ShatnerKhan 1 – Part 1

On the 27th of October 2019 word spread that an opportunity existed for ShatnerKhan 1 to occur on November First.  I scrambled to confirm that the resources were in place.  I searched for any conflicts that could interfere with the operational excellence needed for such a critical mission.  ShatnerKhan 1 was a go!

So much had to be done in such a short window.

  • Venue reservations
  • audio-visual equipment rentals
  • purchase of archival quality motion picture and television recordings
  • intellectual property rights agreements
  • hotel accommodations
  • security staff and clearances
  • media announcements
  • insurance waivers
  • local permitting

The time it took to N/A each of these items on the public domain occasion planning list that I downloaded from a random website was time taken away from the planning of exactly which Shatner masterpieces would be included and which would have to be sadly excluded due to time constraints from ShatnerKhan 1.

When I arrived home that fateful night ShatnerKhan 1 had already kicked into high gear.  The delegates, some of whom had travelled from locales almost as far a way as the Andorian, Tellarite and Coridan systems, were attempting to regale Camera Girl with droll anecdotes of their exploits on their far-flung travels.  She on the other hand, being a woman and therefore of a practical nature, was more interested in when they intended to leave.

I bounded into the gathering full of enthusiasm and the bright good spirit of camaraderie and feasted on a sumptuous repast of not only wonderful chicken chop suey, marvelous won ton soup and priceless egg rolls but also a mysterious dessert that attempted to predict my future!  O Brave New World!

And now sated of our ravenous hunger and perfectly receptive to the cinematic delights we were about to experience we discussed the program.  What would be included in this inaugural edition of ShatnerKhan?  What would have to be postponed for a subsequent occasion?  And what order would we arrange the included courses?  I proposed to start off the evening with “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.”  This seemed a safe and non-controversial strategy.  But surprisingly, the delegates were opposed.  The attitude of the room was that this was too tame, too familiar.  They demanded a more challenging, a more esoteric choice.  I knew that some of the delegates had not delved as deeply as I into the less well-known strata of Shatneriana.  I resolved to stagger them with something they were surely unprepared for.  I played Rocket Man.

For those who had not seen it before, the effect was devastating.  By the time the third Shatner appeared there were howls of pain emanating from the audience and shouts to stop the show.  I refused.  They had sown the wind now they must reap the whirlwind.  When the last “long, long time” died out into merciful silence I could see that those who had revolted against the safe choice of “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” were now sadder and wiser.  They probably wished they could go back in time and undo that revolt.  But no one can unsee “Rocket Man.”  Their innocence was shattered.  Like the victims of a Lovecraftian eruption of eldritch horror, the image of the tuxedoed Shatners was seared permanently into their souls.  I contemplated describing here the experience of watching “Rocket Man.”  It can’t be done.  The experience is inexplicable.  You’ve either seen it or you haven’t.  It’s like trying to describe green to a blind man.  Suffice it say that it is Shatner at the height of his powers, confident, almost arrogant.  In complete control of the audience and his cigarette.

We stopped to revive ourselves with licorice and pretzel rods.

 

ShatnerKhan 1 – Part 2

 

 

31OCT2019 – Happy Halloween!

Even a Man who’s pure at heart
And says his prayers by Night
May become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms
And the Moon is full and bright

Wolfsbane Blooming in October 7

There haven’t been any really good horror movies lately so I think this year I’ll just put up my links to the Universal Classic Monster Movies.

http://orionscoldfire.com/index.php/2018/10/12/universal-classic-monster-movies-an-ocf-classic-movie-review-part-1/

http://orionscoldfire.com/index.php/2018/10/12/universal-classic-monster-movies-an-ocf-classic-movie-review-part-2-dracula/

http://orionscoldfire.com/index.php/2018/10/14/universal-classic-monster-movies-an-ocf-classic-movie-review-part-3-frankenstein/

http://orionscoldfire.com/index.php/2018/10/17/universal-classic-monster-movies-an-ocf-classic-movie-review-part-4-wolfman/

