Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

Spoiler alert. This review is going to reveal the ultimate twist to the plot, so stop reading now if you plan to watch the movie. Of course this one has been around since 1997, so if you haven’t seen it by now, then it’s your own fault. It’s The Game, featuring Michael Douglas and Sean Penn and now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, the source of the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

It’s a tale of convoluted deception. We see the early life of Nicholas van Orton (Douglas). He has grown up among wealth and privilege, but his father killed himself early in life by taking a dive from the top of the family mansion. Nick has grown to become a person of great wealth of his own making, and he is as hard as granite. Divorced, he lives alone in the mansion. He runs his investment banking business with machine precision and without warmth.

Come his birthday, and Nicholas receives a message that his brother Conrad (Penn) wants a lunch meeting. It is short and cold, Conrad leaves him the gift of a game hosted by a concern named Consumer Recreation Services (CRS). He advises Nick to take advantage. It will be a life-changing exercise.

Nick has the intention of blowing it off, but he spies the offices of CRS and becomes intrigued.

Stopping in, he finds a concern in flux. The offices are being fleshed out, but he presents his gift card, and is interviewed by CRS representative Jim Feingold (James Rebhorn). Nick has accustomed himself to being treated with considerable sufferance, but Fiengold is detached and somewhat dismissive. He fakes Nick into undergoing a lengthy and tedious interview process. Nick is then shown the door and told he will be contacted. He subsequently receives a call on his private number telling him he has not been selected to participate in the game.

But that was only a ruse. Coming home that night, Nick discovers a clown mannequin in the driveway, at the spot where his father’s body came to rest decades before. He takes the dummy inside and eats his dinner. The newscaster on TV is Daniel Schorr (played by himself), who on occasion interrupts his business reporting to speak straight to Nick. Nick discovers the dummy contains a camera that is transmitting video from the room. The game is on.

At a business conference where Nick is in the process of dismissing a key employee for lackluster performance, he attempts to pull the requisite documents from his briefcase. However, he cannot open the briefcase, and he storms out of the meeting. Things have begun to go sour in Nicks life of domination over events and other people.

At a restaurant a waitress, Christine (Deborah Kara Unger) spills a drink on him and initiates a nasty confrontation. She is fired from her job, but Nick follows her out, and they encounter a man collapsing on the street, and they come to his aid. The police arrive and require that Nick and Christine ride in the ambulance with the victim, but when they get to the emergency entry garage, the victim is taken away, leaving the two alone in the garage. Then the lights go out, and the real adventure starts.

There are flights from the police, shootings, discovery, and a penultimate confrontation between Nick and Christine. He discovers she is working for CRS. Then he blacks out from the drink she has given him, and he wakes up in a cemetery in Mexico, no money, no passport. He is forced to use his survival skills to get back home.

It all comes to a head, as Nick figures it’s a scheme to gain access to his accounts and steal all his money. He returns to CRS and confronts the people there, and now he has a gun he obtained when a mugger attempted to hold him up. When CRS men pull weapons, Nick takes Christine hostage on the roof of the building.

Now it’s Christine’s turn to be alarmed. It has all been part of the game, but Nick was supposed to have a fake semiautomatic pistol. She sees he has obtained a real gun (from the mugger), and she tries to warn the CRS people, who are in the process of breaking through the door to the roof. Nick takes aim and shoots the first person to come through the door. It’s Conrad. The game has gone horribly wrong.

Nick realizes what he has done, and he ends it by stepping off the roof of the building.

But many floors down he crashes through the fake glass roof of the restaurant and onto an air cushion. It has all been part of the game. Conrad is not dead, and he holds up a tee shirt with the logo, “I was drugged and left for dead in Mexico, and all I got was this stupid shirt.” Everybody wishes Nick a happy birthday.

Everybody is happy, and as they start to leave Nick follows Christina out to her car. She is going to the airport. She invites Nick to have coffee with her at the airport.

Complaint number one: most of the scenes were shot so dark that it was difficult to pick up on a lot of the action. I had to use Corel PaintShop to brighten up many of the scenes before posting them.

Much of this is highly improbable. A lot of stuff had to go right, or somebody was going to get killed. Worth a watch, however, provided you are not already reading this.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 254 of a series

This came out in 1962 when I was deadly serious about college and probably missed it. I must have seen it first on TV, and I have some history with it. I worked with a guy named Mike, and I was doing an impersonation of some sort, and he called me the terrible triffid. Now others use the appellation. This is The Day of the Triffids, a classic and a really bad one. It’s one of that bag of down-market features currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

This is London. A brilliant meteor display lights up the sky, and inside a botanical section of the Christal Palace, triffids attack and kill the security guard. The meteor display has triggered them to go rogue. They can kill and devour animals, and they are not rooted to the ground. They roam and multiply.

Merchant naval officer Bill Masen (Howard Keel) misses out on meteor display, because he is laid up with eye surgery and has his eyes bandaged. The doctor promises that tomorrow at 0800 the bandages will come off and Masen will be able to see again. He hopes to see pretty Nurse Jamieson (Colette Wilde), but he never does.

Comes morning, and Masen is sleeping in bed when hears Big Ben strike nine. It’s 0900, and the doctor has not come to remove the bandages. Calling out, Masen receives no response, so he removes the bandages and goes looking. He finds the doctor, blind. Everybody who looked at the meteor display has gone blind. The doctor commits suicide by jumping out the window.

Meanwhile, drunkard scientist Tom Goodwin (Kieron Moore) and his wife Karen (Janette Scott) work on research at a lighthouse on a spit of rock off the coast of Cornwall. They, too, missed the display, and they have not been blinded. Tom waits for the resupply boat that will bring him another bottle of scotch. It never arrives. Neither does radio contact work very well. They are puzzled, but they soon learn the fate of the rest of the world.

Masen goes hunting through the streets of London. The few people he comes across are blind.

At the train station a train thunders in, apparently operated by a blind engineer, because it crashes into the platform. A survivor is school girl Susan (Janina Faye), who can see. They team up and go to Masen’s ship.

Masen uses the ship’s radio to gain information of the catastrophe. He and Susan listen in as an airliner, everybody aboard blind, crashes. Coincidentally the crash is near where the ship is docked.

Masen and Susan make it to France, where they meet other survivors at a château. One is Christine Durant (Nicole Maurey).

Escaped criminals invade the château. They, being in prison, avoided the light show and are not blind. They take over and turn the château into a debauchery. Triffids invade and kill everybody except Masen, Susan, and Christine.

The three make it to Cadiz in Spain, where Susan discovers an ice cream truck that plays music over speakers. They take the truck to an estate in the country near Alicante, where a submarine is available to take on survivors.

There they are menaced by triffids. They discover that sound attracts the triffids, and they use the music from the truck to distract the triffids.

When triffids attack, they encounter an electrified fence that Masen has constructed.

But the fence will not hold them, so Masen employs the hose from a fuel truck and sprays fire onto the triffids. Then, while Susan and Christine get away in a car, Masen decoys the triffids with the sound truck.

Susan and Christine make it to the submarine and are taken aboard. As they watch, Masen reaches the bluff above the water, and he dives in to be picked up by crew members from the submarine.

Meanwhile, at the light house, the triffids multiply and break in. As a last resort, Tom sprays them with a fire hose. But the fire hose uses sea water, and the sea water melts the triffids. They have discovered how to defeat the triffids, and humanity is saved.

I don’t think I have to explain why this movie is bad. For one, it is massively disjoint. The Odyssey of Masen and Susan comprises the bulk of the plot. It’s a chain of unrelated episodes without cohesion.

The bit about the convicts at the château breaks up the flow of the action, seeming to have been inserted as a distraction, perhaps to burn off some celluloid.

From France they go to Cadiz. That is way south on the Atlantic coast. From there they drive in a few hours to Alicante, which is on the Mediterranean coast, hundreds of miles away. Really?

The movie is based on the novel of the same name by John Wyndham. The Kindle edition is available on Amazon for $6 ($5.99 plus tax), and I obtained a copy for comparison. There is none. About the only similarity between the two is Masen and the matter of the triffids. There is a Susan character, as well, but no Christine. No lighthouse, either.

So we have to wonder what inspired screen writers Bernard Gordon and Philip Yordan to stretch Wyndham’s apocalyptic yarn into such a pot boiler. The book appears to have promise. There is a strong parallel to The Death of Grass (No Blade of Grass) by Samuel Youd (John Christopher), that came out five years after this book. Recommended reading. There is also a movie, but it’s not currently streaming on Prime, so I will watch for it and catch it when it does.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

Everything comes to those who wait. I have been looking for Cujo to stream, and it’s on Hulu starting this month, where I obtained these screen shots. It’s based on the Stephen King novel, but I am not prepared to review the book. Rest assured, however, that there will be differences between the book and the movie.

The intro sequence shows a cute bunny rabbit, could be Marlon Bundo. Anyhow, the cute bunny rabbit is stalked by a giant St. Bernard dog named Cujo, hence the title.

Cujo chases the rabbit down a hole, and when he sticks his nose into the hole a rabid bat bites him on the nose, setting the plot for the movie.

Next we see the Trenton family, Donna (Dee Wallace), young Tad (Danny Pintauro), and husband Vic (Daniel Hugh-Kelly). Vic is a high-pressure advertising genius.

But Vic has trouble with his Jaguar sports car, and he is advised to take it to mechanic Joe Camber (Ed Lauter), who lives out in the country. Out in the sticks, really, but I’m being polite and saying “country.” Two different worlds meet here. Donna meets Joe’s repressed wife Charity (Kaiulani Lee).

She also meets Cujo, the family dog.

The scene shifts back to the suburbs, where Donna is having a fling with family friend Steve Kemp (Christopher Stone). She tries to break off the liaison, but Steve resists. He comes to the house and tries to force himself on Donna. Vic comes in. Things get tense.

Back at the Camber estate, the effects of the rabies virus become manifest. Joe’s neighbor Gary Pervier (Mills Watson) is the first to take note. He is outside pilling some trash onto the pile that is already there when Cujo approaches menacingly. Cujo attacks and kills Gary.

This is an interesting point of the plot. Joe and Gary are depicted as country bumpkins with all the expected bumpkin traits. They are coarse, slovenly, and disrespectful of women. Charity has won $5000 in the lottery, and she takes her son to visit her sister for a few days, clearing the deck for the remainder of the plot.

