Happy Birthday to the Best Shatner We Could Ever Hope For

William Shatner Born March 22, 1931       Courtesy Star Trek Daily Pic                             Detail from the 1967 “Star Blecch” parody Shatner and Nimoy were reading in the pictures above. You can find my Flickr set of all the original artwork by Mort Drucker from this parody here.     This detail of the 1976 Mad Magazine parody courtesy My Star Trek Scrapbook, where you can find the entire “Star Trek: The Musical.”     Kirstie Alley asking herself, “Why didn’t I think of that?”     Album picture courtesy Frank’s Vinyl Museum.     Shatner!    

Roadblock (1951)

There’s probably no such thing as a nice, quiet little film noir, but Roadblock is as close as you can get. It’s likely that director Harold Daniels just stumbled into this low-key style that works so nicely within the genre — Daniels was known for very little except television and those terrible horror flicks that inevitably starred a Chaney or a Carradine — but we’re all thankful, however he arrived at his subdued style, because Roadblock is a real gem of a film. Spiffy credits!   Joe Peters and Harry Miller are two hard-hitting insurance investigators, the old-fashioned P.I. type that became a staple of the noir genre in the late 1940s, who aren’t just partners but pals. When flying home after a job, Joe (Charles McGraw) finds himself as a patsy for the beautiful Diane (Joan Dixon), who uses him to get a discount married rate — and to have another name — on her plane ticket. Irritated but intrigued, Joe lets himself fall for Diane after the plane is forced to land in a small town, where poor Canadian actor John Butler as the hotel manager tries for a down-home Southern Missouri accent but achieves some weird dialect that sounds like Appalachia by way of Brooklyn. Even after Diane tells him that she’s looking for a man with money, the kind of guy who will set her up in a nice place with nice clothes, Joe can’t get her out of his mind. Days later, as Joe follows … Continue reading

Elsewhere This Week

Here’s what I’ve been working on this week here at SBBN and elsewhere, as well as nifty bits of things from around the internets. * The Sandpiper (1965) at Spectrum Culture for the Oeuvre series. It’s not the film’s fault that supporting actor Chuck Bronson became a cultural icon a few years after The Sandpiper, but you still have to laugh at him jabbing away at the nude sculpture, pretending to use Liz as a model; he just destroys the thing, obviously chipping wood away from the finished product, which sadly wasn’t very good to begin with — the nipples were crooked and it looked like Sally Kellerman more than Elizabeth Taylor, anyway. Your chuckles will devolve into full-blown guffaws when he growls, “You gonna seduce him?” to Liz, but that’s okay, you’ll cheer your head off when he punches the hell out of Burton, and if you’re sane, as Burton comes to, you’ll turn The Sandpiper off and go watch Death Wish again. * U Want Me 2 Kill Him? on SBBN. Don’t let the terrible title, occasionally stylized as uwantme2killhim?, turn you off. This is a nice, tight little thriller, with an understated tone that works really well with the subject matter; as Mark (Jamie Blackley) gets further sucked into the strange tales he reads in chat rooms, everything is so downplayed that you wonder if there’s some actual truth there. * The Art of the Steal at Spectrum Culture. Yet another film I liked better than most … Continue reading

Glickman (2013)

Described as the first jock turned broadcaster in history, Marty Glickman began what would become an exceptional sports career while attending high school in Brooklyn. The HBO documentary Glickman (2013), now out from Warner Archive, traces Marty’s path from his difficult childhood to becoming a New York City phenomenon known as the “Flatbush Flash,” for his phenomenal performance in track and field, setting speed records and winning state and national sprinting events. 17-year-old Marty Glickman in 1935.   Marty’s successes in sports were important not just to him and his family, but to the entire community, especially other Jewish kids in New York City. Actor/comedian Jerry Stiller speaks of how Glickman became almost a superhero, a claim borne out by the host of newspaper articles and stories written to capitalize on his popularity. With his amazing ability, it was no surprise Glickman made it to the 1936 Summer Olympics, on the same team as Jesse Owens, Ralph Metcalfe and Sam Stoller, among others. But tensions were high at the Berlin Olympics that year, and the United States almost didn’t attend following protests from a variety of groups concerned that the event would give Adolph Hitler international legitimacy. Apparently most concerned that Jews were not allowed on the German Olympic teams, the U.S. was pacified when a token Jewish athlete was added; once the U.S. agreed to participate, the Jewish athlete was removed from Germany’s roster before the games officially began. During the games, Jesse Owens won three gold medals. Hitler … Continue reading