http://orionscoldfire.com/index.php/2018/10/19/universal-classic-monster-movies-an-ocf-classic-movie-review-part-5-the-mummy/

http://orionscoldfire.com/index.php/2018/10/21/universal-classic-monster-movies-an-ocf-classic-movie-review-part-6-the-invisible-man/

http://orionscoldfire.com/index.php/2018/10/23/universal-classic-monster-movies-an-ocf-classic-movie-review-part-7-the-lesser-works-and-a-final-verdict/

http://orionscoldfire.com/index.php/2018/02/22/dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-1931-version-a-classic-monster-movie-review/

http://orionscoldfire.com/index.php/2018/10/28/psycho-an-ocf-classic-movie-review/

 

Happy Halloween.

 

Joker – A Science Fiction – Fantasy Movie Review

(Spoiler Alert- I do talk about a good amount of the plot.)

First of all, is this a fantasy movie?  Well, it takes place in a mythical place, Gotham City and I suppose it exists in the “DC Universe” which includes Superman and other superheroes so I guess that can’t be the real world so let’s say it’s fantasy.

And this is nominally the origin story for Batman’s nemesis the Joker.  But although Bruce Wayne makes a cameo appearance and his father is a somewhat important character it doesn’t feel like this is a comic book story.

I guess it’s a story about how you can be the wrong man, in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The time and place are Gotham City (think New York City in everything but name) around, approximately, the mid-nineteen-eighties, a time when the bull market on Wall Street contrasted with the crime and poverty within much of the city.  The contrast was between the opulence of the elite and the graffiti and garbage laden streets of the poorer areas.  Arthur Fleck (played by Joaquin Phoenix) is trying to make people smile, he’s a self-professed clown.  But he’s also a mentally unstable man who struggles to make a living in the cruel time and place that surrounds him.

Arthur lives with his invalid mother in a tiny apartment in a ramshackle building somewhere in Gotham City.  He is on seven different medications for his mental problems which in addition to clinical depression includes an uncontrollable urge to laugh at the most inappropriate times.

We see him trying to earn a living as a clown.  He is sent out by an agency to perform whatever entertainment or advertising assignments a clown could be used for.  At a store that is going out of business, he dances around on the sidewalk with a twirling sign that announces that everything must go at their sale.  A gang of teenagers rip the sign out of his hands and run away into traffic.  Arthur chases them in his clown costume and after an exhausting chase is ambushed in an alley by the gang and brutally beaten down.

The movie is a downward spiral with Arthur experiencing cruelty and disappointment from every direction, strangers, his social worker, his neighbors, his employer and fellow employees and even his mother.  The only relief he ever finds in the movie are either delusions that his mind manufactures or the elation he feels when he finally exacts revenge with a gun.

Once Arthur is completely defeated in his hope for a normal life, he formulates the idea that all his pain is not a tragedy but actually a comedy and his mission is to spread the joke to everyone he meets.  He becomes the Joker and exults in his new found purpose in life, to extract revenge on everyone he comes in contact with.  After that the movie is a kinetic chase to see if Arthur can reach the maximum audience for his grim comedy before the police catch up to him.  Eventually the alienated masses in Gotham City embrace his chaotic violence and burn the city down in a spasm of violence.

This is an endlessly bleak film.  There is absolutely no positive message that can be taken from it.  The negative message that might have a cautionary aspect is not to push desperate people all the way to the wall, because they may still have teeth.

I was speaking to some folks in my circle of acquaintances about the Joker movie.  One of them is one of the Deplorables and he was very enthusiastic about the movie.  He felt that the movie reflected the way the world treats people today.  For instance, the neglected condition of Arthur Fleck and the rundown condition of the city he lived in was emblematic of how the elites treat the everyday folk.

He keyed into the scene where Arthur manages to meet up with Thomas Wayne.  Arthur’s mother had worked for Wayne and Arthur wants to talk to the great man.  He goes to the gate outside Wayne Manor and using some magic props amuses young Bruce Wayne who happens to be nearby.  Alfred the butler intervenes and Arthur runs away.  In the next scene Arthur sneaks into a private showing of a Charlie Chaplin movie at a palatial theater that Thomas Wayne and the rest of the elite of Gotham City are privately viewing.