Cujo next kills Joe. Vic leaves on a business trip, leaving Donna with their broken down Pinto. It has trouble, and Vic has instructed her to take it to Joe to be fixed. When Donna arrives, with Tad in the car, Cujo attacks, and the two become trapped inside their car. The car takes this opportunity to go belly up, so Donna cannot simply drive away. This was in the days before cell phones, so the remainder of the plot involves Donna and Tad trapped inside the sweltering car while Cujo attempts to get at them. It’s the entire plot.

Two days pass. Vic tries to phone home (before cell phones) and gets no answer. Steve tries to phone Donna and gets no answer. Steve comes to the house, and finding Donna gone, trashes it and leaves. Vic comes home to find Donna and Tad gone, the house trashed. He has learned about Donna’s liaison with Steve, and he informs the police. Nobody has yet brought the Camber estate into the picture.

When they do, the sheriff (Sandy Ward) drives out to investigates. He fails to notice Donna and Tad trapped in the Pinto, and he fails to notice Cujo until too late. He becomes Cujo’s third victim.

Now Donna becomes desperate. Tad is having an asthma attack and is near death. She exits the car and does battle with Cujo, using a baseball bat that has been left lying in the yard. She breaks the bat on Cujo, and Cujo impales himself on the splintered handle.

Donna rushes Tad into the house and revives him in the kitchen with water. Cujo comes around and crashes through a window, spraying broken glass all over. For some reason Donna has brought the sheriff’s pistol with her, and the reaches for it, lying on the table. Exit Cujo. We weep.

About this time Vic drives up in his Jaguar, and the Trenton family is united again, and that is the end of the movie.

Yeah, there’s a bunch to look sideways at. The entire plot is about the mother and son trapped for two days by a large, rabid dog. The business with Steve is a side show to give the plot some human interest.

We see the sheriff, a professional lawman, drive up at the Camber place and fail to notice two people trapped inside a car that has blood smeared all over the windows.

We see Donna club Cujo with a baseball bat and gore him with the broken handle. She grabs the sheriff’s gun, but she does not shoot the dog. Do you believe that?

Yes, this is late 20th century America, and we see Tad driving around in a nifty Jaguar, while his loving (?) wife is forced to get around in a Pinto on its last legs. If I did that kind of shit with Barbara Jean I would be out the door before I could get a last word in.

The part of Cujo was played by Moe.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 253 of a series

Bonanza! I struck the mother lode. Amazon Prime Video is streaming a truck load of these, so be prepared for the worst for weeks to come. I didn’t even have to click on the link to know this one was going to be bad. With a name like Island Claws, will there be any doubt? It’s from 1980.

Wikipedia does not have an entry for this, and the one on IMDb is devoid of a plot narration, so I’m just going to wing it with the plot outline.

There’s a marine biological lab, and they are studying crabs and how to grow them faster and maybe larger. Do you suspect danger? There is a nuclear power plant nearby, and it has discharged radioactive water. Do you suspect danger?

Here we see happy workers at the lab with the news lady (long blond hair), discussing the research. She is doing a write-up. Her father runs the power plant. There turns out to be no connection.

Just to be sure what this movie is all about.

The setting is a Florida island, and the crowd is very home-spun. Night life is the local crab shack, and a feature is the guy playing the banjo. The crab shack is owned by Moody (Robert Lansing).

The guy playing the banjo is going to be the first to die.

Meanwhile some Haitian refugees land on the island in a boat, and they hide out in the forest. If you are like me you are wondering why they landed on the island, because now they have to get off the island and make it to the mainland.

The banjo player goes home drunk after an evening of playing and drinking at the crab shack. Alone in his trailer home in the woods, he hears the crabs menacing outside. He opens the door and sees a sea of crabs. He closes the door, but it is no use. They come in through the windows. Panicked, he knocks over a kerosene lantern and sets the trailer on fire. It burns with him inside, and something unseen topples it on its side.

The news lady strikes up a romance with the young researcher hunk at the biology lab, and she heads toward home on her bike, through the woods. She encounters a swarm of crabs blocking the trail and dumps her bike. She makes it back to her boyfriend at the crab shack and gets her injured arm attended. People begin to wonder about the crabs.

Two other workers at the lab are romantically involved. When the guy proposes marriage, the girl rebuffs him, and they go for a drive in his jeep. After discussing the matter, she elects to walk home alone, through the woods. This does not look good.

She is attacked by something in the woods, and her friends, hearing her screams, run to her rescue. She is taken to the hospital with serious injuries to her arm and is delirious, saying something about a claw.

Meanwhile, the Haitians are hiding out in the woods and are foraging for food on the island. A young Haitian girl wanders off from the camp. Moody’s dog follows her. She encounters something horrible in the woods, and the dog attacks it. She is injured, and the dog returns to Moody and dies.

The death of the dog angers one local yokel, and he organizes a posse to hunt down the Haitians. They charge off into the woods. Nothing ever comes from it. They return without finding the Haitians or the crabs.

You know how this is going to end. A giant crab wreaks havoc on the island, destroying Moody’s house and a bunch of other stuff. People at the lab prepare tranquilizers to neutralize the crab. Eventually the islanders and the Haitians team to confront and kill the crab.

And that’s the end of the movie. It brings to mind an old song title that somebody made up—the title, not the song. “Don’t watch for the shrimp boats, honey. I’m coming home with the crabs.”

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

Thanks to Ana for lending me the DVD. This one has become a cult classic and also, unaccountably, a Christmas icon. It’s Die Hard, from 30 years ago and starring Bruce Willis. as New York City cop John McClane in Los Angeles to visit his estranged wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia). As the 747 lands a seat mate observes that McClane has a fear of flying, and he advises how to unwind. It involves bare feet on the carpet and making fists with his toes. This is critical to the plot, as will be seen.

Holly has left John stranded in New York to follow her career to the West Coast. Her company, Nakatomi  Corp., is holding a Christmas party. It’s Christmas eve, which is how this became a Christmas movie. Here is Joseph Takagi (James Shigeta), head of the American division, addressing his staff and telling them to have a good time. He has arranged for a limousine to pick up John at the airport.

Meanwhile we meet the jerk of the ensemble, Harry Ellis (Hart Bochner) who puts the move on Holly in the most crass and inept way. It’s obvious he will not last the length of the movie.

The Limo driver is Argyle (De’voreaux White), who will play a pivotal role.

The setting has been established, now the drama begins. As twilight dims the city a box truck rolls into view, its headlights signaling the coming of doom.

Here is where the conversation with the seat mate comes to play. John joins Holly at the party while Argyle parks the limo in the Nakatomi Plaza garage and waits for his next bit in the movie. John and Holly retire to Holly’s plush office, where John freshens up. He takes off his shoes and lets them munch on the deep-pile carpet. Holly rejoins the party, expecting John to come down.

The bad guys arrive. The truck pulls into the garage and parks. A gang of really mean characters unload, and they carry their bags, loaded with weapons and explosives. The leader is Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). They are up to no good.

Meanwhile, two others arrive in a sedan at the front entrance, and they enter nonchalantly, almost playfully, distracting the security guy at the front desk and shooting him point blank. The gang quickly moves to take over the Nakatomi high-rise. The only other occupants are the holiday party, and much of the building is still under construction. We quickly come to dislike these people, and we wish them a horrid future.

Shooting wildly, the bad guys barge in on the party, and Gruber takes Takagi to his office to coerce him to cough up a security code. Takagi either does not have the code, or else he lies about not not knowing the code. Anyhow, Gruber always intended to kill Takagi, and he shoots him in the head.

Meanwhile, alerted by the commotion, John has crept close, and he observes this deadly scene. Significantly, he is barefoot, dressed in pants and tank top. But he has his pistol.

John launches a campaign to unravel the scheme. First he pulls a fire alarm to bring fire trucks. That fails when the crooks phone 911 to announce it’s a false alarm. Gruber’s men go in search of the person causing the trouble, and John begins his process of eliminating Gruber’s people in ones and twos.

Here is where I have my first issue with the plot. John knows he is vastly outnumbered, and he does not adopt a winning strategy. What to do if you ever find yourself in this kind of situation is to lie low, let the enemy come to you, and rub them out as efficiently as possible. Instead, John’s police instinct kicks in, and he attempts to subdue his first encounter without spilling blood. He eventually kills the guy by throwing him down the stairs. Anyhow, he winds up with the man’s machine gun, so he’s up for the encounter.

Enter the second key component of the plot. It’s LAPD Sergeant Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson). He is desk-bound after serving a term on the streets. He has sidelined himself after he accidentally shot an unarmed teenager and decided that if the time came, he would be unable to use his weapon.

Anyhow, he’s shopping for pastries when he gets the call to investigate John’s radio call for help.

The crooks wait for Powell to arrive, and they lie low while he checks out the building. The crook posing as security at the front desk convinces Powell that all is well, but during this time John kills another of Gruber’s men, and he tosses the body out a window onto the hood of the police car.

All hell breaks loose. High volume fire from inside the building shreds the police car as Powell backs it feverishly into a ditch and calls for backup.

And the remainder of the plot is police arriving and making stupid decisions and grandstanding, all the while Powell’s very sound advice is ignored. The crooks solidify their scheme to loot a vault of millions in bonds and to ambush police helicopters landing on the roof by setting off charges they have planted.

Prime jerk Harry Ellis seizes the opportunity for self-advancement and intrudes himself into negotiations with the crooks, falsely promising to be able to obtain missing detonators that John has snatched. Gruber quickly sees through Harry’s usefulness and dispenses karma with a bullet.

All this commotion alerts Argyl, who has until now been unaware, listening to tunes on his headphones. When he sees a van emerge from the box truck and hears all the gunfire, he springs into action. He plows the limo into the side of the van and cold cocks the driver.

But John has figured out the plot, and he herds the surviving members of the holiday party down from the roof, where they had been scheduled for sacrifice by the crooks. The explosives destroy the top floors of the building, killing the uppity FBI agents attempting to execute an ill-advised assault.

When the surviving crooks attempt to exit the building by way of the van, John is there waiting. But Gruber has taken Holly hostage. And it doesn’t work. John has anticipated the standoff, and when he surrenders his pistol he waits to catch Gruber off guard before pulling the weapon he has hidden behind his back.

Gruber’s henchman dies on the spot, and Gruber gets shot and is ejected, still alive, through a window. But he has hold of Holly’s arm, threatening to drag her down with him. That doesn’t work, as Gruber loses his grip and plummets multiple floors.

