Prick Up Your Ears (1987)

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Prick Up Your Ears does well in the details, especially when it comes to the collage that Halliwell covers their tiny apartment walls with, but the film also tends to skim the surface of lives that were fascinating and complicated… Continue reading

The SBBN Blogiversary and Begging Post

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She Blogged By Night celebrates its 8th anniversary today, something that is alternately awesome and horrifying. Thank you to those who have stuck around this long! Continue reading

The Hunger (1983)

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Despite being a mainstream, upscale version of the European erotic horror flicks of the 1970s, Tony Scott’s The Hunger goes to unnecessary lengths to distance its vampires from the creatures already well-established in the public’s consciousness. Continue reading

The Last American Virgin (1982)

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Dismissed by many as just another crass teenage sex romp not-so-secretly marketed to pervs a generation older than the stars on the screen, The Last American Virgin (1982), in truth, doesn’t disabuse anyone of that notion during its first half. Continue reading

West of Zanzibar (1928)

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This is the SBBN entry for The Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon, hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. Make sure to click here and enjoy all the fantastic entries! Poster art courtesy Jorday Jaquay on Pinterest. *** Lon Chaney was one of the biggest movie stars of the silent era, a master of disguise whose dedication to his craft was alternately admirable and obscene. Though a true pioneer in the art of movie make-up, his technique bordered on the ludicrous at times. It’s easy to respect his dedication in terms of body manipulation, a dedication that frequently caused him serious pain, but in our modern age, it’s hard to forget that Chaney’s grotesques were nearly always the result of a moral failing. That is, most of the disabled and disfigured characters he played were portrayed as people who deserved their fate because of some past deeds or inner ugliness. Further, these characters differed wildly in appearance, yet so often found themselves in the same basic situations, film after film, that his skill starts to feel, after the fifteenth film about a malformed malcontent pining for a lost love, like gimmick rather than substance. Lon Chaney, Mary Nolan, Warner Baxter and Lionel Barrymore. Photo courtesy George Eastman House, who label Kalla Pasha as “some guy with a beard.”   Some of this cinematic repetition, however, is surely due to Chaney’s frequent collaboration with horror director Tod Browning. For ten films, beginning in 1919 and culminating in 1929, Browning directed … Continue reading

Criminal Court (1946)

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Criminal Court is a tight little noir directed by Robert Wise, starring Tom Conway as a hot-shot attorney who accidentally frames his girlfriend for murder. Continue reading

Hell on Wheels: Roller Boogie (1979) and the Slow Death of Disco

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In a world where parks are full of small, evenly spaced groups of people all wearing skin-tight clothing in bright primary colors, where everyone is required by law to blow dry their hair and wear lip gloss, one recreational sport reigns supreme: roller disco. Voluptuous young Terry Barkley (Linda Blair) is a musical genius — a flautist, the sexiest of all orchestra members — but secretly yearns to become a bohemian roller skater, spending her days gliding up and down Venice Beach in Lurex leotards. There’s just one catch: she doesn’t know how to skate. Within moments of parking her luxury car at a local teen hotspot, she catches the eye of master skater Bobby James (Jim Bray, 1970s roller skating champion). They meet, clash, flirt, clash a little more, and just as they decide they like each other, find themselves having to rescue Jammer Delaney (character great Sean McClory), the owner of the local roller rink. He’s being harassed by a gangster-shaped group of mean dudes, so the only solution, of course, is for Bobby and Terry to win the local roller skating competition. Roller Boogie (1979) is one of the most famous of the several roller disco films and shows that sprung up as the 1970s wound down. The movie was released just one month after the similar Romeo-and-Juliet-plus-skates film Skatetown, U.S.A. had bombed at the box office, though producer Irwin Yablans insisted that his film would not fail like Skatetown had. Roller Boogie would “take the world … Continue reading

King of the Gypsies (1978)

