Vampire Redux: “House of Dark Shadows” (1970)

houseofdarkshadows2.jpg                     “House of Dark Shadows”  (1970)

    Within the realm of popular culture, so ingrained is the image of Count Dracula in the public consciousness that any manifestation of a vampiric figure who might escape the literary eclipse of Bram Stoker’s iconic creation would have to be regarded as something of houseofdarkshadowsOSa triumph of characterization. Such an occasion arises with the appearance of Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins on the supernatural television soap opera Dark Shadows and in its cinematic incarnation “House of Dark Shadows”, a film that continues the character dynamics of the program, but also extends those characters into a plot sufficiently independent of the need of the source material’s continuous flow of daily evolutionary exposition (and in the process, exposing several evident borrowings from the  filmic antecedents of Stoker’s novel, which are skillfully woven into the fabric of the narrative), thus granting a comfortable continuation of the home experience while being entirely accessible to the novice viewer.

    That director Dan Curtis manages to make this extension of the soap opera entirely cinematic, without a glimmer of aesthetic resemblance to the daytime version is a testament to his skill as a director of atmospherically immersive mise en scene, especially in judiciously upping the ante as to the explicitness of the horrors presented, extended beyond the limits imposed by network Standards and Practices; bloody gruesome as befitting the subject matter, but somehow less exploitative than the average Hammer film.houseofdarkshadows3 In Curtis’ film, there is a purpose, and within the context of the story, a tragic inevitability to the events which grant the violence the weight of consequence. There is also a great deal of dread generated in the film, which is, no doubt, the result of the same necessary application of restraint in telling such potentially garish material under restrictively disciplined guidelines. The experience seems to have granted the director an appreciation of building tension through mood and patient exposition, allowing the audience to nervously anticipate rather than to being simply assaulted by cruder but more widely used shock tactics.


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Over Troubled Waters: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Nov. 2017 Edition, Vol. 7384750069858

troubled1Over Troubled Waters: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Nov. 2017 Edition, Vol. 7384750069858

     As the song goes, “what goes up, must come down”. That’s right, you may have been expecting a little slice of Paul Simon, but it is the sworn duty of everyone here at the administrative offices of CSR to confound, confuse and disrupt the flow of thought, the momentum of action and the source for any mental designs upon our readership to upset the delicate flow of control of thought on these pages. So there. That being said, it is time, once again, for the latest edition of the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, or as it was once listed in the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary (before they caught on to our penciling it in on the updated galleys), “America’s favorite (well, you really don’t have troubled7any choice in the matter …do you?) complete waste of time” probably better spent at solving such a minor problem as how to magically reduce a certain Fat Kid on the far edge of the Pacific Rim into the contents of a dustbin, but this is the burden to which all good men and women must be subjected in a free and open society. Again, so there. Anyway, to the task at hand. In this edition, brought to you-  as always  -by those crazy folk who market the Free World’s favorite breakfast candy, SKITTLES, (except in Vermont, where the preferred snack food is swallowing bile), we celebrate those curious but necessary structures called bridges, and their timely appearances in motion pictures. (Timely since there would be an awful lot of drowning actors if they were forced to cross even a puddle without the assistance of a team of heavily armed assistants, body doubles and chiropractic consultants.) Each of the following sixteen images is taken from a film in which a bridge features prominently. Your task is to identify all sixteen photos, let us know of your conclusions and await either congratulations or commiserations on your efforts. The first to correctly identify all of the images will receive, whether they like it or not, the sacred CSR Culture Shock Award, the only religious icon useful as an oral contraceptive. (Just tell anyone you are the proud possessor of the Award and they’re guaranteed to refuse to sleep with you.) Good luck.


















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Flop Sweat as an Art Form: “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” (1966)

              “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken”  (1966)

   If “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” were to be completely dismissed as kid’s stuff, a late arrival of the venerable haunted house sub-genre which had already seen countless permutations of dramatic, comedic and campy collisions between frightened mortals and spectral pranksters with varying degrees of attitude, then such an assessment would have to be blind to the presence of one of the screen’s most idiosyncratic comic actors: Don Knotts.

   That the slightness of the film fails to be offset by an asterisk in resource volumes of film history, it is through the sometimes cruelly unfair hands of circumstance by which a performer, who under more provident historic placement would have found proper appreciation and nurturing to take a place on the short list of indisputably iconic comic screen stars (what a silent comedian he would have made!), may be relegated to the lesser elevated status of ” screen talent” rather than “artist”  by virtue of unfortunate contractual associations with studios (Universal and Disney) who failed, especially with the dissolution of the studio star system, to court and develop materials which might fully elicit the full range of Knotts’ abilities. Substantively, as in all of his feature work, the film feels like a trifle, an aesthetically indeterminate variation of an extended television situation comedy or a product of the shameless surrender of Hollywood in their exhausting decade-plus battle with said idiot box and a concession toghost1  the flavorless homogenization of material consistent with much situational comedy. Even the cast exudes small screen déjà vu,  comprised as it is of an extensive collection of character actors, many who cut their teeth in the cinema, but whose recurring weekly exposure on television gives associative reinforcement to the cinematic slightness of the work. Outside of Knotts, there is nary an actor, regardless of their innate abilities, who does not concede to the narrow demands that afflict performers when subjected to skill eroding continuous formulaic role playing. 

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Going Native: “What the Butler Saw” (1950)

                  “What the Butler Saw”         (1950)

     God bless English servitude, for without domestic help, with whom would the eccentrics of the privileged ranks commiserate? “What the Butler Saw”- not to be confused with the Joe Orton play of the same name -is a comedy which derives its humor equally from both the standard formulas of cross cultural clashes and the introduction of disorder into the life of a figure whose role in life is defined by the observance of orderly propriety, in other words, an example of the long standing British tradition of simultaneously exalting and kicking the ankles of their titled classes.

     Returning to his estate after an absence of ten years as the Governor of  the Coconut Islands, a dotty Earl (Edward Rigby), accompanied by his stalwart butler Bembridge (Henry Mollison), begins to unload crates filled with hunting trophies (these Pacific islands somehow fully stocked with alligators, crocodiles and leopards and …is that a rhino?) when Bembridge discovers a stowaway: native Princess Lapis (Mercy Haystead), Hiding within one of the shipped boxes, the young royal is eager to continue what has obviously been a heavily romantic relationship with the not-quite-unflappable servant. Her presence creates a greater strain between the snooty class disdain of the Earl’s daughter, Lady Marly (Eleanor Hallam) and grandson Gerald (Michael Ward), who is prone to expressing  exasperation over what both the Earl’s behavior and Lapis’ surprise appearance will have on his position at the Foreign Office. Attempting to contain a possible scandal becomes secondary when Lapis’ father, a King on one of the Islands, asserts declarations of a possible war sparked over his mistaken belief that his daughter has been abducted.

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Brained: “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter” (1966)

        “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter”  (1966)

     Released as a double feature with “Billy the Kid vs. Dracula”, William Beaudine’s “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter” is the kind of matinee movie in which it might have proved prudent to hand out a Rosetta Stone to each attending tot, as the mixture of impenetrable accents (are they supposed to sound Mexican or Austrian or is half of the cast simply afflicted with mouths full of novocaine?) render much of Carl Hittleman’s dialogue incomprehensible. On the other hand, the chatter that does rise above the fog of obscurity makes make you wish for a sudden flare-up of hysterical deafness. However, no amount of desensitizing can disguise the fact that the performers would have had to graduate from decades of Actor’s Studio training to rise to the level of appalling.

   Maria (Narda Onyx) and Rudolph (Steven Geray) Frankenstein are conducting experiments in a Southwest matte painting above a backlot village. Maria, concerned that her continued series of failed experiments (she replaces healthy brains with artificial ones so that she might create “someone to do our bidding who can’t be put to death”) have emptied the local village of usable children (unless her plans include sending the mindlessly obedient tykes to ravage the neighborhood demanding Burpee Seed orders, it’s unclear as to why she doesn’t understand that her dream of world domination doesn’t make a bit of sense), until after consulting her grandfather’s notes (which even the stupidest of scientists might have done before running through the local population), she discovers an error in her medical procedure and realizes “a man, a giant” would be a more suitable candidate for her experimentation.

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Necking: “Billy the Kid vs. Dracula” (1966)


billythekid2            “Billy the Kid vs. Dracula”  (1966)

   There isn’t a great deal of merit in William Beaudine’s “Billy the Kid vs, Dracula”, but the film makes an excellent case for the furtherance of black and white in shooting horror films; the garish, overly bright television lighting emphasizing the cheaply manufactured production values, while making it obvious that there isn’t a hint of moodbillythekidOS visually attempted. In fact, the only semblance of atmosphere in the entire film is the score by Raoul Kraushaar, with otherworldly elements introduced with fanfares of frenzied harp runs and theremin stings.

   Riding a stagecoach, Dracula (who is never identified as such, though his inappropriate western garb consisting of a lined cape and top hat  gives him away in the first scene) is introduced to Mary Ann Bentley (Marjorie Bennett) who shows him a photo of her lovely daughter Betty (Melinda Plowman), with whom the vampire is immediately smitten. The next morning, the occupants of the stagecoach are massacred after Dracula slays an Indian maiden (or Hollywood’s version of a squaw, who wears enough cosmetics to go undercover as a Goldwyn Girl) during a rest stop. He then assumes the identity of Betty’s uncle-  whom she has never met but was also on the stagecoach  -in an attempt to accost the girl and make her his mate. Fortunately, Betty has a protector in fiancee William Bonney (Chuck Courtney), whose ability with a six-shooter is meaningless against the undead, but who will continue to act rashly despite the fact that his dismissal of knowing advice places Betty in desperate jeopardy.

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    Adrift: “Fidelio, l’odyssée d’Alice”  (2014)

        “Fidelio, l’odyssée d’Alice”  (2014)

Fidelity has long been used as a thematic excuse for Hollywood excursions into cheap eroticism, using the subject as an excuse for glossy portraits of high profile versions of Joe Sarno films so convoluted in their melodrama they would make Douglas Sirk weep.

“Fidelio, l’odyssée d’Alice”,  begins rather inauspiciously with a long shot of a nude woman swimming in the ocean, a moment which suggests both innocence and sexuality, a lyrical balance which will define this extraordinary debut feature by Lucie Borieteau.   The woman is thirty year old Alice (Ariane Labed), who has been assigned as a second engineer of the freighter Fidelio, leaving her boyfriend, graphic designer Felix (Anders Danielsen Lie), for an extended period in a situation of long distance career separation that has been well traveled in the movies (the examples in the war genre alone are too lengthy to contemplate), but seldom with the complexity of feeling and rarely, if ever, with such a frank honesty regarding the equality of desires within men and women, a perspective not limited through overt sexuality (there is that, but in a move of startling originality, the sex scenes actually advance character development) but in the ways both genders find definition by shared experience with loneliness, relationship insecurity and a palpable fear that one will be unable to find someone who might significantly ease the absence of reciprocal intimacy.