Outside, John and Holly emerge, reunited again. Everybody is congratulating each other when a surviving crook emerges from the building, menacing with a machine gun. Powell’s reluctance to shoot disappears in a flash, as he fires multiple rounds into the gunman.

And that’s the end of the movie.

There was no doubt at the time this came out that the title was inspired by Die Hard batteries, a brand marketed by Sears. Sears had a long-running and intense TV ad campaign that gained the term notoriety and likely gave a boost to the movie.

Once the plot is established by the takeover of Nakatomi Square it is straight-line from there. It’s a battle between good an evil, with additional characters thrown in to flesh out toward a climax. Characters are stereotyped for the amusement of the audience. News reporters are crass and uncaring in their pursuit of audience dominance. Powell is the one other sensible person intruding into the crooked scheme. The local police are career-advancing maladroits, continually making the very the decisions most likely to bring failure. The FBI rides in like The Valkyrie, lording it over the local police, aimed at stealing thunder, suffering thunder in their due.

We see John’s signals for help being ignored by the police. He gets on an “emergency channel” radio, and the police respond by telling him to quit abusing communications protocol.

From the get-go John goes around barefoot, never retrieving his shoes after he hears the first sounds of gunfire. This leads to an encounter where the crooks blast a bunch of glass partitioning, forcing John to walk through broken glass. He spends the remainder of the movie with bloody feet. Wouldn’t your first impulse on sensing an impending battle be to retrieve your shoes?

Lots of other stuff doesn’t make sense. After John kills the first of the crooks, he confiscates the sought-after detonators from the man’s bag. Wait! Gruber sent the man off to hunt down John, and this person set off on the mission with the detonators in his bag. Who does stupid shit like that? In a well-run operation the detonators would have been stashed in a safe place until needed. But nobody listens to me.

This is the film that made Bruce Willis. Many famous names were considered for the role before he was selected.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 252 of a series

It’s getting to where I have to hunt these down on Amazon Prime Video. My only comfort is in knowing that back during my youth there was a machine somewhere in Hollywood cranking these out several a day. From 1958 this is The Hideous Sun Demon, and the title just about tells the whole plot. Details are from Wikipedia.

The opening shot shows an alarm going off at an atomic research center, and we see two emergency medical workers carrying off the victim of an accident.

The victim is Dr. Gilbert McKenna (Robert Clarke), and he has been exposed to an unknown form of radiation. His colleagues, Ann Russell (Patricia Manning) and Dr. Frederick Buckell (Patrick Whyte), confer with Dr. Stern (Robert Garry). The doctor tells them he will keep McKenna in the hospital for several days for observation. The effects of this new form of radiation are unknown, and they will need to see what develops.

McKenna takes on some sun on the roof, and the effect is to transform him into a hideous creature. When they take him back inside, out of the sun, he returns to normal. Sun exposure is the key, so they drive him to a remote cabin near Los Angeles, where he can safely recuperate while his condition is studied. He must stay out of the sun. Each exposure to the sun becomes more critical than the previous, and recovery will take longer.

Alone in the cabin, McKenna gets restless. He takes his car, an open-air Austin Healey, for a drive at night. Stopping into a bar to purchase some cigarettes, he spies an interesting cabaret singer, Trudy Osborne (Nan Peterson), and buys her a drink. Her gangster boyfriend intrudes, and McKenna beats him up.  The two leave in McKenna’s car.

They spend a romantic night on the beach while her clothes dry from a dip in the surf. Come morning, and McKenna wakes up on the sand with the sun shining. He abandons Trudy and races back to the cabin, in the open car.

It’s too late. Before he can recover the shelter of the cabin he turns into the hideous sun demon. Ann arrives to find him cowering in a closet. He is strongly advised to stay out of the sun.

Does he head that advice? Of course not, else this would be a very uninteresting movie. He gets lonely that night and drives back to the bar to find Trudy. She is there, and so is her hoodlum boyfriend and one of the boyfriend’s chums. They are hot over the idea the McKenna left Trudy stranded on the beach. The two hoods beat McKenna up, and Trudy takes him away, ostensibly to a hospital. Actually, she takes him back to her place to recover, where the boyfriend finds them the next day. The boyfriend is not amused, and he pulls a gun.

The confrontation moves outside, where McKenna reverts to the son demon and kills the boyfriend.

Quickly the entire countryside is searching for McKenna. The plot has devolved to Hunt the Man Down. McKenna takes refuge in a shed in an oil field. A young girl befriends him and attempts to bring him cookies from home.

That ends up with the girl’s mother figuring out McKenna is hiding in the oil field, and she phones the police. Emerging from the shed, McKenna reverts for the final time to the sun demon and gives battle with the police.

The end comes climatically at the top of a storage tank.

A decidedly low-budget production, with actors facing each other on the screen and speaking their lines. It is obvious from the sound track that filming took place in a low-rent setting. Voices have the sound of being spoken in somebody’s living room. From Wikipedia, “The film’s crew consisted of students from the University of Southern California.”

Budget for the production was $50,000, and it was a financial success (???). This was a follow-on from  The Astounding She-Monster, which also features Clarke. A review is promised if I can get a copy. From Wikipedia:

Clarke initially had no distribution deals set up for the film. Clarke’s brother – a sales manager at an Amarillo, Texas, television station – put him into contact with the owner of several local drive-in theaters. Clarke agreed to premiere his film in Amarillo, and it played on a double bill with the Roger Corman film Attack of the Crab Monsters, under the alternate title The Sun Demon, on August 29, 1958.[14] Peterson and Clarke appeared at the premiere, and, after the film, performed an interview together. While the audience was distracted, Clarke changed into his costume and made an appearance as the Sun Demon.[14] After this success, Clarke declined a distribution deal with American International Pictures and instead chose a competitor, Miller-Consolidated Pictures, who distributed it across the US and UK in December 1959. Clarke made additional personal appearances as the Sun Demon. However, 18 months after the company started distributing the film, it went bankrupt. Because of this, Clarke never saw any income from the deal.[1][27] Clarke later sold off the films rights to various distributors.[1] In the United Kingdom, the film was distributed by D.U.K. and released with the title Blood on His Lips.[28][29] The film was released to US television in the early 1960s.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

Full disclosure: I post this Wednesday series as a way to keep ahead of the volume of movies to be reviewed. Generally the Wednesday posts are not bad movies, not really bad. But I manage to find flaw with every movie I watch. This one is It’s a Wonderful Life, from 1946. That makes it about 72 years old and also the first time I have seen it streaming on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

I watched it through on my computer, finding it irresistible to pass up so many shots that I wound up with 110 by the time I was finished. I will recap the plot, which everybody should know by now, and I will provide some background.

This film belongs to the late actor James “Jimmy” Stewart. It’s his film more than it belongs to costar Donna Reed or director Frank Capra. Prior to World War Two Jimmy Stewart was a top Hollywood star, headlining famous works, living the life of a film colony playboy, and bedding down with some of the choicest babes on the screen at the time. When the war came he chucked it all, paid for his own flying lessons, and went down to the local recruiting office, where he signed up as a private in the Army. From there he worked his was up to flight leader and led deadly combat missions in B-24 bombers over Europe. He saw many of his command die in those days, but when it was all over he came home and attempted to restart his career. This is his first film after the war.

All right, everybody is aware this is a fairy tail about good over evil, and it’s pure corn. It’s centered in the mythical town of Bedford Falls, which appears to be somewhere in New York. It’s winter, and it’s Christmas Eve. This is a Christmas story.

We see small town Bedford Falls as small towns existed in those days.

But in the distant heavens there is trouble. We see stars wink as angels converse. There is trouble in Bedford Falls, and two angels summon Angel 2nd Class Clarence (Henry Travers), who has yet to earn his wings. Did I mention corn? Clarence must do a good deed to get his wings, and the trouble in Bedford Falls is just the package.

But first the background must be explained to Clarence, and also the the viewers. We start back when George Bailey (Stewart) was 12 years old. It’s winter again, and the gang is having winter fun. Here George prepares to shoot down a snowy slope riding a coal scoop onto a frozen pond.

George’s brother Harry (Todd Karns) goes next, and he outdoes them all, sliding out onto the pond where the ice is deadly thin. He breaks through, and George saves his life. But a result is George loses hearing in one ear, dooming him to a lifetime of partial deafness.

Of course the movie needs to have an odious character, and this has one in the form of Henry F. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), who makes up for having too much money by having absolutely no morals. He’s riding in a horse-drawn carriage, because this is 1919, when the story begins.

We see more of George’s early life in Bedford Falls. That’s young George (Bobby Anderson) working as a soda jerk at Gower’s drug store. Who remembers what a soda jerk was? The blond is Violet Bick (Jeanine Ann Roose), who’s pretty, and she knows it. She is going to grow up to be Gloria Grahame. The girl on the right is Mary Hatch (Jean Gale), who’s going to grow up to be Donna Reed. both girls are trying to charm young George.

Then drama! One of George’s tasks at Gower’s drug store is to deliver prescriptions. But on this day George discovers a telegram relating the death of Mr. Gower’s (H. B. Warner) son. He sees that Mr. Gower is drinking liquor from a bottle. He also notices a bottle containing a poisonous substance, and he becomes disturbed.

George tries to warn Mr. Gower, but Gower tells him to deliver the prescription and to not bother him. George attempts to speak to his father (Samuel S. Hinds), but his uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) tells George that his father is busy with a problem at the Building and Loan that he runs.

The Building and Loan is in financial straits, and they need financial support from Potter. Potter is gleeful at their problems, because he would like the company to go away. Potter wants to lend money at exorbitant rates.

George returns to the drug store without delivering the tainted prescription, and Gower boxes his ear (the bad one) before George is able to explain. When Gower realizes George has saved him from committing negligent homicide, he becomes a George Bailey supporter for life. This is key to the plot.

The two angels bring Clarence forward to 1928, and George Baily has grown up. He’s preparing to leave Bedford Falls, to see the world. He is in a store to purchase a valise, and he shows the clerk just how big. At this point the director freezes the frame so Clarence can get a good look at the subject of his target subject. Here is the frozen frame.

At this point viewers should take a look. Two years before this was taken, Jimmy Stewart was deep into the horrors of war, in combat that took the lives of 50,000 American air crew. What is remarkable is how little time he had to put all that behind him and stand before the cameras for this photo.

