling a monthly photo quiz which is both challenging and interesting to the reader is the invention of a theme which will allow for the compilation of images that are aesthetically nurturing to the eye as well as compellingly connective to that theme in a way which will enhance the puzzle solving experience, but in this month’s edition we have discarded any such laborious notions. So, without further ado we bring you this month’s edition (didn’t we just say that?) of America’s favorite cerebral exercise without the benefit of Jell-O or female wrestlers, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you as always by those grand folks who bring you SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition, we have simply, once again, dug our ink-stained little paws into our photo archives and have retrieved whatever fate determines to be a baseless and totally random series of interesting but nevertheless unconnected pieces to a larger puzzle. So, it is up to you to identify all thirty of the following images from the world of cinema without the assistance of a thematic clue. Ha! The first to correctly identify all thirty films will receive the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-digestively regular CSR Culture Shock Award; an internationally recognized testimonial to the fine art of wasting time with panache. Good luck.  

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This is No Way to Share Popcorn

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Mirror, Mirror: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, July 2020 Edition, Vol. XI-IX

Mirror, Mirror:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, July 2020 Edition, Vol. XI-IX

    History seems fated to repeat itself. The Age of the Selfie is the direct antecedent of the Golden Age of Mirror Gazing and both depend on the unbecoming ability to be fascinated by one’s own image while simultaneously remaining unaware that the latest series of Botox injections have relieved the elasticity from your natural features and left you with the pop-eyed grimace of a Tiki head. Then again, the rest of us can use a chuckle. With this anecdotal introductory note in mind, we present this month’s edition of America’s most persuasive excuse for the conversion of all secondary schools into heavily fortified reform facilities, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those fine folks who market SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition we cast our typically gloomy eye on the simple mirror and its narcissistic abuse in the cinema (And believe us when we tell you, we haven’t even scratched the surface.) Your task is to correctly identify all twenty five images and to let us know. Otherwise it’s a rather fruitless venture if you keep it to yourself. The first to correctly identify all will receive the ever-prestigious CSR Culture Shock Award, now fortified with Vitamin B12 and Riboflavin. Good luck.  

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No Explanation Necessary…