Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Klaus, Sep 27, 2011.
Your explanations make it no less curious.
Does anyone know if TCM will be showing the old Lon Chaney Phantom of the Opera movie again anytime?
It is scheduled for October 4, 12:45 am Eastern. If you enter a movie title in the search box on the TCM website, it will list scheduled air times at the top of the page right below the movie's title.
I'm in Canada, hope it's the same schedule here.
...the actor playing Bats in this serial looks like the love child of Raymond Burr and Victor Mature.
I just watched The Invisible Kid, Robby the Robot's followup movie. It's a bizarrely inconsistent movie tonally. The first half is a rather dull comedy about a whiny brat of a kid with a cold, distant, authoritarian father and the antics he gets into with the superscience Robby provides. Then the title character disappears (from the narrative, not just from view) for most of the rest of the film, and it becomes a solemn thriller about a sentient computer taking over minds and pursuing a plan of world domination, with Robby as his reprogrammed slave. It's quite the bait-and-switch. I'm not sure either half works very well, but for me, the first half was the lamer one. Although the second half had its problems; for instance, I don't see how the kid flipping one switch in Robby's chest up in a rocket somehow caused the evil computer to shut down back on Earth.
The tie-in to Forbidden Planet is still indirect, but not as throwaway as I'd been led to believe. Robby is found disassembled in the laboratory of the late Professor Greenhill, who claimed to have built a time machine and who has a photo of Robby disembarking from a starship at Chicago Spaceport in 2309 -- which is consistent with the evidence that Forbidden Planet took place sometime in the 23rd century, though the novelization of that film puts it in 2371. So implicitly, that starship was the C57-D bringing Robby back to Earth (which would put FP in 2299, since it's a 10-year trip), and the time-traveling Professor Greenhill found Robby there and brought him back to the latter 20th century (since TIB seems to be in an unspecified near future). But the annoying kid has a line about how a time traveler bringing knowledge back from the future would change the present, so I suppose that implies that TIB is an alternate timeline that branched off of the Forbidden Planet universe (or eradicated it, perhaps, but there are enough reasons to dislike the movie as it is).
I found the kid, played by Richard Eyer, to be really annoying, but I guess that's more the fault of the script than the actor, since Eyer was okay as the genie in The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. The father was played underwhelmingly by Philip Abbott, whom I know mainly as the voice of Nick Fury in the '90s Iron Man and Spider-Man cartoons.
Sadly, this was Robby the Robot's last starring role. The rest of his career would be TV guest appearances and movie cameos, generally as other characters. Way to go, The Invisible Boy, you ruined his feature career.
LOL! I have this Bat Serial on DVD. The camera work, lighting etc. are done very well. The serial looks as if it could have been filmed yesterday. Quality serial.
I just watched that Kerwin Matthews-Tina Louise movie, The Warrior Empress. The English title is completely misleading -- there is no empress in the film, warrior or otherwise. Its actual title was Saffo -- Venere di Lesbo (Sappho -- Venus of Lesbos), which is a much better fit. It's very, very, very loosely based on the poet Sappho of Lesbos and a couple of her historical contemporaries, but adjusted to fit the format of your standard sword-and-sandal love story/war epic. Not a particularly noteworthy entry in the genre, although the comic-relief, oddly sympathetic characterization of the tyrannical king of Mytilene was a high point. Oddly, TCM showed a pan-and-scanned, choppily edited edition of the film; I guess the original widescreen version must have been lost.
And being a 1960 film, there isn't really anything sapphic about its portrayal of Sappho. The closest it comes to acknowledging lesbianism is to include a "man-hating" bad-girl character (raven-haired, of course) who has been a "very close friend" to Sappho in the past and is jealous of the man Sappho falls in love with, doing nasty things to try to break them apart.