Arthur enters as the show is in progress.  There they were, the elite, in their tuxedos and gowns without a care in the world while outside the riff raff were protesting the neglect and rot that had descended on the city.  Arthur is charmed and exhilarated by the opulence and happiness he sees and expects that Thomas Wayne will welcome him with open arms.  Instead he is rejected by Wayne and told that his connection to the Wayne family is a delusion.  And just for the sake of irony vis-à-vis the Batman back story Thomas Wayne punches Arthur in the face and says that he will kill Arthur if he ever comes near his son Bruce again.

Without a doubt one of the themes of the movie is that the rich have abandoned their poor neighbors.  And in fact, the three men that push Arthur over the edge into homicide are rich young stockbrokers who feel no compunction about attacking a seemingly harmless man on a subway train.  But it should be remembered that Arthur is also attacked by some street hoodlums who obviously aren’t any kind of an affluent group.  Their underprivileged status hasn’t given them any sympathy for Arthur when they beat him savagely when he attempts to retrieve his stolen property from them.

My friend feels that the Joker represents a recipe for what is ahead as the downtrodden rise up and eat the rich.  Maybe he’s right.  Maybe there’s no other way but somehow that doesn’t feel like victory to me.  If the best outcome possible is burning the world down to the ground then excuse me if I’m not particularly enthused.  I have to imagine we’re not so completely powerless that the only way we can have our way is to form a gigantic mob and sharpen up the guillotine.

The orgy of rioting that erupts in reaction to Arthur’s televised insanity is not a victory for anything.  Instead of representing some kind of independence movement it’s more like a scene from the French Revolution, from the Great Terror.

Joker is a tour de force by Phoenix.  He must have lost an awful lot of weight to appear as emaciated as he is in the film and he wrings an agonizing performance out of his soul and onto the screen.  It is painful to watch and leaves you somber at its conclusion.  And there is no catharsis because right up to the end there is no sense that anything has been resolved.  The Joker is just waiting for his next chance to kill and destroy whatever he can.  This is a movie for those who have a taste for darkness.  It’s well made.  But anyone looking for happily ever after, stay home.

Congratulations to the Dragon Award Winners

Special congratulations to Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen for their awards (list below).  Larry and Brad were charter members of the Sad Puppy movement and took an enormous amount of abuse from the sad pathetic people who game the Hugo Awards every year.  But based on the fate of Campbell Award this year I’m assuming it won’t be the Hugos for much longer but instead the Noras or the Samuels  or some other first name of an author who didn’t have the bad manners to be born a straight white man.

Larry championed the DragonCon’s fan popularity based Dragon Awards contest and it has since displaced the Hugos for all normal humans.  I’m a big fan of Larry’s Monster Hunter series because they’re great fun and because I’m hoping that Adam Baldwin will get the chance to play Agent Franks in the big screen version of the stories.  That would be awesome.

Destination Moon – An OCF Classic Movie Review

The 1950 motion picture Destination Moon is in several aspects an odd duck.  It was an independent production under George Pal’s control.  He worked with Robert A Heinlein to adapt his novel Rocket Ship Galileo into a screen play.  In point of fact the plot changes involved make the movie and the book completely different stories.  For Pal who would go on to make such sci-fi classics as War of the Worlds, The Time Machine and When Worlds Collide this was a chance to make a realistic space flight movie with Heinlein providing the scientific accuracy.

After a government project to build an advanced rocket motor is sabotaged and abandoned a plan is hatched to overcome the loss of government funding in rocket design by recruiting patriotic business leaders to pool their resources to pay for and build a Moon rocket.  General Thayer and Dr. Charles Cargraves were the moving force behind the earlier government project and Jim Barnes is the principal industrialist who uses his aircraft design facilities to build the atomic powered rocket.  Along with Joe Sweeney who provides radio and communication expertise (along with Brooklyn-accented comic relief) these men will be the crew to travel back and forth to the Moon.