Alice’s world is a world of men, her romantic isolation magnified by the fact that she is the lone woman among the Fidelio’s crew, but in a twist that allows for a naturally reactive character development rather than narrative contrivance, there isn’t a hint of sexism on the ship. Regardless of her gender, little is made of this division, a perspective fideliothat is both refreshing and essential in dispensing with feminist manifestos, thus allowing the film to examine the more valuable, less thematically restrictive shared human experience.  Alice is truly one with the crew, and with divisive gender boundaries neutralized, the film is able to realize a non-critical but realistic dynamic in which individual personalities rally in the comfort of the company of the situational peer rather than one determined by biology. It is a camaraderie born of voluntary inclusion rather than dictated by social doctrine. Alice is openly welcomed, without a hint of self-consciousness, into the fold of raucous fraternity; the unfiltered coarseness of macho braggadocio and profane jocularity is shared with Alice, not as acts of humiliation, but of bonding.


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Veiled Threats: “Bride Wars” (2009)


              “Bride Wars”  (2009)

   Women haven’t fared particularly well in the realm of recent American film comedies; the occasions for a revision in the cinematic perception of the post-feminist woman being a rare species, as the gentler sex is perpetually relegated to the diminished stature of a driven career woman willing to drop all personal aspirations at the drop of a hat in order become the idealized subservient (think office pool Stepford Girlfriend) in order to win their dream man, or, worse yet, degenerate into the most odoriferous level of sophomoric crudity in mirroring the lowest possible standards of hijinks (in which the inclusion of a high volume of flatulence, vomiting and a host of scatological disfuntion signals a guarantee for the studio to open the film at a minimum of 2,500 screens) of  their male movie counterparts.

   The cynical, self-righteous absence of wit that has become signatory of the SNL set has become the standard to which almost all contemporary movie comedy has declined: wit has been replaced by an aggressive dare: that to find the film unamusing is a sign of being lethally unhip with the times. After all, the popularity (in box office numbers) announce triumphant success with the public’s taste; though this is only the result of decades of formulating opening weekends as opposed to the tried and true method of success being a film with longevity. 

    What is generally missing in women’s comedies is a sense of sincere bonded sisterhood woven with an independent spirit existing beyond the influence of the male gender, giving bold definition of the woman as as both a member of a self-sufficient social sorority and as her individual self. This would also extend to reaching beyond the examples of behavior defining the current male movie role models. (As antiquated as young audiences might find the comedies of Doris Day, there is a defiant individualism at work even in the most domesticated of scenarios. One does not acquire the image of a professional virgin without thinking for one’s self.)


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Border Crossing: “The Undefeated” (1969)

      “The Undefeated”  (1969)

    The American Civil War has received relatively little serious attention in Hollywood, generally serving as a backdrop or as a passing reference point in the larger scheme ofundefeatedOS like period romantic dramas or westerns. The illiteracy of the studios in sidestepping history in favor melodramatic contrivance has left generations, who have mistakenly relied upon popular culture as a legitimate source of informational insight, ignorant of the complexities of history. Is it then any wonder that an even wider chasm in the awareness gap is present in the history of our neighbor to the immediate south? Despite the multiplicity of films which frequent tourist excursions through a national heritage immersed in recurring threats of revolutionary unrest, names like Villa, Zapata, Juárez, Diaz and Maximilian might as well be the propriety names on border town cantinas rather than major figures in both the War of the French Intervention and the Mexican Revolution. That a Hollywood film manages to flaunt cultural and historical ignorance in a multinational setting exhibits a genuine flair for promoting the shamelessly crass to an unsuspecting (and possibly uncaring, but that’s the subject for an entirely different time) mass audience. However, that’s exactly what Andrew V. McLagen’s “The Undefeated” delivers; an unsurprising, unexceptional and unnecessary western which manages to diminish the Civil War as an excuse for a running series of worn quips, false piety and a particularly unsavory and unsympathetic willingness to show, on several occasions, a disdain for national sovereignty.

    Rock Hudson portrays Colonel James Langdon (based rather loosely on real life General Joseph Shelby), a Confederate officer who refuses to acknowledge the events at Appomattox, and forms a fugitive caravan with his men to penetrate their way through Mexico and meet up with the Napoleonic appointee Emperor Maximilian; an arrangement to which we are never privy to the important details (or any), but it must be assumed that they would act as a mercenary force against the legitimate president, Benito Juárez. Heroes indeed. The film’s portrayal of the Southern sore losers is entirely sympathetic to the point of depicting them as victims of heartless Yankee carpetbagging opportunists (a pair of land speculators clumsily attempt to low-ball a transfer of property, a scene lifted almost verbatim from “Gone With the Wind”) and bends over backwards to show that Langdon bears no ill will against his now freed slaves by handing one of them his heirloom gold pocket watch, the kind of generous parting gift that would surely lead to the poor recipient being lynched for theft in such a magnanimous political climate.

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Damsels in Distress: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Oct. 2017 Edition, Vol. o – o

distressgif2Damsels in Distress: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Oct, 2017 Edition, Vol. o – o

     It may be politically incorrect to point out the obvious fact that holding a door open for a lady might well bring widespread repercussions of accusations of sexism, misogyny, gender bias, economic injustice and perhaps even homosexual panic, though in our experience here at CSR headquarters, our non-male staffers are generally mollified by under the table non-disclosure agreed payments of tens and twenties. What this has to do with this month’s edition of America’s favorite civil rights violation, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz (brought to you, as always, by the F.R.I.E,N.D.S. oSKITTLES, the Freedom Caucus protecting your right to enjoy America’s favorite breakfast candy), is beyond our understanding, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to make snarky remarks about an unnamed fiery sore loser and her latest volume of masochistic wish fulfillment, so bear with us, and expect a slender envelope under the door at any minute.  In the meantime, now seems as appropriate time as any to mend any fences with the fairer sex and celebrate the silver screen’s attention to endangered debs; those fair ladies who, for one reason or another, find themselves overwhelmed by danger, either physically or psychologically, yet all had the class and fortitude never to sink into a self-pitying wallow, screaming to the heavens “What Happened?” (There. That wasn’t so hard after all.) The following sweet sixteen images come from films in which the illustrated woman is facing a severely taxing situation. Your job, as always, is to identify the name of all sixteen films; the first to do so will receive the celebrated gender neutral (though, reportedly, still chauvinistic) CSR Culture Shock Award, America’s sweetest confection since the invention of horehound candy. Good luck.


















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Delirium Tremors: “The Vampire” (1957)

      “The Vampire”  (1957)

     A traditionally supernatural  creature meets modern science in “The Vampire”, a by-the-numbers monster movie which can more comfortably (though it doesn’t elevate the quality of the production) viewed as a drug addiction cautionary tale, than an effective spook show, though even as a social parable, one might find “Bigger Than Life” preferable to this not quite mad doctor movie which is only slightly less silly than (though not as much fun as) “Reefer Madness”.

    Dr. Paul Beecher (John Beal, in an admirably committed, sweaty performance which is foiled at every turn by the insipid dialogue of Pat Fiedler) attempts to reconcile a quiet life in a country town as the local doc-  complete with cute as a button daughter Betsy (Lydia Reed) and a pretty as a peach nurse Carol (Coleen Gray) -after he has mistakenly swallowed a mind altering experimental drug for a migraine headache; a bit of medical sloppiness which might explain the complaints from his patients, though ignores the irony that these same possible malpractice filers also encompass the victim list resulting from his murderous nocturnal prowls.  A virtual companion piece to Columbia’s 1956 “The Werewolf, itself a melding of Universal horror models with 1950’s SF, “The Vampire” expands the focus of the usual altruistic scientific researchers “playing God” and crippled with astonishingly unreliable foresight genre, by giving an almost unbearable attention to the victim of misapplied experimentation, resulting in characters vying with Lon Chaney. Jr.’s Lawrence Talbot for the title of the most relentlessly whiny homicidal stalker in the movies.

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Love in the Fast Lane: “Populaire” (2012)

      “Populaire”        (2012) One of the obvious ingredients comprising the classic American romantic comedy- an ingredient long since abandoned in the genre, subject to the coarsening depiction of the relationship between the sexes since the too long … Continue reading

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Passion Play: “Matinee” (2009)

matinee1                “MATINÉE”   (2009)

A man and a woman encounter each other on a mattress and engage in heated coital action until reaching mutual satisfaction. With the exception of an equality emphasized in the pleasure principle, the scene is hardly more remarkable than any countless number of  filmed vignettes which exist for no other reason than to stimulate the libido. That this sex scene can be reasonably identified as the sole reason for the existence of the film as a whole is not without significance in the debate between Art and populism, eroticism and pornography.

Directed by self-professed “feminist pornographer” (as opposed to the normal brand of porn director who objectifies a woman by filming her naked having sex?) Jennifer Lyon Bell, “Matinée” is a short vignette which professes to address the matter of the legitimacy of live sexual performance as an enhancement to a greater artistic enterprise. That this is a central area of discussion in the greater conflict between the “legitimate” arts and pornography gives the film an appearance of an underlying intellectual purpose. However, the actual threadbare scenario, after an introductory dialogue suggesting a situation in which a move into graphic sexual performance  can be construed as the only possible course in displaying a dedication to artistic purpose, exposes any declaration of higher ambitions to be disingenuous and firmly fixes the film in the unsavory arena of pornographic vignettes, to which the “adult” film industry has willingly surrendered a once promised attempt to elevate into a merging with commercial and artistic legitimacy.

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Hanging by a Thread: “Il cappotto” / “The Overcoat” (1952)

             “Il cappotto” / “The Overcoat”  (1952)

In “Il Cappotto”, director Alberto Lattuada transposes Nikolai Gogol’s  short story from 1800’s Russia to a contemporary Italy, and while the film is representative of an early fledgling move in Italian cinema in the use of a more sentimental, comedic wink in addressing issues heretofore touched upon by the harshly unforgiving gaze of neorealism, it also retains ilcappottoOSthe original tale’s conclusion-  the spectral revenge of a character haunting the townspeople and one particular authority in particular  -that signifies a rare advance of a non-genre Italian film embracing the realm of the supernatural.

