Egypt, Unwrapped: “The Mummy” (1932)

 mummy82    “The Mummy”    (1932)

    The first of the major Universal sound horror films which relied upon the invention of screenwriters rather than a direct literary predecessor, Karl Freund’s “The Mummy” enjoys the luxury in the depiction of the title creature’s origin backstory and continued tale of menace without the critical distraction of source comparisons. That being said, itmummyOS is remarkable as to how many elements of the film seem vaguely familiar, as if directly lifted, by way of clever transposition, from previous successes, most prominently Tod Browning’s “Dracula”. That Freund, the earlier film’s cinematographer, is promoted to the director’s chair and actors David MannersEdward Van Sloane are prominently featured in both films,  certainly contributes to a certain air of déjà vu; but it is the presence of John Balderston which accounts for the prematurely formulaic sense of reincarnated genre tropes to which the film is attributable (he managed to make a  stuffy drawing room drama out of Stoker’s seminal novel, from which every incarnation  since has immeasurably suffered). 

    In 1921, a group of archeologists, including Sir Joseph Whemple (Arthur Byron) and an expert in occultism Dr. Muller (Edward Van Sloan) under the sponsorship of the British Museum, make some remarkable finds in an Egyptian dig (despite early exchanges in which characters  complain, with contradictory fervor, that their labors have yielded little of value!); a perfectly preserved mummy of the high priest Imhotep (Boris Karloff), and a mysterious chest whose contents are protected by a dire caution ofmummy6 death. As though he were unfamiliar with lesson to be learned from the tale of Pandora’s Box, Sir Joseph’s assistant, the foolhardy Ralph Norton (Bramwell Fletcher), reveals the contents of the casket (Just how would horror films thrive without the cooperation of rational people who recklessly run headfirst to their doom?), the Scroll of Thoth, imprinted with forbidden holy words of resurrection, the substance of which the film foolishly opens, making the text sound like a Pep Squad chant for ancient deities. The revived mummy, shocks the startled Norton into a paroxysm of insane laughter. from which he never recovers; though just how the shuffling Imhotep manages to elude both Sir Joseph and Dr. Muller, who are standing just outside the entrance to the chamber, is a mystery.

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

Posted in Boris Karloff, horror, horror films, Movies, Pre-Code Movies, religion, Romance, women, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Dear Cinema Santa: 2018 Edition



You too would be exclaiming Gloria in excelsis deo if you found this sleepy little elf left under your Christmas tree.

       Dear Cinema Santa:  2018 Edition

    Once again dear friends (and you folks in Vermont) it is that time to weigh in on the past year’s accumulation of greedy impulses and dissatisfaction with the world of movies with our Dear Cinema Santa Wish List, an annual tradition here at CSR in which we ask for very little and expect to receive even less. 

Animated Gif Christmas (384)We are quite fed up with the Criterion Collection’s more recent lapses in judgment by ignoring truly interesting films and instead featuring the promotion of undeniable trash (“Valley of the Dolls”? Really?). So, here are a few titles that we are still asking for in case anyone is listening: Barbara Loden’s “Wanda”, Joseph Losey’s “The Go-Between”, Giuseppe Patroni Griffi’s “‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore”, Ken Russell’s “The Boy Friend”, Solanas and Getino’s “The Hour of the Furnaces”, Jean Eustache’s “The Mother and the Whore”, Bo Widerberg’s “Joe Hill” and “Man on the Roof”, Michael Ritchie’s “The Candidate” and perhaps Eclipse box sets featuring the films of Mai Zetterling and Susan Sontag.

Animated Gif Christmas (384)More movie theaters and fewer community performance centers. The trend toward non-profit groups buying out abandoned old movie theaters and restoring them is something that CSR can’t help but find commendable. However, instead of being used as a film venue as intended, most are converted into performance arts centers which, more often than not, play host to Mrs. Hastings’ 3rd grader production of “The Night of the Iguana”. At least the wrecking ball ends the suffering quickly.

Animated Gif Christmas (384)The end of useless, endless and needlessly expensive political campaigns. Instead, let all of the prospective candidates show their mettle by pursuing their office as the prize of a giant road race, with inauguration papers hidden under a “Big WH”. 

To read the complete wish list, click the following link to:






Posted in art house cinema, blogging, Boston, Christmas, holidays, humor, Mai Zetterling., Movies, theater, vermont, women, writing | 5 Comments

Floating: “Zeppelin” (1971)

000000zeppelin6            “Zeppelin”  (1971)

    The staggering cost in human lives resulting from global conflicts is reemphasized in Etienne Perier’s World War I adventure “Zeppelin”, one of those myriad cinema fantasies in which the fate of the War, if not the world, is reliant on the quick thinking000000zeppelinOS and romantic attraction of a solitary intelligence agent, here played by an unlikely Michael York. Such a victory might also come with the participation other factors, such as armies, battle strategies and civilian sacrifice during the depletion of wartime resources; none of which seems to be a pertinent factor here, whereas the cut of Alexandra Stewart’s negligee seems of be of heretofore underappreciated vital national importance.

     York portrays Scotsman Geoffrey Richter-Douglas, a lieutenant in the British Army during World War I, who meets a beautiful woman at a party named Stephanie (Stewart), who just happens to be a German spy and with whom he falls in love. She attempts to convince him to desert and return to the bosom of the Germanic side of his family, a suggestion that is all too amenable to his superiors who wish the lieutenant to become a spy and use his family’s connections to somehow penetrate the obviously lax security of German military intelligence and gather valuable information on the LZ36, the newest version of their Zeppelin airship; an improved version of the one shown terrorizing London in the opening scenes. 

   Geoffrey’s defection is staged with a minimum of the theatricality for which British Intelligence has become famous in the movies (a bullet wound in the upper arm is deemed sufficient to grant him credibility) and before Roy Budd’s spirited escape music has a chance to subside from memory, Geoffrey is already safely embraced to the bosomzeppelin1 of German Intelligence (who have their own motives in activating Geoffrey’s desertion from England in the first place) and will have conveniently bumped into an old family friend, Professor Altshul (Marius Goring, in a performance packed with so much barely contained eccentricity, it makes you wonder why Michael Ripper wasn’t cast in the role), who, just as conveniently, happens to be the engineering genius behind the new LZ36. Possible complications arise with Geoffrey’s introduction to Altshul’s new young bride, Erika (Elke Sommer), a fellow engineer who immediately assumes Geoffrey is a spy (could it be the Scot-German’s clipped Oxford accent?), though she never acts on her suspicions.

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

Posted in espionage, History, London, Michael York, Movies, Romance, war movies, women, writing | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Ups and Downs: “The Man Who Skied Down Everest” (1975)

manskied1      “The Man Who Skied Down Everest”  (1975)

    When George Mallory famously responded to the question as to why he wanted to climb Mount Everest with the seemingly flippant remark- “Because it’s there” -his briefmanskiedOS answer would prove to provide a succinct definition as to rationalizing the existential challenge to the modern adventurer. However, when the specific nature of said adventures fall into the category of  novelty rather than that of significance, then such a conquest of historic inconsequence calls for outside observers to apply the brakes of practical comparative criticism. Such a novelty challenge is not so much explored than merely recorded in the Bruce Crawley production of “The Man Who Skied Down Everest”, in what, in essence, is a testament to Man’s persistence in personal glory regardless of the sacrifice or expense to others.

   The film relates, in interestingly documented logistical and technical detail, the method by which hundreds of porters, Sherpas, technicians, journalists and fellow climbers journey from Katmandu to Mount Everest so that Japanese alpine skier Yûichirô Miura may try his hand at being the first man to every ski down the world’s highest peak. The film is narrated completely from the journal of Miura, his words given voice by Canadian actor Douglas Rain (familiar as the voice of HAL 9000 in “2001”), and since his perspective is the only directly articulated window we are given as to nature and purpose of the venture, we manwho2are beholden to his judgment in all matters except for one: what we see for ourselves in the remarkable captured footage, which often either contradicts or minimizes the often pie in the sky philosophical ramblings which fail to account for the reality of the hardships his singular quest for adventure is wreaking on his absurdly vast support team. Rather than a heroic figure, the spoken text reveals the skier to be something of a narcissistic, arrogant jerk, as well as a singularly unimaginative tour guide; espousing prosaic musings meant to memorialize his own status, yet never once do the thoughts of the man capture the poetry of aesthetic splendor in a single one of the wondrous images captured by the camera crew headed by director of photography Mitsuji Kanau.

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


Posted in art house cinema, biography, Documentaries, History, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Silent Revenge: “Oggi a me… domani a te!” (1968)

“Oggi a me… domani a te!”  (1968)

    “Oggi a me… domani a te!”, a.k.a. “Today We Kill, Tomorrow We Die!”, is a not an untypical example of the spaghetti western genre (or the western, period) in that the plotoggiameOS is fueled by an obsessive hunger for revenge. However, rather than featuring a lone vengeance seeking individual, the method of exacting said retribution is given a novel twist with the incorporation of a small band of hired guns à la “The Magnificent Seven”, though here they might be more accurately described as “The Genre Type Five” , with the mercenary group featuring a gambler (William Berger), strongman (Bud Spencer, with an obviously fake beard), ex-lawman (Wayde Preston) and gunfighter (Franco Borelli, credited as Stanley Gordon), all lead by Kiowa (Brett Halsey, credited as Montgomery Ford), a mysterious man of few words who just happens to be wearing the exact outfit worn by Franco Nero’s iconic Django.

    The quintet is on the hunt for the machete wielding leader of a group of vicious Comancheros, Elfego (Japanese great Tatsuya Nakadai, slumming here), who is seen in a sepia toned flashback sequence (which makes the mise-en-scene look  even more impoverished than it already does) killing Kiowa’s wife and framing him for which he isoggi4 sent to prison, and thus providing the fuel for sour grapes that provides  the film its threadbare plot. At no time is it explained why  Elfego engages in such an act of betrayal as he and Kiowa appear to have been friends. (Are they? Who knows?) Nor are we privy as to how Kiowa- beyond the promise of ten thousand dollars each  – persuasively recruits his hired guns to ride with a stranger and face off against tremendous odds, when the motive is personal? Where are his persuasive arguments? And most importantly, when is the strategy revealed in defeating a small army of killers?

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


Posted in Drive-In Movies, grindhouse, Italian cinema, movie reviews, Movies, Spaghetti Westerns, westerns, writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Vacancy: “Cancel My Reservation” (1972)

cancelreservation1.png            “Cancel My Reservation”  (1972)

    Bob Hope’s last starring film role is so wince inducing, audience members may be in danger of developing permanent facial tics. This would-be murder mystery, based on acancelreservationHS novel by Louis L’Amour, but here intended for laughs, imagines stars Hope and Eva Marie Saint as a sort of modern day Nick and Nora Charles, but without any visible effort to replicate the chemistry, sophistication, wit or actual sense of mystery of the “Thin Man” series.