The clerk pulls out a large case, and George determines it is just the right size. The clerk tells George the price is right, as well, because Mr. Gower is picking up the tab.

George prepares to leave Bedford Falls and to see the world.

He spies Violet, who really has grown up.

At the Bailey dinner table the talk turns to the need for George to stay on and take over running the Building and Loan. Standard for movies of this era is Lillian Randolph as Annie, a black maid. Yeah, black people still occupied the lower rung, and movies of the time keep us reminded.

George persists in his plan to leave Bedford, and he gives his mother (Beulah Bondi) a playful whirl.

Pa Bailey is disheartened at George’s decision.

Annie butts in.

But George is off to the school reunion dance.

Violet is there, and she still has the hots for George. Truth is, she has the hots for lots of guys.

Old school chums say goodbye to George.

Mary is there, and has she ever grown up. George is captivated to the core.

They dance, and love blossoms.

They participate in the Charleston contest.

George has captured Mary’s heart, and a jealous rival gets exacts some payback. He and a friend activate a switch, which rolls back the dance floor. There is a swimming pool below. George and Mary are the first to splash. The rest, sensing great fun, join in.

George and Mary walk home, singing “Buffalo Gals,” a tune that was popular when I was young.

They pause by the abandoned house to toss rocks at the windows.

Devastation. Word comes that Pa Bailey has died of a stroke. George must stay and take over the Building and Loan.

Harry returns from college with a new bride and a job offer from his father-in-law. George is stuck running the Building and Loan.

George mulls at the cruel blows that have befallen him. In those days everybody smoked in the movies.

But Mary has waited for him. They are deeply in love, and they marry.

And they are off on their honeymoon.

But not so fast. It’s the Great Depression, and there is a run on the local bank.

Trouble stalks the Building and Loan, as well, as depositors line up to withdraw their savings. The B&L cannot repay all depositors’ savings, because the money is lent out.

Potter puts through a phone call to the B&L warning George that if the B&L closes before the scheduled hour it will not be able to open the next day.

Mary shows up with the money they had saved for the honeymoon, and that saves the day as the B&L ends the day with $2 remaining.

Mary leaves George a note to meet her at a certain address. It’s the abandoned house. They are moving in there.

They raise a family, George runs the Building and Loan, and he develops a low-cost housing development called “Bailey Park” for the town’s working class.

George introduces new homeowners to their prospective homes.

Potter finds the B&L a thorn in his side, offering low-cost loans and undercutting his loan shark rates.

Potter calls George in and offers him a job. But George sees through Potter’s scheme and turns down the offer.

At first George shakes Potter’s hand.

Then he realizes that some of that stuff may have rubbed off.

He attempts to remove the stain.

Back home he starts up the stairs, grabbing the wooden knob at the bottom of the banister. It comes off in his hand. This business with the knob is never fixed, and it becomes a link that ties segments of the plot together for the remainder of the movie.

War, and George takes over draft registration for the town. Harry goes off to war.

Other of Georges school chums go off to war, one taking part in seizing the Bridge at Remagen.

Harry becomes a combat pilot, taking part in the war in the Pacific.

George runs commodities rationing for the government.

The war ends.

Harry comes home a hero.

It’s the day before Christmas. Recall, this is a Christmas story. Billy is jubilant. He takes $8000 from the B&L to deposit at the bank and shows the news headlines to Potter.

But Billy has tucked the money inside the newspaper he gave to Potter, and Potter keeps the money. Billy cannot recall what he did with the money.

It’s devastating to the B&L. They are responsible for the loss, and they cannot personally cover it. An audit is scheduled. The B&L will be ruined. The Bailey’s will be prosecuted for theft.

At home George is mean-spirited to his family. They do not know why.

The knob again.

George’s young daughter Zuzu (Karolyn Grimes) is sick.

George goes to Potter for financial help. Potter greets him with threats.

George gets drunk at a bar.

He smashes his car into a tree.

He goes to a bridge that crosses the river. Suicide is tempting.

Clarence is watching. He jumps in first.

George jumps in to save Clarence.

Maybe this is a drawbridge, because there seems to be a bridge keeper’s shack. George and Clarence dry off in the shack.

Clarence explains his heavenly mission. George and the bridge keeper are dubious, to say the least.

George tells Clarence he wishes he had never been born.

Clarence grant’s George’s wish. George was never born.

Clarence is going to take George to see how the would would be if he had never been born.

They tour the town.

People on the street do not recognize George. He was never born.

He goes back to the familiar bar. It’s no longer friendly. It’s a real dive.

Mr. Gower shows up. He is the town drunk, just out of prison for manslaughter. George was not there to prevent the tragic poisoning.

The town George sees is low-class.

It is named after Potter, who has taken control.

He runs into Mary. She is a lonely old maid. She has never married. George frightens her.

George gets into a fight with a cop he knew in his life. The cop draws his pistol as George makes a getaway.

George regrets his wish that he was never born.

Clarence undoes the curse, and George is returned to his present life. The cop asks George if he needs help. The episode with the fight never happened.

George is gleeful to be alive.

When he gets home to face his family, the bank examiners are there. There will be a reckoning.

But George does not care. He’s alive.

The knob.

George embraces his children.

George, Mary, the children, embrace.

Townspeople have learned of George’s predicament. They show up en masse, and they bring money. They are bailing out the B&L.

Annie pitches in.

The family is joyful again.

Harry arrives. He has commandeered a plane and flown to Bedford Falls to be with his brother.

Under the Christmas tree are presents. One is a copy of “Tom Sawyer,” a book that Clarence showed to George. Clarence was real.

Zuzu reminds us that when you hear a bell ring, that means an angel has gotten his wings.

Forget about Tiny Tim. God bless us, everyone.

Before I ever saw this movie I was familiar with the plot. In those days before my family had television, there was radio. And there was this program that featured audio enactments of movies, and when I saw the movie I recognized pieces of the plot. Some things were different.

In the radio program we hear George recount how he is alone in the darkened town, in the cold and the snow. He comes upon a friendly dog. When he reaches to pet the dog, the dog bites him.

Of course the part about seeing how the world would be is central to the plot, and that was the part most familiar from the radio program. The movie is based on The Greatest Gift, a 1943 short story by Philip Van Doren Stern. Of course, the revision carries the time frame forward to after the war to get Harry’s heroics in.

I most recall the part about the deadly prescription. That haunted me long after I listened to the program.

Of course there is stuff in this movie that does not ring true. For one, the plot ignores what we now call the “butterfly effect.” The universe is a complex system that responds non-linearly to the smallest input. The absence of a single character in the town would have produced a highly-divergent line of development. What the movie shows is rigid universe with one component unplugged.

The case that struck me most watching the movie is George’s wife Mary. Without George, she never marries, and grows old alone. This is absurd beyond all reason. She is Donna freaking Reed. A babe of this caliber would have been snapped up by any of several hundred eager suiters. Actually, in Stern’s book, George finds that Mary has married another man.

Donna Reed went on to further greatness. She won an Oscar for her portrayal of a Honolulu prostitute in From Here to Eternity. Her TV show The Donna Reed Show ran from 1958 to 1966.

Stewart’s career soared in the 1950s, where he appeared in a number of Alfred Hitchcock movies.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 251 of a series

Where else? This is from Amazon Prime Video, now streaming it’s Attack of the Crab Monsters from 1957, and you know it’s going to be bad. I’m sure I never saw this one before and will never have to see it again. Here’s the story. Details are from Wikipedia.

A contingent of scientists and Navy people land on a South Pacific island. There they are coming ashore from the seaplane that brought them. The island is near where hydrogen tests were previously conducted, and strange things have been happening. A previous expedition was never heard from after a storm came through. This group is not going to have much better luck.

Things get off to a bad start. A sailor falls out of a landing boat, and when his buddies retrieve his body it has no head.

So, the team members pack their gear up to a house that was used by the previous party, and they go to watch the seaplane take off. After getting airborne, the plane is destroyed by a massive explosion.

Here are:

  • Richard Garland as Dale Drewer
  • Pamela Duncan as Martha Hunter
  • Russell Johnson as Hank Chapman
  • Leslie Bradley as Dr. Karl Weigand
  • Mel Welles as Jules Deveroux
  • Richard H. Cutting as Dr. James Carson
  • Beach Dickerson as Seaman Ron Fellows
  • Tony Miller as Seaman Jack Sommers
  • Charles B. Griffith as Seaman Tate (uncredited)
  • Maitland Stuart as Seaman Mac (uncredited)

Dr. Martha Hunter goes exploring under water, giving viewers opportunity to appreciate her assets.

The usual plot for these movies unfolds on schedule, as daily members of the expedition vanish without a trace. Here Carson descends by rope into a pit. The line goes slack, and they never find his body.

Two sailors, stationed in a tent on the beach play cards, using sticks of dynamite for stakes. They hear a noise outside the tent. They look out. It’s the end of them

Members of the expedition continue to disappear, but by now everybody knows there are giant crags menacing the expedition. Additionally, the island is daily wracked by earthquakes accompanied by the sounds of explosions. And the island is growing smaller. In the end it has been reduced to a spit of land supporting the radio antenna.

By this time three survivors remain:

  • Drewer
  • Hunter
  • Chapman

Chapman, who has grown sweet on Hunter. takes on the remaining crab.

Drewer and Hunter watch the spectacle in horror.

Chapman collapses the radio tower onto the crab and dies along with the crab.

The final scene in the movie.

Besides the obvious hokeyness of the plot, there are a number minor issues.

We see Drewer and Hunter emerge from the sea after their underwater exploration. Other from atop the cliff call to them, and they abandon their SCUBA gear and go with the others. Who does this?

Nobody seems to be in charge of the expedition. People go their separate ways, looking for the caus of the mysterious happenings and getting picked off one by one. Nobody fields an expeditin of this sort without a chain of command of some sort.

The seaplane takes off and then explodes. Why? No reason is given, nor can one be surmised.

You can catch this on Amazon Prime Video for the time being, but a copy appears to be posted on YouTube.

 

 

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 250 of a series

A new month means a new lineup on Amazon Prime Video, so I browsed the movies available. I can’t be sure this one wasn’t there before, but this is the first time I ever heard of it. It’s Odd Thomas, from 2013, and it’s based on the first of the Odd Thomas novels by Dean Koontz. There are several.