That Lattuada’s film signifies an unrecognized leap forward in the formation of many of the characteristics now commonly associated with the Italian cinema (his influence on the young Fellini can be seen in their collaborative directorial effort “Luci del varietà”), not the least significant of which is a rich vein of sentimental humanism unashamedly running through a story that in Gogol’s version is ultimately sympathetic to his protagonist after a rather cruelly drawn exposition. The original story’s bluntly critical, if darkly satiric, consideration of the oppressive and dislocating effect on the individual by both institutional social structures and their companion authority has been converted into a more comic poke at corrupt and vacuous bureaucrats whose authority seems only to exist to serve enhance their own benefits and their pay for their private pleasures. This film adaptation, by Lattuada and his small army of co-scenarists (Giorgio Prosperi, Giordano Corsi, Enzo Correlli, Luigi Materba, Leonardo Sinisgalli and Cesare Zavattini), is characterized by a mollifying of tone and a major shift in narrative focus; prioritizing the bureaucratic antagonists rather than the individual protagonist.

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Ghost of a Stance: “Sleuth” (2007)


0000sleuth1    Sleuth”   (2007)

    In their peculiar and particularly unsatisfying production of  Anthony Shaffer’s play “Sleuth”, scenarist Harold Pinter and director Kenneth Branagh have fashioned not so 0000sleuthOSmuch a reworking of the popular thriller, nor even merely a reinterpretation, but a savage evisceration that reduces a fizzy confection to mere bad faux Art. If Pinter’s adaptation is characterized by only the trace remains of the plot outline of the original, he seems quite content to stuff the empty carcass with his own signatory brand of elliptical, obtuse conversation and stony pauses. Compounding the felony is it is aesthetically matched-  and then some  -mise-en-scene, engulfing the action in a suffocating shroud of creeping, claustrophobic blue-tinged paralysis by the director and his cinematographer Haris Zambarlookos. Seldom has an entire filmmaking team seemed laser locked in perfect unison to the production of a singular vision so spectacularly wrongheaded on every visible level; a vision which encompasses not only a total substantive reconception of the original’s thematic core, but of the willful desire to deny entertainment. While there is nothing expressed wrong with the concept of remake by way of reinterpretation (this is actually preferable than a retread based solely upon commercially impelled creative sloth), it becomes fair critical game to question the reasoning compelling those responsible for said interpretive shift; especially with the marketing materials shamelessly s blaring BRANAGH….PINTER, as if the mere mention of the names were a generic signpost to a consumer guarantee, promising a cultural epiphany.

     Beginning with a complete rewrite of the play’s text, Pinter has transformed a deliberately stylish cat-and-mouse into an exercise in groundless tedium that is under the miscalculated delusion that ham-fisted exchanges of smirky but witless japes are a substitution for cleverness.  Even the conceptual set-up of an escalating game of wits is undone from the very start by placing the players are on an equitable footing (entirelysleuth2 foregoing the original’s blatant-  but essential  -subtext of classicism), as if both had enjoyed a prenumbetory insight into the script. Situations don’t arise from the nature flow and consequence of events, but, given the  at the convenience   even the plausibility of a necessary collapse is undone by the brevity (and thus intensity) of the set-up. What is the rush? Perhaps a realization the more extended the plotting, the more the danger of exposing the latent of transparency in the script’s trickery, which may explain but hardly excuses Branagh’s annoying penchant for distracting visual asides which fail to emphasize the obsessions of a particular character as did similar but more successful visual footnoting in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’ 1972 version. In Branagh’s hands these diversions merely feel like ill-designed attempts at padding an empty scenario with a vacuous techno bric-a-brac.

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Chandler’s Trailers: “Where Eagles Dare” (1969)

    There is not a poetic, contemplative, emotional nor genuinely human moment in ‘Where Eagles Dare”. It’s a damnably dirty dumbbell of a film, unashamedly made to excite the senses of undiscriminating viewers to whom empty, noisy and unceasing explosions, gun battles and general mayhem are acceptable substitutions for intelligence, artistry and clarity. It’s a film that shouldn’t work at any level: supremely silly, illogical and preposterous. Yet, work it does, if one doesn’t resist viewing it through a primitively visceral lens; on a level that brings the film back to reflect one of the original elemental pleasures of the cinema: the excitement of the cliffhanger with its calculatedly frequent perils and subsequent escapes; though admittedly often through means of shameless misdirection and more than a small amount of narrative flim flammery. Director Brian G. Hutton’s movie plays like a hyperactive serial with all of the boring recapitulation scenes excised and the chapter climaxes ramped up and italicized. 

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An Intimate Life: Undressing Emmanuelle by Sylvia Kristel

kristel2             Undressing Emmanuelle 
by Sylvia Kristel

    The memoirs of a Euro starlet whose greatest claim to fame was in embodying the cinematic incarnation of the eponymous character in the provocative roman a clef by Emmanuelle Arsan, Undressing Emmanuelle (originally and tellingly published in    as Nue) is a fairly unflinching portrait of fame sought, achieved and pilfered, told with surprising, unapologetic, self-critical candor that is rare in film autobiographies. It is also a bookundressing1 that is equally notable for its intimacy of human insight as well as its refusal to cater to more lurid appetites seeking an accounting of sexual sensationalism.

    Despite the public  prominence of Ms. Kristel’s screen image as a self-professed “goddess of Love” (or, perhaps more accurately, a fresh faced representation of repressed middlebrow wish fulfillment), the sparscity of graphically prurient anecdotes is both surprising and refreshing. Seekers of lurid gossip had best look elsewhere. If one is seeking an abundance of name-dropping celebrity disclosures, the book aims more directly at a subject of interest which the author clearly deems as having greater relevance in terms of having more formative and lasting influence on the Self, through which all subsequent intimacies in life are inextricably intertwined, and thus given narrative rebirth through an unforgiving filter of candid remembrance and often painful experience: family.

    The book is written in relatively short bursts of anecdotal recollections. Events are often quickly recounted with a brevity of a memory flash, forming a somewhat sporadic yet cohesive narrative which unfolds as if the reader were attendant at a most intimate therapy session. Brimming with observational insights, virtually every entry, no matter how brief, contributes an insightful rumination which builds upon the next into a patchwork quilt of unexpected emotional depth. Memoirs are the act of recollection in which a selective inclusion of events mark significant reflections of resultant character shaping knowledge and wisdom obtained; the relaying of the metamorphic effect of the cumulative imprint of personal history.

    The indelible effect which Ms. Kristel’s nakedly painful confessions cannot help but emphasize is an inescapable psychic imprint resulting from the helpless nature of childhood. Mercilessly deep insecurities born from parental discord, real or amplified by highly susceptible imagination, have a scarring effect upon her adult personality-  and subsequently, her self-destructive behavioral patterns  -which are evident in a person who has clearly surrendered her formative emotional priorities to those same parentally based anxieties. For all of her bravura, this was an individual desperate for approval and affection, who found herself at a very early age as a global cultural symbol of modern female libertinism.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:





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Blind Date: “Four Sided Triangle” (1953)


IS THIS THE FACE OF ROMANCE? With a lighting design such as this, is it any surprise that madness,or at least very poorly considered judgments, may be close at hand?  

                 “Four Sided Triangle”   (1953)

Commonly, science fiction films unwisely minimize (or altogether eliminate) the human element in favor of exploiting the more fantastic elements of the story, the greatest commonality of creative exhaustion manifested through the appearance of invasionaryfoursidedOS aliens or spectacular atomic mutations. Now, since SF is fundamentally engaged with science and technology and its applications in how it affects Man and how he socializes, progresses, exists;  it would seem an ungrateful contradiction to complain of a film in which the “human factor” is preeminent. Promoting such a rare divergence from the surrender to gaudy sensation is Terence Fisher’s “Four Sided Triangle”, a film in which the scientific backdrop of the story finds a pronounced catalyst in the emotional foibles of the human heart. The film’s simplistic conceit is a wish fulfillment fantasy in which romantic longing finds a second chance;  though the context of the theme’s exploration is so preposterously conceived as to surrender to the perils of even rudimentary considerations of logic, not to mention common sense. But, being that this is science fiction, what could possibly go wrong?

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

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Cesspool: “Whirlpool” (1970)

whirlpoolgif              “WHIRLPOOL”       (1970)

  “Protracted” isn’t often the first word that comes to mind when think of film thrillers, especially of the psycho-sexual variety, but a flexible vocabulary certainly comes in handy when talking about José Ramón Larraz’ directorial  debut “Whirlpool”  (AKA: “She Died With Her Boots On”), an exploitation hybrid whose offense is magnified by being marketed using extravagantly overreaching comparisons to “Psycho”, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” and “Repulsion”. Such unfathomable symbiotic attribution is designed to entice curious patrons of unnuanced sexually violence, but in the process of comparison there is a danger of conjuring prior artistic heights which tend to make the deficiencies of the current offering all the more obvious.

    The film wastes no time in establishing a tone of enervated dreariness with the introduction of a pair of emotionally inanimate blonde mannequins:  Theo (Karl Lanchbury), a photographer specializing in memorializing the horrified throes of women being assaulted and murdered (making the absence of  a mention of “Peeping Tom” in the advertising campaign difficult to fathom) and his Aunt Sara (Pia Andersson, bearing a distracting resemblance to a mature Tippi Hedren), who it is revealed to not be Theo’s aunt (huh?), thus relieving the film-  slightly  -from entrance into more provocative area of an incestuous relationship during the film’s confused but plentiful sexual gamesmanship. The film is essentially a chamber piece involving the aforementioned duo and Sara’s latest pickup Tulia (Vivian Neves), an aspiring model who for no apparent reason accepts an invitation to Sara’s isolated “cottage” for an open-ended holiday (with predictably escalating dire results) and who breaks into absurd metaphysical musings whenever the conversation dries up. (As Sara comments, Tulia is “susceptible to atmospheres”; the kind of dialogue straining to be taken seriously as a camouflage for all of the sleaze that is the film’s true raison d’etre.)

 To read the complete review, link the following link to:

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Night Visitors: “Invasion of the Saucer Men” (1957)


                   “Invasion of the Saucer Men”  (1957)

     A flying saucer lands in a deserted field and wreaks havoc in the lives of an alcoholic drifter, a pair of teen lovers and a misanthropic farmer. 

    It only takes a moment for “Invasion of the Saucer Men” to reveal its intention to be taken as a less than dramatic SF outing, with a merry display of humorous title card drawings and a Ronald Stein score more reminiscent of Spike Jones than the usual ominous orchestral stings for which similar 1950’s B-movie horror/SF scores were noted. This lightness of tone results  in a somewhat  paradoxical final product in which an adherence to the formula genre tropes of nocturnal menace are presented with a cavalier pie-in-the-eye tone that is amusing to a point.

    The film follows the typical generational denial of credibility in getting the thick-headed authorities to notice what is going on right under their very trooper hats (a considerably new but surprisingly predictable trope considering that at the time the prominence of teens within the genre was in it’s relative infancy), and, most importantly, the usual body count of disposable human victims. Oddly, the lighter tone works to nudge the obvious absurdities inherent in the genre, though the lightness of tone is at the mercy of the inventiveness of screenwriter, whose idea of fun is often indecipherable from the strait faced target of his parody. Is this a symptom of a genre which has already sunk to trivial depths and boxed itself into an unapologetic repetition of unchallenging tropes, or is absurdity of the formula resistant to a dramatic presentation bereft of any camp value?