    Hope plays a 42 year old (now, that’s funny) television talk show host Dan Bartlett who, after an on-air tiff with his co-host/spouse Sheila, is medically advised to take a solo vacation to their house in Arizona, where he discovers the dead body of a young Indian woman and even though the bodies begin to pile up, there never seems to be a particular immediacy on the part of the bumbling police (Keenan Wynn and Doodles Weaver doing their best to elicit snickers with material that’s dead on arrival), thus allowing for Dan and his newly arrived wife to play amateur sleuths. However, it might have occurred to someone during the shoot that a mystery comedy should, at a minimum, contain a fair amount of laughs and a trace of intrigue, as when neither objective is reached, the results must be professionally dispiriting; as evidenced by the only notable killing in the film: the protracted 99 minute death rattle which signifies the end of the star’s career in the movies.

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

Posted in Bob Hope, comedy, crime, Culture, Drive-In Movies, Movies, Mystery, Romance, women, writing | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Scraps: “something big” (1971)

bigsomething2                     “something big”  (1971)

    Joe Baker (Dean Martin) is an outlaw with a desire to do “something big” before returning to a Pennsylvania life of domesticity with his Scottish fiancé Dove McBride (thebigsomethingOS always welcome Carol White). In the course of realizing this wish, he and his gang will rob several stagecoaches, kidnap the wife of Army Colonel Morgan (Brian Keith), indulge in a bit of white slavery in order to steal a Gatling gun, hijack a shipment of whiskey which they then unlawfully deliver to an Indian tribe and slaughter an entire village filled with Mexican bandits. The film is presented as a comedy.

    There are many problems with Andrew V. McLaglen’s “something big”, not the least of which is the film’s violent mood swings which appear to be by design, as if the screenwriter James Lee Barrett and the director (both also acting as producers, so the usual backstage alibi of executive interference seems unlikely) were unsure as the  direction they wished their opus to follow and instead decided to unwisely incorporate influences from a variety of forms within the genre. Both Barrett and McLaglen cut their creative teeth steeped in the traditional western form, and their desire to move beyond such a long standing comfort zone is admirable, though the resulting cut and paste quilt of styles seems an ill-conceived effort to appease genre enthusiasts of every  stripe, yet producing a work almost guaranteed to please none.

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

Posted in comedy, Dean Martin, John Ford, movie reviews, Movies, music, Romance, westerns, women, writing | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Ho Ho Ho: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Dec 2018 Edition, Vol. $50hr

hohohos00Ho Ho Ho: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Dec. 2018 Edition, Vol. $50hr

    If not the oldest profession, it certainly would counted high on the list of most depicted professions on the silver screen. We are, of course, referring to the humble hooker (Call ’em what you will: prostitutes, ladies of the evening, fallen women, whores with a heart of gold, call girls, escorts; they’re all there in Bill Clinton’s appointment book. But I digress…) and the sheer volume of their portrayal on the silver screen leads to several critical questions: Why the fascination in Hollywood? Why is it that so many prominent actresses, most whohohohosgif2 profess an undying loyalty to radical feminism (Hollywood-style soldiers in the fight against female sexual objectivity, who attend every red carpet event barely draped in a designer outfit equipped with a plunging neckline extending down to their custom bikini waxing) are inexplicably drawn toward portraying roles that virtually scream objectifying sensationalism? However, not wearing the hat of philosopher nor graced with the ability to mystically communicate with the spirit of Bertrand Russell, we will reserve such inquiries to those best suited to the task and, instead, announce that all ofhohohosgif this jabber is in introduction to this month’s edition of America’s favorite substitute for international Curling competitions, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you this and every month by those fine folks who bring you SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition, we celebrate the Production Code’s greatest nightmare: the paid easy date. Each of the following twenty five images features a film in which the featured business woman enters every casual relationship with the meter running. Your task, as always, is to identify the films illustrated, correctly if you please, and let us know so we might hand you the provocative CSR Culture Shock Award, the next best thing to being there. (What? And good luck.)




Posted in books, cinema, Eartha Kitt, History, Italian cinema, Movies, Musicals, sex, Sophia Loren, theater, westerns, women | 11 Comments

Soft-Boiled: “The Price of Fear” (1956)

pricefear2            “The Price of Fear”  (1956)

       There’s enough nervous fidgeting going on in Abner Biberman’s “The Price of Fear” to replicate seismic tremors, yet such an abundance of consternation seems unmerited inpriceoffearOS this slight but admittedly energetic crime drama in which the most forgiving police dragnet in memory surrounds good guy Dave Barrett (Lex Barker), co-owner of a dog track which is being muscled in on by local crime kingpin Frankie Edare (Warren Stevens) and his squirrely henchman Victor (Phillip Pine). It’s the kind of film which telegraphs the seriousness of the  hoods by how low they wear their fedora brims or how high they arch one eyebrow in any particular scene.

    Successful bank executive Jessica Warren (Merle Oberon) ends an evening of drunken celebration by striking down an elderly professor with her car. Fleeing the scene in a panic, she stops to telephone the police, and while dialing, Dave Barrett grabs her idling car in order to escape a deadly ambush by Victor. Seizing upon the opportunity to not let a passing crime wave go to waste, Jessica calmly informs the police that her car was stolen, thus providing her with a scapegoat for her accident. Meanwhile, with Vince having mislaid his quarry, Frankie sets up Dave’s former partner for a shotgun killing, setting up Dave-  who had earlier threatened the man  -as the convenient patsy.

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





Posted in Boston, crime, Drive-In Movies, film noir, Movies, Reviews, Romance, women, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Seasons Gratings: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, 2018 Advent Calendar Edition, Vol. 50% off

advent0Seasons Gratings: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, 2018 Advent Calendar Edition, Vol. 50% off

    In observance of this festive holiday season, the good folk at Chandler Swain Reviews have decided to desist from the usual obvious jabs at Hillary Clinton, Maxine Waters and the rest of that cadre of cauldron stirring crones to whom the hashtag #MeToo is useful only as a response to the musical question: “who else would like a bribe”? And with that bit of magnanimous conciliation we present this month’s special edition, brought to you in special CSR Daytime Savings Time (special glasses needed to participate are available at 7-Eleven locations nationwide, free with any purchase of a specially up/down marked Florida Orange Recount  Slurpee), of America’s most popular reason for giving up the Internet,babesintoylandgif the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those good folks who provide the world SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition we present the cinematic equivalent of a Christmas Advent Calendar, with a twenty six photo countdown to the Day of Yule (Brynner?) with letters substituting for numbers. Don’t look for candy behind the flaps as that great social scientist Michelle Obama, famous for imposing the ” Lunchtime Purging Project” on the nation’s schoolchildren with the introduction of kale-rich menus, quietly forced lawmakers (through threats of removing the Congressional Martini Bar with a buffet of cruciferous vegetables) to enact Congressional Resolution “AH485911647-0019287756 which provides that “no online advent calendar may offer any other than samplings of sarcasm rather than pleasing, sugary treats, exempt are WH Executive editions which may grant offerings of yummy half smokes and tobacco products to Oval Office participants”, an elitist and inhumane proclamation roundly applauded by our caustically antisocial editorial offices. Way to go, babe. But I digress… The following twenty six images are randomly selected from our extensive (a whole drawer full!) photo archives of useless movie stills. There is to be no thematic connection among the picturesadventgif2 to be inferred beyond that of our usual motive in attempting to baffle, confuse and otherwise annoy the whole of the Internet reading world, with a special attention given to one particularly crabby Brit (and Alex). The challenge is the usual one of identification of the films depicted, this time with a twist. In deference to the difficulty with which these puzzles are met by those who don’t have the answers right in front of them when putting them together, we have devised, for this edition, a kind of excogitative cheat sheet in labelling the photos with an alphabetical rather than numerical designation. The name of the film will correspond with the letter of the image, thus providing a valuable clue in aiding the correct completion of the puzzle. The first twenty to correctly identify all twenty six film will receive the often imitated and more often declared a public health hazard, the CSR Culture Shock Award, suitable for framing or dipping in a tasty onion dip. Good luck.

a)adventab)adventbc)adventcd)adventd.pnge)adventef)adventfg)adventgh)adventhi)adventij)adventjk)adventkl)adventlm)adventmn)adventno)adventop)adventpq)adventqr)adventrs)adventst)adventtu)adventuv)adventvw)adventwx)adventx y)adventyz)adventz




Posted in books, Boston, Christmas, Doris Day, holidays, humor, Movies, photography, politics, theater, women, writing | 8 Comments

Staged Fright: “The Climax” (1944)


climax4         “The Climax”  (1944)

    Based upon the 1909 play by Edward Locke, George Waggner’s “The Climax” is a film with obvious pretensions toward elevating the Universal horror film to a more sophisticated and urbane level rather than the usual bogeyman programmers in whichclimaxOS  star Boris Karloff found himself frequently unchallenged as an actor.

    Originally intended as a sequel to the studio’s 1943 remake of “Phantom of the Opera”, “The Climax” makes the same mistakes as its intended antecedent with its meritless surfeit of gaudily staged musical sequences that distract from the central antagonist of the piece; manifested here in the figure of house physician Dr. Friedrich Hohner (Karloff), a man dangerously obsessed with possessing the celebrated operatic diva Marcellina (June Vincent), who vanished mysteriously (though the film reveals the secret of her disappearance in the first minutes of the film with the aid of a clumsily inserted flashback) ten years prior to the central narrative involving the overnight rise of new operetta star Angela Klatt (Susanna Foster). For reasons left best to the plot mechanics left abandoned in unused script drafts, Hohner becomes obsessed with Angela’s voice and its resemblance to Marcellina’s and sets upon a scheme to sabotage the budding star’s career through hypnotic suggestion.

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


Posted in 1940's movies, Boris Karloff, horror, Movies, music, Romance, theater, writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Motions: “A Pair of Briefs” (1962)

                    “A Pair of Briefs”  (1962)

        If one were to leave the theater a mere two minutes after the start of Ralph Thomas’ “A Pair of Briefs”, one might conclude that between the suggestively saucy title and the opening scene, in which Mary Peach is seen practicing her trial orations while clothed only in the most intimate apparel, that the film is an example of one of those cheeky sex comedies of which the British film industry found a peculiar fondness,apairofbriefsOS despite the outward appearance of being able to carry on with only a stiff upper lip. In fact, “A Pair of Briefs” is a slight, if charming, comedy which manages that most British of cinema exercises: the pursuit of chaste romance while gently skewering one of the grandly pompous institutions of the Empire, in this case, the judicial system.