U Want Me 2 Kill Him? (2013)

U Want Me 2 Kill Him? ★★★★☆ Dir: Andrew Douglas Tribeca Films 92 minutes Released in select theaters March 14, 2014. VOD available on February 25, 2014.   U Want Me 2 Kill Him? opens with a date: June 29, 2003. This date is not merely an indicator of the real life events that inspired it, but to anchor the film to a certain moment in culture, a time when society was still in the early stages of learning to live with a constant, low-level fear after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the kind of paranoia many had hoped would be shaken off permanently at the end of the Cold War. This paranoia is heightened by both the spectre of constant surveillance and its actuality, namely in the CCTV cameras that clutter the London landscape, recording every move. That 16-year-old Mark chooses to stay home is no surprise; what is a surprise is Mark’s willingness to leave his own webcam on constantly, allowing all those he chats with online to watch him as he just walks around his room or does a few sit-ups. Mark never notices that he’s the only one in his online conversations with a webcam on. Even though Mark (Jamie Blackley) has his share of hook-ups, the dames in the world of U Want Me 2 Kill Him? are nothing but trouble, and his true affections are saved for the lovely Rachel, a young blonde he only knows through an internet chat room. Night after night, … Continue reading

Elsewhere This Week

A day late and many, many dollars short, here’s this week’s roundup of my articles written elsewhere, and some links you’ll absolutely enjoy, guaranteed, or triple your money back. * Showing Up (2013) at Spectrum Culture: This documentary is literally nothing but talking heads, yet it is fascinating. If you’re interested in the acting process, or any artistic process, really, I recommend this picture. * Chlorine (2013) at Spectrum Culture: This movie is a mess. Not an unpleasant mess, mind you, but still a mess. — * Cliff Aliperti’s post on Skyscraper Souls at WarrenWilliam.com: I’ve been writing up an article which I hope to be able to link to in the next installment of Elsewhere, and in researching Skyscraper Souls I was reminded of Cliff’s excellent post here. Definitely recommended. * Brooklyn Vegan’s 2008 post on the Mountain Goats set at Bottom of the Hill. Yes, those are panties. Some great video of the entire set is on YouTube (“Dilaudid” will kill you) and the audio can be found on archive.org. * Faye Dunaway’s Comedy Coach: An anecdote. * Header image from Skyscraper Souls, courtesy Carole & Co. — Last week, comedian Jonathan Ross, apparently without the usual vetting, was announced as the host for the Loncon 3 awards ceremony. Many in the sci-fi/fantasy fandom objected to Ross as Hugo Awards MC because of his lengthy list of controversies, including garnering complaints for his expletive-filled hosting gig three months ago at the British Comedy Awards. The SF/F fandom is … Continue reading

The 2014 SBBN Oscar Picks

UPDATE: The Oscars are over and though the ceremonies looked like a lot of fun, you may notice that I didn’t livetweet them as planned. The ABC live feed wasn’t working in my area, though when I tested it a few days ago, it said nothing was on air at the time, leading me to believe the only problem was no programming at that moment. The truth is that it’s not available for our area at all, so that was my mistake, and my apologies to poor Ivan who showed up to see me say silly things about the Oscars. I hope he was able to save himself and switch to another channel before it was too late. As for my predictions, I did not do all that great: 14 out of the 18 I guessed on, though I knew in my heart of hearts that 20 Feet From Stardom was going to win, even if I didn’t want to admit it. But my average? Not great, Bob. And now, a breather until we start to gear up for next year’s Oscars… right after Labor Day. — As mentioned, I’ll be tweeting along with the Oscars Sunday night [1] and thought now, 11 hours before the ceremonies and with about 80% of the movies under my belt, would be a good time to jot down my predictions, along with my wants: BEST PICTURE Want: 12 Years a Slave Will Win: Gravity Gravity was good, but I really felt it borrowed … Continue reading