I wasn't impressed with Tina Louise's performance at first, but she got better once she was called upon to play more intense scenes. She certainly looked fantastic. (Interestingly, her voice here reminded me of Nichelle Nichols.) All in all, this is very much the kind of movie one would've expected Ginger Grant to have starred in before she went on that three-hour tour. If nothing else, the whole thing is set on an island. And there is, in fact, a scene in the movie where the weather starts getting rough, a ship is tossed, and the courage of the fearless crew keeps it from being lost.
I recorded it, looking forward to checking it out even if as a lark...
Trying not to be late this time... Here's October.
4:15 AM: The Adventures of Prince Achmed ('27): The silent cutout-animation epic again.
FRI 10/2 - SAT 10/3: Haunted-house marathon. I think these have all shown up in this list before:
8:00 PM: Two on a Guillotine ('65)
10:00 PM: House on Haunted Hill ('58)
11:30 PM: The Haunting ('63)
1:30 AM: The House of Seven Corpses ('74)
3:30 AM: House of Dark Shadows ('70)
10:00 AM: Batman and Robin Chapter 9 ('49)
2:15 PM: The 7th Voyage of Sinbad ('58)
4:00 PM: Beneath the Planet of the Apes ('70)
5:45 PM: 2010 ('84): Aww, it's too bad there isn't a 2010 film version of Nineteen Eighty-Four to provide symmetry.
2:15 AM: Rattlers ('76): Snake-attack horror movie.
3:45 AM: The Swarm ('78): Killer-bee horror movie.
12:45 AM: The Phantom of the Opera ('25): Silent Lon Chaney classic.
6:30 PM: Topper Takes a Trip ('39): Ghost-comedy sequel.
FRI 10/9 - SAT 10/10: "Rogue Body Parts" marathon focusing on mad surgery and disembodied organs.
8:00 PM: Mad Love ('35): Peter Lorre "murderer's hand transplant" story.
9:30 PM: The Beast with Five Fingers ('46): This time it's a murder victim's disembodied hand seeking vengeance.
11:15 PM: Hands of a Stranger ('62): Very similar premise to Mad Love. Apparently all three of these films are inspired to a greater or lesser degree by a story called The Hands of Orlac.
1:00 AM: The Brain That Wouldn't Die ('62): AKA The Head That Wouldn't Die, aka Mike Nelson's first experiment on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
2:30 AM: Corruption ('68): Peter Cushing as mad doctor killing women for body parts to restore his disfigured girlfriend.
4:15 AM: Eyes Without a Face ('59): Much the same premise, with faces instead of body parts.
10:00 AM: Batman and Robin Ch. 10.
11:45 AM: X the Unknown ('56): We've seen this Quatermass-esque British picture on TCM before.
12:30 AM: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ('20): The silent version with John Barrymore, for a change (no pun intended).
WED 10/14 - THU 10/15: "Robert Osborne's Picks" marathon, including two consecutive and very different starring roles for Malcolm McDowell:
10:00 PM: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir ('47)
Midnight: A Clockwork Orange ('71)
2:30 AM: Time After Time ('79)
4:30 AM: Hands of the Ripper ('71)
FRI 10/16 - SAT 10/17: "Scary Kids" marathon:
8:00 PM: The Nanny ('65): With Bette Davis.
9:45 PM: The Bad Seed ('56)
Midnight: Children of the Damned ('64), the loose sequel to:
1:45 AM: Village of the Damned ('61): Why does TCM so often show movies in reverse order?
3:15 AM: The Curse of the Cat People ('44): Speaking of loose sequels.
4:30 AM: Valerie and Her Week of Wonders ('70): Surrealist Czech fantasy/dream film.
10:00 AM: Batman and Robin Ch. 11.
4:15 AM: Heavy Metal ('81)
And a couple of silent films that aren't exactly genre but might be of interest, since both were lost until recently:
8:00 PM (and 11:45 PM): The Grim Game ('19): Starring Harry Houdini, with a plot built around his escape stunts.
9:30 PM: Sherlock Holmes (1916): Feature-length adaptation of William Gillette's Holmes stage play, starring Gillette himself, the first actor ever to play Holmes.