    The film’s success rests entirely on the charm of its principals, with jurisprudence suffering unfold fraudulent offenses in the service assuring that the road will be paved, without obstructions, for the enamored  couple (who in typical movie fashion, fail to express the most basic admissions of mutual attraction until the Happily Ever After fade out); with the consummation of family friendly levels of romantic declarations far outweighing the concerns of the Realm. As a legal comedy, it is a featherweight confection, with nary an cutthroat antagonist nor a despicable lawyer in view; an optimistically naïve professional view that, if not realistic, is nonetheless rather refreshing. 

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



Posted in British films, comedy, movie reviews, Movies, Romance, theater, women | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Power Couples

melbrooks     Just for the heck of it, a look at a few of the power couples who have made a difference in the cinema.

Set of Les Bonnes Femmes










Posted in biography, Boston, cinema, Federico Fellini, Movies, photography, Roger Vadim, Romance | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Whose West Is It Anyway?: “Tomahawk” (1951)



RED MAN’S BURDEN: Red Cloud (John War Eagle) may be the most important real-life historical figure represented in “Tomahawk”, but his people’s concerns become secondary to the more formulaic Hollywood embellishments of romance and personal revenge. 

        “Tomahawk”  (1951)

    George Sherman’s “Tomahawk” is one of those colorful  1950’s western films of surprising quantity that are (in theory) sympathetic to the American Indian (in this casetomahawkPOS the Sioux) as victims of duplicitous double talk from the government while altogether maintaining an unwavering mindfulness of the importance of thrill inducing sporadically inserted cavalry charging action.

    However, one can’t help but sense the earnestness of the movie’s initially asserted anti-establishment intentions by the almost ludicrously pompous gravitas with which the narrator imparts his information, not unlike those occasions in Cecil B. DeMille epics when the filmmaker attempted to masquerade the hoarier aspects of his epics by dubbing over them with portentous voiceovers; the equivalent of artistic spackle, though in this case, the effort is slightly undercut as the narrator sounds suspiciously similar to Criswell from Ed Wood films. This attempted earnestness often acts as a dampening agent, inducing an unnecessary wet blanket on an already formulaic but nevertheless competently told yarn, which manages to maintain an adequate level of interest in the ultimate outcome of the tenuous frontier tensions between clashing cultures, while seriously shortchanging on the far more interesting historical facts. If there are undeniable pleasures to be taken from the film (there are a few), they are dependent on the professional execution of elements that have become comfortably familiar in westerns rather than by any remarkable extension of said tropes.

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



Posted in Drive-In Movies, History, Movies, racism, Romance, westerns, women, writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Who’s That Sleeping in My Head?: “The Reincarnation of Peter Proud” (1975)

       “The Reincarnation of Peter Proud”  (1975)

    What is it about extrasensory activity in movies that makes you want to run the other way? If a character is blessed with precognitive visions, it is an inevitable curse leading to a great reincarnationofpeterproudOSdeal of hand-wringing, near or actual descents into madness and usually a serial killer turning his sights on that gifted/unlucky individual. On the other hand, if it’s visions of past life experiences we’re talking about, what seems like a miracle of the mind cataloging the consciousness of several lifetimes generally indicates that character (and the viewer) will be stuck in several dreary plots within the same cheap B movie. Such is the case with J. Lee Thompson’s 1975 film “The Reincarnation of Peter Proud”, a movie which manages the too frequent accomplishment of making the preternatural mundane and the mundane even more so (“The Serpent and the Rainbow” anyone?).

    Peter Proud (Michael Sarrazin) is a college professor who is having trouble sleeping, or rather it’s what going on while he is sleeping that’s troubling. Recurring visions of a man swimming in a dark lake and meeting with a violent fate are haunting his REM cycles, and after consultations with sleep specialist Dr.reincarnation30 Sam Goodman (Paul Hecht) prove unsatisfactory, Peter-  armed with the rigorous skepticism of an academic  – takes the next logical diagnostic step with a trip to the local occult shop where neither a Satanic mass or the usual oddball movie background extras dissuade him from pursuing an unlikely course of supernatural investigation based solely on reading a book by Edgar Cayce. Thus engaged, the film-  rather than easily conceding to the lure of supernatural horror film excesses briefly popularized in the wake of the success of “The Exorcist” -essentially becomes an earnest detective story with a major disadvantage in that the audience already knows the nature of Peter’s psychic condition; with the very title of the piece being a less than subtle hint.

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

Posted in books, movie reviews, Movies, music, Mystery, new england, psychiatry, Romance, women, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Empty Space: “Space Thing” (1968)

spacething69       “Space Thing”  (1968)

    The most meritoriously insignificant of films, surely among which Byron Mabe’s “Space Thing” may be unhesitatingly included, may often offer themselves up as the bearers of small life lessons concerning the creative miasma known as filmmaking. Through its own embarrassing example of dollar store production values, one nostrumspacethingOS for aspiring cineastes of all stripes-  an adherence to which might alleviate a great deal of consternation further along the production process  – might be in a serious consideration of not actually making the film if you lack the minimum of necessary resources; such as the purchase of paper on which to jot down a script. This caveat might be especially true if your idea for the film can be described with a minimum of no words or less.    

    Considering the complete absence of sexiness in “Space Thing”, the only novelty to engage interest is the supposed science fiction context in what is otherwise merely an extremely tired succession of sexual couplings that are so anemic in their staging and performance that it is quite possible none of the encounters intends to or reaches a level beyond lightweight petting. It is most revealing to ponder the lack of necessity of the film’s location in outer space, as if the pretense of using the traditions of the science fiction film would act as a commercial enhancement promising an elevation to the usual parade of disengaged mattress couplings, but as an example of the SF film,”Space Thing” is as legitimate a contribution to the expanding intellectual reach of the genre (released in the same year as “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Planet of the Apes” and “Charly”) as would be any suggestion that 1950s nudist camp films merit reevaluation as studies in Cold War geopolitics.

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

Posted in grindhouse, movie reviews, Movies, science fiction, sex, Sex in Cinema, women | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Party Crashers: “The Penthouse” (1967)

penthouse1            “The Penthouse”  (1967)

    Two strangely loquacious thugs named Tom (Tony Beckley) and Dick (Norman Rodway) stage an early morning invasion of a penthouse apartment, occupied by BrucepenthouseOS (Terence Morgan), a real estate broker who is enjoying a tryst with his mistress Barbara (Suzy Kendall), during which they terrorize the couple and subject Barbara to multiple acts of rape. Peter Collinson’s debut feature, based upon the Scott Forbes play The Meter Man, is a precursor of far more notorious depictions of domesticity undone through violent invasion by Sam Peckinpah and Michael Haneke, though fortified with the obtuse Pinteresque nature of the script (adapted by Collinson), the film lacks a comforting clarity of thematic intention in which the film can be casually viewed as a variation of prior, more straightforward dramas dealing with anarchic forces disrupting the placid surface of middle class tranquility.

    “The Penthouse” is a thriller that wastes no time in setting up its mousetrap of psychological dominance, yet spares not a single moment in interpreting the actions, statements and motivations of the intruding characters. The majority of the dialogue is relayed as continuous argumentum ad absurdum, a surreal verbosity which results in equal frustration of the hostage characters and the audience; though for the latter, therepenthouse9 are stimulating compensations as there is adequate evidence that the film is not intended to be viewed through the prism of realism  (albeit with heavily italicized black comic elements), but as an example of the Theater of the Absurd. Certainly Tom and Dick’s verbal gamesmanship leaves the hostages and the audience upended with their relentless bipolar assault of disorienting sardonic verbal comments laced with truly frightening moments of pathological rage; a torturous session of psychological humiliation that unaccountably shifts from the apoplectic to the supercilious.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:–films-forgotten/







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Down the Hatch: “Deep Throat” (1972)

deepthroat16       “Deep Throat  (1972)

     The only remotely interesting aspect of Gerard Damiano’s “Deep Throat” is that the film which is credited with the popular launching of the so-called era of “Porno Chic” and,deepOS with it, the blueprint for what was to be quickly vilified as an anti-feminist cultural industry beholden to the notion of the sexual objectification of women and the furtherance of the blindly accepted cultural assumption of male dominance in the war of the sexes, should in itself be primarily concerned with the pleasure principle of a woman. What is most remarkable about all of the film’s attention, notoriety and influence is that it is, in fact, a film of no significance as a work of cinema, not even in the realm of the about to explode hardcore scene (in which it stands as a fairly primitive effort), except for the fact that it happened to enjoy a situational “perfect storm” in which bellwether influence is attributable from a film with no appreciable cinematic value. (Isn’t it simply possible that the whispered mystery behind the film’s eponymous sexual talent created a novelty cultural anomaly with the forbidden lure of a carnival freak show; a cause célèbre for the respectably curious who might enter in to the national conversation [“Didn’t Carson talk about it on TV?”] about that thing called “The Sexual Revolution” by way of merely attending what could safely be regarded, not a dirty movie, but a cultural tourist attraction?)

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

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The Feminine Mystique: “I Want What I Want” (1972)

iwantwhatiwant1      “I Want What I Want”  (1972)

    A young man hesitatingly sneaks looks at peeks as pretty girls as they pass by, with an uncomfortable longing that will turn out to have less to do with desire with than a desire of the opposite sex. Seldom since Ed Wood’s notorious “Glen or Glenda?” have such mixediwantwhatiwantOS signals been so frankly expressed than in John Dexter’s “I Want What I Want”, the film adaptation of Geoff Brown’s novel that, in large part, thankfully foregoes the pitfalls of walking headlong into a potential minefield of demeaning sensationalism about its subject, a fairly notable accomplishment considering its production  during a period when the commercial cinema was still having a difficult time dealing with sexuality in a straightforward manner, never mind dealing with the complexities of any variation outside of mainstream experience. (Sadly, decades later, the situation has progressed nary a step, despite the prolific volume of pornographically explicit material available with embarrassing ease, the public has become frightfully comfortable with material demonstrating sex without the slightest evident interest in any mature exploration of sexuality.)

    Roy is that young man, a somewhat androgynous fellow whose obvious discomfort in his own gender skin finds an unwanted additional source of suppression through his martinet of a widowed father (Harry Andrews) who unwittingly reinforces Roy’s revulsion of his unwanted sexual identity  by using him as a foil in which the father advances his own lascivious designs against women. Discovered wearing his mother’siwantwhatiwant2 clothes during one of his father’s assignations, Roy leaves the discomfort of his home in an attempt to isolate himself from his past and create a new identity for himself; Roy becomes Wendy by the intricate process of buying women’s clothing and growing his hair to a fashionable feminine length. The passage of time necessary for this illusionary transition is represented by little vignettes involving Roy’s initially awkward attempts at cosmetic makeovers, nail painting and the wearing of high heels. Eventually satisfied that his cosmetic transformation into Wendy has reached a level with which he might enjoy unsuspected identification as a woman, he/she rents a room where she settles into a welcoming relationship with her landlady (Jill Bennett) and fellow boarders, until a tentative but mutual attraction between Wendy and a man named Frank (Michael Coles) threatens to expose Wendy’s true nature, leading to a major life decision.