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

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Up in the Air: “Battle of Britain: The Making of a Film” by Leonard Mosley

Sieg Huh?: German advisers failing to appreciate that the British have a right to feel a bit testy about the Blitz and the attempted invasion of England is just one of the many incongruous moments vividly retold in Leonard Mosely’s highly entertaining and informative Battle of Britain: The Making of a Film.

Battle of Britain: The Making of a Film by Leonard Mosley

    Even the most ardent auteurist, once their proclivity toward overzealous artistic deification is tranquilized, will eventually admit that film making is a collective creative process, though most “insider” books maintain an enthrallment with the generally accepted hierarchy of status and celebrity which comes with starstruck adoration limited to either the director or actor. Thus is the ingloriously myopic limitation of ambition with which most of most contemporary cinematic “how it was done” books are executed and conceived. Happily Leonard Mosley’s highly readable Battle of Britain: The Making of  a Film is a most welcome exception to this rule; a detailed yet thoroughly accessible journal of an incredibly complex low-tech but ambitiously physical production that curiously becomes a narrative filled with more suspense, humor and drama than the subject film.

    Fortunately, for this story behind an all-star production, there is an intelligently deliberate aversion toward putting the focus of the book’s interests on the performers; the usual reliance on the casting process and subsequent colorful tales of on-set clashing egos is missing, wisely substituted with incidents that forego gossip in the interest of anecdotes which illuminate the mechanics of the collective creative process and the delicate balance by which director and producers must negotiate unforeseen crises of clashing cultures and cruelly uncooperative Nature.  Ultimately, the stars of “Battle of Britain” are not the actors themselves, but the airplanes through which the wartime recreations are possible. In an exhaustive search which is more times than not rewarded through sheer luck, Mosley records the unceasing attendance to the minutiae necessary in physically coordinating and realizing a massive multinational production depicting the German attempt to decimate the R.A.F. as a precursor to the invasion of Great Britain. Recounted are endless meetings and negotiations with film distributors and backers, many of whom-  as in the case with the illustrious Rank Organization  -find their initial enthusiasm in having  an association with such a patriotically prestigious enterprise softened by a requisite commitment of financial resource. As Mosley practically illustrates, regardless of the stars, the story or the creative integrity of a project, filmmaking is ultimately a matter of money.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:   




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A Case for Cautionary Galoshes: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz; Sept. 2017 Edition; Vol. 40

A Case for Cautionary Galoshes: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz; Sept. 2017 Edition; Vol. 40

    Occasionally life mirrors popular art (like when the invented adventures of one Baron Munchausen have recently been updated in a “nonfiction” version entitled What Happened [AKA, How Come My Husband is More Popular Than I When He’s Such a Dick?]), though that mirroring is not always a friendly reminder of those elements in which we casually find vicarious entertainment value, despite the fact that the source of amusement be of a nature that might be abhorrent or, at least, unlikely to be welcomed in the context of a rapidly disappearing perspective called reality; such as extreme violence or bumping into Elizabeth Taylor. Such, sad to say at this time, it is with the subject of floods, a phenomenon quite irksome in the real world, while providing safe fixes of visceral thrills in the continuously hyper-stimulated bag of tricks we call the cinema. (Not to mention that the rise of real world heroism and selfless humanitarianism eclipses and shatters the self-perpetuated myths of those lecturing, preening Hollywood phonies whose experience with genuine heroics comes no closer than standing in front of a green screen.) So, with this in mind, and with all deference to those good folks of the Lone Star State, we present this month’s edition of America’s most trusted source of cerebral irritation. the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by SKITTLESAmerica’s favorite organic artificially flavored breakfast candy. In this challenge we give attention to those films which feature that enemy to basement apartment dwellers everywhere: the flood. Each of the following twelve images are taken from film which feature an inconvenient excess of water as a major element or climax. The challenge, as always, is to correctly identify the following twelve images. The first to do so will receive the increasingly rare CSR Culture Shock award, entirely usable as a fishing lure while trout fishing. Good luck.













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Where’s the Pork?: “The Ramen Girl” (2008)


ramengirl5         “The Ramen Girl”    (2008)

     Much that is wrong with the modern American cinema is not the limited to the widespread gravitation toward an increasingly youthful demographic and the immature cultural curiosity to which it is gleefully and voluntarily mired, nor the industry reliance ramengirlOSon recycling past successes with remakes featuring newly minted though woefully insufficient faces who fail to grasp the significance of appreciable screen presence, but what is alarmingly present in many, especially commercial populist variety, of the newer Hollywood features is a reliance on the memory of cinema as opposed to drawing from experience in something called “life” (and this will include the once vaunted but now homogenized “independent” splinter of the American filmmaking community, whose rebellious creative ideology has been sadly subsumed by the cheap allure of the attainment of an undeserved status within a “counterculture” by way of, or worse, being screened at any one of the myriad of film festivals which have uselessly proliferated like fleas on a feral cat since the implementation and premature canonization of the Sundance Film Festival.

    Abby (Brittany Murphy) is a young American who, almost immediately upon arriving in Tokyo, is abandoned by her callow boyfriend, sending her into a brief emotional funk highlighted by sudden flares of hallucinatory portents. During a particularly vulnerable evening, she visits a local ramen shop and pours out her heart to the proprietor/chef Maezumi (Toshiyuki Nishida) and his wife Reiko (Kimiko Yo), both concerned and puzzled by this sudden outburst since neither speaks English. Abby is appreciative of their kindness and the ramen soup, and in due course is seized by a new career calling, cajoling Maezumi into becoming her ramen sensei.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

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What a Dip: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, August 2017 Edition, Vol. H2O

What a Dip: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, August 2017 Edition, Vol. H2O

    During the current climate in which it seems many who should know better, by all appearances, are all wet, allow us to present this month’s installment of America’s favorite early symptom of premature mental decay, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you this episode by FRIENDS OF SKITTLES, the national coalition aimed at putting daily doses of America’s favorite brain candy in every child’s lunchbox. Already some may feel confusion that the title of this month’s puzzle post is the same at that of the originally announced title of Hillary Clinton’s latest volume of remembrances, but the Great Lady has graciously conceded to change hers in the interest of national security and a not insubstantial envelope of untraceable twenties. Since August is a time of recreation, relaxation and marking out mildly profane ideograms about a certain Fat Guy from North Korea on bathroom stalls throughout the Tri-State area, it is also time harken back (if one is so flexible) and consider those wondrous films in which Life comes to a standstill while the siren call of watery pleasures are succumbed to in a variety of circumstances. Who doesn’t enjoy a few cooling laps in the briny? Or a refreshing Bloody Mary? (But that’s an entirely different quiz.) With this in mind, we present the following sixteen images, each taken from a film in which a character or characters indulge in a bit of the old dog paddle. The first reader to correctly identify all sixteen film images will receive the coveted CSR Culture Shock Award, easily framable or useful as an emergency flotation device. Good luck.

















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Duh is the New Sexy: “About Cherry” (2012)


        “About Cherry”  (2012)

In days of old, the pastor, priest or conveniently situated village moral wag would extend the quivering finger of damnation at those to whom the communal boundaries of decency were found to be disrupted through alarming breaches of acceptable conduct. Nowadays, Civilization may take comfort that the tradition of condescending damnation by way of self-appointed moral superiority has been rejuvenated by that most unlikely of suitably qualified candidates: Hollywood (or, more accurately, the independent filmmaking community), whose occasional acknowledgement of its “unclean” idiot cousin from the seamy Valley, of late, appears to generate a surprisingly sympathetic dimestore philosophical view on the subject of the professional sex worker. However credible Tinseltown’s moral posturing is on any subject, the prevailing viewpoint now expressed indicates a redirection from dismissal and condemnation to a more empathetic gaze; an unexplained, antithetical reversal from moral immoderacy to blind altruistic acceptance brought on by an intellectually lackadaisical extension of political correctness.  Equally curious is the concurrent attitudinal shift resulting in the subsequent elevation of the denizens of the porn industry (inexplicably portrayed here as morally superior and enjoying greater emotionally stability) and a devaluation of the remainder of the human population; an abstractive nobility of ideals suddenly finds itself an unlikely bedfellow with the ignobility of exhibitionistic action.

Somewhat hypocritically, this sugar coated aggrandizement of the “adult” industry is merely a cosmetic application of high-minded tolerance that sounds edifying in press releases but does little to explain why such liberality does not extend to real-life participation of genuine porn “talent” (that which might exist) within the lofty gates of Hollywood studio productions (in non-sexual roles or otherwise, [see “Inside Deep Throat”]), nor has there been any movement toward that once predicted bridge between mainstream commercial cinema and explicit sexual content. If anything, the move to a greater immaturity in subject matter, especially toward film explorations of adult themes. which might find even a modest interpolation of sexually graphic content (not necessarily hardcore) thematically contributory, have been virtually erased within the confines of the  mainstream corporate system, contributing to the continuing stunting of the evolutionary advancement of the art form through an insatiable economic appetite catering to the celebration of the infantile.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

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Smeared: “Lipstick” (1976)


COME HITHER: Is this the face that launched a thousand criminal impulses? That and a thousand other questions will find no solution in the loathsome”Lipstick”.

       “LIPSTICK”     (1976)

What is it about certain truly bad movies and their ability to provoke heated (as opposed to passionate) and angry (as opposed to intelligent) argumentation (as opposed to debate) in a way that few exceptional films lend to similar occasions of provocation?  Such an example of a cinematic offering  examining legitimately provocative themes in an illegitimate manner-  befitting the perspective of a sexual predator  -is Lamont Johnson’s infuriatingly prurient 1976 film “Lipstick”; the boundaries of  film’s thematic pop culture psychological entanglement, crossing from the subliminal to the consciously overt, becomes the excuse for a not so thinly veiled lipstickOSexercise in unbridled misogyny masquerading as a social statement. In that regard, it might be a generally useful caveat to beware of films which include empowered female legal representatives, whose sole function is to accommodate the appetites of indignant righteousness, as they are usually included only as an excuse for the filmmakers to then feel the justification to exploit the most rancid, salacious aspects of their subject with a self-endorsement of enlightened impunity. It’s shameless exploitation under the guise of high-minded righteousness.