8:00 PM: Around the World in 80 Days ('56)
3:30 PM: Brigadoon ('54)
FRI 10/23 - SAT 10/24: "Literary Horror" marathon.
8:00 PM: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ('41, alas)
10:30 PM: The Hunchback of Notre Dame ('39): The Charles Laughton version.
12:45 AM: The Fall of the House of Usher ('49)
2:00 AM: The Picture of Dorian Gray ('45)
4:00 AM: The Curse of Frankenstein ('57): First Hammer Frankenstein.
10:00 AM: Batman and Robin Ch. 12.
6:15 AM: Eye of the Devil ('66): Occult horror with Deborah Kerr, David Niven,and Donald Pleasence.
WED 10/28 - THU 10/29: "Treasures from the Disney Vault" marathon:
8:00 PM: Three cartoon variations on the same fairy tale: The Three Little Pigs ('48), Three Little Wolves ('36), and The Big Bad Wolf ('34).
8:45 PM: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad ('49): Apparently a 2-part film adapting both The Wind in the Willows and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Odd combination.
10:00 PM: The Old Mill ('37): Another Silly Symphonies cartoon.
10:15 PM: Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color: The Plausible Impossible: Walt explaining animation.
11:15 PM: Escape to Witch Mountain ('75): Eddie Albert-Ray Milland sci-fi picture I remember from my childhood. Starring vehicle for child actor Ike Eisenmann, who would go on to get bloodily killed in The Wrath of Khan.
1:00 AM: Lonesome Ghosts ('37): Mickey Mouse, ghostbuster.
1:15 AM: Frankenweenie ('84): The original Tim Burton stop-motion short.
2:00 AM: Mr. Boogedy ('86): Made-for-TV Disney Sunday Movie.
3:00 AM: The Ghosts of Buxley Hall ('80): Another made-for-TV Disney fantasy.
5:00 AM: Return from Witch Mountain ('78): Sequel to above, with Bette Davis and Christopher Lee.
7:45 AM: Freaks ('32)
9:15 AM: The Devil-Doll ('36): Mad scientist shrinks victims. With Lionel Barrymore and Maureen O'Sullivan.
10:45 AM: House on Haunted Hill again.
12:15 PM: Macabre ('58): William Castle thriller.
5:30 PM: A Bucket of Blood ('59): Roger Corman-directed star turn for Dick Miller.
6:45 PM: Little Shop of Horrors ('60): The Corman original.
FRI 10/30: Hammer horror marathon. Lots of Cushing and Lee.
8:15 AM: The Mummy ('59)
9:45 AM: Dracula, Prince of Darkness ('66)
11:30 AM: Frankenstein Created Woman ('67)
1:15 PM: Dracula Has Risen From the Grave ('69)
3:00 PM: Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed! ('69)
4:45 PM: Crescendo ('72): An incongruous inclusion -- from Hammer, but a psychological thriller with no Cushing, Lee, or monsters.
6:15 PM: Dracula A.D. 1972 ('72): That's more like it.
FRI 10/30 - SAT 10/31: Val Lewton horror marathon picking up right after the Hammer marathon.
8:00 PM: Cat People ('42)
9:30 PM: Martin Scorsese Presents, Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows (2007): Documentary.
11:00 PM: The Seventh Victim ('43)
12:15 AM: The Leopard Man ('43)
1:30 AM: The Ghost Ship ('43)
2:45 AM: The Body Snatcher ('45): Robert Wise directs Karloff and Lugosi!
4:15 AM: Isle of the Dead ('45)
5:30 AM: Bedlam ('46): Karloff as head of the infamous mental asylum.
SAT 10/31: And we get another bunch of horror films straight through the day. It's a marathon of marathons!
7:00 AM: Doctor X ('32)
8:30 AM: White Zombie ('32): With Lugosi.