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

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Vacancies: “Common-Law Cabin” (1967)


                  “Common-Law Cabin”  (1967)

    “Common-Law Cabin” is a white trash comedy concerning the denizens of a dilapidated ranch cum tourist attraction on the Colorado River. The film begins like an earnest tourismcommonlawcabinOS documentary with narration that is as pregnant with double meaning as the opening lecture on pesticides in  “Z”, though being a Russ Meyer production, the movie is ultimately less concerned with  AAA travel advisories than the attractions of the triple D.

    Hoople Haven is a hopelessly rundown Arizona property owned by Dewey Hoople (Jackie Moran), who along with ex-stripper Babette (Babette Bardot) and his innocent but “healthy” sixteen year old daughter Coral (Adele Rein), host unsuspecting tourists duped by the promise of an “adventure” by Hoople’s unscrupulous and constantly inebriated confederate Cracker (Franklin Bolger). His latest recruits include the fusspot Dr. Martin Ross (John Furlong), his overheated sexpot wife Sheila (Alaina Capri), and a leering ex-detective, Barney Rickert (Ken Swofford), who, from the start, is obviously up to no good as he thinks he’s smarter than anyone else in the film and doesn’t disguise that belief for one moment.

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


Posted in comedy, crime, Drive-In Movies, erotica, grindhouse, movie reviews, Movies, Russ Meyer, sex, women, writing | Tagged | 5 Comments

Chandler’s Trailers: “Frogs” (1972)

frogs5“Frogs” (1972) Nature photographer Pickett Smith (Sam Elliot, sans dashing lip brush) finds his canoe capsized due to inconsiderate nautical etiquette and finds himself a guest of wheelchair bound curmudgeon Jason Crockett (Ray Milland, under a dashing Panama hat), island patriarch of the Crockett clan who are gathered for the annual celebration of his Fourth of July birthday. If Smith’s only concern were that he seems to have been stranded with a road company performing a drive-in version of Tennessee Williams Southern Gothic (in which elusive clarity and common sense are only one less cocktail or one more no to Grandpa away) one might be sympathetic to Elliot’s attempt at playing a hero in an unwritten role, or to question why Jason is so stubborn, despite the mayhem, in proceeding with his celebratory agenda that he regards violent deaths in the family as a personal inconvenience.

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

Posted in 1970's movies, Alfred Hitchcock, Drive-In Movies, horror, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

All Spaced Out: Classic Film Photo Quiz, Nov. 2018 Edition, Vol.109876543210

astro27    All Spaced Out:  Classic Film Photo Quiz, Nov. 2018
Edition, Vol. 109876543210

    With the idea of a Space Force looming within striking distance in the political ether (does this mean we can arm with ray guns with an NRA membership?), it seems like as good a time as any to look back with nostalgic fondness on all of those pioneers of space exploration as celebrated in the movies. Unfortunately, with calls for diversity and inclusion nibbling at the heels of Internet good taste (is that an oxymoron?), this would precipitate the inclusion of no good galactic rat fink Ming the Merciless if we wished to feature a photo of Flash Gordon. (Besides, in deference to our Millennial audience… allastrogif two… we didn’t want to present a film of such vintage that the characters might be mistaken for a couple of the Founding Fathers and thus create confusion and disappointment on any subsequent viewings of Hamilton.) So, with this in mind (what?), we present this month’s edition of America’s most stubborn advocate for humankind to reach for the stars and dare Gort to cross Obama’s red line, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you by the makers of that most harmonious snack food taken with Tang, SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast astro-candy. In this edition we present twenty five images of movie astronauts fully garbed in the most fashionable space wear NASA (or whatever unnamed foreign agency, whose identities will-  and should  -remain anonymous pending a full Senate investigation) could scrape together in materials that are both breathable and vacuum sealed. (We could have saved a fortune in the budgets if they’d taken our suggestion of encasing our star voyagers in durable Saran Wrap, but I digress…) It is your task to identify all twenty five films and tell us about it. (This ain’t rocket science.) The first to plant their flag on the Undiscovered Country of twenty five correct answers will receive the heavyweight but weightless CSR Culture Shock Award. God speed, John Glenn!


Posted in books, History, Movies, politics, science, science fiction, women, writing | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Roughage: “Bad Girls Go to Hell” (1965)



NO EXIT: If the prison bars are visually symbolic, they are quite thematically literal in Doris Wishman’s “Bad Girls Go to Hell”, which presents an inescapable elliptical nightmarish existence to which all women, whether “bad” or not. are destined to suffer. Rather than a misogynistic exercise, it is a bleakly existential portrayal of womanhood unable to find, or be allowed to find, any safe haven in a world filled with men and other women.

          “Bad Girls Go to Hell”   (1965)

    Crossing the perilous chasm that separates the blasé nudie and the realm of the deliberately provocative roughie, director Doris Wishman appears to delve into the distasteful world of misogyny with “Bad Girls Go to Hell”, yet within the loose framework badgirlsOSof her seedy narrative emerges an interesting variation of the time-honored knee jerk reactions to shallowly explored sexism whenever the subject of either the objectification or abuse (physical or sexual) of women is explored in the cinema.

    Ellen (Gigi Darlene) is a young Boston housewife who enjoys the fruits of an existence of traditional but unremarkable domesticity- by all accounts, her husband Ted (Alan Feinstein) is loving and devoted -until she is raped one morning by the building janitor (Harold Key), who threatens to tell her husband what has happened. (Wouldn’t this amount to a criminal confession?) Returning to her apartment, Ellen finds a note under the door from the janitor, demanding that she comes to his room, which she foolishly does, hoping to bribe him from raping her again, which he wouldn’t be able to do if she had (a) called the police, (b) called her husband, or (c) not voluntarily walked into his room. However, during the second rape, she manages to smash her assailant on the skull, killing him instantly. Ellen,00000badgirls3 accompanied by panicked voiceovers and the sometimes overwrought stock jazz selections which Wishman leans heavily upon to carry the film through its more dramatically inert moments (as a writer and director Wishman seems more concerned with getting to a point in the narrative rather than in dramatizing it), she packs her bags and flees to New York City to “disappear in the crowd”, where she is summarily beaten, seduced and raped in her desperate attempt to find sanctuary. Eventually she finds a safe haven with a position as a live-in companion to an elderly invalid, however, but soon, through a startling coincidence that could only happen in the movies, her worst fears are realized. Or are they? Wishman provides one of those twists would have seem to allow the prolonged agony of a woman’s suffering without lasting emotional resonance or genuine consequences. Or does she? With its elliptical plot structure that bluntly projects (or sadistically enjoys, depending on how seriously one takes the film) a more despairing view of pessimism toward the human condition which extends far beyond a singular gender devaluation; unflinchingly portraying a spiraling descent into an existence of unceasing psychological and physical cruelty which, according to the film, innocent women are powerless to escape.

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












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From the Ashes: “Frankenstein” (1910)



In an image starkly reminiscent of Henry Fuseli’s painting The Nightmare, a prostrate Frankenstein is haunted by his creation in J. Searle Dawley’s 1910 film version of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”.

              “Frankenstein”  (1910)

    Though appreciably compromised in its filmic translation from the novel by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (an introductory title acknowledges the film to be a “liberal adaptation”), not only due to a restrictive running time, but also in resulting necessary pruning of the source-  not due to parochial considerations offrankensteinbrochure potentially sensational material, but due to the thematic breadth of the book, J. Searle Dawley’s 1910 film of “Frankenstein” is an impressively conceived film which, although simplifying the events of the source material, manages to achieve a valiant swing and miss at the thematic heart of the novel; appreciably more than most of the more popular incarnations to follow, as their genesis was fatefully altered by the intermediate intrusion of a 1927 theatrical revision authored by Peggy Webling, additionally seasoned with a liberal  adaptation by John L. Balderston before traveling through a gauntlet of, at least, four additional scenarists, which become the altered Hollywoodized template for most of the Gothically suffused productions to follow.

    The film opens with Frankenstein departing for college and immediately jumps two years ahead when it is announced that he has “discovered the mystery of life”, though no details are shed concerning the nature of this discovery, which is actually in keeping with Shelley’s story, in which Frankenstein’s methodology (outside of the use of used body tissues) was entertained with a similar obscurity; with the novel concerned more with the philosophical underpinnings of frankenstein1such a discovery rather than the nature of its mechanics. However, in dramatizing the creature’s creation, Dawley’s film does suggest tantalizing links to the mythic rather than the scientific; with the monster sculpted in a fiery vat, suggesting an elemental association with the Greek myth of the Titan Prometheus to whom Shelley shares a similar insight into the secrets of life and death and similarly uses that knowledge incautiously, both failing to reconcile responsible action with the acquisition of advanced (read, forbidden) knowledge. Shelley explicitly addresses this very parallel in her thematic attribution when she subtitled her novel: The Modern Prometheus.

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


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Shooting Blanks: “Inseminoid” (1981)

inseminoid2               “Inseminoid”  (1981)

    With imitation being the shortest route to the creation of bad movies, it was only a matter of counting down the minutes before “Alien”, a prestige recycling of the ludicrous 1950s SFinseminoidOS potboiler “It! The Terror From Beyond Space” would begat such a noxious penny dreadful offspring as “Inseminoid”. Though, one must credit the “Alien” scribes for their ambition in also filching the idea of cross-species impregnation which was the central theme of 1958’s “I Married a Monster From Outer Space” (itself a somewhat fortunate recipient of ideas presented in the 1956 film “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”), would also see realization in such varied films as “Mars Needs Women”, “Demon Seed” and “Humanoids From the Deep”. 

   On a distant planet, a group of dramatically incapable scientists are exploring archeological ruins (actually, simply a cave) submerged in the type of conveniently misty atmosphere that makes for impressive Spielbergian beams of light and serves to disguise the fact that the mysterious crystalline samples found lying about are actually rock candy. After several mishaps which go strangely unquestioned, one of the team is impregnated by an alien entity, causing her to become mentally unbalanced and instead inseminoid1.jpgof craving pickles and ice cream, begins to systematically kill and occasionally feed on the crew (how convenient that in the vastness of space, this assemblage has, coursing through its veins, the precise nutritional supplements an expectant mommy requires), who themselves are trapped and awaiting rescue due to circumstances too stupid to recount. 

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


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Sleeping Around: “Submission” (1969)


IS THIS ANY WAY TO TREAT A BABY RUTH BAR?: Woman-child Vickie (Lisa Duran, a pre-adult movie Jennifer Welles) is at the mercy of either an extreme sugar fix or the spell of her creepy boyfriend/Svengali figure Barry (Gary Judin); the psychology not being very clear nor consistent in “Submission”, a film that trades on the appeal of its occasionally genuinely erotic sex scenes rather than any semblance of narrative clarity.

