TCM Genre movies schedule...

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Klaus, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Remember the Twilight Zone episode about the backyard bunker? When suburban neighbors turned on each other in fear of an impending apocalypse?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shelter_(The_Twilight_Zone)

    Or that other TZ ep where Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery regard each other with suspicion in a post-apocalyptic wasteland? Or what happened when the the Monsters were due on Maple Street?

    Not a lot of working together for the common good there.

    For better or for worse, the idea that the post-Bomb world would be a brutal, dog-eat-dog battle for survival is hardly a new one. These same issues were very much in the air back then . . . and with more reason.

    Like I said, I saw this movie plenty of times as a kid and took it at face value. The fifties and early sixties were not all "Leave to Beaver" and civics lessons. There was a lot of fear and paranoia . . . and legitimate worries about what would happen to the thin veneer of civilization when the bombs fell.

    "Panic in the Year Zero" was very much of its time.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But the difference is that Serling was critiquing the inhumanity of that behavior. Milland (who directed as well as starring) seemed to be endorsing it. That's what I mean -- it came off more as a how-to guide than a cautionary tale.
     
  3. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    It probably was. There was certainly plenty of that around, too. I don't remember details of Panic In The Year Zero at this point, but I remember not liking it much.
     
  4. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Possibly. I admit I haven't seen it in decades. But I never found it implausible that people were thinking that way back then.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's not what I meant. Of course there were people back then who thought that way. It just seemed that this movie came down a little too strongly on one side of the debate. It engaged the debate, having Milland's wife stand up for civilization and decency and having Milland doubt some of his own actions, but it seemed a little eager to insist that going to the worst extremes was the necessary and correct reaction in that situation.

    I don't know, maybe it was meant as a cautionary tale the same way as Twilight Zone's "The Shelter" and the like; maybe audiences were meant to be disturbed by the behavior of Milland's character, as I was. I guess in its own way it was trying to dramatize the ethical debate about pragmatic survival versus civilization. But it felt kind of heavy-handed and not as balanced as it could've been, since the wife's protests were always handily shot down by Milland's pragmatic arguments, and he just seemed to be presented as this wise authority figure who had all the answers, so that he came off as more of a mouthpiece for the filmmakers (or rather, director Milland himself lecturing the audience) than an ambiguous character. It didn't help that Ray Milland had such a domineering and cold persona as a rule. As I said, there were times he felt to me more like an abusive paranoid holding his family hostage than a heroic protagonist. Although I guess that's partly because husbands and fathers in the '50s were expected to be absolute authorities over their households. In that way and others, it plays differently to modern eyes than it probably did when it came out.
     
  6. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Bomb shelters often make good storm shelters, and during a riot, Millands character would have been justified. I get the point that was being made--rather in the same way the nut in the radio War of The Worlds was unstable.

    I posted elsewhere that I didn't get why folks made fun of "duck and cover"--we saw what happens to flash-curious folks who stood in front of windows at Chelyabinsk.

    Duck and cover works--it is what we use in tornado warnings
     
  7. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Hmm. One wonders how it would have played if the Milland role had been taken by Andy Griffith, Robert Young, or even Jimmy Stewart, as opposed to Milland, who was indeed often cast as a villain. (Although it should be noted that Milland was capable of playing more personable, sympathetic parts . . . as in The Univited .)

    And, yeah, I suspect that many fathers and husbands of that generation are going to come off as domineering and tyrannical to modern eyes. Darren Stevens, anyone?
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    There weren't any shelters here. They were out in the hills and small towns, driving toward a campsite, and trying to gather supplies. Milland's character's attitude was that they needed to retreat into isolation rather than help in the restoration of order.


    I thought we covered that. It wouldn't help if you were anywhere near ground zero, and the film is ludicrous because it implies that people would be completely safe afterward so long as they ducked and covered. Plus it lied in claiming that even a blanket or newspaper would protect against the bomb blast. It didn't even mention radiation or fallout. So even if the advice had some limited applicability, it was still presented very disingenuously if not outright deceptively. That's why it deserves ridicule.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2014
  9. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    I just saw Sleeper, the 1973 Woody Allen movie where he plays a guy who wakes up in 2173 after having been cryogenically frozen. I enjoyed it. It was played for comedy rather than scifi and that comedy ranged from silly to mildly amusing to laugh-out-loud funny. The social commentary was pretty decent. We got to see an overly regulated world where people lost some self-sufficiency due to too much convenience and comfort, something that's happening now. There was also a sex machine that was part gag and part commentary on how passion and human interaction has been lost. Then there was the underground movement that was trying to fight the system. The whole movie was reminiscent of Demolition Man. It even had it's Sandra Bullock in the form of a character named Luna, who I thought was quite the looker. To my surprise, she was played by Diane Keaton. I've never seen her in her younger years. She also reminded me of someone who I couldn't place. Then I realized it was Natalie Zea. I thought this was some of her best acting. She played someone who fit right into this future culture quite well and then hammed it up pretty good when things went in that direction.
     
