I record a LOT of movies. Probably around ten per week, more or less. And since I also have to do little things like work, exercise, cook, clean, breathe, etc etc, I don’t always have time to watch them all (never mind write full reviews), so I’ve decided to begin a series of short, capsule reviews for the decades covered here at Cracked Rear Viewer. This will be whenever I find my DVR getting cluttered, which is frequent! I’ll try to make CLEANING OUT THE DVR a bi-weekly series, but there are no guarantees. Monthly is more realistic. Anyway, here are five films from the 1930s to the 1970s for your reading pleasure.
THE CAPTAIN HATES THE SEA (Columbia 1934, directed by Lewis Milestone)
I only recorded this one to satisfy my lifelong obsession with The Three Stooges. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered they’re on the screen for less than ten minutes! The film itself isn’t bad, kind of a GRAND HOTEL at sea involving a cantankerous captain (Walter Connelly), his shady steward (Leon Errol), a dissolute writer (dissolute John Gilbert in his last role), a private eye (Victor McLaglen), an ex-chorus girl (Wynne Gibson), a loudmouthed dowager (Allison Skipworth), and other assorted charecters aboard a luxury liner. Worth seeing for that cast (many of who were Hollywood’s most notorious boozers of the era), or if you’re a hardcore Stooges completist like me. Fun Fact: Supposedly, studio head Harry Cohn sent a telegram to director Milestone complaining of being overbudget. “The cost is staggering”, read Cohn’s missive, to which Milestone replied, “So is the cast!”
GILDERSLEEVE’S GHOST (RKO 1944, directed by Gordon Douglas)
The Great Gildersleeve was a popular radio character who began on Fibber McGee and Molly, then spun off to his own show. Harold Peary played Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, the blustering blowhard with a distinctive voice and goofy laugh. RKO parlayed Gildy’s radio success into a series of four low-budget programmers. GILDERSLEEVE’S GHOST is the last of the bunch, which finds our hero running for police commissioner and running into trouble with a mad doctor, a haunted manor, an invisible girl, and a gorilla on the loose. Most of the laughs come from Nick Stewart (Lightning on The Amos’n’Andy Show) doing his stereotypical scaredy cat schtick. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but amusing if you’re in the right mood. Fun Fact: Marie Blake, who plays the newspaperwoman, was later known as Blossom Rock, Grandmama on TV’s The Addams Family.
UNTAMED YOUTH (Warner Brothers 1957, directed by Howard W. Koch)
Mamie Van Doren had plenty of talent and sex appeal to spare, but never quite cracked the big time. This little gem shows her off to good advantage (in more ways than one!) in a teenage exploitation tale about two vagrant sisters (Mamie and Lori Nelson of REVENGE OF THE CREATURE) who get sent to a prison farm where they pick cotton, get in catfights, uncover corruption, and dance to that crazy rock beat! As Lilibet (Jeanne Carmen) would say, “Chihuahua!” Mamie sings and wriggles, rocker Eddie Cochran (best known for the classic hit “Summertime Blues”) plays Bong and performs “Cottonpicker”, TV’s Lawman John Russel makes a slimy villain, the girls are all good looking, and there’s plenty of wailing sax on the soundtrack. A fun way to waste 80 minutes. Fun Fact: Mamie belts out a tune called “Rolling Stone”. There’s an actor in the cast named Keith Richards. There’s no correlation between this and the birth of The World’s Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band, to the best of my knowledge.
THE TERROR (AIP 1963, directed by Roger Corman and friends)
Legendary low-budgeter shot in two days while sets from Corman’s earlier (and way better) THE RAVEN were being torn down! Boris Karloff and a young Jack Nicholson star in a convoluted plot about a French soldier, an evil Baron, a mysterious woman, an old witch, and ghosts haunting a castle. I’ve seen THE TERROR many times and still can’t figure out what the hell is going on!! The movie strives for a Gothic mood but those American accents just don’t jibe with it. Of course, King Boris could read a milk carton and make it sound ominous. Fun Fact: Francis Ford Coppola, Jack Hill, Monte Hellman, and even co-star Nicholson all had a hand in directing scenes.
THE LAST REBEL (COLUMBIA 1971, DIRECTED BY DENYS MCCOY)
This flavorless Spaghetti Western needs more oregano! NFL bad boy Joe Namath and the always watchable Jack Elam are two ex-Confederate pals who become bitter enemies after sleepy eyed Joe wins a bundle hustling pool, and greedy Jack wants it all. Woody Strode (another ex-athlete) joins them as an ex-slave Joe saves from hanging. THE LAST REBEL meanders along like a lazy mule, with Broadway Joe looking like he’s had one cocktail too many. As an actor, Namath should’ve stuck to the gridiron. Only credit for director McCoy. It’s not hard to understand why. Fun Fact: The anachronistic prog rock score is by Jon Lord of Deep Purple (who belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!! Write your Congressman today!!)
And there you have it. Five Films from Five Decades, all in one place. I’ll be CLEANING OUT THE DVR again in the near future. Stay tuned!
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