                  “Submission”  (1969)

    Audiences seeking erotic satisfaction solely for its own sake could do worse than Allen Savage’s obscure but bizarre softcore effort “Submission”; and this is only considering that the bar for eroticism in the cinema has been set so perilously low that even the mostsubmissionOS fleeting scrap of genuine sexiness, no matter how seedy the source, is an occasion for attention. That these morsels are wrapped in a film that neither makes sense, has a point, nor seems to have the slightest inclination toward advancing the most primitive form of dramaturgy is, perhaps, proof positive that in the world of sexploitation, the smallest taste of sin is offset by a trip to cinema purgatory.

    Vickie (a pre-porn Jennifer Welles, credited as Lisa Duran) is a young woman whose behavior indicates that she is possessed by some irregular form of infantilism which manifests itself whenever she crosses paths with a pet store bunny or a candy bar. This atypical behavior appears to incapacitate any judgment or will power on her part, allowing her boyfriend Barry (Gary Judin) to exact some strange hold over her, engaging Vickie as a confederate (though what her part in the plan is never defined) in the defrauding of successful women, though what the nature of the scheme is (the film suggests they insinuate themselves into households as live-in help, though Barry’s skill set seems limited to shaking TetraMin flakes into an aquarium tank) never clarified, nor makes a bit of sense even in retrospective consideration. Most of the film is immersed in random  sexual encounters which are either meant as flashbacks or fantasies (this is never made clear) which are (as is much of the film) shot MOS and overlaid with off-putting library music cues that sound like a creepy and ill-suited soundtrack cut from the opening scenes of “Night of the Living Dead”.

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

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Soulless: “Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS” (1975)

ilsa6         “Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS”  (1975)

    If history doesn’t present us with enough examples of inhuman atrocity, leave it to the movie industry to feel compelled to invent a peculiar hybrid combining the attractions ofilsaOS sex and a form of domination and sadism which treads far beyond the questionable behavior favored in the average “roughie” vehicle. 

    Constantly in search of the latest exploitable trend whose only purpose was to separate the public from the contents of its wallet, the Nazisploitation film was born; a degrading genre dependent on combining the lure of the skin flick with a brutality based upon the most lurid aspects of the Third Reich, but susceptible to expansion and reinvention by a cadre of filmmakers  for whom the actions of those who brought about the death of millions clearly didn’t go far enough. The eternal debate as to why a predominance of violence in film is deemed acceptable to moral cultural watchdogs while sexual content is condemnable is rendered largely irrelevant by the Nazisploitation film which uses fairly recent examples of state sanctioned butchery as a jumping off point in the advancement of endurance tests of savagery and proudly immersed in a level of tastelessness that is nothing short of contemptible.

    To avoid confusion that the filmmakers are only motivated by any but  the purest of motives, “Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS” begins with a mission statement of sorts, assuring the audience that the film is based upon historical fact and concludes with a rather ilsa1disingenuous caveat that such global offenses should never happen again;  except of course, in enthusiastic representation on movie screens everywhere. As a rule of thumb, it is generally a sound policy to approach with suspicion when a film features such a self-serving pronouncement as this; a fair indicator that the producers are trying to deflect accusations of pandering to the audience’s more base misogynistic proclivities;  especially since the film undeniably leans heavily toward the gratuitously detailed and graphic torturing (including death by decompression chamber, gang rape, the use of electrically enhanced cavity probes and being boiled alive) of primarily young, nubile and buxom women. Just whose fantasies are being satisfied here anyway?

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




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Mother Knows Best: “Career Bed” (1969)



HEY, THAT’S NOT WHERE YOU LOOK FOR LOOSE CHANGE:  Hopeful starlet Susan (Lisa Duran, aka, later hardcore adult actress Jennifer Welles) finds that the road to fame and fortune is paved with as many oddball characters as Alice’s trip through a Harvey Weinstein version of Wonderland, in Joel M. Reed’s “Career Bed”.

                     “Career Bed”  (1969)

   “Don’t give up your virginity for some silly boy, it’s too important an asset.”

     With motherly advice like this is it any wonder that stage mothers have a bad reputation? This situation will certainly not be alleviated by the lurid details of a mother’s crass exploitation of her daughter which are the essence of Joel M. Reed’s “Career Bed”; less a cautionary tale than a tour through the unrelieved depravities to becareerOS found in the world of show business with just the merest suggestion of a “come hither” look.

    Susan (Jennifer Welles, here identified as Lisa Duran) travels to the New York City to become a great star at the urging of her frustrated and highly oversexed mother Mrs. Potter (Honey Hunter). Despite Susan’s lack of any type of performance ability, Mrs. Potter arranges for a series of contacts with the sleaziest assortment of depraved men (one resembling, coincidentally, an eerie doppelgänger of Woody Allen), each of whom claim to be able to  give her fame and fortune in exchange for using the supposed virgin as a sexual amusement park. 


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


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Chandler’s Trailers: “Terror in the Wax Museum” (1973)

Teterrorinwax1“Terror in the Wax Museum”  (1973) When the body of Chamber of Horrors wax museum proprietor Claude Dupree (John Carradine) is discovered stabbed with the scalpel of his waxworks Jack the Ripper, can an obligatory stacking of bodies be far behind? And will the stolid, dull as dirt detective spend more time pursuing the girl than the killer? Or will the last minute rescuing of the fainting damsel in distress include someone falling into a vat of bubbling wax? Director George Fenady’s film borrows so many elements from prior similarly situated films that one can practically recite along with Ray Milland’s Harry Flexner his gleeful recanting of the heinous crimes perpetrated by the murderers represented in the museum, which is colorfully used only to bring about the usual  histrionic overreactions of fear and hysteria from the museum patrons, and to give the illusion that the pallid tableaux seem that much more vibrantly grotesque than they actually are.

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

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Dancing in the Dark: “Orgy of the Dead” (1965)


WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET?: In a blatant homage to “Goldfinger”, Pat Barrington incongruously appears plated in gold during the opening of the Edward D. Wood, Jr.-penned “Orgy of the Dead”, which proves that if the notoriously inept director/writer was never involved in the production of a good movie, at least he patronized them.

          “Orgy of the Dead”  (1965)

    Death may be eternal, but it doesn’t hold a candle to how one feels sitting through “Orgy of the Dead”. If the opening narration, spoken by a visibly tired Criswell, soundsorgyofdeadOS vaguely familiar, it may that it is lifted almost verbatim from Ed Wood’s “Night of the Ghouls”, his presumably lost and unreleased 1958 production (it was withheld from any possibility of distribution by the film lab until the processing charges were paid in 1984), proving that in the world of low budget trash cinema, even the most desperate of material is resourcefully, though not wisely, recyclable.

    That a second use of said materials proves as equally ineffective as in its original purposing is demonstrative of the inadvisable nature of the faulty notion the shuffling of dead wood.  In fact, much of what is seen in “Orgy of the Dead” will be redundant to those familiar with the Wood oeuvre, with the only differences being the introduction of color photography, nudity of an embarrassingly unerotic abundance and the fact that the film is actually directed, not by Wood himself, but by one Stephen C. Apostolof under the pseudonym A.C. Stephen, whose open display of Wood-like directorial primitivism is indicative of the fact that even though higher artistic instincts are in evidence throughout the world of cinema, in practical terms they are difficult, if not impossible to replicate, whereas the ease of ineptitude is easily assimilated and, by all evidence, can be highly contagious. 

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

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Rainy Day Monday: Classic Film Photo Images Quiz, Oct. 2018 Edition, Vol. 23

RashomongifRainy Day Monday: Classic Film Photo Images Quiz, Oct. 2018 Edition, Vol. 23

    Welcome again guys and chicklets to yet another in the long suffering series known as The Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those wonderful folks who manufacture. distribute and consume SKITTLES, the all-weather breakfast candy. And speaking of the weather, the current season of extra heavy precipitation grants an yet another cheap opportunity to exploit the current headlines by presenting a new and exciting edition of our game. In this edition, we return to that most obscuring of visual elements (no, not the alarming volume of gauze wrapped around the camera lens to make Elizabeth Taylor look anything other than a bloated drunkard): rain. (You wouldraingif have thought the mention of precipitation would have been a dead giveaway, but we must remember that there are university educated millennials in the room who might not be acquainted with such antiquated meteorological concepts beyond #WetFallFromSky.) With those with water on the brain in mind we present a celebration of the time honored tradition of not having enough sense to get out of the rain in the movies. The following twenty five images feature films in which a proper deluge has been provided for dramatic effect. Your task is to identify all of the images and relay your findings to CSR headquarters in a timely fashion before the inevitable snowfall editions are presented. The first to show the true spirit of Image I.D. Entrepreneurship will receive the waterproof but highly flammable CSR Culture Shock Award. Good luck.

01)rain2 02)rain303)rain1904)rain2105) rain1706) rain3007) rain2608)rain409)rain510)rain 1111)rain1312)rain1013)rain714)rain1415)rain916)rain6017)arrested2118)rain2919)rain2720)rain1621)rain2222)rain2023)rain4424)rain2325)rain41



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Sweet Sixteen Party, or: Men Bad- A Demented World of Women in Peril: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Special Congressional Misandry Edition, Vol.37-24-36


LEADING DOWN A TREACHEROUS PATH (or, IT’S ALL MEN’S FAULT): Despite the seemingly innocent context of this image, an increasing number of Democratic congresswomen, card carrying members of the sororal organization Congressional Representatives Against Male Pride (or C.R.A.M.P.) would surely identify this as proof to their claims that any intrusion of the Y chromosome (especially the bleached variety) into the life of any woman will inevitably lead to that woman’s cultural, psychological, intellectual and sexual demise with such severity that it may interrupt her daily viewing of Ellen. The again, many think we have entered a new Age of Women in which reason and placid maternal instincts will replace the reviled patriarchal traditions of Playboy Party Jokes and downtown public scratching; a promising philosophical bent best illustrated by paraphrasing that great modern philosopher Joy Behar: DO THOSE *%$^#& MEN *$&%^# AND THOSE *$&%& REPUBLICAN &%*$& WHITE %&$*%& THINK THEY ARE %&$^%*& GOING TO %&*$& KEEP $&*%&$ GETTING AWAY WITH ALL THIS %&^*%& &%^$*%* &%$* ??!!?; or to translate into plain English (press 2 for Español): it’s time for a massive delivery of haute couture straightjackets in assorted Ladies’ sizes 0 – 18.