When local bureaucracy threatens to tie up the launch in the courts, the team decides to launch immediately.  Just as the sheriffs are arriving to serve the launch injunction the crew is riding the elevator up to the cockpit.  The ship takes off and the crew gets to experience the pain of eight gee take off acceleration and the nausea associated with zero gravity conditions.  Shortly after taking off they discover the need to do a space walk to repair equipment.  One of the astronauts carelessly allows his magnetic boots to become separated from the ship’s hull while not holding onto his tether and begins floating away from the ship.  One of his mates has to use an oxygen cylinder as a makeshift rocket to rendezvous with the lost man and bring him back.

As the rocket approaches the Moon, errors in the navigation (or should I say astrogation) force the crew to expend to much reaction mass from the rocket to land in their planned destination.  Mission control on Earth begins calculating how much weight must be removed from the ship to balance the reduced capacity of the ship’s fuel load.

Meanwhile the crew investigates the Moon.  The first thing they do is claim the Moon for the United States (for the good of all mankind).  Using a Geiger counter General Thayer discovers large deposits of uranium.  Later on, one of the astronauts takes a picture of Joe Sweeney holding his arm up in such away that it looks like he is holding up Earth in the sky behind him.

The calculations on the fuel are distressing.  The ship has to be lightened by over a ton.  The crew starts removing everything that isn’t required to get the ship back to Earth.  But even after sawing off any metal components of the ship that can be removed, they’re still short by one hundred ten pounds.

Barnes, Cargraves and Thayer realize that someone has to stay behind and each one of them tries to convince the other two that he is the one to stay based on authority, age or responsibility.  Meanwhile Sweeney takes it upon himself to take the last space suit and leave the ship.  He tells them to leave without him.  But Barnes figures out a trick to get them below the weight limit.  With a rat-tailed file Sweeney puts a notch in the outer door frame of the air lock.  A heavy oxygen cylinder is hung outside the ship from a line that runs through the notch in the door.  With the door closed the airlock is pressurized with only a slow leak from the notch.  Then Sweeney ties the space suit to the other end of the line.  Once Sweeney reenters the ship the outer door is opened and the weight of the cylinder drags the space suit out the door.  Then the ship launches back to Earth.

And the movie ends with the words THE END followed by “of the Beginning.”

Destination Moon is a landmark.  It is the first reasonably accurate portrayal of actual space flight.  Coming nineteen years before Apollo 11 it is remarkably realistic.  Now as cinema it definitely isn’t King Lear or even King Kong but it’s excellent propaganda for a space program.  And it does contain all the correct tropes of the time.  If you are a sci-fi fan this movie is a must see.

Plan 9 from Outer Space – A Science Fiction Movie Review

War Pig has staked out the schlock sci-fi movie review corner but I hope he won’t mind if I try my hand at the grand daddy of all bad sci fi movies.

Summarizing the plot of Plan 9 is absurd.  Aliens have become alarmed by Earth’s increasingly powerful weapons and try to contact us to warn us of our danger.  But allegedly, we refuse to acknowledge they are even there so they proceeded to attack us.  But the first eight plans are ineffective so that leads to “Plan 9,” namely, resurrecting the dead.  Now the resurrected dead are murdering the citizenry and generally causing trouble.  Finally, the police, an army officer and an airline pilot join forces to find the alien space craft and destroy it.

Yes, the plot is idiotic but that is the least ridiculous aspect of this movie.  Everything about this movie fairly screams mental illness.  The movie begins with an invocation by the Narrator, Criswell.  Criswell appears to be a lunatic with his bizarre vocal delivery, oddly jelled hair and bedazzled tuxedo.  He tells us this is based on a true story and the guilty will be punished and the innocent rewarded, whatever that means.