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The scene is set at a gypsy camp in the 1940s, as Zharko Stepanowicz (Sterling Hayden in one of his late-career mandatory beard roles), self-proclaimed King of the Gypsies, demands to be given young Rose (Tiffany Bogart), as he’s already paid $4,000 for her so she can marry his son Groffo (Mark Vahanian). Rose’s parents object and the elder of the clan demands King Zharko leave without either a refund or the girl. But Zharko and his wife Queen Rachel (Shelley Winters) grab the little girl anyway and take off with her. Years pass, and Rose (now Susan Sarandon) and Groffo (Judd Hirsch) are married, with a young son and another baby on the way. Rose is an expert grifter, a fortune teller on the make and a thief, while Groffo is a useless, violent alcoholic. Their son Dave (Eric Roberts) runs off when young, never goes to school, though when older manages to get a job as a singer, as well as a nice girlfriend (Annette O’Toole). Still, he hopes to pursue the proverbial American Dream, and believes that his life as a gypsy has held him back. But after a few years, his grandfather King Zharko tells him that he’s essentially terminal, and he wants to pass on the title of King of the Gypsies to Dave, bypassing Groffo. When Dave inherits the symbolic title, Groffo, his own father, comes after him, as well as his young sister (Brooke Shields) and the rest of the family, and Dave’s … Continue reading

The Outrageous Sophie Tucker (2014)

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The Outrageous Sophie Tucker ★★★✫✫ Director: William Gazecki Menemsha Films (Official Site) 96 Minutes Release: July 24, 2015 (limited) – Sophie Tucker was fabulous, flashy and a born entertainer. A true rags-to-riches story, she started out in Vaudeville in the early 1900s; by the early 1920s, the extraordinary Tucker was a major singing star. Known for her big, jazzy voice, bawdy songs and outrageous fashions, Sophie was exactly as she was billed: The Last of the Red Hot Mamas. She wowed audiences in the United States as well as overseas for over five decades, and though she may have come across as tough and worldly, she also had a natural, easygoing way about her, and could call dozens, perhaps hundreds, of fellow celebrities as friends. Though she is largely forgotten today, William Gazecki’s newest documentary, The Outrageous Sophie Tucker, is sure to raise interest in her once again. Filled with tons of photos and newspaper clippings, Outrageous also features interviews with Tony Bennett, Shecky Greene, Carol Channing, Bruce Vilanch, Barbara Walters and more, along with a few relatives and family friends. Some radio and screen appearances made it to the film, as do a few archival audio interviews, but for the most part, Sophie’s own voice is missing here, which is as disappointing as it is perplexing. Far too much time in Outrageous is spent with producers and biographers Lloyd and Susan Eckart, and their moralizing, errors and lack of professionalism hinder the film in a major way. They make … Continue reading

Wolfen (1981): Now on Blu-ray from Warner Archive

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Burned-out police detective Dewey Wilson (Albert Finney) gets reluctantly called in to investigate the murder of high-profile millionaire Christopher van der Veer (Max M. Brown) in Wolfen, the 1981 sociopolitical horror film directed by Michael Wadleigh. Van der Veer, his wife Pauline (Anne Marie Pohtamo), and their driver Harrison (Jeffery V. Thompson) were found sliced to death in a public park, but police coroner Whittington (Gregory Hines) knows almost immediately that the weapon wasn’t metal. Wilson tosses around a few ideas about synthetic or plastic weapons and ritualized killings, before more dead people start turning up with similar wounds. They’re found all over New York City, however, from all socioeconomic walks of life; as one policeman says, they can’t possibly be connected, because “it’s a big jump from the South Bronx to Wall Street.” But they are connected, says Whittington, because all the victims’ bodies have unidentified hair or fur on them. A trip to local zoologist and wolf lover Ferguson (Tom Noonan) gives Wilson and Whittington their final clue: the fur is lupine, but wolves have been extinct in New York for decades. Still, there are radical elements in New York that would have wanted to take down van der Veer, who owned companies on every continent and had disrupted holy grounds and burial sites many times; as an investigator wryly noted, he was not exactly a friend to all nations. Most recently, he had been planning on developing an area of the South Bronx, coincidentally — or not … Continue reading