Sweet Sixteen Party, or: Men Bad- A Demented World of Women in Peril:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Special Congressional Misandry Edition, Vol. 37-24-36

    Caught in a fashionable wave of gender activism, in which the very use of a formerly proper and utilitarian sex specific pronoun can, on many campuses of ironically labelled “higher learning”, earn the transgressor a punishment commiserate with that of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, is it any wonder that the male of the species enjoys a shorter average lifespan than his female counterparts,  most certainly attributable to the voluntary erosion of thearrestedgif will to live after enduring the extended sharing of the planet with a tribe whose world view is defined by the acquisition of equality through subscriptions to O, The Oprah Magazine and a magnetic draw to every utterance by that strange gorgon-like creature in pantsuits who is identified (in hush monied tones) as the “It Takes A Village Idiot”? Which (for some unfathomable reason that defies the word “segue”) brings us to this month’s special edition of America’s most proudly efficient weapon in the anti-suffragette movement (next month, we resist Prohibition!), the Monthly Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you this month by those fine makers of SKITTLES, America’s most popular non-medicinal cure for monthly feminine symptoms of grouchiness, accompanied by the increased desire to implement community-wide castration. In this edition we recognize the politically sensitive cinemaarrestedgif2 and its enthusiastic lack of hesitation in licking its chops in depicting women in peril while putting aside a few moments  during the annual Hollywood self-congratulation award season to extend a soiled hand in solidarity to the Me Too Movement; an ironic throwback to classic locker room chatter which goes as follows: “Hey Hank, I’m sick of my wife’s clucking.” “Me too, Dave.” (Transcripts of the preceding drama are available for school and institutional performance for a nominal fee from Samuel French. Mention CSR for a 10% discount!) The following sixteen images depict women in the throes of unflattering peril, from an onset of anxiety to a more permanent state of cessation of breath. It is up to you (and you damn well know who you are…. we know…. and we’re sending a securely confidential letter to that effect to Diane Feinstein straight away!) to identify all sixteen images, all the while remaining cognizant of the fact that all of women’s sufferings in life are caused by men… not just men…. white men!…. old white men!!…. alright, my Uncle Mort. But until society is “reshaped for the better” (uh oh, someone’s getting spanked and it ain’t O) by the rise of, and domination by women (Anyone else in the mood for a ripsnortin’ flash global catfight? But I digress.), the first to correctly identify all sixteen featured films will receive the coveted bipartisan fertility idol, the CSR Culture Shock Award. Good luck.





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Burning Bridges: “The Cassandra Crossing” (1977)

cassandra1       “The Cassandra Crossing”  (1977)

Spoiler notice:  The following review contains revealing details of the film’s narrative.

     Defining what was labelled as a “disaster movie” in the 1970’s is an imprecise science as those films to which the moniker is attributable are somewhat disparate in their identifiable genre markers, and even, curiously enough, in their intended function as popular entertainment.

    The genre is generally considered to have kicked off in popularity with the unexpectedcassandraOS financial success of the 1970 film “Airport”; itself a somewhat bastard offspring of the seminal 1954 “peril in the sky” drama “The High and the Mighty”, which anticipated many of what would become standard operating procedure genre tropes, including the “all-star” cast comprised of A-list stars (or a number of fading A-listers whose volume would supposedly compensate for their slip in appeal), with a smattering of veteran stars (those to whom still enjoy name recognition though little to no headliner box-office clout), veteran characters actors and a few relatively fresh faces, most of whom seemed doomed to a scarily quick march to relative obscurity.

    However, it is in nature of the disaster film’s “disaster” where some truly interesting distinctions emerge, suggesting an evolution from the destructive power of natural disaster in the 1930s (“The Last Days of Pompeii”, “San Francisco”, “In Old Chicago”, “Hurricane”, “The Rains Came”) with their cathartic crescendos acting as convenient retributive housecleaning in which all of the loose moral threads complicating Production Code era dramaturgy are quickly solved by the expedient elimination of rather problematically corrupted characters; to the 1950s (“The High and the Mighty”, rainscame1“Titanic”, “A Night to Remember”) where mayhem erupts less from uncontrolled natural causes than by human frailty, specifically poor judgment fueled by hubris (The decade also played host to a rich abundance of cataclysms unleased in both SF dramas and epics with a distinctly biblical bent which are excused from the current discussion as their “disaster” elements are fueled by elemental genre tropes.); to the more cynical 1970s where “Airport” proffered a “disaster” film as an anticipatory event in which the destructive factor may or may not be introduced by the whims of an aberrant criminal intention. The age of film terrorism (but couched in the soggy dress of soap opera melodrama) had arrived in full widescreen glory.  Though subsequent efforts in the brief 70’s  disaster film explosion were to drink from the entirety of influences, from natural to man-made imperilments, in “Thejuggernaut.jpg Poseidon Adventure”, Earthquake”, “Avalanche” and”The Towering Inferno” (not to mention the entirety of the three “sequels” to “Airport” itself), the one film which intelligently capitalized on this newly honed element of criminal intention with great style and an additional caustic foundation in pointed editorial expression, was Richard Lester’s crackerjack 1974 thriller “Juggernaut”, a film distinguished by the introduction of biting allegorical references to the political and economic instability suffered in England during the closing days of the leadership of Prime Minister Edward Heath; in other words, a surface thriller conceit fortified by a none too subtle kick in the pants to the then-current British government, giving the film the added attraction of timeliness; of actually being about something other than the sadistic construct of a questionable madman. For once, the so-called disaster film (and it’s questionable as to whether this film qualifies in its unfortunate general inclusion as primarily a disaster film) had reached a maturity that its hoary formulaic underpinnings would have virtually assured was impossible. It also featured smashing mid-career performances by Richard Harris and David Hemmings.

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

Posted in Burt Lancaster, disaster films, History, movie reviews, Movies, Romance, Sophia Loren, writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Return of the Classic Film Clip Quiz


The Return of the Classic Film Clip Quiz

    Let us reintroduce this minor little visual quiz where we ask the musical question: Name the film clips shown. (Well, it’s not really a question, but it’s our discretion to confuse and befuddle as much as possible.) Be warned, there are over two hundred films shown (give or take a hundred) so this may be time consuming. As usual, anyone who solves the puzzle with 100% accuracy will receive the CSR Culture Shock Award. Good luck.

Posted in biography, books, comedy, dance, erotica, History, horror, Movies, Musicals, Mystery, Romance, silent films, westerns | 8 Comments

City of Fallen Angels: “To Live and Die in L.A.” (1985)


        “To Live and Die in L.A.”          (1985)

    Former Secret Service agent Gerald Petievich’s novel “To Live and Die in L.A.” might have seemed a natural for cinematic adaptation, given that the book is written in such a lean, spare style that it practically screams “film treatment”; the composition of the booktoliveanddieinlaOS marked by alternating a detailed, though stylishly unimaginative descriptions of settings (the selection of shooting locations and compilation of elements for the director’s mise-en-scene practically jump off the page) with dialogue imbued with that faux hard-boiled tone popular with scenarists who mistake cynical plot synopsis for revealing conversation (a comparison with the novels of George V. Higgins illustrates the difference between dialogue as character and talk as mere plot momentum).

    The novel also features rival parallel investigations by Los Angeles based Secret Service agents to nab the notorious counterfeiter Rick Masters, structurally assuring the illusion of increased intensity of suspense, but actually diluting the competing ends of the procedural aspects of the story, especially when the character lines are diverted in unnecessary directions such as Agent Hart’s encounters with a new neighbor whose apartment has been robbed. The insertion of this awkwardly conceived minor subplot- which goes no where and has no relevance to either the plot nor reveals untold nuances of character -may hint at a romantic relationship, but it is entirely extraneous to the narrative and imprudently halts the momentum of the book.

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

Posted in books, crime, Los Angeles, Movies, Reviews, William Friedkin, writing | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Labor Pains: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Sept. 2018 Edition, Vol. 925/Remedial Reprint


labor0Labor Pains:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Sept. 2018 Edition, Vol. 925/Remedial Reprint

    The American cinema celebrates many things-  vacuous comic book heroics, scatological crudity, infantilism, serial sadism, non-NRA gun violence  -but the labors of the American working man and woman are certainly not among them, as according to the lofty view from Hollywood Olympus, the American work ethic is indistinguishable from their keep-at-an-arm’s-length attitude toward the “common” man to whom they haughtily regard as a bilious mass of Red State rubes, hillbillies, Ozarkian inbreeders and Dust Bowl Oakies for whom thelaborgifdesignation blue collar is dismissively regarded as a  dehumanizing label of revulsion; a metaphorical flea collar to a snarling junkyard mongrel. In other words, Hollywood is not unlike the ungrateful progeny who despise their parents while having no problem living off of their money. However, here at CSR we persevere in spite of such ignorant elitism and in consideration of this year’s celebration of Labor Day, we present this month’s edition of America’s longest running migraine headache, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you by the makers of SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition we celebrate the humble yet underappreciated working stiffs (generally identifiable as those still working on Labor Day, go figure) who are the unsung backbone of the world’s economic engine and the success of noontime food trucks from coast to coast. Each of the following twenty five images features the representation of the American labor force (with a few sympathetic global compatriots thrown in for good measure, though without Russian collusion, so buzz off Mueller) as seen in the movies. Your challenge is to correctly identify all twenty five film titles, and tell us. (Otherwise, you’re just talking to yourself, and that’s just wrong.) The first to do so will receive a recently minted CSR Culture Shock Award, acclaimed by the National Bored of Excessive Immodest Memorialization (hitherto known as The McCains) as this year’s “second most unnecessary waste of tax dollars”. Good luck.



Posted in books, Boston, comedy, History, Movies, Musicals, New York City, politics, Reviews, silent movies, theater, women, writing | 7 Comments

Labor Pains: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Sept. 2018 Edition, Vol. 925

labor0Labor Pains:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Sept. 2018 Edition, Vol. 925

    The American cinema celebrates many things-  vacuous comic book heroics, scatological crudity, infantilism, serial sadism, non-NRA gun violence  -but the labors of the American working man and woman are certainly not among them, as according to the lofty view from Hollywood Olympus, the American work ethic is indistinguishable from their keep-at-an-arm’s-length attitude toward the “common” man to whom they haughtily regard as a bilious mass of Red State rubes, hillbillies, Ozarkian inbreeders and Dust Bowl Oakies for whom thelaborgif designation blue collar is dismissively regarded as a  dehumanizing label of revulsion; a metaphorical flea collar to a snarling junkyard mongrel. In other words, Hollywood is not unlike the ungrateful progeny who despise their parents while having no problem living off of their money. However, here at CSR we persevere in spite of such ignorant elitism and in consideration of this year’s celebration of Labor Day, we present this month’s edition of America’s longest running migraine headache, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you by the makers of SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition we celebrate the humble yet underappreciated working stiffs (generally identifiable as those still working on Labor Day, go figure) who are the unsung backbone of the world’s economic engine and the success of noontime food trucks from coast to coast. Each of the following twenty five images features the representation of the American labor force (with a few sympathetic global compatriots thrown in for good measure, though without Russian collusion, so buzz off Mueller) as seen in the movies. Your challenge is to correctly identify all twenty five film titles, and tell us. (Otherwise, you’re just talking to yourself, and that’s just wrong.) The first to do so will receive a recently minted CSR Culture Shock Award, acclaimed by the National Bored of Excessive Immodest Memorialization (hitherto known as The McCains) as this year’s “second most unnecessary waste of tax dollars”. Good luck.