In the next scene we see what looks like amateur footage of a frail looking Bela Lugosi attending a burial.  Then he is killed (off camera by a car crash sound effect).  This was necessary because this was all the footage of Lugosi they had.  He died before the movie was made and the producer/director/writer/editor, Ed Wood used this existing footage to allow Lugosi’s name to be tacked on the film.  Now Lugosi and his pre-deceased wife (Vampira) rise from the dead and start attacking the living.  But the fact that Lugosi was really dead meant that someone else had to portray “the Old Man.”  Luckily Ed Wood’s wife’s chiropractor, Tom Mason was available.  The fact that he was a foot taller, years younger and looked nothing like Lugosi was easily overcome by having Mason stoop over, and hold his Dracula cape in front of his face during all his scenes.

Vampira is a hoot with her wide-eyed stare, stiff armed zombie shamble and divided cleavage get-up.  Eventually when gigantic wrestler Tor Johnson is killed by Vampira and zombified he joins the other two ghouls as they stalk the living and stumble around the set.

One of my favorite scenes is where the flying saucers make their appearance.  Jeff Trent is an airline pilot.  He and his copilot are in the cockpit (or actually in a room with a curtain over the door).  They’re sitting on folding chairs and instead of the control yoke in front of him, each man has a piece of wood shaped like nothing in particular sticking out of the floor.  When they look out the window, we see three flying saucers that are pretty obviously wobbling on strings.

When the army counter attacks against these alien craft, we get to see a man in a military uniform, standing in a room, looking through binoculars as stock WW II footage of a rocket launcher unloads on something.  Now the flying saucers head back to their space station where the aliens provide an update to their leader.  And we find out about the earthlings’ bad manners in not acknowledging that the aliens even exist.

I won’t go into all the absurdities that crowd the whole length of this dopey masterpiece of schlock but I’ll cut to the climax.  The heroes enter the flying saucer and interrogate the saucer captain Eros and he tells them that the reason that he is killing earthlings is because “you’re stupid, stupid!”  So, he gets in a shouting match with Jeff Trent and eventually a fist fight.  And when Trent punches Eros and he bumps into a table with what looks like the guts of a 1930s vacuum tube radio on it, the radio bursts into flames and eventually burns the saucer and causes it to explode.  Now we return to Criswell who tells us what we’ve seen is based on fact but follows up by saying, “Can you prove it didn’t happen?”

Ed Wood must have known how awful this movie was but you can see that he lavished loving attention on some of the details like the credits.  The acting is abysmal when it isn’t non-existent.  The special effects are what you’d expect from a grammar school film maker.  Basically, this is a freak show.  But I have to confess that I can watch this about once every five years and enjoy it.  I recommend that every fan of 1950s science fiction movies watch it at least once in his life.

The Best Years of Our Lives – An OCF Classic Movie Review

Nineteen Forty Six was a pivotal year in the American Century.  The United States had won World War II by harnessing the minds and bodies of its people and focusing that output single-mindedly on victory on the battlefield.  It had required all its young men to drop their lives and join the most powerful fighting machine ever assembled.  But equally extreme was the disruption that this mobilization had on the rest of the population.  The industrial capacity of the country was shifted over from producing cars and clothes for the populace to producing battleships, tanks, munitions and supplies needed to maintain millions of men across a far-flung battle field that spanned the globe.

And those industries had to produce this war-time materiel with almost none of their regular workers.  They had to train women and older men to take the places of their husbands, sons and fathers.  Other disruptions existed because of the male deployment.  Marriage and family growth were often postponed until after the war.  But equally disruptive were the last minute marriages and even conceptions that were consummated in defiance of the war’s demands.  Many a young woman had to raise a posthumous child to a father who would never return to his family.

But finally the war was over.  By dint of the effort of millions and with the help of a couple of atomic bombs the war was won and done.  Now these millions of soldiers. sailors, airmen and marines were returning home to their families and friends.  But in many ways, the returning men were strangers in a strange land.  They were changed and so was the country.  Whereas, for the last four years, they had been the focus of all that went on, now they were being deposited back in the country to try and restart their lives where they left off.  But things were not where they left off.  The jobs they had had before their enlistments were either being done by someone else or didn’t even exist anymore.  And the meager but regular paychecks they got from Uncle Sam would soon disappear.

And finally, many of these men were physically or mentally wounded.  In addition to the injured and maimed a great number of them were victims of what today we call PTSD.  The experiences they had lived through had left a mark on their minds that only time might heal.  The ones that had lost limbs had the added physical and psychological difficulties associated with these losses.