  10. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    I don't know, but his other big '60s road show, The Sand Pebbles, has a very nice Jerry Goldsmith overture:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=uHKwg1uVOCk

    Keep in mind that the film was made at a time of low-yield weapons and small nuclear arsenals, before the Soviets even had an intercontinental-range bomber. And also at an early point in the understanding of radiation's biological effects. People were still using X-ray machines in shoe stores in 1951, and US service members were being assembled in large numbers to witness nuclear tests, unprotected. Many of the points in the film were valid for people outside a 1.5-2 mile radius. The newspaper thing wasn't said to be protection against blast, but burns. Which is actually good advice, silly as it sounds, as flash burns come from thermal radiation (uv/visible/ir) and can be blocked by fairly thin material (at enough distance that the paper doesn't ignite, of course). Not to mention avoiding blindness. (As an aside: USAF bomber pilots in the '50s were equipped with a pirate-style eye patch, so they wouldn't go blind in both eyes as they flew past other nuclear explosions on their way to the target, and could finish the bomb run with one good eye!)

    Parts of the film are absurd in tone, for sure. The Civil Defense man who puts the kid back on his bike like everything is OK: "Run along now, son! Say hello to you mother and tell her the atomic war has started!" Even so, the movie has had some reappraisals that don't dismiss it completely, including one in The Atlantic a few years ago:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/the-unexpected-return-of-duck-and-cover/68776/
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Hmm. Sort of a forerunner to the Asian-style sounds Goldsmith used in his Rambo and Gremlins soundtracks.


    Okay, maybe. But it just shows how naive people were about nuclear weapons at the time, so naturally it hasn't aged well.


    Hmm, interesting. So maybe the advice wasn't completely absurd. But the presentation, even if it was meant to avoid panicking the viewers, still feels like it's sugar-coating things and painting a dishonestly rosy picture.
     
  12. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    Another interesting thing... While Demolition Man had Taco Bell, Sleeper used McDonald's. So many parallels. I'm looking to see if Demolition Man was inspired by Sleeper but I can't find anything.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Probably just convergent evolution -- two films trying to do the same sort of thing (depict a comically dystopian future in this case) are likely to come up with some of the same ideas.
     
  14. Klaus

    Klaus Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Perry Mason and The Case of the Giant Lizard is on right now.... :D
     
  15. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    "Bailiff! Bailiff!"
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Just finished Pretty Maids All in a Row. It's exactly the kind of movie I would've expected Gene Roddenberry to write and produce given completely free rein -- totally obsessed with sex and the female body from beginning to end, and finally including the (relatively) full nudity that I bet he wished he could get away with on TV. It's very much a product of its time -- today there's probably no way a movie about a sexual-predator high-school teacher seducing his underage students could be played as a comedy, even a dark one. At least not one that painted him so sympathetically. It's trying to be about the sexual revolution, the way that the young generation doesn't have the sexual inhibitions of the old, but director Roger Vadim and Roddenberry seemed to interpret female sexual liberation mostly to mean that hot young girls were now happy to participate in being sexually objectified for men's gratification.

    Rock Hudson was his usual Rock Hudsony self for the most part, even though he was ultimately playing against his usual type. Telly Savalas did a good job as the homicide detective, two years before he first played Kojak. Keenan Wynn did a decent job as a really stupid local cop. Roddy McDowall was a bit wasted as a feckless principal, but I guess my inclination thanks to Lord Love a Duck is to expect him to be the featured psychopath in a dark high-school comedy. Angie Dickinson was okay as the main romantic interest, but since she didn't really have much of a character beyond being a sex object, I can't say that much about her. And John David Carson, who was nominally the sympathetic male lead as a sexually frustrated and shy teenager, was really kind of creepy and stalkerish, even more so than the guy who turned out to be the murderer.