For a film which eventually reveals to have little on its mind, it asks a great deal from its audience, raising provocative issues which it’s not prepared to accommodate; for instance, the possibility of a connective catalyst existing between the industry of seductive, sexually charged imagery in high fashion glamour and an unintended response in the form of desirous action to that stimulus; touching upon a popular psychological excuse for aberrant, extreme (usually violent) social behavior, though disclaiming any genuine insight nor willingness to consider the any contemplation beyond the most shamelessly convenient which allows for the most profane exploitation of the lead actress, debuting  model Margaux Hemingway (grand-daughter of the literary Papa) and, even more revoltingly, her real-life younger sister Mariel, here playing fictional siblings who are menaced both by the same predatory character.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:


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A View From the Dark: Movie Freak by Owen Gleiberman

A View From the Dark: Movie Freak by Owen Gleiberman

The appetite publishers seem to have for printing the memoirs of even the most irrelevant movie personalities appears insatiable; so much so that in recent years this pseudo-gossipy, trivially anecdotal framework extends even to that most unlikely denizens of the cinema celebrity circus, the movie critic. If most biographies of writers seem perfunctory at best and redundantly irrelevant at their worst (why not read the author’s work and let them speak for themselves?), then a personal exploration into the life and times of the movie critic might find a particularly prominent position on the dais of the useless, for if one wishes to penetrate the individual critic’s mind, would not the best method be to read a collection of their opinions? That is, unless the writings of the critic were deemed unenlightening, or, worse yet, insincere.

Nowhere within the pages of Owen Gleiberman’s memoirs, appropriately titled Movie Freak is there a convincing argument for the necessity of the book. There are the usual accumulated influences which percolate in forming a person’s thoughts and aspirations, including a pronounced lifelong schism with his pathologically dispassionate father and intellectually stifled mother, which are rich in the pain such emotional remoteness can instill in a child of any age.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

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Build the Wall: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, July 2017 Edition, Vol. 1812

Build the Wall: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, July 2017 Edition, Vol. 1812

Walls are structural. Walls are decorative. It seems that, lately, talk of building walls has become in vogue, as the attractiveness of just thinking about constructing barriers useful in keeping out undesirables (Alec Baldwin comes to mind) gets the old patriotic blood kicking with a full foamy head of adrenaline. In this spirit we present this month’s edition of the most feared propaganda weapon against North Korea (go ahead and shoot Fat Boy, it’s only California), the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you this month by the makers of SKITTLESAmerica’s favorite fruity dietary supplement. In this edition we celebrate the wall and its timely and fortunate appearances in film. The following twelve images are taken from movies which importantly feature a wall. Simple enough. As is the selection of stills which have been carefully chosen for their ease of identification. (Happy summer!) The first 1776 to correctly identify all twelve images will receive the coveted CSR Culture Shock Award, flash frozen for healthy consumption for up to twenty five years. Good luck.













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Summer Beach Books: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, June 2017 Edition, Vol. 925

Summer Beach Books:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, June 2017 Edition, Vol. 925

At the dawn of the upcoming summer vacation season, it can never be too early to begin the selection process in making seasonal selections of those printed items which tell stories about people other than ourselves (yes Snowflakes, there really is an entire universe outside of the reach of your selfie sticks!), to be enjoyed while carelessly lolling on the sandy beaches of the resort world’s  to the financial benefit of dermatologists around the globe. We are, of course, talking about books, and more specifically books that find happy recommendation for beach reading. However, rather than the usual franchise potboilers, tawdry romances or celebrity tell alls (which, ironically, usually spend a great deal of time identifying just who the hell they are and why they imagine we should care), we are taking this occasion to exalt the merits of those timeless works of literature which have found popular representation in both comic and cinematic forms. Which, not so coincidentally, brings us to the theme of this month’s edition of America’s most fascinating source of cultural, political, religious and existential confusion, the monthly Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you today by the dedicated people who strive, despite progressive lefty interference, to bring the Free World SKITTLES, America’s favorite non-genetically altered breakfast candy. In this edition we celebrate those film which have found inspiration from some of the greatest and most enduring written works known to all but the current crop of collegiate parasites, with an emphasis on those works which have also been popularly represented by the Classics Illustrated Comics series. Your job is to identify the films from which the following twelve images have been taken. The first to successfully complete this task will receive the highly respected CSR Culture Shock Award, good for three nights free stay at the Gulag of your choice. Good luck.













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Poe in the Cinema: “The Oblong Box” (1969)


         “The Oblong Box”  (1969)

      Gordon Hessler’s “The Oblong Box” is a tepid and dishonest attempt at a continuation of American International’s ongoing Edgar Allan Poe inspired series of films which began with Roger Corman’s 1959 “House of Usher”, though the film’s interpolated voodoo elements have nothing to do with the author’s story (frankly, nor do any of the film’s story elements), where even the most cursory examination of the oblongboxOSproduction discloses the mere use of the 1844 short story’s title as an excuse to lay claim to an associative thread. The marketing department’s claim of the film representing a Poe tale of “the living dead” is a complete fabrication, though certain to be sending impressionable novice Poe enthusiasts back to the original story which is bound to not only confound expectations but unjustly disappoint the reader searching for a material remotely similar to the supposed film representation, quite clouding the achievements of one of Poe’s lesser known but more accessible tales of the macabre. This last description may also incorrectly categorize the story as having characteristic elements of grotesquerie- the central mystery as to the purpose and contents of the “oblong box” may yield such suspicions, though the denouement reveals such presumptions to be in error, as the story’s true core is more in concert with the author’s tragic lamentations of the obsessively felt loss of an all-consuming love equally expressed in the poems The City in the Sea, Annabel Lee and The Raven rather than a story commensurate with the lurid aspects of Grand Guignol. One can only imagine the apoplectic reaction at the exploitation minded AIP to a suggestion they produce a an unmotivated series of Poe movie purely- even with the retention of its central mystery intact  -lodged in the realm of romantic longueur! Also, given the propensity for increased- and often unmotivated- save for gratuitous effect  -graphic violence and nudity in the series, especially in vehicles which have equally feeble association with Poe’s work, despite the possessive marketing claims (“The Conqueror Worm”, “Cry of the Banshee”). it became a certainty that whatever form the project was to take, the inclusion of such gratuity would be part of the unfaithful filmization. These exploitative elements are particularly glaring in “The Oblong Box” as they tend to arise involving peripheral characters who bear little to no importance to the film. Indeed, the newly minted narrative credited to Lawrence Huntington and Christopher Wicking is little more than a derivative excuse for a series of unmotivated murders, all depicted without any sense of mystery and not a whit of suspense. Seldom have so many suffered for so little effect.

To view the complete review, click the following link to: 

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мать, Mayday I?: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz; May 2017 Edition; Vol. 80 proof

мать, Mayday I?:  Classic Film Images Photo       Quiz; May 2017 Edition; Vol. 80 proof

     Greetinks Komrades. Admittedly it was a difficult task to conceive of, compile and complete this month’s edition of Amerika’s favorite non-nuclear capitalist defensive weapon, the monthly Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, as the antennae of paranoid suspicion unleashed, first by an unhinged- but unnamed, as we’d like to think that chivalry has not expired  -former first lady and presidential candidate whose pathological refusal to admit  to her many, many…. many (many) flaws (and her injudicious use of witchcraft) aroused disappointed believers (though still not Bill) to explain the collapse of her false divinity, has created the world’s greatest fictitious mole hunt. Suddenly there have emerged more red herrings and incidents of Red Baiting since the Cold War. Seldom has reason and common sense been so mislaid in a squalid and selfish attempt at face saving while risking a hotbed (miraculously Bill-free) of diplomatic instability in the process. (Perhaps… a Re-re-set button is in order?) Now, what does any of this have to do with this month’s edition of Pravda’s most admired brain buster, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz? (Brought to you, as always, by those fine importers of SKITTLES, America’s most addictive over-the-counter, breakfast candy) Actually, not a helluva lot, but any attempt to sow the seeds (oddly, still not Bill’s) of confusion among the literary set is a day well spent. In any case, in this edition, we celebrate those most offended of world companions (currently anyway), the Russians. The following twelve images depict a film in which a Russian character is prominent. Your job is to ferret out the interloper of Democratic e-mail security and to report your findings to the Central Committee and CSR. The first to do so will receive the coveted CSR Culture Shock Award, good for a free weekend stay at the gulag of your choice. Good luck.













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Are Those Odor Eaters Or Are You Just Glad To See Me?; Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, April 2017 Edition, Vol. 46%

Are Those Odor Eaters Or Are You Just Glad To See Me?; Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, April 2017 Edition, Vol. 46%

    Being that films are occasionally regarded as “motion” pictures, it seems reasonable that in bringing a beloved monthly institution to realization, one might avail one’s self to use materials which portray those occasions when the static camera comes alive and follows the pseudo-sapien subject (actor, in layman’s parlance) in the act of physical exertion. (and we aren’t even referencing the redoubtable, highly persecuted [ Just Ask Her!] and honorifically overindulged [Just Ask CSR!] La Diva Streep, who might be tormented by circumstances which would demand of her to actually lift the champagne flute to her own pampered maw.) In this instance we are talking about the activity of running… or the foot chase… or the hot-footed pursuit… or the… well, you get the idea. And with this noble purpose in mind, we proudly introduce this month’s edition of America’s most challenging waste of time, the monthly Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you be the folks who make and distribute SKITTLES, America’s most beloved breakfast appetizer. In this edition, we focus on running in films, either in an individually memorable sequence or as a contributory basis of a major thematic element. The following twelve pictures each feature a scene from a film in which the act of putting one foot in front of the other at an accelerated pace is either in effect, implied or has or will be acted upon. (You think it’s easy coming up with this twisted nonsense?) The first to identify all twelve films from which the images were surgically (and painfully, truth be told) removed will received that most valued yet disposable (irony, ain’t it a hoot?) of prizes, the CSR Culture Shock Award. Good luck.














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If I Fell: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz; March 2017 Edition, Vol. 543210

fell0If I Fell: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz; March 2017 Edition, Vol. 543210

    If life teaches us anything, it is that gravity is not our friend (neither are silly award show envelope fumbling accountants [Fake News Encounters of the Streepian Kind] nor certain Massachusetts senators of the female persuasion for whom the idea of a daily dose of a knapsack full of Prozac might be a practical idea), as it is an uncooperative force of nature, especially when you find your bowl of soup slopping all over that nice clean pair of spats. Still, the very existence of Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation (Written subsequent to his Law of Unentitled Gratification, which states: “never take ‘personal’ reverse mortgage advice from a celebrity shill whose own annual income exceeds eight figures”) which persists in allowing deplorable oak trees to bounce acorns off of your beanie, is enough to make one presume partisan Divine intervention (Though, surely, there must be some Minority Leader Munchausen Chorus who insist upon a conspiratorial link within the fictitious but still highly Rosie-flammable Russian/Trump/Wolf connection), unless one is ready to concede the existence of a vast cadre of malicious squirrels who make sport of bombardier targeting the human cranium. With this in mind, we present this month’s edition of America’s favorite deregulated pastime, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz,fellgif brought to you by those fascinating folk who sell and distribute nickel bags of SKITTLES, America’s most addictive breakfast candy. In this edition we celebrate (or, at least, find an excuse for another puzzle comprised of stills with a suspiciously shallow connection) the physical act of uncontrollably moving rapidly in southern direction in the movies. The following twelve images each feature a cinema scene in which the featured player is in the act of, precipitating the act of, or reacting to the act of falling, with subsequent results ranging from a boo boo to a crushing cessation of the vitals. (Curtains, pal.) Your job, is to create imaginary chalk outlines around the characters and  swiftly, cleanly and painlessly identify from which twelve films these images have been lifted. The first to correctly identify all twelve will receive the gluten free CSR Culture Shock Award, more prized than any Chinese endangered species-based aphrodisiac, and without the vulgar aftertaste. Good luck.