9:45 AM: Dementia 13 ('63)
11:15 AM: The Fearless Vampire Killers ('66)
1:15 PM: Homicidal ('61): First of three consecutive William Castle films, followed by:
3:00 PM: The Tingler ('59)
4:30 PM: House of Wax ('53)
6:15 PM: The Devil's Bride ('68)
SAT 10/31 - SUN 11/1: "Happy Halloween" marathon... whew.
8:00 PM: The Picture of Dorian Gray again.
10:00 PM: Curse of the Demon ('58): Jacques Tourneur devil-worship film.
11:30 PM: Dead of Night ('45): Horror anthology.
1:30 AM: Mark of the Vampire ('35): With Barrymore and Lugosi.
2:45 AM: An hour of weird-sounding David Lynch shorts from the '60s and '70s.
3:45 AM: DumbLand (2002): A newer series of David Lynch Internet cartoons.
Damn, I missed the Sherlock Holmes silent film.
I actually toured William Gillette's former home, Gillette Castle, when I was a kid visiting relatives in Connecticut.
He must have been an interesting person, having taken the role of Sherlock to heart in his life. He built the castle with hidden rooms, a mirror system that allowed him to see into common areas from his bedroom and a real ride-able mini steam train that ran around the property.
Aw, I forgot about Sherlock Holmes. And I wanted to see Houdini, too. Fingers crossed for On Demand.
That sounds cool.
I saw the Houdini film. As one would expect, the story was mostly contrived to get Houdini's character into various sets of chains and traps that he'd have to escape from, though it was never adequately explained why his reporter character had such skills. But it culminated in a pretty spectacular aerial chase complete with an unplanned biplane collision that was caught on film and integrated into the story.
It was also evidently at the height of the yellow-journalism era, since its lead character had no qualms about faking a story to boost a newspaper's circulation. Indeed, his plan was to frame himself for murder and then reveal it as a hoax that his paper was in on, thereby somehow saving the paper. You'd think that would've destroyed the paper, if anyone gave a damn about credibility.
The movie had a newly composed score, and it got tiresome after a while, since it was mostly just a few stock cues repeating over the film without any attempt to fit them to the story or action, so you had things like thrilling action scenes accompanied by a gentle ditty. I watched most of the last half with the sound off, though they finally did kick in some more appropriate music for the climactic chase.
I started in on the Holmes film, whose restoration was based on the four-part serial version released in France, since that's what was available. I only got through the first "episode" before I got sleepy and let the DVR catch the rest. While it's historically intriguing to get to see this film, the only photographic record of Gillette's Holmes play being performed by its original cast, it's kind of frustrating to watch a silent-film version of a play, with only a few of its lines of dialogue being shown in the intertitles. Normally with a silent film, one can assume the actors are mostly improvising their lines and you aren't missing anything, but here I know for a fact that there's scripted dialogue I'm not getting to hear. At least the music is much better in this one than the Houdini one, since it's tailored to the action.
It's also hard to get a sense of Gillette's performance as Holmes without being able to hear his line delivery. He doesn't look as much like the standard image of Holmes as I would've expected, given that he created much of that image. Edward Fielding's Watson looks pretty dead-on, although he barely appears in the first episode.
Interestingly, at the start of the film there's a list of people who provided backing for the restoration project, and the names include Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat, and Sue Vertue, the creators and producer of Sherlock.
Gillette Castle is wonderfully odd and eccentric. Definitely worth checking out if you're ever in the vicinity.
For those who missed these two movies, they're not on On Demand, but they are available through the TCM app.
And I'm sure TCM will be rerunning the films in the future, because they helped back the restoration in exchange for the broadcast rights, at least for the Houdini film. And these are pretty big and important discoveries for cinephiles, historic films that were believed lost until last year. There's no way TCM is just going to show them once.
I finally got around to finishing the Sherlock Holmes silent film. I have to say, for all its historical importance, I don't think it works very well as a Holmes story. Far too little of the play's dialogue is included in the intertitles (although there's a surprising, isolated moment where a single line of dialogue appears as an actual subtitle, something I didn't think they could do in the silent era), so the story is simplified to the point of being hard to follow. We see the results of Holmes's deductions but don't see how he arrived at them. Also, Moriarty comes off as a very stupid and impulsive person, not a cunning criminal mastermind at all. And a lot of it was just people standing around talking about things we couldn't hear, which wasn't all that interesting. Adapting a stage play to silent film may have been a bad idea.
