Warner Archive Releases #2: Camp Edition

I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958) I Married a Monster from Outer Space one of the quintessential 1950s scifi B-movies, a fun and suspenseful story with a lot of potential readings to be had, everything from Communist paranoia to feminism to repressed hetero- and homosexuality. Though it came late in the 1950s scifi cycle, it was popular enough to be influential; much of the overall aesthetic was stolen by Teenagers from Outer Space, for example. But it never took itself too seriously, which is one of the reasons I Married a Monster remains so much fun even today. The promotional material alone shows the production was attempting deliberate camp, but rather than go full-on She-Creature with “the mammary monster” and sweaters three sizes too small, I Married a Monster more closely resembles the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It’s quiet, subtle, scary, and even touching at times. IMaMfOS was featured on SBBN a few years ago here, an article that goes more deeply into the film, but there are spoilers, so be warned. That was a post written after viewing copy grabbed off of TCM, but the screen grabs in this post are from the Warner Archives DVD, and you can see they’re much better quality. Thus far, all of the Warner Archive MOD DVDs have been nice prints. There are no special features, but this disc has subtitles in English. *** The Carpetbaggers (1964) My friends, if you really enjoy soap opera kitsch, The Carpetbaggers is … Continue reading

The Monster and the Ape #6: Professor In Disguise (With Glasses)

The Monster and the Ape #6 A Fiend in Disguise Last week, I tweeted my usual announcement of the recap going live, calling the serial “The Monkey and the Ape,” in reference to my Chapter 4 recap where I complained that, with so little robot combined with so much gorilla, the serial might as well just take the “Monster” out of the title altogether. No one said anything, so I tweeted again, and still no reply. No one noticed! Or maybe this serial has sucked the soul out of everyone within a 100-internet-distance-unit radius, and if so… er, sorry, I guess. The story thus far: Prof. Arnold (Ralph Morgan) and a group of scientists, including Prof. Ernst (George MacReady), invent a robot powered by the fictitious but apparently awesome element Metalogen, which is derived from meteors that have survived the descent through Earth’s atmosphere. Almost immediately after demonstrating their magnificent robot to the press, a giant ape goes from house to house to car, killing all the inventors save Arnold and Ernst. We learn Ernst feels he’s the rightful sole creator of the robot, thus he and his henchmen and his enormous attention whore ape attempt to steal, at various times, the robot itself, the Metalogen, and/or the remote controller. Meanwhile, epic salesdink Ken Morgan (Robert Lowery) arrives to help Arnold by getting into a lot of fistfights, while Arnold’s daughter Babs (Carole Mathews) and his chauffeur-slash-butler Flash (Willie Best) interject a few things here and there, but why bother … Continue reading

Warner Archive Grab Bag #1: Gossett, Garner and More

The White Dawn (1974) In 1971, James Huston published The White Dawn: An Eskimo Saga, the story of three sailors from Massachusetts, lost at sea and rescued by native inhabitants of the Baffin Island area in 1896. In press releases of the day, accompanied by photos of Huston looking startlingly like Stewart Granger, Huston is praised for his “expertise” in the topic, having “lived with the Eskimo” for 12 years. It would take a 1990 Sports Illustrated article to fully flesh out those 12 years: Huston, a bon vivant who had studied art in Paris, decided to travel to the Baffin Island area in the late 1940s, with the idea to sketch wildlife and the native inhabitants. Once there, he would trade his own art for their carvings, then submit them to the Canadian Handicrafts Guild who put on a show; curiously, it appears the Inuit themselves were not involved in this gallery exhibition. From Houston’s novel came the 1974 film directed by Philip Kaufman, which, given the details of the book, surprisingly treats the Inuit with respect. It’s part culture clash, part cautionary tale, part indictment of the casual colonialism our Western society is based on. In The White Dawn, white interlopers attempt to bring their own supposedly superior culture to the native inhabitants, assuming their sports, art, living arrangements and such were the product of savages. Though Kaufman provides a commentary and introduction to the film on the Warner Archive release, it’s unclear whether he realized the irony … Continue reading

The Monster and the Ape #5: Big Rock Monkey Mountain

The Monster and the Ape #5 Rocks of Doom Sorry for the skipped week, and thank you all for your patience! Today’s chapter is one filler-ific episode. So much filler. All potatoes and no meat, if you will. For those masochists among you who are following along with the OV Guide version, this episode starts at about 1 hour 27 minutes in. We pick up very near where we left off, which was immediately post fistfight, moments before Ken was allegedly obliterated by an explosion. There’s nothing particularly interesting about the fistfight, except our excitable recap narrator announces his usual, “Suddenly!” about 45 seconds into the fight already in progress, which is a type of “suddenly” I was not previously familiar with. Anyway, as predicted, Ken actually left the cabin before it blew up, contrary to what we saw the week before. Not only that, Ken jumps out a window without even losing his hat — Raiders of the Lost Ark was not conceived out of thin air — and after the explosion, Dr. Arnold just saunters over with mild concern. Debris would be falling everywhere, the remains of the cabin with its now-dead henchmen would be burning furiously, the Metalogen inside setting off small explosions, but do we see this? Nope. Instead, we get a nice day, bit of a breeze, Ken unmussed save for his tie slightly askew. You know what? I’m not going to show this. Not even going to waste time on this fuckery. But I … Continue reading

Regis Toomey for The What A Character! Blogathon

This is the SBBN entry for The What A Character! Blogathon, hosted by Once Upon a Screen, Outspoken & Freckled, and today’s host Paula at Paula’s Cinema Club. There are a ton of terrific articles spanning the three-day ‘thon, so please check them all out! ***   It’s difficult to imagine a more steadfast, hardworking, solid character actor than Regis Toomey. Cast as a policeman in more films than most actors in the Golden Age of Hollywood could list on their entire resume, Toomey worked in Hollywood and on the small screen for five decades, and had one of the most recognizable faces in the business, even if most people never knew his name. Regis Toomey was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the neighborhood of Lawrenceville, in 1898. As a teen, he attended the University of Pittsburgh, pursuing a degree in history and philosophy with an eye toward a law degree, but ultimately pursued a degree in theater. He graduated from Pitt in 1921 and then enrolled in Carnegie Tech’s theater department; in Mary Ellen Stelling’s semi-fictitious memoir A Place to Call Home, she claims Regis, a family friend, “put himself through Carnegie Tech by moonlighting as a traveling salesman.” Given his father was a lawyer and the Toomey family included as their friends at least one sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice, it’s unlikely he needed to moonlight at any job at all. After graduating, he had a successful run on stage in musical comedies. Several sources claim he made … Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Marie!

Marie Prevost as Scheherazade Alberto Vargas, 1921