Posted in books, comedy, Film, History, Hitchcock, horror, humor, movie reviews, Movies, politics, religion, Reviews, women, writing | 2 Comments

Dangerous Dames: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Feb. 2017, Vol. 36-24-36

dames33Dangerous Dames: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Feb. 2017 Edition, Vol. 36-24-36

     “Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble”: resounds the infamous witch’s incantation exemplified by the vomitable vaudeville warblings currently on display by the intellectually challenged trio of Beltway harridans who have become the new Age of Non-Reason’s congressional equivalent of the Andrews Sisters by way of the Antichristess: Waters-Pelosi-and Warren. This bleating triumvirate of Hillarytown’s morally abortive scrapings cannot help but conjure a reexamination of every guy’s periodically contemplated inquiry: no, not Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like A Man?, but, What’s the Deal?: or, is there any more misunderstood, contradictory, frustrating example of the female of the species than women? (Huh?) The current hysterical clarion call for lunatic militant sisterhood (Ashley Judd and Madonna in 2020!) flies in the face of more realistic (and traditional) catty internecine infighting among the “gentler” sex which more often than not rejects an individual’s ideal of happiness and accomplishment for a forcibly unified gender coalition eschewing nice for (according to Her Squawness Liz Warren)damesgif1 “nasty” as the new accepted version of the “Yes we can”/Rosie the Riveter pioneering spirit, though in a new philosophical incarnation whose sole purpose seems, not the advancement of the fairer gender, but the rusty bladed emasculation of both “uncooperative” women and the contemporary class of pasty androgyny (the Schumer factor) which occasionally identifies itself (on those rare occasions when they display any spinal fortitude) as Men. With this in mind, we present this month’s episode of America’s most divisive yet endearing game of wits, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you by those good folks who regularly prescribe SKITTLES, America’s favorite nutritional supplement. In this edition we celebrate cinema personifications of those soft and sensitive kittens who just happen to be uncomfortably familiar with impulses and instincts less than pure, and more comfortable with the criminally unhinged. The first to correctly identify all thirteen will be the proud recipient of the ticklish CSR Culture Shock Award, satisfying difficult to please women since just prior to Hawaiian statehood. Good luck.














Posted in books, crime, Film, film noir, horror, humor, movie reviews, Movies, politics, Reviews, women, writing | 1 Comment

Time is a Cruel Mistress: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Jan. 2017 Edition, Vol. 1812

time3Time is a Cruel Mistress: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Jan. 2017 Edition, Vol. 1812

    One of the odd paradoxes occurring with each New Year’s holiday is the assertion that it is a year later, when in fact it is merely the passing of a single day. It all depends on your point of view. The confusion may arise due to excessive alcohol consumption or perhaps, as a consequence of an insatiable need that some social misfits seem to have to fashion their appearance with unwieldy neon eye wear in the shape of the emerging calendar year while standing in a frozen celebratory square best characterized by the combined aromatics of body odor and urine. However, the question is that of time, its proper measuring and the use with which the sentient individual makes of it. Time can be wasted. Time can be marked. Time is also money; calculable on an instrument as basic as a Timex (“takes a licking and keeps on ticking”, bragged John Cameron Swayze, though the same claim quite possibly have been similarly made about legendary adult film star Vanessa Deltimegif Rio) or as needlessly excessive as a Rolex (the question arises: does one need a timepiece which will endure nine atmospheres if one’s Spring jaunt to the planet Jupiter has been postponed?). And with this bit of introductory hokum, we, once again, present yet another in the never-ending series of mind bender commonly referred to as the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you this month by those lugubrious folks who advertise and market SKITTLES, America’s most nutritious breakfast candy. In this edition, we address the filmic concept of time; its nature, its length and its relativity, especially how it stands still during visits from unwelcome in-laws. Each of the following twelve images is a scene from a film in which time is a major factor. Your job is to identify the twelve films and report your findings to the proper authorities: reporting back here might be a good suggestion, but if you also wish to bug the switchboards at the executive offices of the ACLU and the DNC, go to town. The first to correctly identify all twelve will receive the impeccably coiffed CSR Culture Shock Award, the world’s only irony-free cultural bestowal. Good luck.













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The Gift That Keeps On Giving: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Dec. 2016 Edition, Vol. 241

xdec1The Gift That Keeps on Giving:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Dec. 2016 Edition, Vol. 241

    It is said that it is better to give than to receive, though this overlooks the fact that in the act of charity you are selfishly placing the recipient of your “goodness” in a compromising position of forced gratitude and, perhaps, financially draining reciprocation. Shame on you! However, with the impending season of brotherhood, charity, good tidings and good will toward Men (including all public bathroom permutations of this most politically offensive of gender identifications) upon us, we must keep in mind that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, by extension of such a fundamental law of nature, feelings of goodness and charity will inevitably lead to ill-tempered behavior and hostilities, or, in other words, the Salvation Army was responsible for Pearl Harbor.   Which brings us to this month’s edition of xdecgifAmerica’s favorite gender neutral waste of time: the monthly Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you this and always by those fine folks who distribute and sell SKITTLES, the favorite breakfast candy of the Free World since the passage of the 19th Amendment. In this edition we spotlight the marvelous process of gift giving and receiving in all of it’s forms In each of the following twelve images, there is a movie scene depicting the  act of giving, receiving, or the giver, recipient or actual subject of a gift (how’s that for complications?). Your mission, as always, is to identify the twelve films from which the images have been taken. The first to do so, successfully, will receive the highly prized and equally feared CSR Culture Shock Award, an honorarium banned from forty nine different New England college campuses, as it’s very presence is enough to send the precious young featherbrains into therapy. Good luck, and to all a good night.













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“Get Off Our Land, White Man” (The Rest of You Too): Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, November 2016 Edition, Vol. 1620

how10“Get Off Our Land, White Man” (The Rest of You Too): Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, November 2016 Edition, Vol. 1620

   This year, the season of Thanksgiving finds greater than normal reasons to give thanks, not the least of which is that the American public can finally breathe a sigh of relief for the end of the seemingly eternal intrusion of a handful of disgracefully unqualified egos foisting their rank ambitions upon us in the longest and most abrasive job interview in history. (Surely, if there were any excuse for contributing to the number of permanently unemployed it would be the inclusion of this handful of moral and intellectual retrobates.) Certainly, if the Native American participants of the first Thanksgiving had known what howgifwas in store for future generations, they might have acted with greater foresight than a sharing of nuts and berries, and instead could have started a dandy collection of decorous but oily scalps from future Democrats and Republicans. So, in deference to the short-sighted visionaries known more intimately by the staff of CSR as cousins Lithe Fawn and Howling Bear With Impacted Molar, we present this month’s edition of the Colonies’ favorite monthly holistic prescription for acute nausea, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you this month by those medicine men who bring us SKITTLES, America’s favorite Breakfast energy booster. In this edition, we celebrate Hollywood’s portrayal of the Native American throughout the years, and occasionally (purely by casting oversight, you understand) played by actual Native Americans. The following twelve images all depict a movie scene featuring an American Injun in all of their wincing, snarling or contemplative glory. Your task, is to circle the wagons, hide the women folk and correctly identify the films from which all twelve images were derived. The first to hit all twelve on the proverbial noggin will receive the coveted CSR Culture Shock Award, redeemable for a fistful of wampum or an island suitable for a New York borough. Good luck.

01) how6













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The Girl With Something Extra: “Lucy” (2014)

0000000000lucy1   “Lucy”  (2014)

     Sometimes you get the opinion that certain directors watch far too many films and that they just cannot restrain themselves from emulating what it is that has already excited them on the screen. If one is in the mood for a smattering of John Woo’s “Hard-Boiled” mixed with lesser parts “Altered00000000000000000lucyOS States”, “Koyaanisqatsi”, “Scanners”,  “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “D.O.A”,  then “Lucy” might be your particular blend of intellectual hemlock. French director Luc Besson continues his fascination with the empowered woman who is simultaneously emboldened with both superhuman abilities and high powered weaponry; a partnership that might seem either unnecessary or contradictory, but certainly makes for a stylish, if predictable, brand of mayhem.

    In Besson’s universe, violence isn’t an eruption, but a kinetic ballet; though in lacking a resonant aesthetic shaking core comparable (even in ambition, if not execution) to Peckinpah’s seminal ballets of bullets and blood in “The Wild Bunch”, it fails to elicit little more than comparisons (especially in this case considering the ethnicity of the lead criminals) to the run of the mill Hong Kong shoot-em-up, violence in a Besson film is not used as a means to an end, but simply as a substitution for more intellectual pursuits; which is odd considering the consistent window dressing of  tacked-on grandiosity mated with criminally undeveloped philosophical ambitions.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

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Bugged: “The Andromeda Strain” (1971)



     The evolutionary characteristics that would come to define the post-atomic bomb SF genre emerged, not coincidentally, with striking similarities to Hollywood’s failing classic horror film, which after the real-life atrocities visited upon the0000andromedaOS civilized world throughout World War II, seemed almost childish and certainly preternaturally dated; the menace of cloaked or stumbling representatives of the undead or resurrected dead being hardly comparable to wholesale destruction of cities and peoples, or the unspeakable atrocities commonplace in Nazi death camps, and during the period of postwar psychic healing it was evident that a newly honed sophistication was in order to usurp the cinematic diet of Gothic based terrors in favor of a new modernity in the nourishment of nightmare scenarios.