I did learn something, though, and it conflicts with something else I learned rather recently. I'd believed that, aside from the first two Basil Rathbone films, every screen adaptation of Sherlock Holmes prior to 1950 was set in the then-present day rather than being a period piece -- whereas everything after 1950 portrayed Holmes as a strictly Victorian/Edwardian character up until Sherlock came along. But the Gilette film is a period piece too -- it was made in 1916, but it's set in an age of gaslight and horse-drawn carriages. Presumably because it's adapting a play from 1899. But I'll have to add it to the short list of non-modernized Holmes adaptations pre-1950.
I gather from Wikipedia that the character of Billy, the young pageboy who assists Holmes, was created for the play and then introduced by Doyle into some of the later stories. I guess that might make Billy the first Jimmy Olsen or Harley Quinn -- the first character created for an adaptation and then folded into the canon.
Oh, one interesting stylistic detail I noted: They didn't seem to have the ability to zoom or dolly in with the camera, so when they wanted to close in from a wide shot to a narrower shot, they'd dissolve between the two setups. That's an unusual touch I don't think I've seen anywhere else.
Houdini's The Grim Game is now on On Demand.
4:30 AM: Twice Upon a Time ('83): Animated fantasy they've shown before.
6:00 PM: Time After Time ('79): Nicholas Meyer's time-travel classic with Malcolm McDowell's H.G. Wells vs. David Warner's Jack the Ripper.
8:00 PM: The Mouse that Roared ('59)
Midnight: It: The Terror From Beyond Space ('58)
10:00 AM: Batman and Robin ('49) Ch. 13
2:45 AM: 2001: A Space Odyssey ('68)
10:00 AM: Batman and Robin Ch. 14
2:15 AM: Abar, the First Black Superman ('77): Blaxploitation superhero film.
6:00 AM: One Million B.C. ('40)
7:15 AM: The Thief of Bagdad ('40)
2:15 PM: Mighty Joe Young ('49)
4:15 PM: Tom Thumb ('58): George Pal musical.
6:00 PM: The Time Machine ('60): More Pal.
11:30 AM: Topper Returns ('41)
Midnight: The Thief of Bagdad ('24): Original silent version with Douglas Fairbanks.
2:00 AM: Sinbad the Sailor ('47): With Fairbanks and Maureen O'Hara.
10:15 AM: Batman and Robin final chapter.
4:00 PM: The Incredible Mr. Limpet ('64)
6:00 AM: The Mask of Fu Manchu ('32): Start of a Boris Karloff marathon, though only a few are genre.
7:15 AM: The Walking Dead ('36): Yep, someone else used that title first.
Noon: The Body Snatcher ('45)
4:45 PM: Frankenstein 1970 ('58): Karloff plays Victor, not the monster.
6:30 PM: The Phantom Tollbooth ('69): Chuck Jones's adaptation of the classic children's book.
6:00 AM: Topper ('37)
FRI 11/27-SAT 11/28: "Fantasy Adventures" marathon.
8:00 PM: Jason and the Argonauts ('63)
10:00 PM: The Land That Time Forgot ('74)
11:45 PM: Lost Horizon ('37)
2:15 AM: The Thief of Bagdad ('40) again
4:15 AM: The Boy and the Pirates ('60): Modern boy transported magically to pirate times.
6:00 AM: One Million Years B.C. ('66)
9:15 AM: Dick Tracy ('45)
10:30 AM: Spook Busters ('46): Bowery Boys ghost-hunting comedy. Its working title was actually Ghost Busters!
Noon: The Poseidon Adventure ('72): Never sure whether to count this as genre, but what the heck.
6:15 PM: The Thing From Another World ('51)
Separate names with a comma.