But first we are introduced to the Odd Thomas (Anton Yelchin) character. He relates for us his origins. His name really is Odd, and there is some dispute as to how that came about. However, it is not unwarranted. Start with his family life. His mother was, herself, odd, to say the least.

When Odd was 12 they carted her off to an asylum.

Now he’s on his own, early 20s and already collecting a reputation for being odd in the desert town of Pico Mundo (Peak World). For example, he can see dead people. The girl in the picture is Penny Kalisto (Ashley Sommers), and she is dead, murdered. And Odd has just realized that the guy in the car, Harlo Landerson (Matthew Page) is the person who killed her. For some reason the killer saved a piece of white felt with her blood on it, and that evidence is now in the killer’s pocket.

Confronted with the devastating accusation, Landerson bolts, and Odd chases him down and takes him prisoner.

Two police officers, Bern Eckles (Kyle McKeever) and Simon Varner (Nico Tortorella) haul the murderer off to the slam.

The town police chief, Wyatt Porter (Willem Dafoe) is keyed in on Odd’s mystical power. As Odd converses with the dead girl, Porter approaches, and she saunters back across the swimming pool, fading into a cloud of dust as she goes. Porter helps Odd keep his special powers under wraps. He advises Odd to claim seeing the evidence when examining the perp’s wallet.

At night Odd is set upon by a host of visions of people who beg for his help. They are being shot by a mysterious figure wielding an automatic weapon, and they are all wearing the same, strange attire.

Break to further character development, as Odd explains he keeps his life simple, for example by choosing to work as a short order cook at a diner.

He is visited by his girlfriend, Bronwyn “Stormy” Llewellyn (Addison Timlin).

Chief Porter drops in, as well. Also a swarm of bodachs, spirit creatures from Gaelic mythology. Only Odd can see them. Bodachs kill any being that they know can see them, so Odd keeps it cool, working hard at pretending they are not there.

But he notices they swarm a patron named Bob Robertson, referred to thereafter as “Fungus Bob,” due to his moldy appearance. Odd becomes alarmed as seeing the bodachs swarming Fungus Bob, because such a swarm is indicative of massive death portending.

Skipping over the vast body of the plot, Stormy works with Odd as he narrows his investigation of the coming doom. In the interim, Fungus Bob is shot by a person unknown and left in Odd’s bathtub. Odd borrows a car and disposes of the body in an abandoned military base.

Then he tracks the plot to a planned attack on the shopping mall, where Stormy works at an ice cream parlor. By now he knows that Varner and Eckles are in on the plot with Fungus Bob. They are cult members who have moved to Pico Mundo and infiltrated the police force. He tracks Eckles to the security room at the mall, where Eckles has just murdered the guards. He ambushes Eckles with a baseball bat as he comes through the door. Then he goes looking for Varner.

Too late. Varner appears inside the mall with an automatic weapon, spraying patrons with bullets. One fusillade sweeps through the ice cream parlor.

Odd confronts Varner and kills him with the pistol he has taken from Eckles.

But Bob’s van is parked at the mall entrance, and it is packed with explosives, set to go off in seconds. Odd takes over the van and drives it out of town. Eckles grabs on and enters the cab in an attempt to kill Odd, who jumps out just before the van plunges into a drainage channel and explodes.

Odd is hailed as a hero, and he and Stormy make plans to spend the rest of their lives together. But the vision of Stormy is just that, for she was killed in the hail of bullets aimed at the ice cream parlor.

Odd exits Pico Mundo on foot to start a life of adventure that will develop into six additional Odd novels.

Production costs of this movie were high ($12 million), possibly owing to the extensive incorporation of CGI. I could not detect any top-tier talent involved, although all roles were adequately executed. And the plot is interesting, but apparently the concept did not connect well. The box office came in at $1.1 million. I’m thinking there will not be a bunch of sequels coming out.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 249 of a series

Another James Bond flick and a most unusual one. It’s The Spy Who Loved Me from 1977, and the back story is worth retelling. The title comes from an Ian Fleming novel unique among Bond stories. This one is told from the perspective of a third person, hence the title. Its being unique in this way gave the story a trajectory like no other. Fleming refused to release the plot for reuse, so the producers of the movie took the title and Fleming’s Bond character, and they concocted an original plot. This is streaming on Hulu, where I obtained the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

To appreciate the total disconnect from the original, here is how the book starts:

I WAS running away. I was running away from England, from my childhood, from the winter, from a sequence of untidy, unattractive love-affairs, from the few sticks of furniture and jumble of overworn clothes that my London life had collected around me; and I was running away from drabness, fustiness, snobbery, the claustrophobia of close horizons and from my inability, although I am quite an attractive rat, to make headway in the rat-race. In fact, I was running away from almost everything except the law.

And I had run a very long way indeed – almost, exaggerating a bit, halfway round the world. In fact, I had come all the way from London to The Dreamy Pines Motor Court which is ten miles west of Lake George, the famous American tourist resort in the Adirondacks – that vast expanse of mountains, lakes and pine forests which forms most of the northern territory of New York State.

Fleming, Ian. The Spy Who Loved Me (James Bond – Extended Series Book 10) (p. 1). AmazonEncore. Kindle Edition.

So the woman, Vivianne Michel, relates her troubled coming of age, passing through two demeaning relationships with men before setting out on a cross-country tour on a moped. She stays a few days at a remote motel and gets sucked into a scheme by its gangster owner, who plans to have her killed and blamed on the arson that will send some insurance money his way. In the nick of time James Bond drops in and spoils the crooked scheme, ending up in the sack with Vivianne. And that’s the story.

Screen writers Christopher Wood and Richard Maibaum had something more adventurous in mind. Their story begins with major-power submarines being captured by a technology that takes command from the crew.

And thus begins the standard James Bond (Roger Moore) plot, which includes the obligatory chase down a snowy mountain range.

We meet Anya Amasova/Agent Triple X (Barbara Bach), being given the assignment to recover the technology.

We meet the evil mastermind behind the plot, Karl Stromberg (Curd Jürgens), here paying off the two scientists who developed the technology. Sitting at the other end of the table is his disloyal secretary (Marilyn Galsworthy), soon to meet a ghastly fate.

When the double-dealing secretary departs the room and enters the elevator, the doors close, and the bottom opens, dumping her into a pool with a hungry shark.

Stromberg does some double-dealing himself. As the two scientists depart in a helicopter it is blown out of the air.

The chase is on, and the scene shifts to Cairo, where a delightful wench sets a trap for Bond. She relents at the last moment, taking the bullet meant for him.

Bond captures the gunman and questions him on the roof top before letting him go.

The setting moves to the pyramids of Giza, where we meet Jaws (Richard Kiel). He’s called Jaws because he’s a Herman Munster stand-in, and all his teeth have been replaced by steel ones. He kills by biting people.

Such as this Soviet operative.

Bond meets Amasova. There will be sex before this movie is over.

They meet Jaws, and Bond defeats him by collapsing scaffolding on top of him. The ruffian survives. In fact, throughout he demonstrates to be indestructible.

Romance begins in a boat ride on the Nile, right before she knocks Bond out with trick cigarette smoke.

Eventually we get around to Stromberg’s super oceanic research vessel, where the final action will take place.

The movie is two hours of wacky attempts at assassination. Here a motorcycle with a side car sets out behind Bond’s Lotus. But the side car is really a homing road missile, which the driver releases to chase down Bond’s car.

Of course all this fails, and the rider exits the movie.

That failing, a conventional motorcar gives chase, but Bond’s Lotus opens up a compartment behind the license plate and sprays oil on the killers’ windshield. Off the road it goes.

Next, Stromberg’s personal pilot and accomplished assassin goes after Bond with murderous, but inaccurate machine gun fire from a helicopter. The problem seems to be the twin guns are set too far apart, and when the pilot centers on the Lotus, the rounds strike on either side of the car. We can see that watching the movie, and we wonder why the person who up-armed the helicopter did not detect this problem.

A close look.

Bond dives the lotus into the sea, where it converts to a submersible vessel.

From below the surface, Bond spots the circling helicopter and fires a missile. Goodbye helicopter.

Bond joins with an American sub crew in an attempt to track down the source of the mysterious technology, but that boat also gets captured and drawn into Stromberg’s fake tanker ship, where the crew are forced to surrender.

But Bond breaks free using the second oldest trick in the book—upsetting a stack of gas cylinders.

There ensues a massive fire fight within the bowels of the tanker. Many are killed on both sides.

Meanwhile, two of the captured subs are sent off onto missions to annihilate world class cities. The navy guys prevail and take the remaining sub out, nailing Stromberg’s tanker with a torpedo as they depart. The ship goes down with the remainder of Stromberg’s team.

Bond confronts Stromberg at his elegant dining table, where Blomberg prepares to eliminate him by means of an under-the-table rocket launcher, which is apparently standard for such tables. Bond dodges the rocket and retaliates by firing his Walther PPK back through the empty launch tube, several times, right into Stromberg’s crotch. That has got to hurt.

Bond initiates the destruction of the research vessel, and he and Amasova prepare to save themselves. Jaws is last seen swimming solo to a distant land mass. We also see the sole reason Bach was cast for this movie, because acting was never one of her accomplishments.

Again, for your viewing pleasure, Steve.

As standard, the film runs slightly more than two hours. It shovels out a string of capers highlighted by novel ways of killing somebody, ways Bond can make it into bed with some seductive wench, professionally executed stunts and special effects, all held together by a Saturday matinée plot.

Richard Kiel is “best known for his role as Jaws in the James Bond franchise, portraying the character in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979); he lampooned the role with a tongue-in-cheek cameo in Inspector Gadget (1999). His next-most recognized role is the tough, but eloquent Mr. Larson in Happy Gilmore (1996). Other notable films include The Longest Yard (1974), Silver Streak (1976), Force 10 from Navarone (1978), Pale Rider(1985) and Tangled (2010).”

Bach also appeared in Force 10 from Navarone. She is married to Ringo Starr.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

It’s here at last. I’ve been waiting for this to start streaming on Amazon Prime Video, and my wait was rewarded this month. It’s Westworld from 1973 and starring Yul Brynner as a killer robot. I saw this when it came out, so the plot is familiar. Details are from Wikipedia.

Michael Crichton, who previously gave us The Andromeda Strain., wrote and directed this. It’s a sci-fi thriller with a ground-breaking theme. It’s the original theme that keeps this from being posted as a Bad Movie of the Week.