The Best Years of Our Lives was a movie that ambitiously attempted to portray and speak to these realities.  And this was an innovation for the times.  Up until this point Hollywood portrayed America’s wartime experience through a patriotic lens that glossed over many of the harsh realities that existed.  But this movie cast a veteran who had lost his hands in the war (Harold Russell) as Sailor Homer Parrish one of the returning servicemen.  The realities of divorces and unemployment and the depression associated with the alienation and various disruptions impacting the former GIs are openly addressed and nothing is glossed over for the sake of sparing the audience.

Frederic March and Dana Andrews along with the above-mentioned Harold Russel are the protagonists.  They meet on the airplane ride back to their home town of Boone City and the three men bond over the relief and anxiety associated with leaving the service and returning to civilian life.  March is a forty-something infantry sergeant named Al Stephenson and Andrews is Army Air Corps Captain Fred Derry.  But whereas Captain Derry was a highly paid officer and a gentleman in the service he returns home with his only civilian work experience being a soda jerk at the local drug store.  Alternatively, Stephenson trades in his infantry grunt existence for the comfortable lifestyle of a bank officer.  Homer Parrish returns home to the pity and awkward glances from friends and family associated with his missing hands.

Al Stephenson reintroduces himself to his wife Milly and his son and daughter.  Milly (played by Myrna Loy) tries to make Al feel at home but they both are ill at ease trying to take up their relationship where it left off.  Finally, nervous about heading to bed early he drags Milly and daughter Peggy off to the local watering holes to drink away his nerves with scotch.

Meanwhile Fred Derry reaches his father’s home to discover that his young wife Marie has moved out into her own apartment downtown and is working as a cocktail waitress in a night club.  He heads out trying to find out what night club Marie is working at.

And finally, Homer is home with his and his girlfriend’s families celebrating his return and talking about his future.  But he becomes so unhappy with the tense and nervous atmosphere that he leaves to hang out at his Uncle Butch’s bar.

And so, all three ex-servicemen coincidentally meet up at Butch’s Place.  And there we see Al and Fred get royally drunk to distract themselves from their domestic issues.  And in this impaired condition Fred flirts mildly with Peggy Stephenson.  Finally, Butch tells Homer his family wants him home and Milly and Peggy manage to drag Al and Fred into the car and after Fred fails to gain entry into Marie’s apartment building, they drive both men back to the Stephenson apartment where the fall-down-drunk men are bedded down.  During the night Peggy hears Fred Derry crying out.  He was reliving a nightmare where some of his comrades were shot out of the air.  The next morning, he apologizes for waking her and she sympathetically assures him that she didn’t mind.  Peggy gives Fred a lift to his wife’s building and this time he gets in.  Now we meet Marie.  Fred married a very beautiful woman (played by Virginia Mayo) whom he had only known for days when he was deployed to Europe.  Now we see that Marie is a selfish, materialistic woman who expects to be supported in the style she has been accustomed to as a night club denizen.  While Fred has a thousand-dollar severance payment from the service they live it up.  But when the money runs out the couple begin to battle over Marie’s dissatisfaction.

Meanwhile Al and Milly reconnect and talk about their children and Al’s future with the bank he left when he enlisted.  Al tells Milly that he feels responsible to help all the other veterans who didn’t come home to a good job and need some help to get their lives back on track.  He uses his position as a loan officer to help fellow veterans who need GI loans to try to catch up with the new world they find themselves in.  This puts him at odds with the bank president but Al perseveres to champion his fellow vets.

At Homer Parrish’s house we meet Homer’s sweetheart Wilma and find that although she is demonstrably in love with Homer, he is withdrawn and morose.  She asks him why he hasn’t asked her to marry him.  But he tells her he doesn’t want to ruin her life by tying her down to a helpless cripple.  Homer is so unhappy that he explodes in frustration when he thinks his little sister and her friends are gawking in a window at his prosthetic hands.  Finally, Wilma tells Homer that her parents want her to leave town to forget him but she wants him to marry her.  Homer decides to let her see just how helpless he is when he removes his prostheses.  But instead of recoiling from his injuries she embraces him and proves to him that she wants to be with him.  They set the date for their wedding.