     The baby steps taken by the post-War SF film engaged the genre in the briefest gestative flirtation with more realistically grounded procedural verisimilitude-  leaning on aspects of mystery (“Spaceways”), adventure (“Rocketship X-M”) and docudrama (Destination: Moon”)  -in which existent genre tropes are used to give narrative integrity to what are essentially how-to primers in escaping the gravitational pull of the Big Blue Planet. Grandiose scientific concepts, many condescendingly thought to be too complex for the audience to grasp, were cloaked in the comforting embrace of overly familiar (and therefore less challenging) cinematic surroundings that burdened a genre- which by its very nature should energize the speculative imagination  -with a storytelling attitude bordering on the mundane. However, even this kitchen sink approach to the emerging vista of space exploration was short-lived. Disappointingly, rather than pursuing a continuance of speculative considerations of Man’s place in the universe, the SF film quickly plunged into a degenerative intellectual descent. Thus a brief flirtation invested with a loftier philosophical bent was waylaid in favor endless conflicts with xenomorphic 0000ANDROMEDA5species-  either extraterrestrial or the product of an incautious evolution of atomic energy  -that favored the seemingly invulnerable destructive menace inherent in a robotic Gort rather than the more pedantic course of Klaatu in Robert Wise’s seminal SF wake-up call “The Day the Earth Stood Still”; a dramatically shortsighted trend which downplays the importance of the human element, most prominently in the important development of full-bodied characters (ironically, Michael Rennie’s Klaatu is one of the most memorable and interesting characters in the genre, yet it is the stolid countenance of the robotic sentinel which has eclipsed the face of human reason in the cultural pantheon).

To read the complete review, click the following link to:



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Who Was That Masked Man and/or Lady?: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Oct. 2016 Edition, Vol. 00/00

oct16gifWho Was That Masked Man (and/or) Lady?: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, October 2016 Edition, Vol. 00/00

    With the arrival of the traditional time of year for the emergence of chain rattling ghosts of the past, evil goblins, hideous unnatural demons and hordes of masquerading moochers running from door to door with their little entitled hands out (yes, kiddies, it’s election time), we proudly present the latest edition of America’s favorite favorite brain scrambler (excluding, of course, those scandalously cheating crosswords printed daily in Pravda oct16gifbWest [along with the rest of “All the News That’s Fit to Prevaricate”]) the monthly Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you this and every month by those good folks engaged in the interstate smuggling (thanks to Obama Executive Order 4331-C, which prohibits the selling or distribution of any product which brings fun or enjoyment to a “lazy” American population whose time is better off sitting and reflecting over historic wrongs the White House deems appropriately unpardonable) of SKITTLES, America’s favorite non-prescription placebo substitute. In this edition, we celebrate that which disguises the features and deters detection of a person’s true identity. No, not the Clinton Dirty Tricks Machine, but the simple but effective mask. The following twelve movie images each features a character donning the charming facial appliance. Your task: to identify the films from which all dozen images originate and demonstrate the fortitude to inform us of your deductions. The first reader to correctly identify all twelve films will become the proud and envied recipient of the legendary CSR Culture Shock Award. Good luck.













Posted in books, erotica, Film, Film Reviews, History, humor, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, Romance, women | 1 Comment

Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?: Classic film Photo Quiz, Sept. 2016 Edition; Vol. 362436

septphoto3Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?: Classic Film Photo Quiz, Sept. 2016 Edition, Vol. 362436

    If the events of the recent political season have taught us anything, it’s that women have achieved a true equality with men in the valued fields of duplicity, egomania, corruption and unappetizing psychological disorder, though indicators are legion that (at least if the leading news/unscrupulously biased broadcast opinion platforms are of any reliability) women may have it all over the beer bellied set when it comes to sociopathic prevarication: sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but it takes a villagesunblvd3 to willfully conceal a liar. With that happy bit of folk wisdom we present this month’s tribute to the Gods of Forked Tongues and Smoked Meat (Writing this stuff is hunger inducing.), in other words, the latest edition of America’s favorite nonprescription aphrodisiac, the Classic Film Photo Quiz, dedicated this month to those rascals at the Teamsters who deliver this great nation  with its daily fix of SKITTLES, the only traditional breakfast candy that tastes like freedom. In this edition, we celebrate (and, in a playfully misogynistic manner, certainly question the competency of) the role of women as leaders in business, politics and just plain general bossiness, as depicted in the movies. Taking our inspiration from a certain unmentioned former First Lady, who took it upon herself to wear the pants in the family out of sheer necessity since her spouse more often than not was found with his dropped around his ankles, the following twelve movie images reflect the controlling instinct of the fairer sex to assume the role of “boss”, or at least the dominant figure in the relationship. Your task, as usual, is to identify the source of each of the twelve images and to report your findings to this very site, where through a painstaking process of analytics we will determine whether you’ve answered correctly or not. The first to crack the puzzle will receive the coveted (and only slightly radioactive, a still unexplained result of the administration’s Iranian Nuclear Deal) CSR Culture Shock Award, usable in eighteen different nations to credit the bearer with the equivalent of sixteen American dollars to play 4 Black at any local floating casino roulette table. Good luck.













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No More Undocumented Aliens!: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, August 2016 Edition, Vol. 30, 000, 000

aa99No More Undocumented Aliens!: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, August 2016 Edition, Vol. 30,000,000

    If we have learned anything from this election season, it is that it has never been more imperative that the sanctity of national borders must be subject to serious and intensive scrutiny regarding the problem of stemming and reversing the uncontrolled flow of unwanted aliens into our streets, towns and neighborhoods. It’s time to keep the unwanted, unwelcome and unexpected gatecrashers out of our living rooms and back to their own places of origin, since- as evidenced by all of the available data  -they are a continuous burden on our secure social order and a drain upon our law enforcement resources. The immediacy of this plea toward protecting our very way of life brings usaa9 directly to the subject of this month’s Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you by the patriotic consumers of SKITTLES, America’s favorite terrestrial breakfast candy. In this edition, we focus on Hollywood’s frustratingly unheeded warnings against these trespassing invaders who make a mockery of our way of life and generally create havoc that generally calls for a great deal of strenuous mopping up and repair work. Each of the following thirteen images features an occasionally cleverly disguised xenomorph who rudely decided to visit without the courtesy of even a phone call. Your task is to identify the film from which each image has been sourced and report your findings to both this site and ICE. The first to correctly identify all thirteen images will receive the coveted CSR Culture Shock Award, possession of which is generally considered the only reliable documentation that one is from the right side of the Van Allen Belts. Good luck.















Posted in books, fantasy, Film, Hammer films, horror films, humor, movie reviews, Movies, politics, Reviews, Romance, science fiction, women, writing | Tagged | 2 Comments

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow: A Death of the Day of CFU


 Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow: A Death of the Day of CFU

    It was a long time coming. The January 11 cessation of the very existence of the CFU (Classic Film Union) branch of the TCM website, came as not only a blow to the evolution of genuine communal discourse about cinema, but also the opportunity for a merging of populist and artistic critical sensibilities which might have proven a useful procreative auger for both burgeoning and seasoned writers alike to parry with equal, spirited vitality. That this opportunity was squandered is a useful example of the seductive but destructive WLW-TCMClassicFilmUnion_FAB4-banner_JOINCALL_thumbnature of the Internet, and of a vast corporation’s complete lack of foresight and intuition in how to manage their own creation. (If there emerged any element of a disruptive power games among certain elements of the membership, such  behaviors could have been effectively nullified by the simple elimination of the “private messaging” function on the site; the essential tool for corrosive communications while maintaining one’s own anonymity; an elementary solution which would have been obvious to a site sponsor who was even remotely aware of their own property.)

      The cancellation of the CFU came at the very time when the TCM enterprise itself seemed immersed in a systemic flux, redefining what they are and what they offer to the wider public, with little apparent concern as to how these changes might affect the rabid core base of followers, many of whom comprised the membership of the CFU. Realistically, since the network and all of its ancillary manifestations are (One might wish to refer to an earlier editorial relaying these caveats in very precise terms, at are entirely the proprietary baby toe of the greater Turner Broadcasting System, itself a subsidiary of the hollow colossus Time Warner. However, the recent changes invoked, both  as the last vestiges of a pretense that TCM badgesTCM is anything but a shill corporate entity, using a popular passion for movies as an increasingly transparent excuse for the marketing of suspiciously slight  cruise trips and-  the most blatantly offensive and irrelevant of all movie tie-ins  -the TCM Wine Club, a cynical enterprise whose only possible excuse for its formation is in a long overdue admission that much of the dross presented is elevated through the haze of drink. (Though no psychogenic enhancement could possibly elevate the insufferably smug, self-congratulatory brayings of that shameless but exemplary model of critical retardation, Ben Mankiewicz.)

Yo read the complete editorial, click the following link to:


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It’s My Party: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, July 2016 Edition, Vol. 54

july0aIt’s My Party: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, July 2016 Edition, Vol. 54

      In these days of American celebration, let us not forget those attributes of the human spirit which have helped cement our nation as the place of dreams, the cradle of free and independent action, and, of course, the birthplace of the celebration of almost anything at the drop of a hat or the merest suggestion of a group gathering in which no one has cab fare. This spirit is, of course, of the eighty proof variety, which if imbibed in sufficient quantity, is potent enough to render common sense null and void. (For an illustrative july0gifreference point, see the James Comey announcement of the Clinton Investigative findings.) With this time honored tradition of voluntary surrender to celebratory grossly negligent behavior (correction: extremely careless) in mind, we welcome you to yet another episode of America’s favorite monthly mental aphrodisiac, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you by those wonderful folks who manufacture and distribute SKITTLESAmerica’s anti-Communist breakfast treat. In this edition, we celebrate the celebration: movie gatherings of friends and colleagues in the form of dinner parties, galas and anarchic orgiastic excesses (just kidding about the latter, though we probably have your attention). The following twelve images, each feature a scene of a celebratory gathering. Your job is to determine from which film each image has been taken. The first to solve the mystery will receive the coveted CSR Culture Shock Award, which automatically confers immunity from unbiased investigation from the FBI, no matter how blatant and unapologetic the offense. Good luck.
















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June Brides: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, June 2018 Edition, Vol. 121

june2016bJune Brides:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, June 2016 Edition, Vol. 121

     During the month of June, we engage in the annual observance of a wide variety of events: academic graduations leading to a closer inevitability with unemployment, disillusionment with the realities of life and despair, the anniversary of D-Day, the day when the Boston Celtics are generally mathematically eliminated from the championship  for the next season, the full flowering of the summer movie season in which the nugget of sardonic wisdom  “there’s a sucker born every minute” is proven with horrifying regularity, another monthly period in which june2016cthe Clinton Family-  not unlike the Corleones  -is likely to engage in their continuous calendar of felonious behavior (lock up your daughters and your savings accounts!), and, perhaps most cheerily, the emergence of the beautiful June bride. Which brings us this month’s edition of America’s favorite post-mortem time killer, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you this month by the makers of SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy and, 3 to 1, the chosen substitution for wedding rice. In this edition we celebrate the glowing image of the blushing bride as depicted in the cinema. The following twelve images are taken from films in which a lovely lady in white is prominently featured. Your task, as always, is to identify the films from which the dozen images originate. The first to do so will receive, as always, the CSR Culture Shock Award, NATO’s first line of defense, and a pretty nifty bauble to adorn the fireplace mantel. Good luck.






06)Film Title: Mamma Mia!