There is a plot, and it’s straight forward, so I will sketch it out and show some visuals. The kick-off plays a smarmy TV commercial for Delos, an entertainment enterprise. They’re like Disneyland, only for adults. Here the ad man is interviewing a customer just returned from one of Delos’ three theme parks. They are Romanworld, Medievalworld, and best of all, Westworld. Each of the three allows visitors to experience life once lived in respectively, the decadent Roman Empire, the decadent world of a Medieval court, and a decadent frontier town of the American 1880s.

In the parks high-tech robots interact with patrons and drive the narrative. 20th century visitors will live among the robotic inhabitants as citizens did in those days gone by.

This is billed as “The vacation of the future, today.”

Two dudes from Chicago are riding the futuristic flying shuttle to the theme park, apparently somewhere in a California desert region. They are John Blane (James Brolin), a return visitor, and Peter Martin (Richard Benjamin), come to visit Westworld for the first time.

Checking at Westworld, the two are outfitted for their week-long stay on the American frontier. And by the way, cue the banjo music.

They quickly get into the swing of things. In a frontier saloon they order whiskeys and throw them back. A gunslinger (Brynner) saunters in, bumping Martin, causing him to spill some of his drink. This is how fights got started in the old west. At Blane’s urging, Martin picks a fight with the gunslinger, who is a role-playing robot. Both men draw their pieces, and Martin kills the robot. Patrons dutifully drag the body out into the street. That was life and death in the old west.

The deal is, visitors are given the opportunity to act out as would not be allowed in modern society. And the beauty is, there are no consequences of their actions, since everything is designed so no actual people are harmed.

We are given snapshots of life at the other two theme parks. Here is a ribald court scene from Medievalworld.

One of the attractions of the old west was the availability of ladies for hire.

At night, when all the patrons have bedded down, park crews come forth and haul in the damage from the previous day’s debauchery. They have to repair robots that have been shot, stabbed, beheaded, whatever.

There is a problem. In a place where it is promised that nothing can possibly go wrong, things are starting to go wrong. At a project meeting we see that the rate of defects, failures in the robots, has not leveled off as one would expect in a new technology. Instead, it is as though an infection is spreading among the robots, which source the technicians cannot explain, since much of the technology was developed by computers, and nobody fully understands it.

The gunslinger from the day before is resurrected, and he comes looking for Martin. Martin defeats him in a blazing exchange of gunfire in the pair’s hotel room, and the gunfighter dies, again, crashing through a window and falling to the street below.

But there was law in the old west, and the sheriff jails Martin to await trial before a hanging judge. Not to worry. Blane springs him by smuggling in some explosives. Blasting through the jail house wall, Martin escapes, and the two ride off to hide out in the desert.

The first thing they notice that something is going wrong is when a rattlesnake bites down on Blane. It’s a non-poisonous robot snake, but this was not supposed to happen. After Blane and Martin depart, a crew goes out to retrieve the snake and poke for the problem.

Meanwhile in Medievalworld, a stately lord, a park visitor, is forced to fight a duel with the Black Knight. He loses the fight when the robot plunges a real sword through his belly. Something is obviously going wrong. The resort operators attempt to shut the park down, but there is no response to their controls. They attempt to shut down power to the resort, but they only succeed in sealing themselves inside their airtight control building, where all die.

Riding back into town, Blane and Martin encounter the gunslinger again. Blane accepts the gunfighter’s demand for a duel, and he gets two slugs in the belly. Martin gets on his horse and rides for his life, the gunfighter following.

For reasons I never caught onto, Martin knows how to get access to the control building, and he hides from the gunfighter by pretending to be one of the robots on an examining table. When the gunfighter detects something and comes over to take a look, Martin throws hydrochloric acid into the gunfighter’s face and makes a run for it.

His vision much diminished, the gunfighter stalks the resort, looking for Martin. Pursued to Medievalworld, Martin notices the gunfighter cannot see him, paying attention only to hot objects. He decoys his adversary and sets him ablaze with one of the torches serving as lighting in the castle.

Martin looks around and can find nobody else alive. He hears a noise and comes to the rescue of a fair damsel, who has been chained to the bars of a dungeon cell. But when he gives her a drink of water, the water shorts out her circuits, and she begins to smoke. She is a robot.

Martin contemplates being the sole survivor of the movie.

Besides some corny dialog, this production is plagued by a load of unlikelihood. Of course, the technology is nowhere believable. In 1973 it may have been a wish that sentient robots would be feasible in a few years, but hopefully this would involve technology of the future. What we see when technicians open up one of their creations is 1960’s electronics.

Additionally, some of the logical basis is beneath belief. The pistols in Westworld fire real bullets, but to ensure the safety of real people, the guns are fitted with (supposedly) infrared detectors that prevent their being fired when pointed at a warm object (person). Yeah, that’s going to work. Like a bullet going through a wall is not going to kill somebody on the other side?

These anthropic robots are supposed to be very smart and of advanced, futuristic construction. But when we are allowed to view the world through the gunslinger’s eyes, the image is coarsely reticulated. Everybody’s cell phone these days has resolution sharper than the 35mm cameras used to shoot the movie.

Creighton imagined some kind of technological plague spreading from one park site to the others, but nowhere is it contemplated what vector must be involved. Viewers are asked to accept the premise and follow along with the plot.

Of course, this movie involves a bunch of actors who are supposed to be robots, and this set up for a breakthrough in motion picture production. A view into the insides of one of the robots incorporates computer-generated animation, the first time industry unions allowed creativity to performed by other than a union member.

Little known about Brynner, who seemed to burst into stardom as the haughty monarch in The King And I, was originally from Siberia, in Vladivostok. He needed the money at the time, and accepted $75,000 to play the role. He died 12 years later.

A Westworld TV series airing on HBO debuted in 2016, continuing into 2018. A third season is scheduled for production.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 248 of a series

Another Bond movie and once again not much of a plot. Besides, this one carries the same title as an Ian Fleming short story that relates an entirely different set of events. The move is A View to a Kill, and the short Story is From a View to a Kill, not exactly the same. The short story is from a Fleming anthology titled For Your Eyes Only., which title was attached to a movie that is nothing about the Fleming story that carries the name. This is streaming on Hulu. Details are from Wikipedia.

It’s worth comparing the story and the movie. Here’s how the story begins:

THE EYES behind the wide black rubber goggles were cold as flint. In the howling speed-turmoil of a B.S.A. M.20 doing seventy, they were the only quiet things in the hurtling flesh and metal. Protected by the glass of the goggles, they stared fixedly ahead from just above the centre of the handle-bars, and their dark unwavering focus was that of gun muzzles. Below the goggles, the wind had got into the face through the mouth and had wrenched the lips back into a square grin that showed big tombstone teeth and strips of whitish gum. On both sides of the grin the cheeks had been blown out by the wind into pouches that fluttered slightly. To right and left of the hurtling face under the crash helmet, the black gauntlets, broken-wristed at the controls, looked like the attacking paws of a big animal.

Fleming, Ian. For Your Eyes Only (James Bond – Extended Series Book 8) (p. 1). AmazonEncore. Kindle Edition.

Yes, the Fleming story is about a gang of Soviet spies who set up a scheme to ambush and kill motorcycle couriers carrying secret NATO correspondence. James Bond happens to be handy (in Paris) and is called in to work the case. He figures out the location of the spys’ base of operations, and he sets up a reverse ambush, enabling friendly forces to wipe out the spy ring. End of story.

This came out in 1985, and the opening scenes of the movie dispense with the obligatory downhill ski chase. Has anybody besides me noticed the number of Bond films that involve a ski chase.

Anyhow, James Bond (Roger Moore) escapes successfully with the microchip he retrieved from the body of MI6 Agent 003. Somebody is hatching a plot against the American microchip industry. This naturally leads to MI6 operatives, including Bond, infiltrating Ascot Opening Day.

Here we are introduced to the dark and deadly May Day (Grace Jones), who is going to torment Bond relentlessly until the closing scenes.

Happy for all of us, Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) attends, as well, becoming enchanted with the progress of the horses and giving the screen writers cause to lift that immortal line from another movie, “Move your ass!”

The arch villain is psycho industrialist Max Zorin (Christopher Walken), who makes a show of breeding race horses while he plots to extort the world.

A target of Zorin’s is Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts), whose company has been taken over by Zorin.

So, the CIA agent Bond enlists to foil Zorin’s plot is murdered, and Zorin schemes to murder a California geologist, burn down the San Francisco city hall, kill Bond and Sutton, and blame the whole matter on Bond. This naturally leads to a wild chase through city streets, as Bond and Sutton escape in a stolen fire truck. Didn’t we previously see this scene in Con Air?

Many police cars are wrecked, climaxing when Bond jumps a raised draw bridge in the fire truck.

I have skipped a bunch of the plot, including the part where Zorin plants tons of explosives in an abandoned mine with the plan to unzip the Saint Andreas Fault and wipe out California’s Silicon Valley. We get to appreciate how psychotic Zorin is when he massacres his crew of mine workers by flooding the chambers and machine gunning those trying to escape.

Bond, Sutton, and May Day survive, and Bond extracts the detonator charge with the help of May Day. She rides the mine car with the detonator outside the mine and disappears in a flash when it goes off harmlessly.

Meanwhile Zorin has escaped in his blimp to observe the destruction of Silicon Valley from the air. When he sees his plot has been foiled, he zooms down and scoops up Sutton, for what reason is not explained. Bond snags a mooring line and manages to ensnare the blimp at the top of the Golden Gate Bridge. There the girl is rescued, Zorin plunges 746 feet to the water, and the blimp disintegrates in a fiery explosion when Zorin’s accomplices mishandle a packet of dynamite.

And the movie winds down in standard fashion with Bond and Sutton sharing some sack time.

We are treated to seeing Patrick Macnee as Sir Godfrey Tibbett, working with Bond to unseat Zorin until Zorin gets wise to them and has Tibbett murdered. This is for those fans of British TV spy series.

Watching this I could not help seeing a recap of Goldfinger. Anybody else?

Deconstructing Robert Ingersoll

Number 8 in a Series

 

Continuing a review of Robert Ingersoll’s collected works

He analyzes the route by which we create gods.