An additional story line involves a romantic attachment that grows between Fred Derry and Peggy Stephenson.  When Al finds out about his daughter’s romance with the married Fred, he angrily confronts him for involving his daughter in an extra-marital affair and Fred stoically agrees to break it off.  But even with Peggy out of the picture Fred and Marie fall apart and he leaves home while she declares her intention to get a divorce.  When he leaves, he intends to leave town and start his life over somewhere else.  But while waiting for a flight at the airport he roams through the warplane graveyard and climbs into a bomber.  While reliving some disturbing memory from the war he is discovered by a man who is reclaiming the old planes for construction scrap materials and is told to get out of the plane.  Fred asks if he has any jobs available and manages to convince the man that he is a good prospect and so Fred restarts his life again in his home town.

Now the three ex-servicemen meet up at Homer’s wedding where Al, Milly and Peggy are friends of the groom and Fred is the best man.  Now that Fred is no longer married, he and Al no longer have a reason for fighting and at the end of the night Fred and Peggy come back together and decide to marry.

 

Back in 1946 when winning an Academy Award actually meant the movie was good, The Best Years of Our Lives was competing against It’s a Wonderful Life.  And I think The Best Years of Our Lives won because America needed to move beyond the simplified vision of life represented by It’s a Wonderful Life and recognize the harsh realities and ugly side to life that came along with the changes that the war generated such as the liberation of women and the choice of some of them to embrace a life style that did not value a traditional family role.  But acknowledging the problems facing the returning vets made this movie resonate with the American people.

In my opinion it is one of the best films ever made.  The acting by March and Loy is exceptional and Andrews, Russell and several other players are also excellent.  It captures the feeling of the time and who the American people were back then.

After you’ve read enough sexbot articles on Drudge maybe switch to something interesting

Guest Contributor – War Pig – The Killer Shrews – A Science Fiction Movie Review

Killer Shrews: Schlock at its finest. Poor special effects, hackneyed plot and ham acting. They used hand puppets of the giant killer shrews for up-close shots. They looked like an oversize stuffed mouse with chopstick fangs glued in and black ping pong balls for eyes. For action sequences, they used coon hounds with carpet and fur attached to them and never shot them close up. The coon hound shrews supposedly ate the token Black man in the movie, which would be protested today.

 

The premise is that a Swedish scientist was working on the then threatened coming food apocalypse. He had a Hispanic servant (Alfredo de Soto; more racist tokenism), a cowardly assistant (played by Gunsmoke’s Festus, Ken Curtis, who was an investor in the film and also a fine western actor and amazingly good singer), a beautiful Swedish daughter (played by the attractive Swedish actress Ingrid Goude) and an American assistant scientist played by Gordon McLendon. They are on an isolated island somewhere in the Atlantic hurricane zone so they can be left alone, especially by federal inspectors. James Best (most famous for playing Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrain on Dukes of Hazzard) plays the captain of the small motor ship bringing them supplies. With him is the faithful Black actor Judge Henry Dupree who is his first mate and apparently engineer, playing the character Rook.

 

A hurricane is approaching, so they have to anchor in the protected harbor and wait it out before unloading. The captain goes ashore to meet with the scientists while Rook runs extra anchors and has to tie the boat to a tree ashore. The captain is met by Ken Curtis’ character who is armed and takes him to the residence. There he is told what all is happening, that the experiment went astray and they accidentally created giant killer shrews who must eat their body weight daily to survive, that other animal food is running out, that the shrews are mostly nocturnal and that they will eat humans with gusto.