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Life in Bloom: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, May 2016 Edition, Vol. 111

may10Life in Bloom:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, May 2016 Edition, Vol. 111

    Despite the grand apocalyptic allusions to global warming, orbital rotational shifts or the mysterious shortage of stylishly lapelled union suits, there can be no question that Spring is in the air; along with a range of unsavory toxic particulates wafting over from our global neighbors in Beijing, whose daily motto of: “If you can see it, then you know what you’re maygif11breathing”, has, for popular recognition and marketing favorability rankings, just recently eclipsed that most recognized advertising slogan for Bottled Ganges Spring Water: “Refreshment with only the slightest suggestion of urine”. This, of course, leads us directly to this month’s highly anticipated edition of America’s favorite decaffeinated stimulant, the Monthly Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you-  as always  -by those magical pixies who manufacture SKITTLES, America’s breakfast candy, and the #1  I.O.C. recommended Zika virus preventative nutritional supplement. In this edition, being that we are a sustainably green site (well, at least when we indulge in a wee sip of crème de menthe), we turn to films which feature our friends in the floral realm; those delicate, colorful sprouts which sustain and engage the happy bumble bee who diligently labor to produce enough honey so that we might soak our morning flapjacks (still a felony in certain counties of Alabama). The following twelve images are painfully removed from films in which a bit of Mother Nature’s pollen pushers are present. Your task, as always, is to identify the twelve films; the first to do so will receive the hypoallergenic CSR CULTURE SHOCK AWARD, useful in the warding off of evil spirits and easily doubling as a substitute croquet mallet. Good luck.













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Writers as Artists: Classic Film Photo Quiz, April 2016 Edition, Vol. X

 sunsetblvdgloriaswansongif1Writers as Artists:  Classic Film Photo Quiz, April 2016 Edition, Vol. X

     Without writers the world would be full of blank pages and a seriously diminished need for bookmarks. Even the world of cinema, with its highly overdeveloped need to consider the director as the author of a film, would be hard pressed were it not fot the presence of the screenwriter to take the brickbats for all of the meddlesome executive interference, directorial egomania and vapid, semi-literate actors who portray themselves as masters of spontaneous jocularity worthy of the Algonquin Round Table, all of whom make Veg-O-Matic slaw out of the poor writer’s original creative intentions. To rage against this brand of industry ignominy, we present the newest edition of America’s favorite reason to wish the Internet was never invented, the Monthly Classic 000000000000aprgif1Film Photo Quiz, brought to you this month by those fabulous folks who peddle SKITTLES, the world’s most addictive non-narcotic breakfast candy. In this edition, we celebrate the writer (You might have guessed this, unless you’re suffering from a SKITTLEinduced sugar buzz.) as celebrated in film. (Yes Virginia, they make movies about them, they just don’t acknowledge the writers write them.)  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to not only identify the twenty-four  films from which the images are taken, but to also identify the author being portrayed. The first three readers who correctly solve the quiz will receive the CSR Culture Shock Award, a prize so coveted, Obama e-mailed us to see if he could trade in that hokey Nobel Peace Prize for one. (No dice, bub. Do the work.) Good luck. 

01)  Henry and June/Anaïs Nin000000000000apr8

02)  Star!/Noel Coward000000000000apr12

03)  Il Postino (The Postman) (1994)/Pablo Neruda000000000000apr1904)  Bride of Frankenstein/Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley. Lord Byron000000000000apr5

05)  Buffalo Bill and the Indians/Ned Buntline000000000000apr3

06)  The Hours/Virginia Woolf000000000000apr4

07)  The Life of Emile Zola/Emile Zola000000000000apr16

08)  Time After Time/H.G. Wells000000000000apr6

09)  Mishima/Yukio Mishima000000000000apr10

10)  The Last Station/Valentin Bulgakov, Leo Tolstoy000000000000apr7

11)  Reds/Eugene O’Neill000000000000apr9

12)  Miss Potter/Beatrix Potter000000000000apr20

13)  The Whole Wide World/Robert E. Howard000000000000apr33


15)  Julia/Dashiell Hammett000000000000apr1

16)  Beloved Infidel/F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sheilah Graham0000000000000apr3

17)  The Man Who Would Be King/Rudyard Kipling0000000000000apr6

18)  {riest of Love/D.H. Lawrence0000000000000apr4

19)  The Old Gringo/Ambrose Bierce0000000000000apt23

20)  Out of Africa/Isak Dineson0000000000000apr7

21) 0000000000000apr32

22)  Tom & Viv/T.S. Eliot. Vivienn Haigh-Wood Eliot0000000000000apr10

23)  Shadowlands/C.S. Lewis0000000000000apr8

24)  Cross Creek/Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings0000000000000apr22

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Fate is the Hunter: “High Plains Drifter” (1973)

000000high2       “High Plains Drifter”   (1973)

   The following article contains discussions of details which the weak of heart might regard as “spoilers”. So, readers are advised approach with a sensible level of caution.

     There’s something wrong in the town of Lago. When a drifter rides into town, there are none of the usual indicators of a healthy, thriving community, but rather those of a breeding ground of antisocial animus, marked by a suffocating suspicion and paranoia. The rider quietly passes by a tableau of confused and fearful faces;000000highOS figures either frozen with paralytic dread, or hiding behind the safety of windows which are pathetically transparent in disguising the uniformly palpable anxiety emitted by the citizens of Lago, like a collective pheromone of desperation.It is clear there is something hanging over the minds of the townspeople; a secret whose unraveling, and the closure of which, will provide the moral fulcrum of the drama to follow.

     Thus begins Clint Eastwood’s third directorial effort, “High Plains Drifter”; a confused bit of frontier misanthropy, presenting the citizens of the West as unrelievedly corrupt, cowardly, immoral and mean-spirited; a portrait so unrelentingly unforgiving, it is absent of even the equally pessimistic. but far more intelligently conceptualized. amoral center dominating the revisionist perspective of the American West in Sam Peckinpah’s seminal “The Wild Bunch”, as in comparison, Eastwood’s film suffers from a core vacuum: a missing example of any code of honor (among the townsfolk, despite a bonding born of felonious convenience, they seldom miss an opportunity to enjoy each other’s discomfort), even among the most lowly bred. This absence of a codifying bond eventually become problematic in a film claiming a thematic preoccupation with retributive closure as it continuously waffles in an inevitable collision between the-  what are presented as justifiable  -actions of its protagonist, versus the film’s loftier metaphysical suggestions fueling its thematic intentions.


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Chandler’s Trailers: “How to Make a Monster” (1958)

0000000000howto1“How to Make a Monster”   (1958) This  not very mysterious murder mystery is a sort-of sequel to both “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” and the subsequent “I Was a Teenage Frankenstein” in that it features the monsters of the two referenced pictures (and “Teenage Frankenstein” star Gary Conway), though the relevance to the specific creatures is rather dishonestly stretched to capitalize on the popularity of the earlier movies, as the focus of the story is actually centered on obnoxiously long-winded studio make-up artist Pete Dumond (played with caustic self-aggrandizement bu Robert H. Harris) whose reaction to his firing is to suddenly develop an hypnotic cosmetic foundation which renders actors into willing instruments of death.  

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Holy Unexpected: “Heaven Help Us” (1985)

00000000heaven2               “Heaven Help Us”   (1985)

     When considering the curious slide in quality in the most popular film genres of the past, if there is a source of more continuously disappointing results than the American comedy, it is certainly that more odoriferous of sub-genres: the teen comedy. So imagine 00000000HEAVENosthe odds of such an adolescently inspired opus managing an unexpected but precarious tightrope walk between the expected elements of lascivious gross out pranksterism (displaying a genuinely funny brand of comedy) and an unexpectedly touching subplot which manages to capture the hesitant vulnerabilities and insecurities of first love.

     That “Heaven Help Us” also exists within the generally unsatisfying group of films which immerse themselves in the ripe but easy parodic target that is the piety of organized religion (herein identified, as is the case with most films of this sort which rely upon what is considered an easily mockable, as Catholicism), a subject often met with a crassly insultingly disrespectful and stereotypical exaggeration (despite the fertile indigenous possibilities which might nurture genuinely biting satire), “Heaven Help Us” expands upon its own modest achievement through an intelligent (and mature) compilation of the type of details which reveal substantive character depth in an unobtrusively unforced cumulative00000000heaven3 manner. In fact, despite the sometimes outlandish antics of the youths involved, even the most provocative actions feel completely organic to the characters within the limited context in which the film takes place. Thus rather than the humor feeling forced for the sake of randomly convenient insertions of typical adolescently randy humor, it emerges as natural reactive consequences of the the particulars of situation and the specifics of character. The film also manages to poke at the abuses of institutional religion without engaging in a callous devaluation of the spiritual value of faith, and it’s this resistance to an easy acquiescence toward pubescent coarseness that makes “Heaven Help Us” stand a cut above the average film of its kind.

      Taking place in the autumnal days of American youth’s innocence in 1965, the film follows the experiences of transplanted Bostonian Michael Dunn (Andrew McCarthy) at Brooklyn’s St. Basil’s Academy for Boys, and his association with a quartet of fellow students who although initially seemingly light years apart in behavioral temperament seem to find a bonding common core with a like-minded resistance to the institutionalized0000000000heaven9 authority under which the students find a constant test of their natural desire for expression of autonomous individuality. However, while rebelliousness is an expected aspect of the teen comedy, it is generally presented as a witless anarchism in the service of sexual prurience; characteristics of which are in trace attendance, but are intelligent modified with a far rarer inclusion of a more compelling formative aspect in regard to actively budding maturity: genuine growing  pain-  a legitimate and identifiable anxiety beneath the surface of the students’ anarchic spirit. It is this palpable undercurrent of teen angst which lifts the film above its more scatological infantile genre brethren, as the film is wise enough, without overt declarations, to identify the primary source of adolescent anxiety, not from the more casually asserted and excepted excuse of peer pressure, but from the influence of the inherent anxieties expressed by the adults surrounding them and to whom the youths are forcibly attentive enforced to influences irrelevant to whether or not that influence advances a nurturing stability. The film illustrates that this often critically damaging developmental smothering can be the result 0000000000heavenof both emotionally fractured familial settings and (in the case of St. Basil’s) institutional persecution, and it is to the credit of the surprisingly nuanced screenplay by Charles Purpura that the adult antagonists are treated with an equal sympathy and (with the exception of an extremely funny cautionary speech against Lust by Father Abruzzi (Wallace Shawn) preceding a school dance) never reduced to cartoon stereotypes.  It is the reaction to the perception of the stifling of organically spontaneous expressiveness through relentless appeasement to the demands of the adult world which provides the film with its comic tension and its dramatic potency; most delicately balanced with grand gestures of humor, and without the embarrassing histrionics of more acclaimed portrayals of teen angst, such as the mawkish “Rebel Without a Cause”.

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