To accept the challenge and view this month’s photo quiz, click the following link to:



Posted in books, Boston, comedy, History, Movies, Musicals, photography, politics, Puzzles, Romance, theater, women, writing | 13 Comments

Up the Greek Without a Paddle: “Boy on a Dolphin” (1957)

boyonadolphin34      Up the Greek Without a Paddle:  “Boy on a Dolphin”  (1957)

     Adventure films, which were especially plentiful in the colorful world of 1950’s cinema, generally included the most basic ingredients deemed necessary to draw theboyonadolphinOS audiences away from the newly emerging popularity of the living room idiot box: a smattering of box-office stars, a widescreen presentation to dwarf the siren’s lure of a twenty inch television screen, and colorfully exotic locals which were economically prohibitive in small screen productions. Jean Negulesco’s “Boy on the Dolphin” trades heavily upon all three integrants, yet in fudging on the most fundamental of creative elements-  a sound and interesting scenario  -the movie emerges as a surprisingly hollow (not to mention, frustratingly labored ) exercise.

    Phaedra  (Sophia Loren), a Greek sponge diver, unwittingly discovers an ancient shipwreck carrying the eponymously described statuary, estimated to be virtually priceless, or valuable enough to pique the interest of both American archaeologist Dr. James Calder (Alan Ladd) and sneaky millionaire Victor Parmalee (Clifton Webb), who enjoy a familiar rivalry of interests between the legitimate legacy of ancient antiquities and the illegitimate acquisition of ill-gotten historic artworks and artifacts for his own personal amusement. Beyond her initial discovery and once the plot gets underway, Phaedra becomes such a peripheral influence on the narrative, that except for being cast with the comely and provocatively figured Ms. Loren–  in her English language film debut  -andboyonadolphin33 thus to act as the seemingly required Hollywood love interest, there seems little reason for her continued participation. All of the important narrative developments in the last three quarters of the film, would have occurred with her complete removal from the drama, as the only dramatic tension attempted by the film is in the competitive by-play between Calder and Parmalee; which transpires as a weakly conceived game of cat and mouse in which the antagonists meet only on brief occasions and then only to exchange bits of terse but purposeless patter, of which the script attributed to Ivan Moffat and Dwight Taylor is abundant. 

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


Posted in Alan Ladd, books, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, Romance, Sophia Loren, women, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Feather Dusting: “Le Journal d’une femme de chambre” (1964)

diarychamber3         “Le Journal d’une femme de chambre”  (1964)

    Considering the rich mining afforded by Octave Mirbeau’s 1900 novel “Le Journal d’une femme de chamber”, a work encompassing pointedly satiric critical observations on class, sexuality and religion, a cinematic realization by surrealist and moral provocateur Luis Buñuel would seem a match made in atheist’s heaven. Interestingly, rather than using the material’s scathingdiarychamberOS repudiation of differences in the behavioral psychology between the classes-  as all are evaluated as equally corrupt, hypocritical and venal regardless of social ranking  –Buñuel has made the curious determination to strip the novel of its thematic essence and reduce the material to that of a weakly ironic and supremely unsatisfying melodrama.

    Célestine is an attractive and inexplicably stylish woman who arrives by train from Paris to assume the role of chambermaid for The Priory, a country villa occupied by M. Rabour (Jean Ozenne) a shoe fetishist, his frigid daughter Mme. Monteil (Françoise Lugagne), whose a penchant toward the miserly substitutes for her lack of emotional intimacy, and her husband M. Monteil (Michel Piccoli), who compensates for a barren marital bed by impregnating a succession of the female domestics. Also present in the household are a number of other servants, including the brutish fascistic Joseph (Georges Géret) and the simple cook Marianne (Muni). Célestine, after some initial pettydiaryofachambermaid44 annoyances from her mistress, finds that through her attractiveness, subtle guile and sophistication, she is able to sufficiently influence those about her (with the exception of Joseph), to exert a comfortable measure of control over her circumstances. However, with the sudden brutal rape and murder of Claire (Dominique Sauvage), a young local girl to whom Célestine had developed a protective maternal attachment, her skill to emotionally manipulate is put to the test, when Joseph declares his love for her at the same time Célestine grows certain that he is the sought-after killer. 

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


Posted in art house cinema, books, French cinema, Jeanne Moreau, Luis Bunuel, movie remakes, Movies, women, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Father’s Daze: “Casanova Brown” (1944)

casanovabrown1       “Casanova Brown”  (1944)

    “Casanova Brown” is an example of the importance of the use of what might be best described as the pixilated lilt in filming humorous materials. A romantic comedy in which a chronic convenience of miscommunication is once again the scapegoat for thecasanovabrown OS confusion which inevitably leads to what are intended as uproarious results, the film is, in reality, a flimsy house of cards which, due to the disharmony of an anemic comedic tone born of the collision of inconsistent and sloppy plotting by Nunnally Johnson and the leaden, spiritless direction by Sam Wood, inevitably implodes on itself.

      The third film version of the 1928 play Little Accident by Floyd Dell and Thomas Mitchell, it features Gary Cooper as Casanova (“Cass”) Q. Brown, a mild-mannered college professor who upon the eve of his wedding also finds himself on the threshold of fatherhood with a different woman. In deference to the scrupulously sin sniffing antennae of the Production Code, the script goes through great convoluted lengths to explain how such a venerable public icon such as Cooper could possibly be involved in the production of an illegitimate tot.

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



Posted in 1940's movies, books, comedy, movie remakes, Movies, parenting, Reviews, Romance, theater, women, writing | Tagged , | 3 Comments

“Fear and Desire” (1953)

fear and desire         “Fear and Desire”  (1953)

    Stanley Kubrick’s feature debut (after three short subjects) as photographer, editor, producer and director, “Fear and Desire”, is an extremely low budget war drama with art house pretensions. It is a failure as a movie, but in the context of a collective lauded career, it is an interesting early hint of a young filmmaker’s desire for elitist stature as an auteur serving up pseudo- profundity in the form of unforgiving criticism on the human condition. The film follows a quartet of soldiers (introduced in one of those pretentious and unnecessary voiceovers favored by the young Kubrick) who represent not real soldiers, but a kind of universal abstraction favorable to overly zealous emerging pseudointellectual “artists” who may manipulate their characters not as true representatives of human drama, but as cogs in a grand machination furthering the director’s greater thematic designs. Even at this formative stage of the game, Kubrick’s interests clearly lie more with ostentatious abstraction than people.

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


Posted in art house cinema, Boston, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, Stanley Kurbick, war movies, women, writing | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Internal Obsession: “Love” (2015)

 love12             Internal Obsession:  “Love”  (2015)

    “Love” is Gaspar Noé’s least controversial and most emotionally accessible film to date; an astonishing statement when one considers that the film is liberally packed withloveposter scenes that even under the most charitable of circumstances might be priggishly deemed as explicitly pornographic.

    That “Love” manages to skirt the discomforting sensation generated by films which embarrass both its makers and audience when naked exhibitions of heavy breathing are gratuitously intended only for exploitative purposes, is an impressive and welcome accomplishment in the cinema’s long struggle to effectively use unsimulated sexuality as a legitimate and contributory substantive element. If the film’s level of sexuality commands initial attention, it would be an injustice for a worthy evaluation of the film not to move beyond such shallow contextual controversies. Though the title suggests a traditional romantic diversion, being that this is a Gaspar Noé film, the odds are pretty favorable that the characters will, at some point, slip from the giddy orbit of amatory ecstasy and make a hellish descent into a crushing psychological anguish. Such is the mystery, the joy and the agony that is “Love”.’

    The film recounts a single day in the life of young married father and film student Murphy (Karl Glusman)-  the film either suggests that much is autobiographical in nature, or simply indulges in a jokester’s amount of self-homage  – who receives a phone message from the mother of his ex-lover Electra (Aomi Muyock) who has been missinglove3 for three months. Rather than exercising an initiative to find his lost flame, Murphy surrenders to an extended session of brooding  retrospection, which begins rather self-indulgently but eventually transmutes into a stunning wave of self-realization when he grasps that the consequences of his recounted collective mistakes in judgment have created within him a soul-stirring void of devastating permanence. By the end of the film it is clear that “Love” is less about the spiritual transcendence of ‘true love’, than the intense psychic pain which bears down upon and cripples Murphy; consumed with the scarring loss of the idealized recipient of his immutable ardor, he is rendered inconsolable.  

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


Posted in art house cinema, French cinema, movie reviews, Movies, pornography, Romance, sex, women, writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Tryst and Shout: “The Canyons” (2013)

      Tryst and Shout:  “The Canyons”   (2013)

     Paul Schrader may not sympathize with his characters, but he certainly enjoys their discomfort. Were he to attempt a screwball comedy, it would no doubt result in an invocation of the mordant spiritual crisis of imitation Bresson laced with the nihilismthecanyonsOS (but not the energy) of a Robert Aldrich film. In “The Canyons”, he presents yet another of his coldly clinical dissections of personal power, sex and isolation, with the only distinctiveness in this opus being with the players and not what is being played. (If the sole point of interest is a case of novelty casting, the film is in serious jeopardy.) That his chosen collaborator in this effort is the peculiarly unsatisfying novelist Bret Easton Ellis suggests a lunatic aggressiveness on Schrader’s part. to challenge himself with a creative partner who is fated to magnify all of his own worst instincts. 

    At this late stage of the game, Schrader continues to produce films which advocate an excited film school critic mentality dulled by a peculiar arrogance suggesting that the movies are an art form ultimately beneath him. “The Cinema”, however, would be a classist point of differentiation, an intellectual line of distinction that to adequately interpret would require a voluntary slogging through the mire of another of his exhausting and interminable canonical treatises.

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



Posted in movie reviews, Movies, Paul Schrader, Reviews, sex, women, writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Without a Clue: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Aug. 2018 Edition, Vol. 52

awithouta00Without a Clue: 
Classic Film Images Photo Quiz,  Aug. 2018 Edition, Vol. 52

    With the summer winding down, it seemed appropriate to publish a photo quiz that was (in our estimation, since we know the answers), a breeze, a snap, a veritable walk in the park. In fact, so elementary do we find this particular effort that we aren’t even going to tell you the theme of the quiz. You’re on your own Butch. And with that bit of altruismawithoutagif in mind we proudly present this month’s edition of America’s most plush and luxurious brain teaser, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you by the makers of SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. Since we are inhibited by out stated indifference to assist there is little more to say (and certainly less than an average amount of time taken being our usual snarky selves) except that you should just take a peek at the following twelve images and identify them to win your very own CSR Culture Shock Award, so that you too might have cause to act imperious with general disdain toward humanity. Good luck.