Man, in his ignorance, supposed that all phenomena were produced by some intelligent powers, and with direct reference to him. To preserve friendly relations with these powers was, and still is, the object of all religions. Man knelt through fear and to implore assistance, or through gratitude for some favor which he supposed had been rendered. He endeavored by supplication to appease some being who, for some reason, had, as he believed, become enraged. The lightning and thunder terrified him. In the presence of the volcano he sank upon his knees. The great forests filled with wild and ferocious beasts, the monstrous serpents crawling in mysterious depths, the boundless sea, the flaming comets, the sinister eclipses, the awful calmness of the stars, and, more than all, the perpetual presence of death, convinced him that he was the sport and prey of unseen and malignant powers. The strange and frightful diseases to which he was subject, the freezings and burnings of fever, the contortions of epilepsy, the sudden palsies, the darkness of night, and the wild, terrible and fantastic dreams that filled his brain, satisfied him that he was haunted and pursued by countless spirits of evil. For some reason he supposed that these spirits differed in power—that they were not all alike malevolent—that the higher controlled the lower, and that his very existence depended upon gaining the assistance of the more powerful. For this purpose he resorted to prayer, to flattery, to worship and to sacrifice.

Ingersoll, Robert Green. The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, (Complete 12 Volumes) (Kindle Locations 204-214). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.

When people began to employ science to understand the natural world, the usefulness of religion started to become not only absurd, but embarrassingly foolish.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

James Bond movies are currently streaming on Hulu, where I obtained these screen shots. First, something about the Bond series. Ex spy Ian Fleming wrote a bunch of these stories in the 1950s before finishing up in the early 1960s and dying in 1964. MGM began to put out movie interpretations, beginning with Dr. No in 1962, and they generally followed Fleming’s plots. Then they got famous for their special effects, and eventually Bond movies became synonymous with sex, glitz, stunts, and special effects. Really quite boring. No story—sequences of episodes strung together, sometimes losing the central theme in the process. Fortunately for us, something like this one got made, and it has a real story with real plot development. It’s For Your Eyes Only, from 1981, by which time the Bond series was well into it’s plot-devoid era.

The problem is, the original Fleming plot takes up a few pages in a collection of short stories published under the same title. The movie uses the title and the names of a few of the characters and concocts an epic yarn. More later.

The opening scene has nothing to do with the plot. We see James Bond (Roger Moore) laying flowers at the grave of his wife, who was cruelly murdered in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Comes a call from headquarters, and a helicopter arrives to pick him up for an important assignment. Only it’s a fake. Once Bond is inside the helicopter, buckled in, and in the air, an unseen hand pushes a button on a remote control device and causes the pilot to be electrocuted. Bond is trapped inside the helicopter controlled by a vicious and sinister old man sitting in a wheel chair on top of a distant building. The man’s voice comes through the helicopter intercom telling Bond of the grisly fate that awaits him.

But Bond gains the upper hand. He climbs out a door and hangs on as the helicopter flies a torturous and frightening route among buildings and stacks in an industrial area of the city.

Finally he gets inside the pilot’s compartment, dumps the dead pilot, and takes control. He flies the helicopter up behind the sinister wheel chair and scoops it up with one of the  craft’s skids. Then he dumps his nemesis, wheel chair and all, down a smoke stack, which you see just now coming up.

Then runs the film’s intro, and the movie starts for real. A British spy station is disguised as a fishing boat off the coast of Albania, and the “fishermen” catch a floating mine in their net. The mine explodes, sinking the vessel before the crew can activate the thermite destruction device to destroy the ultra-secret ATAC device, this plot’s MacGuffin. The race is on to recover the device before opposing forces can get at it.

Switch to the yacht of the Havelock family, husband and wife being oceanographic researchers, he being involved in helping recover the ATAC. Their glamorous daughter Melina (Carole Bouquet) comes to visit while the yacht is anchored in Greek waters. She arrives by a float plane, which lands close by and lets her off at the yacht.

The float plane takes off, but then it circles back, and the pilot opens up on the boat with machine guns concealed in the floats, killing the husband and wife.

Here is where the film and the Fleming story overlap. In the book Mr. Havelock is retired MI6 living on the family estate in Jamaica. Gangsters seeking to flee Cube before Castro comes to power (this sets the time about 1958) are looking for other places to park their wealth. One gangster seeks to purchase the Havelock property, and Mr. Havelock turns them down flat. The gangsters take the next logical step and murder the husband and wife, then they begin to put pressure on the heir, the daughter, named Judy in this case. She seeks revenge with an aim to track down and to kill the gang leader. At this point the two plots diverge, never to cross paths again.

In the book James Bond’s boss, “M.”, is a friend of the Havelocks, and he asks Bond to “take care of business.” He hands Bond a file and stamps it “FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.” Hence the title.

Here is a scene nearly straight out of the Fleming story. The gangster is holed up in a resort in Vermont near the Canadian border with a lake and hot and cold running bimbos. The movie somewhat duplicates the scene, only this may be on the island several thousand miles to the east.

In the book Bond goes in with a sniper’s rifle with intent to kill the gangster. There he meets Judy, who has arrived by a different route and with a crossbow. Judy tells Bond to stay out of this business and to let her do it. In the movie Bond is unaware of the girl until the gangster dives into the pool and floats to the surface with an arrow through his worthless torso, a scene from both plots.

But Bond has been surprised by guards and taken to the boss, who orders him disposed of. The arrow generates confusion, allowing Bond to escape, whereupon he meets Melina on the trail, where she saves him again with a well-placed arrow. They team up and escape in her little yellow car, since his tricked-out Lotus has exploded when one of the guards attempted to break in. Here begins the first of several stereotype Bond chases, as the little yellow car (a Yugo?) dashes madly along winding mountain roads and through villages, pursued by two cars full of gunmen. Of course Bond and the girl escape, as the gunmen meet ghastly ends.

Trust me. There is a plot in this movie. The story advances as Bond follows lead after lead to track down who is after the ATAC. In the meantime there is the requisite snow chase. Here motorcycles with ice racing tires (spikes) chase Bond, on skis, down the mountain.

And down a bobsled run.

But Bond finds out he has been chasing the wrong villain. A smuggler clues him in that a supposed Anglophile is the real mastermind, and Bond and the girl retrieve the ATAC from the sunken spy boat, only to be captured by the traitor. It is decided that rather than shooting the two and dumping them to the sharks, the mastermind will troll them behind his boat over some sharp coral and let the sharks do the rest.

This is a plot device out of Live And Let Die, and the same escape is employed. Bond and the girl catch some slack in the tow line when the boat reverses course, and they snag the line on some rocks. As the boat charges forward the line goes taut and snaps, allowing the two to escape.

They team up with the smuggler, Chaim Topol as Milos Columbo, and they form up a team of five to assault the villain’s stronghold atop a Greek mountain top.

Bond makes the climb using rope and pitons, but when he nears the top a guard confronts him.

To sum up, the gang of five defeat the villains in a fierce fight in the mountain fortress, right before the Soviet general arrives to take possession of the ATAC. Bond tosses the device off the mountain, where it explodes in a shower of particles, and everybody departs content.

Finally, Bond and Melina reconcile, and as she undoes the top of her clothing she tells him the scenery is “for your eyes only.”

Obviously there are plot defects. We are meant to believe the ATAC, a highly sensitive device aboard the spy boat. has been designed for destruction to avoid capture. The person chained to its console drowns before he can pull the lever to initiate the destruction, and the device sinks, intact, with the boat. And it was not designed to dissolve in salt water? It lies at a depth of over 400 feet for days (weeks?), and it’s still going to be functional? No. Just no.

It’s necessary to have the Havelocks killed. In the book the two gunmen who come around to make Mr. Havelock an offer he can’t refuse. When he refuses, they pull weapons out of their bags and shoot them down on the patio. In the movie they trick out a float plane by installing machine guns in the floats. Then they endeavor to have this be the plane that picks up the daughter and takes her to the yacht. A simple matter would have been for the pilot/assassin to come aboard at the time and gun down everybody and leave. In real life, nobody fits out a float plane with guns in the float pods.

Bond and the girl are captured, and the miscreant needs to get them out of the way. Does he have them shot and dumped overboard? No. He needs to come up with a plan to kill them creatively and also to give them an opportunity to escape. Movie plots seem

The story is one of five in a volume with this title. The first story in the book is From a View to a Kill, and yes, Hollywood made a movie using a similar title. The Fleming story has Bond tracking down a Russian spy ring engaged in murdering motorcycle couriers carrying secret NATO communications in France. As became typical, MGM threw away Flemming’s plot to make the movie, now streaming on Hulu. A review shortly.

Deconstructing Robert Ingersoll

Number 7 in a Series

Continuing a review of Robert Ingersoll’s collected works

Ingersoll demonstrates additional proof that people have created their gods rather than the reverse.

Man has not only created all these gods, but he has created them out of the materials by which he has been surrounded. Generally he has modeled them after himself, and has given them hands, heads, feet, eyes, ears, and organs of speech. Each nation made its gods and devils speak its language not only, but put in their mouths the same mistakes in history, geography, astronomy, and in all matters of fact, generally made by the people. No god was ever in advance of the nation that created him.

Ingersoll, Robert Green. The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, (Complete 12 Volumes) (Kindle Locations 166-169). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.

It brings to mind an old joke. Here is my version:

Herbie was born and grew up in Queens, more properly Queens Borough, New York. His friend Nathan from time to time pestered Herbie with wacky ideas. One day Nathan came in all excited.

“Herbie,” he exclaimed. You have got to come to see this woman I met yesterday. Her name is Miss Yarna, and she tells me fantastic things. She tells me things about myself that only I know.”

Herbie was nonplussed. He told Nathan that business was fake and nonsense. But Nathan was persistent. “Herbie, she can put you in contact with your grandmother, your Bubbe.”

Herbie figured he needed to get Nathan clued up, so he went along with him to visit Miss Yarna. Miss Yarna was properly impressive. She wore a long, flowing gown, and her hair was stacked almost to the ceiling. Nathan introduced Herbie, and he told Miss Yarna that Herbie wanted to communicate with his Bubbe, who had been dead five years.

Miss Yarna told the two she would enter a trance and would speak to them in Bubbe’s voice. She closed her eyes and rocked back and forth. Finally she began to speak. She reminded Herbie how she told him to always eat his vegetables and to not run around with fast women. And much more. Finally Bubbe asked Herbie if he had a question he wanted her to answer.