 

Poor Rook is chased and run up a tree by the coon hound shrews and the effects are so poor you can see the lines pulling the tree down supposedly under Rook’s impressive weight to his doom of being eaten alive. The shrews then surround the residence like the Little Big Horn and try to get in to eat the humans. They dig through the adobe walls and have to be shot or burned. One grazes the assistant scientist’s leg and they therefore find out that the shrews are also deadly venomous, as he dies shortly thereafter. The Hispanic servant also dies from a shrew bite. The shrews make a very distinctive noise that sounds something like “aaawk-ch-ch-ch!”. The shrews are also enthusiastically cannibalistic and will eat any form of meat, including each other, to quell their ravenous appetites.

 

The surviving humans decide they must escape and create a human-powered tank made of barrels roped together. Ken Curtis refuses as he is deathly afraid of the shrews and stays behind. Creeping in the tank the Captain, the Scientist and his lovely daughter make it, barely, to the water where the shrews, who cannot swim, leave them and go back to eat Ken Curtis who, instead of camping out on the roof and safe for a couple of days until the shrews turn on each other, stupidly tried to run off through the woods and he suffers Rook’s fate. As the shrews take him down he screams like a 12 year old girl with a spider on her face. The survivors swim to the motor launch and the Scientist declares; “In twenty-four hours there will be only one shrew left on the island, and he will die of starvation.”

 

This movie and it’s double feature The Giant Gila Monster made a surprising amount of money on the drive-in circuit. Although they were both low budget and schlocky even for 1959, I enjoyed the two movies at the drive-in. An amazing fact is that James Best reprises his role as the captain in the remake “Return of the Killer Shrews” in 2012, which was mostly a mockumentary of the original with even worse special effects and played for laughs. I am probably one of the very few people who have seen both movies. It is also a break of 53 years between the original and the sequel. Has to be some kind of record.

Blade Runner 2049 – A Science Fiction Movie Review

I saw Blade Runner in 1982.  It was a dystopic sci-fi story based on a Philip K Dick story, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”  Harrison Ford is a cop named Rick Deckard whose job is to terminate runaway androids (replicants), he’s called a blade runner.  The movie was constructed as a film noir with Deckard in love with a woman that he knows to be a replicant.  The movie is full of dark violent imagery.  And the story has at its core the concept of the inherent dignity of all human life and the injustice of denying anyone freedom.  And Rutger Hauer was a lot of fun running amok as a brilliant homicidal replicant named Roy Batty.

Since this is Orion’s Cold Fire, I feel it is necessary to record here Roy’s final speech before dying:

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears…in…rain. Time to die.”  It’s effective, both dramatically and emotionally.  In point of fact it’s the best thing in the movie.

Blade Runner 2049 is the sequel to this movie.  It’s about thirty years after the first movie and K (played by Ryan Gosling) is a replicant who works for the Los Angeles police department as a blade runner.  While terminating a rogue replicant he detects a body buried under a tree on the replicant’s farm.  Forensic evidence points to the body belonging to the replicant that Deckard ran away with at the end of the first movie.  And the forensics shows that she gave birth to a child.  This is supposed to be impossible and so frightens the law enforcement establishment that they order K to find the child and terminate it and destroy all evidence of its existence.

But based on evidence associated with the child in K’s search he begins to believe that he is that child.  Because of the usefulness and efficiency of having replicants fertile, Niander Wallace, the wealthy, brilliant and evil CEO of the replicant manufacturing corporation wants to find the child in order to learn the secret of its ability.

This scenario sparks all manner of fights and chases and clues are found and people are hunted down.  Eventually K finds the woman who delivers the child and learns he is not the child.  He finds Deckard (reprised by Ford) and reunites him with his daughter.

I thought it was an awful movie.  It was full of off-putting action, boring and confusing dialog and unsympathetic characters.  Even as science fiction it didn’t make any sense.  We can currently read the entire genome of any human being.  How could it be possible for a future world that could produce synthetic humans not be able to make them fertile.  Also, since as we learned in the first movie, these replicants were born adult and only lived a few short years, how could having them gestate other replicants make any sense?  They would be born infants and take twenty years to mature.  Or even if in the meantime replicants now lived longer why were humanoid slaves needed at all?  The advances in artificial intelligence showcased in the movie made the need for android slaves nonsensical.

But honestly, all that is beside the point.  The movie was terrible.