Posted in books, Boston, History, movie reviews, Movies, photography, Reviews, silent films, theater, women, writing | 2 Comments

Slab Happy: “El cadáver de Anna Fritz” (2015)

 elcadaver72      Slab Happy: “El cadáver de Anna Fritz”  (2015)

     One need only glance at the sorry offerings on the local multiplex marquee to see that the commercial cinema is in a state of crisis. It is not the lack of proficiency of techniqueelcadaverOS or craftsmanship which is at issue-  there seems to be a oversaturated preponderance of  of filmmakers acquainted with the most rudimentary skills necessary in cobbling together a presentable mixture of editorial structure and mise-en-scene  -but to what end are these elemental skill sets employed if there is no vision behind them?  

    Hèctor Hernández Vicens’ Spanish thriller “El cadáver de Anna Fritz” might be more accurately described as a horror film, if that designation, at this point in the sorry history of commercial cinema, may extend beyond serialized depictions of spook house jump cut scares and supernaturally enhanced mass killers, and more properly aligns itself with the conscious abandonment of all civilized moral codes of conduct and a willing descent into base savagery; true modern Kurtzian “horror”. However, a film that unashamedly trades in necrophilic rape as an alternative to a casual evening’s nightclub trolling is unlikely to emerge as a source of a reliably comforting social message. 

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





Posted in crime, horror, Movies, Reviews, sex, Spanish films, women, writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Shadows and Fog: “The City of the Dead” (1960)

cityofthedead6        Shadows and Fog:  “The City of the Dead”  (1960)

A caveat: the following article may reveal destinations of plotting that may despoil a virginal viewing of the film. Reader discretion is advised.

          “The basis of fairy tales is in reality. The basis of reality is fairy tales.”

    Uncertainty is as important to the horror film as faith is to the religious epic; as it marks the tenuous line where reason is engaged in an unceasing battle with the subconscious in fortifying the more cogent side of the mind against the sharpened claws of our most primal fears. Those fears, which we are told, are best kept at bay in thecityofthedeadOS coldly clinical light of reality. Horror films endowed with a superior intelligence (those which seek  a greater purpose than boogeyman scare tactics) employ this psychological schism in the advancement of constructing a scenario in which sources of dread credibly coexist with the rational world.

    A lean, intelligent little occult thriller with atmosphere to spare, John Llewelyn Moxey’s “The City of the Dead” (stupidly and dismissively renamed “Horror Hotel” in the States to virtually repel it’s most likely appreciative audience from attendance) makes use of the fertile territory of phantasmagoria that laid forth the power of dread by suggestion in the classic Val Lewton productions of the 1940’s and admirably carried forth by Jacques Tourneur (himself an alumnus of the Lewton creative team) in his remarkable film translation of M.R. James’ short story Casting the Runes, “Night of the Demon” (aka “Curse of the Demon”). Similar to Tourneur’s film, “The City of the Dead” pits the rational against the supernatural with the involvement of the most conspicuous of adversarial antagonists: the man of reason (represented by science) versus the practitioners of faithcityofthedead (represented by Satanists). 

    When Nan Barlow (Venetia Stevenson) wishes to pursue research for a midterm paper on witchcraft, her history professor, Alan Driscoll (Christopher Lee), advises her to visit the remote New England town of Whitewood, Massachusetts, where centuries before a practitioner of witchcraft, Elizabeth Selwyn was burned at the stake. Despite the protests of her boyfriend Bill (Tom Naylor) and brother, science professor Richard Barlow (Dennis Lotis), both of whom are dismissive of her interest in what they regard as a nonsense field of study, Nan travels for brief visit to the village, never to heard from again. The remainder of the film recounts  Richard’s investigation into his sister’s disappearance.

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


Posted in British films, horror, movie reviews, Movies, religion, Reviews, women, writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Scorched: “Suntan” (2016)

suntan_still-1024x577         Scorched:  “Suntan”  (2016) 

A caveat: the following review may hint at details distressing to viewers who wish to experience a completely fresh viewing of the film.

    Argyris Papadimitropoulos’ “Suntan” follows the disastrous trajectory of Kostis (Makis Papadimitriou), a lonely middle age doctor on the summer resort of AntiparossuntanOS Island, whose suppressed emotional instincts are violently disrupted by the sudden appearance of Anna (Elli Tringou), a young pleasure seeking vacationer and her hedonistic coterie, who adopt the doctor as a kind of mascot and foil for the group’s male revelers’ irreverent but demeaning humor, the latter which is absently deflected by the doctor as he finds intense distraction when his previously blunted sex drive is reignited by what he mistakes as romantic designs by the carefree but careless Anna.

    The film begins with Kostis’ off-season arrival and Papadimitropoulos’ camera charts the lonely details establishing his residency with extended and formal framings that emphasize the static solitude of his days. The last shot of this sequence is truly extraordinary in the economy in which it relays the loneliness of the character as a type of self-incarceration, where just outside of his window blink pathetic Christmas lights, mocking his disconnection with their generic intrusion of holiday cheer. This extended pre-title sequence quietly offers up a wealth of expository details which becomes useful in measuring the deterioration of Kostis’ stability with his abrupt foray from introversion to overly enthusiastic sociability signaling an eventual dark journey from an initial innocent  romantic crush to frightening obsession.

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



Posted in art house cinema, movie reviews, Movies, Romance, sex, women, writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Battle Fatigued: “Wicked Woman” (1953)


wickedwoman3      Battle Fatigued:  “Wicked Woman”  (1953)

     Belonging to that smaller, less critically regarded, yet potent 1950’s offshoot of film noir proper, the “bad girl” film, Russell Rouse’s “Wicked Woman” offers up a portrait of awickedwomanINSERT young woman prematurely aged morally by experience, suggested but mercifully not given lurid exploration, and clearly, as they once so colorfully phrased it, “on the skids”.

    As played by Beverly Michaels, that statuesque cheesecake siren from a pair of Hugo Haas dramas, “Pickup” and “The Girl on the Bridge”, drifter Billie Nash has the outer appearance of a classic blonde film noir femme fatale-  she certainly has the body language down cold  -but what differentiates her from the standard heartless gold digger is that while in the pursuit of the standard rewards (money, men) of questionable behavior, she seems to be suffering from a chronic bout of asthenia; her actions and very movements weighed by an enervation that is not standard equipment in the seductress arsenal, but rather a result of extended struggle which has exhausted her psychologically, though based upon the awkwardness of her line readings, perhaps the actress was simply in need of a refreshing nap. 

    When Billie gets a job as hostess in a bar owned by married couple Dora (Evelyn Scott) and Matt Bannister (Richard Egan), it only takes a few furtive glances before she is wrapped in the beefcake arms of Egan’s bartender. Before the first heated kisses cool, the pair are conspiring to run away, their plans only complicated by the problem of the increasingly alcoholic Dora.

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




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

Mop Tops: “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week- The Touring Years” (2016)

eightdays11.jpg     “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week- The  Touring Years”  (2016)

     Just when you think that the documentary coverage of The Beatles had reached the saturation point, along comes Ron Howard’s “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week- The Touring Years” which fails to add anything new worthy factual revelations to the already voluminous coverage of The Fab Four, but what it achieves, and it does so excitingly well, at least in the first half of the film, is to recreate the frenzied sensation that was that was known as Beatlemania-   surprisingly sweet in eightdaysaweekOSnature, and this is he only film to openly rely on this phenomenon as its driving engine since 1978’s delightful “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”   -generated by a particular quartet from Liverpool. However, in doing so, Howard disappointingly squanders opportunities he himself creates by effectively accounting for only one half of his subject’s potential.

    That the scale of this innocent enthusiasm is repeatedly referenced as historic, and that the unchecked energies of the extraordinary numbers of fanatical fans compressed into unnaturally confined areas led to incidents of unintended destruction and injury was a sign that something new and impactful on a grand scale was afoot; it was if all of those hysterical premonitions from 1950’s morality soapboxes concerning the lure of the “devil music” (despite the fact that much of that consternation was prejudicially based upon rock and roll being an evolutionary offspring of black centric rhythm and blues) had come to fruition of an epic scale. However, what minimizes the film is its complacency in giving a first-hand accounting of this very frenzy surrounding The Beatles’ concert tours from the perspectiveeightdaysaweek6 of those most closely associated with those  spontaneous eruptions of individual emotional delirium, which when multiplied by millions, created a game changing cultural phenomenon: the fans themselves. There are a number of newly filmed recollections from celebrity admirers such as Eddie Izzard, Sigourney Weaver and Whoopi Goldberg (who provides the most heartfelt moments in the film), but in limiting the bulk of the reminiscences to well known personalities, Howard fails to follow through on the greater story he is tackling: the everyday teens who comprised the vast bulk of The Beatles’ fandom. Surely it would have been possible with a minimum of detective work to track down some of the excited youths who appear in the concert footage, and absent this first-hand reminiscence, Howard misses the opportunity to plumb extra dimensions from the perpetually overlooked partner in the Beatlemania phenomenon.


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Stayin Cool: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Special 4th of July 2018 Edition, Vol. 1776

underwater11Cool and Refreshing:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Special 4th of July 2018 Edition, Vol. 1776

With the current East Coast heatwave setting record temperatures exceeding those of the last time we had a warm day (it’s not really global warming, it’s called Summer… get a calendar), it seems a opportune time for a bit of relief for those in the Great Undeveloped Northeast who have yet to understand the concept of installing air conditioning in buildings (“But Summer is only a few months of the year”, say they. The logical response being, “So is Winter, so why have heat?”), but instead retreat to beach areas where the sand is only likely to magnify the temperature tenfold. (MIT grads, all.): So,underwater GIF for those sweltering in the holiday heat (awaiting the inevitable pseudo-arson fires that are bound to checker the local neighborhoods throughout the night due to injudicious usage of homemade bottle rockets in the living room, in celebration of yet another American holiday that has been vulgarized to resemble little more than car sales and yet another occasion to perform a perplexing Russian musical composition as the unofficial overture for what is undoubtedly our most significant American holiday), we present a brief, cool and refreshing respite from the sun with a very special edition of the Founding Father’s favorite pastime (though such a addictive distraction, they deliberately excluded  all mention of it in the Declaration of Independence), the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you today by the makers of SKITTLES, America’s most patriotic breakfast candy. In this edition we celebrate the cooling effect of complete immersion in liquid in the cinema. Your task is to view the following sixteen images and to identify the movies from which they have been sourced. The first to successfully do so will receive that obvious replacement for the Order of Lenin, the CSR Culture Shock Award. Good luck.



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