Herbie, obviously entranced, thought for a moment and then spoke. “Bubbe, when did you learn to speak English?”

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 247 of a series

Another Bond film, now streaming on Hulu. I’m not reviewing these in any special order, just taking them as they show up on Hulu. This time it’s Sean Connery as 007 agent James Bond. Details are from Wikipedia.

It’s Diamonds Are Forever, based on a novel of the same name by Ian Fleming, and to get some perspective you need to review some history. Fleming published the novel in 1956, before most of us were born. During the time the De Beers company had a corner on jewel-grade diamonds, and they needed a marketing ploy to sell them. Some ten years before, their advertising company came up with the slogan, “Diamonds are forever” to let you know that when you gave a lady a diamond, as in an engagement ring, you were giving something that would last forever, like your love. All jokes aside, diamonds are quite durable, and they are the hardest natural substance we commonly encounter, except they are carbon, and they will burn up in a fire.

Anyhow, this is about a crime caper that involves a load of diamonds, hence the unimaginative title.

Opening up we see Agent 007 engaged in a fruitless quest to locate and kill the notorious Ernst Stavro Blofeld. He finds where Blofeld has established a facility to create body doubles of himself to decoy enemies such as 007. Bond kills one double, and later kills another, thinking he is done with Blofeld. Not so, and the plot continues.

Now we switch to the diamond mines of Africa, where workers enterprisingly pick rough stones out of the diggings and smuggle them out in their teeth. A corrupt dentist processes a procession of miners with toothaches, taking from each a stone and giving to each a packet of money.

Then the dentist is off with a packet of stones to meet the courier who is prepared to take them out of Africa. Only, two assassins, a Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) and a Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith) have already intercepted and killed the real courier. They take the packet from the dentist and kill him.

The diamonds wind up in Amsterdam, the diamond market of uncut diamonds of the world at the time (maybe still). Possession of the diamonds has landed in the exquisite hands of a Miss Tiffany Case (Jill St. John). Yes, Fleming had a way with names. But Bond is on the trail, and he tracks down Miss Case, grabbing up the diamond shipment and submitting to the requisite tumble in bed.

Bond has been posing as smuggler Peter Franks (Joe Robinson), and when Franks shows up there is a fight to the death. Bond smuggles the diamonds to the USA, their intended destination, inside the intestines of the unfortunate Mr. Franks. Here he meets CIA Agent Felix Leiter (Norman Burton) at the airport, where Leiter poses as a customs inspector. When Leiter inquires as to where the diamonds are hidden, Fleming takes another turn at humor, having Bond respond, “alimentary, Mr. Leiter.” Most amusing.

Anyhow, the adventure is not over. Bond still has the diamonds, and the crooks still want them. I admit to having read the book decades ago, but I do recall that a thunderous load of details has been changed for the movie. Anyhow, Bond is in Las Vegas, where there are casinos to gamble in and sexy hookers to snuggle up to him. After he wins at roulette, Miss Plenty O’Toole invites herself up to his room and gets mostly naked. Then the bad guys show up and toss Plenty out the window. Fortunately she lands in the pool. A gangster looks out the window, and remarks famously, “I didn’t know there was a pool.”

The case devolves into the standard Hollywood mangling of a straight-forward spy plot. There has to be a quantity of mass mayhem. There is a vehicle chase in the desert involving many gangsters crashing their cars while chasing Bond, who is driving a mock-up moon rover, something that did not exist when Fleming wrote the book.

The carnage continues as Las Vegas police get involved and wreck any number of cars trying to catch Bond.

Along the way Bond has been captured, placed into a coffin, which coffin is fed into the furnace. He comes to as the the flames start to eat away at the coffin, and it’s at this time the crooks quench the burners and extract the scorched box. They open it and demand to know where the diamonds are.

There is also the encounter between bond and homosexual lovers Wint and Kidd. They take the unconscious Bond to a place in the desert where a pipeline is being laid, and they leave him in one of the pipe sections about to be installed. Comes morning, and the construction crew arrives. A crane picks up each pipe section in turn, laying them, Bond inside, into the trench. A welding machine comes along inside and welds the sections together. When it encounters Bond he puts a stop to it, triggering a reaction from the construction company. They come looking for the machine, and Bond steps out.

Anyhow, the supposed recipient of the diamonds is a billionaire named Howard Whyte (Jimmy Dean), who is working on an earth satellite project. Only Whyte has been imprisoned by Blofeld, whose scheme it is to launch a satellite that incorporates the diamonds in a reflector to turn it into a deadly laser weapon. Blofeld will threaten the planet with destruction unless he is paid billions. Yes, lasers didn’t exist in 1956, and satellites were still a dream.

Anyhow, Bond and White figure out where all the monkey business is going on, when Bond points out a Whyte business location that is not supposed to exist.

It’s an oil-drilling platform off the California coast, and Tiffany Case is there as the guest of Blofeld, who has sexual expectations. Bond infiltrates the base and hooks up with Case in a scheme to switch the tape cassette that controls the satellite. Get this, a tape cassette is the thing that determines which parts of the planet are to be zapped. Anyhow, you see here Tiffany Case trying to switch tapes, and one copy is tucked into the back end of her bikini.

There is a battle between good and evil as American forces attack, and Blofeld attempts to escape in his miniature submarine. But Bond takes over control of the crane that is lowering the sub into the water, and he crashes it into the platform superstructure. That eliminates Blofeld and the machinery that controls the satellite. The world is saved.

Case and Bond set off on a cruise together, where they are accosted by Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, still working for somebody. They disguise themselves as stewards and bring a sumptuous feast to the suite, since Bond has never actually seen the two.

But Bond becomes suspicious when he recognizes the smell of Mr. Wint’s cheap perfume. When Kidd approaches Bond with flaming skewers he douses him with alcohol from a bottle of spirits. The burning Kidd jumps into the ocean and is never seen again.

Bond grabs the bomb Wint and Kidd have stashed in the service cart, and he stuffs it into Wint’s underwear before tossing him overboard, where he explodes in mid-air.

Yeah, we don’t believe a lot of this either. I no longer have a copy of the book, but you can take a peek at the Wikipedia summary and see the movie is a ghost of the original plot. The deliciously evil characters of Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd are there, but Bond kills them early before shutting down a diamond smuggling operation. There is no mention of satellites and lasers.

If you know the Bond stories, you will know there is another one that involves CIA Agent Felix Leiter. In the prior story Leiter has lost an arm and a leg in a shark attack, but for this movie he has recovered remarkably, and he is back working for the CIA.

St. John played a number of sexy bimbo roles, in defiance of being one of Hollywood’s brainiest players.

Deconstructing Robert Ingersoll

Number 6 in a Series

Continuing a review of Robert Ingersoll’s collected works

Ingersoll discusses the perceived influence of Jehovah and the devil with respect to human welfare. It is claimed that God has people’s best interest at heart, but his dealing with Adam and Eve is one of suppression and retribution, while the devil rewards the pair with knowledge, freedom, and advancement. Don’t take my word for it. Read the Bible. Ingersoll did.

The account shows, however, that the gods dreaded education and knowledge then just as they do now. The church still faithfully guards the dangerous tree of knowledge, and has exerted in all ages her utmost power to keep mankind from eating the fruit thereof. The priests have never ceased repeating the old falsehood and the old threat: “Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” From every pulpit comes the same cry, born of the same fear: “Lest they eat and become as gods, knowing good and evil.” For this reason, religion hates science, faith detests reason, theology is the sworn enemy of philosophy, and the church with its flaming sword still guards the hated tree, and like its supposed founder, curses to the lowest depths the brave thinkers who eat and become as gods.

Ingersoll, Robert Green. The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, (Complete 12 Volumes) (Kindle Locations 150-156). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.

He has a keen sense for picking out absurdities that should be obvious to the most casual of readers yet remain hidden in plane sight to the faithful. May Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Deconstructing Robert Ingersoll

Number 5 in a Series

Continuing a review of Robert Ingersoll’s collected works

His analysis of the Bible as the supposed work of an overarching intellect is keenly observant.

All that is necessary, as it seems to me, to convince any reasonable person that the Bible is simply and purely of human invention—of barbarian invention—is to read it Read it as you would any other book; think of it as you would of any other; get the bandage of reverence from your eyes; drive from your heart the phantom of fear; push from the throne of your brain the cowled form of superstition—then read the Holy Bible, and you will be amazed that you ever, for one moment, supposed a being of infinite wisdom, goodness and purity, to be the author of such ignorance and of such atrocity.

Ingersoll, Robert Green. The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, (Complete 12 Volumes) (Kindle Locations 112-116). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.

A person would have to wonder how it would be possible to take advice from the Bible after reading it while leaving behind the prejudice from conviction. May Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Deconstructing Robert Ingersoll

Number 4 in a Series

Robert Ingersoll, writing in the 19th century,  was a notorious critic of the Bible, raising criticism that portended major issues that confront us today. From The Works of Robert Ingersoll:

The book, called the Bible, is filled with passages equally horrible, unjust and atrocious. This is the book to be read in schools in order to make our children loving, kind and gentle! This is the book to be recognized in our Constitution as the source of all authority and justice!

Ingersoll, Robert Green. The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, (Complete 12 Volumes) (Kindle Locations 89-91). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.

Deconstructing Robert Ingersoll

Number 3 in a Series

Robert Ingersoll employed considerable energy picking apart the absurdity of religious faith. An example from The Works of Robert Ingersoll:

Few nations have been so poor as to have but one god. Gods were made so easily, and the raw material cost so little, that generally the god market was fairly glutted, and heaven crammed with these phantoms. These gods not only attended to the skies, but were supposed to interfere in all the affairs of men. They presided over everybody and everything. They attended to every department. All was supposed to be under their immediate control. Nothing was too small—nothing too large; the falling of sparrows and the motions of the planets were alike attended to by these industrious and observing deities. From their starry thrones they frequently came to the earth for the purpose of imparting information to man. It is related of one that he came amid thunderings and lightnings in order to tell the people that they should not cook a kid in its mother’s milk. Some left their shining abodes to tell women that they should, or should not, have children, to inform a priest how to cut and wear his apron, and to give directions as to the proper manner of cleaning the intestines of a bird.

Ingersoll, Robert Green. The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, (Complete 12 Volumes) (Kindle Locations 50-58). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.

This series will continue to explore comments from this 19th century speaker. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.