    There were some familiar Star Trek faces here: James Doohan and William Campbell played Savalas's police underlings, and frequent Trek voiceover actor Bartell LaRue had an uncredited role as an newscaster (one that IMDb hasn't caught onto yet, but I recognized his face and voice). Roddenberry also brought Trek costume designer William Ware Theiss onboard the production. Although the most pleasant surprise for me was a supporting role for the stunning JoAnna Cameron, later to play the superheroine Isis on a Saturday morning show infinitely more wholesome than this movie. I have to admit to being very disappointed that she wasn't one of the actresses who had nude scenes in the movie, although she certainly showed off her spectacular legs to good effect.

    Surprisingly, TCM host Ben Mankiewicz's introduction and afterword made absolutely no mention of Roddenberry's involvement in this film. You'd think it would merit at least a footnote, given that it's Roddenberry's first feature film and the only non-Trek feature he was ever involved with.
     
  17. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    It really did seem to have what you would think of as the mark of Roddenberry on it. I felt like the message kind of alluded me though, it really seemed like it was trying to say something but I'm not sure what that is.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't think there was much of a message. As a black comedy, it was pretty much satisfied with rewarding characters' bad behavior.

    I was more puzzled by how the plot played out in the final act.
    How did the tape recording of Tiger fooling around with that girl lead Ponce to figure out that he was the killer? I don't see the connection.
     
  19. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    Just saw Pretty Maids All in a Row as well. I thought it was pretty risqué for 1971, yet tame in other ways since there were certain things you couldn't show back then. A teenage boy in the bathroom after some alone time with the hot teacher? Better have him counting sheep. ;)

    I liked the sexual nature of the movie but you're right Christopher, it does have a narrow view of sexual liberation. Some guys think that a liberated world would involve hot girls being more willing to make a move but in reality, it would also mean 300-pound men in chaps flaunting it and middle aged ladies going topless, and I don't think that the young male crowd would want that.

    I also saw a bit of Gene in something besides the sexual stuff. It was when Tiger was making a recording of how kids should learn as well as society in general. There was some of that modern Trek idealism in there.

    A few more fun facts and observations...

    - Telly Savalas had a small role but he was fantastic. He really had charisma and was probably the only thing that could distract me from the constant non-stop sex. Telly Savalas and sex. A good combo. That way, something always has your attention.

    - A student going to the guidance counsellor to talk about sex? I could never imagine such a thing when I was in high school.

    - A lot of the people involved in this movie are either dead or retired including John David Carson, who played the kid. He died in 2009.

    - As the closing credits were rolling, I noticed the name "Dawn Roddenberry". I looked her up and she's Gene's daughter. She played "Girl #1". She's currently 60. I didn't know he had a daughter.

    - JoAnna Cameron does indeed have a captivating beauty. And yes, those legs... She kind of reminded me of Peyton List. Actually, a lot of the girls reminded me of Peyton List. They just had that look.

    - JoAnna Cameron retired from acting. Oddly enough, her last acting role was in a movie called Swan Song. I looked into why she no longer acts and found the following which might be worth looking into...

     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    In retrospect, I'm surprised it didn't have a group nude scene in the girls' shower, or any kind of voyeurism scene, like a number of sex comedies from later years. But this was, I gather, one of the first MPAA-era American movies with nudity, so maybe certain tropes hadn't emerged yet.


    Well, aside from the part about how it seemed we were inexorably racing toward Armageddon. But yeah, maybe somewhat.

    Mostly, though, I think that aside from
    the serial killing,
    Tiger may have been the closest thing we've ever seen to a self-portrait of Gene Roddenberry -- totally in love with his wife and kid, yet able to effortlessly attract other women and not hesitating to take advantage of the fact as often as he could, and seeing no conflict there.


    I'm not sure I buy that. There were eight actresses listed in the opening credits as "The Pretty Maids," and only five of them had nude scenes, sometimes quite brief (Aimée Eccles is only seen from the side/rear for about five seconds). Although I guess it's possible that a couple of nude scenes were filmed but edited out for time. (I'm not counting Angie Dickinson's seminude scene face down on the bed or Barbara Leigh's bare-backed chessboard scene, since we're talking specifically about the "Maids.")

    Anyway, I don't see how that would've influenced Cameron's retirement from acting, for it was only 2 years into her 11-year acting career and she did a lot more work after this movie than before it (most notably Isis). And it's interesting to note that she co-starred with Rock Hudson again in a 1977 McMillan & Wife episode.